Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Turkey Time!

I found this super cute (and free!) turkey crochet pattern on Lion Brand Yarn's website.  You need to create an account to be able to look at their free patterns, but it absolutely free and all they send you is an optional weekly email about new yarns and patterns.  There is also an occasional coupon. 

This pattern was pretty straightforward and took me a little over an hour.  I used cotton ease yarn, which is one of my favorites.  The only slightly difficult part were the gobbler, beak and feet, which was only because they are so small.

Happy 1st Birthday Bailey!

My dear friend Kristin's sweet little baby girl is already one year old!  To celebrate, Mom and Dad had a "cupcake" party, but since they live in GA and I'm all the way in WV,  I missed out on the party.  No cupcakes for me (probably a good thing), but I thought I might go ahead and try to crochet a cupcake to go along with her present.  I also made a matching headband with my first ever attempt at a flower   So Bailey and I are full of "firsts" this month! 
Gracie helped me out with this project but being a headband model.  Hopefully Bailey likes it more than she did.  (The colors aren't really neon, that is just how my iPhone perceived them).  Happy Birthday Bailey!  Eat a cupcake for me!

Monday, November 14, 2011

5x7 Folded Card

Stylish Snowflakes Black Christmas Card
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pasta Peas Weather

I love to eat soup all year round, but when Fall hits I crave it more than usual.  Last week, on a particularly nasty October day, I had a hankering for Denise's pasta peas.  Although this is an Italian recipe, I had never had it until Denise made it for me back in high school.  Still one of my favorites and it is super easy

Here's what you do:

First you saute a whole diced onion and about 6 cloves of garlic in some olive oil.  Then you add two large cans of tomato sauce and about 3 cans of water and a bag of frozen peas.  While that is simmering boil a couple of cups of the pasta of your choice, I use ditalini, but you can use whatever you have in your cabinet.  When the soup has simmered about 30 minutes add pasta.  Serve topped with Parmesan or Romano cheese and with a couple of slices of Italian bread.  Yum!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat

Michael was on call and for some reason or another I decided not to go to Charleston.  I had this pattern for a "Trick or Treat" bag that I wanted to make for my niece, Mia,  for Halloween.  Hard to believe this wasn't as hard as it looked, just a little tedious switching the yarn back and fourth, but when I was done it just wasn't big enough to for a "Trick or Treat" bag.

So I improvised.  Instead of freaking out for the time and effort I put into this guy, I made up my own pattern for closing up the top, stuffed it and added a green stem.  Sorry Mia!  Maybe next year you will get your bag!  This is what happens when I spend a Friday night alone! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan

My all time favorite thing my Grandma made was Eggplant Parmesan, and actually it's not as complicated as you would think to make.  A bit messy and time consuming, but anyone can do it.  Thankfully I had a great teacher ; )

First, make your basic sauce however you like it.  I make mine with garlic, onion, Hunt's Tomato Sauce, fresh or dried basil and parsley, salt and pepper.  While that is simmering, fry your eggplant.  You can slice them either in strips or circles.  I like the way circles look better so that is what I use, but the strips take less time.  Dip the eggplant first in flour, then your egg mixture (with a little Parmesan cheese, milk, salt and pepper) and last your seasoned bread crumbs.  Then place into a skillet with hot extra virgin olive oil, flip when golden on the bottom.  Once done on both side place on small stack of paper towels to drain some of the grease.

Now comes the fun part, you layer it.  First a couple ladle full of your sauce, then your fried eggplant, and finally mozzarella cheese (fresh or shredded).  My grandma also did a layer of the egg mixture over the cheese to hold it together, but it's not absolutely necessary.  Be sure to sprinkle some Parmesan cheese in the layers.  Bake for about 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Let stand at least 30 mins and enjoy!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Do I have something on my face?

Most people are extremely surprised when I tell them my birds love pasta.  Actually, they are usually shocked that I have birds as pets and that they eat any kind of "human food" at all.  Crockett even asks for it, " that good?  Give me that!"  It's a bit rude, but in order to have a well balance diet birds do need more than just seeds.

My birds are not picky eaters, but the both tend to favor different foods.  Crockett absolutely loves asparagus and brussel sprouts and Tuesday favorites are apples, strawberries and broccoli.  They do have one absolute favorite food in common and that is pasta!   This past Friday I shared my dinner with them.  It made for some very happy, yet messy birds  : )

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's just a light switch!

There is something in a spare bedroom in my house that drives me absolutely insane.  The light switch plate is crooked.  Michael tried to fix it when he replaced the switch with no luck and now when I am in that room it is the first thing that my eyes go toward.  It has been that way since I first moved into the house, but it just hit me the other day is the reason that it bothers me so much. 

I grew up with two parents whom were extreme perfectionists, the most severe case being my father, who was a photographer.  We had tons of his work hung around the house and every piece was perfectly centered and absolutely straight.  The only tools I really remember my dad messing with were a hammer, a measuring tape and his level.  He would spend hours making sure that every photograph was hung perfectly.  I would stand by his side holding whatever he needed, sometimes even the ladder in which he only would have one foot on while the rest of his body swung around like a monkey.  I was a very nervous child and remember being terrified that he would fall, but as luck would have it he never did.

So the other day I found myself looking at that stupid light switch and getting so irritated when I started to laugh.  It was as if I could hear my dad finding the humor in that damn switch being crooked, and then I had my epiphany, it didn't matter, not even in the slightest.  I have a wonderful family and amazing friends, a roof over my head, even though sometimes I would like to burn my house to the ground, and my health.  Does everything have to be  Life is so short.  I still wouldn't mind if it magically straightened out though ; )

Damn Squirrels!

Two years ago I purchased my first blackberry bush.  It takes two years for them to produce fruit so I thought I would be smart and plant a second bush the following year, then eventually I would get a decent amount of blackberries.  It's a long time investment, so I was delighted in June when I notice my first couple of berries growing.  And right before I went on vacation in the end of June I noticed at least 10 berries which I guessed would be ready when I returned from my trip.  My big surprise was when I got home, not only were they ripe, but they had also already been "sampled."  The damn squirrels had taken a bite out of all but one!  Didn't even bother to eat the whole thing!  Grrrr!  So two years of waiting, this was my only survivor.  Not not even going to go into what they did to my tomatoes! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

"A" for Asher!

Our friends Brad and Kelli are expecting a baby boy this November.  Kelli is doing the baby's room in animals and I really didn't want to do another monkey since I made one not too long ago for Maddox.  Had to be special  : )  So I found this "baby gorilla" pattern and I will be the first to say that mine does not look like the picture or even a gorilla for that matter, but I guess it's the thought that counts.  I adjusted the pattern some and omitted the pole part.
The bib on the other hand was pretty easy and there are several different free patterns for baby bibs online.  For the "A" I made a chain of single crochets and sewed it on to the front of the bib.  The "button" is a small circle that I securely attached for the closure.   
Can't wait to meet you Asher!  Congrats to Brad, Kelli and Kyler!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Spoiled Pups!

Gracie's best friend Chloe's Momma made some Elvis Pupsley's Muffins and was gracious enough to share some with Grace-Face.  Needless to say Gracie went absolutely crazy over these homemade goodies!  Here she is licking her chops.  Thanks for sharing Chloe! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011


So my garden has had a rough year, but fortunately there were some survivors.  The other day I found a tomato and a small handful of green beans ready to be picked. I ended up making a tomato and green bean salad mixed with feta cheese, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. I blanched the green beans, meaning I put them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then tossed them into iced water to "shock" them.  This way they aren't raw, but keep their fresh color.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Happy Italians!

 I made a stop at our mini-farmer's market downtown this past Friday.  I wasn't really looking for anything in particular, but I spotted these orange and yellow sweet banana peppers (3 for .75) and decided that I wanted to attempt to make stuffed peppers.  I have made stuffed bell peppers with ground beef and rice several times and didn't figure this would too much different, but in fact it ended up being a lot easier.

I'm not much of a sausage eater, but Michael loves it, so we compromised on 3 with sausage and 3 with a ricotta and zucchini mixture (the zucchini also from the farmer's market for .50)  I made a sauce with olive oil, tomato paste and sauce, garlic, onion, bell pepper seeds and fresh basil from my garden (and no cheese which is weird for Michael and I).

While that simmered I mixed the sausage with and egg and some  mozzarella, stuffed the peppers and made meatballs with what was left.  For the ricotta mixture I added zucchini, an egg and some spices.  Put the peppers in a olive oiled pan with the sauce and baked in the oven uncovered at 350 for about an hour.  We ate it with rosemary bread that Michael picked up at Sam's Club and an antipasto plate which was inspired by freshly ripened tomato and basil from my garden.  Yum!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

M is for Maddox

My friend Mandy is expecting her second son, Maddox Blaze, this August.  Instead of a typical shower with toilet paper-diapers and bottles, we all went out to dinner and most importantly, brought presents.

The theme of Maddox's room is monkeys so I decided to take on a new challenge.  I found this pattern for this little guy online (for free) and he actually wasn't too complicated.  It took me about 6 hours in total and only minor frustration.  I used Lion Brand Yarn-Cotton Ease, which is super baby friendly and most importantly washable!  There are many different ways you can style this little guy, but I decided to keep it simple and make him the colors of Maddox's room.  You can't tell by the picture, but he has a navy blue strip on his shirt. 

The only downfall of this pattern is that is requires many different skeins of yarn, which doesn't make him cheap.  Although I have more than enough yarn to make him a friend if I ever decide to make another one. 
My boyfriend is dying for me to start selling these on Etsy, but honestly after one I am done for awhile. 

Congrats to Mandy, Aaron & Keller on their upcoming arrival!  : )


A couple of weeks ago Michael and I made our first attempt at paella.  I'm not going to say it was a total failure, but we have some work to do!  At least it looks pretty : )

Last year when we went to the Dominican Republic, we both had paella for the first time and completely feel in love!   Yum!  I made friends with a Cuban woman from Boca Roton, FL who assured us that it was super easy to make and that all you needed was a good pan.  She suggested on from William Sonoma which was gasp....$315....WAY out of our price range.  Apparently I forgot the fact that my Cuban friend was loaded.  So instead I ordered Michael one for Christmas last year from World Market, for less than $15, which suited us just fine!

My Cuban friend was right, it wasn't too hard.  First you saute the peppers, tomatoes and onions and then made a stock.  After both veggies and stock were done you combine the two.  Add rice and simmer, then add seafood and bake in the oven or cook on the grill.  Finally, garnish with parsley and lemons, or whatever your recipe calls for.  

The trick apparently is getting the rice just rice.  Our local grocery store of course didn't have Spanish rice so we had to us Arboria.  One of the many faults of living in an uncultured city.  I shouldn't blame the rice completely, but it was the rice that we didn't like.  Better luck next time!

I'm not going to post the recipe for this, because like I said it needed work, and I know that there is a much better one out there!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Pig House Came to Town!

I have lived in Huntington for 10 years now, and in all that time my Weirton family had not been to visit me, not once.  Finally, after years of begging they came!  My house was completely filled to the max, Pat, Denise, Jenn, Mia & Gianna and Michael was also in from Charleston.  I took them to a children's art festival and then we had a "party" for Mia's 5th Birthday.  It was a hectic blast, just the way we like it : )  Hopefully it won't be another decade before they make another trip! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


My grandma always talked so fondly about how my grandpa always enjoyed his first tomato of the season right from his garden.  He would take his Morton salt with him and bite into it like an apple.  I remember partaking in this with him and thinking that he had a "special" kind of salt and to this day, even though I know better, it is the only type of salt I buy. 

After nothing but months of rain, I had only one tomato pop out early this year.  I treated my little survivor like a baby, and when it was finally ready I dragged it to Charleston with me so that Michael could be apart of the tradition (Gracie had a piece too).  We had it for a midnight snack (hence the pj's) and it was a fabulous as it looks!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Something Old, Something New

About a month or so ago I stopped into the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to donate a couple of things.  This was Michael's first trip there and he was completely overwhelmed with the amount of "stuff" they had and how reasonable it was.  We came across this headboard ($15), which I wanted to paint white and stick in my guest room, but Michael thought it would look better if we refinished it and stained it dark.  I agreed, but dreaded the extra work.  It was his plan to do it, but between his crazy work schedule and my expected company I went ahead and did it myself. 

I completely forgot to take a before picture, which sucks, but you can get a small idea of what it looked like before from the back of the headboard.  First I used a stain remover which I also bought at the ReStore for $10 and I still have over half left.  All I did was pour it on, let it sit for minute and scrub it with steel wool.  It took a couple of times, but this entire process took me less than 30 minutes. 

Next I went out it with my mouse, sander that is.  I started with a medium grade sandpaper and worked my way down.  This was actually kind of fun and only took about 15 minutes.  It would have taken less time, but there were a few nicks and dings I wanted to rub out. 

After being sanded, I wiped it down with a wet cloth and let it dry in the sun before staining.  The framing took two coats.  The inset part took a little longer because after it was stripped I discovered that it was particle board and not actually wood.  I did several layers, which took awhile to dry,  but I am super pleased with the way it turned out!

Every good carpenter needs a helper!  Gracie sunbathed while Mommy worked.  Michael did come to Huntington in time to help me connect it to the bed frame.  In total this project cost me less than $25 and I still have half a gallon of stripper left.  Not to mention one less thing in a landfill!  Now I just need something on the walls....

It's Grilling Time!

I have been harassing my boyfriend for months about trying to grill a pizza.  Well the stars finally came into alignment...we had one day with nice weather when Michael was actually in Huntington.  So I finally got my wish!

Grilled Apple & Pork Pizza:
1 12" pizza crust (we used Boboli, maybe later we will try homemade)
olive oil
1/2 lb boneless pork loin chops
1/4 Granny Smith apple
1/2 c BBQ sauce
1 c goat cheese
fresh parsley

Preheat grill to medium heat for about 10 minutes.  In the meantime, season pork and either cook on grill on in a skillet and slice thin.  Slice apple and place on grill for about 2 minutes, until tender. 

Spread BBQ sauce over crust, then add pork, apples, cheese and parsley.  Place pizza on grill four about 8 to 10 minutes. 

(This one had a little accident, I won't mention any names, but it was a lot prettier when it went on the grill, still tasted great!)

Thai Shrimp Pizza:
1 12" pizza crust
olive oil
1 c small raw shrimp cleaned
1/2 c green onion sliced
1 carrot cut julienne
1/4 c fresh cilantro chopped
1/2 c mozzarella cheese grated

Peanut Sauce:
1/4 c fresh lime juice with pulp
2 T sodium soy sauce
2 T green onion minced
1 T fresh cilantro minced
2 T crunchy peanut butter
1 T olive oil
1 T brown sugar
1 tsp fresh ginger minced
1/2 tsp lime zest grated
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic minced

Preheat grill to medium heat.  Combine lime juice, soy sauce, onion, cilantro, peanut butter, oil, brown sugar, ginger, lime zest, red pepper flakes and garlic in a small pot or sauce pan.  Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally.  One warm add shrimp and stir gently until pink. 

Reduce grill heat to low. Brush grill rack with olive oil. Using the indirect grilling method, slide pizza crusts on grill and cook until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes until lightly browned.  Turn pizza crusts over. Top browned side of pizza crusts with shrimp mixture with liquid to preference. Sprinkle with green onions, carrot sticks and cilantro and cheese.  Cover with grill lid and heat pizzas about 5 minutes or until crust is golden on bottom.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Babies and Lambies! XOXOX

My adopted-like brother David and his wonderful wife Jenny are quickly approaching the birth of their first child, Dominic DiBello.  I swore I was done with crocheting baby blankets, but since David's sister Jenn got one for each of her girls, I couldn't let little Baby "D" come into the world without one!  Whatever would he think of his crazy Aunt Carly!?!

Unlike my dear friend Jenn (David's Sister), Jenny knew what colors and the theme of the baby's room right away, which was a huge help on my end.  She said she was basing the colors of the room around this super cute lamb quilt at Pottery Barn Kids.  So then I decided to challenge myself with another project which was the crocheted lamb. I found a free pattern on another blog site called Harugurumi.  Although it wasn't super hard, I highly doubt I will be making another one in my future!
Now all we need is the baby!  Congrats David & Jenny!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Bread!

As an Italian tradition my family always had three things for Easter.  The first was "ham pie" which is similar to a quiche with ham, cheese and egg.  The second is "rice pie" which is a simple sweet lemon flavored pie with rice and ricotta.  And the third, which is my favorite, "Easter bread."  This bread, also called "sweet bread," was always my favorite thing to eat at Easter.  My Grandma, Great Aunt Rita and Great Uncle Joe, totally mastered the art of making this delightful light and sweet bread, but I unfortunately have not.  So this year I thought I would try and give it another go.  It was semi successful, but in the end....better luck next year!  Like my Mom said, "at least you tried."

Easter Bread Recipe: (makes 3-8" loaf pans)
1 package dry cake yeast
1 stick oleo (butter)
1 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 c milk
2 eggs
1/2 bottle lemon extract
4-5 cups of raisins (I used 5)
raisins (optional)

To start off you activate the yeast by adding 1/4 c of warm water and a tsp of sugar.  If the yeast is active it will double in size in less than 10 mins, if this does not happen toss it and try a new packet.  While you wait for your yeast to activate, measure your ingredients and add to the center of your flour (mix the salt with the flour first)like a "nest."  Then add the activated yeast and knead with your hands.  This dough is extremely STICKY so try to coat your hands with flour first.  You can also remove dough on your hands by rubbing them together with some flour. 

Once your dough is kneaded form a ball the best you can, cover the bowl with a dish towel or two and stick it in a warm place to rise.  If it is not warm it will not rise!  You want it to be at least 70 degrees.  It will take the dough awhile to rise, you want it to DOUBLE in size, mine took about two hours. 

Then you punch down the dough and and put in your pans.  You want to fill the pans about half way.  This time I did one loaf pan and some Texas sized muffin pans.  Cover again and let rise again until. 

Once it rose for the second time you bake it for 20 mins in a 325 degree oven.  After 20 mins, brush the top of the loaves with a combination of egg yolk and water and return to the oven for an additional 5 mins.  This is what makes it shinny and a little golden.  You can test the bread to see if it is done by tapping it out of the pan and knocking on the bottom of it.  It should sound hollow and be golden on the bottom.  Here is my finished product, ready to go to Michael's Grandma's.  We won't talk about what happened to the loaf, like I said, "better luck next year."