Organizing My New Year

Blogged under Crafting a Career by Tammy on Wednesday 31 December 2008 at 9:54 am

I’ve been away for a few days from the blog working on school stuff. I know. I know. I’m supposed to be on vacation, which is exactly what was going through my head as I was working, but I decided to revamp and reorganize one of my classes for next semester. It’s a composition class I’ve taught for years, and while I do change things now and then, I hadn’t done a total reworking of it in some time. It’s not that things weren’t working, but I get bored doing the same thing semester after semester. I can’t help myself. I’m basically done except for some very minor items, so today I’m turning my reorganization bug towards my office/studio. It is to the point that I really can’t make any jewelry because there’s just crap everywhere! How that happens I have yet to figure out, but it does.

This past summer I started migrating most of my supplies into one room rather than have it all over the house, concentrating especially on pulling it out of the family room, which we are now renovating. Because most of the time I write about what I’m making, it just makes sense to have most of my supplies and tools here near my computer rather than having to haul items back and forth constantly. This means going through about 20 years worth of collected craft supplies, and though it is taking me a long time to get through it all, I’m glad I’ve done it. Along with getting organized, at least partially, I have started de-stashing, selling some items on Etsy and giving other items away. In fact, I have a box full of DVDs and videos I have reviewed over the years packed up and plan to get these out to the little something group after the holidays when the post office won’t be so scary.

Here’s one box that I recently packed up from my supplies in the family room. I literally just grabbed items and stuffed them into a big box. Eventually, this box-o-junk will turn into….

Organized and easy to locate supplies filed in plastic boxes with labels to boot! This is at least one area of my office/studio that I’ve managed to get under control. My vision is for the rest of it to look similar to this. But, yes, I’ve got a long way to go. Speaking of which, I better get my figures off the keyboard if I want to see the top of my workbench today!

Here’s wishing all of you a wonderful (organized) 2009!

Craft Some Special Snuggles

Blogged under Charity Crafting, Getting Craft Work Published by Tammy on Sunday 28 December 2008 at 11:16 am

Doesn’t this cute kitty look snug and secure in his Crochet Snuggle Tubbie? This is just one of the free project ideas offered at the Snuggles Project website for those interested in stitching and then donating blankets and other items like the tubbie pictured to animal shelters. The Snuggles Project is one of a number of projects initiated by Hugs for Homeless Animals, a non-profit group dedicated to helping homeless animals.

What I like about this project, besides the fact that I’m a huge dog and cat lover, is that it is very doable for someone like me. I do give to a few local shelters as far as monetary donations as well as the Human Society, but I’d like to do more without getting over my head as far as time commitments. This way, I can make and donate items on my own schedule.

The organization offers a world-wide shelter directory to help locate shelters in your area, and I was able to find a number that are nearby. Again, this is a plus to me because I really like the idea that I’m helping out in my local area. I know there are charities all over the world, but if I can help on a local level I’d rather do that first.

I’m still planning to work on items for the Linus organization, but I think these are both worthy charities. I think the hardest part will be getting something like this little tubbie out of the house because I can imagine that my own cats would love something like this.

Crafting a Room, Switching to Plan B for Flooring

Blogged under My Crafty News by Tammy on Saturday 27 December 2008 at 7:19 pm

DH and I did some research today concerning our home improvement project. The plan was to check out the flooring company and then onto look at TVs. There is only one dealer withing a billion mile radius of our home that is a marmoleum distributor. I had called the place a few times asking questions, directions to the store, and hours of operation. However, when we showed up today, it was closed even though they were supposed to be open on Saturdays. As we sat there in the parking lot, we noticed the place looks like it originally took up a good chunk of the shopping plaza only it now is housed in one small unit. This gave us an uneasy feeling, and so that along with the fact that this flooring isn’t cheap (around 4 to 8 dollars a square foot) and isn’t exactly easy to purchase made us turn to plan B. What is plan B? Good question!

Whatever our flooring decision is going to be, however, we plan to purchase from a company that we know will be around for awhile and that offers standard materials so we know we can go buy it whenever we are ready to install. Right now, we are considering either Pergo or some kind of tile-type vinyl, and more than likely, we’ll get it from the Home Depot down the road. I know a number of folks who have Pergo and have been very happy with it, and that’s sort of where I’m leaning at this point.

TV shopping was more productive. We stopped by Sam’s and Best Buys. I thought Sam’s would be considerably cheaper, but I was wrong. Some prices were the same, and some were actually a little cheaper at Best Buys. Of course, with Sam’s we could actually pick the TV and bring it home on the same day. Best Buys was out of a lot of merchandise, and we were told they’d have to order the model we were interested in, a 52 inch Samsung LCD.

We collected a lot of good data today, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that TV in the room way before we even figure out what to do about the floor. It sure was a nice one!

One other issue we discovered today was the alarming number of businesses that seem to be closed. We aren’t big shoppers, and to do any major shopping around here means a trip either to the county north or south of us. Today we headed south, and along US1 we noticed numerous shopping strips that are now empty as well as restaurants, even a Wendy’s, that are boarded up. I guess it’s a sign of the times, which is sad.

Craft Bloggers Unite 12/26/08

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Friday 26 December 2008 at 12:21 pm

The party is over - for now at least. Though I did make a quick trip to the vet and Michael’s, we are chilling out now for the most part as we eat leftovers and put away gifts. I was surprised to see very few cars on the road during my early morning quick trips, so I’m guessing I’m not the only one who decided to stay home and enjoy crafting and cruising the net today. Many of my blog buddies are also enjoying some down time but still have some interesting posts to offer us today.

The Impatient Crafter
Join Madge for her final free holiday craft project, an idea you can store away for next year!

Cross Stitch at About.com
Stitch Connie’s Cross Stitch Tile Patterns individually, repeat motifs to create a border or bookmark, or collect several charts and create your own sampler.

Layers Upon Layers
Cyndi shares the steps to creating a simple quilt using a vacation photo!

About Family Crafts
Here are 50, simple winter related activities for you to try - everything from simple arts and crafts projects to tasty snacks.

Aileen’s Musings
Aileens shares her tasty pretzel perfect recipe and offers you a treat for New Years-free shipping!


Crafty Princess Diaries

The Crafty Princess is excited about the fact that crochet is becoming more and more popular these days, catching up to knitting finally!

Stefanie Girard’s Sweater Surgery
Check out a GIANT Christmas tree made from the GIANT Spider web, one made from shopping carts and a fun inside peek and interview with Rosemary Hill, author of Elements of Style: Knit + Crochet Jewelry with Wire, Fiber, Felt + Beads.

Buroche Burger Pictures

Blogged under Yada, Yada, Yada by Tammy on Thursday 25 December 2008 at 11:58 am

We had some surprising success with the Buroche Burgers, and I took pictures. First, here’s the pot with the meat, cabbage, onions, salt, and pepper. We mad these very peppery because that’s how I remember them and we both love pepper. However, you could use any spices you like, and just make them to your taste. At first there will seem to be a lot of cabbage in the pot, but it cooks down over time.

Now, here is my DH rolling out the dough and cutting it into squares. Yes, there is flour all over the place!

Next you are supposed to add a generous amount of filling in the middle of the dough squares. This dough is pretty hardy, so we discovered that you can really stuff a lot of the filling in them without worrying about any of it leaking out.

At this point, we had a difference of opinion. The original recipe from my aunt says, “Pull up corners and pinch closed.” But, when you do this the dough seemed to have issues with staying closed, and from what I remember, you didn’t see the pinched parts of the dough after they were baked. Instead, the burger would look more like a dinner roll, all round on top. But DH was concerned that if we flipped them the bottoms might not be sturdy enough.

After talking with my mom and sister this morning, who have both made these before, they agreed that you pinch the dough and put that part face down on the sheet when baking, so ours ended being upside down I guess. Our first batch wasn’t all that aesthetically pleasing, but tasted fabulous!

Our next batch looked a little better, and also tasted great! Yum!

I’d love to know where this recipe actually originated from. I googled it, but the only thing that came up was my blog or other people linking to my blog post about Buroche Burgers. According to my mother, my Aunt Alice learned to make these while living in Germany. The name does not sound German to me at all, but of course, we are probably butchering the pronunciation.

If you are daring enough to try this recipe, let me know. We both loved them and even had them for breakfast this morning, an unusual but tasty Christmas breakfast!

Buroche Burgers, Dip, & Crafting Some Holiday Snacks

Blogged under Yada, Yada, Yada by Tammy on Wednesday 24 December 2008 at 9:48 am

I have to admit that I’m not much of a cook. I pretty much live off of Lean Cuisine. However, I’m very lucky to have married a man who not only enjoys cooking but is actually very good at it, and he often asks me what I’d like for him to cook. Today, we are both home from work, so we decided to do mainly finger foods throughout the day.

Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Dip (pictured) is from a recipe my sister turned me on to at KraftFoods.com. She made it for a get together we had last weekend, and it was fantastic! She did alter the recipe a little, however, adding in some sour cream along with mayo to help with the consistency a little. We plan to serve this up with some Dorito Scoops and carrot slices. Yum!

The other finger food is a recipe called Buroche Burgers. I pronounce it Ber-aw-chee, and I have no idea where this recipe originated, but it’s been a family favorite for years. In fact, I haven’t had these in years, but my grandmother used to make them now and then. I remember one family reunion at her home in Colorado where she must have made a zillion of these. I’ll try to get a picture of them, but basically, they are sort of like hamburgers with the dough all around the meat. The meat is very spicy and includes onions and cabbage in with the ground meat, which you place precooked inside the dough and bake. Per my Aunt Alice, here’s the recipe:

Buroche Burgers

Dough: 2 pkgs dry yeast
2 cups warm water
½ cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1 egg
¼ cup Mazola oil
6 to 6 ½ cups flour

Dissolve yeast in 2 cups warm water. (I dissolved my yeast in ¼ cup of water first, then added the rest of the water). Add sugar, salt and about half of the flour. Beat w/mixer 2 minutes. IMPORTANT. Then add egg beaten and Mazola oil. BEAT WELL. Work in rest of flour and hands until dough is smooth. Oil top of dough, cover and put in refrigerator for 2 hours or longer if you can’t get to it.

Meantime make filling

1 onion chopped
2 lbs hamburger
1 small head cabbage, shredded fine
salt and lots of pepper and other seasoning

Brown meat and onion in large frying pan. Drain off fat. Put cabbage on meat and stir in. Steam mixture until cabbage is tender.
Roll out part of dough at a time to about 1/3” thickness cut into 4” squares. Pour large spoonful of meat mixture on each square. Pull up corners and pinch closed. Bake on slightly greased cookie sheet at 350 about 20 minutes.

Made 14 large – dough was real sticky before it was refrig – ok though – did add ½ or so more flour

As I said, I have no idea where this originally came from, though my grandmother adapted many of her recipes from an old Betty Crocker book.

Our third and final snack of the day is a dish I could even make, Deviled Eggs with Caviar on top. If you have never tried caviar, then you are missing out, and it is excellent with eggs because they help balance the saltiness of the caviar.

In between all this eating, I plan to continue working on the baby blanket, which is about at the half way mark. I’m now thinking that it might need some kind of trim around it, but we’ll see once I get to the end how I feel. The yarn is so super soft that I’m thinking the blanket could use something to help structure it a little more.

Anywho, I hope you are also planning on a day of food, family, and fun.

Crochet Is Heating Up

Blogged under Crafty Products by Tammy on Tuesday 23 December 2008 at 7:29 pm

I know that crochet is starting to catch up to knitting as far a popularity, but I thought it was very telling that in the past two days I have discovered that two long-distance friends of mine also crochet. These are gals I’ve known forever, and while we’ve had a lot of discussions about various topics, for whatever reason, this topic never made its way into the conversation. In fact, I only learned about their crochet ways because one of them gave me an awesome crocheted afghan for Christmas, and the other one I saw had posted pictures of a project she’s working on over at her Facebook page.

Pictured is a yarn trainer I purchased as a little thank you in reciprocation for the afghan. I’ve never used one of these, but now I am thinking of going back to the Knitting Warehouse site and ordering one for myself too. Sometimes I do roll my yarn before I start a project, but I really hate doing that. This little gadget looks like it would let me skip that step. Plus, I have to say that my cats are often mesmerized by the strings of yarn coming from the ball, and I have to constantly tell my dogs that no, this is not a ball for them to play with.

Mother Bear and Knit One, Save One

Blogged under Charity Crafting by Tammy on Monday 22 December 2008 at 2:52 pm

I found a few more charity organizations to contribute to for those who knit or crochet. First, there’s the Mother Bear Project. They provided donated hand-made bears to comfort children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations. Basically, this is how it works: you send them $5 for the pattern and the money goes towards the cost of shipping all the bears (mainly to Africa and Haiti). They ask you to use a specific pattern and then personalize it, but they don’t want anyone making up their own bears without using the basic pattern provided. You can find more info about that on the FAQ page.

Another program you may be interested in is sponsored by Save the Children and is called Knit One Save One. The idea is to distribute hand-knitted or crocheted baby hats to children around the world since keeping newborns warm is an essential element to keeping them healthy. This looks like an obviously worthwhile project, but I was concerned that when you are asked to download what they term an “action kit,” you have to give all kinds of personal information, and there includes a line that says by downloading the kit you give permission to allow them to send you future emails. I find that a little frustrating, but if that kind of thing doesn’t bother you, then it might be a good group to become involved with. Like I said, I like the cause, just not thrilled with the set up on line.

Do you do any charity crafting or know of a group that could use them help? Let me know about them or include some info in a comment.

Boycott Marley & Me If You Are a Dog Lover

Blogged under Yada, Yada, Yada by Tammy on Sunday 21 December 2008 at 7:25 pm

Normally, I like to keep things fairly light around here, and of course, write about crafts, but after seeing the one-zillionth commercial last night about the new movie coming out this Christmas called Marley & Me, as a dog lover, I feel compelled to blog about it. This movie, starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, is based on the book by the same title, and I read it a few years ago when I was working in the local library. It was a very popular book and had a picture on the front of an adorable lab, so I was suckered in. At first, I found it pretty funny because I also have had a few lab or lab mixes over the years as pets (Rocky-BooBoo is showing his stuff off at the top of this blog post in fact), and while they are the most loving dogs ever created, they are probably one of the most difficult to train as well.

The more I read, the less I laughed and the more I cried. The characters, which are supposedly based on a real life experience of the author, were not just stupid but actually cruel to Marley. In one scene, the wife is dealing with postpartum depression. The husband comes home to find her freaking out and literally beating the dog with her fists. Other scenes have them closing him up for hours in a garage all alone, only later to find something he’s destroyed because he is scared to be alone in the garage during a thunderstorm. (This takes place in Florida, so hello! We have a lot of storms down here folks!)

How is any of this funny? Who would want to see a movie like this, let alone put money in the pocket of the person who abused this dog and the Hollywood industry that wants to also make a buck off of it?

Finally, to top it off, the story ends when the family, now with the addition of children, decides that they want to go to Disney on a family vacation, but then there’s the dog who is now old and ill. What are they to do? Well, of course, they decide to put the dog down so they can go see Mickey Mouse, makes perfect sense to these cold and horrible people.

Other than the fact that this story is sick, my real concern is the many people who may watch the movie and think, “He is so cute. We should get a dog!” Considering this book was a best seller and now turned into a major motion picture, obviously a majority of people think the treatment of this dog was okay, that pets are throw-away objects to be discarded when we tire of them or find them inconvenient. By releasing this movie during the holiday season, this could very well mean more incompetent, cruel people might decide to buy that little puppy with the red ribbon around its neck without realizing that puppies turn into full grown dogs in just a few years, and along the way that means lots of chewing, barking, barfing, peeing, and general destruction along with lots of unconditional, unquestioning love and loyalty.

Anyone who claims to be a dog lover, I merely asked that you boycott this movie and the book, which is now coming out in reprints. And if you know of anyone who is thinking about seeing the movie, feel free to pass along the URL to this post or better yet point them to the many bad reviews posted on Amazon.com from readers who felt exactly like I do.

What’s Pink & Purple & Soft All Over? A Baby Blanket!

Blogged under Charity Crafting, Fiber Fun by Tammy on Sunday 21 December 2008 at 10:22 am

I finally have enough blanket to show off along with an idea of what stitches I’m using for this one. I’m using a combination of double crochet and what’s called a rib stitch, which is basically either double or single crochet but instead of going through both loops you go through the back one. This creates a rib or 3D affect, which is pretty cool looking. I like the dimension created by this stitch, but I thought doing the entire blanket in it would be a little too much, so I came up with the following alternating pattern of stitches: *2 double rib rows, 10 single rib rows, 2 double rib rows, 10 double crochet rows, and then repeat from *.

It took me awhile the get the tension right between getting used to the rib stitch as well as the yarn I’m using, which is super soft and has a tiny thread of a ribbon type fiber going through it. I’m not thrilled with the first few rows, but hopefully, when I’ve finished it, washed, and then blocked the blanket, it will look okay.

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