Simple advice for a better life.

Crocheting Project – Baby Set

Baby Gift SetI enjoy doing so many different things, which makes it quite difficult to juggle my already very busy schedule.  I love culinary arts, creative arts, performing arts, some sports,  and admire everyone’s talent, who creates beautiful things out of simple supplies.

I embroidered an Easter outfit for my granddaughter this past spring, so now the time has come to make something special for my, very soon to join us, grandson.  We are extremely excited, and anxiously awaiting his arrival.

What can bring more love and satisfaction than making something with your own hands, and throughout the whole process keeping that person in mind, and close to your heart?

I have decided to try my crocheting skills, which I have learned at the age of 12, by watching my sister crochet her own black fishnet stockings (some of you might remember that style….), and a matching pair of gloves (I wanted to wear them so badly, but she guarded them pretty well).

I do crochet now and then, without following any specific instructions, but rather creating my own designs.  However, last fall I actually took a crocheting class and learned few new patterns (the blanket reflects one of them).

So, here are the items I have crochet for our baby grandson:

Baby blanket

A very soft baby blanket.

Baby hats in two sizes

Baby hats in two sizes, one for a newborn, and the other one for 3-6 months.

Booties

A pair of booties, to keep his toes nice and toasty.

These booties took probably as long to complete, as the whole blanket, since it was more challenging to figure out the correct shape, but with determination, and perseverance, I was finally satisfied with the outcome.   I tried to find instructions for this pattern, but without success, so I decided to “wing” it, and these are the results.

I did not write down my instructions, so this project will remain one of a kind, however, I would like to share  that I used two skein , 50z each, of   Softee Baby yarn , by Bernat, and the hook size for the blanket is H, and for the booties and hats, is G.

Bunch of Balloons for Boy Baby ShowerBaby showers are so much fun.  So much excitement and so many cutesy baby items to admire, and to  ooohhh and aaahhh about.

You already had the pleasure of reading about a baby shower with a girl’s theme, and now you will find out about a baby shower with a boy’s theme.

This one was for my son and daughter-in-law, as they are expecting their first baby boy, which will make me a proud grandma for the second time.  I am ecstatic, and can’t wait to meet the little fellow.

Lots of preparations were made by members from both sides of the family, and it was a fun party, with lots of delicious food prepared by Giando on the Water in Brooklyn, NY.

View from Giando's Restaurant

Gorgeous view of Manhattan from the restaurant,

Baby Shower Party Room

and fully decorated baby shower party room.

Hanging out baby laundry from the bridge

Hanging out baby laundry from the bridge

The decor theme was “Onesies”, which  was also reflected in the invitations, as well as one of the games, where everyone was invited to express their ideas by decorating a Onesie.

Onesies decorating suppliesBaby Onesies decorating contest - 7

All the decorated Onesies were so adorable, that ALL qualified to be the winners, so the prizes were awarded to the youngest “artists”.  This project was definitely lots of fun for everyone.  I highly recommend it for your baby shower.

Centerpiece - Soft Cudly BearCenterpiece - Cutsie ChickyCenterpiece - Monkey

For the table centerpieces, we used various stuffed animals attached to bunches of balloons,  and the start up kits for decorating the Onesies.

I created a Diaper Cake, out of 150 Pampers diapers, plus some small baby items.  To express the theme of the baby’s room decor accents, I used a plush monkey paying a guitar, as the cake topper.

The book  “Curious George” was my son’s favorite baby book, hence his admiration of monkeys, and idea for a theme of their son’s room decor.

Diaper cake 1

Here are the close up pictures of the different decorations on each layer of the Diaper Cake:

Diaper cake center of first layer Diaper cake -  center of second  layer

Pacifier with a soccer ball emblem (very appropriate for this year’s World Cup Soccer), and a monkey baby rattle,

Diaper cake -  center of third  layerDiaper cake -  center of fourth  layer

More baby rattles, teeter, and soft tip baby spoons (registry items).

Did you notice the monkeys on the ribbon?

Aren’t they adorable?

Diaper cake -  cake topper - Rock'n Monkey

Last, but not least, the famous monkey with his “Rockstar” guitar.

Baby Onesis Cookie favors

For party favors, there were individually wrapped special baby cookies, in the shape of Onesies, of course.

4 different onesie patterns Cute expressions

 

template for baby shower favors - for web

Also, bottles of hand soap, dressed up in Onesies.  My daughter is very much into stamping and scrap-booking, so all her tools and ideas helped out tremendously, as well as her time.  She’ll make a great aunt!

Since many of you requested a template of the Onesie soap bottle cover, I decided to attach it here.

Please note the length of the onesie template should be TWICE the height of the soap bottle, to cover both sides of the bottle.

TIP: By constructing your own Diaper Cake, you will save a bundle of money, as these cakes can be quite expensive, especially if they have several tiers and use so many diapers, plus the miscellaneous decorations.

Also, preparing your own favors, especially if you are lucky enough to have coupons to purchase your supplies, you can cut the cost down as well.  Of course, it takes imagination,  lots of preparation time, TLC and personal touches.

Free Tomatoes and Potatoes

Big Boy tomatoesIt is very relaxing and rewarding to plant your own herbs and vegetables.  You don’t even have to have a “green thumb” for planting these vegetables, and fruits, as you most likely will correct me, and call a tomato a fruit, rather than a vegetable.

I feel that some plants require much more care than others.  I have a hard time planting onions and carrots, as for some reason they just do not turn out as nice and appealing as the ones in the store.  If you have any suggestions, please share them, so I will perhaps give myself another chance with these two.

However, growing tomatoes and potatoes is so easy, and this year especially, as they turned out totally free.

Last year I bought a couple of tomato plants, one Beefsteak Tomato plant, and one Cherry Tomato plant.  They both did very well, and produced lots of fruits.  Some of these fruits fell off the plant and worked themselves into the ground, so this year I noticed free tomato plants sprouting in my garden.  I let them grow into at least 6 inch plants, before transplanting them into a more suitable location.

So, here is my first picking of my free Cherry Tomatoes, which grew even larger in size this year, than last year:

Free Cherry Tomatoes

I already mentioned in my previous posts that I like to turn my vegetable kitchen scraps into compost, so I have been doing that during last fall and early spring.  I dug up several deep rows in my garden, kept on filling them up with the veggie scraps, covered them with dirt, and left them there until it was time to prepare the garden for planting.  Most of them were already decomposed, but some still stayed intact.

The excitement came in late April, when I noticed that besides the self seeded tomato plants, I also had numerous Pepper plants(not sure yet what color they will be) and potato plants, sprouting from my compost rows.  Since these plants self seeded themselves, they were hardier to survive any weather changes, as spring has kind of unpredictable weather most of the time.

Eventually I will share the peppers cultivated from these plants, but here are my free potatoes.

Potato crop from one plantThese Red Potatoes are a result of one piece of a potato which I must have discarded together with the potato peels.  I was very pleasantly surprised when the potato plant dried up, thus a sign that it is time to harvest the crop, and I found all of the above potatoes under that plant.  Amazing, don’t you agree?

I also told you that some of the potato peels sprouted as well, and these plants of course were much weaker, as the peels did not have much nutrition to feed the plant, unlike the potato chunk.

Nonetheless, they still managed to produce some potatoes.  Can you believe this, growing potatoes from a potato peel?

Here they are, free Russet Potatoes.

Free Russet Potatoes

These are baking potatoes, so the skin is darker and thicker than the Red Potatoes.  Since these are a product from only potato peels, they are much smaller.  The larger ones are the size of an egg, and the smallest ones are the size of a grape.

I still am in a total disbelief that potato peels had enough nutrition to produce these potatoes.  I could have let them grow a little longer, to give them a chance to get larger, but I needed to dig them up as the tops were totally gone, and they just grew in between my other vegetables, not exactly where I would normally plant a potato.

So you see how easy it is to grow plants in your garden, even from scraps!

If next year to wish to try growing your own potatoes, I will post easy to follow potato growing instructions.

All you will need is at least one chunk of a potato, and a place to plant it.

Living Green – Conserve Water

Dickinson Bayou on July 5th

Creative Commons License photo credit: BFS Man

As I mentioned before, I am following this super website on tips for living green, and promised to share some of these with you.

Now that you are becoming more aware of these great ways to save the environment, energy, and money, you can join in and be part of the Living Green Team.

Mother Earth and future generations with thank you!

Today’s post is all about conserving water and saving a bundle at the same time, so read on.

Don’t Just Go with the Flow

What?
Conserve water – and lower your bills – by installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators.

How?
It’s brilliant, really. Low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators allow you to enjoy the same water pressure with lower water consumption.

Why?
Conventional showerheads use anywhere between 2.5 and 5 gallons of water per minute, while low-flow showerheads can reduce that number to 1 to 1.5 gallons per minute.

Did You Know?
Installing a low-flow showerhead can save you $100 per year in water usage and water-heating costs.

Scrub, Rinse and Get Out of There

What?
Save money and water by speeding up your shower routine.

How?
The average showerhead uses about five gallons of water per minute. Thus, trimming your daily shower by just three minutes can save 15 gallons of water per day – and 5,460 gallons per year!

Why?
Reducing your water use can save you about $170 per year. In addition, it decreases the amount of fossil fuel energy used to supply, treat and heat your water.

Did You Know?
Americans use an average of 100 gallons of water per day. No wonder 36 states are anticipating severe local, regional or statewide water shortages by 2013.

Do the Rain Dance

What?
Save water by installing a water catcher or rain barrel for your home.

How?
Position the barrel to capture rainwater from your gutters. Then use the non-potable water to wash cars, flush toilets, water the lawn, etc.

Why?
A rain barrel can save approximately 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months.

Did You Know?
Lawn and garden watering make up nearly 40% of total household water use during the summer.

Don’t Be A Drip About Water Usage

What?
Save time and water with a drip irrigation system for your yard.

How?
Shop online or visit your local gardening store to buy a system. Once you’re set up, you can retire the sprinkler and put away that hose you keep tripping over.

Why?
Drip irrigation is extremely efficient because it applies water directly to the plant’s roots. As a result, it eliminates excess water usage as well as the misdirected spray that promotes weeds.

Did You Know?
Over 90% of the water used by drip irrigation is absorbed by the plant, compared to only 40-75% for sprinklers.

No Leaking – In or Out of the Pool

What?
Conserve water by identifying and fixing leaks in your swimming pool.

How?
The bucket test. Fill a five-gallon bucket with water, and put it on a step or bench in the pool. If the pool’s water level decreases faster than the bucket’s water level, you may have a leak.

Why?
In a big pool, even a small leak can waste over 100,000 gallons of water per year.

Did You Know?
You can search for pool repair experts in your area at www.poolleak.info.

Are You a Profligate Sprinkler?

What?
Conserve water through responsible lawn watering.

How?
Use an electronic soil tester to measure moisture. Water your lawn in one deep session per week – rather than frequent lighter sessions. And do it in the early morning to minimize evaporation.

Why?
Most lawns need about one inch of water per week, and many Americans go way beyond that. To make matters worse, we’re wasting water while many states have droughts.

Did You Know?
A whopping 60% of water use on the West Coast is attributed to watering lawns, a non-essential usage.

Summertime calls for outdoor cooking/grilling, and enjoying fun activities with family and friends.

There doesn’t need to be a special holiday, or celebration, to have a barbecue.  You do it just because you feel like taking advantage of the warm weather, and cooking outdoors.  Not to mention to give your husband a chance to show off his grilling skills, while you are relaxing with a nice cold drink and chatting with everyone (that is after you set everything up for him beforehand…).

My son-in-law, with the assistance of my daughter, prepared these finger licking barbecue ribs, and they let me share this recipe with all of you.

Pork Baby Back Ribs

Ingredients:

  • 6 pounds pork baby back ribs
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups barbecue sauce (see recipe below)
  • 2 (12 ounce) bottles porter beer, room temperature

Directions:

  1. Cut ribs into small portions of 2 or 3 bones each.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  3. Season water a pinch each of salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper to the water.
  4. Boil ribs in seasoned water for 20 minutes.
  5. Drain, and let the ribs sit for about a half an hour.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.
  7. Lightly coat the ribs with barbecue sauce.
  8. Cook the ribs over high heat for a 5 to 10 minutes on each side to get a nice grilled look to them.
  9. Place grilled ribs in a slow cooker.
  10. Pour remaining barbecue sauce and one bottle of beer over the ribs; this should cover at least half of the ribs.
  11. Cover, and cook on High for 3 hours.
  12. Check ribs every hour or so, and add more beer if needed to dilute sauce
  13. Stir to get the ribs on top into the sauce.
  14. The ribs are done when the meat is falling off the bone.
  15. The ribs were cooked completely in the first process, the rest is about flavor and texture.

Bourbon Whiskey Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the onion, garlic, and whiskey.
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
  3. Mix in the ground black pepper, salt, ketchup, tomato paste, vinegar, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and hot pepper sauce.
  4. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Run sauce through a strainer if you prefer a smooth sauce.
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