Thursday, April 30, 2015

Crochet Hangers

Make custom hangers by crocheting over them with your favorite color of yarn. Custom hangers give kids a fun way to keep their rooms organized by giving them a fun place to hang their belts, scarves, ties, hair ribbons or bandanas. They also serve a functional purpose in an adult's closet. Hangers that don't have hooks to hold shirts and blouses, or whose hooks have broken off, now have grip to keep clothes in place. You can use metal hangers or plastic, adult size or child size, solid yarn, multi-color or variegated. Choose bright colors for children, subdued colors for adults, or pastels for infants.

What you need:
Clothes hanger
Crochet hook (Size F)
3 yarn needles or darning needles
Needle nosed pliers

Start by making a slipknot with your yarn. Begin crocheting around your hanger, using a single crochet, and stitching over the tail made by your slipknot.

Be sure to pull your single crochets tight as you crochet, so your decoration doesn't sag.

You should also pay attention to how tightly your stitches are bunched together. Every so often, push your stitches together so that they pack together tightly.

Once you have crocheted all the way around your hanger, fasten off and attach one of your needles.

Use your other two needles as wedges to allow your threaded needle to pass easily under your stitches. You will need to wedge it open, as you have pulled all of your stitches very tightly, right? You may need to use a pair of needle nosed pliers to pull your needle through the gap. Please be very careful, though, as I have broken needles in the past trying to pass them under these extremely tight stitches.

Once you have passed the tail under your stitches, trim the tail so that it disappears under the stitches.

There you have it! So cute!

Need help with the crochet? Check out my Basic Crochet Stitches post!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Keema Mattar Recipe

Like Indian food? This might be just what you need in your life! Keema means minced or ground meat (typically lamb or mutton, but can also refer to beef) and mattar means green peas. So, this is a meat dish with peas. Combined with a tomato gravy and easy to make mix of spices, it is perfect! Now, please note that this recipe is likely far from authentic, as I tweaked, adjusted and simplified it all throughout my high school career. We lived in a very small town where access to the ingredients to make exotic dishes was extremely limited. Still, it is quite tasty, easy, and cheap to make.

1 lb ground beef or lamb
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tomatoes, chopped (I don't typically keep fresh tomatoes on hand, so I use canned. And, since I like lots of tomatoes for my gravy, I usually use two 14 ounce cans. Yum!)
2-3 tsp curry powder
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 can green peas, drained

Chop onion and mince garlic. In a wok or skillet heat 1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil over medium heat. 
Add onions, and stir fry until they begin to turn golden brown. Add minced garlic and stir fry for just a minute longer (don't burn it!) 

Add the meat and continue cooking until no pink remains. Add your tomatoes to this mixture .Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Measure out your spices and set aside.
While your mixture simmers, start up a batch of rice. 
Once the time is up, uncover and add your spices. Mix them in thoroughly, let simmer a few minutes and you will notice that they will thicken up the liquid in your gravy a bit. Carefully fold in your drained peas, and allow them to warm through. 
Serve on a bed of hot cooked rice.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Staying Organized - Ribbon

I bought a bag of ribbon at one of the local thrift shops for about 75 cents. When I got home I decided to get it all organized. A few of the bundles were bias tape and edging, so I put those in my drawer for later. 
As for the ribbon, I took an empty toilet paper roll and taped a free end of each color of ribbon to it. 
I carefully rolled up all three colors of ribbon onto the tube, and used a straight pin to secure the loose end of each color once it was all rolled up. There ya go! Got more colors to roll up? Use a paper towel tube!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

How to Brine a Bird

At the time that this post was put together we had just brined some turkey birds for our uh-maze-ing Thanksgiving dinner. The good thing about this simple brine recipe is that you can use it on any type of poultry that you intend to roast, smoke, or deep fry. We put one of our birds in the oven for a more traditional Turkey-day Turkey, and put the other out on the smoker for a little bit of a different flavor.  We have also brined chicken and roasted it in the oven, or made beer can chicken with it, and we have deep fried a turkey brined with this recipe as well. The recipe for this brine comes from Alton Brown's recipe for deep fried turkey, and if you've never deep fried a bird, I suggest you do so. (Cautiously, so as not to burn yourself, your loved ones, or your dwelling.)

Start your brining process by selecting a clean cooler of an appropriate size, and line it with a plastic trash bag. The bag will keep whatever still may be lurking in the cooler from reaching your poultry, as well as keep your poultry juices from contaminating the cooler.

Following Alton's recipe, measure out your salt. Be sure you weigh out your dry goods, but especially your salt. If you don't have kosher salt, which the recipe calls for, you can use another type of salt (pickling salt, for instance) as long as it weighs the same. If you measure these two types of salt out with a measuring cup, you will end up with completely different amounts because the crystal sizes are different.
 After the salt is weighed and added to the bag, add your brown sugar. Since our brown sugar was already weighed out, we didn't need to put it on the scale.
 Next, add the hot water to the bag. The water should be hot so that it will more easily dissolve the salt and sugar crystals. Cold water makes it more difficult to dissolve.
 Allow your mixture to cool down for a while, at least until it reaches room temperature, then add the ice.
 All that's left now is to add your birds. Here's the early bird. (See what I did there?)
 Now our two birds are all nestled in like two peas in a pod. They will soak overnight in their briny bed, and tomorrow they will do delicious things.
If you, like us, do not care for the extra bits you find in the cavity of your bird, simply put them in a pot, boil them up, and feed them to your backyard birds. Our chickens and ducks munched on these with gusto, then helped us dispose of the carcasses after we carved them up. It was a good Thanksgiving for them as well!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Hedgehog Blankets

We had an old towel that had a few holes in it. While as a whole it was not much good to us humans, the spaces in between the holes might be useful to a smaller creature. Say, a hedgehog? We usually buy cheap washcloths for her to use for blankets, but recycled towel bits would work just as well, if not better!

I got my scissors out and began snipping out the holes, and cutting a people-sized towel into hedgehog-sized blankets.

Of course, I made a mess of fluff all over the place, nowhere more evident than on my sewing chair.

After the pieces were all trimmed up I set about sewing zig-zag stitching around all the edges. If you have a surger, that would be easy money, if not, just make your zig-zags as close to the edge as possible.

I ran a few blankies through the dryer to get rid of the excess fluffies, and tested them out. Gizmo the hedgehog seems to be pleased with the result. Don't be fooled by her grumpy-looking face in the first photo, she always looks grumpy... or evil... or surprised... She's a hedgehog, okay?

(Please note that these would also work very well as cleaning rags, but look at that face! How could I not give them to Gizmo?)