Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Cookies

This past weekend, Tim, Ben, Erin and I tried to amp up the Christmas-y feeling here in Jakarta (it's a little limp... I think it's the humidity) by baking some Christmas cookies. 

Tim likes to roll balls between his hands.
But he does not like getting his photo taken.
We made some tried and true favorites:  peanut butter blossoms (I will not tell you how much we paid for the Hershey's kisses. Ridiculous.), chocolate crinkles (I wanted to put these white chocolate/mint Hershey's kisses in these, but they were even more ridiculously expensive and I didn't buy them.), and spicy, chewy ginger cookies.
We made a mess. And drank some beers.
The kitties alternated between attacking Tim and innocently napping.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

More Bootayz

I made some more booties, this time modifying the pattern somewhat so that they would look like mini-rainboots or mini-Uggs. 

Here are the modifications I made:

- Followed pattern for rows 1-3 in color A
- Switched to color B at the end of row 3
- Followed pattern until row 7
- Rows 8 and 9: double-crochet in each stitch around
- Row 10: Switch to color A and half double crochet in each stitch around
- Skip ties

Friday, December 16, 2011

UPDATE! Crafts Worn by Top Models

Remember this baby dress/toddler top?  It finally made it to the U.S.... and Miss Zoe is already rocking it out for her holiday parties!
This little Bert and Ernie number also made it to the U.S. and Mr. Andrew wears it like the dapper gent he is.

 Finally, Lincoln tried on the mittens I made this week.  Here are his thoughts on them:

"I will smother you in your sleep, woman."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Baby Booties and Mittens

Zoe wrote to Santa and asked for some handmade booties and mittens... somehow the letter got lost and ended up here with me in Jakarta.

OK, no she didn't.  But her dad did email me, asking for those items on her behalf.  The Real Martha (Zoe's "GrandMartha" and thrice-a-week babysitter) then specified further, insisting that the mittens have some device to ensure that they stay on her little hands and that the booties have something similar to secure them to the baby's "cankles."  Yes, The Real Martha called the baby's chubby ankles "cankles."  She's not the only one who's had this thought about baby ankles, apparently.

 In any case, I found some simple instructions for tiny baby booties and thumbless baby mittens, both with tie closures.  I whipped them up pretty quickly using Bernat Handicrafter cotton yarn.  The stitch counting was a little wonky on the booties, so I had to figure out where the center of the toe was and devise my own counting/stitch marking method.  In the end it worked out fine!  I just hope they fit Zoe's cankles. 

 Baby Z, expect these booties and mitten soon, but probably not before Christmas, based on my understanding of the Indonesian postal system. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Caramel Pudding

I was craving homemade dessert pretty hard core this week.  I think I've read/looked at one too many Christmas cookie articles/slideshows. Seeing as Tim and I have not yet procured an oven for our Jakarta apartment, homemade baked goods were out of the question... I needed a stove-top treat.  After thinking about what ingredients I had around the house and doing some googling, I settled on pudding.  Low and behold, I was already in possession of all the necessary components for the drool-inducing caramel pudding I saw on Smitten Kitchen and then again on Joy the Baker.  

Lame photo, I know.  But this pudding is delicious.
Why I decided to tackle a caramel recipe when I only have bare bones kitchen equipment is beyond me.  But it ended up working out nonetheless, whisk or no whisk.  Fork to the rescue!  I was slightly concerned (read: panicked) when the caramel seized up after adding the milk, turning into a rock hard ball of sugar candy, but after some heating and coaxing it relaxed back into the milk mixture.

My only regret is that I wish I had let the sugar caramelize a little bit more before adding in the milk.  Deb called for cooking the sugar until a "deep amber" color was achieved.  I'd say mine was more like a "pale gold" when I totally chickened out and took it off the heat, making my final pudding product much lighter in color and flavor than Deb or Joy's.  But still totally delicious! 

Crochet Jar Jacket*

Got empty jars?
Handy with yarn and a crochet hook?
Short on cash money?
Need a last minute gift?
Completed orange jar jacket; yellow in progress.
Crochet jar jackets* are the answer to all of your needs. Neither time nor money intensive, these little jobbies are the perfect gift for your craft- and environment-loving friends (cough, cough... former OSW girls, you would each be the recipient of one of these babies this Christmas if we lived on the same side of the world).   
Mood lighting?
 Making good use of empty glass jars (jam jars, pasta sauce jars, what have you), these are super simple to pull together and have lots of uses: candle holder, pen storage, ummm... spare change jar?  Again, what have you. 

I basically followed these instructions from Annemarie's Crochet Blog (the English ones, not the German.  I can only handle learning one foreign language at a time). The only change I made was to crochet the last row thusly: single crochet, single crochet, single crochet decrease, repeat until end of row.  This made it hug the jar a little better at the top where it narrows slightly.

* Not to be confused with the Jug Jacket.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Indonesian Christmas Tree?

Well, I took a vote, and despite low voter turn-out, the results are in:  we went with a tropical plant as our Christmas tree instead of buying and artificial tree.  

Turns out it's hard to properly wrap a palm plant with Christmas lights, and their fronds are not very supportive of ornaments.  But it gets the job done, nonetheless!  Having it up makes it feel somewhat Christmas-y.  Only somewhat because it's still 92 degrees out there...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mousey Cat Toy

Sorry for the delay in posting, loyal readers.  We moved into our new, more permanent apartment here in Jakarta on December 1st, and we're still ironing out the internet details.  Right now we're working with one of those 3G flashdrives that use cell service to get internet... and it's painfully slow (for example, it took over an hour to upload the two photos for this post).  We hope to have better internet in the near future, but if arranging that goes as poorly as some of our other administrative tasks here in Jakarta, it may be a while.  More on those administrative snafus coming soon at the other blog.

Anywho, we're in the new place, but we still don't have our sea shipment with furniture, cooking gear, etc., so the new joint is a little sparsely furnished.  Also, Lincoln's toys haven't arrived, either.  He was a little apprehensive when we first arrived, so I crocheted him this little mouse out of yarn scraps, in order to convince him that the new apartment was a good place to live.  

Loosely based on some mouse patterns I saw online before we moved (loosely only because we didn't have internet yet at the new place and I could only vaguely remember the patterns), this little guy only took 20 minutes or so to crochet.  I stuffed him with some cellophane wrapping so he has a crunchy noise and gave him a curly tail. 

Lincoln quickly took a liking to him, but he also seems to have quickly turned his attentions to a twist tie he found in the apartment, so his taste level is suspect.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More Christmas Goodies

What?!  It's after Thanksgiving now, so it's socially acceptable, right?

Some cute crocheted Christmas ornaments, loosely based on this pattern from GoodKnits.  The best part about this easy pattern is that I got to use up scrap yarn leftover from all of those sweaters I have been making.

Now I just need a Christmas tree to put the ornaments on...  May I poll the audience?  

Since I can't cut down my own Christmas tree out here in Indonesia, should I:

a) purchase an artificial Christmas tree, or   

b) hang the ornaments from a tropical houseplant (also to be purchased when we move into our permanent apartment on Thursday.)


Another sparkly snowflake stocking to match the one I made last week.  

Tim doesn't like them- he thinks they're too girly.

I think he's just mad at me for whistling "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman" as I crocheted.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Part II: Overly-Optimistic Apple Pie and Biscuit Success

For our second Thanksgiving celebration here in Jakarta, I decided (in a very overly optimistic moment) that my contribution would be to make homemade apple pies, despite having virtually no kitchen equipment to speak of.  I also promised biscuits, which were a little bit more realistic.  The whole process was, shall we say, a learning experience, for several reasons.

The pies: 

I read about this method for making a fool-proof apple pie in the Washington Post last week, and, entranced by the article, I decided to make it without having read the recipe itself.  Oops.  Always read the recipe first.  This might be the most complicated recipe I've ever made: make the crust, let the crust sit, roll out the crust, freeze the crust, bake the crust... saute the apples, refrigerate the apples, put the apples in the crust, top the apples with the other crust, bake the whole pie. Soooo many steps.  After getting this complicated process started, I was having a lot of trouble getting the pie crust dough to stay together; it was so crumbly that it was unmanageable.  Sigh.  Ultimately the pies came together but the crust was ridiculously thick.  Not the best.  Some of it I blame on the recipe, some I blame on the kitchen conditions, such as:

1. The oven: temperature not so accurate, only heats from the bottom so the top doesn't get brown (and then when you turn on the broiler on the top, the top gets too brown).  Plus the timer on the oven is super fast (compared to Tim's iPhone, it was 3-4 minutes faster over the span of 10 minutes). 

 2. Counter space: I rolled out the pie crust on the dining room table.  Voila:

3. Cooking equipment: like I said, not ideal.  I bought disposable pie plates, but they could barely handle the weight of the pie, and the sides were a bit steep as well.

The biscuits:

Did you know that the KFCs in Jakarta don't have biscuits (or mashed potatoes, for that matter)?  Instead, they serve rice.  Ben and Erin were telling us how they miss biscuits, so I decided to make them for Thanksgiving.  The biscuits went much better than the pies.  

I had planned on using a recipe I'd used in the past, but when I went to the grocery store, the only flour they had was (inexplicably) specialty flour like whole wheat, bread flour and self-rising flour.  I bought the self-rising flour in the hopes that I could find a biscuit recipe that called for it... success!  I made the buttermilk version of this recipe from Gold Medal (no buttermilk to be found, but I used the old milk plus lemon juice trick).  Worked like a charm.  Also, I used butter rather than shortening.  I like buttery biscuits.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

New Favorite Thanksgiving Dish: Pineapple Ritz Casserole

Erin cooked my new favorite, shamefully delicious Thanksgiving dish this year: pineapple Ritz cracker casserole.  

It's a total throwback, Americana dish in the same vein as, say, green bean casserole with crispy onions on top: butter, cheese, crushed Ritz cracker, canned pineapple.   It's sooooooo good- salty, sweet, buttery, crunchy.  I couldn't get enough (and my stomach is not happy about that).  
My new favorite dish... just above the turkey.  Not much to look at, but tastes so good.
I'm not sure exactly which recipe she used, but there are a million out there and they all seem to use the same basic ingredients.  Give it a try!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Who needs a job?


My fingers hurt from so much crafting, and I may or may not be going a little bit crazy at this point, after not having worked for over a month now.  Must find a job soon!!!  

Anywho, here are my latest creations, all Christmas themed:

Using some of the sparkly white snowflake yarn paired with leftover turquoise yarn from Zoe's cardigan, I crocheted this super easy striped Christmas stocking loosely based on this free pattern from Lion Brand.  I sewed on one of my previously made sparkly snowflakes at the end because Tim said the color wasn't Christmas-y enough without it.  Pretty cute, I think.  Gotta make another one now so Tim and I each have a stocking to hang over our non-existent fireplace.

 I also crocheted this pretty poinsettia based on this great pattern from Planet June...  Not sure what I'm going to do with it yet.  Maybe it's a tree topper?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Missing Cooking

You may be thinking to yourself, 
"Why so much crafting and so little cooking, Meg? 
I grow weary of crochet do-dads and knit thing-a-ma-jigs."

Me, too... me, too.  

But the cooking in Indonesia cannot being in earnest until my gear (sweet, sweet Le Creuset, how I miss you!) arrives on the slow boat from the U.S. and we move into our new place.  Until that time, here is what I have to work with:
Tiny, tinny pot and a frying pan that is probably giving me cancer each time I use it.

I do have some Indonesian recipes I want to try, though, once I do get a hold of my equipment.  For example, these amazing satay we tried in Bali, skewered on lemongrass stalks.  Aromatic, garlicky, spicy, tender... so good.  And not too hard to make, based on my understanding.

Knit Baby Jumper

I know I've probably said this before, but I think this might be the cutest thing I've made so far. 

Chuck and I bought a ridiculous amount of yarn right before I left the U.S.; huge skeins of yarn were on super-clearance at Jo-Ann Fabric.  $4.97 for 600 yards?  Yes, please.  We'll take 10.  This jumper is made from only a small portion of just one of those skeins.

I'm also pretty proud of this jumper because it's the first piece I've made using stockinette stitch.  Prior to this piece, I was having trouble with the purl stitch, so I stuck with the garter stitch, which just isn't as refined looking as stockinette.  Now I'm pretty comfortable with it, although I was a little ham-handed at first.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Crocheted Snowflakes

While Springfield and the whole U.S. East Coast was blanketed in (or battered by) snow over Halloween, I was sweating it up in Jakarta and Bali, nostalgically crocheting sparkly snowflakes.  

Loosely following this free pattern from Red Heart yarn, I used yarn I bought at the local craft shop, Sidar Snuggly Pearls (a thin white yarn laced with silvery threads).  I changed up the pattern in a couple ways:  I didn't connect the snowflakes into a garland, but kept them separate.  Also, the yarn I used was thinner than they yarn called for, so it stretched out the snowflakes a bit, as did the fact that I double crocheted instead of single crocheting.  I think it made them lacier and pretty.

Monday, October 31, 2011

New Pillows

In an attempt to make our living room a little more colorful I decided to cover some pillows! I used left over fabric from my chair recovering project, as well as some new fabric to match. This was my first project with my brand new sewing machine that the Real Martha got me for my birthday! Definitely a learning curve, but I'm getting the hang of it!

Kate K's Baby Shower Gifts

First, Martha's second and wonderful attempt at a "Jug Jacket" modeled by the lovely Michael McCarthy! Using a purple, leafy batik and a light green batik to back it up the "Jug Jacket" is a great, stylish cover up for Mommy when baby is hungry! Also with a burp cloth to match.

The second home-made gift was my first attempt at crochet! I used a single and double crochet pattern with Sugar 'n Cream yarn in Hot Pink and In Motion. By the way, Meg was my amazing crochet teacher :)

Sweater Making Machine

I am a machine.  A baby sweater making machine.  


Wind me up and watch me go.

Sister sweater to Baby Izzy's cardigan...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crocheted Baby Cardigan, Part Dua

Collared crochet baby sweater, take dua (that's "two" in Bahasa Indonesia... one example of several words that are pretty easy to remember):

I had big plans to finish this sweater before I left the U.S. so Baby Andrew could wear it right away, but it got so crazy at the end that I didn't have a chance to finish it up.  I made quick work of it once I had a little bit more time on my hands.

I think it's pretty cute, although it does have somewhat of a Bert and Ernie feel to it due to the color scheme.  Eh, Andrew, tell your mom to pair it with some jeans and a white onesie and you'll be stylin'.

Now it's just a question of figuring out the best way to get stuff back to the U.S.!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Crocheted Baby Cardigan

Now that I know the top down/seamless/ridiculously easy method for making baby sweaters, I am knocking these things out in a single afternoon!

I saw this "Every Day is a New Sweater Day" pattern from Rima Aranha at Yarny Days, the same woman who designed the cute kimono-style sweater I made a couple weeks ago... based on the same concept, but with a collar and evenly sized front panels, it was pretty cute and easily manipulated style-wise.

I crocheted this one for baby Izzy using Lily Sugar n' Cream cotton yarn in a variegated called "Moondance" and a solid purple called "Grape." Baby Andrew, yours is on the way and will be much manlier!

UPDATE:  Baby Izzy in her sweater! 
She's giving the camera a bit of the stink eye, but I think she likes the sweater, no?
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Knitted Wrap Sweater for Zoe

Sorry for the delay in posting!  I've been packing, filling out forms, catching up with friends and  generally panicking in anticipation of our move to Jakarta, Indonesia.  Not a lot of time to cook or craft, but I hope to pick it back up once I am settled out there!  I've already scoped out some local yarn/craft stores.  Not that I don't have a pretty significant stash that needs to be busted...

Anywho, I've been knitting this wrap sweater for Zoe for months now... it went quickly at the beginning, but then I panicked when I started running out of yarn and realized that the yarn I am using (Bernat Satin Sport) is discontinued in the color I am using, Aqua.  Boooooo.  Ultimately it worked out- I decided to shorten the sleeves a bit to make them more like 3/4th length, and I think it turned out pretty cute.  

Martha helped me sew it together, which was another fear of mine... we ended up slip stitching it together with a crochet hook and chain stitching the tie closures.

Can't wait to see Baby Z in it!  It's probably big for this fall, but perhaps next year it will fit.  Lincoln didn't get a chance to try it on... he was too busy learning Bahasa Indonesia for his upcoming international move and travel blog: Lincoln Goes to Indonesia.*

* Ok, so Lincoln may not truly be the blogger or even the focus of the blog... but he's sure to contribute to it.  We'll post photos and stories from our adventures in Jakarta and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.  Follow it!  I'll start posting as soon as we hit the road next week!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Baby Kimono Sweater for Zoe

I made this adorable kimono sweater for Zoe on a DC to New England road trip this weekend... 95 North has never experienced such speed crocheting.

This pattern is awesome- crocheted top down in one piece, so there are no awkward seams. The edging is super cute, and you can do ties or buttons for fasteners.

I can't wait to make it in more colors... I like this Violet Veil yarn from Lily, but I think a solid color with contrasting edge would be even cuter. Long sleeves could work, too.

I love this pattern so much, I can't wait to try this other cute sweater from the designer!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Crochet Spring Scarf

This scarf crocheted up really quickly and was super easy.  I like the hole-y look you get by skipping every other stitch. 

I really love the color of the yarn, too, and the fact that it's organic cotton.  My only complaint is that I don't love the lumpy texture of the yarn.  In the past I felt like lumpy yarn was helpful to cover up any mistakes I made, but now I don't really care for it... no stitch definition.  Apparently my crochet tastes have matured ;-)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Handmade Wedding!!

So... Tim and I got married this past weekend!  

Here are the deets:

The ceremony: held amongst the flowers in the gardens at the Landis Arboretum in Esperance, NY

The dress: hand sewn by the Real Martha based on this Butterick Suzi Chin Maggy Boutique pattern with cross-over bust, empire waist and full skirt.  Made with white linen (from Hancock Fabrics) and mauve linen (from G Street Fabrics).  Easy and comfy to wear, beautifully made!!

The necklace: handmade by moi using multiple strands of freshwater pearls from Stars Beads, chunky and funky to contrast the sweet dress

The tie: revamped from one of my dad's old ties from the '80s by the super cute, friendly and talented ladies at Ginger Root Designs on U Street

The rings: hand-hammered from recycled sterling silver by Beth at Elizabeth Scott Designs

The dinner: catered by the lovely folks at A Taste of Europe in Cobleskill, NY.. my favorite was the spicy and rich goulash, or maybe the coq au vin.

The photography: beautifully shot by Jennifer

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Baby's First Lobster!!

Zoe pictured here with the Real Martha.
That's pretty much it.

Individual Peach Cobblers

A couple weeks ago Tim came home from work with some super fresh and ripe local peaches. We ate most of them straight up as a snack, but eventually there were two of them still sitting there, getting a little wrinkly and begging to be mixed with butter and sugar and turned into dessert. Luckily for us, Joy the Baker had just posted this cute recipe for Peach Cobbler for One...

Joy's topping recipe is really delicious- a little body from the oatmeal, unexpected tropical flavor from the coconut, lots of butter and sugar.  

Since we had 2 peaches, I doubled the topping recipe. This may have been an unnecessary step. I never thought I'd say this, but there was actually too much topping. 


Yes, too much topping. 

I think I could have done one topping recipe and split it among the 2 peaches...

Crochet Baby Cardigan

Wow. The end of August was really a doozy... earthquakes, hurricanes, car accidents, deaths... I barely knew (or know) how to wrap my head around it.

In the midst of all of this I distracted myself by crocheting and thinking about cute babies... 

I had been looking for a simple sweater pattern to get me started on crocheting something wearable (besides a scarf or hat), and I found and printed a baby cardigan project that no longer seems to exist on the Jo-Ann fabric website, strangely. The cardigan was made in three pieces (back with back of sleeves and two front pieces with the front of the sleeves). Crocheted with 2 different yarns held together, alternating rows of single and double crochet for a stripey effect, and finally whipstitched together at the end, this was pretty straightforward. It called for a tie closure, but somehow I miscounted and ended up with one side overlapping the other, so I sewed 3 buttons on in lieu of the ties. The buttons slide easily between the double crochet stitches, so there was no need for me to mess with buttonholes. 

Lincoln likes it.
UPDATE: Zoe looking cute in her sweater!