Monday, December 31, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Year's Work

 Around a year ago, I started making a wedding gift for my friend of 20+ years, Rebecca. By the time her wedding had come and gone, I was still working on it. She assured me that it was okay to be late with a wedding gift, as long as it gets to the bride within a year's time. I finished it and sent it with about a couple months to spare!

I knew that Rebecca appreciated old-fashioned things. I wanted to make her a delicate, lacy crocheted bedspread, but thread crochet drives me batty. Instead, I chose a beautiful pattern from Terry Kimbrough's book of baby afghans, and using a larger hook and thicker yarn that called for, I hoped I could make it bed-sized very easily.
It scaled up just as I had hoped, but in the end (after 14 skeins of yarn!) it was getting heavy! Although it never got big enough for a "bedspread," it makes a nice cover for a double bed (above) but on a king size it looks more like a bed doily.
 (Whatever you might choose to call it, ladies and gentleman, at this point it is not an afghan!)
I followed the pattern for the center, but developed my own deep border from several of Terry Kimbrough's other blankets in the book. I wanted something exuberant, elegant and Victorian.

I was very excited when I was doing the last row. I timed myself and found it took 2 minutes to add picots to each scallop, so I knew down to the minute when I would be done with the project!

And now for a few construction details and tips:
I wanted to use the luxurious-feeling skeins of bamboo/silk blend yarn, but for a project of this size, the price was beyond me. I found that the Simply Soft brand yarn had a nice sheen to it, which I could pretend was something with more elegant fibers (Rebecca can pretend that, too, and be glad it's washable).

I figured out a way to tame my runaway yarn! Sometimes the skeins get tangled, and I wind them into a ball to use. This fruit container from Costco was just perfect to hold the ball, with the tail strung through one of the spaces. It worked well for the regular skeins, too.
I needed about 12 inches depth on the border. To make a decision about the order of the design (and change my mind without having to unravel yards of work), I made some sample swatches to look at. I did eventually sketch out a final design on paper that I could refer to, but these swatches were a big help in getting there.

The border rows were started a little ways before each corner. This gave me a chance to see what the corner looked like, and  if I needed to adjust the number of stitches or the corner in any way before I had crocheted a whole side. Less to unravel if there is a mistake that needs fixing!

I was pretty pleased with the finished result. I'm not sure I'll ever do something of this magnitude again! I think Rebecca was pleased, too.

Some News

So exciting! The Pleasant Times' Printable Christmas Village was mentioned by blogger Monica Hazelton  on!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Happy End Of The World Day

Happy End of the World Day!

I would like to interest everyone in the idea of a new holiday, much like Christmas in that it is internationally recognized so everyone benefits from it, but formal observations are optional according to your personal beliefs.

Since the End of the World is happening so often (remember last year?), we may as well make it a holiday and let everyone off of work. That way, instead of quitting their jobs for the end of the world, folks could just have the day off. When the End of the World fails to come to pass, those who believed it can just go back to work the next day (or the next Tuesday, as we all like those 3-day-"weekends") and not lose their jobs over it. Post office workers will enjoy an extra break, and countries will benefit from the tourist dollars (as the End of the World usually requires some travel).  Card companies, florists, etc. will benefit from the holiday, which will boost the economy. Joann's will have a new reason for a fantastic fabric sale and coupons.

I do ask that it not be set so close to Christmas-- those Mayans sure did choose an  inconvenient time of year to end things!
See you Saturday.

A No-Cheese Cheesecake that Works

I tried this "cheesecake" recipe recently, and was pleased with the results-- it really passed for cheesecake. To find a non-dairy cheesecake that has "normal" ingredients and came together in the food processor was nice!

We are not vegans, but having one in the family who can't have dairy or soy, it was hard to figure out how to make a favorite dessert that he could eat.

I did not put in as much lemon juice-- out of one large lemon I had about 1/3 cup, but it worked out fine, as I added 1/2 cup cocoa and didn't want the lemon overwhelming the flavor. I think adding melted chocolate would be even tastier than the cocoa.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Introducing The iWonderful

It seems that all the world wants an "iPad" for Christmas-- version 1,2,3, and now 3-1/2.  An inventor on our staff has come up with his own tablet that can do SO MUCH MORE-- let me introduce you to the iWonderful!

With its crystal-clear screen, the iWonderful is so easy to use!

 It can make phone calls on using your local phone service-- no cellular phone bill! If, however, you want to connect using your existing cell phone service, and use your existing cell phone number, the iWonderful can do that, too!

It has all the features of other tablets, including a calculator.

The piano feature is oh so real sounding! Much more real sounding than any other tablet on the market!

It can act as a digital scale-- the iWonderful itself only weighs 1.4 ounces!

Games? How about 3-D interactive chess?

You can actually pick up the pieces to move them, instead of swiping the screen with your finger (which is sooo archaic).

Any game you can think of is on the iWonderful!

Dealing with cookies is easy. You can reach right in and grab them. They taste real. I'll bet other tablets won't let you do that.

Nice big screen lets the clock really show up well.

You can write on the tablet with any pencil or pen, no special expensive equipment needed!

The iWonderful takes GREAT photos and videos that are SO REAL!!!! You would think that you were looking through the screen at the actual person!!!!!

However, the playback feature is not always dependable. But there's an app for that! A small camera feature will take photos just like a regular camera does.

The calendar feature is nice and big, easy on the eyes, and movable.

The iWonderful even prints, at the press of a button.

The library for the iWonderful has so many options!

Have fun with the iWonderful flight simulator! 

The iWonderfulEarth app feels like turning a real globe!

The iWonderful even tells the temperature. Want to know what the weather is right where you are? You can take the iWonderful outside and it will tell you!
(Oh-- and it's waterproof!)

There are SO MANY MORE features to the iWonderful!
Interactive projects using the hands?-- origami, finger painting, you name it, the iWonderful has it.
Educational uses? Limitless!
Social media? Your mother can talk to you through the iWonderful and you'd think she was in the same room!
I have not included photos of the microwave feature, the washer/dryer feature, and the ice-maker feature. Anything that you can think of that uses the push of a button, the iWonderful can do it!!!

The iWonderful is not yet available in stores. 
iPad and its special terms are registered names, as you know. 
The iWonderful is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Consult your doctor if symptoms last more than 2 weeks. 
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Thanksgiving Decorations

One last hurrah for Autumn! Today I noticed that the trees were bare-- the very few remaining leaves are hanging on through the wind storms quite bravely. Today a rose bloomed on a bush by the porch!

Pretty little pink rose.

Here are some things we did to decorate for Thanksgiving Dinner:

The prettiest dishes and the silver were brought out for the occasion, and we made place cards for the 15 guests. 

To make a natural centerpiece, I took a walk around the neighborhood and found some curly seed pods-- I'm not sure what kind of tree they come from-- and several leaves, branches and berries from other trees. The tables were narrow, so we had no room for the centerpiece after all the dishes were on, so it became a mantel decoration instead. 

I added photos of local autumn splendor to the display.

Making Place Cards

Here's how I and one of my assistants made place cards this year. We had card stock and a heavy regular paper (in light pink) to work with, so we used pink for the ladies and white for the gents. I found wide, wired ribbon in an autumn theme at the dollar store to make a background for the names. 

First we cut and folded our cards to a size suitable for place cards. Then we cut off the orange wired edges of the ribbon, and cut the ribbon into lengths about 1-2 inches longer than the wide part of the cards.

We folded the edges over and taped them behind the cards. 


Then I wrote names in colored pencil on a small bit of card stock, and my assistant wrote over them in a darker colored pencil. This accomplished several things: using two colors gave depth to the writing (it may have even been 3-D if we had thought to put on those funny colored glasses!); my assistant learned how to do a bit of cursive writing; and it gave my assistant something very important to do without misspelling the names. 

Here is a completed card (name has been erased to protect the innocent).
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At the dinner table, we put in a small leaf behind each name, tucked into the ribbon part of the card, to make it even more festive.