Crocheted clutch

After the baby blankets I needed a quicker crochet project, so I cracked open my Stitch ‘n Bitch Happy Hooker book and decided to try the Fit to Be Tied handbag. I thought it would be super easy, but it actually took quite a while.

I goofed a couple times on the half double crochet and had to either start over or add a stitch in the middle of a row. Then when I went to sew the two sides together I did the whole thing and realized the two eyelet rows didn’t match up on one side. But I was too far in to undo it and fix it. Then the lining wasn’t quite wide enough, but I made it fit anyway.

Sometimes I think I am way too impatient to be a good crafter. But then when I show my mangled mismatched purse to someone who doesn’t craft they look at me in awe like I just gave birth or something, and they couldn’t find a flaw if they tried. Thank you, by the way, to those people. You keep me sane.

Baby blankets for twins

A reasonable first project for someone who just learned to crochet would be something like a pot holder or a skinny scarf. But I like to do things the hard way. So I decided to make a blanket. For someone with twins.

It took months to finish but it was great practice. The first row of crochet is absolutely brutal, especially when your chain is 164 stitches. It’s amazing how much better that row is on the second blanket than the first. It also turned out to be a good project since I had a back injury and I’ve been doing a lot of couch time.

The pattern is from MarthaStewart.com. I made it a few stitches narrower (accidentally the first time) and about 10 rows shorter since I ran out of yarn. I bought these giant rolls of cream colored baby yarn at Michael’s and Bernat baby yarn for the accent colors. I made sure to use acrylic in case they get peed/drooled/barfed on.

Biscuits and Gravy, my way

Two years ago I decided to try being a vegetarian. Just try it for a week and see what happens. I was living in Boulder at the time, a place where being vegetarian is like, well, being a meat eater anywhere else. It was actually pretty easy. And though I never quit eating seafood, I did keep my meatless ways even when I moved back to pork-chop-on-a-stick-lovin’ Iowa.

Just like I always did with recipes, I tend to change vegetarian recipes to my liking. I don’t like mushrooms, which is a major meat substitute. And for a long time I didn’t care for tofu either. I find gluten disgusting, and I still haven’t warmed up to things like seitan and tempeh. But, BUT, I have come to appreciate a lot of meat substitutes, like Quorn, and I use them often because they keep me feeling like what I eat is still pretty much like what everyone else eats. Just healthier. And better for the environment.

I find that a lot of times when you try to eat vegetarian at a restaurant the offerings are either really limited (pasta with vegetables, woo hoo!) or so different from what I’m used to eating that I don’t care for it either. I like to make recipes that remind me of what I grew up eating, but fit in better with my dietary limitations.

One thing I’ve never seen in a restaurant is a vegetarian version of biscuits and gravy. And anymore, it’s not a hard thing to make. So here is my version. It takes about a half hour to make on a Sunday morning. (Unless you make your own biscuits. And if you like to make your own from scratch, by all means do it!).

You need:
1 package ready-to-bake biscuits
1 package (about a pound) meat-free sausage – I like the Boca or Morningstar versions that come in patties, but GimmeLean is great, too.
3 T vegetable oil
4 T butter
4 T flour
2 t. tamari or soy sauce
3 c. milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Do this:
1. Preheat your oven for the biscuts.
2. Heat the oil over medium in a skillet. Brown the sausage in the oil. When it’s done, break it up into 1-inch pieces and drain on paper towels. Put your biscuits in the oven to bake.

3. Keeping the heat on medium, melt the butter. Then add the flour and whisk together.
4. Add the milk and tamari or soy sauce, whisking together. Raise the heat to medium-high until the milk starts to bubble.

Then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes or until the gravy reaches desired thickness. Season with salt and pepper and dump in the sausage pieces.

Be careful not to burn your biscuits! They tend to get brown on the bottom before the top.

Voila! Vegetarian biscuits and gravy.