Friday, December 24, 2010

Saltine Toffee

A co-worker made this delicious toffee from a recipe she found in our local newspaper. I was doubtful at first because I'm not a big fan of nuts (it has pecans on it) and I also heard what the secret ingredient was before I tasted it which seemed really strange. One bite and I was hooked! It was amazing! The recipe is so simple too. I wanted to share it here if anyone is looking for a super simple recipe that will be big hit. Takes about 20 minutes for prep and cooktime, plus an extra 30 minutes of it being in the freezer before you cut the pieces.

Saltine Toffee

1 cup
35 saltine crackers
1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 package (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Line a 10x15 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, allowing for some overhang. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Brush parchment paper with a little butter. Line up crackers on buttered parchment, touching but not overlapping.

Whisk brown sugar into remaining butter. Set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; boil thick 2 minutes (or 248 degrees). Pour evenly over crackers.

Slide into a 400 degree oven and bake util brown and bubble, about 10 minutes. Carefully remove from oven.

Scatter molten surface with chocolate chips. Let melt, 5 minutes. Use an offset spatula to spread chocolate. Cast on nuts; gently press into chocolate.
Freeze until firm, 30 minutes.

Lift parchment by its overhang and set toffee (paper and all) on a cutting surface. Slice into 18 squares, then into 36 triangles.

Recipe from
The Morning Call.

As you can see from mine, I did not slice the toffee into triangles. I just broke apart the pieces with my hands where the cracker seams were.

I also admit the first time I made these, I burned them! My oven gets really hot so I usually adjust a bit when I bake anything, but I kept them in the whole 10 minutes. One part of my parchment paper was black underneath and gave my toffee a burnt smoky flavor--yuck! The second time around I didn't use all of the brown sugar-butter mixture (about 1/8th cup leftover or so) and I baked the crackers for about 8-9 minutes. Yay! :^)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Music

If you love listening to Christmas music at all times during this time of year (sometimes even in July...) and you're looking for variety, try creating a Christmas station on! Besides making the usual stations like Plain White T's, Ingrid Michaelson or Indie Pop, try making something might be surprised with what you come up with! My boyfriend's sister told me about her new favorite station, "French Cafe" which immediately became my new favorite! (Try that one--it's great to have on while in the kitchen or even while you're at work!) Since it's after Thanksgiving now, I created a new station based on one of my favorite holiday artists. It's called "The Carpenters (Holiday)." It also throws in all the greatest like Bing Crosby, Burl Ives and Andy Williams.

(Soma waiting for gift-opening to begin last year!)

By the way, if you've never used Pandora before, it's free! With a free account you receive 40 hours a month of music with a few short commercials in between. You barely even notice those. Also, if a song comes on that you don't like just click the "thumbs down" and you won't ever hear it again! If a song comes on that you LOVE, click the "thumbs up" and your station will remember that and modify your station to play similar songs.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Be Thankful

Be Thankful
-author unknown

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.

If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don't know something,

for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times. 

During those times you grow. 

Be thankful for your limitations, 

because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,

because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you're tired and weary,

because it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who 
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,

and they can become your blessings.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

DYI Costume: Fairy Skirt

Halloween is tomorrow! I wanted to share with you what my costume is and how you can make it! I know, this post is late, but if you have the supplies on hand or can make it to a store in time, you could finish it in a couple hours.

I dressed up this year as a fairy. I dressed with a group of other teachers at the school I work at. We have a fun costume contest every year to raise money for a cause. The staff and students are encouraged to bring in spare change or a few bucks and they use those monetary donations to vote for their favorite teacher costumes. Here is the tutorial for the skirt or tutu.

You will need:
  • several yards of tulle in 1 or more colors (I bought about 9 yards but used about 8 yards. I am also a size 3 in juniors. The more you use, the poofier the skirt which is not always a good thing!)
  • ribbon
  • scissors

The tulle is for the flow-y, frilly part of your skirt. The ribbon is for your waist. I'll refer to as your "belt."

1. When you buy your tulle, it should already be folded in half. If not, do so now.

2. Lay on table and cut off a part that is a workable
size. The length of your table/workspace or about a yard is good.

3. Starting from the creased end, roll the tulle into a long tube.

Optional: Trim the ends if your rolled tube is crooked. Otherwise, your strips will be different widths and may not be usable.

4. Cut sections off the tube about 1.5 to 2 inches in length.

*The purpose of rolling up the tulle is because it's easier to cut off chunks of the tube rather than cutting each strip individually.*

5. When you unroll one of your little "curls" you should have a le
ngth of tulle that you can use to tie around your "belt."

6. Lay your "belt" on table or flat surface.
Place one your strips of tulle under the belt as shown in photo. (I am using yarn to illustrate this because the tulle did not photograph as nicely. The pink yarn is the belt, the green is your tulle.)

7. Pull the ends of the tulle through it's loop (where the crease is).

8. Continue pulling it tight so you have a knot.

9. Repeat this process until your tutu is full!

You can alternate colors and cut the strips different lengths to add pretty effects.

Optional: I cut the ends of each of my strips at an angle and mixed in another
shimmery fabric.

**Fairy Skirt concept and instructions courtesy of the purple fairy! Thanks!!!!**

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

WIP Wednesday 9 - Best Pals Pattern (WIP 8 skipped)

So much to do, so little time! I ran out of stuffing and have not been able to do any work on my Best Pals amigurumi dolls! Besides that, there has been a lot going on. All good things though! Here are some photos that cover some of things I've had the opportunity to participate in! I have a nice life with wonderful friends and family.

Hibachi for my boyfriend's and our Chinese guest teacher at my school district/work. She and I agreed the fried rice we made together was better!

Golfing for my first time ever! Yes....18 holes. My arms hurt. It was hard. Really hard. It was for a benefit though and we all had fun.

My boyfriend's sister and husband came for a surprise visit because they got a new puppy! Isn't she adorable! I hung out with them at an adorable town called Bethlehem and we had tea at an Irish Tea House!

--- the mix though, guess what I did sneak in.

Photo above of me waking up early on the weekend and enjoying coffee,, crocheting and playing on the iPad.

Yup! Some crochet! But since I have no stuffing...I decided to whip out some amigurumi-style iPod Touch pouches! Well, just one is finished. I actually might add some more to him...possibly some tiny arms/legs.

The idea came from my boyfriend's aunt who said she saw a cat zipper pouch with the zipper being the mouth. It was more like a purse or pencil pouch, but I was inspired to make it for an iPod Touch. I started it one night before going to bed and I didn't measure it, so it ended up being a pouch for whatever (which I will improve upon later). But, I think the kitty pouch turned out pretty decent for my first time and have plans for more! Stay tuned...!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WIP Wednesday 7 - Best Pals Pattern (WIP 6 skipped)

This is WIP Wednesday 7 and not 6 because I wanted to keep up Tami's Amis blog since she is hosting the WIP Wednesday blog-share. I skipped number 6 because I didn't get any crocheting done! You gotta take a break from things every once in a while!

Over the weekend, I did get to work on my Best Pals Pattern that I talked about in the last WIP Wednesday post. I have all the text written for the pattern, but I really like to include photos so I am recreating each animal and taking photos that I can go through to add to the pattern. The sunlight is different these days since the seasons are changing so that makes it tough to take photos! There is either too much sun which gives my amis a weird neon glow or it's too gray outside. I don't know what I'm going to when Fall really hits!

I'm designing each of the animals in the pattern to have a different facial expression. I want to showcase different ways of making the face besides just different shapes for their body parts (ears and tails mostly). Can you guess which animal I have planned for each of the four featured in the photo above? They could be anything, but I made them each with a certain animal in mind.

Finally, I wanted to show off this awesome decal I got from etsy shop Macetera for my MacBook Pro. I love it and everyone is jealous even if they don't know who Totoro is! Only one co-worker at the school I work at recognized that it was from a Hayao Miyazaki film because her husband and daughters watch his films. I promoted his movies every time someone asked about my decal so I hope they remember if they ever come across Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli films when movie-hunting!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

For the Love of Shoes

Who doesn't love shoes!? I'm taking a break from crochet-talk today and want to spread the word about Kelsey Jayne's original shoe designs and her etsy shop ForTheLoveOfShoes. The top photo is of what's called a shoe last that Kelsey a.k.a. ForTheLoveOfShoes designed and handpainted. It's such a unique art piece! At her shop, you can find painted shoe lasts and artwork of beautiful shoes. Kelsey is a shoe designer in New York City for Joan and David shoes so she knows what she's doing!

See how cute her shop is? You should totally order some of her artwork for your room or office. They make great gifts too, if you're stumped on what to get your sister, mother, girlfriend...whoever!

I requested custom shoe designs for my little sister as graduation gift. ForTheLoveOfShoes created sketches of a style of shoe I knew my sister liked. The sketches exceeded my expectations! They were perfect. I framed them myself and surprised my sister! She has them displayed in her room on a shelf full of her shoes which you can see in the video below.

You can Like ForTheLoveOfShoes on Facebook to keep up to date on new artwork.

By the way,
f you want real shoes you should check out ShoeWoo!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

WIP Wednesday 5 - Best Pals Pattern

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Thanks for keeping me going, Tami! Work-in-Progress Wednesdays always come sooner than I expect! School started officially yesterday...I barely had a chance to sit down! Of course I wore heels too and after a summer of wearing flip-flops and flats my feet were just a tad tired. In fact, my entire body was tired! Anyway, I realized today that I can only get so much done in a day and I shouldn't stay for too much longer after school gets out to work on things. There is always tomorrow and people will just have to wait! Everything is going very well though all in all and I do feel the excitement now of my job. Helping teachers incorporate technology and showing people new tricks is fun and I feel good about what I do.

Moving on to the crochet part of things...I started to make a pattern for what I like to call Best Pals! It will include how to make bears, bunnies, puppies, kitties, piggies, and who knows what else. It's meant to be like a starter package for amigurumi beginners!

I have all my notes written out because I've made the lil guys several times, I just never photographed the steps and pieces and I like to include progress photos in my patterns. I know I appreciate them when I purchase patterns because sometimes the text just isn't enough!

Here's all i have so far from the weekend. It's really windy outside and getting a little dark so my photos didn't turn out so well. I just placed an antique effect to give it a little something. I know, I did say I was going to focus on my Meden Patapon...I just can't seem to get the motivation! I don't know what's gotten into me! Maybe because she's turning out to be harder than I thought. She'll make an appearance soon. I promise.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tip - Yarn Color Change

This is how I change colors of yarn in the middle of an amigurumi project. There may be other ways, but this is how I figured out how to do it! This project shows changing colors when beginning a new row. Your last stitch of the previous row is where you actually begin the color change. So, if my patterns says to complete 30 single crochet (sc) stitches and then change colors for the next row, you will pull your new color up during the 30th sc. Sounds weird, but then it makes it so you actually end with your last sc being that original color and then already being ready with your next color in hand to being your very first sc of the new row.

Insert hook through your last stitch.
Pick up your new color yarn.

Pull the new yarn through your stitch.

Yarn over with the new color, and pull through the two loops (one will be the original color, the other will be the new color). Your final stitch will be the original color!

You now have the new color to begin your next row...
...and your first sc of the new row will be your new color!

When you know you're good to go, snip off the original color leaving a tail to sew/weave/hide the end. You'll have to do this with the tail of the original color as well as the beginning tail of your new color so when you begin with your new color, make sure you leave a long enough tail! I usually give myself 6 inches or so with these tails--whatever is long enough for you to put a needle on the end and poke through a couple times. It's always better to have more than not enough.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

WIP Wednesday 4 - Tear Fairy Complete

Voila! Finally finished and ready to share with Tami's Amis for her WIP Wednesdays. I know, took me long enough, right? I've been a busy girl with the start of the school year! The kids officially start next week so I'll still have some details to take care of to get everyone and everything situated and then once we're all in a routine, I'll be able to relax a bit more. Anyway, I crocheted the little Tear Fairy to be sitting since I have no idea how to make this guy stand on his own with such tiny legs. Plus, I figured his legs could be used as support if he falls over since his nose is heavy. He sits very nicely though! Sometimes you have to press on him and flatten out his bum a little but is just wonderful to me!

Now that I have my companion, I just need the game! Gahh!

Edit--I just did a google search and according to dshyper, this guy is named Shizuku (which translates to "droplet" in Japanese). Cool, huh!?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

WIP Wednesday 3 - One more step left for the Tear Fairy!

I was hoping to get the Tear Fairy completed for this week's "Work-In Progress-Wednesday" from Tami's Amis. Due the rainy weather I was unable to take my progress photos outside so I kept pushing back my work. Anyways, the next steps were to work on his face:

n I placed the black eyes in the crocheted circle, I did not place it in the center hole, but rather in between stitches in the next row. I used embroidery floss for his smile :)

Stuffed him super tightly and then sewed him together!

All he needs now are his arms and feet! I don't know why I didn't at least crochet those during the rainy weather! Oh well, I guess the finished project will have to wait until next week! I switched gears a bit since I was pushing the Tear Fairy aside and also worked on my Meden Patapon Amigurumi.

I had this project requested a long time ago and I must apologize to my customer for taking so long. Finding the
right yarn was rough, finding the time was tough, and attempting to make some of her parts was frustrating! Once the Tear Fairy is finished and I write up a pattern, Meden Patapon will be my main focus. I needed some time away from Patapons. Anyway, I'll discuss her in the future.

On another note, my monsters were featured in the Super Cute Kawaii blog from their Flickr Friday! I didn't know I was cool enough to be noticed on there! Yay! Finally, in other news, school will be starting officially for the teachers and myself next week and then officially for the students the following week! I have a ton of presentations to prepare, my room to organize, technology to update and so much more! I'm getting a little nervous!!! Once school starts and everything settles, I'll have more time on my hands (sounds strange, but I will...hehe). G'night!!!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

World of Warcraft + Lord of the Rings

Ah, memories!!! My boyfriend and I decided to watch all three movies in the series The Lord of the Rings. Again! I love love love these movies. The story is so powerful and the movies were created so well.

After finishing the final movie today, I was reminded of some old World of Warcraft/Lord of the Rings online sillies! I love when my favorite things come together! I remember when I first starting playing World of Warcraft and I heard this joke from male humans. I think they have the best jokes of all the races but this one is their best!!!!!

This is next one is tops on my favorite Lord of the Rings/World of Warcraft jokes. Newer WoW players will understand the humor, but I feel like it will be most funny to the original WoW players who understand what it was like to quest with "noobs" and actually head to an instance (y'know take the flight path and walk, rather than this instant queue business, lol) and having to work hard in the quest chains to earn the key to instances...ah it's too much. I just love it.
It describes WoW gameplay so well!

Click here to view WoW - LOTR Style. Enjoy! Hope it makes you lol! *Warning: mature language in the link* I'm sure many WoW / LOTR fans will have seen these, but if not I hope they made you smile!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

WIP Wednesday 2 - Lantern Complete!

This lantern is new! Not the same one as last week's photograph.

This lantern was quite troublesome for me! I wasn't sure what the best way was to crochet a cube, rectangular prism, square pyramid...I don't even know what the heck to call it. My first thoughts were to crochet each side as a rectangle,, a square for the base, then the top and sew each together. I probably could have succeeded in this. Oh, then I also would have had to work in the colored edges. It was a lot of little pieces.

I decided that crocheting amigurumi typically means to crochet in rounds. So, I attempted to crochet a a squarish type of figure. I had never done this before and it took quite a few experiments! I think what I ended up with was pretty good. Perhaps the edges could be a little more defined? Not sure. Anyway, I crocheted the golden cube, switched to the reddish/orangey color to chain strands each time I got to a corner. Then I sewed each edge down to the corners. I crocheted the top separate and sewed it on top. I stuffed it a little extra at the top so it would have a pointier top.

It works for me! I don't want to make complicated patterns, but I also don't want them to be too simple, where they don't like what they're supposed to be. I'm keeping it so far, and if I get an epiphany later I'll make another!

Here are some WIP pics I took. I thought it would be easier to create a little movie rather than uploading each photo. Enjoy! (Lol!)

For other totally awesome WIPs, check out Tami's Amis WIP Wednesdays #2!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

WIP Wednesday 1 - Ninokuni

Tami's Amis and Other Crochet had a great idea to do a "Work-In-Progress Wednesdays" where fellow crafters can link to their WIPs! So here are my details I've been meaning to discuss about my latest WIP.

I've been really good at starting an amigurumi and not finishing it lately... I already posted about my "Tear Fairy" (I'm not really sure what his actual name is) from a new Studio Ghibli/Level 5 video game called Ninokuni. Isn't he cute? Check out the trailer if you have not seen it yet!

If you're a fan of Studio Ghibli movies, then I'm sure you'll be interested in this game! I was so excited when my boyfriend told me about this and showed me the video on IGN announcing that it will be on the PS3!!!!! Yay! From what I know it's only out in Japan on Nintendo DS. I either need to get my hands on the game and not understand what anyone is saying in the game, or wait for the PS3 version. I'm most likely going to wait for the latter, hehe.

So anyways, as usual, my boyfriend suggested I crochet him while I wait for the game :)
This is what I have so far and it's tough to tell! Crocheting his nose separate was the easiest thing I thought. I am also not really familiar with crocheting a curved shape--kind of like a cornucopia shape.

I was working on creating the lantern that he has, but I was unsatisfied with my yarn choices so I stopped and have not gotten back to it yet! I did buy some new yarn, but have been so busy with an online class I'm taking. This is the last week and I have a lot of work to submit still but starting next week, I'll be refreshed and ready to continue working on him! Once I figure out how to crochet the lantern appropriately I'll be able to attach the lantern, nose and body together then work on the limbs.

On another note, if you're reading this and have not entered my contest to win Gorge the Monster, please enter! It's on my Facebook page!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Giveaway! Win Gorge the Monster!

Ok, one more post for Gorge the Monster. I'm having a giveaway for his new brother on my Facebook page. You must "Like" the page to be eligible. Please visit my page to enter! Only good things can come from this!

All you have to do is comment on the Suravi Amigurumi Facebook Page and pick your favorite number from 1-100! (You cannot choose the same number as someone else, so you may have to choose your second or third favorite!)

The WINNER will be announced on August 18, ...2010. Why that day? Because I like the number 18 and 2 weeks from today sounded like a good amount of time! I will use the True Random Generator and post the Number/Winner around 8pm EST. Contact info can be dealt with later.

Don't forget to share this with your friends!

If you don't have a Facebook account, you can enter here :)

Gorge has a brother!

I had some leftover green yarn from the first time I made Gorge, so I decided it was time for his brother to make his entrance. I did have to buy another skein for less than half of his body (from his belly button down). Lucky for me, the colors matched perfectly! I hate when you don't buy enough the first time! Anyway, I followed my pattern exactly but for some reason he is a little larger overall. Maybe I stuffed him more? /shrug . His fangs are longer and sharper, too!

**I love this yarn and if you're wondering what it is, it's Sensations Angel Hair yarn. I believe it is made by Jo-Ann Fabrics, but their shopping pages are under construction now so I'll create a link later!


On a side note, I found my very first amigurumi attempt! I don't know what was happening exactly, but I did manage to improve my skills! Lots of practice and a few sessions with online tutorials = Yes! You can learn how to crochet amigurumi! Yay!