Writers Worth Week is here again. It’s a shame writers still need to remind clients and potential clients about the value good writers bring to any project. Even sadder is that so many writers don’t value their own work or time like other professionals do.
To mark the occasion, Writers Worth Week founder Lori Widmer invited some writers to contribute guest posts for her blog, Words on the Page. I have the honor of being the first guest poster of the week.
If you’re a writer or work with writers, I encourage you to check out Lori’s blog this week. You won’t be disappointed.
Anyone with a dog knows a lot of dog treats have been recalled in recent months. Why risk your pet’s health on pre-made, processed by-products when making treats from scratch isn’t any harder than baking cookies?
That, and I have been looking for an excuse to use these cool doggie bone cookie cutters….
When a neighbor passed along this recipe her sister’s dogs loved, I asked Doggie Lily’s vet if it sounded like a healthy treat. She said pumpkin is really nutritious, good for digestion (it’s great for cats, too), then asked me to let her know how they turn out.
This weekend Doggie Lily and I broke out the rolling pin and started baking.
Measure and mix as directed, then use your hands to knead it into shape. Then roll out the dough and start cutting.
They don’t need much space for baking, so you can pack them fairly closely.
Bake as directed (flipping the treats half way through), and this is what you get.
She’s already had two medium sized treats and is still sniffing around for more.
With lots of leftover ingredients, we just might bake some more when Doggies Finn and Stella are here for their spring vacation next week.
What are some of the crazier things you’ve done or made for your furry babies?
Not long ago, my day job had me writing copy about Mexican dairy products for my client’s client. The main focus was on Mexican cheeses, but they also wanted me to write a few hundred words on crema. (This link is not to my copy.)
Naturally, I had to try making it.
Crema is often called Mexican sour cream, but it’s basically creme fraiche that hasn’t been left out quite as long. Neither is as thick as sour cream, and crema is typically a bit thinner than creme fraiche.
Recipes may vary slightly, but most I found said to heat 1 cup of whipping cream to just under 100 degrees, then stir in 1 or 2 tablespoon of buttermilk, put it in a glass jar, cover loosely and let it stand anywhere from 12-36 hours. (I think one recipe said 48 hours, but it depends on how warm the room is.) Cover and refrigerate. It’s good for about a week.
There’s no immediate gratification with this recipe, but luckily I’m pretty patient.
The longer it sits out, the thicker it gets. Use it in place of sour cream, or sweeten it and serve it with fresh fruit.
Unlike sour cream, crema (or creme fraiche, if you prefer) doesn’t separate when heated, making it a great addition to soups and other hot dishes.
What food-related experiments have you tried lately?
Much of the Midwest experienced devastating flooding this week. That happens when more rain falls in one day than fell throughout the entire previous summer – especially when that rain falls on soil that’s already soggy.
I’m lucky to live on a hill so no floodwater is near the house. But the runoff needs somewhere to go. With a driveway that abuts part of the foundation (on the up side of the hill, of course), heavy rain on wet soil usually means I’ll wake up to find a little water in the basement. Towels, fans and a wet vac can dry it up in a day. This time I woke up to three inches of water in the basement. The floor drains weren’t working.
That’s not much compared to what some basements had, but enough for the gas to be shut off. I had the basement pumped out and the floor drains are draining again. As required, I had the boiler, water heater and dryer all inspected to be sure it’s safe to have the gas turned back on. When I called Friday to schedule, they said the earliest they can get here is Monday between 8 AM and 5 PM. In the meantime, when I’m not cleaning the basement (or trying to write articles or blog posts with very cold fingers) I’m huddled under this:
Who knew that in late April it would be 52-degrees indoors and I’d still be curled up under the nice, thick and very warm afghan I made two years ago just because I thought it was fun?
I know some of you’ve been hit by flooding this week – much harder than I was. How are you faring? If you have any tips about cleaning up from a flood, please share them.
A couple weeks ago my sister-in-law told me “heavy wrists” are in style this season – the more bangles the better – so I decided to make some.
Late last year I made a few felted bracelets following a pattern someone else developed.
Some turned out really cute, but some wound up with a groove down the back where the edges curved in during felting. I knew there had to be a way to make smoother edges, so I created my own “pattern” by knitting and felting i-cord.
What’s i-cord, you ask? It’s a small tube of knitted fabric that looks kind of like knitted rope, and is often used as drawstrings or handles on bags.
Knitting i-cord is faster than knitting the same number of stitches in a flat piece since you never turn it. It’s sort of like a micro version of knitting in the round – using only two double-pointed needles.
My “pattern” is simple: knit about 12″ of i-cord from feltable wool yarn, then whip stitch the ends to form a circle. Some are made using 3-stitch i-cord, some with 5-stitch i-cord, a couple with 7-stitch i-cord.
Once you’ve knitted a few, pop them into a zipped laundry bag or into a pillow case tightly closed with rubber bands (I usually knot it, too). Set your washing machine for a small load and hot water. I like to add a tablespoon or so of baking soda to alleviate the “wet wool” smell. They might felt perfectly the first time, but sometimes it takes two or three cycles to achieve the look you want.
This is my trial batch, before felting:
The same bunch, after two feltings:
I put them on a marble rolling pin to dry because it seemed about the right circumference for bangles. It was perfect. My first batch was made with single stranded wool using size US 10.5 double-pointed needles. Next, I decided to try double stranding on size US 13 DPNs. That let me mix colors as desired. The result: slightly bulkier bracelets.
I kind of like mixing and matching the thicker and thinner bracelets. Pardon the odd angle, but it’s a bit tricky to take a photo of your own arm…
Heavy wrists might be in vogue, but I think I may have overdone it a bit. In my defense, they all went well with what I happened to be wearing that day.
If you’re a crocheter who’d like to try making felted bangles, let me know. Crocheted stitches don’t dissolve as nicely as knitted stitches, but I’m up for trying to test some ideas for crocheting some felted bangles, too.
My sister’s house is a vintage Chicago bungalow. It’s so vintage there aren’t any kitchen cupboards (but the pantry has lots of shelves). Chicago bungalows tend to be long and narrow, and hers is no exception. The central hall was always dark, since the only light fixture was by the foyer. A few years ago she found a really fun way to light up the hall while retaining its vintage charm.
She had an electrician install track lighting – since the tracks themselves are modern she worried they might look out of place, but you barely notice them – and a dimmer. Instead of hanging new lights, she put up simple fixtures with vintage glass shades. On the dimmest setting, they make a great nightlight, too.
I love vintage lighting, and helped her find a few of these shades at flea markets and antique malls. You can’t really tell in this photo, but the shades are different shapes and have different designs (hoping to get a close up or two of the lights to add to the post). I love the result so much that I would have copied it if a scuttle hole weren’t blocking the middle of my hallway ceiling.
Don’t you love the way old painted glass shades like these glow?
A few weeks ago, Forbes named Rockford, Illinois the 3rd Most Miserable City in the United States. Chicago came in a close 4th.
Some very creative local marketing pros quickly responded. Within days they turned the unflattering notoriety into a tourism campaign promoting many things Forbes‘ formula didn’t take into consideration:
The campaign has sparked a lot of local discussions. Naysayers say it’s a shallow attempt to gloss over the very real problems Rockford faces. Area cheerleaders argue that it showcases the area’s best features.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Like many cities, Rockford was hard hit by the Recession. Poverty is high, crime is worse than ever, and property taxes have gone up as property values have gone down. Yet all of those negatives don’t mean there aren’t good things, too. To me, this is an ad campaign designed to highlight positive things that actually exist in a city still struggling with many serious issues.
I also see it as a really creative response to harsh criticism. What are some memorable ways you’ve seen people, organizations or cities deal with negative press?
Remember the latest pair of pink sock monkeys I made?
I made them at the request of Cyndy, a family member who spends winters in Texas. Each year she organizes a golf outing with a luncheon and raffle to raise funds for local breast cancer organizations. The sock monkeys were among several items raffled at this year’s event.
I’m happy to say Cyndy’s efforts raised another $1,000 for Texas-based breast cancer programs, with a portion of the funds going to providing free mammograms for local women.
Turns out both monkeys will soon be relocating to Canada with their new families. I’m sure these cheeky monkeys will continue their crusade against cancer for many years to come.
Congratulations on a job well done, Cyndy!
With all the snow outside, it’s hard to believe March is here.
You also wouldn’t know it’s March by looking at my last blog post. It’s from February. Shame on me – especially considering March is once again both National Craft Month and National Crochet Month.
I wish I could say I’ve been so busy crafting and crocheting that I lost track of time, but the truth is I’ve been knee-deep in both snow shoveling and work lately. When you’re self-employed you have to tackle assignments as they come in, even if it means 10- and 12-hour work days and working through weekends and/or evenings to stay on top of things.
The other day I realized I haven’t knitted, crocheted or done any fun crafty stuff in weeks. While I’d love a day off, I’m glad to be this busy. It’s so much better than those dreaded lulls when you find yourself with no paying assignments. (Of course, freelance lulls are busy, too, since it takes effort to drum up new business!)
Stay tuned, though. I have some fun ideas for future blog post. I just need to find time to try those projects. What’s keeping you busy these days?
Dyeing Easter eggs is messy. I don’t actually like hard boiled eggs, but I do like the symbolism they hold this time of year. That’s why I try to find different ways to bring eggs to the Easter table.
Similar patterns are probably available elsewhere online for crocheters, but crocheted stitches don’t always felt as smoothly as knitted stitches.
The eggs don’t use much yarn, making them a great way to use scraps – just make sure they’re wool, alpaca, mohair or other feltable fibers. Synthetics won’t felt.
You can incorporate shorter lengths of yarn by knitting stripes or patterns. Want larger eggs? Use two strands of wool and use larger needles. I even doubled white yarn with a strand made of short bits of random colors, which resulted in speckled eggs. I call those my duck eggs. Use more scrap wool to stuff the eggs if you want solid eggs, or stuff them with fiberfill that you can remove later if you want to hide candy inside. (I tried both. The solid ones turned out the best.)
The magic of felting comes after the knitting is done. Pop the pieces into a zippered laundry bag or pillow case, toss them into the washing machine using hot water…a little agitation and and these….
Looking at the eggs reminds me of the projects some of the yarn came from. I wonder who I’ve made things for can spot remnants of their bag, clogs or scarf among these eggs?
If you want to get really creative, try needle felting designs or names on the eggs. Carefully, of course.
What spring projects are you working on right now?