Tiny crochet owl

Look who I found hanging out by my smelly shoes!

crochet owl 01
tiny crochet owl from scrap yarn

OK I guess I found him there because I put him there after I crocheted him. I got the pattern from Esther here. (Thanks, Esther!)  It looks like she made hers from cotton thread, so it’s even tinier than mine. Sweet!

I’m going to try again, this time with teensy yarn to make a teensy owl.



Why am I crocheting warm slippers in the hot part of the summer?

Why? (Because they are small and they use up scraps.)

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I had some chunky brown mystery yarn and a leftover bit of something soft and chunky and blue. Even though my feet were sweating buckets, I felt the need to crochet some warm slippers. I know, I’m sick that way.

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Then I held a strand of the brown chunky yarn together with some fuzzy stuff and made another pair.

I used an old-fashioned “no pattern” type of pattern. (magic ring, 6 sc for first round, 12 sc for second round, sc around for awhile, then make the opening and keep crocheting until the slipper is a little shorter than my foot. Then sew up the heel. Sorry, that’s as detailed as it gets for me.)

I was able to use up some scraps of yarn, and I’m sure in a few months, I will be very glad for some warn slippers!


Crochet Neko Atsume cat that makes me very uncomfortable…

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My daughter is sooo into Neko Atsume you may not believe it’s even possible. For the uninitiated, let me explain. It’s a game she has on her phone that involves leaving food and toys out for virtual feral cats, and then getting all excited and squealing when the cats come to your house and eat your food and play with your toys and leave you little contributions.

It seems to be some of the fun of cats without the litter box and hairballs. Wait a minute, I’d better check on that. There might be some sort of virtual digestive nuggets and fuzzpukes, but if so, they’re probably really, really cute.

I stumbled across this pattern on Pinterest and dragged out a bit of my “therapy yarn.”

crochet cat 20160622 (2)

I used a little bit of Bernat Cottontots in Sweet Cream, some Red Heart Bijou in Malted, and some kind of plain black worsted mystery yarn.

I was all ready to get started when I noticed that the pattern told me to make only three legs. SCREEEEECH! (That’s me putting on the brakes.) A discussion ensued.

Yes, yes, I know in the game there are often only three legs showing. We probably should assume the other leg is still there somewhere, but in a two-dimensional drawing on a phone game, we only see three at a time. But when I am making a three-dimensional amigurumi cat, I don’t want to make it with only three legs. Poor little guy!

My daughter and I went back and forth a bit until I caved and (mostly) followed the pattern directions.

I love how it turned out. (Thanks Rachchua, it’s an adorable pattern.) I’ll like it even better once I sew a fourth leg onto the back where no one will see it but me.  🙂


Vegetarian Reuben Sandwiches: dressing “recipe”

We eat so many reuben sandwiches around here, it’s not even funny.

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I grew up in New Ulm, Minnesota, a small town with a strong Bohemian/German sort of heritage. Church dinners were awesome – pork roast, sauerkraut, massive lead balls/potato dumplings, schmierkuchen. Yum, yum, yum! Fast forward a few years: kraut is my comfort food.

So when I make a reuben sandwich, it’s all about the kraut. For me, the meat and cheese on a reuben sandwich is only there to keep the bread from getting soggy. I don’t eat meat these days, so I substitute a slice or two of homemade mustard seitan. I’ll post that later.

My sandwich must have something creamy though, because I like creamy things, and creamy things act as a barrier to the bread so it doesn’t get too soggy.

reuben dressing 1

My favorite sandwich dressing

Lots of people use thousand island salad dressing in a reuben. I like that, but sometimes I think it’s too spicy or something and it takes away from the main focus of the sandwich, which is the sauerkraut. This is the dressing I like to use. You can call it a recipe if you like, but it’s not much of a recipe.


3-4 T roasted pepper spread

1 cup light mayo

Mix them together.

See? Not much of a recipe. So I’ll show you the pepper spread I use.

pepper spread 1

I buy this stuff at Big Lots and it runs about $3 a jar.

pepper spread 2
ingredients: peppers, eggplant, onions, tomato paste, sunflower oil, salt, garlic, parsley, acetic acid, natural capsicum flavoring or flavouring or whatever

It says to eat it within three days of opening, but it usually takes us a couple of weeks and we haven’t gotten food poisoning or anything like that. If I were a better person, I would freeze little portions in an ice cube tray, but I’m pretty lazy.

My daughter is vegan, so she does not eat regular mayo. She doesn’t eat vegan mayo either because she doesn’t like it. I made sandwiches for her one time using silken tofu and a little olive oil instead of mayo, but she wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole. She really doesn’t like most vegetables, or anything that reminds her of meat, or anything “weird.” What can I say? She has lots of smoothies! OK, I’m all off topic here.

Next time I make the seitan, I’ll take some photos and give you the recipe.

I don’t know why, but I crocheted a little hat for my bird.

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I had about half a skein of pink variegated embroidery floss left, and I figured if I used it all up, I wouldn’t have to bother putting it away where it belonged.  Plus, Porky needed a hat.  Sorry about the flash.

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Rainbow Beaded Memory Wire Bracelet

I didn’t drink enough coffee yesterday.  So I got a splitting headache.  I should have had a little something with caffeine late in the afternoon, but I thought I was too busy.  So then it got horrible right around 7:00, which is too late for caffeine.  But I had some anyway because I didn’t want to cry in front of everyone.

That means I was up after I normally would have been zonked.  So I made a little bracelet.  Tadaa!


I’m going to sell this one.  I’ve got it on eBay now, and so it will be on Bonanza for a little less tomorrow.
What have YOU been making?


Crafty Quickie: Memory Wire Bracelets


My daughter and I had a few minutes at the end of the day and she was feeling crafty, so we knocked out a couple of memory wire bracelets.  I chose some glass beads that were purplish and greenish and goldish.  She chose some plastic beads that were sparkly green and gray/blue pearls.  She is a faster beader than her mother.  When we ran out of time, she was already done and I was not, so I clipped the wire and ended it early.

When I conned her into posing for a photo, she wanted to cover her hands because her nails were not at their best.  I just laughed.  Her skin is so beautiful and she doesn’t even know it!  She looked at the photo when we were done and wondered why I had so many splotches and wrinkles on my hand.  I told her it was because I was 46.  The awesome thing is that I know in another 40 years, I may look at this photo and think how young my hands looked.  We never miss it until it’s gone!

More Spark-A-Doodle projects!

Spark-A-Doodle Pom Pom Cowl


Spark-A-Doodle Pom Pom Cowl


I realized I had better make a cowl to go along with the hat from a few days ago.  I used some more of the Festival Mix Fiber bulky  yarn to double-crochet a big rectangle and slip-stitched the ends together to form a loop.  Then I ran a row of single crochet around each side with the same blue Spark-A-Doodle.


Here’s a close-up of where I added the Spark-A-Doodle, including the end.  I left a bit at the beginning (a couple of inches before the first pom pom, and a couple inches at the end (after the last pom pom) and I tied them together.  It’s kind of hard to weave in the ends otherwise, with those fluffy balls in the way.  I figured a knot wouldn’t kill me.  🙂


My daughter requested a hair tie too.  I used a regular cheapo rubber band and tied on the bulky yarn.  I made a round of single crochet in the hair band, then switched to the Spark-A-Doodle for a round.

So my girl has a hat, cowl, and hairband, all matchy-matchy.  Right now, she’s wearing the hairband and the cowl and she’s beautiful!  (But again, too shy for a photo.)

To make the hat, cowl, and hair tie, I used about 1.8 ounces of the Spark-A-Doodle yarn, which is about half a skein.  I’m scheming some more projects already!

I finished the prankster hat as well, plus something else that turned out funny so I don’t know what it is yet, but I haven’t taken photos.  Maybe tomorrow.

How to make a homemade shrink plastic tag



I am the luckiest mom ever!  I have three awesome kids, and they keep me laughing like nobody’s business.

My eldest is fifteen, and he has special needs.  He speaks well and often, maybe even constantly, and sometimes we wonder what in the world he is talking about.  He says things differently from how everyone else talks, and there seems to be a secret code.  Whenever we crack the code for a new phrase that he has been using, we all get pretty excited.  It is really fun to see how his brain connects things together.  He always has an unusual point of view, and we learn a lot about the world when we look at it through his eyes.

Case in point:  One day a couple of years ago, he came home from school and did his usual settling thing (putting his backpack away, using the bathroom, getting a snack, etc.) but instead of rushing to the computer like usual, he scurried for the couch and covered himself up with a blanket.  Hmm…I got suspicious and pulled the blanket off, asking, “What are you doing down there?”  He responded “Uh-uh!” shaking his head from side to side and obviously posing.  Then when he saw that he was busted, he smiled and said, “Eat a BLOOK…of butter!”  Yes, he had a whole stick of butter in there, and yes, he was trying to eat it.

Pretty soon, every time I left him alone for even a minute, I came back to find him hiding under the blanket with a stick of butter, and each time we would repeat our lines.  “What are you doing down there?”  “Uh-uh!”  “Eat a BLOOK of butter!”  Most of the time, he didn’t even eat the butter.  He just waited for me to bust him so that we could play our BLOOK of butter game.  It was so silly, the whole family had to get involved.  We found ourselves asking for a BLOOK of butter at the dinner table, tricking him to see if he noticed when we changed the words to the ritual, hiding the butter, taking turns playing his part in the game, and so on.  Remember this was a couple of years ago.  We did this for a couple of years without really understanding at all.

Recently, we bought The Lorax for movie night.  We knew our eldest had seen it in the theater with his friends from school, and he had told us it was a good movie.  Once we started watching the movie, I understood why he liked it so much.  The best part of the movie for my son is a group of animals called Bar-ba-loots.  They look like adorable bears.  There is one Bar-ba-loot in particular who is very sweet and gentle.  He’s the biggest one, and he wears his heart on his sleeve.  When the Once-ler cuts down the tree, all the Bar-ba-loots stand in a circle and hold hands, but the biggest one also cries.  He loves to eat too, and he’s just a gentle, lovable teddy bear.  And, you’ve got it, there’s a moment where the Barbaloots have invited themselves over to the Once-ler’s house, and the Once-ler opens the fridge, and there he is:  the biggest Bar-ba-loot, popping a whole stick of butter into his mouth.  We went crazy laughing, and we played that scene over and over.  Now we knew where the butter-eating came from, and my son was able to tell us that he called it a BLOOK because it sounds like Bar-ba-LOOT.

That’s the long drawn-out explanation for my project I am showing off here.  I made my son a tag for his backpack with a BLOOK of butter on it.  He uses his backpack every day, and he takes it everywhere he goes, so I hope he will get a lot of smiles out of this little tag.

When I was a girl, I saw TV commercials for something called Shrinky Dinks.  Shrinky Dinks were a craft kit you could buy made with polystyrene, which is #6 recyclable plastic.  You could color the plastic and then melt it in the oven and it would shrink.  Then you could use the shrunken plastic to make things.  I never used them when I was a kid because they were kind of expensive.  But nowadays, we crafters save money by cutting up our trays from the grocery store salad bar instead.



Here’s how to make a BLOOK of butter backpack tag with shrink plastic.

You will need the following:

One #6 recyclable plastic tray

Bic permanent markers in whatever colors you like.  Do not use Sharpies.  I’ll tell you why below.

An oven

A pan or cookie sheet


Two sheets of aluminum foil

Your dullest, lousiest scissors

A hole punch.  If you’ve got a dull, lousy one, use it.

About 12 inches of thread.  Dental floss will work.

A piece of strong cord for your finished tag.

optional, but awesome: Future acrylic floor wax.  Just a few drops.


I'm CRAFTY, not artistic.
I’m CRAFTY, not artistic.

The first thing I had to do is get some inspiration.  And also a little drawing.  I drew this myself.  Can you tell?  I had to write the word “butter” on it so you could figure out what it was.

I have found the best size to be about 3 inches across, or maybe a little smaller.  When I make my tags too big, they tend to curl up on themselves in the oven.

I turned on the oven to 350 degrees and let it preheat.



Next, I cut out my plastic tray.  I used the flat part.  I made it a little bigger than my drawing.

I used the (almost) dullest scissors in the house because cutting the plastic really trashes scissors.  I did not use the little kids’s “hair-proof” scissors.  Somehow, my kids managed to cut hair with them.  But they do not work on plastic, or paper, or string, or really anything else.  They mostly work to remove money from parents’s wallets.  But that’s a side issue.


Next I traced the design on the plastic.  I did this with a black permanent Bic marker.  I used to use Sharpies because I had them on hand, but they rub off too easily.  Bic markers work much better.  I used a fine point marker for this project.  Bic also makes ultra-fine point markers for tiny details, and I like them too.


Then I colored in the yellow parts around my black outline.  Why did I do that?  It wasn’t very smart because I had to be careful not to get black ink on my yellow marker, but it turned out OK anyway.

I punched a hole in the top of the plastic, but I couldn’t manage a photo because I only have two hands.  How do real bloggers do this??


Then I got smart, and re-did my butter drawing to look less squashed.  I have three kids.  If I make a blook-of-butter tag for one of them, I had better make one for each of them!


This time I got smart.  I colored the yellow part, then traced the outline and wrote in my letters.  I also wrote “1 blook,” just so there’s no mistake about it.



Ah, that looks better!

Next, I put my two tags on a foil-lined tray and popped it into the oven (which I had preheated to 350 degrees).


I checked after a couple of minutes and freaked out because my tags were curling up like crazy.

I’m a big girl, and I’ve done this before, so I knew it would be OK, but I needed something to do so that I wouldn’t run around screaming or anything.  I decided to make that third tag.


This one is dedicated to science.  See where I left the #6 recyclable symbol in the corner?  I wondered if it would stay or if it would shrink out.  My hypothesis: it would shrink out.  (I figured these trays are probably made by heat-shaping them, so maybe heating again would un-shape the symbol.)  Let’s see!


At about the same time as I finished preparing my third tag, the first two tags stopped shrinking and looked mostly flattened out.

I wanted my tags to be all the way flat, so I took the tray out of the oven, put another sheet of foil on top of the tags, and flattened them all the way with my hand on a potholder.  I held them for about 10 seconds.  Then I flipped them off the tray onto the table, and put my third tag in the oven.


Here are the first two tags.  You can see that they shrunk down to about half their original size, and they were thicker.


I decided to coat them with a little acrylic so the design would not rub off.  To do that, I ran a piece of thread through the hole.


Then I set up a very high-tech system called a couple of cups, some thread, and two clothespins.  I left a little room between tags so they wouldn’t bump into each other.


I painted each tag with a tiny bit of Pledge floor finish.  It used to be called Future, but I guess Pledge bought Future or some such thing.  I think I could use a little clear nail polish instead.  I’ll try that next time and let you know how it goes.

Then I let the tags dry for an hour or so.



Here’s the stringing part.  The hole shrunk too, and it was too tiny to let me easily run my satin cord through.  So I made a loop with sewing thread, and pulled the satin cord through the hole with the thread.


Then it was ready to tie!



I put it on my son’s backpack with all the other stuff he keeps there.  Cute, huh?


And here we go for science.  Can you tell which tag had the #6 recyclable symbol on it?  I can’t either.

We keep a kit at home with the essentials: cut-up plastic trays, the dull scissors, the hole punch, the markers, and printouts from the internet (and our own drawings) of ideas we have for shrink plastic art projects.  We make things with pets and other animals, favorite movies and video games, flowers, foods, silly phrases, you get the idea.  We never lack for inspiration around here.

Since we keep it all in a kit, we can make a little art whenever we have a few minutes.  It takes about 15 minutes start to finish for the drawing and shrinking part.  The sealing with acrylic is optional, and can be done later if necessary.

As a mom, I like to have lots of little creative projects handy so we don’t get too bored.  My kids know if they complain about being bored, I will put them to work, so they like having a kit too.

I hope you enjoyed learning how I made these tags.  I’d like to see what you are making too.  If you would like to submit photos of whatever you’re making, please send me a message.  I don’t know how yet, but there’s probably a button on this page somewhere…or you can make a comment and we’ll figure it out together.

Thanks for reading!