Sunday, September 30, 2012

Evening All,
I'm Mel and you can usually find me at my blog Mellywood's Mansion, where I fumble my around the house trying my hand at DIY. Sometimes I do well and other times I don't. Almost every project comes with a story, which, between the lines reads, I really shouldn't be legally allowed to call myself a DIY blogger.

However I am so excited to be serving up some fun for you here at the Inspiration Cafe, and I'm not going to lie, the whole thing has left me a nervous wreck.

On the menu today, is my ruffle scarf specialty.

I'm going to confess, I love scarves, fabric scarves are pretty but I love nothing more, than buying the latest winter yarns and click clacking up some fun.

My latest obsession - The Ruffle Scarf.

These scarves look amazing and are so simple, even if you are a beginner knitter you can whip one of these up in a jiffy.

1 ball of yarn (there are many different brands, but research suggests that Boutique Sashay Yarn can be purchased anywhere. I found it for sale here ) I used a $2 ball I found in store at Riot.
6mm needles or Size 10 for the U.S.

Now the instructions can be very confusing, if your lucky enough to get them, but it's really simple. So beware lots of pictures, but once you get it, you'll be pumping these out by the dozen.

Casting on, now this is where it is different than your normal knitting, first you need to pull apart the wool, like this. Don't try to do the whole ball, just do it a bit at a time

Then, leaving a very short tail (about an inch - 1.5 inch) weave the yarn through every SECOND hole, at the top of the yarn. The top is the side that does not have a nice finished edge. So basically there is no yarn over, it's just putting the needle through the ready made holes.

Do this until you have 6 loops.

Then grab your second needle and just like you would normally knit, put the needle in your right hand through the first loop on the left hand needle. Leave a one hole space and place the next hole onto the right hand needle like so.

The pull it over the top of the loop, as you would do when knitting with regular yarn.

Repeat this, and every few rows gently tug on the scarf, this pulls out the ruffles.

Don't be too concerned if your yarn rolls, like this

Continue until you have approximately 10 inches of yarn left

Cast off using the same method, knit two loops, then take the 1st loop (the one furthest from the needle point) and lift it over the 2nd loop and drop it off. Continue to the last loop. Then grab what's left of the tail, bring it through the last loop and tightly tie it off in a knot - this will be hidden by the last ruffle.

Trim the tails, hold it in the middle to make sure the ends are even, and there you have it, one ruffled scarf.

Now I'm not going to lie, I have about 6 of these in all different colors, Love them!

Here's the blue one.

Thanks for reading and to all the ladies from Inspiration Cafe for having me. I must go now because apparently I have to wash all the coffee cups, left sitting on the table, here at the cafe.

Mel xo

Friday, September 28, 2012

Inspiration Cafe Round 3 Wrap Up!

 Hello Inspiration Cafe readers... Its time to wrap up round 3!

You will notice some big changes coming up very soon. We are very excited and we hope you will be joining us for more!

First off though, we are rapt that Sherry from Pondered Primed Perfected
has decided to rejoin us after taking a short blogging break. It just wouldn't be the same without her, so welcome back Sherry....


In this last round, Sherry took a break so we have 4 fun projects to share with you in case you missed them the first time:

1 Easy Wrap Bracelet by Natalie from NorthShore Days
2. Baked Apple Tortilla Rolls by Mary from Sweet Little Bluebird
3. House Haunts by Heather from The Beating Heart
4. Four for Fall by Danni from Silo Hill Farm

Now, the 5 of us are taking a week or two off to implement our changes and get a whole new Inspiration Cafe makeover....

So this coming Monday we have a very special guest, sharing an awesome craft. You do not want to miss Mel from Mellywood's Mansion.

Please pop on over and visit her this weekend and give her some Inspiration Cafe love.

And finally - check out our fab Facebook badge - our Mary designed it! And while you're checking it out, don't forget to "like" us too


 Have a great weekend and we will see you all on Monday with Mel

Take care



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

So close...and yet so far...

My Christmas quilt, Frolic is moving along...not completely at a snails pace...but not speedily either? 

I've been working on the largest panel, The Christmas Village, and it's taken a good amount of time.  It's a tricky piece because it's 50.5 inches long.  Which is a lot of fabric that you have to hold folded up in your hands.  And then to try and sew!  Uhhhggg!  Painful.  The other problem is that parts of the trees and tall buildings extend above this panel into the panel above.

But it's not that simple, no it isn't.  Because I can't sew that upper panel until I've completed this lower panel due to the large and unwieldy let's just say, I had to get creative.

The instructions say to sew as much of the lower panel as possible before sewing on the top panel.  Okay.  So this is what I did to help make it more manageable.  After I got my pieces in place and ironed on (I am using fusible web), I folded up the side that I wasn't working on.  So instead of twisting and turning 50.5 inches, it was more like 10.  Much easier.  I then sewed it a bit at a time, folding and refolding the excess fabric, on both sides as I went.  Beware of piercing your flesh due to excess pins all over.

Notice how parts of this are hanging off the top.  That's what I'm talking about.  Tricky.

I simply sewed up to a point where I felt I could safely fold down the tops and not have them get caught in the sewing machine when I sewed the other panel on.  Worked great!  I cut it a little close a few times.  Phew!

The other difficulty I had was, it's seriously thick with the fusible web.  Not only am I sewing through 4 or 5 layers of fabric at times, but then you also are sewing through the adhesive...while holding onto 50.5 inches of unwieldy quilt panel!  I had to be creative.  The Mister wonders why I prick myself so much with the needle.  Because you're supposed to.  How else am I supposed to know if the needle is in the right position and ready to shift upwards?  Huh?  He is concerned for the health of my pricking finger.  It's pretty rough and calloused.

Buildings are mostly tacked down and looking cute.  Time for snow...another tricky situation...

There are snow banks that go up and down around the buildings and trees.  Some things are placed higher than others, so I didn't want to run into the situation where my snow didn't go high enough.  I cut out a large piece of my snow fabric and pinned it on, making sure that it was high enough everywhere!

With my pattern as a guide, I drew on where I wanted my snow to bank and proceeded to cut.

I think sewed it on using my sewing machine.  This is really a mutli-sewing-method project.  turn under applique, machine applique, and blanket stitch by hand.  It's okay, you don't hardly notice a difference.  It all looks cute.

Now sew the upper panel.  Do you see those blank green spots.  That's where the tops of trees and buildings go.

Pin down your tops and start you can see this is where I went a touch too close to the top. But it worked out.  Then pray that when you iron your seam allowance flat that you will also iron your tops in the correct spot.

Here is everything hanging on my project wall.  Sorry it's so dark, it's down in the basement.  But as you can see I now have the bottom panel all sewn together.  Now I just have to add the embellishments and faces on the snowman and I will be 1/3 done with the top.  I mean, come on!  That's amazing!

Quilting with excitement.  Christmas is coming!

Thanks for reading!


Monday, September 24, 2012

4 for Fall by Dannie...Inspiration Cafe

Welcome Inspiration Cafe Patrons!  It's Danni from Silo Hill Farm today.  Fall is upon us here in the Midwest and with the change in the season comes some changes here at the cafe.  We are considering adding an occasional guest poster to our menu, so if you think you might like to give that a try, just contact any one of our wonderful Inspiration Cafe contributors and let them know!  
Today, I have two fun and easy projects for you, plus a few quick ways to spruce up some of your old fall decor.  Let's start with this:
Last year I had this half pumpkin and although I thought it was really cool in the store....when I brought it home and hung it on my wall....
It just had zero pizazz and I was not lovin it.  This year I decided to cute it up a little and give it some presence.
I found these little leaves in the dollar bin at Michael's and thought they just might do the trick.
Now you don't have to have a half pumpkin to do this, it would be lovely on a regular foam pumpkin or, if you're ambitious and trust yourself with sharp instruments, you can cut a foam pumpkin in half.  Either way, just lay out your leaves the way you think they might look best.

I set my pumpkin in a colander to keep it stable while I worked.  Using white glue, adhere your leaves to the foam pumpkin and add whatever trimmings you like.  I used  some small bittersweet berries.  Easy as pumpkin pie!  Much better don't you think?
Now, because I was happy with this little makeover, I looked around and found a few other things that I thought I could spruce up a bit.
I had an oil candle that just had a ribbon tied around it.  Boring.  I added a few faux leaves from an old garland and a sparkly gem and voila....

Suddenly it has come to life with no money spent.  My favorite kind of project for sure!
Now I'm just looking for more easy, "use what I have" projects.  I'm not a huge fan of raffia, and I've had some for years that I've never used.  Cutting raffia can be a mess and it seems to go everywhere when I use it.  I just looped a bunch of it together and tied it together in the middle with some wire.
 Then I cut open each end of the loop on both sides and trimmed it down to a smaller size.  I wired a piece of bittersweet to hang down from the center and added a little ribbon bow to the center to hide the wire.  
It reminds me of mistletoe.  Autumn Mistletoe...not a bad idea!
If you are a regular follower, you might remember earlier this week I was lucky enough to receive some beautiful buckeyes from Mary at Sweet Little Bluebird.  I have been scattering them all over my fall decor because they are just so much fun!  I had a little mini-vase and I put some of the buckeyes in it and added small pieces of bittersweet.
 This is just a tiny little vase, sitting on an old ceramic insulator that I wrapped in a piece of garden twine.  I can think of several places in my home that have room for something tiny and fall-ish.  Sometimes when something is so simple and beautiful, it doesn't need to make a big statement.  
Pretty much the only money I spent on these four little makeovers was the leaves I got in the dollar bin at Michael's.  Not bad, huh?
The moral of this post is shop local....real your own home!  Sometimes a "fresh coat of paint on the old barn door" looks pretty cute!

Thanks for the great ideas Danni, you are awesome!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

You better watch out, you better not cry...

That's right, gotta get working on the never-ending Christmas quilt.

Here's some shots of what I have done so the way, I love making this with the bright, spring colors.  It's unusual for Christmas, but so darn cute!

I have been working on this...for two years now...It's called Frolic and while I really really like it, I had no anticipation of finishing it this year...or in the next decade due to my chosen applique method.  I was doing what is called freezer paper applique.   Too slow!  Too much work.  And...

I wasn't loving how it was turning out. I am not an accurate enough turn-under appliquer to keep going with this method.  As you can see from the above picture, that's a panel I get to remake...because...yeah, not awesome.

Luckily I took a class and it reminded me that Fusible Web Applique is a better option.  It's easy.  It looks exactly like you cut it out.  So, even though I was half-way done with the quilt, I was changing my sewing method.   Everything from this point onward, is fusible web applique...and I'm pretty sure that I'm going to leave it like that.  Half fusible web applique and half freezer paper applique...and I think I'm okay with it.  We'll see. 

I believe in sewing for fun.  I know that if I have to remake every panel I will have anger issues towards it, and it won't be fun. So, I have to resign myself to having it half and half and only fix the ones that I completely hate.  Like the one above...unless I decide I have to fix them be determined.

So, that's some of what I've already made...get ready in a bit to see the new, and I hope, better ones!  SO EXCITED!  Oh, and by the way...60% sure this may be ready by this Christmas.  Cross fingers.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rainbow Pico de Gallo

Got should make some delicious and healthy, homemade pico de gallo.  Forget the fact that something so good for you...goes on chips....which then in turn makes it less healthy.  It's just so yummy!

In my garden, I try to mainly plant heirlooms.  I feel more connected to the gardening heritage this way.  I feel like these seeds have been treasured and handed down through generations.  So, there's something special about them.  Besides the fact that they taste better than any tomato you will ever buy in a grocery store...hands down.  The Mister hates tomatoes...unless they are grown in our family plot.  Store-bought tomatoes have almost zero flavor and the texture is so rubbery.  A home-grown heirloom tomato is overflowing with flavor and bursts in your mouth with juicy goodness.

The only problem with homemade pico de gallo is...the chopping.  There is a ton of chopping involved.  And somehow, my kitchen always turns into a disaster zone when I make it.  There's tomato juice running down my arm and dripping onto the floor.  Bits of onion and pepper escape when getting chopped and hide under the cutting board.  Cilantro gets strewn every directions and clings to my, just be aware that making this will take you a bit more time than you think.  Because you've got to chop everything fresh!!!  But it's worth it.  Especially if you can convince The Mister to clean up because...he loves you doesn't he?  And didn't you make him the tastiest dinner ever?  Eyelash flutter, flutter, flutter...ahem...

Heirloom Rainbow Pico De Gallo

A giant pile of freshly picked, ripe heirloom tomatoes.  Some of the variety I have here are Green Zebra, Black Cherry, Yellow Plum and Fox Cherry
1/2 to 1 onion, any variety will do
1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper.  I had some Padron peppers and so I chopped a couple of those along with 1/2 of a jalapeno. 
1 bunch cilantro
1-2 limes, including the lime zest of one of them.  I know, the zest right?  Oh, it makes such a difference.  Do the zest part, you won't regret it.
garlic salt
salt and pepper

***Remember, before we get started, make this how you like it.  If you like more onion flavor...bump up the onions, if you don't like cilantro, ditch it.***

Chop up your tomatoes.  As I was mostly using cherry variety, I quartered mine.  This is a larger chop than you will usually find in pico de gallo, but it was so good!  Put in a medium bowl.
Dice your onion.  I would say that I typically like a proportion of 2/3 tomato to 1/3 onion.  Add to bowl.
Chop up your peppers.  Watch this.  If you don't like too much spicy, get rid of the ribs and seeds...but don't touch any sensitive body parts until after you've washed your hands with soap and water...even then, be careful.  Add to bowl.
Chop up your cilantro quite fine.  Add to bowl.
Zest your lime.  Add to bowl.
Squeeze in the lime juice from one lime.  Depending on how juicy it is, you might not need the other one.
Add salt and pepper to taste...but not too much salt because you are also going to add some...
Add garlic salt to taste. 

Taste.  Does it need more salt?  Lime Juice?  Onion?  Go ahead and add it now.  Taste again.  Now taste again and this time do it with a chip.  It is very important to get the seasoning right with pico de gallo.

Enjoy and devour...maybe on some...

Homemade nachos. 

Here's a quick recipe for homemade nachos using Heirloom Rainbow Pico de Gallo

Corn chips
Taco meat
cheddar cheese
nacho cheese...yes both kinds
pico de gallo
sour cream

Okay, so what you do is this...

Make your taco meat.  I just brown the beef.  Add some black beans or kidney beans or both, including their juice.  Taco seasoning and simmer.  You want to reduce the amount of liquid so you don't get soggy nachos.

Throw your chips on a baking sheet.  Top with shredded cheddar.  Broil on high for a minute or until meltsy. 

Portion chips onto individual plates.  Drizzle with some melted nacho cheese.  Top with some taco meat.  On top of the taco meat put a large scoop of pico de gallo, some homemade guacamole and some sour cream. 

Eat and enjoy the good end of summer tomato life.
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