Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Once He Came in Blessing

Blessed Advent.  Today is December 18th and while I may blurt out a "Merry Christmas" or two born out of habit, I do not mistake that we, the church, are observing Advent, not Christmas, at this time.

For thousands of years God's people have waited. Since the fall, we have waited, and the church continues to wait.  Those who are asleep in Christ as well as we who are alive... we wait.  We wait for the restoration of all creation; for the removal of sin and all its deformity, decimation, and desecration.

And while we wait, our Lord comes.  He came to the Hebrews in fire, cloud, and manna.  He came to Mary and the disciples in flesh and blood.  And He comes to us in Bread and Wine.

The season of Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of our Lord and Savior.  The coming of our Immanuel, God with us.  And He is with us.   He is the Christ and He comes to us in His Word and Sacraments.  Advent ends with Christmas, with the Christ Mass. Advent ends with the giving of the very thing we have been praying would come. It ends with our Lord coming to us in the Holy Supper;  His true body, His true blood.  We kneel at the altar just as the shepherds knelt at the manger, and we also... behold the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.

Receive Christ this Christmas.  Receive His body and His blood. Receive His Word.  Receive His forgiveness.
Amen, Come Lord Jesus.

St. John Lutheran Church celebrates Christmas at 9:00 on Christmas morning.
416 Main Ave.
Clinton, Iowa

Once He Came in Blessing

Once He came in blessing, 
All our sins redressing; 

Came in likeness lowly,

Son of God most holy;
Bore the cross to save us;
Hope and freedom gave us.

Now He gently leads us;
With Himself He feeds us
Precious food from heaven,
Pledge of peace here given,  
Manna that will nourish
Souls that they may flourish. 

Soon will come that hour
When with mighty power
Christ will come in splendor
And will judgment render,
With the faithful sharing
Joy beyond comparing

Come, then, O Lord Jesus,
From our sins release us. 
Keep our hearts believing,
That we, grace receiving, 
Ever may confess You
Till in heav'n we bless You.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hot Dog Wrap Ups

Lammersville School 1904-1905
Going to a small rural K-8 school in northern California was a blessing I took for granted.  My parents picked very carefully where they would live based on the school system.  Back in 1979, Lammersville School was the place I spent a lot of my time.

One thing I took for granted was the cafeteria food we ate.  I have since come to realize that not all school kids ate the way we did.  The ladies in our cafeteria made so much of our food from scratch and oh, man, it was good.
Lammersville School...
Closer to what it looked like when I attended.

One of my favorite lunch days was when we got "wiener wrap-ups"... yeah, it needed a name change. To make these, the Lunch Ladies took the fabulous dough they used for our rolls and ... well, used it to wrap up hot dogs.

This recipe is my effort
to regain the past...or at the very least attempt going home again.  It comes pretty dern close.  At any rate, my boys love it.  So does the veggie girl, but for her I wrap up a tofu brat.  ;)

I use my trusty dinner roll recipe I shared in this blog entry. My Favorite Dough Recipe
 Put ingredients into the bread machine in the order they are listed:

1 egg
1/2 stick butter cut into chunks (1/4 c.)
1/2 c. hot water
1/2 c. warm milk (I usually mix the hot water and milk together and call it warm)
1/2 tsp. salt
 3 3/4 cups flour... often I use half wheat flour and it gives it a nice sweet taste.
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. active dry yeast (or one packet)

Set your machine for "dough"
Start your machine at least 2 hours before you want dinner so the dough has enough time to go through all it's cycles and you have time to roll out and bake the dogs.

 I do the same thing as for dinner rolls, only instead of 2oz portions, I use 3 oz. portions.  I use my digital food scale to weight the pieces.  I highly recommend everyone get a digital food scale, comes in handy.

Preheat your oven to 375 and line a cooking tray with parchment paper.  Parchment paper is the way to go, folks.  I simply crumple up the paper, throw it away and put the pan back into my cupboard.  Way easy cleanup.

I roll the dough out into a long oval, slap a piece of cheese in the middle, grab a dog... we use Jennie-o turkey dogs... and start rolling. You'll roll it a few times. You can fold over the ends if you don't like your dog peeking out, but I've decided that takes too much time.

Pinch the dough together and place the dog seam side down on the baking tray lined with parchment paper. Make more than you need... I try to do the whole package of dogs.
Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes or until the bread starts to get golden brown.  You'll smell the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread and you won't be able to wait another minute!

These reheat beautifully in the microwave for another meal.

Get out the ketchup and mustard and enjoy!

(I made these last night for the boys and whisked them out of the oven just before I took off for a night out with some girlfriends... so there is no "after" photo. )  I'll try to remember the next time I make them, to take a picture... :)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. 
Proverbs 18:24

I am a middle sister.  I have two beautiful, intelligent, fun sisters who flank me on either side of the birth order.  I love them both dearly.

Both of my sisters have had the immense heartache of losing a child.  I have never known that grief, and while I do cry, pray, and try to empathize with their sorrow, the truth is,  I just don't know what that kind of heart wrenching pain is like.  But there is One who knows.

If it were possible, I would take their grief and share it with them, somehow making it less for them.  But it isn't possible.  Even if I had experienced similar tragedy, the fact that I know what they are feeling won't remove or even lessen their loss.  There is only One who truly removes our sorrow.  Only One who has destroyed the lasting effects of death, grief and mourning.  His name is Jesus and He sticks closer than a brother... or sister.

This side of heaven, they will continue to bear the loss.  In this life it won't leave them, but there is a promise; a promise of life eternal with Christ; a life to be lived with those who have fallen asleep in Him; a promise that one day my sisters will be reunited with their babies, and their sorrow will end.  Forever.

I can't truly share in their grief, but I can share in their hope.  I can remind them that there is One who has conquered death. One who has defeated it.  Death no longer holds us.  When we believe on Christ for our salvation, repenting and believing on Him for life, we are promised new life.

Outside of Christ, there is no life, there is no hope.  Repent of your sin.  Believe on Christ for the forgiveness of your sin and for the salvation of your soul.  It is in His life, His death, and His resurrection that we are given this hope of eternity with Him. He alone will turn our mourning to joy.
Amen, Come Lord Jesus.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vegetarian Options and Homemade Taco Seasoning

So, I have mentioned a few times that my 18 year old daughter has chosen the vegetarian's diet, and this often requires some creative thinking on my meal-planning-part.  It doesn't bother me at all that she has decided meat needs to be omitted from her life.  In fact because of it, we have all cut down on the amount of meat we consume.  We don't think it is wrong to eat meat, not at all, but we have noticed that many of our stomach woes were a direct result of certain kinds of meat... namely the ever delicious red meat.

And while I still adore a medium rare, thick cut, filet mignon...It happens more like once or twice a year instead of once or twice a month.

As a result, I have reworked some favorite meals and added new ones with my daughter's input to my repertoire of recipes, and I thought there might be a few friends who could use some good ideas for great tasting, easy to make, vegetarian (not vegan) meals.

Note: All of these vegetarian dishes have a distinct "Mexican" feel to them or at the very least a "Southwestern" theme.  Because I use these spices so frequently together, I make my own Taco Seasoning... and I'm terrible at measuring.  Basically, I use an empty Parmesan Cheese bottle and fill it with:

Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • one bottle chili powder
  • one bottle ground cumin
  • plenty of diced onions
  • enough garlic powder
  • a show of paprika
  • salt
  • pepper
Looks a little like sand art.  Now shake it all up and there ya go.  Handy dandy Taco Seasoning.

Southwestern Egg Rolls and Avocado Dip

Mix the following ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 1 boxed package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • half a small onion finely minced (or a small palm full of dried minced onions will work)
  • 1 small can diced green chilis
  • 1 TBS lime juice (more if you like)
  • 1 TBS cilantro from a tube... you're welcome to cut up fresh, but I always have this on hand and it is easy!
  • Taco Seasoning to your taste.
  • 1 package of egg roll wrappers.  I get mine in the veggie section of the produce aisle.

You can make this ahead of time, but if you refrigerate it... just remember to adjust your baking time to compensate for cold filling.

Fill egg roll wrappers and roll.  The package should show how to fold. Spray your cookie tray with Pam and put your egg rolls on as soon as you make them.  I like to spray the egg rolls a little with the Pam spray.  You could also use oil from an oil spritzer (like from pampered chef).
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Flip, then cook another 10-15.
 If refrigerated, flip and cook another 10 minutes.

Avocado Dip

  • 1 Avocado mashed
  • 1/4 cup Ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • A shake or two of taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2  tsp agave nectar

I use my immersion blender and mix all this in a small bowl.  It can be done with a sturdy whisk, I would imagine.

TIP:  I usually serve this with some Lime and Cilantro Basamati Rice.  Basamati Rice smells like popped corn as you cook it.  It is our favorite rice. Just cook the rice as the package says, drain, then add about a TBS of lime juice and as much cilantro as you can handle :).

Emily's Favorite Rice Dish

This was discovered while being the guests at a friend's home in Colorado.  She made this and we all fell in love with it.  Especially the Basamati Rice.

Bring to boil 6 cups of water.  Add 1 cup of Basamati Rice and reduce heat to low boil/simmer.  Let this simmer uncovered for 12 minutes. The rice will not absorb all the water, so you'll need to drain it.  Set it aside and let cool.


  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 Avocado cut into chunks
  • 1 ripe mango peeled and cut into chunks (sometimes we just use canned pineapple chunks or canned mandarin orange slices)
  • 1 TBS lime juice
  • 1 TBS cilantro from a tube (told you I used this a lot)
  • pinch of salt
  • Basamati Rice

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  That's it.  Serve as a side or as a light meal.

Black Bean Burgers

  • 1 can black beans drained, but not rinsed
  • 1/2 can garbonzo (chick peas) drained but not rinsed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced pepper
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 TBS cilantro from a tube

Put all ingredients into a bowl and use either a potato masher or a pastry utensil to mash together.  Sometimes I reserve a few of the black beans to stir in whole.  Shape into "burgers" and fry in a pan on med. high heat with a couple TBS. of hot oil.  A few minutes on each side should do the trick.  I also wrap these individually and put them in the fridge ahead of time.  Just add a few minutes cooking time to ensure they are heated through.

TIP: Really great with some hummus spread on a toasted ciabatta roll.  Add a thickly sliced tomato, some sturdy kale and voila!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Proverbs 5 on September 5

It is my goal to read a chapter of Proverbs everyday for a month.  I have been attempting this for the past 13 years... and I have yet to get a month perfect.  But even in my failure to do this simple task, God is faithful.  His Word is faithful, even when I am not.

This morning I opened my Bible to Proverbs 5... after all, it is September 5th.

Proverb chapter 5 is a warning against Adultery.
 It begins:

My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge.  

For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.

Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.

I stop here because I've read this before.  Many times.

Yes, adultery is bad.  Stay away from adultery.  Okay, so that's one way of seeing this; the obvious.  But I know God's word is layered, and it often works in a circular pattern, revisiting themes.  So, other than the clear warning against having intimate relations with someone who isn't my husband, what am I reading here?

What am I being warned about (other than marital adultery?).  Well, I know that God's people, Israel, were often described as an "adulterous people" because of their unfaithfulness to God, worshiping other gods.  So this is adultery:  The breaking of the first Commandment, "You shall have no other gods before Me."

And I am guilty of this.  When I exalt something or someone to a higher place of authority than God and His Word... I am committing adultery against my God.

My son,  Well,  I know that even though I am a woman... I can include myself in the "My son".  I am a child of God, therefore, I am being spoken to here.  This Proverb is a warning to me, a child of God.

Be attentive to my wisdom;    Look alive! No sleeping in class.  God has something important for me and as my Father, he cares that I retain it.  He isn't speaking just to hear His own voice.  He has something for me and I need to be aware.

Incline your ear to my understanding,  We must purpose to hear God's Word; read God's Word; study God's Word.  It is in the Scriptures that we find HIS understanding.

That you may keep discretion,  When we seek to know the mysteries of God, to understand His Words to us, we gain wisdom.  Discretion.. the act of being discreet.  Discretion is knowing when to shut your mouth.  It's like humility and wisdom combined.

and your lips may guard knowledge.  If discretion is knowing when to shut up, this portion teaches us when to speak up.  Your lips... those two little pieces of flesh from which sound escapes, they stand guard at your mouth and make sure nothing comes out but that which is supposed to come out.  They are the bouncers at the nightclub of your brain. Knowledge is God's Word.  I should be speaking God's Words.

For the lips of a forbidden (strange) woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil  God's wisdom is often unsavory to us sinners.  I mean, He isn't very politically correct, ya know.  In fact often His Words can be intolerant and, dare I say, harsh.  Why does He have to call something sin?  Can't we just refer to it as "an alternative lifestyle"... "a woman's right to choose?"... "cohabitation".  Honey and oil.  Sweet and slippery.

but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,, sharp as a two-edged sword.  So what sounded sweet and sleek is often revealed to have horrible consequences.  If we haven't paid attention, if we haven't listened, if we haven't guarded God's knowledge, understanding and wisdom... we easily fall prey to the words that "sound good" and adopt them as our truths in place of God's Word. Adultery. Sometimes we don't even realize that's what we are doing.  We talk about dead family members as being angels that watch over us... awww, sweet (honey).  No! It contradicts God's Word.  It isn't truth.  When our loved ones die in the faith they are immediately present with God.  This is our glorious Hope. This is God's Word.  To take comfort or refuge in lies, no matter how sweet or easily digested at the moment, is dangerous. It is adultery. The damage is great... it is wormwood, a two edged sword.

Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol:  This adultery, this listening to lies is leading me somewhere.  There is a destination.  It starts by leaving that narrow door which was opened by God.  We stop listening...stop going to church, stop receiving from God.  We hold up our hand to God, and say... "Yeah, I'll be right back, I just want to see what this is.  I'll come back, don't worry."  It's like saying we're just going to check our facebook "real quick".  And before you know it... you're lost.  Unsure of where you ended up.  But it happened one step at a time.  One step away, followed by another, and another.  One acceptance of a lie, then a justification of that lie, then defense of it, then total acceptance of that lie. Then a rejection of truth: Sheol, Hell.

She does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.  There is confusion in lies;  disorientation away from the clear path of truth.  Contradictions and inaccuracies because everyone has their own version of what is right, what is true.  But with God's Word, we are centered, focused, oriented, and sure of our way.  For Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father, except through Him.  There is ignorance in adultery.  When we feed our minds on Christ and His wisdom, our minds are transformed, renewed and developed.  But lies, deception, and a life absent of God's clear Words, causes us to become stupid.  But even worse than that, we aren't even aware of our stupidity.

This Proverb goes on and there are SO many things to pull from it; to ponder and to rest in.  This is why I strive to read this book every month.

Remain in Him and He will remain in you.  Daily ingest His truths.  There is no other way to be faithful (to be given faith).  Outside of His Word, we would all be destined to an adulterous life.  God protect my heart, protect my ears and guide my mouth.  Amen.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

This Mother's Reflections on the Past 18 Years

Maybe it's because she's heading off to college this month.
Maybe it's because I'm humbled by the faithful woman she's become... in spite of my sins and shortcomings.
But lately I am stuck;
Hovering above myself in thoughts about my daughter and the abundance of things You have taught me through this calling of motherhood.

So much, so many, so often... mistakes, no.
 Not mistakes.
 Revealed and exposed day in and day out.  Motherhood has lead me to repentance, over and over again.  The kind that stumbles me to my knees.
Realizing the capacity I have to mar this child, I plead frantically,
"Oh LORD!  Why?  Why would you ask this of me?  I am feeble at my best.
Oh the damage I am capable of!
Do something!"

...and You forgave me.
You strengthened my faith daily.
You brought Wisdom to my door and taught me to recognize Her.
You matured me and gave me confidence in the truth of your Word.
You never left me alone.  Always, You are there.

When You placed her into my arms, I felt the weight of all my inabilities.
I look at her now, and I see Your faithfulness to me.
She is the result of your Word.
Your Mercy.
Your Grace.

And I am not the same.
Sin still occurs, but I trust confidently in your forgiveness.
I walk boldly in places where once I hesitated.
Before, desperation gripped my heart, But your Word has released me and given me joy.

Now, I am able to let go of her hand and watch her walk away, completely dependent on You.
I don't grasp for her to come back, but encourage her to live in the same Grace and forgiveness which You have taught to me.

To God be all glory, honor and praise.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Elliot's Batman Doll

So I might not want to call it a "doll" in front of my five year old nephew, maybe we'll go with action figure... anyway, my nephew is having had a birthday and although I live too far away to go to his party, I had a great time making this for him.  I know he is big time into action figures and I hope Batman is one of them.

This is the same pattern I used for Sophia's Doll in a previous post.  Faceless Doll Pattern  The differences are obvious.  I changed colors quite a bit to achieve the masked face and the batman logo.  I chose white eyes because that's what I saw in the cartoon drawings.  I connected the eyes together inside the head because I wanted them to "sink in" a bit and give the illusion of a nose.

 Because the doll is worked in rounds, the batman logo slants a little.  It has irritated me to no end, but ultimately, I realize that Elliot isn't going to be as critical as I am.  Here is the graph I used to do the logo.  A tip for changing colors smoothly.  Leave the last single crochet unfinished and finish it using the new yarn.  So you will have two loops on your hook when you join your new color, pull through the new color to finish the previous single crochet.  This gives a much cleaner look in my opinion.

Batman wears underoos.

By this point I had attempted twice to make a really cool cape using nylon crochet thread... but I didn't like how it was turning out.  So I'm going to do the fabric thing instead.

Being the thrifty person that I am... I went to good will to find just the right material.  I found a great skirt that draped exactly how I envisioned and used it as the cape.

A seamstress I am not and I pretty much "winged" the cape.  I won't even go into detail as to what I did, because quite frankly, I'm not sure how I did it.  I attached the cape using snaps that I sewed in by hand.  I wanted Elliot to have the option of removing the cape if he wanted.

I can't tell you how much joy these two pictures bring to me.  I don't get the luxury of being in my nephew's life on a daily basis.  He lives very far away from me and so it is that much more important that the gifts I give him (and his sister) reflect the love I have for them.  It may be a bit cliche to have an Aunt Sallie in Iowa who makes you homemade gifts for your birthday, but they are as much for me as they are for him.
Happy Birthday Elliot!!

Even Superheroes need their naps.
Thanks for the pictures Addie!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fisherman's Blanket

So, Walmart had a yarn sale.  Before you get all glassy-eyed, my knitting and crocheting cronies... this is not a good thing.  They were having the sale because they were reducing the yarn section of the store by TWO THIRDS.  Making way for fabric or some such nonsense.

 (Yes, I realize this is a wonderful thing for those of you who sew... but I'm sulking, so we'll go with it being a bad thing.)

Notice there is no Aspen tweed here...
This is a photo of my SECOND trip...
I know, it's a sickness.
But I'll die happy! : D
... Where was I?  Oh yes, so, yarn sale... I bought pretty much all the super bulky yarn they had left because it was a dollar a skein.  Not a bad deal, but I've never really had much success with bulky yarn.

So I searched through Ravelry's site for patterns using bulky yarn.  Can I just say what a wonderful thing is?  Seriously, a wealth of information and ideas... but I digress. Yarn sale-- Of the yarn I bought, 8 skeins were Lion Brand Hometown Aspen Tweed.

I found a wonderful blanket pattern and set to work.  I did have to order three more skeins to finish the blanket, but thanks to the site to store option on, I got that yarn in just a couple of days.

Here is the pattern I used:

5 1/2 hour Throw from Lion Brand 
And darned if it didn't just take under 6 hours to make.

Here's a trick for the tassels.  Find a piece of cardboard that measures 11" and wrap your yarn around it in a single layer, then cut the yarn at the same end that you began so you have yarn pieces that measure 22" long.

Here, pictures make more sense to me too:

Sturdy Cardboard 11 inches long

Wrap in a single layer.

Wrap yarn LOOSELY
around cardboard.

Cut the yarn at the same end
that you started wrapping.

    Now, certainly you will want to wrap it several more times than I did in the picture.  I just did these as an example.  I used five strands for each tassel, folded in half and looped through the end of the blanket.

Yesterday, I got a call from a local business man who happened across my card at the coffee shop that sells my cozies.  He was collecting items for a silent auction to benefit our Showboat Theater.  Now, the Showboat is a favorite place of mine, so it was an easy yes from me.  And with the river-type theme, how could I not donate this wonderful Fisherman's Blanket??  So look for it to go up for auction this coming August. (2013) :)

 If you like my stuff... be sure to like my facebook page :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Christian Life is a Difficult Life.

The Christian life is a Difficult Life.

Wow, I guess that sort of statement won't bring in the crowds will it?  But it is truth.  If we read the Words of Christ, we see that it shouldn't be a shock that our life will be one of suffering.  He says it very plainly.  I doubt many of us truly suffer though.  We love our comfort and because of this we often "soften" God's Word to fit our desires.  We paint a lovely picture of the Christian life to attract others.

 But when we soak ourselves in the truth of Scripture, it is inevitable that we begin to see the dryness of this world, the decay of sin on God's good creation... on us .  As the Holy Spirit reveals God's Word to our minds and hearts, we are no longer blind to our sin, and it causes us to weep in repentance... but this sorrow is a good sorrow. It is a truthful sorrow.  We share in God's sorrow for what has become of His creation.  And if that were the end, how tragic it would be.  But even as we share in the death of Christ... the result of our sin, we share in His resurrection.  Our hope isn't that this life will bring us anything good... our Hope is that Christ is coming again and will raise us up with Him, restoring all that sin has lain to waste.  The trees, the animals, the whole earth will be restored to "good"... and we too, will be restored; back to what is good, and sin will be no more.  This is our joy amidst the sorrow.  We see our sin, but we behold our Savior.  The Christian life is difficult, but it is full of joy; "sorrow and joy intertwined".

Josh Garrels is an artist whose music and lyrics are deep and thoughtful.  He speaks to the suffering of the Christian life in a way that is rare among "Christian Contemporary Music" (blah).  Here are a few of his lyrics, some of which are straight from Scripture:

When we were young 
We walked where we wanted to 
Life was ours 

And now we've grown old 
We go where we’re told 
The Lord’s Spirit calls 

He’s singing 
Follow my road to sorrow and joy 
Be intertwined 

And find 
All things are under my wings 
And rise 
Given time 

Oh my 
Brother sun, sister moon 
All children of light 

Fly around the world 
Let the glory be unfurled 
All things are made new 

We’re marching on 
To a spirit song 
That no man can cage 

In lands of dead wood 
That reject the good 
From our own Father’s hands 

But we run free 
And weep gracefully 
In a world 
Dark and cold 

Hold on 
All you 
Who wait by the blue shores 
For Him 

To part the water 
Desert Father 
Show us a new way 

The impossible dream 
Through the deep and the unseen 
Carry us home

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sophia's Doll

 This is basically a picture diary of making Sophia's doll.  This was my first time making a doll, and I must say it was much more an act of love than I ever anticipated.  Every stitch, every stuff, I thought of my niece, Sophia, and how she would play with this little doll. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, as I hope Sophia will once she opens her birthday gift.  :)

Unfortunately, the pattern is no longer free as some people did not respect the author's wishes not to sell products made from her pattern.  So she has decided to charge for the pattern.  You can purchase it on ravelry DOLL PATTERN

 I used Bernat Cotton yarn in peach and cream for the body, and a compilation of many yarns for the hair.
I should have put in the safety eyes here, but I didn't realize how to  use them.  Lesson learned!

 I recycled an old pillow's filling to stuff the doll.
I crocheted ruffles (sc, {dc,dc,dc} sc) in the front loop of the round then on the next round used dc in the backloops to bring the row back up to the right height.

I chose to bring the little pantaloons down the leg for two rounds, which is different than the original pattern.

I made her a pair of white socks at the bottom of her legs.

I made the arms, then sewed them to the body. Starting to look like a doll!
The strands of hair were made by slip stitching to her head, leaving a 4 inch tail, chaining (20, 30, or 40 for length variation), then working 2sc in each of the chains until back to the scalp.  I fastened off the yarn and tied it off with the other tail of yarn.  Sometimes I connected the curl with another at the head.  This gave some bounce and covered up bald spots. The yarn is thin and I used a 3.25mm hook. The gold is crochet thread and I used a 3.0mm hook.

I just love the bounce the different lengths give.  I just kept adding more and more curls to cover up her scalp.  There really wasn't any pattern to it... I just tossed her head around and where I saw an open spot... I put another curl.

                  I used 12mm buttons for the eyes.  When I do another doll, I'll be sure to put in safety eyes before I stuff the head.  But this is still cute.  I used mineral blush for the cheeks
using a small, clean brush.

I chose a sunny color for the dress since her hair was so dark.  The yarn was a cotton/nylon blend and quite thin.  I know it is very nice yarn, but I got it at a garage sale for a dollar. :)  Gotta love garage sales!

So this is Sophia's doll.  Her birthday was yesterday (April 23) and hopefully today or tomorrow the package will get to her house. :)  In the works are two more dolls.  One with a superhero theme and the other is a doll for my little girl to take with  her to college.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake

Yes, there are worse things in this world than a dry cake... but not many.
Here is a trick for always having a moist cake.

1.  Bake your cake.  Doesn't matter if you use generic boxed mixes or make it from scratch.  
BUT...Don't bake it quite as long as the package/recipe suggests.  Set the time for 5-7 minutes shy of the shortest cooking time.  Then... smell.  If your stomach growls because your nose has detected a cake baking, then you have about 4 minutes left.  

2.  Take the cake out of the oven.  If the center giggles, you need to leave it in for another couple of minutes.  
     You are welcome to test the done-ness of the cake with a knife or toothpick, but don't freak out if it  doesn't come out completely clean.  As long as it isn't still batter, you're fine.  Trust me.  

3. Now for the best part.  Spread out two overlapping layers of plastic wrap.  The idea here is that you will completely encase the hot cake in plastic wrap.  Don't wait for the cake to cool.  Loosen the edges up with a knife if you need to and plop the cake out onto the plastic wrap.  If you're using layers, do the next one the same way.

4. Freeze.  I put my layers on a cutting board and put it in the freezer.  Lay the cakes upside down and that little "dome" that happens gets flattened a little bit.

Basically, my theory is that the cake continues to bake a little even after it has left the oven.  That's why you don't wait until it the toothpick comes out clean.  However, even if you over bake your cake, sealing it in plastic wrap while it's still hot and putting it immediately into the freezer, causes all that steam to remain in the cake instead of escaping and causing the cake to dry out.  Think about what happens to sliced bread when you leave it out... it dries up the longer it is exposed to air.  

So, why the freezer? Because it is much easier to frost a frozen cake than a fresh one.  They don't need to be thawed.  In the time it takes you to frost and decorate the cake, it will be ready to slice and eat.   

Freezing your cakes ahead of time also means that you don't have to bake AND decorate the same day.  You can make your cake up to a week ahead of time if you want.  I wouldn't leave a cake in a freezer longer than a week simply because it will begin to absorb the smells of other foods that are stored in your freezer.  And I don't know about you, but Tilapia cake doesn't sound too appetizing.  :/ 

So try it and let me know how it turned out.