Coping with "Winter's" Chill


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Recently I received an order from someone who needs to keep her neck bundled up during the winter months so that she can help prevent her throat from becoming sore.  It's interesting because that sounds so much like me.  People look at me strangely when I'm bundled up with the least bit of a draft.  I've even been known to sleep with a scarf wrapped around my neck.  Yeah, it may be weird, but it helps!  LOL

So, I shared a few patterns I saw with my customer and she decided on this one...in black.  It actually was a really quick crochet.  Like a "less than 2-hour road trip and I was done" kind of quick.  It can be worn open like the traditional cowl, or you can button it up to swaddle your neck in yarny goodness.

This cowl is off to its new owner and I hope it helps beat the not-so-winter-like, winter chill.  (It's more like fall, early spring here.)


Gee.  Now I kinda want one for myself....

Happy Crafting,

Monday's Feature: Dr. Shayla C. Nunnally


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Meet Dr. Shayla C. Nunnally.

Dr. Shayla C. Nunnally
Associate Professor,
University of Connecticut



AE:  Who are you?   
SN:  I am Shayla C. Nunnally, an alumna of North Carolina Central University.
AE:  What is it that you do? 
SN:  I am an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Connecticut. I teach both undergraduate and graduate courses in African American politics. I also specialize in research on African American political behavior and public opinion. My research focuses on racial socialization, political socialization, black identity, and political trust. I also am involved in research that explores interracial/intraracial relations and attitudes.
AE:  How did you get started/What is the motivation behind your work?  
SNI became interested in African American politics and how black Americans learn about race (racial socialization) when I realized that in everyday conversations black Americans from across the country many times commonly knew cultural practices, sayings, and norms about life and black people. I also noticed the extent to which I heard many black people express their distrust in various aspects of their lives. As a research interest, I wanted to know how much race and racism influenced their life experiences.
AE:  Where can we find your work? 
SN:   My book, TRUST IN BLACK AMERICA: RACE, DISCRIMINATION, AND POLITICS can be found at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and New York University Press.
AE:  What is your website/contact information? 
SN:  For more information about me and my research, please go to http://polisci.uconn.edu/people/faculty/faculty.php?name=nunnally.

It inspires me to see people of my generation achieving their dreams and leaving their mark behind.  Dr. Nunnally's book, Trust in Black America:  Race, Discrimination, and Politics will be released for publication on February 1, 2012.  I'm ordering a copy.  How about you?


Peace & Love,







Baby It's Cold Outside


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Over the Christmas holidays, we were pleased that my brother and SIL were able to drive down and stay for about a week.  During that time, Mona and I had a blast in Charlotte, going from shop to shop together.  Don't worry; we didn't spend all we didn't have (lol) but it was fun.

I've wanted to make Mona something for awhile, but just didn't know what to make.  So, I was so glad when she asked if I would make her a hat with a flower on it.  Who knew that's what she wanted?  It's nice when people can pick out their own yarn because then you know that they really will enjoy their handmade item and have something to match it with.  So, Mona picked out this super soft black fiesta yarn from Hobby Lobby and I finally finished making her hat.  Then I realized that there was just enough yarn in that skein for a neckwarmer too, so my dear SIL should be all cozy during this winter season.  My brother already phoned and said they had snow in the area, so this duo has recently taken flight.

I don't think she'll mind me trying on her hat set.  :-)

 

It feels really nice to mark one item off my "Keeping Promises" list.  *wink*

Happy Crafting,

Keeping Promises


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[Image Source]
 As an avid list-maker, I recently made a list entitled, "Keeping Promises."  On that list I wrote down all the crafty items I promised to make for different people.  Sometimes, I (temporarily) forget.  Sometimes, I get distracted by a current project that I put off the one I promised.  Sometimes, I (temporarily) forget.  So, in an effort to clear my inner-conscious, I made this list and I'm purposefully going to keep my promises, one project at a time.

"Keeping Promises"
(in no particular order)
Calorimetry - Alhana/Caroline
Black beret - Aunt Linda
hat with flower pin (make it a set if there's enough to spare) - SIL
Something blue - Kim
felted pattern test - Darlene
orange & white scarf - Taynia
fix the torn hole in sweater - Gabby

+

the commissioned work (that's another list)

Off to accomplish something,

Afro Martha's "Can't Wait For Fall Muffins"


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One of the recipes I discovered when I first started following Yetunde of the Afro Martha blog were her "Can't Wait For Fall Muffins".  I was determined to try them, but as a procrastinator, it just didn't happen.  Until now.  Maybe I'm in a baking mood.  Maybe I was just glad to have the ingredients.  Maybe I just like the idea of Fall/Autumn any time of the year.  But for whatever the reason, I haven't gotten these muffins off my mind for a while now and so I finally made them.

There's no need to write the recipe when the recipe is clearly written on her blog.  Plus if you go over there, she has created a printable recipe card for this recipe.  Gotta love those graphic designers!

I followed the recipe to the T, but where it says "chopped walnuts (optional)", I opted for them.  [Don't you love how I'm starting to like nuts (some nuts)?  My taste buds must be changing these days.]  Also, in Yetunde's recipe where it says 2 cups of "dried cranberries, cherries, or raisins", I put in 1 cup of raisins and 1 cup of dried cranberries.

My batch created 12 regular sized muffins and one muffin loaf.  The batter had the consistency of cookie dough.  The final muffins were dense and yet moist and yummy, and so filling!  Gotta love those spices that truly remind you of the Fall season, even though we're experiencing a Fall-like Winter.

I'll keep the muffins at home and share the loaf at work.  Can't hoard all this goodness to myself.  Thanks, Yetunde for a great recipe!

Can't Wait For Fall Muffins
Notice this very cool piece of fabric?  Will be blogging about that soon too. *wink*


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Bon Appetit,

Monday's Feature: Ella Parry


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Meet Ella Parry of the Little Curly Collection.

 
 

AE:  Who are you?   
EP:  My name is Ella Parry a.k.a Little Curly. I am an artist- Illustrator and designer who lives in London with my husband and my black cat- Summer, who is featured in most of my Little Curly illustrations.

AE:  What is it that you do/make? 
EP:  I create some characters for my own brand – Little Curly Collection, draw, design and illustrate children books for other authors/publishing companies and I’m working on my own Little Curly picture at moment.

AE:  How did you get started/What is the motivation behind your work?  
EP: I studied Graphic Design in Hong Kong and worked as a graphic designer, but I have always had a strong passion for art ever since I was able to pick up my first pencil as a child.
After ten years of working for a living, I did not live with the life I always dreamed of.  I finally decided to leave my full time job to be a full time freelance illustrator and make my dream come true for myself – have my own range of merchandise from my own illustrations.

AE:  Where can we find your work? 
EP:  You can find my work on Facebook – Little Curly illustrations, my blog – Ella Parry and also sign up for my mailing list (Which is listed on my blog and my page).  In addition, I sell my work in local shops.

AE:  What is your website/contact information? 
EP:  
My website and online shop: www.ellaparry.com

Isn't Little Curly simply amazing?  Please give Ella your support by visiting any of her sites. :-)

Peace & Love,







Simple Sesame Noodles


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Ok, you know I love, I mean LOVE to shop in International Food Stores.  We don't have one where I live (and maybe that's a good thing) because I would probably be in there every.single.day, even if I didn't buy anything.  It just really fascinates me as to all the ingredients that can be found all over the world.  Being in an International Food Store makes me feel like I've stepped outside of my everyday life and stepped into a whole other world, depending on what aisle I'm on.

Suffice to say, when I do have the chance to shop at International Food Stores, I may even bring home an item that I have no idea what I'll do with it.  I just get it and wait and see.  On my last shopping trip, I purchased a package of Hakubaku's organic somen noodles.  And finally with the recipe featured below, I had the opportunity to use them.

So what's the recipe?  The Pioneer Woman's Simple Sesame Noodles.  I didn't find this simple recipe through her blog, but rather through Pinterest of course.  And since I'm determined not to be a pinner only, but also a doer, I set out to make this dish.  I had everything already, minus the green onions, so this was a winner!





The only modifications I used were these organic somen noodles and I used 1 tsp of hot chili paste instead of the 1/2 tsp of hot oil (which I don't even know what that is).  Plus I sprinkled in some sesame seeds.  Let me repeat, these noodles were soooo good!

Enamored by the pretty picture in the pinned image, I had to create my own set.  :-)


p.s.  Today marks my last day of the 20/20 Challenge.  :-)

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Enjoy,

Envelope-Back Pillow Case {Tutorial}


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Some time, a long time ago actually, I started making a quilted pillow top.  I guess you could say it was my venture into the world of quilting, but it basically ended with that project!  lol  I didn't know a thing about quilting; I just thought, "I'll just sew these squares together and voila, it'll be just fine!"  Little did I know that it wasn't that simple.  I put that project away and didn't pull it out again until this week.  Monday to be exact.

I was very pleased with the final outcome, despite the wayward seams of the "quilted" front (I know how to fix that now), that I decided to share a tutorial with you.


How to Sew an Envelope-Back Pillow Case

Materials:
pillow form (mine was 12"x16")
fabric
basic sewing supplies (sewing machine, thread, pins...)

Directions:
For the front piece:
Cut one pieces of fabric for the front with sides measuring 1" larger than your pillow form.  (So, since my pillow form was 12"x16", my front was 13"x17")  This will allow for a snug fit, using a 1/2" seam allowance.

For the back pieces:
For the back, you will have two pieces.

Cut one piece at 1" wider than your pillow form, and 2" longer than half the width of your form.  This will be your bottom top piece.  (So mine was 17" x 8" since half of 12" is 6" and 6" + 2" = 8".)

Cut one piece at 1" wider than your pillow form, and 3" longer than half the width of your form.  This will be your bottom back piece.  (So mine was 17" x 9" since half of 12" is 6" and 6" + 3" = 9".)


Preliminary Prep:
For nice clean edges, fold 1/4" of the longest edges of a back piece.  Iron down.  Then fold that hem again 1/4".  Iron down.  Sew along this hem.  Repeat on the other back piece.


Assembly:
With right sides facing, pin the back top piece to the pillow front.  Then pin the back bottom piece onto the pillow front.  It should lay on top of the pillow front so that when the case is turned to the right side, the pillow back piece is on the inside of the envelope back.  Also, make sure that the envelope seams are straight.


Place sewing machine needle along any of the pillow case sides.  Do not start in a corner.  Sew down about an inch and then backstitch to reinforce seam.  Sew around the entire pillow form.  When you have reached your starting place, backstitch again.


Finishing Touches:
Turn pillow case inside out and iron along seams for a nice, crisp look.  Insert pillow form and enjoy!


Other tidbits:
I made this pillow form for myself.  I am super picky about seams (even the ones you cannot see), but since it was for me, I did not pick this battle.  Had I picked it, I would suggest that you serge the inside seams for a more professional look and to keep edges from fraying.  At this point I do not own a Serger, but what I normally would have done is to complete the preliminary prep steps for all of my edges.  Doing so would have meant that I would have needed to increase my pillow pieces another 1/2" around to give room for folding down edges and still having an ample sewing allowance OR I could have just zigzagged my edges.


If you decide to make an envelope pillow-case, please let me know or link up to this post.  I'd love to see your creations!  And as always, if you have any questions or suggestions, shoot me an email or leave me a message in the post.

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Happy Crafting,

Celebrating the Life of a King


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Today is the day set aside to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  His birthday is actually January 15th, but the national holiday in honor of his birthday is always the 3rd Monday in January.  There are people all over the world and more specifically, in our country, who choose not to recognize Dr. King's birthday or more importantly his work towards equality for all men and women, but that does not eradicate the fact that Dr. King and many others contributed greatly to the Civil Rights Movement.

So today, is not just a day off from work (for those who are off today), but a day set aside to remember the efforts of one man who had a vision.

Here is a video clip showing images from Dr. King's life and the unity of men and women of various backgrounds to bring about a change in society.  In the background you will hear Stevie Wonder's "Happy Birthday" song.  To view the lyrics, click here.





In addition, below is the animated movie "Our Friend Martin".  It's about 1 hour long.  It's a great movie to watch with your children, but the teacher in me always suggests previewing first and discuss, discuss, discuss because the true value will only be obtained through the discussion.  Otherwise (for children), it's just like watching another cartoon.  :-)





Enjoy!

Smoothie Kick


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I've been on a "Smoothie-for-Breakfast" kick lately.  Partly because I'm on the 20/20 Challenge.  Partly because I got on the scale and was taken back.  Partly because finding something quick and healthy for breakfast has been a chore and although I can eat fruit, drinking smoothies has proven to be the best method for me of obtaining my fruit intake on a more regular basis.

Because I'm having to commute farther for work, I'm gone before 7 A.M. and don't have lunch until 12:40 P.M. so I need a breakfast that will last.

Here are some of the fruit smoothies that I've been trying lately:

Healthy Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie


With this smoothie, I was full until around 11:00 or so.  Then I had a snack during my break.

Green Monster Smoothie


I can see why you wouldn't need to snack so much after this smoothie.  It's packed of fruits and plus the spinach so I will definitely investigate green smoothies a bit more closely.

Very Berry Smoothie

Recipe:
2 cups almond milk
2 tablespoons vanilla yogurt
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen strawberries
agave nectar

Directions:
Add all ingredients, except agave to blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add agave to taste and blend to mix.

* This recipe makes 2 servings, but my cousin, aunt, mom, and I shared this smoothie.  However, we did not serve ourselves full portions as we drank this more for a breakfast drink rather than just for breakfast.



One thing I've learned about smoothie-making is that organization is key.  Even though the smoothie itself is a quick breakfast, you need to have fruits and/or veggies prepped so that the entire process is quick.  Plus, you have to add a little extra time to rinse out your blender so that you don't have a crazy mess when you return home.  I usually keep frozen and fresh-frozen fruits in the freezer to speed up the process, but I do like this idea I found on Pinterest:

Make-Ahead Freezer Smoothie Packs


Earlier, I tried some to make smoothie or breakfast drinks using those health-food individual-sized packets you get from health food stores.  I couldn't even get past the first couple of sips so I opted for real fruit and just to eat my veggies.  Everything good for you doesn't have to taste bad.

When I get a little more organized I'll make some healthy snacks to tide me over before lunch.  Until then, I've had prepackaged trail mix on hand.  But I know I could make my own.  Baby steps, here.  Baby steps.

Until then,

The Truth (or my truth) about Wigs


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Here's the thing.  I started wearing some type of weave for a protective style, especially during the harsh winter months.  It started out with the afro twists, then it became the faux bun, and finally the half-wig.  I really like all of those styles, but there's something about this wig that's kind of disturbing.

First off, let me repeat that personally I think the wig looks great.  I know it's not mine and I'm really not trying to act like I grew this out of my head.  I feel that my hair has been protected from the elements like I purposed, but I'm growing concerned that I may have developed another set of problems:
  1. Because this is a half-wig, the front portion of my hair is exposed.  Although the front portion is braided, I still feel like that part closest to my face is breaking or something.  I'm not exactly sure yet, but I know it wasn't like that before.  When I take my hair completely down I'm going to seriously investigate.  If everything else is flourishing, except this part, then the wig still must go.  I can't sacrifice my edges. ???
  2. Although I love my hair and I know this wig isn't mine (genetically), I'm struggling about how to transition away from the wig.  I mean, seriously, do I just take it off and sport a twist out that nobody's seen in forever?  A twist out that's so so very different from the texture of this wig?  Do I transition gradually and then burst out with my own do?  I even did a self-talk and said, "During February - Black History Month - you will not sport synthetic hair" just to break this monster I've created.  I've never had this thought before with any of my other styles, so what's the deal with this wig?
  3. My aunt, another natural who's currently sporting a wig, asked me if I thought that we were both getting lazy.  My hair texture takes a lot of work and honestly, sometimes I do desire a break here and there, but usually I just grab a good movie and do what I must.  The thought of growing lazy is disturbing.  Hummm.... 
At any rate, I stumbled across this natural beauty while on the CurlyNikki blog.  This is my new hairspiration; my motivation for re-rocking my own natural strands very soon:



    Seriously contemplating my options,

    A New Edition to the Family


    6 comments
    It's wonderful to have a friend that truly gets you.  One that can see something unique and know that you would love it...and then acts on it.  I have a friend like that, MamaLutz.  This past Saturday she had her "Me Day" (a day without the hubby and kiddos) and while perusing the shops, she saw a beautiful mannequin that she knew I would just love.  She immediately took a picture of it and sent it to me on my cell phone.  You know I wanted it.  It was beautiful and all French-y, but the selling point was that it was on clearance!  So, MamaLutz spared me from traveling and brought it back for me.  That was the night I had the good coffee.  Don't you just love friends like that?  MamaLutz was given the honor of naming my new addition to the family.

    So, I want to introduce you to Fifi, my French addition.  Je parle un petit de français, but I think Mademoiselle Fifi and I will get along just fine.  :-)


    Et toi?  What do you think?

    A tout à l'heure,

    Monday's Feature: Anna Kay Creations


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    Meet Anna of Anna Kay Creations.


     
     
     
     

    AE:  Who are you?   
    AK:  Hi, my name is Anna.  I am 28 years old and I live in Durham, North Carolina. I am the Owner and Jewelry Designer at Anna Kay Creations.
    AE:  What is it that you do/make? 
    AK:  I make handcrafted beaded jewelry and fabric flower accessories from the comfort of my apartment in Durham, NC.  My dream is have my own studio someday, as my work tends to take over the entire spare bedroom sometimes.
    AE:  How did you get started/What is the motivation behind your work?  
    AKI always have been creative with my hands. Growing up, I was exposed to many forms of art such as sewing, crocheting, knitting, baking etc.  Ironically, Jewelry making wasn’t one of them.  

    It was back in 2008 when a good friend of mine hosted a fun craft event in Atlanta and introduced me to some jewelry making basics.  Oh man, that was the turning point in my jewelry making venture.  I loved it then it became some sort of an addiction. I started making jewelry for family members and friends, and received many compliments about my creations.  Exhilarating! isn’t it? A couple of months later I took the plunge at selling online. Anna Kay Creations became officially launched Feb 2010. I have been making and selling jewelry ever since.

    AE:  What is your website/contact information? 
    AK:  

    For the readers:
    Enter a promotional code LIBBYSBLOG for 10% off all Anna Kay Creations Jewelry, valid through 1/13/12 at www.annakaycreations.storenvy.com.
     
    Please give Anna your support by visiting any of her sites. And don't forget the wonderful discount that Anna is offering.  :-)

    Peace & Love,