Knitting and A Freebie!

I mentioned knitting ……it has been a blessing during this time of recuperation. It has literally kept me going when discouragement has taken over.

Right now I just finished a sweater using a wonderful yarn. It is actually my favorite so far. It is thick and thin as you can see and has great color to it.

The sweater pattern and yarn I picked up at a yarn shop in Decorah, IA when I visited my sister who lives there. A lovely shop which I will visit again and take pictures. They have an online presence as well. The pattern is for Intermediate knitters but I think any adventurous Beginner could handle it. I adjusted the sleeve and the neckline a little.

I attempted a sweater early on and it was a bit overwhelming. I was determined to get back to it once I had more knitting under my belt.

The first sweater that I completed is actually a summer shell. It is made up of a variety of lace stitches. It was a lot easier than I expected and seemed to go quickly due to changing stitches often. It’s made of 100% cotton yarn.

Designing a winter cowl was my first pattern making venture.

The next item was fingerless gloves using a favorite cable stitch.

And the most recent design is for the warmer months. It is called Airy Denim Scarf and is made from 100% recycled blue jean yarn. Upcycling!

These patterns are for sale in my Etsy shop etsy.com/shop/dcartwork on ravelry.com and craftsy.com. By the way, the patterns were tested and approved on Ravelry

FREEBIE:
If you choose to follow my blog you can choose any one of these patterns for free. They are in pdf format. You can email me at dorisdjrdc@aol.com

Knitting will undoubtably be mentioned here again.

Have a good week!
Doris

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The Best Ever Chicken and Dumplings!

CAUTION! Maybe I should put a disclaimer here. This is by no means a dieting recipe. It is a good hearty meal that goes over well all year round.

Every time I have asked my son Chuck what he would like for his birthday he always says Chicken and Dumplings. And now it is passing down to my grandson.

This is a chicken meal I came up with years ago when trying to create a different (for me anyway) way to serve chicken. It remains to be one of the more economical meals to feed a family.

It’s funny, I didn’t realize how endearing this recipe is to me. I hesitated posting on it because I wasn’t sure I wanted to share it. But here we are!

Whereas in the beginning I would buy a whole chicken and cut it up myself, now I purchase breasts, legs, and a few thighs already cut up. These are the pieces that are the main favorites.

Now, unfortunately, the chicken needs to have the skin on. I have tried using skinless and boneless and it just isn’t the same. However, if you start out using boneless and skinless chicken your family may not notice the difference. The gravy will still get you in the calorie count though.

I trim off any excess fat that I can before frying the chicken. I fry it in a little vegetable oil until it is browned. Then I drain off any grease that I can.

The pan gets put back on the stove with medium heat and I add enough water until it reaches about a half inch from the top. I’m old fashioned in that I still use boullion cubes, adding 8-10 of them to the simmering chicken. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for a good 20 minutes, checking it to make sure it isn’t sticking and that the cubes are dissolving.

Also, at this time I add dry mustard. Now I know that may sound a little odd and I don’t remember what possessed me years ago to add it, but it works. It just punches up the flavor. I use a heaping tablespoon for a 12-14 inch pan’s worth. Salt and pepper also get added to taste. I also tend to add a little garlic powder here.

After checking the chicken for doneness I remove it and place it in a bowl nearby. Using a whisk, I stir the gravy to loosen anything stuck to the pan getting it ready to thicken. I use cornstarch but you can use whatever you like to create a good thick gravy. About a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch with a little water added to it first should thicken it properly. If not, repeat.

When it is good and thick add the chicken back to the pan, letting it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

It can be served from the stove or put in a large dish for the table.

The dumplings? Well, the recipe I use is one handed down to me from my childrens’ grandmother. She played an important role in my life. I would need to ask her family if it would be okay to broadcast her recipe. Any good dumpling recipe will work. Or mashed potatoes. Also, something that I have begun to use for another dish is frozen egg noodles. When cooked they taste similar to dumplings and are very much like homemade noodles.

Enjoy!
D.

Fresh Ideas


For about the past nine months I have had a lot of time to think about projects, new ventures and the like. I have had this time due to the fact that I have been laid up for a good part of it recuperating from 2 surgeries. The first one was from a torn muscle in my knee. That began on Memorial Day of last year culminating in surgery to repair it in August. I was able to work sporadically during this time. After 6 weeks of recuperation I went back to work full time only to develop an even larger tear (tears) in a muscle in my hip. Surgery was 2 weeks later and I am finishing up a 3-6 month recuperation from that. Hopefully I will be back to full time in a few weeks.

The knee was a relatively easy fix but the hip has been quite an ordeal. It has given me time to re-evaluate some things.

I have missed coming here and sharing thoughts, ideas, projects and recipes. So I am adding that back into my life. I will continue my painting business, allowing it to naturally slow down. Thinking over the past 2 years with design elements changing course the main thrust of the business has been painted furniture and doing faux metallic ceilings. The ceilings, by the way, fit in quite well with the current design trend. There is always a call for murals now and again seeing as they are customized to the needs of a client. I say this knowing that I am in the beginning stages of a large project where creating a Tuscan look in a kitchen is one part of it. Hoping to post on that as the project progresses.

A couple of years ago I picked up knitting in order to keep my hands busy while quitting smoking. It helped tremendously! It will be 4 years this summer. It can be done! The thing with knitting is that for the most part you need to stay focused and there is a lot of counting involved so your mind isn’t dwelling on things.

I have come a long way with the knitting and feel like I am on a journey with it. I started off with the basics….hats, gloves, scarves. I also had some disasters trying projects that I just wasn’t ready for. But like I said, it is a journey. I now sell knitted items in my etsy shop (dcartwork.etsy.com). Also, something that I am a little proud of, I started creating my own patterns and have them for sale as well. They are also on ravelry.com and craftsy.com. The patterns are geared toward beginners for now but I look forward to when I am able to create some more elaborate pieces.

My goal here is to share ideas etc. I do mean share – I would love to see some of what you are up to. I have a few projects in mind to finish and showcase here. Like the velvet chair I started pulling apart in order to recover and update it. It felt daunting at the time when I pulled some fabric off only to find a gazillion (is that even a word) staples. I now have a plan in mind to deal with that.
Here is a before and after shot of dining room chairs that I painted for a client:

I also came up with new recipes to pass along as well. Well, one isn’t really new to us but I think you will love it.

I hope you all have stayed safe with the crazy weather that has been happening across the country. We have been lucky right here but there sure has been issues around us.

Have a good day!
Doris

Decisions

Decisions, Decisions! Or maybe just one big one. lol
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I haven’t been on for some time because I was making some changes in my life. And some of those changes brought me right back here. I hadn’t been painting much and for awhile I even told people that I wasn’t creating Decorative Artwork at all anymore. And I was happily proceeding on to other things. Started on a rather different path for myself and feeling pretty positive about it all. And then……..first one of my favorite clients called asking me to do a little something for her. Which quickly grew into a big something. Then a designer that I had met years ago had his client call me for some work. And they just happened to be building with a builder that I have known for some time. Well…….I wouldn’t turn down certain clients and working within the construction phase has always been a love of mine.

It all snowballed from there and now I have once again been pulled back into Decorative Artwork. I really didn’t think I would be making that decision but it’s not really the first time this has happened. Once before I had ventured off and been drawn back to the creative side.

So where am I at with it all right now? Well, besides the regular projects that come along I am preparing to help create an atmosphere in a new restaurant in the Schaumburg area. It is called Kouzina, which is Greek for kitchen. Construction has been delayed often and for a variety of reasons but My role will be coming up next week. Or so it looks at this point. The whole inside is being redone and I can tell you from what I see so far it will be awesome. Here are some before pictures that I have taken. You should be able to see how it is shaping up.

Mural wall –
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other areas
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new bar area
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It is becoming an upscale family Greek restaurant. And her selections for the decor are topnotch. So happy to be a part of it all and can’t wait until it’s finished.

Give it a few more weeks to be completed and then if you’re in Schaumburg, specifically the corner of Golf Road and Plum Grove Rd., stop in for lunch or maybe even better a nice family dinner.

Have a good day everyone!
Doris

Sofa Slipcover (so far)

Good Morning! I don’t know how many of you are digging out today. Here in Illinois it seems the most that anyone got was 1 or 2 inches of snow. And the sun is shining today!

I’m nearing the completion of the sofa slipcover. Must admit it started a bit daunting. I decided as usual to not rush this project even though it would mean the house be a bit upset for awhile. I wasn’t really sure how I was going to handle all of the differenet pieces. As you will see in the photos it has rounded, rolled arms.

One of my decisions is how to handle the back of the sofa. It needs to be interesting enough to be able to stand freely in the room. It has a certain roll to it as well. The second photo here shows how I used a ribbon tie to finish off the chair.
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I am actually doing alot more hand sewing on it then I thought I would be, but I think it is giving it a better fit than otherwise might have been. And I think when it comes to cleaning the slipcover it will be beneficial.

I don’t know if you remember from my previous post that I had not only washed and dried the dropcloths, but had bleached them as well. Number one because I wanted a lighter off white look, and two, I will be able to wash them when it comes time for cleaning them.

The arm ended up being three pieces put together by part machine sewing and part hand sewing. I think I’m probably going to do a little stapling as well due to the way the roll goes over the sides of the sofa.
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Basically what it takes to make a slipcover is cutting pieces of your fabric as it is layed on the sofa or chair. As you can see from this last photo I still need to find the correct hem length and do the cushions. Working on that while we speak.
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And so it is back to it. Really would like to have it completed by the weekend so I can put the house back together.
Have a great day and stay warm!
Doris

Slipcovers From Dropcloths

For the most part the chair and ottoman slipcovers are finished. I noticed this morning that I want to do a little adjustment on the ottoman corners and I want to add a ribbon to the back of the chair due to the fabric not being as form fitting as I had liked.
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For starters of course you need to find the dropcloths. I ended up ordering mine from Amazon. Great price and free shipping! There was a difference in the type of fabric from the dropcloths I had used for the draperies. At first I was dismayed, but after working with the fabric and a little more thought I am glad the fabric is different. Why? This fabric has a little bit of a nubby texture to it which I love. Also, I’m really glad it is not all matchy matchy. Here is a photo of the different types of dropcloth fabric. The one on the right is the drapery fabric. It really is a personal preference.
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I cut the dropcloths along the finished seams. Some people use these seams, I prefer not to, they seem a little clunky to me.
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Cutting them makes them more manageable and an easy fit into a home washer and dryer versus taking them to a laundromat. I bleached the pieces with 2 cups of bleach per washload. Two reasons. First, I didn’t care for the amout of the unbleached look that they had, and secondly, at some point they will need to be cleaned. By starting them off washed and bleached I know how the fabric will look with a good cleaning. Also, I washed them in hot water and dried them in a dryer to shrink them to a true size.
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I wanted the chaircover to have a more relaxed fir, therefore, the only measuring I did was for the skirt. I have made slipcovers twice before and this technique has served me well. I layed a large section of fabric over the chair and cut it to fit, starting with the back. Then I moved on to the arms of the chair.
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I played with the fabric a bit. I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to handle the arms of the chair. I wanted a soft look. I ended up simply gathering the excess fabric together and tucking it behind a front panel. I love the finished look.
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Next came the skirt of the chair. I measured all around and added an extra 5 inches for every box pleat that I wanted. I ended up with one at each front corner and two hugging the back corners, pinning and fitting as I went along.
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Here’s a tip……if you pin the pieces together while they are on the chair, remove the cover, sew the seams, press and turn the piece, you can then easily place it back on the chair.
Here is the completed chair. (or almost. Like I said earlier I decided this morning that it needs a ribbon tie back for the back of the chair.)
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Oops! Here is a before photo:
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Elves

Need a special hostess gift? Want to dress up your counter or bar? Or do you just feel like doing a fun craft project?

Can’t tell you how many of these sold at shows this holiday season. Crazy! But they are cute. And easy and fun to make. And, of course, the thought of a bunch of little elves running around the place made me smile. 🙂

And, they are what they say, “easy peasy”.
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You can easily make a pattern for them from looking at the picture. A long triangle and then the little piece for the beard. And you can adjust the beard piece to your liking.

You will need old sweaters, I got mine from Goodwill. Wash and shrink them. Wool ones really do work best but if you are short on wool ones like I was, then an acrylic one will work

You will also need the fur for the beard. There is an assortment of fur available at JoAnnes Crafts and Fabrics store. Small sized metallic fur balls can be found at Michaels and the little wooden plugs may be found at your local hardware store, Menards, or Home depot.
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Assembly is easy. Take a beard and center it on the straight end of the hat on the wrong side. Zigzag across the entire edge..
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Next, sew together the long sides creating a point. Now this is where I thought it might be a pain but wasn’t. You turn it inside out. I thought it might be a little difficult because it is such a small point, but I guess beacause of the stretchy material it turned quite easily.
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Using a glue gun, I attached the wooden plug right below the hat centering it on the beard. And I also used a glue gun to fasten the metallic fur ball to the point of the hat.
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Voila! You have your elf!