Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Crocheting for a Cause

I am a volunteer doll maker for Feel Better Friends, a nonprofit organization where volunteers crochet custom dolls from photographs for children with serious illnesses. The organization was created by Shannon Fouquet in May 2014, and has grown to include more than 300 volunteers from around the world. To see if you can create the pattern used by Feel Better Friends for all the dolls made, all volunteers must create a test doll. I created my test doll in late February, and was accepted into the group March 1st. I received my first assignment shortly after that, for a boy named Gabe.


I love his shoes!

Feel Better Friends is broken up into regions, and a moderator is assigned to each group. When we receive a request, a caregiver for the child fills out a form, including a e-mail for any questions and an address where they would like to have the doll shipped. Sometimes caregivers give very specific request to be included on the doll - scars, tubes or a quote to be included with the doll. Yarn, stuffing and postage are all the responsibility of the volunteer, though we do get reimbursed for shipping if we provide a receipt. Sometimes we get pictures of the children with their dolls... I love seeing their smiles.

Here's Gabe with his mini me.

These are some of my other dolls:

Raelynn, with her curly hair

Here's the two of them together.

Owen... he has a mohawk!

Josie had a feeding tube in her nose, and she was going to have a G tube inserted, so I crocheted both.

Shannon has created a fundraiser through August 31 to support Feel Better Friends.  Lots of independent consultants are offering a portion of their proceeds to Feel Better Friends. Soon there will be an online auction of amigurumi and other crocheted items to offset postage reimbursements. Be sure to like Feel Better Friends on Facebook for more information (the post for the auction is here).

I have my next assignment, for a boy named Jackson. I haven't started his mini me, but he's a redhead, so I'm excited. It feels good, crocheting for an important cause.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Fitbit... what once was lost now is found...

My brother-in-law sent Fitbit pedometers for me and my husband two years ago for Christmas. They're the Fitbit One, with comes with a clip so you can clip it onto your pants pocket, or somewhere else if you're wearing a dress (!) I've traveled with it by plane to New York, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas with no problem, clipped securely to my pocket.

Here it is, out of the clip:

Last Monday, my daughter and I were out geocaching (more about that in a future post). We returned to our house, and I made supper. We were just getting ready to eat when I felt my pocket... no Fitbit. We searched everywhere... in the basement (I was doing laundry while my daughter was at school), and the rest of our two-story house. No Fitbit. I jumped in my car, and returned to where we were geocaching.I retraced my steps, but no Fitbit. I went home, and by that time my husband had returned from his job. I was just getting ready to order another Fitbit, with rush shipping, when my daughter called from the kitchen. "Mommy, I found it!" My husband and I raced in. She was reaching in to the fridge to pour herself a glass of milk when she looked down. My Fitbit somehow had detached myself from my knit pants and hooked itself upside down on the inside bottom of the fridge door! We speculated that when I was reaching down to get the salad ingredients out of the crisper, it made the transfer.

I was so relieved! I canceled my order, but did purchase something else:

A wristband (actually, five of them) to wear my Fitbit One around my wrist. That way, I can keep track of it! One caveat is when I wear it on my wrist it says I climbed more floors that I actually have. It's a small price to pay for not losing my Fitbit all together.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Mandalas for Wink

I really didn't know Wink. I read her blog once or twice. I had a serious illness a few years back, and a friend suggested I read "Crochet Saved My Life," by Kathryn Vercillo. When I heard about Wink's death on a Facebook post by Moogly, another avid crocheter and blogger, I immediately ordered the book.

It's a powerful read, full of stories about how individuals battled their fears and fought though depression, harassment, PTSD and more, by crocheting.  

I also decided to crochet a mandala for Wink. 

Kathryn created a project called Mandalas for Marinke. Using one of Wink's patterns, volunteers will create a mandala in memory of Wink. All of the mandalas will be sent to Kathryn, where she will put them up on Crochet Concupiscence and curate an exhibit in San Francisco, including information about depression. She will then distribute the mandalas in a variety of ways.You can find more about it here: http://www.crochetconcupiscence.com/2015/06/mandalasformarinke-crochet-project-in-memory-of-wink-from-a-creative-being/

I chose the spoke mandala patternFor the yard I decided on Lion Brand Landscapes in Apple Orchard. I loved the colors and how they melded together. I had never tried the elongated double crochet, but after a few attempts, I got the hang of it. 

It needed to be blocked, so I got out my play mats and straight pins. While it was drying, I crocheted another one, though I had to switch yarn at the very end because I ran out.

Beautiful mandalas for an important cause. Rest in peace, Wink. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

It's always the best with bacon...

A post had been going around Facebook the past week - the infamous potato bacon cheddar tart. A friend of mine posted that he made it, and it was excellent. He's a great cook, so naturally I had to try it. The recipe by Chef Michael Smith can be found at http://chefmichaelsmith.com/recipe/potato-bacon-cheddar-tart/

First, I had to walk to our local grocery store and buy the ingredients - had to get in my Fitbit steps! $17 and a half hour later,  I was walking home. Next, the pan - luckily I found a 10-inch skillet as Chef Michael suggested. Then, a whole lot of chopping - potatoes, cheese (the food processor made quick work of that), home-grown garlic and onion.

My husband received a Misto for Christmas, so I used that to spray olive oil into the pan before laying down the parchment.

Now the bacon. Following the directions, it was quite easy to lay the bacon around the pan. I texted my husband a picture - I was so proud!

The first layer of potatoes went in. I seasoned it with salt and pepper, and then promptly forgot to season the rest of the layers.

Onion mixed with garlic and French thyme (thank you, Penzeys!) went in next, followed by a layer of cheese...

Again, per the directions, I tapered the layers in to not create overflow.

Next I wrapped the bacon over the top - easy! Chef Michael said to put a small lid on the top, otherwise the bacon would curl.

By this time it was 6:30 p.m. - and the tart had to bake for 2 1/2 hours! My husband was supposed to get off work at 8! I figured I'd pour him a glass of wine, and fix some salad...

I checked on it, and the house smelled like Thanksgiving with the bacon, onion and thyme.

My husband got home, and the tart finished. I enlisted his help in pouring off the grease (and he burned himself in the process by grabbing the lid with his bare hands!)

It looks fantastic!!

Between the two of us we flipped the tart over and removed the parchment. The directions said let it cool for 15 minutes, so we ate our salad and drank a glass of wine.

On to our cutting board (handmade by our brother-in-law and his father) to slice.

It tasted as good as it looked!  It made quite a few servings, so we froze half for later. The next day we heated up leftovers in the microwave, and the flavors melded even more. We'll do some tweaking next time (a different cheese, maybe a different herb in the onion mixture), but there will be a next time!

Yum, absolute yum!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


About two years ago I took a zentangle class taught by a Certified Zentangle Teacher, or CZT. I was hooked! A tangle is a series of strokes, six or fewer, that when put together, form a pattern. You can read more about zentangle and the founders, Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, on www.zentangle.com. Traditional zentangles are done in black and white on a 3 1/2" square heavy paper tile. In the class, we also delved into zentangle-inspired art, using watercolors and painters tape as a background, then removing the tape and tangling over the top. New tangles are being created all the time, and I subscribe to several e-newsletters. I even tangled my tennis shoes!