My Life, My Obsessions

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Barrel of Monkeys!

Who remembers this toy?

I never had one, which is perhaps why I felt compelled to crochet it.

The pattern is in my Etsy store.

Check out the cute barrel. It holds eight to ten monkeys.

The arms, legs, and tails interlock to form chains, patterns or just a big mass of monkeyness.

I loved this quote.

"One monkey arouses a great deal of amusement. Two or more then double the interest and amusement. If one were to release a barrel full of monkeys, we must suppose that their antics would become hilariously comical." - Charles E. Funk

(Updated) There's another way to do the arms, legs, and tail. Below are the picture of the little monkey and the instructions (both from Midds on Crochetville).

"For the arms I sl st towards the end of the pipe cleaner, folded it over and sc 8 times close together around the pipe cleaner. I cut a long tail. Then I took the pipe cleaner and fed it through the body at round 6. I then repeated the process on the other side of the pipe cleaner. I then fed the long tails through the monkey and knotted them together and hid the yarn inside. I did the same thing for the legs except I did 10 sc and placed them at round 9. For the tail I ch. 11, sc in 2nd ch from hook and across for a total of 10 sc."

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Sunday, March 30, 2008


While I was in college, my roommates and I had an ongoing joke about one of our roommates. Whenever something was on sale, Kristina would buy a ton of whatever it was. I am not exaggerating when I say that she had a year's supply of feminine products. So we used to joke about it by saying "It was on sale so I bought two." Well this week strawberries were on sale (88 cents a pound -how can you resist?), so we bought ten pounds. We're actually thinking about going back for more to make into freezer jam.

So I convinced my five year old son that he wanted to help out and we washed, stemmed, and froze seven pounds of strawberries. We like to add them to drinks in the blender (strawberry lemonade, banana strawberry, strawberry shakes, etc). In case you're not a math whiz, that left us with three pounds of strawberries. It was the prettiest three pounds, I sorted them out. We made the best chocolate sauce ever and an angel food cake and by bedtime we were down to two pounds of strawberries.

Since strawberry season is beginning, I'll add the chocolate sauce recipe for anyone that wants to try it. It came from a very nice lady that goes to church with my mother-in-law. It is also really good on fresh pineapple or eaten by the spoonful. I even put it on brownies. I couldn't help myself.

The Chocolate Sauce
1 Hershey Bar (regular size)
1- 14 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk
6 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Butter (not margarine or other substitutes)
about 1/3 cup milk (to consistency)
Melt everything but the regular milk in a medium saucepan on medium heat until smooth. Take pan off of burner and stir in milk slowly until it reaches the right consistency (not too runny). It will thicken slightly when it cools. Let it cool or you'll burn your tongue -I know this from experience and not just mine (my husband can't keep out of it either). The best part is that it doesn't ever harden.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Christy's Felted Pruse

I have almost finished my sister-in-law's birthday present. By the time it dries and gets in the mail, it will only be about three weeks late. Of course I unraveled (frogged) and recrocheted enough to make two purses, but it was worth it. I like how it turned out. Now I just need to find the perfect button.

Here's the before picture:

And the after picture:

Measurements (length by height by width)
Before felting: 15 ½ by 9 ½ by 4 ½ inches
After felting: 11 ½ by 7 ½ by 3 ½ inches
And here it is with the button:

My button selection was really limited, but here's what I found:

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Saturday, March 15, 2008


It's time for another Argentine dish. I made this for my husband while we were dating. Actually, I had just tried to break up with him at a Mexican restaurant in Provo, Utah called Los Hermanos. He now refers to it as "the Los Hermanos Episode." So to make it up to him I made ñoquis and invited him over for dinner. Less than two weeks later we were engaged. Coincidence? Probably.

First a little history. Ñoquis (called gnocchi in most places) date back to Roman times and can be made from potatoes, semolina, wheat flour, bread crumbs, etc. Outside of Italy, it's usually made with potatoes. In Argentina, the 29th of each month is Ñoquis Day. It was the day before pay day, money was tight and ñoquis were cheap to make. There are a variety of ways to make the actual ñoqui as well as a variety of sauces to add to it. You can even buy them fresh, frozen, or dried in many grocery stores. This is the version that I came to know in Northern Argentina. I learned the process from an Argentine friend in Yerba Buena, Tucuman who laughed at me for rolling the ñoquis so slowly. I've gotten better and faster since then, but it is a little awkward at first.

Step 1: Peel and cut up about one potato per person. It may not seem like a lot, but trust me. We always end up making way more than we think. Boil the potatoes in heavily salted water and then mash them with a little oil or butter (about 2 tablespoons). The salt keeps the potatoes from soaking up too much water. There's a chemistry lesson in there, but we'll skip that for now. Once the potatoes are mashed, put them in the fridge to cool off. This can be done the day before or you can use leftover mashed potatoes as well.

Step 2: The sauce. Everything is chopped up finely, except the tomatoes and chicken, which are cubed or diced.

2 Tbs butter
1/2 an onion (chopped finely)
2 carrots (grated)
1/2 a red pepper (chopped finely)
1 medium tomato (cut up) or can of diced tomatoes
16 ounce can of tomato sauce
2-3 chicken breasts (cut into small pieces)

I use a food processor to chop the onion, carrots, and red pepper. First fry the onion in the butter. Then add the carrots. When the carrots begin to soften, add the red pepper, tomato, and tomato sauce.

Mix in the following spices:
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
1/8 tsp paprika

Add the chicken. Cook on medium high until chicken is cooked through. Then simmer on low until ready to eat.

Step 3: Making the ñoqui dough. Take the mashed potatoes and add lots and lots of flour. OK, start with 2-3 cups of flour. I add about a cup at a time until it reaches the right consistency. Mix and knead the mashed potato dough until it feels like bread dough. If it still feels sticky, add more flour.

Step 4: Forming the individual ñoqui noodles. Roll the dough into a long snake (just like you did when you played with play dough) and then cut into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces. Smaller are better, but you'll be rolling them out forever if you make hundreds of tiny ones. They look kind of like this once cut:

It is helpful, but not necessary to have a ñoqui maker. They are wooden with lots of grooves. If you don't have one, you can use the back of a fork. I've tried it and it does work, but I still prefer my ñoqui makers. In fact I think I need to buy a third one one to keep my kids from fighting over the extra one. This is a step that they love to be actively involved with. It usually means that I need to reroll a few that my kids "helped" with.

To form the ñoquis, start by flouring the ñoqui maker. Then grab one of the pieces of dough and smoosh it along the ñoqui maker with your thumb. The dough will roll out from under your thumb, curling up behind your thumb as you go. That may sound confusing, hopefully the pictures will help clarify. Please excuse my flouriness, it keeps the dough from sticking.

You should end up with a little shell shaped noodle. As you make them toss them onto a lightly floured surface. I use a cookie sheet. If you make an insanely large amount (like we do) you'll want to sprinkle flour over the ñoquis to keep them from sticking together as you layer more on top.

This is a 15x10 inch cookie sheet (see below). In some places they are stacked 3 deep. The idea was to have leftovers so that we wouldn't have to cook tomorrow. Not only do we have plenty for tomorrow, but we're going to have to invite some people over or we'll be eating ñoquis all week.

Step 5: Cook the ñoquis. Boil some water, add lots of salt (the chemistry lesson again). Drop in the ñoquis. We cook a little at a time and just keep adding as the earlier ones are done. They cook fairly quickly. You'll know they're done because the start to float. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and keep going until they're all cooked.

Step 6: Dinner time! These are really filling, so don't overload you're plate. It's served just like spaghetti. Put the red sauce on top of the noodles. Enjoy.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Fluffy Bunny

My son loves crafts. He's definitely my son. All you have to do is mention pompoms or pipe cleaners and his little eyes brighten and he starts jumping for joy. A couple years ago I bought a bag of 750 pompoms. We haven't even made a dent in the bag. So we let my daughter (two years old) play in the pompoms while my son and I got everything ready.

So today we made little bunnies for Easter. It's based on a Family Fun magazine pattern, but we exchanged the beads for pompoms. He got to make two bunnies (named Hoppy and Fuzzy Wuzzy) and I made one for my daughter. Before we had the mess cleaned up, my son was already asking to make a bed for his bunnies.

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Usually at our house it is my husband that has the cravings. Even when I was pregnant, he had more cravings than I did. This time, it was me that had the craving. Homemade Oreo cookies. So, I found this recipe for Almost An Oreo Cookie from CD kitchen.

First the cookie dough from a cake mix. It's a really hard dough, but easy to make. Doesn't look very appetizing, does it?

The cookies come out of the oven still looking like little mounds, which look only slightly more appetizing than the dough. Then you squish them flat and they look like yummy chocolate cookies.

Here's the filling before adding the gelatin mix. It made tons of filling and I think I only used about half of it.

These didn't last long very long at my house. The recipe says that it makes twelve, but I ended up with eighteen (and a half). I'm already trying to justify making them again! Mmm...


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Easter Sweet Rolls

Easter almost snuck up on me this year. We just happened to be looking at the calender to schedule a trip for the summer, when we discovered that Easter is in March this year. So know I've been thinking about Easter. We've been trying to remind my five year old that Easter is more than the Easter Bunny and egg hunts. We sat down to share the story with the kids and my husband asked him "What does Easter make you think of?" My son immediately answered "Jesus died for us." Then we did a flannel board story (minus the flannel board -just double sided tape and the TV screen) and he proceeded to tell my husband and I the story of Christ's resurrection. I guess he pays attention more than I think.

So, I was remembering what we did last year for Easter. I had to teach the children at church and did an egg activity (plastic eggs filled with different items) to tell the story of the crucificition. But the highlight of the class was the rolls. I spent the day before making almost five dozen rolls. It was worth the effort. They tasted great and I got tons of compliments. Not only is it a great way to remind the kids of Christ's resurrection, but they taste great. I'm posting the recipe now in case anyone wants to make them this year. If I remember, I'll add pictures when I make them.

Even if you don't celebrate Easter, these are a great treat.

Easter Sweet Rolls

1 package of frozen dinner rolls –thawed (or make your own roll dough recipe)
1 bag of large marshmallows (don’t use old or stale marshmallows)
1 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbs sugar
¼ cup (half a stick) of butter/margarine

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Melt the butter and set it aside. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.

Divide the dough into roll-sized servings as you normally would to bake them. (Store bought rolls will already be divided.) Flatten each roll into a circle and place one marshmallow in the middle.

Close the circle of dough around the marshmallow. Be sure to seal it inside by pinching around the sides, then roll in your hands to minimize the seam and reform the ball.

Place in pan. Brush the melted butter on the tops of the rolls. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the rolls.

Bake for 15 minutes or the amount of time recommended for the frozen dough. Rolls are done when they turn golden brown.

The marshmallow will have melted inside, leaving the roll empty, just as Christ’s tomb was found empty when he had risen.

*You can make these the day before. After sprinkling the cinnamon sugar on top, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until you're ready to bake them Sunday morning.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Unraveling (aka Frogging)

You may remember this project that I was excited about making for my daughter. I'm not so excited about it anymore. I realized that I had made a significant mistake several rows back (before the two rows of X's). The problem is that this yarn is almost impossible to pull out. The fibers twist together and it takes longer to unravel a row than it did to crochet it in the first place. So now I hate it.

Speaking of unraveling things, I am making a felted purse for my sister-in-law. I have made, unraveled, and remade every part of it at least once. So if she reads this, I have not forgotten about it. I am getting close to finishing, although there is another part that needs to be redone and I might need to pick up another skein of yarn.

My other project, because I always seem to have several going, is a froggy bag. It's going to have poison dart frogs on it. I'm doing it to use up some yarn that I've had forever. Red, yellow, blue, green, white, and black. It's not very presentable right now, so you'll have to wait for some pictures.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Don't Pick a Lemon

Terrible title, I know. It was the theme of a college dance while El Guapo and I were engaged, which is even worse than a blog title.

There's a place where you can pick your own citrus fruit for ten cents a piece less than two miles from us. We pass it all the time on our way to Sprouts to buy our produce. A couple weeks ago while my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were here, they took my kids there (El Guapo and I were on a date). They had a blast and came home with great pictures, fun stories, and tons of fruit. So we went the next Saturday (it's only open on Saturday) to get more. You're probably thinking, Who needs that much citrus? I agree, but my mother-in-law sent me the juicer attachment to my hand-me-down Bosch mixer. I needed an excuse to use it again and who doesn't love homemade lemonade or fresh squeezed orange juice?

On the way home we devised this brilliant plan for keeping the kids busy so that we could get to work. The kids are "helping" wash the fruit. Water + kids = mess. But it also means happy busy kids that stay outside until they are soaking wet and Mom and Dad have made plenty of progress without them under foot. We more than filled the huge bucket.

Here I am with my new juicer.

That's eighty lemons.

We measured out one cup of lemon juice into little Ziploc bags to freeze. Putting the bags into cups makes the pouring easier. Following my mother-in-law's recipe, it's 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, and 2 quarts water. You may want to adjust it to your tastes.

Twenty six bags of lemon juice.

We also juiced fifteen grapefruit and thirty or so oranges, but that was before we started taking pictures.