Monday, August 7, 2017

My Personal Cheerleader


I highly doubt I would be where I am today with my crafting were it not for the praise and encouragement from my husband. We have been married for 8 1/2 years and have 3 children. He makes me laugh, and is such a source of comfort and encouragement. He even lets me use his pretty face to take photos of my menswear. Having said all that, he has only asked me to make him a few things in all my years of knitting and crocheting. Here are some of the things I have made at his request.


-Minion hats for the family-

This was a fun one. It is something of a family tradition now to see any Despicable Me movies as a family in the theaters. He requested that I make minion hats for all of us when the Minions movie came out. Naturally we had to capture the moment for posterity.


-Baby Groot-

We love Guardians of the Galaxy, so after we saw Volume 2 he requested a Baby Groot for his desk at work. Hubby wants a Baby Groot, hubby gets a Baby Groot. Our son wants one now that he saw his daddy get one so there may be more Baby Groots in the near future.


-USC Trojans Hat-

With the previous projects, he was pretty open with the designs, and I didn't have to worry too much about it. Then came the USC hat. He was VERY specific with what he wanted. After lots of research, presenting color options, and reworking the letters to get them just so, this hat is what I produced for him.


Since these are all items that have copyrights, I won't be able to sell any of these items, but it was fun making them for personal use. And it made the hubby happy. And a happy hubby makes the best kind of cheerleader for a Mom Boss / Entrepreneur like me. I wonder what his next request will be...

Much Love,
Sarah Liz

Monday, July 31, 2017

Flower Child Headband - Crochet Pattern

Do you remember making those daisy chain crowns from the tiny flowers in the grass? That is what I was going for. My oldest daughter loves all things girly. Which we find hilarious, because she is a determined, tenacious, little bruiser of a little girl. She loves flowers and especially flowers that go in her hair. I was inspired to make her a headband with tons of flowers.


Most of the flower headband patterns I have seen, including some of my own, have you make the headband separately and make individual flowers and sew them on one by one. Most fiber artists will tell you that the sewing and weaving in ends is our least favorite part. I wanted to make something with the least amount of ends to weave in. After some trial and error, I created the Flower Child Headband. I love it because the white yarn is never cut except at the final cut to finish off the headband. The yellow centers are the only ends to weave in, and I actually use those ends to help secure the flowers to the headband!

I used Aunt Lydia's #10 Crochet Cotton thread to make a dainty little piece that fits both my 8 month old and my 2 year old! I love making headbands that adjust to your baby's head so you don't have to buy a new one every time they outgrow it, which seems like every month.



I added the headband to my Etsy shop, but if you want to have a go at making one yourself, you can also purchase the pattern on Etsy, or on my Ravelry store.

I would love to see your Flower Child Headbands! Tag me on instagram @craftsbysarahliz so I can see your work!

*Permissions*
- You are free to sell what you make from this pattern. I would appreciate links back to my blog to credit me as the designer.
- You may not use my photos
- You may not sell this pattern or claim it as your own

© Sarah Gross - Crafts by Sarah Liz

Monday, July 24, 2017

Hardly Jambalaya


Think of Jambalaya. A few things should pop into your head, like andouille sausage, tomatoes, the trinity (onions, celery, peppers), etc. Well, if I were to make for myself, I would probably try to get it as authentic as possible. However, I cook for my family, so sometimes we sacrifice authenticity for something they like instead. For example, my husband prefers ground sausage in his jambalaya. Also, since he doesn't like warm tomatoes, I skip the canned diced tomatoes and use only tomato paste to get the tomato flavor. With these changes I am not sure I should even call it jambalaya! At any rate, this recipe is a favorite of ours, even with the changes that make not as authentic as it should be.


In a large pot over medium heat, brown 1 lb Jimmy Dean ground sausage. Once browned, remove the sausage from the pot. Leave the fat from sausage in the pot. If there isn't a whole lot of fat left, add 1 tbsp olive oil.


Add your trinity - half an onion diced, 1 red bell pepper diced, 1 green bell pepper diced, and 3 stalks of celery diced. Saute until veggies are soft. Add 1 tbsp minced garlic and cook 1 minute.



Add sausage back into pot.


Add 6 oz tomato paste and stir to combine.



Add Old Bay Seasoning. My sister-in-law introduced me to Old Bay Seasoning and said "Old Bay on everything". We love lots of spicy cajun flavor so I put tons of it in every batch. I recommend starting with just a little bit (think teaspoon) and tasting it to check the spice levels.


Add 32 oz chicken broth. Bring to boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 10 minutes. If you have more time, simmer it for even longer. The longer it simmers, the more rich the flavor will be. But only simmer BEFORE putting in the shrimp.


Turn off heat, and add 1 lb uncooked, peeled shrimp. Shrimp tends to overcook easily so cook it with the heat off, and only until it turns pink and they start curling up into a spiral. If they spiral up really tight, you have most likely overcooked them. 


Serve immediately over prepared rice. Our favorite is jasmine rice.



If you don't want to scroll through all the step-by-step photos for the instructions, see directions below.

***Ingredients***
1 lb Jimmy Dean Ground Sausage
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 tbsp fresh minced garlic
6 oz tomato paste
Old Bay seasoning to taste
32 oz chicken broth
1 lb raw shrimp, de-veined, peeled
Rice (for serving)

***Directions***
In a large pot over medium heat, brown Jimmy Dean ground sausage. Once browned, remove the sausage from the pot. Leave fat from sausage in the pot. If there isn't a whole lot of fat left, add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add onion, peppers, and celery. Saute until veggies are soft. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add sausage back into pot. Add tomato paste and Old Bay seasoning and cook 3 more minutes. Add chicken broth. Bring to boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, and add shrimp. Shrimp tends to overcook easily so cook it with the heat off, and only until it turns pink and they start curling up into a spiral. Serve immediately over prepared rice.

I would love to know how yours turns out!

Happy cooking!
-Sarah Liz

Monday, July 17, 2017

Itty Bitty Bow Headband - Pattern and Video Tutorial


So many of my crocheting friends have asked me how I make my Itty Bitty Bow Headbands. While the pattern itself is super simple, the construction and sewing of the bow is hard for me to explain, even with the photo tutorial below. So I decided to make my very first pattern video. I would love to know what you think!


P.S. Pay no attention to my kids shouting in the background. They were fighting about tortilla chips, naturally.

Materials:
F hook (3.75 mm)
Yarn of choice (I use Caron Simply Soft)
Scissors
Needle for weaving in ends
Nylon headband (see tutorial below to make your own from a pair of tights)

Abbreviations:
Ch - chain
Sl st - slip stitch

Written Instructions:
With F hook, chain 30
Sl st in 2nd ch from hook, and in each remaining ch. (29 sl sts)
Cut yarn, leaving 6 inches for sewing bow

Make a bow by folding ends over and crossing over the middle. Use needle to weave the yarn through and wrap around the middle of the bow and the nylon headband. For a better description of how to sew the bow together, see video above.

Photo Tutorial:

With F hook, chain 30

Slip stitch in 2nd chain from hook, and in each remaining chain. (29 slip stitches)

Fold right side over and cross over the middle to form one loop.

Cross left side over to form the other loop.

Use the short end to tack the bow in place.


Use the long end to wrap around the middle of the bow AND the nylon headband. Wrap around for a total of 6 wraps.
Knot the ends in the back. Weave in ends, and cut the remaining tails.

Nylon Headband Tutorial:
I learned how to turn tights into nylon headbands using this tutorial on Pinterest. The short of it is to cut a piece of nylon from the thighs of the tights approximately 1 1/2 inches wide. Use your thumbs to stretch the piece out and let the nylon roll up on itself. It will create a small headband that is super stretchy and perfect for growing with baby's head.



I would love to have your feedback and to see your Itty Bitty Bow Headbands. Tag me on instagram @craftsbysarahliz so I can see your work!

The Itty Bitty Bow Headbands are also available for purchase on my Etsy shop.

*Permissions*
- You are free to sell what you make from this pattern. I would appreciate links back to my blog to credit me as the designer.
- You may not use my photos
- You may not use my videos
- You may not sell this pattern or its photos or videos or claim it as your own

© Sarah Gross - Crafts by Sarah Liz

Sunday, July 9, 2017

An 8 Year Project

Some projects are nice and small, and can be completed in less than an hour. Some, over the course of a few days. And then there are some that end up taking years before they are done. The story of my 8-year project includes Winnie the Pooh, tears, and orange juice. What a weird combination. Who knew this "little" cross stitch kit my mom bought for me would end up taking the better part of my young adult life to complete?



My affinity for crafting started in middle school when my mom gave me one of my first cross stitch projects. It was a small "Count Your Blessings" bookmark. I was so proud of it, and to this day I still keep it with my books. It is full of mistakes, but I kind of like that. It shows me where I started, and how far I have developed my crafting skills.


I was hungry to do more, so I started making small baby shower gifts for friends. Then, when I was 16, mom bought me a huge Winnie the Pooh cross stitch kit. I started working on it, but life, school, work, a trip to the British Isles, and meeting my future husband shortly thereafter distracted me. I didn't pick it up again until my husband and I decided to start trying for a baby.

I am going to get a little personal here. It took over a year to conceive due to a medical condition that can make getting pregnant difficult. I tried to be positive, and kept working on Winnie the Pooh. Then there was the orange juice incident. I just know fellow fiber artists are cringing. Yes, I spilled orange juice all over Winnie the Pooh. There were tears, lots of tears. I immediately put it in the washing machine, but I could not help the feelings that were manifesting. I was convinced it was a sign that I was not going to be able to have a baby. I know, I was so melodramatic. My sweet husband calmed me down, and once I pulled the project out of the wash with no traces of orange juice left, I started at it again.

2012 started off with quite a bang. I took an at-home pregnancy test on New Year's Day, and I expected it to be negative again for what seemed like the billionth time. But it was positive! I really started working on Winnie the Pooh in earnest now that we were expecting. I finished it a month before my due date, and my friend and knitting mentor Manuella framed it for me.


It was ready for when my son Kenny was born. The Winnie the Pooh cross stitch now hangs in the nursery where his little sisters sleep. As I write this, he is watching The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. His favorite character is Tigger (not so shocking considering his energetic, wild personality), but his favorite thing to say is "Oh bother", just like Pooh. It took 8 years, some tears, and some blood (I really need to stop pricking my fingers) to complete the project. But I am very happy that I stuck it out and finished it.

I still have lots of projects beyond my Etsy shop that I want to do for myself. Maybe the next personal project won't take quite so long to complete. Or maybe life will get in the way again, not that it would be a bad thing if it did. I think that is what is so great about crafting. It doesn't matter how long it has been since you have done anything, you can always pick it back up at any time when you need to. It will be there waiting, ready for you when you need it the most .

~Sarah Liz

Monday, July 3, 2017

Independence Day Crochet

4th of July is always a big holiday for us. BBQ, swimming, fireworks, the whole deal. And you cannot have a 4th of July celebration without some good old Red, White, and Blue. You can see a lot of  my patriotic projects in my Memorial Day post. Summer is not a typical season for knitting or crocheting, so I have to get a little creative with my projects. Some of my favorite projects for the summer are headbands. This year I have made so many new headbands for the summer. Here are some of my favorites:


I designed this for 4th of July weekend. I love how it turned out! I added it to the shop to purchase, and for those of you who crochet, I will likely be writing up this pattern soon so stay tuned!


This Americana color combo of the Itty Bitty Bow Headbands has been perfect for this holiday. Small, super quick to work up, and I can make them in all the colors. It is a fairly simple pattern, but the construction of the bow is hard to explain so I want to do my first pattern video soon so I can show what I do.


And my all time favorite this year has been the Daisy Flower Child Headband. I cannot get over how sweet she looks! Definitely be on the lookout for this pattern soon. 

I would love to see your patriotic projects! Tag me @craftsbysarahliz on instagram so I can see your work.

Happy Independence Day!
~Sarah Liz

Monday, June 26, 2017

Watermelon Baby Bib

I was inspired by the summer weather to make this watermelon baby bib. It works up quickly to help catch all that baby drool.


For those of you who are not crocheters, you can purchase the bib itself here.

The crochet pattern is now available on my Ravelry store or Etsy shop
Here are some details of what is included in the purchase of the pattern:

Size:
Based on the tightness of my tension, the dimensions of the finished bib are approximately 6 inches wide and 4 inches long (not including ties). Feel free to go up or down hook sizes to adjust the size of the bib.
Materials:
G hook (4mm)
Worsted Weight Cotton Yarn (I used Hobby Lobby I Love This Cotton Yarn) in Red, White, Green, and Black.Large eye needle for weaving in ends Abbreviations:Ch - chainSc - single crochetDc - double crochetSl st - slip stitchSc decrease – single crochet decrease (single crochet 2 together)RS – right sideWS – wrong side

Pattern will include:Written instructions in English. Photos showing the steps of the pattern. 8 Page PDF file.



I would love to see your watermelon bibs! Tag me on instagram @craftsbysarahliz so I can see your work!

*Permissions*
- You are free to sell what you make from this pattern. I would appreciate links back to my blog to credit me as the designer.
- You may not use my photos
- You may not sell this pattern or claim it as your own

© Sarah Gross - Crafts by Sarah Liz

Monday, June 19, 2017

Shortcut Spaghetti Sauce

Last month I shared my Easy Cheaty Stroganoff recipe. Another "cheat" recipe of mine is my spaghetti sauce. For special occasions I might do a sauce entirely from scratch. But for a normal evening at my house I am usually wrangling a rowdy 4 1/2 year old, a mischievous 2 year old, and a clingy 8 month old. As you might imagine, my time is not always my own. Little shortcuts save my life. Alright, maybe that is too melodramatic. But it has certainly saved my sanity.


Instead of making my sauce completely from scratch, or doing the opposite and popping open a jar of sauce and heating it up, I "doctor" jarred or canned spaghetti sauce. Here is one of the variations that I often do.



Start with olive oil, add onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers and saute until softened.


Remove veggies from the pot. Add ground beef, and some Jimmy Dean ground sausage and cook until browned.

Add the veggie mix and some garlic back in. Add basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes (This is optional. Not everyone likes a kick of heat in their sauce.). Then add some wine and give it a stir. Let it simmer for a couple minutes.

This next step is VITAL! Do this next step exactly as I tell you!!!


Take the rest of the wine and pour a glass to drink. I usually use a Cabernet for my spaghetti sauces. This Dark Horse wine is a new favorite of mine.


Add a jar or can of your favorite spaghetti sauce and stir. Simmer, drink wine, simmer, drink wine...

Serve over your favorite pasta.

In case you don't want to scroll through all the photos every time you want to make this, the consolidated recipe is below.


***Ingredients***
2 Tbsp olive oil
Half an onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced (I only had mini bell peppers on hand so that's what I used this time)
8 oz mushrooms, sliced (I am a mushroom fiend so I usually use more than 8 oz)
8 oz ground beef (I like to use 93% lean)
8 oz Jimmy Dean Sausage
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup wine
1 jar or can of spaghetti sauce

***Directions***
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil, onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers and saute until softened. Remove veggies from the pot. Add ground beef, and some Jimmy Dean ground sausage and cook until browned. Add the veggie mix back in and add some garlic. Add basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Then add some wine and give it a stir. Let it simmer for a couple minutes. Add your jar or can of sauce and stir. Simmer. You can simmer this for an hour, or just a few minutes, depending on how early you start it ahead of the rest of your meal. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Happy Cooking!
~Sarah Liz

Monday, June 12, 2017

Blanket of Roses


When I named my 3rd baby Angela Rose, I knew I need to make something with roses for her. I found a pattern for a rose and I made a whole mountain of them. Ok, it was just 20 roses, but it did take a while to get them all done. I did a combination of colors for this. Besides the solid colors, I did 2 of the colors with white in the middle, and the red or pink on the last row to make it look like a variegated rose. Those turned out to be my favorite of all the colors. Once I had all of the roses done, I made some pretty leaves in 2 colors to add some dimension.


The part that probably took the longest (besides actually crocheting the roses) was arranging the roses in a "random" pattern. I am just a little OCD, and I could not settle on an arrangement I liked. I finally got a good arrangement and started sewing them all together. 


It was incomplete, so I decided to make a headband. I used the same rose pattern but only did the last 2 rows to make the smaller rose for the headband. I added some ties to I could adjust it to her head.


This is still one of my favorite projects I have done. I would love to see some of your favorite projects. Tag me on instagram @craftsbysarahliz so I can connect with you!

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah Liz