Friday, June 7, 2013

Easy Crochet Headband DIY

I knocked out more than 50 of these babies for the first booth I had at the Renegade craft fair.  They don't take a lot of time to whip up, and are a great beginner project for you budding crocheters out there.  

You'll need:
*1 Ball of Cotton Yarn in a fun color (I used Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Worsted Cotton)
*5mm crochet hook (I like the Clover hooks)
*A cute button  
*Embroidery thread closely matching your yarn

First, let's learn the coolest trick for starting a double crochet project.  This will change your life.  No more boring foundation chains!  Go master this technique and come back to me.  Okay, got it?  Now lets make a headband!

Start your double crochet foundation row as we learned above, leaving a short tail of about 4-5 inches.  I can't tell you the exact amount of stitches you will need in your foundation because you'll be fitting this to your particular head.  I made 44 stitches, and I'd like to think that I have an average sized head.  Your chain should be around 45 stitches, more or less.  These headbands will stretch over time, and the button closure will allow for easy adjustment.  Not too tight, not too stretchy is what we're going for here!

Once you've got the length that feels right, make your turning chain of 3 single stitches.  
Double crochet into the top of the 2nd stitch from the base of the turning chain.  

Continue on until you reach the end of the row, and then slip stitch down the side and around the edge of your first row.  
The purpose of this step is to make the structure sturdier and more "finished" looking.  Once you come to the end of the first row, bind off and use your darning needle to weave in your strands.

Now rummage in your button jar and find a cute one that is the right size to fit through your stitches, but not too small that it won't "latch."  Now use your embroidery thread and needle, and sew it on at the end of one side, making sure it is lined up to push nicely through a stitch on the other end.  Adjust to size and wear with pride!

This weekend I've got a high school graduation to attend, a screen printing project to attempt, and a river to float down with friends.  It's going to be a good one...

Daily Dog - HOMER
I actually got to meet this charming fellow at the "Bark in the Park" Round Rock Express game back in April, and I can vouch for him being a social butterfly!  I can't believe he hasn't been adopted yet, because he is so friendly and well-behaved.  Homer is just over a year old, weighs 54 lbs, and is in the care of Blue Dog Rescue.  He has just realized that he loves to swim, so he could have a lot of fun with you at the lake this summer!  Go meet him this weekend!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Front Yard Nature

Here's a quick peek at some of the critters around the house that I've photographed recently.  I'm still learning how to use our fancy camera, so this is good practice.

We have a patch of Gregg's Mistflower out front that attracts all kinds of beautiful butterflies and moths.  I would love to have more butterfly plants when we xeriscape our yard eventually.  

A pretty mint green spider on one of the succulents.  

Happy Thursday!

Daily Dog - HARCOURT

Harcourt is thought to be an Anatolian Shepherd mix about 1 year old.  What a sweet face!  Click on his name for a link to a video of him in action - he looks like a ton of fun!  He has been at the Austin Animal Center since April, and he is ID#A652879.  Go meet him today!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Daily Dog - SHREK

Shrek is a well-behaved and handsome boy, about 2 1/2 years old and 55 lbs.  He loves to learn new things, and already knows how to sit & stay.  He is great on a leash and is fully house-trained. He's a bit shy, but loves people and will be a gentle companion to whomever is lucky enough to adopt him.  Contact Austin Pets Alive! to meet him today!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Austin Happy Hour Spot #1 - La Condesa

If I'm going to go out for drinks, I prefer it to be for happy hour.  Cocktails just taste better before the sun goes down...and when they're cheap.  I decided to highlight some of my favorite spots around town to partake in this joyous American tradition.  An excuse to drink!  First up: La Condesa on 2nd Street.

La Condesa's happy hour runs from 5-7pm, and all of their delicious drinks (and food from the bar menu) are half price.  Pictured here is the Passionfruit & Mango Spiced Margarita, which is super tasty; but you really can't go wrong with ANY of the classic or signature cocktails.  My favorite is the Caipirinha.  The boyfriend's favorite is the El Cúbico, that contains grilled pineapple juice and tobacco infused tequila (which sounds utterly disgusting, but is actually pretty good).   If you're hungry, I highly recommend the Acelgas taco: spinach, giant white beans, and toasted garlic, topped with pico + salsa verde.  It's the best!  
There are only 4 tables on the small bar patio, so if you want to sit outside, get there early.  Otherwise, soak up the AC while chatting with the friendly bartenders and gazing at the cool chandelier.

Daily Dog - ZEUS

This handsome german shepherd is looking for a loving home to spend his golden years.  His foster mom says that he is calm, quiet, affectionate, and playful, and gets along well with everyone he meets!  Contact Austin German Shepherd Rescue to adopt this gentle boy.

Monday, June 3, 2013

See this Film: Frances Ha

First, lets just say that I find Greta Gerwig completely irresistible; and, because Noah Baumbach was a part of writing The Life Aquatic, I will see anything he does.  This particular film is the best that he's directed yet.
Frances Ha is a funny and charming character study about a girl in her late twenties trying to find her place in the modern world of New York City.  We follow her through struggles with friendship, love ("undateable"), the city, creative fulfillment, and life in general.  It is beautifully shot in black & white, and has a fantastic soundtrack that includes this gem:

I especially loved the editing of this film.  The inclusion of short cuts of momentary scenes from Frances' life work to create an unusually well-rounded character that is so enjoyable.
If you're not sold after the first few scenes, or put off by some of the crass dialogue, stick with it.  It will hit its stride, I promise.

Daily Dog - ABBY

Abby is a red lab mix estimated to be about 5 years old, and is very sweet.  Her ID# is A525213, and is adoptable through the Austin Animal Services shelter.  She's been at the shelter since March, so she is very ready for a proper home!  Go meet her today!

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Best Candied Pecans

Don't worry, you don't have to turn the oven on.  These take all of, let's say, 7 minutes to make, and you will not be disappointed.
You'll need:
2 Cups chopped raw pecan pieces (buy in bulk - I got mine at Whole Foods for about $4)
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil

Heat your cast iron pan over medium heat while you're gathering your ingredients.  Add the raw pecans first, and roast for a few minutes until fragrant.  Sprinkle the brown sugar on evenly, then pour on the oil and vinegar.  Stir until the nuts look nice and coated, and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour these onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper, and separate them out into a thin layer to dry.

Now you've got yourself the perfect topping for both salads AND ice cream, the essential meals of summer!

Happy Friday!
This weekend I'm hoping to go see Frances Ha, plant some peppers in the garden, go swimming at Barton Springs, and take the dogs to Red Bud Isle (if I can wake up early enough to get parking).


This sweet 15 lb terrier mix will be your new couch companion. Angela has been down a long road with some tough luck, but is hoping to find her forever home with the right person.  To adopt her, get in touch with Blue Dog Rescue.  How can you resist those ears?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Israeli Couscous Summer Salad with Lemon, Asparagus, and Tomatoes

Here's a refreshing and satisfying meal perfectly suited for the hot summer months to come!  Serve at room temp, or better yet, after it has chilled for a couple hours.

Ingredient List:
*Israeli Couscous (1 Cup)
*Juice of 1 Lemon
*Chopped Asparagus (10-14 stalks or so) 
*Diced Tomatoes - About half a pint package of whatever looks best (I used San Marzanos). 
*1 Zucchini, chopped
*1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
*2-3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
*Olive Oil

First, cook your couscous.  Sauté your diced onion in a bit of oil, until translucent.  Add your dry couscous and let it turn golden.  Then add 2 Cups of water.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until water is absorbed (about 10-12 minutes).  Remove from heat, stir, and set aside to cool.

Now, sauté your asparagus and zucchini in a bit of oil along with the garlic.  I like this best al dente, so take care not to cook these too long.  When the asparagus is bright green and the zucchini is a bit soft in the center, turn off heat.  

In a large bowl, mix the sautéed veggies with the couscous, and add in your tomatoes and lemon juice.  Season with salt & pepper to taste, and enjoy!  
If you can stand to wait, it really does taste great chilled!  And, if it seems a bit dry, just add a bit more olive oil and lemon juice.  

Add some frozen peas or edamame along with (or in place of) the other green veggies.
Top with some cotija or feta cheese.
Add fresh basil if you've got it!
Bell peppers of any color would be lovely and would also add a great source of Vitamin C.
Marinated artichokes and/or olives would be great in here too!

And now, in honor of the new season of Arrested Development, I give you:


This lucky boy is recuperating from a nasty accident that fractured his spine.  He will walk on his own again soon, but gets along speedily on his set of back wheels for now!  Full grown at just under 50 lbs, he's the perfect sized companion.  Get in touch with Austin Pets Alive! to adopt him, or to sponsor his medical care.