Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 - January Recap

Wow time flies but really I have taken and looked at more pictures in one month than I have in the past 6 months.  I am so happy to share these things with my readers but also to document what's going on so I can take time and reflect.

What a wonderful review of the month!
Coming up in February, more crafts, more food and more memories.  Plus I plan on taking oodles of pictures!

<3 Heather

Monday, January 30, 2012

Soup's On!

You know I worry that I will lose some creativity in titling these posts but I will cross that bridge when I get to it. :-)

I had a heck of a time trying to figure out what to talk about in the blog today.  Originally I planned to talk about anecdotes from super bowls past but I forgot to get pictures from home so look for that one on Thursday!  So today I am sharing my cooking adventures!  (Lucky you right!)

Now don't run away and not to toot my own horn but I am a pretty decent cook and baker.  It is one way I enjoy spending the weekends trying new things and of course watching the Food Network. I come by this stuff honestly and have been baking and helping in the kitchen for as long as I can remember.

Fall 1987 when I made my first pie!  It was apple.

My mom never really liked to cook but this past year while she was home recovering she would watch the Food Network all day and would call me at work telling me what we would experiment with on the weekend.  I really miss that now and want to call her when I am watching TV or see a good recipe.

Anyway, I posted last Tuesday about some apps that I love to use, but today I want to use those apps to share with you some of the recipes I stored and tried a few weeks ago.

Two weekends ago, I made Broccoli Cheddar Soup.  I love this stuff and the recipes I combined claimed it rivaled Panera Bread's Broccoli Cheddar.  (Please blame the delay on leaving my SD card in my computer, taking pictures on the camera's memory and searching a week for the camera cord.)

Doesn't this look amazing!  Tasted really good too!
For the actual recipes, please visit the following sites:
So the great thing about these recipes was how easy they were.  Saute butter and onions. Add flour and milk/half and half. 

Chop up the broccoli and grate the carrots (I bought the matchstick carrots but that's our secret).  Now here is where the deviation between the two recipes occurs.  The Pioneer Woman did not add carrots but I like carrots so threw them in, that's why I say the recipes are combined but really just pick one that has the starter you like and go from there.

Add the broccoli and carrots to the pot and cook until tender

Grate the cheese and add into the pot and stir until combined.  (I used White and Yellow Cheddar)

Simple, right?  Visit those sites to get your quanties, times and temps but really soup making is generally a piece of cake!  Cake mmmmm :-).

In other news, this weekend I made chicken noodle soup for my dad. I learned that recipe from my mom and next time I make it I will have to remember to take pictures.  Alas, I need to take a camera everywhere and not remember half way through that I have one on my camera.

<3 Heather

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lady, Patches and Zoey

I have always loved animals and wanted pets.  I constantly look at Animal Friends and the Western Pa Humane Society searching for my next dog.  Unfortunately, my apartment is tiny and I don't think a dog would have enough space to be happy.

Growing up, my grandparents (AKA Gram and Pap Pap John) had a German Shepard named Lady.  She was a great dog and was my protector.  My mom would tell me how before she was pregnant with me Lady would jump up on her when she went to her parents house to visit but when she was pregnant Lady would grab her hand in her teeth (gently of course) and lead her into the house.  After I was born, the dog was in every picture they took of me at my Grandparent's house.  But it wasn't a full shot of Lady but rather a body part, whether it was a tail, an ear, a nose or her butt she was always there.

I was about 5/6 when Lady passed away but the good news was that we moved that year and I could finally have a dog of my own because we moved to a new house.  Patches was a spaniel mix but I suspect there was some border collie in there too.  She was black and white and fluffy and kind of awesome.

She fit in our family brcause she had an attitude, she would flip her water bowl when it was empty and when my mom was in a tear rearranging the house she would get annoyed and pout in the hallway.  But she was so loyal, she would sit on the landing in the hallway waiting for me to come home from school and she would hang around my room until I fell asleep.  She really missed me when I went off to college and would get a bit confused when I would come home for breaks and would search the house when I went back.  We had to put her to sleep my senior year of college, it was for the best and she live a long and happy life.

Before my High School Graduation with Patches

My dad didn't want another dog.  He wasn't heartless just didn't want to replace Patches.  My mom however missed having a dog around while she was rambling around the house.  When she was recovering from surgery in March of 2011, she told dad she wanted a dog and that is how we came by Zoey.

Zoey is amusing.  She really is a joy and completely different from Patches.  Zoey has high energy but is also loving.  Mom just loved her and Zoey would curl up on the chair with mom and they would nap but she also loves her chew toys and ripping apart any stuffed animal that comes in her path, including the pet bed I got her for Christmas.

Since mom is gone, I love Zoey so much more.  She made my mom's time this past year so joyful and happy and really what more can you ask from a pet.  Zoey still gets into high jinks but how can you not love this face :)

<3 Heather

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

App Awesomeness

I am engineer.  I fact I am an industrial engineer.  This area of engineering basically is the study of productivity and processes to improve and refine them to be efficient and cost effective.  So what does that have to do with organization?  Why thank you for asking!  Basically, I am hardwired by nature and training to organize and fix things to make them efficient, so when it comes to everyday life I am always looking for the most efficient way to store or get something done.

I love lists and charts and graphs and colors so when I find an amazing app or two I can't help but be addicted.  In this post I am going to talk about my 3 favorite apps that I currently use all of the time for organization and lists.

Number 1 - Wunderlist

Wunderlist is an amazing tool that according to the website

"Organizes Everything! Can be used everywhere"

When they say everywhere they mean it, Mac, iphone, ipad, Windows, Android, and Linux as well as a web based interface!  Woot!  I love anything that I can have on multiple devices and syncs with everything.  For instance this weekend I planned to run errands to Target and the grocery store.  I had 4 recipies in mind that I was buying for as well as some other staples. With Wunderlist I was able to create the list on my Mac and view it on my Droid and then screen cap it on my PC.  So awesome!

Isn't the interface pretty?  You can pick your own background

Here is my shopping list from Saturday

So that takes me to the next App that I am currently in love with....

Number 2 - Evernote

I found Evernote when I got my MacBook Pro and it was listed as a featured app and it was free which was awesome.  As I read the background on the app I thought "I can use this!" Huzzah so I downloaded it to my Mac as well as my PC and Droid then proceeded to do nothing with it.  I was in love with Wunderlist I will get around to this eventually then a post from Lifehacker changed my Evernote life. The post talks about the best apps to organize recipies online and low and behold Evernote was listed and really my world was turned on its head.  The beauty over Evernote is that I can clip recipies from blogs and Pinterest (Check out my boards) and reference them offline and on my phone. How crazy awesome is that?!?

There is even this handy little bookmark tool that clips articles, webpages and highlighted text while remembering where the URL of the original recipe!  I try to keep up with my Pins and stared bookmarks and keep them in my handy dandy recipe notebook.  I can tag and list to my hearts content and the clips are editable so if I make a modification to a recipe then I can add the note.

What else is awesome about it?  I can take pictures with my phone and create new notes.  I plan on doing this with old recipe cards.  That way I can charish these time tested recipies from my family and still have a readable and user friendly format.  Seriously awesome.

Here is a sample of a recipe I made this weekend:

This is Honey Lemon Chicken and I plan on posting the recipe and my cooking adventures soon.
Here is a sample from my phone:

Here is a list my mom made for Thanksgiving Dinner.  I took a picture of it so I could save it for next year.
Last but not least

Number 3 - dayone

With everything going on in my life and all of the change I decided that I wanted to start journaling as well as blogging.  With the dayone app I found an awesome vehicle to prompt me to write down what went on for the day.  I have alarms set up that bug me to write and the interface is simple and clean.  This app really has given me a chance to write down what I am feeling and gives inspiration to future blog posts.  Also, I can write down some of my crazy dreams (sleeping dreams not goal dreams I would tell you those) that don't make sense but are funny to remember after time.

Overall, I loves the apps and I hope that I have inspired you to try them out.  Let me know if you have a favorite app I should try!

<3 Heather

**Note: this is a completely arbitrary review and examples of my own experiences, others may have differing views and results**

Monday, January 23, 2012

What's in Your Queue

I personally think half of the fun of the fiber crafts is thinking and dreaming about what to do next.  When I first started to re-teach myself how to crochet and knit I couldn't help but think of the awesome project that I would get to do in the future.  From scarves and hats to being a hip granny and making knit object for my grand children.

My great grandmother, grandmother and mom were all big inspirations for all of the crafts that I create and really its my great grandmother that I remember the most making us all big crochet afghans.

Anyway, I digress I have a pretty decent queue with what I want to make and what I have started so here it goes.

  1. Merlot Hat in Green Merino  Started January 12, 2012
  2. Karina Vest in Pumpkin Berroco Vintage
  3. Purse in Green Vanna's Choice
  4. Socks!
  5. Cables!
  6. A Sweater
I can't wait to make all of these and whatever else catches me eye until then I leave you with some WIP shots of the Merlot Hat

Note: these pictures were taken with my new camera, a Nikon 3100. I love that the camera was able to capture the true color even in the low light of my living room

<3 Heather

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WIP Wednesday - Noro? Where for art thou Noro?

Have you ever had a project that has been incredibly easy but essentially tedious?  That has been my experience with the Noro Plaid pattern.  I bought some awesome yarn at my local yarn shop (LYS) because of the demo scarf that was shown with the yarn.  It was an awesome plaid design that set my heart a flutter so I bought the yarn to make an amazing scarf for myself.

More of my Favorite Pink and Purples!
So with the Crazy Zauberball from Schoppel Wolle in Rosa, I started the scarf.  The yarn is sock yarn so its thin and it was a good project to work while also working on thicker yarn.   I would switch back and forth because the change in grip eased the pain and stiffness I got from the other project.

The pattern for the Noro Plaid starts out makes little blocks and once you crochet to length, you make endless chains and weave them in between the blocks.  Like I said, tedious but look at those colors in the yarn.

I finished the other project (Squares for a Vanna's Swap) and just didn't pick this one back up for some reason. A couple months went by and I made a road trip to St. Louis, MO and took this along.  It's easy enough to talk while crocheting so I made some progress. Overall, while I am enjoying the striping I think I started this scarf too wide and planned for it to be too long.

When I came back I made a little more progress but mainly this one is sleeping for a bit.  With the holidays and everything else, my life was pretty hectic so I think I might pick this one up for a bit and see where it goes.

<3 Heather

Don't forget to check out more WIPs at Tami's Amis

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ms. Heather's Penguins

I told you all yesterday about what I made for my swapee in the Secret Santa Swap for the Vanna's Choice Fan Club.  Since we all love using the Vanna's Choice line from Lion Brand Yarn, this forum swaps and celebrates the awesome colors available to us through that line.

I signed up for the swap and really I was a bit vague because really the thought and creativity are all that matter to me.  So, while I was spoiling someone else with their wish list someone was working on spoiling me.

Susan was my Secret Santa and she sluethed out how much I loved the Pittsburgh Penguins and just went penguin crazy!  It was awesome.

It started with a little envelope...

And inside were PENGUIN Stitch Markers!!!!!

 A day or so later came the box....

Isn't it pretty!!!

And when I opened it up I started to suspect something....


Oh the Penguin goodness that came out of the box here is the whole kit and caboodle of amazingness!

I love everything but she made me the cutest little bag for my projects in lime green, magenta, teal and purple all colors I love. As well as some lime I need to finish a swap blanket.

 But my favorite trinket of all!

The light up PENGUIN!

Seriously the woman spoiled me!  I opened it early as I couldn't wait for the holiday and I was also having a particularly hard day. Everything made me smile and laugh as I kept opening layer after layer of this box.  I am so blessed and never know how to say thank you enough.  Thank you Nancy, you are a super special lady and I hope you know that.

<3 Heather

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Joy of Giving

One of my favorite things about the crochet and knit community is Ravelry.  I belong to several groups and their discussions and Crochet a Longs (CALs) or Knit a Longs (KALs) as well as swaps keep me working and practicing this art.  This past fall, I signed up for a Secret Santa swap in the Vanna's Choice Fan Club forum.  The rules were as follows:

Swap Guidelines
  • One handmade item made of any yarn, fabric, craft supplies.
  • A food/snack/drink/sweet treat
  • Two to five smaller items you think your partner would like.
  • At least one skein of V.C. yarn.
  • A card or note revealing who you are.
  • Wrapping individual items is nice, but not necessary. Many use tissue paper and yarn or simple ribbon for the bigger things. Stickers on the box is fun! 
The thing is that I signed up for the swap before my mom died and lost a month of time to work on things so everything was a little hectic.  The swappers in the group graciously offered to help me out but making something for someone else was a blessed distraction and I went to work.

My swappee was Ann and she lives in Southern California so all inital thoughts of a quick scarf went out the window and I thought about making a nice tote for her crafting supplies but I ran out of time so I made a slouchie hat out of Plymouth Yarn - Encore Chunky in a pretty Burgundy color using the Eco Green Pattern.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to many pictures but here is a picture of Ann with the hat on.

Picture courtesy of Ann from Ravelry

I also got her the cross ornament so lovingly adorned on her ear, Burt's Bees Lip Gloss, a water bottle with the letter A on it, a mug that asks Santa for more yarn and some awesome candy from a local chocolatier. Also I got 2 skeins of Vanna's Choice Yarn from Lion Brand in Cherry Cherry and Eggplant.

She was more patient than I, and stared at the box I sent for 2 weeks before she opened it nearly made me tell her everything as she posted about her own anxious waiting.  Thankfully she loved everything which makes it all worth while.

After everything that happened this holiday season, doing things for others really helped me to get through the rough time.  I am so thankful to everyone who supported me through this project and offered help and assistance you have no idea how much your generosity meant to me.  Thank You.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about what my own Secret Santa got me and it's penguin-licious!

<3 Heather

Project details can be found here:

Hook - I/5.5 mm
Yarn - Plymouth Yarn - Encore Chunky in Burgandy
Duration - About 2 weeks (deadlines rock!)
Pattern - Eco Green

Friday, January 13, 2012

Finished Object Friday - The Penguin Hat

While I have spent the past year and a half re teaching myself to crochet the other half of the yarn world just sat there teasing me with it's cabled and color work goodness.  I made a promise to myself that I would finish out 2011 with my planned project and 2012 would be my foray into knitting goodness.  Hats, socks, mittens, and cables galore, until a hat called my name.  This hat would change my plans and start me down a path of yarn addiction that knows no bounds (alright I have bounds but it's hard sticking to a budget!)

We enter the Penguin Zone!

Look at those Penguins dancing merrily around the hat!
But first I must back up and explain how the Penguin Zone came to be.  I am a Pittsburgh sports fan and really to know me is to know the sports that I enjoy supporting.  I love Black and Gold, what can I say but my main team would be the Pittsburgh Penguins.  I love hockey and on nights between September and June I am enthralled in a hockey game.  I have been to games and sat outside in parking lots watching it outside of the area.

My love of this team is deep rooted.  My love of sports comes from my dad.  On weekends and nights the TV would be turned to some sporting event and I became hooked.  I remember sitting on the couch watching the 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup championships with him and watching countless games of hockey, baseball and football.

My love of hockey was only intensified by one of my best friends.  Jenn is a rabid Pens fan and has traveled to many games including the Stanley Cup finals in Detroit.  She lives the Pens and we tweet each other during games discussing the plays, injuries and the chances.  This season has been fraught with injury and their struggle is well documented but being a fan means you stick by your team through thick and thin.

I am kinda crafty and took a cake decorating class, this was one of my creations

We waited to see the Stanley cup after the Pens won in 2009.

So as you can see we are big fans and when I saw a fellow Raveler pinkoknitter made this amazing hat and I knew I had to make it for Jenn.  I mean I made her the cake for her birthday the year before and  it was time to make a hat so I started.

I had to learn how to cast on, knit and purl to do the ribbing and then I started to switch colors and figure out color work.  Thank goodness for You Tube because it was a huge help to figure some of this out.I still need to figure out the twist to keep the colors in the background but I think I did pretty good and by the end I was double fisting the colors and knitting in both English and continental!

I finished the but little penguins and started on the decreases.  I think my first attempt at knitting came out well and Jenn wants to learn to knit now too!  More projects are on the way but this is an awesome first finished knitted object!

Don't forget to check out other Finished Object at Tami's Amis

<3 Heather

Details also found here:

Needles - Size 5/3.75 mm with 16 inch cables and Size 5 double needles
Yarn - Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in Gold  and White, Plymouth Yarn Encore Worsted in Black
Duration - 3 months but it start and stop work during that time (probably 12 evenings worth of work all together as I am a slow knitter)
Colorwork Video - Colorwork: Stranded Basics

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Four Years Ago...

So four years ago on January 7th, I started my first full time job.  I had just graduated from college and began working in the professional world.  It was really intimidating and looking back now, I can't believe how much time has passed.

But, I am not here to tell you about work instead, I want to talk about what happened after work that week.

When I called my mom after my first day of work we chatted about how the day went but then she asked what I was doing that night.  My response was "Nothing, why?"  She sighed and said, "Would you be able to come home tonight, I need some help."  Suspicious I responded, "Help with what?"  There was a pause, "I was laying new carpet I got with money from Christmas and my birthday in the living room and got everything out but can't lift the new carpet roll and now I am stuck in the corner.  Can you come home?"  (Note: Her birthday is January 8th.  She would have been 56 this year but we celebrated her 52 birthday on the 6th that year)

I couldn't help but laugh and I drove the 1.5 hours home in rush hour traffic and walked into the house.  The place was a wreck, all of the living room furniture was in the dining room and she had half of the carpet unrolled and in place.

"Ma, I thought your said you were stuck and needed my help."  Mom kind of snorted with amusement and said, "Oh well I managed to move some more pieces of furniture and got it half unrolled, now get over here and help me move the entertainment center so we can finish." 

Picture of the Living Room with the Carpet

That ladies and gentleman is my mom in a nutshell.  She was strong and determined and wasn't going to wait for anyone to do what she wanted.  It wasn't uncommon to leave for school and come home and the entire house would be wallpapered or rearranged.  She was so stubborn too, just wanted everything just so and in her own way.

I realize now that since her illness and death, I have lost a lot of my drive and determination.  I was ambitious and driven, but past tense isn't good enough for me and would annoy the heck out of her so I plan to revive my motivation and regain my drive and ambition to be awesome.

<3 Heather

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's Easy Being Green

So I mentioned last week that I wanted to start a blog but couldn't decide what my theme was, really it was a combination of friends having blogs and wanting to show off my new hobby CROCHET!!!!

I wanted to put more thought and humor behind my finished objects but didn't know where to start.  I was intimidated, there are so many awesome craft and crochet blogs including my friend Samie's blog over at Not Your Grams Afghan that I didn't want to copy their awesomeness.  But being a good friend Samie pushed me to make a blog because I have a story to tell and here I am, thanks Sam!

Sam and I in Rio de Janerio, May 2007

In the spirit of my original idea, here is a story about my first project the humble green scarf.

My favorite color is Green so when trying to teach myself crochet I picked up a lovely Dusty Green from Vanna's Choice from Lion Brand Yarn and the Stitch and Bitch Crochet Book and went to town with trying to figure these loops things out.

I had some experience with crochet as Grandma Lily was an avid crocheter and made us all blankets and my mom knew a thing or two as well.  So I made my foundation chain and putzed with a few different stitches but liked the height of he Triple Crochet and set to work.

I didn't realize it at first but I was only crocheting through the back loop and was getting a wavy scarf and had done too much to even think about ripping it out and starting over.

Isn't it a pretty color!

I admit I got bored and put the scarf away and I skipped to another project of making St. Patrick's day scarves and a large granny square blanket (Posts to come of course :-) ).

An in progress picture

Then I found Ravelry back in February 2011 and wanted to have pretty finished objects to post. So I dug the green scarf out of the basket and set to work while I watched hockey (Let's Go Pens!) and finally got the scarf finished.

I love Green!  Green Couch, Green Coat, Green Scarf!

I am really proud of this thing.  It's not really pretty and it's crooked but it's done and I made it.  Such a sense of accomplishment.  Anyway, after looking at it and posing with it I realized it was too wide and I stitched the sides together and voila! the First Finished Object!  You can check out the Ravelry post here.

<3 Heather

Details also found here:

Hook - J/6.0 mm
Yarn - Vanna's Choice Dusty Green
Duration - Unknown because I worked on it intermitently
Stitch - Triple Crochet in the back loop

Monday, January 9, 2012

What's in a Name?

So, now that you've met me you want to know more right?  For instance what is the Amaryllis that you speak of?  Is it a favorite character from a musical? Is it an anagram of my name?  Is it in memory of a beloved pet?

Really it's none of these.  Amaryllis is a type of bulb flower typically sold in the winter months because it can bloom in doors. (thanks wikipedia!) I know this for a fact because my Great Grandmother (AKA Grandma Lily) was an avid gardener and had 4-5 of these flowers in various stages of bloom all year round.  But I know what your thinking, that really doesn't explain the name; just get to the point already.

If you insist :)

While thinking about a name for a blog/journal I was sitting in my living room/dining room staring off into space when I finally focused on the poster I have framed on the wall.

TA DA!  An Amaryllis, and there the name was born.  Not only was it an object of my mindless wandering but it also has a familial connection that made it perfect.  Later on I looked up the meaning of the flower (Did you know flowers have meanings?  Fascinating but that's another blog post) and realized this was the perfect flower for me.


Legend has it that the amaryllis - the stunning red flower we've come to associate with the holidays - began as a shy, timid nymph. Amaryllis fell deeply in love with Alteo, a shepherd with Hercules' strength and Apollo's beauty, but her affections were unrequited.  Hoping that she could win him over by bestowing upon him the thing he desired most - a flower so unique it had never existed in the world before - Amaryllis sought advice from the oracle of Delphi.
Following his instructions, Amaryllis dressed in maiden's white and appeared at Alteo's door for 30 nights, each time piercing her heart with a golden arrow.  When at last Alteo opened his door, there before him was a striking crimson flower, sprung from the blood of Amaryllis's heart.  With this romantic - albeit tragic - tale as its beginning, it's not surprising that today the amaryllis has come to symbolize pride, determination and radiant beauty. (Courtesy of teleflora.com)

 So a not only did I name this blog after a poster and my Grandma Lily's memory but the flower itself suits my personality.  Proud and determined are two of my traits that I got from all of the lovely women in my family and I can't wait to tell you more about them!

<3 Heather

Friday, January 6, 2012

Welcome to Amaryllis Musings

Welcome to my blog!  I have wanted to start a blog for quite sometime but managed to come up with a mirriad of excuses.  I didn't have a vision, I didn't have a point, so why should I bother with this medium anyway. The kicker of them all was, who would want to read my ramblings?

Then things changed, I lost my mother in November of 2011 and I realized that I wanted to record my life.  I wanted to record my memories from her and my family as well as my journey forward.  This became my point of view.

My mom and I at Phipps Conservatory December 2010

So what are you going to find here?  Well, I guess I better tell you about myself, first let's start with the basics:

Name:  Heather
Occupation:  Engineer and Part Time Masters Student

Hobbies: Nerd, Foodie, Crochet/Knitting, Reading, Hockey Fan (Particularly Pittsburgh Penguins), Volunteering

In general, I plan to use this space to tell you about what I am crafting, tell you about the food I am making or cool sciency things.  But mainly, talk about what's going on and tell you stories about my mom.

<3 Heather