…somewhere between the stitches…

knit.crochet.sew.craft.cook.


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16 Yarnspirations for the Creative Knitter/Crocheter

Need a bit of yarny-inspiration? Here are some projects that I’ve hand selected just for you! Maybe they’ll inspire you. But probably not. Mostly, they’ll just make you laugh. Or burn your eyes. ;-)

1. To Humiliate The Dog – Because what tiny dog with an inferiority complex doesn’t want to be dressed up like a mouse? You can find the free pattern for this ADORABLE dog hat/snood/ridiculousness here.

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2. If you’re an overachieving dog-lover with a penchant for embarrassing your canine BFF, then this should definitely be your next project. Unfortunately, the crochet pattern for this particular tool of humiliation is not available yet although Ravelry-users can check on the creative dog-mommy who created this masterpiece here to see when the pattern becomes available.
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3. Wondering what you could make with granny squares besides an afghan? Why, a sweater and matching pants, of course! Your husband can thank me later.

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4. A Ravelry search for the work “toilet” results in 150+ toilet roll and toilet seat covers and even a handful of knit/crochet toilets. But there can only be one Commode-O-Dragon.

Commode-o-Dragon_web_medium25. I love seeing hand-knits on the runway. Makes me feel like my yarny-pursuits are creative and high-fashion! But apparently, I missed the memo because this is knit haute couture. 
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6. I have no words.

54217e9a9ae02022e1374cf821972d1e 7. I wonder how long it took the person who knit this to get the cables just right in the crotchal region… oKKOJ

8. If the hooded cabled onesie isn’t quite enough for your manly man, then surely, this will be adequate. crazy_knit_01

10. I can’t decide if this is genius or really, really weird. 
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11. This is what happens when you cross a luchador with a clown and a Cabbage Patch Kid. 1424927370235-knittedskimask 12. I don’t know about you, but this guy is seriously rocking the look. His sweater vest is the perfect match for those granny glasses. dsc01950 13. I don’t get it. crazy-knitting 14. I want to know the secret to getting the yarn to stick straight up on the mohawk! And I kind of love the pants. badass-knitting_yellowtrace_04 15. Knit pasties. ‘Nuff said. cc5fba64ee10c03884b8acbd4baf5905 16. Who needs knit penis cozies when you can knit a dress covered in them??? 2decbcef27aee9fcfeb136ebbb44b80d

Happy Wednesday! ;-)


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Free Printables: Star Wars Themed Birthday Party

February is a short, crazy month in the jkwdesigns household. Now that my big boys are in school, I have Valentine’s Day crafts, 100th day of school crafts, and the birthdays of all 3 of my children to celebrate. All within a week of each other. :-( I feel like I’m juggling 30 crystal wine glasses while doing the river dance.

When my boys asked begged me for a bowling party, I have to admit that I was a little sad. As a party planner, I had grand plans for a Jedi Academy themed party, complete with Jedi robes, lightsabers, training course and certificates of completion. Two minutes later, I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief because I wouldn’t have to worry about prepping all the activities and planning the menu. Feeling about 10 lbs lighter, I vowed to throw all my efforts into the invitations and party favors and got started.

And here’s what happened!

INVITATIONS HOW-TO:

Inspired by other lightsaber invitations I saw on Pinterest, but absolutely unwilling to cut out individual lightsaber pieces and construct, I decided to go with a more realistic approach. Plus, hunting down card stock in various colors here in Seoul seemed like a waste of time. (I really, really miss Michael’s and AC Moore!) I did some research on lightsaber hilts and found that Yoda’s lightsaber would work best. It’s fairly uniform in width from top to bottom, so it would provide the width I needed to be able to slide a blue or green ray of light/paper in and out of the hilt. Using an image of Yoda’s lightsaber hilt, I adjusted the size to widen it without making it look disproportionate.

Lightsaber Invitations

Materials:
Card stock in white to print lightsaber hilts
Card stock in color of lightsaber blade
Printer
Scissors
Sookwang double sided tape (1/4 inch wide)

The lightsaber hilts are approximately 2 inches across, which leaves about 1.5 inches to work with on the inside once the pockets are constructed.

You can download the PDF file containing the adjusted lightsaber hilts (3 per page) here: Lightsaber Invitation

Print on card stock and cut the lightsabers out. You will also need to create a stencil of the cut piece in order to create the “pocket.” If you’re handy with the Silhouette cutter, then you could easily import the image and have your Silhouette do all the cutting for you.

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The most tedious part of the invitation is creating the pockets for the blade. I used Sookwang tape (readily available here in Korea), which is an amazing double-sided adhesive. I placed the adhesive along the edges of the lightsaber hilt (approx. 1/8 inch) and cut the excess adhesive off. This allowed me to make the pocket as wide as possible since I had very little room to work with.

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For the blade portion of the invitation, I designed a long, narrow invitation strip and printed half in blue and half in green (because I have twins who insist). And the result was an absolute hit. The kids–mine and the recipients–were thrilled with the invitations, and many of them went so far as to bring their lightsaber invitations to the party.

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FOOD:

Our local bowling alley is all set up for parties; however, as part of the party package, the only food that you’re allowed to bring in is a birthday cake. Everything else must be purchased from the bowling alley. And the options are very limited. As in what toppings would you like on your pizza limited. So pizza and fruit punch it is.

ACTIVITIES:

The rental is for a 2 hour party: one hour of bowling followed by one hour of food and cake. We’d been to enough parties at the bowling alley to be familiar with the set-up, and the bowling portion of the party is enough to kids occupied, so there really was no need for planning any other activities.

I did, however, create an activity placemat for the tables, just so it wouldn’t be so bare. It contains a blueprint-type coloring page of the Millennium Falcon and a personalized word search that includes my boys’ names. There are some great word search generators online–here’s one of my favorites from The Teachers Corner.

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DECORATIONS:

It’s no secret that I like simple, bold design, and since this party was for MY kids and not for a client, I was able to go with my very own personal style. Luckily, my boys don’t really have opinions on this sort of thing, and they were just so excited that everything was Star Wars-related that I received no complaints. ;-)

So as my design style goes, I stuck with black, white and gray with a splash of yellow. Since I couldn’t bring in my own food, it limited my party styling. I kept the cake table pretty clear because I definitely wanted the cake itself to be the center of attention. The cake was made by an incredibly talented friend of mine who will be in Seoul for the next few months, so if you’re looking for a cake designer, let me know and I’ll pass along her information!

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Almost all of my decorations were made with the help of my trusty Silhouette Cameo. I cut Jedi Order symbol stickers (in white) and applied them to black paper cups. I cut white star stickers and applied them to a black plastic tablecloth which was hung on the wall for the backdrop. I cut additional Jedi Order and Rebel Alliance symbols from black poster board and placed them on the yellow napkins on tables. The “Welcome Young Jedi” sign was also made from sticker letters cut with the Silhouette. Seriously, I love my Silhouette.

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The only other decor item that I designed for the party is the birthday banner, which you can download here for free! This includes the Jedi Order symbols. Just print on card stock, cut, punch holes and string together!

Star Wars Birthday Banner

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PARTY FAVORS:

Since I had decided early on that I was going to put all my efforts into party favors, I knew that I wanted to make personalized t-shirts for my boys’ guests. However, I knew that many of them would be coming with younger siblings. Then, I got to thinking about the people I really wanted to thank for coming, and that was PARENTS! So here’s what went into the party favors:

For the Jedi Masters:

Each of the guests received a personalized t-shirt, which was created using heat transfer paper. I’ve worked with heat transfer paper before in the past, and I don’t love it. The finished product doesn’t typically hold up very well in the wash. The image cracks, and the colors fade. However, on the bright side, if you’re going for a vintage look, it’s perfect! ;-)

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For Younglings:

Younger siblings received a glow stick/lightsaber favor, which actually ended up being super popular with ALL OF THE KIDS. Luckily, I had so many glow sticks left over from our Valentine’s Day project that I’d made extras so there were enough glow sticks for everyone.

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You can download the lightsaber cards here: Lightsaber Party Favor Card

For the Jedi Council:

Last, but certainly not least, I made gourmet chocolates for the parents! I had so much fun with this, and I’d actually been preparing to make these for quite some time, experimenting with recipes (particularly the raspberry ganache recipe) until I came up with one I liked. My husband and I ate A LOT of chocolate during the experimenting process. A LOT. But I think the end results were well worth it! And of course, the Darth Vader and Stormtrooper molds were perfect for the dark and white chocolates. The molds are available on Amazon.

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May the Force be with you!


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Free Printable: Love is all you need

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Life has been (as usual) a bit crazy and hectic at the jkwdesigns household. My husband was away on a business trip for two weeks, and again, as usual, the timing couldn’t have been better. :-p With all 3 kids’ birthdays in February as well as Valentine’s Day and all the crafting that (obviously) has to happen… Thankfully, today wraps up the Valentine’s crafting, so now I just have to make it through the next 4 days to bid farewell to this year’s birthday festivities. Then I can breathe. I can’t wait to share photos and some free printables from the boys’ Star Wars (surprised??) themed birthday party.

Until then… Here’s a little (free) love to hold you over. ;-)

Love is all you need

Just click on this link to download the high resolution digital file without the watermark. You can either print it on 8×10 photo paper or letter sized card stock and trim to fit an 8×10 frame.

Wishing you a day filled with much love and hugs and kisses!


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Free Printables: Snack Time = Fun Time!

Happy New Year from Seoul, South Korea! I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post–the past month has been an absolute whirlwind of activity. As a mother of kindergarteners, I have experienced my very first Winter Break, and let me tell you… It wasn’t pretty. My boys were BORED OUT OF THEIR MINDS and craved the daily activities, the friends, and the stimulation of school. In the meantime, I was running around like a crazy person trying to make sure that everything was PERFECT for Christmas, mostly because I know that we only have a precious few Christmases before my kids stop believing in the MAGIC of the holidays (see previous post).

So basically, this control-freak, Type-A mom was desperately trying to make sure that EVERY. LITTLE. THING. was in perfect order. By the end of their two-week reprieve from school, I was just about ready to kick them out the door and return to the (relative) calm of our day-to-day routine. Except we had friends come for a 12-day long visit with their incredibly adorable 9 month old baby, which made me even crazier because I was basically smacked in the face with baby fever and the slightly depressing (but also exhilarating) realization that I would never again have a sweet little baby to snuggle and nurse and make completely ridiculous noises and faces at–just for a perfect gummy, toothless grin. My husband commented several times within the first hour of our houseguests’ arrival that I was acting like a crazy person. He only stopped teasing me when he realized what a lunatic he looked like every time he got a hold of the baby. After a few hours of baby time, both the husband and I agreed–thank goodness we’ve both been “fixed” or we’d TOTALLY be talking about having another baby! My youngest would beg to differ though. She was not terribly pleased with mommy’s attention being diverted to the new baby in the house. ;-)

Anyway, with all the excitement in the house and the fact that I was pretty much blinded by the baby cuteness, I completely forgot that the boys’ first week back in school was MY WEEK TO PREPARE CLASS SNACKS! I remembered as the kids were leaving for school Monday morning, and since the commissary is closed on Mondays, my options were limited. I sent my husband to the shoppette/liquor store and literally told him, “I don’t care what kind of junk it is. We have to send SOMETHING!” Feeling my crazy-mom panic, he assured me that all would be fine, and he wouldn’t let on to Mrs. S, the boys’ teacher, that I had forgotten.

Since Day 1 consisted of Cheez Its and Rice Krispie Treats (the pre-packaged variety that I will assume absolutely no responsibility for thanks to my husband’s self-sacrifice in the name of marital bliss), I had to step up my game and make up for my failure to deliver fun and nutritious snacks for my children and their classmates because this is the type of thing that only a crazy lady would worry about. Tuesday, I was able to deliver fruit from our local produce market (bananas, apple slices and clementines). Monday is really The Worst Day for the commissary to be closed. :-(

Since I was (finally) able to get to the store on Tuesday, Wednesday, was more fun for me to put together, and much more fun for the kids to eat! When my boys came home from school, they were super excited to tell me about what a big hit the snacks were and what they built with their grapes, pretzels and cheese sticks! Small cubes of cheese would have worked well too as well as crackers of various sizes and other fruit (blueberries, strawberries, banana slices, oranges, etc.). So here’s a simple little printable to throw in the baggie along with edible “building” supplies!

Let's Build With Food

 

To download a PDF with 8 little cards per sheet, click here: Let’s Build With Food

For Day 4 of my frantic snack-making, I decided on my boys’ all-time favorite treat–S’mores. But without the fire and melted marshmallows, which seasoned s’mores-lovers may balk at, but thankfully, my audience consisted of a bunch of 5 year olds, so no one complained about the lack of dangerous, hot, burning embers in the classroom.

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Delicious make-it-yourself mini s’mores can be made with Teddy Grahams, mini marshmallows and chocolate chip morsels. As my boys would say, “Easy peasy!”

Click here to download the mini s’mores printable: Mini Smores

And finally, to round out my week of snack-making hell fun, I made cheese and veggie muffins. I had originally planned to make these delicious and nutritious muffins for Thursday and give the kiddos the mini s’mores as a Friday/End of Week treat, but I failed to remember (until after the groceries were purchased) that my miserably small Korean oven can only handle one muffin pan at a time, so I needed the extra time to bake 4 dozen muffins. And please excuse my lack of a photo of the muffins. I was too busy taking photos of a certain adorable 9 month old. ;-) But you can take my word for it–they’re pretty and colorful!

Cheese and Veggie Muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 diced red bell pepper
1 cup frozen corn (defrosted)
1 cup frozen chopped spinach (defrosted)
4 eggs
6 slices of white bread (cut into small cubes)
salt and pepper to taste

Makes approx. 1 dozen regular-sized muffins

Cooking Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin/cupcake pan with non-stick spray. Do not use paper cupcake wrappers. The paper will stick to the muffins and will not come off easily.
2. Thoroughly combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Spoon mixture into muffin pan.
4. Bake for approximately 20 minutes (or until tops of muffins are golden brown).

Easy peasy! ;-)

I actually have no idea how well these muffins went over with the kids. My children will eat anything and everything, including spinach and red bell peppers. However, the cheesiness of the muffins mask the taste of the (healthy) veggies, so I’d say there’s a decent chance that non-veggie lovers would be willing to give it a try. When I make these muffins for my family, I also add BACON because… well, bacon. Just chop up some cooked (but not crispy) bacon and add to the mix.

 

Now that my houseguests have gone home and my week of snack responsibilities have ended… I can return to the lunacy of the everyday that is my life with three kids. ;-)


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Why I Lie to my Kids

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With just one short week until Christmas, my Facebook Newsfeed is full of posts about decorating trees, baking cookies, visiting Santa, the oh-so-naughty Elf on a Shelf, videos of kids singing songs about Rudolph, and in contrast, I’m bombarded with numerous articles and blog posts about why some parents choose to not buy into the world of Christmas Make-Believe. Several friends have also posted about the fact that telling their young children about the mythical world of the North Pole and its crazy cast of characters is akin to lying. And they don’t want to lie to their children.

This got me thinking… I lie to my kids Every. Single. Day. Multiple times a day, in fact. I lie to them all kinds of things. When they ask me how I know they were doing something when I wasn’t even looking at them, I tell them that mommies have secret, hidden eyes on the back of their heads. When they ask me how I cleaned the whole house while they were napping, I tell them that I used my Mommy Magic or that some fairies flew into the house while they were asleep to help me. I tell them that restaurants and stores are closed—when they’re not. That the grocery store was all out of ice cream. That they had enough money in their piggy bank to buy their baby sister the stuffed animal she wanted. I lie to them on purpose. And I lie to them WITH purpose.

I do it because I want my children to believe in magic. I want their young lives—untainted by the nastiness and cruelty of the Real World—to BE MAGICAL. I want them to look upon this world we live in in absolute wonder. I want their imaginations to run wild. I want them to believe that the people, places and things they encounter are filled with amazing possibilities. I want them to grow up believing in miracles. I lie to my children not because I want to frighten them into submission or bribe them into behaving like model citizens, lest they end up on Santa’s Naughty List and receive coals for Christmas. I lie to them to make them laugh, to bring joy into their wonderful little worlds.

I lie to my kids because they are tiny little humans who believe. They believe that Mommy can make the hurt go away with her magical kisses. They believe that Daddy is the strongest person in the world who can fix anything and everything. They believe that our family is the happiest and the funnest family in the whole world. They believe that Mommy and Daddy’s bed is The Safest (and Snuggliest and Best) Place on Earth. They believe in amazing and fantastical things as only children can.

I lie to my children because their childhood is brief. Before long, their sweet voices will be tinged with sarcasm and disinterest as they grow older, experience the world, and become more independent. They’ll become jaded, and things like pushing their own kid-sized shopping cart at the grocery store will bore them. Squeezing our family of five onto one couch for movie night will no longer appeal to them. They’ll soon start to roll their eyes at me when I tell them I have eyes on the back of my head…

The magic and fantasy of childhood is limited, and their experiences in this world—the Real World—are unavoidable, inevitable. Soon, the magic of Christmas will fade. They won’t believe in the Tooth Fairy. They will realize that Mommy’s kisses are just plain kisses and don’t actually heal wounds. My children will stop looking up at me, hanging on every word, their eyes round in wonderment, as I weave tall tales for them. But their memories will be there—memories of being enchanted, of sharing their beautiful imaginations with Mommy and Daddy, and of the magic of childhood.

I know that Santa Claus and reindeers and a giant, magical toy factory in the North Pole aren’t what Christmas is all about, but this moment of childhood wonder and belief is brief. They have the rest of their lives to appreciate the meaning and the spirit of Christmas sans jolly, old man in a red suit. But for now, Santa is magical. And magical is good.


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Free Printable: Love Coupon Book

My husband has always been impossible to shop for. Several years ago, I forced him to put together an Amazon Wish List, so whenever a birthday or holiday rolls around, I go to his wish list and buy him a few things from the list. Not terribly fun or romantic. This year, his wish list is sparse. Only 2 items! One of which is a really expensive computer/network/high-tech item (I don’t even know what it does) that he specifically told me not to buy because he’s not ready to set it all up yet. :-/ Gee… Thanks! So in a sad attempt to make sure that he has SOMETHING under the tree to unwrap Christmas morning, I bought him some socks and underwear.

After some thought though… I decided to make him something fun. Something that I know he’ll get a kick out of. Something unexpected! And since so many of my friends have been talking about how hard it is to shop for their husbands, I’m sharing! :-)

Presenting The Naughty and Nice Coupon Book! It’s pretty self-explanatory. ;-)

Naught and Nice

 

The free printable is a 2-page PDF that includes the two pages pictured above. Just print it out, write in things you’re willing to do for the special person in your life, cut them out, punch holes, tie with a ribbon and VOILA! You’ve got a fun-for-the-both-of-you gift!

Click here to download the FREE Naughty and Nice Coupon Book!

A For Purchase version is available in the delightful. Etsy shop. For $4, download a version that’s got 29 naughty and nice things already written out, plus a full sheet of fill-in-the-blank coupons.

Naught and Nice Coupon Book

Naught and Nice Coupon Book 2


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Making Kimjang Kimchi: A Family Tradition

The beginning of December is a VERY busy time for families in Korea–not because of the upcoming holidays or the rush to buy gifts for family and friends (because strangely enough, Christmas is more of an unmarried couple’s holiday)–but because it’s the time of year to MAKE KIMCHI. Lots and lots of kimchi. Koreans prepare and make enough 김장김치 (kimjang kimchi) to last an entire year. Kimjang kimchi is different from the kimchi you’re probably used to: the stuff you find in restaurants or what’s sold at the grocery story. This is old school kimchi. The kind that was buried underground in kimchi pots. The kind that kimchi refrigerators were created for.

Kimjang kimchi is not for the faint of heart. Imagine the fermented taste of regular kimchi. Then multiply it by 100. You’ve got kimjang kimchi. But it’s the kind of kimchi that’s perfect to eat with grilled pork. It’s fabulous in kimchi jigae (kimchi stew). And if you’ve got fresh tofu, wrap it up in some kimjang kimchi and enjoy!

If you’re lucky enough to enjoy have a taste of homemade kimjang kimchi, then here’s what you should know about how it’s made. Chances are, anywhere from 5-20 women (and men too!) came together to worked on it for days. Often, it’s relatives (sisters in my mom’s case), but since families are now more spread out, friends often set up a schedule and go from home to home to help with the process.

There’s a rather strict schedule to follow. The cabbage has to be harvested before the first hard frost. It has to be cut, washed, salted and rinsed. The seasoning has to be mixed and combined with the prepared cabbage. The kimchi has to be divided and bagged and properly packaged to be placed into kimchi refrigerators. And since younger generations of Koreans don’t have the free days and days off from work, the older generations make enough to package and ship to their children’s families.

Here are my mom, her sisters, and their husbands preparing and transforming 300 heads of cabbage in kimjang kimchi!

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Each halved head of cabbage has to be seasoned. The kimchi mixture is inserted into the layers of the cabbage leaves.

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Oh, and look! My mommy is wearing a hat I crocheted for her! ;-)

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Here’s my uncle stirring a VAT of kimchi seasoning.

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That’s a lot of kimchi seasoning…

And lucky me–I will be receiving my part of this wonderful kimjang kimchi in the mail tomorrow! :-) Will have to take the beer and soda out of my kimchi fridge to make room!

 

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