Tuesday, July 19, 2016

2.75 Mile Jog Thru Lincoln Park!

No matter what the weather, Lincoln Square is always prime location for a jog. Located in Chicago’s north side, this neighborhood is great in terms of terrain and scenery. In total, this run is going to be 2.75 miles, so prepare for a run!

We’ll start off at the corner of Foster Ave and California Ave facing the Lake, east. Enjoy the new condo developments being built on Foster as well as the world-renown Swedish Covenant Hospital. When you reach Lincoln, take a left (this is a great chance to check out the famous Lincoln bars). You’ll notice that the path becomes steeper as you head down Lincoln. But don’t worry because you will be making a right turn on Balmoral. From there take another right at Western. This is the longest leg of the jog, so enjoy the downhill trek down the busy avenue. You will be passing up a fire station, so look out for firemen doing there own jogging!

Then head left when you reach another busy city, Lawrence. We’re almost done! When you reach Damen, take a left and you should pass Winnemac Park (you could even cut through the park if you want). Upon reaching Foster, turn right and end at Ravenswood. This route is best taken during the day, but since most of it is on busy streets, night-jogging can prove to be fun!

Tags:2.75 Mile Jog Thru Lincoln Park!

25th Anniversary Candy Favors

You just can’t go wrong when you give out candy as the party favors for a birthday, holiday or anniversary. Most everyone loves sweets and candy is right at the top of that list. When the occasion is a really special one, like a 25 th wedding anniversary, that calls for the party favor candy to be exceptional. Sure, you can look online and find plenty of places which feature candy made especially for the silver anniversary – or you can go to your nearest craft store and make those specialty candies yourself – for a fraction of the cost.

When you use stickers and scrapbook papers you can turn most any candy into a 25 th anniversary candy. Even stickers from an office supply store can be used to make the special sweets. Print stickers yourself or just use number stickers. Since the 25 th anniversary is the silver one look for silver stickers or labels, or print a silver background on your homemade stickers. Another choice is to use clear labels or stickers and print a silver “50” on those.

Candy bars can be covered with fancy scrapbook paper which has a wedding theme or a silver and white design. Simply cut the paper to the size of the bar, wrap it around, and tape it on the bottom. You can enhance the look by placing a purchased or designed, “25” sticker on the front of the candy bar.

Some candies, like Hershey’s Kisses, need a different type of anniversary label. For these, make or buy round stickers with the silver “25” on them. To make your own without a printer, purchase large dot labels, stick one on the bottom of each candy, then place a small “2” and a “5” sticker on the dot.

Bagged candies, like M&M’s, can be made into anniversary candies by using an oval or rectangular sticker. A rectangular sticker can also be used to make a cover for the front of clear-box mints.

There are no limits to the different designs you can create on your computer, but when you shop for pre-made stickers, you’ll be surprised at how many different types you’ll find at a craft store. Stickers featuring calligraphy lettering, balloons letters, stickers with fanciful borders, colored stickers and clear stickers are just some of the choices you have when creating the 25 th anniversary candies. With just an ordinary sticker you can turn almost any type of candy into special candies to give your guests at the party.

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27 Mittens: Free Crochet Patterns for Adults and Children

Mittens are fun and easy to make. They can be very plain or jazzed up with popcorn stitches and cables. They don’t take a lot of yarn to work up and are quite do-able, even for a beginner. I’ve classified them according to ease of workability, style and sized for kids.


Bernat has one pattern with 2 versions. These are easy crocheted mittens you can make with stripes or solid in colors to match your winter ensemble.On the solid version, you can decorate it with a crocheted leaf. The yarn used is Softee Chunky.


Beverly A. Qualheim is a humanitarian. Her website Bev’s Country Cottage is a testament to her devotion to her community. These mittens are worked in an unusual method. You crochet the mitten vertically then sew up the sides. There are plenty of photos to guide you.


These mittens have a long cuff to keep out the cold. This pattern came from the mind of April Draven, one of the internets creative designers. The construction of these mitten comes in two parts. First you make the part that goes over your fingers, then you make the little thumb covering. Put them together and Voila! A pair of beautiful mittens!


There is a variation for Bella’s Mitten from Twilight here:


If you can’t make up your mind, Susan from Crochet and Knitting has come up with a mitten that turns into a fingerless glove. She also has photos of what others have done with her pattern and lots of helpful hints sprinkled throughout.


These fun crocheted mittens by Serena Chu of Chill ‘N Oggin, will keep your hands toasty on the coldest of days. Made out of 100% merino wool with a nice stretch cuff, it has a quirky circle embellishment design will surely turn heads. These are sized for a small hand, but I am sure they can be enlarged with a change of hook and yarn.


With Accessories

Get more bang for you buck with these designs.

In addition to mittens, make a matching scarf. Brought to you by the Bernat Yarn Company, they’re quickly made with the Softee Chunky yarn.


TLC Essentials Yarn is a nice soft yarn with a great color selection. I use it all the time. Not only do you get the mittens, but a scarf and hat to match!



Written by Darlisa Riggs, and using Yak yarn (that’s right, Yak!), she has an interesting technique of placing “snow stitches” sprinkled throughout. Theses stitches are just a variation of the single crochet. You can use her placement for them, place them randomly yourself, or just leave them out. It’s up to you. She also has a modified variation that will give you a fingerless mitten. She took lots of photos for your ease of crocheting. By the way, you can use other yarns besides yak!


Posted by Lyn of Sheperd’s Crook, these are called Friendship Mittens are they are crocheted using the extended single crochet with a cable worked down the center. Offered in two yarn weights, your friends will love them


These mittens are texturized with a mock popcorn stitch. Here is the secret, the treble stitch is very long and the single stitch is very short. Put them together and you a wonderfully bumpy surface that begs to be played with. This is an original pattern from Susan at Crochet and Knitting.


It’s all in the yarn for this next set of mittens. They look like they were made of fur but it’s just the yarn doing all the talking. If you can’t find this brand of yarn called Blush in your area, any fuzzy yarn will do.


Worked in single crochet with three colors of sport weight wool, the construction is a bit unusual. Instead of working from the fingers downward, your crochet an oval, placing single crochet stitches on the row below to give it a spiked effect. There are close-up photos to help you.



If you long for the old-fashioned days of the 1950’s try these patterns on for size.

Using the double crochet stitch, you can either make the mittens or the gloves. This pattern is a clickable scan from an old, old book.


These are straight out the Ozzie and Harriet Show! Make mittens for the whole family then go out and have a good old-fashioned snowball fight!


With a criss-cross decoration on top and made with sport weight wool, the sizing is for kids but just change the yarn to worsted and you have a larger pair. These are also made with an oval start.



Thumbless Mittens

Babies must be a menace to themselves because they need to have they’re hands wrapped up in little boxing gloves! OK!, I’m only kidding but there are a number of thumbless mittens out there to protect newborns from scratching themselves. Due to the minimal amount of yarn used they are also lightening quick to make.

One my favorite designers is the prolific Suzetta of Suzie’s Yarnie Stuff. She just has a knack for coming up with just the right pattern in just the right yarn. Here she has done the Thumbless in three different weights of yarn.




Karen’s Variety is a website with vintage patterns. Here is an infant’s mitten with a knot stitch cuff. If you don’t like the knot stitch, just work a row of single crochet around them. They’re also worked in an oval form.


Theresa Richardson has a simple pattern for the thumbless mitt using baby yarn. There is also a video if you are a visual person.


Lisa, from Crochet N More actually named her project Baby Scratch Mitts, so there is no confusion for which they are used. Made from Baby Bernat, I think you could get a dozen from one skein.


Barbara Summers takes one pattern and does all kind of stripes and colors blocks for her take on a mitten without a thumb. Use a soft baby weight yarn.


If you prefer to use worsted weight yarn and a bigger hook, check out the mitts that Kelly from Bella Bambina makes. She likes to donate these to her favorite charity.



Great big Santa Clause faces are featured on these darling holiday mittens. You will need wiggle eyes and buttons, but perhaps if you don’t want to go that route, you can crochet the features.


This is the photo:


Playful versions from Karen’s Variety are the Fringe or Animal mittens. Latch hook some cut yarn or sew on a couple of eyes and the kids will be entertained for hours as they put on a puppet show with their new warmers.


Here, from All Free Crafts are classic crocheted mittens in a range of children’s and women’s sizes are so easy to make, you’ll want to make a pair for all the kids and ladies in your family.


If you have a boy or a girl ages three to five, these mittens should fit them. These cuties are designed by Renee Blixt. They can be completed in an evening because they are made with worsted weight yarn, , which is great since kids are always losing there mittens, like the three little kittens!


Melissa Mall who owns Inner Child Crochet has crocheted a pair of brightly colored mittens to fit the hands of her 2 ½ year old son. She hopes that you will donate a pair to a child that is cold.


Susan from Crochet and Knitting has figured out how to take her Popcorn stitch mittens for adults and translate them into a mini-me version.


COATS & CLARK, P.O. Box 12229, Greenville, SC, 29612-0229, granted permission to use this free leaflet for a hat with matching mittens. Made from easy to find and easy on the purse Red Heart Yarn, these are suitable for an older child.


Please visit my slideshow:


Tags:27 Mittens: Free Crochet Patterns for Adults and Children

26 Lunch Ideas for Toddlers

Serving a variety of healthy foods is important for creating a lifetime of good eating habits for your toddler. Fixing a fun and nutritious lunch for your toddler doesn’t have to be a chore. Several of these meal ideas are dishes that your toddler can help prepare, which often increases their willingness to try the finished product. Many can be made ahead of time and froze, so you don’t have to sacrifice nutrition for speed and simplicity. Mix and match these ideas to create a fun and healthy lunch for your toddler.

1) Quesadillas

This is a great way to use up leftover beef or chicken. Beans and rice are delicious, too. Use a rolling pizza cutter to easily cut the quesadilla into bite size pieces for your toddler.

2) Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup freezes well, so make a big batch ahead of time and freeze it in lunch-size portions. Just as fast as canned soup, but your homemade soup will be so much tastier!

3) Parmesan Pasta

Have leftover spaghetti noodles? Warm them up, then toss with a little bit of butter or olive oil and frozen peas. Shred fresh parmesan over the dish.

4) Pizza Bread

Roll out a package of refrigerated pizza dough. Sprinkle mozzarella and pizza toppings, such as mushrooms and pepperoni, over the dough, then roll it up. Bake as directed on package. Cut into thin slices and serve with a small dish of pizza sauce for dipping. If you don’t have any jarred pizza sauce, mix some garlic, basil, and oregano into canned tomato sauce.

5) Cottage Cheese and Fruit

One cup of cottage cheese provides your toddler with one third of the daily recommended amount of calcium. Serve with slices of pears or peaches to make it more colorful.

6) Snack Lunch

Make your own snack-style lunch with leftover roast chicken or turkey cut into chunks, cheese cubes, and wheat crackers. Hard boiled eggs, grapes, olives, and other small finger foods are fun additions to this snack lunch.

7) Fruit and Yogurt Dip

Toddlers love to dip. Serve any combination of fruits such as apple slices, strawberries, melon chunks, pears, and bananas with a little vanilla yogurt. Sprinkle some granola or even a small dusting of cake sprinkles on the yogurt to make it more visually appealing.

8) Chicken or Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Mix tuna or shredded chicken with a little bit of mayo, finely chopped onion and celery, and a sprinkling of black pepper. Serve on whole wheat bread with a pickle on the side.

9)Mac and Cheese

Dress up this old favorite with some steamed broccoli and ham mixed in.

10) Beef Stew

Like chicken noodle soup, beef stew can be made ahead of time and frozen in lunch size portions. Use beef broth for a base, then add in veggies such as carrots, celery, and corn. If you’re going to freeze it, don’t use potatoes as their texture changes when frozen. Barley is a great whole grain add-in that is soft and small for toddlers to handle.

11) Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Serve sliced cucumbers and diced tomatoes tossed with a little bit of vinegar or italian dressing.

12) Meatloaf Minis

Use your favorite recipe for meatloaf, but instead of baking in a loaf pan, use a muffin tin to make toddler-size servings. Fill each muffin space halfway with your meatloaf mixture, add a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, then add more meatloaf mixture on top. Bake until cooked through, and freeze extras for future lunches.

13) Personal Pizzas

Using pita pockets, english muffins or hoagie rolls for the crust, spread a little tomato sauce on and then hand over the personal pizza to your toddler. Provide pizza toppings such as mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, green peppers, olives, mushrooms, onion, pepperoni and let your toddler top the pizza on their own. Toast the personal pizza in your toaster oven or regular oven.

14) Ham and Broccoli Pockets

Lay out a square of refrigerated croissant dough. Top one of the square with a mixture of sliced ham, broccoli, and shredded cheddar cheese. Fold over and pinch the sides shut. Bake until croissant dough is cooked through and cheese is melted.

15) Peanut Butter Dippers

Let your toddler dip various finger foods into peanut butter. Suggestions: apple slices, carrot sticks, bananas, and pretzels.

16) Chicken Nuggets and Sweet Potato Fries

Homemade or from the freezer section, chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries are always a big hit with toddlers.

17) Brunch

Who says that pancakes are only for breakfast? Mix and match breakfast foods such as pancakes, waffles, french toast, fruit salad, sausage, bacon, and eggs to make a quick lunch for your toddler.

18) Ham Rolls

Lay out a slice of ham lunch meat. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on, then top with a pickle spear. Roll up and secure with a toothpick.

19) Mini Bagels

Mini bagels are the perfect size for toddlers. You can buy all kinds of varieties, such as whole wheat or cinnamon raisin. Top with your favorite nut butter or cream cheese, or even make a miniature sandwich out of it. Serve with a cup of applesauce on the side.

20) Fried Rice

Make a healthier version of this take out favorite. Saute whatever veggies you have on hand, such as carrots, mushrooms, or peas, with a little bit of ginger. Scramble an egg in a separate pan, then toss in with the veggies. Add in cooked rice (cold, leftover rice is best). Toss in a little soy sauce or sesame oil, and serve.

21) Grilled Cheese

Another lunch favorite. To make this classic healthier, use whole wheat bread and quality cheese. 1-2 year olds need fats for healthy brain development, but if you don’t want to use butter to grill the sandwich, try spraying the pan with a little bit of cooking spray. A slice of tomato on a grilled cheese sandwich is yummy, too.

22) Spaghetti

Spaghetti is a dinner favorite, but in reality it is just as fast as boxed macaroni and cheese. Use jarred sauce or make your own.

23) Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Serve on soft whole wheat bread. Add jelly, thinly sliced apples, a touch of honey, or banana to dress it up. You can also cut sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters to make them more visually appealing to your toddler.

24) Turkey Roll Ups

Spread cream cheese lightly on a tortilla. Layer on a slice of turkey lunch meat and piece of lettuce, then roll up. Serve rolled up, or cut it into medallions. This is easy enough that your toddler can help you build it.

25) Meatballs

Mix ground beef or turkey with finely diced onion, bread or cracker crumbs, an egg, and your favorite seasonings. Roll into small balls and then bake until cooked through. These can be made ahead of time and frozen in small portions for a quick lunch. Serve on their own, with a helping of spaghetti, or even on the personal pizzas.

26) Mini Chicken Pot Pies

Another lunch idea that can be made ahead of time and frozen. Make a chicken “gravy” by melting butter in a sauce pan, then stirring in chicken broth, milk, flour, and a sprinkle black pepper. Make your own pie crust or use a store bought one. Roll out the pie crust, then cut large circles out with a glass or cup. Fill a muffin tin with the pie crust circles. In each pie, put a few chunks of cooked chicken, some veggies (carrots and peas are especially delicious in pot pie), and a spoonful of the gravy you made. Top with another pie crust circle, then bake in the oven until pie crusts are cooked through.


Tags:26 Lunch Ideas for Toddlers

$2500 in 25 Days Using Household Trash: Article #1 Wee Garden

From the Book $2500 in 25 Days Using Household Trash

Project #1 Wee Indoor Garden

1.Cut one four inch length of one 12 pack sized soda box.

2. Carefully cut the tops from 4 soda cans using sharp scissors.

3. Paint the cans and box brown or any neutral “earth color”.

4. Using your artistic talent or a computer make a label for each can representing the seeds to be used for each can and a label for the front of your garden box.

5. Include potting soil watering directions, and five seeds for each can. (Radishes, lettuce, onions, chives, basil and parsley all grow well in kitchen windows.)

6. Tag and sell for $5.00 at garage sales, craft sales, church bazaars, or flea markets.

Make 22, (2 extra to pay for your space at the flea market) there is your $100 dollars for the day!

Tags:$2500 in 25 Days Using Household Trash: Article #1 Wee Garden

27 Dresses: A Nice, Predictable Film

Katherine Heigl stars as Jane in the rated PG romantic comedy 27 Dresses. Jane has been a bridesmaid 27 times but has never been the bride. She’s in love with her boss, George (played by Edward Burns), but he barely notices her, even after years of When Jane’s sister breezes into town and snatches up George, poor Jane gets lined up for her 28th dress.

Jane has been working for George for years. Getting his coffee, fetching his burritos, doing whatever it took to get his attention, but all she got was appreciation. While she’s been waiting for her boss to notice her, she’s watched 27 of her friends get married and she has the bridesmaid dresses to prove it. She’s prepared to keep living this existence until George finally opens his eyes or she dies of old age. At least that was her plan until her younger sister, Tess showed up.

Tess and George hit it off immediately and the wedding bells soon start ringing. The hits just keep coming as the happy pair sign Jane up to help plan their wedding, since she has so much experience in that area. While this is going on, Jane attracts the attention of Kevin (played by James Marsden). Kevin is the somewhat jaded writer of a wedding column in the local paper and thinks Jane’s story could be his ticket out of his terrible job and into a serious writing gig.

At first, Jane and Kevin find themselves continually at odds, especially over their idea of relationships. As the find themselves spending more time together, their opinions of each other begin to change and the beginnings of something more develop. Will Jane ever get over her feelings for George or will she forever be a bridesmaid?

Romantic comedies seem to follow a fairly routine formula and 27 Dresses is no exception. It has all the required touching moments and funny ones but lacks spontaneity and surprise. This movie is technically sound and there isn’t anything wrong with it. There really isn’t anything about this movie that makes it stand out from any other romantic comedy, either. It follows the standard pattern of the starry-eyed girl in love with the guy who doesn’t notice her. Add in the male friend who’s in love with the girl and we have a formula that has been used for decades.

Heigl and the rest of the cast do a fine job and the script provides all the necessary ingredients for a good date movie. If you like romantic comedies, you’ll probably enjoy this nice, if predictable, film. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something with anything close to a plot twist or originality, you’ll find 27 Dresses a disappointment.

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