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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An Introduction to Knitting

Knitting is an incredibly versatile art.  It can be used to create a number of useful objects, such as clothing and household goods.  But the best thing about it is the joy and pleasure it brings to people all around the world. The concept of knitting is very simple, all you do is loop yarn through other loops of yarn.  This simple task can be a great challenge at first, but it is worth conquering. I would have loved to conduct a more hands on teaching experience, but I lack the means to do so. No worries though, I have found some wonderful resources and linked you to them all through out this post. So wether you are alone, or you grabbed a friend to help you learn, I hope you have fun and enjoy this introduction to knitting.

1. Yarn will become your life.

Fibers are so important to knitting. There is a wide variety of them to choose from for a knitting project. If you get hooked on knitting, there is no doubt that you will also get hooked on wool, and alpaca, and cashmere, and linen, and all the glories that yarn has to offer.  You should stay away from cheap acrylic yarn. When you are first starting out you want something that will feel good in your hands and keep you looking forward to working with it. Wool is great for someone just learning. 100% is the best, but if you can only find a wool blend that is ok.  Be sure that it is something you like, in a color you love, and that it feels soft, not itchy.

2. Needles are yarns best friend.

I highly suggest wooden needles for beginners.  They are sturdy, they look and feel great, and they are the least slippery of all needles. If wooden needles are out of your price range, plastic is your next bet. Really try to stay away from metal needles as a beginner, they are very slippery, and you will spend a lot of time flustered over dropped stitches, and holes in your work. Straight or circular needles will work just fine for someone starting out. (Both types are pictured below).

3. A quick note on matching up yarn and needles.

I want to mention how yarn has different weights, or in others words different “sizes”, and a yarn weight needs to be matched to a proper needle size. Vogue Knitting has this great chart that shows you how to pair yarn and needles.

4. Slip Knots and Casting On.

Once you have your supplies (and I hope a nice relaxing cup of tea is a part of those supplies, because you will need it) you will want to learn how to do a slip knot. Vogue also has a decent diagram explaining a slip knot
Now to cast on! There are lots of ways to cast on to your needles.  All of them are important and great to learn. But for a beginner starting with the Long Tailed Cast On will be a good start. It is the most popular and easiest to way to learn. The Purl Bee has a beautiful how-to for it.

5. Knitting that first stitch

Now that you have mastered casting on (it is a very important part of knitting so I hope you really did master it), it is time to move to the actual knitting! Knit Stitch meet New Knitter, New Knitter meet Knit Stitch. If you were frustrated and ready to break your needles from just learning how to cast on, take a breath and a sip of tea.
This video will guide you through everything I just talked about. The teacher is cute and quirky, but she keeps it very simple. She will show you how to knit both English and Continental, which are the two most common styles of knitting. You can find out more about them here. I suggest trying out both, and whatever you find more comfortable stick with it.

The time stamps in the video for when she goes over each subject:

Slip Knot: 1:11-1:50

Cast On: 1:50-3:40

Knit Stitch: 3:40-10:05

As you continue to work row after row of the knit stitch, you will get the stretchy, ribbed material she has at the end of the video.  This is called the garter stitch.  It is the most basic knit stitch.

6. Finishing your beautiful work.

Just like casting on, binding off (or casting off) has many variations, and each one is important. It is used to secure your work when you wish to be finished. The video mentioned above will teach you the easiest and most used binding off method.

The time stamp in the video for when she goes over:

Binding Off: 11:25-12:39

Last but not least, learn to weave in your ends (or tails).  No one likes scraggly little threads of yarn hanging off their work.  Learn to do it the best way you can.  The Purl Bee has a lovely tutorial for truly securing your work.

Okay, now you are knitting. Keep practicing, it gets easier.  It really does.  You will figure out your tension (how tightly you hold your yarn, and how tight the stiches you create are).  You will find the most comfortable way to hold your needles. It all comes together with time.
If you feel confident enough to try out something other then a scarf, you can check out these patterns. All of them are worked flat and in the garter stitch. 

Let me know if you have any questions below and thank you for reading!


Friday, August 22, 2014

Recipe Binder

This post is certainly a ripe off of someone else's idea, but its such a good idea and worked out so well for me that not posting about it just wasn't an option.

I got the idea and instructions over at Clean Mama. She has a great tutorial on how to make this binder along with some great in depth pictures of the process. I just love mine, it looks so pretty, and it so well organized. I took all of her tips and they worked so well. I love my Target binder and I used packaging tape to make the tabs just like she describes, it worked surprisingly well. 

The only thing I did not do was buy her printables for the categories. You can find her printables here. I decided to just use PicMonkey for designing my own dividers and that worked out just fine. Their not as cute as her's, but I didn't have a lot of categories to begin with.

I didn't take any before pictures, but let me assure you that my binder was in need of some serious love. Are your recipes in need of an over haul also? Would you give this a try?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Making Useless Things

Hello everyone!

My name is Gracie, I am Madalyn’s youngest sister.  Firstly, I am a knitter, but I have a deep love for all arts and crafts. I run an Etsy shop called Making Useless ThingsI specialize in unique hand knit accessories of my own design. My aim is to use natural and high quality fibers that feel as good as they look.

My mother is the one who introduced me to knitting, and various other arts and crafts. But knitting is what truly stuck.  I am left handed, so learning to knit was a challenge.  I would sit next to my mom and try to imitate what she was doing, only backwards. I eventually got it though, and here I am today, knitting up a storm, and even designing and writing my own patterns.  Which is something I never expected to happen.

So, why am I here at Home Hearted?
My sister asked me to join her blog and offer you guys a weekly post on knitting! So, I am here to do just that. 
Every week I will be teaching you something about knitting, showing you my knit inspirations, answering any knitting questions you might have, and linking you to lovely patterns. As well as sharing with you what inspires my sister and I to create.
Be sure to check back next week for the first official post on which will be an introduction to knitting!
Looking forward to seeing you all again J

You can follow me, or check out my work at any of the following links:

Instagram: gaquade

Friday, August 15, 2014

Simple Tips for Making Your Return from Vacation Easier

I just recently got back from vacation and before I left I thought that this topic would make a great post idea. But, before I wrote about it I had to try it out. I think that all of these ideas are great, but I must confess that although I did do all of them it still took me two weeks to recover from a one week vacation! I couldn't remember what day it was and I had piles of papers all over my desk (a lot of it had to do with blogging, which is now somewhat under control). I was talking to my mother-in-law who came on the vacation with us and she said she was having some of the same problems, so we just decided that we needed to take a two week vacation instead of one! We just needed more time off that's all! Can anyone sympathize? Well, whether you can or can't I'm sure that these tips will help you make that transition from vacation to back home a little less stressful because I know they worked for me, besides forgetting which day of the week it was!

1.) Before you leave 
Pick up your house before you leave. These were the things I had on my list: laundry, clean sheets, make bed, wipe bathrooms, wash dishes, make up a grocery list. You can make these chores as in-depth or as easy as you want. Try to get at least one load of laundry done before you leave or do all of it! Wash your sheets and make your bed so you have a welcoming place to relax when you come home. Wipe down your bathrooms so you have a clean counter to unpack your toiletries. Clean up your dishes and leave your counters clear for all those snack bags and misc. items of food you know you'll bring home. Write a grocery list for restocking after you get home and so that you have one less thing to think about. And don't forget to water your plants (unless of course you have someone to do it for you!)

 2.) While you’re gone
Shop locally and consciously, don't just buy to buy, I know I'm always tempted to buy things that we would never use at home, boogie boards, cute bathing suit covers, sandals, sunglasses etc. But, if you absolutely can't resist then try buying things that you can leave for other vacationers to use. Our hotel had a room with floats, shells, coolers, umbrellas that were all left from other vacationers and free to use. So, don't burden yourself with more stuff instead use it to bless someone else. We did buy a few things though, we each got a much needed pair of sunglasses, my husbands were from seven years ago, he got them on our honeymoon! We also have a tradition of getting a magnet from wherever we've been, it’s a good reminder of all of the places you've been, my dad did it when we were kids and I wanted to continue that tradition with my family. Also, try to buy locally as much as possible. We found a farmers market and I got two really beautiful hand woven baskets. Last on this list is try to bring home clean laundry. Do your loads the night or day before you leave, it takes a little time away from your last day of vacation, but you feel the benefits of it when you come home.

3.) On your way home
This may be getting a little crazy, but I love to be organized as much as possible, so what I did while my husband was driving was to organize and clean the areas around me. I organized the glove box and other small storage spaces; it really helped me feel productive on the long drive home and reduced the stress of cleaning the car when we got home. Also, make sure that you throw out any trash when you stop to get gas. My husband never forgets to do this and it really helps to keep clutter under control.

4.) When you get home
Try to have a day to recover. This can't always be the case for everyone, but it’s a good goal to have. You have that day to go through your mail, unpack, unwind, go grocery shopping and run any errands you may have. My husband had to go to work the next day and I think that's why I struggled getting back on my feet and kept forgetting what day it was! Try to unpack your suitcase right way too, don't be like Raymond and Debra in Everyone Loves Raymond where they leave Raymond's suitcase unpacked at the bottom of the stairs for weeks and weeks which eventually leads to them having a big argument! We don't want any of that! Another great way to re-leave the stress when you come home is to just order out, now is not the time to scrimp, you'll be too tired to make dinner when you come home unless you have a freezer meal available (I just thought of that now, what a good idea!). This is something I have yet to do, but make a craft with your kids with either something from your vacation (shells, rocks) or something that reminds you of your vacation and the wonderful time that you had together as a family.

Here are some more articles on making this transition smoother!

Here are some craft ideas!

I'd love to know what works for you with this transition and if any of these tips helped you. Also I am totally up for more craft ideas since I haven't made mine yet!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vegetarian Nachos

I'm not sure where I left off last time as far as my health issues go. But, I did have the vertigo rear its ugly head again on Saturday, I woke up with it like last time, but by the afternoon it had tapered off. I'm relieved and thankful to say it has not appeared since, so I'm finally exercising again and trying to get some stuff done around the house that I've had to put off for several weeks. Just now my daughter is playing with this silly putty stuff that I've been wanting to make for months and finally got around to it, it is occupying her very well, you can check out the recipe here.

So, today I wanted to share another recipe from my husband, vegetarian nachos! This was a delicious meal and so inexpensive. I especially enjoyed the extra veggies snuck into the beans, for this he used Patty Pan Squash. I've never used nor heard of it, but it was surprisingly good and complemented the meal.

Vegetarian Nachos


2 Avacados mashed
2 small cloves of garlic mashed
1 tsp of salt
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp of minced cilantro


1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 can of Pinto Beans
1 small onion diced
2 cloves of garlic mashed
1 patty pan squash diced
1 can of tomato sauce
1/2 cup of water
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp oregano


diced tomatoes
shredded lettuce
cheddar cheese
tortilla chips


Mix together the guacamole ingredients in a separate bowl. For the beans heat the oil in a pan and saute the onion, garlic, and squash on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add the spices and continue to saute for one minute. Add the beans, water, tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and season to adjust.

What have you been thinking of the recipes posted so far? I hope your enjoying them, I know I am!

Friday, August 8, 2014

$1 Magnetic Grocery List Clip Board

I put together a magnetic grocery list a while back you can read about it here. I really like it, but its a pain to print the pages, cut them and bind them together every time I run out of them. So, I thought, there has to be an easier way to have a magnetic grocery list. My new favorite store has been the Dollar Store and I had spotted these clip boards there a while back, so I went back for one and put this awesome thing together that literally takes two minutes to put together!


Just hot glue gun the magnets to the back of your clip board and then print one of these lovely printable's November Seven or Tiny Side Kick and clip it to your board!

Since, I haven't been feeling very well, this was the perfect project for me, it got that crafty itch of mine satisfied, got our horribly scratchy, marked up old grocery list organized and made me very happy because I barely had to lift a finger!

What have you done lately that didn't take much effort but was still crafty?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Farm Fresh Pasta Dish

I'm really excited! For a few things, first my vertigo is completely gone, thank you Lord! And secondly, I have big plans for this little blog of mine, not to just expand it, but to make it something that I'm proud of and shows off the talents of my husband. He is an amazing chef even though he doesn't like to call himself one. And I'm super excited to share with you a weekly recipe from our kitchen. Also, I get to borrow my dad's camera which will hopefully help me capture these incredible meals for you in a way that makes them look as amazing as they taste! 

But, that is in the near future, for today I have a farm fresh pasta dish to share with you. It's really simple and can totally be adapted to include whatever meat or veggie you prefer, for example: ground beef and sautéed spinach. We just happened to obtain this tasty sausage from our friends small, but rapidly growing farm, you can check them out here. The large green plant that you see in the picture is called escarole it is a bitter green used mainly in Italian dishes, it is hearty and braises well, you can find it at local farmers markets and it's supposed to be a real nutritional powerhouse.

Meat Sauce

1 lb of sausage
1 medium onion diced
4 garlic cloves sliced
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
2 Tbsp sugar
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh thyme chopped
10 leaves fresh basil chopped
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper


Brown the sausage in a pot on medium high heat till half way cooked. Add onion, garlic and stir to coat with fat. Sweat for 5 minutes. Add tomato product, sugar, bay leaf, 1 cup of water and thyme. Bring to a simmer then reduce to low heat and cook for 20 minutes. Add basil, salt, pepper, taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Escarole & Dates

1 medium onion diced
4 cloves of garlic sliced
1 Tbsp sugar
1 head of escarole chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
10 dates sliced


Heat oil, add onion, garlic and sugar, sweat for 3 minutes. Add escarole, stir and cover with lid reduce to low heat and braise for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add dates season with salt and taste.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and let me know how you like it!

What local food have you used in your meals lately?

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