Easy as Pie Crochet Pumpkin


What’s a crafter to do in the fall? Make pumpkins, of course!

I crocheted this pumpkin from a class I took at The Artful Yarn in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. The pattern is from Three Rustic Pumpkins by MegMade With Love. If you can crochet a hat, you can make this!


Super Bulky Yarn (can also be made with jute twine)
Size N (9.0 mm) Crochet Hook
Darning Needle
Small Stick
Hot Glue Gun

Time required: about 2 hours or less.
Level: Advanced Beginner

This pattern can easily be adapted into an apple, so if you need a teacher gift for your kids, this could  be a go-to item.

Happy crafting!



Check Your Spices Before the Holidays!

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s time to check your spices to make sure they are still filled with flavor. I found the old cloves bottle on the left and decided it was time to get a new bottle (on the right).

Spices front side

Here are some suggestions on how to determine if your spices are worth keeping:

Sniff Test

If your spices don’t smell as strong as you think they should, replace them. I just tossed a bottle of coriander because it had absolutely no scent.

Expiration Date

Spices keep their full flavor for 6 months to 2 years. If the date on the bottom of the spice bottle is long gone, you know it’s time to refresh. And if there is no date on the bottom (like the bottle on the left), how old is it? Who knows?

For easy reference, I keep this 2014 ad from McCormick Spices (@mccormickspices) taped to the inside of my cupboard. It’s a great reference on spice expiration dates!

Spice Exp Dates

Packaging & Info Change

If you actually read the package and realize you’ve had it so long that there is no web site or phone number for customer service (see the bottle on the left, below), then it’s definitely time to pitch it!

Spices Back side

And if all else fails, if you can’t remember the last time you used it, toss it! (Next time, write the date you opened it on the label.)

The best recipes start with fresh ingredients and fragrant spices. Start with great basics and you’ll be well on your way. Happy Thanksgiving!

Cable Knit Hat Project

Recently, I needed a small project with a little challenge, so I offered to make a hat for a family friend who runs. Out of three possible types of patterns, he chose the cable knit hat in orange, his school color.

Hat finished

The pattern’s name is “Lucky 7 Hat” because there are 7 cables across and 7 cables from top to bottom. I hope it helps him run his best!

The pattern is available on Revelry.com.

The hat is knit on size 7 circular needles (from Knit Picks) with worsted weight acrylic yarn from Red Heart, available at most major craft stores.


This is a fun hat to make, and I love the star burst pattern on the top!

Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you!

Creative Cabin Kitsch

Or “How to Decorate on a Pull String”

On my family’s recent trip to upstate New York, we stayed in a log cabin in the town of  Tupper Lake, in the heart of the Adirondacks. This cabin had everything you would need on a trip filled with lake activities, mountain hiking, and exploring. It also had a few surprises that you wouldn’t expect in a cabin.

The family that owns the cabin must entertain a lot, and have a great sense of humor. They had plenty of room for friends and family. How else can you explain their choice of lights in the kitchen?

Cabin Light Cheese Grater

Yes, those are box graters used for shredding everything from cheese to zucchini!

Apparently, this is a thing online.

But wait – there’s more! There is also a coordinating “chandelier”.

Cabin Light with Piano

It looks like an Ikea utensil holder with metal pull strings hanging down. While I couldn’t find an exact match online, I did find a site that shows other great lights made out of  kitchen items here. Now that is recycling taken to the next level!

Don’t Un-sell Your Work!

Your Work is Better Than You Think It Is.

Have you ever created something that looked great but downplayed its quality when someone complimented you on it? For example, you may hear, “What a great quiche you made!”

My first attempt at making quiche. Is this how it should look? Sure!

Then you start to say, “Thanks, but I realized I forgot to (whatever) and it came out too…”

Essentially, you’re “un-selling” your work. But what you don’t realize is that if you hadn’t said anything, they wouldn’t have known the difference.

Consider it this way:

Mistake? Or Product Feature?

That’s right – the art of “positioning” your creations is in your hands (literally), and your mind. You control what you tell people about it, which in turn shapes their opinion of the work. You can “spin” it however you want.

I Spy…

For example, looking at these hand-made hats and scarves, can you tell which one(s) had problems with the pattern? The wrong type of yarn? Came out too big or too small?

Hats & Scarfs

In their own way, all of these were perfect. Any errors in construction were minor and actually gave them more personality. In fact, they were all given to a charity. The goal was to make something people can use and feel good wearing.

Perfection or Reality?

So, you may have your own opinion of your work. But others won’t see the flaws. They’ll see the end result of your creativity and know-how. It’s perfect in their eyes.


Easy Shrimp Paella!

Last summer I became interested in finding an easy paella recipe. I was inspired by the dish being a one-pot wonder with new and different flavors. I found the following recipe in  Cooking Light magazine: Shortcut Shrimp Paella

Photo: Jennifer Causey

The great thing about it is its versatility: you can use raw or pre-cooked shrimp, pre-cooked chicken seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and almost any vegetables that your family likes.

The important thing is to use colorful vegetables to add visual appeal and nutrient content.

Another benefit: by making it on the stovetop, you won’t heat up your kitchen. It’s a great summertime meal!

Easy Sewing Projects


Ever feel that you just want to create something that gives you a sense of accomplishment? That’s one of the reasons why I sew. I don’t sew a lot. However, I find projects that are not hard to do, and have some benefit.

  • Project 1: Tissue Pack Covers

For example, I made some tissue pack covers that have a key chain loop for my sister’s preschool class. Some of the kids have constantly runny noses, and they can carry the tissue packs with them when they go outside. You can find the instructions here: Pocket Tissue Pack Cover

The fabric is laminated cotton, the water resistant fabric used in diaper covers.


  • Project 2: Aprons

More recently I’ve made some aprons. I found the pattern on Pinterest (Adjustable Unisex Apron). Using the heavier cotton household fabric, this project has a big bang for the buck. Plus there are all sorts of patterned fabric available.


Note to self: Patterns hide the mess that comes with cooking! Solid colors do not hide stains well.

  • Materials

All materials for these projects were found in-store at Joann Stores.

Want more ideas for easy projects? Let me know. I have a few more that weren’t featured on this page.