Calling all beginning crocheters: Make your first throw with this easy pattern!

afghan_vanilla-throw1This pretty crocheted throw with soft, fluffy border is wonderful to throw around your shoulders while relaxing on the couch. It would also make a lovely baby blanket gift. This is an easy pattern that allows beginners to practice working with v-stitches, as well as combining a chunky yarn with worsted weight. 

VANILLA VEE THROW

Materials:

  • Lion Brand’s Pound of Love yarn in Antique White (A);
    one ball of Loops & Threads Country Loom yarn in Warm Cream (B)
  • 9 mm hook

V-stitch (v-st): (dc, ch 1, dc) in same space

How to HDC (half double crochet): http://www.redheart.com/learn/articles/how-half-double-crochet

How to DC (double crochet): http://www.redheart.com/learn/articles/how-double-crochet

How to attach a different colour of yarn: http://www.redheart.com/learn/articles/how-join-new-yarn-crochet

afghan_vanilla-throw2Throw Pattern:

Starting with yarn (A), ch 101.

Row 1: dc in 5th ch from hook, ch 1, dc again in same ch (beginning v-st made); *sk next 2 ch; (dc, ch 1, dc) in next ch; repeat from * across to last 2 ch; sk next ch; dc in last ch. Turn.

Row 2: Ch 3 (counts as dc); (dc, ch 1, dc) in ch-1 space of each v-st across; dc in top of turning chain.

Row 3-58: Repeat Row 2. Fasten off.

Row 59: Attach yarn (B); create a border around entire piece with 1 hdc in each sp around and 3 hdc in each of the four corners. Fasten off.

Row 60: Attach yarn (A), dc in each hdc around, with 3 dc in each of the four corners; turn.

Row 61-63: Repeat Row 60. Fasten off.

Row 64-67: Attach yarn (B), hdc in each dc around, with 3 hdc in each of the four corners; turn.

Row 68: To finish off, sc in each hdc around. Fasten off and weave in ends.

(To make this throw larger, just add more rows to each (A) and (B) section.)

Beginners can check out the Red Heart site for everything you want to know about How To Crochet: http://www.redheart.com/learn-to-crochet

 

TV hasn’t been this much fun since the 80s… You’ve just gotta watch Suits!

My full-blown addiction began with a bit of curiosity about Meghan Markle. You know—the lucky girl who, out of the millions of girls in this world, just happened to be the one to capture Prince Harry’s heart. She’s not old-money blueblood or even an English rose, but an American actress with a role in a TV series called Suits—a TV series that just happens to be filmed in my corner of the world…Toronto.

 

As a person who tries to avoid wasting precious time in front of a television (there’s no room in my life for any of that trite reality crap that the networks can’t seem to be able to think beyond), I rarely watch anything but documentaries, stand-up comics, and movies on Netflix.

A few weeks ago while browsing around the public library, I noticed a copy of the Season Five DVD of Suits. I picked it up, read the description on the back, and thought that maybe if we had nothing better to do on Friday night, I’d talk Paul into checking out the first episode of Season One on Netflix. Again, I was more drawn to having a look at this girl who had bagged Prince Harry than I was to watching a show that I expected would put me into snooze mode.

 

Wrong! Snooze we did not. After only a few weeks, we just finished Season Five. Suits is crack! We are hooked! We barely swallowed our dinner before racing to the TV to gobble another episode for dessert.

 

I was addicted to L.A. Law in the late 80s and early 90s, and Suits is my new L.A. Law. No reality crap here—just fresh legal eagle drama served with a good dollop of humor and plenty of eye candy!NUP_149295_0300.jpg

The main character, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) is not only the coolest guy on the planet (commitment issues? who cares!), he is also the eye candy of all eye candy. His sidekick, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is the smartest guy on earth and eye candy #2. Then there’s Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman) whose facial expressions and slimy antics add all the laughs. The ladies are great too: head honcho Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), secretary extraordinaire Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty), and last but not least, paralegal darling Rachel Zane played by Meghan Markle.harvey-mike-louis

The writing on this show is great. The acting is superb. The dialogue is so clever and quick, we are captivated from the moment we tune in until the credits roll. What surprises me most is that this show hasn’t had tons more press.

The only hokey thing about the show is that the law offices are supposedly based in New York City (thus all of the aerial shots of NYC featured at the start of many episodes), yet viewers familiar with Toronto will easily be able to identify a variety of landmarks in the outdoor shots. Obviously, they shoot the show in Toronto because it’s cheaper, but the network that produces it is American, therefore the NYC storyline. But, hey, I can overlook that, since it’s one of the most entertaining series on TV today, in my books.

As for Meghan Markle…if she’s really as sweet as her character Rachel, then it’s absolutely no surprise that Prince Harry has fallen in love with her.

So—now we’ve finished Season Five. Season Six isn’t yet on Netflix, but I imagine we’ll be able to stream it somehow to our TV. It was recently in the news that USA Network renewed Suits for a seventh season, to begin shooting this spring.

 

For now, it ain’t over till it’s over, and I can barely wait to begin a marathon weekend of Season Six!

Check out these promo video clips:

Season 1 Promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOi7_d3GOFI

Season 2 Promo: http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2909512217

Season 3 Promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcHx4UCqQa8

Season 4 Promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCaYiGQzigo

How creative are you?

I was reading an article the other day about creativity and the personality traits of creative people, and it brought on one of those “Aha!” moments—it described me to a tee, as well as all the other writers I know. I think it would be rare to find a writer who isn’t a creative type—think of all the entertaining stories in this world we’ve read or the articles that have inspired us or taught us something we hadn’t already realized.

CreativityAre you a creative type? Read on and see if you identify with these traits:

  1. Creative people are intuitive. We have powerful instincts and are attentive to them, even when logic tries to tell us we’re wrong. Our intuitive nature is necessary to the type of work we do, because it helps us seek out and acknowledge our own truths rather than accepting what we’re told to believe. We feel a driving need to share the truths we discover by writing about them.
  1. Creative people have a directed purpose—a destiny that must be followed. We eat, sleep and breathe our passions. Without them, we would feel unfulfilled. We have a vision and, by George, we cannot rest easy until the entire world knows about it. And then… we have another vision. And another. Our only release is death. Maybe?
  1. bird-with-big-hair-copyCreative people are unconventional and won’t hesitate to open our minds to the most irrational of thoughts. We have a hard time conforming to “you should” and “you’re supposed to.” It’s not that we’re trying to be difficult, it’s that we’re bombarded with ideas that make us question why things have to be the way they are. We have a need to walk the path that deviates—“just to see what happens.” When we hear a different beat, it piques our curiosity.
  1. Creative people can see the big picture from many different angles. We visualize what isn’t yet there and we see infinite possibilities. We imagine a lot. And explore. And play with. We’re known to frequently stumble upon unique uses for ordinary things because we’re never content with the first draft of anything. Our imagination is as borderless as our universe. We love, love, love to dream.
  1. sense-of-humorCreative people have a great sense of humor. We like to seek out the fun in everything we do. We never did leave the “play” part of our childhoods behind. Because we look at things from so many different angles, it’s easy for us to see all of the humor in life. Many of us think our own jokes are uproariously funny, and have no idea why the rest of the room isn’t laughing too. (Ha!)
  1. Creative people are not motivated by financial rewards. Of course, if our passions generate money—bonus! But even if they don’t, our mission is still GO. We are rewarded emotionally and spiritually when we do what we love, and there is no price tag on that.
  1. feelings-and-emotionsCreative people are hyper-sensitive to feelings and emotions. We feel very deeply; we allow our feelings to guide us and we have a need to translate those feelings into words or art or what have you. When we’re happy, we’re HAPPY! When we’re sad, we’re SAD. When fresh ideas nuke our brains, we erupt into fits of manic glee and then we’re off—immersed in yet another thrilling new project.
  1. differentCreative people are not threatened by anything that’s “different.” Original concepts delight us. Unique intrigues us. We are extra-motivated when we see any of our fellow creatives cracking through the barriers. Different is the secret password that opens doors to all things possible.
  1. Creative people are independent. We don’t like to be told what to do. We do our best work when we have freedom to express our ideas in all their crazy glory. Try hemming us in and we’ll fold faster than a bad hand of cards. You want proof of this? Just observe the creative student whose teacher insists that they NOT color outside of the lines!
  1. Creative people love to learn. Learning something new—whether it’s a hobby or an informative topic in a magazine—stimulates our idea fountain and gives us something different to chew on. We source fresh ideas while we learn—and we pursue new opportunities to learn like vampires on the prowl for blood banks.

yellow-flowers-in-rocks-copyCreative people bring something extra special to the table of life. A beautiful painting, a thought-provoking story, a delightful stage production, a captivating song, a mesmerizing choreography, a remarkable invention… creativity brings a feel-good glow to daily living. When doors to creativity open, we step into a beautiful otherworld that has no borders, a place where we can be free to discover all the possibilities.

How to like exercise, believe it or not

As is evidenced in my New Year’s Resolutions post, I’ve been fighting to stick to an exercise routine for the better part of my life, while the Demons of Sedentary cackle in my face as they pat down a fluffy couch in front of the TV for me to lounge on.

healthy-person-woman-sportJoin the gym. Avoid the gym. Do 30 walking lunges. Take 30 steps toward the instructor and lunge at his throat. Get moving. Screw moving. Year in. Year out.

At 58, I’m SO done with this tug of war.

It was a tug of war because exercise was always about the goal of looking hot. Exercise to be skinny. Exercise to banish cellulite. Exercise to sculpt long, lean legs. Exercise to show off bikini abs instead of having to hide your gut in a suit that looks like a body bag from the county coroner’s office.core-exercise

Joining the age 55-60 club changed my life on so many levels. When they say, “you’re not getting older, you’re getting better,” what they should be saying is, “you are getting older, but that’s a gift because you’re also getting smarter.” Suddenly, I don’t give a rat’s ass whether or not I look hot. What I desperately care about is doing my best to remain on this earth for many, many more years while enjoying the best of health, being able to fend off the aches and pains that so many in my age group and older have to deal with on a daily basis, being here to watch my future grandchildren grow up and being able to roll up my sleeves and play with them without pulling something.

The kind of exercise I need to do to be hot, involves a pricey gym membership, using machines that I don’t really enjoy using, working with an instructor who’s going to force me to do stuff I hate doing, joining classes where everyone moves like professional dancers while I stumble over my feet like an idiot. Never liked it. Don’t like it now. Will never like it. Ever.

BUT. I’ve discovered the kind of exercise that rewards me with the health benefits I need to extend my life, sleep well, raise my serotonin levels, strengthen my lungs and heart, burn some calories, grease my joints and muscles, and give me an overall feeling of well-being.

walking-1449015412a6dIt’s called walking. And I don’t mean going for an afternoon stroll through the park.

Since last fall, every single day, no matter what the weather is like, I dress appropriately, hook on my Sony Walkman that’s loaded with 800 of my favorite tunes, and I walk briskly for 45 minutes or so. I try to keep pace with the beat of the music, which gives my heart and lungs an excellent workout, and gets the blood flowing. The nicest bonus is that it’s not just about the exercise. I’ve also discovered the joys of being “in the moment.” While I walk, I’m also absorbing nature’s gifts—flower gardens and trees, blue skies and sunshine, rain pattering against my hood. I’ve never appreciated the seasons more since I’ve started walking with all of them.

I’ve also never felt better. Once I’d gotten into the habit of going every day without fail, I’ve actually begun to crave this feel-good midday break, and look forward to hearing the tunes that are up next on my Walkman.

The key here is that taking a brisk walk while listening to music is the one activity that I really enjoy. I’m not pushing myself to do a daily workout that I really don’t feel like doing. I’m doing something that makes me feel good on several different levels and that I look forward to doing. Am I going to look like Heidi Klum a year from now? I’ve never looked like Heidi Klum and I never will. But I’d say that I look pretty damn good enough for my age, and that’s good enough for me.

If I can live a good, healthy life in the years ahead by choosing to participate in an activity that I enjoy, and that helps make me a happier person—well that’s what I’d call hot.

hoodie-scarfA CROCHETED HOODIE PATTERN FOR WINTER WALKERS

My daily exercise walk has made me realize that I actually prefer walking in the winter months, a time of year that I used to despise. And why is that? Because of the awesome hoodie scarf that I crocheted to keep me as warm as a mug of hot cocoa with melted marshmallows.

It’s easy enough for a beginner to make, and if you use a soft, bulky yarn, it will keep you warm in any weather. Here’s the pattern:

bear-in-hoodieMy Warm & Fuzzy Hoodie Scarf

Approx. 8″ x 80″

3 balls of soft, chunky yarn; 6.5 mm crochet hook

Scarf: Chain 22

Row 1: (dc, ch 2, dc) in 4th ch from hook, *sk next 2 chs, (2 dc, ch 2, sc) in next ch, repeat from * across, turn.

Row 2: Sl st in next ch-2 sp, ch 3 (counts as first dc), (dc, ch 2, sc) in same sp, (2 dc, ch 2, sc) in each ch-2 sp across, turn.

Row 3-120: Repeat Row 2. Fasten off at end.

1Hood Assembly: Fold scarf in half with wrong sides together. To make the hood, starting at top of fold and on one side only, use yarn needle and yarn to sew through both thicknesses for about 10 inches. This creates the back of your hood.2

Hood Front Edging: Place a marker in 15th row down on each side of hood front.

3Row 1: With right side facing, join yarn in end of marked space on right side, ch 3 (counts as first dc), (dc, ch 2, sc) in same sp, *sk next row, (2 dc, ch 2, sc) in next row, repeat from* around to other marked space. End in last marked space with (2 dc, ch 2, sc).

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Optional: Add fringe to scarf ends if desired. Here’s a link to an easy fringe tutorial at wikihow: http://www.wikihow.com/Add-Fringe-to-a-Crochet-or-Knit-Project

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