Monday, December 19, 2016

How to Knit: Basic Mittens

A week or two ago, I put up a Cabled Mitten Pattern, and said that I would be putting up a basic mitten pattern soon.  Well, here it is!  I love this pattern, because even though it does look like a basic mitten, it also incorporates some more advanced techniques, as well.  It's also a versatile pattern, in that it can be worn on its own, layered together for added warmth, or used as a lining for other mittens. Personally, because I live in North Central Minnesota, I would highly recommend at least doubling them up for the added warmth and wind resistance, but it's entirely up to you!

Although I don't do this with all of my patterns, I did also decide to film a video talking through each of the steps of this pattern, so if you get confused, or aren't sure about a particular abbreviation, you can see how it's done here:


Materials
  • 1 Skein Baby Bee yarn in Naked
  • Size 7 Needles (or size needed to obtain guage)
  • Yarn Needle
Guage
20sts and 24 rows = 4"/10cm over St st.

Mitten (Make 2)
Cast on 48sts.
Rows 1-10: (k2, p2) across.
Row 11 (RS): (k14, k2tog) 3 times - 45sts.
Riw 12 (and all WS rows): purl.
Work St st until piece measures 3.5"/8.5cm from beg, ending on a WS row.
Thumb Gusset
Row 1: k21, kfb, kfb, k22 - 47sts.
Row 2 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 3: k21, kfb, k2, kfb, k22 - 49sts.
Row 5: k21, kfb, k4, kfb, k22 - 51sts.
Row 7: k21, kfb, k6, kfb, k22 - 53sts.
Row 9: k21, kfb, k8, kfb, k22 - 55sts.
Row 11: k21, kfb, k10, kfb, k22 - 57sts.
Thumb
Row 1: k21, kfb k12, kfb, turn.
Row 2: p15, turn.
Row 3: k15, turn.
Repeat Rows 2-3 4 times more.
Row 4: p2tog 7 times, p1, turn.
Row 5: k2tog 4 times.
Break yarn, and thread tail through rem sts.  Pull tight.
Hand
Join yarn and k far 22sts.  Beg with purl row, work St st until piece measures 8"/20cm from beg, ending on a WS row.
Row 1: (ssk, k18, k2tog) twice - 40sts.
Row 2 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 3: (ssk, k16, k2tog) twice - 36sts.
Row 5: (ssk, k14, k2tog) twice - 32sts.
Row 7: (ssk, k12, k2tog) twice - 28sts.
Row 9: (ssk, k10, k2tog) twice - 24sts.
Row 10: purl.
Bind off rem 24 sts using Kitchener St.  Seam side of thumb and hand, weaving in all loose ends.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas Terrarium

I love the look of the classic terrarium packed with succulents, but I'm such a terrible gardener, that I can kill even the heartiest of plants.  So, although I've looked through several tutorials on how to put them together, I've never actually tried it myself.  Now that it's winter, though, I've noticed a new trend popping up all over Pinterest - a Christmas terrarium!  These snowglobe-like scenes require very little work to put together, and absolutely no upkeep, which is perfect for my scatterbrained mind.

All you really need is a glass jar with a lid, some artificial snowflakes, a few decorations - I used a tree from Department 56 and a little red model car - and if you really want to make it look elegant, a candle pedestal.
Fill the bottom of the jar with the artificial snowflakes.
Arrange your Christmas scene.
Then add the lid to the glass jar and place on candle pedestal, if desired.
That's all there is to it.  I love how minimalistic and elegant this particular terrarium is, but as I'm sure you've guessed, you can make it as extravagant or casual as you'd like, and it's easy to fit to your d├ęcor!  This would be particularly easy if you already have a Christmas village in your home - you can use a terrarium to showcase one or two of your favorite pieces!  I think they're so pretty, and I would love to look at even more.  If you've created a Christmas terrarium in your home, please share a picture with me via Twitter or Instagram!  I'd love to see it!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

How to Knit: Cabled Mittens

I'm not sure what it is, but each winter I find myself in need of new mittens.  It's not that I get sick of my old ones - somehow they just disappear between when I store them away for the summer, and when I go to look for them again when it gets cold.  Of course, I can't complain too much, because that simply means that I get to knit a new pair, and see what kind of design I can come up with for the year.

These particular mittens are based off the Fingerless Mitts pattern from last year, but are a bit more complex, given that not only is there quite a bit of cabling, there's also a bit of shaping involved with the thumb.  On their own they're not the warmest, but next week I'll be posting a basic mitten pattern that I like to use as a lining.  The added layer makes them much warmer, and I would highly recommend doing that.  I think they've turned out beautifully, though, and I hope you agree!

Materials
  • 1 Skein Baby Bee Sweet Delight in Naked
  • Size 7 knitting needles
  • Yarn needle
  • Cable needle
Stitch Glossary
CB4: sl 2 sts to cn and hold to back, k2, then k2 from cn.
CF4: sl 2 sts to cn and hold to front, k2, then k2 from cn.

Right Mitten
Cast on 48 sts.
Rows 1-10: (k2, p2) across.
Row 11 (RS): knit.
Row 12 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 13: k1, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k23.
Row 15: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k25.
Row 17: k5, C4B, k8, C4F, k27.
Row 19: k3, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k25.
Row 21: k1, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k23.
Thumb Gusset
Row 1: k1, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, kfb, kfb, k21.
Row 3: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k2, kfb, k2, kfb, k21.
Row 5: k5, C4F, k8, C4B, k4, kfb, k4, kfb, k21.
Row 7: k3, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k2, kfb, k6, kfb, k21.
Row 9: k1, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, kfb, k8, kfb, k21.
Row 11: k1, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, kfb, k10, kfb, k21.
Thumb
Row 1: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k2, kfb, k12, kfb, turn.
Row 2: p15, turn.
Row 3: k15, turn.
Repeat Rows 2-3 4 times.
Row 4: p2tog 7 times, k1, turn.
Row 5: k2tog 4 times.
Break yarn, thread tail through remaining sts and pull tight.
Hand
Row 1: k remaining 21 sts on palm of hand.
Row 2: p21, m1, p26.
Row 3: k5, C4B, k8, C4F, k27.
Row 4 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 5: k3, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k25.
Row 7: k1, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k23.
Row 9: k1, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k23.
Row 11: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k25.
Row 13: k5, C4F, k8, C4B, k27.
Row 15: k3, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k25.
Row 17: k1, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k23.
Top of Mitten
Row 1: ssk, k7, C4B, C4F, k7, k2tog, k22.
Row 3: ssk, k4, C4B, k4, C4F, k4, k2tog, k22.
Row 5: ssk, k1, C4B, k8, C4F, k1, k2tog, ssk, k18, k2tog.
Row 7: ssk, k2, C4F, k4, C4B, k2, k2tog, ssk, k16, k2tog.
Row 9: ssk, k3, C4F, C4B, k3, k2tog, ssk, k14, k2tog.
Row 11: ssk, k2, C4B, C4F, k2, k2tog, ssk, k12, k2tog.
Row 13: ssk, k10, k2tog, ssk, k10, k2tog.
Bind off remaining 24 sts using Kitchener st.

Left Mitten
Cast on 48 sts.
Rows 1-10: (k2, p2) across.
Row 11 (RS): knit.
Row 12 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 13: k23, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k1.
Row 15: k25, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k3.
Row 17: k27, C4B, k8, C4F, k5.
Row 19: k25, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k3.
Row 21: k23, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k1.
Thumb Gusset
Row 1: k21, kfb, kfb, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k1.
Row 3: k21, kfb, k2, kfb, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k2, k3.
Row 5: k21, kfb, k4, kfb, C4F, k8, C4B, k4, k5.
Row 7: k21, kfb, k6, kfb, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k2, k3.
Row 9: k21, kfb, k8, kfb, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k1.
Row 11: k21, kfb, k10, kfb, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k1.
Thumb
Row 1: k21, kfb, k12, kfb, turn.
Row 2: p15, turn.
Row 3: k15, turn.
Repeat Rows 2-3 4 times.
Row 4: p2tog 7 times, k1, turn.
Row 5: k2tog 4 times.
Break yarn, thread tail through remaining sts and pull tight.
Hand
Row 1: k3, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k3 remaining sts.
Row 2: p26, m1, p21.
Row 3: k27, C4B, k8, C4F, k5.
Row 4 (and all WS rows): purl.
Row 5: k25, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k3.
Row 7: k23, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k1.
Row 9: k23, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, k1.
Row 11: k25, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k3.
Row 13: k27, C4F, k8, C4B, k5.
Row 15: k25, C4B, C4F, k4, C4B, C4F, k3.
Row 17: k23, C4B, k4, C4F, C4B, k4, C4F, k1.
Top of Mitten
Row 1: k22, ssk, k7, C4B, C4F, k7, k2tog.
Row 3: k22, ssk, k4, C4B, k4, C4F, k4, k2tog.
Row 5: ssk, k18, k2tog, ssk, k1, C4B, k8, C4F, k1, k2tog.
Row 7: ssk, k16, k2tog, ssk, k2, C4F, k4, C4B, k2, k2tog.
Row 9: ssk, k14, k2tog, ssk, k3, C4F, C4B, k3, k2tog.
Row 11: ssk, k12, k2tog, ssk, k2, C4B, C4F, k2, k2tog.
Row 13: ssk, k10, k2tog, ssk, k10, k2tog.
Bind off remaining 24 sts using Kitchener st.

Finishing
Seam side of mitten and thumb.  Weave in remaining ends.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Purpose Jewelry

There's an account on Instagram that I've been following for quite some time, called Purpose Jewelry.  I love it.  The pieces are beautiful, the photos are gorgeous, and even better: they have an amazing mission.  Purpose Jewelry is a brand that works with International Sanctuary to provide professional opportunities to young women that have been rescued from sex trafficking.  Each piece of jewelry is handcrafted by one of these women, providing them with a means of supporting themselves, along with job training and experience.

I love the fact that there's such an emphasis on providing these women with a way to regain their independence, as I believe that's an important part of the healing process.  I remember the first time I was exposed to this notion while studying abroad in Oslo, Norway.  We had taken a tour of a facility in which women who had been rescued from sex trafficking were taught how to give manicures, pedicures, and other spa treatments right alongside women who had not been involved in this industry.  This not only provided the rescued women with job training and opportunities, but also helped reintegrate them into society.   

As I mentioned earlier, the pieces themselves are also stunning.  The necklace featured in today's post is my first piece from Purpose Jewelry, the Lunette Necklace in silver.  It's such a unique piece of jewelry that, while minimalistic in design, is also a bit of a statement.  Based off a traditional bar necklace, the curved elements create a beautiful crescent moon shape.  Although I hadn't realized when I picked it out, this lunar silhouette is a wonderful daily reminder to think of others in this world that may not be as fortunate as I have been, considering the moon is something everyone around the world can see.  This time of year, it can be easy to be charitable.  There are opportunities everywhere.  But, people don't just need help around Christmas.  There are people in need around the world all the time.

That being said, I do also want to point out what an amazing gift a piece from Purpose Jewelry could be for the holidays.  Not only would you be giving a beautiful piece of jewelry to someone special in your life, but you would also be supporting the International Sanctuary and letting others know about this organization.  I fully intend to pick up a few items for some of my friends and family, and maybe the Lunette Earrings for myself. 
For more information on Purpose Jewelry, check out their website, purposejewelry.org, and also the video provided below. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

We're Almost There!

I know everyone says it, but I can't believe how fast this pregnancy has gone!  In just a month and a half or so, we'll be meeting Baby Brightwood, and I think I can speak for both Joe and I when I say we couldn't be more excited! 

Compared to other pregnant ladies I've talked to, we've had it pretty easy.  I never had any morning sickness, have yet to see any stretch marks, and Baby already seems to be able to keep up with our fairly active lifestyle!  He or she is constantly moving, and this past summer we were able to complete a 5K, 10K, and our very first half marathon.  Hopefully we'll be able to continue this trend, as I plan to start training for a full marathon once the snow melts!

Joe and I still don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl, and I'm so glad that we've been able to avoid finding out!  There seem to be so few surprises left in today's world, and it's been so much fun to hear guesses from those around us - as of now, I believe the votes are tied.  Speaking of surprises, we do have baby names picked out, and have told several friends and family members, but we've decided to wait until Baby is here to share it online. 

That being said, I am getting a bit uncomfortable, and I don't just mean that it's harder to sleep or find a comfortable resting position - I'm also not as confident as I usually am.  I'm worried that I won't be a good mom.  I'm worried I'll neglect my husband who has been my biggest support through all this.  I'm worried I'll make the wrong choices.  I'm just worried in general.  And, on a superficial note, no matter how dolled up I get, I still feel frumpy and unkempt.

Thankfully, I know that I'm not alone in this.  A friend of mine, Dana, is due just a week after me with her second child, and had expressed that she wasn't feeling quite as confident as usual either.  As this is her second, she doesn't have as many of the same fears I do, but told me she did during her first pregnancy. 

I also have to thank her for giving me a little bit of my self-esteem back!  She is the one that took all of the pictures in today's post, and I have to say, I was not feeling my best the day they were taken.  I felt bloated and just kind of gross in general, but they turned out so well!  We even used the top photo in our very first Christmas cards!
It's amazes me how much our lives have changed in just the past few years.  We met in 2011, got engaged in 2013, married in 2014, and this week we'll be packing our hospital bag to meet our first child!  I can't adequately express how blessed we feel to be at this point in our lives, and while some days are and will be harder than others, we are so thankful for everything God has provided us.  I hope you've enjoyed this little update, and we look forward to introducing you to our little one!

*Photos by Dana Johnson

Thursday, October 20, 2016

White Hot Chocolate Recipe


Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • whipped cream
  • mini marshmallows
Directions
Stir together milk, vanilla, and white chocolate chips in a saucepan.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until it comes to a simmer without boiling.  Pour into a mug and top with whipped cream.  Garnish with miniature marshmallows.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chai Tea Latte Recipe


Ingredients
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp minced cardamom pod
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seed
  • 1" piece vanilla pod, split lengthwise
  • 2 star anise
  • 3-4 saffron threads
  • 1/4 tsp anise seed
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 tsp ginger
  • 2 black tea bags
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups milk
Directions
Boil water, spices, and teabags together in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Partially cover pan and simmer about 20 minutes.  Strain chai into a second saucepan and add milk and sugar.  Whisk vigorously and pour into a mug.  Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe


Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 shot espresso or 1/4 cup strong coffee
  • whipped cream
Directions
Combine milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla in a saucepan and heat through without boiling.  Whisk vigorously until mixture is foamy.  Pour espresso or coffee into a mug and add foamed milk mixture.  Top with whipped cream and garnish with pumpkin pie spice.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Mulled "Wine" Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 cup  Fre Merlot alcohol-removed wine
  • 1/2 sliced orange - 1/4 of a slice for garnish
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
Directions
Combine wine, orange, cloves, honey, cinnamon, almond extract, and nutmeg in a small saucepan.  Stir occasionally over medium heat without allowing to boil.  Pour into a mug and garnish with remaining 1/4 slice of orange.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Chicken Fried Rice Recipe

A while back, it was requested for me to share a few more recipes with you guys, but as I've mentioned before, I'm really not much of a cook.  However, the recipe that I'm sharing with you today is one that I think we've kind of mastered for the most part!  It's an amazing chicken fried rice recipe that works well as a side dish or main course.  You can also swap out the chicken for some beef which is also quite tasty.  I hope you guys like it as much as I do!


Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cooked white rice (cold)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup cooked, chopped chicken
Directions
  • In a small bowl, beat eggs with water.  Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, and add eggs.  Allow to sit for 1-2 minutes before scrambling with a spatula.
  • Add the carrot and peas to the skillet, and saute until soft.  Then, add the rice, soy sauce, and chicken.  Fry together for a few minutes and serve hot.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How to Knit | Men's Beanie

It has been requested over and over that I share how to knit a men's beanie, so I thought I'd share the patterns to one of my favorites that I've made for Joe.  It has an almost mock rib to it, so it's a little more unique, but still isn't very difficult to do!  I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do!


Materials

  • 1 skein Yarn Bee Baby Bee Sweet Delight in Licorice
  • Size 6 knitting needles
  • Yarn needle
Brim

Cast on 98 sts.

Row 1: k2, (p2, k2) to end of row.
Row 2: p2, (k2, p2) to end of row.
Repeat Rows 1-2 7 times more.

Increase Rows

Row 1: kfb, kfb, (k1, kfb) to end of row - 148 sts. 
Row 2: purl across.

Body

Row 1: (sl 1 knitwise, k1) across.
Row 2: sl 1 purlwise, purl to end of row.
Repeat until hat is desired length.

Crown

Row 1: {(sl 1 knitwise, k1) 6 times, sl 1 knitwise, k2tog, (k1, sl 1 knitwise) 6 times, k1, k2`} to end of row.
Row 2 (and all WS rows): sl 1 purlwise, purl to end of row.
Row 3: {(sl 1 knitwise, k1) 6 times, k2tog, (k1, sl 1 knitwise) 6 times, k2tog} to end of row.
Row 5: {(sl 1 knitwise, k1) 5 times, sl 1 knitwise, k2tog, (k1, sl 1 knitwise) 5 times, k1, k2tog} to end of row.
Continue decreasing in this manner, until you have worked a full row of k2tog.

Finishing
Cut yarn, and thread through remaining sts.  Pull tight to close the crown of the hat.  Seam the sides of the hat together, and weave in all loose ends.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Egg Bake Recipe

One of our favorite meals growing up was egg bake.  In fact, my brother liked it so much that he even had it at his high school graduation party!  It's an amazing meal that is not only foolproof, but perfect for any time of day!  If you're interested in how we make ours, then just keep on reading!


Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bread
  • bacon
  • 2-3 cups of shredded marble jack cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups of milk
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
Lightly grease a 9"x13" pan, and lay the bread on the bottom of the pan.  Layer with the bacon, and cheese.


In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, milk, mustard, salt, and pepper.


Pour this mixture over the cheese and cover.  Refrigerate overnight.


The next morning, bake for 1 1/2 hours at 325°F.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

DIY Pearl Necklace

I recently got a new necklace from my friend, Emily, for Christmas, and I absolutely love it.  It's a little teapot charm with a pearl in the center on an antique gold chain, that I've been wearing a lot!  It even made it into my December Favorites video, if you want to see it!  But, it got me thinking.  Apart from the DIY Floral Necklace I made a while back, I really don't wear many pearls on a regular basis anymore.  This is a bit odd, as I love pearls so much that I even named my blog, Megan and Pearls.  So, to remedy this, I decided to make another necklace, this one predominantly pearls.  


To make one for yourself, you'll need:
  • Several 8mm pearls
  • Necklace chain in your choice of color
  • Crimping beads to match your chain
  • Crimp bead covers to match your chain
  • Illusion cord
  • Wire cutters
  • Scissors
  • Needle nose or round nose pliers


First, string the pearls on to a length of illusion cord.  I used all the pearls I had, which ended up being 50 in total, but you can add more pearls to create a longer necklace or subtract to create a shorter one.  It's all up to you!


Then, measure out 3"-4" on either side of the necklace chain clasp, and use your wire cutters to snip the links off.  Again, here is another place where you can customize the way you want your necklace to look simply by adding more inches to the chain or subtracting depending on your preferences.


Slide a crimp bead onto the illusion cord at the very end of your chain of pearls.  Then, string the illusion cord through the last link on your chain, and back through the crimp bead creating a little loop.  Pull the crimp bead as close the the last link as possible, and then squeeze the entire crimp bead with a needle nose pliers to secure the illusion cord to the link.


As it sits, crimp beads aren't very attractive, but that's where the covers come in.  Just slip a crimp cover over the squished bead, and close the cover around the crimp again with a needle nose pliers.


All that's left is to repeat on the opposite side, making sure that the last link, crimp bead, and pearls are all close together to look nice, but not too close to make the entire necklace difficult to bend.  If it is too sturdy, there is a much better chance of the illusion cord breaking, and pearls flying everywhere!


I hope you guys have enjoyed this quick little tutorial on how to make a pearl necklace!  I know it's nothing too special, but I still had to share it with you guys!  I absolutely love how it turned out, and I really think adding the bit of chain makes it look much less homemade, but you can still know when you're out and about wearing it that you were the one that made every decision on how yours looks! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Our Roast Recipe

You guys probably know by now that I really like easy meals that will feed my family for several days like lasagna, meatloaf, shepherd's pie, etc., so a roast is a common occurrence in our household.  Another nice thing about this particular recipe is that it is incredibly difficult to mess this meal up, and is a good way to get rid of any vegetables that might need eating! 


Like I said, you can essentially add anything you'd like to this meal, but these are the ingredients we typically use:
  • 1 beef roast
  • 3 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 2 serrano peppers diced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 potatoes cubed


Toss everything into a crock pot, and fill with water until the roast is completely submerged.  Turn the crock pot on medium, and allow it to cook for about 10 hours or until the meat is cooked through. 


Because of our hydrogarden, we have a lot of serrano peppers, and use them in just about everything, but I really like them in this roast, because it gives the meat a nice little bite, without being too hot for our delicate Minnesotan palettes!