Gear for the littlest heroes

A few weeks ago I got an email from a staff member of WhedonCon, a charitable fan convention that celebrates all things Joss Whedon. She told me that she organizes an event called WhedonKnit Nights, where people come together to knit and crochet things to donate items for Newborns in Need, and was wondering if I could donate a pattern of my own design for the cause. She said that the charity was in need of baby hats, blankets, booties, and sweaters. I’ve been crocheting for 6 years. I’ve never made anything wearable or remotely useful in that time. Try something new? Make something geeky? And for a good cause? I’ll bite!

I asked her how “Whedon-strict” the items needed to be. Would Avengers be kosher? Or are we looking more along the lines of Firefly? She told me anything that was related to Joss Whedon or made a reference towards his work was fine. WELL THEN. That opened up LOTS of options. This was going to be fun.

Baby Jayne Cobb hats seem to be an obvious choice, but there are already plenty of free patterns out there for those, so I wanted to try something different. Captain America immediately came to mind. A little Captain America baby beanie with a little shield blankie sounded perfect to me. Here’s the thing. Everything I’ve made for the past 6 years has been in the 3″ range. The hat wasn’t too much of an issue. Since it was all done in one color, I was able to keep adding rows until it got to a good size. The blanket is where things went wrong.

shield-fail-copy

FAIL. FREAKING FAIL.

I wish I had a better picture to show just how stupidly small the “blanket” initially turned out. It ended up being 9.5″ across, and that’s AFTER I stretched it out a bit. It was barely bigger than a personal pan pizza. This was a blanket meant for preemies, and it wasn’t even big enough to be a napkin.

giphy

I had to take it apart down to the blue center and work it up all over again. Surprise! Babies (even premature babies) are juuuuuust a little bigger than the 3″-sized items I’m used to making. Just a little.

I worked it up over again, and finally! Much better! Managed to add a good extra 5 inches or so to the diameter.

shield

It’s not exactly made out of vibranium so it doesn’t hold up too well on your forearm, but I think it’ll do well enough to keep a baby safe and warm.

shield-drape

And of course you’ll need a little helmet to go with that shield. Safety first, folks.

hat

Hopefully everything will be fit to keep the littlest heroes warm.

hat-shield

Patterns for the baby beanie and shield blanket are up for FREE can be found here. Tag me in any photos you post of your work, I’d love to see how it all turns out! Share your work if you make anything from the patterns, and share the patterns too! Happy hooking!

Here’s the link to the pattern again: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/captain-america-baby-beanie–shield-blanket

  • Credit is given where credit is due, the pattern for the star in the center of the shield can be found here, written by Jodie over at her Jelly Wares blog.
  • To find more patterns for items that can be donated to Newborns in Need, look here.
  • For more information about donating to Newborns in Need, see here.
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Go Coogs!

A few months back I was approached by the folks at the Bare Bowls Kitchen food truck to make a little mascot for them, particularly one related to the University of Houston since they started serving their bowls of deliciousness to the starving masses of students there. I still don’t really take orders or commissions, but 1) I’ve had their food before and really enjoyed it (it’s tasty! it’s locally sourced! it’s 12,876,234 times healthier than the crap in the cafeteria!), and 2) I earned my professional degree at UH and had some good times there, so I couldn’t turn this down. 🙂 And seriously, where were all these awesome food trucks on campus back when I was in school?? I was one of the unfortunate souls that had to resort to the fast food joints in the campus cafeteria. I feel like I missed out. 😛

At any rate, they asked for a lil’ cougar (UH’s mascot) holding one of their signature bowls, so I got crackin’. The toughest part about making the little cougar was…well, making it look like a freaking cougar. I’ve made lions before, so I thought I could make a lion and take away the mane. Turns out taking away the mane left me with a yellow teddy bear. Then I pointed the ears and I ended up with a yellow kitty cat. STUPID COUGAR, WHY WON’T YOU SHOW YOURSELF?? After lots of fiddling (you’d be surprised at what kind of subtle alterations completely changed how the lil’ dude looked), I think I finally managed to get a serviceable lil’ coog. 🙂

Go Coogs!

And this lil’ coog is feasting on a bowl of his own. 🙂

I dropped by campus to deliver the lil’ guy and to grab a bite. I ordered a Western Indian bowl (marinated chicken, spinach, corn, all over a lovely bed of seasoned rice), topped with a poached duck egg. Let me repeat that. POACHED. DUCK. EGG.

Ohhhh mama.

The pieces of chicken were tender, the spinach was silky and took on the flavors and spices used in the chicken, and don’t even get me started on the duck egg…

GET IN MAH BELLY.

With the rice soaking up all that eggy goodness (I’ve got an unhealthy obsession with poached eggs), this was a bowl full of win. If any of you are fortunate enough to be on UH campus, these guys serve up some serious goodness. They’re super affordable, and they dole out hefty portions to boot. You eat well, spend less, and you get to support local farmers and growers in the process. TRIPLE WIN. Next time you drop by, say hi to the friendly staff, and say hello to their new pet!

Lil’ coog, happily perched in his new home.

You can keep up with Bare Bowls Kitchen on twitter or facebook. They’re honestly doing (and cooking) great things, and for all you UH students out there, seriously, ditch the Taco Bell and go straight for the trucks. I WILL LIVE VICARIOUSLY THROUGH ALL OF YOU, since I never had the chance back when I had my days at UH. Go forth my dear coogs, and EAT WELL. 🙂

Twitter: www.twitter.com/BareBowls
Facebook: www.facebook.com/barebowlskitchen

Info about UH’s food truck food court can be found here. Goodness knows I would’ve eaten through ALL of those trucks if they were around when I was in school. 🙂

This little piggy went to market: Showin’ some crochet love to Revival Market

Confession: I’m probably one of the least “green” eaters you’ll find. Maybe it’s because I don’t have enough cooking prowess to justify paying premium for organic/local food if I’m going to screw it up, and maybe it’s in the interest of saving a few bucks here and there. Even after watching Food, Inc. (great documentary about the food industry), I still ate mass-produced meats, thinking to myself “I don’t wanna know what happened to this chicken, but I haven’t grown a third arm yet, so I’m gonna eat it anyway,” as I chomped down on that chicken wing. But places like Revival Market are slowly turning me into a believer in the locavore movement. It’s a market. But they also serve food. And holy crap, the FOOD.

Revival Market has a simple, straightforward mission: Local means fresher & cleaner, and fresher & cleaner means tastier, healthier, and better for the community. 🙂 The whole menu has wonderful items that are all made fresh, local, and just plain GOOD. But if you want the best example of everything Revival Market stands for, just utter three letters: BLT. Bacon, lettuce, tomato, and dammit, I’m convinced there’s some magic in there. It’s so simple…how could you POSSIBLY make it that much better? Much less $9-better? I had a bit of a Pulp Fiction moment when I saw the $9 on the board…just as Vincent Vega questioned the $5 milkshake, I questioned the nearly-$10 BLT plate. And oh, how Revival proved me wrong.

Half of my BLT, shortly before I devoured it.

That bacon is UH-MAZING. Bacon is already a sacred perfect form to me already, even the cheap-o diner bacon you’d get with a greasy breakfast platter. But THIS. This was something different. Fatty, perfectly crisp edges, smokey and flavorful…this is the remarkable result when your bacon comes straight from a farm and is cured and smoked in-house. Pair it together with fresh slices of tomato, leafy arugula, and a wonderfully light herbed mayonnaise, and you’ve got yourself a BLT that changes everything you knew about the classic sandwich. Those sandwiches that I once loved with the wilted lettuce, chewy bacon, and mushy tomatoes were suddenly shoved into a corner of my mind along with a few ex-boyfriends. One way or another, it’s a beautifully simple demonstration of Revival Market’s mission…when I thought a BLT was a BLT everywhere I go, Revival Market shows how just 3 locally sourced ingredients sandwiched between two slices of fresh-baked bread can elevate the taste and quality to a whole new level. No heavy sauces to mask the inherent flavors, no gimmicky garnishes to make it look prettier. Just pure, fresh ingredients left alone to allow the flavors to speak for themselves, all put together with care. And this is just ONE item on the menu that I’m gushing about here.

These guys have fed me ridiculously well and have helped me slowly turn towards the fresher side of things, so I decided I wanted to give back.

Their logo is a piggie with a chicken perched on top.

So I made them a piggie with a chicken perched on top. 🙂

Yesterday I dropped by and grabbed a BLT with a wonderfully cool and spicy side of gazpacho for lunch. On my way out, I handed the piggie to the girl at the counter. Immediately she says “Oh my god, I saw this on twitter!”…she took it back to the kitchen to show the rest of the staff, and the chef came out from the kitchen to thank me! Chef Pera, thank YOU and your staff for all your hard work and everything that you’ve done for the community. I’ve been visiting more and more often (the Saturday morning specials are enough to continually drag me out of bed on the weekends), and just when I think I’ve eaten through the entire menu, I still manage to find something new (and delicious!) every time. There’s some serious awesomeness going on in the kitchen, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down any time soon. Which means I’ll just have to keep going back. Now ain’t that a shame. 😉

Revival Market
http://revivalmarket.com/
550 Heights Blvd
Houston, TX 77007
713-880-8463

Piggie pattern from Lion Brand Yarn’s website. (you’ll have to register to view it, but registration’s free, and you get access to a nice collection of free patterns)

Showin’ some crochet love: Coffee edition!

I’m a hopeless caffeine junkie. Not in the sense that I chug 5 cups of coffee a day or anything, but more in the sense that I’ve been on a one-cup-a-day habit for so long now that I get throbbing headaches if I go just one day without a caffeine fix. Houston has plenty of good coffee shops in the sense that they’re great places to socialize, lounge around, or get some work done over a nice hot beverage. On the other hand, not many of them actually have good coffee. I’m not saying that the other places have bad coffee by any means, but they’re not going to be the places that you’d visit if you want fresh and local roasted coffee for its own unique and inherent taste. That’s where Catalina Coffee comes in.

Photo credit: Catalina website

I’ll preface this by saying that Catalina isn’t my favorite “stay and hang out” type of coffee shop. It’s relatively small, there’s no free wi-fi (but you can try to bum off of some from the places next door), and tables are small, so it’s not really ideal for students/people trying to simultaneously squeeze in a coffee break and work. But dammit, this is 100% where I go if I want a good, freshly roasted cup of coffee that doesn’t need any extra syrups, whipped cream, or fancy toppings to make it taste better. I usually go for a cortado:  a shot of espresso with equal parts steamed milk. I’m not enough of a coffee buff to drink straight espresso, but the cortado is the ideal grab-n-go caffeine fix for me…small portion, plenty of caffeine kick, and about as unadulterated as it comes in terms of the actual coffee itself. I don’t need to add sugar…the coffee is just that smooth. 🙂 On the other hand, if a cortado is too strong, they make some mean lattes and mochas too. They’re not overly sweet, and they always have pretty pretty latte art to boot. 🙂

That being said, since Catalina’s been my go-to source for good cups of coffee, and the fact that I’ve actually sat down and crocheted “in the wild” there on a few occasions, I thought I’d make them a little gift. 🙂

The little heart on top isn’t as pretty as the ones that they make on their lattes, but hopefully it spreads the love one way or another! 🙂 And with that, I dropped by today, ordered a cortado to go, and handed the lil’ guy off to the barista. Spreading more crochet love around town, one critter at a time. 🙂

Catalina Coffee:
Website: http://catalinacoffeeshop.com/
2201 Washington Avenue
Houston, TX 77007
(713) 861-8448

Showin’ some crochet love: Eatsie Boys, part 2

A few weeks ago, I got the following tweet from The Eatsie Boys:

Back in October, I crocheted a little mascot for them based on their logo, and it looks like their lil’ dude wanted some friends. So I was more than happy to get my hook on and grant him that wish. 🙂 A couple of weeks later, he had two new buddies to hang out with.

Two lil’ eboys, hanging out in my egg crate.

Today I dropped by to unite these dudes with their new friend, and lo and behold, the happy trio was together at last! I’ll let the guys fight it out amongst themselves over who gets which lil’ egg dude. 🙂

And of course I got some food while I was at it. I really don’t need to sing the praises of these guys any more than I have already…it’s just plain GOOD. Pork snuggies, Frank the Pretzel, the ice cream…I could eat my way through that damn truck. They’re actually opening a brick and mortar location in the summer, which means mo’ grub for the rest of us! Woohoo! Peace, love, pork snuggies, and the occasional crocheted eggman. 😀

Eatsie Boys:
Website: http://eatsieboys.com/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/eatsieboys

Showin’ some crochet love

Here in my hometown of Houston, food trucks (aside from the multitudes of taco trucks) are a relatively new phenomenon (yeah yeah, I know all you NY and LA people are snickering away). Regardless, one way or another I’m pretty damn happy that they’ve caught on, and I’ve already found quite a few gems around town that fill me (literally) with deliciousness and happiness. 🙂 Cue Eatsie Boys, by far one of my favorite trucks so far.

Photo credit: Eatsie Boys facebook page

The food’s fresh, local, and freakin’ delicious. They started off serving some AWESOME savory dishes (my fave was the “pork snuggies”: slow-cooked Harrison Hog Farms pork belly, homemade pickles, green onions, homemade hoisin on steamed, pillowy buns = NOM NOM NOM)…then when the Texas heat got to be too much, they moved on to serving ice cream, which was just as awesome (“Makers Mark Some Noise + Golden Grahams”: vanilla spiked with Maker’s Mark, studded with Golden Grahams, and MOAR NOM NOM NOM). After stalking this truck for several months and trying just about everything on the menu, something had to be done. I decided to bring their mascot to life.

 

Left: Original Eatsie Boys logo. Right: My own yarn rendition

I crocheted a little eggman, complete with removable ice cream cone (gotta keep him seasonal if they bring back the pork snuggies, right?), and set out to give the dudes at Eatsie Boys this lil’ token of appreciation. Because dammit, they’ve fed me enough awesomeness that they deserve some thanks. I sent them a tweet with a photo of the lil’ guy, and a few hours later I was at their truck window with the little eggman in hand. When I brought him out, the guy at the window immediately exclaimed “Oh my god, that’s YOU!!” Woohoo! My little eggman was finally home! We exchanged high fives, had a good chat, and of course I enjoyed some ice cream while I was at it (this time around I got “Slow and Low Sweet Potato Marshmallow”…and it is every bit as delicious as it sounds). I got to satisfy my sweet tooth, showed some appreciation to one of my favorite local businesses, and now my little eggman was where he belonged: happily perched in the window of the Eatsie Boys truck.

Home sweet home!

Last time I visited the truck, the lil’ dude wasn’t at his post in the window, but the guy informed me that he’s actually been hanging out in their tip jar, workin’ it for tips. Not only does the little guy have a home, but he’s got a job too! *Sniff*…I’m so proud. In all seriousness though, if any of you are in the Houston area, definitely check these guys out. They’re a fun bunch of hard-working dudes (I’ve joked that the owner is like the Ryan Seacrest of the Houston food scene), and their food is well worth tracking down the truck for. Eat, drink, and be merry, my friends!

Eatsie Boys info: find them on facebook, twitter, or at their webpage.