A Cold Weather Favorite...

     This is one of my favorite soups.  It tastes so close to the Olive Garden version that you'll think you're there! It's easy to make but tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen.  By substituting ground turkey for the red meat, my recipe is lower in fat then the traditional version.  Unfortunately this soup is almost always high in sodium so I try to find low sodium or no salt added canned ingredients.  They are now widely available. I also amp up the veggies and lower the amount of pasta to keep calories within reason. You can add a can of low sodium white beans to this soup, if you want it more chili like.  Don't forget the garlic bread, it's the perfect accent to this wonderful dish! #slowcookerpastaefagioli #slowcookerpastaefagiolirecipes #slowcookerrecipes #pastaefagioli


1 Pound Ground Turkey, browned and drained
1 Onion Diced
2 Medium Carrots diced
3 Celery Stalks
1 Cup fresh spinach, Diced
1/2 Cup Cabbage, diced
1 Can low sodium Dark Red Kidney Beans with liquid
24 ounces low sodium V8 Juice
2 cans no salt added petite diced tomatoes
2 cups low sodium or salt free beef broth
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
Pinch of crushed red peppers
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 cup cooked ditali pasta


Place all the above ingredients in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. Turn slow cooker up to high and Add 1 cup of ditali pasta 20 minutes before serving.  Serve with hot, garlic bread!  Enjoy!


copyright, 2014,, Nicole F. Cox, all rights reserved.

I've spent the week getting my yarn stash and looming supplies organized!

#yarnorganization #craftroomorganization #yarnwinding #loomknittingorganization

Sorry I haven't been posting much lately but it was time for me to get some organization in my life again.  My yarn stash and looming supplies have gotten out of control.  I've been envious of some of the pictures I've seen on +loomaholics.  They've had some really creative organizational ideas!  I love the new yarn winder my daughter got me for Christmas.  It makes a beautiful yarn cake that feeds so smoothly from both ends.  Unlike other loomers, I actually hate the process of winding though.  If I never saw another pile of yarn barf, I would be a very happy knitter.  Every single ball of yarn I wind knots repeatedly.  I watch You Tube videos and others don't seem to have this problem.  Apparently I'm not cut out to be a proficient winder so I won't be giving advice on how to properly wind yarn.  I will tell you that my favorite thing about having a winder is that, as the cake gets smaller and starts to collapse, you can just rewind it and have another neat little cake again.  They do look so beautiful too, full of all kinds of possibilities!

Basically this week I decided to wind all my yarn into cakes, even the type of skeins that really don't need it.  This way I can insure that while I'm knitting I don't come across any surprises.  I'm bagging all of my cakes and just leaving out one cake of each color.  That way I can protect my yarn from dust and light.  My husband was nice enough to get involved in the project and went out to AC Moore and bought me a couple of pine shelves and bolted them together.  I now have floor to ceiling yarn and loom storage in my craft room.  He bought large cup holders and bent them.  They are perfect for hanging the looms on.  On the other side of the shelves we hung baskets for notions.

I also have been collecting empty toilet paper rolls.  They are perfect for winding small amounts of yarn on. They also fit nicely into a small drawer.  The other small rolls of silk & cotton, I bagged in Zip Locs and placed in a basket that fits perfectly up on a shelf in my craft room.  I designated another as a project basket for "works in progress". In the past, those were just strewn all over the couch.  I'm sure my husband appreciates this new organized me, lol!

One of my favorite projects I'm working on is getting stitch samples organized.  My stitch samples measure about 3 x 5.  I've attached cards to them with the stitch name, whether the stitch curls or not, type of yarn used and a reference number.  The reference number coordinates with a three ring binder which has sheets listing the stitch sequence (or how the stitch was done).  That project will probably take a year to complete.  Stitch samples make it so much easier when designing a pattern so I'm really excited about this project!

I don't bother to weave in my ends and often use cheaper yarns when doing the sample.  The ends are convenient for tying on the tags.


copyright, 2014,, Nicole F. Cox, all rights reserved.

This semi-felted hat knits up quick and looks cute!

I have to confess...I'm very lazy when it comes to my hair!  I wear ball caps way too often.  Let's face it, they look good with sportswear but nothing else.  So I wanted to loom a hat that was casual but would look stylish with a winter sweater and wouldn't scream "I didn't feel like doing my hair today."  I love the newsboy caps and they have the coverage of a ball cap.  It took me two times before I came up with this hat.  The first hat I did in acrylic and couldn't shape it to lay like a newsboy.  The second hat, pictured above, I did in Fisherman's Wool and was able to manipulate it into the shape I wanted.  I also semi-felted it to stiffen the brim and give it a different look.  The hat will be huge and kind of flimsy when it comes off the loom.  Don't worry it will shrink and stiffen up with the felting process!
#loomknitnewsboy #loomknithatpattern #loomknitnewsboyhat #freeloomknittingpatterns #loomknitnewsboycap #loomknittingpatterns

Disclaimer:  The brim ONLY is done like the one by Goodknitkisses on can find the video here: Newsboy Brim.  Please support them...they have wonderful videos on youtube & Pinterest!  


Knifty Knitter Loom: Yellow Loom
Knitting Tool
Crochet Hook
1 Skein Fishermans Wool; Color:  Birch Tweed

EWK = e-wrap knit
knit = flat knitting, unless an e-wrap was already stated.

-Work Left to Right. 
-Place Markers on Pegs 5, 20 and 24.
-Use (2) strands of wool as one.
-Place slip knot on peg 5.
-Chain cast on from peg 5 to peg 20, use markers as guides.
-e-wrap back to peg 5 but skip 1st peg.
-knit pegs.
-EWK peg 6.
-Purl pegs 7- peg 19.
-EWK peg 20.
-e-wrap back to peg 4 (increase 2 pegs)
-knit pegs with 2 loops.
-EWK peg 4.
-Purl pegs 5-20.
-e-wrap pegs 21 and 22.
-e-wrap pegs 21 back to peg 3.
-knit pegs.
-EWK peg 4
-Purl pegs 5 through peg 21.
-EWK peg 22.
-e-wrap pegs 21 through peg 1.
-knit pegs with 2 loops.
-EWK peg 2.
-purl pegs 3 through peg 22.
-e-wrap pegs 23 and 24.
-e-wrap pegs 23 back to peg 1.
-knit pegs with 2 loops.
-EWK peg 2.
-purl pegs 3 through peg 24.
-Your Brim is now done!  Do not cast off, continue with pattern below!

-Chain cast on all pegs around loom, placing loop on last empty peg.
-EWK one row.

-*knit one peg (keep all knitting loose, so you can move loops easily)
-Move the next loop (from the following peg) to the next peg.
-e-wrap the empty peg.
-purl peg with 2 loops (using the 2 loops as one at top of peg).
-knit next peg.
-Begin again at * all the way around loom.  This is one row/round.
-Repeat above sequence from * to * for (6) rows. Do not interrupt pattern at end of row just continue   around as if the row didn't end but make note of it as one row!  The pattern will swirl around hat this way.

-Now, EWK 26 rows.
-Decrease crown by moving peg 1 to peg 2, peg 3 to peg 4, peg 5 to peg 6 and so on all the way around.
-knit pegs with 2 loops.
-gathered bind off.
-Weave in all ends.
-Felt your hat!

Felt hat using any method you would like.  I use my dryer and there are instructions for that Here: Lessons in Dryer Felting!  I also felted it in two stages.  I stretched the body out with a dinner plate and let it dry after the first felting.  Try the hat on occasionally (yes your head will get wet but it's the only way to check for size).  The hat should be able to flop forward while fitting snug around brim and along back! I thought it was still bigger than I wanted so I felted it again and used a salad plate inside the hat on the second drying.  BE CAREFUL: felting is permanent and the second felting only took 10 minutes in the dryer. It went much faster the second time around!!


Disclaimer:  I have made every effort to ensure that these instructions are accurate and complete.  I cannot, however, be responsible for human error, typographical mistakes, or variations in individual work. These are test patterns and are for personal use only.  Knit at your own risk. Do Not print, copy or share these patterns. 

Copyright, 2014, Nicole F. Cox,, all rights reserved.

Here's a cute idea for Valentines to give to teachers, students in your childrens' class and neighbors...

At Christmas I made friends and neighbors the birdseed wreaths and was thrilled at how well received they were.  When it came time to start thinking about what I was going to make my nephews for Valentines Day, I thought of those wreaths.  I could imagine how delighted the kids would be hanging little birdseed hearts out in the yard and waiting for the little birds to come and eat them.  I used the same recipe as for the wreaths but instead of using one big Bundt pan, I used small donut pans (for friendship wreaths) and a heart cookie cutter.

To Make Hearts:
-Make Birdseed Wreath Recipe.
-Spray cookie cutter lightly with Pam or baking spray
-Immediately start packing mixture into cookie cutters or donut pans.
-Remove cookie cutter immediately.  If using donut pans (leave mixture in pan and follow directions for wreaths on recipe page)
-Place hearts in refrigerator for about 25 minutes on baking sheet AFTER using straw to make hole (for hanging)  See Below...
-I held a straw to the side of one of the hearts so that I would have a hole to place a hanger through.  I used red and white curling ribbon as the hangers.  The little friendship wreaths had a natural hole in the center for the hanger.  The recipe made enough hearts for an entire classroom but you would probably need to double the recipe if making the friendship wreaths for a class.  Make sure to pack the birdseed tight so it holds together, just follow the instructions in the original recipe!  They dry very fast since they are smaller.
Here is the recipe:  Birdseed Wreath Recipe/How to

To finish each "Valentine" I cut up old white Christmas boxes (they have a pretty white coating) to provide protection for the birdseed.  I used decorative scissors to give it a pretty edge.  I placed the cardboard into a candy bag, then one heart or friendship wreath and a few red & silver Hershey kisses.  I cut pretty red scrapbook paper to 8 1/2 x 11" so it would fit through my printer and printed tags that said; "Happy Valentines Day, Glad you're part of my flock."; "Happy Valentines Day, Birds of a feather flock together."; and "Happy Valentines Day, Here's a friendship ring for you and your feathered friends."  Use a pretty font for this step!  I tied the bag off with the tag and more curling ribbon.
#birdseedvalentines #valentinecrafts #valentinespartyideas #valentinesdaycrafts

They came out adorable and are a little different then just plain candy Valentines.  Although I did throw in a little candy for the kids so they wouldn't be disappointed!  I love animals and nature and this project is a good way to help children connect with the wildlife in their backyard.
My husband and I couldn't resist and hung some on our small maple tree...the birds loved it!


copyright, 2014,, all rights reserved.

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