Inspiration Cafe's 1st Guest Post ~ Welcome Mellywood's Mansion!

Evening All,

I'm Mel and you can usually find me at my blog Mellywood's Mansion, where I fumble my around the house trying my hand at DIY.  Sometimes I do well and other times I don't. Almost every project comes with a story, which, between the lines reads, I really shouldn't be legally allowed to call myself a DIY Blogger.

However I am so excited to be serving up some fun for you here at the Inspiration Cafe, and I'm not going to lie, the whole thing has left me a nervous wreck.

On the menu today, is my ruffle scarf specialty.

I'm going to confess, I love scarves, fabric scarves are pretty but I love nothing more, than buying the latest winter yarns and click-clacking up some fun.

My latest obsession - The Ruffle Scarf.

These scarves look amazing and are so simple, even if you are a beginner knitter you can whip one of these up in a jiffy.

1 ball of yarn (there are many different brands, but research suggeststhat Boutique Sashay Yarn can be purchased anywhere. I found it for sale here ) I used a $2 ball I found in store at Riot.
6mm needles or Size 10 for the U.S.

Now the instructions can be very confusing, if your lucky enough to get them, but it's really simple. So beware lots of pictures, but once you get it, you'll be pumping these out by the dozen.

Casting on, now this is where it is different than your normal knitting, first you need to pull apart the wool, like this. Don't try to do the whole ball, just do it a bit at a time

Then, leaving a very short tail (about an inch - 1.5 inch) weave the yarn through every SECOND hole, at the top of the yarn. The top is the side that does not have a nice finished edge. So basically there is no yarn over, it's just putting the needle through the ready made holes.

Do this until you have 6 loops.

Then grab your second needle and just like you would normally knit, put the needle in your right hand through the first loop on the left hand needle. Leave a one hole space and place the next hole onto the right hand needle like so.

The pull it over the top of the loop, as you would do when knittingwith regular yarn.

Repeat this, and every few rows gently tug on the scarf, this pullsout the ruffles.

Don't be too concerned if your yarn rolls, like this

Continue until you have approximately 10 inches of yarn left

Cast off using the same method, knit two loops, then take the 1st loop (the one furthest from the needle point) and lift it over the 2nd loop and drop it off. Continue to the last loop. Then grab what's left of the tail, bring it through the last loop and tightly tie it off in a knot - this will be hidden by the last ruffle.

Trim the tails, hold it in the middle to make sure the ends are even,and there you have it, one ruffled scarf.

Now I'm not going to lie, I have about 6 of these in all different colors, Love them!

Here's the blue one.

Thanks for reading and to all the ladies from Inspiration Cafe for having me. I must go now because apparently I have to wash all the coffee cups, left sitting on the table, here at the cafe.

Mel xo

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Inspiration Cafe ~ Round 3 Wrapup

 Hello Inspiration Cafe readers... Its time to wrap up round 3!

You will notice some big changes coming up very soon. We are very excited and we hope you will be joining us for more!

First off though, we are rapt that Sherry from Pondered Primed Perfected
has decided to rejoin us after taking a short blogging break. It just wouldn't be the same without her, so welcome back Sherry....

In this last round, Sherry took a break so we have 4 fun projects to share with you in case you missed them the first time:

1 Easy Wrap Bracelet by Natalie from NorthShore Days
2. Baked Apple Tortilla Rolls by Mary from Sweet Little Bluebird
3. House Haunts by Heather from The Beating Heart
4. Four for Fall by Danni from Silo Hill Farm

Now, the 5 of us are taking a week or two off to implement our changes and get a whole new Inspiration Cafe makeover....

So this coming Monday we have a very special guest, sharing an awesome craft. You do not want to miss Mel from Mellywood's Mansion.

Please pop on over and visit her this weekend and give her some Inspiration Cafe love.

And finally - check out our fab Facebook badge - our Mary designed it! And while you're checking it out, don't forget to "like" us too


 Have a great weekend and we will see you all on Monday with Mel

Take care


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Inspiration Cafe ~ Danni from Silo Hill Farm

Welcome friends and Happy Monday! 
Hope your weekend was fabulous. 
We had a great weekend here in the Pacific NW enjoying the mild, sunny weather before it slips away. 
Welcome back to Danni, from Silo Hill Farm!

Welcome Inspiration Cafe Patrons!  It's Danni from Silo Hill Farm today.  Fall is upon us here in the Midwest and with the change in the season comes some changes here at the cafe.  We are considering adding an occasional guest poster to our menu, so if you think you might like to give that a try, just contact any one of our wonderful Inspiration Cafe contributors and let them know!  
Today, I have two fun and easy projects for you, plus a few quick ways to spruce up some of your old fall decor.  Let's start with this:
Last year I had this half pumpkin and although I thought it was really cool in the store....when I brought it home and hung it on my wall....
It just had zero pizazz and I was not lovin it.  This year I decided to cute it up a little and give it some presence.
I found these little leaves in the dollar bin at Michael's and thought they just might do the trick.
Now you don't have to have a half pumpkin to do this, it would be lovely on a regular foam pumpkin or, if you're ambitious and trust yourself with sharp instruments, you can cut a foam pumpkin in half.  Either way, just lay out your leaves the way you think they might look best.

I set my pumpkin in a colander to keep it stable while I worked.  Using white glue, adhere your leaves to the foam pumpkin and add whatever trimmings you like.  I used  some small bittersweet berries.  Easy as pumpkin pie!  Much better don't you think?
Now, because I was happy with this little makeover, I looked around and found a few other things that I thought I could spruce up a bit.
I had an oil candle that just had a ribbon tied around it.  Boring.  I added a few faux leaves from an old garland and a sparkly gem and voila....
Suddenly it has come to life with no money spent.  My favorite kind of project for sure!
Now I'm just looking for more easy, "use what I have" projects.  I'm not a huge fan of raffia, and I've had some for years that I've never used.  Cutting raffia can be a mess and it seems to go everywhere when I use it.  I just looped a bunch of it together and tied it together in the middle with some wire.
 Then I cut open each end of the loop on both sides and trimmed it down to a smaller size.  I wired a piece of bittersweet to hang down from the center and added a little ribbon bow to the center to hide the wire.  
It reminds me of mistletoe.  Autumn Mistletoe...not a bad idea!
If you are a regular follower, you might remember earlier this week I was lucky enough to receive some beautiful buckeyes from Mary at Sweet Little Bluebird.  I have been scattering them all over my fall decor because they are just so much fun!  I had a little mini-vase and I put some of the buckeyes in it and added small pieces of bittersweet.
 This is just a tiny little vase, sitting on an old ceramic insulator that I wrapped in a piece of garden twine.  I can think of several places in my home that have room for something tiny and fall-ish.  Sometimes when something is so simple and beautiful, it doesn't need to make a big statement.  
Pretty much the only money I spent on these four little makeovers was the leaves I got in the dollar bin at Michael's.  Not bad, huh?
The moral of this post is shop local....real local...like your own home!  Sometimes a "fresh coat of paint on the old barn door" looks pretty cute!

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The Happiness Agenda ~ The Definition of Happiness

      Definition of happiness

Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.  A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources. Various research groups, including Positive psychology, endeavor to apply the scientific method to answer questions about what "happiness" is, and how we might attain it.
Philosophers and religious thinkers often define happiness in terms of living a good life, or flourishing, rather than simply as an emotion.

Balloons are almost a guarantee of happiness with children.  Happy Children = Happy Me

Happiness is the easiest emotion to feel, the most difficult to define, and the hardest to create intentionally.  ~Norman Cousins
Being caught up in a moment of pure abandonment while playing = happiness.  Leave it to balloons!

The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness.  You have to catch it yourself.  ~Ben Franklin
Getting surprised with a special treat for a special occasion...Mmmmm...sweet happiness.

It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.  ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon

How will we catch onto and hold happiness?

Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.  ~Aristotle
source: http://www.behappy4life.com/happinessquotes.html

Post-its for my next project. 
Being organized and on top of things definitely brings me happiness.

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort. 
~Franklin D. Roosevelt

 * Sneak Peak *
Finished projects make me happy...especially if the project helps me be more organized.

happy  (ˈhæpɪ)
adj  , -pier , -piest
feeling, showing, or expressing joy; pleased
willing: I'd be happy to show you around
causing joy or gladness
fortunate; lucky: the happy position of not having to work
aptly expressed; appropriate: a happy turn of phrase
informal  ( postpositive ) slightly intoxicated

What makes you happy?
I hope you are touched with many moments of happiness today and all through your weekend!

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Spicy Mango Shrimp Saute


I've been attempting a wheat/gluten free week.  I'm trying to find solutions to a lack of energy I've been feeling lately.  There are some pretty obvious factors that are affecting me:  stress & insomnia to name a couple.  Otherwise, I think  I'm doing pretty good with my lifestyle. 

I exercise 3-5 days a week. 

I eat fairly healthy:  lots of fresh fruits & veggies, lean proteins, whole wheats, light on the sweets & desserts. 

I do love my morning coffee with cream, chocolate treats, an occasional alcoholic beverage, and I love cheese!

So beyond reducing stress, getting more sleep and cutting out all of my favorite things (yeah, right!)...what can I do to increase my energy level?  I thought I'd try a little experiment this week and cut out wheat products completely.  Next week I'm hoping to attempt cutting out dairy.  I have just been hearing and reading so much about the affects of wheat and dairy on our bodies so I thought I'd give it a try.

Three days in and I haven't noticed that I've gained any real substantial energy yet, but I've lost three pounds!  WooHoo!!!  Bonus!  :)  I'll keep you posted on how the rest of the week goes.  I'll try to keep updates on FACEBOOK too, if you follow me there...if not please do. 

Today I whipped up some Spicy Mango Shrimp for lunch.  It was delicious and went a long way in helping me NOT feel deprived with the lack of wheat products.


Spicy Mango Shrimp Saute

Shrimp ~ I used Waterfront Bistro 51/60 ct. cooked and frozen
Peppers & Onions ~ I used a bag of frozen red & green peppers & onions
Spicy Mango Marinade ~ K.C. Masterpiece
Olive Oil

Boil water and cook shrimp just long enough to heat through. (Please follow heating directions on package if you use frozen uncooked shrimp).
Put a Tablespoon (more or less) of Olive Oil in saute pan ~ saute peppers and onions until cooked and soft.
Add shrimp and spicy mango marinade, I used enough for one serving of each.  
Stir and saute for a couple of minutes. 
Plate, Serve & Enjoy

Eating Healthy makes me feel happy!

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Spicy Mango Salsa Recipe ~ Homemade Goodness

I love salsa.

Spicy salsa ~

Chunky salsa ~

Burn-your-tongue hot salsa!

I've even been known to go out to our favorite Mexican restaurant JUST to get some of their warm-from-the-oven-fresh chips and salsa.  (Okay, so I probably had a margarita too.)

Store bought salsa is okay...but...homemade is so much better.  And when you make it yourself you can cater to your own personal taste preferences.  I like spicy, but I also like my salsa a tiny bit sweet, so that's where the Mango comes in.

Here's my "recipe"... you won't find exact measurements here because I literally throw it together and adjust as I go.  Really, it's easy and you probably can't go wrong:


I canned this batch of salsa so I did a hot water/cold water bath to remove the tomato skins.  *Immerse tomatoes in boiling hot water and then quickly in cold water and the skins peel right off amazingly easy.  *Don't leave the tomatoes in hot water for more than a few seconds or you'll cook 'em!

    After the skin is removed dice the tomatoes (I used a big mixing bowl full of tomatoes for this batch)...

    ...and the onions (about 1/2 large sweet white used)...

    ...chop the cilantro ~ it's not salsa without cilantro in my book...
    (I used 1/2 a bunch)

    ...dice the jalapenos (use gloves please!!!) and leave some seeds if you like spicy hot or remove the seeds if you like mild...

    ...mince a clove or two of garlic (I used 2)...

    ...I said I like my salsa a little sweet, right?  I added about a Tablespoon of sugar to up that sweet factor.  Sometimes I just add a packet of zero calorie sweetener...it's up to you, it's your salsa, remember!?

    Since I was canning this batch I submerged my canning jars in boiling hot water to sterilize.

    I put my salsa ingredients into my big skillet/saute pan and simmered...including a couple pinches of salt, the juice of a lime or two, and see the added mango...that's the secret ingredient here!  ;)

    I simmered the salsa on med-low for a couple of hours to reduce the liquid and very important ~ since I was canning this batch I needed the ingredients to be cooked.

    Once it was done simmering I ladled it into my jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of head space.  I wiped the rims of the jars to make sure they were clean and followed this canning tutorial from Pamela the Canning Granny

    (I'm fairly new to canning so I just followed her expert advice!)

    This is great on burritos, nachos, tacos, as a dressing on taco salad, omelets, quesadillas, or just as a dip with corn or pita chips...especially those warm-from-the-oven-fresh kind  ;)  If you aren't up for canning you can prepare all of the same ingredients fresh and skip the cooking/canning part.  It will keep in the fridge for a few days of fresh salsa goodness.  Mine never lasts more than a few days...it gets gobbled up quick.  :)

    Enjoy some spice in your life!

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