Jackatessa's Blog

This is a collection of recipes, canning projects, crochet, crafts, cakes, and anything else I find interesting!

Shark Cocoon Blanket


This is a very long overdue post to go along with the Mermaid Tail Blanket that I posted right before this one.  I made this for my cute little nephew, Kolton Lee, as a Christmas present.  I made his sister the Mermaid Tail and I wanted to find a boy version.   While I think that boys can absolutely have a mermaid tail, which is what he would have gotten if I hadn’t found this, I am so glad that I came across this pattern.

The thing about these cocoons is that yes, they are FAST to work up, but they do take a lot of yarn.  Personally I would rather use more yarn and finish my project quicker though!  I lucked out and had this pattern picked out in time for me to hit the Black Friday sale at Walmart, so I found the yarn that I needed for only $2 a skein instead of it’s usual $4.  I believe that I ended up using 11 skeins total. It was Lion’s Brand, the super chunky stuff. I think that if I were to make this again (and oh, I totally will be), that I would try it with three strands of Red Heart worsted weight yarn.  While the Lion’s Brand is incredibly soft, it also made it HEAVY!  My arms were getting tired turning the blanket over and over and over!  That is another reason that I will use worsted weight next time.   I found the buttons that I used for the eyes at Walmart for $1 or $2 a piece.  I also used two strands of regular worsted weight, Red Heart yarn for the teeth and gums.  Easy peasy!


The pattern that I used was one that I would highly recommend– MJ’s Bulky & Quick Shark Blanket.  I know that some people balk at the idea of paying for patterns, but I really think that you can tell a difference in the end product in a pattern that you have paid for and one that you can get for free.  Not always!  But sometimes, I think it is 100% worth it to pay the little bit for the pattern to get a more professional look.

As far as the pattern itself, I followed it exactly.  it worked up extremely quick, within 4 or 5 hours from start to finish.  The only thing that I would change if I were to do it again would be to change the placement of the fin :-).  While Kolton didn’t think anything of it, the adults all had a little snicker at it. Also, you might notice that his feet looked pretty squished in there.  That’s because this little guy likes to wear his boots about 3 sizes too big!  lol.  He clunk clunk clunks around in a pair of boots that were meant for his sister, and he doesn’t care a bit!


I actually plan to work one or two of these up to take with me in my farmer’s market and craft booth this year.  I hope they sell well!

Pattern HERE.

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Mermaid Tail Blanket

“Once upon a time, in a far away place named Kansas, a (very pretty, if I do say so myself) auntie decided to make her munchkin niece and nephews some fun Christmas presents out of crochet.  She searched high and low all over the internet until she came across this fun blanket idea.  She knew that it would be the absolute perfect gift for her pretty little niece, so she set out to find the perfect yarn and got to work…”



No, but for real, as soon as I saw these mermaid blankets spring up all over the internet, I knew that my niece would just love one.  That was the start of the idea to make the three of them their very own cocoon blankets.  After reading all about the patterns, everyone was saying how expensive the yarn would be (around $40), but I was lucky enough to be given some yarn after my Great Aunt Fern passed away earlier this year.  I remembered seeing this yarn in the boxes and thought it would be the perfect palette for a mermaid tail!!


It was called Red Heart Jewel, and I used a variegated yarn with purple, turquoise, and pink in it, a matching purple, and the matching turquoise.  Since it was not bulky weight yarn like they suggested, I just used 3 strands of the regular worsted weight.  It worked like a charm! All together, it took me 7 skeins per tail….if I were to buy Red Heart at Walmart @ $2.97 each, that means I would only pay about $25 in yarn.  Much better than the $40 for the bulky yarn, in my opinion.  I know some people don’t care for Red Heart because it isn’t the softest, but I’ve found that after a few washes it is just fine.


Since I was coming out of the end of my craft show season,  I had been working on every other order/project under the sun but these Christmas gifts.  It was really starting to get to me and I was afraid that I wasn’t going to get them all done!  The great thing about it was that this worked up SO QUICK.  Like, I was completely done in less than 4 hours.  The biggest complaint/not really a complaint/first world problems is that my arms got soooo tired from having to lift and switch it over and work the giant hook.  Sad, I know.  But in my defense, I had been crocheting nonstop for a month straight.


The yarn looked so pretty in these colors, and it almost had a shimmery look to it (as you can see below).  Not really sparkles, but it didn’t look like regular yarn either.  Either way, it was a perfect mermaid tail, and I knew she would love the way it turned out.



One thing about it though, is that the blanket is a pretty thick one with using so much yarn (or using a bulky yarn), so it is HEAVY.  If that turns you off of making this, I wonder if you could increase a size and just use two strands?  Or just use two strands and keep the same size?  Hmmmm……if you have done either let me know.


**Tip for the tail– after I had it completely crocheted and was getting ready to sew it on, I took the end that I was attaching and used my needle and put a string through the entire piece, leaving a longish tail on the one end (but don’t tie it off.  Then I just tightened the tail on the string until it was the same size as the end of the tail, then I just attached it by sewing it on.  That way it was the perfect ruched look and was nice and even!


They were so fast that I finished them all three in two days, so I had time to whip up another one!  Good thing there was a lot of yarn in that box!


I used the same base colors and just changed the color of the tail/border to the turquoise.


I used MJ’s Off The Hook Designs Bulky and Quick Mermaid Blanket.  It is SO WORTH IT to pay for this pattern!  I have seen quite a few from free patterns online, but I don’t think they look as professional as these do.  It is not confusing at all, and there are photos that you can use.


I love that it makes a cocoon for their feet and it’s not just a blanket that lays over them.  They can actually get IN the blanket.


She loved it by the way :-).


Any ideas on what we are going to talk about next??



If you are not into making your own, but would like a mermaid tail of your own and would like to order one from me, feel free to comment or shoot me an email at brainiac512@yahoo.com   .

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Project Idea: Methodist Afghan

Happy Monday everybody!  I survived the weekend, and the fair was AWESOME this year, if I do say so myself.  I think everyone was happy that there was a lot to do and a lot to eat :-)!  I didn’t enter a whole lot of items in the Open Class divisions this year, but I did a few photos and entered THIS afghan (Ainsley let me borrow it as long as I would give her my ribbon if I won lol).   I did end up getting a blue on the afghan, and I got two reds on a couple of photos I took.  One of my nephew Kolton playing in a creek, and one of my sister’s family that we took out in a field.  So I was pretty happy!

HOWEVER.  Ainsley won SIX ribbons- 4 white and 2 red- in the photography division, and all but one of them were in the ADULT division.  She is five years old!  Sheesh.  I think she even beat me in a category…..smh.  She also placed on her craft she entered (blue), her ‘eggs and bacon’ candy (red), and got honorable mention on a little beaded bracelet she made.  She won a whole $13 and could not be more excited.  Cracks me up…

Now on to the purpose of this post.  Later today we are heading to Wichita for a few days- Nate’s mom is having some pretty major, scary surgery, so we want to be there for her.  That means a lot of time in the waiting room.  So I thought now would be the perfect time to start a new project, to help keep my mind off of the situation.

I found THIS pattern last fall, but never had a chance to actually make it.  My dad is a Methodist pastor, so I thought it would be a good idea to make it and give it to him for Christmas last year.  Well, that didn’t happen, so I thought, ok, I’ll make it for his birthday (on Valentine’s Day).  That didn’t happen either.  So here’s hoping that I might get it finished (or hell, even started!) for Christmas this year!

This is what the website shows that the pattern looks like when it’s completed-


I will make it larger than the baby blanket size, but I’m not sure yet how big I will go.  My dad is 6’6″, so it will be bigger than what I would make for myself, let’s just put it that way.

I’ve never done a ‘counting’ stitch afghan like this, so I am going to watch a few youtube tutorials and see if I can’t get it figured out.  I love that it is just a simple single crochet, so that should be easy to follow.  I’m thinking though, that instead of having about 8 trillion little ends to stitch in at the end, that I should try to weave them into the stitches while crocheting the next row above them.  It worked in my dream last night.  Yes, I was dreaming about starting this blanket.  Or maybe I was dreaming about finishing it lol!  I also thought that I might start working a double crochet for the border, so that it won’t be so heavy when it’s finished.  I want him to actually use it to keep warm, but not to suffocate lol, and that would be ALOT of yarn!  He doesn’t have any idea that I am planning to do this, so I’m hoping it will be a fun surprise at Christmas.

I will share with you all when I get it finished!


Have you ever done something like this?   Any tips?

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Pineapple Sweet Rolls


So a few weeks ago I shared a pin on my Pinworthy Thursday for Pineapple Sweet Rolls.  Well I immediately went out and bought the stuff I would need to make them….and then got sick.  Then I used the pineapple to make strawberry pineapple jam.  So here I am two or three weeks later with no sweet rolls.  I decided last night that I was making them no matter what!  So I stopped at the store, grabbed a can of crushed pineapple, and whipped them up while I was cooking dinner (it was chicken helper so it wasn’t like it was really involved).


The recipe is extremely easy to follow and doesn’t take many ingredients, and the few that it does take, most people have them on hand.

The filling was just a few ingredients dumped into a pot, then cooked until nice and thick.  It literally took less than 5 minutes, and that included getting everything out of the pantry.   I found my hot roll mix at my local grocery store for a few dollars– it was Pillsbury brand, and it made a beautiful dough that I will most definitely be using again.


I do have a little tip– she says that it will be super messy to make.  Mine wasn’t too bad, actually, because after I had it all rolled out and ready to be cut, I used a big knife and did I quick cut to make the 8 rolls, then I used a rubber spatula and my hand and kind of ‘scooped’ them into the pan.  I didn’t have any filling left on my counter at ALL!

I also liked that the rolls raised so quickly.  I set my timer for 20 minutes, then put my pan of rolls next to my stove (dinner was ready by then).  I would say they almost doubled in size!  Here is what they looked like at the beginning–


And then after they raised, they filled the pan!


I was seriously impressed!  The icing was super easy, although I think next time I will just make a half batch of it.  I iced them pretty liberally and still had half of it left in the bowl.


Now, for the taste.  These rolls were FABULOUS.  The dough is super soft and the filling is sweet, but not too sweet.  I really liked that it had the little bit of cinnamon in the filling, too.  It smells SO GOOD (obviously) while they are baking!

I would say that this recipe is quick enough that you could make it and bake it in the morning and have it ready for breakfast.  It was done within an hour, start to finish!  This would be a really good recipe to make for Christmas morning, too.  Because really, who WOULDN’T want a sweet roll for breakfast?!  Not only that, but you will impress everyone with your mad sweet roll making skills.


I took one up to my mom and she loved it too.  So I think I impressed her…which means I can mark that off my list of things to do for today ;-).

I am actually pretty excited to use this as a base for other sweet rolls– I am planning to make a strawberry version tonight, and also a regular cinnamon roll version.  I will share those with you if they turn out!!

Ok, I think that’s all that I had to share with  you about them.  Have you ever made sweet rolls?  What is your favorite flavor?


Recipe HERE!



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Gift Guide 2013

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?  I am actually one of those people who shop all year long and then keep things in my closet waiting for Christmas.  But not so much this year.  I only have a few gifts bought, with a pretty long list left to go!  But I have people asking ME all the time what I’d like, so I thought I’d just write it all down in list form.  I like lists :-).  Now, to be honest, some of these are like, never gonna happen, but hey a girl can dream, right?  I’m pretty much the easiest person to shop for because I love EVERYTHING!  You can’t go wrong with candles, body wash, lotion, those kitschy gift sets at Walmart… yeah, I like them ALL.  And it’s hard for me not to buy them for everyone on my list.  Because HELLO?!  It’s all, like, packaged up so cute and all right there.  How fun!

So, for Christmas 2013, here is my wish list!



First up, Bath and Body Works candles.  These are always a win for me.  I wait until they go on sale for the 2 for $22, because I’m not paying $20 for a candle.  But these are amazing!  I am cinnamon/baked goods/fruity girl, and I don’t care for the ‘musky’ scents.  At all.  Gross.



I wouldn’t hate to get any of their gift sets either.  I mean, since you’re already there and all….




Ralph Lauren Romance perfume.  This has been my signature scent since high school.  I usually use my birthday money and get one every year, right as my other is running out.  Didn’t happen this year, so I’ve been out for months.  None of the other perfumes I’ve tried cut it.  This is ME in a bottle.


th (4)


The Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette just came out.  It’s gorgeous.  And sold out.  I don’t own any of the Naked palettes, but they are supposed to be some of the best palettes around.


thFiesta Covered Casserole.  My love is Fiestaware is deep.  I scour thrift stores for inexpensive pieces and have a whole collection of small plates.  My MIL gifted me with 4 place settings for Valentine’s day this year and I am hoping to slowly add to my collection.  This covered casserole is beautiful.  And expensive.



Fiesta 4 piece Place Setting.  I want to get a nice array of colors. Chris’ granny would get out her stack of fiesta ware plates to use on the holidays and it would just look like a rainbow.  I loved it and hope that I have that one day.

th (1)Hobby Lobby is my happy place.  A gift card and a couple hours to shop?  Hello heaven, here I am!

th (2)


I’m thinking some skeins of pretty yarn would make an awesome stocking stuffer for a crocheter like me!  🙂



The Clarisonic Mia 2 Facial Cleaner.  Want want want!  This is supposed to be great for people with dry skin, which I have.  It’s also $150!!  Wowza.  Again, a girl can dream.

What are some things on your Christmas list this year?  I know these sound like a lot and some are expensive, but again, I’m happy with anything.  I just appreciate the thought behind a gift, and I love to GIVE gifts.  There isn’t much in this world that makes me happier than seeing someone open and LOVE a gift I’ve gotten them!  I am hoping to work on some Christmas gifts next week while I’m on vacation.  I’ll share them with you if I can get any done!

And, as a shameless plug, if you are needed a fun, customized gift for anyone on your list, visit my etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/brainiac512  for some ideas!  I am happy to do any custom order, with quick turnaround.  Thanks!



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Strawberry Pineapple Jam


So.  This recipe.  Yeah, it’s fan-freaking-tastic!  I made a batch of this strawberry pineapple jam this summer to take to the farmer’s market and sell.  It definitely did!!  I immediately made another batch, which again sold out, and I even had a lady buy an ENTIRE batch of it!988225_10151461731876314_1190306794_n

The strawberries are ridonkulously good, and I love that they pair it with the pineapple.  It’s not something that you see everyday, which I think people liked.  I know that this would be fabulous on some vanilla ice cream.  But then again, you just can’t beat it on a hot biscuit with butter.


The recipe is super simple, and it will definitely be a part of my rotation next summer too.  I’m thinking one more batch before the winter, so I can actually put some in my OWN pantry 😉  .   I also think this would be a nice addition to my Christmas baskets, but we will see.  There’s another strawberry jam recipe that I will be sharing soon (as soon as I get pictures!!) that everyone raves about, too.


Recipe here.

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My Tree

I just thought I’d share a few pictures of my ‘big’ Christmas tree.  This year I have three up, a little one in my kitchen, a 6 footer in the dining room that I put all of our personal ornaments on, and then we have this monster.


It is a 9 foot, prelit tree.  It seems crazy but it doesn’t look that big here…but we have 12 foot ceilings, so everything looks small lol.

I set it up in our living room and use red, white, silver, gold, and poinsetta ornaments.  And glitter.  Loooots of glitter :-).  I actually upped the glitter this year by buying lots of fun new picks from Hobby Lobby.


LOVE IT!  This tree is BEYOND sparkly!!  I love to just sit in the dark and look at it.





I am trying this for my new topper this year.  They are shiny, sparkly, red picks from Hob Lob.  My sister hates them, but I thin they are fun!!


Pop (or Soda) Jelly


I made this jelly and have put it in Christmas baskets for the past two years.  Everyone really likes it and finds their favorite ‘flavor’.  I have made Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Coke, Mountain Dew (that makes an awesome color!), and I even did a Cranberry Sierra Mist when it was available.  My sister had me do a basket for her boyfriend’s mom, and I put one of the Cranberry Sierra Mist in there– she absolutely loved it!!  That flavor is a nice berry type and it is a very pretty jelly, too.So my sister asked me to make her a batch that she could take back and let her stock up since she lives a couple hours away.   This jelly whips up super easy- hello, just pop the top and pour!  Experiment and see what flavor is your favorite.

Click for Recipe from The American Homemaker.


Jolly Rancher Vodka


Hey all!  I know it’s been a few days, I’ve been doing some travelling for work and I feel like I just can’t get caught back up lol!  So I actually just finished a set of this Jolly Rancher Vodka and HAD to share it with you!!  It’s for a friend who is celebrating her 21st birthday tonight!!  I needed a fun, cute and cheaper gift idea that she would love, and I wanted it to involve alcohol.  I had pinned this on Pinterest, that used skittles and vodka, that I wanted to do, but while I was searching the candy aisle I happened to see bags of Jolly Ranchers (for only $1 each) and thought it would work better!!  You have to strain the ones with skittles a few times and I didn’t think you would have to with the other, and I knew I wouldn’t have much time to put this together, so I thought it would work PERFECT!

So off I went to the liquor store, planning to get plain little bottles of vodka, when I found these Smirnoff with Coconut and the Smirnoff Fluffed Marshmallow!  How fun!  I got 5 bottles (@ $1.25 each).

When I got home, I got out 5 different bowls/tupperware and started unwrapping and separating each flavor.  I had cherry, watermelon, green apple, grape, and I ended up just one blue raspberry, so I added it to the grape, and had a TON of watermelon, so I made another one of those.  Then I just poured my little bottles of vodka right over them and put the lids on!

I let them sit for probably 18 hours, stirring a few times, just to get the candy moving.  If you have longer, let them sit until the candy has completely dissolved.  Then just use a funnel and pour your candy vodka back into the bottles!  There will be a little bit extra, so don’t just pour it all in at once or you will have a mess.  You can keep the extra in the containers, or just pour them all together and have a mixed fruit cocktail.

To package them up, I just put them all in a cellophane bag, making sure to have all the labels pointed out.  Tie the top with a piece of curling ribbon.  Then tie on some more ribbon, I used 6 pieces in varying lengths to start with, and tied it all the way around, so the ribbon circled the whole package.

To curl your ribbon, place the ribbon between your thumb and the opened blade of your scissors.


Press firmly, and move your hand and scissors the length of the ribbon.  You have to do it kind of fast, and it should make a pretty curl like this.

Just curl all the ribbon, adding more if you need to, and you are done!  A cute, fun, inexpensive gift!!! Not to mention pretty– just look at those colors!!

And the extra that didn’t fit back in the bottles?  Well it’s pretty good mixed with a bit of Sprite or 7UP.  Cheers!


Grapefruit Jelly

Isn’t that a gorgeous jelly??  It’s an even prettier orangey pink in person!  It’s a jar of Grapefruit Jelly, and it. is. delicious.  It’s sweet, it’s tangy, and dare I say, it’s sparkly? lol  I know that sounds crazy, but that’s just what I think when I eat it.  I gave away/sold every single jar of this first batch within 5 hours of making it, and I still have people wanting it!!  It’s a very simple recipe that won’t take you any time at all.  You need to know the basics of making jelly, which I went into a little more in depth in this post.  I used Ruby Red Grapefruit juice from the $ Tree for this, and it was wonderful, so I wouldn’t spend a lot getting a name brand.  I packaged some of these up and gave them away in Christmas baskets, too, and my littlest sister, who is heading back to college tomorrow (sad face 😦 ) is taking a jar with her because she likes to dip crackers in it!  Weird, I know, but I’ll bet this, served over cream cheese at a party would be gone in no time flat.  Let me know what you think!!!

Grapefruit Jelly

3 1/2 cups grapefruit juice (I got mine from $ Tree)

1 package powdered pectin

4 cups sugar

Combine the grapefruit juice and powdered pectin in a large, heavy bottomed pot and bring to a boil on high heat.

Remove from heat and add sugar all at once, whisking to incorporate.

Return to heat.  Bring back to a full rolling boil.  Let boil for one minute.

Remove from heat.   Skim off any foam and ladle into hot, sterilized jars.  Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove from water.  Let sit at room temperature (on a dishtowel) for 24 hours, making sure the jars have sealed.