Country Cozy Afghan, free pattern (archived) by Caron. Pic from Ravelry Project Gallery. Pretty textures with simple stitches - DC, V-stitch, & granny clusters. Open stitch pattern would be nice for warmer weather.
a nice way to join squares - reverse single crochet (or crab stitch), the trick is to use the back loop (put wrong sides together) and catch only the back loop on the square facing you and the first loop and the square facing away.
Free Pattern - Crochet Snowflake Hotpad Potholder dishcloth (there is a link on site to Ravelry and a link there to another site for pattern). Great idea for little gifts for next Christmas. Even for teachers, maybe.