Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bezzie Exclusives!

Look what was waiting for me in the mail on Wednesday:

Yarn magnets A

Need to look closer?

Yarn Magnets B

Yarn magnets! Last week Bezzie had debuted her yarn thumbtacks for the Sock Summit, and I had suggested yarn magnets as well. In my office, most of us have white boards and other magnetic surfaces - so look what she made for me! I had to admit, a very unprofessional "Squee!" came out of my mouth when I opened up the package.

Thank you, Bezzie!

I have to say, though - maybe Willow has opened up another sideline business for you - making magnets of things for kids to make pictures with...

WiP It Wednesday (or, Miles of Green 2 X 2 Ribbing)

Well. Prepared to be underwhelmed by my WiPs. Hope you like green. And 2 X 2 ribbing. 'Cause that's all I have on the menu today.

The Cucumber Socks:

Cucmber Socks 7.29.09

I'm at a turning point with the second sock - I am within millimetres of getting to the heel flap - then the sock goes much faster from there.

Tara's Armwarmers:

Tara's Armwarmers 7.29.09

I have knit past the thumb opening on the second armwamer - and that is the slowest part of this project, so this will be smooth sailing from here.

Olympic Vest for Stitches East:

Olympic hoodie back 7.29.09

It doesn't look like much yet, does it? Well, it will closely approximate this when finished:

Olympic hoodie 7.29.09

This will be the fourth time I have gone to Stitches East, but the first I am planning to make something to wear while there. I'm always interested to see what other people have made - hopefully this will turn out! I bought the yarn at last year's Baltimore Stitches East from the WEBS booth. I have to say I am feeling a bit competitive about this project now - my friend and Stitches cohort Michelle is also making a hoodie (a different pattern and in denim blue), and she finished the entire back to hers in one day! I really need to get my bum in gear to catch up. The 2 X 2 ribbing is really tedious - I can't wait to get started on the cables on the front.

Now do you see why I needed to knit up Willow's beret?!!

Monday, July 27, 2009


I'm tempted to have a t-shirt made up that says, "I survived the Great Seventh Birthday Party of 2009." A good time was had by all, Mother Nature played nice with the weather, the pizza was great, the cupcake kebabs were a hit, and I didn't get a sunburn!

I learned a few things about assembling the cupcake kebabs that I will pass on should any of you be masochistic enough to want to make them. This is what I started out with:

Cupcake Prep

The cupcakes I had made one batch a night during the week: dark chocolate fudge with milk chocolate icing, funfetti with lemon icing, and red velvet with classic white frosting. The the vanilla cookie wafers and caramel-vanilla marshmallows I picked up at Target.

  • Marshmallows have to go on the ends of the skewers - the stickiness of the marshmallows helps to anchor them in place
  • The vanilla wafer cookies are spacers between the cupcakes so they don't all squish together - you have to gently screw into them with the point end of the skewer so asto not split them (a few wafer cookies made their way into my belly that way)
  • Keep the cupcakes cool - either refrigerate or freeze them until almost ready to serve - the icing wants to slide off the cupcakes when they are sideways in the pan if they come up to room temperature.

After all that... enjoy!

Cupcake kebabs

I trimmed the length of the skewers to remove the point end and shorten them so they would fit into the tray and I could snap the lid back on.

I'm really happy that people liked them:

Willow's party B

People had lots of different eating techniques, from eating them like corn on the cob, to eating from the top going down, to simply sliding everything off the skewer and eating the component pieces separately.

And some, like Ray, just got them in his mouth any which way he could:

Ray at Willow's party B

Whew... 359 days to rest before the next monster arrives...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Random Willow on her Birthday

Close Up.jpg

I like my chair

I love you this much!


Me likes Kitty food.jpg

So sleepy when I got to Canada.jpg

Willow Cutie



Willow Monster



Willow at the Blue Rocks

I'm dizzy with all the things you have done and become in the last seven years, Willow. I love you so much I'm tearing up as I write this.

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

That Snazzy Continental Girl

When I was in junior high I had a love for berets, worn jauntily on my head. In fact, if I was so inclined to show you (and I am not), I am wearing a mint green beret in my ninth grade school picture. I may or may not have been wearing a green leather tie as well. Don't judge me - it was the 80's.

I have a few projects on the needles right now - Tara's armwarmers, my pickle socks, and my vest for Stitches East, and for some odd reason, they are all green and involve miles of 2X2 ribbing. I needed an escape. I bought this yarn at my LYS, Stitches With Style, with the express intent of making a hat.

Snazzy, non?

Willow's beret D

I've never knit a beret before, and I am really pleased with how this turned out. The construction confused me to begin with (increases upon increases), but the pattern was very easy to follow.

Willow's beret E

I love the swirl and the fact that there wasn't any obvious pooling, despite the fact that the number of stitches changed every round.

Willow's beret B

Now only if it wasn't the middle of July so she would wear it!

The Particulars:

Pattern: Max's Staircase Tam (rav link)
Yarn: Colinette Cadenza in 'Gaugin'
Needles: Size 5 circular for ribbing, size 7 for the rest of the hat
Time to knit: 3 days

I deliberately sized down the pattern in yarn and needles - the pattern called for worsted weight and sizes 6 and 8 needles, but that was intended for an adult. The instructions say to wet the finished beret and dry over a dinner plate to shape, but my salad plate worked just fine for the 7-year old's head.

Bravo pour la mère qui tricote!

Monday, July 20, 2009

That Child Better Love Me Come Sunday

First round of 24 mini-cupcakes baked and iced tonight...


This is what Willow wants for her birthday instead of a birthday cake. It's a fun idea - but requires lots of prep work.

I told her I would make 3 different kinds of cupcakes, so chose a Funfetti mix, a dark chocolate fudge mix, and a red velvet mix (I'm no dummy - plus the cake mixes were on sale for $1.50 - $2.00 each). I also bought a brownie mix and caramel marshmallows for the spacers. What this means, however, is that each night this week I need to bake another level of the kebabs. Tonight it was the Funfetti cupcakes with lemon icing. The neat thing is that after I filled my 24 cupcake spaces on my pan, I still had enough batter left over for my 8" square pan. I baked it and when cool I am going to wrap it up and freeze it. One of these days we are going to have a three-layer Leftover Birthday Cake Surprise Cake.

Oh, and incidentally, since it doesn't say on the package, mini-cupcakes take about 12 minutes to bake.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tara is a bad influence

I saw this recipe on Tara'a blog and I had to make it myself...

Rhubarb Cheesecake Pie

Rhubarb Cheesecake Pie

Incidentally, I can cross this off my list - up until today I had never made a cheesecake before.

Here's a close up:

Rhubarb Cheesecake Pie slice

So good, but so rich. I had one piece and didn't feel the need to eat for the rest of the night. The recipe is on her blog if you want to try it out - I used the graham cracker recipe from the Honeymaid graham crumbs box (doubled it because I was using my 9" springform pan instead of an 8" pie plate).

Friday, July 17, 2009

Every cloud has a silver lining...

Cloud with Silver lining A

...even when said cloud produces a massive thunder, lightning, and wind storm that forces you to unplug the computer and not write up the blogpost you had already downloaded pictures for...

Hmnf. Anyway, Andrew took the picture above - we were driving back from Willow's camp and saw this from an intersection - I was driving and I quickly pulled my camera out of my pocket and started yelling at Andrew to take the picture. It's a wonder the man doesn't have me committed.

Willow's daycamp was having an after-hours activity, and when we went to pick her up we found her roasting marshmallows all by herself. A first for her, I think. We do it frequently over the barbeque, but usually it is Andrew roasting them and handing them to her.

Roasting Marshmallows B

And, as you can see - sometimes it takes some time to learn the intricacies of nicely browned versus charred:

Playing With Fire

Her counsellor saved the day by smooshing the overdone marshmallow between some graham crackers and hershey bar:

Yummy Smores A


(And you know what - chalk that up to one more thing I have never done - eaten a smore!)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Peach Rhubarb Jam

Another small step toward domesticity... I made jam!

I've helped my Mom make jam many times - I distinctly remember being put to work as a child and teenager, and even as recently as two summers ago I helped Mom make jam and other preserves (my Mom makes the best blackberry jam in the world!), but I never tried to make any of my own. And, in the interest of full disclosure, this is freezer jam and nothing I did involved boiling jars or anything like that.

Baby steps, people.

I had picked a bunch of rhubarb at my in-laws' place this morning, and even though rhubarb is getting a bit out of season, I thought if I chopped it up finely enough it would be fine. I know most people tend to pair rhubarb and strawberries together, but I really don't care for that combination. After Mom's blackberry jam, my next favourite preserves is peach jam, so I decided to go for a peach/rhubarb collaboration.

In the end I used 5 peaches and 4 long stalks of rhubarb - I probably should have used a bit more, but I was sort of eye-balling the 4 cups of crushed fruit the Ball Freezer Jam Pectin package called for. This is what I did:

Chopped up the rhubarb. I looked for the reddest stalks I could find for colour, but my inlaws' variety is more green than red.

Peach Rhubarb Jam 1

Attempt to blanch the peaches. I was an abysmal failure at this. I put them in boiling water for a minute then put them in cold water, and the skin wouldn't budge. Tried doing it again, and all I succeeded in doing was cook my peaches a bit. Also, I learned very quickly these were not clingfree peaches. Since I couldn't take off the skin, I sliced up the sections of peach quite thinly to avoid big chunks of skin in the jam.

Peach Rhubarb Jam 2

Mix everything together in a pan and mash it with the potato masher. The recipe called for crushed fruit, but neither the peaches I bought nor the rhubarb are very juicy on their own. The recipe also said you could cook the peaches for a bit to make a thicker jam, so that is what I did - and mashed the softer, cooked stuff afterward.

Peach Rhubarb Jam 4

Add in the 1.5 cups of sugar. Probably could have done with less given the fact I was a little short on the fruit mixture, but I don't mind sweet jam. Mix in the sugar.

Peach Rhubarb Jam 5

Then mix in the pectin, stir for 3 more minutes, and then pour into the 5 - eight ounce containers. Um, yeah... I was making dinner at the same time as doing this and completely spaced taking pictures of those steps. Let them sit in the containers with the lids tight for 30 minutes, then put 4 containers in the freezer and keep one for immediate use in the refrigerator.

Isn't it pretty?

Peach Rhubarb Jam 6

After letting it sit in the refrigerator through dinner, clean up, and talking to Mom on the phone, I toasted a piece of bread and slathered on some jam...

Peach Rhubarb Jam 10

I love the fact it still has quite a bit of chunks of fruit for texture:

Peach Rhubarb Jam 11

And a close up of the jam:

Peach Rhubarb Jam 8

So, it looks pretty - but how did it taste? The chief jam-taster in the house gave it a thumbs up!

Peach Rhubarb Jam 12

It really is good - I was surprised! After putting it in the refrigerator I was having second thoughts about the rhubarb and how it was not cooked very much - the peaches broke down faster than the rhubarb - but the worries were for nothing. The jam is sweet, tasty, and the chunks of fruit are so nice. Willow ate most of my toast and declared she wanted it on her toast for breakfast in the morning.

I think I will try to make freezer jam again after all my containers are cleaned out (these containers are specifically for freezer jam - they are made by Bernardin and I bought them in Canada a few years ago). What combination will I make next? I'm thinking of something with plums...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wot?! Me buy yarn? Never...

Look what showed up on my doorstep this afternoon!

Red Ginger Sock Yarn

I wasn't intending to buy yarn this week, but then I was surfing Etsy on saw this very pretty yarn on sale:

Red Ginger Close Up

Then I traipsed over to the Beyond Basic Knits' website and saw that a colorway I had coveted for a long time, Moorea, was being discontinued amd was on sale, so I had to grab one of these, too:

Moorea Sock Yarn B

Now I just need to finish the socks (and Tara's armwarmers!) I have on the needles so I can get started on one of these lovelies! Does anyone have any pattern suggestions for them?

Onto the garden. Have you ever seen a cucumber dumpier than this one?


How about this one?

Cucumber A

I'm not sure what is going one here. They are nice and straight until they are about the size the size of gherkins, and then they get round. Maybe it was a seed mix-up because this definitely not what the cucumber on the seed package looked like.

My Cheddar spaghetti squash is doing well. I was mentioning to one of my co-workers that I didn't know how to tell when it is ripe - it's a squash with a hard exterior. She said I should be able to tell with the colour - and it is about same colour now as it was when I bought it, so I might pick it this weekend.

Cheddar Spaghetti Squash

And lastly, my Rose of Sharon:

Rose of Sharon

Enjoy it while it lasts - it is getting drastically cut back after it finishes blooming.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Camp Carnival

Nothing like watching your kid run around apeshit for two hours.

I'm watching the sky and waiting for flashes of lightning, but nothing happened. So tired... but I am not finished the book.

(What book? I only have two chapters left of Laurell K. Hamilton's Skin Trade. Not a bad book, but I'm getting a bit tired of the "So what?! I'm a girl!" comments.)

Monday, July 06, 2009

Jo After Exercise

Jo After Exercise

Yeah.. it's not pretty. I had a big need to blow off steam today, so I went full-tilt for 40 minutes, and after a while noticed that the bottoms of my feet - particularly the balls of my feet (I really hope that is the right word because that sounds awfully dirty), were quite numb. My shoes are relatively new - bought them in the Spring, so I can't imagine they are worn out. Now I am just a tired and sweaty mess.