Sunday, April 20, 2008

Remember the craft

She's Coming up Daisies!

A new name for my crafty blog, and some LONG overdue updates.


What can I say? I blame getting a higher education - it has depleted my crafting time!

I thought I'd post a few things I've made or have been working on. Lately I've been using or Ravelry to post my projects. Fast and fun. Crafster is a great place to get ideas. I love the reconstructed projects especially - ideas on how to re-use stuff to make things you need. Ravelry is such a great site - elegant, and easy to use, which seems to be a rarity in the crafter's online world.

First off, here's a hat (from Christmas!) that I am working on for my nephew. Christmas. ; ) Hopefully it will be big enough! I love the stripes. It's my first color chart project, and has been a great introduction. So much easier than I thought it would be!

This one is a favorite - I'm working on a hot water bottle cozy. It's just beautiful - I'm a huge fan of cables! Hopefully I'll finish before it gets too warm to use the hot water bottle.

Next up! I made a purse with the same gray yarn for my sister Sheila - as a Christmas gift. It didn't turn out as I expected, so I decided to try again - and wanted to make it for a good friend. Long story short - I'm not a fan! This is a picture taken during the process, it's together now, but I don't have a photo. (It is much too ugly, and might break the camera.). I'm attempting to think up a magical way to fix it, but no light bulbs as of yet.

Lastly, I made some earrings at a make-your-own jewelry party. It was great fun...and made me want to make more! The green ones are for me, the others I gifted to a good friend (they weren't funky enough for me - too pretty!).

My crafting will still be sporadic until I'm done with school, but I'm still going! I've been inspired by my sister, a creative fiber and fabric artist, to check out sewing. No progress beyond drooling over books and patterns yet, but I'm optimistic.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bathing in chocolate frosting

A friend of mine was in need of a chocolate cake. She may not have known, nor vocalized, this need - but she does, need the cake that is.

I used my sister's cupcake recipe (one she adapted from a cake recipe) to make the cake. This time I tweaked it, accidentally, by using some cocoa I bought in Costa Rica. Some of it had hardened, so I spent ages picking out the hard bits, and then realized that I was a little short for the frosting recipe. So! Being the resourceful (but not necessarily in a good way) baker, I melted two wedges of Trader Joe's semisweet chocolate into the frosting mix. It turned out less dark, and sweeter than last time. Not my favorite, but the first taste tester approved...

The cake looks beautiful. Once the frosting stops being so darn goopy, it hardens nicely, and covers all those - oops, I stabbed the cake - bits.

I dipped some strawberries in the frosting, and then refrigerated them. I went back and forth on the sized, but ended up quartering them, and placing them on the cake after a powdered sugar dusting (what? another teaspoon of sugar is going to make it too sweet? ha!). The wedges are the same as the ones that went in the frosting. They aren't too rich, about 70% cocao...

Now for the pictures:

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Check your Gauge: Reason #439902

Looking Scroogey!

Possibly you're reading this and have no idea what I'm talking about. Or maybe you saw the title and felt guilt. If you felt guilt, then call me, we're in the same boat.

I never check my gauge.


I know, it's horrible. Maybe once or twice, if I bought an expensive yarn (thus the once or twice) or had a project I was really keen on. Otherwise, I skip that part of the knitting - or crocheting - process entirely. Some part of me shudders when I think about it. Knit, but not create? It's like wasted knitting time!

The smart people out there, the ones who floss daily, and remember to water their plants, are shaking their heads.

Don't worry, I've heard the argument, and I've learned the lesson. Many, many times.

There was the baby hat that could fit a barbie doll. Or the sweater that could fit my car (I have a small car!). And then that time I meant to make a pillow cover, and ended up with a wallet.

Normally I roll with it. Just 'learn my lesson' - Jeez! I should really start checking my gauge! - and then move on.

Ummm...Until today.
Here's the Scrooge Hat Preview:

Ughhh, I know, and I'm not even done!

This is your head, this is your head in a hat that wasn't gauged.

I'm going to finish the hat, and not try to change anything. It'll be fine, just too big for me. Next time though, I'm checking my gauge!

Rosh Hashana / The Baklava Diaries

Time to celebrate the Jewish New Year! (cries the girl who was raised strictly Irish Catholic)

A couple of pals in Seattle are celebrating in their own way, and I decided to make some baklava for the various parties. Sounds great, right?

Has anyone worked with phyllo dough? Yeah? Well, what about whole wheat phyllo dough?

As far as this recovering catholic is concerned, it's the devil him(or her, not only am I open-minded, but I also went to an all-girl high school which taught me little except that evil can soooo be female)self.

After having a ridiculously fabulous time at one of the very, very few middle eastern food shops in Seattle (technically in Bellevue actually), I found myself with oodles of phyllo dough. While at the store, I perused the frozen phyllo doughs, and was excited to see a whole wheat version. In my head I'm thinking: Ooh, whole wheat means healthy, this means I could make healthy baklava.

Such a smart girl, I know. Needless to say, I ignored the fact that baklava is made with butter, nuts, and sugar. Very good for the health. Riiiiight.

I rented this fabulous cookbook, the cooking light recipe collection that I've mentioned before, and decided to use it's recipe.

This may be a good time to mention that I have tried desert recipes with this book, and have yet to be satisfied. They take out too much fat, and add waaaaaay too much sugar. Supposedly they taste test these recipes, but they must be taking drugs at the same time. Or had seriously strange childhoods. Who knows.

So this morning I gathered my ingredients, including the thawed phyllo dough, which I patted myself on the back for remembering to thaw, and prepared to do some serious baking. The recipe calls for letting the baklava soak in syrup for a total of 11 hours, so I wanted to get started nice and early. Smart? To be cooking at 8am? Never.

After an hour of acting like an idiot, running around my kitchen while sweating and swearing, I had efficiently ripped or ruined half of the phyllo dough sheets. ERRGH! It was so much fun.

By the time the baklava recipes were in the oven, I had remembered how much I disliked the CL desert recipes. Great, great timing. Now, if only I could have these revelations before I start cooking. Although, that would probably be too much, I'd perish from perfection.

While the jelly-roll style baklava (okay, actually half of the recipe because I had mucked up the other half) baked, I ran to the grocery store.

Let's paint this picture, shall we?

My boyfriend and I woke up at 530 to go climbing at our gym. I hadn't showered before baking, because that would just be silly, but I had thrown a comfy sweatshirt over my gym clothes in lieu of an apron. This sweatshirt is the second least attractive thing I own ; the first being an excessively over-sized lumberjack style flannel that my mom bought for me - and yes, I still wear it - even though someone once asked me if I was trying to look unattractive when I wore it. I have loved this sweatshirt so much, that it has long since lost any shape or elasticity it may have had. It's been painted in, so it's splashed with random colors, memories of rooms and houses past, and since I'd been cooking, it was displaying bits of baklava ingredients.

Man, I'm hott.

So I popped into the posh grocery store in my artsy-funky hood, ignoring the looks and confusion (possibly because I was in a rush and nearly ran over a couple of people) as I gathered ingredients before flying back home, burdened with a pound of butter and another of phyllo dough - what else would you buy at 9am?

But! This time I had regular phyllo dough! And the Joy of Cooking baklava recipe, complete with oodles of butter.

The JC (ha) recipe was much more user friendly, and faster. I tasted both, although they aren't fully marinated quite yet, and neither is that good. The JC one is less sweet, which I like, but it seems like there was too much syrup, they aren't firm - the tops are perfect, but the bottom is goopy. The Cl baklava rolls, a cool idea (I especially like the shredded phyllo touch), are waaay to sweet, as per usual. But, they are more firm, so the texture wins out.

Here are photos of both:

Baklava, JC style
Check out that puffiness!

The Jelly Roll Style

Ooh - they just came out looking so perfect!

Ready to serve
(with one of the many lemons lost to the two recipes)

So here's to a new year, and to the phyllo dough that's leftover in my freezer. It might be a while before I use that again!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Scrooging it up

One of my current projects is the Scrooge Night Cap (there's a link under current projects). Here's my progress so far...It doesn't look like much, but that took a couple of long car rides plus a Hero-watching marathon.

I decided to use some of my yummy alpaca yarn, in tweed. I love the colors and the texture. So far so good!

Craftyness, it's all relative

My sister has been hooking me up with all sorts of crafty advice and gifts lately. She sent me a housewarming gift recently, and I have to share.

I mentioned that the new place could use some candles, so she managed to send me a bundle of cool colors and scents. Hurrah! They are now throughout our place, but here's a picture of the group.

She also sent me a couple of old records, two of my favorites from when we were growing up (and yes, I still do love Barbara Streisand's Christmas album). The frames are from Urban Outfitters. She knew that I had a lot of wall and a little creativity, so these will be my first wall decorations.

And the coolest knitting needle toppers ever!! Now I can knit in style (while raising eyebrows)!

Yummy Cupcakes!

My sister sent me a recipe for chocolate cupcakes, and I decided to make them for labor day weekend. They were so good! The frosting was amazing, and the cupcakes were very moist, very cake-like. I topped them with a piece of Green&Blacks Organic Chocolate, Maya Gold - which is the orange flavor of dark chocolate. So good.

Here they are, right after being frosted. The frosting was really goopy, and made a huge mess. They sat overnight, and the frosting solidified. I was able to transport them in tupperware, although it got a little messy once the day heated up. They still tasted amazing!!

A close-up of the finished cupcake (because yes, I am a nerd).