Out On a Limb… Just Because

Please forgive any random, crazy blog theme changes you may have experienced/will experience over the next few weeks or so. I’ve been trying to find a nice theme I can stick with for a while but everything is just too narrow. At least, that’s how it appears on MY screen. I’d appreciate if you’d let me know how it looks to you.

So, let’s get this show on the road, shall we?

As per the title of this blog post, I’ve been… going out on a limb with my crafts. Let me start off by saying my wardrobe(no matter the season,) is abysmal. Just about everything I own is either too small or laced with holes I can’t fix, or stains I can’t remove.

I’d love to whip up some quick A-line skirts for the warmer weather, but experience has taught me that those two-pattern-piece getups don’t do me any justice. I’ve always liked jeans skirts and I have a few pairs of jeans with various fitting issues:

New Millenium Bells?

Cheap jeans I purchased sometime last year. The price was right and the overall fit and details were nice but I failed to realize how flared the hem is. They’re also a bit too long. I’d originally planned to straighten the leg shaping but I chickened out. I also decided now’s the time to try turning a pair of jeans into a skirt. I’ve looked at quite a few tutorials and videos on the subject and am taking bits and pieces from all of them:

Refashioned skirt

I’ve got another pair of jeans which fit fine at the leg but are too short. I forget where or how I got them(Goodwill maybe?). If the skirt thing doesn’t work out then they’ll just become shorts. Easy Peasy.

In Baking, I got up this morning and made my way to the kitchen and whipped up some yellow cake cupcakes. Nothing fancy doing, just because. :)

"Just Because" Cupcakes

With the house full of Beans, I’m sure they will quickly disappear.

TTFN!

A ‘Green Monster’ has taken over me

"Green Monster" smoothie

That one up there. It’s a Green Monster smoothie. I make mine with baby spinach, frozen banana, strawberries and almond milk, and I love it to death. I’ve been hearing about it from Necia for months and I finally got around to trying it. It’s so good, the kids line up when they hear the blender going. And yes, I can use my trusty blender and not have to worry about some fancy-shmancy smoothie maker. Yay. It’s filling enough (for me at least) to replace breakfast so I’ve been trying to stay on schedule with a light lunch and dinner with a snack every now and then. I’m gonna need some healthy energy what with all the excitement at Chez BeanKnit lately.

First off, over the weekend we had not 1 but TWO small floods. Yuck. I’d gone out with some of the Beanlets to the NY Botanical Garden again and did a little walking around before some very necessary retail therapy(when will they stop GROWING!?). Came home to prepare dinner and relax and little one comes in my room to tell me there’s water all over. I step out of bed INTO water. Nice. It wasn’t too bad thankfully, but I wasn’t planning on spending the day cleaning up. Then the next day the washer sink overflowed and I had to clean that up too, but that one was sheer STOOPID on my part. Whoops.

Between all that my beloved DIY craft table fell apart on me. Literally. I have the bruise to match it but I’m not showing my thighs this trip around. I will show you the damage though.

DIY table go boom!

I assure you all that stuff was NOT sitting on one end of the table. I had to get a replacement and while I appreciate the sturdiness of it, I’m a little sad that it’s not as wide as I’d have liked. The DIY was 36″ and this one is only 30″:

New table!

Well, at least it’s already finished and waterproof! :) Silver lining and all that.

So that’s what’s been going on these past few days. I think I hear a Green Monster calling me. TTFN!

Just Doing It.

That is kind of how I feel about my latest craft projects. Other than baking for special occasions I’ve been contemplating practicing my baking a little more. I’ve always farked up whole wheat bread. It was always hard, and flat. Nothing I tried worked. But recently I read something about “vital wheat gluten”, which is supposed to help wheat breads rise better. I’ve yet to actually try it but hopefully sometime this weekend I’ll get around to it.

I did manage to make some banana bread, though:
Banana Banana Bread

from this recipe.

I’m thinking I should have added that 4th banana in there. Some of the reviews do indicate that extra banana would improve the moisture but I didn’t listen. Or perhaps the addition of baking powder may have something to do with it. In previous incarnations, with a different recipe the bread was always kind of flat and that one didn’t call for baking powder either, so I figured that was the problem. This loaf is somewhat taller but not by much(I’m starting to think other people are using a smaller pan than my 9×5′er, which could mean nothing I do will yield a taller result). Oh well, it’s still very good, even if a little on the dry side. Nothing a hot cup of coffee or tea or a glass of cold milk won’t fix.

In knitting I’m also slowly starting up. Oh I’ve knit the occasional hat or mittens or some other whimsy but one of the things I’ve been wanting to knit more of is sweaters for ME. Sadly, though, I’ve been quite reluctant to do so because of the four disasters in my knitting past: namely, the felting of my Cheesylove pullover, the shrinking of my beloved Central Park Hoodie by my MIL, and the fact that I ran seriously short of yarn for the handspun Heather Hoodie. Not to mention, the failure of kiddo’s Basic Black.

Eileen back

Enter Eileen. I just decided to jump in and do it. Of course the decision was facilitated by a sale at Michaels. ;) I went with a bold color that I love and so far the knitting is going ok. I was a little uneasy with the shifting charts; if you look at the back photo you’ll notice there is a center panel and two side panels. The side panel chart only has 6 rows but the center one has 8. The first repeat of the two charts started out with the same rows, only to have me start the side panel chart AGAIN before finishing the first repeat of the center panel. And there I was thinking I’d print the charts on the same sheet of paper and use one long strip of highlighter tape to track the rows. Sigh. Oh well. I guess I could still print them together since they’re small. But it hasn’t been a major hassle yet.

Now, while I did enhance my stash for this project I have been working from stash I already had.

Crochet Box

I had 3 balls of Lamb’s Pride Bulky laying around, seemingly forever, and decided now was the time. The other day I just started crocheting these rectangles, not even knowing what I’d do with them. I just needed to be doing something with my hands. My son came in the room and asked if I was making a box. I looked at the panels and just decided, yeah, I’m gonna make a box. And I did!

I’ve read that crochet is harder to felt than knitting and I’m seeing this may very well be true. I would have thought with the yarn being a single ply that it would felt lovely but, the crochet won out. You can still see some of the stitch definition. Also the finished item isn’t as sturdy as knit felt would be. There’s no way that box would stand up to the spindles, but this is even floppier than normal; everything is actually sitting in a hard plastic bucket the kids got a few Halloween’s ago. Eh, it works, right?

I hear Eileen calling so I’d better go see what she wants.

TTFN!

Hubris is the mother of last-minute sewing

Now that the Thanksgiving food coma has lifted I remembered to post this.

I opened my big fat mouth and wound up having to do something to keep from putting my foot in it. I got cute and told my cousin, who was hosting Thanksgiving dinner at her house that I would bring some Sweet Rolls for the meal. I’m a Jean E. Yuss. Because it’s a long trip(especially with transit running on a Sunday schedule), I decided I’d need to keep the rolls warm so I wouldn’t have them waiting for them to bake once I got there*. So crazy me decided to sew a quilted cake carrier tote which turned out ok, but nothing like what I envisioned.

Below is some fabrics I got at the Sav-A-Thon last year on clearance. I figured now was the time to use them.
Dairy of a Proctrasinating Crafter: Quilted Cake Carrier Wrap

I totally pulled the idea and the shaping out of my a$$ on this one. I thought about making a tutorial but decided against it when I realized I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. But I kept at it. And the result was this:

Dairy of a Proctrasinating Crafter: Quilted Cake Carrier Wrap

I actually finished it the morning of Thanksgiving, having started the evening before. Around midnight I got fed up and got me a drink of coquito, and promptly went to bed.
Yay Coquito!

Looking at the finished item I know now what I’d do different:
1)Make the bottom bigger and the side panel longer to go all the way around to fit so I wouldn’t need the zipper(though I do like that part of it.)
2) Really get an understanding of how to sew in elastic. I couldn’t get it to shrink down over the top as much as I’d have liked. Or,
3) I could have made the side panel taller so I could leave a few inches unquilted and fold that part over for a drawstring casing, eliminating the need to futz with the elastic in the first place. (aha, moment of genius, after it was all said and done)

Other than that, it was a fairly good experience taking my own idea and making something. The family thought it looked good despite the issues with the closure and that alone made it worth while.

* It ended up that when we were leaving she told us she was still cooking so it wouldn’t be like they were waiting for us to eat. Since I was running a bit behind(I farked up the recipe–You can’t always substitute shortening for butter, just so you know) I wound up just carting the rising dough with me instead of baking at home. The warmth provided by the quilted wrap helped them rise nice and big! Yay! Oh and I uh don’t have a pic. We ate ‘em. ;)

Cookie Quickie

The other day I did a fall cleaning reorganization of the kitchen cabinets and decided it was time to make cookies again.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Here be cookies! More precisely, Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies. I prefer Oatmeal Raisin, but since Boy Beanlet cannot eat raisins and the other Beanlets wanted Chocolate Chip, I compromised with this recipe.

It was the usual choco-chip recipe but with added slow-cook oats. The taste is not quite the combination of oatmeal-raisin and choco chip that I was hoping for, but the texture is interesting enough to make me want to bake these again. One thing I notice about these types of cookies though, is that they’re never as dark as commercial brand cookies. I’m guessing that has a lot do with all the processing involved in making them. If that’s the case, I’ll gladly take these don’t-look-done over those.

The kids, of course, can’t wait to get their little hands on them. That’s definitely a good sign. :)

Unmotivated

Can I whine? No? Well, I’m gonna anyway. Blah.

That’s basically how I’ve been feeling lately about things. I’ve managed to get yarn that matches the Dream In Color Classy that I ran low on for the baby sweater. The sweater pieces are blocked so that I can put the sleeves on, but I’m not feeling it. What’s the deal??

I’ve been meaning to cut out more PJ bottoms and… nope. So many patterns I want to try but can’t seem to get started on ANYTHING.

I’ll tell you what I finally DID get around to.

Lemon Meringue Pie!

Lemon Meringue Pie! I had some lemon pie filling(yeah, so?) in the cupboard, a pie crust in the freezer(bad move, next time use a graham cracker crust!), and a craving for something sweet.  I decided to go ahead and try making my first lemon meringue pie.  It tasted ok despite the fact that 1) I accidentally got some yolk in the egg whites and the meringue didn’t stiffen as much as I’d have liked; 2) I didn’t think to add some corn starch to the filling to thicken it up, which made slicing it futile.  The kids loved it  though, so I’m sure I’ll be making it again at some point.

I’m also still undecided about how to finish the sewing table. Granted, money is tighter than a virgin on prom night so, I can’t really do anything with it yet. Meanwhile I have to beat people away with a stick to keep them from putting wet items on the table. Except for this:

Boy-oh-Boy sweater

 

Well it wasn’t directly on the table. This is the first time I’ve used my blocking wires and I’m not sure if I did it right. Oh well. Hopefully I’ll get it done before the weekend is over so I can give it away.

Well, back to daydreaming about  how I want to rearrange the sewing/livingroom.

 

TTFN

Just Loving It

Pie!

Don’t you just love it when projects you work on seem to fall into place? Do you get scared, thinking the progress means you’ll just fark up along the way and your hard work will have been for nothing?  If you’re accustomed to things going wrong you tend to get nervous whenever you try something for fear of screwing it up.

That’s pretty much how I felt while preparing a pie crust last night. It’s been almost a year since the last time I tried to make a pie crust. Previously, as in years past, my attempts at crust-making resulted in broken bits of dough that I would have to mash together into the pie pan.  I could never seem to roll it out thin enough without it falling apart on me.

But last night, it worked out very well.

I got this crazy urge to make a sweet potato(yam?) pie and trolled my favorite recipe site(No, I DON’T have something so ‘traditional’ already committed to memory, why do you ask? I know WHAT to put in the pie, just never remember how much!), Allrecipes and gathered my ingredients to make the crust and filling.  After making some recipe adjustments for the crust(and it’s a good thing I did; too much shortening could be a disaster), I got started, thinking all the while, “This is gonna work, this is gonna work…”. I still had my doubts even as I took the still-rather-soft ball of dough out of the fridge after 30 min and popped it in the freezer an additional 10 min.

But once I rolled that sucker out and was able to get it off the table and into the pan in one piece,  it was glory all the way! Yay! My first pie crust that didn’t have to be ‘jury-rigged’ into the pan. Of course, the filling was another challenge, as previous gourd-based pies have been coming out rather runny. This one, too, came out a bit on the soft side. I prefer my pie cold so maybe chilling in the fridge overnight has helped that a bit. But! I know now, to add a little flour to the filling to thicken it a bit. (I’m also wondering if I SHOULD have used that 10″ pie pan instead of the 9″. I certainly had enough dough for a bigger pan, and the filling wouldn’t have been as deep, possibly resulting in a firmer set. Oh well. Live and Learn.)

I’ve also been loving the shawl I’m working on. Well, not just the shawl, as I’m sure it’s going to be really pretty when it’s done, but also the fact that I can ‘read’ my knitting. The pattern(so far) is simple enough to memorize the repeats at the beginning of each row, which helps me gain a rhythm. With that rhythm I can quickly tell when something’s out of whack. At one point, I’d finished a right-side row and proceeded to work the next (back-side) row when I hit a bump in the rhythm. Sure enough, just ‘reading’ back the previous row showed me where I messed up; a bit of ‘tinking’ and I was back in the game.  This isn’t to say I didn’t spend a minute or two cussing at it but it was an easy fix. :D

Now I’m hoping I can parlay this ‘success’ into a baby quilt I need to get going. ;)

TTFN

Goodwill Hunting! and FOs( pic heavy)

Several months ago I started troweling through some of the local Goodwill and Salvation Army shops. I’ve found that while the pricing is better at the SA shops, the Goodwill has better selection. Beggars can’t be choosers, though.

The other day I hit up the Goodwill down the road and came upon some goodies. One was a little red Jansport knapsack. Littlest Beanlet’s been hollering about a new bag since hers started falling apart. She loves her new bag and carries around the house all. the. time. There’s also a pair of knickers(?) I found that actually fit. The problem is, they’ve got stains on the legs. Very visible ones. I thought perhaps the owner didn’t want to bother trying to get rid of them, and just gave the pants away. But alas, washing did nothing. That’s not going to stop me. I’m going to over dye them. I’ll save the before and after photos for another post. I’ve got some cool ideas up my sleeve for that project.

Another goodie I found was this:

Score!

On Mother’s Day, I got to go fleamarketing all by myself! Yay. I went back to that one I talked about in the previous post(and found out the tea I bought is called Peach Apricot), and went around looking for a pretty teapot and teacup set to enjoy my tea with. I didn’t see much and what I did see didn’t really grab me, or the price just wasn’t to my liking. I hit the Goodwill the next day and BAM! $1 teacup and saucer, from the CorningWare “Champagne & Roses” line. I’ve been searching the net for more like this but nothing so far. I’d just like another two sets of cup and saucer and the whole teapot, creamer and sugar bowl getup and I’d be good. I don’t want to start a whole collection going. Though if the entire line somehow landed at my doorstep, I wouldn’t mind too much. ;)

As for FOs, I’ve finished a stack of little coasters:

Springtime Coasters Springtime Coasters

They’re made from the Springtime Coasters pattern, here (Raverly link). Very quick and simple; a pleasure to crochet. I only needed one but I have so much cotton left over from the spiral potholder and cotton apron I figured I could make more. If anyone would like some coasters give me a holler. I feel a sick urge to make another set! :D I made them because I’ve been keeping my teapot on the windowsill next to me and it was sitting on one of the potholders. That thing is huge and hangs off the edge of the sill. I didn’t want to risk swiveling my chair and catching the potholder, thus pulling the teapot to the floor. Enter the coaster. Big enough to cover the bottom of the pot, yet small enough to fit neatly on the windowsill. It’s a win-win!

This is much better

What better to have with some tea than some baked goods? You know me and baked goods. mmmm mmm.

Popovers!

Popovers! And Strawberry Butter!

Strawberry butter

The popovers were fun and easy to make but they are bland. Not to mention the overwhelming egg taste(takes 4 eggs!). My two youngest love them, especially with the strawberry butter. If I try this again I will have to get a real popover pan because I can see the muffin pan just doesn’t do them justice.

Oh well, I think I hear a G hook calling me.

Happy Crafting!

One Heck of a Week!

It sure has been. There were loads of errands and appointments to attend to but I managed to get in some baking:

Home made pretzels

Home made salt pretzels on the red plate and cinnamon-sugar on the white. As will all yummy creations in Chez Beanknit they didn’t last long. Hubby had found Auntie Anne’s and I figured they were nice, but I could do just as good. Mine were actually closer to those hot dog-cart pretzels in terms of thickness/firmness, but the flavor was closer to the Anne’s.

The process was time consuming as with pretty much all yeast-based baked goods, but the result was well worth the effort. Definitely will make these again in the future.

There was also time for planting:

Day 10 - Basil

This photo is actually of the 10th day since planting the seeds. It’s basil. I have a marigold mini-pot going also but it doesn’t look like it’s going to work. :( There was a bud but the top fell off. How the heck did that happen! I’m hoping the kids didn’t mess with it; they usually give me a report every morning on how the pots are doing. I should do some research on indoor plants.

Growing up, mom usually had plants. She was neither obsessed nor lazy about them, and they did ok. But my livingroom now doesn’t get the intensity of sunlight the kids’ rooms get. Sigh. I’m thinking later this year I’ll invest in a UV lamp so I can have some decent greenery in here. At the very least I’d like to continue growing basil, as well as adding new herbs. Aside from cilantro and parsley, I think basil is the other herb I cook with the most. It’d be nice to have fresh herbs to use without going to the supermarket and paying an arm and leg for half wilted plants.

So, I’m looking at perhaps a few more weeks of this plant in the tiny pot and then I can move it to something bigger!

Once the week’s hoopla calmed down it was time to go hang out with my girls. Rosi G held her housewarming and I think we all had a good time! So much fun I forgot to take any photos(though I found out yesterday I’d left the chip at home so no photos anyway!), but I finally picked up the knitting needles and cast on a sock. All the knitterfriends came through and some of us worked on projects, while chatting life, yarn, crazy-driving husbands, and quilting!

I originally started one pair of socks but quickly remembered I’m not fond of projects that leave a YO at the end of the needle. So I ripped that out and yesterday started on Emily( a Ravelry link, sorry) and haven’t looked back. There will be pic in the flickr once it starts to look more like something. I really need to lay off the multicolored sock yarn because I really do like lace sock patterns and the designs tend to show better on solid colors than on multis. Sigh.

Well that was my week, pretty much. Here’s hoping this next one is even better!

TTFN

Wow! What a week!

And I am TIRED. It was Spring Break for the kids so the hubby and I took advantage of that by taking the kids out almost daily. We didn’t do much on Monday. Tuesday, though, we went out bowling at a local bowling alley. Boy Beanlet tore it up and left us in the dust. Later that night I realized they made an error with our bill and we got two free games the next day! Again Boy Beanlet beat us in both games. All that and I broke my thumb nail like I always do when bowling.. After two days it was sore as hell. When we left there we headed over to my cousin’s house for the evening. Everybody was exhausted when we got home.

On Thursday, we took the train up to New Roc City and had a blast. There were some small issues with the game cards we were using but they were resolved really quickly. Everybody had a good time. Littlest Beanlet rode a carousel for the first time and loved it. The two bigger Beanlets and I gunned for each other at the bumper cars(OMG that was soooo much fun!), while their dad amused himself with some pinball machines. We gained a crap-ton of prize tickets and we divided them up among the kids. Everybody chose a whoopie cushion as one of their prizes and we spent the better part of the next 24 hours listening to them ‘fart’ and giggle.

Friday, after some early morning food shopping(fresh mozzarella–more on that in a bit), we settled in to relax and rest. And I needed it, because when I got up that morning it was all OUCH! I really wanted to soak in the tub but I’m trying to find good tub cushions. I used to have one from Bed Bath and Beyond some years ago and haven’t been able to find one like it since. Sigh..

During all the traveling to and fro, I worked on and finished the cotton apron and I’ve worn it a few times already; it’s a major success. I managed not to soak my clothes while washing dishes. :D And I wore it while working on a pizza for dinner last night. I got to use the fresh mozzarella I picked up at the market. I don’t know why I got the wild idea to do that though, as it didn’t turn out the way I’d have liked. I learned that the fresh cheese is too moist to leave on the pizza as long as I’d need to for thorough baking. It started to burn like marshmallows. Although, the crust was crispier than normal so maybe I did leave it in there too long to begin with.

I should add that strangely enough the cheese didn’t TASTE burnt; in fact it was good. It had a distinctly different taste than the preserved kind, but to get the luscious melt we like, preserved it is.

Today is Easter Sunday. We’re not celebrating with anyone this year, just relaxing at home and getting ready for another week. Apron pics are forthcoming, when I get a chance to go out with just ONE Beanlet instead of all three later on this week.