Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Wanna know one of the best things about people? We're all individuals. Everyone in the world is different. Some people like knitting. Some people like motorcycles. Others still, like knitting and motorcycles. (Not me, but I bet there is someone out there...) We are a wide and varied group of people in this here world. And thank goodness for that.
Still, this at times does pose a problem. Everyone is different, and so, we all have different opinions, likes, dislikes and preferences.
Why is this bad? Because, although I got a lot of GREAT feedback about the cupcakes and although a lot of the comments were similar, there are no cut and dry decisions from it. There was enough variation to still be hard. Some people loved one icing and others hated it. Some people liked the first lemon cupcake, and others liked the second version. Some people, like me, love ginger, whereas it was a big turn off for others. One person loved the caramel, raved about it, but most others only thought it was so-so. Some loved the chocolate ganache, others thought it wasn't sweet enough.
What to do? Well, luckily for me maybe I can make the bride have the final say.
But I am so glad I did the trial. 1) I learned that assembly line is definitely the way to go. Prepare ALL of the dry ingredients at once so that the kitchenaid can always be going (except during bowl washing of course). 2) No matter how many eggs you've calculated you need, you will always need more! I used 24!! 3) After 10 hours standing, my feet KILLED! (I am totally tipping my next waitress more. How do they do it!?)
Anyways, here's the round up of what I made.

Chocolate with Semi-sweet Chocolate ganache topped with roasted hazelnuts:

Salted Caramel:
Lemon #1 & #2, with lemon cream cheese icing:Chai with Honey Ginger Frosting:

Vanilla: (This was my placebo entry. It's a TJ box mix. ha! Got you! I wanted to know if I could trust people to pick out the box mix from the others. And they could! .... for the most part.)
Overall? The winners are definitely Chocolate and Lemon. People were split between the pumpkin and chai option. I got some good suggestions for how to make them even better that I will
My favourite? Hands down, Chai. It is sooo good. But I like ginger.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Am I crazy? Cupcake Trials!

Back when I was young and crazy...

No. Not that young... and I wasn't crazy then. That would be back when I was *really* young... and very cute. (**)
I said back when I was young and crazy,

There we go! That's the right age! ... 26. (oh to be young again...) I was a crazy girl who made my brother's wedding cake. Really. I did. I told you I was crazy!! Who, without proper training makes a wedding cake??!

Me it turns out. Yup. Me. Well, me and my brother, that is. See - that's us the day of (after the ceremony actually. Hence why he is in a suit and I'm in the bridesmaid dress), putting the finishing touches on. But all in all I think it turned out fabulously. It better have! I spent enough time on it! Between my brother and I, I calculated that we spent 24 hours just decorating it. (making icing, doing a crumb coat, doing the outer coat, adding all those silver balls, stacking, doing the scalloped edges, adding the flowers...)

After that day, I told myself I'd never be so crazy again. Unless perhaps one day I get married. Then perhaps I'd make my own cake. (My brother and I are cut from the same cloth... and since we are both so frugal, there's not much cloth to cut!)

Well, I'm here to tell you that three years later although I may be older, I am no wiser. Yup. I'm still crazy. And my craziness is what I'm here to report about today.
See, one of my best friends is getting married in September. So what am I doing? This time I am not only making the (fake) wedding cake (eek! details to follow in a month or so), I'm making (along with the bride and another friend) all of the cupcakes which will be served as dessert. Yup. You read right. ALL of them.
And so, in preparation over the last few months I've tried out a few possible cupcake recipes, but none were *fabulous*. And I want to make C. fabulous cupcakes! I do! So... this past weekend I did what any self respecting bridesmaid in charge of making 200+ cupcakes the week before the wedding would do. I made ~150 cupcakes as a trial. I needed to know how long it was going to take me to make them all (assembly line is definitely the way to go!), and I need to practice my decorating. (Still do!)

But look at them all!

Looklooklook! (Thanks Pops for the kitchenaid you got me for Christmas! I love it!!) Aren't you just dying for want of eating them!?

Now before we go any further, do not worry. I did not eat all 150 cupcakes myself. I'm bringing them into work tomorrow so that my coworkers vote on their favourite(s). On the whole I'm happy with the way they turned out. I'll give you a run down on the flavours, and the winners, after all of the votes have been cast tomorrow!

(**) - This is my absolute favourite picture of myself by the way. I have never been cuter than in that pink dress wondering which candy to eat next)

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Premier night!

Right now, I bet you are wondering if we've entered nuclear winter. What other reason could there be to wear three scarves at once? Not many, but there is one. An important one. I'm just that excited about the latest installment of the Harry Potter movie!! If you can't tell from my projects, I'm a small Harry Potter fan. Okay, a sort of big Harry Potter fan. I admit it.
So, that's why right now I'm watching Half Blood Prince! Well, just finishing watching the trailers and the movie is starting.
(Oh Blogger, thank you for scheduled posts. :) Enabling me to do two things at once... sorta.)

Reason for two more scarves? Especially when I already have a Ravenclaw of my own? I was so excited that I wanted to make some for the friends who are seeing the movie with me. Happy unbirthday to you!

Funny how I have yet to make a Slytherin one. Scarf count, 2 Gryffindors, 3 Ravenclaws, 2 Hufflepuffs and 0 Slytherins. (Although I probably will make a Slytherin one before the 7th movie - part 1, in support of Sev. Oh Sev. I always believed in you & I still cry for you. Really. I probably am crying for you right now. Or will be in 2hrs...)

Monday, 13 July 2009

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Although I wouldn't qualify myself by any means as a hippy, I do try to be nice to Mother Earth. I'd say she's done a lot for us, and shouldn't we try to do something in return for her?
So I take reusable bags to the grocery store. When I go shopping I try to combine trips so that I don't take my car out unnecessarily. I'm part of a CSA. Sure, I don't do as much as I could or should, but I do try.
And perhaps I shouldn't kid myself about somethings. I like to tell myself that I did these projects because reusing things is good for the environment, but really I did these projects because I thought it would be fun and a good way to be creative.
So, want to see what I made?

First on the list is a scarf. It was made from the collar of a bolero from the Goodwill. Since I followed the outline already in the sweater it is wider in the middle and narrows at the sides. To be honest is does look a little silly when worn on it's own, but I think it'll look pretty cute under a winter jacket or some such.

Next up is a scarf I made from a sweater I've had forever! I felted the sweater, putting it through the washer and dryer twice and then cut out the squares, triangles, and diamonds based off of my planning, making sure before hand that I'd have enough material to finish the pattern as I wanted.
I laid it out to make sure it was the same length and then blanket stitched the diamonds and triangle side and used the sewing machine (on zigzag) to connect the squares and then connect the back and front.

I decided to make it double sided for added warmth and strength. And voila!

It's a little wide, and a little short, but all in all, I think pretty cute. And look! It's reversible too! (But man, that blanket stitch took me forever!)

Last but not least I made this bag. It's from a sweater I wore at work almost every day for a year or two. My office is freezing, so I left this sweater at work as a safety precaution just in case I ever was cold I'd have something to put on. I wore it until there were holes in the cuff and now it has a new lease on life.

It's a weird shaped bag, made more that way because of the sweater size rather than that's the size I wanted it to be. But it does work really well for carrying hardcover books I found. And story about the handle? It's an old belt I had that was more than on it's last legs.

I did line the bag with material I'd bought two years ago. Putting anything into a knitted ribbed bag, I don't think would have been a great idea. It would have stretched like no one's business. So the cheap cotton was a good idea I think. I also added in a little pocket on the inside. (I really was thinking ahead!)
I'm pretty proud of this bag, not that I think I'll use it much since it doesn't have a zipper (I'm not crazy enough to try sewing that!) but I do think it's cute. And I sewed it. Probably not impressive for anyone else, but it is impressive for me, so I'm happy with it.

And thus ends sweater reusing. At least... for now.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Another bag

Sometimes when it comes to crafts, I bite off a little more than I can chew.
It didn't used to be that way. I was a boring, do the same mitten pattern over and over and over again sort of a girl. I only ever really worked on one thing at a time. Now? Let's just say I'm a little concerned I may not get a few things done on time. And all because I see cool patterns that are so different, or look so interesting in their construction that I want to try right away, and so I do.
Cool patterns like this design for a scarf. I really wanted to see how the waves were made but I didn't really want to make a scarf. So instead I made this:

Look familiar? It should. Not that long ago I made a reusable bag, and this one is very similar.
I got a brain wave about making it into a bag, because this was the only variegated yarn I had in my stash, and it worked so well last time on the bag. So, I melded the two patterns, making the scarf into a tote bag.
I think it's got good stretch, both horizontally and vertically, so it'll probably be good for carrying groceries or books. But only things big enough to not fall out of the holes. I haven't done an intensive test of it yet, but thus far it's been working out well.
Like I said, it didn't take me that long and I'm really pleased with the outcome, but unfortunately all these little projects I do just rob me of the time I should be spending on the big ones.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Busy Long Weekend

I don't think anyone in the world would disagree with me when I say that long weekends are fabulous. They are. And sometimes, although they are longer than normal, they just aren't long enough! I know I could use another day! Or two.
Here are just some of the things I've been up to since last Thursday:

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Give it a second chance why don't 'cha!

Sweaters, just like people, deserve a second chance in life. Right? Don't 'cha think? Forgiveness is a great thing. And so is recycling. 2nd chances are great all around!

Maybe that's why I loved the idea of this book I got out of the library last week. I just knew that I had to try it!! I didn't love any of the projects I the book, but I do love the idea - Taking old sweaters and turning them into something new. Mittens, scarves, cardigans, shrugs, purses, hats. I think it's one of those, "If you can imagine it, you can do it!" things.

So, here are the steps in case you want to try.

Step 1:


Yeah. In this case it isn’t, “Step one: Osh.” We are looking for sweaters people, not plants. So that’s what I did this past Saturday morning. I raided my local Goodwill and came away with three sweaters (and a cup and a very cute skirt) for $18.50. Not too bad. Not bad at all! Maybe I should hit up the Goodwill more often!

Another good place to look for old sweaters: Your cupboard. I found three sweaters in mine that I’ve either worn to destruction or that just aren’t in style anymore, but still have a lot of life in them.

So with six possible sweaters to work with I proceeded to…

Step 2:


Okay. I admit it. I'm a planner. Well, within reason. I like having a plan of action. I like knowing what the next step is going to be, even before I'm there, so for me this step was key.

So, while not necessary before going to step 3, I think this step helps immensely.

Step 3:

Wash ‘em! Felt ‘em! Block ‘em.

(So, why do you need to plan before you wash? Well, I didn't want to felt all of the sweaters I got, so you want to handle this step differently depending on how you are going to use the sweater.)

I’d never felted anything before, so this was a first time for me. I read the tips in the book, and a few online, and just went at it. I cannot imagine actually hand knitting something and then on purpose running it through the washer/dryer. I shudder at the thought. But something someone else made (or a machine made), I figured, why not. In this case I split mine half-sies. In any case, the book suggests if you don't know what you want to do, put the sweater through the washing machine on a gentle setting.

Step 4:


Yup. Wait. While the sweaters are washing, blocking, and drying, you have to curb your enthusiasm. This is also a good time to revisit Step 2 and do some more planning. Get the patterns ready. Depending on what you are doing

(Or it’s a good time to make yourself some lemon cupcakes! Or rice pudding. Or homemade pita chips… Or something like that…not that I did any… or, err… all of those. Nope. Not me...)

Step 5:

Take a deep breath and start cutting!

And then cut some more. And some more. Cutting up the felted material isn’t so tough. Just cut around the pattern. But on sweaters you didn’t felt, I tried to rip the sweater apart at the seams. That’s what I did on the grey sweaters, and although it was a little time consuming, it worked out well.

Step 6:

Sew it up!

Remember how I said I can’t sew well? It’s still true… But I tried. And I'm working on my sewing skills. Hopefully I'll get better with practice.

Step 7:

Wear it, share it, pair it.

Wait. Where's the picture for this step? Well... I'm only mostly done the projects I've been working on. The results from this sewing expedition will just have to wait for the next post... Or the one after that. We'll see how it goes.