Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Recap and 2015 Resolutions

2014 was an interesting year to say the least. Lots of changes and quite a few rough patches. Towards the beginning of the year I started a new job after twelve years at my old one. That was definitely one of the high points of the year - I'm very happy with the change I made. Unfortunately I lost my grandpa this year and we had to put down our (almost) 14 year old dog. J broke his arm, I dealt with a bad staph infection, and C had to have oral surgery to remove an extra tooth in his palate. I'm hoping 2015 is a healthier year.

C turned 7 this year. (I can't believe I have a second grader. I remember being a second grader!) J turned five. E and I celebrated our lucky number 13 anniversary. We were fortunate enough to vacation with E's family in San Diego for a week this summer. The boys got to experience Legoland for the first time and we had lots of beach time. I also got to travel some for work this year, going to San Diego, Denver and Seattle. I've only been through Denver, not staying there (for example we ate at Casa Bonita on the way back from Iowa last summer) so it was nice to spend some time there, even if I was pretty busy. I did manage to find time one evening to have dinner with a friend too! Seattle was great too - again really busy but I'd never been there before. Very different than Arizona.

We were also hit with an epic rainstorm here. Our area went one of the longest times without rain but later in the year we had a 100 year storm come through. It literally flooded out most of the freeways. I'd never seen anything like it.

And now onto my 2014 resolution list. Like most of the past few years, I got through 40% of my list. First the hits.

  • Read five books - yep, in fact I read at least seven. A couple of reasons, one I put more effort into it; two with the new job I was traveling more. More time in airports and on planes led to a lot more reading time.
  • Organizing the pantry - I knocked this out early in the year and kept it more or less fixed the whole year.
  • Make a crochet project - I made washcloths to go along with my homemade vanilla extract and one was crocheted. It finally seemed to click with me.
  • Sew a needle holder - It was a little wonky - one piece was sewn in the wrong order so a seam shows on the outside. But it works wonderfully and I use it all the time.
  • Frosting piping practice - Decorated my son's birthday cupcakes in a Minecraft theme.
  • Blog at least three times a month - I'm going to fudge and say yes. Some months I didn't hit at least three times but I did get over 36 posts total for the year and wrote at least once every month.
And now the misses. Make bread, make truffles, make caramels. Nope, still on the baking bucket list. Although I have yeast in the pantry, ready to go... Learn to play guitar - never made it a priority. Learn entrelac, learn a new cast on or off - I really tried a new cast on, I just can't seem to wrap my head around it. Garden - I have such a black thumb! Lose 23 pounds - epic fail, I actually put a little weight back on.


So the list for 2015 will have some repeats on it. But I've got a few new things too:

  • Blog three times a month (36 for the year)
  • Make stockings by Christmas for each member of the family
  • Knit at least three pairs of socks
  • Make a shawl/stole
  • Sew an item of clothing
  • Make bread
  • Make caramels
  • Make truffles
  • Lose 10 pounds
  • Read at least seven books
  • Learn to play guitar
  • Learn a new cast on/cast off
  • Finish office/craft room organization
Hopefully I finish above 40% this year! Here's to a great 2015!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Loaded Peanut Butter Cookies

So for our cookie recipe contest this year with my family I decided to make peanut butter chocolate chip pretzel cookies. That's a mouthful so I think I'm just going to call them Loaded Peanut Butter cookies. I was looking for a chewy cookie not a crunchy one and found this one from the Novice Chef to use as my base.

One of the requirements for the contest was to use whiskey as an ingredient so I made a whiskey vanilla extract in place of one made with a vodka base. I also added pretzels and chocolate chips to the recipe. Good enough to for third place!

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp whiskey vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup pretzel sticks, broken into pieces
Cream the butter, sugars and peanut butter until mixed. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix. Then add the flour, baking soda and salt. Once everything is fully combined, add in the chocolate chips and pretzels.
Drop rounded tablespoons onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 11 minutes (I have a convection oven so I actually did 340 for 10 minutes)

 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmastime!

We had quite a busy December around here. Lots of activities and time with the family.
We started out the month by participating in a parade. I haven't been in a parade since high school and my kids have never had this chance before. Lots of fun for us!
That same night we participated in a fundraising walk for Phoenix Childrens Hospital (a cause near and dear to my heart). We walk along one of the major roads with (fake) candles until we get to the hospital and then hold the lights up so the kids stuck in the hospital at Christmastime can see. A few carols are sung and a short concert is held.
Santa visited J's school this year
And we got a chance to go see some pretty lights. (J kept making faces instead of smiling for the picture.) The boys got to go to a petting zoo and have caramel apples while we were there.
We also went to a carnival at my parents' church. In addition to some bouncies and games, they had a snow hill for sledding. This was my kiddos first time sledding (being Arizona kids). Yes, C is sledding in a tshirt and sandals.

On Christmas Eve we went to church and then came home and put up Luminarias. Our whole neighborhood lines the streets with them - it's an amazing sight to see!

I also finished the boys sweaters as part of of their Christmas gifts

(Pattern is Alec in Cottonish. The one with the tan buttons is a size 5 and the one with the black buttons is size 7 but both have about an extra inch added to the length - I have tall kids)
We had our annual food contest at my mom and dad's house on Christmas Eve. This year we had to make cookies. The twist was they had to include peanut butter and Seagrams whiskey. I only came in third but I was really happy how they turned out. We also had breakfast with the inlaws. I think everybody was really happy with their presents too.
Merry Christmas!

 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Busy days

Man the weekend really goes fast when you're busy. I felt like I was constantly on the go. I did a little bit of Christmas shopping yesterday - in fact, aside from stocking stuffers and a book, I'm pretty much done shopping for my kids. I'm knitting sweaters for each of them but I'm not really counting that since I don't have to buy anything more for them.
I also finally got around to hanging a few picture frames. It was fun to go through my photos and decide which to print and where to put them. I made liberal use of sticky notes in my planning (why yes I may be a wee bit compulsive.) They're slightly visible in the background of the last picture.
Plus I did some baking. My family is once again doing our Christmas Eve contest - this year we are doing cookies, but with a twist. We all wrote down an ingredient on a piece of paper and drew out two of them. We ended up with peanut butter and Seagrams (gee thanks to whoever suggested that). So I decided to make a few test batches this weekend to see if I could come up with a recipe that works. I have definitely found my recipe!

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Another Sweater

While I was working on Serina my boys kept asking if I would make sweaters for them. I had to explain that as fast as they thought I was, I couldn't just whip up a sweater in just a few days (oh how I wish, though). However that got me thinking and led me to the idea of sweaters as Christmas gifts for them. A few days is not doable, a few months however...

I had two main criteria when starting this project. One, the sweater had to be dk or worsted weight. Any lighter weight would take too long (see Serina above). Any heavier and well, it's Arizona. It wouldn't get worn more than 1-2 days a year. Based on the first criteria, I picked Alec. I can do top down or bottom up sweaters but prefer top down. It's knitted in the round for the most part, which is good for me in terms of speed and tension. And as a bonus, it's got the most darling pattern on the front, with buttons too!

Two, the yarn had to be machine washable and good for this weather. The second criteria led me to Cottonish, a fairly inexpensive cotton acrylic blend. When I purchased it, I had the boys with me and subtley asked them about their favorite colors. They both ended up picking Royal Denim, a nice dark blue with purplish undertones.

It took me a couple of weeks and a couple of false starts to get through the pattern on the front but now I'm just cruising along. In the last week I've managed nine inches. I will probably have the body done by this weekend. This has been a super easy to understand pattern.And once I finish this one, the next sweater will be just like it, but two sizes bigger.

For more WIPs, check out Tamis Amis

 

 

Monday, October 13, 2014

It's about time!

My Serina cardigan is finally finished! After being on the needles for 25 months, I completed it a few weeks ago - I began swatching August 24, 2012 and cast off Septmeber 14, 2014. Granted I wasn't knitting on it the whole time; it sat in hibernation for a while. In fact it looks like I went five months between swatches on two different sized needle. I didn't even blog about it until I had been working on it for four months and it was sort of just an off handed comment.

With that said, I couldn't be happier with the final result. Much to my surprise and delight I have an item of clothing, made by me, that can go to work or be casual.

This photo was taken after wearing it to work for the first time (I've actually worn it once more since then). I love this picture - the color is not quite true to life but I can't wipe the smile off my face!

This is a little more true to color - the blue is brighter in person but this picture shows the color variation. The amazing detail in the pattern also shows better here.

Okay one last time on the details. The yarn is Bernat Sox multi in Wooded Denim, bought on clearance at Joann's. I used a Size 2 needle for the body and collar and Size 3 for the sleeves. The pattern is Serina. My Ravelry project page is here. I also talked about it on the blog here, here, here, here, and here.

Now onto to the next project!