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NOM. January 7, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in food, Ravelry.
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Back in September 2007 I started a wee little group over at Ravelry called the Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Group group – at the time it was a lark as there were already a gazillion very specific groups such as “Knitters With Jesus-Shaped Birthmarks” and “Tea Cozies for Antarctic Penguin Enthusiasts”. You get the picture. At the time I said to Joy, “I should start a completely pointless and arbitrary group about nothing that you and I can hang out in!” So I created the group, we chortled at it, then promptly forgot about it for a week or so. When I returned to check it I discovered about 60 had joined it and were hanging out chatting! Color me surprised.

Over a year later the group has over 2700 members and is my favorite place to hang out online. People come and people go, but the biggest draw to the group is that it’s pretty much self-regulated. Members respect one another, help keep those in line who stomp on toes, and keep things as pointless as possible (well, most of the time). I love that we endured the 2007 US elections with members from both the hard left and the hard right and no one talked about politics there. It was strictly verboten. For the majority everyone just plays nice and don’t antagonize one another (in the CPaAGg, anyway – what they do in other groups on Ravelry is their own business). I love the sort of “get away from it all” vibe the place has taken on.

Anyway. I’ve mentioned the CPaAGg before but never really bragged about it. But I have to because I love those people. Once in a while someone thanks me for starting the group but really I have all of them to thank, because without them my lark would just be a lonely group with two members talking about farts and poo. Now we have thousands of people talking about farts and poo! Ha!

Even though the group had only been around for a few months when Margaret was born they organized a really awesome virtual baby shower for me, made and collected gifts, then had a Maine-based Raveler who I had already met in person deliver them to my house. It was incredibly touching and every time I use the blanket they made me (just about daily) or put Margaret into one of the outfits they sent I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. One of the best gifts by far, however, was this:

Hello Kitty Waffle Maker

Oh how I love this thing. I’ve made waffles in it a few times but never had the presence of mind to take pictures, but this morning it was a snow day and Michael was taking the day off to hang with the kids so we didn’t have to brave the roads taking them to the YMCA. He decided to make waffles and so Hello Kitty was pressed into service, having recently been unearthed from the eleventy billion things stuffed in our kitchen cabinets when he cleaned them out.

WAFFLES!

Hello Kitty Waffles!

These were teh nom. We ran out of the Bob’s Red Mill multi-grain mix we usually use so I pulled out the trusty Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book my Dad got me when I was in college. I discovered the secret to really awesome waffles – separate the eggs, put the yolks into the batter first, then beat the whites until stiff and fold in just before baking. That and a lot of vanilla extract (which incidentally wasn’t in the recipe – insanity!). I love vanilla. The recipe doesn’t even have any sugar in it, the vanilla extract is flavorful enough that they taste awesome without any butter or syrup or anything. Kidlet ate four of them before they even had a chance to hit his plate. Best of all it took about five minutes to whip up the batter so it’s very very quick. This is something I’ll make up in packets of just the dry ingredients to keep on hand for future snow days and weekend breffusts.

The Hello Kitty waffle maker was awesome in that it made four small waffles instead of one big huge one – these ended up being perfect for the kids, we were able to just hand one to Margaret and she could nom away on it as it was easy for her to hold in her chubby baby hands. We can also send these to daycare with her as they won’t take up a huge amount of space in her lunch box.

I hesitated to post the recipe until I looked online and saw the same one in about ten different places. I don’t think you can copyright waffles, can you? Anyway here you go:

Fluffy Vanilla-ey Don’t-Need-Nothin-On-Em NomNom Waffles!

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups milk
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup oil (I might reduce this to 1/4 cup the next time I make them)
A healthy sploosh of vanilla extract (real vanilla extract, not that fake crap!)

1. Mix dry ingredients, if you’re anal retentive like that. I didn’t. Shh, don’t tell Martha!
2. Lightly beat egg yolks and milk together until combined. Again, I didn’t bother doing this either but you can if you want.
3. Add egg yolks and milk to dry ingredients, mix until combined. A few lumps are okay.
4. Oh right, don’t forget the vanilla! Sploosh! I never measure vanilla extract.
5. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. I queued this up in my KitchenAid mixer and got it whipping while I mixed my batter.
6. Carefully use a rubber spatula to fold the egg whites into your batter until just combined – you might still have a few lumps of egg white but that’s okay.
7. Cook in waffle maker. DO NOT FORGET to oil the waffle maker very well before making waffles! I made this mistake once. What a mess.
8. Wait. Remove from waffle maker. NOM!

Tons of crafty and kid photos. November 19, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in bebeh, dyeing, Etsy, kidlet, Ravelry, spinning.
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I finally have a good bunch of photos of what I’ve managed to work on lately.

First, let’s start with a cheesecake shot of the yarn I had laid out on the table.

Cheesecake shot

Ahh, yarn. It looks kind of neat like that, and even neater knowing I made all of it.

Here’s all the yarn packed up and ready to be shipped out. The white box is half a dozen whoopie pies from Labadie’s – because I’m sorry but a whoopie pie just isn’t authentic unless it’s from Labadie’s. I find it funny that on their website they sell them for $24.95 a dozen (plus shipping) but if you buy them from the retail bakery they’re $0.50 apiece for six or $5.00 a dozen. Nom.

Packed up

Here’s the box! All told it was about nine pounds, so if you take out six whoopie pies that’s still a lot of yarn.

Boxed up

Joy received the box just fine today, whew! Here’s some excerpts that made me laugh. D is her coworker:

Joy: OMG YARN!
YARN IS HERE!

Joy: D is rolling around on the floor in my office.

Joy: WHOOPIE PIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Joy: Woot!

Joy: OMFG YOUR HANDSPUN.
O.k. I’ll stop yelling now.

Joy: D is freaking out.

Joy: O.k. so D is kind of totally fucking freaking out. (this one made me guffaw for reals)

Joy: Hehe, so the mail guy is standing there and he puts the box down and I grab it and make a run for it and he hollers “Wait! Wait wait wait! I have to scan that!”

I lurve her. :D :D :D

Moving on – some of you may remember the big fluffy pink and orange batt I cranked on Joy’s drum carder.

Fiber from my MT trip

Last night I wanted to do some spinning and that batt was speaking to me. It said, “Spin me slubby!” Now I’ve never spun a slubby yarn on purpose, I tend to be somewhat anal retentive and as a result can’t relax and spin anything that isn’t as close to perfectly uniform as I can get it. Which frankly pisses me off about myself. So I tried really hard and managed to spin the slubbiest single I’ve ever spun. I think it came out really pretty – I’m not sure if I should ply it or just leave it the way it is.

Handspun

I think I like it – it was definitely a LOT faster just going to town on it and I enjoyed the process. I’ll have to do this more often and get better at it.

I also buckled down and finished the teensy bit of that purple merino I’ve had sitting around forever, it was literally about half an ounce left sitting in the basket.

On the bobbin

I plan to ply this with another single of the same thing. I’m not sure if I’ll spin another 4 ounce bump or just ply this one on itself, in any case I’ve set it aside to work on later so I don’t get burned out.

I ALSO also practiced Navajo plying. I had a couple hundred yards of single on a bobbin with no home so I cleared that off and tried to get the hang of a new skill. It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t post detailed closeups, so here you go:

Navajo ply practice

Navajo ply practice

Okay, that last one looked good but here’s the reality – I had a few trainwrecks. You can see I even got my own HAIR in it. Nice.

Navajo ply practice

Overall though I think I’m starting to get it. I need to slow down as the resulting yarn is extremely kinky. Maybe I’ll ply something else around it and make aht yahn.

Last but not least, what is to come! I got some amazing, AMAZING rovings from The Loopy Ewe that were made by Creatively Dyed – what a fantastic customer service experience and what incredible rovings!

Ugh, they’re so pretty I can hardly stand it. 70% superwash merino, 30% seacell fiber. These are 8 ounce rovings, too, which means they’re HUGE.

Be Mine:

Creatively Dyed roving

So In Love:

Creatively Dyed roving

I have a second bundle of So In Love since I adored this colorway so much – last night I slivered it up to get it ready to spin. I discovered that it twists and kinks very easily due to being so soft and floaty, it was tough to split it the entire length but I managed all right. I can’t wait to see how it spins up!

Creatively Dyed roving

So, that’s it. I hope that was enough photos for you fiber enthusiasts. I do have one last photo – I had placed my wheel in front of the window to take photos, then moved it over when I was done. I looked down and thought it looked kind of artsy and the light was better so I took a few shots of it next to my table. The plaids of my cheapo Goodwill tablecloth and my tattered fug chairs clash a bit but overall I like it.

On the bobbin

Erm, ignore that Cheerio.


Last but certainly not least, I was browsing some of my other Flickr photos and came across two of my kids that I thought bore comparison. My finest works in progress:

mrh

Bebeh!

fin.

Busy busy November 14, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in dyeing, Etsy, Ravelry, spinning.
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Keeping busy is good.

This week has gone really well. I think I’ve gotten my work groove, finally. FINALLY. I’m getting up earlier (which I hate) and getting myself settled earlier as a result. I’ve felt a lot more driven and the prospect of getting paid is enough to keep me going most days.

I’ve also compiled all the yarn I’m going to send to Joy for her craft show next weekend…I dragged my feet so now I’ll have to ship it Priority Mail, but oh well. I think this was the impetus I needed to get creating again. The simple act of putting labels on everything and then photographing each skein made it seem very real to me.

I’ll have some cheesecake shots later, here’s a wide view.

Yarn for Craft Show

I also have a skein that I dyed custom for someone on Ravelry, I was feeling sort of nervous that she wouldn’t like it but she got really excited when she saw it. That made me feel very proud and happy.

Elphaba - Custom dyejob

More later, got lots to do before the weekend!

Minor craftiness. March 31, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in bebeh, knitting, Ravelry.
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Blanket squares

I’ve been busy working on some squares for a gift afghan through Ravelry, finishing more squares in the baby blanket I’ve been working on forever, and preparing to knit socks. I’ve got a bunch of nice patterns I found online and I even sprung for a couple from a really talented woman online at Suzi’s Knits. I think I’m going to start with the Acorn Rib socks as I have some great variegated brown yarn I can use.

So, I’ve been swatching. I’ve never been a big swatcher but it’s worth doing so I’m trying to discipline myself to do it, especially with something like socks where half an inch can make a huge difference in fit. Swatches are so darned cute, too. I’ll take pictures at some point…I’m very frustrated that the loaner camera doesn’t have any macro abilities so all my closeups look like crap. Ugh, can’t wait to get my Nikon back.

Camera update. March 26, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in Etsy, knitting, Ravelry.
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I got a loaner camera from Ritz as apparently it will take six to eight WEEKS to get my repaired lens, or a replacement, back. Good lord. I told the woman on the phone, “I have a newborn, she’s going to be completely different in eight weeks!” They were very nice about it all, however, and promised to try and put a rush on the lens and in the meantime loaned me a camera.

I don’t like it, though. It’s kind of crappy. It’s digital and apparently 6mpx, but it didn’t come with an on-board flash and they didn’t send a kit. It also takes AA batteries, four of em. It also-also lets you use the screen or the viewfinder, but both use digital images instead of a regular viewfinder that’s just a piece of glass. It’s really annoying as there’s a delay between reality and the photo being taken, and it’s slow to respond so I can’t take multiple photos one after the other, I have to wait for each one to save and it takes about 1.5 seconds. Still, I’ll admit it’s better than having no camera at all (or a camera with no lens). I wish we could afford to just buy another lens like the 55-200mm but at $225 it just isn’t to be. For now I’ll cope with CrappyCam.

And I just discovered that the cable I have for my camera won’t fit this one, so there’s no way to get my photos off of it. I guess I could try putting my card (thankfully they take the same one) into my Nikon sans lens and removing the files from there. Sigh.