Gifts and more

About a week ago I won a drawing at simple sparrow when Toni was celebrating her 201st post. I arrived home yesterday to find these goodies waiting for me:

gifts from simple sparrow
vintage buttons, fabric pieces, and a cute pincushion

Thanks Toni!! Edit: There was also a lovely little piece of candy--Japanese I think?--that unfortunately didn't last long enough to see this photo shoot. :)

On another note, here is some small evidence that I haven't given up on crafting yet (although I almost did yesterday when my sewing machine and I got into a vicious fight, but I won't go into the details of that here):

tissue holder
tissue holder

As anyone who knows me at all knows, tissues are my one true lifelong companion. I am never without them. I have a chronically stuffy nose, or some such thing. I don't think that's the technical term, but regardless, I always need some tissues. I should buy stock in Kleenex...something to think about.

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Going On

:::new spring shoes:::

spring shoes

:::new furniture:::

taka trunk

machine desk

:::continued progress on a weird experiment:::

plant progress

:::an unfinished project:::

unfinished bunny

:::feet ready for sandal weather:::

spring toes



The Cake Chronicles, Part II

march madness cake
note the barely perceptible green tinge to the icing--an unintentionally weak ode to st. patrick's day

Yes, yes, I know I just baked a cake two days ago. Is it pardonable if it's part of a scientific survey of a book? My goals are entirely academic, I assure you.

Yesterday was the beginning of March Madness, and in an ode to a long-standing tradition of my dad's of making a special batch of brownies to mark the event, I was looking to create our own quintessential NCAA championship dessert. This is the Basic Yellow Cake from this book, with the Basic Quick Buttercream Frosting. The whole thing didn't take too long to put together, which was a relief as I spent the earlier part of the evening making and then cleaning up from making this and this. I had a little bit of trouble with cooking it--nothing major, but by the time the edges of the cake were done, the center was still uncooked, so the sides turned out to be just slightly more done than one would like. I think the recipe maybe made too much batter, I don't know.

Overall, the cake was good, and the frosting was okay, but I don't think either one of us thought it was great. Personally I thought the cake smelled eggy (is that a word?)--I am not familiar with cake recipes--is 5 eggs a lot for a standard yellow cake? I have no idea. I'm so used to Duncan Hines cakes that I don't know what to expect from a homemade one. I didn't love the frosting. I'm not sure what I'm looking for from a frosting, but that one didn't hit the spot.

So, would I make it again? Eh, probably. But in the meantime, I guess I'll just have to keep searching for the perfect cake. *sigh* It's tough work, but somebody's got to do it.

a slice each



The Cake Chronicles

chocolate pudding cake
the gooey chocolate pudding cake

Last night I decided to try out a recipe from one of my recent acquisitions, The Perfect Cake by Susan G. Purdy. I chose the Chocolate Pudding Cake because 1) it sounded chocolaty and gooey (one of my favorite combinations), 2) unlike about 99% of the other recipes in the book, I had the ingredients for it, and 3) it looked like it would take under ten minutes to put together.

It was very quick to put together. And while it was quite good, and satisfied my chocolate-goo desire (for the moment, at least), it wasn't exactly what I wanted. To be fair, it calls for instant espresso and I used Illy Espresso--that's not the same thing, right? I think that made it taste a little weird. I think I was in the mood for something with a little more of a cake consistency, while this was I guess more brownie-ish. I might make it again though, if desperate for a chocolate fix and not wanting to invest a lot of time. I would probably just skip the espresso altogether though.

I think this book looks very promising though, and I would like to regularly try out some of these recipes.



Completed: Squirrely Swedish Mittens

mittens front

mittens back


Started: 12.25.06
Finished: 2.19.07
Pattern source: Elliphantom Knits, free pattern
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette, 1 skein each of Petal and Fog
Needles: Knit Picks DPNs and Knit Picks Classic Circular in 32", all size 1

I took a bunch of pictures and these were the best I got at the time--we don't really get good sunlight, um, ever. If I feel incredibly motivated, maybe I will try to take more pictures later.

This was my first time trying stranded color knitting. I thought this was a good, fun pattern on which to learn it. As you can tell, I had some difficulties--the mitten on the left is at least an inch taller (and significantly wider) than the one on the right. Oops, hehe. It's also very puckered. The one on the right is as well, but it's not quite as bad. I'm not going to go back and redo them either, because I am not a perfectionist knitter*. I do it for fun, and going back and re-knitting something is not fun to me--if I wanted great mittens, I would go buy some.

This was also my first time using Knit Picks Palette. I thought it was a good yarn, definitely for the price ($1.99/skein). It wasn't very soft, but then again I don't think yarns intended for stranded work are supposed to be soft, unless I'm mistaken. I thought the colors were good and vibrant for Knit Picks.

I also tried out two sets of Knit Picks needles in knitting this (and this is probably much of the cause of the size discrepancy). For the mitten on the left, I used aluminum DPNs. I found that to be kind of difficult (owing not in a small part to the fact that they were metal and not wood, which would have been smarter--duh). I knitted the one on the right with a circular needle using the Magic Loop method. I found that to be quite a bit easier, and then I didn't have to worry about two joins. Also, I was fairly impressed with the quality of the Classic Circular needles, though they don't quite measure up to the standard of Addi Turbos, IMO.

*Note: I am not insulting anyone--merely pointing out how all of us are looking to get different things out of knitting!


Completed: The Purl Scarf

purl scarf


Started: ~8.1.06
Finished: 2.19.07
Pattern source: This book
Yarn: Manos Del Uruguay in English E (2 skeins), Classic Elite La Gran in Honeydew (1 skein), and I *think* Rowan Kidsilk Haze (1 skein), though I'm not sure what shade it is. It was a tealy blue--Trance, maybe?
Source: Picked it up here on a visit to NYC
Needles: Denise Interchangeables size 13 or 15, I don't remember

I honestly don't remember much about knitting this. As you can tell, though it was an incredibly easy knit, I took forever procrastinating on it. I could've easily finished it in a week, but it took me about two months, then it took me another four months to add fringe to it and block it. Anyway, it's done now at least.

purl scarf close-up


Finished Books 2007

01/06: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
01/23: The Call of the Wild by Jack London
02/08: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (loved this)
02/15: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (loved this)
03/02: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
03/28: Emma by Jane Austen
04/26: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky


Finished Books 2006

1/16: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
1/21: The Last Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky
1/29: Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov
2/1: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
2/11: Persuasion by Jane Austen
2/16: Journey into the Whirlwind by Eugenia Semyonova Ginsburg
2/20: The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
3/29: Farewell to Matyora by Valentin Rasputin
5/28: Mendocino and Other Stories by Ann Packer
5/30: The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
6/13: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
6/13: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
6/13: Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi
6/19: Marley & Me by John Grogan
6/22: When You Rise Up by R.C. Sproul, Jr.
7/20: Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
7/24: Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke
7/26: Love's Enduring Promise by Janette Oke
7/27: Love's Long Journey by Janette Oke
7/30: Love's Abiding Joy by Janette Oke
7/31: Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
8/1: Love's Unending Legacy by Janette Oke
8/2: Love's Unfolding Dream by Janette Oke
8/3: Love Takes Wing by Janette Oke
8/4: Love Finds A Home by Janette Oke
8/9: The Tender Years by Janette Oke
8/11: A Searching Heart by Janette Oke
8/11: A Quiet Strength by Janette Oke
8/13: Like Gold Refined by Janette Oke
8/14: SuperFoods Rx by Steven Pratt
8/16: When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke
8/17: When Comes the Spring by Janette Oke
8/18: When Breaks the Dawn by Janette Oke
8/19: When Hope Springs New by Janette Oke
8/21: Beyond the Gathering Storm by Janette Oke
8/23: When Tomorrow Comes by Janette Oke
9/26: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith


Finished Books 2005

1/05: First Light by Bodie Thoene
3/05: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
4/05: A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
4/05: The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy
4/28/05: Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy
5/22/05: A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
5/23/05: Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
5/26/05: Lenten Lands by Douglas H. Gresham
6/8/05: The Dive from Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer
6/14/05: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (audiobook)
6/15/05: Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
6/15/05: The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
8/05: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
9/3/05 : Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman
9/14/05: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (audiobook)
11/28/05: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
11/29/05: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (two thumbs up)
12/17/05: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis


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