Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jump, Skip and Hop away...

It's Leap Day! How many people can say that they've blogged on Leap Day? I don't actually have a lot to write about- or a lot of time, so instead, a photo.

Since this is a completely arbitrary and silly day, here's an (old) arbitrary and silly photo.


I wish I could say I was doing something exciting today, but I'm not. I'm working all afternoon and evening, and then probably scarfing down everything and sight and passing out. It could be worse!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Strawberry Buttercream- Heavy on the Butter

cupcake saturday

This is another cupcake from my mom's birthday. This one, suprise surprise, was a vanilla cupcake with strawberry frosting.

The vanilla cupcake was delicious! I used Bakerela's yellow cake recipe, and I'm so glad that I did. It was most and buttery. According to my mom, it tasted like a sugar cookie. Considering she managed to demolish an entire cupcake before I had even started frosting, this was a pretty significant compliment.


I had my best friend ever helping me out, so she made the frosting and decorated. Since this was her first time using frosting bags, we opted to use some non parleils and pink sugar to pretty them up even further. She was supposed to use my favorite strawberry frosting recipe ever, but wound up accidentally putting in an extra stick of butter, so they turned out to be "strawberry buttercream- heavy on the butter". Still delicious, just not very strawberry-ish!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Along the Shore

finished object friday

This project was in my queue for such a long time, it's rather pathetic. The first time I saw the Cable Braided Necklace, I fell in love. I haven't come across to many knit jewelry patterns, so this one caught my eye right off the bat. I also loved the construction- I couldn't figure out how on earth it was knit until I actually read the instructions.


This project was so simple. Seriously, you knit two strands with random eyelets and that's about it. The most complicated part was seaming it at the end, and really, you can't get much better than that. I churned this out during Puppy Bowl, that's how quick it is.


I knit it up in a beautiful colorway of Mini Mochi, and it hardly took any yarn. Now I'm just trying to figure out what I'm going to do with the rest of the skein, as it hardly made a dent. I knit 18 repeats, and it turned out rather larger than I had hoped. If I make it again (I have a feeling I will- what a great use of leftover yarn!), I'll probably only knit 14, to make it closer to flush at my neck. As it is, it has a tendency to turn on the side, rather than lie flat. I still absolutely adore it. The colors are fabulous- it remind me of walking along the beach at dusk. The yarn is deliciously soft, but very prone to breakage. It does not frog well at all. I think it would be lovely in a shawl, but I would be hesitant to use it in any garment, as it is so delicate.

Overall, I'm really pleased with this project! I've worn it more than a few times already.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Heat Rises

book review thursday

book review thursday You know, it's funny. Heat Rises seemed so much different from the other books that "Castle" supposedly wrote. I highly suspect they got a different ghost writer. The book was entirely more likeable than the other two. The characters didn't seem as poorly written, the innuendo and banter was well played, and the action was thrilling. The plot really hit me hard, as it paralleled the television show so closely. I also noticed the subtle nods to the show and to Nathan Fillion more readily than the previous books.

The writing felt like Castle. It was silly for the most part, but serious when needed. There were horrible jokes, and Beckett's deadpan really shone through. I loved the whole saga of Heat's attempts to gain Lieutenant, as well as Roach's care and consideration for Heat. All in all, I absolutely adored this book. I cannot wait to see what ABC has planned for his next book, because this one was a stunner.

My favorite part? The description and title of the book Heat was reading at the end. No spoilers, but it really made me grin.

(4/5 stars)

Sunday, February 19, 2012


start something sunday

I'm sure my whining about the horribly ugly, orange-ishly variegated yarn I have in my stash is far from anyone's memory. There's no need to remind you of just how annoyed I am at not being able to find a proper project for it. This weekend, I finally had enough of it. It had been staring at me for far too long in my pile of nice fiber. I'm telling you, that yarn is absolutely evil. And what is the best thing to do with evil yarn? Why turn it into a loveable monster of course!

I yanked out my copy of The Big Book of Knitted Monsters and promptly cast on for a monster. And then another. And then another. Good god, will this yarn ever end? I think I should be able to finish off the third monster and not have leftovers.

Unfortunately, even in monster form, the yarn is still as ugly as ever. Rather than be content to have some deeply terrifying monsters hiding in my closet, I decided to bite the bullet and try my hand at overdying. After consulting the What a Kool Way to Dye group on Ravelry, I determined the consensus was that any color would be an improvement. Tomorrow, when I hit the grocery store purple, green, and red kool aid will somehow find its way into my cart and these unstuffed monsters will be getting a bit of a bath.


Baldwin, I assure you, cannot wait.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Strawberries and Buttercream

cupcake saturday

Oh dear, I really haven't done this in entirely too long. I made these for my mom's birthday way back in the beginning of January. She specifically requested three types of cupcakes, so here's the first.


For someone who gave birth to such a sugar addict, my mom really isn't huge on sweets. She usually only eats a bite or two of whatever sweet things I make, and leaves the rest. Last year, she requested Creme Brulee: amaaaaazing! Though a plastic bag did wind up lit on fire by a certain someone who was supposedly showing me how professional chefs use the torch.

This year, her first request was for strawberry cupcakes with a vanilla frosting. Why not strawberry frosting? She thought it would be too overpowering. I think she's crazy, but whatever. I originally intended to use the Martha Stewart Strawberry Cupcake recipe in her cupcake book, but quickly realized my copy of the book has disapppeared into the ether. Instead, I trolled pinterest until I stumbled across this recipe from Apron of Grace.

They turned out super moist and delicious! I'll definitely make this recipe again. Even though it was a bit more labor intensive than I usually do for the actual cake portion of cupcakes (I prefer to spend my time eating batter and frosting doing fun fillings and creative flavored frostings), it was definitely worth it.


For the frosting, I wanted to do something special. I wound up using just a basic buttercream recipe (I'll include it in the bottom of this post), but I used Wilton's foodcoloring and normal food coloring to turn it pink and grey. After a giant fiasco with seran wrap, I just shoved gobs of the colors on opposite sides of the frosting back and went from there. About halfway through, I ran out of frosting and was running out of time, so they weren't all this pretty. It was definitely a fun change of pace from my usual frosting technique. I'd love to try this with more than two colors. Maybe next holiday...

Basic Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup softened butter

  • 4 cups powdered sugar

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 2-3 tablespoons milk

Beat butter until pale and fluffy, then slowly add in powdered sugar and vanilla. Add milk one tablespoon at a time, until you achieve desired consistency.

This is the basic recipe I use for most of my frosting- I play around with ratios when adding other flavors. For example, when making the grape soda cupcakes, I used 4 tablespoons grape soda, rather than vanilla and milk. Yum yum yum! For these cupcakes, I just left it as basic vanilla buttercream, as my mom requested.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Captain Planet Is Our Hero... Gonna Take Pollution Down to Zero!

finished object friday

If you hadn't figured out by the last FO Friday post, I love bright colors. In high school, whenever it was time for me to wear a club shirt (usually black), they were always paired with horribly obnoxious colored pants.

I was kind of infamous. Well, at least in my mind. At any rate, you give me something retina-searing and I'm most likely going to fall in love with it. This yarn was no exception.


Knit up in the appropriately named Acid colorway of Manos Del Uruguay Maxima, my in the colorway Acid, my Beluga Slouch was an absolute dream to churn through. A few episodes of Doctor Who and an Auditing class, and bam, it was done. And slouchy. Very, very slouchy.


Unfortunately, I still suck at pom poms. I make them so infrequently, I haven't been able to justify just shelling out for a pom pom maker, but really I ought to. Sadly enough, getting a nice sized pom pom was the most troubling part of this project. Sad, I know. This project was doubly exciting, as it was my first FO for 12 in 2012. I'm planning on covering that topic in a bit more detail soon.

In terms of the title, well that one is rather silly. Back in the olden days, we kiddos watched cartoons that shoved morals and social responsibility down your throat with every message. The prime example of this was Captain Planet. Ridiculously goofy, yet utterly endearing, I'd sit my happy butt down and watch it for hours. To this day, I still remember all of the words to the theme song- which I demonstrated by having said song stuck in my head the entire time I was knitting this. Whoops.

So, before you object, here's the earworm for you as well!

The power is yours!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Grave Peril

book review thursday

book review thursday Wow. Talk about a disappointment! This audiobook started off with a message from the author, Jim Butcher. In which, he described how many of his fans consider Grave Peril the book in which he really develops as a writer. This coupled with the fact that many reviews for the series state that his writing gets better as the series progresses really brought my hopes up for this book.

Those hopes? Yeah, they were shattered with a overwhelming wave of misogyny and over-sexualization. While the author had previously ranted and raved about Dresden's "chauvinism" and failed to develop the new female characters out of a shell, this book brought it all to a new level. There were several points that I had to pause the book because I was so annoyed by the writing. The attractive qualities of every female was described in excruciating detail every time they entered into a scene. The bad-ass female characters reveled in mixing sex with violence. It was very "HERE. Let me show you I'm an evil female character by shoving my boobs in your face and licking my lips." Talk about revolting.

Couple this with the numerous "bad guys" and you've got yourself an incredibly convoluted plot with little appeal. Murphy was absent essentially the entire book, which frustrated me to no end. She seemed to be the only female character that Jim Butcher has attempted to give some sort of characterization other than "hawt" (although he does often lapse into how cute she is. Talk about patronizing). I have to wonder if Butcher has ever actually spoken to a woman, given just how deeply fantasized all of the scenes involving females are. It was almost as if I was reading his masturbation fodder at some points. That's not something you want to think about while reading.

Overall, I was just incredibly disappointed int his book. Butcher seemed to devolve his writing immensely in this book. While I enjoyed the introduction of Thomas and Michael, all of the characterization seemed lackluster. The plot was an absolute mess, and should have pared down the twists/bad guys considerably. The whole Harry being down on his luck and all alone while he defeats his nemesis schtick is getting pretty old as well... Overall, I didn't enjoy this book. Hopefully the next one is better, otherwise I might be ditching this series, as much as I enjoy the concept (and the voice of James Marsters).

(2/5 stars)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Muppet Flail

finished object friday

First, let me get this off my chest:

I got a job! I start on Monday, and I'm super excited (and incredibly nervous).

Now that that's been said, I have a story for you.

Once upon a time, a overzealous knitter bought yarn for a new project. This knitter had used the brand of yarn in question before, but never in that colorway. Being rather stupid overly excited, the knitter ignored all of her previous experience with highly variegated yarn and bought two hanks of Manos del Uruguay in the colorway Chrysanthemum.


Despite the fact that the colors resembled that of the skein on the left, the knitter was absolutely smitten. No one knows why, since she's never particularly liked the color orange, and really started avoiding it when she started attending OU. Even still, she was convinced that the yarn was going to be gorgeous when she knit it up. She immediately flew home to cast on what she knew was going to be the perfect pattern for it.

It wasn't. The yarn looked like clown barf.

Not deterred, the knitter frogged her barf. She chucked the barfy yarn out of sight and learned from her mistake. This time, she bought a yarn without variegated colors. That yarn happened to be highlighter yellow, but that's beside the point.


She knit and knit and knit, until finally, one day, her Honey Cowl was finished. The knitter eagerly bound it off the needles and put it on.


That's when the knitter realized she probably should have gone down a few needle sizes because she knew she had horribly loose gauge. Whoops. Now the cowl almost reached her knees.


The overzealous knitter still loved the cowl, though even mere photos couldn't contain the retina searing color. She happily wore the cowl until everyone around them had lost all ability to see from the blinding color.

The end.

(And no, the yarn isn't that yellow color. Uncap a yellow highlighter and look at it. That is the color this cowl is. Even my camera screamed in agony over at it. I'm in love).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Execution of Sherlock Holmes

book review thursday

book review thursday I'm going to throw up a disclaimer here that I don't actually know a lot about Sherlock Holmes. My first encounter with the character was on a television show I obsessively watched growing up: Wishbone. Apart from references in various movies, TV shows, and books, I still wasn't too experienced in his canon until fairly recently. I've since read a handful of the original stories, but again, I'm still no expert. After the first movie came out, I rushed to get an anthology of stories. After reading one (and a half), I set the book down because I couldn't knit and read at the same time (this is one of the main reasons I really want both a Nook *and* an iPad). I loved the stories, the characters, the mysteries, everything about the book. It was just too frustrating to just sit there and read. I was still anxious to read more int hat era, as I've come to really love mystery novels, particularly one set in the past.

I entirely blame my grandmother for that one. When she bribed me to read her Nancy Drew novels, she sparked a love of reading that has never subsided. And, apparently, a love for detective stories.

At any rate, when I stumbled across The Execution of Sherlock Holmes at my local library's overdrive site, I immediately queued it up. From the first story, I was hooked. I listened to the majority of this while deathly ill, and it absolutely perfect timing. My normal routine when sick is to drown myself in as many truly horrible Lifetime movies as possible and cry for hours on end, but this took my attention away from self-pitying.

The writing truly sounded like what I've read of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The stories were thoroughly engaging, and each had interesting twists that kept me guessing. My only minor quibble was that the first story was by far the strongest, so it was a bit of a disappointment that the subsequent mysteries were not as excellent. While they were good, they weren't as amazing as the first. Holmes and Watson both rang true to me, and I really enjoyed how the first story tied in with the last.

One odd thing about this book, however, was that one of the middle stories was so annoyingly familiar that it drove me crazy while listening to it. This was by no fault of the author, but it reminded me of something I had read or seen ages ago that had similar notes. From what I can remember, a young, unmarried girl is either believed to be or actually was having an affair with a married man. Her "lover" leaves a note for her asking her to leave a light and door unlocked on if she wishes to see him. The next morning, her corpse is found. I have no idea what or where I encountered this shell of story. Now it's driving me absolutely crazy.

At any rate, I really enjoyed this book, and it's definitely moved more Sherlock Holmes-esque fiction into my To Read list. I can't wait to read more of the actual canon as well. This book receives two thumbs up from me!

(4/5 stars)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Can Someone Please Explain to Me...

How these are the same colorway:


On the left, you can see the hideous clowbarf that became my Improv Cowl. Yes, I still have over a skein and a half left of that ungodly color. Right now, I'm trying to decide on striped mittens, a Rebecca Danger Monster, or just chucking the whole thing in with some kool aid and hoping that it will overdye to something not vomit worthy.

The skein on the right? The same damned colorway. You would have thought that I would have learned my lesson after skein after skein of difficult variegated Manos del Uruguay. Did I? Nope. About six months after I purchased the skein from hell, apparently I went into an entirely different yarn store and bought the same exact colorway. On the plus side, it's entirely different. It looks fabulous in the pattern I chose for it, and is being entirely less troublesome than the other skeins. The downside? Uh. I may have only bought half of the yarn I needed. So now, almost a year later, I'm going to have to try to match colors.

Sometimes, I wonder how I haven't come up on the Darwin Awards yet...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

She Blinded me with Accesories!

Hey! Hey you! Do you remember that project I featured a few weeks ago for FO Friday? You know, the retina-searing highlighter cowl?


Yeah, that one. Well my super awesome, amazingly wonderful significant other bought me a matching purse for Valentine's Day.


Best. Boyfriend. Ever.

Hopefully this will help me weed out the anvil sized bulge I usually carry in my purse. My previous purse could be used as a body bag, so this one is significantly smaller. I am in loooooove.

A Good Yarn

book review thursday

book review thursday A Good Yarn was the sequel to The Shop on Blossom Street. I was hoping that this book would show some of the author's growth as a writer as it was written significantly later than the first book. Sadly, this wasn't the case. If anything, this book was worse than the first. While the characters were slightly more likeable, the entire plot was recycled. There was an older, emotionally stunted woman who was too afraid to accept the love of her husband. There was a emotionally devastated middle-aged woman who eventually learns to move past what she can't control. Finally, there was a young woman who is facing past demons and intense loneliness. The characters were slightly more likeable- though none of them were given the significant amount of face time needed that would have made them relate-able. Again, I was incredibly ambivalent while reading this. None of the characters drew me in, and I wasn't really too excited to finish the book. While almost all novels, no matter the genre, have some predictability toward the end, this one didn't even make the journey there enjoyable. I honestly wouldn't even recommend this as a fluff read- nothing was engaging enough to suck you out of your own world. You could think about a thousand other things while reading this book, and still retain all of the information the author provides. There's just not enough depth to it to really enjoy it.

A significant amount of the appeal in romance and chick lit novels is not only the predictability, but the knowledge that everything is going to be okay. Tied with that is the investment and how you relate with the character. There's a term that I know is prevalent in fan-fiction at the very least that describes such characters: Mary Sues. While they have characteristics and personality, it's described shallowly enough that the reader can place his or herself into the story. The author has to be careful to make the character deep enough to be emotionally invested, but not so fleshed out in order to alienate some of the readers. This author failed miserably on this front. She didn't give the characters enough depth. It felt like a perfunctory sketch of a person- and a highly unrealistic one at that.

In the end, I'm thoroughly dissappointed in these books. While I enjoy a good romance and chick lit novel as much as the next one, these didn't even cut it as that. I wouldn't recommend this series, period.

(1/5 stars)