Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Baking

I did a lot of baking this Christmas season. As I mentioned I went to a cookie exchange earlier in the month. Basically all of the participants had to bring half a dozen treats and exchange them and then bring an appetizer to share. For my treat I ended up doing mini loaves of chocolate toffee bread - I found a great recipe at Crazy Little Projects that I used. Rather than slicing it and then packaging it, I just decided to give away whole loaves.

For my appetizer I decided to go with a Brie cup. I was inspired by a recipe on Recipe Girl's site but decided to shake it up. I took phyllo cups (in the frozen section at the grocery store) and added a little bit of raspberry jam to the bottom of each cup. Then I added a piece of Brie on the top. I baked them at 375 for about five minutes. As soon as they came out of the oven I topped them with chopped walnuts. They were so delicious but bad blogger that I am, I forgot to take a picture of them.

In addition to the cookie exchange I did my usual Christmas baking. I made peanut butter balls as I usually do but the rest of my baking was very mint-centric. I had fun with the seasonal m&ms and Hershey kisses! For one of my goodies I took a chocolate cookie recipe I've used in the past and added 1/4 teaspoon of mint extract and then mixed in mint m&ms. These were probably my favorites.

Next up were brownie bites with candy cane kisses. I followed this recipe and while it ultimately ended up fine, I had some problems along the way. I have a convection oven and was having a hard time getting the settings right. The were underdone in the center but ended up dry in the end. I think I need to work on my temperature control. I also didn't grease the tin enough on the first batch so they stuck but luckily fixed that on the second (but hey at least I was able to eat the messy batch myself!) The other thing is the candy cane kisses are much softer than the normal ones - it takes a while for them to set but I was prepared for that to happen at least.

Last up were sugar cookies with the rest of the candy cane kisses. I took the sugar cookies and rolled them green colored sugar for a festive look. Like the brownies, the kisses ended up very soft but they ended up setting up okay.

(This was taken pre-kisses)

And for good measure here's a picture of the peanut butter balls!

My favorite!


Saturday, December 28, 2013


We had a very nice Christmas season full of lots of activities and hanging out with our families. I also managed to get all of my Christmas knitting done, just barely - I finished a little hat ornament for my aunt on Christmas Eve morning.

I went to a cookie exchange early in the month and made chocolate toffee loaves to share. I also made raspberry Brie phyllo cups for my appetizer.

My boys participated in a church Christmas program (J's first program)

They visited Santa

J's preschool had a Christmas program too

We made giant gingerbread men at my mom's house

Everybody also got the presents they wanted.

It's been a great month



Monday, November 11, 2013

The view from my ride

As part of my goal to lose some weight (15 pounds so far - woot) I've been trying to bike more. One of the great things about my city is the wonderful bike trails, lanes and bridges. It makes it easier to stay motivated since I can explore more than just my immediate neighborhood.

While I've been out on my rides, I have also taken the time to stop and get a few pictures. The variety of the scenery on my rides is just amazing - suburban and desert mixed together.

Plus this guy!

I had a roadrunner cross pretty much right in front of me! How cool is that?!


Friday, November 1, 2013

Finished Object Friday - Booties

A friend of mine is having a baby and I'm going to her shower this weekend. I wanted to make a pair of booties for her so I decided to knit a pair of Saartje's booties. I have had this pattern in my Ravelry queue forever and decided this was the perfect chance to make them.

I had quite a bit of leftover yarn from my first pair of socks so I used that and I found the most adorable buttons at Joann's - little flowers! I used my size 1.5 needles, which is what the pattern called for, but they ended up smaller than they are supposed to be. I think they will still work okay for a newborn but I was hoping they would fit a little longer. It is a really cute, quick pattern though! I will definitely make them again, although probably with a larger needle and thicker yarn.

For more finished objects, check out Tami's Amis!


Friday, October 25, 2013

Finished Object Friday - More Socks

This week I finished up another pair of socks - for C this time. Earlier in the year both my kids asked for a pair of hand knit socks. I finished J's pair a few weeks ago and then moved onto the pair for C.

The yarn is Heart and Sole by Red Heart, knitted on a Size 1.5 needle. C's shoe size is somewhere between a kids 13 and an adult 1 so I went about 6.75 inches long with 56 stitches around. The pattern is a plain top down, slip stitch heel flap construction. I think it may be time to branch out to a new pattern for my next pair since I've done this pattern a few times now.

After finishing these socks I moved on to my next project. My friend's baby shower is next weekend so I wanted to make something for her. I'm giving Saartje's booties a try.

I also have to take a minute to brag about my knit worthy niece! Her birthday was earlier this month and a few days beforehand I was teasing her, telling her she was going to love what I got her for her birthday. She said, "ooh did you make me a hat and scarf?!" Unfortunately the answer was no but now I totally know what she is getting for Christmas! What a cutie!

For more finished objects check out Tami's Amis!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013


This past week E and I went to Las Vegas. We had already done quite a bit of traveling this year between Iowa and San Diego but this time we had a chance to go somewhere just the two of us so we seized the opportunity. It was so nice to get away, even for a few days. We spent most of the time just wandering from hotel to hotel but also had a nice dinner each night and also went on the Effiel Tower Experience. A few pics from the trip:

The view from our room. We stayed at Paris.

This was the view from dinner the first night - we ate at a place with an outdoor patio and spent some time people watching while we ate. Plus the Bellagio fountains went off while we were there.

This is a view of the strip from the Effiel Tower. Kind of scary for me when we were going up but I really enjoyed it when we were up there.

Gardens inside the Bellagio

Walking on the bridge between New York New York and Excalibur

Inside the M&m store. I've got to admit that a store devoted to chocolate is right up my alley!

Speaking of chocolate, this was dessert the second night. Chocolate and vanilla mousse with a ladyfingers crust and chocolate curls. E went with the strawberry cheesecake.

I had a lot of fun on our trip. I think we will have to make this an annual event!


Friday, September 20, 2013

Finished Object Friday

It's Friday and I have not one, but two finished objects to share! First up, the pig. Another coworker had a baby so I wanted to go with my usual book and stuffed animal for a gift. I decided to knit the pig from Itty Bitty Knits and pair it with "Moo, Baa, LaLaLa" by Sandra Boyton. Side note: I love her books; they are super cute and fun!

I used my Size 5 dpns and knitted it with what I think is Pound of Love (a friend decided after trying to learn to knit that she wasn't going to continue so she gave me some of her yarn and I'm not 100% positive on what I used.)

This is such a great pattern. I absolutely love his tail!

I wasn't originally expecting to have another finished project this week. I have been working on socks for my kiddos. My kids are so sweet; they want hand knit socks just like mom has. What I forgot to take into account is how much smaller their feet are and how much quicker the knitting goes because of that. All the sudden I realized I was only about 15 rows from being done. I decided to go ahead and push to finish them.

My son wears a size 11 in kids so these are 2 and 1/2 inches high and 6 inches long. I used my 1.5 dpns and cast on 48 stitches, using a very vanilla sock recipe with a heel flap and gusset that was done top down. The yarn is something that I got at Hobby Lobby but the brand escapes me right now. They are slightly too long but this will allow him to get more use out of them before he outgrows them. My next project is to make the same socks in a size 1 shoe size for my other son.

For more finished objects check out Tami's Amis


Monday, September 2, 2013


Man, things have been busy around here lately! C started first grade and J started school for the very first time (preschool) a few weeks ago.

My first grader!

My preschooler!

Then we hit another milestone around here, as C lost his first tooth last weekend.

I have also knocked a few things off my resolution list. I just finished my fifth book for the year. I also busted out the sewing machine. I watched a Craftsy that was immensely helpful and then tried to see what I could do.

The results are super rough but I managed to make a shirt for my son's bear. It doesn't look too bad from afar but up close the uneven seams are pretty obvious. My straight seams are not so straight and the zig zags are not evenly spaced. I also didn't hem the neck. But for a first effort, I'm really pleased!

The other thing on my that I accomplished was definitely the most difficult - I've lost 10 pounds. I've been using My Fitness Pal to track what I eat and trying to bike ride more and this week I hit the ten pounds lost mark. I still have more I want to lose but this is a great first step.

And of course I've been working on my knitting. I've become somewhat hooked on sock yarn...

It does all have a purpose though. I bought a bunch of the it on clearance at Hobby Lobby. The bright multicolor pink yarn will be socks for my niece. The blue grey at the bottom and the brown will be a couple of pairs for C. The blue and green ball is a pair for J (I'm also currently working on a dark blue and black pair for him.) The other three are going to be socks for me. I can't remember what brand the blue and green cake is but I got it at one of the local LYSes. The dark blue at the top is a Zauberball (!!) from another local LYS. The last one is Candy Skein's August colorway, Blue Hawaiian. I never realized before how much I gravitate towards blue based yarn - I think my niece's socks are the only ones without at least a little blue.

Boy has it been busy around here!


Friday, August 2, 2013

San Diego

We took a trip to San Diego a few weeks ago for a long weekend. It was a blast. We stayed near Mission Bay and went to the beach one day. My in-laws were there so we stayed with them. It was great - we pretty much spent the whole time relaxing!

J at Mission Beach

C watching the waves

E made sand castles with the boys (and their minions). This is one of my favorite pictures.

We stayed right by the bay!

We were close enough to see the fireworks at Sea World

It was so great to escape the heat and relax!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Finished Object Friday

I finished my starry night socks this week. I started these way back in January and it's nice to have them finally finished (even though it's too hot to wear them for very long).

I used Opal sock yarn in the Vincent Van Gogh Starry Night color way. I chose a basic top-down, heel flap sock. They were knitted on Size 1.5 needles and definitely fit better than the pair I did on my size 2s.

I noticed that I suffered from second sock syndrome more on this pair compared to the first pair I made. But now that they are done, I'm so glad I finished.

For more finished objects, check out Tamis Amis.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Finished Object Friday

I'm super excited for my most recent finished project. I made the child's tank top from the most recent issue of Knit Simple for my niece's birthday.

My niece is turning three (and wears 3s and 4s) so I made the size 4, which is the smallest size the pattern comes in and I used my size 7 circulars. Part of me wonders if I should have gone with the size 5 so she would have room to grow. I did end up adding half an inch to the body and half an inch to the strap to give it a little more room. (Poor J had to be my model to make sure it fit!)

My yarn was Violena - a DK weight, cotton rayon blend. Originally I wanted to do it in all pink but they didn't have enough of the yarn I wanted in the store. They did have enough of the lime green. So I decided to get creative and combine the two. Honestly now I'm so glad they didn't have enough pink because I absolutely love the color combination!

I had a lot of yarn left over so I decided to make a couple of barrettes to go with it. I think this may be my favorite part of the whole project!

One of my knitting books has a few different motifs in it including a flower and a leaf so those were the basis for the barrettes. I knit the flower on a size 7 needle and did the leaf on a size 5. I then stitched the flower to the leaf and hot glued the whole thing to the barrette.
I am so excited about this project! My Ravelry page is here. For more finished objects check out Tami's Amis.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Vacation Part 2

Here's the rest of the vacation story...

Monday night we decided to stay in Des Moines so we wouldn't get back too late plus we thought it might be fun to visit the Capitol (my niece had done a history of Iowa report during the school year so she was interested in the building)

It's a beautiful building with a gold plated dome.

That is looking up to the ceiling from the middle of the first floor.

C in the House chambers

After that we went to the State History Museum. E and I took a picture in American Gothic. They had a lot of interesting history there.

Next it was time to visit my aunt's farm. C with the cows.

J checking out the tractor with my dad. We also went over to my cousin's house and had brats and hot dogs. The kids got to play and visit the chickens.

Wednesday we went and toured the town I grew up in.

Here's the hospital I was born at

And the house I lived in.

We also stopped at our old pizza place. Later that day was one of the more exciting (aka scary) adventures. We went to the mall by our old house and while we were there they issued a tornado warning. We actually had to take shelter in one of the hallways. Luckily the storm went straight east above us. But I was still a little anxious - it's not something I deal with in Arizona.

The next day we were on the road again, heading to South Dakota (another state I had never been to).

We stopped at a place called the Corn Palace, which basically is a tourist trap revolving around corn. Here we are acting corny.

The next day we went to Mount Rushmore. But first we stopped at a place called Wall Drug. The entire route along I90 is covered with signs advertising what amounts to a giant drug store and restaurant in Wall, SD.

Then it was off to Mount Rushmore!

It's really amazing how they were able to construct it.

They had a neat pathway with flags from all of the states at the entrance. Of course I took a pic of the AZ one.

After we left we stayed in Cheyenne for the night. Wyoming was the other state I hadn't been to before the trip.

We encountered another storm and I managed to get a picture of the lightning.

The next two days were primarily travel days, although we did stop at a place called Casa Bonita for lunch one day. It's a unique restaurant - they had divers performing while you eat.

On Sunday we finally made it back.

Hello Arizona! Glad to be back!