Tuesday, February 14, 2012

10oT: Chocolate Treats

This week's Ten on Tuesday topic, in homage to Valentine's Day, is your top ten favorite chocolate treats.  And well, let's be honest, there is only one truly phenomenal chocolate treat.  A chocolate treat that despite its commercialized processed foodieness is the king of all kings in the world and that, as we all know, is the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  May it be in the form of a Valentine's heart, an Easter egg, or a Christmas tree, it is the best.  The peanut butter is just the perfect amount of salty and sweet to compliment and bring out the delicious creamy goodness of the chocolate.  It is, perhaps next to the Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte, the most perfect indulgent treat.
Now I know folk are going to want to pooh pooh this.  I mean it isn't organic, homemade, gourmet, or even slightly high end.  It is like the McDonald's of burgers.  BUT FOLKS ARE WRONG.  The Reese's Peanuty Butter Cup transcends its simple and humble and heck, even ghetto, origins. 

Now, in light of my almost eulogistic prose on the RPBC (as well as the size of my arse), you may find it hard to believe that I am not a huge chocolate lover.  In fact, when it comes down to it, I'll take white (itsnotreallychocolateIKNOW) chocolate over milk or dark any day of the week. Many chocolate things make me want to gag.  Like chocolate pudding.  WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?  I mean come on, chocolate pudding?  People like this?  ARE THEY HIGH? I mean seriously, crack?  Chocolate pudding is to crack heads as Yoohoo is to pot heads?   In any event, there are some other chocolate(ish) things I do like. 

1) Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  You knew this gonna be number one.

2) Dunkin Donut's White Hot Chocolate.  It is currently off the menu, and this makes me sad.  Which is how I discovered ...

3) DD Coconut Hot Chocolate.  It sounded kind of gross but not so gross as to be repulsive.  So I have it a go.  Yum!  It's no white hot chocolate, but it's not too bad either.

4) Stop & Shop Bakery's Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I miss Publix and all of its sub sandwich goodness.  It does not, at least as far as I know, have these cookies though. I'm not sure what S&S does to these cookies, but when I need a sugar fix, these are a go to item.  And they are one of those foods where I can't eat just one.  For example, the night before last baby cravings set in and I needed these cookies.  My husband offered to go get them.  Only the fact that I have an OB appointment on Wednesday and did not want to explain a 15 lb weight gain stopped me.  Barely.  I caved today and am feeding some to my kids to mitigate any binging.

5) My Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies WITH PECANS.  I use the recipe that use to be found on the back of the Toll House Chocolate Chip bag.  I suspect the recipe is the same today, but mine is off of the back of the bag when a bag of chips was 16 oz., not 12 oz., so perhaps not.  And for the record, did they really think people wouldn't notice the smaller bag for the same cost?  Anyway, I use that recipe, then I add about two and a half cups of chopped pecans and I slightly undercook them.  They are really good. 

6) Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix. As far as boxed brownie mix goes, this stuff if the bombdiggity.  I like to add another cup of milk chocolate chips to the mix, even if I am leaving it as a plain brownie.  Actually I like to add a cup of milk chocolate chips and a cup and a half of pecans because we all know the salty nut MAKES the brownie, and consider it a plain brownie BUT there are those poor sad, palate-challenged, folks that don't "like" nuts in baked goods.  They also don't like RPBC so you just have to feel sorry for them and move on.  For what it is worth, if you're not adding nuts, this is the perfect basic brownie for which to add things like toffee bars or mint candy (break up candy into small bits, add half the brownie mix, then the candy, then the rest of the mix), or sea salt (add a little on top before baking and then once done cooking, a good bit more to top while cooling). 

7) Mudslide. I'm not sure how you are officially suppose to make these but I've got a version I like.  A lot.  I like to take some whole milk ... this is where having a toddler rocks.  They need whole milk and you can use some and not feel like an alcoholic slug for buying a gallon of the stuff.  Anyway, blend some whole milk, vodka (vanilla is nice but plain works), Kahula, a handful of white chocolate chips and ice.  And then, once you have it blending and the chips are no more, squirt in a whole load of chocolate syrup.  Feel free to be heavy handed with that chocolate syrup.  It hides the fact that you were heavy handed with the vodka.  Sometimes I add a Starbucks Via packet which adds some coffee flavor also helps mitigate things when you've gone a little over board with the vodka. 

8) Chocolate fondue.  Pineapple, strawberries, marshmallows, these are all things that do not suck when smothered in chocolate fondue.

9) Aero Milk Chocolate Bars. There are several versions out there, but I first had the Nestle version when studying at Oxford University.  Those chocolate bars filled with little airy holes make a delightful treat!  Kids like them too because you can tell them that they are worm holes. 

10) Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  You knew I was gonna count this chocolate perfection twice, right?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Made In America

I've only posted about one hundred gazillion dozen times about my Turkish Bed Socks.  So instead of re-hashing the whole process, I thought I would recap my overall thoughts ... be ye not as dumb as me, READ THE PATTERN.

Having knit, reknit, cut, grafted, and re-reknit these socks some more, I finally ended up with a finished pair of socks, and an extra heel cup area, and thought I was done.  So then I went out and purchased (an early Valentine's Day gift from my awesome husband) a pair of ugly shoes only to find (really??) that my socks are too long for the look I wanted.  Because I still, AFTER ALL OF MY SCREW UPS, DISREGARDED THE PATTERN!?!

So, if I want my socks to look like this, my initial inspiration,  the whole reason that I wanted to knit the socks, some sort of strange handknit sock porn for me, if I want that, I have to fold over an inch or so of the sock and tuck them under my toes.  Which you know, NOT comfortable.  Yes, the pattern said knit them shorter than normal and I said shorter schmorter.  Again, be ye not as dumb as me, READ THE PATTERN.  I could cut them and regraft them, you know AGAIN but I am done.  D. O. N. E. done. I'm just gonna wear them with other shoes and call it a day.

Yarn: SHIBUI Sock, color orchid, #4021, lot #5787, slightly less than 1 skein
Needles: Addi Turbo Circs, size 3.0 mm (US 2.5)
Pattern: Churchmouse Yarn's Turkish Bed Socks
Modifications: Too many.  Next time, follow the directions EXACTLY
Time: 5 days.
Care: Machine wash, gentle cycle, cold water. Dry flat.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Too Homespun

Pre-school Valentines and the need to not have the lamest Valentine ever can be a little scary.  Or perhaps I am just a little crazy?  Let's split the difference and go with both, m'kay?  I KNOW.  HUSH.  Move on from my crazy!

Our pre-school has a 'no candy' policy, but J1's teachers, knowing that the Valentine's will not be opened until the kids are home and out of class when the parents can parent, have a 'what happens in the Orange Room stays in the Orange Room philosophy.'  So, we could easily have slapped some candy on a store-bought Valentine and called it a day.  In hindsight, this is a smart way to go.  In any event maybe it is my inherent need to follow the rules, even when the rules are allowed to be broken, which is in total opposition to my driving/speed limit actions, but whatever, I didn't want to do candy Valentines.  This is why I decided J1 and I should get our craft on for Valentine's Day and decided to go with the recycled/homemade heart crayon Valentine idea that a friend recommended.  I perused Pinterest for further inspiration and thought I had a clear idea of what we were doing.

Clearly I did not, though when you look at our Valentines en mass, they seem fine.  But in reality, or at least in my perfectionist not-three-and-a-half-years-old brain, they are a little too homespun.  J1, however, is pleased so I am going to concentrate on that.  Should I ever decide to undertake this venture again, a few notes to myself ...

Select more similar colors.  Yes, your kid LOVES purple, it is her favorite color in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD, but even a color blind person could see that the red and purple crayons look somewhat awful together.  That is not going to change when they bake.

Some people have glitter that bakes and stays glittery.  You are not one of those people.  Your sparkly red glitter will turn to black.  Black dots in homemade crayons look like dirt.  Your kid knows the black dirt dots were glitter and doesn't see this dirt dilemma, the other parents will.  GLITTER = FAIL.

Craft foam may seem like an awesome medium to attach things to and maybe it is.  It is not an awesome medium to print on.  My printer will not print on craft foam.  It will print on labels but those labels will not stick to craft foam.  So, unless you have a hankering to find your sharpest Sharpie and write some lame poem a dozen times, a poem that seemed not so lame until you wrote it a dozen times and then seems like the lamest thing ever, find a different medium.  This will also help with reducing the tears factor, when at some point your kid will have a hard time writing her name on craft foam and will goof up one, or four, of your Sharpie poemed masterpieces.  You will, tired of writing the stupid poem, snap.  She will cry.  Lesson? Craft foam is bad for this.

Your hole puncher has about a one inch reach.  You can not get it to punch three or four inches in from an edge and your three hole punch which may be able to do this has vanished. While it is incredibly crafty to let your kid rummage through your yarn stash and pick out some hand-dyed superwash sock yarn which you then will thread through a darning needle and use to sew your crayon onto your Valentine, it is only crafty for you.  And you know, it is not your crafty Valentine, it is your kid's.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

10oT: Knitting Spot

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is 10 Things You Can See From Your Favorite Knitting Spot.  Years ago (back in 2006 ... woah!), I posted about my favorite knitting spots. At that time I was fancy free and had no kids. I could knit anywhere I wanted, when I wanted, however I wanted. I also had a fetish for the bathroom it seems? My apologies. Nowadays I can't even sit on the toilet without someone wanting to sit on my lap. I. KNOW. And also, more bathrooms? Really?!? Anyway, no one tells you this when you say you want to have kids. But be not as foolish as me, enjoy your lone bathroom time while you can! Anyway, I digress.

When I knit now, it is either at Starbucks on Wednesday night with my lady friends or it is on the couch after I've put the kids to bed. No longer is my venue chosen by style or ambiance, nope it is 100% easy access, drop where you're standing, comfort. Also known as the couch in my family room.  It's not as exciting as it use to be, I mean it is no Stiltsville, but it is functional.  So, 10 things I see when looking straight ahead, to the right, and to the left are ...


1) A current WiP: These are the skew socks. And, like the Turkish Bed Socks, they have an unusual construction. It's taken me several tries to get the sizing right but now that the left foot fits, I can move on to the right and (hopefully) motor down the home stretch.

2) The TV: Awww. Mark Harmon. How I love thee.

3) Kid Toys: They take up a third of the living room. At least that is what I try to limit them too.  I may be deluding myself.

4) Knitting Notions: I've recently separated my stitch holders into two containers, one for the closed kind and one for the removable kind. This pleases my OCD.

5) The TV Remote: You know, so I can pause on Mark Harmon when I'm using my mobile phone to take photos of my tv.

6) The Dog: Once the kids are in bed (the only time I can safely knit at home), I let the dog join me on the couch. We snuggle and reminisce about our day. Or she naps. 

7) My iPad: You can't see it in the photos but I have the pattern I'm working on in there.  Also, I  can check my email, facebook and pinterest. You know, the important things.

8) The Baby Monitor: Because even when I'm off the clock, I'm not.  Also, I get a kick out of eavesdropping on my kids.  J1 knows I do it but forgets and J2 is clueless.  They like to hatch up crazy plans and I like to thwart them.  I'm supportive that way.

9) Hand Sanitizer & Lotion: We've all been sick up in these parts (hence the nebulizer too) and so I've been sanitizing the heck out of everyone. And then lotioning them too. All that sanitizing is kind of drying.

10) The Phone: Yes, we do indeed have a landline.  And I use it. Call me old fashion, but I prefer it to my mobile phone.

Monday, February 06, 2012


Yes.  I did it.  I couldn't help myself.  I cut my sock in half.  I knit a new top and then cut the old top off in the hopes of making my socks a nice uniform pair.  Having invested the time to knit these babies, I decided that anything worth doing, was worth doing well.  Sadly, there are several levels of "well" but that is for my finished these friggen objects post.  For now, I shall show you my fearlessness of the scissor.

Step one, knit a second heel and then make sure the second heel a) matches the heel you are trying to duplicate (a/k/a you read the instructions and follow them), and b) lines up with the half of the dud sock you are keeping.

Step two, cut into that baby.  These are small socks so there was no need for a fortifying shot of rum (also, that is frowned on in the third trimester and I don't want to have Schickabibbles sprout a third ear at this late date).  I did cut all of my old rows on not-per-instruction-cuff which made for several random strings of yarn in the pulling out process.  Mistake on my part.  Perhaps I should have fortified with something.

Step three, spend an eternity pulling out the yarn you cut so that you have two separate pieces. 

Step four, put the keeper piece of sock (in my case this was the foot) onto a set of needles and get the direction of everything all squared up properly.  Count to make sure your number of stitches on your new keeper part is the same as on your old keeper part.  An equal number of stitches on the old sock foot and new heel is needed for proper grafting (she says to herself in a stern DUH voice).  I also likes looking at my old top and knowing it contained my extra yarn cushion.  Should I need such a cushion.  Which since I never make mistakes, hahahaha, I wouldn't.

Step five, line up the old bit on its needles with the new bit on its needles and start to graft.  On the first stitch I (inserted the darning needle like I had) knitted the bottom off and then (inserted the darning needle like I had) purled the top off, which is actually the first, but not final, step for each needle when grafting because I figured at the end when I was back over here I would be doing the other step. 

Step six, graft, graft, kitchner, kitchner.  Over and over again.  Seriously.  There are like sixty or so stitches you are meshing together.  This ain't no eight stitches toe.  Actually, it is not that hard when you chant in your head "KNIT OFF, PURL ON, PURL OFF, KNIT ON." When you have a two year old, sick, snot laden, toddler using you for a jungle gym it does amp up the difficulty level.  And perhaps, with absolutely no knowledge of how, you may end up kitchnering a pearl stitch two or three random times.  Mind you, I could not kitchner a pearl stitch if you paid me, so I am not sure exactly how that happened.  In any event, it is good enough for me and not (I hope) that noticeable when all is said and done.  I'll let you judge for yourself when I do a finished object post. 

Thursday, February 02, 2012


It turns out that if I was half as smart as I thought I was, I'd be twice as smart as I actually am.  Huh?  Yah, I know. 

I have knit a gazillion pairs of socks in the last five or so years. Okay, maybe not a gazillion pairs, but easily two dozen pairs. When it gets cold, I can go two weeks in hand knit sock and not have to wash any. I've done toe up, I've done cuff down, I've done funky Cat Bordhi style, I've done heel flaps and short row heels. Hell, I have cut socks in half and ripped out the middle when they were too big. Which I suppose is why after a quick skimming of the Turkish Bed Sock patter, I dove in and didn't look back. When I couldn't make the pattern work, I search high and low for errata. It wasn't out there. Only when I tried to solve the problem on my own did I think that perhaps I was intuiting a wee smidge too much. And it was on this, my third attempt, that I realized that one of my many issues was that I was knitting in the round and NO WHERE in the directions was I told to do so. Whoops.

In a normal person this type of fatal error would act as a reminder to READ THE PATTERN, not even closely, just you know READ IT.  But, well, I have never claimed normalcy. And I didn't read the pattern, closely, or otherwise.  Which is why when I got to the foot part of the first sock (which had a few "tweeks" to make it work), I realized that my knitting was aligned backwards.  I decided to ignore it, assumed my second sock would have the same directional issues, finished the sock, tried it on with mediocre results, assumed mediocre results were due to my lack of clogs, and started the second sock.
And well then ... hello there instructions!  For some reason when I skimmed the instructions for the second sock some light bulb went off in the deep recesses of my brain and I realized a few things.  Like that one of my MANY problems was due to my inability to follow instructions for the FIRST THREE ROWS.  Was that a communal groan?  It should be.  So, I (mostly) followed the directions for the second sock and now have two socks that are more like kissing cousins that twins (of the fraternal or identical variety). The big differences are in how the top part of the sock fits which means that the first one, it doesn't fit so well and shloops down into a funky heel thing.  What you ask, well this:

The sock on the right is the dud.  So now I have a conundrum.  What to do? If there was no seaming in the sock (let alone two seams and a kitchner), this wouldn't be a post as I would have ripped out that first sock and been on my way ... again.  But there is seaming and I hate ripping our seaming, sooooo, I am not sure what my next step will be.  I think I have enough yarn left over that I am toying with the idea of knitting a third top part and then cutting the top (and seamed bits off) and somehow sticking them all back together.  This may be too grandiose of a plan.

Perhaps I should just buy the stupid clogs.  I'd like to think that if the socks were in the clogs then their reality would miraculously converge with their intent and BAM, I'd be in business with my new socks.  But then again, if I was half as smart as I think I am ...