How sticky are your balls?

I’ve been practicing productive procrastination this week. I’m not sure why I need to practice, I’m already a master at all forms of procrastination but whatever. I’ve been sharpening my skillz anyhow. As usual this involves laundry, a little cleaning, running, and baking. 

Monday was basically a waste (aka spent sleeping) after working until 6am on next to no sleep. It was a struggle just to get myself home after taking the kids to school. Yesterday, Tuesday, I was feeling blergy and down; night shift jet lag was hitting me hard. There were things I really needed to do but they were not happening. I thought chocolate chip cookies might help.

And they did!  Sort of.

I love chocolate chip cookies. I mean, who doesn’t? (My seven year old just informed me  he doesn’t, doesn’t even like them. I think he’s an alien.) Classic chocolate chip cookies are my first love baking-wise too. Starting around age ten I’d make them whenever I was bored which was often. Yesterday it was dreary, cold, and rainy; my head hurt and I was tired. Making cookies was soothing. It was comfort….

But then I ate said cookies and, let’s not lie, excessive amounts of cookie dough. Physically I felt slightly gross. So this morning, after waking up late and getting kids to school almost on time, I had the urge to be super productive and healthy. I made a list of things to accomplish and decided today would be the day I’d start that low carb/high fat diet I’ve been eye balling. This required some Google searching which lead me to recipes for peanut butter chocolate chip protein balls.

Protein balls, or as they should be called power balls, seemed like an adequate replacement for the remaining chocolate chip cookies that were still tempting me. So I found a couple recipes including this one that I intended to follow and began throwing ingredients in a bowl.

I love peanut butter.  Love it! But I hate measuring it out; it’s such a sticky mess. So usually I just eye ball the amount. Really, there’s no way to have too much peanut butter.

The recipe called for 1/2 cup peanut butter but that didn’t sound like nearly enough. I probably used closer to a cup. AND then I added some ambiguous amount of coconut oil  (going for high fat here) and more flax than the recipe demanded because I didn’t feel like putting protein powder in. Oh, and instead of chocolate chips I poured in some cocoa powder. After mixing it all together and tasting the resulting concoction I added a bit more honey and called it good.

It was time to roll these balls!

I’ve never made balls like this before so I have no idea how they’re supposed to feel (insert immature snicker here), but damn! These balls were sticky!!!!

They made a goopy mess. Albeit a tasty goopy mess. 😉

The added cocoa powder gives these guys a…questionable appearance.

All joking aside, are these types of balls usually so sticky? Hopefully the refrigerator will solidify them some. Maybe next time I make them I’ll measure stuff and follow a recipe. Maybe not though. Probably not.

Hey who knows, these might end up being fantastic and delicious magic sticky balls. If they do I’m going to have to write my own protein balls recipe. I think I’ll call it Hippie Poop…for obvious reasons.

(P.S.-The amount the word balls was used in this post is directly proportional to the amount of immature giggles writing the post produced. Maturity is a little overrated anyhow.)

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Annual Christmas Craziness

Like every year (especially since going back to school), the few weeks before Christmas in mid December were Kuh-razy with a capital K. Finals/end of term projects for me and pre-holiday demands and events for the kids have me running around nonstop like the proverbial headless chicken. Because this is an annual thing I’m mostly prepared for it, as much as one can prepare for an already intense life to kick into hyper-speed.

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At one point (Tuesday), less than half an hour before the class period it was due, I was finishing a hefty presentation …from home…forty minutes from campus. All I could think was “How the Eff did this happen?”

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At another point, a day or so after the presentation procrastination, I was hustling my cranky kids out of the car to (quickly!) pick out a Christmas tree so we could get to the sledding hill across town where their aunt who was visiting from out of town was waiting for us with some cousins. It was cold, windy and already dark but gosh darn it we were going to get some sledding in. And we did. Just a bit before it was time for me to make dinner for 11 people. Directly following that I squeezed in an hour and half nap and headed to work for the night. Over the next couple of days I got six hours sleep. Total. In a span of 48 hours. I made it to my last test (it could hardly be called a final), attended my little guy’s school holiday concert, got the tree up and decorated before the kids left for the week, finished a paper, and worked another shift before finally crashing for 11 hours straight (and subsequently being an hour late for work Friday night).

But then my semester was officially over and a very strange thing happened…  end-of-finals-week-meme

I had free time. Well, relatively free time.

So I did what any sane person would do and began making some Christmas presents. There was just under a full week and making a list of things I wanted to make was as far as I had gotten.

First there was the Slytherin robe one of my sisters asked if I could make…

I used soap and drew the “pattern” out on the fabric. Other than the sleeves being a bit long (for growing room of course), it turned out perfectly and I expect I’ll see my nephew wearing this for a few years.

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And then there was a random hat made with chunky yarn for my mom, a scarf/cowl thing for my brother’s girlfriend, a “fallen leaves” baggy hat (for the same brother’s girlfriend), and a “Little Sister” hat for my God-daughter. (The other God-daughter got some My Little Ponies but she’s getting an Anna cape for her birthday in January.)

Sadly, I only got pictures of the Little Sister hat. It’s a bit big but should be perfect this spring or fall.

After that it was the holiday.

(Okay, that’s actually the before-Christmas craziness there.)

And that, dear readers, sums up this year’s round of pre-Christmas/finals week craziness.

Baby Viking Hat

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The finished hat

My family grows in leaps and bounds. My youngest was one of six babies born in a ten month time period. This past year I got a total of four new nephews, all between March and the end of June. Somewhere around early June my sister, the mom of one of those babies, asked me if I’d be willing and able to crochet said baby a hat for Halloween, a viking hat. It seems my sister is much better at planning ahead than I am. She knows how busy I am and had a specific goal in mind for her child. Maybe I was the person to help her accomplish that goal, maybe not. Considering she asked me half a year in advance I figured I’d be able to find the time. Besides, crocheting a viking hat sounded fun. It couldn’t be as hard as that shark hat was.

I found a pattern online but it was not free. (wah-wah) I totally get why people charge for patterns and it was only five bucks, but I was still resistant to pay for it. It’s my contrary nature in action. “What?”, it says, “You want me to pay?!? Psh, I don’t need your silly pattern, I can figure this out on my own.” And usually I can.

For this one I made a basic beanie (there are five million free patterns out there) with a four evenly spaced front post hdc around the hat. And then I realized that the example viking hat I was following had two front post stitches in the front and back and one on each side. Luckily my firs start of the hat was waaaay too small. It’s been a while since I’ve had regular contact with baby heads, my guestimating skills are rusty. So now my little guy’s stuffed hedgehog has a grey hat.

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The second attempt, first one completed

On the second attempt I made the hat bigger and had two front post stitches together in both the front and the back. (Front posts are the raised lines that run vertically, helping to give the hat the appearance of being a metal helmet.)

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While making the hat without a pattern was no big deal the horns were a bit puzzling. I’ve never done amugarami crochet or even tried a more three dimensional item. It went a lot smother than I thought it would; I figured it out on the first attempt and was able to replicate it pretty closely on the second.

I used a super tiny hook with regular sized acrylic yarn. The stitches are tight and it was a bit challenging to maneuver the yarn with that little thing but the effect is worth it. The little horns are stiff enough to stand up on their own and hold their shape perfectly. And look how cute they are!!! They’re like tiny wizard hats. My water bottle got to cosplay as Gandalf and then Dumbledore that day. Fun times all around!

The bottom edge was a little tricky and, honestly, I would not have mined having the pattern for this part. The ridge is again created by either front or back post stitches, this time single because I didn’t want height. One round of single front/back (whichever gave the bump on the right side) post, there’s a round of double crochet with interspersed bobble stitches. There’s no regularity to those, I just eye balled the spacing. And then the last row was another round of front or back post single crochet.

I finished the beard using this pattern (I’ve made beards before and knew they’re pretty quick and easy) the morning of the 28th when a couple of my sisters and I made plans to go to a local Trunk-or-Treat later that evening. It was as good an excuse as any to get the finished Viking hat to my sister and nephew. My sister brought the baby over to my house a little early as we planned to ride together…good thing too because the hat was still too small. I tried to stretch it but there was no making it fit that kid’s giant head. Aggghhh!!!

I undid the hat up to where the horns were attached and started rapidly crocheting it again. For a third time. This time I used double instead of half double crochet stitches for the body of the hat. It was quick and dirty crochet time here. I got the body of the hat finished moments after we arrived at Trunk-or-treat and he wore it as is for the evening.

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As we were driving home I added the bottom edge but even without it my nephew was a pretty adorable little viking.

A couple of my previous projects made appearances this Halloween too!

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Sherlock scarf…I thought I had blogged about this somewhere in there but couldn’t seem to find it.

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Originally a Cabbage Patch style hat, this one got a new life as Dorothy’s braids.

 

Some Not-So-Recent Makes

While crocheting has almost been at a stand still for me lately (except for one tiny little baby hat I started and almost finished over the weekend that I’m hoping to write down a pattern for…and then, of course (eventually) blog about.) I realized I’ve made some things over the past few months  year or so that have not found their way to the blog.

Also, my co-blogger has posted twice this week…WTF? Twice! And it has awoken my mildly competitive side. No way she’s showing me up! (Yes, yes, I know, this is not a contest and we’re all winners here (Pffft!))

So even though it’s 5:30 and I ran but haven’t showered yet and really should be making dinner so we eat sometime before 8pm tonight, I thought I’d write a real quick picture heavy crochet based post. I think it’s been a while since we’ve had one of those around here.

First here’s a pair of fingerless gloves I made as a birthday gift for one of my daughter’s friend’s birthday back in October. Well, her birthday was in October, I’m pretty sure I made these sometime in November.

granny square fingerless mits panda hat mid make panda hatThe hat was made as a later part of the gift as it was finished just before New Year’s Eve, Hey, I got it done within the year of the kid’s birthday. That counts for something right? I didn’t use a pattern for either of these though I keep thinking I’m going to write one down for the gloves (in all my spare time). I’ve made a few pairs of these and they always turn out nice.

Sometime this past fall (or early winter) whenever it started getting chilly and I pulled out my collection of scarves and hats and such, I made myself a hat. I had one baggy hat that I was wearing all the time; I was getting a little tired of it. SO I made the “Falling Leaves” hat pattern from Ravelry that I’ve made a couple times before (for other people). It’s been one of my favorites since I finished it.

Kind of an odd picture but it gives you an idea of the texture and a view of the back.

Kind of an odd picture but it gives you an idea of the texture and a view of the back.

Lastly and ,frankly, most embarrassingly, is a blanket I made last spring and summer as a baby gift for a high school friend of mine. I say embarrassing because I finished it last June and took these pictures but somehow failed to get it to her. Yup, this adorable little blanket is still sitting in my Finished Projects draw. Her baby just turned one last week…hmm. The fact that I have a Finished Projects drawer says something too.

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Aaaandflower square 1 flower square 2 flower square 3 flower square 4 some close ups of some of the squares.

Note to self: Must mail baby blanket soon  ASAP!

Sitting and Knitting

Well, shit! Now I’ve gone and done it. I opened Pandora’s box and let all those impish wicked impulses out and of course I can’t get them contained again.
I went and started a new knitting project right in the midst of the last crazy month of the semester. If you’ve been a college student or professor any time recently (or have a good memory of the time you were) you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Just this week I have tests in three of my five classes.Last week I had extra work in pretty much every class. It’s that point in the semester when everything has been whipped up to a feverish pace of papers, homework, and weekly tests. The content is more difficult than it was a few short weeks ago but the commitment and fervor is waning.
I’ve been good, no excellent, at managing my time and juggling everything for the past two months but it has come at a cost. Specifically, free time and recreation…especially making stuff. Yarn stuff to be exact.
I did manage to squeeze in a pair of fingerless gloves for a birthday gift and an awesome Cabbage Patch/Princess Leia wig hat for my niece for Halloween (maybe I’ll get around to blogging about those eventually) but for the most part I’ve suppressed my yarn urges quite efficiently.
As the weather has been getting colder and the holidays are creeping up it has been harder and harder to resist picking up some yarn and a crochet hook or knitting needles and just make something. Avoiding contact with yarn has helped. You know, staying far away from yarn and craft stores, keeping the stash contained and out of sight, backing away slowly when a chance yarn encounter threatens my resolve, things like that.
But this weekend, I cracked.
It was a moment of weakness; I just could not hold out any longer.
I had seven ten-year-olds immersed in Minecraft in my living room, it was late, I was tired and had an hour or so before I could even attempt to get these kids wound down without being the strict mean mom.
Pandora’s box was beckoning in the form of soft grayish-purple alpaca blend yarn and a knitted cowl pattern.
I answered.

Honestly, it took me some time and a few video tutorials to even remember how to cast on. After a bit I realized that the pattern I originally wanted to make with this yarn, the one that’s been printed out and floating between my desk and sewing table taunting me, was a little bit outside the scope of my abilities. Luckily we have the internet and it was easy enough to find something similar that I actually can do. I managed a simple cast on and began:

And so it begins.

And so it begins.


And now I can’t seem to stop myself.Yes, I know, I have homework and housework to get done. It’s all urgent and time sensitive…but I just want to knit.
I find myself sitting in the car for a few minutes after taking the kids to school knitting. I know if I go in I’ll have to get other, more important things done.
So I sit and I knit.
My car has been needing an oil change for about a month now. I finally took it in yesterday. It was a good excuse to be able to sit in my car and knit for an extra twenty minutes or so. It was pure bliss.
And, yes, I knew I should’ve been studying for my upcoming chemistry test but I just couldn’t help myself. After that I stopped at the store to grab a few sort of needed items. Before I knew what was happening I was that weird lady sitting in her car in the Walmart parking lot knitting. It’s a bad sign when your car radio turned off and your fingers are starting to get cold but you just keep knitting just a little longer.
My resolve has officially cracked and I’m not sure I can get it back. The cat is out of the bag and there’s no getting it back in.
In fact, at this moment I’m sitting in the science complex at my school with my knitting beside me. I should be studying or crossing some e-mails off my list or balancing my checkbook and paying bills. This is “extra” time for me as I’d normally be in lab class right now. I missed it because I got out the door late, missed the kids’ school bus, AND got caught in traffic. Normally this would cause me some level of frustration but, right now, I don’t even care.
I just want to knit.

Must. keep .knitting!

Must. keep .knitting!

Knitting Progression & Summer Hats

I finally got around to trying my hand at knitting a real thing, ya know, like with an actual pattern and everything. I choose this bucket hat pattern because I’ve been on a summer hat kick this summer and this looked basic enough for a starter pattern.
It took me a few minutes of Googling to figure out what some of the abbreviations on the pattern meant. K3,K2Tog for example was a bit confusing and then I had to remember how to cast on and learn how to do a provisional cast on. But with some online help I was off and knitting. I did get a little confused at first and thought I was knitting when I was actually purling and vice versa then, apparently, I switched directions at one point. Things looked a little bumpy for a few rounds. I wasn’t sure if this hat was going to make it past the starting stages. Luckily I had a brief visit with my friend who knits and she got me all straightened out.

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In the end it all came together nicely. There is evidence of my rocky start but going back to the provisional cast on and to add the brim helped blend it and hide the rough rows a bit.

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To compliment the knit hat made of Sugar N’ Cream cotton yarn I crocheted a couple more summer hats. The great thing about these loose, airy crochet patterns is that they are fast, fast, fast. Which can be a beautiful thing. I probably spent half the time on the two crochet hats as I did on the one knit hat.
And look at how cute they are:
One for me

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And one for my daughter…

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*All three hats shown in today’s post are being modelled by the lovely Tina.
I’ve had a mannequin head in my house for months and it just occurred to me that she’s the perfect hat model.

Stars & Sandals

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about crochet projects.
(Random side note: I read somewhere that starting a blog post with “it’s been a while..” is one of the worst blog moves ever.
Duly noted.)
This may make it seem like I haven’t been crocheting but, fear not, that isn’t the case. While I have slowed my crochet roll a bit this summer due to general life busyness, things have still been made.

For example, back in May…or maybe April… I had to attend a baby shower for one of my sisters-in-law so I crocheted a blanket. I wanted something a little quicker than the granny square baby blankets I’ve done before. This little star afghan pattern that I found on Ravelry was just right.
finished star blanket

This pattern was fairly repetitive but it’s a small enough project that it didn’t get too boring. It starts out as such a cute little star too.
star in progress

More recently I whipped up these adorable little sandals for my baby niece.

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There’s also a couple summer hats I’ve made buuuut I haven’t gotten any pictures of them. Usually I’d just grab my phone, snap a sub-par picture, and slap up on the blog here but the phone has been having some issues with taking pictures lately.
Hmm. Maybe I’ve dropped it one (or two) too many times.

One common theme of these summer projects is the yarn. I’ve been using the Sugar & spice cotton yarn for all of them. The pink in the sandals and the blue and orange in the star blanket are all this cotton yarn as are the two unpictured hats. What can I say? It’s cheap and it comes in fun bright colors. What’s not to love?