Cookie Mix In A Jar, Disaster In My Kitchen

In the last year since I’ve updated this blog (whoops), I got a new amazing job for an amazing company in an amazing department with amazing people. (Did I mention my work life is great?) I only started in January 2014, so this is my first Christmas season with everyone, and I didn’t even think about gifts for everyone in my department…of 9 other people. That’s a lot of thinking, and I can barely buy gifts for my husband who I’ve known for 10 years. So, I started looking for ideas online, and realized I could finally try something I’ve been wanting to try for a while but never had the occassion – the (in)famous cookie mix in a jar.

Image from The Creative Junkie

I’m sure you’ve seen these all over the internet, especially if you’re on Pinterest (I’m a recovering Pinterest addict myself). They look super cute and are great and inexpensive gift ideas, perfect if you work in a department with 9 other people. Plus, it’s literally dumping ingredients in a jar. How hard could it possibly be? (hahahahahahaha.)

I looked around and decided on following these instructions from AllRecipes. I got 9 1-qt mason jars from Michael’s for $2.49 each, and decided I would use a few sheets of Christmas craft paper I already had to cut into tags, and print out the instructions on pieces of paper and just glue them to the festive paper. (On an unrelated note, I also decided I would crochet small ornaments to go with these, which I will discuss further in another post.)

Since I purchased the jars on a Friday night, and wanted these prepared to bring to work the following Tuesday, Saturday morning seemed like a good time to have a test run, since I had absolutely no plans on Sunday. I knew we didn’t have enough of everything for 9 batches, so I went to the supermarket before 9am to grab extra of everything. (Did I mention this was all happening the weekend before Christmas? I have been a master procrastinator since I was 7 years old.) I got home and reviewed the instructions; in hindsight, I should have seen a red flag at “1 1/2 c of flour,” but whatever it’d be fine.

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Not so much.

This would be perfect if I didn’t still have to add a cup of chocolate chips! Guess who started baking cookies at 9:30 in the morning, with the organic butter I’d just paid a ridiculous amount for, since we had no regular sticks of butter.

I read through some of the comments on AllRecipes and was stunned that there was only one negative comment about actually fitting the ingredients. Everyone else claimed they packed and packed and packed with an ice cream scoop until it all fit nicely, but I didn’t have the time or patience for that. (Well, I had the time, but didn’t want to have an issue AGAIN, because now I definitely didn’t have enough butter for another batch.) So I figured I could just halve the recipe, and add 2 each of the cookies I’d just surprise-baked, since now I’d have room at the top of each jar. Except…

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Nice try.

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These things spread to be HUGE. I will take some of the blame for this, because the recipe called for softened butter, and I stopped paying attention and half of my butter was melted. But really? There is no way I’m fitting these things in the mason jars.

Now, it’s not even 11am and I’m drinking white wine because this whole experience has me strung out. Plus now I have to wash all the dishes from my surprise baking session. At this point, I’ve already rinsed out the Fail Jar, so I refilled it but with half of all the ingredients.

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A definite improvement, since now everything actually fits, but there is so much OBVIOUS empty space at the top, now I have to think of something else to fill it with. (Oh, and of course, this new job is for one of the biggest candy companies in the world, so putting some candy in a plastic bag and placing it on top would be pointless.) I toyed with the idea of literally dumping packets of hot chocolate into plastic bags, but then decided I would just cut the cookies up until they fit. (Cookie bites are a thing, right?)

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The cookies were a huge hit, and everyone was appreciative. And maybe if I hadn’t done this less than a week before Christmas, it wouldn’t have seemed quite as tragic. But I’ve learned my lesson – if I ever want to attempt the cookie mix in a jar gift again, I’ll just make the cookies.

Resurrection! And Goings-On

Ugh, where do I even begin?! After seven months, I am finally beginning to feel the crushing guilt of neglecting this blog. A big part of that was I mostly update about crochet, and I did a series of big project, followed by a bit of a lull, so there wasn’t a whole lot to update about over the summer concerning that. (You can see what I DID wind up up crocheting on Ravelry, however!)

Now, with the weather getting cooler (theoretically at least – the high is supposed to be 73 today), and Christmas approaching, I’ve been crocheting like a mad person. Also, by not going outside, I finally have to stop making excuses about the work I have to do on the INSIDE of the house. (Well, once autumn is over and we pick up the leaves in the yard. A bit of advice to homeowners, PICK UP THE LEAVES IN THE AUTUMN! We didn’t last year and have huge dead patches of grass now.) So, there should be plenty to talk about in the next few months, hopefully!

In the meantime, I’m actually starting to be active on Twitter, so you can follow me there. It’s a lot of retweets from parody accounts and pictures of my cat, but isn’t that all Twitter REALLY is?

In the meantime, here is a really attractive photo of me at Coldstone Creamery two nights ago. It was delicious and almost guilt-free.

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Games & Crafts: In Which I Realize The Two Main Parts Of My Life That I Have Been Keeping Separate Are In Fact The Same Thing

Sometimes I feel like I have two personalities. There Crafty Me, who…likes to do crafty things. (DURR) Then there’s kind-of-nerdy-slightly-pathetic me, who has played Mass Effect more than anyone I know combined, and almost cried the last time I went to the Magic Kingdom and they played the Mickey Mouse theme over the bus speakers. I really did view them as two personalities, that would rarely cross paths.

Additionally, as I mentioned a few posts ago, I’ve been making an effort to be more active in social media, and basically figure out how to make it work to my advantage. When I first got a Twitter account, I ignored it for years because I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to do with it. I figured it was because I wasn’t in high school and don’t have 30 close friends. NOPE, you can totally still use it if that isn’t you! I follow so many blogs, websites, and talented people on Twitter, and I know I wouldn’t see half of the awesome things I see online if I didn’t look at Twitter regularly.

This all came together earlier this week, when I saw a tweet from Holly Conrad (or possibly Jessica Merizan, everything starts to blend together on Twitter) mentioning that Crabcat Industries had a new show on the Nerdist YouTube channel about how they go about making their awesome creations.

WAIT WAIT, WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH VIDEO GAMES OR WHATEVER YOU SAID WHEN YOU CALLED YOURSELF PATHETIC?

I’m glad you asking, imaginary reader! Holly and Jessica were featured in Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope when they created some INSANELY AWESOME Mass Effect 2 costumes for the SDCC costume competition. The first time I saw the audition reel, I actually got chills, and cheered with everyone when Al-Jilani got decked on stage. I have put more hours into playing Mass Effect than probably any other game ever. I actually get yelled at for playing it so awesome because I’m apparently missing out on so much awesome stuff…whatever, I still have fun. So watching it all come to life was just…FUN. And now because of their “Try This At Home” series on Nerdist I get to see HOW THINGS HAPPEN? I’d say I’m tickled pink if it was such a pervy-sounding phrase.

A day later, I was browsing my Google Reader account, which I do about 50 times a day, and came across this post on Craftzine/Makezine. For some reason, it was an exciting and kind of bizarre moment – and that’s when I realized that these two iterations of myself I was trying to keep completely separate was, basically, all for naught. I couldn’t even think of a reason why I was trying to be two mes, instead of one crafty-nerdy-slightly-pathetic me. The combined version, which I suppose is “real me,” probably makes much better jokes anyway.

So, that was my strange revelation of the day/week/month/etc. On that note, I’ll be posting about the crocheted Liara I finished last week whenever I get around to taking decent photos of it. Then I’m sure I’ll be posting about my Halloween costume, which I’m super excited about, as well as the other 3 posts I have queued and half-finished.

Rocket flop corgi, AWAYYYYY

Social Yarning, Or How I Came To Realize I Have Awesome Coworkers

One of things I loved about crocheting (and crafting in general) is that I didn’t have to associate with ridiculous people. I mean, I’m pretty judge-y about people, and maybe it’s just the area I live & work in, but I don’t find a whole lot of people that share all the same interests I have, which is basically crafting and video games. Well, that’s kind of a lie, I know loads of people that are into video games, and I married one, but very few people are as into crafting as I am. So when I met a few people at my place of employment who were also yarn crafters, I was a little wary because they weren’t cats.

That was last autumn, or maybe early winter. Obviously, I got over that in a few yarn lunch sessions (if I hadn’t I wouldn’t be writing this) and we all became such good friends that we’ve even done two NYC yarn crawls and dinners outside of work! This is something I hadn’t experienced since I hung out at bars when I worked retail years ago.

As I’ve stated probably way-too-many times, I got married in May and found out after I got back from my honeymoon, that they had been having secret meetings to crochet me (and my husband too, I guess) wedding/housewarming gifts!!

I thought I’d be afraid to use them and potentially ruin them, but I use them almost daily. (I used to leave the table set with the placemats AND coasters, until I found the cat using a placemat as a bed one morning.)

And here it is, the end of summer 2012 and we still have yarn lunches and don’t hate each other. TRUE FRIENDSHIP.

My Yarn Thing Is Getting Ridiculous

How well do you know the yarns you work with? Do you only buy yarn from your LYS, or do you go for whatever’s cheapest at Michael’s or AC Moore? Personally, I tend to do the latter unless I’m looking for something specific. When I do things like amigurumi, no one would notice if I used a cheaper yarn or not…besides, Michael’s is so much closer to me than my LYS. (When I was looking to make a silvery shawl for all the weddings I have coming up, I hit up my LYS and found the perfect yarn…for $50. Hence why I am usually found frequenting Michaels.)

ANYWAY, the occasions on which I do buy yarn are few and far between now, given the massive stash I already have. Unless I’m doing a particularly large project, the color I’m looking for is ALWAYS found in my stash, or something close enough. So when I decided to crochet my parents a small Christmas tree, I found a fairly hefty skein of green yarn from the nether-stash, assuming it would let me finish the project. The tree is worked as a really long strip and then wrapped around a floral cone; when I was about halfway through the last row I realized there was not going to be quite enough yarn to finish the project (I didn’t take into account that the last row was about 200 treble crochets…the yardage adds up quickly). I considered taking the last row out and finding another green in the nether-stash, but I looked at the yarn (part of the nether-stash that came from someone else’s stash, and was unlabeled, of course) and thought, you know, this looks like it could be a Caron yarn…let me just check at Michael’s before I rip this out. So I headed over there yesterday and, sure enough, there was my yarn…Caron One Pound in kelly green. I’ll take solace in the fact that I couldn’t pinpoint the line of yarn, just the brand. It makes me feel a little more normal.

I finished the crochet part of the tree last night, now I just have to attach it to the cone and decorate it accordingly. I’m also behind on the block-a-month afghan, AND I have a friend’s birthday gift to make…which will probably wind up becoming part of their Christmas gift at this rate. Ah well, at least I won’t be bored! (Theoretically.)

Adventures with Crocheting with Thread

I always thought crochet projects that used thread looking dainty; it was always something I had planned to try, but never got around to doing. Enter my aunt, one of the people who gives me yarn on a quasi-regular basis. This time, she gave me some spools of thread…but let me show you what I mean by spools of thread.

Initially, I was given four (FOUR!!) of these, but I quickly decided to give three to my mother to use at the school where she teaches, and kept one for myself. I figured, surely there is so much thread here I can use it FOREVER. (Which really is still true, but my patience level will not let me keep this for much longer.)

This stuff was really like regular sewing thread, as opposed to the usually-thicker-than-that embroidery & cross-stitching thread. I’ve crocheted a few snowflakes with embroidery thread without great difficulty, so I couldn’t imagine this being all that different. I used the smallest hook I had without even thinking about it; my 1.25mm. Not long after beginning the first fan, I realized not only was this thinner than what I’ve worked with in the past, but the gold bits are actually a second strand twisted with the main thread – one more thing to worry about with these stitches. ARGH.

Oh, also those colorful bits were basically blobs of regular yarn. Not sure whose bright idea it was to include that in this product, because it became annoying rather quickly. I actually pulled a lot of them out as I went along; they just kept getting in my way.

After two days of handcramps and tearing my hair out, I finally finished crocheting the bookmark. I still need to get fabric stiffener so it will actually work, but the hard part is done now so I am breathing a sigh of relief. I’ve decided that I’m going to give the remainder of this to my mother for her to take to school, and I’m going to get a multipack of embroidery thread when I go to the craft store to pick up the fabric stiffener. Goodbye giant spool of thread type stuff, I hardly knew ye (and plan on keeping it that way).

This project on Ravelry

Project ADD – I’d Rather Be Crocheting Hats

As someone who is always cold (apparently I throw off a lot of heat), sweaters at work are necessary. Currently, I have a dirty, smelly old hoodie in my cubicle from my boyfriends fat days, so it’s also super huge. Suffice it to say, this is clearly not work appropriate, but since I work in a building where I could probably get away with hiding dead bodies in the copy room or walk out with the department’s microwave, nothing is said about my hoodie. Granted, in the grand scheme it’s a minor detail, but I’m about to embark on a career as opposed to a job, so something has to change.

I decided this would be the perfect chance to use my P hook – I bought it with no projects in mind, I was just so fascinated in thinking how quickly a larger project could get done with said P hook. I began working on Lion Brand’s “Simple Crochet Shrug” on August 12 (thank you Ravelry for reminding me). I like Lion Brand patterns in general, because they’re ridiculously simple. This one looked super comfortable, and I thought it would be a nice time to reignite my love-hate relationship with Homespun. So I began – the shrug is, in actuality, a glorified rectangle; it’s just attached to itself in the right spots.

But now, my love-hate for Homespun (which has diminished to mere indifference) is being pushed aside for the painfully boring process of giant projects. I’ve made three afghans since I began crocheting…one was for a baby shower so I actually completed it rather quickly, one took about a month (and not longer only because I was getting asked what became of it), and the other almost three years. Big projects bore me after the first few rows, because there’s always so long to go. Especially my giant rectangle shrug, which is repetitive and coma-inducing. This definitely explains why I have so many hats.

In an effort to begin a discussion and see if anyone is actually reading, what do you think of big projects? Do they bore you, or do you welcome the repetitive stitches as a way to relax? (Because I can totally understand that point of view.)

New Use For My US6 Needles – Boring Out My Eyes

As mentioned previously, my forays into knitting have been futile at best. (That statement can also be seen as one way of saying “why the hell would I use two needles when I can use just one?”.) But since I like to change things up from time to time, and also because I am a masochist, I set out to knit a dishcloth.

I was using knit/purl to make a martini glass design. Mine looks something like this.

On the day I started this, at one point in the stem I looked back a few stitches and realized I had already managed to drop a stitch. It wasn’t too far back, and I was feeling ambitious, so I decided to try to rectify it. This was the result:

Because, as it turns out, I never dropped a stitch, but I did manage to add one where it never existed.

I almost gave up after this setback, but I reassured myself that, as the gift was for my mother, I could probably tie a ball of yarn up and present it and she’d still use it as a dishcloth. So, I kept on going. I finally made it through the stem of the glass and to the actually drinky part of the glass. (Official term is official!) I was excited that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, vowing I would never pick up knitting needles again after completing this project (just like I did three years ago, but whatever). Then, more tragedy strikes:

(It’s supposed to look like this:)

I missed two stitches and didn’t realize until I was doing the following purl row. So, there was no hope in saving that one. So now, it looks like this:

Knitting, My Bain

I am primarily a crocheter. I always assumed this was because I learned to crochet first, so it’s just what I always did. Then, in 2008, I decided to try my hand at knitting. My first mistake was not doing something like a scarf, and doing a custom made Transformer’s themed pillow for my boyfriend. (I used knitPro to create the chart.) This was when I learned I CLEARLY lack whatever skill and/or patience is necessary to be a talented knitter. After about two months, I finally presented him with the pillow and swore I’d never do it again.

But apparently, I am a masochist.

A few weeks ago, my mother left for a two week shore trip with a friend of hers. I decided this would be a good time to make her a cotton dishcloth for the stove in the kitchen – it has a black top and everything shows up on it, including paper towel lint. She is nearly obsessed with the stupid stove. So, a dishcloth is square, and knitting and purling is a great way to form a design. Hoorah! I’ll make this neat martini glass dishcloth from Bavgirl, because it’s a square and there’s no color changes!

The first thing to go was the border. For some reason, once I begin the alternating knit-purl it just looked like a hot mess on my needles. No matter, it’s for my mother, who will probably think it’s amazing even if I drop stitches. Which brings us to the next issue. When I looked back and realized I dropped a stitch, it became a entire puzzle going back to pick it up. So, after I’ve figured it out and picked up said dropped stitch…I come to realize I apparently have some sort of ocular issue, because there was never a dropped stitch, and I have now added one unnecessarily.

Why I Like Crocheting Better:

  1. One hook. Less to keep track of.
  2. When I notice and error, I can just pull out stitches, without making it a full mind-and-body exercise.
  3. Even when I’m not pulling out stitches, I manage to make knitting a full body workout. At least, I’m willing to bet it’s not an activity that involves hip and shoulder thrusts.

Crocheters, what do you think of knitting?