I have a feeling 2015 is going to involve a lot of knitting. My grandma recently gave me about thirty balls of yarn from her stash, and my friend Bryan's Mom just sent over a knitting pattern book and a bag of yarn to go with it. Fun!

The pattern book Norma sent over is called 'Knitted Toy Tales' by Laura Long. Most of the patterns are for small/medium sized toys that are knitted flat, so I can easily dive into this book and make some cute things. I am pretty excited about it.

She also sent over a bag of yarn that included some pretty pink sparkle baby yarn, and it immediately caught my eye. There were five 50g balls in the bag, and I spent some time searching Ravelry to see how I could use them up.

A baby blanket seemed like the obvious choice, and since many of my friends are having babies, a blanket could become a nice gift for a newborn. I looked through some patterns and found one that used circular knitting needles to complete the blanket. I had the right size and length (32" long!), as the blanket is pretty wide and would not fit on strait needles. This is my first try at knitting with circular needles, and I'm knitting strait on them, so I'm getting used to them pretty easily.

The thing I'm realizing about this pattern is that it will not be a quick knit. I'm still getting used to the way circulars work (and how certain stitches slide from the wire to the needle a little less easily than others). The pattern also has a complicated row that helps to form a Feather and Fan pattern, which involves me doing a lot of counting. Also each row has 154 stitches, so a knit row takes me over ten minutes to complete, a complex row takes over fifteen. The final length of the blanket will be 204 rows, so it is going to take me some time to get there. It's also not the kind of pattern that I can zone out to TV or an audiobook, so it will be a small doses kind of project. Even though it'll be months before this turns into a blanket, I think it will be a very satisfying knit once complete.

The first 12 of 204 rows.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, January 28, 2015 1 comment
William over at Ottawa Daily Photo got me thinking about the big ice storm from 1998 after he posted some photos about it. Even 17 years later I still remember the storm and the impact it had. We lived on a farm north of Barrie, Ontario at the time, and our power/water was out for three days, the school buses were cancelled, and some trees were damaged. The storm caused tremendous damage and massive power outages in eastern Ontario and Quebec.

With school cancelled, I remember walking around outside with Dad taking photos (he was the photographer, I was his little buddy). We got some great photos, and shown below is one of a fence covered in icicles. The trees behind it are also covered in a thick layer of ice. Dad says the ice stayed on the trees like that for nine days. It was one hell of a storm.

Posted by Jen B On Monday, January 26, 2015 4 comments
I usually buy the 4L bag of milk as it is cheaper than buying cartons (the bag makes it $1/L, the carton is about $2/L or more depending on the size of the carton). The only problem with the 4L bag (16 cups of milk) is that we sometimes don't get through it before the expiry date. The main problem over the past month is that I've cut back on cereal (I was eating it multiple times a day) and I haven't been in the mood for smoothies. This past week I had to use up over a liter of milk so it didn't go to waste. I even drank it (on its own) which I never really do (unless it's chocolate), but I kinda liked it (especially when served with pie!).

To use up 3 cups of milk, I made a chocolate pudding pie, with a recipe from Hershey's website. This pie is egg free and uses corn starch as the thickener. The pie was served with individual helpings of whipped cream and was really delicious.

Posted by Jen B On Friday, January 23, 2015 5 comments
I love making fudge with sweetened condensed milk, and have made several varieties over the past few years. One of the first flavours I tried was Reese's Fudge and I wanted to make it again, but I kept forgetting to pick up Reese's peanut butter cups. At some point I got the bright idea that I could make the peanut butter cups instead of buying them and that is exactly what I did. My sister-in-law has an awesome peanut butter cup recipe and I used it to make peanut butter patties for this recipe. I worked out the difference, and I saved over $3 in peanut butter cups by just making the patties at home. Win!

For the Peanut Butter Patties:
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 tbs + 2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbs margarine
1/3 cup icing sugar

Mix all ingredients together and roll into balls (makes approx. 25 balls). Chill them in the fridge for 3 hours. Remove from fridge and slightly flatten to form patties.

For the Fudge:
3 cups milk chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk (300 ml)
1 cup chopped peanuts
1 tsp vanilla
25 homemade peanut butter patties

Add chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk to saucepan over medium heat.

Heat until melted together. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour about a 1/4 of the mixture into a prepared 8x8 baking dish. Ensure the bottom is completely covered.

Place peanut butter patties onto the already poured fudge. Then cover them with the rest of the chocolate mixture.

Top with chopped peanuts, pressing gently to adhere to chocolate. Chill in the refrigerator. I always chill my fudge overnight for best results.

Once chilled, cut fudge into pieces for eating and sharing. This one is pretty great for both!

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, January 21, 2015 5 comments
On a recent visit to my Grandma's she gave me a giant bag of yarn. A life long knitter, she told me she hasn't been knitting much lately, and the one project she has on the needles (a blanket) has been on them for over a year. She says she eventually wants to complete the blanket, but after that, she doesn't think she will start many more projects.

Grandma kept her yarn stash is a storage closet and she let me know that some of it had been there "a long time." Because of this, the yarn smelled like a mixture between Grandma's perfume (a good smell), and storage (a kind of stale smell). Anything I knitted from the yarn could be laundered, but I was sure I would get a headache if I knitted with it.

So I did some research and decided to air the yarn out. It would have been a little easier to air them out in the summer (less cold, anyway!) but the air was super fresh and there was a good breeze blowing all through the yarn. I did fall on my ass at one point while I out there (I'm clumsy), but it was totally worth it, and the snow was pretty soft to land in. The yarn stayed outside for about four hours and they smell way better now.

Posted by Jen B On Monday, January 19, 2015 6 comments
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