I was craving some sort of lemon treat and decided to make another batch of lemon poppy seed cupcakes. The last time I made them, I piped on yellow lemon frosting, which was great, but I wanted something a little more subtle this time around. I made a half batch of icing that I left white, and just spread a thin layer on each cupcake. A lovely treat to go with afternoon tea.

Posted by Jen B On Friday, February 27, 2015 6 comments
I finished my first knit toy from the Knitted Toy Tales pattern book. I knit this adorable little fish and love having him swimming around the house. This pattern allowed me to learn new skills (intarsia and fair isle) and have a cute finished project in a short period of time.

Once the main body knitting was complete, I did duplicate stitch over the colour mistake in the tail fin (which ended up looking pretty great). Next I stuffed and seamed the body, bringing him to life. I knit and sewed on some fins, and embroidered on his little eyes. I love the way he looks.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, February 25, 2015 6 comments
We've been making homemade tortillas for a while now, and we absolutely love them. They are cheaper than store bought (about $0.44 for 12 vs. $3.00+ for 10), and they taste amazing. Every time. Sometimes we've made them and I've rolled them too thin, and then they cooked too long, making them crispy instead of soft...and they were still amazing. Hard to roll stuff up in them, but they were great for dipping and snacking.

The recipe I use for my tortillas comes from this blog, which has a really great tutorial. I only have slight changes in my method, but otherwise pretty much the same. So happy I found it, as we make these all the time.

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup hot tap water

Add flour, salt, and baking powder to large bowl and combine with a whisk. I love using a whisk to combine dry ingredients as it's so efficient. For this recipe, I use a giant silver bowl my Mom gave me and it works great.

Add 1/3 cup canola oil to flour mixture.

Mix with your fingers until it becomes fine crumbs.

Add 1 cup hot tap water.

Mix with your hands and form into a ball. Knead the ball 40 times (I just knead it right in the bowl).

Cover with a tea towel, and let rest for 30 minutes. Divide the ball into 12 discs. I do this by weighing the large ball and then making each disc a 12th of the weight. I like to measure because I'm not always great at eyeballing them to be the same size.

Let the 12 discs rest for 30 minutes.

Roll each disc into a tortilla around 8 inches wide. I don't flour my surface because they don't seem to need it. Sometimes they roll out into not quite circles, but they still work as tortillas.

Cook on a hot, ungreased pan for about one minute on each side. The tortillas will have a lot of bubbles when it is time to flip them. We use an electric griddle I got from Mom that works great for cooking two at a time. We turn it up to high and it is perfect.

Serve with a variety of different meals and enjoy. These are served with spicy chick peas and tomatoes on rice, wrapped up with Sriracha, cucumber dressing, fresh spinach, and diced purple onion. Yum!

Posted by Jen B On Monday, February 23, 2015 6 comments
This cake was totally improvised, which made the final result even better. There is a kind of joy in throwing things together and having them work out. It feels really good.

This rectangle (or bar) cake was the result of only wanting half a batch of cupcakes. I made my twelve cupcakes, and decided to make two small square cakes with the rest of the batter. From there I cut each sqaure in half, layered them, and frosted them with peanut butter buttercream. I drizzled melted dark chocolate chips over the top and sides of the cake to add some flare. I topped the cake with some chocolate numbers to signify the big 4-0.

Overall, a pretty fantastic cake!

Posted by Jen B On Friday, February 20, 2015 8 comments
I'm knitting a toy fish from my Knitted Toy Tales pattern book, and last week I showed you the intarsia colourwork I did for the tail fin. The body of the fish uses the Fair Isle technique, which I was excited to try as well.

My grandma recently gave me some yarn bobbins, and because this pattern only needed a small amount of yarn, I decided to use them for this project.

This was my first try at knitting a pattern with fair isle and it was really quite simple to do. In this technique, the different colours of yarn are carried across the back of your work, even when you aren't knitting with them. For this pattern, I used green and pink yarn to make the fair isle pattern.

Because the yarn is being carried, strands of colour are created at the back of the work. I Googled what the back side of fair isle is supposed to look like, and I think I nailed it.

Working on this toy has been perfect for learning some new knitting skills. Getting acquainted with intarsia and fair isle colourwork has been both challenging and fun. There are lots of possibilities for colourful projects in my future.

My little fish toy is almost complete. Next week I'll show you him all put together!

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, February 18, 2015 6 comments
Holiday weekends always seem to have a huge quantity of food in them and I'm okay with that.

Before the weekend started, I roasted an eleven pound bird and we had the gift that keeps on giving: turkey, turkey, and more turkey. We had two nights of beautiful roast turkey dinner (with all the fixin's) followed by super filling, triple decker club sandwiches (with bacon, cheese, and mayo). Plus homemade french fries.

Roast turkey dinner

Turkey club with fries
I also made and decorated some heart shaped gingerbread cookies for Love Day, which we ate the last of last night.

Also last night, I finished devouring the sixth book in The Dark Tower Series: Song of Susannah.

It was a pleasant surprise to breeze through this book so quickly, as I found book five (Wolves of the Calla) and all it's 925 pages slow going. But the pace definitely picked up with book six, and now I'm nervous and excited to start book seven: The Dark Tower. I am looking forward to seeing what happens but also sad to see it end. I'm so glad I found this series after all the books were published - I don't think I could have waited years for the books to come out.

It's Family Day here in Ontario (and a variety of other provinces) and I'm headed to Barrie to spend it with my folks, first stop being someplace fun for lunch (TBD) with Mom. The holiday eating continues, and she is my favourite person to lunch with. If only we could teleport to the restaurant so we don't have to be outside in the -20°C (-4°F) weather. Brrrrrrr....

Hope you all had a great weekend too!

Posted by Jen B On Monday, February 16, 2015 3 comments
A fun way I like to go out for dinner with friends is to order and share appetizers. The appetizers often eat like a meal anyway, so it is fun to get a number of things for everyone to dig in and try. On a visit last year to Kelsey's with my friend Jen, we ordered nachos, wings, and an assortment of fun desserts to share too. All were really good, especially the Brownie Pops for dessert. They were fantastic!

 Wonton Nachos

BBQ Chicken wings

 Dessert Treat Trio:
Funnel Cake Fries, Peanut Butter Cup, and Brownie Pops
served with English Toffee caramel sauce for dipping

Posted by Jen B On Friday, February 13, 2015 5 comments
I began working a pattern out of my new knitting pattern book: Knitted Toy Tales. I decided to make a toy fish, as it involved some colourwork, which I am not very familiar with. I find small projects great for learning new skills as you can see your results (and learn from your mistakes) quickly.

The tail fin of the fish used a technique called Intarsia. With intarsia, if there are multiple colours to be used throughout a row of knitting, each colour will have its own ball to work from. The fish toy didn't require very much yarn, so I placed my colours on bobbins. I didn't have enough 'real' bobbins for this pattern, so I made my own using some cardboard.

Following the pattern, I started with blue and knit in stockinette stitch until it was time for the colour changes. Because the fish would eventually be folded in half and seamed, the tail went from blue (colour A) to pink (colour B), to blue, to pink, to blue, to pink, to blue, to pink, to blue.

It took me a few rows to get used to having all the bobbins hanging off the work, but it eventually felt comfortable. I also had to make sure I crossed the yarns properly when changing colours, so I didn't leave any holes in the work. Once I learned the process, it actually started to be a lot of fun and I got into a pretty good rhythm of knowing what colour came next.

That rhythm helped me to (almost) notice a mistake in one of the rows of the written pattern. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't quite figure out what was supposed to be right, and I wasn't 100% confident that I was right in thinking that it was wrong. So I knit it as it was written, thinking that seeing the result would let me know for sure if there was a problem or not. There was.

Once I was sure it was a mistake, I was able to figure out where the pattern went wrong. It is a little out of context, but I will try to illustrate the difference between the written pattern and what I believe should be the correct pattern. For the pattern blue is A and pink is B.

Original     Row 9: [A k2, B skpo, k1, k2tog, k2, A skpo, k1, k2tog, k2] rep to end of row.
Corrected  Row 9: [A k2, B skpo, k1, k2tog, A k2, B skpo, k1, k2tog, A k2] rep to end of row.

The original pattern had all the right knitting, but the wrong colour indicated (the original said to change the colour 3 times, the corrected changes the colour 5 times).

I knitted the mistake into my project, and didn't bother pulling back the rows of intarsia to get it out. I was using this toy to practice skills, so I didn't need it to be perfect. When the knitting was complete, I used duplicate stitch to cover the wrong blues with pink, and the wrong pinks with blue. The mistake is barely noticeable in the finished fish tail.

The main body of the fish uses Fair Isle colourwork, which I'll post about next week.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, February 11, 2015 4 comments

Today I am celebrating my 600th post on the blog!


 Thank you all for being here! 

Posted by Jen B On Monday, February 09, 2015 6 comments
I go through phases with certain foods, where I'm either completely obsessed with them or I forget about them entirely. There is no middle ground and the obsession lasts for short spurts with years of nothing in between. My number one food like this is egg salad. I haven't eaten it in years (the last time was probably at a funeral), but over the past month I've made it twice and have been so damn happy while eating it. How did I forget about egg salad? As much as I love it right now, I know it will slip my mind soon enough. I'll have fun with it while it lasts.

My egg salad is simple: mashed hard boiled eggs, mayo to taste, and some pepper. Love it.

Posted by Jen B On Friday, February 06, 2015 3 comments
In the summer we adopted a ten year old cat named Trudy from an elderly relative who had to go into a home and then later passed away. Trudy had a bit of shock moving here (a new environment, other cats, new people), but it's been over six months now and she is really thriving here. Trudy is an adorably grumpy cat who'd prefer it if she were the only cat who lived here. Funnily enough, our other two cats feel the same way about themselves!

Some family were clearing out her old house in the fall and brought over her "cat house." I have never known a cat who had a house before, and this is proof of how spoiled she was (and, to be fair, how spoiled she continues to be...). She doesn't sleep in this very often, but it is a great hiding spot for her when she wants it.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, February 04, 2015 4 comments
I have been collecting Wilton decorating tips over the past few years, buying them one at a time as I need them/want to play with them. I am building my collection slowly (I currently only have six decorating tips) but the ones I have are ones I use often/look forward to using more often.

These are the most recent additions to my collection and some photos of the fun I've had with them.

1A tip (Large Round).
I bought this one so I could make some hi-hat cupcakes. I definitely want to try the peanut butter ones from this blog, as they look decadent and insane (more icing than cupcake!) but I haven't found an opportunity to make them yet.

Just fooling around with some Marshmallow buttercream, I practiced making some 1A swirls.

2D tip (Drop Flower).

This one is similar to my 1M tip, which is my go to tip for decorating cupcakes. I did some practicing with this one that involved playing with colour as well. I put a few lines of colour on the inside of a piping bag with a toothpick, which gave the edges of the frosting a simple but fancy look.

#233 (Grass tip).
There are a number of different projects I want to try with this tip, from a hobbit hole cake to monsters (Elmo or Cookie). When baseball season comes around again, I'd also love to make a batch of these baseball cupcakes. This was my first go at making grass - I was very happy with it!

My current collection:

Back Row:  1M,   1A,   2D
Front Row:  #21,   #233,   #3

Posted by Jen B On Monday, February 02, 2015 4 comments
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