Category: Real Life (Page 2 of 26)

What To Do With Left Over Pickle Juice

I love things pickled. One of my favourite things to eat pickled (besides, you know, pickles) is pickled eggs but they’re quite pricey. A small jar will typically run about $15 (Canadian). Turns out they’re really easy to make. I had an empty jar of extra garlic pickles (kept the brine) and some eggs and some vinegar.

That’s pretty much all you need, or you can make your own brine from scratch. I boiled the brine along with the extra vinegar, and added some extra spices for a bit of heat. I cooked the eggs in my instant pot (no fuss and they’re done in 5 minutes) peeled them, and put them into the pickle jar. I sealed the jar, let it sit out until it cooled down, and popped it into the fridge for a few days.

Yesterday was the first day I opened it up to see how they came out.

Fantastic.

The flavour is decidedly tart – but not so tart that it makes your mouth pucker, and not in an uncomfortable way. Sometimes you get such a heavy vinegar taste that it makes the food obnoxious to eat, but not in this case. All it cost was the $2.99 carton of eggs, and they’ll last in the fridge for a very long time.

So before you go tossing out that pickle juice – try some pickled eggs (or carrots). Yum.

Shawl Progress

I took a few days off from knitting. As much as I enjoy the cold fall weather, my hands have been giving me some pretty bad aches and pains, so I’ve been trying to get them feeling a bit better before I did very much more. My shawl is slowly coming along though. It’s worked in two sections, first you knit the center panel which is just plain knit stitch with a few knit-front-back and yarn overs that increase the size of it slowly and leave a really nice boarder along the wingspan, then after I’ll be doing some lace work, a fan pattern. Since I’m working with worsted yarn instead of lace or fingering it should be a nice good size, and since it’s an amazing 100% marino from Malabrigo it feels like I’m knitting with clouds in my fingers.

This is the first time I’ve knit with a “good” yarn, a fancy one. I’ve stuck to brands from Wal-Mart or Michaels or Knitpicks ever since I started knitting because that’s what I could afford. There’s nothing wrong with those yarns, you should knit within your budget – this stuff was an amazing gift from a friend and I had been looking for the perfect pattern to use it on. I’m hoping to be able to wrap myself up in this oversized shawl in my reading corner with a good book come winter. It will depend on when I actually finish knitting it though, of course. I think the longest part will be knitting the center as I’m doing now. I’m just over 50% of the way through. I am restricted to knitting nights and during naps because my son is in the “oh that’s fascinating!” stage of life where he wants to play with everything, including pulling and eating yarn. I know I’ll get there, it will just take some time. In the mean time, I can’t help but squish and play with this yarn and go on and on about it. It’s just that beautiful.

Why I’m Doing Inktober

This month was the first time I had heard about “Inktober” an event that runs for all of October and was apparently started by a Jake Parker to help develop good drawing habits and then just sort of went viral from there. Back when I was much younger (17 years ago at least) I used to do quite a bit of drawing, but since then I’ve fallen out of the habit and it’s something I’ve always regretted. You can see some of my older stuff on an inactive DeviantART account I have.

Even though I haven’t done any drawing for many years I decided why not take part, especially after I saw friends showing off their awesome pieces. There is a drawing prompt for the month but you don’t have to use it. I’ve been following it because it makes things easier for me, especially after being so rusty. I just ordered myself a set of micron pens which should get here on Tuesday, and I’m excited to try them out because my current pen is.. well, it’s drying out and just not good.

Speaking of not good – I know my stuff isn’t good. It’s pretty horrible, actually. That’s not me being harsh on myself, that’s 17 years of not using my skills. My hope is that after Inktober is done I’ll continue drawing, and then over the next year I’ll be able to see some improvement. I love drawing (well, I love many artistic endevours, but drawing in specific) and I want to be able to get better at it. It’s one of those skills you have to practice every day though and lets face it 17 years is a long time.

The point of this post is to say it doesn’t matter how good you are or how long it has been. If you enjoy doing something or have regrets about not doing something – change it. Within reason and logic of course, but don’t let time passing be one of the things that holds you back.

Dusting Tom Thumb

Not too long I bought my first spinning wheel. I didn’t know enough about buying them at the time, but I was impatient and bought it anyway. It was a used wheel called a “Tom Thumb” which is from around 1980, made in New Zealand. It’s missing a few parts, most notably four knobs that match the two I have. One goes to the orifice hook, one goes to the second lazy kate, and the third goes to.. I can’t remember what. The maiden head was cracked and my husband managed to sand and repair it last year. We had intended on refinishing the entire piece and getting it running properly, but then kiddo made his early appearance and it got put aside.

I took it out today to give it a bit of love, shine it up and make sure she still runs (which she does). I have it set for double tension right now, but I need a piece to hold the footman to the wheel, I’m using a paperclip right now and lets just say it’s awkward. Ideally I’d like some sort of nut or bolt along with some felt so that the footman doesn’t rub and make a lot of noise (like it does now). I also bought a new orifice hook for it, it won’t match exactly, but that’s alright. In the meantime I set out to see if I could find a woodworker who could make matching knobs for me. I’d like to restore this wheel to her former glory, it’s an incredibly solid wheel that I’m sure has seen some good years.

Ideally, in the (far) future, I’d like to purchase a new wheel. Maybe an Ashcroft Traveller. I also own a few drop spindles (one wooden and two 3D printed) that are a lot of fun to use. In order to get better at spinning you need to practice practice practice practice – and I just haven’t had the time on top of everything else. If it’s a hobby you enjoy though, to make the time and find it some where. So that’s what I’ll do. You can see the yarn I’ve spun so far over on my Ravelry page – some people have amazing yarn. That’s the level I want to get to, and I will, with practice.

Knitting Hats for Winter

It’s getting pretty close to winter here in British Columbia, Canada and my kid has out grown all of the cute little newborn hats that he got last year when he was born. I made him a handful, a little pumpkin and some plain ones. He was so small that in the NICU his hat could have been worn as clothes.

Instead of buying him a new hat that he would just outgrow in another year I decided to knit him one. Hats are fast knits and it’s rewarding to see something you’ve made being worn. He’s too young to appreciate anything fancy, so I picked a simple pattern by Tin Can Knits called Barley.

There’s an issue with the pattern before the decreases. You end on a knit row and continue with another knit row to establish the decreases when you should end on a purl row. That’s the weird wonky line at the top before the hat starts to curve. It doesn’t affect the warmth of the item at all and it’s something my kid certainly won’t care about so I decided to just leave it be and finish knitting it. It’s made from an extra soft acrylic yarn from KnitPicks called Might Stitch. The hat is (of course) too big for him but I figure he’ll grow into it. Hopefully not too quickly.

Crafting Pet Peeves

Hey, it happens. Sometimes things bug us or rub us the wrong way. Today while I was working on my scarf I came across a pretty big pet peeve. In the screenshot above you’ll see one skein of yarn that transitions between pink /purple / blue and various shades of those. It’s ‘chroma’ by knitpicks, and it also varies in thickness from thick almost bulky, to thin, almost lace. The problem is smack dab in the middle of that picture where it abruptly shifts colours with no transition even though the rest of the scarf has transitions.

Turns out the yarn was split in two places, and it threw everything off.

This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I don’t mind the thick / thin consistency as it’s advertised when you purchase the yarn, but I don’t like splits in yarn, and I don’t like the issues caused by those splits. In this case that bright pink should have slowly transitioned to a light purple and then to a blue but instead a huge chunk was missing (all of the blue, and two purple transitions). I didn’t have enough yarn to fix the problem manually so because I was already near the end of the scarf I decided to just try to ignore it and cary on.

I’ve been working on this scarf since August 19th. Scarves are a LOT of work – and this is probably the first and only time I’ll make a scarf in fingering weight (she says unconvincingly). It is much quicker to knit something in bulky weight yarn, or at least worsted. I tend to like fingering weight yarn because it’s lovely sock yarn which is my favourite thing to knit. My yarn stash has a LOT of fingering weight (you can find me over on Ravelry as Stargrace, of course). Thankfully, the scarf is now done, and it looks great on me. We don’t get a lot of really cold weather here, so I wanted to finish it in time for fall to get the most use out of it. It’s one of the only pieces I’ve actually knit for myself.

Do you have any knitting or crochet pet peeves? What do you do to combat them (if anything can be done) and how do you avoid them from happening in the first place? Let me know in comments!

The Weekends Are Hardest

The weekends are hardest for me. I see everyone with their families, and mine is incomplete for another 128 days. We tend to fight on weekends. We don’t get much time to talk and what time we do have gets misunderstood because text is really no way to have a relationship. He’s bogged down with the difficulties of depot, and I’m trying to raise our (almost) one year old son alone. We normally lean on each other, and we can’t do that right now, although we both try. I’m exhausted from day to day activities, and so is he, even though we’re doing completely different activities. We talk less than an hour a week.

It’s temporary, I know. I remind myself like a mantra. One more day. One more day. One more day. Some days are harder than others. Like immunization day that’s coming up. That’s going to be a rough one. They’re all hard on some level because it’s never easy to be away from your partner, but you develop a routine and things become a bit ‘normal’ for that situation. I don’t cry quite as much but I certainly still cry. Silly things still set me off. Like Friday nights. Normally we’d be gaming together, getting ready to relax. He’d give our son a bath and then read him Dr. Seuss books while I took a break. I’d take over and nurse and then put our son to bed while my husband relaxed at his desk and decompressed after a long 12-14 hour day at work. We’d each talk about our day. Laugh at stupid stuff that no one else would find funny or understand.

I miss the simple things. You never expect to miss farts, but I miss those. He says he misses changing diapers and I believe him. I miss cooking for more than just one person. I miss having someone to split the chores with. I love our son but I miss having a break. I miss just talking. I miss listening to him breath at night. He missed our son learning to sit up, learning to crawl, eating a billion different types of new food. He feels guilty about it but timing has never smiled upon us in life so we just have to make due and keep going forward. One more day. One more day. One more day.

 

Knitting / Crochet Goals for… 2018?

I like goals, and I like lists. There are lots of crafty projects I wish I could do that I haven’t mastered the skills for yet. In case you’ve forgotten, I’m completely self taught when it comes to both knitting and crochet. I’ve been knitting for two years this September, and crocheting off and on for a number of years. I find crochet very difficult, knitting was much easier to pick up. As such I’ve included a list of ‘goals’ that I’d like to accomplish when it comes to my two crafting passions for 2018. Hopefully I get a few of them done, but we’ll just have to see.

  • Two sided knitting. Oy. How many tries have I given this one now? How many failed attempts? My brain just can’t seem to wrap itself around this form of knitting. It’s a shame too, because it’s absolutely beautiful and I have the yarn for a magnificently geeky blanket if I could ONLY double knit. I want to learn this more than anything else. Practice, practice, practice and then practice some more.
  • Crochet more than single crochet. I can do granny squares (I did make a granny square blanket after all) and I can do simple single crochet, but that is as far as my crochet skills go. I don’t seem to be able to keep track of half double crochet, or triple crochet, or any of that. I get a few rounds in and then my mind goes blank and I end up reverting back to single crochet. Every time. I want to learn the more complicated stitches.
  • Crochet more amigurumi. Pictured above is my small collection (minus my octopus which is on my desk living happily). The “teddy bear from hell” is a very failed experiment when I was first getting started but I still love it. Norbert the unicorn is my pride and joy, and I’d really like to attempt more cute little guys to add to my collection.
  • Fix my first ever knit socks. This is just a matter of finding the socks, and finding the time. I knit them before I knew how to do the kitchener stitch and the toes are completely wonky to the point of being uncomfortable. I’d like to rip back the toes, re-stitch them and close them up properly. If I can remember where they are. Maybe in my yarn bin…
  • Fix my first ever knit shirt. I love the shirt, it fits, and it’s lovely except for one major issue. I used a non-stretchy bind off, which means that there’s no give when you try to wear it around your waist or when you put it on or take it off. Having some give is absolutely essential otherwise you’re just wearing a tight piece of yarn around your hips. I need to first make sure I have some spare yarn, then remove the current bind off (just a regular plain one) and find and learn a stretchy bind off. Once that’s done I’ll have a new shirt I can wear. Again this one comes down to time.

Those are the main goals I’d like to accomplish – and I think it’s a pretty reasonable list. We’ll just have to see how it goes. Do you have any crafty goals you’re working towards? Let me know in comments! Tomorrow we’ll have a regularly schedule gaming post.

Sunday: Meals of the Week Post

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The meals from last week were a huge hit. I didn’t get bored of the meatloaf / stuffing for dinner, and I didn’t get bored of the corn quesadillas. One thing I did add was pickled red onion. I am pretty sure I could eat that stuff on everything, and it’s incredibly easy to make.

This week I’m opting for simple flavours again. Chicken is on sale (two whole chickens for $15, normally you get one for $10-$15) and shrimp is on sale. I still have ground beef frozen since I only used half of it for my meatloaf, but I’m thinking that might get turned into a burger later on, or maybe chili. Anyway. This weeks meals –

Blackened shrimp tacos with a lime slaw

Quinoa fried rice: this recipe was adapted from the myfitnesspal blog.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken thighs, cooked, shredded
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 large eggs, whisked
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 diced small white onion
  • 1 cup sliced carrots (thin)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fine chopped fresh ginger
  • sriracha to taste

Directions

  • Cook quinoa according to package instructions (I cooked mine in a rice cooker with a cup of water, and I also used ancient grains instead of regular. It has a really nutty flavour).
  • Scramble eggs in a non-stick pan over low heat. Slice into strips and set aside.
  • Add oil to a large pan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until soft.
  • Add peas, corn, and cooked chicken. Heat until warm.
  • Add quinoa, and scrambled eggs. Mix it all up.
  • Add soy sauce and sriracha to taste.
  • Can store in the fridge for up to a week. Serve warm.

Easy and delicious meals for the week. I may mix a bit of brown rice in with the quinoa, but it doesn’t need it, I just use it for bulk. I plan on serving some sweet potato crisps along with the tacos just for a bit extra too (a treat my other half sent me while he’s away).

The only instant pot stuff I plan on making is the whole chicken, and the quinoa / rice. It’ll still save dishes / time / hassle of having to cook it so I don’t mind too much.

My breakfast of chai seeds / oats  / homemade yogurt / cubed apple / maple syrup (just a splash) / spices was absolutely delicious. I’m not sure if I want another week of the exact same breakfast or if i want to switch it up. None of the things I enjoy for breakfast are on sale this week, bacon is expensive, eggs get boring. I imagine I’ll figure it out when I do my groceries for the week.

I’m not down any weight this week, still hovering around the 197-198 mark but I’m also not up any weight and some weeks that’s just as good. I know I didn’t eat as well as I could have (my other half sent me a care package with some treats in it) but it’s a marathon not a race, as the saying goes. This week I should be able to stick with things a bit better and hopefully get down another pound (or two).

Making any exciting meals this week? Have a recipe you want to share? A site that you get most of your meal prep from? Let me know in comments!

Adventurous Christmas Present

Because I don’t already have enough hobbies and projects on the go, I decided to start one more. It’s a Christmas gift for my other half, so I am not going to post a picture here (he probably wouldn’t see it any way, but just in case) and I’m thinking I may have bit off more than I can chew. It’s a complicated cross stitch, and there’s only a few months before Christmas (where I’m working on other projects at the same time). I can’t work on it at night because I’m usually in a dark room, and this particular project is being done on navy aida cloth (18 count). I’m not sure I can get it done in time but I wanted to give it a try. If anything it can be a Christmas present for next year.

My mother taught me to cross stitch when I was probably around 12-13 years old. She had been doing it for years and continues to. Her stuff is very intricate, and she has even won some local awards for her (she did a huge afghan one year). Me, I don’t particularly have the patience for larger projects. I have one on the go that I’ve had started for many years now, a European Bistro. It will look amazing when it’s done, but “when it’s done” is probably not for another 20 years and I think I started it 10 years ago.

I do well with smaller projects, or projects that are near and dear to my heart, like the adventure time one above (completed for the husband, it hangs over his desk. I have a fluttershy one that hangs over mine). Cross stitching is a relaxing hobby that you can customize to suit any person in the world because it’s just taking images and using tiny threaded X’s in different colours to transfer that image.

When I was first starting out I used to buy kits from Michaels or online, but now I prefer to make my own designs, and I just buy the floss (typically DMC). I don’t get a chance to cross stitch as much as I’d like since I am typically busy with the 1 year old or a different hobby (gaming, knitting, crochet, spinning yarn, cooking, photography, you get the point..) but it’s one I like to come back to and one that I pick up a few times a year.

I started an afghan a few years ago and each square of the afghan is going to be a blizzard battle pet, but I haven’t gotten very far on it yet. I’ve also been slowly working away on the Hufflepuff crest from Harry Potter (happens to be my house of course) but that’s on the back burner while I work on this new Christmas present. I have more cross stitch projects on the go than I do knitting projects, which is something I have always wanted to change. I want to FINISH projects, and not just have a collection of half completed bits and bobs. It’s always one of my new years resolutions, actually.

So we’ll see how far I get with this new one. Maybe I’ll buckle down and focus enough to finish the others.

Right.

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