Monthly Archives: May 2016

Choc Chip Peanut Butter Banana Cookies

I have this weird thing with bananas…I only like them when they’re a little bit unripe, nice and firm inside. (Please leave your dirty minds at the blog door, thank you! You know who you are).

I think they get too banana-ry when they ripen, and they get spots on the skin and it looks so unappetising, which makes me leave them on the table where they get even more ripe and then they end up looking like this.

Which is great! If I get around to cooking with them….which maybe happens 50% of the time. You know that old thing…I’ll do it tomorrow…I’ll do it tomorrow…and then you end up with mouldy bananas once again.

Not this time! Today I had a mission to bake! And the partner of that banana ended up in some Choc Chip Peanut Butter Banana Cookies.

Say that ten times fast.

My usual go to is Banana Bread, but because hubby hates bananas, I end up eating half and throwing out the rest because as much as you want to, you really shouldn’t eat that much banana bread by yourself.

So, I was browsing Pinterest, which may or may not happen on a daily basis….and saw a Chocolate Banana Babka, which made me wonder if hubby would eat banana if it was laced with something else he likes. Woah, that sounds like I’m trying to drug him or something. So I searched a little more and found Choc Chip Peanut Butter Banana Cookies. He likes chocolate, he likes peanut butter.

Me: “Hey, would you try Choc Chip Peanut Butter Banana Cookies?”

Jason: “Sure.”

Me: *mouth falls open* It’s possible he didn’t hear me say banana but I was gonna run with it.

Mishy mashy, stirry whirry, cookie dough make! Roll into balls, squish onto tray, bake and wait. Sniff sniff. Smells good!

As you do, cookies must be tried soon after they are out of the oven.

Jason’s verdict: “Not bad. Would eat another.”

My verdict: “Crunchy-ish on the outside and really cakey in the middle. Tastes like a banana punched me in one side of the mouth and peanut butter punched me in the other side, with the chocolate chips saying, Hey guys, I’m here too, really!”

But truly, the banana and peanut butter blended together so nicely that neither one is overpowering the other, making it edible by Jason’s standards.

I’m counting that as a win 🙂

If you’d like to make your own, I’m the absolute worst because I can’t find the link, but from memory as it was only half an hour ago:

Whisk 2 cups of plain (all-purpose) flour, 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a bowl.

Mash 1 overripe banana in another bowl with 1/2 a cup of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of milk and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Add in the flour mixture and stir to combine. You can also do all this in your mixer as I did. I found it was a little dry, so I probably added an extra 2 tablespoons of milk, then add in 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and stir it up well. Or 1/2 a cup. Whatever you like. I don’t think ‘less is more’ applies to choc chips.

Now it’ll be a big ball of dough, so grab a tablespoon amount of dough, roll it into a ball, and squish it slightly onto a cookie tray. Bake at 175 degrees Celcius (350 F) for 10-15 mins, depending on how big you made them. You’ll want to take them out when they are going a nice golden brown. I ended up with around 18 cookies of a decent size.

Mmmm yum.

Until next time, have fun!

 

 

My First Knitting Adventure

Hey there!

So, I finished a couple of knitting projects recently, my very first and second ever knitted things. I wanted to share with you the process of making them, and my first attempt at washing and blocking.

First up, was the delightful task of creating something from the Andean Silk Lona sent.  I had plans for a scarf, which are quite frequently the first things someone ever knits because it’s easy, but realised quickly that there just wasn’t enough of it. 2 x 50 gram balls wasn’t going to go the length. Having just received my new knitting needles, I decided to embark upon my first knitting adventure and make a cowl/infinity scarf and learn how to use my circular needles.

Circular needles are two needles joined by a wire, examples borrowed from Google Images below.

You cast on your starting stitches, and they eventually travel off the end of the needle and onto the wire. When you have enough, you start to knit until you come to the end of your row…but instead of turning your work and going back the other way, you just join straight onto the next stitch, essentially making a circle or round. And around and around you go adding on rows. This is why it’s called knitting in the round.

I chose The Very Gifted Cowl from Churchmouse Yarns. If you would like to grab the pattern, you can do so here: https://www.churchmouseyarns.com/products/very-gifted-cowl. It’s extremely versatile because it gives you directions for whatever thickness of yarn you have. It really couldn’t get any easier, because it’s a cast on, knitted in stockinette stitch, which when knitting in the round, is just knit stitch over and over and over again. It got so easy I could do it while watching tv.

And this is what it looked like when the cowl was finished! As you can see, the edges were curling as they are wont to do with stockinette.

Closeup of the stockinette stitch.

I decided to order some wool wash and blocking mats so I could get some of that curl out of the fabric but as that was going to take a couple of weeks to arrive, I started knitting Jason’s scarf. I was feeling full of confidence after kicking butt on the cowl but wow, did that come crashing down. Stay tuned because in the near future I’ll go through what happened there.

I threw aside the scarf in a fit of rage and picked up the ball of yarn called Dishie, a specific cotton yarn KnitPicks has for knitting dishcloths and cleaning cloths. (Just realised that yarn wasn’t in my previous knitting stash post!) It’s a 100% cotton yarn which is great for these cloths as they dry reasonably quickly.

The point of knitting this, was to get the hang of doing a simple pattern, where you move from knit stitches to purl stitches and vice versa. (You can check out this http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2015/08/how-to-knit-and-purl/ if you’d like to know the difference and how to do them). Now mind you, I had just quit my job and obviously was under a bit of stress because I just couldn’t get it, forgetting to move the yarn from the back to the front, or front to back when changing the stitch, or doing too many knits before going to purl and buggering up the pattern. I must have restarted this darned dishcloth ten times over. I threw it aside as well and took a two day knitting break.

Lo and behold, I must have gotten past whatever was screwing up my concentration, because this little beauty finally came together the next time I tried. Ain’t no dishcloth gonna hold me down!

You can find the pattern here: http://www.knitpicks.com/patterns/Reversible_Pips_Dishcloth__D55549220.html

Because I didn’t like how the instructions jumped straight into the pattern and only had a border on two sides, I added some garter stitch rows (those rows made of continual bumps) on either end to make a border all the way around. I’m trying to ignore the fact I didn’t count correctly and there are more rows on one side than the other 😛

Basically the pattern was two rows that repeated, the first row was Knit 3 stitches, Purl 2, Knit 1, repeat the Purl 2/Knit 1 until the last two stitches and then Knit 2. The second row was just knit all the stitches.

Here’s a closeup!

And the other side of the dishcloth. It actually looks pretty cool as well.

Finally my KnitPicks order arrived and I could wash and block my two finished projects. Blocking mats are in this case, interlocking squares that you can set up to however big you need your mats to be, that allow you to pin out your project and let it dry into the shape you want. I got out three mats and my T pins.

And my new basin just for washing my wooly projects, my Unicorn Beyond Fibre Wash, and an old towel. That’s a really little bottle but I only needed 1/2 a tablespoon to 2 litres of lukewarm water. (Silly thing made me convert gallons to litres).

Look! Knitted goodies having a swim! I read earlier in the day that you shouldn’t agitate it very much or use hot water, as both of these make the yarn stick together and can cause them to felt, which is a really cool effect but not what I wanted to happen. So I poked it a little bit, left it to sit for five minutes and then rinsed gently under lukewarm water, careful to support the yarn and not let it hang as this can stretch the stitches. Gosh, is yarn fussy or what!?

Gently squeeze out the water from the yarn and lay them on the towel.

Roll up the towel, gently pushing the excess water out of the yarn as you go. I had my doubts about this, but it really helped. That towel was sopping afterwards.

Lay out your items on your blocking mats…

…and pin into place, gently pulling it into the shape you want. Ta da! That’s looking pretty straight to me.

Same for the cowl, though the edges still want to curl up. The wash really brought out the fuzzy softness of the yarn.

It seems the yarns were not quite colourfast….that water is definitely blue.

It took a day and a half for the two projects to dry completely, and probably because one of those days was quite cool.

Looking good cleaning cloth! You’re so pretty I really don’t want to use you. However, the plan is to make some friends for it so they can clean the house and save money on those disposable Chux as these can be washed and reused.

I had Jason help and take some photos of me modelling the cowl. I don’t think I’ve taken that many photos in the last decade as we did in that ten minutes. I melted in about five minutes because it was 25 degrees but at least I’ll be warm when winter finally turns up!

Hope you enjoyed this lengthy knitting adventure. I’ll be back soon with more things I make.

Until next time, have fun!

Knitting Loot

Hey all,

As promised, I wanted to show my knitting loot accumulated over the last month or so.

This is the start of it, that our dear US friend as per the last post, sent over some knitting needles and some yarn to get me started. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately!) the blue yarn in the top right of the below photo is all I have left! I successfully turned that into something, and I’ll share that a little later. The yarn is a KnitPicks yarn called Andean Silk in the colour Blue Ribbon and according to the label is of Worsted Weight (that’s American for our 10-ply) and is made out of 55% Superfine Alpaca, 23% Silk, and 22% Merino Wool.

The pink needles are Susan Bates needles, which I’m guessing this is a standard needle brand in the US. Lona matched the needle to the yarn she sent, it’s a size 7 US, but kindly they also show our lovely Australian size, which is 4.5mm, indicating the diameter of the needle.

And all the mini skeins are tidbit yarns from Lona’s stash. Look at those little pretties! I’m not sure exactly what to do with it yet…probably some knitted flowers to attach to bags or headbands or something because there’s so little of each, but it’ll have to wait until I learn some more knitting stitches.

I really didn’t want to ruin the lovely blue yarn I was sent, so I went to a local craft shop and picked up a few knitting paraphernalia. This bright green acrylic yarn, which I grew to despise so quickly. It feels fake, because it is fake. But…I had no qualms about ruining it if it came down to it. (Die a miserable death you horrible yarn!)

I grabbed a Patons’ Learn to Knit book, which I did not use to learn how to knit with, but instead used a variety of websites and YouTube videos to teach myself how to cast on, bind off, knit and purl. The very basics, but you can do just enormous amounts of things with these basics. I grabbed a few more needles, plastic ones in 6mm, and bamboo ones in 4mm, so I could see how different sized needles affected the yarn and what the different materials felt like to use. I quickly discovered I hated the metal needles Lona sent (sorry!) I was dropping stitches left, right and centre, they were just too slippery. I then tried the plastic needles, which helped a bit with the dropped stitches, but felt so fake and cumbersome (they are fatter than the pinks) that I went back to the metal.

I also got a ruler/needle gauge and some needles for weaving in loose ends of yarn.

Then started the binge buying. I have a weakness when I start a new craft….I like to buy things! Along with Lona’s yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills, I got some for myself and hubby to make scarves out of for winter, which is fast approaching, yet it’s unseasonably warm still at the end of May. I guess that means I’ve got time to knit! Those yarns are the dark blue, medium blue and dark green to the right in the picture below. I also was getting cranky with mediocre knitting needles and snapped up these two sets from KnitPicks (which ship to Australia and not just the US and have really reasonable prices on everything! Woohoo!)

I got a set of straight 10 inch needles in the gorgeous Caspian colour and a set of the interchangeable circular needles in the even more fabulous Majestic colour. And more yarn! Hooray! From the number of yarn blogs I have read lately, excessive yarn buying is a very common affliction.

Close up below of the beautiful laminated birch needles from Knit Picks. The Caspians are a swirly blue and green, while the Majestic are black, purple, green and blue. I spent a few days researching different needle brands and these reviewed well but aren’t as expensive as others. It was around $75 (AU) for each set and I probably won’t need to buy any more for quite some time.

And Oh. My. Gosh….these are a DREAM to knit with. Absolutely love love love them!

Here’s a close up of the yarns – the two balls are Palette in Clematis Heather and Rainforest Heather, which are 100% Peruvian Highland Wool in Fingering Weight (4-ply) and the blue/black/green combo is Stroll Fingering (4-ply) which I just want to rub against my face forever it is so soft! This colour is called Inverness Tonal and is made up of 75% Superwash Merino Wool and 25% Nylon, making it perfect for socks!  Not quite up to making socks yet but this is going to look awesome when I am.

So I started knitting…and finished a project, and realised I now needed more loot to complete it! Back to KnitPicks I went (because it’s just way more cost effective than Australian online stores even if I have to wait around a week and a half for delivery). Queue the next loot batch below please!

Along the top from left to right, that funky machine is a ball winder, then three different cable needles, used to knit cables, surprise surprise! Beyond Fibre Wash which is a detergent for wool, and four balls of 50 gram sock yarn for hubby, in Jack Rabbit Heather. He picked it himself, after picking four other colours that were out of stock 😛

Along the bottom row from left to right, are an assortment of stitch markers (used to keep track of where you are up to in a knitting pattern if it is complex) and some extra long cords for my interchangeable needle set so that I can make 48 inch and 60 inch lengths. There are also some locking stitch markers and T-Pins, and blocking mats, which are not shown since the box is huge! Blocking mats and pins are used to dry, stretch out and shape the knitting project to how you want it to appear. It really makes the stitches pop. I’ll be doing that soon for my first project and I’ll document that for you.

Here’s a close up of the pretty yarn hubby Jason chose, the Stroll in Jack Rabbit Heather. Again, this is sooooo soft and lovely. We had to get four 50 gram balls because Jason has really big feet! Going to be interesting to knit those socks up.

So, that’s a lot of knitting loot. I hope you enjoyed seeing it and I hope to share the projects I make with them!

Until next time, have fun!

And we’re back! Sea turtles and daffodils and project bags, oh my!

Well, hi there! I bet you even forgot I had a blog. For myself, I did a really great job at pretending this didn’t exist and avoided crafting almost completely. A depressingly, disappointingly great job at avoiding.

My last post was in August 2014. At least I can say I didn’t go two years until poking my head back in here? I had a moment of craftiness last year when we were going to a dress up party and I had this brilliant idea I would make our costumes. I got fabric and worked out the patterns, did our measurements, cut everything out and started sewing. I got partway through my top and tried it on and it was enormous. I wasn’t sure as usually I’d be a 16 or 18 but my measurements said I would need to make the 22! In hindsight, should’ve gone with the usual because this thing was just way too big and I couldn’t see how I could save it.

Reduced to tears and depressed as hell by the fail, I threw the crafting in the bin until about one month ago.

A dear online friend, who hubby and I have met through Final Fantasy XIV Online (our shameful yet awesome addiction), who goes by the name of Lona, sent us a box of goodies from the US. She’s an awesome crafter, and she KNITS! And crochets and weaves and spins. Not so much since her little boy was born, but she’s still awesome.

So Lona sent over some starter needles and some yarn to start me off. I’ll do a post in a few days about my knitting escapades. We also got some fancy chocolate and other goodies, and some utterly terrible Crackerjacks. Please don’t ever send those again 🙂 And the prettiest scarf I have ever seen that she made herself. For me!

And so, we had to tag team a gifts back. A multitude of Australian chocolate bars, Aeroplane jelly, chips, bikkies in the shape of tim tams and iced vovos, Aussie toys for her kiddo and some gorgeous red 100% Australian merino wool yarn.

I had to send back some of my crafties. There are two things our Lona loves, sea turtles and daffodils. Without further ado, cookie pictures and sewing pictures!

I grabbed some green and blue cotton fabric from my sewing room in an attempt to make it look like they are swimming. Well, I tried…there were another three of these guys getting ready for their container to the US.

Closeup sea turtle. Say cheese! Aww, check out that cute smile.

These cookies have four different greens on them, the body, and the flipper/head accents, and the two greens for the shell. I used the wet-on-wet technique to get the cookie surface to stay flat, and I’m just amazed at how well it worked. To refresh you, wet-on-wet is applying your base icing colour and while still wet, add the second on top. The second colour sinks into the first so that it smooths into a flat surface.

Lets get a little closer. I use Pavlova Magic as my dehydrated egg whites in my royal icing mix, and this adds this crazy awesome sheen to the cookies. It really shows up in these pics.

And daffodils, which are Lona and my favourite flowers. Because come on, they are just the happiest flowers ever.

Both the sea turtles and the the daffodils were hand-cut from a paper template and a lot thicker than I usually make them in hopes they would then not break when flying overseas. I used the wet-on-wet technique again, putting down the pale yellow across the whole cookie, then adding the medium yellow and the dark yellow. When the icing was wet I could barely tell the difference between the pale and medium colours but they came out great! I left this to dry somewhat, added the raised dark yellow drops and left to dry completely until the next day. I then piped on the black outlines freehand and quickly to enhance that abstract feel.

Almost last minute (the week before) I had been knitting and my project was getting bigger, I realised I needed a project bag stat! It’s not great just to leave your project on the coffee table, or on the couch, especially with a cat around. I figured I wanted to make Lona one as well and visited my local craft store to find some pretty fabrics. Her favourite colour is blue (just like me!)

I picked up this gorgeous fern-like fabric for half-price, so that was even better. The blue I used for the top and bottom is a part of a cotton stash I had lying around at home, same for the gingham ribbon. Hubby is happy when I don’t spend too much money on fabric 😉

I also got this cream coloured fabric with stripes to go in the interior. I wanted a light colour so that no fabric dye would potentially mark any yarn placed inside. They were washed first as you do anyway!

Closer look at the two fabrics. Hmm, maybe I should have used white thread in the bobbin…. lucky I sewed straight!

Finished drawstring project bag with two balls of yarn inside and two balls outside. Lona received these goodies today, and initial comment was “Love them! The other knitters I talk to will be so jealous of this bag”. I got these yarns from Bendigo Woolen Mills, and they are 100% Australia merino wool. Gosh we make some great stuff here in Australia. These colours are Sangria (dark red) and Ruby. I may have gotten some other colours for personal use too…. How could I resist!? Those are 200 gram balls of quality yarn for about $16 a ball. That is just an amazing deal.

One final shot of the bag, it really shows off the fern pattern brilliantly and our delightful ruby yarn, in a more true colour shot. (I suck at taking photos :P)

If you would like to make your own drawstring bag, this is the tutorial I used, just increased the middle section so the bag was tall enough to put in 14 inch knitting needles.

http://ocd-obsessivecraftingdisorder.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/sheep-happens-bag-tutorial.html

So that’s all for now. I’ll be back soon with a post about my venture into knitting land.

Until next time, have fun.