24 September 2012

Quick update, end-of-September-edition

Right, so it has been a while since I posted. This has two causes: One, because I have been toying with the idea of merging both Tecrin-blogs into one self-hosted blog (maybe under a new name, but I haven't decided yet, that's why it's still two separate blogs!), two, because I was afraid I'd jinx something. I am hovering right around the 100 kg mark, sometimes over, sometimes under, and haven't really lost anything in two weeks. Now, September is a dramatic month for anyone in my family that's on a diet, because half my family has their birthday in September, not to mention a ton of friends. I haven't had a weekend without birthdays since the start of the month. All that cake... And snacks... Oh, man, it's been hard! I think managing to survive this month without gaining 2 kg is a feat on its own, so I just aim to maintain and hope to get things back on track come October.

I managed to keep to my running schedule and am slowly seeing progress, though I haven't gone to the gym as much as I would have liked this past month because I was so damned tired all the time. I've been sleeping terribly lately, because of work-related stress (new job, urge to prove myself combined with a fear of failure, which is not a great combination), and I have noticed that I am reaching for sweets and snacks more and more often. As it turns out, though, these two are related! I stumbled upon an article that links a lack of sleep to an increase of appetite and a lack of satisfaction while eating, meaning you will want to eat more and won't know when to stop. It's science, people! So now I know I need to get my sleep pattern back on track, as well as make more effort to keep my cravings in check!

This coming week will be a struggle as well, but for slightly different reasons: World of Warcraft's new expansion Mists of Pandaria is coming out tomorrow! And on a related note, we've got our annual guild barbecue this upcoming weekend! So I'm facing a week of gaming excessively followed by a weekend of booze and barbecue. I'm determined to keep things under control, though. I've got a batch of curried chickpeas roasting in the oven right now (and if they're tasty, I'll post a recipe), which is a snack not unlike peanuts in their crunchiness but much less hard on the tummy because they're veggies, so only about 150 calories a portion (of about 1/3 cup). I've also got two big bottles of water in the fridge, a ton of apples and grapes stocked up, and a big box of trail mix and some crackers in the pantry. So that's the gaming snacks taken care of!

That barbecue though... I guess I'll just have to be really careful with what I eat. Plenty of veggies and salad and less meat, and careful with the crisps and alcohol. Pfft... It's going to be a challenge! Wish me luck?

19 September 2012

FO: puff stitch cowl

Don't you just love big squishy shawls and cowls? I know I do. Now that the seasons are turning I am finding myself actually looking forward to going outside with my big fluffy, black, fabric, store-bought shawl around my neck and I couldn't fight the urge to make me something equally fluffy and comfy with yarn. So off to the craft store I went!

This squishy cowl is made with 100% acrylics. Yes, yarn snobs of the internet world, acrylics. It's Phildar, though, does that make it better? It's Phildar Impact 3.5 and honestly, it is the squishiest, softest acrylic yarn I have laid paws on in a long while. The yarn doesn't squeak, as a lot of cheap acrylics do, nor does it pill like a maniac, as other cheap acrylics do. It has a bit of bounce to it and is perfect for big stitches like the puff stitch because the loops blend together quite nicely.

The puff stitch is a really easy stitch but it makes for a really puffy, soft cowl. And so.. fluffy! It's really wide, as I have doubled it up in the pictures as it was halfway over my face otherwise, but that's by design: I wanted it to be warm and cosy.The cowl itself is made in a lighter and darker grey, alternating in a 5, 1, 1 pattern, and, seeing as I started with 5 dark grey rows, I ended with 5 rows of light, 1 row of dark, 1 row of light, to make for a continuing pattern. I love stripe sequences like that!

I really can't take pictures of myself without looking like a tool... Though I must say, the loving gaze I'm giving my cowl in the one above makes me laugh. 'Oh cowl, you so fluffy. I'mma keep you and pet you and cuddle you and wear you forever and call you Janice.' Also, how freakishly long is my hair?!

In other news, I think my poor camera may be dying! I had to erase a dead pixel from my pictures and, what's worse, most of my pictures came out extremely blurry. In fact, these two were the only salvageable ones! And the second one is still blurry. No, don't worry, it's not your eyes. I really hope that it's just some weird glitch or something because I really can't miss my camera and I don't have the money for a new one... (or, at least, not the new one I want. Because hello, DSLR... ) So... :(

10 September 2012

Peanut butter fudge

Fudge. Who doesn't like fudge? Well, I know a few people, but they don't know what they're talking about, obviously. Creamy, chewy, delicious fudge, I could eat you any day of the week. I won't, but I could.

It's my brother's birthday today and I wanted to give him something fun. I bought him a Lego storage head (they're really cool, and stackable too!) and decided to fill it with fudge. Fudge has become somewhat of a running gag in our circle, ever since one of their friends watched their house and cats while my brother and his girlfriend were on holiday and hid about half a kilo of fudge in little bags all around the house. When we went on holiday to England two years ago we came home with more fudge than we could ever eat. This, plus the fact that he eats a lot of peanut butter and only one specific brand, made me decide on peanut butter fudge.

Now, I have made fudge before. I made some chocolate fudge, with sweetened condensed milk, and that was pretty good, but I did not know how to make peanut butter fudge. Tastespotting helped me in the direction of this recipe on Some Kitchen Stories, which I adapted slightly. I thought the mixture tasted too much of powdered sugar and could barely recognise the peanut butter, so I added some salt to bring out the taste some more. I think it succeeded in bringing out the peanut butter more and you can certainly recognise the flecks of it in the fudge, but they are still horrendously sweet. They are also very crumbly, but, looking at the original recipe and pictures, I think that's normal.

Peanut Butter Fudge

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt, to taste

Prepare a square dish with aluminium foil (the original recipe says an 8x8 inch dish, though bigger will simply mean thinner pieces. I actually lined a larger oven dish but was able to shape the mixture very well, so only 2 sides of the slab were actually connected to the dish.)

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and peanut butter. Cover the top of the bowl with microwave-safe cling wrap and nuke on high (750 watt) for 2 minutes. Fold over the wrap and stir with a wooden spoon until combined, then replace the cling wrap and nuke it for another 2 minutes. It will be steaming hot, be careful!

Stir until the mixture is completely lump-free (though it will probably already be completely smooth) and add the vanilla extract. Start sifting in the powdered sugar and stir well. It will become increasingly more difficult to stir but keep at it!
When combined, taste (careful, it may still be hot), and add salt if needed. I added a large pinch because of the extreme sweetness, but if that's to your liking, then leave the salt out. Stir thoroughly when adding salt though, since it's already quite doughy, it might stick to one spot in the mixture and make for one rather unpleasant piece of candy.

Grab your prepared dish and spread out the mixture evenly. Place it in the refrigerator for at least one hour before cutting into squares.


4 September 2012

FO: breaking bad-sket

I can't believe it's September already. Summer's almost over! In fact, meteorologically speaking (that is totally a word, spell check), it's already over. Just when I was starting to enjoy it!

Nah, who am I kidding, I really don't like summer that much. I like cold more than constant heat. Cold I can deal with. Sweaters help against cold. Can't dress to beat the heat when it's hanging around you like a suffocating blanket. Give me a nice crisp autumn day any day. Going out for a walk in the forest, all those gorgeous, gorgeous fall colours and the crunch of fallen leaves under my feet... Gathering chestnuts and making plans to roast them while we never actually do that... And then going home, or to a little café, putting my feet up (unless it's a nice café, of course) and drinking some hot tea or chocolate milk. Ah... I really love fall.

Summer left me in a bit of a crafting rut. I'm sure you all have had those before, those of you that craft, but it's been particularly bad for me this year. My last FO? The Spring Ripple Scarf, dating back to the 11th of May. Holy crap! Sure, I've started a project or two, but none of those look like they'll ever actually be finished. (especially that last one. I gave up after hauling two full loads of trash from the storage to the city dump. Nearly broke my back on a surprise!box full of bricks and stones left over from when we tore down the kitchen wall by accident. Four years ago. But hey, at least both our bikes now fit in there again without taking bits off! That's a win, right?) Last week, I got so frustrated, I grabbed the biggest crochet hook I could find, grabbed four balls of acrylic yarn in different hues of blue (and one variegated blue/grey mix), and single-crocheted a basked while watching episodes of Breaking Bad.

I give you: The Breaking Bad-sket.

In crystal meth-blue.

I don't have to tell you what the construction of this basket is, do I? I mean, it's all single crochet, the base is a slip stitch round until I thought it was big enough, and then I did one round of front loop only singles to start the side, followed by more rounds of single crochet until I thought it was high enough. I did add handles, but that's simply by chaining 12 stitches instead of making them, and I'm not even sure I will use it with the handles or just with a folded brim.
The colour-changing was fun, though. I haven't tried this before but it gives a nice result.

I think I planned on using this as a project bag/basket (bagsket?) for future projects, but right now it just holds the yarn I used to make this and no new project. But hey, who knows? I might make more of these with the same yarn! It'll be a self-fulfilling prophecy!