And bringing home some work helped make it a tad longer.

Leki kept trying to nap on me while I played Mass Effect and I kept pushing him of. He finally settled in on the temporary table we have set up.

He's creepily close to eye-level...

It snowed a fair amount this morning. That haze? That's fine snowfall, falling fast and blanketing everything in sight.

After looking at the weather, I snuggled up and played some Mass Effect.

Eventually I got up, put some granola in the dehydrator, then promptly sat down and passed out for a few hours. Video games and reading will lull me to sleep quickly, especially if it's a video game with soothing music.

In the late afternoon we did head back out and drove around looking neighborhoods. We found a few houses we'd actually like to get into and look. So progress!
I also played around a bit more with the large knitting needles I have for a blanket I'm going to make. Previously I'd just created what amounted to a swatch to see if I was getting the size right. My gauge is a little off, but I'd say pretty close and since I'm not knitting a sweater I don't think it's going to matter too much. I spent about an hour (out of the approximate six this blanket is supposed to take) and I got a fair amount done. I think this blanket will take me longer than six hours, but since it's my second knitting project (even though my first isn't complete - scarfs take a LONG time).
Oddly  I think the "wrong" side of the blanket looks better than the purl stitch side.

There's a yarn show right next to the laundromat we use. It's called Threadbenders and honestly, I thought it was closed. It's kind of a poorly set up strip mall, so every time you walk past it the store looks dim and closed. Anyway, I wandered over and popped in. They have a lot of different stuff.

I walked away very confused.

Meanwhile Chris was doing laundry a few doors down. I used to hate going to the laundromat. Im still not keen on it (I'm a big fan of just leaving my laundry in the dryer until I need it which you can't do at a laundromat) but is growing on me. If nothing else it's a great opportunity to read.

Plus, I don't really do anything. Chris does everything except stuffing my clothes back in the dresser. So really, it's a awesome setup.

Once laundry was done we headed out to various part of Grand Rapids and looked at neighborhoods and various houses for sale. I'm sure we'll be back out tomorrow as well, working to whittle down a list of homes to something more reasonable than what we started with.

It was a long but productive day.

It was nice to see the ice rink downtown busier than it has been the last few Fridays around noon. Hooray for sunny weather on a Friday!

Sometimes the day is long, busy and exhausting. Suddenly you find yourself in the store to pick up dish soap and end up walking out with a whole roasted chicken.

At least I didn't have to worry about what to cook tonight.

Had a nice hour in the library with a new book and some tasty pumpkin treats that Erin made (these things are delicious!).

This is what we do during the State of the Union.

Every year my parents give me a ferret calendar. They tried to weasel out of it once or twice, but no! I accept ferret calendars from my parents only, as an Xmas gift. It's a tradition, like the Xanth box.

Anyway, I forgot it at my parents Xmas eve. Chris was kind enough to make me an alternative January calendar, but it's not the same. So hooray for my mom mailing it to me! Saves us a road trip to metro Detroit.

 We bought a mini-cupcake maker yesterday. I don't have a good reason for purchasing such a device, other than my co-worker raves about how much her kids love theirs and the fact that it was on clearance with a decent coupon on top of it. Sub $10 I suppose is worth checking it out.

And yes, I do actually have mini-muffin tins that I use so this device is almost redundant. But I digress...
I used a box of cake mix I'd actually bought for Chris's birthday last year. It was an emergency box in case my attempt at a home made chocolate cake ended poorly. It's been sitting in the back of the cabinet ever since.

By the way, a box of cake mix will yield a lot of mini-cupcakes....
I do still have a can of frosting as well from last year, but I decided to use up some cream cheese and other ingredients and make some home-made frosting.

I also thought I'd be fancy and try to make a piping bag at home and coat the mini-cupcakes all fancy. Yeah... That didn't work.
Still, the cupcakes came out cute. I even messed with some food coloring and made a few blue ones that remind me of smurfs.

I've been alternating between practicing crochet and knitting (which is more twisting on my wrists and harder for me to do for longer periods of time than crochet) for the last few weeks. One of the small projects I decided to try was a bouncing door hanger for the cat. Today I wrapped up the project and I have to say, I'm happy with how similar the colors are to Leki's preferred ferret toy, Thing 1.
 Leki messed with it a little once I hung it up, but honestly despite the bell stuffed in the ball end, it wasn't too interested. It bounces, it moves, but it's too high for my orange sausage cat. He has to stand to swat at it, and he really just prefers to squat and swat.

I may make another one down the road has a longer squiggle so he's more apt to swat at it.

If the cat never does quite take to it I can always just give it to the Peppy, who is always excited to stash fabric toys.
I also have a ball (or is it skein? Or is that the same thing? I'm not clear on the terminology) of this insanely weird looking Fun Fur that I ended up not using. Originally I was going to crochet the ball end with this so that the toy was more enticing to the cat. I tried crocheting with it a few times and kept getting it knotted with all the fuzzy strands sticking out. What a freaking nightmare. Maybe when I get better I can go back through and weave it in or craft another ball out of this.

Season 5 of The Guild arrived today in the mail. A perfect DVD for a snowy weekend.

Even the cat is interested. That's how awesome The Guild is.

Fresh snowfall this morning made for a slower-than-usual commute. Even the walk to the library wasn't too fun.

I'm going to have to remember to bring that kitty hat tomorrow for my weekly pita lunch.


It's Tuesday, the weather is crappy and did I mention it's only Tuesday? I mean seriously, those fading mounds of snow were snowmen created yesterday. Yesterday! With the snow melting so quickly I lament all the missed opportunities to create snowscapes worthy of Calvin.

With such crappy weather we didn't go anywhere. Not that we were really planning to, but I'm just going to say the weather cemented it.

I decided to spend my time working on crochet and knitting. I worked a little on a door hanger for the cat which is what that hideous blob of bright colors are to the left in the photo. I'm not sure how much he understood my telling him he could play with the yarn AFTER I knotted it into weird loops. And if you are wondering about the choice of colors, well, they're to match a Thing One toy he likes.

I'm making some progress on the scarf for Chris. You can see a few inches up on it when I started getting more comfortable (and wearing my wrist braces) which I think changed the stitching.

So a quiet night all in all. I should do the dishes but I'm pretty sure the crappy weather is preventing me from doing even those. At least that's what I'm going to tell myself. And avoid looking in the kitchen sink for the rest of the night.

Oh, one last thing! Adam and Comfort, creators of The Uniques and Rainbow in the Dark comics, have drawn Chris and I in their upcoming Rainbow in the Dark issue!

If you had difficulty spotting us here you go!

My favorite lunch hour pastime in the winter - hanging out at the library.

It was a good day.

Chris and I headed out in the morning to run some errands and stop by Joanne Fabric. I wanted to see if they had any yarns on clearance and to just take a look at what they have.

Oh. My. God.

I spent quite a bit of time wandering around very confused. There's a lot of different types of yarns. Wow.
After the errands we headed back home to a wonderland of snow-covered trees. The intermittent snow throughout the day helped to replenish any snow that might have fallen off.
I settled in with a piping hot mug of hot chocolate (topped with the last of the marshmallows I made earlier) and some Mass Effect.

We may not have received snow in the apocalyptic proportions as previously predicted, but we did finally get a covering of snow and the obligatory hassle of driving to work through it the next morning.

It's a nice amount of snow. Not so much to be debilitating and not so little to barely cover anything. A happy middle ground.

Chris made dinner tonight, which is awesome because I was way too lazy. Plus, that meant I got to entice the cat with string while I messed with the knitting needles.

I decided I was going to start in on a scarf for Chris. He assures me he will wear it, but honestly I think he should wait until there's a finished product before making that kind of commitment. Why a scarf? I read those were a good easy beginner project. I did pick a scarf pattern that I needed the knitting book from the library to decipher. K2og. What? After casting on 60-some stitches over and over only to discover I didn't have enough thread and having to start over, I finally got on the 92 loops. Gah. My wrists hurt now.

When I was a little kid, my mother tried to teach me various crafts with thread and yarn. I remember being taught to crochet, I remember starting ambitious cross-stitch projects (which I recently unearthed and unfinished in my sewing box), and I remember declaring the activities too boring and too girly.

My mother had a lot of patience with me. A lot.

Anyway, over the years I've steered clear of anything requiring needles and thread/yarn. Button fell off? Grab a safety pin. There, all fixed.

I've crocheted a few things as an adult, mostly toys for the ferrets to hide. They're always hideous, lumpy, and it's obvious I got bored half way through the project.

 But the twitter ladies I follow who enjoy knitting work wonders. When one of them discussed excitement awhile back about finishing a pair of socks, I was amazed. Socks? I could make weird funky socks? What else could I make? I joined ravelry to check out a bunch of patterns and I found all sorts of things. There were Tardis Kindle covers, Sherlock Holmes scarves, dragon plushies and more. That put me over the edge. I was going to get better at crochet!

There was just one problem: all the patterns I liked were knitting patterns.

So out we went last week to snag some cheap yarn and needles for me to play with. I've been messing with them on and off this week, trying to get the hang of different stitches.

I am making progress. I'm yelling at the YouTube video tutorials less and I picked up a knitting book at the library today. I'm still not very good, but I have a lot of yarn to mess with and I'm slowly creating a tangle of gray stitches, as you can see. So anyway, mom (dad, go get mom to read this. Thanks!), I'm sorry I was a massive brat about this stuff as a kid and thanks for giving me a foundation of knowledge on this stuff.

I was just going to play Mass Effect for a little bit after dinner. Then I looked up at the clock and it was 10pm. Oops.

Today is my first day back from a week of vacation I was greeted this morning with an adorable gift: from a co-worker: a vacation in a box! There were coconut-flavored M&Ms, tea, lemonade, a sleep mask, a beach-themed calendar and more!

I felt slightly better today so we headed outdoors. And by outdoors I mean from the apartment to the car, and then the car to the grocery store. But hey! At least I left the apartment today, which is more than I can say for the last few days...

This is what a big chunk of my afternoon (in between sneezing fits) looked like: glass of water, box of tissues, and Mass Effect. Super thanks to Comfort and Adam who loaned me the game (after much praise on it's awesomeness). I'm a much larger fan of fantasy video games than of sci-fi (which is why I own Bioware's Dragon Age game and not their Mass Effect game) so I kind of glossed over this one in favor of ones with more dragon-slaying and sword-wielding. After four or so hours I realize that was a mistake. This game is badass. I just wish I felt better so I could play more. Stupid cold.

Later in the day, after much laying about acting like I was dying, I let the ferret out to run around and stash her toys. The stitching on the new egg is a little tight and she does have to try harder to grab it, but grab it she does and off to the various living room corners she goes. As a side note, if this blogpost is incoherent I blame the stuffy head combined with the pain I decided to put myself through by watching the GOP primary debate. I'm not ready for bed yet so what better way to wake up than by riling myself up listen to that? I may need shot soon though.

I pulled out my sewing kit a few weeks ago with the intent to create another crochet egg for the ferret. See, ferrets love to hide things, and it's way easier for them to hide an Easter egg full of rice (not instant rice) when it's covered in yarn.

The last one I made I half-assed. As you can see I only had a few short bits of different yarn and I got really lazy at the end. The fraying is, honestly how I made and through no wear and tear from the ferret. I'm just that bad at crochet.
After spending a really good chunk of the morning first refreshing myself on how to actually crochet there was a lot of starting a row, pulling all the stitches out and then trying it over again. Eventually I found a nice tutorial for making crochet eggs.
After Leki gave up trying to play with the string, he just got plain jealous and laid on it.
The day wore on. I stopped and started quite a bit. In the evening I finally decided to finish it off (it can't be that hard, right?)
I finally finished it looks better than the old one, that's for sure. I just hope I didn't make the stitches too tight that it's difficult for the ferret to grip.

Now to just wait for her to wake up and show her.

I've been eyeing this Braided Lemon Bread recipe for a long time, but I've always been leery about trying it. In my head I loathe dough recipes that involve rolling, cutting, etc. I always use too little or too much dough, things are sticky, things are ruined, and the cat always tries to help.

But today? Today was the day. I'd bought all the ingredients yesterday and it didn't matter that there's no room in the fridge or the freezer for leftovers or that it's extremely unlikely Chris will like or eat this stuff (well, there's a chance he might eat it, unlike this Citrus Cranberry Cream Cheese Danish I want to try). I was making this bread.
The dough for this bread was extremely sticky when it was done rising, but a light dusting of flour (not the heavy coating I gave it for fear of stickiness) made it really pliable and easy to work with.
It braided pretty easy and I even had chunk of leftover dough from trimming that I tossed into the freezer for later baking session.
It smells delicious and I can't wait to try it after it's cooled a bit.

I took a bunch of photos again so here's a slideshow of the whole process, including making the fragrant lemon curd.

I wrote a rather ambitious list of things to cook last night. So I started the day off with a hefty grocery list and I was get up out of bed early and get cooking!

About noon I finally made it to the grocery store. Lets just say that vacations with no forced structure means lots of reading and laying about. But I'm ok with that.

I started off prepping things for Chicken and Dumpling Soup. I really thought it would take me all afternoon to make it from scratch, so I wanted to start early. I was half right. It took me half the afternoon.

I'd picked up a Cornish hen instead of a whole adult chicken so that we'd have less leftovers, but now that it's all said and done I think we're still going to have a ton of leftovers. But I digress.

I actually rounded up on some ingredients (for example, entire cup of heavy cream instead of 3/4 of a cup - what was I going to do with that extra 1/4 cup?) and somehow my dumplings ended up making this much thicker than the original recipe appears to be. But I actually prefer thick soup so I'm happy this is thicker rather than runnier.

It ended up super tasty and hours later my mouth is craving more even though my tummy has no room.

Here's a small slideshow of the pictures I took while making it this afternoon.

And then I started on the next project....
Also on my list was something sweet and spongy; marshmallows. Honestly, ever since Chris came home with delicious treats Erin made a few months ago I've been dying for an excuse to make some. The peppermint honey bear from yesterday put me over the edge (hot chocolate + marshmallows + peppermint honey? I have to try this). Plus she recently mentioned on twitter making champagne marshmallows which sounded like a delicious idea. Unfortunately I forgot to pick up the champagne (I always forget at least one thing when I go grocery shopping).

The whole process wasn't as messy as I'd anticipated (thank you recipe for forewarning me!). The hard part is waiting to actually cut up and use the marshmallows! Here's a quick slideshow of the process.

I also made some meatballs and shoved them in the freezer for quick tasty ravioli at a later date. I'll have to save this braided lemon bread recipe for a later date since it's really too late to start this one. I'm also going to have to get my butt in gear and try to make those peppermint patties and chocolate dipped peanut butter crisps!