Posts Tagged ‘general craftiness’

Last week, I had a sudden urge to bake ginger snaps.  However, due to a freaky heatwave where the temperatures out here jumped from the comfortable mid- to high 70’s Fahrenheit to an astounding high record temperature of 112F.  Now that the temperature has dropped, I spent this weekend on a ginger snap baking spree.


I love ginger snaps, but I prefer to make them because they just taste better homemade with quality ingredients and because I really haven’t found any on the market that have the kind of ginger punch that I desire. I want my ginger snaps to be really gingery and enjoy biting into candied ginger bits.

I baked Saturday and Sunday using 2 different base batters. On Saturday, I made a base batch using a basic molasses cookie recipe I found a while back. Taste-wise, that first double batch turned out great – I made half plain, and half spiced. The only problem is that they were a little too fragile for shipping, because they’d break with a simple light jostle. I wanted to send some to my sister and a friend and having the cookies turn into crumbs en route just would not do (though I suppose they’d make a good ice cream topping).

Thus, I reworked my recipe on Sunday to make it a better cookie in both taste and hardiness for shipping and transport to my knit night. The result is a quadruple (!) ginger cookie that is great for hoarding all to myself gifting and sharing. I think altogether from both baking days, I made about 5 dozen of the Super Gingery Ginger Cookies and about 4 dozen that are spiced with a clove mix.

And because I’m so nice, I converted my own chicken scratch and shorthand into something readable and am sharing my recipe with y’all! 😉  The following recipe has the option for you to make a spiced version as well.

Super Gingery Ginger Cookies

¾ cup organic unsalted butter, softened
1 cup organic brown sugar
1 organic cage-free egg
¼ cup organic molasses, unsulphured
1 ¾ tbsp fresh minced ginger
2 ½ cup organic whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger powder
¼ tsp sea salt
¾ cup chopped crystallized ginger
¾ cup chopped non-crystallized candied ginger

Variation: Spiced Super Gingery Ginger Cookies (optional)
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp cardamom


  1. In a  large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together with hand or standing mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses, egg and fresh ginger.
  2. In another bowl, combine and mix flour, baking soda, ground ginger and sea salt. If you are making the Spiced version, also add in the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. With your spatula or a large wooden spoon, stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir in chopped ginger. Chill dough, covered, in refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F. Shape dough into 1” balls and place approximately 2” apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookies have flattened a bit, browned and starting to crack on the top. Cookies should be slightly crisp at the edges and soft and chewy in the center.

Additional Cooking Notes: To prevent the pieces from sticking together when chopping the non-crystalized candied ginger, which has the texture and stickiness of gum drops, toss them with about 1 tbsp of organic granulated sugar. If you want a softer, chewier cookie, shorten the bake time. Conversely, if you like your ginger snaps to have more snap, bake them a little longer. And of course, if you want them extra gingerly, but not super, reduce the chopped crystallized and candied gingers by ⅛ to ¼ cup each. If you can’t find the non-crystallized candied ginger (I got mine at Trader Joe’s), you can substitute it with the crystallized ginger. If you can manage to make your cookies last longer than a day, the ginger flavor tends to strengthen more after 1 or 2 days.


L-R: Non-crystallized candied ginger; Crystallized ginger; Grated fresh ginger.



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At the dye party last week (here, and  here), I overdyed some really nice bulky pink yarn with a blend of silk, alpaca and wool.   The yarn is for an accessory set that I plan on knitting for my sister, who will be heading for a graduate program at Yale this fall.  She really likes the look of garments and accessories made from bulky yarns.  She’s skinny, so she looks good in them too.

In all, I dyed 5 skeins in a gigantic stockpot to get rid of that bubble gum pink color, which both my sis and I don’t like. Because of the large volume of yarn and what I wanted to achieve, I had to dye them together as a batch in 3 major stages.

Left: I forgot to take “before” pictures, but this shows more or less what the original yarn color was (minus the hints of blue), which was a semi-solid soft pink to bubblegum pink; Right: A pile of boiling hot yarns after Stage 1 of dyeing.  I purposefully gave it large chunks and sections of blue and lavender.

Above: Yarn after Stage 2 of dyeing and painting.  I really liked the results in this stage.  It reminds me of a nice opal. However, I don’t think that it’s really representative of what my sis would want.

Above: Much darker! Showing  both sides of each skein after the final Stage 3.  I left some slight hints of pink and bright blue to contrast with some of the darker areas.  Click on photos to enlarge.

And thanks to Denise, I now have some really fun panties!  Yes, I am sharing my panties with the world.

Above: Showing  both sides of each of the undies.  I really like them all, except perhaps the ill-placed patch of bright yellow at the crotch of the one at bottom right.

Above: Showing  both sides of each of the undies.  Boxer briefs for the hubs (he’d better wear them!), a onesie for my friend, and boy short undies for myself.  The onesie didn’t turn out great because I forgot to presoak it in soda ash, so most of the dyes washed out.

Above: Showing  both sides of each sock.  I don’t really wear socks, and am not into colorful socks. However, these would be great with some of my sneakers.  I may give a couple of pairs to my sis, but I don’t think she’d wear them. She loves socks, but she wears them with such a San Franciscan artist’s flair that would give Stacy London a heart attack.

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I always have many things I intend to post, but for some reason or another, I always get behind and some things never get posted here.  So, today I’m playing a little catch-up and promised myself to post a few highlights of some of the long-over due things over the next few blog entries.

About 2 months ago, fabulous Jamie of “Jamie and Abraham” got stuck on a sock pattern that was weirdly written.  I showed Jamie how to do the “magic” provisional cast on as dubbed by Cat Bordhi.  The pattern he was working on seemed really weird and oddly written, but I wasn’t 100% sure since I really am no sock knitter.  However, after consulting with other people in the knitting group as well, we all concluded that the pattern construction was written in an odd manner, and not in the “odd but creative” or “odd but adds to the pattern” kind of way.

Many many months ago, Zona alerted me to an artist’s fair/sidewalk sale in August at The Camp and The Lab. They gave me a fantastic booth area in a pretty high traffic area.  There weren’t as many people as I had hoped, since I think people were getting ready for last minute school shopping. However, I fared pretty well compared to another fair I did that month.  My handpainted silk scarves and reversible headbands were a hit and everyone liked the hippie chicks.  Can’t say much about handknit stuff – but it was really really hot to be thinking about wool for most people! Of course wacky knitters think of wool 24/7.

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I finished up my knitting-themed mini box for my jewelry class. I think it will be perfect for some stitch markers.

Left:Getting ready to solder the base to the bottom piece.  Right: Soldering with the very hot torch. I have not burned any hair yet…thank goodness!

Left:The top and bottom pieces now soldered with the base and top cap.  Right: Sawing off the excess metal.

Completed box with the knitting-themed band motif that I designed. I plan to patina the bottom part of the box in order to contrast and highlight the band design better. Clockwise from top left: A sock; baa-baa sheep; yarn ball; and knittng needles.

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My in-laws are visiting again from overseas. They come at least once a year to visit their 2 youngest sons. My brother-in-law recently moved from NorCal to SoCal, making my in-laws very happy (less traveling for them). They are very nice people and are generally easy-going, but I do get some anxiety when they visit. Even though I’m a modern empowered and self-assured woman, there are certain cultural practices and customs that have been drilled into me as a kid, which I feel compelled to observe to a certain extent.

There are 2 main sources of my slight anxiety: One, I feel the need to clean my house from top to bottom, chauffer them whereever they want me to take them (except Vegas, which is hubby’s job), and cook for them when they stay with us. I generally try to be a good hostess with any visitors, but with in-laws there is generally another level in that I try to be a good daughter-in-law. Two, I feel the need to at least eat some of the food that my MIL cooks or bring over.Number 2 doesn’t sound terrible, unless you account for the fact that she brings meat and seafood on about a 24-hour transit (not to mention that it’s illegal). It’s true.

I certainly cannot blame her for wanting to make goodies for her children who are 1000s of miles away from her, and they certainly miss mom’s cooking. Having a more sensitive and spoiled American stomach than my hubby’s family, I can not stomach the thought of bacteria growth, literally and figuratively (no pun intended). She cooks things that are her specialty, like these shrimp cake roll, some sort of shrimp and chicken thing in a special sauce/coating, and her ultra signature dish: shark fin’s soup. Out of respect, I may eat one or two pieces of the shrimp cake roll, because it’s fried before serving. I don’t really eat a lot of fried things in the first place, but I figure the high heat kills off bacteria. I don’t touch the shark fin soup at all. Sometimes she brings the fins and some ingredients and then cooks it while she’s at our house. Sometimes she brings it pre-cooked at her home country. A few years ago, hubby and I finally had to tell her that I don’t eat shark fin soup. If you’ve never tasted it, it’s crunchy cartilage in seafood broth. I don’t eat it because I don’t like it, and more importantly, it’s cruel the way the fins are harvested. I used to be a Peta member and a vegetarian for over 10 years, so that part is hard to get over for me.

Luckily, I haven’t gotten sick from the smuggled meat products, but then again, I barely eat any. However, I can’t say that about my husband who got sick eating some suspicious chicken curry, which I had warned him about. My MIL didn’t bring any curry this year, and in fact, seemed to have brought less food.

Anyhow, as part of my organizational and cleaning efforts, I decided to build me a new compost bin. For several years now, I have been using kitty litter buckets. I drill holes into the buckets on all sides, including the bottoms and lids, and stacked them near the kitchen door leading to the side yard for easy scraps and waste dumping.

The problem with my recycled buckets is that they are small and fill up quickly. And as of late, some raccoons have been tipping them over, thus making the dumped partially composted scraps a pain in the ass to clean up. So I decided to clear out an area that would not run off into the pool, and build myself a compost bin.

It was very easy to make. I bought some chicken wire, and some stakes (the ones that come in a package, or you can buy them at about $0.70 per piece) so that I didn’t have to cut the wood myself. I then roughly measured the size I needed an made 2 L-shaped sides using a staple gun. I then linked the 2 Ls together using some cable holders I found in my toolbox and some extra wire that I bent to form latches (3 in each corner). That way, if I ever needed to move it, or to access my compost, I can easily disassemble it all. I marked the crude latches with some blue tape so that I can see it easily.

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IMG_4322 IMG_4321
I’ve been working on a secret project that has an early July deadline for publication in a knitting magazine. Since I currently have about 6 secret projects going, I’m going to give this one a pseudonym of “Leaf Pelfriffs.”(Sorry I can’t reveal more info at this time). Anyway, the hubby and I were on our way to my BIL’s house to welcome my in-laws who had just flown in from overseas.

In my infinite and ambitious wisdom, I decided to work on my project during the dark 40 minute drive (9:30 p.m.). “Leaf Pelfriffs” is designed with cables and some stitch patterns in it, so I was really proud that I didn’t drop any stitches in the car (or so I thought), so I continued working. This morning, and about 12 inches later, I discovered that I was missing a stitch. I apparently dropped it while knitting in the car in the dark. Ai-yah! It was far down enough and in a weird spot that it was not an easy fix with some unraveling and a crochet hook. I had to riiiiiiiiiiipppit. ::sigh::

“Leaf Pelfriffs” calls for buttons. I have some fantastic chunky buttons, which includes this chunky bone button at left. But alas, I cannot find my awesome buttons because apparently Impish Gnomes have decided to have a wild party in my craft room.

Luckily, my small jar of various buttons, including some vintage ones were not affected. However, I don’t think any of them are exactly right for the this project. (see photos at the top)

I would try to look for my nice bone and tree nut buttons, but as I mentioned, the darn Impish Gnomes partied in my craft room. They must be tiny short gnomes because they don’t seem to mess up anything stored above 4′.
Invaded by Tornado Gnomes Invaded by Tornado Gnomes
I don’t have any photos of the floor, because frankly, I’m embarrassed at all the fabric and yarn scraps that got strewn around like confetti by the partying Impish Gnomes.
Invaded by Tornado Gnomes Invaded by Tornado Gnomes
Ugh, I really hate my white walls. I couldn’t decide on a color when we moved into the house, so I thought I’d at least paint it white to cover the original puke-colored paint. I also thought that I could easily re-paint when I do decide on a color. Um, does anyone know how to exterminate Impish Gnomes and hire me some House Fairies?
more UFOs UFOs
These two photos above show my bags of knitting UFOs. If you go to the set in my flickr, you can see the notes to identify the baggies.

I swear that once in a while my craft room is organized. You can see the hints of organization behind the labels on my containers. I guess I’ll have to find a way to banish those Gnomes once and for all.

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My apologies to my swap pals for being a little slow to post the goodies I’ve been receiving. I received this earthy-color themed package from my Secret Pal 10 swap pal a couple of weeks ago. I absolutely love the fancy fabric, and the colors of the cashmere yarn! The chocolate is also to die for — I actually bought and ate a couple bars of this chocolate when hubby and I went to Belgium for the Soccer World Cup last summer.
From my Dye-No-Mite swap pal, I received an adorable and thoughtful card with cute and furry sheep on it.

Since Aubrey’s wedding is fast approaching (this Saturday!!), I’ve been helping her with wedding sweatshop (photos here) and other wedding things. I just finished making her chapel length veil, made of silk chiffon trimmed with a rat tail lace at the bottom and a pearl and rat tail trim to match her fancy lace dress. Aubrey hired my friend Linh, who’s staying with me, as the florist, so we’ve been running flower-related errands as well. The wedding is days away, and I still have yet to alter my bridesmaids dress. I have to shorten the straps and take it in near my armpits. Luckily, the empire waist means that I don’t have to take in the rib/waist as well. I had to buy a size larger to accommodate my abnormally endowed bosom, which my friend Tedd claims that I stole from all the other Asian girls we knew in college.

As far as my other crafty activities, I’m trying to be an overachiever and spinning lace weight alpaca as my 3rd spinning project. Needless to say, the yarn keeps breaking on me — I keep underspinning or overspinning and somehow failing to spin somewhere in between. This spinning project is testing my patience and tolerance! I don’t think I have more than 15 yards on the spool at this point, and I started about a week ago.

I’ve also been dyeing the past two weekends. Last weekend, I painted some yarn and rovings for by of my swap pals in the Dye-No-Mite swap and Secret Pal 10 swaps. I also handpainted and listed this in my shop:

Then, this past Sunday, I hosted my 5th Wine, Dye and Knit party. No one got drunk, but my klutzy talents did not fail me — I spilled half a bottle of red dye on my blonde bamboo floors and all over Robert’s (from my knitting group) shoe. Oops! Luckily, I didn’t spill on anyone else — I guess it was a good lesson on what not to do for the 3 dye virgins that came. I’m fortunate that only one tiny spot on the floor turned a little pink, but it’s barely noticeable. I’m actually pretty proud of myself because this is only my first major dye accident.

And last but not least, I finally remembered to photograph the purse I made for Aubrey’s bridal shower gift.

The inside has 2 pockets, 2 magnetic snaps and a key ring hook.

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