Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gone Tokyoin'

This past week or so has been a busy haze of finishing swap packages, starting swap packages, crawling for yarn, working, and then...preparing for my trip to Tokyo.

I know!  I've kind of sprung this onto you, blog readers, sorry.  I'm starting the day-long journey of flights tomorrow morning, and will return just in time to be a jet lagged zombie for Halloween.  That gives me nearly two weeks in a wondrous city of wonder.

It also gives me mere hours to finish packing.  It's amazing how the things you need start adding up, the more you pack, the more you need to pack.  I'm trying to stop myself at one knitting project, because I know you always think you'll knit more than you actually end up being able to.  I was unable, however, to bring fewer than three books.  I'm weak.

I plan to take many pictures and return with many stories to share of foods, fiber, and other fantasticness.  In the meantime, enjoy an extra few moments in your lives while I am unable to post regularly.  See you in November!

Cubicle kitchen: Peppermint Patty-cakes

I have a tendency to stockpile ice cream.  It's not my fault, Blue Bell just has so many good flavors that are only available in half gallons.  And given that I eat them one serving at a time, it takes a while, and sometimes I'm just ready to move onto another flavor before working through a full carton.

Which is why I love the fact that ice cream can be melted and baked into a cake mix to give you a moist and delicious cake with a variety of flavor combination possibilities.  I decided that chocolate and mint would be a refreshing one for this week.

Peppermint Patty-cakes
(adapted from Cookies and Cups)
Makes about 72 mini cupcakes


  • 1 box Devil's Food cake mix
  • 1 pint mint ice cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
Glaze (see directions for amounts):
  • powdered sugar
  • water
  • peppermint extract

  1. Make sure your ice cream is completely melted.  You can either leave it out on the counter for a while, or take a shortcut and zap it in the microwave until it's soup.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Beat together melted ice cream with cake mix, eggs, and extract.
  4. Fill mini-muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.  Bake for about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cakes cool on rack.
To make glaze:

  1. Fill a mug at least halfway with powdered sugar.
  2. Add a drop or two of peppermint extract.
  3. Add a little bit of water and stir, repeating until the glaze is the right consistency.  It should be thin enough to drizzle onto the cakes, but not too thin.  Be careful when adding the water, it should only take a very small amount, perhaps a teaspoon.
  4. Drizzle onto the cakes.  I like to do this while they are sitting on a wire rack with a cookie sheet beneath it to catch the drips.
  5. Repeat until you've glazed each cake.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Froyo files: Josie's Yogurt (Kyle)

You would think that after two days of fiber and froyo, I would have had my fill.  But no.  The very next day we needed to make a grocery stop, and it only made sense to try and fit in some frozen yogurt from somewhere we hadn't tried yet.  It's taken me a while to get around to blog about it, but here it goes.

Josie's Yogurt: 5401 Farm to Market 1626, Kyle, TX 78640

When I visited: Sunday, October 8th, around 1 pm

Cost per ounce: 42 cents

Number of flavors: 14

Sorbet options: 1

Nutritionals provided: Online

Experience: I really wanted to like this one more than I did.  Being right next door to an HEB, it would be so convenient as a snack stop either before or after grocery shopping.  There are a good number of options, and they had some sugar-free or Stevia flavors, always good for those of us counting calories.

The problem is, the flavors just didn't measure up, especially coming so soon after top performers like Chill Out (San Antonio) and The Yogurt Spot.  One particular flavor sweetened with Stevia, the Pecan Pie, just tasted weird.  That's the risk with fake diet ingredients, though.  The Strawberry was okay, but more on the creamy side than the fruity side.  Similarly, the Mango sorbet was good enough, but paled in comparison to the sorbets we had already eaten in the two days prior.  I quite liked the Dark Chocolate, though.  And I thought Green Tea was interesting

Overall, the flavors just weren't as strong as Mom and I like them to be.  So while we were still able to find things to swirl with some fruit, it was obvious our cups weren't nearly as full as they had been on the Crawl.

Worth a revisit? Maybe, but I think I would rather hop over to the other side of the street and go to Chill Out.

Monday, October 15, 2012

How I Crawled: day two

The second day of the Crawl got off to an inauspiciously late start when we hit major traffic on the way to Yarnorama.  We had managed to come up behind some kind of accident, and got to sit there, inching forward for about an hour while it was cleared.  But eventually we made it to the oasis of fiber and yarn on the deserted highway towards Houston.

And thus, day two (again, a slideshow of all pics is attached to my Examiner article):

  • Yarnorama: I found a braid of light green roving in a silk blend that I think is destined to be plied with a bright pink thread.  And there was some bulky Araucania on sale, so I had to.
  • Hill Country Weavers: This was not my fault.  When you find locally-dyed awesomeness like Alisha Goes Around in the sale section, you have to get it.  The dark forest green is gorgeous, and I think I was influenced by the cloudiness of the day in the amount of gray I bought.  The Alpaca Sox also came from the sale bin.  The roving I have no excuses for, I was just really in the mood for spinning stash.
  • Gauge: Not only was Dizzy Lettuce there with her lovelies, but a new dyeing artist, Green Finch, covered a table in the back room.  I ended up with a skein of bamboo in a shiny silver gray.  I think the stitch definition of the yarn demands some sort of cable, probably in mitts.
  • Happy Ewe: You have to love a store where the owner's favorite color is hot pink.  Well, I do anyway.  I ended up with another color changing sock yarn, this one from Mille Colori, but it took forever to decide what would come home with me, they had a lot of nice yarns.  Including some possum yarn, which sparked an interesting dilemma for a vegetarian on the Crawl, who apparently was concerned with how humanely the fiber was obtained.
Pit stops were made at the Tea Embassy, because I'm currently in a tea-themed swap and I wanted to get my spoilee a special local blend, and at The Yogurt Spot, because they have the most amazing Taro Tart flavor ever.

And there you have it, two days packed full of broken budget promises and soft, squishy yarn in a variety of colors.  Next month: a fiber festival!

Friday, October 12, 2012

How I Crawled: day one

I just posted a slideshow to Examiner with pics of everything I took home from the Crawl from each store, including the free gifts.  Click the link to see the pics, but I'm going to break it down here as well, at least the stuff I bought.

So, on day one:

  • Nan's Needleworks: I really love the hand-dyed Stotts Ranch yarns here, but I held myself back from starting off with anything too expensive, and instead got a skein of color-shifting fingering weight.  It's called Nordlys, reminds me of Knit Picks Chroma.
  • The Tinsmith's Wife: This place is so dangerous, they have such beautiful stuff from a lot of independent dyers.  I ended up with an absolutely gorgeous skein of Miss Babs, I couldn't resist the colors mixing with the shades of gray.
  • Yarnivore: Another fingering weight yarn to try, this time a Regia Hand Dye Effects in purple.
  • Lucky Ewe: Alert! Alert! Alert! This is where all plans of budgeting reasonableness completely disappeared in the face of fiber. Vice Yarn is done by a woman in Houston, and she was there with a trunk show.  I couldn't resist these skeins: a sparkly rainbow, black with bright color patches, and two color ways dyed especially for the Crawl.  And then I also got some pink and yellow fiber for spinning.  Because I was already going crazy.
  • Old Oaks Ranch: Brooks Farm had a trunk show here, so I got a skein of fingering weight that should make a really pretty shawl.
  • The Knitting Nest: At the end of a long and yarn day, I ended up getting buttons here, including a set that I think will go great with a cardigan I've had planned for years now.  Actually, it's not just been planned, I knit about an inch of it a while ago and just never got any further.  But now I have the buttons, so I have to finish, right?
And, of course, we stopped at Chill Out in San Antonio for frozen yogurt.  Dulce De Leche with Pumpkin and Pomegranate Raspberry?  It was like the most decadent layered fall dessert.  In fact, I think I'll blame the froyo high for the yarn explosion at Lucky Ewe.  Yes, that's it.  All the froyo's fault.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cubicle kitchen: Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars

Sometimes I don't have time to devote an entire Saturday to baking.  Sometimes I barely have an hour.  On those weeks, it's all about taking something simple, using some shortcuts, and putting my own spin on it.

With the epic Yarn Crawl keeping me busy, this week I decided to trick out a cookie mix.   In this case, Snickerdoodle, which seems to basically be a sugar cookie mix with an additional packet of cinnamon sugar.  All this required was the addition of a stick of butter and an egg.  I still had some pumpkin puree to use, and that seemed to be a complimentary flavor, though I'm not sure you get too much of it. To save even more time, I made them into squares rather than cookies.

These can of course also be made with 'real' dough brought together from scratch.  But whether it's a mix or completely homemade, my coworkers loved them!
Snickerdoodle Bars


  • 1 pouch Snickerdoodle cookie mix
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 bag Hershey's Cinnamon Chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Follow the directions on the pouch for making the dough, substituting the egg with the pumpkin. Mix in about a third of the cinnamon sugar packet into the dough, and stir in the chips.
  3. Spread the dough into a 9x13" pan lined with parchment paper.  (Another pan size will be fine.)
  4. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cinnamon sugar.  I still had about a third left, but you can add more.
  5. Bake until the edges are set and the middle doesn't jiggle.  That's the best gauge I can give, unless you just know when they are done.  This was 15-20 minutes for me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Life after the Crawl

What was that I said about not going crazy and buying 'all the yarnz'?

To be fair, I was doing quite well for most of the first day.  I made it out of Tinsmith's Wife in Comfort with just a single, beautiful skein of Miss Babs.  But I was broken by the trunk show of Vice Yarns at Lucky Ewe in Gruene.  And then the clearance section of Hill Country Weavers on day two just had too many deals to pass up.

I'll have all the fiberific details later this week, breaking down each store's gift and what I bought there.  Plus, I just found out that I won one of the store drawings, so maybe there will be even more to share!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cubicle kitchen: White Chocolate Pecan Pumpkin Bites

I wasn't sure what to call these at first.  The original recipe is for a snack cake, or I could have said they were muffins.  But these turned out more dense than either of these terms implied. Truffles seemed like to fancy a term.  And so, since these are made in mini-muffin cups, I went with the texture-neutral 'bites'.

And these are some tasty bites.  I made a few changes from the original, replacing some of the white sugar with brown, using non-fat Greek yogurt rather than sour cream, and changing the nuts and adding white chocolate.  Most of these were just for the heck of it and based on what I had on hand.  The white chocolate was salvaged from what had seized up in the making of the cake balls the week before.  Never throw out seized chocolate, it can be saved, either by chopping it into something as chips, or melting back down into something like brownies.  You can't make it pretty again, but you also can't keep it from being tasty.

Because of the alterations, and because they didn't look like the original recipe, I was worried about these.  But yet again I was reassured that in fact, chocolate, pumpkin, and pecans are tough to go wrong with.

White Chocolate Pecan Pumpkin Bites

(adapted from Vanilla Sugar)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 11 oz canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup chopped white chocolate (or chips)
  • Spices: add pumpkin pie spice to taste, plus any additional you like (I added a few extra dashes of ginger, as well as a little bit of instant coffee)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix in the sugar and spices.
  3. In another bowl, mix pumpkin, eggs, and oil.  Slowly add in the dry flour and sugar mixture, combining.  Fold in the white chocolate and pecans, reserving some pecans to sprinkle on top later.
  4. Drop spoonfuls of batter into mini-muffin cups.  Mine didn't rise much, if at all, so fill as much as you wish.  Top each muffin with remaining pecans.
  5. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean.  This took me about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Countdown to the Crawl: T-minus 1 day

There are mere hours, rather than days, to wait until the trek of ten yarn stores begins.  The Google routes have been calculated, the outfits have been matched, and the final temptation has been avoided.

On the first Thursday of every month, Hill Country Weavers has a sale.  And I usually write about it for Examiner.  If you think getting an e-mail about a yarn sale is hard to give into, try writing 200 words about how awesome that sale is.  It's a good thing I don't live closer to SoCo, otherwise I would have a real problem.

For the past month or so, I've consciously made the effort not to buy yarn, 'saving' myself and my budget for the Crawl.  Hopefully this will not result in a binge of purchasing, like someone who skips breakfast only to cave into something huge and horrible for them at lunch because they are so hungry, and end up with a stomach-ache.  I don't want a stash-ache.

And so, despite having valiantly not bought any yarn at 20% off today in the sale, I'm not going to gorge myself in the next two days.  But I will be doing some serious skein snacking.

(Man, the food metaphor has me hungry, time for dessert!)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Countdown to the Crawl: T-minus 2 days

You know you're thinking about the Crawl too much when you start dreaming about it.  I don't know whether it's a good or bad thing, but as with most dreams, it was certainly a weird thing.  Here are some highlights:
  • I was on the Crawl, but not at any store which actually exists, though I think it was supposed to be right next door to Yarnorama.  Like, you could see it through their back window.
  • There was a really random Easter egg hunt kind of thing, except there weren't any eggs.  Instead, a group of knitters was set loose on a back yard full of  Tootsie Rolls and other candies just sprinkled across the grass.  What this had to do with yarn, I don't know.  I guess my Tootsie love mixed in here.
  • I ran into my coworker, who is also a knitter in real life and is currently on vacation.  In my dream, she had just flown back in for the Crawl, but was slightly distraught because her sister had been arrested in Mexico.
  • Llamas.  There were llamas.  As well there should be.
What does it all mean?  No idea.  But I have two more nights to add to the subconscious saga.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Countdown to the Crawl: T-minus 3 days

I'm looking forward to visiting ten different yarn stores over the course of two days, but yesterday it was a former Crawl spot that was on my mind.

For the past few months The Yarn Barn in San Antonio has been in the process of closing up shop, with clearance sales and goodbye shopping trips.  But then I found out that the Yarn Barn has been saved!  Huzzah!  Someone bought it and will be ordering more stock soon, so it's staying open and keeping San Antonio just as fiber-ful as it ever was.  It would probably stretch our timeline, and probably raise questions of sanity, for us to visit during the Crawl, but I'm sure we'll be down there again sometime, and we'll be welcoming the store back from the brink.

What I have to focus on are the two stores I've never been to before: Happy Ewe and Lucky Ewe.  Happy Ewe is up in Jonestown, out of my normal yarn range, but Lucky Ewe is in New Braunfels, not too far from Old Oaks Ranch.  It only opened up a few months ago, and my excuse for not going earlier is that I found out it would be on the Crawl and figured we'd get introduced then.

So I survived a Tuesday full of mornings, just two more work days until yarns galore.  And the tune of the day for yarn stores is: make new friends, but keep the old, we're all friends wherever yarn is sold!

No slice left behind

October is apparently National Pizza Month.  I didn't know this yesterday, all I knew was that we had a lunch meeting at work and while I diligently ate some cheesy cauliflower, there were some slices of delicious, devilish pizza left as we were wrapping things up.  And so, along with collecting the remaining treats that I of course brought, I also snagged two slices to take home for later.

Saving things for later has turned out to be one of the best strategies for avoiding temptation.  If someone brings in donuts, I take one and put it into a Ziploc to bring home with me.  If I have the calories after dinner, I enjoy it for dessert.  Or maybe by the time I get to that point, the sugar and calories have lost their allure, and I don't eat it at all.  Yes, it's a little wasteful, but I would rather waste a few donuts than 'waist' a few donuts.  I had to go for the pun there, I'm sorry.

Something else I might do with that donut or other saved treat, is work it into something else.  Before now, I've given a cupcake the french toast treatment, and I suppose the savory version would have been some kind of pizza frittata.  But for a faster version, I made something more akin to an omelette.  It's all done on the stove top, and comes together in just a few minutes.

I hesitate to write this up as a recipe, because it doesn't look like much, and it's honestly super-simple.  But just for the sake of formality....

Leftover Pizza Omelette


  • 1 slice of leftover pizza
  • 1/2 cup of Egg Beaters, or 2 large eggs
  • Optional: extra cheese, onions, extra seasonings like oregano, etc.


  1. Spray a frying pan with non-stick spray and turn to medium heat.  If you're adding onion or other veggies, you can start them now.
  2. Give the slice of pizza a rough chop and add to the pan, just enough to warm the pieces up.
  3. Spread what's in the pan into an even layer, then pour in the egg.  If using real eggs, you'll want to have cracked them in a separate bowl and whisked.
  4. Lower the flame, cover the pan, and leave until the egg has set.
  5. Depending on how you like your omelette, you can fold or flip.  I flipped the whole thing as one and gave it a few more moments.  If you have cheese to add you could fold or just sprinkle on top.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Countdown to the Crawl: T-minus 4 days

I am so, so happy to bid adieu to September, which brought so much stress at work, and welcome October with open arms.  Arms I hope to soon fill with many skeins of yarn and braids of roving in the Crawl.  If you're in the area and haven't registered yet, there's still time, and I can vouch for its being a weekend of fun.

As I have done for two years now, I will be taking Friday off for the first of two days spent  driving around the Hill Country and stopping only for yarn and frozen yogurt.  So that means that for the four days of this work week, the Crawl will always be on my mind, waiting for a moment when technical documentation might loosen its grip on my mental capacities and allow for a little daydreaming.

We already have the route figured out, the same as last year with a few minor adjustments for the shops added and lost from the list.  Now it's just about how early we want to get up and how long we want to give ourselves in each store to make sure we get it all done within the opening hours of 8 am to 7 pm.  Have to balance the desire to get a head start on the fun with the equal desire to not have to set an alarm on any day that doesn't involve work.

And we have to make sure that we're going to be appropriately timed for breaks to get some frozen yogurt.  Because nothing goes with skeins of fiber goodness like swirls of froyo goodness.  Friday's trek has us dipping down to San Antonio, so we'll be making the almost instinctual pilgrimage to Chill Out.  Saturday we have several options as we loop around from Bastrop up north and then work our way down.  If nothing else, we can always swing by Berry Austin, since it's so conveniently located near Gauge.

I have a spreadsheet of each store along with some ideas of what I might get at each one, but no amount of planning will compare with looking and touching when I get there.  And so I plan what I can.  Of course, the froyo, like the fiber, will have to be sampled on the day to make the final decision.  Have to allow for a little spontaneity, after all.