Sunday, January 04, 2015

Knitting check in January 2015

Knitting has been conspicuously absent from my blog (and pretty much from my life) for almost or maybe more than 2 years. Life got in the way and it was as if that light just blinked out one day. I stopped knitting, stopped going to Ravelry, stopped buying yarn.

I started a sock in fall 2013 because I wanted to have some knitting on vacation. It took me a full year to finish that sock, only to find out as I sewed in the last tail of yarn that there was a hole in the gusset. I soon discovered that the whole skein of yarn (Wollmeise no less) was riddled with bad spots where the plies had frayed. Was it just a bad skein or had it sat in storage too long?

Even though the discovery of the defective yarn was a bummer, it got me thinking I should use the yarns I have in stash before they all meet a similar fate. And slowly, my knitting mojo has started to return.

I cast on a sweater (Tea with Jam and Bread by Heidi Kirrmaier) since I had a full sweater quantity of Caron Country Yarn. It's knit from the top down, all in one piece so there will be no seaming at the end (yeah!!)

I chose to knit it all in one color, partly because I prefer solids to stripes, partly because the yarn is discontinued and it would have been difficult to get a second color. I'm about half way down the first sleeve and should have the sweater finished in time to wear it yet this season.

I decided to pull out my remaining ball of Wollmeise to see if it too was fraying. Fortunately, it is unscathed (I'm guess the other was just a flukey bad skein).

I'm just a few rows in to the Java socks pattern. Yes I'm using a toothpick as a cable needle since I can't seem to find any small cable needles in my knitting tools (maybe I never had any that small??) I've ordered a set off Etsy but for now the toothpick works fine.

And I did find a project to get onto those new Karbonz I wrote about last week. It's Brooklyn Tweed's Noro Scarf recipe. Basically just a one by one rib alternating two colors every two rows.
Bonus points for using my own handspun yarn. Thank goodness for my Ravelry notes from when I spun the stuff or I'd have no idea what they are (note to self, LABEL THY HANDSPUN WHEN THOU SPINS IT!) It is knitting up gorgeous and soft. Will look fantastic with my new wool coat.

So, hooray, I'm knitting again. It feels fantastic. I didn't realize how much I missed it. How cathartic and grounding and meditative knitting can be. Part of me feels these last 2 years might not have been so hard if knitting hadn't been so absent. Maybe, maybe not. For now, I'm very much enjoying my rekindled love.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

KnitPro Karbonz interchangeable needles

So here's the Christmas present I bought for myself this year.

I caught a glimpse of these sexy, silver tipped black needles on a picture someone posted of a knitting project they were working on and became obsessed with finding them. She didn't list the needle brand so it took me several days of searching to puzzle it out. The needles are by KnitPro and called Karbonz. The needles are made of carbon fiber with nickle plated tips. And DAMN are they gorgeous.

I treated myself to the deluxe set which includes 9 needle sizes, 4 cables, end caps, keys, size markers and case. I am thrilled with the set. The case is compact and light. It looks like I'll be able to fit more tips if I decide to expand my set. I love that the sizes are not only stamped on the needles but engraved on the end that attaches to the cables. Some reviews had stated that the tips sometimes had uneven joins, however all of mine seems totally smooth.

I can not wait to get something on these needles. I've got two projects going right now (a sweater and a pair of socks). I'm still not back up to my old speed and hesitate to get too many projects going at once. But I'm thinking perhaps a scarf would be a good choice. I'll be sure to report back when I've had a chance to test them. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Moonalisa Halloween restock and Yule 2014

Back in October Moonalisa had a Halloween restock and Yule 2014 sale. We were at the cabin at the time, but thankfully had internet so I was able to snag some goodies. The turn around time was listed around 30 days with scheduled shipping to be around Dec 10. Due to some issues with her fulfillment company and the weather, things got pushed back some. Fortunately, my order arrived just before Christmas (about 4 days shy of two months after ordering!) As I said last time, however, it's so worth the wait.
 Here's the whole lot. The freebie gift is a mini solid massage bar. I thought it was a piece of candy! Thankfully I saw the description on the back of the pack before testing that theory!
 I ordered 3 Sugar Load Sugar Scrubs. They look like a creamy sugar scrub rather than the oily type. Gingernutter has a rich, warm scent. A bit buttery and nutty, not much ginger. Cassandra's Cauldron is chocolate covered orange. And Venetian Coffee Swirl is strong, dark coffee with a light, nutty background. All are totally delectable. I also picked up a Butter Rich Cream in Graveyard Gateau, a decedantly rich body butter that smells a bit similar to Cassandra's Cauldron, only with the chocolate being the predominant scent and the orange in the background.
 I picked up 4 perfume oils this time. Gingernutter and Venetian Coffee swirl to match the scrubs. Durga, which I had gotten in a hair mist last time, is a soft of citrusy/bakery scent. And No Witches on a Crackling Fire which is listed as a berry/smokey scent. Unfortunately, all I get is wood smoke. While this is a scent I do like, I don't care for it as much for a perfume. I'll probably end up using this in an oil burner as a room scent.
Just before Christmas, Moona posted a quick "mini-mini" sale with just a few ready to ship items that could go out before Christmas. I wasn't paying close enough attention to the time and missed out on the major goodies...mystery bags and lip balm sets. I did order just one of her Argan Oil Hair Rescue in Lavender Absolute. I would have rather had one of the sweet scents, but they sold out before I could get an order in. The lavender scent is strong and try, exactly like fresh picked lavender from my garden. I've tried the oil in my hair and it's a nice standard hair oil.

Overall I am once again thrilled with my purchases. She's got another sale coming up tonight (Dec 28, 2014, 9:30 pm eastern). This is the Valentines/MardiGras release, I believe. I'm pretty well stocked at the moment but will probably pop on just to see what's new.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Santa Jar

Just a quickie post to show you the cute Santa jar I created this morning. C wanted a gift for his hairdresser. He approached me with an empty pickle jar and asked if I could turn it into something that looked like Santa. A quick Bing search yielded tons of ideas. Having not crafted in ages I wasn't sure what kind of supplies I had around. But luckily I had everything I needed. I wrapped the jar in red felt and hot glued it on. Black fold over elastic provided the belt with a little glitter paint for the buckle. I found the perfect buttons in my button jars. Some fiber fill for the collar and more felt and a pompom for the hat. Totally adorable. Now I just need some candy to fill it!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Lake in Wood Campground

It is a well known fact that C and I are homebodies and rarely venture out. See Webster's entry for homebody and you'll see our picture (just kidding). But for the last 2 years we've been dreaming of a lakeside cabin getaway for vacation. We tried last year, a place in Mount Grenta's Chautauqua, but it was a bust. Not to be deterred, we kept looking and this year settled on Lake in Wood Campground in Narvon.
We rented a cabin right by the lake for a few days the end of October. Being the end of season, the place was nearly deserted. However, it was peak for fall foliage in Pennsylvania that week and the colors were gorgeous.


 
Our view was perfect and I spent most of the time just staring at the lake.
 
The cabin was clean and cozy and had all the amenities of home (heat, tv, internet, kitchen and bathroom). We are very much looking forward to going back again next year and would recommend them to anyone looking for a nice getaway.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Moona Lisa haul

I heard of Moona Lisa years ago when I was big into BPAL and other eccentric indie perfumers. There was talk of how great her scents were, how gorgeous her presentation, but mostly how damn hard it was to get a hold of. I looked at the site a few times but it was always closed so I gave up and forgot about it. But recently I ran across a few MoonaLisa hauls on YouTube and it piqued my interest again. Again, the site was sold out. So I asked around and found out the scoop. Moona only opens up a few times a year with limited edition releases. Pretty much the only way to know when this is going to happen is to follow on Facebook. So this is where I heard about the Halloween release. Halloween was live for about a week starting August 30. I didn't know how fast things would sell out so I made sure to get my order in on day 1. Not sure what is typical since I've only participated in one sale but it looks like you wouldn't necessarily have to be there during the first few hours. From then, its been a long wait. She is very up front about the turn around time. If you are in a hurry, don't even bother. It is my understanding typical TATs are around a month. Since Halloween is one of the bigger sales it runs longer. I received mine Oct 18, so about a month and a half. Was it worth the wait????
I picked up 2 soaps, 2 perfume oils and a leave in detangler hair spray. She also had body lotions, salt soaks, shower gel, body scrubs and wax tarts.
The two soaps I picked up are Late Harvet and Pumpkin Clafouti. The bars are IMMENSE! One is 8.5 ounces and the other over 9!! That's nearly double the size most handmade soapers offer. They are stunning. There is little information on her website so I was leery of ordering soaps...would they be cold process or melt and pour? These are definitely cold process. Very hard and well cured. The scents are outstanding. Very strongly scented. I can not wait to use them but they are too gorgeous to use!
Next up are the perfume oils. I know I've said I have pretty much moved on from perfume oils but the 'weens always suck me in. I chose Sleepy Hollow, (her description: Experience the legend with this solid perfume flying Ointment reminiscent of smoldering seasoned oakwood fires, warmed leather from fierce riding through the eastern woodside and the distinct aroma of roasted spiced pumpkin flesh and smoldering marshmallows). At the top I get raw pumpkin (no sweetness or spice) and as it dries more wood and smoke come through. Of course I had to get Smoldering Havana Charmer (a new Amber Tobacco Chocolate scent, I made a new version of the Duchess but much more complex , grown up and edgy.) This comes off exactly as she describes it...chocolate, amber and tobacco. Fantastic. Loved that it came wrapped in a tube to look like a mini cigar. Too cute.
And lastly I got her detangler spray in Durga (Gingery, buttery, spicy brown sugar and a hint of grounding earthy patchouli & Neroli. Smells like the MOST delicious Halloween cookies baking and a breath of Autumn Graveyard air. Hmmm, Sweet Haunted Home). The scent seems rather faint to me compared to the detanglers I have from Alchemic Muse which leave my hair scented for hours. But I've only smelled it from the bottle, not sprayed in my hair. So I'll have to report back after I've had a chance to give it a good try.

There was a little goodie bag included as well with a collectors card, a piece of candy and a soap sample. Again, the sample is quite generous and comes in a little sealed cup. This is going with on vacation next week!

So, was it worth the wait? Hell yeah. If you are into this kind of indie bath and body stuff, get on her Facebook and start saving your pennies!! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

eSalon product review


A little over a month ago I received a hair coloring kit from eSalon as part of a BzzAgent campaign (see my initial post here.) The campaign is ending this week so I wanted to get my thoughts posted. While I haven't had a chance to try the color kit yet, I have been using the "Tinted Love" color enhancing glaze and the "Shining Armor" oil treatment.

Tinted Love ($15) is unlike most color glazes I've tried in the past. The product is quite thin and looks like liquid gold. You use the product between shampoo and conditioner. The odd thing is that it lathers like a shampoo. It doesn't seem to be a cleansing product in that my hair does not feel stripped. It is also not conditioning, I still use my regular conditioner after. I just use a quarter size amount, work it into my wet hair and let it sit for 3 or 4 minutes before rinsing out. I've been using it twice a week. It does add a nice shine to my hair and maybe some golden highlights. I would not say that it has prolonged my color at all, though. So, color enhancing, yep, color extending, no.

Shining Armor ($18) is a lightweight leave in oil treatment. It has a faint citrus smell that fades quickly. It did a fine job smoothing my hair and keeping frizz at bay. I've used it on both wet and dry hair with equally good results. I've used it at least 4 or 5 times per week and it feels like the bottle is about 2/3 gone.

As I said, these products were sent to me free to try with the campaign....Would I buy these products with my own money? Probably not. They ARE fine products but I feel like there are equally good products out there for a fraction of the price. I'm still looking forward to trying the color when I get to the point I need it and will post my thoughts on it then.


Monday, September 22, 2014

September 2014 Goodebox

I received my bi-monthly edition of the Goodebox last week. September's box is curated by Sadie Lincoln, founder of Barre 3.
The main item in the box is a free 30 day membership to Barre3.com, an online fitness site. The workouts are based on ballet, yoga and pilates moves and range from 10 to 60 minutes. The site also includes recipes and weight loss programs. I'm planning to start my free month over my long weekend next week so it will stretch into vacation the end of October. I am excited to try the workouts as I love both yoga and pilates. A "field guide" with food tips, exercise schedules and tracking charts was included along with one of those tacky stretch bracelets. Since I'm already using Atkins.com to track my fitness/weightloss I doubt I'll use the booklet and the rubber band is going straight to the trash. (value $15)

Next up are 3 sample packets of Weleda Skin Food. I love that they included 3 since most foil packets don't contain much product. Skin Food is a rich moisturizer for dry skin. I do believe I've tried it a long time ago and liked it. I'm sure it will be perfect for the the inevitable dry skin of winter! (value ?, maybe $.50)

A tin of Jacobsen Salt Co. salt. I must admit, I'm pretty cool with plain old kosher salt. This flake salt comes in a cute tin but otherwise, tastes like salt to me. I'm sure I'll use it but wouldn't go out of my way to purchase it. (value $2.95)

A full size All Natural Face cream blush in Dusky Rose. I already know and love this brand. I have 2 of their cream blushes already but this is a new color for me. These blushes are easy to apply and give long lasting color. The brownish red color should be nice for fall. (value $5.75)

SquareHue nail polish in Canon Drive 08.14. SquareHue is a monthly subscription box that includes 3 limited edition colors. Cost is $14.99 plus shipping (total $19.99). The polish I received was a gorgeous purple color. Unfortunately it chipped on me in less than 3 days. I'll give it another try or two to make sure it wasn't just a bad week. (value $5 plus there's a coupon to receive a free surprise box with your first month's subscription, value $15).

SkinnySkinny Dry Shampoo in Jasmine. I love the idea of not washing my hair everyday. And in that respect I am fortunate to have dry hair that doesn't get oily. Ever. So dry shampoo is a complete no go for me. However, this is a quite generous sample and I'm sure for someone that likes dry shampoo it would have been a great item. (value $7)

And finally a Coconut Cleansing Bar from Homespun Northwest.This is a small sample of a plain white coconut soap. It has no smell and, quite honestly, feels like a block of melt & pour soap. I use all the soap samples I get and I'm sure this will be a fine soap. I just prefer some bells and whistles in the soaps I buy so I don't think I would purchase this. (value ?, $1)

The Goodebox runs $18. So long as I actually use the Barre3 workouts I'll get my money out of it this month.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Latte

If there's one thing that just screams "fall" it's Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Something about cool weather brings out the craving for this spicy creamy drink. I don't have a Starbucks nearby so I've never had the original, but I have had various versions from local coffee places and they are all quite good. But pricey. And loaded with sugar. Since going back to Atkins this year I'm really trying hard to limit my carbs so I decided to make my own PSLs and see if I couldn't do it low carb.

I found a copy cat recipe for Pumpkin Spice Latte syrup and tweaked it a bit. Here's my version:
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups Splenda
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbl canned pumpkin puree

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often. Cool. Remove all but one cinnamon stick. I do not strain my syrup (why waste that healthy fiber!?) but you could if you prefer a super smooth coffee. Transfer to a clean bottle and store in the refrigerator. Shake well before using. I use 3-4 tablespoons of syrup for my jumbo coffee mug (I like my coffee pretty sweet).

Next time I would use less cloves or maybe just leave them out and up it to 3 tablespoons of pumpkin. This syrup is delicious and makes a darn tasty PSL. The original recipes says it should last a month in the fridge, but at the rate I drink these I don't think I'll be pushing the shelf life! Using Splenda instead of sugar and adding real pumpkin greatly reduces the carbs and ups the fiber of this treat. Now I can enjoy one of my favorite fall drinks without the guilt!



1
  • 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar[4]
  • 4 cinnamon sticks[5]
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • - See more at: http://www.copycatrecipeguide.com/How_to_Make_Starbucks_Pumpkin_Spice_Syrup#sthash.F2LcFaG6.dpuf

    Sunday, September 14, 2014

    Vintage Created Soy Candles

    2nd post today but I really wanted to get this one up too.

    I recently discovered Vintage Created candles on Etsy. I picked up two of her woodwick soy candles for fall in Tobacco Caramel and Fireside.

    They come in beautiful, heavy glass jars that she says can be washed and reused when the candle is used up. I'm all about reusing my candle jars and these are beauties. The wicks provide a lovely glow and gentle scent throw. I was afraid the woodwick would be hard to put out but I found it easy to blow out. Tobacco Caramel smells reminiscent of Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille, yummy and cozy. Fireside is more of a woodsmoke scent than the sweet smokey scent of B&BW's Fireside, wonderful on a cold day. The only downside was the scent names weren't marked on my candles (perhaps an oversight, perhaps just the way it is). However, there are paper labels on the bottom of the jars where I was able to right on the name.

    Recently the owner, Elaine, posted a contest on Facebook to suggest layered candle scent combos of her fall scents. The contest didn't have much response and I won! As a prize I received a candle in my suggestion, Hayride over Mulled Cider.

    This is a traditional wick candle in a square mason jar. I love how the layers are a bit tilted so I should have a period when both scents combine. So excited to burn this one but I think I'm going to save it for October.

     If you are a candle lover I highly recommend checking out her Etsy shop. She offers several sizes and varieties of candles in a bunch of scents and her prices are quite good. Right now (through Monday 9-15-14) she is offering a sale of 10% off your pumpkin scented order using the coupon code PUMPKIN.