BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


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An Unexpected Interloper

It’s been a banner year for our postage stamp-sized garden out back, finally turning out greater yields than the miniscule seeds that went into the ground in the first place. Predictably, with greater growing success comes the need for greater vigilance, as plump tomatoes gleam brighter and redder by the day, proving irresistible to both human and animal passersby. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to let the immature fruits ripen on the vine, as deeper shades of blush tempt a premature harvest, keeping other creatures from that same impulse has become something of a full-time occupation. Flimsy netting can only go so far, especially with the creatures smart enough to burrow beneath that loosely applied barrier.

Such was the case when one particularly ambitious (or perhaps, merely hungry) rabbit made it past the fence unhindered. Seemingly stunned to have stumbled upon this treasure trove of produce, he couldn’t quite get his bearings, unsure if it was all real or just a beautiful dream. Standing slack-jawed on a big green hill to get a better view of this bounty, it never even occurred to him that it was in fact a baby watermelon right beneath his feet. Beggars can’t be choosers, but when faced with a near limitless selection of edibles, this particular herbivore singled out the one thing he wanted most, neglecting all the easier prey: Carrots.

Upon spotting the green, frilly tops shooting up from the tender earth, there were no suitable alternatives as far as the rabbit was concern. Leaping off the neglected melon that might as well have been made of stone, he made a beeline for his beloved, fervently scooping away the dirt and yanking those promising sprouts with all his might. Possessing impressive might despite his size, he made quick work of the task and soon took one rapturous bite full of…

Parsley root? Indignant, he spat out the mouthful of beige tuber, still in disbelief at what he was tasting. Seriously, who plants parsley root instead of carrots? To call this a disappointment wouldn’t even scratch the surface at what this industrious rabbit was feeling, especially after all of the obstacles he had to overcome, all for that subtly celery-like taste. It wasn’t sweet at all! Who on earth would eat, let alone plant such a bizarre, unlovable vegetable?

Suddenly realizing that the garden mistress must be a raving lunatic, he was gripped with fear, sensing the gravity of his hunger-crazed and thoughtless actions. He fled the scene without a second to lose, abandoning his unwanted plunder right where it lay.

Rabbit amigurumi pattern from ABC Crochet by Mitsuki Hoshi. And yes, I do happen to love parsley root; deal with it, you silly rabbits.


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Herbivore Dinosaurs

For a blog that began life as a showcase for all things crafty, there sure has been a dearth of new handmade projects or ideas gracing these pages. Not for any lack of ideas or desire, time and patience are simply at a premium these days, leaving little room to squeeze in just one more extra endeavor. It takes a whole lot of effort to get yarn on my needles and hooks these days- Happily, my good friend Glauce provided all the inspiration necessary. Expecting her first child, her request for a mobile made with five soft, stuffed, amigurumi dinosaurs was impossible to turn down.

Mind you, this was way back in the late summer of 2011. It only took me a whole year to complete the whole thing, proving yet again that perhaps I’m not cut out to accept crochet commissions. Ever accommodating and understanding, Glauce still graciously accepted the finished piece to share with her now nearly one year old son.

All photos courtesy of Glauce.

Maybe I’m just over-analyzing this, but I think he likes it?

As luck would have it, Glauce is also hosting a big cookbook giveaway to celebrate the relaunch of her lovely website, and a copy of Vegan a la Mode is included! Be sure to enter and browse through this inspiring resource while you’re over there.


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A Milestone

Five years ago today, there was a painfully shy teenage girl who decided to start a blog. Cooking tofu pups over a bare gas burner and tossing grilled “cheese” sandwiches into a sandwich press were the extent of her culinary repertoire, and the oven remained a strange and incomprehensible tool of incineration. She had few friends, no direction in life, and little optimism for the future. Crafts- crochet, knitting, sewing, beading; anything to keep the hands and mind occupied- Were a comfort, if primarily a means of distraction. Somehow, with the gentle encouragement of a few kind readers, that tiny, forgettable craft blog began to evolve. Cooking suddenly became another art to be mastered. She became bolder in the kitchen, developing a sincere passion for experimenting with ingredients, creating different dishes.

She discovered a love for photography. She developed a voice. She gained genuine friends. She became a part of a compassionate community.

This wee little blog, an virtual journal filled with rambling thoughts and crazy ideas, was never destined for greatness, but it has irrevocably shaped and guided my life’s journey. Moreover, you, my friends, are responsible for giving me courage to continue along that path. And for that, I am deeply grateful. Five years later and somehow, I’m still here, still learning, along side all of you; a modern miracle if I ever saw one.

I wish I could truly give back to this community that has given me so much, but I have at least one small token to commemorate this fifth blog birthday…

What has become perhaps my favorite crochet pattern ever, the Skull Holders from Debbie Stoller’s The Happy Hooker, has made at least a half dozen appearances on my hook. Given as gifts to friends and family near and far, even I have my own beat up pair tucked in a drawer just beneath the stove. Now I want you to have a set, too.

All you have to do is leave me a comment including your name and a valid email address, and tell me what would be the first thing you’d pull from the oven with these pot holders. Or, if you don’t bake, what other dish they would aide you in cooking. Or, if you can’t think of anything, just let me know that you’re still out there. I’m just happy to have all of you around, following along, and that’s all I can really ask for. You have until Valentine’s Day, February 14th, to enter, and the winner will be selected by a random number generator shortly thereafter.

The journey isn’t over by a long shot though. I’d like to believe that the best is yet to come… Stay tuned!


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What’s Baking, Cupcake?

First things first, the winner of a copy of The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life is…

Commenter #71, Heather! Congratulations, Heather; you’ll be hearing from me shortly so that you can collect your prize.

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Bakers can be the hardest people to find gifts for. Cookbooks may be taken as an insult, bake ware may end up as unnecessary clutter, and homemade edibles seem like they could never live up to their high standards. However, if you’re of a more crafty temperament, then it’s easy to sidestep this problem. Homemade gifts are easily the best sort, so instead of channeling that creativity into an over-sized, itchy sweater, try whipping up a set of potholders that are shaped like cupcakes!

Even if the recipient isn’t big on baking, perhaps these enticing kitchen accessories might inspire them to get in there and start making good use of their oven. It’s a win-win sort of gift; They get a lovely and useful tool, and you get the sweets that result from their use!

Recently published in Melisser Elliott’s The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life, I’ve been waiting to share this pattern for over a year now, and am thrilled to finally post it here as well. Now get crafting- The holidays are almost upon us and everyone will want a pair of these cute potholders!

Cupcake Potholders

Cake (Make 4):

With an F hook and brown or tan worsted weight cotton yarn, ch 25
Row 1: (WS) dc in second ch from hook, dc in next 4 chs, sc in remaining chs. Ch1, turn (24sc)
Row 2: (RS) sc in each st across. Ch1, turn
Row 3: Working in back loops only, dc in next 5 sts, sc in remaining sts.  Ch1, turn
Rows 4-27: repeat rows 2 and 3.
Tie off.

Frosting:

Row 1: With frosting color and RS facing, attach yarn with a sc to the widest edge – right corner. Evenly space 34 sc total along the top edge. Ch1, turn. (34)
Row 2: Sc twice into one st, sc until the last st, sc twice into one.  Ch1, turn. (36)
Row 3: Sc twice into one st, sc until the last st, sc twice into one.  Ch1, turn. (38)
Row 4: Sc twice into one st, sc until the last st, sc twice into one.  Ch1, turn. (40)
Rows 5 – 8: Sc across. Ch1, turn
Row 9: Sc2tog twice, sc until the last 4 sts, sc2tog twice. Ch1, turn. (36)
Row 10: Sc2tog, sc until last 2 sts, sc2tog. Ch1, turn. (34)
Rows 11 and 12: Sc2tog twice, sc until the last 4 sts, sc2tog twice. Ch1, turn. (26)
Rows 13 – 16: Sc2tog, sc until last 2 sts, sc2tog. Ch1, turn. (18)
Row 17 and 18: Sc2tog twice, sc until the last 4 sts, sc2tog twice. Ch1, turn. (10)
Row 19: Sl st 4 times, switch to red yarn, and begin the cherry

Row 20: Ch 12, sl st into the next open st in the frosting. Ch1, turn. (12)
Row 21: Hdc into each st. Sl st back into the frosting. Tie off, and bury the ends of the yarn.

Repeat with all four cake pieces.

To assemble, sew two sides together using a whip stitch around.  Repeat with the other two sides.

Printable Pattern


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Every Bird Gets Their Day…

My little birdies are lucky enough to get two!

As much as I’ve already been enjoying the 2010 Crochet a Day Calendar, I’ve got to say, it gained about a hundred extra awesome points this morning when I revealed the latest page, and remembered that my work has been included this year. Though it’s one of my oldest patterns, those simple feathered friends of mine continue to be one of the most popular patterns on the blog, and I’m so happy that they could get another moment in the spotlight. An extra little bonus of this whole deal is that now everyone gets a lovely little printable pattern card, to print and cherish, to have and to hold… Er, well, at least to enjoy and share around, at least! Just click the pictures above for a full view.


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Fawning Over Earth Day

Although I personally believe that every day should be Earth Day, marking it on the calendar does give us a particularly good excuse to duck out of work early and enjoy the outdoors. Especially on this beautiful sunny day today, it would be downright foolish to hunker down inside.

Spring is out in full force at last, showing off a rainbow of colors with its fresh blooms and sprouts. The tiny young fawns with white-speckled coats have emerged as well, one of my favorite sights to behold; a bit awkward and shaky on their legs still, but somehow incredibly elegant all the same. They may grow up to threaten the existence of my vegetable garden, but for now, I don’t mind sharing some of the little purple flowers sprinkled across the lawn. Munching away without a care in the world, this little one is clearly enjoying the nice weather and springtime bounty of greenery, too.

Happy Earth Day!

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