BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


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Safety First

Little is ever thrown out in this household, and as you might expect, most of us here have tendencies towards hoarding and collecting. For me, I can’t bear to let go of even the smallest scraps of yarn or fabric, because you never know what sort of projects they may prove to be useful in. Frogs figurines seem to strike my mom’s fancy, and have taken over an entire cabinet in the family room. These collections are more or less normal, if you ask me, but my sister’s attraction is much more inexplicable. For reasons unknown to me (and perhaps her as well,) she feels compelled to accumulate traffic cones.

Rescuing those that are forgotten, run over and caked with dirt on quiet streets, as well as picking up new pylons at dollar stores or Home Depo, that’s just what she enjoys stockpiling. It has nothing to do with their purpose or symbolism, so why she would be so drawn to these florescent orange cones, or why they must all be named “Toby,” I have no idea.

Seriously, who knew there were so many different types of safety cones? Big and small, striped and plain, reflective and dull, there must be more cones then there are days in a year. With a vast array like that, it’s hard to imagine where this collection might be stored if it should continue to grow!

At the very least, it’s easy to know what would make a good gift for this sister of mine… And my contribution won’t take up nearly as much space as a full-sized road block.

I have to admit- When something as mundane as a safety cone can be this adorable, I can almost see why someone would want to amass as many as possible!


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Cookie Monster

Dark, overcast, and rainy days always seem to propel me into the kitchen. Seeking refuge from the threatening clouds, there’s no place I’d rather be than in from of a hot oven or warm stove. These conditions demand comfort food to ward off the gloomy feelings, so it’s never fancy fare, but it tends to soothe more than just an empty stomach.

On a gloomy evening such as this, I had just taken a sheet of fresh chocolate chip cookies out of the oven and set them on a rack to cool. Their sweet scent filled the air, pushing out that damp, chilly feeling invading from outside, and brightened up the whole house. Still, there was some ominous feeling that I just couldn’t shake. Wind rattled the window panes, creating an eerie sound far too similar to footsteps for comfort. Every now and then a stray acorns would drop onto the roof with a *plunk!* as squirrels scurried about collecting them. Creaking floor boards seemed amplified amidst the cacophony, and boy, was it ever noisy for one quiet and nearly empty house!

Somewhat rattled, I instinctively sought out those warm cookies, hoping to sink into a cozy chair with one or two and forget the disquieting sounds. Reaching out to grab one, my hand grazed something entirely different…

Drawing in a sharp breath, a moment of sheer terror enveloped my mind, freezing me in place. This is one malevolent-looking creature that I did not want to mess with… But there it was, stealing homemade cookies right off of the rack! Creeping slowly around to get a better view and assess the situation, it was a matter of moments before this monster was looking me straight in the eyes.

Smiling ear to ear (or horn to horn, perhaps?), this was not the face that I expected to see! Perfectly content to eat a few cookies and leave in peace, there was no need to ruffle any feathers; he must have been simply trying to escape the ugly weather as well. Although I was thankful that this monster was only after sweets, I still wish he hadn’t broken in and stolen baked goods right out from under my nose.

So let that be a lesson to you; Keep a close eye on your treats, because there are some ravenous cookie monsters out at large…

Happy Halloween everyone!


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Friendly Reminders

Caught up in ten thousand and one different projects at once, it’s become incredibly easy to forget to wrap up the loose ends of one venture before starting on the next. Debris strewn about the kitchen from the last photo shoot and baking experiment, the last thing that this kitchen needs is more clutter… But naturally, I’m here to add to the mess. Although I tend to be a neat-freak by nature, my quickly waning attention span has led me to forget to straighten out the chaos at hand, and before I can get my bearings, it’s time to run off to work or start on the next issue before the daylight fades out. Worst of all are the foods that get left out, inviting in bugs or even worse, the dog to go to town.

Living with my thoughtful family, they’re quick to give “friendly reminders” to prevent spoilage or further disarray, and it seems like the biggest issue as of late is closing up those bags of chips, or other bags that are left yawning wide open.

No, the bags may not close themselves, but luckily I have some helpers in the kitchen that have offered to take care of that for me. Hanging on tight for as long as necessary, not a single vermin nor canine has dared to sneak a treat for themselves since they started lending a hand.

Snacks of all sorts and bags of every size are no match; As soon as they are abandoned on the field of battle, one of these swift little guys is on it like jam on toast.  They’ve even learned to work in teams for the bigger cargo.

Sometimes though, it does get to be overkill…

Especially when they’re trying to close bags that haven’t even been opened yet!


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Dam*ed Beaver!

Living in the suburbs, I like to think that you get the best of both worlds; the convenience of the city isn’t too far away, and yet you’re close enough to nature that you might get to cultivate a garden, or get close to the native wildlife. Depending on the circumstances though, it can easily feel like the opposite. Got loud neighbors? Rowdy kids who bash in your mailbox overnight? Well, welcome to the city my friend! Worse, however, is when nature doesn’t know when to stay in its place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a tree-hugging, plant-loving vegan, but I don’t take kindly to an invasion of ants or aggressive weeds consuming that carefully planted garden. That cozy little home of yours right on the fringe of modernity and tradition is far more precariously perched than one might care to believe, in fact. It’s pretty hard to ignore this when the elements try to evict you every time the rains come pouring down and turning the basement into a swimming pool.

Shockingly enough, it wasn’t a downpour that flooded the lower level the other day when I ventured down the winding staircase to retrieve an old book. Having experienced a string of crystal-clear, sunny days, puzzlement and alarm sent me charging back up those stairs to investigate. Nope, no burst pipes or overflowing bath tubs to be found, so what on earth was going on? Inspecting the perimeter of the house in a last desperate effort, the problem quickly became much clearer. Mysteriously, our shallow little puddle of a swamp had become swollen and was now seeping into every open pore in the siding. Following the trail of soggy earth back into the woods, it was there that the source became obvious. Towering over the diminutive creek sat a newly forged dam, solid as a rock and built of fallen trees and debris. Who could possibly be responsible for this monstrosity? Who would be so malicious, so uncaring, so…

Cute. Damn it. (Forgive the pun!)

Even Isis couldn’t believe it, sniffing around with trepidation.

Clearly, some serious discussion was in order. Reluctant to move his masterpiece, I could understand how much work he put into his dam, but something just had to give. Explaining the situation back at home, he eventually agreed to move further on down the river, but on one condition: That some other family would be kind enough to let him take up residence in their babbling brook or lazy stream. So I implore you, dear readers, to open your doors (or at least yard) to this sweet little critter and take him in. Just make sure he knows where the run-off from his blockades are going!

Head and Body:

Using an F hook and worsted weight yarn in dark brown, sc6 into a loop
Sc twice in each st (12 sts)
Sc1, sc twice into next st* around (18 sts)
Sc2, sc twice into next st* around (24 sts)
Sc3, sc twice into next st* around (30 sts)
Sc4, sc twice into next st* around (36 sts)
Sc even for 4 rounds
Sc4, sc2tog (30 sts)
Sc even for one round
Sc3, 2tog* around (24 sts)
Sc2, 2tog* around (18 sts)
Sc2, sc twice into next st* around (24 sts)
Sc3, sc twice into next st* around (30 sts)
Sc4, sc twice into next st* around (36 sts)
Sc5, sc twice into next st* around (42 sts)
Sc6, sc twice into next st* around (48 sts)
Sc even for 6 rounds
Sc6, sc2tog* around (42 sts)
Sc5, sc2tog* around (36 sts)
Break yarn

Bottom:

With light brown yarn, sc6 into a circle
Sc twice in each st (12 sts)
Sc1, sc twice into next st* around (18 sts)
Sc2, sc twice into next st* around (24 sts)
Sc3, sc twice into next st* around (30 sts)
Sc4, sc twice into next st* around (36 sts)
Break yarn, leaving long tail to sew with

Muzzle:

With light brown yarn, ch6, sc into 2nd ch from hook, sc into remaining sts (5 sts)
Turn, ch1, sc1, sc2 into the next st, sc1, sc2 into the next st, sc1 (7 sts)
Turn, ch1, sc2, sc2 into each of the next 3 sts, sc2 (10 sts)
Continue around and sc into back posts of first row of sts, and sc remaining even (15 sts)
Sc even for one round
Break yarn, leaving long tail to sew with

Ears: (Make 2)

Sc5 in a circle
Sc twice in each (10 sts)
Break yarn, fold in half, sew around edges.

Tail: (Make 2)

Ch 12
Sc 10, sc 3 times in last st, continue around, sc into the back of each st (23)
Turn, ch1. Sc 5, sc 2 into next, sc3, sc 2 into next, sc 3, sc2 into next, sc 3, sc2 into next, sc 5 (27)
Sl st 7, sc2 into one, sc1, sc2 into one, sc1, sc2 into one, sc 3, sc2 into one, sc1, sc 2 into one, sc 1, sc 2 into one, sl st 7 (33)
Sl st 7, sc 2 (sc 2 into one, sc 2) x5, sl st 7 (38)
Break yarn and tie off

Limbs: (Make 4)

Start with light brown yarn and sc 5 in a circle
Sc twice into each st (10 sts)
Switch to dark brown, sc into back loops
Sc even for one round
Break yarn and tie off

Assembly:

Embroider the muzzle with black worsted weight yarn. Cut small rectangles out of white felt for the teeth, and sew them on by hand with invisible (clear) thread. Lightly stuff, and sew the muzzle onto the head. Insert safety eyes and secure tightly. Stuff both the head and body with a gentle but firm touch, and sew the bottom to cover the open hole. Tie off and bury the knot.

Embroider one side of the tail as per the picture above, in a grid-like pattern with a mid-tone brown yarn, and sew the two pieces together. Sew the tail to the bottom of the body. Lightly stuff and attach limbs. Press the ears together and sew them on with a slight curve, so that they appear somewhat rounded. Enjoy your new friend, but keep an eye out for flooding!


23 Comments

A Little Help From My Friends

‘Overwhelming’ doesn’t even begin to describe the amount of thoughtful comments, emails, and other little notes I’ve received lately. Really, I can’t say thank you enough for just watching the video and not quietly vomiting on your keyboard, so I wish I had time to actually answer each and every little note. There are few times that it’s such a wonderful way to be overwhelmed, but this is perhaps the best source of ‘stress’! To help ease the pressure of replying to emails, I’ve called out the help of a friend to act as a secretary for a bit.

While she’s been a huge help thus far, I can’t help but be concerned about letters falling through the cracks. It’s tough to hit all the keys for her, so typos are unavoidable, and I can’t say she’s the most computer literate… This arrangement is still on a trial basis, to say the least.

In case you still haven’t heard back from me, I’ll try to sort through things asap… Although I kind of have a feeling that my secretary here is actually making a bigger mess than I started with. Sorry for the delay, it might be a while!


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Losing my Mind, and Socks

Waking up a half past ten, my eyes flicked open in panic upon learning the bad news from the digital clock near my head. Stumbling hurriedly out of bed and flinging some clothes on, I knew I would have to seriously rush if I was to make into work on time. Although it’s so close to the house that I could practically walk it, it seemed as though every minute was speeding past in a matter of seconds. With the clocks conspiring to make me late on my first day back on the job, my mind was still filled with sleep sand that I couldn’t quite see through the haze. I need to brush my teeth! Why hasn’t the coffee been made yet? Where were my socks??

Of course, I have more than one pair of socks… It just didn’t occur to me that there was a second option. Wearing only one knee-high, striped sock with my disheveled ensemble and rat’s nest of hair, I would have passed as the village idiot far better than someone on their way to work at a restaurant. Now bordering on panic, drawers of shirts and pants and even stationery were torn out of their dressers, ravaged and taken apart, and yet the match to my sock was no where to be found. Realizing how ridiculous this was as the coffee began to kick in, I hastily graped a mismatched sock to cover my bare foot, and gave up on the hunt.

Running out the door with my heart pounding, it’s surprising that I even found the car in the garage. One leg in the vehicle, it was then that something in the bushes caught my eye. Perhaps it was just a stroke of madness thanks to an overheating brain, but something about it beckoned to me. As I walked closer, I could hardly believe what I had found…

Indeed, my missing sock wasn’t just stuck inside some old sweater or languishing underneath the bed, but it had taken on a whole new life as a nest! Dumbfounded, I could only laugh at the insanity of it all.

And since this sweet blue bird seemed so comfortable in her self-made home, there was no way I would reclaim my missing garment… I went into work that day wearing two very different socks, and was even happy knowing that the mate was with this well-meaning thief, too.


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Island of Misfit Toys

…Or really, island of misfit pictures. Hopefully none of you have been there too often, as it’s a terribly sad place, where all the blurry, over-exposed, and badly framed photographs go to die. Having sworn up and down that none of my own captures would ever find their way into that forsaken place, my heart sank all the way down to my small intestine when I discovered just that nestled into my very own hard drive. Sequestered in a quiet corner of my computer, there they lay for well over a year, waiting hopefully for their turn to be featured on the blog. I’m saddened to say that now it’s just too late; They’re no longer up to my personal standards, and to foist such amateurish work upon you, my dear readers, would make me feel like a rip-off artist. Any story that accompanied such poor illustrations would be instantly cheapened, so bear with me through this post while I simply clean out the plushies in my closet.

Second photo ops are not an option, as all of these toys have moved on to other homes, but I’d like to take a moment just to remember them, and give a few of these photos their moment in the sun.

Sheldon

Pug and Chihuahua

Cat Keyboard Buddy

Simple Lion

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