Stash: Busted?

As long ago promised, I finished the stash busting blanket of shame! I worked an extra day this week so it was a little crazier around here than usual. Because, ya know, my life is so dull. Anyway, here we are:




quite wild.

I’m so very glad that it’s done! It was fun, I’m not going to lie, but man, it’s over! However:

The Stash Continues…

I cannot believe how much yarn I have left. Two baskets and about a half dozen mostly full skeins left over. Ridiculous how much yarn I have! So, phase two.

I, BMary, shall not buy new yarn* until I have completely gotten rid of my stash.

*excepting (1) baby blanket and anyone who offers me money to make something

God help me, I’m going to get rid of this mountain! Next on my hooks are potholders. Lots and lots of potholders. I am going to make them until it is all gone! ALL! And give them ALL away. I’ll be busy…


the beginning of the end…

Wish me luck! And if you have any stash busting suggestions, let me know! 😀

Falling Face First Into Fall

Dear Illinois:

You’re terrible with the weather.

Love, BMary.

I believe it was, oh, two days ago, was 80 degrees and humid. And now, we are in the 50’s, if we’re lucky! Bonus if there is sunshine! Who the heck plans this stuff? I know it’s September, but seriously! Calm down, Illinois, you’re drunk. Go home, take a pill and lay down. Pluto is not a planet. How much did you drink?

Anyway, apparently it is FALL RIGHT THIS MINUTE YOU GUYS CEREALLY, RIGHT THIS MINUTE. So my husband and I hit an apple orchard and got some (duh) apples, cider, doughnuts, fudge and possibly diabetes. I can make that joke, right?

We had a great time, I completely forgot my phone at home so I have literally no pictures of this grand outing. Which, in hindsight, was all right. The place had just opened for the season, so just the store area was open. No corn maze or hay ride or petting zoo yet. Damn. Also, we’d need to borrow a kid if there was a petting zoo, because you bet your back end I’d go in there to pet the baby goats and whatnot. It’s the kind of thing you need a kid to get away with though, it’s weird to see some almost thirty year old squeeing over baby animals. That almost thirty year old being me. Don’t judge me. I like animals and I like to pet them.

I did get something productive done, however, I finished the Road Trip Scarf! I wrote about it’s beginning here and I got stalled by not calculating the right amount of yarn needed. Even after 3 skeins of 145 yard yarn, I still needed to borrow from my stash for the tassels and flowers. I went tassel crazy, not going to lie.

wpid-20140914_145401.jpgI PEED IN THE POOL!

I was sort of inspired by the shirt I procured the other day. Fringe is back, baby! I love fringe! So I went nuts with the tassels. Instead of weaving in any ends, I just added a few more strands of yarn and braided them together. Best idea ever. I got the buttons from my grandmother’s stash that I inherited.

I’ve also already started another version…and ran out of yarn…I am terrible at thingslike countingor making adult decisionsand portion controland rambling

wpid-20140914_191215.jpglove me some UGLY yarn! I was dying to think of a project for this yarn.

wpid-20140914_162833.jpgAngie helped.

Tomorrow is that husband and I’s “dating anniversary” which is silly to celebrate, since we’re married. But only freshly married. Like, we still haven’t managed to squeeze out a honeymoon yet. So we’re going to celebrate that for the last time. Probably dinner and drinks and fart jokes. You can’t go without fart jokes. Ben Franklin rolled with the fart jokes and he’s on the $100 bill.

Keeping it classy over here in Illinois,


99 Bars of Soap on the Bench, 99 Bars of Soap…

As promised, ages ago, I am going to write about soap making! Whoot!

I got into making soap at the suggestion of the dude I’ll be married to in 24 days, 8 hours and some odd minutes. I was kicking new “things to do” ideas around and soap was on the lower part of the list.

I am a consummate cheap-skate. I won’t fully invest into something unless I am 100% confident that I will like it and 100% confident that it is feasible to do it, store it, succeed at it. Soap making is not cheap, let me just warn you there. You have to make some major investments in ingredients, tools and time. So mostly I was trying to think of ways to do it on the cheap and reading every book ever written on soap, when BAM! one day the dude shows up with soap making stuff in tow and that was how it all started. He’s into straight razor shaving and wanted to make some fancy shaving soaps. So, I guess we were making soap!

Now here is a delightful tool for all you soap heads, SoapCalc! You make up your recipe and it helps you figure out ratios, what the soap will be like, et cetera. However, if you are a beginner, please stick with a tried and true. There are plenty of books with recipes out there. Ask me how I know (besides common sense) that you should maybe practice a few batches before you try your own creation. Ahem. Just sayin’. Wasn’t me.

So as you can tell from the above paragraph, our first soap adventure wasn’t perfect by any means, but it produced a decent soap, my complaints were that it was near impossible to un-mold and it tended to melt away quickly. So for the next batch we did an old tried and true from the book and it turned out beautifully. And we’ve made about 4 or 5 batches since then. We’re only two people, we give away some of the soap, but always seem to have a bunch cropping up and creeping around. If you ever come over to my house, you’ll leave with a loaf of bread, at least 3 bars of soap, probably a book we’ve loaned you that you HAVE to read and a full stomach. Sometimes a crochet something. Depends on what I have laying around in crochet world.

Business at hand, we decided to make soap as a favor at our wedding. My dear maid of honor (WHO ARRIVES FROM FLORIDA IN 19 DAYS, OMG!) has been whipping out crochet washcloths like she’s gettin’ paid to go with the soap. Well, if you know a little sumptin-sumptin ’bout soap, you know it has to cure for a bit. I, Captain Paranoid of the Great Ship Fartlandia, prefer to leave the soap to cure for a month, however two weeks should be satisfactory. I prefer not to burn our guests. Soap making is a bit dangerous.

Let’s talk about that for a second. Soap making can burn you. Ever seen that scene in Fight Club? Maybe a little dramatic, but let’s not play with lye. It can burn you. I’m going to leave you with just that because you should probably read more on the topic and not just listen to me. I have not been burned yet, but I treat the lye with the up most respect. Goggles, apron, gloves. Tie up your hair. No long sleeves. Pretend everything that the lye touches will burn you. Shoo away pets, children, anyone who might disturb it. Respect it, m’kay?

I did not get a ton of pictures because I was working on my wedding dress, but I did sneak a few. The next batch (they’ll be three total) I will be more hands on with.

wpid-20140601_143759.jpgscale, just for soap; container, just for lye; oils; fats; freezer paper; thermometers; stick blender, just for soap; et cetera.

All your soap making tools should be just for making soap. That’s it. Don’t mix food and soap making.

wpid-20140601_144915.jpglining the molds

wpid-20140601_164254.jpgticked off greyhound shunned to the other room.

The when the lye and water is mixed, it will get really, really, freaking hot. The oils/fats will have to be heated and they both need to be at the same temperature before you combine them. So basically you get the lye going, heat the oils, dance around (away from the chemicals!) until they cool and then you pour the lye into the oil slowly. We use a stick blender, but you can do it by hand. If you like mixing a lot. You need to get the soap to trace. With a stick blender, this takes like a minute and you’ll see the soap thicken and, well, the best word to describe it is indeed trace. I did not get a picture of that because I was cursing at my dress or something. I will make sure to get a photo next time. Then you pour the soap (remember, still has lye in it! still hot!) into the molds. After two days, you can unmold them and cut into bars. They will still need to cure.

wpid-20140604_080249.jpgingenious soap cutter, a board and a guitar string

wpid-20140604_080235.jpgour soap all cut out, what didn’t fit into the long mold, we used a silicon mold.

A third of the way there! Two more batches and we should have soap for everyone at the wedding! I’m putting my maid of honor and I to work on making clever little bags for the favors and I hope everyone will enjoy.

I’m sorry I don’t have more detailed, step by step instructions for you, but like I said, I was working on the dress. It’s so close to being done that I can smell it. All the pieces are cut out (I think) and I need to just sew the top and finish some nice details. It’s taking a very long time because I am so new to sewing. This was the first time I had a sewing machine in my possession and this was the first time I ever made anything from it. If I have learned one thing from hobbies it is that,

  1. I am an idiot

And that is why the dress is taking a very long time. I spend at least 30 minutes throwing my arms around, demanding that my brain slow down and not try to sledgehammer our way through it. Lots of breaks.

Anyway, really, it’s going great, it’s just that I have to force myself to go slow and take it easy.

I hope you enjoyed this quick bit about soap, if you’re thinking about it, it is a load of fun to do!


Homemade Laundry Soap

Finally, I got around to making laundry soap! I’ve been meaning to for ages. Literally, like a year or two. Last week my coworker sent me a recipe she used. It was the push I needed.

Not that I don’t trust the internet, but seriously, this person exists and killed her own mother with her quackery. I mean, it’s your body, you do what you want, but good God. This woman makes me ill. If you want to be sickened more, read some of the comments from desperately sick people that need a doctor and not coffee enemas. Anyway, that was my little rant.

I kind of tread lightly when it comes to internet tips. The lovely wscottling from Willow’s Corner sent me a link as well and said she also uses it (see the comments)

So, on to the point, how did it go?

Well, I using the recipe from my coworker which matches Jillee’s post on One Good Thing (curtsey of wscottling) and I checked out a few other sites and found basically the same recipe. So I think I’m pretty safe here.

Gathering the supplies was a bit of a chore. I had to get a bucket with a lid (sorry, not fancy enough for a gigantic glass jar) and things that are, well let’s face it, uncommon.


I had to go to three stores to collect everything, but I succeeded! I refuse to go to that “w” store, by the way. Ya’ll know what I am talking about. I’d rather an extra trip. I also choose to omit the scent Purex crystals, because I can add it later and I want to at least see what this smells like first. I am not a fan of overly scenting everything.

Of course, let me line it all up for you and take a photo. That’s what the cool kids do, anyway.

wpid-20140421_111647.jpglaundry #selfie

We Have:

  1. Five Gallon Bucket With Lid
  2. Grater (for soap only)
  3. 4# of Baking Soda
  4. 4# Borax
  5. 3# Super Washing Soda
  6. 1.3# OxyClean
  7. 3 Bars Ivory Soap

And that’s that. I grated the soap and timed how long it took. It was 3 minutes. It would take me way longer to pull out the food processor and clean it that it did to grate soap. So, cool it there guys, it’s not too bad. The whole thing was done in 10 minutes. And that includes me dancing around and taking pictures and generally being a nuisance.

wpid-20140421_112309.jpgseriously, 3 minutes. a minute per bar.

I puzzled out how to mix it and ended up adding a third at a time and then stirring it.

wpid-20140421_112827.jpgthe oxiclean came with a scoop, yay!

That’s what I ended up with. I could’ve used a smaller bucket, I suppose. Whatever. The whole kit and caboodle cost me around $25-30 to make, including the bucket, lid and grater.

Let’s find something STINKY!!!

wpid-20140218_083349.jpga greyhound! how perfect!

No, I am not going to put the greyhound into the washing machine. However, she does have what we fondly refer to as her “stinkfort.” It’s a blanket we shoved under the bed for her to sleep in.  Which she does constantly. I mean, I think she’s awake for like 3 hours a day. I went in with a haz-mat suit and chased her out of her stinkfort.

wpid-20140421_112859.jpgtrust me, it smells.

It’s in the wash with a scoop of the stuff, so we’re going to see how it turns out! They say it lasts a year, so we shall see what happens!

The Beer Yeast Poolish

If you recall, the wedding beer was quite lively and gaseous.

wpid-20140324_081203.jpgGURGLE GURGLE GURGLE *RASPBERRY*

Loud enough that it startled me several times. In the picture above, you can see a measuring cup with some blow off yeast in it. Well, waste not want not!

I decided to try and make bread out of it.

wpid-20140326_205624.jpgrather unpleasant looking, i’d say

I hunted around the internet for any advice and mostly saw “don’t” and “it makes dense bread”. Well, screw you, INTERNET, you can’t tell me what to do!

I decided to start off with a poolish. If the yeast was lively, it would grow.

wpid-20140326_205921.jpgagain, unpleasant looking

Sure enough, within a few hours we had:

wpid-20140327_101445.jpgIT’S ALIIIIIIVVVVVVVVEEEEE!!

Perplexed with what step to take next, I put the poolish in the fridge for two days while I thought about it.

wpid-20140327_135145.jpgPoolish Day Two: imma gonna eat ur refrigerator…

A dense loaf, like sourdough, was what what the INTERNETZ told me to expect. So I decided to do an italian bread with sugar and to use milk instead of water. Unfortunately, I had to go to work so my lovely fiance was charged with shaping, final proof and baking. I left him with sage tips, such as, “if it turns into a taquilla, call a priest.”

wpid-20140329_093606.jpgi swear, i am not a taquilla! what is wrong with you?

I came home to…


No, seriously, drumroll…

wpid-20140329_174849.jpgpretty sure that’s bread…

Not too bad for a first time shaping!  I’ve done worse! Seriously. Well done! Now what about the taste? If you recall, the wedding beer has raspberries in it and the yeast did have a slight raspberry smell. So we cut that bad boy open:

wpid-20140331_181809.jpgnot dense. ok, well i (bmary) am dense, but the bread isn’t

The flavor was slightly sweet and very good. It was not dense at all. I think the reason for this was that the yeast used was very fresh and the INTERNETZ was mostly discussing spent yeast, like from the bottom of the a beer after it brews. That I could see being considerably less lively. Regardless, this made very good bread! If you wanted to use spent yeast from a home brew, I would suggest feeding it much like a mother starter until it was fully awake and bubbly.

Screw saving a piece of wedding cake, we’ll save a beer thank you.



wpid-20140225_184728.jpga “real” book. does this idiot read her own blog titles?

I got the Dress Maker’s Technique Bible by Lorna Knight! And it is fabulous!

wpid-20140225_184740.jpgis this the king james version? or new international?

I basically got it for free with points from my credit cards, which can be used on! I am a credit-card-aholic, but not in the way some people are. I use my cards as cash (as in I pay the balance in full every month without exception) that way I get free points! I’ll even friend atm to get points! So after a while I get enough points to go on a little shopping spree. I’ve gotten, oh geeze, about $300 plus dollars worth of books this way. Hardcover. I can splurge. Anyway, back to the book!

wpid-20140225_184804.jpgADMIRE THE EASY TO FOLLOW CONTENTS!

wpid-20140225_184812.jpgTHE EXPLANATION OF DIAGRAMS!


I love it already! I’ve paged through it cover to cover and it is SO MUCH more helpful than certain other books that I have been quarreling with. I already have the Crochet Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden, which is also AMAZING. If you crochet, I totally, totally recommend it. If you do something else, see if they have a “bible” version. They are spiral bound and just beyond useful.

wpid-20140225_184859.jpgseriously, i love this book.

wpid-20140225_184923.jpghere’s just a taste, stitch diagrams, written pattern and a key on every page.

I can’t wait to put it to good use! I’ve already seen some fantastic tips that certain other books did not bother to mention and it literally explains every single possible thing. It goes over patterns, fabrics, tools, notions, probably explains how to build a nuclear reactor. I didn’t get to that page yet. Anyway, like I said, I totally recommend both of these books!

Tunic Tantrums

I made a tunic! Whoot!

wpid-20140223_203848.jpgthis is a representation of how annoyed I was by the end of it.

Ok, truth time. I really, really like it. It fits great, it’s adorable, but the pattern and the instructions gave me fits! I did learn a few things, which I am going to share with you guys of course.

wpid-20140223_163313.jpgit did not include a pattern. so i had to cut my own. freestyle!

This set of instructions did not include a pattern, but as it was basically squares and rectangles, I managed all right. I just drew a few lines in the appropriate areas and cut it out. Thankfully, the bust was measured out so I knew, for sure, I was a small. The only sewing tip I ever apparently picked up from my grandmother was MAKE IT TEN SIZES TOO BIG JUST IN CASE. I was able to argue myself out of upping it a size.

wpid-20140223_165425.jpgI need to rename the sewing machine. it’s name is Rachel. No offense to Rachel’s.

The instructions included diagrams, which I found largely unhelpful.

wpid-20140223_170357.jpgyou can tell my skill level by the completely not straight seam.

wpid-20140223_185757.jpg“mom? did the book poop on the rug? is that why you are so mad?”

But I did learn things! Yeah! For one, I learned why there was a paint can opener included in my grandmother’s sewing cabinet.

wpid-20140223_180922.jpgJune Dorothy was way too practical to have put this here for no reason…

wpid-20140223_180844.jpgohhhhhh, that, that just makes too much sense.

wpid-20140223_180907.jpgeasy as pie way to turn things inside right. I knew my instinct to take “anything near the sewing machine” was the best bet.

When I first got the machine, I found a walnut picker thing. I’m sorry, I don’t know exactly what they are called, but I know you use them to pick walnuts out of shells.

wpid-20140223_180939.jpgone of these. ya’ll know it wasn’t there to pick walnuts.

wpid-20140223_180956.jpgBOOM! goes right through the sticker on thread spools.

So that is just fantastic right there. Anyway, more on the Tunic Tantrum…

wpid-20140223_171823.jpgthe back. this is how i really felt.

wpid-20140223_181522.jpgwhy would grandma have a million small weights and a 6″ ruler…oh…oooohhhhhh…

Finally, I stopped taking pictures and got to work. All in all, it took about 5 hours of tantrums, but I finished it! And it looks cute as pie!

wpid-20140223_203848.jpgsorry, angry face. long night.

I would post some close ups on the details, but I really, really did not do that neat of a job. It looks really cute, but if you get up close you can see where I should have hid some stitches there, or sewn a little straighter here. I might go back and fiddle with it, but I AM NOT DETERRED!

wpid-20140224_175035.jpgummm, yeah, I bought two more fabrics for two more tops…

I did forget thread. D’oh!

Fun With Francine – Baguettes!

Francine and I had another play date! Whoo hoo!

wpid-20140210_073632.jpgit’s a yeast party

I decided to try again with baguettes, as I tried in this post, only correcting some of my mistakes. Less whole wheat flour, more room temperature time. Again, this is loosely based on Pain a l’Ancienne from Peter Reinhart. This time, even looserly based.

wpid-20140222_080348.jpg“looserly based” – phrase made up by BMary to describe adventures in making a mess and ignoring better judgement of others

As this was a real fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants adventure, I feel that it would be okay for me to post the recipe. It’s not even close to the original.

wpid-20140223_105858.jpgcertainly worked though. yeah, baby, you eat that bowl, ya bad yeasty beasties.

Obviously, you would need a mother starter for this. If you don’t have one, well, you should make one. It’s not difficult, promise!

Francine is a whole wheat mother starter. There are as many varieties as there are types of flour. But they are basically wild yeast that you collect from where ever you choose to leave the flour/water mixture at. Don’t me intimidated. It works pretty flawlessly. Just be patient.

wpid-20140223_110034.jpgon the counter! this is like the best lazy person’s bread ever.

wpid-20140223_110347.jpguse a bench knife to cut it into strips. no shaping required!

wpid-20140223_120105.jpgbaked up decent, probably could still tweak it a bit.

wpid-20140223_134454.jpgwhat’s on the inside is what’s important.

Ok, so here we go:

2 and 1/4 C Water

3 and 1/2 C Bread Flour (or AP, whatever)

2 C Whole Wheat Flour

2 tsp Salt

1/2 C Mother Starter (that has been left at room temperature overnight)

Put water in bowl. Put starter in water in said bowl. Mix flours in gradually in said bowl. Add salt somewhere in between. Mix until consistent. Set on counter until the bread dough attempts to eat the bowl. Might be a long time. If it’s too late to bake, just chuck it in the fridge. Let it warm up an hour before you bake. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Like really, preheat that baby. Pull out dough onto well floured workspace. Stretch dough (try not to degass it!) into a rectangle shape. Cut with bench knife into long strips. Put onto a greased pan and allow to rest while oven preheats. Put bread in oven. (NO WAY!) After two minutes, turn down the temperature to 450 degrees. Bake for another 7ish. Check to make sure bread is baking evenly and has not turned into a calculadora. Rotate if it is not baking evenly and bake another 7 minutes, or until bread is at 205 degrees and brown and delicious looking. If it turns into a calculadora, call the oven repair person or your local priest. Try to wait ten minutes before consuming all loaves. Don’t burn yourself.

This version is much less bitter than the last one, due to the reduction in whole wheat. I think my next attempt will be a boule which is fancy French speak for shaping dough into a ball. If I do attempt that, I am probably going to have to modify the proofing times. We’ll see what happens!

Cinnamon Rolls and French Bread

What a baking day I had yesterday! I was finally getting over this cold and I decided I should skip one more day of work. But, um, I should, um, bribe my coworkers. With cinnamon buns. Because who couldn’t be bought by home made cinnamon buns?

wpid-20140211_060405.jpgain’t nobody. i could buy you with the smell.

Also I had to make bread for R, as she is trading me an ironing board. So I decided to try a french bread with 100% mother starter (since named Francine) instead of commercial yeast. So here we go!

Sunday I did the pre-frement, again with 100% Francine (mother starter) and I decided to omit the salt that I usually use in that pre-ferment because I have read (and noted) that mamma starter with her wild yeasty beasties tends to be a slower grower than commercial yeast.

wpid-20140210_092126.jpgpieces of the pre-ferment, mixing with the final dough

wpid-20140210_092244.jpgwhen i make bread and things are looking this shaggy, i usually pull it out of the bowl and just start kneading.

wpid-20140210_093632.jpgfrench bread on it’s way!

Phew! Now the cinnamon rolls. I’ve never made these before, so God willing and the creek don’t rise, it will not turn into a grapadora or anything other than delicious.

wpid-20140210_113831.jpgthere is a lot of butter in there…

wpid-20140210_114656.jpgnot going to lie, i tasted the dough, just to make sure it didn’t taste like a grapadora

wpid-20140210_144135.jpgand now we rest.

wpid-20140210_114755.jpgyou can see why i made enormous towels for bread baking. i can’t be the only person crazy enough to make two kinds of bread at once?

My plan was to do all the proofing and shaping for the cinnamon buns and then leave them in the fridge to bake off this morning. So they’ll be hot when I get to work. My cold shall be forgiven!

wpid-20140210_152110.jpgshaped baguettes. i never bother to score them. that’s just me.

wpid-20140210_145100.jpgthis is what rolled out goodness looks like. plus, i am an idiot.

wpid-20140210_145940.jpgcutting them down

And we rest…

wpid-20140210_152155.jpgbread takes a lot of rest. I took a nap too.

At about 5 pm I started to bake the french loaves and put the cinnamon buns in the fridge, lightly covered.

wpid-20140210_175528.jpg wpid-20140210_175514.jpgthat just looks tasty…

This morning I hauled my bulk out of bed at 5am (ok, I am usually up at 5am, but I’ve been sick!) to make the buns, hon.

wpid-20140211_051941.jpgfrosting. which is literally milk and powdered sugar. if you buy frosting out of a can, you clearly have not lived.


They took quite a bit longer to bake, but that’s probably because I am an idiot and cut too many. So the pan was overstuffed. Alas and alack, I made it work.


Whew! With an hour to spare before I have to bring these babies in, I am going to make some coffee!

wpid-20140211_063742.jpgafter the frosting soaked in a bit. damn, I should’ve saved some for my coffee!

Crochet Seat Cushion (includes cute animals)

wpid-20140204_154849.jpgit’s perfect…TO PUT MY BUTT ON.

Finally finished my friend’s seat cushion! It doesn’t fit the model chair, but it should fit hers:

wpid-2014013195101139.jpgcontrary to what you may suppose, i am not a table. really.

I can’t wait to give it to her! I did the ripple stitch from page 83 in your Crochet Stitch Bible (not even pretending to be kidding).

“Thou shalt CH 2, thence 2 DC in thy first sc. They thou shall sk 2 DC”

So spake thy Crochet Bible.

Here are some close ups:

wpid-20140201_122900.jpgthat is a terrible snake.

wpid-20140201_124831.jpgthis is how you use a tape measure, guys!

wpid-20140202_102309.jpghelpful. real helpful.

wpid-20140202_102336.jpgthis is why i can’t get anything done.

wpid-20140202_103808.jpgi…don’t…have…words…she did this to herself!

wpid-20140204_152744.jpgafter I chased away the fart party of pets


wpid-20140204_154920.jpgyou can tie it!

wpid-20140204_154914.jpgor also tie it. this chair is a terrible model. it’s too fat. it’ll never do runway.

wpid-20140204_155104.jpgOF COURSE THERE IS A GREYHOUND.

wpid-20140204_155228.jpgHOW COULD THERE NOT BE A GREYHOUND???

enjoy some Elvis: