Sunday, 25 June 2017

Peppermint Patties

Oh these are so very good.    They are creamy and pepperminty and covered in chocolate goodness.  As a bonus, they are simple to make. They do have dairy in them, so too many will definitely disagree with me. But sometimes, something yummy is worth it.

This recipe made close to 50 little candies.  More or less chocolate might be needed.  I used 2 cups, but still have a dozen patties which need coating.


Easy Peppermint Patties

3/4 cup low fat sweetened condensed milk
4 cups icing sugar (powdered/confectioners - whatever you call it where you are)
1 1/2 tsp  pure peppermint extract

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (dark chocolate would be yummy too)
1 tsp shortening



Measure the condensed milk into the mixing bowl.  Add sugar 1 cup at a time, beating well.  Add the peppermint extract and mix in thoroughly.   I actually added the extract 1/2 tsp at a time, to make sure it wasn't too strong.    Once it is all blended together,  scrape the dough together and knead it a few times just to make sure it is smooth and comes together in a ball.

Line a pan with waxed paper or parchment.   Roll little balls about 1 in in diameter.   Flatten them with a fork.   Let the little peppermint rounds dry for a couple of hours, flipping once or twice to make sure they are dry on both sides. 

Melt the chocolate chips and the shortening together.  I put them in a glass bowl and used the microwave, but a metal bowl over a pot of water (bain marie or double boiler) works too.   Dip the patties in the chocolate mixture, covering both sides and letting the excess drip off.   Set on the waxed paper/parchment til the chocolate is set.

1-  I used my Kitchen Aid, but any hand mixer would work as well -  or someone with a strong mixing arm could do it with a spoon.  The dough gets pretty stiff though.

2-  It's been rainy and damp here.  Drying time took more than 2 hours, with several flips to ensure even drying

3- Some of the little patties seemed to soften and spread a bit in the warm chocolate mixture.   It just took a little extra care to get them dipped and onto the tray.

4-  2 forks made easy work of the chocolate dipping process.

5-  as the chocolate started cooling, it was making thicker coats.  I just scraped off  the excess, to try to keep a good peppermint to chocolate ratio.

6-  I used regular grocery store chocolate chips and they are really good.  I can imagine how much better they'd be using a really good brand of chocolate

Friday, 23 June 2017

Starting holiday projects

 The steam tractor was out giving wagon rides at Westfield on Father's Day.   What a cool piece of equipment but noisy!   Not the chugging as it drove around the site, but when it blew the whistle, it was really loud.   I was in a building close to the bandstand, which was cool because there was an old time band , which played fun music for the better part of the afternoon.   It threatened to rain, which probably stopped some people from visiting, but the rain held off until closing time, so the day was pretty awesome.
I've started my holiday projects.   This is a cuff for a pair of mittens.   I had to restart this after I'd made the second bobble, because the way I was reading the pattern directions, the 2 yarn overs made an extra stitch, which didn't get eliminated in the pattern.   I based the size on the hand circumference but now am wondering, as the wrist fits quite small.  It's taken more time than I expected to get this far, with still 1/4 of the pattern to go for the cuff.   Once I got all the cable details and the bobble down, it's gotten faster.

I've been weeding and mulching the garden.   I use cardboard and newspaper for mulch.   I've been told it's ugly and why do that, but it's very effective.  By the end of the season, it's starting to break down and it easily works into the garden in the springtime when we till.   I really like how it blocks the weeds so effectively and it's really inexpensive.    I tried using old straw one year, which really worked well, except a) it costs a lot more than the paper/cardboard which is usually free and b) there were so many seeds in it, that my mulch looked like a wheat field.  It kept the other weeds at bay, but I had to weed out the wheat!

The rug warp is wound on and ready to weave.   I'm spinning some of the weft for one rug, so decided to play around with some different colours.   This one is definitely being unwoven as it's really ugly.  I was looking for dark coloured sheets at thrift stores, but I didn't find any.   Old jeans would likely work as well but I'll need to take another trip to town for those.  Meanwhile I have a few yards of blue wool fabric which I might strip down for weft.  There  doesn't seem to be quite enough yardage for a skirt, so better to use it than leave it sitting there for the moths.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Painted warp and hand card catastrophe

 The past few days have been busy.  I've played in the garden.  I was so excited that the pumpkins had germinated that apparently when I was on the phone with my daughter, I yelled.   Since nothing grew in that area last summer, mainly weather issues, it was great to see the pumpkins growing this year.  I had to put a lot of sticks in the area to keep the chickens from sunbathing in the pumpkin patch.

I have finally started putting the multi coloured dyed rug warp on the loom.  I know it was a rescued warp -  a whole lot of threads removed from a guild project that wasn't working out as planned.   The threads were removed, a cross put in them and it was chained.  The cross wasn't actually a true cross.   The cross keeps the threads in order.  Without it, there are a lot of randomly bunched and messed up areas.   I did finally undo the chain and add choke ties.  What is messing me up right now is that not all of the threads were caught up in the cross, so there are loose threads periodically.   Those just get tangled up.  There was a large handful of really short bits that I found by accident and luckily didn't try to thread those, plus I caught them before I started winding on the warp.    I'm having to comb out parts of the rest as I wind it on to ease out the tangles.  It's not my favourite way to put on a warp, but it's a rescue warp, so I'm happy to get it used.  Plus, look at those awesome colours!   Pain in the patootie to dress the loom aside, the colours are fun to work with.

I did a lot of hours volunteering this week.   I went into a grade 4 classroom and answered a lot of questions about the Middle Ages.   The teacher sent me a list of questions.   I dug around and found Illuminations which illustrated the answers and did the research for the rest.  In all, the questions were really interesting and thought out.   The follow up questions from the kids in class, were also thoughtful and good.  The kids were amazingly well behaved and I enjoyed it very much.


In the grade 3 class, I did some fibre activities for the pioneer theme.  Sadly, my hand cards were damaged by the rougher kids.    I really like my handcards.  These ones have a gentle curve and the carding cloth works with a lot of different fibres.   I'm hoping they can be glued and clamped back together.  It isn't in the budget right now to replace them.  

Garden update:   The birds ate all my bean plant seedlings.... talk about unhappy!  Well the birds are happy.   I have little leafless stems sticking up from the ground, which doesn't make me happy.   They ate every single one of them!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Painted Rug Warp

This is the 11 1/2 yard white rug warp which I ended up with when last month when we were clearing out the guild room.   It was stark white and while it would have made perfectly fine rugs.  With the denim and solids I have on hand for the weft, they would have been plain, serviceable rugs.  My imagination started working, so I dug out the Procion MX dyes and mixed up a set of primary colours at 2%.  I used 2% strength, only because that was what I'd previously mixed up and the storage jars were already labelled that way.   It ended up being a better idea as I needed less dye volume, and was easier to work with.

I started taking a series of photos, but conditions weren't conducive to good pictures.  It was a grey, really cool day, threatening rain.   It was also very windy.   Every time I grabbed the camera, something tried to blow away.   Since I was working on the deck due to the size of this project, in the ended up just playing.  

I used Procion MX Fibre Reactive dyes, which give lovely colours and are relatively safe to use.   The one downside is there is a bit of rinsing since the dyes bond both with the water and the fibre.  The upside is you don't need any heat to set the dyes.  

I draped plastic wrap on the patio table to both protect the table and to use to wrap the warp chain in afterwards to keep it damp and protected.   It would have been smarter to use a sheet of plastic like a cheap table cloth, vapour barrier or an old shower curtain to protect the table.  The syringes were a gift from Carol who has Alpaca ( and a brand new cria which was born yesterday)  Yay!   They are perfect for measuring out dye for painting the warp.   I like that I can dilute the dyes as well, but filling half the syringe with water and then just adding the dye.  This makes it easier to adjust shades.  The plastic wrap wasn't enough to actually seal the dyes in the chain, so there was a bit of seepage and some of my oranges and bright yellows are more burgandy and brown.   I let the warp sit and cure for 48 hours because it never really got warm.  Cooler temperatures equal longer curing times for good colours.  The warp is still damp, so it won't be quite as bright as this when it's dry.

I wasn't really going for any particular colour range. I didn't measure rug lengths and change colours for each rug, or even plan anything ahead of time.   In my mind I saw rugs with bright splashes of colour to add interest.   I'm pretty sure I've accomplished that with this warp. Now I just hope  the finished product looks as exciting as the pictures in my imagination.

The sad thing is that I will most likely not be selling these rugs or any of my handcrafted items at the guild shows this fall.   My guild is spectacularly unsupportive of hand spinners, which is mainly due to the attitude of a small number of members.  I've been told that no items will be allowed which are made with hand spun yarn as all hand spun items are only suitable for church bazaar items (meant in a derogatory manner).   Most other guilds who have spinners, don't seem to have an issue with this but apparently ours does and I'm only allowed to put in skeins of hand spun yarn.   So rather than change what I do, I'll just change the venue where I sell items.   It makes me unhappy in a way, as I do a lot to support the guild, and the commission would help the guild bring in speakers and pay for a new site when we find one.  The upside is that I'll likely have less commission to pay and may be able to put a wider variety of items for sale, especially if I go the Etsy or FB page sales route.   I just need to figure out how to set those things up.