About Ballytrehy

Ballytrehy is where I go to create: hand-crafted crochet, from-scratch cooking, etc. Here I share my creations and my journey of creativity.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Now that Christmas has passed, I feel like I can breathe again!  It has been such a busy holiday season for me.

Crochet:  This month I have, of course, been focused on holiday crochet.  In particular, I enjoy making amigurumi animals during the holiday season.  What is amigurumi?  They are Japanese-style crocheted stuffed animals.  I have made several snowmen in this style in the past as well as a penguin.  This year I completed another snowman and my first reindeer.  Both turned out so cute!  And both have served as Christmas gifts this year.  One day I may keep one for myself.

Cooking:  Again, the theme this month has been holiday.  I have focused primarily on baking Christmas cookies.  Here I have a picture of what I consider my "signature" cookie, and I'm calling it a trailmix cookie because, well, that's really what it is, trailmix in a cookie - oats, nuts, dried fruits, and white chocolate.  Mmmmm.  They're very popular with my social circle, so I find I make multiple batches of them through the season.

And I am not the only one in my family who enjoys holiday baking.  While visiting my sister over the holiday, we made not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR bar style cookies and treats, all in one day!

(If you're wondering what happened to my writing, so am I!  Perhaps it will return with the new year.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December has arrived

It is hard to believe that it has been nearly a month since my last entry.  It has been a busy month!  With all the business of my life, I have managed to keep busy with my creative pursuits.

Crochet:  I managed to complete four challenges for Nerd Wars last month.  My two favorite are Riley's sweater and a Flower for Penny.  I think I will be making more and more thread flowers; I think they are marketable.  :)

The new challenges are up, and I have plans for three or four of the six challenges.  I have to keep myself focused on my goal of handcrafting all Christmas gifts this year.  I have yet to find something suitable for the men in my family, considering I don't see them wearing the hats I've made for them in the past.  I'm going to have to get more creative for them!

Cooking:  I love avocados and will find any excuse to eat them.  If I make anything even remotely Mexican-inspired, I eat at least part of an avocado with it.  When I make "Mexican scramble" for breakfast (bell pepper, onion, tomato and/or salsa fresca in scrambled eggs with cheddar or colby jack cheese), I eat it with sliced avocado on the side.  Tonight I ate my "Fajita skillet," basically the same as the breakfast scramble, but with a meat instead of the eggs, tonight with some beef.  Finally, when I make chili, I like to eat it with avocado.  It just adds such a nice creaminess in contrast to all the chunkiness of the beans and veggies.  I have even, on rare occasion, eaten a lone avocado for dinner.  I know my use of avocado is a bit unorthodox, but it sure is tasty!

Writing:  My efforts during National Novel Writing Month were, in a word, slim.  I actually made it to 11,000 words, but life just got crazy as the month progressed, and I found I simply couldn't invest the time.  However, the story lives on!  I intend to continue building the story, just not today.  :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I think my favorite month of the year is November.  I know this may sound strange, but I love the approach of the holiday season, the weather changing to be cooler, wearing comfy sweaters, eating butternut squash stews, and watching the leaves change.

Crochet:  A new month means new challenges in the Nerd Wars Tournament!  This month there are some very interesting challenges indeed.  I have begun work on a sweater for my niece, which would fit into two different challenges (one based on the periodic table and the other based on winter clothing), so I will have to see what else I make this month before I post it.  It is in a light-weight fluffy pink/purple yarn and will be super cute when finished!

In the meantime, here is a hat I finished for last month's challenges:

Cooking:  This weekend I make a "Harvest Stew"; pork, butternut squash, onions, garlic, and apples.  It sounds like a strange combination, but it is so yummy!  I also made a batch of pork and beans for my lunches and a couple batches of cookies - "granola bar" cookies and "gooey butter" cookies!  Mmmmm.  This is why I love November!

Writing:  My NaNoWriMo efforts have been ... paltry.  Here we are, one week into the National Novel Writing Month, and I have fewer than 3,000 words written on my novel.  For reference, to complete on time, one must write an average of 1666 words per day.  Yes, I've written the quota for just two days during the first week.  What can I say - it was a very busy week for me!  I am not sure yet if I have the wherewithal to really take on this challenge, but I like my story concept, so I will keep working on it here and there.

The main character is Chloe Brice, a secret agent that no one notices because she is crocheting during stake outs.  She is about to uncover an international terrorist organization that is funding their activities through the sales of counterfeit fine art.  She travels to Europe and Asia while trying to solve the case, and in the meantime works with an interesting artist named Vinny Clemente.

That's about as far as I've gotten (only 3000 words so far, remember?).  Stay tuned as events develop!  :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mid-way through October!  Where has the time gone?

Crochet:  Every year as I approach the holiday season, I enjoy making snowflake ornaments.  I find they make great gifts for family and friends, and they are quick and easy to whip up.

This year, I am making some miniature ornaments.  I have even written a haiku for them:
gentle snowflakes 
falling from a slate grey sky 
beautiful crystals

Cooking:  I have been keeping it simple - lots of roasted vegetables.  I love to eat roasted zucchini and garlic.  I have also recently tried my hand at spaghetti squash, which turned out quite nicely when combined with my roasted zucchini - eggplant combination.

Actually, to be honest, I've been feeling a little uninspired for cooking lately.  I hope to bring more inspiration to my kitchen soon.

Writing:  This week I am adding a new category of creativity.  This is partly due to my planning to participate in National Novel Writing Month.  Part of me thinks I must be insane for taking on a project so big, of writing a 50,000 word novel in one month.  The other part thinks, "What've I got to lose?"  I have long wanted to write a novel, and in fact got as far as writing the first chapter of one.  However, for this project I am starting fresh using two different ideas I've had floating around in my head for awhile.  I am still working out character sketches and plot outlines, and I may post more details here once things are worked out a little more clearly.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Crochet:  Nerd Wars Tournament 3 has begun!  It is very exciting to get the monthly challenges and start to think of creative ways of meeting those challenges.  Nerd Wars has 6 categories: scientific, intellectual, technical, nerd culture, team spirit, and giving geeks.  The challenges reflect these categories in such a way that they can be fulfilled by knit or crochet, spinning or weaving.  The fun part is finding creative ways to meet that challenge while trying new techniques or color combinations.  I am sometimes even inspired to design something myself instead of finding a pattern I like.

This month, we have been asked to craft items that reflect 1. prehistory, 2. haiku poetry, 3. use of colorwork, 4. yarn craft in a costume, 5. a birthday gift a character in your nerddom would appreciate, and 6. an item that would benefit a cancer patient/survivor.  I have some ideas for almost all of these challenges, and I have already completed a colorwork bookmark.

I will post more as I complete projects this month.

Cooking:  My cooking lately has been very simple.  One of my favorite things to prepare these days, though not cooked, is tomatoes with a little salt, dill, and garlic.  It is very tasty and goes well with just about anything else I throw together.  I also recently roasted broccoli, which I hadn't done before, and thought it turned out quite nice.  I seasoned it with a ginger-orange seasoning salt, which I find complements vegetables very well.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Moving into Fall

Crochet: I am once again on the eve of a Nerd Wars Tournament, beginning on Saturday. Tournament 2, which lasted through the summer, was a great experience. I found myself challenged in my crafting in ways I did not expect, and I was inspired to start designing my own projects. During the next few months, I expect to work through my (considerable) stash, create Christmas gifts, and support my team, One More Page, as we strive for Nerd Wars mastery! :) I will be drawing inspiration this time from the Chronicles of Narnia, partly because of Father Christmas making an appearance in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I am looking forward to the new challenges and new creations.

Cooking: Regarding my cooking, I have decided that now is the time to begin menu planning.

 Ok, that's as far as I've gotten, but the next grocery trip I make (in about a week), I will have a definite menu in mind. I am hoping that this will enable me to cut some of my food costs.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The beginning

Well, I must "begin at the beginning, and go on until I come to the end, then stop." And I must begin somewhere, so the present will have to do.

Crochet: I have recently discovered a group of creatives online with just similar interests that I feel at home, which doesn't often happen as quickly as this time. I have discovered the Nerd Wars group on Ravelry, and I am very excited to begin my first tournament on Wednesday. I hope to be challenged, to use up a portion of my stash, and to create things of usefulness and beauty over the next three months. I have been assigned to Team One More Page (theme: series fiction) and I intend to complete projects that reflect the Wheel of Time series.

I am also participating in a "Stash Quest" with another group on Ravelry, the Lord of the Rings group. Between the two, I hope to have lots of encouragement as I work through my accumulation of yarns.

Cooking: I am currently on an extremely low carbohydrate diet, which will continue for only two more weeks, so I am getting creative with my home-cooked lunches. Background: I try to avoid processed foods whenever possible, so I make my own "frozen dinners" from casseroles made with fresh, often organic, vegetables and meats. I have already created what I call "fajita casserole" to curb my craving for Mexican food while I am avoiding carbohydrates.

I hope to eventually acquire an herb garden, but at this time I am certain I would kill it before the end of summer, so I am waiting until I can learn to care for my plants as I do for my cats.