Sunday, December 21, 2008

Taste test

Just because I haven't been blogging for a little bit doesn't mean I haven't been reading other blogs. I've always read other knitting blogs, and I've been reading other food blogs for a little while, but this was the first week that I actually decided to try some recipes from some of the blogs I read. Judging by how the recipes came out, I think I'll be doing this more in the future.

The first thing I tried are these Spicy-Sweet Glazed Pretzels and Nuts from the blog Everybody Likes Sandwiches. This came out sooo good! The glaze is amazing, at first when you eat it it's yummy sweet, and crunchy and buttery. And then that spice sneaks up on you on the back of your tongue and then you realize you must eat more! Besides being so tasty and delicious I'm thrilled to add this one to my repetoire of gift recipes. The pretzels make me the happiest. I'm a big pretzel eater. I eat them plain as an almost daily snack. In a gift recipe they're a nice change of pace from plain nuts or cookies all the time. Plus-not to sound like a penny pincher, but pretzels are super cheap. And when you give as many food gifts as I'm giving this year (translation-I bought 8 pounds of butter at Costco and STILL HAD TO GO BUY MORE) cheap tasty fillers are very appreciated!

The other recipe I tried and liked was the Crockpot Chicken Makhani from A Year of Crockpotting. Sorry I missed out on a photo op, this was made on a busy day, but there's a photo if you follow the link. I love this blog so much. Nothing holds Stephanie back, she makes everything in her crockpot, chocolate, beverages, side dishes, dips, you name it! Once in awhile she has Fondue Friday, which is just so fun. Because who doesn't like fondue? Anyway, I knew this was going to be good before it was even cooked. The spices smelled just like when we get takeout from our favorite Indian place down the street. And when it was done, it tasted just like it too! Complex and fragrant and creamy and wonderful. Delish! I don't think this will be the last recipe I try from this blog either.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December happens

So I know I haven’t blogged in a long, long time and I miss it. It’s sad, it’s just there is always so many thing I always want to do and never enough hours in the day, never, ever. November was a crazy month for me. First I went to Stitches East with these fabulous ladies.

Oh my god we had such a good time! The laughing and the food (and the drinks, oh yes, the drinks) and of course oh the yarn! Such good yarn. I promise to take a picture for you soon I promise it is very, very pretty.

And then almost immediately after Stitches I went on a cruise! The husband and I went on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas out of Puerto Rico to Aruba, Curacao, St. Martin and St. Thomas. It was wonderful. We relaxed a ton. We didn’t even do any crazy scuba or sightseeing excursions or anything like that. Most days we laid on the beach, and then laid by the pool. Ate a lot, napped a lot, caught up on some reading it was wonderful.

And then Thanksgiving hit and now somehow I’ve found myself drop dead in the middle of the Holiday season! And I’m up to my elbows in cookie flour and wrapping paper and decorating and loving every minute. And I’m still knitting Christmas gifts too! This a sock for my godmother. Hope to finish these soon!

You can see I'm knitting on my lunch break in my car here. I took this photo then because it's dark so early nowadays, there's never any natural light. It's been hard to get good photos and this has made it hard to blog. Also must make deadline! Must make deadline! I do not want this to be the first year I give a gift with the needles still in it, I don't! I fear that is a slippery slope I just don't want to go down. I also have to knit through lunch because of course the baking at home has cut into the knitting time in a big way. I would say this stresses me out but I don't know, there's just something about giving lots of plates and baskets of cookies that makes me really, really happy. Cookies make it hard to be stressed.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Back in a Mac

Wow the last time I posted was almost a month ago!!!  While I totally admit laziness had a lot to do with it, there was also a major computer malfunction that was partly to blame.  The motherboard went on our old Dell computer and since it was kind of held together by spit and tape at that point anyway we decided to put her down.  We've since gotten a new IMac much to the delight and joy of several of our Mac pusher friends.

In the meantime I managed to squeeze in a quick trip to Florida and visit the niece.

She is into everything right now so we spent lots of good time swimming, playing, dancing, coloring, reading books and all that good stuff.  And when I was exhausted and would collapse during naptime or at the end of the day I managed to spend some nice time with her new baby brother!

What a big boy already!  He was born September 25, is happy and healthy and wonderful.  And of course he loves his Mason Dixon Log Cabin Blanket!

Between traveling and computer acquisitions there has been knitting too.  And I now I give you-what is for me at least-this year's Fetching!

Pattern:  Cabled Footies from One Skein by Leigh Radford
Yarn:  Cascade 220 Superwash

I've made two pairs of these already and I have two pairs still to make.  I think they'll make great Christmas presents.  I had had this book forever and was never that interested in making anything out of it until I had seen some really cute ones on Ravelry.  My new theory is that the ones in the book are on this super-skinny model and for some reason they look huge and bulky. Almost like they're made out of bulky weight yarn.  But they're not, they're made with worsted and they knit up very adorably and super-cute!  Footies for all!

I also made my first pair of no-purl Monkey socks

In Socks that Rock colorway Highway 30, I adore these also.  The yarn is just scrumptious and makes me wonder why I don't wear these colors all the time on the rest of my body.  Ok, that's a little much I guess, but the sock pattern is awesome also.  The no purling means you're practically knitting stockinette with just a few pattern stitches thrown in every other row. Nifty!

And knit socks are going to be a good thing in this chilly economy and this chilly weather.  I'm set though, fall is my absolute favorite season ever.  Today I did a good fall thing and made a little compost bin for my Recession Garden.

I know it doesn't look like much but it warms the cockles of my little home gardener heart.  Plus, the Recession Garden deserves it.  Despite the fact that it's late October my cherry tomatoes are still coming in in droves and it looks like in another week or so I'll finally get to harvest that lettuce I've been tending to!  I am very excited!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Recession Cherry Tomatoes

The squash vine borers got the zucchini. The european corn borers are attacking the peppers. The cucumber beetles eventually got the the cucumber vines. But god bless the cherry tomato plants. They've been going all summer and they just keep on coming.

I also have a couple of dishcloths to show for my week.

Yarn: Lily Sugar and Creme
Pattern: Honeycomb from Dishcloth Boutique

An oldie but a goodie. This pattern is a lot like the Mason Dixon Ballband pattern as it just flies along. These look a little wonky and wrinkled but I'm sure after a few uses and trips through the washer and dryer they's tighten just a little and look perfect.

In TV news does anybody remember in 1998 Camryn Manheim won an Emmy for her work on The Practice. In a rare honest moment for an award ceremony when she finished her acceptance speech she shouted out "This one's for all the fat girls!"

Now I have never seen a single episode of the Practice in my life, but as one of those girls I just had to shed a little tear. Just to hear someone say the words 'fat girls' on an award ceremony let alone dedicate their award to them was just so shocking and heartwarming at the same time. I still totally well up just thinking about it... Anyway tonight the Emmys are on and Tina Fey is up to win for 30 Rock and America Ferrara is up to win for Ugly Betty. If I could I'd give Tina an Emmy just for her brilliant Sarah Palin sketch on SNL last week and America one for the HBO movie Real Women Have Curves from 2002. Well, they aren't nominated for those but I still love both 30 Rock and Ugly Betty. I'll be watching, rooting for either one of them to win. And who knows, maybe if they do the could send a shout out to all the smart girls? Or maybe just all the girls that wear glasses? Wouldn't that just be really, really cool? I certainly think so.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Yarn, Cheese and my Opinion of Knitted Fingers

So yesterday I had a very fun day. The knitting girls and I took a trip to Yarn-It in Deal, NJ. I had been feeling lately like I needed to buy some more yarn. I also am always feeling like I need to be buying more at local yarn stores. Both of these issues were well-remedied.

I got 2 balls of Katia Nepal for a cowl eventually, 2 balls of Cascade Superwash for Christmas sock/slipper gifts and 3 balls of Debbie Bliss Luxury Donegal Tweed to someday make Gretel by Ysolda Teague.

I really liked shopping at Yarn-It because there is a really nice variety in the yarn selections there. There were a few cool novelty yarns, lots of nice yarns to treat yourself with like Berrocco and Malabrigo but she also has the wooly basics that I love-Brown Sheep, Cascade. There was also this one wool I hadn't heard of but I liked a lot-Ella Rae. The other girls said it was itchy, my response was "That's why I love it." That and the fact that I thought the colors were very warm and saturated yet muted somehow. It was pretty. I was tempted to buy a big sweater's worth, but I abstained. Bari, the owner of Yarn-It also made our visit a very enjoyable. She was friendly and knowledgeable and helpful, and most importantly she didn't kick us out when we were giggling and swearing and carrying on the entire time as we have a tendency to do.

We ended up back at my house for a surprise dinner from my husband. It was a surprise in that he had been talking about making us dinner all week but would not tell us what it was. What was it? Macaroni and Cheese topped with Chili! It was the tastiest heart attack on a plate I've ever had! And you know I've had more than a few. It was really, really good. There was also an appetizer of Queso in case we had not have enough cheese. You really can never have too much cheese you know. And what a sweetheart for cooking! So we had cheezy treats and beer and knitting and watched the 4th season of The Office. Good, good times.

Also at Yarn-It yesterday I had picked up two balls of Plymouth Encore for some baby hats. I cast the first one on pretty much as soon as we left the store.

These are not for my sister's baby but for another friend who is due in a couple of months. It's a boy. Yes, I'm still on the blue and brown kick. So I finished the one before yesterday was over (yes!) and now I'm making the second one blue with a brown stripe.

I also finished my Knucks the other day. Sorry for the totally craptacular photo, I can't find my tripod anywhere.

I've been dying to make Knucks forever. I've been dying to use the yarn forever. Unfortunately, now that they're done I have to give the result a completely mediocre "meh..." They fit kind of weird, they're pretty tight. And doing the fingers first was kind of a pain. However, I know that from when I've tried to make gloves before that making the fingers last is no picnic either, which leads me to the conclusion that me and knit fingers just are not going to make this work. Put knitted fingers down on my list of stuff I should not knit next to bathing suits and skirts. No thanks. I'll still wear these cause they're purple and kind of cool, I just wouldn't knit them again. I feel like the 'ok' appearance and result does not outweigh the fiddliness factor of the fingers. It's fingerless for me from here on out I'm afraid.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Deep Purple

These two hooligans are completely convinced my new knitting project must be a bunch of little cat toys.

But they're not. They're the fingers for my Knucks!

They're a bit fiddly at the moment, but I'm pleased as peaches to finally be making these. I've had the yarn in my stash for-ev-er and yes, I'm still very addicted to fingerless gloves once the weather starts to get frosty. Next on deck are the Delicato mitts. In the same purple Rowan Felted Tweed you see here. My plan-kill the stash. I've had it with my stash. I love it, but I want to be knitting with it already. I figure, all the yarns currently in my stash are for small projects, dishcloths, socks, mitts. They're already portable, so there's no reason to have more than one project on the needles at a time right? So the plan, pick a yarn and knit with it until it's gone. The last yarn I did it with was some ancient Kroy socks that was just aging away in it's basket.

I grabbed it, churned out bunch of quick little baby socks for my sisters very soon to be born baby. (Yay!) And now it's gone. Aah... One yarn down, not too many more to go.

In addition to purple yarn there are also some purple peppers growing around here.

These are the Burpee Sweet Pepper Carnival Mix and aren't the pretty? I started them from seed in March, can you believe it. They are supposed to sprout peppers that are purple, orange, red and white. As far as I can tell the only plants that made it to the garden are a couple of purple ones, and then a bunch of regular green ones which turn red eventually.

That's ok, I was glad I at least got to see a few of the purple ones. The purple ones taste like regular green ones anyway. And I like the flavor of the red ones a lot better so I'm glad there aren't too many purples.

I also knit some dishcloths this week as part of the Kill the Stash endeavor.

I still have dishcloth cotton left, that I can't knit all in one swoop. I figure I'll eliminate these one by one by color. The towels are not the most exciting the to knit but I have to admit I love to use them. I make them with one and a half to 2 balls of cotton and they're big and tea towel sized. I keep them slung over my oven door where they are easy to get to and look very cute.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Beefmasters of the Universe-in which food probably figures way too prominiently

The tomato variety I'm growing in my garden is called 'Beefmaster.' This never fails to crack me up. However the name is appropriate. These girls are ample and full, the Nell Carter of the tomato world if you will.

They make me very, very happy. Even happier was that today for the first time I actually got to use produce I've grown myself to make one of our very favorite recipes-Gazpacho.

My husband used to forget the name and would shorten it to 'Gestapo' the first few times I made it. So now we often affectionately refer to it as Gestapo. I always use this recipe here. Back in the early days of the Food Network there used to be a show on at seven o'clock every night with a woman named Sara Moulton. Sara Moulton was the executive chef of Gourmet magazine and also did this hour long show every night where she would cook and actually take live phone calls over the air. I adored this show. Almost 10 years later a lot of the recipes I still make are from this show. My meatball recipe. My salsa recipe. Pasta e Fagioli soup. So many. Favorites I've made over and over. And this one that she made on that show is just as good as all the others. If you don't think you like vegetables make it and try it anyway. My husband hates vegetables yet somehow devours this stuff by the bowlful. It's the sweet tomatoes, crunchy cucumber and peppers, a little bite of red wine vinegar, a little salt and cayenne just manage to pull the whole thing together in perfection. And making it today with my own tomatoes for the first time ever. Well, I have to admit I remembered my old tv friend Sara and felt a little sentimental.

And don't worry, lest you think this is no longer a knitting blog I promise you I've been knitting my head off.

Trying to work my way through that big bag of Peaches and Creme cotton. I have this ballband pattern memorized now and I don't care. I still covet it and these cloths. These are for my niece (pink and brown) and future nephew (blue and brown of course). I am on a big "and brown" color kick if you couldn't tell. And yes, I'm totally aware they're more likely to be gifts for my sister to use on whoever is in the bathtub when that cloth is on the top of the pile. But still, I like the "and brown" thing.

And if just in case you still wanted to hear more about food (sorry) I cannot help but mention the brilliant episode I caught of Jamie at Home yesterday. Oh my gosh, I was practically fanning myself from overheating, it was such a great show. First of all I love this show because let's face it, this

plus a British accent = yum! Please sir may I have another? Plus, he spends a good deal of the show in his garden, I'm newly into gardening so this appeals to me. Third, yesterday he made this amazing salad with kaleidoscope carrots (beautiful!) and ground lamb. I love it when a dish includes something totally rich and decadent like lamb but it's still 'a salad.' Anyway, I loved it. I rewound it with the tivo and watched him make this recipe twice! But-do I know anyone I could serve this too who would probably like it? Not that I can think of. I adore my family and friends dearly but they always want gazpacho or meatballs or macaroni and cheese. Not that I don't love those things too, I do, I totally do. And I will never, ever tire of making them for the people I love. But sometimes I just want something different. Something I could probably only get by having it in someone else's or my own kitchen. Anyway, such is the lonely road of the foodie nerd! No matter, that won't stop me from making lamb salad for myself and eating it out of the serving dish in my jammies while dreaming of Jamie one night. Or I'll probably just force it on the husband anyway, he'll usually try anything at least once. We'll see, if I do try it I'll let you know how it comes out!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Limited seating

It's not that the cats want me to get off the computer...

They just want me off of the chair. It's their favorite spot in the house!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Socks and Blockers and Blocks

I started these socks in May, which means for some reason they took me longer than usual. But that doesn't make them any less special!

Pattern: Double Lace Ribbing from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch
Yarn: Socks that Rock, Raven Clan-Valkyrie colorway
Knit on Knitpicks size 1 nickel dpns

The yarn was gifted to me by Tracy for my birthday. I have knit with Socks that Rock before and loved it, but those were gift socks. These are my first Socks that Rock socks for me and I am psyched! Another thing to be psyched about, the socks are on sock blockers gifted to me also by Tracy. Her and her Dad did a bang up job on these handcrafted custom made blockers and they are perfect!

I also finished these darn baby blocks this week:

Pattern: Baby Blocks from Knitting for Baby
Yarn: The rest of the Knitpicks Comfy I had left over
Needles: Bamboo Size 3

I'm glad these are done. Yes they are cute, yes I think my future nephew will like them. But good golly miss molly it seemed like there was a lot of seaming (haha!) involved. I realized at one point that each block was 6 squares but 8 seams. And dealing with different colors and stitch patterns made that seaming pretty challenging. No run of the mill easy peasy mattress stitch here. Nonetheless, my sister is one of the best knitting gift recipients ever. And she also likes the idea of 'green' toys involving no lead, no plastic, etc. So I know these will probably get used and played with, which is the best thing. But will I be making these for anybody else anytime soon? Nope! I'll just go and buy some regular blocks from the store probably.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Win some, lose some

You know how a lot of people with gardens have a proliferation of zucchini right now? How they have so much they run out of people to give it to and they get so sick of it they end up making zucchini breads and cakes and cookies? Well, lets just say, that doesn't happen to everyone.

Sad, sad, sad. Looks like those 2 squash in the last post aren't going to be followed by similar ones anytime soon. Squash vine borers have made a mess of my summer squash plants. I tried extracting them (Ew! Ew ew ew!!!!!) and covering the stems with dirt but afraid it's just too late. There are just no fruits on these plants to be seen anywhere. I'll probably pull them out this weekend and maybe start again. If I plant the seeds soon and keep a closer eye out for these buggers I might get a little crop at the end of the season. For now I guess I'll just have to keep an eye on the pretty peppers and the pretty tomatoes that should be ready for harvesting any day now...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Garter and Greens

The Baby Blanket for my future nephew is done!

Pattern: How to Log Cabin from Mason Dixon Knitting
Yarn: Knitpicks Comfy, 10 balls, 2 balls each color, a little more of the Honeydew color for seaming and the border
Needles: Size 6 Bamboo Circulars
Result: Love it. Good yarn, great pattern, seems pretty baby-appropriate. I would knit this pattern again. Seriously. I like knitting a lot of garter stitch but the color changes give it enough visual interest to not get completely boring. I think if I had to knit a garter stitch square this size I would probably have gotten bored to tears. But the pattern makes it fun. I even survived the seaming and weaving of ends and i-cord border. Definitely a success!

Now all I want to do is dive into the new Peaches and Creme yarn that arrived the other week.

But I'm trying to do the right thing and use up the rest of the Comfy. I did originally purchase 20 balls, so yeah, I have quite a bit left over. For some reason I've decided to try to use it up by making these blocks.

The pattern is from this Knitting for Baby Book. For some reason it's a lot tougher than it looks. I mean knit a bunch of squares and sew them together right? Wrong! For some reason it's tough. I don't know if it's because I'm using a different yarn or there's give in the foam blocks or the seaming is... well there's just a lot of it. I think because the blocks are so small it almost feels like there's as much seaming as knitting. Yeah, exactly, ick. Anyway, I have 6 small blocks. I'm making those and that's it. I think that's enough for a baby to have a good time with.

In non knitting news the recession garden is finally producing a harvest!

I haven't had an overabundance of anything just yet but that's ok. I have lots of green tomatoes about to turn red and lots of tiny peppers and tiny cucumbers on the way. I'm just happy the plants still seem healthy and I'm still really enjoying it. There will be garden photos in the coming week I promise. And hopefully pictures of it's spoils too! Yum!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Recipe and Baby Pattern Suggestions Welcome!

Forgive the gratuitous kitten shot but they're really cute. The kittens have been growing like weeds.

The other thing grown like weeds? The weeds in the recession garden. I'm plugging away, I think I'm a week or so away from the first red tomato (Take that salmonella!) of the season. And if it doesn't happen at least I know I was able to grow basil and oregano like a rock star.

Although the basil and oregano are very eager for their friend tomato to make an appearance on our dinner plates. Anyone have good non-tomato based recipes for these other than pesto? I know it sounds odd but I'm really not a pesto person... Tonight I'm making some tilapia with a lemon/oregano type of seasoning, hopefully it comes out ok.

The other cool thing I grew this week, this beautiful morning glory.

Chris gave me these seed for my birthday and I love how they've taken off and wound themselves around the banister of our front steps. With really very little care to them, just water mainly. Unfortunately the blooms only seem to last only a day-they come out in the morning and are pretty wilty by the next. But there are lots of closed pods growing on here so hopefully we'll see more soon.

On the knitting front, I can't believe I'm actually typing this but the Mason Dixon Log Cabin baby blanket is almost done. I originally thought it was going to be 5 rows of 4 blocks, but from where I'm at now it's clear, 4 rows of 4 blocks is more than enough.

I'm attaching the blocks using single crochet which surprised me. I usually don't like to attach with single crochet because it can produce kind of a bulky ridge on the wrong side at the seams. But this yarn has just enough drape to still let it lay pretty flat, and I can only imagine it will lay flatter with blocking and time and use. So I think it's working. Once I have the squares all attached I'm just going to do an applied i-cord border and call it a day.

Which leaves me of course with the leftovers... Can you believe it looks like I will only be using half of the yarn I ordered for this project? We were talking about buying yarn at our little knitting group the other night and unlike the folks that felt like sometimes they have a tendency to under-buy I confessed that I think my problem is that when I do buy yarn I buy it like I'm preparing for the apocalypse. The thought of running out of yarn really scares me! So I have a slight tendency to over-buy. How much did I over-buy with this project? Well, using only half the yarn for this baby blanket means I probably could have knit 2 of them if I wanted. Or (it's a pretty big baby blanket) I really probably could have just used all of it to make a full sized adult throw. Seriously. I over bought that much.

So here's a question. I will probably have 8 balls of Comfy left. About 200 yarns of each color. Which is ok-because I do have babies to knit for and this is a great worsted baby yarn. So what are your favorite baby patterns right now? I don't know if I have enough for a sweater, maybe one of those baby kimonos from Mason Dixon? I think I might want to try those. And some hats and booties. Any suggestions? I hear those are little and they go fast. Works for me!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Take some time and grow the tomatoes

Check this out
!!! Looks like I'm not that only person around with a Recession Garden! Can you believe saying sales of seeds and plants are up 40%? 40%! Who says there's no recession? And if finances aren't enough reason to grow your own now it looks like it might be one of the best ways to avoid getting salmonella this summer. I figure at this rate by the time the FDA figures out what happened hopefully I'll be sliding slices of one of these in between some whole wheat bread and mayo. Yum!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Cute Time vs. Knitting Time

Sigh... As if having 2 new kittens around wasn't enough cuteness, I think the house reached cute overload this week when my sister and my niece came to visit.

That's my mom and my adorable niece and this was her first ice cream cone ever! I don't think it will be her last. So there's been ice cream, and eating watermelon, and running through the sprinkler, and having tea parties, and all that fun summer stuff that makes the world seem absolutely huge when you're two years old. It's been exhilarating and exhausting and I know I'll miss the heck out of her and my sister when it's time for them to go back home to Florida. She'll be getting a baby brother in the fall and she'll also be turning 3 and after that she'll never be an only child or 2 years old again. Which is ok, those are things we're all looking forward to. But for now these are times to be savored. So if there hasn't been much knitting this week, I think I'll let it slide.

But that does not mean I haven't been watching the glimpses of knitting I've caught here and there on the horizon. I got the Berrocco KnitBits email the other week with the Fall/Winter collection and just fell head over heels for the new patterns. My absolute favorite, Cosina.

Gorgeous! I don't even know if this would look acceptable on bigger/bustier girls like me but I still adore it. I love the yoke styling and the drapey shape of it. I'll have to stalk it on Ravelry and see how other people do with it.

The other knitting thing I'm into big time this week is the Knitmore Girls Podcast. Jasmin and Gigi are a mother daughter team and I think they're utterly adorable and entertaining and informative. I especially love Gigi's (the mom's) accent. Her accent and voice sound exactly like my husband's aunt Sylvia who is also a knitter. I could close my eyes and swear it was her! And she loves the color red which is a fave of mine too so I can really relate!