Slow Morning

March 8, 2011

This morning, the piano for John-John (a generous gift from my parents) is being delivered.  So — lucky me — I get a nice, unrushed start to the day.  That means I get to drink my coffee sitting down in my “knitting corner” instead of standing up in front of the bathroom sink.  I’ve taken a brief hiatus from the blanket to finish a top-down sweater I started a few weeks ago.  Spring’s coming … the birds in the yard (mostly cardinals and finches) are singing their breeding songs.  It’s nice to hear them again!

I also took the time to make the Best-Breakfast-that-Isn’t-a-Green-Smoothie.  Oatmeal is my new go-to morning meal, even when eating out.  At home, I add a spoonful of peanut butter and sliced bananas.  Reasonable people can disagree on this point, but I think PB and bananas together are heavenly.  My two most delicious discoveries of the year are avocados in smoothies (thanks, Lolly) and peanut butter in oatmeal (props to Ashley).

And, now, back to the sleeves on that sweater…


This Week’s Fascinations

March 6, 2011

It’s a trend that seems to be sweeping the corner of the Interwebs I frequent … the green smoothie.  I’ve become a little addicted to having my vegetables for breakfast.  My favorite combination is avocado, spinach or kale or both, and strawberry.  I use frozen fruit, so ice cubes aren’t really necessary.  Most recipes use juice as a base, but I think the fruit makes it sweet enough.  Today, though, I made one with carrot-ginger juice (fresh, since my sweetheart bought me a juicer!), mango, pineapple, avocado and spinach.  It was not such a lovely color, but it tasted good.

The other fascination of the week has been the Big-Ass Granny Blanket.  I picked it up again last weekend and it’s growing.  It’s about 35 inches square now.  I’d like to make it big enough to snuggle under and cover my feet on the couch.  Maybe twenty more rounds or so?  It seems to be not-exactly-square, but I’m hoping that I can block it out.  It’s made up of odd balls and scraps of worsted weight 100% wool of various brands: Cascade 220, Wool of the Andes, Patons Classic, and a little Eco-Wool and Dream in Color Classy.  If When I finish it, I will be so pleased with myself, as it will be the biggest thing I’ve ever completed!

Yesterday, I had a seriously serendipitous vintage clothing score.  I went to meet my friend Cassie in Chagrin Falls for breakfast and knitting.  Afterwards, I stopped into Stash Style, a cute housewares and jewelry store which also sells chocolates and a little yarn.  Unfortunately, they are going to be closing the store and instead having barn sales in various locations around Northeast Ohio.  As I was looking around, I noticed two small racks of (mostly vintage) clothing.  On it, I found not one, BUT TWO, coats that fit me!  One of them is 100% cashmere!  They have some spots and aren’t perfect, but I have a different standard for vintage clothes.  Together, they cost $59.  Sweet.  The cashmere one has a label from a sadly defunct local department store, which makes it especially awesome in my opinion.

The Higbee Company Cleveland, Ohio

Today, the aforementioned sweetheart and I are brewing beer!  I’ve never done made beer before, but he was a professional brewer for many years at Terminal Gravity Brewing in Enterprise, Oregon.  Right now, we are “mashing in,” which basically involves making a whole lot of hot barley cereal.  It smells so good!  In a few weeks, we’ll have our own beer.

Two Days in a Row? Crazy!

February 26, 2011

Shortly after this picture was taken, these veg became borscht.

Remember what I said about the cookies not being a big hit with the boys? Scratch that. Sam LOVED them. Thank goodness I put some in the freezer or they would all be gone.  Lunch was Roasted Beet and Potato Borscht (recipe courtesy of Everyday Food).

Long have I believed that I didn’t like beets.  Um, revising that opinion. This month, I’ve been trying to eat more colorful veggies, so I gave beets another try. Yum.  And perhaps my post yesterday was slightly misleading.  I haven’t gone completely vegan. For example, I stirred some sour cream into my soup and inhaled it like a Hoover.

I was all set this weekend to knit like the wind on a seamless, top-down raglan I started.  But instead, I worked yesterday on a giant granny blanket that’s been languishing as a WIP.  (The header photo is a close-up of it.) Unfortunately, I’ve also been reading knit blogs and browsing Ravelry and I want to start about 900 new things.  I especially am feeling the desire to knit a stripey shawl, something like this one or this one, both of which were featured on Knitted Bliss.

This house is a total disaster area, due to the Awesome Destructive Power of Small Boys. I want to sit and knit, but John’s got a piano recital and my parents are coming over afterwards and, sadly, the house doesn’t clean itself.  I think I’ll put this album on and get to work!


Snow Day!

February 25, 2011

A blizzard hit us this morning, so it’s an impromptu day off for me.  On the agenda: crafting and cooking and baking.  Also, much watching of Spongebob.

Might things have been different for Kurt if he had had a Heart-Shaped Muffin?

I’ve been kind of obsessed with cooking and cookbooks lately.  My diet has been changing — increasingly away from meat, and even dairy and eggs, and toward more veggies.  The elimination of whole categories of ingredients – milk, cheese, BACON – has been, perhaps paradoxically, inspiring rather than limiting.

Some of my favorite new cookbooks were written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero of Post Punk Kitchen.  Appetite for Reduction is great, but today I delved into Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar!  Because nothing says “Snow Day” like cookies!

It is both good and bad that vegan cookie dough is safe to eat raw.

I decided to make one of the recipes from the “Wholesome” chapter, Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies.  These were not a huge hit with the boys, but I heart them.  They turned out almost scone-like in texture, and contain oats, whole wheat flour, dried cranberries, and toasted pecans. Yum.

If only I had a cup of coffee, my existence as a cookie would be fulfilled.

The recipe calls for agave nectar, but I didn’t have any so I subbed in more brown rice syrup. As a result, they’re probably less sweet than they should be.  That’s OK with me.  To be honest, these are the kind of cookies that would make other moms whisper, “Poor John and Sam. Their mother is a hippie. She makes them eat lentils and VEGAN COOKIES.”  Most of the recipes in the book are decidedly not like that.  John has made me promise to make one of the recipes with chocolate chips later.  That’s what snow days are for.


This and that…

On a related topic, another of my favorite food writers and cookbook authors is Mark Bittman.  He has published two very interesting columns recently, one on the Department of Agriculture’s new nutrition guidelines and another on McDonald’s oatmeal.  At the heart of both pieces is the simple belief that we should be eating real food. If only the government weren’t afraid to speak this wisdom!

Yesterday, I listened to a couple of great NPR podcasts from All Songs Considered.  Their latest is a 90s retrospective, which is fun, but I really liked an older one entitled “Tunes that Got You Through Your Teens.”  The stories from listeners are great and really reminded me of how important music was to me as a teenager.  As Bob Boilen said, “What a good friend music can be.”  Lots of different stuff helped get me through my teens.  The first album I thought of, though, was Ocean Rain by Echo and the Bunnymen.  I listened to it incessantly.  To me, it was the very essence of brooding romanticism, something that I think is almost universally appealing to teenagers.  For your listening pleasure, my favorite cut…

Back to the Blog

February 19, 2011

It’s been  months, but I can’t bring myself to say goodbye to blogging.  If anything, I really want to get back to it.  There are a number of things that prevent me from doing so.  The first, of course, is time.  I have a job doing electronic document review, which means that I spend my day reading emails on a monitor.  So, naturally, coming home and getting online isn’t the most appealing idea in the world.  But I really miss the community and the writing.

Another (self-created) obstacle are the related ideas that (1) all blog posts need pretty pictures and (2) I am completely incapable of taking the pretty pictures.  I have what can charitably be described as a craptastic camera, no tripod, and highly limited skill.  I love the blogs with beautiful photography (some examples: Brooklyn Tweedjust marysePosie Gets Cozy, Hello Yarn, and Smitten Kitchen), and I want to create the type of blog I like to read!

But I’m going to try to overcome these obstacles, because I so enjoy blogging as a personal journalling exercise.  And I have so many things I’d like to write about.

Like knitting, of course!  I’ve been working on a number of things, and recently finished this Breckenridge Cowl with Malabrigo Rasta.  What a yummy yarn!  I also have two sweater-type projects on the needles (three, if you count a long-hibernating bottom-up seamless yoke sweater).  Just when I think I’ve embraced the fact that I am really a Small Project Knitter, I go and start a sweater.

Other topics to come: local food, Health Month, potholder mania, my love affair with leafy greens, other people’s UFOs, and more.


August 14, 2010

…lacy cottony socks…

…no-cook dinners…

…afternoons in the backyard…

Hope you’re enjoying these high days of summer!

Green Knitting

August 1, 2010

Serpentine Socks

Don’t you hate it when you’re finishing up a project, and you make a little mistake?  One where the fix is not terribly hard, and perhaps the fix isn’t totally necessary, but you know you’ll never be happy with the finished project unless you do it?  And isn’t it sometimes hard to do the fix, and cross that project off your list?  That’s the story of these socks.

A nice friend from the yarn store gifted me the Yarn Harlot’s page-a-day calendar, and one day the entry was a stretchy bind-off method.  I saved that page, and when I bound off the first of these toe-up socks, I used her method.  It was perfectly, beautifully stretchy.

Then, when I was ready to bind off the second sock, I didn’t have that little piece of paper with me.  I couldn’t remember how to do it, so I improvised.  Bad call.  Top of second sock  … not so stretchy.  In fact, nearly totally inelastic.

For some reason, I found it very difficult to rip back that bind off, find the little piece of paper, and re-do it all.  After weeks of having these socks stare at me balefully from the top of the WIP’s pile, I finally finished them.  And, hooray!  I have a wonderful new pair of socks just waiting for fall weather.

Pattern:  Serpentine Socks by Wendy D. Johnson

Yarn:  Cider Moon Glacier in Congo

Needles: 2.5mm Knit Picks Options fixed circulars

Modifications:  Completely unintentionally, I swapped out the columns of purl stitches between the lace panels for alternating knits and purls.   Somehow, I read “on even rounds, knit the knits and purl the purls” as “knit all stitches on even rounds.”  Only me.  Anyhow, I think they look nice — a case of a mistake being a design feature.

And I never want to forget that fantastically perfect bind off, so I’m going to post it here for posterity.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s Awesome Stretchy Bind Off: *Knit 2 tog, K1. Place sts back on left needle, rep from *.

That’s it!  It’s so simple, it’s a wonder that I couldn’t remember it.  I highly recommend you try it the next time you make toe-up socks, or need to bind off a crewneck.

This pattern came from Wendy Johnson’s book Socks from the Toe Up, which I just love.  Equally awesome is the follow-up, Toe-Up Socks for Everybody.  For a long time, I avoided the toe-up sock, because I didn’t know any other method of making the heel besides the short-row heel, which I don’t love.  But these books give basic instructions for gusset  heels (with and without a slip-stitch heel flap), so I’m back on the toe-up sock bandwagon!


In other knitty goodness, have you seen the Fall 2010 Twist Collective?  It is really lovely, especially the “Roxham Farm” and “WWMHW?” stories.  It was hard not to go absolutely crazy buying patterns, but I couldn’t resist the patterns by two of my favorite designers-knitbloggers-internet friends: the Community Garden beret by Melissa LaBarre and Hallett’s Ledge cardigan by Elinor Brown.  One thing that really stood out to me in all the patterns was that the cardigans are fully buttoned-up.  It seemed for a while that all the cardi patterns involved no closure at all, one big button, or at most two or three near the top a la February Lady Sweater.  But these cardigans incorporate traditional button bands with closures from top to bottom, and are worn all closed up.  They look great, and very fresh, I think.

I could so easily spend this day curled up in a chair, knitting away and listening to music.  But the yard and garden outside my window are looking pretty neglected, so relaxation will have to wait.  Here’s hoping you’re having an excellent Sunday and first day of August.