Archive for the ‘food and garden’ Category

finally

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

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just a quick drive-by to say—look, we finally have flowers opening in our garden! only a few and very reluctantly, but i’m hoping this warm, sunny weekend will prompt more of them to come to life.

that said, there is snow predicted for later this week; it’s going to go from 78 degrees today to 39 tomorrow afternoon. oh joy. and what was i thinking anyway, that spring would really come?

ok, here’s the low-down; i am home, but up against a really tight deadline. i’ve been working like mad on only one thing since i got back the other day. i’m hoping to be over the hump by tomorrow, but i’m also running one of my big races today, yay!

david and i are heading out in just a bit for the town where the event will be held; i’ll report back later when it’s done. and i promise i’ll show you some knitting, too, haha

wish me luck!

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what’s cooking?

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

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the view from my desk here in san diego can’t be beat—especially with snow flying back at home (poor david; i wish he was here with me). the first few days were a bit dreary, but since the wedding, the weather here has been perfect—refreshing 50s at night and in the 70s during the day. i SO needed this.

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w-day went off with no trouble at all; the day dawned perfectly beautiful and the event was lovely as can be with plenty of special people to celebrate kim and jeff’s happy day

if you enjoyed that small synopsis, you can see an even more extensive album on my flickr page

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an absolutely lovely day for my lovely friend; it just makes my heart swell to see her so happy!

that night the newlyweds went off to honeymoon and now they are enjoying a week in paris (so jealous!). i’m staying on here to look after the boys while they are away, which is pretty exciting considering the weather at home, which continues to be very cold and even snowy.

i can work very well right here while the boys go to school and work; they could probably even take care of themselves, but this way, they’ll get decent meals and have a reliable adult around just in case.

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we are cooking some old favorites and trying some new ones as well—the other night we made pasta with vodka sauce, which is always on the request list

but we also tried a new recipe for mahi-mahi with peppers and mango in a sweet and sour curry sauce that turned out delicious

and believe me, they gobbled up those green vegetables almost entirely—just a lunch portion left of each. we baked sweet potatoes with this dinner to round out the meal, which were also yummy.

today i did my long run while the boys were at church and when i got back i started a vegetable curry.

kade helped me finish it up when they got home.

for dessert, we’re making sticky rice with mangoes, using an intriguing method for steaming sticky rice that i found on the shesimmers website (my go-to site to read about thai cooking and recipes).

(with the publication of her first book, simple thai food, leela has a week of giveaways going—you should check them out)

on the recommendation of the proprietor of our local asian market, i’ve been using black sticky rice to make this dish, because it is both flavorful and quite beautiful. my sister-in-law nan was converted as well when we made it this way over christmas. the rich purple color of the rice is a gorgeous complement to the bright orange mangoes. like any whole-grain (brown) rice, it takes quite a bit longer to cook but it’s well worth the wait

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i couldn’t get the mangoes we like best, which come from thailand or the phillipines, so we had to settle for the mexican ones. mangoes are just about to come into season though, so hopefully we’ll see the asian type in the markets soon.

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with all this talk about cooking and wedding celebrating, you probably think i haven’t been knitting but i have. of course, mostly on secret projects, which i’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear, haha

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on the plane out here, i got the whole back of a sweater knit—i’m so excited; just two sleeves left to go and with some diligence (meaning, no email or ravelry chatter) i think i can knock those out this week and maybe do the blocking and seaming as well.

i’m working with our stone soup fingering yarn in the slate shade—this will be a lovely, lightweight garment, just perfect for spring. i can’t give you any more details than that right now but stay tuned, because it will be revealed soon.

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i’ve also worked on the fingering weight op art cowl in spirit trail sunna, colorway va-va-voom! it’s coming along, but i am trying to be fair and split my time between all three rejects i have here; they are all important right now.

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i’m also running as much as i can while i’m here—gotta take advantage of this glorious weather. i WANT to be out there for a long run every day but i’m trying to be sensible—my first half marathon is two weeks form today and from here on out, it will be important to scale back a little, eat right, and get plenty of rest.

so today was my last long training run until race day; i’m just so glad i got to come out here for the pre-race period. i’ve been a lot less stiff running in the warmer climate.

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i purchased some new shoes just before i left home which are breaking in nicely.

people often ask me how i come up with ideas for my designs and while it’s not always a straight line between inspiration and finished design, i can sometimes see afterward a clear relationship—like my hills in jamul hat design, which was included in the february BNK club package

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the colors, textures, and winding roads that i run on here are approximated in the shapes and textures of the hat.

today i ran a little bit longer than the half marathon distance—my turn back was about a half mile past this mile marker sign; when i got the other direction, the miles count down and after the zero point there is still one mile to go.

i’m tired, but it’s a happy tired; i am ready.

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ok, i’ll be back in a few days, hopefully with the fringe tree shawl pattern to release; i know some of you are waiting on that. i need to get photos from sarah so i can do the post.

have a good monday; happy knitting.

i throw up my hands

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

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despite the fact that i have yet to see even one crocus pop up in our yard, i was out out for a walk last wednesday when i came across a patch of well-devloped tulip sprouts. there’s this property with a white fence out front, where the spring bulbs always show up so early and in such numbers that i’m starting to think they use a magic potion on their beds. or it’s some  fluke of the sun hitting in just the right spot or something.

meanwhile, at our end of the street, we get treated to this for the first day of spring

honestly, i am throwing up my hands in despair of spring ever arriving this year.

the latest snowstorm started almost before i could get back to my desk after seeing susan and barb off to the fiber expo in ann arbor, michigan. BTW, they are having a great time with their first retail show experience—don’t forget to stop by the booth to say hello as you move through the show.

fortunately, the snow stopped after a few hours and just an inch or two of accumulation and later that afternoon, the temperatures and “soared” all the way into the 30s in time for my afternoon run. very windy though—and there remains in it an icy breath that is no friend to my leg muscles . . .

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despite the icy coat of that morning, my tulip friends are making gains hand over fist. i’ll see more of them on my long run today . . . but i’m waiting for it to warm up just a little more while i write my blog.

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the night before they left, we traveled to a new-ish, nearby yarn shop named heidi and lana that is one of the first stores to carry our stone soup yarn line (also look for it at trillium yarns in morrisville, NJ!). this adorable shop specializes in american made yarns, so it’s  perfect fit for our first wholesale collection (stone soup will be showing up in here and there in local yarn shops as our production capacity grows; we’re excited about this new development).

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we think that working with shops, along with participating in some wool shows, will create valuable opportunities for knitters to see, touch, and feel the quality and softness of our yarns in person. we are pleased as punch that a store so local to us was eager to participate in our new wholesale program.

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the event drew a very nice turnout of visitors to see the trunk show and purchase yarn—susan, sarah, and i enjoyed chatting with steady stream of completely lovely knitters about the samples and patterns, helping them choose yarns to crate their own projects.

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we also got to knit in the cozy seating area that margaret has created to snuggle into with yarn and needles. i worked on my secret project that is growing by the day and should be done for the upcoming deadline. as it happens, this piece is knit with stone soup fingering yarn, so it gave me an example to talk about. i can’t wait to share the results with everyone here in a few weeks . . .

we could hardly believe it when 7 pm came and it was time to go; thank you margaret for such a nice evening. we’ll have to do that again some time!

as i said, the weather has been very brisk these last few days—colder than you’d expect with wind chills still in the single digits. thought the days are longer and somewhat sunnier now, it’s still too early to spend much time out of doors aside from my runs, which i am religious about if for no other reason that to stop would cause me to petrify at my desk. it’s still WAY too cold and windy for biking much at all; i do miss that.

so i spent the weekend doing last minute errands for my trip west on tuesday, getting some knitting done, and putting the new kitchen through its paces.

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yesterday, after yoga class and several stops to pick up this and that, i decided that i just had time to bake a blueberry pie to take to the coffee house evening at the home of our neighbors, bruce and norma. i made a batch of the same pie crust i’d used for the lemon meringue pie and got that chilling while i cooked the filling with frozen blueberries, sugar, lemon rind and a touch of cornstarch.

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we prefer crumb topping on most pies so i also got that ready in advance. haha, however that is where i completely forget to take any more photos, even when the pie came out of the oven looking scrumptious.

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while not so attractive, hopefully these “morning after” leftovers speak for themselves. i have got to learn to put less filling in the dish so it doesn’t bubble over so much. it just never looks full enough beforehand, heh.

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while it baked i knit a few rounds; wednesday night i cast on another op art cowl, this time in a different weight of the same fiber blend—the fingering selection from spirit trail fiber works called sunna. omg, this color—va-va voom!—is to die for. such  great deep pink. at first it looks red, but then you realize that it’s got that vivid edge that makes it more of a pink. i love it.

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this cowl is taking a bit longer because i cast on the largest size, but even at that, it’s easy to make steady progress because most of the rounds are soothingly mindless. last night i brought it to a coffee house evening and knit almost in the dark while we listened to music and chatted with neighbors. when we got home, i was aMAZed at how many rounds i’d completed. i even did the round of twists while i was there.

this is definitely going in my suitcase to san diego this week—it’ll be great knitting for chatty evenings with kim and her family. karolyn is working away on the test sample for the medium size in DK weight birte—also in the va-va voom! colorway.

the pattern is all set to go, so as soon as we get the samples done and photos shot, we can release it. i know that several of you are anxious for it but hang in there!

we also have matching arm warmers underway—so cute. they really show off the patterning as they expand and contract over the arms, puffing out here and there. can’t wait to show you those.

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while i was working in the kitchen and since i had pie crust underway anyhow, i threw together a quiche filled with spring vegetables for our supper. beckie has been generously supplying us with plenty of eggs from her hens, so it was a great way to use some of those up.

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mmm, asparagus and mushrooms. we had this for a late supper after we got home from the coffee house. there are plenty of leftovers for david to eat while i’m away; i’ll probably freeze a few slices for him to use one by one when he doesn’t feel like cooking.

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speaking of mister knitspot—look at the hat he’s knitting, isn’t it beautiful? he is really quite the knitter. i’m enjoying the fact that sarah is impressed enough by david’s work to aspire to careful stitch work and even tension in her own knitting. and both of them have a willingness to rip back and fix that i’ve never seen in beginners before, the result being that both of them are turning out remarkably perfect fabrics.

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i must be doing something right by just stepping back and letting them compete, haha. kinda like the hunger games of knitting?

speaking of wishing for spring, i am attempting to coax it along with my own special brand of voodoo—calling up the goddess of UFOs and promising to turn at least one big one into an FO if she will just let spring, well . . . spring.

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yes, i am actually working and successfully, on getting somewhere with this sweater. i finished the one sleeve and have started the other and gotten that one nearly to the point where i change patterns.

i am taking this one with me as well, so that i can finish it up during my trip. i will be away two weeks and am taking four projects—my secret stone soup one, my op art cowl, this sweater, and another secret one that i can say boo about yet. all of them are half done, so i may even pack a fifth one, not sure yet. i don’t want to tempt myself, you know? i really want to force myself to finish up my most urgent projects. plus, i have to work every day too; i’ve got a club chapter deadline coming up when i return.

alright now, all of that is making feel stressed; i better get out for my run and get back so i can pack my suitcase. i’ll try to be back with another post before i leave on tuesday, but that’s a bit doubtful; the next time you see me might be in sunny san diego, where our dear friend kim is getting hitched in just a few days! i’ll be all news with wedding details from the front, how about that?

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(this is my dress; isn’t it cute?)

and i won’t be at all sorry to be enjoying the sun when i get there.

 

the difference a day makes

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

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yesterday morning we woke up to a nearly identical view of the the previous day’s sunrise—gorgeous orangey blue streaked sky with the sun trying to peep through. as nancy and i chatted over coffee though, a peachy veil gradually screened out the sun, turning in just a short while to a gray, fuzzy mantle, the fingers of which began to creep toward us through the streets and between the buildings.

is that fog i asked?? then i realized—it was the snow they’d predicted to begin at noon. and i’m not kidding when i say that it literally crawled its way across brooklyn from the east to invade every nook and cranny the city had to offer.

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it was a fine, icy powder blown sideways by the wind and yet by 10 am, enough had collected to coat rooftops, standing cars, and sidewalks.

nancy and i had a special lunch date with cathy and agnes at nobu, so nothing was going to keep us indoors—neither of us had ever been there and we were excited to go. so we worked for a few hours in the early morning and then pulled on our boots to brave the weather. just then, i got a text that my flight the next morning was already cancelled. i quickly rescheduled (thank goodness we were still indoors!) and out the door we went.

this is where NYC really has the advantage; no matter what the weather, you can travel underground by subway to get wherever you want to go—and quickly. the subway hardly ever shuts down; it’s truly the eight wonder.

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we arrived at nobu just at noon and were immediately transported from the outside hustle bustle to a serene interior—hushed, but not too much so. it still felt very relaxed, cordial, and welcoming; the staff couldn’t have been more naturally nice.

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i love the design inside, using all natural materials but not trying to recreate the outdoors exactly; more like what i’d see in a dream about the outdoors.

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don’t cathy and nancy look stunning? and they are just this beautiful, inside and out. we were soon joined by agnes who missed getting in the photo, unfortunately.


soon the parade of food began and we were treated to one vision after another of tasty dishes which arrived at our table as beautifully arranged presentations (that sashimi was particularly gorgeous and delectable; i could eat that all day, i’m not kidding).

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outside our window, the snow just piled up and pedestrian traffic thinned to a trickle. i began to rethink the afternoon i’d planned, moseying around downtown to poke around in some galleries and maybe a shop or two (we were dangerously close to century 21).

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and at the end, the kitchen sent a lovely trio of desserts, which of course brought our friend kimkimkim to mind, knowing how much she’d approve.

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this dish of bananas sautéed in some sort of whiskey sauce with toasted pecans and ice cream?? stop it.

oh what a meal—seriously, i enjoyed every morsel. i could eat this kind of food every day.

soon we realized that we all better get moving if we were going to get to our respective destinations. once outside, it was clear that the snow was getting more serious; i decided to forego my afternoon out and head back to brooklyn to knit a hat and watch the snow fly from nancy’s cozy sofa.

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one of the project i’d packed for this trip was the waffle creams hat i started with such great enthusiasm during the polar vortex, only to be sidelined when nan and the boys went home and my january chapter deadline drew near (hey, this is what happens; what can i do?).

well, what i can do, since everything is on the needles and set to go, is pack these sorts of projects in my travel bag and get on top of them during my trips. which is exactly what i did. while nancy was gone, i made myself at home on the sofa facing out the glass wall to watch the snow, played my current audiobook on my phone (i’m working my way through the series),  and settled in with my snuggly hat project.

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here is the last photo i was able to take before it got dark. the snow was so fine and the wind blew it about so, that even i was fooled—it didn’t look like much. but you can see at the top of that dark red building on the right, it is piling up pretty high against the fence.

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for the next four or so hours it was full steam ahead on this hat. i’m knitting with our stone soup DK in the slate shade; we had a large ball of it in the leftovers bag that i grabbed and it was plenty to make this generous slouchy cap, so i think it’s safe to say that nearly any size can be knit from a full skein. i got almost all the way through it before my eyes started to close and finally had to put it down just before closing the top.

before climbing into bed, i also noticed that the snow had stopped, seemingly mid-gale. one minute it was blowing around to beat the band and the next, the sky was clear. amazing.

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at 7 am this morning the sky was streaked with soft blue and white and the sun was just peeking over the horizon. everything was stillness and light, so pretty. we heard that over a foot fell in central park and a bit more in the surrounding areas.

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i finished off my hat over coffee this morning, mmm. the fabric has a wonderfully touchable surface with the feeling of soft felt. and it’s not even washed yet; i know it will be even more cozy once it’s had a hot soapy bath.

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for all its softness though, the stitch definition is terrific; again, it will improve once it’s had a bath and the stitches find their final resting position within the fabric.

the design is based on my waffle creams socks, a combination of patterns that i’ve always had an affinity for—they exude a warm, “grandpa” feeling that i can’t resist (and which i take at face value will refrain from analyzing too deeply, haha).

in fact, the sock design comes from the memory of an actual “grandpa” sweater i used to own, which i found in a thrift store during the 1980s. i loved that thing dearly, but i lost it while traveling one christmas, to my great distress. one of the designs on my long to-do list is to replicate that sweater and now i have the perfect yarn with which to do it.

for part of last evening i also worked on my other current public knitting project (i have a couple of secret ones going, too).

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a new, squishy cowl i’m knitting with spirit trail verdande in colorway wild blueberry. i actually have some of each weight of this yarn base—the verdande worsted, the birte DK, and the sunna fingering, to knit a series of accessories.

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i’m using a combination of stitch pattern and yarn weight to play around with changes in scale—kind of like op art painting. it’s a long story, but i’ve always been fascinated with that genre, even though i never attempted to use that style in my own painting endeavors.

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this series of yarn has a beautiful sheen from the silk content and the twist, which leans toward a firm structure. i also have some in the vavavoom colorway; karolyn will be test knitting some of these new pieces with that color along with me. right now, i’m thinking about arm warmers, cowl, and a couple of other, multi use items.

and they will coordinate really well with my existing lacunae design for fingerless mitts and hat (my favorite, most-worn mitts). i’m excited.

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and just look at this beautiful sky now—who would even guess at the craziness that was yesterday if we didn’t have twelve inches of snow to prove it?

and with that, i must close—time to organize my suitcase, grab a shower, and maybe a quick walk before i head to the airport.

hehe, i just looked at the forecast for home; i’ll give you three guesses what we’re going to get later today in ohio, but i bet you’ll only need one . . .