Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

10 thoughts on the oscars.

...my first thought when I saw carole's prompt was "darn, I guess I shouldn't have turned off the oscars at 9:30 to let marc watch golf." it seemed fine at the time because my favorite part of any awards show is the red carpet and I knew there was no way I'd be awake to see the best picture award at the end.  turns out there is enough coverage on the internet that I feel like I watched the entire show...in just a half hour!  

photo credit
1. uggie is seriously cute.

2. I'd like to see the artist, hugo, the muppet movie, the iron lady, the descendants and money ball. I'm glad I saw midnight in paris. I don't need to see the help.

3. gwyneth paltrow, penelope cruz and stacy keibler were stunning.

4. did j lo did have a wardrobe malfunction? of course she did!

5. angelina's right leg had its own twitter account and over 10,000 followers. seriously?

6. billy crystal is the best host.

7. giuliana rancic looks great.

8. love all the red hair.

9. sasha baron cohen, as expected, tasteless and tacky.

10. I really don't need to stay up to watch the show live!

click here to join the ten on tuesday fun!

Monday, February 27, 2012

writing it down.

...I'm a huge fan of ravelry and that's helping me become a huge fan of not doing things on paper. I totally get that paperless is the way to go - it's better for the environment, it's portable, it's convenient (I've misplaced my charity hat pattern - no problem, I can pull it up on my phone!)...but...it's not paper. I can't cross out. I can't make it messy. it documents "right now" but I'm also interested in how right now is different from six months ago.

like my september 6, 2011 blog post about the next 10 sweaters I wanted to knit. less than six months ago I had those 10 projects in mind and today... I finished that first one, frogged the second one, finished the third one. and the rest...aren't even on my radar any more. yep, that's how fast my knitting mind changes.  and I know I had a few other twists and turns before I abandoned those projects - there were definitely projects that jumped up in the queue and then dropped down or off - and I am enough of a documenter to want to follow those twists and turns.

katie conveniently left me a very big scrap pad (she took an art class in college, I think) and I'm experimenting with keeping my knitting projects - WIPs, queue and hibernating projects - documented in big print.
103:365 writing it down.


my plan is to mark up this page as things change. I'm curious to see how often that happens and how long it takes me to work through my current queue.  I love - even if I am a bit surprised by! - having just two WIPs... relative monogamy for me and very satisfying!  and to remind me that I do have eight projects hibernating. they'll need attention if I want to finish them.

knitting is a huge part of my life, and I am often remiss about documenting where I am because I get too caught up in doing it. I'd like to change that.

here's where my two current projects stood this evening.
ella progress
ella (aka "plum") coat - sleeves and bodice done, with ruffles!
winnowing progress
winnowing, 4 rows to go in the 3rd repeat
I hope to make significant progress on both before casting on that rill scarf on friday!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

vegetable lasagna.

...healthy recipe #4! sara was home this past weekend and I completely enjoyed took advantage of the opportunity to cook with her. katie & rob were here for dinner saturday (and the weekend - whew! that's why I'm feeling so far behind right now!). both my girls are vegetarians, but the guys demand something filling and a healthy lasagna seemed like it would satisfy everyone.

I started with a spinach lasagna recipe I got years ago from a cookbook called connecticut cooks (sorry, I can't find a link with a photo to know if it's the right one...it was years ago!) my favorite thing about the recipe is that it doesn't call for cooked noodles. you add water to the bottom of the pan when you assemble the layers, and cover the whole thing with foil for the first 45 minutes of cooking. it works. and it is so easy.

for saturday's dinner, I wanted to pump up the vegetables so we started with eggplant and zucchini, roasted.
then added the roasted vegetables to the sauce (I use a jar of "good" sauce, but of course it would be delicious if you made your own).

the cheese layer is fat free cottage cheese and frozen spinach (thawed).

and there's a little bit of grated parmesan for the top.
three piles of cheese = 2 lasagnas + yummy dip for bread
we started layering with a watered down sauce, then added noodles.

then sauce, cheese, more noodles. sauce, cheese, sauce.

and parmesan. cover with foil. bake.
lasagna #2...in the freezer!
(set the table, serve snacks, chat about wedding plans, catch up on college basketball, open a bottle of wine... really, it bakes for over an hour - it's plenty of time!)

serve and enjoy.

of course I forgot to take a picture of the cooked lasagna. we were all hungry and ready to eat! but it's delicious. I really can't tell that the noodles aren't precooked and I love that having an extra piece is fine. almost no fat, plenty of vegetables and it tastes good!

here's the recipe:
(serves 4-6 - note that in all the photos above we have double the ingredients - we made two lasagnas)
1 32 oz jar of "good" marinara sauce (feel free to add garlic, basil, oregano if you like)
1 medium eggplant
2 small zucchini
16 oz fat free cottage cheese
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 pound whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked
1/3 c coarsely grated parmesan cheese

peel and chop the eggplant into 1/2" cubes. chop the zucchini into 1/2" cubes. toss the zucchini and eggplant in a roasting pan, season with salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until soft. add the roasted vegetables to the marinara (this is the "sauce"). mix the cottage cheese and spinach (this is the "cheese").

grease a 9x13 pan and start layering:
1/2 c water mixed with about 1/2 c sauce.
1/2 the noodles.
1/3 the remaining sauce.
1/2 the cheese.
1/2 the noodles.
1/2 the remaining sauce.
the remaining cheese.
the remaining sauce.
sprinkle the grated parmesan on top.
cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. remove the foil and bake 20 minutes more. let set about 10 minutes before cutting to serve.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

10 tips for writing a great letter.

...what a timely prompt for those of us participating in a month of letters - thanks, carole!
97:365 a good letter.
this morning's letters with their pretty stamps (#1) matched to their recipients (#3), and dated (#9)
1. use pretty stamps. I am obsessed with stamps and recently discovered I could order them on-line and have them delivered to my mailbox for about a dollar. the selection is extensive and not having to visit the post office is a treat!

2. use pretty paper. another obsession. I have boxes of cards and postcards and always try to add a few to my "collection" when I travel.

3. match the paper to the occasion. if possible - and given my extensive collection it often is! - I try to match the paper (and the stamp :-) to the person and/or the message in my letter.

4. write, meaning no typing. my handwriting is borderline illegible. and some days I cross that border - my mom returned a snippet of a letter I wrote to her with a word circled and "what does this say?" written in the margin - oops! but oh well, my handwriting is part of me. (I will break this rule if I have a confined space to send a specific message because typing does fit more words on the page!)

5. use your own voice. I correspond with a few people I've never met in person - but from reading my letters, I think they know what I sound like.

6. don't share "old news". (at least not on purpose.) for me that means I don't put into a letter something that I've posted on my blog.

7. be personal. I want the person reading the letter to know it was meant for her (or him) specifically.

8. be kind, necessary and true. once that letter lands in the mailbox there is no taking it back. words that are kind, necessary and true won't come back to bite you.

9. include the date. I think timing is an essential part of the context of the message. I'll often include the time of day, as well ("monday morning" or "sunday evening").

10. mail it. a letter isn't really a letter unless it ends up in someone's mailbox. and that can't happen if you don't mail it!

click here to join the ten on tuesday fun!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

10 favorite chocolate treats.

68:365 bedtime treat.
...ooohhh, a most appropriate prompt for today! thanks, carole! a quick visit to my flickr stream shows a nice assortment of chocolate goodies. perfect inspiration while I drink my coffee - I am not so much a chocolate fan at 5:30 a.m.!

1. my go-to treat is a "good" (think barefoot contessa here) piece of dark chocolate. harry's has a wonderful selection. the photo above was my stash about three weeks ago (it's considerably smaller now). I love to pair it with a glass of red wine. a few years back, I even commissioned yarn dyed to match!

2. the dark chocolate panini at bistro vg. it's not too sweet, but very fun.

3. vinny's chocolate mousse cake. (bistro vg and vinny's are owned by the same people - and their pastry chef is amazing).

4. alpine bakery's million dollar cake (roswell's best chocolate cake!)

5. barefoot contessa's french chocolate bark. to.die.for.

6. brownies. barefoot contessa's version is delicious.  (hum, ina obviously has a thing for chocolate, doesn't she!)

7. hot chocolate. ...today might be a good day for this. it's hovering in the thirties...and raining.

8. mint chocolate chip ice cream. I haven't had this in years, but growing up it was a favorite flavor.

9. chocolate mousse. it's my dad's favorite dessert and we had a throwdown at our last family reunion. everyone was a winner!

10. chocolate pound cake. another childhood favorite that I haven't had in years. my aunt gave me the recipe, but I've never made it.

happy valentine's day and best chocolate wishes!!
click here to join the ten on tuesday fun!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

the thirteenth journal ends.

...wow. it still amazes me. this journaling habit. 62 months of my life. documented in 13 journals.

the last page is always me today. a snapshot of what I'm about right now. (and what my hair looks like - funny how much that's changed in the last five years!)
the end of journal #13
with journal #6 I started tying a piece of yarn from each finished knitting project to the moleskine band
with journal #7 I started listing those finished projects inside the front cover. and with journal #13, I added the yardage to that knitting record.
88:365 a knitting record.

since early october, I've completed 21 projects and knit just over 9,000 yards of yarn. which is more than FIVE miles. whoa. (no wonder I haven't had much time for anything else!) I haven't knit a sweater since november when I finished vodka gimlet. and ten of those projects were for others.

I hope journal #14 tells a similar story about knitting for others. but maybe not knitting quite so much. and definitely getting back to sweaters. we'll see.

Friday, February 10, 2012

zucchini apple soup.

...aka healthy recipe #3 (#8 from my list). and apologies, I know I've neglected to share #1 and #2 here, but oh well, we're starting at 3. because this one is really the first recipe that I've cooked by myself from start to finish and that I've made enough tweaks to the original recipe to call it my own (and the one that I photographed to share!)

my friend marci was the inspiration. (if you frequent cast-on cottage, yes, this is our marci!) she's been working out with a trainer and he shared a healthy soup recipe with her. she shared the basics with us last weekend. I bought granny smith apples the next day. and then, the onion and zucchini. on wednesday, martha lent me her immersion blender. ingredients - check!

marci's recipe called for two onions and one apple. I'm not a huge fan of onions, but I love apples (and I had a lot of them)...I substituted an apple for an onion.

I started with a non-stick pan, sprayed lightly with pam (sadly, costco doesn't sell the olive oil version, so this is the plain pam) heated over medium heat. I added a few cloves of garlic, chopped fine and one sweet onion, peeled and chopped.

while that cooked, I sliced the zucchini.

and then added it to the pot.

while that cooked, I peeled the apple, then sliced and diced it. and made the chicken broth. the onion and zucchini were just soft when I added the apple and broth, turned down the heat to low and waited for it to simmer.

then I set the timer for 30 minutes and ate breakfast (and started the latest book for bookclub!)

30 minutes later everything was perfectly cooked and ready to blend.

thanks to the immersion blender, a few minutes later I had soup!

a lovely dinner for one. (or two, or a starter for four). [edited to add - the slightly tart, slightly sweet apple really sets off the zucchini - and you can't tell there isn't any cream in this very creamy soup. I tried it hot and cold and it's delicious both ways...but today I'll be having it hot. with a spoonful of greek yogurt stirred in for a bit more protein!]



here's the recipe:
nonfat cooking spray
3 cloves garlic, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 medium zucchini, sliced thin
2 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped
3 pints chicken (or vegetable) broth
salt & pepper to taste (I didn't add any salt, but I did add pepper)

coat a non-stick dutch oven with cooking spray. heat over medium heat and add garlic and onion. saute about 3 minutes and add zucchini. saute about 5 minutes (onion and zucchini should be very soft) and add apples and broth. lower heat to low. simmer for 30 minutes. emulsify. done.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

10 things I can see from my favorite knitting spot.

...the hardest thing about carole's prompt this week is identifying my favorite knitting spot. a quick review of my flickr stream shows knitting all over the place! at my kitchen table, at my desk, in my living room, at starbucks, at friends' houses, at cast-on cottage. even central park (that one was very fun). all of these are wonderful places to knit and depending on what I'm knitting, some are better than others. knitting lace? hands down my kitchen table where I can have the chart handy in front of me (and where I can concentrate without too much distraction). knitting a sweater? love my living room chair because it's big and sweaters can get big when they're close to being done.

I do love knitting lace and knitting sweaters, but what I really love is knitting with others. and I think my favorite place for that is cast-on cottage. especially on friday afternoons.
a friday afternoon back in september. originally blogged here.
and here are ten things I see:

1. friends.

2. other people's projects - always inspiring.

3. yarn - ditto the inspiration. and the colors - it always makes me happy to look at yarn!

4. patterns - there is always something new out on the table, a magazine, a book, and it's rare we don't get excited about a new project at some point.

5. starbucks. yep, there is one right next door and many of us - me included - always stop by the drive-thru on our way in.

6. sweet treats (if we're lucky :-)

7. my camera.

8. my project - knitting, pattern and a pen (depending on the project there might be more, but these three things are constants)

9. smiles (hopefully!)

10. holly in my lap (this happens almost everywhere I knit!)


click here to join the ten on tuesday fun!

Monday, February 6, 2012

sleeve math.

sleeve math in process (and math with a purple pen?! it rocks!)
...there is a lot of math in knitting (and sometimes cooking!) - mostly numbers and counting and a little bit of algebra to work out gauge issues. when I tell my students "there's a lot of math in knitting", many of them groan. but for me, I think it's one of the things I like most about the craft. it's a problem waiting to be solved. but it's not a problem with just one right answer (the mid-life me loves that...but not so much the 20-something me!)

the problem I had was with the sleeves of my ella coat...sleeves that are knit flat, as separate pieces and then seamed to the bodice. one of the reasons I love to knit seamless sweaters is that I can try them on - or at least try on pieces - to be sure they fit. I love to knit sweaters. I hate to knit sweaters that don't fit. the ella coat is designed to accommodate stripes. so I get that it's knit for seams (knitting seamless stripes is a problem that needs a better solution!). and I could convert the whole thing to be seamless, but I'm knitting along with a group on ravelry - and a group at the shop - so I want to knit. along.

we started the sleeves on friday. I was concerned they'd be too big. my chicken-like arms measure 10" at their widest. as designed, the sleeve for my bust size would be 15-1/2" wide. of course it is a coat, but still?! I'd already shortened the armhole depth and I wasn't sure I could also narrow the sleeve and still have it fit into the armscye. so I decided to follow the pattern and hope.

until I read a comment on ravelry about sleeve math. specifically about this fabulous article from knitty way back in 2005. on the first read, I thought it might be just a bit overboard, but it was "real math" :-) and the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I was to try. so yesterday afternoon I sat down with my ella coat swatch and the pattern and my own measurements (and a calculator and my favorite purple pen) and figured out a new sleeve design. it took me about two hours. which in the big scheme of things isn't really that much (if it works!)

then I pulled out the original sleeves - see how big they are?

in my new design, I reduced the cast-on from 44 to 36 stitches (nearly 2") and I reduced the upper arm from 70 to 54 stitches (about 3-3/4")

thanks to the super bowl and catching up on downton abbey, I've finished 60+ rows so I'm nearly half done with the new sleeves. the shape seems better... but I really don't think I'll know if I've been successful until I finish them. and sew them in. stay tuned for an update!

Friday, February 3, 2012

fo friday. three for them and one for me.

...so far, 2012 is looking like a different kind of knitting for me. less sweaters. more cowls. especially lace ones. and more for others.

one of my goals is 12 hats for charity. on new years day I had one. and now I have three (and the fourth is on the needles). I love that I'm making these hats from yarn I have...and that it's yarn I love. I know a hat that's not washable might not be practical...but it's nice. and I'm sure there are folks who need a bit of nice with their hats.
december charity hat
thank you to my lovely model carter with his mom! - this is another dean street hat
january charity hat
and to carter by himself! - this is turning, a new hat pattern that I won in a blog giveaway!
next up is a cowl for katie's future mother-in-law, jane. she has a banner birthday this weekend and we're going to celebrate it later this month (with brunch at murphy's). this one is definitely hard to give away!
a noble cowl for jane.
a noble cowl. raveled here.
...and finally, the one for me.
capelet done
capelet done

this is my first maggiknits. a fur-collared capelet. even though I converted the pattern to have the knitting be seamless, I had to spend hours this morning weaving in ends and sewing on the fur collar (twice - am I the only one who didn't realize a fur collar had a right and a wrong side?!) in any event, I love the finished project and I'm excited to cast on my next maggie's!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

an early spring?

78:365 sunshine.

sadly, I don't have daffodils in my yard. because they're blooming all over my neighborhood right now. but the buds on our huge rhodie tell the same story. no matter what the groundhogs say, it appears like spring is definitely just around the corner. of course, six more weeks of "winter", if it means this kind of sunshine and highs in the sixties...I'm fine with that too!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012