Tuesday, March 30, 2010

spring's promise delivered

I've been feeling a bit prickly, the past few days, disappointed in Spring's wimpy weather so far. Things seem to be turning around, though, and it's supposed to be unseasonably warm - even in the 80's, the rest of the week. I'm looking forward to it; I've got some new little shade plants to put out. Today I planted some new hellebores, which I don't expect to do much, as I got them out late. Tomorrow, hostas, lungworts and cyclamen bulbs. All this perennial planting and bulb growing is sort of a distraction to me from my real mission, which is figuring out to do with 1/2 an acre of dirt and shade. I think I need to subdivide it into bedded areas which I'll fence off from the dogs, at least temporarily, and try and establish some shade-tolerant groundcover. It feels overwhelming.

We had some tequila, limes and oranges leftover from a tequila-lime chicken dish that P. made last week. I made a drink, using the 3-2-1 Formula: 3 parts tequila, (1.5oz) 2 parts lime juice,(1 oz) and one part (1/2 oz) Cointreau. A sort of margarita, though I didn't salt the glass. Extremely yummy and sippable. I'm going to make another one, this weekend, adding in fresh squeezed orange juice in addition to the limes. Gotta figure out the proportions for this new drink, though.

On Ravelry, I'm in a group for soap and dishcloth swapping. I like the idea of swapping yarn and knitted things, but most swaps I've checked out have impossibly high spending requirements, and too many rules. This group runs a periodic swap that involves sending someone a knitted washcloth, and a bar of soap. Nothing more, nothing less...a $10 maximum spending limit. I knitted this cloth for my partner:
My swappee sent me this: I love the butterflies and the soap, a deliciously grapefruit-lily scented one, is handmade from a North Carolina Cherokee Indian village. It's currently scenting my stash of laceweight yarn, til my current shower soap runs out. The swappiness was a thrill. It's been just a drop in the bucket of cool stuff that's been coming in the mail, lately; a wheelwarming gift of some blue-faced leicester roving from Opal, my Stitches South registration... not to mention the spinning fibers I've been ordering. Here's a peek at the last of the lilac n' lemon romney drafted up and ready to spin: and a look at some of the singles on the bobbin. I spun it all up and plied it. Seems to be a light worsted weight. I think it looks like marshmallow peeps. So seasonal.

Is anyone else as ridiculously happy as I am about the upcoming remake of Clash of the Titans? "Release the krakon" is our new household phrase for letting Cricket outside in the mornings.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

a gratuitous blog

Whoo-eee, the blogging mojo, it has not arisen in a coon's age. I've been working (something about writing 45 narrative report cards just turns the brain to jelly) and cooking (scratch pancakes, carnitas, whole wheat scones, kale chips...) and spinning up a storm on the louet, which is still nameless. Nevertheless, in spite of no writing, there has been some sporadic knitting. Here is a progress shot of Talia, who is finished, now, except for the picking up stitches and knitting the edging of the armholes, which for some reason, is a process that scares me. I have a hard time doing this in a pretty way, and even though I believe in the forgiveness of black, fuzzy yarn, I keep putting it off. For a person described as brave, I am kinda chicken like that.
This is a fun little knit. The Lamb's Pride is one of my favorite yarns to work with, even though it sheds nasty mohair all over the place. It is just about the perfect worsted single. If I could spin a single this pretty, I'd just plotz with joy.

P and I have both been cooking with all our hearts, of late. Even though more complex things have been made, my old standby of doing veg on the grill is still making its appearance. I made a sort of asian marinade for these things; mirin, shoyu, grated ginger, garlic and sesame oil. A great foil for the portobello slices.

Spring is here, and our 30's and 40's have turned into 50's and 60's, with an occasional heavenly dose of 70 degrees. I feel myself coming back to life, with the return of the sun, though Georgia is rainier than I'd like. Is it the year? Or is this the Seattle of the South that no one ever mentioned to me? P and I both agreed that after this rainy, rainy winter, we realized that all our talk of moving to Portland was just talk, and that we'd just collapse in sodden entropy in such a steadily gray and rainy place. oy.

I leave you with a recipe for something I've recently been experimenting with, the kale chip. I took a bunch of dinosaur (tuscan, lacinato, black...its names are many) kale leaves, and carved out the thick central rib, so the leaf became like a long "V" shape. Then I put the leaves in a bowl and poured a couple Tbsp. of olive oil on them, a splash of cider vinegar, and a good toss of sea salt. Using my fingers, I massaged each leaf with the oil mixture, so they were quite coated. I spread 'em out on parchment paper on a baking sheet and stuck 'em in a 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes, til they became crispy. Took 'em out and consumed while they were still warm and chip-like. YUM. I love cooked kale, and didn't really need an excuse to eat it, but these salty, vinegary, crispy treats are my new obsession. Great with a cocktail, or just as an emotional eating alternative to the Ben n' Jerry's, if you need variety in your diet! I think you can do it with regular curly kale, though it might be more challenging to get the ribs out, and get them nicely coated with the oil. I think I could also do them on the grill, too, but it might require more vigilance and temperature tweaking.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

spin sugar spin

It's the end of my spring break, which of course, is the saddest thing. We took a long (too long!) road trip up to VA, to visit my mom. 350 miles is too far to drive in one day on rather boring highways, with 2 antsy dogs. Thank the goddess for Starbucks and the Avett Brothers! Which isn't feel-good music at all, resulting in our 9pm arrival at my mom's all kinda glum, not because of a bad drive, or lack of joy in seeing her, but because of the twists and turns of "I and Love and You". Ah, well, it was nice to get out into the country, again, anyway. We went to church the next morning for a dedication service. My family was donating some projection equipment in memory of dada. Nice to be back in the old home area, running into high school friends, distant relatives and folk whose names I couldn't tell you, but whose faces are indelibly engraved upon my childhood memory.

So, weirdness, in VA... We grew up kind of out in the boonies, and wildlife abounds around the house. Deer, fox, possums, skunks, snakes, raccoons, the occasional bobcat, you name it. Anyway, it being spring, it was the mating season for skunks, otherwise known, in the Virginia vernacular, as "polecats." They are nocturnal, and every night, about 10pm, they'd come out, and do whatever it is they do, the main thing being distributing their scent all around the house, our cars, and the general surrounds. I do not remember this phenomenon, growing up; the story is, that our across-the-road neighbors, who operate a cat rescue of sorts, have managed to attract the polecats with all the catfood laying around. Nice... but not so much. Especially with 2 prey-driven dogs who needed to be walked. Somehow, we managed to avoid being sprayed, and each morning, the smell would be either very faint, or gone. My mom says this goes on through the early spring.

Otherwise, the time was spent hanging out, knitting, reading the thoroughly absorbing "Angels and Demons," watching the Oscars and playing frisbee with the dogs, and just catching up with my ma and her adventures. Somehow, in one of the endless frisbee games, Crick managed to slice open his foot on some unidentified sharp object. It was across the pad of a hind paw, in a place that was impossible for stitches, so he's on antibiotics and instructions to keep it clean and dry. Once back in GA, we were greeted with the usual 3-day downpour, thus necessitating the purchase of these: Little nylon and leather booties called "Muttluks" are just darling, and kind of a pain to put on. It took him a few minutes to learn to walk in them, he kept raising his feet really high in a hilarious prancing motion. The cut is healing, and once our weather dries out again, he can go barefoot once more outside. Apparently, paw pad wounds take a while to heal up. He seems unfazed by it, and it was only by the distressing tracks of blood all over the house that we even found out he'd been hurt.

I joined Chelsea in a slacker's knitalong of the Noro stripey scarf, a la Jared Flood. Here's my own effort.
I am using 2 colorways of Silk Garden: #84 and #47. Not sure how I feel about the way they are meshing, but that's hardly the point, with Noro, is it? Chelsea is farther along that I am, because she was a Noro virgin, and so entranced by the everchanging dazzlement. Jaded Noro whore that I am, I am slogging along at my usual crawl.It was called a slacker's knitalong, due to the lack of rules and deadlines, much akin to our Icarus knitalong. I like this approach, as I am invariably the last horse across the finish line. Still, the Noro moves one right along. This may use up all the Silk Garden in my stash! Not counting the yarn I'll gain from frogging my Klaralund, which I've fallen out of love with, while not falling out of love with the pretty green colorway.

Hawkheart is pushing through the final throes of wrapping up her American Life, to begin the Costa Rican Life, and sent me her spinning wheel; a rehoming of sorts. She used to be a spinner, long before we became friends, but had gotten away from it in recent years. We became friends, teaching together at my first school job, back in the early 90's, sharing passions for dogs, reptiles, birds, tarot, sushi, bicycling, aquariums...but incredibly, not the fiber arts. I knew the wheel was coming, eventually, but didn't expect it quite so soon, but I welcomed it with open arms, nevertheless...

A Louet S10, made in 1987, and still working like a charm. Quiet, with the exception of a tiny, endearing squeak, which I will try and track down, and smooth to spin. I might add here that I have spun on a wheel exactly two times before this. Once, my freshman year in college, for about 5 minutes, and once at Opal's, where she very patiently taught me not to be afraid of the wheel, and not to cry when all I could spin was tight little coils of the Novelty Yarn from Hell. Opal has been the spinning enabler in my life, first getting me hooked on the gateway drug of spindling, and then moving me on to harder stuff. And now the pretty Louet, nameless, thus far, occupies the clamcave, and is happily munching up my modest little fiber stash.

Things I've learned... colonial top is easier to spin than the corriedale I have. I am getting a callus on my fingers from drafting. I don't know if this is to be expected, or if I'm exercising some kind of death grip that isn't really necessary for the process. I am not spinning big scary coils anymore, and am actually starting to have some fun with the whole thing. Here's a progress shot:

Next up, tomorrow or later this week...some kitchen adventures and another WIP!

sorting hat

For Barb and Chris...

The sorting hat says that I belong in Ravenclaw!


Said Ravenclaw, "We'll teach those whose intelligence is surest."

Ravenclaw students tend to be clever, witty, intelligent, and knowledgeable.
Notable residents include Cho Chang and Padma Patil (objects of Harry and Ron's affections), and Luna Lovegood (daughter of The Quibbler magazine's editor).

Take the most scientific Harry Potter
ever created.

Get Sorted Now!

My Ravenclaw sisters. A supposedly very "scientific" quiz. Lots of questions, too! Like taking the Harry Potter Myers-Briggs. Yeesh.