Friday, October 17, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: Traditional Shortbread with Earl Grey Glaze

Okay, everyone.  I promise, I really did go to the UK.  It was not a dream, nor was it a extreme fib to excuse a blogging break.  I was there for a relatively few short days, and I filled those days with lovely walks in the park, yummy food, a little culture and of course a few yarn stores.

I still hope to share some photos from my trip in later posts.  But to prove my point, here is just one from another 'of course'.  At least it was an of course for me.  Because when I would visit my grandparents for weeks at a time during the summer when I was a kid, Hamley's, the seven-story toy store, was always high on my list of places I had to go to.  So even as a twenty-something, I have to have a wander around.

Though I was able to keep myself from buying any toys, I did snap some photos of these excellent Lego displays:
First, the Queen and one of her Corgis, and then Prince William and Kate doing the wedding wave alongside Charles and Harry.  There you have it, proof that I was there less than three years ago.

Further circumstantial evidence could be taken by the fact that the first klatch treat I made after the trip was shortbread with a tea glaze.  What can I say, I was feeling British.  These are excellent for enjoying with your tea, which should of course be drunk out of some Royal Wedding china.

Traditional Shortbread with Earl Grey Glaze


  1. In a cup or small bowl, sift powdered sugar.  Add tea and use a fork to mix until you reach the desired consistency.  I look for it to easily flow from the tines of the fork, but not drip.
  2. Drizzle glaze over cooled and cut shortbread.  Allow to dry.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Days dwindling and projects multiplying

Two things happened to me on Monday when I finally bought my ticket to New York for the end of the month:
  • I was annoyed that I couldn't use my member miles, because they would have charged me $75 to 'expedite' the rewards in fewer than 21 days, and it didn't make sense to pay that much to use miles when for about $130 I could buy the ticket and earn more miles that I can use later, now knowing this restriction
  • I realized that, dude, I'm leaving in less than 21 days
Not much has changed since last week in terms of my progress towards the move, other than plans coming together in my mind.  I still have a few days left at my current job, so I'm trying to keep my head in that game just a little bit longer.  Then I can focus on how best to fill my boxes with my spinning wheel, baking equipment, bedding, and every last thread of possible warm clothing that I own as a Texan.

One of my other goals before I leave is to finish my Vlad Helsing Shawlette.  Because blocking mats are not currently on the top of my prioritized list of items to have with me, so I want to be able to finish and block this thing before I go.  Plus, then I can show it off at my new job and establish my crafting cred.

Check out that mad lace work, yo.

I've also been working on Head in the Silk Clouds, but it doesn't really progress that interestingly.  It just becomes a bigger triangle.  I love the way it's working up, though, and it is super-simple for mindless knitting.

I also cast on a new project this week.  Because, not to bury the lead, but we completed the Hill Country Yarn Crawl over the weekend.  Fourteen official stores, one nearby that we also decided to visit, and a yarn dyer's studio.  And it was at that yarn dyer's studio, Alisha Goes Around, that I picked up some yarn for a project that I needed to swatch and cast on for ASAP, just to make sure I didn't need an additional skein.

I've been admiring Alisha's pattern for Diamonds Go Around Infinity Scarf for some time, so when I saw her bright pink fingering weight yarn and paired it with a charcoal gray, it was a perfect fit.  My mom wanted to buy the pattern anyway, so it was clearly time.  
Photo by Alisha Lariscy
Because the pattern is written for DK and I had chosen fingering, I bought two skeins of pink and one of gray.  To make sure that I didn't also need a second skein of gray, I first swatched to determine the needle size that gave me the fabric that I liked, used the pattern to tell me how many stitches to cast on based on my gauge, and then started knitting the bottom border of the cowl to see just how much yarn it would take.

If it would take more than a third of the skein, Alisha advised me to get another.  Thankfully, things look promising that I only need what I have.  So I guess this will be my next 'thinking' project after Vlad.  I'm calling it Caged Pink Monster.

There are other new projects in the works for my crawl haul, which I'll have to share in later posts.  Let's just say, I have plenty of soft packing material to protect everything I'm shipping.  Who needs packing peanuts when you have yarn and fiber?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Big news!

Sometimes I struggle with how much myself to put into this blog at the exact moment that it's happening.  Obviously, when it comes down to it, this blog is about me and my passions.  But it can feel weird to talk about work, or friends, or even going on vacation.  I think this is a sign of how I'm on the cusp of the social media generation, as opposed to having been completely brought up on it.  So this is why sometimes I'll talk about something just after it's happened, as opposed to while it's progress.

Do you see what I did there?  I brought it back to the central theme of these Wednesday posts.  That's right.

So this time, I'm going to talk about something major in my life that's in-progress.  If this were a knitting project, then the pattern and yarn would be picked out, and the first row would be cast on.  But much still remains to be determined in the stitches.  Without further suspense-building...I'm moving to New York and starting a new job.

Whew!  I feel better letting that out.  I'm currently wrapping up my time in my current job in technical documentation, and I am really going to miss everyone that I've worked with while there.  But I'm also ridiculously excited about where I'm headed.  Which is back to Sarah Lawrence College to be the Alumni Relations Coordinator!  Over the years, some of you might have noticed that my nostalgia for my alma mater is deep and unwavering.  If I could make anything my job for the rest of my life, it would be being a student there.  But there's no such thing as people paying you for that.  So I'll settle for being responsible for keeping alumni connected to campus via social media, events, and other communications.

I have to keep reminding myself how awesome this is, to counteract the stress of moving across the country and the sadness of what I'm leaving behind.  Things like, 'How am I going to get my spinning wheel to New York?' and 'Who am I going to turn to when I mess up my knitting without my mom there?' are laments of a traveling crafter.

It's been therapeutic to knit while dealing with these and other questions.  I've made progress on two projects.  I'm on the final repeat of the body chart for my Vlad Helsing Shawlette:
And my Head in the Silk Clouds continues to grow:
In other fiber news, the Hill Country Yarn Crawl starts this weekend, it's sort of like my farewell (for now, at least) tour of all my Austin-area yarn stores.  Like everything having to do with this move, it's going to be bittersweet.  But I suppose I can tell myself that all yarn and fiber purchases are just extra packing material for the boxes, right?

As with my knitting projects, I'm also accepting advice for moving.  This is the first time I've done this anywhere other than to a dorm, so any tips will be appreciated!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: Whiskey Sour Cupcakes

I like to think of these as part of my rule-bending baked goods collection.  Because in my office, as I'm sure in most, you can't bring alcohol.  Unless it's a special morale-boosting event sponsored by department heads complete with beer and wine.

Now, I'm not a big drinker.  Some wine or a beer with dinner or a fancy drink with a cherry at happy hour.  Always assuming there are enough calories left in the day.  Otherwise, I've just personally never seen the point in being drunk.  Anyway, for happy hour, I've always been partial to Amaretto Sours.  Because sweet and sour are more appealing to me than the actual potency of the drink.  But amongst the random alcohol selection I was looking to use up (because we weren't drinking it), there was no amaretto.  So, whiskey it was.

No one turned down these corporate-policy-ambiguous Whiskey Sour Cupcakes.  Hopefully I didn't contribute to any poor afternoon decision-making in meetings after klatch, but you would need to put yourself into a sugar coma before you could make yourself drunk on these.  Having said that, though, they have a distinct smell and taste of alcohol.  Which is the point, being cocktail-inspired cupcakes after all.  The lemon in the cupcake is just a complement to the whiskey, but the frosting helps amp up the citrus and mellow out the alcohol.

Whiskey Sour Cupcakes
Adapted from bethcakes: Whiskey Sour Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup whiskey
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tablespoon grenadine
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Sift together flour and baking soda in a separate bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs, vanilla, and whiskey and mix until combined.
  4. Incorporate the flour mixture.  Add the lemon juice and zest.
  5. Fill liners 2/3 full.  Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool before frosting.
  6. Cream butter.  Add lemon juice, grenadine, and extract.
  7. Incorporate powdered sugar until desired consistency.
  8. Frost cakes.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: Grapefruit Spritz Cookies

Whoops!  Guess who totally forgot to post on Wednesday?  Without any good excuses like not having an internet connection?  That would be me.  All I can claim is to have a lot on my mind, and maybe that the yoga helped me clear it a little too well.

Oh well.  At least I still have lots of recipes to share with you all, starting with one from just before my trip.  This was my first time using a fancy cookie press, and even though it can be a bit fiddly, once I got the hang of it, it wasn't actually any more difficult.  And people were very impressed by spritz cookies.  Because I can't leave well enough alone, of course I had to add a puddle of glaze in the center to make them into even more citrusy flowers.

So I guess this is my way of apologizing for not posting yesterday, with a bouquet of flower cookies.  Forgive me?

Grapefruit Spritz Cookies
Adapted from Bakers Royale: Lemon Sandwich Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen

For the cookies:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 yolk
  • 1 Tablespoon grapefruit zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 1/2 cup flour, plus 2 Tablespoons
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
For the glaze:
  • About 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • About 1/2 Tablespoon grapefruit juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cream together butter and sugars.  
  3. Add egg (including additional yolk), zest, and extracts.
  4. Whisk flour and cornstarch together.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture until dough forms.
  6. Follow the directions for your cookie press.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are lightly golden.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.
  8. In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and juice together until you reach the desired glaze consistency.  Drizzle over cookies and allow to dry.

Friday, September 26, 2014

FO Friday: Poppin' a Wheelie

Hallelujah!  I have been connected to the world wide web once more!  And who is to blame?  Squirrels.  Squirrels nibbling the cables outside.  Squirrels.

Anyway, moving swiftly on.  Remember, way back when, all those weeks ago, when I learned how to spin on my Ashford Traveller?  I spun and I spun, and then I plied, and was amazed at how much yarn you can end up with compared to what I could get from my drop spindle.  Just shy of 200 grams in two large and one small hank.  Here's the breakdown of weight and yardage:
  • 95 grams, 86 yards
  • 87 grams, 97 yards
  • 14 grams, 12 yards
There's a mix of colors, fibers, and techniques in there, between the supplies from the class and the gatherings of fluff that I had in my stash.  A little bit of very colorful silk, various long-staple wools, some natural and some not-so-naturally orange, purple, get the idea.  I added them to my single ply at random, taking whatever roving I had on hand and switching it up at intervals to mix it up.  We did a simple two-ply, so the randomness twisted together just as randomly again.

Here are my fabulous photo shoot shots:
I kind of love it.  But then, it's hard not to love your own handspun, isn't it?  I found a pattern for a chunky little monster/toy in one of the knitting magazines I bought on my UK trip, so some of this might work for that.  Although, I also kind of feel like it's so pretty, I want to wear it, which makes me lean towards Syrinx Shells from my blogging friend Alicia at Woolen Diversions.

So this is kind of a finished object that will then become a WIP, and then an FO again.  Hurrah for learning new crafts!  And again hallelujah for thwarting the mischievous gnawings of squirrels.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Offline, but still in progress

There are a couple of things that have made me better prepared to face a week at home without either cable or internet.  There are the obvious things, like having the barest of online lifelines in my smartphones data connection and having a job that gives me internet from 9 to 5.  But more specifically, I think that having a ginormous DVD collection and being a knitter have made this technical isolation more bearable.

I’ve always had a relatively large movie collection, from dozens of VHS tapes that are now hidden away in a closet somewhere and should really be handed off to Goodwill to today’s bookshelf absolutely bursting with TV and film on DVD.  I’m the kind of person that, when I like something, I want to watch it multiple times.  And if I love something, I want to watch it so many times that I could recreate it in a one-woman show at the drop of a hat.  Imagine the way that little girls watch Disney movies again and again.  I basically never grew out of that.  Also, I have a need for constant background noise, otherwise my mind will get distracted by the normal creaks and squeaks of the world.  Which is why a majority of the collection also came with me to college, because without access to television for the most part, I needed to ensure a steady supply of entertainment options.

So I have plenty of reserves when faced with more than half a dozen evenings that cannot be filled with ‘Big Bang Theory’ syndication or football games.  Mostly, I’ve taken this opportunity to watch the complete series of ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ with my mom.  I’m happy to say that we do not have an Edina-Saffy relationship.

And, of course, while watching the drunken antics of Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, I have my knitting to keep me busy.  I’ve alternated between my Head in the Silk Clouds shawl, which I began during my UK trip, and Vlad Helsing Shawlette.  Both are coming along nicely.

Silk Clouds is pretty mindless, with three rows of seed stitch, five of stockinette, and steady increases along one edge.  That’s what made it such a great travel project, and now it makes it perfect for knitting while walking back and forth across the living room to rack up steps on my pedometer.

I’m on the final repeat of the main body chart for Vlad.  No picture for that one, so I’ll leave it to your imagination.  I’m still crossing my fingers that the yarn colorway will turn dark in time for the end of the shawl…

Alright, that’s my progress for this WIP Wednesday, don’t forget to check out a few others at Tami’s Amis.  I still don’t have internet, so I’ll take all of your virtual mojo in the hopes that tomorrow’s service appointment will be a success.