Saturday, June 28, 2014

Inspiration Saturday: OctoMitts

I know that usually I end up with a slew of patterns as part of my inspiration posts, but today I just have one pattern that's on my mind: OctoMitts by SpillyJane.
Photo credit: SpillyJane
SpillyJane is known for her adorable colorwork designs.  She's done gnomes, flamingos, cupcakes, and all sort of fruits and vegetables.  There are so many of them I would love to try.  But the pattern for these just happened to be free on Ravelry on Tuesday (now it's available for $6 if you're also feeling 'inspired').  And my spoilee in that long term swap just happens to like sea creatures.  So I think I might need to push my colorwork skills and try to make the fingerless version.

I'm wondering if I have enough of the Winter Night and Kenai left over from Affection-ite to do them.  That wouldn't make them quite as colorful, but still sea-faring.  Or maybe one of the yarns should be Chroma, for slightly psychedelic octopuses?  I have time to decide, I won't attempt to cast on until I've finished my Twist of Death.

Do you do colorwork?  What kinds of projects or designers do you prefer?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: Gingerbread Truffles

I don't have any FOs this Friday, but I do still have some catching up to do on my reporting of baked goods, so here's last week's.

This is one of those times when I feel slightly sheepish about calling this a 'recipe'.  Mostly what it boils down to is that the principles of the still-going-strong trend that is cake balls, or cake truffles (which just sounds so much nicer), can also be applied to gingerbread, with delicious results.

What's more, because of the dense nature of gingerbread, you don't need to induce any further guilt by adding a lot of extra frosting into the mix.  Just the crumbled up gingerbread itself holds together well enough to be rolled in this gingerbread-flavored candy coasting, which had a bit of a butterscotch taste to it, but still delicious.  Especially with a nice, milky chai.

Gingerbread Truffles
Makes about 30 truffles

  • 1 boxed Gingerbread mix, and additional ingredients as called for
  • 1 bag gingerbread-flavored candy melts
  • 1/4 cup frosting
  • 1/2 cup crushed Pfeffernusse
  1. Bake gingerbread according to directions for cakey, rather than cookie, gingerbread.  Allow to cool enough to handle.
  2. In a large bowl, tear the gingerbread into pieces.  If you think your gingerbread could use some additional moisture to hold together, add some frosting.  Otherwise, just dive in with both hands and squish the gingerbread together.  Form into balls about the size of a tablespoon.  Place on a tray lined with parchment paper and freeze.  I let them freeze overnight.
  3. When ready to assemble, melt the candy melts according to directions.  I prefer to do smaller batches and add additional melts as needed, just in case I don't need all of it.  Arrange your workspace so you have your chilled balls, melted 'chocolate', and any toppings you want to roll the truffles in close by.  Also: somewhere to place your finished truffles to set.  I simply used the same try that the balls had been frozen on.
  4. Dip each ball in candy melt, coating completely, then roll half in topping, and place back onto the tray.  This will have to be done fairly quickly, as the coating will begin setting relatively quickly, so you need to get the topping applied and your fingers off of it before that happens.
  5. Repeat until all of the balls are coated, or you are out of coating.  Allow truffles to set, then transfer to an airtight container until ready to serve.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer of cinema: Guys and Dolls

Remember when we all watched movies on VHS?  And if there were trailers before the feature, we either had to watch them or carefully fast forward through them?  I still have, hiding in a closet somewhere, my collection of childhood DVDs.  And when I first started it, aside from the many Disney princess movies, that collection was dominated by musicals.  There were the double-tape epics 'My Fair Lady' and 'The Sound of Music', as well as the not-quite-child-appropriate 'Grease' and  others.

The musicals that I did have were watched many, many times.  But they represented just a handful of the entries in that genre, and many remain that I haven't seen yet.  'Guys and Dolls', for example, was not one of the musicals I grew up with.  It seemed like a worthy use the second of my ten Flix Tix passes to see it as part of the Paramount Theater Classic Film Series, having already seen Destry Rides Again.
Though I had never seen the movie before, it did feature in the trailers for some of the musicals I did own, so I suppose I have seen the same 5 seconds enough times to match it's total run time.  But it was good to see the other 9,000+ seconds and put that well-known 5 seconds in context.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie and I think I need to add it to my DVD collection.  Some of the songs are still popping into my head a week later, and I have to say, the Crapshooters Dance was like the Sharks and the Jets rolling dice on the set of 'Metropolis'.  Marlon Brando was very...Marlon Brando.  His romance with the upstanding citizen Sally Brown is sweet, though it does make me wonder just how many fictional romances are begun as bets.  I guess 'She's All That' utilized some classic tropes.  Frank Sinatra was fantastic, of course, but I think Vivian Blaine was my favorite as Adelaide.

Stay tuned for something completely different next time, 'The Third Man'.  Teaser: Orson Welles doesn't sing any show tunes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Summer social butterfly

You already know that I love routines.  Which can make me kind of a homebody by default, but I feel like this summer I've been a little more willing to venture out and socialize.  For example, this past Sunday I went to Gauge for a going-away party for a local yarn dyer who is moving to Colorado.  Sure, it consisted mainly of noshing on strawberries, chatting, and knitting, but that's the kind of fun I like to have.  I'm not looking for raging keggers.  As further evidenced by the fact that I went downtown yesterday, not to drink my way down 6th Street, but to go see 'The Third Man' at Paramount.  I'll have a post on that, and 'Guys and Dolls', eventually.

And now, I have an exciting Wednesday planned.  After the usual klatch and yoga, dinner plans will shift from Indian at Tarka to a summer salad at Panera so that I can also go and get my hair cut.  This may not be riveting to extroverted, popular people, but I've been looking forward to the Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad since last summer.  And I love my stylist.  She's super nice and is great with my hair.

I've also been watching most of the World Cup matches.  Not really with groups of people physically, but spiritually, emotionally....Twitterly.  I'll be holding my breath along with everyone else in tomorrow's match between the US and Germany.  I'm rooting for both of them to make it through the group, preferably with a draw or US win, because Germany has a goal difference cushion so I wouldn't have to worry too much about them.

All of these highly-social engagements have given me plenty of opportunity to knit, but not a lot of time to take pretty pictures of it.  So I'll have to keep you in suspense a while longer. But I am really enjoying my Twist of Death. Right now it's just knitting and knitting around and around, but the yarn is soft and pretty.  I'm toying with the idea of adding beads to the rib at the collar, but I haven't committed to it yet.

Maybe that's a decision for next WIP Wednesday. In the meantime, you can find more at Tami's Amis.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: Scrambled Cadbury Cream Egg Cookies

I love Cadbury Creme Eggs.  I am not alone in this.  Recently, one of my favorite food bloggers, Vanilla Sugar, recently tweeted:
Amazing how fast the weight comes off when you drop ice cream, Cadbury Eggs & strawberry shortcake from your diet. No?
Indeed it is.

I still have a precious few Cadbury Creme Eggs stashed away in my freezer from this season's Easter haul.  That's my preferred way to eat them: fresh from the freezer, with the chocolate hard enough that I can bite into it to crack it and then eat the little shards while saving the creamy center for last.  Freezing them is the only way for the center to still be relatively intact and not completely all over my fingers by the end.

There are two ways to look at why I made these cookies.  The first is that I generously sacrificed part of my Creme Egg stash for the sake of the tastier klatch good.  The second is that I just wanted to see if it would work and was once again experimenting on my coworkers' taste buds.

I'm going to go with a little bit of both.  Either way, these are yummy.  I like Sally's recipe because the cookie is soft and fluffy, which pairs really well with the milky chocolate shell and fondant creme.

Scrambled Cadbury Creme Egg Cookies
Recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction: THE Chocolate Chip Cookie

My notes:
  • Instead of chocolate chips, I chopped up about 8 Cadbury Creme Eggs and mixed those into my cookie dough.
  • To chop up the Creme Eggs without making a gooey mess, place the eggs in the freezer at least overnight.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Inspiration Saturday: Om my mind

Habits, rituals, customs, routines.  Whatever you call them, I love them.  I'm not a surprise type of person, I like to plan things well ahead of time and take as much pleasure as possible in looking forward to them.  Whether it's something that comes once every year, like Wimbledon (starting Monday, I already have some strawberries and 'cream' to watch with), or once a week, like froyo Fridays with my fellow knitters, I love expected pleasures.

And one of those more frequently occurring expected pleasures is Wednesday evening yoga practice, followed by Indian dinner at Tarka with my dad.  Along with the weekly coffee klatch with my coworkers and the fact that it is, after all, Hump Day, yoga and a veggie curry makes Wednesdays one of my favorite days, and almost certainly my favorite workday.

So even though this is called Inspiration Saturday, here's some inspiration from earlier in the week.  Just random thoughts, projects, and tastes:

Photo credit: Bonnie Pruitt
I know I already mentioned one pair of yoga socks last week, but these caught my attention because of the yarn they're knit with.  I love the colors of self-striping yarn like Felici, but I'm not always sure how I want to use it to make best use of the stripes without being overpowered by them.  I like the way this twisted rib breaks up the stripes just a bit without losing them totally.  Plus, like having bright pink running shoes, having ridiculous rainbow yoga socks will make me smile even as I'm pushing my heels down just a little bit more in downward dog.

Photo credit: Lime Scented
I think it would also be nice to have some wrist warmers that could, like the yoga socks, keep my extremities a bit warmer while not impeding my grip.  There are plenty to choose from, but I like the idea of the slouchy cables on these, and making them long enough to start above my elbow.  That way I can wear my tank while I'm running on the treadmill before yoga, then when I'm leaving my shoes in my locker I can grab these and stay warm as I cool down and stretch.

Finding my happy place
At the end of every practice, we go into 'final resting pose', which is basically lying on the ground, relaxing all of your muscles and your mind for about five full minutes.  The instructor, in her very soothing voice, tells us to think of a place where we were happy, and to let your thoughts drift in and out like clouds, not to hang onto them.  So I've started making Kefalonia my go-to place in my mind. It's a Greek island that I've been to just a handful of times when I was younger with my grandparents.  Here's a photo that I took back in the days of film and scanned in a few years ago:
It's probably pretty obvious from this photo why my mind would go there when instructed to think of a relaxing time. I particularly like to imagine that I'm floating in the sea, just being taken by the current, and any random thoughts that pop up from the day I just let pass me by on the waves.  It's also perfect because I can concentrate on the sensory details of warm sun, salty sea water, and softly crashing waves to try and keep the random thoughts at bay.  Or on shore, as it were.

Tark-ya very much
One of the thoughts I have to let pass me by in my Greek daydream is deciding what I'm going to eat at Tarka.  I think my favorite dish is Chana Saag, a chickpea curry with a kind of creamed spinach.  So good especially ordered with extra veggies and a side of roti bread.  No need for rice.
Photo credit: Budget Bytes
One of these days I think I'll try and make this myself.  This recipe from Budget Bytes seems relatively simple.  The only ingredient that I don't usually have on hand is the fresh ginger.  There's even a recipe for homemade naan, but I still haven't quite ventured into cooking with yeast.  Maybe a flatbread is the right place to start.  My dad always orders garlic naan with his curry.  While I like to rotate around various veggie curries (aloo gobi, vegetable vindaloo, chana masala), he almost always sticks to his usual chicken tikka masala.

So while I continue to enjoy the weekend and dread Monday morning, at least I can still look forward to Wednesday.

What's your favorite day of the week?  Why?  Have you ever tried yoga?  Is final resting pose your favorite part as well?  How about Indian food?  Lots of questions for you to choose from today!  Don't forget to check out the patron blogging saint of Inspiration Saturdays, Woolen Diversions.

Friday, June 20, 2014

FO Friday: Peeps and Pops

This week's two FOs are very different projects.  The first was yet another swap handmade, a relatively simple pattern in basic black but a luxurious fiber content.  The second was a spur-of-the-moment cast on for myself with lace and a rainbow of colors.

First, Bow Peep's Black Sheep:
I already have plans to make another one of these for myself, because it's such a clever knit.  It's so simple, just knits and purls with some increases and decreases to create the shape of a beautifully tied bow.  Then you just block it flat.

I actually think that tying the bow each time you wear it would be more challenging than knitting it, but then again I've always found that challenging, along with most of the other aspects of gift wrapping.  The yarn was a perfect compromise between wanting the soft halo but not wanting mohair.  And as a bonus it didn't require me to knit double.

And then, the colorful sugar rush that is 198 Licks of the Lollipop:
This knit up so fast!  Partly because it's a wee little shawlette, but also because it was just so much fun to watch the colors coming and going.  Although this was cast on to sooth the panic of having cast off the bow and never wanting to go more than a few hours without something on the needles, I had been planning on making this for some time, so it also feels good to cross something off of my list.

As I say, it is very wee, so I'll have to see how easily it stays put around my neck.  My preferred method of wearing triangle shawls is with the tip in front and the other points wrapped around my neck all the way.  After blocking this makes it all the way around, but without much to spare.  I might use some kind of pin, or sew a button onto the two end points that can fasten into any of the yarnovers.

How do you wear shawls?  Have you finished up anything recently?  You can find more FO Fridays floating all around the interwebz.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Group of death, Twist of Death

Anyone else been watching all of the World Cup matches?  I'm loving it.  And like most things I love, it's made even better by sharing it with people on Ravelry.  A group of us are just chatting away and sharing the projects we're knitting while the players run up and down the pitch.

I actually finished my colorful shawl over the weekend, and I also blocked my bow (stay tuned for those this Friday), so I decided to be a little crazy and cast on another garment with inset sleeves with the vague goal of trying to finish it before the end of the tournament.  That's why I'm calling it the Twist of Death.

The pattern, Twist Pullover, was featured on the cover of knit.wear a few issues ago, and was knit in yarn from one of Austin's own local dyers, so it was on my radar for quite some time.  Nearly two years, but whose counting?  I bought the yarn, in the same colorway in fact, in the Yarn Crawl last year.  After digging around the house for a while to rediscover the magazine, I went to the extreme lengths of, gasp, swatching:
I got the stitch gauge, but not the rows, so I'm just going to have to fudge those.  I've cast on 292 stitches and knit the first few rows, but I'm not sure what my chances are of actually finishing this before the final goal of the World Cup.  As guaranteed as the Netherlands advancing, or as impossible as Spain, or somewhere in between?

Are you watching the 'footie'?  For more WIP Wednesday posts, go to Tami's Amis.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: Monster Blondies

After my foray into wittily-named baked goods, I started thinking of these as 'Zombie Marilyns', but I already had to explain what Monster Blondies were, so getting any more witty would have negatively impacted understanding.  And since my work is all about creating understandable, usable content, it would be ironic for me to name these something that confused them and kept them from being able to eat them.

Basically, I took smitten kitchen's wonderful base recipe for infinitely adaptable blondies and overloaded it with even more add-ins than she allows for (making them into monsters), then used a much larger pan to make them thinner.  They end up a little more like thick cookie bars than brownies.  But really, I'm not sure where the line is drawn between blondies and cookie bars.  They are moist like fudgy brownies, but with the slight chewiness of a cookie.  Making them thinner also allowed me to slice them into long, narrow triangles rather than the usual small square.

I also tried to get a little cute with my photo for these treats.  Since they had 'Monster' in the name, I wanted to take their picture with my own knitted monster, Union Jack.  And because I had cut them into triangles, it seemed like a fun idea to arrange them like bunting for a little monster party.  Here's the best picture I was able to take:

Now, while I think this is adorable, it's not really the best way to feature the recipe.  So I took a slightly more boring but informative photo as well.  I'm just going to have to rely on the colors of the Mini M&Ms to draw you into the deliciousness.

Monster Blondies
Recipe from smitten kitchen: blondes, infinitely adaptable
Makes a 9" x 13" pan

My notes:
  • I added about 1 1/2 cups assorted chocolate candies: Mini M&Ms, chopped Snickers, Brookside Dark Chocolate Pomegranate, some nuts, etc. 
  • I baked my blondies in a 9" x 13" pan lined with parchment paper. This is about twice the size of the pan originally used, so you get a thinner blondie that's more like a thick cookie bar than a blond brownie.
  • I cut my pan of blondies in half longwise and then sliced narrow triangles from that.
  • I also substituted about half of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour.  You know, to make it healthy.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Proofs and penalties, or a random World Cup memory

I'm learning in my professional life the importance of having a good manager, but as I student I always knew the value of a good teacher.  I had a really great math teacher in high school, Mr. Spiller.  How great?  After taking his class as a Freshman, a large handful of nerds, myself included, took a summer school course with him so that after one year of Pre-Calculus with another teacher, we could spend our Junior and Senior years taking two more years of Calculus with him.  It's a testament both to our irredeemable nerdery and to his coolness as a teacher.  His walls were plastered with pop culture posters and a collection of Pez dispensers, but aside from that, he was just very good at teaching math.  It was worth six weeks of unnaturally early (for a teenager) summer mornings to be in his class as much as possible.

What on Earth does all of this have to do with the World Cup, you might ask?  Well, that summer just happened to be 2006, when Germany hosted the World Cup and the United States, like today, found itself in a group with Ghana.  Their match happened to take place at the same time as a test.  This was back in the day when, being the nonconformist that I was in the midst of football-crazed Texas, the only sports I paid any attention to were tennis and soccer.  Knowing this, Mr. Spiller, as he made the rounds up and down the aisles during the test, slipped me a piece of paper with the score of the match in-progress.

Since then, I have inexplicably become a crazed fan of a few more sports, including football, and at least vaguely proficient in discussing several others.  I've accumulated many memories over the course of those years (for example: Go Spurs Go!).  But this one still ranks as one of my favorites.  And we didn't even win.

At the time of this posting, we've just entered halftime for another US-Ghana match.  I hope we win this one...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Inspiration Saturday: 380 meters of DK

For the long-term swap that I'm in, we often chat in Ravelry, asking questions both general (what's your favorite animal?) and specific but theoretical.  Like, 'What would you like knit for you out of 380 meters of DK yarn?'  Tasked with finding the answer to this query, I did one of the always-dangerous browsing searches on Ravelry patterns.

Here are just a few correct solutions to the equation:

Knitting + DK weight yarn + 0-380 meters =

Photo credit: sweetp
I like the texture of this cable-that-isn't-a-cable, it gives interest to office mitts that look warm but not bulky.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but I most definitely need mitts for my office.  I've never experienced claustrophobia, but earlier this week I feel as though I went through something like it, but instead of panic due to being trapped in a small space, it was panic due to being trapped in a cold space.  So really these are medical mitts.

Photo credit: The Woolly Brew
Breezy is the word that comes to mind with this shawl.  Good for keeping around in the summer when the outside is burning up but the inside could be a bit chilly.  This way you have something for your neck that's pretty without looking like you've got a touch of heat stroke madness and think you are a character from 'Dr Zhivago'.

Photo credit: Diana Rozenshteyn
I just think this looks so pretty, I can't think of anything else to say about it.  Pretty.

Photo credit: Amy Vincent Photography
Again, the honeycomb texture looks interesting and insulating without bulk.  Also, I love honey.  Especially when stirred into some plain Greek yogurt for breakfast before walking down to the beach in Kefalonia...but there might be a cumulative effect of the awesomeness of being on a Greek island that the bees can't take credit for.

Photo credit: Alana Braedley
With the way the rib goes around these mitts, they just look like they would fit really nicely.  Otherwise, they are just the kind of simple knit that makes me wonder about perhaps using a crazy variegated yarn, just because you can.

Photo credit: stitchnerd
Recently I've been drawn to the look of the long cowls that can be twisted and worn doubled over.  And this one has an interesting stitch to it.

Photo credit: Lori Owen. Stitchy Love Thing 2013
Since going to yoga seems to be my new Wednesday fitness class of choice, it would be nice to have some yoga socks.  They are meant to keep your feet warm while leaving your toes and heels free to grip the floor so you don't slide ungracefully out of your downward dog.  Worth a try!

And of course these are just a few of the patterns I found myself clicking and imagining either knitting for myself or receiving in the swap.  Could I decide what to tell them in the swap thread?  No, not really.  But they know me, so they understand:
Haha Decisive Joanna is Decisive! :D
What would you ask for out of 380 meters of DK in a swap?  For more inspiration, go to Woolen Diversions.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Somewhere under the rainbow

Yesterday I caught some early Judy Garland films on Turner Classic Movies they were playing for her birthday.  It's amazing how easily you can be sucked into these old movies.  Not just because there are no commercials to break the spell, but because even the ones you've never heard of are just plain fun to watch.  Plus, there's usually at least one face that I recognize from some long-lost memory in the corner of my brain.

Like seeing Steve in 'Broadway Melody of 1938' and realizing that that's a younger Jed Clampett from 'The Beverly Hillbillies', known in real life as Buddy Ebsen.  Apparently he was also going to be the Tin Man in 'The Wizard of Oz', but he was allergic to the metallic make-up.  And then Margaret Hamilton, who did play the Wicked Witch of the West, was in 'Babes in Arms'.  Dorothy was just picking up people from all over Judy's roster.

While the early films have some catchy tunes, they can't compete with the decades of ear worm power that 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' has.  So that's been stuck in my head.  There are definitely worse songs I could be held hostage by.  I find myself humming it as I knit my newest work in progress, 198 Licks of the Lollipop.  It started like this on Friday morning:
And by yesterday morning, here it was again:
Now it's like a rainbow coming over the horizon instead of a sunrise.  I only created the project page yesterday and nearly named it after the rainbow.  But since the Knit Picks Chroma colorway is called Lollipop, it makes me think of that classic question: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?  Which I could never figure out because I never really licked a Tootsie Pop like that.

It's been a while since I've done a lacy shawl, so it feels good to get back to that, and this is such a quick knit.  It's relatively simple, the only thing I notice which would have tripped me up in my earlier crafting days is that this pattern does involve some knit stitches throughout the wrong side, as opposed to most which are just purling straight across apart from the edges.  So you just have to be able to recognize a knit from a purl stitch and stop yourself from just purling away like a fool until you get to the end.

What are you working on right now?  What's your favorite Judy Garland movie?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: Chuckledoodles

Normally I would give these a 'real' name and save the witticisms for my own inner giggles, but I just love this one too much.

It was a while ago that I reduced root beer into something like corn syrup.  After making Creamy Root Beer Float Bars, I was waiting for another good way to transform a recipe that used regular corn syrup and give it some root beer edge.  It needed to be something that took advantage of the root beer, not something where there was just a tablespoon of syrup and no one would be any the wiser.

What I love about these is that they take the innate spiciness of root beer and translate it into a cookie that's traditionally a different kind of spicy: the snickerdoodle.  Where those are usually cinnamon sugar coated, I thought that the addition of clove would bring out some of the sassafras-ness of the root beer. Because these don't have any egg, they are more chewy and dense than the snickerdoodles I usually have.  But I think that would make them perfect for topping with some frothy frosting, or sandwiching around some ice cream.

Because I am never not thinking about a root beer float.

Adapted from Karo Syrup: Alphabet Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup reduced root beer*
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
* To reduce root beer: pour several cans of root beer into a heavy-bottomed pan and simmer until it has reduced to the consistency of corn syrup, stirring occasionally and making sure it doesn't burn.

  1. Cream butter and peanut butter with reduced root beer and sugar.  Mix in vanilla extract and salt.
  2. Mix in flour until combined.  Place dough in the fridge if needed to make it more workable.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°.  In a small bowl, combine sugar and spices.  
  4. Form dough into balls (about a tablespoon per ball) and roll in sugar spice mixture.  Place on cookie sheet and flatten using the bottom of a glass or jar.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes until the edges are golden and have set.  Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Inspiration Saturday: Stash additions from Yellow Rose Fiber Fiesta

I love fiber festivals.  Aside from the yarn and fiber temptations, we've gone to so many by now that the indie dyers are more like friends we're visiting than companies we are patronizing.

But that doesn't mean I didn't do some patronizing as well:
First, an adorable shirt.  Because it's adorable.  And I'll wear it.

Then, two yarns from my favorite, Heavenly Fiber:
This is Stellar 100 Sock Yarn in Dune Shadows.  It's a grey without any yellow tones, plus a dash of purple.  I found myself gravitating towards different greys all day, so it only makes sense that I'd leave with at least one.

And then, a gradient:

Stardust Sock in Perfect Princess has a little bit of sparkle to it, which I love.  I think this is going to be a shawl.

Finally, Silk Cloud from Darn Good Yarn:
This is a fair trade yarn, all made from silk waste.  I just couldn't resist.

After perusing the aisles of the fiesta and making these tough decisions, I'm sorry I don't have much mental strength for blogging.  In fact, I had to give myself some time to recover after getting home before I even attempted to start writing.  Shopping can be very tiring.  Especially when you are trying to restrain yourself from buying everything.  But hopefully you enjoyed the pretty yarn as much as I'm planning to.

Have you been to fiber festivals?  What's your favorite part?  For more inspiration, go to Woolen Diversions.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Summer really is here

We had such a dream of a spring this year in Texas, it's been kind of a rude reminder in the past week or so that it really is over and it's time for the blistering reality of summer.  We're just flirting with highs in the 90s right now, but soon enough we'll be counting up the days that we reach the triple digits and hoping that that count doesn't reach triple digits.

But as we bid farewell to open windows and comfortable walks outdoors, we do welcome peach season.  Stands are already popping up along the side of the road touting fresh Fredericksburg peaches.  After last year's sad crop, this season is apparently full of juicy, sweet peaches, and I can't wait to bite into them.  And maybe squirrel away a few extra for pureeing into some kind of delicious peach butter or something.  Mmm...

Thankfully, the warmer weather doesn't really change my crafting habits.  I pieced together all of the rows of my quilt last Saturday, so they are all rolled up, waiting to be sewn together and become a completed top:

After that, I'll have to figure out exactly what the back of the quilt is going to be.  I'm going to a fabric store this weekend (on the way to a fiber festival - yay!), so I'll be investigating the possibilities there.

I've also made good progress on my bow, I think I only have about 10% left:

That's about 5% knitting, plus 5% for the blocking and end-weaving.  And of course, I'll save the water from the blocking to water the flowers.  Water conservation is always important, but especially in the summer.

What finally made you realize it was summer, or are you still in denial?  What are you looking forward to the most?  For more WIP Wednesday posts, visit Tami's Amis.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer of cinema: Destry Rides Again

It's strange the memories that take hold in the mind, isn't it?  Not just which events, but what aspects of it stick.  When I was a kid, my best friend and I would go with our parents to the Paramount Theater, for what I think was a season of family-friendly stage shows.  After that we would go for dinner across the street.  I have some vague memories of sitting in the theater (of course, I remember it as being much bigger than it actually is) and eating dinner (I want to say there was soft serve ice cream), but most of all I remember the drive home.  I'm not sure why the clearest mental snapshot I have is of us all in the car, just after exiting the highway and turning off the frontage road.  I suppose it's a lot like buying a young child a fancy new toy and having them play with the box.

But still, every time I pass the Paramount, I think of those times and smile.  And this summer, I plan on indulging often in nostalgia, both personal and cinematic, because I've bought a Flix Tix pass for their Summer Classic Film series, good for ten admissions over the course of the next few months.  And that means it's good for at least ten blog posts about the movies I go to see.

Last week, I bought my booklet of tickets and used the first one to see a classic I hadn't seen before, and hadn't actually heard much about: 'Destry Rides Again'.

I've always been a bigger fan of Western comedies than Western dramas, and this one stars James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich to boot.  Pun absolutely intended.  I'll pretty much give any movie with Jimmy a try, and this doesn't disappoint.  If only there were more cowboys like him roaming around Austin, drinking milk and whittling napkin rings.

The movie is also apparently a heavy influencer of 'Blazing Saddles', a Mel Brooks movie that I've been watching since way before it was age-appropriate, so it was kind of cool to see the seeds of that here.  Especially noticing how spot-on Madeline Kahn's version of Marlene Dietrich's version of a saloon showgirl.

This is one of those easy-to-watch classics that I think everyone can enjoy, whether you come into it with a crush on Jimmy Stewart or having no idea who Marlene Dietrich is.  A great start to my cinematic summer!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: Caramel Applesauce Bread Pudding

The other week I went down to Lockhart to try just one of the famous BBQ joints, Kreuz Market.  They are a no-frills place, with no sauce and no forks.  But they do give you a handful of slices of white bread and saltine crackers to go with your meat.  I prefer to go with other sides, like coleslaw and sauerkraut, though, so I always have bread leftover.  Not one to waste, I decided to make another bread pudding.

When it comes to homemade versus store-bought, I'm adorably unpredictable.  Which is why the applesauce in this bread pudding is homemade, but some of the "bread" is actually store-bought muffin breakfast bars.  I've discovered that applesauce is the perfect way to use up apples that have lost their crunch.  Just chop them up (I don't even bother peeling), cook down with a little liquid, then blend down.  Sometimes I even mix in some other fruits for a berry applesauce.  Yum!

But if you have some leftover homemade muffins and store-bought applesauce instead, that works too.  I would use unsweetened, though, because the caramel and other sugar already makes these sweet enough. 

Caramel Applesauce Bread Pudding
Makes 2 dozen cupcake-sized servings

  • 7-8 cups torn pieces of leftover white bread and croissants*
  • 3 cups torn pieces of muffin bars, or leftover muffins
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup applesauce, divided in half
  • 1 pouch dulce de leche white hot cocoa mix
  • About 1/8 cup white sugar (enough to make a full 1/2 cup when combined with cocoa mix)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 6 pieces of soft caramel, chopped
* 6-8 slices of white bread and 3 mini-croissants

  1. In a very large bowl, combine breads and muffins.  Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, stir together eggs, milks, extract, half of the applesauce, cocoa mix, sugar, and salt.
  3. Pour wet mixture over the breads and muffins, mixing so that the liquid is as evenly distributed as possible.  Place in the fridge and allow to absorb for at least an hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°.
  5. Fill each lined muffin cup about halfway with the bread pudding mixture. Place a spoonful of applesauce and a few bits of caramel in each cup, then top with another spoonful of bread pudding.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.  Cool on a wire rack.