Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WIP Wednesday: IS II: The inspiration strikes back

On Saturday I shared some of my thoughts on planning a back for my first quilt.  After publishing that post, I figured out that I could make four large squares out of each of the three fabrics, and I would be able to use nine of them on the back of the quilt.

I then spent most of the rest of that evening mocking up possible piecing patterns.  I'm telling you, being able to snap quick iPhone photos, snip them on the computer and move them around in a presentation program is dangerous.  I stopped myself when I had collected more than a dozen different options.  I won't share them all with you, but these are the ones that are currently in the top running:
Feeling dizzy yet?  Me too.  But not so dizzy that I haven't been able to make some progress on the second mitt in the Mittacles pair.  It's not going as quickly as the first, which I attribute to a mitt version of second sock syndrome and a lack of sporting events to watch while I knit.  I'm aiming to finish the pair, thumbs and all, by the end of the month at least.

Do you have a preference, looking at the quilt back options?  Rock the vote!  And check out more WIP Wednesday posts at Tami's Amis.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer cinema: The Heiress

Every once in a while at school, a class would be replaced with a movie.  Usually one with at least a modicum of relevance to the subject of the class.  Once, in our Government class, while the teacher presumably caught up on grading tests/papers/worksheets, we were treated to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  I'll never forget how all of the girls sighed over Jimmy Stewart.  Filibusters and grafts, all of the political lessons were lost on the dreaminess of this classic film star.

That memory popped into my head as I was watching The Heiress at Paramount last week.  Because like my fellow students by Stewart way back when, I was totally and utterly distracted by the beauty of one Montgomery Clift.
Who could possibly blame the naive titular heiress for falling in love with him?  For the first half of the film, while he woos her despite her comedic awkwardness and her father's suspicions, I knew it was too good to be true, but I kind of just wanted the movie to end right there and pretend that I could also be ridiculously awkward and win the affections of a Clift-lookalike.  Except I don't have the equivalent of millions in inheritance coming to me.  Hmm, a small hitch.

Olivia de Havilland won an Oscar for her role in this, presumably because the Academy was enthralled by her dramatic portrayal of the spurned young lady, but my favorite part of her performance was as the slightly comedic and highly awkward girl Clift seduces.  She was such a great mix of lovely and endearing but completely hopeless.  I love the scene when Clift comes to visit and they are left alone in the drawing room.  I might not be as gullible as de Havilland's character, but I might be just as awkward in the same room as him.

So I have another classic Hollywood hunk to add to my list of timeless crushes.  Although I'm not sure I'll ever be able to trust him...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Inspiration Saturday: Back in the future

I've just finished up the main leg of a Fabric Shop Hop here in Austin, so I have sewing on the brain.  I was most uncharacteristically restrained and only bought a few new fabrics for my stash.  Tomorrow we're going to visit one last shop, though, so I shouldn't speak too soon.

Of course, I tell myself that I will make lovely things out of all of my stash.  Many new project ideas are swirling in my head.  But the pragmatist in me is also inspired by finishing the sewing I've already started.  That is, I'm thinking about what the back of my Taking the subway to Sewing Town quilt is going to look like.

As a reminder, here's how the front turned out:
I bought some batting the other week, and I also picked up yardage of four of the fabrics I used on the front as fat quarters:
I bought extra extra of the one on the far left, because I think it would make an adorable box pleat skirt.  And now I'm thinking that because the other three are so predominantly gray, I should just stick with those three for the quilt back.  I have a yard and a quarter of each, which should be more than enough.  Now I just have to figure out how to put them together.

So right now I'm dealing with a 'fun' (read: torturous) puzzle.  And I'm having flashbacks to old math classes as I work out the measurements.  I've done some quick Google searches and Pinterest browsing for quilt back ideas, but I'm open to suggestions.  What do you think?

And once again, shoutout to Woolen Diversions, the founder of Inspiration Saturdays!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Sixteen tentacles down...

How do the weeks just keep going by?  Somehow I get from Wednesday to Wednesday, and I'm not always sure what's happened in between.  I have vague visions of meetings, frozen yogurt, and, of course, knitting.  But mostly I'm just working my way to another Friday afternoon for the respite that is the weekend.

Maybe if I had as many hands as an octopus has tentacles I'd be able to get more done.  As it is, I've finished the first in the Mittacles pair:
I definitely prefer the high contrast of the red and blue to the turquoise and blue I began with.  The strip of pink is for the thumb which I haven't added yet.  I decided I would rather get going on the second mitt and tackle both thumbs at the end, so I don't forget what I did between one and the other.

Overall, I'm really liking this colorwork.  It's actually easier changing the colors every few stitches than the projects I've done in the past where I needed to carry yarn for much longer stretches, which messed with my tension sometimes.  I'm only on the start of the rib on the second mitt, because it's been that kind of week.  But soon there will be more tentacles on the horizon.

What animal hybrid would make you more productive?  The nocturnal nature of an owl?  Or do you just want to be lazy like a koala?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: Quinoa Chocolate Cupcakes

When it comes to recipes that are healthy or accommodate some kind of special dietary requirement, I prefer those with two qualities:
  1. They don't require ingredients whose purpose is solely for that dietary requirement.
  2. They taste good enough that people with no desire to be healthy crave them.
That means that I tend to stay away from gluten-free recipes that use fancy flours.  Yes, I would like to one day experiment with them just to see what they are like, but my baking pantry is bursting enough with just all-purpose, cake, self-rising, and whole wheat flours, I don't really have room for others.  Things like corn meal, oatmeal, and quinoa I already have on hand, so I tend to seek out recipes that utilize those.

And of course, describing a baked good as primarily 'good for you' is like describing a potential blind date as having a good personality.  It may very well be true, but it's not the first impression that's going to inspire a first bite or a first date.

These cupcakes meet both of my requirements perfectly.  First of all, it uses leftover cooked quinoa, so it's perfect for dessert after making some stuffed tomatoes.  And because you blend the quinoa, you end up with a gorgeously moist cake that reminds you of a decadent flour less chocolate cake, the ultimate example of something that is gluten-free practically as an afterthought.  

Plus, being quinoa, it's not just about the lack of gluten.  It's also about being a superfood with lots of protein and qualities that allow you to feel completely self-righteous as you lick frosting from your lips.

Quinoa Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from A Dusting of Sugar: Chocolate Quinoa Cake

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 cup sweetened cocoa (hot cocoa mix)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine milk, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl.  Add quinoa and butter.  Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, cocoas, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and stir until combined.
  5. Divide evenly between cupcake liners, about half full.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For frosting, make a double batch of cdkitchen: Easy Cocoa Frosting

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Inspiration Saturday: Rather Be (in Tokyo)

I know I mentioned a while ago my intentions of rebranding this blog, and I'm still planning on doing that.  I'm just still in the consideration and procrastination phase.  But I'm already thinking about some of the things I'd like to write about.  One of those things is music.  I'm not a huge music aficionado, but I think everyone lives their life with their own soundtrack, and every song means something different to each person, depending on when, where, and how they heard it.  Exploring all of the ways we identify with music, and the sometimes surprising reactions I have to music, continues to fascinate me.

So perhaps consider this a kind of sneak preview of the things I'd like to write about in the (hopefully near) future...

For many years, I had a morning ritual every school day that included spending a little time watching music videos, flipping between VH1 and MTV to pass the time before I needed to walk out to meet the bus or (for the last few years) drive myself to school.  Now, when I'm working from home, I occasionally like to indulge in some melodic nostalgia and do the same channel surfing.  That's how I found this music video about halfway through, which caught my eye when I recognized the Yamanote train line.  I immediately went to YouTube to watch the whole thing, and I've since replayed it several times over and had the song stuck in my head.  And so, I pass it along to you, "Rather Be" by Clean Bandit, featuring Jess Glynne:
Tokyo!  And not just Tokyo, but some of the lesser-known but extra-special bits that maybe not everyone will recognize.  The fish market, which I've wandered around quite a bit of in search of our favorite conveyor belt sushi restaurant; the Yamanote line train, which my dad loves and even downloaded an album of ringtones from; and the quintessential yakitori on the grill serving straight-faced businessmen (before the burst into song), which just rings so true.

It's enough to bring my always-latent desire to return to Tokyo up to sigh-inducing levels.  But since that won't be happening any time soon, I should probably just focus on making something out of the yarn I bought the last time I was there from Avril yarn store in Kichijoji.  And maybe drink a cup of Karel Capek tea, which I've been hoarding and drinking only on very special occasions.

Are you also from the TRL generation?  Do you have any favorite music videos?  Do you ever watch them now?  Alicia from Woolen Diversions is having a hopefully great time on her honeymoon right now, but I'm sure she'll have lots of inspiration from Costa Rica when she returns.

Friday, July 18, 2014

FO Friday: Twist of Triumph

Let me just take a moment to say: Hurrah Germany!  They weren't my first choice for World Cup champions, but it is the land where at least two great things were born: Wollmeise yarn, and me!  I kid, I kid.  But did you know,  both Wollmeise and I come from the same town?  Pfaffenhofen.  Of course, the yarn store wasn't there when I was there, and being three years old when we left, I probably wouldn't have had much use for yarn, but still.  Just one more reason to want to visit my birthplace again.

So anyway, I was rooting for Germany in Sunday's match.  And I enjoyed it all the more because I wasn't having to rush to finish my Twist of Death.  Despite losing two days of knitting to lack of yarn, I was able to finish up the sleeves on Friday.  The finishing was a team effort, which means that my mother was kind enough to sew the sleeves in for me.  What can I say, she's awesome like that.  I did complete the weaving in of the ends, the blocking, and the modeling, though.  Of course, Mom did take the photos.  So, um, still a team effort.  We took the photos pre-blocking to make sure that I could post them before the end of the tournament, so there's not as much rolling at the edges now.

I love how many ways there are to wear this:
Style #1: Open front
Style #2: Wrapped front
Style #3: Open back
Speaking of team efforts, I'm going to give a shoutout to one of Mom's FOs this Friday as well, because I played a vital role in it.  Behold, from my handspun yarn:
I had totally forgotten that the yarn I spun ended up being fingering weight, so she had plenty of yarn for this shawl.  There was a little bit of unevenness between the hanks, but nothing you can really notice.  And I love the way the colors worked up:
I'm not doing the Tour de Fleece this year, and I missed out on a recent wheel spinning course at an LYS last week, but this definitely makes me want to spin some more.

In the meantime, though, I have more WIPs that need to turn into FOs.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: Pomegranate Chocolate Quinoa Cookies

Even though I'm never the first to try one of the new food trends, I do get there eventually most of the time.  Especially when it comes to overnight health sensations.  So forgive me, because there's going to be a lot of quinoa coming up in my cubicle kitchen.

I told you about my quinoa-stuffed baked tomatoes the other week.  Well, after filling the tomatoes with not just quinoa but onions, spinach, and an egg, there was still plenty of quinoa left for other purposes.  And by other purposes, I usually mean baking treats.  Turns out, there are all kinds of uses for quinoa in goodies, and for the most part you can treat it like you would oatmeal.  As in, when making oatmeal muffins, substitute the same amount of cooked quinoa for the uncooked oatmeal called for.

Because I also had some pomegranate arils collected, I decided to go with a cookie packed with healthy excuses to eat one more.  Between the vitamins in the pomegranate, the antioxidants of dark chocolate, and quinoa's protein power, this is practically health food.  Since breakfast cookies also seem to be pretty trendy, I think you could pass these off as one of those too.

Pomegranate Chocolate Quinoa Cookies
Recipe from hidden ponies: Chocolate Pomegranate Oatmeal Cookies

My notes:
  • I chopped up Brookside Dark Chocolate Pomegranate instead of just chocolate chunks to amp up the pomegranate factor
  • I substituted equal amounts of cooked quinoa for quick-cooking oats
  • The quinoa makes the cookies really moist, to the point of falling apart; I would suggest maybe adding a little flour, or some of the originally called for oatmeal, and cooking for a few more minutes or perhaps cooking them in a mini muffin tray for soft cookie bites
  • I used an ice cream scoop to get these onto the sheet because the dough is quite wet
  • Some cookies don't need the two inches of space between them on the cookie sheet, but these definitely do because they spread quite a bit

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WIP Wednesday: 15 rows forward, 14 rows back

My mother both horrifies and impresses her knitting group when she casually rips out her work when something goes wrong.  She's very adept at fixing errors by tinkling back or other means, but she has no qualms about just frogging away (rip it, rip it) whenever necessary.

Maybe I'm finally taking after her a bit in that respect, because on Monday I didn't feel overwhelmed or unsettled in my decision to undo more than a dozen rows of colorwork in my latest WIP, Mittacles.  When I first cast them on, I was planning on using the yarn I had leftover from Affection-ite, blue and turquoise.  But as the rows went on, it didn't seem like there was enough contrast between the two colors:
You can sort of see the octopus starting to emerge, but without knowing what to look for, it could end up more like a Rorschach test.  And because this is another project destined for my swap partner, I don't want to leave her guessing when she unwraps them.

So after a little contemplation and relatively little anxiety, I backtracked and now I'm a few rows into my second attempt, in which red has replaced the turquoise.  I don't have a progress photo of it, but I'm already much happier with it, because the stitches pop. If I'm going to mess around with DPNs and two different yarns, I want you to be able to see it.

Do you feel traumatized when you have to frog your work, or do you take it in stride?  Leave me a comment, then check out more WIP Wednesday posts at Tami's Amis.

Summer cinema: The Third Man

After Destry Rides Again and Guys and Dolls, I take a nerdy pleasure in the symmetry of The Third Man being the third movie I saw in the summer film series at Paramount.  This is one of those movies that I sort of knew that I should see at some point, but had never really gotten around to.  They also screened Citizen Kane as the second film in the double feature, but I had to work the next day, so that's still on my list.  'Rosebud...'

I love old movies, and this was no exception.  Intrigue, style, setting, some great chase scenes, and a lack of cynicism that you see in movies today after all of the things I've just listed have been done and done again.  As Holly Martins bumbles around in his own investigation of the death of his friend, he makes the kinds of mistakes that left me laughing, but I imagine that at the time the results of his ineptitude wouldn't have been quite as expected.  There's something refreshing about seeing twists before they became tropes.

I also learned that animals are all on the side of evil:

  • A parrot bites the protagonist
  • A cat cuddles with the shadowy figure of Orson Welles
  • A small dog plays the chihuahua to another villain's Paris Hilton
So, that was the third movie in my personal Paramount series.  I was going to see the fourth movie last week, but President Obama made an appearance at the Paramount the next morning, so presumably it was being made threat-proof instead of being filled with people who wanted to see The Red Shoes.  I'll just have to see it some other time.  Hopefully no heads of state are planning on being there on Thursday, so I'm still safe to go and see The Heiress tomorrow.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Inspiration Saturday: That's the way the cupcake Crumbs-bles

I was surprised earlier this week to read in Cupcakes Take the Cake that the cupcake chain Crumbs had closed the doors of all of its locations permanently on Monday.  I wasn't keeping close tabs on the company, but I did know that they had gone from heady claims of opening locations all over the place, including as nearby as Dallas, to seemingly retreating back to the East Coast.  But I think everyone, including the employees, were shocked to hear that they were going to go from dozens of locations to none in a matter of hours.  And so, I offer you a eulogy* for Crumbs.

I can't tell you that Crumbs had the best cupcakes.  They didn't, and likely suffered from the increasing quality of smaller competitors as well as over-expansion.  But they were my first experience with gigantamous gourmet cupcakes.

It all began on my first trip to New York to visit Sarah Lawrence College as a prospective student.  We stayed in the city to be tourists apart from one day's expedition to the campus a few train stops away.  Along with a whirlwind whip around the city, taking the Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty and going up and down the Empire State Building twice, we stopped in what was then one of just a handful of locations around Manhattan.  I had a Red Velvet cupcake, taking a photo to show just how enormous it was in comparison to my face.  The combination of cream cheese frosting and college dreams made Crumbs part bakery, part symbol for me.

Sure, Sex and the City made Magnolia the go-to place for miniature frosted cakes, but I was several years behind the uptake on that show.  I didn't watch it until my first spring semester at SLC (yay for dreams achieved!) when my roommate arrived with the complete DVD set.  Then Sprinkles took over the West Coast, and the founder judges an entire competition show on the Food Network devoted to them.  Every other food trend report seems to declare the end of the cupcake trend, making it so frequent a topic of conversation that it seems impossible that it will ever really be true.  Every 'new' cupcake, whether it's doughnuts or pies or macarons, never reaches the same frenzied peak as the cupcake did, and never even really surpasses the cupcake's current numbers.  And so they continue to be the reigning treat in the bakery, constantly inspiring new and delicious creations.

But for me, Crumbs cupcakes were the treat that I indulged in when I went into the city on the weekends.  I was never a very wild, party-going person, so my adventures in the city generally involved Strand Bookstore and cupcakes.  Sometimes I would even buy two and haul one back to my dorm room for later.  And they were the amazing gift a Ravelry friend brought me from new York when we met up near Dallas, transporting them in her carry-on just for me.

So even though I've discovered some tastier cupcakes here in Austin at Sugar Mama's Bakeshop and Toot Sweet, and even though I bake my own cupcakes these days more often than I ever buy them from someone else, there's always going to be a place in my heart and stomach for Crumbs.

*Now, according to Cupcakes Take the Cake again, there's word that the CEO is going to infuse some cash into the company and get it reopened.  Since they're coming back from the dead, maybe they can capitalize on another trend and turn their brand into...zombie cupcakes!

For more (and probably healthier) inspiration, go to Woolen Diversions.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

WIP Wednesday: A matter of time and yardage

I'm really loving what's becoming the traditional way of celebrating long weekends with my friends: gathering, noshing, and crafting.  My subway-tiled quilt has been sewn exclusively at gatherings like this, and for the 4th of July, I took another important step forward, piecing together each of the strips to form a completed front:
It's quilt-sized, yay!  That's me on my tippy-toes, so there's a good chance that the finished quilt will be legitimately large enough to sleep under without awkwardly bare toes or shoulders.  I would have loved it anyway, but it gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that it's also 'right' on its own merits.

Here's a closer look:
Yes, it's a little crazy and busy, but I like it.  It goes with the theme of the fabrics themselves, a bustling urban landscape that's a mix of organic and manmade sensory overload.

The next step will be to make a back.  I have extra yardage of four of the front fabrics that I found in the clearance section of Quilt Haus, so there are lots of options.  Probably something with larger blocks, perhaps log cabin or something.  After that, I also have the batting ready to be sandwiched in between front and back.  Finally, I'll have to think about binding, but I might already have enough fabric for that.

So the quilt is just a matter of time.  Unfortunately, my other WIP was a matter of yardage for a few days.

I am so close to finishing my Twist of Death that I could have finished one of the sleeves yesterday, leaving me with just the second sleeve and finishing work to do.  Unfortunately, my fears of not having enough yarn came true.  I think the culprit was my row gauge, which was short a row or two an inch, so I ended up knitting more rows in order to achieve the specified inches in the front and back.  I was able to finish the body of the pullover, and it fits well minus the necessary sewing up that needs to be done.  But 12 grams was all that was left after that, not enough for the sleeves.

Thankfully, Alisha, the wonderful dyer of yarn, helped me match up the pullover to the skeins she has left to try and get the closest dye lot.  I might still have time to finish this thing by the time the final whistle is blown in the World Cup, which is the ultimate goal.  Or should I say, gooooooooooooooooooooooooal.

What are you working on this week?  How did you celebrate the 4th of July?  Don't forget, there are more WIP Wednesday posts at Tami's Amis.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Inspiration Saturday: A trip to the museum

Being the party animal that I am, I think that a trip to a museum can be a really fun time.  I've been lucky enough to visit quite a few around the world.  Whether it's playing with the interactive elements at a children's museum, knitting mitts while my dad explores the train museum, or standing in front of Van Gogh's Starry Night in a traveling exhibit in Houston and promising it that I'll see it again in New York, I have a lot of memories of museums.

But there are always more to visit.  This week there were a few exhibits in particular on my radar.  Some of them may sound a little strange, but hey, I'm also a little strange.

Toilets at the Tokyo Science Museum

This popped (yes, I spelled that correctly) up on my Twitter feed from my NBC affiliate, KXAN, and I just had to click.  It's so very...Japanese.  First of all, some of the toilets that I encountered on both of my trips to Tokyo were epic in terms to features.  Musical jingles to avoid aural embarrassment, heated seats, and so many flushing options it was stressful.  It's not surprising to me that they would put on display the intricacies of a well-run waste disposal system.  And it's not surprising to me that they would offer a gigantic slide and poop hat to help make their point.

Folk Art makers' weekend at Tate Britain

Inspired by their British Folk Art exhibit (see a video here), this weekend only the Tate has a slew of really cool workshops going on.  This is another one that I found out about on Twitter when they linked to their blog post about the event.  There's embroidery, sign painting, collage, but the one I really wish I could go to is knife-carving.  You get to whittle your own spatula!  How cool does that sound?  And it reminds me of Destry Rides Again, except he whittled napkin rings.  But still, if it's good enough for Jimmy Stewart...

Chihuly at the Denver Botanic Gardens

I so enjoyed seeing the glassworks of Dale Chihuly in Phoenix earlier this year that any time I hear about something new from him I only wish I could go to see that as well.  Though I believe many of the pieces in this exhibit may be the same or similar to the ones I saw, I know that it will still be entirely different because of the different location.  Just in terms of botanics, Phoenix versus Denver offers an entirely different kind of setting for the huge pieces of blown glass.  It's running until the end of November, but I doubt that I'll go, so instead I'll just stare longingly at the gallery of pictures.

In the Company of Cats and Dogs at the Blanton Museum of Art

Here's one I probably will get to see, yay!  The closest I've been to going to Blanton in the past was when my mom knit a tree cozy for an outdoor knit bombing exhibit by Magda Sayeg.  But I've never actually gone inside.  There's so much artwork out there, I think this exhibit is a really interesting and accessible way to group some of it together.  Maybe it's hard to identify with the mixed-up faces of Picasso, but I think we all feel a connection to our animals, and have an interest in how our relationship with animals has changed throughout history.  Blending the art with some humanities and science, I think it should make for an interesting outing.

Are there any museums you would love to visit?  Particular pieces of artwork or interesting/weird exhibits you've heard about?  For more inspiration, go to Woolen Diversions.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Cubicle kitchen: Red Velvet Cookies

I bake a lot of sweet treats, but because a blogger cannot survive on cupcakes alone, I also like to do some savory cooking.  It's just not as varied.  For klatch I try to come up with something new every week, either completely or some kind of variation.  My dinners, though, tend to be a rotation of simple favorites.  Steamed broccoli with melted cheese, oven-roasted zucchini, spaghetti squash with tomato, I'm not vegetarian, I just like my veggies.

I also am a firm believer in this truth: everything is better with an egg on it.  So when my mom and I heard about a recipe for stuffing tomatoes with spinach and quinoa, we liked it.  When we realized we could also crack an egg in there, we had to try it.  We scoped out a few recipes for tomatoes stuffed with quinoa, or tomatoes with eggs baked inside, and decided that we could mostly just wing it.  We cooked up some quinoa, sautéing spinach with onions and garlic, coring out some ginormous tomatoes and filling them as we saw fit with both of those, along with some cheese and egg.

The results?


What does this have to do with Red Velvet Cookies?  Well, while purchasing the produce for the tomatoes, I spied some avocados and remembered that you could also fill those with eggs and bake them.  So we bought avocados as well, but that never made it into the roster of zucchini, squash, and broccoli.

Instead, I decided to try using them as a substitute fat in baking.  The cake mix I grabbed from a clearance end cap in Target.  I figured that, like chocolate, red velvet was a strong enough flavor that you wouldn't realize that there was avocado in there.  Because the mix asks for oil rather than butter, substituting is a little more complicated, because avocado isn't as moist.  So rather than attempting to make the original cake or cupcake, I went with the more texturally-forgiving cookie.

I also didn't attempt to replace the oil in the frosting mix with avocado, because you would definitely notice that tinge of green in the crisp of white cream cheese-flavored frosting.  I did still make a substitution, melted Brummel and Brown spread, but that's not particularly innovative.

To make these perfect for 4th of July, I would suggest either topping with a blueberry or blue star sprinkles.

Red Velvet Cookies
Adapted from Kirbie Cravings: 3 Ingredient Avocado Chocolate Cookies
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies

  • Pillbury Supreme Collection Red Velvet Cake Mix

Instead of add-ins called for on box for cake*:

  • 1/2 cup mashed avocado
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened

*Use additional ingredients as called for on box for frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cream together avocado and butter.
  3. Mix in cake mix until dough forms.
  4. Roll dough into 1" balls and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets.  Flatten balls slightly with glass or other flat-bottomed tool.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until top and edges are set.  Allow to cool for several minutes before moving to rack to cool completely.
  6. When cookies are cooled, assemble frosting as directed on box.  Frost cookies.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

WIP Wednesday: This is not SportsCenter

The only problem with my habit of falling asleep listening to SportsCenter is that when sporting events don't go my way, I end up hearing about it over and over again as I drift off.  And I'm pretty sure it has wormed its way into my dreams in some cases.

I really only need to live through the US men's soccer team loss at the World Cup yesterday once.  Every time I think of the effort that Tim Howard put into making sixteen saves on goal, ugh, I feel terrible for him that they couldn't get that win.  At the same time, though, I'm positive about some of the youngsters on the team, like Yedlin and Green.  So I still believe that we will win, it's just going to be next time.

Thankfully there's lots of other sporting news to think about.  The rest of the World Cup, of course.  Does Colombia have what it takes to beat Brazil?  If both teams play the way that they have been, I think so.  And France versus Germany, that is just made to be classic.  And Costa Rica, the final representative of the CONCACAF.

And then on some totally different blades of grass, we have Wimbledon.  Man, everyone thought that because the first Tuesday wasn't crazy like it was last year that we might be safe, but no!  We've got Czech women taking over the bracket, which I love, and teenagers running amok on the men's side.  I'm sad that Nadal and Murray are both out of the running, and kind of hoping the Dmitrov is able to take it to Djokovic.  Upsets are exciting, but there's also the risk that the remaining top players are able to just breeze through the final match or two, and that's not nearly as fun.

While I've been watching all of these events, I've been knitting.  And walking.  As long as I don't have to be reading a pattern at the same time, I can knit and walk fairly comfortably.  So far, I haven't even stepped on the cat once.  Who's the athlete now, huh?  I've finished the back of my Twist of Death, now working on the front.  It's not the most interesting to photograph, but this gives you an idea of how the color is working up, which I really like, it's very denim-like:
I'm a little afraid that I won't have enough yarn, but I should, so hopefully I'm just being paranoid.  Once I finish the front I shouldn't need much to join it together with the back again and make the little sleeves.  And when I think about it like that, it doesn't seem so crazy to have this done before the end of the World Cup.  Winner!

Do you watch sports while you knit?  Or maybe knit while others watch sports?  For more WIP Wednesday posts, go to Tami's Amis.