Sunday, January 31, 2010

:: vessels ::

Over the past month I acquired some fantastic new vessels*. Some given, some found, and one purchased. Now I'm having fun filling {and emptying} them.

:: The given ::
A cloth sandwich bag sewn by Nik. It makes lunchtime funtime.

Some fantastic pottery made by my sister Kris. So beautiful and useful ~ one's filled with candy, another with jewelry and the third should have a cactus, but I accidentally left that in PA {their native ground}.

:: The found ::

This amazing {and heavy} set of metal office drawers. Found by the dumpster at school ~ imagine how excited I was!
The pictures are a bit dark, but I couldn't wait to photograph it before filling it with goodies.

The drawers don't have a top, but I'm sure my pop can come up with something beautiful and made of wood. Along those lines, this could make a great little work table for some of my crafts ~ keeping the supplies in the drawers. OR We could add a butcher block top for use in the kitchen and the drawers could be filled with spices or utensils. fun fun!For now the unit is under my bed, still giving access to the drawers, but making the lack of top not a big deal.

This next vessel was a surprise from my parents' barn. We don't know how long it was there, but it's been a while. With a little research, we found out that Peacock was a company that shipped fruit {mainly grapes} from California. I've replaced the grapes with yarn {of course}.

:: The purchased ::

I found this lovely little mustard jar in the imported foods section of the grocery store. It's filled with sweet mustard from the Bavaria, Germany. Needless to say, this is the vessel that requires the emptying, but that shouldn't be too hard. I spent a couple of weeks in Bavaria one December, hopping from one Christmas festival to the next. Opening this mustard immediately transported me back to a breakfast we had of white beer and white sausages. yum.

The jar's made of glass and here's a familiar can for perspective.

*I think I'm using this word a bit liberally as none of my vessels are boats, blood vessels, found in xylem, or people, but I do have a bowl or two*

Friday, January 29, 2010


**ETA: I just finished this post and noticed another Schu trying to survive the cold.

Holy cold. I'm retaliating the only way I know how::

It's a mobius cowl! Wrapped around my neck twice. So comfy I wore it to sleep last night.

This was made with some Malabrigo scraps {the white/light blue rows} and Misti Alpaca Baby Me Boo {the blue variegated rows}; it's a cozy combination of alpaca, wool, and bamboo!

The pattern's from A Treasury of Magical Knitting ~ the Sage Rhythm wrap without the fringe.

If it gets too warm around my neck, I can unwrap it and wear it like this::
This is the first mobius cowl I knit for Nik a couple of years ago ~ that time a blizzard struck and we were trapped in the house, knitting without electricity for four days... it looks like there's a correlation between extreme winter weather and mobius knitting!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Soundtrack Wednesday

No video, but some great words. Click here for the day's song.

It's from Tom Flannery, a songwriter from Scranton, PA. Yes, good old PENNA.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Good Stuff

It's only been the last couple of years that I've made resolutions. I'm big on resolutions that focus on the creative and social sides of life. And for good reason... when I have loads of work to do, it's ok to spend an evening grinding spices and slow simmering a sauce, because, Hey! I have a resolution to keep!

The {food} resolutions this year::
(1) Expand and improve my quiche making
(2) Get a little tart; learn to make some fantastic tarts
(3) Make some great Indian dishes... my first results blogged here

I was lucky to make some of resolutions clear before the holidays, and received the goods to support my goals::

Kitchen, I have my eye on you.

I have to say, the world works in mysterious ways. See that Tartine cookbook up there? My brother gave that one to me, little did he {or I} know that I'd be eating at Tartine a week later.... and really, I didn't make the connection until I returned to Boston and had some time to browse through the book. IT'S AMAZING, just like being back in their shop. Full of extra deep quiches, bread puddings, lemon bars. So much good stuff.

When in San Francisco, stop by Tartine for lunch. You'll have a hard time getting a table, but you won't be disappointed!

If you're looking for an authentic Indian cookbook, I can't recommend Classic Indian Cooking enough. It provides a thorough description of ingredients and methods before you get to the recipes. It's one of those cookbooks that's fun to just sit down and read. During these cold, dark winters, I love to treat myself to a cup of chai. I was excited to try the chai recipe in the cookbook, but before I even got to it, Angry Chicken posted this link for Chai Concentrate! I bought the sweetened condensed milk yesterday and am going to whip up a batch this afternoon. I'll let you know how it goes.

While wondering around the Bay Area after Christmas, I came across this delicious Indian treat::It's a spicy, nutty Indian candy made made locally. A little bit like peanut brittle, but better!

There are a few new links to my side bar {look right}. One is a cooking blog called Whisk Kid ~ this is a new-to-me blog full of fun recipes and beautiful photos. How could you go wrong with a cake like this:: Rainbow Cake!

And one more food link that looked too good not to share. Here's a salad to balance out the heavy food in this post:: Vietnamese Salad. It calls for raw bok choy. I tried some in my salad last weekend, and I'm a reformed bok eater ~ from now on it's out of the soup and into the salad! *enjoy

Other resolutions?

~Remember that violin I got last year? practice, practice, practice!

~Crack open these puppies {also from my Christmas list}, and start sewing!::

~Stop biting my nails... so not all of the resolutions are fun, but it's about time to follow through on this one.

Hold me to it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The view from here ::

I showed you my refurbished desk before. Check it out here. A little update ~ the desk's treating me well, and a new keyboard was purchased to ease my computer woes!

Now for another corner of my room, my bed::The throw pillow is covered with a print by Masha D'yans. good stuff

I added a new piece of artwork recently ~ the burlap coffee bag hanging on the wall over the bed. I'd like to use it for something crafty, maybe one of these wonderful burlap baskets. I knew that the coffee sack would nag at me if I just left it as a "to-do", so I put it to use, and now there's no nagging! Plus, the coffee sack does a perfect job of adding some texture and dimension to what was once a big blank wall.

Opposite my bed there are two huge, old windows that face the roof of a quaint New England church. Here's the bell::

And here's the steeple::...I haven't opened the doors, but I'm sure it's full of people.

Having that big, blank roof out my window is almost like having a "weather rock". If the roof is wet, it's raining. If it's white, it's snowing.... and that last one is the most fun. There have been a few times this winter when I've woken up in the middle of the night to a white roof and was psyched knowing that city was blanketed with fresh snow.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday Soundtrack

Like the Chieftains' Christmas album, George Winston's December is a family favorite during the holidays... but for me it's a year-round favorite, particularly when I need some background music but don't want to be distracted by words.

Thanksgiving by George Winston, enjoy*

Monday, January 18, 2010

Parade of Christmas Crafts {sweaters}

And finally, any respectable knitting parade ends with sweaters. I have to admit, my goal was one sweater for each sibling but I fell one short. But hold me to it ~ one more Christmas knit will come off the needles year.

~ Kris' Tunic ~ This pattern is from Twinkle's Big City Knits by Wenlan Chia. I love the pattern ideas in the book, but wtf Wenlan? Why did you, your editors, whoever, think it was ok to write "knitted measurements" rather than, say, "body-sizes"? When the sweater I want to knit has a 14 inch waist and 25 inch bust, how the hell would anyone know if it's going to stretch to their size? NO CLUE.

Needless to say, when it came to knitting this sweater ~ third time's a charm.
This was knit with Lion's Brand Thick and Quick on US 15 needles for the body and US 17s for the neck. After all of that knitting, I forgot to write down my modifications, but I've put in a request with Kris. As soon as I have them, I may have to cast on for another for myself.

And unfortunately, I left town soon after giving, so I have so very few shots of the sweaters being warn by their recipients... Sarah, help?

~ Sarah's sweater ~ Sarah's Christmas list included a not-too-secret hint for an "old man cardigan". When I saw that request, I immediately thought of the last old man cardi I knit ~ this trellis for Madeline. Knitting this the first time produced such great results, that I figured it was worth the challenge to take the baby pattern and adapt it to an adult size. Truth be told, it was extremely easy ~ just use some bulky yarn and bigger needles. Cast on for the child's medium {as written in the pattern}, and started knitting. The only real differences were in length {longer body and arms} sleeve circumference {the original pattern lacked shaping in the sleeves, so I adjusted, making them fitted}, and finally, the collar {I added in a few short rows to give it some extra room to fit around the larger neck area}. Next time I think I'll even make the neck a little bit wider; I knit it 11 stitches wide, as written.
This pattern is written in pieces, but this time, like last, I eliminated as many seams as possible {knitting the sleeves in the round and the back and front sections in one piece}. I had to sew the sleeves to the body, but next time I'd like to try eliminating these seams too.

The last sweater? That would be Jeff's. He requested it years ago, and having this request hanging over my head was the impetus for the sibling sweaters this year. Eek, then one excuse led to another and I decided to give him the bag of yarn instead... I'd like to say that I've cast on, but he's still holding on to that bag of yarn!

Make way for the clean-up crew, our little parade is over. And with the {joyful}weight of the holiday crafting off my shoulders, it's time to turn my sights towards new year's creative goals and resolutions. Happy New Year*

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Parade of Christmas Crafts {hats}

For the second year in a row, I knit hats for the lads in the house.

~ for the newest Lad ~
It's my original version of the Yarn Harlot's Unoriginal Hat. I followed her pattern, but added one additional section (making 5 large cable repeats). I then added the ear flaps to cables 2 & 4, assuming cable 1 is located at the back of the head. After the hat was finished, I added a single crochet border. And that's that, an original unoriginal!

~ for the Pop ~

The botanic I gave you a sneak peak of this before, but here it is on a head::
Unfortunately I didn't get a good finished shot of it on Pop. It's on the to-do list for my next visit home {along with photographing your socks, mom}.

~ for the Brother ~
Another botanic. This one I really loved.
Knit with Malabrigo and Patons wool, the hat is nice and lightweight, drapes nicely, and is a perfectly fitting beanie. Plus, the colors are fantabulous together... I'm hoping I have enough scraps to make another one of these.

And while I was snapping away, I scored a hat trick, catching three knits in one shot. A botanic, the unoriginal, and another peak at the shopping tunic in action.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Parade of Christmas Crafts {animals}

Next up, the animals, watch where you step.

There was a minor theme associated with the Schwartz girls' gifts ~ it started with the purchase of a bed time shadow book called "Whooo's There?" {all about the animals that come out at night}. So what better to go with it than a pair of owls?! One big for the big sister and one small for the littler sister.
The basic design was based upon some crocheted owls that I saw on Ravelry. Rather than push the limits of my sanity and crocheting ability, I decided to improvise a knitted version.

The basic pattern is super simple::
~cast on 4 stitches, one on each of 4 double-pointed needles
~join for knitting in the round
~kfb into each stitch for 2 rows {you should have 16 stitches total, 4 on each needle}

~for the small owl, continue in stockinette until the body is about 3 inches tall

~for the larger owl, knit one more increase row as follows: kfb into the first and last stitch on each needle {you should now have 24 stitches total, 6 on each needle}
~for the larger owl, continue in stockinette until the body is about 4-4.5 inches tall

~stuff the owls and add safety eyes
~squeeze the top of the owl together and determine how wide you want the ears, I made mine about three stitches wide {six stitches total, three from the front and three from the back}
~to make the ears, sew these six stitches closed, continuing to sew around the top of the ears until the stick out the way you want them to {you should be able to see this in my pictures}

~all of the stitches between the ears are still live, using the contrast color that I picked for the 'nose triangle', I knit the front and back of the body together {knitting into a front and back stitch}. This acted as a bind-off for these middle stitches and provided the first row for my nose triangle. I then continued to knit the the triangle, binding off the first and last stitch every other row {you may want to make the decreases faster or slower depending upon whether you want a long and skinny or short and stout triangle}. When the triangle is complete, bind of the last stitch and sew the tip of the triangle to the owl body.


These are rough directions, if you need any clarification, let me know.

On Christmas morning, we were visited by a reindeer of sorts::
Modeling her new sweater, the Shopping Tunic pattern by Wenlan Chia. More about this project in the {sweaters} portion of the parade.

Next up, make way for the Christmas cows. Many were seen, few were photographed.
I love to see the cows grazing in these grand western landscapes driving through Nevada and Utah.

Oh, and of course, who could forget our visit from the Christmas Dino. This guy was keeping Christmas safe somewhere in western Colorado.

Next up:: holiday hats

Friday, January 15, 2010

Parade of Christmas Crafts {food}

Que the marching band.

It's the official parade of Christmas Crafts ~ tune in every day for a new category. What's a parade without food? But this is not your typical tossed from the parade float candy. No sir. This candy starts with a bit of zest and a dash of the good stuff.


I gave you a peak of the limoncello back in early November with this post {and if you go back there, be sure to listen to the song again, it's a keeper}.

As you saw, limoncello requires a pile of lemons for zesting and vodka. From there, it's all about the waiting {giving you plenty of time to search out some awesome bottles for sharing}.

15 lemons
2 850ml bottles of 100 proof Vodka
4 cups sugar
5 cups water

Zest the lemons, being very careful not to include any pith. Soak all of the zest in 1 bottle of Vodka for about 40 days. Keep it in a cool, dark location. You may want to do this in a cauldron, pitcher, or other container large enough to eventually hold all of the remaining liquids.

When you wake up the next morning, you'll be excited by the bright yellow color of your vodka. Enjoy that excitement, after that, this project just becomes a whole lot of boring {until the drinking}.

After 40 days, add the second bottle of vodka. You're going to make a simple syrup with the water and sugar. Combine the water and sugar in a sauce pan and heat until the sugar has melted and the mixture has thickened {about 5 minutes or so}. Let the syrup cool to room temperature and then add that to your cauldron. Let this mixture sit for another 40 days, again in a cool, dark nook. I was running out of time here, so I think mine only sat for 25 days.

Filter the zests from the liquid ~ I suggest using one of those plastic or metal coffee filters. You may end up with a little bit of zest sediment floating in your bottles, but no one will notice, or mind... remember, you're already giving them the gift of alcohol. enjoy*

~ Candied Citrus ~

I tried my hand at some candied orange slices back on the summer solstice. They were delicious, but a slight pain to make because you had to be careful not to destroy the tender juice bubbles of the orange. Not so with these bad boys!

I followed Marth's recipe found here. Lucky for me, my mom stocks the house with boxes of Florida citrus during the holidays, so there were rinds a-plenty. I made orange and grapefruit rinds, packaged them in glassine bags, and gave them as stocking stuffers.

These were such a hit, and with the annual supply of citrus, I'll definitely make them again. Next time dipping them in some dark chocolate*

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Last Minute Monday Soundtrack!

Go here for this week's song. Here's to sitting by the fire*

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The return*

And we're back ~ the return having a few more bumps in the road than the trip out. Sticking to the photos, here's some of the adventure::

Woke up to ice inside the windows::

And ice sculptures growing on the winterfoliage::

I'm building quite a stash of electric line photos. Not sure what's going to come of them, but it's an unmistakable collection that keeps on growing::

And finally, I had a chance to work on one of my 2010 resolutions {learn to prepare some tasty Indian dishes} last night::~ Yogurt Spinach Salad, Cumin & Tumeric Rice, and Fish Vendaloo ~ Just what the doctor ordered to warm up after the long drive!

*Let's this mark the return to some more regular blogging, I haven't forgot about all of those Christmas crafts that need their time in the limelight. With some new cookbooks and sewing books, I'm hoping that 2010 brings more time to perfect and share crafty-goodness!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

White Out

Eek, you're right, this little update is overdue. We'll start with some of the scenes from the past couple of weeks and before the parade of crafty gifts begins.

We've been traveling from one snow storm to the next. It began with a touch of a white Christmas on the East Coast::

I can say without a doubt that the wood stove kept this little house nice and cozy!::

Then it was off to California. California ~ the land of sunshine, rainbows, and piles of snow::
As I've come to witness over the years, the snow in the Sierras is high enough to make any East Coaster jealous {particularly those hankering for a good sled ride or a white Christmas}.

After the grueling hike up the mountain, we get to turn around and take in the view::

Then it was off to Colorado by way of Moab. We were hoping to see Arches in the snow, but as our luck would have it we arrived in the middle of a big storm and the roads into the park were closed. We did spend a fantabulous evening camping along the Colorado river. Only days away from the full moon, we were able to take some fun night shots. How's this one for next year's Christmas card?:: {this is straight from the camera, so if it's hard to see, you may want to click on it for a better view}

We didn't see any sheep::

We finally caught a glimpse of the sun somewhere near the Colorado/Utah border::
And now, for the past couple of days we've settled into a routine of skiing, napping, skiing, napping... it's rough.

Until next time, I'll leave you with some Christmas embroidery::