Monday, November 19, 2012

It's almost Thanksgiving.  It's my favorite food holiday.  I like that we take a day out of our year to reflect on those things that we are thankful for.  I love that we spend time with family and friends.  I love that I can spend the day cooking all of those yummy foods that are so very bad for our health.  I love spending the day with my friends and family.

This year we are hosting a small dinner at home with my cousin's family.  Our family is spread out.  A large group will be getting together in Utah, another in Oregon and the rest will be spending the day with friends and close loved ones in DC and England.

I will be whipping up a traditional menu for T day.  Starting with Turkey with stuffing inside (yes the stuffing will be inside the turkey.  I've been eating it that way for 36 years without anyone dying of salmonella poisoning).  I also make some outside the T for those so inclined.  We'll have fluffy mashed potatoes, candied carrots, sweet potato casserole, veggies, green bean casserole (courtesy of Sarah-along with pie and cranberry sauce), the usual rolls, pickles and lots and lots of olives (at least enough for everyone to put an olive on each finger multiple times).  And Rosemary blue cheese potatoes.  These are the best ever.  Chef Kathy Casey in Washington State published this recipe about 6 years ago.  It is delish!  It gets better with time.  It is yummy right out of the oven and even better the next day reheated.  If you haven't tried it-I highly recommend it.  The recipe can be altered slightly to be less caloric (but really it's T day- just go with it).

I have been knitting as fast as I possibly can.  I have a long list of things to prep for Christmas and a major cabled adventure to finish.  The pattern isn't advanced, but or some reason I feel like I am knitting at a snails pace on this one.  I am about 50% done with the back.  I have both front pieces, both sleeves and the finishing to complete.  I am really hoping to be done with the back by Friday.  Here's a little preview:

I really do love the cable pattern.  It's going well-with the exception of a major opps- that I am leaving and calling a design affect.  If you spot it-don't tell me.  I don't want to hear it.

I also have an update on my blanket square swap progress.  If you remember it is my knitting and crochet group- Twisted Stitchers that is participating in this one.  I have 5 new squares to show you:
This is going to be a great sampler blanket.  I was going to sew them together as I got them, but have decided to wait until I have all the squares and can find the best way to showcase each one.  I'll show you when I have it done.

There are a couple of events next year that I wanted to tell you about-

First- Yarn Bomb Los Angeles will be covering the front of the Craft and Folk Art Museum with granny squares.  They are asking for submissions.  You can participate from anywhere in the World.  Just crochet up a 5 by 5 inch square and submit via mail.  Check out the website for more info on how to participate, what colors and types of squares needed and where to mail.  There is also a mock up of the finished project: http://www.yarnbombinglosangeles.com/.

Second is the Yarn Crawl LA County which is set for April 11-14, 2013.  The website: http://yarncrawlla.com/ has all the information you may need.  A yarn crawl is a lot of fun.  Save up or dedicate some funds for this day (because who can go in and out of that many yarn shops without finding yarn you can't live without) and find some friends to travel LA County with.  You'll get a passport and at each shop you'll get stamps and a chance to win some awesome prizes.  There is no requirement to purchase-but remember these shops need local support and you should check with local shops before purchasing online.

36 Knitting days left until Christmas!!!!

Friday, November 9, 2012

So much to knit, so little time

We have 46 days until Christmas.  I have a long list of things to finish before Christmas.  I'm currently working on a sweater for my dad.  Last Christmas he asked me to knit a sweater for him.  I agreed and had him scroll through the options on Ravelry.  He chose the Northshore Cardigan by Lion Brand Yarns.   I found some awesome buttons at a store in the Los Angeles Fabric Market.  I purchased the yarn needed and have cast on.  I'm not sure that I like the pattern.  It's early days yet so I will continue to knit until I've got a large enough swatch to make the determination whether to finish it or frog it and begin a different pattern.

I've also finished a few Christmas related knitting projects, but cannot share them with you until after the holidays.  (Just in case the recipient reads this).

One of my nieces has requested a garbage truck for Christmas.  She is almost 3 years old and was very specific about it.  I called her a few weeks ago and told her that I was sending her a little knit mouse.  She was very excited and wanted to reciprocate.  She was at my mom's house and told me that I could have the phone, a mouse pad, and various other items hanging out on my mom's desk.  My mom was amused but said I couldn't have her stuff.

My niece's specific instructions for the garbage truck were that it was to be purple with blue wheels.  It should be the size of other toy garbage trucks.  She is really cute.  How can you say no to a little person who knows exactly what they want.  Garbage trucks are her favorite trucks.

I have one finished project to share with you today.  The felicity hat.  This pattern is soooo easy.  It's something any knitter should be able to whip out in a few hours.  I used the suggested yarn, but the brim of the hat is a tad too small.  I've already started another one and this one I used a similar gauge yarn and cast on an extra 10 stitches.  Check out the finished felicity.


With only 46 days left before Christmas I'll be spending a lot of time knitting.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tiny Needle Chunky Yarn

I made a great hat for my sister.  The design finishes the brim with a triangle piece that overlaps.  There is no real button hole-but it looks as if a button hole is there and you've just buttoned the brim.  I found a great button, had my yarn from the hat and sat down to finish the hat so it would arrive within a few weeks of her birthday (which for me is great-the last few years her present arrived 2-6 months later).  Going to the post office sucks and I just haven't conquered the online postage thing and pickup delivery with the USPS.

I encountered a problem.  The yarn is chunky.  It was quite difficult to get into the tapestry needle.  Even the huge blue things that I use for sewing with yarn.  The problem was the button holes.  Way too small for the blue needle to fit through.

So I pulled out the regular sewing needles.  I have packages of them.  So I just went through until I found one that fit through the button holes.  Check out the difference in size.

You can see the eye of the small needle if you look closely.  There was no way no way at all that the yarn was going to fit into that stupid tiny little hole.

As I was sitting there, a bit frustrated (Ok a lot frustrated and about to begin swearing like a pissed off sailor), I had an Epiphany -I could use tape to make the yarn fit into the tiny little eye of that sewing needle.  I pulled out the tape and tried out my brilliant idea (Yes I am sure others have come up with this idea and came up with it before I did-I am not claiming to be the mastermind behind the idea).
It's working!


It went through.  Sewing can now commence.



I made a matching cowl to compliment the hat.  Here it is a bit slouchy:

I was quite proud of myself for figuring out a way to make that button work.  Switching to thread would not have been a good idea.  Even with a ton of layers the button would likely fall off and she wouldn't sew it back on and the hat wouldn't get used.  Besides I had an idea in my head of how I wanted the finished project to look and it did not include thread.  So the next time you are stuck and about to swear-take a step back and think.  You'll have an epiphany too.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sunset and Boobs

Mike and I spent some time at the beach recently and watched the sun set.  It really is beautiful.  I also finished making a boob hat for Hailey.  Her mommie sent me a link to a boob hat a few years ago.  She thought it was funny.  I think they are hilarious.  Don't be offended by breast feeding.  And if you are breast feeding your child-hide your breast.  The rest of us don't want to see it.

This hat is a really basic hat.  Cast on 70 stitches and work in stockinette until it's 5 inches or however long you want the hat to be.  Then start decreasing.  with a *k6, k2tog* for a round.  Every even round you knit.  The decreases continue at k5, k4, k3.  Then change yarn color.  Continue decreases k2, k1, then k2tog.  Knit 3 rounds and bind off by running the yarn through the remaining stitches.  Simple.


Enjoy the sunset:





Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I LOVE pizza


Pizza. Yummy yummy pizza

We like pizza at my house.  I love it.  It is easy, quick and versatile.   I hate hate hate thick pizza dough.  It’s like eating bread with mushy stuff on the top.  I like thin crust pizza.  Or regular dough if I buy pizza.

I like to play around with recipes and find what tastes good or works best from several different recipes and make it my own.  I was able to do that with pizza dough.  I've created the best pizza dough for us.  I've had rave reviews from family and friends who've like it.  But suggest you try it and make it your own.

It’s a great pizza crust.  You can make it crunchy like a cracker or softer like bread.  It’s up to you how long you cook it.  I like it less crunchy than a cracker but definitely not soft.

Start with ¾ cup of water, a yeast packet (2 ¼ tsp) and a smidgen of sugar.  Less than ¼ tsp.  Just enough for the yeast to activate and eat.  Wait 10 minutes or so until the yeast is bubbly.

I like to kick up my dough with some spices.  Don’t worry it’s not too spicy.  Even young children have eaten this and not complained that it was too spicy or hot.  You can alter or skip this step. 


I add black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and salt.  I don't measure this step.  I just lightly sprinkle them over the top.  You can start with less than a 1/4 tsp and go from there.

Add 1 and ¾ cups flour.  Reserve a bit of the flour.  You’ll use more flour to knead and roll this out.   No need to add a bit at a time.  I toss it all in at once.


Knead the dough until it’s not sticky.  It’s ok if it is a little sticky.  You don’t want it to stick to your rolling surface.  

Roll out the dough.

Add corn meal to the pizza stone.  (You can use a cookie sheet if you don’t have a stone.  Preheat it and add corn mean like you would with the stone.)  My stone is well used.  


I fold the dough into sections to transfer it to the heated stone and then unfold on the stone.  (Don’t burn yourself).

Take a fork and punch holes over the entire crust.  Mine is hanging off the sides.  This is not an issue unless you are OCD.  If you are-then use the fork to fold it over and press down or cut the excess off.  I'm less concerned with the looks of the dough and almost never get a perfect circle.  (I should go find someone to teach me how to throw the dough and form a circle-but there are so many other things to do and learn...)

You don’t want bubbles (bubbles leave the dough really really crunchy).  Cook the dough.  I cook it until it’s slightly browned.   Again this is another area that you can change to your tastes.  (I typically cook the dough 3-5 minutes)

Take the cooked crust out of the oven.  Add tomato sauce.  I use a spaghetti sauce-whatever you have on hand or want to buy is fine.

Add whatever cheese and toppings you want.  We’re doing pepperoni today.

When you’ve got it loaded up-back in the oven until the cheese is melted.  (approximately 3 minutes)


Cut and enjoy.


I've made this pizza crust for a lot of different pizzas.  Buffalo chicken pizza, taco pizza, veggie galore, pepperoni, meat lovers or heart attack on a plate and there are so many more combinations out there.  You can control the calorie and fat content.  I don't do an egg wash around the edge-but you can if you want it to be pretty.  

Amy's awesome pizza recipe

3/4 cup water-warm
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/4 tsp sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
cheese and toppings of choice.

Preheat oven and pizza stone at 500 degrees.  In large bowl add warm water, yeast and sugar.  Let sit until yeast activates (bubbly).  Add spices and flour.  Mix and knead.  Roll out.  shake corn meal onto pizza stone (so nothing sticks).  Put dough on stone and cook 3-5 minutes until slightly brown.  Take out of oven and add sauce and toppings.  Back in oven until cheese is melted.

Cut and enjoy!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Games, Games and More Games


When I was a kid we played a few American board games-things like Monopoly, the Game of Life and Risk.   We were not huge gamers.  In the early 90’s my parents bought us a Nintendo.  My brothers let my sister and I play for a little bit-then declared it was their game.  And in the spirit of being a pissy sister- I decided then and there that I didn’t care, because games were stupid. 

So I never became a computer or console gamer.   In fact I detested them.  (I also hated the Simpson's for a good long while for the same reason).   I met and married a huge gamer.  He LOVES loves loves LOVES to play games.  Mike has introduced me to a whole new type of board games-Euro games. I agreed, as any newly married person would, to learn about his favorite hobby and spend time with him playing games.   My first introduction to these games was with a game called Ticket to Ride.  Ticket to Ride is a train game that has become popular throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. 

From there we learned about Dominion, a card game that has endless possibilities.  There are 6 expansions to Dominion and you can use cards from various decks to play the game.   It’s a game where anyone can win because you start with the same cards and have the same options.  It’s a classic strategy game-although you should be on guard because any good strategy will be STOLEN by your husband (wife, brother, sister, friend, or perfect stranger).   And you will have to come up with something new with which to Kick His Ass.  (We’re very competitive in our gaming).

Our newest game is called Power Grid.  This game looks complicated because there are a lot of small pieces.  But it is really simple.  Your goal is to purchase power plants and open plants in various cities, power the plants and collect your money. The game requires strategy and planning to ensure that you have the resources necessary.  There is bidding and competition.  There is money and tiny little houses.  What’s not to love?  And there’s more to love because more often than not- I win!


We get together with other board game lovers and with friends at local board game shops or meetups.   Meetup.com is a website where you can create or join groups for all types of activities, from business networking to recreational activities and anything else you can think of.   

Things I'm knitting now:

2nd Vegas sock (hanging around since August)
Felicity hat
Surprise hat for Hailey
Sweater
Monkey

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writers Block


I don’t have writers block per se.  What I have is the desire to start a new project, a pile of projects in the works, another pile of projects waiting to get started, but no real desire to do any of it.  I want something new.  I want something cute, fast and easy.

I’ve been working squares for about a month (Off and on between other things-not squares non stop-that would bore me to tears).  I’ve got one square to go.  I’m been trying a few new stitch patterns and putting together some others in an effort to use this square swap as another learning opportunity. 

Some have worked really well.  Some have not.

In any case-I want something new.  I decided to try a few toy patterns.  I found this adorable little mouse on Ravelry and finished it in a couple of nights.  Tiny needles are really hard to get used to after months of using size 8. 


Easy pattern if you're looking for a mouse.  However be warned-the head and neck joining are ugly.  So I whipped up a little hat and scarf to hide the ugly.  Next one I believe I’ll try to adjust the pattern to continue the head into the body and hopefully avoid “the ugly”.  This is a gift for one of my many nieces.

I do believe he is adorable.



The little mouse helped a little bit with my knitters project block (his ears are a little funky-oh well).  Too many choices and not enough time-but I still have a block.  I’ve got to get working on Christmas stuff before I run out of time (T minus 76)… and I don’t want my fingers to fall off or hate me like last year.   Ideas?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Not quite your style Scott

I've made a couple of hats from Kelly Judson's pattern "That Other Hat".  It's a quick and fairly easy pattern.  I whipped one up last week for Laura.   See the hat here:

I think in order to make this work, Scott needs some pearls.  Lots of strands of pearls and perhaps some dangling pearl earrings.  Sorry Scott it's just not quite your style.  Makes you look a bit guido-ish.

Scott's modeling doesn't show off the color.  It's a lovely purple with shades of pinks and maroons.

If you need a warm hat for the upcoming winter-this one will take you a couple of nights knitting while you watch tv.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blanket Square Swap


I am participating in a blanket square swap with my knitting and crochet group, Twisted Stitchers.  Each person who chose to participate will knit or crochet 12 squares and trade 1 with other members.  Then we’ll sew the squares together and have a sampler blanket to show at the end.  I’m excited to see what my final blanket will look like.  (You’ll have to wait until December to find out too).

I’ve been doing different squares, both for variety and to test out different patterns.  I also tried my hand at writing a few variations to patterns.   I took the stitch repeat pattern for an old doily pattern and wrote my own square pattern.  The doily pattern is named Darling.

Cast on 44 stitches for a 12 x 12 square.

Pattern:

Knit 4 rows (in stockinette)
Pattern repeat (8 rows)

Row 1: knit
Row 2: purl (and all ws rows)
Row 3: knit 6, *k2tog, yo, k2; rep from * to last 7 stitches, knit 7
Row 5: knit
Row 7: knit 6, *k2, ssk, yo; rep from * to last 7 stitches, knit 7

Stop pattern repeat to allow for room to knit 4 rows to complete the square.

I love the final look of this stitch pattern. 








I also did a couple of basic squares changing the colors for variety.   The first is four small garter stitch squares sewn together for one 12 x 12 square and another is a stripped stockinette square.



I’m finishing up a blackberry pattern and a wave pattern using cabling.  I'll post pictures of the squares as I finish them and a photo of the finished swap blanket.