Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Some FO's


I have a few FO's to report to you and no it's not cause I was waiting for the holiday to be over. In fact the only "holiday knitting" I did this year was the Winter Roses shawl. Nope I haven't reported these FO's to you purely because I have been lazy. Totally totally lazy. (I know, so out of character)

But these FO's deserve their day in the spotlight as do all my knits. That's why I have a blog after all

Fist up is a set I knit for the hubbs once the weather started to turn a tish colder. And by tish I mean BELOW freezing EVERY day!


The gloves are Knucks by Pamela Grossman
The hat is Turn A Square by Jared Flood
I love this set and my husband was pleasantly surprised with them. It was harder than I thought to try and hide something I'm working on from him but by the time I was working on the hat I was able to knit the whole thing in front of him with out him even noticing!

These have now become a staple in his daily outings. The hat is just long enough to cover the ears and the gloves leave your fingers free to check all necessary blackberry happenings.

I also knit this ADORABLE little barret/tam for my niece Lenni. It was a quick little knit that was so cute when it was done that it made me consider making one in my own size.


This is Baby Rollin' Beret by Woolly Wormhead
I used some Moda Dea Eclips yarn that has a subtle sheen to it. It knits up beautifully.


I was so worried that I would be too small for Lenni that I ended up making it too big (aak) but not to worry big sister Frieda is putting it to good use until Lenni grows into it.

Finally is a little knit just for me. I going to come out now and tell you that I heart Madelinetosh yarn. All of it. There is no bad tosh out there. The colors are just so vibrant and bold and the combinations are just right. So when I was wondering around my LYS trying to pick out some yarn for a super duper top secret project I noticed something oh so good and yet oh so bad. They started stocking tosh vintage.

After picking out my yarn for my super duper top secret project I noticed that I needed one skein fewer than I had planned. And clearly that is great! I'm saving money! Less yarn than I needed! So while I was smugly making my way to the check out I happened by the tosh. You know just to look. It's research really... That way I would know later when I needed some. Right? Well then I thought "WOW that blue is really gorgeous! I bet it would make a great hat.... and I did need one less skein of the other yarn..." and well I'm sure you know what happened from there.


So I give you crooked paths by Melissa LaBarre in Tosh Vintage in Norway Spruce - the pic of the yarn is pretty true to color. It's Ahh-MAZE-ing

I knit this hat in one night! I just didn't want to put it down. Between the pattern and the yarn it was a delight. This hat has also turned out to be one of my favorites and I wear it all the time.


There you go! See? Even though all I talk about around here seems to be cupcakes I'm still knitting. A lot. And I'll have some more FO's to report back to you soon!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Randomness


1. It's cold. Really cold. Like single digits cold. This I have decided is exceedingly cold... and apparently it's only suppose to get worse

2. I have never lived somewhere where and expected precipitin was snow and only snow for months.

3. It snowed yesterday and it wasn't in the forecast. How can the weather people not see that coming? It's snow. SNOW!

4. I have decided that taxi drivers that drive between 11pm and 3am are especially patient in their dealings with both customers and crazy drunks walking on the street.

5. I got to ride on the Christmas Express. Here I am coming back from the library and this rolls up.

6. They gave out free candy canes when we got on board. It made my day.

7. The weather man just came on the news and said this weekend won't be "warm like last weekend". Last weekend it peaked at 32 degrees

8. My hubbs' coworker LOVED the winter roses shawl. She immediately put it on and wore it all day. She is officially knit worthy

9. Is the air always this dry in the winter? Ridiculous.

10. I joined a sock knit along where we will all knit 6 pairs of socks next year. I picked out my yarn and I have the patterns. I'm set to knit! And very excited to be knitting with my Amiras again

11. My hubbs surprised me today by taking me to my favorite store and letting me pick something out. He's my favorite.

12. I made bread and it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be.

13. I baked cherry tomatoes and garlic in the middle. It was so yummy.

14. Weather channel says it's suppose to snow tomorrow. Great.

Monday, December 13, 2010

FO: Winter Roses

My husband has a coworker who has commented on every hand knit he's worn. Always inquiering to see if I had knit it and then mentioning the yarn, or how pretty the colors are, or lovely the pattern is. My husband relays these messages to me and always add that when ever she comments on a hat or scarf he tells her "You should see my wife's other knits. This is nothing in comparison" (isn't he sweet!)

This same coworker has gone out of her way a few times to help my husband get acclimated to the new team here in Chicago so I thought as a holiday/thank-you-for-all-your-help gift I would knit her a shawl.

I gave my husband the assignment to find out what her favorite color is confident that whatever she she loves I could stash dive and find it in my very :cough: modest :cough: stash


When my husband got home from work I said "so.... what's her favorite color?"

"You'll never guess" he replied

And after going through every color of the rainbow I ended with "Brown?"

"No"

"Black?"

"Nope"

I thought for a second... "WHITE!"

"Yes!" and then sadly said "but you don't have white"

I chuckled as I headed to my stash (wait I meant to say "modest" stash) and came back out with two different options. "I have plenty of white"

He picked his favorite and I started what is usually a lengthy search for a pattern but this time things came together quickly as I found Rosa by Kristen Hanley Cardozo right away. This is one of her newer patterns and after looking at it I knew it would look just fabulous knit up in white. I love that it has some design in the middle but also some stockinet that I could sail through to make up time as I wanted to get this shawl done fairly quickly...


It took me just over a week of knitting and Winter Roses was done. And I found it very appropriate that during most of my knitting it was snowing peacefully outside. As a knitter there isn't a whole lot better than having a good project to work on, a hot cup of coffee, a nice blanket to cuddle up with while it's snowing outside.

Pattern Details:

Pattern: Rosa by Kristen Hanley Cardozo
Needles: Size US4 KnitPicks Zyphers
Yarn: KNitPicks Bare - Merino Wool/Silk Fingering Weight. I had 4 grams left over.
Mods: None needed. This pattern is beautifully written with both charts and written instructions. I would definitely knit this pattern again! LOVELOVELOVE

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pendleton Blanket


Right after Thanksgiving I decided to finally check the mail... I wasn't expecting anything and who wants to get bills over a holiday weekend. Right?

But I was surprised when I went to my box and there was a note saying I had a package! OOOh the excitement! A surprise!!!

I ran to grab the package and found a HUGE box from my dad and step mom!


Once I got upstairs I ripped off the paper (Let's pretend that I waited patiently for the hubbs to get home... I tried. I really did. For like five whole minutes) I got all excited when I saw the logo on the box. Pendleton. It's a PENDLETON box!!! (I guess for anyone from the Pacific Northwest this is like a 6 year old girl getting a princess barbie) wrapped in sparkles. Pendleton Woolen Mills makes gorgeous woolen goods that will keep you warm through just about anything and are passed down through generations.


I had to catch my breath and regroup as remembered that sometimes my parents like to reuse boxes, and sometimes they put yarn in those boxes. So a list of possibilities ran through my head before I lifted the lid on the box. I found, to my excitement, a perfectly folded Pendleton blanket. Our very own (and very first) Pendleton blanket!

I unfolded it from the box and laid it out so I could see the beautiful images that the blankets are so well known for. As you can see the blanket my parents picked out has a compass with four moons. It's perfect.


It immediately found the perfect home on our couch where it's always just a reach away


And I love that it's reversible! (I'm thinking it's double knit then felted? hmm something to ponder)


But let's be honest, this is how it usually looks... Especially as the temperature out side creeps closer and closer to the single digits.

It's perfect for snuggling under while knitting and watching the snow fall outside.

I love it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ok back to the food


I know I know so much food talk around here but 'tis the season of eating loads of yummy food right?

So hubbs had a work thing and I decided that I needed to make cookies and cupcakes so that he could bring them and have something in hand. You know how it goes... ok ok maybe I had an anterior motive (Who me? ::looks around::)

I really wanted to make cupcakes and cookies because I was craving them. But I only need to eat one or two before I'm ready to move on to something salty... By making them for other people I don't have to worry about what to do with the 23 extra cupcakes sitting around

Anyhow back to the cookies. I decided to make these pumpkin and chocolate cookies that I found online. I made them before and they are amazing. You can taste the pumpkin with out the flavor being too strong. Also they aren't SUPER sweet cookies so I don't feel like I'm eating a sugar attack, in fact they almost have a cake like quality to them.

But most importantly they are so simple to make...


After baking the pumpkin cookies and letting them cool, I melted some chocolate chips over a double boiler and poured that chocolate in a piping bag (a zip lock baggie would work too) and cut off a little bit of the tip.


Then slowly drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. When you're done pop them in the fridge for a few minutes and the chocolate will harden up again and enjoy. Yum

After the cookies I decided make some chocolate cupcakes filled with caramel and with a caramel frosting on top.

Secretly I used a box to make the cupcakes but that's because honestly the boxed mixes taste amazing and stay moist plus when you add extra things like, say, caramel then no one will notice if the cake part is from scratch or not.

The carmel, on the other hand, I made from scratch. And I'll admit that I did buy some caramel sundae topping just in case I botched the whole thing. Here's my tip: When trying something new or something that can be temperamental (like caramel) always have a backup so that you aren't stressing that the desert wont turn out. Plus if you have a back up then for some reason everything turns out and you never seem to need the backup.

I had always heard that caramel was very difficult to make in that it can go wrong really quickly but perhaps because I was SO worried and wouldn't leave the stove I didn't have a problem. Some brown sugar melted down with baking powder and cream worked wonderfully. It didn't come out stiff enough to use as an icing on it's own so I took most of it and filled one piping bag for the cupcake filling. I had a round medium tip on the bag and just insert the tip into the cupcakes and squeezed out. Not wanting to over do it with the caramel I was kinda conservative in the amount I squeezed into the cupcakes.

Then to make the icing I took about a quarter cup of the caramel and a cup and half of powdered sugar with a half a stick of room temperature butter and whisked it together to make a nice light and fluffy buttercream caramel icing. If you wanted to make your own icing I would start with the powdered sugar and then slowly add the caramel and butter to get the consistency you like. A little of each will go a long way in powdered sugar.

I placed the icing in another star tipped piping bag and got to work

Before the icing could dry on the top I sprinkled some gold sugar on top and called the done!


They were fabulous although you can't really go wrong with caramel and chocolate

Tosh Vintage

There's just so much to tell you about that I don't really know where to start so I guess we'll start with what's first

I got yarn.

And I feel this important to tell you because looking back there seems to be a lot of food talk going on around here. Not that anything is wrong with that we all love food (especially chocolate caramel cupcakes but I'll get to that later)

So back to the topic


I got yarn. This is a big deal because I have been limiting my yarn intake lately for a few reasons. One is money and two is space and three is guilt (am I the only knitter that feels guilty buying new yarn when I have perfectly good yarn sitting patiently, waiting it's turn to be knit up into something beautiful?)

But I justified this yarn because well it was on sale and I don't really have yarn in sweater quantities and my lovely friend Charmaine got me the pattern, Coraline by Ysolda Teague for my birthday that I have been itching to cast on.


So I splurged and got some Tosh Vintage by Madelinetosh in the Celadon colorway . I didn't expect the yarn to have as much of a green as it did but I was actually delighted that it did. This icy light green is one of the colors I am most obsessed with lately and I couldn't have picked a better color to knit Coraline in.

And the Tosh Vintage is just as yummy as everyone says it is. I have been drooling over this yarn ever since I heard the rave reviews from Jocelyn when she knit up this cute cardi . I really trust her opinions on yarn so if she says it's ohhh soo yummy then I'm hunting the interwebs for a good deal. As usual she didn't let me down... In fact it was yarn not to start purring and drooling all over the yarn as soon as it came out of the box.

I'll keep you posted on my cardi knitting. I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dinner in Beirut


I have been on a Lebanese food kick lately. Well more specifically a Beiruty food kick. As I have learned there is a difference in the food you'll find in Beirut vs up north, down south or in the mountains.

I have been scouring internet looking for some of the best (read: easy yet classic) recipes and I came up with three (well four but I don't want to talk about the fatayer - cheese or spinach filled pastry. I'm denying it ever happened)

So I started with Mdardara (I'm pretty sure it's pronounced mmmmdrdrdrdra) which is lentils and rice. This has to be one the easiest dishes ever but it looks complicated which is my favorite attribute in a dish. Mdardara is sauteed onions cooked with one part rice and one part soaked lentils and should be served with fresh plain yogurt.


Then came the Salat Al Patata or Lebanese Potato Salad. Now I'm not such a potato salad fan because I can't stand mayo but this potato salad (much like the german version) doesn't use any mayo. Instead it uses olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and salt. And can I just say YUM. This salad has potato, tomato, green bell pepper and pearl onions and it's both refreshing and filling at the same time. I can see this dish becoming a spring and summer staple around this house


Finally by request I made Fasulia Metable or White Bean Salad. It is another simple but tasty dish. One can of rinsed white beans, some onion, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and petter. Easy peasy and it seemed to disappear before my eyes!


Three wonderful, fresh dishes straight from the streets of Beirut

But I'll have to get back to you on the fatayer... I will attempt it again and I shall WIN!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Button Band Fingerless Gloves

A few months ago I knit these gloves based on the gloves Penny wears in
Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog.

Today I offer you the pattern for free so that you can wear Penny's gloves too

download now(pdf format)



About the pattern:

Yarn: Worsted weight yarn in two colors - I used Knit Pick Wool of the Andes in black and sage
Needles: US size 7
Buttons: I used 18 but you'll need more or less depending on how long you make your gloves
Additional: These fingerless gloves are knit flat.
Skills needed: Make one, Knit, Purl, changing colors, over all a great pattern for a moderate/beginner knitter but interesting enough with the stripes for a more advanced knitter

Note: this pattern has not been test knit... please contact me for any questions or corrections

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tomatoes, feta and bread! Oh My!

One of my very favorite quick and easy dinners in Abu Dhabi was cherry tomatoes with feta cheese, a little olive oil, cracked black pepper and arabic bread. The combination of flavors and textures was just right. Salty, peppery, cheesey and the oooh the juicy cherry tomatoes added a freshness and sweetness that balanced out the cheese.

The bread is what brought the whole dish together. It just doesn't taste the same with out it. While it seems insignificant it's one of the crucial elements of the dish (it's also the best way to get all the extra olive oil drips and feta crumbles at the end)

The corner store by our house would sell the flat bread fresh daily. All I had to do was roll up in my car and a man would come out with the bread which was usually still warm. I'd give him about $.40 and be on my way home.

Preparation was always fast. Crumble some feta cheese on a plate, wash and halve some cherry tomatoes (the really good ones are the cheap ones from Oman - you could get a whole container for under a dollar!). I would then get some lebanese olive oil to pour over the fetta and then crack loads of black pepper over the top. On top of the tomatoes I would add my own twist by sprinkling some Lawry's Seasoning Salt over the top and wha-la. Dinner was ready.


I would grab the plate, bread and a coke in a bottle and head in to the living room where I would sit to enjoy my meal. Ripping off pieces of bread and scooping up a little feta soaked in olive oil and a tomato half. Piece by piece I would finish my meal. Often my husband would come home to find me sitting on the floor, eating at the coffee table, watching BBC Food. He would always chuckle as he headed to go rustle up his own dinner.

Needless to say it's very easy to find all of those ingredients out here... except for the arabic bread. Grocery stores just don't carry the same kind of thin pocket bread that is just slightly sweet and dusted in flower. I had tried to make due with regular pocket bread but it's way to thick to try to scoop up little bits of feta and tomato. Tortilla, while it looks like it should work great, just doesn't even come close.


This is one of those dishes that if I can't have it right I don't really want it... so I have gone with out (I know life is hard!). That was until this weekend. I found my bread! And I sat down at my coffee table with a coke and plate of cherry tomatoes and feta cheese and enjoyed the yumminess


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Road Trip!

The hubbs and I decided to go on a road trip mostly for the reason that while he has been to every state in the Midwest I have been to nowhere (except Chicago but not sure if where you lives counts). So in our quest to see more of America we drove up to Kalamazoo MI and then down to Indianapolis IN

Kalamazoo was smaller than I anticipated for a college town but it was beautiful.


What an amazing place to see in the Fall



And my car had no problem finding the nearest Starbucks


After a little sight seeing and driving around I found the nearest yarn shop but sadly it had closed it's doors. So then we headed south to Indianapolis

One of the main reasons we decided Indianapolis


was a MUST see was that it is home to one of three Old Spaghetti Factory Restaurants in the Midwest. This is one of my all time favorite places to eat.

You get ice cream with every meal how can you not like that?


What was hilarious was that we swung by the hotel and I was putting the restaurant in to the search on my navigation. When it came up it said "Your destination is 0.0 mi away"

"huh" I thought and started looking around me. I couldn't see a restaurant anywere so I got out of the car and asked the valet who politely pointed directly across the street from where we were standing. "You see that OPEN sign" he said.

"huh" I thought again. I handed the valet my keys and ran across the street. Best hotel spot EVAH!!

The next day we wondered around the city, which is undergoing major construction and renovations for the upcoming Super Bowl in 2012 (I think), and taking in the sites. What a lovely little city

After a bit of wandering it was time to make the 3.5 hr drive home

There were a few times I thought we had made a wrong turn somewhere


but then we came across this... How amazingly beautiful are these wind farms?


Finally after hours we came home to our last of three tolls


And even though we had another half hour of traffic ahead of us, it felt great to be home...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Randomness


1 - It's getting colder and colder. At night it's hovering around freezing and it's only November

2 - I used my Kitchen Aid!


3 - And made chocolate cookies

4 - They were some tasty cookies.

5 - I'm knitting a secret set of mitts for the hubbs. I hope he likes them

6 - I have realized (yet again) that I don't like knitting something for someone when I cant get them to try on said knit every few rows just to make sure it still fits.

7 - It's 6 pm and pitch black outside... explain to me again why we need daylight savings times?

8 - Although I guess that would have meant it would have been pitch black outside at 6 pm weeks ago

9 - Whatever, I'm still going to complain about it

10 - oooh I can turn my car on from my phone! SCORE!



p.s. I am purposely not talking about how amazingly well the ducks are doing...I figure if I don't acknowledge it then it can't go away

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Irish wool

My sister recently came back from her annual trip to Ireland and with her she brought me one of my very favorite things. Irish yarn, made from Irish sheep.


This time she sent me nine (9!!) skeins of Cushendale Woollen Mills worsted in the iris color way. I'm beyond excited. It's the perfect winter yarn and it makes me daydream of intricate cabled sweaters that are slightly scratchy but SO warm and cozy.

I love the feel of the yarn, the heathered blue purple color and knowing that it comes right from the sheep. In a way having a yarn that I know comes from so close to where the wool was sheared makes me feel closer to knitting. Touching & smelling the yarn brings images of emerald hills with little sheeps living happily, eating grass and sharing their warmth. People then taking that wool and turning it into roving, dying it and spinning it into something that I can knit with.

I love that.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One step closer


Today I came one step closer to becoming a grown up

I got a Kitchen Aid...


... and I'm beyond excited.

It all started a few weeks ago when my mom called me and said "we need to talk". She had noticed all the baking I have been doing on my blog and other cooking adventures that I told her about in passing and realized that it was time for me to have my very first Kitchen Aid. "Baking will be so much faster and easier" she promised

I was reluctant. I mean they are big and they are expensive! and they take precious counter space. But mostly it just felt like a grown up thing I wasn't sure I was worthy of yet... What if i didn't use it? What if I broke it?

But my mom made one final point and I was sold... "It's dishwasher safe."

We talked about colors and engine sizes and finally settled on the 5.5L currently being sold at our favorite got to place, Costco. After too-ing and fro-ing between black, white or silver we agreed that silver would be the best bet for an appliance that should last the majority of my baking career.

So today, after my mom arranged for it to be waiting for me at my local Costco, I went and picked it up.

And I love it. And it's beautiful. And I can't stop starring at it. I feel so grown up!

And I can't wait to make some cookies!!


Thank you mom for a wonderful housewarming gift!