Wednesday, September 29, 2010

11 random thoughts

 1) Yesterday I was going to a friend's house for a "girl's night in" sort of a thing, and baked what I felt would be the obvious contribution: a ridiculous 3-layer chocolate cake.


I had already baked this once before (for my birthday this year), and it was just as good as I'd remembered it.  The recipe, as should come as no surprise to long-time readers, is from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my Home To Yours.  If you have not yet bought your copy (for real?!!  You've held out this long?!!), here's a link to the recipe, as published by the New York Times.

2) The other day I was tidying my studio and noticed this insanely pink/orange bump of Cormo that I picked up at MD Sheep & Wool this summer, and decided that I needed to start spinning it immediately.


3) However, ever since this landed on my doorstep yesterday, I've been completely absorbed with embroidered cuteness:

Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection by Aimee Ray

4) We dropped our children off at a Parent's Night Out on Friday, and my husband took me out to a fantastic seafood restaurant where I ate two dozen of these (aka: MY FAVORITE FOOD IN THE WORLD.)

Two dozen, my friends.  It was heavenly.

5) Ever since reading this post and this one on Angry Chicken, I've been thinking about making my own lemon curd.  Not sure why I haven't done it yet.  I have lemons, I have jars, I have a recipe.  I should do it today.

6) Also, I've been wanting to make my own Pickled Zucchini.  I have at least 4 small zucchini in my vegetable drawer right now.  And jars.  I should also make THIS today.

7) As soon as my Local Produce box is delivered on Friday, I'm totally making an adaptation of this fantastic looking Roasted Vegetable Minestrone by Pioneer Woman.  (If you live in the San Antonio/Austin area, check out Greenling for fantastic local, organic produce and other grocery items.  Enter coupon code FAIDAR148 for 10% off of your first order.)

8) The S'mores Milkshake in this collection of S'mores inspired desserts looks irresistable.

9) I must make these Garlic Knots from White On Rice Couple.  Or maybe just use the general idea to dress up some Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes A Day dough.

10) I am so excited that the new seasons of Dancing With The Stars, Grey's Anatomy, and Private Practice have started (we don't have cable, so I watch them through the full episode player on -- and no, sadly it doesn't work if your IP address is out of the USA)  :-(.  With each new season, it feels like I'm seeing old friends once again.  Don't laugh.  I know some of you know what I'm talking about.

11) I want to knit this shawl.  RIGHT NOW.

M'kay friends, back to spinning.

the end.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Thank you so much for all of your supportive comments about the whole raw business.


My final detox meal: cold apple spinach avocado soup.  I wasn't a big fan of the flavor of SO MUCH GREEN, but it kept me satisfied through most of the evening.

It was incredibly scary to face down those 3 days at the start, mostly because I didn't know what to eat.  Once I got the cookbook, things were a whole lot better, and by the third day, I started to understand how a raw meal comes together -- what goes with what, and such.  It's interesting, because I'm pretty damn good at putting together a "regular" menu, stretching whatever the protein is over a large number of people (rice!  potatoes!  bread!), but when it came to eating raw, I was just pulling up complete blanks...and therefore, had a rather hungry time for a while there.  On the upside, I had 10 lbs of baby weight that I haven't been able to let go of, so I figured that, while feeling hungry is kind of miserable, at least I knew that I was probably loosing a few pounds.  And I did.

For those of you who are interested in trying it, just try eating raw for breakfast or lunch once or twice and see what you think.  I just happen to be the sort of person who would find every loophole and end up having a "snack" of something baked or cooked in between meals, and not allowing the raw food to really work.  Plus, I wanted this to be a detox, and a detox is painful by definition.  The hardest part was dealing with the cravings for cooked and baked things, which made me believe that I was a whole lot hungrier than I really was.

Today I broke my fast with a banana blueberry yogurt smoothie (very light on the yogurt, heavy on the fruit), and, while it tasted great, it made me feel a little ill.


I made Almond Milk last night before bed, so I had some with my coffee this morning, and...I think it's an acquired taste.  I'll try it again a few times, but I'll probably start using cows milk again.

I ate a raw lunch today, then baked a loaf of bread and had two big buttered slices in the late afternoon.  Immediately, I felt like taking a nap.  I had a tiny bowl of lentils and rice for dinner, and once again, I don't feel so hot.  Reintegration is a bitch.

Thank you also to all of you who left kind comments on my new hair.  I am so excited to be back to short hair -- when I fix it in the morning, I feel happy; with this haircut I no longer have to spend FOREVER trying to come up with some new updo, only to feel vaguely dissatisfied with the look.  When I look in the mirror with my new (old! normal!) hair, finally, I look like me.  It's a good thing to see.

At Knit Night last night, I finished up the Noro Kureyon socks that I've been working on for the past few...however many months.


64 stitches, size 1.5 superlong (40", I think) circulars (from KnitPicks), twisted 1x1 rib on the cuff, short-row heel.


I'm not a fan of the peach-to-grey on the left foot, but I decided, after much thought, that I'd much rather just wear them as they are and move on to other things.  No need to rip out perfectly good knitting just because of a few ugly stripes.  Even though that's all people will see when I wear my mary-janes...AGGHH!  No, these are done.  And done is done.


If you ever have trouble with holes in the corners of your heels, just make sure to pick up and twist as many extra stitches as you need to in that area (sometimes I'll even pick up a stitch from a "ladder" two or three rows down, then ladder it up, twisting all the way.  That ensures that it's REALLY all closed up.)  Then just knit two together in the corners until you have the correct number of stitches required for your pattern, and forge on.


 Also, my size 11 straights from KnitPicks came in the mail last week, and I finished up my One-Row-Handspun Scarf in about an hour.


It's short, and the perfect length for tucking into the front of a coat, or fastening with a shawl pin (sorry, the picture above is complete crap, but eating that bread just blew all of my initiative.).  Or maybe I'll realize that I have the perfect button in my stash, and sew that to one of the ends.  For now, I just love that this crazy handspun has been turned into something useful.

Suddenly, I'm feeling the urge to turn back to my wheel again...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Detox time: what it feels like to go RAW

For the most part, I have a very good immune system.  My children and husband will all get sick around me, yet usually I just get a faint hint of the symptoms, or stay completely healthy.  Sometimes though, everything seems to go wrong.  I come down with one thing, and then, like dominoes, I get one annoying malady after another.  Recently I've endured a string of medications for various things, and one medical intervention seems to lead to another.  I decided that at last, I'd had enough.  My body needs a rest, and it needs a chance to heal itself.  To facilitate this, I've challenged myself to a 3-day vegan raw food "fast".

In the beginning, I was pretty certain that I wouldn't make it.  I felt panicky thinking about all of the things I WOULDN'T be able to eat...and realizing how wholly unprepared for this I am -- I don't generally eat almost ANYTHING raw.  Raw food tends to take longer to eat, and is less filling (an apple vs. a muffin?  The muffin wins every time).  With 4 children and an always hungry husband to care for, RAW just sounds like a terrible lifestyle choice.  However, I was getting desperate, so I on Tuesday, I took the plunge.

Added to the raw diet, I also decided to do a detox drink three times a day: 1 tablespoon maple syrup (supposed to be grade B, but I only had the grade A, so that's what I'm using), 2 tablespoons vinegar (the unfiltered kind "with the mother" still in it), a few healthy dashes of cayenne pepper, and a bunch of cold water to bring it all together.

Finally, I chose to cut my coffee consumption by a third. It's not much, but every morning I drink 3/4 cup of cold press coffee cut with 3/4 a cup of milk. It's delicious. I didn't want to go cold turkey and deal with the migraines on top of food cravings, so I decided to just cut my coffee to 1/2 cup of the cold press concentrate, and make up the rest in water (it never occurred to me to use almond or rice milk instead of the water. In retrospect, that would have been a better idea.)

Day 1: I felt hungry, weak, and had a lingering headache.  Oh, and did I mention hungry?  RAVENOUS.   All that I could think about was food...and all of the food that I could not have.  I had a banana for breakfast, and a small coldpress coffee. 

At the gym on my stationary calisthenic machine, it seemed that the only things on TV were commercials for FOODFOODFOOD.  That was a little rough.  For dinner, I made my family tacos, which I can do in my sleep, and according to Greg (since I did not taste it), did a good job of seasoning by eye and by smell.  Score one for me.

I ate several salads throughout the day, the best of which was a cherry tomato, avocado and radish salad with a bit of crushed garlic, extra virgin olive oil and some sea salt.  I didn't feel hungry for about an hour, which was kind of huge.


After a tossed green salad for dinner, I snacked on grapes before bed, but still fell asleep feeling hungry, not even wanting to imagine going through two more days of this.

Day 2: I had ordered a book on raw food from, and it was supposed to come sometime that day.  ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT WAS GETTING THAT BOOK.  I ate yet another banana for breakfast before going to the gym (along with a small cup of cold press coffee cut with water), and this time noticed a good deal of energy. It was like I was burning "clean" fuel instead of feeling my body fight through the digestion of my usual breakfast (2 slices of homemade bread with butter, a coffee with milk). About half-way through the day, the much anticipated book landed at my doorstep:

Raw Food Made Easy For 1 or 2 People

Hope sprang anew! There are beautiful color photographs sprinkled throughout, and I felt like life just might be worth living again. (Have I ever discussed how OBSESSED I am with food? No? Remind me to bring it up sometime.)  Most importantly, this book does not require that you have all sorts of Raw Foodie tools (such as a dehydrator).  Also, the ingredient lists are pretty standard to your average household, so overall this is a great book for beginners in this sort of cuisine.

After making a big pot of garlicky lentils and rice for Greg and the children, I made a warm bowl of Miso soup for myself, from one of the recipes in the Raw Food book. I'm not sure if it counts as a totally raw recipe, since the carrots and spinach are soaked in freshly boiled water for 5 minutes, but MY GOSH it was good to have something hot and filling and NOT SALAD.

As an evening snack, I made a pecan pate and scooped it atop some fresh greens, as one might do with tuna or chicken salad. It was filling, and rather tasty.

Day 3: This morning, once again, I was not super groggy as I woke up. I mean, I felt sleepy and hungry, but not wiped out like I usually do when I roll out of bed. A banana and coffee for breakfast again, and a workout at the gym.

For lunch, I had some leftover pecan pate, so I spread spoonfulls of it on slices of vine-ripened tomato, showered some alfalfa sprouts over it, and lay some slices of black olive on top.

This was a riff on a recipe "Tomato Stacks" from the raw cookbook . I feel like I'm finally getting the hang of this "raw" business...and lunch was pretty filling and delicious. I sprinkled the dish with flaky Maldon sea salt for added texture. It was a thing of beauty.

After lunch, I felt like it was about time that I had something sweet. Using the raw cookbook once again, I followed the recipes for chocolate mousse and vanilla cream (with flecks of vanilla bean), and put it together with some sliced bananas as a parfait.

Daisy ate the chocolate mousse all by itself and kept asking for more.

She could never guess that the creamy body in the dish is actually avocados.

I'll never tell.

(Billy was taking a nap at the time of these pics, but he "helped" me to process these, and kept scooping giant heaping finger-fulls of the mousse into his mouth as I worked. I would call that a success!)

Overall, this has been an eye-opening experience. I feel more energized and healthy, and as long as I drink enough cups of water, have been able to have a pretty good attitude about this whole adventure.

Cons: Raw nuts and seeds are the "meat" of a raw vegan diet, and can get pretty expensive pretty quickly, although the produce side of it really isn't all that pricey. Also, I really, really miss bread. Really. This is not a very filling diet.

However, I think that it might be a good idea for me to continue to incorporate more raw into my normal diet, perhaps eating only raw for breakfast (but supplemented by a little yogurt and such) and mostly raw lunches, and definitely more raw snacks and desserts.

The idea of going completely vegan and completely raw in the next foreseeable future doesn't completely appeal to me, since I really like to eat meat, and also, dinner is a big way that Greg and I like to enjoy life together and connect at the end of the day. If I went totally raw, his cooked meals would get much more boring because I wouldn't be so compelled to try out new interesting things. Plus, it's pretty challenging to properly season something without taking a few tastes of it! I can see the benefits of a raw diet though, so I will continue to work it in where I can, as often as possible.

For now though?  I am REALLY looking forward to a non-vegan breakfast tomorrow.

But don't worry!  I'll break the fast slowly.  Promise.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A change of hair

Most of you who have known me for more than 4 years will remember something: I'm actually a Short Haired Girl. It was only when I became pregnant with Daisy that I decided to start growing my hair out so that I could opt for the super easy ponytail in the mornings. However, I no longer have a tiny baby in the house, and I actually sleep through the night, am not feeding anyone with my body, and other such novelties.  I think I can manage to style my hair into something a little more interesting now.

As of this morning, this is how long I had managed to grow it:

To donate your hair to Locks Of Love, your need to be able to cut off a ponytail of at least 10 inches:

Here it is, pre-dye:

And then after I'd treated it to a POWER RED:

(Feria color "R68")

It feels good to be back to normal again. :-)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Embroidery progress, a bread review and a dress-to-be

Back in July, Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching released a free robot (or "Hug-Bot") pattern on her site.  As soon as I had printed it out, Sparky claimed it for a pillow.  We went to the store together to select the perfect shade of embroidery floss, and finally decided on a variegated green (officially: "DMC Color Variations #4045").


I love the way the colors shift so subtly as I stitch.  (Sorry for the sub-par pic -- I was working quickly yesterday.)

While we were on our summertime road trip, I finished stitching the four embroidery designs to hang in the children's playroom.  I've put off showing them to you, because I wanted to have them all framed and hung up, but sadly I chose ONE WRONG frame last time that I was at the store, and now have to go back and get a different one (what are the chances that ONE OUT OF FOUR has no wall hanger?!  AGGHH!!)  So anyway, here they are (all patterns are available at Aimee Ray's Etsy shop, "little dear"):

Man Hill

 Happy Garden


Bird Hill


Grandfather Mushroom (this one is free and available here, as well as instructions for crayon tinting your fabric)


I plan to pick up the correct 4th frame later on this week, so I should be able to show you the Final Display soon after.

Completely unrelated: I have fallen hopelessly in love with Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Bread.


It's freaking fantastic, and stays beautifully delicious for days, thanks to all of the butter, eggs and milk.  I've tinkered around with the recipe, substituting half White Whole Wheat for the White All Purpose, swapping out the sugar for honey, and finally came to switching out all of the All Purpose for White Bread Flour (along with 1 Tablespoon of Vital Wheat Gluten), and OH!  The texture of that bread is the lux, soft, nearly elastic texture that I was looking for.  (Subbing in half White Whole Wheat would be great too, as long as the White Bread Flour is used for the other half -- and the Vital Wheat Gluten.)


So to recap: DO NOT USE ALL PURPOSE FLOUR.  Your loaf will be crazy dry, and you'll find yourself using insane amounts of butter on your toast.  Use Bread Flour.  It's Slap Yo Mamma Good.

Oh, and broiling a slice with butter and cinnamon sugar on top?  It'll change your life.

This weekend I did some clearance shopping at Old Navy and scored this cute little dress for about $5.


Today's project: use this dress to make a knock-off version sans ruffles, and possibly with a gored skirt and elastic below the bustline.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It's A Three Ring Circus (Scarf)

So the other day, I grabbed a skein of handspun that I finished up a while ago...actually I'm pretty sure that I never blogged it, so here it is:


It was that coreless-corespun skein that I was working on from a Loop Spontaneous Spinning Cloud, colorway "Three Ring Circus".


After the fussy, fingering weight drapey sweater that I FINALLYFINISHEDOHMYGOSH, I seriously needed something cool to look at, and mindless to knit.  Oh, and something quick.  And not in the round, because I wanted to use a pair of my KnitPicks Harmony straight needles.  Words cannot express my love for these needles.

I immediately had the perfect pattern in mind -- Stephanie Pearl McPhee's One Row Handspun Scarf.  I cast on, and, after a few false starts, determined the perfect number of stitches was 14, and the perfect needle size for this yarn was #11.  On Thursday afternoon during nap time, I turned on an audio book (The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Steig Larson), got cozy with my yarn, and almost in the blink of an eye, I had at least a foot of scarf.



Oh yeah baby, texture?  That's what I'm talking about.  OH. YEAH.

But...well, this is where the story gets a little sketchy.  Take a quick look at the little face below.


She's either being smug or sweet, I can't tell.

Anyway, on Thursday after nap time, she and I began having something of a...challenging day.  She had been practicing her Little Girl Scream, which I have a zero tolerance for (a good shout is fine on occasion, but the ear-splitting, glass-shattering shriek?  Not in this house.), and had shredded the cover off of her favorite board book (Good Dog, Carl), as well as other grievances which thankfully, I don't still remember.  It was the last straw when, in the evening as I was running out the door to Knit Night, I discovered that MY NEEDLES HAD BEEN PULLED OUT OF THE SCARF.  This was not an emergency, but I was still upset.  The children all know that one of the most important rules of this house (according to me) is DO NOT TOUCH MOMMY'S KNITTING.  EVER.  I confronted her about it, and she started crying and said she was sorry.  It was only when I actually arrived at Knit Night that I discovered:


The end of one needle had been CHEWED OFF.  And the teethmarks in the wood were pretty small.

It was not until the next day that I discovered the truth (or possibly the truth.  With these little people, it's hard to be sure.)  In passing conversation the next day, she calmly told me about how Max had pulled my needles out, and then baby Billy had "tried to draw with them", and then "tried to eat them".  And yes, I did have some strong words with Max later on that day about letting someone else take the heat for your own mistake.  He MAY have learned his lesson.

Overall, Thursday was so stressful with all of the misbehaviour and destructive action (disciplining each time, but seemingly with no change), so I knew what we needed to do on Friday: An intensive Daisy and Mommy cuddle/fun day.  I shelved all of my projects and plans for the day, and we played with play dough, colored, built blocks, and then when Billy went down for his nap, I kept her up for a little while, gathered her into my lap with a quilt around us, and we read some books together, just the two of us.  As I tucked her into her bed for her nap a little while later, she looked up at me with the sweetest, most satisfied face -- the face of a little girl who knows how loved she is.  And I knew that it had been a day well spent.  Peace, my friends.  You simply can't put a price on it.

P.S. I have a new pair of #11 straights on order, so I'll be able to resume the scarf next week.  For now, I'm working on this:

Garter Yoke Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...