Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Baking Spree

Dear and I visited a new Farmer's Market last weekend (well ... new to us, anyway), located in downtown Fort Collins. We were pleased with the number of farmers there, and saw a few things that we had never seen before. We stocked up on fresh veggies and salad-fixin's, and found an absolutely ENORMOUS zucchini and squash.

Unfortunately, I have no before pictures of these ... I know they were not your traditional zucchini and squash, they were supposed to be as big as they were. They were each longer than my forearm, and as wide around as a loaf of Italian bread. I'm not exaggerating, these things were HUGE, and we had to figure out what to do with them.

Answer: zucchini bread!
My first effort, and it came out REALLY tasty if I do say so myself. I love a thick hunk of zucchini bread with cream cheese along with my iced coffee for breakfast, so rest assured I will be making more of this. I'll try to remember to take a before-picture of the zucchini next time, too. The recipe was a basic one from my Betty Crocker cookbook (which I LOVE). I also found a recipe in that cookbook that solved my problem of too-many peaches.

My first-ever zucchini bread, followed by my first-ever peach cobbler, both in the same afternoon. The house smelled so yummy, and this peach cobbler is scrumptious. The peaches are some of the best I've had in YEARS, and I can't wait until we're back from our vacation this weekend, so I can go back to the Farmer's Market and buy more, More, MORE!!

Next up: canning. :-D

Pretty pretty flowers ....

We have some serious weed problems in our yard. Not only is the lawn plagued by dandelions, but we have tons and tons of other spiky prickly grassy weeds that pop up in the rocks surrounding our lawn. The dandelions don't really bother us, because they get cut down with the mower and then we can pretend they aren't there ... but we've had to do a serious weed-ing a few times already this summer, and it looks like we'll have to do at least one or two more.

A couple weeks ago, Dear and I were frantically trying to weed the back yard gravel areas before a rain storm came down upon us, so we opted to leave the two side portions alone. The house and fence block them from public view, there are no windows that look out onto those areas, and we decided that "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" would serve us best in this instance.

Imagine my surprise a few days ago when I went out to water the garden and discovered that our weeds were actually ....
Pretty wild flowers! They're very sunflower-esque, but I think they are just a sunflower-wannabe. These flowers are now cropping up all over our neighborhood (even out of the storm drain by our mailbox! I was going to photograph it, but the heat killed them before I got out there with my camera), and I think they are pretty. So I'm glad that we didn't pull them out before they flowered, and I'm also glad that I now have an excuse to leave them be.

I love that the procrastination lessons I learned in high school and college are still serving me well today. PS, I went out to water the garden this morning, and some of these flowers were taller than the fence. Holy crap.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Off My Nightstand

I've been lucky enough to have some extra reading time lately, and I've really enjoyed the last few books I've finished. A major feat was finishing the 1400+ pages of The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, the fifth book in the Outlander series.
Photo jacked from

I just love these books, and each one is longer than the next ... but I never really seem to notice and am always a little sad to finish another one. If you are unfamiliar with this series, you should do yourself a favor and read the first one, Outlander. It's a historical romance series, but so much more than that ... mythical time travel mixes with 1700's Scotland. Kind of hard to describe without them sounding cheesy, so just trust me and read them. You won't be disappointed.

After such a long book, I wanted something easy to plow through, so I checked out Tana French's Faithful Place from the library. I only had seven days to read it, but I plowed through it in five. 400 pages is nothing after you've finished 1400+.
Photo again jacked from

This was a really good book, a quick murder mystery that had a decent twist at the ending. I love her character development and how she doesn't give away everything directly at the beginning. I read In The Woods by her a couple years ago and LOVED it.

After Faithful Place, I cranked through Tina Fey's Bossypants on my Kindle.
Yes. Amazon. Again.

If you're a fan of Tina Fey (and a woman), you should read this book. She has such a great attitude, funny and self-deprecating, and it was fun to read about her experiences getting onto SNL, the whole Sarah Palin look-alike deal, and starting 30 Rock. I've been a fan of hers for a long time, and it turns out we have a lot of things in common, so I really enjoyed this. I say that you should be a woman to read it because she talks about a lot of woman-stuff ... pregnancy, motherhood, breast feeding, periods ... it's all in there, and well-written about and hilarious if you are a woman. I tried to read some of these lines out loud to Dear, and he just grunted. I think it's lost on men, but I was laughing out loud throughout this book.

Some friends are loaning me a few more books coming up, so I'll keep up the recommendations. For those of you who are anti-Kindle, let me put it this way: I will never give up reading books, I love the feel of turning a page too much. But I love my Kindle. L-O-V-E. For a 1400+ page book like The Fiery Cross, it was AMAZING, and it's really easy to read while I eat my lunch because it frees up both of my hands. So I will happily continue to read printed books ... and I will happily continue to read books on my Kindle. So there.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Best Buttons EVER

I'm developing a class that I am going to be teaching at a few shops in the Denver area and up here in Fort Collins (dates TBA). I had been itching to knit up another Baby Surprise Jacket, and suddenly it occurred to me that a lot of people might benefit from a class helping them through the pattern. Elizabeth Zimmermann is notoriously vague in her patterns, encouraging knitters to think as they go and pay attention to their knitting. The Baby Surprise Jacket is one of her classic patterns.
One of the benefits of the pattern is it can be knit in any gauge yarn. You choose needles that go with the yarn weight you pick, and knit it up. Whatever size it comes out is perfect: kids grow, so even if it's big for a newborn, they can always wear it later! I knit this cutie up holding two strands of Linie 2 Supersocke Silk (here's a link to my Rav page). It took me two whole skeins (four, actually, because I was holding two strands together). This is what the piece of fabric looks like when you cast it off.
Then, you connect A to A and B to B and SURPRISE! A baby sweater (hence the name). I left the shoulder seams un-sewn because I plan to use this as a demo piece in my classes. Once the classes are over, I'll stash this away until Dear and I start having kids of our own. I picked out the best buttons EVER at My Sister Knits.
Purple hippos!! You just don't get cuter than this.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Stuff to Sell

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my dear friend Tim has agreed to try to sell some of my hand-knit goods in the super duper shop he manages in Chicago, called Hazel. I'm knitting up hats and fingerless gloves for him to have during the winter months, but since it's still really freaking hot throughout most of the country, I have a few other things up my sleeve.

Here's the first hat that I've finished for him.

Knit from my own handspun done a while ago, this is a superwash wool hat in the colorway Snake in the Grass, purchased from the Loopy Ewe (my apologies to the dyer for my poor record-keeping ... I can't remember who did this great roving). The pom-pom was a last-minute decision and I love it. I'll be doing more of these in a slightly different variation. I love the way the grey ended up striping ... this was a super-bulky 3-ply that I plied at random, so the colors matching up where they did was totally un-planned.


I've been trying to take a little time each day to work on a project that can go into my Etsy store, so I can get that up and running again. I've been spinning through my fiber stash, and have a few knitted project ideas that my dear friend Tim will be selling at the awesome store he manages in Chicago, Hazel. More on that later.

My latest spinning project was some blue-green-purple-yellow-white stuff that I've had in my stash for a good few months. I can't remember for sure where I bought it, and I can't remember for sure what's in it ... but I'm pretty sure it's mostly wool and the white shiny stuff is some kind of silk.
You'll have to forgive the flash photo -- I tried taking the picture in natural sunlight and it washed itself out. This is the closest I got to its actual colors.

The result is a DK to Fingering weight 2-ply (I'm getting smaller!!) that has some nice color variation and a little bit of sheen where the silk comes through. I only had about two ounces to begin with, so I just divided what I had in half and spun the two plies against each other, rather than trying to match it with something else. I ended up with approximately 252 yards, a decent amount to make something pretty.

Baby Pants

When I found out my cousin was pregnant and due at the end of this year, I immediately started brainstorming what adorable little baby thing I could knit for her. At My Sister Knits one day, I spotted a sample of the a-DOR-able Kinoko Pants by Yumiko Sakurai {Rav link} and immediately decided that was what I needed to cast on.

A couple things would dictate the yarn I used for this one: first, you never EVER want to give a new mother a baby garment that is hand-wash only. It just shouldn't happen. The garment will either sit un-used in a drawer for fear of being ruined, OR it will be machine-washed within the first two months and thus completely ruined. So it had to be washable.

Second, my cousin lives near Phoenix. Wool is not generally necessary in Phoenix. So I wanted a nice washable baby cotton in a color that could work for either boys or girls (she won't find out until later this month which one she's having). I chose a nice, bright, happy yellow in Plymouth Yarn Company's Cotton Kisses. It's a very knubbly yarn, and somewhat splitty, but I knit these little pants on size 6 needles in less than a week; the splittiness was easier to deal with than I had expected, when properly pointy needles were used.

Here's a link to my Ravelry project page for these where you can find more details and notes. These knit up really quick and I love them ... I think they're adorable, and a nice change from baby sweaters. The cotton means they'll be cool enough to use in Phoenix, and absorbent enough that a leaky diaper is not the end of the world (another plus of using washable wool for baby garments, but I digress).

I'm not sure why I'm so into baby knits lately, but I suspect it has something to do with the satisfaction of finishing so many projects so quickly, and the cuteness of the wee finished object. It's also not helping that I'm working on developing a class for various shops between Fort Collins and Denver on Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket ... so baby clothes are just naturally coming out of the woodwork, so to speak. Just say "awwwww" and go with it.