Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just for fun...

On the eve of December, I've decided to play around with the background of my blog.  All this month (December, that is), I'll be trying out different background pictures from the lovely site "Shabbyblogs.com".  It's all about the holidays, oh yeah!

(Can you tell I like this time of year?)

I only buy the Martha Stewart "Living" magazine twice a year, for October/Hallowe'en, and for December/The Holidays.  Telling, no?  The rest of the year I look to the outside, but now, it's about being inside and warm, with love and light and lots of wonderful food!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wrangling the stash

Every once in a while, I take a look, a real look at the entirety of my yarn stash.  I'm doing so this week, and I've realised, once and for all, that I have way more yarn than I need or will likely use in the next five years.  This means a thorough inventory, and updating my Ravelry stash page (for those of you on Ravelry - aren't stash pages great?), and yes, destashing a bunch of the yarn.

It really is amazing to look through bins of yarn that I have forgotten about.  It's like buried treasure.  Or trash.  A "What was I thinking buying this?" moment bubbling up a few times.  Brenda Dayne of the "Cast On" podcast calls it the "annual airing of the stash", something I think most of us knitters/crafters can benefit from regularly.

So that's what I'm doing - "airing" my stash.  Will have destash details soon, for those interested.

Sharing a lovely blog

I want to share a wonderful artsy blog that I found a while back - Frosted Petunias.  Ms. Frosted, or Anna, is an artist.  She creates all the backgrounds and pictures for her blog - amazing seasonal themes that leave me wishing I could create such similar beauties.  I first read her blog in mid-October, when she was preparing for a Hallowe'en "Tea Party".  I fell in love with the autumnal theme - the reddish leaves, the warm background, the witches, a moon, and a crow.  And now she has frosty, gilded snowflakes, with white, silver and gold.  Ah, the colours are so right for each part of the season, from what I've seen so far.  She clearly loves creating, and blogging.

I hope you'll visit her blog, with it's delightful pictures, buttons, links and visuals.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This week on the needles, November 21st

Not terribly exciting on the knitting update this week.  I am still working on the cardigan for my son, as per last week's post, and also still working on the test knit sock, only further along.  The Damson is hibernating for the moment as I finish up the other two. I also needed the 4.5mm needle so that I could knit a swatch for a future sweater project.

That's it for this week - short & sweet :-)

Birthday Blooms

This past Thursday I turned 35.  Yes, I am now officially in my "mid-30's".  A somewhat scary prospect, but many people have made important contributions to the world at or after 35.  Still, I don't plan to wait much longer.

My husband, lovely man that he is, brought me a dozen red roses and a dozen pink carnations, and they are stunning! I'm not a fan of pink, but it's okay for flowers. I took some photos, though they don't show the true red as well as I'd like.  But here are my best efforts:

And standing:
And playing in B&W:

Oh! And I got a birthday massage as well - happy toes for me!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

This week on the needles - November 14th

I have been both busy knitting and busy not knitting lately.  I've also been starting and working on pieces when other WIPs/UFOs lay ignored.  Ah, as is the nature of a non-monogamous knitter, which I fully admit to being!

Right, to the knitting...!

As I mentioned in the last "This week on the needles" in late October, I started a cardigan for my youngest son.  It's coming along nicely.  I'm about 2-3 inches from completing the body, then I get to add the sleeves.  Then some colourful buttons, and we're good to go.  WIP picture below:


I've recently started two new projects.  First is a shawl pattern by Ysolda Teague, called "Damson".  I wanted to make use of an amazingly soft alpaca/silk/cashmere fingering yarn called "Sumptuosity Fingering", hand-dyed in blue/purple/pink semi-solid loveliness by All for the Love of Yarn dyer Angela.  Angela and I recently participated in an indie dyer's swap through Ravelry.  I sent her a skein of my Kuan-Yin sock yarn in the deep ruby/blood red "Brigid".  I think we are both pretty pleased with our traded yarns.  Yarn p@rn below:


The skein is knitting up so nicely - a fine fingering, and the pattern, so far, is pretty easy.


And the second new project I started the other day is test knitting a new sock pattern called "Don't Ask Y", by Janelle.  I am using my own hand-dyed sock yarn called Heithrun Sock, a merino/cashmere/nylon sock base that is very popular and lovely to knit with.  The colourway is a test dye called "Red Kuri Squash".  I'm using the pattern instructions for the "large" size (64 stitches total), and following the written (as opposed to the charted) instructions.  Will keep you posted.
The sock so far:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Recipes: Cauliflower/Leek/Potato Soup

Winter tends to bring on the regular making of soup in many households.  I love home-made soup, and while I do make soup all year round, the cool weather begs the pot to be filled with hearty, healthy ingredients.

I don't tend to follow recipes when making soup, unless it's a particular one shared with me because it's so good.  I create my own recipes, which are rarely made the same way twice.  However, it's good to have a basic ingredient list for each soup, which may vary a little depending on food stuffs availability, or to be built upon.

So the soup recipe I want to share with you this week is one that I made just tonight.  I've made it many times before, but this batch was particularly toothsome, and I had to mention it.

Cauliflower/Leek/Potato Soup:
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 large leeks, or 5-6 small ones
  • 2-3 medium cloves of garlic
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2-3 medium/large russet potatoes
  • 4-6 cups chicken/turkey or veggie stock
  • 1/2 cup milk (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated cheese (optional)
How to:

- roughly dice onion and leeks
- add to heated olive oil in a large soup pot
- let the onions and leeks cook and soften, about 5 minutes, then add garlic (finely diced)
- after a minute of the garlic cooking, add the stock
- while the stock heats up, roughly chop the cauliflower and potatoes; add to pot
- bring contents to boil, stirring occasionally
- turn down to simmer, and let the cauliflower and potatoes cook until tender, 5-10 minutes
- once cooked through, remove from heat.
- blend the entire soup using either a hand-held mixer or a stand-alone blender; blend until smooth
- return to stove top and turn heat to minimum
- soup will likely be creamy-looking already, but I like to add a bit of milk to add to the creaminess.  This is optional though.
- add salt and pepper to taste
- I like to grate some cheese over each bowl.  You can add it to the soup pot instead and flavour the entire thing.  Some cheeses to choose - a sharp cheddar, a smokey gouda, a creamy harvarti, a garlicky specialty cheese, a "stinky" but flavourful cheese.
- crackers or taco chips can be added as a final touch.

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The week after candy

I meant to post this sooner, as it's been exactly a week since Hallowe'en.  It was a quiet one for me - my boys and husband went trick-or-treating, and I stayed home to hand out wee chocolates bars (and knit).

However, I did manage to take pictures of our pumpkins.  We carve four every year, for each one of our family.

Here is the pumpkin of my youngest son, carved by his Dadda:


And my oldest son's:


My husband's pumpkin, who encountered someone with a sword....


And finally, my own, one that had too much candy...

Proud "mama"

I may have mentioned this spring that we were playing hosts to some Mason Bees (a type that doesn't make honey), with a wooden box as their home.  The forty or so that I encouraged to hatch didn't all stay around (my mistake - didn't read the manual - oops!), but several did, and laid eggs.  What happens is that each egg gets it's own spot in a long, narrow tunnel in the box, and the mama bee makes a wax/mud wall in between to form a cell.  Each cell contains an egg and is surrounded by a bright yellow pollen bed to nourish the growing pupae.  This happens in late spring.  Come October-ish, the developing bees have formed cocoons around themselves and are ready to be "harvested".

This, below, is what I harvested today:


My very first batch of Mason Bees, all thirty of them. I opened up the wooden box (in layers) and carefully removed the cocoons from the tunnels, then cleaned the wooden layers and the cocoons.  Now that the cocoons are dry, I'll put them in a ventilated box with clean toilet paper and then into the fridge to keep them in the hibernation mode.  Come next March I'll bring them out and let the sun and warmth encourage them to hatch and make babies of their own.

I'm so proud!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rebooting my life

That's what it feels like, anyway.  My Mac laptop is back, with a new hard drive, and quite empty but for the small amount that I'm starting to add to it.

I find it a rather impish, or perhaps ironic, coincidence that the hard drive (and thus the disappearing of my old files, photos, emails, etc.) happened on the weekend of Samhain (30/31st), which is the Celtic New Year.  "Out with the old" indeed.  Yes, Universe, I hear you.  I just wish you would have given me a head's up so that I could have saved all the baby photos of my second son.  Would a little warning have been so hard?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trying to avoid the Angst

This past Saturday my MacBook Pro laptop decided that it's hard drive wasn't a workable resource anymore.  This is from a computer that was put together earlier this year, and has only been in use for about a month.  How the hard drive could die after only one month is beyond me.

And to add the proverbial salt to this electronic wound, all the data (five years worth of files, recently transferred over from my old Mac) is not retrievable.  Gone.

I'm trying not to think about it too much, but, knowing that I've been collecting files for that long, there are likely to be many things that I will very much regret losing.  It's been quite the blow.

P.S. I'm consoling myself with Hallowe'en chocolate and Bailey's.