September 2009 Archives

House poor but well fed


Owning a house is expensive, especially when you start with no furniture. So we've been keeping ourselves on a tight budget, rarely eating out, and being extra conscientious about how we spend our grocery money. It's turned out to be easier than we would have thought, because our home is near quite a bit of farm land and where there are farms, there are farm stands.

Every Sunday, we pack into the car, find another little road to travel and pick up fresh tomatoes, zucchini, corn, garlic, onions, carrots, apples, eggs and anything else that looks fresh and delicious. During our drives we've even found vineyards and an alpaca farm. All of this and we live just 15 minutes from downtown Portland. We even found a u-pick farm with everything from cantaloupes to brussels sprouts. What a life.

As we adapt to less take-out and more stay-in, I'm trying to flex my rudimentary cooking skills and take full advantage of our stocked veggie drawer.

Things I like to cook and eat
1. Fried Zucchini, 2. Sweet corn is sweet, 3. Blueberry crisp, 4. Slow grilled tomatoes - after, 5. Braised Chicken, 6. Braised Short Ribs with Tomatoes
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Click the individual picture names for the recipes.

I'll be sad when the farm stands close down for the winter, and we have to go back to getting our produce at the grocery store, but in the mean time, we're having a great time finding new farms and coming up with filling and healthy meals to prepare.



In this day and age of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and FriendFace reconnecting with people from your past is about as novel as a fax machines, which is just as well since I'm a complete hermit and never leave the house.

No, for me, the reunion was all about finding this.

Class book

This happens to be required reading for my class this term and it was a book I read, probably, 6-7 years ago just because. The problem? It was in one of 14 boxes that had been sitting in our garage for the past 3 years.

Digging for the book was unearthing years of my life. It's odd how just seeing a book can bring me right back to the time when I read it, good or bad.

Sundry Books

It's funny to find a long ago book on astrology in the box I opened after the box full of tomes on skepticism. If I laid everything out chronologically, it might well function as a sort of auto biography.

But what's even more telling are the arts and crafts books

Too many craft books

Sorted in piles I've tagged here, here and here, they are a cornucopia of good and ill conceived ventures in creativity. But even the country cross stitch and 80s teddy bear sweater books have a special place in my heart, not so much because I will ever (EVER) use them but because they take me back to another time in my life that I can hardly remember, some days.

Oh books, how I love you so. Now all we need are some book cases.

House a little warmer


When I think of Julia, I think of clean and flattering designs with thoughtful feminine details. There's never anything fussy or kitschy, and her materials are top notch. Even in a time of pom-pom and sequined yarns, Julia's taste was merino and silk, which is why I never expected her to pick up a few yards of this fabric, when she started sewing again.

Topless Cowboy Apron

Pinup girls be damned, I'm looking at some shirtless cowboys!

But the thing is, I love this fabric. As I mentioned in the comments of her post about this fabric, a couple years ago, it reminds me of an art project I made in the 7th grade, using Jockey underwear ads. I'll leave it at that.

But that was something like 2 years ago. I'd forgotten those handsome devils and their pickup trucks. I'd forgotten, that is, until I opened my mailbox yesterday and found this:

Topless Cowboy Apron

Great googily moogily! It's topless cowboys in apron form! Do you see this? Check out those sweet little sage green pockets and long ties. There's even a little loop, perfect for holstering one's tongs or, even a hammer, were one so inclined.

Well, I loved it so much that I thought it deserved a proper photo shoot, including vintage dress, rolling pin and a bit of hamming it up for the camera.

Topless Cowboy Apron Topless Cowboy Apron

What can I say but, thank you, Julia, this apron is the best.

Memories of Mumbai


The Tour de Fleece pushed me to do a lot of spinning and now I feel compelled to knit my new skeins.

The thing, though, with knitting your own handspun is that the quantity you have is it, especially if you buy handpainted fibers produced in small quantities. Mostly, my skeins run 2-4 ounces which may vary in yardage depending on fiber type, ply and weight. Ideally, I want to avoid projects where I'll come up short on yardage, but I still want to use as much of the yarn up as possible so as not to waste any of my hard work spinning it. A challenge!

My very last skein from the tour was a merino/bamboo blend from Freckle Face Fibers that I spun up into a little more than 600 yards of fingering weight singles. It seemed like plenty of yardage for a rectangular wrap, so I got to looking through some stitch dictionaries to find something that was lacy but simple enough to stand up to the highly variegated rainbow colorway.

Making use of my kitchen scale and a center pull ball, I managed to achieve my goal of using the entire skein, with no waste.

I call this, "burning the skein at both ends."

I trimmed the shawl with a little Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud in a light beige shade, blocked and voila.

Handspun and Alpaca shawl

The colors make me think of the lovely silk saris I admired on my brief trips to India and the simple scarf shape and ruffle remind me of one of my favorite shawls that I bought there.

Handspun and Alpaca shawl
Do you see anyone peeking around the corner.

The main motif is out of one of the Barbara Walker treasuries, and then I scaled it down near each end and finished it off with a simple ruffle.

Handspun and Alpaca shawl

The cast on edge is actually the center back and to use up as much yarn as possible I used the tail from the cast on and felted it to the start of the yarn that I used to pickup and knit down from the other end. So the only ends were at each end.

And lastly, my dogs are cute.

Manzanita 09/06/09

In the works


Well, your collective response to my inquiry about that slouchy cowl in my last post was so great that I got right to writing the pattern. My beta reviewers are looking over the very rough draft and then it's off to the tech editor early next week. As per most of my for sale patterns, it'll be offered in 12 sizes and have plenty of tips for getting a good fit. I hope it'll be well received.

It took a while to get the charts, calculations, schematic and text together, and I still need to get some detail shots and start the layout, but I've taken the summer off from classes, I don't have any design deadlines, and the most time consuming parts of the move are done so I actually had some *gasp* free time! I'm trying not to get used to it.

I've even had a little time for some more knitting

Prism lace transition

The yarn is some of the singles I spun during the Tour de Fleece. It started off looking like this.

Prism as hat

It's going to be a rectangular wrap but I think it'll be coming up a little shorter than I'd like so I've set aside some possible yarn with which to trim it.

And, since I've been doing cable charts for this project, I'm thinking about doing another illustrator chart tutorial. I just need to find the box the microphone.

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