Monthly Archives: January 2013

Paperwhites

These paperwhites were supposed to bloom for Christmas, but they’re late.

paperwhites

Still beautiful though! The bulb is growing in a jar of water and pebbles. Does anyone know if it’s possible to help it last until summer so it can be saved and bloom again next year?

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January thaw

The snow pack outside is looking pretty soggy, because it’s been above freezing for more than 24 hours. The rain on Sunday didn’t help much either.

January thaws are to be expected, what with it being January and all. It was a perfect weekend for opening the double doors long enough to get the Christmas tree out of the living room.

january thaw chickens

It was also the first weekend in months that the chickens actually deigned to come out of the coop and stand around in the muddy bits of exposed ground. So we all enjoyed a bit of a respite from the winter. But I hope it doesn’t last too long. I still want to get some more snow-shoeing in before spring!

squares

According to ravelry I started this project in March of 2009. It’s a sock yarn blanket… It’s knit with scraps of sock yarn, each square built off the last so there’s no seaming.

blanket squares

For some reason I decided knitting a queen sized blanket on US2 needles seemed like a brilliant plan. At the rate I’m going (it’s gone to deep hibernation 3 times already) I won’t finish before I die.

blanket squares3

But I keep plugging away. I’ve been working the starting tails into each square as I go. Recently I started working the tail of the last square into the base of the next one. Which means I don’t have any ends to weave in. Well, except for the 200 ends of the first 200 squares.

blanket squares2

I’ve knit approximately 286 squares so far, and this thing is decent sized stole. I’m considering blocking it out, just to see how tall the stockinette squares become after that. My reason is so I can accurately predict how many YEARS it’ll take to finish if I knit just one square a day…

chicken and sweet corn

I learned this soup is a real thing when I was googling around the internet looking for soups I could make with my leftover chicken that didn’t involve noodles and carrots… This soup is pretty different from most of what I’ve made. It came out really well (even Neil agrees) so hopefully we’ll branch out again for soup and bread night!

Ingredients
4 scallions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1T olive oil* 1T ginger, 1/2tsp white pepper, 1/4tsp each lemongrass and coriander**
2C chicken broth
1.5C shredded chicken
1.5C sweet corn in broth, or creamed corn
2T soy sauce
3T corn starch in 1/4C cold water
1 egg
1T lemon juice

chicken sweetcorn soup

I started by mincing, chopping, whisking, and otherwise prepping all the bits. Whisk the lemon juice into the egg. Whisk the corn starch into the cold water. Mince all the minced things, shred the chicken. If you don’t have leftover chicken start by cooking that too!

Heat the olive oil over high, toss in the garlic, scallions, and all the spices. Cook for just 2-3 minutes, then add the broth, chicken, corn, and soy sauce. If the broth is already salted you should probably cut back on the soy sauce.

When the soup comes up to a full boil whisk in the corn starch slurry and keep whisking until it thickens. Next turn it down to a low simmer and slowly stir in the egg so it forms strands. The whole process only took about 30 minutes, which is great for an after work meal!

chicken sweetcorn soup2

The internet tells me this soup is from asia – either india or china depending on the web site. But I feel the need to point out that corn didn’t come over from the americas until the 1500’s give or take 100 years… But it’s ok – it’s still a very tasty soup!

*This should probably be peanut oil, but I work with what I have on hand.
**Add more ginger if you like your sweet and sour soups with more bite. I readily admit I’m not good at any kind of spiciness.

curtains!

I’ve lived in this house for 5 years now, and the whole time we’ve had zero curtains in our living room. Window blinds yes, but no pretty window dressings.

curtains sewing

Finally all that has changed. After looking at the price of real curtains I hatched a plan to make them out of old bedsheets. This dovetailed perfectly with my mother clearing out her linen closet with 20 years worth of bedsheets for a family of seven.

curtains pinned

It’s not entirely clear to either of us why she had three flat sheets in the same pattern (where is the fourth?) But I thought the blue flower pattern would look perfect in my living room.

curtains seam

Two of the sheets were split into four so that each panel is as long as the sheet was wide. This doesn’t make for many gathers in each curtain, but it is enough. From there I only needed to hem the long edges, and sew a tube at the top. My sewing machine goes SO FAST. Which is perfect* for long, straight seams.

curtains finished

I love them. I don’t know why I waited so long.

*Also perfect for putting the needle through my finger and fingernail – but I don’t recommend that part.

personal care

It was finally time for more home made deodorant. Yup, you read that right. I’ve been using this stuff for years, and you know what? It’s awesome. I’m not just using it because I dislike excess chemicals in my life. I use it because it works BETTER than anything I’ve ever tried from the store.

Some people don’t really smell when they sweat – lucky folks. I am not one of those people. I find in the summer time (when I’m hiking or mucking out the chicken coop) store bought stuff eventually smells kinda sour. Maybe better than sweaty, but still stinky.

home made deodorant

This stuff doesn’t smell at all. It has essential oils added to mask the shea butter scent. But those fade after application, and then there’s no smell at all. Even in the summer, even when I sweat: No. Smells.

You know why I think that is? It’s mostly baking soda. If baking soda can remove the stink from the back of the fridge, why not from my arm pits too? Along with baking soda and shea butter there’s cocoa butter, cornstarch, vitamin E, and your favorite collection of essential oils. Lavender and tea tree smell like “clean” to me. Last time we balanced a lot of blends out with rosewood. This time I used a oil based perfume that wasn’t smelly enough for me to use it all the time.

Experiment, go with what works, have fun! But seriously, try this stuff because it’s amazing. I’ve never tweaked the base formula from what Angry Chicken recommends because it works so well. But she has some other links if this base isn’t the best for you. I imagine since each body is different that different deodorant recipes work for each of us.

Currant hat

Alternate title: My current currant hat – after all, I have two: purple and red!

currant hero

My Currant hat pattern is an old one. Maybe you never noticed it before? Or if you did, it was probably just to cringe at the old flash photography. Well cringe no longer!

currant gazing

I’ve finally gotten some new photos for this pattern. I’ve always loved these hats. They’re simple, fun to knit – and the knit up quickly too! With a button they’re pretty and feminine, without they make perfect men’s hats. What is it about a decorative button that makes something so much more lady-like?

currant side view

These poor hats have languished for years due to bad photography. And what’s worse is I’ve tried several times to get better photos. But always the lighting was off, I made poor style choices*, or the timing on a multi-pattern photo shoot went wonky and the hats never made it in front of the camera at all…

currant moody

Even this photo shoot isn’t perfect, the snow was REALLY dumping down on this day. But it was the only chance I could see for quite a while to get some decent photos. So I’ve decided to run with it. They’re winter hats, it’s a wintry setting – that’s appropriate for them! And it’s not like the snow hides any important details.

Now I have just my two old, free patterns still left in the old layout. Once I get those redone everything will be up to date! It’s only taking me two years to get through my whole back catalog…

*seriously, I apparently thought wearing my hair in a bun and trying to fit it under the hat would look good…

Ham & bean soup

We skipped soup and bread thursdays last week, something about the holidays and the snow storm on wednesday, and I just forgot – sorry!*

Today we have a really simple soup. Leftover ham from a ham steak, dried beans, a can of diced tomatoes… Add some spices and this becomes more than the sum of its parts.

ham and bean soup ingredients

Cook the onions in butter and olive oil until they’re translucent. Add ham (I threw in the bone for glossiness), beans, the can of tomatoes and juices, and whatever your favorite italian spices are.

The trick that makes this a (fairly) quick after work soup is to cook it on high heat. The dried beans will plump up in just about an hour if cooked at a rolling boil. The tomatoes broke down as they cooked and I added water several times as the soup boiled to keep it from getting too thick.

We served the soup with more white whole wheat bread. Simple, hearty, and delicious.

ham and bean soup

*It’s possible I’m the only one who cares. That’s fine too. Routine is important to me!

Mitt along wrap up

The ravelry knit along for my mitt patterns wrapped up today. And I want to send a special thanks to The Unique Sheep for sponsoring my knit along and offering up a prize! They’re sponsoring CraftLit right now as well, so I feel a bit like it’s all Unique Sheep, all the time in my head (and that’s a pretty good thing)

I loved this knit along so much, it was exactly what I needed in the middle of the secret book work, and in the middle of winter. Sometimes designing is a very isolating thing. There are long stretches where I’m working very hard behind the scenes but I have nothing to show for it. And where I’m working completely on my own, without needing to contact editors, yarn folks, or anyone else. It can feel like working in a void. But the ladies over in the Sheep Tweeps group (and on twitter, of course) really took me in and made me feel welcome! And! They produced some wonderful mitts:

mittalong collection

That’s a sampling, there was no way to get a screen grab with everyone’s mitts in the frame. The prize winners have been contacted, so if you finished some mitts for the mitt-along check your ravelry mail boxes.

I’m not really feeling like the end of 2012 holds anything special for me. I couldn’t wait to see the backside of 2011 but this year has been much better. Now, as we move from December into January I’ve got so much going on – projects, test knits, designs coming soon, yarn waiting to be knit up. Not to mention my new nephew, new projects around home, new chickens that are (finally) laying eggs. There are just so many things that smooth the transition from December into January and the only thing that really marks the new year is my new calender.

Oh yeah, if you ordered one of mine from Magcloud you’ve probably discovered that there’s no hole in the top for hanging it. I’m not sure why but Magcloud doesn’t seem to offer that option so you’ll need to correct the omission yourself, sorry!