Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sourdough 101

I finally reached a point in my life... Where I feel responsible enough to care for a sourdough starter. It's easy: 1C water, 1C flour, 1 tsp sugar. I put it in the food processor and gave it a whirl, then poured it into a bowl. It sat on my counter, covered in a tea towel for a week. Then, I poured it all into a mason jar, and added another 1 C flour, 1 C water and 1 tsp sugar, and I keep it loosely covered on the counter for a couple days, then put it in the fridge until another week has passed. Each week, I remove a cup of the mixture and use it to make bread, and replace what I removed with the flour/water/sugar mixture above, leaving it out for a couple of days and then returning it to the fridge for the rest of the week.

To make the bread: take 1 C of the starter and bring it to room temperature. Pour it into a large mixing bowl and add 1/2 C warm water, 1 pkg of dry yeast, 1 tsp sugar or honey, 2 Tbs melted butter and mix. Add enough flour (5-6 C) to make a stiff dough, mixing it in 1 C at a time. Knead the dough thoroughly. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover. Let the dough rise until doubled, punch it down and shape it into loaves, allow it to raise again, and bake it for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. If you want to be fancy, use a sharp knife to slash the top of each loaf before allowing it to rise the second time.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nashville Birthday Shawl

My sweet friend gave me 5 balls of Elsebeth Lavold's "Hempathy" in a delicious green as a birthday gift last month.

I searched for the perfect pattern, even being willing to purchase a few more balls of the lovely yarn if needed...
...but a Ravelry search reminded me that I have sincerely disliked lace knitting in the past, but have always longed to master it.

I found this shawl, for which I already owned the pattern, and so I began to knit!

The shawl went with me to Nashville, TN for a meeting. I was traveling with co-workers who don't mind driving, and so I was able to knit for 11 hours on the way and 12 hours on the return trip home! While in Nashville, I noticed a trend amongst the European women attending the conference; all were wearing beautiful stoles, whether with jeans and a t-shirt or with a dress.
They wore them tossed loosely around their necks as they walked from symposium to symposium - and when the air conditioning became a little chilly they simply unwound the stole and wrapped it around their shoulders. Beautiful. Practical. I was sold! (I bought a lovely hand-woven cashmere/silk shawl from the Nashville Center for the Visual Arts while I was there, but I will wear the handknit just as often!)
It's beautiful. I love the soft drape and the non-itchyness of the yarn. I briefly contemplated gifting the shawl, but it looks so danged good that I'm sure I'll keep it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The "spawning run" 5K

I've spent the last few days here in Nashville, TN (home of 1/2 of the "Mason Dixon" gals, of course). But I didn't come for the yarn! I came for the annual American Fisheries Society meeting, as I am the president of our local chapter this year. In addition to networking (read: drinking beer) with other fish heads, attending numerous symposia on a variety of fisheries management topics, and hitting a few local shops in the city, I also participated in my first ever 5K run. I didn't take any photos of myself running, but here's a pic of my number. I didn't place, but I never expected to. I did finish, and I ran far more of it than I walked, so I met my goal! My time was kinda ugly compared to the first place winner, but now I have a new goal and plan to track my improvement as I continue to run. Also, I got a T-shirt :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sewing project #2

A yard and a half of leftover fabric and a few alterations to an Amy Butler pattern makes another cute top!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's Sew Awesome

I've been thinking about a new sewing machine for awhile now. After saving some cash I was given as birthday gifts earlier this month, I grabbed my mom and went shopping. I knew what I wanted... more room in and under the arm so I could machine quilt, a few fancy stitches and a machine as dependable as my $200 Singer from Wal-mart that has served me so well for the last 13 years. I ended up with the Baby Lock Ellure, which was fully in my price range but has a lot of what I'd call "bells and whistles." It does far more than I expected to be able to do, but it does everything from simple straight seams to complicated embroidery designs with ease. The automatic needle threader is incredible, as is the spiffy addition of an amazing invention called the "automatic scissor," which cuts your thread at the end of your sewing line, before you pull your work out from under the presser foot. In short, this machine does a bunch of stuff I haven't even explored yet, but I'm convinced it's the last machine I'll ever buy - so I have a lot of time to figure it out. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the first project I sewed with it, a custom-fit shirt made from a combination of a Buttrick pattern and my own additions/adjustments based on my favorite button up shirt. I talked the salesman into a fantastic deal, far below retail and got a bunch of extra stuff, too. :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Birthday

No birthday cake, just a large chocolate extreme blizzard from DQ. My little boy is becoming a man.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Garden Vegetable Soup

6 - 8 tomatoes (I used romas)
1 medium yellow squash
10 new red potatoes
6 carrots
20 onions about 1 inch in diameter
6 C water or beef stock
2 T beef bullion (if using water)
1 lb stew beef

Brown the beef in a little olive oil. In the meantime, chop the veggies. Add the onions, carrots and potatoes, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes to give them a head start. Add the squash and liquids, simmer until all veggies are tender. Serve with baguettes.

Most of the veggies came from the gardens tended by my parents, but I grew the tomatoes and onions myself. I've envied my parents natural ability to grow things for most of my life, but the past two years have been the most productive for my own garden. It may be that I am finally gaining the wisdom that I always remember my parents having - after all, they were the age I am now when I was growing up. I did notice the first sign of crows feet this morning...

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Here's a quick snapshot of the berry crop today. We've been very fortunate to be able to enjoy a handful of tart red strawberries almost daily this summer.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fishing for Quilts

I've been working on this idea to make a dent in my growing stash of scraps, following a recent obsession with Escher. Hopefully, I'm keeping good enough notes to pass along a pattern!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Opinionated much?

Today, our 8 year old son told us that a 10 year old girl on his swim team gave him an "energy pill" that looked like a jelly bean, and told him that it had "a lot of caffeine" in it and that he would feel really tired after it wore off.

Let me preface my next few paragraphs by admitting to how disappointed I was in both my son's decision to take this "pill" and in myself for not realizing that I hadn't done enough so far in teaching my son how dangerous this situation could have been.

So, I did what I could in impressing upon him the possible risks he had taken in accepting the offer of an energy pill, explaining that it was irresponsible for him to take something when he had no idea what it was. As any good mother would, I gave him several examples of the worst scenarios I could think of, including of course the possibility of his own death.

Next, I placed a call to his coach... And tonight I made a call to the mother of the girl who offered this to my son.

Turns out, after hearing a long list of justifications from her on why her daughter had jelly beans that have caffeine added and was peddling them off to other kids on the team - ranging from hypoglycemia to preventing dehydration (?) to "there's really not THAT much caffeine in them" to training for a triathalon (at 10 years old???) And blah, blah, blah...

I began to wonder: Why is a candy company jumping on the energy supplement bandwagon and marketing this stuff to kids? Energy supplements are worthless at best and deadly at worst. No wonder our professional athletes (role models?) and even olympians are under such scrutiny for performance enhancers. If we're telling our 10 year olds that they can't compete without "energy pills" disguised as jelly beans (candy!), then how can we expect them to know where to draw the line? Energy drinks? Anabolic Steroids?

In any case, I'm glad I got the chance to teach my son a valuable lesson about making responsible decisions if he's ever presented with this situation again, and I'm glad that it was just a jelly bean with a little caffeine in it and not something worse.

He knows that he can have fun and even compete without any extra energy. Even if he never beats the girl with the caffinated jelly beans, I'll make sure he knows who the real winner is.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I'm Not Martha...

...But for a few bucks, I can pretend I am. My youngest and I are covered in glitter, and so is my kitchen floor. I found this kit at Wal-mart on the crafts clearance isle, and thought they'd be fun. They came out great, and the bird shapes are pre- cut double sided stickers. Almost homemade :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Holey Knitted Fabric Batman!

After maticulously cleaning every one of the 8 billion tiny parts and re-assembling each of them... It's ALIVE!!!! Mwah ha ha ha!

253 rows knitted in under 2 hours. Only a few setbacks, and a ton of new knowledge gained. Whew, I'm going to bed!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Strick Matador

Here's a preview of what my oldest son and I have been working on for the past few days. Knitting machines are actually pretty simple in design, but holy cats are there a lot of teensy pieces to keep track of. We removed, cleaned, and replaced every single piece of this machine, purchased for $25 at an estate sale by a sweet friend with an eye for a deal. I hope it works!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Good Advice and More Garden Pictures

Amidst all of the seemingly generic advice I've found in my fortune cookies, I've had a wierd run lately. This one rings particularly true.
A somewhat unwelcome guest. I only allow it because the plant is literally buried behind a fence and among some trees in our yard, and so I'm certian that I would be facing an ugly episode of poison ivy just trying to get rid of it. For that reason, and because poison ivy is one of the showiest and most beautiful of the foliages in the fall, I will put up with its presence for now.
The front yard garden, with dames rocket in bloom, (or is it Sweet William? I always confuse them.) and my herb garden in pots on the porch.
Now that we've been in our house for two summers, things are really starting to take off and become established. I'm still finding new plants left over from the last owners, and our vegetable garden is slowly coming along as well. The million or so inches of rain we've had in the past 3 weeks has certianly helped!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Today, as I planted the tomatoes, a flash of orange caught the corner of my eye! The poppy I only recently discovered on our fenceline has bloomed. Her unexpected arrival is the perfect compliment to an otherwise wonderful day.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Saw this pattern this morning at the Purl Bee blog, and loved it!

I'm thinking about making my very own magnetic aquarium...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ice Cream and Fish

The Knee-a-politan socks are done, I've actually worn, washed and dried them twice now, and they fit beautifully.

Trekking XXL has been a favorite of mine for awhile now, and this yarn is so delicious that I actually bought another skein I found on Ebay while I was knitting these socks. I have a pair of thin mittens or gloves in mind for the new skein and knee sock leftovers.

Next on the needles is a tessellation study with fish made from sock yarn leftovers. I lack the patience to make an entire blanket of fish on size 0 needles... so I'm thinking about a pillow front instead. The fish will be knit end-to-end in strips, and then seamed together. I'll add faux seams between the tails and noses within the strips to keep the illusion that they were all knit seperately by someone with more patience than me!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

My inner rebel

A friend sent this to me today, and I have to say that my inner rebel was definitely touched. I'm daydreaming about how I could cover my entire car with knitting!

PS Anyone interested in purchasing a 2005 beetle TDI? It's loaded with heated leather seats, a sunroof, power everything, and its diesel engine gets 42 MPG average without even trying. All scheduled maintenance has been done, and it has 80 K on it. It's a wonderful car, I hate to get rid of it... but I have to be honest with myself and try to get something a little bigger that will accommodate the fact that my boys are getting very tall these days...

Monday, March 23, 2009

How I spent my Sunday

My quick and smaller version of Anna Maria Horner's Folk Dance Quilt. I used Amy Butler fabrics, all purchased on the cheap via ebay and at a going out of business sale. I still need to add the binding (I'm thinking coral or green) but I'm in love already. I've been wanting to make a zig-zag quilt for ages, and Ms. Horner does a wonderful job of writing easy-to-follow directions.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Needle Case Obsession

The other day an idea popped into my head to make a needle case/roll for my straight needles, using some leftover fabric odds and ends from other projects. I found some rough cotton for the backing, and used some leftover bias tape I'd made for the color wheel quilt. So I made one...

And another...

And another...

(I got fancy with this one, and used a print on the outside!)

And I'm happy to say that I love them all. Now, I have needle cases for my long straights, short straights, and both lengths of dpns.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Nothing to say

I haven't updated in awhile, mostly because knitting has been a bit on the back burner lately. I got this invite on Facebook today, and just for kicks I did it. So, here's 25 random things about me:

1. I talk so much that I can't believe I could come up with 25 things that everyone doesn't already know about me... but here goes.
2. I've never had a bloody nose.
3. I am happy to be the mother of sons.
4. Because I like to get dirty.
5. I love to knit.
6. No, really. I LOVE knitting.
7. Not so much crochet, though - but I'll do it out of neccessity.
8. I love knitting and making stuff for other people.
9. It makes my day when they love what I've made for them, and they wear it / use it.
10. I am so proud of every one of my four sisters. We are all so different, yet so much the same.
11. I've always thought it was a big responsibility to be the oldest of 5 girls.
12. I hate commercials about female products. I almost always change the channel.
13. I think it's hilarious when people throw up. I can't stop laughing at their sad misfortune.
14. I hate being cold, but I love working outside, especially in the cold.
15. I try to learn something new every day.
16. I have minors in art and vocal music.
17. I'm the first and only female fisheries biologist in Kansas.
18. But I admire 99% of my coworkers, especially the old, salty, crass ones.
19. I have the best friends in the world.
20. Until 2 years ago, I hated the color pink. Now, Pink is my favorite color.
21. I have a blog. It's (mostly) about knitting.
22. Mollydoodle is the first dog I ever liked. I think I might even love her, even though she puked on both my leather purse and my antique hand-hooked rug last week. And took an 8-lb crap on the kitchen floor.
23. Our other dog, Bocephus, sounds like Cartman when he talks.
24. I used to think my aunt was a complete dork for talking for her dog... but now I do it all the time.
25. My parents drive me bonkers, but I love them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is it possible...

... to be in LOVE with a handbag?
Yay for my new Namaste "Malibu" from the Cali Collection, in Hollywood Pink. Purchased at my favorite little yarn store, Twist. It arrived today, and I've never loved a bag like I love this one. I can't wait to carry it around, it's big enough for all of my stuff, AND my knitting! (I bought one of those cool little magnetic buddy cases to match.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Handmade Christmas Part II and a do-over

My dad got a new lathe for his birthday in October, and he's been spending a lot of time learning how to use it. For Christmas, he gave me these beautiful drop spindles and sock darning eggs! There are no words to say how much I completely LOVE THEM.

I gave Grandma the ribwarmer... and it was a little too small, even on her 110 lb frame. So, I'm re-knitting it right now on size 9 needles and I'll also do the I-cord edging larger this time. :)

Aaron models a hat/scarf/mitten set I made for his auntie Em, using Berroco Peruvia in the Raku Glaze colorway.

Purple cabled socks for my SIL. (She loved them!) Size 0 circulars, knit 2-at-a-time with Louet Gems in eggplant. Toe up flap heel is wonderful... now I need to see if I can duplicate it on my next pair.

Socklets for my MIL, in my own pattern. 1x1 rib for the cuff and the top of the instep, doubled fingering weight yarn on size 3 addi turbos.
Happy New Year!