Saturday, February 28, 2009

The End of February

Is it winter? Well, look carefully over the wall, behind the palm tree, and you can see snow-covered mountains in the distance. (Click for a bigger view.)
However, closer to home, the calla lilies outside my front door are blooming. I used to think that calla lilies were just an idea, some sort of plastic flowers that didn't exist in real life. But these ones pop back up every spring, which is what it is here now, I guess.

Aunt Bobbie sent me 4 giant skeins of soft fluffy yarn for my birthday! I will be busy for a while, knitting shawls and other prettiness.

So what's for dinner tonight, you ask?


Lovely whole fish in the mackarel family--I think they are called suary pike in English, though in reality no one eats them in English, so they might as well be called sanma.

And that's the end of February!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Love the Sock!

Okay, it's just one sock, but I've already cast on sock #2, so I think it will soon be a pair. I am using new US 2 needles, and these came out nice and firm and I am very happy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Odds and Ends

I started a new sock in order to have something easy to knit. It might mean that I am looking for an excuse to watch all 25 episodes of the third season of Grey's Anatomy, and this way it doesn't feel like a complete waste of time!

I made cuffs for my Fuzzy Feet, which makes them all cozy and lovely.

I bought more sock yarn, which might turn out to be a scarf instead. But who could resist this colorway??

And for times when I have the light and the patience and the steadiness of hand, I started back up on my mermaid Lace scarf. But this yarn, Malabrigo Lace, is so fine, so light and airy, that it really takes great care to work on it. Not suitable for television viewing. But the pattern is very pretty and not difficult. And since classes start this week, it will probably go back to its time-out again.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I think I'm in love!

Okay, I know that you should never love anything that can't love you back--but I think I'm going to have to make an exception for this lace shawl. I am just amazed that I was able to create something so beautiful using just one skein of yarn and one set of needles and my own two hands! I may become addicted to this form of knitting. Yeah, you can buy socks at Wal-mart, but you can't buy this!

The yarn:Just one skein, under $12. And so many weeks of knitting pleasure!

Before blocking:

During blocking:

And the long awaited finished product:

I am so happy with this! Now I want to do more! And more!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

On a chilly night, this soup hits the spot!

3 cups chicken broth (from a can or box or from chicken base)
2 cans Campbell's Tomato Soup
3 cloves (1 Tbsp) minced garlic
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 or 2 ripe avocados
1/2 pound chicken tenders (or 1 boneless skinless breast)
corn tortilla chips, or 2-4 fresh corn tortillas
1 bunch cilantro
sour cream for garnish

In large saucepan, combine the soup from the can and the chicken stock. Add the garlic, black pepper, and tabasco (to taste). Cut the chicken into small chunks and cook in the soup till done. Cut the avocado into small chunks and add to the soup. If you have 2 avocados, slice one into slices as a garnish. Chop some cilantro into the hot soup, and use a few leaves as a garnish.

If you have fresh corn tortillas, spray them with Pam and then slice them into 1/4" x 3" pieces. Place on a cookie sheet in a 375 degre oven and watch them until they just begin to brown. Ladle soup into bowls, add crisp tortillas, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprig of cilantro. Add extra Tabasco sauce to taste.

Serves 2 or 3 people for dinner.

Rain Day

All right, so it's not 50 below zero, and you don't even have to shovel it or scrape it. But we did have some dramatic weather today. Walls of black clouds keep rolling in, and it's in the 40s and windy. There was hail in Pasadena, I am told, though I didn't see any of that here.
The white flecks in the sky here are hundreds of seagulls that just lifted off.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Domestic Goddess

For years now, I have been without an apron for two reasons: I don't like the way they make them these days, and I didn't have a place to hang an apron in the kitchen. So I developed the habit of changing into already-grease-stained t-shirts in order to avoid ruining new items of clothing. Kristen in particular was annoyed by my insistence that she change her shirt before helping cook. I looked on the internet and saw some cute aprons for sale for somewhere in the vicinity of $40. I hesitated, and thought about maybe making one of my own. But even a pattern costs almost $10 these days.

Then while I was in Maine, I wandered around Reny's, and came across a blue apron of just the right sort, although cheaply made--selling for somewhere in the vicinity of $5. Well. I bought it with 2 thoughts in mind: I could use it, and I could use it to create a pattern for a better one.

I thought I would buy some fabric, but then I remembered two pieces of fabric I once bought with the intention of making a Tibetan coat from a Folkways pattern. But I never used it, and I returned the pattern to Deborah. So I dragged the fabric out and washed it and thought about the mechanics of this whole thing. One of the problems of making an apron is that you basically have one piece of fabric, and you need some way to finish all the edges. The cheap one I bought has polyester bias tape bound all around the edges. But bias tape is expensive and a bit tricky to work with. So I came up with the idea of just making it double--two layers stitched together, making a sturdier apron and neatly solving the problem of what to do with the edges.

Finally today, I decided this was my chance to either get this to work or fail trying. It turns out that stitching things up and turning them inside out has some inherent difficulties. If you stitch all the edges, you can't turn it! So I did the bib and the skirt separately. The bib was a little tricky, but I ended up leaving the two neck pieces open and also the bottom, so that I could turn the neck part inside out.

Then I tucked one neck piece into the other and top-stitched it. And I made 2 pockets, and two nice long ties, and then I positioned the pockets and the ties and stitched around the edges of the skirt. And then I ironed a hem into the top of the skirt and tucked the bib into the waist and top-stitched the waist.

And voila!

Oh and I figured out that I could hang it on a nail in the laundry room and it would be right at hand, far more convenient than going to the bedroom to change my shirt every time I cook, and way more convenient than having the dry cleaner try to remove grease spots from my sweaters!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

For our Severe Weather Alert!!

California weather is such a joke. The actual weather report warned of Severe Weather Alert for today, due to the threat of temps in the 50s and rain! From the sky! Liquid water!

So lucky for me, I finished my third pair of Fuzzy Feet, warm felted slippers. I will fear no Severe Weather in these!