Monday, 29 March 2010

Time and Wollmeise

I think those are the tried and true methods of healing all wounds. What better way to get out of a funk then indulge in some retail therapy?

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When anything becomes intensely popular, I usually do my best to avoid it. If I liked it to begin with, I have some tough decisions to make. Magnolia Bakery, Rollerderby, Shake Shack- these are all things that I liked (and still like), but the hassle of their popularity make them inaccessible to someone with limited patience for waiting in lines and being crowded.

Luck was on my side last week when I stumbled upon someone selling Wollmeise for no more than retail price. I wasn't even interested in buying any, but I figured a little ray of orange-red sunshine in my life wouldn't be terrible. This yarn is notorious for being hard to get- it sells out within minutes anytime a shop update is posted, and then it shows up on Ebay for twice the price and people will actually pay it! The dyer is quite talented- she is known for her bright, saturated colors...but come on! It's sock yarn. Paying more than retail for something that will eventually adorn your stinky peds just doesn't make much sense to me.

Anyway. I lucked out and got a skein. The color is "Pillars of Fire". It makes me happy on a dreary rainy day.

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There! That's out of my system. Back to my draconian yarn diet and stash knit-down. I have a FO that's been done for a month but I haven't photographed, plus 3 more projects that I'm making progress on. I'm more or less back to a normal schedule now so I should be motivated to post more regularly.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

A bit personal...

I've had a sad past couple weeks. My dear Aunt Susan passed away after a long battle with cancer.

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I know this is not a forum where I want to discuss my personal life or bring up family too much, but I feel the need to purge a bit.

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More than anyone I knew, Sue really knew how to have a good time and live it up. She had this amazing ability to connect with people and make lifelong friends everywhere she went.

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Yet she was dignified and wise and sensible. She didn't take no for an answer.

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She and her family were some of the most generous people you could ever hope to meet. Our annual summer gatherings in Maine was something we all looked forward to.

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She was a rock when I needed one the most.

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Even when she was sick, I never once heard her complain. She was thin and frequently tired, but she still had unshakable faith and good cheer.

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She was the glue that held our family together, and she left us scrambling for patches to mend the hole she leaves.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Some Knitting Progress

The craziness surrounding a corporate move has yet to calm down. Today I have a crew replacing tiles that got gouged during construction in the reception area. The moment I walked in the door this AM, I got a rather overwhelming view of plumber's crack. That vertical smile is greeting everyone coming into the office. Classy, eh? I also have some people here from the furniture installation company to replace pieces that were delivered damaged, but they are spending a lot of time being confused and they seem to be missing the new furniture. This should be interesting.

On to the knitting. I'm ignoring reality today.

I finished the body and sleeves of the Lion Neck Cardigan, and now I'm working on the ruffle collar (the Lion Neck part). I failed to get a picture, but it's all bunched up on the needles anyway, so I'll wait until that's finished. It was a fairly quick knit, but it was too big and heavy for me to get into my day bag (and far too awkward to take out on the subway or bus) so it didn't get a whole lot of attention. Just a few rows here and there when I could find the time.

I'm almost done the body of the Baby Cables and Big Ones Too (which I just refer to as my Biggy Smalls, since the sweater title is infuriatingly complex to try to blurt out when asked).



So far, I love it. And I love the yarn- Valley Yarns Northfield. It's soft and lofty from the merino, drapey from the Alpaca content, a little bit of sheen from the silk, and the whole thing is plied into a tight, springy cabled yarn. It's a steal- it's comparable to luxury yarns twice that price.

My other knitting project is, of course, my A-Z Aarlan Arwetta double-thick mittens.



I ran into some needle issues with these. I loathe double-points, so I went out and bought 2 size 0 circs for these. I decided to try something new (and on sale!) and went for the "Square Circulars" that Kollage makes with horrible results. To be fair, I only tried this one tiny 0 size, so maybe the rest of their needles are great. I gave up after only 3 rounds. I liked the square shape, but the cords were useless- they were too floppy and they kinked and bent too easily to push my stitches around. It became a small war. I switched to DPNS, but they kept sliding out at inopportune moments and made me a bit crazy. I put the mitts down for a few days and ordered a couple of addi turbo circs (addi has yet to fail me with any of their products) with a gift certificate that a co-worker gave me to Yarnmarket.com (which I undoubtedly feel that I've earned) and I'm now once again happily plugging away at them.

Well, the furniture installers did not get about half of what was ordered here, so I will be dealing with them again next week. Hopefully the vertical smiles will be done in a while- I've been putting off a bathroom break to avoid that sight.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Distracting you from the Fact that I Fail at Knitting this Week

It's been warming up and feeling springish (was it only a week ago we were buried under a foot of freshly fallen snow?), but that's not a good enough excuse to stop with the comfort food! Until I see fresh green things at the Greenmarket, I will continue to make the kinds of food that get you out of your midwinter funk.

My latest obsession in the kitchen has been biscuits. They are fast, and for the basic version I usually have everything on hand. They can be jazzed up with just about anything. They are best right out of the oven, but toasted the next morning at breakfast will make my heart go pitter-pat (that's probably all the butter speaking). They make a decedent sandwich and they make the house smell so good, everyone will ignore the fact you have dust bunnies of fleece taking over the house.

Bacon is the most magic food on earth- aside the fact that it has no real nutrition attached to it, it has the ability to make pretty much anything much more delicious then it ought to be. I was a vegetarian for years and I still lean towards vege cuisine. When I do buy or eat meat, I go out of my way to find antibiotic free and humanely raised animals. It gives me the warm fuzzies and helps quell the guilt I have with eating something with a face.

Here's a biscuit recipe that I made a couple weeks ago. It was from Bon Appetite, which is sent to me each month to replace the fact that they pulled Gourmet from the shelves. It is inferior in every way...this month they featured a recipe for tuna casserole with potato chips on the top. Gah. The biscuits, however, redeemed the whole issue.

Cheddar, Bacon, and Fresh Chive Biscuits

From Bon App├ętit | February 2010

* 6 thick-cut bacon slices
* 3 3/4 cups bread flour
* 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus melted butter for brushing
* 2 1/2 cups (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
* 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
* 1 3/4 cups chilled buttermilk
* Honey (optional)

Position rack just above center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, then chop coarsely.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter cubes. Blend until coarse meal forms, about 30 seconds. Transfer flour mixture to large bowl. Add cheddar cheese, fresh chives, and chopped bacon; toss to blend. Gradually add buttermilk, stirring to moisten evenly (batter will feel sticky).

Using lightly floured hands, drop generous 1/2 cup batter for each biscuit onto prepared baking sheet, spacing batter mounds about 2 inches apart.

Bake biscuits until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Brush biscuits lightly with melted butter. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve biscuits warm or at room temperature with honey, if desired.

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Coincidentally, I ended up at BLT Fish for dinner very shortly after making these. The waiter plopped down a basket of similar biscuits on the table, except these were without swine. They were exceptionally light and buttery. I swooned. The icing on the cake was the pat of butter drowning in maple syrup to slather on the warm little nuggets.

Laurent Tourondel's Biscuits

1 ¼ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tblsp shortening
3 tblsp butter
1 tablsp chopped chives
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
1 ¼ cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne in a mixer. Chop the cold butter and place the shortening into the flour and mix the ingredients briefly. The butter should remain chunky. Toss in the chopped chives and cheese. Pour in cream and mix until it just comes together, about 1 minute. Do not overmix.

Place into muffin tins and bake for 15-17 minutes. Sprinkle sea salt on them when they come out of the oven. Slather with maple syrup or honey and more butter.



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The whole office move adventure is wrapping up. This is the week of finishing touches, so the most stressful part for me is over. This move robbed me of any sanity or serenity I had going in my life (and a few weekends as well), and now I'm concentrating on getting it back. The knitting is progressing once again. Maybe the spinning as well. Maybe I'll once again tend to my Etsy store and add some new things now and then. I had a furious and productive spring cleaning this weekend and feel much more organized and focused now.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

A Room with a View

I try hard not to talk (moan) about my day job. I try to think of it as a place I go to spend 8 (10) hours every day, but then I flip a switch (it's one of those giant ones like in Young Frankenstein they use to animate the monster) and BAM the day job is shed. I don't like my work to dictate my free time, and whatever goes on at work stays at work. I like it this way.

I don't mind my work so much, but mostly because for the past 5 years, I got to go to work every day and look out my office window and see this:

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To say it was nice to look out on this every day is an understatement. I got to watch huge thunderstorms roll in and sunsets of all colors. Getting a full day of sunshine through my window made shlepping to work so much easier. I could watch the ice skaters in Bryant Park, the Fleet Week ships come up the Hudson, parades on 5th ave, the fireworks on the 4th, hawks catching thermals, and the insanely bright glow of Times Square. I'm starting to think I probably didn't get a whole lot of work done with all those distractions.

Anyway.

The lease expired and we had outgrown our palatial digs and they made up pack up and move a couple blocks away. The new place is nice, no complaints there. If I crane my neck I can see a tiny slice of sky surrounded by concrete and glass, and the elevator rides are nowhere near as awkward since they take all of 15 seconds now.

Still. That view made my day.

july 4 2007 (24)