Archive for Crochet

Last year for the superbowl the guy and I ate foods you can dip. This year he works so I’m headed to see friends and eat tacos- yum.

This week for my new recipe of the week I made Veggie Chicken Pot Pie. It was carrots, broccoli, green beans, onions, celery, mushrooms, and fake chicken strips, sauteed all together. Then I lightly coated the veggies in flour and added warm soy milk until it thickened. I seasoned and topped with biscuits and cooked for about 25 minutes.

It was super yummy, lasted quite a few meals and reheated well.

I never made it to the knitting group last weekend- the couch was just too comfy. But I did get to work on the baby blanket I’ve been needing to make. The pattern is Beth’s Little Star Afghan.  They’re having a boy and their furniture is chocolate brown and blue. The bedding is rock’n’roll themed, so I thought the star would be an easy fit. It’s about half done. I have 9 more rows of solid blue and two rows of gray as a border.

I finished “The Likeness” midweek and started “Finn” by John Clinch for my book club.  It’s a pretty dark portrayal of Huck Finn’s father. I’m not too far in, but it’s intriguing.  I’m also supposed to read “The Awakening” for another book club, but I can’t find it in our boxes and I haven’t checked it out from the library yet.  I read it and loved it in high school, so I’m hoping it will come back to me quickly.

Still no further work on the house, though the list gets longer everyday.

Another new year’s choice was to try two new workouts a week to keep myself motivated.  This has been an easy one with the new gym membership.  Saturday I did yoga, Monday I did shadow boxing, Tuesday I took hiphop class, Wednesday I started week 1 of C25K, Friday I did a hill workout and yesterday I took the puppy on a *long* walk.  This week started with a new yoga workout. Yay for me, especially in this season of girl scout cookies.


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Long Time Gone

Wow.  My last post was about the Super Bowl, and here I am now, watching preseason football.  I have an excuse for the absence, though. Around February we (my husband and I) decided to seriously pursue the prospect of moving. And as you may know, moving- the planning, the prepping, the packing, the pain- becomes all consuming.

But we survived and are happily living in Austin, TX. Now that we’re more settled in, the crafting bug has bit me again.  I didn’t work on much this summer- most of my supplies are still packed away in our storage unit.  And I didn’t do much from scratch cooking because produce in the the hothot Texas summer is nothing like the bountiful fruits and veggies of California in the summer. We did get a grill, and barbecued every night for about three weeks straight, though.

A good friend had a beautiful baby girl this summer.  I began this blanket this past winter when I knew she was pregnant.  I finished it the week after we moved.  And just today I stitched the baby’s name into the corner.

OlinBlanketThe pattern is from Blankets, Hats, and Booties to Knit and Crochet by Kristin Spurkland.  I used lightweight organic pima cotton. I’m working on a matching hat, but it’s not turning out the way I’d like right now. Maybe I’ll post it later if it magically fixes itself.

I have done a ton of reading this summer.  I’m in the middle of a bunch of books. My latest book club book is Love Wife, by Gish Jen. It’s amazingly good.  A white woman and Chinese-America man marry, adopt two asian children and have one birth child.  When the husband’s mother dies, she requested that the family sponsor a long-lost relative, in the hopes of her son taking on a Chinese wife.  The visitor causes all kinds of strife within a family trying to figure out its identity.

Love WifeI also read The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.  It’s a kid’s book marketed toward fans of Harry Potter and Series of Unfortunate Event series.  So, I’m the target audience.  It’s about a group of highly gifted orphans who get drafted into a society to overtake a man who is trying to take over the world.  They have to go undercover to a school that he runs where we brainwashes his students into helping him with his mission. Loved it!

Mysterious Benedict SocietyMy first Austin book club was on Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It’s written in letter format. The correspondence is between a female journalist/writer in England and the inhabitants of the island of Guernsey, which was occupied by Germany during the war.  She decided to write their story and becomes part of their close-knit community. It was a quick read, and very sweet.

guernseypotatopeelpieThere were definitely a few more books read this summer, though my brain isn’t remembering what I’ve read recently, besides the three listed here.  My book shelves are full of books just waiting to be cracked open, though with school back in session, I’m reading more Newbery Award Winners from the 1960s, than adult fiction, right now.

It’s good to be back.

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Domestic Bliss

I just polished off the most delicious sandwich (leftover tofurkey with Wisconsin Colby cheese and pickles) after returning home from possible the worst driving day of the year. I went out on “Black Friday” and the traffic was nothing compared to the loonies on the road today.  After fighting to stay alive and out of a car accident, I thought I’d come home, shut myself in for the day, blog, crochet and watch movies.

Tuesday was a domestically productive day.  I simultaneously listened to christmas carols, baked kiss cookies, and made a huge lasagna for freezing. Christmas carols are new for me this year, I’m starting to be okay with some of them.  Amazon helped me along with their free holiday downloads. It was like an advent calendar that I didn’t get tempted to eat. The kiss cookies are a holiday tradition I started a few years ago. I make them for Chris and the people at his store on Christmas eve.

kisscookiesSomeday I’ll own cooling racks (and have enough counter space for them). Between batches of cookies going in and plopping kisses on the peanut butter yumminess, I made a super meaty, super cheesy lasagna for dinner and then to freeze.  It was two  layers of veggie beef scramble mixed with veggie sausage and mixed with a mushroom sauce and two layers of ricotta and mozzarella, mushrooms, and green peppers mixed with an olive sauce.  We had it with a huge salad and have plenty of leftovers!

lasagneWhen all of that kitchen work came to an end, I worked on my current cross-stitch project.  Here’s how it’s looking.

xstitch3On christmas eve, my husband and I started a new family tradition: Port Party!  We opened a delicious bottle of Daniel Gehrs Fireside Port that I got two years ago in Los Olivos. The Daniel Gehrs winery is my favorite.  I also drop a fortune when I go there. This summer my mom bought us their Tawny Port.  We’re planning on saving that to celebrate with when we buy a house.  For our Port Party we had a plate of sweets (ferrero roche truffles, chocolates, candied walnuts, and hazelnut cremes) and a plate of savory (crackers, brie spread, pepper jack cheese, and olives). It was delicious.  I dare say this is a tradition that will stick.

portpartyEarlier that day I attempted to make an apple crumble pie using this amazingly easy recipe. I got a little cocky in the kitchen, though, and decided I could eyeball the measurements. The pie turned out “a little powdery” in the words of my husband.  It was actually not bad, considering what it could have been. I just over did the flour and under did the sugar.  I highly recommend following the recipe, because even with my blunders that pie was good, so imagine how yummy the real recipe is! I added some of grandma’s candied walnuts to the crumble topping.

applecrumblepieI worked like a little crochet worker bee on my mom’s present, which isn’t finished yet.  It’s  my biggest project to date and I’m about a quarter done with it.  Here’s a photo of the blanket I’m crocheting for her.

momafghanAnd here’s my sister’s yoga bag.  She got it a few days ago, so I can show the whole thing now. I used the same pattern from Joyful Abode that I used to make mine.

bethanyyogaI finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the same day I last blogged.  We watched the movie on Christmas. I was totally unimpressed with the movie. i LOVED that book.  Chris dragged out the Half Blood Prince for me, but I had already started The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver.  She wrote We Need to Talk About Kevin, a book which still haunts me to this day. The Post-Birthday World is about a woman, Irina, an American expat living in London with her longtime partner Lawrence.  On the birthday of a friend she considers what life would be like if she kissed that friend.  The book is billed as a story about the choices we made and their good and bad repercussions.  I’m only 50 pages in, so we’ll see how it goes.  I like her writing style and I was engaged for the short time I spent reading it.


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Good Tidings

For the last 7 years, my husband and I celebrated the holiday season by buying gifts for kids whose names hung from the trees in the mall. We’d pick the older kids, because they tragically asked for necessity items, like underwear and socks.  Their wishes of survival seemed so much more immediate than the 4 year old who was asking for a Playstation. We did this because we couldn’t think of a better way to spend our money- we didn’t want a tree or decorations; and we spend all year giving to each other, so we never do presents.  

This year is different.  We’re saving for a house and money isn’t going as far as it used to after bills and groceries. So instead of buying stuff for others, we both spent time volunteering.  I went to the Los Angeles Food Bank to help sort donated food and Chris went to jail- a charity puts people in jail and has them call around to raise money for their “bail.”  We both had wonderful experiences.  Mine left me wondering why I don’t volunteer more outside of the holiday season. So I started researching different possibilities, but came upon the roadblock of many organizations are M-F 9-5. I’m considering going to the hospital that’s within walking distance of our apartment.  They ask for 40 hours, with at least 4 hour shifts.  During the weekend, that’s very doable for me, so that’s the most promising option I have.

So, in the spirit of counting my blessings this holiday season, and sharing with others what I have (this year, more time than money) here are the last of the holiday cards I’ve made for friends and family.cards1cards2cards3And some mystery gift images.  I’m hand-making gifts for my mom, sister, and father.  Here are two close-ups of what I’m working on.

mysterygift1mysterygift2I’ve also been baking up a storm, but I keep forgetting to take pictures.  Last weekend I made mint chocolate chip cookies and mom’s peanut butter cups.  The weekend before that I made sugar cookies.  Later today I’m making kiss cookies. I’ve gotten in the habit of baking for Chris’s employees, so I send most to work with him, bring some to work for my colleagues, and we keep some at home. Yum!

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It’s been an interesting school year so far.  I’m exhausted and feel like I’m on a roller coaster.  One day is amazing and the next is horrible.  I took Friday off to clear my head and rest my nerves.  I feel way better, so I thought I’d come here to to update.

I’m trying to get back into exercising more frequently.  When I do that I tend to cook more often, or rather plan meals to be cooked.  My husband and I have a sort of unspoken argeement that the person who gets home first makes dinner.  Recently, that has been him, because I’m up to my neck in meetings and paperwork.  When I’m trying a new recipe, though I’m eager to come home and cook. We’ve been eating go-to meals for a few weeks now, waiting for things to settle down- spaghetti, veggie burgers, etc.  This week we bought garlic naan at Trader Joe’s to make with those vacuum sealed Indian curries.  The next day my honey made veggie meatball subs on garlic naan.  The bread was chewy and yummy and delicious! I couldn’t resist taking a bite before getting the camera!

meatballnaanI’ve been yearning for autumn weather for a while now.  It’s hard to be thinking Thanksgiving when it’s mid-80s outside.  I’m not complaining, just wishing for a little cool down.  Since this weekend was forecasted to be cooler (mid 70s), I broke out the crock pot today and made potato soup from The Simple LIttle Vegan Slow Cooker cookbook. I stirred in some colby-jack cheese when I served it (so much for vegan) and had a veggie Italian sausage and green beans with it.

tatersoupFor lunches I’ve been having chickenless nuggets, apple slices and grapes, vegan chocolate chip cookies from Trader Joe’s, pita chips, a hard boiled egg, and string cheese. I don’t eat it all at once. It’s spread through the day- snack, lunch, after school snack.

nuggetbentoI’m still reading the Wind-Up Bird Chronicles.  I’m about half way through and I still love it.  I highly recommend it! I’m also still reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  I haven’t gotten too far in it, because I took a break to read a knitting mystery that I borrowed from a colleague.  That’s right, a knitting mystery. It was simple, and quick, and made me want to knit.  It was particularly interesting or well-written, but it’s the first in the series and I’ve already started the second one, so I guess I got suckered.

knit_160bI’ve also been spending a lot of time playing Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir on my Nintendo DS.  It’s a hidden picture game.  I’m totally addicted. I could play for hours at a time. My honey brought it home for me because I loved Professor Layton and the Curious Village so much.


Today I worked on my holiday cards.  Since we’re looking at moving in a few months, my husband and I are sending homemade Christmas cards out as gifts, rather than getting anyone anything.  Just sending our love through time spent on crafting.  Here are the first four I came up with with a little help from scrapbooking paper, charms from the dollar store, and spray adhesive from the Japanese market.

xmas1xmas2I spent a good part of the morning updating my ravelry account.  I’m not even close to filling out all my projects, WIPS, ideas, and stashes, but I added a few things, including my finished Windy City Scarf! I love finishing knitting projects.  They just go so slow, it feels like a big deal to finish something!

windy1I’ve also made some progress on my shawl. It’s increasing pretty quickly. I’m not sure how long I’ll make it. I bought enough yarn to make it LARGE, maybe it’ll be more of a throw.

knitshawl2I’ve been doing a little crocheting this weekend, as well.  We’re currently obsessing over the TV show Jericho. We’ve had it on DVD for a long time and never watched it.  We started it a few days ago, after finishing Painkiller Jane. So I’ve been trying to crochet during the new box set, but it’s one of the few shows that I’ve seen recently that has kept my attention. 

I haven’t cross-stitched or embroidered in a while, but I never posted my most recent pics of the big cross-stitch project. It’s starting to look really nice, but I’m out of practice with counting my stitches and the last time I sat down to work on it, I made a ton of mistakes.

xstitchI’m still working on my ribbed knitted hat.  I started it over and made the rib smaller. But I think my focus for the next few weeks will be crocheting and making cards.

Next post will be after Thanksgiving, so have a happy holiday. I hope you get to spend time with family and friends and delicious food.


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Dem Bones

Oh my aching fingers.  I got back from my first knitting class about 3 hours ago.  I kept on working on the project I started in class (a scarf- shocking, I know.).  Then I realized I had picked up an extra stitch somewhere along the way, so I attempted to pull out the rows up to the mistake.  Then I looked at it, and thought, I have no idea what to do with this now that I’ve found the mistake.  So, I kept unraveling and eventually just decided to start over.

So here’s the beginning of my first knitting project ever!

I’m practicing different kinds of stitches- so it’s a few rows of garter, a few of stockinette, a few ribbed rows, and back to garter. The yarn is gorgeous merino wool, and the needles are bamboo #13. I picked up knitting a lot more quickly than I though I would.  Even this morning, I tried a little from a book I have, and nothing.  But after just seeing it and doing it a few times I felt relatively comfortable with it. Except that I’m gripping the needles SO hard my fingers are aching.

Nice picture, though, huh? It’s my new camera. A teeny tiny Sony Cyber-shot. My mom sent it to me as a belated X-Mas gift. It only holds 8 pictures, so I have to go get a memory card for it tomorrow.  You’ll be seeing plenty more pictures now!

Along with the camera my mom sent me the new Kathy Reichs books, Devil Bones. Kathy Reichs was trained as a forensic anthropologist and I believe continues to consult in the field, when not busy writing books and overseeing the TV show Bones (based on her books).  I was first introduced to her books in college.  My degree is in anthropology and for my forensic class, we had to read books that incorporated the science and review them for accuracy. I chose a Kathy Reichs book and have since read all her books.  They’re spot on scientifically, which makes her already more likable than Patricia Cornwell, though the narrative often leaves something to be desired.  Anyway, I love her books, and they’re easy to fly through.  I’m alreadya quarter done with this one, and I got it yesterday.  There’s a dead body found in a basement, along with artifacts from a Santeria ritual.  The investigation is ongoing. I’d recommend it so far, as I would any of her books (and yes, Candace, I will pass it along when I’m done!)

I’m about halfway through Native Son. It’s getting better and better.  It’s amazing how likable and unlikable at the same time characters can be when the author is good.

We’ve actually made a few yummy meals this week.  Monday was baked potatoes with veggie bacon, sour cream, and cheese. We were going to make asparagus with them, but forgot (no   Then Thursday the hubby made Mamwich meatloaf- Gimme Lean Sausage mixed with textured soy protein, mixed with mamwich sauce and baked like meatloaf, with twice baked potatoes and corn.

I finished my friend’s baby blanket. I just have to wash it and then it’s off to see her beautiful baby girl!

I liked this pattern a lot.  It worked up quickly and was repetitive enough that I could keep one eyeball on the Amazing Race or the Cowboys, and one eye on the blanket.  I have more yarn like this in blue, so my next donated blanket might be blue and white.  Maybe I’ll use that star motif from this summer as the middle…

We have Thursday off this week, so I’ve got a date with the hubby to stock up on knitting books at the book store.  I’m also looking forward to getting to the craft store to pick up some holiday-y paper to start making our holiday cards.  I figure if I start now, I should finish by the new year!

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Baby, Baby, Baby

This week has been particularly rough, which had led me to come home and take solace in my projects. I know they’re children who are still learning and trying to find themselves.  But does that have to include violence? But this conversation is for my other blog.

My coworker had her baby yesterday, so her blanket isn’t quite finished, but it’s coming along nicely, considering I began just last weekend.  This photo shows it at about 18×18 in. I’ll do three more rounds of the pink, 5 more of the white and a border of pink.  It should end up about 35×35 total. I think it’s really beautiful and it’s so simple.  You make your favorite crochet square and then double crochet around and put 5 DC in each corner, which adds 4 stitches to each side per round. SO easy!

And here’s my latest cross-stitch.  I had to put it aside most of the week to make some progress on the baby blanket. I also forgot to take multiple photos, so this is after maybe 2 nights work.

I did make macaroons, as I said in the last post.  I’m using the word “macaroons” lightly here, because they’re not so traditional.  I found a recipe online that was so much simpler than all the others- none of this beating eggs until they’re stiff and sifting things in gradually.  The recipe I found was 1 bag sweetened coconut, 1 can sweetened condensed milks, 1 tablespoon vanilla.  drop on greased pan and bake at 350 for 8 minutes.  They started burning on the bottom, so I reduced cooking time.  I also added mini chocolate chips.  So not so much macaroons as sticky coconut and chocolate bites.

And lastly, the bento of the week. Olive bread, brie, peanut butter mochi in the big section, green beans, radishes, dried mushrooms, on top, and greek yogurt with honey and strawberries in the bottom section. Letting the honey sit on the yogurt all day until lunch makes it really yummy and the strawberries get really juicy, which mixes in. Yum!

Oh! and a macaroon.

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