Monday, July 21, 2008

More citrus dreaming

As I've mentioned before, I love citrus, especially in the summer time, when my sweet tooth craves something that's also tart and refreshing. I've been favoring cookies over cake/pie lately, so I dug through my recipes binder and found three Martha Stewart Living recipes I've been meaning to try.
First the Lime flowers, which I turned into rounds for lack of a flower cookie cutter.


lime flowers (app 2 dozen)
1. Sift together 2 c all-purpose flour, 1/2 ts baking powder, and 1/4 ts salt in a large bowl, set aside.
2. Put 1 c granulated sugar and 2 TS lime zest in a mixing bowl, mix on medium speed about 1 min. Add 1.5 sticks unsalted softened butter; mix until fluffy, about 2 mins. Mix in 1 ts vanilla extract and 1/4 c fresh lime juice. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.
3. On a lightly floured work surface, halve the dough. Flatten each half into a 10" disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill dough in freezer 30 mins.
4. Preheat oven to 325 dF. Roll out disk on parchment paper to 1/8" thick. Using a 3" cookie cutter, cut shapes from dough. Space on baking sheets 1" apart. Repeat with other disk.
5. Bake until set, about 16 mins. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool. Before serving, sift confectioners' sugar over cookies.

Omitted: I didn't sift confectioners' sugar over the finished cookies. I like sweets, but I don't like them too sweet.

Next time: I loved these cookies, however, sometimes I could taste the vanilla extract and it just didn't seem to go. I'll omit the vanilla extract when I make these again.

Next up, Lemon Poppyseed cookies. I omitted the last step of adding more poppyseeds on top. Like the lime flowers, they are buttery and have the perfect texture just between soft and crunchy.


lemon poppy-seed cookies (app.30)
1. Preheat oven to 375 dF. Bring 1/4 c fresh lemon juice to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook until reduced by half. Add 1 stick butter, stir until melted.
2. Whisk together 2 c all-purpose flour, 1 ts baking powder and 1/2 ts salt. Cream 1 stick butter and 1c sugar on medium speed. Mix in 1 large egg and lemon butter, mix until pale, about 3 min. Mix in 2 ts pure vanilla extract and 2 TS freshly grated lemon zest. Mix in flour mixture and 1 TS poppy seeds.
3. Stir together 1/2 c sugar and 1.5 ts lemon zest. Roll spoonfuls of dough into 1.25" balls; roll them in sugar mixture. Place 2" apart on baking sheets. Press each with the flat end of a glass dipped in sugar mixture until 1.25" thick. Sprinkle with poppyseeds.
4. Bake until just browned around bottom edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely.

Omitted: Rolling the dough balls in the sugar mixture. I thought there was already so much sugar in these cookies, more would have been overkill.

Next time: BF thought they were perfect, I found them a tad too sweet. Compared to the other two recipes, there is an extra half cup of sugar in these cookies. I'll use one cup of sugar when I make these again.

Last, and definitely my favorite, are the Lime Cornmeal Glazed cookies. I was very curious about using cornmeal in cookies, I haven't really tasted it in anything else besides cornbread. The cookies are a bit fragile (they crumble easily) but they taste amazing and are well worth the work. I often forgo glazes (too sugary), but this glaze (with bits of lime and orange rind) is so good, I even ate the leftover glaze by the spoonful.

get the recipe here: Lime Cornmeal Glazed Cookies

Omitted/Substituted: I used whole wheat flour instead of regular. It was a great choice and went incredibly well with the lime. Sometimes Martha's recipes use too much zest for my taste, here I used 2 ts of zest instead of the 4 ts suggested.

Next time: I'll omit the almond extract. Like the vanilla extract in the lime flowers, it adds an somewhat odd aftertaste I can make out now and then. I think these fab cookies will be better without.

Last thoughts: Yummy cookies, all of them. They had in common an incredibly sticky dough, but rolling it out between two sheets of plastic wrap made handling it much easier.

c = cup
ts = teaspoon
TS = tablespoon
dF = degree Fahrenheit

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bear Love

I'm not much of a toy knitter. It's not that I don't like knitting toys, but that the toys never make it to their intended recipients. Blame for this solely rests on bf, who, after watching limbs and heads and ears emerge from my needles, gets, ahem, somewhat attached and looks at me in wide-eyed terror when I try to tell him that they are supposed to be gifted....(haha, he hasn't been checking out my blog in a while, so let's just hope he's not reading this post ;-)
But, I love bears, polar bears especially and when I first saw Ysolda's Otto, I knew I had to make one for myself. I had a few balls of leftover yarn, and born was Bina
and since I still had yarn leftover, she got a younger, slightly larger brother, Rudi
they are so adorable
Pattern: Otto by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: 3 skeins total Louisa Harding Grace, Otto also has some Kidsilk Haze in his head and body until I ran out
Needles: US 3
Mods: I made the bear snout a little shorter by omitting the knit rounds at the end (I only knit the decreasing rounds). Also, I took me forever to figure out the disappearing loop cast-on. I think I’m still not doing it correctly, but fudging it worked.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Summer Roadtrippin'

Well, actually I've been back for a week, but as always after some time spent in nature, it's taking me a while to get back into the city living groove.
BF and I spent two weeks visiting places that have been on my dreamlist for a long time. We flew into Salt Lake City, drove up to Grand Teton National Park, spent a week at Yellowstone National Park, headed through Montana to Glacier NP, traversed Idaho to check out Craters of the Moon National Monument, then finished the loop by skirting the Bonneville Saltflats in Utah to SLC. What an amazing trip! My hopes of spotting some wildlife no matter how far away were rewarded by fairly close but respectful encounters with lots of the local fauna.
I love love love geothermal areas, and Yellowstone is a great place to experience lots of different features, here's just one of many colorful hot pools
Nature's hot tub
We were lucky to not only see Old Faithful erupt a few times, but to experience some other geysers who erupt less frequently
Buffalo often wandered into the campground
Tent Neighbors
my favorite, Glacier national Park
Glacier NP
where we saw these guys, two adolescent grizzlies
Grizzly Bears
lots of moose
Bull Moose
we meet this mountain goat on hike
Mountain Goat
I loved the eerie lava landscape at Craters of the Moon in Idaho, but man was it hot!
Craters of the Moon NM
It was wonderful to spend two weeks without many creature comforts, just living simply, and in the moment. My senses heightened, I became able to spot animals at a distance that would have been a blur before, and smell and hear better (unfortunately I'm hoping to lose some of that sense of smell, the first few days in the city made me almost nauseous, what with all the paint fumes and exhaust hovering in downtown).

Some of my favorite experiences on this trip:
- watching a grizzly and her cub being stalked by a coyote at dawn
- huckleberry ice cream
- friendly Canadian border officers letting us into Canada for a few hours despite our lack of appropriate ID
- meeting a group of Hutterite people at Waterton Lakes Park I spoke German with
- hearty breakfasts at family diners in small towns
- dipping hot feet in glacial lakes after long hikes
- BIG skies
- seeing a baby moose on our last day at Glacier
- cooling off in icy lava caves after hiking in 94 degrees through black lava

I'm already dreaming about the next roadtrip...maybe drive from Canada to Alaska on the Alcan, maybe revisit the Southwest....
What have your most memorable roadtrips been?

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I've been on a minimalist trip for a while. My favorite colors right now are white, grey and blue. Simple shapes. No patterns, no frills or details. So I surprised myself when I felt the desire to knit the Jonna scarf from Berroco's Norah Gaughan Volume 1. Was I really going to wear are scarf with, ugh, bobbles dangling from the edges??? Well, yes indeed. I had a few skeins of yarn in my stash in a beautiful steel blue color, which would help tone down those frivolous bobbles just a bit. Paired with dark jeans, a white top (my favourite uniform) and a vintage coat, the bobbles add some spark to an otherwise unassuming outfit.
pattern: Jonna, from berroco Norah Gaughan Volume 1
yarn: Poshyarn sock yarn held double
needles: US 8 circs
mods: I knit the bobbles in the round on dpn's instead of flat and seaming them up; and I used cotton quilt batting to stuff the balls instead of polyfill (the name alone sounds itchy and scratchy).

Next on my plate is the lovely Shalom cardi by Meghan. I am pretty excited about this pattern because many months ago I had ripped out a picture of a Paul & Joe cardi with the intent of copying the design. Meghan loved that cardi too and wrote up a pattern for it. How awesome to find something you've wanted to make and then another blogger writes up a pattern and shares it. Thanks Meghan! I'm making this with Rowan Big Wool that was meant for another cardi that never came to be. And I'm thinking of adding sleeves. Sure it's already pretty toasty here in SF, but bulky wool knits up pretty fast, right? Right!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Shedir #2

Shedir is on its way to hopefully give its recipient some cheer and comfort. Calmer still isn't my favorite yarn (I get confused by its odd stretchiness), but I love how soft it is. I have another skein and may just make a hat for myself, with a different pattern though.
Pattern: Shedir from Knitty
Yarn: 1 skein of Rowan Calmer in peacock
Mods: All knit sts are tbl, for more stretch and definition.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I dream of citrus

Thank you all so much for your suggestions and well wishes. Shedir and Calmer it was, started the same day and now finished. I will have pics soon.
Here a picture from my trip, which can be descriped as fun and frosty.
Yes, this picture was taken in APRIL!!! I'm glad I'd packed the long undies. I hadn't seen snow like this in a couple of years, so it was actually quite wonderful to wander through this snowy wonderland.
Back in SF, life took off almost immediately. I'm working again and I got accepted to start grad school this fall. I look back at the past few months with deep gratitude. When I quit work last summer, I'd had all these crafty plans....lots of knits and sewing projects, quilts (plural!) were to be made. In the end, I spend a lot of time doing nothing. Literally, sometimes I would just sit for hours on the sofa, watching my cat sleep. I read a lot, and I baked a lot (and henceforth went to the gym a lot). It was the best thing I've done in a long time, and I feel recharged and happy. The baking frenzy I went through is taking a backseat now, but I wanted to share a few recipes with you that I thought were just fabulous (which is high praise from a picky, fresh-loving country girl). All these recipes contain some kind of citrus, which is just my favorite flavor and scent ever! This recipe from Martha Stewart had been on my list for a long time, Pistachio-Lime Tart.
It takes three days to finish (you have to drain ricotta, make lime curd, and let the tart rest overnight). It's really worth the trouble though, the end result was delicious! The crust is made with pistachios, whose flavor get a little lost in the lime, but tastes awesome when you have a crumb by itself. The lime curd was so good, I could have eaten it just like that (never mind that there are 20 egg yolks in there).
The only adjustment I would make next time would be to substitute drained greek yoghurt for the ricotta. I'm not sure I love the ricotta grainyness, I even pushed it through a sieve once more to get it smooth. It tasted wonderful, however, I was envisioning thie filling to be super smooth, like the curd. I'm going to make this again, just thinking about its tangy goodness is making my mouth water. You can get the recipe here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Quick Question

What would be a good yarn for a chemo cap? For a pattern, I was thinking Shedir, or does anyone have a better suggestion? If you are sending good thoughts into the world today, could you please send some to a girl named Sarah, who is 29, a mother and wife, and undergoing treatment for AML (leukemia)? Thank you so much.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Souffle, demystified

I need to remind myself more often that when I started this blog, I meant it to be a log for all the things I love to do. My creativity needs are constantly in a state of flux. Sometimes, it's all about the knitting, then the sewing, baking, cooking,reading, bookbinding, jewelry making etc,. But I usually just post about my knitting and sewing projects, and when I don't do any of these, you guys think I've fallen of the earth yet again. So, I'm going to post more about the many other things I enjoy doing besides stuff with needles and thread. Since the beginning of the year I've been really into trying new things in the baking department. I bake almost every weekend, mostly recipes I've been making for years already. It was time for something new, something a little challenging. I decided to make a souffle. The first time I've ever had a souffle was at a wonderful restaurant not far from SF called Manka's (which unfortunately burned down a year ago) and I still dream about it. It was savory with little bits of fresh asparagus throughout. Now, If you like to cook and read cooking mags and books, you've probably heard how difficult it is to make a souffle, how a drafty kitchen or opening your oven door can immediatley ruin it, or that it'll probably deflate the second you remove it from the oven before your guests have a chance to see it. I decided not to think about what could go wrong and just go for it. I made it for myself, so if it did turn out badly, it could just go straight to the green bin, no stress involved. I used this recipe from Gourmet magazine.

Meyer Lemon Souffle1
I opened the oven door twice to check on its progress, because the parchment paper collar was too high to see anything.
Meyer Lemon Souffle2
After I took it out of the oven, it stayed nice and fluffy for a photostuff until I attacked it with a spoon. It was light and fresh and airy, just perfect. The only change I made was using regular lemons instead of Meyers (to be honest, I'm not a big fan of Meyers...they have a peculiar taste. I prefer the tartness of regular lemons).
Btw, I'm blogging long distance. A week ago I decided spring break would be a fabulous time to go to Europe for cheap, so I'm enjoying Bavaria's cold and snowy capital right now, going to museums, eating, and eating some more. I'll be back in April, then I'll show you the sparkly skirt I made.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Sophia Carry-All

Maybe some of you have worked on a project with this tiny gnawing feeling in your tummy that something is not going to work out, and that you really should do it the way YOU think is the right way, but you don't. Then you finish, and you look at it and think: "I wish I had "insert solution here". See, back when I made my Weekender Bag, I also fell for its little companion in this photo. There was no pattern for it yet, and I wasn't feeling the need to just figure it out on my own. A year and a half later, the pattern for the Sophia Carry-All becomes available and I'm super excited. It's the bag! I've got some gorgeous vintage linen in my stash, lining too and I'm hitting JoAnn's to get the interfacing. Here's my first problem. Both JoAnn's and another fabric store I check have Thermolam Plus, but it's not fusible (like the pattern says). The product called fusible fleece is not fleecy at all, it's more like a very thin version of Timtex. I ended up using the non-fusible Thermolam, only to find out later that there are two types of this stuff. 970 is what I'm using, 971F is what I should be using. But the whole time this little thought is gnawing away, saying, you really should be using Timtex (that heavy stuff that makes my Weekender Bag looking so sturdy and neat), because really, I want that crisp bowling-ball bag look from the picture, not the squishy smooshy look of the bag that is staring at me from the pattern envelope. But of course I'm so wrapped up in sewing, I'm not listening. But I wish I had. So here's the bag,

and before you say that it's fine, here's a better picture to illustrate the smoosh:


Not at all what I wanted, and I just have myself to thank for that. I just have to put it away right now, because I'm not in love. Unlike my Messenger Bag, which, despite its lack of cuteness, loves me right back by being so sturdy and useful. Or maybe I just need to get rid of the initial expectation, and accept it for what it is, and not what I wanted it to be (man, I think all those self-help books are finally paying off!)

Pattern: Sophia Carry-All by Amy Butler
Fabric: vintage midweight decorator's linen from my stash. It was a bit smaller than the suggested yardage, but I've found that if you use your own pattern arrangement, you can often get away with getting less yardage. The lining came from some scraps of silk wool. I cut the fabric for the piping on the half bias to save some more fabric, it worked just fine. Sewing this took almost as long as the weekender, the piping on the bottom part is difficult to handle.
Mods: I used a regular zipper instead of a purse zipper (which I couldn't find anywhere and didn't feel like ordering.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Let the sun shine on me

In the past few weeks, life has thrown me some of the bad, the ugly and the just plain weird, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and mine is slowly getting brighter by the day. Yesterday was my birthday, and though I'm usually a bit mum about it, I decided to fully enjoy myself, with all the bells and whistles. I haven't done much crafting lately, but there are still a couple of things that got done a while ago, but haven't been blogged about yet. First off my sunhat:
I don't even remember anymore when I actually finished this (a year ago?more?). But it was even longer from conception to completion. It all started out with Vogue pattern 7600, version A. Looks simple enough. But the crown part of the hat ended up having this ridiculous shape, sort of like a shortened bishops hat maybe. I couldn't figure out how to fix the existing pattern piece, and designing a new crown seemed to be a little over my not so math loving head. Enter my best crafting buddy yaiAnn and her wonderful mom. As we were fidgeting around with elongated triangular shapes after realizing that six individual sections (sort of like a beach ball) would make a better fit, y's mom donated one of her gardening hats for us to take apart. After making individual adjustments, each of us managed to get a perfect fitting and nicely looking crown for our noggins. I truly love this hat. Its wide brim, which is lowered in the back, is perfect for keeping my face and shoulders from getting sunburned and for making me feel like a Bloomsbury Lady and Paddington Bear at the same time. It's perfect for travelling, you can just smoosh it into a bag, and remold it into desired shape when you put it on.



Pattern: The brim from Vogue 7600, the crown from 6 individual segments.
Fabric: Plain medium weight cotton from my stash, interfaced brim, crown is lined with lightweight cotton.

On the knitting front, I just got the new Rowan Studio 8 booklet. There are some beautiful designs, my favorites being the textured cardigan, long waistcoat, flared jacket and double yoke jacket. Just until a few days ago it was still very cold here, and despite the welcome warmth and sunshine I still feel like knitting warm stuff.

Also, I wanted to thank the wonderful crafters queenofthefroggers, yaiAnn, a Mingled Yarn, knits, notes, etc., poshyarns and Nonnahs who have given me a "you made my day award". Thank you so much for enjoying my blog and putting up with my irregular posting. I'm not good with the mushy stuff, but I also wanted to say thank you to all my readers, you all make my day and inspire me. I will pass this award on, but if I tried today this post would never get posted. Next time :-)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Retro Redux Shrug

Mmmmmmmalabrigo. Not much needs to be said. If you haven't treated yourself to a skein or two or ten of this stuff, you really should. This shrug is supersoft and perfect over a tank top for a San Francisco summer.
Retro Redux Shrug5

Redux Shrug2

Retro Redux Shrug1
Pattern: Retro Redux Shrug from Lace Style, Interweave Press
Size: Second (42")
Yarn: Two skeins of Malabrigo worsted in Polar Morn
Needles: US 8, 9, 10, 10.5
Mods: I lengthened the shrug so the ribbing of the sleeves would start/end below my elbow.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Herringbone Handwarmers

The little garageside office I'm currently blogging from is freezing most of the time. I needed something to keep my hands toasty, but not obstruct finger movement, so I converted Elliphantom's cute herringbone mitts pattern into simple handwarmers.
Herringbone Handwarmers3

Herringbone Handwarmers2
Pattern: Herringbone mitts by elliphantom, available free on her blog
Yarn: 2 skeins of Koigu, in lilac and brown (lost the tags). I used a bit more than half a skein of the brown, and a third of a skein lilac.
Needles: US 1 dpn's
Mods: I converted the pattern from mittens to fingerless gloves, and cast on 66 sts to make up for the smaller gauge (I added 16 sts to the pattern, which is two of the herringbone repeats).

My crafty goals for the new year are to get better at sewing. I'm pretty happy with the accessories I've made this year, but garments still make me freeze up with fear. The problem is that I have high expectations of craftsmanship, and my enthusiasm starts to crumble as soon as the pieces don't quite match up. So, first, I'm gonna lighten up, because I'm not planning to become a dressmaker at the house of Chanel, and second, I'm gonna learn as much as I can and start off with a (hopefully) easy project. Also, I'd like to use up all the odd balls of yarn I have. Some are leftovers from projects, others just single skeins to 'try out' the yarn, so there will be more hoppelpoppel projects. Once I've got 50% used up, I'll get to reward myself with yarn for a planned project. That should be motivation enough ;-)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

High Street Messenger Bag (the craftoholic edition)

What happened?? Wasn't it just the middle of December a few days ago? Well, happy New Year then, I hope you all survived the holidays as well as I did. There was lots of crafting, albeit little blogging, but I'll make it up to you. I've got quite a few fo's to show you, but it's gonna be bit by bit.
On my last trip to Europe I realized that I needed a new purse/bag, one that could hold my camera, maybe a laptop, and all the other stuff I like to drag around, and still have enough room for me to squish in an extra jacket or sweater. Regular purse and tote doesn't work when you're transiting Heathrow, trying to shove the former into the latter because you're allowed only one thing to take onto the plane. Which I'm not really complaining about, it's much easier now getting on and off the plane without everyone wrestling loads of plastic and shopping bags.
I didn't feel up to creating my own pattern, so I used this one by Amy Butler, adding lots of mods to turn it into the bag I need and actually use.
Here's the action shot, taken on a hike around Bodega Bay:
here you can sort of see the inside:
the back:
and one more, just so:

Pattern: parts of High Street Messenger Bag by Amy Butler, plus my own
Fabric: Denim for the exterior, heavy cotton twill for the lining
I made the bag twice as wide, it now measures 6" instead of 3".
I eliminated the pocket on the inside flap (I didn't think I'd really use it, besides, it seemed awkward to access), instead, I put a pocket on the outside flap.
Instead of making an exposed the zipper on the outside back of the bag, I opted for a lapped one.
I changed the tool pocket in the inside to my specs (special compartments for lipbalm, phone and iPod) and attached it to the body side (not the opposite side as the pattern states). I also added an adjustable water bottle holder.
Didn't use canvas as an interlining, as my fabric for the bag and lining is already heavy enough. I just ironed medium interfacing onto some parts I wanted to have a little more structure (front and back main panel, outside pockets).
It made no sense to me to have a messenger bag with a strap you can't adjust (if I do ride a bike with this bag, I want it snug against my back!), so I used the hardware from an old bag to make an adjustable strap.
I'm really happy with how this bag turned out, I'm using it all the time.

My Jana tunic (from Rowan Studio 3), hasn't been going quite as well. I've reknit it now for the second time, and I'm still not happy. It just seems so....big. It'll hibernate for a little until I can look at it with semi fresh eyes.