Friday, June 27, 2008

Dance, Dance, Dance

Sterling Silver Bracelet

I am working on a custom order piece, a free-form sterling silver cuff style bracelet. Coaxing the heavy gauge wire into it's delicate pirouettes, curls and spirals takes a bit of muscle. The goal for me is to get the design to look easy and free-flowing.
I am not a dancer, but as I worked on my own 'dance', I was struck by the irony of something looking easy, light and free-flowing and the amount of strength, sweat and tears that is actually involved in creating the final product.
This work is so very much of the moment, about being enveloped in the power of the effort and the force of concentration.
It reminds me of a quote from Suzanne Farrell that I like very much.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Color My World

Color Coding Knitting Pattern Charts
I like to color code knitting pattern charts. Some of the symbols used are so similar that I find I have to look very closely, double and triple checking, to make sure I am looking at the right symbol. This slows me way down!
By coloring the symbols with distinctly different colors it is much easier and quicker for me to see what it is I am doing.

Color Coding Knitting Stitch Markers
I like to use left over scraps of yarn as markers. I choose very different colors here too. In this case, one color marks the beginning of the round and the other marks where I am making increases in the pattern.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thyme for You

Growing Herbs in Pots
I love using fresh herbs in my cooking. Fresh herbs seem to make a dish pop with flavor in a way that dried herbs just can't quite match. I had always wanted an herb garden right outside of my kitchen. Unfortunately right outside of my kitchen door is a deck and just beyond that is a very shady area. This is not great for growing herbs which are full sun loving plants.
Not to be deterred I decided to try and grow a few herbs in pots. Despite the fact that the deck gets about 1 to 2 hours of full sun and the rest of the time only partial sun, I have been able to grow basil, thyme and mint. The plants don't get very big (a plus with mint which can take over a whole yard with its unbridled enthusiasm for growth) but they are enough to add that yummy fresh herb flavor when I want it.

I found a number of sites explaining how to grow herbs in pots. I liked this site for its brief, easy to understand instructions.
This site gives a bit more detailed information.

I prefer to buy herb plants rather than plant them from seed. I think I am successful in growing the herbs when they already have a head start.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lemon Fettuccine

Quick and Healthy Pasta Recipe
I found this lovely recipe for Lemon Fettuccine with Broccoli and Pancetta "croutons". I wanted to make it healthier and vegetarian so I used whole wheat pasta and substituted smoky tempeh strips for the bacon. I cut the tempeh strips into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces. I left the butter out entirely and only used olive oil. Olive oil has a low smoking point so I added the tempeh pieces to the oil immediately and cooked it over medium/medium high heat.
I chose to substitute spinach for the broccoli. I like spinach better and thought it would be great with the lemon. It was:) I also added red bell pepper strips for added color and flavor. Fortunately I planted some thyme this summer. The fresh flavor was delightful but I'm sure you could use dried instead. I would cut it back to a 1/2tsp for the dried thyme.

Finely grated lemon peel.
I wash the lemon thoroughly under running water and grate the peel first.
I don't like using my grater. Instead I prefer this peeling tool. I use short strokes, making 1/4" to 1/2" little strips. This is so much easier than trying to get those tiny bits of peel out of the grater. After grating the peel I slice the lemon and squeeze out the juice.

Despite the initial dismay of my family over the axing of the bacon, the final result was given a "thumbs up" by all.

What is Tempeh
If you are not familiar with tempeh, it is similar to tofu in that it is made from soybeans. It is different from tofu in that it is made from whole soybeans. This gives the tempeh a different texture and different nutritional quality. I like to use it when I want a firmer, 'meatier' composition.
Here is some more detailed information if you would like to know more.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Work It

Reading a Knitting Pattern
After I buy that new 'just gotta have it' knitting book or magazine, I always make a photo copy of the pattern I'm working on.

I find it so much easier when the pattern lies flat and I'm not constantly trying to keep the book or magazine open.

Easier to transport. A few pages take up much less space in my knitting bag than an entire book or magazine.

I confess! I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I like to keep my books and magazines in good condition. My photocopy can get pretty ragged.

I love sticky notes! 'Say it again.' I love sticky notes!

For patterns with charts I like to use them to mark my place so I know which row I am working in the chart. After I finish knitting a row I move the sticky note up the chart so it underlines the next row I need to work.
I prefer sticky notes to other methods because I find them less cumbersome. They stay in place and I can write little notes to myself to help me remember what I am doing in the pattern. And, if I lose one, there are plenty more on the pad:)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fruit and Yogurt Salad

Lunch Salad Recipe
I saw this lovely recipe in the May 2008 Vegetarian Times Magazine for a fruit and yogurt salad and decided it would be a great lunch. The recipe calls for a mint simple syrup. While this sounded delicious, I didn't really have the time or desire to make it. I thought the unadorned sweetness of the fruit with the vanilla yogurt would be nice. And it was. I especially liked the flavor of the pineapple with the yogurt. It reminded me of the taste of those fruit salads made with marshmallows, whipped cream and mayo, but healthier!
I also changed some of the fruit, choosing strawberries and raspberries and a D'anjou pear for it's green color. I think cubes of cantalope might also be a nice substitute.

Using Flaxseeds
Ground flaxseeds are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. I haven't found any great way to grind them. I bought a spice mill but the seeds are so small that most of them fall through whole. A mortar and pestle works but definitely takes a bit of muscle and time. For this recipe I crushed the seeds a bit in the mortar but mainly sprinkled them on whole.
A dusting of cinnamon would also be good if you are like me and love cinnamon.
I'm thinking I might try and make a simple syrup using some of the mint tea I have. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Fruit and Yogurt Lunch Salad (4 servings)

1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, cubed
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1 medium D'Anjou pear, cubed
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1 (6 oz.) container fat-free vanilla yogurt
2 tsp. ground flax seeds
ground cinnamon

Combine the fruit together in a large bowl. Divide the fruit among 4 small bowls. Top with a dollop of yogurt. Sprinkle with flax seeds and cinnamon.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Knit Armwarmers

Beginning to Knit
I was so excited to get started on these 'Hurry Up Spring Armwarmers' from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation that I broke my #1 cardinal rule of knitting. Always check the pattern for errors BEFORE starting to knit. Oops, I didn't and oops it did.
I spotted the error after I'd knit it. I tried to fix it without frogging all of the work I'd done so far, but to no avail. After this false start I'm now well on my way.

Moral: Always check the web for errata before beginning to knit. I've found pretty much every commercially published book and magazine has corrections published on the web.
See for pattern corrections for
Stitch 'n Bitch Nation
Stitch 'n Bitch
Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


"Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" Noam Chomsky

This quote immediately caught my attention. Intriguing. I didn't understand it. I couldn't let it go until I did. A sentence that follows all the rules of English grammar makes perfect sense, and yet it doesn't. This may just be the perfect way to start my blog about the different topics that interest me: cooking, knitting, jewelry making, life. This blog is me trying to make sense of a new knitting pattern or jewelry making technique and then write about it in an understandable, interesting (hasn't already been done) way.

I've included this graphic because I think it is an interesting visual explanation of the quote.

For those of you who are interested in a more detailed explanation of this quote follow the link below.