Need to get my knitting mojo back. I'm not sure where I left it but I only have one project going at the moment: an afghan block that I'm feeling "meh" about. Simple hats knit with handspun yarn always make me feel better and productive.
Most of my craft time has been taken up by a mystery cross-stitch-along. Need to take a picture- it mostly just looks like brown blobs at the moment but it should be pretty awesome when it's done.
Had a small Game of Thrones viewing party for the finale and had fun coming up with the menu.
First, a wheel of brie baked en croute. The brie was topped with cranberry jam and toasted walnuts. All wrapped in puff pastry and baked at 400 F for 20 min. Looks a mess but LOVED this. Runny brie is a wonderful thing.
Then, we had lots of homemade mojitos and cherry caipirissimas.
I made individual pork pies and a side of beans for dinner. No picture of the pies but the beans and bacon and onions were amazing!
Finally, a maple cheesecake with maple butterscotch topping:
This was the best dessert I've ever, ever made. I used this easy cheesecake recipe from KAF and used two packages of neufchatel cheese (for 1/3 less fat) rather than cream cheese. In place of vanilla extract, I used vanilla bean paste. In place of sugar, I used pure maple sugar. And I added 1/2 cup of Grade B maple syrup to the batter.
For the maple butterscotch topping, I followed this recipe. I realize that it was probably pointless using neufchatel cheese when I used an entire stick of butter for the topping but... you gotta pick your battles, I guess. The sauce ends up being quite runny but after a day in a jar in the fridge, the butterscotch separates a bit and I used the thicker stuff that rose to the top to put on the cheesecake. It was a good consistency.
Anyway, from brie in pastry to pork in pie shells to bacon-y beans to cheesecake to most of an entire bottle of white rum for the libations... I'm having quite the food and beverage hangover. But it was totally worth it. Now if I can only remember what happened in the Game of Thrones episode...
When the weather is right, I spend hours outside gardening. It's good exercise, I enjoy planting stuff and transforming ugly sections of lawn into landscaped areas. I received some hens and chicks from a friend and cut away some turf along a rock wall to create a little succulent rock garden:
The picture is a little weird- Instagram artsy filter set to something. I don't know. I had to use my iPhone to take the picture because my beloved (but old) Canon died. RIP PowerShot G7 from 2006.
Anyway, the hens and chicks are soooooo cute. I mixed some sand into the soil before planting for better drainage. And I collected various rocks around and dropped them randomly on the dirt.
Want to give me sempervivums? Or any (ANY) perennials? I'll trade you- handspun yarn? Know where I can get plants cheap? I feel like a drug addict- jonesing for plants, but come on, man. I know you know where I can get some... a little boxwood... ornamental grass... coleus... I'm dyin' here!
Yarn: Universal Yarn Star Light (now discontinued)
Needles: US 6
Mods: I cast on many more stitches than the written pattern because I was using a fingering-weight yarn. After doing the garter stitch edge and the first round of the pattern, I realized that I added an extra stitch to each little shell stitch. I kept going and made it work for the entire project, but that's why my pattern doesn't look exactly like all the other finished projects.
Pretty cowl. Subtly sparkly. Wraps around the neck comfortably twice. I don't mind that the yarn is mostly acrylic- it feels soft, it just didn't block out as severely as I would have liked it to.
I'm back. I was on vacation for the week of Memorial Day and it was sublime. I usually take Christmas Eve to New Year's off and it never feels long enough or relaxing enough. I now realize that this is because it's too busy- making sure everything gets wrapped in time, visiting friends and family, etc. This past week was fewer days off but 100x more productive.
I stayed at home to do work around the house. My new catch phrase is "I mulched it!" Oh hey, look at that over there. "I mulched it!" Look at that bush- "I mulched it!" What kind of plant- "I mulched it!" I weeded, ripped up turf, raked, mulched, planted, mulched. Dollar went around on the riding mower and showed me three spots at the edge of the lawn, near a rock wall. He was like, "Are these bushes?" I said, "I... I think so." We had planted them when we first moved to the house and they were so overgrown and hadn't ever been mulched, so... "I mulched it!" It was good working outside for 4+ hours a day on the sunny days. During the rainy days, I stayed inside to soak my aching body in a bubble bath.
Flickr did a major overhaul earlier this week. New web design and pricing/policy changes. It's all quite shitty. I understand that periodically you have to get used to new software and changes but there was no forewarning that this change was coming, load times are incredibly slow for me at home now, prices have doubled, etc etc etc. It's been three days and there are tens of thousands of feedback comments on how we don't like it. And not a comment from staff other than vague "We're listening." That's nice. That's... really helpful. Are you guys going to DO anything? Like offer a "Classic View" for people who want a simpler, more stream-lined look?
So, I'm not uploading any new pictures to the site. In fact, I've downloaded all my pictures from Flickr and I'm going to move to ipernity if this indifference on Flickr's part keeps up. I've been w/Flickr since 2004 and a paying Pro member but if this is how they're going to treat users, I'm done.
Why so grumpy? You have all the food you could eat and I'm not actively firing a shotgun at you. (Which is pretty much what everyone is telling me to do but I can't kill anything larger than a spider.)
Weather this weekend was nice and I spent most of it outside "gardening". I say "gardening" because it feels like all I'm doing is weeding. Ripping up weeds popping up in the mulched beds, weeding around a flower bed, weeding, weeding, raking, weeding.
I want it to look like this around my house:
But I feel like it looks like this:
And now it looks like rain all week. Guess I'll just put all the containers of herbs/vegetables that I bought this weekend outside and properly plant them next weekend.
Five years ago I knit a couple small dice bags for Dollar. He happened to ask for a larger one and I happened to still have the same yarn leftovers in my stash.
Same pattern using the Turkish Cast-on method (SOOOOOO much faster and easier than doing a provisional cast on and grafting the bottom closed). This pouch is 80 stitches around. I charted out a larger letter "S" for this one and used duplicate stitch to add it on after all the knitting was done.
This weekend went by way too fast. Went to a BBQ at my sister's on Saturday. I had every intention of going to NH Sheep and Wool but after seeing my mom in the a.m. for Mother's Day and running errands, I just went back home and napped for 4 hours. I'm sad to have missed the festival but I enjoyed napping with Penny more.
I finished a small doily during the coherent moments of my flu last week.
It's only about 7" in diameter. The pattern is Doily #14 from 99 Little Doilies by Patricia Kristoffersen. This is only the 2nd doily I've made from the book (the other being quite... hairy) and so far the patterns have been great. They're all written and I'm a chart-loving person, but they're only 12 or so rounds to work, so they're over fast.
Sunday morning, I saw Santana sitting at a window she doesn't normally sit at and intently staring down at something outside. I looked and it was a porcupine! I ran to get my camera and quietly crept to the end of the deck to take pictures.
It was big, probably the size of a small bear cub, having breakfast without a care in the world. It would flinch every now and then when it heard my camera's shutter snap but it just kept on eating. It was really dexterous with it's hands, picking up vines and chomping all the green buds off like it was eating corn on the cob.
It was sooooooo cute. I couldn't resist trying to get a closer picture. I went down and tried to get closer. Then it did this:
When I got within 20 or so feet, it's hackles rose and it turned into a big, spiky triangle. Then it went back into the brush. I felt bad for ruining its breakfast. Sorry, guy.
Was a bit congested early last week, which developed into a cold but actually, no, it was the flu. It just went downhill as the week progressed. It was a haze of orange juice, NyQuil, Vicks Vapo Rub, Mucinex, Robitussin and... who knows what else. If I had any memory of sleeping through beautiful, sunny days under a pile of winter blankets, I'm sure I'd be upset. Oh well.
But I feel better now!
Murderface and Penny enjoyed the nice weather in the band room windows:
I felt so good, I tackled the laundry:
Oops. Sorry, Banana. I didn't know you were sleeping there.
Went out with my sister to the ramp spot on Saturday. We got up there and there were a few patches of ramps here at there. I pointed to some at the base of one tree. A cluster of a few at the base of another. Like, "Look. See? There's... There's enough ramps." But it was obvious that it if we both picked as much as we wanted, we were going to decimate the ramp population. So we headed along the ridge line, deeper into the woods.
I saw a few more clusters as I made my way along. Then, looking further ahead, a saw some green through the trees. The nice thing about ramps is that they're easy to spot- the forest floor is covered with dead, brown leaves and the bright green of the ramps stands out well. But, what I was looking at looked like a sea of green.
I looked back at my sister, a ways behind me and down the slope a bit, managing to pick a few ramps here and there. I didn't want to yell, "RAAAAAAAMPS!!!!" before I was sure that that's what I was looking at. I kept walking until I was finally sure. A sea of green ramps. I called back to her and as we approached the patch acres of ramps, I couldn't help repeating, "Oh my god.... Oh my god..."
It went on forever. It felt like winning the lottery. Oh man, we picked so many. I brought them home and washed them.
I picked twice that many but dropped a bag full off at my mom's.
First, my favorite way to preserve the ramps:
Ramp butter. Just salted butter, lemon juice and minced ramps. This makes the best "garlic" butter. I made two rolls and put them into the freezer.
Pickled ramp bulbs:
The bulbs aren't very big. I'm not sure if that's going to come a little later in the season, after they've had more time to grow, of if the patch is so thick/choked with ramps that they don't have enough nutrients to get very large.
Heading back out again this week or weekend to get more.