Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nature - with socks and collars

I finished a sock! Okay, it's just the one sock, but this is a tricky sock pattern! This is the Sole Mates kit that BKFF gave me. There's a couple of errors in the pattern and I haven't quite worked them out, but while some find such things frustrating, I'm increasingly delighting in the things I learn from these opportunities... and let's face it, what oak leaf ever looks perfect? The sock is still utterly amazing (and I did write up my notes in progress on Ravelry). It gets bonus points for surviving Wee Davie, who discovered the ball of yarn in reach and consequently began to toss it about the room and wrap it around the stereo.

Aren't those cables a thing of beauty?

Speaking of Wee Davie, however, his wardrobe has expanded.

Is it bad that I'm having a ball dressing him in different collars? I haven't yet started to colour coordinate him with my own outfits, but I suspect this is merely a matter of time.

And finally, they aren't pretty, but I improvised chilli chocolate and pumpkin swirl cupcakes (there's a couple of recipes that I bounced off here and here). The catch was... the chilli chocolate mix was far too thick and sort of 'plonked' in the middle of the cupcake. For all that, however, they're delicious and I'm about to wander off, make a cup of tea, and eat one while I watch Bones and think about that second sock.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Presto! I have a laptop again!

Today has not been productive. At least, not as productive as I'd have liked.

However, it has ended well. My package from ThinkGeek arrived super fast, bringing with it a very neat iPad case with keyboard. Seriously, this is brilliant. I love my iPad, but the other night, I realised I did miss having a laptop to work on in bed (because the best writing does get done in bed). I don't mind the onscreen keyboard, but it's not really useful when you're writing more than an email. ThinkGeek came to the rescue. This case allows you to slant the iPad perfectly and the keyboard is synched and has iPad specific keys. The whole acts like a laptop AND iPad, but is still lighter than the MacBook Air! How amazing is that?

I also tossed a Crayon pen on my order, because, seriously, I love a pen that looks like a crayon! I had hoped for a yellow one, but they only had red and black.

In the photo, you can also see that I finished one Mystery Sock. And that I've added to my collection of vintage needlework magazines. This is a 1918 French magazine and I was sold on the cover featuring the spinner, but also on the fact that the magazine includes the original transfers of the embroidery designs.

Okay, now I'm going to reheat my pumpkin lasagna (one of my new favourites - this is the second time I've made it and it's delicious - I just add a little nutmeg and only put the 'fake cheese' on top) and convince myself that I can revise this article.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Big Bang Theory Tangerine Chicken

It's a working supper. I've dubbed it 'Big Bang Theory Tangerine Chicken'. I saw 'The Tangerine Factor' the other night and have been obsessed with Sheldon's dinner choice ever since! Fittingly, this is not really tangerine chicken. If you're not familiar with the episode, Sheldon is convinced the restaurant is using oranges, not tangerines, so, since tangerines aren't in season and it's apt... this is really orange chicken.

I've never posted a recipe before, but I want to remember how I put this together, so here goes! Just keep in mind, I riffed off a few online, orange chicken recipes that I found (like here and here) and I've never been very good with precise measurements (you'll notice that!). I can't guarantee results, but you'll get the idea at least.

4 chicken thighs
Corn flour for dusting
Sesame oil
Sunflower oil

1 teaspoon orange rind finely grated
Juice of one orange
Splash of soy sauce
Splash of rice wine vinegar
Finely grated fresh ginger - about 1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon chili paste
1/2 teaspoon raw sugar

1 carrot, sliced
1 stick of celery, sliced
1 spring onion, sliced
1/2 cup of peas
Handful of chopped raw cashews (oops, forgot to add them on the original post!)

It's pretty self-evident and I'd encourage tasting as you go along to be sure the flavours work. You cut up the chicken thighs and dust them in the corn flour before pan frying them in the mix of sesame and sunflower oils. Meanwhile, mix together the sauce ingredients. When the chicken is browned, add the vegetables. Once everything's cooked, add the sauce. Serve with jasmine rice.

It's delicious! I'm having a little cold, pink grapefruit sago pudding with cream later for dessert. I don't often order take-out, particularly since going gluten free, but I love recreating take-out food. I do a killer sweet and sour pork (add a little vinegar to sweet chili sauce and it's so much nicer than the bought sauce). I think it's my grandmother's side coming out in me. She'd always leave a restaurant, go home and attempt to recreate the dishes, adding her own individual spin. She also never ever measured anything or followed a recipe properly. Like grandmother, like granddaughter.

Incidentally, I just got my copy of Cooking for Geeks and it's brilliant! Naturally, it encourages experimentation too.

In the meantime, Wee Davie is enjoying his new haircut. He's much cooler these days. In both senses of the word.

And I couldn't resist casting on my second Charm Wrap now that I finally have the pattern again (I found the CD of the magazine at Tangled Yarns - and on sale!). I'm trying out Bendigo Woollen Mills Silk Supreme in Jade and so far... loving the yarn! The colour is glorious, the stitch definition is brilliant, and I like the touch.

The other day, though, I woke up with this vision of a hooded cardigan in bright yellow with white clouds and big buttons. I think I've found a pattern option to make it happen and Silk Supreme comes in a gorgeous lemon.

Does anyone else wake up with visions of knitwear?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

That's What Friends Are For

Best Knitting Friends Forever - BKFFs - are those who, when they get their latest Sole Mates package, take one look at it and declare that it's meant for you. And they give it to you. And it is meant for you. You love it.

Thank you.

Oh, and that little stitching project? All done! I used the Mochimochi pattern, 'Forest Friends.' Once I have a little more time, I'll divvy up the images and patchwork them into a bag, I think. That's the current plan. It may change.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sunny Day

The hens are out sun bathing.

The puppy is entertained.

I love my latest vintage find. Butterflies and bullets. Genius.

And what's this? I'm doing something other than knitting?

Actually, I do a lot of other things than knitting. Most of us do. Lately I've been grading a lot of papers (and resisting the urge to smear them with peanut butter in order to tempt certain wee ones into unspeakable acts of vandalism). I've been rewriting CFPs and taking in grant applications and writing references and all sorts of fiddly stuff that shouldn't take a lot of time, but inevitably does. I've been gathering books together on filking. For research that I keep telling myself I can really get into next week. I've been finishing off books I've been meaning to finish off for ages. Like Byatt's The Children's Book. Her editor should have been meaner. I've been trying to shake this 'flu, which has so far been resoundingly unsuccessful. I've made lemon sago puddings and basil and cheese scones and sweet potato muffins to convince myself to feel better. And I've been doing some other stuff that I can't really talk about.

So it's nice to stop and look at the sunny day and think, 'I should grab Wee Davie's lead and go for a walk and afterwards, maybe I'll pick another handful of broad beans for dinner and check on the progress of the first mulberry crop.'

I love mulberries. They remind me of the tree we had in the back yard when I was growing up. Mum remembers trying to get the mulberry stains off the floor.

Now, about that lead...

Well, first maybe I'll change out of my pyjamas...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Something Silky

Lemsip: check
Warm sweater: check
Puppy walked: check

Now I just need tea and sympathy! Why do I always catch the flu when I'm marking papers?

Still, I nipped out to smell the roses, so to speak, and snap a quick couple of shots of my finished scarf. I'm rather proud that I knocked over one of my Knitabulous-startis projects so quickly! On the other hand, the Summer Shimmer Scarf (The Purl Bee) is an awfully quick knit and in Knitabulous' Fifty-Fifty ("Persimmon") comes out fabulously light and silky. I did add an extra 10 stitches for further width, but otherwise, here she is:

While taking these shots, there was an energetic puppy at my feet, begging me to kick his ball.

Don't worry, as soon as I stashed the camera in my pocket and wrapped the scarf back around my neck, I kicked a few balls for him. He's looking terribly shaggy. I'm just about to look into his first hair cut. It's very difficult to tell he's a scottie right now...