Sunday, August 27, 2006


OK, so the chocolate decadence is QUITE good. Very chocolatey. Well worth it, I think - highly recommended. Plus since I had to double it, we have 8 servings for 2 people, so this will last us through Wednesday.

So I have found a beautiful, but sad, older cat needing a home on the Siamese Rescue site. I really feel like I could be the one to give her some love for the time she has left (she's 15), but I'm having a hard time talking C into it. :(

I think she needs to come and live with me.

Busy weekend...

Yesterday afternoon, C and I went bike shopping. He already has one, but I'd like to get one for running small local errands. It seems silly to drive my car 3 miles to Target or wherever when I just need a couple things. I can get there without taking any major roads, so a bike would be perfect. I think I found the right one, and it can be outfitted with a rack and bags. I still need to actually place the order, but I will probably do that within the next few days.

For dinner last night, we made our first non-dessert souffle:

It's a cheese and corn souffle. It was okay. We both would prefer something similar to the sweet corn souffle we had at a restaurant in Wisconsin, but I need to find a recipe. We had this with grilled ostrich burgers, no bun, with provolone melted on top. I had forgotten how much I like ostrich meat.

This morning after yoga, it seemed to be threatening rain, so we had a quick breakfast and went out to do a little harvesting (though it never did rain):
Edamame and a few stray tomatoes from volunteer plants

Assorted other veggies we actually planted on purpose - though the tomato plants are NOT doing well at all. Some of them look almost like someone sprayed Roundup on them!

So I have been posting lots about my sock projects but nothing about the sweater I'm making for C...mostly because I haven't wanted to work on it much during the summer. But this is the Basket Weave Pullover from IK (I think it's the Fall 2004 issue):

And yes, this is all I have done even though I started it in May :( But I'm almost to the point of shaping the armholes. I am vowing to do at least one pattern repeat (12 rows) per week - if I can keep to that pace I should be able to finish it by the time it gets cold out. (Of course, finishing is another story altogether.)

And speaking of socks, I forgot to post the one I finished last weekend!

So cute! But so so many teeeeeeeeeeeeeny stitches. I need to cast on for the second one tonight and get through the ribbing and first color change, so I can work on it at the doctor's office tomorrow (has it really been a month since my last round of allergy shots already?)

Dinner tonight is going to be pizza with fresh mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and fresh basil. Oh, and salad with tomatoes, cucumber, and mozzarella :) I made some honey gelato as well this afternoon, and ended up with 2 extra egg whites. After searching through my recipes, I found that if I double the recipe I can make something called Chocolate Decadence. Sounds right up my alley!

Chocolate Decadence (from Cooking Light)

Cooking spray
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white
8 teaspoons semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly coat 4 (2-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray, and sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon sugar into each of the ramekins, shaking and turning to coat. Set prepared ramekins aside.

Combine 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, milk, and cocoa in a small saucepan, stirring well with a whisk. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook 30 seconds or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add the butter and 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Cool chocolate mixture 10 minutes.

Add flour, vanilla, salt, and egg white to chocolate mixture, stirring with a whisk just until blended. Spoon 2 tablespoons chocolate mixture into each prepared ramekin, and top each with 2 teaspoons chocolate chips. Divide the remaining chocolate mixture evenly among ramekins, spreading to cover the chocolate chips. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until barely set. Cool for 10 minutes. Invert onto dessert plates. Serve warm.

I'll let you know how it is - I decided to start making it after we actually eat the pizza. But I did do a nice mise en place so everything is ready:

(yes, that is a little bit of my Green and Black's - only 6 squares) on the white cutting board. I don't have any unsweetened chocolate, but I have used this as a substitute before when only a small amount is needed, since it's not very sweet, and it has worked fine. The rest of the stuff on the white cutting board is chopped Ghirardelli Dark, because I turned out not to have any chocolate chips.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

It's here! It's here!

All I can say is my SP (no longer secret) totally rocks.

A few minutes ago this got dropped off at my house:

Full of possibility!

Wrapped goodies inside!

Everything all spread out...

A booklet of Manos Del Uruguay patterns - giving me an excuse to work with one of my favorite yarns!

And some yarn to use for the patterns! :)

If I wasn't sure I loved my SP before, this made me sure. This is my FAVORITE chocolate.

And she actually knit me something! With beads in it! And it's lined and has a zipper! I am beyond impressed. It's so totally cute too!

Yummy-smelling lotion to soothe my hands when they get dry from too much knitting...

And a bag in fabric to match my needle rolls (C saw it and said "that is totally perfect for storing your sock knitting!")

Oh, and this was inside the bag - I wish the colors had come through better. This is absolutely gorgeous.

Thank you so, so, so much Julie! This has been an incredibly fun few months. I look forward to reading your blog and finding out more about you. I hope your spoiler has spoiled you as much as you have spoiled me!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Note to my SP...

Still no package today. :/

Hopefully it will be here tomorrow. I don't want you to worry, but I don't want you to think I'm slacking off on posting about it either (like I did on the last one....oops).

*thinks good package delivery thoughts*

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My car is a video game.

Hence, I must continually beat my high score, which right now is 52.4 MPG for a whole tank.

Not too shabby! Of course, it doesn't stay up this high for long. I'm currently at 54.2, which I'm hoping I can hold onto. (The funny thing is that I hate video games, but when I'm saving the environment, I can get into it. :) )

So here is the bread from last night:

Damn! Look at that ovenspring! Anyway, the middles of the loaves are at least sandwich-able. I'm fairly certain this bread isn't as fluffy as it is supposed to be, but it does taste good. I toasted a slice this morning and found it hilarious that there was so much butter in it that it sizzled! Hee! I just think this is funny because it's not like I am an inexperienced bread baker. I have successfully baked baguettes (after years of trying)!

Finally, I got a package today, but it wasn't the one my SP sent over the weekend (sorry, hopefully they'll bring that one tomorrow). Instead it was my KnitPicks order, which is primarily stuff for my spoilee, but I also picked up some goodies:

Some size 2 KP DPN's ('cause it would be a great idea to cast on for a third simultaneous pair of socks), another skein of KP laceweight so I can do the flower basket shawl, and some skeins of Suri Dream, which says it's super bulky but the strands look pretty thin to me. Anyway, it's beautiful and I have no idea what I'll make with it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bread. (Sigh.)

In case I haven't mentioned it here before, I am a bread baker, and a fairly serious one. I make bread almost every weekend, and I'm constantly experimenting with new kinds.

So this Sunday I decided to make brioche. Brioche, which always sounded delicious and decadent, but I couldn't bring myself to make a bread that had two sticks of butter and 5 eggs for two loaves. Well, I had some extra eggs and butter this weekend so I decided to go for it.

Well, the first inkling something was wrong came when I was halfway done tossing ingredients in the mixer and noticed the recipe had a line in it to the effect of "refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight". At this point it was about noon on Sunday. I go to bed at 10 pm and was anticipating using this bread for sandwiches on Monday. Meaning, I am a doofus who did not fully read the entire recipe before starting - in my infinite bread baking wisdom, I figured an enriched soft bread should take no longer than 4 or 5 hours, start to finish.

So I soldier on. I mix the dough, put everything in the rising bucket (I read the recipe 3 times at this point, nowhere at all did it say to knead the dough), and read the line in the recipe that said to rise the dough for 3 hours, then put it in the fridge for the aforementioned 12 hours to overnight. Yes, I read that line, and then promptly stuck the whole mess in the fridge, to forget about the need to rise for 3 hours until I got home from work the next day, pulled out the dough, and wondered why it was still a very small mass on the bottom of the bucket. (Coupled with this of course was that I had a fairly horrific day at work, which I cannot go into due to confidentiality issues.) So. I let it sit on my counter from 6:45 (when I got home) until 9:30 (when I went to bed), and then stuck it back in the fridge.

Today I get home and take it out, it's risen a little bit. I cut the dough in half and force it into some very sticky loaves, and put it in pans. Then I let it rise for 2 hours, instead of the 1.5 hours the recipe suggests, and honestly the loaves did not rise a whole heck of a lot. But at 8:40 I figured I better just take my chances and put the loaves in, because I do go to bed early.

They are in there now. I am scared. I suppose I could have left the loaves sit all night and baked them at 6 am, but then I probably would have gone downstairs in the morning and the loaves would have risen outside the bounds of the pan, and fallen all over the counter.

In about 25 minutes, we'll see what I get. I am anticipating very very dense bread that I am hoping will at least taste OK. I'll take photos (which likely won't get posted until tomorrow).

Saturday, August 19, 2006

One sock, two socks!

Here is a sock I finished on the way back from the Peoria trip!

I know the foot part looks huge but it's actually not. I tried it on and it fits perfectly, and all the females in my family have the same size feet so whoever I give it to, it should work. And yes, I've already cast on for the second one, am about 2 inches into it.

Here is the other sock I'm working on, which is almost ready for me to shape the toe!

Since I'm adapting a pattern, I need to do some math before I finish it. But I'm hoping to actually get this one done over the weekend.

And my belated photos of the gorgeous needle rolls from my SP (in action)!

(I actually have more straights than that, but some of them are currently holding WIP's.)

Finally - my new swift and my first ball wound with the swift (surprise, another ball of sock yarn - I can't wait to get started working with those COLORS!)

I placed an order at Knitpicks yesterday too.... I was mostly buying a few goodies for my SP, but you know, I had to add a few things for myself to get the free shipping - such as some size 2 DPNs and a couple skeins of superbulky alpaca (I have no clue what this will be for). Whee!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Little bit of an easy day.

Today, my department had our summer outing at Six Flags. This worked out really well for me since our office is about an hour drive for me and Six Flags is about 5 minutes. Super short commute, if only for one day.

Anyway, the people I was hanging out with wanted to go to a bar around 3:00. I wasn't in the mood for that, so I wandered the park to see if I ran into anyone else I knew. I took one lap around the whole park (which took close to an hour) and didn't find anyone so I left and was home by 4:00. It ended up working out well because C got home from work about 40 minutes early. We were done with supper before the time I usually get home from work!

Forgot to mention that I got a swift last week, which is really exciting. I set it up, but I am a dork and have not even used it yet.

Got a business trip tomorrow (road trip to Peoria - woo!) so I probably won't be posting again until Friday. (For those who aren't from Illinois, Peoria is a not exciting city and is an incredibly boring 3 hour drive from my office, after I have to do the 1 hour drive from my house to the office. Ick.) The only good news is that I will not be the driver, so I can knit! :)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ahh, Sunday.

Sunday is generally my kick-back day. I try whenever possible, not to have any activities planned for Sunday because otherwise I end up feeling like I didn't have a weekend.

My usual Sunday ritual:
- Get up early, trek to the gym, get in a swim and a yoga class.
- Come home and cook breakfast (usually waffles). Eat.
- Read the huge Sunday paper.
- The rest of the day is whatever I want. Usually there is some bread baking in there (but not today because I have a good amount of bread in the freezer, and you can't freeze bread well for TOO long). Maybe some laundry, gardening, or light cleaning. Otherwise, I spend the bulk of the day reading, knitting, etc.

Today I do have some laundry to do but I think I will knit most of the day (yesterday inspired me!). We are planning to grill burgers for supper tonight, along with fresh corn on the cob.

Oh, I forgot to mention one of the best things from yesterday. They had a person designated as the "Knit Doctor" who you could go to ask for advice to fix a problem you have or show you how to do something. I showed her my socks with sloppy stitch pick-up, and she showed me how to properly pick up stitches - YAY! This was huge for me, since I've never had anyone show me ANYTHING knitting related, I've figured everything out from books, and now I get how to do it. I'm just about done with the heel flap on the light green Cascade socks, so later today I should be putting her advice to use. That alone was worth the price of the admission to the show.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Catch-up time.

OK, lots of updating to do.

The Yo-Yo Ma concert was really good as expected. He did a Haydn cello concerto, which I loved. And then there was a brand new piece by Golijov, just premiered two days earlier. Well, I liked parts of that one. I don't like the dissonance that is really common in modern pieces - it makes me jump out of my skin. But the middle of the piece was lots of fun and had all sorts of unusual drums in it. So that made up for it. And then the orchestra played Bolero for the finale. Ohmygodineverrealizedhowfreakingboringbolerois. I don't think I've ever just sat and listened to it before. Boring. Then there was the guy sitting right behind C who kept coughing through the whole performance - without covering his mouth, so he was basically coughing on the back of C's head. I didn't realize the non-covering part until C told me after the concert. If it had been me, I would have turned around and hissed "cover your goddamn mouth".


I meant to mention that I went to the LYS last weekend. I honestly don't think I'm going to go there anymore. They don't have anything I can't get anywhere else, their prices are not very good, and the people who work there are not very nice. I was planning to get a ball of Opal sock yarn, and was looking around to see if I wanted to get anything else. One of the employees stopped me and said in a snotty tone "You DO realize that's sock yarn you're carrying?" I looked at her, raised my eyebrows, and said "Oh good, because I was hoping to make some socks out of it!" This is just one example, but was my last straw. There are other yarn stores in the area, and most of what they carry I can buy online anyway.

So! Today I decided to go to the Stitches Midwest show. I didn't buy too much because by the time I decided to go and drove my butt down there, the show was only open for 3 more hours. It took an hour and a half just to have a good look around before I started buying anything. I did see a demonstration of the Magic Loop method of sock knitting - not enough to learn how to do it, but enough to understand the concept, which helped because I could NOT picture it before I saw someone do it. I'm honestly not sure if I would bother trying to do it, though. Maybe I'll try it once, because I love knitting on circs. We'll see. It would be pretty cool to do 2 pairs of socks at the same time.

But I know you have been waiting for the photos of what I bought!

Here is some "socks that rock" yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. It is gorgeous yarn and unfortunately the colors don't come through that well on the photo. The one on the right has some bright purple and lime green in it.

This is some nice sport-weight wool/hemp blend that I am eventually going to make into gloves for myself. The woman I bought this from spins and dyes the yarns herself...and she doesn't have a shop, she just goes to the shows and has a small online business. I love this. I also bought some mini-skeins from her:

I think these will be made into a scarf at some point.

And these will become socks eventually.

Sorry about my finger being in the way here, but you can still see the shirt. I couldn't pass this up. It's baby blue (I think it looks gray in the photo), which isn't really one of my favorite colors, but I had to get it.

There were so many other things there that I liked, but I ran out of time even before I ran out of money. It's OK, because I have at least a year's worth of stuff I am wanting to knit already, so I can just plan to spend more time next year. I did get a tip to make sure to go the first day next year, because lots of good deals were already sold out by today. At least I even made it at all this year!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Almost forgot!

I forgot to post last night that I got another package from my secret pal :)

Two more needle rolls, one for circs and one for straights. This woman clearly loves to sew :)

I will post pics soon, but they are made of the same beautiful fabric as the others.

Thanks SP! :)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Got out into the garden for a bit tonight. Spent a good hour weeding (it would probably take 20 or so to clear the whole place out, truthfully). Anyway, nothing seems to be growing that well. The tomato plants look anemic. I have an eggplant roughly the size of an apricot and the plant itself seems to be dead. The edamame leaves are full of holes. The pole beans and peas completely died. The cornstalks are yellow. There are only a few potato and carrot plants that came up. All the vining stuff (squash, melons) are happy and green and flowering, but it's mid-August and nothing is fruiting, not even the summer squash.

I feel like giving up.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Time for a little fun...

So tonight, C and I are going to Ravinia with his dad to see Yo-Yo Ma.

We have prepared a lovely picnic, featuring this sandwich. I also made hummus, picked up some brie and crackers, and made some awesome brownies. To go with all that, I got some Izze sodas (my new favorite).

I am looking forward to a little R&R.