Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Duty is done

i was SUPPOSED to be in grand jury duty. but, after expressing concern about being accessible to an immediate family member with a chronic illness, the judge had my service changed to petit juror (one day or one trial) and since i wasn't selected, i was promptly dismissed. good thing too because...DC COURT WILL TAKE YOUR KNITTING AND CROCHETING AWAY FROM YOU!!!!!!!! and this is after i called in advance to make sure i could take my knitting with me.

go figure. everyone i know does everything they can to avoid jury duty. i go, willing to serve and get sent home. oh well, i'm sure i'll get a summons in two year.

anyhoo, there are loads of pics to take and new projects happening. i do have one thing to show. i've been cooking again and THE thing is risotto. here's one i've done so far:
Risotto with smoked bacon and peas
Risotto with Smoked Bacon and Peas

1 cup uncooked risotto

2 cups of unsalted chicken stock/broth

2 cups of water (optional)

approx 1 tablespoon of butter

approx 1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 finely chopped shallots

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

6-8 slices of smoked peppered bacon

grated parmesean cheese

Notes: bacon used in recipe purchased from a farmers' market. you want a smokey, cured, heavily seasoned meat. if substituting plain bacon, canadian bacon or pork cracklings, liberally season with coarsely crush black pepper
How to make Risotto with Smoked Bacon and Peas
Begin by cooking bacon on medium heat, draining the fat frequently. you want evenly browned, cripsy pieces. once cooked, drain bacon on paper towels. coarsely chop bacon into bits and set aside.

Drain any remaining grease from pan, leaving it lightly coated with grease and lovely bits of flavor from the bacon. Add shallots, a drizzle of olive oil and sautee until shallots become tender and clear. Add risotto, half of butter and sautee until shallots begin to carmalize and risotto starts to turn golden in color.

At this point, begin adding the broth, 1 cup at a time, allowing liquid to be absorb by the risotto before adding the next cup. when risotto is almost done, toss in peas, bacon, and any remaining butter.

[when using canned broth, I alternate with 1 cup of water the first time, 1 cup of broth the second, and a slightly diluted mix the third time I added liquid. I do this to cut down on the salt. If you are using a low-sodium or no-salt broth, then don't use water. for this, i used homemade unsalted chicken stock]

yes, i know, this is vegetarian, and i do apologize....but dayum this was sooooo good. i have a few more recipes that i'm working on...a mushroom risotto and a dessert one.

so until next time.

Monday, June 30, 2008

An Old Dog Learning New Tricks

a few days ago, i posted this:
2 socks at one time to show my progress on trying to knit two socks at once. well know its grown to this:
2-at-a-time socks
i'm currently working the gusset decreases. i wasn't sure how i felt about the technique--in the beginning it was fiddly and seemed to move slowly. but the idea that both socks would be finished was just to appealing. oh, and a bit of common sense helps too. once i realized that 3 inches on two socks was 6 inches on one--with one more sock to left to knit-my whole perspective changed. i found that my tension was a bit tighter (possibly compensating for the initial awkwardness) but i liked the knitted fabric at 10 sts per inch.

now, would i use this technique for colorwork? probably not right now. its still quite a bit awkward just keeping the two skeins of yarn from tangling--not that i had major problems--but i just can't see juggling all the different least not for the colorwork projects i want to try. the trickiest part for me was picking up the gusset stitches. i found that i had to reposition (i.e. knit and extra row on the turned heel in order to get in the right position to pick up the stitches according to the directions. other than that, not so bad. i can see doing mindless stockingnette socks in self-striping or variegated yarns, or possibly adding some cool Barbara Walker textured stitch patterns, or even some simple lace. its really about understanding the cable path. once you get that, its all kosher.

Friday, June 27, 2008

TGIF: Folklife Festival

a few blogposts back, i mentioned that one of the obscure countries that i would like to visit one day is Bhutan. Surrounded by China, India, Bangledesh, and Nepal, its a landlocked nation that has managed to maintain it traditional ways. well, one of the country exhibits at the Festival is Bhutan (the others are Texas and NASA--i guess they consider themselves a country!!!) and i have been eagerly watching from my office window--seeing the tents go up and literally an entire village being built. on my lunch break, i took a stroll to the Festival and i must say i'm as giddy as a Japanese school girl at a Hello Kitty bling-bling sale!

with that said, here are a few pictures of what i saw--and i still need you to pay no mind to the poor photography. not only am i still learning but, you know, giddy, giddy school girl thing(lots of photos!):

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan
outside view of a reconstructed Bhutanese buddhist temple

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan
urn-like structure outside to the right of the temple entrance. the tent in the background was for one of the monastic arts.

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan
detail of a series of carvings on outside temple walls

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan
center of mural inside temple--it was very crowded. inside the temple there were monks chanting and playing instruments. i just didn't think it was appropriate to take their pictures while chanting.

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan
left corner of mural wall

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan
right corner of mural wall

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan
alter inside temple with offerings of incense and fruit. at the right end of the alter was a monk who was placing strings around visitors necks.

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan
mural on ceiling of temple. instead of getting a string, i was looking up...

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan
considered a monastic craft, various sculptures all made of clay. Brother Dorji (not shown) was sitting to the left on the ground working on a large Buddha using nothing but some whittled sticks and a wooden mallet.

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan
incense making

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan
this is the tent that was located behind the temple urn. a monk is showing children how to weave yarn between sticks.

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan
finished work of the stringing craft the monk was teaching

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan
sand mandala--the monks were taking a break to eat

Folk Life Festival--Bhutan
exhibit of high altitude medicinal herbs used in Bhutanese medicine. Sornam Dorjee is an actual Bhutanese physician and he was there explaining the various herbs and uses

all of the exhibits have actual Bhutanese citizens there to show you their craft and culture. this visit has just reinforced my desire to vist this country of the GNH--Gross National Happiness.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sock It To Me

so i've been on a sock kick recently....they're quick, and highly portable. i'm also teaching myself this technique:

2 socks at one time
pattern: basic 64-stitch sock pattern
yarn: KnitPicks Felici self striping sock yarn
colorway: Berries
needles: KnitPicks Harmony 47" fixed need, size 2.25mm/US1

knitting 2 socks at the same time--on one circular needle. i'm trying it to avoid "second sock syndrome". sometimes, especially when a new stitch pattern or technique is involved, once i've done the first one, the excitment is over. so to maintain productivity, i'm learning how to do both socks at the same time. so far, the only downside i'm seeing is that it slows me down a bit, normally, i'd be almost ready to do the heel flap and righ now, i'm only 2 inches into the actual leg. and manuevering the cord and trying not to get 2 balls of yarn twisted up is a bit of a nuisance--but not enough to make be stop. hopefully, as i get more comfortable with the technique, it will move a bit faster. of course, i'm getting 10 stitches to the inch versus 7 or 8 so that will make it go a bit slower too. this is how i normally do socks:

Spring Forward Sock
pattern: Spring Forward, Summer '08 issue of
yarn: Perchance to Knit superwash merino sock yarn
colorway: Nasturnums
needles: KnitPicks Harmony sock needles size 2.25mm/US1

that's 66 stitches divided amongst 4 needles, plus one to work with--5 needles. i'm also getting 10 stitches per inch on the sole of the sock. rest of the sock is done at the pattern gauge of 7.5 stitches per inch.

i am still plowing away on my lace projects--they're just too big for me to lugg on the commute, plus, i'm afraid something my happen to them. so for now, socks will be the major commute project for a while.

i also got some goodies recently:

Lyra, by Herbert Niebling

i've been wanting this pattern forever, but the obey-copyright person inside me said wait until you can get it legally. its been on ebay, going for up to $50-$60 bucks. Recently, recieved permission to reprint this uber famous lace pattern and is selling it for $7! it will definitely be a test of my knitting skills. so along with the pattern, i got:

Shetland Cobweb
Shetland Cobweb, 100% pashmina wool

its the real deal.....thread thin wool used to make those insane Shetland shawls. i purchased 2,000 yards. now all i need to do is get some size 0000 needles and i'll be good to go. i only have size 0 in my arsenal of all things thin.

and since i was in the buying mood, i also got these goodies from a local dyer, the Sanguine Gryphon:

Little Traveler Sock yarn, colorway: Venezuela, 560yds merino, 2 skeins

it is soft and squishy and the color is a more vibrant green-teal shade that goes from blue/green to teal to green/blue to black

Taiping DK, colorway: Terra cotta, 220yds cashmere, 1 skein

Taiping DK, colorway: Moss Green, 220yds cashmere, 1 skein

*ahem* CASHMERE.....hand dyed and affordable *squeeling like a schoolgirl* the green is a bit more olive than the pic but the terra cotta is just as lively and vibrant. i don't know what i'm going to make with them but.....CASHMERE!

tonight is Stitch n Bitch night in Dupont circle, so i'll get to oooh and ahhhh and giggle with my kind and get some knitting down.

next post will be about the sparklies....Fire Mountain Gems contest is coming up and i think i might enter....

Friday, June 20, 2008

TGIF: Outside of Crafting

i've decided to reserve Fridays for anything but the crafting, so...on my lunch break today, i went here:

Weekly Farmers' Market

every Friday from June thru October, there's a Farmers' Market right accross the street from my office--the view is actually from my office window. as i've been back on the re-embrace vegetarianism kick, i decided to take advantage of the fresh local produce. this is what i came away with and spent well under $20 for the whole shebang:

strawberries from the Farmers' market2 pints of strawberries

bluberries from the Farmers' market2 pints of blueberries

cherries3 pints of cherries--couldn't myself. they're sooooo sweet and juicy!

Swiss Charda bundle of Swiss chard--the vendor recommends sauteeing the chopped roots in salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil for 5 minutes, then toss in the coarsly chopped leaves and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. i'm gonna give it a try this weekend.

green bean and yellow wax beana whole bunch of green beans and yellow wax beans. the girlchild loves them, steamed, sauteed, any way possible.

Kettle corn and two bags of homemade kettle corn. its still a vegetable!

behind the trees in the pic of the Market are tents. those tents are for the Folk Life Festival that will be starting next week. one of the 'exhibits' is the country of Bhutan, and they are actually building a replica of a Buddhist temple from the country. Bhutan is one of those obscure, little known countries that is on my 'places to visit wishlist' one day, so i'm really excited about this year's festival. perhaps my photo taking skills will get better by then. ha!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Doin' the Duty

10 years ago, my artistic self decided to move into the city. it was hip, it was cool, it put me in closer contact with the artistic community that i was part of, i was gonna buy a house, yadda, yadda. within 6 months of obtaining official residency--and updating my voter registration info--i got tagged with jury duty. not just once, but religiously every 2 years in the spring, i get my notification. on the 4th year, i asked about the frequency and was given the legal-ese blah, blah about how it was in accordance with the law etc. i said, i wasn't disputing the legality of it, just questioning the frequency. i was then told that there weren't enough 'qualified' residents in DC to serve, i.e. everyone is temporary or has a criminal background. now, i know LOTS of law abiding permanent residents, who are registered voters, who have never served. but like clockwork come April or May, I get notified to show up.

now don't get me wrong, i'm not complaining, i believe in doing my civic duty...its a privilege to participate in the spirit of our country's judicial system. and i haven't complained for 9 years, about getting my little 'petite juror' notice (serve 1 day or 1 trial--i NEVER get picked). but on the 10th anniversary of my $4 a day gig as a DC juror, why do i get this:



from July 28 through August 29. and entire month. and you know, for one brief moment, i wanted to complain, and then i read my notification: no call in, must show up everyday.....this is a friggin' vacation from the insanity that is my job. my biggest concern now is: what kind of project should i work on? i have a whole month of crafting i could do, and yes, i can knit in the DC courthouse (no metal).

the girlchild has suggested that i do a Pi shawl with a medieval theme. i have 2 of the Barbara Walker stitch pattern dictionaries and the 2nd volume has a cottage and a castle, along with flowers and trees. ive been looking at other patterns and may design a stole to work on. or continue making more socks:

Gelato Sock

pattern: "A Classic Sock Pattern" from Nancy Bush's Folk socks (64 stitch)
yarn: KnitPicks Felici (self striping yarn
colorway: Gelato
needles: KnitPicks Harmony sock needles; cuff 2.25mm/US1, leg 2.50mm/US1

here's a closup of the leg and stitches:
Gelato Sock

i really like the Harmony needles, (one of which can be seen in the jury summons pic)the stitch seem to be more even and clean and the tips are uber pointy which is great for starting circular lace pieces. matter of fact, i like them soooo much, that i'm getting their circulars so i can learn to do 2 socks at a time on 2 circular needles. just goes a bit faster. for my my non-knitting friends, here's what it looks like when i'm knitting the sock:

Gelato Sock

i had just finished turning the heel and was working on the gussest. i started out using 5 needles, went to 2 for the heel flap, and then 4 for the gusset, then back to 5 for the foot. lots of little pointy sticks...ensures no one bothers me on the train ride to work!

Monday, June 16, 2008

More WIPs

my mind tells me, that if i blog about what i'm working on, then i'll be more accountable for completing the project--doesn't mean my mind is correct, but at least there's a record of it somewhere.

April in December baby sweater

this sweater was supposed to be a baby gift for a special little baby girl in cyberspace. due to a few personal issues, it got put on the burner--and all it needs are sleeves and the neck and button band to finish it off. i'm knitting both sleeves at the same time, and am already halfway thru. oh, and lets not forget the cute flowers that go between the lace pattern below:

April in December baby sweater

baby is now approx. 6 months old and may not fit this sweater. but since mommy has been sewing, i'm going to finish the sweater, with the hopes that she may know of another baby to give it to, or perhaps, she'll sew a doll that can wear the sweater. *hint, hint* that way, i can move on to another project for the baby. i'm thinking, it will still be a cardigan, and perhaps pearl buttons, just cus i'm that slow in getting them to mom.

another project that has been hanging around is this one:

Posideon's Mistress

i call it Posideon's Mistress. the focal bead is a faceted yellow opal and the large reddish stones are faceted sunstones. included in the mix are various pearls, fancy jasper, rutilated quartz, citrine, rose quartz, garnet, carnelian, and aquamarine. its a pretty substantial piece as far as the weight but its not quite done. so any tips would be helpful. now that i can make my own chain, i'm thinking i should do something more substantial like chainmaille.

the final project is for the girlchild--the Central Park Hoodie:
Central Park Hoodie
i got off to a great start and then things slowed down once the girlchild got sick, then got on medication, then started to gain a little weight. she's losing the weight now so we'll see. i'm sure it will still fit but she wanted it loose fitting. i've even gotten the sleeves done:
Central Park Hoodie
all that needs to be done is to finish the hood (the upper part of neck) set in the sleeves, then pick up the edge stitches to do the button band. now that its been warm i'm not sure i want to work on something as heavy as this--hence the lace projects.

Barefoot and in the Kitchen... how i spent a good part of the weekend. in an effort to live a healthy lifestyle, i've been moving back towards vegetarianism. i don't know if i'll make it all the way--i LOVE seafood-- but i could definitely do better. i got a bit 'happy' at the farmers' market recently and brought home zuchinni, yellow squash, leeks, various bell peppers, white mushrooms and portabello mushrooms with some sort of fantasmagorical-veggie-delight dish in mind. now, the problem with me getting excited about veggies is, i never quite use up what i buy. then i feel bad because of what has been wasted. so i came up with was pretty darn tasy and convenient way to get my veggies in and use them up too. i made a versatile veggie mix that's quick and easy.

veggie mix sauteeingfirst, i diced and seasoned the veggies with a lemon pepper marinade and sauteed them in olive oil.

veggie mix tossed with pastathen i tossed in some cooked, whole wheat pasta.

veggie and pastavoila! top with gorgonzola cheese and enjoy.

its quick, easy, gourmet-ee, can be served hot or cold and is very filling. i only had one problem--i still had LOTS of veggies left. i had used left than half of each vegetable to make a dish that served 4 nicely. i could hear the veggies calling out to me...."don't waste us, pllllllleeeeeeeeeaaaaze don't waste us"

what's a girl to do? then it hit melightbulb(insert ding! here)

make a veggie base that i can adjust and mix with different things. season them and store the servings. now, i know i could cook them and freeze them, but the plan is th have the freshest veggies possible. so the rest of the veggies became this:
veggie mix in a simple marinade of Ms.Dash, a pinch of kosher salt.

then it was divided up for different dishes adding things like:
Portabello mushroomsseasoned and sauteed portabello mushrooms, and:

chicken sauteeingfor the girlchild, lemon pepper marinated chicken

all of which goes nicely into:
wheatwrapwhole wheat wraps, tossed with pasta, mixed greens, stir-fried and served with brown rice. adjust the mix to seasonal items or whatever you like. what's neat, is i can use the same veggies, but they never quite taste the same.