Monday, February 25, 2013

California Countryside

This weekend I had the great fortune if joining a couple of friends at Stitches West (a knitting convention). This event will get its own blog post next; first I must share some images from my trip up.

To get to stitches, I took the train from Oceanside up the coast to LA, stopped a but at Union Station, then headed up through Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo to San Jose. It was a beautiful, comfortable 13 hour trip. I fully enjoyed quiet time to myself, got to work on some new socks for my husband, and almost finished listening to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

The trip was very pleasant, but mostly uneventful. When I left LA we had assigned seating, and I was not on the coastal side, so I don't have many coastal pics to share (really just one, of some early morning surfers at San Onofre), but I have many countryside pictures to share with you. I hope those of you still in the throngs of winter find these pictures bring you some hope of sunny warm days to come.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Adventures in Gargantuan Knitting

A little over a month ago I shared with my husband a blog post I stumbled upon. The girl had knit a gigantic blanket, using PVC pipes. ( I commented that this would be a great workout for my arms, thinking nothing else of it. My husband, on the other hand, took quite a liking to this blanket, and insisted that I buy the wool immediately and get started right away.

I wasn't quite sure he was serious. Really - do we need such a huge blanket? "Of course we do," he insists. "When are you going to Home Depot to buy your needles?" Well, why not then. I wanted to make him a sweater, but he couldn't decide what type of sweater he would like. So, if I can't make him a sweater, at least I could make him this.

After looking at all the pictures of the blanket, and the different projects on ravelry, my husband specified that he would like it denser than the one on the pattern page. I decided not to do the felting process described in the pattern to help open up the wool, and to use smaller PVC needles - only 1" pipes, 5 feet long. I ordered an extra pound of wool, which was shipped the same day and arrived promptly on our front door.

I cast on that night, attacking the giant 7 pound ball of wool with my duct tape tipped PVC "needles". We watched a movie, and I put in a couple hours of work, making some good progress. The next night my big one insisted on knitting a row, although it turned out she only lasted a few stitches. The pipes were fairly heavy, especially attached to all of that wool.

That 2nd night, I finished up the 7 pounds, and had a blanket that covered half of my bed. My husband advised me to immediately order another 8 pounds, so it would be shipped first thing the next morning. He wanted a blanket to cover our king size bed.

I did so, and had to spend a 3 day weekend anxiously anticipating finishing this blanket. It again arrived quickly, and a mere 2 nights later - on a appropriately chilly night - I had finished the largest feet of knitting I have yet to accomplish. The blanket is incredibly warm. Although the 15 pounds of wool makes it a bit cumbersome to handle, it is so cozy and soothing that I wonder how we ever slept without it.

As I reflect upon the many things I've managed to pull together out of some string and a couple of sticks, the most amazing accomplishments have always been at the encouragement of my husband. He has always been the one to push me to further my skills and make things that are more than just plain and simple. He inspires the artist within me. I'm very lucky and thankful to have such a wonderful partner in life.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Recipes for a great weekend

February is a wonderful month, especially for us teachers. We have two back to back 3-day weekends. This year, here in San Diego county, we are even more fortunate that one of those weekends was cool and rainy - just the way I like it - and the next is sunny and warm.

Our first 3-day weekend was spent puttering around the house, playing dress up, dancing with the dog, watching Thomas speed around the train tracks, reading Harry Potter, knitting, and baking four (!!!) loaves of delicious rosemary bread to go with our vegetable soup. It was my idea of the best kind of weekend - just staying in the house, cozy by the fire.

Here are some recipes for you to enjoy on your long weekend, or any day!

Saturday Morning Pannycakes

This is what my kids beg for most Saturday (and some Sunday) mornings. Quick, easy and fun to fix up in a jiffy, while the little ones watch cartoons. Or even better, Jack Hannah's Into the Wild =D


1 cup unbleached flour
1 tbsp double acting baking powder
dash of sugar
1/8 tsp salt

1 cup soymilk
1 tbsp veg. oil or melted butter/margarine
dash of vanilla
1 heaping tbsp ground flax (optional)

1/4 cup, or less, chocolate chips! or other mix in of your choice. (optional)

Sift or whisk together dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Stir in chocolate chips, if using Combine wet ingredients in a measuring cup, then pour into dry ingredients. Stir vigorously until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Let sit for about 5 minutes. While that sits, warm up your pan. I have an electric stove, and warm mine on 6, then cook the pancakes on 4, medium low heat. I wash up my utensils and put everything away, then the batter should be puffed up a bit, and you should see air bubbles on top. Resist the urge to give it a good stir, and just dip in spoon and pour spoonfuls into your pan. This makes about 5 4-5" diameter pancakes.
Let cook until small bubbles appear on top, flip and cook a couple more minutes until light brown on bottom. Enjoy warm with the topping of your choice - or none at all! =)

Home-Grown Rosemary Bread:

Romano's Macaroni Grill's bread is the best thing about that place. I LOVE that bread, and have always wanted to be able to just make it at home. I searched the web for a recipe and tried a couple, but they all felt like they were lacking something. So, I've come up with this variation, that my family found irresistible - enough for the little ones to climb up onto the counter and devour half a loaf in a matter of seconds.

My favorite part of making this bread is heading out to the garden with my little big girl to pick some fresh rosemary. If its summer time we often also have fresh basil and oregano, but for now I had to use dry. Feel free to use fresh if you have it on hand, just adjust accordingly.


1 Tbsp yeast (I use Red Star Active yeast in a jar)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup warm water

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh rosemary - separated into 1 tbsp piles
2 tsp dry basil (1 tbsp if fresh)
1/2 tsp dry oregano (1 tsp if fresh)

2 tbsp melted butter/margarine - 1 tbsp in the bread, 1 to top it after baking.
Salt to sprinkle on top


To do this my quick way, preheat your oven to 210 degrees f, then turn it off once the oven is preheated.

Whisk together the yeast, sugar and water. Let sit for about 10 minutes, until fluffy and about twice as high.

While the yeast sits, finely chop your rosemary and set aside. Sift or whisk together flour, salt and spices. If you are lucky enough to have a counter top mixer, I just put those ingredients into the bowl with the whisk attached and let it run a bit. (I can't thank you enough for that one, dad!).

Once yeast is ready, I pour in the 1 tbsp melted butter, then dump it all at once into the flour mixture. With the dough hook attached, I put it on speed 2 and let it do its thing for about 5 minutes. If you're doing this by hand, I imagine it would take at least 10 minutes of kneading to get it right. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. Have a glass bowl (I use a casserole dish) sprayed with non-stick cooking spray ready. Once the dough is beautifully soft, flour your hands and take it out of the bowl. Form it into a nice ball, put it in the glass bowl and pop it in your nice, warm oven. Let the dough sit there to rise until doubled in size. This should take about 30-45 minutes.

When the dough is nice and fluffy, take it out and turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it into two and gently work it so it makes 2 nice smooth balls. Turn on oven to 375 degrees f, place your 2 loaves onto an ungreased cookie sheet, sprinkle tops with remaining rosemary and place into oven. Let bake for about 20 minutes, until light brown. Remove from oven, brush with 1 tbsp melted butter, sprinkle with a little salt and place back into oven for about 5 minutes, until a deep golden brown. I have an electric oven, and once put these on low broil for about 2 minutes, and it makes the crust just a bit crispier, more like they have at the restaurant.

Here are some pics from our wonderful, long weekend. Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ready for an adventure

9:57 pm

Just wait till you see what will come of this ...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Getting ready for stitches!

This month my friend Alexa from Oink pigments ( will be a vendor at the Stitches west convention (
I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend with them - thanks mom! I can't believe I'll have an entire weekend kid-free!

In preparation for the big event, we had knit night at Oink pigments headquarters to help skein up and tag some yarn. Of course, I had to bring some knitted sheep cookies.

It was lovely to chat with friends while fingering lots of beautifully colored yarn. We twisted up little mini skeins into a big pot of yarn pasta! Somehow I didn't get Alexa herself into the picture - sorry!! We will have to get pics from the show.

It was a lovely evening. Now I am off to make a sample hat out of some freshly dyed yarn in a new color way that still has yet to be named. Any suggestions?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Back at it!

It seems the new year always brings me fresh inspiration to create and share with the world (although by looking at the dates on my blog, this feeling must have passed me by last year).

It took a month, but that feeling is back. I want to make ALL THE THINGS! Tournament 7 of nerd wars has started and is burning me to finish up those 2 projects that have been languishing on my needles. Firstly I am making a hat for someone I met, who expressed he would like to buy one of my hand knit hats (!!!) I'd like to think I can finish this tonight, but the powers that be often have other plans ...

Also I am finally working on a sweater for my big one, who is now 9 1/2! I can't believe I haven't made her a sweater yet, and I had to choose a lace-weight sweater! It's taking a while, but it is coming out beautiful. Last night she knot a row on it, and she now is planning to make herself a sweater this year!

As far as family goes, we had an exciting visitor yesterday. A very large grasshopper was taken hostage and brought into our house so my little man could "Touch it! Touch it!" very fun memories. The little big one, now 5, loves bugs of any kind, and was fearless as usual and had no problem picking it up and letting it crawl on her. Her big sister, on the other hand, screamed bloody murder and almost squashed the poor thing as she thrashed about in utter terror. Ah, yes ... And she says she is a tomboy.

Now, off to finish that hat!