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Friday Roundup: Birthday Edition

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What I’m Knitting:

I still need to block the colorwork mitt from last week, but I started another project! Remember the little nautical sweater that I blogged about last month? I was really unhappy with the way the topmost white stripe on the body was pulling up, and there were a few other things I didn’t like about it, like the way the bottom flared out a bit and the bordering-on-too-tight neck opening.

Here’s the pic—see what I mean?

IMG_8855So when I heard Knit Picks had a new easy-care yarn out, I figured I could kill two birds with one stone—try out the yarn and reknit the sample with some changes. I’m through the yoke and rolling along on the stripes for the body:

IMG_9359It’s the same general concept, as you can see, but there will be some other changes (more stripes on the sleeves, for one). Hopefully I’ll have some decent progress to show off next week.

What I’m Cooking

My birthday was this week, and a good friend had a birthday a few days later. I made a dinner of shepherd’s pie (with lentils standing in for the meat) for our little party and baked a chocolate cake for afterwards! It was delicious. I actually think vegan cakes taste better. You don’t get that eggy taste, and they’re not so rich that you can’t finish a piece. Even the omni guests said it was one of the better cakes they’d had.

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We were low on birthday candles, so there’s one for each of us!

FullSizeRenderI’m still working on my Appetite for Reduction cookbook challenge! This week, the recipes on deck were fusilli with roasted veggies:

IMG_9342Lentil soup with lots of veggies (so good!):

IMG_9351And two things I never would have made without this challenge, shaved Brussels sprouts and oven-baked onion rings! The onion rings in particular were an experience, what with the battering and breading. But they were really good! Not greasy like fried ones, just crunchy and salty. I’ll definitely be making them again. We had them with some pre-marinated tofu:

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What I’m Reading:

Although I managed to get a decent amount of cooking and knitting in this week, my reading time suffered. So I’m still working on A Hat Full of Sky, although I’m hurrying to get through so I can read a writer friend’s manuscript!

 

 

Friday Roundup: Why You Should Block Colorwork, and Challenge Accepted!

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What I’m Knitting

The second colorwork mitt is alllmost done—just the thumb ribbing and weaving in ends to go!

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I sometimes get comments about how even my colorwork is on my FOs… to which I always respond, “Nope, it’s just blocking.” Here’s an illustration of what I mean: the unblocked mitt next to the blocked one (they are, of course, the exact same stitch count, needle size, etc.).

IMG_9337 (1)I think the difference is even more obvious on the reverse side:

IMG_9340 (1)So anyway, there’s my PSA for the day: block your colorwork!

What I’m Cooking

Remember I said I was considering cooking every single recipe in my new Appetite for Reduction cookbook in order? Well, I accepted my own challenge and started in on it this week! I’m aiming for 2-3 recipes a week, since most of them make enough for leftovers for another meal the next day.

I’ve already cooked several things I wouldn’t have otherwise, and they were all delicious! I missed getting a picture of the baked falafel, which was a bit time-consuming, but amazing. I love falafel, but it’s usually fried in oil—not exactly health food. The baked ones came out moist and delicious. Next time I’ll double the recipe.

Here’s what I did manage to photograph. First, a quinoa-chickpea dinner salad with homemade balsamic dressing. We don’t usually eat dinner salads (hence the need for reduction, ahem), but this one was really filling and just enough with a few pieces of crusty bread. This was my first time making my own salad dressing—it was yummy!

IMG_9322 (1)Next up is a chickpea piccata, served over spinach and what Isa (the cookbook author) calls “caulipots”: a steamed potatoes/cauliflower mix mashed with a little olive oil. The whole thing was amazing! We gobbled it up and didn’t have any leftovers that day.

IMG_9329 (1)And finally, another dinner salad, this one from another cookbook (we had leftover quinoa that I wanted to use up, so I went looking for a recipe). This is a mock Caesar with homemade dressing and tempeh “croutons.” Another winner (especially the croutons! I usually find tempeh pretty bitter, but this method of cooking them was great).

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Stay tuned for next week’s challenge recipes!

What I’m Reading

I finished The Wee Free Men and started in on book #2 in the series, A Hat Full of Sky. I love these books so much!

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Friday Roundup: New Recipes and Half a Mitt

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What I’m Knitting

The colorwork mitt is chugging along! Gone are the days when I could have finished something like this in a few days of knitting, sigh, but at least I’m nearly done with the thumb gusset now:

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I’m using my Knit Picks Harmony interchangeables to work the Magic Loop technique for these mitts. Normally I prefer DPNs for hand stuff, but getting the colorwork floats the right tension at the edges of all those needles is a nightmare. The cord on these needles is so flexible that they’re really nice for Magic Loop.

What I’m Cooking

Lots of stuff from the new cookbook I got (Appetite for Reduction). I love this cookbook so much that I’m actually contemplating working my way through the entire thing, Julia & Julia style. My husband’s on board—it’ll mean we try a bunch of new-to-us ingredients and tastes, so it should be fun!

This is a low-fat wine sauce over pasta, with (delicious) vegan eggplant “bacon” on top:

IMG_9294And these are sweet potato biscuits, a clever recipe that replaces nearly all of the butter/shortening usually found in biscuits with mashed sweet potato:

IMG_9301They were perfect with this kale, quinoa, potato, and white bean stew:

IMG_9303And last but not least, this AMAZING tortilla soup. Holy cow, was this yummy.

IMG_7280I did have a little mishap with this one. It called for a couple of jalapeños, which I’ve cooked with before without any problems. But somehow I got some of the juice underneath a couple of my fingernails… and they were on FIRE for the whole rest of the day. I cut the nails short, scrubbed them with an old toothbrush, soaked them in soapy water, used rubbing alcohol—nothing helped. It finally wore off on its own overnight, but yikes. Think I’ll wear some gloves next time I cut hot peppers.

What I’m Reading

I just finished a re-read of one of my favorite books, by my favorite author: The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. The last book in the series is coming out in a few months (very bittersweet for me, because the author passed away a few months ago and this is the last new book of his I’ll ever read). I decided to re-read the previous four books before the new one.

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Friday Roundup: Chugging Along

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What I’m Knitting:

Despite a terrible lack of knitting time, I managed to start the second colorwork fingerless mitt of the yarn dominance experiment. This Stitch Sprouts Yellowstone (wool/silk blend) is just luscious.

It doesn’t look like much yet, but I have some longer car trips coming up, so hopefully I’ll have some major progress by next week!

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What I’m Cooking:

A trip to a semi-local farmers’ market yielded a bunch of kale and carrots, so I whipped up a potato-kale-quinoa stew:

IMG_8879And I got a new vegan cookbook from the library (Appetite for Reduction)! I’m excited to try lots of recipes, but the first one had to be creamed corn, which I love but haven’t had since I stopped eating nearly all dairy more than fifteen years ago. It came out delicious!

IMG_8886My mom just got back from a business trip to Louisiana and brought me some local brown rice, so I made black-eyed peas, collard greens, and cornbread to go with it. My first time cooking with black-eyed peas (and ever eating collard greens, I think), but it came out really good! The recipe uses liquid smoke in place of the usual pork, so it had a bacon-y flavor.

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What I’m Reading:

I’m beta-reading an excellent young adult manuscript for a friend of mine before she sends it to her literary agent! Fun stuff. Hopefully you can find this one on the shelves before too long. :-)

Friday Roundup: Hey, a Finished Object!

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What I’m Knitting:

It’s been a while since I’ve had an FO ready to show off for FO Friday!

Here’s my nautical baby pullover (actual name forthcoming, obviously…):

IMG_8855 IMG_8871The specs:

Pattern: My own. I started the pattern writing and am aiming to release this one at the beginning of the fall knitting season—hopefully early to mid September.

Yarn: Universal Uptown Worsted in Royal Blue (2 skeins) and Cream (1 skein). I liked the yarn a lot! For 100% acrylic, it was very non-squeaky and soft. I’ll probably use it again for super-easy-care baby gifts.

Notes: This was a fun, relaxing knit. It’s top down, all in one piece, so the only thing that was complicated at all was the short rows on the shawl collar (which, frankly, were a good thing after all that stockinette). I was aiming for a 1-2 year old size and was worried that it came out a little small, but I tried it on my son (1 yr) and it fits him well with a little room to grow. Perfect! Now the weather just has to cooperate for outside pictures.

What I’m Cooking:

Not something I made from scratch, but something I ate several times this week: I just discovered this new and amazing product:

IMG_7131That is dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free mac and cheese! And it’s delicious. I throw in some frozen peas and broccoli to up the veggie quotient and it’s a fabulous quick lunch or dinner. Plus my son loves it—bonus!

I did manage to make some yummy tofu Pad Thai, which I always crave in hot weather for some reason:

IMG_7154And these excellent maple-syrup-sweetened, vegan banana oat muffins:

IMG_8835My son adores these as well, which is great because I’m always loathe to give him the sugary store-bought ones.

What I’m Reading:

I just finished The Dream Thieves (soooo good!) and am currently on the hunt for another MG/YA book to read. I think I’m going to take a break from intense and read something fun and quick before I tackle the third Raven Boys book.

Pardon My Absence

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No Friday Roundup post today, as I’m attending an all-day writer’s conference (and had no time for knitting, cooking, or reading this week anyway! Yikes!).

In lieu of a post, here’s a picture of my fridge, sporting one of my favorite comic strips:

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Friday Roundup: A Finished Object and a Helper

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What I’m Knitting:

I finished the knitting on the nautical pullover. I’m mostly happy with it. It fits my son with a little room to spare, so that should be perfect for a fall photoshoot. I’m not altogether pleased with the way the topmost white stripe is pulled up by the collar, but I’m hoping a good blocking should even that out. Blocking will commence tonight or tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Here it is in all its unblocked, lumpy glory (see my helper underneath the table?):

IMG_8746I also knit up a very large, intricately cabled swatch this week. It’s for a design submission to a yarn company, so I can’t show a full pic, but here’s a teaser. I love the way cables look in heathered wool:

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What I’m Cooking:

Some old standbys this week. We were still playing catchup from our trip, so I didn’t have a whole lot of time to cook. My favorite lentil, kale, quinoa stew made an appearance. The MVPs of this stew are my time-saving helpers, pre-chopped garlic:

IMG_7074And veggie broth bouillon cubes, so I always have broth on hand:

IMG_7073And again, I had a little helper keeping me company:

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What I’m Reading:

Back to the second Raven Boys book, The Dream Thieves! (I just got a notification that it’s overdue from the library. Oops. To renewals I go!)

 

Friday Roundup: I’m Back!

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What I’m Knitting

I missed posting last week while on vacation, but I’m back home as of a few days ago and settling back into the routine! Thanks to a road trip from the Seattle area to Sacramento, CA, I managed to finish most of a little nautical-themed pullover idea I’ve had brewing for a while:

IMG_8622I would have finished the whole thing, but I only brought one ball of the blue yarn, thinking I’d never get through that much with the little one to worry about. Oh well, now that I’m back, hopefully I can get it wrapped up this week. It just needs the second sleeve and the shawl collar, so not too bad.

We stopped in another lovely little yarn shop on our travels and I managed to score another couple of great skeins…but our suitcases were overfull, so I had to have those shipped. Hopefully I’ll have them by next week!

What I’m Cooking:

I actually cooked quite a bit in Sacramento, but I forgot to get pics (and it was mostly my old standbys that I’ve shown a few times here already, anyway). My son’s favorite food right now is my vegan broccoli “cheddar” soup, so I whipped up a big batch of that for his first birthday party last week. It was a hit!

Now that I’m home, we’re about to go on an epic grocery shopping trip and much cooking will commence. I always feel like I need to detox after a vacation—anyone else feel that way too?

What I’m Reading:

My husband and I have been fans of Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half blog for years, so I had to get him this book version for his birthday. I got to read it when he was done. It’s just as funny as the blog! I was reading it on the plane with my son sleeping on my lap, trying not to laugh too much and wake him up.

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Friday Roundup: Vacation Edition!

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What I’m Knitting

I’m on vacation! (A working vacation, but still.) My husband and son and I are out in the Seattle, WA area for the wedding of a family friend. Ordinarily, many hours on a plane means I’d have plenty of knitting progress to show off… but as any parent knows, taking an almost-one-year-old on a 5 hr + flight does not make for a lot of knitting time. He did really well, but there was a lot of wrangling!

I did, however, manage to stop by a really cool yarn store yesterday when we were wandering around the Pike Place Market area. So Much Yarn is cute and friendly, with an excellent selection of yummy stuff and a great view of the Sound. I was with a group of non-knitters, so I kept my browsing short, but I managed to snag this gorgeous skein of Wonderland Yarns March Hare in Curiouser.

I saw this yarn at TNNA last year and have been dying to try it out! I’m hoping I can get a little vest for my son out of it! (Apologies for the crappy phone snap. Trust me. It’s stunning.)

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What I’m Cooking

Not much at the moment, as you can imagine… but I am eating some seriously yummy stuff in restaurants around here. I eat mostly vegan, as anyone who regularly reads this blog knows, and it’s so refreshing to see so many vegan options everywhere!

I did manage to bake some very tasty banana blueberry muffins before we left, however:

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What I’m Reading:

I didn’t take my current book with me on the trip, because it’s A) a library book and B) huge. Instead, I’m re-reading a book from one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Crusie. It’s like comfort food in book form:

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Friday Roundup: Baby Hat Edition

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What I’m Knitting

I know I said I’d be working on the green textured sweater design this week, but I had to put that on hold for some emergency baby knitting (we’ve all been there, right?). A good friend of mine just had a baby boy a few days ago, so I cast on this mini-sized Koolhaas Hat for her little guy:

Koolhaas WIPThe yarn is buttery-soft Knit Picks Comfy in a lovely heathered gray colorway. This is my first time using Comfy, and I really like it! It’s 75% cotton, 25% acrylic, which is just about the perfect blend for my taste. It isn’t as heavy or unyielding as 100% cotton, and the touch of acrylic makes it really easy to wash.

Just when I was at the decreases of that hat, I decided I wanted to work up a little hat for a baby shower I’m attending tomorrow. This decision may or may not have been influenced by the fact that the guest of honor had another baby shower in a different town last week, and every. single. thing was purchased off their registry when I looked a few days ago. Oh well–one of a kind presents are good too, right?

So I cast on a super-quick baby bonnet this morning and have been knitting furiously in the car on the way to run errands (when I wasn’t the one driving, of course!). This one is also in Knit Picks cotton, some Simply Cotton Worsted left over from my Kari Baby Blanket. I’m ready for the decreases and on track to get it finished tonight:

baby bonnet WIP

What I’m Cooking

Another round of the delicious, wine-infused mushroom stroganoff (this time with added broccoli to up the veggies) over quinoa pasta:

mushroom stroganoffI had a head of cauliflower to use up a few days later and was planning to roast it… but that took about 45 minutes and the husband and son were hungry now. So I steamed it and mashed it with garlic, Earth Balance spread, and chives from the garden, then served it with veggie burgers. Delicious! The baby LOVED it. He ate a whole plate by himself.

cauliflower mash

What I’m Reading

I’m still working on The Dream Thieves–but I do have some other writing/reading related news! One of my manuscripts is in a really cool online contest called The Writer’s Voice (modeled after the show The Voice, apparently, but I’ve never seen it so that doesn’t mean much to me!). The contest entries went live today, and in a few days, literary agents are going to request to see manuscripts they find interesting. Wish me luck! If you’d like to check out my entry, it’s here.

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