Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ginger Limeade

Here's a refreshing summer drink with a ginger-y zip!

Ginger Limeade
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • fresh ginger -- 2 oz.
  • 6 - 8 limes (quantity needed will depend on size of limes and juiciness) to yield 6 oz. juice

Peel ginger -- for an extra little kick, grate and set aside about 1 teaspoon of the ginger. Mince the remaining ginger and combine with water and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer about 5 minutes. I generally use a large (1 qt.) pyrex measuring cup and cook in the microwave, but you can use a small saucepan on the stove if you'd prefer. Let this cool while you prepare the limes.

Remove zest from a couple of the limes and set aside, then juice enough to yield 6 oz. Add the zest to the juice. If you grated any ginger, add that to the juice now too. When the gingery syrup has cooled combine it with the lime juice mixture.

For each serving, mix equal amounts of the lime mixture with water, and serve over ice. Garnish with lime slices and a sprig of mint, if desired. This quantity should serve 4 - recipe may be doubled.

Have a safe Fourth of July, everyone!

Triple Play Baked Beans

Looking for a way to jazz up the usual canned baked beans? Here's a family favorite.

Triple Play Baked Beans
  • 1 can (16 oz.) butter beans
  • 1 can (16 oz.) kidney beans
  • 1 can (16 oz.)baked beans
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 strips bacon, diced
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Cook bacon dice in frying pan until crisp - remove bacon from pan and set aside when done. Saute diced onion in bacon drippings until onion has softened completely. While onion is cooking, drain butter beans and kidney beans, then add to baked beans in an ovenproof baking dish. Combine ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce, blend well, and add to bean mixture. When onions are done, add to beans. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Top with reserved bacon bits and serve. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

...and voila!


  • Leaf Lace pattern from Fiber Trends
  • yarn - Sea Wool from Fleece Artist, 70%merino, 30% sea cell
  • used approximately 120g.
  • dimensions - 54 inches wide, 27 long
  • 8mm glass beads added to edging

And a close up --

I wanted a smaller shawl, so I didn't block too aggressively; it could, in fact, be blocked larger. After a short soak in Eucalan the yarn felt even softer. Not too much dye was given up, but the water was just the slightest tint of blue. Although both skeins of Sea Wool were from the same batch (not really sure if hand-dyed yarn can have dye lots)the second skein had a noticeably lighter patch. I tried to use it as a quasi "border" at the very end, and used the other end of the ball to do the final edging and bind off. Hopefully it will look like more of a planned color change this way, but frankly, I just don't expect uniformity with hand-dyed. All in all I'm pleased with how it turned out -- it was a quick, fun knit and I like the results.

Stay tuned...

Will this lump-o'-knitting morph into a lovely little shawl?

Friday, June 22, 2007

And now, for something completely different...

Instead of a photo of progress on the SeaWool shawl, I give you this little slice of country life...

Living out in the country you expect to run into your animal 'neighbors' at random times and in random places. We're used to deer peeking in our windows, blue-tailed skinks running rampant over the patio steps and the yipping of coyotes in the night. It can be startling to lift up a black plastic ground cover and find an equally surprised snake, and it's more than a little disconcerting to watch turkey vultures circling overhead while you're swimming in the pool. For the most part though, around here it's -- we live here, you live here, and can't we all just get along? Except for the deer of course. I'll admit to a bit of a blood feud with the deer -- but that's another story.

Most of our up close and personal encounters have been with smaller animals -- your basic squirrels, bunnies, field mice and toads -- until today that is. It started simply enough. A lawn mower was taken out of the garage and the garage doors were left open. You've probably done the same yourself. After all, you live out in the middle of nowhere and who's going to go rummage through your garage while you're out mowing? Well, apparently an open garage door leading to trash containers might just as well have been a neon sign flashing "BUFFET - ALL YOU CAN EAT" to a wandering black bear.

He managed to polish off his appetizer and was heading for the main course before the unsuspecting homeowner (that would be me) went to the garage to look for a trowel. We were separated by a mere 15 feet. He made a sound like a loud expulsion of air. I made a sound like the squeal of a little girl. Then we both turned and ran. Fortunately for me we chose different directions. Did you know that black bears can reach speeds of 30 MPH for short distances? That's 48 KPH if he's a Canadian bear. I'm not sure he floored it, but I do know my time was nowhere near as impressive.

In reality, humans are a much greater threat to black bears than they are to us. I'm thankful, however, that today my last thought wasn't "oooh, I wish I had my camera"!

Monday, June 18, 2007


Unfinished projects have reached a critical mass here -- there must be five (mostly smaller) things in various stages of done-ness. Each one has hit some little bump -- nothing serious, no "do I continue or rip?" -- just a point where a little extra effort is needed. Find a zipper, sew a lining, do the math to work out shaping -- that sort of thing. Sort of like when your wheelie desk chair meets up with the edge of the rug -- not a major roadblock, but it does call for extra "oomph." So, what would you do when confronted with all these niggling details? Yup, me too. I cast on something else.

I've been staring at a couple of skeins of Fleece Artist Sea Wool for the longest time and finally just gave in. It's a 70/30 blend of merino/seacell in a gorgeous greeny/blue color called Nova Scotia. I decided to make a small version of Fiber Trends Leaf Lace Shawl. I've done this one before, and I don't usually like to repeat myself, but I enjoyed knitting (and wearing) it enough to warrant one in a different size and color. I'll be looking for some sparkly beads for the edging -- should make a nice accessory piece.

Even though I didn't buy it there, it will also be a nice remembrance of our brief time in Nova Scotia last September. If you ever have the chance to visit -- jump at it! It's absolutely beautiful, and all the folks we met were just marvelous. In fact, I've never had an unpleasant time anywhere in Canada -- what a country!

Oh, and Valerie? See, I do still knit.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

300 Crochet Patterns book

If you enjoy creating with crochet motifs, then this is the book for you. As with all Japanese stitch pattern books this one is all charts, along with a few diagrams -- mostly illustrating how to join as you go (as in -- no sewing motifs together) along with a panel showing a looped center starting ring. These diagrams have Japanese writing (no English) but frankly the diagrams are clear enough that most crocheters shouldn't have trouble following them.

There is a dizzying array of different motifs -- squares, six-pointed, circles, octagons, triangles and tri-lobed, and one I'm not even sure of -- rhomboid perhaps? They range in size (somewhat) from small 2-round flowers to larger 10 round (doily like) circles. The photos show them worked -- some in thread and some in yarn. Depending on your intended use I would think most of them would be successful either way. Many are shown worked in more than one color, but you could certainly work most of them either solidly or multi-colored -- crocheter's choice. In addition to charts for each individual motif, they all show one possible arrangement of modules, and, what is especially nice, the motifs that fit together leaving large spaces also have a chart for a small "filler" pattern.

While motifs make up 221 of the 300 patterns, the rest are edgings. Some are just straight edgings, but a few (19) of them are shown worked at right angles (in other words, around a corner) thus taking all the guesswork out of edging a cardigan. Take them around all four corners and you'd have a pretty square frame -- for a pillow, or perhaps to trim a fabric photo frame. My first thought on seeing the right angle trims though was "would this work to trim a vee-neck top"?

I used some perle cotton to try out a few -- they're all done with the same size hook too, so you can see that there is a difference in motif sizes.

I think my first project will be a crochet/sewn fabric combo top -- along the lines of Crochet me Magazine's Galaxy Top by Katy Westcott. Just as soon as I finish those STR socks. And, for those of you who were wondering: yup, the second one is patterning just like the first. What fun, my own Children of the Corn socks!

Note: As with all my other Japanese pattern books, this one was purchased online through It is probably available from other sources too, I have simply found YesAsia to be easier to order from.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Let's Rock

Since I'm on a roll, sock wise, I started one of the skeins of my Socks that Rock yarn, color - Lemongrass.

I had never seen this yarn knit up, but if you're calling it "Socks that Rock" then I expect a little flash -- some zigs, some zags, a wild streak or two.

In a moment of sheer insanity I chose a complicated Japanese cable pattern and started. You know how THE KNITTING RULES HANDBOOK states you should never work a busy pattern with variegated yarn? You did get your copy, right? Or have someone who is ever willing to share their thoughts on the rules? Well, I like to question authority too, but that's one rule with some merit.

Starting over I decided to go with a simple waffle pattern -- 4 stitch repeat -- rounds 1 and 2 - knit, rounds 3 and 4 - k2, p2. Ahh, better -- now let's see what wild and crazy pattern develops!

Four inches later -- hmmm, looks like one half of the leg is green, one half is yellow.

In fact, because of the nubby texture it's looking like a half-shucked ear of corn. And so it went, with a minor blip or two, right down to the heel. OK, the stitch count changes, now we'll see some rock 'n roll action! And change it did. Into stripes. I felt like I'd punched the jukebox numbers for some mad, bad, early Stones and Puppy Love had played instead. (sorry, Donny)

Ah well, it's a pleasant knitting yarn and working up quickly and I like the colors, so nothing is lost but a little excitement. And I still have another skein -- Cracked Canyon -- sounds fun, right? I just hope that darn Horse With No Name doesn't show up there.