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Monthly Archives: February 2013

ry=400Most people who know me know to expect this from me, the day after my birthday.

In fact, I have gotten in the habit of taunting my friend Marianne about the day after my birthday (and a couple of other days in the year, but I know this is the one that “gets” her every time), to get the tissues ready.

Because I tell the same story every year, and it starts like this:

It was the day after my birthday. I bought a car, I bought a crate, and I drove down to Maryland to pick up my dog.

This is the ninth year I will be telling this story. It starts this way, every year. Some details get added, some are omitted, and every year I am gladder that I get to tell the story again.

It almost doesn’t matter any more why I decided that I wanted a border collie to begin with. What really matters is that rescue after rescue told me that I COULD NOT have  a border collie, not in New York City.

IMG_3030Never mind that I was trying to adopt my first dog ever. I knew (I did, right?) an adult border collie was going to be “difficult”. But how dare they deny ME providing a home for an unwanted dog!?!? Those were the magic words. “You cannot”.

I did finally convince someone to let me adopt a 4 year old male border collie though, nine years ago.

People tell me that Finn is lucky to have found me. I think he was totally meant to be mine. He knew that he found his sucker when he saw me. Played aloof a little, then gave me a big stare, then his goofy smile.

I will never forget the first day I got him to NYC. He was so scared he was practically crawling on the street as I tried to walk him from my garage to my apartment. Automatic doors opened and he jumped. I thought he would never go to the bathroom on concrete. Thank goodness he’s the kind of dog that  would sell his soul for food because he had never seen stairs before and back then, I lived on the 4th floor of a walk up. I coaxed him up, with food, inching up the stairs. It took me 45 minutes.

Then, he turned into a total stalker. Of me. He stared and stared and stared. I lost 5 pounds in the first weekend that I had him because I could not eat while he was staring at me. “Dogs need exercise”, they tell you. So I ran and ran.

I should have publicized it as the new diet. “The Border Collie Diet”.

IMG_3484He has taught me many things. In the last nine years, I have taken many adventures because of him. I have touched sheep (a lot, and not just because they are yarn about to happen). I have learned that communicating with another species is a different kind of challenge — dogs are so….literal. I have learned about canine structure and behavior. Most of all, I have learned what true companionship is all about.

I don’t believe that dogs give you unconditional love….until you earn it. Once you earn it, though, then I think you become the sun, moon and goddess of their universe. Really, I don’t think I can do much wrong in Finn’s eyes at this point.

In fact, as I write this, all 50 pounds of Finn are lying on my feet. And snoring. Because he’s an old guy. He’s a very good boy.

I hope, with all my heart, that I get to write my day after my birthday story for several years more. Marianne, please pass the tissue.

Happy adopt-a-versary, Finn. Thank you for a great nine years!

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I purchased my first skein of Old Maiden Aunt yarn when I was in London for a business trip. I’ve always loved Lilith’s really cool colors.

I was tooling around Ravelry (if Ravelry made a nickel per skein for all the yarn that is sold because of it…..), and saw that Lilith does a preview club at the beginning of the year, January, February and March, where 50 people get their hands on the new colorways.

When I got a slot, I was so happy!! And vowed to not let these skeins sit around in stash.

I also decided that the skeins will be used in 2 color projects, assuming that the skeins that come are meant to go together. Right? I think that’s a good assumption.

Here is my project with the January yarn, which was in the 4-ply 100% merino base in the colors Famous Blue Raincoat and Green’s Last Gasp: Zephyr Cove by Romi Hill. I have to admit, I wasn’t 100% sold on this shawl when it first came out, mostly because I just didn’t want to knit miles of garter. But I saw some of the gorgeous shawls that were knitted like Blunckie’s knit out of hand-spun, Teresat2t’s out of one of my favorite yarns ever (Tanis Fiber Arts Red Label), and lindsaykohler’s bold colored one (among many many others),  and how EVERYONE said that it was a very wearable shawl….and I was sold. I should not have doubted Romi to begin with.

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It was a perfect commute project. And as a bonus, the knitting starts with this really cute little leaf:

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And Lilith’s colors? I really love them together in this shawl. (Of course she’s good. She’s got a dog named Finn!!)

Next up, the February yarn, all caked to go.

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Hmmmmmm. What should I knit!? I am extra excited about the red yarn, inspired by a Barenaked Ladies song!!

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The very first time I had these little cheesy, puffy breads was at one of my local coffee shops, O Cafe (they make a mean cup of coffee, by the way — which should be a reminder that I have been meaning to do a Coffee Crawl in my neighborhood to write about).

I saw them coming out of the oven. They looked like cute little popovers. Of course, I immediately wanted to make them. (I wanted to eat them first, obvs.)

Pão de Queijo is Brazilian Cheese Bread, more akin to gougères than bread, in my opinion. The wonderful thing about these guys is that you don’t have to make a pate a choux, and while I found some pão recipes that started with a pate a choux base, my favorite involves a blender, mini muffin tins, and a toaster oven.

Real Pão de Queijo is more chewy than crunchy. I prefer mine a bit on the overcooked side (toast brown rather than light brown on the outside), with a hint of chew in the center.

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I have to say —I love the instant gratification of cooking. Even if you tinker around and try various versions of a recipe, we are talking hours here instead of days/weeks until you get what you want.

And guess what? Tinker I did.

My favorite basic recipe comes from Simply Recipes and is linked here. This recipe produces a really light, slightly cheesy puff. I love the recommendation to use queso fresco, or farm cheese, as well. You can use any sort of cheese, including that bit of parmesan that may be going rock hard in the refrigerator.

Here are my modifications (I really should change the name of this blog to Twisted and Modified!):

Twisted Not Quite Brazilian Pão de Queijo

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/3 cup milk, I use whatever is on hand and today I have 2% milk
  • Scant 3 cups (340 grams) tapioca flour — I always weigh when I’m baking, rather than use volume measures.
  • 1 cup (130 grams) crumbled blue cheese, I like gorgonzola.
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt – watch the salt and adjust with the saltiness of the cheese. I will salt heavily (~3tsp) if I am using farm cheese, but with blue cheese, am lighter.
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • generous grind of black pepper

Yield: ~6 batches in mini muffin tins. The batter is doubled vs. the original recipe. Batter can be stored refrigerated (the original recipe says up to a week, I’ve never stored this batter for that long), make sure it is blended/shaken before using again.

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  1. Preheat toaster oven to 400°F. (You can clearly do bigger batches in the oven.)
  2. Put all of the ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth and well blended
  3. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until all puffy and browned. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for a few minutes.

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They are perfect with a glass of champers. They are gluten free, although chock full of dairy.

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Enjoy!

I am not a happy knitter of miles and miles of stockinette.

I wish I was — I love to wear simple lines and if I muster enough gumption to knit through lots of stockinette, it usually becomes a staple in my wardrobe.

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IMG_8728I’ve had my eye on Amy Christoffer’s Galvanized Cardigan since it was first published in the Winter 2010 issue of Interweave Knits. It’s a simple stockinette cardigan, with corrugated rib detail at the collar, cuffs and hem.

I don’t know what the impetus was for me to cast on. I’ve had the main yarn that I used for the sweater, Rowan Felted Tweed DK, in stash for…EVER (I think probably 10 years). The contrast yarn I used though, was not Rowan Kidsilk Haze, which was used with the Rowan Felted Tweed DK in the original pattern (surprising since my stash of this particular yarn is not insignificant,) but Fyberspates Faery wings. I had a skein of the Faery wings in a bronze and gold, which played well with the orange-y flecks in the tweed yarn.

Of course I couldn’t just let the pattern alone. I also decided to change the construction of the sweater pretty significantly, while keeping all the major design elements:

  1. knit the sweater in the round with a steek and cut that (more on that in a second);
  2. modified the sleeves to shape it a lot more than called for in the pattern;
  3. changed the yoke from straight raglan to a compound raglan, taking advantage of the class about top down yokes that I took from Ysolda Teague at Vogue Knitting Live.

IMG_8727This was the first time I used the crochet hook to stabilize the steek stitches before I cut it. I usually drag out my sewing machine, zig zagging my stitches down to make sure no rogue ply makes a run for the money. Because it was the first time I was going to use this method, I knit a big margin of error (steek of 7 stitches. That’s pretty big). Of course, a smarter knitter would have tried the technique on a swatch before trying it for the first time on a garment she spent many hours knitting, but I like to live on the edge. With Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen’s Two Color Knitting book by my side, I crocheted up and down the center of my HUGE steek and cut. Meanwhile, I was also looking at this handy dandy web tutorial by Kate Davies as well….the big difference being that Meg and Amy uses a chain stitch to stabilize the steek stiches and Kate uses a single crochet to stabilize the stitches.

IMG_8730Well? I ended up doing both. I stabilized the first steek using the chain stitch. “First?” you ask. The particular side of me took over. I used a red sock yarn for the first steek. There was nothing major wrong with it, except that the stitches were in RED and that the steek stitches folded over was a bit bulky. So — I single crotched my way up and down a lot closer to the edge of the garment, this time using orange silk lace yarn, and recut. And voila. I have to say I am sold on the crotched steek!!

As for the compound raglan, I have to say that I am a fan. It maintains the look of the raglan, which I love, with a more tailored fit in the underarm, for me. It has helped to create a very work-worthy cardigan (let’s face it, I spend more time wearing work clothes than casual clothes!)

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I decided that I needed to check something off my bucket list. Madrona Fiber Arts Festival.

Luckily for me, I could visit with someone and enjoy the atmosphere as well. So I showed up and sat around in this booth for a bit. Aren’t these mugs awesome? They sold out of course.

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Unfortunately for me, we were a bit too close to Carolina Homespun‘s booth. I’m not exactly sure what happened here….I must have mouthed off about how I was “NEVER” going to spin. I should not have said that within earshot of Morgaine. Because within the day, I was doing this:

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Then this….because this was prettier:

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And it is resulting in me checking a box on the plane, home bound.

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Whoa.  Moral of the story. Don’t say never. Especially in front of a great teacher.

One of my favorite things to do is to snow shoe hike with the dogs. And, thanks to Storm Nemo, we got a nice dump of sugary, powdery snow. While the ~8-10″ we got in NYC is almost all gone, our favorite hiking haunts are still full of the fluffy stuff.

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The air was crisp, it was sunny, and the snow was still fluffy. Lest you think that snow shoeing is some sort of a meditative activity for me, let me just share a few photos to give you a sense of what it is like to have a couple of BCs attached to you while you are slogging up and down powering through snow covered hills.

The old dog, Finn, is all about business. He picks a well packed down path, and goes about his business….Finding the Trail and Going Forward. He’s a good boy.

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When it was just me and Finn, we would go miles and miles, listening to the wind, and snow falling from trees, and following various paths.

You notice that the photo of Finn above makes it look like just he and I are on a walk together. It’s curious that not even a hint of Lucy is in the frame.

It’s because Lucy is a total yahoo on the line. Honestly, there is no way to describe what she is like in snow — only photos will do justice. She is nowhere near straight, nowhere near the most packed down part of the trail, and nowhere near Finn.  One thing for sure, though. My serene time with nature is not so serene….but filled with laughter instead. How can I not?

Oh, and check out the very last photo. Lucy got to see something very special today.

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