29 January, 2012

It's been a tiring weekend, good, but wearisome.  We took it upon ourselves to tackle some home improvement projects.  Caulking, cleaning, rearranging and building shelves and things.  The building has been fun/frustrating as it usually is.  The post on those projects will have to wait until 1.) they're finished and 2.) I come back from CA.  I'll be leaving for my sister's home in Southern California on Tuesday and coming back on February 9th which just so happens to be my birthday AND the day our friend from Virginia comes into town.  It's going to be a good couple of weeks.

 For now I wanted to share what has been sustaining us through our hard work, Tofu Reubens and homemade Potato Corn Chowder.  We ate this combo for dinner last night and we liked it so much we had it again for lunch today.  Easy to make and O so delicious.  The makeshift table made from boxes did not detract from the tastiness.


Another happening almost as exciting as lunch is after rearranging we found an open corner for me to use for crafting!  Until now the couch and the floor have been the location of my creativity so I'm pretty stoked.

Our house is TINY and this little corner means my things will become more accessible and less packed away.  So far it only has a table, a shelf, and the space is shared with the dehumidifier but the gears in my head are turning and I'm sure I can overcome the obstacle of size and find a place for all my supplies. I think this quote found on a wall at Ikea sums up my feelings (we liked it so much we took a picture).  Cheers to creative challenges!

27 January, 2012

Conquering Cables

I've been crocheting for forever but only started knitting about 3 years ago.  When I first started I made a simple netbook cover, a hat and a basket weave tea cozy, then I put down the needles swearing I would never knit again.  It was awkward and I already had mad crochet skills.  6 months later I gave it another try, something clicked and knitting no longer felt so foreign.  Now I usually have at least 1 knitting and crochet project going at once.  It really frustrates me when people are elitist about one or the other.  I feel that each has their strengths and weaknesses, it all depends on the project.

One place where I feel knitting is superior is cables.  You can make cables with crochet but it's not quite as smooth and aesthetic.  The main reason I even learned to knit was to enter the world of beautiful cables.  In my mind cabling was limited to those who have mastered the art of knitting and that I would need more knitting under my belt to even try.  Well, this fall cables came crashing down from their pedestal because when I actually looked at how a simple 3/3 cable is done I felt almost cheated.  "Why, this isn't hard at all!"  And I proceeded to teach it to my sister whose knitting was limited to the purl and knit stitch.  I'm sure cabling becomes more complicated when you get into different types but seriously, I don't know why I syked myself out of trying them earlier.

The first project I made cabling was a pair of mittens.  I looked around but didn't find quite the right pattern so I just made one up.  Granted I have never made any sort of gloves but I just went ahead and did it.  They turned out beautifully!  Red and gorgeous with detailed cables all around.  I gave them to my mother for Christmas and neglected to take any pictures. BLURG!

But THEN I made a pair for myself!  Actually I made a pair of finger-less gloves for myself leaving them open and adding ribbing to the end.  Not quite as classic as the mittens but I support finger freedom.

Seattle's skies were blue today! (and I'm pretty happy with my gloves too)
palm shot
in action

Now I'm working on the scarf  below for Aaron (can you tell from this post that we both like green?)  We found a free pattern he liked HERE on Ravelry.  It uses the same simple 3/3 cable that I used for my gloves.  I might make this weave scarf for myself next, a new, different, and beautiful type of cable to learn.

The start of Aaron's Mr. O'Leary's scarf 

21 January, 2012

Sprout It Out

Rarely do we come across things that are as easy as they sound.  Growing your own sprouts is one of those things.  Plus they're cheap and fun to grow as well as nutritious to eat!  Sprouts are packed with digestible vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins and fiber.

My sprouting is pretty basic, I like having alfalfa sprouts around for sandwiches, salads, and burgers but there are many other types and uses I haven't explored such as grain-sprouted bread or jumbo mung beans for stir fry.  Oh the joys of sprouting the future holds!

Like all raw foods sprouts can suffer from contamination.  Leafy greens, eggs, peanut butter and even ice cream are recalled for this reason.  Growing your own sprouts at home with certified organic seeds is safer than commercial sprouts.  Just another reason to DIY.

Let's get started with materials.

I sprout with the Sprout-Ease Toppers, I bought them a few years back at my local natural food store but you can pick them up here at MotherNature.com for $3.30.  If you don't dig plastic I found these stainless steel sprout toppers from The Sprout People for $10. The great thing about both of these toppers is they fit right on a wide mouth mason jar and there are 3 different sieve sizes that can be used for different seeds and different stages of the process.  You can also use them to sprout 3 jars at a time but that depends on your sprout consumption.  If you're feeling ambitious and not as lazy as me you can make your own using wire mesh and canning rings.

Next you'll need a wide mouth mason jar.  If you don't already have some around the house try the thrift store or borrow one from a friend so you won't have to buy a whole case.  I use the pint size but a quart jar will work just fine.

Finally you need seeds.  I picked mine up at the same natural food store I got the toppers but you can purchase them online if you can't find a provider nearby.  It's recommended to use certified organic seeds and I suggest starting out with alfalfa since they're versatile in their uses.

Now here's how you do it.

1.) Add the seeds.  In my very un-exact-but-works-for-me way I add enough seeds to just cover the bottom of the jar.  If you like to measure 1-2 T should do the trick.

2.) Clean your seeds.  Use the smallest sieved topper and rinse the seeds until the water runs clear.  Not everyone does this but I think it follows the BMPs of sprouting.  Why the jar in my picture has no top on yet?  I don't know, I am the queen of procrastination.

3.)  Soak seeds for 3-4 hours.  Here the seeds are soaking up water so they can begin germination.  This time isn't exact.  If I start my sprouts in the morning I drain them after lunch and if I start them in the afternoon I drain them after dinner.  Pretty precise right? Also larger seeds such as lentils or mung beans will require 6-8 hours.

4.)  Rinse 2-3 times a day. This only takes a minute and you do it in passing. Rinsing provides the sprouts with water and keeps them clean and sanitary.  When I first started sprouting I was so excited and rinsed whenever I entered the kitchen.  Now I just do it in the morning and at night.  Store the jar upside down at an angle in between rinsing so the sprouts are not in standing water and well ventilated.  The soaking process in step 3 is the only time your jar should be right side up until completion.  Mine typically chill on our kitchen counter propped against something.

5.)  Enjoy watching them grow!  I love watching plants grow and sprouts are no exception.  It happens so fast that they provide almost instant gratification.  The sprouts you have at night are noticeably bigger than the sprouts you had that morning.

6.)  Rinse out the hulls.  When you notice the sprouts shedding their hulls switch out the top to the next sieve size or even the largest if the sprouts don't fall through.  For me this happens around day 3.  Rinse and swirl and get as many hulls out as you can.  Do this every time you rinse from here on.  Just get what you can, you won't get them all and they're not harmful so don't stress to much about it.  

7.)  Give them some sun.  A day or 2 before completion put them in a sunny spot to let the chlorophyll develop.  Alfalfa sprouts take 4-5 days so do this around day 3 or 4.

8.)  Enjoy!  It's time to eat them when you say it's time.  Different amounts of time and sun exposure yield differences in flavor and crunch in your sprouts so experiment to find what you like best!  Store in the fridge with the smallest sieved topper or transfer to another container.  The cold will stop the growth and keep them fresh.  Give them a rinse before eating to freshen them up even more.

13 January, 2012

Sweet (Luminous) Clementine

When I saw this post on the blog Apartment Therapy showing how to make a candle with only clementines and olive oil I knew had to try it.  So Monday I grabbed a box of Cuties and remembered how much I LOVE clementines.  The box in question contained super-sweet bright orange orbs of deliciousness and I have been averaging about 5 a day.  My vitamin C quota has been met and I recovered some candles from the wreckage.  The candles work out really well and they even look pretty good without the tops so you could get 2 candles from one clementine.

Topless clementine candle. Oh my!

While taking pictures I wound up playing with the 'fireworks' mode on my camera. Moving the camera rather than the light source proved to be more difficult than expected but I managed.  I strung the pictures together and this is what I got. Just some silly fun for a silly girl.

Talk of clementines makes me want to watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  I think I'll have to dye my hair and light some clementine candles for a themed movie night.  If you haven't seen it, watch it.  If you have seen it, it's probably been a while and you should most certainly re-watch it.  Don't forget to note the brilliant use of Clementine's hair as an indicator for the timeline.  And if you're already a fan check out this Clementine paper doll print on Etsy. (The seller also has an Edie Beale doll, how incredibly cool.)

The Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine's Clementine Kruczynski) paper doll 18x12 inches print

11 January, 2012

From the Road

Last minute my two-man-fam and I decided to drive down to Colorado to spend the holidays with my parents as well as 1 of my 4 sisters and her brood of 3.  I have found, as most people probably find, that when traveling my priorities and habits drastically change.  When we were driving cross country, down in California, or most recently in Colorado I spent very little time on the web.  Hence I forget about every blog I follow as well as my own.  For that I am sorry (but not too sorry)

This trip we passed through some truly beautiful places both on purpose and by accident.  Maybe it was the shrinking distance to home that prompted thoughts of my little corner of the internet but I decided to post some pictures of our recent drives.  No crafting, or cooking, or other such interesting things, just a small homage to the beauty and intrigue of the world even from a not so beautiful highway. Thank you Ike for the Interstate Highway System  which has been my companion for over 10,000 miles this year.

Northeast Oregon
Coastal California
Redwood National Forest, Northern California

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
Tetons, Wyoming 
The Craters of the Moon, Idaho
Coming across Lake Union to Seattle, Washington.  Almost home.