Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Birthday Fun

 I knit a little friend for two of my bunnies that have been hanging out on my bookcase lately. I did my typical mixing of patterns. I used Julie's pattern for egg cozies for the head and a variation of  Barabara Prime's Well Dressed Bunny pattern for everything else. My main changes involve using double-pointed needles. I knit the body in the round and part of the legs in the round. I actually had planned on giving this bunny to my nephew and his wife's new baby, but he doesn't seem quite "baby" enough. I haven't usually kept the bunnies that I've knit, but now I have three. Mmmmm. starting to feel a little eccentric having toy bunnies everywhere.
I turned forty-nine on Saturday. Since the forecast was for temperatures in the nigh nineties, Russ and I decided that the beach was the best place for us to celebrate. We have our favorite haunts that never fail to make us happy, but since it was my day, I chose for us to visit someplace new.
I had lots of time to work on "blue bunny" on our trip.  I decided that we would go to Jalama Beach, mainly to try their "World Famous Jalama Burgers, which several of my friends have raved about recently. My verdict is that they are good--really good, but I still place Main Street Grill's ABC Burger in Cambria in first place, followed by the cheeseburgers at No Brand Burger Stand in Ferndale as a close second. I'm not even a burger fan normally, but when I have one, I want it to be exceptional. I wasn't disappointed on Saturday. 

I had a very special rest of my day too with a stop at La Purisma Mission on our way home, and a dinner of Salmon tacos with chocolate mousse, specially prepared by Russ in the evening. I didn't have any presents to open because I had taken care of buying my own gift ahead of time. I bought this set of  Johnson Brothers Rose Chintz China at an antique store in Lincoln, Nebraska last month. They're from  my parents and my mother-in-law. I was pretty sure I'd be getting money from them when my birthday came, and the set cost exactly what they usually give me together, sooooo I bought them.

My house isn't verry "fu-fu," but I do like floral patterns, obviously. The pic above is a shot of the pattern of my curtains in the dining room.  Yeah, my curtains match my new dishes!

Paige is visiting a friend in  San Francisco this week, but she texted me right after she left a couple of days before my birthday to tell me that I had a surprise on her desk in her room. I promptly went in her room and opened it--floral pruners. Yep, she knows me!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Loving Kate!

I have probably never mentioned here that I like going to my dentist. I have only had one cavity in my life, but I still see him more than the suggested two times a year for a checkup and cleaning because I have Invisalign "braces," which require monthly check ups. I didn't have particularly crooked teeth, what with having worn braces when I was a teenager and then again in my thirties. I must admit to a bit of a "straight teeth obsession," and when our insurance starting covering braces a few years ago, I thought I'd achieve straight teeth perfection since my teeth had settled back a little over the years.

I like my dentist because he's a nice guy, but more importantly, he has an awesome selection of magazines in his waiting room. I do not generally read magazines, especially pop culture ones, but I can never resist leafing through People magazine during my almost always brief wait. Last week, I picked up the latest issue of People and saw a picture of Kate Middleton pushing a shopping cart, wearing a beautiful green shawl.
A quick internet search when I arrived home informed me that I'm way behind the times. Knitters on the web went crazy over those "Kate" pictures last May when she was seen in that shawl. I never wear shawls, but I'm knitting this one, and maybe when I put it on, I will instantly lose forty pounds and will appear twenty years younger. I will be a blond Kate Middleton.After joining the Kate Middleton shawl Ravelry group,  and perusing several "Kate" shawl patterns, I have decided that I will knit the Milk Run Shawl by Cat Wong, and not just because her pattern was free. I really think it looks the closest to the "real" $300 shawl Kate was wearing, and, besides, I love the name.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Good Cookies

The weather's been almost cool, so I've been baking! Last year, my sister-in-law and nephew came out for a wonderful Spring-Break visit. We spent a lot of time at the beach, of course, and one of our discoveries was the Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos. Their Brown Butter Seal Salt cookies were so good that we repeatedly shelled out a dollar for about two bites of salty-sweet deliciousness. I immediately went on a quest when I got home to find a similar recipe, which I did and had some success with. I was never completely happy though. The dough was a little dry, and they just didn't taste like the originals. A few weeks back, I did a little search again and found a new recipe from Yummy Mummy. I will buy cookies from Brown Butter Cookie Company again, but I really don't have to.

The weather here in Central California really has been wonderful for the last week or so, but still not wool-sock-knitting weather. I still finished my Friday Harbor Socks after my perfunctory re-knitting of the toes about three times since I forget once again to record my alteration of the original pattern. I shouldn't even post that admission since I seem to do it every time I knit socks, and it's getting kind of pitiful. I've resolved that next time I knit some socks, I'll keep a little notebook nearby to record those little changes that I never ever remember once I get to the second sock.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

It's Hot!

There is nothing that inhibits my creativity more than the heat. I don't mean 90 degrees with low humidity, which is sometimes possible during the summer where I live in Central California. We were gone for the last half of June, and that was basically the kind of weather that they had while we were gone, but the day after we got home from vacation, the temperatures starting climbing. I'm talking about stifling heat. For the last week, it's been well into  the 100s. To add to my discontent, I've been doing my two-week stint of high school summer school from 7:00 A.M. until 1:00 everyday. It's not a bad gig at all, and the kids are cute, for the most part, but it's still work. I'm  dreading the upcoming week even more because I'll teach the last three weeks of the college class I split with my friend, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday too. Whine, whine, whine! It won't be that bad. Still, I much prefer having absolutely nothing to do!

I have manged to muster enough energy in the afternoons, after a two-hour nap each day, of course, to work on some socks that I started while we were in Nebraska. I've knit these socks before. They're Friday Harbor Socks from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road.
The pattern is pretty easy although I do remember having had a little trouble with the top part of the socks the last time I knit them. When I got on Ravelry, I found that other people had had a little trouble too. There a link to the errata for it at Interweave Press, which people rightfully complained was nothing more than a highlighted version of the original pattern. Basically, the problem is that the chart  doesn't reflect the changes at the beginning of the rows because of the yarn overs. It's still very doable, but you have to be careful.

Another thing that bums me out about heat waves is that I can't bake bread or anything else really. The house just heats up too much. I can cook on the stove though. We're very happy to have found a nice, little farmer's market in Bakersfield with tons of produce. It's not the coast, but it's also only 30 minutes away instead of two hours! Last week we bought some wonderful vegetables, including a nice head of cauliflower, which I promptly turned into "Chilled Marinated Cauliflower," a recipe from my favorite, old, ratty Enchanted Broccoli Forest, cookbook. Everyone devours this as soon as it's finished, but I'll bet it would be even better after a day or so.

Chilled Marinated Cauliflower

Add together:

3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
2  cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 medium cauliflower, broken into bite-sized flowettes

Bring these ingredients to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 15 minutes (until cauliflower is tender) Transfer to a serving bowl and chill.

Just before serving add:

1/2 cup onion, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced (I sometimes use basil or cilantro.)
2-3 basil leaves, minced
1 carrot, coursely-grated

It got really hot--108-- right after we left Nebraska last month, so I won't wish that we could have extended our visit there, but I can't help thinking about the nice, cool weather we had, with lots of rain..too much rain for many areas. Paige and I went for a run at Holmes Lake Park in Lincoln the night before we left, and she couldn't resist wading out to sit on a bench in one of many flooded areas of the lake. Oh well, I'm sure we'll get rain here by....November!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Back From Nebraska...

Besides visiting (very quickly, in some cases) Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, The Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone, not to mention a wonderful, old farmhouse in Crawford, Nebraska, I did do a little knitting during the last two and a half weeks. I finished my Cuddle-Up Cushion, cover and even though I'm still not sold on Rowan tweed, I like my finished product.
Since we hadn't driven to Nebraska for our yearly trip to visit family there for at least eight years, we decided to make a real vacation of it.  (Did that previous sentence makes sense. We usually fly to Nebraska, ha, ha.) We stopped at Bryce Canyon the last time we drove and actually did some hiking around, but this time we only looked down into the canyon from some lookouts.
We spent the second night of our trip at the Hatchet Resort in Moran, Wyoming.  which is awesome. We could see the Grand Tetons right out our cabin door, so the setting was beautiful; plus,  the little restaurant was great, and the hot tub was right out our cabin door.
Paige thought about sleeping up in this little loft in our cabin but decided against it ultimately. I was glad since it seems like a long way to accidentally roll over and fall off of.

Not sure exactly what Kai is doing here, but I like this picture. Russ and Kai didn't take along sweatshirts, so we bought them some at Yellowstone. It was really cold! In fact, we drove through an avalanche zone on our way out the West Entrance.

We ended the first phase of our long drive in Crawford, Nebraska, where my wonderful sister-in-law had rented us a house, a hundred-year old farmhouse, to be exact. It was remodeled inside, which was nice, but the outside was incredible; a koi pond, beautiful flower beds, birdhouses, two friendly cats, and tons of comfortable seating. My sister-in-law is batting 1000 as far as planning mini-vacations for us. She's done it for us innumerable times, and ever time we have an incredible time. 
We packed a lot into our week in Lincoln and Omaha too. One of the highlights was a couple of visits with my sister and her family. My sister has five kids, but the two older ones aren't in this picture, not that Kai wouldn't have been game for them to try to get a piggy back ride too.