Saturday, March 28, 2009

An algae green cowl - sounds gross, looks great!

Another lovely quick project! I really enjoy doing small pieces like cowls - this one is called The Darkside Cowl, its by Sarah Fama, and I found it on Ravelry. (All roads no longer lead to Rome - they lead to Ravelry!!!) I used some pea green yarn that was given to me by a former knitter (she overdosed on scarves for Christmas gifts one year and & has sworn off knitting for a while. She very sweetly passed along her leftovers to me.) I think its acrylic, but I might be wrong. Its very stretchy, which I guess makes it good for a cowl so it will stretch over the head easily.

Anyhoo, I love this pattern - its easy to follow and things keep changing so it stays interesting. Not to mention, it makes for a lovely finished object! I think next to cables, anything that resembles basketweave is my second favorite thing to knit.

[caption id="attachment_111" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="the Darkside Cowl in algae green"]the Darkside Cowl in algae green[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_112" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="totally scrunchable!"]totally scrunchable![/caption]

And speaking of basketweave, I have started a new scarf in a gorgeous deep forest green, in alpaca.  I officially adore alpaca - this is Misti International Misti Alpaca Chunky and it is the softest yarn I have ever used. It reminds me of the satin bindings on my blanket when I was a little girl - the ones I rubbed so hard they wore out. How I loved that satin binding. There is just something terribly comforting about rubbing something soft on your cheek.  This pattern is Basketweave Scarf by Ann Budd, also available here from Knitting Daily.  I really like how the sides undulate with the basketweave, and its an easy pattern to follow.  Its good for semi-short-term knitting too, since the repeat is only 18 rows.  I think I am doing this for a friend of mine who wanted a soft scarf to wear with his topcoat, but I just might keep it for myself.  It would be a nice color for a Michigan State Spartan's fan, but he might not be so lucky!  I'd made him a cabled scarf out of some Noro wool/silk two years ago, but he thinks its too scratchy, so I started this.

[caption id="attachment_113" align="aligncenter" width="257" caption="Super Soft Alpaca Scarf"]Super Soft Alpaca Scarf[/caption]

And I learned that I really need to find a better place to photograph my projects, instead of the dining room table.  The chandelier makes huge shadows!

I also finished another berry sweet preemie hat - used the circs this time, so the main portion of the hat went super quickly. Not bothering with a photo, as I don't want to bore you to tears.  Also did one that looks like a pumpkin.  I am really enjoying the i-cord stems.  What a neat trick!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Ok, so I know that the rain is good for the earth, and that its been dry 'round these parts lately, but for the love of Pete, can't somebody make it stop?!?!?!  I woke up to the sound of rain pattering on the skylight in my bedroom this morning, took Princess Muddy Paws out for a walk at 8am (and she got so soaked, she was still wet at noon!) and it just hasn't stopped yet.  Some is a light drizzle so I shouldn't complain, but it is definitely putting a damper on shoppers here.  I haven't had a customer in the shop for over an hour - not even any one looking in the windows!  Booooo hooooo.  Ok.  Pity party is now officially over. 

On the other hand, I have finished unloading the ceramic mushrooms that arrived yesterday, gotten them all pricetagged and displayed, and they are cheering up the shop immensely!  Nothing like yellow and red and blue and green and purple and orange (you get the picture) ceramic mushrooms in all shapes and sizes to brighten a girl's day!  I don't sell them on the website, since there is such variety and I would hate to have a customer disappointed with a 'sight unseen' purchase, so you can have a glimpse of them here instead ...

[caption id="attachment_108" align="aligncenter" width="250" caption="ceramic mushrooms"]ceramic mushrooms[/caption]

As they'd say on Friends, "could they BE any cuter?"    Ceramic mushrooms add a great splash of color to your garden, especially under trees or in shady areas where it is hard to add color.  These are hand made by JJ Potts in Salt Lake City, Utah and come in five sizes.  If I were in the shop trying to buy a few, it would take me an hour to pick them out!

Monday, March 23, 2009

More Backyard Birds

My knitting has fallen by the wayside lately, as I have been working hard to get the shop updated for spring and work on the website too.  I have been enjoying the birds in my backyard though - I'm keeping the feeder full and watching who comes to visit as I have breakfast & coffee every morning.  So here's some birds to brighten your day ...


A cardinal couple continues to come and visit, and I'm pretty sure they are the same two birds.  The female seems to like the tree that doesn't have any feeders or houses, and I am wondering if she might be building a nest in there somewhere.  There was also a chickadee checking out one of my birdhouses yesterday.  I wonder how close birds are willing to have a nest to another nest.  I need to do some research on that, and luckily I have the resources at my fingertips!  I just ordered a new book by Sally Roth, called Backyard Bird Secrets for Every Season, and I am really looking forward to reading it.  I need to know, so I can recommend things to customers, right?  Wink, wink!



I do like mourning doves.  There is something very intriguing about them. 


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Beef and Veggie Kabobs Recipe

My brother-in-law is a good cook. One of my all time favorite meals is his beef kabobs with yellow rice - I could eat it for hours (or until my stomach exploded from too much rice, kind of like how they tell you the pigeons will explode after consuming too much uncooked rice that had been thrown at a bride - wonder if the MythBusters have done an episode on that?!?!?).

I make a decent replica on the grill, but I don't grill in my ski coat, so this time of year, I just cooked the beef & veggies in a grill pan on the stove.  I used my favorite BBQ sauce - Sensuous Slathering Sauce from Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse, NY.  Its an awesome place - part biker bar, awesome music and of course with BBQ to die for.  Their sauces and some refrigerated BBQ entrees are available at Wegmans grocery stores in New York state, and maybe elsewhere, and of course their own website above.  If you are ever in Syracuse, you must, MUST go.  They also usually have a concession stand at the NY State Fair, so you can taste there too!  Their creole potato salad is the best potato dish I've ever tasted.

Here goes the recipe - serves four.

Approximately one pound beef, cubed
1 green pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
16 oz. fresh mushrooms (use them whole on kabobs, or chunk them for the grill pan)
8 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes (or cut up one large beefsteak sized tomato into pieces roughly the same as the other ingredients)
one family sized package of yellow rice

For grilling kabobs - just load up your skewers, brush on BBQ sauce, and grill till the meat is cooked to your liking. Prepare the rice as directed. Using full cherry or grape tomatoes reduces the messy factor, and they don't get mushy as quickly.

For grilling on the stove - use a grill pan or large skillet, on medium heat. Start the beef first, then add the veggies after about 10 minutes. Use a pastry brush to brush on BBQ sauce.

[caption id="attachment_84" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="steamy!"]steamy![/caption]

Put the beef & veggies on a cheerful bed of yellow rice and enjoy!

[caption id="attachment_85" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="dig in!"]dig in![/caption]

Breakfast on the Patio

We had a beautiful warm spell last weekend, and I decided to celebrate by filling my birdfeeders.  There had been so much birdsong when I woke up Sunday morning that I knew it was time to bid my feathered friends welcome to my garden for the spring!  I filled my birdfeeder, hung it outside, and sat down on the patio steps with my new camera.  (Inserting shameless plug for the shop here - like my feeder?  Click on the photo to see!  We have a matching birdhouse too.)


[caption id="attachment_77" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Dragonfly Tube Feeder from Dragonfly Garden"]d[/caption]

Within minutes, there were chickadees on the tree branches, chirping away.  I had scattered some seed on the ground, in order to entice anyone flying by, and was rewarded with a cardinal couple. Mr. and Mrs. came to munch on the seeds all over the ground. Mrs. had a few, and then flew up to sit on the fence post, while Mr. continued to eat.  Then I saw him pick up a black sunflower seed, fly up to the fence post where Mrs. was sitting and chirping, and he fed it to her!  It was amazing.  I have never witnessed such a thing, and I got to see it twice.  Didn't get the camera to react quickly enough of course, but that's okay.  Here are my new friends ...


After they flew off, I had another visitor.  This one had a fluffy tail, a furtive look and was carrying a peanut.  I am really enjoying the new camera - this shot was a digital zoom from the original.  I love technology!

[caption id="attachment_79" align="aligncenter" width="510" caption="Mr Peanut"]Mr Peanut[/caption]


All in all, Katie & I had a nice morning sitting out there watching the wildlife come to our backyard.  I was tickled to see that the birds would come to the feeder, even with me sitting there, and with the dog sitting there too.  I am really hoping to have a nest built in one of my birdhouses, and maybe I can see cardinal babies later this spring.  The past few mornings, I have been watching, and have seen chickadees, sparrows, mourning doves and a male and female cardinal.  I don't know if it is the same cardinal couple, but I'm hoping it is.  The mourning doves took a splash in the birdbath yesterday - its turning into quite the social gathering place!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Instant Gratification

I recently learned about a group of knitters and crocheters on Ravelry who are making things for the Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital in Baltimore.  They are collecting hats for the preemie babies in the NICU during March and April, so I thought I'd pitch in.   Preemie baby hats only take a couple of hours, and they are too cute for words!  I finished two in the last two days for starters.

Since I had a snow day today, I thought it would be a great chance to get in some extra knitting.  Bonus!  I did a wee bit of cleaning & work for the shop too, but the knitting was the most fun.  :)

First there's the Berry Baby Hat from randomstitches ...

[caption id="attachment_63" align="aligncenter" width="448" caption="Wee Berry Hat"]Wee Berry Hat[/caption]

And then there is the Lots of Eyelets Preemie Hat from P2Designs.  Love it too! Its fun to try new patterns on such tiny pieces - I'd love to borrow this border for something else sometime.  The border is not so easy to see in this photo, but its lovely.

[caption id="attachment_64" align="aligncenter" width="448" caption="Eyelet Preemie Hat"]Eyelet Preemie Hat[/caption]


Wonderful things come in little packages, and I am hoping that these little hats will keep some little packages warm and toasty during their time at the Children's Hospital.