Blocking a Knit Scarf/ Shawlette

So! I finished my purple project, which is a sort of neck warmer/ shawlette creation that is awaiting blocking. The problem is I have a) never blocked a knit garment before (I assume it’s more or less the same as crochet?) b) never blocked something of this size before and c) actually don’t have much experience with blocking period (aside from some crocheted doilies).

I started with research and narrowed my search results down to these three:
http://knitting.about.com/od/learntoknit/a/blocking_knits.htm
http://deborahfillmer.com/2007/11/25/how-to-block-a-knitted-lace-stole-or-shawl/
http://www.fickleknitter.com/archives/2011/12/how-to-block-hand-knit-triangle-lace-shawls-a-quickie-tutorial.htm

I have learned now some of the basic blocking methods, and I think I’m going to soak, weave the edges with yarn, and pin the points. The Dearliest said he has some foam insulation board I can use as a blocking platform, so I think my last issue is going to be figuring out the pins. I have straight sewing pins, but I don’t know that they’re waterproof/ resistant and I’m concerned they may rust if the neck warmer is going to be wet 4+ hours.

Anyone have any tips on this?

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Trip food without an ice chest

Hello readers! Here I am with a query for you. I’ve been working on my food list for the road trip, and this time we’ve decided to leave the big ice chest behind. We have a smaller one we’ll be taking, so I have plans to fill it with cheeses, pre-cut fruit and veggies, and maybe a few treats like pickles and a little half & half (for the Dearliest’s coffee stops).

I have budgeted for one or two bought meals (read: fast food), but the bulk of our eating will need to be fridge-free, so I’m looking for suggestions of good road trip foods! So far I have the following:

  • granola (eaten straight or I can buy yogurt as needed to put it in)
  • nuts/ seeds (peanuts, pecans, sunflower seeds
  • crackers?
  • bagels
  • trail mix
  • dried fruit
  • peanut butter
  • apples, bananas

ETA Other possibilities:

  • popcorn
  • cookies (because, you know, cookies!)
  • tomatoes? might be too messy

 

Tostadas

During the time my husband’s family lived with us, I had the opportunity to share foods that were new to them. The first time I laid out a tostada bar, one of my sister-in-laws picked up a plate, looked over the bowls of stuff and then looked at me. “What do I do?” she asked.

And that’s when I realized not everyone has met a tostada. Allow me to introduce you, in case you are in this position! It’s like a taco salad, only different.

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Tostadas

    • 3 cups mashed or refried beans
    • 6-8 corn tortillas
    • oil for frying
    • any number of toppings including (but not limited to) grated cheese, finely chopped onions, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, olives, jalapenos, sour cream, salsa, and guacamole

1) Pour about 1/4″ of oil into a skillet and heat over medium heat. Water, when flicked off the finger into the skillet, should bubble immediately.
2) Place a tortilla in the oil, using tongs to push down air bubbles. When the tortilla starts to brown, carefully turn it over with tongs and continue frying until golden brown in color and stiff. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel and repeat the process with the remaining tortillas.
3) While tostada shells are cooking, heat the beans.
4) Place beans on tostada shells, then top with desired toppings.

Eat with your hands for a yummy but messy experience, or eat with a fork to keep things cleaner.

My Recipe for Beans
(usually I use pinto beans, but these ratios will work with any dried bean)

1 cup of dry beans = 2 cups of cooked beans

For plain beans I add 1/2 teaspoon salt per 1 cup of DRY beans.
For seasoned beans I also add the following per 1 cup of DRY beans:

  • 1 heaping teaspoon dried chili powder
  • 1 level teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

And a secret*:

  • dash of balsamic vinegar (or any other vinegar)

Soak beans overnight in water to de-gas them. Alternatively, cover beans with water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, boil for 3 minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and let sit for an hour before proceeding with cooking. I do it both ways depending on how on top of things I am. I do notice a texture difference between the methods, but I’m not sure I can articulate it.

1) Place soaked beans in a stock pot and bring to a gentle boil. Add any seasonings (except for salt). Allow to cook 3-4 hours or until the beans have softened.
2) Salt to taste.
3) Drain beans, reserving liquid, and place them in a large bowl (or return them to pot).
4) Add a dash of vinegar and start mashing with a potato masher (or use a hand mixer on the lowest setting), adding reserved bean liquid as needed to reach desired consistency.

Leftovers can be frozen.

*I really don’t know how big a “secret” vinegar in beans is, but there are a couple advantages to adding a little. One, it helps break downs the beans a little making for easier digestion and less of the, shall we say, “airy” effects. Two, cooking beans often leaves a layer of film on the pot, and if you mash up the beans in the pot, throwing in the bit of vinegar will de-glaze the pot and make for easier cleaning.

A handful of the things…

…I wish I’d said to various people during the college years. One line, one person. I left a lot of things unsaid. These are the ones I still think about on occasion.

Quit showing off your huge tattoo. It’s not cute.
I started playing piano when I was 4. You don’t need to be patronizing. I know more than you do.
Why don’t you come join us?
Please stop asking me out.
You’re my favorite lab partner because you’re quiet and smart.
I got an A because I study hard. You should try it!
I AM NOT ANOREXIC.
I appreciate you getting me out of that.
You’re trying too hard.
Please stop asking me out.
I never get tired of watching you run.
I’m not anti-social, I just pick my friends carefully.
I could help you if you’d let me.
What exactly do you mean by that?
I’m here to learn, not date or party.
Thank you for the encouragement. It made today bearable.
Please stop asking me out.
No.
Your writing is amazing and inspiring.
It’s time we went our separate ways.
I will not make you soup.
I hate this class, but it’s one of the best ones I’ve taken.
Why do you insist on annoying me?
I am going to miss you.

– – – –

I was not a very outgoing person back then. Even now I prefer to stand back and watch rather than get involved, but being married to the Dearliest has taught me (among other things) to be more direct in saying what I mean, meaning what I say, and to not be shy about standing for truth when pressed or asked. I kinda wish I’d had that level of confidence “back in the day”, but I figure gaining experience and personal growth is part of what life is all about.

The fair is a mass of people throwing cash.

It’s a gigantic people-watching playground
Where sugar is turned into hyper-ness
At the speed of the blink of an eye.

Anyway. Brief tribute to my teen years there. The fair was fun, although it’s about a tenth the size of the fair I grew up with. Someone called it a “one hour fair”, and that about sums it up. The things I entered all did well, and I’m particularly proud of my chocolate cake, which unexpectedly took two special awards! I will share the recipe here at some point. 😀

Fall weather hit us this last week, and seeing all the changing leaves in town inspired me to crochet some fall things. Autumn has never been a favorite season, I suspect because the colors associated with it aren’t typically ones I find attractive (I’m more of a winter/ spring person). I do enjoy seeing the trees full of color, though, which is why I made these!
IMG_8599

I started with a pattern out of a vintage book. The leaf was part of a larger motif, but it seemed an easy place to start since I’ve never done leaves before. After doing a few of them I modified the pattern a little to add the stem, and I have ideas on how to make “fatter” leaves. Also, I want to try to recreate oak and maple leaves, but I haven’t even started looking yet.

For kicks I also made some in green:

IMG_8604

Both are available in the shop. I will also take this moment to say I’m running a special through the end of the month, and on top of that I’ve created a special coupon code for Creative Wending readers! It can be found in the Fogwood Creations tab in the top bar (next to the About tab).

A little humor to start off the Sunday

Kids are sometimes like cats. In this case, a box becomes the best thing ever. I gave the kids a larger box a few days ago, and it has provided hours of entertainment for them. This morning the Dearliest found them playing prisoner or somesuch, wherein Pokado was in the box and LK announced “You have to stay in there for five minutes. If you try to come out I will shoot you!” (I will take this moment to say that shooting-people games are not generally allowed, but sometimes it just happens.)

Pokado stayed in the box until she was released, and then it was LK’s turn to be the prisoner.
“You have to stay in there for five minutes,” Pokado began, “Or I will–”
“Shoot me?” LK interjected.
“No,” Pokado returned dramatically, “I will tape the box shut!”
“No, Pokado! No! You don’t have any tape.”
“I could get some.”
“No Pokado, no. You’re not allowed to play with the tape.”
“I know where the tape is.”
“If I hear tape I am getting out of this box!”
“Oh, okay, well you go back in for five minutes.”
“No tape!”

And that’s about the extent of it.

I love my kids.

Potatoes, Onions, and Zucchini!

We’ve been eating a lot of these, and we’ll likely be eating a lot of them for a while yet. I’ve been working on ways to consume large amounts in one meal, and so far I have three “mainstay” recipes that 1) use lots of the three ingredients and 2) everyone in the family likes (or will eat without too much complaining in the case of the picky eater).

Garden Soup

1-2 Tablespoons butter or oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
5 large potatoes, chopped (enough to fill the pot about half full)
1 large zucchini, grated
1-2 Tablespoons dried parsley
salt to taste
2 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
2 cups half and half

1) Heat butter/ oil in a 4 quart stock pot over medium heat. Throw in the onion and carrots. Cover and let cook (stirring occasionally) for 7 minutes or until onions have softened.
2) Add potatoes, parsley, and chicken broth. Cover and cook (stirring occasionally) for another 15 minutes or until potatoes have softened.
3) Add zucchini and water. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
4) Add half and half. Salt to taste.

It’s really good served with fresh bread and butter. 😀

Notes: Milk can be used instead of half and half. You can also mess around with the water/ half and half ratio. The more half and half you use, the richer the soup. Once I had leftover chicken and threw that in. Once I had leftover rice and threw that in. It’s an easy soup to change up.

Garden Casserole
(It’s like lasagna without the noodles. Or ricotta cheese.)

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
5-6 large potatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 quart of spaghetti sauce
1-2 cups cheese, shredded

1) Pre-heat oven to 425° F.
2) In a large bowl combine all ingredients except for the sauce and cheese.
3) Ladle a little bit of sauce the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Spread potato mixture evenly in baking dish. Cover with remaining sauce.
4) Cover dish with foil and bake until potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork (around 45 minutes).
5) Take off foil, sprinkle cheese on top, and bake uncovered another 15 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly.
6) Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Notes: The first time I baked this at 350° and it was nearly 2 hours before the potatoes were soft. I haven’t yet baked it at the higher temperature. The suggestion is based on other casseroles I’ve made and how they behaved in the oven. If the casserole is cooking dry, add a little water or chicken broth. If there’s still a lot of liquid after the potatoes have softened up, cook uncovered for a little bit before adding the cheese.

Potato Pancakes (Click for recipe.)

Just substitute up to half the potatoes for zucchini!