Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last Round of Cupcakes in 2011

I baked way too many cupcakes during the month of December and am totally over it for a little while. The last batches are pictured below. Sorry, no recipes today because it is New Year's Eve and we are in the midst of cooking and cleaning! Peace out 2011, and see you all in 2012.


Red velvet with cream cheese frosting.



Mini dark chocolate cupcakes filled with salted caramel and topped with a dark chocolate frosting.



Dark chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Missing My Friend


One year has gone by, and I am still without words. I do know that I always miss you, Leo. Best of all, I remember your inquisitive self, how impressed I was when you wrote your name on a notepad (which I still have), and I loved watching you think when we peppered you with questions. Thank you for being one of my best memories of the Bay Area.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What 2011 Taught Me


At the end of every year there are always a multitude of best and worst lists. This is not one of those. Instead, this is a list of what I learned in 2011 because Life decided this should be a year of lessons.
  • If given nine days, I can pack up my life in cardboard boxes and move out. An amazing feat if you have ever been witness to how much stuff I have in my possession.
  • I had to eat almost the whole plate of humble pie, but I can ask my friends and family for help in a sticky situation. Even better to know? I did not really have to ask because they all offered their assistance immediately.
  • For some reason (which I don't quite get) my friends are willing to let me come and stay with them for weeks/months at a time. They are so flipping awesome I always wonder how I got to be so lucky to have these people in my life.
  • Sometimes you just want to be numb.
  • It is possible to fake it 'till you make it.
  • Letting go of control was so, so hard to do, but it was pretty amazing to see the chips fall where they may.
  • I finally get the owning-a-pet-thing. It is nice to know that there is a dog out there who loves you so much that he leaves you surprise piles of poop just to show you how mad he is that you are leaving for China.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Two Baby Blankets - Divided Squares Pattern

Both of these blankets were knitted using a pattern called divided boxes. Unfortunately, I do not remember where I found the pattern. It is an easy pattern to follow.

The pattern is done in multiples of five stitches, and I add on additional stitches for the border. I like to make my border in seed stitch. Here is the pattern itself:

Row 1: (Right side) Knit across
Row 2: (K1, P4) across
Rows 3 and 4: (K3, P2) across
Row 5: (K1, P4) across
Rows 6 and 7: Knit across
Repeat Rows 2-7 for pattern


This one was done using a single strand of Bernat Softee Baby in Funny Prints.


This blanket is for one of the two little girls born to my friends this November (there were actually four babies born in November for whom I need blankets). I used two strands of yarn, one is Bernat Softee Baby in Baby Pink Marl, and the other is Red Heart Hunny Yarn in Pink Blush. Two strands are used because the Red Heart yarn is not very stretchy, and I do not care for how it lies on its own. As the Hunny yarn has been discontinued, this is the last of my stash, so lucky Baby A.

I think I have already talked about why I use Softee Baby so much, but in case I have not, it is because the yarn can be washed and dried.

Oh, and if you are wondering about the photo in the background of the picture featuring the pink blanket–it is of the Golden Gate Bridge, and was taken by my sister, Mindy, of Mindy Metivier Photography.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Banana Cupcakes and Honey Cupcakes


When I made the dark chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting, the peanut butter frosting was well-received and a couple of people asked me what other cupcakes might go well with the frosting. I thought about it, and finally settled on a honey cupcake and a banana cupcake. Full disclosure, I love peanut butter toast with honey, and I usually only like bananas with peanut butter.

Today was someone's birthday at work, and since I signed up to make cupcakes, this was the perfect time to experiment. This person at work also happens to be one of the people who really enjoyed the peanut butter frosting.

The honey cupcake recipe came from the Half Baked - The Cake Blog, and the banana cupcake is from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book. I used the ATK peanut butter frosting recipe. However, since I was worried about the banana cupcakes with the peanut butter recipe, I also made Martha's honey and cinnamon frosting.

They turned out pretty good, and everyone at worked really liked them. Phew! It was quite a long afternoon in the kitchen, and I was very worried about how they would be received.


Roasted Banana Cupcakes With Honey and Cinnamon Frosting
From Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
Makes 16 cupcakes

Ingredients
3 ripe bananas, plus 1 to 2 more for garnish
2 cups cake flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Place 3 whole, unpeeled banans on a baking sheet and roast 15 minutes (the peels get dark). Sift together cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Remove bananas from oven and let cools before peeling. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

With an electric mixture on medium-high, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs yolks, one at a time, beating until each incorporated. Add roasted bananas, and beat to combine. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of sour cream, and beating until just combined after each. Beat in vanilla.

In another mixing bowl, with electric mixer on medium, whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Fold one-third whites into batter to lighten, and gently fold in remaining egg whites in two batches.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool.

Honey-Cinnamon Frosting
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

With electric mixer on medium, beat all ingredients until smooth. Use immediately, or refrigerate up to five days in airtight container.



Honey Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
From Lauren Kapeluck on the Half Baked - The Cake Blog
Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients
1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

Combine buttermilk, honey, and vanilla.

Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer.

Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well.

Add wet and dry ingredients, starting and ending with dry ingredients.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes. Let cupcakes cool for five minutes before removing from tins and placing them on a wire rack to cool.

Peanut Butter Frosting
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 sticks, unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup creamy butter (not old-fashioned or natural)

Stir the cream, vanilla, and salt together until the salt dissolves. Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium-high until smooth, about 30 to 60 seconds. Reduce the speed to medium-low, slowly add the confectioner's sugar, and beat until smooth, two to five minutes. Beat in the cream mixture. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about four to eight minutes. Beat one cup creamy peanut butter.

Friday, November 11, 2011

P Eleven

The Eleventh PlagueThe Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In October I attended a This is Teen event because author Maggie Stiefvater was going to be there. Two other authors also participated, and one of them was Jeff Hirsch, author of The Eleventh Plague. Honestly, I decided to read it because The Hunger Games author, Suzanne Collins is quoted on the book jacket as saying, "The Eleventh Plague hits disturbingly close to home...An excellent, taut debut novel."

If you've read The Hungers Games then you know that Collins is no-joke when it comes to the harsh realities of what our world would be like if it was destroyed by disasters of nature and mankind. Based upon my experience with her books, I felt like Hirsch's book would be worth a try. It turns out, Collins was right. While Hirsch's world isn't as disturbing (no televised fights to the death between children), you will find yourself in an America you recognize.

This time, the US has been decimated by a deadly sickness known as "the Eleventh Plague," and the country is a barren wasteland. Following the plague, was "the Collapse" when the government, businesses, hospitals, and the military fell. Our protagonist is a 15-year-old boy, Stephen, who was born after the Collapse. He and his father have just buried Stephen's grandfather, and they are faced with a choice. Stephen's grandfather ran their trio strictly, and the family kept on the move. Others were not to be trusted, and everything was done with one purpose in mind—survival. Eventually, Stephen finds himself in charge of their destiny; and now is when you should go to a library or bookstore and pick this one up.

For those concerned about exposing young readers to graphic elements, I say don't worry. This is far less violent than The Hunger Games series. What amazed me the most was the way this made me think about human nature and the things we regress to and cling to in dire times. I also loved the imagery Hirsch conjured for me with two of my favorite lines from The Eleventh Plague:

"There was nothing at his back but thirty feet of open air and, beyond that, the bared fangs of a raging river."

"I dug my thumbnail into the soft wood at the edges of the table and wondered if it was true, if she really would come back or if there would be a time when that rubber band stretched as far as it could and would snap, releasing her into the world, never to return."

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Minestrone Soup in the Slow Cooker


Yes, I love my slow cooker. The only problem is that it makes so much food. Well, it's a problem for me, but not for my co-workers (who sometimes get a container full).

Since it's getting chilly in Southern California, this is a good time of year to bring the slow cooker out and make one of my go-to meals. This time I made minestrone soup. The recipe was blended from a couple of different sources (which I can't accurately recall) years ago.

Ingredients
3 1/2 cup beef broth
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 medium carrots
2 zucchini
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 medium potatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
16 ounce red kidney beans, drained
2 tablespoons parsley flakes
3 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 bay leaf
Optional: 2 oz. pasta

Direction
Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 10 to 16 hours (cook time depends on how large or small the vegetables are chopped). If you wish to add pasta, place it in the slow cooker during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Remove the bay leaf before serving. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

My Notes
I use two cans of beef broth, which is about four cups. This makes a very thick and hearty soup, so the extra half ounce of broth doesn't hurt. Because spices tend to lose their flavor in a slow cooking process I add more of the dried spices towards the end of cook time. If I use low-sodium broth, I add salt as well. Yes, it defeats the purpose.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In Case Anyone Needs a Movie Recommendation

From the looks of it, a large portion of the general public drank the Netflix haterade, including myself; but I simply modified my subscription. I downsized to one movie at a time (plus streaming), and lately the ones arriving in my mailbox have been pretty good. Specifically, Flipped and Beats, Rhymes, & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest—two very different movies.


Flipped is for anyone who wants something light-hearted. It is about a young boy named Bryce and a young girl named Juli. They first meet when Bryce's family moves into the neighborhood, and for Juli, it is love at first sight. Not so for Bryce. The movie takes place in the late 50s/early 60s, so there is a certain innocence to the entire story. I rarely watch movies for artistry behind the filmmaking (although I can appreciate beautiful cinematography), so I can't comment on this as a film. That being said, I loved it! I enjoyed this so much, the book it was based on (also of the same title) is next on my reading list.


The other movie I thoroughly enjoyed was Michael Rapaport's documentary, Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest. It follows the hip-hop group, a Tribe Called Quest during their 2008 reunion tour. I have to admit, I did not really know much about the group, other than songs like Left My Wallet in El Segundo and albums like Midnight Marauders, but this sounded interesting. Michael Rapaport did not disappoint! It felt like a very honest look at the group, without too much Hollywood-sensationalism. Then there was the music! Like or love hip-hop, put this in your queue, because it is a history worth learning.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Barbecue Chicken in the Slow Cooker

If I've already posted about this, my apologies. This is an easy recipe for barbecue chicken in the slow cooker, and I always get compliments when I make it. If you're wondering why there's no photo, it's because I don't think my camera skills do the dish any justice.

The recipe comes from allrecipes.com, and it is super easy.

Ingredients
6 frozen, skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 12-oz. bottle of barbecue sauce
1/2 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Directions
Place the chicken in a slow cooker. Combine the barbecue sauce, Italian dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce, and pour over the chicken. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, or on low for 6 to 8.

My Notes
  • Most of the barbecue sauce I like comes in an 18 ounce size, and I use the entire bottle. I tend to use Stubb's Original barbecue sauce or the Kansas City barbecue sauce at Trader Joe's.

  • I use Newman's Own Family Recipe Italian dressing.

  • I have used both frozen and fresh chicken breasts. My cook time for the frozen ones was about 3.5 hours on high, and I cooked the fresh chicken for 5 hours on low.

  • At the end of the cooking process, the sauce becomes pretty watery, so I shred the chicken and put it back in the sauce. I don't think using only 12 oz. of barbecue sauce will cut down on the watery-ness. Plus, you might also not have enough sauce at the end if you shred the chicken because a lot of the liquid is soaked up by the chicken.

  • Normally, like to serve this with a mac and cheese dish, but it's also good on some sort of bread roll, or in a tortilla.

Monday, October 31, 2011

This Year's Halloween Costume Fail

Contrary to what my interest in Comic-Con might suggest, I am not a huge fan of dressing up and/or Halloween. This year however, I made an effort.

Of course I did not want to be something I thought a lot of other people would be, so I ended up on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Meaning, no one understood my costume. And no, I am not from Star Trek.


I decided to be Minmei from Robotech! Which is kind of weird because I never could stand Minmei. I would much rather have been Lisa, but I could not figure out how to make her uniform. So, Minmei it was. The tricky part was finding a dress pattern with the right neckline, and then finding a yellow turtleneck at the last minute.

For my Minmei costume, I ended up using Simplicity 2062 because it had the right neckline. The problem is that the "V" was created using a contrasting piece of fabric on top of the existing neckline...so no actual "V,"(or maybe I should say "pointy-U"). Not fun to figure out two nights before you need the costume.


My solution? Trim an additional one-half inch off the neckline (not the rounded collar part) and finish it with red double-fold bias tape for the entire neckline. I probably should have trimmed at least one-inch, but I erred on the side of caution because it is really difficult to correct a cutting of mistake. Why double-fold bias tape? Because I figured I could do the outside corners (located at the top, where a collar might be) like I would when I do mitered binding on a blanket; and I could do the inside corners in the square neckline style. It worked!

The dress pattern is not very fitted (Minmei's is), or short (Minmei's is not), but I think using knit fabric helped. It also meant that I did not have to worry about frayed edges or sew a zipper into the dress. Other things I did to make this pattern work me included not attaching a contrast band around the hemline; cut the sleeves to what I think is the elbow line on the pattern; and used gray single-fold bias tape for the detail. As far as the body of the dress goes, I held up the dress front, and pinned the bias tape to the dress, and took measurements to make it somewhat even on the other side.


As I said earlier, one of the hardest things was finding a yellow, long-sleeve turtleneck. If I had thought about this earlier, I probably could have found one a lot easier. I settled for a mustard yellow turtleneck from American Apparel.

Minus the Star Trek thing, I am pretty happy with the way this turned out. And while it did not work for Halloween on the Hermosa Pier, I am ready for Comic-Con...if I ever decide to go again and dress in costume (something I have never done).

By the way, in case you do not know Robotech, here is a picture of Lynn Minmei.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Peanut Butter Frosting


This was my first attempt to bake cupcakes from scratch. The recipes for the dark chocolate cupcakes and the peanut butter frosting are from America's Test Kitchen, and of course the cupcakes needed one cup of Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder. I figured I should not try and substitute this time. Thus began a ridiculous search for the stuff.

If you live in Southern California like I do, I would like to save you some time in your search for Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder. Go to Gelson's, the only grocery store I found that carried it. It was not to be found at Williams-Sonoma (where I had a disappointing retail experience), Sur la Table, or any regular grocery store. I have been told that it can be found at Penzeys, but that was too far for me on this particular night.

This is a very chocolatey cupcake, and I especially liked the frosting. Hopefully my guinea pigs enjoyed them!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fun with a Favorite Author


I know I have said this before, but I love author events. They tell you a little something about themselves and their work, they answer questions (which are generally intelligent and/or thoughtful),they hold autograph sessions, and they clearly love their readers.

Yesterday turned out to be one of these author days. My Sunday was supposed to be lazy. I planned on a leisurely morning, and then lunch with my best friend. The rest of the day was going to involve me slowly making my way home back up the 405. My first look at Facebook changed those plans...as it turned out, Maggie Stiefvater was in town, and it was the very last West Coast event of the year for her! So, I texted my friend from high school, the Hippofairy herself (a.ka. Mrs. O.), and she wanted to make the drive out to Redondo Beach to see Maggie.

I should confess right now that I had second thoughts about going to the event while I waited to hear back from Mrs. O. It has been no-life-busy at work, and I could seriously use down time, but I told myself I would only skip it if Mrs. O. was not interested. Thankfully she was, because I really would have regretted giving in to my exhaustion.

Back to the event.

The event actually featured two other authors, Cecil Castelluci and Jeff Hirsch, and now I have even more reading. For some reason, there was a serious lack of questions (um...I found out about this too late to think of something intelligent). In other words, the autograph portion started relatively quickly.

This was the highlight of my experience. When it was my turn to have Maggie sign my book, I mentioned to her that I had been at another one of her events about a year ago. She remembered that it was July 2010, in the San Francisco Bay Area! Holy crow, I thought that was so cool of her to remember. I tried to play it cool, and hopefully I did because on the inside I was one giddy little girl. Not only did Maggie sign my book, but she doodled in it this time.


The funny thing is that I was wearing a plaid shirt yesterday, like I was the last time I met Maggie. The funnier thing is that when I packed my shirt to take with me to my friends' place, I thought about how I wore a plaid shirt when I met Maggie Stiefvater. It seems like the Universe likes to give me little hints now and again.

By the way, the event was put on by Mysterious Galaxy Books as a part of the This is Teen experience. And, if you have not ever attended an author event, you are missing out! Look at your library calendar, or follow your favorite author who most likely blogs, tweets, or facebooks. They need our support, and many of these experiences are free to attend, and it is great for your brain!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Baby Girl Blanket


It's been the Year of the Boy among my friends having babies, so I really appreciate when I have the chance to make something pink. There are two baby girls who will probably be born within weeks of each other, and I'm ready for one of them! I am working on the second blanket, and I would be done with it by now if I hadn't taken it apart so many times.

This blanket was made with Vanna's Choice Baby in Pink Poodle. Another yarn that can be washed and dried, but I still like Bernat Softee Baby better for feel...although, Vanna's is much quicker to work with because it's thicker.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Baby Boy Blanket


Yikes it's been almost a month since I last posted! Work has been really busy, and I should be doing some of it right now, but I'm giving my brain a break. This blanket is for the son of my friends Mr. and Mrs. L. He was born in August, and I still haven't met him...something I plan to remedy that shortly. Hopefully they still can use this blanket. It was made with Bernat Softee Baby in Funny Prints, a yarn I like to use for baby blankets because it's soft and can be thrown in the washer and dryer.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Got Nothing

Actually, I just finished a baby blanket for my friends' new son, but I've been too busy to take a picture of it. Plus my brain is toast after a long day of work. If I can muster the energy I will finish up another baby blanket soon for one of the two baby girls that two of my other friends are expecting. Somehow, I have got to squeeze in a run. At least 3 miles. I would skip the running, but I am silly a signed up for a half marathon when I very well knew that this is one of my busiest times of the year at work.

To bed!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Don't Get It

Yesterday I read an email that showed up in my inbox from a "Reed Hastings, Co-Founder" with a subject of "An Explanation and Some Reflections." Huh?

I thought it was SPAM. However, the email made it through the junk filter, so I figured the chances of it being legitimate were pretty good. Turns out it was legit, and it was junk. Rather, it made me feel junk about Netflix.

I was pretty much over the 60% rate increase thing, even if I do miss having two DVDs out at a time, but this email offended me. It's not even about the money or the shock of the rate increase. It's that I felt like Mr. Hastings and his team think I'm stupid enough not to know the difference between "Netflix" and "Qwikster." Sorry, but changing your name and dividing yourself into two different businesses is not going to fix things. You actually just made this whole thing worse.

Now, I can't help but wonder what kind of research or marketing strategy was in place here. Your new name is not appealing, and your communication plan is just not working. This is so frustrating as a customer!

Didn't Netflix help push Blockbuster out of business? Weren't you making money off my friends with kids who hold onto their DVDs for months at a time? I don't get it. Sorry Mr. Hastings, but I really liked getting my DVDs thru a mail order system and the pretty lame streaming option felt like added value. I didn't even mind when I noticed the weeks-long wait period for new releases. You had a good hold on the market there, but who knows what it looks like now.

In case you aren't a Netflix subscriber, you can read the emailed "explanation" and "reflections" below.


Dear [insert Netflix customer name here],

I messed up. I owe you an explanation.

It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.

For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn't make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us). So we moved quickly into streaming, but I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.

So here is what we are doing and why.

Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD. DVD is a great option for those who want the huge and comprehensive selection of movies.

I also love our streaming service because it is integrated into my TV, and I can watch anytime I want. The benefits of our streaming service are really quite different from the benefits of DVD by mail. We need to focus on rapid improvement as streaming technology and the market evolves, without maintaining compatibility with our DVD by mail service.

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.

It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.

Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to qwikster.com to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray, for those who want to rent Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Members have been asking for video games for many years, but now that DVD by mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done. Other improvements will follow. A negative of the renaming and separation is that the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated.

There are no pricing changes (we’re done with that!). If you subscribe to both services you will have two entries on your credit card statement, one for Qwikster and one for Netflix. The total will be the same as your current charges. We will let you know in a few weeks when the Qwikster.com website is up and ready.

For me the Netflix red envelope has always been a source of joy. The new envelope is still that lovely red, but now it will have a Qwikster logo. I know that logo will grow on me over time, but still, it is hard. I imagine it will be similar for many of you.

I want to acknowledge and thank you for sticking with us, and to apologize again to those members, both current and former, who felt we treated them thoughtlessly.

Both the Qwikster and Netflix teams will work hard to regain your trust. We know it will not be overnight. Actions speak louder than words. But words help people to understand actions.

Respectfully yours,

-Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix

p.s. I have a slightly longer explanation along with a video posted on our blog, where you can also post comments.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rememberance

It was dark o'clock in the morning on September 11, 2001 as I got ready for work. My radio was tuned to KROQ as it always was in those days, and Ralph Garman, who normally did the entertainment news, said something that did not quite register. In my sleepy-brain haze, I wondered if they were doing a War of the Worlds bit. Then Ralph said to turn on the TV because this was not a joke. I stumbled to the living room and turned on the news. I either saw the Pentagon on fire, or one of the World Trade Center tours on fire, but I know for sure that I saw the second plane hit, and I saw the towers fall. It was surreal and it gave me chicken skin.

I went to work that day. At that time, I worked in Sherman Oaks and lived in Whittier, so it was about 35 miles one-way. We cancelled a work event that night, and the freeways were eerily empty for Los Angeles. My friend's dad told her to tell me to drive straight home after work. Pretty common sense right? Well, it was scary because he would know that something very serious was going on even if the rest of us were still unsure of what exactly was happening to our world.

A lot of time has passed, but I still remember that morning even better than I do this one. It was such a sad and uncertain day. I feel like only a *sigh* can properly express my thoughts and feelings about 9/11. At the same time, I have much gratitude for the brave men and women who fight for our freedom, especially for the ones I know personally.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Rosemary Bread Rolls


Peeta Melark never has to worry about competition from me as a bread baker. Yesterday I posted about my jalapeno cheese "rolls" and so you know those were not my best looking work. I wanted to try and make actual rolls, so I decided to make ATK's rustic bread recipe, and added fresh rosemary.

These bread rolls were a lot better looking, and were pretty tasty. I think they would have been better served warm, but I took them to work for a birthday potluck. Turns out, they go really well with olive oil and vinegar.

Rosemary Bread Rolls
adapted from America's Test Kitchen's Rustic White Bread

2 cups bread flour*
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups water, warm
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

Pulse the bread flour, 2 cups of all-purpose flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor to combine. While the processor is running, add the water and honey and process until a rough ball forms, about 30 to 40 seconds. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes, then process for 30 more seconds. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball, about five minutes, adding the remaining 1/4 cup of flour as needed to prevent sticking. Add the rosemary, little by little, during this time. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until nearly doubled in size and springs back slowly when indented with a finger, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Pinch the dough down, and pinch off small portions (about 1/3 cup), roll into balls. Arrange on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover loosely with a lightly oiled piece of plastic wrap and let rise again until touching, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the rolls with water before putting in the oven; spray again every minute for the first 3 minutes. Bake until rolls are brown and cooked through, about 40 minutes.

*I used unbleached bread flour because I had it on-hand.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jalapeno Cheese Rolls


One of my favorite foods as a kid was a cheese roll my grandma would get from the bakery by Times Supermarket. These are pretty easy to find in the mainland, and here they come with jalapenos. So, when a co-worker brought me a bag of jalapenos from her garden, I thought jalapeno cheese rolls would be the best way to share with the rest of the office.

Unfortunately there were not many roll recipes, so I sort of blended two recipes. One I found online wanted me to use eight (yes eight) cups of flour, and I felt like that was just too much. So, I used the rustic white bread recipe from ATK, but added cheddar and jalapenos, and then baked according to the online recipe instructions.

And...I overproofed my dough, so everything kind of rose together and made one big piece of bread. It was not pretty, but it tasted good. I decided that next time I would watch my dough raise and then also bake on a cookie sheet rather than in a 9x13 pan.

Jalapeno Cheese Rolls
adapted from America's Test Kitchen's Rustic White Bread and a recipe found on Just a Pinch

2 cups bread flour*
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups water, warm
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese,shredded
1/2 cup fresh jalapenos, sliced*

Pulse the bread flour, 2 cups of all-purpose flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor to combine. While the processor is running, add the water and honey and process until a rough ball forms, about 30 to 40 seconds. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes, then process for 30 more seconds. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball, about five minutes, adding the remaining 1/4 cup of flour as needed to prevent sticking. Add the 1 cup of the cheese and all the jalapenos, little by little, during this time. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until nearly doubled in size and springs back slowly when indented with a finger, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Pinch the dough down, and pinch off small portions (about 1/3 cup), roll into balls. Arrange close together in well-greased 9x13 pan. Cover and let rise again until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes. Sprinkle the dough with the remaining cheese.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until rolls are brown and cooked through, about 40 minutes (the recipe says 1 hour). Transfer to rack, cool 10 minutes. Cool 1 hour before serving.

*I used unbleached bread flour because I had it on-hand. Depending on the type of jalapenos you use, this can get spicy (although mine wasn't), so if you really don't like spicy, de-vein and de-seed the jalapenos.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies


A co-worker gave me a rug to use and to thank her, I baked her these chocolate oatmeal cookies. The recipe came out of an ATK special magazine for holiday cookies.

They were a big hit. Yay!

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from the America's Test Kitchen Holiday Cookies magazine

1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats*
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar*
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces milk chocolate, melted and cooled
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped*

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Process one cup oats in food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl and stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and brown sugar until smooth, about one minute. Add egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Add remaining oats, chocolate chips, and nuts.

Roll two tablespoons of dough into balls and space two inches apart on baking sheets. Bake about 14 to 18 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Cool five minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

*I used quick-cooking oats, dark brown sugar, and walnuts.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

German Chocolate Brownies


A former co-worker and friend visited last week, and she loves food, so I made her my guinea pig for German Chocolate Brownies. Big surprise, it's another ATK recipe. Basically, you make brownies, and right when they come out of the oven, you sprinkle 6 ounces of butterscotch chips over them and let them soften. Then you smooth the chips evenly over the top of the brownies, and sprinkle half a cup of toasted coconut. The steps are the same as the fudge brownies I posted yesterday, but the chocolate-butter mixture consists of 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate. You bake the brownies for 22 to 27 minutes at 350 degrees.

This is a very sweet brownie recipe, but something a little bit different. I have to try to toast the coconut more evenly next time, but I was concerned that it would burn, hence the uneven color.

Now, about that song challenge...

Day 09 - a Song That You Can Dance to
Admittedly, I'm a pretty pathetic dancer as I am too self-conscious, but one that always makes me feel like dancing is Beyonce's Single Ladies. I blame it on Glee.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Superfudgebrownie


London is burning and equities are sinking. There's a lot of fear and panic out there, but I have to tell you about these "ultimate fudgy brownies" from America's Test Kitchen. This brownie recipe uses two types of chocolate, in addition to cocoa powder, so if you are one of those chocolate-loving people, I think you will like it. I made it for a couple of friends, and I think they liked it...I'm not a chocolate expert in any way whatsoever, so I couldn't tell you if this is good or not.

The one thing is that you have to use Dutch-processed cocoa powder. This is hard stuff to find unless you want to pay $15 at Williams-Sonoma. I went to five different stores before I gave up and used a "substitute." Actually, I added 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda to natural cocoa powder. Of course, the next day I found the $15 can from Williams-Sonoma.

Superfudgebrownie
adapted from America's Test Kitchen

5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder (or 3 T natural, cococa powder + 1/8 t baking soda)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

1. Put the oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 350.

2. Melt the chocolates, butter, and cocoa in the microwave, stirring often, 1 to 3 minutes. Let the mixture cool a little.

3. Whisk the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt together until combined. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir in the flour until no streaks remain.

4. Scrape the batter into an 8x8 pan and smooth. Bake about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs.

5. Let cool completely on a wire rack, about two hours.

*The cookbook recommends that you line the pan with foil so that you can easily lift the baked brownie out. Basically, you fold foil to fit into the pan so that you have some left over on both sides. Then you fold another piece of foil to fit into the pan so that there is left over foil on the other sides. Lightly coat with vegetable oil spray.

I haven't forgotten about the song thing!

Day 08 - a Song That You Know All the Words to
This Land is Your Land

Monday, July 25, 2011

This Song Reminds of Me of a Sad Event From a Longtime Ago

I blame the song hiatus on Comic-Con. More on that later.

Day 07 - a Song That Reminds You of a Certain Event

Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum

Monday, July 18, 2011

Granola and Another Song


It has been about six months, and I am finally reunited swith my cooking stuff! The first thing I made was granola. This granola is not good for you. At all. But it is tasty, so who can help themselves? If you like sweet granola, I recommend that you be heavy handed with the honey and coconut.

Granola

1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons good honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. Place on a sheet pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Shake the pan every so often. Let the granola cool, and stir once.

Now for the song. Oops, I am only on Day 06.

Day 06 - a Song That Reminds You of Somewhere
Home in the Islands by The Brothers Cazimero

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Song That Reminds Me of Someone

Day 05 - a Song That Reminds You of Someone
Wake Up by Arcade Fire

This is kind of random because I don't know this particular person. I just love the Dan Patrick Show, and this song is played every Friday. So, the song reminds me of Dan Patrick.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 03 of 30 Day Song Challenge

Day 03 - a Song That Makes You Happy
Solid as a Rock by Ocean 11



Ska is always some good happy music.

There's another song too that comes to mind, but I can't figure out who performs it as it is a cover of Sugar Sugar.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Baby Hat and 30 Day Song Challenge


Just finished this hat for Mindy Metivier Photography. It was made using Aracuania yarn in Rehue Solid Color 1. This particular yarn is hand dyed in Chile.


Fiber content on this yarn is 75% baby alpaca, 18% silk and 7% polyamide. It is quite soft.

Day 02 - Your Least Favorite Song
My Humps by The Black Eyed Peas

It's not the beat, it's the lyrics.

Monday, July 11, 2011

USC Baby Blanket and 30 Day Song Challenge

Super random, I know. It is just that life has been busy, and so I am behind.


The blanket is for my friends and their new son, who is obviously USC's lastest little fan. The yarn is Vanna's Choice in cranberry by Lion Brand, and the pattern is from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies.

As for "the 30 Day Song Challenge," well, I got that from my friend of the hippofairy blog. Basically, you are supposed to post a different song each day. The "rules" are below. And I will say now that I will struggle with picking just one song.

Day 01 - Your Favorite Song
Barnacled Warship by Johnny Flynn

30 Day Song Challenges Rules
day 01 - your favorite song
day 02 - your least favorite song
day 03 - a song that makes you happy
day 04 - a song that makes you sad
day 05 - a song that reminds you of someone
day 06 - a song that reminds you of somewhere
day 07 - a song that reminds you of a certain event
day 08 - a song that you know all the words to
day 09 - a song that you can dance to
day 10 - a song that makes you fall asleep
day 11 - a song from your favorite band
day 12 - a song from a band you hate
day 13 - a song that is a guilty pleasure
day 14 - a song that no one would expect you to love
day 15 - a song that describes you
day 16 - a song that you used to love but now hate
day 17 - a song that you hear often on the radio
day 18 - a song that you wish you heard on the radio
day 19 - a song from your favorite album
day 20 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry
day 21 - a song that you listen to when you’re happy
day 22 - a song that you listen to when you’re sad
day 23 - a song that you want to play at your wedding
day 24 - a song that you want to play at your funeral
day 25 - a song that makes you laugh
day 26 - a song that you can play on an instrument
day 27 - a song that you wish you could play
day 28 - a song that makes you feel guilty
day 29 - a song from your childhood
day 30 - your favorite song at this time last year

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Neil Gaiman Came to Town


Twice I have thought, "He is really cool." The first time while watching It Might Get Loud as Jimmy Page played his guitar. The second time tonight, during Neil Gaiman's appearance at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.

Yes, a cool, smart, English writer dude. He is brilliant. His body of work includes comic books, children's books, adult books, scripts, and more. And then there is Neil himself. This is the second time I have sat in one of his audiences, and between these appearances and his online persona, I think he is a genuinely nice guy. One who I would enjoy having conversation with over a beer.

What I appreciate most is his connection to his fans. If you follow Neil Gaiman on Twitter, you will see how he answers his fans, shares their news and just appreciates them. Today he signed about 800 books for fans who pre-purchased the tenth anniversary edition of American Gods. Which is much more than I can say for another author who stamped books for an appearance.

If you ever need book recommendations, Mr. Gaiman's are great. Thanks to him I found my way to Robin McKinley (Sunshine is a new favorite), Gene Wolfe, Diana Wynne Jones, and Robert Holdstock.

About the event. It was wonderful. Once it got started. The show should have started at 8:00 p.m., but at the appointed hour we were still standing in a line that wrapped around the Saban, along Hamilton Drive. My guess is that the long wait occurred because all tickets were will call, as well as signed books to be picked up inside. Thankfully the show did not start until most of the audience was seated, somewhere around 9:00 p.m.

Patton Oswalt was the moderator/interviewer. Funny, funny guy. I saw him do something similar at Comic-Con two years ago, but this was better. Like us audience members, Mr. Oswalt is a big fan, and that went a long way. The evening included a hilarious book reading by Neil himself, Mr. Oswalt and Zelda Williams, as well as some extra tidbits on what the lot of us might soon expect. The future's looking good for American Gods Two; a musical set in 1920s Paris; non-fiction work; a children's book called Chu's Day; and American Gods, the TV show. One of the best things about the night besides Neil Gaiman? The fact that there were about 1,500 people in the Saban Theatre to see an author.


I highly encourage you to go see Neil Gaiman is he is ever in your town for an appearance. He does not disappoint. Plus, your vocabulary may grow.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Case of Zombie Attack


There was talk of zombies at work today, and that immediately reminded me of one of the funniest NPR programs I have ever heard.

In 2003, I was stuck somewhere in a Southern California freeway when NPR's Talk of the Nation went into its final segment about zombies. It was a segment about how people should prepare to defend themselves against zombie attack. The host interviews author of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead, Max Brooks.

If you ever need a good case of the sillies, you should definitely listen to the October 30, 2003 edition of Talk of the Nation.

I hope NPR never takes this off their website, or never archives it in some password and money-protected place.

And remember, as Max Brooks says, "If a zombie's coming after you with its arms up and its mouth open and its biting, and gnawing, and moaning don't worry about brain and the flesh. Just get out of there."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

DC Has a New Green Lantern Fan


In brightest day, in blackest night,
no evil shall escape my sight,
Let those who worship evil's might,
Beware my power...Green Lantern's light!


That is one great superhero oath. The first time I heard it was at the 2010 Comic-Con in San Diego, during the Green Lantern session. The cutest little kid asked Ryan Reynolds, "What does it feel like to say the Green Lantern oath?" He was so cute standing up there in his Green Lantern t-shirt that Ryan Reynolds had to say it for all of us in the audience. Ever since then I have been anxiously waiting for the release of this movie.

For some reason I thought it was supposed to come out in March, but I'm glad it was released in June because life was a little goofy in the Spring. Since I was so impatient, I saw this movie on opening weekend.

It was different.

If you just go based upon the trailers and you haven't followed the comic book, then you have no idea that so much of this movie takes place in space. I get the marketing angle, after all, you do want as much of the general populace to go see Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern. But, I wonder if this is what turns a lot of people off about the movie?

Nah, its also a bit confusing (somehow Hal Jordan just knows that the pulse of his ring means something's up) and its a little choppy, but as far as summer popcorn movies go, it's just fine. I enjoyed it (and yes, the eye candy is fantastic). I even texted my comic-book-expert friend right away to find out just which Green Lantern comic book I should read first. He recommended Green Lantern: Secret Origin.

So now I know that the ring alerts Hal Jordan to "extraterrestrial incidents" in which he should intervene.

Obviously, I'm hooked. Not majorly hooked, but enough that I've got some new summer reading. I think it's the idea of willpower being the force behind the Green Lantern Corps' power. That, and the oath.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Mighty Mites

Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas FootballTwelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football by Jim Dent

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The idiom says, "Don't just a book by it's cover." What about the book jacket?

All it took was reading the book jacket, and I was a goner for Jim Dent's Twelve Mighty Orphans. Then again, maybe I should have judged this book by it's cover because the rest of the title is "the Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football"—what's not to love?

The book covers the story of the Masonic Home Mighty Mites during the 1930s and 1940s, when America was in the dark depths of the Great Depression. For hundreds of children, the Masonic Home was the place you came to when one or both of your parents died or because they could simply not afford to care for you. Life at the Home may not have been the most comfortable (no shoes for orphans between April 1 and October 1) or nurturing (the deans wielded paddles and a heavy hand), but it was a place of lasting friendships and education.

Enter Coach Rusty Russell. Coach Russell himself possessed a tenacious and determined spirit. During the Big War he was devastatingly injured when a canister of mustard gas landed nearby and blinded him. He eventually regained his eyesight, but was forced to wear thick glasses in order to see. Once back in the U.S., doctors instructed him to give up football, but he wore his glasses and was selected to the all-conference teams for football and basketball. The man gave up a good job at Temple High School in Texas, where he had a 20-3 record and took his team to the 1925 state-semifinal. He walked away from Temple to the Masonic Home where he would be faced with always-undersized players, an old blue Dodge for transportation, and uniforms made from t-shirts and spray paint.

I haven't even got to the orphans yet. But really, what's the point? Jim Dent tells their story so wonderfully, and I wouldn't want to cheat anyone from this experience. Just go get the book. Even if you don't love football, surely you love the underdog. After all, the Mighty Mites were playing at the same time Seabiscuit was racing and James "Cinderella Man" Braddock was fighting; and their story is just as movie-worthy.



View all my reviews

Thursday, June 9, 2011

June Baby Blanket


A blanket for a baby boy. I have a lot of projects to knit for all the boys-to-be-born this year to my friends. This blanket was made from two strands of Bernat Softee Baby, one in chiffon, and one in denim marl. I like to use this yarn for babies because it's soft and can be easily washed and dried.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Got It Right This Time


Here's the hat my sister was hoping for last time. The pattern is from the String Or Nothing blog, and the yarn is the Brown Sheep Company's Lamb's Pride in Jaded Dreams. Since the yarn is 85% wool and 15% mohair, it is pretty stiff, and the top of the hat sits up on its own.

Maybe it will appear in a photo by Mindy Metivier Photography.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Oops


I thought I was finally so smart with my knitting. It turns out, not so much. I made a mistake with this baby hat. The i-cord should have tapered more instead of looking like a little piggy tail.


The tail is in fact so long that you can make a kind of double knot on the top.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Two Words

Where have all the thank-yous gone?

There seems to be a glaring lack of "thank you" in retail settings as of late. Too often I find myself thanking a cashier or sales person for helping me, only to receive a "You're welcome," in response. What happened to thanking me for coming in and spending money in your establishment?

I think I'm going to start sending emails to companies when their employees neglect to say "thank you" to a customer. And, I may just stop shopping at stores who forget to express their appreciation to the people who keep them in business. After all, I do have many choices, and next time I need to take some sweets over to a friend's house, I won't be stopping at a certain bakery in Irvine. On the other hand, when I'm thirsting for an Arnold Palmer, I will definitely patron Nordstrom's e-bar, because they always say "thank you."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Baby Hat in Organic Cotton


Surprise, surprise, this newborn-sized hat is for Mindy Metivier Photography. It's made out of Lion Brand's Nature's Choice Organic Cotton Yarn in pistachio, using size 6 (16-inch circular) and size 5 (double-pointed) needles. The i-cord tie is only about three inches, and next time I will make it longer.


The hat with the brim rolled up.

My pattern:
  • Cast on 60 stitches. Join in the round, and work 6 rows of K3 P3 ribbing.

  • From row 7 on, knit until hat measures 4.5", including the ribbing.

  • Row 1 of decrease: *K4, K2tog; repeat from * until end (50 stitches remain).

  • Rows 2 and 3: Knit all stitches.

  • Row 4: *K3, K2tog; repeat from * until end (40 stitches remain).

  • Rows 5 and 6: Knit all stitches.

  • Row 7: *K2, K2tog; repeat from * until end (30 stitches remain).

  • Row 8: Knit all stitches.

  • Row 9: *K1; K2tog; repeat from * until end (20 stitches remain).

  • Row 10: *K2tog; repeat from *until end (10 stitches remain).

  • Row 11; *K2tog; repeat from * to end of round (5 stitches remain).

  • Knit the five remaining stitches, but do not turn; instead slide the stitches to the opposite end of the needle (from left side to the right). The yarn will be on the left, but pull it around the back so it's on the right, and knit each stitch again. Repeat until i-cord measures desired length. As you pull the yarn from left to right, behind the knitted piece, the i-cord will close on itself.

  • Bind off and weave in ends.

Friday, May 20, 2011

USC Baby Hat and Matching Booties


Friends of mine are expecting their first baby, and they are big USC fans, so I made them a matching hat and bootie set.


The yarn is Brown Sheep Nature Spun, so it is going to require more care (hand wash, flat dry) than I would like for a baby gift, but it couldn't be helped this time. I'm not sure what the exact color name is for the yarn I used as my version of USC Cardinal, but it might be Bordeaux; the USC Gold is represented by Nature Spun's Sunburst Gold (308).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Baby Hat and Matching Booties


I have finally ventured away from blankets and made a pair of booties! There is also a matching hat.

The yarn is a nylon-acrylic blend from Thomas B. Ramsden & Co. It is from the company's Peter Pan Double Knit line, and is light blue with flecks of yellow, lavender and aqua. I don't think it's available anymore—if memory serves me correctly, I found this several years ago at the Slipt Stitch in El Segundo.



The bootie pattern can be found in Erika Knight's Simple Knits for Cherished Babies.

Monday, May 16, 2011

How the Internet Helps Me Knit

Sometimes I can't remember how I ever got by without the internet. Well, I remember, but I just can't get over how wonderful the internet is for my life.

When I was in elementary school, we learned how to use the Dewey Decimal system, and I am pretty sure that my college (Whittier) still used a card catalog in 1996. That same year, I know I had a "whittier.edu" email address, but snail mail was still popular. And then the internet just blew up. Now, I use the internet for everything.

At the moment I am most thankful for the internet because it helps me to figure out my knitting projects. I just Google things like "sew seam knitting stockinette" and I find some useful sites that get me through the rather loose instructions I get from the patterns and books. Here are the sites that have been most useful as of late:
Don't you just love how easy it is to find answers now?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Last Night's Film

Last night I watched Rabbit Hole. It is one of those heavy films you have to be in the mood to see.

In case you have never heard of it, Rabbit Hole is the heart-wrenching story of a couple's life after their young child dies in an accident. Yikes. Just writing the simplest synopsis of the movie's plot is tough. I was hesitant to watch this because it was a little too close to real-life, but I am glad I did.

Despite the weight of the movie and its subject matter, I thought it was a great film. Great because it captured all the raw emotions and struggles of what happens when a couple loses a child. Great because you saw how easily things change and spin out of control. But most of all—spoiler alert—great because in the end there was hope. It was not false hope either; just plain, old hope that maybe, just maybe things would be okay.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Knitted Baby Blanket: Patchwork Pleaser


Yet another late baby blanket for a friend's baby. Little Mr. H. was born at the end of January, and by the time the blanket gets to him, he will be nearly five months old!

The blanket was knit using two strands of Bernat Softee Baby—one in baby denim marl and one in chiffon print. The pattern is called "Patchwork Pleaser" and is from Leisure Arts' Our Best Knit Baby Afghans.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge


I should have gone to bed earlier last night. Then I could have watched the live coverage of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Instead I went to bed so late that if I tried to wake up at 3:00 a.m., I would have only four hours of sleep—a bad thing for my extremely long commute this morning.

This is one time I wish I wasn't such a night owl. My inability to go to bed at a reasonable hour means I missed a truly happy moment in world history.


Oh well, at least I saw the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge riding in their carriage to Buckingham Palace. Although, I can't really say that I saw their first kiss on the balcony of the Palace because I wasn't exactly looking at the screen for that mega-quick peck. Fittingly, I saw their second kiss.

Ah well, it was all so, so very beautiful; and thanks to 24-hour news coverage, I get to watch the whole ceremony right now, and listen to the wonderful music and bells that make one's heart soar.


It is such a delightful thing to see two people looking so happy.