Sunday, October 31, 2010

Princess Holly's Portrait

Earlier this year my best pal Val lost her precious cat Holly from complications in surgery for breast cancer.  She was a little terror always pushing the boundaries and had the attitude of a queen looking down her nose at her subjects (which included people and her brother Bear).

Val found a painter to paint a portrait of the little devil girl.  Here is her portrait in her favorite spot with brother Bear.
The artist is Kathy McChesney and she is an animal lover with an awesome studio at the back of her house.  Her website is here.  She also has the perfect place for a kitty to sun - right in the window of the kitchen.
The memorial portrait of Princess Holly is beautiful and accurately portrays her place in the universe.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cold Sheep Failure for October

I'm sorry to say that I have had no progress toward cold sheeping this month!  Cold Sheeping is to refrain from buying yarn and knitting from stash.  I accomplished the first but have nothing to show for the second.

I started up some projects this month but have finished none.  I continued to work on some projects and also finished none.

The only thing I was able to finish was my Fondle This! club offering for June.  I spun enough yarn to make two of these hats but only finished one.

Spinning Bunny has sign ups for next year's Fondle This! club open now.  It was a great experience for me but I will not be joining for 2011 and hope to use what I learned to spin down my stash.

The reason my numbers have not changed for October is that one of my rules was that spun fiber from my stash does not count toward my yarn stash therefore anything I knit from my hand spun yarn was not originally included in my stash totals.

I also have an exception for yarns purchased for weaving.  If I purchased the yarn specifically for weaving, it does not add to my stash and if I used yarns in my stash for weaving, it will be deducted from my total.

Since I have multiple projects ongoing - I'm hoping that my numbers will be BIG next month!

Starting total: 108,649 yards
Starting total for October:  108,727
Yardage purchased:  0
Yardage used in finished projects:  0
Ending total for October:  108,727

Friday, October 29, 2010


So there is this thing called NaBloPoMo which stands for National Blog Post Month.  You can read about it here.  You can sign up and pledge to post on your blog every day of the month starting November 1st.  This is challenging especially if you don't have special activities you are doing.

I may try this without officially signing up.  It will be challenging to see if I can write something interesting every day in November.  Who knows it might be a month full of crafting updates.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


On my travels today, I was following a semi-truck from Chipotle.  On the back of the trailer was this - "Tailgating will result in Guacamole."

On the one hand, awful to think about not being able to stop in time to avoid a collision, but with the result being able to have guacamole?  That might be worth it!

Monday, October 25, 2010

October Supper Club - Iron Chef - Pumpkin

With the coming fall and Halloween, my favorite squash is pumpkin.  I only have pumpkin pie during this season and fill up enough to last me until the next year.  Since I was hosting this month's supper club, I decided that we were taking a page from Iron Chef with the secret ingredient being pumpkin.

I decided to make pumpkin lasagna and left the other entrees to each person. Here is what we ended up with:

Pumpkin Lasagna

Warm Pumpkin Salad with Polenta and Candied Pumpkin Seeds
Janet used polenta in a tube and it was an interesting texture.
Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini (1) Liberally adapted with pumpkin.
Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream (2)

The pumpkin lasagna was not as expected.  It really was a regular lasagna with some pumpkin puree and squash.  I did substitute whole wheat noodles.  The pumpkin garbanzo salad was like by some and not others, the warm pumpkin salad was also a miss but components were good.  The pumpkin ice cream was also a miss as it tasted like pumpkin pie but lacked the fats and texture.

Overall, our pumpkin challenge was a bust - oh well there is always next year! 

(1)  For salad:

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 ½ lb.), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
1 medium garlic clove, pressed
½ tsp. ground allspice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ of a medium red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

For tahini sauce:
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
3 ½ Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. well-stirred tahini
2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a good pinch or two of salt. Using a large spoon or your hands, toss until the squash pieces are evenly coated. Turn them out onto a baking sheet, and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.
Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. The sauce should have plenty of nutty tahini flavor, but also a little kick of lemon. (I found that my tahini was a little bitter and that the lemon was a bit much, so I added additional olive oil to tame both.)
To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Add tahini sauce to taste, and toss carefully. (Alternatively, you can also serve the salad undressed, with the tahini sauce on the side. That way, each person can use as much or as little as they want, and the individual ingredients taste a little brighter, too.) Serve, with additional salt for sprinkling.
Note: This salad, lightly dressed, keeps beautifully in the fridge. (Hold a little of the tahini sauce on the side, for dressing at the table.) Before serving, warm slightly with quick jolt in the microwave.(Yield: 4 servings)

(2) For the ice cream:

1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 14 oz can coconut milk
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch cracked ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix together until smooth, chill, put in ice cream maker.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gifts from China

I spent part of the day with my friend fluffysgarden and she recently came back from China.  Since I missed seeing her and hearing about her trip last weekend because of the craft fair, I went up to see her and hear her stories.

She had a great time in Beijing and Chungdu and brought me back some kickass cheetos (my secret vice food) and a little ornament from the Forbidden City (she saved the green one for me).
She also performed a tea ceremony for me with lychee tea and an awesome jasmine flower bloom.  Here is a photo of the jasmine blossom tea after blooming.
Her funniest show and tell was the pee pee boy.  An article was written about it by Adam Johnson here.  Also, here is a video of it.

It was a lovely visit and I got some pointers about my Avatar scarf project.  I will be going with some black alpaca as warp.  She gave me some good ideas on how to portray the struggle for a balanced world.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blankets and Rainy Days

It has been unseasonably cool and rainy here in San Diego.  As such, it brings the need for warm blankets while sitting around watching TV.  I was also reorganizing my yarn stash and found a bag of hand spun alpaca (it actually fell on my head).

I had spun this alpaca from fiber purchased from Hazard Alpaca when I went to Alpaca Farm Days here and I purchased some dark chocolate and light tan colored fiber.  My goal was to knit a Hemlock Ring Blanket by Jared Flood after seeing a picture of said blanket in an old catalog from Webs Yarn Store.

I had also just started my spinning class at Helix Adult School and grandly announced my goal of knitting with my own hand spun yarn.  I think I added this pattern to my queue back in September 2008 and now it is the time to get it started.

I believe I was intimidated by the pattern and the finicky crochet cast on since it is a blanket knit in a circle but after this past year of doing a knit-a-long with the Evenstar Shawl (it is still not finished), it was fairly easy once I re-familiarized myself with the cast on.  The internet is a great thing!

Here is the yarn - it is a barber pole effect from the dark and light plied together.

Here is the start of the circle.
I'm just imagining how warm it will be - hopefully it will stay cool through the winter months but I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Glamour Shots

I decided recently to devote some time to my artfire shop.  The key to selling online is the photo of your item.  So when I saw this portable photography kit, I took the plunge.

You can see that there are lights as well as a tripod in addition to the white photo box that folds up like a flexible windshield sun screen.  When I first unzipped the case, that sucker jumped out.  I can't seem to fold it back to fit in the case now.

I took some test shots of some yarn and then compared them to the original without the photo studio.  As you can see, there is a vast difference.  I think it was a worthwhile investment.

Photo Studio

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bonita Craft Fair

I spent the weekend at the Bonita Craft Fair sponsored by the Bonita Optimist Club.  It was a cool overcast day and my friend Val and I arrived at Rohr Park at 6:30 am to set up the tent.  Val made new aprons for us to wear all day as advertisement for her new pattern.  Mine was a very cute red and black witch themed one.  One of my witches is knitting.
After set up and organization, we were ready to make some sales.  Last year at this event, Val was able to sell a bunch of her quilted purses.  However, with this year's economy, we just had to wait and see.

Here are some photos of the tent.
There was steady traffic most of the day.  The event started at 9:00 am and ended at 3:00 pm.  I had a few of my knitted items, some hand spun yarn, a few sewn project bags, and a couple of small quilts.  Val had multiple aprons, pillow cases, and quilted purses.

Not sure how much we made in sales since it was a one cash register event for all the vendors with the Bonita Optimist Club taking their cut and accounting will be coming at a later time.  However, we were able to spend our money at the fair.

Val's tent was sandwiched between her friend Margaret's sewing extravaganza tent with some handmade soap and salve and Miki Yamamoto, the potter.
Margaret's Tent
Miki's Tent

I parceled out some funds for two pottery pieces and had to keep myself from going over repeatedly for more things to buy.  Miki is having a christmas show that I will have to attend.  Her pottery is light and beautiful and is not as heavy as stoneware.  She has my color palate.  Here are the two items I purchased.

I also bought some hand salve and some lemongrass scented soap.

I sold my hand spun, hand knitted V shawl, one sewn project bag, one skein of alpaca yarn, and one woven scarf of alpaca and wool.  It was a lot of work setting up and breaking down, but it was nice to visit with friends and chat with customers.

Val and I ended the day by having a very early dinner at El Portal before unloading all the equipment and supplies.  Back home by 6:00 and in bed by 8:00.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Avatar: Appa

To continue with my Avatar themed woven scarf, here is the Appa batt:
Angora bunny fiber, alpaca (magical line), milk protein fiber, and a tiny bit of blended organic merino.

Here it is in a single on the bobbin.
Here is the two ply.

Resulting yarn - 88 yards with 18 wpi.

The angora was a first for me to spin.  It was very short and soft so it was much harder to keep uniform so there are some fluffy places on this yarn.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dine Los Angeles - Rivera

I was in Los Angeles for work and had dinner with my brother for dineLA which is their version of Restaurant Week.  We ate at the Rivera Restaurant located at 1050 S. Flower St., #102.  It was a very modern place that highlights various Latin countries.  Their website is here where you can see all the different menu items.  While waiting for our waiter, I listened to another table discussing tequila membership ($2,000) for your own 2 bottles that are locked into a wall for your enjoyment when you eat there.

The dineLA menu offered a three course meal that you order at the same time.  We tried most of everything.  Here is the menu offerings:

Dinner $44 (Price excludes alcohol, tax and gratuity).

Choice of Appetizers 
  • Ensalda Espagnola (Frisee, Baby Spinach, Endive, Idazabal cheese, Macadamia Nuts, and Jerez Sherry Viinaigrette)
  • Flan de Elote (Corn Custard, Black Quinoa, and Squash Blossom Sauce)
  • Post-Columbian Gazpacho (Traditional Cold Heirloom Tomato Soup)

Choice of Entrees

  • Seabass with Mofongo (White Sea Bass Fillet, Garlic, Platanos Refritos, Lardo Iberico)
  • Puerco Pibil (Banana Leaf–Braised Pork Shoulder)
  • Market Vegetables

 Choice of Desserts

  • Mille Hojas (70 Percent Columbian Chocolate Leaves, Ripe Banana, Cabrales Queso Azul, Spanish Red Wine Reduction)
  • Hielo y Fuego (Poblano Chile Sorbet, Jarabe De Porto)
  • Xocimilco (Ancho Chile Chocolate Cake, Avocado Mousse, Lime Pepper Sauce)

 Here are some photos of the dishes:
 Flan de Elote
 Seabass with Mofongo
 Puerco Pibil

 Mille Hojas
The flan was very light and delicious as was my seabass.  The tomato sauce was complex and added a nice contrast to the fish.  I tasted the pork shoulder and it was pretty good as well.

The desserts were a little different.  My brother ordered the chocolate cake and it definitely had a spice kick.  My mouth was on fire for a bit after a small taste.  The banana chocolate dessert that I had was not what I expected since the chocolate and banana had a very light flavor but was totally overpowered by the blue cheese.  The cheese was good on the toast, but the rest of the dessert was lost.  One of my favorite combinations is chocolate and bananas but all I was left with was the taste of blue cheese.  It didn't seem very dessert like.

PS:  On this week's episode of NCIS: Los Angeles, the show had some outdoor shots of this restaurant.  The bad guys were meeting here for lunch.  You can recognize it from the R logo series on the wall.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Avatar: Aang

To continue with my Avatar themed woven scarf, here is the Aang batt:

Milk protein fiber, organic merino, bamboo rayon, alpaca (magical line), and firestar.

Here it is in a single on the bobbin.

Here is the two ply.

Resulting yarn - 86 yards at 20 wpi.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Avatar: Prince Zuko

To continue with my Avatar themed woven scarf, here is the Prince Zuko batt:
Alpaca (magical line), organic merino, rambouillet, bamboo rayon, milk protein fiber, and firestar.
Here it is in a single on the bobbin.

Here is the two ply.

Resulting yarn - 156 yards at 20 wpi.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Avatar: Momo

To continue with my Avatar themed woven scarf, here is the Momo batt:
Alpaca (magical line), milk protein fiber, tencel, and bamboo rayon.  I made a special request to no have mohair included in my batt, and Roo had a special note that stated, "No-no, Mo-mo hair."

Here is it in a single on the bobbin.

Here is the two ply.

Resulting yarn - 104 yards at 20 wpi.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The C Word

The C word - Cancer brings up all the dreaded feelings.  When I first heard it and it applied to me was back in early 2006.  Thyroid cancer was the bad news.  With the doctors at Sharp Memorial, we vanquished the C and it was back to normal.  

The latest rearing of the C happened today when the vet called to let me know the brown boy had a bad cancer tumor that was removed last week.  There is a 90% chance survival within 3.5 the heck do you figure that?  She believes that the C cells were all removed since she sliced him down to the muscle, but now it is time to be hyper-vigilant.

My friend Val recently dealt with the C in relation to her Princess Holly who had breast cancer and who crossed over the rainbow bridge earlier this year.

With all the research and money, you would think we would have a magic pill to take for a cure all.  I guess for Bailey's every day life, it is a good thing in that he will be getting whole body massages regularly to catch those pesky bumps in the early stages.

He has figured out how to get through the dog door with his cone head but I don't think the cone will survive much longer.  

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Warping and Weaving

I attended a Sheep to Shawl event at the Bonita museum and brought my warping board and my Ashford table loom for some instruction.

Beth was kind enough to provide me with a warp for my loom Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool from Michaels and taught me how to dress my loom for weaving.  I learned that it takes a village to put the warp on the loom and that the Ashford back beam needs to be wound in a counter clockwise direction for the brake to work correctly.  It was frustrating to have the warp loosen up every time I tried to sley the heddles and the reed.

I learned a few tricks on using lease sticks and centering the warp on the reed.  I neglected to push the heddles in the right direction before warping and had to add heddles in the middle of warping the loom.

At the end of the day, the loom was warped and when I got home, I started the weaving process.  I know that I'm definitely in the camp of weaving and not warping.

Beth set up the warp so I could follow a two color tabby which is on pages 50 and 51 of the "Handweaver's Pattern Directory" by Anne Dixon.  Once I started weaving, I discovered that I did not follow the warp exactly and my patterning is not quite the same as the book's pictures.  It definitely is a learning experience!