Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I covet yarn

But I can't buy any until I've finished (or made considerable progress on) my multitude of projects. (This is according to Hubs, as I would go without food to purchase yarn.) I've only been knitting for about a year and a half but I've become crazy about it and it consumes much of my thoughts.

Some projects I have completed:

A scarf for Hubs in extrafine merino -- mock cable pattern. This is where I learned that left handed knitters (those of us who use the left needle as our working needle) have to rewrite directional patterns to make sure they flow in the same direction as intended. I still like this scarf.

A basic hat for myself in alpaca (very soft!) although I should have made the band a bit tighter as it's now stretched out a bit.

The Clapotis scarf designed by Kate Gilbert -- in a lovely (and expensive) 50% silk, 50% wool favorite finished product thus far

Fetching gloves by Cheryl Niamath
-- this was my first real cable project and very quick and fun to knit. The pattern calls for a single ball of Debbie Bliss cashmerino but it has been updated to say that you may wish to purchase a "just in case" ball. Because I am so cheap I decided that I could only buy one (also knowing that I knit fairly tight) but I became very nervous and thus the second glove was knit much tighter than the first...if you look closely you'll see the right hand glove is a tad bit smaller than the left. (Oh and yes, I had pleanty of left over yarn for my efforts.)

current project list:

bamboo skirt from Knitty
-- which although I love it looks wise, is a tad dull to knit (st st for the most part) which is why it's not finished
mini-afghan for niece's baptism present
-- purling the whole thing (for a looser garter stitch....entirely mindless knitting due to proximity of baptism) and using acrylic (which I don't like but it's soft and for ease of wash-ability) in bright colors
squares for blankets for Hands on Nashville project team (knitting on the West Side)
-- these often take precedence as I hate to not have a square finished by the next meeting time, and because I use them as an opportunity to try new techniques

projects started with no end in site as to finishing/may never be finished and ripped out:

two cotton swim suits
-- one was unfortunately stolen by a sweet 9 month old golden retriever during a trip to the dog park and unfortunately was covered in mud. The other was abandoned due to running out of yarn mid-suit and then finding color to be discontinued!
merino lace scarf
-- probably will be finished and given as a present to someone at some time. I love to knit lace, but I've found I most always don't pay enough attention and end up forgetting a yarn over thus resulting in not enough stitches on the needle.
weird silky yarn scarf/I don't know what
-- purchased for my first lace project, started, sucked, started again, sucked, decided just to st st, and then figured out lace midway through. Will be ripped out entirely and something new will be done with it.

projects I am dreaming about starting/project for which I covet yarn:
I have mentally and somewhat on paper begun to design two (well really three, or four, no the last is really not well thought 2 1/2) items which I can't wait to begin knitting (if they turn out decent I may try and get them published...we'll see)
skirt for fall/winter with matching clutch
-- I plan to use a bulky yarn for this (yea quick knitting), but the one I want to use has beautiful drape
formal dress for summer/spring
-- this is going to be knit with fingering weight yarn (I want it to be very light, almost gauzy, I was considering lace weight but thought I may go insane) and thus will take F-O-R-E-V-E-R, but I have a really cool design in mind (well cool in my mind) and I just taught myself a new stitch pattern (thank you HON squares) which will be perfect!
-- in black with cool accents from a trimming store.
a suit (maybe for my PhD defense?)
-- clearly I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here.
Additionally I have a few patterns I want to make:
Teriokhin swing jacket from the Spring '06 Vogue Knitting
-- This calls for worsted weight yarn, but I think I want to knit two strands of fingering weight of different colors together...we'll see how this looks
A sweater for hubs
-- I may knit this in a merino/cotten blend for a bit more warmth. I'll have to carefully examine the pattern to make sure I don't have to switch things for a left handed knitter.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

maybe it's not good to start with food during a fast but......

So it's the middle of the Lenten season and Hubbo (who is not Greek but incredibly supportive) and I are fasting until Easter (Holy Pascha, April 8th.) The traditional Greek Orthodox Lenten calendar calls for most days to be strict fasts which entails not consuming any sort of animal byproduct (this includes dairy and eggs) and no wine and no oil (okay, I can't do the oil part, I just can''s my only concession however.) Now you may be saying to yourself, wait, I know a person of Greek decent and they don't do this whole vegan-esque thing do they? No most of the ones I know (aka the majority of my family) don't either. Or they just don't eat meat. It's pretty tough (and I think being in America tends to make it a bit tougher, impulse wise and more processed foods, less fresh markets, etc.) Nevertheless, I do think I feel really good after, both in body and mind (I think a little suffering is good for the soul) and therefore I think it's worth it.

This Lent my favorite meal has been Roasted Vegetable Soup!

For a while now I've been suplimenting my vegetable soups with chicken stock because I just couldn't get the flavor I required from the veggies alone. So I decided to reference making a vegetable stock and consulted the book How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman (Hubs is a bit obsessed with cook books, so we have an ample supply.) The recipe for stock suggested roasting very roughly cut veggies before boiling them with water to create a more flavorful stock. (This was the point where I slapped my forehead, why couldn't I think of that.)

So instead of making a stock, I figured, I'd just chop my veggies finer, roast them and keep them in the soup. I used pretty much what I had on hand, but feel free to improvize.


onions (about 2 or so)
turnips (2)
leeks (both the white and tender green parts)
zucchini and/or summer squash
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes


olive oil
a good salt (I use Kosher salt because I am too cheep to buy sea salt)
bay leaves
FGP (fresh ground pepper)
cayenne pepper

Slice onions to medium-thinness (1/2 centimeter or so)

in a large flame proof casserole (I used the Le Creuset large oval Dutch Oven -- I think they call it a French Oven haha!) heat a couple of tbsp. of olive oil and caramelize the onions until they are nice and brown. (approx time 30 min. (I did this because during the roasting there is a lot of moisture that comes out of the other veggies that would prevent the onions from becoming as caramelized as I like them.)

While the onions are caramelizing, chop the other veggies to the desired size. After the onions have finished caramelizing toss in the other veggies (minus anything like greenbeans, the canned tomato, and the squashes) coat with oil (add a little more if needed) and roast in the oven (400 degrees) for about an hour turning periodically to make sure all get nice and browned.

Once veggies are nicely roasted, return to stove top and cover them with water (typically 2 quarts or so) and add the can of tomatoes. To this season with bay leaves (notice I said leaves, this means more than 1, I usually add 3 or 4,) salt, pepper, oregano, thyme (I love thyme...I go a bit overboard with it) and cayenne for heat! Simmer to allow flavors to meld.....and your done!

I think that the soup is better the second day, but it is enjoyable right out of the pot.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

the beginning....

First things first.

I am nowhere near divine. I am not pretending that I am. What I've always appreciated about the ancient gods and goddesses, however, is their ability to be both divine and imperfect. It is such a Romantic notion to find perfection in the imperfection. This blog will not be divinely perfect, I am sure it will often be boring, often dull, but like any decent diary hopefully it will have a few interesting things to reflect on.

So who am I? (Who do I think I am? May be a better question.) I am a relatively youngish woman (can I just say here that I hate the prevalence of women/ladies being called "females" this day and age) living in the South (but not native to it) and pursuing my Ph.D. in neuroscience. I promise to try to not bore anyone with ramblings about what I do at work (I say this knowing full well that I will). I am married (here after known as Hubs), no kids (yet), a dog (Penelope, but we call her Penny) a cat (Apollo). (Oh and I really like parentheses.)

My friends, especially my girlfriends from college, have always found me quite amusing when it comes to my extracurricular activities. I've always been a bit domestic. Some of it is fairly self explanatory: food is very important to Greek culture it makes sense for a little Greek girl to grow up in the kitchen with her Mama and Yiayia (grandma -- although my Yiayia really isn't a good cook). Some a little crazy (but in a good way): requesting crystal wine goblets for 16th birthday; baking 12 or so loaves of bread in ones dorm room; driving down the road, one hand on the wheel, one holding a freaking heavy piece of plywood that is hanging out the back of ones car all in the name of making a padded headboard (well that was a bit dangerous). Some I still don't accept as crazy although others have told me that I was: catering the majority of my wedding, doing the flowers, etc.

So this blog is dedicated to the domestic "arts" in my life. The current list is:

knitting (which I have become way too obsessed with as you shall soon see)
sewing (well not really, as I still haven't finished project no. 1)

*photo taken while on tree top walk somewhere in Victoria, Australia