Yarn from Alaska

Last year, at this time we were in Alaska!

While we were in Skagway, we went to Changing Threads so I could get some yarn. I ended up with two skeins of sock yarn from Rabbit Ridge.

In November I took a great toe up sock class at Stitch Your Art Out.  And I started two pairs of socks that have been sitting for a bit.  The first pair is with the Fire skein.

The pattern is really easy to follow and it was great having the help of the instructor and my classmates. I feel confident that I can continue on my own.  And, they knit up pretty quickly (for me).

The only reason that I haven’t finished either pair of socks is that I got too eager and started a few other projects at the same time. I think that once it gets cool again, there will be more of an incentive to actually finish them. Until then, they are a work in progress.

sockI doubt the skein of Camo will become socks. But it will be a bit before I get to it.

Pineapple and Black Bean Quesadillas

We needed a quick dinner tonight because I went running with a friend and Mike was working in the yard after work. I got home close to 7:00 and we both needed to shower before we could even start cooking.  And we were both so hungry.

These quesadillas were inspired by the Black Beanie Quesadeenie at Mad Mex. It is so good and I have no idea how they make it but this is how we made ours.

I drained and rinsed a can of black beans and microwaved them for about 45 seconds just so they’d be easy to mash.  I seasoned them with some chili powder, cumin and cayenne.

Black beans and pineappleThen I poured in a can of crushed pineapple. I know it’s not fresh but this is about being quick and we needed the juice to help with the mashing. In the past, we’ve also used chunks from a can and diced them up but used a bit of the juice just to make sure the mixture isn’t dry.  And I mash with a potato masher but not until it’s just soup. I like there to be some whole beans left in the mixture.

Then we make quesadillas!  So the black bean mixture is not pretty.  But it tastes good, I swear.

Quesadilla 1

This is some blend of Mexican cheese.

Quesadilla 2Quesadilla 3Quesadilla 4It really tastes so good combining the smokey spices with sweet pineapple and the slightly salty cheese.

close up Mike says they’re almost as good as our favorite, but much more time consuming, black bean dinner – Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas. And those are heavenly but this is great on a night like tonight.  We had ours with a salad and it was perfect.

Project intermission

Since I finished my Sunday Market Shawl, you’d think I’d have been inspired to finish another project currently sitting on my needles.

Instead, I decided to look through my Ravelry queue for a quick project. I came across the Cable Braided Necklace and I had just the yarn for it in my stash. Probably sometime in 2003, I decided I was going to be a knitter again and bought a few skeins of yarn to knit a hat.  Last year I finally frogged the hat and I decided to use the yarn which is made by Froehlich Wolle and my best guess is that it is the Blauband Regenbogen based on locating the coordinating thread.

StripAnyway, this project is supposed to be quick. One Ravelry project page had notes that said it took an hour to knit up. Well, just like everything else in life, I am pretty slow at knitting.  It took me about two hours (some spent on the phone) to do one strip and I’ll hopefully get to the other strip one night this week.  It looks good though and it is quick for me!

Finished: Everyday is like Sunday

I finished my Sunday Market shawl. I really like this pattern a lot.  I will likely make another one someday as it was quick and easy when I was working on it.  I think it might be a great pattern to use as a gift.

Here are some finished pictures.

SundaySunday tooAnd this is my running out to the grocery store/wet hair look.  I would not wear it with this outfit but at least you can see how big it turned out.

Shawl

We cooked on a Friday

We typically do not cook dinner on Fridays.  A lot of times we are out with friends and get something, eat leftovers, or order pizza.  So when we do cook on a Friday, it feels so weird and special.

We sort of screwed up Wednesday’s dinner plan by forgetting to defrost the pork tenderloin so we decided to make it tonight. We made Pork Tenderloin with Apricot Mustard with Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta with Roasted Asparagus as a side.

My plateI don’t really love pork. But this recipe is perfect.  It gets a crispy sweet glaze on the outside that is perfect. We’ve found that going heavier on the apricot preserves and lighter on the mustard makes it the perfect amount of sweetness.  Also, we don’t roast the apricots or leave the glaze for dipping. We just put more on the tenderloin when we flip it halfway through the broiling time.

The pasta (we didn’t have cavatappi but farfalle worked just fine) alone could be dinner but this way we have plenty of leftovers, especially since Sunday night is my knitting night with friends and a quick dinner works out well.

Almost there

My Sunday Market Shawl is nearing completion.

Two nights ago I finished the knitting along with all the drop stitches.  Reading through the notes, I was a little nervous that the stitches wouldn’t drop easily. But not only did I knit it correctly, but it also unraveled very easily. I guess with some really fuzzy yarn, it takes a while.  It took about one OnDemand episode of How the States Got Their Shapes. (Everyone should watch this show.)

Unravel OneUnravel TwoIt seemed a little weird to be pulling apart my work but it really made for a loose, drapey shawl.  But it was all curly and needed blocking to show off those dropped stitches.  So that’s what I did tonight.

Curly

I am not the neatest blocker but this really doesn’t need a really strict blocking with perfectly straight edges.  It just needs to be stretched and keep the sides from curling.

BlockingCan’t wait to see the finished product!

The Guys!

These are our guys.  We adopted them on Friday, April 13th from Centre County PAWS and it feels like we’ve had them forever.

This is Chica Barnfell.

Chica BarnfellShe is a little six pound tortie who will be two in August.  She’s miniature – a perma-kitten. As a result, she’s called Chica but she also goes by Peanut and Nugget and a variety of nicknames of those three names.

She also has this respiratory issue where she snorts and wheezes a lot. They had her checked out a variety of ways and we are assured that she’s fine. The vet suspects that she had a cold or other infection as a kitten and as a result, her respiratory system didn’t fully develop. But she can run and keep up with the other kitty so that’s all that matters.  Plus, the way she snores is kind of adorable.

This is Butler Lynn Belvedere.

Butler Lynn BelvedereHe’ll be one in August and he’s already bigger (especially longer) than Chica and probably weighs about ten pounds.  He is the goofiest kitty.  When he’s playing, he makes these sloppy but slick moves that make him seem like a comic ninja.

Butler is big on toys.  He carries them all over the house in his mouth. When we adopted him, they gave us a bag of his toys and he came to us with a little yarn pom pom that we called Rainbow Guy. Poor Rainbow Guy has slowly died all over the house. So recently, I grabbed some yarn scraps and made them tons of new toys.

pom pomsHere is Chica snuggling up to a new toy in her bed.

Snuggly ChicaAnd here’s a bonus of Butler, ignoring his toys, and trying to hunt bugs outside the window.  Look how long he is!  Plus, see how he is being naughty but it is sort of adorable and hysterical?  Yeah, that’s how cats get away with doing things you’d never allow anyone else to do because they are too cute.

Butler Acrobat

Here is a history of their closeness.  They were mere acquaintances that first day or two.

First interactionPlaying

Then they slowly got closer.Breaking bread

Grooming

And now they sort of do everything together when they are awake.Being Nosy In a little over two months, I am confident that they are super tight. They both clean each other now regularly.  The next buddy milestone I’m looking forward to is finding them sleeping with each other.

And here is the most recent shot of the buddies. If they were a celebrity couple, they’d be ButChic.
Buddies

North Carolina Local Yarn Store Visits

One of the best parts of traveling regularly is getting to visit new places, see new things and meet new people. If I am somewhere and find myself with some free time, I try a new local yarn store.

I’ve made it to Great Yarns in Raleigh twice in a little over a year. Last year’s yarn turned into a bunch of baby bibs for the 2010 babies.  The buttons are from my local yarn store Stitch Your Art Out.

This past trip to Great Yarns yielded one skein of Malabrigo Lace in Amoroso (157). I’ve already purchased a pattern for this yarn and it’s a few projects down in the queue.

Malabrigo Lace

Malabrigo Lace

What is awesome about Great Yarns is they wound the skein for me!  I don’t know if this is a really common thing as I really haven’t visited that many stores but this is only the second store (the other was Knitting to Know Ewe in Bucks County, PA) that I’ve been to where they offered to wind it for me and it is such a treat.  I don’t have a swift or anything fancy.  I either have a reluctant volunteer hold up their hands (although my reluctant volunteer has gotten really good at saying know now that he knows how long it can take) or I sit with the skein around my knees and roll a ball.  So it is such a treat to get to work immediately.

I also had some time while I was heading out of Asheville to stop by Yarn Paradise.

One of the things I like to do when I get to visit a local yarn store is see if they have a selection of local yarns.  This store had a small selection (the Raleigh store didn’t have any but said their sister store in Chapel Hill had some) but as I wasn’t a huge fan of the yarn, I ended up with a pretty skein of Ella Rae Lace Merino.  I am in love with the colors as they are a rainbow but not so bright.  I am sure I’ll find some kind of scarf for it.

Ella Rae Lace Merino

Ella Rae Lace Merino

Skirt Steaks with Deconstructed Guacamole

Tonight we made one of our favorite summer meals, Rachael Ray’s Skirt Steaks with Deconstructed Guacamole.

We altered the recipe by using a London broil.  We also marinated it for two hours.  And, per usual, omitted the onions. I avoid them in all forms crunchy.

some ingredinetsI like this dinner because it’s colorful and the marinade is great – I’d use it on it’s own. Also, grilling the avocado makes it even creamier.

My Plate

On my needles

What isn’t on my needles is probably a better question.

I have six projects going right now (I’ll talk about the ones that are hibernating another time) and one that really should be cast on and knit as there is a baby coming in a month who I want to have a pair of booties!

The most active projects are three scarves that I am so excited to wear. Each serve a different purpose. The first is a Fishtail Lace Scarf which is being made with Kauni Effekt.

Fishtail Lace Scarf in Kauni Effekt

Fishtail Lace Scarf in Kauni Effekt

This is going to be my most colorful project yet. I’ve had the yarn in my stash for over a year and finally feel that I’ve discovered the pattern that will show off the rainbow best and in a way that I’ll be able to wear a lot. This is a wool that’s a little rough on the hands so delicate people might complain about it.  I love it and love the gradual color changes. This is my project that requires my attention and I can do it when I want to only concentrate on my knitting.

My next scarf in progress is a Boneyard Shawl made out of Wolle’s Yarn Creations Color Changing Yarn.

Color Changing Boneyard

Color Changing Boneyard

I chose this pattern for this stranded cotton yarn to really show off the changes. I saw a few others on Ravelry also made from this yarn and I love the way they turned out.  This is a perfect scarf for summer so I really need to speed it up and it’s an easy pattern and great for mindless TV knitting or knitting in a group.

The other scarf in progress is a Sunday Market Shawl.

Sunday Market Shawl

Sunday Market Shawl

I travel quite a bit for work and last month, when I was in Vermont, I was able to stop at the Northeast Fiber Arts Center in Williston when I had a half hour of free time. They have a whole display of yarn they’ve dyed in the store. Last year when I was there I discovered the shop and bought some of their store-dyed yarn that turned into striped fingerless gloves and so I knew I had to try something else because the colors are so beautiful. This pattern is really interesting because on the last row you drop every two stitches to create a beautiful loose shawl.  I hope it works out (I mean, it should if I followed the pattern properly) because I won’t know until the very end and on it’s own, it’s not very special. This is the easiest knit ever otherwise.  I could do it anywhere with any distraction.