Phew, I finally feel back to my usual self. Why do these short weeks sometimes seem like the longest? We headed to Minneapolis for the holiday weekend. Visiting family and friends was delightful, but the drive was, well, harrowing. A semi nearly ran us off the road on the way there, and on the return voyage, a car just a few ahead of us hit a bear.
Yes, a bear. In southern Wisconsin, crossing I-94, in broad daylight. Yikes! The people seemed fine, though their Subaru was quite a bit worse for the wear, and the bear looked decidedly no longer animate. I know that climate change has been affecting wildlife patterns in the Upper Midwest, and that wild animals are becoming increasingly comfortable in populated areas (e.g., coyotes now roam the city of Chicago), but this was quite the startling example.
Mmmm... I think the cream cheese ice cream recipe has been perfected!
cream cheese ice cream
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 C. milk (low-fat or skim is fine)
1/3 C. half and half
3/4 T. fresh lemon juice
2/3 C. sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Freeze cream cheese mixture in ice cream maker. I use a basic Cuisinart ice cream maker and run it for 18-20 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 2 hours. Let ice cream soften 5 minutes before serving. Delicious with berries!
We headed up to Wisconsin for some R&R a couple of weekends ago. It ended up being a heat wave! We made it up to the Balanced Rock Trail at Devil's Lake State Park despite the heat, and had a great time.
We look pretty happy despite the heat and mosquitoes, don't we?
A quick stop in Madison on the way home, too, including a walk down the Lakeshore Path and through the Allen Centennial Gardens, one of the most peaceful spots on the UW campus.
More knitting content soon, I promise, as well as another recipe. In the meantime may I recommend a lecture by Alain De Botton -- On Pessimism?
Nothing beats a hearty and healthy bowl of soup on a cold winter's day:
Spicy mulligatawny soup is a tried-and-true favorite recipe from Cooking Light. I started making this soup back when I lived in Madison. My friend A and I took turns making dinner once a week, always making enough for leftovers for both of us to pack in our lunches. We were both working on master's degrees while teaching and were crazy busy -- it was such a treat just to relax, catch up, have a healthy meal, and know that you'd be all set for at least a couple more days. Fast forward a few years, and now she lives just a few blocks down the street (and across the river). We don't have the same set dinner schedule, but I still sometimes stop by her house with a tupperware of soup. :-)
NB: I skip the celery, substitute red bell pepper for green, and slightly up the amounts of carrots and bell pepper to make up for the missing celery.
- The Chrysanthemums mitten pattern in the new Knitty is just too cute. Chrysanthemums always remind me of my grandma Franzie, a true gardener. Her front yard was full of rose bushes, and the back yard was a lush, more casual flower garden (with chrysanthemums, of course). My grandparents joined up with their neighbors to grow a huge plot of vegetables in a co-op garden a short walk away. My mouth practically waters as I recall picking peas and eating them right there in the garden and as I remember the crunch of their amazing dill pickles.
- A little piece of Wisconsin in the West Village. Stuhlman's model for this place, the charming but now-closed Cafe Montmartre in Madison, was one of my old haunts.
Yep, a quick weekend trip to Madison, where we watched the Badgers slaughter Austin Peay. Yikes, that was quite the game, not really fair (70-3).
Still, it was a beautiful fall day, full of Wisconsin spirit, Michael's frozen custard, and time spent with friends. My only regret is that we couldn't stay for Obama's speech on Library Mall in Madison.
Despite the craziness of the last couple of weeks (fall quarter has now started), I knit this little Elsie cardigan in Badger red (oops, I mean Knit Picks hollyberry). The crocheted loops at the hems are a cute detail, and they are very easy to do. Great, clear pattern by Jane Richmond. I just need to find buttons! Then I'll take better pictures. Our new apartment, while delightful in many other respects, doesn't have nearly as great of light as our old place, so photography is much more of a challenge now. On a related note, I have quite the knitting backlog to blog.
Besides being perfect for knitting, Badgers football, and long walks amidst the leaves, fall is perfect for tea. I found the Pumpkin Ginger Tea at World Market -- very nice, but best when made with 2 tea bags, especially if you're using a mug rather than a dainty tea cup (we're not really dainty people chez Caffeinated Yarn). The loose-leaf Bourbon Vanilla Kusmi tea, which I picked up in Paris, is absolutely amazing! Highly recommended -- I think there's a Kusmi tea shop in NYC here in the states, too.
The movers come tomorrow, and I'm paying the penalty now for spending the weekend with my new best friend: Paul and I attended one of the nicest weddings ever this past weekend. It took place at the bride's family's home in the rolling hills west of Madison, in Wisconsin's beautiful Driftless Region. Horses, dogs, local craft-brewed beers, Wisconsin cheese, plenty of sunshine and flowers... heavenly. Paul had a tough time coaxing me back into the Jeep to return to Chicago!
Old Man Winter sent us about a foot of snow on Tuesday. Paul worked from home, and we took made the most of it by going for a midday walk around our neighborhood and a quick jaunt to the Southport Grocery and Cafe for lunch (mmm... the grilled mushroom/spinach/brie sandwich is to die for).All this wintry weather has been perfect for curling up under my giant granny square afghan with a good book (currently The Children's Book, by A.S. Byatt). I'm still weaving in ends, but that hasn't stopped me from enjoying it. I would have liked to make it a little larger, but I ran out of yarn. Man, this project truly was a yarn-eater.
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky, various colors, countless skeins Hook: Clover Soft Touch "J" Size: 44" x 44" (unblocked)
I'd love to start another big crochet project, but my stash just isn't up for it. I prefer machine-washable yarn, as the prospect of hand washing a giant blanket fills me with dread. I just don't have that much yarn in the same weight, in coordinating colors, in the proper amount. Time to visit the knitting shop?!? :-)
Last weekend's trip to Madison with our friends for the Camp Randall Winter Classic outdoor hockey game was fabulous. One of the best weekends ever, plus the Badgers beat the Wolverines!
keeping warm at the game
In less than 36 hours we managed to visit: - State St. Brats - Capital Brewery - Great Dane Pub/Microwbrewery - Genna's Lounge - Sunroom Cafe - Lakeside Fibers/Coffee Room (great view of Lake Monona) - New Glarus Brewery, which has a beautiful new building
We went to the Wicker Park location of Jerry's for lunch, and it was fabulous -- a dizzying array of delicious vegetarian sandwich combinations. So many veggies and cheeses, YUM!
I'm missing out on Wisconsin Sheep & Wool this year, as my budget just can't take two big crafty events in one weekend. This is especially sad since I drank our last Spotted Cow (available only in WI) as I typed this post. Stitches Midwest is this weekend, too, but I'm not one for convention centers.
Despite the gorgeous weather, fall is most definitely in the air here. Some trees along Lakeshore Drive are changing color, I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season this morning, and I cast on for a new sweater: Francis Revisited (rav), à la Sarah. I just couldn't resist, and the Eco Wool has been hibernating in my stash for a couple of years already. Plus the designer is both a Midwesterner and a grad student, in the humanities, no less. It's good to support our genus. :-)
Speaking of designs, here's a teaser of a baby sweater design I'm working on. I need to do some tweaking and knit up a second version, so it may be a couple weeks before I release it.
A cup of coffee, a new knitting project, and a snuggly kitty at my side... The Tiffany blue yarn is well on its way to becoming Damson, Ysolda's first pattern release from Whimsical Little Knits 2. Lots of garter stitch made this great car knitting over the weekend as we traveled around Wisconsin. I'm using the Plucky Knitter's merino superwash fingering weight in "Audrey" (aptly named, indeed).
Madison was awesome, as usual. Super hot pizza at Paisan's, Spotted Cow and a live band on the Union Terrace, a Brewers victory, and lots of family togetherness.
Madison truly has the best farmer's market. All around our beautiful State Capitol. We didn't get there quite as early as we should have, though, so it was awfully busy. After 9 am it slows to a snail's pace, but it's still worth it.
As summer draws to a close, so many wonderful new knitting patterns are being released:
- Multnomah at Hello Knitty (free) - rav- I'm picturing it knit up in my Plucky Knitter Container Garden merino/silk
Pattern: Autumn Leaves, by Nikki Van De Car Yarn: RYCCashsoftDK, 1.5 skeins Needles: Clover US 4 bamboo circs
Notes: The yoke is so cute and fun to knit! I made the seed stitch button bands 4 stitches wide. The shaping of the body is a bit odd. I looked at versions on Ravelry and decided to cut down on the post-sleeve body increases. The pattern doesn't call for any extra stitches to be cast on after the sleeves are put on waste yarn, so the body seems narrow. And the sleeves seem very big! I think it will actually be a very cute almost puffed-sleeve effect. It might work out a bit better to do as one Raveler did and switch to basically a February Baby Sweater at the sleeve divide. I spent 99 cents total for all 6 of these buttons at JoAnn. They're pretty much perfect, in that they're machine washable and they have a shank, which is always easier for me to sew onto handknits.
And then there were two... Another Packers hat, this time for my brother-in-law, who's turning 30 this weekend.
Speaking of Wisconsin, I'm about to hit the road for a weekend in Madison and Milwaukee. Beer on the Union Terrace, browsing the farmers' market, coffee and knitting at Lakeside Fibers, a family picnic, a Brewers game... should be great fun.
I picked up this cute little hand-embroidered pouch from Tiny Happy's etsy shop, and I wasn't quite sure what to do with it at first. I couldn't resist, since the embroidery reminded me so much of my grandmother, an inveterate crafter who had a penchant for bedecking projects with little brown-eyed Susans and daisies. Anyway, the pouch turned out to be just perfect for packing jewelry for my trips this summer. I put the little individual boxes and bags within.
Last week was rough chezCaffeinated Yarn. Here's the score:
food poisoning: 1
Due to my "trick stomach" I haven't had coffee since last Monday. This is a new record; I haven't gone this long without the magical bean juice since I was 15. But I'm finally feeling much better. For a while there I was too sick even to read or knit. The horror!
The shopping, baking, and gift wrapping are almost complete. We're making the cold, snowy trek to Minneapolis on the 24th. Let's hope that Old Man Winter cooperates.
I cast on an extra 20 stitches to get a bit more length. I only worked 13 short rows on each side, as I was needlessly afraid of running out of yarn again.
The "apple green" Malabrigo was just too bright for me in the end. I picked up this soft angora-blend yarn at Lakeside Fibers on a day trip to Madison. It's one of my favorite yarn stores, especially on a cold wintry day when you can relax with a cup of delicious coffee while looking out upon beautiful Lake Monona. Madison, oh how I miss you! Someday I'll be back... unless Boulder or Portland steals my heart, that is.
Wearing this scarf is like snuggling with a bunny's soft tummy. Heavenly!
I couldn't resist knitting yet another Owl Hat. I've even used this exact yarn before (Patons Classic Wool Merino, grey mix). It's fun to knit every time. This one's for my brother-in-law, who has demonstrated a surprising appreciation for handknits in the past.
2006 cookie of the day:Kanelkakor (Swedish Walnut-Cinnamon Cookies)
Here's one of my friends from the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival last weekend: I had a marvelous time, petting sheep and angora rabbits, and buying far more yarn that I actually need. I even watched an angora rabbit get a thorough shearing by Janice Becker of Kimmet Croft! It was one of the cutest things ever. I was so dazzled I didn't even think to get out my camera. I wasn't so dazzled that I forgot to pick up some Kimmet Croft Fairy Hare yarn, though. It's a kit for a Bohus "Blue Shimmer" hat. Foolish me, I assumed that the kit would have the pattern. It does not, and now I need to find a copy of Poems of Color. Sigh...
Briar Rose is one of my favorite vendors, and I picked up a big skein of Charity to knit a Liesl for myself. I know, I had swatched with the DB Alpaca Silk in my stash, but I'm worried about stretchiness and itchiness. And I found the perfect buttons! The blue-green ones in the middle are for Liesl, the brown ones on the left are for my cranberry FLS (still sleeve-less), and I just couldn't resist the green ones on the right.
My car knitting:
An easy-peasy Sunday Market Shawl in Manos Silk Blend (pewter). I cast on 38 stitches rather than 30, since I have plenty of yarn and wouldn't mind a slightly larger finished item. I'm just about done with the second skein, and I'm not sure whether to break into the third or not. The pattern calls for 200 yards of Cash Iroha, and I'm almost done with 300 of the Silk Blend. Decisions, decisions...
Easy and delicious! Unlike many granola recipes, you don't add any oil/butter. The liquid comes from pumpkin puree, applesauce, and maple syrup. This is a great way to use up all the bits and bobs of dried fruit and nuts that clutter up my kitchen. I used dried cherries, raisins, and cranberries for the fruit, plus a mixture of chopped pecans, slivered almonds, and sliced almonds. It smells delicious as it bakes.
I'm packing up for yet another Midwest weekend getaway -- a trip to Minnesota to see my family. Have to fit it all in before the fall quarter insanity begins!
Magic loop, that is. I can't believe I waited so long to try this technique. Not only does it seem faster, it also seems easier on my hands and wrists. The pattern is Dublin Bay Socks, and the yarn is DIC Smooshy that I absolutely couldn't resist because of the colorway's name -- in vino veritas. Yep, the combination of Latin and yarn is like a siren's song. Plus Dream in Color is dyed locally right here in Illinois. Inspired by Sarah's Knit Local project, I'm making an effort to support local yarn producers. There's even a Ravelry group.
Kylie has been a little pissed that I've been buckling down on my diss. proposal before the new quarter starts. I've been taking up her valuable office chair space! BTW, the study/yarnville reorganization project went swimmingly. I'll post pics soon.