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Friday, July 20, 2012

For the Love of Figs

Thanks to the continuous rain throughout most of July, I've had a bumper-crop of figs.

Many of them went straight into my mouth after a quick wash.  

Some of them went into a scrumptious Buttermilk Coffee Cake.

NOTE: This pic is from the recipe page you'll find in the linky.  While my version (substituting figs for raisins) looked very similar to this, it didn't last long enough to take a picture.  Yes, this recipe is THAT good!

Some figs were eaten for breakfast with granola and plain Greek yogurt, and for dinner on a salad with grilled chicken, arugula and Gorgonzola crumbles.  Again, no pic. . . . they were just tooo good!

And finally, the pièce de résistance,  my favorite dessert of summer: Fresh Fig Tart with Rosemary Cornmeal Crust & Lemon Mascarpone Cream

The only modification I make is to use plain Greek yogurt (I love that stuff!) instead of sour cream, and red plum jelly instead of currant jelly.  It is so delicious that every time I make this I eat about half of it all by myself.

Do you have any favorite summer desserts?  Please share a link in the comments below!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Let There Be Squash!

Although it's been quite balmy today, I have to say that this spring has been completely loverly!

There has been enough rain that I've not had to water any of the trees we planted in January.  And there is a great bumper crop of greens!!  Not only do we eat salad and sauteed greens several times a week, but I've also provided a monstrous salad to feed about 25 people - Twice!

The tomato plants aren't too happy with all the rain we've been getting.  They're usually hip-high & in bloom by now.  I just pray we don't get a sudden monstrous heat wave Southeast Texas is known for that kills them before we even have a chance to put up a batch or ten of Pasta Sawce. . .

However.  There.  Will.  Be.  Squash.

So much squash that after Princess #2 reported 85 blossoms, she stated, "Well, I guess it's time for me to learn to really like squash. . . "

And oh, the figs!  How I love figs!!  The branches are just loaded this year - I can't wait to breakfast on Greek yogurt, fresh figs & local honey.  Then I'll make a Fresh Fig Tart with Rosemary Cornmeal Crust and Lemon Mascarpone Cream.  Maybe a batch or two of homemade Italian Fig Cookies.  And, of course, there'll be Fresh Fig Ice Cream. . .

That is, if I don't eat them all before they make into the mixing bowl. . . 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 4 - A Knitter for All Seasons

Although I am a transplanted Yankee, I consider myself a Southern Gal. . . except when it's time to change the calendar from September to October.  This is when I long for the cool nights that magically turn leaves from green to glorious shades of orange, yellow, crimson & maroon.  I dream of wrapping up in a cozy cardigan as I venture out to enjoy the sights and smells of autumn.

Instead, the A/C is running.  If everything is not green, the heat and lack of rain has turned it brown.  Temperatures are still between 80 and 90 degrees, often warmer.  Plus there's the humidity.  So instead of turtlenecks & tights, it's t-shirts and flip-flops.

When December rolls around, I sing "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" and genuinely mean it.  I would actually be happy to be able to wear a bona fide sweater.  I rarely add a scarf - historically, the average temperature during the holidays is 68*F.  January is our coldest month here in Southeast Texas, typically dipping into the 50's.  Sometimes we're lucky and get an occasional freeze.  When it's raining it feels colder, and this is when I get to break out the "woolens".  For me this means layering a sweater or cardigan over a light turtleneck, wearing tights under my skirt and topping it off with a warmer shawl or mobius wrapped around my neck and shoulders.  

Yet I knit.  Year round.

While I do have a few sweaters, I have learned to love lace.  A lot.

Plus, there are always socks.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 2 - My Knitting Hero

This is one topic I have thought about the most.  Who could I name that would qualify as my "hero"?  Who has inspired me to take two sticks and some string and create the things I do?

I really couldn't say that any one designer or podcaster (I listen to QUITE a few!) is the One I Want to be When I Grow Up.

While both my mother and paternal grandmother crochet, and my sister will only knit a stockinette scarf (leaving me to block), I am the only person in my family who is a Knitter.  I do not belong to a knitting group or guild, and often feel like the Lone Ranger of Knitting.

The more I thought this over, the more I was convinced.  My Knitting Hero is: Ravelry.  This is more than just an online database of more patterns than any one person could ever knit in a lifetime.  This is about more than what kind of yarn goes best with which project.  It's about community.

It doesn't really matter if you are just learning to knit or you are a Lifelong Knitter or Crocheter.  You will find the support you need.  To get you through the loss of a pet, sibling, parent or spouse.  To encourage you during times of unemployment - even sending goodies your way to brighten your day!  

It's a place that doesn't discriminate against age, race or gender.  A place for budding designers to try their wings.  A place to find encouragement to start (and finish!) your first lace project.  A place to find 37 yards of an obscure, now discontinued merino blend so you can finish your mother-in-law's sweater before Christmas.  

This community of more than 2 million is what inspires me to be not only a better knitter, but also a better person.

So to the folks of Ravelry - Thank you for being my hero.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 2: Photography Challenge

I was excited when I read that Day 2 of KCBW is a Photography Challege!  I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  The last image from yesterday's post was of my Sarasota Shawl, a crescent-shaped shawl progressing from linen stitch to lace medallions to fern leaf edging.

Here's the pic again, in case any of you missed it!   = )
Let me take some time to explain the inspiration behind it. . .

It all started with scoring some absolutely gorgeous hand-dyed roving from one of my fave indy dyers, Unwind Yarn Company.  The colorway was called "Sarasota" & instantly took me to a place of blue skies, sandy beaches & lush, green palms.  Every time I sat down to spin, I pretended to be wiggling my toes in the white sand.

Once the yarn was all plied & finished, I though it might be a good idea to see what Sarasota was really like.  My Google search led me to find the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, where their goal is to "understand and conserve tropical plants."  Looking through the pictures on their website made me want to book a flight that day - the variety & beauty is simply stunning.  The one thing that really caught my interest was the collection of epiphytes in the rainforest habitat.  There were dainty little ferns growing on the branches of the trees.  I love the lushness of the huge ferns that grace the front porches of so many southern homes.  I thought about those miniature ferns  for the next few days. . .

The following Friday I was playing in a local park with my youngest Princess and noticed that the oak trees were beginning to leaf out.  Imagine my excitement when I looked up and saw:  Tiny.  Little.  Ferns.  Growing.  On.  The.  Branches.    !!!

I am certain at least one mother grabbed her precious little one as she said, "Come on, honey, we have to go now.  There's a crazy lady here. . . "

I only had my iPhone with me, but the lighting was just right & I ended up with several frame-able (IMHO) shots. . . . .

All of this has led up to this moment.  The moment I share with you, Dear Readers, the following:

It is my favorite thing to wear right now.  The mornings here have been chilly, so it stays on the arm of the couch so I can grab it on my way out to enjoy my morning coffee on the front porch.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Knitting & Crochet Week - Day 1: Color Lovers

This week is the 3rd annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week!  Since my blog has been mostly about fiber crafts I decided to play along.

Added bonus:  Maybe I'll actually get my blogging mojo going & have regular posts. . . ahem.

Today is all about color.  What we love.  What we don't love.  What inspires us to create.

For me, inspiration always comes from nature.

It is well-known around these parts that a manicure is wasted on me.  I'd rather be digging in the dirt, turning the compost or picking veggies - and I despise wearing gloves.

I like to enjoy my first cuppa on the front porch, listening to & watching the world wake up around me.

This spring, it seems to be all about the green.  I'm certain that going through the Great Drought of 2011 has affected my perspective.  It seems that everywhere I look, I see at least a dozen vibrant shades of green.  Perfect to showcase the new life abounding this spring.

Even the little caterpillars are green!

This spring has inspired many ideas, sketches, swatches and more. . . 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Two More Projects

Not much has changed since the last post. . . I have two orders to finish instead of three!  Pics to come after blocking.

Speaking of blocking, I was quite frustrated with trying to block knitted-in-the-round pieces & was at a loss.  Until Ruth, from Rock + Purl, posted this fabulous tutorial on how to block seamless garments.  Just in the nick of time.

Speaking of Ruth from Rock + Purl, has anyone ever heard how much I am in love with Glacial?

I.  Must.  Knit.  This.

In a dark chocolate brown.

Maybe that should be a reward incentive to get all the things knitted. . .

There's the two items mentioned above, plus socks for Princess #1, Ethereal Shawl for my MIL (that I thought was for me.), and my sister's b-day hat (her b-day was Friday. . . )

Speaking of Sister's B-Day Hat, I finished plying the yarn tonight.  So proud that I actually spun all 409 yards longdraw!  Most of it is a nice, soft worsted-ish weight.  Little bits here and there are a bit thicker, and others are a bit thinner.  Overall, it's quite nice!

I spun it from a blended batt of merino/silk/angelina I got from Crystal Creek Fibers in the Apricot colorway. It will soon be made into the fabulous Side Slip Cloche by Laura Irwin.

After I finish those two other projects. . .