Sunday, November 27, 2011


I found these sweet mercury glass owls at West Elm, and one is now perched at the top of our built-in bookcases, wisely surveying the living-room realm.
Don't they remind you a bit of Bubo from Clash of the Titans?
Very classy. And shiny. Because those two qualities go hand in hand.

I'm also in love with these flannel sheets that my mum gave me for early Christmas:
What a cheery fair isle motif!
I spotted this beautiful, cozy throw at Pottery Barn:

Now that's a pattern that I can unvent! A garter stitch blanket with a crochet shell edging? Easy as pie. I may frog my overly bulky (and unflattering) Oatmeal Pullover and use the beautiful bird's egg Quince & Co. yarn for this. The PB version is knit in acrylic, of course, so Quince & Co. wool would be about a thousand steps up.
What did we spot on our drive back to Chicago?

In Wisconsin Dells, on a Jeep, of course. <3

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving training

We're slowly but surely getting settled into our new digs. I'm loving the built-in bookcases (especially since our bookshelves couldn't make it out of the basement in our last place -- yeah, that's an unexpected downside to assembling three tall bookcases in situ).

Most of my knitting supplies are still inaccessible. At first I was excited about the challenge of being creative about using the yarn I actually could reach. Then I finished the main section of this cozy crochet baby blanket, only to discover that I couldn't find the contrast yarn for the edging... Doh!  Unpacking and organizing the craft stuff is on the agenda for after Thanksgiving. 
Speaking of Thanksgiving, I'm in training today -- savory pumpkin pie and cranberry juice for lunch. Yum! OK, it's really more like a quiche.
savory pumpkin and onion quiche

caramelized onions
1-2 T. olive or vegetable oil
 4 C. thinly sliced onions
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried thyme

9" pie crust -- I follow Martha's instructions, but you could easily use a premade crust
1 C. grated Gruyere cheese
1 C. milk
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground dry mustard
1 C. pumpkin puree (I use canned)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a dutch oven or heavy skillet, heat the oil on med-low heat. Add onions and saute for 15 min., stirring frequently. Stir in salt, sugar, and thyme. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and cook for about 15 more minutes, until the onions are caramelized --- they should be golden and sweet, nearly falling apart. Add the pepper and saute another 5 min.

Spread onions across bottom of pie crust. Sprinkle cheese on top of the onions. Whisk together milk through dry mustard. Blend in pumpkin. Pour mixture over cheese in crust.

Bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F, and bake 45-50 min. more, or until pie filling has set and tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
PSA for Chicago 'peeps

Wishing each and every one of you a very happy (and relaxing) Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2011

going great guns

Oodles of knitting have taken place around these parts in the last few days -- partly because I did something funny to my foot and had to stay off of it for a little while, and partly because this chilly weather called for some serious sofa-tea-yarn-cat snuggling-tv time.
Finally blocked the Whirligig Shrug!  This is a baby shower gift, though I'm a bit nervous that the yarn bled so much when I washed it. The pattern is very fun, and the finishing is fairly minimal, which I love. Without a model, the back looks a little cuter than the front, but all the modeled versions on Ravelry look absolutely adorable.
pattern: whirligig shrug, by Stefanie Japel
yarn: the plucky knitter mcn lite, "pretty pretty pola," 1 skein (230 yds)
needles: Clover US 5 bamboo circs
size: 6 months

Speaking of Stefanie Japel... she has a new pattern as a bonus in the Deep Fall 2011 issue of Knitty -- the shapely boyfriend cardigan. I'm not too fond of the name (as it sounds as if your boyfriend's the shapely one, which just seems wrong somehow), but the cardigan looks very versatile and practical. Plus it calls for O-Wool Classic, which I just happen to have in the stash (in a lovely shade of blue, to boot).
The puerperium cardigan is not just off the needles, but already blocked!
Now to find the perfect buttons. I'm torn between bright red buttons that would make quite the impact and dark brown wooden buttons, the classier and more subtle option. I need 7 of them, so this necessitates a shopping trip, as there's no chance that my button jar is up for the task.

Last night I joyfully knit the last row of the live oak shawlette only to discover that it's highly unlikely that I'll have enough yarn to bind off. Déjà vu...
We'll see how long it takes me to trek to a yarn store to find another skein of Tosh Merino Light in ginger... I predict that this will linger in ye olde knitting basket for a while, as these next couple of weeks are going to be busy.
in the kitchen

Two recent recipe successes!
Yum! The perfect autumn breakfast. I threw in 1/4 C. of raisins and dried cranberries with the oats, and I put the whole batch into a medium-sized casserole dish and didn't bother with ramekins.

- leslie's snicker-doodle brownies
I upped the baking time and they were still a little underdone, but otherwise quite delicious and awesome.
material world
I am seriously jonesing after the elton chair from West Elm. I'm not sure that it's practical (hello! haven't I learned any lessons from my cut velvet sofa?), but I love the lines, the tufted back, and how it manages to be whimsical yet casual yet sophisticated. Plus it comes in both peacock blue and light steel blue...

Anyone have experience with West Elm furniture? Is it fairly well made and durable? (I think Paul would be thrilled to hear you say that it's cheap, rickety crap, since this chair is more up my alley than his.)

cute winter hats from anthro:

It may be time to "unvent" a pattern or two...

Sunday, November 06, 2011

lazy Sunday

"Falling back" has led to a day of perfect relaxation. I started off my lazy Sunday by casting off a puerperium cardigan (pictures soon!), then meeting friends for brunch at Milk & Honey Cafe, my favorite brunch spot in Chicago. Something about that place reminds me of Madison -- maybe it's the low-key vibe?

I just may have stopped by Nina and picked up a skein of this:
 (madelinetosh merino light in ginger)

and the fall 2011 issue of knitscene to make one of these:

(live oak shawlette, by Romi Hill)

as well as some buttons for my mum's Shalom cardigan:

Not only that, but I'm in the midst of a blocking frenzy. I predict a plethora of FO posts in the near future...

Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday fluff -- no knitting involved

Enjoy anthropologie's boho style but scoff at the "made in china" labels and the ridiculous price tags?  Me too. Anthroparodie may be right up your alley, as well (tip o' the hat to better living through literature).
I'm 100% not a member of the hair-and-nails set (nor do I "read" People or Us Weekly, ugh), but I've recently discovered a few things that drastically improve my everyday life. After the rough past month, I'm happy to take delight in whatever I can.
The Wet Brush is revolutionizing my morning routine. I have long, straight, tangle-prone hair -- it used to take me AGES to detangle in the morning. This brush is awesome -- it plows right through all the tangles in record time, leaving my hair shiny and bouncy. I suspect that the Wet Brush is the same as the Regency Magic Brush that Mindy Kaling blogged about recently -- just branded differently and priced more reasonably.
Smashbox Photo Op Under Eye Brightener is amazing. I'm pretty low-maintenance, but I do usually wear some make-up, with the goal of looking like I'm not wearing make-up, but looking better than I would if I really didn't wear make-up. Most under-eye concealers have a yucky texture, irritate my sensitive skin, or look funny. Photo Op actually makes it looks as if I got a full night's sleep and am ready to take on the world!  Smashbox's Photo Finish makeup primer is terrific, too -- it leaves your skin velvety and prevents make-up from caking or collecting in your laugh lines or eye crinkles.
Whole Foods Pomegranate Orange lip balm moisturizes, smells great, and is incredibly affordable (under $2, I think). You know how some lip balms seem refreshing at first, but then dry out and leave your lips feeling even worse?  This doesn't do that. It actually works!