Monday, October 29, 2007

Finally, an update

Hello. I realize that I hardly ever blog anymore. I even lost some readers or maybe it was my cooking posts, who knows! Life has just been busy. I have to update the One Planet blog with new items, and then we have a new One Planet Knitters blog that I also need to post to. But mostly, I have not been spinning or knitting much myself lately. This is changing now that the weather is finally cooling down here. Although it is still a record heat wave. It was 95 degrees yesterday! I mean this is ridiculous.... I have been reading and learning so much about global warming and all the environment changes through groups I am involved with lately and trying to make a lot of changes around my house and in my daily life.

I finally am getting close to the end of knitting this beautiful baby blanket for my friend Andrea who adopted a little boy from Guatemala. I am now just working on the finishing which should be interesting, but not too difficult. I did snap one photo here inside on my couch. The yarn is Plymouth Encore worsted which I chose because I wanted this to be washable and last a long time. I still worry about my hand knitting falling apart though in a washing machine or dryer so I think I will tell Andrea to still handwash this or machine wash on gentle and then airdry outside. That is how I am going to wash it when I am finished. This is the Modern Baby Blanket from the Mason Dixie Book. I really love that book. There are so many things in there I still want to make!

My next project is going to be this vest sweater designed by Jo Sharp in Silkroad DK Tweed yarn in Emerald. I keep trying to get away from greens but then I see a gorgeous yarn like this and I can't resist. The Jo Sharp yarns really are very luxurious, I just love them!! I hope to cast on this week!! I just have to finish the blanket edging........

Well that is the update for the end of October. I hope we have a COLD COLD November. I am dying to get away and might plan a trip to Colorado or Northern California or Oregon, we'll see!

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Friday, August 24, 2007

summer blahs......

In the Phoenix area we now have had over 30 straight days of triple digit heat. It is very hot and it is so hard to ignore. My typical way of dealing with this every summer is to just ignore it, sort of blocking it out psychologically but this year, wow, there is just no way! Right now it is 106 which means it will probably go up to around 112 or 113 today. Also it is humid and we never used to have humidity.

It was SO nice in Taos. I guess I did not blog about that. It was so green and refreshing and full of flowers. What a beautiful place. I definitely am going to go back and spend a good week or or more there. If I could swing it, I would be going back for the wool festival in October, but I don't think I can...... the problem is you have to really fly into Albuquerque and then drive a few hours up to Taos, but we'll see. Definitely next year.......
I thought I'd show some of the photos from Taos and how pretty it is. Some of these are from the grounds of the Old Taos Guesthouse, a B & B where we stayed....

Here is the front entrance of the guesthouse and the really cool back gate which led to where our rooms were, and also a shot of some flower gardens somewhere in Taos. There were so many flowers everywhere and at night, it cooled down to 50 degrees and was just so beautiful.....

We visited LaLana wools. I posted about it on the One Planet Blog. What an amazing amazing store. And the people are just so nice. I can't believe the owner really. I have to say that their yarns and patterns (to me) are really the top of any I have ever seen ANYWHERE. Their designs are just stunning. I can't think of another word. They have an "almost wholesale" program so in the next month we will be getting in some of their yarns and kits, which I can't wait for......... I need to pick out something to make for myself, if only I would get more motivated to knit... We have a few other special things we are going to be working on with LaLana and it is really exciting...... I wish I had the time and space to learn more about natural dyeing because I just find it fascinating and it goes so well with my love of plants and food and all......

Here is a photo of my mom and my sister Jodi in front of La Lana. We were celebrating their respective birthdays, big years for both of them.......

I have to get my motivation back to start knitting. I want to knit. My projects are all organized. I know what I have to finish first and what comes next, but I just can't seem to motivate. I haven't been spinning either, and it is the same story. I want to do it, but I just don't. I could blame it on the triple digit heat or my period I suppose!! What a bad PMS month by the way. A few of you I have emailed about it. There have to be some solutions to this......

I am still enjoying my organic boxes. And the one great thing I have done is stay on my organic diet so that is good. Look at this weird item that came in my box this week. They are called Royal Trumpet Mushrooms....

At first I wasn't sure what to do with it, but then I just treated them like any other mushrooms. I ended up making a fantastic omelette. I just sauteed these sliced up with organic red onions in a bit of olive oil for awhile. I added some chopped fresh dill and a bit of feta cheese. Then I whipped up some organic eggs (which really do taste better by the way) and scrambled it all. It was really incredible to be honest..

This weeks box was not too exotic. I received a beautiful cantaloupe and some more red simka plums. The one thing I have noticed really tastes better than conventional produce are the salad greens. I have been enjoying the red leaf lettuce and baby arugala. I have some sweet onions and zucchini and I am not sure yet what I'll do with those. Zucchini is not one of my most favorite vegetables I have to say, but I am wiling to try. So I think actually I am going to make some pasta tonight that I saw advertised at Trader Joes. It is their new lemon zest papperadelle (not sure I spelled that right) and I will just saute some of these veggies and mix them with the pasta........

If anyone has ideas for how they love zucchinis and sweet onions prepared, let me know. Or if you have a recipe or recipe site you love. I do look at and I like epicurious but some of the recipes are a bit fattening and I am trying really hard to keep things low fat or good fat is more like it! It is funny, so many people email me about the food posts, but you don't leave comments for me here! I'd love some comments friends..... I am glad some others like to eat green as well.....

I hope there will be more knitting posts soon. We are starting a new One Planet Knitters group. It is for people who are on the affiliate program and anyone who wants to make a new project to show off on their blog, gets an added little bonus, so join up if you want......! So anyhow, I have to pick out what project I want to do...... it is hard to decide! I want to do more sweaters but the reality is I don't wear a ton of sweaters but if I can find a light weight one, maybe..... I am waiting for a few new things to come in.......!

Happy weekend!

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

More Food And Cooking

I promise there will be new fiber posts soon. Next weekend, I will be in Taos New Mexico so I plan on going to any fiber / yarn stores around. Any recommendations anyone? The one I am most looking forward to visiting (that I know of ) is Lalana Wools, of course!! We have thought of contacting them many times about carrying their stuff at One Planet but I am not sure it is a good idea since they sell online already. Their patterns and yarns are absolutely exquisite! And expensive! I will have to buy something for myself, of course. I am not sure they even sell wholesale. They had an ad recently that said "almost wholesale" and I am not sure what that means. Since they naturally dye all their own yarn in small batches, I can understand why it is hard for them to move to all wholesale, because of the cut and all. It is hard for all indie artists... I am going to ask though when I am there............

I still have not been knitting or spinning. I admit I am in a funk. Maybe it is the icky hot and humid weather. 100 in Arizona and humid is just gross. I have knit a few rows a day of this or that but nothing too intense..... I don't feel motivated to do a lot of things now. I even broke my great organic diet after not losing any weight. I got very frustrated and really I am just going to have to join a gym which will happen soon, after my weekend away......

I did get another great organic boxed from Boxed Greens this week. I really enjoyed the fresh organic red leaf lettuce and spinach in salads and the tomatoes were yummy as well. I got a mango and some seedless black grapes that were unusual and amazing. They were really as sweet as candy..... I also got a few things that I didn't know what I would do with, so I ended up making a great soup. The first item was a Delicata Squash and I had to look it up. If I would have known how amazing it tasted by itself, I would have eaten it plain. It has a peanutty sweet type taste and it is fantastic. It is an heirloom variety of squash. Here is a photo and that link has some great info about the variety. I am going to buy this again and I think just bake it and add a bit of olive oil and cinnamon. I know that sounds weird but it is a great combo. Or make a sweeter soup with delicata, sweet potatoes, and orange...... This would be great.

I also received two large pure white onions and a head of this rosy red garlic. I have to say these aren't the onions I usually buy. I grew up I guess buying either the yellow type or eating sweet vidalia or red onions. In culinary school, we never used these pure white onions either. I discovered that they are actually sweeter than the yellow variety but they do make your eyes still water...... I looked up these onions and they are just called white sweet onions and they come from an organic farm in the midwest

I decided to make some soup using only ingredients I already had in the house. I have a huge sage plant outside in my herb garden so I wanted to use some of that. I don't have a photo of the final result but it turned out amazing so here is a recipe for you. I usually only add in a little of this and a little of that, but I wrote it down this time.... This is very low fat by the way. For the vegan version, leave out the butter (substitute olive oil) and use veggie broth instead of chicken broth. And of course, I used 100% organic ingredients...

Creamy Delicata Squash Soup

2 large white sweet onions
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon sweet cream butter
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
1 medium-large delicata squash
4-5 small gold potatoes
1 large garnet yam
3 cups organic chicken broth
2 cups spring water
1 teaspoon powdered ginger (you could use fresh too)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped sage (or substitute 1 teaspoon dry)
sea salt - to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste

First, chop the garlic and place in a large soup pot with the butter and olive oil. Put the heat on low and let the garlic cook for 15-20 minutes. The heat should be very low so the garlic doesn't brown. Add the onions and continue to cook on low until the onions are very wilted. You might have to add some of the chicken broth so that this doesn't burn.

While this is cooking, preheat the overn to 350. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place in a roasting pan with the sweet potatoes and the gold potatoes and let these all roast for about an hour until cooked through.

The onions and garlic can simmer this entire hour. Just keep the heat on low and add broth if necessary. When the vegetables are done, let them cool and then chop the gold potatoes and add to the soup (don't peel). Peel off the skin of the garnet yam and coarsely chop and add to the soup. Also scoop out the flesh of the delicata squash and add to the pot. Add the chicken broth and water, bring to a boil and then turn the heat down and simmer for about an hour. It is just soup so have fun, no rules here, you could add other veggies if you wanted too.

Let it cool slightly, then puree in a blender and put it back in the pot. Add the herbs and spices and taste and adjust the seasoning. It is pretty yummy. It has an interesting tang from the spice combo......

You could make it look pretty by serving it with some sage chopped on top and a add a dollop of fresh yogurt, light sour cream or creme fraiche depending on your taste..........

That is it for now. I never thought my knitting blog would get into cooking but life changes. This used to be my love in life-cooking and food, but the constant struggle with my weight just made me turn away from the interest. Plus it is weird but working as a chef diminished my interests too...... I don't want that to ever happen with yarn!

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Weekend cooking

I sure haven't been knitting too much. It just has been hot here! I have been working still a few rows here and there on a baby blanket and also the sizzle sweater....... I have been focusing a lot on trying to improve my diet. I signed up for this fantastic service called Every Friday, I get a box of very fresh organic vegetables and fruits delivered to my doorstep. I am just loving this because lately that is about all that I am eating!! I am trying to lose weight, but also I am just trying to focus on healthy living. If you live in Arizona or anywhere else for that matter, and decide to try this, let me know because I get a free box if I refer someone and they have the service for three weeks.

Having been a foodie my whole life and a professional chef in a previous, I can tell you that this is some of the most amazing produce I have ever seen. First, I love the idea of supporting local and small organic farms. Anyone seen all the scary news reports on all the food coming from China lately? FRESH food!!! Why do I need garlic from China when I live next to California where anything can be grown! We live in the USA ! Why do we need to get food from so far away, it is nuts! Pretty much anything we need should be able to be grown here....! There is a great book I picked up called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. If you want to understand some of the reasons why it is so important to eat locally grown food, this is a good place to start. Besides HEALTH, another great selling point is TASTE!! This veggies and fruit I get in my weekly boxes are amazing!! OK, here are a few things from my "gourmand" box. Last week, I got the essentials box, this week, the gourmand. It alternates.......

First, fresh organic kale. A lot of people are clueless about greens unless they grew up in the south. But they are one of the best veggies for people, loaded with vitamins and minerals. I made a great recipe out of this from the Moosewood Low Fat Cookbook-garlicky greens and black eyed peas. You can't get more healthy than this.....and it was really good...... I don't understand those people who don't like vegetables and/or won't experiment with food!

Organic fresh and juicy watermelon, strawberries and my new favorite "red simka plums." I had never heard of these little simka plums before and they are just amazing..... They are only about 2 inches around each and are amazing. Look for them at a Whole Foods market or farmers market, depending on where you live. I am going to start frequenting the farmers market more....

A few more interesting and unusual produce items in this photo. Italian Red turbinado onions are the long thin onions. They are incredibly mild and sweet and I have made an omlette with them and also a cold salad. They taste a bit like a scallion or sweet vidalia onion only different. Really yummy. Second, the round off white item is a "lemon cucumber." I had never heard of this or seen one and it is fantastic. I think I could just eat these every day by themselves, that is how good they are. They were so fresh..... with a light lemony tang..... Then the brighter yellow "heirloom" tomato is a special variety with a lot of flavor........ I made a salad with cooked black eyed peas, brown rice, tomatoes, cucumber, the onion, fresh dill, white balsamic vinegar, virgin olive oil, sea salt and black ground pepper and I have been eating a little bit of each day.....

I also got some fresh shitake mushrooms and dill in my box, fresh green beans and broccoli. I made an egg scramble with some of these items for breakfast yesterday along with a bit of fresh feta and it was really good......
So I am enjoying my weekly veggies and definitely getting in the recommended daily amount of five servings per day plus.

Three years ago I went to Canyon Ranch in the Berkshire mountains. It is a spa that many people go to for health reasons. It happened to be a wonderful gift to me from a friend. There were many lectures on health and chronic disease. One thing they really focused on was eating more produce. They said that if every American ate 8-10 servings of FRESH produce every day, it would pretty much eliminate most of our diseases over time..... Of course they make everything organic....... As I do some stuff on the computer today, I am listening to CNN and a new report just came out linking pesticides to Autism. Did you know that Autism rates have grown drastically in this country? I think 1 out of every five children born now has autism. I can't help but think this as well as our increased cancer and other disease rates come from how many pesticides we use on our food, but also we just are eating more and more processed junk and not real food.........

I don't think I could do what Barbaa Kingsolver did, which was to actually live on a small farm and grow all my own veggies and chickens and pigs, etc....... But I can try to eat locally and eat fresh food and help our planet in our own small way.... I know it makes me feel good. I feel healthier eating this way and it is fun to do some cooking again...... I have a lot of friends with kids whose kids simply won't touch veggies. I am lucky I grew up in a house where very night we had salad and at least two vegetables. So I might not have liked everything when I was little but we had healthy food always and we weren't allowed to eat a lot of junk which is good......

It sure can't prevent every illness but it can help and its fun too........

Sorry no knitting photos but I have been in a non yarn mood for awhile!! I guess it just goes in cycles................

Happy Monday.........

PS I am still listening to CNN and now yet ANOTHER special report came on about tainted food coming from China.. It is pretty scary what is going on with food safety in our country. But it isn't just tainted food from China, it is also labeling laws and other issues that are affecting the safety of our food......and what is also scary are the big food companies jumping on the health bandwagon and calling things natural or organic when they aren't at all!!

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Saturday morning

I have to admit I feel like doing nothing yarn related or one planet related this entire weekend! I wish, I wish, I wish. I have assigned myself one chore for the weekend and it is not too bad!

I have to go through all these Jo Sharp pattern books and find some patterns that we want to feature on One Planet. The books are so incredible, each one is inspired by nature and the season and the photography is beautiful and so are the patterns! But the problem with having an online store and pattern books is that when people view the link for the pattern book, they don't really know what yarns to buy . So we somehow have to figure out how to show some individual projects within each book. I hope I am making sense! It involves going through each book and then doing some web page tweaking basically.... So my only goal this weekend is to really go through the books and make a list of patterns that we will have the yarn for, which is not too bad of a chore.

Yes, Jodi, I can cook!!

My sister swears I can't cook even though she knows I graduated from culinary school and worked as a chef a decade ago. Time flies..... I think when I moved here, she expected that I would be cooking for her and her family all the time and it didn't happen! :) I am on a new organic kick and eating lots and lots of veggies so I decided to actually cook / make a few things this morning for the week with my ingredients.... I realized though why don't cook anymore. I have a back problem and I couldn't stand to chop ingredients or to stir the pot. This really bummed me out. The pain was so extreme (deep burning down my spine and into my neck) that finally I brought a chair into the kitchen, but even then I was barely able to finish. I have to figure this out... I guess I could pop a bunch of pain pills 1/2 hour before cooking but that doesn't sound great. Mix them with some wine? No... Hire a gorgeous male chef to simply follow my direction? That sounds good, but hmmm..... no money!

Well here is what I made anyhow. First I made this yummy organic beef stew. It smells great and it is still on the stove. The recipe has a Moroccan bent to it. Every ingredient was fresh and organic----- stew beef, herbs, fresh chopped tomatoes , crimini mushrooms, and other veggies! The Moroccan bent is the addition of yams and Moroccan spices. It should be good. I think I am going to add in a bit or red wine from Oregon soon and then it will be done....

The second "dish" was a guacamole kit put together by Melissa's Vegetable company-you chop up fresh garlic, shallots and a serrano pepper. Add a ripe chopped plum tomato and chopped Hass avacados and then squeeze lime juice over the whole thing. It looks great. I also added some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I am not sure what / how I am going to eat this since I am on a no grain/low carb diet. I could eat it with a spoon but that is way too many calories! So I might eat small amounts over the next week with some broiled tilapia fish or some scrambled eggs.

I do have some knitting this weekend. I am trying to work hard on the baby blanket for Kaylon, an adorable little boy who will be moving here from Guatemala in the next few months to live with Andrea and her hubbie! I only have two more squares of the blanket, but I admit touching wool is hard in the 105 plus heat!! So in between, I just started working on Wendy Bernard's Sizzle Pattern using the new Lanas Puras Clarissa yarn. I love love this yarn, it is 50% cotton/50% wool. The pattern is going to look quite different I think but still adorable. We have some cute patterns hopefully soon in the yarn as every designer who has gotten a hank so far loves it......

Happy Weekend, I am off to a coffee shop with the Jo Sharp pattern books......Maybe I'll try to get in a swim as exercise has to help my poor aching back, right? It is very hard to cope with, this is my blog so I can say that here.....

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Estes Park

The Estes Park Wool Mart really was a lot of fun. Kirsten and I had a wonderful time! On the first day, we drove immediately to Boulder, which is my favorite city. To be honest, I really would like to move there, that is how much I like it. I might even start looking into it. There are so many reasons that I think I would be happy there. We went out for dinner with a new knitting friend Debbie O'Neill. Debbie does not have a blog yet, but she might soon! Debbie is a talented knitwear designer and she also teaches at Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins which is the very large knitting/spinning/weaving store in Boulder. She is working on a few patterns for One Planet which is how we met. We have become great email friends as we have so many common interests so I can't tell you how much fun we had talking and chatting!!! We went to the coolest place for dinner called the Dushanabe Tea House. If you are ever in Boulder, you MUST visit this amazing place. We had a great meal, great conversation and laughter!! The next day Kirsten and I of course went shopping, shopping! We ate lunch at a wonderful organic restaurant called Sunflower. My favorite type of place. It was yummy! We spent a bit too much time and money looking at natural cosmetics and clothes and then we headed to Estes Park.

Estes Park Colorado is totally different from Boulder. It is a small resort town in the mountains. I wish I had great photos but this time all my photos taken were of fiber animals!! On Saturday we headed to the wool market. Look at all the fiber animals we met.

(A cute alpaca)
(1 week old baby paco vicuna
with his mom)
(angora goat)

blue faced leicester sheep-
my favorite wool
along with Cormo
Of course the most fun is spent in the vendor booths. There were tons and tons of things to buy. I really did overspend on this trip. Here are a few of my fiber finds. This is just a small percentage of what I bought overall on this trip :)

Bonkers Superwash Merino Roving in
Dragonfly; i wanted more of this to spin as
I already have one huge skein done!

Textiles A Mano- beautiful hand dyed cotton
and rayon yarn for a sweater. This photo is not that
great, it is too dark. Her yarns are gorgeous! Plain and Fancy Hand Dyed Merino
Color - Autumn Leaves- This is going to be used
for a shawl

That is the report. I ate too much, spent too much and did too much! It was a lot of fun though and it was nice to be in the fresh mountain air for a few days.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dog Blog -Funny Cartoon

I thought this was funny.... I have it on my fridge but finally scanned it to post :)