Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Put Your Feet Up!

Chuckle. Thanks for all your comments on the last post. Mr Puffy is quite happy snacking on whole grain rice cakes as we all try to eat healthier snacks.

These socks have been hanging around for awhile! I started them way back last Summer on our Alaska trip and have only now finished them, having suffered a serious case of SSS ("second sock syndrome").

I'm not sure why these socks stalled. They just did. But now they are finished I'm thrilled to bits with them!

Although this is a rich and vibrant blue color, they are still very wearable - unlike some socks that I've knit. It's so tempting to buy those brightly colored yarns that are oh so pleasing to knit. But when the euphoria of having knit such pretty socks is over there's a sobering thought. Exactly where and when I can I wear them??? I know of what I speak, just check out my Bird of Paradise socks. I've never worn them, pretty though they are. Live and learn.

Particulars: Monkey Socks (free pattern compliments of Knitty); yarn from Shelridge Farm 2 skeins Soft Touch Ultra Handpaints; US 1 needles. My only modification was to drop the needle size down to US 1 from US 2 needles because I like my socks to fit snug. Another similar yarn that is beautifully dyed and yet wearable is Hand Jive Knit's Nature's Palette .

A Healthy Life Style

Good health is not just about diet alone. It's about having balance in one's life. Too often we don't take the few minutes we need each day to step back and relax. One way that I make relaxation part of my routine is to enjoy a cup of tea.

Incidentally, drinking tea is also part of my healthy diet because it contributes to water consumption. It's hard to consume 8-10 cups of water a day if you don't much care for the taste of plain water. Yet, keeping the body flushed and hydrated is extremely important for good health and a clear skin.

Have a great week everyone ~ and take 20 minutes out of your day ~ to put your feet up with a cup of tea. Might I say this is even more delightful if you are wearing handknit socks!

PS The yarn pictured with my teacup is from Tilli Thomas to make the Wisps of Smoke Ring by Heartstrings Fiberarts.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cafe au Lait Mitts

Why another pair of fingerless mitts? Because you can never have too many fingerless mitts in your wardrobe!

The yarn was a spontaneous purchase while visiting a LYS (Yarns on First) in Napa, California. That's actually one reason I love to visit a LYS. I often discover yarns that I would otherwise overlook.

There was a large bowl overflowing with these skeins and I immediately fell in love with the colors and feel of the yarn. It didn't hurt that the bowl was strategically position near a pair of fingerless mitt which whispered as I lingered "go on... make know you want to." I'm so easily influenced.

Particulars: Free Pattern: Cafe au Lait Mitt; US 4 double pointed needles; 1 skein Classic Elite Yarns, Fresco (wool, alpaca, angora). I have been very pleased with Classic Elite Yarns in general and with how well my Cherry top (knit with Classic Elite Yarns Premiere - cotton/tencel blend) has worn. Upshot. This is a great pattern and knits quickly into a pair of soft cozy mitts.

Changes For the New Year

We have all eaten far too many goodies over the holidays. I'm not naming any names but, frankly, some more than others.

Hence, at the start of this new year I have formed the intention that we shall all eat a more healthful diet rich in whole grains. I say an "intention" because like Andrea of At Home Mommy Knits I think a resolution can feel too imposing and I would never want to seem dictatorial. That being said, I do all the shopping and cooking and as a consequence I do have a certain amount of power over the members of this household.

Since you, dear reader, might not be quite ready for the mung bean casserole I cooked for dinner last night, I'm going to share a honey soaked bran muffin recipe instead. The source for this recipe is Grains, a gourmet pantry cookbook, pictured above (which has several recipes that I enjoy). I have slightly modified the recipe to make the muffins smaller and to include honey, which is more to my taste. These are also great without the honey if you don't want a sweet muffin.

Not so Giant Bran Muffins, Soaked in Honey


3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts - toasted
1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 1/4 cups milk
2 large eggs
1/3 cup molasses
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup dark seedless raisins
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar (I use brown sugar)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 12 muffin cups (or 6 large muffin cups for giant muffins).
2. Place walnuts in baking pan and toast, shaking pan several times for 8 to 10 minutes or until nuts are lightly toasted. Tip immediately onto a plate to stop cooking.
3. In large bowl, combine bran and milk and let stand, stirring 2 or 3 times for 10 minutes or until most of the milk is absorbed. With a wooden spoon, beat in the eggs, molasses, and melted butter. Stir in raisins and toasted walnuts.
4. In a separate bowl, stir together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Add flour mixture to bran-milk mixture and stir until just incorporated.
5. Here's my honey part: Add approximately 1 tablespoon honey to muffin cup just before adding the batter. If you want to skip the honey just spoon the batter directly into the muffin cups.
6. Bake approximately 18 minutes (I have reduced the cooking time due to these being smaller muffins) or 25-30 minutes for 6 giant muffins. The muffins should be firm to the touch, but you don't want to overcook them or they will be dry.
7. Turn out onto a wire rack and drizzle the bottom with more honey (if you want to) and leave upside down for the honey to soak in.

These are nice warm with a pat of butter and go well with salads or eaten as a quick breakfast snack along with an apple.

Have a great week everyone and make sure to cook at least one dish that uses whole grains!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Holidays in San Clemente

We always spend a quiet week after Christmas in San Clemente which is a great way for us to relax and recover from the busy period leading up to holidays.

For a change in scenery we shot these pictures overlooking North Beach which is where we have a house. It's a nice neighborhood and I'm standing on the Ole Hanson Beach Club property which has a public pool which is where Steve and I will swim from time to time. I haven't been in the ocean since the shark attack in Solana beach last Summer. I'm still waiting for the "all clear" signal before I go back in the water.

The vest I'm wearing is knit in Noro's Kureyon wool which makes a really great layering piece. It's definitely not next to skin soft, but it has wonderful memory and the colors are fun and vibrant.
Lots of people use this wool for felting projects. If you are a newer knitter, felting projects are a fun introduction to knitting as any uneven or even, gasp, a dropped stitch, are all forgiven in the felting process. You might want to check out the Booga Bag which is a popular free pattern that comes to mind.

Particulars: Noro Kureyon Wool (5 skeins); The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns (basic vest); I knit the body in the round on US 7 circular needles. I used a k4/p4 (8 stitch rib) for a couple of inches then switched to stockinette. The body is 14" from bottom to armhole shaping. The neckline and shoulder edging is knit in a K2/P2 rib using US 6 needles.

I thought you might like to see a little more of San Clemente. These pictures are taken of my favorite coffee spot, La Galette, which is a small creperie across from the pier. They make a fresh Italian roast which is heavenly and if you have time to sit in their cafe they will keep refilling your cup until you float away! On the mornings that we don't jog we will walk along the pathway that connects North Beach to the pier which has a number of fun small cafes.

Notice that I'm wearing my lace-up gloves. I love wearing these and I'm thinking that I need a few more pairs in different colors!

The Reader, Movie Review.

I'm going to conclude with a movie review. This past week Steve and I saw the movie, The Reader. It's an extremely well acted and edited movie and profound on a number of levels. To be sure it is not a comedy, mystery, or action movie. Moreover, if you are offended by nudity in films this is not the movie for you. It is decidedly an adult film, but not in the conventional sense. It's a adult film because it raises complex questions of law intersecting with morality; the human capacity (or incapacity) to be introspective; and societal accountability. The reviews of this movie are quite mixed but if you are looking for a movie that has substance I do not think you will be disappointed. Mr Puffy did not see this movie and therefore can not offer his opinion. If there isn't a dog in the movie, he simply won't go to see it.

Have a great week everyone ~ and go see this or any movie!