Monthly Archives: March 2009

Granola Day

Every so often I get a hankerin’ for real, home made granola. Occasionally, this feeling happens to coincide with not only my possession of the required ingredients, but also the will to actually do it.

So, that day was today.
Double Trouble

It’s really not hard to do, and soooooo rewarding. I tells ya, short of perhaps buying the $8/100g bag gourmet small batch stuff (and I can’t even speak for it, as I have never purchased it myself), you just cannot match home made granola. The fresh, toastiness of it. The endless choice of ingredients (Love dried cherries? Toss ’em in! Despise coconut? Banish it!), the lovely caramel-y roasting honey smell through the house… And of course grabbing a big chunk when it’s just cooled enough to be properly crunchy, but still warm enough to know it just came out of your own oven.

Yup, pretty sweet.

Granola Granola Granola

And in case you’re wondering how it’s done, I’ll share (cause my mom taught me to).

Things I measured:

  • 4 C rolled oats (large flake, not quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 C oil (I used grapeseed because that’s what I had most of, you could use olive or canola)
  • 1/2 C honey (warm it to pourable if it’s not)
  • 1/2 C maple syrup (you could use molasses here, or more honey, or corn syrup if you must)

Things I didn’t measure:

  • Two handfuls of whole almonds, which I then chopped coarsely
  • A handful each of pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and flax seeds (I would have included hemp seeds if I’d had them)
  • Some dried apples I found hiding behind some containers in my cabinet, chopped
  • A liberal application of dried currants
  • A heavy dash of sea salt (the recipe I “followed” says 1/2 teaspoon, but it also said 1t of vanilla, which I ignored this time)
  • A swash of cinnamon powder
  • A taste of dried ginger

What I did with it:

  • Mix it all up thoroughly so everything’s coated in oil & honey/syrup
  • Spread on two cookie sheets
  • Bake @ 250ºF for 40 min, “stirring” once in the middle (it ended up a little on the dark side – still tasty but 5 minutes less would have been optimal – fortunately I like my currants nearly burnt)
  • Cooled on racks before scraping up and storing in an airtight container (minus a good-sized taste-testing quantity)

The fun thing is that all the nuts, seeds, dried fruit, even spices can be played with however you like. I’ve done dried pineapples, mango, coconut & candied ginger, or dried cranberries and walnuts and cashews. Generally it’s just whatever I’ve got in the cabinets or felt like getting. As long as you’ve got the oats, oil & sweetener, it’s granola.

Aside from that, this whole weekend has been about spring cleaning. Now, when I say spring cleaning, I don’t mean throwing open the windows and scrubbing the place down until there’s nary a speck of dust or grime. As much as I’d love that to be done, I’m just not built for it (having little appetite and less aptitude for scrubbing to specklessness).

Really I mean spring reorganizing.

Inside I went through several of my more irksome shelving arrangements and sorted all the things just laying about into recycling, garbage, or suitable containers. And while visitors would likely still think that my home looks like The Place that Organization Forgot, I know it’s better and that makes me happy. Also I switched around some curtains to be ready for summer. I almost attacked the winter clothes but then thankfully remembered that as it’s still only March (the snow’s been gone so long I tend to forget how early it still is) I don’t have to face that particular ordeal just yet.

Outside, I had a go at the deck for the first time this season, setting out the pots and planters, even planted some cat grass. And of course I had help:
Kitties on Deck

That’s Pyewhackett in the foreground, guarding the heap of detritus, and Licorice testing out the pots. Which is really so cute that I just have to show you another picture:
Lix Tries Pot

I was even going to plant some peas, but both my usual seed-getting places didn’t have any pea seeds yet, just lots of the stuff that needs to be started ahead indoors (which I haven’t the space for). Thus was my severe urge to plant something thwarted (well, except the cat grass, but that’s just not the same). Soon, my pretties, soon I will plant things.

For those of you who like pretty pictures of flowers; my orchid is up to three blossoms:
Orchid Trio

That is all.


And then there were two…

Well, I did it.

Better judgement put up a token fight, but did not prevail. I wound the second gargantuan skein into a second likewise gargantuan ball.
Two
(The cat was surprisingly unfazed by the lurking orbs; I suspect they fall firmly into the “stupid things humans do that have no bearing on me or my food” category for her and thus merit little to no notice.)

In other, less woolly, news, my “found” orchid has finally popped open it’s first flower.
Snakey
I came across this plant last summer, cavalierly placed on the sidewalk in a somewhat upscale neighbourhood on my walk home from the gym. I guess the first flower spike died back and the owner couldn’t be bothered to cut it back and wait for another to emerge. So naturally I brought it home.

(For the record, it does feel somewhat irregular to just casually pluck a potted orchid off the sidewalk and adopt it, but nobody seemed to notice or care…)

I had one orchid already, retrieved by the OH one day a year or so ago when I said “Get me some flowers while you’re out” (I do get desperate for blooms at this time of year). It’s bloomed once or twice since then:
Orchid1

But the thing with orchids (and I’m not an orchid nut by any means) is that there are so many different varieties, and it’s impossible for someone who’s not an expert to know what the flowers will look like. So I was pleased when this one finally popped (after months of watching the spike grow, and the buds bulge) and while it’s quite similar, its lighter colour is different enough to make me happy.

A lovely present for the first day of spring.


In Soviet Russia, wool plays with cat.

I’ve decided to make EZ’s Garter Stitch Afghan as a wedding gift (for my stepsister who hopefully isn’t reading this or who will look no further if she is…) and I picked up the yarn today.

I’m going with Cascade Eco Wool (because it just looks so darned sexy on Brooklyn Tweed, and I didn’t have to promise my first born to leave Romni with it), and it looks and feels as squishy in person as on screen but, dude, huge skeins – HUGE. 250g/437m each. And me having forgotten to buy a ball winder while I was there drooling over yarn.

So, being the impatient let’s-get-on-with-it person that I am, I wanted to try a swatch to check gauge and my planned colour combo, which required winding a skein.

15 minutes and two sore wrists later, I have one 7″ ball of yarn.

EcoWool1

To really grasp the scale here, consider that the very fluffy fat cat weighs in at about 13 lbs.

EcoWoolPye

The sad part is, if I want the first ginormous ball to be worthwhile, I have to wind another in the other colour, which I will do, by hand, because I am just that impatient and foolish. But for the 6 skeins after that? I’m definitely waiting until I’ve gotten a ball winder.


It’s a sort of sickness, really

Or at least a malady of some kind. It’s the alternate OCD: Obsessive Constructive Disorder.

One manifestation is the inability to discard any item without it having gone through every possible phase of Usefulness.

For instance; blue jeans. We (the OH & I) have several pairs, and we wear them for work, leisure and walking or cycling about town. (Jeans are an especially good example because they’ve often come from Value Village having been Useful even before coming into our possession.) When they get holes in the bum from biking in them, I patch them. If they (ahem) shrink a little (in the wash – having nothing to do with a winter of comfort food or the gradual expansion of my hips), I have been known to insert a panel of ribbon in the sides or back to make them broader. In short, I don’t give up on them easily.

But eventually the patches develop their own holes, or the OH decides that the mid-90’s “work” pairs are finally just too baggy and shaggy and raggedy looking, or they just become indecent to wear in some way.

So finally, you’re saying to yourself, I must get rid of them. Maybe use the calves for rags if they aren’t in absolute shreds, but the bulk goes into the trash at this point, right?

But no. You would, sadly, be mistaken.

Because this, ladies and germs, is what I do with them at this point.
First, I cut off their legs
Dusty
and tear them into strips. Strips
(This is very dusty work – I understand why people sewing in factories MUST wear dust masks).

Then with a little bit of this Zigzag
and some braiding and coiling, they will become this:
Coil

I will admit it; I really like braided rugs. And I like that I can make one without having to go out and buy fabric, with stuff that most people would just toss in the garbage. In fact, it makes so much sense to me now that I feel bad about every pair of worn-out, holey, scruffy pants I’ve ever thrown away. What a waste… I didn’t mention that this rug will include some khaki, too. And I’ve also got a bunch of strips of wool (leftovers from sewing projects mostly) that are waiting to be another rug.

Oh, and I’ll likely be removing the zippers from those jeans because surely they’ll be Useful for … something.

So, yeah, I’ve definitely got a full-blown case of the alternate OCD.

But don’t worry, I don’t think it’s contagious.


Pink!!!!

Finally I can post the latest socks:
TheseAlso Bubbly
and hereBubbly are likely the funnest socks I have ever knit.

The bubblewrap pattern is just enough detail to not go all zombified midway through the instep, but easy enough for slight absent-mindendness.

But really, the best part was the pink. I think I will knit something bright pink every February. I don’t think it matters what, as long as it’s fast and easy and oh-so-cheerful!

And even better than how much I enjoyed knitting the socks is that I’ve created another convert to hand-knit socks! (They’ll probably show up herehere.) We shall conquer the world! Mua ha ha ha!!!

Of course, this does mean I’m now expected to knit many socks. Oh well, it’s a small price to pay for happy feet.


Brr!

This is why I have not been posting lately.
Frosty
Actually this picture is from late January, but it might as well have been taken this morning.
I am in serious denial. I am refusing to spend any unnecessary time out of doors until this ridiculousness stops. I mean, please. -15º when I went out for my run this morning? Not cool. Bloody cold, actually.

I have been knitting, but am still unable to post one item due to secrecy. And I’ve been avoiding publicizing the other WIP because I’m feeling a little anxious about it.

That would be the orange sweater, which would appear to be coming along nicely despite a mistake in the cable pattern which I thought I had fixed (oh the joys of going back 12 rows of cable and trying to redo it…) but on re-inspection I think that an extra 2 rows snuck in without my noticing… However there’s no way I’m redoing it again so we’ll all just have to live with it.
Here, see if you can spot the extra rows.
Orange2

Beyond that, I am in some fear that I don’t have enough yarn left to give the thing even short sleeves. I’d like to at least get over the shoulders and an inch or so down the arm so they don’t look like cap sleeves, but it might not be possible. My remaining yarn is one large ball and a bunch of little ones, and I have no idea how much more I need. You would think that having once been an entire long-sleeved, baggy sweater the yarn would yield at least short sleeves, but my tension is so much higher that I’m using way more yarn per square inch and it’s looking unlikely.

I may end up having to get really creative, like with some kind of lace stitch on the sleeves that won’t use much yarn, but I think that would look stupid. Using a different yarn to finish the sleeves bears a very small chance of success but since there’s zero chance of finding the same yarn I may end up resorting to that. Ooh, how about a broad stripe of a different yarn and then finish off with orange ribbing? Now that might work!

Of course, you know what this means, right? A trip to the yarn store 🙂 Yup, that looks like what I’ll have to do! But I’ll be waiting for it to warm up because, dudes, even though it’s not really all that cold out? It’s too cold for March.