Sunday, March 28, 2010

Liberty Lake Loop

Yesterday afternoon Mark and I (and Charlie Bear too) joined Justin, Kerri (and Porter too), and Lynette on a 7.5 mile hike that starts at Pavillion Park in Liberty Lake.  It is about a 20 minute drive from our house so not quite as handy as Beacon Hill or Dishman Hills where we usually hike, but still handy enough.  There are parts of this hike that were really quite easy, but there were also equal parts that frankly kicked my butt.  Those parts would be the approximate 2 miles of switch backs and constant hill climbing that looked like a goat trail more than a hiking trail.  I know it is good for me, but that doesn't mean I can't still say "ugh!"  It was a gorgeous hike with a waterfall about half way through the hike.  I am a sucker for waterfalls, no matter how big or small.  Here are a few highlights:

We started the hike at the edge of the lake (Liberty Lake) in this picture.  At this point we were not even to the top yet, but this was the best view.

The aforementioned waterfall.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pasta Sauce Method

I made my nummy tomato pasta sauce last night for the first time in a long time, so I thought it deserved a little highlight.  This is more of a method than a recipe, as I don't measure a stitch for it unless you count the gallon size bag of frozen tomatoes as a measurement (more on that in a second).

First I chop up onion, mushrooms, and whatever color of bell pepper I have on hand.  I never have green pepper by the way.  I can put up with them if you invite me over for dinner, but I really don't like them.  Any other color is welcome to the party though.  Last night I grabbed a yellow one.  All three of these are sauteed together in a hot pan with a little olive oil until they are soft.

This next step can be skipped by my lovely vegetarian and vegan friends.

Next, I add italian sausage and brown it. I prefer the hot italian sausage, but use your favorite. I have even been known to use ground turkey or beef if that is what I have on hand and don't feel like going to the store. The hot italian sausage is the best in my opinion though.  You can also use it from the casings, just remove the casings and break it up in the pan.

Now here comes the tomato bit.  Every summer after I have made my fill of salsa and I have tomatoes coming out my ears I start freezing them in gallon size freezer bags.  The only prep it requires is a quick rinse and cutting off the stem end, then in the freezer they go.  Then, in those dreaded months that follow that leave us with only the most pathetic of pathetic tomatoes in the grocery store, I pull out a freezer bag of my garden tomatoes and let them thaw. They are then perfect for any soup, stew, or tomato sauce.  The skins slip right off and I crush them with my hands and toss them into the delectable party gathering on my stove or in my crockpot.  You could substitute canned tomatoes at this point, but read your labels because you would be surprised at how many canned tomatoes have corn syrup added.

I prefer my pasta sauce to be fairly thick so it sticks to the noodles better, so I also add one can of tomato paste.  Then the herbs and spices get added.  I typically add salt, pepper, italian seasoning, and some extra oregeno and basil.  My "secret" ingredient is a few dashes of cinnamon though.  Don't ask why, just try it.  It adds something.  Then the sauce is left to simmer as long as you can stand it.  I try to give it at least an hour if I can to help all the flavors meld. 

Before you serve it be sure to taste it and add additional herbs and spices if necessary.  If your sauce seems unusually acidic from the tomatoes, sprinkle in just a teaspoon of sugar or other sweetner. Easy does it though, because it doesn't take much to make your sauce too sweet.  Usually the tomato paste is naturally sweet enough that you don't need to add sugar though. 

Buon appetito! from an Irish girl that loves Italian food.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lace of Two Sorts

My hat design is complete and up for sale on Ravelry!  You can find it here.  I went for a lace pattern in 100% cotton to make it summer friendly.  Apparently Ravelry has added a new feature where us Ravelry designers can allow our non-Ravelry friends and followers to still be able to purchase our patterns through them.  I will work on getting that up and running soon for you non-Ravelry folks.

The honey had a great idea on embellishing the hat further, and frankly I am little embarrassed that he thought of it and I did not.  He suggested putting a few beads in the center of the star, which made me also think it would be pretty cute to put a button in the center of the star as well.  Good thinking Marky!

In the mean time I still need to think of something to do for my non-yarn design challenge.  My friend Michelle sent me some pretty little bobbins of lace a while back that I would love to use. I am thinking they would make a very pretty knitted bracelet.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 I come

It's official...I am a knitting designer.  Here I am listed on Ravelery with my fellow designers:


I am now working on my second design.  This one is for a cute summer hat as commissioned by a boutique in Sandpoint, Idaho. I walked into the shop with my friend Kerri wearing one of the hats I have knit.  She asked me if I sold my knitting anywhere and when I told her no, she promptly asked me if I would like to sell items in her store.  Yes!  She said she wanted some knitted hats that would be perfect for the spring and summer, so here I am working on the perfect hat in soft 100% cotton yarn.  Don't you love this gray?!?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Simple Sunday

I love this time of year.  The sun starts making regular appearances without over heating the place.  Perfect.  At the suggetion of my honey, I spent the afternoon sitting outside knitting.  Again. Perfect.

I had to bring my tea with me, of course.  Have I told you about my new tea infuser by Tea Forte?  I LOVE it!  My handy-dandy timer had to join me for a little while as well because I am also baking a birthday cake for the lovely Kecia today.  She requested a coconut cake and I found the perfect one by Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa).  If my little sampling of the batter (yes I know it has raw eggs in it and no I don't care) is any indicator it is going to taste A-Maze-Ing. The cakes are cooling as we speak.

I took a little break to walk around the yard and see what was starting to peak out of the ground.

Unfortunately it is starting to get a bit breezy, which mean chilly, so I had to gather myself and settle back inside.  I love that it is already 5:00 p.m. and not even showing a sign of a sunset yet.  It might sting a bit to lose an hour, but I will take soaking up the sun later in the day any time.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Design Challenge #2

One design down and another one (or 11) to go.  This month's challenge is to create a design using materials that are not intended for knitting/crochet.  Our design can, at most, be 20% yarn.  I need to decide what material to use before I can even start to think what I should make.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Designs and Planes and Yarn, Oh My!

As I have been holed away in Santa Clara for the last five days for Stitches West, we have some catching up to do.

First, I finished my very first design, Chained Embrace!  It is a cozy shrug made out of Cascade Venezia which is a wool and silk blend (yummy).  I will try to get the pattern written up and available soon for anyone who might want it.  I debuted it at Stitches West and received a lot of positive feedback and people wanting to know the name of the pattern.  I felt myself blush when I told them it was my own design.  How silly is that?

I left for Stitches West with the rest of the Paradise Fibers crew bright and early (and I mean BRIGHT and EARLY) Wednesday morning.  I started my October Leaves Fingerless Mitts on the plane (my first plane knitting ever).

Once we landed in Santa Clara, CA we promptly began setting up the booth (five all together) for the show.  Check out our giant Addi Turbo needles and Super Swift!

Speaking of giant...I also petted a giant skein of yarn from Coloratura Yarns.

It was a whirlwind full of yarn squeezing and throbbing feet.  I also met some fantastic people and enjoyed getting to know my LYS family a little better as well as enjoyed seeing what all the other vendors were up to.