Friday, June 30, 2017

The Future is Now

The second recipe from my 14 days of Budget Bytes is Thai Curry Vegetable Soup from the App. While the cookbook is new recipes, not to be found online, the app recipes are directly from the blog.

The cool thing about the app is that it's hands free voice activated and it talks through the steps. I prop it up in a safe corner of the kitchen and say "Next" when I'm ready for the next set of ingredients and instructions and it reads them out to me. This recipe is voiced by the author and some have a robot voice but they are all too cool. It has built in timers and little how to videos.  The app has a learn to cook feeling to it with the how to videos but I'm really enjoying it. It's amazing living in the future.

This recipe turned out pretty good. Just pretty good because at the end the instructions were to balance the salty/sweet/sour levels as I've never tasted a similar soup before I had a hard time choosing the balance.

As far as the budget it called for Fish Sauce at $3.59. That's a hefty price for a 1/2 Tablespoon if I don't end up using it again. 

193 cal per 1/2 cup. It's pretty amazing that there are places I can input the ingredients and it pops out a nutrition label including the calories. Truly living in the future.

I'm enjoying how Breathing Space starts by knitting the ribbing then the neck shaping is done by short rows. I've always felt that this would be an elegant way to start a sweater with no picking up the stitches for the ribbing at the end but I've never gotten around to trying it before now. I really like it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

With a Spoon

The first recipe in Budget Bytes is "Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal". There are three flavors I detest; marzipan, spearmint, and banana- so banana anything just isn't happening. Moving along I spotted "Breakfast Parfaits" known other places as overnight oats.

After grocery shopping I was too tired to cook but I could assemble some fruit and oatmeal in a Mason jar..... crap.... I don't have a Mason jar. My Pinterest account will be revoked!

With some digging I found a mostly empty jar of pesto in my fridge and after eating it up with a spoon I was able to assemble a Breakfast Parfait.

The jar even says Mason. Take that, Pinterest.

It might look hefty in the super sized photo but that is a really small jar packed with 276 calories. That is a mighty calorie punch for what looks like a small snack and it's not at all meal sized. I'm dubious it will keep me full.

When I had it for lunch it was not good. Not good at all. The oat and flax seeds had soaked up the moisture from the yogurt leaving them gummy and the yogurt the consistency of cheese. I don't know how long it would have kept me full as I spent the rest of the day with friends noshing on vegetables, dip, and nachos.

The next jar (it had Mango Salsa that I polished off with a spoon) is better. It looks meal sized in volume and at 320 calories is a meal. I added pineapple juice with the pineapple so the texture is better but overall it was uninspiring. This batch was a bit like paste and it was difficult to mix in the jar. It did keep me full for hours so it was acceptable but it's doubtful I'll ever make overnight oats again. My goal in life is to eat tasty food not acceptable food.

Budget Bytes isn't the only gift I've received this year. I was given two tasty tasty skiens of malabrigo in my favorite color. Malabrigo is the dark chocolate of the yarn world and as far removed from overnight oats as possible. They are an excellent addition the to the 2017 Stash rebuild.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Stash building 2017 has begun with two sweater quantities from Webs clearance. I'm a few years late to the party but I'll finally be able to knit fingering weight sweaters.
 The Araucania "Bubblegum" is a disappointing coral color and not bubblegum pink at all. I adore Araucania and once it's over dyed with more pink or turned into red it should be stunning.

The Viking Nordlys is better than I imagined. That's good because I bought it for a specific pattern.

I haven't bought yarn for a pattern since.... never? "Never" doesn't sound right but almost never is close. I prefer to find a yarn I love then search for a pattern that fits. However, I'm loving Veera Välimäki Breathing Space and have been on the lookout for a suitable yarn for a while. 
I couldn't wait and cast on right away. I do have a knitted swatch that is still drying to verify my gauge and I want to know if the single yarn skews the knitting.

I'm also loving my orchid. This plant was my housewarming orchid that I bought as I moved into this place. Here it is, two summer later, in bloom again!

I'm a terror to house plants and can't keep anything alive but Mother In Law Tongue and Grocery Store Orchids. Both are dead easy to grow but as orchids have a reputation of being difficult I allow myself to feel smug that they thrive under my neglectful care. "Grocery Store Orchids" or Phalaenopsis Orchids also know as “Moth Orchids”don't have any sort of reputation of being difficult and are actually know for their hardiness but I latch onto the term orchid and go with it.

Monday, June 26, 2017

What Are We Eating?

It's quite common for knitting blogs and podcasts to have a "What are we reading" segment and in a play on words I'm going to use it as an excuse to fan girl out a little on Budget Bytes.

I've read the food blog for about forever and while I don't get to cook the recipes as often as I like, I've always enjoyed them. I've been pretty vocal about recipes posted online as being terrible but (and has never failed me.

I was given the cookbook for my birthday and I bought the App hours after it was released. The app is FANTASTIC! This has inspired me with ideas of cooking my way though both all "Julia and Julia" style. Or the way knitters talk about knitting every pattern in an especially exciting pattern book. It will probably end the same as any knitters declaration to "knit ever pattern" but at the moment I'm stoked.

I set up my meal plan and made my grocery list.

The before photo.

Yes, my fridge looks like this before every grocery shopping trip. I'm against wasting money on spoilage and try to plan my meals so all the fresh food is eaten 2-3 days before the next bi-weekly trip. Occasionally lettuce goes bad on me or I'm making an emergency stir-fry with vegitable about to turn, but overall it works great.

This is perfect timing as my freezer meals are depleted too.
  Freezer storage containers clean and ready to go!

They are so cute and tickles me that they are the same size. Each holds exactly 4oz of water. For real. The one on the right fits better in the freezer so I'm working my way to only having that shape.

After shopping! I may have gone a bit overboard in my excitement. That is a lot of food to cook in two weeks. Much of it will end up in freezer meals so I have faith it won't spoil. But, wow, that is a lot for two weeks.
My food cupboard, yes, my kitchen is small and only has one... My food cupboard is overflowing. I had to buy a surprising amount of specialty ingredients so at the moment it's not feeling very frugal. That doesn't matter as long as it's delicious.

No pictured: my freezer is worrisomely full of ingredients too. Will they get used up at a rate sufficient to add the freezer meals? Will I be able to tetris everything to fit? Will the lack of a deep freeze cause my goal of making 14 recipes in 14 days crash and burn before it gets off the ground? 

Now to get cooking and find out.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Test Drive

While waiting for my yarn to show up in the mail I did a little swatching.
The yarn is Berroco Linsey a 64% cotton 34% Linen blend. The yarn is fabulous! The color not so much. It's a sage green marl. The color is classic but it dulls my complexion and I don't sparkle when I hold it up to my face. That's the danger of online ordering. The color isn't terrible and the yarn so wonderful I still plan to use it for a sweater. With a deep V neck or as a cardigan it should work.
I swatched plain, texted, and cabled. When finished I traced around it on paper adding notes on gauge, needle size (size 3/3.25 mm), brand of needle, and anything else I could think of before throwing it a load of laundry.
Here it is out of the dryer. It shrunk a little in width and substantially in length. The finished gauge is 22 stitches over 4 inches and not the 20 stitches for the project I was swathing for. Also the fabric is too fluid to hold the shape of a cardigan. I like it the way it is so I'm not going to swatch with lager needles. It won't work for what I had in mind but I'll put this away for later and all the information will be waiting.

It's nice to put a yarn through it's paces once and a while.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The 80's Called and They Want Their Sweater Back

Browsing online I saw stores stocking textured striped raglan sweaters this spring. I was smitten and since they are striped it meant that I would be able to dig up yarn from my stash.  I don't have many sweater quantities left but I have plenty of scraps. 
This sweater pleased me to no end in April but pulling it out today, so I could start the sleeves, I don't know if I can continue. Ugh. I though pink and sea foam quite striking in 1987 but I don't think these two colors would be combined even then. The only thing that keeps me from ripping it out is knowing the colors will fade in the wash from the prior projects. It might have a chance but at the moment it is firmly in time out.

Actually- I can't see ripping this one out. If I'm not inspired to finish it will go strait into the trash because of all the cut ends.

It's this sweater right after the socks that decided me. After years of knitting down the stash 2017 is going to be a stash rebuilding year. I want to have sweater quantities on hand. Lots and lots of sweater quantities.

While I wait for my yarn order to be delivered I pulled out a partial ball of TOFUtsies from scraps to make ankle socks for the gym. I cast on and made it through the heel flap at the dog park. Inspired by the defunct Lichen Ribbed Socks, I'm going to work my way through all the heel variations in Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush again. I keep reverting to the French heel by default because it's popular and I have it memorized but there are so many other variations.

Or wait! Maybe I won't work my way through the traditional heels again but do a study in short row heels. It's been years since I've even thought of short row heels.

Anyway, I want a wack of shorty TOFUtsies socks for summer and plan different heel variations.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Not Literally Forever

I love how hand knit socks last FOREVER! But it's not literally forever so I post whenever a pair comes to their end.

Lichen Ribbed Socks from the book Knitting Vintage Socks: New Twists on Classic Patterns by Nancy Bush.

I knit these in 2008 as I was knitting my way through all the different sock heels in the book.  The yarn is SWTC TOFUtsies  made from 50% superwash wool, 25% soy silk, 22.5% cotton, 2.5% chitin (made from shrimp and crab shells!).

Photo evidence that is really was 2008 this pair is the second photo, they have faded a bit over the last 9 years. 

Sock made from this yarn are wonderfully soft and cool. They make the best gym socks. However, the yarn is very thin and a little splity so I don't love knitting it. I can't bare to throw these socks away since that hole is from 3 stitches snapping and it should be an easy mending job. However, I know myself and it's unlikely they will ever get mended.

Instead I whipped up a replacement pair. Some Henry's Attic Kona Superwash that I dyed an unfortunate combination of mauve and jade a very long time ago. I'm only knitting it now because my sock yarn stash is so depleted that I'm down to the dregs.

I do love the Kona yarn. It's a sport weight and at 44 stitches a pair of socks knits up in a hot second. I made a basic sock in a garter stitch rib. For all that I disliked the color of the yarn I'm pleased with how they turned out.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Demonstrating for the Class

For sweater knitting this week I watched Brad Pitt in World War Z.  It's another fast zombie movie but since they weren't super fast I didn't mind and the movie was better than I expected.

During the movie I reached the place of separating the sleeves from the sweater. When trying it on I decided I didn't like how the patterning on the back was distorting the fabric so I ripped it back to the neckline to try again.

As the photo of the yarn impersonating a pile of ramen noodles wasn't in focus, here is a shot of Galen and Sumi-e demonstrating the zombie head crushing technique.

Don't worry, no heads are being crushed. I used to stop this every time I saw it but Sumi-e is the one that instigates it and he seems to like it.

This is the third dog Sumi-e has lived with. He ignored Joey, he hid from Finn, but Galen is different for some reason, and they play together several times a day. If it gets to be too much, Sumi-e stalks off with disdain and glowers from inside the safely of the cage made by the coffee table legs.

Monday, June 12, 2017


The Friday before Memorial Day my washing machine stopped working mid load. Uh Oh! Then less than an hour later I flushed my toilet and water cascaded into my basement. Ack! I have an emergency fund but I'm not in a place I can buy a new washer and have a plumber come out and replace anything in the same week. Queue the hyperventilating.

That's why I have a home warranty.

I might never recoup the yearly cost, which make sense as I am paying for a concierge service. I'm buying the piece of mind of calling them and they take it from there. Repairmen start showing up at my place. Phone calls are made to me asking how I'm doing. As I take care of everything myself it's nice to be able to hand a problem over to someone else sometimes and they take care of it for a flat fee.

The plumbing was fixed in 24 hours. The washer took 10 days from start to finish (I waited a few days to open the claim because of Memorial Day) and this afternoon a beautiful new washer was installed.

I accepted the washing machine they offered rather than taking the smaller payout to apply toward buying one on my own, and it is hands down the nicest washer I've ever owned. Perhaps the bar is set low as I've only had very old, very used washers and between owning spent years going to a laundromat. But when I opened it and looked down and realized it's load capacity is about double of what I've had to date I could hear angles sing.

It was nice to have it professionally installed instead of my reading step by step through the manual. I have confidence I can install a washer but I'm pleased I didn't have too. Then they removed the old one for me too. No fuss no muss.

This is the year it expires from purchasing my home and I wasn't decided if I would renew but now I'm sold. I'll be keeping it for another year at least.

During those 10 days my bathtub got used for hand washing some tees so I could make it through. Clearly, I need more clothes if I can't go 10 days so I also bought some new graphic tees online. I know. Any excuse. It's taken a year to rebuild my collection in a size that fits but this order finally put me at a rotation I'm comfortable with.
I used the hand washing time to finish a sweater. I wove in the ends as the tees soaked then it took it's own bath. After two days of drying it's almost done.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Play All Day

I had planned on writing a post about movie theater knitting and Marvel and TV knitting and watching Jessica Jones with friends on a Sunday morning. The hats were finished but stiff and needed a blocking before the photos. I quickly washed them and placed them outside to dry.

When I came out to take the photos I was greeted with this.

Galen had swiped the wool hat from the drying rack. He had been outside for a few hours and I suspect playing the whole time.

It looks like I have some decorative mending in my future.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse

Galen at the dog park showing off his Zombie fighting teeth.
So very fierce! And toothy!
Opp. Wait. Time to pose and be regal for the camera.

Season four of the Walking Dead everyone told Rick that he was still a good man and they did it all the time. It came up at least once an episode. If I was watching it weekly as it came out, like a normal person, I might not have noticed, but marathon watching it was glaring. Who were they trying to convince? Themselves? Rick? The audience?  Myself, I don't care if he is still good or not. I'm entranced and entrenched into the story.

With the first sweater done it's time for a new zombie apocalypse sweater. More digging deep into the dwindling stash. My computer died in December taking my stash spreadsheet with it but if memory serves it's from 2007. Yarn is FibraNatura Oak 50% Merino Wool 30% Silk 20% Linen.

I was excited to get it on clearance but then put it away for being... weird... with little tweedy bits of linen... and a brown that was just a little too red for my taste. It's perfect for that destructed, dirty, yet sexy look everyone sports during an apocalypse. It's also rich in lanolin (or spinning oil) and feels so good to knit. I'm glad that it survived every de-stash because it's beyond perfect.

Pattern is from my head as I go because there are no patterns in the apocalypse. There is barely scratch paper to draw out the schematic. I'm feeling pretty smug that I took the time to think through the sweater enough to have a schematic.

I splurged and bought season five of Walking Dead and plan to buy season six and seven too. In the meantime we spent the afternoon knitting on the couch after the dog park watching Will Smith in "I Am Legend"to keep the theme going. We do not like fast zombies at all. Yes, I know, it's plague movie and not really zombies but the fast is scary and way too fast to be believable and the crying dog distressed Galen quite a bit.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Walking Dead

My brother gave me seasons one through four of AMC Walking Dead for my birthday. Actually, I believe he loaned me seasons one through four of Walking Dead for my birthday. They are that good.

It's ok. We swap used DVDs as our gifts and when I'm ready to watch again I will be able to borrow them back I'm sure.
As I watched I knit this cool end of the world sweater. I dug deep into my dwindling stash and came up with my German sock yarn scraps. The Opal and Trekking XXL scraps and some Italian Regia for good measure.

This is the rugged sock yarn that never wears out and never dies and is perfect for the zombie apocalypse. I smoothed out my old tattered copy of Interweave Knits Fall 2007 to knit another Cobblestone by Jared Flood holding the scrap yarn double.

I absolutely love how it came out.

Galen disproves of the beautiful wood floors and runs over to sit down on anything soft the second he sees it. I neglect him terribly by not installing carpet.