Wesley’s Stocking

Last year, right after Thanksgiving, I came up with a brilliant plan: Design and knit THREE Christmas Stockings for Wesley, Rob, and myself, all in less than a month.  I knew it was crazy.  Typing it now I still know I was crazy. Back then when I told people what I was doing, I even told them I was crazy.  Turns out, I was right.  It was completely crazy.  Wesley’s stocking, the only one I even started, has been languishing since December 21, when it was completely obvious I was not going to finish in time for Christmas.

I sketched out patterns…

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I decided on color palettes, this one being mostly final…

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I finalized the pattern and order I wanted to use… I even color coded it, though that changed on the fly as I decided certain things did and did not work.

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And I knit…

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I’m actually most of the way done.  I’m working on one large snowflake motif at the top, then just need to add his name and a border, before working in an afterthought heel at the dark green line in the middle of the cream.  It’s really not a lot.  If I actually pick it up and knit on it, this stocking will ABSOLUTELY be done in time for Christmas.  Heck, I could finish it, and start designing and knitting two more.  That doesn’t seem like enough pressure for one season, though.  Maybe I’ll wait for summer.

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Denver Cowl

I’m posting this now in hopes it is forgotten by Christmas, because I have one Christmas present finished!  I have no idea who it is for, but it is done.  (Really, if you like this let me know, and it might find its way to you.)

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It’s a Denver Cowl.  It’s actually a great pattern because it’s designed to be used with highly variegated yarn like Miss Babs Yowza!, which is what I used. I have a bunch of her yarn sitting in my stash, Miss Babs being my favorite hand dyer, and this lovely skein of Excitement jumped out to be turned into a cowl.

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I know they aren’t spectacular pictures, but I’m rather OK with that as it might keep the excitement of someone unwrapping it in another 8 months while hopefully giving you a fairly clear visual of the cowl in case you’d like to try it yourself.

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I only used half a skein of Yowza! and could easily get a second cowl out of it.  Or maybe some matching fingerless mitts.  A headband?  I’m not sure.  Something else will be made to match.  Probably.

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Ham and Cheese Quinoa Bites

These are so delicious! I made 24 of them an hour ago, and already we are down to 8. Even Wesley ate two and a half.

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See?  He loves them.

A friend turned me on to this recipe from Iowa Girl – her Mini Ham & Cheese Quinoa Cups. I modified them, though I doubt I would have if I didn’t have to go to the grocery to get the correct ingredients.  I had things that substituted just fine, and still ended up with cheesy, crunchy, salty, bite sized deliciousness.

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You can follow the link above to check out her recipe, I’m sure it’s wonderful.  I’ll post mine with the modifications I made below.  There are also dozens of other combinations you can try in this.  Iowa girl lists BLT, Mushroom Swiss, Broccoli Cheddar, and I can think of any number more.  If I ever had leftover salmon, I’d love to toss that in here with some spinach.  Or substitute leftover risotto for the leftover quinoa.

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Besides the deliciousness, the best thing about these is that they are completely customizable and a huge kid pleaser.  You’ll need to make your own, though.  Wesley doesn’t want to share.

Ham and Cheese Quinoa Bites

2/3 cup of ham, diced into small pieces
1 cup of shredded pizza cheese (a blend of mozzarella, cheddar, asiago, and colby)
2 whole eggs
2 egg whites
the tops of 5 pieces of leftover broccoli, roughly chopped
2 cups of cooked quinoa
1 T dried parsley
garlic salt
pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and liberally coat a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray.

2. Mix eggs, cheese, ham, broccoli, salt, pepper, and parsley together in a bowl until well mixed.  Add quinoa and mix again.

3.  Spoon mixture roughly to the top of each muffin cup.

4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the outside of each Quinoa Bite is golden brown.  Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

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Wesley’s Hoodie

Perhaps what I am most proud of knitting this past year was Wesley’s Hoodie.  Ironically, the hood doesn’t fit very well, but he doesn’t like it anyway so I call it a draw.  The rest of the sweater is perfect, though.  See?

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Perfect.

Well, except for the hood. And the sleeves are too long.  But really, I’m calling it perfect anyway.

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I started with the Nate Hoodie pattern and a basic idea.  I wanted it to be boyish, but a little less crazily variegated than the models.  Instead of a variegated body, I wanted the variegated accent color.  I thought Wesley would look wonderful in the leftover Crop Circles from Kieran’s Blanket and decided on Knit Picks Swish Worsted in White to set off the green.  I’m really rather pleased with how it turned out.  My vision is not always accurate to the end result.

Because I wanted something extra on there, I designed a dragon on graph paper and then stitched it on afterwards using a darning needle and duplicate stitch.

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I was going to do a burst of fire in a different color, but decided it was too much and deleted it from the final design.  Simple complicated is better than complicated complicated, right?  (Woof, what an awful sentence.)

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I knit it two sizes too large for the fall, but he’s wearing that size now and winter is just coming to an end down here, so it was good planning all around.  It will be fun thinking about what to make for him next year. I’ve got a whole 100+ degree summer ahead of me to plan for a month of cold.

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Trillian

Back in October I started really picking up my knitting again.  I hadn’t done a whole lot last year, partially because of the baby, partially because Texas is so darn hot, and partially because I had enough to do without trying to make time for extra things, no matter how much I enjoyed them.  But, the right yarn and project came along, and I was able to find my way back to a hobby I’ve enjoyed for a decade.

There were a few false starts, projects I still haven’t picked back up or finished, before I found Trillian. It’s a pretty cool little garter stitch scarf with a very mild crescent shape and some interesting but easy lace.  I quite like the shape, and if I ever knit another one I might actually follow the pattern, but I wanted mine to be triangular, so I modified it.  No one should be surprised.  I never knit, cook, bake, bead, spin, etc, anything the way the directions say to.  That probably says something about me, but I’m going to leave that on the shelf for right now and pretend it doesn’t.

 

 

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I used Miss Babs Big Silk in the Everything Nice colorway, which is absolutely heavenly yarn.  I’m actually waiting for them to restock the website so I can buy more I enjoyed knitting with it so much.  It’s so soft, incredibly cushy, and surprisingly warm.  And who doesn’t love this color?

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For most of this past winter, this was my go-to scarf.  If it was too cold to go out in just a shirt, but too warm for a coat (and I do believe I’ve just described most of Texas winters), I’d wrap on this baby, toss on a light sweatshirt and go. It even made a few appearances at exercise class.

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Balsamic Salmon

So, it’s been six months since my last post.  That’s more or less the time that Wesley learned to crawl.  Now he’s walking, and what little time I had for blogging, or doing anything blog-worthy, has completely disappeared.  Or at least shrunk to a very small amount.  Still, I’ve kept track of things I wanted to share, and have finally made time to sit down and do just that.  With any luck I’ll get a month’s worth of blogs written up during nap time today, and then I can spend the next month compiling things again.  If I can ever figure out how to add a photo from my iPad, I might just be able to blog as I go again, but that seems like asking for a lot.

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Today I’ll be leaving you with one of my favorite recipes, and a fabulous weeknight dinner:  Balsamic Salmon.  It’s tender, delicious, tangy, and cooks in less than 20 minutes.  I may be home much of the day, but a great deal of time to put together a meal is a thing of the past, and I’m guessing it will be for the next decade or so.  (Someone tell me it won’t take two decades… I’m not sure I could take that.)

Balsamic Salmon

wild caught Salmon, cut into roughly equal 2-3 inch sections
salt
pepper
GOOD Balsamic Vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Coat a metal or ceramic pan with cooking spray and place salmon skin side down.

3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Place in oven for 12-15 minutes, or to desired doneness.

5.  When Salmon is finished cooking, drizzle Balsamic Vinegar over the fish and serve.

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Chocolate Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies

Despite the rather daunting name, these are the most delicious cookies.  They are soft, chewy, chocolatey, and minty.  Personally I think they taste like Thin Mints with a better texture.

There’s a secret to making really excellent cookies that I learned a few years ago from a professional chef. Apparently, most people don’t cream the butter and sugar together enough.  I didn’t.  There is a difference between mixing your butter and sugar together and creaming them.  When you cream butter and sugar the mixture should more than double in volume and turn a much lighter color. Like this:

A couple of years ago I had no idea that should happen and usually mixed the butter and sugar together for 30 seconds or so before moving on to the next step.  Now I let them mix for at least 4 minutes while I measure out all the other ingredients.  If you don’t already cream your butter that long, try it.

I started these cookies with the traditional Nestle Tollhouse recipe, then modified it a bit.  I added a bit more salt and a quarter cup of dutch cocoa powder.  So here’s my recipe for…

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies

2 cups and 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
1/4 cup dutch cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 12oz. bag of Nestle milk chocolate chips
1 12oz. bag of Andes mint chips

1. Preheat the oven to 375.

2. Add butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla to the bowl of a mixer and begin creaming on medium low.  Allow to run as you complete step 3.

3. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Give a quick whisk to mix thoroughly.

4. Add eggs, one at a time, to the mixer.

5. Add dry ingredients to the mixer slowly, allowing everything to combine well.

6.  Stir in the chocolate chips and mint chips.

7. Drop by the teaspoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes.  Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing.

Enjoy!

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