taking stock / 01

Making: a smaller version of Brooklyn Tweed's Umaro Blanket for my sweet, new baby niece
Drinking: green smoothies every morning, herbal tea in the evening
Reading: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up because yes, I am a bandwagon-jumper and it's too easy to buy Kindle books
Wanting: to shrink my wardrobe, my yarn stash and my book collection (see above)
Watching: Northern Exposure, my favorite wintry show, on a nonstop loop
Listening: SO. MANY. PODCASTS! current faves: Pomcast, Woolful, How Did This Get Made, and The Splendid Table
Planning: episode 14 of the podcast!
Eating: soup. so much soup. what else do you make for weekday lunches? this soup thing is getting tiiiiiired.
Wearing: turtlenecks basically all day every day. it's cold out there, y'all. and as Diane Keaton says in Something's Gotta Give, "I'm just a turtleneck kind of gal."
Writing: with actual pen and paper in my new Hobonichi Techo planner, which I'm using as a planner, journal and knitting notebook. 
Trying: to not fall into the wintry despair that seems to arrive in February with lots of brisk walks in the sunshine
Feeling: inspired by beautiful blogs like Mandarine's, Raincloud & Sage, Jay Kay Knits, and Madder.

recipe: weeknight lentil and vegetable soup

When the weather gets bone-chillingly cold, it's difficult to convince myself to cook a fresh, bright, veggie-laden meal. I'd rather have macaroni and cheese knowing I'll feel terrible and bloated after. Or a million leftover Christmas cookies. Or, or, or... you get it. But it's a new year and a time for intention -- see what I did there?

That said, I also love making a huge pot of steamy soup to warm myself up, to have plenty of work lunches for the week, and to soothe my soul. Turn to my quick refrigerator-clearing lentil and vegetable soup. We'll take the simplest ingredients, things you likely already have in the pantry and fridge, and turn it into a bowl of something comforting. We'll pre-boil the lentils to speed up the cooking time. We'll toss all the vegetables wasting away in the crisper into a pot. We'll save a few bucks on those lunches at work with ease. We'll feel victorious and virtuous.

This is another endlessly adaptable recipe, so give it a try and then make it your own. Here's my version.

Weeknight Lentil & Vegetable Soup
Serves 6-8

2 cups black, brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium-sized yellow onions, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 28 oz. can of diced or crushed tomatoes
1 bunch of kale, deveined and chopped

Cover lentils with 2 inches of water in a saucepan. Boil for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. In a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until tender, a few minutes. Then add carrots and garlic and continue sauteing for another 5 minutes. Add seasonings. Stir in tomatoes, lentils and 3 cups of water. Let the soup come up to a boil and reduce to a simmer for at least 30 minutes. Stir in kale and continue cooking for another minute. Remove from heat and check for seasoning.

thoughts on a new year.

I'm not much for New Year's resolutions. I love setting goals, but I think resolutions can be limiting and we can end up setting ourselves up to fail. However, I love the feeling of a fresh start. There's so much promise there. I like to approach a new year with the hope of what's to come, which is what led me to starting this tiny little podcast and blog of mine in the first place.

With this fresh start in mind, I wanted to share a few words and ideas I'd like to focus on in a big way in this next year, and how I expect they'll affect my craft and this space.

intention: Stop pinning my focus on schedules or what patterns everyone else is knitting (which I am wont to do). Create things that inspire me. Work with tools and fibres that I find fulfilling. Document the process as it feels right to me. Stay true to my aesthetic and rhythm. 

simplicity: I am most inspired by basic garments and get overwhelmed with too many projects on my plate. Keep this in mind and think about progress in small, manageable steps.

community: I am always in awe of the incredible people who reach out to me because of this space. My biggest goal in starting a podcast was to foster a community of like-minded crafters. Keep engaging with folks and hearing their stories.

What is inspiring you as we begin 2015? Do you make resolutions or goals, crafty or otherwise, at the start of a new year? I'd love to hear about it. Thanks for stopping by.

Episode 13 - A Dramatic Pause

Thank you so much for joining me today. Hello to both new and returning viewers! I'm so glad you're here.

Falling For Shawls KAL/CAL giveaway winners announced! Thank you to Kristen of Skein Yarn & the Skein Yarn Podcast for generously providing one of the prizes.
Off The Needles: Imposter's Shawl
On The Needles: Wintry Whispering Pines Shawl, Cozy Cranberry Socks, Tweedy Boyfriend Hat
Stash Acquisitions:  Savannah Bee Beeswax Hand & Nail Salve, Sublime Yarns Luxurious Aran Tweed, ChiaoGoo Bamboo Circular needles
On The Stovetop: Mexican Quinoa Soup, Rishia Zimmern's Chicken and Shallots  (I subbed coconut oil for butter and dried herb de provence for tarragon.)

Use the #knitwithTHK hashtag on Instagram to share your latest knitting and yarny inspirations with me!

Again, thank you so much for joining me. Please drop me a note to let me know what you think or share the episode with someone you know. iTunes reviews are greatly appreciated!

recipe: mexican quinoa soup with chicken

Over Thanksgiving, I had the entire week off from work to spend time with family and recuperate. So of course, I got sick. On Monday (err, today), I started my new job and I already have a feeling that my coworkers are tired of hearing me sniffling. You can only drink so much hot tea and rinse your sinuses with saline so many times, so here's a marvelously tart and spicy soup to the rescue!

Mexican Quinoa Soup with Chicken
Serves 6-8

1 medium red onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 glug good olive oil
1 cup red quinoa
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup frozen corn
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (optional)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne 
salt and pepper to taste
1 lime, juiced

Saute chopped red onion, chopped carrot and minced garlic in olive oil until soft. Add quinoa and toast a few minutes more being careful not to burn. Add stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and frozen corn along with seasoning and simmer for 5 minutes. If using chicken, add whole breasts with corn and tomatoes and continue simmering on medium high heat for 20 - 30 minutes until opaque. When fully cooked, shred chicken breasts and return to soup. Add lime juice prior to serving. If the quinoa has soaked up too much broth for your liking, add additional stock as desired.

Serve with fresh parsley, cilantro, shredded cheese, avocado -- whatever your heart desires. And I bet this would be fabulous with some green chiles for an extra kick! 

adapted from The Daily Muse Blog

finished object: the mighty imposter's shawl

The Falling For Shalws KAL is still going on in The Hungriest Knitter podcast group on Ravelry, and while I've been impossibly swamped with life business (so much work stuff, car troubles & apartment problems colliding all at once), I have made a little time to knit. What I haven't made time for is podcasting, and I promise there's an episode coming soon! In the meantime, I am thrilled that I finally finished my Imposter's Shawl and hey, I love it so so much!

The construction of the body of the shawl is seriously a piece of cake. The increase methods are pretty ingenious and I love the look of the faux-woven pattern. The edging, on the other hand, took me a few tries. Picking up the stitches was easy-peasy -- I don't want to reveal any of the methods of this paid pattern, needless to say, just trust me here. The actual knitting of the faux-crocheted edge, however, led to a few false starts. My first attempts looked so lumpy and bumpy that I knew even an aggressive blocking wouldn't fix it all. After knitting the edging more tightly, I think it turned out well enough. I have a feeling that going down a needle size would have helped, too.

A good soak and blocking job is what truly makes this shawl sing. Blocking wires would be of great use here, but I just went with a ton of t-pins and my new Knitter's Pride Knit Blockers and was pretty pleased with the results. This shawl is primarily intended to be worn as a scarf, but it's an easy pattern to knit into a larger size. I'm thrilled with how the yarn washed up - I used Bartlettyarns Fisherman 2-ply, and after a good soak, the fibers relaxed and softened a great deal.

This is all to say: The Imposter's Shawl is a fun and cleverly designed pattern. You should knit one, too.

Episode 12 - Fall is coming!

Thank you so much for joining me today. Hello to both new and returning viewers! I'm so glad you're here.

On the needles: Cozy Cranberry Socks, Imposter's Shawl, Wintry Whispering Pines Shawl
Marinating: Color Affection by Veera Valimaki in Neighborhood Fiber CompanyCampside by Alicia Plummer from Pom Pom Quarterly blog
Stash Acquisitions: Knitter's Pride Karbonz
On the town: Room 11 for burnt sugar old fashioneds
On the stovetop: Strawberry Plum and A Playful Day for autumnal food inspiration
Tell me about your favorite food books -- cookbooks, essays, memoirs, whatever. Here's the thread in the Ravelry group.

Hello hello to Kate of the Stitch Addiction podcast & a huge thank you for mentioning my Guernsey Wrap... which still needs blocking. Eep. Are you watching her podcast? You should be!

Falling for Shawls KAL/CAL
Knit or crochet a shawl for the fall. Runs now through November 1. Feel free to double dip with other knitalongs. Join us in the thread for chatter and link to your projects on Ravelry, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #fallingforshawlskal.

Thank you to Kristen of Skein Yarn and the Skein Yarn Podcast for providing our first prize for the KAL -- a single skein of yarn from Kristen's beautiful array of bases and colorways, winner's choice. 

The second prize I'm announcing today is a skein of Neighborhood Fiber Co's Studio Sock yarn in the Rock Creek Park colorway. Fabulous!

You are eligible for prizes regardless of when you finish your shawl -- it's all about community and participation! The more you chatter in the thread, the more chances you have to win a prize. If you're interested in contributing a prize, please contact me!

Thank you so much for joining me. Please stop by and let me know what you think or share the episode with someone you know. iTunes reviews are greatly appreciated!

Stay hungry.

recipe: lacto-fermented pickles

During my vacation in San Francisco, I came down with the most righteous of stomach viruses. Boy, was I down for the count. For days, nothing but brothy soups (if anything at all) sounded appealing.

That said, I really did a number on my gut flora. I've been feeling a lot of unpleasant gastrointestinal issues since then, which I will refer to as "crummy tummy" for politeness's sake. And when crummy tummy strikes, you want nothing more than to put on your coziest sweatpants and curl up in bed, which is particularly annoying when you're at the office. Or out on a date. Or just trying to live a normal life.

So here I am again, realizing that my diet needs a major overhaul, with a focus on good probiotics to get me through. Drinking a "tea" of hot water with a splash of apple cider vinegar (unpasteurized, the one with "The Mother," if you please) and a bit of honey has helped. Kefir is great with granola and fruit (just be sure to check the ingredients for sugar and other unnecessary additives). And pickles can do wonders! But no, not the ones you find in the regular grocery aisle -- those are really just brined in vinegar and aren't fermented at all. Luckily, proper pickles are easy to make at home, so here's my recipe:

Small batch lacto-fermented pickles 

3 tablespoons sea, pickling or kosher salt (no iodized salt, here!)
1 quart purified/filtered water
3 cups of veg, chopped into small, even pieces (think cauliflower, carrots, onions, red bell peppers and green beans) 
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1-2 grape leaves (optional, to help keep pickles crisp)

Combine salt and water in a mixing bowl and stir until dissolved. Place the remaining ingredients in a large, clean mason jar. Pour the salt water over the veg, leaving one inch of room at the top of the jar. Cover tightly and leave on your kitchen counter. Open the jar about once daily to taste and release any gases produced during fermentation. If any mold or scum appears, simply skim it off. When your veg tastes "pickley" enough for you, move the jar to the refrigerator to slow the fermentation process. Your pickles will keep for well over a month in the fridge.

Recipe from The Kitchn.