Friday, July 25, 2014

Knitting for Deadlines... Oh Look, a Food Truck!

Lately I've been diverting all of my energy to knitting a scarf for one of my best friends who just graduated from high school! We have been neighbors for our entire lives; I went to her 3rd birthday party, and the rest was history! I really wanted to make something nice for her graduation party (missed that deadline), so I spent every spare second re-watching Doctor Who and knitting furiously on her scarf so that I could finish it today before we met for dinner! The pattern I used was one of my own devising, based off of the logo of her school; the University of Minnesota:

I used some free website to do it. I can't remember which one it was, but I was kind of annoyed that making an account was required. My iPad was dead and I was too lazy to plug it in to access my stitch maker app... so I really can't complain!

Here is the final product! (The colors are a little richer in real life) It took me countless hours, and it paid off because this is one of the nicest scarves I think I've ever made! The gauge is so fine, and the yarn I chose was really soft. I hope she likes it! 

The other day, my mom was driving me to school to get some work done on a summer project, and out of the corner of my eye I saw two food trucks! They were parked outside an office complex where I'd never seen food trucks before. I asked my mom if we could stop and we quickly turned around to check out what they had to offer. Luckily, it was around lunch time, I hadn't eaten yet, and there were some delicious offerings!

The two trucks were one called Totally Cheese and one that sold specialty cupcakes!

We tried a Cuban sandwich and some rosemary fries! The sandwich was delicious, as were the fries, although the fries were a little too greasy for my taste. 

Rule of Life #1: Always stop for a food truck!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Making Rope and Keeping Hope!

This past weekend, we enjoyed the 4th of July in our usual typical, red, white, and blue fashion with the parade, having our neighbors over for our annual cookout and bonfire and going to see our town's fireworks display! Our favorite holiday is Independence Day because we are all so proud to live in America and it is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate what we have and to honor those who have given their lives so we may continue to enjoy our everyday comforts. I think this year was especially important as there has been so much disagreement and dissent lately in this country; but we have to remember who we are. I'm reminded of the song "Home" by Dierks Bentley when he sings:

"Free, nothing feels like free
Though it sometimes means we don’t get along
Cause same, no we're not the same
But that’s what makes us strong"

No matter what happens, I will always have faith and hope for this country and all the wonderful people who, like me, call it home. I hope you all enjoyed your Independence Day too!

Here is me (in the middle) with my two younger sisters at our early parade stakeout. We always go three hours early to get a shady spot and have lots of fun listening to country music and hanging out!


Yesterday was my grandpa's 85th birthday and so I made him a blueberry pie to take over to his house for the party:

Blueberry is his favorite, but I still cannot get the hang of making a berry pie that isn't runny with too much juice! As you can see the edges of the crust are saturated in juice... I've tried everything from tripling the amount of cornstarch to squeezing the berries before hand to trying different recipes. Nothing works. If anyone reading this has any tips I would be eternally grateful! At least it tastes great and with careful transport it looks great too (I did earn a blue ribbon at the fair for my blueberry pie once!). 

One of the main activities of the day was making rope! One of my oldest memories is making rope at my grandparents' house, and it was fun to actually learn how to do it all these years later, instead of enjoying a new jump rope resulting from someone else's labor, as I did before!

First you tie the twine between the crank part and the spider which is held a length away from the machine:

Which looks like this! Here is my youngest sister holding tight to the spider while the crank is being turned and the strands of rope are spinning together. After that, the spider is guided along the rope as the crank is slowly turned until the rope is plied!

Here is my finished rope! Not quite sure what I will use it for yet, but I'll think of something! 

Rope making, while similar to yarn spinning with the various steps of spinning and plying, is a lot more physically demanding, especially for the one holding the spider! But it was fun to spin for utility rather than art and see how one principle can work for many different materials and purposes!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

New Cities, New Yarn Shops!

This summer I am continuing my work in the theater costume shop at school and this past week, my boss sent my coworker and I on a field mission to help one of our graduates costume 150 children for a theater summer camp! It was nice to have a change of scenery (and air conditioning) and I was able to do a little exploration of the city as well.

The first thing I saw after I hopped off the train were some beautiful murals covering the walls of the pedestrian underpasses below the tracks. I saw this one and was so excited:


Although it was impossible to capture this mural in totality, this one tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, which I think is awesome. I read the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks over the summer for my junior English class in high school (it was on my list anyways) and was completely emotionally caught up in the unbelievably true story of a lapse in medical ethics and the author's journey to find the family and get them justice. Seeing the mural reminded me of the amazing book and made me glad that more people will be exposed to the story of the HeLa cells and the family behind them.

While at the the school, I got to do my favorite thing... gathering 928374 yards of fabric into a 24 inch waistband! There is something so satisfying about creating a perfectly gathered and full skirt. Maybe just because I love to wear skirts myself! If the 1950's cut of dress was more in style for everyday wear, my wardrobe would be filled with full, poofy skirts!

Here is the black tulle being gathered on the machine!

Next, I noticed there was a yarn store in the downtown shopping area of the city, so naturally I had to drop in and check it out!
What a cute location! (Photo Credit: Owner of shop)

The store was very welcoming and friendly and they had quite a variety of beautiful yarns. They had some especially pretty handspun yarns created by the owner and were very inspirational for me, the aspiring art yarn spinner. I also happened to find some great Peruvian wool yarn for my summer research project (more on that later) and picked some especially vibrant colors that caught my eye!

They are from Cascade and I cannot wait to work with them (I have so much to say about them but, as I said before, more on that later!!)

And before you scold me for buying MORE yarn without knitting any of what I already have, behold the new cowl I have added to my collection of Finished Objects (FO's):

It is super soft and the color is great! It was made from the honey cowl pattern on Ravelry and I am definitely satisfied with my finished object!

Well that is about all I have to say for now, I promise I will elaborate more about the summer project soon, so check back soon for an update on that! Happy yarning everyone!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Last Six Months, a Food Review

Wow. I can't believe my first year of college is over already, and what's more, I can't believe it's been six months since I last posted anything here! A smattering of friendly comments from visitors left during my absence have encouraged me to start again and I'm excited to share some of what I have been up to, and the fun that is yet to happen soon. Of course, there is much too much to put in one post, so I've decided to highlight some of my more grand adventures through the memorable milestones of food I've eaten!

Thanksgiving break:

Escargots! I've been wanting to try this for years and finally, based on the recommendations of fellow food enthusiasts, my mom took us to a nearby French restaurant to try the famed buttered snails. Verdict: I knew I'd like them, and they are indeed a wonderfully warm, soft delicacy!

Winter break:

I recently discovered the blog A Cozy Kitchen via PBS and for the holidays, the author posted some of her favorite recipes from her childhood in Peru. Needless to say, I had never tried Peruvian food and was curious to dive in and try some dishes!

Here is a dish called Papa a la Huancaina, a potato dish with a spicy cheese sauce and olive garnish. The depth of flavor in this dish was very unique and I really enjoyed making and eating this!
These cookies are a Latin American favorite called Alfajores and are a sandwich of butter cookies with dulce de leche in the center! I was skeptical of the recipe for the dulce de leche which involved boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for three hours in a pan, but it turned out deliciously well! These are definitely a keeper as they were a hit among friends, family, and coworkers alike!

Valentine's Day, er, GALentine's Day: My roommate and I went on a late night adventure to the city to go to Insomnia Cookies, a cookie place that is open until 3am in Lincoln Park. The cookies were delicious and we had a great time! I had an ice cream cookie sandwich that was absolute perfection.
St. Joseph's Day (or Italian St. Patrick's Day): Every St. Joseph's Day (March 19th), Italians everywhere make even more food than usual and we enjoy our yearly fix of zeppole: a special pastry filled with cream. My favorite is the cannoli flavored version and that is what I picked out this year!
                                                                  Trip to Washington DC: In April, I was fortunate to be able to go on a school sponsored trip to Washington DC and discovered what is now my favorite city in the country! Not only are there plenty of museums for me to get lost in, but our nation's capital is a foodie heaven!                                                                                   I once saw a food special on the Travel Channel and heard about the restaurant Etete which serves Ethiopian style food and I've dreamed of going there for the last 7 years! This is the platter we ordered as a group.
And of course, what trip to DC is complete without Georgetown Cupcakes, the famous shop featured on TV's DC Cupcakes? My friend and I chose cherry blossom, chocolate birthday cake, cherry cheesecake, key lime, vanilla chocolate birthday cake and red velvet! They were absolutely delicious and I cannot wait to go back!
End of the Year Adventure: At the end of the school year, I had to say goodbye to a handful of wonderful people who live out of state, and one of my especially good friends and I decided to go into the city to see Avenue Q as our last adventure of the year! The play was great, as was the food we encountered along the way!                                                                                                                                                                                    We stopped at a bakery for breakfast and I selected a maple bacon doughnut. I've always wanted to try one, and it was absolutely delicious! Unfortunately, I could nearly feel my arteries hardening following the consumption of the gargantuan treat so while I will probably never eat one again, I'm sure glad I got to try it once!
                                                                                                                                                    Later, for dinner, we stopped at Coobah, a restaurant serving chic interpretations of Caribbean food. I ordered a dish comprised of marinated chicken and apple between layers of carmelized plaintains with a pickled something and orange! It was really fantastic!
Now these are just some of the food highlights, I could go on for hours, but we'll end it here for today! Stay tuned for more updates soon about other activities I've been up to and what I am planning on accomplishing this summer!