Saturday, July 26, 2014

friday favorites v.5

Hello!  I hope you've had a great week.
Here are this week's Friday Favorites!

Sulamith Wulfing illustration
I love this detail from a 1936 illustration by Sulamith Wulfing.

pink lemonade poundcake
This pink lemonade pound cake looks delicious!  And of course, it would look so adorable displayed on a kitchen table.

madame x rad t-shirt tank top beyonce ego mona lisa t-shirt rad nicki minaj super bass
Rad is currently running a sale on a line called Fly Art.  I think the Madame X/BeyoncĂ© and
Mona Lisa/Nicki Minaj graphics are particularly clever.

a homespun house podcast
I've recently started watching a new-to-me knitting podcast, A Homespun House.  Molly is a wonderful host with a very calming voice.  Her knitwear is beautiful, and I love her granny-chic style.

purl bee hedgehogs knitting pattern
These knitted hedgies are so sweet!  I'd love to make a few just to have around the house.
I'm not crazy about that weird line of decreases on the face, though.  Must figure out a way to avoid that.

I hope you have a lovely weekend, full of all of your favorite things!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

nutella swirl banana bread

nutella swirl banana bread recipe baking

Today I'd like to share a successful baking experiment:  Nutella Swirl Banana Bread!  It's sweet without being cloying, and it is super-easy to make.  The prep time is literally ten minutes.

I based this recipe off my mom's delicious banana bread recipe, which she adapted from a cookbook put out by the Montessori school where my brother and I went to preschool.  I love the thought of passing my own version of one of my family's favorites along to you!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
a pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon (or, if you don't feel like measuring it out, a few generous shakes)
1 tsp nutmeg (not in a measuring mood?  one good shake ought to be about right.)
2 Tbsp. butter
2 eggs
2 bananas
3 generous spoonfuls of Nutella

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
3. In another bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and butter. (To be perfectly honest, sometimes I just mix them in with the dry ingredients right off the bat.  It doesn't seem to do any harm.)
4. Mash the bananas and add them to the sugar, eggs and butter.
5. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together.
6. Pour the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan.
7. Warm three generous spoonfuls of Nutella in a microwave or a saucepan-- don't boil it, you just want it to be warm enough to be easily stirred, about the consistency of hot fudge.
8. Drizzle the Nutella over the batter in the pan, then use a knife or a silicone spatula to marble it throughout the top layer of bread batter.
9. Bake for 50 minutes-- my oven is generally a little slow, so I had to leave my banana bread in for a little longer.  You'll know it's done when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  
10. After the bread cools (for as long as you can stand waiting), run a knife around the edge of the loaf pan to easily pop the banana bread out.  
11. Enjoy! 

I hope you enjoy this delicious treat!  It's so exciting when an experiment turns out well.
What's baking in your kitchen lately?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

snippets

Hi!  Here's a peek into what I've been up to lately.
queen anne's lace flower
All of a sudden, Queen Anne's Lace flowers are popping up everywhere!  One of my favorite things about my commute is seeing what is growing in the gardens in my neighborhood.
 siamese cat sleeping tongue out
The Buckster fell asleep with his tongue out.  Heehee.

 tea blue cup
 It's been cool enough this week to have tea in the morning.  Yay!

 squirrel and parrot in bird cage
 I walk past this bird cage every day, and usually there is a parrot in it.  But yesterday morning, he was joined by this squirrel, who was enjoying a snack of parrot food!  The parrot didn't even seem bothered about it.  When I walked by this morning, there were two sparrows in the cage with him.  Maybe he likes the company.

 knit swatch cable white cream tan neutral crochet
I went to the knitwear and yarn trend show, SpinExpo, for work, and I loved these two swatches.  The bottom one made me want to start crocheting a blanket in these beautiful, creamy neutrals with fuzzy angora bits here and there.  So pretty!

 cat sweater
It's always a good day for a cat sweater.  One of my coworkers brought this one back from Europe, and when it wasn't used for work, she gave it to me!  It makes me smile every time I look at it.

 siamese cats cuddling snuggling
Sometimes Cocoa decides it is time to snuggle right now.  And sometimes he doesn't care too much if Bucky is in the mood for snuggling.

I hope you're having a lovely week so far!

Friday, July 18, 2014

friday favorites v.4

Happy Friday!  
Here are a few of my favorite things for this week.

cat with umbrella 
this sweet umbrella-toting kitty

beadpassion gnome vegetable stitch marker 
beadpassion little house stitch markers 
these adorable gnome and vegetable stitch markers and little house stitch markers-- these are on their way to me for use on my super-secret knitting project, which requires lots of markers.

secret garden tattoo narnia lamppost tattoo matilda reading tattoo roald dahl 
Buzzfeed did an article compiling photos of tattoos related to children's books.  These three were some of my favorites-- The Secret Garden, the lamp-post from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Matilda reading her precious library books.

cozy room with woodstove 
This kitchen looks so cozy and comforting.  It reminds me so much of my parents' house.
(I couldn't find the source of this image-- anyone know?)

ok to be happy with a calm life
this is such a good message.  

I hope you are having a wonderful, relaxing end of your week!  I have been feeling a little bit tired and not feeling quite as sunshine-y as usual, so I am going to spend the evening spinning some lovely hand-dyed wool and watching AmĂ©lie, my go-to comfort movie.  I hope you have a cozy night too!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Impressions Jewelry by Romano Sculpture!

Hi there-- I hope you're having a wonderful week!

Today I'd like to share my mom's new Etsy shop, Impressions Jewelry by Romano Sculpture!  She creates beautiful, unique handmade jewelry using pearls and semi-precious stones.  I'm so impressed by the way she can combine colors and shapes and textures in ways that are completely unexpected and gorgeous.  Her shop officially launched on Sunday, July 13th, and it was stocked with 14 stunning pairs of earrings.

zebra jasper garnet pearl earrings 
sunstone pearl earrings semi-precious handmade 
The sunstone in this pair has the prettiest subtle sparkle when it catches the light!

Yellow Jade white agate carnelian earrings bohemian boho 
earrings black onyx pink pearls romano sculpture 
I love my mom's take on the classic color combination of pink, black, and white.  They're a bit feminine and a bit tough.

grey Botswana agate pearl earrings 
baroque pearl earrings pink white opalescent mermaid beach wedding bride 
This pair is one of my favorites-- the Baroque pearls are so beautiful and I've never seen anything else  like them!

yellow jade obsidian white agate quartzite earrings 
smoky quartz coin pearl earrings modern edgy 
romano sculpture impressions earrings coin pearls moonstone rose quartz aquamarine pink blue 
This pair reminds me of a walk on the beach at night-- the luminous moon shining on bits of beach glass.

blue angelite white coin pearl earrings romano sculpture 
back onyx earrings rose gold yellow gold sterling silver handmade 
I love this pair-- the combining of sterling silver, rose gold, and yellow gold looks so modern against the sleek black onyx.

amazonite tourmaline pearls black onyx purple violet blue earrings 
One of my favorite aspects of these earrings is the mix of textures.  The pearls are polished, but soft, in contrast to the matte finish of the amazonite and the reflective smoothness of the tourmaline and onyx.

zebra jasper carnelian pearl safari earrings bohemian boho 
sunstone rosebud pearls green stone earrings handmade beach semi-precious
This pair is no longer in the shop, as they have already sold, but they were one of my favorites and I couldn't resist posting them anyway!

Which pair is your favorite?  If you would like to stay up to date with Impressions Jewelry by Romano Sculpture, add it to your Etsy list of favorite shops so that you can see new pieces as they are added!  Custom work is also welcome-- my mom is happy to work with you to create the perfect jewelry to give as a gift, or to wear for a special occasion! (I've already asked my mom if she will make my bridal jewelry, when the time comes!)

Thank you for letting me share my mom's beautiful new creative endeavor with you-- I am so proud of her and so impressed with her work!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

summer sky citron

There are few knitting-related things more satisfying than planning out a project and having it turn out just as you'd hoped.  Happily, that was exactly what happened with my handspun Citron shawl!  Yay!  I started out with eight ounces of beautiful blue and white roving from Skirted Fleece Mill, in a soft, perfectly prepared merino/alpaca/silk blend.  It came from the mill labeled as 'Snow Angels,' but the colors looked to me more like fluffy clouds in a summer sky.
  spinning roving skirted fleece mill 
 I debated whether to spin this into a two-ply yarn, for a more barber-poled look, or to chain-ply it to keep the gorgeous, pure colors together.  In the end, I decided to two-ply it to prevent weird color-pooling when the rows on the knitted shawl got very long towards the end. 
 spinning bobbins 
 
 blue white handspun yarn 
After plying, I had 888 yards of a fingering-weight yarn.  It's one of my favorite handspun yarns to date-- the merino kept it from becoming too wiry even though I was spinning thin, the alpaca added some staple length to the shorter-staple merino, and the silk gave the yarn a beautiful sheen.  And of course, the fiber prep was gorgeous.  This is the second fiber I've spun from The Skirted Fleece (this was the first one) and both braids have been a pleasure to work with.  There have been virtually no felted bits at all, and the fiber is dyed consistently through the braid, not just on the outer layer.  

And for all of the above reasons, I bought four more eight ounce braids of fiber at The Skirted Fleece Mill when I went to visit my mom for a weekend.

I regret nothing.
 handspun yarn merino alpaca silk 
I cast on the Citron Grande pattern a few days before my trip to Boston as relaxing travel-knitting, and I finished it in two and a half weeks. The very, very long purl-back rows at the end got a bit tedious, but over all, I really enjoyed this project.  

 handspun knitting citron shawl 
I'm so happy with how the finished shawl turned out!  It's huge and light and airy, and it's very cozy either wrapped close to my neck like a scarf or wrapped around my shoulders like a socially acceptable Snuggie.  It's hard to imagine needing it at the moment, since it's been so hot that I run the risk of actually melting every time I leave my apartment, but when winter gets here, I know I'll be glad that I made myself a hoard of knitwear.
 handknit citron grande handspun 
 The only modification that I made to the pattern was that instead of knitting my increases through the back loop to close up the holes, I knitted into the front of the increases to create a radiating pattern of eyelets.  I did this by accident on my first Citron shawl, when I was a newer knitter, and I liked it so much that I decided to do it intentionally this time. 
 handspun shawl blue white 
As soon as I finished this project, I wanted to start a zillion other ones.  I cast on a pair of socks and a shawl, spun up a four ounce braid of Malabrigo merino (and speaking of felted bits and inconsistent dyeing, Malabrigo roving, I am looking right at you.  Good thing you're so pretty), spun a Loop Bullseye Bump (perfect prep, I want to buy a hundred more of them), and did tons of knitting on a super-secret project.  And I'm having to resist the urge to cast on a hat and another shawl and some fingerless mitts.  I want to knit and spin all the things!  I think it's the influence of those sneaky KnitGirllls.  I want to win Stash Dash!  For non-knitters, that means knitting or spinning a 5K worth of yarn, or 5,468 yards, before August 7th.  At the moment, I'm at 3381.2 yards.  I think I'm going to make it!

What projects are inspiring you lately?  

Monday, July 7, 2014

boston

Hi there!  Today I'd like to share a few pictures and memories from a trip to Boston that my boyfriend and I took a few weeks ago. 
 beach 
 I took the train from New York, which was completely pleasant.  The views out the window were beautiful.  This was also my first experience with something truly spectacular:  the Quiet Car.  I can't even describe how wonderful it was to sit on a train knowing that nobody would be yelling into their phone as though they were screaming across a football field, or-- actually, I can't even come up with an 'or.'  The cell phone thing is what gets to me.  Anyway, it was marvelous.  I listened to podcasts and knit the whole way to Boston, and I had my own seat the whole time.  Apparently, not everyone is crazy about the idea of sitting in a train car where you can't make noise, but to me, it was ideal.  I love train rides, and this was one of my favorite ones yet.
 swan boats boston public gardens 
 My grandmother used to take my mom and my brother and I to Boston every year, and every year I was so excited to go on the Swan Boats in the Boston Public Gardens.  It turns out that I get just as excited about them as an adult!  Since we went on a grey morning with some sprinkles of rain, there was no line at all.  It was just as lovely as I remembered.  There was a pair of nesting swans next to the lake, and the swan who was on the nest moved just enough that we could see the eggs!  It was very exciting.  I didn't want to disturb them by trying to take a picture, so instead, I just hissed "Look! Eggs!  Look!  Eggs!" repeatedly to my boyfriend, who had, in fact, pointed out the eggs to me.
 arch of roses 
Completely by chance, we came across a rose garden on our way to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  I've never seen so many roses in one place!  And I've gotta say... There aren't too many things better than walking hand in hand with someone fantastic through arches of roses.  I highly recommend it. 
 boston red sox ortiz 
We also went to two Red Sox games!  I hadn't been to a baseball game in years, and it was my boyfriend's first time at Fenway Park.  He's an avid Red Sox fan, and David Ortiz hit a home run on his birthday.  So that was pretty great.  It turns out that I really like baseball!  I've known for a while that it's my favorite sport, mostly because it's one of the few sports where I am both interested and can figure out what is going on, more or less, but it turns out that I really like it.  I wore a baseball hat twice and I've worn it to the grocery store since.  I even have a favorite player!  (It's Jackie Bradley Jr., in case you're wondering.  I like him because he has cute chipmunk-cheeks and because the first few measures of his walk-up song sound like they're being sung by Alvin.  I obviously have very strict priorities for choosing favorite players.)
 swan boats boston
We had such a wonderful time.  It was a perfect blend of revisiting my favorite places from previous trips and going on brand new adventures and making brand new memories.  Boston is definitely still my favorite city (sorry, New York) and it was so much fun to experience it with such a special person.  

Where are you all traveling to this summer?  I hope your week is off to an excellent start!