OWCH.

So, I went to bed last night sleepy after a good day of work and play. And then I woke up around 5 am — or rather, I think I went to roll over, and a not-so-pleasant twinge in my back woke me up. I think my hours of writing are catching up with me. Anyway, it took me forever to get myself out of bed and to the Advil. I was very sleepy, and muttering things like, “I need help. There’s no one here to help me” to myself. (Not helpful.) Poor Boh was very confused. The Advil helped me to get back to sleep, and when I actually got up, it became clear that while I was a bit more mobile than I’d been in the middle of a REM cycle, I was not doing a good job of turning my head to the right. OWCH.

Some stretching, some coffee, and a phone call to a massage therapist, and I’m feeling a little better. I’m functioning, but slowly. (And I’ve got an appointment for a massage.) If this is what 30 feels like, I don’t like it one bit. I’ve got a conference paper and a diss-chapter-chunk to finish up, both of which will likely progress more slowly now that my neck and back are in revolt. Boo. Allow me to distract you (and myself) with some pictures of very pretty fiber:

Floating Down (Hello Yarn Fiber Club, 75% BFL/25% Tussah Silk) singles on the bobbin.

A close-up, pre-soak.

Draped over my arm. Aren’t these colors lovely?

The whole thing, ready to air dry. I’ve got just over 400 yards of singles here, and I can’t wait to cast on something in it. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to take a few days off from yarn and fiber to let this twinge in my neck/back heal, but at least I can daydream about shawl and cowl patterns, right?

daffodils, more dumplings, dessert…

And some other things that don’t begin with D.

Daffodils coming up near my front steps.

More dumplings.

These delicious Brown Butter Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies from Joy the Baker. (Public service announcement: browning butter can be dangerous. Or at least mine was — my butter did a fair bit of sputtering and spitting as the water evaporated. It was worth it, though.)

Lovely sunset.

Sweet dog.

Cowl knitting and spinach.

And some spinning! This is BFL from the Hello Yarn Fiber Club in “Scorch.” I spun it as a 3-ply, and while I think I began this (long ago) with socks in mind, I’m not sure there’s quite enough yardage. That’s okay, though. I still love it. There were 183 yards, pre-bath. More photos after I’ve set the twist.

And then I just wanted to keep going. This is “Floating Down” from the Hello Yarn Fiber Club, and I’m spinning this luscious BFL/Tussah Silk blend as singles. So, so pretty.

Okay, back to work. On today’s list? Commenting on papers, finishing a conference paper, and writing another page or two of this diss-chapter-chunk. (Later, I plan to reward myself with a movie and a margarita.)

porch dinner season.

These blossoms downtown can only mean one thing: porch dinner season has begun.

I asked D how he wanted to celebrate his birthday. The answer? Dumplings. So last night, he, T, and their charming child, W, came over with Coltrane to splash paws and hands in the lake, enjoy a beer on the dock, and eat dinner (and drink sake) on the porch.

A good time was had by all.

And after they headed home to put W to bed, I snapped this picture of the sunset. I know it is supposed to cool down a bit this week, but even so, I’m super thankful for this burst of sunshine and warmth. I think a lot of us needed it.

I finished the first sleeve of Kerrera, and I’m onto working the sleeve cap of the second. I shortened the sleeve length and ripped back a couple of rows of the double garter stitch cuff to get the right length.

And while I worked on that, Boh continued to refine his lounging skills. Nice work, sweet dog.

word count rewards.

I managed to transcribe a bunch of research photos and write 500 words, so when I got home from the coffee shop, I gathered up my sweet dog and a tasty beverage and headed to the dock. (Oh, and the latte and the brownie I enjoyed at the coffee shop? Those weren’t rewards. I call those “motivation.”)

It was a beautiful afternoon, and it felt like summer: at least 75 and sunny, with just the faintest hint of a breeze off the lake.

Sorry, Boh. You have to actually do the writing to enjoy the reward. I’m realizing this week that it feels good to just focus on one big thing, rather than the pile of tasks on my to-do list. I will need to start easing myself back into grading and prepping for Monday’s class soon, but for now, this glorious weather and the chance to get some of my own work done is really nice.

I was slow to leave the house yesterday, in part because I wanted to make something tasty in my new pot. After flipping through several cookbooks on my shelf, I settled on a recipe for a curry root vegetable stew with dumplings from Amanda Hesser’s huge New York Times cookbook. This is actually the first thing from this cookbook I’ve made — and I can’t wait to go back.

This came together really quickly, and the dumplings were hearty without being heavy. Plus, I got to use up some of my root veggie stockpile. And all I needed to do was heat it up again for dinner after hanging out by the lake with Boh. Win/win.

I’ll definitely make this again. Oh! And I even did some knitting yesterday. Check out my sleeve progress on Kerrera:

I added more decreases, working my way down to the smallest sleeve circumference for a slightly narrower fit, and shortened the sleeves by about 15 rows, as I want to make sure they aren’t super long after blocking. This morning I began the fancy double garter st cuff. More of that if I get a good chunk of work done today…

swoon.

Meet the newest addition to my kitchen: a beautiful turquoise-y blue 7 1/4 quart Le Creuset french oven. This arrived yesterday, an overwhelmingly kind birthday gift from my dearest friend, in celebration of my 30th birthday. I was so excited that I cooked my dinner in it, even though I didn’t really need quite so big a pot for this particular meal.

I made Deb’s garlic butter roasted mushrooms, and oh-my-goodness were they delicious. I can’t wait to make something else in my new pot today!

My WIP sorting a few days ago led me to pick up my Kerrera again, after months (maybe even a year?) away. I’d stopped after working the body and joining the shoulder seams. The next step was a short-row sleeve cap and the sleeves. I was a little nervous about the short rows, but the instructions for handling the W+T and the wraps on the following rows are very clear in this pattern, and that helped a lot. Now I’m working on the straight portion of the sleeve!

It feels fully like spring or early summer here, so even if I work diligently on this, I probably won’t get to wear it until fall, but that’s okay. It seems I’m always knitting out of season!

I’ve been enjoying my spring CSA greens every which way: on a sandwich with sprouts, under a fried egg, over rice — I can’t get enough.

And here’s a sweet shot of Boh, cuddling on the couch. He’s such a good boy. Alright, time to make a plan for the day. (I’m hoping I’ll get enough writing done that Boh and I can fit in a long walk.)

saturday.

I took yesterday off. Like, completely off. And I’m pretty sure it was the first day in a REALLY long time that I did that. (I’m pretty sure I even did a little bit of work every day that I was out of town for my best friend’s wedding.) Back to yesterday. What did I do?

Well, I was lazy. And so was Boh. All morning. And then I went to pick spinach at my summer/winter farm’s open house. And on the way home, Boh and I spontaneously stopped for a quick walk along the rim of a nearby gorge.

So beautiful. And Boh was so excited. Then, I cast on a new knitting project with yarn recently released from a WIP, and learned a new-to-me cast on — the tubular cast on. By the time I cast on all 180 stitches of Lilac Wine, a simple cowl in 1×1 rib, I had gotten the hang of it. And then I made a quart of cold-brew tea and took the tea and my knitting out to the porch.

Except you can’t see any knitting in that picture, so here’s a shot from this morning of my progress so far:

The yarn is Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Nova Scotia (I think…that’s how long it has been since I first wound up this yarn and cast on a Milkweed shawl). I’m knitting it on 7s, and the ribbing was almost too loose at first, but now that I’m a couple inches in, I think I really like the drape I’m getting at this gauge. (I’m also expecting it to bloom a little bit when I block it.) This pattern seems like a really nice way to enjoy variegated yarn. Also, a great way to always have some easy knitting handy, which is part of why I cast on. My dear friends D and T (the folks with Coltrane, my favorite greyhound) invited me over for dessert, port, bourbon, and a movie last night — which meant that I needed movie knitting. All of my projects seemed be at spots requiring my full attention — or at least more than movie-watching attention — so I needed dto start something new. When I got to their house, this happened:

In fact, the second I turned off the car, this cat was on the hood, and it was a bit of a challenge to get myself out of the car without the cat coming in. (This cat belongs to a neighbor.) It then proceeded to settle itself right on top of the sunroof, so I snapped this picture.

Boh and I hope you’re having a great weekend. We have plans for a sunset walk and a drink on the dock with a friend. I’m doing some work today, but aiming for the kind of balance that actually makes it feel like the first weekend of spring break.

organizing.

Organizing my knitting projects, I mean. Last night, while waiting for it to be midnight, which is when I made my students’ current essay due, I decided to empty out the bag o’ knitting that lives in the family room, mostly because I’ve been so busy with new/gift projects that I hadn’t looked in there in awhile.

Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I ended up pulling out every WIP I could think of. (Only the stuff in the tote bag is pictured above.) I put away needles, filed patterns (like I’ve looked in my knitting binder since Ravelry really took off…), and even decided to frog things I haven’t touched in years. The Thermal sweater I started in BLACK fingering weight yarn 5 years ago? Frogged. The Milkweed shawl I knit 5 rows of and put away because of something with a deadline? Frogged. The adorable Manresa legwarmers I started knitting — right after I started knitting? Bound off, right where I was. I’m totally keeping the beautifulness of my stranded knitting, despite the fact that the floats on the wrong side are atrocious, and so tight that the legwarmer probably wouldn’t even fit Boh in places!

Still, I’m keeping this as a reminder of my fearlessness as a new knitter. Maybe I need to give colorwork another go sometime soon? I also moved a bunch of my WIPs into places where I’m more likely to knit: some near my spot on the couch, and some next to my bed. I even moved a lamp I rarely use into a spot in my bedroom that will help me to see what I’m knitting — or reading. This is long overdue, as I’ve had nights where it has been hard to get to sleep. Other things I’m organizing?

Veggies! I joined a spring CSA, which is super exciting. The farm I belong to in both the summer (June-November) and the winter (December – mid-March) takes a break from providing veggies in the spring in order to get everything ready for summer. It is always a rough time of year, and I spend it anxiously waiting for awesome veggies. This year, I don’t have to wait! A local farm has rolled out a plan to fill in this gap, and is offering a mid-March through May CSA, and I got my first box this week: crunchy sprouts, braising greens, red Russian kale, local honey, and pickled ginger. Yum!

And maybe, to keep with my blog post theme, I’m organizing myself. Yesterday I lounged about all morning, Skyped with a dear friend, and generally took it easy. Then I put on a pretty outfit, and went to a coffee shop, and did not leave until I’d written 800+ words. The draw of meeting a friend for a beer when she got off work at 5:30 helped me to keep going. If I can do 4 hours of writing work most days this break, I’ll be really happy.

And here are a couple of porch pictures: me reading, Boh lounging. (As it should be?) I’m thinking we’ll do a bit of this today, weather permitting!

friday again.

Oops. I snapped lots of blog-worthy photos this week, but didn’t find the time to actually upload or post. Maybe this whole pictures-from-last-week thing is my default blogging rhythm this semester? Anyway, here’s what I’ve got:

Egg, avocado, sriracha, and cheese on toast.

Beans, greens, and reading. (This was a super delicious, energy-boosting meal heavily modified from a recipe in one of Heidi’s Super Natural  cookbooks — I swapped kale for dandelion greens, and butter beans for chickpeas.)

Coffee and oatmeal with bananas, peanut butter, and agave syrup. Breakfast of champions.

Some sock knitting, almost to the heel flap. (And a sleeping pup.)

Sunset on the lake. Stunning. Daylight savings meant that I got home early enough to snap this photo.

Striped baby hat number 2. This one went to my cousin’s daughter, on the occasion of her baptism this weekend. I hope it fits!

The first bloom in my yard. I moved here in May, so I’m still discovering what’s in the yard. Hooray for spring flowers! (Anybody know what this is?)

Sushi. A lot of it. A group of my favorite grad-school friends have been getting together to watch The Bachelor and offer some analysis — which is fascinating and a lot of fun because it is so different from what we work on. And since weekends are filled with work, it feels super indulgent to set aside some time on Monday night for something like this. The sushi was to celebrate the finale. (And we were definitely ready for it to be over!)

My sweet dog, sunbathing on the porch. Which is totally what I feel like doing. Yesterday the weather was glorious, and I was able to enjoy the sunshine on my way to the post office, and then as I did all of the errands I’ve been putting off for a couple of weeks. I mailed my last grant application of the season, and today marks the start of spring break — which doesn’t mean I’m taking a break, exactly, but means I get to shift my focus from my teaching to my writing, and that I get to focus on one thing instead of seven. Or something. I’m planning to take it easy this morning, and then get some writing done this afternoon. Hooray — and happy Friday to you.

(almost) FO: hap blanket.

I’m on a roll. Yesterday, between writing the first paragraph of something that will be a draft of the first chapter of my dissertation (yay!), and attending a colloquium on campus, I bound off the hap blanket I started months ago as a wedding present for C and A, who got married at the end of November. I’m so happy with how this turned out. I even cuddled with it while watching Colbert!

I’m really happy with the size, pre-blocking, and I bet I’ll get another inch or so in length and width when I block out the feather and fan border. All that remains is to weave in the ends and give it a soak — which means, C and A, you should have it before it gets too hot in Florida…

No actual knits in this picture, but I snapped this because I’m wearing my new pashmina, which was the gift all of the bridesmaids received at M’s wedding last weekend. The color is lovely and surprisingly versatile, and the shawl is so soft.

And here’s my silly dog again. His friend Tango came over last night after I got home from campus, which meant he slept very deeply, and did not want to get out of bed this morning. Instead, he wanted a belly rub. I know, Boh. TGIF.

Time to get to work. Happy Friday to you!

biscuits, boh, and an almost finished blanket.

This is how Tuesday started. Sweet, sweet dog.

Tuesday was a constant struggle for productivity. Finally I gave up for awhile, and instead, made these incredible yogurt biscuits from one of my “Heidi” cookbooks, Super Natural Every Day. You can find the recipe here. These were AMAZING — and surprisingly easy. Maybe the tastiest biscuits I’ve ever made. I didn’t use a food processor — instead, I just used my pastry cutter to work the butter in, and then mixed with a wooden spoon. I also did a pretty half-assed job of pressing the dough into a thin square and then “cutting” (I tore) the dough in half and stacking them to repeat again. I was skeptical that my efforts would yield results as fluffy, flaky, and light as Heidi promised…but these were everything I hoped they’d be.

I ate them with some butternut squash that I’d been meaning to roast. But since the oven was otherwise occupied, I cooked the squash on the stove, simmering it with a little bit of olive oil, butter, and water, covered until tender, and then taking the lid off to brown it up with a bit of sage, which is still struggling to stay alive on my porch.

And here’s a close up. I reheated these for breakfast and dinner on Wednesday, and they were almost as awesome as they were right out of the oven. I’ll definitely be making these again.

And here’s that hap blanket — so, so very close to being done. C, if you’re reading this, get excited. I really only have a couple more rows to knit, and it has my full attention again now that M.’s wedding shawl is finished! I’m excited to bind off and block this — it is so scrunched up on my circulars that I can’t fully appreciate it.

Can you tell that I really need to start writing a paper? I can always tell — my blogging becomes extra wordy and descriptive. Time to direct that energy into today’s to-do list!