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…

beginning again.

Long-time readers will recognize this yarn as the Dream in Color Smooshy that I intended to turn into a Baby Surprise Jacket in February of 2009 for my advisor’s youngest son. I did a less than perfect job of lining up the increases, though, so when it was super close to being finished, I ripped it out, put the yarn on a shelf somewhere, and knit a Baby Sophisticate out of Mission Falls 1824. (It was adorable, and the right idea, as the baby in question was a big baby, and I’m not sure the BSJ would have fit him for very long.) Anyway, lots more babies are on the way in my circle of friends, so over the weekend I found the Dream in Color Smooshy, along with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s brilliant BSJ recipe, and cast on. Right now this fits into a sock project bag, so I’m bringing it with me on my research trip.

And this? Well, it isn’t quite a beginning, but I had to share this picture of an enormous plate of dumplings enjoyed by candlelight on the porch. My cousin and her husband were here for a few days last week. They are in the midst of an epic year of traveling, and in a few weeks, they’ll wrap up the North American segment of their adventures and head to the other side of the world. They’re going to spend three months in Southeast Asia, so we made dumplings. (I’m hoping they’ll visit my favorite dumpling shop in Vientiane, Lao PDR.) I’m so excited for them.

Speaking of traveling, time for me to stop blogging and get back to packing for this week’s research trip. More soon!

twenty-nine.

Yesterday I turned twenty-nine. I’ve been thinking about this birthday a lot, and trying to come to terms with where I am in my life right now, versus where I might have loosely imagined I’d be when I turned twenty. I remember feeling anxious about twenty. I had just decided not to become a doctor, and so many things were unknown. It was exciting, but scary, too. And twenty, well, twenty marked the beginning of what then seemed like the decade that would determine so much of what my life would be: graduation, the start of a career, a family? The idea that this would be the decade for all of those things weighed heavily on me.

And now? Well, I have to admit, I thought I was beyond thinking about these kinds of expectations for myself, but this birthday has brought a lot of those thoughts back. Intellectually, I am quite comfortable saying out loud that I am happy with the decisions I’ve made, and the unexpected places they’ve taken me. Emotionally, though, I think it is okay to acknowledge that maybe I’m not where I thought I’d be at twenty-nine, at least in the non-academic parts of my life, and that I’m a little bit sad about that. And that’s okay. I no longer feel like my twenties will determine my future, and I have a much stronger sense of myself than I did at twenty.

So Boh and I celebrated quietly yesterday, with an extra-long frolic in the snow, and dumplings. This is the kind of meal I rarely prepare for myself — it is a lot of work for just me. But yesterday, I decided that I would give myself extra time in the kitchen, instead of putting something to simmer on the stove so that I could continue to read. (And I’ve got leftovers for tonight.) I’m sure I’ll do some celebrating with friends this weekend, but yesterday was what I needed. I crossed some things off of my to-do list, indulged a bit in the kitchen and outside, and knit a few more rows on my terra shawl.

Here’s to twenty-nine.

the future is bright.

At least, that’s what my dear friend P. said last Friday night when she looked at that tray o’ dumplings and slipped on her shades. It has been a week of visitors — meaning lots of extra puppy love for Boh. See?

P. made a quick stop-over on a cross-country drive, and then D. pressed pause on his whirlwind of round-the-globe travel/work to spend a few days in my smaller-town life. We also made dumplings (an homage to the vast number of dumplings we used to routinely inhale when we were roommates on the other side of the world), curled up with the dog — and made blueberry pancakes.

It is just us again. Here is Boh’s response:

I think he misses our house guests.

Today I did lots of laundry and end-of-the-semester apartment cleaning. The books keep multiplying, and while I foresee adding another bookshelf in the very near future, I decided to spend some time making more room on my existing shelves. (This is clearly code for further compressing my stash into my yarn containers to shift the ratio of yarn: books on my shelves…) Also, I finally sat down and plied up that gorgeous targhee from Hello Yarn in the Parritch colorway.

This may be a bit overplied. I am giving it a nice warm soak right now, and I’m hoping it will relax into a squishy 3-ply.

I even have some knitting to share! This is my citron shawl. The first few sections have gone quite quickly, though I realize I’m going to slow way down as my stitch count continues to increase. I am having a great time with this project — it requires just the right amount of attention, and the Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace is lovely.

Happy weekend!

(lots) more of those singles.

But first I have to share this photo I snapped of my lunch yesterday: leftover dumplings, new music (checking out the Broken Bells album), natural light. Yum! (And necessary sustenance for all of the spinning I have been doing this weekend.)

Finished singles, on the niddy noddy. No breaks in the winding process, which I was super happy about. I was aiming for a low-enough twist for these to be reasonably balanced after finishing. With trepidation, I took them off the niddy noddy.

And snapped another picture. So far so good — the singles are not too twisty! Into the bath they go.

Post bath, admiring the sheen of the mohair.

Boh lays claim to the towel used to squeeze out the excess water. (Can you blame him? It smells like wet woolliness.)

And now the singles are hanging to dry. It feels good to be spending so much time at my wheel!