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!

in-my-bag knitting.

I’ve been carrying my handspun lacy baktus around with me, and even though I love how this looks, I find that I’m not taking it out of my bag to work on in those in between moments: after class, between appointments, before yoga. Even though the pattern is super easy to memorize and to read in my work, I don’t always remember where I am, and I think the knowledge that I’ll have to do a little bit of thinking to figure out how to pick up where I left off has been stopping me from pulling this out when I have a few minutes.

So yesterday, I decided to move my baktus to the pile near the couch, and cast on something new to carry around with me.

Yep, this is another seaman’s cap. I’m making this one medium-sized, with a particular friend in mind, though if the colors end up feeling a little too crazy, I’ll keep it and make her something slightly more subdued. I think I do best with in-my-bag knitting that is in the round and very simple: rib or stockinette. This is the worsted-ish Crown Mountain Farms superwash merino I spun up a few months ago in the rest of the Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds colorway. I thought I would knit this into mittens, but I think it is a bit late in the season to gift mittens. (Let’s face it, it will be March before this is done, and probably even closer to spring before I get this in the mail.)

Yesterday, for both lunch and dinner, I made Deb’s vegetable dumplings. Last year, as you may recall, my kitchen was the site for many a dumpling recipe test. These emerged victorious. Make them. You will not be sorry.

I’ll leave you with Boh. I eventually made him move so that I could make the bed, but I think he has the right idea. It is snowing here, and I’d like nothing more than to spend the day hunkering. Alas…off to campus.

silence.

“The creosote and tar smell of the railroad tracks woke him from the dreaming. The cinders made hollow crunching noises under his boots. He had come a long way with them; but it was his own two feet that got him there.” — Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (1976) (My version is Penguin, 2006, p. 236.)

prewittrr

Do you ever read something that just takes everything out of you? I didn’t intend to just stop posting, but I read Ceremony this week and it stirred up a lot of things that I’ve been processing. Powerful books can be almost incapacitating. (This is good. Also, hard.)

boh knit corner

Boh started to worry about the knitting pile. He told me so.

bracken prog inc

As you can see, I’m making progress on Bracken. (You can also see that this Jo Sharp Classic DK wool seems to attract Boh hair.)

messy dumplings

I made myself a plate of very messy dumplings last night — the only wrappers I could find this week were enormous! I overfilled a few, and they ruptured in the cooking process…but they were still incredibly delicious.

cloud complex

(A few pictures from 2007 seemed appropriate, given Ceremony‘s mostly southwestern setting.)

kitchen weekend.

We did a lot of playing in the kitchen this weekend, which, when I think about it, is pretty much what we do every weekend. This time, though, we remembered the camera (and the blog) BEFORE completing the eating. (This is key.)

If you’re here for knitting, you won’t find any today. I am hoping to play with buttons for my 28thirty. This week. Ahem. You heard it here first! Now, onward to the photo-documentation of this weekend’s kitchen-time.

dumplings1

dumplings2

I present Deb’s vegetarian dumplings. These are simple, fresh, and flavorful. (Like that, Champ?) In fact, after dipping our hands into the mixture before adding the egg, we siphoned off almost half of the tofu-veggies-ginger-garlic-seasonings “salad” to eat by itself. I actually ditched all the other dumpling recipes in my blue binder as a result of how tasty these were. You may recall that last time we followed a recipe that had us make our own wrappers and had a pork-based filling. Those were definitely very good, but these were incredibly tasty, and yet light enough that one could eat A LOT of them and not be incapacitated an hour later. I’m just saying.

sushi1

sushi2

This was more like kitchen sink sushi — filled with things that needed to be eaten, like asparagus and carrots, and topped with dollops of wasabi mayonnaise. When the boy makes sushi, I watch, and “help” by eating enough to keep some room on the cutting board for the next roll. Hey, somebody has to do it! (We had enough to pack sushi lunches for Sunday. I’m willing to argue that a sushi-lunch makes working on Sunday a tad easier.)

oystermushrooms

ramps1

ramps2

Okay, I may have misled you before when I said we took pictures BEFORE we ate. In this case, I just have pictures of these gorgeous treats before we prepared them: locally grown oyster mushrooms and ramps from the farmers’ market. You’ll just have to take my word for it that the oyster mushrooms sauteed with onions and the ramps fried in butter with a pinch of salt and folded into scrambled eggs were incredibly flavorful and delicious.

debchocolatecrack

And then, as a mini-break from all of my reading and note-taking, I made Deb’s chocolate caramel crack(ers). This recipe may be joining the rotation of treats that get made with such regularity around here that the ingredients are always on the resupply list. I was eating these before the chocolate had fully hardened last night, and this morning, I broke off a small corner, just to see, after I snapped this photo. Delicious.

One last picture for you, of some of the daffodils I cut from the yard to brighten up my apartment. The forecast says it will rain all week, but at least I have daffodils in every room!

daffodils