Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Book Collector

We are moving. This week. Yes, that's right. I am now the homeowner of a late 19th century colonial farmhouse and will no longer be harping on my tiny kitchen and the way in which it hinders my ability to cook/bake properly. This house will have two kitchens, at least for a while, so that will really not be a problem anymore, though the likelihood of me whining about home-improvement has just increased exponentially. Alas, I have been raised to appreciate the century-old fixer-upper.

Which brings me to the main issue I am dealing with on the writing/reading front at the moment. As we have yet to move, home improvement whoas are still on the horizon. Right now, there is packing. Epic mounds of packing. Of course, really, we don't have much more in the way of possessions than we did when we moved into our two-bedroom apartment, except for the books. With two English majors in the house, plus a budding book enthusiast whose best subject is reading, we have quickly come to the unspoken agreement that there can never be too many books. Twenty boxes later, it is apparent that, when moving, clearly, there can be too many books and that seems to be what we have.

While the mountains of boxed paperbacks seems to highly amuse the cat, it has done little but give me a backache in recent weeks. Its required packing also has taken a substantial hit to my productivity novel-revision wise, though I have started in on that, including writing a (I hope) nifty new beginning. I am making slower-than-I'd-like progress on Cloud Atlas as well and impatient to see it through to the end. Once we have things unpacked at the house, hopefully I can get back on track without too much fanfair, and in the meantime, I'll just look forward to the front room of my new house, the future library that will house all of these books and probably more.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Creation of a Colorwork Chart

In our family, there is nothing so sacred as the yearly season of U of M college football, particularly the lately dreaded Michigan/Ohio State season-ending rivalry game. Some people have Super Bowl parties, but not us. Most of us couldn't give a fig about the pros at all, but man, do we have us a wild Wolverine/Buckeye shindig. Not basketball. Not hockey. Not baseball. It's about football. Thus, the next rectangle in my brother's Michigan log cabin afghan, the Maize and Blue Stained Glass Blanket, is to be a football, and not any football. I planned a great feat of intarsia glory that intersperses the brown and the white in a realistic but decidedly stained glass look. Of course, a chart for this doesn't exist in the world already, so I had to create it myself.

To do this, I employed the tools at my disposal: a graphing calculator I purchased in eleventh grade and MS excel. This is not the first time I have gone this route to satiate my family's undying love of a football team for which not a lot of colorwork charts exist. When creating the Wolverine-in-Training helmet, which utilizes the winged football helmet design of the U of M team, I had to do a similar operation, so I am fairly confident the results will please me.

To start, I used the yarn in question to create a gage swatch in stockinette stitch. To avoid using up the blue, yellow, white, black, and brown colorways I so desperately needed to make up the blanket, I cheated and used a different colorway (called either Hot Red or Red Hot) of the same yarn brand and type that I can lying around (It's red heart super saver, so sue me). Then, I measured 4 inches horizontally and vertically and divided those measurements by four to get the stitches per inch, 4 stitches to the inch width-wise and 6 stitches to the inch length-wise. From there, I did the math to get how big one stitch for length and width, and I created an excel spreadsheet whose coordinate grid was made up of rectangles set to those measurements.

Now, I assume there is probably an easier way to do this, but if there is, I am unaware of it. Thus, I free-handed a football on that spreadsheet using brown and white coloring that was as long and as wide, stitch-wise, as I needed the rectangle on the blanket to be. This process took several days and utilized measurement comparisons from a football I sketched in the blanket blueprint I drew up in December.

By the time I finished all this craziness, I had the blanket ready to cast on the for football rectangle. I reblocked it, let it dry, and weaved in the accumulated ends. Then, I did the math for how many stitches to cast on for each rectange edge along the right-hand side of the blanket and cast them out in black. Since then, I have not touched the blanket in favor of more important, time-sensitive things, but I'm hoping all the prep work and the math pay off. I'm really hoping not to have to frog anything for this portion of the blanket.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Baked Bean Tacos

I am aware that this is a horrible bastardization of anything resembling ethnic cuisine. However, we're planning a move and one of the things that entails is trying to use up the store in the pantry and freezer so as to avoid lugging it to the next place. That being said, this recipe actually ended up rather tasty for being completely created out of a giant can of vegetarian baked beans, a bag of shredded zucchini we froze over the summer, and a large tomato out of which one slice was cut.

Baked Bean Tacos
What you need:
Vegetarian Baked Beans (28 oz can)
Shredded zucchini
1 diced tomato
chili powder
garlic powder
onion powder
seasoned salt (make sure you get the kind without msg)
sour cream
whole wheat soft burrito shells (or whether taco shells you enjoy)

1. Put the beans, zucchini, and tomato in a pan. Add generous portions of each: chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin. Then add some of each of the following: paprika, onion powder, oregano, and seasoned salt.

2. Heat in pan on med to high until all are well cooked. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.

3. Place a taco shell on a plate and stuff with bean mixture, a few spoonfuls of rice, lettuce, cheese, and a boatload of sour cream (because you can).

4. Consume.

Using baked beans to make the refried bean-base of the taco filling made for a sweet, barbequey flavor that actually works well for a vegetarian taco. And while I forgot to take pictures, just picture refried beans, then add diced tomato to it and strings of shredded zucchini. That's probably about right.

I'm not sure about the legitimacy of the recipe or my likelihood to put it into the normal weekly cooking rotation, but it did get that huge can of baked beans out of the pantry, while also being tasty at the same time. If you too have that giant can of baked beans in the back of the larder, you might want to give this one a try.