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Zucchini Wrapup

It’s hard to believe that it is the end of September.  The flowers are starting to show it.

And so are the trees.  Can you see the tinge of orangey fall color coming on to the tree on the left?

The sky is so blue and temps have been so perfect.  I was home at lunch yesterday and enjoyed the time and views from my deck.

I live in an older established neighborhood which has amazing trees and seeing the beginning of the color change is amazing.

But in looking at the end of summer, I start to look at cleaning up my yard.  I took my very tired zucchini plant out and realized it had been quite a workhorse this summer.  I benefitted greatly from its fruit, shared it abundantly with co-workers, and pretty much got my own little jolly from being able to go out into the yard and pick something to eat!  It’s hard to believe that since I grew up in a farming community that I still find the whole process fascinating.  But I do.

I tried to be more diligent about documenting some of my cooking experiments so that next year I would have a stash of tried and trued recipes.

I had some hits.

Because seriously….if you can mix a vegetable with chocolate and top it with frosting.  How could that go wrong?  The frosting is peanut butter based and so rich and creamy.  The recipe came from one of my Iowa State Fair cookbooks and I absolutely love it!

Then there was the non-sweet experiment.  Zucchini Cheddar Drop Biscuits.  These are so light and freeze really well.  So I can pull a couple of out and put in the oven for about 10-15 minutes and they are perfect to be dunked in tomato soup.  I made a double-batch and will enjoy them all fall!

Then I made a jump back to chocolate, since I tend to go with what has historically worked for me.  This double-chocolate zucchini bread is really good.  I like to make this kind of thing and take it to work.  The compliments are fun and let’s face it…..I don’t need to eat a whole loaf of dessert bread by myself!!

Then we had the….just ok attempts.  Meaning that I liked them, but wasn’t wowed by them.  Could have been user error, or it just isn’t totally my taste.

This quiche was good and probably very healthy for me (compared to some things I eat), but it was slightly too much zucchini for my own personal preference.  But with that being said….it didn’t stop me from eating it!

And typically anything with lemon is a huge hit for me.  And then you call it “lemon loaf”……of course I am going to try it!  The result was a little bland.  The icing was a bigger hit than the bread for me and my co-worker audience.  But again….it didn’t go to waste!

And with all of the attempts you knew there had to be a failure or two.  I only documented one, and mostly because I really wanted to like it.  I really wanted it to be better than it was…..I even tried adding cheese…..isn’t everything better with cheese?  In the end.  Zucchini Fritters are not for me.  I should have know since they don’t even look that appealing (that’s not just bad photography….the subject should get some credit for the bad picture).

But when I look back at what my little zucchini plant did for me.  I am very happy.  I tried several things I wouldn’t have tried without it and I have broadened my vegetable eating horizons.  And I have learned that I prefer peeled zucchini in my baked goods….I don’t want the reminder that I’m eating a vegetable.  And I prefer un-peeled zucchini in my entrees….it evidently makes me feel healthier.  Or maybe it just gives me a mental queue that I might not like the taste.  🙂

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The March Crochet Update

Way back in March while I was watching the end of the college basketball season I started a crochet adventure.  My goal was to give my sister a cool birthday present while completing an afghan that my grandma had started many years ago.  My deadline was Mother’s Day when I would physically see my sister (2 months after her birthday) to give it to her as a birthday gift.

I got it done in time!!!!  And she loved it!

But for the recap and details……Let the Granny Square Afghan saga begin.

Grandma’s squares were the starting point.

And my plain white filler squares would give me the size needed for a blanket.

Them came the joining.  This was the most satisfying for me.  Actually seeing them come together and get some size was the most gratifying!

When I started joining them together I didn’t realize how much the join itself was going to increase the size of the overall project.  So I started with the thought that every other row was going to need to be solid white.  But after completing the first 3 rows I realized that instead of being 9 squares across, it only needed to be 7.  This resulted in more flowers to fill in the plain white rows.

Do you notice that the photo above still has one solid white row in it?  The explanation for that is simple….the deadline.  I simply didn’t want to waste precious time by taking out a whole row of joined sqares.  I thought I would wait and see how the timing progressed to see if I would have time to do it at the end.

I didn’t.

So my solution was that I would make it a “design feature” and do a solid white row on the second to last row of each end.  The entire thing did end up being longer than a throw, but is perfect for her over 6′ husband or to be used on a twin bed.

The random mix of colors goes against my rather symmetrical way of thinking.  But I really ended up loving it!

I edged it in a couple of rows of single stitch crochet to help keep it square.

And….voile!  It was done!!

My sister was stunned that I had completed it.  She evidently thought that I had forgotten that I even took the squares, so her surprise was genuine!

Yay!!!!  I love it when a plan comes together!  🙂

 

OK, I know that we yarn shop hopped in April. I also know that our final day of the hop was Sunday, April 14. It is now the end of August. But I have not forgotten to finish the story! Partially because this is how I journal and keep track of things….yes, sporadic….and partially because it is forever on my mind that something is unfinished. Probably an issue I should talk to a qualified counselor about. 🙂

Today when it is over 90 and the humidity has my hydrangeas wilting as I look at them, I am going to take a look back in my memory to April when we were finishing the final day of hopping and it was snowing! No lie, the roads were a bit slick when we started out at about 1 PM and the snow was coming down. Granted, it had switched to rain by the time we were done. But for dramatic effect I like to think about the snowing and slick part.

We took a break on Saturday since my shopping buddy had a wedding and we needed to absorb all of our treasures that we had purchased.  So to finish things off we had two final stores to hit and these were our reminders/charms.

 

Our first stop was The Shepherdess in Anoka.  The first time we visited the shop it was called Shepherd’s Choice and that name is still referenced on the website, but whatever!  The sign says The Shepherdess and it still looks like the same cozy place.  There is a loft that is rented to weavers.  It gives them a space to keep their loom and work.  Some of their items are there for display and sale.  Absolutely amazing work!  Almost makes me want to take up weaving.  Almost.  They had the peace sign charm and the lady working was a little vague as to why it was their theme.  🙂

Our final stop of the adventure was Amazing Threads.  This one is very close to my knitting pal’s house, so we have both been there freqently.  It has a great inventory and everyone working had fabulous knitted hats…..which ties into the top hat charm.

Our final day resulted in one final purchase for me.

I have many things swirling through my mind that I should document.  Some of them are even finished objects from the Hop yarn that I purchased.  But that will be for another day.

I am currently enjoying the air conditioning and cooking dinner in the cropckpot…..I love the cropckpot.  The house smells good and there is not too much additional heat.  It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed the buffalo shredded chicken that I’m making, and it will be a great way to use up some of my homegrown cucumbers….the chicken has some kick that cucumbers and ranch dressing will cool off nicely.

 

 

Day #2 of Hopping

We covered 7 of the 16 stores in the Yarn Shop Hop on the first day.  On day #2 we made it a long weekend and took Friday off of work!  This worked out particularly well since all of the stores made a last minute change and decided to open at 9 AM (instead of 10 AM) to make up for the crappy morning weather on Thursday.

At 9 AM I was picked up at my house and we were on our way!

Our first stop was Crafty Planet.  They were handing out a very cute Garden charm for where iKnit@.  In addition to Amy Butler yarn they have a great selection of fabric!  And for those talented people with more patience than me….they have very cute embroidery patterns.  I shared with my friend that the vintage hot rods would “make a very good gift” embroidered onto tea towels…..so guess what I am getting for my birthday!  Yay!

Next came the fabulous StevenBe.  We spent the most time there just because it is sensory overload.  Fun people, fibers, and inspiration!  And since his signature seemed to be the chandelier in the center of the store….that was their charm!  This is my knitting pal’s favorite store and she always picks up some fabulously fuzzy yarn to make into something fun!

The next three stores are probably my favorite stops.  They are such nice shops and I wish that I lived closer so that I could go there over and over and over!

The Yarnery in St Paul is in an old house and just has nice atmosphere.   It’s not cluttery and overwhelming, it is just like going to grandma’s house with yarn on every wall!  Their charm was the airplane, which is where I person Knit@.  They had the most divine green yarn as their exclusive Hop yarn.  I seemed to be picking up only green fibers this year…so it, of course, had to come home with me!  If I use their hat pattern it should go well with the cowl I will be making from my Needlework Unlimited purchase.

Aaaaah!  A plan coming together!

Next was Darn.Knit.{Anyway} in Stillwater.  Stillwater is such a fun town with all kinds of shops lining the street down by the river.  So, of course, their charm was the fishing boat for iKnit@ the river.  I have thought about their handmade wide-mouth bag since I saw them last year and didn’t buy one.  Well, I wasn’t making that mistake twice!  AND to go along with my newly acquired crochet skills, I splurged and got Addi crochet hooks.  The ladies in that store are so unbelievably nice and pretty close to my age which makes it feel like hanging out with friends!

Then came Lila & Claudine’s.  Not only does this place have an amazing amount of yarn, but they have a wide selection of truly unique gifts.  They are located right by the lake, so their charm was also a boat.  They have 2 huge human figures (Lila and Claudine) which were out front in a boat.  I think it is something about the gigantic size  and realistic nature of these two “ladies” that is a little creepy to me.  🙂  There was some green yarn there calling my name and a very unique shawl pin/hair stick that had to come home with me!

We were discovering that with the time remaining we were probably not going to be able to make the remaining 4 stores.  I guess we took a little too long enjoying our ultimate margaritas at Applebee’s  🙂  But we forged ahead!

The Sheepy Yarn Shoppe has the friendliest staff and knitting group ladies.  There are also so many cute stores around them that I really must make a trip back up there and check out the area.  But, not during the Yarn Hop!  They are also not far from the beach of White Bear Lake…so they put us in the mood for spring with a palm tree charm.  iKnit@ the beach!  We oohed and aahed over the Swarovski crystal Addi needles, but they were not in either of our budgets for the day!  So instead, we both “settled” for some yarn.  🙂

Our last stop of the day was All About Yarn in Coon Rapids.  That seemed to be one of the busiest stops of the day.  Their charm was a wine glass, and both of us would have been ecstatic to have had a glass about then!  They had fun tee cakes that you make into little baskets….guess what is going to be in my guest bathroom!

As you can see, there was not a shortage of Day 2 treasures.  The weather cooperated and only flurried on us, instead of spitting rain & flurrying as it had on Day 1.  And we wrapped up as things were closing down at 6 PM.

2 more stores to go in order to be entered into the big grand prize drawing!!

Hopping in the Snow

This weekend has been the 7th annual Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop.  Last year was the first year that my knitting buddy and I had heard of it and participated.  It was 14 stores of fun.

This year they increased the number of stores to 16.  We had decided that after last year we needed to plan better and take some time off of work to get it all done, and with 16 stores that was definitely necessary!  So our plan was to leave work as soon as we could on Thursday and then take all of Friday off.

But it is spring here in Minnesota and Mother Nature decided that she would also like to Yarn Shop Hop with us because I woke up to thunder-snow.  I was laying in bed and heard the roll of thunder and not the pitter-patter of rain.  That is NOT a good omen for an easy commute.  It means that you will average about 2″ of snow per hour.  In other words…thunder-snow….really fast snow!  This on top of the rain we had received during the night meant a brutal commute.  In the places that they had plowed the roads they were just exposing the washboard-like ice that was under it.  UGH!

But nothing keeps knitters from their yarn!  The snow pretty much wrapped up by noon and we had probably 6″.  But it is Minnesota so the streets were mostly cleared and we took off at about 2 and would wrap our adventure up at about 7.  We had 1 hour before the stores closed, but we were not in close proximity to anything and needed food…Park Tavern here we come!

But I should get to the good stuff before I get to the end!

We chose to do the South and West stores first.  We made it to 7 of them and have the charms to prove it!  The theme was where iYarn@

Unwind Yarn Shop was our first stop.  The ladies there were so amazingly nice!  Neither of us had been there before, but both agreed that we would go back.  The selection of yarn was good and they had wonderful handmade wooden yarn spinny things (that’s the technical term) from Sun Valley Fibers.  Their charm was the ballerina….iYarn @ the ballet (or ballet practice).

Next came Yarn Garage.  It is a mish-mash of fun fibers and textures.  The staff is always upbeat and helpful.  I scored some orange yarn to go with some yarn I bought last year.  More on that later! There charm was the “live laugh love”.  I’m not sure what that indicated for the iYarn@ theme, but it is cute!

3 Kittens Needle Arts is always a friendly store.  Both of us only tend to make it there for this event since they are a bit outside of our area.  The selection of basic and fun yarn is good, and they always have some unique notions.  Their charm was the coffee mug…. iKnit @ the coffee shop.

We decided to head back closer to home since rush hour was starting and we weren’t sure how the weather was going to affect that nightmare.  So Needlework Unlimited which is my LYS was next.  Their charm was “Made in the USA”.  So I guess that is self-explanatory.  I picked up a couple of little balls of self-patterning yarn to make a cowl.  I keep thinking I will learn fair isle, but until I do I am glad they make yarn that does it for me!  🙂

Linden Yarn & Textiles just moved to their new location in February.  I only learned this from mapping out our Hop and I was very excited.  They are closer to my house and after having this excuse to visit them, I will be back.  The owner was so sweet and their special Hop yarn was gorgeous…some of it came home with me!  Their charm was the sun…. iYarn@ everywhere under the sun, moon, and stars.

Skeins had the most interesting raffle.  They yarn bombed a chair and were raffling it off with proceeds going to the MN Food Shelf.  Very cool idea!  So, of course, their charm was a chair!

Our final yarny stop was Lakeside Yarn.  I visit this store a couple of times a year.  They have changed names several times over the past few years, but they are nice and their selection is very good!  I found some pink yarn to go with a Hop yarn from last year and I picked up some basic yarn since I have decided that I will be crocheting myself an afghan this summer.  Their charm was the cabin.  It is Minnesota and everyone is all about “going up North”.  So it is logical that iYarn @ the cabin!

In addition to learning from last year’s Hop that we needed to plan our time better, we also learned that you need to budget/save for this event!  Much of the yarn that I bought last year has been used in the past year because I had planned my projects well.  I tried to do the same this year, and I had saved my fun money so that I have no guilt!  🙂

We got home tired and happy!  My treasures were laid out on the table for me to admire and then it was off to bed to be well rested for Friday!!

 

 

 

Week 3 of Spring

This is what my world looked like this morning.  It is Minnesota and all of the weather people agree that there will be a lot more than that by tomorrow night.  Crazy!  It will be short-lived, but it is NOT very spring-like.

Do you think it could be because I was channelling November and made this on Sunday?

He was in my freezer and who wants the oven on for 5 hours in the summer?  I need space for ice cream!  🙂  So, yes, I made a turkey and then it snows.  I’m not taking the blame, but it does seem a little suspicious.

Since I was home all day on Sunday waiting for Turkey Tom to get done.  I worked on the grandma’s afghan which is coming along quite nicely and I streamed some things.  And lo and behold….there was knitting to be found while I was crocheting like a maniac!

Ok, this isn’t actually knitting.  But balling yarn by hand while under a crocheted (?) blanket qualified for close enough for me.  The movie was “Miss Dial“.  I wouldn’t say it was a fabulous flick, but it was some light entertainment that makes you worry a little about people that work from home….and, of course, there was a happy ending.

My other two spottings (remember the turkey cooked for 5 hours) were not movies, but on tv qualified for close enough for me.

Do you see a theme of not needing to exactly follow the rules?

Yes, it is Betty White in Hot in Cleveland.  She didn’t exactly look comfortable doing it, but she did actually appear to be knitting!

Please don’t mind the warped image that resulted from taking a picture of my tv.  But, it is Betty White knitting yet again.  This time the blue yarn has reappeared like many other tv knitting cameos that I have seen.

It was nice to see other people knitting as I continue to crochet away on my white acrylic!  The afghan is big enough to be used while I attach squares and I have not lost my enthusiasm for how fun it is to see it all come together!

Flat Braid Crochet

Last night I enjoyed a most fabulous supper of oven roasted potatoes.  I make them my own way with whatever seasoning I feel like and whatever veggies (peppers, etc) are in the fridge.  But the link is the basic recipe that got me hooked.  I think I’ve made them 4 times in the past 10 days!  And, yes, I am single and don’t eat anything with them….I just have them – by themselves – for supper.

While cutting up the potatoes to throw in the oven I popped in one of my favorite college movies, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.  Kevin Costner in his almost mullet is so cute.  And the Bryan Adams theme song brings back so many memories…..”I’d lie for you, Walk the wire for you, yeah I’d die for you“.  Aaaah!  How romantic!  🙂

The reason that I ordered the over-2-hour flashback movie from Netflix during the week was so that I could have some quality time to work on grandma’s afghan.  I have become quite adept at the basic granny square and was having a really hard time deciding how to join them.  And it was imperative that I start joining them soon so that I feel like I am getting somewhere!  More piles of squares was not doing it for me!

There were many options and I find it interesting that not everyone photographs the front and back of their work after they show you how to do something.  Since it is a blanket and both sides will be seen, I really like to see what the back is going to look like.  But  I digress since that is totally not the point and irrelevent to what I was tyring to do.

So I finally landed on the Flat Braid join.  There are many pretty pictures on Pinterest and even though they are all called the same thing, they don’t all look exactly the same.  I discovered that the prettiest picture linked me to a website with only written instructions and a few photos.  In my newbie-crochet phase this was not working for me.  I learned to knit with books and pictures, but my head does not wrap around the crochet instruction verbiage.  So I found a series of videos that are great!  Four videos…one for each block of the first four blocks.

So in the two hours that it took Robin Hood to defeat the Sheriff on Nottingham and court Maid Marion.  I managed to connect some squares.

Not bad work before King Richard shows up for a guest appearance at the wedding (I think Sean Connery is so handsome).  My technique is not perfect.  But I am very pleased with it so far!!

And now that I “get” what I am doing I am hoping it will go faster.  My goal is to get the first 3 rows assembled before Saturday at noon.  I am heading to my knitting buddy’s house to enjoy a little yarny socialization for the afternoon and want to have a “taking shape” project to share!  She has seen the piles of squares sitting in my family room for a year and will be excited that I am finally doing them!  Moral support is imperative to me!