Friday, November 24, 2006

Queso Recipe

Sure, you can microwave Velveeta and salsa together to make a quick queso, but this doesn't take much longer (15 minutes, tops) and tastes much better.

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups low sodium, low fat chicken chicken broth
4 cups shredded cheese
1 small can diced green chilies (or a couple of chipotles, if desired)
A few heaping teaspoons of fire-roasted salsa

1. Melt butter in large saucepan and add in flour. Stir with whisk to remove lumps.
2. Cook over low heat for a few minutes until it is smooth and has a soft nutty flavor. (Make sure the flour is cooked... raw flour has a distinctive taste).
3. Add in chicken broth. Stir until smooth, and cook until it begins to thicken (5 minutes or so). Stir occasionally.
4. Add in four cups of shredded cheese... I did sharp cheddar but Jack cheese is also good.
5. Stir in green chilies and salsa to taste.

You can use this as a queso dip (as pictured), or in cheesy chicken quesadillas, or my absolute favorite... chicken nachos (we use shredded rotisserie chicken).

Chicken Nachos
Using large pyrex dish, pour some of the queso on bottom.
Add in layer of tortilla chips.
Add in layer of shredded chicken.
Add on layer of queso.
Repeat for a couple of layers, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.
Top with fresh salsa, fresh cilantro, guacamole or sour cream.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

This and that...

It was a productive weekend... just not for knitting or dyeing. But we finally finished some chores that we'd been putting off for entirely too long, so I'm happy. I just realized this weekend that I'll graduate with my Master's degree in about 8 months, which sort of snuck up on me.

A friend told me about a opportunity in my field and it dawned on me that I need to start looking at some point in the next couple of months, and that I'm not prepared to make that kind of a move yet. After the holidays, I'll start seriously looking at what- and where- my next step is going to be. In the meantime, I'm sorting through books, closets, clothes... donating, storing, purging or packing. I've been living with G for so long that it's strange to sort out my items from 'ours'.

So far, I've lived in:
  • Louisiana
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Texas (north)
  • Texas (San Antonio)
  • Netherlands
  • Texas (College Station)
  • Santa Monica, California
  • DC Metro area
  • West Virginia

I'm hoping to get a lot of knitting and studying done this next week, since I'm only working Monday and Tuesday.

On my needles:
  • Dulaan hat 3*
  • the irish hiking scarf I just need to focus on and finish*
  • children's socks*
  • scarf out of Patons SWS
  • scraps dishcloth
  • mohair scarf (on the backburner... not sure how I liked working with the mohair)
  • aqua socks
*Priority for next two weeks for Knit Unto Others

I seriously need a couple of pairs of the Knitpicks sock sized circulars. But as much as I love the aqua socks, I think I'd have more fun knitting on more than one at a time so I don't get sick of the one I'm working on. I've been putting it off because I know that I'll end up ordering other stuff, too. Knitpicks is dangerous that way, but I'm going to summon up all self restraint and order them tomorrow.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Double-O Yum

We just got back from watching the new James Bond and it was great! A little longer than I like... two and a half hours and I usually get antsy. But the pace kept up through most of the two and a half hours. I didn't have a problem with the new James Bond- he's brutal, gritty, ice-cold and charmismatic without being campy. I'm biased.... I have a soft spot for men who are very intense AND coolly reserved. Yum.

And I adore Dame Judi Dench :)

I have pictures of happy feet:
These are the berrylicious fuzzy feet I made for a friend of mine's b-day. The yarn was dyed just for her and I love how they turned out! I mailed them off to her with instructions on how to wash them so they would shrink for a custom fit.

We went to go see a band play a few weeks ago and I never really touched on it... G asked me if I wanted to see a show and I said sure, why not. He mentions it's a band with a side burlesque type show. Ok, that's fine. We get there, and I notice that the crowd at the venue is a bit older than I was expecting. Then he mentions it is surf music... which I normally don't listen to. So I'm adjusting to that little tidbit when I mention there's a man with a mask behind one of the speakers... and he gives me this: "Oh yeah, I forgot to mention they all wear Mexican style wrestling masks." what? (Seriously, G should learn what 'disclosure' means).

The next thing I know... out they come in all black suits and different masks. With a Buddy Holly type guy and dancing girls. I was not even sure what to expect looking at the group up on stage but they were a LOT of fun!

Friday, November 17, 2006

catching up...

Not much knitting going on in Casa K... mostly being sick and counting down to Thanksgiving. I received a wonderful ecard from my secret pal with a cute little puppy on it- reminded me of Gypsy when she's actually behaving.

My SP8 spoilee has been working on some really cool crocheted slippers, and out of the blue, she sent me an awesome kit how to learn to crochet, a couple of patterns (not pictured because I promptly filed them like the organized person I want to be), and a cool wooden 'k' which is currently gracing my study desk! The patterns look like fun and now I can finally learn how to crochet. She's been such a sweet person to get to know. Thank you!!!

My yarn for the felted bag that I'm making for my knit mit kit pal arrived and it is a beautiful brilliant turquoise. Since there will be some needlefelting (my first attempt at that) I wanted it to be a bright color that would contrast well. It's a little more rich and saturated than the color would indicate in this picture but I love it. I'll start that this weekend if the pattern arrives in time.

And I'm nearly done with my first teddy bear for the Mother Bear Project. What a fun knit! All that's left is putting on the eyes and mouth (which has been a bit challenging... I tried one face already but it would have scared small children!) I also overstuffed the poor bear but then decided to put him on a diet and he is much more cuddly this way. I'm going to try to make another one for the Knit Unto Others KAL starting tomorrow.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Belated Saturday Sky

Saturday was cold and rainy all day... it's not snowing in the picture... just the reflections of my flash on the raindrops.

I received a lovely surprise on Friday but have hardly been online this weekend. Completely unexpected, and so sweet! I'll write about it tomorrow, when I'm fully awake!

Counting down till Thanksgiving... I'm due for some much needed rest.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Plotting and planning...

Mail's been good to me lately, but it goes both ways. I've been wrapping and planning up a storm for some upcoming swaps and super secret holiday gifts. I love planning gifts for other people. I have little lists tucked in my pockets, my purse, my desk at work, where I keep track of what would be perfect for who. I've been on a shopping kick the past couple of weeks and I think I am 95% done with all my swap and holiday shopping. I should definitely be done before Thanksgiving. Whew!

After that I will not tempt myself by looking for really good yarn sales. Not even the "too good to be true" ones.

I am so happy to have received some information about my mitt pal, and to have formulated a plan. I need to include a handbag project bag. I'm more of a fabric bag person as opposed to a felted bag... so my first thought was to sew a bag. I thought my lack of sewing skills (and sewing machine) would not be a problem... I can hand stitch well for small items.

But after browsing a LOT of patterns and realizing the amount of sewing involved (especially for it to look good), I realized it would need to be a knitted bag. And quite by accident, I found the perfect pattern!! I may have to even make me one- it's that cute. So all is good!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saturday Sky

Pittsburgh at night.

My camera does not like nighttime pictures, apparently. But the moon was gorgeous, and the reflection of the lights on the river were really very nice!

Thank you, Secret Pal!

I was on a road trip for much of yesterday, but right before I left the mailman brought me a special package to my doorstep! It was gorgeously wrapped, with gifts nestled into tiny white boxes and a sweet card from my Secret Pal. Thank you, Secret Pal - you selected items that are really well suited to me. I appreciate it, so much!

My pal thoughtfully sent two skeins of Lamb's Pride Bulky in white, ready for the dyepot. (I am so excited about this... I have the Fiber Trends pattern for felted clogs and have been wanting to make them for myself using LPBulky! Now if I can figure out what colors I'd like...)

There was also a pair of skeins of Lorna's Laces in Irving Park which were so soft and absolutely divine!! The colors were so striking- (I noticed there was burnt orange in the colorway... my Pal is going to entice me into wearing UT colors but the colors are so beautiful, I will wear them with pride!!) It will be a gorgeous pair of socks. I have not worked with Lorna's Laces yet but with the sport weight skein I received earlier, and this gorgeous duo, I cannot wait!

There were also some cute candles and a tiny incense burner, with some Lavendar incense sticks which I will probably try this afternoon. And some hand salve from Burt's Bees... I have such a hard time with my skin being dry in the winter- I should buy stock in a shea butter company. The salve felt wonderful on my dry hands- thank you!! I can tell this will provide some relief this winter.

Sock update:
Here's the sock to date but it's been so hard capturing the color in the right light. It's somewhere in the middle of the following two pictures.

I'm still doing decreases on the gusset and hope to make some serious headway today.

The hardest part will be casting on for the second sock in this yarn when I have some other tempting socks waiting in the wings. I'll have to finish the first one and immediately cast on the second one. (One of the good things about having a limited number of knitpicks classic circulars means only one pair of socks at a time).

Knit Mitt Kit Swap Questionnaire

What are your favorite colors? Blues, greens, plums. Wines and rich earthy colors that are not drab. Deep, vibrant shades as well as soft, muted coastal shades.

Are you a new mitt knitter?
Brand new.... as in first timer!

How long have you been knitting mittens?
First timer.

Do you prefer solid or multicolored yarn?
I like tone-on-tone or multicolor. Solids have their place, too... it just depends on the pattern I'm knitting.

What fibers do you prefer in mitten yarn?
Natural, but soft and not itchy. Wool, alpaca, cashmere, silk blends.

Where do you usually knit mittens?
I will most likely be knitting them at home, due to my schedule.

How do you usually carry/store small projects?
I use a hot pink Clinique bag until I get something better suited for the task.

What are your favorite mitten patterns?
Fetching from knitty has been on my to-do list. I also like the look of cabled wristwarmers... anything that leaves my fingers free.

What are your favorite mitten knitting techniques?
never tried them before

What new techniques would you like to try?
they are all new to me.

What are your favorite needles for knitting mittens?
I like circulars and am learning how to use DPNs.

What are some of your favorite yarns?
I adore Lisa Souza and I'm just about to try Lorna's Laces but it feels fabulous so far. Fiesta Yarn's Watermark has been my absolute best knitting experience so far. And I use Lamb's Pride a lot for snuggly slippers.

What yarn do you totally covet?
Sea Silk. Lion and Lamb. Cherry Tree Hill. But really, I'm fairly new to knitting and still exploring all the options out there.

Any pattern you would love to make if money and time were no object?
Lady E out of Noro Transitions

Favorite kind of needles (brand, materials, straights or circs, etc)?
I really like the Knitpicks Classic Circulars and Options.

If you were a specific kind of yarn, which brand and kind of yarn would you be?
I'd love to say cashmere... but my personality is more of a handpainted superwash merino sock yarn... unique and vibrant, durable, soft and easy to care for.

Do you have a favorite candy or mail-able snack?
I try not to indulge often.

What’s your favorite animal?
My adorable lab/springer spaniel pup Gypsy.

Would you prefer super warm mittens or something more like fingerless mitts?
fingerless mitts.

If you were a color what color would you be?
Black cherry. Or periwinkle. Or a rich caribbean teal/sapphire blend.

What is your most inspiring image, flower, or object in nature?
Northern Lights.

Do you have a wishlist?
Not an updated one.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Harvest Soup (Butternut Squash and Apples)

6 tablespoons chopped onion
4 tablespoons butter
3 pounds butternut squash, halved and seeded
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cubed
3 cups low sodium, low fat chicken broth
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
6 ounces low fat cream cheese, cubed

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking dish, place the squash cut side down. Pierce squash in several places with sharp knife. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until flesh is tender.

2. Scoop out the cooked squash when cool enough to handle. Discard peel.

3. In a large saucepan, saute onions in butter until tender. Add apple cubes, chicken broth, ginger, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook until apples are tender.

4. Add in squash and cream cheese cubes. Use hand held blender (or food processor) to puree the soup. Heat soup again right before serving- do not boil.

Box o' goodies and new swap

I received a box o' goodness today from Jody at the Javajem blog Thank you, Jody!! You are so generous!

There was candy but it was (ahem) consumed before the camera came out. Inside was a beautiful card, these neat turquoise and silver earrings which look fantastic on me, yummy smelling candle and tile, a cool gecko mat, jumping beans (!!), felted soap which looks so very cool, and yarn: one skein Lorna's Laces sock yarn in Glenwood (such a pretty autumn color) and a skein of Orchid Thistle Lamb's Pride! I love it!

Ohh... and Gypsy LOVES the felted pet toy. She decided that playing "fetch" was not as much fun as playing "hoard the ball". Thank you, Jody!

I decided to knit up a pair of wristwarmers out of the Lorna's Laces... and while searching for a suitable pattern, I signed up to participate in another swap... this time around it is the Knit Mitt Swap Kit.

While the idea of making a bag is a little nervewracking to me at the moment, I think it will be a lot of fun to put together.

And... I received my final grades from last term- I'm rocking a 3.9!! A very good day overall!