Hello.I'm Katie. I'm a midwesterner at heart but a Bostonian for now. Foxflat is my digital project notebook. Click the "About" page for more.
Tag Archives: cats
Pea pods! They’re itty bitty and they might stay that way, but they win the prize for first edibles to come out of the balcony gardening experiment (high five).
I’m gradually learning about the camera the best way I know how – by taking pictures of one distinguished dog and two good-for-nothing cats. Take a cue from Teddy…kick back, stretch your limbs, and wear a big smile. It’s FRIDAY!
Nothing has died in the pallet garden yet! My gardening is kind of like my pool game – I have a lot of fun playing, not scratching or knocking out a window is cause for celebration, and anything good that happens is mostly dumb luck. With gardening I estimate that there’s more than a few years between “not killing stuff” and getting plants to thrive due to any special knowledge or expertise.
The strawberries look pleased…the arugula less so…but we’re hopefully going to start getting more heat and sunshine this week.
Our neighbors get rid of cool stuff. So much so that I’ve generally replaced going to thrift stores with early morning walks at the turn of the month, when people are moving in and out of apartments. This year I’ve dragged home a few treasures, including…
An old weathered wooden box with faded gray/blue paint. It holds all of our scarves, hats, and gloves…
A solid wood double-doored console thing that serves as a media stand…
And an old windsor chair with a broken seat, but it remains to be seen if I can fix it.
This morning Read and I walked out the door and into a neighborhood-wide yard sale – it was like a whole year’s worth of moving sales in one morning. Amazing! It felt like a block party, but with rows and rows of $1 bins and used furniture and stacks of books. We met some more neighbors, all of whom are super nice and chill, and made plans to grill out in our shared driveway later this summer.
Combing the house we came up with $39 in cash. With our first dollar we bought some lemonade from the kids next door. The little girl had the best blond goldilocks curls and a cheery chipper voice. She also had a cold, so as she chattered away, a big wad of snot marked her breathing by moving in and out of her nose. Hahaha She remained unfazed. “These cookies have cow’s milk and these don’t! All of the money goes into this cup because it’s the money cup! We’re making a lot of money huh?!”
Thirty-eight dollars later, we had brought home…
A pink collar for Edith…
…and a $3 XL virgin wool LL Bean sweater that I started to deconstruct for the yarn. That ball above is from just one sleeve, so maybe I can get a couple projects out of the sweater! I’ve had Calvados on my queue for a while and it would look nice in dark gray.
Yard sale season is in full swing. Have you picked up anything good lately?
Until this past weekend, our 2nd story balcony had a very short and pitiful resume:
- place where I take self-portraits of finished knitwear
- place where I stand to shake out the floor rugs
- place where the cats crouch to spy on birds and neighbors
My new plan to give the balcony self-confidence and purpose is to turn it into a container garden. It faces west, so there’s a ton of sunlight, and I found a stack of abandoned pots in the basement to get us started. On Saturday we went to Mahoney’s Garden Center and stocked up on soil, seeds, and a fabric Smart Pot that looked very intriguing (it’s behind Read in the photo below).
Our big puzzle is going to be watering. I’m either going to rig up some sort of pulley system for the hose in the yard, or run a piece of tubing from the bathroom sink. I dunno…we’ve gotta do something. Read claims he didn’t mind watering it with bowl after bowl of water but that doesn’t seem like something I want to do all summer while he’s in Mexico.
In launching the balcony garden experiment, I’ve found a lot of tips, ideas, and inspiration on a blog called Life on the Balcony. The blog’s related Flickr group is also fun. Based on my lunchtime meanderings there, here’s what I’m planning for “Phase 2″:
- Find and revamp discarded junk (like this old metal BBQ) into more cheap planters
If all goes well, or even mediocre, hopefully I’ll have photos of Boston-balcony-garden-edibles in a couple months. What are you planting this time of year? If you have any tips for container growing, please share!
Now that everyone’s opened their gifts I can post pictures of my Christmas knitting!
1. Natacha’s Gold Cowl
Technically this was not a Christmas gift but a birthday present for my kind, outrageous, Sagittarius coworker. She helps make the new job a place I want to go each morning. The pattern – Spiral Cowl – is so easy and pretty.
When my coworkers saw the present they said, “Ohh you should sell those! You could be rich!” Rich??? I wanted to tell them how hard it would be to knit cowls en-masse and make a living from it…much less get rich. The yarn isn’t cheap. And then there’s the time. Maybe if I got into pattern designing. We don’t like to pay El Salvadoran or Guatemalan living wages for our clothes, so I’d be hard pressed to find people who want to pay an American living wage for the knitting. Besides, hobbies aren’t really for making money. They’re usually where I spend my money…making some gifts out of it is just a nice bonus! So there I am – standing in the office thinking about the global economy and my own destructive buying habits and the measure of a good hobby. But I forced a nice smile for my coworkers and said thank you that’s such a nice compliment.
2. The Sweater to Restore Hope
Read overheard a classmate in the student lounge lamenting a lack of good sweater options for her husband. He gave her my email. I spent a couple replies making sure she was not under any of my coworkers’ grand illusions (You realize buying a sweater is going to be a LOT cheaper, right?). Much to my delight, I discovered around the third email or so that I had a genuine lover of handmade goods on the other line. She stole a sweater from the hubby’s closet and met me at Mind Eye Yarn in Cambridge. We picked doublestranded gray and navy wool, with a shawl-collared pattern from Rowan Knitting For Him (thank you Belmont Public Library).
She paid for the yarn and needles and on top of that I asked for $50. I agonized coming up with an amount (After all, we already established I’m not making a living off this knitting stuff!) I wanted to acknowledge my time, but also be reasonable for someone who lives on a student stipend and still wants to buy handmade with her money. I researched other made-to-order sweaters online and found similar amounts. If you’ve had to calculate a price for your knitting, let me know in the comments how you did it.
3. Mom’s Christmas Slippers
I’ve had a Noro sweater in my closet for a couple years now and it just never quite made the cut for What should I wear today? It’s too hot for indoors, the collar doesn’t lay right, and while the colors looked right at home in Eugene, Oregon, they’re a little kooky for east coast living. This December I finally made the call to frog it.
I love Noro in alternating stripes – a look made famous by Jared Flood’s striped scarf - so I planned for a pair of felted Fuzzy Feet slippers for my mom. That next week I unwrapped an ugly gray suede shirt in an office white elephant exchange, and everyone was shocked to see how excited I was over it. I explained that it would make the perfect soles for my mom’s slippers.
Any minute now my friends Kim & Cliff will be here from Virginia. They’re contemplating a move and Boston is on the short list, so this visit is part Thanksgiving get together and part scouting mission. In an effort to sway them, I’ve prepared a series of bribes.
First – HANDKNIT SOCKS. Kim’s birthday was last week so I’ll be able to cleverly disguise this bribe as a birthday present (muwahhahah). The pattern was given to me by a former colleague…it’s very good and was reportedly used by the colleague’s friend to knit socks for soldiers in WWII (?? I know…sounds like some knitting lore. But hey you never know). One of these days I’ll type it up and put it on ravelry.
Next – PIES. Who doesn’t love pies? I trashed the kitchen this morning making two of them – my gramma’s prized butterscotch and a double-layer blueberry cheesecake that’s excellent.
And if neither of these work, I’ll throw in THE RETURN OF THE FICUS. When Kim and Cliff left Oregon, all of their possessions stuffed into a VW bug, they lovingly left me with their baby ficus tree. I somehow managed to not only keep it alive, but keep it growing (!!!). I’ve kept the cats out by covering the soil with river rocks, and I re-potted it a couple times. The ficus and I are buddies, but if he’ll sweeten the deal…
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!
It’s finished! I love this cardigan. Knitting the sweater body in seed stitch was time-consuming – I questioned its value at some points – but it made for an extra-squishy final product. Given that Jane Richmond seriously downplays her sedum sweater pattern (“just some notes”) I thought the pattern was helpful and easy to follow. The Green Mountain Spinnery wool/mohair that I bought for $6/skein at Soft Horizons’ clearance sale was more than worth the money. I would knit with it again. If you’re not a knitter, just enjoy the photos. If you are, keep scrolling for detailed pattern notes.
SUMMARY OF EDITS
1. Body knit with 10.5 needles, bottom/top ribbing knit with 8 needles, and button band/wrists knit with 7 needles.
2. Gauge was 14-15 stitches per 4 inches
3. I knit the collar first, and then ran the button band up the entire vertical edge of the sweater
These notes are intended for a small-size sweater (32″ bust) knit with sz. 10.5 needles at a gauge of 15 stitches per 4 inches.
Sweater body: CO 46. Row 1: seed stitch. Row 2: K1, pm, seed stitch 8, pm, seed stitch 28, pm, seed stitch 8, pm, K1. Row 3: increase at each edge and on either side of each marker. Row 4: Work seed stitch. Repeat rows 3 & 4 until 20 st. before first marker. Then repeat rows 3 & 4, but stop increasing at neck edge; only increase either side of markers. Do this until 30 st. before first marker. Put sleeves on scrap yarn (46 st. each). Continue working the body for 30 rows. Place a marker at the exact center of the back and decrease according to meganimal’s notes on the sedum sweater (see #3). Knit 6-7 rows in between each decrease and increase row, or you’ll get some puckering. I started the bottom ribbing 80 rows after placing the sleeves on scrap yarn. Switch to sz. 8 needles for the ribbing.
Collar: Using sz. 8 needles, pick up 101 stitches. K4, work in 3 x 3 ribbing until 4 st remain, p4 (this extra edge stitch will preserve the look of 3 x 3 ribbing even after you attach the button band to either side of the collar). I worked the collar for 30 rows. I would’ve done a little longer if I’d had more yarn.
Sleeves: Using sz 10.5 needles, pick up stitches from scrap yarn (placing marker at center of underarm) and work about 22 rows. Decrease 1 st either side of marker. Work decrease round two more times, each one after knitting about 22 rows. After working 90 rows, switch to sz. 7 needles for wrist ribbing. I worked wrist ribbing in 2 x 2. The sleeves stretched 1-2 inches after blocking.
Button band: Using sz. 7 needles, pick up 135 stitches along sweater edge and work in 3 x 3 ribbing. I worked the button band for 25 rows before binding off.
Last December, on a detour from our Italy trip, Read and I spent a couple days in Innsbruck, Austria. Compared to Italy it was cold, snowy, and characteristically tidy.
The first night we walked around Innsbruck’s Christmas street fair, which was awesome. The air was chilly, christmas music was playing, and everyone was selling hot spiced wine. We passed a popular stand selling something out of a big kettle – and on a whim we bought a bowl. OH MAN. So good. It was everything I like about German potato salad – vinegary dressing, bacon, mustard seeds – but with sauerkraut and some kind of gnocchi-like noodle. We studied everything about it in hopes that we could recreate the dish at home.
Read spent most of the next day and night stricken with food poisoning in the hostel. I stayed with him, knitting, until I got too hungry. Hedging my bets on the origins of the food poisoning, I ventured out to the street fair again and picked up a second bowl of sauerkraut-bacon goodness. You’d think it would’ve lost a little glory the second time around…not so. STILL SO GOOD.
I researched the dish when I got home, but couldn’t find anything definitive. The noodles looked a lot like Halusky or Spatzle. Another promising lead was Schupfnudel…which is often served with sauerkraut. I tried doing an entire recreation from scratch earlier this spring, but my first effort at homemade gnocchi was a disaster – globs of crumbly potato falling apart in the boiling water. I ended up frying the globs instead of boiling them, which was tasty but too oily and rich. It was one of my more memorable recipe failures.
Last weekend I saw some pre-packaged gnocchi at the grocery and decided to give this whole Austrian-street-fare another go. You know what? We got pretty darn close. It was really good. I added some kale, just to give it some color and an extra helping of veggies. We sat on the porch, drank wine, and played with the cats.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook the gnocchi according to package instructions. Drain and put back in the pot. Cook 5-6 strips of bacon in an iron skillet. Set aside. Pour out the grease, saving a couple tablespoons in the skillet. Brown 1 chopped onion and 2 teaspoons mustard seeds in the grease, and add 1/2 bunch of chopped kale or greens. Stir until wilted, but still green. Scrape the onion/kale mixture in with the gnocchi, and add pieces of bacon and about 2 cups of sauerkraut (maybe less…I really love kraut).
My birthday was Wednesday…except it was more like a birthWEEK thanks to all of the fun things that helped stretch the fun from Saturday to Wednesday. Here’s a randomized recap:
Tea Cup: I’ve been oogling over my roommate’s tea cup ever since she moved in. It’s an enviable blend of form and function, and the removable tea diffuser is so much easier to clean than the little round mesh diffusers you drop into a cup. Read was so kind and got me my very own pair – one aqua and one red. Take a look at the company’s website – you’ll end up wanting a whole tea set.
Homemade potstickers: The roommate doesn’t just own nice teacups – she also makes some killer homemade potstickers. I’ve had a veggie version and a pork version and they’re both DELECTABLE. I’ve seen potsticker recipes but for some reason the process always intimidated me…it just seemed like a doughy disaster waiting to happen. Sandra’s recipe is mostly in her head (i.e. some of this and some of that) so I can’t really share it. But maybe a few notes on the process will be more helpful anyway, and will help convince you to try making them if you do have been intimidated. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- fresh ginger & fresh garlic. You need plenty of both
- use an iron skillet, put in a healthy coat of vegetable oil, and heat it to medium/high
- brown the potstickers for a few minutes, then pour in a quarter cup of water and cover with a lid
- repeat the water/steaming process until the wrapper is translucent. You don’t necessarily have to flip them.
Sandra got me a pair of rice bowls for my birthday (see above). They’re so elegant and just the right size for noodle and stir fry dishes.
Shortcake: I’m not a big cake fan…but shortcake is a whole ‘nother story. I use Better Homes & Garden’s recipe from the classic red & white checkered book. Usually with Cool Whip but this time my friend brought over whipping cream.
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 egg, beaten & 2/3 cup milk
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Mix in egg and milk; stir just enough to moisten. Spread dough in greased 8 inch round or square pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool for 5 minutes. Cut into two layers and alternate cake/cream/strawberries.