Saturday, November 28, 2009


I have finished some garment pieces recently. I like the knitting part the most but putting it together is my least favorite, so some of these things were waiting for this moment quite a while, I have to say.

First of all, there is W's Big Cable Cardigan; I started it last year before Thanksgiving and was done knitting right after X-mas but it somehow took me a whole year to decide the best solution for the front closure would be the simple zipper. I may have to shorten sleeves at some point and add pockets, but W. seems to generally like it :). (100% Peruvian Wool, KnitPicks Telemark, color Burlap + laceweight Merino in dark and light green and red, pattern inspired by Arans Celtics, Interweave Knits)

Than there is Kohlrabi one - off needles since our mini honeymoon in Utah in June. I like how soft and "organic" the material feels against the skin although I am not so sure how it will keep the shape; the cable&lace pattern looks very nice, I may use it again. (50% linen 50% cotton, KnitPicks Cotlin, color Kohlrabi, pattern modified from Vogue Knits Summer 2005)

Next one is Sky Meadows; I brought the yarn from our 4th July trip to The Planes in Virginia, close to Sky Meadows park :). I never worked with mercerized cotton before; it has smooth glossy surface like silk but the resulting fabric has more stiffness to it. (Schaefer Yarn, 100% cotton,color Empress Wu Zhao, 470 yd & Karabella Vintage Cotton, Denim, 500 yd, my pattern)

And finally, here comes Blue Glacier. Fast knit, except I had to take it apart just after finishing first time, the fit was just not it. I shall always make notes and swatches when designing patterns! (My lesson to learn form that one.)

And - as a happy start - here is a sneak peek to the (near) future. It is hand dyed into shades of a red wine, acquired on our trip to Old Alexandria Torpedo Factory Artworks today.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Day T

We hosted the first family Thanksgiving dinner in our home yesterday. It was both very exhausting and very satisfying experience - I made jerk spiced turkey with cranberry relish, honey and dark beer glazed ham,

mashed potatoes with gravy, spicy roasted yams, collard greens with bacon, sweet italian sausage dressing and green beans and squash wild rice salad. I think not bad for foreigner, right :)

We had nice evening with traditional Canasta game afterwards and some trips into memory lane when W. brought up old grandfather's albums (i mean seriously OLD).

It feels very festive today, like the day after christmas at home - fridge is full of leftovers, so i do not have to worry about cooking for a while and have time for all my little projects (like finishing Blue Glacier for the second time!). And there are whole three free days ahead! Life is good even with little cold creeping in.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lions Inside the Gates

There is a whole pack of them living with us here...
Some of them are small and hiding behind the walls,

some of them are big and scary,

some of them are lonely and forgotten,

some of them even have the wings.

They silently watch the human jungle around them, guard fierce fully their territory

or just rest with eyes ajar, head on the paws, knowing their majestic appearance would do the trick anyway...

I wonder if they know about each other.... Oh, but they must!

May be sometimes at night, when nobody is watching, they stretch out and roar and jump down to run wild in that hour of nobody. Or may be they just go quietly on with their secret lives. Just like us after hours...

I like them all but there is only one lion I love and share my life with.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Something new, something blue (or green) ...

We enjoyed probably the last nice day of gardening of the season this Saturday. Lawns were reeked and leaves should shield my perennials against cold I hope - I used them as a mulch material for my flower beds. I demolished the ugly jungle of dead zinnias, marigolds and morning glories around the front fence; I have to be more careful with those next year, they got a bit out of control and were suffocating everything in reach. It surprised me how much all the lavenders and hortenzias and roses i have planted over the past two years did grow. I remember how bare it looked when I cleaned garden for last winter - but not now, we are slowly getting there :) I know, I know, one of the virtues of a good gardener is patience...

We also had a small joy of harvest, I collected all the remaining peppers and my dad's beans.

I am not quite sure what I will do with the lot. May be my friends will get some very spicy gifts soon :). Beans are going back to the ground of course.

I am drying all the herbs left after frost bite we had last week; it is thyme, oregano, marjoram, sage, lemon balm and mint hanging there, ready for some witchcraft :).

I only wish I have done it earlier in season when I still had basil and dill - oh well, there is always next time i guess.

I did some experimental baking too, I made Swedish rye bread from add-only-the-water mix from Ikea. I had no expectations at all and therefore I have been rewarded, that's the rule :) It turned out to be a nice wholegrain bread, it reminded me of the dark "Russian brick" we once had in Czech; it used to be best fresh, just with butter and honey.

The trip to the Ikea was made in anticipation of the T-holiday and all the guests we are expecting. We replenished our wine glasses stack and, more importantly, we got our very own, not handed-down or inherited, dining set.

I hope it will have a long and happy life with us :).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Bit of Culture

I joined the book club yesterday; nothing too serious - it is organized by people in my office. I never participated in such thing before, I always thought it is more of commitment than I can handle, that I have way too many other interests already. This time I could not resist though; the group is diverse in sooooo many ways and I would love to see what other people's perception of things may be comparing to mine.

I as well did a little recapitulation of the books I have read in recent years and I realized I am reading mostly easy going mysteries or Terry Pratchett's DiskWorld Series these days. What happened to the curious and book-hungry H. from 20 or so years ago? May be I just got swept by my own life's affairs and I did not have the need to deal with the emotionally more complex plots and characters on the top of it; I do not know. Well, the time is ready for some serious reading revisited since my life is much calmer and happier now (and yes, it is because of you, my dear W.). So the first book was chosen and I hope this whole experience will meet my expectations :)

Oh, and one of my office friends just turned wonderful 23 years :). So Happy Birthday P., what an eventful day!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On My Way(s) ...

I have to admit, I do love the way my workdays start. I guess i am very lucky I can write about my daily commute in pleasant way, considering where we live.

Well, I have it very easy - my drive takes just about 35 minutes and it goes mostly through residential neighborhoods where streets are not crowded, and it gives me just enough time to finish my morning coffee and healthy portion of the BBC news. And i like these extra couple minutes i can spent just with myself, in comfortable "cockpit" of my car, before I emerge to face the world.

We used to have office in walking distance from our home in SS and when it was announced we are moving downtown last August, I was almost depressed. Than I would drive to the metro garage and take the train - and it was fine for most of the time, if i got to sit; I could read or knit on my way. I was scared of all that crazy city traffic than :). It was almost December before I tried to go all the way - and I never stopped since.

I took me a while to find the fastest-prettiest route but I got to see some very intimate parts of the city, places where tourists never go - and somehow it made me feel home here.

I know the way by heart now and I like to watch how familiar places change with seasons and, may be, with new people living around.

I especially keep eye on gardens, as i pass by, to see which plants can grow and bloom around here since i am still learning. I am amazed how people express themselves in decorating for all the annual holidays here, or sometimes just for fun - something i was not really used to in Czech i knew.

It makes me smile and it makes me feel good ... on my ways.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Like Fall

I like the morning mists and moodiness and the earthy smells of damp forest.
I like the promises of early Saturday morning.

I like the sheer happiness of those two creatures. I like how eager they are to explore.

I like the colors. I like the clear skies. I like how warm the sun can be, even in mid November.

I like the unexpected turns of Sunday trips.

I like the evening light.

I like happy endings.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Something Sweet

I did some test baking last evening since part of my family is coming for the big T day dinner and I would not want any last minute surprises...
I picked a simple Czech "pulled" strudel recipe i made many times before, this time I went by book though; I usually tend to be little loose on following directions exactly and most of the time it works but, well, sometimes it doesn't, especially with baking, so I just wanted to make sure.

For Dough:
250 g of flour (2 coffee mugs)
1 tbsp of some fat (i used olive oil since i do not have anything else in kitchen)
1 egg
1 tsp of white vinegar
pinch of salt
a cup of lukewarm water
For Filling:
about 1 kg of tart sliced apples
butter roasted bread crumbs
melted butter to sprinkle on the top
brown sugar, maple syrup
cinnamon and star anise (ground)
raisins, walnuts
rum, vanilla extract

Everything (but flour) from dough list should be mixed in water and gradually added to flour, when the mixture is thicker, worked with fingers into unsticking smooth dough; than it is left to sit under warm bowl for a while (I left it on the top of stove while I was baking something inside). The trick seems to be the resting part, I know it has something to do with water an gluten reacting together to improve viscosity for rolling but I am not exactly sure about the details; anyway 30 or so minutes later I had a VERY smooth lump which I divided into two, rolled and filled with the usual - layer of butter roasted bread crumbs, than thin sliced apples and other ingredients. I got little creative and added as well a pinch of star anise, sprinkled with bourbon vanilla extract and substituted some sugar with maple syrup to bring a touch of exotica; we definitely did not have this stuff at home when i was growing up.

I little experimented with dough sheet thickness; I made one piece see-through thin as the recipe called for (it was quite easy, since I am using wonder device these days - Cephalon silicon rolling mat), but it was little tricky to transport it into baking sheet after filling and I was afraid it will give in and split while baking, so I made the second one little thicker.

But surprisingly both of them kept shape just fine and were agreeable as for taste. I tried to make sure it was an objective assessment; of course I was told by W., the problem is he tends to like almost everything I make ... fortunately I was told by "unbiased" general public too, since one piece made it to office with me and the plate was empty by lunch time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Arrivals....and New Beginnigs

We got the firewood today - 1/2 cord of supposedly oak and sycamore and maple. It was delivered safely cut into logs - so no accidental chopping/chainsawing off body parts for us :) ; even though i was kind of looking forward to it (to the old fashioned axe chopping not to the accidents!), reminds me about dad..... I still secretly plan to cut and process that wild walnut tree which we had cut down in spring and which lies uselessly on the backyard hill.... And not as i like cold weather, but i would not mind day or two little colder so we can try some fire....

Than there was catalog from Raintree Nursery waiting for me. It is the only place i could find, which carries all kinds of "European" style plants like currants and gooseberries; those are for some reason very rare around here. If it was up to me, now seems to be good time to plant these things in our zone, but they do not ship until early spring, so i would have to wait. I would like to start hedge at the road side of front yard; and i would like to get some hips bearing rose and berries for nice sunny spot behind back fence left by the removed tree. Hm..i better start to save for it now ;) ...

I have bought nice pattern for W. vest from "camouflage" yarn we brought from this weekend trip (it is Cascade Superwash Paints, 100g/220 yd, 100 % wool). The pattern, Laredo Vest, comes from wonderful knitting design site Twist Collective, it is simple faux cabled v-neck with interesting neckline construction. I had eye on that one for a while and the yarn seems perfect for it and i am itching to start, just to see how it will look like.

And my missing back order of Paint Box yarn finally arrived! I was getting little worried i will never see it coming. It should be well enough to finish my version of Clasica coat (from Interweave Knits/fall2009) i have started earlier this fall, using as well leftovers from W's big cabled cardigan. I still have to think up some details for sleeves and shoulders, but the core work is done, so hopefully it will not take too long - unlike W's one, which still waiting for zipper and pockets since last winter (i know i know mom!) .....

The yarns are Paint Box (50g/100 yd, 100% , color 07 Tourmaline) & KnitPicks Telemark (50g/100yd,100% wool, color Burlap & Cork)

And, as for beginnings, friend got engaged, so happy happy happy life M!

Monday, November 9, 2009

One More of The Glorious Days

It truly was...we took White to Virginia for firewood hunt (no success) and ended exploring wineries, after being turned down in Linden. We went to Oasis, which was little run down, but we had a very nice price winning chardonnay and to Unicorn; this one had very friendly personnel and i discovered traminette, probably distant cousin of tramin, very popular Moravian variety. Such a nice reunion!

Even the evening was sooo nice....felt more like summer, except it was getting kind of cold whenever the sun went down, oh well..i will certainly miss it....

And of course, there was yarn shop on the way, in the little town called The Plains. I got some mercerized hand dyed blueish cotton there earlier in spring and W. have chosen some very earthy (i would say camouflage) merino than - and we got another two skeins of the same one this time so it will be enough for more elaborate project than scarf and hat I originally intended. There will be some very busy needles in long winter evenings ahead :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Blue Glacier

I've got this yarn (Lion Brand, Moonlight Mohair, 35% mohair , 25 % cotton, rest acrylic + some metallic fiber, color Glacier Bay) about a year ago, it was quite cheap leftover, about 500 yards only, and I was not sure for a while what it will become....... until now!
This airy but relatively chunky mix calls for some light lacy pattern and simple construction, which would not add too much volume - i have in mind sleeveless vest but we will see .....

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Every good gardener has a journal - so this shall be mine from now on .....with bits and pieces from my other favorite places like kitchen, sewing room and knitting chair as well. I had dilemma for a while - should I write in English or in Czech? - and it will be English for now, so you can practice your skills a bit mom!
They say it is difficult to start, so i guess i will skip that part and will pretend i started months ago....

As of today, our spicy little peppers are still waiting for the first frost of season, so i will let them catch some more sun to add darker shades to their beautiful red. Tulips and other bulbs are happily in the ground in the new flowerbed on "front lawns" for last two weeks; I really hope that all that digging into hard stony ground and bags of humus will bring some payoffs in spring. Little tea roses i planted this spring are still blooming like crazy, especially the orange one in front patio. It looks like at least somebody likes clay.

Zinnias and morning glories are already behind zenith, but i should try to collect some seeds from them before cleaning the ground for winter to bring them back in spring...cannot wait!