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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Knitwear Wednesday

Well my computer issues still haven’t been fixed so you’ll have to settle for more iPhone pictures and sub-par formatting!

This week’s knitting post is a sneak peak about something that I am currently working on and have always wanted to do… create my own custom pattern along with instructions and chart! For my first real pattern I decided on a dog sweater for little C.B. and eventually Pierre so that I could have two different sizes available (XS and S). C.B.’s sweater, a gray cable knit, is finished. I have already made a rough draft of the pattern and chart and I will be working off of it while I tweak a few things here and there to accommodate for a larger size that will fit Pierre. These sweaters knit up very fast and are perfect for using up leftover yarn.

C.B. stays warm and cozy in his custom made cable knit sweater:)

This weekend I had a chance to start on Pierre’s sweater while I was snuggled up inside and hiding from the ice storm. This is the same design but slightly larger (and in navy!). There will be a detailed pattern with more pictures coming soon!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Graham Muffins

Last Sunday morning I wanted to whip up something warm and delicious for breakfast. I decided to make these Graham muffins as a lazy day treat for my fiancé and myself. This recipe is from my wonderful 1933 cookbook. I did amend the recipe a bit… having made this once before I knew that they were a tad dry and bland even for me! I added an extra tablespoon of butter, for a total of 2 tablespoons (still very conservative) and added the 4 spices for a bit of flavor.

These Graham muffins really are delightful right out of the oven. They are meant to be eaten with jam or butter… I chose just a bit of pumpkin butter and my fiancé topped his with honey. Accompanying coffee or tea they really do the trick! The graham flour adds a bit of heartiness and texture.

Original recipe... typed below with a few of my additions


- 1 cup sifted flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 ¾ cup graham flour
- 1 egg, well beaten
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ginger

Directions: Sift flour once, measure, add salt, baking powder, spices, and sugar, and sift again. Add Graham flour. Combine egg, milk, and butter. Add to flour, beating only enough to dampen all flour. Bake in lined muffin pans at 425 deg F for 25 minutes.

Well it's Friday and I am certainly excited for the upcoming weekend. Unfortunately my fiance is on call from Friday morning until Saturday morning which means that I have the majority of the weekend to myself. It will be nice to catch up on some odds and ends around the apartment. I also have plans for reading, relaxing, and wedding planning. Looks like the weather is going to be snowy/icy/chilly so the thought of curling up with some knitting is certainly on my mind! Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cabled Headband with Twisted Cord Ties

I made this little cabled headband for my soon to be sister-in-law. The pictures were taken in a hurry on my iPhone camera and don't quite do justice but you can get the idea.

Pattern notes: the cable section is standard and easy enough but the edges or selvage were a bit odd for me which made that part of the instructions hard to follow. Once I got the hang of it, things made sense and it is actually a quite clever pattern. This section not only forms a solid edge that won't curl but also makes a decorative zigzag pattern.

The cord ties make the headband adjustable which is nice as knitted items tend to stretch with time.

Well the weather is cold and dreary here and I try to keep reminding myself that it is perfect knitting weather! I'm currently deciding what my next project will be. Any ideas?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Winter Boot(ies)!

I’m so in love with my new shoes that I just had to share them! When wearing these I feel as if I am on my way to a Ski Chalet in Switzerland where I will do nothing but drink rich hot cocoa and sit by the fire! I bought these almond colored faux fur booties last week with my sister during a trip to Macy’s and have been wearing them ever since. I used a gift certificate AND they were on sale so I still have a good chunk of change left on the card (which I may end up using for perfume perhaps…)

You can tell they've already been loved... there are salt stains on the heel! Also... please ignore the mess behind me:)

They are so very comfortable and warm and have already taken me to a party, brunch, a bridal shower, the market, after-dinner drinks, shopping, and even work! They seem to look nice with pants but are especially handsome paired with tights and a skirt. My only complaint was that after a fair amount of walking on the hard cement, I could feel the impact on the medial ball of my right foot. A cheap pair of Dr. Scholl’s inserts did the trick. They also run significantly small so take that into consideration. I went up a whole size but I do prefer winter shoes to be extra roomy so you can comfortably fit your foot along with thick socks, stockings, inserts, etc.

With the wedding fast approaching, I am trying to save money as much as possible but thanks to a few holiday gift cards I was able to indulge in this little winter treat!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snacking Your Way Across EPCOT

Happy Friday! I have to apologize for the layout and format of the post, I am having issues with editing. Anyhow, Here is a nice juicy food-related post to get you in the mood for weekend eating:

When you are visiting the Disney parks during a very busy time, you can easily get frustrated by the lines for EVERYTHING. My sister and I chose to visit EPCOT during our very short stay at Walt Disney World during New Years; one of the busiest times of the year. The beauty of this park versus the others is that there is so much to see and enjoy rather than just rides (though EPCOT does have fun ones!). EPCOT also has some of the best sit down restuarants, however it can be very difficult to get reservations with some people calling in 6 months ahead to reserve their favorite spot! With only one day in the parks and no prior planning, my sister and I had a delightful day snacking our way around EPCOT. She had to leave at 4pm but I stayed until right before the park closed. This walk through of an ideal day is designed to minimize your waiting-in-line time and maximize your sight-seeing, rides, and enjoyment. So whether you are planning a trip to the parks, want to reminisce about vacations, or just daydream about eating and shopping, I hope you enjoy this (rather lengthy) post!

I generally have to wait about an hour or so after I wake up before I can eat anything so my ideal morning would start off by taking a walk to the resort cafeteria or store to purchase a small coffee or espresso and some fresh fruit or graham crackers that you could easily take along with you into the parks. Also, grab a refillable water bottle so you can keep hydrated throughout the day, filling up at water fountains for free. I like to bring a light but relatively large satchel to the parks so you are able to throw various items in throughout the day like snacks, maps or souvenirs. If you are staying at the Caribbean Resort, you can take a lovely morning stroll to Port Royale and enjoy the setting of a calypso street market. I feel immediately transported to the islands! This resort really puts me in a great mood because it reminds of my time in Hawaii (or perhaps I loved my time in Hawaii because of my time at the Caribbean resort… ok maybe not quite).

Alright, now you’ve made it to EPCOT which has just opened. First thing is first… make your way to the Land Pavilion and ride Soarin’ while the wait is still relatively short. By now you can pull out your banana or what-have-you and eat in line. Take the time to enjoy what the imagineers have placed in the queue while you munch on your little snack. Once you’ve ridden Soarin’, head on over to get a fast pass for TestTrack or Mission Space (whatever you prefer). You’ll probably have enough time to ride 2 quick rides (Finding Nemo and Journey into Imagination would be my suggestion) before returning for your fast pass.

Kelly and I are swimming along outside of "The Seas with Nemo and Friends":

So by now it is surely 11:00 AM and World Showcase is open... let the snacking continue! If you are able to get to the France Pavilion and there is not much of a line at the Boulangerie Patisserie, grab some coffee and a pastry or crossaint for a mid morning pick-me-up. You can either eat it amongst the bustling French market atmosphere there or walk over to one of the many benches looking out across the lake. If the Boulangerie is too busy, you can also go to the Coffee and Pastry kiosks around the pavilion and take it wherever you prefer. I opted for an Irish Cream latte and danish!

A view of of the Mexico Pavilion across the lake from one of the benches nearby

While you are walking and shopping around the various world markets, take a look and see what each has to offer for food options so you can plan some of your later meals. EPCOT also has some fantastic sit down restaurants and if you don't have reservations, you can always walk into the restaurants and take a look at the fun themes. Le Cellier in Canada would be a great one to take a quick look inside.

Here are two of my favorite options once you have worked up an appetite for lunch. Germany Pavilion has huge soft pretzels that you can quickly pick up at a kiosk or quick-service restaurant. England has fish and chips which are a delightful deep fried splurge (yes… another reason why I love Disney is that you can eat WHATEVER you want thanks to all of the immense walking). For a place to sit down and enjoy your lunch, there is a little garden tucked away in the back of the England pavilion with benches and pretty views. It’s off the beaten path so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your snack of choice in the shade.

A view of the quiet garden hidden near the back of the England Pavilion

After more walking and a few rides here and there, you will start to see alcohol tastings at the various countries. I’m not sure if this is a new addition (and there is certainly more offered than what I mention here) but now you can get a sample pouring for a few dollars of: wines in France, Italy and Morocco; beers in Germany; and sake in Japan. Pick your favorite and take it along as you stroll through the Moroccan street markets or gaze longingly at the silk dresses in China.

One of the bistro tables near the Moroccan wine tasting

Les Vins de France: wine, port, and champagne sampling

Stunning silk dresses in the China pavilion

I sampled a French wine and bought a small piece of chocolate. After looking through the French soaps and perfumes, I found a real Disney treasure between the France and Morocco pavilion; a grassy knoll with 4 bistro tables (with umbrellas). This was my go-to spot for the rest of the day. No one seemed to be sitting there during a busy day at the parks! The tables were a bit small so perhaps they aren’t suitable for more than two people. This little spot was so peaceful. I was able to sip my wine and nibble on my chocolate while relaxing in the shade and enjoying a view of the lake.

Intoxicating! French Perfumes

My quiet little spot!


For dinner I took a stroll back to the Land Pavilion which has loads of vegetarian and vegan options. As a side note, some (or perhaps all) of the restaurants there serve food that was grown in “The Land” greenhouse. There is a lot to choose from and healthy options too! I chose some tuna with a piece of pita bread, tomato and lettuce and veggies on the side. I grabbed mine to go and walked over to the Mexico Pavilion where I sat and enjoyed the indoor “outdoor-nighttime” Mexican market. You can enjoy the shopping (leather satchels, purses, jewelry!), the Gran Fiesta tour boat ride, or even some tequila in the bar before heading out.

To end the evening, I stopped in Mitsukoshi’s at the Japan Pavilion for a sake sample and some almond covered Pocky (think of a thin sweet cracker dipped in chocolate and almonds). I took my snacks over to my favorite grassy knoll between France and Morocco in preparation for Illuminations, the nightly fireworks show. The show started at 9PM but people had been lining up around the lake for at least an hour and a half however there wasn’t a single person at the French bistro tables! I grabbed a spot only 5 minutes before the show and was able to sip my sake and nibble on the pocky throughout the dazzling fireworks.

After the spectacular show was over, I sat back and did a bit of people watching as most guests were leaving the park. I did one final lap around the World Showcase in the opposite direction of the other guests which allowed me to get on every ride one last time with no wait. I made my way through Future World and did the same thing for all of my favorite rides with the exception of Soarin'. As a side note, there are single-rider lines for some of the bigger attractions with a largely reduced wait time!

Good night EPCOT!

After that it was onto a bus for the ride back to the hotel and time for a good night's sleep!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Silent Night Tree Skirt

So, let me take a moment and say that this was the first of two tree skirts that I knitted this year. If you ever see a tree skirt pattern that says “knits up quickly” or “fast and easy project”, THEY ARE LYING!! These were a serious undertaking! They weren’t so much difficult to complete, just extremely time consuming.

Silet Night Tree Skirt - Click here for FREE pattern

This was a gift for my parents. I think the wine color of the yarn paired with the gold buttons is a nice classy twist to the traditional vibrant colors usually found around the tree.

I actually enjoyed working on this pattern. It was a bit different in that the entire thing is knit on the round and also from the bottom up. Those first few rows are a bit rough but you quickly start decreasing and the pattern becomes more complicated and fun. Completing this project really gave me a chance to improve my cable knitting skills and understand how cables work. I did not use the recommended yarn and unfortunately I did not save the tag. However, it was a similar weight and very nice quality.

Close up of the cables

I decided to use alternating gold buttons

The finished product turned out well however I wish I would have diverged from the pattern and made the highest button a bit higher. Also, the opening looked just a little too wide but it seems to work around a tree.

Here is the finished product around my parents tree in their spectacular house in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Pattern Notes: You will be using a chart for most of this project. Rather than crossing off the row just completed, I recommend highlighting it in case you make a mistake and need to back track. This will make reading the previous row much easier yet still keeps your place nicely. The fact that this skirt is knitted in the round is so helpful! There are no panels to sew together at the end which is a wonderful feeling!

What projects are you working on right now? I've already got my upcoming three day weekend planned and hope to get some cleaning done as well as reading, rest an relaxation.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas catch-up

This year I was lucky enough to have 4 Christmases! This is a very brief overview of the fun, there will be more to come about specific events so keep tuned if you're interested.

On December 23 the fiancé and I scooped up the dogs and made our way to Cleveland for Christmas #1 with his family. Sadly, we don’t have many photos because we were much too busy eating delicious food and opening wonderful presents.
We started out the holiday by heading to Severance Hall for the Cleveland Orchestra Christmas show. It was quite fun and festive. The Hall was finished in the early 1930’s and has a gorgeous art deco look.

A few short days later we left the dogs with Brent’s family and boarded the plane for Las Cruces, New Mexico for Christmas #2 with my family. We had such fun with hikes through the mountains, delicious dinners, and girly shopping!

Everyone seemed to enjoy the 3D puppies book that Brent and I got for Kelly:)

Before we knew it we were on our way to Keystone Heights, Florida for Christmas #3/New Years with my mother’s side of the family. Unfortunately, Brent had to fly home to be back for a med school class soon after the New Year. It was so fantastic to see my extended family again! Everyone is just so warm and caring and fun! The lake house we stayed in was absolutely charming, surrounded by large trees covered in Spanish moss and decks leading out to a picturesque lake. We mostly relaxed, caught up with everyone, and ate! I also enjoyed a morning jog with my sister that felt great and allowed us to take in the scenery along with the warm Florida sun.

First thing in the morning


My cousin's little boy, Alex, fishing

On New Years Day my parents, sister and I piled in the car for a 2.5 hour ride to Walt Disney World! (more on that later but a tiny preview pic below)

(Just for the record, I did NOT intentionally mean to wear matching red and black)

And last but most certainly not least is Christmas #4 in Cincinnati. My sister, Nic, and Rocko came down for a busy weekend that included holiday festivities, a party for Sue and John (our dear friends in town briefly from Colorado), and a bridal shower!

Whew! it has really been a jam-packed holiday season! As much as I truly enjoyed myself, I suppose it will be nice to get back into the swing of things. I hope everyone else is still basking in the warm holiday glow. What sorts of things are you keeping busy with?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Flying Fish Restaurant: warning, picture heavy!

January 1, 2012: After arriving to Orlando and checking in at the Caribbean Resort, my family and I made our way to the Boardwalk area for some walking and a 7:30 Flying Fish reservation. The Boardwalk was still decorated elaborately for the holidays which helped us to extend the season even longer!

We made our way across to the Yacht club to see the chocolate carousel and miniature village. Before heading in for dinner we walked up to the entrance of EPCOT and gazed longingly at the lucky people enjoying the park.

We were seated at the Flying Fish and immediately hit by the atmosphere and delicious smells of the restaurant. None of us had even been here but I had heard great reviews from several people. Before we ordered they served us each a little starter of potato and leek soup. Yum.

I can’t remember the exact wine we ordered but it was in the syrah family and tasted velvety and warm. Just to be clear, I love to pair my wine and food but more often than not I just want good wine and good food and that’s enough for me. Yes I know that white wine “goes better” with seafood but I was craving a cozy glass of red.

The bread was freshly baked and tasted like a mild rye. The butter was served in attractive triangle slices and tasted very decadent with the bread that was slightly crusty on the outside but warm and soft on the inside.

My sister and I split an appetizer of Yellowfin Tuna Tartare and Crispy Tempura Tuna-Vegetable Sushi roll with Hijiki and Wakame Seaweed and Yuzu Tobiko. This was a wonderful mix of soft and crunchy textures with some great sauces.

For the main dish, we split the Oak-grilled Maine Diver Scallops with pumpkin, sage, pecorino romano, mascarpone-laced risotto di carnarolli. This was absolutely one of the best meals I have ever had the pleasure to eat. The scallops were buttery and melted in your mouth. The risotto was creamy and had just the right amount of cheese. And yes, the red wine tasted delicious with my meal!

To top the evening off, we walked over to Beaches and Cream for dessert. I had an ice cream cone and everyone else shared a banana split. What a fantastic way to end the night!

A group ordered the kitchen sink while we were there: eight scoops of ice cream served with all the toppings in the house and a whole can of whipped cream for $23.99!!

Kelly waiting for the banana split

I suppose the spirit of Disney soaked into our brains because my sister and I soon decided to forego our initial plans of “taking it easy” and instead to visit EPCOT the following day!

Before leaving the area we took a look through The Swan, a lovely hotel where we stayed during prior trips (our Aunt used to work there!). The Christmas tree was gigantic! They also decorated the palm trees surrounding the buildings.

On the walk home, everyone seemed to be on cloud 9. I stole this sweet photo of my parents:)

I couldn’t have asked for more from this perfect evening but this gift was waiting for us at the hotel. My dear friend Maggie was staying at Disney but had to leave before we arrived. She took the time to pull together this one-of-a-kind gift of sparkling Rosé and Mickey wine glasses! The packaging was in a beautiful velvety bag… I really should have taken a picture but was much too excited. Cheers to great friends, to family, and to a wonderful night!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Panda Silk Fan Shawl

For the holidays this year, I really wanted to make as much as possible instead of just purchasing gifts. I have been feverishly knitting away for months to be ready for Christmas! Since everyone has received their gifts by now, I can finally post these fun projects! Because these were relatively large pieces, I am going to post about each one separately. Each gift presented its own challenges and all required me to learn a new skill which was very rewarding.

This shawl was for my Mother-in-law-to-be. I LOVED knitting this pattern and the yarn that I chose was a dream to work with. I used Sublime – Baby Silk and Bamboo DK in cream that I ordered from Jimmy Beans Wool… which, by the way, I HIGHLY recommend for ordering yarn. Their website is so easy to use, the customer service reps are friendly and knowledgeable, and they have great incentives for returning shoppers including money off your next purchase and occasional free shipping. Not to mention, their selection is quite extensive.

But I digress; this project was by far my favorite! The pattern was knitted in the modular fashion which means that you are knitting in little patches. Each “fan” on this shawl was knitted individually and directly onto the adjacent “fans” so no sewing is required. I love this type of knitting for many reasons. First of all, it makes the piece very secure, secondly it is so easy to set a pace for yourself (2 fans each night, etc).

I am so happy with the way this turned out. My gauge was a bit smaller than the pattern (though I’m not even sure they specify the exact gauge now that I think about it) so I opted for the additional row on top. The yarn drapes so nicely over the shoulders for an elegant look. This was also a relatively quick project and I am thinking about possibly knitting one up for myself in a camel color.

Pattern notes: This pattern was pretty easy to follow, the explanation of the border was a bit strange but will make sense once you are working on that section. This would be a great project to take on a trip because it’s easily portable and you will memorize the pattern very quickly so no need to take along instructions.

Goals for the New Year

Hello everyone! Well it was my first day back at work from a fantastic holiday. Though it was difficult to wake myself up and walk into the cold this morning, I surprisingly had a great day. The New Year has found me to be very inspired and excited about life. When I sat down to decide on my resolutions I found it hard to narrow down or pinpoint what exactly I wanted to improve. I realized that what I really desire for this year is to continue to pursue artistic and innovative things. This includes creating new things myself as well as seeking out new inspirations from others.

Since this “resolution” is difficult to quantify, I thought I would try to achieve my goals through the magic of the blogging world. Starting today, I want to attempt to do 4 posts a week! Whew… we’ll see how long that will last…
To keep me on track, I wanted to try some set themes for certain days. After looking through my blog entries I can easily see that I mostly like to write about knitting, baking, inspiration, and my adventures with friends and family. So here’s the tentative schedule:

Mondays – Inspiration: something fun to get the mind whirling and the week started off right! The subject could be anything from fashion, travel, beauty, technology and everything in between.

Wednesdays – Knitting: projects that I’ve completed, new patterns to try, and perhaps some of my own patterns!

Friday – Cooking/Baking: new recipes to try for the weekend or yummy places to eat… basically anything that has to do with food or drink.

Sunday – Lifestyle: So I can’t keep up with Facebook… sorry! You can read my blog on Sunday’s to catch up with what I’ve been up to.

Of course, I will surely add in some miscellaneous extra posts here and there!

Sometimes I just feel like I am writing for myself on the blog which is fine because I enjoy it very much. However, it meant so much to me when I saw friends and family over the holiday and they told me that they enjoy reading this little blog. Getting comments and hearing feedback is wonderful… I hope you enjoy reading my posts even half as much as I enjoy writing them!

Cheers to a New Year!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ready for a new year

Well the holidays are over but they were so precious and filled with memories that I couldn't have asked for more. I feel refreshed and ready to return back to the real world. The picture shown is from the Caribbean Resort, where I've spent the past 2 nights. Ive got about an hour before I leave to catch my plane and found this lovely little nook to reflect on my wonderful trip. There will be at least a few posts about my holidays with fun pictures so stay tuned!!

Is everyone else already back to normal life??