In the Garden

February 28, 2015

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I wasn't going to garden much this year. With the baby due in early April, I thought we'd be too busy adjusting to our new life during the peak planting season to get anything done, but the closer we come to her arrival date, the more I start to think about scenes from the future, like how nice it would be to feed her out on the back deck with big pots of flowers and herbs growing around us, and how it might be fun to grow a few sweet veggies, like carrots, and puree them for her first solid bites of garden food. So although we're taking it easy, growing just the simple things we love most, we're taking advantage of the season's early arrival to get a head-start on this year's gardening.

I really can't believe time is passing by so quickly. When we first found out we were pregnant, every day seemed to take an eternity. Now it's just the opposite, of course. I'm running out of time to prepare for all the things that need doing - the work I need to finish before going on maternity leave, the baby's nursery, the house, the yard work, etc. It's a little overwhelming to think about, especially when you're trying your best to keep the stress down.

To be honest, pregnancy has eased a lot of my normal edginess. I've been laid back, non-confrontational, living in the moment... it has been a slow, sweet time. That's not to say the stress hasn't caught up with me from time to time, and when it does, it usually happens at 2am and won't let up until I wake Matt up to rant and rave about all the THINGS WE MUST DO. Poor Matt. Though, I have to say, those midnight bouts have kept us well on track. Perhaps they stem from anxiety dreams, but I like to think of it as my subconscious sorting out all of the things my conscious mind overlooks or hasn't thought through, and then uploading it all into my consciousness in one abrupt, jolting swoop.

We haven't finished everything we set out to do before she arrives, and we probably won't, but we're pretty much good to go. And who knows? Maybe it'll feel like vacation to us once she finally gets here. Hah.

Early Spring

February 20, 2015

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{Flowery scenes from where I work in Portland}

Despite the past month's sunshine and warmer weather, I've been in denial about the arrival of early spring this year. I look at some of you in other parts of the country (and other parts of the world) with your mounds and mounds of snow, and I feel like we missed out on a legit winter this season. Not that it necessarily snows here every year - it doesn't - but we usually get a good month or two of proper bundle-up-with-a-hot-cup-of-tea-near-the-fire weather at least. But this year? This year, late fall has extended itself right into early spring, and I don't think it's going off course anytime soon.

So I give in. It's spring. It's time to till the garden, plant the flowers, sew the seeds and watch it all mysteriously grow like it does every year. Hooray! Kinda.

Chocolate Almond Butter

February 16, 2015

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I've been eating this chocolate nut butter a lot lately, and whenever I notice myself coming back to a recipe over and over again, I find it best to add it here to my collection of tried and true go-to's. I do this partly for you, just in case you were looking for something delicious to eat, but mostly for me. With my terrible memory, it's best to keep my favorite recipes all in one easy to access location.

This is fantastic to eat with a crispy cold honeycrisp apple, or as a dollop in a bowl of oatmeal in the morning with a handful of frozen berries (Oregon strawberries are my fave). It's rich, chocolatey and has a really nice coconut aftertaste. Plus it's super easy to make and customize. Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Almond Butter
2 cups unsalted roasted almonds
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1-2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt

If you start with raw almonds, place them on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and place in the oven on the center rack for 10 minutes or so, or until they are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Place almonds in food processor and run, scraping down the sides as needed, until almonds have turned into a creamy butter. This usually takes 5-10 minutes for me.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, place the chocolate chips, coconut oil, cocoa powder honey and salt. Stir frequently until the chocolate has melted and mixture is combined, remove from heat (don't overheat or the chocolate will burn), and add to the food processor with the almond butter.

Run the food processor again until the chocolate mixture is mixed thoroughly with the almond butter, scraping the sides as needed. Pour into clean mason jars and store in the cupboard for up to a month (or two), or the refrigerator for up to six months.

That's it! Enjoy.

On and Quickly Off the Needles

February 9, 2015

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I've been knitting a lot of baby things, as you might imagine. There's proof of this all over my Instagram feed, though I haven't said much about it here. The problem is - and this is a good problem to have - that I've been making things too quickly. All of my holiday knits (few as they were) were made in haste, bound off and given away before I thought to snap a finished shot for my Ravelry project page.

As for baby knits, I've mostly tossed them in a heap where they've languished, waiting for me to get around to soaking, blocking, weaving in ends and sewing on buttons. This leaves me with lots of almost-finished WIPs, but nothing fully complete to share. Baby knits finish so quickly that it's just not worth it for me to bring out the blocking mats every time a project comes off the needles. I'd rather cast on for the next thing right away and do the rest of the finishing work all at once.

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Still, I do have one thing I can finally show you: this Elizabeth Elaine dress designed by Taiga Hilliard that I finished over the weekend. Up until now, I've remained relatively unisex with the clothes I've made for baby girl in hopes to get more use out of them with future offspring, but I couldn't help myself. I had to make her a pretty dress.

The yarn was an easy choice - something I've had in my stash for awhile. It was originally meant for a different pattern entirely which is why I had four balls, but I decided it wasn't for me long ago, and would be perfect for this pattern. It's pink, but not too pink, with bits of purple and yellow mixed in. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I still have nearly three balls of this stuff in my stash, so I have to figure out what else I can do with it. The woes of a stashbuster.

It's not a perfectly executed piece of work. I'm pretty sure I messed up the lace by one stitch somewhere, and try as I might to fix it on the go, something still feels a little off about it. I'll know for sure once I've blocked it. Lace is so gorgeous and gratifying to knit, but I still tend to prefer the endless rows of stockinette stitch in the round. I love the way it looks and feels, and I love how mindless and therapeutic it is to knit, especially when I've got my head in the clouds, which is often these days.