Monday, February 27, 2006

Guacamole: A "Pictorial"

I've been inspired, and driven to my kitchen for munchies!, many times over by a lot of the blogs I read, notably Jessica, Deneen, and Cordelia. However, I always appreciate when I stumble on a bit of foody goodness, being that I am not culinarily inclined. [In fact, it was only a few weeks ago when reading Wendy's blog that I discovered fried rice has scrambled eggs in it. Doh!!]

So, most often it for my benefit that I am not in the cooking position, and for your benefit that I do not try to share my "knowledge." However, there are a few dishes that I can prepare, and prepare well - guacamole's one of these, cuz there's not much you can do to mess it up, I guess. Follows is my Illustrated Guide to Making Guacamole:

Natalie's "Throw it all in There" Guacamole


2 ripe [soft when you squeeze 'em] avocados

Lemon or lime juice, fresh or from concentrate, it doesn't matter

1 Generous Scoop Salad Dressing, I prefer Miracle Whip but you could Vegenaise if you want to go veg. Or, you could totally omit it, too, for a slightly "blander" guac.

Tabasco Sauce, or favortie hot sauce, to taste

Dash of Worcestershire sauce, optional. I used Lea & Perrins, you don't have to use if you don't want.

1 big green onion, sliced thinly

A Couple shakes of Garlic Pepper

Fresh Ground Pepper and Sea Salt, to taste

Tomatoes and cilantro to garnish, if desired

First, halve the avocados and remove the pits.

Then, scrape out the flesh and chop it up with the spoon a little. Don't mash it - we'll do that later and you don't want to end up with baby-food.

Give the avocado a good dousing of lemon or lime juice. This will help keep the flesh from turning brown, while adding flavor.

Plop the spoonful of dressing on top. Don't mix yet - we'll mix at the end.

Add some hot sauce: a lot or a little, whatevah. Sprinkle on some Worcestershire.

Add the sliced green onion, then give it all a few healthy shakes of Garlic Papper. [Notice the economy sized bottle? We like Garlic Pepper. :]

Finally, flavor with sea salt and fresh groud pepper to taste.

Now you can mix! Give it all a good stirring, making sure to mash any huge chunks of avocado. Top with tomatoes, if you're using them; I like to keep them on top cuz if you stir them in they get icky looking. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if you've got it, [which I didn't, as you can see]. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips as a dip or use as a spread on sandwiches.


Friday, February 24, 2006

In Case You Needed Any More Affirmation -

This article at Supernaturale confirms it at least several dozen times over: crochet rocks hard. [And shoutout to Regina, too - what a great plug! You've been all over the place lately, girl!]

I have whored my SnBCrochet review around a little bit, and managed to muster over 1000 hits today. [Very respectable, if I do say so myself - usually I am right around 200/day, thanks to my Hippie Hat pattern being up at CPC...]

Tomorrow after work, I hope to share my guacamole-making "pictorial" [picture-tutorial?] with you - YUM!

Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet - The Happy Hooker: A Review

[So I didn't have to put a million thumbnailed pictures in, there are lots of links, many of them to images. Just a heads up, since my link color doesn't contrast very well. I do apologize for any poor-quality pics; they were difficult to get just right and I gave up.]

The more I look through The Happy Hooker, the more and more satisfied I am with it. I admit, when I first read the introduction, I was a bit thrown off... there were some compliments that could have been taken as snarks, and at first I almost got the feeling that she was trying to "sell" crochet to knitters. And, the anal retentive proofreader in me wonders how the book ever went to print with "it all starts with the single, simple act of wrapping a hook around a strand of yarn" on it's back cover. What? Since when are hooks pliable?

But, whatever. There's so many good things about this book that it's just stupid to nitpick about silly things like that. First off, part one of the book, Hooking Up, is a great introduction to crochet, for knitters and newcomers to fiber alike. There are tips strewn about that are supposed to help knitters adapt to the new craft, and the very clear illustrations will be a great aid to someone who is not yet yarn-oriented. I would definitely recommend getting this book for anyone who you want to get "hooked;" the down to earth language and explanations, small compendium of stitches, and great array of patterns will be inspiring to the newbie and will be something they refer back to for a loong time. [A side note: I adore how Stoller refers to the rear, bumpy side of a chain as the "butt" and I'll have to call it that from now on.]

But, I know most of you guys already know the basics of crochet [and a good deal more] and you're concerned with the important part: the patterns. This book has over three dozen patterns in seven categories:

[Click HERE to view the TOC.]

    Scarves and Shawls - I'm more pleased with this section than I had expected to be, mainly because it's got the pattern for the beautiful Sweet Pea Shawl by Amie at Nexstitch. Although there is one uber-simple sc scarf, there's a rather cute one made out of oversized flowers that makes up for it, too, and a scalloped edged number that's simple but classic. This section also includes a capelet pattern that I'm not so fond of, but, in general I am not so fond of capelets.

    Hats - This part features designs by two prominent designers in the [online, at least,] crocheted hat world. Dot Matthews has the Yeehaw Lady cowboy-style hat [similar to, although not the same as, THIS ONE], and Laura Killoran, a.k.a. Croshay, has her Boy Beanie [pattern also available for sale HERE, scroll down the page.] I think my fave pattern in this section is Anarchy Irony Hat, although there's also a very cute earflap hat, and a scarf/cap set done in a petal stitch. [I have to wonder what they were thinking with THIS, though. Ugh.]

    Bags - Mostly cute, classic styles here. There's a darling, tiny retro clutch, as well a boho-style granny bag. There's a couple funky little tote patterns, like Orange You Glad, which are refreshing. There is also a nylon purse, and the bangle-handled Fat-Bottom Bag [in green or gold] is very fashionable. I like the variety of projects in this section, and I can see myself making every single one of these bags, if not for me than as a gift; that's not something I find very often!

    Spring & Summer - This is one of my favorite sections, cuz this is where the wearables are! There's 6 patterns, my favorite of which are the tops: Blissful, a smokin-hot ripple-stitch halter, and Cupcake, a charming square-necked tee. LaVonne has a lacy cropped jacket pattern, and there's two versions of the mesh, tie-front shrug that has been so popular lately. There's also a modest striped tank, and a not so modest Bikini In a Bag.

    Fall & Winter - Again, this is where the garments are, and again, there are six fabulous designs. The fitted Prepster jacket is a wardrobe classic, and the Jolly Roger makes a nice man-sweater. Quite possibly my two favorite patterns in the book are the Unseamly Sweater, shaped only by using different stitch patterns, and the FrouFrou wrap I mentioned yesterday. There's also a gorgeous lace cardigan, Go for Barouque, that looks like something right out of a boutique. Oh, and a great skirt, too...

    Accessories - My least favorite section, but that's probably because I'm not really the accessories type, y'know? There's a simple chain st wire jewelry set, which is like mandatory in crochet books lately. This section also includes a corset-style belt, some cute flower patterns for brooches, and a vintage-inspired pair of lacy fingerless gloves. The nicest pattern here [IMO] is for the fulled Fluffy Bunny Slippers - too, too adorable.

    Home, Gifts & Baby - I was refreshingly pleased with the patterns they chose here. First off are all the baby items I can actually see making - the Li'l Monkey set by Carmen is unique, unisex and something any hip parents would appreciate. The stuffed toy duo are cute and remind me of something old fashioned, and there's another blanket/hat set, Seija, that I adore for it's modern cuteness and my mom adores for it's practicality [acrylic yarn, carseat buckle hole, etc]. There's a few iPod cozy designs, which, like wire, also seem mandatory lately. The home dec designs are updated traditionals - a graphed skull hot pad, a funky faux-astro-turf Doris Daymat, and - I love this - the Color-Bar Blanket, one of the only cool granny-square projects I have ever seen.

I'm really satisfied with the recommended yarn selections in this book, too. No bias against cheap yarn here, as there are projects [nice ones, too] done in RH Super Saver, Bernat Big Value and Softee Chunky, LB Wool-Ease and Lion Cotton. There are some middle-of-the-roaders, like Paton's Classic Merino Wool, Cascade 220 and Classic Elite Flash. And then there's the higher ends, like Karabella Aurora, Noro Kureyon and Louet Euroflax. Each pattern has lots of info about the yarn, too, including weight and yardage, so it should make substituting easier.

Most garment patterns have four or five size options, too, going up to XL and XXL, with "real people" measurements like a 50" bust or 52" hips. And, most of the designs [excluding the bikini and halter, maybe] are such that they'd actually look good on fuller figures. Furthermore, each item of clothing has a labeled schematic drawing with it, which I find immensely helpful.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Turtles on Parade...

Turtle turtle turtle

I made the baby one for Kris's neice, but she won't get it til we go for his nephew's birthday, in a few weeks. I love these; so quick and so cute. The pattern's simple, too, so after a bit you get it down pat without having to check back every two seconds.

That's all I have to show off that I made - the rest is what I bought. Yes, lately, the amount of spending has been inversly proportional to the amount of actual producing... but like I said, it's shop therapy. I'm very serious about it.

Anywho - follows are my spoils [and commentary] in order I received them:

On Tuesday when I got home from work, I had a little package from Deneen waiting for me in my mailbox - a 2oz tin of her Whipped Shea Buttah!! Here it is next to my small turtle for size comparison. [And also to show off my turtle some more.] After reading all the rave reviews circulating around blogland, I had to try it out for myself, of course. So, I ordered some in the ylang-ylang scent, and I am a believer!! This stuff is so great, it literally melts into your skin, and it's so softly perfumed, very light. My dad has been using it on his dry patches, even, although he says he;d prefer it unscented.

That same day, I somehow managed to cajole Kris into going to JoAnns with me... I didn't end up getting what I wanted, but I did pick up the new copy of Knit.1. The highlight of the mag is this cute little crop top - I like it alot. If I ever were to actually make it, I would lengthen it, or lengthen the chevron part... There are some other cute patterns, too, though. More knit than crochet, but what else is new?

These two I ordered off Amazon, and they showed up on Wednesday. Truth be told, I'm not thrilled with either, but I'm pleased enough with both to not send them back. The best piece in Lion Brand Vinateg Styles is the cover cardi, in my opinion, but there are a few other decent patterns. Blue Ribbon Crochet doesn't have anything that screams out "make me" but it has many good patterns that I could see making for gifts... Lots of nice doilies if I ever get more into thread than snowflakes...

These suckers came this morning and I actually skipped my afternoon class to stay home and look them over. The Crochet Answer Book is full of a lot of info I already know, but it is handy to have it all in one place, and I like the format. It's also got the math for sleeve/neck shaping, and things I like to not think hard about. All in all, I'm happy with The Happy Hooker. It wasn't earth shattering, but there are several nice, makeable patterns... and the instructions are pretty good for someone who'd need them. I like the variety of patterns, too. I want to make this sweater right away; it's like the one Jessi made awhile back. I love it.

Okay, sorry to show and go but Kris is rushing me out the door! Hugs!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Pokey Little Turtle

A Pokey Little Turtle

The pattern is from here. It was delivered to my inbox quickly, and is easy to follow. I made this with various cone chenilles... Next I'll be making a pink, smaller-sized one for Kris's niece.

Last week, we recieved an invitation for his nephew's birthday party... Specifically addressed to us ["Uncle Kris and Natalie"] and this is cheesy, but it made me feel grown up. So - all you moms out there - what's a good, appropriate gift for a 4-yo boy that both he, and his parents, will appreciate?? I was thinking some of those "Magic" art supplies from Crayola. He also *loves* baseball and can hit a ball about 20x better than me - so Kris and I were thinking a nice bat and mitt. Thoughts?

I melted my plastic this weekend... Sometimes I think I really do need shop therapy - I just get bummed out when I am broke and can't buy things. So, I think know I went overboard, but I can't bring myself to actually care right now. I can't wait until my goodies start pouring in!! I'll be dreading the MasterCard bill next month, but whatevah!!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A shitty excuse for a post...

but I saw this on Wendy's blog and I'd still like to know what you think about me.

I haven't really been crocheting, even though the Olympics are going on - I had to do a last minute switch in my project, since I couldn't find enough Amore in one color to make a sweater. Instead, I started a graphghan with this could pic, and it's such a pain in the ass I just can't get motivated on it. It would look awesome in my room, but I feel like maybe I should've started with a pillow...

Once I get my groove back I'll be here more. It's like I create this pressure for myself; after going so long without blogging, I feel like when I do it should be worthwhile. But I haven't had anything worthwhile to say, so I haven't been bloggging... It's a vicious cycle.


Saturday, February 04, 2006

Snowy Superbowl??

Big, fat, wet flakes are coming down in alarming thickness!! Thankfully, we've had some wickedly warm weather the last couple weeks, and the ground is so warm nothing is really sticking. Now, if it had been a little bit colder - then we would be having some issues, as there'd be at least a few inches accumulated by now.

However - the way the media is hyping this "winter storm" and the accompanying warning is utterly rediculous. Pretty much everyone who lives in the area *knew* there wouldn't be a lot of snow with this storm - it's just been too damn warm. Any other time, this would have barely made a mention or two on the nightly news - but because the *SUPERBOWL* is in town... it's like it's the blizzard of the century or something.

It's the way it's been the whole time leading up to it - lots of hype over nothing. Everyone who lives here knows that nothing is actually going to change... I mean, there have been lots of beautification efforts downtown, but once all the tourists leave, the buildings will still be there, abandoned and looking ugly. They have made an effort to round up the homeless and get them shelter, but you know come Monday when everyone leaves they'll be right back out on the street. All of a sudden, we have "public transportation" ... but really, what is it is that the people who actually have to use the buses are totally inconvenienced for the week, and next week it's back to 'lucky if you can catch one!'

Can you tell I'm pretty halfhearted about the whole thing? I will be watching tomorrow, though - more for the commercials than anything else. I'm not a football fan and we're not big partiers so it's like any other Sunday for us!

Ilene is definitely the winner for the Olympics project, and honestly I'm quite pleased about that - now I'm just fingers-crossed my tax returns come back in time for me to buy my yarn, else I am SOL!! I only have enough to get like half the required amount of yarn without that extra cash - yipes!

Anywho, I have to go... I've recently taken over dinner-duty for a family friend that's homebound. He's got MS and Parkinson's, and pretty much has great difficulty getting around farther than his bed to his bathroom, but he still loves his Big Macs... and has a huge sense of pride... so he considers it a "job" and pays me $30 a weekend to go fetch his junk food for him. I'm happy to help anyways, but I'm certainly not bitching about the extra $30, either... So, I'm off to play delivery service - I do apologize for the pointless post, though, I just felt like blogging.