affreca: (Craft)
I have managed to get through the tricky part of February's project's sleeves, now onto lots of cabling. The honeycomb pattern does not thrill me, and I'm worried that the yarn is to heavy. This is going to be a damn warm sweater, and wear like a leather bomber jacket. It might even turn knife attacks.

Thursday was the monthly spin in at Yarn Barn, so I started back spinning the yarn for the mermaid sweater (hopefully March's project). The combination of not loving honey comb and touching my wheel got be excited about the mermaid yarn again, and today I finally finished carding the wool for that project. I'm pretty pleased by the color gradation.
affreca: (Craft)
I'd told myself that I'd read a couple of documents for work this weekend. Like everytime I tell myself that, I get to Sunday evening hating the idea. And I'll be out of the office most of the next two days...

So I knit. I finished my January project (Campbell & 2nd using my handspun in purple and greys) today, except for weaving in ends and blocking. It is a couple of days early, but I then cast on for February's project. This will be try number two to use the yarn I spun for the sweater that got ripped out after sitting unfinished for two years. It's a two ply, roughly aran weight, in Ashland Bay's English Garden merino. I love the color (in fact, the sweater I finished at Christmas is the same fiber and colorway, just spun finer). February's project (subject to change) is a free cable sweater (Lempster), and we'll see if I can make it work. Thankfully there are enough people who've made it to explain the corrections needed.

Soup of the week is a triple batch ofmeaty lentil soup, made with ground beef. Last week's potato leek soup was OK, but I ended up freezing over half. Hopefully I'll like it better when I need fill in soup.
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
Still on the stove, so I can't say if it is a keeper yet or not. Following the recipe at Cooking and Beer.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large leeks, dark green parts removed, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced (or more)
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups chicken broth
1 can drained garbanzo beans
1/2 cup tahini (or however much is left in the bottom of the jar)
1 cup heavy cream

1) Melt the butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Once melted, add the leeks, and dried thyme. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Add the garlic and potatoes, cook for 2 minutes before stirring in the vegetable broth. Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.

2) After 2 minutes, stir in the garbanzo beans and tahini. Simmer for 5 more minutes until the beans are warm and the tahini is fully incorporated.
3) Blend the soup until smooth and creamy with an immersion blender. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, and then add the heavy cream. Cook for 5 more minutes until nice and warmed through.
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
I am not a regular poster, but.. And after years of trying, I think I've managed a lentil soup that tastes close to the one at Aladdin Cafe. I just needed to suck it up and use some tomato sauce.

1/2 onion (1/2 cup)
1 carrot (1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic
1 small can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp Turkish spice blend (Penzey's)
6 cup chicken stock (1 large tub)
1 1/3 cup red lentils (rinsed)

Put a little oil in the pan, start cooking the onion and carrot. When the onion is mostly translucent, add the garlic, then the tomato sauce and the spices, then the stock and the lentils. Bring to boil, then simmer 15-20 minutes. When lentils are soft, mash with stick blender. Add salt to taste.
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
Chicken, Lentil and Barley Soup
Ingredients

1/2 cup dry lentils
1 cup sliced leeks or chopped onion (1 mid sized onion)
1/2 cup chopped red or green sweet pepper (1/3 green bell)
1 clove garlic, minced (2 cloves)
2 tablespoons butter
5 cups chicken broth (stock)
1 1/2 teaspoons snipped fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 teaspoon snipped fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
3/4 teaspoon snipped fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed (skipped, none in house)
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey (chicken thighs poached in stock before started soup)
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots (3 carrots)
1/2 cup quick-cooking barley
1 14 1/2 ounce can tomatoes, cut up

Rinse and drain lentils; set aside. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven cook leeks or onion, red or green pepper, and garlic in margarine or butter until tender but not brown. Carefully stir in chicken broth, basil, oregano, rosemary, pepper, and the lentils. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
Stir in chicken or turkey, carrots, and uncooked barley. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes more or just until carrots are tender. Stir in undrained tomatoes; heat through. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
affreca: (Books)
Migraining today, so not enough energy to do the what I've been reading.. but I can do the 60 Essential SFF Reads meme

What I've read from renay's 60 Essential SFF Reads:

Bold = read, italics = read another book by the same author, strikeout = didn't finish

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear
Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg
Chime by Franny Billingsley
Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
Tithe by Holly Black

The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett
Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Synners by Pat Cadigan
Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Survival by Julie E. Czerneda
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
King's Dragon by Kate Elliott
Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman
Slow River by Nicola Griffith
Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly
Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge
Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
The God Stalker Chronicles by P.C. Hodgell

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
Valor's Choice by Tanya Huff
God's War by Kameron Hurley
The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr
The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein
Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Ash by Malinda Lo
Warchild by Karin Lowachee

Legend by Marie Lu
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre
The Thief's Gamble by Juliet E. McKenna
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Diving into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Female Man by Joanna Russ
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski
The Grass King's Concubine by Kari Sperring

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
City of Pearl by Karen Traviss
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
Farthing by Jo Walton
The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
affreca: (Craft)
Like so many I've lost the habit of posting, though not that of reading. So I shall try to post.

At the start of the year I decided that it was the year of knitting, and that I would knit some every day. And then I ripped my socks multiple times, and ignored the resolution. However, I brought yarn and needles for a pair of fingerless gloves that a coworker/friend asked for to WisCon. Between the flights and panels, I finished the gloves in two days, and then restarted the socks. And then I finished them, and started a new pair from the BFL/silk dyed by Two Windows. And then didn't like how the pattern was working so started a couple of shawls and sweaters before finding a project I liked (very simple V-neck raglan).

Currently I'm working on both the socks and sweater depending on which annoyed me the least. With the socks I tried a new heel (sweet tomato) and think they work.
affreca: (Brave)
Well, I haven't gotten the official letter, but by checking the online database I found out that I managed to pass my professional geologist exam and can add two letters to my signature block. And try to ask management for a raise. Sushi and choya may have been consumed in celebration.
affreca: (Books)
Read: I finished Black Ships. I loved the setting, which made me poke around corners of wikipedia. Story was OK.

After that I started Marguerite Reed's Archangel. Which I should like, but just wasn't into at the time, so I picked up some fluff. We'll see if I get back to it.

Said fluff was books 1 and 2 of Lauren Esker's Shifter Agents series, Handcuffed to the Bear and Guard Wolf. The series consists of paranormal romance thrillers, with the heroes (so far, next it's the heroine) working for a federal agency that polices shifters (werewolves and the like). The shifters remind me of my high school World of Darkness days making up extreme were creatures (the heroine of the second book is a were-koala). Handcuffed to the Bear is what is says on the tin, with the hero (a werebear) and the heroine (a were-lynx) waking up naked and handcuffed together on an island being hunted by werelions. Guard Wolf involves the werebear's partner being handed a box of werewolf puppies and trying to find their family with a sexy werekoala social worker. Fluff. I'd recommend them if it sounds like your level of fluff.

Reading: Last night I ran out of stuff to read while traveling for work, and when looking for inspiration I was reminded off all the good reviews I've seen of Heather Rose Jones' Daughter of Mystery. I'm about 12 chapters in and loving it.

To Read: Probably the sequel, The Mystic Marriage. And then give another try to Archangel
affreca: (Books)
I'm giving myself amnesty for everything between when I last posted and last week. If you're really interested, friend me on goodreads (because I've mostly kept up to date on what I read there).

Read: I spent the early part of January starting and stopping books, both new books and rereads. Out of desperation, I went to Goodreads for inspiration, and was reminded that I hadn't read the last Laundry Files because it was more than I like to pay for ebooks, and I for some reason I didn't grab the library's copy. I like Stross's shift to Mo in The Annihilation Score, though her life in government service was very spot on (including the issue of developing uniforms, though that is more from a friend than my experience).

From there, I decided to try Seanan McGuire's Indexing stories. Pacing is weird (I assume due to it being released in bits by Kindle Serial), but I found it fun.

Reading: Random trawling through Amazon recommendations brought me to Jo Graham's Black Ships, a retelling of Aeneid. Readable so far, and I'm curious to see how it goes. I'm debating if I should follow it up with Le Guin's Lavinia, or if reading two versions back to back would be distracting.

To Read: Either the previously mentioned, or Marguerite Reed's Archangel. Unless someone recommends something else.
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
Knitting: This is the year of knitting. Which is just my way to focus my efforts on one art. My goal is to knit at least one row per day. My first project is a pair of socks (my first). I'm now at the easy part, the leg. Getting the heels done took me a week of tries until I got it right. Whee! I'm doing both at the same time, toe up on two needles because I don't want to come back to them. My biggest problem now is the laddering on the sides. I'm pretty happy with the purse that I've repurposed as my knitting bag and have been throughing it in my work bag so I can knit on my breaks.

Spinning: Not as much since I'm not making the effort to spin every day. The current project on the wheel is my sport weight merino, in English Garden. I bought more roving than I should at Wamego Wool fest, so I have plenty keep me busy.

Reading: I finished Ann Budd's Getting Started with Socks earlier this week. It wasn't a useful as I wanted since I started my socks the other direction, though it increased my confidence in not actually following set instructions.

I'm currently going through Elaine Eskesen's Dyeing to Knit. I'm eh about it, but that might be because I've read lots of dyeing books, and find the discussion of the color wheel and nature inspiration repetitious.
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
I'm usually not a believer in New Year's resolutions. But.. maybe this year I'll try. Might be a sign of middle aged suburbia. So I'd like to get back into posting here. My plan is Fiber Tuesday, Reading Wednesday and Physical Thursday.

cut for exercise chatter )

Goulash

Jan. 3rd, 2016 12:18 pm
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
Mostly following recipe found here.

2 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
3 cans (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp savory
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. aleppo pepper flakes
1-2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2½ cups uncooked elbow macaroni

In a large pot, cook and crumble beef over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Add the onion, green pepper and garlic. Cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, water, tomato sauce, tomatoes, herbs, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the elbow macaroni and stir well. Return lid and continue to simmer for 15 minutes or until the noodles are done. Allow to sit covered for 5-10 minutes and mix well before serving.
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
I've got a post on fiber stuff, books and meme (where I was at age 28). No good reason, but just not in a chatty mood right now. Focus is on leaving for yarn school tomorrow. I'm proud to be the type of woman who fits three days clothes and a spinning wheel in my carryon suitcase but also pack my spinning chair (it's got short legs for a short legged me). I'll drive down after work tomorrow. Whee!!
affreca: (Books)
Read: Finished The Quartered Sea. I think it ends up the least good of the series, and I have issues with it that aren't worth bringing up on decade old book that nobody else has read.I followed it with The Traitor Baru Comorant. Which I adored while reading it, and am side-eyeing now. Partially because I kept seeing reviews that mentioned the romance, so I was not expecting how that romance ended. And then read reviews that brought up the tragic queer narrative, and I'm having trouble arguing with those reviews. And now that I'm finished with the book, I find the handling of the evil empire as very heavy handed.

After that, I started Naomi Novik's Uprooted. Again, I'm agreeing the reviews that it bogs down in the middle. In fact, I'm a couple of chapters from the ended, and still feel like I'm reading through the marsh. Which might be why I decided not to take the library book to work, and started reading a romance during my work breaks.

Which was The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I impulse bought it after a review on Smart Bitches, and it is ridiculous. It roughly based on Prince William and Kate. I'm just trying not to judge myself for reading and enjoying it, OK?

Reading: See above.

Next Up: If I need more fluff, I've got one of the latest Zoe Chant novellas on the nook. Or my reservation on Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon came in.
affreca: (Craft)
Reading: I'm halfway through one of my latest purchases, Respect the Spindle by by Abby Franquemont. Which is good timing, because I'm teaching spinning with a spindle at next month's guild meeting, and I'm not actually a great spindler.

Spinning: I'm trying to finish plying the merino so I have bobbins free for Yarn School and then Spinzilla. I'm working on the second pair of bobbins because I still can't find the broken end on the first pair I was working on. Still not sure how I'm going to deal with that.

Weaving: Apparently, Lawnchair doesn't think I have to many looms because he bought me another one while at Walnut Valley Festival. He was going through the craft area, taking pictures for the website, and became fascinated by peg loom weaving. I've read the instructions, and it seems such a weird way of doing things.
affreca: (Books)
Read: I learned while randomly bopping around Amazon that one of the romances that I'd heard good things about but wasn't willing to pay over $10 for (and my library hadn't picked up) was on sale. It was a close call, but the well done food porn and family feels of Sonali Dev's A Bollywood Affair was stronger than my dislike of the hero's fluctuating assholeness.

After that, I was in the mood to try another romance, so I read Jennifer Cruise's What the Lady Want. I did not enjoy it as much as I have some of her other books, at her worst she seems to at least be very readable. And some of the off notes might be the age of the book (about 20 years old).

Inspired by a post by YHLee, I pulled a favorite off the shelf, Tanya Huff's Sing the Four Quarter. In high school I thought of Huff as a budget Mercedes Lackey, and could line up every Huff series with an equivalent Lackey setting. With greater appreciation for certain things, I now find it the other way around, and would rather read a fluffy Huff (which this is) and adore her casual LGBT and polyamory.

Lawnchair left for Walnut Valley this morning, so I get to amuse myself. My spinning is currently halted by the loss of an end and I'm almost done with my current book, so I went down to the library to pick up what was on my hold shelf, including Volume 1 of Lumberjanes. As I was leaving the library, decided rather than sweat in my stuffy house, I'd rather just sit outside and read Lumberjanes. Which I did, enjoying the breezes and people watching. That was nice, and now I have to figure out how to get a hold of the rest of the series.

Reading: I skipped the two assassins books, and am currently reading Huff's The Quartered Sea. I'm about a chapter from finishing, so should be done this evening.

To Read: The other two books I picked up at the library are Naomi Novik's Uprooted (which was recommended the last time I had nothing to read), and Seth Dickinson's The Traitor Baru Cormorant.
affreca: (Craft)
Reading: I finished Spinning in the Old Way and Start Spinning by Maggie Casey, and started on the Fall 2015 Ply magazine. The focus this issue is on texture, which really isn't my thing. And I'm not sure what I think about the new organization of the magazine.

Spinning: Making progress. I'm now plying the merino, which is going to take forever.

Last Tuesday, I received a tester bobbin from Akerworks. They make 3D printed bobbins and spindles. It's pretty, but doesn't work well on the Traveler. It binds and so pulls hard. It works fine on my Hitchhiker. I should post my results on the ravelry thread.

I made a small test sample of the alpaca/silk before starting plying the merino, and then knitted some of it. I really like the look, but tempted to replace the silk ply with silk thread, like orenburg lace.

My local yarn/spinning/weaving shop has a team for the first time, and somehow that was enough to actually sign up for Spinzilla this year (first week in October). And that spinning is my focus this year, and I'm up for dropping everything (except work and sleep) and spinning for a week. And it's the week after Yarn School (three day spinning workshop). Then I realized that Ann Leckie and Kameron Hurley's latest novels drop that Tuesday. At least I get 20% off spinning fiber at Yarn Barn until then.

Dyeing: Through guild, heard about a variegated yarn dyeing class, so last Saturday I drove out to a nearby alpaca farm and made pretty colors. I successfully held my tongue most of time when the instructor said incorrect things (mordant does not come from the latin word to open, neither does mortician). I learned some interesting things (people who go into alpacas ususally have more money then I do) and have two pretty skeins to do something with...
affreca: (Books)
After several mostly headache free weeks, this has been one full of rebounds, usually hitting after work. Maybe I can sleep it off this nice long weekend.

Read: Summary for the last week and half is alternating exciting fast reads and slogging through the Exordium series. After putzing my way through and finishing The Phoenix in Flight, I started on the second book, but decided my dislike of the handling of Ozmi made me resentful enough to drop the series.

Instead I finished When a Scot Ties the Knot, Tessa Dare's cracky not at all accurate historical romance. And Friday, when I was cranky about sewing, I broke down and bought Bujold's self-published novella, Penric's Demon, which was just the fluff I needed to reset my mood. Tuesday was a good release day, with two books I was excited for. First up was Seanan McGuire's A Red-Rose Chain, the latest October Daye book. Nice quick popcorn urban fantasy.

Now, I've just finished Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown. She's one of the few author's that I've searched out her short fiction, partially because I have a small fascination with Malaysia (due to last year's trip) and partially because I love her earnestly light tone. The romance aspect reminds me strongly of her The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, but then again I love the romances in Barbara Hambly's books even if they're all very similar.

Next up: The problem with reading the books I like quickly is then I'm out of books. Maybe I should reread some Hambly?
affreca: Cat Under Blankets (Default)
Reading: Finished the fall Spin-Off, so back to Spinning in the Old Way. Very nice and clear, and making me want to more on my spindle. But the wheel is so addicting..

Spinning: Almost done with the lilac merino, maybe by Friday? So I spent to much of today plotting the next spinning project instead of working. Thin two ply with one ply done in variegated silk (misty theme of lilacs to blues, to be dyed during the dye day at the end of the month), and the other using dark grey alpaca I bought at Woolfest (and blended grey angora from Lisi for the last ounce or so). Plan would be to use it to knit a shawl. Or I could dye the silk dark greens.

Knitting: Alpaca hat finished, nothing new started.

Weaving: So I chickened out on giving the blanket away at the baby shower. I wasn't happy with my sewing, and not in the mood to undo/redo right away. Blanket shall be shipped.

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