Journals | in the muck of winter

This weekend, we took advantage of the warmer temperatures and set out walking. We made big circles around our neighborhoods, taking the long way there, the long way back. Friends came for meals on Friday and Saturday, and we sat around chatting until it was passed our normal bedtime. We'd been binging on Breaking Bad the past few weeks and had caught up on Friday evening so we were TV-free all weekend. In the winter, it is so easy to fall into the routine of curling up on the couch with something good on television until it's time for bed. At the start, as Autumn closes, my energy is still up, and I make us tea or hot chocolate in the evenings; we curl up with books, under blankets, and hold hands to warm up. But as the winter drones on, I grow annoyed with the burden of finding the thickest socks, of making my way quickly from the warmth of bed to the questionable warmth of the shower, of drinking hot tea or coffee just to warm my fingers. At this point, we are just hanging on until it is over, braced against the wind and the snow, grabbing ice-slicked fences to steady ourselves on slippery sidewalks. I've been trying to be more mindful of the food I eat and how much activity I get in a day, but somedays all I want is a warm brownie with cold ice cream. Some nights—like last night—all I want for dinner is a hot baked potato with butter, cheese, and sour cream (fine, I used yogurt). I've been biding my time with yoga and home workouts, but this weekend was such a sweet reminder of what is to come. That this season is passing even as we are in it, and though my muscles are getting tired and my mind antsy of staying indoors for so long, this rest, too, is welcome and needed. Soon enough, the days will feel wasted inside, and I will find relief in a rainy or breezy day.

This morning, the light is noticeably brighter when we leave for work. The birds are noisy and have left a mess all over Mike's car. Even in the 20 degree weather, my face tucked into a scarf, I can see the beginnings of a spring that will usher this winter away.


Went | Philly for #SVDM14

This past weekend was the annual St. Valentine's Day Massacre party in Philly. My friend Shawn Elise has been throwing this shindig for the past three years—it all started in her living room!—and it's since grown into a bigger, open-to-the-public event. Sadly (for us) she was in Australia this year during the party, but the usuals gathered at my friends Nicole and Jay's apartment for the weekend to keep the tradition going. Unfortunately, the party coincided with Cyndi and Zander's romantic weekend getaway to Boston, but at least they got to use our apartment while we were away.

We've been to Philly more times than we can count, so we laid low, getting familiar with Nicole and Jay's new digs, eating homemade cinnamon rolls, treating ourselves to a Stephen Starr restaurant (Parc, which gave us a little taste of what to expect from Paris in August!), and watching a lot of Breaking Bad/SNL/Olympics. It was the perfect getaway for this hellish winter. I took Tuesday off, and we took our time driving back, stopping off at Phily Diner (why is it spelled that way!) for pancakes and then in Queens to have a quick lunch with Nabila. We hit some awful traffic on the way home from New York, but Cyndi's great note and gift were enough to bring a smile to our faces. Now we just need to plan to actually spend a weekend with Cyndi and Zander!


Made | Turban-style knit headband

This little headband is pretty close to my heart because it's the first thing I designed and made for my shop. It's a simple design, which is very much my style, and the little leather detail takes it from a keep-me-warm-headband to a little bit of a okay-this-can-be-considered-fashion.  
This little lady is pretty simple: it's a stockinette stitch sewed up and then cuffed with a little strip of real leather. Honestly, the hardest part is sewing the leather, but it's worth it. I love this robin's egg blue color, but I think I'll be whipping up some pinks and creams for the (alleged) spring. 
I've worn this thing on the way to the gym, for a quick walk to the store, or to cover up that I didn't have time to shower. I also love that it doesn't overheat my head so I can wear it even when I'm inside. 
 Want one of your own? These headbands are available in the shop.


Happy Valentine's Day from...the Internet.

Have you been to Google today? If you have a few minutes, head over and listen to the little love stories behind each candy heart. I promise, they'll make this day feel a little less commercial/lonely/silly/Hallmark-conspiracy/whatever-it-usually-feels-like-to-you. Trust me, and happy Friday.

Have your own love story to share? I'd love to read them in the comments! Let's take this holiday back, shall we?


Made | Super soft seed stitch cowl

It's kind of a shame—I've been knitting up a storm since Thanksgiving, but I really haven't talked much about it here. I found myself focusing on opening up the shop, and sharing my projects kind of took a backseat. Now that the shop is open, I'm back to finding a good balance between the two (and, you know, my day job and personal life). This was one of those projects that helped me master a new(to me) stitch: the seed stitch.  

The seed stitch is a super simple stitch that adds a lot of interest to the work (and to the process). I made quite a few of these cowls while I was home for Christmas; I made one for my sister as a gift, then my mom and my stepmom were all over me to make them one before I left. I finished my mom's while she was napping (during a movie of course!), and I placed it on her chest. It was a nice surprise for her when she woke up. 

And now some pictures of my beautiful mother modeling her cream tweed seed stitch cowl. I hope I look just like her when I'm almost 60! (Though I'll always be about two feet taller than she is.)
Want your own seed stitch cowl? You can find one in the shop!


Made | Colorworked Aztec Hat

I still consider myself fairly new to the knitting world. I'd dabbled before, but my main yarn craft had been crocheting before this year. I'd always admired the clean, tight stitches in knitted works, but thought I couldn't actually make them myself. But once I mastered knitting and got a grasp on knitting in the round, I wanted to set my sights a little higher. Enter: colorwork. It makes knitted works so interesting and personal, and since everything can be mapped out on a grid I figured, how hard could it be?

My first ever colorwork was this triangle hat in Patton's pure wool. It's a very simple pattern (doing the math kind of intimidated me, so I went with simple shapes that could be repeated), but I really love how it turned out! Now I have a better grasp of how to hold the yarn and keep them straight (though I did end up with some tangles every now and then), and I think I'm finally ready to tackle a more intricate pattern.

It probably would've been easier to try my first colorwork project on some chunkier yarn, but I love the Patton's wool for hats, and the doubled up yarn makes for a warmer knit than usual. I love it! It's one-of-a-kind, and is available in the shop.

Have you ever tried colorwork in your knitting before? I'd love any tips or favorite patterns!


Made | Red Lentil Stew

I don't have to tell you it's cold. We had another snowstorm yesterday, and after seven+ years of living in Massachusetts, I still get butterflies the night before a big snowstorm. We were expecting Mike to have a snow day, and my boss had already signed off on us working from home, so it felt like a weekend night. I still had to wake up early the next day and work, but something about wearing my pajamas and drinking a homemade latte while I did it made it feel like my own kind of snow day. 

I woke up at 4 AM to use the bathroom and peeked out the window to absolutely no snow on the ground. I gasped, afraid the weather channel had gotten it wrong and that Mike would have to go in after all. A quick check on my phone reminded me that it wasn't set to start for an hour. When I woke up three hours later, the snow was coming down steadily. I made some tea and settled in for the day. 
Even with the increased daylight, I've been finding myself fighting for energy and motivation at the end of the day. Two nights this week I took an hour nap on the couch after work, which is unheard of. To shake things up, I decided to start some new projects and try a new recipe. 

I bought this little bag of red lentils at Trader Joe's last week with no idea how I'd prepare them. A quick Google of "red lentil recipes" found me a promising Indian-style lentil stew. Trust me, this one's a keeper.
Red Lentil Stew adapted from Real Simple

Gather your ingredients: 
Olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
8 scallions, chopped with white ends separated
2 tablespoons curry powder
4 carrots, chopped (I used about 20 baby carrots, chopped)
1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 cup red lentils
4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
naan bread and green part of scallions, for serving

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and scallion whites and cook, stirring frequently, until softened (about 2-3 minutes). Stir in curry powder, carrots, potato, lentils, broth, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and vegetables are tender (about 15 to 20 minutes).

Sprinkle the curry with the scallion greens and serve with naan (I used Trader Joe's garlic naan).
I meant to take a picture of the bowl, but you know how it is when you're hungry and the garlic naan is ready and you just want to eat dinner. The picture above shows this as it simmers. The liquid will cook down a lot, and you'll be left with a stew-type consistency. This is a hearty meal, and if you're normally a meat-eater, you won't miss it!


How to enjoy the Super Bowl when you know nothing about football.

I was excited last week when multiple recipes for chicken wings popped up on my Bloglovin' feed. Just assuming it was a coincidence, I pinned a couple of them. Then, when Super Bowl squares went up for sale at work, I realized that it wasn't just the world catching up with my love of chicken wings—the big February football bash was imminent.

I unapologetically care nothing about football. College, professional, flag—I don't understand the rules and I don't really plan to anytime soon. Now, what I can get behind is a night of finger foods, beer, and the chance to randomly win some money. So I bought four squares, and planned to make some baked wings and "seven" layer dip. (I say "seven" because Mike doesn't like sour cream—I ended up using Greek yogurt anyway—so it was missing a layer, but delicious it still was.)

I started by making the Pioneer Woman's recipe for pico de gallo, then threw some of that in some mashed up avocados with lime juice. I'm telling you, if you're like me and always assumed you knew what you were doing with pico, just take a look. She gave me the courage to throw in way more cilantro than I've ever dared and I'm never going back. The equal parts of the ingredients takes it way beyond salsa. Try it.

Next up were the wings. I wanted to make something comparable to the ten cent wings we get down the street at Midwest Grill, except not deep fried. Tall order, huh? Apparently not for Joanne of Fifteen Spatulas. Her recipe for crispy baked chicken wings is hands down the best I've ever made, and actually pretty simple. Whether you're a chicken wing addict like me or you just want to watch some sports without trekking to a bar, give this recipe a try.

Right, so how do you enjoy the Super Bowl (or any sports event that you couldn't care less about)? In three simple steps: Start the day with a great workout (my Pure Barre trial is almost up! review to come!) and an encouraging bus stop sticker; make some delicious food; pick not one, but TWO winning squares so your Monday consists of an envelope of cash; and when all else fails, cozy up on the couch and knit.