Monday, January 30, 2012

Chuck's Improvised Argyle Cake

Chuck's Improvised Argyle Cake

I made Chuck a pretty simple cake last week with the recipe for chocolate cake from Sinfully Vegan. The Icing recpie, however, came from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, doubled to complete cover the cake (tripled might have been a little better since I used some for chocolaty decoration.) The cake itself called for Nayonaise and applesauce, and actually tasted better as days went by. I improvised an argyle pattern, and I'm planning on making that a theme for Chuck's future birthday goodies. Next time I'll will hopefully remember to do some planing and measuring for the layout, but I don't think it turned out too bad, especially since we started eating it moments after I finished the decorations!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Veganized Molasses Cookies

Molasses Cookies

Although I am about to make Chuck a birthday cake this week, we still have these cookies he randomly made over the weekend. We actually happened to have all the ingredients on hand, including the spices. Yay! They are incredibly hard to resist. It's a simple veganized adaptation of a googled recipe. The link & notes about our substitutions are below. I especially like how the large grain sucanat adds a sparkly decorative element. I'm a sucker for sparkles!

The original recipe is here.

Ingredients substitutions:
3/4 cup margarine, melted 3/4 cup Earth Balance Spread
  • 1 cup white sugar 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 egg Ener-G Egg Replacer equivalent to one egg plus 1/2 tsp
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup white sugar  1/2 cup Sucanat

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Finished Knit: Date Night Sweater

Date Night Sweater Date Night

Yarn: Louisa Harding Merletto in Coral from CloseKnit on Alberta

Although I finished this last week, the majority of the work for on this project had been finished for something like two months. It hung out in around our apartment in various looking like the picture on the right during that time. The only thing left to do was weave in the ends and re-do the bind-off edges. But through the holidays I had Crafty Wonderland & holiday travel keeping me from wrapping this up. Finally last week I found the time to make the last efforts required on this project!

It's a top-down seamless knit, which is such a great project type. You can try it on as you go & don't have as much finishing work to worry about at the end. I was good on this project. I stashed 5 balls of the yarn because it was on sale (and because it's shiny!), knit up a swatch and then looked through raverly for patterns that would work for the amount of yarn and the gauge I had with my swatch. I'm getting better at being responsible about least for some of the bigger projects.

Work In Progress: Date Night

So I'm happy with how this turned out & the lace pattern was a fun one, just repetitive enough but not too boring. I especially like the collar. I don't know if you can see it all that well in my pictures, but the lace makes for a scalloped edge. I still love how shiny this yarn is, although it did have a tendancy to be a little too splitty and fuzz up while I was working on it...but hopefully now that I am done that won't be as much of an issue. Of course I plan on hand-washing it just in case! And also probably wearing it on Valentine's day, since it seem appropriate. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chicago Visit: Museum of Contemporary Art

Sonic Arboretum  Sonic Arboretum

While I was in Chicago I had the chance to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. One of the main reasons I wanted to visit was to see Andrew Bird and Ian Schneller's Sonic Arboretum, on display during December. Tickets for the actual performance I'm sure were sold out long before I even knew about this exhibit, but I'm glad I got to see the hall of "specimen horn speakers." They filled the atrium space on three long plinths, and played violins & whistles.  It was neat how hard it was to identify where specific sounds were coming from, it had a kind of choral effect. Well, there was one time we co identify the source, when I posed for this picture it happened to be very noisy...but that was the exception.

Earth Monument to Chicago, 1975-67 Carol Bove

The other major exhibit was The Language of Less (Then and Now) which is still on display in its entirety until March 25th. It's a really great collection of work from major minimalist artists, like Richard Serra, Donald Judd, Christo and Gordon Matta Clark, and new works from contemporary artists. One of my favorites from the "Then" portion of the exhibit is pictured above on the left, a carefully arranged collection of core samples from around Chicago by Alan Sonfist. My favorite from the "Now" section of the is above on the right, works by Carol Bove. Much of the work in that room was a bit difficult to photograph, like the beaded curtain here. If you look closely at the picture in that link you can make out the triangles which were much more visible in person.


We managed to get through the rest of the museum, but it was at a quicker pace. I've already posted a favorite image from the Ron Terada Exhibit (which ended yesterday) in my new years' eve post. Another favorite work was the colorful light box by Spencer Finch, with the title "Shade (on the grave of Walt Whitman October 19, 2006 10:15am)" Great title for a piece I would've liked anyway, but the title makes it even better. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chicago Visit: The Rookery

The Rookery

It was pretty ridiculous that I lived in Chicago for two years and never made it over to The Rookery. It wasn't even that far from where we lived! (Chuck did get to see it once without me however.) I don't know why I never made it there but I was determined to make up for that this year on one of my holiday trips back to Chicago. I'm glad I did it at the holidays too because the space was so nicely decorated for Christmas:

The Rookery The Rookery

It's a notable work of architecture designed initially by Burnham & Root, later remodeled by Frank Lloyd Wright. It's got several obviously Wright designed additions, his large urns and the light fixtures to name a few, but I was surprised by all the marble with golden patterning throughout the space. Even the underside of those urns were covered with gold! Some of that actually covers the original wrought iron, which is itself elaborately decorated.   It's hard to imagine the original appearance of the space pre-Wright, but it seems like it would be equally impressive. The stairs, and one exposed column start to give you an idea: 

The Rookery Rookery Column

Shortly after I moved away from from Chicago the FLW Preservation Trust, who I used to volunteer with giving tour of the Robie House, started offering tours and opened a gift shop in the light court. Unfortunately we manage to just miss the tour for the day I was there, but next visit I think I plan on making the longer tour Wednesdays at noon.

I think my favorite part of the space was the filigreed structure in the ceiling of the light court:

The Rookery

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snowy Owls Invade Chicago! (& Other places)

Owl sequence

I felt so lucky to get to see this guy right before I left Chicago. It was a nice way to end 2011 too. My parents mentioned that they had read one was hanging out in Montrose Harbor, so I knew we'd have to try to see it. Either it wasn't very hard to find or I just got really lucky, either way I'm very happy I did see it. This is the first time I've actually seen a wild owl, and I'm still amazed that it was a snowy owl in particular. 

For some reason they have started coming further south. This article sites possible lack of food, &/or a population increase. Most of the owls this far south are juveniles.

The Tribune has a lovely set of photos, better than I was able to get with my point and shoot camera. (Nature photography is one thing that really makes a person want to spend a lot of money on cameras and equipment.)

The Snowy Owl! Goldeneye (ducks?)

We tried to find him twice and suceeded on both trips. The first time it was so very cold. He was trying to stay warm in the harbor. (He's that white spot on top of that white thing in the picture above on the left.) We also saw a pair of (I think) Goldeneye, black & white ducks. I would've been completely content with that sighting even though we couldn't really get all that close. Fortunately, we had some extra time for my last day in town & it was really nice out, so we gave it a second try.

I saw a huge white wing as I approached the beach house and a group of people with cameras started running. That had to be the owl. It took me a while to spot it behind a large pole on the beach, but it wasn't very long before it moved back to the beach house. I got to see it in flight!

Chuck wasn't with me for this visit, so I started researching sightings for snowy owls here in the Pacific Northwest. Apparently a few have been spotted in Discovery Park in Seattle, and Damon Point in Grays Harbor. I hope they'll be back next year & we get a chance to check it out. I found some great photos on flickr from Damon Point by Roland Kilcher. I particularly like this one. All of his photos make me want to head up there for some birding!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Music of 2011

One last recap of 2011 before I am ready for the new year. (Yeah, that always takes me several weeks!) Music! I always enjoy putting together posts about music I listened to over the last year, but it is a big task to pull together, so I've been procrastinating a little. (Once I wrap this up I can recap my Christmas trip to Chicago and the last few knitting projects I've finished!) This year I thought I'd do it by selecting a few categories: Portland - so much good stuff here; My Usual Favorites - their new albums are so good;  New Favorites - More in this category than the others; To Check Out - Stuff that's high up on my list that I haven't really listened to the full album yet; and lastly Spillover - albums that didn't come out last year, but I started listening to, and stuff I'm still listening to from last year.


AgesandAges - Alright you Restless
This is just one of those albums that I have to put on when I need cheering up. So many people singing together I think is what has that effect on me, but also I like the lyrics. I knew I'd have to check them out when I heard Kevin Robinson from Viva Voce produced the album.

Viva Voce - The Future Will Kill Us
I'm sad I haven't actually since them live again since we've been back in the northwest! They are so much fun to see play, I highly recommend it. The Analog Woodland Song is so good.

Wild Flag - Wild Flag
Very cool to see this on a lot of the best of 2011 lists for the year. I got to see them play a free in-store show, but unfortunately didn't act quick enough to get tickets for a real show. Ah well, hopefully since they are Portland based I'll have more opportunities this year.

My Usual Favorites

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
Tom Waits - Bad As Me
Both of these are so good. I think they'll take me a while longer to fully absorb.

New Favorites

tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l
Fascinating to listen, seems like she has such a diverse range of influences. I just found they did a Tiny Desk concert, which I will be checking out right after I finish this post.

Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer
Both Eleanor & Matthew Friedberger of The Fiery Furnaces came out with solo albums this year. We saw her open for The Kills at a MusicFestNW show and several songs stuck out and convinced me I needed to get the album.

Say Hi - Um, Uh Oh
Another album to put on to make me happy. I love the video above because it's filmed in Seattle and many of the shots are outside a school-turned-condo building very close to where we used to live.

Jessica Lea Mayfield - Tell Me
She's from Ohio! And not all that old and very impressive. I first heard her on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic. 

Thao & Mirah - Thao & Mirah
I already liked them both quite a bit, so this is such a good pairing. Here they are covering Salt'n'Peppa with Carrie & Fred on the Portlandia tour. Too fun!

To Check Out

Beyonce - 4
Seems to be getting especially good reviews this year, and I've been mildly obsessed with the videos for Countdown and Run the World (Girls)

TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light
I've been meaning to check them out more intently for a while. I enjoyed their performance with Tinariwen on the Colbert Report. Also I think there's a song about caffeine? I actually got this album off of emusic, we just need to get the files moved off my computer and into the right place for listening...

Charles Bradley - No Time for Dreaming
Same deal with this one, it's time to start listening! We saw him this year as part of MusicFestNW, and he was just so good. It felt perhaps like the closest you can get to seeing James Brown.


Y La Bamba - Lupon
We have seen them live a bunch of times since we moved here and bought their album last time we saw them, so even though it was released in 2010, we listened to it a lot in 2011. In addtion to the video above I highly recommend their Tiny Desk Concert on NPR.

Bhi Bhiman - The Cookbook
Introduced to his music when we saw him open for Joan As Police Woman at Mississippi Studios mid-year.  We were impressed. The video for a song from his new album (coming in 2012) is pretty cool, using stop motion to create a moving collage.

Breathe Owl Breathe - Magic Central
This made my list for 2010, but I've still been listening to it a lot in 2011. We saw them at the workshop barn stage at Pickathon this year, where they talked about their songwriting, and played some songs of course.

I'm feeling like it was an especially good music year this year, so I maybe adding quite a few things to my "to check out" list in the near future. Here's a few best of lists I'll be referencing:

Pitchfork's Best Albums of 2011
KEXP DJ's top 10 lists for 2011
KCRW DJ's top 10 lists for 2011
Willamette Weeks's Best New PDX Band 2011

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011 Knitting Project Recap

Whisper Cardigan Lotus Tank Leaf Yoke Top
Whisper Cardigan - The construction of this was so neat, making knitting with tiny yarn pretty fun. And it's a really satisfying light sweater, which is sparkly, my favorite!
Lotus Blossom Tank - Accomplishments in Lace knitting! Yay!
Leaf Yoke Top - Two similar color & types of sweaters in a row, but this one was much easier...and sparkly again, yay!

In 2012 I might have to make a point of making myself full sleeve sweaters. I made Chuck one once but somehow I'm always drawn to 3/4 length of sleeveless projects for myself. They do use less yarn, which is handy, but full long sleeve is probably something I could use...

Finished Knit: No Sweat Socks Lindsay Socks Cabled Socks

Chuck bought me a whole bunch of sock yarn earlier this year and I'm still working through it. And so far all it's gotten him is one pair of socks! I'm working on it, his birthday is coming up soon and I'm a good chunk of the way through a nice pair of brown cabled socks. 

Little Things
Green Baby Slippers Ribbed Jacket Knot Necklace
Magic Slippers
Ribbed Baby Jacket (aka Zoe's Smoking Jacket)
Knot Necklace

Babies to knit for means smaller projects, but I also got interested in some very small quick necklaces this year. Quick & satisfying finished objects for when things are busy.

For the Shop
Triangle Cats, Gadget Cozies, Two-tone fingerless mittsKnit-o necklaces & more! I finally started knitting up some stuff for the shop and craft shows, and it all went over really well. I'm still recovering from my last bout of knitting for the holiday craft show...but it won't be long before I'm knitting more and hopefully coming up with some cool new designs for the shop too. Meanwhile, I missed knitting for myself so much I've got 3 or so personal projects going on at the moment, but the are all pretty I'll be back on this soon!

The Whole Haul 
Or maybe not! I did stash a lot of yarn this year, thanks to really great deals at a Knit Picks warehouse sale,and the sock yarn mentioned above. And I've pretty much figured out all kinds of fun stuff to knit up for myself with this stash. That could keep me busy for months! There are at least 3 or 4 sweaters worth of yarn there, plus all the socks. Okay, so I'll have to find a way to balance personal and Etsy shop projects this year, but that's a good problem to have!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 I'm not done with you just yet!

Here's a recap! I liked the recap Sarah from Petite Cabbage Press did on her blog so much I'm going to use her idea. This is a picture heavy post! My year by month in photos:

Temporary Art
North Pearl District, Portland, OR

Ross Island
Ross Island, Portland, OR

Squirrel Graffiti
Squirrel Graffiti in Ladd's Addition, Portland, OR

Pink & Green
Cherry Blossoms on the Waterfront, Portland, OR

Mississippi Pizza Pub's Atlantis Lounge w/Boy & Bean
Boy & Bean (that link plays music) at Atlantis Lounge/Mississippi Pizza Pub in Portland, OR

Ferris Wheel
Rose Festival CityFair on the Waterfront, Portland, OR

Starfish at Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OR

Pickathon Music Festival, Pendarvis Farm near Portland, OR

Bird Watching Crowd
Crowd waiting for Vaux's Swifts at Chapman Elementary School, Portland, OR

Crane Migration
Migrating Cranes fly over as we walk up to the Pittock Mansion, Portland, OR

English Entrance Hall, 1775
Miniature Room at the Art Institute, decorated for Christmas, Chicago, IL

Owl sequence
Snowy Owl in Montrose Harbor, Chicago, IL (more on this in a future post!)

I can't complain too much about the last year. It's been filled with nature, live music, lots of great walks and a couple of great visits with my family in Chicago at the end end of the year. Last year one of my resolutions (though I try not to make those typically) was to walk 500 miles. I stopped counting several months into the year when we reached something like 300 miles, and we kept on walking a lot so I'm sure I accomplished my goal. This year we climbed up to Washington Park without much effort, which I'm sure was not the case when we first moved here. The only similar goal we have for this year is to keep it up and to finally make it over to Forest Park (somehow we haven't been yet) and spend lots of time hiking through it.

More pictures from my year are in the 2011 Highlights set on flickr, which I'm still working on wrapping up...once I get the last pictures uploaded from my Chicago visit, I should be close. Then it's on to filling up a new 2012 set! I have a feeling it's going to be a very good year.