Monday, March 30, 2015

(Just Another) Melange Monday

Smoked chicken and avocado grilled cheese
on left; smashed potatoes on right.
The potatoes still need work.
Hello everyone - I do hope a good weekend was had by all! It's Monday ... and time for melange.


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As I wrote last Monday, I'm determined to use my Pinterest food board to broaden my culinary repertoire. Up this week: smoked chicken and avocado grilled cheese from The Unorthodox Epicure and crispy smashed potatoes from Love Grows Wild

These two were my Saturday night dinner menu; while I hope you'll pardon my night-time-with-fluorescent-lighting photo, I can heartily recommend the sandwich. And I mean heartily. This is far more than mere grilled cheese: chunks of white meat chicken (mine wasn't smoked) and cured sun-dried tomatoes (I switched out the red peppers) sit atop two types of cheese, topped with fresh avocado and lime (I omitted the cilantro and added tarragon), all grilled on mayonnaise-buttered sourdough bread. Now clearly I do not have mad grilling skillz, nevertheless this combination is a winner. Oh.My.Bob.Yes.Indeed. And very filling. These sourdough slices were small, yet I could not eat more than two halves.

The crispy smashed potatoes weren't quite as successful, but I think I need to give them another try with fingerling yukon golds instead of just the smallest foraged regular yukon golds. I found that mine wouldn't really smash - they just crumbled either in half or many pieces, and I think it's because they were too big and needed more boiling time. The one in the photo above was probably the best I could reproduce from the recipe. I will say that these were still tender, I still completed them in the oven with olive oil and kosher salt and they were fairly tasty. I found them a far better bed for poached eggs on Sunday and, along with a few sun-dried tomatoes, sourdough toast with orange marmalade and freshly brewed coffee, they made a tasty recovery.


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Abby Glassenberg of While She Naps recently blogged about why she doesn't monetize her site, that is, engage in affiliate marketing. You can certainly buy her products from the site, but otherwise it's free and clear of any professional conflicts. While she wrote it more succinctly that I may have I, too, fall into the non-monetized site camp for pretty much the same reasons. While Abbey's site is more fully developed than mine (I do not yet have my own domain), I also write book reviews and go on (sometimes ad nauseum) about yarn producers and dyers. I want to do that from a place unfettered by any potential conflict of interest. That doesn't mean I won't like the people whose yarn or book I may review or mention; it does mean that you can be certain I'm not earning one penny from anyone anywhere from the copy. I do provide many links to other sites, but that's for the reader's reference as well as providing appropriate links for copyright, nothing more. 

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Finally, I leave you with yarn from yet another design I've finished for future publication. I love, love, love this stuff. Alpaca and silk are a great combination, and this yarn really works up well. I've also started an Etched Ice Cowl as a model thank-you in this same fiber (different colorway). I let the model handle a bunch of my old swatches in order to let her choose what yarn she wanted me to use for her cowl, and she pretty instantly chose the Baby Alpaca Silk. A good use of swatches, I thought. 

See you in April!

Friday, March 27, 2015

An Overview This Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday

Happy Friday, everyone. Another week is ready for the history books. 

At the beginning of the year I said I'd do a 2014 recap, and then completing Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace pretty much took over all my spare moments. Now that it's done, I can do a little reflecting.

The first thing I did was go through all of my blog posts from last year and collected the lion's share of images into this collage to the left. Boy it was another busy designing and painting and book reviewing and just generally creating year. The photos were a great prompt to remind me of all the creativity in my world. I am one truly lucky person. I also work hard to earn that luck!

One thing I noticed was the drop in blog posts from my 2012 high of 108 entries down to 66. That's not necessarily a bad thing (since I've consistently increased my design output), but it is a shift. I've also been writing for publication slightly more, which I really enjoy. I do hope I can continue that trend this year.

I also spent a lot of time and energy last year expanding my social footprint - I now have Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts. I also started separate Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as a blog for the book. Between the blog and all of those other accounts, I felt was drowning in social media at the end of the year. Way.Too.Much. I shall be consolidating a few of these accounts (and in fact, I've already started with the blog). While I continue to have ambivalent feelings about Facebook (nothing against all the Facebook "people" out there, just a personal preference), I do enjoy my Twitter and Pinterest accounts, and my Pinterest boards are, along with my blog, far and away my most popular social media sites. For my interests and how I best like to represent those interests, that makes sense to me. I'm going to keep concentrating on what I like and works best and focus the extra energy I've been squandering on social media boondoggles into those creative areas that bring me so much joy - designing, painting, writing and cooking.


Lovely green yarn for an
upcoming design I've been
working on. Isn't it just spring
and summer in a photo?
Last year will also forever be marked by the process of publishing my first book. Someone once wrote that publishing a book is a transformative thing. I will absolutely agree with that! I am still too close to it all to accurately assess the transformation but, at minimum, I now know I can actually do it. Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace is 202 pages of pure awesomeness, and every little bit of it is all my creation. I still can't quite believe it, despite the evidence. I expect that my previous collections were leading me to this, although that's never been my intent with them. I'm usually fairly focused on each collection as I'm working on it. Nevertheless designing, writing, and doing artwork and photography for a book of this size on my own seemed a herculean task before I actually accomplished it. 

I will be announcing a new social media campaign next week, and so with spring and new beginnings came the perfect opportunity for me to look back. Last year was, overall, incredibly expansive and rewarding. It was also the best year for my design business - in all aspects. I now have a clearer picture of what I want to do this year. I hope you'll stick around for the ride.




Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Monday ...

... time for melange! I haven't written one of these in a while, so I'm thrilled to be able to once again.

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Now that the lion's share of work is done for Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace (we're on to promotion and stuff), I've made a promise to myself that I will utilize my Pinterest food board more. I've been amassing quite a lot of food pins and have yet to really make a dent in trying them. 

What you see on the left is lunch leftovers from yesterday's dinner of Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes (pinned originally from Simply Recipes). I love chicken. Love.Chicken. Love.It. Especially the dark meat. And, since this is a quick, one pot dish, it's definitely right up my alley. The directions are clear, the ingredients list short and easily purchased (if you don't already have everything in the house), and the result was truly tasty. I omitted the garlic (sometimes it doesn't agree with me, but I like it), and used liberal amounts of fresh tarragon, as well as the two teaspoons of dijon mustard (mine was honey dijon). I cannot tell you how out of this world the potatoes turned out - the chicken provides the requisite amount of fat, and the vinaigrette enough acid to compliment the fat. The fresh tarragon made it taste like spring. I've got a little still left over, and I'm savoring the thought of it. Definitely two thumbs up for this recipe.

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I have been on a southeast Asian-inspired film jag. I am also amazed that all three films I've recently watched starred Irrfan Khan, although I probably shouldn't be surprised. For an excellent double feature, I'd recommend Life of Pi and The Lunchbox. I read Life of Pi with a group of people in my Ravelry group and we all enjoyed it. I was a little hesitant to finally watch the film adaptation, but enough time had passed between the reading and the watching, so I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Ang Lee is truly brilliant and I cannot believe how life-like the CGI tiger turned out. Unlike Life of Pi, The Lunchbox is a small film, but was equally enjoyable. Both films made me hungry. 

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Finally, I leave you with fiber from another recently completed project for publication later in the year. I cannot wait for everyone to see this design - I totally loved making the sample. Until next time ...