Amy Artisan

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Month: July 2006 (page 1 of 2)

There’s No Place Like Home

The Wizard of Oz has always been one of my favorite movies. Maybe it has to do with being a Kansas gal. How many of you remember “getting to stay up late” to watch the movie on TV when you were a kid? When I moved to Georgia before 10th grade, many comments were made about “being from Kansas” – to which I would respond that Dorothy did indeed live across the street from me.

When I recently saw this pin “3 Clicks From Home” at Melissa’s Eggman Studios it seemed like a perfect way to celebrate a favorite movie and being a Kansas gal.

On Thursday evening I wished I could have clicked my heels three times to get home. Summer storms impacted flights in and out of Chicago – so I “got to” hang out in the Chattanooga airport for 5 1/2 hours while waiting for my flight home. At least the passengers sitting near me at the gate were in pretty good spirits throughout the wait – each delay update caused a mixture of groans and chuckles. I did some knitting on the sash belt that I have been working on – a 10 year old boy was intrigued by the knitting and another passenger joked that it would be a sweater by the time we finally got to board the plane. After waiting an hour in the line for a taxi at O’Hare I was putting the key in my door at 1AM on Friday – it was 10 1/2 hours from the time I left the project office in Chattanooga till I was home.

Over the last couple of weeks the mail has once again been filled with some fun goodies.

I Won! Recently Amanda Cathleen had a contest for some free alpaca yarn that she was given on her recent vacation. In addition to the yarn she also included some great stitch markers that she made. Thanks for the goodies! I think I know “just” the pattern for this yarn – stay tuned.

Project Spectrum Postcard Swapping continues. Margene was my blue swap pal. Anastasia (in Australia) was my purple swap pal.

My swap pals have been very understanding of some delays in getting postcards out to them. Last Sunday I was busy with papers & flora/fauna pictures – the cards have been dispatched to Pennsylvania, Utah & Australia. In my rush to get them in the mail I didn’t get pictures snapped.

Have you swapped with Trek yet? Her sock bag swap is a great idea! When I saw this bag on her site I knew it was time to swap – this bag contains 2 of my favorite things: sunflowers (see Kansas gal above) and purple. So, I swapped with her for some of my handmade notecards featuring pictures from my Italy & Greece trip.

Jodi (aka Purl Needlemeyer) has developed a fun knitting organization kit – Gettin’ Knit Together – it is filled with all sorts of great things that are being put to use in organizing my stash & supplies.

Sunny Violets Bib – This weekend I finished up this Mason Dixon baby bib. It matches with a yellow onesie that I had picked up several months ago. This one is on it’s way to Baby Lilly in Texas. (For those of you who are making these bibs, when you’re looking for cute buttons make sure that they can be machine washable. Several cute buttons that I initially picked up where hand wash only – not practical for baby bibs.)

Speaking of home…where is yours? I’ve got a Frappr map going (better late than never…) – if you would, please take a minute to put a pin in the map so I can see where you are.

Simple Summer Weekend

After the extreme heat of the last week or so the weather this weekend was just perfect! From midday Friday on I have been able to have the windows open at home and enjoy the summer breezes through the house. While the weekend didn’t contain a lot of “big” things it was full of lots of simple pleasures.

Simple Salad – On Friday I turned the stove on once to boil some chicken breasts & then enjoyed a simple and delicious chicken salad throughout the weekend. (Here’s the “recipe” – 3 parts diced chicken, 1 part golden raisins, 1 part roughly chopped walnuts, mayonaise to moisten, salt & pepper to taste.)

Simple Sweet – Breakfasts & desserts this weekend were easy yummy yogurt parfaits (vanilla yogurt, fresh cherries (pitted) & a bit of granola).

Simple Knit – While I have many projects on the needles right now my weekend knitting was focused on the current baby blanket – one of the baby boys was born last weekend so I need to get this blanket finished quickly.

Simple Sounds – As I’ve mentioned before, Pink Maritini is my favorite band. They recently released a live concert to be broadcast on PBS stations during the pledge drive. While I didn’t see the show on my local station, I was able to purchase the concert on DVD when I became a member of the station. The DVD was waiting for me in my held mail.

On Saturday evening my good friend Elaine came over – she travels for work as well so we hadn’t seen each other since before the holidays (yikes!). Indeed, we exchanged Christmas (2005) gifts. We went to our favorite Thai restaurant for dinner – because the weather was so nice we sat outside. As dinner progressed a bit of rain moved in but as others fled inside we continued to sit outside and finished dinner with a few raindrops. After dinner we came back to my place to chat & had the Pink Martini DVD as background.

On Saturday I finished reading the Yarn Harlot’s latest book, Knitting Rules. This was a fun read and refresher about knitting basics. When this book was released I looked forward to seeing when she would be coming to Chicago. Unfortunately her tour schedule and my work schedule are in conflict – she will be at My Sisters Knits on Monday evening when I’ll be back in Chattanooga. Chicago Knit Bloggers, I’m looking forward to reading your accounts of her visit.

After church today I braved the crowds to check out the brand new Target that just opened about 4 blocks from my house. This land was once a shopping center that had a Venture, then a K-Mart and then it sat empty & in disrepair for a while. Driving by today you would never know the previous life of the property – this Target covers the entire plot of land with the parking on the ground level & the store above. Of course everyone was checking out the store today – it is a great addition to the neighborhood. The only downside to the visit was because it is brand new there were no “clearance” end caps to check out (or maybe that is a good thing, because my cart always tends to fill up when I see those).

User error (mine) in booking my flights to Chattanooga means that I don’t head south until early, early on Monday morning – instead of being enroute to the airport right now I’m enjoying the sounds of the neighborhood & summertime breeze through the open windows. A few simple summer things!

What simple summer pleasures have you enjoyed recently?

Summertime: Blooms, Books & Beverages

**…and we’re back…the web host company was experiencing some power problems earlier today…(7/18)

Due to my work related travel this summer I didn’t do any gardening in my flowerbed or on the back deck. However, I’ve still been able to enjoy some summertime blooms.
While I enjoyed my week back home in Chicago earlier this month I had some blooms in my backyard – the hostas were in full force. Also, the fence was covered with beautiful shades of purple clematis – most of the plants are in my neighbor’s garden; however, one of my clematis vines came back & is entwined with the others on the fence. These July blooms are perfect for Project Spectrum: Purple.

While I was home with the parents in GA this weekend I was able to enjoy the blooms (& greens) of their garden as well. A trip through the garden was a bit of each month of Project Spectrum – including the beautiful “past prime” colors of the blue hydrangeas that I showcased last month.

Since I hit the road last week there has been very little knitting activity. Instead, I’ve done more reading in the last week & finished up 2 very different books.
First up – Last Voyage of the Valentina by Santa Montefiore. The Amalfi Coast in Italy…England…post-WWII…1970s…a lot of different elements come together to tell a story that is a great summertime read. While not as intense, it reminds me of The Shadow of the Wind that I thoroughly enjoyed last summer.
The other book I finished has been an in progress read for a couple of months: Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths by Bruce Feiler. This was a very interesting read about Abraham & the role that he plays in Christianity, Judiasm, and Islam. I definitely learned more about my faith as well as other faiths. After reading this book I’m even more interested in reading Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses.
Blooms & Books are two key ingredients to enjoying summertime. Another key ingredient…beverages, specifically Iced Tea. A new favorite iced tea is Trader Joe’s Pomegranate White Tea – when I was home for the week I constantly had a pitcher of this chilling in the fridge. Last summer I discovered the Lipton Iced Tea to Go – the Green Tea with Mandarin & Mango was quite a refresher when in Greece & I needed to add a little something to the endless bottles of water I was drinking. While grocery shopping with my Mom this weekend I discovered a couple of new flavors & picked them up for a tea break at the desk – the Green Tea with Natural Cherry Blossom is my new favorite, while enjoying it this afternoon the subtle cherry flavor reminded me of slurping a cherry popsicle when the popsicle starts to turn more pink than red. These tea packets are a great way to enjoy tea when away from the chilled pitcher in the fridge.
Even though the past week didn’t contain much knitting progress I went to Hobby Lobby on Saturday to pick up lotsa Sugar’n Cream yarn to make the Mason Dixon Absorba bathmat for my bathroom. Given the size of this project it definitely won’t be a travel project. Also, on a hot Saturday in July I actually picked up a few things for Christmas decorations – past experience has taught me that if I don’t pick it up now it won’t be around the next time I go to the store…hmm, a different take on Christmas in July.

Beyond Dishcloths & a bit of Butterfly time

A lot of my knitting recently has been dishcloth sized because it is relatively small & simple – so perfect for travel. Since I was home this week I was able to work on some larger projects…finished one that has been on the needles, started 2 more, started & finished another.

One (+ One) Skein Felted Clutch/Tote

Felted Clutch

This is a cross between the The clutch you’ll never give up and The Felted Striped Tote from One Skein. I used less than 1 skein of Cascade 220 & 1 skein of Lornas Laces Glory (I think it was Mixed Berries). I knew that I wouldn’t have enough of Glory for the entire bag so I stopped it a couple of rows before the self handles.

This was my first felting project & was a lot of fun – both on the needles & in the finishing. It went through the hot cycle twice in a pillowcase with an old pair of jeans. I didn’t capture any before pictures but the 2nd cycle was definitely needed to get this down to a good size. Once it finishes drying it needs a bit of a fuzzcut before it is ready to go.

I don’t know who will end up with this – while I’m not a pink person there are several pink ladies with birthdays in the coming months.

Hook ‘Em Horns

When I first saw this colorway I knew that it was destined to be a knit for Miss Butterfly – both of her parents are UT alums. I “whipped up” this poncho in just a couple of hours this week (actually twice, I ended up frogging the first one because I didn’t like how it ended). I’ve had the yarn for several months but since Miss Butterfly was in town I thought it would be great to give it to her in person instead of mailing it to her. Here are some shots of her modeling it when she was here for a “Sleepover at M’Amy’s House” (more details down below).

Hook 'Em Horns

Project Details: Based on the Kiddie Capelet. My modifications – for increases I did yarn overs; I used the following needle sizes: 9, 10, 10 1/2, 13, 15, 17; I didn’t do the ruffle at the bottom. Yarn is Hill Country Yarns Instant Gratification Superwash Sock Yarn in Hook ‘Em Horns.

I loved working with this yarn – it was so soft & so easy to work with, I will definitely be using it again! I already have 2 other colorways in my stash & love all of the colorways that they offer.

Wrap it Up!

Heather Wrap

On July 1st I actually cast on for a purple knit project during Project Spectrum purple month. This is the “Superlong Wrap” from Knitting to Go. I’m using some Jaeger Matchmaker in Heather. This isn’t as bulky of a yarn as the pattern calls for but I am wanting a lighter wrap. I don’t know if this wrap will stay with me or be gifted but I’m enjoying working on it. It is a very simple pattern that knits up beautifully.

Cozy Babies

Blue Blankie

I’ve got 2 baby boys to knit blankets for in the coming months. I’ve started on one blanket using “new to me” yarns – Wendy Peter Pan Double Knit in Lupin Blue & Polka Dot. This is a very soft yarn that is turning into a cozy blanket.

Two co-workers are expecting babies in August & September so I think I will try the Mason Dixon bib pattern as a quick knit gift for them.

Baby Knit

This is the start of an MDK bib that will go to another new baby with a matching onesie – I think it will be a “go to” gift to knit as needed.

Butterfly time

Miss Butterfly & Miss Doodlebug and their parents were visiting Chicago this week so I had fun spending time with them. On July 4th we went to the annual BBQ in their old neighborhood. It was a beautiful day for a picnic & we all had a great time.

July 4th Fun

I took Thursday as a vacation day & had fun with the girls. We met for lunch at our favorite Pita Inn. After lunch Maya & Miss Doodlebug left for naptime & Miss Butterfly came with me for an afternoon of play and a sleepover.

Our afternoon was spent at the Kohl Children’s Museum up in Glenview. What a great museum! We had so much fun with all the exhibits – we stayed there for over 3 hours. Here are some of the highlights of the afternoon.

Museum Fun

As we were walking to the car Miss Butterfly said “I had such a fun time with you today.” I would definitely agree! After the museum we planned to go for our favorite Bubble Tea as a special treat. Within about 2 minutes in the car Miss Butterfly was on her way to a power nap so we went for the new smoothie from the Dunkin Donuts drive thru instead.

Sleepy Butterfly

Our evening consisted of watching our favorite DVD, Mary Poppins, and reading Babar the King. Since she couldn’t bring her sleeping bag on the plane we made a little nest of pillows, blankets & stuffed animals for her.

Butterfly Knitting

This morning before it was time to leave Miss Butterfly found my knitting basket & the baby blanket that is on the needles. She wanted “to knit” so she sat on my lap & put her hands on the needles as I knit a row. Then she did some “knitting” on her own & said she was knitting a blanket for her new baby cousin. Her Grosi is a great knitter so maybe one day she will be clicking the sticks “for real.”

Knitting and time with the girls…just a couple more ingredients for a lovely week!

Summertime in the Kitchen

One of the things I was most looking forward to this week was being back in my kitchen & not eating out for everything. On Saturday morning I was practically giddy as I was shopping at my local produce market & picking up lots of fruits & veggies.

Summer Produce

(these aren’t pictures of my produce, rather a mosaic I created from pictures I found on Flickr)

With all the mushrooms that I bought I tried a new recipe that I had discovered in blogland: Mushroom Caviar. Elise at Simply Recipes first published the recipe & I thought “that sounds good, I’ll have to give it a try.” Within a week Nic at bakingsheet had made the recipe & offered her review to it as well. Here is the original recipe:

3 Tbsp butter
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped clean and finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup of minced shallots
1 Tbsp dry white wine (e.g. Sauvignon Blanc)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp pine nuts
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
A couple dashes of cayenne pepper, to taste

1 Melt butter in a large skillet on high heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots. Sauté for 5 minutes stirring frequently.

2 While the mushrooms are cooking, heat a small skillet on high heat. Add the pine nuts. Cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to get a little toasted. (Keep your eyes on the nuts, they can burn pretty quickly.) As soon as they begin to toast, remove the pan from the heat and put the pine nuts into a small bowl. Set aside.

3 While the mushrooms are cooking, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Once they have cooked for about 5 minutes, add the garlic and a tablespoon of dry white wine. Cook for an additional minute and remove from heat. Put mushroom mixture in a bowl, add the toasted pine nuts, and set aside to cool.

4 Once the mushrooms have cooled down a bit, mix in the lemon juice, sour cream, and parsley. Add more salt and pepper, if needed, to taste. Sprinkle on cayenne pepper, to taste. Chill before serving.

Spoon onto a large butter lettuce leaf and serve with crackers. (Use rice crackers for wheat-free option.)

Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Serves four.

I’ve made this dip twice this week & it will definitely be a “go to” recipe in the future. I took it to an impromptu pizza party on Sunday evening to rave reviews & then made a larger batch for Tuesday’s July 4th BBQ. Some of the modifications that I’ve made to the recipe:
– I used greek style yogurt for the creaminess.
– Instead of salt & pepper I used the Pepper-Orange Seasoning from The Spice House.
– When I didn’t have shallots for the 2nd batch I used a vidalia onion which was a great flavor addition.
– I toasted the pine nuts in the toaster oven instead of on the stove.
– For the 2nd batch I added some button mushrooms into the mix.

I would definitely recommend this as a new appetizer option. I served it with the mini toasts from Trader Joes.


As I’ve mentioned before, on our trip to Italy & Greece I loved all of the iced coffee options – especially the frappe in Greece. Last August when we were in Michigan we went to the local Greekfest where I learned how to make frappe at home & have been tweaking it ever since. While at the produce stand (which is where I buy my Greek Nescafe) I saw that they had Frappe shakers so of course I had to pick one up.


How do you make a frappe? I’ve found a couple of recipes here and here. These have been a great refreshment each day – both the hot/humid days & also the more pleasant days where I’ve been able to keep the windows open all day.

Other kitchen adventures this week have included Cherry Knox Blocks for the kids at the BBQ; Baking & Fireworks: baking sugar cookies at 10PM on July 3rd (once the kitchen had “cooled” down, ha ha) for the BBQ & watching the spectacular fireworks being set off by the neighbors from the back deck (similar to these pictures from last year); creating an impromptu Middle Eastern stir fry with assorted veggies, chicken, couscous & an “on the fly” marinade/sauce.

What are some of your favorite signs of summer in the kitchen?

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