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Category: Project Spectrum (page 1 of 5)

Berry Nice

Just in time for my “return” to AmyArtisan, Lolly has re-launched Project Spectrum to explore colors in the coming months. For May, the focus is RED. So, I will start this round of color exploration with a favorite red from the kitchen: Strawberry Pie.


Strawberries have always been a favorite fruit and I’m most partial to California-grown berries. Of course, that probably has something to do with the fond memories of delicious strawberries coming out of Grandma’s garden in Orange County. To me, strawberries are best when enjoyed simply. Beyond sliced berries with vanilla ice cream, my “go-to” strawberry desserts are on the easier side of the prep scale: Strawberry Ice, Strawberry Trifle and of course Strawberry Pie. Saturday’s trip to my local fresh market yielded ripe California strawberries…so it was time to make a pie.

  1. Crush 1 pint of strawberries.
  2. Combine them in a saucepan with 1 c. sugar, 3 T cornstarch and 2 T lemon juice. Stir constantly until thickened and clear.
  3. Cool the mixture.
  4. Slice another pint (or more) of strawberries and fold into the cooled mixture.
  5. Transfer to a graham cracker crust and chill until serving. (Excellent when served with whipped cream!)

While I planned to take pictures of the finished result, it turned out a bit runny (um, I had just at 1 cup of sugar in the house & just barely 3 T of old cornstarch in the kitchen when I decided to do this…the Artisan kitchen needs restocked now that I’m back home…) – so, there was no “beautiful slice of pie on the plate” shot to be had. This pie is being eaten in bowls. Nonetheless, it still tastes delicious!

Weekend Brunch

When I was younger, I remember brunches on the weekend being a special thing. Since moving to Chicago, a weekend brunch with friends is a pretty regular happening. Many great restaurants in the city have delicious menus with so many options – do you pick a savory item, a sweet item, go with the buffet line. Near my church there are so many tasty places to enjoy brunch. With so many choices, it’s easy to take it for granted that brunch is a weekend meal option. When I was working in Chattanooga I remember asking co-workers for brunch suggestions when my parents would be visiting on a Sunday – the question “where to go for brunch” was met with head scratching & comments about there not being many brunch options. In the end, we enjoyed a delicious brunch while driving through the mountains.

As much as I enjoy going out for brunch, I find brunch to be a fun menu to prepare. My recipe books and recipe box are filled with many options – some are family favorites that I grew up with and some are new discoveries. This past Sunday was a chance to create a menu and share brunch with friends. (And also a chance to do some Project Spectrum III creativity with fire by cooking.)

For starters, a new variation of my winter favorite – Sunshine Salad. I peeled & segmented 2 oranges & 2 ruby red grapefruit. I dressed them in a spiced honey lemon sauce (equal parts honey & lemon juice, a dash of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, a dash of cardamon – stir over low heat till simmering). Right before serving, I topped the salad with pomegranate seeds for extra color and a bit of crunch. The other side dish was Chicken Sausage with Apples – when heating up a package of chicken breakfast sausage, I added a sliced apple to the skillet & a sprinkling of my Gateway to the North Maple Sugar seasoning from The Spice House.

The menu was completed with Blueberry French Toast Casserole. I came across the recipe several years ago & thought it sounded delicious. The first time I made it was for brunch after a breast cancer walk – I turned it on before I left for the walk & when we returned after the walk the house was filled with the delicious smell of french toast ready to eat. This time, I assembled it in the morning and then let the crock pot do it’s job while I finished getting the house ready.

Blueberry French Toast Casserole – adapted  from The Everyday Low-Carb Slow-Cooker Cookbook

1 T butter

1/2 c. soft  cream cheese (from a tub)

8 slices of stale bread, crusts removed

1 1/2 c. wild blueberries

8 eggs, beaten

2 cups light cream

1 cup Splenda

pinch salt

2 t vanilla

3/4 t cinnamon

– Grease the crock pot with the butter & leave the excess in the crock

– Spread cream cheese onto one side of the bread slices. Place the bread, cream cheese side down, into the crock.

– Sprinkle the blueberries over the bread.

– Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

– Pour mixture over the bread and berries in the crock. The bread will start to float up. Gently press the bread down into the egg mixture. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes and then press the bread down again.

– Cover and cook on low for 3 hours. The casserole will be “poofed” and slightly browned on the edges when done.

My extras & prep notes:

– I sprinkled a bit of Chicago Old Town Premium Spiced Sugar on top of the cream cheese.

– I toasted the bread in the toaster oven to make it stale.

– I didn’t have light cream on hand so I used half heavy cream and half skim milk.

– I topped it all off with more cinnamon before putting the lid on the crock.

– I served this with lemon curd and maple syrup as possible toppers.

– Artisan Mom has baked this in the oven (assemble it in a baking dish the night before & refrigerate overnight; bake at 350 for about 45-50 minutes).

It was a gray and rainy day – which of course wasn’t condusive for taking pictures of the meal. (And really, the blueberry french toast – while extremely tasty wasn’t really being photogenic…) However, the warmth and flavor of the menu combined with the warmth of conversation and fellowship with friends was an excellent way to fight the winter dreariness.

Brunch Flowers

These flowers decorated the table for our meal and have added cheer to the house all week long.  

I associate brunch with a leisurely meal time – speed is not the object. It’s a time to linger over the coffee when you have reached your fill of tasty treats. It is a time to slow down and enjoy…the time with family and friends and the food. What brunch memories do you have? What are your favorite brunch menu items?

One Sock, Two Sock…

White Sock, Blue Sock…

One Sock, Two Sock...

(with a nod to Dr. Seuss & a Happy 50th Birthday to the Cat in the Hat!)

Right after I clicked “publish” on the last post I cast on for sock #2. While I didn’t end up knitting the whole evening I did get a good start on the leg. While on the road this week I finished up most of the leg. By Saturday morning I was onto the foot of the sock and by the time I had watched the last of my Netflix I was kitchnering the toe.

Fraternal Socks

Most hand knit socks are fraternal twins – these are no exception. In fact, they may be a bit more “mismatched” than most. On Thursday evening as I started on the heel flap I realized that I had cast on too many stitches for the sock (64 instead of 60). After an initial thought about starting over with 60 stitches I decided to just move forward. As I turned the heel I was able to “get rid of” 2 of the extra stitches. The other 2 stayed until I started on the toe.

Overall I’m very pleased with how the socks turned out. They feel a bit big so I will be washing them before I wear them & hope that they tighten up a bit. Now that I’ve finished my first pair of socks I think I can ‘finally’ justify a fun pair of clogs that I’ve been wanting – they’ll be just the thing for wearing with hand knits.

New Socks!

As I mentioned in my previous post, the time had come to just conquer socks. Just as many Dr. Suess books were just strings of simple words (ok, and some fun ones as well), in reality these socks were just a variation on knit and purl stitches. I knew I could do it – I just needed to. To that end, it reminds me a bit of when I was learning to read. As my Mom tells it, I was ready to read on my own but just wouldn’t – that Amy stubbornness was in effect. Once I started kindergarten and saw a classmate reading I came home & started reading on my own. I haven’t looked back since then – reading has always been a favorite past time since then.

Do you remember learning to read? What stories do you remember about it? Just as I continued to practice reading by reading more and more books I’m continuing to practice socks by starting on another pair. On the needles now is the “Sassy Stripes” yarn that I purchased for last spring’s sock class. (And I have already turned the heel since this picture was taken.)

Next Sock

What is your favorite Dr. Seuss memory? When I moved into my dorm room my freshman year of college, that first night I remember pulling back the covers on my bed & my parents had left me a copy of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” Indeed, the places I have gone since then!

Oh Socks!

Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So get on your way!

Ice, Ice…


(Sorry, couldn’t help myself – as soon as I thought of “ice, ice” for this title ‘that song’ from my high school days became an earworm…)

As this week progressed with work I really didn’t know what I would blog about next. I was on the road again and it was a milestone week that meant late nights at the office – I think on average I wasn’t back to the hotel before 8:00 each evening. And by that point in the day/evening I was too tired to even do dishcloth knitting. I got home Friday evening and my hands were ready to knit. I looked through my current projects & picked up “gasp” the sock that has been in progress since last fall – a continued attempt at “Socks Soar…” that started with a class last May and continued with the purchase of Cat’s book and Koigu at Stitches Midwest.

Over Thanksgiving I had knit the leg and was now ready to start the fun parts. On Friday evening I knit the heel flap and then read the instructions for turning the heel and picking up the gusset stitches – the instructions just weren’t clicking with me so I planned to stop into Arcadia Knitting on Saturday for a bit of help.

On Saturday I had a full list of errands planned. The plans quickly got changed when my mechanic told me that in addition to the scheduled oil change I needed another 3-4 hours worth of work done – with all of the long distance driving that I am doing these days it was a “no brainer” to have the additional work done. I had a bag filled with a couple of books, a Sodoku book and some knitting – a few dishcloths and the “on hold sock.” After a while I picked up the sock & book and decided to give the instructions a try – the first attempt at turning the heel didn’t work so I ripped it back out and tried again – this time it worked & so I kept going. By the time my car was ready I had turned the heel, picked up the gusset stitches, finished the gusset and was about 1/3 of the way done with the foot. As I started each new section of the sock I think I was smiling just a bit more. Knitting for several hours in the waiting area of the mechanic’s shop generated several interesting conversations – the woman who learned to knit (scarves only) a couple years ago when trying to quit smoking, the retired gentleman who remembers going to a football game with his mother who knit through the entire game (including a 98 yard kick-off return) and the store manager who remembered his mother finding the time to make sweaters for all 5 kids while he was growing up.

The knitting continued while waiting for a car wash. After all the errands were done I came home and kept going on the sock. The winter storm started here in Chicago (ice #1) and the sound of the ice hitting the window and the color of the sock yarn (ice #2) inspired the title for this entry.

By last night I had almost completed the foot. By the time I finished up The Illusionist today I was ready to graft the toe. Screech! That’s were the instructions in the book were a bit lacking – to the effect of “if you need help with grafting check out one of the reference books in the appendix.” A quick visit to provided me with the tutorial that I needed – in no time I had kitchenered the toe & wove in the ends.

Sock Details

Yay – a sock! I quickly ran outside to take pictures of the sock in the ice/snow (and rain).

Icy Socks

I’ll be casting on for the 2nd sock this evening & can’t wait to wear the full pair.

Soaring Sock Progress

The details:
Pattern: Simple Sock in Three Sizes from “Socks Soar…” – I knit the ladies size. Koigu #P905 on Addi Turbos size 2, 24″ long

When I picked up this yarn last summer the colors reminded of tropical waters – in the winter the colors now seem icy, and the blue/white is perfect for Project Spectrum.

Four years ago this month I took my first sock class (on double point needles) where I finished a sock and just barely started (but never finished) the 2nd sock from that project. Last spring I had hoped that socks would be my travel project for all of the time in Chattanooga. As I’ve mentioned, that didn’t happen. With my renewed interest in knitting in the past year I was frustrated that socks just didn’t seem to be in my project list – even though I had lots of pretty sock yarn and wanted to knit socks with it. Since being back from Chattanooga I have been trying new things with my knitting – different stiches with my so called scarf, the afterthought thumb with my Fetching pairs, and short rows with my Calorimetry. The time had come to conquer socks. With as crazy as the work week was for me I’m still in awe of the fact that I was able to wrap my head around the sock this weekend and get this finished!

OK, enough reflecting on knitting – time to wind the remaining skein and cast on for #2! Well, maybe one more bit of knit wit…

Knit Wit!

Cover Your Head

With all of the bitter cold weather recently, I am taking the adage of “cover your head” to heart whenever I’m outside and so my Chattanooga cap is getting a lot of wear (and holding up great). So I thought it would be fun to make Calorimetry for something different. As I saw others blog about it there were warnings of knitting off gauge & it being too big. I thought I’d just “go for it” because I have a hard time finding hats for this big head. So last Sunday I knit the whole thing & when it was off the needles it was obvious that it would be way too big for even me to wear. So I promptly pulled it apart & wound the yarn back into a ball. For this, the second time is the charm. What a fun head warmer! I finished this up on Friday evening & it kept my head warm through all of the errands and outings on Saturday.


The Details:
Calorimetry in Pearl Malabrigo. Size 8 needles (super long ones from my Grandma’s stash). The button is a glittery silver star that I had picked up over the summer & added to the stash for baby bibs. It’s a bit of fun on the grey knit. My pattern modifications: cast on 104 stitches, I did row 5 14 times (instead of 16 in the pattern). This was my first short row project – I still need to work on the skill but it’s nice to have a new skill in the knit kit.

This is my second Malabrigo knit & I think this yarn is rapidly becoming a favorite. The color is great – of course a gray day is not optimal for capturing it’s true color. Upon first glance it is gray and white but there is a purple hue to it as well.

Crochet Scarf

On Saturday I crocheted a few flowers to add to my scarf. I enjoyed this crochet class – it was fun to learn a new skill, one that I’ve wanted to learn for quite a while. Now when I see a knit project that involves a bit of crochet finishing I won’t shy away from it because “I don’t now how to do that.” I don’t have grand plans for crochet projects now; however, I plan to do a bit of crochet in each Project Spectrum 2.0 color in the coming months.

This past week I was wondering what my next project would be. I now know what it will be – a “crazy square” (or 2) for A Blanket of Hope.
Blanket of Hope
Sonya‘s husband has been recently diagnosed with lymphoma. As they are just starting to learn the details and treatment options, Rebekah is pulling together a Blanket of Hope to provide comfort and warmth. If you have some spare yarn (I’m pretty sure that’s a rhetorical question) & a bit of spare time you can knit whatever size wool or woolblend square/rectangle/triangle to be included in this crazy quilt.

A couple of other things that have been rattling around my head…

Another “helping others” event in blogland that I want to highlight is Debby’s husband who is participating in a 3 day bike ride for the Chron’s and Colitis Foundation. Debby’s announcement about the ride is great – the spokescat Charlie is too much.

Speaking of Project Spectrum 2.0 – Have you seen this?
Color in Motion
Check out this color education. Learn a bit more about the colors we see in our everyday world.

P.S. For those of you who have tagged me for the “6 Weird Things” – here is my “5 Quirky” posting from last year.

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