Sunday, July 31, 2011


Today has been a slow Sunday.

K and I went on a couple of hot walks--one to the grocery and one to pay the rent. Even though I started sweating the moment I stepped out the door, I'm glad that we live near enough to walk to a lot of places, and I plan to keep walking despite the weather.

I took photos of flowers that I saw along the way (and may have snagged one growing from a crack in the sidewalk to put in a vase at home). I'm keeping mental notes of all the flowers I want to plant once I finally have a yard again. The list is long.

Our galley kitchen was crowded as K and I spent the afternoon preparing pitas, hummus, feta dip, and lemonade for dinner. The results were delicious, but the so much. Two cooks in a tiny kitchen with lots of food prep going on is just plain frustrating. When my shoes stuck to the floor because of spilled lemon juice and every surface seemed covered in flour, I took a mid-afternoon yoga break to keep myself from cussing anymore. When I felt calm again, I returned to baking bread only to burn my forearm on a 450* oven door. Yeah, so much for that not cussing idea. Some days aren't meant for cooking and I just have to accept that.

I did discover a new love: shandy. When I first heard mention of this beer and lemonade concoction I gagged a little. It sounded like a terrible combination. Rest assured, it is not. Shandy tastes like sweet, bubbly lemon soda, and I'm hereby dubbing it my drink of the summer.  

A sunny perch on the couch was the perfect place for knitting today. The baby cardigan for my friend is coming along quickly.

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How's your weekend? What have you been up to?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

csa day: summer stuff (and a comfort food recipe)

last week

This is what we've gotten the last two weeks from our CSA. I love that we're getting summer stuff like tomatoes (yay!), squash, basil, and watermelon, but also getting things like carrots, potatoes, and onions. Planning dinners has been a cinch lately because of all the food we've got on hand, and our weekly grocery trips are getting shorter and cheaper. We often look in our cart as we stand in line at the register and ask, is this really all we need? I'm really impressed with the variety and amount of produce we've been getting from the farm this year.

this week

Want to know what we've been making? I've included a menu for the past two weeks since I am behind in my posting.

Tuesday: Leftover okonomiyaki and tamagoyaki

Wednesday: Homemade pizza with onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach. Crust recipe is here. I also made a whole-wheat version to try.

Thursday/Friday: Thai curry with squash, green beans, and tofu

Saturday: Out to eat at the Sante Fe Grill, our new favorite Mexican restaurant in town

Sunday: Veggie burgers. Corn, tomato, and basil salad with vinaigrette.

Monday: Japanese curry with potatoes, carrots, onions, and tofu

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Tuesday: Out with co-workers (me), fending for himself (K)

Wednesday: Leftover curry

Thursday: Pasta with tomatoes, basil, feta, and fried eggs

Friday: Barbecue tofu, cabbage casserole, sauteed squash

Saturday: Out

Sunday/Monday: Hummus, pitas, feta dip, and lots of fresh vegetables

* * * * * 

I've made the cabbage casserole twice recently for company and both times the guests went back for seconds, which I think says a lot for a cabbage dish. The cabbage flavor gets a layer of depth from roasting in the oven and is complemented by buttery cracker crumbs and sharp cheddar cheese. It's savory comfort food.

I wanted to give you a recipe, but I don't measure anything for this--I just use what we have on hand. Here's what I estimate I used this last time. Feel free to change things up and eyeball amounts.

Cabbage Casserole
(adapted from a dish K's mom makes)

2 small heads of cabbage (equivalent to 1 large)
4 tiny onions (equivalent to 1 medium onion)
1/2 sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed
2 TBSP butter, melted
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350* and oil a 13" x 9" baking dish.

Chop the cabbage and onions into thin strips. Saute cabbage and onions with a bit of oil over medium-high heat until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Be sure to salt and pepper generously.

While the vegetables cook, mix the melted butter and crushed crackers.

Transfer cabbage and onions to the prepared baking dish. Top with cheddar cheese and cracker crumbs. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately and amaze your friends and family with how delicious cabbage can be. This is also great reheated the next day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

yarn along: little red and LEO

We are headed out to a concert by the river tonight. We're packing bottles of cool water, blankets for lounging, and maybe a card game or two. I'm also stowing this knitting project in my bag. 

I've been working on this red rectangle (soon to be a tiny cardigan) on my bus ride to and from work. You can see the bumpy road in my gauge, but that just adds character, right? This is the first time I've worked on a project with seed stitch, but it won't be the last. It so simple (alternating knits and purls), but makes a pretty pattern. 

As for reading, I have about five books spread-eagled beside my bed. I can't seem to pick just one and honestly, I've been so tired lately that I only make it through about three pages before my eyelids start drooping, so I don't feel very invested in any of them. One thing that I am invested in is picking up a copy of the LEO Weekly, Louisville's alternative paper, every Wednesday. It's got great columnists (including my friend Sarah) and lots of great local event coverage. It really helps me plan my weekends and makes my midweek commute more entertaining. 

I'm off now to gather up blankets, games, and knitting for our night out by the river. I can't wait to see the sunset and listen to some good music. Have a good night!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Today feels good. Life is full.

K and I spent the morning slowly waking up over coffee, scrambled eggs, and the newspaper. We still enjoy holding the printed pages in our hands, even if all the news seems bad. The sections I read end up in a messy wad. When K's finished reading the paper looks as if it's just been delivered.

Mid-morning saw us out house-hunting. We finally found one today that we could picture ourselves living in, which certainly doesn't mean we'll end up buying it, but still...exciting. I found myself sitting in the kitchen there in yellow chair at a tiny yellow formica table. I mentally added a lamp and imagined the coziest late-night tea parties. Nightcaps would also be appropriate. It seemed like a place to share secrets and talks about the future. Yes, that sweet kitchen is still on my mind.

This afternoon I've talked to my mom, dad, and sister. Being in touch with them makes me so happy. They are the reason that buying a house in my hometown feels right. I love Louisville for many reasons, but what anchors me here are those three people. I am lucky enough to also have a large extended family living here and K's family is only a short drive away.

Right now three pots of beans simmer on the stove. Granola sits cooling on the kitchen table, tempting me each time I pass by. I grab a pinch of cinnamon-scented oats and pecans and debate mixing up a batch of dough for granola bread. Right now K is taking a break from doing laundry--the fourth and final load is in the dryer. He is re-reading a book he has read probably five times before. Some well-loved books never get old.  And here I am, happily blogging for the first time in a week. I am glad to be here chatting with you.

Lately I've been looking for balance in my life. My new job takes much of my time and energy, but I find it very fulfilling. I've never felt (or expected to feel) so professional in my work. The people I work with are all incredibly smart and fun, a winning combination in my book. Even though I do like my job, I'm trying not to let it sap all of my creative energy. I want to devote some time each day to crafting, whether it be designing crochet projects (I can't wait to show you the mitered crochet cross block), knitting, or sewing. So far I've done well, but I haven't yet figured out how to fit blogging into my routine. I love blogging in the morning, but mornings now are busy with getting ready and going to work. So, bear with me as I figure out this new routine.

I am looking forward to tonight. We're making Japanese curry for dinner and I'm planning to watch a good hour of trash TV. I can't resist it sometimes.

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What's going on in your life today? 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mitered Crochet Square Pattern

This weekend was filled with good things: a walk to the farmers' market, seeing the final Harry Potter movie, spending time with new friends, and working on a mitered crochet design. I've worked up a pattern for you. I hope you like it! I'm currently using a pile of mitered squares to make a dishcloth pattern. I'll post the dishcloth pattern here on the blog when it's ready. And no, I have not forgotten about my rope doily rug pattern. It's in the works still. 

by Allison Lutes

Free pattern courtesy of


Worsted weight yarn in two colors (not much—this is a great project for scrap yarn)

US Size H (5 mm) hook

Tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Stitches used:

ch—Chain stitch

sc—US single crochet (same as UK dc/double crochet)

sc2tog-- US single crochet two together (same as UK dc2tog)

How to sc2tog: Insert hook into next stitch. Yarn over and pull up loop (2 loops on hook). Insert hook into next stitch. Yarn over and pull up loop (3 loops on hook). Yarn over and pull through all three loops on hook. One decrease made.

Notes: This is a simple and hopefully straightforward pattern. To make a mitered square, you start with the largest side and gradually decrease with each row. I found that alternating a decrease of three stitches for one row and one stitch for the next row made a pretty even square. I've listed the stitch count at the end of each row so that you can easily keep track of the number of decreases.

I have tried to keep the instructions as simple as possible. For example, in the first row “12 sc” means one single crochet in each of the first twelve stitches. For this pattern, always crochet one single crochet per stitch except on the sc2tog, which have one single crochet per two stitches.

The turning chain does not count as the first stitch.

* * *

Let's begin, shall we?

To begin: With color A, ch 31.

Row 1: 12 sc, sc2tog 3 times, sc to end. Ch 1, turn. (27 stitches)

Row 2: 13 sc, sc2tog, sc to end. Ch 1, turn. (26 stitches)

Row 3: 10 sc, sc2tog 3 times, sc to end. Ch 1, turn. (23 stitches)

Row 4: 11 sc, sc2tog, sc to end. Ch 1, turn. (22 stitches)

Row 5: 8 sc, sc2tog 3 times, 7 sc. Sc one more time, switching to color B on last yarn over. Ch 1, turn. (19 stitches)

Row 6: 9 sc, sc2tog, sc to end. Ch 1, turn. (18 stitches)

Row 7: 6 sc, sc2tog 3 times, sc to end. Ch 1, turn. (15 stitches)

Row 8: 7 sc, sc2tog, sc to end. Ch 1, turn. (14 stitches)

Row 9: 4 sc, sc2tog 3 times, sc to end. Ch 1, turn. (11 stitches)

Row 10: 5 sc, sc2tog, sc to end. Ch 1, turn. (10 stitches)

Row 11: 2 sc, sc2tog 3 times, sc to end. Ch 1, turn. (7 stitches)

Row 12: 3 sc, sc2tog, sc to end. Ch 1, turn. (6 stitches)

Row 13: sc2tog 3 times. Ch 1, turn. (3 stitches)

Row 14: 1 sc, sc2tog. Ch 1, turn. (2 stitches)

Row 15: sc2tog. (1 stitch)

Cut yarn and weave in ends. Finished square measures approximately 4 in x 4 in (10 cm x 10 cm). Now make more and sew them together to make dishcloths, potholders, scarves, blankets, etc. Or simply add a border and you've got a cute coaster.

You can also find this pattern on Ravelry.

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Feel free to use this pattern for your own personal use or for sale. If using it for sale, please give me credit by including my blog name ( with your crocheted product. Spread the crochet love!

Pattern copyright 2011 by Allison Lutes

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

yarn along: knit + crochet experiment

I've been in awe of the wonderful mitered crosses I've seen recently, such as Andrea's and Andi's blankets. So I started experimenting with my own miters, adapting from other patterns and throwing in some trial and error. Once I started knitting one, I wondered if I could create a similar square in crochet. Turns out, I can. I'm still trying to get these the way I want them, but in the meantime I am enjoying my experiments. Sometimes it's fun just to see what my fingers can make. I am not normally a fan of projects that combine knitting and crochet, but these two squares are looking pretty happy together.

As for other yarns in my life, I've been flipping through A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life. It's got fantastic peeks into ordinary homes, clutter and all. It's good to see the flux of real living. I can't remember where I first came across this book, but I know lots of bloggers have been reading it. It'll keep you inspired with pretty, cozy homes and the interesting people who inhabit them.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

csa day: summer vegetables

Squash, zucchini, onions, cucumbers, cabbage, green beans, garlic, fennel


Tuesday/Wednesday: Skillet nachos with black beans, squash, and zucchini

Thursday: Family cook out

Friday/Saturday: Green curry with tofu, zucchini, and green beans over rice

Sunday/Monday: Okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancake), tamagoyaki (sweet omelet). I planned this meal for a couple of weeks ago, but it never got made.

* * * * * 

Otsu (Soba salad)

Recently I've been cooking from Super Natural Cooking and found this cold soba dish to be the perfect summer meal. Crisp vegetables, tofu, cilantro, and soba are tossed with a tangy Asian-inspired dressing. This meal is even better after chilling overnight in the fridge. We're definitely putting it in our regular dinner rotation. I've also been thinking of how to adapt this for a summer picnic or potluck. I think smaller pasta and tofu cubes instead of strips would make it very picnic friendly. Here's the otsu recipe link if you're interested (and you should be, it's delicious!).

* * * 

What are you eating this week?

Also, does anybody have any suggestions for cooking fennel? I've got three bulbs in my fridge right now. They're starting to taunt me.

Monday, July 11, 2011

the cathrineholm collection begins

I had some wonderful luck over the weekend. On a whim, I stopped by a yard sale as I walked home from the farmers' market. This CathrineHolm pan jumped out at me. There was no price tag on it, so I tried to contain my excitement as I asked the lady how much she wanted for it. "A dollar," she said. Only $1? Are you kidding me? "It's a great omelet pan," she told me, as if I needed convincing. I paid her quickly and high-tailed it out of there before she could change her mind.

Now that I've got a CathrineHolm pan, I can't help thinking that it needs some company. My eyes are peeled for bowls. A tea kettle would be a great find. I found a cute print that would look good in my kitchen. I couldn't resist buying one of Amy's new fabric designs. And so, just like that, a collection begins.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Knit for Japan Hat

My Knit for Japan hat is finally complete! I chose the Milanese Lace Topper because I liked the swirl of lacework. Also, the pattern was free, and I already had a ball of worsted weight yarn that I could use. The lace pattern took me longer than I'd care to admit, mostly because each repeat was similar to the round before, but not quite the same. I had to keep looking at the pattern to keep my place. As I progressed, I kept worrying that the brim would roll up because there was only one round of ribbing to anchor it. However, after wet blocking the brim isn't rolling at all. Score one for me.

I like how simple and feminine this hat turned out. I also like imagining who will end up wearing it. I picture it arriving halfway around the world and keeping a Japanese woman warm and pretty this winter. Maybe it will bring her some comfort knowing that people from all across the globe still think and care about the people of Japan. This hat is a small but intimate connection between me and a stranger. I don't know her, but she is on my mind.

* * * * *

Thanks to Ginny for organizing the Knit for Japan group. 

If you want more details on this hat, check out my Ravelry page.

* * * * * 

I'm brainstorming ideas to make something for another Japanese stranger. My friend Fumiko just had a baby! Fumiko lives just outside of Tokyo, and when I heard from her after the earthquakes and tsunami she expressed worry about her baby and worry about her ability to respond to emergencies while seven months pregnant. I want to send her new little girl something handmade to celebrate her safe and joyful arrival. I'm undecided if I'll knit, crochet, or sew something for her. What's your favorite thing to make for a new baby? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

yarn along: knitting for japan

Hello. Is it Wednesday again already? I can't believe it's been a whole week since we last talked. Since then I had some great time touring around the city with my out-of-town guest. There really is a lot to do in Kentucky. I'm excited to share our adventures with you. Since we last talked I also had a good first day of work (though mind-boggling in the amount of names and company lingo I have to learn). 

But what I really stopped in this morning to talk about is yarny things. Gosh, I love yarn and lately I've only had needles or hook in hand intermittently. I'm making slow progress on a sleeve and trying to finish up a hat for Japan. The deadline for the hat is looming (July 15th), so I need to get a move on. I'm using the Milanese Lace Topper pattern. The yarn is a greenish blue heather that changes hues in different light.

As for books, I've been reading snatches from The Architect of Flowers short story collection. There are some beautiful phrases and sentences in this book. If you're a word lover like me, you'll probably enjoy these stories. 

* * * 

What have you been up to this week?

* * * 

P.S. Sorry if you came here from Ginny's blog looking for crochet. I don't have a crochet project pictured this week, but I forgot to change the description. 


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