Popping and Entrelac-ing

I was unfortunately without my camera this morning, so my iPhone did a bit of a stand-in. Sorry for the general phone-ness of these.  And the fact that’s it’s all just generally a slow push-in.  I was having a hard time being creative this morning.

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I was just too excited about the project I started yesterday to wait for Dan to bring the camera back home and take pictures of it later.

Grey Gardens from Knitty is exactly the accessory that every cute-ish nerdy girl with glasses wants to be able to pull off. We all want voluminous hair and awesome cat’s eye glasses that don’t look ridiculous and cute understated earrings and the self-confidence to walk out in public wearing a knitted turban.

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I only have the glasses part going for me so far, but I hoping that the stars will align by the time that I’m done so I can wear this thing out in public come fall.

I have never tried entrelac before, despite being enticed by several different projects. (Look here and here and tell me you can resist that square-y basketweave-y goodness. You can’t!) Something had always stopped me in the past, however, and it was probably the fact that I never really read the directions and just assumed that all of those little diagonal rectangles were somehow magical in nature. A common mistake.

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And let’s be honest, reading through the directions at first will do nothing to dissuade this feeling. You’ve just got to jump in with both needles and trust those directions, even if it feels like you’re just making a big mess at first. Turns out, short rows and picking up stitches are our friends here. If you can knit socks, you can knit entrelac. And you can spend the entire afternoon watching Firefly, eating trail mix, and knitting entrelac, if you want. How else do you spend your day off?

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I mean, look at that texture! It’s so soft and squishy and quilty and lovely. It’s addictive.

I know that the colors I chose here (K1C2 Parfait Swirls in 4777 from a bamillion years ago that’s just been sitting in the stash, waiting to be helpfully variegated for a small project) are a little dark, but I am a pale person who is generally afraid of bright colors, so we should be all good here. (My project is here on Ravelry for those so inclined.)

Today, we should be getting to the awesome twisty bit in the front. I am way too excited for this. I have a feeling that once I have to try to put this woolen turban thing on over my short, weird hair in the pretend-autumn 80 degree weather we have here in New Orleans I might lose a tiny bit of this enthusiasm. If only you could knit yourself some spare self-confidence. Problem solved.

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Early Birthday Musings, with bonus further Owl Updates! (In short, David Sedaris is the goddamn man.)

“It is sad because you would like to believe that everyone is unique and then they disappoint you every time by being exactly the same, asking for the same things, reciting the exact same lines as though they have been handed a script…All of us take pride and pleasure in the fact that we are unique, but I’m afraid that when all is said and done the police are right: it all comes down to fingerprints.”

– David Sedaris, from “The Santaland Diaries,” Holidays on Ice


I turn 31 tomorrow. 31 isn’t really an exciting age to turn, unless you’re like me and constantly think about ice cream and realize that 31 is the Baskin & Robbins flavor number.

In my 30th year, my main challenge has been facing the task of my first year of nursing school, balancing work and school and clinicals and attempting to uphold the sanity of the boyfriend, friends, coworkers, and cats surrounding me. And I’m pretty sure that even though I may have developed some deep-seated anger problems during the process, I kicked some major ass. Like all up and down the street.

We kept ourselves safe during a crazy hurricane and ate a ridiculous amount of Swedish Fish. I baked countless cakes and pies, learned how to make ice cream, and held my own during numerous Scrabble games. I wrote thousands of words about Jean Watson’s caring theory, spontaneous pneumothorax, and necrotizing fasciitis. I wore all white all day for several days, tempting the gods to make me spill coffee all over myself. We rode our bikes all over the goddamn place until they got stolen out of our backyard. (I know, right? Bunch of savages in this town.) I dressed up like Moaning Myrtle, a Storm Trooper groupie, and a girly teenage vampire with pink hair, all for the sake of the little children.

For once the universe was listening, and it granted me some birthday gifts a little early.

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Dan and I got to go camping at the beach for a weekend, and even though Florida was actively trying to murder us with its heat, aggressive sunlight, thrashing surf, and angry mosquitoes, we had a fantastic time.

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St. George Island State Park made us feel like we were on our own abandoned desert island, which was a welcome respite from my usual overly-stimulated-but-still-yet-somehow-phenomenally-humdrum life. There was tons of sand, lots of playing with glow sticks in the pitch-blackness outside of our tent, and the eventual triumph of primitive camping skills when we finally had ourselves a fire to make s’mores. My first ever fireside-camping-type s’mores. Hooray!

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It was freaking great, totally worth our souvenirs of strategically-placed uncomfortable sunburns and mosquito bites.

Shortly before leaving on this weekend adventure, another early birthday present made its way to my mailbox.

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Oh yes, my friends. It is what you think it is.

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And it is hilarious and adorable, everything it needed to be. As I opened the mailbox and saw that owl looking up at me, I executed a spontaneous happy dance on the curb outside my house (accompanied by involuntary squealing), and basically skipped back into the house to show Dan that David Sedaris kept his promise.

That is such a crazy sentence that I never thought I’d be able to think, much less write down, in this lifetime. David Sedaris kept his promise to me.

A famous grown man living in this world picked out the perfect postcard (although I think my owl was slightly cuter, yes?), put pen to cardstock to deliver a real sentiment, and then put a stamp on it and stuck it in a mailbox. This is something that, myself included, has suddenly become very hard for us as humans to do in our current world, for no really good reason that I can surmise. Mr. Sedaris proved himself wrong (from his quote up there, obviously) by showing himself to be a refreshing change from the flaky, ridiculous, empty-promise people that we have all become. He is unique now in his sincerity. What a refreshing change.

People will probably think that I am reading much, much too far into this, but I don’t care one bit. I am inspired. I am going to take this 31st year and use it to hang out with friends. To make more presents for people. To work on my own sincerity. To make my word mean something. To not let the conflicts of school and work and the need for sleeping turn me into an angry person. To calm down and face the world with grace.

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To just be better.

Here’s hoping.

Tastes Like a Christmas Tree – Coconut Mint Chip Ice Cream

At my work recently, we had a summer potluck situation to celebrate our Summer Reading Kickoff, and instead of baking something easy like cookies or banana bread, I chose to delve myself deeper into my new ice cream maker obsession.

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I started with some sprigs of mint from our backyard garden, not really having much else in mind than minty summer goodness.

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Those beautiful green leaves got all blended up in the food processor with the delicious coconut milk vegan ice cream base from the Hungry Mouse‘s fabulous recipe, yet again. I might be addicted to this stuff, guys.

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Things got to mixing, and it became clear that just mint alone wasn’t enough to kick off the summer with my coworkers.

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Chocolate and shredded coconut got involved, too.

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Much better.

I meant to get some pictures of the finished product right out of the freezer, but in the bustle of the day, I’m lucky I got to it before it all disappeared.

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Look at all of those little flecks of fresh mint and chocolate! Yum!

I brought magic shell and two types of cones to make a little ice cream bar, but most people just went for plain scoops. I feel silly saying it, but hearing how much people liked it and how surprised they were to taste fresh mint in homemade ice cream was just a fantastic feeling. One of my more eloquent coworkers, A.J., declared that my ice cream tasted just like Christmas trees.

He tried to explain it to me, but there was no explanation necessary, really. I totally get it. It’s fresh and bright and minty, with a little bit of the almost-bitter-but-not-really oiliness that makes me think of rosemary and basil in the best ways possible. The chocolate is dark, the coconut is chewy, and the whole thing coming together in such a lovely way was a wonderful surprise.

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Coconut Mint Chip Ice Cream
adapted from the Hungry Mouse‘s 3-Ingredient Coconut Ice Cream

Ingredients:
2 13 oz. cans of coconut milk
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 large-ish sprigs of mint (mine were each about 6 inches long)
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Directions:
Strip mint sprigs of their leaves and wash well. Put leaves in food processor and chop until leaves are finely shredded and are releasing their oil. Add the coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla, and blend everything together until all ingredients are well-incorporated.

Pour ice cream base into prepared ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Add the chopped chocolate chips and coconut during the last 10-15 minutes of processing, after the ice cream has begun to thicken. With the oil in the fresh mint, the one took a little longer than expected to set up, with the base processing for about 40 minutes by itself before I added the mix-ins. Your mileage may vary.

Pour the finished product into a freezer-safe container and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a weird freezer-burny skin from forming. Allow the ice cream to freeze for at least 8 hours, but overnight is best.

Then scoop it up and enjoy!