Common Octopus from Amigurumi Knits!

Let me preface this project by saying Hansi Singh is an amazing pattern designer!
Cassiemarie's Common Octopus
Project Details:
Yarn -- Handspun bulky 2ply llama and pink recycled yarn.
Needles -- Size 8 dpn's, yarn needle
Modifications -- went up a couple needles sizes and used a bulky yarn, used scrap yarn for stuffing, and wooden buttons for eyes.
Cassiemarie's Common Octopus
All of the parts before assembly. I cut it close with the pink yarn - I only had about 24 inches left when I was finished!
Cassiemarie's Common Octopus
Bottom view.
Cassiemarie's Common Octopus
The giant squid is next on my list. :)
Also, our beans finally came up!
green beans!

Apple, Radish, and Chive Salad

My radishes are growing really well so far, and I've been getting about 4-5 of them every day when I go out to the garden. The chives are also growing pretty prolifically this year as well. The first year I planted them they were super wimpy, but they are perennials so this year they came in really thick!
All of the stars aligned, and this salad was born!
apple radish salad
It is made from 4-5 radishes, one granny smith apple, chopped chives, 1tsp flax seed, and a tablespoon of creamy poppy seed dressing (I used Brianna's). I tossed the salad before serving it so that the dressing was evenly distributed. It made enough for a single serving as a light meal, or two side-servings. If you have some sprouts, add those as a topping for extra-fanciness.
apple radish salad 4
I've been spending a lot of time in the garden, and it was nice to be able to enjoy some of the fruits of all the work -- even though it is more fun than it is work. Up until the last week or so, the weather here has been very wet. There were a few days when there was standing water in the garden (no good...) and some of the veggies were looking a little unhappy. But after a week of sunshine, almost everything has doubled in size!
Yellow Pepper
garden8
Yellow Pear Tomatoes (remember when they were just babies??)
garden9
Baby Basil Sprouts! -- I've got Thai basil and Italian basil started. To anyone interested in planting basil, I would recommend starting it from seed, I think it grows way better than the plants you buy. :)
garden10
Radishes
garden12
Zucchini - I'm pretty sure it was 6" bigger when I went out this morning than it was in this pic. :)
garden13
Everything else is coming in swimmingly now, I was a little worried about the cucumbers and the beans, but the cucumbers have made a comeback and look perfectly fine now. I've managed to salvage one row of beans, and I'll plant another couple of rows tomorrow. The extremely wet weather made it impossible for them to sprout before, and only about 8 plants came up out of four rows. But all is well now :)
apple radish salad 3
amy and i 4 2009
Nate was working on a recording project in Milwaukee yesterday, so I got to squeeze in a quick visit with my sister.
amy and i 3 2009
We went to Bradford Beach on Lake Michigan and got to laze around for a few hours - there was a nice cool breeze to go along with the sweltering heat. It was about as perfect of a day as you could ask for.
amy and i  2009
We also ventured down to the Third Ward and drooled over the clothes at anthropologie. Later on in the night we had a cookout complete with burgers, shish kebabs, and potatoes. We were total gluttons. :)

Jam!

The original plan was to make some raspberry rhubarb jam, but the rhubarb I had gotten was starting to get a little iffy. Nectarines are in season right now, and they are one of my favorite fruits, so they were the next obvious choice.
nectarine jam 1
I used a recipe from Butter is Love, and it turned out wonderfully.
nectarine jam 2
It is perfectly sweet - I am not a fan of super-sweet jams and jellies.
nectarine jam 3
The only thing I think I messed up on is the setting of the jam. I don't think I had it at a hard enough boil, so it is not as thick as normal jam. It isn't runny though, so I'm happy! One question though, will the fact that it didn't set affect the shelf life of the jam? I would hate to lose all of my hard work!

Sunset



It rained and thunder stormed all day, and then we get the most wonderful sunset! Hope you all are having a wonderful start to the weekend. :)

Playing Grown-Ups

Ann, Kim, and I had a wonderful lunch at Kim's place yesterday, and I am still thinking about the food we ate. Kim had DIY salads with every imaginable topping, some sparkling blueberry lemonade, and made a fabulous torte for dessert. I made some cheese and chive cornbread, and Ann brought an amazing swirly cheese wheel (she knows I'm a true Wisconsin girl, and have to partake in some amount of cheese with every meal I eat...).Kim and her signature ravenous eating pose. haha.
Ann and her wonderful 'oh, you caught me sipping my lemonade' pose.
And the torte to put all other deserts to shame. Good thing our lunch until then was light. :)
She had fresh raspberries, and raspberry liqueur for the topping.
It was such a great afternoon! I'm a huge sucker for dinner and lunch parties, they are the best. great food, and great conversation, what more could you ask for?

Also, if you've got a second, check out their blogs too:

Kim's Blog - She just graduated from NIU with an MFA in Photography. Remember our show we had together this last year? She's moving far away to Switzerland for a few years, and I'm sad she's leaving but happy she's going on such a wonderful adventure.

Ann's Blog - Ann is another one of my classmates at NIU - she's getting her MFA in Printmaking. She's also running a contest on her blog ending tomorrow! You all should enter, and then go buy some of her beautiful artwork.

Sewing Project - Hand Printed Pillows

I've been loving the combination of dark blue and gray together, and I was in dire need of some new pillows for my couch. I had bought 15" pillow inserts almost two years ago, and never got around to making some covers until now.
I used gray and blue cotton, and stamped the lace design on to the front of the cushions in acrylic paint (with textile medium added in) using the lace stamp I made here. I really love how they turned out -- you can even see the brush strokes from the paintbrush if you look closely at the lace pattern.
The pillow form itself is removable from the cases, the back is two separate overlapping pieces - just like a pillow sham. It will make them really easy to wash, just in case we are ever a little sloppy with our morning coffee... :)

Haircuts, octopi, ikea, and weddings, oh my!

This last weekend Nate and I were back in Wisconsin for our good friend Jorja's wedding (which was wonderful), and I decided I wanted a haircut. Amazingly when I went in, I had enough to donate! 12 inches gone - and I love it.
We had a great time dancing the night away, but my camera died, so sadly I've got no pictures. :(
I've also started a new knitting project, it is the Common Octopus from the book Amigurumi Knits written by Hansi Singh. Hansi is one seriously amazing pattern writer - the most amazing pattern in the book is a praying mantis. Here is the progress so far on the octopus- I've finished the top of his head.
These are the yarns I'm using, the gray yarn is llama yarn that I've spun, and the pink is recycled yarn that I dyed with koolaid a long time ago. It is left over from some mittens. Nate had a couple of days off last week which was really great. He took me on a date for lunch and a movie the first day. On the second day, we met some friends in Schaumburg for trivia night at an irish pub. Seeing as there was an Ikea a couple miles away, we made a day out of it.
Ikea tourists:
Luckily, I didn't come home with too much, just some essentials that I'd had my eye on for a while. And those bell jars -- I've got plans for those.....
Hope you all are having a wonderful Monday!

Cassie's Rhubarb Crisp Recipe

The last week has been a bit of a whirlwind around here. I've been all over the place in the last few days - so far my summer has been packed! On top of that Nate and I are planning a trip out to Colorado at the beginning of next month. I am so excited, we are going to camp and explore various national parks. Nate is going to be shooting some footage for his thesis project, and I'm going to bring my oil and watercolor paints along. Hopefully some good will come of it!
Amidst all of our traveling and projects, I got the urge to make something decadent and homemade. My mom had given me a ton of rhubarb the last time I saw her, so I knew exactly what to do!

Cassie's Rhubarb Crisp
Ingredients
  • 6 cups of sliced fresh rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup sugar (use slightly less for a nice tart crumble)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (use regular sugar if you run out of brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup butter (I used unsalted)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
Instructions:
  1. Chop the rhubarb into thin slices and put in a 9x9" or 9x13" baking dish. Add the 1/2 cup of regular sugar, and mix it around with your hands until rhubarb is evenly coated. Stop for a moment and admire the pretty pink and green rhubarb.
  2. In a separate bowl prepare the topping. Soften the butter ( you don't want it too hot, just melted enough so you can mix it in easily) and add in the butter, oats, brown sugar, flour, ginger, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Mix with your fork (or your hands- as I like to do!) until the topping is clumpy and crumbly. Spread topping evenly over the cut up rhubarb.
  3. Pop it in the oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes until topping starts to brown and the rhubarb is bubbling.
  4. Enjoy! I like to eat it hot with some ice cream over the top of it!
I got the baking dish from Crate & Barrel when I was shopping with my sister the day after her graduation party. I was in serious need of a larger sized one, and I decided to treat myself. :)

Spinning Wheels!

Yesterday I was given the amazingly generous gift of two saxony spinning wheels.
The second wheel came in pieces, and was missing a few, but with a little improvisation and elbow grease, I've got it up and running.

Both wheels still have a few kinks to work out, but I think I'll be able to have them fully functional with some more work. For now I've thoroughly cleaned and oiled both wheels, and have started to spin some lace weight singles on each one. Having a saxony wheel along with my louet is wonderful because it spins lace weight yarn so much more efficiently than the louet which is better suited for spinning worsted weight and heavier yarn.Today I met the girls for some coffee and then did a little thrifting on my way home. I found this wonderful 3/4 sleeve cardigan from banana republic that still had it's tags on it (originally $60!) for $1. It fits perfectly, and I am a cardigan-a-holic, so I'm sure it will get lots of use. You can't see it in the picture, but it has pretty golden sheen. I also picked up these sandals, they are leather, and they were marked as my size, but I think they are a little on the small side. :( Maybe I'll stick them up in my Etsy Shop. I also picked up these lovelies. The large ceramic ikat planter was $1 and the lotus bowls were 50 cents each. It was a good thrifting day. Now I'm off to do less fun things such as cleaning my room so I can actually see the floor.
My friend Ann and I were talking aout blogging a few weeks ago and how we rarely focus on the things that are going wrong, or the 'less glamourous' parts of our lives. Well, I can assure you that my house is messy 85% of the time, and that many of my dinners consist of frozen pizza and a PBR. I just didn't want to be fooling any of you. :)

A Sneak Peak and The Garden

First off, a sneak peak! Can you tell what it is? More on this in upcoming posts. The garden is coming along swimmingly. Here are the zucchini, I started the seeds early for these.
Tomatoes!! I started half of these from seed and I picked up a few small plants as well, so we'll see what grows better. There is a lot of mulch around them to keep the moisture in the soil. Last year some of my tomatoes cracked due to the soil drying out.
Yellow wax peppers. Yum. If I get a lot of these, I think I will try to can them. They are my favorite thing to put in a grilled cheese sandwich.
Radishes -- I planted these all over the garden in the spaces between the zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers in effort to maximize space.
Chives -- I've been using these on eggs and everything else.
The beans are just starting to sprout up -- along with the weeds. It has been so rainy the last few weeks, I've only had to go out and water once. I'm going to contact our apartments to see if they would install a rain barrel to cut down on water use this summer.
I'm heading in to the studio tomorrow to work on my painting, I've really got to get it done so I can move on!