Friday, November 26, 2010

Cashew milk

It's the day after Thanksgiving and, as usual, I feel like I overdid it yesterday with too many rich foods.  So, it's time to cleanse.  No, I'm not talking about a juice diet or getting a colonic.  I just mean that the foods I eat for the next couple days are going to be lighter, less salty and I'll be avoiding dairy in everything other than my morning coffee.  The problem is that I like milk in my oatmeal.  The solution is homemade nut milk following instructions from the book Vegan Vittles by Joanne Stepaniak.

Here's what you need:
coffee grinder
fine mesh sieve
3 cups almost boiling water
1/3 cup raw nuts (I used cashews)
2-3 tbsp sweetener, depending on the nut you choose (I used 2 tbsp brown rice syrup.  Maple syrup works great too.)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

1. Grind the nuts to a fine powder/paste using the coffee grinder.

2. Blend the ground nuts, sweetener and flavoring extract with 1/2 cup of the water.

3. Add the rest of the water 1/2 cup at a time and continue to blend.  Take care when blending very hot water.  Don't use a blender that is too small and fill it no more than halfway.  Be careful of the steam when removing the lid.  Use a low speed.

4.  Pour contents of the blender through the sieve, stirring the milk to help it get through.

My sieve isn't very fine, so I add cheesecloth to the straining procedure.

5. Place the contents in a storage container and keep in refrigerator.  It will keep for about a week.  Shake the milk before using.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Felting first, but not the last

It seems every project I attempt, introduces me to something new.  This time it was felting.  Essentially, you knit up a very large piece, with a loose gauge using wool.

Then, you stick it in the washing machine using a hot water setting and low water level and wait.  The product that comes out is shrunken and formed into a thick fabric where the fibers are all interlocked.  I actually had to add some boiling water to the tub, because our machine doesn't get much more than warm.  I also found it useful to throw old jeans into the mix to help with friction. 

Finally, you have to let your project dry.  For this project, it took nearly a week for the slippers to dry, before I could finish them off with a pearly button and some beading elastic.

These cute ballerina slippers are on their way to my mom for her birthday.

For a good article on felting with advice for how to fix your washing machine if it gets clogged from a lot of felting projects, click here.

The only downfall of felting is the amount of yarn you have to use, making a project like this rather expensive by comparison.  But, the item is probably cheaper than a similar item purchased in a store.  Oh, and then there's the issue with clogging your washing machine, but that can be avoided by felting inside a pillow cover.   

Project details:
Pastaza yarn on size 10 circular needles purchased at The Yarn Mart in Little Rock
Felt Ballerina Slippers Pattern by Bev Galeskas

For more specifics, you can go to my notebook.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Racing in Memphis

Steve and I got up VERY early on Sunday morning to race the Outdoors Inc Cyclocross Championship race in Memphis along with the rest of the Little Rock CX crew. Steve built me a set a of wheels for this season and I really wanted to see how they worked.  (The same week he finished them, he broke his collar bone and I haven't had a chance to give them a proper workout, until yesterday.)  The wheels worked great, by the way! 

The course, located at Greenbelt Park along the Mississippi River, had some really cool features including some tricky off-camber turns, stairs, a barrier run-up and plenty of ups and downs.  Not to mention, the competition was tough. 

Ryan working a steep hill with Noah, in the background, on an off-camber section.

Noah on the stairs.

Noah shows his skills over the barriers.

Ryan looked smooth over the cottonwood logs.

I don't remember how many women started the race, but they were fast.  Long story short, I was sitting in 2nd place during the second lap, when the first place rider dropped her chain.  Then I maintained 1st place until the last lap or second to last lap when a totally different rider came out of nowhere and passed me on a flat like I was standing still.  I managed a respectable 2nd place and got some cool swag including cash and a cute swiftwick hat!  (I think it was the wheels.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Visitors from California

Last month, Steve's parents came for a visit.  Steve rented a cabin at Deer Hollow Ranch near Lake Fort Smith, so they could see parts of NW AR.  (During their last visit, we stayed in Mountain View for a weekend.)  

Fido loved meeting his "grandparents" and his time at the cabin.

Fido at Lake Fort Smith.

We visited Eureka Springs one day, but it was too rainy to really enjoy our time there.  We did, however, get a good lunch at New Delhi on the Deck.  Indian buffet!  (Steve shows off his pre-surgery sling for the broken collar bone.)

Speaking of eating, we did a lot of it.  We had dinner at our favorite place, The Pantry as well as Cajun's Wharf, also a very good place.

They did some visiting on their own including a day trip to Hot Springs and a visit to the Clinton Presidential Library and the Heifer International Campus

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Make a cat happy; plant some cat grass

Our cats love fresh cat grass, not the stuff that's sold in pet stores.  (I don't know why they don't like the pet store stuff, but they don't.)  Anyway, it's so simple to plant it myself, it just makes sense. 

I start with a plastic container that would otherwise be sent off to a recyling center.  (Keep your eyes open on recycling day and grab a good sized one out of your neighbor's bin.)  Simply cut drainage holes in the bottom and fill it with potting soil.  Scatter the seeds over the top of the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil.  Finally, put the container in a sunny spot, keeping the seeds covered until they germinate.  (The top of this lettuce container worked perfect for this.)

A couple days later, you can see the sprouts taking root through the sides of the container and the shoots start to come up.  That lid now serves as the base to catch dirt and water.

The seed package suggests keeping the grass trimmed to a certain height, but I never have to bother with that since the goats, er, um, cats keep it trimmed for me.

Dogs enjoy cat grass too.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Obsession with cute knits

I SHOULD be working on a project that needed to be finished last weekend for a certain someone in my life with a birthday this coming Saturday.  Instead, I am knitting cute little buddies.  What can I say?  I'm obsessed.

It started with the hamsters and the Mochimochi book.  Then it was Mochimochi Land where I found a pattern for this snowman.  (I didn't actually buy the pattern, but used a basic toy pattern from her book to make my own version of it.

Now, it's this ladybird.  I found the pattern at Natural Suburbia, searching for Amigurumi.

Maybe I'll put together a pattern of my own...