December 2006


One of the things I miss most about the other (non-Philly) places I’ve lived is the mountains.  I really, really miss seeing mountains on the horizon on a regular basis.  So I always like the drive between my  Charlottesville cousins’ house and my grandmother’s house (also in Virginia).  This isn’t the greatest picture ever, for which I apologize, but it was a lovely, lovely day last Sunday.


I said last week that I’d post a picture of the chocolate-orange-cranberry cookies.  So here’s a picture of them along with the two other kinds of cookies my dad and I made for Christmas.  The chocolatey-looking round cookies are the ones with orange and cranberry, the decorated cookies are chocolate-spice sugar cookies with powdered sugar glaze, and the others are oatmeal cookies from my grandmother’s recipe–crispy and very oaty and topped with cinnamon-sugar. 

I love baking for people. 


This is the good kind of holiday knitting–the kind that’s done over the holiday rather than in frantic preparation for the holiday.  I had decided a couple of weeks ago that I wanted a lightweight scarf-like thing with which I could tie my hair back, and thought a bright red would be the way to go.  So here’s a portion of my accomplishments of the last week–I’ve got about a foot of unblocked scarflet so far.


Happy Chanukah, or whatever other winter holidays you might celebrate.  I, being ever prepared and strict in my observances (yes, that was sarcasm), wound up using birthday candles in my menorah this year.  (They work, but I’m going to try to find candles designed for my menorah for next year–I burned my thumb while melting the bottom of the shamas so it’d stay in the candle cup.)  I also compressed my candle-lighting a bit, which is why you’re seeing all the candles lit before this evening; travel complicates things.   (Oh, and the funny extra light in the background?  That’s the streetlamp outside my window.)

Yesterday evening’s focus was food.  First, there was the making and eating of latkes with Sarah, Patrick, and Mary.  Mmm, latkes with homemade applesauce and (not-homemade) sour cream.  And then I baked cookies.  My dad improvised some chocolate-orange cookies with cranberries and chocolate chips for a potluck last week, and he was nice enough to write out a recipe and send it to me so I could try it out.

They came out really well, nicely chewy without being cakey.  (I will post a picture here sometime soon–they’re pretty as well as tasty.)  The recipe and discussion are in the extended entry.



I’m having trouble believing it’s really Friday already–this has been a very strange week.  But last night was Fiber Night, and my computer clock says "Fri" before the time, so here’s a picture for you. 

I baked bread on Sunday, for the first time in months and months, maybe a year.  I was really excited about the prospect of a weekend day for just housework, and I went back and forth about whether I wanted to bake fancy bread, like challah, or just honey-whole wheat, and whether to make a braid or a rectangular loaf…  I had been planning to write something about process v. product, and how I’m much more a "process" person when it comes to bread than I am for knitting. 

And then I got a phone call saying that Star had died, completely out of the blue. 

I had met her for lunch the week before, something we’d had scheduled for weeks because we both tend to be extremely busy, and the end of our conversation had included the idea that it would be nice to bake bread together sometime. 

This is the kind of time when I wish I were better at writing and at explaining my emotions.  My analytical bent works better for science, and my non-biology vocabulary has been suffering these last few years…  I didn’t know Star really well, although I would say we were friends.  She was an amazing woman, and she will be missed.  There is more that I would like to say, if I but knew how to verbalize it.  So…go read some of her writings, call a friend you haven’t spoken to in months, and appreciate pirates or vampires or zombies or robots or (other) shiny gadgets or ballroom dancing however you may see fit.


sunset (around 5pm), from the lab next door to mine.  (click for big)


It’s what we refer to in my family as an "evil invasive alien", this Japanese barberry, but it sure is pretty.  (My dad’s a forester.  Invasive species cause all sorts of problems.)

I finished the singles and the plying of this:


This is the merino-mohair I bought from Spirit-Trail at Maryland, three ounces of (what I think was) brown merino striped with red and yellow mohair, which spun up to about 290 yds of dk-ish yarn.  I had an interesting time with the differences in staple length, but I really like the way it came out.  It’s more woolen and less worsted than a lot of what I spin, which I think will be good for its intended purpose (wristwarmers for my mom, for her next birthday), and I’m really proud of the fact that it’s almost perfectly balanced–the pre-twist-set skein had a smidgen less than a quarter turn. 

…why I don’t knit garter stitch scarves.


They are boring.  On the other hand, they are also fast.  I knit this one up yesterday (plus half an hour on Saturday), for one of my labmates who had yet to acquire a scarf.  (It’s supposed to be in the 20’s tonight!  She’s from Florida!)  I’m not sure exactly how much yarn it was, since it was scavenged from a very old sweater-project, but it’s Rowan Polar knit on 13s, and it’s just long enough to wrap once around my neck (braid on the outside of the scarf) and tuck into a coat.

Here’s some evidence that I didn’t spend quite all of yesterday knitting the scarf:


Kirsten came over for a while, and we made truffles.  The cocoa-covered ones are cinnamon-y, and the other ones are plain chocolate coated in almond meal.  (If I were making those again, I’d toast the almond meal.)  Recipe in the extended entry.



sky, with sweetgum tree, around 1pm


some very confused irises (also shot this afternoon)  (sorry about the crappy picture)

Last Friday, on my Day To Do Fun Things In New York With My Parents, we went to the natural history museum for their exhibit of live lizards and snakes.  (I’m not entirely sure what happened.  We used to go to art museums a lot, and I like art museums, but I haven’t been to one since the DalĂ­ exhibit came to Philly.)  Anyway, it was lots of fun.  I hijacked my parents’ camera, which is much fancier than mine, and took lots of pictures.  Here are a bunch of them:


collared lizards


green basilisk

(several more in the extended entry)