We’ve been on a big winter squash kick this year. It makes a great side dish with almost anything, but especially pasta. It’s quick and Gavin likes it, so that’s a win in my book. This year I finally figured out a way to make soft and delicious acorn squash, thanks to The New Best Recipe. It takes about three minutes to get oven-ready, which is the best.
- 1 acorn squash
- olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400˚. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Pro tip: use an ice cream or cookie scoop, not a spoon. The sharper edge makes ALL the difference.
Then put a little oil in the squash and brush it over the exposed surfaces.
Then turn the squash over on a foil-covered baking sheet. Seriously, use the foil. Don’t skimp.
Bake it for 40 minutes. This is great because you can cut and throw it in the oven and then…make the rest of your dinner. Or sit down.
When it’s done, flip it over, put a half tablespoon of butter in each half, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can scoop the flesh of the squash out with a fork, mixing it with the butter as you do. So tasty!
When I ordered this Knit Picks Hawthorne during the Big Sale in 2014, I knew that it was destined for Gavin. Seeing this hat, the Blue Star Beanie, in the right weight, for the right variegation of yarn, just sitting in my ravelry library was all I needed to finish my planning.
Knitting it though, was a test of will. I asked Gavin if he would like a longer brim so he could fold it up, and of course he said yes. Plus it’s 3×3 rib, which I meant that it wasn’t as natural to me as 2×2 rib and required more focus during the most boring slog. I didn’t like the increase round to ready for the cable pattern and I missed the (fairly hidden) direction to shift the start of the round by one stitch so I wasn’t happy with the way the stitch pattern was lining up with the ribbing. And I always find knitting cables tedious even though the finished pieces are some of my favorites.
If I were to knit it again, there are a lot of changes I would make. I’d knit the ribbing as the full number of stitches for the hat, but on smaller needles, and keep my modification of knitting a longer brim for folding. Then I’d increase my needle size instead of increasing the number of stitches. And I’d make sure that I lined everything up.
BUT. The hat is nice.
It’s a nice change of pace from grey hats and I think the light weight will be nice for Gavin to wear this spring. When you fold up the brim, you can’t tell that the stitches don’t line up properly. Plus that’s a detail only I (or maybe another knitter) would notice.
So: the hat is nice. Knitting it wasn’t. It’s done, and I’m happy.
I know from personal experience and from listening to strangers that dressing a tall, skinny guy is one of life’s many challenges. My husband and brother are both quite tall (6’4″+) and very slim (~165-170 pounds) and finding clothes that fit them is something that keeps my mom and me busy. My husband and I aren’t very into style, but we do want him to at least have clothes that fit. Here are some of our favorite items.
Eddie Bauer Slim Fit Tall Polos
I can’t find polos for my husband (his daily uniform) that are both a slim fit and available in tall sizes (especially a medium tall) anywhere else. They sometimes don’t have these (like right now), which regularly terrifies me that they are going to discontinue them, but so far they’ve always come back. If you see a color you like, buy it right away because the good colors seem to go quickly. Gavin isn’t much for t-shirts, but their tall, slim-fit long-sleeve t-shirts do actually fit, if you’re looking for that sort of thing.
Land’s End Straight Fit Jeans & Tailored Fit Chinos
These jeans are great because they come in both even and odd sizes all the way down to a 30″ waist. You can then choose the inseam yourself by the quarter inch, up to a 36″ length. We also buy dress pants from Land’s End for all the same reasons. I like the no-iron, plain-front, tailored-fit chinos. If you need shorts, they also have nice chino shorts in longer lengths.
Land’s End Dress Shirts
Gavin’s been wearing these dress shirts since his college days but I’ve welcomed their tailored fit line. I wish the slim fit ones came in tall, but they don’t, so we make do with the tailored fit. Gavin and my brother both wear the same size, which is 15.5 x 36, usually the smallest you can get in tall sizes, so if you need something slimmer or longer, you’re out of luck here. Their “casual” tailored-fit button-front shirts in a medium tall also look great.
JC Penney Stafford Big & Tall Undershirts
This is the only time big & tall sizes have ever been useful to me, but these undershirts go all the way down to a medium tall. These are amazing. I bought some for Gavin over a year ago on the recommendation of the internet and he was skeptical they’d be better than his generic size large undershirts. After a week he requested that we replace all of the old ones with these. These are also a dream to wash and fold and they haven’t stretched out or gotten misshapen in 16 months of wear.
Nordstrom Rack Clearance Rack
I don’t know if it’s because slim fit seems to be growing in popularity, but every time my mom and I go there to look for dress shirts, we always find tons of shirts in the right size. Sometimes there are benefits to being on the edge!
During college I worked at Potbelly for three years. For every shift I worked, I got a free meal, which was awesome as a college student. I ate a lot of sandwiches and learned some sandwich-making tricks that are actually useful now that I don’t eat free sandwiches four days a week.
These Italian subs are based on an idea from Good Cheap Eats, one of my favorite cookbooks. Their mayonnaise mixed with herbs and spices has sold Gavin on the idea of condiments on sandwiches. I needed no selling — condiments are my favorite part.
- 4 sub rolls
- 6 slices provolone cheese
- 8 slices salami
- 6 ounces deli-sliced ham
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 small clove garlic, grated on a microplane
- 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon dried basil
- salt and pepper
- sandwich vegetables, optional
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Split the sub rolls and put them on a broiler pan or cookie sheet.
Top with the ham and salami, then the cheese. I always cut and arrange my cheese like this as a holdover from my sandwich-making days.
Cook the sandwiches until the bread is toasty, meat is hot, and cheese is melty, about five minutes. If you’d like, broil the sandwiches for a few minutes to get the cheese bubbly.
While the sandwiches cook, make the Italian mayonnaise. Mix the mayonnaise, grated garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.
Top the sandwiches with the mayonnaise and any other desired toppings, like lettuce, tomato, or onion. I think some giardiniera would be tasty on these!
Factotum of Arts is hosting a color series and this month it’s all about yellow. Michelle posted a challenge to create a nine print mosaic featuring yellow and I knew this would be a great growth exercise for me since I’m new to quilting.
I actually made a few palettes. The first I made without a real plan, just browsing yellow fabrics and choosing what I liked. I would up with a mustard, grey, and pinks palette.
- Robert Kaufman 2. Skinny laMinx 3. Emma Jean Jansen 4. Jill McDonald 5. Jan Avellana 6. Kathy Hall 7. Katarina Roccella 8. Hawthorne Threads 9. Carolyn Friedlander
The next one I went into with a color scheme from an inspiration page that I had pinned from Design Seeds to my color inspiration board about a year ago. I’m all about mint and orange together, so this was something I loved. I choose some lighter yellows to go with the tangerine, aqua, and grey.
- Dear Stella 2. Riley Blake 3. Whistler Studios 4. Dear Stella 5. Joel Dewberry 6. Hawthorne Threads 7. Karen Lewis 8. Karen Lewis 9. Lisa Tilse
The next palette I made was based on one of my favorite prints from the Lizzy House Natural History bundle I just got, Butterfly Box. I chose varying shades of mustard, as well as some peach, red, and blues.
- Joel Dewberry 2. Cotton and Steel 3. Riley Blake 4. Leah Duncan 5. Lizzy House 6. Carolyn Friedlander 7. Leah Duncan 8. Lizzy House 9. Rashida Coleman Hale
Looking at this palette, it’s actually very similar to another inspiration pin I had on my board! This is my favorite of the palettes I created.
And lastly, I saw this center Ed Emberley print while I was browsing yellows and knew I wanted to make a color palette around it. I picked up the various yellows from the lions’ manes as well as the orange from the tigers and green from their eyes. I love the various shades of yellow with this print, but am not sure about how I incorporated the orange and green. I think they may have too much white when compared with the other prints.
- Alison Glass 2. Dear Stella 3. Cotton and Steel 4. Art Gallery Fabrics 5. Ed Emberley 6. Karen Lewis 7. Michael Miller 8. Ampersand Design Studio 9. Robert Kaufman
Go check out the other colors at Factotum of Arts.
I bought my first Massdrop (affiliate link) a couple of weeks ago! I find it hilarious that it currently caters to both nerdy men and quilters, although they are adding more categories all the time so there’s probably something for everyone. The general idea is that they negotiate a lower price with the manufacturer in exchange for selling a large quantity. You agree to make a purchase during a limited window and as others sign up too, the price drops lower and lower.
I sprung for this Natural History by Lizzy House fat quarter bundle because what is better than beautiful, nerdy fabrics? The colors are rich and the prints are detailed without being ugly. I especially love the various colors of Hall of Gems and Butterfly Box.
I got two new cookbooks for Christmas, both from Cook’s Country. They’re a part of the same organization as my beloved America’s Test Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated. We’ve been trying some new recipes and these pancakes have earned a permanent spot in our weekend breakfast rotation despite their fussiness.
For Valentine’s day I tried to make our half batch heart-shaped, but they are equally good any day.
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 eggs, separated
- 2 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- vegetable oil, for cooking
- maple syrup, for serving
- Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
- Mix together buttermilk, sour cream, egg yolks, and butter.
- Use a mixer to beat the egg whites to soft peaks.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined. There should still be flour lumps and streaks.
- Use a spatula to fold the egg whites in until just combined.
- Heat the oil in a skillet or on a griddle over medium-low heat. Spoon the batter into the pan, about 2 tablespoons per pancake.
- Cook pancakes until browned, 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook 2-3 minutes more.
After making it a third of the way through the cable chart and realizing I had made a really visible mistake, this hat went into time-out for a little while. Gavin frogged it for me (isn’t he nice?) back to the ribbing and I started again. being more careful about which side of the hat my working yarn was on! The rest of the hat was completed without a hitch.
The decreases look a little funky when the hat is flat, but it looks fine on so all is well.
I have to say that Knitpicks line of Swish yarns is one of my favorites. All of my projects in it (like the mitts for my grandpa, my red and grey Winkel-Winken hat, and more!) seem so delightfully squishy and the fact that it’s machine washable and soft makes it great for gift knitting.
Here’s to many more grey hats in the future!
I can finally share all of my Christmas knitting with you! I had to keep things secret for so long.
First, I knit my granddad two pairs of fingerless mitts. You saw the first pair as a WIP. He was always wearing work gloves in the house, so I thought these might still help him keep warm but have more functionality. I went stash-diving for some neutral colors in a superwash yarn and found Knitpicks Swish DK in Persimmon Heather, Lemongrass Heather, and Grain Heather.
The orange and yellow ones are Paddle from tincanknits. They have a gloriously long cuff, which would make them great for wearing with a coat. No problems with the mitten-coat gap here! I knit these in a size large, but entirely on size 3 DPNs to get a sturdier fabric.
The green and yellow ones are Bird’s Eye Mittens from the book Knitting for Him. I accidentally knit two right mittens, but honestly couldn’t tell a difference so I didn’t frog. I knit them in the round because seaming is the worst.
Next, I knit my aunt (for her December birthday, technically) a hat and fingerless mitts set – the Kilkenny Tam and Kilkenny Mitts. We’re all about being Irish, so anything cabled is a good bet. My mom helped me pick the pattern and advised me to leave the pompom off the top. I used some Wool of the Andes Worsted Weight in Tidepool Heather.
While I am happy with the finished products, I wasn’t in love with the mechanics of either pattern, especially the mitts. I would not recommend that they be your first pair!
Finally, I knit my mom a Selbu Modern. I tricked her into picking the pattern by asking her for advice on what I should knit for my aunt. I’m not sure I actually fooled her (we’re both pretty Sherlock-y) but the finished product is so lovely I don’t think it matters. For this I used Knitpicks Palette in Tidepool Heather and Cream. I logged a lot of time watching Murdoch Mysteries on Netflix while knitting this since the stranded colorwork took a long time to get situated for perfect tension, meaning it wasn’t worth picking up in spare moments, only for marathons.
Happy New Year to you and your family and I hope you’re still enjoying the Christmas season!