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Archive for March, 2010

Easy No-Wheat/GF Breakfast

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

I know that my readers pay attention to my recipes here. This week I got news that one more friend is living totally gluten free now, and she needed advice on what to eat.

She found several recipes for baked goods and other treats, in my “Recipes” archive (scroll down, link in right-hand side column down a ways with other categories). I had taken photos for this post about a month ago and never wrote the text to go with it. Today is the day, thanks to my friend’s push.

So many foods one can buy pre-made in a store, do not work for me. I can not have corn, and I go very easy on potato and wheat.

I’m not totally gluten-free, but I bake as if I am. Many gluten-free products in the store have corn and often potato, plus xanthan gum for texture. Those do not work for me. I am pretty stuck, unless I bake from scratch.

However, one product I can buy ready to go, is brown rice Mochi. I can turn on the oven to preheat while I assemble clothing to wear for the day, pop it in the oven while I start to get ready, and it is ready before I’m fully prepared to go out. No muss, little fuss, and the chewy/crunchy texture really satisfies me.

(I crave chewy foods often. I can not have most candies, dried fruit, mozzarella cheese or bread. Thank goodness for mochi and huge “bubble tea” tapioca, which both satisfy that texture craving for me.)

In the morning, I love this with Lingonberry preserves from Sweden. For lunch or dinner, we sometimes eat this as someone else might eat rolls or crackers, often with soup.

The full package contains 16 grams of whole-grain protein. Breakfast for me is a half package. I plan to eat 45 grams of protein a day, so this is a decent start, with no fuss. Consider adding peanut butter, a boiled egg or a glass of milk, and you have much more fuel than many, with which to start your day.

How to Bake Mochi Squares a la LynnH

(For the record, the word “Mochi” is used for many things. It is essentially a sticky rice, used in many ways in several Asian traditions. This sort freezes well. I’ve been known to buy a case of 12.)

  • Buy Grainassance Mochi. Plain brown rice is “my” flavor. There is also a cinnamon/raisin one which is wonderful for breakfast.
    The only place in Greater Lansing to get plain brown rice Mochi in a cooler, is the East Lansing Food Co-Op/ELFCO. Try to buy it locally when possible, many healthy-food stores will allow you to special order if you get a full box (12 packets).

mochiscored450(For the record, there is a white rice version I have found in the freezer section of large Asian markets. That is their standard; I’m talking about organic gluten-free heaven rather than tradition.)

  • Preheat your oven to 450F. Really, truly preheat until it is fully hot. The texture is not as good without it.
  • Score the plastic pouch inside the package, and divide in half. Half a package is a filling breakfast for me, or good to share between two with soup for lunch.


  • Cut that half packet into 12 approximately-equal pieces. It is hard to cut, be careful not to slip with your knife. You can just score the top surface of the block of rice, and then break pieces apart with your hands.
  • (If you cut the whole thing into 24 pieces, you can cram them on a large sheet cake pan/jelly roll pan with no room to spare.)


  • Put the squares in nonstick muffin tins or on a baking sheet.
  • (Do NOT use oil or baking spray, if you want to avoid setting off a smoke detector. You could use baking parchment, but it would be overkill.)


  • Bake for about 9-10 minutes. Typically, the outside crisps up first, then the insides get hot and steamy and pop out of the side. It reminds me of a popover, a bit. I like mochi better.
  • Remove from oven, remove from baking pan as quickly as you can (it sticks when it cools).
  • Cool enough that you do not burn yourself on boiling rice.


  • Eat: plain, with butter, honey or jam as you prefer.
  • Make yummy noises.

Notice Good Things: Gray Day, Colorful Dusk

Monday, March 29th, 2010

We have had several gray days here lately. There probably is some reason that at night, we sometimes have clear skies enough to see an amazing clear moon. Sunday night, the moon was so bright that I had to move my pillow. The moon made it hard to sleep.

So Sunday all day was gray. Sunday dusk, we had this amazing sunset:


Notice that the full cloudcover of the day lifted. The sunset was just amazing.

This is literally one block behind my house, in my city neighborhood 30 blocks from the Capitol building (I aimed at the sky, but I cut out a road, a car, and a lot of houses just under the bottom edge of this photo). When the sky went dark, the moon came out so bright there were moon shadows.

Then Monday came. More gray day. And then the moon was clear to see in the night sky again. How odd. Maybe the gray was not clouds? Maybe it was the color of the sky? I can not believe that but maybe there is something I missed.

I say… grab the beautiful moments. Really notice that pink sky while it lasts. Life is in the little things, as I have said here before.

Finished Bear!

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

TeddyForSchulersI am delighted to say that I have finished the first complete bear from my new design. My pattern does not yet have a name. I had one I really liked but it may not be unique enough. Knitting proceeds without a name.

Lansing Comfort Bear Project Event:
Schuler Books
Rae’s Yarn Boutique
ColorJoy by LynnH
Berroco Yarn Company

The Berroco yarn company is donating yarn for our event at Schuler Books Eastwood. You can read about the project/event on the Schulerbooks site. We start on Tuesday, 04/06/2010 – 7:00pm.

The kits include a pattern donated by me, yarn from Berroco and Rae’s Yarn Boutique, needles from Rae’s. There will be free kits to the first 50 people who arrive. Those who come after that, will get a free pattern but will need to bring US size 4, 5 or 6 needles and washable yarn in Worsted or Aran (slightly thicker) yarn. You only need about 50gm, a small ball, of yarn, to make a bear to my specifications.

My Teaching-Friendly Bear Pattern

On April 6, I will have 2 hours and a crowd, within which I will need to teach folks to make this bear. It will be a breeze for experienced knitters, though not too boring because you repeat nothing longer than 12 relatively short rows.

I made the entire bear with only five “stitch instructions:” Cast on, knit, knit 2 together (decrease), Knit in front and back (increase), and bind off. There is simple shaping. The shaping happens in very specific, repeatable ways which I designed for easy learning/doing.

The instructions we will hand out will include not only the pattern, but how to do those five instructions (some with photos) and photos of sewing the garter stitch edges together.

I will do demos of all five knitting actions, and also demo the sewing. This is the simplest of sewing, and with a bit of visual assistance from me it should go very smoothly.

The Event Itself and the Free Kits

The yarn coming from Berroco is a new one, which I really enjoyed using. It’s called Weekend… a cotton/acrylic blend which endures endless ripping and reknitting, and is washable.

teddyfaceWe are not including any supplies for embroidering the face. I used sockyarn for the face, which I also used in the optional tie. (It is sewn onto the bear securely, for those who always remind me of child safety.)

I am rather pleased with this first bear. I did make part of a bear as a prototype before starting this one.

Tuesday night I received one skein of Weekend yarn from Rae. I then made this start to finish, including ripping and writing and rewriting the pattern, from Tuesday night to Saturday night.

I was totally focused on finishing the bear, for some reason. Obsessively. As in, skipping meals and not sleeping until 3am.

I’m happy with the embroidery of the face. Rather than trying to sew over the bumps and pretend they are not there, I used them as anchors for my stitches. I guess that is a little like needlepoint or cross-stitch. It worked. Of course, other faces (or none at all) will also be comforting to children in distress.

More Bears

I am now working with significantly fatter yarn (rated at 2.5 st/inch rather than the 4.5st/inch specified for Weekend). The new bear is so dense (on size US 6/4.25mm needles that it is hurting my wrists a bit, I need to rest a lot. However, the new one will be a much  bigger bear. I’m making this one for a special child in my own life.

Back to my knitting!

My Favorite Poem, Ever (Speaking of Spring)

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

comericacrociicloseupI am repeating a portion of a post I made back in December, 2005. That post celebrated a then-new book of poetry: “4 Against the Wall” by Zachary Chartkoff, Sam Mills, Robert Rentschler, and Ruelaine Stokes.

The season outside as I type this is “late winter/early spring” as John Denver once put it. I think we have no snow around at this point, and there are daffodils blooming en masse as of yesterday. It is gray and wet, and chilly. It has been a while since we saw frost, but we are not done with that possibility for another month.

The Gift of Words

My friend, Ruelaine, wrote a poem years back, which can move me to tears. It is about spring, both human/emotional spring as well as the physical, seasonal spring as we are experiencing it now in my city.

When Ruelaine reads a poem, she does not stand still and use merely her voice. Every cell of her body is poised and projecting the feelings inside the words. She sometimes gestures with her hands. Her voice changes pitch and speed.

Ruelaine knows when to stop, and wait, and let silence be part of the rhythm. She is not just a reader, she is an actor in all the good meanings of that word.

Try to imagine in your mind, the slow, expressive voice of my friend. You may not know her, but slow down your cadence, imagine a low and intent voice speaking at a pace which allows full understanding… as the words flow by your ears and your heart.

This is the last half of my 2005 post referenced above. Remember, “The trees will buy new dresses…” It is spring.

My favorite poetry performer of all time is Lynne Ruelaine Stokes. She can read her own poetry, or anyone else’s (I love it when she reads Rumi), and make it take on such life that it almost has a flavor.

Here is my very favorite poem. Ever. Of any time, any writer. I can not read the poem without choking up and/or shedding a tear. I have lived the spirit of this poem, though I did not write it.

I am not the only person who has been deeply moved by this poem. Several years ago, I purchased an artpiece from Freshteh Parvizi which includes fragments of text, excerpts from this very poem.

The poem is on page 75 of the, wonderful, fabulous, incredible gem of a book. (Included here with permission.) Written by none other than my friend Lynne Ruelaine Stokes… poet, photographer, artist.

from the “book” of common prayer
wash my heart & call me clean
a hard time is over

yesterday I listened to the grass grow wild
green under the snow

& now I see the water fall
from your eyes

let it rain
let it rain down on me

forgiveness is mine/listen to your lover

the trees will buy new dresses
the birds will flower

I called it a hard time, lord
but it’s over

tea is on the table, honey in the pot
bread and butter
even the radio wants
to be my friend

that hard time, lord
it’s over

Pattern Development, Phase II

Friday, March 26th, 2010

I seem obsessed with a project I did not expect to do, a week ago. Now it is nearly done. I am amazed at how this has all progressed…


The Schuler Books charity bear event will be in about 10 days (Tuesday, April 6, Eastwood Towne Center, Lansing). I will be teaching a group of folks, with varying skills, to knit a bear for the police department to take out on calls. The bears are given to children in distress.

These events turn out people from expert knitters to not-knitters-quite-yet. I need instructions that will guide the experienced knitters on their own, and allow the beginning students to join in the fun relatively quickly.

I looked for bear patterns that might work. So many of them call for shaping that is hard to explain, or require knitting on double pointed needles, or require understanding flat stockinette (knit one side, purl the other side, know which side you are on at any given time). There were lovely bears out there, but none that seemed workable for my event.

There will be a number of free bear-knitting kits given out to the first attendees of the event. Last time we had free knitting supplies, we had 70 participants. I just had to make it work.

SO, I made my own bear pattern. The photo today is how the parts looked this afternoon, before I sewed/stuffed/embroidered it.

I spent hours last night working on the instructions for the actual knitting. Today I spent more time getting it better, and adding instructions for cast on, knit, increase, decrease, bind off.

For some reason, once I started I could not stop. Part of it is that I’ve promised a good number of people I’d work on other things. I have Study Hall students waiting for my beginner-knitter hat pattern. I have Thursday night knitters (at Rae’s Yarn Boutique) waiting for the multicolored baby hat I put together for my new niece.

And then I got going on a bear. He was quite out of order and took control!!!

Pictures of the full bear tomorrow.

April’s First Finished Project

Friday, March 26th, 2010


My friend April picked up knitting when she had a very small child. It turned out quickly, that the child wished to grab at the needles no matter if they were on a table or in Mommy’s hands. Mommy stopped knitting.

Five years later, the kiddo is in school. Mommy is missing kid. Mommy has time to herself for the first time in a long while. Mommy wants to knit again.

She found the project she started five years ago. It was actually done except for the working-in of ends. I helped her learn how to do that. I also helped her start a legwarmer project. (We are dancers, legwarmers can ease leg cramps on bad dance days.)

May I present to you, April’s first project? It’s a baby hat, knit off the cuff, one step at a time given to hear verbally by me. It helped that she lived across the street at the time. (Sigh, those were good days for me.)

The Flowers are Ready

Thursday, March 25th, 2010


firstdaffodil2010 It has been chilly here, after an amazing, warm and sunny week. Lansing had a little snow there for a day, but the flowers seem to have shrugged it off.

We have a side yard full of violets (above and below) and myrtle/ periwinkle (at right). It is a carpet of purple blooms!

And the best news? Daffodils. First a tiny Tete a Tete in full bloom (right) , then some larger ones starting to open (above).

For March, this is spectacular. I am delighted.


Good Plans sometimes Change…

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

I had plans. First, do taxes. Then, start working on a much-requested hat design (knit many times but not written in pattern form).

Well, then we got a new niece. I knit her some Chippy Socks. Then I got inspired and knit her a hat which was inspired by the socks. SO: I was going to do that hat pattern. First. Then I would do hat #1.

Um… then I ended up starting a design for something else entirely. “One can not buy passion,” right? Or that is what I’ve said for years…


At least I did the taxes…

Darn those Socks!

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

My mother is a talented woman with a sewing needle. She also is a great teacher. She taught me to embroider when I was in elementary school. She taught me how to fix a run in a sweater using a crochet hook. And she also taught me to darn socks.


This was in the mid-1960s, when you could still buy cardboard tubes of darning floss at the store. It came only in boring guy-colors as far as I remember, but it was basically several very fine threads held together flat, like a ribbon. It made for a very smooth and flat repair.

In those days I knew only one way to fix a sock. Typically, the sock had a true hole all the way through the fabric. I learned how to make a woven patch over that hole, using the flat darning floss. It did not occur to me that others might not know how to do it.

Fast-Forward to years of working in corporate America. I had to wear a skirt every day to teach computer classes. I did not want to wear synthetic nylon hose (it’s like wearing a plastic bag, if you ask me). So every time I was in a large city, I would seek out sock stores or large department stores with huge hosiery departments. I collected black or gray cotton hose to wear for my work. (Photo here is “The Sock Man” on St. Mark’s Place in NYC’s East Village.)

Sometimes I did not get to go to a city for a long while. Sometimes the hose would get holes in the feet. I could not just run down to the local mall and buy more cotton hose. I was desperate to avoid wearing 100% nylon hose. So I darned the hose using sewing thread. It was really worth the effort, given the comfort these hose gave me on the job.

Fast-Forward again. I knit my very first sock ever, in spring of 2001. I knit over 30 pair in my first year. That first year I did make 11 pairs for friends/family at Christmas, but lots of those socks were for me.

I do what they tell you not to do. I don’t wear shoes in the house, and I do not like shoe-like slippers. So I wear my socks “bare” against the floor in my home. I do have a lot of socks, so each one does not get a lot of wear each week. However, lately more of my knitting is for work samples and I can not wear those socks. My own sock drawer is one thin-fabric display.

I learned since I started knitting socks, that if you catch a sock before it is totally worn through, that you can strengthen the fabric using an embroidery technique called “duplicate stitch.” You actually sew through the path of an already-knitted yarn in the sock. It is a more stretchy and less noticeable patch underfoot. Since I discovered this, most of my sock repairs are handled this way. I try to notice the state of my socks as I wear them, so that they do not get a hole all the way through.

The first photo above today shows a sock I knit in “Magic Garden Buttons” yarn, DK weight (the yarn includes little specks of yellow, red and blue, and is great for kids’ garments and semi-thick, washable socks). It got one full hole, which I patched using pink sockyarn in a woven technique. It also had some thin yarn in another spot nearby. I strengthened that with duplicate stitch in green.

I teach darning classes quite often. One need not be a knitter to learn this skill, though it seems handknits are more worth patching than store-purchased socks. I have a fondness for patching in unmatching yarn. It shows more (though the patches fit inside my shoe) but I smile because I feel happy I know how to do this, and that I get to keep my handmade creations in use for a long time.

I have scheduled a Darn that Sock! class at Rae’s Yarn Boutique in Lansing, MI on Thursday, April 1, from 6-8pm. You can register for that class online now, at Rae’s new website: Register for Darn That Sock!

I am also waiting to hear from Threadbear Fiberarts about a weekend date for the class at their location. It will probably be on a Friday night, sometime after the class at Rae’s.

This weekend I did not have any classes to teach. I spent Saturday washing every piece of fabric which goes on our bed, and darning socks, and watching TED.com videos for inspiration. It was rather more domestic than I usually am in one day, but it is a delight to repair my “babies” that I knit and had to set aside. I got 4 pairs darned (most in more than one spot) and also fixed 2 sweaters. Score!

Spring has Sprung???

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

We just finished up a gorgeous week here in Lansing, Michigan. The sun shone day after day and it took less than a week to melt piles and piles of snow.


The nights were cold, so we did not get too wet (Sycamore Creek was over its banks, though). The days were sunny and warm. This means good maple syrup weather, and I seem to remember that last year was bad here for that. Yippee for the maple folks around this area! I love to support their work.


I showed you images of snow piles and blankets everywhere, on Sunday, March 7. I saw my first flower blooming that day in my south side yard. By 9 days later, Tuesday the 16th, I had both violets and myrtle/periwinkle groundcover blooming, and several daffodils working hard to develop buds.


Friend Cynthia and I walked Tuesday. We saw the robin shown above, early on the walk.  Later Cynthia spotted this lovely flying thing… I think it’s a moth from what I can see of its body, but it may be a butterfly. (Edited to add: Beth commented that it is a Mourning Cloak Butterfly. Thank you, Beth!) We spent a lot of time watching it sun its wings, and taking as many photos as possible. What a delight.

We also saw tiny little clouds of some sort of bug, as we crossed the river. It was as springlike a day as could be imagined, and really far too early to believe that sort of weather was here for good. Early enough to really appreciate it.


Last year the winter seemed positively mean. It did start late, but when it got going, we did not have any thaws. It kept going and going long beyond when it seemed reasonable. Yes, cold is good for the knitting business, and I benefit. However, a few breathers would be normal for Lansing. Last year we got none. This year, we got a huge one early in March. LOVE IT.

On Wednesday, I took photos of violets (above) and myrtle/periwinkle flowers (below) in my side yard. By Friday, the violets had become so prolific that you could see purple from the sidewalk, there was no need to examine the ground looking for blooms.


Wednesday I took this photo a block or two from Foster Community Center, not long before sundown. This garden is in a little protected nook on the West side of a small lot. Just LOOK at all the flowers!!!

I did not get close enough to see what sort of plant they were. I guessed crocus at first, but maybe this is a bulb I’ve not yet learned about.


Friday was amazing. It was so warm one could unzip the coat. It was sunny and gorgeous all day. However, by 7pm the sun had ducked behind thin cloudcover and there was a stiff breeze. The temperature fell almost immediately.

You know where this is heading… our warm days of rest were over for a while. Here was the view out our front door on Saturday morning:


For the record, Saturday was officially the first day of spring. And to be fair, I can not remember an April where I did not see at least a few flakes of snow flurries before snow was gone for the year.

It is not very cold, really. The temperatures are hovering not far from freezing at night, and it sounds like Sunday will get up high enough to melt the thin bits of snow we had from Saturday. Spring is truly here, but it’s doing its normal dance. Two steps forward, one step back, repeat.

I think I’m OK with that. I got a bit o’sun last week. That will last me a while!!!

A Happy Blast of Color

Friday, March 19th, 2010

I live the concept of ColorJoy. Long ago, I realized that often I can buy the black or the hot pink shirt for the same price. If color costs no more, I choose to go for the smile.

I caught a glimpse of this, one morning, out of the corner of my eye. I just had to share it with you.


It may be hard for those of you out there to believe, but I spent High School wearing navy blue. College was more varied, because the 70’s brought blue jeans and t-shirts as standard fare.

When I started working, I was big on black, gray and burgundy. I went through several years where everything I wore to work was black. I did like to wear large pins and I said it made my jewelry look “more important” when I put the jewelry on a black background. I tried hard to be sophisticated. I discovered that you can not be what you are not.

These days, I aim to be interesting and colorful. This is easier for me to attain than “sophisticated” or “hip,” and I believe it’s easier to hang on to through my full life, young or old. I hope I’m interesting if and when I make it to 100 yrs old.

I aim to pass what joy I have in my life, with others. Color makes me smile like perhaps nothing else.

My skirts show this off more than any other change in my life. Not only am I away from black and nothing else, but the solid colors are gone from my skirt wardrobe.

This year has brought a willingness to thin out my belongings. I’ve been tossing and giving away for several months now, and that means more room for what I’ve kept, in my closet. The photo above is a real-life glimpse of my skirt closet this week. Fun, huh?

Color, pattern, joy! Happy me. Happy you, too?

Real Art, from Practical Office Supplies

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Museum-Quality Art from the Basics

I found a link to a very creative blog entry, through Twitter (I think). Artworks made from office supplies such as staples, paper, paper clips and tape.

In a “previous life,” I was an office supplies purchasing agent. In my current life, I enjoy artwork of many sorts. This page delights me.

Slightly Related, by Me

I know you like photos here. The images below are two sides of the same piece of “MailArt.” I used plastic erasers and linoleum cutters to make rubber stamps, stamped with them (and one purchased stamp, that of the man on the colored side of the plate). I embellished the stamps with Sharpie markers and paint pen markers.

This sort of plate does not typically do well in the mail. It is crisp and brittle, and easily broken by machines. This one actually did make it. (I have better luck with the inexpensive white plates which flex quite well. They still require being handed directly to a Postal counter person, they don’t often survive being dropped in a mailbox.)

The distance from my home to this office was about 10 miles, but it went through two post offices (one being a mail “factory” processing center) to get there.

(Neither of the addresses on the plates are currently used by the sender/recipient.)


Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Lansing is crawling toward spring. I enjoy every small discovery.

I went for a walk less than a week ago. There was the most wonderful birdsong coming from a tree above me. I strained to see…


It was a male cardinal telling the world about his location. I could listen to that song forever!

(He was so far away that my small but lovely camera could only get this blurry photo. The tree is at least 3 stories tall. I had to try, anyway. Better than a concert, really! He’s a star in my world.)

Don’t Quit Until it’s Over

Monday, March 15th, 2010

carnationsduringI have been contemplating my strengths/weaknesses lately. It seems that the intense parts of me are both my best parts and my most handicapping parts, alternately.

I don’t quit easily. I am loyal. I can be loyal when it is no longer appropriate. I can push toward a goal even when the goal has become unwise.

These are just truths. The longer I live, the longer I understand that these statements describe two sides of the same coin.

For example, tough people can forget to ask for help. Sometimes friends want to help others (including tough folks), it makes them feel great to connect and feel useful. However, in some situations tough and solo is the only way out, no time to get help even if others are willing.

A very small version of a good way my “I don’t quit easily” side works, is illustrated here. Brian bought me flowers. I love carnations. They were very fresh when he got them, and carnations have good longevity for cut flowers anyway.

Three weeks later, they looked like the first photo here. I might have tossed the bunch, but I noticed how happy the one particular flower at bottom left was looking.

I found a small vessel that would welcome the few flowers which were still going strong. About 80% of the flowers were tossed out, as was appropriate. The other flowers lasted almost another week. We had nearly a month of carnations while the snow was still on the ground.


This time, my tendency to stick things out was a plus. Don’t you agree?