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Archive for September, 2011

Speaking Tonight: Food Limitations & Baking

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Tonight I am delighted to be speaking to the Michigan Capital Celiac/DH Support Group. This group is for folks who live a totally gluten-free lifestyle for their health.

As regular readers know, I learned to bake with limited ingredients because of my own long list of food allergies and sensitivities. However, when I began to share my recipes, I realized that Celiacs and Vegans could benefit from my food as well. The Celiac community has been very interested in my work.

A lot of Gluten-Free foods which can be purchased in stores, are less than satisfying. Let’s face it, anything that needs a long shelf life will need a few compromises. There is a lot of xanthan gum (made from fermented corn, something I can’t tolerate) to hold things together.

I bake with pure food ingredients, no gums. When I need stickiness I use sticky rice flour, flax seed meal or chia seeds, all foods which come from nature.

I’ll be talking about my baking experiments… my recipes, failures and successes. I’m bringing Habibi Brownies with me. Perhaps readers in Lansing will be interested, or know someone who is. The meeting is open to the public. Please help me pass the word.


Michigan Capital Celiac/DH Support Group meeting
Community of Christ Building
1514 W. Miller Rd, Lansing (between Cedar and MLK)

Social time 6:30-7:00, meeting 7pm.

I would LOVE to see you.


About my cookbook, if you can’t make it-

I create delicious recipes which fit the following parameters:

No Corn
No Dairy
No Egg
No Peanuts
No Potato
No Soy
No Tree Nuts
No Wheat
No Xanthan Gum
No Yeast

I also have a free recipe blog archive. Most but not all of those recipes are gluten free, read ingredients carefully.

A Learning Curve

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Years ago, I bought myself a treat. It was a small drawing pad which plugged into my computer. It was translucent turquoise (the color of the original iMac, so I’ll bet this was somewhere around 1998).

For graphic computer geeks, it’s a Graphire by Wacom, I think it’s 4×5″ in drawing surface size. Definitely for leisure users, maybe for photo retouching.

“Real” graphic designers, those who make billboards, posters, brochures and book designs every day, use large versions of this type of pad. I do a lot of web photos (PhotoShop) and I dabble in InDesign to make patterns and my cookbooks. However I’ve never mastered this type of input device.

I do all of my “mouse” work with the glidepad / touchpad which is built into my laptop. Everything. It is most comfortable for me, and I don’t twist/hurt my wrist with that sort of mouse.

As far as drawing on a computer pad, I am not yet comfortable drawing even on paper. I’m a 3D artist for the most part. My initial experience with this gizmo more than 10 years ago, was that I could not get comfy with it. Even using the mouse which comes with it (rather than the pen device) felt clumsy. I gave it up.

I’ve had a Windows 98, XP, Vista and now Windows7 laptop since I got the gizmo. The other day I decided to pull it back out.

Luck was on my side. It plugged in to my Windows 7 laptop, and it worked immediately. My hands were wobbly and unsure. But don’t we need to learn, to push ourselves past comfort zones? Don’t we need to try things longer than a few minutes before we make decisions?

When using the unfamiliar tool was too difficult to use for my work task at hand, I finished that task and tried again without expectations. And what you see pictured above is the result.

As I was typing this note to you, it seemed maybe a good idea to try it again. One can only get good at something by trying over and over again, right? So I decided to draw something familiar to me.

The little cartoon guy I “invented” in about 1970, when I was in middle school. I did comic strips for the middle school newspaper at the time. This is the one character who has stayed with me this long. When my first Godchildren were toddlers, I put this motif on clothing I sewed for them.

It’s getting less like patting my head and rubbing my tummy at the same time. It’s still slow, methodical and clumsy. Yet, I’m proud I’m trying something that was not easy at the first try. Adults don’t tolerate such feelings very often.

And who knows? Maybe getting more comfy with a pen-like device will help me feel more comfy with a real pen drawing on real paper? If I am lucky, it will.

If you use a gizmo like this, do you have any hints for me?

What’s hard for you… something you might really want to do, in time?

Joy in Multiple Colors!

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Friend Tony came by about a week ago and showed me this wonderful scarf he made (he works all year on his holiday gifts, I think this will be one):

I took this photo as the sun was setting, and you just can’t see the magnificent play between colors as well here as in wool. Incredible, it is.

You know I have studied and celebrated color for my entire life. In fact, I believe that colors are most fascinating and wonderful when they have at least one “buddy” to view them against. For example, baby pink and baby blue have one very soft and lovely look together… but baby pink and hot pink have a vibrancy and energy when paired, and baby pink and brown have been a sophisticated favorite in recent years.

This scarf and others of this nature, using two slowly-color-changing yarns, can be entrancing to knit. Watching the changing combinations keeps knitters going when a solid-colored project would have lost its appeal.

I remember once knitting a sock fom Koigu handpainted merino KPPPM, mostly greens with some purple and some hot yellow-green in there for accent. I chose to only knit it in full daylight, because it was so magnificent. Every stitch had different colors near each other. In fact, I would find myself exclaiming out loud (to an empty room) how beautiful it was.

The sock is pictured above/left. It’s sock #31 in my LynnH SockTour if you want to go peek at other socks I knit that year.

Tony’s scarf is from the “Knit Noro” book I just bought on the Mid-Mitten Sock Hop last weekend. Lindsay of Yarn Garden had knit a vest from that book which was so great I chose to put it on my short list of planned projects.

It’s called the Sideways-Striped vest, and is double breasted with a low V in front. This is a good style on my short-waisted self. It’s in Garter fabric, knit so that the stripes are vertical. I think multicolored yarns blend together well in garter. I also enjoy knitting without purls, so it was perfect. There were 8 skeins of Kureyon in color 40 (blues/greens/purples with a hint of orange – go figure). It calls for 4 balls if I knit it as written. I plan to make it longer, more of a tunic than a vest.

Given that I had the yarn for the project ready to go, and I could try on the sample to be sure it was flattering, the book purchase was a no-brainer. The Road-Tested Legwarmer photo shown at right is knit in the yarn/color I plan to use for the vest.

For those interested, Lindsay posted a blog entry about her process for the knitting of her Sideways-Striped vest. You can see a few photos there of the vest design. It’s here: Now for Interesting Details

And maybe I can knit my leftovers into a scarf like Tony’s? Maybe. I have more Kureyon than I need in the blues, and a few skeins of pinks/purples as well. They contrast well. We’ll see what happens.

Have you ever knit with changing colors like this? Do you tend to notice colors more  readily when they are in particular combinations?

Teensy Beensy Socks

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Lately I’ve had some bigger projects to knit. However, one was not for public view yet. Another is getting too large to schlep around.

No problem. Since I got back from Sock Summit, I’ve been somewhat entranced by knitting teensy-beensy socks. I challenged myself to figure out the smallest stitch count I could work out, which would still look like a sock when finished. These have a cast on of 8 stitches and are knit on either size 0 or 1 US (2-2.25mm) double-pointed needles.

They are addictive in a very good way. And look at how the different yarns work up differently. It’s quite entrancing to see them shape themselves on my little needles. Much fun.

I’m planning to make at least one necklace (you can see the idea above). I also want to make some earrings. They might be good as holiday ornaments, pins, even an embellishment on a gift tag. These are as close to instant gratification as any knitting I’ve found yet.

I made 3 more of them today (not pictured). Yes, I’m obsessed. I’ve decided that this sort of obsession is a good thing. You can’t buy passion, right?

For locals: I’ll be teaching the Teensy Beensy Socks class at Rae’s Yarn Boutique (Lansing, Michigan) on Thursday, October 13, 6-8pm. I’ll also be teaching them there again on Saturday, December 10 at 2:30pm, a perfect last-minute holiday class. You should have some knowledge of socknitting. The class is 2 hours. You probably will finish at least one socklet. FUN!!!

Still Life with Zebra

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Aah, life sometimes presents us with art. My camera was on, and sitting on the kitchen table. This was the view.

I pushed the button while it was still sitting in that spot. Love the result!

I love inadvertent art moments. And I do love this goofy stuffed zebra bean bag.

May you find a glimpse of beauty in your ordinary day.

Lansing’s Turner-Dodge Bubbler

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Friend Cynthia and I walked together last week, not long aftee I posted about Portland, Oregon’s “Benson Bubbler” water fountains. When we passed by the Turner-Dodge House, I spied this water fountain.

I’ve seen this many, many times before. This time, it had more meaning. The Turner-Dodge mansion dates back to the 1800’s, very old for this part of the country. I don’t know the age of the fountain, though.

At this point you can see there is a chrome push button to activate the water flow. Surely at one time it had a brass handle or knob of the sort which would be turned to activate. Other than that, it seems in great condition, perhaps original?

The mansion was a school when I was a child. It has gone through much renovation. Who knows if this was even originally on this property… but it sure is a delight, don’t you agree?

Purple House Photo from Snowbird

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Snowbird is a long-time, loyal reader here. She writes:

I could not resist sending you this purple house in Navarre Beach, Florida.

My husband and I took a road trip to Florida… and went to Santa Rosa Island just South of Pensacola, Florida. On the far East end is Navarre Beach and this beautiful house.

Please add this to your collection of purple houses.

Thank you for your contribution, Snowbird. You are appreciated.

Koigu Abundance: What would you do?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

I finished knitting a deadline project (photos when it’s OK with the publisher) and then dug through my sockyarn. Lo and behold… I found this (click to see detail):

This is ten full, unwound skeins of Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino (KPPPM). PLUS at least five half-skeins. It’s total, incredible abundance.

Koigu is a wonder of hand painted yarn. Some of these skeins have perhaps a dozen or more colors in the skein, and none of them look “muddy” from it. Koigu is literally hand painted by a Mother/Daughter team in Canada. It’s art, just one skein is enough to make me smile.

I’ve been collecting this yarn since 2001. At least a few of the skeins are gifts (thanks to my brother Eric and my Sis-in-Love Diana/Otterwise). Right now I’m not sure if I know any shops within driving distance which carry it. None are in the Mid-Mitten group of yarn shops.

It gives me endless pleasure, arranging the skeins in different orders of color. I can pick only those with some turquoise/blue in them. Then I make a rainbow as best I can. Then I decide that green is my focus.

You know, when fairy-Goddaughter Isabel was about 3-4 years old, she delighted in small items, either buttons or these hearts I knit for her 4th birthday.

She would sort by size and by color. She would stack them, then put them in lines and circles on a table. She would put them one by one into my hands and then have me let go and dump them on the table to do it again. I think this yarn is my 52 year old version of Isabel’s buttons!

It has been 10 years of collecting. I did make 4 pairs of socks from this type of yarn early on. (photo at Left is my Goddaughter Sara as a young teen with her Koigu socks).

However, since this yarn is 100% merino, it is actually not very long-wearing in a sock. (I might consider a sock with a solid-colored wool/nylon foot and a Koigu cuff…) However, it sort of begs to be something bigger… something where I can use at least three of the colorways together.

I don’t wear triangular shawls, so that’s out. If I did… Koigu has a shawl pattern called Charlotte’s Web (click for photos) which is popular.

I might consider a stole. I think maybe I’d like a diagonal knit one such as Clapotis (with random striping from one color to the next). Or who knows, maybe one knit in a huge tube and then cut and raveled, like Kristin Nicholas’ Over-the-Top Shawl (the one I’m supposedly already knitting) or the Colourflow Wrap by Christa Giles.

Or a swing top, perhaps? The Ophelia Tunic sweater by Lucy Neatby is designed for handpainted fingering/sockweight yarn. It would be fun and easy to randomly stripe one color into the next on that one, I think.

There is a lovely crochet blanket using this yarn in solids, called Babette (click for photos). Crochet, though, uses up so much yarn! And honestly, I think I’d rather wear this luxury than put it on a couch.

I’m soliciting ideas from those who wish to contribute. If you were me, what would you knit? If it were your yarn rather than mine, what would you make?

Creativity Anywhere – the Grocery

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

The premise which started this ColorJoy blog, is that many of us are creative, perhaps even artists. However, often we don’t acknowledge that artfulness.

I did not call myself an artist until I was in my 30’s, although I worked in 3D most of my life. I don’t draw or paint, so I disregarded my talents.

Soup can be art, gardens surely can be, as can the creation of a space where a group of people feel comfortable and welcome.  I just love finding creative expressions as I proceed in normal days.

A few weeks back, I took a friend, who is without a car, to the grocery store. Someone in the meat department made a temporary sculpture from their homemade sausage. The olives for eyes really make this work.

I’m not much of a meat fan… haven’t had pork in over a decade. However, the “bloom where you are planted” spark grabbed my attention. I am sure I’m not the only one who smiled when they saw this!


Portland’s Benson Bubblers and Bikes

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Portland, Oregon has some unique features I haven’t seen in other cities. It appears to be a rather liveable place, and very friendly.

It appears a place open to artful living. Total strangers tell me how much they enjoy the bright colors of my clothing, for example. This happens rather frequently in Portland (both visits) and incredibly rarely in Lansing, Michigan (where I live).

One great feature is bicycle hooks inside public transit trains. Pedal your bike to the subway stop… roll the bike into the train, lift it up onto the hooks provided. Ride to your destination stop, take bike down, pedal away. Very cool.

Then again, I’m just in love with public transit trains. Lansing has a bus system with courteous drivers and on-time stops… and bike racks on the front of many buses. I may be just in love with the big city, but I’ve not seen the hooks in other cities’ train systems.

In the above photo, two bicycles are shown, one is in the background (look under the seated person). In this case, the riders had room enough to disregard the hooks.

It is a very bicycle-friendly city, all over. When I arrived at the airport, I noticed first the number of bicycle racks at the airport, along with a bicycle-repair rack (and a sign that one could borrow bike-repair tools inside the building).

Benson Bubblers

Also, Portland has some storied water drinking fountains. Here are a few photos of a four-bowl water fountain, both of which I took from inside a transit train while at a stop.  First a solo person walking past:

Then, a family really using the fountain well:

I loved finding these drinking fountains in Portland last time I visited. I was told by someone that they were put in around the time of Prohibition. I decided to look into the details.

Apparently a lumber businessman, Simon Benson, did not want his workers to frequent saloons in town. He donated a hefty sum of money to the city in 1912, to install 20 drinking fountains throughout the Portland downtown district.

According to this article, there are now 52 of the four-bowl Benson Bubblers in Portland. There are also single-bowl fountains but those were just put in by the city, not by Mr. Benson.

The first time I saw one of these fountains, it was a bit out of the blue and I was delighted. I was just walking to the subway through a neighborhood, and there it was on a corner.

It’s a lot like having a beautiful sculpture, but one which has a function, in the middle of where people actually live. I love it!