Yesterday I made a cake from scratch for the first time ever. I've never been a very good cook and the limited amount of baking I've done has always been with mixes, so this was kind of a big deal. Both of my sisters are really good cooks and I'm getting tired of being the one who brings canned food and grocery store desserts to family get-togethers.
I selected this recipe because I am a total pistachio fiend. It was challenging and fun to make. The recipe called for ground pistachios, so I bought hulled, raw ones at Whole Foods and "ground" them with a hammer since I don't have a food processor (yet). I also had to beat the batter by hand because I don't have a mixer (yet). I also zested and juiced a lemon for the first time (easy-peasy because I bought a zester).
The cake was delicious. I added extra sugar to the topping because I thought it was too lemony, but I wouldn't do that again. Other than that, it was tasty and satisfying along with a cup of after-dinner coffee.
Last summer I spent a wonderful weekend on the Mendocino Coast, one of my favorite get-away spots. I stopped in at the Mendocino Yarn Shop and ended up getting a quickie lesson on how to knit one of those ruffle scarves that have become so popular lately. It's easy and fast to knit, two of the things I look for in a knitting project.
The yarn is Katia Triana, and it looks like this when you buy it:
And it looks like this when you pull the strands apart:
The trick is to knit in to the spaces along the edge of the yarn. Here is a good YouTube tutorial. I wouldn't worry too much about a lifeline like she recommends-- mistakes blend right in to the ruffles, which is another nice thing about this pattern.
When I first learned to knit, which has been about eight years now, I made tons of baby hats. It was good practice for learning how to purl and how to sew seams. Since I had no babies in my life, I ended up donating them to Planned Parenthood and my county hospital. I had little patience for finishing knitting projects, so they ended up being teeny tiny little hats that could be completed in a day or two. I'm not sure if the folks I donated them to ever passed them on to new mothers or just shook their head and discreetly tossed them in the bin.
My skills in hat knitting have improved a bit since then-- I can spend more than a couple day knitting a hat without abandoning it. These two hats are for my co-worker, who is pregnant with twins. The pattern is a simple one that is knit flat and seamed up. While I have knit a couple hats in the round in the past, I still prefer the two-needle method. I love the little stems on top of these hats.
The yarn is Malabrigo Silky Merino, which is my new favorite. It is like soft, fluffy clouds in your hands and knits up like a dream. Each hat takes less than one skein, and there might even be enough left for a pair of matching booties.
The pattern was given to me by a friend. I tried to find a similar one online that I can link to, but to my surprise I couldn't find one. The closest I could find is here and here.
I might make some modifications to the pattern that I used and post it in a week or two.