Monday, December 30, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie..

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie has been in my extensive personal recipe database for a long, long time. And I have no idea at all where it came from. Fifteen years ago -- when I got married -- I started collecting recipes from cooking magazines, newspaper columns and backs-of-boxes, because obviously several dozen world-class cookbooks were insufficient to draw upon to feed our giddy new household. Collecting recipes, in those dim and distant pre-Internet days, consisted of ripping pages and then scanning them into WordPerfect documents, which I then proceeded to organize and format exactly as I wished, eliminating directions I would not need and paring down steps and ingredient lists to my liking. I always included the source...but the Cookie Pie is an orphan. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 
Have ready a 9-inch pie pastry shell. 
(I use frozen shells from my local gourmet store, and let them thaw while I prepare the filling. Do what you need to.)

Beat together, in this order: 
2 eggs
1 cup sugar (regular cane sugar, I've not tried brown but it might be too moist)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick, cooled a bit)

Stir in: 1/2 cup all-purpose flour until NEARLY mixed in.

Stir in: 

1 cup really good chocolate chips (Ghiradelli or whatever causes you intensest pleasure)
1 cup walnuts or pecans 
(I suppose slivered almonds or some peanuts would be OK but I've never tried that. I should try peanuts sometime. We like peanuts.)

Stir some more until flour vanishes. Pour into the pie shell.
Bake 60 minutes, until a lovely golden brown. 

Let cool a bit before cutting. 
Ideally, the top is firm and crisp and the middle is puffy and tender.

In the past, we've served this with ice cream and whipped cream. A few raspberries might be a nice touch.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Knitting up Rhinebeck 2008: The Original Stash

Handpaint Stash 

Despite the fact I've finally been digging deep into the immense yarn stash I've accumulated over the past 10 years, I seem to have forgotten to remind myself just how fast the stuff can it did in 2008.

I did not approach my first Rhinebeck, NY Sheep & Wool Festival thinking I would find bargains. I wanted the amazing artisianal stuff that would inspire me as I fingered and smooshed it and sighed over it. I happily paid the dyers and spinners what they asked and deserved, and I loved what I got.

Oh boy. I went nuts. I always went nuts at yarn sales before, buying 10-skein bags at crazy prices and thinking always in sweater quantities. But this was different. Intoxicating in different ways. So I filled up a couple of bags with yarn yarn yarn yarn YARN and then I went home and took the picture above.

Then life got busy, and though I wound a lot of the yarn into ready-to-knit balls I was a bit slow to work on them. I didn't have a lot of hat, scarf or shawl patterns lying around. I had to find one-skein projects for my wonderful new stash. (Not too hard really, as some of those skeins were BIG.) Fortunately I had just joined Ravelry a couple of months earlier, and so the world's greatest database of knitting patterns was at my fingertips. Bwa-ha-ha!

Recently, I was quite pleased to realize that most of the 2008 Rhinebeck yarn is actually used up! I still have a few skeins of navy blue lace-weight (a couple of shawls are queued for this), 8 hanks of orange and green-grey rayon blend (really still no idea), some very neon-bright purple/green/turquoise worsted that really better become a sweater someday, and a couple of random, very colorful sock yarns.

Knitting up Rhinebeck 2008: Sliver Moon Rose Garden Shawl

Sliver Moon Superwash Yarn "Orchid"

Knitting lace shawls is endlessly entertaining. I credit my visit to Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool in 2008 for starting me on my shawl odyssey. I picked up a lot of sock-weight and lace-weight yarns mostly because ooh pretty but I really did intend to stretch my knitting horizons, one skein at a time.

This very pretty orchid-purple fingering yarn from Sliver Moon Farm was completely irresistible, and so much of it for so few $$! I first envisioned a sweater. As time passed and I became addicted to shawl-knitting, I decided to use it for that instead. So 1/2 the skein became a pretty Rose Garden Shawl (free pattern, yay!) for my friend who recently completed grad school. (She hadn't completed it when I started this, but I had faith!) Even the name fit...her younger daughter's name is Rosie!

The rest of the yarn is destined for a shawl, too. Haven't quite decided which one.

Gift Shawl

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fuente del RITMO

Finding a great new wine is always a thrill! The shop nearest my house now has a refrigerated walk-in room with all the white wines in stock, and for some strange reason I always feel more adventurous picking wine from there instead of the regular shelves. Maybe it's the idea that I could drink it right away...?

Discovered a Spanish white called "Fuente del Ritmo", Centro Espanola, La Mancha, 2012. Made from a grape I never heard of, Airen. I feel kind of silly about that. My explorations of Spanish wines clearly leave something to be desired, well beyond Tempranillo and Albarino!

It turned out the wine was absolutely perfect for a quick throw-together meal of green veggies, roasted potatoes and smoked trout fillets with capers. Another bottle went great with sashimi.

Cool, refreshing, semi-dry, full-bodied. The overwhelming flavors were tropical fruit -- lychee, pineapple -- with a strong peach element. Reminded me a bit of peach schnapps or a great Moscato! Nice acid on the back of the tongue too, which is why it was sooooo good with fish.

Imma buy MORE.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Clowesetum Raymond Lerner

It seems hard to believe I've been growing orchids under lights alone for 20 years now. That is to say, for twice as long as I grew orchids on windowsills. And I still have so much to learn. Changing over from T-12 to T-8 light fixtures is going slowly, but excellent results so far. More light for the same $$, and the plants really seem to enjoy that wider-spectrum boost.

I picked up this Clowesetum Raymond Lerner not long after I was forced into all-lights growing. I absolutely love Catasetums, and desperately wanted to try growing one even though bringing a large deciduous plant into a limited space setup was, frankly, crazy. I knew Catasetum pileatum could get quite large, but hoped the Clowesia russeliana parent would keep the plant size down. I totally lucked out...not long after I got mine, I saw one at an orchid show that was ENORMOUS, with two really long spikes full of flowers that looked very much like the Clowesia. But my plant stayed pretty compact.

For 10 years, it bloomed with a couple of flowers every 2 years. It piddled along, growing but not really thriving. Repotting definitely helped. Feeding helped. But then the next 10 years were sad. Even while other orchids were making me happy, the CRL was not happy. It only bloomed three times, and one time the spike blasted. I was not happy. The back bulbs shriveled, as they will in this genus. Repotting time again.

And a big rethink of the rest period. Warmer and brighter, as Fred Clarke and other Catasetum geniuses say, is better. So after the leaves died, I stuck the plant, still in only a 6" pot, on the bottom shelf of my lights off to the side a bit, instead of on the Windowsill of Exile and Doom. Watered it every 7-10 days to keep it alive, as the winter humidity is root-puckeringly bad. Watched

This spring, the second year in the "new" mix, I saw nice upright aerial "basket" roots forming, on a really nice fat new bulb growth. Yay! I decided to keep it where it was, as the leaves seemed quite OK from the amount of light they were getting -- near the center of the T-12s, but a couple of inches away to the side.

I was being really good about feeding my plants this spring. And I spritzed everything like mad, once a week, with MegaThrive, including the Catasetum.

And then the spikes appeared. TWO of them. This happened.

Needless to say, I'm going to be really nice to this plant from now on.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Knitting up Rhinebeck 2012: Red Hypernova Shawlette

Persimmon Tree Farm yarn Piggy Toes SW

It's not easy being a yarn magpie. Well, the shopping part is easy. But then deciding what to make of each skein, or set of skeins...and figuring out where to put them in the meantime...those are problems we usually don't think about when we're doing the shopping.

I did try to be mindful, when shopping at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival 2012, of what I already have and why I have it, and therefore avoid duplication and fill in gaps with things in my current taste. Because as I've been playing with my stash over the past year, rearranging the storage bags roughly by Do These First, Do These Next, etc., I realized that a whole bunch of older yarns had fallen out of favor. Stuff I really wanted to work on last summer, suddenly not so much. Which is great, because now I just have to relocate them to a new Giveaway bag and re-prioritize everything else.(And the trouble is, all this playing with stash takes time away from actually knitting any of it. But really that's another post.)

While my absolute favorite colors remain dark turquoise, leaf green and deep purple, preferably all together in one yarn (indie dyers all over seem to agree), I'm not committed to having all my yarns be just variations or combinations of those. I like black, hot pink, orange, red and dark blue too. Even gray. Even brown, if it's delicate and toasty and warm. I think the color least represented in my stash has to be red. Several friends of mine are fiends for red, and it suits them, but putting it too close to my fair skin doesn't work all that well so I learned over the years to avoid it (despite the bright scarlet sweater dress I wore in my 20s, among other experiments). I certainly wouldn't knit a red sweater for myself.

But a shawl? In exotic shades of red ranging from chestnut to pink? Well, there it was, hanging on the wall at Persimmon Tree Farm's booth. 2 skeins of unique Piggy Toes merino sock yarn, luscious squoooshy soft 560 yards of pure awesomesauce. 2 skeins was enough for a cropped cardigan, but really one skein just cried out to become a Hypernova shawlette. The destiny of the other skein awaits, but it certainly will become some other of the couple of hundred patterns in my Ravelry queue. 

Hypernova Shawlette

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chicken with Fresh Apricot Sauce

Improvising dinner isn't all that hard, if you have a base recipe in mind and accidentally happen to have a great combination of ingredients on hand. Tonight proved that to me, again.

I had errands to do on the way home from work, that usually tire me out, but I really didn't want to resort to takeout or delivery again. So I picked up a package of bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs, figuring I'd make my favorite and very reliable Chicken in Mustard Sauce, based on a recipe from one of Jacques Pepin's books that I've been making for years and years. It's utterly foolproof. Also really best made with dark chicken, but that's a personal preference.

I happened to also buy a dozen lovely ripe apricots at the same supermarket, and by the time I got to the stove the recipe was evolved in my mind into a fruity sweet/sour sauce. Last year I discovered the pleasure of adding halved fresh apricots to the pan when roasting a chicken. Well, same difference!

So, recipe for 4 chicken thighs: begin sauteing the chicken in olive oil, seasoned with just salt and pepper, in a just-large-enough nonstick pan over medium heat. Add 1 small chopped onion to pan, and a good sprinkle of thyme. Turn chicken pieces and place over the onion bits.

When onion begins to brown, add a splash (that is, about a tablespoon) of decent sherry (NOT  nasty supermarket cooking sherry). Stir, let bubble, and cover the pan and lower the heat a bit.

After about ten minutes, add 4 or 5 small apricots -- halved, pitted, each half cut into 3-4 pieces. (Use fewer apricots if you've got big ones.) Stir. Add 1 teaspoon Palm Sugar Jaggery -- this stuff is like wet brown sugar, and is great to cook with. Stir. Turn chicken. The pan should have accumulated some juices.

Cover again, let cook another 5-10 minutes until chicken is pretty much done. Add about 1 teaspoon good balsamic vinegar, stir juices and now-dissolving apricots. Turn chicken again. Simmer a couple of minutes uncovered. Turn off heat. Let sit 5 minutes to let chicken juices settle.

I served this with sauteed potatoes and asparagus. Anything that soaks up the sauce is allowable. The fruity, tangy, tart-sweet sauce went really well with dry, fruity, non-oaky Fetzer Chardonnay.

I can hardly wait until I make this again! Like next week. Apricots will be in season awhile!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Angraecum didieri

Mini Angraecums are a peculiar addiction that has affected all too many of my friends. Surely such small plants could hardly be a problem...and then you have twenty of them, all of costly, several needing Special Conditions or at the very least a bit of coddling. In return, you may or may not get lovely fragrant white flowers in varying quantities, for varying periods of time. Sounds fair to me!

My personal forays into the Angraecoids were mostly limited to Aerangises, which have performed poorly for me. Or I let them down. Either way, I decided to give up. But lo! Last year Cal-Orchid released a large selection of Angraecum didieri, multiple growths, in spike or just blooming size. I had to have one.

I flowered it, and then nearly killed it. What the hell! Yellowed and then browned leaves, bottom to top. The crowns barely hung on. I suspected thrips and washed the plant. I doused with cinnamon. I watered, spritzed, shifted to another spot. It sulked. It did nothing at all but remain alive. I suspected I'd overwatered and cut back a bit. The mix seemed OK, so I didn't mess with that.

So naturally I got another one this spring, when opportunity arose. And...

Well, it sort of sat there for a month, which wasn't surprising, really. Tentatively, it made a leaf from one of the two growths. Extended a few root tips. Sat there some more. The two tantalizing spikes did nothing. It got watered with everything else, with both plain water and MSU fertilizer (at irregular intervals). Then I decided to finally open the bottle of MegaThrive I got late last year, and spray it all over everything, twice a week.

Buds and flowers on EVERYTHING. Well, not everything. But the newer Ang. didieri burst into bloom literally within ten days of being sprayed. One of the tantalizing spikes evolved nearly overnight. One more tantalizing spike remains...

The older plant, meanwhile, remains alive. It now clearly needs repotting, along with a couple dozen other plants, so hope springs eternal.

Knitting up VK Live 2013: Dragonfly Fibers Super Traveller

Dragonfly Fibers Super Traveler "Bad Moon Rising"

I obviously did not have enough yarn stash, so I went to Vogue Knitting Live in January 2013 to remedy that situation. Seriously, only a few months after Rhinebeck 2012, I realized my stash lacked certain things. Big bouncy fluffy yarn for warm hats, for example. I bought 2 skeins of that sort of thing at Rhinebeck -- but otherwise my stash was now almost entirely lighter weight yarns, especially the nice hand-dyed stuff.

Normally, this has never been an actual problem. Knitting with 2 strands of yarn works very well. I've done it any number of times, when a bulkier yarn was wanted for a scarf or hat. Combining 2 different yarns this way isn't exactly rocket surgery. I just didn't feel like it, this time around. My last attempt, combining 3 yarns, was very pretty but not actually successful: a bit too bulky, too stiff. Discouraging.

Insanity aside, I did manage to find a couple of skeins of lovely bulky wool. Dragonfly Fibers satisfied my urge for beret material: Super Traveler. Amazing smooshy squooshy 100% merino wonderfulness. AND THE COLORS. Bad Moon Rising (pictured above) was impossible to resist. So was Admiral Benbow:

Dragonfly Fibers "Admiral Benbow"

You see my problem, right?

So, hats. The Bad Moon Beret has become my favorite warm woolly winter hat. It's just a tad too big at the headband, so it slips a bit if I move my head fast or bend down for a few moments, but I can live with that.

Bad Moon Rising Beret

The Benbow Hat is a bit too snug, but again, I can live with that. Warm and toasty rules.

New Hat

Spring Beets & Beer Stew

Spring is taking its sweet time this year. But the New York City Greenmarkets are finally showcasing something other than potatoes and ten-month-old apples! Asparagus, beets, broccoli rabe, lettuce, scallions and herbs overflow the tables. All is well.

What to do with a gorgeous bunch of tender young beets with lovely velvety leaves?

Prep your favorite big cooking pot. Combine several meaty country-style pork ribs with chopped onions and plentiful salt, pepper, rosemary & thyme in sizzling olive oil. Add 1 bottle of beer (I had Sam Adams handy). Cover and simmer 1/2 hour. Add raw beets, peeled and cut into pleasing chunks. Cover & simmer 1 hour. Add cleaned & sliced beet greens and/or chard greens (and stalks), mix well, cover & simmer 1/2 hour. Add partially thawed frozen green fava beans (mine are imported from France, yours might come from an Asian market), simmer 15 more minutes.

Serve however you like: potatoes, rice, bulgur, bread, couscous, polenta.

If it happens that you devour all or most of the meat but have plenty of cooked greens & beets leftover, be sure to reheat them with thawed frozen or canned black-eyed peas. Seriously. Really good.

Lamb shoulder or shanks would be equally good here, too. Lamb and beets are a truly magical combination. I'll make that next.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Knitting up Rhinebeck 2009: Kid Hollow Cowl #2

Kid Hollow Farm Boucle "Brilliant Jewels"

Having happily solved one Boucle problem by creating a fluffy warm cowl/scarf with one skein of luscious hand-painted Kid Hollow Farm mohair/silk/merino blend, I was happy to solve the second Boucle problem the same way! The skein of "Brilliant Jewels" became another fluffy warm cowl/scarf, this one a gift for a friend. Small amount left over -- I miscalculated the amount needed for bind-off -- became a hat. (The other yarn there is a leftover amount of Dream In Color Classy.)

Fluffy Boucle Cowl

Stripy Hat

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Where have all the orchids gone...?

So like all orchid collections, mine has an ebb/flow thing that goes on. New plants come in. Old plants go bye-bye. Sad but true. What comes home from the orchid show in big bags quietly leaves the apartment in small bags...*sigh.*

With every new plant comes that settling-in period...and I've had my share of good surprises. I was astonished when I first began flowering certain mini-catt hybrids, having thought the 48" fluorescent tubes I use were inadequate. I was happy to get so many flowers from Cochleanthes Amazing before I rotted the poor thing by overwatering it -- and, to be fair, I just couldn't keep up with the root system.

I was lucky to go to the Deep Cut show in February 2012, and to the SEPOS/Longwood Gardens show in March 2012, and to various society meetings with vendors. My 2012 acquisitions are a mixed bag, per usual. Some were safe bets. Some were mere whims. Others are evidence of my deep stubborn streak. This list is by no means complete...

Angraecum dideri is breaking my heart again. I gave up ever trying to grow young ones after the one I got in 2011 decided to just shed all its leaves one day. My 2012 plant also started to shed leaves, but at least it had backup plans in place, in the form of 2 basal keikis. Cinnamon application and increased watering seem to have halted the crisis, for now, and new leaves are in evidence. I'll cheer louder when I also see new roots. Perhaps repotting is in order, the old mix looks kind of dire. I got a new one in January, also from Cal-Orchid, and so far this very robust one is extending its roots and showing signs of blooming from the two initiated spikes.

Oeceoclades roseovariegata hasn't done much, but it still looks really good. I'm slowly finding out more about this rather strange species. It's from Madagascar, and apparently prefers slighly arid conditions. I got it from Erich Michel, who advised high light and good drainage. I think it's mix is staying a bit too wet these days, so I am contemplating repotting it very soon.

Neofinetia falcata has grown so slowly I barely can notice the new leaves on each of the three growths. New roots? Not so much. Probably not good. Since then I've acquired two more Neofinetias -- one is a pink variety, the other a small but sturdy "common" variety -- and they seem happy enough. A few new roots are visible there.

I got Gomesa crispa  (pictured above) in October from Parkside, in bud; the small yellow flowers are not spectacular but cute. It seems to be doing well. That is to say, even the old growths on the plant seem to be expanding. Roots everywhere. New growths all over, two of them quite large. Not even very much leaf-pleating going on, so I count this as a personal triumph.  I suspect summer will be a problem, but I refuse to be pessimistic in advance.

Christensonia vietnamica has grown tall and sturdy, but wasn't really thriving until just a couple of weeks ago, when it suddenly sprouted two new roots. My friends helpfully tell me theirs are much shorter and have bloomed several times. THAT'S NICE. Well we shall see what happens.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Knitting up VK Live 2012: Sound of Waves

Happy Fuzzy Yarn "Purple Kale"

Well-made yarns cry out to be something, even if we don't always figure it out right away. That's why we pet yarns, and fondle them, and contemplate them...we need to take their full measure, and help them become what their destiny demands of them. Even if it's just a potholder. Or a hat. Or...

I seized this skein of Happy Fuzzy Yarn merino/tencel at Vogue Knitting Live in 2012. Not fuzzy at all! Silky. Soft. Luscious. How could I resist a colorway called Purple Kale? That's right. Just look at it!!

So...what to do with 400 yards of silky soft fingering weight yarn? Why, lace scarf, of course! One of my ongoing fancies is to create a whole armload of lightweight, lacy, chiefly decorative scarves in a vast array of colors and fibers. But which lace scarf pattern would do this elegant yarn justice...?

Kieran Foley to the rescue. His lace patterns make me crazy. I want to make all of them. His Sound of Waves wrap caught my eye a while ago on Ravelry, and seemed a perfect fit for what I wanted.

I bollocksed the pattern a bit -- I cast on an extra repeat, and ended up with a ridiculously long and quite narrow scarf. It took a looooooooooooooooong time to knit each row, and for a simple pattern it was surprisingly tricky to not screw up -- and on the rare occasions I dropped a stitch (as when knitting whilst riding in a car) OW it hurt a lot. Then I added insult to injury by blocking the finished product in my usual bizarre way: stretching out the wet thing over the shower rod. (I can't lay wet knitting projects out flat to block, I have a Manhattan apartment, and I have a cat.)

Despite all that, I likey! And I'll make another, in some other luscious lacey yarn. This time I'll make it shorter and wider, as Mr. Foley intended.

Sound of Waves scarf

Shrimp Chowder for Dinner

Gosh, no recipes blogged in months...what have I been doing with myself? I hardly know any more! Fortunately I did take photos, occasionally, so I have at least some record of what we ate from late summer through early winter. I used to keep an informal record of home-cooked dinners using a desk calendar, but kept forgetting to add entries; considering the main purpose was to keep me enlightened as to just when I made that soup and yes, it was still safe to eat, being so forgetful was not helpful. So I abandoned the calendar instead of making, you know, greater efforts. Much easier.

I came across this Shrimp Chowder photo from September, and realized that while I remembered the soup was spicy and delicious, I had no recollection of the recipe! I can piece together the basics...chopped onion, probably some chopped pepper, chopped fresh tomato, fresh corn, and lots of well-seared bits of fresh shrimp. All topped with diced avocado. Details? Um. I think I see fresh thyme leaves. Don't remember there being zucchini, but that would've been OK. Maybe some ancho chili powder? Coriander? Turmeric?

There's no help for it. I'll just have to make it again and see where my palate leads me.

Maxillaria uncata

I have a deep love for miniature orchids, going back to my very first orchid explorations. Something about a complete organism being so small, so lovely, is absolutely irresistible. My first Maxillaria uncata was a tiny plant, a division of a friend's vigorous specimen. It bloomed several times before I managed to kill it. I got another, kinda small, and killed that too.

After over 20 years, I finally got another one! A huge mounted beast from Tom Nasser, sure to survive even my wonky conditions. I dealt with the issue of it being mounted by sticking the base in a decorative glass bowl on a hanging chain, and then hanging the whole business fairly close to the end of my tube lights.

I water it by half-filling the bowl; the tree-fern slab is soon saturated, and the moss around the root mass wicks moisture to the lowest growths which then drip daintily onto the sleeping terrestrials in a tray below. Not a great ecosystem, but it seems to work. Eventually those lowest growths rotted a few leaves, but the upper growths put out so many it hardly mattered. Being close to the lights, the plant stays warm, even in winter when the windows are open a bit or the steam heat fails to keep up with the changing seasons.

The adorable stripy flowers are pretty large, by my estimation.

Now if only Mystery Maxillaria (from a GNYOS raffle) would bloom...I would be 3 for 3 for blooming this genus in just one year!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Knitting up Rhinebeck 2012: Dancing Leaf Farm Boogie Woogie

Dancing Leaf yarn Boogie Woogie

They say you shouldn't shop for groceries when you're hungry, and they're right. I've done it, and I nearly always regret it. I end up with too much stuff, or weird stuff, or just the wrong stuff.

At least yarn doesn't have an expiration date, except for how our tastes might change! I really do try to shop for yarn with at least a vague idea of what I might make, but now and then optimism triumphs over organization.

In the case of this wonderful fat squishy bouncy happy yarn from Dancing Leaf Farm, I was actively looking for a big fat wool that I intended to use for an oversized-lace shawl pattern. It wasn't until I got these 2 skeins home, and examined the pattern, that I realized the colors would obscure the lace design. Too many, too short intervals. Oh well!

Fortunately I had a Many Hats Project underway, and the yarn made an absolutely gorgeous hat. I pretty much improvised the pattern, with no regrets. I sent it off with a friend who lives in Vermont.

One skein remains. I think another hat will come of it. Different pattern. This one for me!

Boogie Woogie Hat

Knitting Up Rhinebeck 2012

Rhinebeck 2012 Swag

I missed the 2011 Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival for the saddest possible reason: the death of my good friend with whom I traveled there. Her funeral was the weekend just before the 2011 Festival. Our relationship hardly centered on knitting: we had known each other for over 20 years and she only recently had become a crazed knitter accumulating stash. We went to many, many craft fairs together over the years, took several vacations, suffered losses, celebrated triumphs. Her death from cancer was a cruel, prolonged forgone conclusion nearly 8 years in the making.

But, as they say, life does go on, though I miss my friend a lot. New friends come along. And one such new friend, who is also a total Fiber Fiend AND a Fabric Fiend, insisted we visit Rhinebeck in 2012. And so we did.

And I shopped like mad, although I swore beforehand that I would be frugal and sensible. I returned to the booths of some extremely favorite vendors from the past. I discovered wonderful new vendors I had never seen or shopped before. I also ate a lamb hot dog that was absolutely incredibly delicious.

I really like the yarns I bought this year. Though OOOOH LOTS OF COLORS still caught my eye first and foremost, I was a tiny bit more discreet with some purchases and went for gorgeous saturated solid colors too. I bought a lot of purple and blue as usual, but also some warmer colors, including some out-and-out reds. Partly I realized my stash was getting a wee bit overwhelmed by one end of the spectrum, and I really don't dislike reds and golds -- I just wasn't inspired, for some reason. Some recent madelinetosh yarn purchases might have cured me -- gorgeous rich shades of red and various siennas -- and Rhinebeck helped lock it in. (Also didn't hurt that I've been keeping my hair very dark-nearly-black red, and a fellow selling silk scarves at Lincoln Center Crafts opined that gold and amber tones are flattering to pale, older skin. Hm!)

Although I'm only now getting around to posting the whole stash picture, I've done pretty well making inroads to this year's purchases. I've made a hat, and I'm halfway through a smallish shawl. Also, I've done a lot of anticipatory winding. Hooray!