Friday, August 28, 2015

Sometimes I Cook Too

I wasn't intending to blog today. To be honest, I wasn't intending to do most of what I've done today. But I'm on staycation, so I go with the flow!! It all started when I texted my gal pal Johanna to see if she had a gown I could borrow for an upcoming fancy dress function. She asked if I wanted to come over tomorrow and watch movies with her. Well, of course I do -- she's delightful!! She said she'd supply the wine, so I offered to make snacks. Being mostly vegan, I find it's beneficial to show up with food to share so that I'm guaranteed to have something that I can eat and the omnivores learn that vegan food is delicious and fun.We couldn't decide between savory and sweet, so I said I'd bring both. Johanna is gluten-free, so I said I'd make vegan gluten-free brownies, black bean hummus, and spicy oven-roasted chickpeas.

Which brings me to why I'm blogging. These recipes need to be shared! I had made the brownies before, but with all-purpose flour. The other two recipes are new and so very delicious! I've included links to all three recipes below.

The brownie recipe is from Minimalist Baker. I love the recipes on Minimalist Baker! The only changes I made were I used chia eggs (1 Tbls. chia seeds and 2.5 Tbls. water) instead of flax eggs, and I substituted Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Flour for the all-purpose. I also added in a very healthy 1/3 cup of chocolate chips, as recommended.

The black bean hummus recipe is from My It's my first experience with this website. Rest assured, I'll be back. I left out the cilantro, because when I went to the grocery store I thought I had cilantro at home. When I got home, I realized that was not the case. And I wasn't feeling another trip to the store. So my black bean hummus is cilantro-free. Not everybody likes cilantro anyway. Oh, and I used the juice of a whole lime. I like lime.

The last treat I made, the spicy oven-roasted chickpeas, came from This is my maiden voyage with this website as well. I was not disappointed! The chickpeas are crunchy and have just the right amount of bite to them. I hope I can keep my hands off of them for tomorrow! And if I can't, they're so easy to make, I'll just make another batch!

That's the hot news for now. Last night's Stitch 'n' Bitch at R Public House was really fun! I won't be at next Thursday's even at Rogers Park Social, as I will be on vacation in scenic Portland, Oregon, but Victoria and Meg will be there, and they're really cool girls!! If you're in in the vicinity of the 1500 block of Jarvis Avenue tomorrow between noon and 10 pm, check out Rogers Pork, a block party with food, drink, art, and music,Until next time, Peace, Love and Yarn!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Muse

There’s been a persistent little voice in my head lately whispering, “Write a blog, DM! Write a blog!”  Several times of late I’ve sat down in front of a blank screen on my computer, just waiting for The Muse. The Muse did not come. I think this is why Hemingway drank so much rum. And then yesterday, my lovely cousin Beth said, “Have you blogged in a while?” I confessed that it had been quite some time since I’d written a blog. My conversation with Beth got my wheels spinning, but we were at Wrigley Field on a family adventure, so I just ate peanuts, drank beer, and sang, “Go, Cubs, Go!”

This morning, as I was lying in bed, The Muse said, “I’m ready!” So I quickly got dressed, grabbed my laptop, and ran over to the Heartland CafĂ© for a delicious vegan breakfast and copious amounts of coffee and I began to write.

I spent a lot of time explaining The Muse to my campers at my various arts camps this summer. Often Inspiration makes us wait until she’s ready. In our Google-driven society where we possess immediate answers at our fingertips, we no longer cultivate patience and artistic thought. Kids are often derailed by waiting for Inspiration. “I don’t know what to draw, what to paint, what to build,” they’d lament, fear and frustration in their eyes. “Doodle,” I’d say, “or write, or smoosh clay in your hands. The Muse will come. You just have to encourage her with Play.”

 Kids are no longer encouraged to think creatively. The education system, as it were, has taken away art and music and physical activity – what I like to call Fun Disguised as Pedagogy – and turned today’s students into rote-learning, test-taking, fact-spewing robot people. They don’t learn how to think; they learn how to regurgitate. And even toddlers know how to use a smart phone or a tablet, but take the screens away and kids are lost! “Scissors?? Paint?? Mod Podge?? I don’t get it!!” There’s also no grey area, no room for interpretation. “Is this right?” The children ask repeatedly, desperation in their eyes. I respond brightly, “This is art camp. It’s very difficult to be wrong here.”

We’re all born artists. Be it music or sculpting or painting or sewing or gardening or cooking or acting or writing, we’ve all got it. Music also teaches math. Visual art can teach chemistry. Performing art teaches physiology and kinetics. All of these endeavorsa teach history and geography. Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” We need to encourage our intelligence to have fun. We need the music, the art, the theatre, the beauty to tap different parts of our brains. Einstein played violin and developed the theory of relativity. Einstein did not take standardized tests. Let’s all – every one of us – let our intelligence have fun. And if we have young people in our lives, let’s encourage them to let their intelligence have fun too.

Those are my thoughts this week. Please join us for Stitch ‘n’ Bitch this Thursday from 7:00-9:00 at R Public House, 1508 W. Jarvis. Also mark your calendars for the Tipsy Craft Circus, a Neighborhood Craft Market, on Saturday, September 19, from noon-5:00, also at R Public House. Until next time, Peace, Love, and Yarn!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Jazz, Baby!

Darlings, I've converted another one!! My dear friend Andy McGuire, the music teacher at Kilmer Elementary in Rogers Park, had never crocheted before. Apropos of nothing, he decided he wanted to crochet a blanket that was big enough to wrap himself up like a burrito. He's 6'3". Having spent a substantial amount of time with Andy, both socially and in his classroom as a coach for his after school rock band, I know how ADD he is, so I confess that I was skeptical that he would make it through a giant blanket as his first project. And in all fairness, I do not possess the patience to finish a man-sized blanket.

Nevertheless, two and a half weeks ago I invited Andy to come to the stitch 'n' bitch at R Public House and taught him how to start his ginormous project. He caught on quickly. Singers usually do, I find. He really enjoyed crocheting too, even when his project was in its infancy and didn't really look like much. I again cautioned him that a blanket for a tall man was a lofty first project, but his enthusiasm would not be thwarted.

That night, when he got home, he stayed up and did a second row. Then he would text me every couple of days saying, "This is really fun!" "I just finished another skein!" "It's up to my waist now!" He was -- dare I say it -- hooked!

Saturday night Andy sent me this picture.

His progress amazed me! Yesterday afternoon he texted me to tell me that his blanket came up to his chin. At 11:00 pm he texted me to report that his blanket reached his nose. Although he had told me that he was going to make only his blanket -- "one and done," he had claimed -- I had a feeling he was going to be a crocheting man. I asked him what his next project was going to be. He said he had a pregnant colleague and wanted to make her a baby blanket. (!!)

I sent him this picture of my current baby blanket project and told him I could teach him the pattern.

The following is a transcript of our texting conversation.

ANDY: Oooooh!!! That's cool!!!

ME: It's just doubles and chains. You've got to count a lot for the first two rows, but after that, it's a cakewalk.

ANDY: Hmmmmmm. I can count!

ME: Yeah, but you're a musician -- you can only count to four!!

ANDY: Sometimes 6

ME: I count 6 in three -- sometimes two.

ANDY: True

ME: The starting chain is 129, then you've got to count twos, threes, and fives (??!??) for the first row!!!

ANDY: Eek. That's a lot of meter changes.

ME: It's jazz, baby!!

 At 1:49 am, Andy sent me this picture. Jazz, baby!!

So that's the news for now. Lyric has a performance of "Tosca" tonight which is going to keep me from Rogers Park Social, but I'm willing to bet there will still be a gathering of the faithful for stitch 'n' bitch from 7-9. And don't forget Toddler Music Jam at the Common Cup Friday morning at 10:00. Oh! One more thing! Here's a picture of my adorable second cousin Addison (the one who chooses the color of my bangs) at her third birthday party. Photo credit to Colton Loeb.
 Until next time, darlings, Peace, (Radical) Love, and Yarn!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Baby Things

Darlings, don't drink the water!! It seems as though EVERYONE is pregnant, or knows someone who is!! I'm making baby hats, baby booties, baby blankets like a boss! I just updated my order list. I've got four baby blankets and two baby dresses on my docket right now!!

One of my coworkers at the opera is due in two weeks. She's having a girl. She has a sweater in which to bring her precious angel home from the hospital, but she wanted a girly little hat. So I made one of these.
 It's a new pattern. I'm really happy with it. And I had extra time and extra yarn, so I decided to make her some coordinating booties as a gift with purchase. They strongly resembled this.
I started with a pattern, then I went rogue on the tops of the booties and used the same lacy pattern that I used in the hat.

Baby things are awesome to make because they're so cute and tiny, and they take so much less time than grownup stuff. Those booties took me one act of an opera to make, and it was my first attempt at that pattern. I think this is the time to rekindle my romance with all things adorable and tiny. I'm always seeking to up my crocheting game, and I think it might behoove me to start small. And people tend to spare no expense for adorable baby things, so that's a nice bonus.

That's all the news for now. This week's stitch 'n' bitch is Wednesday from 7-9 at R Public House. And don't forget my Friday morning Toddler Music Jam from 10-11 at the Common Cup! Until next time, Peace, (Radical) Love, and Yarn!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mothers Make Invention Necessary

Darlings, have you met my mom? I adore her! She's my best friend, my strongest supporter, my head cheerleader. She's sweet and funny, she has a very generous spirit, she's exceptionally kind to all of God's creatures, and she bakes a mean cookie! I may be eating some of the aforementioned cookies as I type.

When this amazing human needs something from me, I try my best to deliver. Just last evening, as she was dropping me at the Metra train station after we'd seen the Chicago Harp Quartet at Fermilab and had a lovely dinner at the Country House Restaurant, she asked me if I had any new crocheted designs that she could buy for a friend for her birthday. Well, I've been spending most of my time on music, not on yarn, of late. I knew it was time to find some new projects. All I needed was a little push! And when the woman who birthed me, put me through private school, and saw me through my goth phase in the eighties asks if I have new crocheted awesomeness, then new crocheted awesomeness I will create! 

I got on the train, logged on to Ravelry, and started searching for something fun and quick to make. I decided on slippers, probably because it was snowing and my feet were a little cold. There are a lot of really delicious slipper patterns available on Ravelry. I searched through all of the patterns and decided on these. 
So cute, right?? And the pattern looks really easy. Here's a link to that pattern. I'm going to make purple ones with grey trim. I can't wait to go button shopping! I'm going to make these adorable slippers at my Stitch 'n' Bitch at R Public House this Wednesday, January 14, from 7:00-9:00 pm. 

And that is how necessity became the mother of invention, or how my mother made invention necessary! I hope my mom's friend (whose identity and birthdate I cannot divulge in case she's reading this blog right now!!) really enjoys being the first gal on her block with a pair of these from my hook. Mom's getting a pair for her birthday next month too. She already knows -- I'm not spoiling anything!

That's all the news for now. I hope to see you Wednesday night at RPH!  They've got new stuff on their menu since I was there last. I'm excited to try something new! Friday morning, my guitar and I will be at the Common Cup for Toddler Music Jam! The first one was a huge success!!
Poster design by Matt Andersen,

Also, you can hear the Chicago Harp Quartet tonight from 8:00-10:00 on WFMT, 98.7 on your FM dial. Until next time, my darlings, Peace, (Radical) Love, and Yarn!

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Brush With the Plague

Darlings, my two weeks of funemployment is over! Today I return to work. And I spent my last day of vacation in bed, nursing a cold.

I felt the cold coming on for days. The sore throat would lurk in dark doorways and leer at me around corners. I could hear the footsteps of sinus pain following me home at night. The earache would pull curtains aside from darkened windows and ogle me as I passed. And then on Saturday, the symptoms got bolder. No more peeking and sneaking -- they were nodding and tipping their hats at me when I entered a room. Rude little bastards -- why were they wearing their hats indoors when a lady was present? My throat hurt. I was congested. My ears felt funny. I couldn't get warm. 

I went about my business as planned, but I knew the Plague awaited. I took my temperature; a respectable 98.3°. I tend to run a little cool. I pushed water, ginger tea with honey and lemon, vitamin C, and clementines. **Side note: clementines are my new obsession. Nature's candy!! So delicious!!** I filled my vaporizor, climbed in bed, and watched "White Christmas" to soothe my spirit. I would not let the Plague win!

And then I awoke Sunday morning to the dreaded realization
               that the Plague
                                   had won.
My head was pounding, my ears were achy and kind of draining a little, my sinuses felt as though there was an anvil on my face. And my throat was so very dry and scratchy. So I did what any Gen Xer would do -- I turned off my alarm, rolled over, grabbed my cat to snuggle me, and went back to sleep. For four hours. I made more tea, heated up some soup, and headed back to bed. 

I spent all of Sunday babying myself, drinking tea, eating soup and my beloved clementines, and alternating between napping and watching documentaries on Netflix. I began, slowly but surely, to feel better. The pain and pressure have subsided. And in retrospect, Plague or not, that might have been the best way to spend a snowy Sunday at the tail end of my Christmas break!

That's about all the news for now, my angels! Tonight is the first Stitch 'n' Bitch of 2015 at Rogers Park Social. I'll be there the first and third Monday of the month. And don't forget that my Toddler Music Jam starts this Friday morning, January 9, from 10:00-11:00, at The Common Cup. Be well, avoid the Plague, and as always, until next time, Peace, (Radical)Love, and Yarn!