That Zero Review: Recipe Taste Test

What’s a review of a cookbook without actually trying a few things from it? As I said before, I made the orange liqueur recipe within days of receiving the book (and enjoyed it) but I’ve just made the following, as well. The two main flavors are very prominant so I’d recommend this only if you really enjoy them. Based upon my system, this is an A for equipment, C for ingredients (citric acid is rarely available in stores), and A for technique for a B+ overall. If you can get your hands on the ingredients, though, it’s worth it.

Self-Carbonating Cinnamon Passionfruit Fizz

(based upon recipe from Zero by the Alinea Group)

Black Rice Stock

175 g Chinese black rice
1 L water
12.5g baking soda

Combine the water and black rice and sit overnight. The next day, strain the rice off and combine 500g of the liquid with the baking soda.

Cinnamon Stock

17g cinnamon sticks, coarsely crushed
170 g water

Toast cinnamon in a saucepan, add water, and boil for 20 minutes.

Passionfruit Cocktail

80g sugar
70g cinnamon stock
50 g passionfruit puree
7.5 g citric acid

Combine ingredients together well.

The Drink

Pour one part of the passionfruit cocktail into a glass. Slowly add one part of the rice stock. The acid of the citric acid and citrus will react with the basic baking soda and foam satisfyingly.

That Zero Review: Back Bar, Pt 3

Apologize for the large delay between the last post and this one. I’ve been busy preparing for the start of the Girl Scout year with my multi-level troop. Also got over whatever crud I had so am back to work full-time.

Recipe Grades

Amao

Equipment: Medium saucepan with lid, fine strainer – A
Ingredients: Less common are French chicory (C), cinnamon sticks (B), angelica root (C), gentian root (C), anise seeds (B) – C
Technique: Slightly burning sugar – B
Overall: B

Sweet Vermouth

Equipment: Medium saucepan with lid, fine strainer – A
Ingredients: Less common are verjus rouge (B), vanilla pods (B), dried figs and cherries (B), cinnamon sticks (B), gentian root (C), chamomile (B), cinchona bark (C) – C
Technique: Slightly burning sugar – B
Overall: B

Herbal Liqueur

Equipment: Sealer and sous vide OR saucepan with lid, fine mesh strainer – A
Ingredients: Less common are vegetable glycerin (B), poblano (B, depending on your region), mastic (C), galangal (B, depending on your region), star anise (B), fennel pollen (C) – C
Technique: Heating things up – A
Overall: B+

Fernet

Equipment: Saucepan with lid, fine strainer – A
Ingredients: Less common are galangal (B, depending on your region), cane syrup (B), aloe vera leaf powder (C), gentian root (C), cinchona bark (C), green cardamom pods (B), saffron (B) – C
Technique: Slightly burning sugar – B
Overall: B

Bitter Liqueur (a la Campari)

Equipment: Saucepan with lid, fine strainer – A
Ingredients: Less common are gentian root (C), cinnamon sticks (B), star anise (B), angelica root (C), whole cloves (B) – C
Technique: A
Overall: B+

Next time: We’ll go slightly out of order and I’ll share one of the recipes from the Modern Cocktails chapter that I’ve tried and love.




That Zero Review: Back Bar, Pt 2

We continue with the back bar today with some common and som uncommon recipes.

Recipe Grades

Spanish Rum

Equipment: Saucepan with lid, peeler, fine strainer – A
Ingredients: Less common are vanilla beans (B), Cacao nibs (B) and whole nutmeg (B) – B
Technique: Caramelizing sugar is hardest part – B
Overall: B

Orange Bitters

Equipment: Sealer/sous vide OR saucepan with lid, mesh strainer – A
Ingredients: Less common are vegetable glycerin (B), gentian root (C), dried orange peel (B), star anise pods (B), green cardamom pods (B), cinchona bark (C), whole cloves (B) – C+
Technique: You have to crush the pods of star anise and cardamom which can be hard for some (B)
Overall: B

Aromatic Bitters

Equipment: Saucepan with lid, fine strainer – A
Ingredients: Less common are whole cloves (B), gentian root (C), star anise (B), dried orange peel (B), whole nutmeg (B), green cardamom pods (B), whole allspice (B), vanilla bean (B), dried sassafras or sarsaparilla root (C) – B-
Technique: Semi-burning sugar is hardest part which I would surely screw up unless supervised – C
Overall: C

Bitter Amaro (Inspired by Cynar)

(No, I have never heard of this, either.)

Equipment: Blender (B), shallow pan (A), fine strainer (A), saucepan with lid (A) – A-
Ingredients: Less common are whole artichokes (B), gentian root (C), cinchona bark (C), angelica root (C) – C
Technique: Sugar nearly-burning, pot swirling, several steps use descriptions rather than times for judging when complete – C
Overall: C+

Jamaican Rum

Equipment: Sheet tray, parchment or silicone baking mat, sharp knife, sealer and sous vide or saucepan with lid, fine strainer – B
Ingredients: Less common are whole pineapple (B), fresh ginger (B), toasted oak chips (C, the chips are easy to get but you’ll have to have a way to toast them), black cardamom pods (B), whole allspice (B) – C+
Technique: Most difficult is cutting up pineapple bark (is it just me or will you have a LOT of chopped pineapple lying around if you make these recipes?) – B
Overall: B-

Later this week: Finishing up the back bar section with Amaro, Sweet Vermouth, Herbal Liqueur (inspired by Chartreuse), Fernet, Bitter Liqueur (Inspired by Campari)




That Zero Review: Back Bar Pt. 1

Zero breaks up the recipes into big categories: basic syrups (see last post), back bar (15 recipes), classic cocktails (13 recipes), modern cocktails (38 recipes), wines (15 recipes), and et cetera (11 recipes). I’m going to break these up in roughly groups of 5 so, well, I don’t have to take a ton of time writing up a given post.

The first big section is Back Bar – those basic liqueurs and other liquids the bar tender uses to make drinks. The stuff you use more than an ounce of in a given drink. This was one of the sections I was most excited about as NA beer and wine of good quality are easy to purchase but there are few making back bar alternatives outside of the more basic vodka, whiskey and tequila. But that’s another post.

Each recipe in the book starts with “In the style of….” which I’m not going to repeat below. Obviously none of the protections on geographic areas or ingredients have been followed. More inspired by.

Also, I’m including online ordering from Penzeys Spices in the B category for ingredients. They have fast shipping, cheaper-than-McCormick prices, and very high quality spices and dried herbs. If you cook often, you’ll easily be able to get an order together to qualify for free shipping. You may also be lucky enough to live near one of their brick and mortar locations and able to do contactless pickup. They don’t give me anything to point you their way, I’ve just loved their products for a dozen years.

Change to Grading Scheme

So, after some though, I decided to remove the “Sounds Good” category as, really, who am I to judge what others would like? Overall grades will now be a simple average of the equipment points of each category.

Recipe Grades

To see the grades of all recipes reviewed so far, open the Google Sheets here.

Gin

  • Equipment: Blender, fine strainer, sealer/sous vide OR saucepan, scale – B
  • Ingredients: Odder items are glycerin (B, stocked at Whole Foods), star anise (B, bigger grocery stores or Penzeys), juniper berries (B, bigger grocery stores or Penzeys), and angelica root (C, $10 online for culinary type) – averages to a B
  • Technique: A
  • Overall: B

American Whiskey

  • Equipment: Oven, cookie sheet/sheet pan, parchment paper, sealer/sous vide OR sauce pan – A
  • Ingredients: Odder items are barley (C, homebrewer supply store), dried peaches and dried figs (B Trader Joe’s if you have one nearby), fenugreek seeds (B, Whole Foods), and vanilla bean (B, Whole Foods or Penzeys or sometimes in bulk from Costco but they are priceyyy), Oak chips (B, good hardware or BBQ supply store) – C
  • Overall: B

Tequila

Note: Someone in an NA drinks group posted that they made this and it was quite minty right away. They recommended letting it sit for awhile before consuming it unless you want to use it in place of rum in a mojito.

  • Equipment: knife sharp enough to cut a pineapple, sealer/sous vide or saucepan – A
  • Ingredients: Odder ones are a whole pineapple (A-B, depending on season and how close to the Tropics you live), apricots (A if in season, you’re SOL otherwise), agave syrup (A), vanilla beans (B, see above), fresh bay leaves (C – unless you have a store/market that serves the Latinx community, you’ll need to look online) – averages to a B
  • Technique: hardest part is cutting up a whole pineapple which seems scary to me, though you only need the outside for this – B
  • Overall: B

Orange Liqueur

Note: I made this myself and it is easy and quite tasty. If you live the vanilla bean in the mixture when it “cooks” it’ll be very vanilla. If you’re not as into vanilla, consider using just the seeds, half a bean, or a bit of vanilla extract.

  • Equipment: Sealer/sous vide OR large pot and Ziplock (look here for the water displacement trick for sealing a bag with as little air inside as possible) – A
  • Ingredients: Odder ones are whole cloves (B, Whole Foods or Penzeys), vanilla bean (B, see above) – B
  • Technique: A
  • Overall: B+

Mezcal

  • Equipment: grill or gas burner (to char outside of a pineapple), sealer/sous ide or saucepan – B
  • Ingredients: Odder items are whole pineapple (B unless in Tropics), apricots (B in season), black cardamom pods (B – green are easier to find, Penzeys), Szechuan peppercorns (B – Whole Foods or Penzeys), Lapsang Souchong (C – smoked black tea, tea shop), fresh bay leaves (C, see note on Tequila recipe) – C+
  • Technique: De-bark pineapple, char said pineapple – C
  • Overall: C+

Next time: Back Bar, Pt 2 with Spanish rum, two types of bitters, bitter amaro (Cynar), and Jamaican rum

Zero Review: Basic Syrups

The first two recipes in Zero aren’t particularly exciting, I’ll agree, but they are important. Offered are two syrups – simple syrup and demerara syrup – you can use in cocktails but also coffee and tea, especially the iced versions.

I won’t repeat what Mental Floss explained better in this post about what makes simple syrup simple. What I like best about it is that it’s so easy to make – heat up water, add sugar, stir to blend. Before you can make many of the drinks in the book, you’ll need simple syrup so you may as well whip up a batch and put it in the fridge to use later.

Quick tip: Label everything you have in a container in your fridge that’s not in its original packaging. Use painter’s tape.

We have three jars of what look like the same thing but one is sweet, one spicy, and one is bacon fat. Pigment doesn’t wear off painter’s tape, it’s easy to write on with a Sharpie or normal pen, and it pulls off easily without leaving residue. Just make sure you don’t buy the dark blue kind as it’s hard to read.

Recipe Grades

To see the grades of all recipes reviewed so far, open the Google Sheets here.

Simple Syrup

  • Equipment: Bowl, spoon, kitchen scale – A
  • Ingredients: Sugar, water – A
  • Technique: Weighing ingredients, stirring – A+
  • Sounds Good: It’s sugar melted into water, who wouldn’t like that? Okay, that person who decided to use the quarantine to give up sugar. – A
  • Overall: A

Demerara Syrup

  • Equipment: saucepan, spoon, kitchen scale – A
  • Ingredients: demerara sugar (a bigger basic grocery store would have it but you may have to shop around), water – B
  • Technique: weighing ingredients, boiling water, stirring – A+
  • Sounds Good: Again, it’s sugar syrup – A
  • Overall: B+

Later this week: Getting started with the Back Bar

Zero Review: Approach

I’m an engineer and I can’t help but approach my review as I would an engineering task. What’s the problem? The book is expensive and on one know if it’s worth it. And, for some reason, folks have decided I can figure that out. How will we know when we’re done? Well, that one is pretty easy. Once I’ve got through every recipe and weighed it against some criteria of “worth,” I can make a judgement. How will we measure that the solution solves the problem? Measurement, oh, measurement. Always fun to debate. I’ve lost more arguments in technical meetings over how we’ll decide something is “good” than I can count. (Also lost many about definitions of so-called “common” terms but that’s a topic for another time.)

What Makes a Cookbook Worth Buying

For some people, cookbooks are about fantasy. They show us a glimpse into the kitchen at a fancy restaurant or into the Barefoot Contessa’s house in the Hamptons. It’s not a life we’ll likely ever had, but we could. It lets us dream. Maybe this is why you’d buy Zero, for the idea of it. If that’s the case, do your own evaluation as I don’t live in your head nor you in mine. What I find to be my ideal is very different from yours.

For some people, cookbooks are about inspiration. You flip through and maybe you make a recipe or two, but mostly it inspires you to do more. Bake more bread. Try out your Nana’s recipe for meatballs. Eat outdoors. It’s a jumping off point for things already on your “someday” list – or adds to it. It inspired me to try more things in the kitchen, as the non-cook in my family. Heck, I even used the sous vide for something other than making cold brew or setting it up for my husband to make something. Again, I can’t help you decide if this will inspire you or not. Your head != my head. (It’s weird in there, full of Disney lyrics and a childhood fear off the vacuum cleaner.)

For some people, the cookbook is about the recipes. You buy the book to actually make things from it and eat/drink them. That’s how I’m approaching the book. Do I want to and can I easily get the stuff to make the recipes?

The Criteria

Each recipe will be graded on the following:

  • Equipment Needed
    • Does a typical person already own all they needed? (Rating of A)
    • Do you have to buy a few investment items to make these things? (Rating of B)
    • Does only a very well-equipped home kitchen have these things? (Full disclosure: My household falls into the last category.) (Rating of C)
  • Ingredients Needed
    • Go to an average grocery store – using Publix Supermarket for comparison but think your typical Giant, Safeway, King Sooper (Rating of A)
    • Go to a better grocery store – using Whole Foods for comparison (Rating of B)
    • Go online – unless you live in a town with a ton of specialty stores, you’ll need to jump online for this (Rating of C)
  • Techniques Needed
    • Anyone can do it – think someone who has made things like boxed mac and cheese and has to Google what “spatchcock” means (after giggling) (Rating of A+)
    • I can do it – okay, so you don’t know me, probably. I don’t like to cook but have basic knife skills, can bake things that are just mix and pour, can make a roast chicken with the “cover in butter and herbs and cook to temperature” technique. If you’ve ever successfully made a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, you are me. (Rating of A)
    • My husband can do it – He loves to cook and has been doing it for years. He’s the type to make bread from scratch to use to make stuffing from scratch for Thanksgiving. We own over 500 cookbooks. (Rating of B)
    • Only my neighbor could do it – He’s an Art Institute-trained chef who now works on the Operations side of things but, again, trained chef. (Rating of C)
  • Sounds Good Factor
    • Good to almost everyone – Ask ten people (who like cocktails) on the street if something sounds good, and you’ll get 8 or 9 affirmatives. (Rating of A)
    • Good to the not-very-picky – I hate vinegar and asparagus and mushrooms so consider myself a picky eater. I’d not be in this category. Think odd but not extremely odd ingredients for cocktails. (Rating of B)
    • Good to the adventurous – If you try things like Parmesan gelato or the world’s hottest salsa, you’re in this category. Nothing scares you when it comes to food except foodborne pathogens. (Rating of C)

We’ll use the good ‘ole letter grade to GPA translation (A+ = 4.5, A = 4, B = 3, C = 2) to get a number score then do a weighted average as follows:

Final score = (Equipment + Ingredients + Technique + 2 x Sounds Good) / 5

Once I get to the end of the book, I’ll tally up all the scores and come up with a master Worth Buying the Book (WBTB for short, ’cause engineering LIVES for acronyms) score. And, yes, I’ll probably make up a Google Sheets of the ratings for those with no attention span / my fellow data-lovers.

Tomorrow: The first two recipes to whet our appetites. You may even run off and make them right after reading.

Coming Soon: Review of Zero

A few weeks ago, Matt puchased me a copy of Zero: A New Approach to Non-Alcoholic Cocktails from a Facebook ad. I can no longer have alcohol for medical reasons and tend to stick to NA beer or wine or the sort of thing a kid orders. The book offers to make my drink choices larger while still having the taste of a “normal” cocktail.

The book has come up in several NA beer groups on Facebook, with everyone speculating about complicated the recipes are. Do you have to hit up Whole Foods and buy things from the ‘Net to make just about anything? Do you have to have a giant chef’s kitchen full of specialty equipment and tools?

Really, their question is “Should I pay the high price to buy this book?”

I’m currently home for some time due to COVID-19 symptoms and figured this was a good a time as any to tackle a review. I’ll be tackling this question over a series of posts as I’m easily worn out and need to take frequent breaks.

In the Past Tense

Tomorrow, it’ll have been a month since my dad died.

Wasn’t I Just talking with him over the phone, telling him about much I like my not-so-new-anymore job? Weren’t my brother and I listening to him explain why he was born in Missouri rather than Florida (his immediate answer to my brother was “because my mother was there”)? Wasn’t he just tipping Lizzie upside-down and caling her Snickelfritz? No? Oh. Right.

I’m still struggling to talk about him and even think about him in the past tense. He is still my dad, that won’t ever change. But he “used to like to say” and “often did..” not “says” and “does.”

Some things, I’d gotten used to saying. He was going to be a dentist but decided just before his internship and dental school to become a laboratory botanist. He met my mom when they were both in grad school. He taught high school science for over twenty years after taking a temporary position at his alma mater. He moved into a role as Assistant Principal when I was in 11th grade. He was moved to the rival high school a few years later, eventually becoming its Principal. He had retired after the 2016-2017 school year. He was diagnosed with colon cancer less than six months into that retirement.

Now, there’s another past to mention. How he took Chemo for a year that gave him tingly fingers but otherwise left him feeling fine. How he was told a year later they needed to switch medications as his was no longer keeping the cancer at bay. How he was switched to an immunotherapy trial at a cancer hospital on the other side of the state, his genetics perfectly suited to participate. How he had major surgery last November that showed that wasn’t helping much, either. How his doctor sat him down in February and told him to get his affairs in order, that the news was hard to take but the doctor shared because he knew my dad wanted always to have the facts. How I got a call on a Monday morning that my dad had passed out and hit his head…there were tests…we needed to come down as soon as we can.

(A quick aside: I was supposed to be in Los Angeles for a work conference that week. My customer/client put a stop to all travel, foreign and domestic as a precaution. One of the first to do so in what seemed like a crazy overreaction at the time (February 28th). Instead, I was at my desk to get the first call and walking out of work, returning a voicemail, when my brother told me to come quick.)

We flew down the next morning, the first flight into the medium-sized airport nearest to my parents’ house. The drive seemed to take an eternity and we had trouble finding parking at the hospital. Eventually, we got out temporary visitor badges and made it up to see him.

He was sitting up and talking. Quieter than he’d been before the last six months but still talking. Asking us how the flight was and did the construction on the main drag into town slow us down. You’d think he’d just had some minor surgery until the Hospice nurse and case manager came in to talk about moving him to their inpatient unit.

(About that Hospice nurse. Turns out, my dad had her as a student years before. He lit up the second she confirmed she’d been a student of his and he went on to describe how she was a good kid and the very skinny girl who tried to get her into trouble. He wasn’t at all surprised at her chosen profession, that her soul was meant to care for others.)

He had what they call in Hospice a rally. A few days of seeing mostly like he was before being there. Chipper, talking, not eating much but finding joy in Italian ices and his beloved unsweet tea. He had tons of visitors for three straight days, wearing out even those of us who were with him. We made all of the arrangements for him to move home – equipment orders, where to put his hospital bed, observed how the nurses gave him pain medication via a special catheter.

He didn’t get to go home. The day prior to his scheduled move, he turned a corner and things got worse and worse. Not eating. Agitation. Real doses of pain killers needed (for he who was famous for having a high pain tolerance). He pulled out his NG tube and we decided there was no reason for him to have to deal with it anymore.

A few days later, we all woke up early, well before the usual 8 or 9 we’d been sleeping in to. We were watching something on TV, paying more attention to our phones than what was on, when we got a call from his nurse. We needed to come over right away.

All of us were there with him. My mom, my brother, me, my aunt (dad’s baby sister), and a woman who was my dad’s mentor and friend. Only my brother was right by his side, the rest of us sitting back a ways, all of it too much to witness so up-close. (I was trying not to have a panic attack, clutching a pillow like it would save me.) My aunt walked out suddenly and back in with Suzie, the nurse who’d called us that morning. “Is he?” was my brother’s question after she examined him briefly. “Yes. I’m sorry.”

He’s not here, anymore. I can’t discuss with him how Dr. Fauchi went to Jesuit schools and you can see their tennants in how he approaches the current pandemic. Can’t whine to him about how easy it is to STAY SIX FEET AWAY from others. Can’t show him what Lizzie is doing in her lessons since schools closed. Can’t joke about how barking spiders are to blame for flatulance sounds. Can’t talk about how I want to take him to the Galapagos to see the giant tortoises.

Eventually, I’ll settle in to the fact he’s in the past tense. Eventually.

One Month Gone

January is tricky. It seems to last forever, with its cold weather and 31 days. And yet, I’m surprised it’s already February. Tricky.

It’s been awhile since I’ve stopped by for an update and all the usual things are to blame. Lots of activities competing for time. Not feeling like writing. It’s not honoring my commitment to myself to blog weekly. All is not lost. It’s a new month (and a new week) so time to refocus.

Craftiness

I am usually a small project knitter, wanting to work on something for a week, finish it up, and move on. (It also makes it easier to bring a WIP with me everywhere when it fits in a small drawstring bag.) Unless I’m on a trip, I don’t tend to work on anything with more than one cake/ball or maybe two small cakes/balls. The last few weeks, though, I’ve only made significant progress on larger projects and I find myself looking to start projects with that same size and time commitment to finish.

Small Stuff

Lots of little project have been picked up, had a few rows or maybe an inch knit, and put aside again. I feel a bit of guilt over not making progress on the socks I began for my boss last summer and the vanilla socks that don’t even have a recipient in mind (but the next two pairs I’ll make after them do). The hat (bottom) is a new start for Lizzie in gifted baby alpaca and the cowl (top right) is a WIP I keep misplacing.

FO: Portage

Yes, Portage is finally done, nearly after a year after I cast on. I started with the Portage (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/portage-4) pattern but switched out the cables on the back for a simple knit/purl 3×3 rib which shifts every row. I’m not great with cables and wasn’t sure I’d have enough yarn to add the extra length the recipient requested.

I’ve been promised better photos of the sweater being worn but didn’t want to delay posting about the FO until I got them from her (ahem, RR).

FO: Bay’s Edge

I started this project because, well, I liked the pattern and the yarn combination. It sat for a bit, waiting for inspiration to strike. Apparently, the only inspiration I needed to work it was a recipient. Once I’ve had a chance to block this, it’ll be on its way to a high school friend of Matt’s who recently lost her husband to brain cancer.

I knit the pattern as written with the exception of some, uh, intentional design modifications. I’ll certainly be making more of these when I pick up another Miss Babs Yummy 2-Ply Toes gradient set (plus a coordinating neutral). Maybe at Maryland Sheep and Wool in May? (I’m actually in town this year for it! Third time in 11 years!)

Sick WIP

A cold has been my nemesis this week. It knocked me on my behind on Tuesday with fatigue and a very sore throat, disappeared for a bit, then knocked down again the last 24 hours with fatigue, sinus pressure, and a runny nose. When I’ve not been napping or playing connect-three games on my phone, I’ve been working on a blanket from my stash of Spud & Chloe Sweater. I’m making it up as a go and am not even sure how large it’ll get. It’ll be done when I run out of yarn. I have three skeins of the raspberry color, one of navy, and one white. I may take out the navy and replace it with white as it’s all very dark right now. May even break my yarn fast to get more of the white.

Healthy Habits

Several of my 20 for 2020 goals focused around adopting healthy habits. My big goal is to get to a healthy BMI by the end of the year, with small goals like “run a 5K” and “walk 20 minutes a day.” I had a solid week of keeping up with things – bringing healthier lunches to work, joining Orange Theory and going 3x that week, recommitting to counting WW points. Then, let’s be honest, I let things slide. Just wasn’t choosing to do the preparation needed to make healthy choices easier and went back to my stagnant, always-eating self. Being sick wasn’t made it easy but I could have focused on healthy food choices while letting my body rest.

Thankfully, all is not lost. I can (and will!) re-start tomorrow. My plan to meditate daily in February will slid to March (so daily yoga moves to April) and I’ll delay a plan start to 5K training until I’m done with the cold. But! I will prep healthy lunches and move as much as my body will let me.

House Projects

When we were thinking about the transition from summer through fall to winter, we had our usual conversations. Chance to make those meals with winter squash and long cooking times. Maybe pick out a house project or two for especially cold or snow days. Really, though, I never expected anything but the smallest of projects to get done.

Then last weekend happened. We went to Home Depot Friday night and picked out a new vanity, faucet, and fixtures. While I was at a friend’s house, Matt pulled out the old vanity and replaced the grout between our tile and tub – put in by an inept professional before we moved in – with caulk. By the time we went to bed that night, the vanity, sink, and faucet were in. The next day, we picked out new paint (Lunar Surface from Behr) and painted.

We still have work to do. Fix places where we didn’t apply enough paint, install the new mirror/medicine cabinet combo, towel bar, hand towel ring, and toilet paper holder. Soon, though, I’ll share before and after photos. You’ll have to imagine a small, half-done bathroom refresh.

What’s new with you all?

WIP Wednesday: Simple Things

I’ve been focusing on simple things this week. Removing apps from my phone that I never use (or use far too much, like Yahtzee). Reading before bed. Moving more. I’m trying to be deliberate in how I fill my hours, instead of picking up my knitting and watching TV the second I have my daily chores done and Lizzie is asleep. As a result, not a ton of progress this week.

Portage

I’m now on the second sleeve, a few decrease rounds in. I plan to focus mainly on this the next few days so I can perhaps get it done by next Wednesday.

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Matt’s Hat

I’m done! I wound up using the shaping from Roku but alternated 18 rows of k1, p1 with 18 rows  of p1, k1 to give it this fun look. When I was trying to sew up the top, I pulled so hard on the working thread that it split in half. A bit of knitting surgery was required to recover, using a separate length of yarn to sew the end back up. (Ignore my crazy eyes.)

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Rider Cowl

I decided to pull this out, after all. The yarn will be used for a basic stockinette cowl which I guess you can say is in progress, as the ribbing is done (reused from Rider). I hope to re-start the pattern in a plain color soon.

Socks for Lizzie

In typical kid fashion, she no longer wants socks, so I’ve pulled out the little progress I had and have set the yarn aside to become socks for someone else.

Started and Finished: Dishcloths

I wound up making two little dishcloths – one slightly larger than the other – using the Delightful Dishcloths pattern. Quick and easy knit. This starts me on my one 20  for 20 goal to make 10 of these for work. Perfect for carrying a hot lunch from the microwave to my cube.

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New Start: Spa Day Facecloth

Making this from the same Pima 100 yarn I used for the others. Again, plan to make two.

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