Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall Recipes

Since the weather has turned, here in Sacramento, I have been craving comfort food. Looking in my pantry, I found sweet potatoes, sweet onions, and arborio rice, so sweet-potato risotto was born! With some fresh goat cheese on top, this is one of my favorites recipes this year.

Sweet Potato Risotto with Goat Cheese


  • 1 cup of arborio rice
  • 1/2 onion, chopped well
  • cup of white wine (one you like to drink), preferably chardonnay or sauvignon blanc
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
  • at least 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 small to medium sweet potato (or yam or 1/2 cup pumpkin)
  • 2-3 oz. fresh goat cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Briefly scrub the sweet potato and stab a few times with a sharp knife. Place in oven on a piece of aluminum foil to prevent your oven from getting gross. Cook for about 30-40 minutes, depending on how big your potato is. You can always throw it in the microwave for a few minutes at the end if you take it out too early.

2. After your potato has been cooking for at least 15 - 20 minutes, get started on the risotto. Risotto takes about 22-25 minutes to cook, and you will need to add the cooked sweet potato after 22 minutes, so time things carefully.

3. Pour your stock into a medium sauce pan and heat it on a back burner until almost boiling. Keep a ladle (or a measuring cup) handy to transfer stock to your risotto pan as you cook it.

4. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. If you use a non-stick pan, you won't need as much oil or butter. Add the chopped onions and saute until they are translucent (no color).

5. Add one tablespoon of butter and the rice, stirring well to coat the rice in butter/oil. Saute for a minute or until the rice's outer coat looks clear. DO NOT COLOR THE RICE!!!

6. Add the cup of white wine and stir well. Add a ladle of stock and stir well.

7. Keep a close eye on the risotto as it absorbs the liquid. Add more stock as it cooks, one ladle at a time, making sure to not over-stir the rice. Stir it gently and often. The rice should be in individual grains, and not breaking apart or mushy. As it cooks, it creates a creamy sauce.

8. It will take about 20 minutes of stirring gently and adding more stock for the rice to finish. Taste the risotto and season with salt/pepper to taste. If the rice still tastes too firm, keep adding stock. (If you run out of stock, add hot water)

9. Open the cooked sweet potato and remove the peel. Roughly chop it and add to the risotto at the end of cooking. Stir gently, using the the back of the spoon to mash some of the potato into the sauce. Remove from heat.

10. Add the Parmesan cheese and fold it in gently.

11. After you have put the risotto on plates, add crumbled goat cheese on top. It will melt slightly.


My husband and I ate this entire dish. It was so good!
Sorry for no photos...maybe next time.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Doggles and Elephants

I just posted a new elephant on the etsy site (see side link). I will also be working on the pdf soon to put up on etsy. When I was looking at elephant designs in the past, I had a hard time finding one I really liked, so I made one up myself. It turned out pretty cute, if I do so say so myself!

We also just received a gift for our dog, Wally. My mother-in-law dropped off a pair of "doggles," so we had to break out the camera!

From the start, Wally did not like his doggles. He spent most of the time rubbing his face on the ground to get them off; but we managed to get just a couple photos (in focus) before he got really tired of them. We plan on trying them out next time we take him swimming, although it doesn't look like they are water-tight. They remind me more of little motorcycle goggles. That would be cute.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


After visiting some of my favorite blogs, I was inspired to make a granny-square blanket. Attic24's ( use of color was so pretty, that I tried to imitate it with the yarn that I could afford (acrylics, but soft ones from LionBrand) before I start work again. I really like how the individual squares look, and I think the light pink is my favorite color: it looks very antique-y. I have started to put them together and outline them in lilac, but I am unsure which color to use on top of the lilac.....pale blue? another purple?

My squares, once joined into groups of four, also look a little wonky. I hope this is normal and will start to go away once I add more yarn and start connecting even more of them together.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Last day of freedom!

Yesterday I got the call to let me know that I could start my new (old) job on Monday. Which meant that I had exactly less than two days of freedom before I had to jump into a 40/hr/wk routine again. So what did I do?
  • Spent the day in pjs, until just before J came home.
  • Watched the entire, 5 episode long, Torchwood: Children of the Earth mini-series (which I highly recommend, by the way)
  • Continued to crochet my granny-square blanket (stay tuned for pics as soon as camera battery is charged)
  • Made freezer jam, both strawberry and cherry varieties.

I think I will miss the days at home where I could decide: "I think I will try to make bread by hand today and not bathe, either." Oo! Actually, I will have Sundays and Mondays off this time 'round, so that will give me Mondays to myself where I CAN lay around all day thinking of new pillows to knit or toys to crochet. Not too bad, then.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Flying puppies

Our dog Wally (full name Wallace) has become obsessed with the game 'fetch'. This is funny because, when we were first training him, he wouldn't fetch anything, no matter what treats we bribed him with. Jay would throw the ball, and Wally would either 1) look at us like we were crazy for throwing his toy away from him, or 2) run after the ball to look at it, then run back to us, sans ball, but very excited nonetheless.

However, since he has reached his full size, (see top picture below, he is the long-hair with the blue collar), he has not only learned how to fetch, but it has become the only thing he ever wants to do, sometimes to the point of physical exhaustion. We spent last weekend visiting my in-law's pool (100 degree weather and our air conditioning was out) and playing fetch with Wally in the pool. He has become quite fearless of the pool and chases his ball into it every single time we throw it, which you can see in the picture of our flying puppy.

These two photos are from our first few weeks with Wally. I just thought they were cute. I miss how fuzzy he was and little. I don't miss the constant "potty-watch" though.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Crochet updates

Bunny is not for sale...yet. I haven't yet decided to sell him. His face is a little lopsided and he is a sad bunny.

Weiner dog amigurumi. His nose is so long, and it kind of looks like he has a booger sticking out. He isn't for sale, but I will be modifying and trying to come up with a hairy version of the doll.

These three ARE for sale. They are now on Etsy, too, so please check them out. I try to keep prices down, and they are according to the materials/time it takes to make each item.

Baby booties: organic cotton and vintage buttons. I will be making a few sets of these, more if they sell quickly.

Kidney – Urine Good Hands « I Heart Guts

Kidney – Urine Good Hands « I Heart Guts

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Spread the word!

I have decided to put some real time into this blog and there is something that all of you can do to help it grow. Please read it regularly and check back each week; or even forward it to a friend who might enjoy it or like the crocheting. This past week I have been developing patterns for quirky, one-of-a-kind dolls and baby booties for the organically minded. That said, I will be putting them on Etsy very soon, once I get them photographed.

Last Saturday I took my husband to the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco , and it was so fun to get away from Sacramento's 100 degree temperatures! We got to see so many different vendors (and people), but, unfortunately, we weren't able to purchase everything we loved. Jay was taken with, and I loved the vintage, screen-printed sweaters from I will have to save a few dollars before I can afford a sweater, though.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Etsy Shop up and running!

I know, it has been too long since I have last blogged! Things have been a little hectic around here since I moved back home and started looking for work. But I thought while I wait around the house for interviews and such I would get started trying to sell some items on Etsy. Then I thought I could also make items and sell them too. I only have two handmade items at my shop, to see how they do. If they actually sell, I may start to make more items to try to bring in some extra income. If you have any ideas, let me know!

To catch you up over what I have been doing over the past few weeks, besides looking for job, my husband and I also went on a few trips. We spent our anniversary in the Bahamas at Sandals and went to Yosemite for a weekend with his family last weekend. The photos below are from those trips.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

One more week!

Just one more week before my husband is here to move me back home! I have a lot of packing/cleaning to do, and things to finish up in my lab and classes that I am teaching, but every day is closer to being home! In the meantime, here are a few more amigurumi dolls, including an original design.

"Inky" from

Cute little frog, and I think I may give him away as a gift to someone. I found some pictures on twitter of amigurumi sea turtles, so I will also have to try one of those out soon.
This design is also from

An original design! The ET looking fellow below was inspired by Inky. I really liked the round head with far-apart eyes, so I made a little man (alien?) based on it. He is a little wobbly, but very cute: any ideas for a name?

My plants have been growing like crazy! And now I think they need a bigger planter box. Hopefully they don't grow too much before I can get back home and replant them in something bigger. The picture below is of the five yellow squash plants.
Tomato plants that are crowding each other! At least they are cherry tomatoes...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My husband sent me flowers! This was such a nice surprise, and he even included a heart-felt note. I hope they last as long as possible, and I am so excited to move back! Only 13 more days.

For the past quarter I have been trying to grow some herbs and vegetables on the balcony of my apartment. It only gets about 6 hours of direct sunlight a day, in the morning, but I think they may be doing okay so far. The above picture was about 3 weeks ago.

And this is what they look like now! I have 4 cherry tomato, 3 basil, about 6 cilantro, 5 yellow squash, and 7 cucumber plants! I finally thinned them out this morning, so the cucumbers in the picture above are now singles. I hate having to thin the plants, even though I know they won't grow well without it. In between the cucumber plants, I scattered a mix of seeds that will eventually be green and purple. That is all I can tell you, since I have forgotten exactly what kind of flower seeds they were! But at least they seem to be growing.

Here is the finished giraffe, along with a few of his buddies. I am working on a purple octopus now, and he should be up in a few days.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

After I took this photo, I realized it looked sort of morbid, in that Frankenstein's monster, sort-of-way. This will be a giraffe once I am finished with the arms, mouth, and mini-horns. He is turning out pretty cute! You can find this one on if you want to crochet it yourself. It is super easy.

I actually designed the bear below. My first attempt had a head that was too small to be cute, so I started over with a larger head. The mouth almost looked like a pig's snout, but I think I was able to save it, with the results below. He looks contemplative, so I positioned him gazing outside, thinking about finally moving home in early June. Or was that me, thinking about that?

This picture reminds me of my puppy, Wallace, when he wants some attention. He is the same color, too. I miss him.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

There was a time in my life where I was afraid I was going to end up one of those people that start projects and never finish them. It's true for some things in my life: working out regularly, design school, making an entire quilt; but I have managed to actually finish many projects in the past several years, and it has been, to say the least, very satisfying. So in my basket of to-do projects is the above scarf. The yarn is a ruffle-yarn, so the ruffles happen all by themselves, as long as you knit it correctly. It just takes forever to add any length. I figure it will take me until the end of summer to finish. But it should be beautiful when it's finally done.

A couple of weeks ago, I started on this cute little elephant pattern I found online at After completing the body, trunk, and all four legs, I realized that I was out of yarn. Panic set in for a few minutes, then I realized I had been using the yarn as part of my wip (work-in-progress) hexagon blanket (see for the pattern). So I dutifully ripped out the yarn and was able to make the ears for, what turned out to be, an adorable little elephant. I couldn't quite get the trunk shaped like the picture, but cute nonetheless.
Basically a sphere with a couple of eyes and shamrock-shaped appendages, this has been one of my favorite amigurumi animals. Also found at
It was a going-away gift for my roommate, who moved last week.
So there are just three weeks to go in graduate school before I move back in with my husband. I am excited. Very, very excited. Most of the time I will be packing, cleaning, and gathering as much data from the lab as possible. I have a meeting with my committee this coming week to see how I can turn this project into a Master's thesis and defend it next Fall. It may be quite do-able, and if I can accomplish this, I think I will have added one more "finished project" to my list and be quite happy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Why do I do this to myself???!!?

My husband and I were married almost two years ago, in June. At the same time, I was working part-time, attending college full-time, preparing to take both the GRE and the biology subject GRE, finishing and writing my biology honor's thesis, and traveling around the country to present the final product at several research competitions. Looking back, I remember it being hectic and rushed and I was not sleeping or eating as much as I should have, especially in order to maintain my weight for the wedding. My husband may remember his future wife going slightly crazy. I thought I would never do so much at one time again, but, alas, I may have just gotten myself into that same situation again.
In my attempt to leave graduate school for a normal life with my husband, my advisors have realized that I am 1 unit and a thesis project away from getting my Masters. I have been working on a project for the past four months, so, in theory, I could get it done this summer. However, it would mean that over the summer I would have to:
  1. Get a full time job (I am waiting to hear back on an interview and some applications I have been working on over the past month or two).
  2. Find a committee. <-- not as easy as it sounds.
  3. Resume my life with my husband, dog, and gecko.
  4. Bring all of my research materials from graduate school.
  5. Convince an unsuspecting but reliable undergraduate to help obtain data from the lab AND process it AND email it to me in a timely manner.
  6. Analyze the data and get a result (ha!).
  7. Write the thesis.
  8. Travel back to graduate school and defend it in front of the committee. Without going insane from the pressure.
  9. Try to fit in the anniversary trip my husband planned.
  10. Get this all done by the end of summer quarter.
So is it worth it to complete my masters? That is what I am trying to decide right now. Being so close, it is tempting to power through this next summer and get it done. But there is the fear that my project won't work or my thesis won't be approved by the committee. Arg! I guess if I try and fail, then at least I tried.
In the meantime, I will try to keep my sanity by working on more crafts and trying to get tomatoes to grow.
Shopping bag that I crocheted: For the first attempt, I didn't pay that much attention to the pattern, and the handles suffered. I thought it would make a nice gift, so on the second try I followed the pattern and changed the color. Not too bad of a result.

Second attempt:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

First Blog

You will have to forgive me, as this is my first attempt to blog. It will be awkward, but hopefully, I will improve with time. I have had much free time lately, so I have been working on several projects, including improving my sewing skills, learning how to crochet adorable amigurumi animals, and trying to grow some summer vegetables in an apartment. Below are some pictures of my projects.

Amigurumi rabbit (not my design) and owl (my first design!).

Close up of the sexyman fabric on the wall organizer.