Monthly Archives: June 2013

Awareness (Whole30, week 4)

salmon and fouscous(Weekend meal: pan-sauteed sockeye salmon, homemade pesto (no cheese!) and cauliflower fous-cous)

I am so close. Almost there. Day 29. And yet, looking ahead, I am not feeling an incredible urge to change much of anything in the ‘new normal’ I have established in the past month. This happens to be a convenient attitude with which to approach the next phase of the Whole 30, a 10-12 ‘reintroduction’ period. During these follow-up week(s), single food types (dairy, legumes, grains) are introduced – in the context of an otherwise Whole30-approved diet – one after the other, in order to identify ‘problem’ foods that may have been hindering me from being the best I can be. In the beginning, the idea of this self-experimentation was one of the biggest selling points of the program; now, towards the end, I’m a bit more cautious.

eggs in baskets again (Eggs in red bell pepper ‘nests’, avocado and blueberries)

You know who is counting down impatiently? Batman*. He has been incredibly supportive, endlessly patient and up for all sorts of food experiments (he did not strictly follow the Whole30 with me, but did eat a lot of my food – in the interest of solidarity – I’m sure – and laziness/avoidance of cooking two meals each time ‘round). But, we both miss our ‘Stir-Friday’ tradition (no noodles, soy), and there is no way I would let his birthday pass this week without raising a (real) drink in his honor (no booze). Plus, that delicious steak he likes to make on Sunday afternoons? Even better with a red wine reduction/shallot sauce.

garlicky beef stew and squash(Weekday picnic – garlic beef stew, zucchinis tossed with pesto)

However, as in any disciplined venture coming to a close, I have engaged in some pretty intense navel-gazing about the process. Mostly to consider where I go from here and what are the lessons I want to take from the past four weeks. With the obvious caveat that I cannot speak to my personal issues with specific foods (I’m sure that post will be coming in a week or two), here are a few general things I’ve learned, which I aim to focus on in the coming weeks/months ahead:

pesto egg scramble (Tomato, turkey, pesto scramble, avocado, raspberries)

I can trust my mind (and my stomach) again. One of the key points made in It Starts With Food, was that, during the Whole30, participants eat what feels like a huge amount of food. Wholesome, real food is often not as caloric as its junky counterparts, so to ensure that our daily needs are met, we pile the vegetables high and do throw an extra half avocado on the side. Initially I was stuffing myself silly and was shocked to realize I could not tell when I was full (model case of leptin resistance). I slowed down, turned off the computer during meals and focused on making food worth eating at the dining table. Within a week, I was putting my fork down halfway through dinner, satiated and delighted to have finally found the connection between my brain and stomach. After almost a month, I trust that connection implicitly. I have to take care to go slow and pay attention, but when I do, I know how much is just right for me.

 kale and sausage(TraderJoe’s Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage, lemony garlic sauteed kale)

Anything can be a comfort food. I had no idea what to expect in regards to cravings when this began. I am a lover of all things cheese, bread and noodle-y – so I assumed my dreams would be filled with wheels of brie and I might have to be physically held back if someone around me was to serve up a plate of fettucini Alfredo. I could not have been more wrong. I had days when my (chubby) emotional eating devil would pop onto my shoulder and whisper sweet nothings of tuna melts and pizza into my ear – how comforting and delicious they would taste – justifying such a breach in protocol by exclaiming how hard the day had been. With my mind clear (point #1), it was almost embarrassing to note how many times I had previously fallen for this argument. Not this time. Instead, I’d make a savory, thick bowl of chili, or persuade The Bat to make me one of his out-of-this-world onion-jalapeno burgers, sweet potato fries on the side. I learned that my comfort food is anything that is delicious – irrespective of its carb/cheese content. And, if I ever want anything to taste more decadent, I just should dip it into some homemade olive oil mayo.

 salmon salad(Leftover salmon/fous-cous salad)

My willpower is strong. It is not undermining myself to say that I have never been known to be a woman with unwavering willpower. It’s dizzying how fast I can talk myself out of a morning jog, or into a day spent on the couch in my pajamas. But when it comes to food, I have found myself stronger in ways I never knew I could be. Mostly in the lunch room. And at Monday morning lab meetings. And Friday afternoon Journal Club/Happy Hours. The first week it was hard, passing the pastries and turning down a cold beer. Now I don’t even glance. Except when the pistachios come around.

sole (Dinner out at Fish Public – Petrale sole, almonds, green beans – partial cheating because of browned butter? Probably. And I am ok with that.)

I do not miss rice or legumes – or (shock!) bread. To be honest, the upcoming reintroduction phase scares me a bit. I would like to create a framework based on the past 30 days that would allow me to eat clean and maintain the confidence, pride and change in pants-size I have gained (or lost, as the case may be). Beyond that, I want to live in a way that allows me to not be dominated by my ‘belly issues’ – only recently a dream that has been made reality in the past few weeks. I am nervous about cutting out favorite foods (dairy, gluten), but have been pleasantly surprised at those things I have not missed – rice, beans, lentils or peanuts.  If I have not thought about those foods during the challenge, I see no need in rushing to introduce them now. Honestly, after discovering the wonder of cauliflower rice/fous-cous, I may gladly never eat rice again.

eggs and pesto zucchini (Over-easy eggs atop pesto-tossed roast squash, nectarine)

I must be kind to myself. At this point in my life I know my shortcomings. One of the worst (and most common, I suspect) is that I am simultaneously my harshest critic and an unrelenting perfectionist. That leads to a very ‘all or nothing’ personality in which I can rigidly control/plan/work in bursts, but the moment I allow for one pause, one donut – all is lost and I spiral downward into a mental vortex of guilt, elbows deep in the pastry box. It will take some time to devise a plan for moving forward from here – what I will eat with abandon, what I will save for special occasions and what are the foods that I will enjoy and suffer the consequence(s). Even after implementing that framework, I will stumble into excess every once in a while. In those moments, I need to acknowledge, pick up and get right back in it – not wallow in guilt and pasta. These are/will be difficult changes, but based on how good I feel now, the right ones for me. I need to remember that this was never about dieting per se, but to better my health permanently. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and all that. I just need to be kind to myself along the way.

pork and green chile stew(Pork and green chile stew, cauliflower rice)

I will do another Whole30. That goes without saying. Either to get me back on the wagon (see above) or just to re-focus on my long-term goals of health, energy, and mind-body connection. I am already intrigued if/how it will be different the second time around. It has been a great experience – one that I would recommend to anyone.

lunch salad(Lunch salad – lettuce, green onions, baby bell peppers, avocado, turkey, pine nuts, blueberries, balsamic vinegar)

One more day and then onto the next chapter!

fruit snack(Fruity interlude – when I forgot my picnic lunch during our Farm Tour last weekend, I shared some garden-fresh watermelon and tomatoes instead). 

*Calling my boyfriend “Batman” will never cease to crack me up. And we all know how annoying it is when people laugh at their own jokes.

sausage and eggs in a nest(Last egg of the week, alongside Artichoke and Garlic sausage and cantaloupe)

I have been/will continue to post my ‘clean eating’ on my Instagram (@researchingsandiego), which I am also looking forward to using for non-food photography purposes. Having that community has also been a huge perk and motivation in these past few weeks. Thanks to all of you for the kind words of support!

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Weekly Travel Theme – Flow

falls the firstWhen I saw that Ailsa posted “Flow” as this week’s travel theme at Where’s My Backpack, my stomach sank a bit. As far as I could recall, I has used my favorite photos of rivers and beaches for last week’s “Peaceful” challenge. It took some time for memories of a day spent exploring the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, to rise to the surface of my mind.

map

I spent eleven long days training at the Faculty of Medicine in Reijka, Croatia as part of an international workshop in viral immunology; on the twelfth day, our hard work was rewarded when we were treated to a hiking tour of the most stunning lake country I have ever seen. The color of the many linked pools seemed almost  an opaque turquoise from afar, in the sunlight. But once near the shore or on the water itself, I realized it was crystal clear  (filled with fish) and that the hue seen from a distance was a trick of the limestone and chalk basins.

falls the second

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice Lakes are comprised of >16 lakes, separated by natural dams but connected by waterfalls of all sizes. Our small group had the privilege of a guided tour from one end of the valley, winding around (and through!) the lakes and making our way through the surrounding forests to an overlook at the other end.

unesco

Each corner of the path brought with it new surprises – towering waterfalls, quiet, still pools, fallen trees reclaimed by the waters, and dark caves leading into the surrounding mountains. Although our group was only a small fraction of the total people in the park that day, the valley was mostly silent, minus the roar of the surrounding falls. There was a visible sense of awe and wonder in each face and very little was said,out of respect for the grandiose, sacred beauty that surrounded us. When we did speak, the words almost always emerged as a whisper.

falls the fifth

I learned later that the precipitation and deposition of calcium carbonate via the flow of the falls and rivers moving through the valley resulted in the eventual natural damming of the lakes and establishment of this extremely unique geological formation. The power of flow to both build and erode was abundantly clear throughout our exploration of the park.

pools

Yet, as with last week, I found these waters to also be peaceful – not only the calm aquamarine pools of the upper valley, but also the thundering cascades. Something about that power, pounding (virtually) throughout eternity reminded me how insignificant my current worries were, how little impact the flow of my life has on the bigger picture – that nature has been carving out these hidden jewels long before I entered the world, and will continue long after I leave.  What a wonderful thought.

falls the fourth

fishes

falls the third

pools and falls

Weekly Photo Challenge – Curves

This past weekend I joined friends (and Walker, of knit hat fame) to participate in the San Diego Farm Bureau’s Farm Tour Day 2013. We were guided through the grounds and operations of three local agricultural giants, specializing in flowers and succulents, avocados and seasonal, organic produce. I had checked the Weekly Photo Challenge before leaving the house early that morning, and spent the day looking out for images that evoked this week’s theme of “Curves”. I thought this photo of almost-ripe avocados did the trick. The fruit hung heavy on the thin branches, while the leaves provided a dappled shadow to protect them from the intense heat of the direct, summer sunlight. The dark, rough, pebbled curve of their outer shell belied the creamy, rich sweetness of the fragile flesh within. They were dipping low enough that I was tempted to grab and pull – but I resisted the urge and was rewarded with a ripe avocado souvenir at the end of the tour. It was a perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday.

low hanging fruit

Inspiration (Whole30, week 3)

steak salad(Steak salad – lettuce, bell peppers, avocado, red cabbage, green onions)

As someone who has always leaned more towards the vegetarian side of the spectrum when cooking for myself, I’ve spent a bit of my third week of the Whole30 struggling for inspiration to push through the rest of the challenge. I am rarely a fan of giant hunks of meat (The Bat’s fantastic steak and burger skills excepted), preferring stews and braises – many off limits because of the addition of wine, or starchy thickeners. And, while I love the variety and abundance of produce available during summer in San Diego, sometimes I need a bit of a nudge to break out of my salad rut of lettuce, bell peppers, scallions and avocado.

omelet maker greens omelet(Variations on my greens omelet – lemony kale, avocado/guacamole, green onions)

So, feeling rather bored with the combinations I could come up by mixing meats + vegetables + fruits, I spent this past week combing the #whole30 Instagram feed, bloggers who have conquered this particular 30-day challenge, cookbooks inspired by the Whole30 eating plan and scores of recipe sites to come up with dishes that inspire me to keep going. So far, so good! Today is Day 23 – only 7 days to go until the reintroduction phase begins. I continue to feel great and am slowly fitting into Paris clothes I had abandoned months ago. Win-win.

chicken coconut curry(Chicken coconut curry with green beans and red bell peppers)

Even as a seasoned (ha!) food blogger/fan-girl, it took some digging to find meal ideas that were truly inspiring. This “inspiration” mainly took two forms: (i) the “Yum – I want that in my belly right away”, and, the more exciting, (ii) “That looks almost perfect – what could I do/play with/alter to make it even better?” I thought it would be good to use this week 3 post to highlight a few of my key motivators. If any of you out there are considering taking on the Whole30 challenge (and, as of right now, I highly recommend it), maybe these blogs, books and recipes will help get you through the tough spots as well.

sashimi(Sashimi platter at RK Sushi, it was amazing to really taste the fish without the rice, soy or even wasabi – except for my favorite, the seared white tuna on the bottom left, which were out of bounds because of the ponzu glaze – The Bat happily snatched them up.)

The first and most obvious inspiration is the book, It Starts with Food. In this, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig lay out the Whole30 plan as their solution for the emotional, dependent, dysregulated eater of today. Not necessarily a source of recipes, the solid, scientifically backed justification for each of the “rules” of the 30-day challenge was so well thought out and presented that it was easy to turn away from the copious and ever-present sugar/booze/cheese/bread temptations I have run into on almost a daily basis. They made me believe in the health benefits of their plan and challenged me to see if I could follow long enough (30 days) to reap the benefits. After reading the entire book, I felt compelled to do so – I am not one who walks away from challenges easily (or at all).

chocolate chili (Chocolate Chili, topped with guacamole and green onions)

The second book I picked up that is proving to be essential to my  success is Well Fed, a cookbook written by Melissa Joulwan, the voice behind “The Clothes Make the Girl” blog. Both the book and the blog have provided many recipes that I have already posted here: Rogan Josh, Moroccan Meatballs, Czech Meatballs, Chicken Coconut Curry (above), Olive Oil Mayo, Chocolate Chili (above), just to name a few. Not only do I continue to be inspired by her recipes, but her personal story is fascinating as well – so much so that I have gone back and started to read the blog from the very beginning just for the fun of it.

roasted tomato frittata (Oven roasted tomato, ground beef and kale frittata – so many leftovers!)

There were so many blogs whose ‘I finished the Whole30, this is what I learned’ recaps I read with great curiosity when I was struggling through those first few days – to convince myself that the benefits from the book were within reach for anyone and that the journey would be worth it. It is fascinating at the beginning to read about perspectives from the end – how cravings would disappear, and how eggs still sounded better when yogurt was again an option. As my finish line creeps closer, this all makes more and more sense to me – my cravings have all but dissipated, and I do not feel like I am missing much. I want to give a particular mention (again) to Luisa at The Wednesday Chef, who first piqued my curiosity and then stimulated my taste buds with her decadent Whole30 meals (few of which I have imitated).

shrimp fajita salad (Shrimp fajita salad – lettuce, red cabbage, sauteed onions and green bell peppers, salsa, guacamole, sauteed shrimp and a lemony vinaigrette)

For my last week, I have continued to dig deep into the Whole30-esque archives. I am very lucky that I love eggs – they usually form the foundation for at least one, if not two of my daily meals. I am as surprised as the next person that I am not sick of them yet – per se – but I could use a bit more inspiration of how to bust out of the scramble/omelet/frittata mode (I am looking forward to bell pepper eggs-in-a-nest tomorrow morning). Any ideas would be most welcome.

sausage and zucchini with pesto(Garlic & Herb Chicken Sausage, summer squash sauteed with pesto and baby bell peppers)

I am also looking forward to this pork and green chile stew over the weekend. Next week? Maybe this Chipotle Baked chicken (minus the cheese) and most definitely hopefully these stuffed peppers (my inspiration is overflowing). My biggest victory lately has been to finally find a sausage without sugar – the Garlic & Herb (or Spicy Italian) chicken sausages at Trader Joe’s. This has become a quest, as almost every option has sugar as a key component of the spice mixture – not to mention lots of cheese filler. For dinner tonight, I was delighted to have a hunk of meat for dinner. Not to mention those squash tossed with this pesto – I could eat it right off the spoon!

sweet potato hash turkey onion tomato scramble(Scrambles – sweet potato on top; turkey, tomato and green onion below)

It has been such an eye-opener to realize how many tasty plates can be made with  high quality meats, herbs, vegetables and fruit. I hope that some of what is here can be inspiring for you as well!

czech meatballs (Czech meatballs atop lemony garlic kale, avocado on the side – perfect when dipped in homemade olive oil mayo)

As always, I have taken to posting all of my (unique) meals on Instagram – find me at researchingsandiego. Please find and lend me your best egg recipes for the next 7 days (or more!).

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Travel Theme – Peaceful

santa barbara train(From Amtrak Coast Starlight, looking out at the Pacific Ocean, north of Santa Barbara, CA)

I am most at peace around flowing water. I do have to wonder if this evolved from being brought up in a beachside community or, possibly, being raised by an avid surfer. Either way, I can sit alongside a river or overlooking a beach, and watch the water for hours on end. When things are particularly tense in the rest of my life, watching (meditating along with?) this continuous, repetitive, unaltered ebb and flow allows me to truly exhale and let the stress go.

grand canal(The Grand Canal, Venice, Italy)

If I had my way, I would never again live more than 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean – inhaling the salt air deeply and listening to the waves pound endlessly against the shore is rejuvenating  Something about that power, the wind in my hair, and the wild, untamed beauty of the Pacific always sets things right.

SONY DSC(Private beach front, Coco Palm, Maldives)

Yet, after several years living alongside rivers, I have also come to appreciate the quiet solitude that can be found watching life flow by. The river always provides a cool breeze to soothe one’s brow on a hot day and a stopping place alongside to take in the view (or a jog) downstream or to set up an impromptu picnic at dusk.

honfleur at dusk(Harbor-side dinner at dusk, Honfleur, France)

When Ailsa posed her Weekly Travel Theme of “Peaceful”, bodies of water on (around/in) which I have traveled – in all moods – and found peace came to mind. Here are some of my favorites.

french riviera(Overlooking the Côte d’Azur while driving from Nice to Monaco)

windmill spotting 2(Windmill spotting while on a small canal outside of Amsterdam, Netherlands)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Sunset at Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica)

tiber(Dusk settles over the Tiber River, Rome, Italy)

omaha beach(Contemplating freedom while looking across the English Channel – on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France)

 

seine(Notre Dame Cathedral and Ile de la Cité as seen from a Seine river cruise, Paris, France)

 

big sur(Bixby bridge, driving southbound on California Highway 1 through Big Sur)

Weekly Photo Challenge – Fleeting

Although it has been more than six months since I returned from Paris to San Diego, on lazy Sunday afternoons my mind turns to long, winding, warm Parisian evenings with friends – enjoying aperitifs on terraces and picnics in parks. For much of my time there, my camera was my constant companion – to ensure that I would capturing everything that I could miss from the other side of the world. In an odd twist of fate, so much of my time was spent behind that lens that, often, I don’t have actual memories – only a series of mental snapshots that recall particular occasions. Bastille Day 2011 was one of those. I vividly recall laughing with friends while sprawled on the Champs de Mars, dancing the can-can at sunset and the “superheroes” that joined us. The fireworks, however? Luckily I have the photos, which captured each fleeting, vibrant burst of color as the explosion lit up the Eiffel Tower and the night sky in front of me.

fleeting

This week’s photo challenge, “Fleeting” was prompted by The Daily Post

What have you knit for me lately?

walker + hat(Walker. In a Hurricane Hat. Clearly made to be a toddler knitwear model)

I have only a few memories of spending time with my mom’s parents growing up. The most vibrant and lasting of those was their visit to welcome my newborn brother, Eric, when I was 8. My grandmother always carried her knitting with her, and the needles were pulled out and clacking away anytime she found a place to sit still for more than 10 minutes. For a fidgety little girl on her best behavior, watching the swooping, twisting, knotting mass of needles and yarn was mesmerizing. It was on this visit that I declared that I was old enough to learn what grandma was doing and she agreed. With extensive patience, some pink yarn and a pair of bright yellow plastic needles, Grandma Dorie gradually taught me to knit, leaving me with a gift I value to this day (there is photographic evidence of this afternoon that I need to dig out at my mom’s house and share here someday soon – it is completely worth it for my haircut alone).

needle books(Aren’t these snazzy? My aunt just passed on these great interchangeable circular needle sets, circa 1970s)

My memories of my grandmother are entirely twisted up with memories of her knitting – mostly the one-of-a-kind sweaters I received for holidays and birthdays. I was so proud of them. No one else had a sweater featuring little sheeps running across the front, with the matching rumps (complete with pom-pom tails!) across the back. I was not the only family member who’d been brought into the knitting fold – my aunt Jane was also always a prolific sewer/knitter. Her gifts (if it was possible) thrilled me even more – matching outfits for me and my Cabbage Patch Kid?! I was the coolest kid in school!

small needles(Small needle sizes – the cables are a little creaky, but everything is completely functional!)

My interest in knitting at age 8 lasted for about three days; the same amount of time as my excitement about skateboarding or passion for the electric keyboard. But I would return to my needles every few years, making my own one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts (I still cringe at the year of many, many knitted potpourri sachets) and considering all the fashionable garments I could be making for myself while perusing knitting books at the local library (so many shoulder pads).

large needles(Larger needle sizes – the colorful metal tips are so cheerful!)

It wasn’t until graduate school, when I desperately needed a creative outlet to give my brain a rest from non-stop science that I returned to the craft in earnest. I branched out from just the knit stitch (purling is fun!), worked my way through a few basic projects, joined a Boston area Stich-n-Bitch group and learned how gratifying it can be to make something lasting with one’s own hands. Not to mention the very far fetched but mighty fulfilling idea that I could make my own clothes, if I absolutely had to. Let’s not discuss the practical implications of woolen undergarments – I like this delusion too much.

madelinetosh(Madelinetosh, in Forestry – mmmmmm)

In this way, knitting has become one of my main outlets – alongside cooking and blogging – to get myself out of my head, my head out of science, and reconnect with the creator inside of me. However, I had been in bit of a rut. Many, many baby blankets and graduation scarves later, I had forgotten how much fun it is to try something completely knew, maybe a bit outside of my comfort zone, as well as the pride that comes from generating a beautiful accessory (for me even!) from just a ball of yarn. Enter Mere, my blogging buddy and virtual knitting club companion (read about our previous knitting goals/projects here and here).

the cowl begins(It’s beginning to look like a Honey Cowl)

Working with someone new, who has a similar skill set and is also interested in branching out has been so much fun. The socks from March were a huge challenge and we were both excited to tackle the Honey Cowl in April – it seems straightforward and easier to finish within a month. Note: The socks remain unfinished (I am admittedly ashamed). I’m still 2/3 done with my third sock – I decided to rip the first one out because it was too big and do it right, but let me tell you, motivation to finish the third sock of a pair is hard to come by.

finished cowl(The finished product, properly waffle-like and practically glowing)

April came and went and both of us were suspiciously silent about our cowl progress on our blogs, and on Instagram, where we had been so excitedly vocal about starting our projects. As the month came and went we chatted behind the scenes about piles of work, distractions from our knitting goals and maybe making May a ‘catch-up’ month – with a small, if any, project of it’s own.

cowl long(In natural light the greens are even more impressive – worn long…)

So, I wanted to catch you all up (especially you, Destination : Macaron, with your overflowing craftiness) with my recent progress, several projects of which are finally wrapping up. Plus, plans for the summer. Because I clearly haven’t learned anything about overbooking yet – and there are baby birthdays coming up!

cowl double wrap(…and short. I profusely apologize for my strap issues here.)

April’s project, the Honey Cowl, was an absolute delight. I used the pattern as an excuse to splurge on two skeins of Madelinetosh DK in a deep, vibrant, subtly variegated shade of green, called Forestry. Not only was the color amazing, but the wool itself was soft, springy and knit up like a dream. I worked on the cowl solely on my shuttle rides to and from work; it was a great pattern for on-the-go knitting while listening toRadioLab podcasts. This cowl is a new favorite; I have already worn it several times (San Diego gets cold at night!) and received multiple compliments. Between the ease of knitting, the loveliness of the yarn itself and the functionality and beauty of the finished project, I can tell I’ll be making and wrapping up a lot of Honey Cowls for Christmas this year.

hats(May’s project – the Hurricane Hat, sized down for toddler heads. There may be a few more where these came from, just sayin’)

For May, Mere and I decided we would slow down, catch up on our cowls (and socks, ahem) and, make a hat – a simple weekend project that would at least push our monthly knitting club forward. With two new babies in the family, I decided to make two or, more precisely, two happened while racing through season 4 of Battlestar Galactica on Memorial Day (maybe a bit behind the times but so happy to be finally catching up!). The hat pattern is a modified Hurricane Hat, using size 6 needles to slim it down for precious toddler heads. Here Walker is modeling one of my prototypes. He is about the age that my niece and nephew will be around Christmas, so I’m glad my arbitrary length and decreases seem to fit! There is something incredibly gratifying about already working towards stockpiling gifts.

walker hat detail(More Walker, more hat detail)

So with the exception of my third sock problem (this weekend maybe? Finally?), my knitting is all caught up! Which means I can turn my sights towards summer. Mere and I, although ambitious, are not blind, and rather than choose monthly projects during this busy season have chosen instead a ‘summer vacation’ project. Toys. For babies (We are both blessed with beautiful nieces and nephews). I cannot show you which ones, because they will be gifts for two almost-1 year olds at the end of August, and I’m pretty sure my brothers and sisters-in-law read my blog (although anyone who has gotten this far in this post deserves a medal). I promise to reward all of your patience with adorable toddler + toy photos then. Here are a few to tide you over. In the meantime, happy crafting!

wesley(Recent nephew shot – this kid clearly needs a handknit toy, right?!)

If you are here and have a bit of extra time on your hands, take a look at these beautiful yarns and share your must have shades – it is so hard to choose!

anna(And my niece, also reaching out for a toy!)