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{this moment} – 4/24/15

April 24, 2015

Laura’s Blog Entry

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Joining Amanda.

Yarn Along – 4/22/15

April 22, 2015

Laura’s Blog Entry

I am between books at the moment, but I have a new knitting project!

I am starting Another Door Opens, a shawl pattern by Sara Bauer. She produces the Yarns at Yin Hoo podcast, which I greatly enjoy. She features knitting, some homesteading, cooking, restoration of her reproduction Chinese tea house home, with a touch of poetry and literature thrown in. Sara has a lovely and gentle style to her presentation and has the heart of a true teacher.

I chose to do a solid version of the shawl with a variegated border. I love the different textures of the sections in the shawl. They really shine in a solid.

Yarn is Manos del Uruguay Fino in color 404, Watered Silk. I will be using Noro Silk Garden Sock in color 279 for the border. I CANNOT WAIT to dip into that skein, I can tell you that.

Sometime you need something fresh on the needles. This is for a gift way later in the year. I can take my time, which is a good thing because I haven’t knit anything like this in a long time and it is taking all my concentration to count and to yarn over and to slip stitch markers. I am loving it!

Joining Ginny in her Knit Along.

This post includes affiliate links. To learn more about our affiliate relationship please click on the “About” page below the header.

{this moment} – 4/17/15

April 17, 2015

Laura’s Blog Entry

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Joining Amanda.

Paleo Dutch Apple Pancake

April 14, 2015

Laura’s Blog Entry

Let’s cut to the chase.

Breakfast is a real challenge when you can’t eat grain. I enjoy eggs and smoothies, but sometimes I want something else. Here’s one solution I’ve found. A Paleo Dutch Apple Pancake. No grain. No added sugar. Except if you drizzle with a touch of maple syrup or honey.

This is my favorite thing to make in my cast iron skillet. I have a hand-me-down 10” Wagner brand skillet. It works great for the first step of this recipe, cooking down the apples. I do a large batch of them ahead, and then freeze individual servings.

After cooking the apples, you can just finish the pancake right in the same pan, popping it in the oven for a final browning.

Here’s the recipe, if you are interested.

Paleo Dutch Apple Pancake

Requires an oven-safe skillet. Seasoned cast iron works great!

Apple Mixture:
1 apple, peeled (optional) and diced
I T butter
Sprinkle of ground cinnamon

I usually cook five apples at a time, then divide them into ½ cup freezer containers and freeze for future use. I recently began dicing without peeling. Much faster and tastes just as good!

Pancake Batter: (Single Serving)
1 egg
1 heaping T almond butter (any neutral-flavor nut butter would work)
⅛ t. baking powder

Optional Toppings:
Maple syrup
Honey

Preheat skillet on medium heat. Melt butter. Add diced apples, cover, and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. As they begin to soften add a generous sprinkle of ground cinnamon and distribute well.

As apples are cooking, mix your pancake batter. In a small bowl, combine egg, almond butter and baking powder. I use a fork and really mix well. It takes some effort to get the almond butter incorporated. Also, break up any clumps of baking powder to evenly distribute it. (A mixer works well, but I hate to dirty one for a single serving!) Set batter aside.

Once apples are finished, remove excess and leave one serving in hot pan (about ½ cup cooked apples.)

Preheat broiler on high heat.

Top hot apple mixture with batter. I try to pull my apples in toward the center of the pan as the pancake doesn’t quite go to the edges.

Cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes to start the pancake setting. Transfer skillet to broiler. Broil approximately 3 minutes. Keep an eye on it. As soon as it begin to brown on top it is done. Wrap the pan handle when you take it out. It stays hot!

Transfer to a plate and drizzle with syrup or honey. I only use a tiny bit and it is plenty sweet!

Prepare Ahead Instructions:
Thaw apple mixture. Preheat skillet. Add a small amount of butter to keep pancake from sticking. Warm apples slightly, then proceed as above with pancake mixture.

Yarn Along – 4/8/15

April 8, 2015

Laura’s Blog Entry

Hi-ho everyone! How’s your knitting treating you?

Mine is exceptionally well behaved lately. Except that I miscalculated and put in too many increases in my sock. Because I thought it was going to be much longer. Oh well. Only took a short time to rip back carefully. Nothing an episode of Edwardian Farm couldn’t cure. Have you watched any of these British shows? I am addicted. Tales from the Green Valley. Tudor Monastery Farm. And now I am on to the aforementioned Edwardian Farm.

Living history, people. Living. History. Youtube, I love you pretty hard.

But back to the knitting. I am weighing the sock carefully to know when to start the ribbing (and to allow enough to complete the afterthought heel).

Update on the pooling I mentioned in a previous post: While the colors were pooling on the foot at 56 stitches, I am happy to report that as I increased for the calf up to 64, the colors are ever so well behaved! Since that is the part of the sock that is visible anyway, hooray for perfect color alignment!

FYI: The yarn is Knitpicks Hawthorn Fingering weight in color Vancouver. The pattern is just a basic, toe up, afterthought heel sock in a three/one rib.

I was intrigued by the book Sylvia’s Farm: The Journal of an Improbable Shepherd, that Ginny was reading, so I ordered it in from the library. It is an enjoyably slow read. Each chapter is only a few pages and is a stand-alone essay of sorts. I like that I don’t have to rush to get to the next plot point. It is helping me slow down a bit. I tend to be full throttle or crashed these day. I’d like to find a middle ground again.

Joining Ginny in her Yarn Along.

This post includes affiliate links. To learn more about our affiliate relationship please click on the “About” page below the header.

Tribute Video to Apollo Missions

April 6, 2015

NOTE FROM LAURA: If you happen to be new to the blog, my husband Neil, who is a super creative person, occasionally writes a post about a creative project he has been working on. I asked him to write about this one. I am always inspired with how he spends his downtime learning and growing his skills. He works in motion graphics – which is basically computer animation. Enjoy!

Neil’s Blog Entry

As a creative, it is very important to me to continue to better myself. This usually means doing tutorials, reading software manuals, and/or looking at animation and effects that inspire me and trying to figure out how they were created. To that end, I like to have a sort of side project going on, so when I’ve got some down time I don’t get stale.

Most recently, I started animating the various mission patches worn by the Apollo astronauts during their manned missions to the moon. I’ve always been interested in space exploration. For the longest time, as a kid, wanted to be an astronaut. But I’ve always been slightly claustrophobic, and considering the spacecraft that existed back then were only a little bigger than a closet, that dream never materialized.

Anyway, I started the project at the NASA website. What a treasure trove that turned out to be! They have everything – high resolution images, archival video, audio clips and free 3D models. Plus, since it’s NASA – which is part of the government – it’s all in public domain and free to use!

I was able to download images of the twelve Apollo mission patches as well as the main Apollo program patch. I carefully looked at each patch and imagined what they would look like if they were in motion. How would the various elements in each design move in and out? Was there a visually interesting way to have all the separate elements of the patch all coalesce into the final static image?

The eagle featured in the Apollo 11 patch presented quite a challenge – both in a design sense and in a 3D modeling sense. First of all, of all the mission patches I wanted to somehow incorporate the lunar module (LEM) sitting on the surface of the moon – which was not a part of the patch itself. Secondly, I wasn’t sure I could animate a 3D eagle very well. I’m fairly good with hard surface objects like machines and space ships; but I’m not all that great (read: crappy) at organic things like people and animals and yes, eagles. I had an eagle model that I attempted to animate landing on the moon and striking the pose as seen in the mission patch. Wow. Did that suck.

So I asked my friend Evan – who helped me with some of the animation in my Captain America Fan Film I did last year – to assist me in rigging the eagle model for easier animation. The subsequent animation was better but the problem was also the model itself. It was a very low quality model I got free from the internet. And unless I wanted to spend about $100 buying a high quality model, this was the model I had to deal with. So I moved on to Apollo 12 thinking that a creative solution would present itself once I stopped trying to think about it. This process usually works well for me. The less I think about something, the more and better ideas seem to just pop up in my brain.

Anyway, the idea came to me to include a shot of the LEM sitting on the surface of the moon. Then the command service module (CSM) flies by and while it’s in full frame, hiding the LEM, the LEM changes into the eagle. From Eagle to eagle. Get it? Pretty cool idea, huh? So with that in mind I only had to do some very subtle animation on the eagle. But then I was still saddled with my poor quality 3D model, so I decided to create the eagle in 2D by stitching together several reference photographs. In the end, I like how the eagle looked and I was also able incorporate the LEM into the animation.

The rest of the patches had their individual challenges when it came to animation and modeling. The horses in Apollo 13 gave me a headache – I was thinking of doing the same 2D effect that I had done for the eagle – until I remembered that we already had a galloping horse animation at work from a previous job. Upon searching our 3D model archive at the office I also discovered that we had a bust of the Greek god Apollo – which I needed for Apollo 17.

After animating the patches I needed to texture the elements. My initial idea was to texture the various 3D elements to match the look of the actual patches. For example, the CSM in the Apollo 1 patch was white, so I textured my 3D CSM white to match. But much later on in the process, we took a family trip to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC and I found myself standing in front of an actual CSM and LEM. Inspired, I took a bunch of reference photos, and when I got back home I re-textured the models to be more realistic. Not photorealistic by any means… but I wanted them to look a little bit closer to the real thing than the stylized versions depicted on the patches. So the CSM and LEM were given a more realistic look. And the flat, solid colors of the text and the graphic elements became dynamically reflective metals and other surfaces.

Whenever possible I tried to match the lighting that was suggested by the original patches. And when there wasn’t a specific light direction or style I just created my lights to give the scene a cool look.

The last step in the process was gathering some mission-specific sound files from the NASA website and string them together in an interesting way along with a music bed I had created years ago. I then added some text denoting the launch dates of the individual missions and a nice sappy “thank you” to NASA at the end. Oh, and the only thing that NASA does copyright is their logo; so I’m pretty much using it illegally – but I’m praying for grace and forgiveness from their space lawyers. And there you have it.

I hope you enjoy watching!

Still with no pithy catchphrase,

Neil

Yarn Along – 4/1/15

April 1, 2015

Laura’s Blog Entry

Chugging along on the Aise shawl. (Yarn is Knit Picks Shadow laceweight in color Midnight Heather.)

Going much faster on straight needles! (It’s hard to photograph a dark shawl along with a bright book cover.)

I am browsing through this book: Healing ADD by Dr. Daniel G. Amen. It includes LOTS of brain science and brain scan photos. I understood that ADD differs from person to person, but Dr. Amen has pinpointed symptoms down to six specific types.

I really like that he includes diet and lifestyle changes as a part of his treatment plans. I haven’t gotten into the brain exercises yet that he recommends, but I hope we will be able to apply some of those and see what kind of results we get. As we head toward high school graduation we are looking to zero in on some new helpful strategies to ensure a positive start next fall.

Are you knitting anything totally sweet?

Joining Ginny and her Yarn Along.

This post includes affiliate links. To learn more about our affiliate relationship please click on the “About” page below the header.

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