Monday, December 31, 2012


Addendum, December 22, 2013
Since I first posted this nearly one year ago, it has become the most visited blog post, with 119 hits to date. The rate seems to have picked up recently, with the holiday season. I am curious to find out why. So, if you would be so kind as to leave a comment as to how you found this post, why you might have found it, and what you intend to do with the information herein, I would be truly appreciative. Happy Holidays!

Since September of 2009, I have been transcribing several notebooks filled with my dad's handwritten, biographical musings. About a year ago, I was typing up a short section where he reminisced about three traditional Swedish dishes from his childhood.

One of these — gryn— I had heard about. The other two — ost-kaka and greda-kaka — were unfamiliar. Out of curiosity, I contacted my Aunt Jean, the wife of my dad's younger brother Vincent, to see if she might have versions of recipes for making these desserts. She did, and sent them to me.

During my three-week break between fall and winter quarter, I decided I wanted to try to make at least one of these recipes. So today, I finally got around to making ost-kaka, or ostakaka as Aunt Jean entitled her recipe card.

The only ingredient that I had to go out of my way to acquire was rennet. I knew that it is used in cheese-making, and as luck would have it, there is a store that sells supplies for making beer and cheese right just up the street; I pass it every day on my way to and from campus.

In the course of making the recipe, I discovered that it was somewhat cryptic on one particular step. After mixing the rennet into the milk, it said "Let stand and drain off whey." First, how long should I let it stand? A Google search turned up this recipe which said about one hour. (This same recipe also included a specific temperature range for heating the milk. My aunt's recipe merely instructed "Heat the milk to lukewarm.")

All well and good. But then, it wasn't clear how I should go about draining the whey. I could tell that the milk had curdled — it was firmer and less liquid — but I couldn't see that the whey had separated out. It wasn't like gravy where the fat rises to the top and is easily poured off.

I gently stirred the curdled milk to break it up and see if that worked. I was then able to use a large spoon to gradually remove the whey into a separate bowl. My Google search also turned another recipe that suggested using a knife to cut the curds into squares to free up the whey.

Ultimately, I probably let the milk stand for nearly two hours and eventually ladled off more than 3 cups of whey (a significant amount considering I had started with half a gallon of milk).

So, without further ado, here is my revised recipe for Ostakaka.

1/2 gallon whole milk
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. liquid rennet
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream

In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup cold milk with flour; add the rennet. Heat the remaining milk to lukewarm (98–102° F). Mix the warm milk into the milk/flour mixture. Let stand for at least one hour. With a knife, cut the curds into squares; drain or spoon off whey.
Beat together eggs, cream and sugar; mix into milk mixture.
Pour into an 8" x 11" Pyrex baking dish. Bake at 350° for 1-1/2 hours or until knife comes out clean.
Top with lingonberry preserves and serve.

The result is a light, custard-like dish. By itself, it is relatively bland, somewhat sweet. The lingonberry topping definitely adds some flavor, and is slightly tart. Some other fruit preserve could be substituted with good results.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The (Continuing) Saga of the Silk Sock(s)

Before I started composing this post, I reviewed previous posts that had included mention of my endeavor to knit a pair of silk socks. I was surprised to see that I had written about it four times, beginning just over a year ago, followed in quick succession here and here, and then a long gap until a couple of months ago.

Well, I am happy to report that the first sock has been completed to my satisfaction . . .

. . . and I have begun the second sock.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"High-Fiber Diet" and Other Art

A few weeks ago, a couple of friends and I visited the Bellevue Art Museum on December's First Free Friday. In addition to viewing the three current exhibits, we also listened to a talk given by one of the artists, Nikki McClure.

We perused pretty thoroughly two of the exhibits, but because the museum closed at 8:30, we kind of rushed through the third.

In order to take more time with the third exhibit, and also because I thought my husband would like to see all the exhibits, we went down there today.

We started out looking at the bamboo art. One piece barely looked like bamboo. It had been daubed with clay, and then the excess clay wiped away.

Most of the pieces were symmetric . . .

. . . and elegant . . .

. . . but not all.

All the pieces, however, showed a high degree of artistic vision and mastery of the technical challenges of the medium.

The second exhibit featured cut paper artworks by local artist Nikki McClure. As someone who has spent her share of time wielding an X-acto knife, these pieces are amazing in their detail. She must buy blades by the case, because I know from experience that they don't stay really sharp for very long, and these pieces obviously require a blade with a really sharp point.

Some more than others.

The third exhibit, the one I had kind of hurried through, was more of a mixed bag, but there were still some interesting pieces. This one I found very poignant. According to the accompanying plaque, it is a collection of objects found in the artist's father's bedside table after he (the father) died, and the children were cleaning out his apartment.

Rather than simply dispose of them, the artist took them and encased them in tiny white seed beads. Their functionality thus removed, they take on an otherworldly, ghostly appearance.

This piece had the baskets arranged in sort of a line, so that one sort of flowed into the next, in descending order by size. It was more effective than the jumble in the photo. I had thought of taking a picture. Now I wish I had.

 This next piece is woven from paper. The artist cuts the strips using a pasta maker.

 These pieces appealed to me as a quilter.

While I was looking at them, and taking a few photographs, a docent approached me and showed me a smaller piece that used the same motifs and design as in this piece. She showed me the back of the piece, and how the machine stitching was very neat and precise, and nearly as artistic as the front.

Here are some other close-ups.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

'Tis the Season

Some time ago, I made up a number of small foundation-pieced blocks, from patterns from a book called Paper Piece a Merry Christmas. I don't recall what prompted me to make these blocks or what I intended to do with them. But about a week ago, I was rummaging around in my studio and came across them.

Having a fair amount of free time right now, what with being on school break, I pulled out some ribbon and leftover batting, and whipped up about 10 or 12 two-sided Christmas ornaments.


It appears, however, that sometime ago I disposed of the book, quite possibly when we moved in 2009. This is not the first time, nor probably the last, when I will go looking for a book (quilting or otherwise) and discover that it is no longer in my collection.

I looked in the online catalogs of the nearby library systems, to no avail. I did succeed in finding it listed with a couple of library systems a little farther away. One of them is the Kitsap library system, which has a copy at its Bremerton branch. And, wouldn't you know it, I was just in Bremerton two days ago!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Falling Leaves

I designed and made this little quilt several years ago, in a sort of make-it-up-as-you-go-along fashion.

If I recall correctly, I had noticed that I had a variety of autumn-colored leaf-print fabrics in my stash and sewed up several maple-leaf blocks. Then, of course, I had to go get the right background fabric — I tend not to have much in the way of yellow fabrics.

I didn't have a design wall back then, but the quilt is small enough that it didn't matter. I probably just arranged them on a table more or less the way I wanted them, and then proceeded to add appropriately sized yellow strips, trimming as necessary as I went along.

 Before adding the scrappy binding, I marked the top with a simple leaf pattern, connecting the individual leaves with short curved lines to create a "vine-y" look, and hand quilted it with contrasting brown thread.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


We put up our wreath on our front door on December 1. It always goes up early in December; for the last several years, we have purchased it at the Phinney Ridge Winter Festival. We've learned to bring old newspapers to lay it on in the car; the wreath is always sticky with sap.

The Christmas letter is pretty much done. I just need to print out copies.

Monday evening, we put up the tree.

One of the things I like best about December is getting out my Christmas music CDs. I have several, that I have either purchased myself or have been given to me over the years. There are two, however, that I never get tired of listening to — A Celtic Celebration, Volume One and Volume Two, by the Night Heron Consort.

I bought the first one more than 10 years ago, maybe as many as 15, at a little gift shop in downtown Woodinville. I think the shop was called From the Heart; it closed a few years ago. The second volume I ordered directly from Night Heron's web site. You can get them through Amazon now, but that hasn't always been the case.

There's just something about the arrangement of the songs, and the particular instruments, that makes them especially appealing.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Campus Art

I've noticed during previous quarters at school that, toward the end of the term, interesting things may suddenly appear around campus. Often, these are in the vicinity of the Art building, either inside or out.

A couple of weeks ago, this little fellow appeared on the halfway landing of the stairs between the first and second floors.

Then, earlier today, I had occasion to go to the bookstore, where I happened upon this sculpture.

It appears that the 3-D Design class has been busy.

After leaving the bookstore, I was heading back to the Art building. Outside the theater building, I saw this, somewhat disturbing, critter.


Friday, November 30, 2012

One More Week . . .

. . . of classes, then just one class session during finals week for final project presentations in Graphic Design II.

Yesterday, in Graphic Design, we each presented our preliminary designs for the logo and wayfinding for a fictional high-tech convention.

The technology I chose is MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems). As part of my research, I looked at all kinds of images on the interwebs, such as this and this and this. I based my logo concepts on some of the images I found. This is the one that other people agreed was the best.

There were some suggestions as to how to improve it, so there is still work to do.

The other class that I'm going down to the wire in is Flash. Today I spent a good 6 hours working on the final project for that class. The assignment is to create an nonlinear, interactive maze with sound effects.

Here is the opening image for my project.
When I presented my idea, I was told that I had essentially recreated Frogger. Not ever having been much into playing video games, I could only shrug.

Today, I had to make an adjustment to my original concept today, in the interests of completing the project. I had wanted to have two lanes of traffic moving in each direction for the chicken to dodge. However, I simply was making no headway toward figuring out how to combine and synchonize an animated movie clip and a button with a hit state. Finally, I gave up and went with a static maze.

It's not nearly as interesting, but I just couldn't keep beating my head against that wall. 

I haven't quite given up though. I'm still working on a test file, and if I can get it to work, I may still try to rework the project.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


The aftermath.

To be dealt with tomorrow.


Most years, I make a turkey at Thanksgiving, regardless of how many people are around to eat it. Usually, I buy a bird and pop it in my mom's turkey roaster. Pretty easy and straightforward.

This year, I'm experimenting.

I subscribe to the weekly newsletter from The Splendid Table. Usually, I will glance at that week's recipe and decide it's too complicated, the ingredients are too unusual to buy for just one recipe and then just sit in the cupboard, or it calls for tomatoes.

A couple weeks ago, however, it featured a recipe for Roast Turkey with 40 Cloves of Garlic and White Wine Pan Gravy. That got my attention.

Preparation for this meal started yesterday, when I prevailed on Tim to make the base for the gravy.

I also made the seasoning rub for the turkey, as well as a pecan pie (no corn syrup!) and rumballs.

All this cooking made for a large amount of dirty pots and pans, that had to be washed before I could commence cooking this morning.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hotel Logo

The pace at school is accelerating somewhat, now that there are only three weeks of remaining, not including finals week.

So far, so good, I think. I haven't received grades on my midterm projects in Flash and Graphic Design (Logo and Identity), but I believe I did well. In my Drawing class, I received something like 200 or 201 points of a possible 203.

In Graphic Design, the assignment was to re-brand an existing five-star hotel, and design a new logo and new website home page.

For my hotel, I selected the Grand Hyatt in Santiago. In researching images, I found a fair number of photographs of its 24-story atrium with this really cool window at the top.

That window was the inspiration for my logo and the name I gave the hotel, which means "star" in Spanish.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Every once in awhile, my husband and I like to have mimosas with our Sunday breakfast. And when we do this, I insist on making fresh-squeezed orange juice.

It's just so much better than packaged, processed orange juice.

But it was always such a production to use an old-style reamer.

So, awhile back, we were in a kitchen-supply store and saw this product.

Have I mentioned that I have a weakness for kitchen gadgets? While I'm all for versatility, sometimes it's just nice to have a single-use tool that does a particular job really well.

For instance, my cherry pitter comes in handy when I want to make cherry pie.

Anyway, this juicer, while smaller than what we would have liked, being designed for lemons, looked as though it would make the task of preparing fresh orange juice much easier.

And, if we make a point of using smaller oranges, it indeed fulfills its potential.


However, I'm thinking of asking Santa for the larger orange juicer.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I first noticed this piece of student-created public art at Shoreline Community College a while ago, and I still get a kick out of it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Flash Midterm Project

For our midterm project in my Flash class, the assignment was to create two web banner ads, for a product, service, or movie (2 of the 3).

I did an ad for Full Circle organic grocery delivery

and Anna's Honey

Creating these was much more fun than I had anticipated.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Crabby Witches

Quite a few years ago, I bought this really fun fabric that we called Crabby Witches at the place I used to work at. I have heard that it was reissued because it was so popular, but I never saw it again. A Google search turned up this similar iteration.

Last year, I finally decided to make a quilt with it. I started with a design from this book written by a friend and former co-worker.

I didn't have quite enough fabric to fussy-cut enough squares for the quilt described in the book, so I went off on my own tangent. Along the way, I added the narrow sashing with the small sashing squares.

I finished sewing the top just about a year ago. It would have been done sooner, but I have this weird preference for hand quilting my projects. And, I also have a bad habit of having multiple projects going at any one time, so I'll work on this one for awhile, and then that one, and then maybe the other one over there. . . . Which means that more time elapses by the calendar before any of them are done, rather than if  I had simply worked on one until it was done.

 But where's the fun in that?

Anyway, I quilted the last bit about a week ago, sewed the binding on over the weekend, and handstitched it to the back over the last two or three evenings of TV-watching.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Scary Pumpkins!

On Sunday, Tim and I finally got around to carving our Halloween pumpkins. This year, the two pumpkin-ettes that our garden produced join them.

In the interest of full disclosure, this photo was run through Photoshop to make it more Halloween-y.

The original was taken at night, but on Portrait setting, so the flash went off. I adjusted the Brightness/Contrast, which darkened everything to an appropriately spooky shade. However, then the ghosts in the window disappeared. So I created a selection layer to make them just a little more visible.

My classes are paying off!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Silk Sox Revisited, and other knitting

In 2011, I wrote about knitting a silk sock, here and here and here.

It went badly enough, that I put that particular yarn aside, and knit some other things.

I knit a hat for my husband, with the alpaca yarn he gave me last Christmas.

I used this pattern, which is a top-down style. Another cap I had made him was bottom-up, and never quite covered his ears.

Then I made a pair of socks for myself using Mighytsock yarn. The colorway I used is called Wildflowers, which I don't see on the web page. Last night, I kitchenered the second toe, and wore them today.

Have I mentioned that I have a weakness for variegated yarns?

So, after nearly a year, I'm ready to take another run at the silk socks. I made a couple of changes, with the intent that they will fit better. I cast on more stitches (110 instead of 96) and cast on with the German Twisted Cast On, which is supposed to be more elastic than a regular long-tail cast on.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Just happened to go outside around 6:30 this morning. Saw this to the west.

Every time I see a rainbow, it always seems magical.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Weekend Wandering

Last weekend, Tim and I drove down to Lincoln City to rendezvous with his family for their mom's 85th birthday. On the way down, we turned right at Olympia and meandered through southwest Washington on a more scenic route than I-5.

One of the towns we passed through was South Bend, where we found this gem of a courthouse.

It had some absolutely gorgeous stained glass, such as this round fixture above the rotunda right when you entered.

South Bend is the county seat of Pacific County, and a lot of the stained glass windows featured this motif with the initials "PC." 

There was also this elaborate tile design on the rotunda floor.

We might have missed seeing all this if I hadn't happened to glance left to see the courthouse up the hill a few blocks, resplendent in all its early 20th-century architectural grandeur.