Monday, December 19, 2016

Kathy's Monday Q&A

Let's join in on Kathy's fun. It's full of holiday cheer and well, just Kathy cheer. :)

  • Have you ever been stuck in an airport?  For how long? Where?
    • I was stuck about 3 years ago in the Mexico City Airport for 5 hours longer than we expected. My son fell asleep leaning on us and drooled. I finished knitting a shawl and started a pair of socks. It could've been worse.
  • Have you eaten any holiday goodies yet?
    • Yes. Holiday parties have been filled with tasty things with friends. I'm trying to exercise regularly to break even ... trying ...
  • If you made pairs of socks with all the stash you have for socks, how many new pair would you create?
    • I have a HUGE sock yarn stash. I would say I have 25 - 30 pairs in the wings waiting to be knit. 
  • What is the best yarn store you have ever been to?
    • I love Imagiknit here in the city, Knitterly in Petaluma and when I went to NYC I found love at PurlSoho.
  • Have you seen anyone wear a Santa hat this Holiday season ? 
    • Yes. It was sparkling!
  • Have you played a fun game and you want to share it? 
    • One less heard of I think is called Forbidden Desert. It's a collaborative game. You try to rebuild your broken ship in leave the desert before you die in a sandstorm. Trust me, it's fun.
  • Peppermint or gingerbread? 
    • Gingerbread. I like it soft and chewy not so much on the snappy side.
  • Have you cancelled a subscription lately?  How did the company respond? 
    • I haven't recently. 
  • What should I bring to a 90 year olds birthday celebration? 
    (they said no gifts, but I just have to)
    • Chocolate, champagne and/or flowers.
  • Tell us a favorite Holiday gift you recall from your childhood please.
    • a fish aquarium. I know my parents saved a lot of money for me to get one when I was in first grade. It wasn't fancy, but we had guppies in class for science and I told my Dad how much I loved them. I couldn't believe it. Best present ever.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A piece of cake ...

Hello. My name is Ellen if you follow me on Instagram you'll probably notice I have been baking ... a lot. I baked 3 cakes in 2 days along with 2 dozen cookies for The Kid's guitar recital this weekend.

The past few months I have taken to late night baking. I think at some point I realized my sleep patterns were not ... improving and that I wasn't going to make them worse, but I was going to roll with it.

There are simply not enough hours in the day to do all my baking in the day time or day of. I often don't get to reclaim the kitchen until 8:30ish anyways -- and that is when the insanity magic happens.

First up The Almond Sheet cake from Food52 with it's lovely frosting. This frosting is for those that want all the fluffiness of a cream cheese frosting, but have a child that has great disdain for all things cream cheese.

It's not a fancy cake. Almond Sheet Cake with Ermine Frosting. But it's simplicity brings the joy. It's more of a vanilla with a hint of almond - cake when I make it, since I don't have almond extract at home, but a small vanilla extract making factory. (Have I ever shown you my jars? It's shelf real estate of vanilla beans and booze and masking tape. ha!)

Anyways check it out, I've had a lot of good feedback so far.

My other 2 cakes were The Clementine Cake as done by Smitten Kitchen derived from Nigella Lawson and then A Southern Style, Raspberry, Cinnamon Pecan buttermilk coffee cake.

'Tis the Clementine season. Dive in. My friend, HM said that Smitten Kitchen's post wasn't a ringing endorsement, but I HAD to try, simply because it's such a unique concept. And guess what? It's Gluten-Free. I don't have the prettiest picture of the insides because I inverted it on a beveled plate, and it sunk in the center a bit. But here's a close up of the crumb.

The coffee cake was good too. Not moon and stars good, but a solid cake. I think I'd put some chocolate chips or something too next time? But my husband thinks the Blueberry Crumb Cake is still the winner.

Whats your favorite cake to eat or make?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Kathy's Q&A

Kathy wants to have some fun and who are we to say no to Kathy?

*Can you knit something by *heart*I can memorize a pattern while I'm in it. I can kind of knit socks by heart, but I generally do a quick look up for turning a heel. I finally memorized how to kitchener stitch.
*Would you like some yarn for Chirstmas? A good girl would say no, I have plenty of yarn. but in my heart of secret hearts I always want sock yarn.
*Did you shovel any snow this December? HAHAHAHAHAHA! Kathy, I wore sandals in public on Saturday.
*Can you make a bow for a package or gift? I can make an ugly one. But a basic bow, not one of those 40 point star things. I struggle to get the ribbon to divide the package in quarters. I'm not sure how to describe that, traditional intersecting ribbon style. You know who is the BEST gift wrapper? My husband. Yeah. go figure. I shop so it's good this is his secret talent. I like a contributer.
*Do you buy used books or new? I like both. I was just in a used book store today at lunch. I can get lost in there.
*Have you seen a living Nativity? No I haven't. Maybe with the kids at midnight mass when I was a little kid. Which wasn't really at midnight by the way. But I remember I couldn't wait to eat tamales when we got back to my Great Aunt's. I remember telling her I preferred Christmas masses over Easter because the decorations and stories were better. I had issues with Easter. What? I was a precocious child! Wow way to take me down memory lane!
*Have you ever received home baked cookies in the mail? No. Always in person.
*When was the last time your toes froze and your nose was red? Every night when I climb into bed for the toes. My nose? Last soccer match of the season November 12th, big rain storm.
*Did you know that Christmas and Hanukkah are intertwined this year? I did. Only because my friends told me. 
*Do you love to get a Christmas card? Yes. I do. I'm horrible about sending them.
BONUS FUN FACT: I bought a wreath on Friday to hang on the front door before our family came by. The existing nail on our front door is too high and doesn't align. Then I was out of nails. Then the wreath was just hanging out on a kitchen chair, so I had to put it on the back staircase. So guess what? It's still there hanging out ...

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Tale of Red and Green

I promised that I would have some knitting photos and I do!

I really did finish those Summer Socks. (in November, ha!) for my friend's daughter. Such fun and happy colors. They reminded us of watermelon cocktails back then -- though this sweet young lady it probably too smart for underage cocktails. Her personality is something that would make you all grateful. Someone so kind and considerate, so polite and surprisingly, refreshingly socially and politically aware at the young age of 15. 

I don't expect all youth to be such go-getters (I had to tell her Mom and Dad, that this is not what they should expect of all children, lest they hold the rest of society to such standards). But it is pretty awesome knowing that our society will be comprised of people like Ms. J.

Hope people. Hope.

Here's the thing. I'm not sure if I'm giving her the socks. She has big feet. It's a bit of a tease her friends and family have for her, which is why I thought it would be fun to knit her socks. (Also I knit some for her Mom -- though I need to repair them, finally found the scrap yarn to do so!) But Ms. J's socks are ... uneven. 

For some reason, I was thinking I'd try a short cuff and got with 6? rows of ribbing on the first sock. By the time (it was a very long time) I got to Sock #2 I was back in vanilla sock auto-pilot mode and I went back to my usual *10 row cuff. I didn't notice this discrepancy until ... yep you guessed it. I had completed sock #2. sigh.

Attention to detail, perhaps not. I do like them. I didn't make the stripes match on both socks on purpose. I am not sure which sock knitter was doing this mismatch on purpose in the spring, but I loved the unique funky feel the patterned sock yarn was giving when you just ... knit and didn't try for the matchy match.

Anyhow, do you think she'll be offended? I hate wasting a pair of handknit socks. She could at least fart around them at home. The Kid and I thought it would be nice to maybe knit her a follow-up pair with one of her signature colors bright electric blue.

What do you think?

Meanwhile back in nervous-hands land I started my annual pair of Christmas socks. Another thing I picked up from the Knitters Blogosphere. I love it. It's yarn from The Cozy Knitter on Etsy. Happy stuff -- I'm buying Christmas yarn a year in advance, it's sad I know. There's other knitting stuff too, when time permits. But this at least is portable.

I just want to thank everyone for such kind words last post. I hope I support your spirits half as much as you support mine. I agree with you all. We move forward without our heads stuck in the sand. We do the work, and we appreciate the great and good that we have. And we yell at our kids to finish and take care of their school work. (wait, what? that wasn't in your comments? are you sure? shouldn't it be?)

*I think of the 10 row 1x1 rib cuff as the "Dear Sock Gods, please keep these socks up" cuff. LOL

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wading and Waiting

I'm wading in the holiday season. I'm trying to lose myself a bit in the bright lights and sparkle that are beginning to be thrown up around the city. I cling to the shiny visuals like tangible hope.

I eat another cookie. I find comfort in my stomach and in my hands.

I'm waiting for this year to end.

It's a time of transition. It's a busy time at work. There have been a lot of germs in my household. There have been a lot of headaches. But really it's really not too much to whine about. It's the grind.

I sleep either awkwardly or out of sheer exhaustion.

I think my mood is something that of an angst filled teen, impatient but overwhelmed with a case of the feels. If anything, this has allowed me to at least relate to The Kid a little easier as he goes through his own set of "things in this life."

That tiny person taking photos at the intersection is my angst filled teen. I saw him while I was eating lunch across the way.
There is a lot to sift through at the moment. What makes sense? At what point to do you move on and say, I am beginning to waste too much energy on trying to figure out something that I can't really control. I guess that sifting is figuring out what you can control.

I feel like there is some kind of knitting analogy buried in there, but I haven't got it.

And so my friends, we trod on. Wish good wishes for all in our hearts.

Knitting pics soon. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

This and that

I had to play yarn chicken to finish up my Banana Leaf. It's blocking ladies and gentlemen but it's done and it feels good, no matter what it ends up looking like ...

We are prepping for High School enrollment for my son. The process here in SFUSD is "fair" and tedious. It's like a part time job. I've been to a private school enrollment fair, a Parents for Public School (great organization) enrollment workshop for the district and various school tours. This is just getting started. He's interested in a selection school which means he'll also have to prepare a portfolio, which means my "nag-ometer" is going full throttle. However we are checking in to make sure we understand his perspective. I think once he realized his opinion matters in this decision he got more on board and a little less grumpy.

The Kid has also been working 2 soccer teams, school and club so that's basically 6 days a week of soccer. The school team made the playoffs and so I think this is our last week of that. Then we are back to one team until track starts up in the Spring. I'm really happy for him that he made the school team this year. He was too timid to try out in 6th and then didn't make it in 7th. I can tell that just making the team has made him feel really good.

I still haven't finished my summer socks or fixed my friend's sock, but I have been baking. I try to have a baked good for the team and their families every club match. (I just don't have the bandwidth to support the school team in the middle of the week.)

These are my son's new favorites, pinwheels. They taste pretty too :)

Then there is the labor of love that is English Muffins. I did a "formal" bake for my first go (Though I admit to using 2 parts All Purpose flour to 1 part Bread flour to manipulate the crumb/texture a bit.

3 days of labor? What does this mean?This means I did the starter one night, then let the dough rise another day in the fridge and then shaped and did a final 1.5 hour rise on the 3rd day. I tried to griddle them and then finish them in the oven.

It was some work, but I think I'll try it again to make a prettier version, but I also want to try one of the short cut recipes. Because, well, I want to know what the difference is.

What is keeping you busy? What is keeping you happy?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Sweet Surprise

Sometimes the insanity just hits me. I knew my husband was having some friends over for dinner and I was going to miss most of it. So I decided I should bake cookies Tuesday morning before work.

The boys didn't flinch and proceeded to get ready for school and work, while I set about something sweet. 

It begins with a sweet idea.

After baking these chocolate cake cookies for about 10 minutes you slap half a big marshmallow on them. And bake for a few more.

When they've finished cooking you're supposed to cover the marshmallow with Martha's frosting, thus creating a surprise. I had to go to work though and thought they'd be fine in a semi-surprised state.

My husband though reminded me of his food professional status and took over, opting for a glaze instead of frosting. (Left alone with any of my cooking or baking projects he WILL tinker and/or modify)

They are a very fun cookie.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Kathy B.'s Monday Q&A

I've been struggling to get a post up and out because I have been way too up my own butt with work and personal. I'm okay everyone's okay I'm just trying not to keep writing I'm busy. I have a million things to say, but I feel self conscious. I've been struggling to find my voice for a post, so why not just borrow someone else's? ;)

Kathy B's Q&A is such a great way to get me back posting and feel reconnected. Here we go! (and thanks Kathy B. for being you and keeping a positive vibe out there going...)

Would you rather have someone sit by you and teach you a knit skill, or watch something on you tube and learn?
I'd rather have someone show me. I'll settle for the Youtubes, but I'm old school, as long as it's someone I like.

What is the largest number of stitches you have ever had on a circular needle at one time?
I want to say something like 360? That twin leaf shawl thing was really really long...

Would you rather learn falconry or swim with a dolphin?
I'd rather swim with a dolphin, but no touching.

Coffeecake or cheesecake?
Oh coffee cake! I love to make them and eat them. My love of cheesecake sort of dissolved when I started making them. Though I am due to make one soon. (I try for once or twice a year, since it's such a crowd pleaser.)

Bacon or sausage?
What kind of torture question is this? I'm a meat eater. I believe in the business of bacon, we sometimes cut once slice to jazz up some braised greens or veggies. But sausage is so versatile as well. I can't decide. BOTH.

Do you use any solar energy? 
No, we don't own our apartment and we don't have any gear that's solar either.

Witchypoorides again or Henpecked.? (Blue Moon Sock Yarns)
I'm going with Witchy poo rides! Such fun colors and I am all for fun socks :) Oh heck who are we fooling, I'm for all kinds of socks.

How much does a wool cycling jersey cost today?
Dunno, but I had to look ... cheaper than making one!

What handknit gifts get the most usage per year, in your family?
Hats and handwarmers. My sister still wears a scarf or 2 I knit for her.

Apple butter or applesauce?
Pork chops and apple sauce. Hmm. I haven't had apple butter in a really really long time.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Some assembly required.

I'm not going to lie. I prefer to the baking assembly these days to the knitting kind where you have all those pieces you have to stick together and get the seam right.

I am going seamless whenever I can for garments these days and I'm OK with it.

But my knitting is slow. Just a few stitches here and there, just enough to keep a complete level of insanity away, but not enough to post or show. Soon my dearests, soon.

So back in the kitchen I've been going full-blown Great British Bake Off, Anglophile these days. 

These are some mini victoria sponge cakes by the Great Mary Berry. I love her bubble gum colored outfits and the way she talks about cake. I modified it just a bit, just because. I ran out of strawberry jam that was NOT from her recipe, because quite frankly, I didn't have time. I used my friend Lady H's homemade plum preserve. I spread a tiny bit of that down directly on the cake and then piped down the heavy whipping cream, instead of drizzling jam over double cream. I also used a bit of confectioner's sugar in the cream. I think it helped stiffen up the cream but also just a little sweet to cut the tartness of the plum jam. I then put on a few thin slices of fresh fruit (because I grew up in California and it's what we do) and ma voila!

These cakes are different than regular yellow cake just by the texture in my opinion. I'm not sure why but they are really delightful. Slightly crispy exterior for me (maybe the amount of butter I used in my tins) but still springy to the touch. 15 minute bake. Fabulous.

I got the "spool" cake pan at Joann's when I was out killing time (and emptying out my wallet) with Mom last week while she was visiting. That place is dangerous for both of us for different but multiple reasons. 

If you're not making your own jam, the recipe is solid and pulls together easily and quickly. Remember for best results use a scale. 😃

Friday, July 29, 2016

These are finished ...

I managed to drag these socks to Europe and finish them there and block em' at home. They are a gift. I hope they fit!

I really do love this Patons Kroy sock yarn. As discussed on Instagram, it's a total work horse yarn and it's pretty and it's squashy.

It might be a little heavier in weight than some of the other sock yarns, but I don't think that's a problem. Maybe fiddle a bit with a US 2 but this was a very satisfying knit. I was sad it took me a little longer than I intended, but that's pretty much my knitting life in a nutshell.


I tried last night. I was exhausted. Technically I was trying to fix a hole in a sock, but my eyeballs were swimming and I couldn't read the small instructions on my phone very well. I will have to do battle with that another day.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Wednesday WIP: Christmas in summer or Watermelon cocktails?

New socks! I know I was talking all this smack about how the Banana Leaf was my one love. I lied. It was a case of summer lust and I'm easily distracted by the next knit.

I blame all the summer sock knitters out there and Kathy B and her fabulous Christmas in Summer knit stockings. 

My excuse of course is the scarf is becoming too unmanageable and socks are portable 😍

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Picking up the pieces

have pulled my old Banana Leaf scarf out of hibernation. It's really a perfect summer knit though I have to say that summer knitting in San Francisco isn't exactly ... taxing.

The wind was whipping today. The morning was partly cloudy but I barely needed my cardigan for my lunchtime putter.

Anyhow sunshine and green. This is my dedicated knit. I started and stopped casting on socks. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Baking is my new exercise

Yes, I know baking is nothing new for me. It's my other past time. Some people, knit, bake, spin, weave, stitch, make soap and sew (and some do them ALL --I'm looking at you Araignee!) but I seem to do alright with knitting and baking alone. ;)

So last night I took to battle with flour, and sugar and then some ...

My back is much better, but not good enough for exercise, physical therapy, chiropractor or massage. I can't sit still for too long but I don't necessarily like moving a lot either, therefore baking has become my new exercise. I'm taking steroids and I need activity to keep the crazy at bay.

I shuffle just enough and for certain tasks can sit down and relax a little bit. These are Peach Cobbler "Scones". They are not too sweet and a good vehicle for peaches in the morning. They would be a welcome addition to any summer brunch. This was my first pass. I would do it again, but I might modify the assembly. I haven't decided yet. Conceptually I liked it and I got a lot of compliments on the flavor and bake.

Let's talk about bread. Bread is kind of like lace for me. I love the idea of it but I'm kind of overwhelmed by it and at times feel like it's just a challenge from the universe. Such a challenge that I decided to try 2 recipes at the same time. This wouldn't be so much of an issue except that both recipes yield 2 loaves and I only have 2 loaf pans... so I used a brownie pan. What? It's bread, it baked ...

It's really about yeast. I look for big foaming action and usually don't get it if I'm either not using instant yeast. I think I don't manage the water temperature well enough. However mixing in the sugar as a catalyst and then sprinkling the yeast on top also helped.

Yesterday was day 2 of  attempting to make sandwich bread. I finished roughly at 12:30 am with this lot. Now there will be a lot tea sandwiches I suppose and nutella and Lady H made delicious plum jam ... so it won't go to waste. (Apparently you can freeze bread as well)

The household has been keeping up with The Great British Bake-off on PBS and so there is a lot of sassy talk about how my "bake" or "crumb" is. There are general inquiries on the my color of my crust and they like to knock on my loaves of bread.

It was HM's birthday at work and she keeps my sanity in check everyday over there. Some newbies have come on board with their own flavor of friendship and baking skills so we decided to have a bit of a baking buffet for the office to celebrate. So ... I sort of, got busy.

Wednesday I should have a knitting post. I've just been trying to get some decent pictures for you. But my needles are definitely clickety clacking ...

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Thanks for your patience as I sort out my life and health. It's sciatica probably exacerbated by my scoliosis and youthful desire to skimp on before stretching. (I'm ok with after part, kinda...)

This is a first for me and I'm trying hard to follow Dr. instructions and take the medications prescribed. I did request no painkillers like Vicodin -- opting for the old ibuprofen ...good to have somewhere to escalate to if needed is my philosophy I suppose. I'm not going to lie I was shocked by the amount of pain I am in but also really in awe of true patients of pain if you know what I'm saying. For those of you with chronic issues my heart is with you even more.

Anyways on to some highlights. These are some abbreviated photos based on a phone back up and the help of my lovely family.

My parents lovely town during our evening walks 

The indoor market! 


The Mercedes Benz museum

Swag & Swine

I'll dig up some more photos soon.

Thank you for your kind comments and visiting. You're appreciated. I'm grateful.

A momentary pain in posting ...

At least that's what I'm hoping it will be. I screwed up my back kids and am having crazy muscle spasms and pain.

I can't even knit. 

I'm putting my big girl pants on and going to the Dr. this afternoon.

I promise to get it together after.

Meanwhile I hope you are crafting and laughing your way through the summer. Any good summer cooking going on? Family activities that are making you all enjoy spending time together?

While with my Mom this summer we rediscovered the joy of Gin and Gin Rummy. My friend Ms. Annie B had me rediscover the joy of a crispy refreshing Gin & Tonic at the end of last summer. But right now I'm all about iced black tea and strawberry lemonade. Grown up never? Maybe the classic white wine.

What about you?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A sporting loss and a sporty win.

Our family missed Game 7 of the NBA finals where our dear Golden State Warriors battled it out with the Cavaliers.

We missed it because we were en route to visit my parents in Europe.

Alas the Warriors did not win. The sad sounds when the pilot announced it before we landed is a testament to our motto: Strength in Numbers.

I did finish my Post Season socks though and even brought them with me for comfort and support.

A photo posted by @theellenreport on

I have meant to post sooner, but while taking a trip out to Strasbourg my iPhone was stolen and well ... there went my photos and my easy connectivity to the world.

The trip was filled with good times and fun things which I hope to tell you about a bit very soon. There are some more socks too ;)

I'll be making the rounds soon to see what you've all been up to. I hope your summers have been filled with good times. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cake: A crumby study

It's no secret that the baking crazy takes hold of me every now and then. I bake so much that I have to bring most of it into work or send it out to our friends and family nearby. My neighbor that shares the floor with us (We have a 6 unit building) and I have taken to doing a bake exchange between our 2 flats. (I admit to eating more than my share of her blueberry pie, by sneaking it off to the office for breakfast. I may actually be a pie person now.)

I have always loved Smitten Kitchen's blueberry crumb cake. I rushed this one a bit. I think I used too much blueberry considering these were ginormous. The ratio was a bit off.

And since cherries are sweet delicious and in season, I thought let's try it with cherries. This was tasty and this time, I could've used more fruit. This version also taught me that maybe buying a cherry pitter is not such a crazy investment after all ... 

Lastly I modified The Kitchn's Nectarine and Blackberry upside down cake. I used a mixture of cake and all purpose flour because that is what I had in the pantry and I completely left out the cornmeal. Seriously, do we need to fusion and texture everything people? Settle down. Let the classic cake shine. I also used brown sugar instead of granulated for the topping. It looked a bit like it was under a sheet of glass when I was done. The cake was tender and people tell me it wasn't too sweet. I took it to my father and stepmother's this weekend and I think there was one piece left. That's a good sign, indeed.

WINNERS! The random number generator selected 9 (Kathy B's son Zach) & 10 (The Delusional Knitter) for the National Parks Coloring book giveaway. I'll be in touch to confirm mailing addresses and get those out to you this week. Thanks to everyone that entered.

What's bringing the sweet and color in your summer so far?