Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chocolate noms

I made a dessert tonight that was so fast and simple and delicious that I have to share it here. Molten Chocolate Cake, also known as chocolate lava cake. It's fast and easy to make, has a short list of ingredients, and it's sooooo good.

I dare you to keep decorum past the second bite.

Recipe with my modifications after the jump.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Some things.
Help_Japan on LiveJournal, along the same model as Help_Haiti etc. An auction where people offer things and other people bid on them, and the winning bidders donate directly to aid orgs and the offerors fulfill the bids. No money changes hands between offeror and bidder unless shipping costs are figured in, but that's at the discretion of the individual offerors. The comm is also collecting links to charities and of news value here.

I have four auctions up. Bidding is open, and the comm is still open to new listings. The auction will be open for new offerings through the 26th and will close bidding on March 31st.
Custom yarn or Corriedale spinning fiber offer - 2 100g skeins of wool/nylon sock or superwash worsted or 12oz of fiber.
2 skeins of 2ply New Zealand Gottland wool in natural grey. (I've decided to match this donation myself to NZ earthquake relief.)
Autographed Equus playbill, signed by Richard Griffiths.
Knitted dumpling toys, catnip optional.

And some links I've collected from friends, etc.
Global Voices Online - Waiting for the right moment to help - this is addressed to people who could conceivably get up and drive to the affected areas, etc, but I think it's worthwhile to think about what it says regardless. Aid efforts have to be coordinated to be useful.

Oregon Live blog - Helping Japan: how your knitting can (and can't) help. - I pretty much agree, so I'm putting this here. I've seen a lot of people eager to knit for Japan and I know that impulse too. It's a generous one and it's not coming from just knitters but all sorts of people who feel helpless and that cash is not enough. Still, misguided or unfocused assistance can cause more difficulties than it alleviates and it can divert energy that eventually goes nowhere instead of into actual assistance. Which is actually what the previous article was kind of saying. So really, my plea is that we all be thoughtful about giving and whether or not we're actually helping, or if we're making more work.

AsiaJin blog - lots of interesting content about internet efforts since the disaster began.

MIT NSE Nuclear Information Hub - There's a lot of scaremongering about the nuclear power plants, as well as misinformation, truncated information, etc. (including the jerk who spread the fake nuclear fallout map). This blog is updating regularly with more information as they get it, but of the greatest value to me was the first post at the bottom explaining how reactors of this type work. The entire blog is useful, however, in explaining and contextualizing the actual information, rather than saying "radiation contamination" and leaving us to wonder if things are going to start glowing in the dark.

Scientific American - Radiation's Complications: Pinning Health Problems on a Nuclear Disaster Isn't So Easy This article is talking about Chernobyl and is interesting in its own right, but it's additionally topical now of course. For another interesting read, check out The worst nuclear plant accident in history: Live from Chernobyl.

ShelterBox - they're not taking directed donations, but they are on the ground in Japan working to get their boxes to the critical areas. I'm posting this here because I'd never heard of it before this event, and it's fascinating what they're doing.

I know some people want their money to go to whatever cause they specify. I'm comfortable with MSF/Doctors Without Borders being my "go to" charity in situations like this even without a directed donation set up. I'm not so picky as long as it's an organization I trust to actually spend the money wisely instead of eat it up in administrative costs. There's so much need, after all. New Zealand and China are both still recovering from recent earthquakes. Haiti is still trying to recover, and there's no lack of disasters both natural and human created before or since. CharityNavigator is helpful when making choices as well as weeding out potential scams.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Blogging my dinner again

So, yesterday was my birthday and for my birthday I decided I wanted to cook a very complicated dinner without concern about costs. Some of it was very successful and some of it could have been improved, but all in all I had a fantastic time shopping and cooking and cooking some more. Dinner was tasty, my plan for how to prepare and serve everything went almost without a hitch, and we ended the night full but not in distress from overeating. Considering the meal had 8 courses, this last was probably my greatest achievement!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Whoops! It's Tuesday

And I was supposed to announce the giveaway recipient yesterday. *scrambles*

The winner this month is Jamie! I'll contact via Ravelry regarding the McMorran balance.

I'm going to blame my lack of focus on dyeing yarn inside. All those fumes, you know (not really). This is why I'm mostly seasonal and usually do my dyeing only in the temperate months. It's both easier and harder than when I can set up my station outside. For one thing, there's half as many pots going, and everything takes an interminable amount of time. And while it may be more comfortable, it's also cramped and messier.

That's two measly pots and all that will fit in the bathroom where I dye in the winter. I managed four batches of yarn yesterday. 12 is typical of a normal day when I've got 4 pots cranked up. *sigh* So instead of 2 days dyeing, I'm going to do three and hope to finish up properly tomorrow.

I have to finish by tomorrow because Thursday is set aside for shopping and cooking because Friday is my birthday. I decided this year that I just wanted a nice dinner at home, but I wanted DINNER, and I wanted free rein to go to the supermarket(s) and buy anything I wanted to make anything I want whatsoever, and damn the cost. Which, given how I can shop for food will be not inconsiderable.

I have a menu already and it's 7 courses. I've got my shopping list and my prep schedule and I'm debating what to drink with dinner and if I can include a new bottle of gin in the total. We'll see. But it should be good.

More after the jump, including a very limited time coupon code for the shop, so click through!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's that time again (a well balanced giveaway)

So I may be a little flaily because I have so very much to do and never enough time in which to do it, but that doesn't mean this post can't be well balanced, like a healthy breakfast.

Or this McMorran balance.

Yes, today I am giving away a metric McMorran yarn balance. These nifty tools are used to determine the meterage of a given quantity of yarn. The balance is very precisely weighted and when you drape a bit of the yarn over it and then trim it until the arm is level, the length of that remaining bit of yarn will tell you how much yarn per gram you have. Weigh the remaining yarn, do a little basic math,and Bob's yer uncle. The instruction sheet is included, but it's really that simple.

It's not as accurate with yarn that's slubby or thick/thin, but it can still generate a good ballpark figure. Can you do the equivalent with a scale sensitive enough? Yes, but do you have a scale that goes to at least 2 decimal points to the gram? If so, then you don't need this. Which would also be the reason I'm giving it away.

I'm a little fried and crispy around the edges so just comment with anything to enter this drawing, and remember to make sure I have a way of contacting you if you win. If you've got a fun yarn or fiber (horror or otherwise) story, even better. I'm going to let this one run all the way through Sunday the 6th and pick a random winner on Monday March 7th because my plate runneth over all this week. As always, you can double dip with the Ravelry group giveaway. That one is foam display heads this time around.

But hey! I finished my weaving.

It came out 54in long after soaking it in hot water and the silk bounced back to it's pre-tension length. Ahh, relaxation shrinkage, at least I have a name for it. And I have decided I can never complain about weaving in ends in knitting again. I wove back every single warp thread along itself to finish the piece. I'm sure there's a better and faster way to finish a piece of fabric without fringe, but I was too impatient to research it. After all, it only took me 6 hours to weave in 100 warp threads. *facepalm*

The scarf is really light, but the silk gives it a bit of body so it doesn't feel insubstantial. The wool softened up as well and I'm really pleased with it. And I doubt I will ever need to weave anything again. That particular urge is well satisfied and my mother likes her new scarf.