Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: Songbird

Songbird Cocktail


1 1⁄2 oz Gin
1 oz Elderflower liqueur, St. Germain
3⁄4 oz Green Chartreuse
3⁄4 oz Lemon juice

Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.

The verdict: The cocktail is a tasty, summery one. The combination of gin, Chartreuse, citrus, and a sweeter liqueur has some reminiscence of The Last Word, but more sweet and flowery, thanks to the elderflower liqueur.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saline Celtic Festival

Amateur musicians gathering to play irish music in the acoustic tent.
Highland games in the background.

Yesterday, my dance group performed a demo at a Celtic festival just on the other side of Ann Arbor. The demo went well, especially as we overfilled the dance stage during the audience participation parts.

Hunting owl in the falconry tent

While we were there, we checked out the rest of the festival, which I was rather pleasantly surprised by.  There were three music areas as well as the dance stage. There was jousting, highland games, shepherding, a theatrical combat troupe, a fencing and sword fighting group, falconers, spinners and weavers, and kids' versions of the games and a castle playground. There were just enough vendors, so there was good stuff to buy and a good selection -- including dance shoes from Duncans Higland Supply out of Royal Oak and unique gorgeous black and white porcelain amulets from Darkblade Studios out of Portage, but the event was mostly performances and activities. 

Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul
After our demo, we stayed for Eileen Ivers's show, which was really fabulous. I think she used a waa pedal for a few songs. The show was so high energy that she was jumping around while fiddling. Fun.

Garden Center Butterflies

Yesterday, while we went cruising garage sales on our bikes, we found a local nursery, where we stopped because they were selling fresh-picked corn. I didn't expect to be interested in anything else, since from the street it looked like just annuals. Instead, when we looked around, we found a surprisingly large property and a hidden gem: a butterfly house.

All of the plants were marked to indicate which type of butterfly they serve as host to.  This butterfly house is associated with the Southeast Michigan Butterfly Association.

At this garden center, they also had water gardens and tanks of koi for sale. You can see some of the ponds in the first photo.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: Ramos Gin Fizz

Ramos Gin Fizz

This week, I chose a traditional New Orleans drink, the Ramos Gin Fizz, to go with our dinner of jambalaya. The ingredients are a bit surprising for a fizzy summer drink.

Ramos Gin Fizz

1 1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Lime juice
1/2 oz Lemon juice
1 1/4 oz Simple syrup
2 oz Milk
1 Egg white
2 ds Orange flower water
Club soda

Place all of the ingredients except the club soda into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
Shake vigorously (more than normal to ensure the egg and milk are well mixed).
Strain into a highball glass filled with ice.
Top with club soda.

In particular, egg white may seem like an unusual ingredient, but it is one that I have come across surprisingly frequently. Apparently, it is usually included for mouth feel. We were a bit nervous about it, and I actually made sure to shake it up with the lemon and lime juice first, to make sure it was all safe.

The verdict: It's quite refreshing and citrusy. Despite the milk content, it doesn't taste milky.  The milk and the egg white do give a nice, full mouth-feel. Scott and I both approve.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Eastern Market Tuesdays

As of today, Eastern Market is open Tuesdays as well as Saturdays, and boasts free yoga. I was a bit late for yoga, so it was just groceries for me today.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: Explosions In The Sky Cocktail

Explosions in the Sky Cocktail

This week's cocktail, Explosions in the Sky, was chosen in reference to our traditional way of celebrating the birthday of our country - with fireworks. The original recipe called for white whiskey, but we chose to use bourbon, which is uniquely American, and goes well with the Vernor's ginger ale we used.

Explosions in the Sky

2 oz Bourbon
½ Lime, quartered
10-12 Mint leaves
½ oz Simple syrup
3 oz Ginger beer or ginger ale

Add lime wedges, mint leaves, simlple sugar to a glass. Muddle. Add whiskey and stir. Fill glass with ice. Top with ginger beer or ginger ale. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

The verdict: This is a lovely drink, refreshing and minty, but a spicier variation of a mojito or a mint julep. Scott finds it preferable to a mint julep, but not as good as a mojito (which is one of his favorites). I don't think I would say the same, but rather, that it has to do with whether I'm looking for something spicier and richer.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Livonia Spree Fireworks

Happy Fourth of July!

Livonia Spree Fireworks

These are some photos I took (on my iPhone) at the fireworks display in a local suburb, back on June 24th. Here in the Detroit area, they don't all set off their fireworks on the Fourth. It's spread out over a month or so, with different towns doing it on different days, so you could see fireworks every weekend, if you wanted to. The main fireworks display isn't even on the Fourth! That's because Detroit and Windsor, Ontario team up to put on a joint display over the river that's usually about halfway between American Independence Day and Canada Day (July 1st). Sadly, we missed it this year, and missed the accompanying river festival with tall ships, but it's supposedly the biggest fireworks display in North America, so I definitely want to check it out sometime.

Detroit Opera House

Detroit Oper House Interior

In other things we've been up to recently, we went to the Detroit Opera House for a concert. They won't let you photograph during the performance, but I took some sly iPhone shots of the interiors before the show.  As you can see, the classical stage surrounded by gilt carvings was set up for a more modern show -- Average White Band and Tower of Power were bringing the funk.

Detroit Oper House Interior

Here's the stained glass and carved plaster medallion of the lobby ceiling.

Detroit Oper House Interior

The access to the balcony with a view of chandeliers hanging over the atrium stairwell.  We were fairly early to the show, so I didn't have to worry about crowds in my photos.

Detroit Oper House Interior

The view of elaborate carvings and air return grill from the upper balcony.  We had great seats, with a great view, near the edge of the upper balcony.

Detroit Oper House Interior

The domed ceiling above the upper balcony probably has a positive role in the acoustics of the space.  As you can see from the lights hidden within, the opera house has ben renovated -- somewhere around a decade ago, Scott worked on the project at his first job.

Roman Bronze Coins

Cleaning Roman Coins

In other neat things happening in our house, Scott bought some uncleaned Roman and Greek coins from digs in various countries, and here he is cleaning them.

Ancient bronze coins are surprisingly inexpensive.  They're just a few dollars, especially if they haven't been cleaned.  Cleaning them yourself is not easy. Some of that dirt has nearly started to fossilize, but it makes you feel a bit like an archaeologist.  Or more accurately, how you imagined an archaeologist felt when you were a kid.  It's fun.

Cadence Socks - In Progress

Cadence Socks - In Progress

Currently, I am working on a pair of Cadence Socks, using Koigu Painter's Palette Premium Merino.  These have a somewhat tricky faux-cable pattern that definitely requires following along with the instructions.

It's been a bit frustrating, especially since I like to knit my socks two at a time.  The first issue I have was entirely my own fault for not really reading the instructions, but I didn't notice how many times I was supposed to knit each chart.  I was about to turn the heel and only went back to double check the pattern because I thought the leg was rather short.  That's when I found out that I should have knitted certain charts multiple times, so I had to rip back over forty rows and practically start over.  That's doubly painful when you've knit two sock you must frog rather than one.  So much for finishing these socks in June as I had hoped.

While my first issue was my own fault, my second issue is not.  I don't really like the author's method of  changing the location of the large cable crosses.  Rather than use another chart, she has you shift the sock on your needles and change the starting point of the row.  Not only is that really annoying when it comes to knitting two socks at a time, but it rather irks me that the rows are off between the two socks, especially the lack of an interim row between shaping/too many rows between shaping.  Ick.  Still, I'll probably follow the pattern this go-round.  After all, I do generally follow the Navajo weaver's practice of including an intentional mistake to keep my perfectionism in check and allow me to actually finish pieces.

Peacock Shawl

Peacock Shawl

Back on June 10th, I completed the Peacock Shawl that I started back at the beginning of 2011.  I used the pattern Pretty As A Peacock Shawl by Jae Koscierzynski, with a modified edging, largely based on Peacock Feathers Shawl by Dorothy Siemens.

Peacock Shawl

I used two strands of JaggerSpun Zephyr lace held together and knitted as one yarn to create a fingering weight gauge.  I then changed the color of each strand independently to create the blended color gradient effect.

Peacock Shawl

Spinning Buffalo Down and Silk

It seems that it's been even longer since I posted about spinning, and it's been longer since I've done any.  I finished up my hanks of buffalo down and silk yarn, but have yet to share the product with you.

2 Ply Buffalo Down Hanspun

The buffalo down was a dream to spin, and it spun up very soft, fine, and airy.  I wound this into a center-pull ball and took both ends, spinning them together to create a two-ply yarn.

2 Ply Silk Handspun

The silk was a trick to prep, but once I had it all carded into rolags, it was lovely to spin as well.  Like the buffalo down, I wound the silk into a center-pull ball and plied it together from both ends.

Vernal Equinox Shawl

It has been a while since I have posted about anything except for cocktails, and I apologize for that. The routine of the weekly cocktails really helps motivate me to post about them, so I think I may need to implement a routine for other types of posts as well.

Vernal Equinox Shawl

Last you saw any of my knitting, it was my in-progress Vernal Equinox Shawl. I completed the shawl on April 30th.

Vernal Equinox Shawl

And I took a ton of photos of it.

Vernal Equinox Shawl

It got me excited about knitting lace again.

Vernal Equinox Shawl

I used JaggerSpun Zephyr lace weight, which is an equal blend of wool and silk.

Vernal Equinox Shawl

The pattern is Vernal Equinox Shawl Surprise, by Lankakomero.

Vernal Equinox Shawl

As I recall, I really liked the pattern and found it easy to follow.

Vernal Equinox Shawl