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Slowing down and enjoying evening with turmeric milk

Slowing down and enjoying evening with turmeric milk

Sleep eludes me. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm an insomniac. It's more that there is so much I want to do, I just don't want to wind down at the end of the day. Add in the factor that it is not the easiest thing for me to shut down the ol' brain and there's a recipe for lying awake for hours thinking about the things I will do tomorrow. 

While sleepy time might be when I'm planning world domination, I'd really love to find a peaceful and restful slumber without fighting sleep with every blink of my eyes. I've tried medications and they just make me sleep for far too long, or worse yet, I've found myself unable to really move but my mind is still racing. Ack! My thyroid has been checked and I've had a psych evaluation. I don't drink caffeine late in the evening. For all intents and purposes, medically at least, I'm normal. I just think too much when I could be resting. Often, at night, I'll wake up with an idea and if I don't get it on paper or even wander into the studio to rough it out, I won't get back to sleep for worrying I'll forget it. I process much when I'm sleeping, and that's ok, it's the getting to sleep part that is so darn frustrating.

Since the holidays, I've purposely made down time in the evening before going to bed. Years ago, a friend made a wonderful turmeric and milk concoction that was somewhat like chai tea but without the caffeine since there was no tea. I could never remember what she told me was in it beyond turmeric. It intrigued me because she said her grandmother, from New Delhi, used to make it for her after she ran in cross country races because she said it helped with relaxation, muscle spasms and muscle aches. I have no idea if that is actually true or not, but mind over matter has worked well and often for me, so even if it isn't a medical truth, I'll stick with brain power for determining my outcome on this one.

One morning, remembering that long ago discussion about turmeric, I was researching the benefits, hoping it would help the tension in my muscles after a day of making pottery. I stumbled across a recipe for a turmeric milk night time drink. After a bit more searching, I found a few more. Each one is as different as each recipe of chai tea, but the core basics were consistent. I've tweaked that core recipe to come up with my own and would love to share it with you.

There are loads of potential health benefits to virtually all of the ingredients and a quick google search will yield a wealth of information. I'm not going to list them all here because you'd be reading a long and mildly boring novella on holistic and ayervedic healing that I'm simply not qualified to expound on. If you want to know the benefits, seek your own path. If you just want a tasty drink, I'm not promising the world, here, just a tasty drink with ingredients that research suggests reduce inflammation and aid relaxation.

Whether you have a hard time settling down in the evening, or you just like a little pampering down time, it's worth a taste. If you like chai tea, you're likely to enjoy this. If you're missing an ingredient, don't worry about it. Just play around and make it your own. If you love, love, love cinnamon, add more. If you just hate anise, don't put it in (though I have to say you're unlikely to really taste it, it just gives the drink a bit of necessary sharpness in my opinion). Just play. The only thing you really need are a big handmade mug (because handmade is best), a tea strainer of some sorts or a mesh strainer, a sauce pan and a wooden spoon. Beyond those tools, it's fair game.

Now put on your fuzzy pants, a cozy sweater and pick out your favorite mug. It's time to make something tasty. It's time to relax and give yourself a much needed break.

My nighttime concoction:

    • 2 cups milk (approximately. I just fill my favorite mug for my measurement)
    • 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric
    • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1-2 green Cardamom pods crushed (or a pinch of dried cardamom)
    • fresh ground black pepper (I do about 8-10 twists of the grinder)
    • 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
    • Star Anise - 1 star or a pinch of dried anise powder (optional)
    • 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla powder
    • Honey to taste

In a small saucepan on low, pour the milk from your mug, add Turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper and ginger. If you're adding anise as well, this would be the time to add it. Stir gently and bring it to just before boiling. If you leave it unattended for too long, the icky milk skin may form on the top. I consider this gentle stirring a bit of the process of starting to slow down and relax. Watching this liquid as you gently weave the spoon back and forth can be a bit mesmerizing.

Once the concoction is heated, add the vanilla and honey to taste.

Next, I strain it all back into the mug. Sometimes I use a tea steeper with a filter, other times I just use a mesh tea strainer that sits on top of the mug. Honestly, it depends on what's clean at the moment. I'm not going to stress over this step, so long as all the bits and pieces are strained out.

Now it's time to settle down. Turn off your devices (says the girl typing this out while sipping her own nighttime brew). Dim the lights. Have a cookie if you need a little sweet. Enjoy the intense golden color of your all natural beverage. I like a nice oatmeal cookie or a matcha kitkat bar with mine. Relax, breathe deeply and sip until it's gone.





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Skulls, Reversible Cables and a Vintage Typewriter

Skulls, Reversible Cables and a Vintage Typewriter

You might think that skulls, reversible cables and a vintage typewriter don't have much in common and you'd probably be right in most cases. Here at my casa, though, they're a few of my very favorite things. I found the vintage typewriter a few years ago at a storage unit auction for $5 and I love the look of it. The thing is heavy and unwieldy but it looks so damn nice in the background of product photos. My mom used to have an antique typewriter when I was a kid and I thought it was just the coolest thing ever. Those rare occasions when I was allowed to type something on it were spectacular. Now I have one of my own and when the humidity isn't too high, I even type on it a wee bit.

Skulls just intrigue me. They always have. As an artist, I enjoyed anatomy training for drawing the human form and the skull always seemed to be a challenge. They find their way into much of my work and someday I intend to make some sort of skull scarf or sweater. I'm not sure, yet, what it will look like, but it will happen eventually. My husband and I have skulls on all sorts of things, including a band of skulls that I hand painted on his kayak to bling it out for him. This skull mug is one of my favorites. It's a go to that I grab several times a week when making my morning Latte. 

 Continuing on with my "and here are a few of my favorite things" monologue...

Now for cable knits. Come on. Cables are just sexy as hell. Imagine that handsome gent in a richly cabled sweater standing at the cliff's edge, the sea roaring below while his faithful Irish Setter bounds up to his side. Yeah. It's a thing I've had for EVER. Something about cable knit whatever makes me wistful and a little turned on. Good lord I have a ridiculous imagination.

For several years I've had this vision of a cabled scarf I wanted to make that would be richly textured, color blocked and look essentially the same on the front and back. The unfortunate thing is that I rarely make anything that requires me to count rows because I tend to knit in snippets here and there. I also usually have several projects going at once; a hat in the car, a scarf by the sofa, a sweater in my travel bag just to name a few. Since I seem to have knitting project ADD, I've let this idea just swim around in my knitting dreams.

On a trip home from visiting friends in Columbus a couple weeks ago I worked out a pattern in my head to try that I didn't think would require a hard core attention span. When we arrived home, I dug through a bit of my yarn stash for some Knit Picks Wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn that I knew I had odds and ends of left over from some other projects. I ended up using 2 skeins of Onyx Heather (the dark grey), 2 skeins of Dove Heather (the light grey), and 2 skeins of Camel Heather (the tan).

This morning I finished the scarf, curled up cozy on the sofa with Ruby, our lovely new kitten. Here are the results and the pattern for your enjoyment.

The Pattern:

Color 1: 2 skeins Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Onyx Heather
Color 2: 2 skeins Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Dove Heather
Color 3: 2 skeins Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Camel Heather
(or 300 grams of your favorite worsted weight wool will work just fine)

Size 8 needles
I use a dpn for cables, or you may choose to use a regular cable needle.

Cable Patterns:
C6F = Cable 6 forward = slip 3 sts onto your cable needle and hold at the front of the work. Knit the next 3 sts then knit the 3 from the cable needle.

C6BP = Cable 6 Back to purl = slip 3 sts onto your cable needle and hold at the back of the work. Purl the next 3 sts then purl the 3 from the cable needle.

Both the front and back side cables are worked on the same row - row 5 of the pattern. 

Cast on 54 stitches with Color 1

Row 1: *K6, P6, repeat from * until 6 sts remain. K6.
Row 2 (and all even rows): *P6, K6, repeat from * until 6 sts remain. P6
Row 3: as for 1
Row 5: *C6F, C6BP, repeat from * until last 6 sts, C6F
Row 7, 9, 11 &  13: as for 1

Repeat rows 5-14 until your scarf is the desired length and at the same time work the following color pattern:

  • Color 1: 4 pattern repeats
  • Color 2: 16 pattern repeats
  • Color 1: 2 pattern repeats
  • Color 3: 11 pattern repeats
  • Color 1: 9 pattern repeats
  • Color 3: 8 pattern repeats

After the last cable row, repeat rows 1-4 one time.

Bind off in rib pattern, loosely.

Weave in your loose ends and enjoy your color blocked, reversible cable scarf.

If you prefer to go classic, do the scarf all in one color. You can color block however you desire. This would also be a terrific pattern for leftover yarns that you just can't bear to part with. It would be beautiful in brightly colored random stripes.

The real fun of color blocking like this, for me, is not following a pattern at all for the color. When you get tired of knitting with a color, change to another one. You can't go wrong. Some of the best stripe patterns come from just deciding you're going to change colors when you feel like it. That would make it even more uniquely your own.

If you want to make it even more textured and oversized, you could use chunky weight yarn and size 10.5 needles. It would be more of a wrap, in that case.

My finished scarf ended up approximately 7" across when relaxed. If you want yours narrower, subtract 12 stitches from the cast on. If you want yours wider, add stitches in sets of 12 until your desired width.

Most importantly, have fun! Happy knitting.


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