As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I dedicated the month of February to drafting my first ever knitting patterns. Now that I'm on the other side of my first draft, I can say that the pattern writing and accompanying hand-cramping deadline-knitting were challenging. The whole affair actually reminded me a little bit of my first legal writing assignments. Once again, I was struggling to write a piece that made sense, on a deadline, while employing unfamiliar citation formats. I had forgotten how difficult it is to drop into an industry, grab an opinionated reader's attention, show them an irresistible point-of-view, and then take them through a logical process, step-by-step, using concise and perfectly clear directions. It's really hard. I stayed up way too late every night, cut corners on pretty much every other aspect of my life, and I began seriously to doubt myself. (Can you spot the hard-boiled perfectionist who has committed herself to trying something new?)
Halfway through writing my second pattern, it dawned on me that I had probably taken on too much. I recalled the time in high school French class when we were assigned to write a journal entry with the story of our day. I attempted to write the actual story of my real day, with all the things I had done, along with my thoughts and feelings. You know, like an actual journal entry. I used my English-French dictionary for so many words, and I thought I had done a remarkable and insightful job on the assignment. But I hadn't. My teacher returned the assignment to me full of red ink corrections, genuinely quizzical question marks, and a gentle suggestion that next time, I keep things simple and report what time I woke up, what I ate, and when I went to bed.
If I had actually absorbed that lesson from Madame (whose last name I have now forgotten), I would have first attempted to design an interminably boring scarf or a detestably predictable shawl (that I could neither pin, tie, nor drape without looking absolutely ridiculous). But I didn't. Apparently, I remain as over-confident as ever in certain of my abilities. On March 1, I gave my kind, generous, and ridiculously capable technical editor my patterns. I await her proverbial red ink and promised constructive criticism. Part of me wants the patterns to be perfect, and most of me knows that under the veneer of my fine organizational structure and carefully chosen font, they are a hot mess. Whatever. I cannot wait to learn from my next draft.
Let your curiosity transform you, I say! The magical looking photo collage at the top of this post is my first visual representation of the spirit behind String & Twig (you can see additional related photos, as well as the sources of the photos I selected, on my Pinterest board). It dawned on me just this past week that this process of learning and growing is what my blog is all about. My posts are about how we indulge our curiosity by trying new things, seeing what works, and what doesn't. And every time we try something, there's some kind of transformation, like milk into cheese, seeds into plants, or me into whatever comes next (unwanted ecologies and all). We're all changing in big or small ways every day, regardless of whether we want to or not. Why not evolve in ways that satisfy our intellectual curiosity?
And at the same time, how about working to cultivate curiosity in the more ho-hum aspects of life, like cooking for example? On a very basic level, if we're doing our best, we're transforming ingredients into a meal (or more) every day. And there is so much eating that happens every day. Three meals! Every day. It's hard to get or stay curious about cooking, especially, as I noticed this past month, when you have some shiny, new, more interesting thing going on. I found myself becoming keenly interested in staying out of the kitchen. But because fasting wasn't an option, I focused on decent food I could assemble and cook quickly, as well as food I could basically ignore once I had applied a heat source.
My solution to dinner in a pinch became Weirdly Addictive Tortilla Pizza. We have eaten it every Saturday evening since I learned about it. We use the fancier handmade corn tortillas, and they have been fabulous as pizza "crusts." Another ridiculously easy and shockingly popular dinner solution at our house is a Baked Potato Bar, and it now also appears almost weekly. Confession: I didn't know how to make a good, oven-baked potato until recently. But now I use this very easy recipe and the potatoes turn out beautifully every time. Top your crunchy, fluffy, perfect potatoes with sautéed leeks, butter or olive oil, sour cream, bacon, herbs, whatever other odd ends of previous dinners you have in your refrigerator, salt and pepper, and enjoy. Aside from scrambled eggs and kimchi atop rice from my 1990s rice cooker (which I also hauled out this month), the Baked Potato Bar is the most straightforward weeknight dinner I have ever encountered. Even better, everyone is always excited about it.
If you do have some extra time or oomph for the kitchen, though, I have to point out that blood orange season is coming to a close. I've been grabbing them while I can. If you have eaten more than your share and are looking for a new preparation (but aren't up for spending the small fortune required to make a batch of blood orange sorbet), try a blood orange curd sundae or this lovely riff on the Dominican Morir Soñado.
We made the blood orange curd for dessert with homemade vanilla ice cream and whipped cream when my cousin, my favorite author of books about pirates and teacher of fourth and fifth graders in Atlanta, visited a few weeks ago.
As for the Morir Soñados, Marc, Wyatt and I enjoyed our beautiful pink drinks in martini glasses during one recent kid-friendly Saturday evening cocktail hour. See the tortilla pizza? I wasn't kidding. Every Saturday. Make some yourself and be sure to be messy enough with the cheese at the edge so that you get some of those crunchy bits, too.