Each piece of jewelry, knit, or weaving is hand made by Barbara in Southern California. If you'd like to see more of her work, visit the contact page. You can see all of her knits and weavings at Ravelry.com (her page is called "Inkmama.").

Purple Woven Shawl Woven Scarf Flamenco Knit Shawl Felted Floral Knit Bag Woven Scarf Felted Getaway Satchel Prize winner Guitar Strap Beanie with Pom Pom

While working with words is my chosen work, that’s not all I do, and most of the writers I know have other interests and obsessions. Mine include baking (and cooking), knitting, weaving, my garden, and making jewelry.

It’s pumpkin latte time again

I posted this recipe two years ago. Here it is again. I know Starbucks pumpkin lattes are delicious–I’ve had them–but they are full of sugar and other junk. This recipe can be made as pure as you like. I haven’t tried it with soy or almond milk, or another nondairy milk, but I plan to. Let me know if you do, and what the results are.

For the recipe, you’ll need:
honey or whatever sweetener you like
pumpkin pie spice
vanilla extract

Brew a cup of coffee, however you do. I use an espresso maker from IKEA and a frother, from IKEA.

Then, mix 1/2 cup nonfat milk, 1 tablespoon pumpkin (I use Trader Joe’s organic pumpkin in a can), 2 teaspoons honey (or brown sugar), 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix and heat on the stove (or in a microwave; I don’t have a microwave), then froth with a frother. Pour onto the coffee, sprinkle with cinnamon, if you like cinnamon, and major yum.

Pumpkin Add spice

Add vanilla Brew

Pour Froth

Add Cinnamon Yum



Your vegetarian friends and family will love you for your Tofu Turkey

Of course they love you for all sorts of reasons, and here’s one more: Tofu Turkey. It’s not Tofurkey.  This entree, which nicely replaces turkey, should be called Tofu Helmet, because that’s what it looks like.


DSCN2662 DSCN2663
What you need:

5 lbs. of tofu, medium in firmness, or 5 white plastic containers that contain 2 cakes each.

You will stuff it with a stuffing of your choice, or the recipe below.  I’ve adjusted it a little to taste the way I like stuffing—not exactly what you see here—adding oregano and basil.

Homemade poultry seasoning

¼ cup sage
2 T marjoram, thyme, and savory or rosemary
1 T celery seed
1 T black pepper

Herbed Whole Wheat Stuffing

2 T sesame oil
1 C diced onions
1 C mushrooms, diced
1 C diced celery
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 T homemade poultry seasoning
¼ tsp. sea salt
¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
4 C (or more, depending on wetness/dryness tastes) whole wheat bread, cut into ½ inch cubes (we use squaw bread)
¼ C parsley, chopped

Basting Liquid

¼ – ½ C toasted sesame oil
¼ C tamari

Mushroom gravy (this makes a ton of gravy; you could easily cut it in half)

2 T toasted sesame oil
2 onions, diced
6 C mushrooms, diced
1 C whole wheat pastry flour
6 – 7 C water
¼ C tamari


1 large sprig parsley and/or fresh sage, or no garnish, which is usually how ours ends up.

Let the production begin…

Mash tofu well. Line a colander with a single layer of moistened cheesecloth.  Transfer tofu to colander.  Press tofu to flatten and fold edges of cheesecloth over it.  Place a cake tin or other flat object over the surface of the tofu and weigh it down with a heavy object (5 pounds worth) to press liquid from tofu for one hour. I pile a half dozen cans on it. If you don’t want the soy milk from the tofu to leak all over the place, place the colander in a bowl or something.

Mix poultry seasoning ingredients.

To prepare stuffing, heat oil and sauté onions, mushrooms, celery and garlic.  Sprinkle poultry seasoning over vegetables. Dissolve salt in tamari and add to pot.  Stir, cover and continue to cook until veggies are done, about five minutes.  Add bread cubes and parsley and mix well.

Hollow out tofu to within one inch of colander.  Pack on stuffing and cover with remaining tofu.  Pat down so surface is flat and firm.

Oil a baking sheet and at least an hour after you began pressing the tofu (or longer; longer wouldn’t hurt) flip filled tofu (helmet) onto sheet so that the flat surface is face down.  Remove cheesecloth.

Mix basting liquid and brush tofu with it, then cover tofu with foil.  Bake at 400 degrees F for one hour. Remove foil, turn oven to 350, and baste and return to oven to bake uncovered until the “skin” becomes golden brown, about one hour more.  Baste again halfway through, and maybe even another time or two.

To prepare gravy, heat oil and sauté onions and mushrooms.  Mix flour and water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often.  Simmer uncovered over medium to low heat, stirring occasionally.

That’s it!  It is time-consuming, but so worth it.  I’ve made it every year for the last 20 years at least. Email me if you run into any snags.

Enjoy!DSCN2664 DSCN2665

Recipe created by Michael Schmidt, proprietor of the Tofu Shop, Arcata, CA www.tofushop.com and adapted a little by me.

Dyeing yarn with Kool Aid: My newest obsession

We all have our obsessions, those things we involve ourselves in that have nothing to do with anything–not making money, not what others want us to do–that give us pure joy. My latest is dyeing yarn. I love playing with color and texture–because writing is black on white?–and right now, dyeing yarn is it. And when I learned (from Ravelry and websites you’ll find if you Google “dye yarn with Kool Aid”) that you can dye yarn with Kool Aid and food dyes, I became excited. I use to think you needed to use toxic dyes to do this, meaning all different equipment. But no. You can use whatever is in your kitchen.

Here’s how I did it, using a crockpot (microwaves come in handy, I hear, but I don’t have one).

Kool Aid dyeing only works on animal fiber yarn, apparently. So take a skein of yarn (I used Lamb’s Pride Brown Sheep worsted, natural). It can’t be in a cake or ball but in a long slinky hank. Soak it overnight. Then, fill your crockpot with enough water that the yarn will be covered with dye bath.

Lay in the yarn, cover it and turn it on high.



When bubbles gather under the lid, it’s time for your dye bath.

Dissolve Kool Aid in hot water. I used two packets at first of Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade and then added another because the dye bath didn’t look blue enough. Pour it over the yarn. You don’t need to add vinegar as you would with food dye (to make the dye set) because the acid in Kool Aid makes the dye catch in the wool.




Set the timer for an hour. At the end of the hour, turn off the crock pot and let the water cool. If you can’t wait, at least wait till the wool is cool enough to handle. Rinse in water that’s the same temperature, otherwise you will felt the wool.


Hang to dry. Voila! Beauteous yarn, and it smells good!


Birthday week

Last night my Literary Posse met. Have I said I love my students? I love them, each and every one. Here I am with one lovely writer, Cindy Christeson, and my son Travis. It’s birthday week, and here we are with the birthday apple pie.
birthday pie

Hummingbird babies

Two fat baby hummingbirds sleep all day in the next. When do they eat? They’re fatter than I thought but I never see the mama feeding them. No colors yet in their plumage, still dirt brown. Love these babies. There’s a story here, somewhere. hummingbird babies

Repurpose old jewelry

Everyone–well, all women–have old jewelry hanging around, whether it’s jewelry that was yours or costume jewelry that was your mom’s or aunt’s or grandmother’s. Here’s what you do: You order some bracelet backs (I get mine from Fire Mountain), glue, metal snippers and, well, earrings or rings.
You clip the back off the pin or ring…
Clipping off the back
Clipping off the back of a ring
Glue the pieces onto the bracelet back and voila! A new crazy cute bracelet.
Finished product!


Thanks to the lovely Melody Nunez for the inspiration!