A little love for MM Knits

Two really cool things happened this week that brought a little attention to Mary Marie Knits.

First, a local magazine, Diablo, featured my giant pouf in a collection of handmade gifts.

And then CasaSugar ran a little interview and tour of my house.

Cara and Pups

I had so much fun chatting with Elka and taking stock of all the pieces in my house I’ve made or collected over the years. And the dogs made sure to find their way into as many photos as possible!

The week in photos

Mike got home from a business trip and the dogs took turns cuddling up to him. When one of us is gone, Reggie will spend long amounts of time staring at the door in case we come back.

One of my customers asked for poufs with a more rounded shape, and you know what? I think I like it better than what I have been doing. I try to be open to custom orders because they so often lead to new products or new designs.

I’ve been getting a ton of orders for rope knits, so I ordered rope that comes on a giant spool. I put a spool of thread next to it for comparison sake. Ha!

And how about this little box of yummy?

It’s from Phil’s Sliders in downtown Berkeley. You really can’t argue with two tiny burgers and rectangular tater tots. They inspired me to make my own California burgers this week.

It’s all OK if you have a wheat bun, right?

I have been so burger crazy lately. Must be all those meatless years catching up to me.

Cake mix cookies

These cookies are so good I am almost sad to have discovered them. Now I have to try to stop myself from running out and buying a cake mix to bake them!

Apparently I am the last person on earth to have heard of these. I don’t know how I could have missed such a perfect combination of cookie and brownie. And I’m sure with a different flavor of mix you’d get something completely different (in a good way). Red velvet, perhaps?

Cake mix cookies
makes about 20 cookies

1 box chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Scoop out heaping tablespoons of the dough (a cookie scoop would be helpful here), leaving at least an inch of space between cookies.

Bake for 8 minutes or until the cookies have completely flattened.

Sprinkle on a little powdered sugar before serving.

And if you want to be truly evil, you can spread some vanilla bean ice cream between two cookies and have an ice cream sandwich. I highly recommend this.

Road trip: Orange County

Believe it or not, in all this time I’ve lived here I’ve never actually been to LA. And since my sister lives in Orange County, I decided it was time to head to SoCal and visit her. My mom flew out for the weekend so we could have our girl time.

Vlad-y cat.

Megan and her boyfriend Matt have the sweetest orange cat named Vladmir. I’m allergic to cats and don’t usually like them very much, but he charmed me and snuggled with me at night.

We actually ended up saving LA adventures for another trip and mostly stayed in Orange County. One of our favorite pastimes is shopping, and man were we in the right place for that. I haven’t seen such a sea of shopping since I was in Las Vegas!

But first we actually headed to Pasadena for a little thrifting. My mom did some research and found out that the Rose Bowl flea market was going on during our trip.

It is absolutely huge, so we braved some intense traffic and finally made it there. We knew it was going to be good when we saw about a million hipsters streaming out of there carrying tables, chairs, and all sorts of cool stuff.

My mom got a nice hat and (my favorite!) blue dots Pyrex bowl. She also got the green mixing bowl to complete her Pyrex set.

Post-shopping we filled up on yummy Chinese food at Sam Woo’s. It was the first time I’ve actually gotten to have the full experience of sharing a bunch of dishes at a table with the lazy Susan in the middle. We were even able to polish off a four-pound lobster!

Later on Megan showed me how to make the yummiest cookies, which I will share with you soon.

After some more shopping at one of the most epic malls I’ve ever seen, I had to head home. I missed my puppies, and I wanted to have a little Valentine’s Day dinner with Mike.

I had a blast though, and can’t wait to go back and put on my tourist hat. I also have a loooong list of LA restaurants to explore. Recommendations are appreciated!

Remembering my Nana

Last weekend my nana, Helene Hall, passed away. Her health had been declining for a while, but I did not realize that our visit with her over Christmas would be our last. I’m grateful for that visit, and for the last few phone calls we were able to have.

Nana was the kind of person that did exactly what she wanted to do with her life, all the way up until the end. I never imagined someone could be so at peace with their own death. But she simply wanted to be with her husband (we called him Poppie), who died when I was 12.

Apparently I had a thing for combing Poppie’s hair when I was little.

I think because I was the first grandchild on that side of my family I had a special bond with Nana. I remember she kept a makeup kit for me at her house and I would spend hours smearing it all over my face and admiring my handiwork in one of those vanity mirrors. Nana was a true woman of the Mad Men era. You never saw her without her hair perfectly coiffed and her nails freshly painted. One of my friends called her ‘sparkly grandma’ because she always wore a glittering jacket at the holidays.

I was lucky to get 31 years of memories with her, and I’ll treasure those always.

Umami Burger

The other day I was putting together a list of restaurants I want to try in LA (I have a couple of upcoming trips there), and I came across the website for Umami Burger. Where I noticed that not only did this restaurant look amazing, but there was one location in San Francisco!

After more than a month of extremely calculated and healthful eating, Mike and I decided to treat ourselves to a date night of not worrying about calories. It was heavenly!

We had an hour wait for a table (the first time I’ve ever put my name and number into an iPad and received a text when my table was ready), so we walked through the neighborhood exploring the cool midcentury furniture shops and cupcakeries of Union Street. When we finally got to sit at the bar, I noticed the really cool hanging lamps that looked like they were made from hand-blown glass. I love the effort that San Francisco restaurants put into their decor. It really makes the experience so much more special.

Anyway, Mike decided to order the Umami burger with mushrooms, caramelized onions, and a parmesan cake and I got the Cali burger, which is sort of like an upscale In-N-Out burger, and sweet potato fries.

Yes, even the buns were stamped with their logo.

Oh my gosh, were they fantastic. Just perfectly cooked and so flavorful with the combinations of toppings. We savored those burgers like you cannot believe. If you want a great burger in Berkeley you can’t do much better than Barney’s, but this was in a class all its own.

But before I could polish off the burger, I paused when I saw the bartender scooping up the most divine looking ice cream sandwich. I had to have one. We ended up splitting one with chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream. It was so, so good.

So, next time you’re in SF or LA, put Umami Burger on your to-do list!

Exciting news

A while back I submitted two patterns to my friend Amy, who was putting together a book of lovely crochet projects. Now the book — So Pretty! Crochet — is all finished (published by SF-based Chronicle, no less) and I just received my copy yesterday.

It is so cool to see the final product in print. I guess you don’t really believe it’s real until you see it with your own eyes. Congratulations to Amy for putting together such a great book!

I actually can’t wait to try some of the projects. They’re all modern takes on fairly traditional methods of crochet. If you want a copy of the book, you can pre-order it (for a great price) on Amazon. It will be officially for sale there May 2 and elsewhere in June.