Well folks, it’s finally everyone’s favorite season Autumn. So what did I do? I made butternut squash soup, duh! It’s incredibly easy and if you buy that boxed crap at the grocery store you are missing out!

Honestly, I was incredibly surprised when I walked through the covered market here in our new ‘hood (we moved yay!) and saw a huge pile of those funny looking squash! I thought they were an American thing..why, I don’t know? So I grabbed one and got the soup gears a’ turnin’. Soup is one of favorite things to make because it’s usually cheap, easy, and completely customizable.

I’ve been a recipe junkie as of late. I just can’t get enough great recipes because we now have an amazing kitchen complete with an oven! Our earlier apartment had a hot plate and a get the picture. I missed cooking proper meals. So when I came across a tutorial for making your own ricotta cheese I knew that yesterday was the day. I was going to be a cheese maker! Victoria, the cheese maker. I like it…anywho.. Ricotta’s my favorite cheese and the recipe said it was “easy” and “foolproof”-great my kind of you can’t screw up.

So here are my recipes for homemade ricotta and butternut squash soup!

By the way..if you like specific measurements for recipes..well..sorry. I just kinda made it and it was good. So I don’t have exact amounts, but feel free to customize yours! It’s just a guideline of sorts. Okay.. On y va! Let’s go.

DSC_0362Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1/2 of an onion diced
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (you can use chicken stock if you wanna)
  • heavy cream
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • blender, food processor, or emulsifier

Preheat your oven to 400F. Our oven here is Celcius and I put it on 200, which is precisely 392F, but I think 400F will do just fine.

The hardest part of making butternut squash soup is cutting the butternut. They have really thick skins and require a bit of arm strength to cut through, but PUHLEASE be careful. Do not chop off your digits. You need those. Also you need a proper knife. One that has a somewhat thick blade that will not bend. This squash is a tough cookie!

To cut through my squash I cut off both the ends so that I have a flat surface to work with later. Then I cut it in half horizontally (that’s hamburger style for those of you who still don’t know, or short ways). So now you have two halves. Now lay them on their flat ends that you cut earlier. Now cut vertically (hotdog style or longways). So now you have four quarters-YOU DID IT. You have now cut a butternut.

Cover your quarters with olive oil and sprinkle some salt over those badboys! Now put them in the oven and roast until you poke the flesh with a fork and it’s nice and squishy. Make sure it’s cooked all the way through-not just on the edges.

When you’re thinking the squash almost done cook the onions in a bit of olive oil in the soup pot over medium heat. Make sure you don’t burn the onions. We’re creating art here, you can’t rush art. Cook until translucent. Now crumble the bouillon cube over the onions and cook for a few minutes until it’s smelly good. (If not using a bouillon cube just ignore that part).

You’re squash is done now? Great..take out of the oven and with a spoon scoop out the flesh into a bowl. If you put it straight in the pot it might get burnt. Toss out the seeds! Those are no good in the soup. Dump out the squash into the soup pot and add about a cup of water. If using chicken stock add it now. Stir it all around. Now add about 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Throw some salt and pepper in there and some dashes of paprika.

Now get out your blender appliance. If you want a thinner, more consistent consistency (see what I did there?) then throw all of the soup into your appliance and blend it until you like it. If it’s still a bit thick add water, or cream, or even left over chicken stock. But add it in small parts!!! You can always add to it, but you can’t take something out. If you like a thicker soup and want some bits of onion and squash in it, don’t blend all your soup.

Here’s the best tip of all-taste your soup often. If it needs a bit of this or a dash of that, add it. You’re a chef, remember?

Dish up your soup in some cute bowls and if you wanna be artsy fartsy dabble some heavy cream on top and dash some paprika! You just made butternut squash. Easy. DSC_0383IMG_1057

Still with me? I know, I’m the worst at recipes. But this is how I cook. Either I read lots of recipes for the same dish and add the parts I like, so that it’s one conglomerate recipe, or I just totally freestyle.

And here’s my favorite-DSC_0392Homemade Ricotta Cheese

If you cook often then there is a good chance that you’ll have these ingredients on hand already! Making ricotta is easy, cheap, and way more delicious than the store bought stuff! I got my tutorial here. I really like the lady in the video-she seems pretty sassy. You do need a candy (or deep fry) thermometer for this recipe. Cheese making is art AND science. You will also need cheese cloth or linen cloth. I read that someone didn’t have any so she just used a linen napkin. It took a lot longer, but it worked. They sell cheesecloth at the grocery store usually. Make sure to make this in a non reactive pot. No aluminum or copper (unless lined with tin)! It’ll make your cheese taste weird.

  • 1 gallon of whole milk-yes WHOLE milk
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1/2 cup of FRESH lemon juice
  • a colander
  • large bowl
  • cheesecloth
  • candy thermometer
  • ladle or large spoon

Here in Paris they don’t sell milk by the gallon. It’s sold by liters so I had to downsize and do some guestimating. This yields alotta cheese, so this is perfect if you’re having a party. Either serve it in a bowl fresh with some bread, crackers, or veg, or make some sort of h’or devour (pronounced “or derv”..ah now it makes sense :p).

To start off set up your cheese draining area. Put your colander over your large bowl. Layer your cheese cloth 3-4 times (I did three) over the colander. Done.

My cheese making station:DSC_0332In a pot heat the milk and heavy cream SLOWLY (I added the salt at this point even though it said to wait…I like to live dangerously) until it reaches 185F or 84C on your thermometer. It’s better to heat it on low and it take forever than to scorch your dairy. It’s very easy to do and is no fun-trust me. Stir it occasionally to prevent scorching.

Your dairy is getting frothy and smells like buttered popcorn (I think so anyways)? Good! You’re getting close. Keep checking that thermometer. Meanwhile juice your fresh lemons. I can not stress enough-do NOT use bottled lemon juice. It will not work.DSC_0333DSC_0337Once the dairy reaches the correct temperature take it off the heat (take it completely off the burner) and slowly add the lemon juice. With a wooden spoon or silicone spatula gently stir the pot to encourage curd development. Do this for a few minutes. Now you’re ready to drain your cheese!DSC_0339Slowly and gently ladle your cheese curds and whey (the clearish liquid left in the bottom of the pot) into the colander covered with cheese cloth. Do not dump it into the colander! It’ll squish the curds. Do this until all is in the cheesecloth. Depending on how firm you want the ricotta will correlate to draining time. I wanted mine a bit firm so I let mine drain for about an hour, but I think next time I’ll do less just to mix it up. Whatever you want. It’ll keep in the fridge for a couple days in a tupperware. If it gets a bit dry just add a tiny bit of milk.DSC_0343DSC_0347DSC_0349DSC_0357If you want you can also tie up the cheese cloth and hang it to drain from the kitchen faucet. It’s very rustic looking if you want to believe for a minute you live on a beautiful farm in the French countryside.

Voilá! You have now made your very own cheese.

Ricotta ideas-

Drizzle honey over the top and serve with fresh fruit and chopped almonds for a nice breakfast.

Serve over toasted bread with tomatoes and basil (what I did-tasted like a margherita pizza).

Mix into your next pasta for a creamy texture.DSC_0402DSC_0400DSC_0398

It was a wonderful and colorful dinner! Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you survived that post. Have a glass of wine!DSC_0377

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Of the infinite packing I should have done by now, I have managed to pick which projects, yarn, and blankets I am taking with me to Daniel’s… BUT HEY, at least I’ve done something, right? I went through every skein, every WIP, every single fiber I have in my possession. From this, I have gathered that I should not be allowed within 20 feet of a yarn store.DSC_0414I did manage to weed out some yarn I know I’ll never use. I don’t really have any friends in the area that knit or crochet though, so it’s tricky. I can’t just throw it out. I’m not a wasteful person, also…the yarn would get sad 😦 . Maybe I’ll put it for free on Craigslist and see if anyone comes to retrieve it. Yay or nay? Any New Yorkers want some free yarn?

I counted my total WIP’s(works in progress/projects) and I have over sixteen. SIXTEEN! Five blankets, a scarf, a cowl, three pairs of socks, and a baby sweater to name a few. I don’t even know anyone with a baby!!!DSC_0419Packing away yarn always pulls at my heartstrings. I hate seeing it all squished up, crammed in a plastic bin. I know I’ll pull it out and it’ll smell like inflatable furniture (anyone remember those things?!). But when I pull it out it’s like Christmas all over again! You know what 7 layer bean dip is? Well it’s a dish that moms always bring to potlucks and Super Bowl parties that is 7 layers of beans, cheese, salsa, sour cream, and lots of other amazing things. Anywho, while I was packing my yarn into the bin all I could think of was how I was making a 7 layer bean dip of yarn. I know, I know..I’m weird, but this is just how my mind works. DSC_0423DSC_0424The craft supplies were also haphazardly packed away. Hopefully there won’t be a crafting emergency in the next week. But one can really never know!DSC_0411DSC_0409DSC_0425DSC_0402On a more adult note, I am starting to genuinely panic about all that needs to be done. I still have to pack all my kitchen stuff, all trinkets from my room, linens, and bathroom stuff. Then I need to take all the giveaway stuff to goodwill, which is literally a suitcase and 7 trash bags full of clothes, shoes, and apartment crap. I had a serious shopping addiction for the first two years I lived in New York. Then I need to pack away the pantry, and separate everything into storage and what I’m taking to Daniel’s. Then do the two separate moves, come back and clean the apartment! AHHHHHHHHH! Good thing my mom is coming today! I can’t wait to see her :)!!!!!

As I mentioned above for a while I had a bit of a shopping addiction (no friends in new york, depressed about job, lonely, long distance boyfriend fueled the fire). To get rid of as much stuff as possible I had a rooftop yard sale with my friends this past weekend! It was a grand ole time and I got rid of right many clothes and even a painting and a mirror. I made whopping $56 and was happier than a clam, but unfortunately I still have so much stuff I could probably start my own thrift store. photo-33Danny boy and I ventured out in Brooklyn one night, which to be honest is quite rare for us considering how much we love a comfy bed and Netflix. We were walking about the trendy hood of Williamsburg when we just could not find a place we both wanted to eat. We were cold, hungry, wandering aimlessly, on the verge of being hangry when all of a sudden we both looked up and saw this odd Japanese looking structure.

D: “What’s that place?”

V: “I dunno..some Japanese place, but I don’t know anything about it and I’ve never seen anyone go in or come out before”

D: “Let’s check it out.”

V: “Okey doke”

We go inside and it’s AWESOMMMMMEEEE! They for some reason had an opening and we were seated right away. The restaurant has no windows by the way, so we can no clue what to expect. The host leads us to our table when we realize everyone gets their own cute little private booth/room! It’s Japanese tapas style and we ordered to our heart’s content. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I still don’t know the name of the place..oops. But man was it a fun adventure. Sometimes the best places are the ones you would never go to in a million years. I sure do like being pleasantly surprised. This weekend was extremely satisfying. 🙂photo-34

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At the moment, daily life for me consists of waking up, tea and breakfast, castings, and then home I go to do more packing, cleaning, and organizing. If you haven’t heard I am moving again. This will make four moves in less than four years.

Ask anyone who lives in New York, and they will most certainly agree that finding an apartment and moving in New York City is the biggest nightmare EVER. I am not exaggerating, people. For the time being I’m moving in with my boyfriend for a few months until I have enough money to officially move. Most apartments here require first and last months rent, and a security deposit, which amounts to your monthly rent. This is not including paying for movers, and a broker. So by the time you are moved you have spent anywhere from 6,000-10,000 depending on how much your rent is, how much moving costs, and the broker fee you agreed on, which is around 12-15% of your YEARLY rent.

Did I mention my boyfriend has four roommates who are all guys, all of them students? YEAH. So this should be interesting. The next couple weeks will be crunch time for me. Luckily, my wonderful mom is coming to help me move. She’s a saint. Stressed out me is not pretty and somehow she still comes every year to help me move and deals with my ‘tude. Thanks mom!

One of the hardest things about this whole situation is having to decide which stuff goes into storage and which will come with me to the Dude Palace. Obviously, some yarn will have to go into storage 😦 . Also most of my kitchen/baking stuff. Sigh…

Okay enough about moving, I have been on a cooking/baking roll (pun intended?) these days! I’ve made a 5 spice cranberry upside down cake, vegan chocolate chip cookies with sea salt, and attempted to make a pavlova (more on that disaster later). I’ve also been trying out new recipes and cooking out yingyang. I don’t always get pictures of everything. Sometimes I just want to enjoy the process and not have to stop every second and photograph all the steps. Sometimes I just eat the dang thing before I can even think about pictures. Sometimes the outcome just looks so horrendous I don’t even want it documented (pavlova I’m looking at you). That being said, the kitchen makes me feel so contented.

Here’s a peek into my week.DSC_0360DSC_0314DSC_0277DSC_0250Daniel and I are trying to do weekly menus. We’re hoping it will eliminate the whole “it’s 8 o clock, what do you want to eat, I don’t want to cook, let’s just get takeout” situation. The good news is I love looking at recipes. I love looking through cook books, I love trying new things, so this will be pretty easy, me thinks. Or at least, I hope so. DSC_0354DSC_0292DSC_0380DSC_0373DSC_0313DSC_0273Yesterday I made Danny lunch and brought it to him. It was spectacular weather, so we sat on his office roof and ate up some Greek style pork chops, and Israeli salad. I also brought the vegan chocolate chip cookies with sea salt, and some garlic hummus. SO GOOD, PEOPLE! It was such a wonderful treat to get to have lunch together. DSC_0332photo-30DSC_0303DSC_0324DSC_0348DSC_0312DSC_0238Daniel and I also had a rainy day adventure this weekend. We ate breakfast at the smallest Jewish diner you ever did see, we walked all the way cross town and had coffee and hot chocolate on the Highline, walked through Washington Square Park, and then came home to warm snuggly blankets, and hot soup with sandwiches for lunch. image-274photo-31I finished a book also! I finally finished All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and I must say, I loved reading this book. You know when you come across a book you love reading so much that you don’t ever want it to end. This was that book for me. Such a spectacular read!

This week has been hectic, but also so so sweet.

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Recently I have become slightly overwhelmed at all I need to do, but mostly what I haven’t done. I’m probably going to be traveling overseas sometime soon, and there’s just so much to do! My dresser broke about a week ago…I mean, it’s been broken for a while and I just kept nailing the drawers back together (the bottoms kept falling out) or gorilla glueing them together. It worked for a while but this time they just all broke at once. It’s time to get a new dresser. I need to sort and clean and straighten and this and that. You know how it goes.

One thing I have managed to get done is laundry. I love doing laundry. It’s so fulfilling. I had put off a month or two’s worth of laundry because laundry in New York will cost you an arm and a leg and I hate hauling a huge 30 lb bag of laundry down the street. But guess what?! I found out my building has laundry in the basement. I’ve done almost 6 loads of laundry since. YUS.

You know you’re an adult when you get excited over laundry.

Lately there has also been a huge knitting/crochet guilt laid upon me. I feel extremely guilty when I don’t make people things for birthdays/holidays/justbecause. I just don’t have time. I’m already slow and a huge procrastinator. But the things I do make for people are ALWAYS late. I’m frantically trying to finish up some WIP’s (fiber art lingo for ‘work in progress’) before I leave for Europe. I know I won’t get most of them done, and I’ll have to take them along or put them off for another couple months. Ugh. While sorting some yarn I did find one WIP that was easy enough to finish.


I started this bag a few months before Christmas as a carry-all/grocery bag for my sister.I literally made the entire bag and finished about 20 rows short of finishing the handle. Why did I not finish this?! I have the WORST project jumping and I get bored way too easily. And don’t get me on started on the fact that I get into knitting funks where I think I’m terrible and the project will end up being terrible. I have a few of those. I honestly need to get a grip on my WIP’s. Let’s take a pictorial journey through a few:




That last one was going to be a cat..I made half of the head and that’s it. HA! Any of these look familiar? Yeah, thought so.

One WIP I’m am very excited about is the Granny Stripe blanket. I’ve started working on it again, and I have to say it is looking very good.




This picture reminded me of a childhood memory. My dad grew up in a very small town in North Carolina called Dunn. There’s a hotdog joint there called Norris’ Frozen Custard. Growing up, a visit to my grandparents normally meant we would eat lunch there, or if we were on the way to the beach. They had a large freezer full of different ice creams and these colors reminded me so much of them. Not like vanilla or chocolate, or sorbet, but the cotton candy ice-cream or mint chocolate chip, and particularly the bubblegum. I used to love just looking at them and imagining what they all tasted like. Unfortunately I haven’t been to Norris’ (pronounced NAR-ruses not NOR if you’re a local) in a few years, but I still crave their hotdogs and fries. The best in the world if you ask me.

One other project I’ve begun, but not too worried about is the Beekeeper’s Quilt by tinyowlknits. Basically, as a way to use up leftover sock yarn it’s an afghan comprised of hundreds upon hundreds of knitted honeycomb. These honeycomb have lovingly been monikered “hexipuffs” as they are stuffed with fluff. The hexipuffs take about 45 minutes each to make, so it’s not something you can crack out in a few weeks or even months. Many people make a few hexipuffs at a time during their spare time over several years.

DSC_0187So far my hexipuff count is up to five. HA! Patience.

I hope wherever you are in the world today, you are having a most lovely, sunny day. It’s raining and 46 degrees here…but it’s okay because I’m listening to Bill Withers 🙂


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Sunny days are ahead. It’s supposed to snow this Thursday, but I’m just going to ignore that fact. This weekend has been full of vitamin D and outside time. I love sitting in my room with the window open hearing the birds chirping, rare as those birds might be in New York.ImageI’ve just been a lazy lump this week. Didn’t get much of anything done. I did make some cheese scones, which turned out amazing. I also got my hair dyed! I love it. I think I look like a vampire..sppooookkkyy!ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageHope everyone has had a most sunny week/weekend. I am promising myself right now that I’ll get more fiber arts done this week. No more excuses, Vic.

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Hope everyone out there had a relaxing and wonderful weekend. Mine was full of crochet, sock knitting, and grey days. Tonight we are going to be battling a snow storm here in the city. Stay warm, friends!

Don’t forget to follow my instragram for more fuzzy adventures! — themenagerie

I have way too much yarn. I know crocheters and knitters all agree they can never have “too much” yarn, but the thing is..I do. It’s taken over an entire corner of my New York city (way too small) bedroom. However, i know I can never part with all my squishy balls of color. So what’s a gal to do? Make a scrap blanket.

ImageThis blanket isn’t a typical “scrap-looking” blanket. It’s more of a Use Up As Much Yarn As I Can blanket. I have about 25 balls of Stylecraft dk laying around my apartment so I for sure knew this was the “scrap yarn”. But what pattern? It needs to be easy, and fast, and easy. (ha!) AHA! The granny stripe. Granny stripe rules. It’s a bit more something than just sc’s or dc’s, but it’s not going to involve weaving in a million loose ends and cutting this yarn and that yarn. (Also why I decided to go with a thicker stripe)ImageImageCaked all my yarn. LOVE IT.ImageImageImageI love seeing the bursts of color around my room 🙂ImageImageImageIt has been oh so lovely doing a mindless, colorful, fast-working project. Now I’m off to add more color 🙂 🙂

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