Ready to Go Trick-or-Treating!

Jack'o'Lanterns - check!

Happy Halloween . . .


Let's Review October, Shall We?

:: Carrot tops from Thanksgiving dinner (My first time cooking a whole turkey, and it was a bona fide success!)

:: Same carrot tops three weeks later!
:: My newest favouritest soup - lentil barley vegetable! So easy, and so yummy. Into the crockpot in the morning, and instant dinner in the evening. I like my bowl with a generous dallop of plain yogurt and sprinkled with fresh parsley.

:: And I've been knitting behind the scenes. Mittens. Mainly because it first appeared that the Bumblebee had lost every pair that I had previously knit, but I did eventually end up finding one pair, and that is when this new newfie pair stalled. They seriously just need thumbs. That was two weeks ago.
:: I've also cast on for another February Baby Sweater using a cotton tweed dk in lilac. It's going to be a bit bigger than my first one. I like that it will be easily washed and it is very soft. I need to have this one done in three weeks, so I should really get a move on.
:: On the to-do list today is carving pumpkins and coming to an agreement on a costume. We also need to squeeze in a trip to the library and market. Maybe find a PG Halloween movie to watch as a family.
:: Tomorrow the Bumblebee starts field hockey.

Happy Halloween

Boo!Hope everyone has a safe and spooky Halloween!

October 2009 Daring Baker's Challenge and Swine flu

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Thank you Ami for choosing this recipe! I have wanted to try my hand at making French macarons ever since experiencing these tasty little cookies at Pierre Herme in Paris. The macaron shops in Paris reminded me of jewelry stores with their glass cases of beautifully coloured confections. We were equally impressed with the ones at Laduree, especially the pistachio macarons. Yum!

I was excited to make these and read nearly every post on the Daring Baker's forum in anticipation of possible failures. I, like everyone else, was after those illusive little feet that grow on the cookies during baking. A few too many or a few too little strokes while mixing up the batter will result in no feet. A too hot oven may result in no feet. Batter too wet? No feet! Needless to say I was nervous when I started this recipe on Sunday. A few days before I started I aged my egg whites in a bowl on the counter and I made my own almond flour too, which I left out to dry. That part was easy enough. Oh, and did I mention that I started making these as symptoms of Swine flu were coming on (more about that later)? That surely did not help matters.

Here are the shells drying before being put into the oven for the first time. They are green tea flavoured.
I held my breath as I opened the oven door after the second baking and low and behold......feet! Glorious feet! I think Mr. T heard my screams of "they have feet!" from the living room. I think I may have browned the shells a little too much but they didn't stick to the parchment paper at all and they were wonderfully chewy on the inside.After they cooled I sandwiched them with a green tea infused white chocolate ganache. These babies were tasty! Not quite Pierre Herme but they will do in a pinch when I feel like having macarons but don't have the time to fly to Paris. Oh, and as it turns out I most likely do have the H1N1 virus. I was prescribed Tamiflu today and will go in for tests tomorrow. I don't think I've gotten off of the couch for three days. Well, at least I don't have to share any of my macarons!

One Alien Cookie

Looking for cool Halloween and autumnal cookies that are equally delicious? Angelos. I would have thought that the Bee would have chosen a spooky ghost or a sparkly apple, but she went with the one-eyed alien. How did I end up with two fanatical sci-fi girls? I'm going to blame this on their father who watches the sci-fi channel religiously along with the history channel. Have I ever mentioned Hitler's Daughter? The Bee's fascination with evil lairs? The purple marshmallow? One thing we're not short of around here is imagination. It makes for interesting dinner conversations. I think I'll stick with rainbows and unicorns and sleep with one eye open (ironically much like the cookie).


Two of my little family are down with something or other and have been delegated to their respective beds under lots of blankets. I am going to go to work and try to stay clear of germy germs as much as possible. Last night after reading another chapter of Anne of Green Gables to the littlest, she looked up at me with the saddest big eyes and asked very seriously if I could tell her what that "N2D2" was. It took me only the slightest pause to decipher her question. I said that the H1N1 virus was a flu that made people really sick. It was called the swine flu, but the pigs got upset. (I tried to get her to smile.) She looked like she was going to cry, and said that it sounded really dangerous. I gave her a big hug and told her that I've researched this flu, and I am pretty familiar with the signs and everything was going to be just fine. Plus there's no sign that this kid has H1N1. My lord. Poor kid. Wish me luck avoiding whatever they have which may be next to impossible. Someone's got to take care of these people!


Crossing over to the dark side

After my foray into crochet with the Elizabeth Blanket I decided that I was ready to continue with the hooking. I told this to N, who disapprovingly discouraged me from stepping over to the "dark side" where they use one stick with a hook on the end instead of properly using two sticks. So over the weekend I secretly started on my very first fully crocheted project and by Sunday night I looked down at my yarn and weird hook thing and there was this:
How could you not want to crochet if the fruits of your labour yields such an adorable object? I am in love with this penguin and I am really vibing on how quick crochet is. My thumbs are a little sore after my first weekend of doing this new activity but I've already casted on (does one "cast on" in crochet?) for a little amigurumi ghost. In the beginning when my friend taught me how to crochet I didn't like it. My first project was a dish cloth that was barely rectangular and was quickly frogged. These little amigurumi animals are a cinch because you're just crocheting in a circle. If you haven't crossed over to the dark side yet, I say leave your inhibitions at the door and go for it!
Playing around with the light box...this "prop" is supposed to be an iceberg, in case you were wondering.

Fleece Festival Fun

While it might not be Rhinebeck, my sweet hometown held its first ever Fleece Festival today. It was just the fix I needed. Not to mention, it was being held in the building beside the Saturday Farmers' Market (translation: VANILLA SLICES!!). Yis. I inhaled a vanilla slice for breakfast, and I am SO cool with that. Swoon. It seems weird that no one else was shoving their faces with vanilla slices. I'd like to imagine that the citizens of Woodstock eat them day and night. Seeing as there is never a slice to be found after 9:30 a.m., I'm thinking I couldn't possibly be that far off.

Reason #91 why I shouldn't feel guilty for leaving the girls at home today. This little guy was lying on the floor for a long time. I had plenty of time to find my camera in the bottom of my bag, turn it on, take the cap off, find the setting and focus. People were just walking around him.

I restocked the sock yarn stash and bought some dk cotton for a baby sweater gift that needs to be done by mid-November. No regrets! Hey! Remember that New Order song? Oh lord, I loved that song in high school. Ah, Regret. Okay, I'm off to go play some old New Order/Joy Division tunes and reminisce. Good times.
Happy weekend!


Elizabeth Blanket

Last week I became an aunt again for the fourth time. My sister, the only one out of all of us girls (there are four of us) who has kids, had her fourth child on October 7, 2009. Little Elizabeth came one day early but the family happily welcomed her, as did her two big sisters and brother. I have not seen her yet as they live in the Vancouver area but Mr. T and I are so delighted and have plans on heading out West in the coming months.

I casted on for this blanket, not really knowing how it would turn out. I wanted a basic blanket that was cushy and had no large holes in it that little fingers could get caught in. What came about was the Elizabeth Blanket, a nice, pebbly stitch with a crochet picot edge, just enough girly pinkness for a fourth child (I know, I am a fourth child!).

Here is the pattern that I've written up. This is my first pattern so please bear with me. If you find any mistakes or would like to give me some advice on proper pattern writing, I would welcome your comments. Feel free to modify this pattern for a smaller/larger blanket.
Elizabeth Blanket

Needles: Size 9 (5.5 mm) circular knitting needle

Crochet Hook: Size 9 (5.5 mm)

Yarn: MC - 6 balls Lion Brand Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton in “Almond”

CC - 1 ball Lion Brand Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton in “Strawberry”

This yarn is classified as "Medium" or worsted-weight.

Gauge: doesn’t matter too much since this is a blanket

Finished size: Approximately 50 inches X 30 inches

Using size 9 circular needle CO 120 stitches.

Row 1: *k2, p2*, repeat from * to * until end of row

Row 2: *k2, p2”, repeat from * to * until end of row

Essentially you will knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches until all 6 balls of MC are used up. Be sure to save enough yarn to bind off. Weave in loose ends.

To finish add a crochet picot edge using CC. You can do a single crochet row around the blanket before you begin your picot (I did not) but then you would need more than one ball of CC (about 1 ½ balls is my guess).

I have written the instructions for doing a crochet picot edge below but never having written instructions for crochet before, I fear that I may be confusing you, dear reader, more than I am helping. Bear with me. If after reading my horrid instructions, you are left with more questions than answers, have a look at this video.

This is actually how I learned crochet picot edging. I watched this video twice, picked up my blanket and had the edging done within 2 hours! Easy, pretty, and very satisfying.

Instructions for crochet picot edge:

Chain 3

Work a single crochet into the first chain.

Work a single crochet into each of the next 2 “stitches” or holes.

Using the last single crochet that you did, chain 3 and repeat (single crochet into first chain, single crochet, single crochet, chain 3, etc.).

Continue the picot edge all the way around the blanket until you reach your first picot, cut the yarn and weave in the end.

The Perimeter

While we waited for the roast to cook, my dad took us for a walk around "The Perimeter". My mum made El wear a pair of her runners instead of her flippy floppies (we can't stop saying flippy floppies, and we blame The Lonely Island). Good thing though. I could have sworn that the guy was cutting a trail as we walked, but I have no proof as I was way behind. We even staged a couple of full family shots using my knits to prop up our cameras while my dad muttered, "Mental note. Tripod. Christmas." But it worked, and my sister and I got some excellent shots. And when we returned back to the house, my sweet nephew climbed a cement pillar and chuffed all over the garden. The little guy was alright and smiling ear-to-ear. He's just a puker, that's all. I asked him if he knew it was coming, and he nodded and noted that he was just waiting until he was high enough. Fun times all around. I laughed until I had tears running down my cheeks. People say I'm entertaining, but I ain't got nothing on these people.

Happy Thanksgiving

Today I'm thankful for a healthy family, a good job, a cozy house, lots of friends, and a giant container of delicious turkey leftovers. A hot cup of coffee and my knitting ain't a bad deal either. : )

A Cowl, Acorns and Applesauce

The Bee and I made some applesauce the other day with a handful of apples, some water, sugar and cinnamon, and it turned out awesome. I think this is one of those things that you just make up as you go along, and everything is sure to be okay.

We've been collecting acorn hats to eventually quench our thirst for felted acorns. I'll let you know how that goes. Eventually.

And Lauren was right. That cashmere was perfect for a Purl Cashmere Cowl. It was simply endless 1x1 ribbing until I used every inch of it up. The Bee would like to think it's hers, but I am only prepared to share it at this point.
Happy Sunday, everyone!


PS. The turkey is in the oven stuffed with stuffing. Mmmm-mmm-mmmm . . .

Slowly Waking Up

I forgot that I hadn't shown you proof that the sweater is being worn - here it is. The front looks the same as the back. I am a horrible model - as soon as the camera clicks, my face contorts into awkward grimaces and weird jerks. Seriously, I think I make normal faces most of the time. Cameras freak me out. Well, when they're pointed at me. I am a zillion times more comfortable being behind the camera. Regardless, the sweater is finished, and I learned many things - proper seaming techniques and drop-down shoulders are not flattering. Did everyone else know this? I will never knit me a drop-down shoulder sweater again. I look like a quarterback.

Enough about that, I have to hunt down a turkey - preferably a fresh kill since I haven't the time to thaw a frozen one since we would like to eat the bird tomorrow night. This all crept on me a little too quickly when I was reading the Bee's Thanksgiving wish, and all the kid wants is turkey. She's a turkey monster. I thought it sweet until ten minutes later while reading an email from my dad in which he mentioned that my pies would nicely complement my mum's roast beef. EEK!! So off to the market, I must go and find a small-ish turkey to feed just the four of us. This will also be my first time cooking a turkey. I've got Donna Hay beside me to help. I can not go wrong.

Happy Saturday!



Where did September go? Do we really only have two and a half months left to finish holiday knitting? I'll probably need to send my presents out at least ten days before Christmas if I want them to make it out to Vancouver on time (it's Toronto for the holidays this year). Getting shipped out west will be these fuzzy bunny slippers for Niece #2 who is four this year.
The pattern is Plush Bunny Slippers from Lion Brand (login required) with some of my own modifications. They seem kind of wide but I showed them to a few people at the lunch table and was assured that they would be fine. One Christmas gift knitted, about a million more to go.


I think I may have a new love. Pods. Oh sweet pods of baby alien boobies. Now they're all over my mantle. I regret that I didn't also steal a slice of home-baked pecan pie while I was there.


Back from a relaxing one-night retreat by the beach with friends. That was very nice.


Morning Sunshine

It's a bit chilly outside today, but so bright and full of sunshine. Puts a big smile effortlessly across my face and a spring in my step. I've finally succombed to turning the heat back on in the house despite this, but I felt it was needed when - gasp! - my hands were too cold to knit. The wool blankets have been unearthed and are at the ready. It's nearly hibernation time. Is it silly that I've saved up a good amount of vacation time for the deepest of wintry days? I would adore a job that required working through good weather and staying inside all cozy during the bad. Now that I think about it, I have a dear friend who does just that. However, I am accustomed to a 7-hour work day and couldn't possibly imagine working from sun up to sun down for three-quarters of the year - even if it meant working for myself. I'm lazy like that. :)
I finished the sweater, and I already have two more projects nearing completion. Plus I've been sewing again! Pictures of my recent craftiness to come as soon I am able to time daylight with being home.