February Daring Bakers' Challenge

The ladyfingers (Savoiardi biscuits)...
the mascarpone cheese (I made cheese!)...
the vanilla pastry cream and zabaglione...
the espresso...
bringing it all together...
tiramisu! The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession. The reveal day was yesterday but we were too busy eating this and I forgot to.

EZ #2

The Tomten is finished, and it looks like the Bee is not wearing pants.   I assure you that she is wearing a dress.  Albeit a short dress.  The hair is indicative of just waking up which is definitely the case here.  She likes it.  The Tomten that is.  And me too.  It was a fun knit.   It ate up five very big balls of wool and some scraps along the way.  The construction is ingenius.  The wool and garter stitch makes this extremely warm and cushy and cozy.  I want to make 300 more.  Honest.

What pattern shall I tackle next?  The Baby Surprise Jacket?  A blanket/shawl?  Some fair-isle?  Hmmm.

Happy Sunday!


Wintry Blues

This is what it's looked like outside my house this week.  It's been blustery and snowy and wet and slushy and windy and cold.  Just perfect for keeping me inside and knitting like a fiend.  I've finished all the knitting on the tomten.  I only left the house to buy a zipper.  Seams are being sewn, some ends need weaving, and I'll get that zipper on, and I'll be done.    That will be two EZ patterns down, and ten left to go!  Hollah!


Got milk?

We're soy milk drinkers. We seldom have "real" milk in the house and when we do, it sits in the fridge and then eventually spoils. I opened up the nearly full litre of milk that we had in the fridge (from Mr. T's foray into birthday cake baking) and immediately noticed the sour smell emanating from the jug. Gross, yet the frugal Fran in me felt like it was such a waste so off I went to Google some ideas for what I could do with all of this bad milk. There are tons of recipes out there! You would be surprised at what can be made out of sour milk. There's everything from cheese to quick bread to chocolate cake, which is what I made.
Essentially, sour milk is like buttermilk and any recipe calling for buttermilk can be substituted with that jug of sour milk that's sitting in your fridge. This cake was delicious, chocolatey, moist, and you would never guess that there was spoiled milk in it. When life gives you sour milk, make chocolate cake!


I slipped into the Goodwill this afternoon, and I scored a set of four Denby mugs for $4.  They remind me of our living room - the white trim, mantle, ceiling and sofas with cream walls and dark brown hardwood floors.  And they're pretty groovy, right?  Mmmm . . . hot cocoa, here I come!


Monkeys in the Basement

The Bumblebee has her male counterpart over to play tonight, and crazy noises are coming up the stairs.  They're engaged in a game of Super Mario Bros.  The Bee says 'bros' instead of 'brothers', and it's making me giggle still.   Never occurred to me to say 'bros'.  

My knitting has taken a hit this week.  I've been busy with work, but that usually doesn't stop me from progressing.  I had the first sleeve on the Tomten almost finished when I realized that I had read EZ's instructions wrong.  I've been decreasing twice as fast as I should have been - decreasing every three rows when I should have been decreasing every three RIDGES.  I could not live with it, and had to do a dangerous frog back past the live pit stitches.   Alas, all stitches were picked up and accounted for, and I've started again down the arm.   Oh EZ!  You and your ridges!  I should have seen it coming.

It was also with best intentions that I thought I could participate in Ravelympics, and I cast on last Friday for an Ishbel shawl, but I've been so consumed with the Tomten that I have stalled.  I honestly do not see me finishing a lace project in one week.   I might finish off a few pair of mittens that have been snoozing on my ravelry 'projects' page which would score me some points in the ufo event.   We'll see. 

T asked me this week which EZ book she should invest in first, so I will answer her in this space.  It appears she's waffling between Knitters Almanac and Knitting Without Tears.  Both are in my collection.  Both are quite inexpensive.  Both have the same number of patterns - 18 or 19 give or take one or two.  I spent some time comparing them on ravelry because it gives you a more visual idea of the patterns.  I don't believe there is any overlap between the two books.  In other EZ books, there is much overlap.  For instance The Opinionated Knitter is a good comprehensive collection of the best, and it is the only book with photos of the projects in colour!   The Knitters Workshop is my newest EZ book and fast becoming one of my favourites.  It has everything - lots of sweaters, lace, colourwork, and all the accessories one needs.  It starts off easy, and you quickly build your skills by turning the pages.   Back to the Almanac and Tears.  The Almanac doesn't have the nicest adult-sized sweaters, but it's worth every penny for the February Baby Sweater.  You've seen me knit this twice, and I plan to knit dozens more.  It's the perfect baby sweater pattern.  And it's stunning.  The Almanac is the only place you'll find it.   That's why you need it.  Knitting Without Tears (KWT) has loads of instruction that are handy for even the most seasoned knitter.  It captures EZ's great and versatile sweater patterns - the Tomten, the seamless hybrid, the kangaroo pouch sweater, saddle-shoulder and raglan and more.  If you want more sweaters, this is the book.  Plus the how-to's are golden.  The Almanac is great reading though.  It's like you were invited to sit by the fire with EZ herself, and you are sitting there listening to her wild adventures to the clicking of her needles.  I realize I am all over the place with this book recommendation, so I am going to summarize the pros of each below:

Knitters Almanac - February Baby Sweater!, storytelling, monthly projects covering all bases
Knitting Without Tears - a plethora of fantastic sweaters, lots of instructional pictures and text
Knitting Workshop - instruction amidst the patterns, stuffed to the gills with patterns, Baby Surprise Jacket!
The Opinionated Knitter - PICTURES!! Lots.  In colour., a compilation of the best EZ

Now it's everyone else's turn to help T.  Please add your two cents in the comments!


A birthday for Francis

This is the very delicious cake that my husband made for me on Friday for my birthday. Can you believe that the man made a cake, complete with vanilla frosting and sheep and flower decorations? Ok, so I had pre-made the sheep and flowers for a previous cake project but he had the insight to put them on the cake. It tasted as good as it looks. I have since demanded that I get this cake every year.
I also finished the Francis Revisited sweater about a week ago. I still need to block it but I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. I modified the sleeves and made them longer and omitted the increases and made the cowl more of a turtleneck. Knit out of Cascade Eco wool, this thing will keep me toasty during this seemingly endless winter. Now I am working on a Long Rabbit amigurumi, which was one of the many birthday gifts that N sent to me. I adore this pattern and plan on making a herd of rabbits, which apparently is what a group of rabbits is called.

Rice Sock

We're pretty much all about the rice socks right now.  Every girl needs one.  Get yourself a sock.  Fill it with rice.  Jasmine-scented rice would be sweet, but not necessary.  Sew it up so's to keep the rice in the sock.   Tie a pretty ribbon round it.  You're done.  To enjoy, simply pop it in the microwave on high for one minute.  The Bumblebee likes to wear it tucked in her hoodies around her neck.   When it's not on her neck or reheating in the microwave, it can be found at the foot of her bed under all the blankets to warm up her feet when she gets under the covers.   When the heat hits us this summer, we're going to chill out with a rice sock fresh out of the freezer.  The fun never ends around here.



The girls are currently hyped up on a butt-load of sugar.   In my defense, I put out a giant platter of fruit and veggies.  One stick of celery seems to be missing.   This does not bode well for parents due to arrive any minute.


Pre-Tea Party

The table has been set.  I made a pink banner to hang across the fireplace.  Cupcakes await icing.  One girl is wearing her fanciest dress.   Next up: peanut butter and jam sandwiches with the crusts cut off.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Another Year Older

Dear T,

We baked you a cake, iced it and sprinkled it with lots of chocolate chips, but you never came.  So we invited a gaggle of teenagers to watch lame movies in our basement and eat pizza and drink pop.  The cat's got the right idea.  I found her curled up sleeping on top of a mountain of clean clothes in the laundry room.  So smart.

How are you celebrating your birthday several states away from here?   I imagine that Mr. T will take you out for dinner - so that you can eat a lot of meat.   Maybe Ikea for a plate of Swedish meatballs?   I can't even begin to guess because you guys are ten kinds of crazy.   You must tell me all about it next week.   Guaranteed you're in good hands.   Happy birthday, mon ami!  Here's wishing that you get everything you wish for and more.


Five more weeks

This is the view from our second floor sun room. Last week the groundhog forecasted another six weeks of winter and from my vantage point, I believe him.

Party Leftovers

Right now I'm belting out this song.

Off to plan a Valentine's Day tea party.  Toodles.



What I will remember about this day:

Your little sister badly wanted to buy you a fish named Chuck Norris.
You watched Avatar and declared it 'epic'.
You had a fit when we tried to make you eat dinner with the little kids.
You cleaned up in the money department 'cause you're saving up for a trip to Quebec.
You surprised your grandparents by ordering an iced cappucino for breakfast in February.
You told everyone you were making a film about a massacre for school.
You got underwear, and we all laughed.
I wrote on your facebook wall, "Happy Butt-day!"
And to top it all off, we got you a rainbow cake 'cause Costco doesn't carry robot cakes.

Every day you are still alive and breathing is another day I chalk down to my success as a mum.  When I had you, I was so flippin' anxious that I wouldn't water you enough or give you enough sunlight.  You are my biggest accomplishment, my dear.  I have a feeling that these teenage years are going to be a breeze!  I swear I can hear laughing.  Nah. Must be my imagination.


How the Tomten Got Its Stripes

I have five balls of Patons Classic Merino in a dark peacock-y teal, and the Bee declared it absolutely perfect for the Tomten jacket.   Alas, the garter stitch has been gobbling up what I had confidently decided would be plenty of yardage for a 7-year old-sized garment.  And to be honest, it was getting a bit boring.  I wanted a little dazzle.  I dug up some worsted-weight scraps, and I went to work trying to keep it random but in a very planned way.  I like how it turned out.  The Bee only insisted that there be pink, and I made certain that all the stripes met her approval.   From here on in, I will be sticking to the peacock.  Or sticking it to the peacock.