Easter Weekend

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This past weekend was our yearly trek to Virginia to visit Paul’s brother and his family.  Eleven of us in the house, including two toddlers (the Doodlebugs) and while it was tiring, it was very fun as usual.  On the way down, we took a little detour to show Paul’s mom Amish country and we stopped at the little touristy shopping area for lunch:


When we arrived in Virginia there was the usual: lots of eating and sitting around the table chatting.  We had these great Easter basket cupcakes made by our niece Erica:


And of course there was a trip to the local yarn shop in Old Town, Fibre Space, with my sister-in-law (and fellow knitter) Anita:


Where I was the only one who purchased something:


Neighborhood Fiber Company, Studio Sport, in the “Shaw” colorway; some stitch markers (I need stitch markers like I need a hole in the head but I just can’t help myself when I see a kind that I don’t have.); and a $2 bag.  I need a bag like I need a hole in the head too, but it was $2.  Seriously. Who wouldn’t?

Next door to the yarn shop was Olio, a great olive oil store in which we tasted no olive oil but tried every kind of balsamic vinegar that was there.  So yummy.  I ended up with Cherry Balsamic, and this wonderfully yummy Bourbon Onion Jam which was excellent on our burgers the next day:


Easter Sunday was church, dinner, Easter Egg Hunt in the back yard, another dinner and lots of dessert.  Lots more time spent around the table chatting and playing Uno.

And I got to take home my yearly stash of tomato plants that Anita grew from seed:


Thanks for doing all the hard work Anita!

One of the best parts was that the weather was gorgeous!  Seventy degrees and everything was green and blooming and just lovely.  We spent some time outside walking, playing and just enjoying the sunshine.  We will hold that in our memories until the brown yuckiness here goes away.  I am encouraged that the crocuses and daffodils persevered during our last (hopefully) snowfall last week:

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There was some knitting.  Some I can’t show you and some I will show you next post…

Two Shutterbean Recipes

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I love the Shutterbean Blog.  Lots of great recipes and, in addition, Tracy is a great photographer and her design sense is inspiring.  Recently I made a couple of her recipes….

Crispy Smashed Potatoes with arugula pesto were wonderfully crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and extra specially yummy dipped in arugula pesto.

First the pesto.  Lots of arugula and some garlic….


I then realized the recipe called for fresh basil too, which I didn’t see when composing my shopping list (after all, it’s called Arugula Pesto, not Arugula-Basil Pesto), so I added a ton of freeze dried basil I had in my spice cupboard!

Add toasted pecans (the recipe calls for walnuts but I didn’t have any because I don’t like them)…


Then olive oil and lemon juice….


The recipe also calls for nutritional yeast.  Never heard of it before.  It’s apparently popular with vegans as it’s a complete protein and has some vitamins.  I wasn’t feeling in the need for a complete protein, since we were eating burgers with the potatoes, so I didn’t go out of my way to find it.

Then on to the potatoes.  Boil some little potatoes then let them drain and pat them dry…

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Take a sturdy measuring cup and smash each potato….


Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, cook in the oven, flip them, cook them some more and then serve….


Really, really yummy and crispy and wonderful!

The second thing I made of Tracy’s was the Reset Button Salad.  Or some semblance of it.  I got creative.  I was looking for something healthy to take for my lunches and this was perfect.

I grated carrots and cucumber (I forgot to get a red pepper, which I’ve used in this salad before too); chopped up some scallions and celery, sprinkled dried cranberries, crumbled some gorgonzola and cooked up some quinoa:


Then I put arugula on top so it wouldn’t wilt and then realized I didn’t get a picture of the quinoa so I took the arugula out….


Put the arugula back in and put it in the fridge for my lunches during the week.  When I was ready to eat (say, at a picnic in the living room while babysitting the doodlebugs), I sprinkled toasted pecans on top and drizzled with balsamic dressing…


(see that blanket under the table?  I knit that for one of my doodlebugs!)

Totally yummy and delicious with lots of different flavors and textures.  Also got that owl bowl from seeing it on Shutterbean.  They are the perfect size for taking salad to lunch.  Got them at World Market here.  The doodlebugs spent the whole lunch saying, “Hello Owls!  What are YOU doing?”  The answer: “Sitting on a branch, helping Auntie Liz hold her salad.”

By the way, Tracy and I have something in common:  We love, Love, LOVE arugula.  It’s just awesome. She’s got several recipes using it. (Go check out her blog!)

Scrapping Plans

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Oh my gosh – I think Spring is finally here!  How do I know?  For one thing, our pond finally un-froze two days ago:


And yesterday morning, I did my yearly wake-up-at-6:30-am-to-the-loud-sound-of-two-Canada-geese-honking-and-landing-in-our-pond-then-run-out-in-the-backyard-in-my-bright-pink-robe-waving-my-arms-and-shooshing-them-away ritual.  The mallard couple I look forward to seeing.  Huge, annoying, Canada geese? Not so much.

The snow is almost gone:


And I got to go outside with the doodlebugs several times to run on the basketball court, wave to our shadows and go on the swings and slide:

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And this weekend it is supposed to be near 70 degrees which is so welcome after the cold!

How about a knitting update?

I knitted like crazy to get that Sprial Shadow Scarf done:


I like it. But it is VERY heavy.  Fourteen ounces of yarn.  That is almost a pound and believe it or not, that feels pretty heavy when it’s around your neck.  It will keep someone very warm.  I’m not sure that it will be me.

I like the pattern but knitting 880 yards of yarn, in order to get the most out of the yarn, got incredibly BORING.  It came down to the challenge of not giving up because it was boring and knitting like crazy to just. get. it. done.  It ended up being 64″ long and here is what was left:


A lot of that knitting-to-get-it-done was because of having it as a sample for a class.  However.  I think I’ve decided NOT to teach it as a class.  Here is why:  1) With the number of stitches the pattern says to cast on, one could not use a 16″ circular needle to knit it.  And I do not think many will want to knit a very long, heavy scarf using double pointed needles. I certainly wouldn’t.  (I had cast on many more stitches because I wanted the scarf wider, so it wasn’t a problem for me.)  2) Because of this, I would have to figure out the minimum number of stitches needed to cast on, and then try to estimate how much yarn would be needed, which is hard to do when I haven’t knitted that size. (and I am NOT knitting another…) 3) And if I did make those modifications, I don’t want to have someone purchase a pattern that they mostly won’t be following, except for a chart.  So, the plans for that class have mostly been scrapped.

So, now that the scarf class is scrapped, I’ve been knitting like crazy on the Vine Lace Vest for another class:


It is going very quickly.  That is the back and part of the left front.  I had a little snafoo trying to get the lace pattern correct after binding off for the neck, but now I’m flying along again.  Hoping to finish this very soon so I can get started knitting with this:


A new cotton/acrylic blend called Avalon that just came in to The Spinning Room.  Lots of beautiful colors and a great yarn for springy/summery things.   Unfortunately this yarn is for a stealth project that I can’t tell you about.

That’s it for today.  Next time, I’ll tell you about the yummy things I made in the kitchen recently….


Two Baked Things

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We celebrated my dad’s birthday last weekend and since he is not a big sweets eater, but will tolerate apple pie, I made him an apple pie.  After all, when you celebrate someone’s birthday who doesn’t like sweets, how can you NOT have sweets for all the people who do like sweets?

I actually do not really like pie because I do not like crust.  I think it is blah-tasting.  I do like the insides of most pies, though, so not all is lost when pie is the only sweets option.  But, because of this, I have not made many pies in my life (as of this moment, I have made two).  And somehow, I sort of always forget that Paul really, really likes pie and I always make something else when I’m baking.  To be fair, he really, really likes a lot of other sweets too.  But still.  I forget.

I made a pie one other time, a long time ago.  It was an epic fail.  A peach pie that ended up terribly soggy and not even the inside of the pie was tasty and I don’t know why.  Maybe it was the canned, mushy peaches that I didn’t slice up.  So, when making this pie for my dad, I was going completely on knowledge I have gleaned from the Food Network and reading cook books and cooking magazines.

And of course, there were some problems, specifically with the crust.  I put everything in the food processor as directed and then poured some water in to make it come together.  You are supposed to put only enough water to make the dough hold together when you squeeze a little bit in your fingers.  I did that.  Then I put it on the plastic wrap to put in the fridge for a while and had trouble wrapping it up because it was so crumbly.  I thought maybe the little nap in the fridge would make things absorb.  Nope.  I went to roll it out and it just fell apart.  So, I popped it into a mixing bowl, added some water, worked it in with my hands and then rolled it out.   I also had trouble making the top crust the right size and it was a little lopsided, with one crust edge being much thicker that the other parts. But you know what?


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Would you just look at that? Isn’t it the best looking piece of pie you have ever seen? No dome-ing crust with too-shrunk apples.  Not too much juice to make the crust soggy.  The crust was flakey – including the bottom.  My dad said how much he liked it and that the apples were a tiny bit crisp and not mushy.  And…. even I liked it.  I still didn’t love the edge crust because that’s just how it is. (But I can tell you I loved it a lot the next day when I poured caramel sauce all over it.)

I used Martha Stewart’s Basic Pie Dough recipe with one change:  I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup shortening (instead of one cup of butter) since I heard/read somewhere that it helps make the crust flakier.  Then I used the Good Housekeeping Cookbook (my trusty stand-by for a lot of recipes) for the pie filling.  Apples, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice.

Obviously, I’m quite proud of myself and the next time it will be even better.  If that’s possible.  Ha ha.

The second thing I baked was Kit Kat Cream Cheese Brownies from the Bakerella blog.  I don’t know what it was, but they intrigued me.  Probably because I love Kit Kats.

Brownie batter on the bottom:


(I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder instead of the regular.)

Kit Kats pushed into the brownie batter:


Cream Cheese/cheese-cakey filling on top:


Spread it out, then bake, then cool, then chill in the fridge, then cut into pieces and send them with Paul to the Buick club Spring Meeting since I couldn’t go because I caught a crappy cold:

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They were very rich and very sweet but quite tasty and I’m told they disappeared quickly!

Stay tuned for something else yummy that came out of my kitchen recently…


Blog Silence

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It’s been a week and a half since my last post.  I don’t like to go that long between posts because I know you are very likely checking every hour or so to see if there is a new post and I don’t like to do that to you.  But things got busy.  In that time:

There were several days of working at and filling in at the yarn shop.

There were two classes to teach. Finishing up the two socks on one circular needle class: IMG_2125

You may notice that there are only two sets here.  In the first class there were five!  I had three participants who didn’t make it to the second class – but hopefully they will finish their socks!

There was also the Bridgeport Cowl class: IMG_2157

Lots of fun was had with a very spirited group!

There was baking, which I’ll show you in another post.

There was cooking, which I’ll also show you in another post.

There was this fox in our yard:


Paul and I were both frantically racing for our phones to take pictures and then realized that we couldn’t get a good picture because of the screen on the door….

There was helping to bleed the brakes on Paul’s race car:


My job was to use that pole to push the pedal down and let it up when Paul said “Down” or “Up”.  A really taxing job, right?  It took some time so I brought my book.

Oh, and there was that book!  What a great book! Divergent by Veronica Roth (click there to get it on Amazon).  The first in a three book series, it is a fun, exciting, page-turning sci-fi book.  I’m not usually into sci-fi but I loved the Hunger Games series and this is somewhat similar.  There is a strong female lead character who has to deal with a huge coming-of-age life changing event.  The story just pulls you along and I couldn’t stop reading it.  From Amazon:

“In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.”

I HIGHLY recommend it and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series.

And then there was this:


Do you see it?  It’s screaming at me “YOU MADE THIS BLACK STRIPE TOO BIG!!!!”   And do you see how far back in the work it is? I’m not going back.  And I’m almost done.

More posts coming about the baking and the cooking and the finishing of the knitting….and hopefully sooner than a week and a half from now…

Another Knitting Black Hole

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I’m in another black hole of knitting.  Remember this picture of my Shadow Spiral Scarf I posted two days ago?


Well, I been knitting for WEEKS since that post 2 days ago, and my scarf hasn’t gotten any longer.  My yarn seems to be getting eaten up but every time I look at the scarf, it’s the same size.   Here is part of the problem:  The scarf is knit in the round, so it will be a double thick scarf.  I also cast on 32 more stitches than the pattern calls for because I wanted it wider.  Plus, the pattern calls for the scarf to be 49″ long, but I like it longer, so I can wrap it around my neck.  I have two skeins of each color, each skein being 220 yards (880 total yards).  I’m just about done with the first skeins and the scarf measures about 30″.  The pattern calls for 280 yards of each color (560 total yards).  So, if I had knit this according to the pattern, I’d be almost done.  Instead, I am halfway done.  But, I love how it is turning out and I love, Love, LOVE the yarn (Aslan Trends Royal Alpaca; 100% Alpaca).  Soon, I’m sure I will begin the “I think it’s probably long enough” chatter in my head, even though I won’t be done with the yarn and it won’t be as long as I originally planned.  I will try very hard to ignore that chatter, and knit until the yarn is gone.  Wish me luck.

And I want to finish, so I can move on to this Vine Lace Vest:


A cute spring/summer (although the pattern says “four season”) little number!

How about a book review?
I just finished reading Pack Up the Moon by Rachael Herron and I really enjoyed it.  Rachael, a knitter,  has written a knitting romance series which is fun and light, but this is her first stand alone fiction book.  Aside from a couple of knitting analogies, this book does not have a knitting theme.  It is wonderfully written, going back and forth from the present to the past and in the point of view of three main characters.  Rachael constructs this story in such a way that you can’t help but keep reading to find out what each character will decide to do next.  Here is a little snippet from Amazon (and the book jacket):

“A poignant novel about loss, lies, and the unbreakable bonds of family.
Three years after a horrible tragedy took her son and tore her family apart, artist Kate Monroe is beginning to pick up the pieces of her life and move on. At a gala showcasing her triumphant return to the art world, Kate’s world is rocked again when the daughter she gave up for adoption twenty-two years ago introduces herself.”

If you like these family drama books, I think you will really like this one.

Now, to start Divergent which I’m very excited about!

Forcing Spring

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We were so sick of being stuck inside by the cold that we decided to stick ourselves in the car for a ride to Lake George last weekend.  We had a great dinner:


Then went to look at the still-so-frozen-that-people-were-snow-mobiling-on-it lake:

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And then, because Martha’s Dandee Crème opened that day, and it IS supposed to be Spring and getting warm, we decided to try and force the issue by getting an ice cream cone.  It was 35 degrees.  And this is what we encountered:IMG_2097

LINES!  Long lines.  Tons of people wanting the same thing.  Not just ice cream.  SPRING.


It was yummy.

How about some knitting?

Remember that cool Pieces of Eight mitts pattern I showed you in the last post?  It was definitely challenging, needing double pointed needles and a circular needle at the same time.

Here is my first mitt:

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Sorry – the pictures could be better.  But this was so fun, because it was so challenging.   This is one of those patterns where you wonder how in the world the designer figured out how to make this.  This will be an upcoming class at The Spinning Room!  Speaking of The Spinning Room, did I tell you that I’ve got another part-time gig?  I’m working there as a shop girl now!  Just a few hours a week.  Yay!

I also started the Shadow Spiral Scarf and am about halfway done.  This is the coolest thing.  It’s a striped scarf:


But…. when you look at it another way, it’s got a spiral in it:


Another upcoming class.

And I’ve got another project in the wings for a summer, short sleeve cardi-with-no-buttons thing…. stay tuned for that.

But first, I’m off to work on my other part-time gig:  Mending a scarf and an afghan and finishing (seaming) a sweater.  I will be ignoring the large amount of snow still outside my window, hopefully until tomorrow when it is supposed to be 50 degrees and maybe half of it will go away.


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Ok, this is just the cutest thing I have knit in a long time:

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Snug cardigan, made with Cascade Ecological Wool.  Love it. Perfectly named since it is snuggly.  So cute and cozy.  Comes in a worsted weight version too!

And here is a blurry picture of the progress from my two socks on one circular needle class (the magic loop method) this weekend (with stress-reducing peanut butter cookies contributed by Vicki):


The knitting looks like a big mess, as it is supposed to at this stage, but everyone was well on their way to “getting it”!

And just in case my last post was just terribly negative about the weather, here is what’s good after an ice storm: Pretty, shiny things….