Cooking and knitting and the cat

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Wow, fall is in full swing around here.  Colder weather, leaves are gone from the trees, leaf raking has happened, and lots of cooking going on.  And a little knitting.

I told you a couple of posts ago, that I received the Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites cookbook for my birthday.  I love this book!!

I made the Sausage, Kale and Crouton Saute:

So delicious!

And then I did a holiday test run of the Bakery-Style Butter Cookies:

Boy, did they pass the test!  I will definitely be making these again and again and again.  Butter cookies with jam in between, dipped in chocolate and sprinkles. So YUMMY!

And tonight I am trying the Chicken Marsala Meatballs with Egg Noodles.   Stay tuned…

In knitting news, I taught two oldies but goodies recently…

The two socks on one circular needle class:

And the Noro Striped Scarf:

I love my Noro striped scarf – it is my go-to scarf for those really cold days because I can wrap it around my neck a few times.

I got a few rows done on my 21 Color Slouch hat and started my second commissioned Amy shawl.  Not much progress on those so I didn’t take a picture.  Hopefully I’ll have a finished hat to show you next time….

In kitten news…

I realized I didn’t tell you how old Smudge was in my last post.  The picture of him makes him look grown up.  But he’s just a baby! 12 weeks or so.  He has come out from under the bed and hasn’t stayed still too often for pictures…

And we made the big splurge:

HOWEVER, he now has a virus/cold that he apparently obtained from the shelter where we adopted him.  Poor guy has the sneezes and the sniffles and the runny eyes.  An early trip to the vet this fine Monday morning resulted in eye ointment and medicinal treats and the vet saying he will be ok in several days!

So I definitely needed my tea and cookie treat and knitting and subtle daily reminders today…

 

 

 

 

Smudge

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Just a quick post today to introduce you to this little guy:

This is Smudge.  [All of his markings are symmetrical except for that little smudge on his nose.]

He came to live with us this weekend and he is very cute.  We were pretty sure of this anyway for the past two days… he has spent most of his time under the bed so far.  He did come out to see us finally for a few minutes today to confirm that he is, in fact, cute.  Then he went back under the bed. [The bed that, shortly after he came home, we had to upend because the fabric underneath the boxspring, covering the wood and springs, had come loose on one side and he had climbed up inside of it….]

We have not had pets in our home for several years, and no baby pets since I adopted Phoebe the cat back in 1997 (waaaaaaay before I met Paul), so this is kind of new to us.  Stay tuned for stories on how he is ruling the household…..

[I will not confirm or deny that we may or may not be making another trip back to the store for a super-duper cat condo thingy.]

 

Portuguese Knitting and Rhinebeck

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In my quest to find knitting techniques that are easier on my arms/elbows, I decided to try a method recommended by a couple of women at my local yarn shop.  Portuguese knitting has now become my go-to knitting technique, and I even prefer it over the continental knitting method.  I was having a really hard time with my tension when doing the continental method and I’m not having that issue with the Portuguese method.  Once I heard that this method was also good for those with some hand/arm issues, I was all over that.  After borrowing and studying some books and videos, I was really hooked.

The Portuguese knitting technique involves using a knitting pin, attached near your left shoulder, which the yarn is looped over and helps to tension the yarn.

Then, the main movement for knitting or purling is flicking the yarn with your left thumb to wrap it around the needle.  It’s really very easy and, unlike English or continental knitting, purling is EASIER that knitting.  No joke.  I utilized the Portuguese knitting technique to finish my Dreaming of Spring hat:

Dreaming of Spring

I’ll be teaching this hat as a class November 18 at The Spinning Room if you are interested!  At any rate, it turned out great and I love it.

I also used the Portuguese knitting method to make my Big Herringbone Cowl:

I modified this pattern to use a size 15 needle and cast on 250 stitches (as opposed to a size 17 needle and 220 stitches cast on).  I used Malabrigo Rios which I love, Love, LOVE knitting with. And it will be another class I’m teaching in December at The Spinning Room!

And I am currently using the Portuguese knitting method to make my 21 Color Slouch hat:

(that’s the pattern picture)

Yes, it looks inside out becuase I am knitting it that way so I can purl the body of the hat, instead of knit it.  (See aforementioned purling is EASIER than knitting.)  There will be a gazillion ends to weave in because of all the color changes but I love this hat so much, I will put up with it.  Or wear it with the ends not woven in.  Who would know?  Besides you.

I will be teaching basic Portuguese knitting techniques in the next couple of months at The Spinning Room if you are interested!

By the way, I was working on that 21 Color Slouch hat on our way to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck!

It was the most beautiful fall day and we had a great time as usual….

Here is my haul by about 9:45 (gate opens at 9:00)….

(That is a fried artichoke/artichoke French combo in case you were wondering.)

And here is the end-of-day haul:

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Wonderful stuff I can’t wait to work with.

In cooking news, I finally made an apple crisp with apples from our local orchard Indian Ladder Farms:

It is so yummy – Paul and I can’t get enough of it.  Recipe is from my trusty Good Housekeeping Cookbook that my mom gave me when I moved into my first apartment in 1992.

Also, on the suggestion of my friend Sue, I’m testing out making my own vanilla extract!

(Great book, also given to me by my mom: Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch–Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods)

It needs to sit in the jar for a couple/three months but I’m hoping to try and use some of it for holiday baking.  It is definitely MUCH cheaper to make your own than buy at the store.  And so, So, SO easy!

And finally, I got the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites, from my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and niece for my birthday:

I love Smitten Kitchen and can’t wait to try some of these recipes!

So, as you can see, fall is in full swing here, including starting up the furnace and the wood stove! Bring on the cozy knitting!

 

 

 

 

Shawl Design at Harrisville

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I had the BEST time taking a two-day shawl design class with Bristol Ivy at Harrisville Designs in Harrisville, New Hampshire.  It was EXHAUSTING, but fun!

But the fun started way before arriving at Harrisville.  Sue picked me up and after a stop to pick up cider donuts (freshly made, still a little warm….) at The Gade Farm we made our way to WEBS in Northampton, where we met Lisa, Christine and Robin.  Needless to say, we bought some yarn.  Just a little.  Here is my haul selections:

And this, which is my favorite purchase from there:

I already started it:

(Did you see the project bag?  Knit More, Work Less!!)

Then we had lunch at Paul and Elizabeth’s (yes, that is the name of the restaurant!!!!) and then made our way to meet Lynn at Harrisville.  The six of us stayed in their boarding house which was on the third floor of one of the old buildings in town.  Several rooms, bathrooms to share, a full kitchen and a great, comfy living room to knit in.

What a beautiful, picturesque New England town!…

I made this really yummy (if I do say so myself – but others did too!) tomato focaccia to share at our appetizer-y dinner that night.

It is a Martha recipe and she rarely disappoints me.  I will definitely make this again.

The next day was Shawl Design with Bristol Ivy at Harrisville Designs, just across the road from the boarding house.

That first day we made 8 tiny shawls, to demonstrate the various shawl shapes that you can make:

Yes there is only 7 there.  Somehow I didn’t get the pi shawl in there.

Homework was to choose the shawl shape we wanted to design the next day.  It is a hard decision!

The second day we spent starting the design of our shawls.  We spent the whole day on it and here is how much I got done:

It’s a lot of work!!

Others got a little further but most only had a little bit.

We had lunches at the Harrisville General Store,,,,

….where I had a cheddar sandwich with maple caramelized onions and apples. OMG.  I had it both days because it was so good.  I also had their famous kale salad which was so delicious.  Here is a link to their recipe:  Harrisville Kale Salad.  So good for you too! I’m making it this weekend.

At the end of the second day, Paul picked me up and we went on to spend the night in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  We stopped at the Portsmouth Brewery and I had my most favorite ever in the world sandwich, their fried eggplant sandwich. So. Good.

Then we had breakfast at our most favorite (aside from Jordan’s Pond House in Acadia) popover place, Popovers on the Square.

Before breakfast, as we were waking up in the hotel, Paul and I had this conversation…

Me: Did you lock the car last night? [good time to think of it, in the morning]

Paul: No, did you?

Me: I don’t think so.

Paul: What’s in there to steal?

Me: All my yarn.

Paul: Oh.

Me (after thinking for a minute): Actually, no one would steal it.  Non-knitters would look right past it to find something “more valuable” (as if).  Knitters are so great that they would see it and lock the car for us to make sure no one else would steal it. But really, no one else would  steal it. [see non-knitters comment]

We made our way back home via Vermont and saw some beautiful colors on the trees…

We made a stop at our former favorite ice cream place from when we lived in Vermont, Ice Cream Fore You (at a driving range)….

They had my favorite flavor:  Campfire S’mores!

And had to make a stop at King Arthur Flour (man, I love that place)…..

Then, on the way home I regretted not buying the Nordic Ware Harvest Bounty Loaf pan when we were there so I ordered one from Amazon in the car!

And made a pumpkin cream cheese swirl bread from the recipe on the pan label….

It was YUMMY!

And then I saw they have a mini version…. Nordic Ware Harvest Mini Loaf Pan, Bronze and I’m a little bit trying not to order that one too.

WHEW!  A great few days.

 

 

 

 

Kindness of Knitters

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Knitters are a special breed.  The community that knitters have created is amazing.  Enthusiastic, encouraging, helpful to each other and supportive (see my last post) because we all share this common obsession. But it is the kindness of knitters that, while never surprising to me, never ceases to amaze me.  Kind to other knitters and also the non-knitters. You see knitter’s knitting things for others or to donate to charity but it’s not just that they are kind with the things they knit. They are kind in so many other ways.  Want an example?

The other day, I went to Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru for a frozen coffee.  After being slightly disappointed that they were out of the pumpkin flavor (again), I arrived at the window and the woman handed me my drink but would not take my money.  She said, “This has been paid for by someone who loves to knit!”

WHAT?????  HOW????? HUH?????

Then I remembered:

My license plate says, “KNIT.” It must have been the woman behind me in the drive-thru line.  I looked in my rear view mirror and waved frantically but I’m not sure she saw me.

How great is that? Seriously. It made me smile all day and even two days later.  I’m proud to call myself a knitter because I know that I, too, try to be kind, supportive, and helpful in my everyday life and now I’ll find a way to pay that free frozen not-pumpkin coffee forward to make someone else smile for a few days!

 

 

 

Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!(again)

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I’ve got so much to tell you, I have to split it up into at least three posts!

This past weekend we made our yearly trip to Maryland and the Cecil County Dragway for a drag racing event.  We always have fun at this one and get to see some friends we only see a couple of times a year.  On the way down I knit on my latest pattern/yarn obsession,  the Big Herringbone Cowl with the Malabrigo Rios:

 

250 stitches in worsted weight yarn on a size 15 needle.  I’m still not sure that I didn’t twist it when joining in the round, but I’m going with it for now.  I had to stop knitting very quickly because this herringbone stitch pattern was a little fiddly and it was making me car sick, having to look it at constantly!

Paul and I got to the hotel in Maryland a little early this year, so we made a trip to Vulcan’s Rest Fibers in Chesapeake City.

Where, as you can see, I didn’t find much…

(Ha!)

The wonderfully nice woman at the yarn shop recommended an excellent seafood restaurant for us to go to, Schaeffer’s,where we had a great view from our table:

And I had an awesome crab cake sandwich.

Just as we left the restaurant, we got THE CALL

Our friend Rob had almost made it to the hotel when he had a trailer tire seize-up issue.  One trip to Home Depot for an angle grinder later and we were on our way to help.  I’ll tell you, these guys know what they are doing and, despite being under an overpass on the side of the highway, were able to get things up and running fairly quickly.

Back at the hotel, we always have fun socializing with all the other racers and their significant others.  Denny and Renee are friends who live in Ohio (Hi guys!!).  Renee is a kindred yarn hoarder who crochets, and I spent quite a bit of time “having her back” when Denny asked why she needed to keep buying yarn (because it’s on sale; because we love, Love, LOVE yarn; because we can’t help it; because it’s just what we do — pick any one of those) and why she doesn’t “do anything” with the things she knits and they take up space on the recliner that he can’t sit in (because it’s nice to admire your own hard work, plus it’s good insulation for the house, plus there are other chairs for you to sit in).

Once at the track the next day I immediately abandoned my Herringbone Cowl for a little while to start the Coffeehouse Cowl with the Berroco Noble super bulky yarn I found.  Which is also super soft!….

That, too, did not last long because IT. WAS. SO. HOT.

Can you imagine this?…

Paul has to wear pants, a fire jacket and a helmet.  And the inside of his car is black.  So, he keeps the door open until the last minute.

…until the last minute of the last race where he was first place in the Quick 16 bracket!!!

Hooray!  I took the liberty of assuming that some of his prize money would go towards more yarn.  It seemed like the right thing to assume.

 

 

This Row

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“Let me just finish this row.”  Does that sound familiar to you knitters?  I’ve said this countless times to Paul.  When he has asked if I’m ready to go somewhere, it’s “Yes, let me just finish this row.”  When he has asked me to help him with something, “Sure, I’m just going to finish this.” Or I’ve said it to myself: “When I’m finished with this row I’m going to bed.”  When I say it to Paul, I get the eye roll or the sigh and the resigned “okay.”

Well, the other day I asked Paul if he was ready to eat dinner and he said:

“Yes, let me just finish this row.”  The minute it was out of his mouth we both laughed!

And after that one more row and eating dinner and a few more rows….

Hooray!  We have a deck!  Railings will come next year.  I texted this picture to my sister and she said, “I think you might need a bigger table.” Ha!  Better furniture coming next year too.  We do have a gazebo-y thing to put up but that will go up sometime this week.

I immediately put the deck to good use…

In other news, I happened to be at Starbucks on THE FIRST DAY OF PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES!!!

Those are my jam!!  I love them. [The experience was only very slightly marred by the cashier at the drive-thru window telling me how much he also looked forward to the pumpkin spice lattes coming out but that inevitably a week before that happens, his lactose intolerance acts up. I kid you not.  He really said that.]

And speaking of fall when the PSL’s come out, so does the potential for frost:

We were prepared (actually, Paul was prepared) with this humongous tarp that happens to fit over the whole garden. My tomatoes are finally starting to turn color and my one, lone butternut squash is hanging in there and ripening.

Raise your hand if you took advantage of Craftsy’s free viewing day yesterday.  I did!  I watched a class on how to make bread.  I’m hoping to make sandwich bread and English muffins sometime soon.  For some reason I can’t find the exact class to share with but you can click here for a link to Craftsy Food and Cooking Classes. It was fun and very interesting!  I’m hoping to take the Handmade Sourdough: From Starter to Baked Loaf  class next.  Sourdough is one of my favorite breads – especially when it is toasted and spread with butter and jam.  Let me know if you viewed any classes and what you liked!

And now I’m off to finish several rows on my commissioned knitting project so I can show it to you in the next post!

 

 

Nearly There and FREE Craftsy Classes

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I’ve got two quick things to tell you about today:  A nearly finished knitting project and an opportunity to try Craftsy with some FREE Craftsy classes!

The Nearly There Knitting Project:

I am so excited to report that I am nearly done with my first (of four) commissioned knitting projects!  I haven’t finished a knitting project in more than three months so this feels like quite an accomplishment (she says optimistically, even though she is not completely done but nearly done).  I have been very slowly, a little each day, working on this one and I just had to show you how “nearly there” it is:

Amy Shawl by Romi Hill

Amy Shawl by Romi Hill

This has been a fun project and the edging was a great way of pacing myself.  I would do one 24-row repeat of 30 stitches each day.  Nice and manageable.  Stay tuned for the finished and blocked project pictures.  And it better be fun because my second commissioned project is to make another one exactly like it!

The FREE Craftsy Classes:

On Labor Day, Monday, September 4, Craftsy is offering FREE one-day access to ALL of their online classes. All you have to do is sign up with your email address and you can watch all day long!  They have all kinds of online video classes: cooking, baking, sewing, quilting, photography, home decor, knitting, crochet.  This is the perfect opportunity to see if you would like Craftsy and did I mention it is FREE???

I recently purchased the Knit Faster With Continental Knitting class and I loved it! I’ve heard that using the continental method (holding the yarn in your left hand and “picking”) can be more gentle on your hands/arms.  I have also heard you can knit faster with this method — who wouldn’t want to knit faster so you can knit more so you can buy more yarn to knit faster with?  My local yarn shop will be so appreciative!

The class was great video instruction with a great teacher.  You can pause and rewind and rewatch any or all of the class as many times as you want.  I am now practicing this method while working on my Dreaming of Spring hat:

Dreaming of Spring

By the way I also took the class Design Your Own Cowl with Laura Nelkin and as a result of that designed and published my Easy Cozy Cowl!

So, sign up here with your email address and they will email you on September 4 with a link to your free access!

One More Thing….

We’ve got one decking board in place…

Hoping to be done by the end of the year weekend!

 

(I am a Craftsy affiliate, which means if you sign up for something with links from this blog, I get a little kickback.  Please know that I only participate in affiliate programs and recommend products that I truly like.) 

 

 

 

5 Things to Look Forward to in Pumpkin Spice Season

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All things pumpkin spice are coming!  Raise your hand if you love it too.

It is August 28, which means in four days it will be September 1, which means it is practically fall and that means….well, pumpkin spice. I know that many people are aggravated by all the pumpkin spice things because it really is everywhere, but I have to say that I love (almost) all of them! I love the taste but mostly I love what they signify:  Fall is here and that is my favorite time of year. Other things I love about fall…. the changing leaves, the crisp air, cozy wool sweaters, fiber festivals, apples, apple crisp.

But as far as pumpkin spice goes, I’m a huge fan and I’m dying to get this mug.  And here are my 5 favorite pumpkin spice things:

First and foremost, Pumpkin Spice Muffins from Dunkin’ Donuts.  My absolute favorite.  I will take a pumpkin donut in a pinch, but they are definitely not the same.  And I’m always so disappointed when they are gone for the season.

Then there is my favorite homemade Pumpkin Spice Bread from my handy dandy, always trusty Good Housekeeping Cookbook. It has maple syrup in it and I love adding raisins or fresh cranberries.  And eating it toasted with butter.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks.  Can’t get enough of those at the drive-through, so I usually buy the instant ones to have at home.

These Via Instant packets are sooooo good.

Pumpkin Spice Candles make the house smell so fall-ish and homey….

(Click on the pictures to get them on Amazon)

Then there are knitted Spice Pumpkins!

Knitted Spice Pumpkin

I made seven of these last year and then gave them all away.  Hopefully I’ll be back to knitting soon so I can make more.  I will also be teaching a class at The Spinning Room this October.  They are a cute and quick little project.

Here is what I do not like:  Pumpkin Spice m&m’s.  They are terrible.

Here’s looking forward to a crisp-aired, cozy-sweatered, yummy pumpkin-spiced fall!

(And stay tuned because it will also be slow-cookering-all-the-things season….)

 

 

While the Cat’s Away…

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Paul and his friend Rob went to a drag racing event in Ohio this week. So, while the cat’s away, the mouse…..

1) Watches him live streamed on the internet while planning a new knitting project and having an iced coffee!

(That’s him in the wagon on the screen!)

2) Works on the re-finishing of the 1950’s-ish desk found at the Habitat Re-Store:

….while still watching the live streamed drag racing event. (pay no attention to the recycling or the questionable electrical outlet…)

3) Does a little yarn shopping:

(… while still watching. I brought my iPad to the shop with me!)

You’d think I wasn’t limiting my knitting at the rate I’m buying new yarn.  But The Spinning Room put out their weekly newsletter saying they got in a big box of Malabrigo and I had to go browse. I just couldn’t resist this Malabrigo Rios.  I love, Love, LOVE knitting with this yarn.  And I have no idea what I’ll knit with it yet, so I bought four skeins to hopefully leave my options open.  It just won’t be a sweater or a blanket.

4) Gets takeout Japanese food including gyoza and shrimp tempura rolls with lots of pickled ginger. YUM.

5) Goes to some tag sales and finds this:

And some books:

LOVE Harlan Coben.  Like Joanne Fluke. (click down there to get on Amazon)

And sees this beautiful scene in Berne, NY:

5) Cleans the house and goes to the transfer station.  Booooooooo.  Who voted to do that????

Speaking of the new knitting project, I found this Dreaming of Spring hat pattern that I thought would make a great fall class.

It is knit with bulky yarn (mine is Azteca) and big (square) needles and is a small project, all of which should be easy on the elbows.  I am also attempting to knit it in the continental knitting style to see if that helps. But what is cool about this hat pattern is that it is knit flat, on the bias and then seamed.

Not your everyday hat pattern that’s for sure.  I like that about it and I think it will make a great class.

And speaking of iced coffee, if you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit obsessed with good beverage containers.  In case you are interested (like you need another recommendation for a beverage container)  I love my Lilly Pulitzer Insulated Tumbler.

It’s not quite like that one (click on that to see on Amazon) but similar.  Keeps things cold and doesn’t sweat on the outside.  And it’s pretty!

As promised in my last post, here are our eclipse photos:

My pinhole thing-a-ma-jig….

We also had Paul’s welding helmet…..

That’s not really what we saw.  We were actually able to see the moon in front of the sun.  It was cool.

I’ve got another 24 hours or so until Paul gets home.  That’s plenty of time to get into some more trouble!  I think I’ll  do something really crazy like make zucchini, carrot, apple bread.