Yarn basket and pin cushion

Yarn basket and pin cushion

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Friday, September 30, 2011

On becoming one's mother

 Over the last several years the gifts that I have asked for at gift-receiving occasions have become progressively more and more lame. I never understood why mom would ask for boring things such as, say, a new toaster for her anniversary. Well, now I get it. This coconut bundt cake is proof. As I mentioned before, I had a birthday not too long ago. Well, I asked for a bundt pan and some new house shoes. (Can you say mom?) Henry felt guilty giving me such a stereotypical housewife thing for my birthday, but I told him I really wanted it. He also got me some nice soft slippers that go with my plush bathrobe I got for Mother's Day to "soften the blow." I know it's lame, but I already made 2 cakes in it. The other one was a kosher honey cake. I was afraid the combination of flavors would be weird, but it was pretty tasty. But that's beside the point. Sure, I would love a trip to a day spa, or gorgeous new clothes, or something else that is luxurious and extravagant, but I'm a practical person with a limited budget, so I ask for the practical things I want, but wouldn't normally just go out and buy, and I love them. Even my electric toothbrush I got for Christmas. (I know!)
P.S. I just found out about the New York Sheep and Wool Festival and it's official: I need to move to a colder climate where such epic things take place. Where knitters abound! Or I just need to make a road trip to Rhinebeck, NY. (Even the Yarn Harlot is going!)

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


i love to bake, but i don't enjoy fussy, time consuming recipes that focus too much on aesthetics. of course, i don't want the food i spend time and money on to look unappealing, but really, in the scheme of things, it gets eaten whether it's pretty or not.

---- which brings me to today's (actually, yesterdays) recipe. i was laying about the house, feeling lazy and hungry and picked up this months Martha Stewart Living. i won't deny: i LOVE that magazine. it makes me wish i was far richer and could afford all the beautiful linens and table settings--- but even in my current financially challenged state, i always find the recipes to be affordable and delicious. (well, mostly affordable. i make substitutions on the spendy things, as you'll see . . . )

these cookies were delicious. just slightly sweet, with a nice crunchiness perfect for dipping in coffee or tea (or cider!). i'm going to make them again with different flavorings and see what combinations i can come up with. this is the recipe, directly from the Martha Stewart Website (with my substitutions in parentheses). this recipe came together in about 15 minutes and i couldn't be more pleased with it.

side note: use a good cornmeal here, as the flavor does come through quite strongly. also, i recommend sifting your cornmeal to avoid finding a weevil and having the toss the whole batch, buy new cornmeal, and start over. that MIGHT have happened.

happy baking!

ps- this time i did take pictures.... but they turned out terribly sepia colored. i'll get this food photography down eventually. . . . .

Lemon Cornmeal Sheet Cookie
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup fine ground yellow cornmeal

  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds (i omitted this and added 1 tsp vanilla for flavor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • Coarse salt (i used regular table salt and it was fine)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white, lightly beaten for egg wash

  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds

  • Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, anise seeds, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
    2. Beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in whole egg and zest. Reduce speed to low, and beat in flour mixture.
    3. Press dough into an even 1/4-inch thickness on a parchmentlined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash; sprinkle with almonds and remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until golden, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Break into pieces.

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Plaid Is My Favorite Color

    today, in an effort to assuage my terrible hangover i ended up at Jimmy John's for a sandwich. the thought of preparing my own lunch was just too much to handle in my compromised state. pitiful, i know. the sweet boy taking my order was so friendly and nice, and compliment me (even though i looked like death) and kept saying how much he liked my shirt. it's one of my favorites and it's probably seven or eight years old. i wanted to tell him that i was wearing plaid before the hipsters took over, but my pounding headache kept me fairly quiet.

    the moral of this story? sometimes Ethel is irresponsible, and pays for it. just remember to drink water, don't take drugs, and TRUST in the healing properties of a Jimmy John's sub with jalepeno chips and a giant Coca-Cola. it works EVERY TIME.


    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    Finished object!

     Well, I finished that bunny I mentioned. I'm pretty pleased, and this time I remembered to take pictures of the work in progress for once! Here are all the pieces before I stuffed them and sewed them together. I tend to get stuck here for a while, because stuffing and seaming and sewing together is not my favorite part. Knitting them is.
     But I did not get stuck this time! One of the ears is still not sewn together in the pic, because I was leaving for a knitting group (hooray!) and knew I would finish it there, and I feel like a dork taking pictures of my projects in settings like that.

     Then I made a little pom pom tail. I usually hate making pom poms and have to make a few before I get a good one, but this time I tried a new technique that I saw on Pinterest where you use a fork to wrap the yarn around. I didn't save that particular pin except for in my head, so luckily it worked. I'll post a little tutorial later.

    He will be given away at a baby shower soon, and hopefully go on to be a very loved and slobbered upon little bunny.
    Oh, and this is not of my own design, but I based it on Fuzzy Mitten's mama bunny. She's one of my favorite toy designers, so you'll see a lot of projects designed by her.

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Breakfast in bed

    This week is my birthday week. Not that I celebrate all week, but I'm embarrassed to say how long I've put off blogging about it. I worked on my actual birthday. Not sure why, since I'm self-employed and make my own schedule, but at least I like the clients that I saw that day. That always helps. That night while Henry was in class, Gertrude and Ethel came over to celebrate with me. Ethel made a "rich apple cake" with a caramel sauce that was to die for. In fact, I still have some in the fridge and it's all I can do to keep from eating a spoonful every time I see it. (But sometimes I do anyway. Shhh!)
     The next day was the day Henry and I planned to celebrate (milk it as long as you can, I say!) He surprised me with breakfast in bed! What a guy! He made an omelet and this amazing strawberry banana stuffed french toast. I just had to take a picture. See how beautiful. He really did do it all by himself. I was impressed. I told him so and he just said, "You don't want to see the kitchen." Apparently there was a blender mishap (classic) and now we need a new gasket, but he cleaned everything up and then we had a nice relaxing day before taking Daisy to a sitter and going out for dinner and a movie. It was a good birthday.

    And did I mention what a great husband I have?

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    fall food

    every summer, it seems our entire city gets wrapped up in and unreasonably excited about The Ozark Empire Fair. (neither Agnes nor i tend towards that mindset, don't worry) (though i do recall in years past that Agnes competed in some type of sewing competition- you should ask her) ------------
    anyway, i think the real reason people get so worked up about the fair is for the food. certainly it isn't for the frightening, rickety rides, oversized people in wife beaters with chewing tobacco, and general waves of sickening heat rolling over the pavement. no, surely not for that. i can only be enticed to enter the fairgrounds if i KNOW i'll be getting a corndog, and or a funnel cake. it's disgusting, and it's food i will not eat under any other circumstance - but it DOES scream summer, or more honestly, "CHOLESTEROL! STOP EATING ME NOW!"

    but i digress.

    today, as i sit sipping my morning coffee, i'm thrilled to report it's a nippy 52 degrees outside, and i'm LOVING it. fall is my favorite, due in part to the beautiful weather, and mostly to the fact that i can TURN ON THE STOVE again and COOK without feeling like i'm suffocating. we had one of the hottest summers on record in this part of the country, and i spent the majority of that time with my head in the freezer, trying to find cold things to eat (which if you know me at all is way out of character. i DON'T. LIKE. COLD. FOOD)
    fall food for me means soups, and chili, and hearty, warming things that fill up the body and heart equally. i have so many memories tied into food, and most of them are of cooking with my mama, and fall just brings those sweet thoughts flooding back.

    so tonight i'll be making a new lentil soup recipe - and if it's delicious, i'll share, PROMISE. i'm getting better about WRITING down the ingredients i use and i'm actually working on a little cookbook. nothing fancy, and in the end it will probably have five recipes in it, but i don't care.

    be back soon with soup reports and PICTURES ---- (of the soup, of course. i don't have an adorable asian baby with chubby cheeks, or i'd be posting HUNDREDS of those ......)

    love and lentils,

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011


    The weather here is perfect right now. Sunny, highs in the 70's, lows in the 50's, and the air has that delicious crispness that says fall is coming soon. It seemed like a good day too listen to some folk music (is it ever not a good day for folk music?) so I put some Peter Paul and Mary and John Denver records on. The combination of the fresh air and John Denver always takes me back to the days when Ethel and I (before we were Agnes and Ethel) would ride her horses through Amish neighborhoods and sing aforementioned songs at the top of our lungs. I believe Annie's Song, Thank God I'm a Country Boy, and Blowin in the Wind were favorites. Man, oh man, I miss those days. Not that I would trade the life I have now, of course.

    On a side note, I finally cast on a new project last night. It felt so good to knit again! So far all I have done is one leg; it's going to be a bunny; I'll post pics when it's done.


    Thursday, September 1, 2011


    Yes, it's true. It turns out that when I last blogged I was "with child." I had actually sort of found out that morning! Henry and I were very excited. Now she's 2 1/2 months old and I plan to finally make good on my New Year's resolution: blog more. (Hey, better late than never!) I have not had near enough time to knit or cook lately, but Daisy and I are slowly getting into a better routine and soon I will finish her crib mobile and make her some new animal friends. Here she is with a few:

    I know she looks unimpressed, but trust me; she loves them. ;) And with that, I will leave you with a valuable resource: international knitting terms.

    Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite!