Monday, January 31, 2011

Knitting Flat-ness

At this stage in my life, everything I knit is flat. 

Flat, flat, flat.  No shaping.  No sewing seams together.  No knitting on 4 needles.  Nope.  Flat. 

Flat can be taken in the car.

Flat can be worked on next to the computer as Youngest Son slogs through his composition.

Flat can be knitted on while finding out who is going to be "The Next Great Baker" with my kids.

I'm sure a 3-D project could also be taken any of these places.  But it scares me.

I did crochet a 3-D project once.  I am still recovering.

2-D seems considerably more safe at this stage of life.  And right now, when it comes to knitting, safe is good.

Here is my latest flat project:

I did roll it up so I would feel a little less self-conscious about my knitting's flat-ness.

I got the pattern for this sweet little dish cloth here.

Love the way that the stitching gives a little basketweave look.  Easy peasy.  Just garter and stockinette stitch.  Very, very safe.

To up the cute-ness factor, Deb adds a little sweet single crocheted edge.  Love the extra special touch it gives.

I must say, now that it's done, I think I could have done a little better on my color choices.  Red is always a favorite, but when I added that creamy white edge, I did get a little of the feeling I had knitted a dish cloth for Mrs. Claus.  I guess I could put it out with the cookies and milk next Christmas Eve.  Don't suppose Mrs. C. gets much brought back to her for all she loans her husband out to the entire world for a complete 24-hour period.

Oh, well, it's useful, it's pretty, it's satisfyingly made with my own hands.  All in all, a very satisfactory dish cloth, indeed.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winter's Beauty Is . . .


She sends you on a search.

You have to seek to find her hidden beauty.

(firepower Nandina)


She doesn't offer the idyllic loveliness that nature brings in spring . . . 

full colorful flowers

trees bursting forth with little knots of new green leaves

lush meadows.  

Instead, she's . . .

(snow laying in graceful curves in the branches)

A little quirky.


A beauty of a different kind.

(Heavenly bamboo)


 Don't expect her beauty to knock you over

like a dramatic sunset.

Her beauty whispers.


Almost reclusive.

(tattered pussywillows)

These qualities draw me to winter.

To make the effort

to find and appreciate her uncommon beauty.

(dramatic white berries of unknown origin!)

And to be richly rewarded

when I do.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Cookie to Feel Good About

I feel good about this cookie!

I'm probably deluding myself, but it seems to me a little more healthy and acceptable than some I might bake up and serve to my trusting children.

In fact, I felt so good about this cookie that I actually served it right . . . on . . . the . . . dinner . . . table last week, along with a beautiful Chicken Caesar Salad.

The family was aghast.  Cookies for dinner?  Had mom lost her mind?  Was company coming?  Was this a test?

The things I love about this cookie are:  **not a grain of flour**lots of oats**lots of peanut butter**chewy and delicious.  I could do worse!!

To ease my mind even more, I used natural peanut butter and organic cane sugar.   (Always makes me feel like such an attentive and nurturing mom when using organic cane.  The feeling lasts at least several days, making the cost completely worthwhile.)

Haven't yet figured out how I can convince my tender conscience that the M&M's are somehow good for us too!!

Enjoy!  These are soooooo yummy!

Feel Good Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (packed)
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 1/2 cups rolled oats (uncooked!!)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain M&M's
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate!!  mmmmm!!)

Cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs, peanut butter, vanilla and corn syrup.  Beat well.  Add oats, soda, and salt.  Stir well.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Drop dough by 1/4 cup measures at on lightly greased cookie sheet.  350 degrees for 12/15 minutes.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Just This Once!

Let me admit to something right up front.

I am a pushover mom.

No, no, no,  not a pushover for anything immoral or illegal . . . but I am a pushover for:

a) Anything that sounds adventurous.

b) Anything I wish I could do but would be too scared to do.

c) Anything I wish I could do but would look ridiculous doing.

d) Anything that slightly breaks the rules of perfectly perfect decorum.

e) Anything I can say, "Okay, just this once" to and then hope no one finds out about.

So, this is why when Middle son got his new BMX bike . . .

. . . I allowed him to ride through the house . . .

. . . out the front door . . .

and down the front steps . . .

 . . . just this once!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Crisis of Warmth

Here in the South, where winter usually drops in casually for a short few months, we have found her visit this year to be cold, C.O.L.D., cold.

This has affected the attitudes of all the children of the household most severely. They scamper down the stairs in the morning, bent double, arms tightly wrapped around themselves, shivering.

Never mind that they are in shorts, short-sleeved shirts and bare feet. Repeated admonishments of, "Put on something warm," "Get something on your feet," "Didn't I buy you a bathrobe last winter?" do not seem to be connecting with them.

And so, they shiver, and shake, and curl themselves into little balls on the couch and bewail the arrival of winter and all its trappings.

And what is a mother to do, but try and get them warm in some way.

It is, in fact, time to knit up a throw.

Timed perfectly is this throw from Purl Soho.

Knit up with huge yarn on huge needles, in simple moss stitch, it should fly together.

Oh, how I wanted to knit it of this beautiful "Pixie Dust."

It is made of wool, mohair and "pixie sparkles."  Pixie sparkles!!  Perfect for covering all the chilly toes and hugging all the shivering shoulders.  This color is called "Lemon Meringue."  Almost magical!  Some of the colors also contain silk, camel, and yak.  Oh, my . . . exotic.

"Pixie Dust" also costs $35 for a scant 35 yards.  ::ahem::  

Because I want to make this a nice and generous throw, I would need to decide between "Pixie Dust" and groceries for 2 weeks for our family of 7.

I will not be knitting with "Pixie Dust."  ::sniff::

Instead, I will be knitting with the much more prosaic but hopefully just as soft and warm "Burly Spun" by Brown Sheep in . . . red.

It's looking like the crisis may soon be averted.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Once Upon A Time . . .

. . . there was a slightly uncoordinated young girl who was always picked last for the P.E. teams at school.  She couldn't quite get the bat to hit the ball in softball, her tennis racket made a lovely swoosh through the air full seconds before the ball actually got there, and she continually lost her sense of direction when her head was down in field hockey.

Over the years she became a cheerleader, which gave the fuzzy impression that she was really interested in athletics, although she had trouble remembering if the basketball team was seeking goals or baskets.

And, of course, after middle school, high school, and college physical education classes had mercifully passed out of her life, there really wasn't much reason to worry about hand/eye/ball coordination or how to hold a racket.

And then, as life would have it, a small miracle occurred.

To this athletically-challenged young woman were born two children who grew to be tall, who lived and breathed the intoxicating competition of sports, and who could coordinate not only hand, eye, and ball, but knees, ankles, spines, baskets, heads, nets, and feet.

Indeed, this woman would honestly believe these children could not possibly be her own, except for the female's propensity to sharp, sarcastic answers and the male's desire to stay up until 3:00 a.m. and sleep until noon. Genetics have, therefore, been confirmed.

So, without further ado I will show you visual proof that all things are possible, that genetics do not necessarily determine abilities, and that if you are eight years old and nervously digging your toe into the mud while teams are being chosen on the playground, life has not already passed you by.

Your athletic pride may just be salvaged by your children.

I do remain dumbfounded!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Means . . .

In our little corner of the sunny south . . .

where snow does not very often occur . . .

it changes our world . . .

it makes magical things happen that don't always happen.

Today, snow means:

An indulgent breakfast for me in a quiet house, since everyone is outside playing in the snow.  
(Brie cheese omelet with avocado slices and salsa . . . mmmmmmmmm!)

 Fire in the fireplace.

Cold little girl cuddled up by fire in the fireplace.

Chunks of snow all over the wood floors.

Teenage boys in the kitchen, making lunch "creations."

Lunch "Creations":  Beef hot dogs with melted mozzarella and baja chipotle sauce,
with a side of mandarin oranges.

Sister time together on the trampoline.

 Unique snow "shoes" crafted out of purple duct tape . . .

and happily modeled in the snow.  
(Yes, I know they're missing coats and pants.  I really do!)

A trudge through the snow with Youngest Daughter.

Today, snow meant unaccustomed quiet and peacefulness, opportunities to exercise patience, surprising bursts of creativity, and time spent together.

Because in our little corner of the sunny south . . .

where snow does not very often occur . . .

it changes our world . . .

and it makes magical things happen that don't always happen.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rustic Apple Coffeecake - Gluten-Free or Not

What's better on these frosty mornings than a warm, apple-y coffeecake?

This coffeecake was on the table for Christmas morning and again for New Year's Eve.

New Year's Eve??  Yep.  The house where we spent New Year's Eve asked for all guests to bring favorite breakfast foods and at 9:00 p.m. we had a most fabulous "breakfast."

I do think breakfast is my favorite meal of the day!!

Of course, you will notice that the coffeecake is called "Penny's Apple Brown Sugar Coffee Cake."  But since I don't know who Penny is, I have now made this my own and call it "Rustic Apple Coffeecake."  I have no idea what may make a coffeecake rustic, or even if a rustic coffeecake is a thing to be desired, but it does sound quite delicious, no?

In our household we now have 3 that can't digest gluten well, so this coffeecake can be made gluten-free or not.  The gluten-free is just as delicious as the one made with wheat.

If you're gluten-free, the recipe comes from this cookbook, that is, by the way, worth its weight in gold.

Silvana has you make up a mix for all your flour needs, and the mix is just fabulous for getting as nice a product as possible from your flour.

Here is the recipe.  Hope you love it!!

Rustic Apple Coffeecake

1 cup plus 2 tsp. Silvana's All-Purpose Flour (or regular flour)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I omitted these)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large apples (peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease 9-inch springform pan or round cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, the baking powder and salt.

In a small bowl, toss together the remaining 2 teaspoons flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, chocolate chips, walnuts and cinnamon.

In another small bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the oil and vanilla. Stir into the flour ixture until just combined. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan and top with half the apples and half the chocolate chip mixture. Repeat with the remaining batter, apples and chocolate chip mixture.

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan set on a wire rack.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Not A Good Way To Start The Year

No one should have to start the New Year mad!

Even less should one have to start the year mad at their dog . . . you know man's best friend and all that stuff.

But that is exactly what happened in this household.  The details are a little sketchy.  After all, the dogs still aren't talking about it much.  But this is what fell out, the best I can deduce.

White Dog and Brown Dog were left home alone on New Year's Eve.  This made Brown Dog decidedly grumpy and started off the evening on a bad note.  To make matters worse, fireworks began to go off in the neighborhood and Brown Dog found himself nervous, disturbed, and feeling very, very alone.


About this time, Brown Dog spied something he had not yet noticed in all the holiday festivities.  Down under the Christmas tree was a large, soft, white flannel sheet, used as a tree skirt.  It looked very, very comforting . . . for a dog who is nervous, disturbed and feeling very, very alone.

Brown Dog began eyeing the sheet.  White Dog smelled trouble and warned Brown Dog to mind his own business, be content with his cast-off quilt, stick his paw pads in his ears, and be a good dog, which of course only encouraged Brown Dog all the more to have . . . that . . . soft . . . sheet.The fact that Brown Dog was on his leash, which was attached to a pillar two feet from the tree mattered to him not in the least.  In fact, it served only to heighten the challenge of having . . . that . . . soft . . . sheet.

And, so he pulled, he tugged, he threw his body at the tree, he twisted, he jumped.  And by gum he got that sheet.

White Dog, meanwhile hid his head under his own well-worn, cast-off comforter, put his paw pads in his ears, hummed loudly and said, "I don't see what you're doing.  I can't see a thing.  I know nothing that's going on."

That is how it came to be that as the 7 of us walked in to the house, bleary-eyed, in the wee hours of New Year's morning, we found the tree, rotated 90 degrees, bottom 2 rows of expensive artificial tree foliage bent to the ground, a veritable shower of artificial tree "needles" on the floor, ornaments scattered about . . .

. . . and a very sentimental, hand-crafted, 25 year-old ornament smashed on the floor. 

Have I mentioned that no one should have to start out the New Year mad?

After a cup of tea, my emotions were back in check, I had decided that Brown Dog could live in safety for another year, and I was beginning to believe that 2011 might actually turn out to be quite a satisfactory year.

It was at this point that Youngest Son approached me tentatively, eyes wide, gesturing in the general direction of the dining room table, mouth moving but no syllables coming out.

Yes.  Vintage glass ornament.  Part of a set from the 1930s.  Handled with care by my German grandmother for years and then passed down to me.  Smashed.

Children don't understand these things.  It's round.  It must therefore be a ball.

If things don't turn around quickly here, I'll be the one in bed, covers over my head, waiting for 2012.

Have I mentioned that no one should have to start out the year mad?

Time for more tea.