Thanksgiving Prep

It’s almost time for us to submit to our yearly food coma! Among other things, this year I am thankful we are not traveling anywhere.  We are looking forward to a quiet “just us” day of binge-eating and parade/dog show watching, followed by pie with our friends The Stowells.

Today I am working on prepping everything I can in advance of tomorrow’s cookfest. I made cranberry chutney this morning using THIS RECIPE. The only thing I changed was that I swapped out the water for bourbon, beacuse, well….have you met me?


I am also making the pumpkin bread for the stuffing, which I will finish putting together tomorrow morning.  As always, I’m using Susan’s recipe, because, honestly, it’s what my dreams are made of. You can find that recipe HERE.  I can’t wait! I’m going to serve it in this adorable pumpkin serving dish I picked up at World Market.


Speaking of all things pumpkin, I tried out another recipe of Susan’s that I can’t get enough of, and I offer up here in case you need a (very) last-minute side dish idea.  STUFFED PUMPKIN

Can I just tell you, it’s the most cozy, homey, delicious ambrosial thing you have ever, ever had.  I made it last week when Paul had the kids in NY with him, and I ate at least half of it myself before they got home and finished it off.


I let it cool quite a bit before cutting it so that I could get individual pieces rather than eating it like a fondue (though that would be scrumptious as well).



Really, try it for yourselves.  I used a sugar pumpkin because I could not get my hands on a Long Island Cheese pumpkin for all the tea in China around these parts.

Incidentally, if you’re relatively local to Richmond, Va, there’s a brewery that makes a pumpkin ale that compliments this dish beautifully.

The other food advice I can give for the holiday is THESE dinner rolls from King Arthur Flour.  They are very nearly foolproof, the recipe makes plenty (quickly!) and everyone loooooooooves them.

The kids in particular are looking forward to breakfast – I got some frozen chocolate croissants from Trader Joes for us to enjoy while we watch the parade, all snuggled together in our jammies.

It’s going to be an interesting holiday season with all the new cats around here, but no one seems to care about the potential for disaster, since they’re so darn cute. And they haven’t mastered jumping up on the table yet, either, so there’s that.


As for Dilly, she’s just as adorable and naughty as ever, but she’s coming around to them. She’s even actually been playing with them. But she still won’t admit she likes them.


Happy Thanksgiving, all. Hope it’s a warm, cozy, fun, delicious one!



Two In One?!

That’s right! TWO finished objects in ONE blog post!

Actually I have not been nearly as productive as that. I pulled out an old kitty bed project from several years ago and finished it up, and then used my homespun to make a simple cowl.

The kitty bed simply required binding off and felting, but since I have an older front-loader, felting is problematic. I ended up boiling it on the stove for awhile, beating it up a bit with a wooden spoon, and then throwing it in the wash.

It didn’t come out too badly, but there’s still quite a bit more stitch definition than I would like for a felted item.


Fortunately, the kitties aren’t that picky. They love that it’s wool, and that’s that.


They’re settling in rather well here; Dilly hasn’t quite decided what she thinks of them yet.  She follows them around, and keeps a close eye, but if they get too close she hisses and runs. Sushi and Mister cat are rather more angry still.  All in good time, I suppose.  I am NOT, however, looking forward to the next several months of bratty/destructor kitten behavior.

For the cowl I knitted up, I simply cast 80 stitches onto my size 8 circulars and knit every round until I had used up almost all of it. Then I bound it off, and voila!


I’m pretty happy with it. It’s a good, thick, solid cowl; perfect for colder days (that we don’t really get much here in the fall, but whatevs).


The colors are everything I want them to be and more; like autumn in a cowl!

Who Turned the Heat Back On?

After we got used to some absolutely beautiful, crisp, autumn weather, we are back into the mid-seventies now.  We all feel like we are roasting alive!

All of the soups, stews, and warming foods we had planned seem downright ridiculous now.

So do all of the holiday decorations I am seeing going up everywhere.


The sheep have been chasing the shade all around the field. They’re not fans of the heat, either. It means there are still too many flies around.




I’ve also had to turn the air conditioning back on; in the fall and winter the back of our house (which is all windows) gets direct sunlight the ENTIRE day. It’s great when it’s cold out. Not so much when it’s unseasonably warm.


The kittens, Poppet and Widget, are settling in nicely. We had them separated for awhile we we awaited their FIV/Feline leukemia tests, and also because they were so tiny we worried about the dogs stepping on them.

They’re still pretty darn small, but they’re learning to navigate us a bit.


They LOVE the dogs, and Cini, especially, loves them.


Widget is only slightly larger than Cini’s paw.


Had to throw in this picture Neve took of Oona playing in the leaves!

A nasty cold virus has been making its rounds here for weeks now, and we are trudging along trying to get through it.

I’ve been occupied with new knitting; not only did I cast on a pair of socks, but I’ve also started swatching for my next Shepherd sweater AND an additional sweater pattern called “Chimney Fire”.  I couldn’t help myself! After Rhinebeck, i want to knit all the things!

Bring back the cold weather!

Pumpkin Day, and Spinning Love

After I bought a bag of wonderful fall-colored roving at Rhinebeck, I could not stop thinking about how I needed to spin it!


Though I am still very new at spinning, one of the things I learned is that it makes it easier to keep practicing when you are spinning with fiber that you love. So, caution (and thoughts of saving it for when I am an expert) aside, I jumped in and spun that baby up into three spindles.


Once I had three spindles of single-strand I couldn’t wait to see how it would look all plied together.


Boy, it did NOT disappoint! I am so in love with this yarn I have made!  It isn’t a very large amount, but definitely enough for a nice autumn-y cowl. Now I can’t wait to get my wheel going again!

In the meantime, Halloween is very nearly upon us, and the kids kept reminding me of the many things that needed to be done, like pumpkin carving.


This year I let Oona do all her own tracing and cutting. The only help I gave was removing the pieces, since it was a bit fiddly for her.

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They made such a glorious mess.

You know who wasn’t complaining about that, though? The pigs! Pumpkin day means it’s time for their annual treat of pumpkin guts.


They loooooove pumpkins. In a few days (before total rotting can set in), they will be given the Jack o’lanterns as well. But for now, we are enjoying our day of handiwork!


Emily’s Raven, and my “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme.


Oona’s pumpkin


Neve’s pumpkin.

Now that Pumpkin day is accomplished, there is only really Trick or Treating left. Tonight we’ll watch Hocus Pocus and bask in the last remaining glorious bit of October before it is done.

Autumn Birthday

Sunday we drove out to our friends’ house to celebrate their son’s 7th birthday. Thankfully the weather held,  and we were able to mingle outside and enjoy grilled bratwurst and fresh oysters.

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And did I mention it’s beautiful out at their house in the fall?


Kirby, the welcoming committee.

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Paul and Emily missed out on the fun, due to a bad cold that is making its rounds. Paul is actually still down with it, and home from work today. I’m trying to power through today, and make some garlic chicken soup to aid in recovery.image image

Neve helped with the marshmallow roasting.

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Oysters! I actually got Neve to try one; she wasn’t thrilled with it, to say the least!

Lisa and Will always throw one heck of a party, and being out among the changing leaves on a mild October day with a great group of people……well, how can you go wrong?

The Best Weekends Are Fall Weekends

It’s Monday morning, and boy am I feeling it. I packed a lot into the last few days, and I fear that the cold Paul and the kids have been dealing with may have finally reached me.

For most of Saturday I worked on baking and spinning. That luscious Blue-Faced Leicester roving was calling to me and I couldn’t tear myself away from the wheel!  I’ve got almost two spindles full; when I’ve got three I’ll ply them together. I can’t wait to see how it all blends together!

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I mean, those colors!!!! When Neve and I were wandering around Rhinebeck, I realized we kept grabbing the same colors. The colors of fall!  I had to make a conscious effort to look at other colors as well. There’s just something so homey and comforting about the golds, oranges, and reds of this time of year, though.

To match that coziness, I tried a recipe from King Arthur that I’d been eyeing for awhile: Cranberry-Pumpkin rolls.


I left out the cranberries this time; Paul isn’t crazy about them, and I wanted to see how they’d do as plain pumpkin rolls.


The result? Absolute deliciousness! I crammed them all into a 9×13 pan as suggested by the recipe, but I actually had dough leftover as it wouldn’t all fit. Cranberries would have been delightful in them, but in all honesty they do well enough without them as well.

That evening I met my sister out for my birthday gift from her: The Avett Brothers in Charlottesville.


They are so good live, I can’t even tell you. Maddie and I had such a good time; I have the best sister!



Hudson Valley Weekend Part 2: Barton’s Orchard

The thing about Sunday was the weather.

Neve and I were very much looking forward to a day at a Hudson Valley apple orchard, spending time with my stepmother and aunt, taking pictures and enjoying hot apple cider and cider doughnuts, and hearing my dad’s band.


We did get to do those things, but not as much as we had hoped, and Neve was downright miserable and grumpy.

Because this happened:


Snow. On October 19.

We had brought sweaters and coats and winter accessories, but we never imagined it would actually snow. And, in all honesty, it didn’t bother me all that much. But the cold took hold of Neve and turned her into a grumpasaurus in the same way it did when we were in Scotland. I could have easily managed it and stayed for the entire day, but we were forced to bail early lest Neve freeze entirely.


During the brief moments of sun we visited the animal enclosures and pet the goats and mini ponies.

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You could buy handfuls of grain to feed the goats and alpacas. I can’t imagine this at home; my animals would be suffering from extreme bloat!

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The band played all day despite the weather. Good thing they had a covered stage!

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Neve perked up a little when we got her back to the house; she even grabbed my camera and went out for some pictures.

My father and stepmother live in a townhouse overlooking the Rondout canal, and the views are spectacular.

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I think she captured some really nice images!

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Neve fell fully in love with the scenery, as I always have. I really need a good week or more to re-explore the area and capture all of the beauty.

On our way out of town we stocked up on birch beer (can’t get that down here), and Keegan Ales’ “Mother’s Milk” stout for Paul and I.

Many hours of driving later we were home, and despite the time it takes to get there, I really need to get back there more often.