Cold Weather Knitting

I don’t think I have to tell most of you it’s been cold.  Even here in Virginia we’ve been suffering with it the past few weeks.

For me, nothing fits the bill for the winter better than some good knitting to work on.  So,with the help of some luscious Juniper Moon Farm yarn I cast on the Madelinetosh Honey Cowl and worked on it while Sushi enjoyed the fireplace.

If you’ll recall, my first attempt at the cowl ended in frogging because I had a twist in it.  I re-cast it super carefully and ended up with about 300 twists, so I gave up and knitted the darn thing the whole way, twists and all.

It worked out okay; I had to do some creative “steeking” (a scary procedure whereby you sew a seem and then cut your project and re-sew or pick up new stitches) I managed to straighten it right out.

I really love how it came out otherwise.  The color is just ridiculous gorgeous (thanks to the always fabulous Suzy Q who dyed it for Susie last fall) and super soft and scrunchy.

Can I tell you how hard it is to be friends with someone who sells yarn????  I have to talk myself out of stealing some every time I am over there.

The good news is I have plenty of yarn and projects already lined up and waiting for me to just get to them.

Some day in 100 years when I have free time.

Holy Cow! A Painting!

When was the last time I showed a finished painting on this blog??  Have I ever shown a finished painting on this blog???  I am not sure I have made a single piece of oil – based artwork since Oona was born, at least.

I decided a few weeks back it was high time that changed.  I decided it while sitting in my living room looking at photos I had taken while over at Juniper Moon Farm of sheep.  That’s when I knew I needed a big ole’ sheep portrait above the fireplace for winter.

Ernie, Susie’s larger than life fleece-bearer fit the bill.

So I dragged out the canvas, brushed the dust off my box of oil paints (and prayed everything wasn’t all dried out) and waited for all the kids to go to bed.

You can’t use oil paints with kids around.

You just can’t.

Over the course of several evenings I managed to finish a satisfactory piece of art to grace the mantle.

And then I went over to the farm and petted him today to thank him for the inspiration.

Then he chewed his cud a bit and walked away.

The end.

It’s All About Butter

No, not the delicious and creamy food – stuff.

I’m talking my little Oona – baby – Buddha – Butter.

She’s recently had a haircut to even out the two haircuts she gave herself over the last 2 years, which had resulted in her sporting a baby mullet for much too long.  Now she has a cute little bob.

Anyway, the point of this post is to straighten out her nickname.  Butter.

Many people think it is an homage to the South Park character Butters.

Well, no.  Although we do enjoy the show, and that character is a favorite, that is not how the nickname began.

It’s simply a degeneration of her actual name into something else entirely, which is what happens to all of our kids and pets over time.  Oona became Oona – Boona, which became Ooda-Booda, which became Boo.  Boo stuck for quite awhile,and is still in occasional use.

At the same time, I was calling her a “Little Butt” quite often due to her not – so -wonderful behavior.  Then, of course, “Little Boo-Butt”, “Little Snuggle Butt”, which at last turned into “Snuggle Butter”.  As in I’m going to smoosh you up and put you in a jar and label it Snuggle Butter! Many giggles ensue.


As it happens, there is a Disney show we used to watch waaaaaay back before we had decent cable or satellite and Disney was the only kids’ channel.

It’s called PB&J Otter. It’s a cartoon about a family of Otters living on house boat on (I kid you not) “Lake Hoo-haw”.  (One of their best friends was a Beaver named Munchy, but let’s not go down that road).

So these three Otter children are called “Peanut”, “Jelly”, and , you guessed it, Little Baby “Butter”. 

As you can clearly see, it is completely inevitable that I would have three daughters and that the youngest would end up being called “Butter”.


And now you know.


Susie’s Warming the World

My dear friend Susie is at it again.  She’s hit on a simple yet brilliant idea; one which should be staring all of us in the face if we’d only take time outside of our busy little bubbles and see.  I am re-posting her blog from earlier this week here and will be doing my part to carry it forward.  Will you????

A couple of weeks ago, I was on the way Washington D.C. for a meeting with Tanis when I pulled into a convenience store for a Diet Pepsi. On the way back to my car, I noticed a homeless man huddled up by the side of the building, trying to make himself as small a target as possible for the bitter cold wind. He was bared-headed and his coat would have been inadequate on a day that was 10 degrees warmer.

After I got back in my warm car, after I turned on my seat heaters and adjusted the heat to full blast, after I took my wool coat off because I was suddenly too hot, I realized how miserable I was spending less than a minute out in that cold and wondered what it must be like to have to live in it.

And then I glanced into my back seat and saw a giant box, over flowing with the lovely Red Scarves we, you and I, made for the Red Scarf Project. I wondered briefly if I should have given him one, if the maker would mind it going to a cold homeless man rather than it’s intended recipient, but by then I had arrived at my destination and I put the idea and the man out of my mind.

He wasn’t out of my mind for long though. I have spend some part of every day since then just sick about the fact that I didn’t think to give him a scarf. I can tell you this without a moments hesitation: if I had seen a dog suffering in the cold they way that man was, I would not have walked away and left it there. I know I wouldn’t have.

I can’t imagine how cold he much have been. I can’t imagine the turns his life took to get him to that parking lot. I can’t imagine the misery. I’ve tried. I just can’t.

There is another box of scarves in my back seat right now. Scarves and hats and a few pair of mis-matched gloves. The next time I see someone who looks cold, I will step out of my toasty car and my comfort zone and offer him or her something to help keep them a little warmer.

And I’m asking you to do the same. Please go through your closets and make a pile of the hats, scarves and gloves no one wears and put them in a bag in your car. If you have the time and the inclination, it would be lovely to include a couple of hand knit scarves and hats as well. It doesn’t need to be fancy- warmth is what we’re aiming for here.

I briefly considered turning this into some kind of giveaway but then I realized that would be silly. You are lovely, kind, amazing people and you won’t need any incentive. Please do this for me.

Snow – Day Cookies

Today the public schools all were closed for an expected snowstorm.  Which never materialized.  We had “Winter Weather Advisories”and whatnot in effect today but all we got were about 15 minutes worth of flurries followed by fog and some freezing drizzle.  Very disappointing.  And good enough reason to not cancel home school.  If we had gotten a lot of fun snow I may have relented in the name of outside play, but in this case….no.  I did however keep the fireplace on all day and make 2 types of cookies to enjoy with hot cocoa.

The first ones were Bakerella’s Cowgirl Cookies. Think chocolate – chip cookies with m&m’s.  Tres yummy, and very easy.  I also love that she uses melted butter, much like America’s Test Kitchen uses for their chocolate – chip cookies.  This keeps the cookie centers moist but you don’t get that all – spread – out – flatness that you get from the Tollhouse recipe.

As a side note, I made this mix once before as  Gluten – free for a dear friend who cannot have wheat products.  I used some of King Arthur flour’s gluten – free flour in place of the all – purpose, and since I could not find any oats that were not reliably free of cross – contamination from wheat I simply replaced them with the same amount of GF flour.  They came out great!

Neve read two chapters of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s On the Banks of Plum Creek out loud while I baked them up today.  Voila.  School and cookies at the same time.

Then this evening after Emily and I finished talking about flower parts and reproduction I made Palmiers, a cookie also often referred to as Elephant Ears.

These are likewise incredibly easy to make, an very yummy.  They are especially good with afternoon coffee.

I used Ina Garten’s recipe from Food Network, which you can find here.

Basically, you roll out some Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry (thawed!) on a surface covered (and I do mean covered) with sugar and a tad of kosher salt.  The pastry itself also gets covered liberally with sugar, then folded up like a book into 6 layers and sliced in small sections to be baked.

The sugar caramelizes nicely while the puff pastry expands and “puffs” out.

When complete they are the perfect combination of sweet and chewy/crunchy.  They take no time at all, which is, incidentally, about how long they last.

Welcome 2011!!!

Happy New Year, all!!

Are you suffering from Post – Holiday Let – Down Disorder like me?

Fortunately we had some snow over Christmas and I was able to head over to Juniper Moon Farm and visit with sheep and new puppies and get some pictures to console myself.

Susie’s giant bellwether sheep, Ernie, allowed Maddie and I to spend some time petting him and taking pictures.  I think he may be my new favorite.

If I can manage to get around to it, I think a nice oil painting of this big guy for over my mantle might be just the ticket for warming up our hibernation period this year.