How To Throw A Party Like A Pro

What happens when two talented cooks/restauranteurs throw a 5th birthday bash for their son?

A fantastic party with amazing food on a beautiful fall Sunday.

My friend Lisa and Will had us (plus many, many, many) other people to celebrate Alston’s big day.  Oona fairly wore herself out playing in the leaves and chasing ducks and dogs and other kids around while Maddie acted as official baby-watcher for darling little Marie.


Just look at that baby!




Tree stump chairs by the fire and food.



Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  I know, you’re jealous.  Yes, they were every bit as amazing as they sound.




I mentioned the food, right?  Aside from the fall-themed appetizer spread there was pulled pork and coleslaw.  And it was YUM.

Maddie and Emily and I drank gallons of the hot apple cider (and I may have sampled some of the hard cider as well……)




The little man of the hour!





Will by the fire, which was perfect: not too hot for such a sunny day, but just warm enough for the chill in the air.

Fall parties like this are my favorite kind.  The bugs are mostly gone, the leaves are stunning, the campfire isn’t sweltering, the food is warming.

It’s one of the best ways to turn 5!


Happy Temperatures

It’s been downright chilly here for October in Virginia.  We had a frost last night and are expecting another tonight!

The fireplace is in use full time now, the handknits are out, the apple cider is being consumed hot.  There’s a lovely nip in the air, which is heavily scented with woodsmoke lately.

The flock is in weather nirvana!







Georgia and Nanny McPhee


Alabama thinks I have food, so he is willing to let me take his picture.


Willoughby and Bennett, making a rare appearance (they are pretty wary of people).







I’m going to curl up by the fire with some spicy gingerale and work on my Shepherd Sweater now.  Stay cozy!

Apple Cider Doughnuts

You all know how much I love King Arthur Flour, right?  They have some of the best recipes on their site, and the best ingredients with which to make them (no I am not getting paid to say that!).

So it’s no surprise that I am on their website frequently.   While browsing last week I came across a recipe for Apple Cider Doughnuts.

Well, of course I had to try them!  And though generally I am a food purist and would prefer my doughnuts as nature intended them – fried – I was willing to try them out baked.  After all, less fat, right?


These two ingredients are this recipes secret weapons of flavor.  Boiled Cider and applesauce (I used my own, made with the ninety billion pounds of apples we picked).


The batter worked up very quickly, and gets plopped into the doughnut pan (it was like $10 at Bed Bath & Beyond).


After baking, I slid them all out of the pan and then they had a bath in cinnamon and sugar.


The sugar mixture sticks best if they’re put it in directly from the oven.


I made about 18 doughnuts in all.  Though it was hard to keep an accurate count because they kept getting eaten!

In all, the only real disappointment wasn’t taste – related.  I adore the smell of cider donuts wafting on the breeze at the orchard while they’re being fried.  Sadly, my house did not smell that way while baking these.  But the flavor was right and even though they’re not *quite* as delectable as fried doughnuts, they are a super, serious, amazingly close second.

We’ll be making these again.

So Much Fun It’s Scary

Halloween has always been one of our favorite holidays.  All the beautiful leaves and weather, the fun and spooky decorations, dressing up, eating candy!

Luckily we have friends who enjoy it just as much as we do, and welcome us all to their home every year for an evening of spooky festivity!


Conjoined twin cookies!


Neve as Sally.


Spicy taco dip skull.


Maddie and Gabi.


Our friend Keith as Jack Skellington.


Neve with Jessie: our two Sallys.


I went with a Dia de los Muertos theme.


Book Club ladies.





Cute littles!


Neve and Sarah.



Emily went as Prince Zuko from Avatar, The Last Airbender.


Elizabeth’s husband Kevin led us all in a rousing game of Mad Scientists vs. Villagers.  The villagers had to discover who the scientists were before they killed off the whole village!

As always we had a great time and the kids wore themselves out (always a good thing!).

It’s sad that October is flying by so quickly, but at least we still have more Halloween fun to come!

Halloween Socks!


After casting these on a year ago, putting them down to finish other projects and waiting for substitute yarn to arrive, I finished them!


The sock on the left was finished last October.  The one on the right……….

The pattern is Little Pumpkins, which was a joy to work.  The yarn is Socks That Rock, mostly in colorway “Rocky Horror”.  Mostly.  Until I’d gotten halfway through the foot on the right sock and realized all that cabling meant I wasn’t going to have enough yarn to finish.  After I died a little inside I checked the website to find that that colorway was on hiatus.  BUT there was another colorway, “Go Beavs” that was pretty similar.  Since it was only going to be the toe, really, I figured it would have to do, so I ordered it.

And proceeded to wait nearly a month for it to arrive.

They dye their yarn to order – which is lovely – except that I’ve seen Lauria and Susan and Tanya dye hundreds and hundreds of hanks of yarn and get them shipped out in less than 2 weeks.  And with the clock ticking down towards Halloween I was becoming annoyed that my Halloween socks would yet again not be ready in time.

Then, miracle of miracles, it finally arrived yesterday, and was almost an exact match for color!

I did have some pooling in the foot at the end, but you know what?  They’re done.  And honestly, you can see the pumpkin design much better in the areas where the color is pooled rather than striped.


And did I mention they are DONE???


Now I can focus all of my knitterly attention on my Shepherd sweater.

In other seasonal news, the persimmon tree is fruiting!!!


Isn’t fall grand?