Friday, March 27, 2009

Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones

(Edited to adjust baking time.)

These scones are nubbly, buttery, and not-too-sweet, making them just as at home topped with jelly as with cheese. The oats add a little bit of texture and wholesomeness, while the freshly grated nutmeg adds just a little peppery hit to the flavor.

Be sure not to overwork the butter -- I keep my unsalted butter frozen in the freezer and then grate it straight into the flour mixture. That way you have easy, even distribution, and it takes almost no time to work it into the flour. (I do this for all recipes that require cutting butter in -- biscuits, etc.)

Also, if you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute roughly 1/3 to 1/2 plain yogurt and half milk.


Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones
Recipe from Dori Greenspan's "Baking: from my home to yours".

1 large egg
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (or grated right onto flour mixture)

To make:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 deg. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Stir the egg and buttermilk together.

Whisk the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-sized pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes, and pieces the size of everything in between – and that’s just right.

Pour the egg and buttermilk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together. Don’t overdo it.

Still in the bowl, gently knead the dough by hand, or turn it with a rubber spatula 8 – 10 times. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it in half. Working with one piece at a time, pat the dough into a rough circle that’s about 5 inches in diameter, cut it into 6 wedges and place on the baking sheet. (At this point, the scones can be frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight. Don’t defrost before baking – just add about 2 minutes to the baking time.)

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until their tops are just barely golden and firmish. Transfer them to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving, or wait for scones to cool to room temperature.

Oh bother.

I'm tired of getting sick. I'm tired of being sick. And I'm sooooo tired of these "hey! Guess what?!! Yup, sick again!!" updates, but unfortunately...yes, I caught the stomach bug too. Bleah. Thankfully, I have a few recipes typed up for you that I've been meaning to share for a while, so, while I don't actually want to think about food right now, it won't hurt me any to share some pre-written stuff. Post to follow!

And just because I think we could all use a little more cute in our lives, here's some pictures from last week of Billy, just woken up from his nap. There's nothing like a sleepy, snuggly little guy to put things all to rights.

(Please excuse the crayon streaks on the mirror. Daisy is very...artistic.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Thanks for all of the great breakfast ideas! The ones that require reheating before eating I'll save for dinner plans (easy, kid friendly dinners are what we're all about right now). While it may not seem possible, I literally do not have time to heat up anything in the microwave before leave the house in the mornings, and by the time everyone is down in the van (two flights of stairs + three sets of short little legs = sloooooow), and buckled in, it'd be cold again anyway. I think so far the very best suggestions have been for breakfast cookies (now to find some good recipes) from Lindsey, and mini-muffins (less mess!) from Laura. There were also some great peanut-butter/pancake/waffle combos which sounded good, although unfortunately Sparky only likes peanut-butter on bread sandwiches, and is offended by things like peanut-butter cookies. (Seriously kid, are you for real?) Feel free to keep the suggestions coming! And for those of you who want ideas too -- go read over the comments to that post. There's some great stuff in there!

For a while now I've been wanting a garden. My mom has always kept one, and while she did most of (all of?) the hard work involved, my favorite memories include standing with crumbling, sun-warmed soil between my toes, with the scent of tomato vines, basil and marigolds, and eating handfuls of cherry tomatoes plain, in the summer heat.

While I may not be able to recreate that exact situation in my current living situation, I did discover a way that I can have my own little garden, just outside of my kitchen window!

Enter, Garden Patch.

Umm, sorry, distracted by the ponytail.

As I hefted 13 of these bags of potting soil up both flights of stairs, I could only imagine what my neighbors must be thinking.

These are the seeds I ordered from Gurney's (well, except for the peas, which I got from a nearby nursery)

The boys were so excited about our project, that when I gave them the job of filling the reservoirs in the bottoms of the planters, they worked for a good hour before exhausting themselves. They were rather helpful, and terribly proud of themselves.

We managed to fit almost everything that I had ordered seeds for, with the exception of broccoli, brussels sprouts and zucchini. Overall, I'm so happy with out little garden!

You can click through to Flickr for notes over this photo on what we put where.

Once these plants get a good start and the weather warms up, we'll drag them through the house to put them out on the porch, just next to the kitchen. For now, this room is functioning as a perfect greenhouse.

On the knitting end of things, I finished up the back of the Lush and Lacy Cardigan. I was knitting happily away on the left front, and was almost to the end of it...

When I noticed I'd repeated one of the pattern rows twice, about half-way back.


Sigh. I lost about a night's worth of knitting (since my knitting is terribly slow at the moment), but it was worth it. This is a sweater I intend to wear, and I know the error would always bother me, even if it was not immediately obvious to anyone else.

Oh, and on the topic of re-doing?

Yup. Re-blocking the sucker.

Now Max has started puking. He has manged to land it in the toilet for most of the time, but I can assure you that I'm keeping the Storytime Blanket far, far away until the sickness is long gone.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Serious Stash Enhancement

Yesterday Daisy woke up vomiting with a fever, and it would probably be best not to discuss what was in her diaper. She and I spent most of the day changing our clothing, and yes, she did puke on the Hemlock Ring blanket, thanks for asking.

Blessedly, she took three long naps, and she's already taken two today. Although she still has a fever, she is eating a little better (read: at all), so I hope she's coming out of it.

Here she is, feeling very sorry for herself.

Question: do they all sit around licking the floor in childcare? Hmm.

No need to dwell on that though. We might have to shut ourselves in this week (again), but at least I've got a lot of great fiber to play with, because...

Amy did a massive update at the beginning of the month, and with all of the Spunky gift certificates my friends had included in the huge Valentine's Day boxes last month, I did some Serious Shopping.

There's no sense in letting free shipping go to waste, I always say.

I did promise Fiber Pr0n so here's the gratuitous close-ups:

(You can click through for details and in some of the descriptions are notes on what I intend to do with the fiber)

I also got club from Southern Cross Fibres:

Spring Forward, BFL

Included in the club package was this fabulous 4oz bump:

Koala, New Zealand Polwarth

As part of the Spunky group's effort to supercharge my stash over the last month, Jacqui (Jammam) gave me some Southern Cross Fibre cash. I asked David to surprise me, giving him some ideas for what I like, and I am crazy pleased with this Koala bump. David is a color genius -- there's no two ways about it. Thank you, thank you Jacqui!

But that's not all, my friends, oh no. It seems that I've been in a Go Big or Go Home state of mind, because remember that Qiviut I had mentioned a little while ago?

Yup. One ounce. I have a good variety of very special fiber in my stash, but I can tell you with full assurance that I have never felt anything so soft. It's so soft that I almost can't feel it.

It was blended with 25% silk, and the light touch they used to blend it makes the fiber 100% lush. When spun, it will have a glimmer all through from that silk.

This is earmarked for something Very Special (as yet undecided) of course as a laceweight project. I think I might have to purchase the Very Fast Flyer for my Lendrum though before I start spinning. (By the way, if anyone has experience with that particular flyer, can you share your thoughts? Does it make the treadling more resistant? Do you use it often? Etc.?)

This has no relation to anything in this post whatsoever, but does anyone have breakfast suggestions for eating in the car? My children and I end up eating breakfast en route to places 2 or three days out of the week, and I'm getting tired of the dry cereal, granola bars and apples that I've been packing lately. Any non-fastfood solutions would be greatly appreciated. Make-ahead take-with child-friendly suggestions are needed to get me out of this rut (and remember, the ages include the not-quite-2-year-old Daisy, so it's gotta be simple to eat!).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Storytime Blanket

When we traveled to Italy early last February, I brought with me the Hemlock Ring Blanket that I'd started just for our road trip. I knit in the car, in the hotel during the children's naps during the day, and a bit each night before we settled into bed.

I decided to make this blanket just a bit bigger than Jared Flood had originally intended so that the children and I could all fit under it to snuggle and read books together (my husband, sadly, is incredibly sensitive to wool. Terrible. I know.) It was dubbed The Storytime Blanket, and Sparky and Max were excited about it, watching it grow under my needles and asking again and again when it would be finished. I liked the idea that my memories of Italy were being knit into the fabric, and the repetitive feather-and-fan lace motief was perfect for the stop-start nature of my knitting during our time there.

When I at last cast off, I had every intention of blocking it, but...eventually I stuffed it into one of my rubbermade stash containers, burying it under a bunch of stuff so that I wouldn't have to look at it, feeling guilty. This was strange, because I love blocking things, but pregnancy puts my head in a weird place. I was in the 1st trimester with Billy, and Greg had just deployed, so I suppose the wierdness was multiplied. Anyway.

Recently Becca posted some blocking pics, and I remembered how transformative and almost magical the blocking process is. With this in mind, I dug the blanket back out of the stash.

On Wednesday, Sparky and I soaked it and then pinned it out on our guest bed while the younger three children took their naps.

I knit it out of Eco Wool in one of the natural colors, and worked the longer chart that someone in the Yahoo KAL drew up (sorry, no links, you'll have to locate it yourself because it's been too long for me to remember).

Now that it's dried and un-pinned, I am so happy with it.

It seems from the number of these projects on Ravelry, a bunch of other people must have gotten excited over this pattern as well. :)

Every detail about it pleases me, from the wholesomeness of the natural wool, to the beautiful pattern stitches.

After the bunchy look of the unblocked piece, it's always kind of miraculous to me how wonderfully drapy it becomes afterwords.

And according to Quality Control, it is, indeed, the perfect thing for curling up underneath with a good book.

For more details, you are welcome to visit the project page on Ravelry.

I know I promised wool pr0n today, but I'm going to save it for next post. For now I'm going to go make myself a cup of hot chocolate and find a good book. No, actually I'm just about to make dinner. Pancakes, anyone?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Farmer's market adventures

Today was bright and sunny -- cold, but not bitterly so. We bundled up and headed out to the Friday farmer's market in the town square.

This is the pedestrian shopping area near the square. I love this section of town.

We made our Most Important visit to the cheese truck there. The lady who runs the truck was excited to see us again (we don't venture out all that much in the winter), and, as always, offered extras to the children. She asked if they would prefer cheese or sausage (they have these cold sausages that you can just eat as a snack, just as it is).

I translated to my boys, and their response was violently negative. "I just want Gouda", Sparky whined. "I DON'T. want. her. cheese." said Max through gritted teeth. When a stranger (even just a semi-stranger like this woman...or sometimes just a Person Who Is Not Mommy) tries to engage them in conversation or offers them something, their responses are horrendous. (The other day on the way to childcare at the womens' Bible study, I overheard Max telling Sparky "Now make sure you don't let the ladies unzip your jacket for you." Oh, the horrors.) Not really sure what to do about it. I hope they just grow out of this stage.

While we were out, of course I had to stop at the yarn shop near the square (she hasn't seen Billy since he was born). I walked out with this:

(Yes, the one to the far left is Noro sock yarn. I can't ever resist it. One ball at a time. Eventually I'll have every color she stocks.)

We also got a few soft pretzels at the bakery for lunch, and then, at the children's insistence, we had our first eis (ice cream) of the season at a nearby cafe.

I couldn't bear the thought eating something so cold, so I got hot chocolate.

It's just barely sweet, but entirely delicious, with whipped cream melting into the top

Billy slept while we ate, wrapped like a jelly-roll in the stroller, but then after a bit he woke up screaming, so we made a quick exit.

It was good to have fun with the children. Sometimes I feel like it's "all work, no play", and that I'm kind of boring to them, not spending enough time doing happy stuff. As we sat around the table at the cafe though, I was able to be completely focused on them. They're such funny, smart little people, and I don't want to miss this time in their lives from lack of interest or letting myself be overly distracted by all of my responsibilities and other interests.

Once we got home we had a nice lunch with the pretzels, and cheese we'd purchased, and found that the cheese lady had also tucked a veal wurst (sausage) in the package with our cheese.

I cut it into pieces to give to everyone; Daisy took one look at hers and said "It's NAKED!" The boys found this hilarious, and, well, I probably don't need to tell you where their conversation went from there.

Tomorrow, it's all about a (sort-of) brand new finished project. And some new wool! (A whole lot of new wool.) (A lot.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kick ass aprons

Recently, my Aunt Susie asked if she could commission me to weave a shawl for her. I, however, am not overly fond of commissions. I've done so in the past, and have never felt entirely satisfied with the exchange. How do you put a price on the hours of your life that you give to a project? What I really like to do is to give my work as gifts to people, choosing the recipients very carefully according to their understanding and appreciation of what I do. I have been known to knit-starve a person for a goodly length of time until they are appropriately desperate for, say, a nice hat or something, and this works well to up the person's perceived value of the project. But I digress.

A commission was out of the question, but Aunt Susie is an incredible seamstress. Her workmanship and finishing techniques are impeccable, and she has a talent for throwing together colors and shapes, and also knows how to design on the fly. I've been dreaming of beautiful aprons for a good while now (largely due to this site), but just haven't gotten around to purchasing fabric and pulling out my sewing machine, because...I'm not very good at it yet. Maybe I could be, but I just haven't put in the time. So I don't want to do it until I'm good. It seems that this approach doesn't produce many (any) aprons, so I proposed a swap, of sorts. An apron for a shawl! An apron that's custom designed just for me! But I want to be surprised! Well. Aunt Susie thought that this was fine, but unfair to me. She decided that instead of one apron, she'd sew me 5.

While I was still in the planning stages of the shawl, she whipped through all 5, and look at what I found in the mail this week:

I cannot begin to describe how perfect these are for me.

The various styles,

the fabric choices,

and the trim! I have an unhealthy love for excessive trim.

There's a sense of humor along with a whole bunch of adorable style wrapped up in this set. And the true mark of a good collection? I can't choose a favorite. They're all so gorgeous/useful/sexy/fun in their own way. I would have to say that Aunt Susie totally hit her mark. These aprons are kick-ass.

The yarn is on it's way here for the shawl. I intend to get my loom warped the minute that it arrives.

You can find out more about these different apron styles and why she made the choices that she did on her blog post about them. Also, in case anyone suddenly feels the need for a kick-ass apron of their own, yes, she does occasionally do commission work.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Three Months Old (a birth story)

Three months ago today, I gave birth to my little sunshine boy.

Photo by Sparky

When I posted the birth annoucement, I had promised a birth story for those of you who wished to know the details, but I've been a tiny bit busy...and somehow forgot.

Photo by Sparky

Today, however, Billy is exactly 3 months old. In honor of this milestone, here is the story at long last:

On December 18th, I woke up at 6:00 in the morning with hard cramps. I'd had a very spicy Indian lunch the day before, and it was apparent that it had worked it's magic. I was able to fall back asleep, but then noticed that I was waking up about every 10 minutes with a hard cramp. At 8:00 I finally got out of bed, and determined, as the cramping had definitely taken a turn towards contractions, that I was in labor.

I woke Greg up, and called Alexa, the midwife. I experienced a contraction while on the phone with her, and she determined that she should probably come to my house immediately. (Some of you will remember that last time with Daisy, I accidentally delivered without Alexa, so she knew that there wasn't any time to waste!)

Things progressed very quickly from there. It went from "this hurts but we can still talk about stuff" to "no one bother me because I think I'm going to die". The midwife and Greg both did pressure points on me to alleviate the pain some, but it was still the worst pain I can ever remember experiencing. (I think this every time though, so it's probably been pretty consistently That Bad each time. Just guessing.)

Greg, with crazy multi-tasking skills, was able to run back and forth across the house, alternately putting on videos for the children, answering their calls for breakfast, snacks, whatever, shuttling Daisy back out of the room several times (she kept coming to me wanting to be held and comforted, because it was disturbing her that I was distressed. Oh baby.), and pressing on the base of my back to help with the contractions.

At 9:45 after about 1 hour and 45 minutes of active labor and 3 minutes of pushing, I gave birth to Billy, on the computer room floor. Again.

So Happy Three Months Old, little dude. I'm so glad that I get to be your Mommy; to watch you grow, and discover who you are.

Everyone here loves you like crazy. You're a cool guy.

We're so happy to have you as part of our family.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The promise of spring

Thank you for all of your comments the other day. Isn't it great to know that other people's children do the same thing? My gosh. That entire day was pretty funny though, in retrospect. Oh, the healing power of laughter.

Yesterday was surprisingly warm and sunny (I think it was in the 50's), so we took a walk to the nearest playground. This was our first walk all together on our own since Billy was born.

I had to stop to take a look at them all before we left. Hey! I have a lot of kids! (Am I old enough to have that many?! I'm pretty sure I'm only 19 or 20-ish...)

As is always the case with small children, our walk was slow and peppered with stops to look at things, but if it had not been for the boys, I would never have been able to notice these beautiful Snowdrops (?) blooming:

Or this brilliantly green patch of grass:

(Max has been perfecting his "candid photo shot" face -- my husband does the same thing. I'll be waiting for the face to change to some more attractive expression, and all the while, they've frozen in the oddest "caught at a bad time" look on purpose. Terrible. But how does a 3-year-old come up with this?)

There is nothing like spring; to me, no other season can compare to the joy of newness and growing, brand new tender plants poking through previously frozen soil. The air smells different at this time of year, fresh and clear.

By the time we'd reached the playground (took us about 30 minutes even though it would take an adult 15 minutes at most), they were so warm that they took their jackets off to run around. They got cold after a bit, but the promise of spring is definitely in the air.

I felt like my brain was rinsed clean; I breathed in the fresh air deeply; it was so good for the children to be able to run free.

I brought along my sock in progress and realized that the last time I'd really worked on it was last year, when the weather was warm, and the children were playing outside. I love the portability of being able to tuck the ball of wool under my arm and get a few rows accomplished while watching the children play. Knitting this sock indoors, however (unless I'm on the phone and need something truly mindless), nearly makes me itchy. I just have no desire to do it. I suppose that means I've become a Playground Sock Knitter. Well. That wasn't all that mindbending, but there it is. (And sock knitting used to be all that I could ever think about!)

It is not to be imagined, of course, that I even got one single stitch in -- Billy woke up to nurse the second I pulled the knitting out, but it was nice to have it there, on the bench next to me, just in case. Comforting, somehow.

The day at the playground was not entirely roses, of course -- there was a minor incident which involved Daisy making a dash through the gate for the road and being virtually tackled by Max. Although he probably saved her life, the blood curdling screams she offered up to the neighbors probably suggested otherwise.

When we got home, she created yet another scene in the stairwell that is best not remembered, but suffice to say it brought out more than one of the neighbors, one of whom thankfully scooped her up and just carried her up, no questions asked.

After this week of varied struggles and joy, I began to wonder: what would the brilliant, gorgeous moments be without the bitter? Without the struggles of toddler wrangling, and preschool rebellion and moments where I'm Pretty Sure I Might Just Die Right Here, how sweet would the lovely moments really be? In the end, I have four beautiful, healthy and strong children that I love more than my own life. Even on the worst of days, I have it pretty good. I am blessed beyond anything that I could deserve.

With my head full of these musings, today has been a day for spinning.

When I want to quiet my mind and just be, feeling the tug and spring of wool passing through my fingers is just the thing. During naptime today I finished up 2 ounces of the 4 from my February Southern Cross Fibre Club: Love Over Gold.

I plan to start the next 2 ounces tonight. This is my first time spinning Polwarth, and the glow of the fiber is particularly alluring. I look forward to seeing this yarn finished! It'll be woven into a scarf for my mom.


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