Wednesday, October 31, 2012


All aglow on Halloween eve.

Last night we carved up the pumpkins that my parents grew.  And we came up with some happy jack-o-lantern faces.  There's something nostalgic about slimy pumpkin guts, toasted seeds and the aroma of candle smoke and pumpkin flesh.  It makes me want to eat candy corn and drink apple cider.  I hope your trick or treating excursions are successful. Happy Halloween friends.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Last month I had the opportunity to run away for a weekend with my sister.  She's the kind of family that you'd pick if you got to pick your family - I just love her.  And I'm fortunate to have such a good friend in her. We flew to New York city for the weekend and had an amazing time.

New York is a place like no other.  I don't think I really appreciated that until this visit.  (The only other time I had been there was as a penniless college student, so that was a different experience entirely.)  The energy created by that many people – different kinds of people – in one place creates an atmosphere that is wonderful.  I loved it.

We spent a great amount of time just enjoying each others company, without kids or husbands in tow. We ate amazing meals, gawked at a few celebrities, shopped a little, biked central park (succeeded in making it from the bike rental place to the park without becoming Manhattan road kill – bonus!), and went to a Broadway play.

The play is what I want to tell you about.  It was phenomenal, and I cannot get it out of my head.  We saw Once. We didn't do tons of homework and we bought half price tickets two hours before the show in Times Square. And what a happy accident it was that we saw this show.

The play started in the most organic way – as a bar on stage serving cocktails to audience members with what looked like pickup musicians playing stringed instruments.  And then slowly as the audience returned to their seats with drinks in hand, and the musicians assembled a little more cohesively and before you knew it, the play had started.  I was swept off my feet before the first line was delivered.

The music itself filled the theater and I felt completely immersed in it. All the actors played instruments. Set in Dublin, the story was lively and lighthearted at times and melancholy and heartbreaking at other moments.  The music and actors had me completely engrossed.  There was humor that kept things light, but at the core, the story was about love.  Once was a glimpse of the intersecting paths of two people... you'll have to go watch to find out more.

So if you have plans to visit NYC anytime soon, do try and fit this into your schedule. (And don't be afraid so save a few dollars on "partial view" seats.  It turns out the partial view is from the far side of row two.)  If you can't get to the play, look for a copy of the movie.  I watched when I got home, thanks to my friend Laura and it was also wonderful.  I'm a new fan now of Glen Hansard. 

Soon I promise to be back with things that I have actually made... since that was the original point of this blog.  But I just had to tell you about Once.  XO

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Things to remember...

Today I want to share ten simple lessons.

1. If you've lost your glasses, check the top of your head.
2. Keep your elbows off the dinner table.
3. Don't shake an uncapped bottle of salad dressing over new carpet.
4. Do your best to master your native language. Grammar counts.
5. Love your pets, and only let the outdoor pets in the house when dad's not home.
6. Keep learning, it doesn't matter what, just pursue whatever intrigues you.
7. Read good books.
8. See as much of the world as you can.
9. Sing loudly and with conviction just to see your teenage daughters cringe in embarrassment, they'll laugh and love the memory later.
10. Be unfailing in your willingness to love and support the people who mean the most to you (even when they are wrong and hard to love).

Happy birthday mom. I love you.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Apples and Pumpkins

Summer is officially over here.  The leaves are turning, the mornings are decidedly cool and dark and we broke down last week and had to kick the heat on for a few especially cold nights.  And now we are making plans for halloween and thinking about the coming holiday season and shuffling summer clothes into storage and digging out the winter garb.

Halloween is going to be fun this year.  The small fry is two and she is infinitely more interested in carving pumpkins, dressing up and (last, but certainly not least) candy.

It's fun too see the whole family get enthusiastic about holidays again with these little people to share them with.  This summer my mom planted half  a dozen pumpkin seeds in her herb garden.  In short order it became a pumpkin garden.  We spent a weekend at the farm a bit ago and the kiddos spent some time scouting ripe pumpkins and ordering my dad to cut and pass them out into the lawn. They are perfect, just waiting for funky faces to be carved into them.  We brought home seven of them and I think the total crop will yield around 30.  And all from a little envelope with half a dozen seeds in it.  How fun!

Halloween, here we come.

We're going to wait a week or so to cut into these beauties.  Their shelf life is seriously shortened once their carved.  And I've been successful to date from keeping our voracious city squirrels from chewing holes in them.

In the meantime, I have done a little fall baking and  I wanted to share the recipe.  It's got to be the world's most simple and unpretentious cake recipe and it's perfect for fall.  It was given to me by a friend, and I don't know the original source, but it's probably one of those tried and true recipe that is eons old.  I hope you enjoy it.

Fresh Apple Cake

4 cups apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup oil

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Spread (the fairly thick) batter evenly into an ungreased 13" x 9" pan.  Bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes.

Happy fall, friends.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Retrospective - Vertical Garter Jacket

I'm going back in time a bit with this project.  I knit this little sweater in 2010. 

Finished knitting just waiting for a wearer...

I was a brand new mom at the time.  Our girl arrived on the scene early - not just a little early - and we spent a considerable amount of time as a fledgling family in the NICU.  While she slept and grew and learned to breathe, I watched and hoped and worried and knit. It turns out there is isn't a lot to "do" when you are in that spot, so I kept my hands and mind a little preoccupied to keep my imagination from running to it's darkest corners.

And in the end this sweater and few others were turned out.  The small fry turned out too; more importantly.  She's worn and outgrown most of them... but this one just fits this fall.

Busy rearranging the doll house

It's a very nice little jacket.  It is knit out of fingering weight yarn (Louet Gems) and the resulting fabric is relatively fine.  The garter stitch creates a little more weight and give than stockinette would have which makes it warmer and free moving.  And although at the time I thought that the sleeves were going to be too long, it turned out that they are perfect.  It did take what seemed like forever to finish, and I remember wishing that I was a faster knitter, but it was worth it in the end.

The only modification I made was post-knitting.  I added two rows of tiny elastic around the neck.  The neckline kept growing and growing and the small fry is a little too young to pull off the exposed shoulder look.  It's worn fairly well.  The only thing that I have noticed is a little damage on the hems.  The ends of the knitted rows seem to be a bit more fragile than the edge of a cast-on or bound-off hem. So I see that there might be a little mending in my future.  It could also be that my girl is a little harder on her hand-mades than she used to be.  But that's all as it should be when you're enjoying year two.

Cozy trifecta - fireplace, furry friend, and hand knits.

It feels strangely therapeutic to write now about where this sweater began.  I might just post about the others here too someday.