Thursday, March 31, 2011

FO: Marmalade

I finally did the duplicate stitching on Marmalade to complete the argyle hearts!

It is a dim day for photos and it needs a little blocking after being rumpled on my lap while I finished it, but here it is!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Knitting Shopping

I did go for a sunny ride to Sakonnet Purls this afternoon. There are many wondrous yarns there and a lovely shop cat named Lucy. She was assisting at the checkout counter today. They have a large display of buttons that you'd be tempted to buy even if you didn't have something to sew them onto! I was looking for six hearts to embellish my Louisa Harding bag. I think these will do nicely! They are different than the ones shown in the book, but I like to personalize my knitting some.

Also on my list was the spring 2010 Kim Hargreaves book called Misty. I've liked it for almost a year now and I wanted to get it before the new spring book came out. (I am excited to see that one too, hopefully in April. Has anyone seen preview pics yet?) I am going to read through the patterns and decide what to make from it first, but I'm leaning towards Chalk. I think I would go with a dark blue denim color which looked really nice today when I held it up to the new scarf I got yesterday.

I'll go back another day for the yarn. I just stuck to items on my list today, so I have the notions for finishing and the book as a bribe to finish current things!

P.S. My new bunny bowl now contains jelly beans! Yay!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Day Trip

When the days start to grow longer, I get excited about day trips. Today seemed like the perfect day to celebrate spring and Jeff's birthday (which was actually on a busy weekday last week) with a little (1 hour) road trip to Cape Cod.

I haven't really mastered the outstretched arm technique. I was hoping to show off my new haircut, but I'd opened the window which resulted in a hair tornado, so it was really a mess at this point!

We decided to go to the town of Falmouth, find somewhere scenic to walk, browse a lot of the cute shops on Main Street and do a quick look around a village style mall, go out to eat, and see a museum. Being 39 F for a high temp, it was not really a beach day...

It's not the best time of year for a walk in a garden either, but lots of shoots were coming up and there were still pretty, colorful winter berries on some of the shrubs. The nicest thing to see were spring daffs beginning to bloom!

Even though it's the 'off season' there was a lot of shopping potential. (I actually think the off season is the best time to go to the Cape!) Some of my favorite shops of the day were:

Bean and Cod, a gourmet shop that stocks Emma Bridgewater Pottery! (Squeeee!) They didn't have their summer stock ordered yet, so it will be worth another trip later. I bought a couple of melamine cups (in the Black Toast pattern) to carry out to the patio when the weather gets nicer.

Sage, a knitting shop. I was on the lookout for bag handles and Sublime yarn. They had the handles I'd like, but in the wrong color! I am very particular about the yarn I want at the moment for specific projects and I didn't see what I needed. But it was nice to look around and it's a good shop.

Uptown Dog, for some treats to take home to Saffy and Silas. It was a little on the cold side for a truck ride and beach walks, so we left them home this time. Besides, the cat likes the company. They now have a box of gourmet, frosted cookies and a new, special dog frisbee that's soft so it will be easy on their mouths.

It was hard to pick just one restaurant, as we were tempted by Italian and Mexican options, but when we saw The Golden Swan, there was no competition. We love Indian food! I really could eat it every day. We started with the vegetable appetizer platter and went through generous amounts of chutneys and then, for main course we had curries with onion kulcha. So yummy! I had no room left for gulab yamun :(

We decided to check out the Cahoon Art Museum and had no idea what to expect. Well, Mr. Cahoon had a 'thing' for mermaids...or, one wonders, if it was a 'thing' for topless ladies?! He collected items with Mermaids like these iron fence sections set into a wall in the yard.

He also painted them. A LOT. His wife painted some rather nice primitives which were also on display. I thought the mermaids were a bit odd (mainly because of the sheer number of paintings of them!), but I have to share two of the images with you. Look here, at the "Cape Knitting Co."!! This is quite the knitting group!

I think they are all knitting flipper cozies! I had such a giggle over these and thought some of my fellow knitters would enjoy them too ;)

There was a room with some 19th century pastorals that were quite nice, a show by a contemporary artist and a show of Cape Cod pottery that included some interesting gourd shaped pieces. I think the house itself, dating from 1775, interested me the most. It was a little sagging, had a number of little stairways and some gorgeous old fireplaces. The kitchen one still had its brick oven. There were some original stencils in the front hall. The windows had lovely old wavy glass.

After all these places, I was so ready for a stop at Starbucks for my bucket of a latte. It was located in the Mashpee Commons shopping village, so I went in The Gap and Williams Sonoma since they were right there in front of me. At The Gap, I was wandering around and spied a glass vase in the center of a display. It had some interesting fabric in it. Jeff said I looked like some bird with a prize worm, leaning across the wide, low display counter and pulling this fabric out of the vase. It turned out to be a sort of tie dyed scarf, which I loved! I think I'd seen it awhile ago in a magazine and filed it away as something I might want, but didn't commit to finding. When the check out girl looked at it she said she didn't even know they had it, so I'm wondering how long it's sat there stuffed in a vase?! While I waited in the checkout line, a new pair of sunglasses jumped into my hands too ;)

From there, I went to Williams Sonoma and it is a giant version of Williams Sonoma--I was in heaven! They have so much new stock, but I 'just' got an Easter Bunny dish, a spice rub and some cupcake papers. Here's a pic that also shows the new EB cups.

From there, we headed for home. I was considering stopping at Sakonnet Purls, but I think they close pretty early, so I decided to save that shop for another day. Maybe tomorrow, or next weekend! It's pretty close by.

It was such a nice day out. I feel quite refreshed and happy after a change of scenery and I love all my little mementos of the day!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jamie's Cauliflower Soup

What is better than cauliflower and cheese? Not much =)

This is a soup from Jamie's Food Revolution Cookbook. It's really simple and fast to make and satisfying to eat. The cheese is a big part of the flavor, so pick one you love. This time I used a Vermont White Cheddar. It was hard not to snack on a sizable amount of what I was meant to be grating! I also had some imported cheddar in the fridge, but I thought it tasted overwhelming. I rarely don't love a cheese, but honestly, I think Saffy and Silas are going to luck out and get some cheesy treats. They live for stinky cheese!

The recipe is online here, so you don't need the book, but it is a good book to have!

Btw, if you are cutting calories or not into that much cheese, I tasted the soup before I added the cheese and thought it was delicious just like that.

Edited to add: Add in some cooked macaroni or gemelli and you get what I'm calling 'souped up mac and cheese'...I'm loving using up the soup leftovers!

Monday, March 21, 2011

New England Weather!

There is snow falling on the peas today. Can you believe we were wearing t-shirts yesterday?!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Welcome Spring!

Well, today was the end of winter and start of spring and we celebrated with yard and garden work! We had a fire and a sacrifice(!) for the earth goddess. But more about that in a bit...

I checked on the indoor seeds first thing today. I was excited to see that the romaine is up, so the others won't be long now.

I spent most of the day outside. I did a bunch of raking around the patio and two raised beds. There were a lot of leaves since the Japanese Maple hung onto them so long last season that we never did rake them up in the fall. The herb bed doesn't look like much as there was a lot of winter kill and the green shoots coming back are very short so far. There is some chamomile, parsley, oregano, thyme, sage, lavender and tiny sweet strawberries alive at the moment, but more will come up and I'll fill in any of the holes with seedlings later on. The rosemary, for example, will be replaced as it died. Soon, I will top dress all this area with bark mulch which will neaten it up a lot.

I put all the leaves in the big compost bin to rot into nice soil. I moved all the large bits of compost from the smaller bin to the big bin and spread the new soil out on the garden. As I lifted up the bin at the end, a large rodent shot out of the dirt! I shrieked and pointed and Jeff let go of the tiller and took off after the beast and stomped on it...hence the sacrifice part of the story. We must have looked quite a sight. After he finished it off, I was hugging and kissing him with happiness that a garden pest was dealt with! Normally, I have a very 'live and let live attitude', but NOT in my garden concerning pests! Thankfully I got the bin contents dug around and they are not a happy home for anything now.

Jeff spread lime and fertilizer on the garden and burnt one of the brush piles.

We are excited when the tiller starts on the first try in spring! Then we stand and look at it while it runs for a few minutes to warm up. That's the ritual.

After the preparations were done, we were ready to plant the peas. Here are the packets showing the varieties we are using this year.

Furrows were hoed.

Saffy, looking very Eyore-ish here. She didn't like the chicken wire that was spread on the ground in front of her. She prefers to be right at ones heels while work is getting done. We have to be careful not to step back onto a paw!

Saffy posed by the peas when we finished planting and putting up the support fences.

Since she was such a big help she got lots of tummy rubs...

and face rubs...

Silas mainly just wanted to try to chew the handle off the red ball. He had one of his seizures yesterday and it was pretty bad, but you can see he is fine today. Fortunately they are pretty rare, not too long and he recovers quickly after. Saffy was a good girl yesterday and barked to let me know something was wrong, so I was able to go help steady Silas.

It's a little too early to fill it with water, but we did get the doggie pool out of the barn. We'll have to clean it up a little, but you can see Saffy is excited already!

It felt really good to be outside in the sunshine and not totally covered up in warm layers. We will probably be tired and a little sore over the next few days as we are not used to raking and things. It was good to get a hot shower when I got done. And, it sure made us hungry, so I made up a big dinner of chicken with tarragon mustard cream sauce, rice pilaf and green beans.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I couldn't wait any longer...

it was time for a BBQ! I've had such a craving for it, even if the food was in danger of going cold between the grill and coming in the house. What a good way to celebrate a random Friday night in March!

I decided to try a new-to-me sauce from the Jamie At Home book. It filled the kitchen with a wonderful aroma. (The video that goes with this recipe is online. The bbq sauce recipe starts at about 5:46.)

Vegetarians, avert your eyes, this was definitely going on meat. I butterflied a whole chicken and got sauce into every cranny.

Although it cooked in the oven, Jeff had the job of doing the finishing touches on the grill, crisping/blackening the skin and glazing it with more sauce and drippings.

The cat positioned himself strategically in the doorway and elevated on a box with a good line of sight to the grill. He loves grillings!

The dogs were looking very sorry for themselves in the kennel, out of reach of the grill. Today was the first day this year warm enough for them to spend hours at a time outside. They were very excited about it.

To go along with the chicken, I made up a batch of boiled new potatoes with buttermilk ranch dressing, a recipe I love from the March issue of Everyday Food Magazine. For a bit of green, we had string beans which are also incredible with the ranch dressing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Start to the Indoor Seed Sowing

It doesn't look like much yet, but today I planted 3 trays with tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and some romaine lettuce. They are set on heat mats. I'll be lowering the lights to just above the plastic covers. My lights are suspended by little chains and 's' hooks, so it's easy to adjust them.

This tray is mostly tomatoes, some eggplants and a little romaine.

The tray to the back is all tomatoes. The tray in the foreground is all peppers.

After the shoots come up, I will prick them out and transplant them to individual containers.

I'll keep pottering away and start some cabbage, herbs and flowers too. When I'm not sowing, I can start filling pots with soil in preparation for potting on and for starting seeds outside in the cold frame. And, I have more milk jugs ready to turn into 'mini greenhouses' too.

I am so looking forward to the growing season. I hope we have good weather for it, so all these varieties thrive and provide us with amazing food!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An Almost Spring Beach Walk

With the temps around 40 F and the sun shining brightly, the dogs and I walked to the beach today. It felt so good to get some proper, outdoors exercise! When we got to the beach, the dogs couldn't wait to get over the boardwalk to the sand and surf.

Some serious construction work has changed the view recently...see the giant cooling towers?!

Saffy and Silas mugging for the camera.

They didn't want to sit for long. See all the dog tracks on the beach? There were lots of trails to sniff and explore.

The beach profile is still very wintry looking.

The dogs cooled (froze?) their toes. It probably felt good after all the walking.

But they didn't go in like they do in summer!

Mostly, they walked next to the water.

After playing on the beach, we headed for home. First, we had to trek up the hill from the water. I was glad not to be on my bike! I think I'd have passed out about here: