Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Christmas Knitting Plus One

A Younger Nephew Scarf (MI)

No real pattern. Just linen stitch in a lovely yarn, with special cast on and bind off.

For a very dear local pal. The pattern is from IK's Holiday Gifts issue, the Huckleberry 2007.

Found the yarn at the Big E (fair) this year, except for the contrasting yarn, used for the bobbles. That's from stash.

For my friend's husband, who is always cold (a nice Southern boy up North, you know). Bless him, he really does wear & appreciate my knits.

Again, no pattern. To coordinate with a hat and mitts I made for him three years ago for Christmas and his birthday.

Husband Socks. From one of my many vintage pattern booklets. Ca. 1950, I think. Made them yet longer than the "long" version, and in one of my cone yarns, bought when I first began to knit.

Just a simple cable pattern with ribbing. I did tweak the heel turn, as there was an error in the pattern.

Marzipan. For the Husband. He's especially fond of it, and if I make it myself, I know it contains no corn syrup.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

...and it's nearly Christmas Eve

Lots of Christmas knitting was done. Some was jettisoned and replaced by other things, but I made those decisions early on. Still can't post most, but here's one that won't be seen by the recipient, a linen stitch muffler that I made for one of my nephews in Michigan.

I also baked two fruitcakes. One is a gift, to the parents of a French friend, who will be entertaining her family for the holidays. Her father is very partial to English-style fruitcake. The other is for us; I'm turning it into a Christmas Cake. It's just awaiting the royal icing and marzipan decorations. I'll do that tomorrow.

I also have been making cookies (and some candy) like a madwoman. In terms of quantity, probably 60 dozen or more. I know that I've made 14 different batches, and still need to make more. The family and friends who live far away have theirs. So do the neighbors and my husband's barber, but we might have some company on Christmas evening, and we're hosting a small party on Friday...and on the 26th we're going to another, to which I'll be bringing a cake and probably cookies as well.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Knitting for Christmas

It's coming right along. No photos yet, though I'd better pull my socks up, so to speak; last year I kept forgetting to take pictures and now have no record of most of the things I made.

There are already three completed projects--one is blocked and dry; two more are blocking and drying now. I've made an outdoor "ascot", a toque style hat, and a lace cowl. As I took time out to make myself an ascot and a beret, I'm a little behind, but not much.

There are socks, a traditional scarf, and a muffler still in the works, and I found a vintage muffler that will be perfect for one of my MI nephews.

I also started making lists for shopping ingredients: lots of dried fruit, nuts, butter, and all that good stuff...not to mention brandy, for the fruitcakes. The cookie list isn't too long this year, as I don't feel like going as crazy as usual, but I might be doing a bit more in the canning department, as there's not much in the pantry. Very little was managed this year, so I'm thinking a big batch of cranberry marmalade might be good--it's good to eat, colorful, and even properly festive for this time of year.

Does anyone have any favorite quick fixes for making up a shortfall of homemade goodies? If you've got a suggestion, I'd love to hear it!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Yes, it's Early, but We Need A Little Christmas

It's been one helluva year. I don't like to whine if I can help it, especially in "print", so I haven't gone into detail here. Suffice it to say that I have had better years. Many times. And better months than last month, which made me particularly sad, as October is normally my favorite month of the year.

With that in mind, it's Christmas (and Thanksgiving), full ahead, as far as I'm concerned. I went Christmas shopping today. Normally I pick things up here and there all year long, and am always looking, but I don't do official Christmas Shopping until mid-November, usually. By that I mean dedicating an entire outing to just shopping for Christmas gifts.

Today I did, and it was successful; I found things for four people, and materials to make gifts for two more. And at the thrift I stopped into, I found a silk blouse for myself, and some very Shetland-looking acrylic yarn (not normally something to inspire a Happy Dance, but MiL is very allergic to wool, and this stuff is quite pretty). I even found a few boxes of Christmas cards, though not as many as we'll need.

Plans for the baking have commenced. There will definitely be fruitcake, and possibly one will become Christmas Cake. We enjoyed the one I made last year so much that I promised to make another. I don't know if I'll be trying something new this year; I suspect just getting the house in order and possibly coping with another cat will be a lot to handle, so there will be fewer cookies and not many experiments.

I've knitted one gift, and have four more on the needles. Two more are in the planning stages, but they're both quick knits.

Do you think I'm completely mad, or have you done something similar this year?

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Safe from Sandy; No Blue Ribbon

First and foremost, I am happy to say that we personally, at least, got through Hurricane Sandy unscathed. Last year Irene left a lot of damage in her wake, including some beautiful old growth trees, but our part of Providence is in reasonable condition right now. We were exceptionally lucky; we didn't even lose power.

The pumpkin cooking/baking contest went on as planned at Seven Stars Bakery. I didn't win, but I did have a good time! There were some nice folks there, and excellent entries. One of the winners was a pumpkin hummus; also a pumpkin smoothie, and (though they got no prize) I particularly liked a version of lumpia, and a chicken-pumpkin stew.

The cake wasn't entirely consumed, either (pumpkin spice with maple cream cheese frosting), so we've had a few pieces. In fact, I had a piece for breakfast, yesterday. Maybe I'll do the same today...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

An Old-Fashioned Contest

About a month ago we found one of the usual "neighborhood" flyers in the mailbox. We don't always get around to looking at them, as they're often tucked in with shop ads and other unsolicited stuff, but this time I managed to read it.

Later this month (the day before Halloween) there's a neighborhood cooking contest...pumpkin is the theme, and costumes are encouraged. I thought it said "baking contest" and so, I've been perfecting a baked item. It's taken some work, because I'm more inclined to use pumpkin in savory dishes (consider the recipes on the blog--pumpkin soup, pumpkin chili). My husband has been very game, and swears he's not tired of pumpkin yet.

At this point I'm on version #4, and it's good. I'm still working out the bells and whistles, but I think it's a winner, in theory if not in fact.

I'm really looking forward to this event. It's going to be held at a local bakery, a really excellent place for bread, in particular. The judges--no specific names have been mentioned--are said to be local chefs. That would be impressive in most places, but here in Providence, almost intimidating. The food here is spectacular. We have The Dorrance, La Laiterie, Cook & Brown, Chez Pascal, Hemenway's...and many more.

Not so sure about the costume part of things; I'd rather concentrate on the food aspect, though my husband swears that if I show up in my usual 30s style attire, carrying an old-fashioned cake dome, I'll win both.

It's going to be crowded. Seven Stars isn't a big place, in terms of square feet, and it's very popular, with people of all ages. There will be lots of people, including many children, and I'm sure most of them will be on a sugar high already.

I'm looking forward to this. It's going to be fun. With any luck I'll be organized enough to bring the camera so you'll be able to get a look at the (organized?) chaos.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Miscellaneous October: Cats and apples

Let's see...there are still apples, but only a few. I've made applesauce, apple marmalade, an apple-pear crumble with bourbon cream sauce, and had some for breakfast, with yogurt. We've also been snacking on them. We have one Rome left, and a few Cox's Orange Pippins. I made a pie yesterday, and that used up the last of the RI Greenings...they really do make the best pies!

We still have Shadow. I think (and hope) that we'll be keeping him. He's still in seclusion in the guest room, because (a) he was hosting more worms than any robin could ever hope to eat, and  (b) his wound is still healing.

The wound is healing well, and rapidly. It's down to about 25% of the surface area it covered when I found him three weeks ago. It appears that his fur will grow back as well. The puncture wounds were completely closed over with scar tissue 10 days after I found him.

The worms and mites were something else, but not too surprising, considering he was feeding himself a diet of bugs and mice and birds. Today he had his last dose of pill form worm meds. The last liquid dose comes on the 25th. He also got Revolution a few days ago (many parasites, including the mites). In a few more weeks I'll have more lab work done to see if they've all kicked the bucket. He's not getting nose-to-nose with my babies until I know he can't infect them.

On that, I hope they can meet soon. Staying alone most of the day is starting to tell on him.

He was neutered last Wednesday, and (thank God) it had an immediate effect. So far, he has not sprayed since, and he's no longer pulling and banging at the door to try an escape.

Shadow is very bright--he learns quickly and is moderately friendly, but wary. I can't blame him, since he obviously was abandoned, and probably by people who initially treated him with affection. Students, maybe, who decided a tomcat wasn't as cute or easy to deal with as a kitten. It makes me so angry! Animals aren't toys, dammit.

It's been a bit of drain on all of us. The cats (the Siamese brothers, I mean) are settling in. They're pals again, and occasionally I let them sniff at Shadow under the door. Fa Sing usually hisses for a while, but there hasn't been much growling. Shadow chirps, which is a good sign.

We're sleeping through the night again, as Shadow is beginning to acclimate to a day/awake-night/asleep schedule. Bringing him to this means a lot of attention on the part of the people in the house, mainly me, especially during the week.

The cost in dollars has been high, and it's not over yet, but I do hope the worst is over. We are so lucky to be able to do this, though it's not been easy, it's within our budget.

Still, how can you dismiss a domestic animal who shows up at your back door, asking for food and affection and help? I can't; to me it would be wrong.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Mug Shot: Shadow

Shadow, wearing The Cone Of Shame.

This is the stray I rescued last week. The open wounds are not in the pictures, so have no fear you'll have to see them if you take a close look. However, if you know anyone in the Providence, RI area who is missing a grey tom, young (less than two years old, I'd say), please let me know.

He weighed about 7.5 pounds when I found him. As you can see, he has filled out since then. There's a small white locket under his chin, and a good irregular patch of white on the very front of his underside, just below the chest.

He's a good cat. Very intelligent, and under the circumstances, extremely well behaved, though he throws some fits on occasion (trying to get out of the room). He's friendly and likes to be petted and to be in company.

He has his next vet appointment tomorrow, and I hope his surgery can be scheduled. We will keep him if no one else wants to adopt him, supposing (fingers crossed!!) that he will survive--the wounds on his back are severe, but he is otherwise apparently in very good health.

ASAP he'll also be neutered, and will get the rest of his shots. If you live in the area and would be interested in adopting him--NOT to be let outdoors, unless on a harness--please let me know.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Of Storms, and Apple Picking and Rescue

Friday we attended another Chifferobe event, "The Perfect Storm", commemorating the dreadful Hurricane of '38.

Saturday, we went apple picking, and got all heritage varieties this time. Here's something interesting: it was the storm in '38 that makes it so difficult to get those apples now, at least in the northeast of the US. Many of the orchards of the time were badly damaged, and those old  apples take a while to get established and ripen at many different times during the autumn months.

The farmers did much of their re-stocking with MacIntosh apples. Macs are good for applesauce, and fine for eating right after they've been picked. They don't make very good pies, and they have no very distinctive flavor. But they travel well, and of course ripen at the same, "bang!" went the old strains of apple, at least on a commercial scale.

Since moving back to New England eight years ago, I've been fortunate enough to find great apples in the farmers' markets, and even in some of the local stores. The heritage varieties are my favorites--decidedly NOT one size fits all, and sometimes difficult to find. It's worth the search, though.

RI Greenings (ca. 1650) are a great apple--my favorite. They are the best for baking--in a sweet or savory pie, or crumble, they can't be bettered. They're good out-of-hand, at least right after picking, and though I haven't tried them for it yet, apparently excellent for applesauce.

This year we also found Cox's Orange Pippin, a russet/orange apple with a brownish cast. A famous dessert apple. There were some Winesaps, too, and so far I like them very well.

The marmalade and applesauce making got delayed, though. Yesterday a thin, hungry, injured grey cat came up to our back door. I left food and water, and he dined well. He came back today and asked to be petted. He's badly injured--it looks like a dog attack. The fur and skin are ripped away from his lower back, near the tail, and there is a severe puncture wound in front of that.

I coaxed him to me and took the poor creature to the vet today. He was very good, which is especially impressive, as I had to walk, having no car today. Since he's thin and grey, I'm calling him Shadow.

I hope that he'll recover, and that we can find another home for him, but if not, we'll keep him. At the moment, this makes me extremely unpopular with Fa Sing, my blue point (he's the alpha cat here). If he smells Shadow on me (who is being kept in a separate room), he hisses and spits, and he apparently blames the whole thing on his brother (littermate) Than Chai. He hisses at poor Tommy nonstop, and so Tommy hid most of the day and spit at me when I came to talk to him. He has since come out and curled up with me, but he's keeping a sharp watch out for his brother, and I can't say that I blame him!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Late Summer Re-cap: The Art Deco Festival at the Queen Mary I

Oops. I didn't mean to fall off the face of the blog-o-sphere, but life happens. And that's good.

We went on vacation last month! This is no mean feat; it's been about six years since we've managed that, and we enjoyed it to the fullest. It did require quite a bit of advance planning and work on my part, as we went to the Art Deco Festival on the Queen Mary (she who now lives in Longbeach, CA as an hotel).

That meant vintage clothes, and vintage clothes mean mending, tweaking, polishing, ironing, matching outfits, trimming hats, finding gloves, and all the rest of that work. Find my 30s stockings, mending lingerie, sending things to the dry cleaner, and doing a lot of laundering myself took a few weeks, but it was worthwhile.

Being driven to Musso & Frank's by Johnny.

There we are: my husband, his best pal, and me, next to the star of the show, the '37 Buick.

It's a great, comfort food menu! Even Welsh Rarebit (Rabbit).

At the reception before the ball, flanked by Aaron and Raul.

My husband, and Alice, during dinner (at the ball).

Left to right: Mr. Joseph DiPietro (President of the Art Deco Society of CA), me, Dean Mora (of Mora's Modern Rhythmists) and designer Theresa LaQuey (yes, she designed and made her gown).

Taking a break from shopping.

There's always time for a conversation about hats.

Three lunatics.

Two lunatics.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cherry Bounce, Part II

From Mrs. F. A. Hagen, Atlantic St., Plymouth, Mass.

The finished product! It's now resting quietly in the cellar, ready in a few months to come out for a gala occasion.

Here is the recipe I used. There are several "out there", but this is the one that inspired me. It's in the Yankee Cookbook, 1937/1963.
Cherry Bounce

6 pounds cherries (as I couldn't get either wild or sour cherries, I used black cherries)
2 fifths whiskey (Berkshire Mountain Distillery NE Corn Whiskey)
3/4 lb. white sugar (down from one pound, as the cherries were sweet)
1/2 c. water (a gill)

Cherry Bounce, Part I

After four weeks...

Clear liquor poured off to set aside.

Pitted the cherries and cracked them.

Putting the cherries through the food mill.

The cherries. I did try mashing them by hand, but not enough juice was extracted. This was laborious, but it worked well. I also added a tablespoon of the sugar in order to get more juice from the cherries.

Allowing the cherries and pits (in separate jelly bags) to drain. An hour or so.
I went to the trouble of pitting the cherries because I wasn't about to throw out 6 pounds of cherries once the cordial was made! The cherries made a gorgeous black cherry-whiskey jam. I'll likely post the recipe some time soon.

Part II:

1. Pour off the clear liquor; set aside.

2. Pit cherries; add 1 tbl. sugar. Put through food mill. Scoop into jelly bag.

3. Crack pits in mortar and pestal. Place in a different jelly bag.

4. Pits at the bottom of strainer, cherries on top. Allow to drain until most of the liquid seems to be out. Save cherries for jam or other use.

Dissolve the remaining 3/4 pound of sugar in the half cup of water and bring to a boil. Stir in the drained juices and the reserved clear liquor. Bottle and let stand at least several weeks.

Just a little too much to fit into the problem!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

7th Annual Steelyard Cruise Night: 2012

Ruby made her debut last night.

That's me on the running board, knitting a sock.

My first car show as an owner! We had an amazing evening. Everyone was friendly and very helpful, and we got some good tips on polishing her paint (it's original) and other general advice. We saw some spectacular cars. My favorites were a 1956 baby blue Cadillac convertible and a 1902 Packard. One look at the Packard tells you why cars were once referred to as horseless carriages.

One more shot of my baby.

Very steampunk. Looked quite original inside, but loaded with every mod con you could think up.


1956 powder blue Caddie convertible.

Luxurious little touch under the hood!

1902 Packard