Knitting

A Year From My Window

A year ago I began a project to take a photograph each day from my dining room window. I had no idea why this came to me but the urge to do it was powerful. I am not a terribly organized or disciplined person. I tend to get attracted by ideas and then lose them when the next sparkly one comes along. But I wanted to do this project. On January 1, right after I got up, I took the first photo. And day after day, just aiming at one day at a time, I did it. And this morning at 8:14 I took photo #366 and completed the year.

There is much to be learned from looking through that one frame every day for a year.  Nature provides us with beautiful, but ignored color palettes that emerge as I see them from one day to the next. The subtle pink in an otherwise grey sky. The riot of greens in the spring. The blues of the snow. My eye learned to see more than I saw before. This was a project with no object in mind -- no thought of what I could do with it. And maybe that is a big part of why is has yielded so much. Surprises never come when we look for them.

Food By Mom -- A Pair of Dips

With New Year's Eve coming up and entertaining going on -- though not this year at my house -- I thought this might be a good time to post a couple of easy to make and really good dip recipes.

First up -- Sardine Spread. My former mother-in-law was not a really creative cook but there are a couple of recipes I got from her that have become staples in my files. Now sardine spread doesn't sound wonderful to a lot of people but even fish haters tend to like it -- just don't tell them what's in it until after they try it!


1 can sardines, drained -- use the small brisling sardines packed in olive oil or water; I get Crown Prince brand from Norway. 

1 3 oz. package cream cheese

1 tablespoon lemon juice

a dash of Tabasco sauce


Mash the sardines up with lemon juice and tabasco sauce then blend with cream cheese. This can be done by hand with a fork, mashing it all together, or in a food processor. When it is all blended and smooth, put in a small bowl and serve with raw veggies or crackers. This recipe  is easily doubled.

There was a lot of it

How much snow did we get? Somewhere around 17 inches, a record for a Dec. 21 storm. The drifts were impressive

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It was cold and during the night Sunday night we had thundersnow!

We used the time we were snowbound to get the tree decorated. How is that every year we have the prettiest tree ever? But we do.

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And a few of the ornaments --

                  

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Tomorrow my kids will be coming for dinner -- so between now and then there is much cooking to do. 

I hope you and yours have a joyous Christmas.


Let It Snow...

Big storm today, our first really big one of the season. The day started with a classic red sky at morning(sailor take warning) --

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The birds started feeding 

                   


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Then around 1 pm it started and the sledders rejoiced 

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Spike adores bird watching--

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Moe is printer watching -

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We are warm and cozy, Christmas cookies are baking so let it snow! We're looking for something in the neighborhood of 12-18" from this storm.

Food By Mom -- Sausage Cheese Balls

I got this recipe from an online community a number of years ago. We have made a few changes, such as sautéing the sausage -- we found that mixing it in the dough raw made them a bit greasy. We use the sharpest cheddar we can get. These never last very long in our house.

3½ cups Bisquick  -- yes, the stuff in the yellow box

1 lb. HOT ground sausage  -- we use Jimmy Dean's

1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 

½ cup water, warm 

[Ground red pepper, tabasco]  

Cook sausage in a fry pan, breaking it into the smallest possible pieces as it cooks. It just needs to brown, not cook all the way through. Let cool after draining off excess fat.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. The dough will be very thick and needs to be worked by hand. 

Next form the balls by hand-- ¾ - 1 inch balls work best. Place on cookie sheet.  They can be squeezed pretty close together on the pan.   

Cook at 350 for 20 minutes. 

Can be made ahead of time and frozen.

Yields: 72 balls

Ugh!

You know what sucks? Getting a cold just before a big holiday, that's what. And I am at the beginning of one. Which I got from my husband. I think I will scream if I lose my sense of taste with this. It's just unfair to have that to deal with on top of the coughing and sneezing and nose blowing.

So this afternoon I stayed home instead of going to my knitting group. Every place else in the northeast is getting snow, but it is just gray and cold here -- 14F, wind chill -2F now. We're supposed to get significant snow on Sunday. Which will do nicely.

I have started another slouchy beret. For some reason I am obsessed with finding just the right pattern. This one, February Beret, I am knitting using 2 strands of Colourmart cashmere/silk. I am heartbroken that Richard will not have more of this yarn because it is the softest and most wonderful stuff! I am using 2.75 mm needle and I think I am going to love it. 

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Moe is spending the day on my lap, keeping me warm --


                        

Lace everywhere

This morning it is bright and sunny and white --

                        

We have a couple of old windows in the house that weren't replaced when the rest were -- I keep expecting the landlord will remember this and finish but so far, no luck. Anyway, on winter mornings there is often frost on them. And this morning, for a little while until I turned up the heat, it was spectacular -- nature's lace.

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It looks a little like ostrich plume, don't you think?

Can you tell I am trying to cover up for not having much progress on my gazillion projects to show you??

Yay!

It's snowing!


                  


Happy Days

My beloved MacBook returned home today after brain surgery. I am happy to report a full recovery and that happiness again reigns in our household. Sharing a laptop is not a boon to long-term marital happiness!

Yesterday we drove down to Portland so I could visit my friend Pauline, she of the Etsy jewelry shop, Sirona. I thought I would use the time in the car to wind a skein of Schaeffer Anne I have had for quite a while. What a f^%$^&#@ disaster! It was the most horribly tangled skein I have ever had. I spent 3 hours last night trying to wind it and this is what I ended up with --

                    

I think I will cut it into little pieces and put it out for the birds to use building nests in the spring. Because no way I am going to try again with it. I love this sock yarn -- it wears better than any I have tried, so I will be getting more.

The tree is up but not yet decorated. When we went out a week ago we didn't see anything we liked, so I took a leap of faith and decided my husband could be trusted to pick one out. Now this is a bigger leap than it might seem because I am very picky about Christmas trees -- my dad drilled this into me when I was a child because he had sold Christmas trees for a number of years before I was born. And one year when I entrusted this tricky task to my first husband -- well, I had to send him bak out three times before he got a good one. I am happy to report that MrSweety did a great job as you can see --

After the storm

Unlike lots of places in southern Maine, NH, and Massachusetts, our ice is gone from the trees and bushes here. The temperature went up to 54F here yesterday afternoon and that took care of the ice! Today dawned cold and crystal clear

                    Dec. 13

and tonight there is a glorious full moon, but there was an event down at the Boathouse just as the moon rose over the bay and all the lights made it impossible for me to get a really good photo.

I am working away on my sweaters --

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I know I will not finish them for this year but that's okay. I will soon be giving attention again to Snowy Peacock and finishing up Eves Temptations. And an idea is forming for the next one, using silver gray silk with pearl beads and maybe some Swarovski beads. The way the ice looked yesterday and the way snow sparkles in moonlight made me think of it. But they are a long ways away.

If you like beautiful jewelry -- and who doesn't? -- be sure to visit my friend Pauline's Etsy shop, Sirona Jewelry.

Food By Mom -- Cheese Wafers

Whenever I make these, everyone gobbles them up. Including me! It's another recipe I  found more than 30 years ago and the source is long gone.

1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1 stick of butter

1 1/4 C flour

1/8 tsp dry mustard (optional)

1/8 tsp. paprika (optional)


Combine all ingredients and work until smooth. I use my heavy-duty Kitchenaid mixer. Shape into roll and wrap in waxed paper. Chill well. Slice thinly as for refrigerator cookies and place on buttered cookie sheets. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.


I have varied the amount of flour vs butter and cheese -- using less flour to reduce carbs and they turn out fine. It is also fine to use more cheese. Don't be afraid to play around with the amounts. Whatever you do will taste great!

For cheese, we use Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar because we like a really sharp cheddar flavor. 

I'll be making lots of these for Christmas.


A funny thing happened on my way to post

There I was Wednesday morning all set to make a post when my cursor froze. Now that has happened before so I tried to do a forced quit -- I am speaking Mac-ese here -- but that didn't help. So I used the power button to turn it off, figuring that rebooting would solve everything. And in a curious way it did, just not the way I expected. Because when I tried to start up again it stuck at the very beginning and just played the start up chime again and again. Now in days gone by -- I have been using Macs for 24 years now -- when something went seriously awry like this the sound you got was called the Chimes of Death. My Macbook is under Applecare -- and, boys and girls, if you have a laptop, this kind of extended warranty is worth every penny. So after a lovely conversation with the tech at Apple, who worked with me in the vain hope that it was something simple and fixable by us, the decision was that my Macbook had to fly back home to the mothership in California. And that was fine because I could use my husband's Macbook. Except for one little thing -- I needed some data off my hard drive. So off he went in the sleet this morning to take my sick computer to the Mac guy in Camden so he could get the data off said sick puppy. Then he sent it off to California. And here I am using my sainted husband's computer just as if it were mine. :-)

Lace but not so much

I said a little while ago that I have begun a couple of sweaters, which have lace in them but I don't think of them as lace. Knitting with heavier yarn on larger needles is harder on my hands and arms than my favored cobweb weight and small needles.

Both sweater are from Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2008 issue -- lots to like in this issue, I think. First is the Lace and Rib cardigan, which I am knitting with DK extrafine merino from Colourmart. I am knitting it on 4.0 mm needles. Love love love the color!

                          

The second is the Lace Coat, which I am shortening to ordinary cardigan length. I am using 2 strands of lace weight silk/wool from Colourmart. The photo is not great because the light is just so bright today, but you can get an idea of it. This is being knit on 3.5 mm needles.

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It's been more than a year since I last knit a sweater and it is kind of nice to be doing so again. Someone asked me if I always knit for myself and I have to say that usually what I knit is for me -- because I know I will like it, wear it and not be impatient for it to be finished. That said, I did agree to knit a sweater for my husband because the cardigan I knit for him 9 years ago finally wore out. Men's sweaters are a bit of a pain to me -- bigger and less interesting than women's. But he wants one and I like making him happy so he'll get one.

Food By Mom -- Ginger-Rum cookies

Less than 3 weeks now until Christmas -- time to think about baking. Now I always have grand ideas about all the cookies I am going to make, but I never end up making all of them. Because frankly I find cookie making to be boring. I kind of enjoy making the dough, but it is the actual shaping of the cookies and the baking of them that I don't like. But my lovely husband doesn't mind that part so we make a good tam and any year now, we will actually make all the kinds we think we want.

Here is another of those recipes I found somewhere years ago, who knows where. They are the favorite of my best friend, Pauline.

Ginger-Rum Sandwich Cookies

2 C flour 


⅔ C granulated sugar
 

1½ tsp. ground ginger 


¼ tsp salt
 

½ C cold butter, cut into 8 pieces 


½ C sour cream
 

1 egg white beaten with 2 tsp water for glaze  


Ginger-rum buttercream: 

1½ C  butter softened 

2-3 tsp. minced crystallized ginger 


3 C powdered sugar 

3 T. dark rum


Preheat oven to 350? . 

Grease 3 large baking sheets. 


In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, ginger and sale. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs ( I use my food processor). Add sour cream and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. 

It's in the air...

Though it is all gone today, yesterday there was a dusting of snow on the ground when I got up --

                   

so Christmas is in the air. We're going to get our tree on Saturday. So this seems a good time for the Christmas meme that is going around.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? 
Wrapping paper. I don't make fancy bows like I used to though.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Real! I live in Maine, after all.

3. When do you put up the tree? 
It varies, but soon after we get it. Probably Saturday the 6th this year. Or maybe Sunday or Monday. 

4. When do you take the tree down? 
Sometime between New Year's and Epiphany.

5. Do you like eggnog? 
No. My mother used to make it, sans alcohol, as a way to get me to eat eggs. I wasn't fooled and developed a deep aversion to the taste.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? 
Madame Alexander Jo, from Little Women, doll.

7. Hardest person to buy for? My son-in-law

8. Easiest person to buy for?
My husband

9. Do you have a nativity scene? 
We used to when the kids were small but it disappeared somewhere along the line. We're not religious so I'm not sure why we had one in the first place.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.