31 January 2009

I like big Bundts and I cannot lie

This almond cake is the best kind of cake: a chewy on the inside, crispy-crusted, no-need-for-frosting Bundt. I am going to bring some to our playdate this morning to show off my mad baking skillz.

Almond Cake

Almond Cake

Almond Cake Recipe

I got the idea from Amy and the recipe from the inside of the can of almond "filling." We enjoyed it with strawberries after a dinner of chicken and dumplings. Before supper, I told Bella to sit down for Family Dinner, and she looked at the three bowls of steaming soup and said, "Time for a family smoke!"

Other happenings:
  • Making lists of things we need for Baby. Diapers, formula, nuks....
  • Trying to remember what it's like to sleep with the windows open, listening to frogs and birds while I lie in bed.
  • Working on a little green baby sweater, and kind of not liking it too much.
  • Looking forward to the upcoming Knitting Girls field trip to the Swedish Institute knits exhibit.
  • Thinking I should probably start our taxes.
  • Ironing my yards of fabric for an All-Day Tote.

28 January 2009

Did I not say Squealingly Adorable?

Bella, modeling her new legwarmers for her Hop'n'Tots class.

Ballerina Legwarmers

She is also holding her new bag that we sewed to hold her dancing shoes. She picked out the fabric all by herself--although I did steer her toward the Dora and Diego fabric since I suspected that might be just what she was looking for. She then wanted to clutch the bolt of Dora fabric (fabric: 22" tall, Bella: 35" tall) as we walked around Jo-Ann's. Then the employee at the cutting table asks what she is making and Bella screams, "A SHOE BAG!!!!!" Hilarious. But then, the woman says, "You'll have extra fabric, you should make a placemat." Hello? A placemat? That would need to be washed? I know you're like 100 years old, but seriously. They make stuff called vinyl now and it's awesome. Unfortunately, Bella keeps referring to the placemat we're going to make--she told a couple strangers at the check-out and then informed Brent when we got home.

Oh, back to the legwarmers. They are knit with Rowan's RYC Cashsoft Baby DK in pixie--a yarn I love so much I asked Brent if he liked "Rowan" for a baby name. I just used size 5 double-points and cast on 46 stitches, then worked in K1/P1 rib for about 13 inches. If I was doing it over, I would cast on only about 36 stitches, since by the end of Hopping and Totting, they were bunched up down on her ankles. But at least she can grow into them.

Thanks everyone who has emailed about the furnace and offers of places to stay! We opted to stick it out at our house and cozy up with spaceheaters and the gas fireplace and it worked well. Then we didn't have to worry about pipes freezing or anything. We ended up going about 2.5 days like that, until we were able to have the new furnace all hooked up and running, which they finished up around 1 pm yesterday. After the furnace was all finalized, I took advantage of our cleaned out furnace/laundry room to create a Martha-worthy laundry sorting area. How exciting! A happy ending all around.

25 January 2009

The Gnocchi and the Cracked Heat Exchanger

On Friday, I thought I should probably make a little homemade dinner, since we'd been eating leftover birthday sloppy joes for a week. I was hungry for some nice, hot gnocchi. A little practice for being an Italian Grandmother on a cold winter's day. 

I started by boiling the potatoes whole. Then peeling them fresh out of the water. Then, since I don't have a ricer, I cranked them through the Foley foodmill. 

Making Gnocchi

I kneaded in some flour and salt, rolled it into snakes, and made it into dumplings.

Making Gnocchi

Making Gnocchi

Then I boiled them in small batches. Be sure not to forget to salt the water like I did. Aren't they wonderful looking? Little potato-ey pillows, covered in butter, parmesan, and romano.


It was good we had a heartening dinner... because after tucking Bella in for the night, we heard a SCREEEECH sound--which was quickly followed by a burning smell. Apparently the blower motor dyed in a flash of blazing glory. An emergency furnace guy, stopping over at 11 pm that night, confirmed our suspicions, but also found a cracked heat exchanger and so was unable to get it running again. Something about carbon monoxide. Bah.

We are cozied up by the heat of the fireplace, laptops, space heaters, etc. and are actually keeping quite warm. Which is nice, because when the furnace sales guys come over, it's more convincing to not be shivering and wearing parkas when you tell them you're going to get a few more estimates and don't want to rush into anything.

Here is Bella, imitating Tiny Tim. It's really not that cold in here. We're keeping nice and cozy!

Furnace Out. Bella turns into Tiny Tim.

21 January 2009

A Poem

Bella and I love this poem/song. We do it everywhere and substitute all kinds of words. (Booky book book, ready read read. Knitty knit knit, yarny yarn yarn!) It is so sweet and the rhythm is very calming [you can listen to part of it here for free]. So, in case you need a quiet moment today, here you go.

Grassy Grass Grass (Grow Grow Grow)
recorded by Woody Guthrie

Grassy grass grass
Tree tree tree
Leafy leaf leaf
one-y, two, three!
Birdy bird bird
fly fly fly
Nesty nest nest
High high high
Cloudy cloud cloud
Windy wind wind
Rainy rain rain
Muddy mud mud
Doggie dog dog
Runny run run
Quickie quick quick
Homey home home
Beddy bed bed
Sheety sheet sheet
Sleepy sleep sleep
Dreamy dream dream
Dancey dance dance
Singy sing sing
Grow grow grow
Biggie big big

20 January 2009

Baby Sweater on Two Needles

By this time in my pregnancy with Bella, she had a head-to-toe wardrobe of handknit woolens--booties, leggings, pants, sweaters, hats, mittens.  And what does baby #2 have? Hand-me-downs! I'm only kidding, but just barely. Here is Peanut's first sweater. 

Baby Sweater on Two Needles

Baby Sweater on Two Needles, from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Almanac

I found this pattern to be wonderful. How much do I love Elizabeth Zimmermann? LOTS. The loosey goosey gauge did make me a little nervous at first (her instructions say to use the right size needle to get the right size gauge to make the size sweater you need. Um, thanks, that was super, um, NOT helpful). I was glad I wasn't trying to fit a specific size. And also, thank goodness for Ravelry so I could figure out at least where to start on size. I admit I did have to rewrite the pattern so that it would be easier to follow in my put-down/pick-up world (it is originally written as 3 chatty little paragraphs). And it took me a ridiculously long time to learn the pattern stitch. But then again, I put the milk away in the cupboard the other day, so I would say I'm not exactly firing on all my smarts lately. Talk to me again in a few months when I'm not pregnant. Or wait, I guess I'll be sleep deprived for a couple years. Well, apparently my intelligence has peaked. That's unfortunate.

My current project is so squealingly adorable: tiny Ballerina legwarmers. For Bella (back to knitting for child #1!) for her Hop'n'Tots class. I just scaled the ones I made for myself (from Last Minute Knitted Gifts) way, waaaaaaaay down. And they're adorable. I'll post pics.

16 January 2009

Third Birthday

How cute are birthdays when you're three? So cute. It's all about delivering the news, and not so much about all the accouterments. Telling everyone you see that "I'M THREE NOW!"

But of course we did some accouterments.

Birthday Breakfast

Birthday breakfast of pancakes, pre-daycare.
Me (overly excited): Happy Birthday! I'm making you special Birthday Pancakes!!!
Bella: I don't want pancakes.
Me (crushed): What do you want?
Bella: Pancakes with SYRUP!!

Someone once told me that a three-year-old is just a two-year-old with a better sense of humor. Seems to be true, although I don't personally prefer to joke about pancakes. Some things are just sacred.

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Strawberry cake, as requested. I used this recipe and it turned out very strawberry-y, just as I'd hoped. It also turned out to be nuclear pink, which was a little beyond my expectations, but hey I wasn't complaining.



Cutting the Cake

And the much-anticipated gift opening! She was as thrilled as I had hoped she'd be with her own Dora back pack. She right away stuffed it full (with whatever was handy) and put it on. She didn't want to take it off later to put on pajamas so she ended up wearing it with her pajamas, too. When she wouldn't take it off to sit on the toilet, that's when I knew, FTW.

Back Pack!

Wearing Back Pack

Also, a new train.

New Train

And a new doll.

Birthday Presents

This morning was a little neighborhood party, with 4 kids. Bella was very excited and shouted just before everyone started arriving, "I'm going to SHARE!" Way to pump yourself up, kid.

Blowing out Candles

We did a Dora theme, and the kids played "Pin the Tail on Swiper," which was cute except kids that age are apparently highly traumatized by blindfolds. Next, Swiper swiped all my party napkins and hid them all over (that sneaky fox!) and the kids had to help me find them. They liked that game the best and wanted to play it a bunch of times. Then they had cupcakes and opened presents and tore all over the house like wild animals and filled the toilet with toilet paper. Overall, I think it couldn't have gone better!

What a terrific third birthday!

12 January 2009

The Dora Backpack

The big third birthday approaches. And look who is very excited to be a present!

Dora's Backpack

And map too!

Dora's Backpack: Map

Even a Star Pocket, filled with stars.

Dora's Backpack

I am just tickled at my sew-fu on this project. It is lined with thermolam fleece to make it very sturdy (plus a fabric lining). The flap closes with a velcro tab, which I thought would be easy for little 3 year old fingers. My favorite part was the map! I scanned it in from one of our books and printed it onto colorfast, washable inkjet fabric.

I can't wait to see how Bella will look with it on!

09 January 2009

Time for some baby things

I have two months to go. If you're NOT pregnant, your response is guaranteed to be, "Only two months?" and if you ARE pregnant (or have recently been), you will understand when I say TWOOOOO MONNNNNTHS, WAAAAAAHHHHH !

Because when you're the one who's pregnant, it feels like for.ev.er. And especially forever if you're not feeling great. But I had a really good day today and for the first time in weeks feel like, ok, two months, I can handle that.

So needless to say, we are very excited for the little arrival. We have done some nursery preparations. It looks pretty sweet in there, even if I was too lazy to paint. Here is our new crib, since Bella's got recalled and had to be dismantled and covertly thrown into a University dumpster.

Nursery Peak

And of course, a little knitting.

Toadstool Rattle

A Toadstool Rattle. This little guy has given me some great inspiration for other woodland items for the nursery. But that may have to wait since I have a few other crafty irons in the fire right now (um, have I mentioned I'm sewing an exact replica Dora Backpack?).

Baby Sweater on Two Needles

A baby sweater. I must have been knitting with too many pastels lately, because I am so in love with this olive/eggplant yarn. Fondle-y, goo-ily in love. You could put a baby alligator in this sweater and I am going to want to rock it and hold it and feed it bottles.

The last two months I know will go by quickly. Now that I'm hopefully on the road to feeling better, this calm before the storm can be a time of preparations, anticipation, and excitement. Bring it on!

06 January 2009

Blueberry Muffin Pants

Brent sometimes calls me "Blueberry Muffin Pants," which I think it is a mutation of Strawberry Shortcake, which I never actually make. I occasionally make blueberry muffins, but not often enough to have earned a nickname. I suppose technically I should be "Fruity Chocolate Scone Pants." Anyway, Bella and I made these delicious blueberry-banana muffins today. They were so good right out of the oven. The tops were all crispy. We ate a lot of them, my baby Muffin Pants and me.

Banana Blueberry Muffins

Healthy Banana-Blueberry Muffins
from Everyday Food, January|February 2009

1 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas (about 1 lb)
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup frozen blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 375. Prepare your muffin pans (for me the recipe made 24 baby muffins and 6 regular muffins).

2. Whisk together flours, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt.

3. Cream together butter and sugars with a mixer. Add eggs, beating well after each one.

4. In a separate bowl, mash bananas and stir in milk and vanilla. Add this mixture alternately with flour mixture to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries.

5. Bake about 20 minutes for baby muffins and 24 for regular muffins. We let them cool about 15 minutes out of the pan before sampling. Mmmm!

05 January 2009

Laptop Lunch

I was so super excited to get a new lunch box to take to work. I carefully packed it up this morning and look how cute it is!

Laptop Lunch

It's called a Laptop Lunchbox. It came with a silly little book of lunch ideas, but I had more fun searching on Flickr for bento box lunch pictures for ideas.

This is much better than my scone/coffee/nutrigrain bar "all carbs all the time" lunch that I usually eat. Here's to a new year of fun lunches!

Happy Birthday Sweetie

Black Forest Cake pre-frosting

Family Photo

Black Forest "Spooky" Cake

Ready to blow

Cake and Ice Cream

Bella picked out the ball herself (her present for daddy)

May your new year be filled with all the excitement a giant orange kooshie ball can provide.

03 January 2009

Hello 2009!

Let's greet the new year with a Fashion Show!

Fashion Show

The girls were having so much fun and it was great entertainment for the evening! My cousin Kelly also entertained us by making Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Mmmmm. We placed it on a scale before putting it in the oven: 9.5 lbs. Now that's a pizza.


There are high hopes of this being a new New Year's tradition. I loved the food, the fun, and the not having to stay out until midnight (since it was actually New Year's Day)! Because, yeah, I'm old like that.

Is it time for some New Year's Resolutions? Nah, maybe later.