Monday, October 25, 2010

Socks, Heron Island, etc.

Yesterday was a miserable day, with Dutch weather, i.e., misty rain and gloomy. It was a good day to stay in, knit, and read. We had soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch which I always like on a damp day. I did finish my first sock ever, using pink, purple, and gray striping yarn. In the process I learned that my feet are 8.5" long. The sock fits, but the top is awfully baggy. I have set it aside for now since my dark blue cotton/modal yarn arrived, and I plan to make a vest for myself. Paul saw me working on it and requested one, too, so after I finish it, I guess I'll be looking for a men's pattern and more yarn. So far it is working up very nicely because the yarn, from Knit Picks, is very soft.

In between stitches, I finished reading Heron Island by R. A. Harold who read part of her work-in-progress last summer at the Old Labor Hall. Roberta self-published her mystery which takes place in 1903, partly on a fictional island in Lake Champlain, in rough-and-tumble Barre, and in New York City. She obviously did a great deal of research from her descriptions of South Hero and Grand Isle, the life of the rich and the poor, and the labor movements at that time. I am still unclear about whether the main character, Dade Wyatt, actually works for the Secret Service or for his friend Mr. Dodge, but, at any rate, he is scouting the security of the island in preparation for a visit by President Theodore Roosevelt when a murder occurs. Roberta mixes fictional characters with historical ones, and it is fun to read about the Webbs, Carlo Abate, and even TR. I thought it was a little long, but am looking forward to her book signing in late November at the OLH. I think I'll get a few copies for Christmas presents.

I noticed that Louise Penny recently received several awards for her mysteries, and it's about time. I was taking my time with her latest book, Bury Your Dead, because I wanted to savor it. But as I got toward the last quarter, I just couldn't stop reading. Now comes a long wait, no doubt, for her next Inspector Gamache installment.

And last night's first episode of Sherlock on Masterpiece Mystery was just great! It's a modern telling and has some humorous parts, as the old Sherlock Holmes stories had. I'm looking forward to the next two episodes!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fresh apple cake

This fall I've been experimenting with various apple cake recipes. I made one to take to the Friends' potluck early in Sept. It was the kind with caramel frosting and WAY too sweet. I did a little web search for recipes, but finally ended up adapting the one right on the back of my favorite cookbook The Bakery Lane Soup Bowl Cookbook, published right here in Vermont by two ladies who used to own a great soup restaurant in Middlebury. Everything I make out of this book turns out great. I did add the raisins and a little more spice to the original. Also, I use the apple skin and all. Here's the recipe.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease/flour a 9 x 13" pan.

Mix together:
2 1/3 c. flour
2 c. sugar (a mix of white and brown is nice)
1 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ground cloves

1/2 c. chopped walnuts (or a little more)
1 c. raisins

Grate 3-4 apples, skin and all, to come up with 3 c. apples. (Paula Reds, Macoun, Macintosh are all good)
Mix together 1/2 c. oil and 2 beaten eggs
Alternately add the apples and oil mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix well.

Pour into pan and bake 45-60 min. til done in the middle. Allow to cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Second place ribbon!

Rainbow Sylvia (at right) won a second place ribbon in the bed-sized category at yesterday's Show and Tell at the Green Mountain Quilters Guild meeting. I was really pleased, especially because my friend Elaine's teal Storm at Sea was just as beautiful and won a third place ribbon. The winning bed-sized quilt was black, white, and bright blue - very effective.

It was a good meeting, with 8 vendors who had some wonderful items. I bought a few batik half-yards, some of which I've already cut into FQs to share with my secret pal, and a couple of other pieces of fabric that I will use eventually. They are already in the wash. I also bought some new iron-on tape that can be used to fuse pieces of batting together. I often zig zag pieces to make larger ones, but this should be more stable.

There were two very interesting workshops. Kim talked about making and working with hexagons. She uses template plastic for hers while I have been using double layers of freezer paper. I guess I will give plastic a whirl. She also uses a paper clip to stablize while she bastes the seam allowances. This is a great, simple method I'd never thought of.

Diane told about the many ways to use computers to print onto fabric. She showed us some lovely things, including a beautiful embellished jacket with "cameos" of her mother and a neat quilt of her dog and his favorite items to chase in the yard. I'm going to have to check on what type of ink is in our printer's cartridges and, perhaps, print some sheets and then wash them to see how colorfast the ink really is. I just printed a label onto June Taylor fabric backed with freezer paper and hope it holds up when washed. Hadn't even thought to check.

It was a pleasant day, riding down with Paula through the last of the foliage (more colorful than at "peak"). We caught glimpses of snow on the mountain tops, and she said she had some wet stuff at her house the night before.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A fun time had by all

I forgot my camera every day, but we had fun with Mom even if we didn't record it for posterity. Her plane arrived on time last Saturday but her baggage didn't arrive until Sunday night. Luckily, she could borrow a few essentials, and she is always a good sport anyway. Sunday, we hung around the house and then met Chris for a play in Montpelier. The Complete History of America, Abridged was hilarious, just as we expected - lots of political humor, mayhem, and even some cross-dressing.

Monday, Mom and I headed up to Stowe because the weather was beginning to clear. Most of the other tourists seemed to have the same idea. The Cold Hollow Cider Mill was full, but we did find a few gifties there before heading to the Trapp Family Lodge. Up on top of the mountain, the views were great. We did a little more shopping before going to the Shed, a Stowe institution, for lunch. On the way home we stopped at the Danforth Pewter, Champlain Chocolates, and Cabot Cheese outlets. Mom bought me some lovely earrings.

After all that running around and using our credit cards, I thought Mom would be tired, but on Tuesday she was ready for more. So after a look at the Old Labor Hall and my garden plot, we headed over to Bragg Farm and, later, Morse Farm for maple syrup and other goodies. The ladies at Morse's told me that they had had seven tour buses that day. High season for sure, as people lined up for maple creemies. Chris and Ivy joined us for dinner which was fun.

Wed. it rained, sometimes heavily, so we decided to forego a trip to the St. Gaudens National Park in NH and head to the Porter Music Box Museum in Randolph instead. It was a fun visit and also a good day to end with beef stew in the crock pot.

Thursday was still rainy, but we went out anyway to visit Lauraine and George Warfield over in Weybridge. It started to clear when we arrived, and the foliage was not at peak there. It has peaked here so is a little disappointing. We were pleased to meet the Warfield's granddaughter Anais Mitchell whose rock opera Hadestown we had seen twice in Barre. Paul ws happy to be able to talk to her about singing The Internationale at the Old Labor Hall next May. It was a very pleasant visit, including our tour of Lauraine's quilting room, full of antiques in need of finishing and TLC. People know she's a quilter, so they send her things to fix. Glad they don't do that to me!

Friday, Mom's last day here, we tried to squeeze in all the sights we hadn't taken her to without getting her too tired: the Rock of Ages visitors' center, Hope Cemetery, etc. Cindy, Sandy, and Polly came over for dinnr which was fun, too. I was glad that she was able to meet these friends with whom I have shared so much in the last ten or so years. This morning, Chris drove us to the airport, and we were sorry to see Mom leave. She is so amazingly vital for age 88, so happy to see and do just about anything, and so enthusiastic about life. She is, I think, especially pleased to see Chris growing up so well and to see Paul and me active in our "retirement."