...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Please Sign the Guest Book!

I was out shopping craft stores in prep for a tea party I'm hosting tomorrow and bought this: a tea ministry guest book.  Wish I'd got a start with it last fall, but I suppose the new year is also a good time to begin a trove of memories.  First entry is appropriately a Valentine's Day tea for my son and his girlfriend.  More tea party talk will fill blank pages after tomorrow's tea for a local prayer group.

Happy memories!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Now Why Didn't I Think of That?

After watching a few days of the winter Olympics, I dare say most knitters are itching to play with a Fair Isle pattern somehow or another.  A pillow, a headband, a single-flower potholder if nothing else. All these Nordic hats and scarves covered with Fair Isle patterns are just too enticing!

So I checked out a book at the library called The Very Easy Guide to Fair Isle Knitting, by Lynne Watterson. I already have a little experience with Fair Isle, but this book had a wonderful collection of patterns--enough to make your head spin. The treasure trove of patterns, however, will not be the biggest take-away from this book for me.  That award goes to the easy fringe lesson in the very back of the book.
I've fringed scarves for years. I cut a single piece to check for size, then use that piece as a guide to cut others. They're all basically the same size, but cutting enough to fringe a scarf or poncho is tedious work.
Then I saw the above illustration.
 Oh my, that would be so quick! Wrap the yarn evenly around a piece of cardboard that is basically the length you want for the fringe, make a complete wrap for each piece of fringe, then simply cut along the bottom.

I'm sure my other fringe-making friends out there are saying, "Well, duh. Of course that's how you make it." But for me, this was revolutionary. My mind simply doesn't go to efficiency of its own accord. I have to be led there. This will mean fringe starts appearing on so much around here!

Happy embellishing!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Berry Muffins

 Are you starting to miss the apples and oranges and bananas from those Christmas fruit baskets now that they've been gone for a while?
If so, it's time to visit the freezer or go to the "freshest" stock available on the produce shelves to get that kick of fruit fiber and vitamin C. I did both for the muffins featured in this post--thawing the blueberries and purchasing the cranberries.
 Berries--fresh or frozen--dress up even the mot basic muffin recipe, like the one from Better Homes and Gardens that's included here:

Basic Muffins
1 egg
3/4 C milk
1/3 C cooking oil
1 3/4 C all purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt

Prepare muffin pan or line with muffin cups and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a small bowl, slightly beat eggs before beating in milk and oil. Set aside. In a larger bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Make a well, and add liquid all at once, mixing. Stir until just lumpy, but don't over-stir. Spoon into prepared muffin cups and bake 20-25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

To this basic recipe you can add:
1 C frozen berries thawed and drained and 2 T sugar or 1 C cranberries (coarsely chopped) and 3/4 C sugar. If desired, add 1/4-1/2 C of chopped walnuts or pecans, too. Stir in gently just before spooning into muffin cups.

Now, to find another basic recipe to embellish, this time one for thawing chicken and a quart of thawing tomatoes...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Arm Knitting

 Forget that co-worker's birthday?
The one who gave you the fabulous gift on YOUR last birthday?
Want to give something that says "I made this for you?" even though you know you hardly have the time to make anything?  Not a problem!

What you see in the above pic is my arm in the first stage of "arm-knitting" a scarf according to a tutorial video found here. The tutorial--posted on the Michaels stores website-- is quick and easy to follow--although I did have to mute the happy little background music. By the third or fourth run through the tune, I was getting nauseated and besides I needed to concentrate on her hand work!
According to friends who are doing this, I should be able to make a nice big cowl scarf in about an hour! Well...of course I rose to that challenge.

By golly, they were right!
One hour later, I'm wearing this new cowl scarf! It's double-wrapped here, but can be worn long like a big strand of swingy-pearls. Never fear! You can make that gift, and in plenty of time! She'll never know you forgot until the very last minute.
What's more, it could be a great project for using up scraps. This scarf is such a loose weave it hardly used much yarn at all!

Happy arm-knitting!