Almost There

cake, apple cake, fall

Apple Butter Spice Cake with Cream Cheese frosting. Somewhat similar to last year’s cupcakes.

It’s hard to believe that in less than a week the Bear will be 2. Having kids does make the world spin a little faster…ok, a lot faster. He’s so fun right now though, I wish we could slow things down just a little bit. The twos really aren’t that terrible as most would have you believe. I’m pretty sure the people who say that have never had close dealings with a three year old. Having two older nephews has really informed my experience with my own son. Even though he’s en entirely different person, and the feelings are so different because he’s mine, I’m glad that I was able experience a facsimile of child rearing before diving in on my own. From experience I can say that three when the personality and sass really shine through. We’re ready, though. We’re ready for the Bear to continue to grow and learn and refuse to eat vegetables. We’re ready for him to teach us things while we teach him numbers and letters, shapes and colors, and manners and patience.

My dad and stepmom stopped by for a quick visit this past weekend so we had a celebration where I successfully made my first meatloaf. We also enjoyed some apple cake and Bear received several Eric Carle books and some other presents. I think my favorite was the little baseball glove since now he runs around with it shouting, “I got it! I got it!”

Mama, I don't know about this cake, but the frosting is awesome

Mama, I don’t know about this cake, but the frosting is awesome

Books!

Books!

Is this heaven? Do I need a haircut?

Is this heaven? Do I need a haircut?

How does this work?

How does this work?

I GOT IT!

I GOT IT!

Story time with Pop

Story time with Pop

Advertisements

A Hat for Bear

P1020807It’s hard to believe that the Bear will be 2 in a little over two weeks. This time last year he couldn’t even walk without help, now he’s running laps around me as I type. He’s even (mostly) moved out of his crib and is managing not to fall out of the twin size bed we put together last weekend. I know, I know, they grow so fast. But really, they do. Watching a child grow from a helpless lump to an opinionated person with their own wants, likes, and dislikes is fascinating. Not only because you well with pride when they triumph, but you think about the small and big challenges in your life that you had to tackle and overcome to get to this point. If you told me 3 years ago I would be here with a toddler and another baby on the way, I would have laughed. I would have thought it some impossible dream that I’d given up years before.

How did I get here? In the end it’s really pretty simple. DB was coming back to the east coast for a visit after his first deployment. We were only acquaintances, but I knew I wanted to see him again so I invited him to stop down in Philly for a visit since he’d be relatively close…the rest is history.  We were married a few months later, welcomed the Bear into our life shortly after that and we haven’t looked back since. Much like the Bear takes a leap of faith every time he tries to walk down the stairs by himself, or jump, or climb the jungle gym in the park, DB and I took a leap of faith in each other and it’s made our lives so much better.P1020798

Like all new families we are still establishing our traditions. One of my favorites is making new hats for everyone when falls rolls around. I knit this one during some unseasonably warm days in the hopes that it cooler weather would be close behind. I’m happy to report we’ve been waking up to a cool house, wearing pants and long sleeve tops, and seeing far few houseflies flooding in whenever we open a door. Life is good.P1020797

The pattern is Kim’s Hats from Last Minute Knitted Gifts (which according to Amazon, I purchased in October of 2005). It’s my favorite basic hat pattern, easy, quick, endlessly adaptable. I used leftover Shelter from Brooklyn Tweed in the Tent color way. It was leftover from a hat I knit for Bear’s Grampy last Christmas. The brown is from some rogue skein of Lorna’s Laces that I’d mistakenly received as part of a larger order many years ago (like when I first started knitting). So I think it’s fitting that he will now coordinate with his Grampy, but also have a little piece of my knitting past as a symbol of how far we’ve both come.P1020796

Raveled here.

Hope you’re all enjoying cooler weather.

xo, S.

Sunday Breakfast

I don’t know what your ideal Sunday looks like, but mine includes watching drinking coffee, watching Sunday Morning, a little knitting, reading the Sunday New York Times, and eating some sort of delicious treat. That’s where these doughnuts come in. I posted them in my Friday roundup, only to realize late Saturday night that I had no powdered sugar on hand. No bother! Instead I consulted this recipe and combined the two. Cinnamon has been a huge craving through this whole pregnancy, and waking up to the first nips of fall in the air demanded it’s spicy sweetness. The brown butter gives added depth and balances out the sugar coating. Besides, Joy and Tracy are great friends, and uniting their recipes is something cooking and baking is all about, sharing, adapting, and enjoying.  Even the Bear, aka pickiest eater ever, enjoyed a few bites.

P1020837

P1020839

The doughnuts are lightly sweet, but the real sweetness comes from the coating. Here are some instructions on how to brown butter. Don’t have buttermilk? Just combine 1/2C whole milk with 1 1/2T distilled white vinegar. Let it sit while you combine the other ingredients and it will be clabbered when it’s time to mix the wet stuff. I browned all the butter at once and divided it.  2T for the doughnuts, and 4T for the coating. You may want to round up to 7T to make sure you have exactly 6T in the end, but I found that to be unnecessary.

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts with Brown Butter (adapted slightly from Joy the Baker and Shutterbean) makes 6

Doughnuts:

1C all purpose flour

3/4t baking powder

1/4t baking soda

1/2t salt

1/2t ground cinnamon

1/4t freshly grated nutmeg

1/3C sugar

1 lg egg

1/2C buttermilk

6T butter, browned and cooled, divided (see note above)

1t vanilla extract

Coating:

1/2C sugar

1t cinnamon

1) Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Lightly grease a 6 doughnut pan.

2) In a small pot brown all the butter and allow to cool slightly.

3) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. Set aside.

4) Whisk together egg, buttermilk, vanilla, and 2T of the browned butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined.

5) Fill the doughnut pan with the batter (I just use a regular spoon for this). You want the well to be about 3/4 full.

6) While the doughnuts bake, whisk together cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.

7) Bake doughnuts for 10-12 min. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan a few minutes before removing. Once out of the pan brush remainder of butter on doughnuts and coat with cinnamon sugar mixture.

8) Enjoy warm.

P1020845

Friday Favorites

P1020776This was a big kitchen week. Jams and chutneys, grilled chickens, pies, and one night where I just couldn’t take being in the kitchen and we ordered Chinese. Now that the weekend is here I’m totally behind on things like cleaning and laundry, but eating is way more important than those things. Especially eating pie. I hope your weekend is full of cool weather and delicious things.

As a lover of all things plaid, this post was right up my alley.

I think we could DIY this for our entryway, we are in desperate need of a landing zone.

I’m loving the longer skirt lengths featured on the spring runways at NYFW, this is one of my favorite looks from Creatures of the Wind.

We are having these for Sunday breakfast….maybe Saturday. I’m not sure how long I can wait really.

I’m totally in apple mode right now. I want to make this and this and this!

Brooklyn Tweed released their fall pattern collection and I want to make EVERYTHING. Especially this hat and this sweater.

xo, S.

Adventures in Jam

P1020791Last year I bought lots of berries at the farmers’ market and made a few different jams only to throw them all out when we moved. By throw out I mean pry solid masses of pureed sugary fruit from the jar, an act that was both frustrating and liberating. Washington had a very dry summer last year so the fruit lacked water, compounded with my lack of skill and experience I was doomed from the start it seemed. Kitchen failures, they happen to us all.  So while I was frustrated by the solid mass of fruit that could’ve substituted for industrial strength bonding agent, I was ok with saying goodbye to it and moving on. One of my goals this year was to become a more diverse canner. I wanted to move beyond jams and cucumber pickles and try out new recipes and methods.

So while I went on to make marmalades, fruit butters, salsas, fruit pickles, and double batches of cucumber pickles, I found myself still shying away from jams. After all, they are temperamental beasts, but also berries are stinking expensive around here, and farmers only seems to sell them in small quantities. But let’s remember, I want to be a more diverse canner, so berries might not be the direction I want to take this year. Instead, I was really excited to find some slightly bruised tomatoes for a steal last week and quickly snatched up 5 lbs. The tomato jam from Marisa McClellan’s book Food in Jars, has always sounded appealing to me. Sweet, savory, with a bit of heat, it sounded like something right up DB’s and my alley.

P1020786

My tomatoes were extra watery, it actually took me about 4 hours to get them to cook down to a jam like consistency instead of the two recommended in the book. I also only got half the recipe’s yield, 2 pints instead of 4 (which is plenty for us). The important thing here was even when I could see that things were coming out exactly as written I was able to identify the issue and continue on. It took a while, but eventually the jam went from bright, summery red to a gorgeous dark burgundy. The ginger, cinnamon, and cloves made the house smell heavenly so I was kind of ok with the extra cooking time. Last year I probably would’ve hoped the jam would set in the jar, canned in too early, and had 4 jars of runny mess. I’m proud of my patience (even though it totally cut into nap time). After conquering this jam, I can confidently check off meeting my canning goal from the list this year. Over the next year I want to experiment more and start coming up with my own concoctions.

P1020789

Have you learned from any kitchen fails recently?

xo, S.

Magazine File Makeover

I don’t know about you guys, but I still really love reading magazines. I haven’t even gotten through all my September issues yet even though the October ones will be out in a couple weeks. And when I say magazines I’m talking print because I don’t have a tablet or the patience to sit in front of this screen and flip through virtual pages. I like to hang out on my couch on a Sunday morning with a coffee and something sweet and while my way through the pages until the Bear demands we read Put Me in the Zoo for the 900th time.

P1020738

What I don’t like is the clutter that comes with having magazines piling up month after month. I usually go through and clip the recipes, diys, and other miscellany that I want to keep and wrangle those in plastic sheet protectors and binders (which is another post for another day because those are SUPER disorganized right now). The others I send off to friends. The leftovers get a hot date to the recycle bin. Still, even with my meticulous weeding there are some titles that I keep in tact and when we moved I wanted to liberate them from the bottoms of drawers and baskets and give them all a proper home. I started off at Target and bought 3 magazine files only to come home and find we still needed more. The next day we stopped by Goodwill and scored these guys for $1.50 a piece. I liked the plain wood, but I wanted to give them a little something extra.

Armed with some Martha Stewart craft paint in School Bus and Rose Copper and a roll of painters tape I set off to spruce up my files. I kept things super simple here. The lines aren’t the same size nor are they exactly straight. I painted part of the inside but not all the way down since no one’s really gonna see that. I’m happy with how they turn out. The sunny yellow makes me smile and I’m really liking copper accents these days. P1020746

Should you choose to embark on a similar project you will need to bottles of craft paint in the color and brand of your choice, a roll of painter’s tape in a thickness you prefer, and foam brushes which I find to distribute the most evenly. Start by painting the whole file your main color, allow to dry about an hour before applying a second coat or touch ups then allow that to dry. Next, put on your painters tape covering the areas you do not want your accent color. I chose to keep my stripes all the way around the base and was careful to make sure the tape matched up once I got all the way around to avoid super wonky stripes. If you want perfection, get out a ruler and pencil and measure the space between each stripe on all sides. Paint your stripes, allow to dry and touch up as needed, remove the tape and there you go.

P1020745P1020772 P1020771

I know, it’s super easy, but so satisfying. As a busy, often overwhelmed mother of a toddler with another on the way, I really like these small simple projects that give our home a little extra without causing loss of sanity. What small projects are you working on these days?

xo, S.

Vintage Summer

Sure, it’s the unofficial end of summer, but we live in Virginia where the summer weather will persist for a few more weeks. We don’t have back to school yet, so there was no getting ready for that either. Still, even though our summer will continue on, we’re starting to feel the transition to fall. There were apples and squash at the farmers’ market this weekend, the nights are cooler, I’ve started knitting again.

So before we bid adieu to summer, I wanted to share this vintage photograph I found last week when I was clearing out books from my mom’s house. It came from a book titled Creative Photography which I acquired in high school when my library was weeding its’ collection, but I don’t think I ever really looked through it until a few nights ago. This photo taken at a state fair in 1938 by Kurt Hutton. I love how cheeky it is. The girl in her shirt dress, showing off her garters with a devil may care smile. All her friends laughing hysterically. The motion, the lack of crystal clear focus. It all conveys the fun, carefree spirit of summer. I think the time is significant too. America in the 1930s was a country in transition, trying to escape from the depression and dust bowl, not yet involved in the rumblings of WWII that were staring in Europe. There is a special innocence here that I think is something we all try to capture when summer rolls around.

P1020749

Hope you all have a great, carefree, and maybe even slightly naked holiday.

xo, S.