Saturday, May 30, 2009

First Time Gardeners

Happy Saturday! It's beautiful here in Bethlehem, and our vegetables are starting to sprout like crazy. I've been meaning to show you our little garden, which we started from seed. First I have to say that I am truly a non-gardener, and D did 98% of all the hard work (I get points for observational participation, with a little bit of hands on work) The lettuce has finally grown big enough to eat, and we've been having some nice salads with our dinner. Everything is coming along slowly, hopefully soon enough to enjoy a bit before we move on to the new house.

I can't believe these things grew from seeds. They were so widdly and pathetic back in March, smaller than alfalfa sprouts, that I just couldn't imagine them turning into enough for a salad. There might have been just enough for a little tea sandwich. Two months later, the bunnies are feasting away on the lettuce, but there is still enough to feed us too.

These are teeny tiny carrot tops! We might get a birthday candle-sized carrot by the time we move...

Tomatoes! I guess the next tenants will get to eat them. Boo!

Radishes...we usually don't buy radishes at the grocery store, so I'm not sure why we decided we should plant some. What do you do with them besides eat them raw? They are flourishing anyway.

Things are progressing with the house process. We are waiting on our mortgage application, have house insurance, have a cleared inspection, and are showing the rental to prospective tenants. It's been a busy month. And I started packing already.

I started the Whisper Cardigan a couple weeks ago and it's about 2/3 done. The next time I blog about it, I'll probably be in the new place! I may have a post or two in between, so stay tuned. Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Swallowtail Shawl

Pretty!! Another finished project: the Swallowtail Shawl from Interweave Knits, done on US5 needles and using up about 400-500 yards of lace weight. I picked up the purple yarn in Columbus, but now seem to have lost the label so I don't know the brand, although it is definitely merino wool. I loved this pattern and the lily-of-the-valley lace sections! So dainty. The P5tog was a little tricky to do, but after a row I got the hang of it. I gifted this to a friend for her birthday, and will make another one for myself at some point.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Baby Shower Daisy Cake

Last Friday, D and I went to our first co-ed baby shower, and I brought along this cake for the parents-to-be (congrats C&J!). I was really quite excited to make this cake and test drive my in-development decorating skills. Actually, it's the first all-buttercream cake that I've done since I started interning, and I was hoping that I absorbed some of the techniques I watched my pastry chef use every day.

Let me tell you about the cake first - it's a lemon layer cake, with lemon curd and coconut cream filling. MMmmm. I used the vanilla cake recipe from Confetti cakes (replaced 1/4 cup of milk with lemon juice, and reduced sugar by 1/2 cup), and the coconut filling was made from swiss meringue buttercream whipped with shredded coconut and extract.

I'm sure there are many tricks to get buttercream really smooth, but the trick I learned was using a credit card instead of a spatula. It's nice and small, fitting easily into your hand, and your arm doesn't get really tired holding the spatula at a weird angle. Now, it's another thing to know how to actually use the credit card! You have to have your cake centred on the wheel, and you need to be careful about not scraping too much icing off as it turns. The goal is to smooth, not carve an edge on the cake. To make a clean edge around the top, drag the card toward the centre of the cake, which will take off the excess bits. If there is still some lumpiness and uneveness in your covering job, you can either spray the cake with water and run the card over the cake again, or, you can dip a spatula in hot hot water and slowly smooth around.

Saartje's Booties and MDSW festival

Happy May!

It's been a bit of a crazy few weeks. First, a little finished project to show you before I get into all the updates:

Soooo cute. These are for baby Bunny who is due in early July, and she'll be getting another handmade item to go with the booties. The pattern is Saartje's Booties (it's free!) and make great baby gifts, and also a great way to find a good use for those little balls of sock yarn leftovers (recognize Pomatomus III?) I used US2 dpn needles and it probably took me a few hours to finish them, including sewing on the buttons. Actually, the buttonloop was the trickiest part, but I found a little tutorial over at My Fashionable Life that was a big help.

Onto the updates! I'm not even sure where to start, since there's yarn and baking and home updates all over the place...

At the beginning of May, I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival - my first time at a yarn conference - it was so much fun. I have never been surrounded by so much yarn, roving, sheep and all things knitting and spinning related.

Everywhere we went, there was silk, merino, bamboo and all sorts of lovely fibers to grope and pat. I am proud to say I acculumulated only a modest stash consisting of 3 skeins of sock yarn, 2 skeins of wool/silk DK, and some dpns. It was very, very hard not to buy more than that. :)

My bakery internship, sadly, finished at the end of April. I am quite disappointed, but what can you do. After a few weeks of unresolved drama among the company, my pastry chef decided to leave. Fortunately, I have met some great people in Bethlehem and have gotten some offers for introductions at other bakeries, which I may explore in the fall. In the meantime, I have a lot more time on my hands for knitting, and an abundance of partially completed projects piling up.

Last piece of news: Pending inspection and all that (fingers crossed), we bought a house! Yes, we did. It was bit of a whirlwind...everything happened very fast. We started looking around a couple months ago, and only recently decided to begin working with a realtor. Everyone's advice was that home-buying could take a long time, so it was a good idea to start early. So of course, we immediately found a house we really like. Then we went back and stalked at night to explore the neighbourhood. Then we went to see it again. Then we stalked some more. Then we slept on it. And then we decided to put in an offer. I really thought the process would take a heck of a lot longer, that there would be some feet-dragging from the sellers, delays....Friday we put in the offer, on Sunday we had a deal. Surprisingly efficient! We're very excited, and still kind of shocked. Hopefully things will go smoothly through to closing.

That's about all for now. I've got a baby shower cake to show you soon, I promise. It won't take me another three weeks inbetween posts!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Moss Placket Neck Sweater

From Last Minute Knitted Gifts, modeled by the lovely baby Kate:

This was done in Knitpicks DK superwash yarn, in a heathered green. It's been washed at least once, and it looks like it's holding up pretty well.

Last week we had visitors!! Margot, Janet and Kate...we wandered around historic Bethlehem, sat on the giant lawn in adirondack chairs at Lehigh, ate lunch at the Blue Sky cafe and of course, oggled the cutest, most well-behaved baby I know. I pinched those round pink cheeks so many times (it was probably very annoying, but she couldn't say so...hehe).

They were off to D.C. on the next leg of their trip...I was most jealous when I received a text that said "i just saw the obamas!!" Whaa!!!!

Hope you had a fun road trip and a safe drive the rest of the way home.