[misc] Penny Friday

Most unflattering angle of Penny:

Most unflattering angle ever. #catsofinstagram

The temp has dropped and Penny has gone into heat-seeking mode: trying to get under the covers in bed, flopping onto any open lap, burrowing into laundry baskets of cloths right from the dryer.

Tomorrow is VT Sheep and Wool! Looks like there will be some rain in the morning- not sure how muddy the fairgrounds will get but I'm going to bundle up for sure! Can't wait to see all the vendors and all the pretty things!


[knitting] Seascape Stole

After I cast off the dragon baby blanket, sewed in the ends, washed and blocked it, I heaved a huge sigh of relief. I finished it, in time for the fair- what a weight has been lifted... what to do now?

Immediately cast on something new:

New project starting to look like something. #knitting

Seascape stole in Louet Kid Mohair, published in Knitty Summer 2008 (omg, I've had this pattern queued for nearly 10 years). It's working up nicely- the yarn is great and the charts are very easy compared to the dragon charts.


[gardening] What blooming in late September

Let's see, it's been a month since I posted flowers. Some of these things are done and gone but I do have some late summer flowers to enjoy.

Purple bee balm:

#monarda purple #beebalm

I like this- good height (4 - 5 feet tall) and tidy; it doesn't spread like red bee balm. Purchased a very small plant a couple years ago at the Hanover Garden Club sale and it's just huge now. Suffers from powdery mildew. It's in full sun and gets plenty of air circulation, so I don't know. 

Red cardinal flower bloomed just as the white was finishing (in the back right of the picture):

Red cardinal flower

I bought three of these lobelia plants this year and planted them in the part shade bed. And all three are different colors: red, white... and blue:


The blue one isn't as tall as the white and red but it's much more showy. It's their first year- will be interested to see how they look next year.

I've been waiting years to see if anything would happen with a Japanese anemone that I planted (again, another tiny plant purchased from the Hanover Garden Club sale). Finally, this year, it bloomed:

#anemone 💕


So glad I never gave up on it and left a marker where the small little leaves were. Hopefully now that it's established, it will spread.

September 10 was the last daylily bloom out of all the daylilies:

Last daylily out of all the daylilies. 😭

Or so I thought. Actually, some of my light yellow stella d'oro are still blooming now:

Some daylilies still blooming. Huh.


I had a couple new gladiolus bloom:



Stone crop

I don't appreciate this plant enough. The greenery looks nice all summer as it grows and then you get a pop of color in September. 

Planted some nice, tall, bright asters during the summer and they just started blooming:

#aster #vermont

Looking nice now but I have a horrible feeling that the woodchucks won't let this happen again next year. I had two short asters planted in flowerbed last fall and the woodchucks grazed on them this spring whenever any leaves appears. I dug them up this summer and brought them to plant at work. By the time I planted these (above) the woodchucks either (a) had enough other stuff to eat, or (b) moved on.

I actually have not seen a woodchuck in more than a month. Maybe two months. Where are they? I kind of hope a gang of fox or coyotes came through and, uh, "took care of them". 

Anyway, I'll enjoy this aster for now. It's a common Vermont wildflower and I see this bright violet kind growing in ditches here and there (I've got to start keeping a little shovel, bucket and gardening gloves in the back of my car)- maybe the woodchucks don't eat this kind? Maybe? 

Lastly- mums started blooming:

Um. The mum I got last year is blooming this year? Is this a new perennial kind?

I thought this was beyond strange- I planted these last year and they came back and are blooming this year. I've NEVER had a mum last more than one season- winter always kills them. But a couple people on my Instagram said they've had mums that have lasted years, once planted in the ground. I will say that they're both in MA and in a zone (or two) warmer than me, so this was a pleasant surprise for me.

So that's that for plants. The weather here has been insane- 90 degrees the last three days. We haven't had any rain in quite a while. Temperatures will drastically fall tomorrow and the next day. The high forecast for Saturday is sunny and 61. Which sounds perfect to me- the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival is this weekend at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds and I don't want to be shopping and petting wool in July-like temperatures. Maybe I'll even dig out a knit hat and scarf to wear!


[cooking] Shaggy Mane Mushroom Rustic Tart

A rustic fall tart with "foraged" mushrooms:

Shaggy Mane rustic tart

The last time we had any rain, it was a downpour the morning of Sept 14 and the next day white mushrooms started popping up all over my front yard.

Lion's mane all over the lower lawn after yesterday's morning downpour.

They were impossible to miss- super white against the green grass. They are Coprinus comatus, aka Shaggy Mane, aka Inky Cap, aka Shaggy Ink Cap, aka Lawyer's Wig. The "ink" in the common name comes from how they deteriorate: 

Shaggy mane mushrooms in the inky stage

From the bottom of the cap up, they wilt away as dripping black goo. Mmmm mmm, this is NOT "good eating" stage.

When they are first up and the caps are still slightly closed and there's no grey discoloration to the caps, they are good to pick and eat cooked. I feel like I should put some cautionary text here: you should never pick and eat any wild mushrooms, ever. The same way that Food Network says you should never eat beef carpaccio because raw beef is a one-way ticket to the emergency room. Better safe than legally liable.

I feel comfortable with shaggy manes. I first saw them along the driveway last year and COOKED and ate some. And even then, I only ate a little at a time to see how I would react. I also had no alcohol during and 48 hours after eating these; these particular mushroom can cause some gastrointestinal distress in some people when consumed with alcohol.

Most importantly, there aren't any deadly look-alikes. I recently saw some of what I *think* are honey mushrooms in the woods but I'm not going to play with them because I don't feel comfortable positively identifying them and there ARE deadly mushrooms that look similar. They say there are old mushroom hunters, there are bold mushroom hunters...  but there aren't any old and bold mushroom hunters, if you catch my drift. ... Because they're dead. ... From eating poisonous mushrooms. 

I picked quite a few tightly closed mushrooms:

Shaggy Mane Mushrooms

Because of their tendency to not stay nice very long after picking, I had them cleaned and cut up within an hour. Into a pan with some local butter:

Shaggy Mane mushrooms

Cooked down:

Shaggy Mane musrooms

I decided on a lazy, I mean rustic mushroom tart. Usually when I make a pie or quiche and there are leftover dough scraps, I'll pile them up, roll or pat into a thick patty, wrap in saran wrap and throw it into the fridge for a simple, small galette some days down the line.

Also, this means the mushrooms will be cooked twice. Once in the pan with butter and again in the oven in the tart. I would never, never, ever, never eat any mushroom I foraged for raw. Raw mushrooms will usually cause more gastro distress. Plus, cooking helps make them more palatable.

So I roll out some dough on parchment paper, layer some panko breadcrumbs (to absorb moisture and keep the bottom of the tart from getting soggy) and parm cheese. Then layer on the mushrooms. I topped with some grated semi-soft half cow/half goat milk cheese. Sprinkled some seasoning and flopped over the edges:

Shaggy Mane rustic tart - before

Baked at 350 F for 35 min. Topped with scallions.

Shaggy Mane Galette

This was amazing. Would be just as good with any mushrooms you can get at the grocery store- button, crimini, oyster. If you have access to more exotic ones like maitake or beech or king trumpet- those would be nice. A mix of any of those. I think mushrooms, cheese and pastry dough are a one way ticket to contentment.

Because it was a small amount of dough, this tart is probably only about 8" in diameter. Still, I only ate a small wedge so as not to consume too many wild mushrooms at once. 
I'm hoping for another rainfall that will make these sprout up again. 


[vermont] Tunbridge Fair 2017

It's been nearly two weeks since I've posted. Things have been crrraaazzzy busy. First, getting things done and in order for the fair. I finished the baby blanket and had just enough time to block and dry:

Done and done and done and done. Dragon baby blanket washed and currently blocking. Hopefully it's dry by tomorrow afternoon. Oh my crippled hands. #knitting

I beyond love it. It was really a labor of love- the charts were immense, every single row was different and I had to keep track at all time of what I was doing and how things lined up. This was definitely not an auto-pilot project. The stitches on the dragon's body are different from the chest which are different from the wings which are different from the spikes, etc. The pattern makes great use of many textures. I've shown it to my sister but I'll be saving it until Christmas.

At the fair, the blanket received a 2nd place ribbon- the bottom seed-stitch border is a little narrower than the rest. Fine- you know, that IS true. You kind of have to have an eagle eye to see it but these judges are being judgey and they know what they're looking for. What DID hurt my feelings is that the blanket was folded and hung on a wire, hiding 80% of the pattern. I would have liked to see the blanket displayed so that the entire dragon could be seen- I think spectators would have liked that and it would have merited a few oohs and aahs. But display space is limited. ... But it still hurt my feelings. 

So I also made a chai-spiced pound cake to enter this year (baked in a castle bundt pan):

Chai spiced bundt castle cake to bring to the fair!

I didn't get to taste it, other than the batter pre-baked and the extra top (which became the bottom)- when I cut away some scraps to level it off. I later dried out the scraps and ground them up to have with an apple tart:

Apple tart with cake crumbs and vanilla ice cream. 🍎

This is just a pie crust in a shallow tart pan with some cinnamon sugar apple slices arranged in a pretty pattern. Served with the ground up chai cake crumbs and vanilla ice cream. 

A friend came to stay with me over the weekend for the fair- there were plenty of visits to the beer hall, some rides, lots of fair food, viewing the livestock cavalcade from the grandstand, visiting all the animals in the barns. We picked up all my entries Sunday night:

My ribbons from the fair this past weekend. Didn't enter as much as I have in the past. Better start working on next year's entries...

I've entered more stuff in the past but this year I started a new job and was super busy from Feb - June, which is primo knitting time. I'll still be just as busy next year during those months but hopefully I can manage time better.

Will be returning to the fairgrounds this weekend for the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival. Can't wait to see all the pretty things!


[misc] Penny Tuesday

Sunday morning Penny.

Busy weekend. We attended a wedding Friday night. Then I made a trip to Hmart with my mom on Saturday. Sunday Dollar and I attended the 5th annual Mac and Cheese Challenge in Windsor and then booked it down to Claremont to catch IT at the theater (yes, so scary, so good).

Last Thursday was the NFL regular season opener at Gillette. I made a pizza for the game:


After baking:


This actually wasn't that hard to do and I might try making more pictures/designs on pizza with vegetables. I'm not going to use pepperoni anymore, though. We usually just have onion and peppers on our pizza and after not having pepperoni for such a long time, I was put off by all the grease. Maybe turkey pepperoni would be okay.

Trying to finish up the dragon baby blanket. To drop off at the Fair. Tomorrow.


[misc] Kitty Wednesday

A collage of the cats from this past weekend:


Busy at work- prepping for Hurricane Irma. I probably won't have to go back down to DC next week and will be able to support from home. Which is good- I'm going to Hmart with my mom on Sat, Dollar and I are going to the VT Mac and Cheese Challenge at the Harpoon Brewery on Sunday. I'm taking next Thurs/Fri off for the Fair.

Tonight is the first regular season Pats game! So excite! Pizza is on the menu at home but I don't know if I should put a Patriots logo on it... or a certain clown face. Hm...


[knitting] Dragon baby blanket- halfway

I was not able to do any knitting in DC (too busy), only a few hours worth during the flights to/from. The blanket is currently at the half-way point:

Blanket 50% done. Starting to look like... something. #knitting

I have to bring all my fair stuff next Wednesday, so that leaves me 7 days to finish. Gulp.


[misc] Winter is Coming

We had a hard frost at our house Saturday morning:

Hard frost this morning.

It didn't seem to do much damage to the flowers- just affecting a bit of coleus behind the house.

I was in DC last week, doing mapping work in support of Hurricane Harvey. It was crrrraaazy busy: work from 6 am to 10 pm, go to the hotel, sleep, wake up and do it again. I got home Friday evening and crashed. I had a bit of work to do remotely over the weekend (Sat-Mon) but it didn't take up more than a couple hours each morning. 

Was so nice to return home to sleep and chill and cook homemade food. Since the weather is dropping, I've been craving chowders and stews. Kimchi jjigae is going to be a weekly dish, I think:

Dinner #kimchijjigae 🍲

The rest of the weekend I put together a couple new shelving units and started organizing my craft room (which was such an embarrassing mess). I think I'm going to have a lot of stuff to get rid of and bring to the dump. 

My pre-reg form was sent to the Tunbridge Fair (mailed from DC) and I've got to start gathering (and MAKING?) some of the stuff that I said I would enter. Gulp. The baby blanket is progressing but it's slow going.