[cooking] Granola

Made a tray of granola on Sunday:

Homemade granola

This is the recipe I used in terms of ratios and cooking time/temp. But I used what I had in the pantry: rolled oats, toasted sesame seeds, flax seeds, millet, shaved coconut. I used peanut butter, maple syrup, veg oil as a binder but after cooking for an hour (I definitely didn't need an hour and a half) and after stirring every 15 min, it's not a clumpy granola. 

It's very tasty, though. The millet (which I generally have a hard time finding uses for) gets a nice toasty flavor and pleasant crunch. I've divvied out the granola out into individual portions to add to yogurt. If I kept it all in one big container, all the small stuff would sift to the bottom.

My breakfasts are all homemade now: yogurt made in the instant pot, homemade granola, blueberry compote (blueberries picked at a local farm last summer and kept in the freezer- I boil the berries down with maple syrup and cinnamon to a thick consistency).


[knitting] Next brioche project

Yarn for my next brioche project:

Next knitting project...

It's another basic cowl but will be using a couple different bundles of Caron Pantone yarn. There will be lots of ends to weave in but it'll be worth it for all the colors. (I hope.)


For local people, the 5 Colleges Book Sale is this weekend at the Lebanon, NH High School. I have a car appointment on Sat morning and will probably swing by after. 

Sunday is Easter- I think I'll try some (plain) hot cross buns to bring to dinner. Not sure what a good dessert would be. Maybe carrot cake. 

Should be nice and sunny (and not too windy) this afternoon. Maybe I'll do some more gardening...


[gardening] Microgreens

I mentioned yesterday that I took a microgreens workshop with my sister on Sunday. D Acres Farm in Dorchester was pretty cool with a lot of different things going on:

D Acres Farm

Makes me want to do some kind of fingerpost at my house. This farm offers a lot of workshops and events. I've love to come back in the summertime to see the gardens when everything's green and growing.

We learned a lot of good info on growing for ourselves at home. Out in the farm's greenhouse/patio, several trays of microgreens were growing:


And we all went home with a little kit to grow a small tray at home:

Microgreens kit

I started mine last night. Maybe they'll be ready by Easter?

Starting microgreens

This also makes me want to get back into sprouting. I should start a jar of lentils after work today.


[misc] Penny Monday

Penny gets into bed at night and either snuggles in behind my knees or between my legs (depending if I'm laying on my side or back). Then she stares at me, telepathically telling me to put my phone away and turn off the light.

Bedtime Penny.

Had a good weekend. Saturday was sunny and warm- nearly 70 degrees. I cleaning up a lot of the two front flowerbeds. I tried to bring Penny out on her leash but she was too scared. Santana did come out but started to get a little wiley (like she might bolt), so we brought her back in. Murderface stayed in the window inside where he's content. Lots of good little spots of catnip starting to grow.

Sunday I went to a microgreens workshop with my sister at D Acres Farm in Dorchester, NH. It was informative and we went home with a little container to grow at home. 

Not much knitting done. Even less sewing. It's approaching the point where gardening/outdoor time is substantially replacing crafty/indoor time. Which is fine with me. I'll reserve indoor chores/tasks for when it's raining.


[quilting] More squares

Working on more quilt blocks.

Another block sewn over the weekend. #quilting

And another. Before:

Quilt block


Quilt block

Down to the last couple piles of pre-cut blocks. Hopefully I'll sew them this weekend.


TGIF 1000%. Had a loooooooong week of teaching but now there's a three week gap until the next class. Which doesn't mean I have three weeks off- I just get to do my regular work for three weeks before the next class. This week was particularly rough because I was still getting over being sick from a couple weeks ago and lecturing all day did no favors for my voice, throat, cough. But I'm going to relax this weekend.

The maple swirl bread I made on Sunday has lasted all week. It's smells heavenly when toasted. I think I'll try making some homemade granola next.

I'm ready to cast off my brioche cowl and start in on the next one. Although the weather tomorrow is meant to be in the 60's and I'm itching to start cleaning up the flower beds.


[knitting] My First Brioche

Decided to jump into brioche knitting with my first cowl:

First time knitting brioche. Not as hard as I thought- but there has to be a faster way? Two handed brioche rather than working one color per round? #knitting #briocheknitting #briochecowl

Using my finest discount squeaky acrylic- because I'm new at this and I'm not gonna use my good stuff yet.

So far, it's easy. I haven't tried increasing/decreasing yet but this is fun- and the resulting fabric is oh so sqooshy. I just need to find a faster way- I'm doing one-color per round and I know there has to be a two-handed way to knit both colors at the same time. I'll give it a try when I start the next cowl.


[cooking] Maple Walnut Swirl Bread

This month's bakealong challenge in the Cooking from Scratch Ravelry group is specialty yeasted bread. I chose to make this Vermont Maple Swirl Bread from King Arthur Flour:

Maple Walnut Swirl Bread

I used ground walnuts instead of almond or pecan meal. It's kind of like making a rich cinnamon bun log or king cake but baking it in a bundt pan. The only downside is that I placed the log seam side down into the bundt pan, so when I turned it out:

Maple Walnut Swirl Bread

The seam is very apparent. Doh- next time I'll remember to put it in seam side UP.

Maple Walnut Swirl Bread

It's a great bread- I think slices will toast nicely. I opted not to do the maple glaze but I definitely would if I were to make this again for a party. It feels like it's needs a frosting, like cinnamon buns.

Maple Walnut Swirl Bread

It's so pretty baked in a decorative bundt shape and would be impressive to cut into- guests will oooo and aaahh when they see the swirl.


[knitting] Quick Pink Fuzzy Hat

Got distracted with some pink novelty yarn:

Quick fuzzy hat. I’m trying to find yarn in the stash for my first brioche knitting project. This pink stuff distracted me for a minute. #knitting #hatknitting #quickknitting

After the slow shawl and socks and tea cozy projects, I wanted to make something quick in just a couple weeknight evenings. This is an ultra soft and fuzzy hat. The yarn is bulky Skacel Luxor- given to me by a former coworker. This was a breeze to whip up on US 10 (6 mm) needles. Cast on 72, k2p2 long enough for a fold-over brim, continue on in stockinette, decrease, close, weave in ends, sip some wine, put on the finished hat, sip some more wine.

But now I should get back to stash diving for what I was really looking for: yarn for a simple, two-color brioche cowl...


[knitting] Vanilla Rainbow Socks

Finished up a plain vanilla pair of socks:

New socks. Yarn is Twinkle Toes by @fiberstash ✨ #knitting #sockknitting

The yarn is Fiber Stash Dyeworks Twinkle Toes. I can't remember the name of the colorway but they're very colorful and sparkly under artificial light. This is the last skein of Fiber Stash yarn in my stash (I used blue for the Lissajous Figures socks and brown for the Flaco socks) and I'm ready to get more. I think I'll have to wait for VT Sheep and Wool in the fall- I'm still trying to stash down. (But Fiber Stash will be vending at NH Sheep and Wool May 11-12!)

I started working on these socks right after Santana's stroke. I wanted something simple to work on while I followed her around the house and watched her movement. But she's practically back to normal now. She's eating, taking her medicine and moving around/jumping easily. 


Made a nice potato/leek soup last night. And started some no-knead dough. Tonight will either be sloppy joes (if I can motivate to turn some of the no-knead dough into buns) or roasted chicken.

I'm trying to find yarn in the stash for my first brioche knitting project. I have several Caron Pantone bundles that I got on sale at Michaels for multi-colored cowls but I want to try a simple two-color brioche cowl first.

I also have three colors of Cascade 220 Superwash to make a buffalo plaid hat. (Black, burgundy, red.)

Quilting is still moving along. I'm down to two stacks of pre-cut pieces. And I've been secretly working on another quilt.

Still spinning away on 1.25 pounds of a blue and chartreuse mix of wool.

This weekend I think I'll make a Maple Swirl Bread.


[crochet] Scallop Tea Cosy

Tea pot cosy in action:

Scallop Tea Cosy

Yarn: Cascade Casablanca - 1.25 skeins

The density of the crocodile stitch makes a thick cosy that retains heat well. I left this pot for an hour and a half to go out and run some errands. The tea was still warm when I got back. I mean, it was lukewarm but that's technically still 'warm'.

Scallop Tea Cosy

I sewed both sides together, leaving an opening for the handle and spout. I didn't do anything fancy for the top; just knit a cotton i-cord to draw through the top scallops and cinch it closed:

Scallop Tea Cosy

I used cotton to make the cord more durable- there will be a lot of cinching/tying/cinching/tying in the future.

Love this cosy- it's bright and colorful. It's making me drink more tea, which is good. I'm already thinking about the next cosy to make...


[knitting] Rumpelstiltskin Shawl

My finished Rumpelstiltskin Shawl:

Rumpelstiltskin Shawl

Pattern: Rumpelstiltskin by Christin Kimsey (rav link)

Yarn: Universal Yarn Renew Wool (discontinued) for the main body; Plymouth Galway for the border.

Needles: US 9 (5.5 mm)

I did 9 complete pattern repeats with 3 balls of the green Renew Wool. And I feel very lucky I was able to do that with only a few yards of yarn leftover... but what to do about the border? I have lots of misc worsted weight wool in my stash but should I do a solid color border? Stripes? What kind of stripes? I pulled some colors that I liked with the green:

Rumplestiltskin Shawl

I had a full ball of navy blue, most of a ball of brick red and about a quarter of a ball of gold. My border would be garter stitch in the following sequence:

2 garter rows- navy blue 
1 garter row - gold 
2 garter rows- navy blue 
3 garter rows - brick 
2 garter rows- navy blue 
1 garter row - gold 
2 garter rows - navy blue

Here's the immense shawl blocking- and I still wasn't sure how I liked the border:

Rumplestiltskin Shawl

But it has grown on me- I do like it very much now. 

Rumpelstiltskin Shawl

The only drawback is that the border is a bit heavy. The main body is light and lacy; the 24 rows of worsted knitting at the bottom may pull down the shawl over time. If I were to do this again, I might not make the border as wide or use a lighter weight yarn.

Rumpelstiltskin Shawl

It's huge and cosy- just right for snuggling into when the house is cold. Now that the weather is warming, though, I think this will be tucked away until next fall. It will be a nice surprise when I remember and pull it out.

Rumpelstiltskin Shawl


[misc] Penny Monday

Penny, keeping watch:

Penny, watching for woodchucks

For woodchucks. They are up and out of hibernation- I saw a couple through this window yesterday at dusk. Two have already moved into the deluxe Rock Wall Apartments. 

Last week I was teaching at work and on Monday I came down with the sneezes and sniffles. I said, "Tis but allergies- I'm sure it's just the snow melting and exposing the ground." I tried to convince myself it was still allergies on Tuesday. Wednesday I was feeling really bad and had to leave work early. Same on Thursday and I had to line someone up to close out the class for me on Friday so I could take the day as sick leave.

Throughout last week, Santana wasn't eating. She was getting skinny again. We'd put wet food down, she'd take two bites, then run away and hide. She did consume more when it was just liquids (half and half, water from canned tuna fish, etc) but I took her to the vet on Friday to see what's up. Clearly, it was a problem with her mouth... probably her teeth. The vet took a look and saw bad teeth and an infection. Santana got an antibiotic shot and more medicine to take at home. After a few days, she's back to eating normally and not looking so skinny. (The vet did say that Santana's doing extremely well recovering from her stoke- which occurred only three weeks ago.)

The rest of the weekend was devoted to crafty things. I had a lingering cough but was feeling better overall. I sewed a couple quilt blocks, ironed some denim patches onto a couple pairs of Dollar's jeans, finished my knit shawl, tea pot cosy, plain vanilla socks, started a new spinning project... Lots of different stuff.

I'm still working on the knit sweater and crocheted afghan but had to started a quick, bulky, pink hat last night- just to have something small and easy to work on. Not sure what I'll start up next... but I have ideas...

For any local people- there is an upcoming yarn dyeing workshop at Scratch Supple Co. in Lebanon, NH on Sunday, April 28 (12pm). I heard about it via a Green Mountain Knitting Guild newsletter. It's $35 and you can learn more from the Ravelry event page.


[quilting] Back at it...

Last weekend I got back to quilting:

Look who’s back to quilting... @macntash18

I was folding laundry on Sunday and found a long rip in a pair of Dollar's boxers- from waistband to leg opening. I don't even know how it happened but it was a nice, straight rip so I brought it to my sewing machine in the craft room and... chugga chugga chug- all sewed up. It was so easy, I decided to get out some pre-cut pieces of fabric and sew them into blocks...

Piecing together smaller squares as the original fabric dwindles. #quilting

It's been nearly a year since I've sewed any blocks. Thankfully, I had the foresight to pre-cut several different sized-squares and stack them up with a label to the directions in my book of blocks. All I did was lay the pieces out and start sewing, pressing, sewing, pressing, etc. No cutting, no thinking- just right to sewing. 

I have a few more pre-cut blocks ready to sew. I'll probably do those this weekend (maybe... I'm kinda very wicked sick right now) and then see what fabric is left. And cut pieces for more blocks.


[crochet] Scallop Tea Cosy- Blocking

The two sides of the tea cosy are done and blocking:

Scallop Tea Cosy

Scallop Tea Cosy

This crocodile stitch is a yarn-gobbler and I used up every last inch of my leftover Cascade Casablanca.

I soaked the halves and then pinned them out to be a bit wider in the middle (to fit better around the tea pot). All that is left to do is sew the halves together and leave openings for the handle and spout.

Scallop Tea Cosy


[vermont] Worthy Kitchen

After visiting the sugar house in Woodstock on Saturday, we went to Worthy Kitchen for lunch. We visit Worthy Burger frequently because we live so close but this was our first time to WK.

Lunch at Worthy Kitchen

It did not disappoint. Many more food options that Worthy Burger. I got the fried chicken thigh sandwich- with buttermilk ranch and so many dill pickles (which is the perfect amount). On a scale of one to ten, it was a twelve.

Lunch at Worthy Kitchen.

Dollar got the bacon egg and cheese sandwich:

Lunch at Worthy Kitchen

We also ordered some taco dry-rub wings that we didn't touch and had to bring home.

Lunch at Worthy Kitchen

The pickled carrots that came with these were good.

Great lunch, would definitely stop here again when we're in the neighborhood.


[vermont] Maple Sugar Open House Weekend

Went to visit a sugar house in Woodstock on Saturday:

Bourdon Maple Farm

This was my first time visiting Bourdon Maple Farm. They have 10,000 taps and use quite sophisticated technology to track the pressure along miles of tubing. They put several sensors out in the sugarbush that can report wirelessly to a computer in the sugar house on what the pressure here and there is. If pressure is very low- they can target where to go and check the lines (to see if a squirrel chewed through it or something).

The sap comes in and run through a reverse osmosis machine- to separate out filtered water from water-soluble solids (sugar, minerals, etc). The "sap concentrate" is what moves on to be boiled while the water is a by-product (re-used, in this case, to flush the system in the opposite direction). I've seen reverse osmosis machines in other sugar house and while they seem like an expensive investment, for high-production sugarmakers, I assume it eventually pays for itself with time and fuel saved.

Boiling the sap:
Bourdon Maple Farm

Sweet steam. My grandfather had a sugar house when I was little and the smell seriously brings back memories.

When the percentage of sugar is correct, the syrup comes off the boiler:

Bourdon Maple Farm

And run through a diatomaceous earth filter before being bottled or poured into a barrel- to remove any remaining sediment from the syrup. This part was super cool to me- I had never heard of it before.

I loved visiting this sugar house- the family running this business was so nice. They also had good homemade cookies out for the Open House. I bought a gallon before we left and now I'm ready to maple syrup all the things.


[cooking] Bread and jam

Last weekend I made 2.5 pints of raspberry jam (at first I thought it was 5 pints but I was mistakenly counting half-pint jars as pints). With homemade bread:

Homemade bread and jam. Put up 2.5 pints last weekend. Berries picked last summer at Lincoln Farm and have been in the freezer since.

Perfect. The other jars are squirreled away in the pantry. I picked the berries last summer at Lincoln Farm and they've been in the freezer ever since. This is an easy, pectin free recipe- just boil the berries and add sugar and reduce a bit. Sets up nicely.

TGIF. It's Vermont's Maple Open House Weekend, so I'm planning on visiting a sugar house in Woodstock tomorrow. Gonna stock up on some fresh maple syrup. And perhaps stop by Worthy Kitchen on the way back for lunch. The rest of the weekend will probably be laundry and cleaning and prepping for another week of teaching.

Santana's loose in the house. It's been nearly two weeks since her stroke- she's stronger and able to move around the house at 95% normal. Making sure she eats medicine is still a struggle but she's happy. We both slept back in the master bed last night- her by my head like old times. Penny's glad to have me back, too- so she can sleep between my legs or get under the covers.

Maybe I'll be able to finish some projects this weekend- the shawl, the tea cosy (I've misplaced one half of the cosy... I'll need to find that). I'm ready to join the sleeves the main body of the sweater. Work some more on the vanilla socks... and make a vanilla recipe...


[crochet] New Tea Pot Cosy

I started a new crocheted tea pot cosy:

Time for another tea pot cosy. #crochet

The yarn is Cascade Casablanca and leftover from this mermaid tears bag. Not sure I have enough yarn to make it as long as I want (this crocodile stitch is a yarn-gobbler). 


Things have been pretty chill this week. Still keeping close watch on Santana and spending time with her. I started a plain pair of socks to work on while I follow her around the house. I've made a lot of progress on my Starfall sweater. I'm not sure how I feel about the border I'm adding to the Rumpelstiltskin shawl (I ran out of the main color- I'm using leftover worsted weight wool in a few colors for a striped border). Lots of different projects going right now.

I did a St. Patrick's Day meal on Sunday- corned beef, colcannon (with dandelion greens) and a loaf of no knead bread (rather than Irish soda bread). Since I make yogurt every weekend and strain the whey, I've been using it instead of water for my no knead dough. The whey has also been working well in place of milk in muffin recipes. Maybe I'll use it for scones, next.


[cooking] Coconut Milk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

I ordered some vanilla beans to make homemade extract. One of the beans I used to cook with, the rest (14 beans) went into a 1 quart mason jar of 40 proof vodka.

With the one bean, I wanted to make panna cotta. It's pretty easy- I adapted the recipe from here:

1 can full fat coconut milk
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 vanilla bean
1 packet Knox gelatin powder
1 tablespoon water

Dissolve the gelatin powder in the water (try to use a shallow dish to get the powder to dissolve evenly).

Warm the coconut milk over med-low heat with the vanilla bean. Add the maple syrup (I used a bourbon barrel aged maple syrup from Wood's) and warm well but don't boil. Take out the vanilla bean, split lengthwise, use the tip of the knife to scrape down the seeds inside of each half. Mix the seeds into the milk and add the gelatin- stirring to dissolve completely (do not boil- very high temps will prevent the gelatin from ever setting properly). Grease 4 ramekins with coconut oil or some other no-flavor oil. Pour in the milk and let set in the fridge for several hours.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

The bigger black bits are clumps of beans. I probably could have found a way to distribute the beans more evenly.

When it was ready, I loosened the edge with a knife and kind of had to plop the panna cotta into my hand and then place it on a plate.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

Easy, fast, delicious. What's not to like about coconut milk, vanilla bean and bourbon maple syrup? Nothing! This isn't vegan but could easily be if you used a vegan gelatin.

All the beans:

Vanilla Beans

This is the first time I've ever handled vanilla beans. It was interesting and I liked it. They definitely were a special splurge item but I'll be making 32 oz of extract for the price of the beans ($35). Commercial vanilla extract is currently selling at $90 for 16 oz. I'll be making twice as much (at potentially twice the strength- I think I used a lot of beans) for roughly 1/3 the price. Little bottles would make a nice Christmas gift, if it turns out well.


[misc] Santana Monday

Santana had a stroke 8 days ago. She's much better now- at home, living in her own private studio apartment (the spare room).


I woke up last Sunday morning to her tumbling off the bed and down the three step stairs we have next to the bed. She wasn't walking right- her hind legs weren't functioning normally. This was at about 6 am and I called the emergency number for the vet. We brought her down and the vet had good news- Santana has feelings in her hind legs. But she likely has a blood clot in her brain. We got prescriptions for her (blood pressure, blood thinner, baby aspirin) and brought her home. 

She fell a few more times at home- she wanted to move quickly but her hind legs weren't responding as normal. I went the spare room- broken down the bed frame, removed the box spring and put the mattress directly on the floor. And covered the rest of the floor with pillows and blankets. I got a space heater, set up a food station and a litterbox area. The plan is to keep her in the room- where she can be unsupervised and wouldn't hurt herself from a fall.

Here she on the second night after the stroke:


I think her left eye is off- not really looking in the same direction as her right. She was confused- maybe about her body not acting right and probably wondering why the room looked different and why she was being kept there.

To top it off, it was an incredibly busy week at work- our teaching season has started and I leave the house at 6:15 am and return at 7 pm. When I got home, I just went to Santana's room to hang out with her. I've been sleeping in there since, as well. Her room is the warmest and comfiest in the house now. But she needs company and I want to see her improvement.

Days go by, she getting better and better:


Since the very first night, she was able to get into the litterbox, use it and get out without falling. We're having a tough time pilling her. She's getting stronger and fighting back more. I need to consider that I want her to be happy and relaxed- not terrified of having a pill poked down her throat every time I walk in the room- especially if she has to be on this medicine the rest of her life. But we also want her to eat her medicine. We're trying to find the wet food or liquid or treat that she will eat ALL OF with a pill ground up in it.


All these pictures are of her laying down but she is walking well. We've let her out of the room a few times- she goes down the stairs just fine, eats some food from the other cats' bowls, wanders around but eventually goes back up to her room- and I shut the door. She naps, mostly. It's a safe space- when she came out on her own the first time, Murderface hissed at her and Penny hit her. So she has to have her own place where she's safe from the stress of being around the other cats.

Santana Banana is 16 years old. Lost all her canine teeth. Has renal disease (and is on medicine for that, as well). Now this stroke. I'm glad she has bounced back but we are starting to think about what's best for her in terms of quality of life and happiness. She's still happy- she purrs and licks/kisses me. She's playing a bit. She still has all her functions. We're not at the point where we have to make any hard decisions- and I seriously hope we're still years away from that- but this whole experience has been a wake up call.


[knitting] Bed Socks

The weather here has been frigid for days on end. Wool bedsocks have become the norm:

It has been wear-wool-socks-to-bed weather. ❄️ #knitting #sockknitting #bedsocks

Penny pawing at my shoulder at 3 am, to get under the covers, has also become the norm. 

TGIF. We're going to see Captain Marvel this weekend. I splurged on some vanilla beans, which should be arriving tomorrow. I plan to start some homemade vanilla extract since the current price of vanilla extract is exorbitant. Any maybe make something with really vanilla beans, which I've never tried in my life.


[misc] Murderface Thursday

Someone barfed all over the bed while we were at work yesterday. 

Had to wash the quilt because *someone* barfed all over it. He knows what he did.

He knows what he did.

I had to wash my quilt, Dollar's quilt, sheets and pillowcases. Sigh. All this on top of vacuuming the entire house before band members arrive (they spend the entire time in the basement and wouldn't see 90% of what I was vacuuming but I didn't do it over the weekend and I wanted to for my own peace of mind) and washing all the dishes. And I was trying to find a place to store the Instant Pot, so it's not taking up space on the counter all the time and I ended up pulling everything out of the bottom of the pantry closet (like you do, once you get going cleaning something) and... it was an ordeal.

But as I got into bed last night, into fresh warm sheets, under a clean, fluffy quilt, I looked over at Penny (sitting by my head, waiting for treats) and whispered, "I'm kind of glad Murderface puked. Everything is so nice and clean now. ... But he sure as shit isn't getting breakfast in bed anymore."