Thursday, October 22, 2009

Apple Oatmeal Bars

This is what happens when there's good chocolate in Mom's Bag, which is left on the floor, where The Baby is loose. Just in case any of you were wondering...

We're still going through the apples- yummo! I thought I'd share a family favorite recipe, not quite as fast as the Freestyle Apple Tart, but it also doesn't require having a premade pie crust waiting for you in the fridge. These Apple Oatmeal Bars (which bear a striking resemblance to apple crsip, is there a differenc? I dunno, you decide) are so easy to put together that it's really quite to my shame that I don't make this much more often.
I got the recipe from my little sister. She's a grown woman, married and expecting baby #2, but I can still call her little, because, well, she's younger than me, she's much shorter than me, and she married a man with the last name Little. She'll never not be my little sister. I dunno where she got the recipe- I'll have to ask.

Apple Oatmeal Bars

2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. brown sugar
2 c. oatmeal
1 c. shortening*
9 (about) medium apples, sliced
1 c. white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon (I may use much more than that, what can I say? I love cinnamon)
4 Tbsp. butter

Mix flour, salt, soda, brown sugar, and oatmeal; cut in shortening* unti mixture is crumbly. Spread half of mixture into greased 9" x 9" baking dish (a deep dish pie plate works well too). Press down firmly. Cover with apple slices. Mix white sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over apples. Dot with butter. Cover with remaining crumb mixture and bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes (you know, when it looks, smells, and feels done!)
*You can substitute 2/3 c. butter for shortening in crust (that's what I do! Mmm, butter!).

If I could take a good food picture I would, I truly would, but the last time I posted a picture of some apple crisp my dad thought it looked like something the cat had thrown up. Yep, my dad is fun that way (and funny, gave us girls some thick skin, okay, mine wears thin now and then, and wry senses of humor), and, well, even though I disagreed, the very thought that somebody, you know, 'out there' might think my apple crisps all end up looking like cat puke, well, yuck. We have cats, but I think I kinda like them a little bit less each time they puke. As long as they catch some mice...

Now that I've mentioned both mice and cat puke in a recipe post, I shall try to distract you from my utter loss of any good sense, with the news that my Wee One is now, officially, One Entire Year Old. And he walks. And he's a biblioclast*.
*Greek root for this week- biblos

And I'm in the home stretch on my Top Down Vine Lace Cardigan- Yay! I'll be wearing it in no time, or at least by this time next year.

What are you knitting this week? Any objects in the home stretch?

How about baking? Anyone else bit with the baking bug (apples or no apples) since the cooler weather moved in? Maybe next post I'll share my other little sister's recipe for my favorite Pumpkin Bars...

Until then,
Happy knitting-


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

FO: Lacy Baktus

I loved having this simple knit on the needles. It made for perfect soccer knitting, hospital sitting knitting, and even some good car ride home knitting. The downhill side is always interesting on a knit like this- interesting to see whether it picks up steam or putters out (okay, it's really me that does the puttering out at times, not the knitting).

There I was, picking up steam and all, when I realized something wasn't quite right. My sides weren't lining up the same when I would fold it in 'half' at the point to see how much further I had to knit. Somewhere along the way my gauge had grown- both my stitch and my row gauge. I think I've always been a pretty consistent knitter, so, though I have heard of gauge changing quite a bit over the course of a project, I had never actually experienced the phenomenon myself- and certainly not on a project that only took a couple weeks, and is only one piece. It's not terrible, but it is definitely enough for me to notice, and for everyone that I point it out to to notice, hehe; enough that I would never give this slightly wonky scarf away as a gift...

I must make it clear- it's not the pattern's fault, the wonkiness is all about my gauge, and the only way I can figure it (because my overly analytical mind needs to figure it) is that with all the hospital hubbub, maybe me being so tired caused my gauge to loosen up...?

It boggles my mind, but, it is, after all, only a scarf, or tiny shawl, (or scar-awl/scrawl), and not destined to be a gift, so a little lopsidedness is not really any big deal, though it does grate against my perfectionist sensibilities the wrong way just a wee-little-bit. Oh, well. C'est la vie. I'm a big girl, I can handle it. Or I can just let me 2 yr old wear it, as she pretty much believes I knit it for her...

I loved it, and think I may cast on a stripey version sometime soon...

Happy knitting-

*oh, and next year, anyone who lives near enough will be able to buy some homegrown watermelon at the lil' farmers' market my kids will need to set up to deal with our excess produce. Unless, of course, all the green thumbs turn brown...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rank Watermelon Blues

Tonight's PSA: Too many watermelons kept for too long on the counter will eventually lead to one of them leaking- this is not a good thing, that is not a good smell... and the moral of the story is, when one harvests a TON of watermelon at the end of the season, one really should bless friends and family (with several melons each) or sell it at the nearest farmer's market. One's family can only eat so many watermelon in a week...

I turned to my right, and wondered what the liquid was that was dripping off my counter. Who could have spilled their drink all over the overcrowded counter? The one filled to almost overflowing (well, I guess at that point it actually was overflowing, sheesh) with an excessive number of watermelons, and the mail which was soaking in foul smelling juice. Oy.

After scrambling to clean up that, what shall we call it? um, bump in the road, this evening, things are smelling much better (orange essential oil in my kitchen cleaner!) and we are down to the last 4 good watermelons- one of which is being snacked on right now, so I guess that would make it 3...

And the knitting? (No yarn was harmed in the rotting of that watermelon.) I am currently well into my 2nd skein of a Vine Lace Top-Down Cardigan for my very self. (I really do still enjoy knitting other people's designs!) It's gotten (freezing) cold, and I'm a cardigan kind of gal. I love how quickly bulky knits knit up, and I'm completely in love with top-down construction. I'd love to have this done in a week (I cast on before bed, 10/14). I won't, but I'd love to. A busy mom can still dream.

The designing? I've been working on my transition to self-publishing, but I've been working at a snail's pace, with my family and our homeschooling adventure taking a higher rung on the priority ladder. And that's okay, it's the way it should be for me. I do have several patterns about 95% ready to go, and I'm super excited about that. I just don't know how soon I can wrap up that last 5%, and that's okay too. It will come when it comes, I'm not losing any sleep over it. There are so many other reasons to lose sleep these days...

And the baby? Oh, my, could he be any sweeter? I doubt it, and I can hardly believe he'll be a One Year Old in 5 days!?! Oh, my, he is such a joy & delight, and so very, very, big! As his birthday happens to fall on the same day of my dad's, I have just reminded myself that I only have 5 days to think of something, (or maybe conspire with my sisters, one of whom has a new blog!), to come up with something for him too...

Have a fabulous weekend!
Happy knitting-

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cold Apples

10 yr old Big J, in his Buky Thorpe

A friend of a friend has an apple orchard. They mentioned they could use some gleaners- apples for the taking, just pitch in a bit and pick a tree clean. Was I interested? Um, yeah! With snow in the air, and more on the way, it was kind of a 'how soon can you get here?' situation, so after seeing Teenager off to a soccer double header (in 28 degrees with snow and wind, better him than me, I tell ya, I wouldn't last a minute, I'da quit the team right there on the spot, but I'm wimpy- he's hearty) and husband off to some Saturday 'extra' working, I cracked the whip, rounded up every one's coat, ordered the donning of the mittens, hats, and boots, and headed down and over a town or two for some picking fun.
It was cold. Really cold. After a while, my toes hurt far too much to call that fun, but the baskets and buckets we'd brought were not yet full, and with another hard freeze on the way, the apples weren't going to last. It was 'now or never', so we picked on. I came home with I dunno how many Fireside, Cortland, and Harrelson apples (my personal fave!!)- more than we can eat anytime soon, even with 7 children and 2 adults eating on a regular basis around here, so there will be some 'putting food by' going on for the next several days. Applesauce tomorrow, as well as dehydrating (oh, I love dehydrated apples for snacking!) and freezing some slices ready for pies. We might have had a huge batch (ok, they might all be huge, we do feed a few people around here) of oatmeal loaded with apples and cinnamon (another favorite!) and a more generous than usual amount of brown sugar... and we may have some apple crisps and there may even be a pie or two if I can find the time for some crust making tomorrow.

Anyway, like I said, it was cold. Seriously, and with that wind, oh my, even my cold-heartiest of my cold-hearty children had a few whimpering moments. This global warming is really hard on less-than-ideally protected feet, like mine, and my poor oldest daughter who just wouldn't stay little until her Carters wore out- she outgrew her winter boots and we haven't found her a new pair yet, mostly because we really haven't looked much yet, you know, as it was only October 10th!! Lady Liberty ended up warming in the van (with Baby J) for a bit, at least until it was time to go see the horses! Nothing like a horse to bring a frozen girl out to brave the elements, even if the horse runs off into the pasture after the tractor trailor filled with apples...

I'm glad I had my new hat, but check out my hands- I didn't want to dirty any 'good' mittens and I couldn't find any decent gloves, so I grabbed a pair of garden gloves, LOL! Whatever, I was in it for the apples, not the hand shots!

And now I'm ready for some serious warm things knitting, or at least some serious warm bed cozying- time to put the down comforter into the flannel duvet cover! I have yarn for a sweater, I even hand wound my first skein this morning... Now I just need some free-time, HA!

Do you have a favorite apple variety? Favorite apple recipe? (Remember this one?) Freezing trip to the apple orchard story to share? I'd like to think I'm not the only one to tempt frostbite fate for apples, but you never can tell about these things...

Happy knitting-

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

TTL Mystery Sock '09

I wasn't going to do it. There are so many things I want to knit right now (I have yarn just waiting to CO for a Vine Lace Top Down Cardigan!) and a number of designs in process, that I just wasn't going to do it, but I was actually Twitter-taunted by Heather, okay, she kindly suggested, and I was about to cave to the power of suggestion. Leslie's teaser prodded me on a bit as well. Other knitters are such enablers...
And then I saw these, and suddenly I felt an almost irresistible urge to dive into my sock yarn stash, which really isn't very big, and free up some needles- yep, I put some old, languishing socks on holders for this. I say almost irresistible, because truly, I'm sure I could have resisted, if I really needed to, but honestly, I didn't try all that hard. *Mischievous grin*
I found some appropriately fall colored Trekking XXL (color 145, a subtly-variegated lovely orange) that I bought in an excited frenzy when I simply needed more sock yarn after learning to knit socks on 2 circular needles, which is still my favorite method, possibly only because I have not yet taken the time to try the incredibly popular magic loop method... and cast on. Can I crank out a run-on sentence, or what?
I had my 1st cuff finished in a couple hours, and pretty much had to make myself go to sleep without knitting the 2nd one, you know, until the next morning, except that there is always so much to do in my mornings, and throughout my days, that I ended up with almost 24 hrs of Second Sock Syndrome, not able to cast on until sometime the next afternoon, which enabled me to knit away during soccer practice as I sat in the van for 2 hours with 6 children, listening to books on tape (well, really CD), not wanting to let my recovering girls out to play in 50 degrees and rain. Jeepers, I can really make 1 sentence look like an entire paragraph, could be from too much Dostoevsky in my formative years, that man made paragraphs run pages, at least I give you some white space... ok, those last phrases were really sentences, I may just have a love-affair with commas, which is better than comas, and now I'm just being silly in my giddy-ness induced stupor after biting a few nails watching (online) our beloved Twins (I am a serious fair weather fan, I totally admit it) clinch the American League Central title.

Loving the Mystery Socks so far, can't wait to see the next clue! Fun, fun, fun.

-And- I'm almost ready with a light pink hat of my very own, to keep my head warm during what appears to be our rapidly approaching winter (snow is in the forecast for this weekend, sigh...) I, personally, was hoping for more fall, but, you know, I don't control that kind of stuff.

And the bench? I got the bench! The indoor rearranging is being configured, and , for now, the bench is a nice welcoming place to sit outside my front door, you know, for in case the UPS guy ever needed, oh, I dunno, a DRY place to leave a package (scratches head, have I ordered anything recently that could be delivered to my new bench? hmm...)

The sun may come out today, so I'll try to take some pics, but in the meantime, in between time, isn't the set-up, with the old doors stuck together to make walls, just the most adorable backdrop for traveling antiques & boutiques?! Just stuck in a barn, down a gravel road, across the field from our place... so sweet, I'm so glad I stopped by.

Are you ready to take on colder weather? What incredible hats are you planning to knit (quick, in a hurry! did you hear me? snow is in the forecast!) this year?

Can't wait to see what starts showing up (knitting up) on the blogosphere this season,
happy knitting-

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Confessions of a Cold Wimp

A few weeks back, I was excited to feel that first crisp, ever so slightly damp & cool, night air move in. It was such a pleasant reprieve from the heat & humidity we were experiencing once summer finally decided to show up, here in the usually frozen tundra. That first refreshing sense of coolness had me reaching (too soon) for my wool sweaters, wool hats, and a more sensible alpaca & silk scarf, and dreaming of knitting and designing many more- or what may turn out to be 1 more, with the way my schedule has been working out lately, and that's okay...

But this- this high of 45 degrees, overcast and drizzly rain all day, the kind that just chills your very bones, well, mine sure feel chilled, especially my feet, even in my thick leather Danskos, -this is not refreshing. I'm a cold wimp, and I don't particularly care for the overcast skies, either- it's time to load up on full-spectrum bulbs. And blankets. And sweaters. And more wool socks...

It's also time for more roast chicken and more nourishing chicken bone broth. Then maybe some red chili, some white chili, and even some green chili- can you tell I love chili?! Hehe, thankfully, my children do too! Some chicken tortilla soup, stewed tomato & onion, garlicky potato, corn chowder, broccoli cheese, oh, my, how I love this time of year. I spend my summers waiting for soup season. We even host an annual soup party- (heads up local friends and family, 1st Saturday of November, mark your calendars!)

Early last week, in the couple days before life turned upside down for a while, I designed and knit a new hat for my little Mercy. It's so big and warm, knit with Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky, and as soon as I get my hands on some more of that yarn (which has to wait until I can decide on a color, ooh, that can be so hard sometimes!), I'm going to knit myself a monochromatic one, and I'm very excited about that. Could be a little too excited about that, giddy almost, which could indicate an intense love of big hats or an intense lack of sleep, possibly a little bit of both, well, maybe surely a little bit of both.

Ooh, in other news, there is this "Unique Boutique & Antiques Tour" (travelling antiques and boutiques!?! who knew?!?) happening locally right now- I stopped by a pole barn across the field from us (um, yep, we live in a pretty rural community, hehe) and oooh-ed and aaah-ed a bit today, falling in love with a chunky black bench which I think simply needs to be in my house, even though I'm really not sure where... but it's 5 1/2 ft long, very sturdy, has a nice back, and it's only $65!!, which, I'm pretty sure, is an excellent price for such a large piece of furniture. I want to go back for it, but I need to decide where to put it... seriously.

Ok, back to work,
happy knitting-

**health update- the girls are still coughing quite a bit, still finishing up their steroid bursts, and will remain on albuterol nebs for several days, and controller meds for the entire winter, at least...

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Another Asthma/RSV/Pneumonia Update

Whew! What a week! We just got home this afternoon with 4 yr old Hope. 6 yr old Grace came home yesterday. 8 yr old Liberty ended up with an ER run herself on Tuesday evening, but came home, not needing to be admitted, with a much less serious case of pneumonia (and accompanying steroid burst, antibiotic, and albuterol nebs).
Gracie ended up losing her first IV, then taking 3 tries to get the second one in, and almost lost the second one the next night. Two nurses worked very hard to save that IV. They were awesome.

Hope ended up only needing to stay in the PICU for 24 hrs, and she transferred out onto the main 'floor' on Saturday- into a double room to wait for her sister. So, then, instead of running back and forth to opposite sides of the PICU, we were running back and forth to opposite ends of that floor of the hospital. We certainly got our exercise!
Hope is our asthma child who usually responds right away to her meds, and really hasn't needed them very often. She's never dropped her stats like that before, she's never been hospitalized for her asthma (though she was in the hospital with RSV at 6 wks old), and has never even needed oxygen for her asthma. She's only had 2 or 3 ER visits, at which she has always responded to more meds, and come home.
On Saturday morning, when she was moved out of Intensive Care, I actually expected Hope to fly out of her new room before Grace even made it out of the PICU, as Grace has always had a harder time with it all.
Grace ended up in the PICU for 3 nights, a day earlier and a day longer, than Hope. When we went to sleep on Saturday night, she was still on a lot of oxygen and continuous nebs, and by Sunday morning, she was off of continuous nebs, down to every 2 hrs, and down to 1.5 liters of flow with regular O2. She had flown right past Hope on the road to recovery.

Hope was still on 4 liters of flow at 80% pure oxygen that morning, and then she took a bit of a turn for the worse, dropping her stats and needing to go up to 7 liters of flow at 100% oxygen, which is close to as much as they could give her, and there was talk of a possible return to the PICU. Her cough had gotten really junky and she wasn't statting real great, despite that very high level of O2, and she ended up needing suction. That was almost as scary for her Dad and I (and her sister, who was now sharing a room with her) as it was for her. No fun at all! After that, they started doing physio therapy with the vest treatment designed (locally!) for use with cystic fibrosis patients. We tried to get her to talk or sing during her treatment, because it would be so cute and silly, but she just refused to see it that way- until her last 2 treatments on Wednesday, stinker.

Grace continued to improve, tapering down to getting meds every 3, then every 4 hrs, and tapering down to 'room air', and after getting through a night with no signs of distress, was able to come home on Wednesday, 7 days after being admitted to our local hospital only to be transferred down to Children's. She's still got some secretions to work out, so there will still be some coughing, which could still be contagious for RSV, so we will remain homebodies through another weekend.

Hope took much longer to wean back down off of the oxygen, which both surprised and worried me. Yesterday morning, when the pulomonologist came in to check on her, he told me that the nursing & respiratory staff had been concerned as well about how long she was requiring so much oxygen, but he knew that, especialy where RSV is concerned, sometimes it can just take a long time, a waiting game we never wanted to play. She finally tolerated a baby step down, and then another, and another, until she was on room air, and wheezing much less. She still has a bunch of secretions to clear, like her sister, and you can hear it in her cough, but even so, she sounds 110% better.

Our biggest problem now might be weaning the girls off of all the Sprite, juice, jello, & popsicles they could drink & eat, and the quitting satellite TV cold turkey...
And the knitting? Well, I had planty of time to finish my Lacy Baktus and then some, but did I? Nope. Almost, but, nope. I was distracted, and when I took the time to just sit, I was exhausted, both mentally and physically. It's almost done, and I have a new hat pattern to publish, when the fog clears. There will be time for knitting, probably this weekend, while we're busy doing nothing but keeping our coughs and our germs to ourselves.

Happy knitting (& breathing!)-
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