Monday, February 29, 2016

It Must Be Bunny Love

I decided a few days ago that my grandchildren need 
knitted and stuffed bunnies for Easter this year.
I made them some last year.
Just the tiny, stripey ones that I showed in my last post.
The ones I call
 "Pocket Bunnies" 
on my 
They love them and still carry them around and play with them.
Hilary told me Archer enjoys making his hop.
His way of making this happen is to fling it onto the floor
and then stomp it half to death.
Hilary assures me he is in his sock feet...not his shoes.
{In case I was bothered by this abuse}
I told her it doesn't matter, that it's his bunny now
and he can treat it however he wants to.
Archer will be 2 this September...
So you see he probably really does think he is making the bunny hop
when he does this ;-)

This year however, I went on the hunt for a bunny 
that looked more like a 
And after scouring Ravelry and Etsy this is the one
 I fell in love with.
You can find this absolutely adorable pattern for sale on 
a beautiful Shop called
If you are interested just click this link to go straight to the pattern.
I won't be knitting these darling fella's up for my own shop though
because Joanne, the shops owner and creator of this too sweet pattern,
doesn't allow her patterns to be used for selling purposes.
That's okay by me. 
Not only did I really just want to make them for my grandchildren,
I have great respect for the talent and hard work of other people
and feel strongly about honoring their wishes...ALWAYS.
I'm just thankful to have found her shop and her patterns.
This was so well written and worked up just perfectly.
I'll be making more purchases from her in the future.

The first bunny pictured in the basket
{the cute fella seated on your left}
is the one who will go to Archer.... my little stomper.
It's the second
bunny rabbit I made.
Look at that tail... isn't it the cutest?!!

The one sitting on the right was my first one...
my trial run, so to speak.
And although I do like him...
I don't necessarily love him. 
His flaws are not readily noticeable in this charming layout I configured
for Instagram but I can see them when I hold him in my hand.
He's knit from a fiber blend of 75% Acrylic and 25% Wool
 held single stranded
and I can 
see through the stitches to the stuffing...eek!!!
And NO!!!!
I'm not totally crazy about the embroidery work on his face.
this sweet guy will not be going to one of my little sweeties for Easter.
He is destined to live out his days 
much more gently
right here with 
The one I prefer was made from 100% Virgin Wool 
held double stranded...
nice and tight...
no stuffing peaking out there!
And I'm a bit happier with the face...
still a work in progress :-)
There are more to be made, so I figure each one will get a tad better.
At first I was worried about using wool, thinking they should be washable.
Even though I really wanted to use this particular wool because
I love the color for a rabbit.
Then I showed it to my daughters and they both loved it too.
They said,
"Go ahead, we don't care about washing them anyway."
Well, there you go.
I guess if they get too dirty in the whole hopping/stomping 
process of their lives
I can always make more.



Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bunny Tales

On Saturday, having various errands to run,
and with our granddaughter Gabby,
 who had spent Friday night over,
in tow,
we took a little road trip for the day.
Just close around home.
It reached an unseasonable 61 degrees here that day.
So our first stop was the car wash.
While we sat there waiting to enter into the world of swirling suds,
I knitted happily away,
until I began to 
I couldn't figure out why on earth Scott would turn on the heat
on such a beautiful day.
Men are usually chomping at the bit to turn on air conditioning.
I finally said,
"What are you doing... I'm dying over here!"
Long story short...
The dual control was malfunctioning so his side was kicking out his 
beloved air conditioning
while mine was cranking out some seriously high heat.
And here I thought I was having one of those 
Bad Baby Hot Flashes!!!
Next stop was the car dealership.
Turns out our brand spanking new van needs a new part.

We continued on our way to Pekin, the next town over.
We wanted to take Gabby shopping, out to lunch
and to visit my father in law 
who is convalescing for a couple more weeks 
in a nursing home there.
Seeing as how we were en route even longer
than I originally thought we would be,
I was quite pleased with myself for having the foresight
to stock my knitting basket with several different colors of yarn
so I could just keep happily whipping out little bunnies 
all day long if need be.
But as I finished up the very first 
little fella
"Oh NO!, I don't have a darning needle!!!"
Well thankfully I still had the circular needle I had used for knitting
the bunny ears hat down in the bottom of my basket
so I was able to transfer the first little bunny off 
the straight needle and onto it,
therefore freeing it up so I could continue on.
I ended up getting the first three ...
bunnies done that day.
I found the effect of them all lined up together so charming however,
that I carried on when I got home.
Now I have several little bunnies
awaiting faces , ears and fluffy tails. 

There's just one last bit of my 
Bunny Tale
I want to share with you...
As we rounded the corner that finally landed us on 
the street that would take us to visit my father in law
this was the conversation
as I was knitting with ever increasing speed 
to reach that "perfect stopping point"...

Man Behind the Wheel...
"Okay, We're almost there, Better go ahead and pinch it off."
{WHAT??!??!! I mean really only a man would say such a thing}.
Lady Who is Speed Knitting...
"Actually, I'm going to cut it off."
Man Behind the Wheel...
"Well there's no reason to be violent about it."


Friday, February 19, 2016

It's Bunny Making Time Again...

Just a few days ago, while looking through the calendar,
I realized that Easter comes early this year...
as in March instead of April.
Who knew?!!
Not ME!
Which means it's time to kick it into high gear 
for my usual bunny hop,
not only for my Etsy Shop
but local customers as well.
So a couple of nights ago, as you can see,
 I began to gather some supplies.
Because I love making bunnies 
So Much
I keep a particular basket well stocked
with nothing but 
bunny making paraphernalia.
In the Springtime my LYS owner
places a huge order for me of all the colors I need of
made by Plymouth Yarn.
It's a fiber blend of 51% Cotton & 49% Acrylic.
I love it!
It has beautiful stitch definition.
It's soft and it's machine washable and dryable.
Just perfect for baby items.
Here's my first born bunny for this Spring.
Straight off the needles today.
This one is already sitting pretty on my
I like to leave the ribbons off for one picture
in case someone out there
prefers a little less frill.
I can't help myself...
I just love that little pom pom tail.

Another tiny little bunny has already hopped 
onto my needles this afternoon.
He'll grow up to be a 
Pocket Bunny
like this one from last Spring
{who is long gone...}.

I knit countless amounts of these every Spring.
Not only do they go online
but I have so many local customers who order them
that I can barely make them fast enough.
Surprisingly, they even sell in the Fall
when I take them to the Craft Fair
at the Pumpkin Festival.
Guess I'm not the only 
Bunny Lover
out there ;-)



Thursday, February 18, 2016

Lacy Crochet and Red Cinnamon Cake

Many of you out there know and love Olga
from her beautiful blog
her lovely Etsy Shop
From time to time I just have to crochet one of her creations.
Olga makes such exquisite items and her patterns are clearly and professionally written,
 aided by the loveliest pictures.
This is just the beginning of her
After crocheting to 50 inches you flip it to form a twist,
creating that ever popular Mobius effect.
I actually have at least twice as much finished now 
since I snapped this picture yesterday morning.
It's a very soothing piece to crochet and grows under your
hook and fingers as if it's magic.

But now...
Let's have a little Cake with our Lacy Crochet...

Red Cinnamon Cake

1 Cup Crisco
{Yes I know it's really bad don't live off it}
1 1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla
1 Ounce Red Coloring

Cream first 5 ingredients together.

Sift together the following ingredients:

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
{Yes I said a Tablespoon}

*Add Sifted ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with
  1 Cup of Buttermilk 
saving last portion of buttermilk back.
To last portion of buttermilk add:

1 Teaspoon Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
{this mixture will fizz}

Pour into entire batter and mix well for approximately 2 minutes.
Now here's where I start getting fussy about the whole process.
As far as I'm concerned
NO kitchen
{at least one that is Baked in}
can be properly ran without this wondrous thing called
Parchment Paper.
If you have trouble with cakes sticking,
and this particular recipe is prone to it,
your days of crying in your cake are 
Trust me on this.
If you've never used parchment paper and you love to bake...
Stop whatever you're doing and run to your nearest store and purchase some
and never, ever be without it again.
Once you've lined the bottom of you're pans with this heavenly stuff
you still need to Spray it with cooking spray ...
all over the parchment paper and up the sides of the pan.
Then we pour in all that lovely batter and...
weigh it.
Yes I said 
Weigh it
Make sure you come out with the exact same amount of batter in each pan.
This ensures both layers will bake evenly.

***Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes.***

*This is the time it takes in my oven...
 but I recommend you check it after 20 minutes
and then again every 10 minutes until it's done.
See ... Perfectly even.

After 10 minutes of cooling in the pan
turn the cake layers out onto another cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
See how nicely that parchment paper peels off? 
Do be sure to peel it off slowly however, as the cake is still warm.
Now for the truly yummy part...
The Frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting

1 Stick Unsalted Butter - softened to room temperature
1 - 8 Ounce Block of Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese -softened to room temperature
2 Pound Bag Confectioner's Sugar
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla
2 - 3 Tablespoons Heavy Whipping Cream

Mix all ingredients till smooth and creamy.
Use more or less cream according to your preference on the consistency of your frosting.
{I tend to like my frosting a bit on the stiff side}
Use a dash of milk instead of cream if you prefer.
I realize there are a whole lot of recipes out there for Cream Cheese Frosting,
this is just how mine has developed over the years.

And I have to add here...
When it comes to this lovely thing called 
I am decidedly not
 "less is more"
kinda Girl.

When your cake is completely cooled do this first...
Smear a dab of frosting on the cake plate.
This will "glue" the cake in place to prevent slippage
 while you frost it and when you carry it about.
{Nobody wants their masterpiece sliding off into the floor!}.
And Voila'!
We have a Cake.
I sometimes use an Icing Comb
for the sides.
My Mother in law gave this to me many years ago
when I was newly married.
So now we're ready for a lovely bite...

*** Just a few more baking tips ***

Unless a recipe tells you not to sift the flour always sift the flour.
Use exact measurements - when cooking savory food we can fling things in willy nilly, 
not so with baking. 
Unless you want flat cakes, hard biscuits, runny cookies,
 cookies that could be used as weapons.... 
you get the picture.
Always use a timer.
If the recipe says to use butter don't use margarine 
{unless you wan't those runny cookies we already mentioned}.
Don't try to substitute to make things low fat/low sugar...
 just find a recipe that is already designed that way. 
Now don't get me wrong on this one -
There are a lot of us with health issues,
 Me included. 
I have 2 Rheumatoid Diseases and have to choose sparingly
when I decide to treat myself
as high fat and sugar flare me up!
I have been a Vegetarian and basically a clean eater for almost 20 years now...
but we all need an occasional treat.
And I'm talking about good 
old fashioned
full fat
baked goods
 And for those who genuinely cannot ever have such things
Thank God
there are a gazillion cookbooks out there
 with professionally tested recipes with substitutions.

I know a lot of you out there are fabulous bakers.
I also know that many people love to bake but can't figure out why
they continue to encounter the same issues over and over.

Here's my secret to baking success:
For one thing I come from a long line of natural born bakers.
My paternal grandmother
{she was Swedish}
was a truly phenomenal baker.
Growing up on a farm in Illinois,
she also settled on a farm as a new bride
where she raised her family.
When you entered her house and were enveloped by the 
divine smells of her baking
you thought maybe you were in heaven.
Then with the first bite
you knew you were in heaven.
I have yet to meet her equal in baking
{and a few other things, I'm sure}.
She definitely planted the seeds of interest in baking for me at a very
 young age.

The other thing is that I've had professional baking classes.
Years ago, along with my sister,
 I used to have a home based cake baking business.
Bridget is still in full swing and while her business has grown tremendously,
I have spent the last several years pursuing my true passion of 
Fiber Arts.
But I do still love to bake and hope you like my original cake recipe
and that you find some of my baking tips useful in your kitchen.



Monday, February 15, 2016

A Heart Full of Love

Happy Monday to You All!
I hope your Valentine's Day was filled with 
precious memories 
loved ones
as mine was.
Scott and I stayed tucked in while the snow continued
to fall all around us throughout most of the day.
We treated ourselves to  homemade waffles for breakfast 
and coffee with real, heavy {fattening} delicious cream.
He gave me this lovely miniature
Rose Garden
in a clay pot.
I love the little trellis standing up behind it.
I gave him chocolates...
That's the way things are done here.
I get the flowers...
HE gets the chocolates ... 
{because, sadly I am allergic to chocolate...UGH!!!}.
Our other tradition is a cake I have been baking him 
since our very first Valentine's Day
as newlywed's.
Red Cinnamon Cake
Cream Cheese Frosting

So yesterday afternoon I baked a cake.
The house smelled so heavenly... all warm & cinnamon-y.
We spent the evening snuggled up by the fireplace watching a
Hallmark Valentine Movie Marathon...
Having our cake and eating it too!

In my next post I'm going to share the recipe for the cake and the frosting.
The original recipe is from an old cookbook but after I made it that 
very first time...
I completely changed it.
So you won't find the recipe anywhere but here, as it's truly my own.
I hope you like it.
It has been a family favorite all of my married life.
My youngest daughter, Chelsea, who has a February birthday, 
often requests it for her special day.
We will be celebrating her birthday next weekend.
I'm still waiting for her request for this year....

As for the darling little 
Hearts Around Doilies
pictured at the very top,
I made those for my Valentine gifts for my Knit Night Girls.
They meet here every Monday night.
We were meant to be having our 
Valentine Party
with one another tonight.
However, quite irritatingly,
I've come down with a case of the sniffles and body aches today.
I'm staying cozy in bed with my doggies,
{for the most part}
drinking tea,

{this is my current shouldn't take too long... just 977 pages ;-)  
I do SO love Rosamunde Pilcher.
I've read 
oh... I don't know how many times.}

looking out my bedroom window at snow covered trees.
Looks like I'll get to celebrate with my Knit Night Girls next week instead.
That's okay...
as far as I'm concerned
Valentine's Day
can last