Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Scones & Wildflower Fairy Dust

While it's still February I thought you might like one more scrumptious,
 heartfelt dessert to have with teatime.
Before I start out with the recipe, I want to say that for those of you who have never baked scones and have always thought you might like to try your hand at them, but for some reason find the idea intimidating, they are actually quite easy.
 There are just four essential things you need to remember:
1) Use cold butter cut into half inch sized slices. 
2) Work the butter in with either a pastry blender or your clean hands, 
leaving noticeable sized pieces, as this makes a nice, buttery scone.
3)While working with the dough, do not handle overmuch.
{We want our scones to be light and buttery, not tough and dry.}
4) Ideally, scones should be baked from fresh, just made dough and 
eaten within two hours after removed from the oven for optimum delight...
now that's not to say we have not eaten them the next day in my house
  if there are still one or two still lingering about, 
however, they truly are at their most divine when fresh baked.

So... here's a yummy recipe for you...

Chocolate Strawberry Scones

3 Cups All - Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
2 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 1/2 Sticks Unsalted Cold Butter,
cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/4 cups hulled and chopped Strawberries
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
1 1/4 Cups Buttermilk
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla

1/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream (for brushing tops)
1/4 Cup Sugar (for sprinkling tops)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder,
 salt & cinnamon.
With clean hands or pastry blender, work butter into dry mixture until it is incorporated evenly.
Add Strawberries and chocolate and combine well.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour buttermilk and vanilla into it.
Combine ingredients until all the dry mixture is wet, but do not knead!
Turn mixture onto a floured surface and gather dough together.
*Dough will be moist due to the juice of the strawberries.*
Gently pat the dough to make a rectangle about 1 1/2 inches thick.
Using dough cutter, cut scones into wedges measuring about 3 1/2 to 4 inches thick or use cookie cutter in shape of your choice.
Cover baking sheet with parchment paper  {and do not spray}.
Lay cut out scones on prepared sheet and brush tops with heavy cream.
Sprinkle each one with sugar.
Bake for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
{Makes 12 to 14 scones}

As for what's been on my knitting needles this week, I've still been working on my Reflection Shawl in that gorgeous, making me happy all over, color
that I showed you in the last post.
The skein of Cascade 220 Superwash in Magenta that I needed to finish the sweater sleeves actually arrived in today's post and, thankfully,
 they had the same dye lot for me.
I will get those sleeves knit into that sweater right away
 so I can have that project all finished up.
However, I really must admit, it's going to be hard
to lay this shawl aside now that I've started it.
I just love watching as each new color magically appears. 
Honestly, I am totally enchanted by this shawl.
I love the way the colors are working out so beautifully
 and the stitch pattern is lovely too.
I can hardly wait to see it finished.
Every time I sit down to work on it I am surprised by how much it grows.
 It almost seems to knit itself.
 I think there really is some magic to it. 
Who knows,
 maybe the little people sprinkled it with fairy dust for me.
If that's the case,
 I wish they'd sprinkle all of my knitting
 while I'm off in dreamland... 

"If I'm honest I have to tell you
... I still read fairy-tales 
and I like them best of all."
Audrey Hepburn

Friday, February 17, 2017

Seasons of the Heart

New Beginnings.
Isn't that what so much of life is about? I love this time of year. Not because I especially enjoy the tail end of Winter but rather the subtle hint of fresh Springtime that flits around us in the air ever so slightly. The moments of bright sunshine that break through the old days of grey and shine right down through the bare, leafless branches of the trees, melting away the last traces of snow. They whisper a promise of things to come. A work that is just beginning, like a beautiful new shawl just cast onto the knitting needles waiting for its full beauty to be brought into life one glorious day at a time.
Other times life is all about transitioning or even putting things on hold, if just for a little while, like this toddler sized sweater that's oh so close to the finish line in my check list of things I can call done... until... 
 I realized I made a mistake that I haven't made in more years than I can count on both hands.
I didn't order enough yarn! So... hopefully sometime next week there will be another ball of Cascade 220 Superwash Wool in Magenta on my doorstep so I can finish the sleeves of this sweet lacework sweater. Right now it looks like it has cap sleeves in it, which is kind of cute but I think the long pink sleeves will be a whole lot prettier. Then I'll sew some tiny flower shaped white buttons down the front and return to the knitted shawl if it's still stuck in limbo on my needles. That beautiful yarn, by the way, is Chroma in fingering weight by Knit Picks. The color is my new happy color ... Wildflower. Doesn't that just work for you?
 It does for Me.
It conjures all sorts of fanciful visions for the Springtime I know is coming.
Visions of breezy days that smell of sunshine. Days when I'll swing gently on my front porch with knitting in my lap, a cup of tea close at hand, my dogs eagerly greeting passersby and Spring rains that bring forth tiny buds of new growth that soon turn into beautiful blossoms. 
If I look close enough I just might spy a fairy or two dancing beneath them, feeling the same joy that I have in me for the days of fresh, new beginnings that lie ahead. A whole Spring and Summer to dance and play. A whole year of new projects to make and new friends to meet. 
There are also times life is about finishing things and moving forward so we can see what's waiting for us around that next magical corner. I finally finished my Dancing With the Fairies Scarf and was able to wrap it around the neck of a happy customer.

Life is a continuous cycle of seasons.
Seasons of weather and seasons of the heart.
No matter what season we are in
 sometimes all it takes is a bit of faith to get us through...
And the memory that after every hard Winter,
Springtime comes again.

"To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven..."
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Perfection of a Rose

I have to confess, having been born with a romantic nature I love Valentine's Day.
Or shall I say I love all of the beautiful things associated with it? Honestly I feel like there's a perpetual state of Valentine's Day in my heart all of the time. I also have to admit that my house looks like it's living in that holiday year round too. You know how some people are happy being stuck in the 1970's? Well, that's me and all things pertaining to Valentines... roses, hearts, cupids, pearls, pink, red, satin, lace, but especially the hearts and roses ...
Yeah, I don't seem to be real "trendy" when it comes to my décor.
I love everyone's "clean lines" and "less is more"  but ...
I don't know. I just can't seem to live like that in my own space. Sometimes I wish I could. But I like having hearts hanging up year round. They make me happy. The only time they come down is for the short period they are replaced with Christmas decorations. Then they go right back up.
Then there's all the roses everywhere. Those can be found in every room.  My house is decidedly feminine for sure, which has never bothered my husband. Thankfully he finds it homey. I have tried over the years to "simplify" every time I have had to repaint the walls by telling myself I would not be hanging so many things back up but then ...
Here's a glimpse of my corner of the dining room where I sit and knit or crochet in the afternoons. There's a dining room table in there too. It's off to the left of the picture just out of view and the living room is to the right, through the French doors. A sweet old calico cat can usually be spotted curled up in that chair with me as I drink tea and play with yarn during the months the weather is too cold to sit on the porch swing with my tea and knitting.
When I have to be indoors I feel more peaceful and happy when surrounded by beautiful things. I have always loved antiques and china and roses. My mother dubbed me early on as being "born with an old soul". So even though I am now in my early fifty's, believe it or not, my house looked much like this when I was in my early twenty's as well. It's just who I am. The funny thing is, when I was young I didn't worry so much about my house looking like an "Old Lady" house and now that I am gaining speed on that territory ... Uhhh.... I look around and think... "Wow, this looks like an Old Ladies house." It bothers me ... for about a minute and then I am comfortable in my own skin again and in the nest I have made for myself and my family in the thirty years of living in this old house.
The thing is, we just are who we are.
I can step into someone else's home and absolutely love it even when it's totally different from mine. That's because it's a reflection of who that person is. I love to see the expression of a persons individuality on such an intimate level. If you want to get to know someone, step across his or her threshold; spend time in their personal space. That's where the true depth of their character will unfold. I have also always really enjoyed having friends and family in my home. One would think our front door was fixed with a revolving door due to the amount of traffic we have always had over the years. I love it like this. Filling my home with the laughter of others brings me great joy.
As you all know by now I also love to bake and since next week has Valentine's Day in the beginning of it, I thought you might like something sweet and simple to try.

Chocolate Mousse
1 Tablespoon Cold Water
 1 Teaspoon Unflavored Gelatin
2Tablespoons Boiling Water
 1 Cup Cold Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla
3/4 Cups Hershey's Chocolate Syrup

Place Cold Water in a small cup and sprinkle gelatin over water to soften.
Let stand for 2 minutes.
Add Boiling Water, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved.
In a medium bowl, beat whipping cream until slightly thickened.
Gradually add gelatin mixture, beating until stiff.
Fold in syrup and vanilla.
Spoon the mixture into individual serving dishes.
Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set.
Garnish as desired.
Serves 4 - 6.
{I like to double the recipe and use the whole 24 oz. bottle of syrup.}

*I like to garnish with homemade whipped cream and chocolate curls.*

Whipped Cream
2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Teaspoons Pure Vanilla

Chill metal or plastic bowl in freezer for 15 - 20 minutes, along with beaters.
Whip COLD cream on MEDIUM {so cream does not become buttery}
until almost stiff. Add sugar and vanilla.
Beat until cream holds stiff peaks.
Can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 hours before serving.

Chocolate Curls
Run a vegetable peeler along the edge of a giant Hershey's chocolate candy bar.
When chocolate becomes too soft from the warmth of your hand,
place in freezer for a few minutes.
I run it over the short end when I want small curls like the ones to top off the mousse.
When making curls for the top of a cake I run the peeler down the longer sides.

P.S. For the Crocheted Heart pictured in the very first photo at the top,
if you are a crocheter who is interested in the pattern,
you can find it on Ravelry by clicking here.

I hope you have a lovely weekend and enjoy the upcoming Valentine's Day!
As for Miss Puss and Me...
We'll be tucked in as usual ...
Taking time to smell the Roses...
And sipping our Tea.
"The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies.
Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential.
It seems to be constantly in the process of change:
Yet at each state,
at each moment,
it is perfectly all right as it is."
Paulo Coelho