Amazingly, my Rhinebeck sweaters are done.  Last week, I was seaming this one.

Early this week, I was back to working on the second sleeve for this one.

Yesterday, I steam blocked and sewed.

Today, I finished the collar with the last of my yarn that I had to unwind from the gauge swatch that I did.  That was a close one!

They had a bath and are now drying with the help of a fan.

As I was suddenly without any knitting this afternoon, I immediately cast on another sweater, this time with bulky yarn.

If you see me at Rhinebeck, say Hi!


Simple Boozy Apple Cake

It’s fall!  The leaves are turning and that means it is also apple season.  Little did we know when we moved here last year that we would be in the middle of apple country.  There are many apple orchards within a 15 minute drive of our house and if you expand that radius, the number of orchards just keeps multiplying.  We are not strangers to pick your own apples, having gone every year for almost 20 years now.  However, we’ve never been this spoilt for choice for apple orchards.  As a result, the boys and I are on an unofficial mission to visit as many apple farms as we can so we can better assess our favorite.

So far, we’ve gone to two.

Ok, that’s not exactly fulfilling the mission, but, unfortunately, we also have to get some work done around here sometimes.  Sigh.

Anyway, the benefit to going more frequently is that we do not feel the need to pick a whole season’s apples all in one go.  So, we have been picking one basket at a time.  This means that our apples are always fresh!  What a bonus!

There is nothing like eating a fresh picked apple.  They are crisp and juicy and scrumptious.  We easily ate through over half of our first basket before I even started thinking about baking anything.

And when I started baking, I naturally turned to cake first.

Now, apple cake and I have a rocky relationship.  I love the idea of apple cake, but often do not like the reality of apple cake.  It can often be very moist, almost soggy, and they have notoriously long bake times, which can make them hard to judge doneness.  They are also often really yummy warm and eaten the day they are baked, but as the days go by, they get soggier and wetter.

That soggy cake texture has never been appealing to me.  I wanted a cake that was moist, but able to hold up for a few days without becoming pasty.  And I also wanted a cake that would take a fair amount of apples.  After all, at this time of year, I am usually trying to use up as many apples as possible before they go bad on the counter.  I didn’t want to make a cake that would just use one apple.

After several tries, I think I finally have a cake recipe that accomplishes all those things.  And it has booze in it as well.

Plus, the recipe is pretty easy; no mixer necessary.  The hardest part is chopping up the apples.  And, I have included a little bit of whole wheat, so it’s also good for you!

It is especially good with salted caramel slathered on top of it.

What’s not to like?

Simple Boozy Apple Cake

makes one 9 inch square cake

You can use any kind of booze in this cake.  I tried both Smoked Maple Bourbon and a lighter apple Liquor that I had.  Both were good, though the apple Liquor one was a much lower proof, which made it almost imperceptible in the finished cake.  If you don’t want to use booze, you can also use the same amount of orange juice or apple juice/cider.  I also topped my cakes with a glaze of Smoked Maple Bourbon Caramel sauce.  Very yummy and I highly recommend this addition.  You can find the recipe here.  The caramel sauce can be made up to a week in advance and kept in the fridge.

4 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and diced, about 16-18 ounces after dicing

1/4 cup (2 ounces) bourbon, rum, hard cider, or apple liquor

1 Tablespoon (1/2 ounce) lemon juice

1 and 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

a pinch of ground cloves

2 large eggs

1 cup (7 ounces) light brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (option, but very good)

1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter, melted and cooled


Butter and flour a nine inch square cake pan or spray with a nonstick spray with flour added.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the apples, booze, and lemon juice in a medium bowl.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, lemon zest, and butter until slightly lighter in color.  Whisk in the eggs until well combined and light.  This will take about a minute.

Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the dry ingredients to the egg mixture.  It will be very dry. Do not try to get all the flour mixed in.  There should still be a few spots of flour when you stop (see photos above).

Add the apples and all the liquid in the bowl to the batter.  Stir with the spatula until the batter smoothes out.  Scrape into your prepared pan and level it with your spatula.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.  The cake will be golden brown and a toothpick or tester should come out clean.

Let cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before glazing with caramel sauce and eating.  The cake will keep for up to three days at room temperature, covered.  It will get moister as the days pass, but should not get soggy.  Enjoy!



Triple Sawtooth Star Block

The past few years, I have been part of a charity quilting group called do.Good.Stitches.  It’s run by Rachel over at Stitched in Color.  There are multiple groups and they each have quilters and stitchers.  Everyone makes quilt blocks every month that the quilters organize.  This way of organizing allows anyone, even the most time pressed or beginner sewer to join a circle and sew for a good cause.  It was a great way for me to have something to sew on a regular basis without the pressure that comes with choosing colors, etc.  I have learned a lot being a sewer and have discovered some new and fun techniques in the process.

My group, the Aspire Circle just went through a little reorganization and I decided to try my hand at being a quilter this time, not because I feel especially skilled at quilting, but because they needed more quilters and I could use a little more help in developing my quilting skills.

Quilters are responsible for choosing the colors and design of their month’s quilt.  All other members make blocks and send them to the quilter of the month.  Then, the quilter assembles the top, quilts it, and sends it off to the group’s charity of choice.

October happens to be my month for organizing and it has been quite a learning process already!  My first idea was a total disaster and had to be scrapped.  Sometimes, I get myself in a situation where I try to reinvent something that doesn’t need to be redone.  Basically, I was trying to figure out how to regular piece a block that is normally paper pieced.  It’s not that I mind paper piecing (that much), but I wanted a different sized block.  Anyhow, after I basically made two blocks that didn’t quite fit together, I decided I had better do something simpler.

Then, this past week, I had two sources of inspiration for our October quilt.  First, on a quilting show on the telly, I saw a layout of a quilt with varying sizes of sawtooth star blocks, from small 4 inch ones to really big 16 in ones.  I liked the look of lots of big and little stars all in one quilt.

My second inspiration came from this leaf that I found on a walk.  I loved the vibrant veining and the color combination.  Fall colors are starting to show up everywhere now and I thought it would be appropriate for October to work with the shades of fall: oranges, greens, yellows, orangey reds, and deep purples.

I also liked how the green veins in the leaf were enclosed within the red orange perimeter and thought it would be fun to try to get a similar effect with the sawtooth stars.

What do you think?  It took me several tries, but I think I finally got the cutting list and sewing order right.  For the Aspire group, I would like two blocks.  One should be with a white background like the first picture above.  The second should be reversed, like the one below.

Please let me know if you have any trouble putting these together.  Each block should finish to a 16 1/2  inch square and use two fall colors in addition to white.  My directions below use the no waste way of making flying geese blocks, but you can use whatever method you prefer.  Also, if you want to make it scrappy, that would be fine as long as you stick with just two colors (plus white) in a block.  The photos are a bit dark as I was working on them at night and there aren’t as many as I would like.  I guess I must have gotten carried away with the sewing and forgot to take a picture of each step.  Still, I hope you can figure out the layout, but just ask if you have a question!

For clarity, the cutting list below is ordered beginning with the smallest star and ending with the largest.

For the 4 1/2 inch star 

Color A (or white for reverse):

One 2 1/2 inch square for the center

Four 1 7/8 inch squares for star points

White (or Color A for reverse):

One 3 1/4 inch square for geese

Four 1 1/2 inch squares for the corners

For the 8 1/2 inch star, you will need

One assembled 4 1/2 inch sawtooth star

White (Color A for reverse)

Four 2 7/8 inch squares for star points

Color B (White for reverse)

One 5 1/4 square for geese

Four 2 1/2 inch squares for corners

For the 16 1/2 inch star, you will need

One assembled 8 1/2 inch star in a star block

Color B (White for reverse):

Four 4 7/8 inch squares for star points

White (Color B for reverse):

One 9 1/4 inch square for geese

Four 4 1/2 inch squares for the corners.


Beginning with the pieces for the 4 1/2 inch star, make 4 flying geese blocks as follows.

Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each of the 1 7/8 in blocks.

Take the 3 1/4 inch square and lay two 1 7/8 inch blocks in opposite corners, lining up the drawn lines like this.

Sew a line 1/4 away on both sides of the drawn lines.

Cut on the line.

Press the seam towards the colored side.

Place another 1 7/8 inch square in the remaining corner of each piece, with the line going in the other direction.

Sew, cut, and press as before.  You will have 4 flying geese blocks that measure 1 1/2 inch by 2 1/2 inch.  Check this and do any necessary trimming before going on.  I like to trim those little triangles that stick out.

Sew the block together, trying to press towards the color side as much as possible, if you can.

Next, get your pieces for the 8 1/2 inch block.  Make four flying geese blocks in the same way as before but this time you will use the 5 1/4 inch block and the 2 7/8 inch blocks.  The finished geese should be 2 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches.

Assemble the 8 1/2 inch block as before.

Lastly, add the final layer by making four more flying geese blocks with the 9 1/4 inch square and the four 4 7/8 inch squares.  These blocks should measure 4 1/2 by 8 1/2 inches when done.

Assemble the final block together, press,  and admire.









Off the Grid

Last week we went on a biking and camping vacation to Acadia National Park.  It was a significant trip for us for a couple of reasons.  First, we got a hitch and bike rack to put on the car so that we could take our bikes with us.  After fifteen years of waiting, we are finally a biking family!  This may seem inconsequential, but biking did not come easily to the boys (nor me, if I am honest).  We wanted it to be a fun biking trip and not torture for anyone, so we waited until everyone was comfortable biking for long stretches and found it enjoyable as well.

This is also our first camping trip since moving to New England.  Previously, we usually took a fall camping trip in October sometime to western Maryland or down to Virgina.  But, the nights get a little nippy earlier in the year up here, so we decided to go in September.

And it was glorious.

We had wonderful weather for the first three days.

The biking was not too difficult.

The views were fantastic.

All the food we ate was delicious.

We wished it would last forever.

Unfortunately, it came to a halt when our older son fell off of a rock he was walking on and injured himself on some other granite rocks.  We had to get him down the mountain, a two mile bike ride, and then to a hospital for stitches.  Fortunately, he could still bike and those two miles were all downhill.  We were very thankful it was not worse than it was.  If he had fallen in a different direction, he would fallen down a very steep ravine, littered with rocks.  As it was, he only needed a few stitches and some ice cream.

Our last morning in the park started off in a rush of breaking camp as we woke to the sounds of rain on the tent.  The rest of the morning, we spent enjoying the park through the fog and an occasional downpour, which gave the park a unique beauty.  My only regret is that we did not get to the top of Cadillac Mountain on a nice day because the views from there are truly spectacular.

Instead, with the wind buffeting us around, we pretended we were summiting a much taller mountain and tried not to get blown off.

Something that I was not expecting during our vacation was the lack of a cell phone service.  I only had service when we went into town, which we did almost everyday, but other than that, I was completely off the grid.  At first it was annoying because I missed the convenience of looking things up on my phone and posting to social media.  But, I soon forgot about it and enjoyed the time I had to focus on the things we were doing without any temptation to connect with the cyber world.

Sadly, we had to come home and get back to all that comes with a busy life.  However, it’s only a matter of time before we go back.  Promise.


Long on Ambition

Someone must have flicked a switch on fall because we have not had to turn on an air conditioner in the house for a week.  It’s been heavenly to have a quiet house (no loud droning of multiple machines) and the ability to go outside without getting all sticky and hot.  I have also been able to turn on the oven and bake things.

What a wonderful thing to be able to bake without heating up the whole house!  However, summer is not quite done with us, but I can bear it now because I can feel that the end is near.  I can even see it in a few trees around us.

With the cooler weather, it was inevitable that I would start thinking about warm knitted things and that mecca of knitting events, Rhinebeck.  I did finally finish and block my Olympic sweater, yay!  I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.  It fits great and feels great.

Then, I took a look at all the other projects that I have yet to finish and picked one that I thought I could complete in time to wear in October.

Shadow knit with Miss Babs Yowza has been on my needles since 2013.  It was time to finish or repurpose the yarn.  It actually did not take me much time at all to finish the front and back pieces and now I am making slow progress on the sleeves.

The progress is slow because I found myself distracted this weekend and cast on another sweater.

#16-Geurnsey Pullover knit with Plucky Sweater.  I was so intrigued by the construction and different look of this sweater that I actually made the husband drive me to the closest big bookstore and bought the magazine.  It’s been years since I have bought a knitting magazine, but once I forked over my $6 and some cents, I wondered why I didn’t do this more often.  There are over 20 patterns in the issue, which is quite the bargain compared to buying patterns online one by one.

Anyway, being me, I have already modified the pattern from the beginning to knit the bottom body in the round.  I do what I can to avoid unnecessary purling and the thought of knitting 9 inches of stockinette on two flat pieces was a recipe for non completion.

So far, things are going well, but I haven’t reached any of the interesting bits yet.  It has made for fantastic knitting while we tackle our first full week of school this week, though.  I’ll try to keep you posted, but I have to say that as the kids get older, homeschooling takes a lot more time.