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One Cool Day at a Time

So far, this has been a really hot summer.  We were told when we moved to New England that it is normal here for houses not to have central air conditioning.  Why install an expensive air conditioning system when it will only be used for a few weeks out of each year?  Well, all I have to say is that we have most certainly wanted/needed air conditioning for more than a few weeks so far this summer and the summer is far from over.  Although we have some window AC units, we are not able to cool every room in the house with them which means some rooms are pretty much being unused during the hot days.  One of those rooms contains my sewing/quilting supplies.  As a result, even though I usually sew quite a bit over the summer when our daily schedule is lighter, I have not been sewing much lately, except on days when the temps don’t reach 80 degrees.  Those days have been few, but with much relief, we have had several this week.

This past weekend, as soon as the highs dipped below 80, I started sewing.  Right now, I am working on getting caught up with Amy Gibson’s Sugar Block Club.  She releases one block pattern a month.  I abandoned the project back in March when the kitchen renovation took over our lives.  Here finally is April.

May

June

And today I finished July.

My goal is to combine these blocks with the blocks from her free Craftsy Block of the Month class from 2012 to make a new Queen sized quilt for the guest bedroom.  As long as the weather is cool and my schedule stays uncluttered, I’ll be attempting to make a block a day until I am caught up.  The blocks are fun to make and there is a good deal of variety, so it does not get boring.  I also like the scale of the blocks.  They are not so small as to be fiddly, but also not too big and cumbersome.  I’m trying to use scraps as much as I can as I feel they have been getting out of control lately.  Hopefully, this will not make them look odd together?

Of course, the forecast is calling for another hot spell, so I’ll have to find something else to occupy my time for a few days.  Maybe this will help.

 

There are two days left to decide what I am going to knit during the Olympics and as usual, I am in the throes of indecision.   Should I knit a sweater, a shawl, or socks? It has to be easy enough to knit while watching the Olympics, so I dug out all my worsted weight and chunky yarn, but now I am concerned that it will be too hot to knit something chunky in August.  Maybe a lace shawl would be better?  But lace can be complicated and the last thing I want is to lose my place in a chart while watching the swimming finals.  I could just knit plain socks and see how many I can churn out over the course of 17 days.  I did this with mittens four years ago.  Hmm.  The only thing I know for sure is right now is that I will be casting on something new during the opening ceremonies on Friday.  What about you?  Do you knit or craft while you watch tv?

 

Summer Happenings

Summer has officially arrived here. School is done for now (well, except for a couple of things that we year round). To celebrate, we took the boys to Hershey Park for a day of stand-in-line-for-an-hour followed by a minute-of-excitement. The husband and I seemed to be the only ones who minded this imbalance.

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I actually got a little bit of knitting done while we were at the park. The boys went to play at the water playground by themselves, much to the anxiety of my mother’s heart. They are really growing up fast!

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Back at home, I have been making good progress on my ruby red test knit. I am quite loving this breathless dk yarn by Shalimar and am really looking forward to being finished with this project. We’ve had some days over 90 degrees recently and that’s just too hot to have a pile of wool in my lap!

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In other summery news, I have decided to take the plunge and open an etsy shop! For now, I am selling stitch markers. In my first few days, thanks to my loyal Ravelry friends in the ThreeBagsFull group, I sold almost the entire stock I had prepared, which was really surprising and exciting and scary to me.

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The shop is called 1514Homemade, a name that the older son came up with years ago. I can’t remember how it came about, but we were discussing some baked yumminess that I had made and how we could sell them. That lead to a discussion on what we would name the shop and he suggested 1514Homemade, which incorporates our house number. I considered naming it after myself or the blog, but really, every one here in this house has a hand in the things that get made. The boys have helped me a lot with the stitch markers by threading beads and helping with organization. The husband is an invaluable resource on all things related to materials science and production processes. Any venture that happens is truly a group effort here.

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Right now, the shop has a few items left, but if you look at the sold items and see something that you want, you can always submit a custom order request. For now, I am thinking of updating the shop once a month or so. Eventually, I may try selling other things besides stitch markers as well. Quilts or pillows, maybe? Or the odd knitted item. We’ll just have to see where this leads me. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

So, how is your summer going? What new things are you trying?

Stuck in Summer

Last week, we started school. Our first day of school looked like this.

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Those smiles lasted for most of last week. One of them faded on Friday.

Still, it’s a new week and still a fairly new school year. We’re just getting past the introductory reviewish-type things and beginning to get into the meat of some subjects. All of our sports activities have begun, and other lessons and extracurricular activities are just getting ramped up. Despite all of this, it still feels like it should be summer.

Partly, it’s the weather.

But, it may also be that we went peach picking and still have a heap of peaches to devour.

Peaches are a definitely a summertime fruit, and as long as we have peaches, it will be still summer in this house. I’ve made a lovely Johnnycake cobbler from Baking with Julia. This is one of the recipes I missed with Tuesdays with Dorie while we were on vacation.

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Just ignore the fact that it is getting too dim to take really good pictures after dinner. That cobbler just screams summer, no matter the lighting situation. It was delicious warm from the oven, but could have used more fruit underneath.

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I also tried doing some little baked peaches with an almond crust from Ripe by Nigel Slater. Don’t be fooled by its humble appearance, we loved these and they were super simple to make. You can find one version here. I added some crystallized ginger to the almond mixture, which added a nice kick.

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Oh, I almost forgot, I also made a few of my peach crumb buns. Summer is not summer without these in our house. One of these days, I’ll get around to writing up a recipe for these. Um, maybe next year.

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I still have a few peaches left. Some of these are destined to be bourbon peach butter to help us remember summer in the middle of winter because, despite the weather forecast of 90 degrees for this week, I know that autumn will be here soon. However, while there are ripe peaches in the house, it will still be summer here.

Pent up Energy

Today, I woke with the urge to get some things done that I have been putting off for a little while. Berry season has finally arrived (a few weeks late) and I found myself with quite a built up bounty from sales at the store and a gift of a friend’s CSA share for the week. At 9:30 this morning, my kitchen counter looked like this.

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Now, it looks like this.

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Blueberry-raspberry jam, Strawberry-rhubarb jam with Grand Marnier, and a Bluberry-nectarine pie. Not bad for one morning’s work, huh? Have I mentioned how much I love freshly made jam? Warm jam on top of peanut butter on top of homemade white bread=heaven!

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Similarly, my dining room table which would normally be strewn with school books and papers, looks like this.

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I’ve got a backlog of new knitting projects that are just waiting be cast on. There’s lots of swatching, stash diving, and yarn winding going on. Stay tuned, I’ve got some big plans for the summer.

A Double Dose of Summer Flavors

Summer produce is at its height and last night for dinner we had some of the best food that summer has to offer.

First, we had warm scallop salad with corn, nectarines, and basil from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.

This is the first time I have ever bought and cooked sea scallops.  They were amazing.  I was worried while I was cooking them that I was overcooking them.  Then, I worried while we were eating them that I had undercooked them and we’d all get really sick.  But, I worried for no reason.  I followed Dorie’s timing exactly and they were cooked perfectly.  I have to admit that the recipe was a little intimidating at first glance with all of its different components, but it worked out rather nicely and nothing was overly difficult.  From beginning to serving, it took about an hour.

Now, this was definitely pricier than out average meal, and I probably would have skipped it if my Dad was not here visiting from out of town.  It is a great special occasion summer dinner since most of the components, except for the last minute cooking of the scallops and nectarines, can be made ahead of time.  Then, all you have to do is arrange everything nicely on the plate and serve it.

Next, for dessert, I finally got around to making the berry galette from Baking with Julia.

I have to say that this was probably the smallest little galette I have ever made.  It was barely 6 inches in diameter, but it was delicious.  I loved the texture that the cornmeal added and I also loved  that it was all gone in one night; no leftovers to get soggy for the next day.  We had it with homemade peach ice cream and it was a wonderful summer dessert.

Now, I still have the other half of the galette dough and I am definitely thinking of something peachy for that one.  I still have about 20 peaches left to deal with.  But, it may have to wait for a couple of days.  We have a busy couple of days coming up with museums, historic sites, and a baseball game, not to mention eating out at great restaurants.  However, you should go make one of these galettes!  You can find the recipe here and here.  Have a great weekend everyone!