Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Quilts and Plaids and Leaves, Oh My!

Todd and I went away for a long weekend, and while we were gone, there were some major changes outside.  Where there were leaves before, now we had nearly-empty branches.

Our driveway was almost completely obscured.

The pond was choked with fallen leaves.

The remaining leaves were so beautiful.

I pulled out my favorite plaid fleece...

...and decided it was time to "bring the outside in" and start my fall decorating. This is my favorite season, and although I try to swap out my plaid fabrics for blue/green/cream ones in the spring, I had to admit to myself this week that there wasn't much to be done to make the switch.  The house was already in full fall mode. 

The quilts are out.

The bookshelves are laden with dried seed heads, leaves, and other little outdoor mementos.

The little side tables, too.

The mantle  over the gas fireplace is done.

The kitchen has a little fall vignette by the sink:

The dining room has its fall-themed table runner and placemats:

Two weeks ago, I set up a glass cake stand with some old cheese graters on a side table in the dining room.  I used candles inside last year, but this year I used LED lights and it's much easier.  I scattered leaves and acorns around the edges and I really love it.  It's so beautiful at night with the light flickering through the holes.

So, although I meant to do a lot of all decorating this week, I didn't need to.  The house is fall-ready most of the year!

As soon as we got home, I made a cheesecake.  It had a crumble-crust bottom and crumble-sprinkle top, and a generous cup of sweetened cranberries stirred into the cheesecake filling.  The original recipe is here.  I modified it slightly by adding a handful of old-fashioned oatmeal to the crumble mix with a dash of cinnamon and 1/3 cup milk.  I'm not a cranberry fan but I have to say, it was amazing.

It was nice to curl up with a slice and enjoy the beautiful leaves outside my office window.

Have a great fall week!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Devil-May-Care in Long Underwear

I am loving the beautiful South Carolina fall weather.  It's dipped down into the 50s a few days, but for the most part, every day is sunny and in the upper 60s.  Perfect.  And oh, the trees around our house!

This is the view from my home office window.  It is positively distracting!

The cooler night temps have brought one of our big camellia trees into bloom. 

Let the winter bouquets commence!

The cats, of course, are enjoying the sun...

...and I love seeing the turkeys every day!

I've been baking a lot.  I took a basic scone recipe, added cinnamon chips (of course) and almonds, and made "sconelettes".  YUM!

I also found my go-to pumpkin cupcake recipe, through a tasty trial-and-error process.

I used gold cupcake wrappers and gold sanding sugar in a kind of fall theme.

Here's the recipe.  The cupcakes are amazing - tender, flavorful, spicy.  Of course, I added cinnamon chips, which totally took them over the top.  And the cream cheese buttercream?  Oh yeah.

I started a new knitting project, too - a pair of German-style knee socks that I'm going to wear over tights this winter.

The calf shaping is a little complex, and so is the intricately cabled design, but much of the sock is plain stockinette, so it's going rather quickly.  Hooray! 

This warm-ish weather is nice, but I've still been suffering from the chills quite a bit.  I'm 45 pounds down from last winter and 95 down total from 2 winters ago, and I am positively shivering at 65 degrees.  I've been worried about upcoming trips to colder climates, and also the inevitable slide into freezing weather here.  But thanks to a friend's suggestion, I found these today:

Super warm non-bulky layers to wear under sweaters and jeans!  I'm so excited.  I am going to be able to leave the house again!  :)

Hope you're keeping warm.  Have a great week! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Whoopie Pies and Roach Demise

Happy Halloween!  Our pets were the only ones who dressed up around here. 

I don't think they liked it very much!

Colder weather, so I've turned my attention to knitting.  Five years ago, I purchased a skein of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock, and I've had a pretty long history with that solitary skein.  In 2011, I made a pair of fingerless gloves from it. 

A simple cable, stockinette to show off the variegated colors, and two lace leaves on either side of the thumb gusset.  They were my favorite!  Sadly, I misplaced them. 

I had enough yarn left to make socks this year:

I had more yarn left (the skeins are very generous!), so I made another pair of fingerless gloves last week.  I picked something quick and simple.  Ribbing for the wrist and palm, basic thumb gusset, and a series of twisted cables for the back of the hand.

Note:  it's extraordinarily difficult to photograph your own hand with the other!  Anyway, these are soft and warm, and I've been wearing them every day.  I *still* have more yarn left from the skein, maybe even enough for another pair!

I've been baking, baking, baking.  Lots of cookies.  Chocolate chip peanut butter...

Brown sugar cinnamon chip...

...and chocolate whoopie pies with vanilla buttercream.

The whoopie pies were fine, but I absolutely loved both varieties of cookies (recipes found here and here, the latter modified to omit the frosting and add cinnamon chips).  They both used melted instead of room-temperature butter and it made the cookies delightfully rich and soft.   So good.  I highly recommend trying them.

Knitting, baking, and I've been keeping an eye on the wildlife, too.  Suddenly, birds are everywhere.  Mockingbirds, cardinals, tufted titmice, bluebirds, catbirds, and oh, so many varieties of woodpeckers! 

It's not just the birds that are suddenly coming around.

You can call them palmetto bugs, water bugs, or wood roaches, but I consider them just plain cockroaches.  I try to appreciate all insects, but I'm utterly repulsed by these.  They're about 2" long and I start seeing them - inside and out - in the fall.  We live in the south, on water, by woods, so we're basically out of luck for avoiding these creatures!  Most people here seem to have them.  I just try to keep everything very clean and keep traps out.  Thankfully, I usually only see one once every week or so, and I don't seem to see them much after we regularly get down to below-freezing temperatures.  And hey, whenever I do see one and complain to Todd, he gets to sing his 'roach song', which I think he greatly enjoys doing (song here).  So win-win? 

Anyway, I hope you're enjoying the beautiful late-fall weather.  Have a great week!