Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Funfetti, Fawns, and Foxes...Oh My!

Late last week, Todd removed the lawn mower from the carport, mowed for about an hour, and came back to the carport to find this:

That's right...ANOTHER tiny fawn!  Apparently the mothers leave them for 8 hours at a time so they can go feed/build up their milk.  What a sweet face!

He disappeared after a few hours, but our mailman told us that she'd seen him there the day before as well. 

I don't think it's the same fawn, but here's Mama with a baby next door, the very next day:

Another newcomer is this red-tailed fox.  I'm afraid that he might have sarcoptic mange, judging by his thin, scraggly tail.  I've only seen him once, but our neighbor sees foxes all the time!

This Cooper's Hawk has been making the rounds recently...

...as has this Merlin, so similar to the Cooper's Hawk but much smaller.

Our resident crows are not happy about the hawks and owls who visit our trees.  They're very territorial and I can hear them squawking daily, usually two or three at a time.  I've seen them chase owls and hawks from tree to tree, but normally I see them just strutting around...

...or sitting like lords in our trees, scanning the branches for interlopers.

The beds surrounding our house are full of these tiny toads lately...

New life is everywhere!  And our "old faithfuls" are around, too.  Here is Augustus, assuming his daily position:

Because of the heat and the mosquitoes I haven't been out too much, though.  I've been inside, and when I'm not working, I'm still keeping busy.  I made this amazing cake last week:

It's a homemade funfetti cake with sour cream chocolate frosting from Hummingbird High (recipe here).  I already have a favorite vanilla cake recipe, but oh, this cake...

It's fairly basic, reminiscent of an old-fashioned birthday cake.  The frosting is delightfully tangy.  I'm definitely going to make it again.

I planned my next knitting project:  Birdie Fair Isle Cardigan (link here).

Resisting the urge to copy the exact same colors as the sample yet again, mine will have a light green body, white yoke, dark grey birds, and a marigold trim around the yoke.

Ignore that pale peach skein pair at the top.  I had hoped it would be closer to cream than peach, but it isn't, so I'll have to order a bit more in white.  I'm very motivated because I recently took a Craftsy class called Fit To Flatter.  It teaches you how to evaluate your body type, take your own measurements, analyze a sweater schematic, and determine where and how to make changes to custom-fit it to your body.  For example, the cardigan above is knit "flat" (back in forth on the needles, not in the round), top-down.  Not my preferred construction.  I'm going to take a basic sweater pattern that's bottom-up in the round, add the fair isle yoke, and then steek it to make it a cardigan.  Scary!  I have to wait a while to start.  I've always held my yarn incorrectly with knitting, tensioning with forefinger and thumb, and I'm an incredibly tight knitter as well.  I've fallen into the habit of knitting every night while Todd works on his computer, so have had some real marathon sessions lately.  I realized that my thumb and forefinger was feeling a little stiff and sore, so I started knitting with either my middle finger or continental-style, with my left hand.  Still, the feeling persists.  No tingling, no numbness, no real pain, but I feel stiffness and a little weak in those areas.  I will probably take a three-week break to see if it makes a difference. 

Tabitha, however, will make sure my yarn doesn't get lonely!

Have a great week!

Monday, August 17, 2015

More Signs 'O The Times?

I've reached the time of the year when I feel like I can't take one more hot day.  I think about chilly nights snuggled under quilts, fires in the fireplace, wonderful thick and flavorful autumn stews, falling leaves, crisp air, and hand-knit sweaters.  When living in Indiana I suffered from this in August, but it's a little worse in South Carolina.  True, it's not nearly as hot or humid as Indianapolis, but oh, the warm temperatures start in March here!  So technically it's been summer for 6 months, and I am perfectly justified in my angst.  Fall doesn't start in earnest here until late October/early November, so I'm feeling particularly antsy.


There are signs.

Our turkeys are back.  They are here early fall until mid-spring every year. 

Our Northern Cardinals have begun their fall molt.

Growing new feathers is itchy business!

They look a little funny now, but this cardinal will have a nice new growth of bright red feathers before too long.

Our local white-tail deer, which make themselves fairly scarce in the summer, are suddenly everywhere.

Fattening up for winter, perhaps?  We've seen lots of older babies, so identified by their size and their protective white spots.

We've also seen a lot of newborns.  Todd saw one that must've been just a day or so old drop to the ground in front of him as he was taking out the dog.  As soon as the dog started barking, the fawn abandoned his pretense and dashed off.

I saw another newborn this morning, huddled against my neighbor's house by the woods.

I didn't see the mother nearby, but the newborn was able to climb shakily to his feet, get his bearings, and dash into the woods.  A little fall magic.

It's not just the fawn-a (ahem) that tells me that summer is nearly over.  The flora does, too.  Our fall-blooming liriope is spiking purple flowers.

Nandina berries are taking on a bit of a blush.

Sweet Autumn Clematis is starting to bud.

And, Lord have mercy, the first of the leaves are starting to change colors.

All of these things must mean that despite a seemingly ceaseless succession of 90+ degree days, fall must be coming soon.  I'll just have to be patient.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Knitter's Lament

I was recently organizing my craft room and thought, What am I going to do with all this yarn?  Years ago I was in a series of mini-skein swaps, and accumulated quite a stash of them.

Some are wound up nicely:

Some are missing labels but still relatively intact:

And many, sadly, are rolled into rapidly unraveling balls.

My original plan was to make a gigantic garter stitch blanket.  Each mini made one triangle.

I decided to go for the gold and make a king-sized blanket.  I got a few rows in (width, of course!) and decided that I hated garter stitch.  I tried to cut out individual triangles to salvage the yarn but was wildly unsuccessful.  Now the blanket is folded to hide the gaping holes and put away.

Next, I decided to make a "hexi-puff" blanket.  I like stockinette stitch.

I didn't knit the ends properly and so they're loose and baggy.  Alas, I can't quite figure out how to unravel them, so they're put away, out of sight, so as to minimize my knitter's guilt:  you wasted yarn!  And now I have to decide what to do with all of these yarn skeins.  Knit a million pairs of wildly-striped crazy-quilt-style socks and hats?   Try the blanket idea again?  Those triangles are growing on me.  I'll have to wait and see!

Meanwhile, although I have, ahem, a generous amount of yarn, I can't resist buying a little bit more. 

This deep blue yarn is for a hat/mitten set for winter.  We'll eventually be in a cooler climate, right?  :)

This is a group of superwash (machine washable) fingering weight yarns.  I wanted to try out the Cascade brand and I love it.  Beautiful colors, machine washable, super soft, and reasonably priced.

I splurged on a luxury skein.  I love how multifaceted the color is.  It's different from every angle, but not so busy that it will detract from cables or lace.

One of my anniversary gifts from Todd was this little ceramic fox bowl.

You'll notice the holes in the side.

It's meant to hold a balled skein of yarn.  The strand feeds through the side...

...or through one of the holes on the other side.

This means that my yarn balls are no longer bouncing around on the floor when I knit, accumulating a fuzzy coat of cat and dog hair.  I love it! 

To assuage my guilt over knitterly issues, I practiced thrift this week.  I gathered up some discarded clippings from the parking lot of my local YMCA and made some beautiful bouquets:

I picked up this large framed oil painting at Salvation Army for four dollars!

See?  It all evens out.  :)

I've been doing some baking as well.  We of a certain age have all probably seen this Seinfeld episode.  I've never made chocolate babka before, but the recipe I found was a little intimidating...two cups of butter?  Almost three pounds of chocolate?  It was a lengthy three-rise process, too.  I felt exhausted just reading it.  Deb of Smitten Kitchen simplified it into chocolate buns, and Annie of Annie's Eats tweaked it again.  I decided to give it a try.

The dough was really wet, but it rose nicely and I didn't have any trouble rolling it out.  And look at that divine chocolate-cinnamon streusel!

Instead of rolling it up and tucking it into a loaf pan, you slice it up like you're making cinnamon rolls.  Each little dough circle goes into a well-greased muffin tin.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but oh, what a rise!  The resulting buns were beautiful, even though I forgot to set the timer again and they got a little too brown for my taste.

Have a look inside.

I didn't think I'd like chocolate and cinnamon together, but the cinnamon is very subtle.  These were really good and you could take it over the top with a simple cream cheese glaze.  YUM.

Have a great week!