Sunday, September 30, 2012

Apple orchard afternoon

The wet weather today made me extra-glad that we chose last weekend to go on our annual trip to Mountain Orchard. Originally we were set to go on Saturday, but the rain (and the fact that Hannah and Kirk weren't able to go until Sunday) pushed our plans forward. A busy afternoon following a full morning at church seemed like a recipe for a gong show, but everyone rallied and we had a wonderful time. 

We go to the same orchard every year, not because it's the closest, but because of their apple cider donuts. Last year, they lost most of their crop and had to bring in apples they bought from other orchards, which customers would then just grab out of giant bins, and people still flocked to the place. Their crop this year was one of the best they've had. We were lucky to be there early enough in the season to fill our 25$ bag easily. This kid actually helped! Almost three years old and already providing valuable labour.

I'm not remotely concerned with using up the apples before they go bad. They now fit in the fridge, although it was a grocery-shop week, so space was at a bit of a premium. They're great on their own, as M demonstrates here, with nary a tooth at 11 months of age. 

So far, we've made spiced apple muffins and apple pie. Coming up: apple sharlotka, applesauce, apple honey bundt cake, and who knows what else! It's a delicious fall already.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Knits for kids

If I could, I'd knit for every pregnant friend and acquaintance of mine. With the constraints on my time these days, however, I have to knit selectively, and it does tend to be for first babies. 

Exhibit A: HB-inspired Baby Sophisticate sweater

We have friends from New Zealand who just had a baby boy in the summer; my mom, my sister Hannah and I put together a care package to welcome him to the world. My contribution was meant to be Canadian, but in an understated, non-red-Maple-Leaf way. (Not that I have anything against the maple leaf, it's just hard to knit them into things, and red wool can sometimes bleed colour. That would be no favour to a new mom.) So I worked up this version of Linden Down's Baby Sophisticate jacket, this time using the colour scheme from the famous Hudson Bay four points blanket, which I found out later was made from a blend of Canadian and New Zealand wools! Does it look familiar? I made the same one for baby M about a year ago. Incidentally, it only just now fits her, dainty thing that she is. (I miss my chubby baby!)

Exhibit B: Sweet Pea cardigan & hat

My friend Kyra and her husband Matt are having their first baby, a girl, this fall. Kyra was so sweet and generous when both my girls were born, and I knew I wanted to make something special for her daughter. This was a pattern I already had. I asked Kyra's opinion on a colour, and then I bought the most beautiful yarn I could find. It's an incredibly soft bamboo blend.

Exhibit C: Birthday Fair Isle

This one's for my very own firstborn, and as another first, D chose the colours for this sweater. She is likely unaware that most almost-three-year-old girls would name purple and pink as their favourite colours. This was a quick knit, just three weeks. For maximum wear potential, it's made of acrylic yarn. Spoiler alert: M's getting one for her birthday, too, but with pink as the main colour.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The New Edinburgh Garage Sale

This past weekend, my dear friend Jules and I attended the New Edinburgh garage sale, as we do most years. I love this community-wide event because they have great stuff for sale (it's a pretty well-to-do area), and it's not as overwhelming as its springtime counterpart, the Great Glebe garage sale. Some of this year's deals:

 Lace tablecloth-2$
Children's books- 3 for 1$
Maeve Binchy books (I'm collecting them all)- 1$ each

The tea cup on the left was a bazaar find that I gave D for her first Christmas; she's only been allowed to use it once or twice. The one on the right looked so similar that I couldn't pass it up, and like its counterpart, it was 5$. It's for M. I'm excited for future tea parties!

I actually gasped when I saw this. You know what D asked for as a birthday cake? A Madeline cake. She loves Madeline, the books, the animated series. The child will lose her mind when she gets this for her birthday. It's made of fleece, so she can even wear it in the winter if she likes. The kicker is that I bought it from a little girl named Madeline, and it was 5$.

Madeline included the Belle shoes as part of the Madeline costume, because she always wore them together. At another house, I saw a box full of Polly Pocket paraphernalia, much of it what is laughably called "vintage". I don't consider anything from the 90's to be vintage yet, personally. The thing is, though, it's tough to find the tiny original Polly Pocket dolls, presumably because of the huge choking hazard they present. D loves them and has never attempted to put them in her mouth. (M is kept far away when D plays with them, which takes place on a table at Grandma's house). I've never seen this many of them at a garage sale, only on eBay for a ridiculous price. Here we have eleven of them, with two play sets, and the lot cost me 3.50$.

Finally, a fall/spring coat for D. It's a good size (3T), has sweet pockets and a hood that actually fits. 50 cents. I kid you not.

It was a great day, and a fitting wrap-up to this year's garage sale season!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Birthday Prezzie: Cup Cake Kit

When I was a kid, I think my parents used to give me and my siblings ten dollars to buy a birthday present for a friend whose party we would attend. At the time I always wondered, what in the world can I buy them for only 10$? Now that I'm a parent, I think 10$ per kid per party is a huge amount! (With four kids at five or six parties each per year? That's 200$ a year!)

D and I have attended birthday parties and baby showers here and there, and often I've knit something for the guest of honour. These days, with my knitting time quite restricted, I'm trying to be creative in other ways.  Sewing takes less time, but still a few hours, and there's no guarantee that it'll work out. We're attending the 4th birthday party of a sweet neighbour friend today, and here's what we've done for her gift:

It's a cup-cake kit. A friend posted a link to a one-minute chocolate cake recipe on Facebook awhile ago, which I obviously made immediately. It was really good, and the process reminded me of my Easy-Bake oven from years past. I remember loving the tiny cakes I could make almost by myself (until I got older and realized I could make a whole cake in roughly the same amount of time!). I don't know what happened to my Easy-Bake oven, and I don't know if my neighbour has one, but I do know they have a microwave. Here's how I assembled the kit; everything but the ingredients came from Dollarama:

-1 small plastic tub
-1 packet of 40 smallish ziploc bags
-1 mug with spoon
-assorted sprinkles (Bulk Barn)
-a card

First, measure the dry ingredients of the recipe into three different bowls; I measured flour into each bowl first, then sugar, then salt, then cocoa. Then I whisked each one, then sifted it to get rid of some cocoa clumps. I transferred each lot to a ziploc bag, and did the same for the sprinkles before writing out the recipe on a card.

The only remotely time-consuming parts of this are mixing the ingredients and writing out the instructions. Between that and picking up the necessary kit components, I think the whole thing came together in about an hour and a half, and cost about 6$.

I hope she likes it! Now I feel like a cup cake for breakfast.