October 20, 2013

Luca Bear Baby Sweaters

Luca Bear's First Hand Knit Sweater

Exciting news! We're having a baby! We are expecting Luca Bear (that's his name...well, his actual middle name is Herbert, after a family member, but we call him Luca Bear) in early January of 2014. As soon as we knew he was a "he", I began knitting and crocheting!

I've only knit one sweater before, and that was for me. My sweater was made using a custom pattern that I created by taking various measurements of my body. Since I can't do that with Luca Bear, I searched for a simple, yet attractive, pattern that wasn't too complicated. Finding one that was knit on circular needles proved very hard to find.

I ended up using a pattern in Natural Nursery Knits by Erika Knight. I highly recommend this book and this pattern. The sweater is knit in sections. First you knit the back section; then the front section; and then the sleeves. Once they are complete you stitch the pieces together using a tapestry needle. To make the collar, you pick up stitches and knit back and forth for a few rows. That's it! Sounds a little easier in my summary than it actually was.

Once you get the hang of the pattern I'm sure you will want to knit another one. I've already begun Luca's second hand knit sweater. This time I'm mixing colors. So far, the second time around is much easier since I already have knowledge of how the pattern works and how the separately knit pieces fit together.

The beginning of the Back Panel of Luca Bear's Second Hand Knit Sweater.

March 24, 2013

Afternoon Tea Biscuits

I love afternoon tea. I took a basic drop biscuit recipe and made it a bit more special by adding dried rosemary and mint leaves.

1 2/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vanilla almond milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 tablespoons dried mint leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons dried rosemary leaves

Preheat oven to 475 degrees fahrenheit
Lightly grease a cookie sheet

In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, mint and rosemary. Add almond milk and oil and stir until combined. Make dough into golf ball sized balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes.

These biscuits are delicious when served with white tea.

March 23, 2013

Tea & Scones

I made really delicious scones this morning. They were a total experiment. I am making an effort to eliminate processed sugar from my diet, and so I used honey in these instead of white sugar. I can hear the questions...honey? That's not vegan! No, technically it is not. After weighing the pros and cons I made the personal choice that the health benefits of local honey are numerous and I will keep it in my diet. There are two local beekeepers within 10 miles of my home.

Here is my recipe:

1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
2 tablespoons water
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt...or 1/4 if you want them to be less salty
pinch of baking soda
3/4 cup nondairy butter, cold

1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup local honey (dissolved into almond milk)

2 to 3 tablespoons almond milk (for brushing the tops of scones)
cinnamon (for sprinkling on top of scones)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit
Lightly oil a cookie sheet

In a food processor blend water and Ener-G Egg Replacer until thick and creamy. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and use a pastry cutter or large fork to cut the butter into the flour. You should have a crumbly flour and butter mixture. (if you want to jazz up the recipe with dried fruit you can add those at this stage.

Add the milk and honey mixture and the egg replacer mixture and mix until just combined. Do not over mix. It will make your scones tough. Once the dough starts to come together, place on a lightly floured surface and work into two logs. Flatten the logs and cut into triangle shapes with a butter knife.

Place on the prepared cookie sheet and brush on a small amount of almond milk quickly followed by a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cook on a wire rack.

March 14, 2013

Sweater Knitting

I am very excited to show you my first ever handknit sweater! Well, the start of it. A couple of my work friends and myself signed up for a beginner's sweater knitting class at our local yarn shop, Fiber Arts Cafe. I use "local" loosely in this context. I live about 20 minutes from this shop and one of my work friends lives about 45 minutes away. We decided to go to this shop because it is a hop, skip and a jump from our work.

For my sweater I choose a green yarn that has flecks of blue. The yarn is made by Plymouth Yarn. It is their Encore Chunky. I am using US size 10 circular needles. I casted on the neck with a 16" cable and proceeded to a 29" needle.

The pattern is "The Incredible, Custom-fit Raglan Sweater. You can keep up with the progress of my sweater by visiting my Ravelry page: PamieA on Ravelry

March 2, 2013

Winery Adventures

Have I mentioned that I've recently become totally into wine? I love having a glass (or two) with dinner. Luke and I visited a local winery this morning (Heritage Vineyards Winery). We've always admired the grapes that were growing in the fields all through Mullica Hill, but never visited this little gem of a shop. 

We left with a Jersey Moscato. It is described as: "Peach-scented and honey-suckle aromas with fresh, sweet flavors of juicy stone fruit, honeydew melon, Fuji apple and ripe pears. This wine is beautifully balanced with crisp acidity and a clean finish." We bought a bottle of Cuvee Blanc as a gift. Cuvee Blanc is a mix of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Semillon, and Sauvignon Blanc. It is described as: "Aromas of citrus, melon and rip pineapple; flavors of ripe apple, lemon custard and freshly baked sugar cookies; beautifully balanced acidity focuses a long, rich finish."

The winery is family owned by Bill and Penny Heritage. When we walked in, Penny gave us a warm greeting. The shop contains tables and shelves of wine-related items, such as felted wine bottle cozies, wine racks, and grapeseed lip balm. They also have a variety of foods, such as pastries, cheese, and locally made honey (from one of our other favorite family-owned shops, Fruitwood Orchards). They have a wine tasting bar where you can sample before you purchase. The tasting fee is $5 for samples of 5 different wines that you choose from a list of 18. It was 10am when we arrived so we did not do a tasting. 

An added bonus to this already fantastic place is that they have a cow, sheep, goats and chickens out back! This totally MADE my day!
This is Samson! He is GIGANTIC but so sweet. He LOVES having the top of his head rubbed. 

The goat COULD  NOT get enough attention! The brown sheep kept licking my hand with his/her warm tongue but DID NOT want me to pet him/her.  The other sheep was the same way. 

These chickens made the most lovely chirping sound when I crouched down to talk to them.