Monday, October 28, 2013

The New Normal

Moving to a new state and starting new jobs has kept our family busy these past couple of months.  I don't remember much from September. I think the weather was nice. With October comes cooler days, and calmer minds. I am finally feeling like I can catch my breath at work and at home.  Callah has adjusted beautifully to her new normal.  New babysitter, new house, new situations!

Now that I don't feel so busy I want to puke all the time, I can really enjoy my weekends! We have been exploring all the Twin Cities has to offer.  

Trick-or-Treating at Como Park Zoo in St. Paul:

Apple Orchard:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Sweater... An 8 year Retrospective

Recently my mom inspired me by finishing a needlepoint project she had started when she was pregnant with my brother, Tom. Apparently the third kid is the one that puts an end to crafting.  If you know my family at all you know that this project didn't lay in some closet for three decades. No, it traveled from Peoria, to two houses in Erie, then homes in Boise, Waukesha, Erie (again) and now Akron.

So in the spirit of tieing up loose ends, I dug out a sweater that I started knitting eight years ago. It had so many tiny little mistakes in it, plus it looked like it was going to be too small for me, so when I started knitting the neck on the wrong side, I just gave up.  At the neck! Of a sweater! I shoved it in a bag and didn't think about it for eight years.

The good news is, in the intermittent years, I have become a better knitter.  I ripped out a few rows, found my spot, picked up a few dropped stitches and within the day I had finished the sweater.

Nicholas Woods

There's a lesson in here somewhere.  I suppose what I learned is that despite initial appearances, many mistakes are not as insurmountable as you first think.  When I messed up the sweater, I couldn't figure out how to fix my mistake. I thought about dragging it to a yarn store or to someone's grandma, but instead I quit.  Which was kind of par for the course in my early 20s.  I quit several jobs, colleges and relationships before I gave them a chance to bloom.  Every time I walk into Callah's bedroom her rocking chair with it's half finished strip job is a glaring reminder of my youthful enthusiasm to bite off more than I could chew and promptly spit it out.

"The time of the sweater" was a fun time in my life. I was getting to know Nick and starting out in my career. I spent many late nights at work, followed by long conversations and copious glasses of wine with my new boyfriend.  It's no wonder that the sweater started to fade in its importance.  It was something I started when I was transitioning from living with my parents after college to finding my own space in the world.

Nicholas Woods

I'm proud of this sweater, mistakes in all, and proud of myself for pulling it out of the closet, dusting it off and making the most of it.

Nicholas Woods

Friday, October 18, 2013

Crazy For My Cozy Cowl!

This summer I stumbled across Anoka, a cute little town, which proudly proclaims itself, "Halloween Capital of the World" as you drive down the main -or the only-drag, which is Main Street.

Let's just examine that claim for one minute.  Halloween capital of the... world?!? The world? Really, Anoka?  Halloween, a holiday I actually quite enjoy mainly because it is situated at my favorite time of the year, and happens to contain within it some super fun dorky teacher activities, is not the epicenter of this story.

The real point of the story is that Anoka is also home to one of the coziest yarn shops I've been to in a long time.  It's situated off of Main Street in an old building with creaky wooden floorboards and a slightly musty, pleasant smell.  The shop sells yarn and candles so the air is perfumed with deep spicy floral and the earthy scent of yarn.  Sheperdess ( is locally owned and lovely.  And even though I can't seem to finish the neck of two sweaters, I still bought some beautiful teal wool yarn without a plan or a pattern!

But since this was summer, I perused at my leisure magazines and websites until I found the perfect project.  Behold, the link to the free pattern.

Here's came out better, but she's a professional. Mine isn't too shabby.

It's long and loopy and extra cozy.  And now I'm off to finish those sweaters, I swear!

Spooooky Cooookies -- Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Frostingl

Here in Minnesota it's very vogue (and easy) to love fall.  The trees are pretty spectacular with their bright leaves, and apple orchards and pumpkin farms are around every corner.  I've been blessed with a couple of days off in payment for some long conference nights, so Callah and I set out to celebrate fall with gusto.

Our first order of business was pumpkin spice sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting.  The base of the cookies is a staple from my grandmother's cook book, Company at the Parsonage, and I added a 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie seasoning to the dough.

1 cup sugar with
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons cold water
1 beaten egg

Mix well.  

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
few grains of salt
 * 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie seasoning (optional)

Add dry ingredients to wet, mixing slowly.  Roll very thin on a lightly floured board. Cut with spooktacular cookie cutters dipped in flour.  Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes.  

For the frosting, I used about 6 oz of whipped cream cheese and about 2 cups of powdered sugar, a splash of milk and a 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie seasoning.

The overall effect was some lightly seasoned fall cookies with just the right amount of extra spice.  

To round out our days, we've been taking long walks with our sweaters on and sipping hot coffee at Starbucks (or milk) and enjoying their fireplace.
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