Thursday, October 14, 2010


I am amazed that I'm not still stuck on top of a mountain.

A few weekends ago we (Mr. Owl and I, and some "Ultimate" friends) hiked climbed Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park, Maine.  It was wild. Much more intense than I thought it would be.  It was a test of my fear of heights, as a great deal of it (particularly Knife's Edge) involves scrambling up and over large boulders flanked by shear cliffs.  Frightening but well worth it.

It was a gorgeous day, mild yet sunny and without a cloud in the sky.  The view from the top was spectacular.
Chimney Pond at base of mountain.

The climb upwards begins.

A beautiful day for a climb.

Knife's Edge, the precarious "trail" along the mountain ridge

Monday, October 11, 2010

before and after: a spinning wheel made pretty


Mr. Owl and I gave this lovely spinning wheel, on loan from his aunt, a face lift by sanding her down and coating her with tung oil.  Isn't she pretty?! 

This will be her second appearance at the Maritime Handspinner's Retreat.  This year, she'll fit right in with all the other gorgeous wheels.  She did look a bit scrappy last year (see photo on left).

She and I need to get some quality time together in prep for the retreat.  I've been a bit neglectful as of late.  Sorry Miss Emeline!  I promise to give you the love and attention you deserve.  I've even gotten my hands on a copy of Spin Control, so that I can learn how to enhance our relationship and the offspring we produce.  [Who knew anthropomophizing spinning wheels could be so easy and so funny?]

p.s. I love Spin Control.  It's a fabulous resource and worthy investment.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

easy-peasy creamcheese icing

This is my standby creamcheese icing recipe.  It's from Canadian Living magazine.  I love the calculator for multiplying the recipe according to how many cupcakes you've got.

This is for 12 cupcakes.  I had extra leftover; I only needed 3/4 of the recipe.  I suppose it all depends on how much you love icing!

1/4cup (50 mL) cream cheese, softened
1/4cup (50 mL) butter, softened
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
1-1/2cups (375 mL) icing sugar
 Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  Transfer to piping tube.  Ice those cupcakes!  

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pumpkin spice

I love autumn.  Especially because I get to drink copious amounts of apple cider, be re-inspired to get out the knitting needles, and eat pumpkin treats. I cannot wait to carve a pumpkin, mostly so I can toast the seeds.

On a recent roadtrip to NY, we made numerous pit stops for Starbuck's pumpkin spice lattes.  I rarely buy Starbuck's pricey coffee, but am so glad I made a concession for this trip.  Delish! 

As I've still got pumpkin spice on the brain, I decided to whip up a batch of pumpkin cupcakes for a friend. I followed Martha's recipe.

It says it makes 18 cupcakes. I ended up with 23 regular-sized cupcakes and 6 mini's. This meant more to share!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (approx. 450ml) [or pumpkin pie filling]

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.
2. In a large bowl [food processor], mix together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and mix until smooth. Mix in pumpkin puree. [Batter go too big here so transfered to large bowl from food processor to mix in pumpkin].
3. Pour batter into muffin tins with cupcake liners [or greased muffin tin], filling each about halfway.
4. Bake at 350F until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.
5. Ice with creamcheese icing.  Sprinkle cinnamon on top.
6. Enjoy!

A few modifications:
- I used a food processor for mixing.
- I used salted butter.  Usually i omit salt if I do this, but forgot this time around.  Fortunately, the cupcakes didn't end up tasting overly salty.
- I used pumpkin pie filling instead of straight-up pumpkin.  This meant that extra sugar and spices were added to the cupcakes, but they still ended up tasting great!

These were easy to make and sooo delicious.  Even Agatha couldn't resist checking them out.  She didn't eat any but I'm sure she would be a lover of pumpkin spice, if we let her!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

vintage photobooth!

What a delightful discovery... a free photobooth you can visit from your own home!  I found the link at Poppytalk via Smile and Wave.  Check out La PhotoCabine for some snap-happy fun.

Monday, September 27, 2010

my dream home

I'm on a bit of a knit video kick. This is the most cuddly commercial I've ever seen! Can you imagine all of the stitches that went into this?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

knitting at the edge of the world

You may have noticed the reference to my favourite hobby at the end of the tiny stop-motion animation video I posted on Friday.  Here is another cute video, this one entirely devoted to the knit obsession. Enjoy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Teeny tiny stop-motion animation

I love stop-motion videos.  This one I discovered over at the Pretty Little Things blog. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Autumn equinox (and a cute video)

Happy first day of Autumn! I'm excited for weather cool enough to wear handknit woolens, sip hot apple cider, and carve pumpkins!

I wanted to share this amazing video. Enjoy, friends!

Monday, September 6, 2010

clean as a whistle: DIY laundry soap

Laundry soap can be expensive and filled with unknown chemicals and fragrances.  Why waste time in the grocery store cleaning aisle, when you can make your very own laundry soap!

It's crazy simple (only 3 ingredients!) and works like a charm.

What you need:
  • 1 cup borax (naturally-occurring mineral; cleaning agent)
  • 1 cup washing soda (sodium carbonate; water softener)
  • 2 cups finely grated soap (use up an old bar or castile (olive oil) soap bar)
  • mason jar (or other) and airtight lid to store finished soap

Borax and washing soda can be found alongside your laundry detergents in your grocery store.

I've used both Ivory soap (which grates nicely, but has additives) and Kiss My Face pure olive oil soap (produces curly green soap strings which look odd) and both work well.  Amanda Soule of Soulemama uses Dr. Bronner's castile soap bars with success (see her laundry soap recipe here).  Her recipe is the same as the one I used from David Suzuki Foundation's Queen of Green.

What to do:
Grate soap bar using your cheese grater.  Don't worry about getting soap on your grater - it's soap and will clean your grater before washing off.  Measure and mix three ingredients together in a jar.  So fast and simple!

Washing instructions:
Shake before use to make sure all ingredients are mixed.
  • 1 Tbsp for small load
  • 2 Tbsp for large load

Honestly, you don't need more!  Laundry detergent companies want us to use more so that we'll buy more!

We're several loads in, and I'm loving it!  Who doesn't love to save $$ and feel good knowing you made something yourself!

Optional: fabric softener
Throw in a cup of vinegar into the rinse cycle.. I have yet to try this, but apparently it does not leave a vinegar smell on clothes.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

missed connections

I'm totally enamoured with the Missed Connections print collection by Sophie Blackall.  They are based off of "missed connections" listings on craigslist.  Clever and cute, right?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

epitome of summer

Happy first of September!  It's hard to believe that autumn weather is just around the corner, particularly with the heat wave we're experiencing. 

A few weekends ago Mr. Owl (my night owl boyfriend, aka Mr. Kitchen-Crafty) and I spent an idyllic summer weekend visiting family and friends. It was a weekend filled to the brim with good food, wonderful company, and some craftiness too (hurray!).

The weekend schedule was as follows:

1. A long bus ride made fun with knitting and audiobooks (the local library is a great source of roadtrip fun).

Working on my Shalom cardigan.

2. Crepes with fresh blackberry jam and maple syrup.

(photo from weheartit)

3. Picking the last of Mr. Owl's mum's basil and making pesto! It's my favourite!  Honestly so simple to make.

dill beans love posing with pesto

4. Extreme croquet (crocket as it's been nicknamed) in the woods - trees, logs and rocks made for interesting obstacles.

Scared to look. Did I make the shot?

5. Visit to the beaver pond, which turned into one of my top canadian wildlife moments ever: baby beaver hanging out only a meter or two away, chewing on a log and sticking it's tongue out at us!  I only regret not having my camera with me, but I doubt that I would have had sense enough to actually use it. That beaver was mesmerizing!

(photo from weheartit)

6. Blackberry picking from a wild patch.  Now to decide what to make: jam, pie, juice...

(picture from weheartit)

7. Handmade body butter and body bars, which we named Baby Beaver Body Butter after our fabulous encounter.

Recipes for pesto and body butter and balm coming up!  Stay tuned!

Hope you're enjoying the final days of summer!

Monday, August 23, 2010

a birthday, some cupcakes, and sparklers ... oh my!

Fun birthday celebrations this weekend for a dear friend!  The party had a coffee theme, yum!  I contributed mocha coffee cupcakes that I made from this great recipe from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski (found via the how to eat a cupcake blog). 

They were topped with this simple creamcheese icing (I substituted coffee for the vanilla).  These cupcakes are so moist and the chocolate-coffee combo is blissful!  These will definitely be made again in the near future.  Next time I would try a different icing as the creamcheese somewhat overpowered the coffee.

cupcakes cooling before frosting.

I couldn't resist modeling the cupcakes with my birdie salt & pepper shakers (from Urban Outfitters last December).  I love them so much!

Happy Birthday!

We enjoyed some more fireworks and a near-full moon...

...and played with sparklers too!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

when the moon hits your eye...

I am in love with homemade pizza. I have always loved pizza, but not with the same level of passion that I have for the pizza that Mr. kitchen-crafty has been making. He is on a quest to make the tastiest pizza he can, in the style of his beloved New York pizza, and I am along for the ride. And what a sweet ride it has been!

Apparently one trick to amazing pizza is to use a baking stone and to keep ingredients to a minimum, i.e. homemade tomato-basil sauce with cheese.  The little extra is crust stuffed with creamcheese!  I'm thinking goat-cheese stuffed crust would also be incredible.  Perhaps I can convince him that we need to work our way through the cheese alphabet.  Mmm...  

Edit: This site is a wonderful resource. It includes a recipe and detailed suggestions for how to improve your pizza.  Making good pizza involves experimentation and lots of trial and error, fortunately each trial is incredibly delicious!

p.s. Sorry for the crummy photo quality. We gobbled our way through the pizza faster than I could snap pictures of it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

canned goodness: dill beans

Until a few years ago, I ignorantly thought that dill pickles were made exclusively from cucumbers.  To my delight many other veggies taste incredible when pickled with dill.  Green beans, fiddleheads (baby ferns), and carrots are my personal favourites.

With dill growing on our deck and my boyfriend's mother's incredible generosity with her garden produce, it was the perfect opportunity for me to start dabbling in the pickling arts.

Pickling is not overly difficult.  Unless you're me and you have the penchant for: getting the wrong size mason jar lids, forgetting to ensure you have enough vinegar, forgetting to pick and add the dill until after the jars are sealed, or doing other such foolish things. 

The ingredients are simple and there are many recipes to be found online (I believe I followed this one).  And if you know an experienced pickler be sure to seek their advice.

After letting them stew for a week my dill beans were ready to taste... and success!  They turned out much better than I anticipated.  I'm inspired to head back to the garden/kitchen to try again!

What are your favourite fruits or veggies to preserve?  I'm on the lookout for more ideas!

Friday, August 13, 2010

yarn on display

Despite the hypothetical (ahem) argument that a massive substantial-sized stash of yarn is not practical, I would beg to disagree. Stash yarn has a destiny. It will one day clothe a loved one (or a loved one's teapot* perhaps) and will be utterly indispensible and purposeful.

(*teapot knit for a friend back in 2008 using Noro Kureyon yarn, that doubles quite nicely as a bonnet - for that I'll leave you to your imagination) 

In the meantime, I have decided to decorate with said stash yarn to inspire creativity, and also to stem my desire to acquire additional skeins of so-soft-it-makes-me-want-to-swim-in-a-pool-of-it yarn.

This is Canadian-made Fleece Artist Peter Rabbit yarn: handpainted, 70% angora, 20% nylon, 10% wool.  Divine.

Look who else has discovered this delightful fiber nest.  This mama sheep and her lamb were handfelted by my boyfriend's talented mother who knows my crafty loves (and addictions) well!

Any suggestions for what I could make with this one skein of angora?

Friday, August 6, 2010

lighting up the night

Last weekend we celebrated the New Brunswick Day long weekend at the camps/cottages of friends.  Our adventure included swimming, BBQing, campfires, and a sweet summer wedding.  Such wonderful times spent with friends and family, which after the craziness of the past few weeks, was much appreciated.   

And much to my delight, there was an incredible firework show (as mentioned previously, I LOVE these things)!  One of the most spectacular shows I've seen.  Here are a few photos of the beauties, taken by my kitchen crafty (and camera crafty!) boyfriend.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ode to Amélie

How delightful to discover this homage on Design*Sponge to one of my absolute favourite movies! 

If you haven't seen this darling movie (Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain), it's a must!

And if you have seen Amélie but haven't seen Delicatessen (made by the same director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet), add it to your to-do list. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

on pause

Sorry for the blog silence.  This week has been filled with much needed quiet, as we have been coping with the loss of a dear loved one.  Thanks to all my lovely friends and family who have given nothing but love and kindness.

Not being much in the snap happy mood, I don't have much in the way of photos to share with you.  I will share however, some sweet photos sent to me by a friend who knew that the sight of my rapidly growing baby tomatoes would make me smile. 

When times are difficult, what cheers you up?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kitchen craftiness part 3

There has been a relentless stream of kitchen creativity happening this summer.  It all started with a simple batch of snickerdoodles and the need to cut grocery costs.  But it has developed into a fabulous adventure into the world of baked goods (we've entered Pastryland, a new take on the original). 

While I've been doing my part by making ever-so-simple snickerdoodles and bread (in a breadmachine I confess), my boyfriend has been upping the ante (as you can see from kitchen crafty posts one & two).

His treats this week were twofold: lemon meringue pie and banana cream pie!

If he continues at this rate, I'll have turned into a giant pastry (pie perhaps, or dare I say tart?) by summer's end.  No complaints here.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Summer bounty

Happy Canada Day and Independence Day!  Two fun ways to celebrate the beginning of July.  Any event that includes fireworks is at the top of my list.

Our recent roadtrip to Long Island for my boyfriend's family reunion was wonderful.  I adore his family; they are such welcoming and lovely people. The gorgeous weather and delicious eats made for a perfect weekend.

During our visit I got to stop by the Hamlet Organic Garden (HOG) to admire their harvest.

Tasty fruit...

...onions too...

...even kiwi! (although these were not fruiting at the time, apparently they are crazy delicious)...

...and highbush blueberries (yum!).

A clever and efficient way to wash produce: old bathtubs set up on stands.

And some exciting veggie news from closer to home (from our small deck garden in fact!)... our tomato plant has produced it's first fruit! It's tiny but oh so glorious.

Hope you're enjoying a lovely and fruitful start to summer too!