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!