Sunday, September 09, 2007

Lots of pics to share!

So, do I need to tell you how busy life has been lately? So much has happened in the last 3 weeks and I've really had good excuses for not blogging. I've been a very good girl, I have.

I will try not to bore you with details, but we managed to come up with a new financial plan which enabled us to get all our school shopping done on time and without going into debt! Yay for no added debt! I think I shopped every night for two weeks straight and really built up quite an immunity to it. The idea of shopping doesn't appeal to me quite as much any more. Although there is that Coach bag back at Plato's Closet that I can't stop thinking about...

I've also managed to stay reasonably on top of the chores in the past near-month as well. I had a bit of a slump when two of my sisters and my brand-spanking-new niece, Baby Bee, came to stay for 6 days, but that was just because I was too busy staying up until wee, unholy hours of the morning talking and staring at the loveliest of babies. Have I shared pics of her here? I don't think just in case:

There she is with her Dad. I just love the sight of a man holding a baby on his chest like that. Makes me weepy.

Man-Cub wasn't too sure about holding his new cousin. He wasn't sure about whether he was happy to have a cousin who's a girl. But he is sure he's happy not to be the youngest in the family any more!

This is my favorite picture: the three cousins, Red Headed Snippet, Man-Cub, and Baby Bee. Dharma and Vance have been trying for so long to become parents and we're all just over the moon for them!

So, somehow between getting ready for school, keeping the house running smoothly and enjoying a long visit with dear ones, I've managed to embark on a few overdue adventures. I started (and even successfully completed one) two projects I've been wanting to do for a long time!

Several months ago I decided I was going to make a kick-ass cobbler before Summer's End. I saw a blueberry cobbler being made on my favorite cooking show and afternoon tv indulgence, America's Test Kitchen, and I knew it was just a matter of time before I made it mine.

My first attempt was less than stellar. It was tasty and enjoyable, yes, but not quite "kick-ass". I sadly ignored the "fruit desserts" chapter of my beloved ATK cookbook for several weeks, pained by the memory of my failure. I was determined never to face a cobbler again.

But then, fate intervened. EGOD (Evil Grandmother of Doom or those of you just tuning in) made her usual mad, mid-summer purchase of more peaches than any human being can possibly eat before they all go bad and literally left a great bag of them on my front steps. She does this every year. She has tried to do it with broccoli rabe but stopped when she found out I refuse to cook it. She also used to do it with grapefruit and oranges when she lived in Florida only then she used the mail; every 3 months or so a huge cardboard box full of citrus fruits would turn up, thrilling our mailman to no end, I'm sure.

Anyway, I had peaches galore slowly turning to mush on my kitchen island. The scent was intoxicating, both to us and the fruit fly scouts who no doubt spotted a most hospitable environment, but we couldn't eat them fast enough. With a sinking feeling, I realized I had enough peaches for two peach cobblers. Could I bear to face it again? Was I strong enough? With much trepidation, I turned back to "fruit desserts".

ATK details how to blanch peaches for easy skin removal and, surprisingly, it was very quick and easy! Just a few slits in the bottom of each peach, a 60-second dunk in boiling water, then another 60-second soak in some ice water (shown) and those little hussies slid right out of their skins!

Here are the denuded peaches, waiting to be sliced, sugared and brandied. Actually, I didn't have any brandy, so I just substituted peach schnapps instead. I can tell you with full assurance of hindsight that that was a most satisfactory substitution!

A little of this, a little of that, some mixing and stirring and voila!
Those cobblers were indeed the most KICK-ASSIEST of cobblers! I don't think I have ever tasted anything so good in all my life! I certainly have never made anything that good in all my life. The Viking mumbled, with his mouth full of cobbler and his eyes rolling back in his head, "This is a kick-ass cobbler. This is the best thing you've ever made." Then he went on to say, and get this, "This is better than anything MY MOTHER has ever made!" And the heavens opened up and the Lord did grin...

We pretty much obliterated that first cobbler right away, but the second survived and was sent on to our dear friends who had just moved into their first house and needed some cheering up. I felt so domestic and housewifey and so much like Mrs. Weasley! I so enjoyed that! And that, I think is what inspired me to dive into my knitting project in earnest.

My very first Weasley Sweater. I finally got over to Michael's and bought the yarn. Man-Cub helped me pick it out as it's his sweater. It's been about two weeks and I've got the back knitted and have about 5 inches of the front on the needles right now. But before I show you, I have to share the knitting "tub" The Viking helped me make:

I am currently on the look-out for a good, not ridiculously expensive, knitting bag so I can tote my stuff all over the place with me like a good little Auntie. However, in the meantime, Lobelia gave me the idea to use something like an old oatmeal container, or potato salad tub if I just need to cart around a few balls of yarn or something. So I took the tub of Laffy Taffys the kids managed to empty with alarming speed and asked The Viking to drill a couple of holes in the lid for me. I sanded the holes thoroughly so the yarn won't snag, popped the lid on and, wouldn't you know, it makes a perfect stand-in knitting bag! The Viking thinks it's pretty funny. But, hey, it works!

And here is the finished back of the sweater. I held it up to Man-Cub and found to my delight it is going to be perfectly oversized for him. He'll be able to wear it for years! We're still debating which letter to put on the front: he wants an H like Harry's sweater, but I still want to put Man-Cub's real first initial on it. We're going to have to settle it soon as I'll be ready to start the intarsia in just a few days (using a nice, grey yarn Man-Cub picked out), but if he won't budge, I'll just do the H and let him have his fun. It'll be cool either way.

Red Headed Snippet has already picked out the green yarn for her sweater and wants her hockey number on it instead of her initial, but we're still in negotiations on that projects as well. I'm not even starting her sweater until Man-Cub's is done, so I expect it will be several months before I have to start having "Sweater Talks" with her.

I'm really enjoying this project and am already thinking ahead to others I can make and what colors I would use for everyone. Daria wants one (emerald green), I'd like to make one for Baby Bee, Cindy Lou Who would be adorable with one (I think scarlet for her?) and I would so love to get The Viking to wear one. We'll see. I should probably finish this one first and see how it goes before I start taking orders.

Okay, gotta run. I have to rest up before our big night tonight...first night of Youth Group, Pioneer Boys and Design for Discipleship. And I'm still recovering somewhat from minor surgery on Monday so I need to reserve my strength. But it's all good; I have a movie I've been wanting to watch that no one will watch with me so I'm going to curl up on the couch, heat up the heating pad and watch my wretched movie. Here's a hint: it's got Kate Winslet (whom I adore) and Cameron Diaz (whom I loathe) in it and takes place partially in my favorite place in the world, England. I'll let you know how it is...