Thursday, October 31, 2013

New yarn!

I have no business buying new yarn.  Like many knitters, I have a big stash of yarn from various projects completed, hibernating and plotted.  I have enough yarn in my stash to keep me busy for a very, very long time.  But where's the fun in that?

Recently, I was going through some stacks of old papers and came across a design for an afghan that I had forgotten all about.  I've been wanting to do another afghan lately, this one for the 8-year-old, and this design was just perfect for her (maybe I even created it with her in mind, but I just can't recall).  Starting on a new creative endeavor is so invigorating, and with cold weather around the corner, I wanted to get started right away.

I've been wanting to try Quince & Co. yarn for a long time, and it seemed like a perfect fit for my project.  I received my big 'ol box of yarn last week.  The yarn is sturdy yet soft, and I think it will knit up wonderfully.  The colors are beautiful, very true to the pictures on the Quince & Co. website. 

Here is my very colorful selection of Chickadee yarn: crocus, poppy, Carrie's yellow, cypress and parsley:

And the more subdued palette of Osprey yarn: bark, glacier, twig and egret:

I'm going to do some marathon knitting for this afghan, so hopefully I can show you the results soon.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Book Nook - Halloween books

The last couple of weeks have been a busy time for our family, gearing up for our Halloween party that we had yesterday.  I've been getting lots of books at the library on crafty Halloween activities - I thought I'd share a few!

Spooky & Bright: 101 Halloween Ideas from the Editors of Country Living (the national magazine, not the regional one that is near and dear to me):

So many cute ideas here!  I especially love the "finger" pen, mouse in a maze cake and the pumpkins.....all of their pumpkin ideas are great (but I especially love the fireplace pumpkins - genius!).

A Ghastly-Good Halloween: 201 Spooktacular Recipes, Crafts & Decorating Ideas by Gooseberry Patch:

I've heard of Gooseberry Patch before, but I didn't realize they are located in Central Ohio!   I was so excited to discover that!

There are so many great ideas in this neat book.  The one thing that made a big impression on me was all the recipes, and the beautiful food photography.  Perfect lighting, delicious-looking recipes - the majority of the book seems to be dedicated to food.  But that's ok, because it's all goodies you will want to make (especially the s'mores brownies...oh my goodness!).  I also love the candy corn pumpkins (there are also lots of other great pumpkin ideas here, too).  There's also a really cute owl costume for kids that looks suspiciously like my very own fabu-owl (which I promise to show pics soon).  Finally, there's a table with bones for legs that is just too cute!

Finally, I just had to use some of Martha's great ideas for our party - this book of hers was very useful.  We did the big-candy-favors and the bat-on-moon treat bags - pics coming soon!

Have you done any fun crafts to celebrate Halloween?


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Brunch - {Halloween cupcakes}

We just got back from our big Halloween party a few hours ago.  The past few days have been a whirlwind of crafty activity, all leading up to today's big event.  From cutting out bat templates, to making my owl costume, to heading up to the craft store for a last minute muslin purchase (that we didn't end up even using), it's been busy and crazy around here!

But not crazy enough to stop me from making cupcakes!  Normally, I would just figure that those last few days before the party will be hectic enough, and I spare myself any future stress by just ordering cupcakes or whatever party dessert we're having.  But this time, the Bachsters saw these cute little tiny murderous knives and just had to have them.  So, I found myself making 5 dozen cupcakes this morning.

I've made David's yellow cake from many, many times.  It's my go-to birthday cake, and it's delicious.  But I've never made the recipe as cupcakes before.  No problem - just cook them about 15 minutes, and keep checking them if they're not quite done.  I definitely wanted to make a tried and true recipe - no last minute recipe experimentation here.

A few tips I learned from the many comments about this recipe on the allrecipes website are first, have all your cold ingredients at room temperature.  Also, make sure to cream together the butter and sugar really well.  I usually just let it go for a few minutes with a hand mixer.  I follow the recipe to a T and it's always great.

I did cheat a little: I bought icing from our grocery store's bakery department.  And it saved me loads of time, time that I spent learning how to make pipe cleaner spiders and making giant candy shaped favors.  I promise to share some shots later this week!


Friday, October 25, 2013


"Panther is an older kitten - very fuzzy and very cute."

This is what my 8-year-old wants me to tell you about Panther.  I would like to also mention that she is a stray kitten who first made an appearance in our back yard early last week.  We've been feeding her since then, keeping her in our garage on cold nights and searching all over Columbus for a good home for her.

If you live in the Columbus, Ohio area and would like to adopt a really sweet, adorable & friendly kitten, please let me know.  I will meet you wherever is convenient, and will be happy to supply a bunch of food along with the little one.

Here's a picture of Panther from last week.  I can honestly say she's gotten a little bigger since this was taken.  We can attribute this to all that good food and snuggles from an adoring 8-year-old, I would imagine:


Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Nook - The Dirty Life

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball:

DH and I were talking a while back about moving into a different house, one that maybe had a little bit of land to it, or maybe some great fixer-upper deal, or even something just a little less 70s.  I joked at the time that maybe we should buy a farm.  We could have bees!  And chickens!  And a cow!  And all the organic local veggies we could eat!  I was only half serious, but the idea does have merit - you can eat healthy, homegrown food without having to pay a fortune for it.  Kristin Kimball addresses this very idea in her book The Dirty Life, when she tells us "the only way he [her future husband, Mark] would be able to afford the quality of food he craved, he said, was to become a banker or grow it himself, and he couldn't sit still long enough to be a banker."

The book is just as much about food as it is about farming.  Kimball details many of their cooking adventures.  I loved reading about what foodie-farmers eat - meals like pigeon with rice and caramelized onion, nettle soup, scrapple (pig parts) and black pudding (a mousse made from blood).  There's also wild strawberries, salad greens that don't need dressing and rich, golden butter.

In addition to telling us all about their love of good wholesome food, the author shares all the labor that goes into every bite.  And it's a whole lot of labor.  She writes, "in my experience, tranquil and simple are two things farming is not.  Nor is it lucrative, stable, safe, or easy.  Sometimes the work is enough to make you weep."  Weasels will kill your farm kittens, owls will kill your chickens, you will have to kill your lame horse.  And it's not just the life and death struggle that happens every day either.  From what our author tells us, farming is almost-impossible physical work.  The kind of work where you wake up after only a few hours of sleep, throw on yesterday's dirty clothes, and work until you practically fall over from exhaustion.  And the toll farming takes on a person's health can be a great one, from farmer's tans and permanent dirty fingernails to an elderly neighbor who "was a short figure on legs so insulted by decades of labor they hardly bent at the knee at all."

The book details their first year on the farm, all the struggles the author and her husband had to get there, and all the difficulties they had when they moved in.  It's a very real look at farming.  While it certainly made me second guess my half-hearted suggestion of buying a farm, it also gave me a renewed appreciation for our local farmers and all that they do.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Brunch - {pumpkin muffins}

Over the last couple of weeks, I've had pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cupcakes on different occasions (I find it pretty impossible to say no to a pumpkin baked good).  They were delicious, and perfect for Fall.  It took a while, but it finally occurred to me that I could make something similar at home.

I got this recipe for pumpkin doughnut muffins from Martha Stewart (of course!).  I had all the ingredients on hand, including 3 hungry kids and a pumpkin-loving mama.  The best part is the cinnamon-sugar coating (but you could conceivably omit that part to make them a little healthier).  I loved how sparkly they were sitting on our kitchen table - I tried to capture that sparkle in my shot:

Sugary, sparkly, pumpkiny - I'm definitely making these again!


Friday, October 18, 2013


I have some good news to share - my shots are on the covers of Country Living Magazine's September and October issues!

Here's the September issue:

This shoot was done at Lynd's Fruit Farm in Pataskala Ohio in late July.  I had the whole orchard to myself and shot away contentedly for a couple of hours until it started to rain.  Then, I visited Lynd's market and bought some of the best cheese ever, and delicious peaches for our peach-loving 10-year-old.

I didn't realize how huge that wooden crate actually was until I started filling it with apples!  I had purchased a bunch of apples at the store, but I ended up gathering up lots of fallen apples to fill up that big crate.  I actually had two crates, but it took so long to fill up the first one, I decided to let the other crate sit it out in my car!

Thank you again, Lynd's!

For the October shot, DH and I went to Mansfield Ohio to shoot at the Ohio State Reformatory.  DH was a real trooper, carrying some of my gear and agreeing to be a "ghost" in some of the shots.  I even made him run back into the building and go up 3 or 4 flights of stairs because I didn't get one of my shots just right.  Not to mention we were there for several hours shooting - thank you again, DH!

The Reformatory is an abandoned prison.  If you've ever seen the movie The Shawshank Redemption, this is where they shot it (very good movie, by the way).  Of course, it doesn't look anything like it did in the film.  There is rust, dust, peeling paint, asbestos, broken windows and such.  But it is a really fascinating place.  I processed most of my shots as HDR, and for some reason, I can't save them as JPEGs.  So, you'll just have to settle for a few out-takes - sorry!

This shot was on the way up to the tuberculosis ward, which us normally closed off to visitors.  The folks at the Reformatory gave us all-access, however, which was so incredibly nice of them.  I just really love this shot for some reason (this is SOOC - straight out of camera):

I tried to get some spooky shots for the magazine, since it was for the October issue.  The Reformatory is pretty spooky as-is, so it wasn't too much of a challenge!  This shot was in the solitary confinement area, which was one of the creepiest parts of the Reformatory.  I definitely wouldn't want to get trapped in there!

Here is the link to Country Living Magazine, if you'd like to see the October cover shot (there's also a second shot in the article about the Reformatory).  If you do check out the magazine, please check out some of the past issues - I also have shots in Food Scene in the Jan.-Sept. issues.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Book Nook - The Creative Habit

The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life by Twyla Tharp:

If you read any of my regular Book Nook postings, you might see that I'm somewhat a creative-book-addict.  I've read Daily Rituals, The War of ArtIgnore Everybody and one of my favorite books, Steal Like an Artist.  I'll share a secret with you that will hopefully explain why I gravitate towards this kind of book.  Probably about 5 years ago, I had a mini-creative-Renaissance.  Creative ideas were popping into my brain and I was jotting them down (and executing some of them) as quick as I could.  My mind entered a wonderful period of time where everything was inspiring to me, and nothing was out of bounds for my creativity.  I hummed along and I created and I loved every minute of it.  And then it stopped.

I'm not sure where that creative muse went, but I really want her to come back.  So, I've been looking at creativity from all sides, hoping to find some kind of pattern, some solution that really creative artists know, and that some book authors will share.

Lucky for us, Twyla Tharp is a wonderfully creative person and she's approached the subject of creativity with a lot of thought and experience.  Her book, The Creative Habit, is so insightful.  She shares her many ups and downs in her long and successful career as a choreographer.  Her personal stories are all tied in with her lifelong learning of the creative process, and creativity as a whole.  Reading the book feels like learning something significant from a mentor.

Whenever I read a book these days, I have a pen and paper nearby to jot down quotes or thoughts.  Here are a few great ones:

"Destiny, quite often, is a determined parent." (page 8)

The conversation on zoe vs. bios - how far away do we view the world vs. how close?  Are we a wide angle lens photographer or are we a macro photographer, for instance - (topic on page 42)

"I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read." (page 110)

"When it all comes together, a creative life has the nourishing power we normally associate with food, love and faith."  (page 243) - I've seen this quote of hers before, I think in one of the other creativity books listed.

"Even in the worst of times, such habits [doing your creative thing] sustain, protect, and, in the most unlikely way, lift us up." (page 243)

My words can't do this book justice.  If you are interested in reading about creativity, then this book is an absolute must.  The author has spent a lot of time thinking about creativity, looking at the creative habit in those artists that inspire her, reflecting on her career and her relationship with the creative muse.  I don't know if Twyla Tharp can help me find my way back to my own muse, but I can't think of anyone better to lead the way.



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Brunch - {pumpkin pancakes}

Fall just wouldn't be Fall around our house without pumpkin pancakes.  This recipe, from Martha Stewart, is from my favorite issue of her magazine - October 2004 (I even wrote about it here).  We are such pancake people, and I do love me a good pumpkin recipe, so it was only natural that this one would become a favorite.  I double the batch because the Bachsters always compete with one another to see how many they can eat, and now that they're getting bigger, those numbers are getting impressive.

I wrote about these pancakes last Fall too - here's the post.   They are a Fall staple around here!


Monday, October 7, 2013

Book Nook - Edible

I really missed Sunday Brunch yesterday - did you happen to stop by and see it missing?  Last week was a crazy one, as this week is as well, but I hope to be back with Sunday Brunch again next Sunday.  I cannot wait to share all the fantastic pumpkin treats I've been cooking up!

Anyway, on to Book Nook: Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods by Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian:

Do you ever read your local Edible magazine?  Ours is Edible Columbus - here's the link to the Edible Communities website.  I just love the magazine and always make sure to get the latest edition when I see it at my favorite farmers market.

Surprisingly, I didn't find the Edible book at the bookstore or farmers market: I found it at my local grocery store.  They had a big bin of clearance books and because they accidentally charged me full price for the book, they ended up giving it to me for free when I asked about it at customer service.  Quite a deal!

The book is broken down by stories that have run in various issues of Edible Communities and are broken down by area of the country.  Most of these articles are just what you see in the magazine: profiles of farms, the people that grow our local food and local food initiatives.  There are lots of recipes, too, categorized by season.  I haven't tried any yet, but since Fall is here, that's the section I've been perusing the most (creamy pumpkin grits with brown butter - I might have to try that!).

Sometimes the neatest books can be found in the most unexpected places!  I'm glad this one found me!