November passed by much too quickly this year. Wasn’t it just Hallowe’en?
With November came the colder weather. Watching Maus on a particularly blustery walk home from school, as she tucked her face into the top of jacket, it occurred to me that the one thing missing from the winter wardrobe was a neck warmer! I had some wool from thrifted sweaters and so I set to work. First came Maus’s, with two shades of blue cashmere on the inside and a brown lambswool for the outside. I sewed on a blue cashmere heart appliqué and added wooden buttons I had been hanging on to for ages. The button loops are a dark blue hair elastic that I had cut in two to make smaller loops and sewed into one end.
The buttons are functional, and she can do them up and undo them on her own, but it isn’t necessary to open the neck warmer. Maus can pull the whole thing over her head done up. Here she’s wearing Mama’s hat, also recently upcycled from a thrifted sweater.
Not to be left out, Cub of course needed one as well. Even more so perhaps, as his snowsuit seems to have a larger gap at the neck. Rather than using the same design, I thought I’d try making one that didn’t open for Cub. One that he would have to just pull on.
Cub’s neck warmer is the same brown lambswool outer, but is lined with a felted pale aqua blue lambswool/cashmere blend that makes his neck warmer slightly thicker than Maus’s.
I’m pleased with the way they have turned out, and even more pleased with the fact that both kids wear them happily. Maus has worn hers to school all week, and Cub will continue to wear his inside almost as if he has forgotten that it is even on. Happy mama, warm kidlets. Perfect.
As the days in October slowly get cooler, it is high time some new woollies get knit. Straight from Iceland (thanks A & M!) I am trying my hand at stranded knitting for the first time, using two different shades of green Lettlopi wool. I am using this pattern for a funky zig-zagged beret. But, I suspect my tension must be off a bit, as I am not convinced this hat will be very beret-like…
The play food in our toy kitchen has been getting a lot of use recently. Mostly for pretend picnics, but occasionally for something completely different.
Play food selection available seems to be exploding of late. Typing “play food” (filtered by toys) into the search bar on Etsy yields 1716 items (at my last check). That can be a bit overwhelming, but choices are far more manageable when one searches for specific foods. Specific materials narrow the choices further…felt vegetables, knitted apples, wooden eggs etc.
With autumn just beginning, and with it all of the wonderful foods I associate with autumn…barrels of apples, pumpkins and squashes, and pies, and I thought it would be fun to search around for some harvest play food.
For chilly fall mornings :: Tea bags by from the seeds on Etsy
Knitted veg set :: Wolverine Knits on Etsy
Crocheted apple pie with removable apple slices :: Fair Trade Family on Etsy
I was hoping to find some interesting squashes as play food on Etsy as well, but at the time that I was looking there was little to be found. So I took to searching for patterns for those who wish to make there own play food!
Make your own autumn play food:
Felt pumpkin pie (and other food) tutorial (flat pumpkin pie) - Made
Another yummy pumkin pie pattern (3-dimentional, and also free) – Sew Mama Sew
Felt macarons pattern (just because they look SO very scrumptuous…not because they necessarily have anything to do with autumn…) – sweet emma jean on Etsy
Any other favourite autumn play foods? Or wonderful play food patterns?
My little Maus started junior kindergarten this year, and although her kindergarten is all day, 5 days a week, we decided that we would still have frequent days at home. Not only would these days at home be rest days to unwind a little, they would also be perfect times to do something extra fun with mama while Cub was at daycare (the plan for the fall you see is that while Maus is at school, Cub is in daycare and mama is at home furiously writing her thesis). This past Friday was one such day, and we decided to make applesauce.
Our neighbour had picked up a bushel of apples for us, and it was a mixture of three varieties; I believe two varieties were Gala and MacIntosh, but I can’t quite figure out what the apple in the middle (in the picture above) is. Any thoughts?
Edited September 24th :: The middle apple in the photo above is a St. Lawrence apple. A harder to come by variety and sadly not available from this particular farmer again either as their single St. Lawrence apple tree fell over. I’m feeling extra privileged to be able to use this tasty variety.
The applesauce we made was plain and simple. No added sugar or spices. We didn’t peel or core them, we just quartered and tossed them into a pot with a bit of water at the bottom. Once the apples pieces were soft all the way through, we used a food mill (also kindly lent to us by our neighbour) and separated applesauce from peels and seeds. We probably used somewhere between 1/3 to 1/2 of the bushel and ended up with 4 litres of sauce.
Others from the bushel were taken out to be eating apples, and the rest are awaiting another cooking project or two…I do love apple season!
It seems to be mid to late summer every year that the cicadas come out and start to buzz in the trees. Most cicadas have a 2-5 year life-cycle (although there is a North America species that has a 17 year life-cycle!) and spend most of the time underground as nymphs feeding on sap in the roots of trees. They then make a tunnel and emerge, climb part way up a tree or other vegetation (garden walls work well too) and molt. The adults make the buzzing noise in the trees and leave behind these empty exoskeletons that Maus and I had great fun finding this year.
Showing off a find. She enjoyed running from tree to tree and searching up and down the sides for husks left clinging to the bark.
Cicada face? Our Cub came a long for the walk with Papa, but isn’t quite at the cicada exoskeleton collecting stage. Making faces? That he can do. (Although, of course, he may have just been working out an itch on his noise for this picture…)
And finally…a really neat look at the inside of a cicada nymph skin.
And also what happens when you procrastinate writing a PhD thesis chapter and play out alien battles with cicada skins (the guy on his side clearly lost the the battle…). Shh…don’t tell anyone.
Borage is one thing that grows well in our garden (tomatoes on the other hand failed miserably this year…). The borage plants with their pretty nodding flowers in shades of blue and violet are a favourite of bees and are often abuzz.
Borage flowers are edible, and make pretty additions to salads. They are also the perfect size to fit into an ice cube tray. So the other day we decided to see what borage flower ice cubes would be like. Quite sweet actually…little purple blue flowers frozen in ice.
We had them just in glasses of water, but I think they’d look great in jars of lemonade as well!
This has been my first summer making jam, and after jam that I thought was a little too sweet (Serviceberry) and jam that just wasn’t quite right (apricot), this third jam I am really pleased with.
We have a funny plum tree in our front garden. There are 3 varieties of plum grafted onto a single rootstock. The Italian prune is easy to identify, and they aren’t quite ripe yet…but when they are, they’re slotted for some plum cake! The other two varieties I am not sure of…mainly because the tags aren’t on fruiting branches…or branches that even have leaves. One is a Satsuma plum and the other is a Santa Rosa plum, and oddly enough when I googled them they both sort of looked like the plum I used for this jam, and the third plum on the tree looks nothing like either, so I am no further ahead.
The blackberries come from a blackberry bush that I think is technically our neighbour’s but is more or less growing in both our gardens. She is happy to let us pick on both sides though, which is wonderful!
This is what the mystery plum looks like when polished. Why polished? Simply because that is what 3 1/2 year olds do.
Anyone want to venture a guess as to what my mystery plum is?
This jam is a combination of two “long boil” recipes without pectin found in the Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving that I borrowed from my sister. Conveniently there was a recipe for plum jam and one for berry jam. The plum recipe called for 4 lbs of plums. That’s a lot of wee plums to “de-stone”. I ended up with about 8 cups of chopped plums which was about 3 lbs. To that I added about 1 1/4 cups of blackberries, 4 cups of sugar, and 3 and a bit tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Although the recipe said the cook time was only 20 minutes, I think I cooked the jam for about 40 minutes before I felt that it was proper jam consistency…and even still I wouldn’t call it firm by any stretch. But very, very tasty.
Three jars didn’t seal properly. I’m not entirely sure why, as I tried to make sure I left just the right amount of headroom. But they were given away to be eaten right away. Three jars did seal and they are on the shelf next to raspberry jam, and a little extra is in the fridge to be eaten now.
Next up…apple sauce?
This short-sleeved version of the Jane cardigan by Georgie Hallam was started in June and finished in July, and was intended to be a lot faster of a knit than it turned out to be. But then, who am I kidding, nothing gets knit quickly these days!
I used a gorgeous cotton and silk blend from Misti Alpaca, that knit beautifully and feels scrumptuous. Just the sort of yarn for for a summer cardigan.
It doesn’t have buttons and I didn’t add the ribbon ties. I knit it simply to be thrown on over a dress, tank-top or t-shirt on cooler summer days and on into fall. And happily Mausi finds it “no-fuss” enough to wear it just as intended!
A couple of years ago I reviewed the Urban Baby Bonnet. That bonnet is still in occasional use as a back-up hat, although it is definitely now too small for Maus. Cub has also sported it on more than one occasion. This bonnet has done us well, no doubt about it, and so I was excited to have the opportunity to review the Urban Baby Bonnet Modcap.
Everything we loved about the original is still present in this new design. The close-fitting design, which makes it such a perfect babywearing hat (I find that bucket hats often get knocked off), the multiple snap closures, which increase the life of the bonnet, the reversibility, which makes it like having 2 hats in one, and finally, the fact that the brim almost works like blinkers and makes nursing on the go a far less distracted event.
We did notice that the Modcap brim is not quite as big as the original Urban Baby Bonnet, however it certainly still keeps the sun off faces, and delicate ears are still tucked safely beneath the hat. The modcap has a small elastic gather at the back which results in not only a snug fit, but also allows for some growing room. Cub at 17 months and Mausi at 3 years 9 months are in fact wearing two different sides of the same hat.
Like all Urban Baby Bonnets the Modcap is machine washable, and we certainly put that to the test. We washed it cold with like colours and then hung to dry. Perfect. Really. We need washable hats, as somehow they get just as muddy, sandy and smudgey as everything else!
Sizing remains the same as with the original bonnet and there are now 6 sizes to choose from ranging from an XXS encompassing preemies to an XL which would fit an adult!
A slightly more boyish design that the original bonnet, the modcap is almost like the original bonnet merged with a newsboy cap. Utterly sweet, and perfect for boys and girls.
Thanks very much to Colette of Urban Baby Bonnets for providing us the very funky modcap for review!
Even quick knits are never particularly quick these days! This little summer cardigan was meant to be a for the cool weather we were having round the summer solstice…and as it is still on my needles that clearly didn’t happen! Just the short sleeves are left to be knit, so another couple of evenings and the cardigan should be finished. The pattern is Jane by Georgie Hallam. And the yarn, which I am thoroughly enjoying, is a Misti Alpaca cotton and silk blend. Perfect for cooler summer days.
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