Sunday, December 30, 2012

First Snow: a Magical Time

       Last night we had our first snow of the season. Big flakes! The evening was magical with the cross country skiers, sledders and sculptors out in the dark.

       And what to my wandering eyes should appear, but neighbor Lloyd and his mother's rolling 3 foot snowballs from the top of the block down to their house. This was an engineering trick I had never thought of. Granted, #2 and #3 snowballs had to be whittled down to lift to make a snowman, but Lloyd and Sarah did it! A strand of brussel sprouts left over in their garden made eyes, nose and arms.

      Next, Joe noticed that ten-year-old Katherine on the other side of our house had put up what her dad called "an abstract snowman." I am surrounded by art!

        I keep close at hand this photo of  "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil," the young efforts by myself and five friends in my front yard, teen years, long ago in Amarillo. I always hoped to duplicate it alongside Storrow Drive in Boston someday. I remember being told that Carl Sandburg said the only thing between Amarillo and the North Pole was a single strand of barbed wire. Note: Speak No Evil is having a tougher time of it!

        As of today, we have probably received more snow than we had all last year. This old photo pictures the amount of snow delivered. There has been double that in the past. You can click on the photos to enlarge.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Creating Cake Pops for a festive time

     'Tis the season to do something festive and wish fulfilling with few calories. No snow? Make snowballs. Make snowball cake pops.

      The grandchildren will arrive tomorrow and I am sure they would like snow to sled and ski. Also, I had given my beading group cake pop equipment for a holiday present and I wanted to learn a few more tricks to pass on. It is not a quick craft, so I decided to make the cake pop SNOWBALLS  (vanilla cake, melted Nestle white chocolate chips topped with coconut) before the children got here rather than craft with them.

       I had two kits: Nordic Ware and Telebrands The Bake Pop. I have made the chocolate pops from the recipe on the Nordic Ware box and followed instructions from The Bake Pop to use an ordinary cake mix. Bake Pop suggests you add an extra egg to a cake mix, "substitute milk for water and use half as much as the recipe calls for." You need a baking spray that contains flour and don't skimp. Fill the half spheres of the pan without holes liberally with batter. Use chocolate to glue a pop stick into the cooled cake sphere. Have some styrofoam handy to stick your pops into to move them to the fridge for solidifying the melted chocolate icing. I couldn't believe how long it took because you have to melt the chocolate, thin it a little with oil, wait for it to drip to a thin coating, cool it until solid...a few at a time. Maybe I should have made a smaller batch! 

        I prefer the Telebrands pop sticks but I would have to order them on line. I like the smaller, rather that larger popsicle sticks that are available at craft and cooking stores. If you follow the Nordic Ware and Telebrands links above, you can read up more about cake pops to see if you want to make them. Wrap your creations with about a foot of plastic wrap and they will be delicious for days. It is fun to have a small treat to hand out liberally.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

De-stress with yarn, dishcloths, Dust Bowl reads

     Show and Tell at our Journal Quilt Connection meeting ended with Donna Jean's suggestion we mindlessly knit washcloths with Sugar and Spice cotton psychedelic colors to de-stress during the holidays. I am so suggestible. I could not wait to get my yarn (some for the girls), size 6 knitting needles (two more sets for the grandchildren), cast on 40 stitches, to start to knit to de-stress!

      But first I had to relearn how to cast-on before knitting, knitting, knitting. I got out 6 books and looked on YouTube for videos.  I assure you I will teach the girls and use myself, the easiest cast-on stitch. How important it is to practice before teaching the youngsters. How much one forgets. Click photos to enlarge!

     Then I remembered that Trilla had sent me some washcloths she had made along with some guest room soaps to accompany her creations. Of course, I could only admire, never use until I made more. I found I had bought a pattern book, Dishcloths from the Heart, and had already bought psychedelic yarn back then!!  I dug further into my knitting bag (one of about 8 yarn UFOs*) to find Trilla's state of Texas with my Amarillo highlighted. All this happened the last few days when I was heavily into the history of The Dust Bowl, thanks to Ken Burns' movie. May I recommend his illustrated history and Karen Hesse's book, Out of the Dust, a Newbury award winner. It also helps to have a ukulele and The Daily Ukulele (364 songs) sitting by the computer. Maybe a virtual "I'll be Home for Christmas."
    *unfinished objects