just came across this lovely sweater that was posted on ravelry - she made it for her son based on the title character in hugo. now i want to make the sweater and watch the film! i won't let my son help with the ball-winding though - not after the yarnbarf he produced out of a skein of wollemeise!


jungle birthday!

the kiddo has been quite insistent for the last entire year that his fifth birthday party would be a jungle birthday. so! we had face-painting, pin-the-tail-on-the-giraffe (which we ended up not playing, after the fishing-in-the-crocodile-pond debacle... some kids were just not ready for turn-taking and not always winning), and of course cake. i'd asked the kid a while ago what kind he wanted.

"lion cake."

"a cake that looks like a lion?"

"no, a cake that tastes like a lion."

well i made him the former rather than the latter.

the other trick to the party? allergies. and food sensitivities. so we did the whole thing with no gluten, no dairy, no tomatoes, and no articial food colouring/dye or additives of any sort.

someone had told me that "sugar high" and "the birthday party effect" should really be blamed on additives and particularly food dyes, so i thought it would be interesting to see if removing them had any effect.

nope, kids went wild.

on the menu: beef & bean chili, hummus, guacamole, corn chips, veg crudites (broccoli, cauliflower, red pepper, carrots, celery), fruit (cherries, honeydew melon, grapes, mini bananas), cake, and homemade icecream with almond milk and farmers' market strawberries i froze in the summer.

the lion cake was a recipe of "louise's party cake" from my beloved cake & cooky cookbook, substituting almond milk, earth balance margarine, and jeanne's gluten-free flour mix, and a triple-batch of salted caramel frosting, substituting almond milk and half-and-half earth balance and vegetable shortening. i baked the cake in one 9"x13" pan and one 8"x8" pan. the big rectangle was cut roughly in half for a two-layer body, and the square cake was cut into the head, legs, and ears.

i used some of the same classic vanilla frosting (substituting almond milk, corn starch, and a blend of earth balance and shortening) i made for the cupcakes to do the eyes and cheeks, and melted some chocolate chips into the leftovers for the mane and whiskers. wish i'd had more time to do a better icing job!

i also made a double batch of cupcakes because i was worried about running out of cake, and people not wanting chocolate. i must be losing my mind.

today the house is a disaster. but at least there's cake everywhere.

salted caramel frosting (single recipe - i tripled it for the lion)

1/4 cup sugar
2 tbs water
1/4 cup heavy cream (or almond milk)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup butter (i used 1/2 shortening, 1/4 earth balance margarine)
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt

dissolve sugar in water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. cook 6-7 minutes without stirring, until it is a lovely caramel colour. watch carefully!

remove from heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add the cream and vanilla. it will bubble and double, so be careful. stir until smooth. let cool.

meanwhile, cream butter, sugar, and salt.

beat cooled caramel into the butter mixture.

chill till firm (about 45 minutes) before attempting to frost anything.

n.b.: i find that non-dairy frostings tend to be quite soft, so be sure to chill well and don't leave your cake out where it's warm!


busy busy busy

eep, just realized i haven't even posted photos of the no-longer-super-secret xmas project yet! but it will have to wait, as i am in the throes of preparing for the kiddo's 5th birthday. done so far: dairy-free strawberry ice cream, cookie dough, and pin the tail on the giraffe. going to class tonight and hoping to pick up a few groceries after. then, tomorrow i'll do the baking and the crocodile pond, and saturday morning i'll do the decorating. friday night we're out for the birthday boy's dinner.

too much to do this week!


so close!

but not quite! much work done today, with the usual 4-year-old interruptions. all i've left to do is cut the top pieces (already measured and marked) and screw/hinge them on. here's a preview of what it will look like (the paper on top is the template i made to cut the top to size):

and a couple of shots of the frame:

the "character" (aka random asymmetry) of this old house made it all a bit more futzy work than it needed to be. but so very glad it is almost done! next steps will be a coat of paint, shortening the curtains and making the cushion. thinking i'll get enough fabric to recover the seat by the vanity as well.

although, i have to say, the idea of buying more fabric pains me a bit... after hauling my stash out of the crafting table, and then cramming it back in the three-quarters-finished window seat to make our room somewhat livable for the meantime. can't wait for thursday, my next day off. although i'll have the kiddo underfoot. we'll see how it goes.


happy holidays!

what to do on a rainy winter day, when suffering the effects of new year's eve (we weren't home till 4!) along with the effects of a day of hard labour? cookies! this sugar cookie recipe is from the same family circle cook book as the english lace roll ups i made in the spring. the kiddo tried out his new baking set (his current career goal is "police baker") and even got to put the mini cookie sheet in the oven by himself, with some nervous supervision. we took a plate of a dozen across the street to his friend's house. kitchen is now a mess.

and speaking of messes, i've got miles to go on the bay window seat. yesterday the rearrangement of the kiddo's room into something reasonable took precedence. i still have another shelf to build for him, but just could not make myself do it today. those things are heavy. still, his room is not bad at all at the moment. definitely roomier. and that yellow thing in the corner is his new ceiling light!