Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Heart Day

For this post, I have two Valentine's Day projects to share with you. First, there's my "Be My Valentine" cashmere sweater. You remember this work-in-progress:

I got busy on it this week and finished up the front piece. Here's how it now looks:

Yep. That's right. I frogged it. The back piece is still in tact, but I had to frog the front. When I finished the front, I decided to seam the shoulders together right away, even though it really needed a good blocking. Since I had been a bit concerned about the size and fit, I thought seaming the shoulders would help me get a better idea about the fit.

The good news is that the overall fit seems fine. The only problem I found as I stood before the mirror with the pieces hanging from my shoulders and the sides tucked beneath my arms at my sides, was that it looked just a half inch or so too short. I want it to fall just below the waist, but not down near the hips. If you imagine the waistband of a pair of jeans, I want the sweater to end just at the bottom of the waistband. Any lower and I would run the risk of the cable and rib section expanding out further to fit my hips and ruining the slimming effects of the pattern. Any higher and I would run the risk of baring my belly button anytime I reach for something. That wouldn't be such a bad thing, except that . . . well, my belly just ain't what it used to be, ya know?

Anyhow, as I examined the fit in the mirror, I found myself wishing that I'd made it about a half inch longer. Then I turned around and glanced over my shoulder and saw that it indeed looked about a half inch longer in back. After removing the partially completed garment and examining it closely, I realized that indeed the front was about a half inch shorter than the back. At the very, very beginning of the cabled pattern I had left off one side of an X portion of the X & O cabled pattern.

Ah well. At least I can feel reasonably comfortable now about the fit. And I am very much enjoying knitting with the cashmere, so it's not such a terrible task to have to knit the front piece again.

My other Valentine's Day project was one in the kitchen. I was at the grocery store yesterday, surrounded by lots of Valentine's Day cakes and cookies and such, when I was suddenly struck with the bright idea that I would bake a Valentine's Day cake for my husband. I knew it would surprise him, since we don't celebrate any holidays. (Yes, you heard me right. No birthdays. No Christmas. No Thanksgiving. No Groundhog Day. It's just the two of us, with no family in the area, and we're just not the holiday sort.)

I quickly realized that it was not a very realistic plan to bake a cake. First off, I should mention that I don't cook. In fact, I'm a really terrible cook. I made something the other day that was so awful that I threw the whole pan of it out into the backyard. When my husband got home that day, he was very concerned and asked me if I felt alright. Apparently, he thought I had been out heaving in the backyard. This is the quality and visual appeal of my cooking. But I digress . . .

Although I'm a terrible cook, I can actually manage to bake something successfully from time to time. Being much more formulaic, baking is more up my alley. In my current kitchen, however, I was not very confident with the idea. The oven is so old that it seemed a toss up as to whether it would maintain an even enough heat to bake something properly. My kitchen implements are limited (what would I do if I needed a sifter?!). And to top it off, I was in the grocery store at the time, without a recipe in mind or in hand, and had no idea what I should buy. I don't even keep flour in the house, much less vanilla, baking powder or any other more unusual baking ingredients.

No, a cake from scratch was just not realistic on the spur of the moment. And so I bought a cake mix. And I bought a can of cream cheese frosting. And as a last minute bit of fun, I bought a tube of red cake icing.

I got home to find that I have no cake pans. I cleverly used a fairly shallow baking dish and thought all was well. That is, until after it cooled and I removed it from the pan. Yes, you guessed it. I broke and crumbled my sad little cake from a box.

No problem, I thought. I'll cover up the mess with frosting. Of course, as I frosted the broken cake, little crumbs mixed in everywhere and spread around making the cake look even worse. I thought it would be fine, since I could slap some extra frosting on to cover the bad spots when I was done. Hmmm. It seems that one can of frosting doesn't go very far. I barely had enough to cover the cake, much less to repair damage.

Then it was on to the red icing. Hmmm. Apparently, these tubes of icing no longer have pointy ends to the tube so that you can apply the icing directly from the tube (that's how I remember them from 30 years ago!). Now, the top is flat and so without a cake decorating attachment, it's like trying to spell something out with toothpaste.

In the end, I wound up with this:

It looks as though a seven-year-old whipped it up in an EasyBake Oven.

When my husband came home from work last night around 8:30, he followed his usual routine, sitting in the living room for about five minutes before announcing that he needed a snack. I followed him into the kitchen and stood by watching as he stared at the monstrosity I had left sitting on the counter. He slowly turned to me with a puzzled look and said, "Is it a brownie?"

I was literally doubled over with laughter. "I made you a Valentine's Day cake," I managed to say with tears of laughter rolling down my face.

My husband slowly smiled and began to laugh as well. He was relieved, I think, to see that I found the whole thing amusing. I think perhaps he was wondering how on earth he could thank me for this lovely gift with a straight face.

Ah well. I'll stick with yarn in the future.

Happy Valentine's Day to all!


Micki said...

Aw, your cake is sweet! I'm sure your husband appreciated the effort.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Gina Black said...

Oh Deb! What a wonderful story. And that cake--though it may be a bit homely--is very full of heart. That's what really counts on Valentine's Day.

Happy Valentine's Day to you too!

(From another cooking-challenged knitter.)

Lynne E. said...

Oh good grief! I'm holding my sides, I'm laughing so hard. Obviously, it is a very, very, very sincere cake! :-)

anne said...

it's adorable!
he'd be crazy not to love it too.