Lemon Lavender Poundcake Recipe

Lemon Lavender Poundcake Recipe

To say I have a love affair with putting citrus in my baked goods, would be putting it mildly. I generally feel that there are few things that aren't improved by bit a fresh zest, and this poundcake definitely falls into the better zesty category. With some added flavor from honey and aromatics from the inclusion of lavender buds, this is the perfect spring dessert. Not too sweet, with an excellent crumb, and easy to transport to your next picnic.  

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Lemon Lavender Poundcake

(serves 8)

  • 3 large eggs -room temperature
  • 3 Tbl milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (or 1 cup + 5 Tbl all purpose flour + 3 Tbl cornstarch)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 13 Tbl (1 stick + 5 Tbl) unsalted butter - room temperature
  • Confectioner's sugar (less than a cup)

Lavender Lemon Syrup

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 Tbl honey
  • 2 Tbl granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp dried lavender buds

Make lavender lemon syrup by combining sugar, lemon juice,  and honey in a small pan over medium heat and stirring until sugars are dissolved. Pour syrup over lavender buds in a heat proof container and cover. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 6-cup loaf pan or line with parchment paper (preferred). 

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, shift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add lemon zest to flour mixture and combine. 

Add half of the egg mixture and all of the butter to the flour mixture. Beat with a wooden spoon until ingredients are moist and well combined. Butter should be mixed well, throughout with no visible chunks. Gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, combining each fully before adding the next. Batter will be very thick. 

Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly in container, smoothing the top. 

Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean and top is a golden brown, about 55 minutes. 

After baking, remove cake from oven. Keeping the cake in the pan, place on a rack and poke all over with a wooden skewer or long toothpick. Strain lavender buds from syrup and brush strained syrup generously over the top of the cake.

Let cake sit in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and place on rack. Brush sides generously with syrup. reserving about 1/8 cup of syrup. Add confectioner's sugar Tablespoon by Tablespoon to reserved syrup until it forms a thick, opaque glaze.  

When cake has cooled, place on serving platter and pour glaze on top. Decorate with lemon slices and lavender as desired. To store, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.

Lemon Lavender Poundcake Recipe

Lemon Lavender Poundcake Recipe

Serves 8 Ingredients: 3 large eggs -room temperature 3 Tbl milk 1 1/2 tsp vanilla 1 1/2 cups cake flour (or 1 cup + 5 Tbl all purpose flour + 3 Tbl cornstarch) 3/4 cup granulated sugar Zest of one lemon 3/4 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 13 Tbl (1 stick + 5 Tbl) unsalted butter - room temperature Confectioner's sugar (less than a cup) 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 4 Tbl honey 2 Tbl granulated sugar 1 tsp dried lavender buds
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Summer of Basics: Moss Skirt

Karen Templer of Fringe Association is hosting a make-along called The Summer of Basics. The idea behind it being to make 3 garments (knitted or sewn) over three months that would be workhorse garments for the maker.

I often waffle about joining in on make-alongs, I like the sense of community they bring, but because so much of my making is already dictated by deadlines I generally don't want to add non-necessary deadlines to my life.

However,  in this case, the time frame is generous, and as previously discussed, I'm in serious need of some workhorse garments to fill some sizable gaps in my wardrobe right now. So I'm in.

For my first basic, I chose Grainline Studios Moss Skirt. Normally, my style is less austere and modern than the overall Grainline aesthetic, but I find them so thoughtfully designed, that I've made quite a number of her patterns. I've been wanting a simple skirt with a fly closure to replace my beloved 15-year old denim skirt, and Moss fit the bill. I'm not a mini fan, so I opted for View B with the hem band and added an extra inch to the length of the main skirt portion. Other than that I stuck to the directions, and was surprised to find that I've apparently sew enough flies that I'm no longer scared of them. The fabric is a nice chambray I got on the cheap from Marden's (a surplus store) and I did faux flat-felled seams for a jeans-inspired look. Even with interfacing, the chambray stretches a bit more than I expected, so I may take in the waist band a bit after it's next washing. 

I've already worn it twice in the week since I made it, and knowing how much use my old denim skirt got, I know this will be a definite workhorse. 

The top is a Fancy Tiger Sailor Top made in some quilting cotton, that incidentally I also used in the pocket linings of the skirt. I made it before the make along kick off, so it's not part of my official Summer of Basics makes, but I'm pretty sure I'll be making another soon (my third), so I'll save my comments on the pattern for then. 

All in all, as outfit that is comfortable, easy to wear and feels so very me. A win-win!

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Summer Rain Shawl in Taproot Magazine

As a child, I dreamed of summer storms.

Growing up in northern California, my summers consisted of soaking my swimsuit in the sprinkler and rushing to the driveway to leave an ephemeral body print on the concrete; of running barefoot across the hot asphalt to my friend’s house and trying not to burn my feet; of the dark towels my mother put over the windows in the daytime to keep out the heat.

I wanted my summers to be cooler, wetter. I longed for days that passed like a Country Time Lemonade commercial: afternoons spent floating in an old tire inner tube down a lazy river, swinging from a rope into the old swimmin’ hole, taking laps to the dock in the middle of the lake, numerous bodies of water inexplicably available to the same child in a 30-second spot.

I thought a summer storm would be the perfect antidote to the dry California heat, a backyard sprinkler writ large. I imagined I’d see the clouds building up, pull on my one-piece and hurry outside to dance in the warm droplets falling gently from the sky. Summer perfection wrapped up in a single moment.

Later, in my twenties, when I lived in Chicago, I learned that the reality of summer storms could be a very different thing. Chicago summers were hot and sticky. I slept on a futon mattress on the floor of a studio apartment in Hyde Park, a fan positioned on either side of my bed, hoping for a respite from the heat. The storms I wished for a child would come frequently, but no gentle sprinkle, these; instead, soaking torrents of water, best avoided, but quickly gone.

My second summer in Chicago, my husband and I had relocated to the north side of the city. I’d walk the blocks of my neighborhood on summer nights, the sticky nights made more bearable by the cool lakeside breeze. Our apartment was just blocks from Lake Michigan, and though we visited the shores often, I only swam in its waters twice. My first swim in that wide body of water was on a hot day, the water sufficiently warm, and the feel of lake-bottom plants and tiny fish against my legs a constant reminder that this was no tile-lined pool.

My second swim was on an equally hot day, but the water shocked me with it chill. I paid no attention to the flora and fauna as the icy water stung like daggers and made my toes go numb. I wrapped myself in a towel and we rushed home to change. By the time we reached the apartment, a tornado warning had come in and we watched as the clouds folded in on top of themselves, faster and faster, building up into a dense grey wall on the horizon. My hair still damp from the lake, we sat in the windowless lobby of our building and waited the storm out – the menacing clouds giving us thunder and hail and rain.

As a child, it seemed silly that summer only truly started June 21st. School had been released weeks before and the season of short-sleeves and flip-flops had been in swing well before that. In Chicago, the march of time was marked by the swing from biting cold winds to sweltering humidity. Even so, I didn’t really understand the seasons until I moved to Maine.

Not spring, summer, winter, fall. We had all of those, even in California.

But the 16-day window of Lupine Season, when the highways burst forth in spires of purple and blue and pink, or the two weeks when the strawberries are available for picking, its arrival watched for and counted in pint baskets at the farmer’s market. There is the weekend in July when the window air-conditioning units go in and month-long debate in September on when to take them out. Each week in June, July, and August seeming to be a short-lived season of its own.

Perhaps it is because I no longer live in a land of continuous produce, or because I am a gardener now, that so much of the summer is measured in food – not the dwindling canisters of powdered lemonade of my childhood or the cheap takeout of my twenties, but rather, in limited runs of fiddleheads and sugar-snap peas, of strawberries, then raspberries, then blueberries, to finally end in the bags of apples that are picked in that time between the seasons that can be alternately cold or sweltering hot.

The brevity of these seasons brings a different rhythm to my Maine summers, a sense of urgency and a need to take advantage of everything at its peak that I had never felt before. In this environment, the dozen or so summer storms take on a different role, offering a break from activity. They are not an invitation to play, nor to hide, but to simply be.

In the winter, the Nor’easter asks us to stay inside and enjoy the quiet; in the summer, the rains do the same. The storms are a chance to lay in bed and hear the raindrops ping against the top of that window air-conditioning unit, drumming out a steady tattoo that seems to say “Be still, be still, be still.”

As child, summer storms were illusive, illusionary things; in Chicago, they were wild and sometimes terrifying. Now, as an adult, they are a respite. After a stretch of hot sunny days, the plants in my garden welcome the rain. I follow their lead, raise my face to the heavens, and drink it in.


The Summer Rain shawl, inspired by my longing for those summer storms and the peace they now bring can be found in the latest issue of Taproot Magazine: GROW. They also carry kits for the pattern, which uses 2 skeins of Milo by Manos Del Uruguay, a gorgeous merino & linen blend with amazing drape that is truly one of my favorite yarns on the market right now. The issue is available on newstands and online now and you can queue up the project on Ravelry

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Prepping and Storing Your Embroidery Floss - a tutorial

Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver

Embroidery floss is one of those supplies that seems to sneak up on you. I did for me. I'd buy a couple of skeins for a project here, then a half-dozen for another project there. I'll tell myself that I'd wind them onto the little cardboard bobbins, and organize them into binders or boxes, but more often than not I'd pull them from directly from the skeins until I wound up with a tangled mess.

In truth, even when I did bother with the bobbins, I never really cared for them. The floss would get kinked on the card, I'd have to do a bunch of unwinding and re-winding ever time I'd need a new length of floss, and they never stayed put in their binder pages. It was more trouble than it was worth.

Then an acquaintance introduced me to floss braids and it was a gamer changer for me. No special equipment needed, quick and easy to do, and honestly, kind of pretty. And by using the existing label,  I didn't have to rewrite the color code on anything, and spare lengths could be looped back through the label..But the best part was that the thread was already cut into perfect lengths for stitching. 

Like I said, game changer. 

Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver


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Greyhound in the Garden - Cocktail Recipe


We're just about to embark on a long weekend here in the States, so why not kick back and enjoy a bright and refreshing cocktail - not too sweet, not too boozy, with a hint of earthiness from the garden. 

Greyhound in the Garden Cocktail

(makes 1 drink)

  • 2 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz Rosemary Honey Syrup (see recipe below)
  • Sprig of fresh rosemary for garnish (optional)

Stir all ingredients together and serve over ice, add rosemary for garnish as desired.

Rosemary Honey Syrup

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Combine first three ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves completely. Add rosemary and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and remove rosemary sprigs. Pour syrup into a sterilized bottle or jar and refrigerate. 


Greyhound in the Garden Cocktail Recipe

Makes 1 drink Ingredients: 2 oz grapefruit juice 1.5 oz gin .5 oz rosemary honey syrup
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FO Roundup

One of the most fun parts of being a designer is seeing how others interpret your designs. Here are a few of my favorite finished objects (FOs) of late (click on any photo to visit the knitter's Ravelry page):

Tributary, knit by Caitlin (schmidr)

Tributary, knit by Caitlin (schmidr)

Ripley, knit by Kim (willknit4borscht)

Ripley, knit by Kim (willknit4borscht)

Caiterly, knit by Jenny (Jenny A Kortfelt)

Caiterly, knit by Jenny (Jenny A Kortfelt)

Cresting Waves, knit by Jenny (jennyinmaine)

Cresting Waves, knit by Jenny (jennyinmaine)

Zoetrope, knit by Stacy (shutterhoney)

Zoetrope, knit by Stacy (shutterhoney)

Bradac, knit by laraghdaniel

Bradac, knit by laraghdaniel

I love the colors each of these knitters have chosen to make the pattern their own and I'm in love with the face on that bear!!

Want to share your knits with me? Tag me @mscleaver on Instagram, or if it's on Ravelry, I'll see it. :) 



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Garden Tour: May

Gardening my own food has taken root in my soul.

I come from a rather mixed gardening background. Growing up we lived on a corner lot with a large backyard. We had a robust rose garden, a pair of fruit trees, some strawberries and a swath of boysenberries vines, but with the exception of the roses, which took far too much pruning in my childhood opinion, I don’t really recall my parents doing much gardening.

Still that fruit was the most memorable part of the yard.  During the summer my friends and I would snack our way through the backyard, staining our fingers with berry juice.

Vegetables, however, were a different story.

Our attempts at vegetable gardening were limited at best. My mother always had a few cherry tomato plants, but there were only two years where we tried something more ambitious. My father made a pair of raised beds in the place where our swing set used to be and planted some veggies. There were pumpkins and baby corn that grew into inedible adult corn, but I have no real recollection of eating any veggies from our garden.

Despite (or perhaps because of) this lack of vegetable-growing experience, I leapt at the opportunity to cultivate my own little “bit of earth”, when it finally arrived

“Might I,” quavered Mary, “might I have a bit of earth?” In her eagerness she did not realize how queer the words would sound and that they were not the ones she had meant to say. Mr. Craven looked quite startled.
“Earth!” he repeated. “What do you mean?”
“To plant seeds in—to make things grow—to see them come alive,” Mary faltered...
“You can have as much earth as you want,” he said. “You remind me of some one else who loved the earth and things that grow. When you see a bit of earth you want,” with something like a smile, “take it, child, and make it come alive.”
— - The Secret Garden, Chapter 12 by Frances Hodgson Burnett

After years of transient living, we moved back to Maine in 2008. We ended up in a first floor apartment in Deering Center and our second year living there, the neighborhood association started a community garden. I was one of the first to sign up for those early plots and planted myself four tidy rows of tomatoes, bells peppers, broccoli and herbs. I was quite detail oriented and spaced each row with precision (and yard stick). I was amazed at how quickly those small seedlings filled in the gaps between them and the chance to use my own produce got me excited about cooking. 

I was sad to leave behind that plot when we moved to our current home, but the wound was eased by the fact that I now had a corner lot of my own. The first year in, there wasn’t much to do in the way of gardening, as we had some clean up (namely the removal of an above ground pool) to tackle first. But bit by bit, bed by bed, my bit of earth has grown up into something a little more robust. I’m still far from finished (is any garden truly finished? I think not), but each year those roots and the deep joy I find in gardening grows a little bit deeper.

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Being Comfortable

Wherein I talk about body image, mental health and making your own clothes

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Flakey Buttermilk Biscuits

Flakey Buttermilk Biscuits

A good biscuit should be flakey, buttery, and easy to get on the table. These biscuits use a fun folding technique to build-up those important layers and is, in my opinion, easier than rolling them out. If you're quick (i.e. you don't have a four-year-old helping with every step) you can get these in the oven quicker than you can pre-heat it. 

Flakey Buttermilk Biscuits

Makes approximately 12 biscuits

  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour (plus more for shaping)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk, cold (if you don't have buttermilk, add 2 Tbl lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Mix together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. With a pastry cutter, cut butter into flour mixture, until it resembles slightly damp sand. Add milk and mix about 15 times, until mixture is combined, but dough is still loose.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and pat into a 8 inch by 8 inch square about a 1/2 inch thick. Fold dough in half once, and then in half again, then pat back out to square. Repeat folding and patting another three times.

With a floured biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits, making sure not to twist as you push the cutter down or pull it up. Reshape remaining dough and cut out remaining biscuits.

Place biscuits on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown on top. 

Serve warm with gravy, butter, jam, or, my personal favorite, honey. 

Flakey Buttermilk Biscuits

Makes Approx 12 Biscuits Ingredients: 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 Tbl baking powder 1/4 tsp baking soda 1 cup buttermilk 6 Tbl salted butter
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Comfy Casual

Though my preference for daily wear tends toward toward the more feminine and slightly retro, when it comes to weekend wear, I'm more of a sweatshirt girl. 

Literally, a sweatshirt. 

As in, one old grey striped Old Navy sweatshirt that I've been wearing constantly for about four years straight. 

I've been overdue for an upgrade for years, and the Grainline Linden pattern has been in stash for a while, but I've had the darndest time finding an appropriate fabric I liked. Then I was on Fabric.com looking for fabric to embroider on when this Robert Kaufman speckled French Terry popped up on a sidebar and into my basket shortly thereafter.

It's a nice thick fabric, but be warned, should you follow my example in making it into a sweatshirt, it's a very stable knit, but not a very stretchy one. It worked great for the body, but I decided to do self cuffs/hems (turned wrong side out for some textural variety) and I had to recut a longer piece for the neckband, because it would not stretch to fit at all. The end result came out fine, but I expect it's a bit more open than designed. I also chose to top-stitch my hems with a double-needle in some hot pink thread for an extra (if subtle) pop of color. 

You may never see me wearing it in person, but have no doubt that I'll be popping this on every evening until and weekend until it gets too warm. 

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