Saturday, December 13, 2008

Like Riding a Bike


Knitting is sort of like riding a bike. Well, sort of.


Remember these projects? They're finally finished! Yes, it took me almost 1 year to complete.

I was getting the knitting itch again but first wanted to finish certain things I already had on my needles (to make room for more...)

Funny how you can pick up a project and either completely forget where you left off or pick up just where you left off. Do you notice anything different about the gloves above? The opening for the thumbs - one is vertical and one is horizontal. Oops.

But once they're on, you don't notice the mistakes. And heh, it goes with the name of the knit pattern: mistake rib! They're from Last Minute Knitted Gifts.

And my socks, which will always remind me of the Grateful Dead, are from 101 Designer One Skein Wonders. Picot Edged socks with a few minor variations on how to pick up stitches in a more pretty fashion.

Now... onto some more last minute knitted projects for Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming


Two days ago, we had a ladies Christmas dinner at church. Apparently each year, the dinner has a theme with each individual table decorated according to that theme. This year's theme was 'Christmas Carols'. A friend (thanks, Kristen!) and I decorated our table with a white tablecloth, red dishes, silver utensils, fancy flowered wine glasses and white coffee mugs. In the middle was a clear vase filled with bare branches & red and cream colored roses. We sprinkled rose petals on the tablecloth, set a felt rose pin at each place setting and printed out our Christmas carol on shimmery gold paper, tied up scroll-fashion with a red ribbon.


Why did I tell you this in detail? Because... I forgot to take my camera. In my haste (I also made the main dish for 80 ladies) to get to the church on time, I arrived camera-less. Oh well. What I really wanted to show you were the rose pins, so I made a few more yesterday. They are very easy to make. I followed the basic instructions from here but made them into individual pins rather than a 'pomander'. The ones I made were hot-glued together, but if I made them again, I think I would take the time to hand sew them.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Bearly There







Working on


some new bags...




Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Corn & Oats

These did not last more than an hour!
I had to fend off hungry children
so that there would be some left for my husband.


Well, the not-making-another-post-about-food didn't last too long. I spent most of the day schooling and cleaning up my photos on the computer - all 8000+ of them! Ridiculous. I need to be better about printing and deleting. Also storage. What does everyone else do for storage? On a cd?

Anyway, getting back to the topic at hand: food. After seeing some of A Friend to Knit With's cookies of recent, I began rummaging through my recipe box and found 2 recipes that I haven't made for 12...13..14 years? Can't remember exactly. One is Orzo Corn Chowder and the other are Scotch Teas. Both are delicious and easy to make, especially the cookies, which taste very butterscotch-y, hence the name. Enjoy!

This tastes very creamy
but made without heavy cream or butter.


Orzo Corn Chowder
3/4 cup dry orzo
1/4 lb bacon (or a 2 oz. pkg of bacon bits)
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced or about 1 Tbsp dry (approx)
1- 32 oz. container chicken broth
2 1/2 cups milk (1% or 2%)
1 - 12 oz. pkg. frozen corn, thawed
A few shakes of ground pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp flour


1. Cook orzo in water, drain.
2. While orzo cooks, brown bacon in big pot. Drain grease. (I omitted this bacon step because I only had bacon bits handy & ended up throwing them in the pot directly with all else.)
3. Add onion & parsley & cook until onion is soft.
4. Add orzo and everything else (except flour) to pot.
5. Bring to boil VERY SLOWLY.
6. Put 2 Tbsp flour in small bowl with about 3/4 cup water, stir, then add to pot. Stir well.
7. Eat or keep until next day.
Variation: can add a pinch or two of cayenne, maybe some diced red peppers, doctor the spices?

Note to Self: Make a Double or Triple Batch next time.

Scotch Teas (Oatmeal Cookies)
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats
(or 4 packets of instant plain oatmeal that none of my kids want to eat)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 8" x 8" pan with pam or grease it. In medium saucepan over low heat, stir butter and sugar together until butter melts. Stir in oats, baking powder & salt. Fill the baking pan, flatten a bit. Bake about 20-25 min. After it comes out, let cool slightly and 'cut' into bars while still in pan. They do have to harden just a bit; otherwise they're mushy. (If you wait too long though, the cookies harden and are more difficult to cut.) Makes about 16 small cookies.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Crafty & Cool Giveaways


Giveaways 1-4: Head over to the Crafty Crow for some fun giveaways:

1. First, there's an organic bag & elephant from maya*made.

2. Second, there's a neat Christmas Craft mini book from Kids Craft Weekly.

3. Thirdly, there's a cute intricately patterned elephant softie kit from Louise Elliott Designs.

4. And lastly (for this Monday - Cassi has other giveaways), there a very useful Camera Strap slip cover from Shey (B).


Giveaway 5: Now Head over here to see if you can enter another giveaway... a Palm Centro from Molly's babycenterblogs.

Nutcrackers

Have you noticed that most of my previous posts of late have been about food or recipes? What's up with that you ask? Busy with schooling and teaching at our co-op leaves me little time for making other 'stuff'. At least my creative cooking serves a purpose: eating. Of course, that pastime is something I need to do less of, or so my hips whisper (scream?) to me.

Yes, a polka-dotted nutcracker.

So perhaps making other things should take precedence? It is December after all. Or should I rephrase that with...It's December???? (Where did this year go?) I did take some time last night to work on more bear bags and continue a half-finished knitting project that I started over six months ago. I'll show both those things soon, but for now, I leave you with a simple Christmas-y project my children did a few days ago... Nutcrackers.

We love the Nutcracker - the music, the story, the ballet, the little soldiers.
Never have used one for cracking nuts though...


A year ago, I purchased several wooden nutcrackers: unpainted, complete with hair and movable mouth (from Michael's in the dollar bin area) with the intention of having my children paint their own last Christmas... oh well.

My daughter has nicknamed hers: Einstein.

The kids had fun - even my 15 year old! I love how some are well-painted and some hastily so, making each one unique.

If you're looking for some other Nutcracker-themed ideas:

Martha has some great stocking stuffer items
(I remember these from years ago)
Nutcracker Stockings How-To (complete with templates)
A Nutcracker 'book' to read online
Cut, Color & Build your own Nutcracker Stage
Listen (and watch) the Nutcracker Suite (Part 1) and (Part 2)
Print out the Nutcracker March piano piece (intermediate)
Print out Waltz of the Flowers piano piece (intermediate)
Print out Trepak (Russian dance) piano piece (easy)
Nutcracker Ballet Lesson plan
Get the book from your Library Or read it online here.
Or get this version (with cd).
Listen to a Celesta (aka the sound of the sugar plum fairy)
Make some Chocolate Gingerbread Bars
Make sweet ornaments
Read about Clark's Nutcracker


I better stop now!

Monday, December 01, 2008

When Life Gives You Carrots...

... make carrot soup! Or at least attempt to.


Our poor neglected veggie garden should have been winterized quite sometime ago. My husband and sons were kind enough to clean the beds, pulling out roots and weeds and dead plants. The carrots that we had planted in the spring and had almost forgotten during September, October and most of November, were finally uprooted and brought lovingly into the house.


I decided to try out a carrot soup from this book. (except my book's the 'old' version) I altered a few things and made a nice big pot of it. My husband tried out a small bowl, and I took a sip from a spoon, thinking that the soup would probably taste better the next day if left in the fridge to 'marry' the flavors.

That would have been nice if one of us had remembered to actually refrigerate the soup overnight. I came down the next morning to see the big pot on the counter.

A brief conversation ensued:

"What do you think?"
"I don't know. What's your opinion?"

"We DID turn down the heat last night... maybe it's still okay."

"The bowl's still cold, the soup's colder... well, it's colder than room temp."

"I know... let's feed it to the kids first. If none of them get sick, we'll eat it!"


(That final sentence was uttered by my beloved by the way!)


Well, the soup met its reluctant demise. I thought all was lost until I spotted several sweet potatoes sitting forlornly in the potato basket! Anyone up for sweet potato soup?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Highlights of


Thanksgiving... yes, this is belated, but better late than never. Two days prior to turkey day, I received a phone call: our hostess' family was sick with the stomach bug. Before I even needed to politely decline the offer she had extended to us several weeks ago, she very graciously informed me (or rather ordered me), "don't come...why put you into that awkward position of wait and see what happens?" Thank you, Joy!


So Plan B went into action. For the first time in our family, we ordered a $40.00 turkey dinner from a local grocery store, added a few homemade touches, and voila! A tasty and stress-free Thanksgiving dinner. It was probably the most delicious, moist turkey that we've tasted thus far. (No offense, Mom!)

We spent the remainder of the day walking off the dinner at a local park,

gathering bits of nature

getting a good workout

and enjoying a slice of pie with homemade whipped cream.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Updates

Update on Cherry-Almond Coffeecake = Double-Whammy Semi-Flop!

Due to my recent hectic schedule of the past few months, I've been attempting to lighten my load (at least in the cooking department) by making double-batches of recipes to save time. Good idea in most cases. Not this one. Just means we have more to consume. (Note to myself: never double a recipe without first trying it normal size.) Actually the cake had a good texture to it but lacked flavor. I'm trying to figure out whether I should just look for another recipe or doctor this one up. I would say add more almond flavor and more cherries - maybe dried ones along with golden raisins. The frozen ones I used must have had little flavor to begin with, hence the flavorless cakes. But eating this with a dollop of pumpkin butter helps it!

Update on Crafting = Simple Start 1

I'm on the collecting sweaters and felting (okay - fulling) them in the washing machine rampage again. One baby step closer to creating.

Update on Crafting = Simple Start 2

I've been in the mood for a denim skirt for winter but don't want to pay full price for something. I found these 2 (both too small for me on their own) in a thrift store and think they may work if pieced together. Of course, I'll have to make a few alterations along the way.


Update on Potato Soup = Thumbs Up!

Except add more seasonings: more dill, more pepper, add in garlic. Omit water, omit cream, add more bacon, use different potatoes... so basically change the original recipe. But otherwise, good. Enjoy.

Potato Soup (adapted from this one)
1 pkg Trader Joe's uncured bacon (this is not a full pound by the way, just in case you're thinking fat overload!)
1 onion, finely chopped
20 (approximately) small Yukon gold & Red gold potatoes, cut in half or quartered (skin on)
1 Tbsp dill weed (dried variety)
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Few shakes of garlic powder (or use real garlic, minced & saute with bacon & onions)
1 32 oz. container Trader Joe's low sodium chicken broth
1 cup water (or wine) - optional
1 can evaporated milk
Trader Joe's French Fried onions (as topping)

Cut up bacon with kitchen scissors so that it's in 1" pieces. Cook this and onion (& garlic if using) in skillet until bacon is browned & onion is soft. Drain the grease. Add all but milk & onion topping to a crockpot. Cook on low for about 6 hours. May have to increase temp to high so that potatoes are soft. Right before serving, stir in evaporated milk. Warm through. Serve with French Fried onions (or shredded cheese). My husband likes it with a few drops of hot sauce. Note: it is a more chunky thin soup rather than a creamy potato soup.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Is it an 'H'?


Today's weather has been weird, vacillating somewhere between snow flurries (too big to stick) & hail (albeit brief) with moments of calm thrown in for good measure. While my son decides to save the first (measly) snowball of the season...


I make a pot of potato soup and cherry almond coffeecakes. Don't know if either recipe tastes good yet. I'll let you know tomorrow.


Today also meant piano lessons, which for some in our family translates into joy and for others, conjures up feelings of embarrassment and dread. Of course, the latter is due to lack of practice during this past week. Oh well. And yet, we forge ahead. Today we spent the car ride practicing our note flashcards. Or at least the kids did as I drove. All I heard were things like...

"Is it a C?"
"No, wait...don't tell me... I know this one!"
"Oh, rats!"
"You don't know that one?"
"Quit stalling!"

Normal stuff. Until my youngest, who at this point is the only one who doesn't take lessons, yells out, "I know what that is! Is it an 'H'?"

Too bad there isn't an 'H' on the piano.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Craving Simplicity


Well, another month has passed. Many hours forgotten. Busy-ness seems to be my middle name. I am thankful for some simpler things though...

Enjoying good coffee: the homemade, freshly-ground, money-saving kind of coffee ...

Baking breads... banana, pumpkin and cranberry...

Recipe from this book. Try again? Not exactly... a little dry.

Celebrating my daughter's 14th birthday with a maple cake...

What's better than playing with something slimy?

Making 'gooey gunk' just for fun. Recipe from this book.

I'm hoping to set some time aside to make more of these, and finish the sweater that I began months ago. Maybe squeeze in some time for more creative endeavors.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Studying


That's about all I feel we (I) have time for at the moment. Oh, how I would love to pour myself a cup of coffee, listen to some nice music and blog for the afternoon. Visiting and writing. Ogling and editing.

But for now, my time is mainly spent with school things. Geography, history (2 different time frames for 2 different sets of kids), science (sea life for one set; physical science for the other set). And then there's math, spelling, grammar, writing, writing and more writing. Oh yes, and French, typing and...music...art (when there's time to fit it in)...


It's good and satisfying in many ways so I suppose I'll just have to be okay with blogging fewer times for now. At least until this season passes.


I did, however, manage to sew some new curtains for our almost-finished, re-done diningroom. The fabric is from Ikea. I bought it 2 years ago - I don't think they carry it anymore. It's very Marimekko-like. Notice the flooring? It used to be off-white wall to wall. Glad it's gone.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Art Show

Hidden behind this young man was my son's drawing of a dinosaur.
My daughter's pieces are on the right.
That shoe is the first pair of shoes I (well, okay, Grandma) bought her.


Last Friday evening was spent enjoying an art show of which 2 of my children participated. One side of the community art center's room was decorated with artwork (in various mediums) from adults in the area; the other side was hung with work from 2 different homeschool co-ops. My older children had pencil drawings and charcoal work in the show. And, like any opening, there was:

My younger sons tried to be dainty in sneaking the crackers & cheese.

the celebration food (child-friendly and non-alcoholic kind)

a beautiful building to house the show,

"Can we go home, yet?"
plenty of admirers,

and of course, the artwork.

It was a nice change of pace, a delightful way to end a long week. I hope they have more opportunities to participate in things like this.