Monday, November 22, 2010

A Day of Me

I adore my husband.  He's my best friend, he "gets" me, he's a good listener, can fix anything (no joke people), knows yarn lingo, brings coffee to my nightstand every morning, can buy a greeting card that will bring me to tears,  looks like Santa, and provides great bear hugs whenever I need or want them.  There isn't a day when I don't realize how incredibly blessed my life is because he's in it.
Sometimes he travels for a few days and my routine changes.
 Here are 10 Things I love to do when my husband travels:
1.  Eat cereal for dinner
2.  Skip washing my hair
3.  Make messes that can stay that way for a day or two or three.  (like a sewing project!)
4.  Leave spontaneous shopping purchases out in the open instead of stashing them deep in the bowels of my home where no one will see them...
5.  Sleep with the dogs on the bed
6.  Eat over the sink
7.  Watch chick flicks or Pixar movies back to back
8.  Stay up til after midnight working on a project and sleep in the next morning
9.  Talk to myself using any and all language choices
10.  Sleep in his tee shirts...sorry to be weird, but I guess I am kinda weird that way.   Well, and a few other ways too...

Cuz really, a couple of days is all I can take before I start to stare blankly into space having forgotten my role or rituals of daily life and number 9 turns to talking to him as though he were here.  Once when he went to Australia for three weeks, we even argued...

I know that the only consistent thing about life is change, so I guess one day things will be different and we will have to say goodbye to each other til we meet again.  It's that way by design and when you hit your 50's you start thinking in those terms from time to time.  But for now, I'm taking a minute to express gratitude for a great companion and a day or two of

And since you took the time to stop by for this, here's an amazing recipe from a dear friend of mine.  It came out of a church cookbook written by a whole lot of amazing Albanian Orthodox ladies who can cook like nobody's business.  They love their spinach and they love their Feta cheese.  It's a great brunch or pot luck take along.  Consider for days after Thanksgiving too when you're "turkey'd out!"
1 Pkg Fresh Spinach
16 oz. Cottage Cheese
2 Cups Bisquick
3 Eggs
1/2 Lb Feta Cheese, crumbled
1 Cup Milk
1 1/2 Sticks of melted Butter

Preheat oven on 350 degrees.
1.  Wash and shred spinach.  
2.  Mix spinach, cottage cheese, eggs, and most of feta and most of Bisquick (reserve some for topping)
3.  Add milk and mix well.
4.  Pour into a greased 9x 13 baking dish and sprinkle with remaining feta and Bisquick
5.  Pour melted butter on top
6.  Bake for 30-40 minutes.

I found a variation here that looks good too.  Not so much butter, some added parm and a sprinkling of green onion.  Will try both and see how they turn out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Comforting Things

Seeing my hand knit socks hanging on the drying rack makes me smile.  Dave and I now have a good inventory of woolly warmth going into the winter season.  Today I'm casting on his Christmas socks.  Cashmere.  Cuz he's so worth it.  And cashmere socks are about as good as it gets.
It's getting to be that time of year when the weekdays fly by and not enough gets accomplished in preparation for the holidays.  Fortunately I'm at the age where I have very little gift giving to do and most of my knitting or hand made items just need finishing.  This will make for a first ever - no holiday stress.  A little gift to myself.  (prepare for small rant here...)  In so many years past I've knocked myself silly with an intense number of handmade gifts most of which were never recognized or appreciated.
Oh well, adjustment made and we move on.  I think people who don't make things don't get all that's involved.  Shipping is pretty expensive too and now that we live away from all our family and friends, everything has to be shipped.
Creamy Crunchy Chicken Rice Bake

So here's a recipe I put in the category of "The Best Bad Recipe You'll Ever Make".  When my diet goes out the window and I need pure comfort I go to this recipe.  I've had it for 30 years!!! Back in the day when Cheez Whiz was king and no one ever knew what a trans fat was.  I might make this once a year.  Honestly it's so good, I drool just writing it down...

1 8-oz jar Cheez Whiz (gaaa!   I know...once a year won't kill you. Moving on...)
1 1/2 cups hot cooked rice
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 10-oz pkg frozen peas
1 2.8-oz can Durkee French Fried Onions (stop it!  I know.  But so is fast food.  Get over it.)

Preheat oven to 350
Combine cheese spread and rice, mix well.  Add chicken, peas (still frozen) and half the onions; mix thoroughly.
Pour into 1 1/2 quart casserole dish that is sprayed with vegetable spray.
Bake for 15 minutes.  Top with remaining onions and continue baking 5 minutes or so until they are lightly browned.
Serves 4-6

TODAY'S "SQUIRREL!!!!" MOMENT: Christmas decorating!  This will be the first Christmas in this house and I have to figure out how to use all my decorations from PA in this configuration.  It's a very small house, so it will be a challenge.  Must think simple.  But it's on my mind because next week is Thanksgiving and I'll be spending all weekend getting the house looking pretty for my son's visit.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just a Day

It's been sort of a disjointed day.  Work and listening to podcasts - right now it's The High Fiber Diet.  The lady who hosts it has a husband deployed to Afghanistan right now.  She's the closest person to me who is in this situation and she doesn't even know me.   I commented on her blog that she's in my thoughts today.  Just sayin.

Marie Osmond was on Oprah today talking about her son who killed himself last February.  Tough to get through when you have a child close to that age and recognized some of the signs during certain moments of those rocky teenage years.  My heart ached for her.


So this picture is of one of my house mates.  He (or she) lives between my screen and storm window over the kitchen sink.  I say "he" only because there seems to be a somewhat masculine demeanor (although the same could be said about Ellen Degeneres I suppose...)  I think he's a spider, but he looks a bit like a lobster too with those big claws coming out the front.  He doesn't show up every day, but he's gotten a little bigger since I first saw him almost a year ago.  So far we get along.  I leave him alone and he leaves me alone.  Frankly I'd prefer him to be a hummingbird, but hey.

I made a big pot of chili today.  The weather continues to be warm, but it seemed right.  I'm in the mood for Paula Deen food right now.  And curling up with this shawl around me.

Dave and I got back to P90X after taking a couple of weeks off.  It feels good to be working out on a regular basis again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Next Year's Garden

Isn't it beautiful?
We've decided to stay in our crappy little house for another two years.  I know, it may not make sense to those of you who know us.  It's a rental.  It's small.  It's on a busy street with no trick-or-treaters, but we are staying put and doing other things besides, packing, unpacking, hanging curtains (I'm still doing this after a year!) and looking for missing stuff.


There has to be a garden.  The area shown above is along the back of the house walkway between the patio and this weird stone foundation-like square in the ground.

I'm using the technique from  this book  which I've used before and it is awesome!
The technique calls for no digging or tilling, but rather layering organic materials and letting it sit over a season and having lovely, rich soil for planting.  It works!  You can use just about any plot - even hard packed areas with crappy stuff underneath.  You start by laying wet newspaper over the area and then add thick layers of peat moss, barn litter (manure), compost, yard waste, grass clippings, and other organic stuff until it's about 12 inches high. Then you let Mother Nature take over and wait for it to "cook".  The worms below will come up through the paper and turn and tumble through it all creating a lovely lovely growing medium.  So far I've gotten about 4 layers down and plan to have the rest finished before the end of the month.
That's the best part.

Today's Best Thing Ev-va:  Finishing Nick's sock - first one. (see yesterday for picture)
Today's Tasty Treat:  Real home made mac and cheese from Martha's website

and Today's "SQUIRREL!!!!!" Moment: Realizing my house is covered in a thin layer of dust from long neglecting this lovely exercise...  So I'll use the 15 minute timer technique and dust in one room for 15 minutes every morning till it's done... Actually we ALL KNOW it's never done.  You just begin again... which is why mine isn't done at all, but my sock knitting is!  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chalk it up to a Monday Thing

  • Yesterday was one of those days where you have to really step back and ask yourself what you learned from it.  

Coming out of our really great weekend I hit the Monday ground running.  Laundry flew from the hampers, dishes whizzed to their respective positions, and clutter was lassoed and corralled in almost every room.  My normally 5 hours of computer work turned into 6 hours (my choice) but because of the long breaks I took to tend to house stuff (read: DISTRACTION) it took me right up to 6pm leaving no time for dog walking since it's now DARK at 5pm.

I did prepare a lovely chicken pot pie for Dave out of Sunday's roast chicken - using crescent rolls for the topping - his fav.  And I decided to make myself a vegan casserole from Alicia Silverstone's cookbook, The Kind Diet.   I've made several recipes from her book and they have all been really really good - even Dave-the-Omnivore approved!  I craved The Barley Casserole  during all hours, the chocolate-peanut butter cups were a rich daily indulgence for a week, and her use of good, whole ingredients always makes me happy.  But I need to state firmly here and now that I DO NOT LIKE POLENTA!
This casserole had a kicked up polenta topping that tasted (to me) like child's sandbox scrapings.

( In the past I've purchased those cute little compact logs of polenta in the produce section of the store and expertly sliced them, fried them, and topped them with wonderful melanges of veggies, cheese, and herbs only to spit it into the trash.  I should have known.  Somehow I thought it was going to taste like a cornbread topping.)
 It didn't. 

I hate wasting food, but this is inedible for me and I have to let it go.

As I drove to the office at 7:00 I had a short but firm discussion with myself about the day.

  • Lesson One:  Set timers for break times and don't answer the phone, knit, watch TV, or clean the house.
  • Lesson Two:  Don't expect every recipe trial to be awesome.  There are going to be some duds, especially when wading into new vegan waters using ingredients I'm not familiar with.
  • Lesson Three:  Things did get done, I just have to look around to notice.
  • Lesson Four:  Tomorrow's another day, so just get over yourself.
I will use leftover veggies from the casserole debacle to make a new veggies saute of cauliflower, peas, asparagus, and corn, mixed with a lovely pan gravy and poured over mashed potatoes.  BRILLIANT!

And Nick's first sock is almost done, the laundry is half way to finished, and my dogs still love me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

An unexpected day off

So it's some sort of blog appreciation month where bloggers commit to writing every day, or so I've heard but have not taken the time to research.
Since I have been remiss (insert understatement of the year here) in writing my blog, I thought I'd make a better effort.  It's not that I don't have a lot to say, it's more that I am lacking confidence to think anyone is going to find my rather ordinary, yet extremely fulfilling life, very interesting.


Since so few people read this, then I can just write it for me!

And so I shall.

Today was a really good day, and it isn't even over yet.  Work forgot to put my Rubbermaid of papers necessary for me to complete my work into the mail-room where I pick it up, so I had an unexpected (and UNPAID!) day off.  I spent the better part of an hour steaming about it - getting nothing but... 
"My apologies"
 ...from my boss when I raised the issue via email.  

So, I decided to move on to take full advantage of the opportunity to get a jump on Christmas gift making, grocery shopping, yarn shopping (I know!) and preparing a great dinner for Dave and me which included some really good beer and a bottle of wine.  I even took the dogs for a nice autumn walk.

Keeping the heat off as long as possible has me in a big woolly mood and I've got fingerless gloves/mitts on the brain.  Both methods of cutting the sleeves off of felted sweaters as I showed here and knitting them from some soft yummy wool like these.

You can find lots of free patterns here.

Today's Best Thing Ev-va:  Going to my local yarn shop and learning I had $110 store credit to spend!  Took me all of 15 minutes to do so...
Today's Tasty Treat:  Trader Joe's grilled eggplant and zucchini.  Frozen and ready to to make into just about anything!  A little sauce, a little Parmesan and some pasta.  Yum and Done!
and Today's "SQUIRREL!!!!!" Moment: Finding a big ol' box of fabric I'd forgotten about to use for Christmas projects.  Spent almost an hour playing with it and pairing it up with things to make.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Another purse discussion

It's the week before Labor Day so I'm wearing  as much white as I can, because, well, you know the rule... 
I guess there are no fashion rules anymore so it's probably going to be fashionable to have rules again one of these days.
Actually my mother in law came to visit us a few weeks ago and we got to talking fashion.  She mentioned this neat sounding white leather bag she'd bought but couldn't use because of her shoulder injury.  She described it as having a big ruffled flower on the front.  We all know that ruffles are big right now.  I told her it was too bad I didn't live closer so I could take it off her hands - or in this case shoulder - and add it to my never-quite-enough-but-we-all-know-too-many purse collection.
A week or so after she left I got a package from Doug...

and I now own this great summer bag!

Which I feel I should use until Labor Day...

This morning's dribble is brought to you by yet another great idea for making this out of that...

Friday, July 9, 2010

A good morning routine

I have always longed for a solid morning routine.  Because my life has been so full of changes lately - new home in a new land, new exercise endeavor, new job...let's just say new life on so many levels, I have only been able to dream of it.  You can find me on any give late afternoon journaling about it, or having a silent conversation with myself, or writing a list about it.  It wants to be this:

  1. Have coffee - must have coffee while reading for half an hour.  
  2. No TV
  3. Yoga 1/2 hour.
  4. Walk the dogs, 1/2 hour
  5. Toss in 1 load of laundry, empty dishwasher (it's ALWAYS FULL), make bed
  6. Shower and dress
  7. Healthy breakfast
  8. Sit down to work
All this sounds great and lively and productive, but the only problem is that I would need to get up quite early to do all these things - like about 6am and frankly...I'm just not that much of a morning person... Which means I am groggy, late to get out from under the covers, needing to reheat the coffee that was so lovingly delivered to my nightstand at said 6am by my knight standing...ha ha  get it?  Anyway, I digress.  The point is that if I did everything on that list when I actually DO FINALLY get myself up, I'd likely be changing "healthy breakfast" to "healthy lunch".  

So what I do instead, is I read my favorite blogs and craft sites and catch up with all my cyber friends who really don't know me and I find little treasures like


Although you probably wouldn't need directions to make these (good strong magnets, some good strong glue, and old tins) but  there's lots of other cool stuff to check out anyway, so take a look here.

My morning routine will likely get better over time and as I continue to settle into my new digs, but for now, it's not a bad way to start the day.  Croissants anyone?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Check out this very cool way to use doilies!  with this Doily Table Runner 
These lacy little lovelies are easily found at 
flea markets, antique barns, and thrift stores
and for very little money.

Kudos to Ashley Ann (Under The Sycamore) for posting some great inspiration 
and to Country Living too!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Join the fun!

Here's a chance to win a spot in a class for learning some great techniques in layered, painted, stamped, the sky's the limit art doin.
Don't miss out!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

How'd Ya Like Them Biscuits...

Ask anyone what they love about a really great breakfast, and I think the winning entry will be biscuits. But really good, fresh, home made and not out of a pop open can biscuits.
Ask anyone what they dread about a really great breakfast, and I think the winning entry will be biscuits. And
Making the biscuits… 
In my decades of cooking, sharing the kitchen and its table with many people, friends, relatives, co-workers alike, I have deduced that pretty much anything involving a rolling pin is off the menu.

So what is it exactly? 
The mess?  Flour on the counter… and God forbid, the floor?
The space?  I know that a 2 x 2 chunk of counter space is an enigma few kitchens acknowledge as necessary these days.  We’re much more interested in flat surfaces for the almighty coffee pot, toaster, and catch all for mail and cell phone caddies.
The demand of their timing?  Maybe.  Biscuits HAVE to be fresh.  End of discussion.

It’s sad really, because with a technique no more difficult than wielding a blow drier along with a reliable recipe, biscuit making can become one’s signature and will get you invited to EVERY breakfast because you’ll be become a SOOPAH STAH with your world famous biscuits.

Pick a morning with no pressures and give it a whirl.  They really are hard to screw up.  The worst thing you can do to a biscuit it over mix it.  That’s it.  The rest is pretty fixable.  Too sticky?  Add a little flour.  Too dry?  Add a little milk.  Just don’t….what?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Beuller?     Just don’t over mix it! Write it down.

Yes, biscuits are best fresh.  Day old biscuits cash in their sex appeal in for hockey pucks.  And let’s face it, part of the SOOPAH STAH element is the smell you’re going to send throughout the whole house – freshly baking bread!
So here’s a simple recipe.  30 minutes start to finish – including baking. Type it into your cell phone to keep it with you at all times making SOOPAH STAHdome a reality and may just take it to SOOPAH HERO lever! - at a moment’s notice.  After a few times, you’ll know it by heart.   If you’re going to be performing tomorrow, you have today to check for ingredients and maybe run to the market for an ingredient or two before you start partying tonight.  Heck, you can pack the ingredients with your jammies before you leave and spend nothing then!  Biscuits require some pantry ingredients.  If there happens to be a food processor in town, you get to play with toys, otherwise, chances are the good lord has given you the implements needed to get the job done hanging off the end of your arms, with the exception of a bowl and a baking sheet.

2 cups All purpose flour
1 Tbsp Baking Powder (not too old please or it wont lift your biscuits)
1 tsp Salt
¼ cup  Cold Butter
¾ cup Milk (Buttermilk is best, but consider plain yogurt if you like)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and set the rack in the middle.

Step One:  Mix your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt)
Step Two: Cut the cold butter into small pcs and sprinkle them over the flour mixture.
Step Three:   Use clean hands to lightly but firmly smoosh the butter into the flour using only the tips of your fingers and not the hotter (palm) part of your hand.  Turn on some music and do this while singing to about 1 or 2 (3 minute) songs.  Small butter blobs are okay. This is the meditative step.
Step Four:  Use a fork and work in the milk until it’s reasonably incorporated.
Step Five:  Turn the loose and sticky mixture out onto a lightly floured surface (2 x 2 foot square)
Step Six:  Smoosh and knead three times with the heel of your hand.  No more. Pull it into a circle.
Step Seven:  Use a floured rolling pin, empty wine or beer bottle or drinking glass to evenly roll the dough to about ¾” thick.  Use a drinking glass to cut into circles or heck, cut them with a knife into triangles, or Isosceles triangles even! Honestly:  You can even pat them out to the right thickness with your hands.

Transfer them to a baking sheet and you’re off to the races.

If you want a perfectly golden glossy magazine cover look, brush them with a beaten egg (use a spoon if you haven’t got a brush.)  If not, it doesn’t matter cuz it only ups the wow factor and will have no real impact on their flavor or your SOOPAH HERO status.  I promise.

Bake them for 10-15 minutes until golden and you can smell them. The range is wide here because it all depends on the size you chose to cut them into and the working condition of the oven you’ve been invited to use.
I arrange them in a wooden salad-type bowl, or basket lined with some cloth.  A clean dishtowel works or a napkin.  Do what you can.  Get creative with a clean bandana or tuck in something from the garden. 

NOW:    The good part.  Of course, butter and a big ol’ plate of bacon is eggs is all you need for these babies, but if you feel like being creative,  you can add some things to the dough.  Fresh herbs, like rosemary, thyme, dill, chives make these biscuits great for dinner.  Add some roughly chopped raisins or dried cranberries and you can call them scones.   If you brush them with eggs, or milk, you can sprinkle with sugar, or cinnamon-sugar (Gah! So good for afternoon tea or morning coffee with nothing else.)

So learn to make biscuits for heaven’s sake.  Make them your trademark.  Your legacy.  You can be famous for your biscuits!

Wear your SOOPAH HERO cape around your waist…
fyi that's not me...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Goodwill A Go Go

Sometimes you walk into Goodwill with one thing on your mind...
That's right.
See, I needed a cheap crock pot to help launch my latest endeavor - yarn dying.  For over a year now I've been collected the lion's share of tools and supplies needed to dye my own fiber. 
  •  Too many  A few books with detailed instructions and color photos written at 2nd grade level...check
  • Fiber in several weights...check
  • Assortment of dyes...check
  • Funky chemical things like vinegar and sinthrapol...check
  • Rubber gloves....check
  • Measuring devices that won't get used for food anymore...check
  • Drying rack...check
  • Enthusiasm....check....always check...
Big pot to mix it all in....crickets....crickets...

So I figured Goodwill was a good place to start looking for a good sized crockpot or pasta pot.   Heck, any excuse to go to Goodwill I say.

Imagine my surprise when wandering in the household goods department in search of just the right implement,  when I spotted
these little gems all near each other!

So, into the cart they went and a new supply list started playing out in my head....

"I have two white shot glasses from Pier One that still have the tags on them...."

"I'll give it all a good scrub and dry"

and then stick it all together with some Gorilla Glue two part epoxy!

So that's what I did...

  and they all lived happily ever after...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spring fashion appears to be about a whole lot of citrus.  Especially lemon yellow.  Not a ton, just a splash here are there.

or this for your couch...

Maybe a garden dress...

So today, when you hit the grocery store, get inspired by picking up some of these....

and some of these....

And think spring!!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

I love a pin!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I HEART pins.  For some reason, they really speak to me in ways that other jewelry doesn't.  

Sometimes it's a chocolate poodle pin that I found on Ebay.  I have a chocolate poodle and wearing "her" on my chest, close to my heart is a way to express my love for her. 

Sometimes my pin is a campaign button.
Sometimes my campaign is a cause:

I have pins (and buttons) for just about every mood, holiday, season, and occasion!  And I have a lot of fun finding them in my travels, online (esp ETSY) and of course,making them.
TIP:  If you don't want to poke your shirt, thread your pin onto a chain and wear it like a pendant!

I wear this one to knitting group.  Isn't it adorable? I bought in here.
Here's a needle felted heart pin HOW TO:
  • Pick a pleasing mixture of wool roving and blend it lightly - keeping it in its lengths.  Or use a plain, solid color.
  • Find a cookie cutter in a small heart shape.  The one above is approximately 2 inches at the widest width.
  • With a single or multiple needle tool, felt the roving into the inside of the cookie cutter.  When you can, remove the cookie cutter and continue felting with the need smoothing it out.
  • Continue until nice and smooth. And then do some more cuz you want it very nice and smooth!
  • Embellish with beads, buttons, charms, silk flowers, or mixture of all. I used a sewing needle and thread and burriend any stitches toward the back.
  • Add a pin back with small stitches or glue.  (Note:  I sandwich a small piece of commercial felt between the pin and heart for added strength and stability.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dishtowel Valance in 15 Minutes. On your mark, get set...


I’ve had these dishtowels kicking around for quite some time.

Too pretty to mess up doing dirty kitchen work.
No sense in having them if I’m not going to use them.

I chose them because I liked the earthy green color and the artichoke motif.

My kitchen has just one window over the sink and I don’t really want to block out the light or the view of the back yard.
So I decided press the towels into service over the window.
Here’s how I did it in 15 minutes, and with 3 sewing steps.
I know, right?

For this project you will need:

3-4 clean kitchen towels that have been
washed and dried and pressed

1 spring-tension curtain rod
(1/2” diameter) that fits the window

Sewing machine with straight and zigzag capabilities

Matching thread


Step 1

Back in home economics class (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) I learned how to install a zipper using scotch tape. I decided to apply the same principals here. Since the seams are already finished and I didn’t want to create bulkiness or a raw edge, I butted the seams of each towel along their side edges and taped them in place.

Next I set my sewing machine on the widest zigzag I have and positioned the foot centered over the trough where the two towels meet and zigzagged right down through the tape catching each towel at the left and right. Repeat with second towel.

Pull off the tape from each side et voila!

You now have all three towels nicely connected into one large rectangular “curtain” piece. (wish I’d taken a picture at this step, but it’s too late now, so close your eyes and picture three towels sewn together at the sides. Nice huh?)

Step 2

Next I folded the curtain piece in half horizontally matching the top and bottom together ALMOST!
Note in the picture above that I did not butt the back EXACTLY along the bottom edge, just to be sure it wouldn’t show from the front.

The artichoke motif is now at the bottom looking at you there’s a fold at the top and the other half can not be seen from the front side but is hanging nicely against the window.

Use your iron to press on the fold.

Measure 1.5” from the fold. Mark with chalk or other invisible/washable marker.
(I keep soap slivers which are great for this!) Recycling yet again. Love that!

Stitch a single, straight line all the way down the marked line.
...and we're sewing...

Step 3

Measure second line repeating Step 2 except
THIS TIME MEASURE FROM THE STITCHED LINE YOU JUST DID instead of the fold, marking and stitching just as before.

You know have a pocket for your curtain rod and a nice ruffle across the top.