Monday, May 2, 2016

Blog update AND a new podcast coming in May! Stay tuned

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's Someone's Birthday

So here's the deal:
Let's pretend it's someone's birthday and you're out for breakfast or lunch somewhere.  The  birthday person is ordering a cinnamon roll or a piece of cake and you're all sitting around enjoying the moment and it's nice, but it's...well it's a BIRTHDAY.

Or maybe you're caught off guard.  Let's say it's an ordinary lunch and then someone goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid like, "It's my birthday."  Oh so now we're supposed to buy your lunch or something? I am unprepared.  I have no gift.  I have $3 in my checking account because my kid goes to college and I'm broke all day every day.  Maybe.  It could happen.

A birthday has certain elements that make it special and "hey happy birthday" is sometimes lame especially if you're in a restaurant and the reason you're ignoring your 5000 emails while downing a quick Wendy's is to be there for this person's big day.  What's big about it? It looks like every other day to me.

You need CANDLES!  yes that's right.  As soon as you bust out the flame, it's a party.
So who carries around candles all the time?
Well, as of today...I DO and so can you.

Introducing the 
courtesy of Altoids.
Never be at a loss for fire again.  

Here's all you do:

1.  Empty a small Altoids tin. (Scrabble tile is for size reference)

2.  Spray paint the lid.  I taped off the base so it would continue to slide easily.  No biggy.

3.  Then I laid a little tissue paper in the bottom to keep things from moving around too much.  You could use fabric, or scrapbook paper, cotton, or nothing if you choose.

4.  I put a green and pink candle in there (boy girl thing) and
a couple of "strike anywhere" matches.
Then I put a couple of cute stickers on the top and called it ADORABLE!

It lives in my makeup bag.
And I never leave home without it.
I am prepared for any birthday emergency!

And that kinda is a biggy.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pantry Raid

A well stocked pantry is the key to success in the weeknight kitchen.  No time to run to the store.  No cash for store running, and no motivation to do anything but act like

 a queen
 on the couch flanked by a couple of dog sentries, some knitting, a book on audio,  and comfort food that will still allow me to zip up my jeans in the morning.  
Many of my "go to" recipes require only a few simple ingredients: an egg, some pasta, some herbs and spices, cheese, frozen dough of one kind or another for instance.  Oh and an emergency brownie mix.  Key.  
I keep these things at the ready most of the time and always have the makings for a stir-fry or salad dressing or saute of one kind or another depending on that special mood, my creativity level, and what's fast, thawed, and ready for take off.  
I don't have a large pantry - well my laundry room could be considered my Kitchen Walk-In Closet, but inside the kitchen footprint is just a small closet with about 4 shelves.  I find keeping few ingredients that are always fresh is more important than an elaborate selection.
I like a variety of oils:  Canola (for baking mostly), olive (regular and extra virgin, peanut (for stir fry and deep fry.)  I have a good measure of Asian seasonings like soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, chili oil, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, Tamarind, and miso.  And then there are vinegars.  This is where it gets interesting.  I have a slight obsession.  And they have a really long shelf life so I'm inclined to indulge.  Essential:  Cider vinegar (for pickles and dressings,) wine vinegars (red, white, champagne, sherry,) seasoned rice vinegar, balsamic, and of late, a dark chocolate balsamic that is amazing.  You can drink it straight up, but I like it to dab behind my ears on date night, or occasionally drizzle on a grilled something.   
And then there's the unrefined "other side of the tracks" distilled white vinegar... Sadly this poor soul has been reduced to an occasional pickle, but most often -- a cleaning product.  However in that  respect he's highly regarded as we glow-in-the-dark Americans attempt to get all the pollutants out of our cleaning products. I buy it by the gallon.  However when it comes time to cook, I hate lugging out a big gallon jug of it, so I decided to raise his self esteem by making him an outfit before inviting him to dinner.

Here's what I did.  

I saved an interesting bottle.  In this case, a Knob Creek whiskey bottle.  I love its square unidentifiable shape and the tailored cork.  

I soaked off the label using a dishpan of hot water laced with baking soda.  Let it dry and used a funnel to load in the "juice".  

Then I made a cute tag.  I didn't stick on a label because it would just get icky after washings or drips.  This way I can remove the tag during usage and slip it back on when he's ready to go back into the pantry.

Distilled White Vinegar Made Fancy
If you think it's silly, I dare you to try it.  I think it's gonna make you smile every time you pull it out. And wait til your Mother-in_Law gets a load of it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Springtime and renewed

Most people who head out to Monday through Friday jobs are not that fond of Mondays.
Right now I am not one of those people and am somewhat privileged to work from home listening to books on tape and podcasts for about 6 hours per day.
I also get to do my laundry while I work.
It all sound great, but I am pretty isolated, what with no water cooler chat, complimenting the new earrings, or asking about how the anniversary dinner went.  I miss that.  I miss getting dressed for work.  I know, I'm a  real odd ball, but I'm a girl who likes to wear her knitted stuff out and I am literally all dressed up with no place to go.  Except Sunday, when I go to church.

 Lately, I'm a bit over dressed.  

I woke up to 66 degrees this morning.  It's promising to be a glorious day and I have spring energy (what spring fever mellows into with age.)  This weekend windows were washed, rugs were shampooed, the yard was raked and combed, lists were written.  And there were walks, and the grill was checked over, and the windows were open all weekend.  

We have two sets of company arriving in early April and I am enjoying the planning processes for each.  Making special welcoming spaces for the people I love feeds my need to nurture.  At this stage in my life with no children running around, and no grand children find I have all this good love energy that needs a picnic ground.  So I'm thinking about plugging it into some good volunteer work.  I needs to get out of the house and there in this troubled world I feel I can wear my Superknitter Ninja cape out to do some good.

So, that's my challenge for the week while I continue to air out the wintery  dust from my little corner of  the planet.

Today's Best Thing EVA:  Knit a Journey Podcast  I have really enjoyed Susan's philosophical and approachable way of connected people through bits and chatter of daily life and of course, knitting.  If you enjoy listening while crafting, give Susan a try.  

Be well.  Do some good.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

and then I woke up...

So yeah, here we are firmly planted in 2011 and feel like I've been somewhat asleep since before Thanksgiving.
Not that I've been lying around or anything.  There was plenty of  this:

and THIS:

a bit of THIS:

before we did THIS:

and then there was THIS:

(sorry for the poor quality)

and some of THIS:

and LOADS of THIS:

and then there was some of THIS:

and THIS:


So now we're well into February and my goal and To Do List need a good dusting off.  

Today's Best Thing EVA:  No Knead Bread
I'm not kidding, this works and is amazing.  I almost need to eat it all day long it's so good.  

One of the good things about living in St. Louis is that spring comes early.  We even had 80 degree temps last week for a couple of days.  It was crazy and we loved it!  But then the thermometer plummeted back to its normal number and we quickly closed up the windows and resumed the knitting, snuggling up to a movie, and napping routine.  

In the mean time I will continue making those long lists!  Preparing for the new season ahead is a wonderful exercise and although the thoughts of a magical but distant holiday season keep me warm every day, I can't wait to play outside more and dig around in my new garden.

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.