Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday's Meal

The recipe says it all. Delicious!

Apple Strudel

1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup boiling water
2 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and chopped ( you'll need about 1 1/4 lbs total, and of course you could try another apple you like)
1/4 cup honey
3 tbs. of all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon, plus a bit more for dusting the top of your strudel
1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg
8 sheets of phyllo dough

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with nonstick foil or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In a small bowl combine the cranberries and the water. Let stand 5 minutes and then drain. In a large bowl combine the apples, softened cranberries, honey, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss until well blended. Now unroll your phyllo dough onto a floured work surface. Cover with a damp towel. Separate one sheet and place it on to a clean surface, spray lightly with nonstick spray(or you could brush a bit of melted butter on it instead) and dust with cinnamon. Keep coating and dusting until all the layers of phyllo have been done, now spoon the filling along the long side of the phyllo dough, about 2-3 inches in from the edge and leave 1 inch at either end. Fold your short sides over the filling, then roll from the long end jelly-roll style. Place seam side down on your prepared baking sheet. Spray with nonstick spray (or butter) and dust with cinnamon. Bake for 35 mins, until nicely browned. Let cool and then slice and serve...goes great with vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why I can't quit my day job

First, I actually like my job so I haven't actually contemplated quitting...but if I did, here's the very reason why I might have to reconsider. Fabric! I love it...I have a lot of it too. But who could resist picking up some of the new offering from Patsy Aikens. They are absolutely stunning and the quality is superb. Just take a gander and you tell me if you could resist.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm going to be a pattern tester

I'm so excited. My friend, Dawn of Olabelhe Designs asked me personally to test her new pattern. She's extremely talented and I know this new pattern will be a huge hit. I'm digging through my stash and even talked to her about my fabric selection. I can't wait to get started.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday's Meal

Living in the south you learn to appreciate a good pimento cheese spread sandwich. Anyway, I thought I'd share this recipe with you.

Pimento Cheese Spread
2 cups of velveeta cheese, shredded
2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped pimientos
1 tbsp pickle relish
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp ground pepper

In a food processor pulse cheeses until they resemble a fine meal. Add the mayo, and process until creamy. Add pimientos, relish, onion powder, salt, hot sauce and pepper. Process until blended. Serve with crackers, pita chips, or toasted bread. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Homemanagement Binder...My life in a notebook

Well...sort of. I've always used a filofax/dayrunner system that I kept my calendar and little notes to myself in. As the size of my family grew, well so did my system. I needed something to keep everyone's needs, schedules, to do list and just the day to day stuff straight. At one point I had a lot of info on my sony clie pda, that is until my dh "borrowed" the power cord without telling me and it powered down and dump all my info. I was devastated. I don't think I could trust technology to that extent again. I mean I had tons and tons of info on there. I was furious to say the least. However, not to be deterred, I rebounded and began to think about the type of person I was...I'm not a techie...I like a visual, I like writing things down (I really believe it helps me remember them better) so maybe a notebook would be better. So, I got online and googled Home management notebook. Stumbled across some great sites, free printables and a really inspirational blog. I looked at tons of other notebooks, flylady, I looked at stuff I had been using (The Amy Knapp family planner among others) and made a list of what I thought I needed in my notebook. Next I went to Big Lots to gather my supplies. I got a Mead 3 ring zippered binder, a heavy duty zipped pouch, page protectors and plastic subject dividers w/pockets. That was a good start. I later added card holders and a bunch of stuff to the pouch (glue, scissors, tape, post its, hole punch, pencils, sharpie, pens and a calculator just to name a few). Then I got to work deciding which printables to use in my notebook. I found tons that work well for me on Organized and Then I began to put it together.
The breakdown of my binder is like this

I have in a page protector the current month's calendar and on the reverse side the current year's calendar.
In this section I also have a 7 day calendar that I jot down my weekly plans.
In the pocket of the divider I keep a stash of blank 7 day calendars

Pending/To do items
Just what it says...things that I need to do, file away or what have you.

Phone numbers/Contacts
A list of emergency numbers, numbers of friends and family and business cards stored neatly protective sleeves ( intended for baseball cards).

All generic things related to keeping the house
My house cleaning schedule
A copy of the flylady routine
A stain removal guide
Master grocery list
7 day menu planning pages

Takeout menus

Master spending plan
Manila envelope for receipts
A page protector that I store coupons in until I can organize them in my coupon binder
A home budget book
A pocket for bills that need to be entered online to be paid

Projects and Interest
A page for household projects
My personal project goals
Clippings, articles, craft patterns, notes on things I want to try or make

The parents
Stuff pertaining to me or dh
My work schedule

Health and wellness
An exercise journal
Info on diet and nutrition

That's pretty much what's in my main home management binder.

I also keep smaller separate binders for the kids that contains all their school stuff, schedules and forms that need to be dealt with and another one for recipes I've gotten online or from magazines (I put them in page protectors to save them from messy cooking).
So, that's it in a nutshell. It's how I stay partially sane and organized while working and caring for my large family. If you're on the hunt for a system, I hope you'll give the notebook system a try. It's changed my life...really.

Now here's a pictorial of some of the items in my notebook just to give you an idea of how it looks.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Knit and Learn

Ugh! I should so know better. I like to knit late at night while lying in bed watching tv (I know, multi-tasker) and sometimes leave my in progress work on my bedside table. kids (remember how I said I never finished anything before because my kids always pull it out. Well, I go walking in my bedroom and my little darlings have not only pulled off at least a weeks worth of my hard work, but also unrolled my ball of yarn. I was so upset. Now, it's only taken me three days, a look at knittinghelp, a trip to the library to check out a book on fixing knitting mishaps, and about a hundred rows put on my needles only to realize that I had been purling when I should have been knitting. Finally today, a breakthrough. I finally ripped it out (isn't the term frogged) down to where I thought it looked right (way, way, way down...oh I will never finish this sweater) and started again, for the millionth time. I thought about what it said in that very helpful library book...and low and looks right. Now, I had planned to do some sewing this evening, but I think I will knit, knit, knit...oh wait, I'm should be purling some too., gotta love them or else you just might have to kill them.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday's Meal

This is one of my favorites and my family really likes it too. I love it for it's simplicity and it's great flavor. It's a one pot meal, or you could even do it in the crock pot...whichever you prefer.

Chicken Stroganoff

2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onion, thinly sliced and diced
1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
8 oz. of thinly sliced button mushrooms (or whatever mushrooms you happen to like)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1/2" strips
1 cup of dry white wine
1 cup of chicken broth
2 tbsp bbq. sauce
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 cup sour cream

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in large sauce pan ( I use my large dutch oven for this) over medium heat. Add the onion and cook them until softened, about 7 mins. Add green pepper, mushrooms, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook until mushrooms give off their liquid and are tender. Transfer just the cooked veggies to a colander for later, reserve the liquid in another cup. You should end up with about 1/2 cup of liquid. Return your pan to the heat with 1 tbsp of oil. Season your chicken with the remaining salt and pepper and then add it to the hot pan, cooking until cooked through and golden brown, when done remove chicken and set aside for later. Now pour the wine, broth and liquid vegetable reserve back into the pan and bring to a boil. With a spoon, loosen any brown bits stuck in the pan and cook into the sauce. Add the bbq sauce, worcestershire, mustard and hot sauce, whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil, boiling until it's reduced by half. The liquid should thicken, if you don't feel it's thick enough you can dissolve some flour or cornstarch in a bit of the liquid you remove from the pan and then add it back as a thickener. Reduce the heat and then whisk in your sour cream. Do not let the sauce boil. Add the chicken and vegetables back to the pan and simmer until heated through. Serve over rice or noodles. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chez Ami meets euro sweetness and something for a train lover

Did a bit of sewing for O and M. The first was a special request from M.. He's my fabric lover and never complains about the many hours spent at JoAnn's. He has a keen eye and knows what he likes. He picked up this red Thomas the tank engine cotton from Hancocks and I just happened to find a coordinating blue fabric in the same line at Walmart (for about half the price, I might add...I'm going to miss Walmart's fabric department when it's gone). He requested a backpack. So, I made him the tot pack from Sewbaby. It's the perfect size to carry his little treasures. I embroidered his name on it for that personal touch. He loves it and was so sweet in thanking me for making it for him.

Now, the little dress I did for O. is a real walk on the wild side for me. I'm more of a black and beige kind of girl and certainly don't usually combine more than 2 colors together at a time. Well...I had this chez ami fabric from the festival line for awhile and knew the little dress from Ottobre 3/06 was the perfect project to cut into it for. I used 4 different fabrics, some rickrack and ribbon. That's a lot for me. It was a bit more involved in the usual Ottobre pattern. I think there was about 10+ pieces to cut out which is a bit more than the average ottobre pattern. I love how it came out. I did a rolled edge on the 2 of the ruffled layers and used rickrack on the middle one. I think the ribbon ties add a sweet touch and dd looks super sweet twirling in it. However, dh took one look at it and said, "Why did you have to use so many different fabrics?" Now, you can see how we ended up together, lol.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Swimsuit coverup

Getting a bit of sewing in between playing nurse maid and feeling under the weather myself. I whipped up this swimsuit cover-up for O. using the Miss Molly pattern combined with some fun embroidery that I got from Sew forum. I made the dress out of some luscious terry cloth purchased at the Patsy Aiken's attic sale. At the time I didn't know what on earth I'd do with it, but I knew it was a pretty good deal. I'm still working on my placement of designs, I probably should have put the flip flops up a bit higher, but I didn't want them to crowd her name. Overall I'm pleased with it and will probably use the leftovers to make one for my little niece, N.

This is the only view I could get where you could see I had put her name in stacked curlz font.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tiny dancer

I just signed O. up for a dance class. This is her first time taking a dance class and I wasn't sure how she'd like it since when we did Kindermusik she wouldn't participate. Well, surprise, surprise! My girl loves it. I think it's the twirling and the flowy costumes. I wanted her to have a pretty leotard to wear so last night I traced, cut out and whipped up this one from Ottobre 1/07. Very easy and so cute. I used some scraps I had from another project. I plan on making her one more. I just love the little flounce ruffle. I did a rolled hem on it.
Anyway, here she is my little dancer. I have no idea why she is making that strange face, but oh well, I'm lucky I got her to stand still long enough to take the picture, lol.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Feel the burn and a recipe

I am super excited. I'm really trying to adopt a good exercise routine. I started to change my eating habits last April after seeing an episode of Oprah with Bob Greene (I just love him). I gave up sugar, lots of processed and white things. Then I really started working out in earnest in October, slacked around the holidays...tried to step it up again in April, to that end I began to keep a food journal and see a nutritionist...oh and I joined a real gym. Well since I wasn't in the worst shape, I found the classes doable which was good, but since like Bob eating is not perfect so I either needed to workout more or eat less. Guess which I picked. I decided last week I would start running. Me, a runner? Well, I got online and found a program that takes you 9 weeks to go from the couch to a 5k (3.3 miles). I thought that was a bit fast for me. So, I'm modifying it to be about 16-18 weeks. I'll do some weeks twice before moving on to the next. So, I've been jogging on the treadmill like this, 3 mins of walking at a brisk pace then 3 min of jogging and I repeat that for 20min. Next week I'll add time to get to 30 mins. Eventually I hope to be able to go for an hour at least but you have to start somewhere. I'm serious about this too, I even purchased new running shoes and a heart rate monitor. Very fancy. After today's workout it said I had burned 1205 calories. Kick ass! I don't know if I believe it, but I feel good. Got to be sure to get in that protein though or I'll lose muscle. Tomorrow is spinning. I got a seat cover so I hope my but doesn't feel like it did the first time. Well enough about this. You're probably looking for a recipe aren't you?
Funny, after all this talk about weight and fitness, I'm going to share a dessert recipe that I got from my friend Linda. Well...all things in moderation right?

Linda's strawberry pie


1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
6 tablespoons strawberry Jello (1 3-oz package)
1 1/2 pint fresh whole cleaned strawberries
1 (9 inch) deep dish pie crust (pre-baked)

Blend sugar, cornstarch and water together and cook to almost pudding stage. Add Strawberry Jello. Place drained whole fresh strawberries into baked deep dish 9 inch pie shell. Pour cooked mixture over berries. Chill 2 hours at least. Top with Cool Whip.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lookie, lookie at what I made

You know I'm trying to get my knit on. Well...I have collected a ton of needles from thrift stores and ebay (I know I probably should come off some money and get really great needles...but these are actually ok, I checked out the different brand feedback before purchasing on a bunch of knitting websites).
I have a ton of flannel from the annual JA's $.99 sale. Can I tell you while they have the best prints, I have come to realize that I absolutely hate flannel. Well, I should say I don't know what to do with it. My kids don't like it and we live in a moderate climate that you don't really have the opportunity to need flannel clothing. I've made some lounge pants and bags, but still the flannel will just not die! So...I thought, hmmm...I'll make a knit roll for my needles. So, that's just what I did. I should have paid more attention to what I was doing since I should have stitched the pockets before attaching them to the outer fabric. Oh's utilitarian although far from perfect...sort of like me. Oh...and here's a picture of my progress so far on the sweater I'm working on. I'm knitting on my size 8 addi turbos. I'm digging them. I actually feel like a real knitter using them, lol. I might just finish this sweater before Christmas.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Catching up on picture sharing

I do sew fairly often though not daily even though you might never realize it since I can be slow to post pictures. Here's just few things that I've photographed, but hadn't posted until now.
The first, is a "Miss Molly" sundress, or should I say Miss O sundress. I love the fabric. It's fun and funky and not our usual pink. I got it from another mama on Sewingmamas. It's a sweet a-line style calf length dress with an unexpected curved bodice. I love how fast it went together and it seems like it will be super versatile for summer. I will probably make her one to use as a coverup for swim lessons. I wonder how it will be in terry cloth?

This next outfit I did awhile back, just as the weather began to warm up. I've had the fabric for ages, it's from Joann's and is actually a nice weight twill probably more suited for fall, but I thought what the hey, I'll use it anyway. I love how the floral and the stripe went together and for once O. actually seemed to enjoy being photographed.

Last, but certainly not least is the shirt I made for M. for his preschool graduation. He picked out the fabric. Why he wanted stripes, I'll never know, but he was absolutely dead set on them. The embroidery on the front is a little graduate cap with 2008 on it.The shirt is my tried and true Kwiksew for Children pattern. Gotta love that Kwiksew. So simple and sweet.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A bit of a sewing hiatus and other thoughts

I've thought a lot about what I want to sew lately...but other than my Oliver + S knockoff, I haven't done much at all. I'm going to have to schedule myself some time to sew. The hours in the day seem to be getting less and less, and I seem more and more busy. I've joined the gym and that has really cut into my ability to be a slacker. I've committed to spending a little (a very little) less time surfing the internet, I haven't seen DOOL in a month (wonder what's going on in Salem). And you see, as I was just discussing with my dear friend, Dawn I have come to realize the little time I have I want to do things I really enjoy. I want to read, bake, sew, knit, hang with my kids and husband, go to the park and garden. I have become a woman who is happy in her own skin with her own company. Happy to experience and explore the things that make my heart sing. I become more completely me with each passing day. Gosh...who knew your 40's could be so life altering.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Monday's Meal

I love good food, I mean who doesn't really. The following is absolutely the best mac and cheese recipe I've ever had. It's absolutely the ultimate comfort food. Creamy and so filling. You can substitute different cheeses if you like, it's good either way.

Baked macaroni and cheese

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni
1 stick of softened butter + 1 tbsp
1/2 cup shredded Muenster cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
8 ounces cubed processed cheese food (like velvetta)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 2 1/2 qt baking casserole dish or similar.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until just done; drain well and return to cooking pot. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 8 tablespoons butter; stir into the macaroni. In a large bowl, combine the Muenster cheese, mild and sharp Cheddar cheeses, and Monterey Jack cheese; mix well. Now add the half and half, 1 1/2 cups of cheese mixture, cubed processed cheese food, and eggs to macaroni; mix together and season with salt and pepper. Transfer everything to the casserole dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese mixture and 1 tablespoon of butter.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until cheese is melted and hot and bubbling around the edges.