Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday's meal

There is a really awesome bakery near me called La Farm. I mean awesome, like featured on Oprah's favorite things list awesome. Needless to say it can also be a bit pricey. Seasonally they have this wonderful pumpkin bread. I adore it, but it's $6/ loaf and probably a bazillion calories. I only want a bit so I end up throwing it away or it spoils before I can eat it all. I guess I could freeze it, but that wouldn't be the same. So I thought I'd make up some of my own. This recipe is just your basic sweet bread recipe, you've probably seen it before or have one of your owns. I don't put nuts in mine since my dh is allergic, but you could have nuts, raisin or cranberries in yours if you like...go wild.

Pumpkin Bread

2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of baking powder
1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of nutmeg
1 (15 oz) of canned pumpkin
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of melted butter
2 eggs
2 tsp of vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a loaf pan. Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl. In another bowl mix together the rest of the ingredients until smooth and then fold the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Mix until combined, but do not overmix. Place in loaf pan in the center of oven and bake until golden brown on top and toothpick in center comes out nearly clean. Approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and serve warm with a pat of butter.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My gift to me

So, 2009 is fast approaching and I've been thinking a lot about my health and continuing my weight loss. So, I started a weight loss blog to chronicle my journey. I call it Me...only thinner. I know, that's incredibly original...but you know it does say it all. I'm still me fat or thin...except you know, I'm trying to be thinner and healthier. I've got a clear plan, but I thought it would be helpful for me to have a record to reference and to keep myself focused. I hope to lose 25 lbs by the summer (June) and to maintain a healthy weight for the rest of my life.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas!

I hope everyone enjoys the day and the time with the family! I'm excited because I'm home with my family and not at work this year. Our day started off bright and early...the kids were bursting at the seams to discover what Santa bought them. My kids are thrilled with their haul and declared it the best Christmas evaahhh! I tried to stay within a prescribed budget, yet get everyone a few quality things that they really wanted as well as needed. I started shopping in September, I used coupons and watched sales, even picking up a few things at thrift stores. I'm happy to say that I was finished by Black Friday and paid cash for everything. It's funny what the favorites turned out to be. Who knew that the simple wooden fold and go dollhouse from Melissa and Doug would be such a big hit. I purchased it for O. (using a 50% off coupon at AC Moore), but M. is enthralled with it too. I added a few extra pieces from Ryan's Room picked up reasonably at Tuesday Morning. S. seems happy after stating he just wanted clothes and cash, lol. E. has serenaded us on his bongo drums (thanks Grandma!)I'm proud to say that I did finish the scarf for O. that matches her coat. Of course M. was only interested in collecting more Thomas stuff this year and has little interest in much else...luckily I started early with my coupons to get him a few of the pieces he doesn't already have. All in all it's a good day because we're together and even with everything that's going in our world I feel grateful to have my family, health, food, shelter and to even have the ablility to be able to indulge a bit this time of year. Anyway, I hope Santa brought you something fabulous. I'm off to spend it with the family and play the wii!!! WooHoo, wii fit here I come!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday's meal

Well, I thought since I was on a roll of southern style dishes I would include a recipe for a perennial favorite. Biscuits, they're good in the morning, good in the evening...heck, they are good any time. My ds, M loves biscuits so much he would just about eat them every day.
Oh and never fear...if you don't have any buttermilk on hand, just make some by adding a tsp or so of lemon juice or white vinegar to the prescribed amount of milk and let it sit for about five minutes and you're good to go. Enjoy!

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix all your dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Now add the shortening, mixing until your mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk just until moistened. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out fairly thinly 1/2-3/4 inch thick, cut with a floured rim of a glass or a biscuit cutter if you have one. Place 1 in. apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

UFO List

From time to time I have to make a list. I am apt to start a new knitting project or cut out a bunch of stuff without finishing other stuff and these list just keep me focused. I have quite a few things on my list, but amazingly enough I've been plugging through some of them as of late. Let's see now...what to do, what to do. Well there's...
1. O's quilt. I'm making progress, but there is probably no one in the world that despises hand sewing as much I do. I'm on the binding... and it will certainly take me forever. I have allowed that if I finish this by her birthday, it'll be a miracle.
2. Gads of undies for the boys. I have so many knit scraps and they need new underwear that it just makes sense to make them some. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself
3. Cross front (ala Diane von Fustenburg) dress. I've had this cut out since the summer. I don't even remember what size I cut it out as. I hope it fits. The fabric is going to give me nightmares. It's the lovely thin drapey, clingy jersey that seemed perfect in theory. We shall see.
4. Cloth ballet slippers for me. You know I have a thing about going barefooted so I thought I'd make up a couple pair of these
5. Jean capri's for me. Again cut out in the summer and thinking that the size I cut out is probably too big. I don't know why I even bothered I buy jeans all the time at the thrift store...but I guess it's just to say, I made them. It'll be my first time making actual jeans. That's right, I'm a jean virgin.
6. Weekender Bag. I don't really have anywhere to go...but maybe if I make a bag, I will, lol.
7. Slipcovers. they are not cut out or anything, but I've really been seriously thinking about them.
8. Finish knitting socks for me, E & O.
9. Finish O's sweater...ugh, this is one of those projects that I started off enthusiastically, but soon lost interest in. I shall return to it lest it be too small by the time I actually finish it.
10. Finish the tshirts I have cut out for the boys. I want these finished so they have some transitional clothes to go from winter to spring.

See there...just a few things.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ten Thousand

Several months ago I decided to put a counter on my blog. I was curious...was I talking to myself? I didn't mind if I was but I thought there was a chance I might have a few folks that popped in from time to time to see how I was getting on. Well...I've had over 10,000 hits. In the world of blogging that's nothing, there are sites that get that in a day I know...but if you're little old me sitting at home in the wilds of Carolina (ok...not so wild, but you get my point) it seems amazing. I love the world of blogging. I've met so many incredible people through it. I've learned so much and had my thinking challenged for the better. Anyway, just thought I'd share my milestone. Oh and...ya'll come back now, ya hear.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Modeled Shot! O's Christmas Frock

Her she is in all her splendor as we were heading off to her Christmas program. I tried to capture a picture that showed her coordinating tights. They were so cute...but she systematically picked a hole in them and then unwound the threads...maybe she was harvesting for lace weight yarn, lol.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Simply Christmas

I had to post a picture of O's Christmas dress that I just finished today and share a funny story with you. I'm pleased with the outcome. It's a very simple pattern from the Martha Pullen favorite appliques book. Very straightforward. Well, I decided to embroider a super cute Christmas tree that I got from SewForum (love that site!). Normally it wouldn't matter, but since I wanted the design to be on the front I carefully marked the piece I thought was the front...notice I said thought. I go through 10000+ stitches, 5 thread changes, sew it up, making sure I carefully press, turn and stitch my hems, attach the rickrack to the hem and was just about to mark where the buttons went when I realized that I had stitched out the design on the back of the dress! I was so annoyed, lol! It turned out not to be such a bad thing as my first stitch out was not very good and I needed to really loosen the tension on it. The second attempt was much improved and I was super careful and applied the design to the front this go around. It's just in time for O's Christmas program tomorrow. Oh and aren't the Christmas tree buttons just the cutest. I got them in a bag of buttons from Chez Ami...perfect.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday's meal

Now, I love myself some food and the following is probably my most favorite comfort food meal. I make mine in my treasured Le Creuset fryer and the sight of all that deliciousness brings a smile to my face every time. I always find myself licking my fingers and scrapping the's that good. Just try it and see. Oh by the way, in classic southern style is should be served over rice with some biscuits on the side. If you have some collard greens too...well you're golden!

Smothered Chicken

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups finely chopped onions (I like white, but yellow are good too)
1 cup finely chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Dredge in flour, place in the skillet, and brown on all sides (note that chicken will not be fully cooked at this time). Set chicken aside, and drain skillet, reserving about 1 tablespoon oil.
Reduce skillet heat to medium-low, and stir in onions, celery, garlic. Cook about 5 minutes, until tender. Stir in the flour, and cook 5 minutes more. Pour in the chicken broth, season with cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil for approximately 1-2 minutes and reduce heat to low. Place chicken in the skillet, cover, and continue cooking for 30 minutes, until chicken juices run clear and gravy has thickened.

Friday, December 12, 2008

My super power is...

sewing fast under pressure. Let me explain. From a kids perspective I guess when your mother sews you take for granted that whatever you decide you want her to make can be accomplished lickety split. Case in point, yesterday M. reminded me that today was "PJ Day" at school. He excitedly told me how he would wear his pajama's and eat pizza for lunch. I smiled and suggested he could wear some of the flannel pj pants I had made him recently. He thought a moment and then said, "Well, you didn't make me a shirt for them". Ever quick on the uptake, I said "Oh, you can just wear one of your plain tshirts with them." For which he responded "I can't, we have to wear pj's." I attempted to explain how a tshirt could be considered pj's. Well...his little eyes welled up so finally I relented and said "Go upstairs and pick out some fabric and I'll make you a shirt." He came back with some scrap (of course it had trains on it...which he absolutely adores) that I was quite skeptical of getting even a shirt for a doll out of. I told him as much and then said I would see what I could do. Fast forward to midnight, I have traced out a tshirt pattern from my favorite Japanese pattern book, cut out the shirt and some pants and serged and top stitched them both. This morning he was all smiles. Of course since he was in bed when I was putting in the elastic I made it too large and had to take them in this morning. All total it took me about two hours to make the pj's but the smile I got was priceless.
I'll have to add a picture later. We were in too big of a hurry to get off to school this morning to get one.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Alright, so I might just have a problem

You may have heard that Linens and Things is going out of business. Well, I had been working on my goals list for 2009 and one of the things I hoped to accomplish was restoring some semblance of organization to my sewing supplies and fabric. So, I buzzed in there the other day and picked up some of the chrome shelving systems they had for sale ($36). I started off getting just one. Hmmm...I've ended up needing 3 plus a smaller shelf I relocated from the master bedroom. Not to mention that I didn't even address the 6 foot armoire that I have crammed full of fabric that I can't even get the doors to close on. I have a problem. I think it was easy to be in denial when the fabric was disorganized. I didn't realize how much I had. Ok...maybe I did, I just didn't want to admit it. I have stopped buying fabric in recent months and I will continue to buy very sparingly in the future. I don't know if I should go through it and try and sale some or just chock it up to the fact that it's my hobby and everything I purchased was because I really liked it and had some vision for it. I can say as I was going through it, nothing jumped out at me as something I now hated...I still loved most of it. Ugh, it really is a sickness. Anyways...I thought I'd share some pix. They were hard to obtain because the dimensions of my sewing room are so shallow and I couldn't get far enough away to photograph the shelving well. So here's a pix of my sewing room storage, 2 overflow shelves in the garage, one small shelf in the upstairs hallway. I photographed the uber stuffed armoire but it was so chaotic looking I thought I better not post it, lol.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday's meal

You might just think you stepped into that famous Ham store when you taste how delicious this ham is. Try it and see.

Fake out Honey baked Ham

Any brand spiral sliced ready-to-eat ham (5-7 lbs works well)
1/4 cup whole cloves
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 cups honey
2/3 cup butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Stud you ham with the whole cloves. Place ham in foil lined pan. Place the corn syrup, honey and butter in a saucepan over low heat, mix well until all butter is melted and glaze is well blended. Keep glaze warm while baking ham.
Brush glaze over ham, and bake according to manufactured suggestions for the weight of your ham (usually an hour to hour and a half). Baste ham every 10 to 15 minutes with the honey glaze. During the last 4 to 5 minutes of baking, turn on broiler to caramelize the glaze, watch closely as it will caramelize quickly. Remove from oven, and let sit a few minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Out of the box

When it comes to clothing I'm not a risk taker. I'm a pretty plain, jeans and tshirt kind of girl. But, every once and awhile I see something that pulls me out of my little box. I saw these 3 corduroy coordinating prints at Hancocks awhile back and I knew just the pattern I'd use them for. I love the fabric. It's a bit crazy, a little retro and funky. Very nice hand, not too thick and great colors. I actually had cut this outfit out for O. at the beginning of the fall in a size 3. It just fit, as my girl has had a bit of a growth spurt and next time I'd be better off with the size 4. Anyway, I finished it last night and she tried it on. She loved it. I even broke out the old snap press and used snaps rather than buttons. Oh, and check out that top stitching. Which calls to mind that I need to read up a bit more on my camera features...I couldn't figure out how to do a real closeup without getting a really blurry picture...but you get the idea.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This is the last time...

I promise. I went to the Patsy Aiken attic sale today. I had said that I wouldn't buy anymore fabric, remember? Well I couldn't not get some...not when I had been waiting for the new stuff to become available. It's beautiful as always. I can just see O. in some of the outfits now. I even resisted by not getting every print that I wanted. I thought I was a very frugal minded shopper. You just tell me if you could have resisted all these great fabrics.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday's meal

Well, if you're like me, you find yourself doing a bit of baking during the holiday season. I love a good brownie. Nothing is better than to bite into a gooey chocolaty brownie in my opinion. I tend to like mine chewy rather than cake like, but I wouldn't pass up one no matter the texture.
Here's a nice recipe that's even better since it has two kinds of chocolate to make it just that more delicious.

White Chocolate Chip Brownies
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp of baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 tbsp water
1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 of cup of chopped nuts (your choice and optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, Grease a 9" square baking pan. In a bowl mix the flour and baking powder together and set aside. Combine sugar, butter and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the semisweet chocolate chips and the vanilla, stirring until the chips are melted. Let cool. In a large bowl with an electric mixer (or stand mixer) beat egges until light, about 3 minutes. Beat in the chocolate mixture, followed by the flour mixture. Mix until smooth. Stir in the white chocolate and nuts (if using). Pour batter in the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes or until brownies just begin to pull away from the sides of pan and a toothpick in the center comes out almost dry. Cool brownies in pan, sprinkle with confectioner sugar. Cut and serve. Enjoy!