Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A blog award!

I just got nominated for a sweet little award, how cool is that? This honor came to me from the super sweet blogger and mother of Faith at Sew Much to Love.
Thank you so much and I can't tell you how appreciative I am! It's always surprising to realize that when you're sitting at home doing your own little crafty thing that someone else besides you might appreciate your efforts.

Now to list 5 other blogs I adore.

Heather of Heather K photography (you inspire me with your artistry, wow mama, wow!)
Chi-Chi of Where there's a will there's a way (what heart and intelligence you have, amazing)
Steph of Steph's random life (we have to meet, neighbor)
Momma-Mae of A Hodge-Podge Life
The Layne Family (well the mom,lol)

Run and check out all these fantastic blogs and see if you won't adore them too.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday's Meal

The weather is getting warmer and every now and then I like to have some light fare. I've had this delicious salad in my recipe collection for many years and when ever I make it, it's always a big hit with Italian loving Mister. Super easy and very adaptable. You can really throw in the things you like and not go wrong, the secret is in the sauce.

1 pound spiral pasta (or the pasta of your choice)
1/4 pound Genoa salami, chopped
1/4 pound pepperoni, chopped
1/2 pound Asiago cheese, diced
1 (6 ounce) can chopped black olives, drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 small container of cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, and cool. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, salami, pepperoni, Asiago cheese, black olives, red bell pepper, green bell pepper and tomatoes. Stir in the envelope of dressing mix. Cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Now prepare the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, parsley, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Just before serving, pour dressing over the salad, and mix well.

Friday, June 26, 2009

In Search of...

Time. Today I was thinking about all the diy projects I wanted to work on this summer and things I'm in search of for the house. I'm looking for some end tables for the living room. I have end table in there right now, but the style does not jive at all. I'm not into matchy matchy at all but I've gone too far in the opposite direction. I think the same or similar style might look better. I don't think it will take me too long to locate some. In fact I know just the place to start looking. I want to finish some painting projects. Mister and I finally settled on a color for the bedroom, I'm excited. Goodbye green...hello sophistication! I really really really want to relocate my sewing stuff. I have a tiny sewing nook in a converted storage room and my overflow stuff is in the dining room. It's the stuff in the dining room that needs to find a new home. Our dining room is our only eating area as well as the first room you encounter when you walk in, it's a nice size, but performing so many function it's apt to look cluttered. I'd like the sewing stuff gone and the dining room reduced to just having two functions (dining/home office) instead of the three it currently has. I also really need to do another purge of the kids clothes. I guess when you have 4 kiddos you can end up with a lot of clothes somehow...go figure.
The problem however is when you make these long mental list you begin to put pressure on yourself to finish. Then you wind up feeling like you don't have enough time to finish all you had planned. Which in itself is ludicrous since none of these task are life shattering or on a particular timeline, they are just things I'd like to do. So maybe I should really be in search of patience and perspective. Stuff will get done when it gets done, right?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fabric Mail!!!!!

Is the best kind of mail. I got my order of Heather Ross Far, Far Away. It's lovely in person. It's this really nice double gauze cotton. I wish I had gotten more of the purple unicorn print since O. is mad for purple. Now just to get everything in the wash and ready to sew up. I've heard that there will only be a limited run of this fabric, but I'm going to try and not let that keep me from cutting into it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Work on it Wednesday

Why do I do this? I know I need to do these things, but still I procrastinate. I need to finish the end of the year teacher's gifts. I've known when end of the year was...well,since the beginning of the year. Yet, somehow it's snuck up on me and I have just a matter of days to crank out those gifts. Panic time! Ugh, when will I ever learn? So, I guess that's what I need to do. I need to put the foot to the pedal and get those gifts completed. I swear, this is the last time, I will not wait to the last minute again. Oh and of course I still need to finish the quilt for my niece.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The generosity of others

I really love freecycle.org. I've used it a ton to allow things that I don't necessarily need anymore, but that are perfectly good find new homes. I rarely ever ask for items on there, but recently when I wanted to start a garden and do some canning I asked for scrap lumber and canning jars. I couldn't believe how fortunate I was to get responses and receive what I was seeking. I don't have quite enough scrap wood to make my beds, but it's just that much less wood that I'd have to purchase, plus you know the who recycling thing and keeping it out of the landfill is a good thing. I couldn't believe the amount of canning jars I received. One lady gave me about two dozen jars of various sizes and together with the jars I already have I think I have about 4 dozen. I'm also planning on ordering a pressure canner from Amazon. I have my old Ball Blue book and I belong to several yahoo groups dedicated to canning and small scale gardening. I just thought I'd turn you on to freecycle if you haven't already heard about it. It's really an awesome resource.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday's Meal

Believe it our not I still have chicken in my freezer. What to make? What to make? Hmmm...how about scampi? Now, I would prefer it with shrimp, but since Mister is allergic to seafood and I don't want to have to take him to the ER, I'll just make it with chicken instead, but you could certainly make yours with shrimp if you prefer, it's good either way.

Chicken Scampi ala Mister

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
2 tablespoon lemon juice
4 boneless chicken breast halves, sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
1 sliced red or yellow pepper (optional)

In a large skillet heat the butter and oil over medium high until the butter melts. Add the parsley, basil, oregano,onion and garlic, pepper and salt and mix together in the skillet. If you are using peppers add them at this time too. Stir in lemon juice and the white wine. Next add the chicken and saute for about 3 minutes or until white. Lower the heat and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve over angel hair or linguine pasta.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Weight for it....

I love to sew, but I hate pinning when cutting out patterns. For years I've been weighing my pattern down with soup cans and other random household objects. But I had a light bulb moment and decided to start using washers as pattern weights. Ingenious I tell you and oh so cheap. Now I can cut out a pattern lickety split with my rotary cutter and not worry about the pattern piece shifting over the fabric, nor do I waste time pinning. These were super simple to make. I picked them up from my local Ace Hardware. They have all size washers to chose from. You can leave them plain or like me you can cover them with a bit of scrap fabric for a little more pizazz. I just attached the fabric using my glue gun, easy peasy. WooHoo...more time to sew.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summertime Dress

I've been doing quite a bit of sewing lately and whipped this little round neck dress up for Miss O. who promptly proclaimed "This dress is perfect for hot weather, I'm going to wear it every day". I got a kick out of that. It is perfect for hot weather. I made it out of some lovely fabric from my stash and it just looks fun and fresh. Here's a few shots of my girl in her summertime dress.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Work on it Wednesday

Since my regular tv programs have ended for the summer I've been introduced to some shows I didn't know about. One is the television show Mad Men and I have been totally sucked in. Thus, I've also felt very nostalgic of late. Well, actually my nostalgia has manifested itself as a yen to sew up full skirts and prim little dresses. My mind is full of aprons, peter pan collars and pearls. I've been on the hunt for the suitable fabrics and patterns. I scored some awesome retro fabrics at the thrift store and can't wait to get stitching. I was thinking of something like this or this or even this one . I mean it's definitely a look right. Very feminine...yet maybe a little naughty too. I think it's the undergarments. All those slips, stockings with garters, gravity defying bras, I am just fascinated. Coming from a tshirt and jeans kind of gal, it's quite amusing really. So, my big plan for today is to sew up a dress. I've got my fabric washed and now I just need to get everything cut out and stitched up. Oh, and I get to break in my dress form. I'm super stoked! Groovy man!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday's Meal

Got something good for you this week. A great side dish that will be a great accompaniment to chicken, pork or beef. Now who couldn't love that?

Potato Gratin

2 cups of heavy cream
1 pkg of Boursin cheese
2 tbsp of minced shallots
2 tsp of minced garlic
2 tsp of olive oil
3 lbs of Yukon gold potatoes (peeled and sliced thinly, about 1/3" thick)
2 tbsp of minced chives
1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to the taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degree F. Prepare a 13 X 9" casserole dish by brushing it with the olive oil, set it aside. Place the cream, Boursin cheese, shallots and garlic in a medium sized saucepan over low heat. Cook until the Boursin is melted and the mixture is thickened, stirring constantly so that it doesn't burn. Arrange half of the potatoes in the prepared dish, season with salt, pepper and 1 tbsp of chives. Pour half of the cheese mixture over the potatoes. Arrange the rest of the potatoes as before and then pour the remaining cheese mixture over them. Top with the Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for approximately 45-50 mins until it is browned and potatoes are tender.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Work on it Wednesday

I really need your help, pick a color any color. I can't decide and thus am paralyzed with indecision. I'd like to paint the half bath and our master bedroom. I know I keep saying that, but I can't decide on a color. Currently our master bedroom is a sage green (Laura Ashley Olive #3 to be precise) and it's been that color for seven years. It's a nice calm neutral, but I really am ready for a change. My home is generally done in warm autumnal colors. I've been thinking about some shade of light blue though. I think I could pair it with accents of red or black for a fresh modern look. The color for the bathroom...I'm open. I just need to do something in there. It's used to have a wallpaper border but E. removed part of it, so I removed the rest of it. I think a solid wall color would be better. So, what's your opinion. What color do you like best? I'd definitely like to get it painted soon, I mean what am I waiting for...it's just paint after all.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I heart Micheal's

In my ongoing decorating journey I have rediscovered a great place to find little decor items on the cheap for your home. That place is Micheal's. Who knew? And better still, they take coupons. For example I currently have three 50% coupons I'm dying to use so I can get a couple of items I have my eye on. Also with a bit of imagination you can really personalize your place on the cheap and who doesn't love that? Also they just started carrying a new line of yarn that looks great and the price is so right! So get yourself to Micheal's and shop until you drop!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday's Meal

Summer is upon us and it's hard to get enthusiastic about heating up the kitchen and sweating over a hot stove. But, what about the crock pot? The crock pot is your friend. Here' something delicious for you and your stomach. Enjoy and stay cool!

Crocked up Coq au vin

1/2 pound of sliced bacon, diced
1 4-6 lb chicken, cut up
1/2 cup dry white whine
1/2 lb of white mushrooms
1 cup of frozen small white onions, thawed
6 tsp of minced garlic
1 tbsp of dried rosemary leaves (use much less if using fresh)
1 tsp of kosher salt (or regular is fine)
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp of cornstarch

Cook the diced bacon in a medium skillet until crisp. Pour off all but a light coating of the fat and transfer the cooked bacon to the crock pot. Now brown your chicken in skillet and then transfer it to the crock pot. To the skillet add the wine and be sure to scrap up any browned bits, pour this mixture to the crock pot. Now add the mushrooms, onion, garlic, rosemary, and salt. Cover and cook on a low heat for approx. 6 hours. Remove the chicken and the vegetables and place on serving platter. Transfer the sauce to a small saucepan. Combine the water and cornstarch dissolving completely, stir this into the sauce. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Pour sauce over the chicken. Serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Deliciosio!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sock love!

I finished this awesome pair of red socks for myself. I say awesome because they are really warm and comfortable. Although I'm not an excellent knitter and they look exactly like they were knitted by a not so excellent knitter I'm still pleased as punch and ready to start on my next pair. They fit and that's the important thing since I'm super lax about doing a gauge swatch (I know, I know, I'll be sorry some day, but not today). This was my test pair. I made them out of worsted weight Plymouth Encore yarn so no fear of shrinkage or fading here. The yarn did pill and split a bit, but who cares since it's for socks I'll wear bumming around the house. My next pair will be made with exquisite Lorna's Lace sock yarn that I purchased ages ago at my LYS. I'm going to try toe up, two at a time on 2 circs. How's that for fun times, it should probably take me until Halloween to finish them, lol.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I heart this!

Bath and Body Works is currently having their semi-annual sale and I have fallen in love with one of their products. Like most people I want my house to smell pleasant and I'm always cleaning, emptying trash and burning candles. I wandered in to the local B&BW while out and came across wallflowers. Never having tried them I thought I'd be adventurous and give them a try. Let's just say they are divine and even if they weren't on sale for the awesome price of $5, I'd probably still buy them and for a cheapo like me that's saying something. So run, don't walk and grab some up while they're still on sale!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

By Request...

We all know that economic times are tough and we probably all have tightened our proverbial belts a bit. I however have always been a bit frugal. It's one of my frugal habits that my friend Dawn asked me to write about. I thought it was a worthwhile discussion so here it goes, red label meat and why I love it. First off for those of you that don't know, stores discount meats when they are getting close to their expiration date. There's nothing wrong with the meat they just need to sale quickly. Their need to sale and my need to save go together like peanut butter and jelly. To score these savings you need to know several things. You need to know when your store gets deliveries and when they generally do the markdowns.You also need to get there early. My favorite place to hit is Food Lion. I know they had that whole bleach thing in the past, but because of that I think they ruthlessly mark down meat now since they don't want Dateline showing up at their door again. My store generally does a big mark down on Tuesday mornings (I don't know if I should tell that since someone might be trying to get there before me, lol). Luckily for me I have a deep freezer in my garage and hence I have become the queen of the red label meat. Now you may have never considered this as a way to cut your grocery bills, but I'm telling you it's a great thing to consider. For example I found a pork lion on clearance that I will cut in half, hence getting two meals f($4/meal) from it and it was 40% off. This is the very reason I always chuckle at those morning show segments where they bring in some expert who will show the audience how to feed a family of four for $20. I generally come in under $10 for a family of 6. I'm talking meat, starch, vegetables and dessert. I also regularly shop at Aldi's and I'm not afraid of generics. I tend to cook from scratch rather than preboxed items. If you aren't afraid to crack open a cookbook the possibilities are unlimited. So next time you're at the store and they're marking down the meat, don't walk away, take a good look because you might just find tonight's dinner.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Work on it Wednesday

Well, I definitely need to work on getting myself to the gym, but since that's only an hour out of my life, I really should come up with something else to do with the rest of my day. I think I'll finish putting together my recipe collection. I've worked on it before and I have it about 70% done, but since I have so many recipes it's taking me a while to finish it all. I also want to split it up into two volumes, a dessert one and a main course/sides one. If I have time I think I might go through the kids shoes and get rid of the ones that no longer fit. Seems simple enough right?. Nothing super exciting, but hey that's life in fast lane. Next week though, I'm going to tackle that junk drawer. It's a mess so I need a week to mentally prepare, lol.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thrift Store Redux

A few months ago I purchased a couple of mid century wooden chairs with great bones, but in desperate need of some tlc. Always having an eye toward that diamond in the rough I knew these chairs would look awesome somewhere in my home even if I wasn't sure where. I found some retro looking upholstery fabric in the clearance section of JoAnn's fabric for $3/yd and picked up what was left on the bolt (about 5 yds). So after deciding to blow off the gym in favor of a little home improvement I embarked on my project du jour. I have recovered chairs before. There's really nothing hard about it. It just takes a bit of time. I did sew part of the back cover so that I could get a snug fit, but otherwise I just used my staple gun. I have to say a word about staple guns. I have used the non electric ones and I'm sure they are fine, but if you're doing anything made of hardwoods like the chair frames I was stapling into you need something with a bit of power behind it. I have an Arrow staple gun and it rocks! I did beef up the bottom cushion with new foam since it was pretty flattened and not very comfortable. Anyway, I will probably get to the other chair sometime later in the week. I have enough fabric leftover to make a few pillows too. So here are the before and after pictures. Let me know what you think.

ain't she a beauty?

Stripped down and ready for a new look

Flower Power! Much better!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday's Meal

Strawberry season is upon us and there really isn't anything better that just says, woohoo, summer is here! Well, I love to whip up homemade goodies so I thought hey, how about cake.

Strawberry Pound Cake
2 sticks of butter
3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup of strawberries with the juice
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shortening
5 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.. Grease and flour a tube pan and set aside. In a medium bowl add flour and baking soda together, sifting well. Set aside. In a large bowl cream shortening, sugar and butter together until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add strawberries and juice. Now gradually add the flour to the creamed mixture alternating with the milk. Add vanilla, mixing batter well. Pour into the prepared tube pan. Bake approximately 90 mins. or until done.

If want to frost this, you can make a simple one using 1 box of confectioner's sugar, 1 stick of butter and some strawberries all blended together. Be sure to only add enough strawberries so that the frosting is thick enough to spread.