Monday Project Report -Moving Along

Today’s report is more for me than anyone else since it is how I am holding myself accountable for getting work done on projects I have committed to completing..  You all are just helping me keep to task (Hah!).

So completion project number 1 is Christopher’s sweater.  I knit another pattern repeat this week so I have three of them completed for the front. I would love to show it to you but currently WordPress does not seem to be able to load photos from my computers anymore.  I am telling you this because the blog may go on hiatus until I figure out this problem.  Sigh.

My goal for this sweater for the next week is to again knit another pattern repeat.  I am thinking that this should bring me to the beginning of shaping the armhole – or at least I am hoping it will.  I would like to start seeing the length of each row start decreasing.

Completion project number 2 are my Bella Mittens and my goal was to knit the cuff up to the wrist – and I was able to get it done – though not until last night.  I was able to load this picture before the entire uploading system shut down on me.

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Yeah – that is snow on the counter below the mitten.  We finally got a real cover of snow overnight and some blew up onto the porch where I take my pictures.

My goal for next week on these is to knit the gusset for the thumb.  Should be doable.

So what next.  Well completion project 3 is not really an old project but a new one.  It is Bun Buns – Markus’s oldest and most beloved stuffed animal – who was viciously attacked by a monster (or so Markus told me).  Of course, that monster was our smallest and most voracious beagle Mattie.  Again, I don’t have pictures to show you because they did not make it into the media library before everything shut down so I will have to show you after things are fixed.

Technology.  Why I still keep a desk full of pads and pens.

Onward and Upward. . . . .

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Food on Friday – Granola!!

As part of our health year and my desire to reduce the amount of refined sugar that goes into my family’s diet, I decided we needed to do better with breakfast.  The boys’ school day starts early and mornings are hectic so they had just been grabbing a bowl of cereal (if they ate at home at all) and running out the door.  Chip and I were not eating either – instead relying on the hunger suppressant qualities of our coffee to hold off eating until the afternoon.

Not good.

So we started the new year with a new morning routine that included a real breakfast every morning.  I wanted to have 5 basic breakfasts that the boys would like so we all talked about it and came up with 1) Yogurt, fruit and granola parfaits, 2) scrambled eggs with bacon or sausage and an english muffin, 3) egg/cheese/ham sandwiches on an english muffin, 4) egg pancakes (thick crepes) with fruit and sausages and/or maple syrup, and 5) scrambled eggs with veggies.  I could always change this up, but we at least had the base menu planned.  I also started making muffins and coffee cakes on the weekend that they could grab for afterschool or to take on the bus if they were still hungry.

We usually make our own granola for the yogurt parfaits because it is easy and we can switch it up however we want.  The recipe is a Moosewood Classic recipe, which I will basically show you here.

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Great book – you should get it if it is not already in your collection.  My basic feeling is that if it is a Moosewood cookbook, you won’t be disappointed.

The granola recipe is a very forgiving recipe and allows you to take it in any direction you want.  My boys (including Chip) will grab a bowl afterschool or at night sometimes too.  About the only required ingredient is rolled oats and maybe the oil/sweet combination.  So lets get started.

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For a cookie sheet worth of granola, you start off with four and a half cups of rolled oats in a big mixing bowl.

Then comes the little things as I call them.  The recipe calls for 1/4 cup oat bran, 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds and 1/4 cup of hulled sesame seeds.  I used those in the recipe I am showing you today but I will often substitute different things – using wheat germ or bran for the oat bran, pepitas instead of sunflower seeds, coconut instead of sesame seeds, etc.  You just basically want to end up with a cup of smaller stuff that gives your granola a nutritional boost.

Then comes the flavors.  The recipe calls for an assortment of nuts – blanched sliced almonds, whole roasted cashews and coarsely chopped Brazil nuts and walnuts – in a total quantity of one and a quarter cups of nuts.  I just buy a container of mixed nuts, measure out one and a quarter cups, chop them all and throw it into the granola.  Here again is where you can improvise as long as you keep within the amounts.  You might want to make it all pecans – or add chocolate or dried fruit to your granola.  Go crazy.  Just make sure that you end up with around one and a quarter cups of good stuff in your granola.  (Note that if you are adding dried fruit or chocolate, add them after the granola comes out of the oven so you get the flavors without any burning).  Finally, throw in two teaspoons of cinnamon and your dry ingredients are done.

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Well – almost done – make sure to mix it up really well before you add the liquid.

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Then grab a smaller bowl and put together your wet ingredients.  This is always some combination of oil (to toast it without burning it) and sweet (for flavor).  The recipe calls for 1/3 cup of vegetable oil (I use canola), 1/2 cup of maple syrup and 2 tablespoons of barley malt.  I tend to use a bit more when I am making this recipe – probably because I am usually a little heavy handed with adding the goodies to the recipe – and I use about 2/3 cup of maple syrup, 1/2 cup of oil and around a 1/4 cup of honey.  Maybe it is just me, but barley malt just is more refined a product than I want to use so I switch to clover honey.

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When you stir it all together it will get a little thick (probably from the honey).

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Then pour it into your dry ingredients while stirring so it mixes in a bit easier

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Okay – I wasn’t stirring it in this picture but you can see why you want to be stirring when you put it in, so you have an even distribution of the wet with the dry.  If you pour it all in at once and then stir it will take more time until you get an even distribution in the bowl.   If your granola still looks too dry, add a little more wet.  I add a little more maple syrup – because I like the maple taste.

Then you oil your cookie sheet (lightly) and spread your granola out on it – this pic has gaps to show the oil on the pan.

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Place it in a 350 degree oven.  Set your timer for 5 minutes and then pull the tray out and stir the granola so that it toasts evenly.  Then put it back in, set your timer for another 5 minutes and stir it again.  Keep taking your granola out every five minutes and stirring it until it is done – usually about 20 minutes total.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to use a timer because it can overcook/burn sooooo easily if you just leave it in without stirring or just for too long.  In the end it should be golden.

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(The flash made it look a bit lighter than it is but you can see that it is toasted around the edges).  Then put your pan on a rack, add your dried fruit and/or chocolate, if any, and keep stirring it every five to ten minutes as it cools.  When it is completely cool, just put it in a storage container.  It should last the week – by which time it is usually all gone – at least in my house (Hah!)  It may last longer, I just can’t tell you for sure.  Making granola is a regular weekend project in our house.  I like it for lunch too over plain yogurt with bananas.

I hope you try it and you like it.  It is so easy to make, you should never need to buy packaged granola again.

Today’s bonus picture is of Markus at his last band concert.  What makes this picture great is that this year he attained the status of “first chair” for trumpet in the jr. high school band.  He also plays in the jr. high school school jazz band where he is also first chair.

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This is a big deal in my family because my Dad was a horn player who taught jr. high drum and bugle marching bands when I was little.  We had a basement full of horns hanging from the rafters when I was growing up.  Dad also played drums and would try to teach us to play drums and horn when we were little, though none of us ever picked up on it.  My Dad and I did play guitar together – but no horn players came out of my generation – or the next – until Markus.  Unfortunately my Dad died before he ever got a chance to know that Markus  was to become a horn player, but we like to think that he is somewhere able to watch him during his concerts and that he is proud.  I know I am.

Onward and Upward. . . . .

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Hawk Studio – December 2015

Hawk Studio was very busy in December and produced some really nice pieces.  I just wanted to post some of them because I am very proud of the work Chip does.

Briefcases take alot of time and thought as each one is custom made to meet the vision of the eventual owner, with a little guidance from Chip.  Often times folks will look at  a briefcase he had made for someone else and then customize that design to match their  needs.

In December Chip finished and shipped three briefcases and a pocketbook.  The first one was based off of my briefcase and then alot of additional outer pockets were added.

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It has a full back pocket with a magnetic closure on the flap

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and these awesome trigger clip side pockets

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The second briefcase is similar but with a cross-stitch feature in the front.

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This one had the open full size back pocket with an additional closed pouch pocket.

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The third briefcase is of another rough edge briefcase with the double buckle closures.   This was the only picture I had of this brief.  When I asked Chip where the other pictures were of this brief case he told me they were on the Hawk Studio Facebook page so if you would like to see more of this one, check out the Hawk Studio page on Facebook.  That is where alot of Chip’s work is first posted with “in process” photos also.  If you like his work, please “Like” his page.  It always helps if he gets more people to “Like” his work. :)

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The pocketbook actually came with us to Faire this year while it was in process.  A customer saw it there and talked to Chip about how she would like it finished and here is her final bag.  I really liked the size on this one – it was smaller than a field bag but still a large and roomy bag to carry all your things in.  Glad it too has found its home.

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I really liked the side loops on this one.

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Chip did alot of knife cases in December too – which I presume must have made their way onto the Facebook page since they were not in the camera when I was downloading pictures.

I really hope you like seeing his work.  I am so proud of the work he puts into each piece and I love showing it off – which is a good thing since I am the one who does most of the selling in the booth.  He is working on a messenger bag now that will go out this month.  Things got a little delayed with the holidays and then getting everything ready to put the refrigerator in, but I think he is getting back on track.  I will try to get some of the in process shots on that one too.

So today’s bonus pic is of my other Irish twin.  After Jesse turned 13 the boys had about two weeks of being the same age before Markus regained the lead and turned 14.

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He’s almost four inches taller than me already.  I’m so not ready for this.

Onward and Upward. . . . .

 

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We’re ready!!

I was hoping to be able to post about our new refrigerator today but the delivery date was changed from yesterday to tomorrow so it is not here yet.  But the good news is that we are ready.

Besides installing the big new door, we had to also cut down the cabinet which ran alongside the refrigerator – which was the reason we had to go with a 33 inch wide model originally.  We needed about four more inches than we had so Chip set to cutting down the cabinet by about, oh, four inches. :)

Here is what we started with.

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And then he started cutting.

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and ripping

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and rebuilding

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and re-insulating the newly exposed gaps in the wall (sigh)

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and now we have a slimmer but still usable cupboard with a little extra trim, but you won’t see that behind the refrigerator.

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Good job honey!!  I thought we would have to take out the entire cupboard but Chip saved the day – and the cupboard. :)

Today’s bonus pic is a picture of a double rainbow above Chip’s shop in the backyard.  Chip took the picture after a January thunderstorm we had here over the weekend.  Kinda awesome.

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Just in case we didn’t know our family holds the pot of gold – at least in terms of my golden boys.  (grin)

So now we are all ready – we just need for the refrigerator to arrive.  Chip managed to get all of the prep work done well in advance of the arrival – which is a really really good thing.  Now lets hope we got it right and it all goes smoothly when it arrives.  Fingers crossed.

Onward and Upward.

 

 

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Planning Minurism – The Garden

For some people, January is about “white sales” and buying things for the home.  For me, January was always about garden planning and seed catalogs.  Looking for vegetables and flowers that started with the letter which would guide that year’s plantings (we started a new letter each year – I called it my alphabet garden).

Last year I gave up – I never seemed to have time for the gardens the last couple of years and they had become overgrown.  Rather than being my happy place, they now just made me sad.  So last year we did not grow any of our own food and instead paid for a share at our local CSA.  The food was great and it was fun to “shop” every week from their weekly harvest – but it wasn’t the same.  I missed being able to just walk into the yard and pick our dinner.  I missed watching the movement of the year through the changing blooms of the perennials in the yard.  I just missed my garden.

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So I decided that I was going to use minurism to give me the impetus to take back my garden.  I want to think about seeds and plants and watch my yard turn back into the flower and vegetable garden that I was turning it into.  I want to pull out my garden gloves and dig in the dirt (and let the boys deal with the worms – yuck) and watch the yearly parade of colors restored in my patch of the world.  It becomes minurism when I compare the cost of seeds to the cost of the vegetables if we were to buy them in the store.

And all I have to do is say that I want to do it and my beloved husband grabs the boys and goes outside and starts to make it happen for me.

They started to clear out the strawberry patches which had just fallen apart over time with the help of our local deer who really enjoyed them (sigh).

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Then armed with his trusty lawnmower, Chip just started to clear all of the garden beds.

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Mattie stayed out there with him while Jesse took pictures to memorialize Dad’s hard work. :)

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I walked out to a cleared lawn and garden area – all just waiting for a run with the rototiller as soon as the weather goes back to spring.

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Its not alot, but it is Chip’s way of giving me a clean slate to begin dreaming about and planning the new gardens.  Being able to grow alot of our food again means alot to me.  And to bring the color to our main street from our flowers matters too.

Now to start writing the  seed lists.  I think I am going back to the “A” year.  My garden needs a new start and where better to start than at the beginning.

The bonus pic for today is Jesse on his 13th birthday.  He is, of course, wearing the ceremonial birthday hat for the day.  They are growing so quickly.  He stood nose to nose with me yesterday.  Soon he will be taller than me too.  My boys are all growing up.

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I hope you all are getting time to start planning those things that bring you happiness too.

Onward and Upward. . . . .

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Monday Project Report – Let’s Add Mittens

One of the things that I truly like about blogging is that I start holding myself accountable for the projects I commit to – and I focus on completion.

So last week I told you about Christopher’s sweater and how that was going to be the first project on my completion list.  I set a goal to complete one 24 row pattern repeat each week to keep that project moving.  I was able to get that much completed in a week so I am going to continue that goal for next week.

Here is what the front of the sweater looks like now – with two pattern repeats completed.

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So I thought I would move onto completion project number 2 – which is a pair of mittens for me.  I have made mittens using the Bella Pattern for my sister-in-law and for all three of my boys and everyone has loved them.  I have had the yarn for my pair for years and last year finally started making my mittens – and then stalled.

I completed the main part of the first mitten – it just needs a thumb and the final weaving in of ends.

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I even started the second mitten.

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And then I stalled.

So the goal for this coming week is to do another 24 row pattern repeat in Christopher’s sweater AND complete the cuff on the second mitten up to the wrist.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. . . . .

Today’s bonus picture is of our Winter’s Mist – otherwise known as Misty.  She turns 13 this month.  Her copper is now white and she moves a little slower.  We think she would like to go into retirement but Chip just isn’t slowing down and he is her job so. . . . .  The boys and Chip got this picture of her as she was laying in the front yard watching him mow the lawn. She is always standing guard – he is her world and she will do whatever she has to to take care of him.  He is one lucky Dad.

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She is my baby girl.

Onward and Upward. . . . .

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Food on Friday – Kielbasa Kale Tortellini Soup

The other night we were running late and the meal I was planning was derailed after I realized that Chip had used the potatoes I needed in the potato leek soup he made the night before.  (Can I just say that having a husband who can cook is a little bit of heaven?)  So we looked at what we had around the house to make quickly and Chip suggested this soup – which is one of our stand-by favorite quick dinners.  We try to keep the ingredients on-hand because it is a good fallback meal.  The recipe came from Bon Appetit Magazine – which we know is my favorite recipe magazine – and you can always get it by doing a search on their website.  But if you want to see what we do, just keep reading. :)

The first step – as in most of my soups – is to chop the onion.  We make a big pot of soup so we chop two onions and start them sauteing in our soup pot in some olive oil.  I use around a quarter cup of oil, but I admit, I don’t really measure – I just pour it in and see if it looks like enough.

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Use two medium to large onions

Okay, I am stopping the recipe to talk about how to slice an onion, because Chip and I argue about the proper way to cut an onion.  The way I do it is to cut the onion in half from top to bottom, place the cut side down on the cutting mat and then cut long slices along the vertical lines running through the onion (or close to them) starting at one end of the onion and following around the circle.

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Cut your onions lengthwise along the lines

Yes, I am wearing a Star Wars light saber bandage on my finger I had cut earlier in the week.  I live with a bunch of boys, what can I say.  . .   Back to the onion.

Then I turn the onion and cut across the sections horizontally to chop them.

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Then cut across your slices

Seems obvious to me – but my beloved husband cuts the onion in half horizontally and then cuts across the onion to form rings.  Not sure which one of us is right on this one, but I strongly suspect it is me.  (Hah!)

Okay, back to the recipe.  Next you take a bunch of cloves of garlic – I use about 8 – and mince them also.  If you want to shortcut this, you can use the jarred garlic – this is supposed to be a quick meal after all.

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Onions and garlic

While that is sauteing, you slice your kielbasa.  Because we make a double batch of soup we use two 12 ounce rings of store bought kielbasa, though if we have time to get to the meat market, we will get a big ring of good kielbasa from there.  I have to give a shout out to The Smokehouse of the Catskills where we go for our polska kielbasa.  Happiness.

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Throw in the kielbasa with some thyme and a splash of crushed red pepper flakes into the soup pot.  The recipe calls for fresh thyme but to pull apart enough thyme to make a tablespoon plus of leaves takes too long – and again, this is supposed to be quick – so I just use a teaspoon and a half or so of dried thyme.

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Cook the onion, garlic, kielbasa and spices in the olive oil until the onions are soft and your kielbasa is warmed through – 10-12 minutes.

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While that is sauteing, we wash and rip the leaves off of one bunch of kale.  I don’t chop the kale, we just pull it off the stems in small sections.  I also rinse and drain two 15 ounce size cans of cannellini beans.

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When the onion/kielbasa mix is ready, I pour in three 32 ounce size boxes of a good health food brand of chicken broth.  After you bring the broth to a boil, stir in the kale and the cannellini beans and simmer until the kale is wilted – anywhere from 4 to 8 minutes – depending on how curly your kale is.

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Then we throw in some frozen tortellini.  The boys are partial to the tri-color pastas.  You cook the tortellini right in the broth.  We probably use about two pounds.  The recipe calls for one 9 ounce package per recipe (remember we are doubling our batch) but in my house, with my boys, we add more.

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This is looking good, isn’t it?  We like to pair this soup with a nice loaf of sourdough bread.

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Cook the soup until the tortellini is cooked.  We let it cool down in the pot before serving it because everyone wants to just start eating it and nobody wants a burned tongue.  We wait about 15 minutes, after which everyone is saying they will be careful and blow on the spoon just so they can sit down and start eating.  We pass around a bowl of asiago or parmesan cheese to sprinkle on the top and it is ready to eat.

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I have no idea if it is a healthy meal or not but it’s quick, its filling and it tastes great.  We love it and I hope you will too.

I will end with another picture of my Vash reading at home.  I seem to get a big kick out of this because I take these pictures almost every day.  I just love that Vash is so very beloved by the Beagles because he so loves them.  My life.

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Onward and upward. . . . .

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