Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Company in the Kitchen

Right now we're baking a batch of our new fall favorite - pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. My family can't seem to get enough of these autumn treats. I suspect this recipe will outlast the season stretching into winter and likely spring.

Often I like to be alone while cooking. It's just easier that way. No step stools. No prying hands. Less mess. But tonight I was feeling accommodating. My youngest daughter joined me for a little kitchen adventure. First she helped unload the dishwasher (and did a great job I might add. I could get used to that kind of help).

Then we baked. In the process we learned the difference between 1 cup and 1/2 cup. We did a little math (if you have one 1 cup container and one 1/2 cup container how do we get 2 1/2 cups flour?).

We also tackled spelling and committed the word C-U-P to memory.

Thanks to my daughter's astute observation I learned that nutmeg looks like a miniature coconut. We both agreed it smelled delectable when grated into the batter.

I taught her the proper function of a Silpat mat and that a small ice cream scoop was perfect for ladling out dough.

She taught me to count to twelve. And now we have 12+12+12 cookies all ready to eat.

All-in-all we had a lovely time. I do believe I ought to have company in the kitchen more often.

Tell me ... do you cook alone or does your family join you? I'd love to know!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Like a good cheese ...

A couple years ago I knit a pair of leg warmers for my girls to wear to dance. And no - I wasn't stuck in the 80's. These little hand knits had become popular again; especially in little girl dancing circles.

They were gifted at Christmas and then promptly set aside. What? Mom spent hours making these for me? Great! *Leg warmers tossed over shoulder like a fist full of salt*

Over the year these knits have periodically shown up around the house; dragged out of the shoe basket by the cat, tossed aside while searching for a baseball cap and strewn over a chair by our household ghost. But nobody ever wore them.

Ah well, I lamented and consoled myself with the idea of knitting for knitting's sake.

Then yesterday arrived. On Wednesdays Little has dance. Guess what she decided to wear? The leg warmers! As she put them on she asked, "Mom? Did you knit these?"

"Yes" I replied.

"Wow!" she exclaimed, "You are like the BEST KNITTER EVER!"

The moral of this story? Give anything hand knit at least two years for appropriate recognition. Like a good cheese these leg warmers were merely aging to perfection.

Little's dancing friend down the street also adored her fashion prowess. I've since been commissioned to knit another pair for Christmas (shhhh - don't tell). Hopefully those warmers won't require a two-year fermentation.


Happy Knitting and Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Join the Mat Revolution

Picture this. You've had a loooong day. You spent hours, literally hours, cleaning your children's rooms. You put your time in as a cabbie (to school, from school, to school, from school to swimming and piano and finally home). The evening is winding down and you find yourself with a free moment. Yet it's time to get dinner started. What do you do? Why sew a bathmat of course!

You see all the cool kids are doing it. The pattern came from A Handmade Home and the project was simple enough that I literally sewed and made dinner at the same time. (Keep in mind last night was taco night so the kitchen didn't require much concentration.) The top fabric is a thrifted sheet and the bottom fabric an old towel.

I was hoping to photograph this guy in his native environment. But as it turns out the light in my bathroom is quite poor. Additionally we lack dazzling photographic features such as a claw foot tub (poor poor me!). Anyway the yellow matched the yellow of our aspen trees. And yes my neighbors think I'm kookie with my cereal box, camera and bathmat. It's a small price to pay.

The stitching is perfectly imperfect which makes this mat well-suited to hold wet feet and muddy paws. I definitely see more in our future!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Frugal Friday - Applique and Giveaway Results!

During a thrifting expedition last spring I found the perfect fall/winter coat. You see my previous jacket had seen better days. That garment had been purchased on sale for thirty dollars and lasted about six years. So five dollars a year to stay warm -- not a bad deal. Yet I was still hoping to pay less for my next purchase.

Then I found it. The clouds parted overhead, a chorus of cherubs sang aaaaaAAAAA and a single beam of light shone down upon it; a brand new LL Bean coat in the perfect shade of green. Brand new! Lime green! My size! And a mere twelve dollars to boot. Life was splendid. Feeling chosen and loved by the universe I brought the coat home and modeled it for my family. I was thrifty! I was fashionable (I know - a stretch but go with me here)! Life was good!

The next day middle daughter borrowed the jacket without asking. What happened after that will remain a family mystery but between my daughter and my son they managed to mangle the coat with a scooter. The fabric was torn and appeared beyond repair. I was no longer chosen. I became the child who lost her balloon at the fair. It was floating floating floating away and completely out of reach. My coat! You see this jacket was more valuable because it was thrifted. I couldn't simply go out and replace it. And now it had been maimed.

I did try to repair it. My sewing merely caused a hideous pucker in the back. I wiped a single tear from my cheek and pulled myself up by the bootstraps. After all it was just a jacket. Just a material possession. No love lost. Not really. I hung it in the back of the closet and got on with my life.

Then this fall I discovered applique. Where have I been?!! While making a designs for t-shirts I came up with an idea. A wonderful awful idea. I could applique the back of the jacket. That is just what I did. And you know what? It worked.

Now I have a perfect coat like no other and my children get to live another day.


The applique fabric has had quite a life. It used to be a thrifted curtain. That curtain lives on as a book bag, an i spy bag, a t-shirt design and now as a jacket.

My frugal tips for the day? Use what you have and learn to applique!


And now to the giveaway! The winner, by random number generator, is Erin!

Erin - send your shipping info to Shalet@mac.com and I'll get your book and apron in the mail asap.


Happy Frugal Friday all!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bow Chicka Wow Wow!

This morning my kindergartener and I were working on the alphabet. Then I remembered this post by Angry Chicken. We decided to make a handwriting worksheet.

"What," I asked my daughter, "do you want to learn to write?"

Here is the result:

Whatever works, right?


Here's a link to make your own worksheet. Have fun!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Recipe for a rainy afternoon

1) Make a cup of tea

2) Pull a loaf of Farmhouse White from the fridge

3) Cut a couple of slices of rugged white cheddar cheese (conveniently found at CostCo)

4) Slice a homegrown tomato

5) Layer the cheese and tomatoes on the bread

6) Sprinkle tomatoes with a dab of kosher salt

7) Microwave for 40 seconds to get the cheese melting

8) Grill on cast iron skillet with a touch of olive oil or butter until the bread is toasty brown.

9) Enjoy!

10) Be prepared to repeat as seconds and thirds will be requested.


Happy Wednesday!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Frugal Friday - It's baack! (And a giveaway)

Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis know I'm not prone to do reviews.  But, though Frugal Friday has fallen a bit by the wayside, I am frugal.  Because of my frugal blogging I was invited review the book "Once a Month Cooking; Family Favorites."  Of course I said yes!  
You see, I love to cook (not so much to clean the subsequent mess, hmmm - I wonder where my daughter gets it?!!).  Ah, but I'm already off track.  Yes I love to cook.  And when I'm home we typically eat well.  But the problem lies with my career.  Several nights a month I'm required to be at work during dinnertime (and beyond).  

Now my husband can cook but is not so inclined.  As a result if there isn't food readily available he'll go out which is a definite budget buster.  So I try to crock pot or have leftovers for nights that I am working.  But, truth be told, I'm bored with our repertoire and we need to mix it up a bit.  This is where the "Once a Month Cooking" comes in.  

The book is organized into several different monthly cycles.  It provides a shopping list and prep list for each month (the idea being that one day is set aside for most of the prep work and the ingredients are frozen until use).  Now I don't see myself making an entire month's worth of meals ... I like to cook too much for that.  But I do see myself making select meals to freeze for a later date.  It sure beats frozen pizza or TV dinners (do they make TV dinners anymore?).  

The first recipe I tried was Ham and Winter Vegetable Pot Pie from the gourmet cycle.  I've never made pot pie before though I can now say I will definitely make it again.  The day after I made the pie my husband called me at work to rave about how good it was.  I mean seriously rave - about leftovers.  Now I made this pie fresh and didn't freeze it though I suspect it will be just as good after being frozen. The only thing I'd do differently would be to make individual pies instead of a casserole.  

The second recipe was crock-pot country style ribs.  I would have liked this recipe to have a bit more flavor but must admit I improvised (weak chicken stock instead of beef stock and apples instead of green peppers).  Thus the diminishment in flavor is likely my own fault.  Don't get me wrong - it was still good, just not as good as I'd like.  Next time, perhaps, I'll stick to the recipe. 

As winter approaches I am looking forward to trying more meals from this book.  I really like the idea of having fresh home-prepared food in the freezer for those nights when cooking is just too much.  

And now to the giveaway!  For one lucky reader I'm giving away a copy of this book. But, in the spirit of the kitchen, I'm throwing in a handmade apron to boot!   

To win leave a comment by Thursday October 15th at 8:00 pm.  I'll announce the winner next Friday. 

Happy cooking and happy Frugal Friday!
PS - here is a link to get a free week cooking cycle!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Love Thursday Yet Again.

Well here is Thursday yet again. Time to list all the things I love. Yet I'm not feeling it. I just don't feel all mushy and gooshy and warm and happy. In fact I'm rather blah. It's nothing major - just the ups and downs of life and the ups and downs of parenthood.

But, mood notwithstanding, I am here. Why? Because this exercise is about appreciation. It's about finding beauty despite circumstance. And really my circumstances are quite good.

So, without further adieu, here are the things I'm loving today:

  1. The description of the Simpson's on our cable box: "Matt Groening's subversive animated satire." Dude! Who wouldn't want to be that guy?!!
  2. Breakfast for dinner (Huevos Rancheros made with farm backyard fresh eggs).
  3. Homemade dog biscuits made by middle daughter (minus the mess in the kitchen).
  4. Another apron sewn for the holiday gift exchange (only six left to go).
  5. One more night of real sleep before work.
  6. The gigantic mess ball of paper mache drying in my living room (hopefully a future Halloween costume).
  7. Convincing my son to serve dinner (including teaching him how to cut into an avocado).

And I have a question for you ... what are you loving today?


Happy Love Thursday!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Winter Already?!!

This weekend autumn zipped right on past and winter barged in. We had our first heavy snow. The trees hadn't even turned or lost their leaves. As a result branches were down everywhere and our power was out for several hours -- before we had our coffee! Our stove is gas and we have a french press but, dagnamit, the grinder required electricity. Poor us - we had to go to out for beverages (yes - Starbucks still had power). Lucky me I had a gift card so I didn't feel too guilty.

Our town was beautiful covered in snow but c'mon - I need autumn first! I haven't even put out my fall decor. Note to self: put out fall decor.

Around here life has been full. We've been mired in school, our first colds of the season, the duties of daily life and fun projects to boot.

Today middle daughter is once again home from school (viruses be gone with you!). Since I've got her captive we're going to start working on her Halloween costume. She wants to be a ball of yarn. Little intends to be a kitty chasing the yarn. Yes - I may be crazy.

I'm also busy knitting for babies already born and working away on aprons for another fun activity (three down, seven to go). And I haven't even begun to think about Christmas. Eeek!

Well I'd best get to work. Stay tuned! Later in the week I'll be back with a giveaway. Hint: It's got something to do with the kitchen ...


Saturday, October 3, 2009

This weekend is my 20-year high school reunion. It wasn't practical for me to attend but I am there in spirit. Do you notice the class ring in the upper left hand corner? That poor piece of jewelry hasn't seen the light of day for two decades. But today it found a new niche as a lovely stitch marker. Now if I could just find a use for my letterman jacket ...


Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's been a week full of projects. One birthday present. One special request. One bootie down, three to go. A hat in progress. One to go. Two and a half of ten aprons. Three loaves of bread. Thirty-six cookies. One pot pie. Ribs in the slow cooker. Fall is most definitely in full swing.


Today my girls stayed home from school. According to them they had sore throats and upset tummies. Me? I'm not convinced they're really sick. But I let them stay home anyway. We did, however, keep middle daughter's dentist appointment.

On the way to the dentist Little discovered that, being sick, she couldn't play with friends when we got home. This sent her into a sobbing frenzy. I gripped the steering wheel and said something to the effect of "there are consequences for your actions." The five-year-old did not care for my wisdom and bawled all the louder. Finally I screamed "YOU BE QUIET NOW!!" This outburst shocked the hullabaloo into a quiet whimper.

Then we got to the dentist office. Inside was one autistic boy, one child who was not quite right and a little girl recovering from cancer. I looked at my girls with their unbrushed hair, mis-matched clothes and tear stained faces and was instantly grateful for all that they are and all that they're not.

Indeed we are quite lucky.