Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Freaked Out

So, I got back from St. Louis yesterday morning. We saw some okay houses. It's more difficult than I thought to find a house with an acre or two that's cleared and not just woods and bluffs and sink holes. The one we liked the best was built in 99 and has an acre. It's pretty flat and open, nicely landscaped by the house, too. I think it'll work really well for us, but it is on the expensive side. Ben's going to be talking to lenders today and we're going to work out what sort of an offer we can put in on it. I'm actually feeling slightly overwhelmed with buying a house and doing these responsible grown up things. I'm sure I'll get used to it after it's done. Plus it's got lots of room for visitors, so you can all come and stay!

Below is the first post in my new series, Recipe Tuesday. :D Yeah, it's just a whim I had. Lots of the blogs I read do Works for Me Wednesday and Show and Tell Friday. Just thought I'd try a theme day.

Last night Emily took me out to Pita Jungle, and I had the hommus with chopped grilled chicken on top. So yummy. And it was really nice to get out, as I'd pretty much sat on the couch all day like a zombie because of my two in the morning flight home.

I didn't do much knitting on the trip. We were in the car a lot, and the realtor's driving made me feel pretty sick, so I couldn't knit then. What I did knit, I ripped out when I got home yesterday. I was using KnitPicks Elegance for a scarf, but I used moss stitch, and it just ended up being too textured and you couldn't feel how nice the yarn is. So I ripped it back and started over just using a 1x1 rib, and it's really showing off the yarn much better.

My Jordana Paige knitter's satchel is starting to fall apart. I'm pretty upset about it, especially considering how much they cost. But I emailed customer service and am waiting to see what they say about replacing it.

Ben's coming home this morning so I'm going to get to work getting the house in order and everything nice. He hasn't been here since the weekend before last, so I'm sure it'll make getting to come home that much better if things are nice and clean. I've even been thinking about making some bread. We'll see if I get that ambitious, since I'd have to do it from scratch and by hand, and I don't have my bread pans, so I'd have to do french loaves. But you never know, I might just do it. I do have bread flour to use up.

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I'm instating Recipe Tuesday

Here's the first of the Tuesday Recipes:

Tater Tot Casserole
Amounts in this recipe can vary depending on how many people you're feeding/how big a slow cooker you have. I use these amounts with a medium sized one, and I'd guess it makes about six to eight servings.

Line your crock pot with frozen tater tots. I usually just put in as many will fit, maybe half the bag or so.

Brown a pound of ground meat. You can use beef or turkey. I'm sure even chicken will work in this one. You can put chopped onion and garlic with the meat while it's cooking if you want.

Mix the browned meat with a can of cream of mushroom soup. I get the low salt kind at least and the low fat kind if I can find it. Also mix in a can of corn that's been drained.

At this point you can add other things too if you like, such as a can of green beans that's been drained or peas and carrots. I've used frozen veggies too, no problem. I've also been thinking that you could add drained canned kidney beans or great northern beans and really up the fiber in this meal. You could use less meat that way too, but I haven't tried it yet.

Put the filling mixture into the tater tot lined crock pot. It cooks on low for about six hours, give or take. Since it's all pre-cooked, you just want to be sure that the tater tots get warm and the flavors are all combined. Serve topped with cheese if you want. A salad on the side is good too.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

On the Road Again

I'm getting ready to go to St. Louis this morning. Ben and I are meeting there at the airport. He's been in Nashville and then in Dallas all this week. We're going to be in St. Louis till Monday morning to look for a new house. The listings look good, so now we'll get to see which houses look as good in person as they do on paper.

I went out with Emily last night, it was a lot of fun. We went to dinner and then we went to the yarn store in Tempe. She started her first project, a hat, when we came back here to the house. She picked out this really pretty bulky wooly looking yarn. It's really soft. I think it looks like a lamb's butt when it's knitted up. In a good way.

I've stalled on the gifts I've been working on for my friends. I used up most of my extra yarn, and I'm sort of out of inspiration for what yarns I should use and what patterns I want to use. I'm going to take the yarn I do have that's extra, and play around on the plane to see if I can come up with a good match for Emily and my friend Ruth Ann. Those are the two I have left to make.

I'm taking the computer with me to St. Louis, and the camera too, so there will probably be more posts in the next couple of days. I'm trying to pack everything, including the computer, into my small suitcase and my purse, so I don't have to check my bag. It's more of a challenge than I expected. I used to be way better at packing light. I still am if you'd compare me to my mom and sister.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesdays with Beppy

So, the pumpkin pie with real pumpkin experiment did not turn out quite awesome. Not that that's the pumpkin's fault. It mostly wasn't awesome because it didn't ever happen because when I was going to make the pie I realized we don't have a pastry cutter, a rolling pin, or a pie plate right now. Those are all things that are packed up into boxes and sitting in the garage. So I just mixed the pumpkin up with Ben's squash and he ate it like that with cinnamon and maple syrup.

I'm supposed to be deciding this week what things we will be packing into the car and have with us on our trip and living in the hotel until the new house closes. The rest of whatever that isn't packed in the car is going on the moving truck and we won't see it again till it's unpacking time. It's a little difficult to decide what we'll need to have with us.
Some is easy, we'll need a week or two of clothes and our toiletries, obviously.
The cats, of course, are coming in the car with us. So we'll need them and their boxes, but we'll also need their food dishes, a litter box, their harnesses and leashes, and extra food and litter, and their sedatives for the trip.
We might also want to bring some of the food that we have't eaten by then, though we're trying to eat things mainly from the freezer and the shelves to thin that out. But there is some rice, and peanut butter, and things like that that seem worth keeping. Any food that we don't bring with us will have to be thrown away, because the movers won't take food for us.
Beyond these things, there's some boxes of paperwork and stuff that we should keep right with us, our backup discs and birth certificates in the fire proof safe, our computers, whatever projects I might want to have with me for however long we'll be in the hotel.
I'm hoping we can have a closing date of the 17th, so we won't have to live in a hotel for too long before we can move into the new house.

We're going to look at houses this weekend, and I'm very excited to pick out my new place. We'll probably stay in it for a long while so I want to make sure it's a good house and land for us. There's lots of choices that we'll be seeing on Friday and Saturday. Some have very large houses, but only an acre of land, some are older houses, but with as much as five acres. I'm having a hard time putting my priorities for a house in order. I know what features I want, but I don't know which are the most important to me. I'm really hoping that once we see the right one, we'll just know that it's a good one for us.

I've been knitting on the goodbye presents for my friends. I have three done, and so only have a couple more to go. I don't have to go to work today, so I think I might just hang out here and knit and knit and knit. I'm actually really itching to embroider something, but all that stuff is packed up. I was trying to simplify things and only kept out some yarn and my knitting needles and crochet hooks. I miss sewing and embroidering though. I'm almost tempted to pick up a hoop and some embroidery thread, since they're so inexpensive, it's not like it would be foolish to have duplicates. I wouldn't even have to get pillowcases or whatever, I could just embroider on the kitchen towels. Wow, I sound like a desperate craft addict. Anyway, I won't be starting any different projects until the presents for my friends here are finished.

I found a neat site that I've been reading all about chickens and she's got really good recipes. Reading this lady's site has inspired me to try out making some whole grain bread or bagels. I'd really love to try making the bagels. And I found the info on grind your own grain to be very interesting. I've been hearing from a lot of diverse sources lately that freshly ground grain is by far the healthiest, most nutritive way to have bread and baked goods. I'm impressed by her site mainly for the shear amount of information she has just shared. I haven't even read a fraction of what she's got info on. She doesn't have any info on gardening on her site right now, so I'll have look elsewhere for tips on vegetable growing and taking care of fruit trees. I'm tempted to make dad come show me how to build a chicken coop and plant a garden. Though, I'm sure I can figure out most of it on my own, I just want to make sure that I do it right, so I won't be wasting time or money.

Oh, and I'm a bad person because I thought it was kinda funny when Marie Osmond dropped on last night's Dancing with the Stars. (But I'm not completely evil because I didn't think it was funny until after they said she was fine.)

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Broken Window

So, yesterday pretty much sucked. Someone threw a big rock through the passenger side window of the car. We haven't been able to park in the garage because all our stuff is out there, so we've been parking on the street. Anyway, it was probably some kids being idiots. The good thing was that the glass people came and fixed it yesterday. And he cleaned up most of the glass from inside the car. It was everywhere. He took all the trash out of the car too, which I thought was pretty funny. I'm totally keeping the big rock too, it's going in our new yard.

Ma and dad's dog, Daffy, died yesterday too. She got sick and just died pretty fast I guess, poor thing. So that was sad.

But to avoid being very depressing I should also say that today has been a very nice day. Ben and I spent the morning together, which was nice because it seems a little bit like lately we've both been so distracted that even when we are hanging out with each other we're not paying much attention to each other. So it was cool to actually talk and stuff this morning.

Also, there's lot of yummy leftovers in the fridge right now, which, oddly enough, is making me pretty happy.

I've been working on the small goodbye presents for my friends since I finished the pumpkins. And I think I'll get out my mittens again and finish those up. And I want to make a scarflette to match the hat and mittens, so I might work on that. In fact, I'm thinking that I'll spend the rest of today knitting. That sounds very nice.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Pumpkin Patch

So here's what an entire skein of red heart made. Aren't they so cute? I saw some on Craftster and wanted to try one, but after I made one, I saw how much of the orange acrylic was left, and I decided I just had to keep going till the yarn was gone so it wouldn't end up moving with me.

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Like sands through the hourglass...

I trained my replacement at work yesterday. She's enough like me that no one is even going to notice when I'm gone. Seriously, she's smiles and talks a lot, so the transition should pretty much be seamless.

I made a mexican casserole on Tuesday. That night it was kind of bland, but last night when we had leftovers, it was really good. So I suppose I'll have to make it a day ahead all the time so it can sit and get good before we eat it. I pretty much mixed up some leftover pizza sauce, canned corn, canned black beans, chopped up leftover rotisserie chicken, chopped onion, chopped green and red peppers and then put down corn tortillas in a layer, scooped the mixture onto that, a layer of monterey jack cheese, and so on, like a lasagna. It could have used way more onion, I only used a quarter of one or so, and a can of green chilies, also, I forgot to add any cumin or chilli powder, so that may have helped that first day bland thing. We still have one piece left for lunch today, so we'll see how it tastes the third day.

Today, I'm planning to make a pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin. I roasted the pumpkin on Tuesday, so all I've got to do now is make the pie like normal. It actually wasn't much harder. Next year, when I've got my farm, I'll definately grow some pie pumpkins and make the puree and freeze it. I think it would be even better is after it was all roasted and scooped out, if all the spices went in while it got mashed up, and then it was frozen. Then there'd be time for all the flavors to get really really combined. Like how the canned pumpkin pie filling is much yummier in a pie than the regular pureed pumpkin and spices you add yourself.

We made granola this weekend. It turned out really yummy. Mostly because it has flaked coconut in it and I love coconut so much. It's sweetened only with honey, and crazy as it sounds, honey actually makes my mouth and throat feel funny, so I'm not sure if I'll be eating it every day.

I keep thinking that I'd really better learn about keeping chickens somehow soon, because spring isn't really that far away, and I need to be ready for them. I'm not exactly sure how to learn about keeping chickens. I'm not sure if there are many farming books being published. My dad and brother could tell me, but it's hard to talk to either of them on the phone. I could join 4H, but that doesn't seem like a good solution. I'll probably end up searching online and then combining books and bothering dad and Wayne with questions.

I'm actually pretty excited about all the stuff I'll have to learn to have a big garden and raise chickens and take care of apple trees and have berry bushes. I'm pretty sure that everyone thinks I'm crazy for wanting to do all that and raise chickens, and have a clothesline and everything, but I truly think it's going to do wonders for my health and for Ben's too and that it's just what I'm meant to be doing now. I know that farming, even on such a miniscule scale as I want to, is more hard work than I've ever done in my life, but I'm really looking forward to finding out if I can rise to a challenge like that.

I hope we can get moved into our new house soon. I wonder if you can make offers with closing dates only two weeks away. I'd love it if we could spend Thanksgiving at the new house, but even if we aren't moved in then, I really hope we'll be there for Christmas. Really, I just hope that there's a house out there that we'll want to buy. We're pretty much looking for one that we can be in more or less permanently.

I've been working on some mystery projects since the weekend. I had a giant skein of orange red heart super saver to knit my way through. I pretty much wanted it gone so I didn't have to deal with it, so I kept on till it was finished. I used it all up last night, so today I'm going to break out the alpaca/silk yarn from knitpicks for some small gifts for my friends to give to them before I move. It'll be nice for my hands to have a rest from the acrylic. And what in the world was I making with orange acrylic? I'll post some pictures of that later. For now, I'd better go get to work on the laundry and the dishes. It's sad really how I spend so much more time putting off housework than actually doing housework.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Producing, not Consuming

So, I sat down to post, but I got completely distracted by blogger play. It's addictive, check it out.

Anyway, I mentioned a while back that I wanted to address the topic of consumerism and being a producer of things as an alternative.

I do think that consumerism is a problem for our country. It's very difficult to raise children who can interact well with their peers and aren't seen as weirdos unless you allow them to be normal. Here's what I think normal kids are allowed to do, watch all sorts of television and films that are inappropriate for them, wear clothes that are overpriced, wear makeup and dye their hair as young as twelve years old, have cell phones and tons of other very expensive electronics and toys. I know I'm sounding a bit "what's the matter with kids these days" but I'm pretty much judging from my experiences when I was a kid and what I see at the mall, etc. I just think that parents would be very challenged to counteract the all me, all pleasure messages that are being sent to us all every single day. How can we teach generosity, empathy, and caring while at the same time insisting that you have to provide everything your child even shows a passing interest in.

But I don't have children, and though I sympathize with parents who try to teach their children what's really important, I'm more concerned with people of my generation. How can we counteract the urge to spend more and have more? It's very difficult to realize that stuff weighs you down more than it makes you happy. I'm not calling for a monoastic lifestyle, but a simpler one than is being led right now. A little less shopping and fewer things to be responsible for, and a little more time spent actually enjoying the things that I've already got.

It's very difficult for me to realize sometimes that I'm almost as much of a consumer as my peers are. I don't spend much money on clothes or makeup or shoes, but I love to buy yarn and knitting supplies, books and magazines, or go out to eat. But I do feel it's important to start thinking about what food actually is and where it comes from. To start appreciating the relative riches that I have. To really look around at the sheer quantity of stuff I already own before I decide that spending the afternoon shopping is a good idea.

Obviously, I'm a fan of popular culture, and I enjoy tv and magazines and movies, but it's such a balancing act to enjoy those things, but to try to keep my own ideas of the essentials in life, without buying into what is portrayed as essential on screen. I'm not so much concerned with cuture other than that it reflects what individuals are seeking. I'm much more interested in individual personal choice than I am in changing advertising or industry. Really those things are fine, because they wouldn't exist if they didn't work, so if people choose they're own paths as to what they need to live happily, all those companies and advertisers will just follow.

Of course, this topic ties in with so much, like fiscal responsiblity, avoiding credit card debt, retirement planning, frugality and even more so with the way more important topics of healthy spirituality, charity, living is a Christ-like way, having the correct priorities in life and really living in love for your family and friends and fellow men. It's really something that's all tangled up in my mind and always rolling around picking up more idea lint. I'm going to be working to unravel it and knit it up into something useful.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

You have new Picture Mail!

New haircut and sephora makeover. A great day at the mall.

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You have new Picture Mail!

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You have new Picture Mail!

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

And I Don't Look Good in Leggings

Well, I haven't posted for a bit. Let's play catch up.

The house is sold. Of course, it can be unsold at anytime if something goes wrong, but for now, it's sold and we're closing Nov. 10. And now that it's actually happening, I'm a little sad about moving. I think I might be in sad goodbye mode about it till then and then I'll be happy. Or I might get pretty excited when we pick a house in Illinois and I have a specific place to think of as a new home. It's a bittersweet thing I guess, moving. But at least it's not all bitter like it was the last time. And I'm sure the sweet will outweigh the bitter pretty easily once I get the goodbyeing over with.

Ben was in Chicago all last week. I'm so glad he's not gone anywhere this week! I'm way more used to being alone, but I still don't like it much at all.

I'm so thrilled that it's October now! October starts out the best three month of the entire year! This year I'll be celbrating Halloween here in AZ, and Thanksgiving will be in our new home. Well, hopefully we'll be moved into a new house and it won't be in a hotel, but even in a hotel, it will be so nice. Thanksgiving has become very special to me since we've started to celebrate with just the two of us. It's a great four days just for us, and it really helps us to grow together. I don't even go shopping, so as not to let anything interfere with our relaxing time together. We just cook, and maybe work on a project. Two years ago we made the big picture for over the couch, and last year it was Christmas decorating. This year maybe we'll make something nice for our new house.

I'm already celebrating Halloween. I haven't decided yet if I'll do a costume, or what it will be if I do one, but I did get to draw all those fun pictures for the board at work, and I got out the Halloween box and put up a few little decorations here and there. And tomorrow, Emily is going to come over and I'm going to giver her a refresher on knitting (we went out last week, and then came back here and I started her out), and we'll maybe carve pumpkins and dinner will be spooky. I'll take pictures. I built us a pumpkin carving kit. Since all our stuff is packed up, we went out to the dollar store on Saturday to get some stuff for pumpkin carving, and I got a little toolbox there to put it all in. It seems like the ultimate is holiday celebrating to have a designated pumpkin carving tool kit.

I put half fingers on one glove last week, and started the fingers on the other. Then I'll do the mitten tops. I've put that aside for now, because I've been working on Ben's brown sock in KnitPicks Gloss. The yarn and the color are just screaming FALL at me, so I've been working on that for now. It's slow going because I'm using size zero needles, but they'll be so super duper nice when I'm done. I'm itching to pull out some more yarn from the bin and start something new, but if I give into that, I'll at least pull out something that's half done instead. Like the purple toe up socks that are for me. I have to figure out the math for how many increases I'll need to go around my calf, and then I have to figure out how to increase in the ribbing and keep the 2, 2 pattern. That should be a big enough challenge for now. But I think my biggest challenge is in actually finishing something and not always jumping ahead!

Today, we're meeting with the realtor to go over the requests for repairs, and then I have to run to target to return things and to the library to get my books back. I don't think I'll check anything out either, and that seems a little sad too. Anyway, I've spent an hour sitting and computering, so I'd better get go and get some work done. Maybe I'll do some pictures of projects and stuff later.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Ben - Michael Jackson

For My Ben

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Monday, October 01, 2007

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