Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pillowcase Pants.

I got a ton done yesterday! I started at the top of my pile and worked my way down. Julie mentioned that this was ambitious of me, but I couldn't help but feel that it would be more virturous not to have a "pile" at all.

Anyway, I finished two aprons for my mom, one a work apron (she's a waitress) and one a kitchen apron from dishtowels, mended some workout pants for me, and added a patch pocket for my mp3 player to a pair of workout pants that had no pockets.

Then, I made a pair of wide legged capri style jammie pants for myself out of a set of pillowcases.



I got these pillowcases at a little "quilt" shop that was more vintage fabric junk shop that was not far from a house we were considering when we moved here. The owner seemed really nice, so I wanted to pick something to buy and the set was only $3. Then, after I'd paid and we were chatting, she got very racist and said some things about how nice it was to live around only white people. I was shocked and pretty much just left, and I still wish I'd given her a piece of my mind! I'm glad we didn't pick that house! BUT, they were pretty cute pillowcases and they make even cuter pants.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SOUP!

On Monday we had roast chicken with all the timmings for dinner, so after we picked the meat off, I saved the carcass, put it in the pot with two quarts of water, added a little salt, some garlic, a chopped up onion, the heart and leaves of celery, and carrots, and let it simmer for a few hours to make stock. After simmering, I strained the stock through a colander and put it in the fridge to let the fat float to the top and harden, so I could skim it off easily.

Then, for dinner, I made soup by cooking minced garlic, onion, carrot, and celery in a Tbs or two of olive oil over medium heat till it was softened and translucent. I added about a quart of stock, and about a cup of chopped chicken meat to that and let it simmer for a little while.

I was going to put rice in too, but I ran out of room in my saucepan! So I cooked the rice separately and we ate the soup served over scoops of rice.


I also made a loaf of the special, yummy, no knead bread. So good!

It actually snowed here, and there's snow on the ground. The chickens are not at all happy about that. I might try to sweep them a clear spot in their yard later on today. Ben is working from home, since the car is a bit snowed in, and the roads didn't look so great, so I'm going to spending a lot of the day working in my sewing room on projects to keep from distracting him. I'm terrible sometimes.... I just can't not distract him! Hopefully I'll have some finished sewing projects to post tomorrow!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Embroidered Tray Cloth



I like to keep this tray out on the counter to hold our bread or leftover bread things, so that we'll remember them and they won't go stale in the back of the cupboard. I usually line it with a folded tea towel, but on Friday, I was in the mood for a different quick project, so I embroidered this little cloth to line my tray for a more festive look.
The pattern is one of Aunt Martha's iron-on's, from a series of monthly quilt blocks. I finished the edge by sewing the trim onto the cloth right sides facing, then pressing it back to the wrong side and topstiching along the fold on the white fabric to hold all the layers in place.
I just love the trim! I got it at a fabrics by the pound closeout type store in Mesa when we lived in AZ, and it was super cheap. They sell their trims for $.15 to $.30 typically. I'm bummed that I don't have any in green and gold for my March tray cloth. I'll have to pick up some rick rack instead, I guess.
What do you think? Is it cute enough to bother doing an entire set of them?

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Homemade Granola Bars

Both Ben and I are hooked on the granola bars we made from this recipe from King Arthur flour. We did another batch on Saturday for this week's breakfasts.

I took the suggestion of the recipe and put the bowl on the kitchen scale, adding the dried fruit, and coconut and ground flax seed and chocolate chips and pumpkin seeds until it all totaled about 10 oz.

We use brown sugar, and olive oil for the sweetening and fat. The recipe also calls for a liquid sweetening as well, and since I think I'm a bit allergic to honey, and we don't have any maple syrup, we used Karo corn syrup. I think they'd be great with maple syrup, too, so I'll have to get some and try it.

The recipe says to grease the pan, but they stuck a bit, so Ben decided this time we'd line the pan with parchment paper.

The mixture seems a little dry and crumbly, but I just press it into the pan and when it bakes, it ends up sticking together pretty well.

The parchment paper made it pretty easy to turn the whole thing out onto the cutting board, and after it cooled a bit, we cut it into about twenty bars.
These turn out so yummy, and are absolutely worth making, if you've been looking for a good granola bar recipe. I happened to like granola bars soooo much more than granola. I don't know why, I guess I just like my nutrition in bar form.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Believe it or not, I couldn't find any hamburger bun recipes at any of my go-to recipes sites! So I did a little experimenting on my own.

I used the dinner roll recipe from my breadmaker book and used the bread maker to make the dough. I did cut the sugar in the recipe back from 1/4 cup to 2 Tbs. so they wouldn't turn out too sweet. The recipe was for nine dinner rolls so, assuming I'd want buns to be slightly larger, I cut the dough into 8 pieces and patted them into sort of flat rounds.

They rose very well, and I was glad that I'd made them pretty flat to begin with when I saw that, because I don't like those really high buns where there's more bread than meat in the bites.

They came out really well. Maybe a bit too tender, but Ben liked them very much and has requested that I make all buns from now on. I'm thinking they'd be really cute with an egg wash and some seame or poppy seeds sprinkled all over.
So, that was one of my big projects yesterday. I also did quite a bit of cleaning and such. I'm so glad that Ben's back home now! I miss him a lot when he's got to be away for days at a time like that. This weekend, I've got to make more granola bars and some yogurt, so I'll be sure to post pictures of those processes next week. And hopefully, I'll also have lots of pictures of finished sewing projects. You all have a great weekend!

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reusable Lunch Bag and Recycled Jammie Pants

ATTENTION: Melonie at MommaNMore is having a great giveaway to win Sandra Lee's slow cooking cookbook. You should check out her very interesting blog (her family just moved to Japan with the military and she also knows a ton about preparedness and regularly posts yummy recipes... just to say a bit about her blog.) and enter the contest. But only if you really really want the book, because I certainly do, so don't dilute my chances for nothing! ;)

Now, on to the sewing pictures:
I had a pretty productive day yesterday. I finished two projects, and did some organizing.

I made this reusable lunch bag for Ben. He usually re-uses random bags from leftover from shopping, but they fall apart pretty easily with the abuse of being balled up into his computer bag a few times a day. I modeled this one after a regular brown paper lunch bag, but made it much deeper, so containers will be able to fit in the bottom flat. I'm thinking about adding a pocket to the outside for siverware and napkins, but I doubt he'd bother to use it, so I'll ask first before I bother.



And I made Ben a new pair of pajama pants from a flannel sheet that I picked up at Goodwill last month. I think they turned out pretty cute, and the inside of them is super soft, so they'll be comfy and pretty warm. The sheet cost $2, I think, so definately not bad for enough fabric to make jammie pants.
I spent the rest of the afternoon sorting and organizing my projects. I stacked fabric in three categories:
"This is all cut out and half done, just finish it, Silly"
"I have a definate plan for this, I just have to get out a pattern and make it up"
"I have no idea whatsoever what to do with this fabric, but it's big enough to make something out of, and I can't just get rid of it!"
I'm hoping that by the time I work my way through the first two piles, inspiration will have struck for the third.
Ben's been in San Diego all this week, but he's coming back today, so I'm pretty excited about that! I've got to take care of some things I've been neglecting while he was away, like the dishes and laundry. After I finish that stuff, I'm going to try making homemade hamburger buns to go with sloppy joes for dinner. Maybe I'll also get started on that first pile of projects and see what other projects I can get finished.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Altered Little Boy Jeans

My cousin's little boy is a bit chubby and short legged, so they always have quite a hard time finding clothes to fit him. If they buy larger sizes and hem them, the cuffs are always much to wide, since they have to be shortened too much. So, mostly he wears sweatpants.

My aunt wanted me to make him some jeans to fit, so I got some stretch denim and started altering a pattern.

To begin, I picked a pants pattern that fit his hip measurement, knowing that the elastic waist will take care of the waist fitting. I used a pajama pants pattern because I couldn't find any others the right size in my stash and only Butterick were on sale this past weekend, so there wasn't any better choice for buying a new one, so I don't know for sure that the crotch will sit at the right level, as those seem rather low on the pajama patterns, but it's a start and I can make adjustments after I send these and he gets a chance to try them on.

I had to shorten the pattern about nine inches. To do that, I traced the entire pattern in the correct size onto that pattern papery stuff with the grid printed on it. I could also have used brown paper or tissue paper. Then I folded along the "shorten here" fold-line, using the grid to make sure it all stayed level. After that, I used my ruler to draw a new line from the crotch point to the new cuff. I had to do this to have an even line to follow, since folding will cause a jog in the original line.
To make them look a bit more like store bought jeans, I used gold-colored "denim" thread for all the topstitching and did the hems with the machine so the stitching would show. I used elastic about an inch shorter than his waist measurement for the waistband, and made sure to put a tab of bias tape in the back so they'd know which side is front and which is back.
I finished the seams with pinking shears, but I'm thinking next time, I might set the serger up instead, since that did make lots of fuzzies and frays. Or I could have used the edge finishing or zig zag stitches on my machine.
So, today I'll get them all packed up and sent out, so she can try them on him and let me know if there are any more adjustments to do. Then I can use the same pattern to make some more jeans for him, adding pockets (or Thomas the Train decorations... I've been told he'd love that), or dress pants, if I can find some stretch twill that will work.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

A New Week

Well, we didn't get frozen out, and things have warmed up here a bit. It's been in the thirties through the week and is predicted to stay that way. It's sad that that seems warm, but it definately is when it comes to keeping the house comfortable, and the chickens comfortable, and the pipes unfrozen.

This weekend, Ken came by and he and Ben found the shut-off for the water to the upstairs, so now we won't have to worry about the pipes freezing. Then we made pizza and watched MacGyver. So that was a pretty good Saturday.

Yesterday we went to mass at the Our Lady of the Snows Shrine, because we had errands to run not far from there. I had things to return at different places, and then I needed to go to Joann Fabrics and pick up supplies to make pants for one of my cousins' son. I always really enjoy going to the Shrine, and their church is so light and bright, it's really nice to get to go there for mass.

I've got lots and lots of projects lined up for this week. I've been commisioned to make these pants for my cousin, because her little boy is really hard to fit otherwise. And at Rural King I bought a fleece blanket that was clearanced for $2.50 to make into a hunting shirt for my older brother. And then I'm planning to start at the top of my works in progress and work down from there. I want to make some clothes for myself, and finish the this and that type things that are piled in my sewing room.

I want to do some "spring" cleaning as well, before spring comes and I get too busy outside mowing and gardening. So, I'm planning to scrub the bathrooms top to bottom this week. And I suppose, if I actually am still motivated after that, I might rearrange some pictures or clean out the kitchen cabinets and replace shelf paper.

There's always lots of knitting to do too! I feel like I either am super slow at finishing things, or I plan way too many projects! How do you all keep yourselves on task, and get motivated to finish projects?

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Frozen Pipes, Frozen Chickens, and Frozen Toes

Okay, I don't want to complain too much about the cold weather, because I know it's hitting a lot of the country, and at least we don't have huge piles of snow to contend with as well. But it has been a little harder on us for the last day or so.

Yesterday morning, Ben found that the pipes in the upstairs bathroom were frozen, and we spent about forty-five minutes looking for the frozen part and trying to thaw them with my hairdryer before he left for work. We never figured out where it was frozen, and he told me to call a plumber. I left the taps open while I called (no one was open at 7am) and they thawed before I found anyone. Our upstairs is not at all insulated well, and I think we'll be draining those pipes and closing off that part of the house for the winter.

After that, I realized that it was feeling really cold in the house even downstairs, and I figured that I should turn the heat up (it's usually set at 65) to help with that pipe situation. I found out that the thermostat battery was dead! I replaced them and reset everything. It was showing that it was fifty-three in the hall... one of the warmer parts of the house. No wonder the pipes in the attic froze!

Later on, I heard a bang at the back of the house. Thinking it was dogs bothering the chickens, I went out on the deck to chase them away. Instead, I saw a big chunk of ice on the deck. We don't have any snow or ice around at all right now, so I couldn't think where it came from. It was shaped like a drinking glass almost, as though you'd freeze a big cube in a glass and pop it out. I realized it could only have come from the furnace exhaust on the roof! It had frozen over while it was off, and then the heat melted it out once I had it started again.

The furnace is having a hard time against the 0 degree temps. It's running constantly, but only hitting about 62. Ben and I were talking this morning that we'll either have to have the furnace serviced, or do something about improving the insullation on the house. Probably both. We'll start with putting that shrink plastic on all the windows.

So, while I'm not exactly depressed, because there are families with a ton of worse things to be concerned about, I do have a strange feeling of winter pressing in, making my house cold and uninviting. Longtime readers will know though, I don't usually stand for feeling down, and try my best to do something about it. So here are my fool proof plans for today:

1. Bake something! The oven will heat the kitchen and the smell will cozify the house. I'm thinking this calls for sticky buns. Yes, I know they're death. But we're having company this weekend, so we won't be eating the whole batch on our own.

2. Exercise! Not only won't I feel the cold once I get moving, it's good for me too and will cheer up my outlook.

3. Lots of Tea and Hot Chocolate! That's pretty self-explanatory.

4. Clean the living room and kitchen! Not only will that keep me warm because I'll be moving, it's a needed thing with company coming. AND it'll cheer me up when I see things looking organized and cozy again.

5. Move my little comfy chair to a warm place, and curl up and read and knit. My sewing room is usually the warmest place in the house, especially if the sun will shine today. If the sun is shining, I can put my chair right in a sunbeam. There's nothing like a sunbeam on a cold day to cheer me up.

How is everyone else battling the cold and the winter blues?

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We Find Ourselves Doing Strange Things

This evening, my husband said to me, "Okay, you're good with the plan? I'll pick up the chicken and hold it while you rub on the vaseline?"

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Cold Wind


The temperature is dropping a lot this week, and the wind has been whistling strongly since last night. I don't think we'll get snow, it doesn't seem to snow much around here at all, and I know it'll be colder for my family and friends to the north, but it's plenty cold enough for me right now, and I'm planning on some oatmeal and hot chocolate for breakfast. And I'm planning NOT to go outside except for the absolutely needed trips to gather eggs and treat the chickens and get the mail. I think I might actually just watch a movie and knit for part of the afternoon. But first, I have to do my regular chores and put the kitchen back together after a bit of plumbing fallout from the weekend.

The drain pipes under the sink were leaking, so Ben took them apart to see what we needed (luckily it was just a couple of gasket ring things that had cracked) and on Saturday we picked up the parts and Ken came over to help Ben fix it all up. (I did reward him with fresh scrambled eggs on a baguette with melted cheese and let him pick any dessert he wanted me to bake. He chose apple crisp.) Anyway, Ben put a bucket under the drain in case we forgot and ran water. Well, it should have been fine, but while we were getting dinner, I forgot and ran water while I rinsed and scrubbed the dirt (and... stuff...) off the eggs for dinner. And the bucket overflowed and went all over the floor and in the cabinet. Ben was awesome and cleaned it all up while I cooked, but there's still the floor mats and rugs to wash and put back down. And I should take the opportunity to scrub the corners and the cabinets so it'll all be clean at once. But Ken and Ben fixed all the numerous leaks, and the sink it back to normal, so hopefully, no black mold and mildew under the cabinets for me!

It was actually a fairly eventful weekend. We spent Saturday with Ken finding a Mexican market and buying a tortilla press, and going to the Art Museum and seeing an exhibit of Abstract Expressionist painters, like Jackson Pollack. (Don't get me started on that exhibit! That should be a post all it's own. I almost wanted my six dollars back, but it did make me think, so I guess... eh, nope, I want my six dollars back.) We had lunch, and picked up some snacks, did a Rural King run and then we came here for dinner and plumbing.

Ken ordered a couple of feed sack gardening aprons for his mom and Grandma, so I'm planning to order a big spool of bias tape. It's a fraction of the cost if I buy it in bulk, and then I'll have plenty on hand to make some to sell on Etsy or maybe at the farmer's market this summer, if we rent a booth.

On Sunday, after mass, we took my mp3 player to Best Buy to see about getting them to fix a problem I've been having loading files to it. Instead of fixing it, they just replaced it under the warranty, so now I have a new 16 gig sansa player that I don't think I'll even be able to fill up. I also discovered that I can buy and rent movies from Amazon unbox to play on it. Not that I'd bother for regular use, but it might be a fun indulgence while travelling to rent a few movies. Mostly, I'm just happy to be able to listen to the free library audiobooks on an mp3 player again. I was just moving my laptop from room to room, but that doesn't really work in the summer, when I'm outside and walking around. Right now, I'm listening to Eat, Pray, Love and in turns enjoying it and trying to stop my rigid, judgmental ways.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Flirty Apron for My Sister In Law

While we were in MI for Christmas, my SIL Missy and I worked on making her an apron from the book, A is for Apron. We didn't have time to finish it, so i just brought all the pieces home with me to finish for her. I got it done last week, and it's on its way to her right now, since I sent it out on Saturday from the big post office branch in St. Louis.

I altered the pattern in the book somewhat just to make the construction more straigthforward and to change the fit a tad. I used 1/4 inch elastic instead of fabric ties to gather the upper edge of the bodice, and we added about an inch or so to the width.

Here are some pictures of me playing at modeling in the finished product. Don't mind my face, Ben was making me laugh.
We also added pockets to the original design. I just drew them using a ruler to make the equal and square, and I traced a cup to do the rounded corners on the bottoms. The rick rack is sewn to the right side, and then pressed out to finish the edges. I just topstitched the pockets on along that pressed line.
We used purchased eyelet lace instead of self made fabric ruffles to save some time. It's sewn between the two sides of the skirt, with the heading lined up on the seam line, then it gets pressed out as the skirt hem is pressed.
Since this pattern is reversible, the edges are all finished automatically with the lining/other side of the apron. So now Missy has a pretty flowered apron with green trim and a pretty green apron with flowered accents all in one!

I might make myself one of these as well, it's so cute. And now that I've done it once, I think I could do it from memory and more quickly. I particularly like the obi-like sash.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Goings On



I've had a fairly full week this week. I've been reading quite a lot. I decided to really take advantage of winter time and got some novels from the library, and my nephew loaned me a book he wants me to read as well. I've always loved to read so much, but I tend to let it really get in the way of everything else, so I tend not to even start books, knowing I won't want to do anything else until they're finished. Maybe I'm outgrowing that, or maybe I'm just more disciplined, but even though I've been doing a lot of reading, I'm also finishing things as well.

I've been working on an apron for my sister in law Missy this week, and I'm planning to finish it this afternoon. And on my knitting needles is a Elizabeth Zimmerman Pi Shawl that some of you may recognize, since I've been working on it off and on for a year. I'm making with angora blend yarn that is recycled from a sweater I picked up at Goodwill. As I was taking this sweater apart, the sleeves unravelled easily, but I had trouble with the yarn in the front breaking a lot, so there's lots of small balls from that section. Well, I'm down to just the smaller balls and I'm at the point in the shawl where there are about six hundred stitches on the needle, and that leads to having another join every other round or so. I still had the back of the sweater, and so I undid that this week and round the balls, and ended up with only three long pieces, so I've got three pretty good sized balls to finish off the shawl. Now, actually finishing it will be a different story, since it takes me at least two Macgyver's to do one round. ;)

I did take pictures of our "healthy" nacho dip this week, but I don't know that they'll be much use for a post, since most of the ingredients started out from scratch too. It seems odd, but I might have to do a Nacho Dip series, showing the different components being made as well.

Tomorrow we're headed to the big city lights of St. Louis to go to the art museum and then search out a tortilla press with our friend Ken. The boys don't realize, since they work there and Ken lives there, but it actually is exciting for me to drive into St. Louis. I just love seeing the arch!

Chicken Update:
Our five remaining hens don't seem to be at all troubled by the death of their companion. I'm beginning to wonder if they perhaps threw her out of the pen as part of a sacraficial rite to The Dog. We're still getting an egg from each of them every day, and though five a day doesn't add up to quite as many as six a day, and we have added one more customer to our list, I still have about four dozen eggs in the fridge right now. They sure are healthy plump productive little pets.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Recycling #6 Plastic: DIY shrinky dinks

This is an ornament that I made for an exchange, and I wanted to show how well number six plastic works as shrinky dinks. This kind of plastic is usually the lids and clamshells for take out and bakery boxes. You can tell if you have the right kind if there is a number six inside the little triangle of recyling arrows, like the number one on water bottles. If you want to use colored pencils on it, you can sand it lightly with fine sandpaper. I kept mine smooth and used a sharpie for the coloring on it.

I started by drawing a rough pattern on a piece of paper and then laying my piece of plastic over it and tracing it. I cut it out and then punched holes in the upper corners. I used a regular hole punch, because the holes shrink a lot, along with the rest of the plastic. My plastic came from the bottom of a berry container.


I used the toaster oven to shrink my little plaque, because most of the instructions on shrinky dinks say not to use a gas oven, and I figured this would be the same. Your plastic will crinkle up as it shrinks, but it'll flatten it's self back out, and if you're careful, you can put something flat and heat proof on it when it comes out while it's still warm. I used the bottom of a pyrex dish to let it cool completely flat.

Here is the finished size next to the original pattern that I traced.

Here is the finished ornament, with the plaque hung under the mini knitting project.

To make the mini knitted part of the ornament, I used a scrap of sock yarn and size one needles and cast on six stitches and just knit back and forth in every stitch until I had a tiny scarf about an inch and a half long. I broke of a long tail halfway through a row, and then wound the tail into a mini yarn ball. The needles are made with a toothpick cut in half, a bead glued to the flat end of each one. After tranferring the stitched to the toothpick "needles" I used small dabs of glue to secure the yarn around the ball, so it wouldn't unwind or slip off. I just ran the hanging loop and the plaque's hanger right through the mini ball of yarn to finish it off.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Hand Crank Grain Grinder

Well, for $25 I couldn't really expect it to perform like the Nutrimill, but my hand grinder is going to be relegated to the garage for cracking corn for the chickens, I'm afraid.

It was a fun experiment, but it wouldn't grind finely enough, and Ben ended up cracking the outside of it trying to tighten the grinding wheel.


Now I'll HAVE to get a Nutrimill, right? Because I have all these wheat berries left.

I think that perhaps this hand grinder would grind finely enough for tamales, if I ever decide to grow flint corn and nixtamalize it. I'm not sure if it could get masa fine enough for tortillas though.


As you can see, my hand cranked grain made a sorry looking dough. I used the Whole Wheat recipe in my bread maker book, and it does have vital wheat gluten added to it.

The loaf came out pretty gritty heavy and dense. It's about half to a third of the height of a regular loaf from my bread maker.

So, I don't know if I will spend the $250 needed to have an effective grain grinder. I've heard the health benefits of freshly ground grain are well worth the price, but I don't want to jump on a bandwagon and buy an expensive gadget that I won't enjoy using.

For now though, I have a grinder that I can use to crack corn for the chickens, which means I won't have to make twenty more corn heating bags from that forty pounds of corn I bought in November. And maybe this year we'll plant some corn for feeding as well. It'll be a fun experiment, and I'm sure Ben will love to rub the kernals off the ears as we watch television! :D

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Menu for 1-4 to 1-10

I've been in the mood to try new recipes and make some new things lately, so this menu has more new to us things than usual. I've also been craving mexican foods and flavors like crazy! And I tried making yogurt and yogurt cheese over the weekend, so I've got some interesting uses for those things that I want to try as well.

Sunday
L: Refried bean quesadillas (Okay, my version of refried beans is really just cooking some pintos and then smashing them with cooked onion and seasonings, but they still are yummy! Better for us than the lard in a can version, right?)
D: Homemade Pizza Night!

Monday
B: Homemade Granola Bar and Yogurt
L: Leftover Pizza
D: Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, and Pumpkin Pie (A belated New Year's celebration)

Tuesday
B: Deviled Eggs (I'm experimenting with yogurt and yogurt cheese in place of mayo to make this into a healthy, quick breakfast. I'll let you all know how that goes.)
L: Leftover Pizza
D: Chicken pot pie filling from the freezer heated and served over biscuits

Wednesday
B: Deviled Eggs
L: Leftover Chicken and Biscuits
D: Nacho Salad (This is going to be an experiment too... I'm planning to make a layered dip with the healthy refried beans layer, a seasoned yogurt cheese layer, smashed avocado layer, chopped tomato layer, shredded sharp cheddar layer, a lot of shredded romaine on top, and chopped green onion, served with homemade corn tortillas cut into chips and baked till crispy. This is my attempt at giving the nutrition in my favorite meal of nachos a boost. I usually just bake the store bought chips with shredded cheese on top, and then eat them with guacamole, but this should be way healthier.)

Thursday
B: Oatmeal
L: Chicken and Rice
D: Eggs and Toast

Friday
B: Oatmeal
L: Salad with Chicken Chunks and black beans and corn
D: Homemade Pizza Night!

Saturday
B: Crepes
L: Leftover Pizza
D: Finish up the snacky foods left in the freezer from the New Years Eve Snack Buffet.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

The Birds

You'd think that there wouldn't be very many differences between where I live now in southern IL and where I grew up in Mid-Michigan. In general, there aren't, and moving here was a bit like coming home, especially compared to AZ.

But there is one large difference:
The gigantic swarms of birds that seem to hang out here. Everyone here finds nothing strange about it. And no one back home actually believes what we try to tell them about the shear number of birds in these flocks.

These pictures don't actually do it justice, but Ben took them the other day so we could try to explain how creepy it is when the birds show up.

This is the neighbor's house and yard. Their yard is about two - three acres like ours is, and it was covered in birds, as well as a big part of our yard, all the power lines, the other neighbor's trees and the field across the road.

We're pretty sure they're hostile. They might mean business. Let's just call it unnerving.

Sometimes it's just little sparrows, but these were big blackbirds, with big sections within the flock of redwinged blackbirds.

It can be kind of spooky to walk outside and have hundreds and hundreds of birds all turn to look at you, while they perch all over the rooftops and powerlines.

I guess I've seen birds flock in MI before, but never so many, and mostly for a pretty obvious reason, like they're following the plows in the spring and eating the worms and bugs that are worked up.
Anyway, I suppose all these birds are just flying south for the winter, but I'd never seen so many together until I moved here. They don't always come by our house, but whenever we drive anywhere we always see them over the highways, like a bird river in the sky. I've watched them until I couldn't see them, and never seen the stream end. And it's not single file, either, like with geese. These little birds fly fifty or so thick for as far as you can see in either direction.
I think it's pretty cool to live right in a migratory pattern, now that I'm more used to it. As long as I don't think of Alfred Hitchcock.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Crafting With My In-Laws

Over Christmas break, I got to do some fun crafting with my sisters-in-law. My mother-in-law had some really fun ornament kits with the styrofoam shape that you stick pins into with sequins. You know what I mean. Anyway, I'd always wanted to try those kind, so it was super fun.

Here we are showing off our finished Santas. Jess on the left is the New England sister-in-law who got the gardening apron in her gift, and Missy on the right is my MI sister-in-law who is going to have a baby this spring and got the embroidered tea towels as part of her gift.

Don't mind my side ponytail, we were having an eighties party. Okay, I was having an eighties party.

And here's my finished ornment. He turned out pretty cute, and I really like his hat.

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Happy New Year!




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