Thursday, February 28, 2008

Feels Like Millions...


... Millions of Cats, that is. Well, not really. Only 7 more. I finished the free cats today. I ended up changing a few things:

Some are bit larger than the originals...

one is purple with dark fuchsia ears...

some are blue-gray but lean more towards the gray...

this one is yellow with darker green eyes...

one has stripes...

and this one has a different strap ~ a 'design' born out of necessity ~ I like the effect. I think I may use the effect again on some other purses/bags that I'm thinking of for the future. But for now, those of you who are expecting one to arrive on your doorstep, be on the lookout!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Soup Challenge: Waste Not Soup

aka Use-Up-What-You-Have-Soup

Are you up for a challenge?

I am learning a lesson repeatedly: don't buy more than we can eat in a week or so. Now I'm not talking non-perishables or even perishables with lengthy expiration dates, nor am I referring to freezer items. I'm actually talking about the food in my refrigerator ~ you know the things: the container of unopened sour cream or yogurt that is hiding in the back, or the half-full package of luncheon meat that is stacked beneath layers upon layers of cheese and other unidentified, hastily-wrapped sundries lying in the deli drawer. Or how about the veggie bins? Some of my favorite science experiments happen in there! All that slime and fuzz! Wow.

Why is it that I buy more than I need? I will admit that I'm a hoarder in some areas. (Got to work on that.) Remember Y2K? Thankfully I hadn't purchased a truckload of rice or flour, but I had canned beans stacked in neat rows and 25 tubes of toothpaste not to mention several years' worth of deodorant, Parmalat and ______________ (fill in the blank). And thankfully, we were able to use up some of that and give other stuff away.

But back to my overbuying of perishables. I think having a fridge that is too full (crammed?) helps things to rot. I really hate wasting vegetables and fruit and other food. Perhaps better meal planning, organization, more realistic quantities and thinking of others that are in need would help in this area. Plus it would help our wallet.

So I emptied my vegetable bin.
Waste Not Soup.
(it ended up tasting like borscht)

1/2 head of red cabbage
1 small bag of baby carrots
4 stalks celery
1 sweet onion
1 can pinto beans
1 can no-salt added diced tomatoes
1 cup white wine
1 container (quart) low sodium chicken broth
3 packets of low sodium liquid veggie broth mixed with 2 cups water (I used Trader Joe's)
dried parsley - small handful
garlic powder - a few shakes
1 tsp smoked sweet Spanish paprika *
salt & pepper, to taste

Chop up veggies, put all into pot. Boil it until carrots are tender and cabbage still has some color to it. Serve with sour cream and bread. (My husband added a few dashes of Worcestershire.)

* This item is one I recently discovered after borrowing this cookbook from the library many months ago. It's very good. It also comes in bittersweet and hot but I'm too chicken to try either.

Now for the Waste Not Soup Challenge:
I know you probably have some veggies or other goodies lurking in your fridge.
What soup can you come up with?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Socks


Couldn't think of a better title at the moment. It's been that kind of a day. Drab. Dreary. Dull. Doldrums, definitely.

btw - I'm flexing one foot and pointing the other - looks sorta weird

However, I wanted to show my 1st finished pair of socks. Yippee. I really like how they turned out even if I did have to fudge a few things, especially with the first one. And after knitting the 2nd one more quickly, I forced myself to weave back in the ends on the spot or else you know what would happen... it would sit in a 'to finish' pile too long. Maybe even until summer and by that time, who needs to wear socks?

I ended up using the Picot-Edged Socks from 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders. Yarn: Koigu KPPPM Color: P501 (an older colorway since I've had the skeins for several years!) Seeing as I am giving these away (know peeking, Mom), I have already begun a 2nd pair using the same pattern but a different yarn. We'll see... so far, so good.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Lady is Amazing!


Mini Swap 3, originally uploaded by pichurrayic.

Yes, she is. To whom am I referring? No, not my mom (although she is a very amazing woman herself - love you, Mom!). I am referring to Kristen of Kleas fame. She was my both my Mini Swap 3 partner and my Scent of Water Photo Swap recipient. By the way, what are the odds of that? Hmmm... 2 different swaps headed by 2 different people...I get the same person to swap with. Not that I'm complaining...

But that's off the topic.

Kristen sent us these fun and beautiful items for the Mini Swap. And she did it a few days after giving birth to her 2nd child. Wow! Double Wow. Or is that Wow Wow? Anyway, look at the goodies she sent. My children were thrilled. Thank you so much, Kristen.

And this are some of the handmade things we sent her (and of which I hinted about here and here):


Clockwise from top left: a clay monkey from my daughter, a paint-your-own sword & shield (made by my husband), a treasure bag from a thrifted felted sweater, and paper puppets made by my younger sons.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Colored "Glass": A Tutorial for Kids**

An irregular color wheel!

Note: This is for Cami who makes such neat crafts and who has lots of snow right now.

A few days ago I tried a colorful and easy but messy craft for kids to use outside in the snow or freezing weather. So here's what you can do to make your own colored 'glass'.


You need:
water balloons
food coloring
plastic bag(s)
cookie sheet with sides
newspapers or old towels
scissors
old clothing that you don't mind getting dirty
snow boots, coats & gloves (for after)

WORD OF CAUTION: This is a messy craft! Food coloring will stain, so do this with newspaper or towels and/or clean up spills right away, wear old clothes you don't mind getting dirty and make sure you wipe your hands before touching those clean walls! Or better yet, do parts of this outside in the cold.

Put 1 drop of food coloring into a balloon. 1 drop is enough. More than that, and it gets messier.

Carefully fill the balloon with water. Follow the directions on the package. (You may have to squeeze the water down into the balloon with one hand while the other hand is holding the top of the balloon against the end of the spigot (faucet). Carefully remove and tie off. Repeat. Place in plastic bag(s)* and freeze.

Next day: Put on old clothes. Place towels or newspaper down for protecting surfaces. (If doing outside, then you probably can skip this part). Have an adult cut the balloon. The kids can peel it off. Careful - there might be some colored liquid that falls out. Wearing gloves at this point is good to keep your hands from becoming icicles.

Put the colored glass onto the cookie sheet (this helps to catch drips).

Put on your coats, boots and gloves... maybe a hat.

Go out and play.
But no throwing at each other - it'll be like getting pummeled with a rock. Ouch!

* You don't have to put them into plastic bags, but it's a precaution against freezer spills.

** for adults to do with and/or for the kids unless you have older ones

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sugar Rush: Part 2

My husband was away all during Valentine's week, and so we celebrated belatedly when he returned. I gave him this and these.

He gave me a g.c. to a yarn shop (yeah!) and these pale pink tulips since he knows how I 'hate' roses. Actually I like roses, particularly the more unusual and vintage kinds. I think it's just that I dislike getting the norm, the commercialness of roses for that day. A hand-picked bouquet of wildflowers from him is more my speed. If only wildflowers grew around here in the middle of winter! Our presents exchanged were nice, but simply having him back with me is sweetest. How often we take each other for granted. Now we just need to do more of this:

and this:

and this (something my 7-year-old said to me out of the blue, totally unprompted):

"I know, Mom... C and A can watch over D and me so you and Dad can go out and do relaxing!"

Exactly my sentiments.

Tiny Treats

Yesterday, my daughter got up earlier than usual, finished her schoolwork in a timely manner and was rewarded with some free time.

She chose to make miniature croissants and cinnamon buns. She made them using this book. So cute and tasty.

Blink. Blink. Where did they go? As I said, very tasty! Next time, she'll have to make a double-batch.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Meow!

We put the names of the comment-ers into a tiny basket, and my daughter drew forth:

Congratulations, Randi! Just email me with your information about where to send her. Thanks so much for everyone who commented - it's very encouraging to receive some feedback. Since I didn't get as many comment-ers, and so that you won't go away too disappointed...

...I decided to send the remainder of you your own cat too. Each will be unique. So, let me know your info as well, and the litter of kittens will go out to each of your homes as soon as I can finish them. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Making


Note: Thank you for all the sweet comments on the free cat.
If you haven't left a comment, there's still time!

Yesterday my two older ones took a writing workshop... My fingers gripped the steering wheel as we wound our way through treacherous conditions, the white of the snow squall hazing our path. I could feel perspiration form on my upper lip. My heart skipped a beat... Actually, no. They did go to a workshop yesterday but not in that manner. The roads were clear, it was only flurrying on and off, and we arrived safely in one piece. But didn't that first way sound more interesting? They learned quite a bit from the visiting author. Very fun. Now they just need to incorporate some of those things into their own work.

My 2nd son is working on a frog project. He's been busy looking at books and videos and collecting information on all kinds of disgusting but fascinating facts about frogs. Did you know that some frogs are picky eaters? If they don't like the taste of a particular insect, they just throw up their entire stomach (it actually comes out of their mouths), let the offender out then swallow their organ again. Pretty handy, I say!

I'm working on a colorful idea for the kids to do inside & outside which I'll post later. This is a sneak peek.

And I'm toying with an idea of some crafty cards. Maybe a club... we'll see.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tag, You're It!

a beautiful glass piece by Dale Chihuly that we saw over the summer
I've been tagged.

Claire tagged me. THANK YOU, Claire.

So now, I'm supposed to share 7 things about me. This was actually harder than I imagined. Too much work for the brain, but here's what I came up with:

1. I didn't put my face in the pool water until 8th grade. No swimming lessons until then. I was scared stiff of the deep end and anything to do with underwater was off-limits in my book. I still don't feel comfortable with swimming where I can't touch bottom. And I don't think I could save my kids if anything were to ever happen...

2. I've come to the conclusion that I really dislike iced tea. Yes, I've sipped and sipped various kinds: peach, raspberry, green, regular, decaf... but nope. It's not my cup of tea (excuse the pun). I do like some hot teas, especially cinnamon stick vanilla, chai and some herbals. I suppose the only iced tea I will 'enjoy' (tolerate) is chamomile (thanks to my friend, Hope, who introduced me to it in 8th grade).

3. I wish I spoke fluent French.

4. I absolutely love vegetables now, except for maybe okra. (I was a vegetable-hater growing up!)

5. My favorite color (in terms of what I wear) is black.

6. I like the smell of fresh rain on wet pavement.

7. My perfect job would be owning and running a coffeehouse/bookstore/yarn store where artists and musicians and knitters would showcase their work, and there would be a whole slew of artsy activities for both young and old to get involved with. (At least that's my perfect job now...)

Actually that wasn't too painful. What is proving a tad more difficult is tagging others who haven't been tagged (or at least not in a while). But I came up with a grouping. I will henceforth choose...

creative kismet
if sew
ka-blog!
little seedlings
mettes potteri
simple sparrow
wren's nest

Here are the rules:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Blank Canvas Granola


Whew! Almost recovered from yesterday's post. Now here's a lower-sugar post. I love granola. With nuts and seeds and fruit, both dried and fresh. I really like the Ginger Almond & Cashew granola from here and the Banana Nut one from this company, but I've never made a batch from scratch (hey it rhymes!). Well, my in-laws have been making their own granola for over 30 years and have given me their recipe several times. I don't know why I kept putting it off. Perhaps I thought it would take too long to make? Or maybe it was the fact that I kept forgetting to buy a key ingredient? Anyway, here is a simple, no bells and whistles, but versatile granola recipe. Think of it like a blank canvas: ready to add your own toppings. Enjoy.

"Blank Canvas" Granola (aka in-laws granola)
8 cups old fashioned oats

2 small jars (12 oz. each) unsweetened wheat germ

2 tsp cinnamon

2/3 cup canola oil

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup honey


With wooden spoon, mix oats, wheat germ & cinnamon together in very large bowl. In large measuring cup* pour in oil until it comes to the 2/3 line, pour in honey (now you'll be up to the 1 and 2/3 line, then follow it with the vanilla. Mix this well. Add to dry stuff. Mix really really well. (This may take a little longer than you had hoped!).
Put on baking tray (with a lip and lined with foil). Bake at 325 F for about 15 min. Turn with spatula. Bake about 10 min more. Stir every now and then as it cools. Put into air-tight container. Should keep about 1 month.**

* you could measure it with measuring cups and mix in a bowl, but then you'd have more to wash up
**ha! It won't keep that long in a household of six.


If perchance you like a more intricate granola recipe, here are a few that look very tempting:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sugar Rush: Part 1



Valentine's Day, originally uploaded by pichurrayic.

Happy Valentine's Day.

How we spent our day: clockwise starting at top left:
1. made cupcakes using heart-shaped silicone liners - filled them too full & they overflowed!
2. hand-cut valentine from my daughter
3. "positive & negative" love: if I had gotten up at 4 am, I could have made the 'authentic' heart pancakes from this book, but since I had 4 hungry kids and it was almost 8 am, I opted for the cheat method: make a regular pancake then use a cookie cutter to shape a heart. I like this method better - no waste - you get 2 hearts in the process! The strawberries are ones we picked over the summer with a bit of sugar thrown in.
4. pastels - part of a craft my younger sons did at a Valentine's party with other homeschoolers
5. a quickie garland - put up at about 11 last night
6. "Jilted Love" - my title for a precious illustration of Tasha Tudor from a book entitled, Tasha Tudor's Old-Fashioned Gifts
7. part of the envelope my daughter 'sent' her card in
8. our basket of love: handmade & a few store-bought cards that my children and I gave to each other
9. pink milk - this has been a family tradition for the past few years - a few drops of red food coloring in milk - voila - pink milk! Next time? Try all-natural dye.
10. more of the envelope - I should have guessed who it was from - besides the recognizable handwriting, I think postage has gone up in price

That's it! Now... no more sugar for the rest of the month.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow and a Free Cat

No, I'm not singing the television commercial. But I have been busy making cat purses. Now those who know me might laugh. Yes, laugh. Now stop laughing.

I do have a confession to make: I am not a cat-lover. However, despite my lack of interest in felines, a friend of mine just got a kitten for her two little girls. This friend is also my 'secret sister' at our church, so I began making little cat purses to give as a surprise.


I sketched out some ideas and got to work.

This one is for my niece in NY (hi there!)

I used recycled wool (from all of those felted sweaters that were piling up)


and did a wee bit of embroidery. (Don't look too closely!)

I hand stitched and machine-stitched, using the same idea for the strap as this one.

There, done! Now for the Free Cat...

This little cat would like a home. I'd be glad to send her to you for your little girl (or boy). Just leave a comment, and I'll pick names out of a hat in 7 days - next Wednesday!