About The Country Wife Blog

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mission: The Adventure Begins

On Thursday we finished rushing around: packing, taking boxes to the post office, packing, then taking more boxes to the post office, and finally putting ourselves in the car, stopping a moment for prayer, then headed to the stake center where we had a final interview with the Stake President and were then set apart, making up official full time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We then hit the road...

That night we stayed in Berlin, Connecticut at a nice clean motel.  We were completely shot.  We fell asleep instantly. Friday morning there was a very nice breakfast BUT no vegan, oil-free, salt-free, and sugar-free food.  Disappointing not to stick to my planned diet on the very first day.

Friday we left around 8 AM and drove through until we arrived in Charleston, West Virginia.  There was a pool in the motel but we were too tired to take advantage of it.  Across the access road was a Hardees/Red Burrito franchise.  I got us each a bean and rice burrito, some salad, and a chocolate milk shake for Dear One who was thrilled with that!  We were almost instantly asleep that night also.

Saturday morning there were even fewer options for acceptable food  so I went across to Hardees and got several salads and sides of beans to go on top.  The manager was very kind to prepare them for me as it was breakfast time and they don't have that food ready at that time of day.  Again we left around 8 AM and drove and drove and drove...750 miles or so.  At one point the thermometer in the car registered the outside temperature as 102 degrees.  We arrived in Blue Springs, Missouri at 7:45 PM at 97 degrees!

We scouted a little for the LDS meetinghouse, did not find it quickly so Dear One humored me in going back to the motel to check in.  Now we are about ready for bed.  Well, I am, anyway.

Tomorrow we will drive to the Denver area which should only be 8.5 hours which is good as we will get a late start after church.

This country we live in is glorious!  So many beautiful sights.  My favorite was a doe with two spotted fawns eating beside the interstate highway up on the bank.  West Virginia had me humming to myself that great John Denver song about the state.  The corn was already tasseled out.  Further south and west there were huge fields of corn and soybeans.  Impressive.  Kentucky had some very beautiful horse farms visible from the highway.   We saw big rivers:  Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri and lots of little ones.  The road signs were so interesting.  Salt Lick! Santa Claus!  Ferdinand!  Jackson County.

So far Dear One has done all the driving.  The car is pretty closely packed.   I think to avoid embarrassment I will NOT post a picture.  It just struck me tonight that we won't be able to take any of the grandchildren for rides, once we get there, because there is no room.  We may have to figure something out.

Monday, July 17, 2017

New Focus (for a while...)

On Sunday Dear One and I spoke in Church.  It was our last time to speak in our home church for a while.  We have been called as full-time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We will be moving to Oregon to serve.

At present we do not know for sure what our responsibilities will be but as we were called as "office specialists" we believe we will be working to support the young missionaries who devote 18 months to 2 years as full time missionaries.  We look forward to this service, and the changes it will bring in our lives.

Some of the changes that we already know about:

We will be leaving quiet country living and move to a city.

We will be leaving our one-family house and moving to an apartment complex, one with an outside  swimming pool!

We will be meeting many new people all at once!

We will be doing things that we either have not done for a long time, or have never done.

We will have opportunities to grow in ways we cannot now imagine.

Maybe we will even eat different foods...

It is likely that these blog posts will only be weekly instead of five days a week...even though it has been nearly a month since I last posted.  (Getting the house ready to leave, emptying, storing, saying good bye to good stuff and foolishly saved stuff has taken a lot of time, energy, and a mental toll on this country wife and all the helpers who have made it happen.  Nearly done now. With only a few days left to make good before turning over the house to our family.)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Munchie Monday: Smoked Almond Cheddar

Still trying to the vegan things most of the time.  Here is a recipe I do not recommend!

Smoked Almond Cheddar

2 cups raw almonds, soaked overnight in water in the refrigerator
1/2 to 3/4 cup pimentos from a jar, plus 1/2 to 3/4 cup packing liquid
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 3/4 teaspoon smoked sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Drain the soaked almonds.  In the bowl of the food processor put everything including 1/4 cup of the pimento packing liquid.  Process well.  Scrape down sides then process some more.  You may need to add more of the liquid to make the texture better.


For my iteration I used Smoked Garlic and Onion Seasoned Salt mixture instead of the smoked sea salt which would have entailed circling back around to the first store I went to which did have some at a very great price.  The store where I was sure to find it did not have any at all.  Oh well.

My notes on this material:  it tastes okay.  It is not great and it DEFINITELY is NOT CHEDDAR.

I have not thrown it out yet but I also have not tried serving it to Dear One.  I think I will try that tomorrow. My hopes are not high...

Monday, June 19, 2017

Munchie Monday: Quick and Easy Peanut Sauce

Recently I found a recipe for peanut sauce.  Today I made it.

Quick and Easy Peanut Sauce, PACC version

1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 Tablespoon rice vinegar--plain or seasoned

Put all the ingredients into a small blender and blend until smooth.  This is fabulous for dipping all kinds of vegetables in:  red bell pepper strips,  celery sticks,  steamed broccoli, probably anything you want.



Monday, June 5, 2017

Munchie Monday: Sweet Potato and White Bean Burger

Over the weekend I saw a recipe for Sweet Potato and White Bean Burgers and thought I would see if I could improve it...without trying it first.  I am always trying to make a good veggie burger; good meaning: tastes good, has good texture,  mostly fat-free, and holds together.

Well, this one was about three-quarters good.  It did not hold together.  Dear One said it was okay.  High praise, indeed.  

This is the way I made these burgers.  For some reason I did not save the original recipe.  That recipe had corn in it, some more spices, and they were fried, something we are trying to avoid.  I am sure they was taste even better fried in a cast-iron skillet with your favorite cooking oil.

Sweet Potato and White Bean Burgers

Makes 12 burgers

2 medium sweet potato, roasted and peeled
2 15-ounce can of white beans, drained and rinsed
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoon granulated  garlic 
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2/3 cup nutritional yeast
1  cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
Salt
Black pepper

Place sweet potatoes and beans in a large bowl.  Mash with a potato masher until well mashed but not totally mush.  Add onion, parsley, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and seasonings.  Mix very well then add in the bread crumbs to make a good consistency.
Using a 1/2 cup portion scoop, dip out the mixture and place on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet then flatten to about 3-3 1/2 inches across.  Bake 30-40 minutes.  Let cool a bit  then remove from pan.  Eat plain or in a bun with all the fixings.  These are really good.  In my opinion.  Some people in the family used Frank's Red Hot sauce on his.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Food Friday: Egg Salad on Vacation

When you use your Instant Pot to hard boil a dozen or more eggs the day before vacation, what do you do?  Why, you take the eggs with you in the ice chest.  Then what do you do?

At the beginning of the week we had a few eggs chopped into green salad.  After that we ate out a couple of lunches so the eggs were aging in the refrigerator so something had to be done.

This morning I peeled the eggs, rinsed off the egg shells, then chopped the eggs on the cutting board I had purchased at Goodwill thrift store (which was conveniently close right across the street from our resort!!) and tossed them into a bowl.  I mashed them up somewhat with a fork. We had some celery and some small onions so I chopped both celery and onion and tossed into the bowl.  Next I squirted in a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise,  at least the same amount of mustard, and a good 2-3 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish.

After stirring everything together I tasted it.  Too bland, SO  I added in some Garden Harvest Seasoning.  Quite a bit, actually.  After blending well I scooped some onto a nice crispy red leaf lettuce leaf, folded it over, and ate it.

That was a mistake...to eat it right then.  The harvest seasoning actually needs to soften up in the egg salad overnight.  If not, you feel the "grit" in your teeth.  That really puts you off the egg salad. 

However...the next morning things were different.  There was no grit.  Sadly, we still needed tiny bit of salt to make this fun to eat.

Tomorrow I plant to scoop some into a luscious tomato for lunch. Or maybe breakfast...

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Vacation Report: Yellow Lady Slippers in The Wild Gardens of Acadia

The weather was glorious so we went to The Wild Gardens of Acadia.  There is a fabulous set of gardens with all kinds of plants from all the various types of habitats on Mount Desert Island from meadow to mountain to beach land, and more.  We were there at the end of May so there were few plants in bloom, but those plants were really stunning.

The plants with the most impressive blooms were the yellow lady slippers.





They really were great, except for the creepy part that looks like arachnid legs...!

When we were children our father put an iron pipe into a spring beside Jigger Hill which always ran with water.  In that woodsy section of Jigger Hill in the early spring weather we could almost always find Jack-in-a-Pulpits and a bit later some purple, pink, and white delicate tiny lady slippers.  We never picked them, just loved looking at them as we walked by up the hill from school.

That was probably one of the first times I realized I love flowers.  Daffodils and lilacs are my favorite spring and early summer flowers.  I also like carnations.  Well, I like pretty much all flowers, but daffys and lilacs take the cake for me.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Vacation Fun: Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary

We do not often do the expensive tourist-y things on our vacations.  So far this vacation we have done more low level things...except for going up Cadillac Mountain.

Today we visited the Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary on a wet cloudy day.  There is a boardwalk for people with walking issues.  There are many trails to hike.  At this time of year there are mosquitoes the size of a large crow.  Because of that, I abbreviated my "walk" and dove back into the car to avoid more  of the flying monsters.  Only about two of them entered the car's cabin with me...

In one of the habitats we passed we found this owl.  I thought he (or she) was very beautiful.


There is an owl called the "brown owl".  I think this might be one of those but I could not stay out and breathe in more mosquitoes long enough to find the documentation about this owl.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Vacation Report: Eagle Lake, Mount Desert Island, Maine

While in Maine for a short vacation, we went to Eagle Lake where Dear One biked around the lake on a carriage road.  It is a 6.1 mile trip.  He enjoyed it.  I sat in the car knitting a new pattern with some Gina yarn that we purchased at Shirley's Yarns and Crafts Shop in Hancock, Maine.






Eagle Lake is so lovely.  It was a bracing 60 degrees with a nice little breeze.  I asked Dear One to park in the shade.  I was very comfy in the car without my Bartlettyarns sweater...

Monday, May 29, 2017

Munchie Monday: Quick and Easy Overnight Steel Cut Oats with Blueberries

At the Weight and Wellness Center the dietitian mentioned overnight steel cut oats. I decided to try it.  I think I already posted about it but could not find it so here we go again.

We are in Maine for the week.  We have a full kitchen in the unit so we brought a few supplies for cooking.

Quick and Easy Overnight Steel Cut Oats with Blueberries

In a quart glass canning jar (I like glass containers whenever possible)  place 2/3 cups steel cut oats.  Add 3 Tablespoons chia seeds.  Stir well.  Add 1 1/2 cups coconut almond milk and put on the cover.  Shake well. 

Remove cover and add 1-1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries.  Cover again and shake very well.  Store in refrigerator overnight.

In the morning enjoy a big dish of very healthy no-sugar-added-no-added-fat cereal.  It taste surprisingly yummy.

This should be 2-3 servings, depending on your appetite.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Knitting Today: Baby Jane Booties and Hat

A friend is having a baby girl very shortly.  I started a top/sweater for her but found the yarn not to my liking when I was well on the way.  So I pulled it out to re-purpose.

This is what I actually made:  Baby Janes and an easy newborn baby hat with some lovely soft variegated yarn.

The hat pattern is here  which I found at Ravelry:

Small Preemie to Full Term Hat/Michelle's baby hat
(with fold up cuff)

Materials: Baby sport weight yarn
Size 5 double pointed needles (You could do this on regular needles also but then the even rows will be purled.)
Sizes: S, M, L, FT (9", 10 ¼", 11 ½", 13")
Gauge: 5 ½ st = 1"
Cast on 50, 56, 64, 70 stitches. Rib 2, (2 ½, 2 ½, 3) inches.
Continue in stockinette stitch for 1 ½, (2, 2 ½, 3) inches.
Begin decreases.
Row 1: Knit 2 tog, K 3, (5, 6, 5). Continue across.
Row 2: Knit.
Row 3: Knit 2 tog, K 2, (4, 5, 4). Continue across.
Row 4: Knit.
Continue to decrease in same manner until K2 tog around row- continue to K2 around until 5 or 6 st left. Cut yarn with tail. Run through stitches left. Tie off and weave in ends.

http://www.bevscountrycottage.com/michelle-booties.html





The Baby Janes are here,  a Red Heart yarn pattern.

For decently formatted pattern, please go to the website above.

Baby Jane Booties
Designed by Linda Cyr.
Baby size 6 – 12 months. Finished length: 31⁄2”.
Red Heart® With LoveTM: 1 skein 1805 Bluebell. 
Knitting Needles” 4mm [US 6]
Double Pointed Knitting Needles: 4mm [US 6]. 
Yarn needle, 23/8” diameter buttons.
GAUGE: 20 sts = 4”; 38 rows = 4” in Garter st. CHECK YOUR GAUGE. Use any size needle to obtain the gauge.
Special Abbreviations

Ssk = Slip next 2 sts knitwise, one at a time to right needle; insert point of left needle into the fronts of these 2 sts and knit them together from this position.
M1 (make one stitch) = Lift running thread before next stitch onto left needle and knit into the back loop.
BOOTIES

Right
 
With knitting needles, cast on 28 sts.

Rows 1, 3, 5 (wrong side): Knit.

Row 2: [K1, m1, k12, m1, k1] 2 times–32 sts.

Row 4: * K2, m1, k12, m1, k2 * m1, repeat from * to * once more–37 sts.

Row 6: K3, m1, k12, m1, k2, m1, k3, m1, k2, m1, k12, m1, k3–43 sts.

Rows 7 - 14: Knit.

Row 15: K13, [ssk] 4 times, k1, [k2tog] 4 times, k13.

Row 16: Knit.
Row 17: K8, bind off 19, k8.
Strap
Slip each set of 8 sts onto a double pointed needles. Cut yarn. Rotate the needles so that the heel edges of the bootie meet. With right side facing, attach yarn to foot edge and work across the sts as follows:
Row 1: K7, k2tog (1 st from each needle to join heel), k7, cast on 13 sts for strap– 28 sts.

Row 2: Knit.
Row 3: K25, yo, ssk, k1.
Row 4: Knit. Bind off.
Left
Cast on and work same as for Right Bootie to Strap.
Strap
Rotate the needles so that the back edges of the bootie meet. With wrong side facing, attach yarn and complete same as for Right Bootie.
FINISHING
Sew bottom and heel seams. Weave in yarn ends. Sew button opposite buttonhole on strap.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Michaels Free Class: Sunflower with Colored Pencils on Wood

Last week we had a free Michaels class using wood and colored pencils.  R and K arrived at the class at just the right time.  It was wonderful to have people come to the class.  Particularly it was nice that R and K came to class.  They are lovely people.  Our evening together was just great.

Here is R's sunflower:




She chose this wooden frame that appears to be made of balsa.  It was a fine surface for the pencil work.  If you could see the picture close up, you would be really really impressed.  She is a wonderful artist.

K drew and colored a "hobbit door".  It, too, was wonderful. So intricate and perfectly drawn so you felt you could just lift the latch and go on in to meet whatever hobbit was at home.  I am so sorry I did not take a picture of it to share.

This was the wooden plaque with pencil coloring on it.
R suggested laying down more color to improve it.

I think she was right about the extra color.  In fact, when reading over the instructions for the class again,  they did mention layering many layers of color.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Munchie Monday: Breakfast Burger, Surprisingly Good!

We have been cleaning out a lot of things from our home to make the house more live-able for two families for the next few months.  This morning Dear One cleared off the table that has been used as the "desk" for bills and other claptrap.  He kept bringing piles to me to look at/dispose of.  Nice.  Anyway, one was a recipe.  Which I made for breakfast.  Never mind that breakfast was at 11:30 AM.

The sheet of paper called the recipe  Bakin and Egg Breakfast Burger.  The person who posted this recipe somewhere online where I found it, had not remembered the URL.  No problem. I didn't include her URL either!  So I just went online to see if that recipe was available, and it was!

The recipe was at EverydayDish.tv.  I was thrilled to find it so I could attribute it to the creator of this burger.

Bakin and Egg Breakfast Burger  (the way I made it...)

1 16-ounce block extra firm tofu
1 Tablespoon granulated garlic
1 Tablespoon granulated onion
1 Tablespoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 cup fake bacon bits
1/2 cup flour
A little oil for the skillet

Remove the tofu from the container and drain the water.  Double-wrap the tofu block in a kitchen towel and place a weight on top of it to help extra water drain out.  I used a cast iron skillet but a plate with a heavy can of food would have worked.  Stay near by in case the weight falls off the tofu package! 

After the tofu has pressed for 10 or 15 minutes (or when you finish the other things you are doing,  remove the kitchen towel wrapping and place in a large bowl.  With your very clean hands (and fingernails!)  crumble up the tofu.  Add all the seasonings except the flour.  Stir with a wooden spoon to mix.  When they are well-combined,  add the flour and mix with your hands.  The mixture should cloy together into a ball. If it does not, add more flour a tablespoon at a time.

Form into 6 patties then sauté 3-5 minutes in a hot skillet with 1-2 Tablespoons of heated oil. 

Serve on toast with catsup.  Or anything else you like.  Next time I will serve on a large Romaine lettuce leaf. 

When asked how the burgers went down,  Dear One said, "Hmmm.  They did not fall apart."  High praise indeed!

These were surprisingly good.  Maybe a bit more spice.



Friday, May 19, 2017

Food Friday: Spiralized Oven Potato Fries!

Recently I loaned our Westmark Spiralizer to Debbie.  She used it for zucchini noodles with spaghetti sauce PLUS she spiralized potatoes, added a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder,  baked them in the oven and pronounced them delicious.  So I did the same thing.

Taking one large and one medium potato, I spiralized them onto a cookie pan then added almost 1 Tablespoon olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and granulated garlic.  Baked them at 450 degrees F. for 10 minutes.  Removed from oven and flipped the "poodles" over then baked another 10 minutes.

Dear One loved them.  He did say they could have been more crisp so I baked them an extra 10 minutes.  They were lovely.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Knitting: Primitive Lizard for Grandchild


The other day we were all sitting on the front porch enjoying the lovely spring sunshine.  Young B brought me a skein of very fat colorful yarn and said,  “Grammie, can you make me a lizard?”  Then he began describing how the lizard should look.  It sounded a bit complicated to me but I thought I could possibly make a simple lizard.

So, I set to work.  I believe I cast on about 10 stitches using US size 7 needles with this super bulky yarn.  After knitting about five inches for the body I did some increases to make a head, then made decreases almost immediately.

The interesting thing about the lizard is that B then wanted to actually do the knitting himself.  He did get a few stitches on the needle, which was impressive since he is just five years old.  Then the rest of the children had something going on out on the lawn and B asked me to take over…which is when I did the five inch rectangle with increases and decreases.

The next day he asked me again about his lizard.  Another day passed without the lizard showing up after yet another query.  Sometimes this Grammie gets into too many things and has to stop one job to go to another.


Yesterday I picked up the flat lizard, made some I-cord legs then used the “magic knot” to add more yarn onto the yarn tail to make the lizard tale.  After binding that off I stitched down the belly and set the lizard up near the trail mix bowl.  Often when B returns from school he goes directly to the trail mix bowl to dip in for a moment.  I knew he would see the lizard there.

Grandpa and I were upstairs working on another sorting project when B came upstairs to show us what he had brought home from school:  a pot with several tiny green plants growing in it and a lovely water-colored Mother’s Day card.  Grandpa asked what he had in his other hand.



He brought out the lizard from behind his back with a big smile on his face and said, “Thank you for my lizard, Grammie!”  That made me happy.  Then he pointed to the protrusion near one end and asked, “Is that his chin, Grammie?”  Yep.  Chin.  The orange eyes were not so easily seen.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Munchie Monday: Spring Treat--Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

One of the earliest garden sights is the rhubarb pushing up through the mulch.  This year grandchildren asked what those leaves were.  When I told them their immediate reaction was "strawberry rhubarb pie is so delicious"!  Okay.  Well, Grammie's pie crust is not that great but you cannot go wrong with rhubarb crisp.

Yesterday I found some good-looking strawberries on sale (1 pound for $1.49), so I bought a box.  Today I put off a much-wanted trip for a while to go out and pick seven stems of rhubarb then made the crisp which is now cooking for the family to eat tonight while I am at another class...fiber work-making a small woven wall-hanging.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Peel then wash 7 stems of rhubarb.  Cut down through the stems from end to end once.  Slice in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices to measure 4 cups sliced rhubarb.

Wash 1 pound ripe strawberries.  Remove hulls then quarter the berries and measure 3 cups strawberry slices.  Place in a large bowl.



Add 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour to the bowl of fruit and toss well.  Place in a 9 by 13 glass baking dish.

In the same large bowl where you had the fruit (no need to wash between processes) place 1 cup whole wheat flour,  1 1/2 cups rolled oats, 1 cup brown sugar,  1 teaspoons cinnamon, and 1/2 cup softened butter.  (Always use butter, NEVER use margarine.  Just don't use butter very often.  A treat occasionally is just fine for your health.  Otherwise, bad news bears for the body. )  Mix well with your fingers then spread evenly on top of the fruit.

Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Serve with whipped cream on top if you like.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Food Friday: More Kale Salad

Earlier I think I shared a kale salad recipe.  Probably more than once, but here is another iteration.  I really do love kale salad. I also feel so virtuous when I eat it.  AND the scales thank me.

One bunch lacinato/tuscan/dinosaur kale
One large head fresh broccoli
One bunch celery
One/half large sweet onion, sliced thin
Pitted Greek olives, cut in half
Hummus
Tajin Classico

Wash the kale.  Dry it.  Strip the leaves off the stems.  Chop them into bite-sized pieces and put into a LARGE bowl

Wash the broccoli.  Shake off the water.  Cut the florets off the stem and chop into your favorite bite-sized pieces and toss onto the kale in the bowl.

Remove the ribs from the celery bunch.  Wash well then cut off any stem pieces that offend you.  Slice fine and add to the bowl.

Remove the outer paper from the sweet onion.    Cut the onion in have from pole to pole, then lay it flat side down on your cutting surface and thinly slice.  Cut the slices in half or thirds and toss on top of your other vegetables.

Toss the vegetables until they are well interspersed with one another.  Take out a large handful and place in an individual serving bowl.  The remaining salad should be tightly covered and put into the refrigerator for the next meal.  I eat this 2-3 times a day.

On the top of the individual serving of salad toss in a few cut Greek olives, a couple of Tablespoons of your favorite hummus and a sprinkle of Tajin Classico.  Stir well and enjoy.

Sometimes I add a little steamed flaked fish.  Sometimes some chopped tomato or carrots or cabbage.

Yummy.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fiber Work: Handles and Zippers Installed on Felted Bag

Years ago I was very interested in felting projects.  I just loved knitting things and then felting them.  They are and were so useful.  Not all my projects were finished.  Some were never even started.  (A dear friend who had lived in China noticed one of my felted bags and commented that some people in China wore felted vests or jackets. I always wanted to make him one.  It never happened.)

Here is a bag that, I think, started out with a knitted oval.  Stitches were then picked up and knitted up, increasing along the way.  At the top a couple of inches of the red stocking stitch were knitted then folded over.  A sort of three-needle bind-off happened, though I picked up stitches to bind off at the bottom of the red band of stitches.  This is my memory of how it happened. If I make another one sometime...probably lots smaller...I will report on it.




This morning I found a long-enough heavy zipper and installed it along with some rather garish too-long handles...but I can use this with the handles across body like a messenger bag with those long handles.

Another project:  DONE!!!

That is what is making me happy these days:  finishing projects.  How many more are there?  Don't know but as I find them, I will see what I can do to move them along towards finished...

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Michaels Free Class: Quick Easy Stretchy Beaded Bracelet

Michaels' free classes are pretty interesting Tonight was a quick make-a-bracelet class.  We used two different kinds of glass beads...round and faceted.  Other supplies were 12 mm split rings,  Stretch Magic .7 mm cording, and various charms, though I only used one kind as the "mixed stars" called for were not visible to me anywhere in the store!

To make the bracelet you make a lark's head knot over the split ring with the stretch cord doubled.  It was very tricky to keep the stretch cording ON the split ring.  One thing I learned while checking out YouTube about Stretch Magic and Stretch Bracelets is that you are supposed to stretch the elastic BEFORE you do anything else.  Apparently some brands of stretch elastic forget where they are supposed to be and do not snap back to their original length.




After tying on the lark's head knot, you string on your beads.  You do not need a beading needle to do this, just thread the two strands of the elastic through the beads.  When you like your design (you should measure around your wrist before cutting your elastic so you have a sort of estimate of length...remember: doubled!...and add an extra 1.5 to 2.0 inches for tying off at the end.) you can then use a "surgeon's knot", well, two surgeon's knots to tie off the other end of the beads to the split ring.  If you do it right, you can give a little tug on the elastic and pull the knot into the beads to hide it.  I cannot tell you what that way is because it was a fluke that my effort worked.

At this point you can use jump rings on whatever bangles you want to add. I only added the one but they look pretty cute with multiple bangles.  The jump rings give them a little  room to "jingle jingle jangle"

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Michaels Class: Paper Flower in a Pot for Mother's Day

We had a class on making a flower for Mom at Michaels.  It was another easy craft.

Needed items:  flower-colored card stock paper (I used Recollections Brights colorway), 2-inch clay flower pot, acrylic craft paint, hot glue gun and glue sticks, pencils with eraser ends, scissors.

The first thing you do is cut a strip of the paper 2 inches wide and start wrapping and overlapping it around a pencil to make a tube.  At the end of the tube insert a little hot glue on the inside of the flap and hold it down until it dries.  BE CAREFUL.  It really is hot, thus the "hot glue" in the title.  Remove the tube from the pencil and let dry completely.  You are going to glue the petals around this tube.  My tube was around 5 inches long.  For this size plant pot, you don't want it much longer, and maybe want it an inch or more shorter.  Give it a try. If you make one, let me know what worked best for you.

Cut out 3 long-ish, thin petals and fold them in half.  Using the hot glue on one end of each petal, insert them alternately into one end of the tube.

First try at making this flower.  I may try again to make it more full.  You can barely see the decorated pot rim.


Cut out 16-20 larger flower petals  Run the petals  through your thumb and index finger or around a pencil to make them curve.  With hot glue on the non-curved end of each petal, attach them, staggered, around the tube.  You will do a better job than I did.  The more petals, the fuller the blossom will be.

Final step is to cut 3 leaves from green paper.  These are similar to the large flower petals, but cut them a bit larger and have one end be blunt...maybe half an inch wide.  Curl these three leaves as well and glue to the bottom of the flower "stem".

Put some acrylic craft paint into a small palette or on a plate.  Using the eraser end of your pencil dab a little paint onto the eraser then daub it onto the rim of the plant pot in whatever pattern you like. I chose three colors and put them on in order around the rim, one color at a time, leaving room for the other two colors.  It would probably be smart to let the paint dry between colors....

Friday, May 5, 2017

Food Friday: Quick Easy Refreshing Low Cal Beverage

Years ago I was visiting my sister.  She made me a very refreshing beverage.  It was quick.  It was easy.  It tasted delicious.  If you are used to heavy duty fruit drinks it might take a little getting used to, but it is a guilt-free drink.

Fill a glass three-quarters full (or up to 1 inch down from the rim) of good clean water.  Using your favorite 100% fruit juice, fill the glass the rest of the way to the top.  Well, not the TOP but you know what I mean.

Water and grape juice


Drink it down.  Light.  Sweet. Refreshing.

My favorite is purple grape juice but orange juice is good, too.  I don't like apple juice this way.  At least not yet.  I don't drink this all the time.  I mostly just drink water.  No need to pick up a lot of calories in beverages, but once in a while in the summer, this is delicious.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Michaels Class--Floral Shadow Box

Another not so great photo, but you get the idea. (The background is actually just the book paper you see...)
Tonight's class at Michaels was making a floral shadow box.  It was easy.  It was pretty quick.  It was definitely fun.  It was also something I had never done before...so even a rank novice can do it.

Supplies needed were a 6 by 6 shadow box frame, some scrapbook paper for a background, some floral foam, some bright green moss, some small flower stems, and a wooden sentiment.

Scissors, hot glue, clear liquid glue, and a foam knife.

One thing I discovered is that hot glue does not hold on glass.  Something I did not know at all. I thought hot glue was the cat's meow, but no.  I used some clear strong craft glue.

Since this is a Michaels class I cannot give you the step by step directions, but it is pretty obvious.  I will say that after removing the back from the shadow box and covering it with the same size scrapbook paper, in this case it was book paper, it is an easy matter to cut the floral foam to fit then place the various parts along the glass and top of the floral foam.  The hot glue works really well to glue the moss to cover the floral foam.

Using hot glue to attach the inspirational sentiment to the glass at the front of the box seemed to work, but when the glue dried the sentiment fell off.  Out with the liquid craft glue!!  That worked really well. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Papercrafting: Easy Mini Treats Box, Step By Step

The easy mini treat box, step by step.

Start with a 6 inch by 6 inch piece of double-sided card stock, a We R Memory Keepers envelope punch board, scissors, adhesive, a small circle, oval, or diamond paper punch, and ribbon.

1.  Place the card stock in the envelope punch board with the edge at 1 3/8 inch mark where the arrow is pointing.  Punch and score.  I used the scoring tool twice on each score line.
2.  Slide the edge of the paper to the 4 inch mark.  Punch and score.
3.  Rotate the paper 90 degrees and line up with the first scored line, which is barely visible in this picture but is where the arrow points.  You never use the measurement numbers again, just the previously scored lines.
4.  Slide the paper down to the next scored line.  Punch and score. You still can barely see score line, but it is there.

5.  Continue rotating 90 degrees, punching and scoring on the first line, sliding the paper over and punching and scoring until all four sides have been punched and scored.
6.  You will notice that there are two "thinner" corners and two "thicker" corners.  Insert both of the thicker corners into the corner-rounding cutter in the envelope punch board and punch.
7.  This is what the nicely rounded corners look like.  If you choose to round all four corners, go for it. I did not want to with my boxes.
8.  Cut along the scored lines on the thicker sides of the paper.  These will be the outside supports to the box.

9.  Fold on all the scored lines.
10.  Punch a hole for the ribbon in the ends of the thicker two corners.  If you have a really heavy-duty paper punch you can line the two corners up and punch at the same time.  My little diamond punch was a $3.99 special, so I could only punch one at a time.  It is a little tricky to get them to match, but...there will be ribbon so, maybe it will be okay!
11. This picture is to show that you need to punch both sides of the thicker corners.  They will slide together just fine.
12.  Fold back the thinner corner/fold it to the outside so the inside of the box sort of decorates the outside. 
13.  Using an adhesive tape runner, apply adhesive then hold until the glue is set.
14.  Fold up the box. Apply adhesive to the outside of the striped "flap" and the inside of the dotted "flap".  At that point press them together.  You do NOT want the adhesive on the part of the box that has the punched diamond in it. 
15. Hold the flaps together until the adhesive is adhering then insert a piece of ribbon...or in this case, yarn which is all I had in the hotel room...and tie a nice bow.  Insert 2 or 3 Lindt Chocolate truffles or other treat of your choice.  The recipient with love it.  At least, I think so.




Note to Self:  when compressing photographs for the web,  make sure the score lines, and other details show....Sorry these are not more apparent.






Monday, May 1, 2017

Munchie Monday: Instant Pot Hard Boiled Eggs!

Several times I have tried recipes/instructions on the internet for various food items.  Hard boiled eggs is one of those food items.  The last time I tried a "quick and easy hard boiled egg method, easy to peel" was a massive failure.

The instructions had you put the eggs in the microwave for a certain amount of time.  In this case, it was 5 minutes. I don't remember the other directions, but I followed them exactly.  Except that I set the timer to 3 minutes instead of 5 minutes.  At 2 minutes 55 seconds there was a loud "pop" and a crash.  The eggs had blown up.  So had the microwave.  Dear One was not AT ALL impressed with my egg-making abilities.  Buying a new appliance was not what he had budgeted at that time...

Well, fast forward six or seven years to the present day.  Today I decided to try "perfect hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot."

The directions for these eggs say to put one cup of water in the liner bowl.  Put the raw eggs (still in the shell) in a basket inside the liner bowl.  If you don't have a basket,  use the little trivet that comes with the Instant Pot.  I put one dozen eggs in the bottom of our basket then put on the lid.

The next instruction says to press the Manual button (this gives you high pressure) and change the timer to 5 minutes.  I did this.  When the timer goes off you are supposed to let the Pot cool down naturally then put the eggs in cool water, peel them, and enjoy them.



This worked really well....EXCEPT that I was doing something else....moving stuff from one floor of the house to the other floor of the house...and did not notice the timer until the Pot had been cooling down for 25 minutes!  Oh well. 

At one point when I was still near the Pot I had heard a popping sound.  I figured right then that this was going to be another "fail", but that was not the case.  When I pulled the basket out there was one broken egg shell.  I filled the pot with cold water.  Two eggs floated to the top...never a good sign, so I pulled them out for the compost pile.   By cracking the large ends of the shells, I peeled them quickly and cleanly.  That was really nice.  The only fail here is that there is the green/blue ring around the yolk and the whites are listing towards orange. This is entirely due to the length of time I was away from the pot.  I am convinced that if I had only let the pot cool down for 10 minutes all would have been perfect.

To try these eggs out, I mushed up an egg and poured on a little bit of leftover Orchid's Cool Tangy Noodle sauce.  Pretty good.

Slightly beige eggs, but still very edible.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Food Friday: Vegetable Salad

The grocery trip while on vacation did not net the complete list of food items.  What we did find was:

Bag of vegetable salad (lettuce, radishes, carrots, garden peas, bell peppers)
Red bell pepper bagged individually
Broccoli crown
Bag of dried pinto beans

How I made this into food for several meals:

Opened the bag of pinto beans.  Sorted them into the insert basket (not the stainless steel liner bowl) for the Instant Pot.  Yes, I did bring the Instant Pot on vacation.  Rinsed the beans very well in the sink then placed the basket into the stainless steel liner bowl and covered the beans with 2-3 inches of water over the top.  Set this back into the Instant Pot and selected High Pressure and Adjusted the time to 45 minutes, put the cover on, and forgot about it.  I REALLY forgot about it.  When I paid attention again the beans have been on the warming cycle for more than two hours.  There is no question but what they were very well cooked, though remarkably, not mushy!  That was thrilling.

Using a leftover foil salad container from a previous salad my sister had brought with some pizza the other night, I placed 1/3 of the vegetable salad--I think it was by Dole--quite a lot of broccoli florets, 1/3 of the red bell pepper, diced, the last tomato chopped up,  half a cup of the cooked pinto beans, a little of the Spicy Peanut Sauce and a few shakes of Tajin Classico.  I did the best I could to toss it, but it was a pretty full container.  Another trip out at a Dollar Tree I found a large salad bowl with cover.  I realized when we got back to the unit that I should have gotten a container for the beans since I may not finish them before we are ready to go home...

Anyway, it was a delicious salad and made a wonderful breakfast.  I can make two more like it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Papercrafting: Mini Treat Boxes for Spring

One of my favorite things is a good box. (Also a good bag, especially with a zipper top and zippered pockets!!!)  It is especially good if I can make the box myself.  One place I find lots of tutorials for boxes, bags, cards, and many other paper-y things is Split Coast Stampers.  I highly recommend them!

Last fall they had a nifty little treat box tutorial that uses 6 by 6 double-sided card stock, a We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board, adhesive, a circle or oval punch, some ribbon, and a pair of sharp paper scissors.  I had all those things so I made a pink striped one.  I made it two different ways.  I showed both of them to Dear One who chose this one as his preferred treat box.

Here is a picture of all the materials except scissors, circle punch, and ribbon.  I brought everything with me on vacation except the circle punch and the ribbon.  Even though I visited Michaels and A C Moore yesterday I resisted the urge to purchase either of those items even though I had many little boxes ready to cut and put together.  Tonight when we get back from our foray out to visit local attractions, I will finish the corner rounding, then fold, cut, and adhere more of them together. 

Mini Treat Boxes:  supplies and stages of construction from plain squares to completed pink striped box.


Vacation is such a great time to do things without distractions!  I always bring reading and knitting and often other "quiet projects", though this time I did NOT bring my sewing machine and quilt project.  The last time I did that I did not get square one pieced together and there was a fair amount of flack about filling up the car with "my stuff"!  Since we got home from that vacation, I seem to have misplaced that quilt, too.  That really bites!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Knitting: Easy Large Panda Bear

Grandson number two asked for a panda bear a month or two ago.  I found a smallish crocheted panda and started it.  The head was not even half done when I had to put down the crochet hook due to unpleasantness in the right hand.

Next I searched for a knitted panda bear.  Finally I found one on the Rowan website called Panda and Big Bear by Jem Weston.  Very cute.  I did not have access to the furry yarn but did happen onto nearly a full skein of black worsted weight yarn already in the stash.  I already had several balls of creamy white worsted weight yarn wound and US size 7 needles are always to hand.

This project was pretty easy.  The only real glitch was that I mis-read part of the pattern or something as there are a couple of stray stitches in one eye patch.  Looking at the picture on the pattern as I write this, I see that I did not mis-read, the issue is that I was not using the furry yarn!  Oh, well. It is still a panda.  Still kind of cute.

On vacation I finished the ears, legs, and eyes, then drove all over the sap works looking for animal eyes, and finally found them at A.C. Moore!  After installing the eyes, using a piece of felt behind the eyes to make them more stable, I was ready to finish stuffing the panda.  Finally I finished the seam at the top of the head.

This is Mister Panda:

Big Panda Bear...about 18 inches tall
I hope he will be acceptable...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Munchie Monday: Vacation Food--The Perfect Simple Salad

On vacation it can be difficult to eat the way you normally do.  Especially when there are different views as to what makes good vacation food.  In my case, I eat salad every day.  At every meal, if possible.  It is a little harder on vacation depending on the accommodation's facilities.  It turns out this time that rather than the mini-refrigerator/coffee pot we were told to expect in our unit, we have a mini-refrigerator, coffee pot for herb tea, a microwave, some base cabinets and a sink in a nice counter. Things are looking up!  I had brought our Instant Pot, because I assumed somewhere in the room there would a surface with an electrical outlet so we could at least heat up soup or something.

So, today I am hoping to go to a grocery store to find:
Lacinato (i.e. dinosaur) kale
Broccoli
Sweet onion
Canned red beans
Something for Dear One to eat, either in the Instant Pot or the microwave if he wants hot food.

Another thing I am thinking is to get:
Canned chick peas
Garlic Paste
Ripe avocado
Tahini
Lemon or lime juice
Roasted red peppers
A large bowl at Dollar Tree or some such place

The idea for this last list is to  see if I can make some Avocado Roasted Pepper Hummus.  Maybe.

If anyone has had any luck with different "vacation foods" in a unit without full cooking equipment, I would love to know what you made and how it turned out.  Oh, and if the family liked it, too!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Food Friday: Quick, Easy Beans and Chicken

The last two days we have been traveling.  I have not wanted to buy fast food, so I made my own.  We stopped at a store near our lodging last night and purchased a can of Goya Red Beans and a package of Perdue Chicken Shorts.  This morning for breakfast I drained the beans, chopped up the chicken and put it on some Subway Layered Salad.  It was quick.  It was easy.  It was delicious.  AND there was no fat involved as my health demands significantly less fat than I have been eating.  PLUS there is plenty left over for another two or three meals.  Bonus!

You might want to try this.  I am thinking it would be good with some Spicy Peanut sauce as a dressing....

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Handwork: Entrelac Scarf Start

Entrelac has been one of my favorite knitting styles, both the Garterlac and the regular in stockinette stitch.  I found a pattern on Ravelry which I love.   I REALLY love that scarf.  I don't love the cost of that gorgeous yarn. I saw some Caron Cakes yarn in a colorway I liked and thought it would work.

This is what I got:






DID NOT WORK. The entrelac is nice  BUT if one is going to go to all the work to keep track of where you are in the pattern it really needs to have spectacular results.  This was not it.  That is why I tore out the shawl and turned it into that triangular shoulder scarf I made a couple of weeks ago.

Now I will have to save up so I can buy the correct yarn to make this pattern and do it justice. If someone has a suggestion on some shorter color repeats, similar to Noro Silk Garden, I would love to hear from you!  Thanks.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Crafting with Pom Poms: Cute Tiny Bunnies

Here are some very cute little pom pom bunnies using two sizes of pom poms, some felt, some wiggly eyes, and a hot glue gun.  No need for directions, I think.  The one thing I did do was to leave the strings on the pom poms then used them to tie the two balls securely together before using the hot glue for the ears and the eyes.  Professional hot glue artists will be horrified at the workmanship on these little guys.  Oh, well.

A batch of bunnies made holding two colors of yarn together.

Closer up of bunnies.  Notice the wonky eyes...or maybe they are just looking for the light...


Monday, April 17, 2017

Munchie Monday: Quick and Easy Birds Nest Treats!

Whenever we have a holiday celebration I try to make some sort of treat the children will enjoy.  This time I found a recipe on Six Sisters Stuff.   
 
These are called Butterscotch Bird Nest Treats.

Of course, my version does not look impressive.  It is not well-photographed, either, but I expect the children will love them.  Oh, and I did not fill the nests with Cadbury Mini Eggs, which I should have, but I did not have any on hand and I have sworn off driving for a little while.

This is what mine looked like:



This is how to make them:

In a large glass bowl (I used a large crock pot insert), place 12 ounces of butterscotch chips and 12 ounces of white chocolate chips.  Put in microwave for 2 minutes.  Remove from microwave and stir well. If the chips are not all melted, return to microwave for another 30 seconds.  Stir again.  Add one 12-ounce bag of chow mein noodles and stir very well  Don't worry about the sound of the noodles breaking up.  This is supposed to look like a bird nest.  The bird nests I have seen are all riffy raffy looking so broken noodles are just fine.

For shaping the bird nests, I put a scoop of the mixture into cupcake papers set in a muffin tin.  With a spoon, and then with my finger, I tried to make a little indentation in the middle of the bird nest for the "eggs".   Mine don't look like bird nests but I did not want to get all that sweet on my fingers and then lick it off. I am off sweets for a while, too.  Forever, if I am smart...


Friday, April 14, 2017

Food Friday: Best Quick Fruit Salad Ever!

Recently I stayed with a friend.  She made a wonderful fruit salad.  This is what she used:

red seedless grapes
red raspberries
blueberries
mandarin orange sections





Quick.  Easy. Delicious!  So refreshing.  The bowl I made disappeared like a flash!  It is nice to make popular food once in a while.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Handwork: Knitted Daffodil

When I wanted to knit some flowers over the winter to make spring look like it was going to come, I picked up some lovely daffodil yellow bulky yarn.  This is the daffodil that I came up with:






Here is where I found the pattern.  You will notice that Wendy's version is much MUCH better.  Well, maybe I will try again with worsted weight yarn.