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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Knitting: Loom Knit Scarf

A little friend is using a knitting loom, the scarf one.  I wanted to try it myself.  I found the loom at Joann Fabrics and Crafts one my way to the Family History Center recently.  To my shame, I never did one bit of family history that night.  Of course, I did not have any patrons, either.

This is the beginning of the project:

It took a couple of tries to get it right.  I used two strands of worsted weight yarn held together and using the "figure eight" cast on.  This makes a very nice thick scarf.  Also uses a good bit of the stashed yarn...!

This scarf is coming along well.  After not a very long time I noticed that the plastic pegs were being pulled toward each other.  I had to loosen up a great deal  when I wrapped the next rounds.  Loosening worked like a charm.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Munchie Monday: Homemade Seitan (fake meat)

Some of the fake meats that vegetarians buy at the grocery store are pretty good. I have tried multiple times to make a homemade version. Until now I have been unsuccessful for one reason or another.  This time I made a homemade seitan in the oven which did work!

What I made is based on Lachesis' Seitan O' Greatness  recipe.  There are many different websites with this recipe.  My variation is below:

Dry ingredients:
3 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup chick pea flour (also called Besan flour or garbanzo flour)
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 Tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon garlic

Wet ingredients:
1 1/2 cups water
1 4-ounce can tomato paste
1 Tablespoon tamari
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce      

Preheat oven to  325 degrees F.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl mix the liquid ingredients whisking until smooth.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix until the ingredients are well combined.  Knead for a minute or two with your hands.

Divide in half and form into logs on foil.  Wrap well and twist the ends of the foil to make a very tight smooth wrap.

The original recipe calls for baking for 90 minutes.  Since I had to leave after 75 minutes, I just shut off the oven and let it finish cooking without opening the oven door.

When cooked,  remove from oven and let cool before storing covered in the refrigerator.

This turned out to be pretty spicy.  Dear One tried about a quarter teaspoon of it and put the rest down.  No problem. I had other ideas.

A couple days later I removed a chunk and grated it on a box grater until I had about 2 cups of gratings.  Since we only had lasagna noodles in the pantry, I smashed them up into small pieces and boiled them for about 10 minutes in heavily salted water.  When the pasta was cooked, I put the seitan into a pot of prepared pasta sauce  and let it heat up.  Pouring it over the pasta I mixed it in well then served it with grated quasi-parmesan cheese (the green can...).

Dear One  ate a reasonable serving.  He did comment that it was pretty spicy and refused a second serving. 

We also had omelet with fake meat inside.  Dear One thought I was pulling a fast one on him but he ate it anyway....

Friday, January 27, 2017

Food Friday: Green-ish Brown-ish Smoothie!

Lately I have heard a lot of talk about the health benefits of "green smoothies".  It seemed like an interesting idea, especially since some years ago a friend was feeding her young children green smoothies for breakfast.  Apparently the children just plain sucked up these smoothies with great pleasure.

This is how I made ours which made two LARGE smoothies.  Next iteration will be half size.  Good nutrition has to include common sense and small portions.

2 cups orange juice
2 large handfuls fresh baby spinach

Blend these in your blender for AT LEAST one minute until the spinach has COMPLETELY turned into juice.

Add 1 cup frozen strawberries and 1 cup frozen banana chunks.  (When bananas become very ripe-which they inevitably do-I chunk them up, put them in a freezer bag, and put into the freezer to be ready for a smoothie.)

Blend until very smooth and serve immediately.

Next time not only will I decrease the size of the smoothie but I will add ground flax seed meal and maybe even some turmeric....The added yellow of the turmeric cannot make the appearance any worse.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Knitting: Fish Scale or Stained Glass Mittens

Another iteration of my mother-in-law's popular is called Fish Scale Mittens.  I found the pattern online.  I was so thrilled with the way these came out.

My view on mittens is that they must be made of pure wool. I frequently choose Paton's Classic Wool since it is lovely and soft. It is also easy to knit up.

This grandson's current favorite color is orange.  The local Joann store did not have orange Paton's Classic Wool so I dyed some natural Classic Wool.  I used a Dylon dye which did not make a very vibrant orange but I thought it was still okay.  Another day I will discuss that process.

These are the mittens I knitted using Paton's Classic Wool in both Harvest color and the hand-dyed light orange.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Papercrafting: Cricut Wild Card Cartridge Envelope and Card

On YouTube I found a number of videos using the Cricut Wild Card cartridge.  This is the card and envelope I made:

This was fun to make and came out fairly well.

The card was made using the same textured paper as the tree's trunk.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Papercrafting: Cute Dinosaur Birthday Card

A young dinosaur enthusiast is part of our family.  This is the card I made for him.

This was made using the Cricut cartridge called Boys Will Be Boys.  I cut the designs at 3.25 inches.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Munchie Monday: Food Portioning Scheme

In an additional attempt to eat healthier, I decided to portion out food and store it for easy retrieval in the refrigerator.

This time is was rice which I measured out in 1/3 cup portions and put them in some lovely little containers I purchased from a deli inside a grocery store in northern Utah last summer.  Such an easy way to eat.  I just need to make a salad, take out one little container, toss its contents on top of the salad and I am good to go.

This is what the containers look like all charged up:

Friday, January 20, 2017

Food Friday: Instant Pot Baked Beans Experiment

Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose when you do food experiments.  I will tell you up front that this was more or less a lose!

Yesterday I saw a YouTube video with a woman making baked beans in her electric pressure cooker.  Since we have an Instant Pot and since Dear One loves baked beans, I thought I would give it a try.   Not the best idea to do it this way but I will tell you what I did, and then tell you what I did to rectify things.

Baked beans.  Instant Pot experiment.

2 1/4 cups white beans
6 cups water
1 teaspoon each granulated onions and granulated garlic
3 Tablespoons dried onions--could use a small to medium onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons canola oil--this keeps the beans from foaming up and annoying the pressure valve
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup catsup
Salt pork
NO SALT ADDED.  There is enough in the salt pork, and if any eaters need more, they can just shake it on at the table.  If they eat at the table...

Put all these ingredients into the Instant Pot, and stir them well.  Set the pot to sealing and 40 minutes on the bean cycle, which is low pressure.

After 40 minutes I checked the beans.  There was a LOT of liquid in the pot. The broth tasted pretty good but had no depth to it.  The beans were not cooked. 

SO---I put the cover back on, set it to sealing and clicked the Manual button which is normally at high pressure then set the timer for 40 more minutes.  The beans were cooked but still firm, not like the mushy baked beans we make in the crock pot, and which, apparently, Dear One prefers.  They were not crunchy, either, just not the right texture yet.

Well, I did not have any more time as there were several necessary errands before attending classes, so I put the cover BACK ON and set them to cook again on Manual for ANOTHER 40 minutes.  I told Dear One to just leave it alone until the timer was done and the pressure valve released. Then I left.

After 10 PM I returned home.  The cover was off the pot.  There were a few beans in the bottom of the pot and a large amount of broth left.  The beans were VERY nicely cooked, if I do say so myself.  And they tasted wonderful, as did the broth.  Well, how could they fail with molasses AND Vermont maple syrup as sweeteners?!

Next time I will soak the beans overnight before putting them in to cook.  I suspect that they will then cook just fine on the first 40-minute cycle, though I will go directly to the high pressure cycle and not the low pressure cycle. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Quilt: An Old Bow Tie Quilt

Long ago I worked on a charity blanket project.  This is one of the blankets I tried out as a sample.

This one was a quilt which was a 3-D quilt pattern.  Here is a pattern, though not the one I actually used.  I had a book on 3-D quilts which was fabulous but seems to be missing from my sewing library.  Here is a YouTube video showing how to make this block.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Mr. Cardinal Came To Visit

Late in the fall one day Mr. Cardinal came to visit.  It was such a treat to see him brightening up the naked apple tree branches.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Knitting: Mini Knitted Football

A nice little boy came to visit the other day.  There was a big soft knitted ball in the "kids' basket" which he found interesting.  He knew I had knitted it.  I asked if he would like me to knit one for him since he was going to spend the afternoon. He did want me to knit one.

We went to Ravelry.com to look for patterns.  We found a large list of balls of many types.  The mini knitted football was the one he chose.

As it is moving up to Super Bowl season perhaps others would like to knit the same pattern in favorite team colors.  This would make a nice decoration for the snack table.

The yarn I used was Peaches and Cream worsted weight cotton.  It took less than two hours to knit and stuff. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Munchie Monday: Coconut Milk Hot Chocolate

A nice treat on a cold winter afternoon is a cup of hot chocolate. I tried an experiment using coconut milk.  It worked.  At least for me.

In a small saucepan place 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup water.  Stir very well then, over medium heat, bring to a simmer.  Simmer one minute.  Add 2 cups coconut milk (NOT coconut water).  Stir well.  Continue heating until hot chocolate is the temperature you enjoy.  Pour into mugs and sip with pleasure.  This is not very sweet. If you like it sweeter, add 1 or 2 more teaspoons sugar.

This makes two regular-sized mugs of hot chocolate.  Dear One drank his...!

Just another try at not using dairy.

Art Painting: First Attempt at Acrylic Painting

The new Michaels store that is opening nearby soon has been so kind as to hire me to be a teacher...actually a knitting and crocheting teacher.  Maybe a painting and drawing teacher, too.  As it happens, so far I have only done a little watercolor painting and barely dabbled in drawing, so a lot of work and learning has to happen.

An hour-and-a-half's drive away from home is another Michaels store.  They had a free acrylic painting class offered at a time I could do it.  As luck would have it, that day was a bright sunny day and the roads were clear and dry...not something that often happens in the middle of winter here.  I signed up for the class, dashed out immediately at the end of a wellness class, and tore down the road to the class, stopping at a convenience store for a sandwich since I realized I could not eat the salad I had brought from home while driving.  Duh....

Arriving late  by five minutes, I had to ask where the class room was located.  Found it and discovered the class had six students all set up with paints, easels, brushes, and palettes.  The teacher was already into her spiel.  Yikes!  She loaned me two brushes, gave me a palette and easel, but told me to go buy the canvas 5-pack. Quickly I did that but by the time I got back to the room all the background/sky had been painted.  She was a nice girl but she did not come tell me what I needed to do,  so I just tried to catch up by looking at her painting over the shoulder of the nice lady sitting next to me. 

Acrylic painting is a totally new medium for me.  I scurried to catch up but did not grasp that acrylics use a VERY little bit of water SOMETIMES....There is so much to learn that I will need to take some more classes, at least on YouTube.  That can certainly wait until the new store opens and we see what is what.

Well, I had fun anyway.

This is the picture I painted:

Some things I learned about teaching a class to a group of disparate individuals:

1.  Show what the end result could be
2.  Describe the steps that will need to be taken to reach that result at the beginning of the class, go over again if there are late-comers
3. Inquire about the experience class members have had prior to class
4.  Go over each step carefully, reminding them of the other steps that will follow
5.  Explain the various steps in understandable language
6.  Acknowledge the efforts of each class member, encouraging them to show off their work to other class members

Friday, January 13, 2017

Food Friday: Sweet Potatos from Delaware

Finally I have a picture of one of the sweet potatoes that we purchased from the back of a pickup truck in Delaware in October.

These are so delicious.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Garden: Actual Final Photo of Garden 2016

At the very end of December I harvested two last plants from our side garden.  The kale was still in good shape and made some wonderful kale chips.  Next year I will grow more kale for sure and plan to pick even longer.  If I keep the snow from the kale, it will last a long time, I am certain since we had multiple days below zero.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Grandchild Art Makes Grammie Happy

Quite some time ago I was gifted with a drawing from a grandchild.  I loved it.  I thought it was brilliant for a 5-year-old.

So impressive to see the stem end which adds volume to the apples.  I would never have thought of this. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Knitting: USM Bond Knitting Machine Knee Socks

Several years ago a dear friend gave me some wonderful wool sock yarn. I decided to try to make knee socks. I decided to make them on the Bond Ultimate Sweater Machine.  There were several steps to make them.

First I measured my legs below the knee at the top of the calf,  then every inch or so down to the ankle, making a chart of measurements. 

Next I wound the yarn skeins into center-pull balls.

You are going to add on a cuff, heel, and foot with double-pointed needles.

Now to the Bond.  Cast on with waste yarn for 8-10 rows then one row of ravel cord.  At that point add the sock yarn and start the row counter back at zero.  Knit however many rows to give you the measurements on the chart, one after the other, decreasing on each side of the sock every inch or so to shape the sock properly.

When you get to the ankle, knit 8 more rows of waste yarn, then remove from the Bond machine.  Using the Kitchener Stitch, turn the flat knitting into a tube-like sock.  When that is done, pick up the stitches at the cuff end of the tube and knit the cuff in K1P1 or K2P2 ribbing for 1 1/2 inches and bind off in a stretchy bind-off.

Now pick up the stitches on the other end of the tube and knit your preferred heel, foot, and toe then bind off.

This worked very well for me, but the cuff was a little loose so I added some elastic to keep the socks up. I HATE socks that bag at the ankles....

Monday, January 9, 2017

Munchie Monday: Muffin Tin Quiches

Dear One sent me a possible breakfast idea.  It was a sort of quiche-like thing.  This is what I did:

Used a King Arthur Flour six-reservoir roll tin

Large cupcake papers

1 onion, finely diced
1/2 cup yellow bell peppers, chopped fine
1 cup frozen broccoli, chopped fine
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk--dairy, coconut, or almond
1/2 shredded cheese
1/2 teaspoon Montreal Steak Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degree F.

With non-stick spray, completely spray the inside of the cupcake papers then place inside the roll reservoirs.  The papers are smaller than the pan I used.  The better pan to use would be the Texas Muffin Pan. 

In large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, cheese, and Montreal Steak Seasoning.  Add all the vegetables and mix well again.  Using a portion scoop, place six portions into the large cupcake papers. Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool five minutes.  Remove quiches from pan and then from the papers.

These were pretty good but not as flavorful as I would have liked. Next time I will add more Montreal Steak Seasoning and maybe add turmeric and granulated garlic.

These are a good size to put between toasted English muffins as if they are a breakfast sandwiches.  Well, a little thick, but still, they work well.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Food Friday: Barley Soup

Dear One always loved barley soup for some unknown reason.  It used to be great when we used a little hamburger to season it.  Now, of course, we do not do that. 

Yesterday I was in the mood for soup as the snow was falling down, all around.  Lots of inches of the lovely stuff piled up.  Soup weather.

This is what I used:

Instant Pot

1/2 cup barley
1 1/2 Tablespoons Dried onions
4 small chopped potatoes--end of the bag, beginning to sprout
2 cups water
Small can mushrooms, finely chopped--mushrooms are not popular here so chopping critical
Bay leaf
Pinch rosemary
Pinch thyme
Can mixed vegetables
Can whole kernel corn
Can tomato soup
1/2 cup Textured Vegetable Protein
1 Tablespoon Ham broth seasoning, though chicken or beef or vegetable broth flavors would also work.

To begin making this, I put the water into the Instant Pot insert along with the barley and dried onions (a fresh chopped onion would work well, too) and started the Instant Pot on the Sauté function so it would start heating up and decrease the pressure cooking time.  Next on the list was chopping the mushrooms until they were unrecognizable as mushroom, then tossed them in.

Because I am trying to use up all the canned goods in our pantry I threw in cans of mixed vegetables, whole kernel corn, and condensed tomato soup. I included all the liquid in the cans...no waste there!  At the last moment I saw the TVP and put that in, too.

When everything was in the pot, I gave it a good stir, put on the cover set for pressure then put it on the Bean/Chili setting which pressurizes for 20 minutes.  The barley was cooked but not mushy, not that mushy would be a disaster in my book.  This made about 2 quarts of soup, maybe a little more.

No, I did not in any extra salt.  These was enough in the canned goods and the ham broth seasoning.  I might throw in garlic next time.  Well, I WILL throw in garlic next time.  Maybe even some chopped fresh ginger, too.

The soup was popular enough that Dear One ate a good slug of it last night. Son #4 came in and had a bowl, dropping in the last of the Christmas ham.  I thought it was okay.  Dear One asked for more today!!!  That was unexpected.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Knitting: Nola's Knitted Slippers

The floor can be cold in the winter.  I made a pair of slippers for use in the early morning here.  Shortly after making them I found the Christmas at Sea website which has wonderful knitting patterns.  I loved the Nola Slippers and thought I would give them a try.

These slippers are made holding two strands of worsted weight yarn together.  They are nice and thick.  I may need to put some anti-slip stuff on the bottoms, though.  At least if anyone is going to actually walk around in them.

You will notice that I was using up leftover yarn and had to switch to another skein towards the end of the second slipper....

I did make some adjustments to the pattern:  for example,  I did not make the cuff doubled and I used US size 10.5 circular needles to knit them.  You really do need the circular needles but the pattern calls for smaller needles.  Because of the large needles these are loose enough that even a size 13 foot can wear them.

Since these were successful, I will make some pairs to send to the mariners.  They really will be great to keep feet warm after being in or on the water.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Papercrafting: Gelli Printing

Every so often I used watch YouTube videos about gelli printing and got very excited  I wanted to do it.  I did not want to spend the money for a gelli plate.  In order to save money, I decided to make my own gelli plate. YouTube again came to my aid.  The Frugal Crafter, again!  She is so great.  She can do anything.

My gelli plate was successful but I never used it until one day....

When I was going to spend an afternoon and evening with some of the grandchildren.  I decided to take my gelli plate, paint brushes, various shape-making tools and brayer, paper, and paints that had been given to me.

The children LOVED making gelli prints.  We ended with many many sheets of paper that had been printed.  (If I were to do this with the children again, I will use heavier paper...perhaps 32-lb paper or even watercolor paper.)  The whole house seemed to be covered with prints that were drying.  In fact, they were not all totally dry when I packed them up to take home to turn into books.  That was months again.  Finally today I finished the book project.  This is what happened:

There were three children who made gelli prints so I decided to turn them into books.  By putting the pages facing each other, if they want to use the blank back sides for journaling or drawing or anything else, that is now a possibility.
These books are not ideal. However, I was able to use materials for the bindings that I already had at home.   The cover stock is actually leftovers from a frame shop where the man sells me his scraps for a price I am willing to pay. I suppose if I was going to do a really good job, I would know what size I wanted and get them pre-cut by the shop.  (My cutter is not meant for such a heavy-duty job...)

One time several years ago I saw a spiral binding machine available on Freecycle. (Freecycle is an organization/network of people all over the world who give away the stuff--all kinds of stuff--that they no longer want but don't want to throw in the trash.  Sometimes it is really really good stuff.  Sometimes it is just barely above trash, but if you go to pick up something that is not what you want, you don't have to take it....I love this organized way of disposing of things we no longer need, or for picking up things that we would like.)  I had wanted a spiral binding machine forever but did not have the funds to purchase one.  Free is good.  The people who were giving this away were so very nice.  The dad in the family was kind enough to carry the heavy machine to our car.  This was a REAL spiral binding machine.  It had been used by a printing shop for decades.  Not only does the machine work, it came with the binding plastic coils!  These are 14 mm coils. 

Sadly, I have not figured out how to make the chopper thing to go all the way along the edge.  Of course, it works great if I only want a pocket-sized notebook...It just means that I have to start at both ends and meet almost in the middle.  It works, just looks not so great.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Knitting: Mittens!

Another knitting project finished:  mittens for oldest grandson.

Years ago my mother-in-law made wonderful mittens for our children.  They were speckled mittens quite often, with two colors on the hands with alternating stitches. This makes a nice thick warm mitten.  I found the same pattern called Fish Scale Mittens on Ravelry, a free download. 

There are a few measurements to take if you would like them to fit nicely:

Wrist to end of longest finger
Thumb bone to end of thumb
Distance across widest part of hand (to help you choose size....these were the smallest size, casting on 40 stitches)

For this pair I used US size 5 needles and US size 6 needles.  When I make them for adults next time I will use size 5 and size 7.  Also I will use double pointed needles for the whole mitten.  Well, maybe not for the cuff, but for the rest of the mittens.  On these I use two circular needles to cast on and knitted the cuff and up to the afterthought thumb stitches then switched to dpns and knitting one mitten at a time.  The reason for this was that the stitches seemed a little tighter with the circs.

Since mittens MUST be made with wool to assure that hands stay warm even if wet,  I chose Lamb's Pride, a worsted weight yarn, in Blue Boy and Red Baron, which I purchased at Country Woolens.

This pattern uses an afterthought thumb.  That makes the knitting go really fast.

When you get to the spot for the thumb, knit x-number of stitches in waste yarn then go back and knit them again with the mitten yarn and continue on until fastening off the top....THEN go back and knit the thumb.

When the top of the mitten is done you just pick up the stitches above and below the afterthought thumb stitches.

Stitches picked up to knit the thumb.  The thumb goes very fast...

Monday, January 2, 2017

Munchie Monday: A Good Breakfast

In an effort to have healthier breakfasts, we have started having oatmeal sometimes.  Well, at least once a week.  To make this humble breakfast not only palatable, but tasty we make some additions.

For the two of us I use:

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (though I am sure 1-minutes oatmeal would work)
1 apple grated on a box grater, peels and all (except the hard stuff in the middle of the apple)
1/2 cup blueberries
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed (flax seed meal)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Almond milk or coconut milk, even soy milk

Place 1 cup water in a small saucepan.  Stir in the oatmeal and grated apple and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. I use a long-handled wooden spoon so as not to get singed.  When that has come to the boil, lower the heat and simmer 2-3 minutes or until the oatmeal and apple are cooked.  Stir in the blueberries, flax meal, and walnuts.  Serve in two bowls and cover with your favorite nut or soy milk.  I always use unsweetened milks.  If you feel sweetener is needed,  mash half a ripe banana and stir in.

This makes a tasty healthy easy and pretty quick breakfast.  I am thinking of trying to make it in the crockpot overnight but would have to make up maybe four times this size batch and then refrigerate or even freeze individual servings.  If I do that, I will update this post to report how it went the second time eating it.  Thinking about the company would will eat it, I have in mind that it might not be an improvement...