Hats Off to You!

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It’s starting to get colder outside and that means time for hats and gloves!  Maybe even a scarf or shawl for those extra cold days.  Here in Maryland we’ve already had our first snow, which is unusual.  Does that mean we are going to have an extra-cold winter?  I don’t know, but if all the rain we got this year continues and turns into snow, we might be in trouble! (Ha-Ha or maybe that should be Ho-Ho)

My fingers have been busy with a crochet hook and yarn making lots and lots of hats. Below is a sample of some adult sized hats that I just posted to my Etsy shop, Marvelous Meous Crafts, and I will be posting more items this week.  Please visit the shop for details on these items, including pattern information.  Any of these items would make wonderful gifts for family or friends.

Hope you take the time to stop by.

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Thanksgiving Prep

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I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes.  Recently I discovered a new website (well new to me, at least), Primavera Kitchen, which has lots of healthy recipes.  Since I’m trying to cut down on carbs, I decided to give the Roasted Butternut Squash Mash at try.  The recipe was easy to follow, and while the squash was cooking in the oven, I was able to prep and complete other dishes.

1121181411_HDR~2Here is the squash cleaned, seasoned with salt, pepper, and minced garlic, and ready to pop into the oven for about 40 minutes.

Now on to other dishes – homemade cranberry sauce is a must in my house.  I just follow the basic recipe on the bag – with a few tweaks.  I replace half the sugar with raw honey, and add a dash of ground cloves.   1121181428_HDR~2

Once the berries are fully cooked, just remove from the heat and add the zest and juice of one orange.  I love using my vintage glass juicer; for some reason it just makes me happy.  1121181436_HDR~2

Spoon the finished sauce into a serving dish, let cool, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.1121181447_HDR~2 Of course, if you’re like me you probably can’t wait to enjoy this yummy side dish, and sneak a little advance taste. Definitely one of the perks of being the cook!

1121181451_HDR~2While the cranberries were cooking, I used the time to chop the veggies for the dressing.  Originally, I was going to to skip the dressing, but decided to won’t be Thanksgiving without this traditional dish.

 

1121181535a_HDR~2My husband loves celery, so I always add extra along with the onion and some carrots for extra crunch and color.  Plus they’re good for you!  I like moist dressing, so I use about twice the amount of liquid (using the recipe on the package as a guideline) and one beaten egg to hold it all together.  Once it’s all mixed together, just pop it into a covered casserole, refrigerate and you have one more dish ready for your Thanksgiving feast!

1121181452a_HDR~3While I was making the cranberry sauce and the dressing, the squash continued to cook.  Once it was fork tender, I simply removed it from the oven and let it cool while finishing the dressing.  It came out slightly browned and the roasted garlic smelled heavenly.

Once the cooked squash is cool enough to handle, scooped out from the shell into a bowl or pot for mashing.

1121181545a_HDR~3I mostly followed the recipe, but omitted the ghee as my husband doesn’t care for butter on his vegetables and after tasting, I didn’t think that this yummy dish really needed the butter.  You can use a regular or hand-held mixer to mash the squash.  Or, go old school and use a potato masher.  The one I have is over 60 years old and used to belong to my mother.  It has seen a lot of action through the years and still works great!  🙂

 

1121181553_HDR~4My mashed squash it in a serving dish, and tomorrow all I need to do is heat it up a bit in the microwave.

I’ve certainly gotten a good head start on the cooking for tomorrow.  All that’s left to do is to clean and prep the turkey for cooking and get my vegetables ready.  I’m going to put fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, & thyme) in the bird’s cavity and  I plan on using Primavera Kitchen’s recipe for roasted Brussel Sprouts, adding carrots and parsnips, too.

 

Hope you have a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving!  I know that I am thankful to Olivia of Primavera Kitchen for sharing her recipes with us.

Enjoy, Mary

 

 

 

 

 

A Home Cooked 4th!

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I wasn’t planning on making potato salad, but when buying grass fed beef (trust me, it tastes sooo much better) for burgers, I saw a bag of potatoes and figured why not!  It’s not hard to make and if you know your way around the kitchen, you really don’t need to refer to a written recipe.

Knowing I wanted to get an early start, so everything could be nice and chilled for later today, I started at about 7:45 and was out of the kitchen with potatoes and eggs cooked, and dishes done by 8:30.  That’s with all of my usual distractions including making and drinking coffee, and taking photographs, too.  Here’s my morning prep:

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Scrub and chop your potatoes. I leave the skins on because there are more nutrients there.  (Totally staged shot, because I’m left handed. HaHa)

 

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Put eggs in a pan of cold water with about 1t of salt & 1T of vinegar (makes for easier peeling). Bring to boil and then remove from heat. Let sit for 20 minutes off heat.

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Add chopped potatoes to cold salted water and bring to boil.

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Bring potatoes to a rolling boil; reduce heat and cook for about 5 more minutes. Taste for desired doneness.

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Drain eggs; run under cold water and place in ice bath to halt cooking.

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Drain potatoes into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop further cooking.

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Wash up your dishes. I like to clean as I cook so there is not a big mess in the kitchen.

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Have a refreshing beverage, you earned it!

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I’m having cold brew iced tea.

 

Next steps for later in the day.

Potatoes and eggs are cooked and cooled! Now it’s time to gather our ingredients and make some potato salad – – –

Time to practice our knife skills – –

Peel and chop the eggs:

 

The ingredients are chopped,  so now we need some seasonings – –

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French seasoning mix, Italian dressing, mayonnaise, salt & pepper.

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Oops, almost forgot the dill.

 

Let’s mix it all together – –

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Add potatoes to large mixing bowl and season with the Italian dressing – about 2T

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Add and stir in the chopped ingredients. The eggs to the left are for Deviled Eggs.

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About 1/3 cup of mayonnaise

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Time for the herbs! Season with salt & pepper to taste.

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Mix well, place in lidded container, and refrigerate.  Correct seasoning prior to serving.

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Clean up the dishes and you’re done!

 

It took me about 35 minutes to chop, mix, season, and clean up. If I hadn’t been taking photographs during the process, it would have take less time. Added bonuses to your time spent in the kitchen – – tastes better than store bought, you can control the ingredients, the satisfaction and pleasure of making good food!

 

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Don’t forget to give your kitchen supervisor a treat.

 

A Stick and Some Stripes

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Continuing a Patriotic Wall Hanging

Once you’ve decided on a stitch pattern for the Union (blue part of flag) you will also need to make the stripes and obtain a stick for hanging.  This is your project, so be creative and make it your own!

For my hanging stick, I took a walk outside and found a nice sized tree branch (no living trees were harmed in the making of this project).  Since the branch had been on the ground for a while, I washed and scrubbed it well then put in the lowest setting of my oven to dry and clean by heating the wood through.  My stick isn’t perfect, it has some bends and cracks and knotty parts, which makes me like it all the more.

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Carry a big stick and a bigger cup of coffee!

If you don’t care for the “rustic natural” look of a branch you could also use a dowel rod, broom handle, clothes hanger – the type with clips (or not).  Anything that will suspend the hanging will work!  I have a piece of copper tubing from another project, and I could use that (I just now remembered that I have the unused length stashed in my craft room).

Now that we have part of the display covered, it’s onto the STRIPES!!  If you weren’t good in history, the American flag has 13 stripes that represent the original 13 colonies. I decided to follow the standard U.S. flag.  Which means I will need the following:

  • Four short red stripes
  • Three short white stripes
  • Three long red stripes
  • Three long white stripes

For my hanging, I decided to use three different stitch patterns to make one of each of the standard stripes as noted above.

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A fourth pattern will be needed for the additional short red stripe, or repeat another pattern.  My long stripes are roughly twice as long as the short, but I did not measure the stripes or count rows.  If they come out a little uneven, that will just add to the charm of the project.

This project is representational art so go with what works for you.  If you really need everything to be exact, then measure and count away.  Want more or less stripes, not a problem – – this is your project (which is why I’m not writing a pattern just giving a general project outline).

I’m still working on my stripes, but this is what I have finished so far – –

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Up next: Assembly and Display

Happy Crafting!

Flying the Flag

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Making a Wall Hanging for the 4th of July!

This is not my original idea, but I was inspired by a photo I saw on Hillary’s Hook Crochet Along Group, a sister page to Hillary’s Hook on Facebook.

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Flag Hanging from Hillary’s Hook

However, Hillary was also inspired by another image from Meg Made With Love.  Click photo for Meg’s project information.

Bohemian American Flag

Flag Hanging from Meg Made With Love

Instead of just copying what someone else created, I decided to use their idea as an  inspiration for my own hanging.  My project is currently in the works, and began with a little bit of research on the American Flag and reviewing stitch patterns to utilize.

planning[1]The Union, that’s the blue field with 50 stars, is part one of my version and is stitched with the Arcade Shell Stitch.  This stitch can be found on page 58 of Crochet Stitches Visual Encyclopedia by Robyn Chachula.

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I wanted to have 50 “stars” in my version, so following pattern instructions I chained 38.  While creating the fabric, I realized that I goofed because the first complete row of “stars” was one less than I anticipated.  To get 50 “stars” in this pattern, I should have chained 44.  My prototype flag hanging will have a “star” missing.  Opps!

 

 

Union[1]

So, that’s the first part.  Now to begin the stripes . . .

Until later,

Happy Crafting

World Cancer Day

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Today, February 4th is World Cancer Day.  I imagine that most people have been touched by cancer in one way or another. They may have had cancer themselves, or been through this life-changing event with a loved one. Perhaps you know a neighbor, church member, or student who has had cancer.  Thankfully, with today’s advances in medicine the prognosis for cancer patients is improving. However, it all depends on catching the cancer early.

In January 2009, my father was diagnosed with late-stage throat cancer. he had ignored the signs and would not see a doctor until the cancer was quite advanced.  By mid-February we said our final goodbyes at his memorial service.  Later that same year, I too was diagnosed with cancer, fortunately my outcome was different.  I knew something was wrong, but not what and went through test after test, all with negative results until an ultra-sound finally uncovered what was wrong; I had bilateral ovarian cancer.

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With my mom, in 2010 after chemo-therapy. We are both wearing teal for ovarian cancer.

Today, I consider myself one of the lucky ones in that my cancer was discovered at stage 2, which is still an early stage.  Only 20% of all women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at an early state.  Yet, an early diagnosis means a world of difference and an amazing 94% 5-year survival rate.  Unfortunately, there are no tests for early detection. Instead, it is important to know the symptoms and your body.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge from your vagina that is not normal for you.
  • Pain in the pelvic or abdominal area (the area below your stomach and between your hip bones).
  • Back pain.
  • Bloating.
  • Feeling full quickly while eating.
  • A change in your bathroom habits, such as having to pass urine very badly or very often, constipation, or diarrhea.

If you experience one or a combination of these symptoms, and they persist for several weeks then you should see your doctor for an evaluation.  Being aware may save your life or the life of another woman.

For more information on ovarian cancer, please visit the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) or the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA).  You may also click on the link below to open a PDF file with information provided by NOCC.

http—ovarian.org-docs-NOCC14.08_PDF

It’s National Chocolate Cake Day

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A Day Honoring a Favorite Dessert!

I can never quite decide which I love more a luscious deep-dish apple pie fragrant with cinnamon, or a rich, melt-in-your-mouth slice of dark chocolate cake.  It never entered my imagination that there would be a special day for Chocolate Cake, until a good friend sent me an e-mail with a recipe for a microwave cooked Chocolate Cake in a Mug in honor of today.

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Watching my cake cook!

Of course I had to try the recipe, which is quite simple. The result is a somewhat spongy cake, with a pancake like under-taste. Not bad for a super quick cake to satisfy an craving for chocolate cake.   I am wondering how the recipe might fair if a rising agent were added, or perhaps self-rising flour were used, which I do not keep on hand as a staple.

For a microwave baked product, it is good and should be a hit with younger kids especially if they are watching through the microwave window when the cake starts to rise like a souffle!  It is puffs up quickly – almost like magic.  Make sure you use a LARGE mug; you only want the batter to fill about halfway up you cup.

My mug is now empty, as I was enjoying my cake as I was typing this review.  Hmmm, I haven’t had lunch today so maybe a second helping is in order.

Chocolate Cake in a Mug Recipe

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Mixed and Ready to Microwave!

Combine: 4 T flour, 4 T sugar, 1 T cocoa

Add to dry ingredients: 1 egg, 3 T milk, 3 T oil

Mix well. Bake 3 minutes in microwave. Cool and enjoy!

Optional Ingredients: 1 T of chocolate chips, or chopped nuts, or coconut

Let me know if you try this recipe and what changes you make!

Happy Microwave Baking!