Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tropical Storm Irene

We survived Tropical Storm Irene on Sunday with food and fun. We lost power from 1 pm on Sunday until 5:45 pm on Monday evening.

Before the power was gone I made another batch of Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffin Minis. Hotel Man has dubbed them Dema-kins. I changed up the batter this time. I added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to it. I filled 12 mini cupcake tins then added 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa to the remaining batter. They were delicious this way. Next time I make them I'm going to skip dipping them in butter and cinnamon sugar and try a different topping.
A couple hours after we lost power mommy, daddy and Mr. E came over. They brought over Monopoly and we started a game. Mr. E wanted to be included in the game.
Instead I remember I purchased Candyland last Christmas for $1 and quickly retrieved the game from the game closet. He and I sat at his little table across from the big table and played the game. Well, at least, he looked at the cards and found the matching colors on the board. He knew how to follow the Candyland trail too.
I managed to sneak in two more Amazing Color squares during the day too, Squares A7 and A8.
Last month I stitched a Critron Shawl for myself. You need to a member of Ravelry to see the pattern. I used Fitzwilliam Yarn from Sunflower Yarns in Coral. The pattern is nothing but single stitches. After a while it got boring so I often put it down and worked on something else.
I though the edge was a boring so I stitched a simple Picot stitch to finish it off.
That's what's happening around here. Tomorrow night Hotel Man and I are going to the New England Patriots final pre-season game. On Friday he has to fly to Chicago for the day and I'm hanging out in Boston by myself. For the weekend we will be at the Deutsche Bank Golf Championship. It's become our annual tradition to spend the weekend there. Last year I brought a small crochet project with me to work on one day while sitting on the 11th green. This year I'm bringing yarn to stitch washcloths.

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Sweet P

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recipe for Brunswick Stew

I had a couple requests for the Brunswick Stew recipe. Here it is. I'll be back later with stitching updates.

Brunswick Stew
From Light Cooking for Two

4 - 4 oz. chicken breasts, skinned and boned
2 c. water
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 c. cubed potato
1 c. sliced celery
1 c. chopped onion
1 14.5 oz. can no-salt-added whole tomatoes
1 10 oz. pkg. frozen Lima beans, thawed
1 10 oz. pkg. frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. hot sauce

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until chicken is tender.

Remove chicken from broth; skim fat from broth, reserving broth. Remove and discard bay leaves. Shred chicken and return to Dutch oven. Add potato and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Yield 2 quarts. Serving Size 1 cup.

To Freeze: Place 2 cups stew in each of 4 heavy-duty, zip top freezer bags. Freeze up to 1 month.

To Serve 2: Thaw one bag in refrigerator or microwave oven. Place stew in saucepan and cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally.

I generally freeze 1 cup single serving portions as this is often our work lunch meal.

Happy Cooking!

Sweet P

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Power Cooking

Ethan, mommy and I had a power cooking session this morning.

First we started a pot of Brunswick Stew.
This will be frozen into single servings for lunches.
Then we filled the crock pot with Chicken Taco Soup for dinner tonight.
Then we made of Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffin Minis.
These were simple to make and super delicious.
I may never buy Munchins again!
Even my taste tester agrees about the muffins.
He had to show me his hands when he was done with his first muffin!
And, last, but not least, we had lunch. Mr. E is a Special Agent Oso fan and we surprised him last night with his own Agent Oso bear. Oso sat at Mr. E's table with him and Mr. E shared his lunch with him (see the potato chip in front of Oso?)

What did you do today?

Sweet P (and mommy and Mr. E and Special Agent Oso)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Amazing Color, More Squares and Staying Organized

I've stitched three more squares on Amazing Color this week: B3, B4 and B5. This project is still proving to be fun and challenging at the same time.
I thought I would share how I am keeping organized for this project. After all, the pattern squares are printed twelve to a page, six on each side, plus there is a blank grid page for marking off squares as you stitch them and a page of threads and directions. That means keeping track of about 20 pages. So, I have repurposed a covered notebook I made a few years ago and it's working out well for me.
On the inside of the notebook there are pockets. This is where I keep a pen, pencil and a few needles. I bought a zipper pencil case at the dollar store and keep threads in it until I need a specific thread.
The pattern pages are kept in plastic sleeves. I'm only using five sleeves so there a few pages visible at a time. On each square I have written in what thread to use since I am not using her original colors but an alternate set of threads.
I bought a set of bobbin pages for storing threads as they are needed. As you can see in the photo I have used 14 of the 27 colors so far. The DMC colors are in the two left rows and the Weeks Dye Works threads are on the right. I will probably separate the two sets once I use enough colors to finish up one side or the other.
How do you keep your projects organized?

Sweet P

Monday, August 15, 2011

Let's Talk Breakfast and Starting my Pantry List

Welcome to my first post on building my pantry list. When I was trying to decide how to build my pantry list I said to myself, "Why not start with the first meal of the day?" Seems logical to me, doesn't it? I can't recall reading any books or articles on building pantry lists that talk about including breakfast in your planning. Yet, breakfast is the first meal of the day. It can make or "break" the rest of your day.

I'm a breakfast eater. I have to eat within 15 minutes of getting out of bed or my day doesn't go right at all. First activity in the kitchen is brewing a pot of coffee made from freshly ground coffee beans. I get my coffee beans from Boca Java. The coffee beans are roasted to order and my order of 7 bags is delivered to me every 7 weeks. Since we started ordering from them in 2003 I have only run out of coffee once and that's because I forgot to plan ahead for holiday company.

A few of my favorite mugs

I am not a fan of flavored coffees like Caramel Kiss or Hazelnut or Blueberry. I prefer bold, dark roasts with a shot of cream. Speaking of creams I started mixing my own liquid creamer a few months ago and love it. Here's the recipe:

Liquid French Vanilla Cream
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk (this is the only way I add a touch of sweetness to my coffee)
2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups milk (I use whole milk)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Pour ingredients into a blender and give them a whirl. Store in the refrigerator.

I have used cinnamon extract and almond extract for part of the vanilla extract. They were a nice addition, but not something I do all the time.

This creamer is also great for iced coffee. When a pot of coffee is finished brewing I pour myself a cup ( and hubby, if he's up) and then pour the rest into a thermal carafe. If there is any coffee left by the end of the morning I pour it into a pitcher in the fridge. If I want an iced coffee I use the coffee from the fridge with the flavored cream. It's yummy!

Enough about coffee . . . what do we eat for breakfast? I have to have toast or bagel or an English muffin or a muffin with my coffee. When I work early in the morning I'll have that for breakfast, then when I make the bank run I'll often stop at McDonald's and buy an oatmeal. Hubby is not a breakfast eater during the week. He survives on coffee until lunch time.

Sundays are big breakfast day in our house and that's the day hubby cooks breakfast. We'll have bacon, eggs, toast/bagel and baked beans. Once in a while I'll make Buttermilk Pancakes. This is the best recipe for making pancakes and like the recipe says, you can make them ahead and keep them in the fridge.

Mr. E helping me make pancakes

Mr. E is here for breakfast on Tuesday mornings. He has become a "toast and orange juice" boy. He likes to choose between butter or peanut butter on the toast. He will also ask for a "nana" if I have them on the counter.

We are not cereal eaters anymore, although once in a while hubby like to have a bowl for breakfast.

Now to start building my Pantry List. I'm not sure yet where the list is taking me or what it's final form will be. So, for now I will list every ingredient for making the breakfasts as described above. Who knows how the list will evolve over the next few weeks.
  • coffee (delivered every eight weeks)
  • whole milk
  • sweetened condensed milk
  • pure vanilla extract
  • half and half (for hubby's coffee)
  • sugar
  • bread/bagel/English muffin/muffin
  • cream cheese
  • peanut butter
  • spreadable butter
  • oatmeal
  • dried cranberries
  • brown sugar
  • dry cereal
  • eggs
  • bacon
  • baked beans
  • unsalted butter
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • kosher salt
  • buttermilk
  • vegetable oil
  • pure maple syrup
  • orange juice
  • bananas
Wow! That's a lot of items for the first meal of the day. I already know several of them will be used throughout the day and won't be repeated. But who knows what else will show up on the final list.

What do you usually eat for breakfast?

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Food Discussion

I'm a foodie. I like food. I like to grocery shop. I like to cook and bake and eat.

This was our dinner last night: Espresso Rubbed Sirloin, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Corn and Bean Salad and Honey Grain Bread.
Can someone explain to me when and why grocery shopping and cooking became a chore and a hassle? I'm tired of reading articles and books written with the promise of easier shopping and cooking if you follow a few simple steps.

I recently purchased The Stocked Kitchen book. The premise of the book is a good one. Let us provide you a list of food to keep in your pantry and freezer and we'll give you a book of recipes to cook from that food. There is one line in the book that intrigues me: you should treat your family like they are a guest in your house for dinner. What an awesome philosophy. It's the best line I've read about cooking for your family.

I intend to start building my own pantry list built around our favorite recipes. Would you like to join me in the process? I think it would be a fun way to work through the couple months to get ready for the holidays.

Let's make every meal a special meal in our homes.

Sweet P

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Projects from July

While looking my photos today I realized I made a couple of projects for a friend's wedding and hadn't shared them yet.

We have this awesome fabric in the store. All of us love it. I decided to make a new vacation bag for me before we went on vacation. I took the time to fussy cut the fabric so there is a bird on the front of the bag:
And the other bird on the back.
I ordered silk dupioni from the Silk Baron and had a friend sew me a dress for the wedding. From the leftover fabric I stitched a matching clutch,
With a fun lining!
Hubby was the best man and here we are all dressed up for the wedding.
The shawl was made from a remnant of a Simply Silky fabric from the store. It matched the dress perfectly.

Sweet P

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Amazing Color - 4 Squares Added

Since last Thursday (mostly the last two days) I've stitched four more Amazing Color squares. I am constantly amazed at how a black and white stitch diagram comes to life with colorful floss. This project is almost, I repeat, almost better than eating chocolate!

Sweet P

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Mr. E's Race

The other night Mr. E and Grampa raced on the deck before dinner.

I'm not sure who won, but I know Ethan slept for 10 hours that night!

Sweet P

Monday, August 08, 2011

Recession Swap Goodies and a New Crochet Project

Last month I participated in a Recession Special swap on Ravelry. The goal was to spend less than $15 on the package that was to include something handmade, yarn from your stash and one goodie. Let me show you what I made for my partner.

First I made this washcloth using Lily Sugar 'N Cream cotton yarn.
The pattern was designed by a friend on Ravelry.
Then I made three more washcloths with the same yarn.
She asked me to sew her something so I made her a knitting needle case with butterfly fabric.
My swap partner sent me a pair of purple knitted socks.
And here is the rest of her package: homemade strawberry jam, hand spun yarn and note cards.
I started a new crochet project on Saturday. The Ruadh Shawl has been speaking to me ever since I saw the pattern on Ravelry. I'm not a fan of red so I went in search of a plum heather. I found the perfect yarn in my store: Bernat Satin in Plum Mist Heather. I'm name my shawl Corcra, the Irish word for purple. I started the cable edging on Saturday and am already half done with the edging. It's a fun project so far.
My stitching muse is still calling to work on Amazing Color and I've promised her that I will work one skein of yarn in the shawl and then stitch a square or two. It can be hard work listening to my different muses.

How do you listen to your Muses?

Sweet P

Friday, August 05, 2011

Amazing Color - 3 Squares Added

I'm loving this project. I may not put it down until I finish it! I've stitched three more squares since Tuesday. So far I have used seven of the 27 colors. I love the color combos so far!
Now I must it down for a few minutes while I tidy up the house. Hotel Man comes home tonight and I want the place to look presentable.

Do you have plans for the weekend? I have a girl's night scheduled for tomorrow night. We are going to see Wizard of Oz at a local park. I do work and my "weekend" isn't until Monday. Then I plan on doing a deep clean of the house.

The mudding and skimming is almost done in the basement. It will be time for a few more update photos next week. Stay tuned!

Sweet P

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Amazing Color - The Beginning

Back in May I finished my first counted canvas project: Tahiti by Needle Delights. I still have not framed it. Maybe someday that will happen.
Then I bought another one of her designs, Amazing Color. Yesterday I decided to start it while Mr. E was napping. I finished one of the 216 squares, A1. Each square is one inch in size. It took me about an hour to stitch it.
Between making dinner and another 30 minutes I was able to stitch square A2.
This project could be addicting. Each square is it's one mini project. Just the right size when I want to feel like I stitched a complete project.

Who knows how long it will take me to make it. If each square does take an hour, that's a lot of time spent stitching. I'm OK with the time, though. After all, I am a Process creator.

Are you working on any new projects?

Sweet P

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

I'm A Plate Collector

Sometime in the last few years I've become a plate collector. I'm not sure why I started collecting plates, I just did. I have three criteria for collecting plates. First, there has to be more than one in the collection. Second, they have to be smaller than dinner plates. Three, they have to make me smile.

My Debbie Mumm Morning plates. I often use these for breakfast. They are the perfect size for a slice or two of toast and a piece of fruit.
Dessert Plates for nibbling a yummy dessert, preferably a home made one.
Cupcake Plates, for eating cupcakes, of course.
Wine and cheese plates for eating cheese in the afternoon.
Playing card plates for my poker playing hubby.
Leaf plates, aren't the colors gorgeous? I use these a lot in the fall and generally for lunch.
A set of teacup luncheon plates. I need to find the missing cup. I don't use these very often because they are dainty.
I would love to find a set of plates like this one. They remind me of the wedding and baby showers I went to as a young girl.

What do you collect? Share some photos with me on your blog.

Sweet P