Thursday, December 30, 2010

WFD? 12/30

Homemade cheeseburgers and Ore-Ida fast fries.

Because sometimes we need meat and potatoes for dinner.

Monday, December 27, 2010

WFD? 12/27

Tacos a la Cucos!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

WFD? 12/26

Leftovers. We had barbecued pork, a bit of chili, and some turkey and mashed potatoes left from the past few days. It was a good day to empty out the fridge and get ready for a new week.

My kids stepped up to the plate this Christmas. I have had a nasty cold for the past couple of weeks and had some Relief Society jobs that took a lot of my time and energy and so I hadn't got around to decorating the house for Christmas. While Karie was here I baked the gingerbread and she and the boys decorated a gingerbread house for us. I think it turned out quite spectacularly.

Jake kept after me to put up the Christmas tree. I finally got around to hauling it down out of its storage spot and putting it together, and Jake and James put the ornaments on it while I rested. While I was gone somewhere Jake hung up all the stockings on the mantle and put out all the rest of our Christmas decorations around the house. I was pretty well shocked and amazed and so grateful for the great job he did - he obviously has been paying attention all these years and knew exactly where everything goes.

I am thankful that I have such wonderful family and friends who love me in spite of my shortcomings, and help me when I'm overwhelmed and faltering.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

WFD? 12/25

Cracked pepper turkey tenderloin, mashed yukon gold potatoes with turkey gravy, and buttered peas.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

WFD? 12/24

Walraven family tradition = chili on Christmas Eve.

Most years it's homemade but this year it is canned Wolf brand Homestyle chili with beans, plus shredded cheddar and saltine crackers.

(It was spicy and good. And super easy on a busy day. Canned chili on Christmas Eve sounds like a valid tradition, doesn't it? What do you think?)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

WFD? 12/23

Fish chowder and winter salad.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

WFD? 12/22

I've had a killer headache all day. I don't know what the problem is, but I've been pretty sure all day long that cooking dinner isn't going to solve it.

Frozen pizza it is.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WFD? 12/21

Barbecued pork sandwiches, sort of.

It's not really barbecued pork. It's a pork roast, cooked all day in the crockpot with some finely diced onion and a bottle of barbecue sauce, then shredded and piled on a kaiser roll.

It's good, even if it's not really barbecue.

Monday, December 20, 2010

WFD? 12/20

This morning I knew it was going to be a long and busy day. As I stood gazing into the freezer and refrigerator and contemplating dinner tonight I knew that a big shopping trip was going to be added to my to-do list. There just isn't a lot there.

I found a recipe that calls for everything I have on hand. Hooray! So this morning into the crockpot went the last bits of this and that. Chicken and Sausage Gumbo smells fabulous. I haven't eaten it yet, but judging by the smell wafting through my house, it's definitely going into our regular dinner rotation.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo (from my BH&G New Cook Book, page 544)
Make a roux with:
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup all purpose flour
Cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Lower heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, for 15 more minutes or until dark reddish-brown in color. (I stopped after 10 minutes because I got nervous). Cool.
In a crockpot combine 3 cups water (I used 1 cup water and two cups chicken stock because I had some in the fridge that needed to be used up) and cooled roux. Add:
12 oz. cooked smoked turkey sausage links, cut up (I used a package of skinless polska kielbasa because that's what I had)
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken or 12 oz. skinless, boneless chicken pieces (I chopped up 5 thawed, boneless chicken tenders because, again, that's what I had)
2 cups sliced okra (None for me, thanks. I think okra is one of those things that you have to either grow up eating or learn to love. I haven't done either.)
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green sweet pepper (I used 1/2 of both a red and a green sweet bell pepper because I had them leftover from fajitas the other day and needed to use them up)
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Stir it all together, put the cover on the crockpot, and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or on high for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. (I usually start the crockpot on high for an hour or so just to get it really going good, then turn it to low for the rest of the day.) Serve over hot cooked rice.

What I really love about my crockpot is that I can put food in there in the morning when I have a few minutes, and get everything cleaned up, and then late in the afternoon when I'm tired and maybe a little hassled and grouchy, dinner is ready but the kitchen is clean. Ahhhh...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

WFD? 12/19

It's been a strange few days. I've been sick for about a week, but haven't had the chance to slow down and rest long enough to get over it. We had Relief Society on Thursday night, went out to a Chinese buffet for dinner on Friday night to celebrate James' birthday, and ended up with drive-through burgers on Saturday night.

Tonight I made crepes and filled them with the raspberry jam Karie and I made a month or so ago. They were delish, and by the end I was able to flip them with the pan instead of a spatula which was quite fun. Jake complained that he didn't like the "cranberry" and so if I ever make them again, he'll have them plain or with some maple syrup.

Although they were good, it took an inordinately long time to make them. They won't be on a regular rotation for that reason.

PS: that is not my pic, but that is exactly what my crepes looked like tonight.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WFD? 12/15

A haiku:

Chicken fajita
Low-fat white meat with veggies
Bring on the dairy

Because you know a fajita is just not the same without sour cream and cheese. You do know that, right?

Tonight I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. In the past I've used Montreal steak seasoning but this was super good and I think I will do it this way from now on. The steak seasoning has a little too much dill or something to really hit the Tex-Mex place on the taste buds.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

WFD? 12/14

Campbell's soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Which in this house is one step above "find yourself something to eat".

Monday, December 13, 2010

WFD? 12/13

I had a super long and busy day today, so we needed something quick and easy.


My current favorite sauce is Ragu Sweet Tomato Basil. I add 1 lb. ground beef, well browned and seasoned with salt and pepper, and 1/4 of a large yellow onion, diced smallish.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

WFD? 12/12

Last night when we got home from Austin and Avery D's fab birthday party we sort of grazed for dinner. There wasn't any cooking except for Jake's scrambled egg and pancakes.

Today was cold and dry. Which always does a number on my skin - I'm dry and flaky, and there are spots on my hands, elbows, and feet that feel like they might crack open. They say a little oil in your diet will help condition your skin, so dinner tonight was all about fried.

Tilapia fillets pan-fried in olive oil, and red-skinned potatoes, green beans, and carrots sauteed in sage and parsley-infused canola oil.


Friday, December 10, 2010

WFD? 12/10

For me it was Tacos a la Cucos. At my favorite Mexican restaurant. No cooking for me today.

Instead I did some shopping and made a super cute pillowcase for my niece C for Christmas. It's been a busy day. Some days the phone rings about 30 times.

Tomorrow is Buttercup's birthday party! That tiny and oh-so-sweet little girl will be ONE in a just a few days. Can you believe it?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

WFD? 12/9 - recycling

Or, leftovers.

I reheated the pot roast in a saucepan with some of the gravy - it helped the meat stay moist and tender while reheating. For the leftover carrot, sliced onions, and potatoes I put them in a baking dish, smashed them just a little bit with a fork, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. I baked it at 450 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Oh. My. Goodness. I saw this trick on Jamie Oliver's show the other day. He parboiled his potatoes and then roasted them in the oven.

My veggies were already cooked the other day in the crockpot, so of course they didn't need parboiling. The edges of the carrot and potatoes became crusty and crunchy, and the sliced onion bits turned crispy. From now on I will always add lots of extra veg to the crockpot specifically to make this later.

Add some green beans, and dinner is served:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WFD? 12/8

Turtle Rice and Beef Enchilada Casserole.

This morning I:
  • cooked the rice
  • chopped all the veggies/herbs for the rice
  • cooked the ground beef with chopped onion and garlic
  • chopped the tomatoes
  • softened the corn tortillas
  • assembled the beef enchilada casserole
  • put everything in the refrigerator

Tonight I:

  • put the casserole in the oven to bake
  • sauteed the veggies for the rice
  • added the cold rice
  • added the dried herbs, salt, pepper, and fresh cilantro to the rice/veggie mixture
  • shredded some lettuce
  • ate.

I like having lettuce, tomatoes, and light sour cream on top of my enchiladas. The cool vegetables and sour cream sort of cut the heaviness and richness of the enchiladas.

I had a long, busy day today at the quilt shop learning a new needle-turn applique technique. It was fun. I'm enjoying the process.

I loved knowing that the majority of the cooking and cleaning up was already over and done with! I'm not really a morning person and getting dinner made before breakfast will probably take some getting used to, but it sure was nice to come home to a dinner that was mostly made.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The big, scary WFD? 12/7

I hope to start a new series on the blog for the next month - What's for dinner? I've realized over the last several days that I would probably feel more energetic and positive, and less allergic if I had a regular diet of decent food.

Have you ever felt this way? When I graze around for food because I'm hungry, and afterward, even though I probably consumed enough calories to call it dinner, I don't really feel "fed". Do you know what I mean?

By dinnertime I'm usually rushing around in traffic to or from somewhere, and I'm tired and my stress level is at the max, and so I turn too often to quick, junky food for dinner. I think we eat too much highly-processed food and not enough whole foods. So I am going to (at least, I intend to) keep a record here on my blog about what I made for dinner so that I know exactly what we had and also in an effort to make myself more accountable in thinking about and planning our dinner menus better.

I hope to get in a better routine about doing some of the prep work in the morning in the little window of time that I have every day after James leaves for school and before Jake gets up. That way at night most of the work is already done and I'm not feeling so rushed and irritable, but I still have a good, healthful meal to put on the table. Right?

Early this morning I put a beef roast in the crockpot with yukon gold potatoes, carrots, onions, and a box of beef stock. (That's not a pic of my roast - I borrowed it from the Pioneer Woman. Maybe I should start taking pics of WFD? every night? We'll see.) Eleven hours later - perfection! Moist, tender, high-quality meat and fresh vegetables. I made some gravy out of the meat juices and added a little squirt of ketchup to give it some color and sweetness. It was a good idea.

I feel fed. Day one = success!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tender Mercies

Psalms 103:2-4 - "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquites; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies."

I had a tough week last week. Somebody said something to me last Sunday that hurt my feelings. It wasn't a kind remark and it seemed, while I was busy feeling sorry for myself, to bring into focus in a negative way everything that this particular person has said to me in the last six months. Which up to this point I had not taken in a bad way.

Because of her words I lost my way. I shed many hot, bitter tears and was filled with self-doubt, shame, fear, anguish, and despair. I didn't know what to do and didn't feel like I could do anything. I felt paralyzed, diseased and destroyed, if you will, by my insecurity.

I went to bed on Saturday night feeling very bad and sorry for myself. I didn't sleep well. And then I woke up feeling very different.

I woke up feeling hope for the future. I woke up knowing exactly what I could do. I felt encouraged, peaceful, and calm. I woke up feeling the Holy Spirit.

I'm grateful that in a very real way, the Savior makes his presence known in my life. I'm grateful that I am not left to my own strength in this Relief Society calling and in this life, and I'm grateful that there is help for those that ask for it.

I'm grateful that even when I sometimes don't ask for the help I need, when I'm so busy feeling sorry for myself and feeling particularly overburdened and unappreciated, the help comes anyway, and I am left feeling literally crowned with love, kindness and mercy.

I'm grateful that in the midst of darkness and despair a light comes shining through, lighting the way and giving me enough confidence to take another step.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Knitting for Avery

I finally did the finishing on this sweater for Buttercup. It's super thick and squishy and I hope that translates into warm.

I would have really loved to talk to Gram about this sweater. I needed help and had to deal with it by myself. I miss her, and that feeling is somehow all wrapped up for me in this sweater. I'm glad it's finished and gone home today with the baby.

I miss the baby, too.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Not-so-deep thoughts

on Thanksgiving Day:
  • I finished a project today. That's it in the picture.
  • I've only been about 2 1/2 hours worth of work short of having it done for a few months.
  • Two and a half hours is basically a single afternoon of sewing.
  • And I can't quite put it into words what the problem has been.
  • Why didn't I just finish it?
  • Not too long ago I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't begin any more craft projects until the ones I have already started are finished.
  • And I've broken that promise but I'm diligently trying to be reasonable.
  • (I really love having all my crafting and sewing supplies and tools in my front room -working on things is so much more pleasant and efficient.)
  • Tonight I wondered how long ago I started this quilt so I started going back through my blog to see if I could find out.
  • I couldn't.
  • But I thoroughly loved reading through many, many old blog entries.
  • I crack myself up sometimes. Seriously.
  • I miss writing in my blog every single day. Looking back now I'm sorry that I haven't been doing it.
  • But it's sort of like the thing with my quilt project - I can't figure out why I'm not just doing it.
  • There have been a lot of days for the last couple of months that I don't feel like I have anything fun or new to report so I skip a blogging day. I wonder if I just need to look a little harder for good things that are happening in my life? Am I focusing too much on the difficult things and the annoying, hurtful people and the small disappointments?
  • I was sitting in the big red chair watching TV tonight and thinking that I'm just pissing my life away sitting in front of the TV. There are so many things that are more productive, and more than just that - things I that I enjoy doing more, than flipping through the guide on the TV simply waiting for time to pass until something good comes on.
  • So I got myself up out of the comfy chair and into my craft room and finished the fun-and-done quilt.
  • It was fun. And now it's done. And I love it. It's warm, and colorful. And it's finished! It will no longer live in the corner of my crafting room silently castigating me for its unfinished state.

Today, as I was finishing up the Big 2-Hour Thanksgiving Dish-Washing Marathon which always follows the Big 3-Hour Thanksgiving Cooking Marathon, my Little Friend came in and asked me, "What's for dinner?".

He's a funny, funny guy.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The only way

to eat an entire elephant is one bite at a time.

I'll back up a bit first. About a year or so ago my friend Tori started making a Baltimore Album quilt. (Obviously that's not her quilt - it's just a sample of what I'm talking about, in case you don't know. And if you're not a quilter there really isn't any reason why you would know.) She was taking a class once a month to learn how to make the blocks. From my vantage point as a beginning quilter I thought it looked hard. It looked to me like the kind of thing that would take you your whole life to make. Like it would be your life's work, you know? Like at the end of your life, God would ask you, "What did you do with your life?" And you would say something like, "Take a look at my quilt!" And God would say, "Oh, yes. I see. Well done!"

I'm serious.

Also, taking a class to learn how to make a particular kind of quilt was something I couldn't really get my mind around. It's seemed like something you would do only if you were a really hard-core, talented, dedicated, accomplished, experienced, real artist-quilter. Like some sort of cabal of inner-circle quilters who take classes. It sounds ridiculous now, and I'm not sure why I thought I could never take a quilt class. But I did think that.

Today I'm starting a Baltimore Album quilt class. I've purchased and prepared all my fabric and I'm going to give it a try. I got permission from my mother who said to me, "You could take a class" in a very casual way while we were at the quilt show and I was admiring a Baltimore Album-style pattern. She said it like that is something regular people do. Really? I had already seen that she had done it, and her quilt turned out beautifully. So I bought the pattern and thought about it. The pattern was only a few dollars and I figured I could sell it at a yard sale if I never figured it out.

Well, I took myself up to the quilt shop and signed myself up for lessons. That's my lesson book and fabric in the picture. (My mom's quilt is beautiful rich jewel tones, and Tori's fabrics are a little different but also lovely deep purples and reds and greens. I decided to go with Autumn colors so they won't think I'm copying them.) The class meets once a month for a year and the theory goes that at the end of the year I will have enough skills to make 12 basic blocks. It might take me my whole life to make this thing, and I really hope I enjoy hand-applique because a whole life is a long time to spend on something you don't like doing. I don't know that it will turn out to be some epic thing that I did in my life. But it feels that way today this morning as I get ready to start. I'm nervous and excited. I also feel like a poser. And a bit little ridiculous as well - it IS only a sewing class!

You know?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Buttercup, in buttercup

When I found this soft, buttery yellow yarn I knew it had to be knitted into something for my favorite little Buttercup! It's taken a long time, and some studying, and some back-tracking, and a lot of thinking and re-thinking to get through it, but it's done! And just in time for some really chilly weather.

I'm glad that sweet little girl looks good in yellow. What a lovey she is!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

B is for the blankie

that I wanted to make for Buttercup. ("Make" may be too strong a word - I hemmed a big rectangle of fleece.) When I bought the fleece I noticed that it had the letter B all over it which of course made it just perfect for our dear little B. Then while we were standing in line to buy it my bff D pointed out to me that it also had a lot of a's and y's. Oh well. B is for Baby. The blankie is all done and it's soft and fleecy and sweet-smelling. Just in time, because...

B is also for Buttercup, who is coming to Grammie's house! Tomorrow! I won't be here but I'll be hurrying back. A big Thank You to Buttercup's mama for coming to take care of Uncle Jake while I'm gone.

B is also for Brrrr. It's turned chilly here. I know it's just for a little while but it was enough incentive to hurry up and finish Buttercup's blankie before she gets here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

10 things

making me happy right now:

  1. It's Friday. Hello!
  2. It took less than half the time I thought it would to pack up a friend's kitchen this morning(she's moving.)
  3. So I had time to have lunch with my BFF. Donna and tacos and Diet Dr. Pepper. Ahhhhh.
  4. Did you know that they have new taco sauce at Taco Bell? It's green. Yum -0.
  5. My kitchen floor is freshly mopped.
  6. The spots in the carpet are scrubbed out. (Why are the spots always right in the middle where you can see them the moment you walk into the room? Nobody ever dribbles behind the couch. It's annoying.)
  7. Tonight I'm going over to a new friend's house to start on Buttercup's scrapbook. I've been looking forward to it for a couple of weeks and it's finally here.
  8. I've got my comfy jeans on.
  9. Mr. Dub comes home from his business trip tonight.
  10. Purple and orange and green in the flower pots on the front porch. Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What I want right now

more than anything is to have one whole day where I don't have anyone expecting me to be somewhere or solve some problem or do any particular thing, but I could still manage to retain enough self-discipline and presence of mind to do something that I love. So that even though I might have a whole day without obligations to fulfill, it would still be productive and valuable and memorable.

The really ironic part is that I could choose almost every single day to do exactly that. It seems like at the end of every week I think that "next week is wide open for me - I can do this and that and finally get around to the other" and then Monday morning rolls around and my whole week, every single day, is filled nearly to the brim, and in the spare moments that do occur I seem to always choose "nap" or "Project Runway" or "facebook" instead of choosing to do something that I love which is productive and valuable and memorable.

I feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities offered to me, overwhelmed by the number of choices I have, and overwhelmed by the sight of so many people in so much trouble who really honestly do need attention and care and help.

It's 12:30 am. My steadfast Mr. Dub is out of town. It's been a tough week that included a car accident, a misunderstanding, a last minute this-is-going-to-take-all-night school project, an ambush by a swarm of mosquitoes, and high pollen levels. I'm itchy, tired, cranky, and a little bit lonesome. Those are bad circumstances in which to blog, and while I know that, I can't seem to help it tonight.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Baby, in black

Avery likes her poncho. She looks so cute in black that I'm definitely making the matching hat to go with the poncho.

I had this sweet baby all (mostly) to myself this last week. What an absolutely dreamy little girl! She is so fun and so silly. She learned two tricks this week - how to shake her head "no" quite emphatically, and how to make a funny sound with her tongue.

Because Avery was here, and we stayed up most nights partying, I got nothing done all week. Mr. Dub is out of town this week so I'll have lots of time to catch up on things.

I'd rather play with Buttercup.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Whatcha doin'?

Black poncho, knitted with cables and twists, Caron Simply Soft 100% acrylic.

It looks huge to me in the picture but it's little. And it's for our sweet little Buttercup.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Come on in and stay awhile

Well, I never got around to sweet and lemony today, but I had a very busy and gratifying day just the same.

I had meetings this morning before church, then a short nap after church. I love a good Sunday afternoon nap. The truth is that I take at least a short nap almost every day - for some reason Sunday naps are especially nice.

Part of my responsibilities as Relief Society president include visiting the new ladies who move into our congregation, and visiting sick people in the hospital. I actually really love these two Relief Society jobs.

Tonight I visited with a woman who moved in a couple of months ago. We had a meaningful, uplifting, insightful, and hilarious time.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What is it about lemon tart?

Remember a long, long time ago when I posted about lemon tarts, and how they make the world seem good?

Easily half of the new visits I get to my blog are referred here by someone who has googled "lemon tart".

I get a kick out of that. I also get a kick out of lemon tarts. Tomorrow I'll have a sweet and lemony recipe for you.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Review

Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood.

I bought the book for a few cents at the used book store, which is kind of a hit-and-miss thing. I've had it for over a year, I think, and just now got around to it.

It is freaky.

I couldn't put it down. It's been a long time since I've read a book like that. It's definitely a keeper - a book that I'll read again and again. Not because it's a "feel good" kind of book, just that the characters are so interesting and so...I don't know...real. I felt transported to the scene somehow, like it was all playing out in front of me. I cared what happened to these people. And I love it when that happens.

It's based on a true but sketchy story about a woman in the 1800's (falsely?) accused of murdering her employer and his housekeeper.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The quilting

aka "my stash". And a few works-in-progress.

I hope, now that I've got everything out in the open, that many of my works-in-progress will become finished items.

I've got a cold, which is a bummer, but it's making me (or giving me a good excuse!) stay home and do crafts!

Wait till you see what's on the knitting needles at this very moment! It's too cute for words.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The sewing...

and the stamping...and the beading...and the card-making.
I need a good chair that I can use while sewing. A rolling chair with a padded seat and back that's the perfect height.
Because a kitchen chair dragged in from the other room is just not getting the job done.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

It's not Hoarding.

Is it? But it undoubtedly can be classified as an obsession. Yarn! Fibers! Textiles!

Over the last couple of weeks I've been getting all my crafting supplies out of my bedroom closet and turning my unused front room into - get this! - a STUDIO!

Well, not really a studio yet. Right now it's more like a workroom. It needs some additional storage solutions, some cheerful curtains, some really fun art on the walls and a good, comfortable work chair before I can officially call it a studio. But it's getting there.

I remember so vividly that when we moved into our home 15 years ago I vowed I would have nice furniture in my front room within 10 years. It seems dumb now but hey, it's how I got through the days. Of course it didn't happen - 10 years after we moved in I had been teaching seminary for a couple of years and my front room was a classroom. It stayed that way for a couple more years after that. And ever since I stopped teaching seminary the front room has been kind of a blank space where the boys play their video games. The uselessness of the room bothered me but I wasn't really sure what to do in there. Nice, new furniture seems kind of silly at this point - we never sit in there. Because after 15 years we are firmly entrenched in the family room. And it's not like we ever have the Governor over or anything like that where we'd feel uncomfortable making him sit on our holey family room couch.

So I've claimed the space as my own. It's a little weird, yes, having it all out in the open right by the front door. But it's my house and I'm a crafter. If you're offended by the sight of craft supplies you can stay on the front porch.

I'd like to state for the record that most of this yarn I inherited from my grandmother. Tomorrow I'll show you the sewing area.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I haven't been blogging...

but I have been busy doing other things. Stay tuned for details on what "other things" includes.

I finished this hat and mittens for my darling, adorable, and oh-so lovable niece C. She picked out the yarn when I visited her this summer - it matches a jacket she got for school.

Tomorrow they go in the mail, and just in time for the cooler weather!

( In case you're wondering just how awesome I am, let me tell you. The directions for the hat were written for straight knitting needles. I got a good way along on it with straight needles and realized that the variegated yarn was creating a pattern that I didn't like. So I ripped it all out and started again using circular knitting needles. I had to improvise and convert the directions (I'm a beginner - remember that!) and had to buy (and learn to use!) some double-pointed needles in order to finish it when the hat started getting smaller at the top. I'm starting to feel like I'm getting the hang of knitting. Don't you think that getting the hang of knitting is such a square, old-lady thing to do? Oh well. I'm an awesome old lady!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Putting things by...

I used to have a sweet poem about "putting things by" but now I can't find it.

Today I made jam out of a big pile of fresh strawberries. It took about an hour and it was kind of fun for a change. It's been a long time since I made jam, and each time I do I get a weird little thrill when I look at the filled jars all lined up. I can't explain it.

Anyhow, we're all set to enjoy the taste of last summer in the dead of next winter.

(Well, we do have at least one day usually at the end of January or the first part of February where it could rightfully be called "the dead of winter".)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The face

that has yet to launch a thousand ships, but has already inspired a thousand declarations of love and devotion.

My Little Friend tells me at least 10 times a day how much he loves our little "Butter Butter". And sure, that says a lot about how lovable our dear Buttercup is, but it also speaks volumes to how sweet an uncle Jake is.

Those lashes - wow.

Monday, September 13, 2010

If I had a million dollars

would it be anywhere close to enough to buy this lovely horse farm? It's for sale right now in Magnolia, Texas.

I don't dare look at the advertised price. So I can just keep dreaming that my imaginary million dollars would be enough. Cousin Lucy could play Cowgirl Princess for real, and wouldn't Buttercup look simply adorable on a pony?

Goodnight, everybody.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Blue States and the Junk Drawer

You have a junk drawer too, right? I'm not the only person with a dirty little secret hiding in the kitchen, right?

Yesterday pretty much lost me at daybreak. I wasn't okay. I don't know what was wrong because there wasn't anything really wrong. I was blue. For no reason.

For me, the surefire fix to the state of "blue" is to clean something out. I've found this to be true so many times that I've often wondered if it's the hidden, cluttery messes that exist here and there in my house that occasionally bums me out and leaves me feeling blue and sick and tired of it all.

Whatever. The point is, when I'm feeling that "sick of the whole world" feeling, making some part of the house tidy usually makes me feel better. And it did yesterday. I tackled the junk drawer. Here's the actual, unretouched "Before" (there's no need to laugh, or be shocked or horrified because this is a reality blog, not a fantasy blog):

And here is the lovely, peaceful, useable "After":

I get into this drawer at least three times every single day, and on days I need batteries or a screwdriver or to sharpen a pencil, it's more than that.

I do believe it will be a much more pleasant, much less aggravating experience now. For the investment of about $3 for the small baskets and an hour's work, I went from blue and frustrated to calm and organized. That's a pretty good return!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Did you know this?

Some days I am sick, just sick, to death of myself and I'd give anything, anything, to not be the me that I am.

For no other reason than the seams of my clothes are bothering me and my hair seems to be thinning and I've got a great big zit forming in the center of my forehead, a la Cyclops.

I'll be back tomorrow with a more sunny disposition. I'm just sure of it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

thriving versus surviving

I was introduced to this way of thinking about food storage about a year ago: If you had to live for an extended period of time (say a few months) only on the resources you currently possess would you survive or would you thrive?

I knew without even looking at my currently-in-my-possession resources that it would be pure survival, baby.

So I've set about changing that. For food storage I got some ideas and some help from a friend of mine and started purchasing some freeze-dried products like vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and other things to go along with my beans, wheat, rice, and oats. I've been getting them from a company called Shelf Reliance, and the cool part is that freeze-dried food (cool part, freeze-dried, hahaha. I crack myself up) has a longer shelf-life (approx. 25 years!) than dehydrated food. So even when I don't use it up super quickly by incorporating it into our daily menus, it's still good.

I'm not necessarily promoting Shelf Reliance, because I'm sure there are other companies that are just as good, but this place has a program called "Q" that lets you buy a little bit every month on an ongoing basis. They will figure out what to send you, or you can figure it out yourself, and something comes to your house once a month. I've been participating in the online program for a few months now, and my available resources are beginning to grow.

(I've had so much fun looking at all the items they have available that it's ridiculous. It's like shopping without have to get dressed and find your shoes.)

So, if tough times come, or natural disasters, or economic crises, or whatever, I am prepared to thrive. I have brownie mix in my food storage, people. You can see it in the picture, over on the right.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The agony and the ecstasy

I've been knitting on this adorable pleated skirt for our sweet little Buttercup. It's a little bit harder than my comfort zone and I've had to learn some new things, including knitting in the round, in order to make the pleats.

The first time I started it I got six rows done (approaching 2000 stitches) before I realized it was irreversibly twisted in spite of repeatedly making sure that it was not twisted. I had to pull it all out and start over. Oh, the agony...

I started over, however, and got quite a way along, making absolutely positively sure it wasn't twisted before I realized that I had dropped a stitch/made a mistake/blown it all somehow. Oh, the agony...

Instead of ripping it all out and starting over yet again, which I didn't really have the heart to do, I decided I might as well figure out how to fix knitting mistakes. Because this little skirt started out with more than 300 stitches per row and dozens upon dozens of rows, odds were good that I wasn't going to get through the whole thing without any more mistakes. It took me a few tries, and some worry, and a few more tries, but I fixed my mistake. Maybe not perfectly, and maybe not the exact right way that a more experienced knitter would do, but I can't find where the stitch was dropped/mistake was made/the whole thing was somehow blown. Oh, the ecstasy!

I've made a few more mistakes since then, and when I come across them, I fix them. I'm getting better at it. I've realized that whenever I see a hand-knitted item of clothing that the knitter probably didn't get through it without making any mistakes - she probably made some mistakes but she fixed them as she came to them. You don't have to be perfect the very first time, and it's a little bit crazy to start completely over if an error is repairable. Oh, the ecstasy!

I might be a real knitter when all of this is over. I never thought I would be. And for sure, our dear little Buttercup will have a very cute pleated skirt to wear this fall and next spring. I'm as proud as I can be about this skirt - I don't care if the pattern is labeled "easy" or not. Oh, the ecstasy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Learning to do it right

In all the directions for knitting anything, one of the first things it says is "BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE". Just like that - in all caps.

Which always really worried me because I had no idea what "gauge" was or how to check it.

Until now.

Mr. Dub gave to me at Christmas a book of baby sweater knitting patterns that I had especially wanted. Little did I know how helpful and instructive it would turn out to be. In the back there are all sorts of handy tips and tricks including (are you ready?) what in the world "gauge" is and exactly how to check it.

It's not really that hard. And while I think that later on, after I've become really good at knitting, I won't need to check my gauge on every single thing I make, I think it might be fun to make a record of all the knitted things I've worked on including the swatch I've made in order to "CHECK MY GAUGE", who I gave it to, what pattern and type of yarn I used, etc.

This handy-dandy book of patterns also includes a chart explaining all the different weights of yarn, what size needles you will probably use for any particular weight, and a guideline for the gauge you can expect with that yarn and those needles.

Three cheers for Mr. Dub! He didn't know what he was doing when he bought the book, but he followed my instructions when I told him which one to get.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's for dinner?

Tacos, that's what. I love tacos. Tacos are delicious. Beef tacos, chicken tacos, or fish tacos - it doesn't matter. Yes, please!
I could eat tacos for dinner 3 times a week and be okay with it.
The rest of my family, not so much.

Monday, August 23, 2010

little dresses for pretty girls

Our Copperfield Relief Society did a service project not too long ago where we turned pillowcases into dresses. They are for Little Dresses for Africa, and I think it's such a cool idea. After the evening we spent working on them there were still several that hadn't been done so I took some of them home to work on. I finished up the last of the ones I had this weekend.

Soon they'll be on their way to Africa!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

wise words from Honest Abe

"When I do good, I feel good..." - Abraham Lincoln

I heard about a family in my area who are expecting their first baby very soon. They are new to our country and don't speak any English. They are far from family and friends with very few resources and no baby gear for their first son.

I had some fabric that was given to me by a friend, and I made this quilt for the little baby boy that is soon to be born.

It really is true that you love those you serve. It's interesting how you have to at least begin the service first before you start to feel the love. I poured into this little quilt all the good wishes and tender feelings I had while working on it. I have no idea who this little guy is, or who his parents are, but I hope that good fortune and blessings follow them throughout their lives.