Monday, October 26, 2009

Some recent projects

I've been working on lots more burp cloths lately, and here are pictures of some of the completed versions. I've made SO many more than this, but every time I make some, I forget to take pictures! Gasp! I'll be taking more of the ones I'm currently making, as well as some fabric samples today. So I'll post those as soon as I get them uploaded . In the meantime, here are a few that I have (excuse the bad lighting, Italian homes aren't the greatest for natural light).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Because I'm addicted ...

Okay, so when my husband finds fifty thousand dollars on our credit cards, spent at The ScrapBox website, he can't blame me. His only option is to find Kelsey from Vanilla Joy, and hold her responsible!

Browsing through their website, looking for the item I want when I win Kelsey's contest, I found this little goodie:

Now isn't that the greatest idea?!? I'm always trying to figure out where to put my ice water when I'm crafting, and that's just the cutest idea! Just yesterday, I ended up spilling an entire (40 oz) cup of ice water all over my husband's freshly washed cammies because I put my cup on the less-than-balanced ironing board. I thought it would be out of the way, but all I had to do was brush by, and then, oops!

At only $19.95, I may just get one of these doohickies even if I don't win. My sanity, and my husband's cammies, will be greatly served!

OMG! Isn't this amazing?!?

Over on Vanilla Joy, there is a contest to win this beautiful treasure! As I'm typing, drool is running down my chin. I would give several people's left legs to have one of these! The ideas that are already running through my head are enough to scare my husband into never letting me near a craft store again!

Anyway, head on over, and sign up for this contest. One lucky person will win the whole shebang! And there are other prizes too! Check it out!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quote of the Day ...

"The good mother, the wise mother ... is more important to the community than even the ablest man; her career is more worthy of honor and is more useful to the community than the career of any man, no matter how successful."

Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I need to get better about this ...

It seems I've been multitasking a little too much lately, thinking that "divide and conquer" would be the best way to handle things. Apparently, that mean divide Janie and conquer nothing!

Anyway, I'm trying to consolidate several blogs, limit the things I do get involved in, minimize my projects (including just plain finishing some of them), and giving up those things that don't mesh with my life right now. In the meantime, please bear with me while I figure things out.

In addition to all this, I want to attempt to blog better. I've decided that one of the things I want to focus on is my baby gifts and crafting, so I want to use this blog for that.

Along those lines, I heard about a giveaway for a complete blog makeover that I am uber excited about! This blog could certainly use it, since I have all these great layout ideas, and lack the knowledge to actually put them into practice. Check out the details of the giveaway here. I believe you can also click on the button I added in the sidebar. Either way, I'll be keeping an eye open for an opportunity to use Jennisa's genius at some point in the future!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Project Update

So I read entirely too many blogs. What can I say, I find inspiration from other people, and I can't seem to get enough inspiration. Unfortunately, that inspiration has caused me to start innumerable projects that I have never finished. I have several lists of projects to get done, but rarely "find the time" to do them.

So when I read about the Project Procrastination Party on The Inspired Room, I decided that, even though I'm going back home during this time, I still have tons of projects that I can catch up on, or even just get more work done on, during the same timeframe.

I've still yet to come up with a list of things I want to finish/work on, as I have a to-do list a mile long that I'm avoiding (yes, I'm the ultimate procrastinator), but I'll put it up soon.

In the meantime, I need to get my butt up from the computer and go clean some dishes and start on dinner while the little one is asleep.

P.S. For those reading this in Google Reader, I apologize for the influx of posts. I combined another of my blogs with this one, and it created a new post for every post I brought over. Sorry!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Foodie Fights

I've been following a blog for a while, called "Macheesmo." It's highly entertaining, and I am regularly in awe at the great cooking projects that Nick comes up with to try. So when he posted about this new idea, Foodie Fights, I was stoked!

Here are the basics: several blogs are chosen to compete, given two ingredients and a few rules, and tasked with making a dish with those ingredients and blogging about it. The entries are judged by popular vote (with two guest judges, for fairness), and a winner is chosen! This week’s challenge was potatoes and lemons. So here’s my entry:

Gnocchi e carciofi al limone (or, Gnocchi and artichokes in lemon sauce)

The ingredients:

Approx. 2 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
Approx. 1 ½ cups flour
Salt to taste
The potatoes are easiest to deal with if blanched instead of boiled. The easiest way to do this is to boil a large pot of water and put the diced potatoes in either a blanching basket or a colander, just above water level. Cover the lid and let the water boil. The steam will cook the potatoes. You want them firm to the touch, but soft enough to poke through with a fork. Mine took about 15-20 minutes.

Here is a picture of the potatoes blanching:

… and done …

After your potatoes are blanched, pour them into a large bowl, salt them liberally, and hand-mash (you can also put them through a potato ricer, but alas, I don’t have one).

Add the flour, about 1/3 cup at a time, until the mixture is firm, smooth, and no longer sticky. You may need more/less flour, depending on the moisture of your potatoes, and the relative humidity of your kitchen. Mine took quite a bit, a little more than 2 cups.

With two small spoons, roll a small amount of the mixture between the spoons to create an oblong oval shape. At this point, you can score them with a fork, but it is optional.

Once formed, drop the gnocchi into boiling water. Each piece will drop to the bottom, then float a moment later. Let them float for about 2 minutes (about 3-4 minutes total cooking time), then strain them out and place on a paper towel or cheesecloth to dry.

I completely neglected to get a picture of them boiling, but here they are when done.

Unfortunately, home-made gnocchi isn’t always the prettiest. But it is pretty darn tasty, and highly satisfying knowing you made them yourself!

Lemon Sauce with Artichokes
4 Tablespoons salted butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
Fresh basil leaves
2 cups cream (can also use half and half for a lighter version)
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of oregano
10 ounce jar artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and chopped

Grate lemons on zester and set aside.

To juice lemons, roll them under your palm on a flat surface. This helps release the juice from the rind.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add garlic and lemon zest, sautéing until highly aromatic and garlic is browned. Add lemon juice and sauté another minute.

Remove browned garlic from pan.

Add 2-3 shopped basil leaves, then cream and spices.

Turn heat off and add artichokes, coating evenly in sauce.

Serve over warm gnocchi and top with 2-3 basil leaves for garnish!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My husband, the pastry chef!

We both had a sweet tooth today, and since I had a multitude of cake mixes from a recent sale, we decided to make some cupcakes to satisfy them. It was actually a lot of fun, as it's been forever since I made cake mix cupcakes.

To my surprise, Neal came in the kitchen as I was preparing to frost them, asking if he could do it. So I handed over the pastry bag and ... voila!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pork Roast - in honor of the new "Stimulus" bill

Mommy's little helper

Before seasoning

All put together

I had a pork roast I was planning on making, and given how much "pork" was added to the new Stimulus bill, decided to make it for dinner last night. I'll be holding my tongue on getting any more political than that, otherwise this may become a long post.

And of course, on the first meal that I decide to photograph and blog about, I forget to take an "after" photo. Oh well, I'll just have to make it again. I guess we were just a little more focused on getting food in our bellies than getting pictures for my blog.

This was just a "throw together" roast. Ever since I was a kid, my mom made roasts like this, and they almost always turn out well. It's also super easy because it's made in an oven bag, so all you have to clean is the actual dish you cook it in. These days, I'm all about convenience.

Basically, I just placed the roast in the bag, then threw in a chopped onion, large carrot slices/chunks, potato chunks, and a few pieces of chopped celery for flavor. I lightly salted it (I use low-sodium salt), then added pepper and a fifteen ounce can of cream of mushroom soup. I then added about a half cup of fried onions and about 3/4 cup of water.

Tied up in the bag (with holes cut for ventilation), it went in a 300 degree oven for about an hour and thirty to forty-five minutes. I always use a meat thermometer to tell me when my meat is done (pork roast is done at 170 degrees). I find that it's the safest way to cook, but also ensures the best meat. That way, I can cook it just until it's done and not when it turns to rubber. The meat is more juicy, easier to cut, and much more tender. And with pork, that's always good.

It turned out great, and we had a good amount left over that will make for good lunches. I also made a green bean casserole with it because Neal loves it so much. You can't ask for an easier meal. Thank you Reynolds for this amazing cooking tool!

Here are the pictures:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My burp cloths!

I wanted to post pictures of the burp cloths that I made last year. Granted, the pictures/lighting/colors are awful. I'm hoping to get some better pictures with the next set I make. Right now, I'm working through some fabric I have that is discontinued, mainly for practice. I'm ordering more soon, and am still considering color schemes. I'm hoping to have some samples to photograph and post soon!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

So I've been slack ...

So now that I'm a mom, I'm realizing just how much I don't/won't get done each day. Granted, we're finally starting to develop a regular routine (thank God), but there is still so much to do in a day, and I find myself thinking each evening about all the plans I had for the day, and wondering where the time went.

The other day, I remembered a poem (by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton) that I'd heard several times, but that never made complete sense to me until recently. I understood the concept of it, but didn't realize just how true it is. Anyway, I've decided that this poem will be my motto while in the child-rearing season of my life:

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lull-a-bye, rock-a-bye, lull-a-bye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peek-a-boo

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lull-a-bye, rock-a-bye lull-a-bye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

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