Friday, August 9, 2013

DIY Crochet Project: Flower Power!

Flowers are blooming!  Well, maybe not in my garden - but they're definitely popping out of my yarn basket.  

I found a great little (free!) pattern, Maybelle Crochet Flower, that's available as a PDF in either UK or USA terms.  You might like it, too.  If you are a visual person, check out the photo tutorial My Rose Valley created.

This pattern is easy to follow and quick to memorize, so it's just right for when I'm watching TV or chatting.  And the flowers are small enough to take along when I go out.  

Maybelle Flowers

Wouldn't this flower pattern make a beautiful baby blanket for a little girl?  Rose flowers, or maybe a variety of pastel shades, with a cream border would be very pretty.  
Crochet hook: 4.50 mm

Wool: Vanna's Choice (Lion Brand) and Impeccable (Loops & Threads)

"The Plan": These little flowers will be bordered in green and turned into 7-inch squares for an afghan. I've simplified the square pattern My Rose Valley posted and now I'm thinking about how I'll join the squares and create a border.

It's enjoyable having another project on the go!  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Need organizing?

So, yesterday there was an email in my Inbox....

Banish Clutter and Get Organized!

A harsh message, don't you think, for first thing in the morning?  : )

It was from Better Homes and Garden and this week the email contained links to articles and slideshows on decluttering, organization and storage.

Top of the list was "Get Your Home Organized", a quick mini-tour of Jen Jones' home, featured on her blog, I Heart Organizing.

I've followed Jen's blog off and on for a number of years.  If you haven't checked it out, you should.  Her "Home Tour" shows in more detail how much she's accomplished with before & after pictures of the different rooms.  She's got some good ideas!

Revisiting Jen's blog gave me a giggle...  This week she's renovating her guest bathroom.  The pressure's on as company's coming in one week, but she plans to "tell all"... 

Why the giggle?  We've got our own little bathroom reno happening...  How many months has it been now?????  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Roast Beef Dinner...and a tomato salad

"Roast beef?" you ask. "All I can see are tomatoes.  What gives?"

True.  You see tomatoes.  

This, by the way, is one of the easiest "salads" imaginable.  And one of the best at this time of year, with tomatoes fresh from the garden.  

...sliced tomatoes

...drizzle on a little dressing, home made or a "good" bottled Italian

...sprinkle on olives and sliced green onions.

Can be made any size, perfect to take along to a potluck.

But, back to the roast beef!!

Last night, we had a "full meal deal" roast beef dinner.  I double-checked on the Internet for minutes per pound and discovered the following technique.  It works!  

1.  Remove roast from fridge and bring to room temperature. Note: I used a standing rib roast.

2.  Preheat oven to 500°.

3.  Sprinkle roast liberally with pepper, onion powder and other  seasonings.

4.  Place beef in pan (uncovered) and roast: 4 minutes per pound for rare; 5 minutes per pound for medium; 6 minutes per pound for well done.

5.  Turn oven off.  Leave roast in oven for two hours.  DO NOT OPEN OVEN DOOR.  

Our roast was very tiny and I was a bit leery about how it would turn out.  I must say I was extremely pleased with the results and I'm definitely going to try this again.  Sorry there isn't a picture!!

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Banana Blueberry Muffins... and a question

"Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?"
- Garth Nix, Sabriel

Maggie's Banana Blueberry Muffins
Yes.  A deep question.

But sit down and have a cup of coffee...

and a Blueberry Banana muffin!

Three things led to these little muffins.

1. It was unusually cool this morning. Baking was actually an option.

2. Blueberries have been an unusually cheap option this summer.

3. A banana spoke to me... an unusual event.

Banana Blueberry Muffins
*Based on a recipe for blueberry muffins by Jean Pare, Muffins & More
then modified by me (after the talking banana episode)

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 banana, mashed

Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg.
Mix in milk and vanilla.

NOTE: At this point I made eye contact with the banana...
so I mashed and threw him in, too!! 

1  3/4 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix dry ingredients.
Add to banana mixture.  Stir until moistened.

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon flour

Stir to coat blueberries with flour.
Fold gently into batter.
Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins.

Optional: Sprinkle nuts on top before baking.

So, did I choose the banana or did the banana choose me?

Happy baking,

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Two "Good Reads"

Is someone in your house at loose ends and looking for something to read?

Out in Left Field by Don Lemna and Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai are two books a middle school kid might enjoy reading this summer. Very different books, I enjoyed reading both.  They were the last two to circulate my way in our KidLit Club.

Don Lemna's story, Out in Left Field, is about growing up in rural America just after WWII.  An easy, folksy read, this book is quite humorous, especially in the second half.  It's a sequel to When the Sergeant Came Marching Home. 

Inside Out and Back Again is an award-winning book about a young girl who leaves Saigon as a war refugee and has to adapt to a new language and culture when she moves to Alabama.  The first page or two might seem a little strange - it's written in free-verse poems, but the language flows so well, it totally suits the story.  An excellent read!

Happy reading!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Community Supported Agriculture & Ice Cream Pail Pickles

Yesterday was Thursday.
This week's basket!

Farm Day...

Last winter, we decided to participate in Community Supported Agriculture.  For the first time in our area, a local family farm decided to venture into offering "shares".  Starting small, ten full  and ten half shares were available and we purchased (in advance) a half share.  

Our half share gives us about 18 weeks of fresh farm produce, picked up weekly from the farm.  The variety has been wonderful.  So far we've had multiple kinds of lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, beets, carrots, potatoes, yellow and green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, plus eggs and even fresh flowers.  

There are risks!  If we have hail, for example, "our" crop will suffer and the baskets won't be quite as full.  But so far (knock on wood), the weather has been great!

An interesting aspect of a farm share is how the harvest evolves over the season.  We had tons of spinach and lettuce at the beginning, but now it's WAY too hot for spinach and we've moved on to beans, carrots and cucumbers. We look forward to seeing what this week's basket holds and it has become a challenge to see what we can do with all those veggies.

This week's basket included cucumbers and the suggestion to try Ice Cream Pail Pickles.  Okay!!  The recipe provided is easy and quick.  (Note: I only made a quarter of the full recipe listed below.)

Ice Cream Pail Pickles
Ice Cream Pail Pickles

1 cup vinegar
2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup salt (pickling or regular)
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon mustard seed

Mix in an ice cream pail.
Do not cook!

8 cups thinly sliced cucumbers
1 cup thinly sliced onion

Add to bowl.  Stir and cover.
Store in fridge for a few hours before eating.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Flood of 2013

It's been exactly six weeks since I last posted.

In the morning, I wrote about chocolate cake and thought about a party I planned to attend that evening.

That afternoon, we were told to expect a monumental flood in our community. I started carrying everything in our home up to the top floor.  My husband, son and a friend built a berm like this one across a low point in our back yard.

The army moved in and constructed a berm to protect our neighbourhood.

And thirty-six hours later we were evacuated for five days.

Then we waited. 

We were so lucky, so very, very lucky.  Neighbours on both sides and every home on the street behind us had either sewage or flood damage.  Our home remained dry. I am so very thankful as  many lost everything.  Two hundred homes in our community are still uninhabitable.  

So, what have I been doing since I made that chocolate cake six weeks ago?  Well, we have been tidying, sorting, decluttering, organizing, labeling and containerizing EVERYTHING!  Sigh! What a kick-start to a job long overdue. But, no complaining!!  At least we HAVE a home.