Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Pinterest Dinner

So, last night was supposed to be felt night. I had big plans for my felt food collection. I was going to add lots of pieces for upcoming birthdays. But I decided I wanted some recipes from Pinterest for dinner. I had left some chicken tenders in the fridge to thaw, so I needed a chicken inspiration. Off I went to look at my boards. I hit pay dirt. Chicken rolls with asparagus, southwestern stuffed sweet potatoes, and roasted garlic-Parmesan cauliflower. If any of that sounds like it would tempt you, please follow the links to the recipes. (The southwestern sweet potatoes come from one of my favorite recipe blogs, Pennies on a Platter.)

Unfortunately, the cauliflower was the easiest of all the recipes, in that it required no pre-cooking. I ended up spending a little over 2 hours in the kitchen working on dinner. Now, don't get me wrong, it was all delicious and worth it. But 2 hours for a regular dinner, for just me and the hubs? Bit ridiculous. Especially when I have school work that needs to be dealt with before I can move on the fun crafty part of the evening.

But here are the pics of my 2 hour dinner (not counting the time it took the sweet potatoes to cook in the oven!)

I used shredded pepper jack cheese in the chicken rolls, to give it a kick. Delicious!

Ran into some problems with this recipe, however. First, I cut into my sweet potatoes to discover they are white sweet potatoes. Which, as research turned up, are actually "real" sweet potatoes, they just have a milder flavor. Then, I went to get the black beans from the pantry...and there were no black beans. I always have black beans. They are a staple in my cooking. How in the world I ended up with no black beans is a mystery. So, my only options were to venture back out into the cold night to buy black beans, or improvise. Let me just be the one to tell peas do NOT substitute well for black beans. To start with, they required way more salt than I would normally add, and they lack flavor (which is why most people cook black-eyed peas with a ham hock!)

Even if you are not a cauliflower lover, I suggest you try this! This bowl was heaping with roasted veggies, but by the time I actually finished cooking the meal, this is all that was left! They are THAT good. I could make and eat them everyday. And I just might.

So, after all that work, I never did get to work on the felt food. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cross-stitch Progress

The last time I posted about the Christmas cross-stitch piece, this is what she looked like. I said I was down to the last sixth of the main design, and I hoped to be either working on the backstitch or  even have it completed by the end of January. That was last year. Clearly, that plan fell through.

But with the new crafting schedule in place, this is where I am now. Now, don't be fooled. I didn't do all of this yesterday. I should have actually had more worked, but I was lazy, and didn't begin until almost 8pm. Some of that was done last January. Or sometime thereafter. I didn't work on it much after writing that post. I don't know what happened. Cross-stitch just takes so much effort to get out all the supplies, keep them organized, figure out where to go next in the pattern....and I have so many other projects that are much easier to pick-up and put back down at the end of the night. 

But that's no excuse. So I am determined to finish it. I just won't give myself a deadline. But I will say that every Monday (or whatever day I end up with, just in case I decide to rearrange my schedule) I will be working on this project until it is complete. 

Process/progress successfully updated. Yay!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Year of Crochet

On Friday, I posted my weekly schedule of crafts. I know it may seem like overkill to plan out when I'm going to work on projects, but I have so many ideas and projects that I want to get to. If I don't come up with a way to get to them in a way that allows me to complete them all (while not getting tired of working on the same project all the time), I will end 2013 with all these WIPs, plus more, I'm sure. 

If you paid attention, you noticed that there are two days listed for crochet. Three years ago, when I started this blog with the intent to clean out my craft closet, I decided I was going to finish the one crochet blanket I had in the boxes, and then donate the rest of my yarn and hooks to a close friend who crocheted. (I still haven't finished that blanket, btw). But things change. One of my friends is 21 weeks pregnant, and she has requested that her baby blanket not be a quilt. So I started a project for her...
That's all the peek you get for now. She's having a gender reveal party soon, so I'll know how to finish it off, and you'll get a finished picture after she gets it.
Then the unexpected happened. One of my aunts passed away last year. She loved to crochet (I still have the baby blanket she made for me when I was born. I'm saving it...) and she loved to shop on sale. She had boxes of yarn...boxes. Each box full of only one color. She used to make the blankets and store them, giving them away to other cancer patients she would meet. She also made wedding afghans (I have one of those too, it's beautiful), and baby blankets. But my cousins are not       crafty people, so they offered to have some of the "crafty" members of our family come down and select supplies they would take back. I ended up with several bags and boxes of yarn, but I didn't know what I was going to do with them for a few weeks. 

Turns out I had enough baby yarn to make several blankets. Plus, she had several blankets already finished, or near completion. So, what was I going to do with all this? I didn't feel right giving away blankets she had made to my own friends, and I also didn't feel right making blankets from her yarn to give to friends. After discussing it with the hubs, we came up with the perfect solution. I'm going to make up the blankets this year, and then donate them to a local women's shelter. Most of the women show up at those shelters with nothing but the clothes on their back and what they could toss into their purses. Many times they arrive with small children, and sometimes, they are pregnant. These women and children deserve a little something special and homemade. 

Then I realize that I could do that with even the regular yarn! Make up the blankets and give them to one of the local charities. So 2013 is the year of the skein. ( rhymes!) If I'm going to achieve this goal, I need at least 2 days a week to work on these blankets. And I also have that crafter's choice day, so sometimes that can give me 3 days of crochet. 

Piles of yarn. 

This was one of the completed blankets. All I needed to do was finish off and weave in the ends.
Two more completed blankets. I especially love the one on the left. Those little fuzzy tufts are just so cute!
This one was not quite complete, but I couldn't figure out all of the stitches without the pattern, so I found a fun border that seemed to match the rest of the blanket, and used that to complete it.
This was how I found this blanket. Thankfully, I was also able to find most of the yarn she used. I actually had to make one of the stars on the right. Betcha can't tell which one!
Here is the finished blanket. I was unable to find one of the yarns she used, and had to substitute with a near approximation. It doesn't quite match, but you have to look for it to find it. But I think it looks good anyway.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Schedules and Thundersnows

Here it is, two weeks later, and I must say, I'm doing pretty well. I'm not always walking to the store (who could when it was pouring down rain) but I have made it to the gym to make up some of those days. Subbing at the high school makes it very easy to achieve 5,000 steps before I even leave the building, and some days, half of my stairs as well. But even more importantly (at least for this blog;) is that I have been working on more projects each day, and making progress on each one

The current schedule is:
Sunday: crochet
Monday: cross-stitch
Tuesday: felt
Wednesday: quilting/sewing
Thursday: crochet
Friday: scrapbooking
Saturday: crafter's choice

Now, for this week, Monday and Wednesday fell through. But the rest of the week I have actually worked on each project and made progress. I have progress pics and updates, as well as new plans and ideas, but today I wanted to leave you with something else.

No matter where you live, snow is a beautiful thing. At least the first snow of the season. Then it gets old. But here in the southeast, we just received our first snow. It even made the national news last night. Some places got as much as 6 inches, but we only got about 3 (it's still enough to have cancelled school for the day! Southerners don't know how to drive in the snow.) Where we are, the bulk of the snow came down in the first hour and a half, but we saw snow for about 5 hours. Big, fat, wet snowflakes that covered everything. So I leave you with those pictures. Because it's beautiful, and today, it is melting. So I want it to last.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A No-Resolution New Year

This is the time of year everyone make grandiose resolutions that will somehow "change their lives." But by the end of January, most of those goals have long since been set by the wayside, and we're back to living exactly like we were at the end of the previous year. My own BIL is serious about his working out all year long, and he has the muscles to show for it, but he HATES January, because he says he can never find open machines due to all the "New Year's goals" to lose weight or be more active. He's a big fan of February, when all of them have returned to the couch and their potato chips. (Don't laugh! You know what I'm talking about. You've probably been one of the people keeping him from his workout. I know I sure have been guilty of the exact offense.)
So this year, I vowed not to make a resolution. Does that mean I don't want to change things in my life? Nope. OF course not. For one, I would like to be a more consistent blogger. I know I say it all the time, but the truth is, I like the release I feel when I've posted something about my crafts and how my life is going. It's cathartic. For another thing, I would love to lose weight (wouldn't we all?). I would love to keep my house cleaner. Eat healthier. Complete more crafts. Be more organized in general. The list could go on forever.
What am I doing instead? Making a weekly promise to myself. This week, I have promised to:
            1) Cook every meal at home.
               2) Walk to the grocery store (half a mile from my house) each day to buy only     the ingredients for that meal.
3) Spend at least 45 minutes cleaning something in the house.
4) Then, and only then, may I sit on the couch to work on a craft project.
And so far, I've done it! Ok, I know it's only Monday, but I did it! I walked to the store, came back, put in a load of laundry, folded and put away a load, cleaned and refilled the cat box, swept out the "cat room", and now have dinner cooking in the oven. Which means I have today's success to look back on tomorrow, encouraging me to reproduce the same!
There are other things I am working on to make my life generally more organized, again following The Nest Effect in some of her ideas like I tried to do last year. I am adapting them to my own needs, and working on some schedules for myself. I think that these plans will keep me more on task, and off my butt more. I encourage you to try to set a smaller goal for yourself if you find that keeping the "New Year's Resolutions" is too hard, like I do. Set a goal that can easily be achieved, which will get you excited about reaching for a more difficult goal. Hopefully, we can find ourselves doing more than we ever thought possible by taking baby steps to reach our goals!