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Monday, January 16, 2017

Menu Plan: January 15 - 21

There is a fellow bringing citrus up from California to our area each week, which is wonderful. We've been buying quite a lot and eating quite a lot. 40 pounds are entirely gone, and it took less than a week. We're getting 80 pounds this week.

Aside from our normal busy-ness, this week is another below freezing week of misery. I'm making meals that are about warmth and and comfort.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Yarn Along: Baby Steps

This week most of my knitting, what little there has been, has been making progress on Eve's Leaves. I even worked on it at the parent meeting for driver's ed. It needs blocking, and I'm starting on the leaf border. Starry, Starry Night just needs the cloud borders sewn down, I've gotten all the ends woven. That's all I've touched all week, though.

There are five days left on the designer challenge for the end of 2016. Please take a look at the great examples and vote for your favorite. Of course, I would appreciate the vote, but see which one you like best.

In other design news, Amira is at the tech editor's, and I may actually be able to get it released this spring! Ziyad (the design challenge entry) should be with the TE next week, and I'm hoping it will be ready to publish either right before or right after Amira. There are two other designs I have in process, too. One of them probably won't be released until next winter, but the other one is going out as soon as I have it ready.

The weather has been miserably cold and windy and icy and snowy (mostly blowing what was already here into impassable drifts), but that means I've been doing more reading and I'm almost finished with Birds of a Feather. I like these mysteries. They are more thoughtful than the average happy, little murder. Also, though the sleuth has supernatural senses, it is framed more as truly more than natural powers of observation.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Sunday, January 08, 2017

Menu Plan: January 8 - 14

Christ is illumined!

This week we get back to school and real life. This is the third day of the Octave of Epiphany and soon we will be living our ordinary lives. If you come here looking for some meatless options, there will be some from this week on again. There are several repeats this week, just because we ended up shifting menus and meals around considerably last week. We had miserable snow from Saturday afternoon on, so we decided to miss our evening church, which meant I had to think of a dinner for the family. This may also shift this week's schedule as well. Which is unfortunate, since we have school for Alexander, and ballet, and driver's ed, and I don't want to go out of our house.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Saturday, January 07, 2017

Christmas Cake

Christmas Cherry Nut Cake

I will always think of this as Mormon fruitcake. One of my mother's friends when I was in high school kind of adopted and looked out for us. I remember her bringing us food for Thanksgiving and Christmas, taking us on trips to the coast, bringing me a thoughtful graduation gift, welcoming us into her life, and in all ways truly loving us as a friend. She married again and moved away, and over the years I have lost contact with her. Carmen Nyberg, if you are out there, please get in touch with me! If you know a woman whose name was Carmen Nyberg (it's probably different now) who went to the LDS church in the River Road or Santa Clara area of Eugene, OR in the early to mid 90s, please see if you can bring us together again. I was always grateful for her friendship and kindness to us at a time when we had little and she brought us a bit of sunshine.

One Christmas, she brought us this version of fruitcake as a gift. It wasn't a proper, soaked in liquor, fruitcake, as she was a Mormon and didn't imbibe, and so it wouldn't store well, but it, too was sweet and rich and delicious. I know it's fashionable to hate fruitcake, but I really enjoy it. Carmen generously shared the recipe with me, and I have played with it over the years, so I thought I'd finally share the recipe here. Like all worthwhile fruitcakes, it must be thinly sliced to be properly enjoyed. Otherwise it will be cloyingly sweet and too rich to eat.

Carmen's recipe used candied fruits, and I have switched them to dried fruits. This means that they do need a little soaking, but in the spirit of her original, I have not used alcohol for that. Since I don't like us to consume the corn syrup, dyes and bleaches in most commercial maraschino cherries, I do specifically seek out the organic, all natural, not dyed version when I make this. This is a fruit cake, not a cake with fruit. There is just enough batter to bind the fruit and nuts together and not a bit more. You will want to bake this slowly and cool it completely before even attempting to slice it. I wouldn't even recommend cutting into it until at least the next day, actually, when the flavors have a chance to mingle well.

This recipe isn't written in a standard format. I instruct you to use three bowls, with the largest being added to from the other other two, so I will group the ingredients here to reflect that.

In a large bowl, mix together:

3 cups chopped walnuts
1/2 pound chopped, pitted dates (if you can't find them already chopped, you can whir pitted dates in your food processor or chop by hand)
2 cups marachino cherries, juice reserved
1 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Mix all fruit thoroughly with the nuts and stir in about 1/2 cup of the reserved maraschino cherry juice. Cover and let soak several hours, or overnight.

When you are ready to make the cake, preheat oven to 300 F and generously butter six jumbo muffin tin cups. You can use mini loaf pans, as well.

In a small bowl, mix together:

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Set aside.

In another small bowl, whisk together:

3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Set aside.

Give the fruit and nuts a stir and stir in the flour mixture. Add the egg mixture and combine completely. Portion into each of the cups equally and press down a little. This will not rise much at all, so fill the cups to overflowing just a little.

Bake between 50 and 60 minutes until completely cooked through the center. Allow to cool in pan on a rack for about 10 - 15 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool on the rack completely. If you wish to make two normal sized loaves, increase the baking time to about 1 1/2 hours.

Store in an airtight container up to a week.

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Thursday, January 05, 2017

Year End Tally and New Goals for the New Year

Each year I take stock of my accomplishments and come up with goals for the New Year. They are often fairly similar, but I try to make incremental changes, rather than a big shift that might not happen. So, this year, my goals are as follows:

2016 Finished Objects
2016 Books

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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Yarn Along: New Year

I worked on Eve's Leaves while we were out on our anniversary dinner. I kept waiting for someone to ask me about it. Nobody did!

The 2016 Indie Designer Gift-a-Long has come to a close. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work, and I'm already looking forward to participating in it again at the end of this year. I still have lots of WIPs (shouldn't it be WsIP?) from my run in it, and I am planning on getting them completed over the following few months. I hope to show you more from my Interwoven Mitts, Carlota Cabled Boot Cuffs (once I restart them with enough yarn), these beautiful Pride and Prejudice Mittens that I also have to restart because I was unhappy with the fabric I was getting with my needle size, and an old pattern of mine, Shower's This Weekend Baby Sweater. I'll be reknitting it to get better photography for my pattern, and I'm working on grading it to include more than one size.

I do have an entry in a designer challenge for the end of 2016. There are many great designs there. Please take a look and vote for your favorite. Of course, I would appreciate the vote, but peek and see which one you like.

I did get to pick up Birds of a Feather again, and I'm enjoying it. My goal is to put aside homeschool work and design work, and even fun stuff on the interwebs at night so I can read more and make real breaks in my daily schedule. I'm trying to approach my work, both with the kids and house and with design as a work day with structured hours, rather than being on all the time and burning out so quickly. This week, I'll post my year end review along with my crafting goals for the year. It will also include the list of books I've completed this year. It blows my mind that I only finished a single book in December.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Monday, January 02, 2017

Menu Plan: Eighth Day of Christmas through the Second Day of the Octave of Epiphany

Our week is almost bookended with two major feasts of the Nativity: The Feast of the Circumcision of Christ and the Feast of the Theophany, known as the Epiphany in the West. One, in which Jesus receives His name and is submitted by His Blessed mother and Saint Joseph to be under the Law. One, in which He is revealed to the world as God. I love how the readings for the Octave of Epiphany brings out all the ways His light is revealed, to His disciples in the Transfiguration, to the Magi who are shown signs to come seek and worship Him, to both Jews and Gentiles in His baptism, which also showed His deity and manifested the presence of all three Persons of the Trinity, to the steward at the wedding at Cana, when His mother's petition altered the timeline of His revelation to the world, and His first miracle was performed. Even though Christmas isn't the most significant feast of the Church year (it isn't even the second), I love how there are so many important feasts within it. And that is only considering the 12 days of the feast, and not the entirety of the season, which closes on the Feast of the Purification on February 2. I love how these feasts and practices teach the most important things to everyone, regardless of their intellectual capacity or age.

We ended last week with our anniversary, and though we had cancelled our more elaborate plans for our 20th wedding anniversary, I don't feel like we missed out on anything. Our favorite local restaurant, that specializes in mostly local and regional foods, seasonal menus, where every single item we have eaten, even things we don't normally like, has been exquisite, was having a fixed menu with wine pairings. I forgot to take pictures of everything until we were already on the fourth course, and I had eaten part of it. Rich had to keep me from going around to everyone else's table and photographing their food.

The menu for our evening. There was also a glass of champagne to begin the meal. Since they brought two, I drank Rich's.

I had a little bit of the grilled octopus and shrimp ceviche left (with even a tiny bit of the crab) and let the kids each have a taste of it the next day. They immediately wanted to go there to eat. Rich suggested that maybe we do a Mother's Day brunch there.

My grocery shopping this past week garnered some excellent deals. I was able to get French Compte cheese for less than $3.00 a pound, and some of the roasted onion and red pepper sausage we like for $0.99 a pound, as well as an excellent deal on Mandarin oranges. So, we are enjoying those quite a bit this week.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Yarn Along: End of the GAL and an Anniversary

Nejat's birthdayChristmasbirthdayChristmas starry night afghan is finally complete! I still need to weave in the ends and sew down the borders, but I am counting it as complete. She will be so happy to have it. I have one GAL project I'm working on now, Eve's Leaves. In my effort to work from stash, I am making it out of some teal and cream superwash merino I have left over from Hoar Frost. This is my 20th anniversary present to Rich, which was his favorite of my list of GAL projects. The traditional gift for 20 years is china, and I think we'll be finding a piece or two, but I think this one will be more memorable.

It's the last four days of the 2016 Indie Designer Gift-a-Long but it's not too late to join in the fun with us! It's shawl week on the blog. I think I mentioned that I picked up several. I'm highlighting a few more shawls I fell in love with from GAL designers:

by Faye Kennington

I actually bought this one before the GAL began. The border detail on this makes me so happy, and I even have enough stash yarn to make it already, so it's kitted up and there are great plans for it. Faye's designs tend to go toward either representations of nature or whimsy, and I like the style of both of those paths she takes. Check out her work - there is a stocking in her shop that I really like as well.

by Sarah Jordan

I've had my eye on this shawl since she first shared it in May. When it came out, I put it in my favorites, but I didn't buy it until the GAL. As I'm still trying to work from stash, and I wanted to make this in green, I dug around, and found a great green to blue yarn that I bought while on the quest for the perfect turquoise. It is waiting patiently to become this lovely creation. Sarah's use of texture and color are just up my alley, and usually have a little fun twist to them.

Sun in Glory
by Kate Poe

You may not know this, but I love all things celestial. I love suns, moons, stars, planets, comets, galaxies, you name it. They are also some of the only things I know how to draw. So, when I saw this, I knew it was going in my shopping cart. Kate is not exactly a new to me designer, but she hadn't been on my radar. That is a shame, because her shawls and other designs are truly lovely. I picked up her Titania shawl some years back, as well. She is someone whose work I will be watching.

We haven't been doing a lot of reading, but we've been on our annual Christmas movie binge. We've watched several Hanna Barbera cartoons, the Grinch, Charlie Brown, the Muppets' Christmas Carol, and we'll be on to Mr. Bean's Christmas show and It's a Wonderful Life, and the Claymation ones, the stop motion Rudolph, as well as Yogi Bear. It's a fun tradition for the 12 days of Christmas.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Menu Plan: The First Seven Days of Christmas

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath given rise to the light of knowledge in the world; for they that worshiped the stars did learn there from to worship thee, O Sun of justice, and to know that from the east of the Highest thou didst come O Lord, glory to thee.

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

This is the first day of Christmas, the day when the Eternal intersected with the temporal, when the One who created time entered it to reconcile us to Himself. The Incarnation is so important, and can be forgotten or misunderstood when we only see this as Jesus' birthday. He doesn't somehow turn 2000 some years today, and He didn't come to exist on that day 2000 years ago. He is. He was. He always will be. The Son, the second person of the Trinity has always existed, but He became Incarnate of the Virgin Mary in a specific place and time, and that is what we remember.

We will not be fasting at all for the next 12 days. I'll be making different cookies and cakes each day. This week is full of feasts and commemorations, including our 20th wedding anniversary. Since there was the possibility of us going to Paris in 2017, we kind of scrapped our original plan for our anniversary, which was to go to a resort our friend runs in Mexico. We still aren't sure what we're doing, though. There have been more low key years, and years where we planned big parties or trips, but this is the first time we just can't really decide. A few ideas have been floated, so we will try to get that figured out after today. For now, we worship in joy, we celebrate in hope.

Blessed feast! May the Light who entered the world enlighten your heart and mind the whole year! Glory to God in the highest!

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Yarn Along: Success and Disappointment

Just about three quarters of the way through Carlota Cabled Boot Toppers, I found out that I wouldn't have enough yarn. I'm really frustrated about that, but it was my own fault. I had yarn leftover from another project that I wanted to use, and I knew it wouldn't be enough for the whole project, but I had some other yarn that coordinated well with it, and I was going to make the ribbing with that, because the amount I had should have been plenty to make the tops of the cuffs. I am about eight rows short. In the positive column, however, I finished and blocked my spiral hat. It's blocked and ready to send off, and I'll work on getting the pattern written up for this year.

There are 11 more days left in the 2016 Indie Designer Gift-a-Long and there is still time to join in the fun with us! This week, I have three designs to share from fellow designers in the GAL:

by Christelle Nihoul

I'm always excited about a great pattern for boys and men. This is one of them. It's not knit with too heavy a yarn, and it has subtle details that make it interesting for the knitter, but not too outrageous for a boy or man. It's sized for an eight year old boy up to an extra large man. I could make this for any of my boys or for Rich.

Tiny Buds
by Charlotte Walford

Here is a lovely shawl that uses multiple colors. I actually like quite a few of Charlotte's shawl, scarf and cowl designs. There is a tea cozy pattern that I wish I could get a hold of to make. I enjoy her use of both color and texture. Give her work a look.

by Dieuwke van Mulligen

This is another great shawl. I love the color and lines of it. The shape is nice, I'm partial to crescents and semi-circles, and shows off the simple patterning well. There have been so many shawl patterns I've discovered in the GAL so far that I'm afraid I have bought more than I can reasonably finish in the near future. In fact, next week, I'll have two or three more to show you.

What little reading I have done has been in Birds of a Feather. It's a great story, but I've been too tired to really take a good run at it.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Menu Plan: Fourth Week of Advent

This has been a rather hectic and disorganized Advent, it seems. Alexander has been working quite a bit with a Christmas season job, and we're still taking girls to ballet for one more day. My days have been truncated with ferrying people about and doing extra errands. But it has been a good season, and it is winding down as we approach the feast of the Nativity. After that, Rich and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, which is pretty exciting.

The weather here has been pretty miserably cold, enough snow to be a nuisance, and enough respite to trick you into thinking it will be better, then dumping more snow or freezing rain or sleet so you have to start over again. Since I am not a fan of winter, anyway, this hasn't been nice for me. We've been below zero pretty regularly, and colder than Siberia, yet again, as it seems fairly common of our winters.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Yarn Along: Over Halfway through the GAL

If you are looking for a menu plan, I just haven't gotten the post complete. We are eating, but between the final weekend of Nutcracker, the excruciatingly cold weather, and Alexander starting work this week, it has been a challenge to sit down and type. I'll try to get it posted before the week is out, just to have a record and help people later on, but it might not be until Friday.

Victoria Station is finished and ready to give this week! Amira was such a trooper to model it in 10 degree weather, with no coat or gloves or hat. We snapped just enough pictures, and ran inside. That is why my other shot is indoors. I've started the Carlota Cabled Boot Toppers, which I'm hoping to have ready to give this week, too. Look at those cables! I tried to fiddle with them to make them better, but I ripped that out and did it exactly as written, because Em's design was really just right as it was. As part of a design challenge, as well as more gift knitting, I started a spiral hat. Actually, it's basically finished, except for the crown decreases, but I'm not happy with the first way I did them, so I'm ripping that out and doing them over. I want to be able to mail this with some other gifts by Monday. This is a busy week for me with regard to knitting.

The 2016 Indie Designer Gift-a-Long is more than halfway through, but there is still time to join. Loads of free pattern codes have been given away and the midpoint physical prizes have been awarded. There are still more, though, so come and have fun with us! This week, I have two designs to share from fellow designers in the GAL that I really think you will enjoy:

Unicorn Hoodie
by Emily Ringelman

Rich wants one of these in an adult size. I bought this pattern with the idea to make matching unicorn hoodies for everyone in our family. Only Rich and the little girls are excited about this. Don't you think it would be awesome, though? I'm not sure if I can pull off such a thing, but I definitely want to make one for the littles and for Rich and me. The boys and Amira will have to go without. Amira thinks that her Hunicorn hat is enough.

by Jo Torr

This designer is a virtual friend of mine, and she released the pattern during the GAL. It is so much fun, and would be a great way to show off some hand painted yarn or variegated yarn, without all the pooling. And the bobbles are made without purling! When I'm finished with the gift knitting, and get some other projects under my belt, this is definitely going to be knit up here. I can think of a few girls in my house who would love it.

I've gotten more reading done this week than last. I started and finished The Fabrics of Fairy Tale. The fairy tales themselves were excellent, but I didn't really like the translations/adaptations done by the author. My impression was that they were great stories that would have been so much better if they were told by another storyteller. I also started Birds of a Feather. I haven't gotten that far in it, because I've been reading it at night when I am just bone tired. So, I think I'm halfway through the first chapter. The first book in the series was interesting, so I'm fairly certain I will enjoy this one, too.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Yarn Along: Gift-A-Long and Pattern Profiles

In case you missed it: Saint Nicholas is released - and you still have time to knit it if you hang stockings for Christmas (or work on the pattern for next Saint Nicholas Day)! In honor of Saint Nicholas, whose feast is today, I have the pattern on sale for 25% off through 12:01 a.m. PST on November 7. That's tonight!

Saint Nicholas brought me a knitting mug filled with fancy chocolates and a reindeer stirring spoon. The kids are pretty convinced that Saint Nicholas loves me best, but hastened to tell me to tell others that this was perfectly alright with them.

As for my knitting, I have finished Desert Pines and I'm nearly finished with Victoria Station. Both are gifts, so I am not going to say too much more about them (I did start another project, too, but I'll have more to say about that next week). Both are patterns I picked up as part of the 2016 Indie Designer Gift-a-Long, too. This is my first year participating, both as a knitter and a designer, and I've already won a pattern in one of the random trivia games! Check it out:

Passerine Stole
by Jen Lucas

I'm going to be highlighting a pattern or two by participating designers each week to entice you to join the fun. You have until 11:59 pm EST on December 31 to get in on it! (And you can win prizes, too!) Aside from the gorgeous items you will find in Jen's Ravelry shop (and you did peek at her designs, right?), this week I'm profiling:

First Snow Mittens
by Aet Terasmaa

I love all things snowflake, which is odd given my loathing of cold and snowy weather. Maybe not, as I like snow you visit, because it is pretty, and then leave to go to your warm home. So, knitted and crocheted or embroidered snowflakes, as they bring no cold or wet with them, are perfect. Anyway, look at these mittens, and then take a gander at her other patterns. You are sure to find something you like in her shop.

Speaking of patterns, for the past few years I've found Interweave Knits a little less exciting than it used to be for me. There were still great patterns, but the paper of the magazine was thin and tore easily, and a lot of the patterns seemed more simplistic than I used to find in it. The magazine I loved included a range of patterns in different skill levels, with at least a few in each issue that were aspirational, and challenging, or taught a new technique. So, the Interweave Knits Winter 2017 issue is the first one I've bought in a while. I let my subscription lapse, but when I saw the preview of this magazine on Ravelry, I fell in love with several of the patterns. This is much more like the magazine I knew and loved. The paper is improved, though still not the thick glossy paper it used to have. The new editor has been at the helm for a year, I think, and it looks like she's done an excellent job at picking articles, as well as patterns. The holiday issue also looked interesting to me. So, I've been looking over the patterns and reading the articles this week.

Mostly, though, we have been watching this series. I picked up the DVD set from our library. Although we enjoyed some of the "house" series, like Frontier House and Manor House, most of them were like reality shows with people who didn't really want to try to live as the people of those eras actually lived. This series (and there's a Victorian and War Time Farm series, as well a Victorian Pharmacy, and several others) is done by a historian and a couple archaeologists, so they are at least knowledgeable and trying. I caught a food science error in one of the episodes, but it may have just been poor communication. Anyway, everyone in the house is enjoying it, and learning quite a bit.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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