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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Menu Plan: Fourth Week of Lent


This is kind of a strange week for us. However, I'm still trying to keep on top of at least some planning. It's also a week with another birthday in it. Elijah is 15 this week! This is our second celebration of the birthday season in our family.

I really can't wait until we have a schedule that allows us to make and eat a little more complicated meals. There's a lot of salad this week, because we're in that in between part of the year where there isn't a lot in the freezers or jars from last summer, but there also isn't a ton that is fresh in the market (and certainly not the garden, since it's been such a miserable and long winter).

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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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Yarn Along: Patterns and Newsletters and Birthdays, Oh My!


Remember how I said I'd bought myself some more time on Amira's Rainbow Angst? Well, her party is this coming Sunday. I'm almost finished with one sleeve, which is good, but there is still the other sleeve and the entire rest of the waist shaping and working the sweater down to the hem. That's about 11 more inches on the body and another 18 inches of knitting on the second sleeve. Because this girl is taller than I am. Wish me luck!

I also finally ripped out the too loose color work on my Rosy Mittens. I wasn't happy with it, and I knew I wouldn't be happy with it later, so I just bit the bullet and ripped. If you saw my post on Instagram about this, you might remember the C.S. Lewis quotation I posted with it:
"We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."

The other project I'm working on is her namesake: Amira. Folks, I am so excited about this. You may be sick of it, or think it's not that great, but this is my baby. This is the design idea that made me try to be a designer, and it's finally close to being published. I've been working with one technical editor to figure out some kinks with the neckline, and she is finished, and I have done my swatching and reworking, so my goal is to have the final pattern edited and ready to go to a second technical editor who will look for any things either of us missed. Then, it's going back to my patient and wonderful preview knitters, who have been waiting with an almost finished front and back to their tops for almost a year, so they can finish their versions, and I can get photographs of mine done when I am finished, so I can post the edited pattern with project pages to Ravelry. Whew! I wanted to have it ready to publish (my most recent revision to the target date) for Amira's birthday, now I'm just hoping I can have it live by the end of this month. That is cutting it pretty close, so we'll see.

You may not know that I am in the process of revising both the Shower’s in an Hour Baby Hat and Shower’s This Weekend Baby Sweater patterns to include more sizes and updated photography. To celebrate and publicize that, I'm hosting a Baby Shower Knit-a-Long beginning March 27 and going through April 8, and would love to see how you put your personality into these designs.  Please join in knitting and talking about your projects and more!  I'm available to help and cheer you on, and there should be a ton of camaraderie to be found with other KAL-ers.  If you don't already have either pattern, please use this coupon code, babyshower2017, for 25% off either or both patterns. Everyone who participates in the KAL will automatically receive the pattern upgrade with two more sizes while paying not only the lower price, but possibly an even lower price using the coupon. Once the KAL is finished, the revised pattern will be released to the public for a higher price. More details are available at the link for the KAL, and updates will be made fairly regularly. I'm hoping to announce the prize sponsors by the end of next week!

If you want to get previews of new patterns coming out, or find out more about my KALs or just learn a little bit more about my design world, please subscribe to my new quarterly newsletter, 1,001 Knits. The first issue should be going out by the end of this month!

My reading this week has been a little in A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire and mostly in The Ascetic Lives of Mothers. I picked up this book a year ago, but set it aside because I was trying to do a study/prayer group with some local moms. We just never were able to find a good time for us, so I'm reading it myself now. It is wonderful! The prayers are useful, but also instructive to me. I appreciate the words of the Fathers, as well. It's been edifying and uplifting.



Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Menu Plan: Third Week of Lent


We have church suppers twice a week, which actually kind of makes our lives a little simpler. I don't have to plan a meal most of those weeks (we take on one of them every month or so), and there's no cooking needed on those days. With the schedule we have right now, that is a relief. I wasn't able to find some things at our regular grocery store, so I had to move a meal from last week. Something we did find at the grocery store, though, was a huge sale on seafood, including lobster. So, we have lobster sandwiches on the menu this week as a way to make them stretch a bit.

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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Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Yarn Along: We're Back in the Game!


Amira's Rainbow Angst is my major project at the moment, since her birthday is coming up soon. I made quite a bit of progress on it while we were traveling. I've divided the body from the sleeves, worked the body down to the waist decreases, and started on one of the sleeves tonight. The good news is that, even though her birthday is this week, her party isn't for over a week after that, so I have bought myself some time to finish her sweater.

Amira also came with me and I worked on it while we were away, but I made a foolish mistake, in my own pattern, from a graph I wrote out myself, and a stitch pattern I've used a million times, so I had to put it in time out for the rest of our trip and rip it out when we got home. It is finally past where I was on the plane. It is this close to being ready for the public, which is exciting to me.

Aside from working on Amira's birthday sweater, I cast on for a pair of Rosy Mittens as part of the #lentenkal on Instagram. When I finish them, they will make a lovely set with my Ring Around the Rosy Scarf. They are also great Sunday knitting for me.

Rich and I had tickets to a local theater production and Amira's sweater was too large for me to reasonably bring, Amira requires some attention, and the mittens have a chart I need to read while knitting. I was going to just cast on something else simple to make, but Rich made a remark about how I could bring his socks, so I knit some more on his Manly Rainbow Socks and found that when you actually knit on something, you make progress. I knit another three inches on the leg of the sock while we watched the show. This sock is an act of love. It is made of a sock yarn with merino and silk, knit on size 0 needles, at 10 stitches per inch, for a man's feet.

Unfortunately, on our trip I did nearly no reading. I am still reading A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire. There is a Lenten Psalter group I've joined, too, and I'm reading through the Psalms this Lent.

If you are participating in #yarnmadness and #yarnlovechallenge on Instagram, I'd love to see what you are posting in response to the prompts. You can see what I have posted there by following me.



Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Monday, March 06, 2017

Menu Plan: Second Week of Lent


I have so much to share about our trip and what's going on in our lives right now, but so much is going on in our lives right now that I just don't have as much time to share. Here is something sweet, though: Nejat got it in her head that the ashes on Ash Wednesday were the "Gospel" and when she got home, she had already rubbed some of them off her forehead. She looked in the mirror and exclaimed, "My Gospel fell off!"

Because of that so much going on thing, we have a few repeats this week. We also have a birthday this week, it's our first of the birthday season. Amira turns 13 this week, which is rather exciting. It also means that we will officially have four teenagers in 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, March 04, 2017

Recipe Round Up: Apple or Pear Fritters


This recipe is so easy to whip up, even on a relatively free weeknight, that it is dangerous. It is delicious. I use Ceylon cinnamon, but if you prefer to use a spicier tasting cinnamon or can't get a hold of the Ceylon, any other cinnamon will work just fine. Any apple or pear you enjoy eating will work in this recipe. We usually make double this amount.

1 heaping cup pastry flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 – 2 teaspoons cinnamon (depending on how much you love cinnamon)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped apple or pear, in the size of peas or corn kernels
oil for frying

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons milk (add more by teaspoons, if necessary)

Whisk dry ingredients together, slowly add the remaining ingredients, except for the apple (or pear) and oil. Carefully mix until well combined, being careful not to overbeat. Gently fold in apple pieces. The batter should resemble cake batter.

Heat oil to medium high heat, around 350° F. Once the oil is ready, place batter into the oil by heaping tablespoonsful (I use a cookie scoop), crowding the pan slightly, but allowing room to turn the fritters. Watch carefully for the underside to turn golden brown, then gently flip over and continue frying until browned on all sides, about 45 seconds per side. Remove to a rack to drain and cool slightly. Drizzle with glaze while still warm. Serve and enjoy!

For the glaze:

Whisk the powdered sugar, cinnamon, and butter together until they resemble clay. Slowly add the milk, whisking vigorously to incorporate with the other ingredients.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Menu Plan: First Week of Lent



We just got home (less than 24 hours ago) from a fantabulous family vacation. We were able to visit with some good friends, stay at some lovely hotels, eat amazing food, go to Legoland, take over a cooking friend's home, enjoy the sunshine and the beach and the ocean, attend church at a cathedral in our communion, commune with our brothers and sisters and visit with friends there, and then returned home after almost 11 days to the frozen north and snow and ice. Nejat has told us numerous times today that she wants to move to California because there is no snow there.

Glory to God, we did not return to a flooded basement! So, even though we hadn't planned on doing our doughnut night this year, since Shrove Tuesday was only a day after our return, we are going to throw it together, anyway. I'm not sure who will be able to make it, but our kids were rather disappointed to hear that I was skipping it this year.

Lent is upon us, and even though we follow the Western calendar, I am pleased that it coincides with the East this year. May both lungs of the Church be united in our lifetime. If you want a refresher on the Lenten fast, it is a Trinity of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. We find it better to fast with the Church than to come up with something to give up specifically, though we have done that as well as the fast. Since we have small children, we are not as strict about the fast as we might be otherwise, we still eat dairy and egg, and occasionally fish, and we eat meat on Sundays. Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday are strict fasts, for at least 24 hours, but we have younger children who may only participate for one or two meals or none at all (in the case of Nejat, for instance), so I still plan meals for those days. We try to keep the stricter rules for Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent, but sometimes cannot do so. However, if you are looking for menu help and meal ideas for Lent, I do post meals and recipes that are meat free.

As we prepare for Lent, we must prepare for self-examination, in that frame of mind, if I have offended you or wronged you in any way, please forgive me and pray for me, a sinner. Have a blessed fast.

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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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Yarn Along: Cast on Another, Why Not?


In the next few weeks, I'm going to have a chance to knit on a plane again. We're escaping our miserable winter for a little while and visiting with friends we haven't seen in a while (my friend Kim's husband and kids) and taking the kids to Legoland. We got a great deal, and this was probably going to be the last chance we had to do something like this with all of them. It's a little bittersweet. Also, flying with eight children is kind of freaking me out a little. So, to prepare, I made sure my knitting purse fit all the things I'd need for travel, including all the knitting I'm bringing on needles. Since I don't want TSA to steal my Leatherman Micra, I took that out of my notions bag already, and since I want no trouble about empty knitting needles, I cast on for Amira's Rainbow Angst, because why not? I've actually gotten a bit of knitting done this week on that, it's knit top down, and I'm through almost all the increases before separating the body from the sleeves. There's been more knitting than normal this week, with progress on Amira, Sirocco (it's missing in that photo up there), and Eve's Leaves. Anyway, I'm bringing three projects with me; Sirocco is staying at home, because it involves too many different skeins of yarn. I had to keep myself from bringing another project, because I have a sweater planned for Jerome, since he's the only person in the house who hasn't had a sweater specifically made for him.

My reading has been a bit limited, but I've done a little in both Sirach study, and A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire. I'm only planning on bringing the study book, my prayer book and a Bible with me on the trip. I don't anticipate a lot of reading time and I'm going to use our travel time for knitting as much as possible.

I forgot to ask if you were participating in the #yarnlovechallenge on Instagram. There have been a lot of neat and creative posts. You can see what I have posted there by following me.



Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Menu Plan: February 12 - 18


This week and next are going to be pretty busy for us. We're getting ready for a pretty big trip with the whole family, so I'll try to post on the blog next week, but I make no guarantees. There's a ton of laundry and organizing and paperwork and last minute school work and scholarship applications going on here before we can leave. Not surprisingly, I am a bit tense about all that needs to be done. Oh, and we have to try to prep a closet in our basement to withstand a leak, should the big thaw come while we are gone. I've been having the kids shovel snow and ice chunks away from our walls and roll giant ice and snow balls out of our yard into the irrigation ditch. Rich came home and saw them by the ditch line with them and asked if they were building snowmen. They told him that they were getting rid of the snow, because I'd told them to do it. Only the little kids are really still excited about the snow at all.

When I planned our menus for last week, I had forgotten that we'd scheduled our monthly dance a week early, so our Saturday dinner is being repeated this week. We're still eating our way through the citrus we bought, too, and we're repeating a few breakfasts as well.

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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Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Yarn Along: Eureka!


It still delights me that my knitting goes with my book. I'm simple that way. Do you see that up there, though? That's the neckline swatch for Amira! Eureka! This means that I am ever closer to getting the pattern released this year. I had a couple people working on the top last year, and I'm hoping they are not too weary of the project at this point, so they might finish up in time for me to push for a March publication date. However, an excellent pattern is better than a timely release date. I am trying to remember that.

I made a little progress on Eve's Leaves again this week. Still mostly while Rich drives us to and from church. I think I got one row of the lace pattern done after choir practice this week, too. Only a few rows done on Sirocco, but progress is progress.

Nobody bit last week, so I'll ask one more time: If you would answer a design question for me, I would appreciate it. Please leave your response in the comments. Sirocco is part of a two part collection I had planned for the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 (one focusing on texture and the other on color). It is actually going to be in the collection put out in 2019. I planned to have all of the patterns in the collections available for sale individually (maybe with one freebie in each as a bonus to those who purchase the whole set), but didn't know if I should release each pattern as it is available, or wait and release them all when their part of the collection is complete. One pattern from the first part of the collection is already available in my store, and putting out Sirocco this year would mean that one pattern from the second part of the collection would also be available ahead of time. I'm okay with that as a preview, but I'm wondering if all the rest should come out as they are ready or not. What do you think?

The girls did have strep and we had an episode of fever induced delusion this week, plus at least one son has caught it. I'm possibly in denial about having it myself. This is all to say that the Sirach study did not get touched this week, either, and I only made a slight dent in A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire. Please pray for our household, that all would rest, and especially that all would be well.



Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Sunday, February 05, 2017

Menu Plan: February 5 - 11


The produce man came through for us this week and we have pomelos, mandarin oranges, cara cara oranges, cucumbers and dates. On top of that, we had a great deal on fish and shrimp, so those will show up in our menus over the next month or so. Especially as we count down to Lent. I'm trying to decide if I should keep them in the freezer until then, or if we should just put them in the menu as I feel led. Either way, our schedule is such that most of our meals have to be fairly quick except for weekends. There are a few repeats 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, February 01, 2017

Yarn Along: Symphony of Red


Most of my knitting this week has matched my book. Though I did a little work on Eve's Leaves while at driving to and from church and at choir practice, mostly I worked on Sirocco. I also started a swatch to see if the method and calculations my TE came up with will work with the neckline on Amira. This means that I likely won't be able to release it on Amira's birthday, but I'd rather have a well written and clear pattern than a rush job to make a date I set.

If you would answer a design question for me, I would appreciate it. Please leave your response in the comments. Sirocco is part of a two part collection I had planned for the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 (one focusing on texture and the other on color). It is actually going to be in the collection put out in 2019. I planned to have all of the patterns in the collections available for sale individually (maybe with one freebie in each as a bonus to those who purchase the whole set), but didn't know if I should release each pattern as it is available, or wait and release them all when their part of the collection is complete. One pattern from the first part of the collection is already available in my store, and putting out Sirocco this year would mean that one pattern from the second part of the collection would also be available ahead of time. I'm okay with that as a preview, but I'm wondering if all the rest should come out as they are ready or not. What do you think?


I don't think I announced the release of Ziyad here. Please take a look. It is a great hat, and a simple pattern sized from infant to large adult (and I mean large, pay attention to the finished measurements). If it's still frozen where you are, you can make one for yourself, or a bunch for your whole family. Or, if you are better at planning for Christmas than I have been lately, you can get a head start (ha!) on next Christmas. Even with Nutcracker busy-ness and my exhausted life, I was able to finish the adult large in a short amount of time. The gracious knitters who previewed the pattern for me all finished in a day or three, depending on the size they chose.

My reading time has been limited over the past week and a half. Between homeschool responsibilities, household chores, and new activities for both me and the kids, it's made for less time to do something that requires that much focus. Also, Mariam may have strep, and it looks like Amira may have caught it as well, so we haven't had much sleep around here. Please keep them in your prayers. We're waiting for the results to come back. I don't think I picked up my Sirach study at all this week, which is sad, because it is so quick and short, I've just been that busy and exhausted. I've been reading A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire, which I am thoroughly enjoying, but I read it at night, so it's slow going. Again, this is too bad, as I've learned a lot from just the few pages I've managed before falling asleep. Seriously, I read a paragraph or two, then my eyes swim, and I turn out the light. It will take me a year to finish at this rate.



Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Menu Plan: January 29 - February 4


We come again to the end of Christmas. The Christmas season officially ends on Thursday, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary and the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, also known as Candlemas. We will light all our Advent and Christmas candles and the kids will all light candles at the table and we will pray that the Light Who entered the world would enlighten us all.

Our weeks are just getting busier. I have my first community choir rehearsal this week, and our co-op started last week. Not surprisingly, I'm having to shuffle meals and menus. I'm also having to plan meals that are quicker or can be slow cooked or that can be made by the kids more easily. Really, though, I'd like them to plan a little of that, too. There are a few repeats this week, too.

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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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Yarn Along: Designing Away


While we were traveling I had a bit of time to work on the lace for Eve's Leaves. Now I just have 28 inches of the lace to go! That's me holding it up in front of the window of the car on the rather long trip home (two hours longer than it ought to have been).


Last week, though, before we went on the trip, I finally sewed all the cloud borders down on Nejat's Starry, Starry Night. As I suspected, Nejat wanted it right away, so there was no washing or blocking of it before she took possession of it and it went to her bed with her. I also swatched for Matrimony, a cable and texture vest for Rich in honor of our 20th wedding anniversary. It's probably going to take the whole year for me to make it. We discussed my writing the pattern up and pitching the design to a print or online magazine, but I think I want to keep it as his, and modify it a bit for a general men's pattern.


Another thing finished before we left last week was another size of Ziyad, which won the designer challenge, by the way. If you think you can knit a child sized version of this hat in the next day or two, please contact me or leave a comment with your contact information. I'm looking for one more project in the child size. The pattern is back from the tech editor and it's knit with an aran to bulky weight yarn. More details for the preview knit can be found on my Ravelry group.


For those of you who were knitting Amira for me, my tech editors are working on the neckline as I write, and I'm hoping to have the edited and corrected pattern to you in the next two to three weeks. Thank you for your extreme patience. I started the back of my own while on our trip as well. My goal is to have the back finished, and then go back to the front when I have the new math on the pattern so I will have it ready as soon as possible. I'd really like to publish it on Amira's birthday, which only gives me a month and a half from today.

Since my yarn diet excludes souvenir yarn, I was looking forward to a little yarn shopping while we were gone. The hotel Rich booked for his work trip was just around the corner from Canvas Works in Olympia. I knew this, but when we got to our room, this was the view:


Can he pick a hotel or what? I was able to visit and only picked up yarn that I didn't have for a design I am publishing with a third party at the end of this year. Even though there were two shades of Shibui Maai I really wanted to get (tango and poppy).


The past couple weeks have been pretty good for reading around here. I read Dress Shop of Dreams, which was almost entirely predictable, and I really didn't like a lot of things about some key characters. However, it was a quick fluff read, and there was enough in there that was interesting. I wouldn't read it again, and I wouldn't recommend it, and I probably won't be reading anything else by this author. Also, I hated that either she or the editor used they and their for the singular pronoun, especially when they were used in direct reference to a woman, when if she wanted to avoid saying him/his as the singular, she/hers could have been used perfectly accurately. I've been doing a steady, simple, study in Sirach with this study and journal book. Rich and I picked up Hillbilly Elegy again, and I started Pardonable Lies.


My stack of books for this month.




Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Menu Plan: January 22 - 28


Last week was quite eventful for us. Rich and I took a trip to the capitol for a work event for him, and I was able to take a little time to myself. Unfortunately, the freezing rain and sheets of ice came that week, too, but on our side of the mountains. The pass closed about an hour and a half after we crossed it ourselves, and we ended up stuck across the state from the kids for one more night than we had planned. Amira and her friend ice skated on our driveway, which was a sheet, coated with two inches of ice. That's how bad the roads were. The pass had avalanches and trees down, plus freezing rain, and fog, then flooding and mud/land slides. Most of the schools and kids' activities were canceled. In fact, our town, the PUD, the community college, most school districts, most businesses, were all closed down for two days.

So, between our extended absence and the general chaos, many things were canceled, rescheduled, or otherwise changed. We have a few repeats of meals because of that. Our produce guy couldn't make it because of the roads, so we'll be seeing him tomorrow instead.

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 21, 2017

Recipe Round Up: Balela with a Bonus

Balela

So Trader Joe's has a version of this in their fresh food deli items. It includes black beans. This is an outrage. So, here is a better version. A side note, we used Kabouli garbanzo beans, which means not only is this the food of my people, it is actually the garbanzo beans of my people, named after the same place that my maiden name is.

3 cups cooked garbanzo beans
2 orange sweet peppers, seeded and diced
1 red sweet pepper, seeded and diced
1 yellow sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
1 green hot pepper, seeded and diced
2 pints of tomatoes, chopped (I used quartered cherry tomatoes this time)
2 cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 bunch mint, finely chopped
1 bunch dill, finely chopped
8 cloves garlic, finely minced
juice of 4 large lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon ground sumac
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
salt, to taste
feta cheese, to garnish (optional)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Allow to rest for at least an hour to blend flavors. Serve with pita bread, and yogurt or tahina sauce, if you wish.

This is delicious cold or room temperature and can be served with just about anything. I couldn't even get a photo of the salad, because everyone ate it all too quickly.


Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

I found a recipe on Facebook for a bread like this. However, it had almost twice the sugar and too much liquid, and cream cheese frosting was suggested. At that point, I felt like it was cake. This is still quite sweet and tasty, but not cloying. Everyone in our family enjoyed it completely. This lovely bread can be made in one bowl, and freezes quite nicely for a little something to have with coffee or tea when someone stops over unexpectedly.

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup light flavored oil (we use safflower or sunflower seed oil)
2 cups pumpkin purée
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups pastry or all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Grease a bundt pan or a large loaf pan. Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix sugar, oil, and pumpkin purée, thoroughly. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each egg.

Add flour and blend well. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger and mix completely.

Stir in cranberries and walnuts, then pour into prepared pan. Bake for 55 - 65 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is firm. Cool five minutes in the pan, turn out onto a rack and cool completely.

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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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