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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Yarn Along: Unfinished Things

Ignore my chipping nail polish please. I know it will come as a great surprise that a homeschooling mother with eight children at home has a hard time getting around to fixing her manicure.

I don't think that Nejat's blanket will ever be complete. There must be a crochet vortex as well as a knitting one. I get closer and closer to finishing it, then find out that there is still more. There will not be a person more relieved to have this finished than I.

Please take a look at the prototype for Saint Nicholas, however. I'm putting out the call for knitters to do a quick preview knit now (not a test, it shouldn't need much, if any, editing at that point) so I can see how people like the design and to have some extra project pages besides my own ready to link up when I release the pattern in November. I mistakenly said that the stocking was 18 inches in circumference, it is actually around 15 inches. If you are interested, please e-mail me, contact me via Arabian Knits Designs on Facebook, or @arabianknits on Instagram, on my Ravelry group or leave a comment here with your e-mail address. This is a quick stocking, knit in a worsted weight (and only one to knit!), that can easily be finished by the middle of November, however even if you don't finish, but post a couple pictures of your progress, I would be grateful. As soon as I have the pattern back from the tech editor, I will be able to send the PDF to those interested in a sneak peek at the design. Thank you to those of you who have contacted me already! And thank you to Rachel at The Philosopher's Wife for linking to my request on her blog, I appreciate all the extra eyes.

Generally, I like to alternate a light book with a deeper or more serious book. However, after finishing Circus Mirandus, which I loved, by the way, I just couldn't get myself to read something more solid. Instead, I picked up Murder is Bad Manners. Meanwhile, three books I've been wanting to read for some time are languishing on my night stand.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On and Yarn Fanatic.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Menu Plan: October 16 - 22

Running a little late this week. We had to make a trip after church on Sunday that was not originally in our plans. We were able to pick up a box of huge Jonagold apples from a local grower, though, and they were from this year's crop instead of the kind of mealy storage apples we've been seeing in the store.

Our pig should be butchered at the end of the week, or beginning of next week. We're hoping for this week. Our garden is still giving us a tiny bit, mostly herbs, so we're using those up and savoring the last of the fresh produce of the year. We also have some potatoes still in the ground that should be harvested this week.

I'm feeling a tiny bit better, by which I mean, not entirely exhausted and in misery with pain. It's probably going to take almost a year for the bruise on my bone in my elbow to heal, if the bruised tailbone experience I had when I was a dance instructor is predictive of how long I will be hurting. I'm older by nearly 20 years, though, so I'm praying that it won't take longer. Thank you for your prayers.

If you didn't check out last week's recipe for apple cider doughnuts, you are missing out! Go, read, and make them while fresh pressed cider is still easily gotten!

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, October 15, 2016

Recipe Round Up: Apple Cider Doughnuts

I was looking for a recipe for cider doughnuts and found a few that I really liked. I cobbled them together to come up with my own recipe. Let me tell you, these are the best apple fritters you will ever eat. I make another kind that is quick and easy to make, and leavened with baking powder, that I will post another time. Since apples are generally available all year round, those are simple to whip up as a treat, and also delicious. These, though. These are yeast risen and full of depth and the flavors are layered perfectly. This is a fall only recipe. Using fresh pressed cider will make the best doughnuts. Store bought from the refrigerator section will be alright. Regular juice won't cut it, in my opinion. It's better to wait until the fall cider presses are out again to make them. You will reduce the cider to a concentrate and use it in both the dough and the glaze. I love using my bread machine for doughs like this. If you wish to make the dough by hand or use a stand mixer, that will work just fine.

3 cups apple cider

2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup apple cider concentrate
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups bread flour or all purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (I use Ceylon, but any cinnamon you like will work)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
oil for frying

Apple Filling:
4 medium apples, cored, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
pinch of salt

Cider Glaze:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup apple cider concentrate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Before doing anything else, pour the apple cider into a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a simmer or low boil. Cook the cider until it reduces by two thirds, leaving 1 cup (or a little more) remaining. This may take up to 45 minutes or more. Divide the concentrate in half and set aside. This step can be done up to four days ahead. Store the cider, covered, in the refrigerator.

Put all ingredients except for the oil into your bread machine pan and run on a dough cycle.

While the dough is being made, prepare the apple filling. Place a large saucepan over medium heat and put the butter and sugar in it to melt, stirring occasionally. When it has melted, add the apples, cinnamon, vanilla extract, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Cook the apples, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated from the pan. This can take up to 20 minutes, but can be affected by numerous variables. Take off heat and cool to room temperature.

When the dough cycle is complete, dust a work surface with flour, punch down the dough and turn it out onto your board. Pat or roll it into a rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Spread half the apple mixture over one half of the rectangle. Fold the other half of the dough over the apples and press to seal the apples in the dough. Pat the dough out into a rectangle again, flouring the board and the dough as necessary, and taking care not to tear the dough. Cover half of the dough with the remaining apples, and fold it over itself again, sealing the apples in the dough. Pat the dough into another thin rectangle again.

Flour or line two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper. Use a bench scraper or a sharp knife to cut the dough into about 1 inch squares. Take 3 pieces and press them together, pinching and patting to help them stick together. If apples poke out, this is fine. Place on a baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining pieces.

Cover the fritters with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

While they rise, make the glaze. Whisk together the butter and sugar, then drizzle in the cider concentrate, vanilla extract, and salt, and whisk to produce a smooth, pourable liquid.

About half way through the final rise, pour oil into a deep pan for frying, and heat over medium high heat, until a piece of bread sizzles when inserted into the oil. Set aside another pan with a rack over it to drain the doughnuts after frying.

Once the fritters have risen properly, place the fritters in the oil, without crowding, and fry them for about a minute on each side, until they are golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on rack over pan to drain and cool a minute while you fry the rest in batches.

When the fritters have cooled a few minutes, drizzle with glaze. I do this in two steps, using about half on the fritters at first, then letting them cool some more and pouring the rest of the glaze on them in a second layer later. Let the glaze set a bit, 10 - 15 minutes, and serve warm or room temperature.

These can keep for several days in an airtight container at room temperature, but you will probably eat them all. Recipe makes about 20 - 25 fritters.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Yarn Along: Saint Nicholas is Almost Ready for You to Knit!

Surprise, surprise, Nejat's blanket is still not finished! Her second birthday present is rapidly turning into her third Christmas present. I tend to be a process knitter/crocheter at the beginning of a project. There are new skills to practice or learn, or something fun to work on and enjoy. By the end, though, I am a product knitter. I want this thing finished. And I am so there with this blanket. Nejat loves it, and will love it, and I'm sure I'll be happy with it when it is complete, but I am starting to get irritated with it. Why isn't it complete?! It's only two more rounds and the finishing.

I have made the finishing touches on Saint Nicholas, however. I'm putting out the call for knitters to do a quick preview knit now (not a test, it shouldn't need much, if any, editing at that point) so I can see how people like the design and to have some extra project pages besides my own ready to link up when I release the pattern in November. The picture above shows the prototype, the actual stocking is much larger, it is about 18 inches in circumference and longer, I just made that smaller mock up as a sample for a design proposal. If you are interested, please e-mail me, contact me via Arabian Knits Designs on Facebook, or @arabianknits on Instagram, on my Ravelry group or leave a comment here with your e-mail address. This is a quick stocking, knit in a worsted weight (and only one to knit!), that can easily be finished by the middle of November, however even if you don't finish, but post a couple pictures of your progress, I would be grateful. The tech edited pattern ought to be back to me next week or so, after which I will be able to send the PDF to those interested in a sneak peek at the design.

On the reading front, I finished An Everlasting Meal. LOVED IT! and highly recommend it to all who enjoy food, eating, and cooking. Even if you don't, it might help you capture that love, or at least give you some tools to use with what you have at home to make good, simple meals.

I have come back to Circus Mirandus, which is a fun, light read, and I am enjoying it. I have tried, numerous times, to get into The Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, but it is just poorly written. I know it's popular right now, but I think that's just because someone Christian/moral has written it. It's not absurdist and funny, it's just ridiculous and trying too hard, in my (evidently minority) opinion. Rich tried to read it, too, and when I picked it up again, he said he couldn't get past the first couple chapters. We had been thinking of reading it to the kids as a fun evening read, but it's just not good enough to slog through it. We get that it was being silly on purpose, but it was too self-conscious and on purpose, and just too foolish, more so than it was funny.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On and Yarn Fanatic.

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Sunday, October 09, 2016

Menu Plan: October 9 - 15

We had lemon pudding cake instead of chocolate cake for Alexander's birthday. It was a surprise to him that we were having a little party, so that was nice. I saved up as much energy as I could so I could make those cakes. And thus ends birthday season at our house. It begins again next March.

Meals this week are still heavy on simple and easily made my others. Our schedule is so crazy, homeschooling is a full time endeavor right now, plus trying to heal, plus all the ballet. Aside from five days a week at the studio and Nutrcracker preparations, they are doing a choreographed Thriller performance four times on Halloween, and Amira will be in it. So, there are extra rehearsals for that, too, of course. Lots of fun, but lots of time. Rich had a written exam yesterday, and we are glad that is complete. He is awaiting his oral defense now. Lots of prayers for that, and the timing of it, would be appreciated. Rich has been doing much of the driving for baseball and ballet and such, but he would bring his books for studying and his work computer for getting work done. That isn't quite over, but it will be a different focus until his oral examination is complete.

Our garden is still giving us a few vegetables and herbs. It looks like the frost has been delayed, which makes none of us sad. However, our neighbors have all been burning their brush, so we know it's that time of year, and we need to get on that. Our pig will be butchered either this week or next, so we'll have pork and bacon and ham in the freezer again. Rich is looking forward to souvlaki, and I am looking forward to carnitas. We have learned our lesson, though, and that is to raise at least two pigs together. He was lonely. And pigs are friendlier and smell better than dogs. Well, not their breath, but petting and scratching them leaves no smell on your hands at all; and when you pet them, they roll over and wriggle with joy. A neighbor said that they always raised three piglets, two to butcher, and one to sell for someone else to butcher, to pay for the butchering. We may do this next year. But, at least two pigs will be raised, I think.

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.

Here is Alexander at birth and now. What a difference 18 years makes!

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Saturday, October 08, 2016

Recipe Round Up: Butter Tomato Sauce & Caramel Apple French Toast Strata

Marcella Hazan's Butter Tomato Sauce

This isn't exactly Marcella Hazan's recipe, but it's close. It is so simple, so easy, and so good. We have used cans of diced tomatoes as well as the whole ones that we chop up in the pot, with complete success. It's one of the few recipes for which I use salted butter. The sauce is better if it is infused with the onion, and you pull out the onion, but the kids have made it with diced onion, and it still tasted good. Normally, though, I pull out the onion, and we salt and pepper it and eat it as a side dish. Generally, I serve this with a salad and maybe garlic bread.

This recipe is double what you probably want to make, unless you also cook for 10 people at a time. However, it holds well, so would make a great second meal. Or you can halve it. Much like her bolognese, this is what all jarred tomato sauces wish they were.

56 - 64 ounces canned/jarred whole tomatoes, chopped with their juices (I do this in the pan with a spoon or spatula)
8 ounces (two sticks, or 16 tablespoons) salted butter
2 medium onions, peeled and halved crosswise
2 pounds pasta of choice, cooked in heavily salted water
freshly grated parmesan as a garnish

Heat a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Add tomatoes, butter and onions to pot and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low, maintaining the simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float over the tomatoes. Stir occasionally.

Serve over cooked pasta with freshly grated parmesan.

Caramel Apple French Toast Strata

This recipe was shared on Facebook by a friend of mine who belongs to our church communion. She said how flexible it was, and it truly is. This version of it reflects the changes I made to it. The cream cheese and egg provide protein, so it isn't just a sugar high breakfast, and the almonds add that as well as crunch. If you can't have nuts, leave them out, but if you can, they really add something lovely to the dish. Again, this makes a lot. You can halve it if you wish. I like that this can be made mostly ahead of time, and baked in the morning.

24 - 32 ounce loaf of bread cut into 3/4 inch cubes (we've used French bread, sandwich bread, I imagine croissants would be decadent, anything but bagels or pretzels would be wonderful)
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1/4 - 1/2 inch cubes
2 large apples, sliced thinly (peeled or not, as you wish)
1 cup sliced almonds
8 eggs (you can get away with as few as six easily)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon cinnamon (we like to use Ceylon cinnamon with this)
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup

Place half of the bread cubes into a buttered 11 X 15 inch baking dish. Cover with cream cheese cubes and apple slices, covering the bread evenly. Top with remaining bread cubes and sprinkle with almond slices.

Beat eggs, milk and cinnamon and pour over bread mixture. Cover with foil or plastic and refrigerate overnight to make ahead.

In the morning, pull out pan, and uncover, to bring closer to room temperature, while preheating the oven to 350 F and making the syrup.

Make syrup by combining the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in a saucepan and bringing it to a boil. Pour over the top of the mixture. Bake for 35 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Menu Along: Plagues of Washington

For not having much progress, this is going to be a long post. And not just because I'm putting the menu plan with the yarn along again.

Nejat's blanket is almost finished. It is taking forever. I have two or three more "stars" to go around, but they are gargantuan. My last round will be 600 stitches. I'm hoping to get it finished before next week, but that still will leave the sewing down of the cloud border and the weaving in of the ends, and I still have two other projects that need ends woven in and blocking to do. Bleh.

Saint Nicholas is about to go to the tech editor. It was supposed to be there last week, but I had a horrible allergic reaction, which led to an infection, which led to a secondary infection. I will spare you the gory details beyond that. I also hurt my shoulder the week before, by reaching for my water cup on my night stand. Being old is so much fun. Yesterday, while trying to fill the bathroom sink to cool a solution I needed to use on the infection, I forgot that our sink didn't have an overflow drain and that I had left the water on while I went to dress. When I remembered, I stepped quickly across to turn off the water, in the now Niagara Falls of our bathroom, stepped on the rug, which turns out was floating above the body of water on our floor, hydroplaned, slipped, landed squarely on my elbow on the tile floor, and slid into home, letting the toilet take the brunt of my fall. I was waiting to find out that the wax seal had been broken on the toilet, and that we had a leak in the bathroom, but glory to God, that doesn't seem to be the case. My shortcut of cooling the liquid made Alexander late to class, ended up with Rich taking a sick day to get me to the walk in clinic and stay home to help me (though he had his computer at home, so was at least able to get some work done), and me in excruciating pain. No obvious breaks or fractures in the x-rays, but we're waiting for the radiologist's opinion before we decide it's just a monster of a bruise.

Oh, and on the non-medical side, one of the tires we just bought for our minivan blew out about a mile from our house on Thursday, so I got a call from Rich asking if I could come pick him and the girls up, then he and Alexander went to put the spare on it after our dinner and Michaelmas festivities. Then they came home to put a repaired tire on Rich's truck. We are buying new tires for my van today which, blessedly, have enough of a discount on them and deals we could take advantage of that we don't have to dip into savings to get them, but we also have to get new tires for his truck, a new engine for our big van, all while paying for college and trying to get Christmas presents for the kids. This is on top of the ongoing medical issues I have been having for the past two years, homeschooling, Rich studying for exams he has to be finished with and pass by the end of the year, the Nutcracker coming like a freight train, homeschool co-op, and normal family life. We're a little overwhelmed and could use prayer.

All of this is to say that Saint Nicholas is delayed now. I'm hoping to have it in this week, but both my shoulders hurt, so typing for any length of time is a challenge, not to mention not being able to rest my left elbow anywhere without shooting pain. My goal is to have it back next week, so we can do a quick preview knit (not a test, it shouldn't need much, if any, editing at that point) so I can see how people like the design and to have some extra project pages besides my own ready to link up when I release the pattern in November. If you are interested, please e-mail me, contact me via Arabian Knits Designs on Facebook, or @arabianknits on Instagram, on my Ravelry groupor leave a comment here with your e-mail address. This is a quick stocking, knit in a worsted weight (and only one!), that can easily be finished by the middle of November, but even if you don't finish, but post a couple pictures of your progress, I would be grateful. Amira is still on hold, as I haven't even had a chance to look over it with the editor at all. I'm hoping to get to that before the end of the year.

Since I spent so much time either hurt or sick this past couple weeks, I did a lot of reading. I'm still reading An Everlasting Meal, but I'm almost finished with it. Also, I finished two books: Last Wool and Testament and Dyeing Wishes. Both light, happy little murders in a series. Easy to read, a little predictable in the first, and using a bit too much Encyclopedia Brown tactics in the second, but fun.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On and Yarn Fanatic.

Meals this week are heavy on what can someone else do to help. The kids have been wonderful, even doing as much schoolwork as they could without me home while I went to the doctor, and doing a lot of the copying for worksheets and meal prep, so I don't hurt myself. They even did most of their chores before Rich and I got home from the doctor's without being asked. It was such a huge blessing. Dominic even volunteered to grade his younger siblings' schoolwork, so I could rest. And he and Amira have been helping with phonics and Bible history with their younger brother and sisters.

We're also in the middle of potty training here. If Nejat is potty trained this week, it would be the first time in 18 years that we didn't have someone in diapers. We are so close! And cannot wait. Speaking of which, Alexander turns 18 this week. It's hard to believe. He gets to vote in the election this year, which he isn't all that excited about, and register for selective service, which none of us are all that excited about now. It is still a big deal, though. I'm hoping to be not in pain in time to make his cake. One nice thing is that his school has Monday off, so he gets three day weekend for his birthday.

The good news is that our garden is still giving us squash, tomatoes, peppers and a few cucumbers, plus radishes and things like that. We are still enjoying the fresh produce. However, the first real frost is supposed to be next week. So, goodbye garden after that.

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, September 27, 2016

Recipe Round Up: Fresh Peach Upside Down Cake & Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers

I have no menu plan and no yarn along this week. It's been a rough week. Don't ask. Please pray, though. We're still eating, though. These are some recipes I have meant to post for a while, and I was already working on this post, so enjoy!

This is from a session making these cakes more than five years ago. Before Rich replaced our counters.

Fresh Peach Upside Down Cake

One of the most wonderful summer cakes there are. I combined a few recipes from Fine Cooking to come up with this.

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 large peaches, scalded, peeled and sliced

2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 350 F and lightly butter the sides of a large round cake pan (I used a stone pan that was at least 9" across and 2" high).

Make caramel: In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Bring to a boil and pour into the prepared pan. Spread with a spatula to coat the bottom evenly. Arrange peach slices evenly in the caramel, overlapping them slightly, if

Make cake: Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter until smooth (I used the Kitchen Aid). Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until fluffy and lighter in color. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating briefly after each addition.

Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, add the flour alternately with the buttermilk.

Scoop large spoonfuls of batter onto the fruit; gently spread the batter evenly in the pan. Lightly tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Immediately run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan. Set a flat serving plate on top of the pan and invert the cake. Let the inverted pan rest for about 5 minutes to let the topping settle. Gently remove the pan and serve the cake warm or at room temperature.

Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers

olive oil
12 Italian sausages in casings (either hot or sweet or a mix)
1 pound bell peppers, seeded and sliced (frozen works, too)
2 - 4 hot or frying peppers (like Anaheims or Italian frying peppers, optional), seeded and sliced
4 onions, peeled and sliced
10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 - 4 pints tomato sauce of your choice

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat and brown sausage on all sides, add onions, peppers, and saute until the onions and peppers are soft. Add garlic and stir for a minute or two.

Scrape all of this into your slow cooker, sprinkle with oregano and salt. Pour in tomato sauce and rinse out the jars/cans with about half the water as there was sauce in them, and pour that over the sausages and peppers. Cover and cook on low for 4 - 6 hours.

In the last half hour, I heat up salted water, cook the pasta and cut up the sausage into bite sized bits. We toss a salad and serve. Easy peasy.

Sausages and peppers in the crock before the sauce is added. We didn't have any red peppers this time. This is enough for our family. You may wish to cut it in half. Or make the whole amount and freeze part of it for another meal.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Yarn Along: Deja Vu

Can you even see any progress on Nejat's blanket? I promise that there is some, but it may be hard to tell. There are only five more rounds (stars?) to go before I am finished with the crocheting. Then it will have to be finished, ends woven in and cloud border sewn down and so on, before I can give it to Nejat. Basically, though, I'm only a little past where I was last week.

Oh! I forgot to mention something again this week. I finally joined the rest of the interwebs on Instagram. You can find me there @arabianknits, if you want to follow me.

Likewise, I am still reading An Everlasting Meal. This is a book I would like to own. It will go on my wishlist. It reads like Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking and More Home Cooking, which I love, without the same level of political narcissism, which I hate. At least so far. I haven't finished it yet, of course. This is a cookbook, a memoir, and a novel, all in one.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On and Yarn Fanatic.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Menu Plan: September 18 - 24

Rich and I have visited an Anglican church in our area a couple times. Since we have no parish of our own here, we have largely been attending a Catholic church. We were told about an Anglican church that meets in the afternoon and has dinner together after the liturgy. So, we went to see. We went once when there was a baptism and once and a more normal service, and this week we brought our children. We've basically decided to go to the Catholic church for mass in the morning, and to the Anglican church in the afternoon, like some people have morning and evening services. The real bonus is that our family, all of our family, can commune at the Anglican church. It's still not quite home, but it makes it more home like.

This week is our real week of school and work. Alexander is back to college this week, and we are back to full time school and outside activities and our co-op begins again. Rich is getting ready for some important things at work, and could use some prayer. Last week was rough on us. Nobody was sick or had any allergic reactions, but we had a nasty surprise that we're all still having to deal with now. It's been emotionally and mentally exhausting. I'm trying to plan easy meals and make enough that we can eat leftovers more often.

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, September 13, 2016

Menu Along: Hit by a Mack Truck

It's been a while since I've shown any progress on Nejat's blanket, but I'm so close to finished with it. I really hope I can get the crocheting complete by this weekend. Maybe, just maybe, I can get to all the finishing I need to do (like on my top, and the second mitt, as well as sewing down cloud borders and weaving in ends on this blanket). Nejat loves her blanket. She doesn't care that it was supposed to be finished for her birthday. Last year. She comes up to it and rubs her little face on it, and tells me how soft it is. I can't wait to have it finished, because I just want to be done with it, but I also can't wait to give it to her for her to enjoy.

I forgot to give the update on Marine Layer. It was supposed to be published in October, but the magazine has gone monthly in order to spread out the patterns so they get more attention. So, instead, the set will be published in November.

What am I reading? I finished The Stitching Hour, and started An Everlasting Meal, which, so far, I am enjoying.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On and Yarn Fanatic.

Our school schedule hit me like a truck on a dark highway. We've been going full tilt, and I'm not getting as much done as I'd like. I try to have my menu plans at least started, so I can just finish them off by Saturday, but I had nothing. With Alexander at home all day, too, I've been trying to cram as much in while he has full time school at home, before he switches to part time at home and full time at the college.

Dominic had planned on doing two courses with the public school here, but after trying it out for the summer, he decided it wasn't rigorous enough. It was fun, and he learned things in the class, but it didn't seem as challenging to him as he wanted. Since it was something he loves, we agreed with him that focusing on the core of our curricula, and getting him to where he needs to be with his own writing and mathematical skills would be a better use of his time, since he could take on an apprenticeship or learn from someone else or take college courses for the film and media aspect of what he'd like to do. In the interim, he wanted his education to be more well balanced and full. So, that's what I'm working on with him.

Ballet and co-op, meetings and all the normal bustle of life are also coming at us pretty rapidly, and we have Nutcracker to think about in less than two months. Bleh. I love them doing the Nutcracker, I just hate that it eats up our Thanksgiving weekend with dress rehearsals and performances. I was hoping that wouldn't be repeated this year. Not only all of this, but Thursday, Mariam came down with an awful case of hives from a reaction of some sort, which resulted in two nights in a row of us being up just about all night, and watching cartoons with her to keep her distracted from the pain and itching that was literally making her shake from the pain. She is doing much better now, but it was so hard for her, and so hard for us to watch and try to help. We still have no idea what triggered it. Fortunately, Rich had the sense not to do the work on our barn roof the Saturday after all of this, I canceled a trip I was going to take with a friend, and he had a BFR canceled, which was probably the safest thing for everyone.

Anyway, here is my menu along with my yarn along. Since we have about a million peaches, and keep getting more, we are eating a ton of them. We have at least one major repeat of a meal this week. Speaking of peaches, I still owe you all the peach upside down cake recipe. I'll try for this week if nobody gets hurt or sick or stays awake all night, two nights in a row.

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, September 06, 2016

Menu Along: I Tried Not to Do This

I had the opportunity to get a lot more knitting and crocheting done this past couple weeks. Rich had a conference in Montana, and aside from the long drive there and back, while he was busy with meetings and workshops and class sessions, I had a lovely hotel room in which to watch food tv and work on projects. And an even lovelier outdoors to sit and knit. I finally finished the knitting on the ballerina top, made quite a bit of progress on Nejat's blanket, and finished another mitt. I still have to weave in ends and block, and I still don't like the top that well. Once I've gotten all the finishing done, I'll try it on and see if it seems any better to me. My plan at the moment is still to send it off to someone else so I don't have to look at it any more.

Since we were on the road, I checked to see if there were any yarn shops around so I could get souvenirs. We stayed at a resort, and there wasn't anything there, but on our last day of the trip, we hit two yarn shops in Bozeman. They were very different from each other, but both had lovely yarn. I have to admit that I found the Yarn Scout more friendly and welcoming, though it was neat to find bison fiber and yarn at Stix. I completely spaced that I have a good friend who spins, so I didn't pick up any fiber for her, which I wish I had.

At Yarn Scout, I found some HiKoo SimpliCria, which I've been wanting to try for myself, and when I said that, the shop owner told me she had just opened the box of new colors and asked if I wanted to look through them. We all know the answer to that, and though there were a couple colors that interested me, I settled on this orchid, and bought a whole bag. Rich talked me into it. I tried to tell myself that getting four to six skeins would be enough, and he said that I might as well get it all, and save us all the sadness and trouble of me wishing I'd bought the rest after we'd returned home. It is chained and composed of baby alpaca like Rowan's discontinued Lima, but it comes at a lower per yard cost and is softer, in my opinion. I have enough to make a short sleeved sweater, which will be perfect for fall and early spring, or under a coat in the winter. It's a little too warm a fiber to make a long sleeved sweater out of, I think, as in sweater weather, I spend as much time indoors as possible.

There was also the mug above. I have been wanting one of those for a while, and they are for sale on etsy, but since it is hand made pottery, it is pricey, and with shipping, I'd held back. There was no shipping to pay in the store, and there is no sales tax in Montana, either, so Rich told me I'd better pick it up, and then helped me find the best blue there.

Since I like to get souvenir yarn that has a tie to the place we visit, I looked for special colorways, or locally dyed or raised or spun yarns. At Yarn Scout, I found some locally raised and spun yarn, I picked up a generous hank of charcoal alpaca, and several dyed for the shop colors. At Stix, there was the bison fiber and yarn. I bought a skein of a bison and merino blend to make a hat or something small like that, as well as the gradient from a local yarn company, Western Sky Knits. I can't tell what exact colorway it is, as it was unmarked. It was so lovely, though, that I had to pick it up. I can see a triangular or semi-circular shawl coming from this yarn.

Rich and I read one more section of Theology of the Body in Simple Language before we left on our trip. I finished two books The Suspicion at Sanditon, and Mudhouse Sabbath. I don't know if it is because _Sanditon_ wasn't complete, but somehow the tone of this mystery seemed more jarring than her others. It read more modern than Regency. Her other novels seemed to keep the tension between not sounding stilted and affected and not sounding out of period better. I noticed the modernity in this one, while the others were smoother, so I was constantly aware that I was a modern person reading people who didn't quite sound like they ought. The story itself was fun and enjoyable. Also, it turns out that I have read _Mudhouse Sabbath_ before. I had just forgotten. I think Lauren Winner might find a lot of what she missed of orthopraxy in Orthodox Christianity, or at least Eastern Catholicism.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On and Yarn Fanatic.

This week began with a teen movie night at our house. We returned from our trip Saturday night, and the kids helped us get everything ready for their party. Rich and the boys turned the back yard into a movie viewing area, with a bigger television and the dvd player out there, hooked up to the big stereo speakers. They strung up lights on the back porch, around the disco ball (what? You don't have one hanging outside your house?), and in the maple tree. They set up chairs, a section of the kids' couch, a mat with a mattress on it and a couple tables for the food and drink. We watched the new Jungle Book, or rather, they did, and Rich and I saw part of it as we went back and forth between the party and our younger kids, who were inside watching a cartoon movie. Including our oldest four, we had 20 teens/pre-teens at the house, and we still had two pizzas left over when it was all said and done. After the movie, Alexander put on a play list of music for everyone to dance, and Rich set up a fire pit, and all had a great time. Since it was Sunday evening, we had the holiday on Monday to rest a bit after our late night.

This was kind of our kick off for school. Amira's name day was on Monday, and we had our neighbors over to grill our goodbye to summer. Today, we began school in earnest, and it went pretty well. Ballet started up again this week, so we're back to weird dinner times and shuffling menus until we figure out a plan that works for all of us. Because of the new dance schedule, Rich is going to be in charge of the making, or at least starting, of dinners on most Fridays, so I'm trying to make those easier meals, with recipes linked here for him.

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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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Menu Plan: August 28 - September 3

My vacation continues apace, but the meals are planned. The kids are still going to do much more of the work themselves, however. We had two birthday celebrations last week. Mariam turned six, and Jerome had his birthday party with his friends. This week is the last week we have of no school or extracurricular activities, though there is a not back to school homeschool picnic. I'm excited to have a week in which all I have to do is knit, read, and rest. I intend to take a good dose of prayer and quiet time 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, August 23, 2016

Yarn Along: Losing Stash Dash

This is my first week of summer break, so if you are looking for a menu plan, you won't find it. The kids have been handling most meals, so I can take a break from all of the stuff they needed me to do all summer. This week and next week, we have nothing on the schedule, except for rest and fun, so I'm enjoying that break before school starts again. Especially since we decided to host a big teen party just before school starts for everyone again, too.

The Marine Layer scarf is finished now, as is another sample of the mitts in a different colorway. My photographer and model friends and I got together to do it all again this past weekend for the final photography, so I can send the entire set of pictures I want to use to the editor this week.

I lost Stash Dash, but I picked up that top up there again. The one that has been nearly finished for almost ten years. I'm starting to hate it. Rich thinks I'm throwing good yarn after bad, and ought to rip it out to make something I actually like, but I am thinking that if I finish it, I can give it to someone who likes it and never have to see it again. Rich and I have a lot of driving to do next week, so I think I can knock this out then, if I don't finish it this week. Between that, Nejat's blanket, and finishing another mitt, I should be able to add three more finished objects this month, which isn't too bad, even if I didn't meet my goal.

My last Magnolia Society Sweater Club shipment finally arrived:

Madelinetoash DK Twist in Dapper

I know I'm not going to get to it right away, but this yarn is for a vest for Alexander. He probably won't get it until next year, either for his birthday or Christmas.

Rich and I have read a couple more sections of Theology of the Body in Simple Language. He's been reading aloud while I knit. I read a couple fluff books last week. One was a fun, happy, little murder, Wicked Stitch, and the other, Going Vintage, I would not recommend at all. This week, I'm reading a slightly more literary, happy, little murder, The Suspicion at Sanditon.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Menu Plan: August 14 - 20

My deadline is looming, so I didn't get the recipes posted on Saturday for the Buffalo Chicken Burgers or the Peach Upside Down Cake, but I will try to do that in the next week and a half. This week is fair, as well as Jerome's birthday, as well as the week of our dance, as well as the week I need to do the final photography for the patterns that will be published in October.

There were a couple of schedule shifts we had to do last week, so there are some repeats this week. Normally, we do our fair food night on this night, but we have been so exhausted and busy, so we just did dinner and then milkshakes. We're still doing a lot of cooking out of the freezers, and doing some preserving. I've put up about 18 jars of blueberry preserves, and I'm getting ready to make peach chutney. We have blackberries in the freezer, so I'm going to try for blackberry peach jam and blackberry lime jam. I wish we could still get good crab apples. They made the best jelly. They looked like stained glass.

I forgot to mention the quotation on the service books for the wedding. Here it is:

I have taken you into my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us . . . I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you. - Saint John Chrysostom (What Husbands Should Say to Their Wives)

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, August 09, 2016

Yarn Along: Marine Layer Regress

I made another set of Marine Layer mitts, and started the scarf, but realized I had cast on too many stitches, about five or six inches into it, and had to rip it all back. So what you see up there is where I was last night. Which means that the deadline to have it finished and photographed is a lot tighter now, so I'm starting to be a bit nervous. The exciting news is that this set and variation will be in an online magazine in October. The designer is supposed to provide the photography, though, and we all know that is my weak spot, so I bartered with a photographer friend and a model friend of mine and did an actual photo shoot, with them doing their work, and me directing what kind of shots and feel I wanted. That was kind of cool. We're going to get together to do it all again in about two weeks to get the final photography done, and I'll send it on to the magazine editor. She already has the patterns.

Still no July shipment or even shipping notice from my Magnolia Society Sweater Club. Hmmmmph. It's supposed to be shipped by the end of this week. I know I'm not going to get to it right away, but this yarn is for a vest for Alexander, and I did want to be able to start it once I finished a few things this month. It would be nice to give him the vest for his birthday.

As for reading, mostly I've been reading The Beginner's Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns, even though I'm not a beginner, looking for some assistance with questions I had, and it has already helped me finesse my pattern writing. Rich has asked that we pick up Theology of the Body in Simple Language as a study for the two of us. It is often our car reading - Rich drives, I read aloud.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Sunday, August 07, 2016

Menu Plan: August 7 - August 13

I took an inadvertent break from posting this past week. I didn't have all the menus planned yet, and we had a whirl wind trip the week before, and then another trip to go to the wedding of one of our Laudate kids. It ended up being a longer trip than we planned, as our van started giving us trouble and we had to get it to a mechanic who couldn't work on it until the next day. Please pray for our van, because it still needs more work, and goes in for further diagnosis on Wednesday.

On top of all of this, we were literally at the gas station getting ready to take the three hour drive back home when Rich started getting phone calls and texts about a fire that was near his work and our home and was heading in our home's direction (though it would have had to cross a creek and irrigated land to get to us), and would he authorize the fire fighters to assist with the county firefighters. It was contained that night, but I was his secretary on the drive as he coordinated with various people and agencies, and the fire ended up being fought on both sides of the fence where he worked. At least two families lost their homes, and about ten buildings were lost, but no lives were lost. While we were figuring out if we were on evacuation or not, and how we might get our animals out, a couple hours later, we received news that the fire was contained at a dairy in a burning hay stack. Two and a half miles from our home. That was closer than I was comfortable with, for sure.

In any case, we got home late, exhausted, and had to get right to it the following day. By the time I had enough rest to try to post on the blog, most of the week was gone, and we had other things pressing on us. So, I took a rest, here. We are in a great season of feasting and fasting, with the Transfiguration this past Saturday and the Dormition coming up next Monday. What a treasure to share in these events in the life of Christ and His Church!

Speaking of which, attending Jordan and Bethany's wedding was such a treat and a beautiful experience. It was so wonderful to participate in celebrating and blessing their nuptials. The focus on their sanctification, and their marriage bed being kept holy and blessed was glorious, as it is so often ignored in weddings. I wondered if we would slip into being their "leaders" or teachers again, but happily, found that we could engage them as the adults they are and treat them as our friends. So, when his younger brother offered me a drink and I talked with him as a peer, he asked if we were, and I said, "You're an adult, I'm an adult, you're married, I'm married, you have a child, I have children, so yes, we're peers." Rich and I stole them away from their daughter and parents, and the work they had to do after the wedding, and had our kids watch their baby, so we could go out for coffee and talk, couple to couple. It was refreshing and a delight to know them as adults, and it was rewarding to know that we had a part, albeit small, in how these young men and women grew up, and they were adults that made us proud to acknowledge our effort. It was a huge compliment that Jordan said that he made a special effort to make sure we made the "A" list for wedding invitations, as we had been an important part of his life and that he felt that we always had wanted what was best for him, and to talk to Seraphim and Laurel and have them ask us adult questions and for our opinions on their lives and choices. We were honored to be asked and proud that we were able to do so without being their superiors, but rather their fellow brother and sister in Christ. Their family is our family, and when we think of the people we love in this world, they are pretty close to the top of our list.

So, the blog was neglected. But I'm back and here is our menu for the week. We have the meat from an entire cow (not steer this time, but an extra dairy cow that they didn't want to breed), coming tomorrow, so while I'm finishing this up, Rich and the boys are cleaning out both freezers, making room, and we are eating a ton out of the freezers this week. We're also going to take some time to do some canning. The goal is to make blackberry lime jam, blackberry peach jam, peach chutney, and blueberry preserves. Also, all the stock bags are being made into stock this week. Flat bags of stock are easier to store in the freezer than lumpy bags of bones and vegetables.

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, July 26, 2016

Menu Along: Knitting and Designing

No photos, but I'm about double the length on the waistband of Yasmina's skirt than I was last week. The picture up there is of the yarn that I'm using for the alternate/variation on my design. I had the darker green in my stash already and picked up the lighter green from Mr. Yarn's going out of business sale. Since I need the pattern edited and the variation knit, plus an extra set of mitts made, I think that's all I'll be working on for the next month, unless I finish them up, and can get back to the other projects I have going or wanted to finish.

I have exactly one more sweater club shipment coming, but it hasn't been sent yet. There has been a delay. I'm hoping to see it next week, now.

We read a little more in Life, the Universe, and Everything, but didn't finish it yet. I have read absolutely nothing else except the Bible and Prayer Book since last week.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

This weekend was a whirwind tour for our family. Saturday, we had a family reunion of sorts, which was a lot of fun. We had initially planned on leaving Friday and spending the night with friends, then going to the party. However, one of Amira's best friends was having a sleepover birthday party, and was only inviting three girls, so they asked if we could find a day that weekend that would work. We decided to stay home Friday, then pick up Amira at around 6:30 in the morning, and head off of a five hour drive. We only ran 20 minutes late. From the party, we went to one of our priests' homes and had dinner with him and his wife, went to church in the morning and had lunch with the parish. It was so good to receive the Eucharist, in the liturgy, with our church members. Since it was my birthday, I picked the activities, so we went blackberry picking, back in our old stomping grounds. We had dinner on the harbor, and met up with friends, then went back for ice cream. At first, we had planned to pick berries, grab ice cream from one of our favorite places, then head back and eat a dinner that was already prepared and in our fridge, but a funny thing happened on the way to the blackberries. We ran into an old friend and spent an hour or so talking to him, so we were later getting started on the berries, and that was after taking our time after church, anyway. So, we decided to head into town for burgers at the best place to get them. So, all in all, my fortieth birthday was pretty nice. I was in my happy place, eating delicious things, with wonderful people, after having had the opportunity both to receive absolution for my sins and advice in confession and the Eucharist with our church body.

We were going to be late coming home, but we ran into a delay in the pass that was pretty bad. It took us almost two and a half hours to go four miles. Aside from one fellow in a truck with an exceptionally good attitude who was rocking out to _Knocking on Heaven's Door_ as he drove, it was pretty miserable. But not as bad as it was for the people who were the reason for the slow down. There was a fatal accident that closed two out of three lanes. And that open lane had only been opened an hour before we got there. Please remember to pray for the soul of the departed and for the other critically injured person. In any case, we left the site of the accident forty minutes after we thought we'd be home. Rich was already exhausted, and had only enough energy to get us home at our first time. So, he pushed until we got to a rest stop about 70 miles from our house, then pulled over and took a nap. Even after he was back on the road, though, he was still pretty tired, so I had him exit at the next rest stop, and I took over driving, because I was slightly less tired than he was, having been able to nap a little while he drove. We got home at around 3:20. Rich was supposed to go to work and Amira had ballet, that was why we were coming back that night, anyway, but Rich sent e-mails to his boss and other folks in the office while I drove saying that he wouldn't make it in. I thought I'd wake up with the light coming in the window, and get Amira up to take her to ballet, but I woke up one minute before her class started. So, we spent Monday sleeping and resting. Which we desperately needed. Because that wasn't our first lack of sleep night, I had only slept two and a half hours the night before we left on the trip in the first place, and Rich had only a couple hours more than I did. Not to mention the 18 years of lack of sleep we're already sporting.

Needless to say, we spent yesterday resting, and everything is a little late this week. Thus the menu along again. We have a few repeats, and a lot of simpler meals or meals that can be prepped either by other people or in advance.

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, July 20, 2016

Yarn Along: Accepted!

I didn't want to delay on Yasmina's skirt for longer than necessary. So, I've just started in, making it as it makes sense. The directions seem to have been translated by someone who didn't have a full grasp on how English knitting terms need to be conveyed. Or, perhaps some of the more finessed details were missed in English. In any case, I've been working at it in such a manner to make it work and to make it most elegantly knit. The cafe curtain saw only a little work.

My exciting news is that I have a pair of designs that may be published in an online magazine, in what was, perhaps, the most simple proposal ever sent. The due date was approaching and the editor asked for a few more submissions. I sent an e-mail asking if an already knit design would be suitable and what would be needed and when, if it was. The response came within an hour, and I was so happy to find that there was interest. I will let you know when it is live online. In the meantime, I'm knitting up another sample in a different set of colors. I don't know how much else I'll be working on until it is finished.

Speaking of finished, I finished the book I started last week. It had enough in it that held my interest, but I wouldn't recommend it. There were too many modern cliches and socially/politically correct themes pasted on (to make it acceptable to the right circles of people?). Since we put down Life, the Universe, and Everything some time ago, because our lives were too busy, we decided to grab The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 25th Anniversary Edition again and finish it this summer. We're pretty close to finishing this, and will move on to the next book after that.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Menu Plan: July 17 - 23

We have a lot of fun stuff planned this week, and the kids have a pretty full social schedule as well. We were blessed to receive some amazing produce from a farmer we know, and so we have tons of eggplant and peppers and melons. Also, our apricot tree is ripening its fruit, so we are snacking on those now, too. It is so wonderful to have fresh produce to eat in the summer.

I plan on trying a recipe for applesauce bread for my knit night, and if it turns out well I'll share how I made it. We are still trying to eat out of our freezer, and we have a ton of berries. I'm thinking muffins and syrups for pancakes are on the horizon.

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, July 12, 2016

Yarn Along: Bumps in the Road

Nejat's star blanket saw a little progress this week, but Yasmina's skirt has been put on hold because the gauge information in the pattern seems completely backward to me, and I can't get an answer from the designer. I may just try it as it makes sense to me and see how it works out from there. Since all my projects are either too big or too complicated for me to work on in the car or socially, I started this cafe curtain as a privacy screen for our bathroom. This project was planned last summer during our bathroom remodel and I'm just getting to it now. It also begins with 50 inches of a simple lace edging from which I will pick up the stitches for the curtain itself. I just finished eight inches so 42 more inches to go! It doesn't seem like I'm making much progress right now on any of my projects.

I picked up a book that I think I'll take back to the library. The concept was fun, for a light book, and I thought I would enjoy it, but I just can't get myself to care about any of the characters. If I can't get into the story by Thursday, it will go in the library bag for Friday.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Menu Plan: July 10 - 16

We have an anniversary this week: 22 years ago on Friday (and it was at a Friday dance in 1994), Rich and I met and danced together for the first time. We're trying to decide how to celebrate that day this year. Fortunately, we have a dance this week, too! This means that my birthday is coming up. Two weeks, people! I'm terrible about knowing what I want for my birthday, and a week or two ago, I had a great idea and promptly forgot what it was. Poor Rich.

Ballet starts again this week for Amira, and she just got her first pointe shoes this weekend, so there is a lot of excitement at our house. It also means that breakfasts are going to be long on ease and short on time. Other than that, we are still fairly free. Next week may be our first week of driver's ed, though. So, school will basically be starting for the summer.

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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