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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Menu Plan: August 31 - September 6

Although we don't start school yet this week (normally, we begin on the day after the commie holiday, but moved things around this year because of other things going on here), the kids' activities are starting this week. I have to keep reminding myself of that. We're also tackling the switching of the wardrobes and the cleaning of the school cubbies. I am not really excited about that, but it needs to be done, so that when we start school, we won't have to be doing that, too.

I did mail my submissions to Interweave Knits, so please pray for me that one or more would be accepted. They said that the soonest a response would be given about acceptance or rejection would be six weeks after the deadline, so mid to late October. However, since it is unlikely they will decide to accept something on first sight, but might reject something on first sight, I am kind of hoping for a later response. I actually have a finished item because of my submission packet, but I will only get it back if the pattern is rejected, so I don't want it back. Though, if they would send it back later, I'd be thrilled. I have a picture of it, but I can't share that until/unless the pattern is published or rejected. It is a miniature version of the full design, made for a doll. I couldn't figure out how to make a swatch that would really show the design elements, so Rich suggested I just make one for a doll, and I did. I hope they think that's creative, instead of thinking it's too small. It's the design I think they are most likely to accept. I think all three are good designs, but one only fits their story boards a little, though I'd be thrilled to get it published, since it is an adult garment with multiple sizes, the other two fit the story boards just right, but I'm not sure if they will want to take two that are similar from the same person, and the other one is both more complex, but also suitable for someone trying to expand her knitting skills. We'll see. If I get one in, I will be excited.

Fall officially began here last week. Right on schedule, it arrives the week following the fair. I don't mind that the weather isn't sweltering, it's still in the 70s and 80s during the day, but the cold nights are sad, and it means that winter is coming. From all local accounts, winter is supposed to be brutal this year. I don't know that I'm going to make it. Rich suggested that I set up a Skype classroom for the co-op, so I don't have to drive there to teach my class this fall. I may do it after the middle of October.

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 on Saturday.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Yarn Along: Birthday Presents

Travel usually helps me get more knitting done, as I have hours of sitting in one place. This time, it wasn't quite as much as I wished. There was a lot of knitting and unknitting and reknitting as I worked my way through swatches and design ideas. Also, since I was charting stitch patterns and working out designs, I couldn't really work on it while talking to other people. However, all of Mariam's planned birthday presents are finished. I thought of knitting a matching bib for her, but ran out of time. There hasn't been any progress on Equinox since last week, but I have a photo of it with the entire body finished for you to see. Here is the Bitty Baby Bib, I believe I've already shared the soaker here.

Aside from the design proposals I can't show you, there are also a few surprise projects coming up in the next couple months and I can't show you those, either, because the recipients read the blog occasionally. There are going to be lots of things I can't share until after they have been received or accepted. I made up for this by adding as many pictures to Ravelry as I possibly could, even if it was just to show the yarn being used. Cirrus has been frogged and renamed and I've reworked the pattern and am starting again. I'd love it if even one of my designs was accepted for the magazine, but I am not so secretly hoping that there will be two - a garment and an accessory.

I finally finished The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, and I really enjoyed it. I read a quick, happy, little murder mystery, The Quick and the Thread: An Embroidery Mystery, while we were on our trip during times that I couldn't concentrate on my knitting. Though I am still slowly absorbing Christ in His Saints, I have also started A Prayer Journal. I'll continue to learn from both East and West, I suppose.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Menu Plan: August 24 - 30

We have had what we hope is our final funeral/memorial trip of this year. We went and celebrated the life of Rich's grandfather, and he took us all out to pizza like he so enjoyed doing when he was with us. The next day, we were able to go to one of our churches and receive the Eucharist there.

It is Mariam's birthday this week, so it's a full, circle of life kind of time for us. Mariam, like the rest of our children, chose the meals for her birthday, and I think they are very four year old meals. She doesn't really have many friends who are not also either family friends or friends of her siblings yet, but she does have a particular friend among the kids' friends' siblings that she adores, so we invited the whole family over and she will get to play with "Ducky" on her birthday.

We have a busy week as usual, and our weekend is even busier. I was trying to figure out a quick meal that I could either get in the crock pot in the morning or throw together in the evening for Saturday. Some friends of ours are moving, Rich is helping them, and I know I will be doing last minute work on my design proposals. While I was asking the kids for ideas, Dominic offered to make a meal. So, he and Alexander are making a dinner from a cookbook of Alexander's, Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast. Alexander is going to take the main dish and one of the side dishes, and Dominic is going to handle another side dish and the salad.

Even though we aren't starting school next week, the kids' activities are starting up for the year, so ballet begins again for two of our girls. There is a meeting about the Nutcracker for the parents, and I am already stressed out about it. There are two days of shows, four performances, the first on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, with a full dress rehearsal on Friday. Those of you who know me, or who have been reading along long enough know that I start cooking on Monday and my schedule for the weekend is largely to rest. Friday I have set for eating pie and sleeping. I am not sure how I am going to handle this. I'm glad we didn't sign Mariam up this year, because I just don't think she is ready for two recitals, let alone two days of Nutcracker right at the beginning. Pray for us.

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 on Saturday.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Yarn Along: Hidden Progress

I haven't done a lot of knitting or reading over the past couple weeks, because it was fair week and we were slammed. I didn't finish Jerome's present, though I'm about 60% through it. Fortunately for me, his birthday party isn't for a couple weeks, so I can give it to him then (and we did have a couple family presents for him that he enjoyed). I have finished most of my Equinox test. I have the sleeves to do, and then weaving in ends and blocking, so probably 68 - 70% finished. No picture for that, sorry!

I'm really excited about the design proposals I'm preparing for Interweave Knits. One proposal is sketched and written, and two are in progress. It is the swatching I'm knitting on mostly these days (and Jerome's and Mariam's presents). These are also things that I can't post pictures of, because IK wants exclusive first publishing rights (though subsequent publishing is mine to do as I wish). What has been even more thrilling to me is that in seeking yarn support from various yarn companies for these proposals, I have had requests to submit some design ideas to the yarn companies, too. So, when I finish these proposals, I'm going to get to work on some descriptions for those. I have already had some yarn suggestions put forth, and come up with a few ideas that I think would work with those yarns.

As I said, I haven't done much reading either. The book in the photo is my latest accepted purchase suggestion at our library, Pope Awesome and Other Stories. I love our library. I've only read the first several pages, but really, I'm putting it aside so I can finish two other books, and work on the knitting.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Menu Plan: August 17 - 23

So, fair week is over! We have a love hate relationship with the fair. We enjoy going, entering, working, but it is so exhausting. Rich and I kept falling asleep today every time we sat down. Every time.

Our Grocery Outlet had an amazing deal on wild caught, crab claw meat in a cans in the refrigerator section. It was $5.99/lb. So we bought six cans. We've had crab pasta, grilled crab and cheese sandwiches with sliced tomato, and we're going to have crab cakes this week. We also were able to pick up local corn for $1.00 a dozen this past week, so we've been eating lots of it. We also picked up a ton of pickling cucumbers and zucchini from a friend's garden, so we're eating a lot of that. The zucchini is great for making into ribbons like pasta and for grating for adding to sauces, breads, cakes, and such. The ones that are too big and seedy, we're feeding to the chickens, who turn it into eggs for us. I'm making corn relish, dill pickle relish, and my spicy bread and butter pickles this week with our abundance of produce. Our apricot tree is ripening nicely, so if I have time, I will try to make some jelly, syrup, preserves, and butter from them. However, with Jerome's birthday this week and recovering from fair and a memorial to go to, it may have to wait until next week.

I'm doing a ton of design work. I have three proposals going for the summer issue of Interweave Knits that have to be in their hands early in September, so I'm hustling on those. One proposal is almost finished with the writing, one is about half way there, and the third is just started, but it a more developed design in my mind, so won't take as long to write. However, there is still that matter of only two weeks to get it done and have all the swatching finished and everything mailed to them, so there is that. I'm still in denial about school, so I've done almost nothing to prepare. That is something I'll be hustling with pretty soon, though.

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 on Saturday.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Recipe Round Up: Potato Wedges

These are really simple and tasty. They are a great side dish, and are better for you than frozen tater tots. They are also super simple to make.

3 pounds potatoes, scrubbed and cut into wedges
1/3 cup safflower oil

1/2 cup all purpose or pastry flour (you could probably use cornstarch or rice flour just as easily)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic granules
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In one bowl, mix potato wedges and oil. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Toss oil coated potatoes in the flour and spice mixture.

Bake on shallow baking sheets, in single layers, for 45 - 50 minutes.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Menu Plan: August 10 - 16

We have had many blessings at the farmers' market this week, and so we have a ton of plums, peaches, nectarines, some raspberries, loads of tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash, shallots, basil, watermelon. Plus there was a Yukon Gold potato glean from which Alexander and Rich brought home almost 175 pounds of potatoes, and our apricot tree is doing really well this year. I should take some time this week to do some canning and freezing. However, it is also fair week, so we will be rather busy with that.

I am somewhat in denial that school starts up again next month, and I haven't prepared as much as I ought to have done. We have a trip planned, though, and I think I will bring my planning books and finish up our calendar then. Most of our fall calendar is already set up, but I still have lesson planning and outlines to do.

Our climate here is such that we really only get two weeks of fall before it is all of a sudden winter. And fall starts the week after the fair. So, that's depressing. We've already seen mornings in the upper 40s here. I'm in denial about that, as well. I hate winter. And we haven't accomplished all the things we wanted to do this summer.

Someone from our family will be working our neighborhood booth at close time each night of the fair. So, I've tried to plan meals that could be packaged and sent with whoever was working the close without too much trouble. There will probably be some swapping of our booth's stuff for other group's offerings as well. I'm only working one day this year at the fair, and we haven't entered a single thing this year. Last year was the only year I didn't work the fair booth since we moved here, and that includes working up until the Saturday before Mariam was born one year. We're kind of sad about not entering at the fair, but we had so many things going on with our schedule, that it just wasn't feasible. We were planning on being at my 20th high school reunion this weekend, and missing two days of the fair, but then we had a death in the family, which required a trip to the same area within a week, and there were scheduling complications with Rich's work and the fair and some friends of ours who live in my hometown and it just became too much. By the time we realized we'd be here for all of the fair and around to collect the projects at the end, there really wasn't time or energy to dedicate to good entries. So, we're just looking this year. But next year, we're going to dominate yet again.

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 on Saturday.

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Thursday, August 07, 2014

Yarn Along: Ambition or Insanity

Only phone pictures this week. I'm almost finished with the body on Equinox. One of Mariam's presents is finished, and I have one or two to finish for her birthday. Still plugging away, but slowly, on Jerome's present (I'm further along than the picture and stats show, but not by a ton).

Interweave Knits has put out their themes and submission guidelines for Summer 2015 and I am going to try to submit three design proposals to them. By September 5. While preparing for school, finishing the test knit, making birthday gifts, and going to family memorials. One of the designs I'm going to propose to them is Cirrus, which will probably go through a name change and means that all my begging for test knitters will be for yet a further future date, since they don't want me working on the pattern much until it has been accepted and revisions are discussed.

I took a break from Christ in His Saints and The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, though I'm this close to finishing on both. However, last month while I was away with Rich, I read Girl to Girl: Honest Talk About Growing Up and Your Changing Body, to see if it would be an appropriate book to offer our girls, as we discuss this topic. Except for the use of the word b00bs in one place, that was quoted from a girl interviewed for the book, I think it was fairly well done. Obviously, it still requires a discussion with me on our faith's and family's beliefs and practice, but overall, it covered the necessary things, without trying to introduce topics that were either inappropriate, or more appropriately handled by the family. In that same vein, Rich and I read Theology of His Body / Theology of Her Body, which is more appropriate for older teens. Or at least, in our house that is the case. Our kids are not exposed to much in the way of popular media, and since they don't get it from school fellows, they are pretty informed about the reality of human sexuality, but are still innocent in the licentiousness and lewdness of the world. I would think that if your children had more exposure to pop culture or were in school, this book would be appropriate at around 11 to 13. In our house, it it more like 13 or 14 for the girls, and 15 or 16 for the boys. We were very impressed by how the book handled this delicate topic, and except for one reference to the "stain" of original sin, we did not feel like we had to address any differences in theology. (We, as the early Church, and the Orthodox Church, and Eastern Catholics, do not believe that the stain or guilt of original sin is inherited. We do not believe that babies are born sinners. We believe that in the Fall, all Creation Fell, and therefore, all humans have concupiscience, which is the tendency toward sin, but that no one is a sinner simply by his existence. It is in his acts of sin that he becomes a sinner. The nature he inherits is not a "sin nature," but a nature that has a tendency to sin. It may seem like a slight difference, but it makes a big difference when it comes to the ideas of God's declaration that Creation was good and Man, very good, how we are created in God's image, and therefore are good, the nature of salvation as a substitutionary atonement as a rescue mission rather than a penal satisfaction, that there is no wrath of God to be satisfied in the Crucifixion, how Mary could have been sinless without requiring her to be immaculate - which is a solution for a created problem, and so on.)

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Sunday, August 03, 2014

Menu Plan: August 3 - 9

I made the steam sautéed carrots and red onion with garlic and basil as an experiment last week. It was a highly successful experiment. I will be doing it again when we have a lot of basil to use. The onions weren't caramelized, but they were soft and sweet and delicious. We've had a windfall of zucchini and cucumbers, so we'll be eating a lot of those this week.

Also, we lost Rich's grandfather on Thursday, so would appreciate prayers for the family and for the repose of his soul. We'll be making another memorial trip in the next couple weeks.

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 on Saturday.

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Saturday, August 02, 2014

Recipe Round Up: Ribs and Beans

This is a recipe that works with whatever ribs you have and whatever beans you have. It is a great, inexpensive meal to make with tougher, less expensive cuts of meat. I've made this with spare ribs, short ribs, lamb ribs, you name it. We've used all kind of beans, depending on what we had available and sounded good. I halved the recipe to be for a smaller family, but if you have a big enough pot, this is a dish that freezes well, so doubling it and freezing the excess, either as an entire meal or in portioned out sizes, is a great idea. This is a meal that works as a one dish meal, or you can make some sort of bread/roll/biscuit to go with it, we like to serve fruit as a side dish to it as well.

1 lb Hutterite soup beans
water to cover
olive oil or other fat
2 pounds ribs (beef, pork, or lamb)
salt and pepper
4 ribs celery, finely sliced
4 carrots, scrubbed and diced
2 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
32 ounces canned, diced tomatoes with juices (if you use store bought cans, two will be enough)
16 ounces tomato sauce or purée (or about one larger can of sauce/purée)

Soak your beans for at least three hours, up to overnight. Drain and use fresh water when you add the beans to the pot.

Heat olive oil on med-high in a large, heavy, soup pot. Salt and pepper your ribs and lay them in the hot fat to brown. Turn once, then remove from the pot and set aside.

Add the vegetables to the fat in the pot, and sauté them until the onions are translucent and the other vegetables are softened. Stir in the oregano, cumin and chipotle powder. Return the meat to the pot, along with the drained beans. Pour in the tomatoes and sauce and stir it all together. Rinse out the cans and use the water to fill the pot to cover the beans well. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for at least an hour and a half, up to two hours, so the beans are cooked thoroughly and the meat can be easily removed from the bones.

Remove meat, and shred the meat from the bones, returning the meat to the pot. Save the bones and fat for stock in your freezer. Taste for to adjust seasoning. Serves about 6 people pretty easily.

To make this in the slow cooker, I do all of this, but instead I put the meat into the crock pot after browning, and add the sautéed vegetables, herbs and spices, the tomatoes and beans over the meat with a little less water than I do on the stove, as there is so little evaporation, cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.

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