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Monday, November 24, 2014

Menu Plan: Thanksgiving Week

We are well into our preparations for Thanksgiving this year. Rich and I did our drive to the big city to do our grocery shopping and visit exotic places like Trader Joe's. I'm trying to keep most of the other meals pretty simple this week so I can focus on ahead of time prep. We're having only one couple and one family over this year. We also have Nutcracker dress rehearsal and two performances this weekend, which is really making me overwrought. I really hope we don't have this schedule again. Normally, my after Thanksgiving plans are to rest from cooking all week, and my day after Thanksgiving schedule is something like this: Sleep. Eat Pie.

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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Friday, November 21, 2014

Vacation Randomania

It's been a while since I've done a randomizer post. Our numerous trips this spring, summer, and fall have provided us quite a few winners. Here is a sampling.

While driving the long and scenic way back home from one of the memorials we went to this year, we passed a U-Haul with those giant clown spiders on it. Thus began our discussion of what the scariest creature ever would be. We finally ended up with a Copperhead Crocodile Clown Shark Spider. Then the boys decided that a great horror film could be made about such a creature that was a statue which came to life. Sleep well tonight.

On our second to last leg back home from Arizona, after going though California and getting stuck in fires set by an arsonist and having to go a longer route to get through, we ended up stopping at a Burger King to grab a snack and make a pit stop. The staff saw that we had a big crowd and gave crowns to each of the kids. Including our teenagers. They immediately put them on and declared themselves the princes and princesses of Burgeria. Everyone was a bit punchy by then.

As we drove into town again, I saw the signs up in English and Spanish about getting vaccines that are outside of Walgreens. Evidently, the Spanish word for vaccine is something like vacuna. However, every time I see it, I think it is something about a movement of vicuñas against meningitis. I never knew they had such strong feelings about it.

Rich and I had a short, one night trip to Portland in September. No kids at all, not even Nejat. I had forgotten how little time it took to pack for just the two of us. And how little we had to pack, period. We brought a backpack and my purse. Normally a one night trip with our family looks like we've decided to move in forever.

Technically, this was not during or returning from a trip, but in between a couple, Mariam told me about the 10 children she planned on having, including two named Rosie Rosie and Mary.

My favorite, though, was on our most recent trip. We were back "home" for a little vacation, and while at Fred Meyer, a sales lady told us how beautiful our family was, and especially what a sweet baby we had. Nejat, who had been marching around the floor while we looked for pants for Alexander, looked up at her, said "Cankoo!" and that lady told us she had made her entire day.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Penna Olives

One of the things that I introduced to my in laws and (less so, because he'd already had exposure in Turkey) Rich was my love of briny, sour olives. Olives were part of just about every meal at my house growing up, they weren't reserved for relish trays or cocktails or dinners. Rich and I share, and now our children do, too, a love of pickled anything.

So, I was thrilled when a friend from a cooking group told me about an opportunity to test olive and pickled products from Penna Olives. Our box arrived a little while ago with four products in it:

There were Spicy Pickled Beans, Sicilian Spiced Pitted Olives, Olivaseca, and Dirty Martini Mix, which is their mother brine, triple filtered, from curing olives. When I looked up the products on their website, I was pleasantly surprised at the prices, too. Normally products like these at our grocery stores are priced higher, sometimes as much as double.

The beans were absconded with by Rich and the kids and mostly eaten before I had a chance to think of what to do with them in the kitchen. They are garlicky and have a nice heat to them, but best of all, they really are crisp. There are no floppy beans in these jars. I have a few left that I am thinking of adding to my Slow Sauteed Green Beans later this week.

Martinis aren't my favorite drink, as I despise gin, so the Dirty Martini Mix was used in my Hamburger Stew a couple weeks ago, in place of the water. I made a huge batch for us and some friends, and it really added a little something to the dish. It wasn't overpowering, which I had worried about initially. It took a rather humble dish and elevated it just a little to something more special.

We haven't eaten a lot of the Sicilian olives, mostly because we thought we'd save them for our Thanksgiving relish tray and see how our guests like them. We enjoyed the flavor, they weren't spiced as they typically are, in my experience, but they were quite tasty. The other olives, the Olivaseca, were really our favorites, though. I have plans to make an olive bread with these, to keep myself from eating them all without sharing. I'll post the results when I have made it.

You (and any author or company who has asked for it) know that I am brutally honest in my reviews. These are definitely products I would buy for our family, as gifts, and I wish our stores carried them. I am scheduled to receive some more products to try from them, some olives to cure, and I'm really excited about that. I've wanted to cure olives for some time. One thing I really appreciate about Penna is how open they are to the idea that taste is subjective. In the materials I received from them, they specifically included instructions on rebrining the olives, should the flavor not suit us. It was refreshing to see that, and helpful to learn how simple it really was to change the flavors of the olives. I'll definitely be ordering from them, and if you know us, you may see some at Christmas this year.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Yarn Along: Baby Knitting

After a spate of finishing in the last couple weeks, I've been working on my Equinox, correcting my error and finishing one of two sleeves - I think I will have enough yarn left to lengthen it, now that I've seen how much was necessary for the first sleeve and started the second.

I've also done some more baby knitting for some friends. There is that sweater up top which will go to a friend's daughter, who is having a baby in a month or two. Sea Smoke is almost revised and reworked for publication, but there has also been a sadder reason to knit for a baby, for our friend who has lost one of their twins and is trying to keep the other in long enough. Please pray for them.

If you missed it, I do have a quick and easy headband pattern, Fog Bank, up on both Nimblestix and Ravelry. Favorite it, queue it, download it and enjoy! It is one of my Christmas presents to my readers and followers.

I've had such little time to read lately. The only book I finished is Thread End: An Embroidery Mystery.

My stack of books to read.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Menu Plan: November 16 - 22

I had planned on doing our menu plan last week, even though we had a vacation, because we were still going to be cooking several of the nights. However, on Saturday we received the news that my friend Kim died, surrounded by her family. Her funeral was set for the following Saturday, so we added another trip to our week. On top of that, we had a lot of schedule shifts and changes in meals, and I just scrapped posting anything. In the middle of our trip, the weather turned bitterly cold rather quickly, so we came home to some frozen produce that we had to deal with as much as we could before turning around again. This was a rough weekend for us. Kim's funeral was on the anniversary of us losing Rayan. We also found out a couple days before that some friends of ours lost one of their twins to a sub-chorionic bleed. When you are part of the lost children club you truly have compassion and feel it with those who go through the loss, almost like going through your own loss again. We are praying for the other baby to remain safe within the womb.

Kim's funeral was so beautiful. Since we've had the opportunity to go to many memorials and funerals over the past few years, especially this year, Rich and I were struck by the beauty and faith of this one especially. One of her daughters did the first reading and her husband did the second reading. The Psalm was sung by two seminarians, beautiful men with beautiful voices, and the music was all played by a string quartet. The recessional was a piece I had played as my senior violin solo, and was so appropriate and lovely. Kim and her family chose the Scripture passages* carefully, and it was such a powerful statement of their faith and hope in such a hard time. The church was a rather large church, and it was packed. There wasn't even room at the reception to fit all of us, and it was standing room only. Kim's life touched so many people, and I was so glad for Brian that so many were there to show their sorrow and love.

Losing a dear friend is always hard, but so much more so when she is young (Kim had just turned 48) and has a young family. Her children are all so beautiful, and I couldn't believe how grown up her son looked, though Rich pointed out that being in a suit will do that, anyway. I am praying for all of her four children and her husband that they would be comforted and given grace to continue the work that Kim had done in their family and in the world. Please pray for the repose of her soul, though I have to agree with the priest that her suffering on this earth as she died, and receiving extreme unction probably helped cleanse her from the effects of her sins. She suffered beautifully, caring for those who loved her more than she cared for herself. Memory eternal Kim! May light perpetual shine upon you!

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.

*"But the righteous man, though he die early, will be at rest. For old age is not honored for length of time, nor measured by number of years; but understanding is gray hair for men, and a blameless life is ripe old age. There was one who pleased God and was loved by Him, and while living among sinners he was taken up. He was caught up lest evil change his understanding or guile deceive his soul. For the fascination of wickedness obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind. Being perfected in a short time, he fulfilled long years; for his soul was pleasing to the Lord, therefore He took him quickly from the midst of wickedness. Yet the peoples saw and did not understand, nor take such a thing to heart, that God's grace and mercy are with His elect, and He watches over His holy ones." - Wisdom 4:7-15

"The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Forever." - Psalm 23

"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors-not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." - Romans 8:9-23

"Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, "Look, He is calling for Elijah!" Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, "Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down." And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, "Truly this Man was the Son of God!" There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?" But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away-for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him." - Mark 15:33-41, 16:1-6

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Finished Object Photos Plus Fog Bank Is Live!

I promised that I would post some pictures of recent (and not so recent) finished objects on their recipients. So, here they are!

Alexander had wind blowing in his teeth and eyes while we took this picture, so this was the closest to a smile he could get. I'm going to try to get another, better, photo of him when it isn't so windy.

Here is my friend Christina in her wristers and headband* - the really funny thing is that before I decided just to let people choose what they want, I intended this set to go to Christina.

Jill chose the cabled scarf I made. I wasn't sure whether this should go to her or the cowl, and the third friend who was going to be part of our unbirthday party ended up not being able to make it, but she doesn't really like blue and cream stripes in clothing. So, I'll just show it to her and see what she thinks.

Here I am in my Ring Around the Rosy scarf that I made in May. I really like this, and I'm glad I kept it for myself.

*Also, a heads up that Fog Bank is live on both Nimblestix and Ravelry now.

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Saturday, November 08, 2014

Recipe Round Up: Ful

This recipe is long overdue, and it's so easy to make. I usually soak the fava beans overnight, drain them and start them cooking in the morning before I shower and dress, so they can be ready to eat when I'm finished getting myself ready, preparing for school, making my bed, and so on.

3 cups fava beans
water to cover
1 head garlic, peeled and smashed (a little)
pinch baking soda (maybe two pinches)
salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil, to serve
any number of toppings or hot sauces - I simply puréed some onions and tomatoes with hot sauce in the above photo, but often serve it with Green Hot Sauce or Harissa or a chopped tomato, onion, and hot pepper mix

Soak the fava beans overnight, or for at least six hours. Drain and put them in a pot with water to cover by about 2 inches, garlic, and baking soda. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for an hour to an hour and a half. Drain almost all the liquid out, reserving the liquid in case you need more, mash the beans and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Put in a shallow dish, put your garnish of choice in the center and drizzle heavily with olive oil.

Serve with warmed Khoubz Araby (Pita Bread) or lightly toasted bread.

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Thursday, November 06, 2014

October Yarn Club

The first rule of yarn club is always talk about yarn club.

Here are October's yarns. The shipment from Paradise included a pattern for some fingerless mitts and a nice little pot of a cucumber melon scented lotion bar along with the very generous Kollage Happiness yarn in the specially dyed Lilac City colorway. I'm still not positive what I want to use it for, so it's sitting in the stash at the moment. The colors are really nice, but I want to find something that will highlight them and not muddy them.

The Magnolia Society shipment was 15 Unicorn Tails in a bundle called Color Pop made of five different colors: Aura, Celadon, Charcoal, Mandala, and Moonstone. I plan to make a granny square scarf with them, using the squares from this pillow. If I did the math correctly, that should be 60 individual variations using all five colors, with three colors in each square. That should make a scarf that is about 48 inches long, and seven inches wide, if I make it three squares across and 20 squares long.

The only complaint I'm having with the Magnolia Society shipments is that they aren't coming in the month they are supposed to arrive. I think they weren't even shipped in those months. So, September's was sent and arrived in October, October's was sent and arrived in November. Which means, I guess I'll get a nice treat for my Saint Nicholas stocking in December.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Yarn Along: Saint George is Live!

First off, here are the unbirthday presents! Only one of them is not finished, and I have been clipping right along on that, so I know it will be completed in time. I'll try to get pictures of them on their recipients on Thursday night and post those photos here. There has been a lot of finishing over the past week. I finally blocked Saint George, so Alexander can have his present. Saint George is written and for sale on both Nimblestix and Ravelry. Fog Bank (the head band above) will also available on both Nimblestix and Ravelry later this week (and it's free!). Again, please favorite them, queue them, and buy/download them! It helps me as a designer to get more visibility.

Here is Saint George, blocked and ready to wear!

I really liked how this picture of it blocking showed the diamond pattern between the blocks.

Still not finished with either Christ in His Saints or Northanger Abbey: (Classics hardcover) (Hardcover Classics) (I was supposed to finish Northanger Abbey by the end of October!). Though I did read another happy, little murder: Cross-Stitch Before Dying: An Embroidery Mystery, which was fun and slightly less predictable than the ones before it in the series.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On

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Monday, November 03, 2014

Menu Plan: November 2 - 8

I still never posted the ful recipe, which is ridiculous, because it is quite simple. I'll post it this week, in the next couple days. There was just so much going on with friends and family last week, rehearsals and helping with campaigns and birthday parties and busy times at work. We also had another apple glean, this time for Cameos, which we really like. So, I'm hoping to get some apple sauce and pies made this week. Tuesday's meal ended up being moved to Thursday and Saturday's meal ended up being changed entirely, because our situation and schedule changed entirely. And I spent much of Saturday asleep, trying to recover from a rather late night and fight a bad cold. Rich took over my ferrying and chauffeuring that day.

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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