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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Yarn Along: Eclectic and Disorganized

I'm almost finished with my socks, though I'm wishing I had ended the pattern on the first sock about a round before I did. Since I didn't want to undo the toe to fix it, I'll keep it the same on the second sock, but another time, I'd leave the last purl round off, and let the zig zag BO be the final ridge. I still need test knitters for my aran weight fingerless mitt pattern. Please e-mail me or leave a comment with contact information if you are interested. I'd like to get these published by the end of February, if that gives you an idea of a time frame. The first mitt I knit took me about three days with lots of homeschooling, errands, extra evening activities and so on - this isn't a project that will take a large chunk of your time. Please, please, please let me know if you can do this. There will be prizes and rewards for those who do.

Again, my knitting is a bit mixed up this week. Partly, it's because I have had so many other claims on my time, so I've had to work on things that don't require much concentration. Partly, it's been because we've been exhausted and sleepless and a little worried about Nejat. Also, I have a new set of projects for a friend who lost one twin this past fall, and just was flown to a nearby city's hospital because she has a pretty serious rupture of membranes, and the other twin is only 27 weeks old. Please pray for them as well. Her husband is trying to be home and at work with their six other children, while she is in the hospital. So, I've set aside some of the other projects I was working on to make some preemie clothes, since I don't think she'll be able to keep her in as late as I kept Nejat in, as she is five weeks earlier than I was at my rupture, and she has less water in the pool, it sounds like. They, too, could use your prayers.

This month is the last month of my Magnolia Club subscription, and the fifth month of my Paradise subscription. The yarns this month were better than last month's.

You'll have to trust me that there is more green in the skein on the left and that the center two are more brown than they appear. It's hard for me to capture color anyway, and with little good outdoor light and the lights of the room, it's nearly impossible for this poor photographer.

People were talking in the Paradise group about finding knots in their yarn. I don't normally wind my yarn until right before I use it, because I like to keep it more relaxed and have the tags on the hanks or skeins. However, since this was a small lot, specially hand dyed color, I wound mine so I could get a replacement if there was one in an inopportune place. Which there was (see above). However, not only did they replace it, but they let me keep the first skein, too! The second skein was a nicer example of the colorway, Palouse Yarn Company's Merino Fine in Idler's Rest, as well, looking more like the trees than simply the tree bark. I still haven't decided what to make with it. The two middle skeins are some MadelineTosh Blue Faced Leicester Light in a neutral colorway called Floorboards, which I am loving. It is a brown that tends toward the purple and grey. I'm having a hard time deciding what to make with it. There is enough to make two pairs of socks, or a rather big shawl, or some small garments, or...

Since this is the last month of my Magnolia subscription, and I'm trying not to buy yarn outside of souvenirs this year, I am not going to be seeing any more MadelineTosh for the year unless it's given to me as a gift. So, Yarn Box is tempting me with their sock yarn club and there are noises of a sweater quantity Magnolia Society subscription starting up soon to lead me astray from my good intentions as well. However, I am steeling myself and looking away, because now we have an ambulance and ER bill to add to our medical bills. I'm expecting to have those bills in hand about when I've paid off Nejat's and Mariam's. At least I have the Paradise club to get me through August, when it ends, as Rich told me to ride it out rather than cancel it, which was my inclination.

Between our emergency adventures and our time commitments this past week, I have done absolutely no reading that wasn't directly related to homeschool lessons or Morning Prayer.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Menu Plan: January 25 - 31

My menu plan is a bit late this week, as we had a kind of scary adventure this weekend. We went to a nearby city to do some shopping with Christmas gift cards, do some exchanging of Christmas gifts, and get some more extensive grocery shopping done. While we were at the Cash and Carry, Rich and I headed into the refrigerator case to look for a few things, so we handed Nejat to Alexander. Shortly after, he opened the door and told us something was wrong with her. She had begun what looked like a seizure. Since Amira had a seizure resulting from choking and hypoxia which followed, we knew what it looked like. Nejat was still breathing and had her eyes open, though, and we didn't know what could have brought it on, as it didn't appear she had choked on anything. Rich took her from Alexander and I called 911. We tried back blows, in case she had choked, but there was nothing to dislodge. We held her and talked to her until the EMTs and paramedics came, when I got to ride in the ambulance with her, as nobody knew what brought on her seizure and her muscle control and heart rate didn't normalize in the amount of time they liked to see. Rich followed with the rest of our children. At the ER, they were relieved that she had a high fever, as it indicated a febrile seizure, rather than diabetic shock or epilepsy. They gave ibuprofen to help reduce her fever, and we stripped her down to her diaper to help cool her off. We are all still pretty shaken up by this, and since she has had such an episode, it doubles or triples her chance of having one again, though that is still only .2 - .3% of a chance. And she doesn't get fevers that often, let alone ones that come as suddenly as this one did. The odd thing is that not one of us was sick or had been recently, and even she didn't show signs of being sick, except for having little appetite that morning. She had been playing and singing and cheerful just seconds before it began. She is doing fine now, and we have her sleeping in our room again to keep an eye on her, but we are all still a bit tense, and she isn't sleeping well at night, which keeps Rich and me awake, too. We would appreciate your prayers for her health, for our peace and rest.
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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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Yarn Along: New Projects and Equinox Photos

This week's yarn along is kind of a mish mash. In an effort to both knit more for myself and make more socks, I have cast on for a pair of anklets. Mostly because I bought an oddball skein of this angora merino sock yarn, and while I could make children's socks or use it in colorwork, I really wanted to have angora and merino socks for me. So, I did a little ruffle on the cuff and a rib pattern that is broken up with some garter bands, and I'm at the heel on the first sock. It's so much faster when you don't have to knit an entire leg first!

I'm also working on a fingerless mitt pattern for publication. The one up there is the prototype, and I'm not happy with it, so I'm modifying the pattern. I'm searching for some pattern testers who will receive the pattern for free, as well as being able to provide some input on the design, and I have set up a Facebook group for pattern testers. I'd like a few more testers, so if you are interested, please contact me using the link in my side bar, or leave a comment with contact information and I'll find a way to add you to the group. This set of mitts requires an ability to knit in the round, basic stranding skills, uses aran yarn, in small quantities, so it is suitable for oddballs and partial skeins, and will need three colors. Those who finish the mitts and let me use their pictures on the pattern page will get a little bonus, too.

Each year, I try to avoid the Christmas rush of knitting and crafting, some years with better success than others, but I do try to knit something for each family member as a birthday gift. Well, birthday season is nearly upon us and that bag of red yarn and the one skein of ivory yarn is about to become a Weasley-esque sweater for Elijah. I'm not going to make it quite as baggy, and I'll use our last name initial instead of his first name. This is so it can be passed down to other siblings more easily.

Here are those daylight pictures of Equinox for you!

I have done almost no reading this week. Christ in His Saints has been neglected, but I didn't even really feel up to reading the light and easy The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2: The Terror of the Southlands. I've just been too worn out and tired and busy. I'll have to live through your reading.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Menu Plan: January 18 - 24

We ordered quite a lot from our produce co-op this week, so we have quite a bit of good fruits and vegetables to use this week. On Saturday, we ate such a late brunch that we ended up eating carrot ginger soup with salami sandwiches. So the meatloaf was moved to tonight. We ended up having a cookie emergency, and the horseradish dill potato pancakes became baked potatoes, instead. I'm still cooking through our freezer and trying to find a source for more pastured pork and beef for a decent price, or at all, at this time of year. We have some more butchering to do, we just put seven roosters in the freezer in the last couple weeks. I have made soup and chicken salad out of one, and another is destined to be soup. The others are still up in the air as to what they will become.
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, January 17, 2015

Jumping on the Bandwagon. A Year Later

So. A little over a year ago, I saw some mommy bloggers that I follow, and a food blogger I'm friends with, post about ordering a personal stylist service from Stitch Fix. I liked the idea of having a personal stylist who could pick out some pieces for me without my having to go anywhere, but honestly couldn't justify the price and there were always mental reservations that held me back. I decided to go for it this time, though, and I was happy with my experience. It wasn't perfect, but it was better than my worst fears, and there were definitely some winners. This is something that I would do again, probably in a few months, maybe for my birthday. The service can be regularly scheduled for up to every two weeks, but I just don't buy that many clothes that frequently.

There is a $20 styling fee that is applied to any and all items you purchase from your box and if you buy all five items, there is a 25% discount on all of them. Also, you can get credits from referrals, and they do sell gift cards. You lose your styling fee if you don't get anything from the box. At that point, you are paying for the experience. Anyway. Friday morning, my box arrived! Dominic was the only one who noticed the FedEx truck, as we were in the middle of Morning Prayer and he was standing to read the Psalm. Which means either that we were all really unobservant, or he just wasn't paying that much attention to our prayers (or that, since he was standing, he noticed the movement outside the window more, though why we didn't hear the truck, I'm still not sure).

Inside were five pieces of clothing, a note from my stylist (Liz) who did a great job paying attention to the comments and requests I made, along with five style cards that had a couple ways to wear each piece, a postage paid envelope for anything I don't want to keep, and a card on how best to utilize the service.

So, here we go. These are the clothes that were in my box. I specifically asked for a dress I could wear in the winter, because most of mine are pretty light, thin, and/or summery. I also asked that they not be black or charcoal, because I am trying to expand my options, stretch myself, and wear more colors. She did a great job on the dresses, and picked perfect ones for me.

Item #1 Market and Spruce Colibri Polka Dot Print Blouse - $48

This would have been fine if it fit properly. Even though they ask your size and bra size, this one pulled a bit across the bust. Anything that buttons across my front needs to be bigger. I can't help it, I'm just drawn that way. There are tabs to button the sleeves up in a fashionably casual manner, but I didn't bother, because it didn't fit. I did like it, though, from the 3/4 sleeves, to the polka dots, and the navy color, and even the way it buttoned, leaving an interesting neckline (which I mentioned I liked). I asked if they could find it in a larger size, but they couldn't.

Item #2 Ellison Tommy Colorblock Raglan Sweater - $48

This is my new boyfriend that the kids made. Rich was having me pose with "his arm around you" and making me laugh. He was too cool to come inside with us, though.

I hated this. A lot. I was pretty specific about what I like and didn't like (because of reading this post about how best to use Stitch Fix), and even mentioned what shades of yellow I liked, but I didn't say that I despise mustard yellow, which I evidently should have. And this is not just mustard on the sleeves, it is all across the back, too. It looks like baby poop to me, and even my kids' suggestion that I could wear it while holding a newborn wouldn't work, because the front is white, and that is where the baby would poop on you. Also, it is baggy and sloppy, and I like my sweaters and tops to be more fitted. And the seams are visible. Because of fashion or something, but I don't like that at all.

They have a place where you can tell them which items you don't want them to send, and I said I didn't want outerwear, because even though there are lots of coats and such that are great, I have several that I like already and do their job. I think I'm going to exclude sweaters, too, because I am a knitter and I am really picky about them. And I obviously need to knit more sweaters for myself.

Item #3 Yumi Marina Polka Dot Belted Dress - $114

This one is a little more expensive than I would normally spend on an item while also buying other items. If this were the only thing I were considering, it would not be such a stretch, but it really made me think twice. Except that it's polka dotted, which Rich loves on me and I like, too. And it's retro, and 3/4 sleeves, and so, so cute. Rich didn't even wait to see it on before he told me that he didn't think there was anything to decide. It was polka dots. What was there to wonder? When he saw me in it, he told me it was a definite win, and who am I to argue with my husband? I'm just being a good wife here.

I like that the dresses are fitted without being tight. They show my shape without making me look trampy, which is a risk you run when you are busty. This makes me feel pretty and happy and it is something I can wear to church or to dinner out, the fabric is stretchy, but not too thin, and I just like it.

Item #4 Gilli Genna 3/4 Sleeve Faux Wrap Dress - $64

This is a perfect color for me. I love this plummy purple. I love the sleeves, the wrap front, the clingy fabric that isn't too clingy, that it is low cut, but not so much that my bra shows (because busty women also have to wear steel-belted, industrial bras, and it's hard to find them in "pretty," let alone "not above your neck"). This is a popular dress with the stylists, as I've seen it in this and other colors in other people's fixes. I think it is really flattering. But I read skinny women talking about how it made them look too fat. I'm not sure how that makes me feel, but I like myself in this dress, and so does Rich, and even our boys commented on what a great dress it was. It can be worn with flats, or heels, or short boots, or high boots. This seems pretty versatile, and good for different weather, can be dressed up or down, which makes it a good piece for me. It's right in a normal price range for a dress for me, too.

For winters here, I will need to wear tights with it, but I have some that I like and would go well. Also, I accidentally saw some turquoise/teal on this purple from the ribbon from the tag on the polka dot dress and that made me think that I'd like a thin, laceweight to fingering, buttonless cardigan (or a cropped cardigan in a sport/DK) to go over it in that color. So, again, I should get knitting.

Item #5 Octavia Harlow Heart Print Infinity Scarf - $28

This is the item that surprised me the most, actually. When I saw it, I really didn't think I would like it enough to keep. It was cute, but I have scarves, and I had almost excluded them as items for my boxes, and I have this thing about hearts. I like hearts, but not all the time, cutesy, everywhere. Rich found that out when we were dating on our first Valentine's Day together. He brought me a HUGE heart balloon with hearts on that and hearts on my card and hearts on something else and hearts in the candy and heart shaped boxes and maybe a human heart and I had to tell him to back off on the hearts. He backed off so much I never saw them again. Until one day (nearly ten years after we were married), I was knitting a sweater with heart cables and he said "I thought you hated hearts?!" and I said I didn't hate them, I just don't like them over done, so now I sometimes get hearts, but not everywhere, all the time.

Back to this scarf. I tried it on (the box said to try everything on, even if you're not sure about it, and I can follow instructions) and I liked how it looked and how it felt. I tried it with the purple dress, and I liked it with that, too. So, I decided I would keep it. Although Rich says I should probably tell them no more scarves from here on out, since I make them and have several others. A funny thing that lets you know that our children are used to a different culture than most Americans. They saw the scarf, how it was put on, and Dominic, Amira, Jerome, and Yasmina all commented that I could use it as a head covering for church or at monasteries. Which I could.

I did kind of wish there had been a little more color in this, beyond the navy. The plum was beautiful, and there was nary a black or charcoal item, as I asked, but except for that horrid mustard, it stayed more conservative than I thought it would. On the other hand, there wasn't anything wildly out there, either. My stylist did well and respected my choices and requests, while still picking things I might not get myself. Rich thinks that they should ask for a picture of you, too, which is not a bad idea, if anyone from Stitch Fix or the other stylist services is out there reading.

It's interesting, as I know it makes Rich happy to provide these things for me, too. When we were first married, and oh, so poor, I didn't have children and was thin and still enjoyed shopping. So, I took Rich with me, because we had moved to a city where I knew nobody but him, and I didn't drive. He was miserable. Not because he hated shopping, but because it made him feel bad that he couldn't afford to get the things I liked for me. We were just starting out and had a net value that was negative. I was just having a good time looking at things I liked, but he wanted to be able to bring them home. Now, when we do shop together, I notice that he finds things that he thinks I would like, or that he would like on me, and is always encouraging me to get them. We can't always get everything we like, but it pleases him to know that when we do decide to go for it, we can. When we travel back "home," he has me scan the boutique shops there to pick something up for myself, as a souvenir, and because he thinks I don't do/get enough for myself. So, anyway, this is definitely an every now and then and special occasion type thing for me. Normally, I shop clearance and Ross and consignment.

I'm also not really a fashionable person. I like to think I have a good sense of style, but it really is my own style. I no longer resent it when something I like is in fashion (I used to hate it, because I thought people would think I was just following the fads, now I see that it just means that I have more opportunities to find what I like), but I don't follow fashion that much, except for noticing what seems to be a trend in pictures I see and on people I know. This was a fun treat and experience for me. If you use my referral link, though, it could be a more frequent treat. Also, you can sign up and fill out your profile without scheduling a shipment, just to get a feel for the service. I did that well over a year ago. I modified my profile after reading how others had used it to its best, and I left a note to my stylist asking for some particular things in this box.

One thing I did, too, was to purge my closet of some dresses, skirts, and tops, and my dresser of some sweaters that I just don't fit in anymore. Unless it has sentimental value, or is something that I might fit in again relatively soon, I just want them gone. It was hard to do that, because I like these clothes, but my body isn't that size anymore, and I am tired of having a closet full of things that are nice looking, but that can't fit me. I was tired of trying to find out what I could wear, instead of what I wanted to wear. Now, I may very well fit in them again in the future, but I didn't want to hold on to them for years, just in case. So, I'm going to give them to my thinner friends. Why do I always have thinner friends? When I was in high school my friends were rail thin, and wore size 0 - 2, while I felt fat in my size 6 and curves. I wish I realized how good I looked then. So, I've decided that I will have a closet full of clothes that I like and that fit, or might in a reasonable time, or that remind me of a place or time that brings me joy.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Yarn Along: Finished Items!

Equinox is finished! Neither of these is a good picture of me, but they show the sweater and the color. The first one shows the color better than the second. I'll have Rich take a better picture in daylight this weekend, I was just so excited to have the sweater blocked and dry and ready to wear. Nejat grabbed the matching swatch hat and put it on and has been running around the house with it all day. Maybe Rich can take a picture of the two of us together, too.

My other two projects I was waiting on before really starting anything else are also completely complete, sewing, blocking, ends woven in, all of it. You can take a peek at the Pear Scented Candle Shawl all blocked and lovely. I didn't get any posed pictures, so maybe someone will share a photo of my MIL in it. Bob's bed in a bag is finally complete! If you want to make this, I'd advise you to read my project notes, because I think the construction in the pattern is inefficient and tedious. Jerome and Bob were delighted. Jerome has been carrying Bob around in his cradle bag since Saturday.

So, what have I done? I've cast on for two other projects and another design for publication, of course! I may even start another project for a friend of mine - one of the projects I cast on is a real quickie item and is almost finished.

Also, my swap from the December Magnolia Society arrived! The lady sent it priority mail on December 31 from MN. It was supposed to arrive on January 3, maybe the 5th, given the holiday and Sunday in there. No. It was sent to PA first. Then, slowly, made its way to me. It arrived on the 8th. I thought maybe it was handwritten and hard to read the address. Nope. It was typed and perfectly clear. They just messed up. She should get her money back.

In any case, I love this colorway! It's a creamy beige that leans toward the periwinkle and grey. I'm thinking up plans of what to make with it, which is better than what I was doing with the other, trying to settle on something that might work. It's 693 yds of DK yarn that is superwash. What would you make?

I agree with another yarn along-er that plodding sounds bad, but it's not in the case of Christ in His Saints. It's just so hard to rush through it. The text really requires me to engage and think on it, which is not a bad thing. However, it means that I can't get through it really quickly while running the house, teaching the kids, taking people to lessons and practices, making meals, and so on. As always, I have something mindless and fun, to read as well, brain candy: The second book in the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series, The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2: The Terror of the Southlands. I found the first book delightful and clever, so I am hoping this will be also. They are good books for 9 - 13 year olds, but like any good children's books, are also good reading for adults.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Menu Plan: January 11 - 17

We are completely back to normal meal planning and normal schedules and busy-ness this week. A few things were moved last week, but for the most part we kept on track for meals. We're eating meat from the freezer and trying to figure out where we'll get beef and pork from and how soon we can do it, since most folks butcher in the fall and winter. We are probably okay for lamb for a while, so we can wait until the fall for 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 on Saturday.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Recipe Round Up: Christmas Pineapple and Garden Vegetable Soup

Christmas Pineapple

I read about this recipe on a link from a cooking group. It was a pretty loose recipe anyway, so I changed it up a bit and made it for our family. It smells just like Christmas scent. It is delicious, and the remaining syrup is wonderful over ice cream. If you rinse and dry your vanilla pods, you can save them to flavor and scent sugar, as well. It's really a rather frugal recipe, except for the vanilla pods, and I think would be a great recipe for anytime during winter.

2 ripe pineapples, peeled, cored, with eyes removed, and cut into large chunks
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup bourbon (I used a honey bourbon) or cognac
24 ounces crabapple jelly or orange marmalade (I think the crabapple jelly is better)
2 vanilla beans, slit lengthwise, with the seeds scraped and reserved
4 cardamom pods
6 pink peppercorns
3 allspice berries
3 whole cloves
4 slices of peeled ginger
1 cinnamon stick, broken

Preheat oven to 325 F. Place pineapple in a deep baking pan that will fit it all and allow room to stir occasionally.

Whisk together the orange juice, bourbon, jelly or marmalade, vanilla pods and seeds, cardamom pods, peppercorns, allspice berries, cloves, ginger and cinnamon sticks. Pour over the pineapple in the pan. Bake the pineapple for about one and a half hours, basting the pineapple and turning it in the syrup about every 15 minutes, until it is tender and appears almost candied.

Allow to cool to a comfortably warm temperature. Strain the syrup and reserve. Serve the pineapple (cut into bite sized pieces if you wish) in pretty dishes with some of the syrup. You can remove the whole spices or keep them in as a garnish, as you choose. Keep the remaining syrup to serve on pancakes or over ice cream, or to eat out of the container with a spoon.

Garden Vegetable Soup

This is a wonderful soup for Lent or Advent or other abstinent meals. It is vegan, so can be eaten with any rule.

2 tablespoons safflower oil
2 onions, peeled and diced
5 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks of celery with tops, diced
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 beets, scrubbed and cubed
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh green beans
1 bunch of kale, finely chopped (center rib removed and discarded), or 1 bunch chard, finely chopped (if you sub the chard, use the stems and add with the celery)
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon garlic granules
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 cups vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
3 cups fresh or frozen peas
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add onions, and remaining vegetables through the kale. Sauté until the onions are tender. Add the seasonings, tamari sauce, and stock or water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the peas and cook for about 10 minutes more. Do not overcook. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Garnish each bowl with parsley.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Yarn Along: Almost FOs

As determined as I am to make some things for myself, I am also hurrying to finish projects from last year. There are about three that I just need complete before I feel like I can move on to other things. I have a lot more UFOs than that, but these need to be done, so I'm hustling. After that, I won't have any trouble casting on for anything else, and I will try to make it something for myself. I'm finally getting to blocking the Pear Scented Candle Shawl and I finished the last sleeve, undid the hem and am lengthening my Equinox. I expect to be finished with the knitting by this weekend. This sweater is a good example of why I don't knit for sale. While it's possible to find the right market for handknits which will pay for my skill and time, I don't have the desire or time to do so. On this sweater alone, I am already over 225 hours in on my work, and even only paying myself minimum wage, that is nearly $2200 for just my time, not even counting the materials.

I asked my friend Rose to wear her cowl I made her to church on Sunday, so I could get a picture of her in it. And here she is!

Christ in His Saints did not get finished in time, but I'm getting ever closer.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On

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Monday, January 05, 2015

December Yarn Club Packages

This is the first month since I started getting these yarn club shipments that I was not that thrilled with either selection. I'm keeping the Great Blue Heron Ancient Arts yarn, but I traded my Minnow Tosh yarn (which was the naturals selection) for Dustweaver (which was the neutrals selection), as I really liked it better. I'll post photos of that when it arrives. The postal service sent it to PA first, and still somehow thought that leaving PA on Saturday it would still arrive here the same day. Surprise, surprise, it didn't come today, either!

Much as I hate the declarations of not buying new stash, I think except for my yarn clubs (one of which will end this month) and souvenir purchases, I'm going to try to shop my own stash more this year. We're saving for a sock knitting machine, and we have appliances that keep trying to die. God willing, we'll have Nejat paid off by March, and our washer and dryer as well, and then we can put more money aside to repair Rich's truck and do some more work on our house, and repair/replace some more appliances.

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Menu Plan: Days 11 and 12 of Christmas, Epiphany and Beyond

We are almost out of the Christmas holiday, and just about at Epiphany. This means that we will have regular days of abstinence here again. We're also preparing for our back to school time and getting back in gear for ballet and sports and co-op and other activities, and I won't have the luxury of making such complicated meals as often.

I was able to find some organic, sprouted grain cereals at the Grocery Outlet, so I bought them for us to try. Rich and the kids liked them, but I wasn't so keen on them. However, they were a great price, so I may pick up more this week if they still have them. It made for a quick and easy breakfast before church, that is for sure. I also found some Chobani, blood orange yogurt cups for $0.25 each. Again, everyone else seemed to like them more than I did, but they are good protein and pro-biotics, so after the test run of only 10 of them, Rich asked if I could get more and I bought 35 more cups. There will be significant yogurt cup consumption this week. We also picked up some organic boxes and juice packs from the produce co-op, which included some out of season strawberries that we're turning into shortcake this week. I forgot to get the beans made in time on Saturday, so we had a hash with Italian sausage, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, onions and garlic instead, and made the chili and cornbread for dinner Sunday.

We finally got some significant snow, without it being too much, and it's melting nicely today, so that makes me happy. I am also happy because my coffee order from Fr. Michael's Roastery came today. (They re-did their website, and I liked the older one better. Rich said I should tell them that the old ways were superior and I didn't appreciate their heterodox innovations. I didn't know if they'd get our joke, and I want them to keep sending me coffee.)
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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Sunday, January 04, 2015

Recipe Round Up: Fromage Fort

I picked up this recipe from Rebecca. I've played with it over the years and we make it a tiny bit differently, but really, it is a frugal way to use up bits and bobs of cheese and make some humble ingredients into something greater. The combination of cheeses and herbs are infinite, with the caveat that especially pungent cheeses like feta, brie, or bleus should not be in the majority of your mix, more in the background.

2 - 3 cloves of garlic, peeled (depending on how garlicky you like it)
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon, for garnish, fresh herb leaves (I often use thyme - and I've even used a tablespoon of dried when I didn't have fresh)
various cheeses that add up to around 1 pound
1/4 - 1/2 cup white wine

Bang up the garlic in your food processor, then add the cheeses and herbs and whir it around until they are finely chopped. Pour in the wine and whir it until it is a texture you like. If you want it a bit thinner add more, thicker, add less. It will firm up in the fridge, though, so keep that in mind. Scrape into a nice bowl, sprinkle with chopped herbs for a garnish and refrigerate a few hours or overnight to mellow and blend the flavors.

Serve with bread, crackers, vegetables, or on a spoon.

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