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Monday, January 30, 2017

Menu Plan: January 29 - February 4

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

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

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Yarn Along: Designing Away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My stack of books for this month.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Menu Plan: January 22 - 28

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

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

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Recipe Round Up: Balela with a Bonus



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

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

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Allow to rest for at least an hour to blend flavors. Serve with Khoubz Araby (Pita Bread), and yogurt or tahina sauce, if you wish.

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

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Menu Plan: January 15 - 21

There is a fellow bringing citrus up from California to our area each week, which is wonderful. We've been buying quite a lot and eating quite a lot. 40 pounds are entirely gone, and it took less than a week. We're getting 80 pounds this week.

Aside from our normal busy-ness, this week is another below freezing week of misery. I'm making meals that are about warmth and and comfort.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Yarn Along: Baby Steps

This week most of my knitting, what little there has been, has been making progress on Eve's Leaves. I even worked on it at the parent meeting for driver's ed. It needs blocking, and I'm starting on the leaf border. Starry, Starry Night just needs the cloud borders sewn down, I've gotten all the ends woven. That's all I've touched all week, though.

There are five days left on the designer challenge for the end of 2016. Please take a look at the great examples and vote for your favorite. Of course, I would appreciate the vote, but see which one you like best.

In other design news, Amira is at the tech editor's, and I may actually be able to get it released this spring! Ziyad (the design challenge entry) should be with the TE next week, and I'm hoping it will be ready to publish either right before or right after Amira. There are two other designs I have in process, too. One of them probably won't be released until next winter, but the other one is going out as soon as I have it ready.

The weather has been miserably cold and windy and icy and snowy (mostly blowing what was already here into impassable drifts), but that means I've been doing more reading and I'm almost finished with Birds of a Feather. I like these mysteries. They are more thoughtful than the average happy, little murder. Also, though the sleuth has supernatural senses, it is framed more as truly more than natural powers of observation.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Sunday, January 08, 2017

Menu Plan: January 8 - 14

Christ is illumined!

This week we get back to school and real life. This is the third day of the Octave of Epiphany and soon we will be living our ordinary lives. If you come here looking for some meatless options, there will be some from this week on again. There are several repeats this week, just because we ended up shifting menus and meals around considerably last week. We had miserable snow from Saturday afternoon on, so we decided to miss our evening church, which meant I had to think of a dinner for the family. This may also shift this week's schedule as well. Which is unfortunate, since we have school for Alexander, and ballet, and driver's ed, and I don't want to go out of our house.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Saturday, January 07, 2017

Christmas Cake

Christmas Cherry Nut Cake

I will always think of this as Mormon fruitcake. One of my mother's friends when I was in high school kind of adopted and looked out for us. I remember her bringing us food for Thanksgiving and Christmas, taking us on trips to the coast, bringing me a thoughtful graduation gift, welcoming us into her life, and in all ways truly loving us as a friend. She married again and moved away, and over the years I have lost contact with her. Carmen Nyberg, if you are out there, please get in touch with me! If you know a woman whose name was Carmen Nyberg (it's probably different now) who went to the LDS church in the River Road or Santa Clara area of Eugene, OR in the early to mid 90s, please see if you can bring us together again. I was always grateful for her friendship and kindness to us at a time when we had little and she brought us a bit of sunshine.

One Christmas, she brought us this version of fruitcake as a gift. It wasn't a proper, soaked in liquor, fruitcake, as she was a Mormon and didn't imbibe, and so it wouldn't store well, but it, too was sweet and rich and delicious. I know it's fashionable to hate fruitcake, but I really enjoy it. Carmen generously shared the recipe with me, and I have played with it over the years, so I thought I'd finally share the recipe here. Like all worthwhile fruitcakes, it must be thinly sliced to be properly enjoyed. Otherwise it will be cloyingly sweet and too rich to eat.

Carmen's recipe used candied fruits, and I have switched them to dried fruits. This means that they do need a little soaking, but in the spirit of her original, I have not used alcohol for that. Since I don't like us to consume the corn syrup, dyes and bleaches in most commercial maraschino cherries, I do specifically seek out the organic, all natural, not dyed version when I make this. This is a fruit cake, not a cake with fruit. There is just enough batter to bind the fruit and nuts together and not a bit more. You will want to bake this slowly and cool it completely before even attempting to slice it. I wouldn't even recommend cutting into it until at least the next day, actually, when the flavors have a chance to mingle well.

This recipe isn't written in a standard format. I instruct you to use three bowls, with the largest being added to from the other other two, so I will group the ingredients here to reflect that.

In a large bowl, mix together:

3 cups chopped walnuts
1/2 pound chopped, pitted dates (if you can't find them already chopped, you can whir pitted dates in your food processor or chop by hand)
2 cups marachino cherries, juice reserved
1 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Mix all fruit thoroughly with the nuts and stir in about 1/2 cup of the reserved maraschino cherry juice. Cover and let soak several hours, or overnight.

When you are ready to make the cake, preheat oven to 300 F and generously butter six jumbo muffin tin cups. You can use mini loaf pans, as well.

In a small bowl, mix together:

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Set aside.

In another small bowl, whisk together:

3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Set aside.

Give the fruit and nuts a stir and stir in the flour mixture. Add the egg mixture and combine completely. Portion into each of the cups equally and press down a little. This will not rise much at all, so fill the cups to overflowing just a little.

Bake between 50 and 60 minutes until completely cooked through the center. Allow to cool in pan on a rack for about 10 - 15 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool on the rack completely. If you wish to make two normal sized loaves, increase the baking time to about 1 1/2 hours.

Store in an airtight container up to a week.

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Thursday, January 05, 2017

Year End Tally and New Goals for the New Year

Each year I take stock of my accomplishments and come up with goals for the New Year. They are often fairly similar, but I try to make incremental changes, rather than a big shift that might not happen. So, this year, my goals are as follows:

2016 Finished Objects
2016 Books

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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Yarn Along: New Year

I worked on Eve's Leaves while we were out on our anniversary dinner. I kept waiting for someone to ask me about it. Nobody did!

The 2016 Indie Designer Gift-a-Long has come to a close. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work, and I'm already looking forward to participating in it again at the end of this year. I still have lots of WIPs (shouldn't it be WsIP?) from my run in it, and I am planning on getting them completed over the following few months. I hope to show you more from my Interwoven Mitts, Carlota Cabled Boot Cuffs (once I restart them with enough yarn), these beautiful Pride and Prejudice Mittens that I also have to restart because I was unhappy with the fabric I was getting with my needle size, and an old pattern of mine, Shower's This Weekend Baby Sweater. I'll be reknitting it to get better photography for my pattern, and I'm working on grading it to include more than one size.

I do have an entry in a designer challenge for the end of 2016. There are many great designs there. Please take a look and vote for your favorite. Of course, I would appreciate the vote, but peek and see which one you like.

I did get to pick up Birds of a Feather again, and I'm enjoying it. My goal is to put aside homeschool work and design work, and even fun stuff on the interwebs at night so I can read more and make real breaks in my daily schedule. I'm trying to approach my work, both with the kids and house and with design as a work day with structured hours, rather than being on all the time and burning out so quickly. This week, I'll post my year end review along with my crafting goals for the year. It will also include the list of books I've completed this year. It blows my mind that I only finished a single book in December.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On.

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Monday, January 02, 2017

Menu Plan: Eighth Day of Christmas through the Second Day of the Octave of Epiphany

Our week is almost bookended with two major feasts of the Nativity: The Feast of the Circumcision of Christ and the Feast of the Theophany, known as the Epiphany in the West. One, in which Jesus receives His name and is submitted by His Blessed mother and Saint Joseph to be under the Law. One, in which He is revealed to the world as God. I love how the readings for the Octave of Epiphany brings out all the ways His light is revealed, to His disciples in the Transfiguration, to the Magi who are shown signs to come seek and worship Him, to both Jews and Gentiles in His baptism, which also showed His deity and manifested the presence of all three Persons of the Trinity, to the steward at the wedding at Cana, when His mother's petition altered the timeline of His revelation to the world, and His first miracle was performed. Even though Christmas isn't the most significant feast of the Church year (it isn't even the second), I love how there are so many important feasts within it. And that is only considering the 12 days of the feast, and not the entirety of the season, which closes on the Feast of the Purification on February 2. I love how these feasts and practices teach the most important things to everyone, regardless of their intellectual capacity or age.

We ended last week with our anniversary, and though we had cancelled our more elaborate plans for our 20th wedding anniversary, I don't feel like we missed out on anything. Our favorite local restaurant, that specializes in mostly local and regional foods, seasonal menus, where every single item we have eaten, even things we don't normally like, has been exquisite, was having a fixed menu with wine pairings. I forgot to take pictures of everything until we were already on the fourth course, and I had eaten part of it. Rich had to keep me from going around to everyone else's table and photographing their food.

The menu for our evening. There was also a glass of champagne to begin the meal. Since they brought two, I drank Rich's.

I had a little bit of the grilled octopus and shrimp ceviche left (with even a tiny bit of the crab) and let the kids each have a taste of it the next day. They immediately wanted to go there to eat. Rich suggested that maybe we do a Mother's Day brunch there.

My grocery shopping this past week garnered some excellent deals. I was able to get French Compte cheese for less than $3.00 a pound, and some of the roasted onion and red pepper sausage we like for $0.99 a pound, as well as an excellent deal on Mandarin oranges. So, we are enjoying those quite a bit this week.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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