Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Snow Today....Tomorrow May

That big pot of soup yesterday sure was good timing. Wow.....we woke up to yet another snowfall. Unbelievable.....well we'd better be in for a very nice summer since we've got the short end on this never ending winter. At least it was a very pretty morning here. This is what I saw out my kitchen window. Those poor trees are freezing their buds off I bet!
Usually the weather dictates what I make for supper. I sure hope in this case it wasn't the other way around! Well what's cooking tonight is a few roast chickens with enough left over to make chicken pot pie tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Soup..Soup..Soup is good Food!

Where I grew up, it can be very cold at times, and the same can be said of where I live now. We are coming off of a very long, seemingly un-ending winter. Finally, the snow is leaving and spring it trying to take hold. A very chilly time of year.................. just right for making a big pot of soup to warm up from the inside-out. This recipe was given to me quite a few years ago by a friend, and is quick and easy to prepare. Try it sometime when soup season is in full swing in your part of the world.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Another Busy Weekend and NO SNOW:)

After mopping some floors and cleaning some bathrooms and bedrooms, my son requested we spend some "quality time together". I had in fact promised that we would do something fun today. So all cleaning was put on hold for an "Ike" moment and we made some of his prize winning chocolate chip peanut butter cookies. The last time Ike made these was for the fall fair, for which, he won an awesome set of ribbons worthy of the Kentucky derby, and I scored two 10kg bags of Robin Hood flour because he also won the best baked item category. (I should preface this 'boasting' with the information that this is a VERY small country fair.) I'm actually using up the last 1/4 of the second bag now. Hmm, the crooked pictures are bothering me but I will let it go and try to figure it out later.....

I never thought too much about it before, but I did note that it was difficult for me to allow Ike to do his own thing with the cookie dough. I had to give him his own cookie sheet, as the non-uniform and oddly shaped cookies he was producing was making me feel as if I should correct their shapes as soon as he was not looking. However, I fought off these feelings and allowed him to express his "art" in his cookies. I now have in my dishwasher about a dozen tools he required to shape his "art cookies". To my relief and his mild disappointment, most of the cookies conformed to their expected round cookie shapes and all was right with the world. At least in mine.......

Whenever I make cookies, I use an scoop and release ice cream scoop. I've got 3 sizes now, and I love them all. Hmmm.......I am a little OCD I think...... Anyways.....Got to love the ice cream scoop especially when making cookies for school bake sales or to bring in for the class. Guaranteed to be all the same size!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tea & Sweets

I'm just settling down for my evening cup of tea. My little monkey is in bed after a busy weekend day with the first glimpse of spring weather we've had so far. I am accumulating quite a collection of tea both self purchased and some from swap-bot. ( the Nordqvist and Yogi Sweet Chili Tea were from swaps) I'm trying to organize my cupboards since their current state is somewhat cluttered to the point of open at your own risk. But it's to be expected, I suppose, to anyone who knows me and my difficulties with throwing things out. I wonder if I get it from my maternal grama?? Grama K never threw ANYTHING out. Waste not want not, I guess. I remember finding a jar of Kraft Koogle in her fridge almost a decade beyond it's expiration date. When I brought it to her attention, she said it still looked OK and she put it back.............If it wasn't 'broken', she never threw it out! Koogle flavoured peanut that's a blast from the past isn't it. Or maybe it's not because to this day I don't believe I've run into a single soul who admits knowing what it is. Click on the words 'Kraft Koogle' above to see what it was.......It was goooood!........... To this day I think of grama every time I change a needle on my sewing machine. For years I thought my sewing machine was junk because I'd get this tangled mess of thread on the underside of my sewing. Then one day I read somewhere that it could be due to a dull needle, and that you should put in a new needle with each sewing project. Well, at that point I don't think I'd ever changed the needle in my machine, but when I did it sure made a huge difference. All at once my machine wasn't really that bad. I remember mentioning to my mom that I was changing a machine needle one day and her comment was "grama would think you were crazy. She would only have changed one if it broke!" She was right on the money and I smile when I think of it. Honestly, I don't know if grama actually liked to sew.......She never really made any sewing projects that I can think of.....But she would do practical sewing and if she saw pants that needed a patch or hemming, she would make you take them right off so she could fix 'em. In that respect I think she liked sewing in that she could be helpful to family. Her real 'craft' love I'd have to say was crochet. It's the one thing she did the very most. Mind you, I only knew grama for 30 years. Who know what other craftiness she may have created before I came along.

Anyone who knew my grama, knew that she loved tea. She loved a good 8 cups a day, to my recollection. I used to visit grama and have a cup with her as did most of the family. Grama always drank orange pekoe. It would have been Red Rose too. Only in Canada...What a pity. She would never have tried all the kinds that I have in my cupboard, and quite frankly, I don't think she'd have been interested. Well I'm having a Nordqvist tea tonight grama, and I'm sorry but I'm only using the bag once. Another thing grama liked, as many of us do, with her tea was some sweets. I'm sharing a recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine that I've made many times that I think grama would have really liked. They are donut muffins that taste similar to the little mini donuts you can get at the fair. (Cinnamon & Sugar Cake donuts) When I make them, I use the mini muffin pans so they turn out the size of donut holes. (Tim Bits or Robin's Eggs for those who know what I mean) My mom has made this recipe also, using the donut pans so they actually look like donuts too! Click on the recipe card below to enlarge. Enjoy:)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Super Quick Bento

Certainly it was the Kawaii or Cuteness of the Bento which attracted me in the first place, but now I appreciate the functionality of it all. My six year old son is certainly happy for extra lunch option too. I broke down and opened a second Bento set for him to use. It is the same pattern as his first set only smaller, with no chopstick compartment. This suits me just fine for him because he's not quite ready for using them just least not with any speed or efficiency. Today, lunch was a boiled egg with Caesar dressing to dip it in, rolled chicken breast deli meat, strawberries, Gouda cheese, and some cookie type snacks. He finds these "little picnic" lunches fun and fairly quick to eat which is good because he's a pokey slow eater with only 15 minutes to do it in. The small blue strawberry shaped container holds the salad dressing and is just the right amount. It was also in it's first use today. My nice friend Christine brought a set of four of these containers back for me along with some other Bento supplies from Daiso in Vancouver. (Thanks very much!) I'm really love'n the Bento:)
To separate the different food groups in the layer, I have been using cupcake liners with fun kid prints on them. I also have a set of blue silicone liners but have not yet got in the habit of using them. Typical food choices for Ike's Bento style lunch so far have been: 1)sandwich cut into 1 inch squares something sticky like PBJ or devilled ham is best 2)rolled deli meats 3) pickle chunks 4) olives..go figure 5) grapes, cherries, fruit chunks 6) boiled eggs with dip 7) cherry tomatos or veggie chunks with dip 8) goldfish crackers or pretzels 9)cheese chunks 10) pepperoni stick chunks.
I have always tried to separate the moist layer from the things like crackers just in case the crackers would absorb moisture and flavours. I have not received any complaints from Ike so far, and judging by the contents of his Bento on his return.....I'd have to say it has the Ike-a-roo seal of approval. One of these days I'll get a mold for shaping the boiled eggs, and I'd also like to get one of the Bento weiner cutters....but for now we'll stick with the quick and easy!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Sock Monkey has Landed

This sock monkey has arrived safely to it's new home in England, so it's now safe to post this. I am hoping she weathered the unglamourous journey to exotic England in her cardboard box all right. My swap partner stated a preference for pink striped socks, and one would imagine it would not be difficult to find pink stripey socks. Were it not for a brand new dollar store in town, this little monkey would be lime green. A perfectly lovely colour for a sock monkey, I think, but I'm equally sure others would disagree. Oh well, crisis averted....and now I have the makings of a lime green stripey monkey should it ever be requested. There was a great little tutorial for sock monkey making right here, should you feel so inclined. It was a reasonably quick little craft fix if you're up for it.

Three Down and Three to GO

That's three knit felted purses completed! I think I've liked this one the best so far. This one is black and is lined with a purple oriental design satin. I pondered this one a lot before I actually sat down to finish this one off. For me, the finishing, particularly the decoration of the front of the bag, is always a challenge. Maybe more so in this case as I wanted to keep to just black and not introduce any other colour. Also it seemed to the perfect fit for this Vintage coat button that's been wasting away in my button jar. I'm happy to have found a project to use it on.....Really like that button. Boy, I should really get out more...... I ended up trying to mirror the theme of the inside fabric....branches with blossoms, on the outside of the bag. My initial plan was to do the embroidery work in black floss but that did not work out for me as the black bins were picked clean at the opening of the new Michael's store here. It turned out to be a happy misfortune as the closest colour I could find was a dark charcoal, and...I turned out better than black. Had I more creative embroidery abilities, I would have tried for more of a cherry blossom, but lazy daisies will have to do for now. All in all, a very satisfying knit and felt project. Today it is in the mail on it's way to Paris to a new home. Now, only three more bags sit waiting for dark brown, one ecru, and one??? If you'd like to make one of these bags see previous post for the link to MagKnits.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thinking of Others Swap

There was a very nice swap option posted on swap-bot a month ago called "Thinking of Others". The idea here was to prepare a swap to send to a person who would be the choice of your partner. I thought it was a nice idea so I signed up. My partner chose for me to send my package to a friend that she had lost touch with, and wanted to reconnect with. So it was sort of a "thinking of you" package. She requested that I send some things that were Catholic, or some things that were Canadian if had trouble finding something. I did manage to find some items that I hope her friend will like, and I hope that they reconnect with their letter writing. My mother-in-law was the person I chose to have my package sent to. Any day now she should be getting a nice surprise in the mail!
Update...Mother-in-law recieved package! I think she liked it:) I got partnered with a really awesome swapper so I was not too concerned. My MIL seemed pretty happy with what she had been sent and even more so by the little letter that had been included. Will definitely do this type of swap again....'cause you know I don't need a darned thing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Beginners Embroidery Swap

I signed up for a beginners embroidery swap to warm up to the idea of embroidering again. I have not done embroidery since I was a kid and this was a nice low pressure swap to get into it again. I remember there being preprinted items all ready to embroider, but now I see the things I've really liked have been made from vintage transfers. I have since found a few here and there in thrift shops just waiting for the right occasion to try them out. For this swap I went to a site called sublime stitching. I liked the look of some of their transfers. Go here to check them out. They have published a book with tons of transfers in it called Sublime Stitching: Hundreds of Hip Embroidery Patterns. I chose the one pictured above for my swap partner and hopefully she liked it. Also, I covered a little pocket calendar in a Paris scene and threw in a Kermit since she had a thing for him. It turned out OK. Another site worthy of a look is right here if you're looking for vintage transfers.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Easy Pinata

I found this photo while poking around through some picture files. For my sons 4th birthday, we had a bug theme birthday party. Well, what childhood birthday party would be complete without a Pinata??? Honestly, what could be more entertaining than a group of sugar zombied preschoolers waving a stick around. It has to rate pretty high on the potential for danger list....but it's kind of a birthday ritual. In keeping with the bug theme, I fashioned a paper mache bee hive. This worked out well for me, as I had a papermached 9" balloon sitting in my garage from some unfinished and abandoned craft project. Once I cut a little flap in the bottom to fill it with candy and toys, it was a small task to cover it with grey paper streamer to finish it's disguise as a hive. Online, I found instructions to make these little bees using pipe cleaner, complete with glued on paper wings, and googly eyes. I glued a few on to the hive and suspended some just below the bottom with some fishing line. We hung the hive in the back yard under a tree, and let the little hooligans have at it. I found a suggestion (also online) that small kids could use water guns to soak and otherwise make a gooey mess out of a pinata. This may be true of less substantial store purchased models, but this idea did not work well on my home constructed earthquake proof model. In the end we let them at it with a baseball bat. No lost time injuries were reported, but a lot of supervision was required.

Also at the bug party was a bug treasure hunt, of sorts. I found packages of 10 assorted plastic bugs at the dollar store and purchased one package for each guest. That meant 10 different kinds of bug. I sorted the bugs into like piles and took a photo of each kind of bug. I made up silly names for them and wrote a little description up for each one, including where they like to hide. We had garden bugs, BBQ bugs, sprinkler bugs etc. I made up little cards up for each one with its picture on the front, and facts on the back that I would read to the kids. Once I read them the facts, which told them where to look for them, the group would run off to catch the bugs. I had hidden the group of bugs together. For example, "the Yellow Bellied BBQ bugs which like to gather near BBQ's" could be found near the BBQ....and off they'd run to collect their bugs. When they got there, they would find a bug was there for each of them....all the fighting, no arguing....everyone got the same bug. I should mention that as the party was starting, I had the kids decorate their own bug collecting bag with stickers, glitter glue and markers so they would have somewhere to keep their bugs during the bug hunt. I used brown paper lunch bags which I cut down to half height, and used the removed top to cut a double thickness carrying handle which I attached at either side with scrapbooking brads. So it was like pail with a handle.

We had other bug related games, like modified spoon race. We got dollar store fly swatters and got giant plastic bugs for the kids to race with on the ends of the fly swatters. I had the pinata loaded up with gummy candies that looked like bugs, bug tattoos, more plastic bugs etc. And I read a book to the kids about a bug safari which started of our bug hunt. The book reading worked well to calm the kids down a bit before the bug hunt. I also tried a game of make the caterpillar in a toilet paper cocoon. I had them in two groups trying to wrap their sacrificial caterpillar in toilet paper faster than the other group. I had never myself tried to wrap someone in toilet paper, and it is more difficult than I had imagined. You have to be very careful not to pull too hard and break the toilet paper. But they did have a hoot at it anyway. For our finale, we had a carebear cake (my sons choice) sprinkled with plastic ants and we sent home each guest with a butterfly net also from the dollar store. This party was, I think, my favourite so far.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Red Felt Project

Another red felt project to use up some of the red wool felt I picked up from the thrift store. Further evidence of my swap-bot addiction, but none the less a very cute little project. It is a small felt pincushion, which was just the right size to complete in an evening. It was my first try at this project, and in the future I would do things a bit differently. If I make another one, I will put a circle of cardboard inside the bottom to help make it sit flat, and also insert a small bag of pellets for some weight as well. All in all, a very satisfying project which could be improved with some modifications. I have seen this style of pincushion on a blog some time ago, and if I find the link I will post it here. I've been looking in vain for a blog which mentioned using punchies of some description to cut out little flower shapes from felt. I think it was the same blog. One of these days I'll track it down, I really should organize my bookmarks.