Currently Reading:

Currently Reading:

Station Eleven

by: Emily St. John Mandel

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WIP Wednesday - Too many projects, not enough time.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

I have way to many hobbies and with each of these hobbies I have projects I have started and/or would like to do.  So I decided to post a list that maybe I can refer back to...if I don't get distracted by new projects on places like pinterest or craftgawker.

      People I know you are going to think me crazy but I'm going to make a quilt like the one under this link: Click here for epic quilt!
I am doing this in 1 1/4 inch squares. Suffice to say I will have lots of cutting and sewing ahead of me. I've done the drawing, math and color selection part already...I just need to actually purchase the fabric and delve in before I figure out I'm insane for wanting to do this.

Where am I in this project:  I have all the patterns gridded out and all the fabric measurements added up. I need to pull the trigger on buying the fabric.

2. Sewing kits from Straight Stitch Society

Are they cute? I have enough fabric and notions for a Red apple, a Green apple, and an Orange. I have the Green apple partly cut out and hope to continue working on it this week.

Where am I in this project: I made the Green apple one, see previous blog post here. I still have two more I want to make.

3. Quiet book for the Little Man. During my many days of browsing Pinterest for felt quiet book pattern Ideas I stumbled upon Stephanie and her amazing blog Imagine Our Life. I am hoping to make several of her pages.

Where am I with this project:
1. solar system - half sewn, all cut out. I could finish this one pretty quick if I sat down to it.
2. sand castle - pieces are cut, just need to sew it
3. monkeys jumping on the bed - pattern printed
4. snowman - pattern printed
others...not printed or cut.

I guess that is the big works in progress for now. I know I have many more I'd like to do...

WIP: too many to count
WIP finished: 1 (green apple sew kit)
Epic Quilt 2013 - BUY FABRIC ALREADY!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Egg Drop Soup & Hoisin Pork over Rice Noodles

So I follow this lady on Facebook who has the website Pinch of Yum.  A day or so ago she posted this recipe for Hoisin Pork of Rice Noodles.

The more I oogled the pictures the more I wanted to make it. I sent the picture to my brother and husband and both thought it looks really good. I thought...why not try to make it this week.

So I also found a recipe for Egg Drop Soup as well while searching on Pinterest (see my previous blog about my problem with Pinterest. Two weeks ago, while I was on mommy vacation, I had lunch at P.F. Chang's and had the egg drop soup and really wanted to try to make it to see if it would be as good as in the restaurant.

Both recipes don't take an incredible amount of time (unless you marinate your pork for more tan 10 minutes like I did).

The egg flower soup turned out like this:

and the Hoisin Pork over rice noodles turned out like this:

(p.s aren't those chopsticks cute?! I got them in my stocking from Santa.)

Timing wise I wasn't as good as serving it all at the same time. I ended up having a first "course" of the soup and a second sit down course of the main dish.  What's nice about the second "course" was that I could get reactions right away.  NO waiting for reviews for these recipes, no siree!

The egg flower soup could have been better if I didn't stir it so fast while adding in the egg, or maybe I over beat my egg (where is the line to cross for lightly beaten eggs). You could certain taste the fresh ginger and the red pepper flakes that I had in the soup.

The Pork and noodles were very good. The sauce that the pork was cooked in was sweet but had quite a few ingredients.  I've never even made rice noodles before and had to look up how to cook them since the package had no directions. It was fairly easy actually and they tasted better than I thought they would.

and now...for the results:

Survey from the Peanut Gallery says: (cue Family Feud sound) DING!

The husband grunted (a very positive sign I have come to realize over the years) and said he could eat both dishes every day. When I asked him what he liked best about them he said "It was delicious."  Sigh...guess I need a bigger taste test audience.

The brother said he liked both dishes as well (less animated as the husband). I don't know if it will be as feeling for him as it might for us but he ate his soup and plate clean. I will say that's a good sign.

So...I'm very pleased with these. I, myself, ate my plate and ran out of room for all my soup. I have made a Bowl for the husbands lunch tomorrow and the last of the soup is going with him as well.

Review of Orzo and Roasted Veggie Salad w/Black Beans

Okay so here I am a day or so later to tell you how my husband liked my

Orzo & Roasted Veggie Salad with Black Beans...

And the verdict is...he didn't. I don't know if I can blame it on his mood that day or his ability to not taste anything, or if this was just not a main course meal for him. He did find it edible, or felt like he had to eat it in front of me, but did so by pouring soy sauce over it.

My brother, however, did take a small sample the morning I made it and took the leftover serving to work with him the next day.

He felt that the pasta salad was good, he could taste the lemon "dressing" that my husband couldn't. He thought it was a nice, light meal that would probably work better as an appetizer or a side.

I think both of these guys are big into having meat in the food so it was a bit of a let down from the first recipe I made from the book.

I wonder if it would be better with fresher grilled or roasted veggies, and with maybe some cut up rotisserie chicken in it?  Ah well, I guess they can't all be winners...back to the kitchen.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Meatless Monday Meal: Orzo & Roasted Veggie Salad w/ Beans

I made a second recipe from this cook book for my husband's work lunch today. 

It was a very easy recipe to make because I had left over roasted vegetables in the fridge that needed eating but nothing to put with them. 

Confession: This meal is husband is pretty carnivorous...I am not sure how it will fair for a meal but I did end up adding some beans to the recipe because I was worried it wouldn't be enough for him. (stay tuned for the review).  Here is a picture of the salad all put together with his snack of an apple. I also included a smoothie (I prepared last week and froze for the lunches) for him to drink to give him a bit more "filling"

So this salad is super easy. Get your water on for the Orzo pasta. While waiting for the water to boil, in a bowl whisk 2 Tbsp Olive Oil with 1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice. I grated the zest from the lemon into the olive oil first. I also sprinkled with salt and a few cranks of my pepper grinder. I also decided to add beans to the recipe for some extra oompf (technical word). So while the pasta cooked I opened, drained, and rinsed a can of beans too.
Once the pasta is cooked, and drained. I tossed it with the olive oil/lemon juice mixture. Then I took a clear container and put a layer (maybe half) of the pasta on the bottom, then a layer of beans, then the left over roasted veggies, then more beans, then the last of the pasta and grated some Parmesan cheese to go on top (the recipe called for Feta or Parmesan). 

I will post again today about the smoothie, they are pretty darn good and I have a nice tip for you on how to make them on the weekend so they are ready for the weekday. Stay tuned for the review and the recipe.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review #4 of 2013

Corbin's Fancy
By: Linda Lael Miller

So yes I was just starting another Jane Austen book and set it aside one night to pick up this book that's been sitting on my nightstand. It was a quick read and quite different from turn of the century England.

So I just have to state that I like to read Romance Novels. I know that at times they are very unrealistic, but it's nice to escape into that world just like many people like to watch Romantic comedies (chick flicks if you will). There...I said it.
Synopsis: (shortened from Goodreads:)
When a traveling carnival left Fancy Jordan stranded in the rugged Washington Territory, she thought her luck had run out. Alone, penniless, she welcomed a most intriguing offer -- to live in the home of Jeff Corbin's brother, and coax the wounded, withdrawn Jeff back to health and happiness.
Readability: It's not hard to read, easy to get sucked in and feel the emotions of the characters
Predictability : Well...there are a couple events that happen in the book that are foreshadowed a few pages before they happen. There is a sense of "uh oh - something bad is going to happen" But it wasn't blatant.
Couldn't Put it Down Factor: I read this in less than 24 hours. I may have stayed up late because I didn't want to put it down!
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5. Ms. Miller's books (I've read quite a few last year) are wonderful stories, often period pieces of times that I like to think about. There are intimate scenes in this book, so if you are someone who doesn't like to read about that kind of thing, check out the Love Inspired Romance books; this book is probably not for you.

Review of Chicken and Rice Wrap w/ Peanut Sauce

For the record here is my husband's review of the wrap I blogged about last night:

"You aren't suppose to be a chef. You are suppose to be a wife. I'm suppose to choke down your food, not crave more of it. (um ok...) It's delicious and awesome. The peanut sauce was very unique but the most I could say was it was fresh with the spinach and the burst of sweetness from the clementine."

So there you have...It's a winner.

and...He liked it so much that he had one for dinner too. I guess I'll be keeping it in mind for future lunches.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chicken & Rice Wrap with Peanut Dip

Tonight I tried a new recipe to "get me out of lunch time rut" from a book I picked up last weekend called:

The Lunch Box: Packed with fun, healthy meals that keep them smiling.
<~~~~~~~~ Here is the cover of the book
The book itself covers sandwiches, wraps, salads, snacks, smoothies, dips, and soups/warm meals. It's very clever and has ideas for using leftover food from dinner in a new and exciting way.

Tonight I used things I had in my fridge/or shelf to make 4 wraps for my husbands future lunches. I used Rice, tortillas, 2 cutie clementines (the original recipe calls for canned mandarin oranges), 3 mini red peppers, 1 left over rotisserie chicken breast, and chopped baby spinach. I also used staples from my pantry to create a peanut dipping sauce. If you don't like oranges you could just use the peppers, if you don't want meat you could canned, drained chickpeas or cooked tofu, and if you can't do nuts (like at my toddler school) you could do hummus or Asian sesame dressing.

The peanut sauce itself is peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and water. Interestingly enough if you asked my parents if these things would be in my cabinet as an adult they would probably not hesitate to say an emphatic NO (except the peanut butter and water). But I have grown and learned to really enjoy cooking with the other items in Asian cooking.

Here it is all prepped: Chicken, red pepper, spinach chopped, Rice - cooked and cooled, oranges peels, and way in the back peanut sauce mixed and ready.

I laid a piece of foil down, then put the tortilla in the center (could probably work 2/3rd down from the top too.) I added a dollop of peanut sauce across the middle horizontally. Then piled on the rice, peppers, chicken, spinach, and oranges. Then I folded the wrap in thirds from the top and bottom. While holding them in place I folded over the left and right sides of the foil. Then rolled the bottom over the wrap and the top over that. In retrospect my tortilla was way too small, but I made do because it's what we had on hand.

This is where I have to end my post as I was preparing these for tomorrow. I will attempt to heat these tomorrow morning at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes (enough to heat it through). The book talks about putting it in a insulated container to keep it warm. I might just leave it un-heated, depends on what time I wake up and how long it takes my oven to heat up to 400.

I will post what my hubby thought of the wrap as soon as I know...He did have a small taste of the peanut dip...he said it tastes good at first bite but after the initial taste it's very peanut butter-y then the aftertaste is as good as the first bite.  I hope he likes it...crosses my fingers!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Book Review #3 of 2013

I was Jane Austen's Best Friend
By: Cora Harrison
Synopsis: Amason's blurb:

When shy Jenny Cooper goes to stay with her cousin Jane Austen, she knows nothing of the world of beautiful dresses, dances, secrets, gossip, and romance that Jane inhabits. At fifteen, Jane is already a sharp observer of the customs of courtship. So when Jenny falls utterly in love with Captain Thomas Williams, who better than Jane to help her win the heart of this dashing man?

But is that even possible? After all, Jenny’s been harboring a most desperate secret. Should it become known, it would bring scandal not only to her, but also to the wonderful Austen family. What’s a poor orphan girl to do?

In this delicious dance between truth and fiction, Cora Harrison has crafted Jenny’s secret diary by reading everything Jane Austen wrote as a child and an adult, and by researching biographies, critical studies, and family letters. Jenny’s diary makes the past spring vividly to life and provides insight into the entire Austen family—especially the beloved Jane.
Readability: It is very easy to read as it's told from a teenage girls journal. It was quick and flowed well.
Predictability :  I don't think I had the upper hand on this book. I was very excited to find a couple points in the book that caught me off guard.
Couldn't Put it Down Factor: This was such a unique way to hear more about Jane Austen's world. The author did much to make you feel as if you were right there in the late eighteenth century with Jane.
Recommend it?: I would definitely recommend it.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5. Just be warn that it is written from the view point of a it might not be everyone's cup of tea.

side note - Apparently in Feb 2012 Ms. Harrison wrote a second book called "Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend" Hmmm...would like to read it to see more of the history she pulls in but we'll see.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book Review #2 of 2013


Old Friends & New Fancies: An Imaginary Sequel to the Novels of Jane Austen
By: Sybil G. Brinton
Synopsis: This book pulls in characters from all of Jane Austen's famous novels and weaves a tail of friendship and love. It's a continuation of the beloved characters that many of Austen's fans would devour.
Readability: It is easy to read and seamlessly picks up the stories of all those wonderful characters as if you just turned the page in the original novels.
Predictability :  I was able to predict one of the two love matches, but I didn't see the second one until it was right there in print.
Couldn't Put it Down Factor: I love the idea that all the characters from Austen's novels would have interacted. Many of them mention the same parts of the country and it would make sense that the circles of people would be small in society.
Recommend it?: I would recommend it. It was a nice revisit to "old friends"
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5. Great book, But not one I was bursting to tell people about as I read it (hence the minus one star).

Virtual craft night

First Craft project of 2013 completed:

I have a blog post in draft status talking about my to-do list for crafts this year...luckily I as able to have a weekend away from home to relax and craft and this was one of the projects I worked on:

It's such a cute design and I'm excited to try making the orange version. But first:

Here is the completed Green Apple Sewing Kit - one side is a pin cushion, the other is a pocket to hold your thimble, measuring tape, thread, and other notions. In the middle is a pad to hold your sewing needles:

Here is what it looks like from the inside with the pocket unzipped:

and here is the side view showing the needle pad:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Quinoa and Beef Stuffed Peppers

Tonight's dinner was suppose to happen last night but in a moment of weakness I caved and we went for burgers and chicken nuggets. So I made Stuffed peppers tonight. I had 5 peppers in my fridge from my produced co-op basket from before new years (shame..shame shame). I also had a yellow squash (my personal preference is for zucchini) and some carrots and onions.  I pulled some meat out of my freezer to thaw and picked up a zucchini from the store because once I started thinking about it, I had to have it in this meal.  Aside from the zucchini everything in the meal was from my produce basket or from my shelves/freezer.

Look at the yummy veggies sauteing! Smelled so great!
Once the veggies were done sauteing, the meat was browned, and the quinoa cooked. It was time to assemble the stuffed peppers. I baked them for 15-20 minutes in an oven set to 350 and let them rest for about 5 minutes while I finished the dishes.

After I pulled them out of the oven.

Don't they look wonderful? I added cheese to only three since my husband is lactose intolerant.

And I dressed one up pretty with the melted and browned delicious cheese:
Can you see a butterfly?
EDIT: did the family like them?  My little man had a small two bites from the spoon before he didn't want any more (that's actually really good). My husband had one half pepper serving, my brother had two half pepper servings, and I also had one. The best was my brother saying that the extra left over filling would go well with the leftover refried beans and tortillas in the fridge. Guess we'll have to make this again.

So here's what you scrolled through my post to find.  The recipe:

Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients for 2-4 servings with enough for left overs:

5 bell peppers of your choice, one chopped the others halved and seeded
1 zucchini, diced
1 med yellow squash (I used 1/2 a large one)
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 a medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chiles, drained(this brand gives the mixture a nice heat)
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup quinoa rinsed
2 cups water

Pre-heat oven to 350. Heat a medium pan on med-high with a tablespoon or two of your favorite cooking oil. Added onions and carrots. Saute for 2-3 minutes then add garlic. Cook another 2-3 minutes then add the zucchini and squash. Cook until all veggies are tender and browned a bit. Meanwhile brown your meat in a separate pan (adding salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you want while it cooks. I added a dash of onion powder, garlic powder, and Lawry's seasoning salt) and add the water and quinoa to a medium pot. Bring the water/quinoa mix to a boil, cover, reduce to medium low and cook for 15 minutes. Once veggies are cooked, add can of tomatoes to them and combine, add the meat and quinoa when they are finished. Stir until combined.

Take the mixture and spoon it into the cavities of the bell peppers and place them on a foil wrapped cookie sheet. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese if you prefer. Bake for 15-20 minutes for semi-crunchy peppers, or bake until the peppers are as soft as you want them. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pinterest Anonymous

I have a serious problem. If you could see my firefox window right now you'd understand. You see I have so many tabs open for things I have found while surfing through the DIY and Crafts catagory of Pinterest that I am sure it will crash my computer any time...

Does anyone else have this problem. It's especially bad at night when I should have time to look through the tabs to see if there are things I want to pin or mark to make later in life (when does that later happen anyway?) I end up wanting to continue to scroll down the page and look at all the clever, useful, pretty things people create...

Tonight I was actually in the middle of writing a post about my crafting projects I have lined up, started, dream about and here I am abandoning the post to stare at more projects I don't have time to do. So Now I am sure I will go back to my surfing and eventually leave the tabs open to one day finally just "close all tabs" and lose the future projects until I find them while surfing again.

Night folks! More posts coming this week.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Making progress...

So...This is the progress I'm making on organizing and de-cluttering my kitchen.  I have managed to clear off the front counter and the left hand side by the coffee pot. I'm also pretty happy with the status of the dirty dishes - ZERO! I've been working on getting the dishwasher unloaded and reloaded while the kiddos are napping and making sure I do all the dinner dishes during the food prep of dinner or with an hour or two of dinner.Still have a bit to go and you can see I haven't taken my christmas cards down yet...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Review #1 of 2013

Last year I read 68 books in a year. This year I'd like to keep a bit more information about the books I'm reading for others that might or might not care.

Okay so I have to point out that the cover of this book does not make me "swoon". I really contemplated posting it(okay I will...below - but be warned...This guy is better to look at!)

<~~~This is Rupert Penry Jones when he played Captain Wentworth on Masterpiece Classic's last version of Persuasion (Isn't he dreamy?) I believe this was in 2008. It's the version I have watch over and over and over...

I took this book review format from my friend Erin. She is Hilarious. But don't take my word for it.

Captain Wentworth's Persuasion: Jane Austen's Classic as Retold through His Eyes  by Regina Jeffers

Synopsis: Witty, romantic and insightful, this novel retells the love affair at the heart of Jane Austen's Persuasion from the perspective of the suitor--Captain Wentworth. Written in the language of the era, Captain Wentworth's Persuasion re-creates the original style, themes and sardonic humor of Jane Austen's novel while turning the entire tale on its head in a most engaging fashion. Readers hear Captain Wentworth's side of this tangled story while gazing into his thoughts and emotions.

Wentworth initially suffers rejection and frustration because the titled Elliots do not consider him good enough for their daughter Anne. Despite her feelings for Wentworth, Anne allows others to persuade her to break off their engagement. Eight years later, when Wentworth returns from fighting against Napoleon's army, the difficult years of war have reversed fortunes. Now it is he who is rich, having won many prizes in battle, while the Elliots are deeply in debt and in danger of losing their good name.

Will Wentworth seek revenge by choosing another woman over his former love? Can he walk away from Anne, or will the memory of her lips and her touch capture his love once again?

(this is the blurb from Amazon...It's very dramatic when you read it...but if you know the story it's sort of like 'really, "will he seek revenge..."come on...' Only a Jane Austen fan would pick this book up really so they already know the story, Amazon.)
Readability: It is set in a period where there was a bit more formal language but I did not have trouble reading it. I have however read the original Persuasion (and seen the movie enough to know the story very, very well) so I might be bias.
Predictability: Well as I said above...I knew the story. But Ms. Jeffers does continue on a bit where Persuasion left off...I found that really intriguing and could read more if she wrote more.
Couldn't Put it Down Factor: I read this on my cell phone through our library check out. I was about 50% of the way through last night and started at seven p.m. after the Munchkin was down for the night. The next thing I knew it was midnight...and I was finished with the book and staring at the pile of dishes that were waiting to be washed.
Recommend it?: YES!
Overall Rating: 5 stars from this Janeite! If you like reading the spin offs from Jane Austen, this one will be a nice touch of re-visiting the story. You may also like Mr. Darcy's Story.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Resolving messiness 2013

Here is a snapshot of my kitchen...scary right?
The kitchen usually have stuff all over the counters, dishes stacked in the drainer and in the sink...

Now you have to take one or two things under consideration before you shake your head at me...First, I am the sole female in the house of 4 adults and one toddler. Secondly, I have been the only one who hasn't been sick this past week, and to further compound things my husband has been sick for nearly 5 weeks with various ailments.  So there...I have some excuses reasons for this craziness...

I've always wanted my kitchen to be more organized and ready to bake a moments notice. AND I always find I am shuffling things around to make room to cook or to move things from in front of my microwave to let someone cook something. It is inevitable that the last scenario occurs right when I've moved something from the counter not in this picture to the front of the microwave for room to work when one of the members of my household decides it is the opportune time to heat something in the microwave. Does that happen to anyone else? 

So one of my resolutions this year (aside from blogging more) was to de-clutter and organize in anticipation of moving from this home we've lived in for 3 years.

ENTER: Home Storage Solutions 101 and their de-clutter and organize your house in 52 weeks challenge.

Each day has a 15 minute minimum challenge to work on some cleaning in your house. Each week is an article on the area we currently focusing. Each Month seems to be a different room or area.

For the month of January the room is the Kitchen/pantry. I love this because it hits on the major command center of our home. The Kitchen is home base. I cook, we adults congregate when the limited seating in the nearby living room runs out, my toddler and my babysitting charge eat and play nearby, and did I mention I bake and cook, and cook and bake?  So I decided that yes I could blog about this and show some incredibly embarrassing photos of the mess of our house and hopefully after picture of the de-clutter 2013!  I'm hoping that blogging will also help keep me accountable for continuing on this overhaul of our house hold.  Maybe it will even start you thinking about cleaning around your home!

Here is the link for this weeks challenge article:  Kitchens!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 - The year of accomplishment

Hi ghosts of my former blog followers...I hope you are doing well reading my non-existent blog posts for the 4 months or so...

I am here to tell you that I am hoping to ACCOMPLISH quite a bit during 2013.  I have many unfinished projects and ideas of things I want to do between my overwhelmingly growing list of crafty things.

so I've decided to work on some of those things while simultaneously attempting to declutter and downsize the amount of junk hanging out in the house. We have lived in our rental house for 3 years and have had a baby and so things are piling up all around. There is a potential threat to leave this place at the end of our current lease so I'd like to purge and finish things that have been hanging around for some time.

Now I know you are asking me WHERE ARE THE RECIPES? because in the past this blog is mainly focused on my food adventures in the kitchen. I still am cooking, in fact my brain is churning out ideas for posts on my favorite Christmas baking recipes (that I have started hoarding), adventures in candy making and probably some gluten-free and healthy alternatives to hotdish, fried foods, and potatoes.

That being said I am about to overhaul the look of this site and hope you will leave feedback if any of these changes affect how you read (or not read) my blog.

Cheers and Happy New Year!