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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Getting Organized

After I had forgotten more than one date with friends and family I decided it was time to be a grown-up and get an organizer. We used to put calendars up on the fridge with magnets, but our house is too fancy now (har-dee-har-har). Actually, the new appliances are stainless steel and magnets won't stick. Roger has always hated the  calendars so I'm sure there were ulterior motives somewhere.
Enter Pinterest.
I discovered the ARC system from Staples. (Sponsor me anytime.) It comes with this great hole-puncher for a measly $38 dollars. I tried not to get it, but ultimately knew I would never be happy until I got the damn hole-puncher. My advice? Get the hole-puncher.
The system comes in two sizes  - regular letter sized and a smaller version. I want to say six by nine? The puncher works for both sizes.
Because I hated the pages that came with my ARC notebook, I did a little research and found Pink Polka Dot Posie. Jennifer, the owner of the shop, does these great printables for customizing you own personal planner pages. She also designs other printables, including invitations. Check her out!
With a personal planner - you win a victory over stress. No more forgotten lunch dates, at least!
Thanks for reading.


Friday, March 14, 2014

My Husband Said That These Were the Best Cookies He's Ever Had


I got the basic recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook - the New Edition. It's the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe that's on page 177.

2/3 c brown sugar packed
2/3 c white sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 cup shortening (okay - I'll admit here that I used lard.)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp orange extract
2 tbs orange zest
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3 c quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats (I used large flake - DON'T USE INSTANT!!)
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c dried cranberries
1 c chopped pecans & coconut

I found that the dough hook on my Kitchen-Aid mixer (hey - sponsor me anytime!) works great for mixing this stiff dough. I used the regular paddle first to cream the cold butter I had.
Combine all dry ingredients except sugars, & set aside. Mix up remainder of ingredients then add the dry ingredients  at the end. Mix until blended then drop by rounded tablespoons 2 in apart on an ungreased cookies sheet. Bake for 11 minutes at 375.
The cookies turn out crispy-chewy and so satisfying!
Good luck with this recipe - let me know if you try it.
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Recipe sharing: My favorite lemon meringue pie (or tarts...)

I've made this so many times I don't need the recipe anymore. It is a really simple, luscious pie!

Rosie's Lemon Meringue Pie


one baked pie shell
1 1/4 c sugar
1/3 cup + 1 tbs cornstarch
1 1/2 c water
1/2 c lemon juice
1 tbs lemon zest
3 egg yolks, set aside in separate bowl
1 tbs butter (optional)

Meringue
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
4 - 6 tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Blend cornstarch and sugar together in a 2 qt saucepan. Slowly blend in water. Cook on med high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to boil. Boil 1 minute while stirring.
Working quickly, pour 1/2 the mixture into the egg yolks, beating constantly. (You'll work those arm muscles!). Mix this back into the saucepan with the rest of the stuff and boil another minute while beating. The mixture should be really thick at this point.
Remove from stove and stir in lemon juice and lemon zest, and butter if desired. Pour into pie shell and set aside while you make the meringue:

Combine egg whites and cream of tartar and beat well on low speed until blended. On high speed, whip egg whites and gradually add sugar as you beat. When meringue holds a firm peak, mix in vanilla and spread on pie, sealing the meringue around the crust.
Bake at 350 until the meringue is a light golden brown.
Sit back and enjoy the praise.
 Thanks for reading. Have a great week!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Seriously. Why you need to swatch!

These are the last swatches for lesson three from The Knitting Guild of America's "Basics, Basics, Basics" Course.
Each swatch was made with the same kind of yarn, the same size needles, and the same number of stitches and rows. The difference is amazing and if I wasn't a staunch swatcher before, I certainly am one now!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Written from My Underground Snow Bunker

With all of this snow, I've had a chance to do more than my share of knitting.
I have managed to avoid harikari so far -  but I've done a lot of frogging on this vest pattern from Pierrot Yarns. I can't tell you how many times I've started over again, each time armed with a little bit more knowledge into this wonderful world of Japanese knitting patterns.
First of all, I've found that most of the charted symbols are the same as US symbols. Some are sort of the same, with an odd variation. The Pierrot site has videos of all the stitches, so be sure to take a minute and double-check to see if you're on the right track.
A glaring example of this is the left-leaning decrease SSK (slip, slip, k2tog tbl) with the familiar symbol:
In Japanese patterns, this is a left-leaning decrease:
 
After wrestling with this for a while, believing all to be well, my pattern was still  pretty wonky so I went to the Pierrot site and checked their video library. The left-leaning decrease turned out to be a slip, knit pass slipstich over (SKPSSO). Mastering this part of the pattern has actually made me feel quite hopeful about this vest.  I'm planning to play it safe and put in LOTS more life lines  as soon as I publish this entry. This is what I've done successfully so far:
 
 It's the R front panel of the Pierrot vest 211 210 30  in Soft Linen by Classic Elite Yarns color #2248 on size three US 24 in circulars, just because I like to knit flat on circulars!
We were planning on visiting friends for an overnight - but the weather's a little dicey.
 


Stay safe and warm this weekend. Happy knitting and thanks for reading. A special shout out to my most loyal reader from Boston, whoever you are! Bless your heart for sticking with me!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

As promised - Japanese knitting links

In my search for a new project to knit - a nice vest - I came across a pattern from
Pierrot Yarns in Japan. They have a pattern club - they're fabulous and they're free (the other two of my three favorite "F" words).
I've recently discovered something about my  knitting self: I like charts better than text when it comes to knitting instructions. If you're at least an intermediate-level knitter, you'll do just fine with these patterns. They're very clear and very exact. Don't shy away from it because it looks intimidating at first. I promise you - just spend five minutes with it and you'll be able to decipher the instructions perfectly. A world of unique stitch patterns awaits you!
This wonderful blogger has presented the basics in a very well-organized way and takes you by the hand for a tour of a Japanese knitting patterns.
Some other links I've discovered:
InterpretingJapaneseKnittingPatterns.pdf
reading Japanese charts
Try it - it's easier than you think. Thanks for reading.





(Photo from the Pierrot Yarns website)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Word for 2014 and Revisiting Stefano's Mom's Minestrone

My word for 2014 (- no, it's not inertia or enervate -) is 'action'!
No - I'm completely serious. Maybe I'll have a little more action than I did dignity (my word for 2013).
It's the 2nd of January and I'm staying home today because the dishwasher guy is coming and my truck looks like this:

I'm cooking up a batch of Stefano Faita's mom's minestrone  If you've tried this recipe before, you know how easy it is to make it your own with the  additional ingredients you prefer. For me, this soup now begins with the following:

A honey-baked hambone simmering with onions sautéed in olive oil and bacon fat



I pretty much follow Stefano's recipe with the following changes: I usually omit the leeks - not a crowd favorite.
In winter I use canned greens I got from the country grocery down south instead of fresh  in the original recipe. When I'm using fresh greens, I'll go for chard instead of kale simply because we prefer it.
If you don't have all the herbs don't sweat it - the soup is very flavourful without them- but I do insist upon a bay leaf or two!
This soup freezes beautifully! That's fortunate because the recipe makes enough to feed a small battalion.
I have a new hair-brained scheme: Japanese knitting. I'll share some of it with you in my next entry - that is, if I haven't committed hari kari over it in the meantime.
Have a wonderful New Year! 
 
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