2010′s way of saying goodbye to January.
Just when I start to think I couldn’t possibly love my husband anymore than I already do… He cleans the refrigerator while I’m out teaching a class. (Please note, he cleaned it without being asked!) And then he helped me clean and organizer the chest freezer. It really is the little things that make the biggest difference. Just thought you all should know what a wonderful guy I’ve got. (Aww…. warm fuzzies…)
My friend Liisa recently posted about her garden design. She and I decided to order seeds together this year from a fairly local company, Territorial Seed (she’s ordered from them before, it’s my first time). I took some inspiration from her and decided to draft out my garden plan.
It’s rough at best, but at least captures what I’m going for. I badly need to rotate the tomatoes out of the square foot garden this year, so they’re going to live in the new bed. The onion and garlic of course won’t be planted at the same time as the tomatoes and cucumbers as this represents the entire rotation from spring to fall. The green shows beds/planters I already have. The blue shows the potato boxes I need to build. There are also four large planters in our side yard that will have herbs in them. I have not yet decided what to do with the half wine barrel (pictured at bottom left) that used to house an artichoke (which died a horrible death last summer). I’m thinking it may just end up with some sort of hardy flowers since it is a neglected area of the yard.
I’m trying several new-to-me plants this year. In fact the only carry over plants are tomatoes, lettuce, peas, and carrots. Everything else will be a new experience! I have officially given up on peppers. I’ve tried them two years now and they always fail miserably.
Now, the real trick will be if I remember to start my seeds at the right times and have plants big enough to transplant. I’ll keep you posted on the garden progress as it happens.
Sorry about missing MPM last week, folks. It just wasn’t my week. Nothing bad happened, it was just kind of erratic. Classes have started back up at the shop, so that means I’m down there two days a week now instead of just one. That always throws my schedule for a loop because it means I’m not home until after 8 or 9pm. And I have found it is difficult to cook a meal, eat it, and make it to the shop in under an hour. With that in mind, I need to find some easily portable foods that can be prepped in advance and eaten on the way to teaching. Thoughts? Suggestions? I would prefer food stuffs that do not come out of boxes or bags or from little drive through windows. My stomach is angry enough after a weekend of nothing but pizza, toast, and coffee (with some ice cream thrown in for good measure). So, keeping all that in mind, please note that this week is extremely slow cooker heavy.
Monday: Beef tacos
Tuesday: Slow cooked pork shoulder using the marinade from this recipe and adding the apples that need to be used up. Serve with potatoes and green beans.
Wednesday: Slow cooker chicken Adobo with rice and edamame. (There should be just enough time for me to run home, throw some food in my mouth and head to the shop using the slow cooker.)
Thursday: Yarn night, dealer’s choice.
Friday: Slow cooked beef brisket ala Smitten Kitchen with mushrooms, potatoes and veggies.
Saturday: Casserole made from leftover brisket (most likely a shepherd’s pie type affair).
Sunday: Chicken noodle soup.
You know you have a yarn problem when…
(Click to embiggen)
You become an official ambassador for a yarn company!
I recently received this cute little trio in the mail, denoting me as the official ambassador for The Unique Sheep. I get a button with my name, a laminated card, and a beautiful stitch marker! Best of all, I get an LYS that carries their yarns for my fondling and purchasing pleasure. Thank you to Laura and Kelly for making me feel like such a special part of the Unique Sheep family. (Aww… warm fuzzies…)
That is the sound that this week is making. With the family events this weekend and the flood of meetings this week, I’ve just been terribly distracted. And I totally spaced Menu Plan Monday. Bad blogger, no cookie! That being said, I’m going to distract you with pretty and adorable aprons.
First up, the apron I thought I had botched. I made it for me, but unfortunately, it’s just not the apron shape that’s right on my body. It pooched and sagged and snugged all in areas it shouldn’t. What’s a girl to do? Apparently, give it to her sister…
Gratuitous pocket action.
My sister and I have different body shapes. She’s tall and less curvy. I’m short and curve like an accordion. This apron fits her and is pretty to boot!
Work that apron, sister!!
I got the fabric on sale at Fabric of Vision. The blue color you see on the pockets is also the lining, making the apron reversible. The pattern was by an independent designer, but I don’t remember who offhand.
Along with that apron, I’ve been working on a slew of aprons for my cousin’s daycare. She tends to have around six kids at Jumpin’ Monkeys and they all love to play pretend kitchen. Tyler was kind enough to model the first one.
Do I have a cute model or what?
The fabric is Debbie Mumm and is some sort of outer space print. This apron is also fully lined and was made using the Montessori Child’s Apron tutorial from Sew Liberated (scroll down, the link to the PDF is on the right hand side of the site). This pattern is so simple and easy. The best part? It only takes about a half yard per apron! (I’m not sure if you can tell, but he’s wearing the top half of his pirate costume under that apron. See the pirate hat at the bottom right? I think the Sponge Bob flip flops just *make* the entire ensemble.)
I also finished two aprons and a chef’s hat in some wild west themed Debbie Mumm fabric. Since the daycare has both girls and boys, I figured unisex fabric was where it was at. My only modification to the original tutorial was to make the waist strap a little longer. The rocket version (modeled by Tyler above) had a 16″ waist strap, which was a little tight over a three layer pirate costume. I increased the strap to 20″, which made cutting it even easier as it is the same length as the neck strap. (So instead of cutting a 3″x16″ piece and a 3″x20″ piece, you cut a 6″x20″ piece and then cut it in half to have two identical 3″x20″ pieces. Got it? Good.)
Red horses with blue rope background.
Matching chef’s hat.
Blue horses with red rope background
Stay tuned for more adorable aprons to come. I have at least another 3 or 4 in the works in both outer space and wild west fabrics. If you want a project that has both instant gratification and an adorable factor of +10, then give this little apron a whirl. You won’t be disappointed!
So, apparently “rainy Wednesday in January” translates into “let’s make orange marmalade!” in my mind. Because today, nothing would have it but to buy the canning supplies I was missing. (Did I mention I inherited a water bath canner and pressure cooker on New Years? My mommy loves me!) Anyway, after some delicious Thai food (Mmm… Pad Thai…), it was time to hit the stove! My darling hubby sliced and diced the oranges while I zested and juiced the lemon. We used this recipe courtesy of his royal highness, Alton Brown (all hail the king!).
It is important to note that this is my first canning adventure. Note the beautiful color of the oranges cooking. (Although they did not smell beautiful…)
See how big my canning pot is (right) compared to my normal 8 quart spaghetti pot (left)? It’s ginormous!
The recipe calls for 3lbs, 12oz of sugar. That’s nearly 8 cups! It took two of us to add the sugar. One to pour and one to stir. Nearly 4lbs of sugar is just too much to pour in a controlled manner with only one hand. I’m not sure if this marmalade will set up properly, but after cooking it nearly 40 minutes, we decided to just go with it.
And that, kiddies, is just one jars of seven 8oz jars and two 16oz jars. I do hope it sets up, or we’ll have a whole lot of ice cream toppings on our hands…
Of course, Chloe helped out by giving me a ball to kick while I waited for things to boil and go “Ping!”.
Do you like breast cancer? No? Me either! So let’s help kick its butt!
Liisa and Shanti (aka the awesome Team Shunn) will be heading to Seattle in September for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure (more details here). That, folks, is a 60 mile walk. Just the thought of walking that far makes me want to faint into my chair with exhaustion. But here’s the important part: Team Shunn needs to raise $5,000 for this event and you can help! Donate, help fund raise, cheer them on; whatever you can do to help! If you’re a business, you can get some awesome advertising for barely any moolah. Just $500 gets you 60 miles and three days worth of customer visibility! Talk about cheap, eh?
Personally, I am committing to a minimum of $10 every pay check. That’s only $20 a month! Everyone can afford $20 a month. Think about how much you spend on lattes every week. Just cutting out 6 lattes a month would free up the $20 to donate. I am also going to cheer them on by walking myself. I certainly won’t be doing 60 miles any time soon. But Chloe and I are going to start dragging our rolls around the park a few times a week. So put on your walking shoes, settle into your chair, and start donating!
See these jars? They are gorgeous! Made from recycled glass in Spain and available from Mountain Rose Herbs. (Just a little shout out to MRH… They have good prices, quality stuff, and the jars were packaged within an inch of their lives with bubble wrap. UPS would have had to run over the box to break them!)
But just as important as the beauty of the jars is what they contain. In two months they will no longer just be vessels of vodka with vanilla beans. They will evolve into glass palaces of vanilla extract! Stay tuned for the exciting transformation!
It’s the first MPM of the new year. This week seems to be about food that is comfortable and easy. Let’s hope the week follows suit.
Monday: Baked salmon with lemon and herbs, served with potatoes and veggies
Tuesday: Spaghetti with meat sauce
Wednesday: Slow cooker roast with potatoes and veggies
Thursday: Yarn Night = Dealer’s Choice
Friday: Chicken curry with rice
Saturday: Homemade pizza (Mom’s birthday party today, so these plans may get shifted)
Sunday: Shepherd’s pie