Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Afghan blow out

My beautiful ripple striped afghan developed big rips in it. I’m not sure if it was my shoddy crochet work or what, but I spent a few nights ripping it up. There was some usable yarn in there. There was also some not-so-usable yarn there. I guess that is the price to be paid for thriftiness – using whatever yarn comes to you instead of going to buy yarn especially for a project. I’ve made that pattern into baby blankets. I hope they are still intact :/

So I’ve got balls and balls of red, white and blue yarn. I’m thinking (when I finish this latest baby blanket) about trying a granny stripe. Maybe that will be better?

Afghan along the couch

Monday, January 27, 2014



I’ve bought the seeds. Now I’m just waiting to start them. I’ve never started seeds before.  I’m not sure where to start. I want to make newspaper pots. I have a recipe for seed-starting medium. I need to figure out some sort of labels. I’ve been saving coke bottles and milk jugs to serve as make-shift planters/pots. I’ve some egg shells to start seeds in. It needs to be done and kept indoors somewhere Millie can’t get into it, which is limiting.  I’m really excited. I have my garden notebook I’ve been making notes in and reading lots of garden books, but  a lot of the information is contradictory, as far as when to start what plants and when. I’ve found a few websites to register your garden with and plan it there. I’ll see how they go. One of them is already requiring that I give them money to do almost anything, the other wants money to add berries to the garden. I have Burpees app on my phone, though my seeds aren’t Burpee. It has a calendar and place to input data too. I'll probably start some of the seeds this weekend while we're in the coldcapolypse.
This weekend was the coldest in  . . .  well years here in SE Texas. The temperature is much lower than normal. There was rain that turned into ice and stayed there. Icy overpasses, iced up cars. I know other parts of the world live like that all winter, but not us. Not here. Grace and I went out to do some stuff and ended up at Lowe's. I bought a mix instead of mixing my own, but some of that was cheapness (the mix was cheaper than buying the individual parts separately, though I would have had more) and mostly the product of not wanting to go out into the cold outdoors and hunt up the mixes. So Grace and I ended up with seed mix, red velvet sundae and really strong stout beer. Mission accomplished!?! We are clear and free for the whole weekend because most everything has been canceled. A novel thing for us!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Girl Scouts and Meeting #1

Grace decided she didn't want to play soccer any more. She wants to be in Girl Scouts. I wasn't a girl scout when I was a little girl, but it sounds right up my alley. And it is. I called and we signed up. I signed up to be a troop leader, but there has to be 2 troop co-leaders. It took awhile to get up and running. They were just starting new, younger troops in our area, so everything was new. I recruited a friend of Grace's and her mom to be with us, and once we both started the training, we could start meeting. We have 11 girls, and as of the 3rd meeting, there are 2 we haven't laid eyes on yet.
I held a parent meeting to start with and didn't see all of the parents. The co-leader and I decided that we would take our girls to the cookie college held nearby. It ended up being kind of a waste of time, but it was our first "girl scout thing" and we learned some stuff. We're starting right when cookie sales begin, so we're diving in head-first!
I've been to 2 leadership trainings, plus the cookie manager training and my co-leader has been to 1. There's at least 1 more that I need to go to, plus any of the special trainings, like camping, etc.

The first meeting was at our house, as have been subsequent meetings. We are trying to find a church or somewhere else to meet, but with the holidays and such, we haven't heard back. Our co-leader is chasing that down, for which I'm completely grateful. So far, my job is to plan and conduct the meetings, which is a lot like teaching. There's a lot of planning and classroom management going on.

During the first meeting, we made name tags, then had our first Brownie circle to plan the Christmas party, then we colored a picture of a girl scout to put in our scrapbooks. We learned the friendship squeeze and a friendship song. And we heard the story of the Brownie. Fun stuff!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jobless frustrations

Scott is still looking for a job. He's been out of work for almost a year at this point. And there's nothing. He goes for interviews, they go with someone else. There are 10 other people interviewing for the same, entry-level position. He's frustrated; I'm frustrated. God's been taking care of us, along with our parents. Every month I know that we're going under, but every month something happens and it's just enough.
But I'm so tired of it. I know I'm depressed. I feel like I have a kind of PTSD - like everything that happens is going to be bad. Someone else needing money, some other bill we can't pay or didn't know about. It could be worse - and I'm so afraid it's going to get worse.
I get it. We spent a lot of years not paying attention to what we spent vs what we were making. We are paying that huge, consolidated bill now. And I'm glad to do it. We are much better now (by absolute necessity) at not spending money.
But what's the lesson? What haven't we learned yet?
Is it that Grace is always cognizant of what things cost and how that may influence who she marries and what she does for a living - check.
I know God is in control. I know God will take care of us. It's just so frustrating.
I'm buying and cooking healthier now. We hardly ever go out unless it's a mystery shop. I work every extra thing I can. I make and cook ahead all the time.
I know we're not waiting for the greatest job ever. He has no skills or ambition or motivation. He'll have the same kind of job he's always had. He just needs one. Now.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Some holiday pictures

Trying to get a family picture by the Christmas tree at church. Millie was her usual, finely uncooperative self.

At a church festival

Pretty wreath my sister made.

Eating donuts

Steering Daddy

She sleeps so badly. Scott has to get up with her every night and they end up sacked out in the living room. Usually she's on the floor with her booty up in the air.

Best picture of them and Santa.

Grace and me on a hayride.

Too early!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Quilted and done x1

I started my t-shirt quilt and I knew some stuff, but mostly I had to learn by trial-and-error. So I started mine and did the math and cut the squares and started sewing. Found the sashing, bought some more - lots of trial and error. I was pleased with mine, but I made it too skinny and there were too many steps to make the squares. I made the whole square, then sewed them together instead of making a row, then sewing the whole row to a row of sashing, like I did with Scott's quilt.
I wanted to make Scott's Aggiecon shirts into a quilt for him too, but I wanted to make sure it would be good. It turned out to be the easiest one I've made. Once I had the shirts cut and figured out the sashing math, putting it together took about 2 days. I tried out my cams for my sewing machine to do the inside of the squares. It came together so well. I'm very pleased with it.

So then I came back to mine. I found the sashing fabric to make it larger. Then I tried to do a short cut that's turning out to not be a short cut . . .It's complicating things, so I'm cogitating on it for awhile.
Mine in progress

Not much progress with the big fat cat

Earlier in the week.

Quilted and done.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Playing outside

We went outside and played last weekend
Mama's big helper
Do the roses know it's winter?
The sun was shining, but it was cold. There were some pretty things going on. This huge hibiscus plant started out last year as one of the crummy, half-price plants at Lowe’s. Look at it now!


Scott’s mom gave us a Christmas cactus a few years ago that has just been surviving in my plant jungle. I went to look through my veggies to see how they are doing and there were some really pretty purple flowers. I thought they were toys at first, but here they are. So pretty!

The broccoli is starting to develop. I can’t wait to eat some!
Is this a weed? Sometimes I plant random things in the flower beds, though there are plenty of weeds there too.


I’ve been using a big planter as a compost pile. We usually just pile stuff in it. Today I had Scott spread out a tarp and spread it out and add some leaves. The bottom layer is good, but I think we need to bury the new food because there is some mold growing there. I think I got a good lungful. Hopefully not too dangerous.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Favorite podcasts

I decided last year to stop pirating audiobooks, so I started listening to free podcasts. I've been through several that I thought were good, then started to be annoying. Here are some that I've stuck with and I'll tell you why.

Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods fame along with someone who works in his office. I went back to listen from the beginning and have enjoyed every one. There's a lot of behind-the-food scenes stuff, and other, normal stuff. I love AZ in all forms.

This is a newish one with Alton Brown just being Alton Brown. He talks recipes, fashion, food and other things with guests or on his own. Not every episode is a winner, but they are usually very listenable.

Garden Brew is 2 guys talking about brewing beer and having their garden, both of which I like. Interesting, but not for everyone.

Chris Hardwick was a 90s host and has been doing this podcast with 2 friends for several years. There are about 430 episodes. Most of them are interviews with entertainers, some more famous than others. There are some really good ones in there.
This is all about organic living. There are 3 hosts and guests around a topic. Some are better than others, but it's not from around here. This one and The Food Craftsman (who didn't have a logo) are from or focus on the San Francisco Bay area, which seems to be a mecca of all things great food.

I really have no idea why I listen to this one. I think it's entertainment, but it's really random. Frustrated actors dishing on lots and lots of stuff. Funny and entertaining, but again, not for everyone.

That's what's on my running list.
Do you have any that you love?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Canning dreams

One of the dreams was to grow and preserve whole foods. I haven't grown anything yet, but I have been canning.
I found some whole cranberries on clearance at the grocery store and wanted to make a jelly for Thanksgiving. I researched recipes and made one with jalapenos. Cranberries have natural pectin, so it was really easy. I didn't use enough jalapeno to make it hot, but it tasted pretty good. I canned it smallish jars and put it through a boiling water bath. And it worked. That was the first taste of success, so to speak.
My friend Joyce has a pressure canner that she got at a garage sale and let me borrow it. I put it through the tests, then got started.
I always make my own chicken/meat/vegetable stock. I keep a stock bag in the freezer and make stock whenever the bag gets full. Sometimes it's more chicken, lately it's been more vegetable. Kale has a very distinctive flavor. :)
So the first thing I canned was meat stock from a roast I made. Then I canned the roast itself, then some vegetable soup, then some chicken stock, then some more vegetable soup. When I have time, I like to cook, so making this all ahead and canning it lets us just pull from our own stock of good food to eat. The soups and meats can just be opened and used. I usually just freeze stuff, but our freezer is pretty small and was getting overcrowded. Right now I have 22 cans of stuff.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Produce co-op

I feel like our little area is getting big time. First a real Farmer's Market, now we have the opportunity for a produce co-op. It's not local produce, but it's fresh and I like that it's a random assortment each week. You pay with paypal, then go pick it up on Tuesday afternoon.  Fresh avocados with tomatoes make great guacamole, or even the avocado on sandwiches. I don't even like tomatoes, but the grape tomatoes were great. Lettuce, onions, garlic, celery, bananas, pears, apples. There was a pomegranate in this last one that I'm about to eat. I'm trying to figure out the cabbage. I think I'm going to make stuffed cabbage tomorrow. One of the farmers at the market is still offering winter produce, though I haven't gotten anything from them. They are looking into doing a chicken CSA. I don't think I'm going to do it this time, but I'm thinking about it for later. Local chickens, freshly processed - that's important to me, so I should put my money where my heart is and do it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sugar-Cinnamon donuts aka The best thing I’ve ever made

So I pretty much ignore the Facebook food porn. None of it is healthy, much of it uses pre-bought, processed-food ingredients, but I saw this one and thought it would be a great one to try for holiday breakfasts. AND it was. I didn't use the glaze; I just rolled it in cinnamon-sugar. They were too good. I ate way too many and gave some away as gifts. They are fried in grease; they are made of white flour and sugar. There's nothing healthy here.
This is my crappy picture. There are better ones at the link, along with the recipe. Sugar-Cinnamon donut recipe

Friday, January 3, 2014

Dehydrating Daily

I received a Nesco dehydrator for Christmas from my Mother-in-law.
And I've been using it every day since. It's so much fun.
I hate buying herbs and spices that I hardly ever use and just sit in the cabinet. And there's preservatives, it's not fresh, etc. I'd been toying with drying stuff in the oven, but it never worked out the way I wanted it. I tried kale chips that were ok. I dried onions and garlic with mixed results.
I also received a coffee grinder, which sets me up to make some really interesting things.
One of the first things I dried was bananas. But they weren't great. I think I need to salt them or something. I have a lot of bananas in a produce basket that I needed to use, so I tried it. I'll try again with salt tomorrow or so. I ended up making a ton of banana bread, but I'm out of flour now ;)
Also in the basket are usually onions and garlic, which I tried next. I dried them both, then ground them in the grinder. So now I've got onion powder and powdered garlic, then I did more onions and left them as flakes. I'm very pleased with those things.
I have some dried cilantro leaves that I can't wait to use for salsas, soups, taco stuff, etc.
I found a homemade ranch dressing mix recipe that calls for a lot of ground stuff and flakes and that may be the ultimate goal, providing it tastes good. Maybe for gifts? Is there a market for that?
Today I did more garlic, some green onions and some sugared oranges. I feel like these oranges will turn out better than my previous attempt. I tried to do candied citrus peels/sugared limes earlier and they didn't turn out well. I think the peels themselves were not good quality.

Random citrus/peels
green onions

I tried potato chips, but they are as greasy as they look here in the picture. Also, too crunchy. Not sure how to fix that. Even after a few weeks, they are still hard as rocks. The zucchini chips turned out really good. I made some parmesean green beans, but I let them go too long and they didn't look good. Tasted really nice, but were all shriveled. I'm going to keep working on it. It'll be great if my garden produces a ton of stuff and I can just experiment with those things.
So tomorrow - carrots, more bananas and . . . fun stuff.