Saturday, March 31, 2012

Once upon a time...

...I wrote a knitting pattern for a baby blanket!  I'm really very proud of this one, even though it was crazy easy.  When I gave it to my friend at her baby shower, it seemed to go over really well...  lots of ooh's and ahh's.

The pattern can be found here!  

This pattern was written for personal use.  Feel free to make as many as you like for charity, friends, family or yourself...  Please DO NOT SELL items made from this pattern.   Designer: Kassy Allen of

Friday, March 30, 2012

Soup, it's good for the soul...

Cream of Broccolette Soup
Makes 6-8 servings
  • 2 bunches of broccolette (or broccoli)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 cups of stock of your choice (I used half chicken and half turkey, but vegetable stock would work just fine)
  • 2 or 3 small red potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • sea salt, black pepper and cumin to taste
Clean leaves and cut ends off of broccolette, if you're using broccoli peel the ends of the stems.  Finely chop stalks and florets.  
Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy pot .  Add onion and sweat until almost translucent, add garlic and cook just until garlic becomes aromatic.  Add stock and potatoes, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the potato is tender.  Add broccolette and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, or until the broccolette is tender.  
Carefully, using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), puree soup until it has an even consistency.  Then, in a small container with a lid, shake together cream and flour.  Add cream mixture to soup and simmer on low for another five minutes (to cook the flour a bit).  Season to taste and serve with some nice, crusty bread.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Yummy, yummy veggies...

My house smells sooo good right now...  ugh, so good, I can't stand it!  "Why?" you ask.  Well, I have some ratatouille in the oven!  I've made a weird ratatouille-like-dish in the past that always *tasted* good, but the vegetables came out soggy and stew-like.  I'm hoping that this new-and-improved version does the trick. 

I started out with a basic knowledge (thanks to Food Network) that ratatouille consists of E-Z-POT.  That is, Eggplant, Zucchini, Peppers, Onions and Tomatoes.  So, that's where my original recipe came from: a basic understanding of cooking and all of those veggies.  Tonight, I decided to look up a few recipes and I came up with something new as a result...

Ratatouille (my way)

  • medium eggplant
  • 3 small-medium zucchinis (or courgettes, if you're fancy like that)
  • 2 bell peppers (pick whatever color(s) you like, I used red because I got 'em on sale CHEAP)
  • 3 small onions (or 2 medium ones....  or one really big one.  Whatever works for you)
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • sea salt 
  • black pepper 
  • herbes de provence (I used Italian seasoning, because I wasn't prepared)
  • balsamic vinegar
Dice all of your veggies and tomatoes into about 1" pieces (I do this *very* roughly, because I like my food "rustic").  Toss them all into a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil.  Season to taste with salt pepper and herbs.  Sprinkle sugar over everything (this cuts some of the acidity of the tomatoes).  Plop 1/2 the can of tomato paste into the veggies and get ready to get your hands dirty!  Rub the tomato paste into the veggies until they look evenly coated.

In a small bowl, mix together remaining half of the tomato paste with about 1 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp of olive oil and 1/4 cup of water (or enough to get it to a slightly thick "saucy" consistency).

Bake at 350*.

After 20 minutes, toss the veggies with the tomato-balsamic sauce and bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until the veggies are done to your liking.

...after eating dinner...

Yeah, this was amazing.  Really, really good, hearty stuff.  We ate it with pasta tonight, but it totally didn't need the pasta.  I'm looking very forward to eating the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Last night's dinner = today's lunch...

And, oh, is it yummy!  I got a random craving for quinoa, so I had to fix it.  It's really not a bad craving to have...  I think I needed a protein fix or something.

Quinoa and Wilted Swiss Chard Salad
  • quinoa
  • water
  • salt 
  • olive oil
  • rainbow swiss chard, torn into 1-2" pieces
  • medium carrot, finely grated
  • small bunch of scallions, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
Top with...
  • balsamic
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 cup quinoa, cooked in two cups water with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil.  Bring it all to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for about five minutes or so.

Toss swiss chard with warm quinoa, let stand for another 5-10 minutes...  the heat from the grain will wilt the greens a little, yum!

Add in other veggies and give it a toss.  Drizzle with dressing and toss it one more time.  Drizzle with a little balsamic and grind a little sea salt and black pepper over it just before serving.

The whole family really liked this stuff.  It was filling and refreshing all at once.  We followed it with a dessert of fresh strawberries, blueberries and mint.  So good!

Monday, March 19, 2012

February showers bring march flowers...?

I'm sure if you live anywhere in the Midwest you're getting sick of hearing people talk about just how insanely beautiful the weather has been.  I mean c'mon, it's bee in the upper 70s to low 80s and its not even spring break!  All of this warmth and sunshine has me in the mood to garden, but I'm a little wary of doing any real planting at this point, especially given that it's suggested that planting should begin in early May for our area.

Well, I *did* go ahead and plant one measly little packet of rhubarb swiss chard seeds...  figuring that it's a cold weather crop, so it *should* be fine.  Hopefully it survives if we happen to get another frost (which I'm praying we don't!).  I also got a bunch of seeds started, some to be transplanted into the garden and some in pots, all of which can be brought inside if we have to.

There's a whole bunch of stuff here...
radishes, mustard, two kinds of swiss chard,
arugula and tom thumb lettuce!

Again, there's lots here...  buttercrunch lettuce, 
cucumbers (the "regular" kind and some for pickles), 
three of four different kinds of tomatoes and eggplant!

Yesterday, I got the kids outside for most of the day (again) and this time I remembered to bring the camera!  I didn't manage to get any good pictures of my baby plants (swiss chard, arugula and buttercrunch lettuce are all coming up!), but I *did* get these...

All three of these pictures are plants that have surprised us...
this is our first spring in this house, 
so it's fun to see what kind of flowers are coming up!

Yay, springtime!  We tore a bunch of bulbs out of our garden and moved them to another area, not expecting them to flower (or even survive, for that matter) but the crocuses have blossomed and the daffodils a budding (again, no good pictures of those yet)!  I also managed to get the kids to help out with cleaning up the leaves and sticks around the fire "pit" (it's not really a pit, it's more of a fire thingy....  I'm not sure what to call it).  The idea of yard work has been a lot more fun for the kids since we got our compost bin a few days ago, for some reason they think it's lots of fun to watch things decompose.  Oh, who am I kidding?  It *is* fun!

Moo hard at work.

Our pretty pile of sticks and logs that we 
cleaned up from around the fire "pit."

Obviously, the kids have gotten a lot of play time in as well...

O and Rye chasing around soccer balls.

The girls had a friend stay overnight,
so this was a good chance to get some
quality cops and robbers in.

O in Daddy's truck.

Getting all of that energy out!

Now, I know I'm going a little overboard on the pictures, but it was too gorgeous not to take tons of them! what's my favorite part of being outside?  

Robins were my favorite bird when I was a kid...
I *love* that rusty orange color on their chests.

So regal.
I think I might have to embroider one soon.

I *think* this is a downy woodpecker
please correct me if I'm wrong...
This guy (or girl, I'm not sure)
was hanging out for quite awhile
and, of course, as soon as I put the camera down
it was joined by two more!  
I didn't manage to catch all three of them together...

But I *did* get this video of the first one!
(sorry it's shaky...  and please ignore the screaming children in the background)

Of course, after all of that nice weather, today is dreary and rainy...  which I don't mind.  I'm enjoying my coffee that much more.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"...

...and I *mean* it this time!  I'm sick and tired of being overwhelmed by housework.  Not that I'm whining, but I'm fed up with being the only one that does any work around the house...  that is, unless we battle it out, in which case the kids will eventually come around after a lot of head-butting.

Well, I've had it.  I'm.  Done.

A couple of days ago, I had it up to the figurative "here" and set to work on a household chore chart.  This one is definitely not just for the kids, as I could use some help in the area of being motivated to get off my crafty butt and clean stuff up, too.

First I sat down and wrote out *every* household chore that I could think of.  Then,  I split it up based on where the work is (kitchen, bathrooms, home or laundry.  Finally, I broke it up into what has to be done when (daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly).  I put boxes next to each item, in some cases as many as five (this was in the case of laundry, which gets split up according to each child, Mom and Dad's and household) and color-coded them so the kids know exactly what their responsibilities are.  This was easy for them to grasp, given their colored laundry baskets they each chose a few months ago...

Moo is green, Rye is pink and O is blue.
This has made for easy organization
over the past few months and I can only 
assume that it will continue to help over the years.

This is what I came up with...

Keep in mind, this is only the first page -daily and weekly- my plan is to print up both pages, plus my recipes for cleaners, laminate and hang them from rings.  So I'll have a flip chart with everything right there.  Here's one that you can print for yourself if your chores are anything like my family's (I only put one box next to each task here, but feel free to copy, paste and edit to your heart's content).

On a lighter note...  my last two manicures were fun, so I wanted to share... 

This one was inspired by the vital juice purple kale manicure
that one of my friends linked to on Facebook.

...and this one was inspired by 

And, last-but-most-definitely-not-least, I made my very first apron this week!!!  It consists of four coordinating fat quarters, it took about an hour in total (well, it would have if I hadn't been running around the house mothering my children), and it's *reversible*!!!  I used this tutorial.

I like this side the best...
this fabric was the whole reason 
that I bought this particular fat quarter bundle.

...but I really am happy with both sides.
I finally have a cute apron to bake in...
Now to go make some cookies!

Yikes, I go a few days without posting and I end up having *so much* to catch up on!  Thanks for reading and please let me know if my chore chart was helpful for you/your family!  

(And, in case you didn't catch the reference in this post's title...  it's from this movie.  Check out this famous clip)

Monday, March 5, 2012

One of my family's go-to meals...

TUNA CASSEROLE!  Nom.  I don't remember where I found the original recipe that I based it off of, but over time I've made enough changes to make it my own...

My Favorite Tuna Casserole

  • two boxes of Annie's Organic Shells and Real Aged Cheddar
  • one can of cream of mushroom soup
  • two cans of tuna in water
  • two cans of mushrooms
  • one can of sweet peas
  • about a cup of shredded sharp cheddar (I like Cabot's white cheddar)
  • about a cup or so of crushed butter crackers

Preheat oven to 350*.  Make shells according to package instructions.  While pasta is cooking, drain cans into a strainer then when the pasta is done, strain it over the other ingredients (this helps to heat stuff up a little so it won't take as long to bake).  Make both packets of cheese sauce according to package instructions (use the instructions that *include* BUTTER).  Stir the cream of mushroom soup into the cheese sauce, then when it's all creamy and yummy looking, mix in all of your other ingredients that are waiting in the strainer.  Then stir in about 3/4 cups of cheese.  Transfer it all into a 9x13 baking dish, top with the rest of the cheese and sprinkle with the cracker crumbs.  Bake at 350* for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it's golden and bubbly.

Rye gives her approval!

its all about the small joys in life... coffee.  I like coffee - a lot.  Especially good coffee.  I've heard talk of cold-brewed coffee over the last couple of years, but I never realized just how insanely easy it is to make...  that is, until I watched this video last night!  Needless to say, I RAN (quite literally, actually) to my kitchen, dumped some coffee grounds and water into a glass, stirred it, covered it and left it on the counter over night.  This morning, while the kids were getting ready for school, I popped a coffee filter into a funnel and strained my coffee-mud into a glass.  I am now enjoying a vanilla "iced" latte.......  this is one of those moments when I wish that we had ice on hand, but our freezer is too full of food to be able to run the ice maker.  Eh, next time...?

As soon as I made my coffee this morning,
I prepped a jar of coffee for tonight...
Good stuff, I tell ya.

On a completely different note, I pulled my monthly goal from my inspiration jar a few days ago...  and this month's winner is, (drum roll, please)  "MAKE MOUSSAKA!"  

I'm really excited about this one!  I mean, it's really nothing special for me to try a new recipe, even if its something totally new to me (i.e. seitan, which I now *love*)...  but this one should be special for my fiance, given that he's mentioned (more than once) that he'd like for me to make it.  Plus, I hear that its kind of lasagna-esque and he swears up and down that he doesn't like lasagna...  this could help to bring him over to the dark side.  ::evil laughter::

Let's see...  what else did I want to say...?

Oh!  I finished the first of the series of embroideries that I have planned...  and I'm onto the second.  I think I'm going to wait until I've finished a few more before I start sharing pictures of them...  or maybe not, we'll see.

I went to the country this past weekend for the craft show...  which was cancelled due to bad weather.  Blech.  That was totally disappointing.  But, since I was already in the area before I found out that it was cancelled, I got to spend the day with one of my very best friends and her kiddo, which was awesome.  And lunch and the little diner down the street from her was pretty great, too.  

I'm getting the feeling that there was more that I wanted to write about today, but I can always come back and post again, right?

If you try the cold-brewed coffee, let me know what you think!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How I spent last night...

...Baking muffins!!!!  Pumpkin-pecan-raisin-flax-chocolate chip muffins, to be exact.  And, oh, what a delicious breakfast they made!
I doubled my recipe and ended up with four dozen 
small muffins...  I think next time I'll still double it, but 
fill the muffing cups up twice as much as I did this time.



½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
1 ¼ c sugar
1 ¼ c cooked, mashed pumpkin; fresh or canned
2 large eggs, room temp
1 ½ c flour
2 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
¼ t nutmeg
1 c milk
¼ c chopped pecans
½ c raisins
¼ c flax seeds (optional)
½ c semi-sweet chocolate chips


1 t cinnamon
1/4 c sugar (raw sugar looks the best, but granulated cane sugar works just fine)

  1. Cream butter and sugar, add pumpkin and mix until smooth. Add eggs and blend well.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder and spices in a separate bowl and whisk (or sift) dry ingredients together. Add flour mixture alternately with milk to pumpkin mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Fold in nuts, raisins, flax seeds and chocolate chips.
  3. Grease muffin pans with butter. Fill greased muffin pans 2/3 full and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar topping. 
  4. Bake at 400 in a preheated oven for 25 minutes or until they test done.
  5. Move to cooling rack immediately, using a small frosting spatula or butter knife to loosen muffins from pan.

Also, its Endometriosis Awareness Month!  Are you wearing your yellow???  

To learn more, go to, or check them out on Facebook at Endo Sucks!