Monday, December 31, 2012

10,000 in 2012!

If you look on the sidebar to the right, you will see that I added some new widgets. These are my yardage calculators I use and I got them from You should go check them out- its a great way to keep track of your projects and total yardage used.

If you look my Knitting Knit Meter is at 9983 yards for this year. That's a lot! I was bummed that I missed the 10,000 mark by so little though. Then I realized that a few of my projects had been crochet! I made a new widget for the crochet items, and I'm happy to announce that I knit and crochet 10,806 yards this year! I'm really proud of that.

My last FO for 2012 was this little clutter control basket I crocheted. I wanted a quick small project and this used up some dish cloth cotton leftovers, so win-win!

It looks a little crazy with the four different colors, but it works to hold all my little notes that usually clutter the coffee table. Its a free pattern, so if you need a basket to hold your goods, check it out!

Tonight we are off to a friends house for a small, casual New Years celebration. I knew I wanted to make some dips to munch at all night, and I think I have settled on Chicken Wing dip (a fav of the hubs) and crab dip. For ease of transport, I am using a crock pot recipe for the Chicken Wing dip. The crab dip, however, is going to be of my own invention. The hubs said that I should start making my own recipes, and I decided that he is right. I cook and bake enough that I am always modifying recipes anyway, I might as well make my own and share them with you! Stay tuned for the recipe- hopefully its good!

Lastly, I finished a book today! My reading had slowed a lot as I was finishing school, but I did manage to meet my Goodreads goal of 32 books since April. The book was Iced by Carol Higgins Clark. I started her Regan Reilly series a few years ago, and when I am at a lull with other books or series I grab the next one :) The Goodreads widget was the other new addition to the sidebar. If you're a reader, check Goodreads out! And if you are already a member, friend me. I love getting new ideas of books to read!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I just wanna eat sweets...

Darn all those treats I've been snacking on for the past two weeks. They've ruined me for real food! I have no desire to put the energy into finding real food to combine into real meals- I just want to find a big tin of cookies, or a platter of brownies, or a big piece of whatever-you've-got-there, and just fall in.

But hey, this is a real world, and we cannot survive on sugar alone. Since the weather is actually deciding to be winter out there and I don't feel like venturing to the store, I'm trying to find recipes that use what we already have in the pantry, freezer, and fridge. Every once in a while I think it is important to deny yourself a shopping trip for a week and search out those forgotten about items that lurk in your freezer or pantry. You might end up with some odd combinations, but sometimes you discover a great new favorite!

Here are a couple things I have come across that I am considering:

If you have stuff on hand for regular pancakes, chances are you can whip up this fancier version! These would make a great lazy weekend breakfast or a fun dinner.

I feel like these would be great to use up extra meat and veggies from other meals. You could even use leftover fried rice for an asian flair!

We have some pork in the freezer and this just looks yummy. Serves with some rice and a vegetable, you've got a good looking meal there!

I've had a beef pot roast in my freezer for a few months now, and I think this might just be the recipe for it!

What do you make when you can't make it to the grocery store?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wrapping Up

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas (or whatever you celebrate this time of year). Our was nice and low key, but it seemed to be kind of uneventful. The hubs and I were just saying it was hard to believe Christmas was over, because we really didn't have anything big or exciting happen. Oh well. 2012 has been kind of a blah year over all, and I for one am ready to move into 2013!

Here are a couple photos to show some of the things we have been up to:

It just so happened that my last day of school was December 21st, which is also my mom's birthday. We planned to drive to school, drop off my finals, do a bit of grocery and Christmas shopping, and have lunch. This picture is of the Upper Crust, a cute little bakery/coffee house in downtown Fredonia, NY. This was mom's choice for lunch, and they serve up some monstrous sandwiches! Little did she know that this wasn't her real birthday celebration- we got 10 of her closest friends together and surprised her with a little party. It was so much fun!

Working away on finals until the 21st didn't leave a whole lot of time for Christmas decorating, but we did manage to get a tree, put it up with minimal decorations, and put up a few other small things. The one thing we could NOT forget was Diesel's sweater.
Our dog is odd- he LOVES wearing sweaters. We have a hard time finding sweaters that will fit him though. He has a really broad chest for his size, so they are always really tight there and big everywhere else. One of my goals for 2013 is to knit him a sweater that fits :)

Speaking of our tree, I haven't gotten a picture of it all decorated (which this year was lights only) but here is a shot of it after we got it into the house.

It was a really nicely shaped tree, and we have such a large living room that we usually get pretty big trees :) If I think of it I will try to post a picture of it with the lights on :)

I finished off a few projects in between everything else going on. I was asked by a friend and her mom if I would knit a shawl for them to give to their grandma/mom for Christmas. I was a little nervous, as this was a big lace shawl, but it ended up going pretty well. The only issue I ran into was that the pattern and the key weren;t very clearly written, but then again I'm not an experienced lace knitting, so it may have just been me.
This used about 700 yards of yarn and blocked to over 5 feet wide! I hope they like the result and the recipient gets lost of use out of it.

The last thing I finished was a hat for the hubs. I planned on finishing this shawl a day earlier than I did, so the last minute hat I had planned to give to hubs for Christmas didn't get finished until later Christmas day. He didn't mind though, and it turned out great.

This is not a great photo, but the hat is really cool. I did a provisional cast on with a seamless turned hem to make the bottom of the hat two layers. This should make it really warm around his ears. Then it was some stripes and my usual decrease for the top. I thought about writing up the pattern, but its really nothing special. Maybe I'll write it up as a free pattern. We'll see ;)

I hope to be back to a more regular blogging schedule and might try to do regular days like Friday Pinterest finds or something like that. Until then- enjoy the rest of 2012!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Weekly Pinterest Finds

Since all I seem to be able to talk about this week is Pinterest, I thought I would round out the week with my Pinterest finds :)

Don't these just look (and sound) amazing? I have all the ingredients on hand, so they might make an appearance soon :)

I informed my husband that I want a pantry like this one when we live in our dream house :)

If every other pin on this post is dessert, would you guys mind? These Peanut Butter Cup Brownies look delectable. 

I'm switching up my weekly menu and having soup tonight instead of tomorrow (I forgot to thaw pork for what was supposed to be tonight's dinner!) I'm really excited about this, its going in the crock pot as soon as I'm done writing this post.

I love how elegant this style looks and how easy it is to do!

Peppermint Bark Brownies. YUM. So festive!

The hubs and I are a big fan of ceilings like this. I especially love it in the kitchen!

We also both like the wall at the far end of this room with the fireplace and TV between the bookcases.

I thought these would make a cute DIY Christmas gift!

You can always find me on Pinterest to get a closer look at anything I mentioned, or leave a comment.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How I Plan What to Eat

I thought it would be fun to talk about how I make up my menus for the week. I'm not pretending to be super organized or to have the best taste in recipes in the world. My husband is a little bit of a picky eater, and I have a few things I don't like, so there are definite gaps in our recipe repertoire. I also don't use coupons regularly, so if you have the time and inclination to do that your menu planning will look different from mine.

All that said, my menu planning takes less than twenty minutes a week, and it takes me 5 minutes to make out a grocery list for whenever I find myself running an errand near a store. Right now this is what works for our crazy schedule, and we haven't starved yet :)

First and foremost, Pinterest is a big part of my planning. I get emails from a bunch of places and follow a lot of blogs, but I used to forget a lot of what I wanted to try because I didn't have a good way to organize everything. With Pinterest I can pin anything and categorize it how it makes sense for me. I have two food related boards; Food to Try and Recipe Wins! (For anyone not familiar with Pinterest, you use "boards" to separate all your pins, and you can name them whatever makes sense for you) When I go to decide what to make for the week, I browse through my Food to Try board. 90% of the time I find my meals there.

I have certain criteria for my meals. Monday - Thursday, they have to be quick or have parts that can be made ahead. Often we aren't home until 8pm, and I don't want to wait on a recipe that takes an hour from start to finish. The weekend, however, is when I made the more involved recipes and often do some baking. Also, I try to check store ads to see if they have things on sale. I scored a good deal on chicken a week or two ago, and now I have several chicken breasts in the freezer waiting on some godo chicken recipes (Lightened Up Chicken Enchiladas anyone?) Since I don't have time to devote to cutting and using coupons, this is one way I try to keep our grocery bills down.

Next I blog about it. This is the part you guys see! Blogging about my weekly menu keeps me organized and gives me an easy place to refer to. Plus I love when other people share their recipes, so I hope you guys are able to find a few things you want to try via my posts.

Lastly, I make a grocery list. Usually I shop on Wednesdays because I am already out near a grocery store, but sometimes I make quick trips Mondays and Fridays also. Lists are easy because I can refer to my blog, follow the links, and write down anything I don't already have at home. Add that to the list on the fridge we use for staples (coffee, dog food, paper towels, etc) and my list is complete.

An optional step (which I have been bad about lately!) is blogging about the recipe after its been made and tried. I need to get back in the habit of this! Pinterest also helps out here, because any recipe we try that we like goes from the Food to Try board to the Recipe Wins! board. This way I know we like it and if I can't find anything interesting new to try (like that will happen) or we are just feeling an old favorite, they are all in one place.

Hope this doesn't bore you to death!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

This Week's Chow

This week actually started off well food wise. Since I didn't get around to making my Lightened Up Chicken Enchiladas that I planned for last week, I made them last night. Friday ended up being a little crazy, and it would have been a really late dinner if we had waited for the chicken enchiladas (we ended up having salad with chicken breast strips instead!) It turns out the enchiladas were worth the wait though- my husband LOVED them!

Monday: Lightened Up Chicken Enchiladas
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Mini BBQ Cheddar Meatloves
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Cajun Pork with rice?
Saturday: Super Easy Crock Pot Broccoli and Cheese Soup with Bread
Sunday: leftovers

I never did get around to the Breakfast Casserole from last Friday either, though that was by choice. I woke up and was all ready to start it in the crock pot when I realized that this recipe was made for way more than 2 people, and I wasn't sure how great eggs and all the other ingredients would be reheated for four days while we tried to finish the leftovers. I think this recipe is best left until we have company :)

Wanna follow me on Pinterest? :)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Help a Friend Out :)

This is my brother-in-law's Kickstarter campaign. Its a really cool concept, and if you like sci-fy or fantasy, this will be right up your alley. Go check it out, and if you are willing please donate a little to help him meet his goal. If he doesn't hit his goal amount he doesn't get any of the funding, which would be a shame for all the hard work he has put into it. If you like what you see, share the link with your friends!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Meals for the (rest of the) Week

Well, normally it would make sense to do these posts on a Sunday or Monday, but time got away from me and we ended up having leftovers to eat up yesterday anyway. (This may or may not have been due to the fact that I still have a cold and we ordered out on Sunday. Shhhhh). Anyway, here's the plan for the week:

Tuesday: Fried rice (a staple in our house- aka use up veggies!)
Wednesday: Meatball pizza and salads (no recipe, just winging it)
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: special breakfast: Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole (this was the one recipe we didn't get to during my birthday week, and I want to try it!)

Dinner: Lightened Up Chicken Enchiladas (which might become pork enchiladas, since that's what is already in the freezer)
What are you eating this week?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Cure for the Common Cold... aka Pinterest Finds

I managed to catch a cold at the beginning of the weekend, and since yesterday was busy and I didn't really have time not to be busy, today is all about getting rid of this thing :) On the agenda: water, tissues, tea, Podcasts, Harry Potter, and whatever food that sounds appealing and doesn't take long to make. Also? Pinterest :)

Egg Benedict Bake- I think this would be great for a brunch with friends!

I really want to do some sort of cute printable gift tags this year.

I've never heard of pudding cookies, but these look good!

Mmmmm. Still on the look out for good pumpkin recipes :)

Love this idea!

Mmmm these appeal to my cold-stuffed self right now. I have some of the stuff, perhaps the hubs will go shopping for me???

And two funny ones to finish off the post:
We don't have any stuffed heads on our walls, but I feel like if we did, the cat would be ALL over this!

This sorta sums up my attitude toward school right now :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Finishing up

The title of this post sums up a lot right now- I finished up a knitting project, I am finishing up the semester at school, and as we enter December we are finishing up 2012. Its a crazy time of year, not really because of the holiday preparation, but because of finals. I'll get through though and then I have a bit of time to myself before launching back into school.

I mentioned a finished knitting project, didn't I? Here it is!

I LOVE the way this Daybreak came out! The colors aren't my normal favorites, but I love this shawl just the same. It took me less then a month to knit and I could have knit it faster if I didn't pace myself to also work on other projects. This is knit out of Malabrigo sock in the Impressionist Sky and Turner colorways. Once blocked I think this will be worn ALL THE TIME.

That's about all I've got unless you want to talk Victorian Literature or Critical Theory :) The posts might be few and far between for the next two weeks, but after that I plan to be much more present here on the blog!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Birthday Week Recap

Well, birthday week is coming to a close. Almost all my Pinterest recipes have been made now and most were a success! The Butternut Squash mac and cheese was good, but I think I was a little light in the butternut squash. The hubs didn't really appreciate the onions either. He didn't notice them too much the first night we had them, but apparently eating leftovers reheated made them more noticeable. Darn, I'll just have to finish the pan myself ;)

Yesterday we tried the Buffalo Chicken rolls and the hasselback potatoes. The potatoes were good, but we were not big fans of the rolls! Its weird, we both like that buffalo chicken flavor, but the hubs was not a fan of the broccoli slaw in there, and we both thought the blue cheese overpowered everything else (even the hot sauce!), though I didn't add much to each roll. I still have some of the chicken mixture and wrappers left, so I may try just the chicken in there. We'll see :)

Our Thanksgiving day was great- very relaxed, and only one meal to go to since my in-laws went to my parents house for dinner. I love that our families are close enough to do that :)

I've also been knitting a lot during my break! I finished the hat I was working on:
And I think my brother will love it!

I also started a new project:
A baby sweater for my friend's baby for Christmas. He is my little buddy and I think these colors will look great on him! I'm actually quite a bit further along than this now, as this has gotten most of my attention over the past day or two.

After I finish the sweater I am going to focus on my Daybreak shawl, since it is more than half done and I wil be taking on a commission shawl to knit for a friend's grandmother for Christmas. I figure, I'm almost done with my Christmas knitting, so I thought I would help them out. Also I really want to finish the Daybreak so that I can keep my WIP count around three. I think that is really the best number for me, so I want to try it for a while.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Braves Hat

The knitting hasn't been what I had hoped since I finally turned in my paper last week. There is one project that has gotten a lot of love, however. It is a Christmas gift for my brother, the eternal wearer of the Atlanta Braves baseball cap. This guy wears this thing everywhere. He has had several of them, as they are retired or lost they NEED to be replaced. I decided this year he needed a winter version, and took it upon myself to make it up and knit it for him. Here's my progress so far:

Don't mind the random on-the-lap picture :)

The other project that has gotten some love is my socks:

I think I have another inch or two before I can start decreasing. These only really get worked on when I am out and about, so they're going slow.

Last night we had the Barbecue Grilled Cheese that I posted about yesterday, and it was a success! The hubs and I both liked it, with some mods for taste preferences :) The hubs had a more plain sandwich, but mine was loaded with the good stuff.

Mmmm. And here's a shot of it cut so you can really see what is inside:

Mine had guacamole (because all the avocados in the store were gross looking), bacon, colby jack cheese, tomato, green onion, and barbecue sauce. I'm not sure this is something we will go out of our way to make again, but it was a nice change up from the usual, and it is a good reminder to change up some more ordinary recipes :)

Lastly, my brother-in-law just launched a Kickstarter campaign, which you can find here. His story is really good, so if you like Sci-Fy/Supernatural stuff at all, go check it out!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Menu Planning

This week's menu planning looks a little different because not only is it Thanksgiving this Thursday, its also Birthday week! My birthday falls the day before Thanksgiving this year (always fun) so I pretty much take over the week to make whatever I want, regardless of budget or taste preferences of anyone else who might be eating with me (namely the hubs. sorry!) So far no one has complained, and this is one of my favorite ways to celebrate my birthday. 

The plan:
Monday: skip breakfast, make stove top for lunch (what!? yes, this happened) and make Barbecue style grilled cheese for dinner
I'm really looking forward to the salty crunch of the bacon, the sweet juiciness from the tomatoes, and the creaminess of the avocado. Oh, and cheese. Yeah :)

I also think I need to make more of these,
which are peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with sea salt, because they are the best cookies I have eaten since the last batch of cookies I made, and the ones from yesterday are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Tuesday: Breakfast and lunch will probably be boring, and to be honest I'm not sure what we are going to do for dinner. I might try to put this together in steps throughout the day so that when we both get home around 8pm we can dive into cheesy goodness.
This is butternut squash mac and cheese with bacon. Sounds good, but we shall see!

Wednesday: BIRTHDAY DAY!
Of course having the day off will result in lots of yummy food, as well as plenty of knitting, relaxing, and maybe even a Harry Potter marathon. 
Breakfast shall consist of this

Lunch will probably be leftovers (or the actual making of) the butternut squash mac and cheese. YUM

Dinner will be eaten out at a location yet to be determined, and shall be accompanied by a movie of my choosing. 

Thursday: TURKEY DAY!
This year the hub's parents are coming to my parent's house for dinner, so we only have to attend one dinner, which is great. Most years we do both, which just makes for a rushed (and filling) Thanksgiving. I'm contributing the desserts for the occasion, and on the dockett is lemon bars and apple crumble. We will probably eat leftover breakfast casserole, then snack on Turkey day food all day long at my parents.

Friday: I plan to stay as far away as possible from any retail locations, so it will probably be a quiet day at home. The hubs and I discussed putting up Christmas decorations outside as we are still having decent weather, especially for November! And nothing goes with Christmas decorating like Buffalo chicken roll-ups for lunch :)

Dinner will probably be some cut of pork from the freezer and this neat little potato recipe I found today:
I might change up the flavors a little, but I love this idea!

There's my menu planning for the week, Birthday and Thanksgiving edition. Watch for a knitting progress post; with all this relaxing time I hope to get a lot done!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pinterest Invades

I have been on Pinterest for a while, but recently I have been on there a lot. Usually I just pin food (and more food, and more food) but I've been trying to branch out and look at other categories as well. Here are a few things I found this week:

So funny! I want to do this in the front yard when we get snow :)

I love the mix of white with the dark wood in this kitchen.

This bacon horseradish dip might be made soon! I'm really into appetizer recipes right now :)

I think these would be great for a snack or as part of a low key snacky meal. 

We don't have a way to display our Christmas cards yet- maybe I will get crafty and make one of these?

Usually I'm not much of a squash fan, but this butternut squash mac and cheese sounds and looks delicious!

I hope you enjoyed checking out a few of my pins for this week. Go find me on Pinterest! All these things are pinned there and I'm always looking for more people to follow. I may try to do this type of post weekly- Its fun to revisit the stuff I found earlier in the week!