Monday, February 24, 2014

Little Boy Blue

Good Afternoon!?  How's life these days?  For me, it's going...  rather well, for the most part.  In my city, around this time of year, we experience all four seasons in one week.  Sometimes this will happen once or twice and then we transition into the new season.  Sometimes, the "all for seasons in a week" trend will go on for weeks.  For example, we had 3 days of snow, then 40s, 50s, 70s, and snow again.  That was just the past week... Needless to say my joints are achy and my sinuses are killing me.  But what's a girl to do, right?  My Little Darling happens to feel just fine.  Energetic as ever, which means, aside from the occasional nap to get my bearings, I need to be up and at'em, working full throttle to take care of her.  Funny how stay at home moms find this sort of superhuman strength to preserve through any ailment when it means taking good care of her babies.

So I am almost done with all the color combos for this granny square quilt pattern... and then I will stop boring you to death, I promise!!!  OK, that's silly.  I might still be a little boring, but that can't be helped!  This is a combination of colors I like to refer to as "Little Boy Blue".  I think it fits.  I am obsessed right now with making things for little boys!  They are such a mystery to me, since I am raising a little girl.

My next quilt will be featuring these colors/yarns above.  The squares will be outlined in a brown.  I am on the hunt for some interesting borders for boy items.

Right now, I am considering baking something...  I can bake almost any sort of fruit-related pastry!  Apple cakes, Lemon cheesecake, Raspberry bars, Banana bread...  So today, I figured I would share a recipe with you...  I've never done this before, so it may be the worst recipe you have ever tried to use, but I need to live a little and step up to the challenge of sharing more food adventures, since that is a passion of mine.  In the spirit of this Little Boy Blue blanket, I will share my recipe for BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

3/4 c each  - whole wheat flour & all purpose flour
1/4c - wheat germ
2 1/2 tsp - baking powder
1/2 tsp - salt

2/3 c - sugar
4 tbs - oil
3 tbs - butter (melted)
1/4c - lemon juice
2 eggs

2tsp - lemon zest
1 1/2 c - fresh blueberries

(Optional - streusel topping)
1/3 c - whole wheat flour
2tbs each - wheat germ & brown sugar
2 tbs - diced, cold butter
2/3 c - chopped walnuts

Prepare the batter:
1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. Prep your muffin tin with liners, or grease thoroughly
3. Whisk together your first 5 ingredients in a large bowl and set aside

4.  Beat the butter, oil & sugar until well mixed with a hand-held electric mixer
5. Add the eggs, lemon zest, & lemon juice; mix well

6.  Stir in the dry ingredients, mixing by hand thoroughly
7.  Add the blueberries and carefully mix by hand

When you are finished with all that mixing, your batter should look something like this:

Notice, I didn't smash any blueberries.  I feel that they maintain so much more flavor when they're not smashed prior to baking.

8.  Divide into your baking cups

9.  THIS IS OPTIONAL:  Prepare the streusel topping:

Mix all the optional ingredients together.

Use a pastry cutter to further break down the walnuts and to blend in the butter better.  If you don't bake as much as I do or if you don't hoard rarely utilized kitchen items, then just use a FORK!  It works about the same :-)

Sprinkle this mix evenly amongst the muffins and bake for about 20-25 minutes , or until a toothpick is inserted in the center and comes out clean.

.....  Because I am a Foodie, and I like to play dress up, sometimes I even play with my food....

My finished muffin in a handmade cupcake holder/decoration and some blueberry acai berry tea.  But this is just playing...  When I am ready to eat these babies for breakfast or for a mid day snack, it looks like this:


Yes, I have made myself hungry and crave sweets...  I'm about to raid my pantry and see what I can throw together for a dessert tonight.  It's going DOWN!

Happy Monday 💋 💋 💋

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sharing A Little Love

Oh goodness!  The weather here has been so much better!  A huge improvement from all the freezing temperatures and the freezing rain.  I am so happy about the warmer weather that I refuse to even accept the fact that the change in temperatures and barometric pressure is giving me headaches.  I am just happy to be able to leave my balcony door open for a while to let some air in!  Cabin Fever is so very real!

The past week has been a little hectic.  I have been busy as usual, but I am always extra busy when there is a holiday or birthday.  Last week, I had both. Valentine's Day was Friday and my dear stepmom's birthday was Saturday.  We had so much fun on both days.

I have to admit that I am always jealous of those who plan things out so perfectly.  You know who I am talking about.  The ones who plan out their holiday crafts at least a month in advance so that they are prepared to blog about it along the way.  That's the difference between someone who knows what they are doing and is a serious blogger... and yours truly, here, always blogging about things late!  Ha!  Well, I take my family time and holiday time more seriously than blogging, so around the holidays, I really am tuned into the quality time rather than finding time for editing photos and blogging.

I did do a reasonable amount of Valentine crafts this year.  More than usual.  My Little Darling and I made Valentine's for her cheerleading squad of 11 girls.  Then we made a special gift for my younger sister who is very close with my Little Darling.  And then we thought, Why stop there?  We have so many supplies left over!  And so we made little cards and gift bags for everyone in my family to be handed out at my stepmom's birthday dinner.

This is the card my Little Darling made for her Omi.  I wrote the 5 things for her, but this is her hand print and she wrote everything else on the outside and the other side of the card.  It's funny that buying a child sweets (poptarts) can be the reason they love you so much!  The small things...
This is a little felt heart that my Little Darling sewed by hand.  I did the hot glue for the embellishments and I also wrote the words in the fabric paint. My Little Darling did all the sewing and she stuffed the heart herself.  I think I need to invest more time in teaching her to sew.  She's clearly very good at it! My mother also taught me when I was very young, around 5 or so.  My Little Darling is a little older than that, so I am behind in passing on what I learned.  She was so proud of herself when she finished stitching the heart.  Nothing feels better to a mother than to see her child feel a true sense of accomplishment.
And now on to my personal projects...
Another baby quilt done in granny squares, using the same pattern as the other blanket.  I don't know why, but I have been obsessed lately with making these quilts in different colors.  Eventually, I will need to make a decision about what to do with them!  For now, I have one more in mind...  That will give me a total of 5.  Oh!  And I apologize about the odd angle!
My husband bought me carnations and roses.  I love carnations!  Those flowers last foreverrrrr!  I found the little box with the rose decorations at Goodwill for a dollar.  Such a sweet find.  I will likely be using it often in pictures because I don't know what else to do with it other than stare at it.  It's just a cute piece of art in my life right now.

Call me crazy, but I love dying flowers...  Let me be clear, dying, not DEAD!  I love the subtle wilting on the petals and the color change.  I specifically waited until I had these flowers for a week before I took pictures of them.  Don't get me wrong.  I love fresh flowers as well. They're beautiful, but there is something bittersweet, a romance of sorts, associated with flowers that are dying.
So Beautiful!!!  ... or am I crazy?
Well, right now, I am about to have some lunch.  I was quite sick a couple of weeks ago and I believe I nursed myself back to life with hot, spicy, vegetable soups and hot spiced teas...  I also managed to lose a few pounds on this diet of detox soups and teas.  With the weather changing, people are falling sick all over again.  I am determined to wash out whatever illness I come into contact with for sure!
Last night, I made a delicious vegetable soup.
All this, a sweet potato and some spices.  Very hearty.  I usually make this soup with no meat in it, but I added some sausage this time.
This is the only way I can eat chickpeas... 
And this is the end result!  I think I'll have a bowl right now.
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Warming Up This Winter

Aaaahh.... Finally getting a moment to sit and write.  Last week, I was completely out of sorts.  I was really sick all week and also really busy.  Go figure.  I think that's just the way the universe works for women some times.  When we are most in need of rest and recuperation, we find ourselves worn thin with extra duties.  Or is it in my head?  I am just recovering this week, so it could be all in my imagination.  There is a very good chance that I am just a busy person and I never notice the toll it takes on my health and well-being until I am sick.  Then, once under the weather, I feel like my normal daily chaos morphs into a cyclonic shit storm.

I am functioning at about 85% now.  I have caught up with my housework and caught up on my homeschooling plans, so now it's finally time to catch up on blogging.  I am hoping that I will eventually get back to making a few posts per week.  We'll see though...

Right now, I am trying to keep WARM!  It's been unfathomably cold here!

Last week, we had a moment of sun and I took my Little Darling out for a short walk. Don't laugh, but I was wearing a shirt over my head!  I was so sick that it literally hurt to breathe in the cold air.  I know that I looked like a total crazy person, but there was sun and I had to get out for a moment.  But it was so worth getting out.  Everything was still completely frozen.  It looked like an exhibition of nature and ice.  I had to capture it.

 All of the trees and bushes were frozen and crystallized.  It was really beautiful.  The interesting thing is that I couldn't see anything.  All of these photos were taken with my iPod, and I couldn't see anything on the screen due to the glare from all the sunshine. I just snapped away, hoping that I would be able to see something when I got home.  I think I made out pretty good.

After it was all said and done, I came home and ate some soup.  I usually prefer ice cream on a snowy day, but being sick, I figured I should just have some warm broth.


It's an "Asian-inspired" pork and vegetable soup.  It has notes of curry, and is also laced with Chinese Five spices.  The veggies: carrots, onions, fresh garlic, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower.  There was some pork in it, but I guess you could use chicken, beef, shrimp.  All of those.  None of those.  It's one of the best soups I've ever made.  And it was so spicy, it cleared my sinuses.  So delicious, healthy, low calorie/fat and filling.  I never talk much about it on this blog, but I really love to cook and bake, so there will be more and more about food in addition to my crafty adventures.  Bear with me and keep in mind, as much as I enjoy an audience, this is also a sort of journal for me...

Now, on to the craft-life.  In my last post, I was working on a granny square quilt for a little boy.  Well, I finished it the other day.  I got this crazy spurt of energy and put all the squares together.

I had a hard time capturing the whole blanket, but this is the basic pattern.  This is the third blanket I made using this pattern.  I made two other ones, and I have two more in mind, using different colors for all of them.  In due time, I will show them here.  They are meant to be baby sets.  I am feeling inspired, so I am just totally going with it!

I have used this style of granny for other blankets.  I usually make each round in a different color, but I wanted to see what they would look like in a single color.  I was obsessed with granny squares for a long time and I had learned several patterns to make them.

...... And then I got my hands on this teddy bear!  Let's call him Lord Ricochet.

 He's soft, cuddly, and loads of fun.  I love his sense style, and he loves my baby boy quilt.

Lord Ricochet has fun playing in blankets!
Have a great week!  Hopefully, I'll get another chance to come back and share another blanket I've finished with this design.  Looking forward to another encounter :-)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Trying Something New...

Hello, Hello!

I am trying to keep warm on this freezing Tuesday.

I keep meaning to blog more often, but I always keep coming up with excuses.  It's too cold to blog.  I'm too tired to blog.  I'm too hungry.  The kids are crazy today.  I have housework...  Well all of that holds true today:  It's a wintery hot mess outside.  It's lunch time and I have yet to begin preparing anything to consume.  I'm definitely too tired, as I am battling a sinus infection.  For someone who marathons all day, doing housework, I never seem to find an end to the pile of things to do around the house!  And yes, my Little Darling has a semi-permanent playmate, Little K, whom I babysit several times per week.  They are absolutely wild together.  I love it, but it's hard to tune out the distraction and focus on a blog post.

Today, I threw away the excuses and just decided to make something happen.  This blog is important to me.  It's a single spot, a safe spot, where I can chronicle my projects (the mishaps and the wins), and where I can journal for a brief moment.  I like to share, but I am often too busy to make time for such.  This is how I share and record.  I feel a little lost without blogging sometimes.  Guilty, even.  Like I am cheating on my blog with.... domestic life.

Well, I am back now.  The plan is to make an effort to remember what makes me smile (writing and sharing pictures) and to create time for that on a more consistent and regular basis.  My other plan is to avoid turning into a human popsicle.

Lately, I have planned and been working on several projects.  I have been hooking away, and I have been doing some... er-hem... sewing.  Hand sewing.  My sewing machine still intimidates the hell out of me, but I am going to conquer that territory as well one day.

I have been thinking a lot about habits, and I decided I needed to break one of mine.  I am ALWAYS coming up with really cute ideas and projects for little girls.  I love little girls clothes and toys, although, yes, I find some of the toys to be gender biased and offensive.  But I think I should try to make things for boys...  I want to open that creative spot in my mind, which, until recently, was filled with notions of Tonka trucks... frogs... bugs... drool?  Who knows!  Honestly, I only have one female child.  I never worry about creating things for little boys.  I think that sucks!  I hate that I can't even find something within the depths of my reasonably creative mind to design a project for a little boy.

And with that frustration, I did the only thing I know how to do when I come to a mental road block in terms of creativity.  I decided to WORK through it.  I immediately started on a set of blankets for little boys.  As of now, my mind still works in "Girlie Girl Mode", meaning I create something for a little girl and then "translate" it into something for a boy.  I think that worked well for me on this project, but this is just the beginning. I think boys are hilarious, energetic, fun, and wild.  I hope to work those sentiments into some interesting tangible projects, but until then, take a peak at what I have in the works for now...

I had been doing so many African Flowers lately.  I am in LOVE with hexagons!  I don't know why, but they're adorable.  So, for this, I went back to granny squares.  Single colored blocks.  Something simple.

I am sure that there is an art to taking pictures of colors, to make them show true.  I just have not managed to master this art!  I found this Bernat "Little Boy Blue" multi-colored yarn, which sort of kicked off my inspiration.  Then, I paired it with (a totally different kind of yarn) Caron Simply Soft in Soft Blue, Off White, and Cypress.  I have finished all the squares.  I just need to piece everything together.

I am hoping to turn this into a little set...  maybe with a hat?  A sweater?  Or should I try my hand at crocheting a teddy bear?   Ok, I don't know about that last one!  I don't have the patience at all to create amigurumi!

Until next time...  Stay Warm. Stay Happy!