Monday, January 30, 2012

Chicken & Egg

So I was just reading Abbey's post about the book Chicken and Egg, and I thought - hey! I wrote about that, too. But I realized as I was looking through my archives that I had written it, but for some reason never posted it. I'm not sure why? But anyway, here's a really old post about a really great book:

The last weekend in April, I got to go to such a cool event.

The author of the book Chicken and Egg was at the Bibelot on Grand Ave. doing a book signing, and she had one of her chickens with her!

She also had yummy treats made from some of the recipes in the book.

AND, best of all, I got to hold the chicken! She is a Silver Wyandotte named Coco.

This was absolutely thrilling for me! I love chickens, and I really, really want to own some. It was great talking to Janice (the author) because she's local, and so she had really great advice for owning chickens in Minnesota.

So that's all I had written in my draft. Maybe I had been planning on adding more, but now I can't think what that would have been. As Abbey says, the book is gorgeous. And you really should go check out what she made from it. Delicious!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Knit Bow Ear Warmer With Pattern/Tutorial

Last week I discovered a new-to-me blog, and completely fell in love with it. It's Rebekka's blog, Dear Friend (found via Stephmodo). Go check it out! You will not be disappointed. Rebekka writes in such a sweet way, and she has beautiful photos. In addition to that, she has started to knit, and knits up the most wonderful things. On Friday, as I was looking back through her archives, I saw this bow ear warmer that she had made:

Photo from Dear Friend, used with permission from Rebekka.

I just knew I had to have one for myself, but there was no pattern to go with it, so I made one up. I thought I would let you know how I did it, in case you would like to make one, too! (And I heard from Rebekka that so many people wanted to make it, that she's writing up a pattern for it and is hoping to post it soon. I wonder how similar our patterns will be?)

This is one of those projects that is so satisfying. As soon as I saw the photo, I looked through the yarn in my stash, and grabbed this one. Then I knit here and there over the weekend (by the fire...), and then had my guy take photos of the finished ear warmer for me on Monday. So quick and easy!

I didn't think to take photos of the process until I was almost done, but I'll do my best to explain what I did. The yarn I used is Vintage Chunky by Berroco, and the color is 6165 (if you're local, I'm pretty sure I got this at The Yarnery. I just had one skein - if I remember correctly, it was an impulse buy. I just couldn't pass up the color!).

If you want yours to turn out with a similar look, you do need a chunky yarn. Mine called for size 10 needles, but I used size 11 (when I went to grab my 10s I only found one. Not one pair, just one. And I couldn't wait to start the project, so I used 11s).

The main difference that I see between mine and Rebekka's is that I knit a decorative edge on, which you can do or not. Basically, I purled the first stitch in each row, and knit the rest. So here's what I did:

Cast on 16 stitches.
Row 1: knit 15 stitches, slip remaining loop onto needle holding previous 15 stitches.
Row 2: purl first stitch, then move yarn behind needle so it is ready to knit. Knit 14 stitches, slip final stitch onto needle.
Repeat row 2 until your desired length. You want it to have to stretch a little to go around your head. I just kept holding mine up to see if it was long enough. Once you reach desired length, cast off.
[If you don't want the edging I did, skip slipping the last stitch and purling the first, and just knit all stitches.]

I then used a tapestry needle to sew the ends together.

This is what it looked like when they were sewn together - then flip it so the seam is on the inside.

To make the bow, I just took a long length of yarn, and wrapped it around the band over and over, then sewed the ends in. Originally, I thought to wrap it around where the seam was so that it wouldn't be visible, but the seam was a little stiff and didn't gather well - but you could definitely try it on the seam and see if you have better luck!

I've never written a knitting tutorial before, so if you have any questions or if anything is unclear, let me know in the comments.

Also, if you are interested in a photo tutorial for the edging, let me know. I'm visual and learn better if I can see what I'm supposed to be doing, and I would be happy to put that together if anyone would find it useful!

Do let me know if you end up making one of your own.

Happy knitting!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu Monday: Weeks of January 2-8 and 9-15

I've been wanting to post our weekly meals on here for awhile, mostly as a way for me to keep track of what we're making, what recipes I've tried, and any changes I make to the recipe. But maybe some of you might find this useful, too, for ideas on what to make. And if you have any favorite recipes or easy weeknight dinners, feel free to post links in the comments! I'm always looking for new things to try.

Last fall I started planning out our meals by the week. Plan, make a grocery list, and shop all in one day. I don't manage to do that every week, but it sure makes dinner time easier when I do. Then I write our meals up on the chalkboard in the kitchen. Of  course, sometimes things change during the week, but for the most part we are able to follow our dinner plans.

Here's what we ate the first week of 2012.


Homemade hamburgers, salad, chips, salsa (I canned it early fall, but never wrote a post on it!), and homemade dill pickles (a Christmas gift from friends).


Oh, this was really good! It's farfalle with carbonara and peas. We both went back for more even though we were stuffed; we just wanted more of that taste! Usually we plan our meals so that we have enough left to take in for lunch at work the next day. This was not as good reheated the next day (though still delicious!). It's from this book by Jamie Oliver (the book was one of my birthday gifts from my guy).


Crockpot risotto and a salad. The recipe is from here. I have made so many of the recipes from Stephanie's website - it is such a great resource for crockpot cooking. I'm a little disappointed that this is the first recipe I'm posting from her site, because it wasn't my favorite. I thought it was a little bland. My guy, however, did not agree with that - he loved it! I'm thinking when I make it again it would be better as a side than as the main feature.


Mustard pork chops from Nigella, with boiled potatoes and a salad. My mom was out of town, so we had my dad over for dinner. I doubled the recipe, and it worked well.

When we make a salad, it is almost always the same thing. Mixed greens with olives, pepperoncini, feta, and my homemade vinaigrette (my mom's recipe). I grew up on this salad dressing and love it, and luckily my guy does, too. I don't think we could ever get sick of this salad, and we eat it a lot. But every once in awhile I shake things up and put different things in the salad.


Baked ziti with sausage and peppers (with olive bread). From SlowCooker Revolution (another birthday gift). I think this is only the second crockpot recipe I've ever made that wasn't from Stephanie's website! This was so good. I loved it in the crockpot, but I also thought as I was cooking up all the ingredients, that it would make an incredible pasta sauce just straight out of the pot without going in the crockpot. This recipe has a bit of prep, since you cook almost everything first, but it's easy and cooks quickly in the crockpot. The night I made this, I got it going and then we went to see this lovely lady talk at the Red Balloon. We walked back into the house to the most amazing smell (have I mentioned how much I love my crockpot?!).


Cabbage soup and a baguette. Another recipe from Stephanie! She says this soup is bland, but I just love it! I have made it a ton of times. It doesn't have any salt in the ingredients list, and it definitely needs some. I just add it right before eating. But it is so good, and has a spicy kick to it! She says the red pepper flakes are optional, but I think they make the whole thing. This recipe makes a lot! There's always plenty for lunch, plus I usually end up freezing some, too. This week we had the soup for dinner Sunday, as well, and I was still able to freeze some individual portions.

Monday night we both worked late, and just had leftovers (baked ziti).


Beef and mushroom stew with a baguette. I have made this recipe a lot. It was the first slow cooker recipe I ever made that wasn't from Stephanie's blog. The only change I make is that I use fresh onions instead of frozen ones. I know those little guys are a pain to peel, but I prefer that to frozen veggies. This is really good. This week I made it on a work day, but usually I prefer to get it going on the weekend and have it cook all day while we do stuff around the house. I originally planned on making this Sunday, but we did leftovers instead.


Creamy pecorino pasta and a salad. I found this recipe in a Real Simple magazine. They had an article filled with recipes with only three ingredients each. Super easy, and so delicious! When I make this in the summer I put parsley or chives from the garden on the pasta, but I can't pick anything from the garden at this time of year.


Lemon chicken, rice pilaf, and green beans. My mom taught me to make the chicken this way. Take one egg, mix it up, coat the chicken in it, then coat the chicken in a mix of flour and pepper. Cook on the stovetop. When done, add the juice and zest of one lemon. I boiled the green beans and added butter, salt, and pepper.


On Friday we got takeout from Pho 79 (vegetarian egg rolls, vegetarian fried rice, and vegetarian soup. We both eat meat - obviously - but we're pretty picky about where it comes from. In general when we eat out we go with the vegetarian options, unless we know where the meat is from).
Both my parents were out of town, so we grabbed some takeout and went over to their house to watch a movie and keep their kitty company (she gets lonely!). My grandpa was an actor, and we watched one of the old serials he was in - The Black Widow. This is one of my favorites, and it was the first time my guy watched it. It was a fun evening!
Photo courtesy IMDB.

Fennel, olive, and feta tart from Real Simple, and a salad. This was really good! We found it quite difficult to take off the baking sheet at first; it all wanted to fall apart. But when we went to put the leftovers away, it came off really easily. So something to remember for next time - I know it's hard to wait, but let it sit a little!


Twice baked potatoes from Food Coma and a salad. We used milk instead of cream, and in addition to the broccoli and cheddar cheese, we put cauliflower and green onions in, as well. This was really good and filling! We frequently have what we call a 'baked potato bar' where we bake potatoes and then set out all the toppings and add whatever we want. This is basically the same thing, but we do all the "work" of adding the toppings ahead of time, and then bake it a little longer.

Stay tuned for more menus in the coming weeks! 
(And happy Martin Luther King day!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Happy New Year... all of you!

I have run out of space on my computer for my photos, and haven't been able to put any new ones on! So, I'm working all that out and will soon (I hope!) be able to share more of what I've been up to. In the meantime, I took a photo of these sweet polar bears with my iPhone so I could share them with you (my guy's is on the left, mine is on the right). 

Remember the Penguin Party I had last year? Well, I had Becca of Duckie Uglings over again, this time to make polar bears. My birthday is on New Year's Eve, so that afternoon several friends, my guy, and I gathered to learn to sew these adorable polar bears! It was so much fun. I took a group photo of the finished softies, but I'll have to wait to share it...  

(My birthday post from last year is right here).