Growing up I was never fond of just eating an apple and would always prefer any other type of fruit. As an adult I never gave apples a second glance until I was pregnant. For a while there I couldn't get enough peanut butter (one of my all-time favorite foods anyway) and I was craving peanut butter with apples so for the first time in years I was paying attention to those little red globes in the produce aisle. I once worked with a stage manager who loved fuji apples and a childhood friend of mine liked Macintosh apples so I decided to start there. Since then I've tried just about every variety just to see the differences. So why did I reject apples as a child? Because the only variety of apples my mother ever bought was Red Delicious. Those things are bitter, mealy, and pretty much devoid of any apple flavor. (It's ironic that the Red Delicious is Jeff's nickname for me).
My favorite apple is the honeycrisp followed by the fuji and gala but while at the grocery store earlier this week there was a display for a variety I'd never heard of. It was called the Kiku Apple. There was a sign stating that it was discovered in Japan and perfected in Italy with a very sweet flavor. In researching it online, it looks like it originated from the Fuji apple. One made it's way into my cart and Simon and I had some for breakfast this morning. Definitely one of my favorites!
to design a simple yet functional yarn swift. And it is my newest knitting accessory thanks to my husband's smart gift of a knitting fund to spend how I choose.
I still haven't purchased a ball winder since I've read conflicting reviews. If there are any knitterly types who can recommend one, I'd love to hear from you. Instead, I decided to wind my own center-pull ball, following the instructions I found from Jason over at Knits With Balls.
I can't believe it. I missed it. It totally slipped my mind until the wee hours of the night last night that I meant to go to The Winking Lizard on Tuesday for cheeseburger soup. I'm a fan of soups and they make some of the best I've ever had. My 2 favorites are their cheeseburger and chicken paprikash soups. They have a monthly soup menu - which unfortunately isn't online for some reason - and I try to always have one on hand so I know when my 2 favorites are being served. I'd never heard of cheeseburger soup until I started frequenting the Lizard, but that stuff is super yummy. And since I missed it this month, it's time I scoured the internets to find a recipe for it and make it myself since 20+ days is just too long to wait to get my cheeseburger soup fix.
Now let's hope I can get Simon to wear them! The cuff is a bit long so it can fit over or under his coat sleeves or just be folded up. We'll have to see what works best for him. Now I think he'll need a matching hat...
Startitis is a well-known ailment in the knitting world and it often occurs in January when the flurry of holiday knitting is done and you need a new project... or 2... or 3... or - you get the idea. I've never been one to have numerous projects on the needles, just like I can't read more than one book at a time. I need to focus my energies on 1 project until it's done and then move on to the next one. Very rarely have I ever had more than 2 projects at the same time. Until now. I currently have 4 projects that I'm juggling and contemplating casting on a 5th project. I don't know what's gotten into me but a weekend trip to the yarn store didn't help. Here is how I'm justifying my projects:
1. Simon's cot blanket - it's basically done except for the border on the top & bottom. I did the bottom border but it's too tight and is causing the blanket to pucker so I need to rip it out and redo it. I don't look forward to doing this which is why I keep avoiding eye contact with it so maybe it won't notice that I'm not working on it.
2. My fair-isle beret - I'm 75% finished with it and I'm up to the row where I'll be starting the crown decreases. It's fun & interesting to knit, but given the slippery yarn, following a chart, and the need to concentrate, it's not the easiest project to just pick up and work on for a few minutes. It also wasn't an easy "knit in the car" project which is why I needed to start the next project.
3. My waffle pattern socks turned wristlets - I decided to start this pair of socks so I'd have something easy to knit on our trip to Castaway Bay a few weekends ago. As I was working on the leg I slipped it on and decided it was just a bit too bulky for my tastes and thought the color coordinated well with a coat I got in North Carolina so I've decided to make them into wristlets instead. Just haven't dug out the pattern to finish them.
4. Simon's mittens - while at the yarn shop I was eyeing some Cascade 220 Superwash wool in a pretty navy color and decided that it's time that Simon has some mittens that might actually stay on. He's only worn his fleece ones once when we tried sledding in the backyard. They're very short & cut off right at the wrists and have one small piece of elastic. The cuff of his coat basically pushes them off his little hands. So I decided to make him a pair with a longish cuff that can either be tucked inside his coat sleeves or even put over the top of them and they should stay put. One is already done and in trying it on, it fits like a glove, well, mitten. It fits and his little thumb actually stays in the thumb hole. I'm about 25% done with the second mitten.
Call me crazy but I'm also seriously considering casting on for another project. Luckily this one is going to take a bit of research to find the right pattern and BEADS. I'm going to finally enter the world of beaded knitting. While at the yarn shop, I kept going back to a beautiful skein of MadelineTosh sock yarn. It's a pink colorway called Lepidoptra. I'm not a bright pink fan. I tend to be drawn to deep reds, burnt oranges, and brilliant blues. But I couldn't resist this yarn. The twist is just gorgeous and it's going to make a wonderful scarf with beadwork on the ends. Now I just have to find the perfect pattern and the beads that will go with it.
[The actual yarn isn't quite this pink; the flash on the camera really made it pop]
There's no denying that I like being in the kitchen and this weekend produced some new dishes for me. I'd recently been introduced to the wonderful world of steel cut oats and had been looking for interesting recipes on Pinterest. I love pumpkin and found several variations of pumpkin oatmeal but one piqued my curiosity since it was done in a slow cooker overnight. I decided to try it Saturday night so that I could have a hot bowl of cereal when I woke up Sunday morning. It was pretty good and I especially liked the use of coconut milk but I think it actually had a bit too much pumpkin so if I were to make it again, I'd tweak the recipe a bit.
Sunday, after Jeff left for his business trip and Simon was down for his afternoon nap I decided to make a dumpling soup that I saw on The Chew. I only made one change to the recipe and that was substituting roasted chicken stock for the vegetable broth. Since I had made all that stock a few weeks ago, it was only logical that I use some of it. The soup had a really good flavor and I loved using the apple cider to deglaze the pan - it really added depth to the entire dish. I will definitely make this dish again and probably add some different veggies for variety. Maybe some white beans instead of chickpeas, some zucchini, parsnip, even some kale or spinach. One thing that I will change - make only 1/2 the amount of the dumpling dough and make the dumplings much smaller. Very tasty though!!
Around dinnertime this evening I had an unusual meltdown while Simon was protesting the dinner selection. I was so frustrated that Simon didn't want what was on his plate that I compulsively started to pull everything out of the pantry and started to reorganize it.
One of the biggest challenges for me as a parent is not always being in control of a situation. Mealtime is a perfect example. I know that a toddler won't starve himself, that it is my job to provide him with healthy food choices but it is up to him to choose to eat it but it is so hard for me! Tonight I just couldn't take it so I needed to put myself into a situation that I could control and for me it was the pantry and the fridge. Jeff knows that when I get like this that there is something else going on than just cleaning. The look he gave me as I started pulling all the boxes and canisters out said it all. When I start to feel like life is getting out of control, I need to do something to ground me. I guess that's organizing my house. Knitting also helps but I can only do that once Simon's in bed.
I'm sure it's a combination of a lot of things - my concerns about Simon's rate of development, his recent eating habits, Jeff heading out of town in a few days & starting a new job, and just a feeling of isolation. It didn't dawn on me until after my kitchen frenzy that I've been doing it all week. I've reorganized Simon's closet, the linen closet, under the bathroom sinks, the medicine cabinet, part of my bedroom closet, under the kitchen sink, the kitchen junk drawer, and even rearranged our kitchen table. Lucky for Jeff I can't really rearrange any of the furniture otherwise he'd be in trouble! In my old house, I used to completely change around the livingroom furniture all the time! So until I start to feel a bit more in control I'll continue to organize things throughout the house. The spices really need to be organized better anyway.
My friend Rocco is a new parent and his son is now 3 months old. I never got to know his wife but through the wonderful world of facebook and a shared post from Rocco I discovered her blog. I've never seen such a refreshing look at motherhood before and I've really enjoyed reading her posts. Here is an article that she mentioned about the whole "enjoy every moment of parenthood" mentality. It made me feel a little less guilty when I've looked at the clock at 3 in the afternoon, wondering if it was Simon's bedtime yet. Check it out.
I must have started this post at least 10 times. Maybe a better title would have been "Struggling as a Parent." I'm struggling to come up with a list of words that Simon has mastered so when the doctors ask me tomorrow I can give them a number. Unfortunately, I can't even come up with ten words. Simon is 22 months old and still not talking.
Last month he went for an initial evaluation to make sure that there wasn't anything physically wrong with his ears and to undergo a hearing test. Unfortunately Simon wasn't very cooperative (like most one & a half year olds) and they couldn't get a conclusive result so tomorrow he goes in for a VRA hearing test. As a parent I'm very conflicted about this test - what if they find something wrong? Or worse, what if they don't? I don't want them to find anything wrong, but at least if they do it might explain why Simon is struggling to use words. He was getting speech therapy when we lived in Washington but the system here in Ohio has required us to jump through more hoops and Simon is currently on a waiting list to receive therapy. In the last few weeks Simon has really started babbling up a storm and therapy would be so beneficial right now.
Now I'm going to struggle to sleep and hope for the best.
On an impulse yesterday, I stopped at a couple of thrift stores in an effort to find the perfect lamps at a reasonable cost for our living room. We basically had to go through all of the departments since the furniture & lamps were at the back of the store. Even though I didn't find any lamps (not that I truly expected to) I did stumble upon a beautiful 10 inch hurricane vase for a whopping 90 cents. Also by chance I saw a pair of winter boots for Simon that hardly look worn. Got those for $1.99. Cha-ching!
Got a rotisserie chicken at the store the other day and since Jeff and I don't really eat dark meat I decided to use the rest to make some homemade chicken stock. To quote Campbell's... Mmmm, mmmm, good!
That stands for "Work in Progress" for you non-knitterly people. Henceforth these will truly be wordless!
I've always liked crab cakes but was never ambitious enough to try making them at home. A few years ago I signed up to be a recipe tester for America's Test Kitchen and this past summer they sent me a recipe to test salmon cakes. Salmon Cakes!! Why had I never thought to try these? Salmon is one of my favorite fishes. Actually, I don't think I've met a fish that I hadn't liked. So I tested the recipe and sent them my feedback. Since that time, I've made several tweaks to it and it's one of my favorite things to make. And easy too! Since I'm the only one to eat salmon in our house, I modified it so it would be a small batch.
Yummy Salmon Cakes
2 Tbps + 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 scallion, sliced thin
1/2 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 tsp minced fresh dill
1-2 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 - 1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 skinless salmon fillet (about 9 oz.)
Combine 2 Tbsp panko, scallion, shallot, parsley, dill, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt, & pepper in a bowl.
Cut the salmon into 1/4 inch pieces and add to panko mixture.
Form mixture into 4 cakes.
Place remaining panko into a shallow dish and coat the salmon cakes in the breadcrumbs.
Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until shimmering.
Place salmon cakes into skillet and cook without moving until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Gently flip cakes and cook until other side until golden, another 2 minutes or so.
Remove cakes from pan onto paper towels to remove any excess oil.
For my wedding I had gel nails put on and I absolutely loved how long they lasted. I've always hated the look of acrylic nails (never tried them either) and a regular manicure never lasted me more than a day. My hands are constantly in water and I'm just too rough on my nails.
For Christmas I wanted to get my nails done - something I've rarely done since Simon was born. I splurged and got a shellac manicure so that it would last the entire time we were in North Carolina. This manicure made me realize 2 things:
1. Since I'm a stay-at-home mom and rarely dress up I just don't feel that feminine anymore. (My fondness for comfy jammy pants doesn't help with this feeling ). But having pretty nails really boosted my own sense of femininity without having to wear high heels (besides the fact that I don't think I could pull off the look of jammy pants with stilettos... )
2. I can totally do my own shellac manicures at home without having to spend $30+ each time. It's just going to take the right supplies and some practice. After some internet research I decided that I was going to get all the necessary supplies as a birthday present to myself.
There are basically only 2 brands of cured nail products on the market - CND Shellac (the more well-known brand) and Harmony Gelish. I decided to go with the Gelish line since it was a little more economical and that's what was used on my holiday manicure and it seemed to last just fine.
I did my first manicure last night and it turned out well. I'm really pleased with the color I chose, Rose Garden. I'm going to need to practice a little more to seal the edges of my nails without getting it on my skin. I think it will be easier when my nails are a little longer. Now the test is to see how many days I can get out of this manicure!
Shrimp is one of my favorite foods to eat, yet I've never cooked it at home. Why? I have no idea. I've cooked fish for years and people say that fish is hard/more delicate to cook (which is true) but for some reason I was always hesitant to cook shrimp. I decided it was way past time that I made it at home and bought some at the market the other day.
Now having not made it at home before, you'd think that I'd be diligent and follow a recipe. Now what would the fun in that be? I saw a few recipe variations on the web and just decided to concoct my own. I'm happy to say that it turned out well. I intended to eat it with some homemade crostini, but I never got around to making it so I just ate it with the fresh chiabata bread. Yummy! Here's what I did:
1/2 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined
3-4 cloves of minced garlic
Zest of 1 Lime
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Penzey's Shallot Pepper*
3 Tbsp fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp dill (I used dried since I didn't have fresh)
1 Tbsp Breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp Panko (I used what I had which was Progresso Italian herb panko)
Sea Salt to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp Butter, melted
Rinse & pat dry the shimp. Mix the shrimp with all of the ingredients except the butter and olive oil.
Drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish and place the shrimp mixture in a single layer into the dish.
Pour the melted butter over the shrimp.
Bake for 8-10 minutes in a 425 degree oven until shrimp are done.
* Not everyone will have access to Penzey's spices (which are wonderful). If you don't have the shallot pepper, maybe try a little Old Bay seasoning and cayenne.
In the last year my Google Reader has really filled out, thanks in part to pinterest. Here are some of the blogs that I follow:
Organization & Crafting
http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/ --> this woman is amazing and being the neat freak that I am, anything dealing with organization makes my heart sing!
http://theivycottageblog.blogspot.com/ --> have only been following this one for the last month, so time will tell
http://www.cafblog.com/ --> I've been following her knitting blog for a few years now (she's a knitting designer) and she recently started a craft blog. Not too many posts, but still interesting.
All About the Kiddo
http://totschool.shannons.org/ --> she has a lot of great crafting ideas for kids. Can't wait for Simon to get old enough to sit still long enough to try some.
http://www.cometogetherkids.com/ --> more kids crafts
http://1plus1plus1equals1.blogspot.com/ --> I have no plans to homeschool but this site has some great educational activities
With a new year, it's time to start blogging again. I'm too stubborn to give up on it, but given the fact that I haven't used this blog since June means I have my work cut out for me. Facebook updates became an easy way for me to do quick updates and I just didn't feel like I had too much to say other than a few sentences. I've had a lot of thoughts lately though and this seems like the best way to go.
Over the last few months I've been following a lot of great blogs and it's gotten my creative juices going so I think I need to add some structure around what I blog about - but that's for another blog post!
Happy New Year, Happy Blogging!