Monthly Archives: July 2013

Another Finished Blanket!

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I am still, as ever, obsessed with blanket making, even though it is summer. We have had some unseasonably cool weather lately, which has given me some extra time to work on these warm projects. This is very awesome, both for working on blankets and for my electric bill; I have had my A/C turned off for almost a week now. I am hoping that it lasts a bit longer so that I can finish the blanket I am making for my cousin’s daughter before she heads off to college, but that is a story for another post.

This post is about the blanket I finished this weekend:

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Isn’t it great (if I do say so myself)? This v-stitch pattern is so quick and pretty. It is surprisingly warm, too–I found myself getting too warm when I used to to cover my legs in a cold movie theater. I did have a sweater on, but I was surprised that it made such a big difference.

I tried to work on small gift items while it is hot, and I did get some done, but I just love making blankets so much. Anyone else making blankets in the summer heat?

Menu, Week of 7/28

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This is going to be a strange week, as the boy has band camp in the evenings. He is at his dad’s this week, and his dad is having some conflicts with the time, so I am doing a lot of driving back and forth so that he can attend. I won’t have a lot of time to cook! I won’t really have kids around, so I can do quick and easy, though, so that helps.

Sunday: Leftoversstew

Monday: “Breaded” pork chops with dijon mustard sauce, Zuccchini bake

Tuesday: Curried beef stew

Wednesday: Bratwurst, salad

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Bacon, mushroom and cheese omelet, salad

Saturday: Low-carb Paella

As always, lots more menu ideas can be found at orgjunkie.com

Making Things: Crocheted Dish Cloths

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For a long time, I resisted crocheting dish cloths. All that effort, just for something to clean dishes with? Something that could be ruined by grease and staining foods? It seemed wrong somehow.

Lately, though, I have been thinking so much about making things rather than buying them that I am much more into the idea. Plus, if we have to wash dishes anyway, why not do it with something pretty? It is also much more comfortable on a hot summer day to make a small dish cloth than to work on a large blanket.

So, I have two new dishcloths to add to my collection:

Dishcloths

I got the patterns from (where else?) Pinterest: Cloth 1 and Cloth 2 They are so quick, I will probably be adding more, especially since I bought a bunch of cotton thread when the Ben Franklin in my town went out of business. I am thinking these might make nice spa cloths for my Christmas pampering baskets, too.

What are your thoughts on making this sort of practical item–the kind that gets dirty? Is it a great way to be less of a consumer and more self-sufficient? Or, do you prefer to make pretty things that won’t see such hard use?

How cool is this?

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Today’s Google doodle celebrates Rosalind Franklin, a British biophysicist who was the first person to successfully photograph DNA. I am sadly not surprised to read that Franklin was not given credit for this until much later, with a hostile fellow researcher passing the picture on to Watson and Crick, who subsequently got all the credit for discovering the structure of DNA. But it is good to see the credit where it belongs now!

Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Skillet

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As a working mom, I am always looking for healthy meals I can make quickly. I am particularly fond of meals I can cook all in one skillet. Sure, I serve a veggie on the side sometimes, but most of those I throw in the microwave to steam, so they don’t take much time.

Going low-carb has been a challenge for me, because a lot of the one pot meals I have used in the past revolved around pasta or rice–I don’t miss a lot of the carbs, but I really miss risotto!–so I have been searching for some new skillet meals. I have never been a fan of the hunk of meat with side dishes type of meal that low-carb seems to lend itself to. I am beginning to see the appeal of that at times, but I still need some casserole/skillet type meals with more blended, complicated flavors to keep me interested.

I have done a form of thisunstuffed cabbage roll skillet many times as a vegetarian, with mashed potatoes as a base, but it is a great low carb recipe with hamburger and no potatoes. The kids even ate it fairly well, although they didn’t like the tomatoes much.

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Unstuffed Cabbage Roll Skillet

1.5 pounds ground beef
1 onion, diced
2-4 cloves garlic
1 14 ounce bag shredded cabbage
salt
freshly ground pepper
1 28 ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 TBSP dried parsley
1 TBSP dried oregano
1 tsp Mrs. Dash original flavor

Brown the hamburger in a large skillet over medium high heat. Chop the onions and garlic and add to the skillet as you go. Add the cabbage and the salt and pepper to taste, and continue to saute the meat and veggies, stirring often, until the meat is all browned. Add the stewed tomatoes, chopping into bite size pieces if necessary, and all spices. Stir well, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 – 15 minutes, until some of the liquid has reduced and the cabbage is tender.

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This is very simple food, but so yummy. I do think next time I will add some olive oil at the beginning to give this a little more fat–the meal was satisfying when we ate, but I was a bit hungry before bed. Also, a chopped bell pepper would be really good, but my kids are not fans of cooked peppers, so I didn’t add one this time.

Anyone else have some great easy low-carb dinners to share?

Menu, Week of 7/21

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I went to Costco this weekend, so my freezer is full of meat. So full, I had to leave some of the meat in the fridge to be used up this week. This should make menu planning easier, since I know what I have to work with, right?

Also, you’ll note that this menu is heavy on the sauteed zucchini–it is that time of year, lol.

Sunday: Sirloin steaks, sauteed mushrooms, green beans, cauli-rice, bacon avocado deviled eggsbaked chicken thighs

Monday: Lemon Garlic baked chicken thighs, sauteed zucchini, asparagus wrapped in bacon

Tuesday: Unstuffed cabbage casserole, cauli-rice

Wednesday: Bratwurst, sauteed zucchini, sauteed mushrooms, potatoes for the kids

Thursday: Zucchini and Italian sausage lasagna, based on this recipe, but probably without the eggplant and altered to be dairy-free, salad

Friday: Pork paprika with mushrooms and sour cream, broccoli

Saturday: Low-carb Reuben meatloaf, sauteed greens, asparagus

 As always, there are a lot more menu ideas over at orgjunkie.com!

Thinking About Christmas: Gift Baskets

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I know Christmas is far away, but I really want to make as many gifts as I can this year, and that means starting early. I am planning on making a few blankets, and those take time, and I am going to finish a few things that I started last year that I didn’t get done in time, but I also need to throw in some easier gifts. Trying to do 15 big crochet projects in about 3 months is crazy– I know, because that is what I tried to do last year!

So, I am combing through my Pinterest boards trying to find some easy projects I can start working on now, and get some things set aside before life gets too hectic with school and work and the holidays. I want to start now while the kids are off for the summer and I am not volunteering at their schools all the time. Plus, if I start now, I will feel motivated to keep going. If I clear out a shelf in my pantry, I can have a growing stash of gifts to look at and feel good about! (Mental note: pantry needs a thorough re-organization and purge….)

With this in mind, I am thinking about making gift baskets/kits. I like the idea of giving several small things I have made grouped together–it makes it easier for me to space out the projects, and it seems like an abundance of gifts, 🙂 .

I am in the early planning stages, but here are some ideas I have so far. I have several similar projects grouped together. I probably won’t do all of them, but I like to have a range of choices when I start to work.

Pampering Kits

Image credit: paulaparrish.blogspot.com

I really love the soap socks in particular–what a neat idea! The sock felts as you use it!

Reading/Relaxing Time Kits

This idea is very crochet-intensive, which sounds more time-consuming. I really like the idea though, and the small projects may be doable. The notepads would be a lot of fun for standalone gifts, too.

Bling/Glamour Kits

Image Credit: foodpluswords.com

I am hoping my daughter will work with me on the jewelry–I like doing things like this with her.

So, those are my beginning ideas. Even with the relatively quick projects, you can see why I need to start doing something about this now! I haven’t even mentioned that I would like to make up a bunch of Christmas ornaments so that I can attach one to the packaging for every gift I give…I guess I should get a start on those, too.

Am I the only one crazy enough to be planning out Christmas gifts in July?