Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ramping Up...

Well, the tax season is starting to ramp up, but it's a slow process. (While people wait for the forms they need to come in the mail). There were no appointments today, so I got to stay home. I picked up a Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte at Fourbucks and have gotten a good start on K's Lucy bag. The whole time I'm knitting it, I'm thinking of the black one I want to make. And the gray one I need to make. Etc...

I also am getting the final items put together so I can send out my package for The Loopy Ewe Swap. I am suppose to include something that represents where I live. I REALLY wanted to get a Barn Happy Mug and coffee, but The Barn is closed for the season. I decided to give the owner a call and she was very happy to meet me and let me buy the mug and coffee! Yeah! Now just to add some chocolate, and it should be ready to pack up and ship off.

I made a new sandwich today for lunch and it was so delicious so I took a picture and thought I'd share the recipe. (It's kind of a combination of several recipes). Hmmm, what to call it.

'Grilled Veggie Brushetta on Ciabatta'. Sounds classy.

1/4 cup olive oil
1 sweet onion, sliced thin
1 red pepper, sliced thin
1 orange pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow squash, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 bunch basil, chopped*
1/4 bunch oregano chopped*
1/4 bunch thyme, chopped*
1/4 bunch parsley, chopped*
1/4 cup each of 2 kinds of shredded cheese that melts well
(mozzarella; provolone; Montery Jack; manchego; etc..)
Package of Take and Bake Ciabatta rolls
fresh salsa

1. Place oil in saute pan and heat to medium high. Add onion, peppers, squash and garlic and cook for 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
4. When cool, add chopped herbs and blend well.

(At this point the vegetables can be refrigerated until you're ready to assemble the sandwiches.)

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
6. Cut ciabatta rolls in half and lightly toast.
7. Place rolls cut side up on a baking sheet or stone.
8. Sprinkle rolls with one of your shredded cheeses. (i.e. mozzarella)
9. Spread cooked vegetables on top of the cheese.
10. Sprinkle with second type of shredded cheese. (i.e. monchego)
11. Heat in oven for 8-10 minutes, until warm.
12. Top with fresh salsa and enjoy!!

* You can substitute 1 tsp dried herbs for the fresh ones.
* If you have access to a Sam's club, they sell bags of peppers (2 each of red, yellow and orange) which are perfect for this recipe. They also sell great vidalia onions.
* Carlos O Kelley's restaurant has the BEST fresh salsa in our opinion. And did you know you can buy two pints of it for $5.35? It's a great deal for fresh salsa!!
* I make up a double batch of the veggies to keep in the fridge. The sandwhichs can then be thrown together in just a few minutes.
* You can also put the vegies and cheeses into a tortilla wrap and make quesadillas with it. Also very good!

Well, off to throw together some Lasagna soup and do a little more knitting. Back to taxes tomorrow.

Until Next Time.....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

New Favorite Bag!

Yes, I have a new favorite felted bag! It is the Lucy bag that I felted this weekend. I already have my stuff transferred over into it and have plans to make several more in the near future. I just love how it came out!! I definitely recommend this pattern if you are into felted bags!!

I also finished up the socks that I was making for my Loopy Swap Partner. It is the Monkey pattern knit up in Shibui knit yarn in the Earth colorway. I love the feel of this yarn, but have a slight problem. The second sock turned out slightly larger than the first sock. (I must have knit looser....) Is it ok to still send them? Is it a big deal? I think I'll wash them up tomorrow and see how they look.

I cast on another sock this weekend. It is Dream in Color Smooshy in the Visual Purple colorway. I am using the Sleepwalker Sock pattern put out by Dream in Color. It's similar looking to the Monkey pattern and a nice change of pace!!

This weekend I also went to Michael's and Fiber Wild and purchased the yarn I needed for a few more bags. The first is another Ballband Bag that I am making for a birthday gift. The base color will be purple with the Noro Big Kureyon as the bands. I joined a Ballband Bag KAL on Ravelry, so I want to get started on this sometime this week.

I also picked up some Cascade 220 to make another Lucy bag. It is a beautiful green. I think this will be for K, if she likes the color. Otherwise, I am sure I will find someone who will take it off my hands!!

Sumo had quite an eventful weekend!!! It started out Friday night when he got excited about something he saw in our back yard. We looked out and saw a shape lurking behind our large Lilac bush. When it came out into the light, we realized it was a Coyote!!!!!
Sumo was about going crazy!! After a few minutes (when we thought the coyote was long gone) we let Sumo out. When we looked out again, Sumo was in hot pursuit of the coyote and only a few feet from him!!! Yikes! Steve went out and called Sumo back. He was totally tuckered out!!!! I'm sure he'll be keeping an eye out for coyotes now for quite some time!!

Then on Saturday we loaded Sumo in the car and took him over to Galena with us for the weekend. He doesn't handle change of location very well, and was a bit stressed out. He certainly was happy to be home again tonight. Here he is with the continuation of my handspun scarf. I'm going to need to spin up more of this white wool so I can finish the scarf. It's interesting knitting with yarn that is SO unevenly spun. I have a long way to go.......

Until Next Time....

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Knitting Continues...

And the cold continues. There is talk of a 'warm up' this weekend, with temperatures actually rising above the freezing mark. (The forecast is for the high to be 33 degrees Sunday. Above freezing, but not by much!!) So I keep knitting and waiting for Spring! I finished the Lucy bag and will felt it this weekend. It's a strange design. The longer strap will go through the shorter strap and cinch the bag shut and become the shoulder strap. I think it will be a fun bag to carry.

I've also turned the heel on my Monkey sock. It's actually quite a bit further along than even this picture. I hope to finish it today. Then I start the process of going through my patterns and my yarn stash and trying to decide which socks to cast on next. Decisions. Decisions.

I cast on a hat with my white handspun, but it just wasn't the right pattern for the yarn. (I do plan on making the pattern soon though, because I love it!) I decided to do a simple scarf. I am doing a knit-purl pattern for row one (ending with a knit) and then straight knit for row two. I really like how it is coming along. I think I will add some fun fringe to the ends as well.

Now to Sumo. I have a confession as far as he goes. I have turned him into a beggar, which I think is about the most undesirable trait a dog can have. But it's really not MY fault! You see, when our dog Nikko was in her last days, one of the few joys she had was eating. We had rarely given our dogs people food, but I started giving her little treats whenever I was in the kitchen because it made her happy. And, of course, I couldn't NOT give Sumo a little something something. Now Sumo wants a little something something every time he knows that we are eating. And being so darn cute, how can one resist????

Continuing with Sumo, he does love the snow. He loves to bury his face in the snow. Every time we let him in after he's been out his whole muzzle is covered with snow and he looks so happy.
The other thing he loves to do when he's outside is bark in our neighbors' direction. They have 2 labs, and Sumo loves to try and communicate with them. I think he wants to know that he's not alone. I'm starting to seriously think that we may need to get him a puppy. Has anyone introduced a puppy to a 12 year old male Lab? I just don't know how he would do. He does seem to miss Nikko an awful lot!

Now on to some cooking. I realize I haven't shared a recipe in some time. This is a recipe I got from my good friend Renae. It is a family favorite and also one we make at all of our Scrapbook (knitting) Get-Away Weekends!

Garlic Chicken Pizza

4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
1 cup sliced green onion
4 cloves minced garlic
4 Tbsp. rice or white vinegar
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. olive or cooking oil
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper (or less)
2 - 15 oz. (12”) Boboli breads
2 Tbsp. oil
1 cup shredded mozzarella and/or Monterey Jack
4 Tbsp. sliced almonds

1. Cut chicken into 1/2 inch pieces. In large bowl combine 1/2 of onion, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, 1 Tbsp oil, red and black peppers. Add chicken. Stir to coat. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.

2. Drain and reserve marinade. Heat oil in pan, add chicken and stir about 3 minutes.

3. Heat marinade in separate pan. Add cornstarch. Stir until heated through. Add to chicken and stir until thick and bubbly.

4. Spoon onto bread shell, top with cheese. Bake at 400 degree for 12 minutes. Add remaining onion and nuts on top and bake additional 2 minutes.


Until Next Time.....

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Snow Just Keeps Coming!

Yes, it snowed all day yesterday. On top of the snow we already have. I will admit that it does make everything very beautiful. But it also means it's cold out. This is the bird bath in our front yard. Gives you a little idea of what's on the ground!

I have gotten my first two 'official' skeins of yarn off of my new spinning wheel. The first is this white wool. I love how this yarn turned out. Thick and thin. I have heard from more than one experienced spinner to enjoy these first skeins because once you know what you're doing you can't go back and create the thick and thin look! I am planning on making a hat with this. Allison has graciously shared her pattern for her spiral hat that I love. I have no idea how this will knit up.

My second skein looks quite similar to the first, which I am not sure is good or bad. There do seem to be more areas that the two yarns that are plyed together seem to be about the same size. I know that it takes time and lots and lots of practice. Not sure yet what I'll make with this.

The kids are all back in school now and R & M are settled into their apartment. Which means that our nest is officially empty. (Unless you count Sumo, of course!) Pretty quiet. I haven't been doing a whole lot of cooking. I am excited to try a few recipes from the cookbook that we purchased on the cruise. It has all of the recipes that they served in the dining room. Many of them are quite complicated (thus the reason for all of their professional chefs), but some don't look too bad. K made several of the recipes before she headed back to school and they were delicious! I plan on making the Grilled Mediterranean Vegetable Quesadillas tonight. They are so yummy!!!

Other than that I am just trying to get the house in order. I start part time in the tax office this week and will go to full time next week. I still hope to do some knitting and spinning in the evenings.

My treat for surviving tax season will be to attend Sheri's Spring Fling the end of April. It is going to be a GREAT weekend of knitting/spinning and all things Loopy. It will be a great way to celebrate the end of another tax season.

Until Next Time....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The High Will Be 3 Below....

3 below zero. That's the 'high' today. That's just not right. And when you factor in the wind chill, it actually feels like 26 below. So then I have to ask myself, 'Why do I live here?????' There is no easy answer!

It is good weather, however, for getting some knitting and spinning done. I am making great progress on the Lucy bag. I have got the bag part done, and am working on the longer strap. I have 75 of the 200 rows completed. I think I am going to enjoy this bag! I got on Ravelry and looked at some of the 240 Lucy bags that others are making and have ideas for future Lucy bags I'd like to knit as well. That is one feature of Ravelry I love - being able to see other knitters' projects.

I loaded up my wheel this morning and headed down to the local spinning guild and spun for about 4 hours. They helped my ply my first yarn. Pretty exciting! I think I am going to make a hat or a scarf out of my first handspun! I hope to have more Saturdays in the near future that I can spend there. Lots of spinning wisdom to glean from!!!

I have dug out my really warm winter coat to wear during this cold snap. I always felt it made me look a little like a big red tomato. Steve has a big green one that he wears, so K has started calling us 'Bob and Larry' from the Vegie tales videos. (Bob is a big red tomato and Larry is a cucumber.) I guess it fits! All I know is that it is the warmest coat I have ever owned! (Even warmer when I attach the fur lined hood!!!) And I like to be warm!

Even Sumo doesn't object to a little extra warmth these days. I don't know, maybe I do need to knit him a sweater!

Off to do some knitting. If you are in the middle of this cold snap, stay warm. If you live where it is warm, enjoy it for me!!!

Until Next Time....

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Back to Knitting!

Yes, I do remember that this is suppose to be a knitting blog. Sometimes I do get distracted. Sorry about that! Now that the excitement of the wedding and the cruise are behind me, I do hope to get more knitting (and spinning) in! I know many of you were wondering where all the knitting pictures are from our cruise. Well, truth be told, I did very little knitting while we were gone. A little on the plane and I took it down to the pool one day, but that is it. It is very hard to knit when one is lathered in sunscreen! But here it is. Me 'pretending' to knit on the boat. I didn't even do a stitch!!

I am working on my Monkey socks out of the Shibui Knit yarns. I think these will be for my Loopy Swap Partner.

K has been knitting away on her afghan and is making great progress! Doing it in strips will be perfect for toting around on campus. She is excited to head back to school this weekend. She is especially excited because she just found out that she has been accepted into the School of Journalism at her college. Way to go K!

I've picked out the yarn (Paton's Wool in Paprika) and bought a pattern for another purse that I have wanted to try for some time. The Lucy Bag. Has anyone made it? It really looks like a fun bag to not only make, but to carry. K has already told me she wants one!!

I also have some new roving I want to try with my spinning wheel. Sheri sent me this wonderful roving for Christmas and I can't wait to spin it into yarn. I am hoping to spend part of Saturday down at the local spinning guild with my wheel.

In the meantime, we have been busy helping R & M get settled into their new place. We spent part of Monday watching them open their wedding gifts. Took 3 1/2 hours for them to get through them all!!! What a blessing for them as they start out their married life.

R was very excited to receive a Raclette grill; something that he had experienced while living over in Europe.

They also loved the cross stitch piece that my dad had done for them. And so many other wonderful things, too numerous to mention. A bag FULL of games was another big hit! I told them we'd be up for game night anytime, and they could try out their new Raclette grill on us!!! (Or make some yummy popcorn with their new popcorn popper and seasonings!!!)

Sumo and I watched on as they opened the gifts. (M's parents were there as well. And K was also there taking pictures) Sumo is still wanting to keep a pretty close eye on us and make sure we don't go anywhere without him!!!

After a couple of hours, however, Sumo tired of watching the whole thing and decided to take a nap. Not before K did a whole photo shoot with different bows on his head. Sigh. It's tough being Sumo sometimes.....

Off to cast on my Lucy Bag. I'll keep you posted on my progress!!

Until Next Time....

Monday, January 14, 2008

Back to Reality....

Well, the ship has landed and we have made our way back to the snowy fields of Iowa. It was hard to leave. But we were looking forward to being home. To seeing the newlyweds, and, of course, Sumo.

I thought I would share a few more highlights from our trip. I have to say it was the trip of a lifetime. Everything was amazing. Definitely would go again. This is our ship. The Liberty of the Seas. The largest cruise ship in the world.

We made 3 stops: San Juan; St Maarten and Labadee, Haiti. Us girls did some shopping on San Juan. I am not much of a souvenir shopper, so didn't buy much. But it's always fun to look!

In St. Maarten, we took a shuttle to the French side of the island and did some exploring. It ended with a delicious stop at a little French bakery eating amazing pastries!

Our favorite port, however, was Labadee, Haiti. This is actually a private area owned by Royal Caribbean. Lots of beaches and beautiful blue waters. Steve and A took a Wave Runner tour and said they had GREAT time. They were, however, quite sore for several days afterwards!

We did some snorkeling while we were in Labadee. That was great fun. We found a few sand dollars and sea urchins to bring home with us.

My brother and A did some body surfing. (There were great waves that day!)

The kids found a baby palm tree and enjoyed taking pictures by it.

We also had 3 full days at sea, just enjoying the ship. Sitting by the pool was wondeful. So nice to just soak up the warmth. (And a frozen drink now and then - as you see my brother and sister in law doing!)

Dinner each evening was a highlight for all of us. A time to have all of us together and talk about the day and enjoy amazing food served by some very fun people! I especially enjoyed the formal nights having everyone dressed up and looking so nice!

Rolando and Carlene took GREAT care of us!! Sure hope our paths cross again some day!

A final shot of the 'Tat Brothers' - Steve and my nephew. Yes, those are tattoos. (Ok, so they aren't permanent.. they were fun!!)

Sumo was very happy to see us and says he is ready to go with us on the next cruise!!!

And now back to reality. We are helping R & M get settled into their first apartment. A has gone back to school and K is here for another week, and then she is back to school as well. Tax season looms before me. Life is busy. Life is good.

Until Next Time....

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

On The High Seas...

Well, here we are in the middle of the Caribbean! We are on board the largest cruise ship in the world, The Liberty of the Seas. It is an amazing ship!

One of the first things you have to do before the ship sails is don your life jacket and head to your 'muster' station. (Where you would go if it were an actual emergency!) These are some serious lifejackets!!

We are on the trip with my mom and dad and younger brother and his wife and 3 children. Here we are at dinner at our first ‘formal night’. Dinner together each night is one of the highlights for all of us.

There are a ton of things to do on the ship. Steve and K and my brother all have tackled ‘THE WALL’ - A large climbing wall on board the ship. It’s pretty amazing to see. I plan on attempting it today. We’ll see....

Our stateroom neighbors my brothers room and we both have balconies that open up to each other. It has been wonderful to sit out on the balcony and enjoy the view.

And, of course, it is always fun to come back to our room each evening to see what towel creature awaits us. Well, off to figure out what to do today. We are at sea all day and have lots we want to do on the ship. More next post, which will probably be after we get home.

Until Next Time....