Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Kick In the Butt I Need In Winter

Does winter make you lazy?  It's supposed to be the hot summer days that makes us laze around, but for me, when the cold weather comes, I sometimes find myself frozen in place.  I'll  be comfortable and warm and the thought of going somewhere and getting cold again just doesn't appeal to me.

Don't get me wrong,  I don't hang around inside all winter, but I want to lay on the couch and loll around much more than I do when it's warm.

When it's warm I like to loll in my hammock!

The other thing I don't have any motivation to do in the winter is go to my sewing room.  It's upstairs and we only heat upstairs enough to keep the pipes from freezing but because it's not well insulated, we don't spend time up there.

But then I want to sew and sometimes, I actually need to sew, so I have to bite the bullet and get on it.  If I wait until afternoon, the sun is in my sewing room and it's not usually as cold as I think it's going to be.  Plus, I can turn on the heat if I want, but I hesitate to throw money out the walls like that.  Usually, a pair of socks, slippers and a vest are all I need and I'm plenty warm.

Berry Barn Designs

Last year, I ran into the 4x7 Sewing Challenge from www.berrybarndesigns.  The plan is very simple:

1.  sew a little bit every day for the month of February.  (that's the 4x7.  She's a math girl.   It took me a while to figure out the significance of those numbers.  And since there are 29 days in February this year, it's actually 4x7+1.  I figured that out all on my own :)
2.  once a week, go to her linkup and show what you've been working on.
3.  possibly win a prize each week.

Something hanging over my head to make me do some of that sewing I always want to do but never get around to?  Possibly win a prize?  Yes please!!

I discovered that I really cannot possibly sew every single day, but I doubled up some days and had to skip others.  In the end, my biggest achievement was my Queen of Hearts quilt because I had always planned to make one but never got around to it.  You can see everything I posted here, here, here and here.

I actually won a prize one week which was really cool because I love to win but also  because it was the one prize I wanted to win the most:  a rainbow of fabric!

So, this year, as we headed toward February, I started thinking about the 4x7 Sewing Challenge and lo and behold, she's doing it again!  I'm excited because I have a LOT of plans.  I know the goal is to sew for yourself, but I don't really want to sew for myself as much as I want to get things in my brain out in material to see if they will work and how they will look.  And to get them out of my brain so I can think about other things!!

And really, that is sewing for myself so I can stop driving myself crazy with these ideas and actually see if they will work instead!

1.  A rainbow quilt.  Or two.   Like the Queen of Hearts quilt ,  I've always thought about making a rainbow quilt in strips, out of nothing but scraps, but I never get around to it.  I have finally have big plans for the rainbow I've put together here!

2.  Repairing barn tack and blankets.  I've fixed a few things here and there with my machine, but horses are filthy and I hesitate to use Lady Bernina to sew through dirty blankets.  She'll get all dirty and grungy herself.  I recent reacquired an old clunker of a machine that might be just the right thing.  If I can make it work, I can fix things for myself but possibly make a little extra fixing them for other people too!

3.  LEGGINGS.  I have a pattern ready to go, but I'm convinced I will just blow through the seams the first time I wear them, so I have to get on it and try my first pair.  I'm told that I will love them!

I also have some plans to rearrange my sewing room but I can't put the details into writing yet because it's unlikely that I will really do it this month and I hate to write out a plan that I probably won't even attempt.

What about you?  Do you have sewing projects floating around in your brain that you never get a chance to sit down and do?  Do you need motivation to get your butt in gear and make things?  Do you suffer from the winter doldrums that leave you surfing pinterest but never leaving the couch?

DO IT!  Join in the 4x7 Sewing Challenge and see what happens!

Linking here:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Parfait Perfection

Are you big dessert eaters in your house?  In my house, there's always the desire for dessert after supper, but there isn't always something for dessert.  I don't always bake desserts, I rarely buy them and sometimes, I don't want to think about dessert and all of the extra calories we don't need.

But someone always asks if there's dessert and scrounging around will quickly commence if something isn't provided.

Enter the parfait.  Parfaits are great for a bunch of reasons:

-they sound fancy because the word is French
-parfaits are really just mini trifles
-parfait means perfect in French, so you feel like you're making perfection
-you can totally make it up each time and it will always taste good
-you can put them in fancy glasses to fool everyone into thinking you're fancy

Wow, that's two fancies in one post.  I'm not fancy, so there must be some underlying Freudian thing at work here!

In my mind, parfaits are a mixture of fruit, yogurt, some kind of crumbs and something sweet.  This month, I've made the following parfait a few times to rave reviews:

-graham cracker crumbs
-Stonyfield vanilla 0% fat Greek yogurt
-frozen peaches

First, that Stonyfield vanilla Greek yogurt is so sweet, you'll think you're eating ice cream.  And it's not really as thick as the Greek yogurts I like, so it works well in this parfait.

I crush graham cracker crumbs and sprinkle them into the bottom of a glass, saving some for another layer.

Then I scoop in about an ice cream scoop full of yogurt.

I chop up the frozen peaches and sprinkle some in, saving some for another layer.

Sprinkle some coconut.

I used Dove chocolates that were super on sale from Christmas, but any kind of chocolate would work.  Chop it up and sprinkle.

Then do the whole thing again.

I use the peaches still frozen and make this as I begin making supper and let it sit out.  By the time supper is over, the peaches have thawed and the whole thing is a nice chilled dessert.

Big surprise:   my quantities are vague because it depends on how many you are making and how many things you are adding in.  I chop as I go.

Because there's yogurt in it, it's pretty filling, and because there's chocolate and coconut, it's pretty sweet, so everyone leaves feeling satisfied.  I can't verify the healthiness of it, but it's definitely better than brownies or fudge or pie, no doubt!

Over the years, I've done this with different kinds of yogurt and different fruits.  Experiment and see what you can put in your parfaits to make your family go crazy!

Linking here: 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

January Means Garden Planning

Every year, I sort of plan my gardens in my mind and I get seeds and get ready to be organized and systematic in the winter and then suddenly it's May and I'm planting willy nilly and have no idea what I'm doing anymore.

I will proudly say that I label everything one way or another (usually with a sharpie and I write directly on the container), so it's not like I go out and have to guess at what every plant is as it emerges, but I'm bad about recording planting dates and highlighting the good vs. the less prosperous varieties.   Plus, I hate to count ahead for the days when the seeds are supposed to be ready to harvest because that points out the end of summer for me way too far in advance.

Instead, I blindly go along from day to day watching progress, paying no attention to how many weeks it's supposed to take for some of my veggies to ripen.

The first year I had the greenhouse, I was good about writing in a notebook and I recorded every seed I planted for about 4 months.  We had had a really mild winter that year and I was lucky enough to get peas going in March and lots of other stuff in April.  The following year, we had a normal winter and a frost killed everything in April that had been doing so well.  Lesson learned!

And then it was high summer and I was just a planting and replanting fool and the sun bleached my writing and I just gave up.

I know there are tons of garden planning apps and programs that would help me with this, but that would mean bringing my ipad to my greenhouse which would mean filthy and wet fingers all over it. 

This year, I swear I'm getting a white board to write the dates I plant the seeds and when they emerge.

Last week, I ordered all of my seeds.  Or so I thought.  I was very methodical and actually wrote down everything I wanted to make sure I grow this year.  I went through all of my current seeds to see what I have, how old they are and what I need.

I always thought ordering seeds from catalogs was something Pa did on Little House on the Prairie which in this modern age, I would have no need to do.  As I've grown in my gardening knowledge and preferences, I've discovered that what I want isn't always available in my local stores.  And what I want is organic and heirloom and definitely non-GMO.  Seed catalogs seem to be the best choice for what I want.

And that's all I will say about my beliefs about organic, non-GMO and heirloom.  Otherwise, another dissertation like this one will be the result and I can only torture my fans with one dissertation per quarter.

You probably imagine that I save my own seeds.  Saving seeds can be a jackpot or a great disappointment.   There's biology at work in creating seeds and if you have several varieties of plant, such as 5 kinds of tomatoes, they can end up cross pollinated.  That means when the seeds form, they may or more likely will not, look like the original plant.  So, the most amazing tomatoes this year might produce something awful next near.  The way to prevent this is to grow one kind of plant in one garden and one kind in another but I have no desire to do that.

I have saved some beans from year to year and grown the offspring but that's about it.  There's too much at stake in relying on my own saved seeds.  If I didn't buy seeds and those that I saved didn't grow or weren't good, I'd be pretty mad that I didn't have whatever vegetable I would have had.

I've had great luck with seeds from Seeds of Change, so I definitely ordered from them.  I've grow a few things from Territorial Seed and I've liked them, so I got a few seeds from them too.  I always go to Seeds of Change first, because they were the first catalog I ever ordered from.  If they don't have what I want, then I go to Territorial Seed.

And after I  placed my orders, I realized I completely forgot to order cilantro.  And these watermelon radishes that I keep seeing everywhere.  I've asked around and people told me they got them from Seeds Now.

Since I follow Seeds Now on instagram, I knew they were having a flash sale this weekend, so I ordered my forgotten seeds from them.

Now I simply cannot wait to start my seeds in the greenhouse and get going.  We just got a foot of snow, so it's definitely not time even for peas, but I'm excited to get my act together this year and have a very full summer of harvesting!

Linking here:

Monday, January 18, 2016

I'm Sort of the Weird Neighbor Your Mother Warned You About

I don't spend as much time running around the blogosphere as I used to, and I'm sad to say that I don't read anywhere near the number of blogs that I did a few years ago.

Instead, I use the time that I have to read snippets here and there or get specific recipes or suggestions because otherwise, I'd spend 23 hours online and never sleep.

There's just too much out there!

One word that catches my eye a lot while I cruise the interwebs is the word "homesteading".  This word sort of makes me vibrate and get a little  nervous.  Because I immediately picture long haired hippies living off the grid with chickens in their living room, burying all of their harvest down in their root cellars, while trying to make a heating system out of bricks and 55 gallon drums.

This is completely a combination of every homesteading/doomsday prepper show I've watched on TV and the exact reason I fear the word homesteading.

When I first started blogging, I found a lot of like minded souls who had gardens and did a lot of DIY stuff.  They sometimes tossed around the word homestead and I like the quaintness of it, or at least the control that it meant they were taking over what they were consuming and putting onto the earth.  This pushed me to continue my pursuit of being somewhat self-sufficient.  I started a second garden, started canning and drying as much as my gardens would let me and learned to always run to the internet when my DIY project went awry or couldn't get started.

Legendary greenhouse and clothesline.
I read their posts and enjoyed the lighthearted "life on the farm" attitudes of these women (mostly) who had real jobs and real lives but, like me, had small farming aspirations on the side.  6 chickens, a goat, a huge garden- all of this got me thinking a small farm might be good.

I already had the greenhouse.

And then I started seeing homesteading in a different light, probably thanks to the stupid shows on TV.  Even on the internet, homesteading seems to have a heavier feeling.  People are stocking up and acting like the apocalypse is coming tomorrow.  And it's made me bristle a little bit.  What I once took as a sort of fun side activity that has great benefits is actually the way of life for soeme people.  Or so it seems.

And it's made me realize a lot of things:

Love my electric breadmachine.
#1.  I like electricity.  I didn't grow up without it, we always had reliable service and many of the "homesteading" activities that I do actually require it.

I like heat.  I like AC.  I love hot water.  I enjoy my mobile devices when they are fully charged.  I don't want to live off the grid.

#2.  I still have a job.  And I have to.  Even if I had won powerball, I think I'd still have to work.  For a while at least.  Because I need that contact with the outside world.

Plus, if I didn't have anyone to shock at work with my "pioneer days" behavior, it wouldn't be anywhere near as fun, right?

#3.  Animals are great and their food and products are wonderful, but they are a lot of work.  And like a garden that is so easily destroyed by nature, animals can get sick and die and all of that time invested is gone.

Thawing ice inside my house.
We have winter here!
I'm a teacher, so I have summers off, and it sounds like a great idea to have a few sheep and a donkey when it's 60 degrees on a May morning.  But going out to deal with a barnful of animals when it's 19 degrees and dark in January at 5:20am, BEFORE I spend the day wrangling 6 classes of preteens and then repeating it all when I get home and everything has frozen solid and I can't open the door to the barn because it froze shut suddenly loses its appeal.

Again, why I need a job.  I can't live knowing that if my steer dies of illness, we won't have meat for the winter.  Or of I can't unfreeze the water, everyone's going to die of thirst.  Or that I might lose a finger to frostbite because the pig got out and wandered away and I didn't have my gloves when I went running in search of it.

So, let's be clear.  I will not use the word homesteading on my blog in the near future.

Here are some claims I am pretty confident that I can make and stick to:

I will continue to do what I do and pretend that I am a little bit like a pioneer woman.  I will not grow dreadlocks and stop washing with soap because someone said that's what nature intended.

I will still read the great DIY suggestions that I find.  I will try to convince k-ster that I need him to cut me some wood for projects and ask for help trying to figure out how to make something that will make life easier.  I will not suggest that we build a house out of logs all by ourselves from the back 40.

Mainly because we don't have a back 40.  And I don't like log homes.

I will continue to use vinegar as an all purpose cleaner and disinfectant.  I will not throw out all bleach and ammonia because I think that sometimes, we really need to use them.  Just never together!

Total crop failure. Thanks to wildlife.
I will keep my gardens and can and dry food and get excited when it's January and I'm still using my own canned tomatoes.  I will not tear up the front lawn and make it a garden.  Yet.

Canning on Aunt Mildred's porch!
I will probably expand my gardens over time until it feels like I can say that I have "crops".  I'd love to have an orchard and grow some fruit trees but keeping pests at bay naturally is very daunting to me.  I will not quit my job and become a farmer.

Unless I hit the jackpot and can live knowing that I have the cash to help me if the crops and animals fail me.

I might have a few chickens along the way, mainly for their eggs.  Those of you who know me are definitely picturing me slaughtering chickens and being all "what, anyone can do it, it's no big deal, that's what they are there for" but it's pretty unlikely.  If I HAD to do it, I would, but I am not in a real homesteading predicament where I HAVE to do anything.

I will continue to wash my clothes in an electric, new fangled washing machine with commercial soap that I didn't produce with witchcraft and spells in the back yard.  I will mostly dry those clothes on the line but I will not wear cardboard stiff jeans or hang my clothes in the rain, so I will continue to use my dryer when necessary.

I will continue to use modern medicine for myself and others if it seems like the most reasonable course to keep from dying.  I will not use herbs to cure everything.  I will continue to convince myself that I will get better tomorrow and refuse to see a doctor until I've had enough of that.  I will most likely not see a healer and even a visit to a homeopath is unlikely.

Restaurant nachos can be delicious!
Circus peanuts.
I will continue my pledge to eat a lot of clean and organic foods.  I will not 100% give up the occasional fast food binge or foray into a bag of circus peanuts.  It's 2016 and it's just so easy to fall off the healthy wagon.

As I write this, I hope my thoughts are resonating with a lot of you.  In my reading, I've discovered a lot of people who seem to be like me: enjoying making and growing things myself and knowing where they came from, while also using gasoline in my modern car to get to the store that sells the things I need in order to do it myself.

Knowing that it's possible to live off the land while writing about it on my electric powered laptop.

Sometimes, we've had enough greens!
Buying produce at the grocery because it's February in New England and if I eat one more green from my greenhouse or potato from my stash I might kill someone because I crave a piece of real, fresh fruit.

Do you try to DIY until it falls apart and you cave and buy BIY( buy it yourself)?

Do you pledge to eat off the land until the land produces nothing and you have to eat off someone else's land?

Do you swear you will eat well, know the source of your food and stick to a reduced desserts diet only to decide that chocolate covered anything sounds like a good idea some days?

Do you make your own vinegar cleaner and then decide you have to add a little ammonia too just in case the vinegar doesn't really disinfect?

Linking here: 

Friday, January 15, 2016

One Pot Ham Dish

I discovered part of this recipe on the fly.  It seems the best tasting meals I make are those that I hear about with no specific measurements and adjust as I go.

I originally heard about potatoes and greens from an Indian woman I know.  The eggs and ham were totally my own addition and definitely necessary for a whole meal.

First, I took some olive oil in a pan and chopped up some potatoes to add in.  They were red potatoes but I imagine any kind  would work.  I also very thinly sliced a very small red onion that I had laying around.  I doubt this did much for flavor but it made everything smell really good! 

While the potatoes were sizzling on medium high, I chopped up some ham and tossed it in.  The ham was the impetus for this dish.  I have bought a thick slice of ham from the deli before, but when the kid handed this to me, it was the thickest slice I've ever seen!  Usually, they tell me they can do about 3/4 of an inch and that's the thickest that blade will go.  This was at least 1.5 inches thick!  I realized I had to find several uses for such a big piece!

This would be a great follow up meal to a ham dinner!

After about 20 minutes, the potatoes were getting soft, so I added greens.  I had some "baby cooking greens" in one container and spinach in another, so I added them both.  I'm always amazed at how much they cook down.  By the time I added what I thought would be enough, it must have been enough green to fit in one of those large plastic spinach containers.

That's a lot of greens for 2 people but when they cooked down, it seemed like very little.

One of the things I always worry about when I add greens to steam down is that whatever was already in the pan is going to burn.  Probably because this happened once with onions and spinach and it was a raging mess. This particular pan allows me to hold onto handles on both sides to shake it around while the cover is on and keep things moving.

The greens wilted pretty quickly, so when everything was flat, I took the cover off and stirred it all up.  Then I added the eggs.  I decided 4 eggs, one for each corner (of a round pan?) , would be good.

Again, I worried that the potatoes and ham would scorch as the eggs were poaching, so I did a little bit of time with the cover on and a little with it off.  If I remember correctly, I think I turned the heat down a little bit here.  I probably could have left the cover on the whole time but I was worried about the food on the bottom.

When the eggs looked solid, I added a little balsamic vinegar to the pan.

We each had 2 eggs and a hearty helping of the greens, potatoes and ham.  It was really good and easy to make.  Since there were potatoes in it, I didn't make a starch on the side and since there were greens, I didn't make a vegetable, so this was a great one pot meal.

This fed 2 people and we ate the whole thing.  I can't imagine how you would do this for 4 or more people in one pan.  I think you'd have to have two pans going at once because adding much more to the pan could be a problem, plus too many eggs might make it a mess in the final step.

Linking up: 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Mr. Strauss Arrives On the Scene

Somewhere along the way, I decided I shouldn't use people's real names on my blog.  To protect their privacy or maybe to keep my fans guessing.  I'm not sure.  Instead of making up names, I usually use the first letter of their name, followed by -ster.  I don't know where it started, but it's what I do.

But, now I have a dilemma. 

Because this little guy entered the world at the end of December. 

And his name begins with L. 

But I already have an L-ster, so this could lead to very confusing posts because that L-ster is a girl.

So, since Strauss could fit with his name, and I will leave the reasons why to your imagination, he will henceforth be known as Mr. Strauss.  Most people don't get titles here on Aunt Mildred's porch, so that's a pretty big deal.

Oh and Mr. Strauss will only apply on the blog.  I don't suppose I'd ever get away with calling him that in real life.

For those of you keeping score track, this is my youngest sister's baby.  My sisters each have one, so now I have a niece and a nephew.   

Both beginning with L. 

And since he was born in December, a high sickness month, we all had sinus issues and were afraid to spend much time with him.  I held him in the hospital like I was drinking vodka in a Russian freezer.  Partly because it was cold that day and partly because I didn't want to share any extra germs.

Or get any scary germs from the hospital itself.

My niece L-ster lives halfway down the country, so I don't get to see her very often.  Mr. Strauss lives much closer though it feels like it takes just as long to get there.  Since they live nearby, I will get to see him more than I get to see L-ster. 

What an exciting end to 2015 and entry into 2016!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Penny Pig and Woolly Sheep Quilt

I've been eyeing the Penny Pig block from Farm Girl Vintage for a while on  instagram.  I have a thing about pink and I kind of like pigs and I think the block is soooooo cute!

My sister got me the Farm Girl Vintage book for my birthday but I was devastated to discover Penny Pig isn't in it!  You can get the pattern online for $5 but I wasn't really interested in doing that because I had a whole book of patterns to play with!

And then I decided maybe Penny Pig and Woolly Sheep could play together in a quilt, so off I went in search of the Penny Pig Pattern.  The Woolly Sheep is already in the book.

How cute is this????  I almost want to make a quilt of just pigs for myself, but I have absolutely no use for it or any decor that it would fit in with. 

This little curlycue tail that you embroider at the end might be my most favorite part!  I was worried that the quilting might disturb the embroidery but it seemed to go right over it and lock it down nicely.

It wasn't until I put the blocks together that I realized that the sheep is slightly bigger than the pig and it really bothers me, visually.  I also think I could use the pig feet on the sheep rather than embroidering.  Or, I could eliminate the feet on the sheep so it looks like it's sitting on the ground and then they would both be the same height.

K-ster warned me not to have too much pink since this was going to a boy, so I ended up using subtle pinks for the pigs.  When I thought about the sheep, I almost went with a couple of beige sheep with black faces but the only black fabric I had was a little busier than I would want.  Plus, it was a little too powerful for the colors that I ended up with.

I really like the green that I chose for the grass.  It was a remnant fabric I got ages ago and it had little lines on it but I've never found a use for it.  For this, it was just enough to add some color.   I was worried about how bland it was before the green grass went on.   And the blue frames make me happy because they add another color.

I kept thinking I wanted to add yellow but I didn't want this to keep growing, so I used it on the border.  It was a softer yellow, like the pinks, so it didn't scream LOOK AT ME.

I used my stash for this entire quilt, so instead of using one piece on the back, I put together some squares and rectangles of what I had used in the quilt top.  Because I usually wing it, I didn't think about how the back would be trimmed down, so my squares at the top of this picture ended up as rectangles.  I almost went with a totally rectangle pattern on the back and now I see that would have worked out fine.  I also have no idea how those 3 brown squares ended up near each other like that.  I meant for it to be more random.

I knew I was going to do my famous wavy quilt stitch and that meant I had to clear some space.  My table has been growing with a stack of things, so the first order of business was clearing off this mess.

What seemed like days later, I had a lovely workspace but I realized that I don't usually use this table to quilt because it's too narrow for my machine and my little table that I put with with it.

I did my usual fingers crossed rolling of the quilt and got to work.  I see people pin basting all over the place, but I have never found this to work for me.  I still end up with bunching.  So, I just roll and go.  Every few rows, I unroll it and smooth out what is left and then reroll and hope for no bunching.

This time, all went well except when I ran out of bobbin about 12 inches from the end of one row.  I decided to remove that whole row and do it again, except when I was ripping it out, I accidentally starting ripping out the row before it, so I had to do TWO again!

If you pay any attention to what I do while I'm sewing, you'd think I must do some serious bong hits before I sit down.  If I'm not following an exact pattern, I just have no patience and hate to measure and give much forethought to what I'm doing.  I could save myself so much time, but I prefer the sewing and swearing method!

Daisy hasn't quite figured out how to help me in the sewing room.  Gwennevere would always just lay somewhere nearby, content to just be in the room with me.  Daisy needs to either be on the project I'm working on or sticking her paws into the machine from behind as I sew.  Then she gets irritated that I'm "so boring" and leaves.

For Christmas, I got more binding clips so now I have enough to make it around the whole quilt.  What a difference from pins!  No more scratching myself or sticking myself with pins.  And the best part is that when I'm sewing the binding, I'm not sticking the pins all over the couch as I take them out!

I like the pattern and the directions so much, I will definitely make more blocks from the Farm Girl Vintage book.  Her directions and math are so spot on, it was a pleasure to follow the directions!

Linking here: 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Easy Chicken Pie

I said chicken "pie".  Notice there's no pot in it. I've never understood why anyone would call it chicken pot pie.

I'm not much for pie crusts, so chicken pie doesn't do much for me.  And I really dislike the store made chicken pies because they have too much crust and the chicken is usually too chunky.  Oh and the peas.  I like peas but not in my chicken pie.

Oh right, I just said I don't like chicken pie.

But I do like chicken "pie".  Maybe because it's faster than making a real crust.  Maybe because it tastes nothing like pie crust.  Or maybe because when I make it I am so stinking ravenous that I'd eat just about anything.

Probably it's just that it's so good, it should be outlawed in 47 states.

One day at lunch, someone was talking about making something similar, but she used phyllo dough instead of a crust or my biscuit manuever.  I don't love phyllo dough all that much either.  But she did talk about how she made the "gravy" and I'd never thought about adding some flour to thicken it.

Stand back.  The flour might have been the key  I was missing to pulling it all together.    It's delightlful when the filling gels just so.

Here's the ultra precise version of what I did.  I am sorry that I can't be more precise but I was hungry and well, I don't measure or count much when it's time to feed me.

A couple of carrots.  Mine were about the diameter of my thigh, so I think I used 3.
Celery- probably 5 stalks.  They were kind of short.
A whole yellow onion.

Saute those in some EVOO until they are somewhat soft.  Or until they smell good.  That's usually my tester.

Mix about a cup of low sodium chicken broth with about 2 tablespoons of flour and mix it well.  Pour it into the veggie mix.  Add some cooked chicken breast, probably what's left from a crockpot chicken.  I did one half of a breast of a small chicken. 

Let it cook for a few minutes.  I let it cook as I was chopping the chicken.  It kept thickening, so I kept adding broth.  So it was almost 2 cups of broth by the time I was ready to move on.  You could probably just turn down the heat or move it off the heat and not have to keep adding broth.  Or better yet, you could chop the chicken before it's time to add it so you don't have to keep adding broth or move it off the heat.

Whatever works.

Pour that into a 13x9 pan.  I wanted something deep but I didn't have anything deeper. 

Mix 1 T butter, 1 cup milk, 2 cups flour, 1 T baking powder.  It should be runny, so add more milk until it looks like this.

Pour the biscuit batter over the filling.

The recipe for the biscuits said 450 degrees for 12 minutes but it was more like 16 minutes.  Keep an eye on it after 15 minutes because you don't want it to burn but you want it cooked.

I will warn you, it's not neat and tidy like a pie when I put it on a plate.  But, I've never been one to care about presentation! 

I especially love it when the filling sneaks into the crust like this.

One of my favorite parts of an apple pie or a peach cobbler is when the crust gets a little bit like this, so of course I love it when the biscuit top gets like this too!

I was on my way home from the gym when I decided to make this.  I was starving and almost stopped to get a burrito from my favorite place, but I thought maybe this wouldn't take too long and it would be so much better for me.

I was right.  It took less than an hour for me to make it and eat it.

I can't vouch for the healthiness of this.  I used raw vegetables that were in the refrigerator, a box of low sodium chicken broth and chicken breast from a chicken that I cooked.  The biscuit has a lot less butter than suggested and I didn't put any salt in this.  Sounds pretty healthy, doesn't it?

If you can remember, you might add an herb or two but I forgot.  Plus, I usually add rosemary and I don't like rosemary and then I regret it, so this was probably a good thing to forget.  For everyone's sake.

I try to use very little salt when I cook.  K-ster is so used to it, he doesn't say much.  Once in a great while, I will add a little salt to my plate after I cook but most of the time I don't.  So, if you come to my house for supper, you might want to bring your salt shaker!

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Friday, January 1, 2016

The One Hour Basket Addiction

I think (I hope I'm not the only one) all sewers go through a phase where they think fabric baskets are cute and the solution to all kinds of organizing woes.

I've tried a few versions but I never like the results.

The One Hour Fabric Basket has been floating around instagram for a while,  and I decided this Christmas I was going to give it a whirl.

I went to and got the PDF version, but there is a tutorial here as well.  My first quest was to decide on fabric.  I've had some Bruins fabric for a while that never seems to be right for what I want to do.  It's just a cotton, very flimsy.  And I soon found out the error of my ways.  Stay tuned.

The directions suggest fusible fleece as the interfacing, so I found some at my local Joann Fabrics and got to work.

The first thing I did was set the timer to see if it really was a 1 hour basket and I am here to tell you that indeed, it took me an hour and 1 minute to make my first one.  This was with a lot of hemming and hawing before cutting, so I wasn't working super duper fast.  An experienced sewer can definitely do it in less than an hour.

I chose another cotton for the lining and made the first one just like the directions said to.  I didn't quilt it or do anything different because I was on the clock and because I didn't want to do anything special if it wasn't going to work out.

Other than my ridiculous decision to make the opening too small to easily turn everything right side out (another few minutes eaten up with the turning process because the opening was too small) it went really well, just like the directions said.

But, because of the thin fabrics and the fusible fleece not being super sturdy, I wasn't in love with it.  It was just like it was supposed to be, very easy to do, but I always want sturdier baskets.

So, I decided I needed to get something more heavy duty for interfacing and used home dec fabric.  Last year, I scored a huge haul of home dec fabric from someone at school and I thought this would be perfect for baskets.

Until I started using the fuscia on the inside and discovered that it wasn't home dec, just something stretchy.   Not really the best way to make my baskets stand up straight.

For this one, I wanted to put the handles in a different spot, kind of like a purse.  I wanted to see what it would look like and I thought it might feel more like a bag that someone would want to actually carry.

I also wanted to get fancy and do some quilting on it before I put it all together.  The handles are something we shouldn't talk about, but the bag part is really nice.  I was going to do my famous wavy quilting, but I thought maybe actual diagonal lines would be better.  And they were until they started curving.

So then, my lines became somewhat swirly and I kept the pattern going, so I think it came out great.  I was concerned that where the two pieces match up, the quilting wouldn't match, but it's really no big deal and only a highly qualified sleuth would be able to notice it.

So the handles....  I thought it would be a nice touch to quilt the handles.  But I did it in the most unprofessional way, so there are threads poking out no matter what I do.  And it's too late to take them all out and go with plain handles.  And eventually, they will all just work their way out anyway.

On to my favorite one.

I liked the placement of the handles in the middle instead of the end and after the handles debacle with the last basket, I knew exactly how I wanted to quilt the handles and make it work.

I found a very heavy Pellon that you can fuse on one side and it will stand up better than the fusible fleece.  It still isn't quite as stiff as I'd like and I did find one that was fusible on both sides and extremely heavy duty, but I was worried my machine might not sew through it or that it might poke through the fabric at the corners.

I put a strip of the new interfacing in the handles and didn't sew them closed until I had quilted.  That's what makes the different.  A big DUH moment for me.

And then, after such a nice job with the handles, I sewed the ends too close together.


Homemade means you have to leave a little something to remind them that it's not from a factory, right???

I did the wavy quilting on the outside and it was much easier to deal with than my diagonal lines on the previous basket.  There are lines on this fabric, so I realized it might make the waves harder to get away with because they might not be precise enough but like how it came out.

For this one, I used that stretchy non-home dec fabric from the other bag as the lining fabric.  I thought the stiff Pellon inside would be enough to give it sturdiness.  It does, but again, I would like it one step stiffer.  I need to stop using that stretchy fabric.

It stands up really well, but I guess I want these to be bags that you can carry around and it bothers me that the bottom pulls down when there is weight in it.

This is not the design's fault, it's entirely my expectations.

I thought the pattern was fantastic to follow, very well written with great pictures on the PDF.   I did not use the website link at all because I got everything I needed from the PDF, but a quick glance at the website tells me you could follow it really well there.

My new plan is to make the next basket higher and the straps longer so it really can be used as a bag.  I have the heavy fabric picked out and ready to go!

This was the first time I've used a pattern from craftsy and I really liked it.  Plus, it was free to members, so that was a nice bonus!

**I am in no way affiliated with craftsy except as a member of their website.  I was not asked to write any reviews for this post.  All thoughts are entirely mine.   Because who else would think like me and write about it?**

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