Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday Night Cooking & Crafting

Let's start with the cooking.  Reuben's are a favorite of mine, but are tricky for us to enjoy together as gluten free bread just isn't that great (as I've mentioned before).  I have been hooked on Arby's Reuben sandwiches (yes they do corn beef as well as they do roast beef) for about a month now and wanted to find a way to create a dinner we could both enjoy, so I enlisted some Quinoa pasta and made Reuben Pasta last night:

That's the sauerkraut in the purple strainer in the back.  I didn't have a recipe, I mean there probably is a recipe out there in the world of "interwebs" for Reuben Pasta (or something of the like), but this is what I did, no recipe, no measurements, just freestyle!

I got the pasta in salted boiling water, then heated some extra virgin olive oil in a pan.  I sliced the corn beef thinly and separated the strips to brown (and warm up) in the heated oil.  Once warm, I added the sauerkraut (I didn't use my entire can of sauerkraut - it's really one of those things that is "to taste" depending on how much you loooooooooove sauerkraut).  I added about 1/3-1/2 of the bottle of Thousand Island dressing to the corn beef sauerkraut mixture while it was still on the stove just to make sure everything was heated through.  Once the pasta was drained I added it back to the pot with the corn beef mixture and tossed with about 1/2-3/4 cup shredded swiss cheese.

Once plated I did top with additional swiss (cause you can't have too much cheese!).  We also had apple cider with dinner last night.  We're already on our 3rd gallon of the season, at least - it might be my favorite part of fall!

Dinner was yummy (as were the left overs for lunch about 20 min ago).  Not exactly like having a Reuben but YUMMY!  Next time I think I would use a 2nd pack of corn beef, it did get a little lost in all that pasta!

On to the crafting portion of my evening - I made GREAT progress on the Eggplant Infinity version 2.0:

That's not just the pile of frogged yarn, but the entire Vanna's Choice skein - all crocheted last night!  I love  nights like last night with 2 full hours of Dancing with the Stars!  This means 2 full hours of crocheting (it's how Jonathan got a surprise crochet blanket for Christmas last year, I crocheted like a crazy person for 2 hours every Monday while he was in class!)  I will admit that it's not 100% 2 full hours because the dancer in me has to stop crocheting while they dance to focus (and critique) what's going on!  Tonight I need to make sure I have another skein of this yarn in my stash because I'm out of yarn and the scarf is definitely not done!  It needs to be wrapped and with me on Friday morning when I get to work, so I really hope that I don't lose tonight to crochet and have to go to AC Moore tomorrow night after work - I'll definitely be down to the wire!

Oh!  I'm also using Marie Anne's pattern that's proven over and over again to be a favorite of mine!  If I have enough purple in my stash when I get home tonight, I'd love to make the hat to match for this friend of mine - finishing the scarf tonight/tomorrow night is the only way they're will ever be enough time for both before Friday morning!

Let me backtrack quickly before leaving you today (to go back to my day job) - anyone  watching this season of Dancing with the Stars?  What does everyone thing of this season's contestants?  Most improved this week 1?  And do you think Nancy Grace showed more boob that we all signed up for by the end of her routine?

Monday, September 26, 2011

I'll be quick!

First of all, a big thanks to Debi Y. for the spotlight on my blog today!  It was a great surprise to read all the nice things she had to say while eating my lunch - THANK YOU THANK YOU!

Quick recap on the weekend (before getting back to work):

  1. Spent Saturday morning at the DMV getting a new driver's license.  All things considered it wasn't too painful, they're pretty efficient in Maryland and we were out of there in about 90 min from opening.  The remainder of Saturday was spent on my weekly Wegmans trip, napping and a rare night out for a friend's birthday.
  2. I'm still fighting off this cold and spent a good part of Sunday on the couch - some of this time was spent crocheting (made great progress on a gift that I hope to get in the mail tomorrow) and even more was spent frogging last  night.  The "destruction" of the Eggplant Infinity didn't come until later in the evening, after I spent a couple of hours picking up, doing laundry and scrubbing my bathroom.  After Jonathan and I had dinner, I curled up on the couch to work on said scarf and well....something happened.  I don't know what or when or why exactly but the stitch was no longer working up like it had been.  I ripped out 2 very  long rows and repeated them - still not right.  In a moment of frustration I ended up with a controlled pile of purple yarn at my feet and I was starting from scratch.  I went back to a favorite pattern instead of trying to be innovative with my own version.  Now of course, I need to work at warp speed since I only have until Friday before this needs to be gifted....
Good thing DWTS is for 2 hours tonight - I'll take pictures of my progress by morning to share.

Hope everyone had a great weekend - Happy Monday!

Friday, September 23, 2011


No, I don't have any pictures of my week night progress to share today....last night I actually did the opposite of making progress on my current WIPs, I started something new!  I'm still "blaming" my DNA for these horrible habits!

I meant to take a picture of the little brown circle that was started yesterday evening, but I was running a bit late this morning and forgot!  Oh well, it's a gift for someone so I probably shouldn't be sharing here until I know it's been received by the recipient - don't want to spoil the surprise if they happen to read about my crafties!

I have, on the other hand, been making good progress in all that goes into a name change after getting married - I've got my new SS card and my work email has finally be changed...tomorrow morning we'll be at the MD DMV 5 min before they open in hopes that getting my new driver's license doesn't take all day!  Then it's home to clean clean clean! As always, I'll be sure to find sometime to crochet on breaks ;-)

Happy Friday everyone!  What are you up to this weekend?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I'd rather be crocheting

Who would want to get up and go to work if you woke up with a migraine and saw this:

There are buildings in past that fog....it should look more like this:

I got a cup of coffee and forced myself to get ready for my day, but not without taking a few minutes of procrastination to take pictures of the projects I'd rather be working on!

Not too much progress has been made on the Eggplant Infinity - I did no crocheting during the Emmy's on Sunday or Glee last night (which is fairly out of character - I blame this cold I'm still fighting).  About 2 more rows have been done, I was obviously more myself on Monday during DWTS

 It's hard to see much, I know - my lighting attempts did not go as planned...

The desk lamp worked well to show the detail up close though - it's almost like a thick ribbing, I'm liking my sort of newly created stitch that I'm using!

I also did work on my CAL cowl back on Friday night and I forgot to post my progress!  This is after the first skein of yarn.  I don't plan on needing the full 2nd skein, the recipient of this gift will not want something extra long for fashion purposes so I'm only going to go long enough to easily wrap it around your neck twice.  It's cold in WNY in the winter, you need something nice and warm around your neck!

I've also been timing myself while making the cowl.  Not a "how many days until completed", but "how many minutes/hours do I spend crocheting before it's done".  It's going well and I think I'll be averaging about what I would assume it takes me to crochet a scarf.  After every blanket I've ever made I always wished I'd kept track of the hours I put into it so this is my first step to doing that in the future!

Those are my WIPs this week - what are you working on?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekend Failures

This past weekend was one of those where when I woke up this morning I look back and wish I could have a do over.  I had so many great plans set in my head of all the work I was going to get done this weekend and ZERO actually got done!  The laundry didn't get done, the picking up didn't get done, the cleaning didn't get done - all I did was spend 85% of the time laying on the couch watching Grey's on Netflix.  I spent about 20% of that time crocheting and 40% of it sleeping.  I'm trying to fight off my first cold of the season and thought resting would help - I woke up still stick this morning.  I also woke up this morning mad at myself because the apartment is still a mess and I was the one with total control over whether or not it was going to look that way this morning.  I hate being disappointed in myself.

I find cleaning on week nights to be tricky.  First, I get up at 5:30 each morning and don't get home from work until about 6:30 each night (the glamorous life commuting in a big city...).  By the time I change out of my suit, cook dinner, eat said dinner and clean up the mess in the kitchen who has time to start cleaning the bathrooms or bleaching the fridge or run back and forth from the laundry room just to turn around and spend another 9 hours at my desk with 90 min of commuting the following day????  Not me, that's who!

I'll take that last statement back, I'm going to try my best to do some work this week.  I'm ready for my apartment to be back in order after the wedding/honeymoon/other August traveling.

I also have not been successful in figuring out that stitch from my Friday night post!  I've looked through many of my books and online stitch dictionaries for a clue but no luck there either!  I've created a variation of a stitch that I use a lot instead.  It's not really at all what I thought this project was going to look like in the end, but I still like it for what it is.  Maybe someday I'll find a note from last Christmas in WNY about that black infinity scarf!

My Eggplant Infinity looks like this so far:

This is all Sunday morning work on the couch (it's longer than this - about 60").  I'd planned on working on this through out the Emmy's last night, but thanks to my final "failure" of the weekend, I was too annoyed to do anything.

I've sort of been dreaming about making this Cake Batter Ice Cream since I read about it.  I'd already purchased the GF cake mix to bake a cake for last night's dessert, but thought homemade ice cream (that Jonathan could also eat) would be MUCH more fun.  Well, I never had anything other than soup (which I angrily poured down my kitchen sink at 11:30 p.m. last night).  My ice cream core was frozen (in the freezer for about 20 hours) and the mix was cold.  90 minutes later it was still soup and the engine in my ice cream maker was warm enough from running so long that my core was starting to thaw.  I couldn't tell you what went wrong.  This has never happened to me when making ice cream in the past.  The only thing I can think of is that maybe the GF cake mix vs. regular made a difference - though I can't figure out how that stopped the milk and half and half from still doing it's thing!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Requesting a little help

Does anyone have any clue what stitch I could have used on the above scarf?  I've looked through my blog and tried about 3 different stitches thinking I was right, only to be wrong and left frogging 3 rows once more.  It is some sort of double/single/hdc crochet - chain - skip pattern of sorts, but I just can't nail it yet...so HELP!!!  pretty please?

I want to duplicate it for a collegue and I need it to be done in liked 2 weeks - definitely don't have the time I need to look through old notes and patterns to find a clue.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Crafty Dinners

Now that JGW is working full time and taking 3 classes this semester, I'm responsible for  making dinners.  The only other time I've had to do this was while unemployed 2 1/2 years ago and I have 2 things to say:
1.  I was SO spoiled having my dinner cooked for me everynight!
2.  I find it really challenging to come up with 5 dinners each week - it's only week 2, and this week was the first week where I had to do all 5 nights...patethic I know, but I'm trying.

2 nights ago I decided to start posting pictures of what I made that night on FB to see if I would get any responses from my friends regarding the yummy foods I made this week.  Most of them don't look as yummy as they are, but they've all turned out great!  After last night's picture upload, I had some postive responses just off the picture so I wanted to share my recipe - mostly because I started with a recipe I found online, and then modified it as I went:

Here's what I did:

Inside-out Lasagna
HollyLouise, September 14, 2011

8 oz. dry pasta
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 (14.5) oz. can mushrooms
Salt and pepper
2 (14.5) cans tomatoes with Italian Herbs (I used Hunts diced tomatoes with garlic, basil and oregano) – can sweeten with sugar if needed…I used 2 packets of Splenda per can
1 frozen package of whole spinach leaves, thawed and fully drained
Crushed red pepper to taste
1 (15 oz.) container of skim milk ricotta cheese
Parmesan cheese

1.      Cook pasta until its al dente, drain.
2.      Sauté onion, garlic power, and salt in olive oil over medium heat until onions begin to turn translucent.  Add mushrooms, additional salt (if needed), and pepper - continue to cook (at medium high) until mushrooms are heated through.  Stir in crushed red pepper flakes if using, I used ~1/8 tsp.
3.      Add spinach, one can of tomatoes, ¾ of container of ricotta and Parmesan to taste (about ¼ cup).  Keep over medium high heat until ricotta starts to melt and all ingredients are fully combined.
4.      Add drained pasta to large pot or bowl, top with spinach mixture, and 2nd can of tomatoes - stir until fully combined.
5.      If desired, add spoonfuls or remaining ricotta to top of each bowl.

YIELD: 4 servings

I will admit that I didn't actually use the 2nd can of tomatoes last night.  The original recipe doesn't call for it, so I didn't buy more than one at Giant.  I ended up putting in half when I was cooking everything and then added the 2nd half when I mixed it all at the end.  The Hunt's diced tomoatoes were just so yummy and fresh tasting that I wanted to keep some of that flavor.  I think that becaue I opted to add ricotta to the mixture (because I LOVE ricotta and wanted more in the dish - I mean it's cheese, who doesn't LOVE cheese?!?!), it was a little dry.  The 2nd can will totally solve this issue next time!

It also made enough for both of us to have a generous dinner last night, and each have a filling lunch today!  I'm sad now that it's gone, so I'll just have to make it again.  Like I said doesn't look amazing, but it's Y-U-M-M-Y!!!

My final thought is how great this is as a gluten free option.  For those of you who don't know, JGW found out he is allergic to wheat/gluten about 15 months ago.  This has proven to be a very challenging change to our eating habits.  I still eat gluten, mostly in my lunches (cause I can), but what is cooked for dinner and what restuants we go to if we go out to eat all focuses on GF options.  Bread is the one things they just don't do well in GF.  Tapioca rolls are okay he says, but they're dry - actual BREAD bread just doesn't happen anymore.  Even pasta proved challenging at first.  There are a LOT of options in the Gluten Free aisle of the grocery store, but many that advertise cooking to al dente and not being gummy are, in a word, disguting!  We're had a lot of trail and even more error in the past 12 months to find good pasta options!  The answer is Ancient Harvest Quinoa pastas!!  They have the biggest selection of pasta shape and cook up the closest to al dente w/o becoming gummy, gooey mush.  Lasagna noodles are a big pain in the @ss with or without gluten so this dish to me is truly the best of both worlds!

Make it for your family, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

up at 4 a.m.?

Ever wake up long before your alarm is set to go off?  You spend another 20+ minutes laying there in the dark trying to fall back to sleep...you finally do and what feels like 30 seconds later your alarm goes off and your 10x more tired than you were when you first woke up at 4 a.m.?

Yea, I had one of those mornings....awake at 4 because my arm had fallen asleep, and laid there for a good 15 min waiting for my arm and shoulder to go back to feeling like normal.  I remember seeing 4:15 on my phone and thinking, "I should probably just get up."  I mean by then I was wide awake from waiting to see if my arm was ever going to feel normal again, and I thought why not just get up, get ready and sit and crochet while watching TV?  Well I ended up falling back asleep and when my alarm went off at 5 I felt like death from my 45 min nap.  I snoozed until 5:50 and still had to peel myself out of bed.

By the time I left for work I was feeling human again, but I was really sad that not only had I not crocheted last night, but the opportunity had sort-of been there to crochet this morning and I napped through it...

Oh well, there's always tonight to show my yarn and hook some love!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Do you think it's genetic?

My mom and I have joked for years about the number of "projects" my Grannie starts, or purchased over the years w/o finishing the one she's currently working on.  I seem to have picked up this trait from her for I often find myself thinking about the next thing I want to make before the project I'm working on is finished!  What's worse is when I let these thoughts get the best of me and I put down when I'm currently working on/finishing and go find new yarn from the closet!  This past weekend is the perfect example of this:

Now don't be fooled.  The ends have not been woven in, and it has not yet been blocked.  All I did was tuck in ends where they could not be seen, and placed it nicely for an early morning photo opportunity.  I LOVE the colors and think the pattern turned out great, which is why I wanted to share today.  I just think that the fact that it's 80 degrees and sunny here today means I'm not dying to wear this like I was over Labor Day when it was 50 and rainy in WNY.  That, and I hate weaving in ends!

Once I got my fall scarf off the hook on Saturday morning, I quickly pulled out my new "Guilder blue" yarn.  I love this shade of blue - hell I'm wearing it right now!  Ok, I'm sure many of you, well all of you who are NOT from Jamestown, NY are saying to yourself, "what the hell is Guilder blue?!?"  This! - below, this is my beloved Guilder blue:

Fine - call it Royal blue if you want to, but my brain doesn't associate those words with a color as well as Guilder blue does!  After all the ugly attempts I made to produce a fall scarf with ILTY, I'd all but given up on having a Guilder blue scarf.  Then, over Labor Day I was in Walmart and saw the above Red Heart Shimmer - a light bulb went off right there in the craft department and I knew I'd found just what I needed!  I'd been thinking about hook size, pattern and width all last week while I was "finishing" up the scarf above and I'd barely set that one down before I'd pick this up and starting chaining to my desired width!  I actually think that after a testing of proper length on the first scarf in the bathroom mirror, I stopped and found the new yarn on my way back to the couch to add a few more rows!  The Red Heart Shimmer is working up nicely in my favorite pattern from Marie Anne.  I think I chained 30 (or maybe it was 40...can't remember) instead of the suggested 20 and I think it's gonna be great!  I even sent my mom to pick up more in the same dye lot and ship to me so I could keep the color the same.  Unfortunately, this is a bit difficult to work on at night.  The lighting in my living room is just not bright enough for the darker color, finer yarn and H hook.  This means I only can work on it Saturday and Sunday mornings sooooooooooooooooooo

I naturally started working on something else last night!  I know, it's a sickness, medication should be administered.  I dug this yarn out of my stash on Saturday night when I realized I couldn't see the Guilder blue in the evening, and I have probably tried 15 different patterns, hooks, widths, etc and hated every one of them!  I'm still not 100% on this, but am hoping that as I go it gets less bumpy (and that blocking in the end will also help).  This is actually what I'm using for the Crochet Along (CAL) that I signed up for.  Ok, so I'm already a week a head of Rachel's schedule, but I already know how to crochet, and I had the pattern sitting on the couch with  me last night (addicts always have a reason for the way they act right?).  I just couldn't get the Red Heart "berries" variegation to look nice with anything else so I gave it a try.  Actually, I first tried with 2 strands (because I happen to have 2 skeins of this) with an N, then M, then K hook before deciding I hated it.  I frogged it and started single strand with my favorite K.  No, it's not really the pattern for the CAL, but I struggled through finding a way that I liked the pattern, and the yarn so I find that a plus.  It's also going to be a perfect birthday/Christmas gift for someone I know who loves "raspberry"!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Weekend Projects

Being my first weekend in town since July, most of my weekend was spent trying to get the apartment back in order.  I didn't even step outside from the moment I got home from work Friday night, until I left for work this morning (thanks in part to our balcony still being non-existent).  On Friday night I crocheted and Saturday morning as well - I completed the fall scarf and started my next one.  Thanks to all the work I had in front of me around the apartment, the completed one has yet to have the ends woven in or be blocked and no pictures were taken (mostly because there isn't really a clean space to take pictures...still)

Saturday's other big, unanticipated project was the study.  It needed to be cleaned (and by cleaned I mean everything in the before picture below needed to be put into other rooms so that JGW can use the room for studying...)

The dreaded before shot - this is what life looks like when you work crazy hours, commute even crazier hours, plan a wedding and then spend 5 straight weekends not at home!  ugh

The unloading of "stuff" was the big piece, what was unanticipated was finding the radiator and bottom of the desk covered in mold...so the room was gutted, things were bleached and after discussing how we wanted to rearrange the room, it was put back together again!

My after photos are below and after a couple of "options" with the furniture, it really does look nice (now that I'm used to it!)

Other plants have been added and the desk now looks like it's being used, but all and all it still looks like this 36 hours later!

If I had taken a picture of my living room this a.m. it would look almost identical to the before picture above!  Almost everything is sitting in the living room waiting for me to go through it all.  The mold project took way too much time and left me almost in tears with back pain most of yesterday.  I did some bathroom organizing and finished cleaning up the bedroom so Sunday wasn't a complete wash - just a lot of work still ahead of me!  Between small steps taken at night this weekend and some seriously effort this coming Saturday, I'm hoping to be in good shape - at least good enough to be able to have Crafty Sunday again!

Maybe JGW will let me photograph my finished scarf and started projects from his lovely study this evening :-)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Fall Scarf

All it took was a day off from work for the "unofficial" last day of summer for the weather to turn to FALL!  I'm not complaining though - after 90+ temps on Saturday and Sunday back home with no a/c I fully am welcoming this cooler weather!  I barely mind the rain (mostly because I'm indoors all day anyway!), and my trench coat made it's first fall appearance this morning....probably looked pretty ridiculous in a dress with flip flops too, but figured the sneakers would have been too much ;-)

I gave up on the blue version of my fall scarf over the weekend because I still didn't love it (even after trying 3 or 4 other stitches since my last post).  I was also in the Lakewood Walmart on Saturday and had my first, surprise introduction to Red Heart With Love.  Just slightly differently color variety than RHSS, but much softer - closer to how I remember RHSS being in the past, and almost as soft as ILTY.  I picked up the last 2 skeins in Waterlily that they had and came home to start creating!

I ended up using part of a pattern I'd seen online and a pen and paper to come up with my stitch!  First time I've ever done something like this, but I don't know that I can really call it my own pattern - so I won't be sharing here but I've taken detailed notes for future use.  I'm calling it a "Grannie Scarf"

We drove back to MD yesterday, late...neither of us wanted to leave and we milked our last day at home until about 3:40 when we got on the road.  Luckily our new route through the back roads of PA get us here in 6 1/2-7 hours so it wasn't too terrible.  Unfortunately the back roads mean that I can't crochet or read all that much while JGW is driving....I did get about 12 solid miles of crocheting in while on I-80E, but then it was my turn to drive in all the lovely rain:

We got into SS around 10:30, got the Jeep unpacked, I showered and put away all food that came back with us in record speed, just so I could have a few minutes to crochet before crashing.  I probably only spent about 15 min before I could no longer hold my head up.  I took the picture below of my progress this morning, not the best light with our gloomy skies (my cell phone flash just washed half of the beautiful colors out on my first attempt)

Maybe there will be a break in the clouds this weekend - I hope to have it done by then so I can enjoy it this fall...plus I got some lighter weight "Guilder blue" yarn that I think I'll be able to use for my initial attempt at a fall scarf!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fall scarf - suggestions welcome!

I would love to make a "lofty" scarf to wear this fall before I get the heavy stuff out!  I'm looking to do something with worsted weight that will crochet up quickly.

This is what I came up with this morning before work with some ILTY and my fav. K hook....

don't know if I love it quite yet and am looking for suggestions on an easy pattern to use.  We're driving up to WNY tomorrow afternoon so something that could be worked on while in the car would be the best!

Pattern ideas are welcome :o)