Posts tagged baking

Domestic Bliss

I just polished off the most delicious sandwich (leftover tofurkey with Wisconsin Colby cheese and pickles) after returning home from possible the worst driving day of the year. I went out on “Black Friday” and the traffic was nothing compared to the loonies on the road today.  After fighting to stay alive and out of a car accident, I thought I’d come home, shut myself in for the day, blog, crochet and watch movies.

Tuesday was a domestically productive day.  I simultaneously listened to christmas carols, baked kiss cookies, and made a huge lasagna for freezing. Christmas carols are new for me this year, I’m starting to be okay with some of them.  Amazon helped me along with their free holiday downloads. It was like an advent calendar that I didn’t get tempted to eat. The kiss cookies are a holiday tradition I started a few years ago. I make them for Chris and the people at his store on Christmas eve.

kisscookiesSomeday I’ll own cooling racks (and have enough counter space for them). Between batches of cookies going in and plopping kisses on the peanut butter yumminess, I made a super meaty, super cheesy lasagna for dinner and then to freeze.  It was two  layers of veggie beef scramble mixed with veggie sausage and mixed with a mushroom sauce and two layers of ricotta and mozzarella, mushrooms, and green peppers mixed with an olive sauce.  We had it with a huge salad and have plenty of leftovers!

lasagneWhen all of that kitchen work came to an end, I worked on my current cross-stitch project.  Here’s how it’s looking.

xstitch3On christmas eve, my husband and I started a new family tradition: Port Party!  We opened a delicious bottle of Daniel Gehrs Fireside Port that I got two years ago in Los Olivos. The Daniel Gehrs winery is my favorite.  I also drop a fortune when I go there. This summer my mom bought us their Tawny Port.  We’re planning on saving that to celebrate with when we buy a house.  For our Port Party we had a plate of sweets (ferrero roche truffles, chocolates, candied walnuts, and hazelnut cremes) and a plate of savory (crackers, brie spread, pepper jack cheese, and olives). It was delicious.  I dare say this is a tradition that will stick.

portpartyEarlier that day I attempted to make an apple crumble pie using this amazingly easy recipe. I got a little cocky in the kitchen, though, and decided I could eyeball the measurements. The pie turned out “a little powdery” in the words of my husband.  It was actually not bad, considering what it could have been. I just over did the flour and under did the sugar.  I highly recommend following the recipe, because even with my blunders that pie was good, so imagine how yummy the real recipe is! I added some of grandma’s candied walnuts to the crumble topping.

applecrumblepieI worked like a little crochet worker bee on my mom’s present, which isn’t finished yet.  It’s  my biggest project to date and I’m about a quarter done with it.  Here’s a photo of the blanket I’m crocheting for her.

momafghanAnd here’s my sister’s yoga bag.  She got it a few days ago, so I can show the whole thing now. I used the same pattern from Joyful Abode that I used to make mine.

bethanyyogaI finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the same day I last blogged.  We watched the movie on Christmas. I was totally unimpressed with the movie. i LOVED that book.  Chris dragged out the Half Blood Prince for me, but I had already started The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver.  She wrote We Need to Talk About Kevin, a book which still haunts me to this day. The Post-Birthday World is about a woman, Irina, an American expat living in London with her longtime partner Lawrence.  On the birthday of a friend she considers what life would be like if she kissed that friend.  The book is billed as a story about the choices we made and their good and bad repercussions.  I’m only 50 pages in, so we’ll see how it goes.  I like her writing style and I was engaged for the short time I spent reading it.



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Good Tidings

For the last 7 years, my husband and I celebrated the holiday season by buying gifts for kids whose names hung from the trees in the mall. We’d pick the older kids, because they tragically asked for necessity items, like underwear and socks.  Their wishes of survival seemed so much more immediate than the 4 year old who was asking for a Playstation. We did this because we couldn’t think of a better way to spend our money- we didn’t want a tree or decorations; and we spend all year giving to each other, so we never do presents.  

This year is different.  We’re saving for a house and money isn’t going as far as it used to after bills and groceries. So instead of buying stuff for others, we both spent time volunteering.  I went to the Los Angeles Food Bank to help sort donated food and Chris went to jail- a charity puts people in jail and has them call around to raise money for their “bail.”  We both had wonderful experiences.  Mine left me wondering why I don’t volunteer more outside of the holiday season. So I started researching different possibilities, but came upon the roadblock of many organizations are M-F 9-5. I’m considering going to the hospital that’s within walking distance of our apartment.  They ask for 40 hours, with at least 4 hour shifts.  During the weekend, that’s very doable for me, so that’s the most promising option I have.

So, in the spirit of counting my blessings this holiday season, and sharing with others what I have (this year, more time than money) here are the last of the holiday cards I’ve made for friends and family.cards1cards2cards3And some mystery gift images.  I’m hand-making gifts for my mom, sister, and father.  Here are two close-ups of what I’m working on.

mysterygift1mysterygift2I’ve also been baking up a storm, but I keep forgetting to take pictures.  Last weekend I made mint chocolate chip cookies and mom’s peanut butter cups.  The weekend before that I made sugar cookies.  Later today I’m making kiss cookies. I’ve gotten in the habit of baking for Chris’s employees, so I send most to work with him, bring some to work for my colleagues, and we keep some at home. Yum!

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Baby, Baby, Baby

This week has been particularly rough, which had led me to come home and take solace in my projects. I know they’re children who are still learning and trying to find themselves.  But does that have to include violence? But this conversation is for my other blog.

My coworker had her baby yesterday, so her blanket isn’t quite finished, but it’s coming along nicely, considering I began just last weekend.  This photo shows it at about 18×18 in. I’ll do three more rounds of the pink, 5 more of the white and a border of pink.  It should end up about 35×35 total. I think it’s really beautiful and it’s so simple.  You make your favorite crochet square and then double crochet around and put 5 DC in each corner, which adds 4 stitches to each side per round. SO easy!

And here’s my latest cross-stitch.  I had to put it aside most of the week to make some progress on the baby blanket. I also forgot to take multiple photos, so this is after maybe 2 nights work.

I did make macaroons, as I said in the last post.  I’m using the word “macaroons” lightly here, because they’re not so traditional.  I found a recipe online that was so much simpler than all the others- none of this beating eggs until they’re stiff and sifting things in gradually.  The recipe I found was 1 bag sweetened coconut, 1 can sweetened condensed milks, 1 tablespoon vanilla.  drop on greased pan and bake at 350 for 8 minutes.  They started burning on the bottom, so I reduced cooking time.  I also added mini chocolate chips.  So not so much macaroons as sticky coconut and chocolate bites.

And lastly, the bento of the week. Olive bread, brie, peanut butter mochi in the big section, green beans, radishes, dried mushrooms, on top, and greek yogurt with honey and strawberries in the bottom section. Letting the honey sit on the yogurt all day until lunch makes it really yummy and the strawberries get really juicy, which mixes in. Yum!

Oh! and a macaroon.

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Wow.  This past week flew by. School’s back in session, which means the from scratch, home-cooked meals have been put on hiatus until I can resume a relatively livable schedule. Luckily, there is salad, eggs, and bread.  We’ve eaten any combinations of those three things everyday now for over a week. My coffee consumption has double- one in the morning, one in the afternoon- to get me through the days.  School is great, though.  The kids are fantastic, my room looks great, I like my schedule. I’m just trying to remember how to live as a working woman, rather then a relaxed vacationing woman. Here’s a lunch I packed of olive bread, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and fruit- again salad and bread.

One thing I haven’t given up is my crafting.  I spend a little time each night, after dinner either cross-stitching or crocheting.  I’m in the middle of two crochet projects.  That blue baby blanket is just about finished. It’s my goal for today. I also bought a very complicated counted cross-stitch project.  I’ve been taking progressive pictures of it.  I won’t tell you what it is, or post a picture of the packaging just yet, so you can follow along with my progressing.  I’m working only in one general area of the canvas right now, so one of the shapes is starting to flesh out. I’m loving this project.  I find is insanely relaxing and meditative to read from key and count where things go.  It’s like a logic puzzle- like sudoku, only at the end you get a pretty picture!

I’ve been awful about keeping up with my reading.  I missed my last book club meeting because we flew back from vacation that day;  but I did finish the book, Any Human Heart by William Boyd.  I loved it.  It’s written as the journals of writer Logan Mountstuart and follows him from his last years in his English high school to his death. The details and humor were captivating.

I’m about 200 pages away from finishing Middlesex. Still loving it!

I made some banana bread last night.  Our bananas were turning black, so I thought I’d remedy that.  We didn’t have any eggs though (because we’d already eaten through 8 this week) so I googled “eggless banana bread.”  I came up with this recipe from Baking Bits. It’s easy and the bread turned out pretty good. I like my regular go-to recipe a little better, but this wasn’t bad for when there are no eggs in the house.

It’s likely I won’t update again until next weekend- my husband is out of town and I’m trying to make evening plans so that I don’t end up at school until 8 or 9 every night. So, have a great week!

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