Yesterday, when I answered Molly's simple question about magazines, I laughed when I realized that four of the six I receive are about food (Everyday Food, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Food and Wine) and one always has some good food in it (Martha Stewart Living). Even number six (House Beautiful) has recipes in it. Add to that a huge collection of cook books and you might think I like to cook. And I do! Both Fatty and I enjoy spending time in the kitchen and we love to try interesting taste combinations and new recipes. The problem is the kids. Like many other moms, I struggle to find nutritious meals that are kid friendly and still satisfy grown up tastes. The pre-dinner hour is normally hectic so I like meals during the week to be basic enough for me to manage it in a small amount of hands on time. I can tackle the fussier recipes and exotic ingredients on the weekend.
Right now, we have two meals in our rotation that everyone loves. The first is Tuscan Lemon Chicken from Ina Garten's Back to Basics cookbook. The second is Chicken Tacos from the October 2008 issue of Everyday Food. After making both of these recipes numerous times, I have tweaked them to suit our family and can now make both of them without consulting the recipes. Here is what I do.
1 whole chicken cut into eight pieces, bone in, skin on
(You can use whatever pieces you prefer - we sometimes just choose thighs)
2 or 3 lemons
1/3 c olive oil
a couple sprigs of rosemary, chopped
4 or more cloves of garlic, chopped
The night before make the marinade by combining the zest of two lemons with the olive oil and 1/3 cup lemon juice. Add the rosemary, garlic and pepper. (I use freshly ground pepper and totally eyeball it - I'm guessing it's about 1/2 tsp.). Generously salt the chicken and place in a shallow dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken and refrigerate overnight.
Pull the chicken out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you are ready to cook it. In the cookbook, Ina calls for grilling, but we roast it in the oven. I turn my oven to 425 degrees on convection bake and roast for 40 to 45 minutes.
We often use any leftovers for a salad or for sandwiches. Emily makes hers with parsley instead of rosemary and she grills it. Super easy and really tasty, even for my pickiest eater.
Chicken Tacos adapted from Everyday Food, October 2008
(original recipe here)
1.5 to 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 c roasted tomato jarred salsa (I buy the Frontera Grill Roasted Tomato at Whole Foods)
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp. chile powder
salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, coating the chicken. Cook in a slow cooker for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. When the chicken is finished, shred with two forks and serve with your favorite taco toppings.
I often eat this on top of lettuce with salsa and a side of black beans and rice. Leftovers make great quesadilla filling.
So there you have it- two sure-fire crowd pleasers. What are yours?
Thanks for all the birthday wishes - it was a fantastic day! It included lunch out with Fatty, a trip to the garden store to pick up veggies, a home cooked dinner and margaritas finished off with chocolate cake and a little impromptu party. Very very fun! The weekend continued to be great - some gardening, a barbecue at my brother's, a cobbler and homemade ice cream, the pool, a soccer game and plenty of napping rounded it out.
School is winding down - the girls have about a week left. They came home without homework which was so nice. For the first time ever, I am excited that school is over. I am ready for some down time, for no homework and a later bedtime. I have never felt this way before. I have always dreaded the end of the school year. I know - it sounds awful, but it's the truth. Summer is always a big push and pull with the three of us. We have to balance three sets of have to's and want to's. I don't know that this summer will be much different, but if having a better attitude will guarantee some measure of success, then sign me up.
I've been sewing, but really have nothing to show for it. I made a skirt that is waaaaay too big and am working on my craft swap project. Hopefully, I will be able to show and tell soon. I brought my sewing machine down to the family room so I can hang out in the relative cool-ness of the downstairs. I absolutely refuse to turn the air conditioning on until June 1 and hanging out in the little closet on the third floor is not so fun. Of course, I may change my tune once the temp hits the high 80's. We'll see. The bonus is TV while I sew. Anything you care to recommend for our Netflix queue?
All right, enough of this rambling. See you soon.
I finished the edging on those 12 granny squares. I need to make more.
Fatty and I built some raised garden beds last night. I spent today tracking the sun to make sure we place them in the *perfect* spot.
I ran out of potting soil for the geraniums and impatiens. I went and bought more and picked up a new hammer while I was at Home Depot
I went to the bank and the post office then stopped by the bookstore to see if they had the new issue of Stitch. They did. There are some projects I definitely want to try. I was happy to see that one is by Melissa.
I took the girls for haircuts - a nice summer bob for Kate, a trim for Jane.
I cut out a skirt and am ready to start sewing .
And just when I thought I had that silly cat all figured out, she decided that peonies are not for her.
I have a good number of unfinished projects sitting around. I get all excited about starting something new so I gather the supplies and get a good start only to be waylaid by yet another new and exciting project. It's not that I don't want to finish what I started - it's that when I get tired of something or it isn't working, it's sometimes easier to set the project aside and move on to something different. Case in point: the granny square blanket.
I started this a little less than two years ago and have picked it up from time to time. I packed it up to take to jury duty last month, but it just sat in its tote bag hanging on the mudroom pegs because I never had to go to the court house. On the way out the door Friday afternoon, I grabbed it for our road trip. And wouldn't you know, I like making granny squares again.
I crocheted the better part of 12 squares on our trip. I say better part because they all need their green border. I pulled out the stack of squares previously made and was pretty amazed to count 37 completely finished. I hope to finish up the others while in the carpool line these last two weeks of school. I'm not sure how many I need. I had originally thought 77 squares, but that seems huge. No matter - I will lay them all out and if 49 is not enough, then I will figure out just how many more I need and make them.
They will get crocheted together with the lighter green yarn. That seems like a good project for watching TV. Come fall, I plan on cuddling up with my new blanket.
I'm just not going to think about weaving in all those ends.
School is out in two weeks.
The strawberries should be ripe right about then.
Then come the raspberries. And the blackberries. And the black raspberries.
I'm ready for the you-pick bonanza, the jam sessions that will follow and the sweet bursts of summer in my mouth.
Melissa just listed some berry bowls yesterday. If you plan on eating lots of berries, you might want to buy one before they are gone. I love mine - use it all year round and not just for berries. It's seen grapes and even small batches of pasta. Super handy and so well made.
We're off on a road trip. Happy weekend, all.
In November, I went to Denyse Schmidt's workshop and it was an a amazing experience. Denyse just wrote about the class on the Purl Bee the other day. You can read about my experience here and see a quilt I made using the technique I learned here. For Christmas, Fatty gave me a gift certificate for Denyse's Advanced Improv class so the two of us took a trip to New York last weekend so I could cash it in.
The whole idea behind the advanced improv class is to take an idea and to develop it into a plan for a quilt. I struggled for many weeks about what to actually work on in this class. What it came down to in the end was what I had on hand. And what I have is a HUGE stack of Heather Bailey fabrics to use for Jane. I was planning to make her a zig zag quilt, but never started it. So, I chose the one large-scale floral that her room colors are based on and started buying solids to go with it. I want something suit a 9 year old and a 19 year old, something she won't outgrow before it's even finished.
The night I made the homework blocks, they didn't seem that bad. It was late, I was (over)tired and put them in pile, happy to have that bit of business finished. The next day, after I took this photo, I knew it was bad. Really bad. And the one block that I didn't like while I was piecing them, was the one I liked the best of all. When I say best, that is an exaggeration - it was like the least offending of all four. I didn't have any spare time to do them over or even make another two.
At the studio on Saturday, I showed my blocks and inspiration fabric to Denyse, Richard (her teaching partner) and my two fellow classmates. I explained why I chose these colors and who the quilt would be for. I went through the laundry list of things I didn't like: the proportion was off; the dark pink really, really bothered me (and everyone else!); the rest of the pink wasn't much better; I felt I needed more neutrals (maybe a brown?). What I did like about these blocks was that there were "L" shapes made by strips of continuous colors in all of them. The repetition of that pattern was really appealing to me. The somewhat monochromatic blue/green/yellow block was the one I liked best and I wonder aloud if maybe I should take the pink out all together or separate it somehow.
After some consultation, I started sketching a bit and playing with fabric. Denyse and Richard pulled bolts of different solids and we compared them to the ones I had. We picked a few more yellows to add in - a pale butter, a bright lemon and a mustard - along with a second lime green and a second ivory. We talked about cutting up the floral fabric to use it as a solid. Then I started sewing.
I liked my first block and used it as a starting point to make other blocks. I made some blue blocks, some pink blocks, and per Denyse's suggestion, an ivory one. I took Richard's suggestion and used the Heather Bailey fabric as a print in some places and as a solid in others. I strategically cut it to get pieces that were mostly pink or green or yellow or just the background alone. I repeated the "L" shape in all the blocks and used the ivory for continuity. Five blocks into this project, I like where it is going. I like the log cabin-ish centers and the small (well, small for me) scale of the blocks. The muted yellows, especially the mustard, help ground all those easter egg pastels and tone down that dark pink.
I haven't worked on it any more since I have been home. I have been letting the process and the ideas percolate a bit. I am going to keep at it, though. I think I will have to make at least four more blocks to see if I can make this quilt come together the way I want. I will be pulling some other prints from my stash to see if I can add a few more bits of interest and texture. If it doesn't come together, that is ok, too. I am learning so much about myself as an artist just through the process. That alone is enough.
A big thank you to Denyse and Richard. You guys are great inspiration and a lot of fun! I appreciate your feedback and encouragement. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you come up with another class. I'd love to come back!
Good morning. Care for a cup of coffee?
Are you familiar with Polka Dot Cottage? Lisa makes incredible buttons and jewelry out of polymer clay. When I say incredible, I mean incredible. I am amazed at what she does. Awhile back, Lisa asked me if I would take part in her big button challenge. Sure, why not? So she sent me a button and I was to make something using the button. The result: french press cozy.
Honestly, I was planning on making a tufted pillow, but Sarah beat me to the punch. Have you seen hers? It's stunning! I thought about making a coffee cup cozy. When I was telling Emily my reservations about making yet another coffee cozy (not much of a challenge in my mind), she suggested a french press cozy. Perfect! I whipped it up the next day.
I followed my own coffee cozy directions except that the french press cozy is just a long rectangle. I measured the circumference of the pot with a string - high tech, I know - and cut a linen rectangle and a piece of insulated batting 1.25 inches longer and 1 inch higher than the measurements. For the outside fabric, I used a Japanese cheater print that I bought from Leslie and a small piece of linen so the button would pop. I really like how it turned out.
I'm just about ready to pour my third cup this morning. I am completely exhausted from our weekend in New York. I feel like I am suffering from some kind of sensory overload. My mind is overflowing with inspiration and ideas and I am seeing quilt squares when I close my eyes. I'm going to take a day or two to settle back in to our routine and to get some rest. See you in a couple of days.
Really, that is about all I can say. Well, that and thank you to all of those who supported my shop. I am completely flabbergasted, humbled and just plain excited all at the same time. For those of you who have emailed asking if there will be more camera straps for sale, the answer is YES! I am not sure exactly when - at least a month, maybe two. I will keep you all posted via the blog. Again, thanks. You guys made my day!
I should be in bed seeing that I need to be up in about 5 hours to catch a flight. I'm still packing, too. Ahem.
I threw together some quilt blocks last night. I'm feeling so-so about at least 1/2, maybe 3/4 of them. If all things go as planned, I'll come back Monday with a better plan.
That's right. I'm going back. Hope you have a fantastic weekend!
Hi. How have you all been?
Life is busy at the moment. Really busy. There is so much going on that I don't even know where to start. Kid stuff, shop stuff, craft stuff, house stuff and on and on. I don't know what I was thinking when I chose this week to open the shop. Actually, I don't think I was thinking. Doesn't matter - the camera straps are all made. And tomorrow is still the day. I'll post here and on flickr as soon as the shop opens its virtual doors.
Yeah - I'm a total tease.
I promise that I'll have some different, meaning not camera strap related, and exciting things to share next week. Well, exciting if you like quilts and patchwork and stuff like that.
I'm also thinking about putting in some raised garden beds. If I can't build them until the 20th or so, is that too late? What do you gardening ladies think?
OK - back at it. I've still got work to do. Shop work and maybe a blog spruce up if there is time. Busy busy busy.
I finally made up my mind. The shop will open on Wednesday.
There will be 30 camera straps for sale - five different colorways, six of each colorway. No two straps in each colorway are *exactly* alike. They include the same fabrics, but different widths of each one, and in some cases, they are sewn together in a different order. I will show a photo of a finished strap in each colorway, but the one you may receive may be slightly different than the one pictured. They are all the same length and constructed the same way.
Does this make sense?
I am not going to commit to a specific time. Not having done this before, I am unsure how long it is going to take to get it all set up. When everything is up and running, I will post the opening here and on my flickr page.
All right. It's a big weekend here. I'm off to the races! See you next week.