Monday, August 30, 2010

Pasta Portabella

It was a hectic Monday, after a super-busy weekend, and we were hungry. So I threw together some baked chicken and pasta portabella. 

It all starts with the fact that Italian dressing and presliced baby portabella mushrooms are my crazy Monday friends.

I took frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts out and placed them right on a baking sheet, and baked at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, I cooked up a pot full of noodles and tossed them with olive oil, soy sauce, Italian dressing, a tablespoon of butter, a little chopped onion, the baby portabella mushrooms, and fresh snipped basil. All of these ingredients are to taste, no big measurements on any of them really. Just lots of splashes.We sprinkle on Italian cheese after the pasta hits the plates.

The chicken comes out, half baked, and each piece of chicken is turned and splashed generously with Italian dressing. I salt and pepper, and then put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes to finish it off. That simple.
While I was grabbing some basil out of the garden, I got a few of those sweet late-August tomatoes and whipped up a little batch of bruschetta. It can go on both the French bread slices, toasted in the oven, and spooned over the pasta. My family loves it all--pretty nice Monday meal and nothing had to be thawed or planned!

I got back, pretty quick, to knitting my little squares. They are starting to stack up and I'll be able to make my little wall hanging pretty soon! Happy eating, writing, dreaming and stitching!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Writing, Dreaming, and Going to Pieces

My little creative corner of the world looks like a mess this week. It's all in pieces right now. There's a growing stack of little knit squares on my night table next to a big bowl of yarn. I try to knit at least one or two squares every day, in the midst of our busy family life right now, and it's all in the hopes of becoming a patchworked wall hanging. Hopefully. 
Then, from some darling embroidered girls' blouses found for 25 cents, I'm piecing together the sweetest little scrap happy bag, with a zipper and everything! The other side of it is laid out, half pinned, on the ironing board right now. Nothing will be done on any of this tonight, because I'm going to choir rehearsal--joining the church choir again! So excited. Maybe I could sneak in my knitting though.

Then, finally, after finishing my play, about a crazy bunch of knitters, we gathered some fabulous actors and had a cold table reading night with tasty foods and a lot of laughing. A lot. Next step, a staged reading with audience feedback. I will be brave.

Our family's busy-level is starting to ramp up with a lot going on--school starting next week, a new job in the family, various rehearsals--so we took a break last night and had a nice dinner at Ruby Tuesdays, on a Tuesday! This is my celebration salad (I love to take food pictures). My favorite salad bar in town.

My best friend has adopted a foreign exchange student this year--she is my daughter's age and they will go to school together. We love her already.

I think stitching is my calm in the middle of the storm, but this is the kind of storm I love! We choose to be blessed not stressed. So it's all good. I will be posting the finished bag and wall hanging, hopefully soon.

Eat, write, dream, stitch...always.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chive Talkin'

Chive butter is a pure summer pleasure. Whether you use real butter, or more of a fake yogurt butter, like we do, it is delicious on many things. Our garden has a thick chive patch, and we love fresh chives on everything from potatoes to scrambled eggs. But chive butter just seems even more special.

I like to snip fresh chives and add them into a little bowl of butter or margarine right before the meal, measuring it in by how it all looks. 

For this dinner we enjoyed it both on corn on the cob and garlic bread.

Eat fresh, write often, dream happy, stitch the hours away!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The I-Feel-Pretty Tote

Every girl needs a pretty little tote bag. This one has a definite case of the "dainties" with its toile fabric and white eyelet and ribbon trim. I think Shirley Jones may have taken it shopping in "Oklahoma." 

I am experimenting with making gift-quality tote bags, and this one turned out fine to my delight. I lined it with a green striped fabric I had on hand, gave it two fabric handles for sturdiness and included ribbon ties sewn inside for closure. It is ready for a leisurely weekend or a trip to the library, where all proper ladies take their dainty tote bags! (my laptop fits in it too!)

My shadow, Minnie, was my helper today. 
But she really tried to reposition my scrapbooking many times 
before I could take the picture. Good thing I had sewn the papers together!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dishcloths in a Day

Sugar 'n Cream makes me want to dream. That is, sugar and cream cotton yarns. I love that stuff for knitting scarves, hats, stuffed animals, and of course, dishcloths. You can often find it on sale for $1 a skein--so there's no problem in knitting it for something you're going to use to clean dishes and wipe surfaces. (I think the brand name is Lily Original Sugar 'n Cream) Making my own knitted dishcloths is just one of those little things that makes me happy, and the all-cotton yarns are perfect for them. So yesterday, inbetween repotting plants and doing some cleaning, I knitted 3 little dishcloths. I have made different sizes, but the little square dishcloths seem to be my favorite size. I don't really want them any wider. I cast on about 20 to 25 stitches, knit 2 or 3 rows and then stockinette, and then when it looks about right, I knit a few rows before casting off. When I have little bits of skeins of different colors left, I knit them all together into a crazy dishcloth! The color tends to fade over time and eventually they end up cleaning cars and things outside. When you need more, you can just make some tea, sit down, relax and knit a few. 

Just remember to use more of a cotton yarn and save your fancy yarns for something special.

Stitch happy!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Slow Cooking - Cool Kitchen

There are some summer days when turning on the oven to roast a chicken for two hours is just not an option. That's when you break out the crockpot and get dinner going early!

My family loves slow-cooked chicken--the aromas fill the house all day, and although you sacrifice the crispy browned skin, the meat is very juicy.

Use your fresh garden herbs for this dinner while you have them! Stuff a roasting chicken with a bunch of fresh rosemary--you can also use thyme, or both--and a few cloves of garlic, half an onion, and a lemon cut in halves. Run the lemon over the skin of the chicken, then rub the chicken with olive oil and salt it. I set my crockpot on high for six hours. I have one of those crockpots that switches over to "warm" automatically when it's done, which is nice if you're working all day or out shopping, or aren't sure exactly what time you'll be home. Cheddar dill biscuits are perfect for this meal--just whip up some Bisquik biscuits and add in an extra splash of milk, a cup of shredded cheese, and 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh dill.

Enjoy eating fresh from the garden while you can!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Blue Jean Bag Queen

I found this style of embroidered flower in a book, and now I embroider them on everything! I use all different colors, and my favorite DMC floss--satin floss for these particular flowers.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I cut the leg bottom off of a pair of very old jeans, and left it in one piece. One side is embroidered with my easy-to-stitch flower and stem, and several ribbon bow ties are sewn on at the top (great way to use ribbons scraps). 

I stitched a fabric flower and strips of ribbon to the other side. Now here's the part I love--the handle is actually an Old Navy lanyard, sewn right into the bag, with the clip conveniently hanging off the side. I left the hemmed bottom as the top and stitched the other side closed. That's it! A cute, blue jean baby queen summer bag.

Stitching and dreaming.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Garden-Fresh Bruschetta

A batch of bruschetta is just minutes from your garden--there's nothing quite like it. Toast slices of French bread, or any crusty loaf, spread with a butter or olive oil and sprinkled with garlic sea salt. While the slices are toasting up, chop several fresh tomatoes, snip several fresh basil leaves, mince one garlic clove, and then drizzle in extra virgin olive oil and a splash of white wine vinegar. Toss it together and serve with the bread. It goes with a meal, or it is the meal!

Eat fresh - write often - dream gently - stitch your heart out.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Butterflys Are Free to Stitch

I wish there were a few more of me--I like to do too many things! One of my favorite things is just to sit with a nice glass of ice tea and cross-stitch...preferably by a pool or the deck when there's a nice breeze. Summer is a busy time around here when the garden is in full swing, so when I finally settle down it's nice to have a couple of projects going in my cross-stitch bag--usually a bigger project, and then small quick-to-stitch things, depending on my mood. In my bag right now is some butterfly stitching for a tote bag, and some for my next mixed-media project. In the meantime, I finished a little saying I made up, and this piece will probably become a wall hanging when I think of another saying to stitch to go with it. So maybe it will find its finishing sometime this winter when I'm all cozy with a mug of hot chocolate and don't have to worry about watering the garden.

Thanks to Helen Traphagan for photographing my nesting dolls!

Eat, write, dream, and stitch your heart out!