Saturday, September 27, 2008

Traveling Scarf

I decided on a whim to join the Teachers Who Knit Traveling Scarf group on Ravelry. The basics are to start a scarf in a fiber of your choice-our group is open ended- and pass it around a "circle" with each person in the group adding 3 - 4 inches in a yarn/stitch of their choice (unless you specify) until it comes back to you (in about 5-6 months). Our group has 14 teachers in it from all over the country with a two week "turn around" time frame.

I chose to use some Malabrigo that's been sitting in my stash for a few years and try out the Scroll pattern I loved so much from Enid's scarf. I decided to not put any specifications on what gets added to my scarf. Monday I'll be packing up my "seed" to send to my downstream person. It will be interesting to see what will become if it!

If another purple group opens up soon, I'll be joining that one too! Meanwhile, I need to get back to some of my projects which have been waiting patiently for me to get my act together and knit.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Picked a Peck of Peppers

Well, not quite a "peck" but enough to make some pickled peppers!

Over a month ago, I decided to go ahead and harvest the peppers from my container garden and try my hand at canning. With the help of a few You Tube videos and the Internet, I canned my first round of peppers (with a few jalapenos thrown in for good measure) and made some Sweet Pickled Banana Peppers -I followed the recipe to a "T" but also gave them a 10 minute water bath. The only draw back is that you are suppose to wait 2 weeks before eating them. I waited the allotted time and tried them out on a hot dog.

If you like sweet relish and sweet pickles-which I do-you'd LOVE these. I really did like them, DH didn't care for them (he doesn't like the sweet pickles/relish anyways).

I tried another batch with much less sugar, waited two weeks and really didn't like the taste-too tangy.

Then I stumbled on a different/more dill-like recipe and made them last week (you can eat them the next day) and oh my goodness-they were awesome! Delicious on a sandwich!!


3 lbs. banana peppers
6 garlic cloves
6 jalapeno peppers (optional)
1 quart vinegar (5% acidity)
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. of dried dill seed
1 Tbsp. dried mustard seed
1/2 tsp. pickling salt

Wash peppers and cut small slit in each pepper (this prevents shriveling) do not cut off the pods. Pack peppers into clean hot pint jars. Add one clove of garlic and one hot pepper to each jar (you don't have to add the hot pepper if you don't like them hot).

Bring remaining ingredients to a boil. Pour hot liquid over peppers in the jars leaving 1/2-inch headway.

Place lids and rings on jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Remove from hot water bath and place on counter till cooled. Check to make sure jars have sealed. Refrigerate any that haven't sealed.

My notes:
  • I accidentally doubled the amounts of dill and mustard seed and it was great!
  • I used 1/4 c. of sugar
  • The jar with the added an added habanero was too spicy for DH's taste.
  • These taste like the ones you get at sandwich shops
Even though it took 3 tries before finding exactly what we were looking for, it was worth it! Unfortunately, my plants are starting to produce red peppers like this red jalapeno which is a sign the growing season is coming to an end.

Next year, more banana pepper plants, fewer jalapenos and lots more canning!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

An Affair with Books

Lately I've felt like I've been cheating on my knitting. For some, knitting is their way to relax, ease tension, reduce stress. Often it is like that for me, but in the past few weeks I've turned to reading instead. In the last three weeks I've finished Breaking Dawn, and read 8 Sandpiper Way and The Knitting Circle. I've already written about my thoughts on Breaking Dawn, but really enjoyed the other two books! They were just what I needed to escape the stress and worries of the week(s). Yesterday I started At Home in Mitford, and well, it had me at "hello." I just loved the opening sentences:

He left the coffee-scented warmth of the Main Street Grill and stood for a moment under the green awning. The honest cold of an early mountain spring stung him sharply.

It's just the kind of writing that makes me want to curl up in my favorite chair and read for hours. An "honest cold"..I love that!

I have wondered though, how everyone else keeps track of their pages. I will either use one of those annoying subscription cards in a magazine, an index card, or every once in a while, the jacket of the book. I have to say I don't care for the fancy bookmarks though especially the thick ones made of leather-like material or metal ones. What about you? Do you fold the pages down? Use an official bookmark? Or do you use something less conventional? Inquiring minds want to know! Also, what are you reading these days?

On another note....

We finally had a taste...a sample...of Fall...especially in the mornings this past week! It was a welcome change from the 100 degrees we had last Saturday-no kidding!! I'm so glad I bought a set of instant apple cider last week. I love that stuff-even if its loaded with sugar. Of course it doesn't compare with the hot caramel apple cider at *bucks but will do in a pinch and much cheaper!

I have to mention how good my leftovers were of the soup from last week. It really held its flavor (even on Friday) and hit the spot with some crackers for lunch. I did end up having to add some chicken broth though, the pasta I used soaked up a lot of the broth.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Soup's On!!

It's baaaaaack!

Now that I'm back at work, the last few weeks felt like something was missing. I was having to really think about what to bring to lunch. Then I remembered I was missing my soups!

I may not make soup EVERY weekend, but more often then not. Plus, it's becoming "soup weather" and I like not having to think about what to bring to lunch a few days a week.

This week's recipe helped use up some chicken breasts from the freezer and fresh herbs from the garden. I also loved that it used fennel-something different!

Italian Chicken Soup

Source: Taste of Home Heartwarming Soups Magazine
Serves: 4-6
Time: Prep 15 minutes, Cook 45

1 fennel bulb, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups hot water
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme ( I used 1+ tsp fresh)
1/4 teaspoon dried basil ( I used 1+ tsp fresh)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup uncooked orzo pasta ( I used 1/2 c. dry Acini de Pepe pasta from a previous recipe)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fennel fronds


In a Dutch oven, saute fennel bulb and onion in oil until fennel is tender.

Add the next seven ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduced heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in chicken and orzo. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until orzo is tender.

Stir in fennel fronds.

It was filling and even somewhat healthy (except for the yummy grilled cheese sandwich I ate with it).

Monday, September 08, 2008

Broken Dawn

Warning..spoilers ahead...

so...I FINALLY finished reading B r e a k i n g D a w n and well, there's not much to say. I had to push myself to get it finished and when I did, I almost wished I had never read it.

My issues:
  • I tolerated the first part of the book waiting for it to get really never did...
  • ReneEsme (gag!)-just couldn't get passed the name
  • I felt like the whole Leah storyline just got dropped at the end
  • It creeped me out that Jacob imprinted on Nessie (an infant)
  • It seemed like it took F O R E V E R for that whole ending show-down to happen and then poof it was over.

After reading the 1st three books I could hardly wait to read the next one. Now I don't want to read or see anything vampire related. It's taken me two days to even want to talk about it.

I had to cleanse my palate by reading some Debbie Macomber and I'm in my happy place again.

Any other opinions?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Tree of Happiness

After reading Amanda's "Happy Six" I decided to do my own version of the Tree of Happiness. All you have to do to play along is write about 6 things that make you happy. Here are mine:

1. My husband. I love him to pieces and can't imagine life without him.

2. My dog, Sophie. Sweetness and love-covered in fur!

3. My friends and family who stand by and love me-quirks and all!

4. My profession (teaching). Fighting through everyday, trying to make a difference. There's nothing like it.

5. Cool/Cold weather. C'mon on Fall!

6. My hobbies: reading, knitting, and cooking. I couldn't imagine not having those outlets for my creativity and desire to learn new things.

What makes you happy?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Lemon Jolly Ranchers?

When I left work on Friday, I had a mental list of all I wanted to accomplish during the 3-day weekend. Let's see how I did.

On the list and accomplished!
  • vacuum and dust upstairs and downstairs
  • mop bathroom floors (we have 3 bathrooms)
  • grocery shopping for the week (involved going to Sun Harvest, Sam's and H.E.B.)
  • knitting (not as much as I would have liked but did get to a S.N.B.))
  • reading (not as much as I would have liked)
  • laundry-only 1 load got done though
  • organize office
  • call parents
  • dust ceiling fan in bedroom
  • change calendars to September
  • refill Airwick plug-ins up and downstairs
  • watched 8 episodes of Weeds from DVR
  • take a nap
  • visit blogs and Ravelry
Not on the list, but still had to deal with:
  • doggie diarrhea (ahhh the joys of pet ownership)
  • "check engine coolant" light coming on while running errands
  • the mobs of shoppers clogging the aisles
  • a "Labor day" sale that ended yesterday (I went today)-how did that make sense?
  • accidentally spraying Oxi-clean laundry stain remover on my glass table...
Can you blame me??

Didn't get done:
  • all the laundry (DH offered to do the bedsheets tomorrow-yay!)
  • pickle banana peppers (hoping to do that tomorrow after work)
  • work stuff (ordering for reading department, list making, brochure creating, grade-book organizing) I guess I'll be fitting that in during the next few days)
  • pulling of stuff for Goodwill
  • more cleaning
All in all I feel good about what got done! What I failed to mention was the 95% of the items completed happened today. That's right, I put everything off for the last day...sigh...

Lemon Jolly Ranchers? Oh yea... One of the secretaries at school mentioned how much she likes lemon Jolly Ranchers. I thought I'd put together a bag of the yellow ones for her. I bought a few bags of the "regular" and the "sour" ones and not a yellow one in any of the bags. Let me know if anyone has stumbled across these!