Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Blessings on Thanksgiving



As my daughter and I start in on our Thanksgiving baking, I want to take a moment and give Thanks for my family. I have a wonderful husband, delightful grown children, a special son-in law and now I have an adorable little Grandson, who is too young to sit at our table, but at 6 weeks is a special gift.
So, wherever you are...please take the time to stop and give thanks for the people; the friends and family in your life for that is what sustains us in the tough times. They are the "warm fuzzies" that carry through the cold winter that comes so soon and warm our hearts.
I am thankful too for those of you that read my little blog, especially for those who comment. May you all be blessed in the coming season. May you be safe and warm this Thanksgiving.
Nancy

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Someone's Lost Treasure

Yesterday, on my hunt for treasure with my friend I came across quite a few pieces shortly after entering the Goodwill.
Among the goodies I found was a Williams-Sonoma bowl

We had pasta in it last night....
And this adorable bunny....


Look at those shoes! My Grandson will be able to wear those, they are real leather shoes!
Total cost....$9.50! Pretty sweet!
Have a great weekend!
Nancy

Friday, November 21, 2014

Grown up Mac 'N Cheese

I was out shopping with a friend, finding treasures. When she asked what I was having for dinner, I didn't know then. But by the time I got home, I knew. I wanted Mac 'N Cheese.
But, I am on a gluten-free diet with no dairy (from cows). Hummmmm
Well, I can be creative...
I started with a bag of Brown Rice Pasta from Trader Joes. That's a given
Then, I took a little olive oil and sauteed some Pancetta in the oil.... (if you haven't tried Pancetta do, it has a different and distinctive taste)
When the pancetta was done and crispy (not too crispy), I added some minced garlic.
When the garlic was done changing color (but not brown), I added a bit of gluten free flour and added almond milk to make a sauce.
Then, I added sheep's milk cheese. (The brand I have been thoroughly enjoying is a brand known as Basque Cheese....Trader Joe's sells it as does Costco)
To that I added chopped artichoke hearts and julienned dried tomatoes...a little pesto and soft goat cheese....
When the pasta was done I drained it and put it into a bowl, then I added the sauce....
To the top of that I threw in some toasted pine nuts...and voila!
Grown up Mac N Cheese!
Yup, Hubby loved it ! It was just the right amount of "gourmet" and he never knew it was gluten free!
It wasn't "dairy" free...but sheep's milk cheese is more easily digested as is goat's milk cheese....so go ahead, enjoy mac n cheese again!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Working with History

Working with History...that sounds like some kind of thesis...but in truth, that is what I did this weekend.
Hubby worked with collecting up and organizing photos and photo albums all weekend, and I worked on a quilt.
It isn't my quilt top...I didn't make it...but I had picked it up at an estate sale...in a garage, where it had obviously been stored away for years...
I bought it and had to wash the quilt top to get rid of most of the dirt and grime.
Then, it sat for a few years in my cupboard. When I had my "store" on Etsy, I tried to sell it, half-heartedly....and then I took it out of the store thinking it deserved to be a quilt in whole.
So, it sat while I pondered how I would handle such a big quilt. It was made probably in the early 50's of fabric from the 30's, 40's and 50's as best as I can figure. It is a double bed quilt size.
This weekend, after buying some batting, I figured I would just do it. Better to be a quilt than quilt top....

Here you can see what trouble I had, aside from the size being pulled every which way through the machine.....
Her borders were not square so the borders, couldn't be quilted. I had to fold and play with the fabric to get it into the binding....
But in the end, even with the creator of the quilt's errors, it still makes a lovely, warm and inviting quilt!
I used an old cotton sheet for the backing and salvaged binding from other projects, so it has three colors in the binding....I felt it was in the spirit of the quilt to do that....as she had probably saved fabric from clothes etc to make this quilt.
So what if the borders aren't square? It is now a clean (though it has mildew stains), loved and truly a quilt.
In the process, I learned a good deal....mostly how important a "square border" is.
And, though there were words of cussing occurring in the craft room, I did have fun. And I love hand-stitching the binding on while watching TV.
Now, there are some of you thinking I should have hand-quilted...and yeah, it would have been good to do...but, my arthritis doesn't let me do much of that now. If I had gotten out the quilting frame, it would be in the family room for ages while quilting went on. Hand quilting might have dealt better with the border thing, but again, I don't think my body could do it....
So, here she is....

Glad to get it out of storage and into use! What a warm and cozy quilt. It will be lovely on the guest bed, which is a full.....
Have a great day...
Nancy

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Busy Week

Well, I've had one of those weeks...where you are busy everyday!
Last weekend, we had our niece and nephew and their little ones ages 4 and 18 months visit at our daughter's house (so they could meet their new cousin).
Then, the week just had lots going on....
The "boys" bottled their new beer....
Then it was just busy...
Have you ever had boring weeks where nothing happens and then, everything did??
Yeah...that was my week.
Highlights....the cousin visit, Hubby bought me a "new to us" car, my daughter's office had a "meet the baby" party, the boys went to a football game (and I got to eat my favorite dinner of eggplant and artichokes)
And our 9 year old lab had to have a possible cancerous tumor removed from his eyelid...
The vet says that this will heal up nicely in a month or so, but right now he is still a bit wobbly, so I expect quite a bit of nursing this coming week...
Have a great weekend!
Nancy

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Long Tale of Shelving...

Well, what a week!
My Hubby got it in his mind to clean out the office. I mean really clean out the office!
Now, let's review. A little over a year ago, his Dad and my Father-in-Law passed away. Much of his stuff came here....papers, books, and electronics. Most furniture was sold through a company that does Estate sales, but Hubby kept electronics, books, papers and so on.
It started suddenly...he was down in the office for quite a while, and next thing I knew he was taking things out to the car.....to donate.
Wow.
So, I helped.
I had things to go through as the closet area used to be my office...
So, I went through the filing cabinets and shredded and tossed....soon I had empty filing cabinets!
We put those in the car too, along with the top that acted as a desk.....
Then, I came up with a plan to create shelving in that closet area for photo albums. And that my dear readers is the Tale......
I went to Container Store first to look at the Elfa system, which we have used in a couple of places before.
Well, let me tell you........
I had a terrible listener at the store that day, and found myself frustrated and getting angry. She wasn't listening at all to what I wanted to accomplish.....and then she created a plan (after finally getting the idea) that would cost $300! That was for two shelves!
Yeah, not happening.....
So, then I went to Ikea....hoping they would have ideas. I went through the entire store....really, the whole warehouse! Nothing. Zip. I left feeling frustrated and grumpy.
Then, I went to Ace Hardware.....they had your basic old fashioned types, not what one wants to put hundreds of pounds of photo albums on.
Did I mention that Hubby used to work for Kodak, so photos, lots and lots of photos have accumulated?? Did I mention his parents and grandparents had lots of photo albums??
That being said, I decided to try Home Depot.
Frustrated, I was standing at the Closet Maid area of Home Depot, trying to decide what to use.....
Then, there was this man, who started talking to me. He does this for a living he said. He had been to Container Store thinking he'd used their Elfa system himself for his own pantry, but it was really too expensive, he said....and the lady there didn't listen he said...
We got talking and I told him my tale.....and HE had a solution!
He listened and had an affordable idea, using the Closet Maid system (which is an Elfa knock-off)....
It's a closet. It's for photo albums. The closet is an odd size that is the problem, not square and not easy to get a strong shelf to go all the way across.
Want to know what you do?
Stagger the shelves! Using 36" shelves, stagger them! Duh.....
The closet is 69" across....not easy to create with. So, stagger them. The ends of the staggered shelves create bookends to help hold the books! Yeah. Genius!
Wanna see the imperfect perfect solution???
Here is the first half of the closet. I kept closet rods so it can be recreated into a closet in the future. That closet rod holder that is 54 years old...well it isn't in the center! It is 36" on one side of it, 33" on the other!
By doing one side first, I could pull this off....And yes, by the way, I put this system in by myself! With a drill with a philips head driver, you put up the track...
It is a hanging system, hanging on a 24" track...it really does work! (Home Depot doesn't cut the pieces and the tracks start at 24", then jump to 40"...)
Simply screw the track up, and hang the bars and put up shelves and brackets....
And......
(See the old shelves from 54 years ago at the top?? Yeah, sagging a bit, under the weight of boxes of photos.....)
And here is the final result....with room for the rest of the albums....that we need to go through.
Cost was more than half  than what the Elfa system was, and far more storage.
No, it still isn't pretty, however, floor is clear....even since I took this photo it is far more organized. We got rid of an old bookcase and a table and a chair and other stuff.
Imagine.
If your room is simplified and open, then you can think! If you can think, you get more done. If you get more done, you feel accomplished and then you sleep better at night.
Since this picture, Hubby has organized and straightened more of the room.
It is a good ending to a long tale.
Moral?
There is a solution that fits most everyone's needs.
Think outside the box.
In this case, think outside the "line", by staggering the shelves, we got what we needed.
Ok, I am off to play with my Grandbaby.......
Nancy

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Using Mash from Beer Making for Bread

Well, my Hubby and Son in Law have decided they wanted to make beer from scratch.
So, this weekend they started their endeavor. Part of the process leaves "mash", the grain used that is leftover from the process, which can be used to make bread....or compost.
First, in the morning, I made muffins.....
Muffins were made with Pamelas mix so I could eat them, and three got a little mash thrown in for Hubby. He said his were delicious. So, encouraged....
I looked up recipes on the internet, and all of them make the warning, not to use too much of the mash, as it has a tendency to make the bread bitter. Use no more than 1/3 of the bulk of flour and adjust for moisture the recipes said. Ok, cool....
So, I took out my tried and true recipe and began.



Now, these loaves did get stickier than usual and took forever to rise both times....but I figured that the moisture and all was to blame....
When they were baked, they looked yummy.....but my taste tester.....well, let's just say it wasn't pretty....all loaves were tossed in the trash....
I began again. This time using only 1 cup of mash to the recipe of 6 cups of flour.


This time it was a hit! Hubby said that the flavor was excellent.
So now I have about 8 bags of mash in the freezer, another in the fridge (waiting for more flour). That's a lot of bread I can't even eat! But, it is worth seeing Hubby happy with his bread......
Moral....if you decide to make beer, the leftover mash is excellent to use in bread or muffins etc. Don't use too much of it in making bread as it can be quite strong. Bitter even.....
Nancy