It’s Official!

My fiance has accepted a tenure track offer AT….

*drumroll please!*

University of Wisconsin in Madison!

We officially know nothing about Madison so if you know anyone or anything, pass it on! ANYTHING is helpful! People, places, blogs…anything!  I am really excited! It looks beautiful, it’s really safe, and there’s plenty a reason to knit! There’s fishing (which I LOVE!) and lots of water (which I also LOVE)!

I am excited to be starting this new chapter in our lives. I feel like we are going to be really happy there even though I NEVER would have thought that is where I’d end up. I DO miss Texas. I miss everything about Austin. The people, the attitude, the art, music, and all around goodness that people have in their hearts there, cut off blue jean shorts, bare feet and mexican food. I REALLY miss the heat and the sun and the swimming but I am growing to enjoy the change of the seasons. I find snow quite beautiful and I suppose you can’t have both heat and snow at the same time so I am just happy I am getting to experience it all. Madison’s summer is supposed to be beautiful. It’s very hard for me to comprehend, after 26 years in Texas, that the winter can be below freezing and you can still have temperatures in the 80s in the summer. I’m looking forward to it.

So after my break you can look forward to the following things:

How to be a master packer!

Master the Egg video tutorials
(I will teach you how to cook the perfect egg 8 different ways and the differences between them. You can please EVERYBODY! I will also teach you how to flip like a pro. You won’t believe how easy it is!)

Demystifying the fitted sheet

Fascinators tutorial

Baked Pear and Jam Summer Pastry

Spanish Encrusted Pork Tenderloin Medallions
with fresh verde sauce and pico de gallo

My Best Mexican Black Beans

Migas (Yes. Real ones. Remember folks, I have cooked them in 5 of Austin’s most prized places.)

wedding stories and photos and more!!!

See you soon!

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March 22, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Me and Mine. 5 comments.

Tip O’ the Week

*Tips that are NEAT-tO know!*

Ran out of toothpicks…
or just always forget to buy them?

You can use a spaghetti noodle to test the doneness
of your cake or other baked goods!
Spaghetti noodles are also good for lighting candles,
old gas stoves, or grills when you don’t have a long lighter or your match doesn’t safely reach.

March 21, 2010. Tags: , , . Tip O' the Week. Leave a comment.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things…

To celebrate this incredibly beautiful first day of spring, I am just going to post some eye candy.

Enjoy.

 

 

most incredible pics of his kids

 

 

 

 

March 20, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Art and Neat stuff, Knitting, Stitches. 2 comments.

Forgive Me

This is what happens when all of your recipes are in your head and you attempt to write them down.

I forgot the corn.

So if you already printed the bisque recipe, please make sure to add the changes. ↓↓↓

March 20, 2010. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Meatless Mexican Bisque

DELICIOUS.

F.Y.I. This is “meatless” in that you don’t put any meat in the soup, however, the bouillon I recommend has beef fat and dried chicken in it.

♦It is easy, very cheap, and yes, another one of those recipes I swear is delicious, even though it only has a few ingredients. You will start to get it. You won’t believe the flavor that comes from this!♦

You will need:

3 very large Russet potatoes, peeled, chopped
1- 15.25 oz can corn
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 large green onions (with chives)
3 cubes Knorr “Caldo de Tomate” (tomato bouillon with chicken flavor)
1 cup heavy cream
coarse ground pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil

(Makes a large soup pot’s worth.)

Put potatoes in a large pot and fill with water until just over the potatoes. Boil on high for 30 minutes. Reduce to light boil for 10 more minutes. If water amount has reduced, replenish. Repeat two more times. Remove from heat.

Dice green onions (this is the bulb end only, not the chive end) and saute in olive oil. Ladle potatoes, water, (be sure they are not too hot for your blender!) and green onions into food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Transfer back into pot. Heat on low and stir in bouillon and heavy cream. Do NOT allow it to boil after this point. Slowly add more water, one cup at a time, until bisque like consistency. (I don’t have measurements for the water because it will depend on the size of your potatoes.)
*Add your corn and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Stir frequently.

Add diced chives and cilantro. Simmer for 7 more minutes. Top with coarse black pepper. I really recommend serving this with plain, toasted white bread. Not rolls, or anything fancy. You’ll understand when you try it.

March 19, 2010. Tags: , , , . Recipes. Leave a comment.

Busy Body

I think I am set on that being my second set of knuckle tattoos. I have been thinking about it a while and it would actually go with what I already have. (They would read: No Good Busy Body) It will be a while though but perfect I think.  Anywhoo, I am super excited about a million things right now!
First, I received my sock garters from SWANclothing and holy crap are they perfectly adorable! I wanted them anyway but they are also PERFECT for my wedding day. I am wearing cowboy boots under my dress and socks, not hose, for numerous reasons and these guys keep my socks up just above my boot. Comfortable and actually, wicked sexy! Just look at her pictures! I went to Manhattan last week to pick up my wedding dress and I wore them and I have a witness that will agree and state under oath that about 8 out every 10 people we walked by were staring at me and my hot sock garters. Swear to baby Jesus.

I also made a second pair of the Madeline Mini Bloomers I posted about here.My first are black cotton with tiny white dots and red ribbon. Super cute but difficult to photograph well.

I adore these and can’t wait to make more. I’m not sure how many would be too many to have but…they are soooo cute! These rosy ones are very light and silky and are sexy and cute at the same time, which isn’t always easy to get.

I had bought a 3 pack of bibs a while ago to have around the house to embroider whenever I hear of a new babe coming into the world, and I was wandering around the house doing wedding thingies and I realized we have one baby coming to the wedding! Well, our favors are jars of honey from this cute place so I immediately knew we had to make him his own special favor. Luckily, I had one page of iron on transfer paper left so:

That was easy!

I also made my fascinator for my rehearsal dinner, silky red dress, and black pumps. Hooray!

I’ll tell you how in a next post!

And finally, we know where we are going to live next year! My fiance has not officially accepted the offer so I can not yet reveal details but it will be in the mid-west. For any who do not know, he is near completion of his postdoc here in Providence at Brown University so he has been on the job market. This has made things even more hectic and stressful than they would normally be with a wedding alone but even with the economy in the toilet, we have scored.

I will have another post or two but will otherwise, be taking a break until after the wedding (on April 3rd!). And on that note, here’s THE dress!

I know the bag kind of gets in the way so....

Another picture, same dress.

March 18, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Art and Neat stuff. 1 comment.

Tip O’ the Week

*Tips that are NEAT-tO know!*

PERFECT
cookies
EVERY
time.*

*Please see disclaimer.

This trick awesome to know, but it is even MORE awesome to know why it works…
then again, I am kind of food science nerd.

I have had customers ask me time and time again how my cookies stay so soft for so long. This is how I do it.

For soft, chewy cookies: When cookies are done, hold your cookie sheet about 1-2 feet from the counter top, very flat. Drop the cookie sheet to get a good, loud THWACK! Immediately remove cookies and let them cool on foil or parchment paper. I am serious! Drop it! Nice and flat. If you don’t hear a loud smack, you didn’t drop it flat enough. Try once more.

Why this works: You will notice your cookies sink after smacking them. You are knocking all the hot air that is trapped inside the dough, out of the cookie. This means they are no longer cooking on the inside. (Just because you take them out of the oven, does not mean they have stopped cooking.) The pan is also still cooking them slowly so by removing them, you are stopping the process almost immediately. These will stay soft for a week, sometimes longer!

For crunchy cookies: This is perfect for crunchy sugars, gingersnaps and so on. Just do the opposite as above. You want them to continue to cook slowly so they get crisp all the way through. When the cookies are done, remove them from the oven and gently set the pan down. Allow the cookies to cool ON the pan.

Once you know WHY this works, it makes perfect sense!

* This has never failed me…unless, of course, I over bake the cookies in the first place. This won’t save you then.

March 14, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . Cooking tips, Tip O' the Week. 3 comments.

An Excuse to Break

I’m so flattered that adorable and hilarious fellow blogger, Giggly Mama tagged me to to reveal a bit more about myself. Thank goodness because I really needed an excuse to pop open a beer and not think about anything having to do with my wedding, honeymoon or moving! *Phew*

So…here goes it: (brace yourself)

oNe: At this very moment, my face is covered in thick green clay in hopes to shrink a pimple and magically transform my skin before my wedding day.

TwO: I have been told that I can be scary and intimidating when people first meet me. I find that incredibly amusing…and sometimes helpful.

thRee: I got a boob job about 6 years ago (I went from nada to a “B” cup and I still love them).
I had to ask my best friend, who was taking care of me, to dry off my back side after I got out of the shower because I couldn’t move my arms that far.

He was a perfect gentleman…
and now we are getting married.

FoUr: After a year, I still suffer from mild costochondritis . I hate it because it makes me feel less independent and I really miss working, even if it’s just in a coffee shop.

fIVe: I feel the absolute, most relaxed when I am laying in the sun. I don’t even have to be by water…but I DO love being by the water.

sIX: I met my fiance 10 years ago at a coffee shop I worked at while he was going to grad school. I found him fascinating but thought that he thought I was an airhead. Turns out, he thought I was fascinating too. That coffee shop was the best job I have ever had.

SEVEN: number six makes me cry.

O.K. So I think I am supposed to “tag” other peeps I want to know more about…?

I pick:

Barncat

Little Bird Crafts

Joel

Kat

Yuki

March 10, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Me and Mine. 5 comments.

Tip O’ the Week

*Tips that are NEAT-tO know!*

VANILLA.

It’s delicious, beautiful, and aromatic.
It’s anything but plain.

Don’t let mosquitoes ruin your lounge time on the porch this summer.
Mix a tablespoon of vanilla extract with a cup of warm water.
Put it in an old spray bottle or a jar and spray or use a cotton ball to lightly coat your skin.

Soak a cotton ball in vanilla and keep it in your
refrigerator or freezer overnight.
It will help deodorize!

To deodorize your microwave, put a teaspoon of vanilla in a shallow, heat proof bowl with some water and microwave for one minute.
Leave it with the door closed for 10 minutes then remove.

To freshen a home, put a drop of vanilla on your fingertip
and wipe it onto a lightbulb (when it’s off).
When the light is turned on, it will heat slowly and reveal the scent.

Put a couple drops in your paint gallon when painting indoors to reduce the latex smell.

Use your spray mixture for the carpet
30 minutes before vacuuming.

Freshen up after being in a hot kitchen.
Spritz a bit on before serving dinner and no one will know
you broke a sweat.
(Vanilla has been used in perfumes for ages.)

March 7, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . Cleaning tips, Cooking tips, Tip O' the Week. 2 comments.

W.I.P.

Warning: A not so polite word will be pictured below.

As one of my favorite Flickr friends, cauchy09, says, (You should take a look at her many splendid and inspirational things.)
“I am a W.I.P.”

For those of you non or beginning crafters and hobby enthusiasts, this means, work in progress.

Here are some things I am working on right now.

Earlier I wrote about the adorable 28Thirty and I have been working on this and can’t wait to finish. I am 4 rows away from separating the sleeves from the body so I can try it on! Yay!

If you are wondering how on earth this will turn into a button up sweater, let me try to explain the sections. You may realize it is not as complicated as you previously thought and give you the courage to try knitting. Once it clicked for me, I was thrilled.
You just have to imagine the left edge and the right edge being curved around a cylinder so that they meet.

We are looking from the top down and left to right and at the top all the way across, you have the collar. It is the entire top part with the “stripes”. Buttonholes are on the left. The collar for this one is particularly tall.

Then the stripes stop going all the way across. The leftmost section that is solid is the section that will lie across the left breast side. To the right of it, you have a triangular section with stripes again. This is the left sleeve.  The top of it, which is the skinniest, lies a top the shoulder and the rest wraps around the upper part of the arm. Think of that little section, all by itself, wrapping around a cylinder again.
Then the very middle, which is solid again, is the back. When the stripes start up again, you have the right sleeve, and then the right front again. I hope that helps. It may also help to imagine the back of someone wearing a sweater. The middle of the picture above is their back.

My second W.I.P. I plan on finishing today and then, probably, immediately make another. I am working on those wicked cute bloomers from Colette Patterns! I am so happy the pattern is so simple even a clothing sewing buffoon like me can make them. Really folks. I’ve said before, sewing clothing for me is like playing chess. I simply can’t think far enough ahead to end up with a clean result. I feel like you have to plan every move all the way to the end and I just can’t do it but these are a gift!

the fabric and ivory ribbon for another pair a bit more romantic:

I previously made this for my tattoo artist’s studio. He loved it and it looks fantastic on the wall over the toilet.

He has a buddy who commissioned me to do a piece for his bar. He was adamant about it looking very “Granny-ish” so I chose some mauve and hunter greens and what not. I will add more flowers to the left and right of the wording later.

I am also working on making some fascinators.

I actually used to make and wear them when I went through my first phase of “I want to wear more skirts and dresses and look pretty and not wear jeans all the time” but I got funny looks. Imagine that they are popular again. Hmph. I want to make one to wear to my rehearsal dinner.

I finished knitting my first pair of sucks…I mean SOCKS. Funny, they seemed like torture and you want to know what I did as soon as I finished them? I got excited to start a new pair for myself.  I attribute it to how incredibly beautiful this yarn is…or I am a glutton for punishment. Really, I am just very determined.

All of this in addition to planning my wedding which is 30 days away, thinking about moving to a new state in the summer and trying to be a good woman to my better man, so I ask friends, where does it end?! Do you give yourself a limit? I think I tend to give myself more of a “specific project limit”. I only allow myself two knitting projects, one sewing project, two embroidery and one cross stitch. I don’t count the numerous other crafts I tend to tack on when something tickles my fancy. What about you? Are you stern with yourself and finish each one before beginning a new one or lenient and overwhelmed with strings and things?

As long as you’re having fun and making the world a little prettier, I guess it doesn’t matter, eh?

March 4, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Art and Neat stuff, Knitting. 5 comments.

Another Kind of Colorful Nest

I saw a picture of a bird’s nest that was made of
cute little twigs and grass and…

cigarette wrappers?!

(Umm…eww!)

Yes. That is why I think EVERYONE should do this.

Birds will make their nests out of all kinds of things and unfortunately, that includes trash.
This is the perfect time for this little project that makes the world a tad more beautiful and I think it may be super fun for kids! My only problem with this project is that you typically have to just imagine how beautiful the results may be but that’s kind of fun too.
If you are the stitchy type, whether it be knitting, sewing, cross stitching, embroidery or other, you probably end up with little colored threads and yarns all over the floor, sticking to the rear of your pants, or the sleeve or your shirt, or in your hair. Well, now you can do something useful with those little bits and not feel guilty for “wasting” that 2 inch piece of DMC.

I started saving at the beginning of the winter so now I have a descent stock pile.

"Pieces of String Too Small to Use" - Alela Diane

Yes! Birds will make their nests out of these! I’m not kidding. How beautiful is that image in your head? Little nests, hiding in the tree branches, littered with flecks of colored strings.

So, take an old onion bag, or a piece of netting and tie a string around the top. Only concerns are: be sure their little beaks can fit through the holes and the ball is big enough that one can latch onto it while removing the threads. After tying it closed, I pull some of the little threads out to flutter in the wind and catch their attention. Then I hang it on my porch! That’s all there is to it.

This includes some excellent tips and info also. Towards the bottom there are more fillers listed. Start saving and throughout the spring, keep your eyes peeled! You never know what you may spot.

March 2, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Art and Neat stuff, Knitting, Stitches. 3 comments.

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