Saturday, January 26, 2008

What's a gigli wire used for anyway?

DH has learned to use a new tool. It's called a gigli wire and it's a surgical instrument used to cut bone or, in this case, horn.

Two of our Shetland wethers have horns that needed trimming. I knew we needed a gigli wire to do the job but didn't know where to buy one. The local farm store, which stocks all the usual med supplies, said they hadn't carried them in years. I guess horned livestock aren't as popular as they used to be? Who knows.

Ended up ordering one from a surgical supply store down the road in Roanoke. There was a few weeks delay as they had to order from the German manufacturer but finally it came in the mail.

The saw looks like a piece of woven wire and has a ring on each end. You can buy a type of handle to put thru the rings but DH fashioned his own with some duct tape and a couple of large nails. The wire is wrapped around the horn and crossed so you draw back and forth on the wire from each side so it saws thru the horn.

It's very fast -- takes more time to describe the action than to saw the tip off one horn. The vet had told me we could take off up to 1-1/2" of horn from each horn end or, to measure from the skull, leave about 5" of horn on the sheep. The idea is to not cut into the quick, the blood vessel that runs through the middle of the "live" part of the horn. So it's like trimming a dog's nail only the horn is too dark to be able to see the vein as you sometimes can in a dog's nail.

Considering the vet would charge $175 to do the job and the gigli wire cost less than $15 including shipping and took about 20 minutes of DH's time, I'd say DH made a wise decision when he decided to learn another shepherding skill.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Things aren't always as they appear!

Somehow I stumbled across a series of still life photographs by Carl Warner. They're posted on the BBC site and titled "In Pictures: From edible to incredible."

We're still recovering from our colds so this was a perfect way to spend some time trying to name all the foods that appear. And what imaginative ways some of them are used! That salmon sea is gorgeous!

After examining the 8 photos till we thought we had named everything (and I bet we still missed some!), we moved on to a book on DS's shelves, Look-Alikes by Joan Steiner, that used to be a favorite of his and still is a fav of mine. He may be outgrowing it but we still managed to put our heads together over it long enough to examine the cover photo and several of the inside spreads in detail. And he would have kept going but it was time to start dinner so the book had to come into the kitchen.

The good thing about Steiner's books (she has at least one more in the same vein and a series for younger children, too) is that she includes a list at the back of the book of all the everyday items used to create the pictures. Looking through the book always reminds me of the stories my mother would tell me when I was little. They were all about "the teeny weeny people" who used thimbles for washtubs and coral bell blossoms for cups. She was never at a loss for naming ordinary things and how they could be turned to use by those enterprising little people. We may have to bring the stories back -- I bet she'll tell him a few if we ask.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Take a strand of white lights and . . .

A strand of 35 lights and a glass block from a home improvement store make a great way to highlight a dark room corner.

A friend made this for me for Christmas and I love it! After drilling a hole in the back (not the bottom) of the block, insert a 20- or 35-light strand with the plug to the outside. Tie a ribbon around it to look like a pretty package if you want and choose ribbon colors with the room in mind where you intend to place the block.

It takes patience when drilling as you need to go slow in order not to crack the glass. HGTV's message board has a few good tips for drilling glass blocks. Plus there are a lot of alternatives to the ribbon. A web search yielded all sorts of decorated glass blocks filled with light strands and nightlight-size single bulb sockets. Hmm, I could make a different one for every room and occasion . . .

Menu planning for week of January 21

I know, it's already Tuesday but when you're sick you don't want to eat, right? Writing this out is really helping, especially with everyone sick and worn out as a result. At least we don't have to think about what to fix. It's all written out and I make sure we have the ingredients before I write the menu. We keep the pantry and freezer pretty well stocked anyway so except for DH stopping on the way home tonight to get a gallon of milk, we won't have to run out to the grocery this week.

Monday, January 21

Chicken noodle soup
Oyster crackers
Carrot sticks

Tuesday, January 22

Egg and cheese burritos
Homemade salsa
Black beans topped w/chopped sweet onions
Iceberg lettuce wedges w/dressing

Wednesday, January 23

Spaghetti bolognese
Waldorf salad
Garlic toast

Thursday, January 24

Greek-style oven fries
Steamed cabbage wedges, served with vinegar
Braised boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Yogurt with frozen peaches or strawberries

Friday, January 25

Homemade sausage w/gravy
Scrambled eggs
Fried apples
Wholegrain toast
Orange juice

Saturday, January 26

Barbecued venison, chopped
Homemade wholegrain hamburger buns
Potato chips

Sunday, January 27

Calico fish
Baked potatoes
Apple carrot salad

Apple Carrot Salad

From "Simply in Season : A World Community Cookbook" by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert.

Apple Carrot Salad

1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
2 tbs orange juice
1 tbs honey
2 cups grated apple
2 cups shredded carrots
1 tbs fresh mint, chopped
1/8 tsp salt or to taste
1/4 cup raisins, optional

Mix juices and honey together in a large bowl until honey is dissolved. Grate apples directly into juice mixture to prevent apples from browning. Toss remaining ingredients with apple mixture and serve immediately.

Calico fish

From "Whole Foods for the Whole Family," a La Leche League International cookbook edited by Roberta Bishop Johnson.

Calico Fish

1 pound fish fillets
1 tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt or less, to taste
dash of pepper
2 cups frozen peas
1 medium carrot, grated
1 onion, sliced and separated into rings
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbs butter

Cut large fillets into serving pieces; arrange in ungreased baking dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice and seasonings. Spoon vegetables over top. Sprinkle with salt; dot with butter. Bake, covered, at 350F. for 20 to 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Greek-style oven fries

From "Simply in Season : A World Community Cookbook" by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert

Greek-style oven fries

4 potatoes or sweet potatoes, scrubbed
2 tbs oil
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Cut potatoes into thin sticks or wedges and large bowl. Blend oil and other ingredients together and pour over potatoes, stirring with a spatula to coat the potatoes.

Spread fries in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake in preheated 425F. oven until golden brown and fork tender, 30-45 minutes. Stir and flip fries every 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately.

You can vary these by switching around the herb you use. Try a dash of Italian seasoning blend along with a couple of tbs of grated Parmesan cheese or substitute an adobo seasoning salt instead of the salt and oregano for a change of pace.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Neither snow nor sickness keep learning from happening when you're homeschooled

Public school was out for two days last week due to bad weather. DS has had a cough since before New Year's and started running a fever the first of last week necessitating a visit to the pediatrician last Monday. DH came home from work the night before we took DS to the doc and said he was coming down with something, too. By Wednesday, DH was home in bed -- very unusual for him and DS was holding his own. Friday night DS's fever was back and running about 102F. so took him back to the doc on Saturday. Gotta love those doctors' offices that offer weekend hours! Yesterday I started running a fever. Everyone's succumbed.

The good news is, even in the middle of all this snow and sickness, DH and DS have continued reading Bauer's "The Story of the World, Volume II." They love that series. I had to hunt up the next volume and Activity Book from my stash this weekend as they were afraid they'd finish Vol. II and not have the next one close at hand.

DS has particularly enjoyed the latest chapters as they deal with travel by sail one of his favorite topics. Now if only we can make it to the library in the next day or so as he's managed to finish all the books he brought home last time and he has a few suggestions from SOTW to search for.

Whole Wheat Bread revisited

This is a loaf made from the recipe I posted on January 10. Baked in a pullman pan, it didn't completely fill the corners of the pan. This seems to be the norm for wholegrain loaves I've baked -- bread made from regular unbleached bread flour or all-purpose will completely fill the pan and give squared off corners but the whole wheat doesn't. YMMV

This bread is proving to be a great keeper. We've all been sick with fever, cough, cold symptoms, and not eating very much. DH even stayed home from work part of last week, so I knew he was really ill. But that meant we didn't use up the loaf I'd made last Sunday until yesterday -- over 7 days and it was still fresh. Previously, if we had homemade wholegrain bread left past 4-5 days, it would begin to mold. I know honey makes a difference in the keeping ability of bread but what else would have that effect? The only other real difference between this recipe and the one I was using from the Bread Beckers, is the 24-hr "soaking" period. Otherwise they call for the same ingredients or, in the case of water as the liquid in the Beckers' recipe, I substituted thinned yogurt or dry milk and water.

I hastily took this picture before DH and DS started making their lunch and DH's packed dinner for work today. I wanted to try to show the texture. I don't have a vocabulary to explain what I want to say so I thought I'd try a photo.

And, in case you're not familiar with a pullman loaf pan, here's a picture below that shows mine. A pullman pan has a lid that slides on and off. You put the bread in the pan, let rise, when it's almost to the top, slide the lid on and bake. The bread will do the final rise in the oven and will usually fill the pan. Some people remove the lid after the first 15 minutes or so, I usually leave it on.

You can make a homemade pullman pan using a straight-sided loaf pan. Place a greased cookie sheet on top after forming the dough. Be sure to put a heavy weight like a big rock, brick or maybe a big iron skillet on top of the cookie sheet to hold it down when the last rise kicks in inside the oven.

Oh, and FWIW, those are a couple of my handwoven towels under the bread in 2 of the pictures. That's another thing that's on my list -- make more towels. We love using the handwoven ones...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Owl, the chicken rooster or who knew chickens were afraid of snow?

Owl is a beautiful rooster and he's always been a bit of a bully. Today we found out he's afraid of snow to boot.

The snowstorm started about 8 a.m. so the chickens were already out in their pen. But Owl and several hens went back inside almost immediately and refused to come out even after the snow stopped flying and we shoveled paths around the garden.

I finally coaxed Echa, the Turken at the front of the picture, to at least put her head out the vinyl-hung doorway and taste a cornmeal mush treat but Owl wouldn't come near the door.

One of the other roosters, Cappy, the Dominique in the middle of the photo to the right, was the first to venture out when we started shoveling. He watched me shovel snow while pacing just under the protection of the old truck topper we use as a cover for the feeding station. As soon as there was a clear square of ground, he flew about 12 feet to reach it and then started following me, DH and DS as we shoveled paths, or in DS's case, track beds, 'round the pen. I thought he deserved a special treat for being so brave (and cute, following us around) so I gave him a piece of red tomato, one of his favorite extras.

DS has been reading too many Calvin & Hobbes collections evidenced by his decision to build, in his words, "a screaming snowman" who is about to be devoured by either a snow snake or a snow whale. Or perhaps a snow zeppelin will crash into him as he stands in the middle of the field . . . He's undecided on its exact fate tho he assured me it would be scary and probably very messy. For all that guarantee, I thought this was a pretty cute picture.

DH is recovering from a bad bout of 'flu but still managed to shovel the driveway so I could get back home this afternoon after going over to my DM's before 7 a.m. this morning to help her get going for the day and do several sets of therapy exercises. Someone suggested we read a book about Patricia Neal's stroke experiences to help understand the recovery process and how much difference the time we spend with DM working on all the exercises provided by the physical, occupational and speeh therapists can make in her recovery.

In closing this snowy day's posting, I wanted to include a few more pictures of those silly chickens. To the right is Echa, one of the Turken sisters, being coaxed into the doorway but no farther.

Directly below is another picture of the ones that refused to come out in the snow. On the left is Quirrell, an Easter egg layer and one of DS's absolute favorites, Owl is in the background, Echa is in the lower right front and Broadway, a white Jersey Giant, is on the roost above her. If you've never seen a Jersey Giant up close, note her eyes -- they're different looking from a regular chicken's and she has lead-colored shanks, too, but they're not visible in that picture.

The picture at the bottom is a view under the truck topper with Misha, another of the Turken sisters, the black-and-white Dominique known as Cappy, and several little white hens.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Locker hooking again

This is the rug I made my DSis for Christmas a year ago. The picture makes it look a bit distorted but it really is a rectangle with 90-deg angles!

I used solid red and some dark blue-and-white window-pane fabric and basically started in the middle and worked outward with out a plan. Not the recommended method. After I made the heart (which I did just because I couldn't think of another motif as easy to do as the heart...) I had to fill-in the background and throw in a little more red to round things out. Since I hadn't planned ahead, I didn't have enough red to do a fancier (or even solid) border. But, for a first attempt, I was pleased and DSis insists she likes it, too. I believe her as it is in use and therefore, on display, in her house. (And I've made surprise visits just in case she was only pulling it out of hiding when I'm going to be there. No, really!)

Now I'm ready to do another locker hook project. I'm leaning toward a chair pad for my chair at the kitchen table. Of course, I'd really like to have 4 pads since there are 4 kitchen chairs, but I'm trying not to "promise" myself too much in the way of craft completions these days. I already have the canvas and plenty of fabric to cut into strips with my DM's trusty Rigby cutter. Just have to work out the pattern I want to use.

I'm thinking of a quilt pattern or maybe something from a farmyard scene. That way I could expand the idea to other pads if I get around to them. Maybe a chicken house on one, a barn on another, farmhouse on a third and what on a fourth? I'd go with animals like chickens, sheep, etc. but I think I'll save those for when I'm hooking with yarn instead of locker hooking with fabric strips. Easier to do the smaller details with yarn and a rug hook, I think.

Which brings to mind why I'm contemplating a locker hook project instead of finishing the hooked table pad (rug hook with wool fabric strips) that is all done except for the border. I've misplaced my hook and can't find it! After several weeks of looking in every odd drawer and basket in the grey room and near my chair in the living room, I've reconciled myself to its loss and have ordered a replacement off eBay from a place down the road in Salem. Should be here by the weekend, I hope, and then I've promised myself I'll finish the table pad immediately. But that leaves several days free to get that locker hook chair pad going. And I know where the locker hook is located -- see, I found it while I was searching for the rug hook...

Menu planning for week of January 14

Surprised even myself and followed last week's menu faithfully. So I'm going to try again this week.

Monday, January 14
Since DS is suffering from an upper respiratory complaint (requiring a doctor's visit this morning...) and DH just called from work to say he's coming down with something, too, I think we need some chill-chasin' chicken soup to start off the week. Will let me put Friday's leftover chicken to good use, too.

Chicken and barley soup
Red pepper cheese spread
Orange sections

Tuesday, January 15

Spaghetti w/meat sauce
Tossed salad (lettuce, green pepper, sweet onion and carrots)
Hard rolls

Wednesday, January 16

Macaroni salad
Club rolls with ham, provolone, green tomato pickles and shredded lettuce
Sliced apples

Thursday, January 17

Navy beans
Carrots, celery sticks and garden-fresh turnips
Apple cake

Friday, January 18

Grilled T-bone steaks
Spicy potato wedges
Green beans with chopped onion
Ice cream and apple cake

Saturday, January 19

Catfish bites
Pickled beets
Mashed potatoes
Baked apples

Sunday, January 20

Vegetable beef soup
Oyster crackers
Peanut butter (on crackers or wholegrain bread)
Frozen peaches with almond cookies

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Small knitting project - diagonally-knit dishcloth

These diagonally-knit cotton dish cloths have to be the easiest, most portable knitting project ever. The pattern is so simple I don't have to carry any notes with me and I can put it down without fear of forgetting where I'm at when I next pick it up.

All you do is cast on 4 stitches and knit. For the first half of the square, when you're building up to a triangle that would be half of the square you want to end up with, you knit the first two stitches, yarn over and then knit till the end of the row. That's the directions for each row until you're at the halfway point. Then you start decreasing by knitting the first stitch, knitting the next two together, yarn over, and then knit till the end of the row. Repeat till you're down to 4 stitches and cast off. That's it.

Oh, and these make great gifts, too. They fill out a gift basket or make something to tuck into a gift bag when you need a "thinking of you" gift at the last minute. I try to keep a supply on hand in different colors but they're so quick-to-knit you could always run up a few the night before when in a rush. I've done a couple in the afternoon before an evening get-together but I don't recommend it. I'm finding I like to relax when I knit, rather than do it in a rush where I can't enjoy the process. YMMV

Friday, January 11, 2008

Blue Ribbon Corn Relish

I've won a blue ribbon each time I've entered a jar of this corn relish in the county fair but since they judge by appearance instead of taste on the canned goods, I'm not sure that can be considered as a recommendation. Well, take it from me (and DH who said "you did what?!!" when I recently told him I gave away a couple of jars to a visiting friend) this is a good relish. Adds tang and pretty color (plus a bit of heat if you use hot peppers along with the bells) to a dinner plate.

This recipe comes from the 1990 Kerr Kitchen Cookbook: Home Canning and Freezing Guide. If you've never preserved food by canning before, check out the latest Ball Blue Book or an Extension Service site like the National Center for Home Food Preservation so you'll know how to can safely.

10 cups fresh whole kernel corn (yield from 16-20 ears of corn)
1 1/2 cups chopped green bell peppers
1 1/2 cups chopped red bell peppers
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onions
4 cups white vinegar (labeled 5% acidity)
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 tbs mustard seed
4 tsps non-iodized salt
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric

Drop husked and silked ears of corn into a pan of boiling water. Return to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Dip ears in cold water to cool quickly. Cut kernels from cob. Do not scrape cobs. Measure 10 cups of cut corn. Reserve any extra corn for another use.

In a large saucepan, combine corn and remaining ingredients. Over medium high heat, bring corn mixture to a boil and boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Immediately fill hot pint jars with corn mixture, leaving 1/2" headspace. Carefully run a non-metallic utensil down inside of jars to remove trapped air bubbles. Wipe jar tops and threads clean. Place hot lids on jars and screw bands on firmly. Process in Boiling Water Bath for 15 minutes.

Yield: 6 to 7 pints.

When I want to make this out-of-season, I've used store-bought canned corn instead of fresh. Taste/texture isn't appreciably altered.

To make this with hot peppers, use 1 cup each green bell peppers, red bell peppers and hot peppers of your choice, chopped. I usually use anaheim, jalapeno, or serrano peppers.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Whole Wheat Bread from fresh-ground wheat berries

Over two years ago I sat in on Sue Becker's workshop at a homeschool convention and nodded along with most of what she had to say. The net result was we've switched from baking our own bread from store-bought flour to grinding wheat berries to make our own bread. It is an on-going process -- we still buy the occasional loaf of sliced bread and bag of unbleached flour but DS complains if he doesn't have whole grain bread for toast with his breakfast and (with apologies to Ritz) everything tastes better when it sits on a whole grain slice.

I've been using the Becker's recipe for whole grain bread and making it in the Zojirushi which is an absolutely wonderful bread machine. But the last couple of times I've made bread, I've used a modified version of Sue Gregg's recipe from her "Whole Grain Baking" cookbook. I altered it because I like to bake the bread in a long pullman loaf pan and to get the texture like we prefer it, I add milk or yogurt for some or all of the water indicated and sometimes add an egg or two.

1 1/2 cup yogurt
2/3 cup water
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
4 cups fresh-ground whole wheat flour
1 tbs yeast (I use saf-instant yeast)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup butter, softened or oil (butter improves the texture but I sometimes use oil)
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2-2 cups additional whole wheat flour

Combine yogurt, water, vinegar and 4 cups flour in bowl. Batter may be stiff. Cover with plastic wrap tight against the dough and let stand 12-24 hours at room temperature.

When ready to continue, put dough in bowl for Kitchenaid mixer. Add remaining ingredients (can add 1 or 2 lightly beaten eggs along with other ingredients at this point) but only adding 1/2 cup additional flour to begin with. Use dough hook to blend ingredients on low speed. Scraping bowl as necessary and adding additional flour as needed. Dough will be stickier than when prepared with white flour. After additional ingredients are incorporated into the dough, knead with mixer for about 10 minutes. (This step may be mixed and kneaded by hand, if desired. Kneading will take about 20 minutes by hand.)

Oil bowl and place dough in bowl, turning to grease top of dough. Cover with damp cloth and let rise until double. This takes 2 hours or more in my cool kitchen.

Punch dough down, turn in bowl and cover again. Let rise a second time till double. Will take about half as long as first rise. In my kitchen this is about an hour.

Punch dough down, knead briefly and let it rest for 15 minutes. Shape for pan(s) and place in oiled pan(s). Allow to rise a 3rd and final time (30 minutes or so at my house) prior to baking in preheated 375F. oven for 30-45 minutes depending on pan size(s) used.

I use a 28" pullman pan (I think that's the size -- slightly longer than the store-bought "king" size loaves). If I were to bake it in a regular loaf pan it would make at least 2, possibly 3, loaves.

Don't worry if it takes longer or shorter amounts of time to rise at your house. As long as your yeast is active and it isn't killed off by heat, etc. the dough will rise. If the woodstove's not going and it's a cool day outside, I've had the dough take as long as 3-1/2 hours to rise the first time. The Zoji bread machine has a heater so it's only when making bread by hand that I have to worry about a s-l-o-w rise but it does happen. So be prepared to wait sometimes or help the process along by providing a warm spot for the bowl.

This is our new favorite. I can't wait to try it for melba toast.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Felted bag from handspun

After searching three felting books I gave up on finding a pattern for exactly what I wanted. So picked up my size 10 Addi Turbo circulars, some heathery brown handspun from Abby (my wild Jacob ewe), a little silvery grey handspun from Charlotte (a beautiful CorriedaleX), and two partial skeins of store-bought blue and purple variegated wool yarns. The strap is made from thin leather which I recycled from a '70s-era crocheted vest y mom found at a yardsale. This is what I came up with.

Knitted in the round, the bag will stand up on it's own because when I reached the bottom, I placed two-thirds of the stitches on a holding needle and knitted a flap to form the bottom. When I had the width I wanted, I picked up the stitches on the holding needle and joined it all together. Made a rectangle (read flat) bottom for the bag rather than a more typical rounded one -- typical, at least, in the patterns I found. If they had a flat bottom they tended to be pieced with seam sewing required. Not something I wanted to be bothered with. I like to knit, not join seams with a yarn needle or crochet hook.

I made 4 YOs about 2 inches from the starting round and ran a piece of cotton yarn through the resultant holes while machine felting in order to make holes to run the the leather i-cord thru for the strap. The i-cord gave me the most problem because the leather was so thin I tended to break it by pulling it too tight when first knitting the cord. Once I learned to lessen the tension it was smooth sailing. An appropriate analogy as I knitted this primarily while we watched A&E's Horatio Hornblower series, a dvd set DS and DH received for Christmas and something we all enjoyed watching. And it was nice to see the whole series without any skips from scratches or other viewing problems as when we checked out the individual shows from the library.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Blender Apple Muffins

This recipe came about when I wanted to try Sue Gregg's Blender Banana Muffins from her book "An Introduction to Whole Grain Baking . . . with Blender Batter Baking & the Two-Stage Process" but didn't have any bananas on hand. What I did have was about 1 cup of leftover stewed apples.

This is a recipe that you must start 12-24 hours prior to baking so plan ahead. It's worth it!

1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
1 cup stewed apples (apples cooked in minimal amount of water and no sugar added - grated apple should work as a substitute)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cup soft wheat berries (or whole wheat berries labeled "for pastry")
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 or 2 eggs (I used 2 large eggs)

Combine yogurt, water, oil, honey, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and wheat berries in blender in that order. I use a Vitamix but the book indicates most blenders are up to the job since there's a good proportion of liquid to grain. Blend for 3 to 5 minutes, changing the speed as necessary to maintain that "blender swirl" in the batter while blending. Let covered blender container stand at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 325F. and grease muffin pans or prepare paper liners.

Add eggs to ingredients in blender and blend on highest speed for 1-3 minutes. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt and blend briefly. Fold in with spatula if batter's too thick.

Fill muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake 20 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

The original recipe indicates this makes 12-14 muffins but I ended up with 18 regular and 6 mini-muffins. My pans are old, maybe muffin sizes have increased over the years like fast food combo sizes?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Menu planning attempt for the week of Jan 7

The last month was a bust on menu planning around here what with my mom having a stroke in early December and DH taking a week or more off for the Christmas holidays but we should be able to get on track (sort of) since DMom came home at the end of last week and DH is back on his regular work schedule. So with all good intentions, I'm going to try posting the menu for the main meal of each day so I can stay focused.

Monday, January 7

Oyster crackers
Stewed apples
Carrots and celery sticks

Tuesday, January 8

Beef and noodles
Salad (romaine, sweet onion, carrots)
Sue Gregg's 2-step whole wheat muffins

Wednesday, January 9

Potato soup
Oyster crackers
Carrot sticks
Sliced apples

Thursday, January 10

Whole wheat bread
Waldorf salad

Friday, January 11

Baked chicken
Mashed potatoes
Green beans
Corn relish

Saturday, January 12

Homemade pizza with black olives, mushrooms and ?
Sliced apples

Sunday, January 13

Eggs (over easy, over medium and over hard -- everyone likes them a different way...)
Whole wheat toast
Rhubarb preserves
Orange sections

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Felted bag from rummage sale sweater

I made this bag from a 100% wool sweater labeled "hand wash only" that I found at a church rummage sale. I fulled it by running it through our old wringer washer while washing several batches of towels and then jeans. The hot water and the agitation from the machine, along with the cold water in the rinse tubs and the several trips through the wringer, caused about 40% shrinkage in the sweater.

I wanted to use as much of the fox design as possible so that determined the size of the bag, about 11x13-inches. I recycled a sleeve and part of the front border to make the side pieces. (The side with the border a little longer than the other is from the sleeve.) The bag's back rectangle is from the back of the sweater and is solid green with the flowered border along the top edge. I used the rest of the bottom border to make the flap that folds over the top to close the bag. Any raw edges, such as along the top of the bag or on the edges of the flap closure, got a quick blanket stitch edging with Brown Sheep yarn and I made a chunky buttonhole with the cinnamon superwash yarn, too. (Didn't set out to use superwash but that was what I had on hand in a suitable color.)

Haven't decided on a button yet. I have a few chunky leather ones but I'm leaning towards a toggle made out of black walnut or the tip of a deer antler.

Only problem now is I'm hooked on this craft. It's fast and fun and there are so many bag designs or other useful things to make from these old wool sweaters. Heck, I still have a few sweaters from the '70s in the attic. Those stripes and patterns are calling to me -- gotta run!