Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reading Corner

I love reading.

I do not get the chance to read nearly as often as I used to before kids, but I do so love to read for pleasure.

I just finished reading the last book in the "Earth Children" series named "The Painted Cave" written by Jean M Auel.

I did not love this book, I found it to be full of a lot of repeats from previous books. There were bits of new story in there and I liked getting to live in Alya's world for just a tiny bit longer. I also could never in good conciseness knowing there was one last book out there and never read it.

I am now reading one of my all time favorites by one of my favorite authors,
An Old Fashion Girl by Louisa May Alcott

I have a list started of books I have read but need to go back and add more that I missed putting on there and include the ones that I have read recently.
If you want to check out that list click here.

What are some of your favorite books?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Good Morning Monday...

err ummm I mean Tuesday!

No I didn't forget what day it was, really I didn't!

Ok So over the weekend I got to see my husband. This was a rare and wonderful treat since he is staying out of town for work and coming home on the weekends. It sure has cut down on our gas expenses though! We didn't do much for excitement other then enjoy some fun family meals together, do some grocery shopping together, and watch a few movies. All normal everyday things that we couldn't do during the week.

I also finished up the other sock to match the one I created the first time. I followed my own pattern and actually made another sock. This is a good sign as I hope to write the pattern and make it available for others to use. The socks have the same stitch on the Fingerless gloves on the top of the foot and around the ankle, but the bottom is just a tight even single crochet stitch. The whole thing is worked in the round so the top half of the round is done in the pattern and the bottom half is done with a simple stitch. I prefer ankle socks so my socks did not come up to far, however you can make them taller by simply continuing the pattern around to the desired height. These lovely little socks were done using sock weight yarn in a red colorway of dark burgundy shading out to a deep pink.

I am contemplating refinishing chairs today, They still have not been finished because first it was to hot to try painting them and now it has been raining so much that I cant possibly do it yet. I need to get them done before it really starts raining and I will have to wait until spring. I want to get them done. I have the fabric cut to refinish the seats, I have the staple gun loaded and ready,  I have the paint, the brushes, and the chairs lightly sanded. I just need a day when its not pouring rain or threatening to. :)

Later today I am getting a dresser that needs to be painted and put in my daughter The Bookworm's room. I got a steal of a deal, a real wood dresser (not that particle board crud) and they are delivering it for 20.00! It has a broken wooden handle but that is a fairly easy thing to fix, either with a new handle or a small piece of wood to replace it. That will have to be evaluated after we get it here.

I am considering board games for school today....

What lovely things did you do over the weekend?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Finger-less Gloves~ A Picture

So did my description from the other day do these justice? 

Here are a set of cell phone pictures... 

Shell detail at top of fingers

Inside of glove

You can see the scaling better

Here you can see the thumb detail

So what do you think? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beef Stew

The weather is cooling down a lot and I promised a month or so ago to post pictures my friend took of my Beef Stew. Honestly this had completely slipped my mind until last night! SO without further ado...

Beef Stew~
2 lbs beef, cubed
6 large carrots
4 large potatoes
4 celery stalks
1 large onion
2 cloves whole garlic
1/4 cup flour
All spices are divided
1 tbsp cummin
1 tbsp smokey paprika
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1tbsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2-4 Tbsp olive oil
12 cups water
1 sprig fresh rosemary
*1 tbsp corn starch if needed*

Now that is the basic ingredients list. What makes my beef stew so special? The way I cook it!

we cook in layers for this stew. Its the only way to make it taste wonderful.

I start with my onion, chopping it into about 1/2 squares. While you are chopping heat 2 tbsp of oil in the bottom of the stock pot or dutch oven, when onions are chopped add them to the pot and stir them around. Allow them to cook while you chop the Carrots. The onions should be slightly carmalized in color and soft, add the chopped carrots (they should be no bigger then 1/2" as well) Saute these and allow them to cook until they have softened and started to carmalize. While those are cooking chop the celery and add it to the pot. Next the potatoes go in. I always cut my potatoes in half then into cubes except one half of one potato that is chopped into small pieces. I want this one potato to break down a lot during cooking and help thicken the stew naturally. Once all the veggies have been added I allow this to cook for about 10 minutes then I remove all of the veggies from the pot.

They look like this (O my a picture!)

In the pot
Once it has cooked and removed from pot
Next put half of all the spices in a bowl with the flour, mix well. Trim your meat so that there is very little fat on it and place it in the bowl of flour. Stir to coat all of the meat. Heat the 2 tbsp of oil in the same pot you used to cook the veggies. Be sure not to over crowd your meat. Cook it in batches if you must but do not try putting it all in the pot at once. Brown the meat, taking it out of the pot as it browns and adding a little more oil if need be. Once all the meat is browned add the remaining meat back to the pot and start deglazing your pan. I most often use water because that is what I have on hand however you can substitute burgundy or white wine for some of the water in this step to make a richer flavored stew.

Here is what that should look like:

During this step you need to add any remaining flour that was left after you browned your meat cooking it slightly and making a rue while you deglaze the pan. I typically use 2 cups of water, or wine to deglaze. (BTW Deglazing is just a fancy word for saying removing the bits from the bottom of the pan.)

Next add all of the veggies, the remaining seasonings that you did not use in the flour, the water and that sprig of rosemary to the pot. Cover and let simmer on low for at least 2 hours. This brings your flavors together and thickens your stew.

After an hour if you happen to have fresh green beans like I did you can add them at this point.
Here is what the stew looks like :
After one hour
With Green Beans added
After two hours your stew will look like this:

If the stew is not as thick as you would like it at this point you can take 1/4 cup warm water and add the 1 tbsp of corn starch to it and whisk  it until it is dissolved. Add that to the stew and bring stew to a boil for 1 minute. This will thicken the stew even more and you will have a nice lovely Stew.

A few substitutions can be made. For example if you don't like green beans but love peas you can add those instead. If they are fresh I would add them 30 minutes before you want to serve the stew. Frozen should only be added after the stew is at its desired thickness and no more then 5 or 10 minutes before you want to serve it. You can completely omit the green veggies if you do not like either, or have either on hand.

I hope that you all enjoy this post and this recipe it is one of our fall favorites. I also make a beef stew with a tomato base. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crocheted finger-less Gloves~ A description

Since the suggestion was made that I attempt to describe these lovely finished gloves with words I am going to do my best.

I sure hope that the words do it justice and that you can get a glimpse of what they *might* look like.

I started this project with 'scrap' yarn. Acrylic yarn from my stash. *gasp!* she said acrylic! well yes I do find acrylic to be good for some projects and if worked properly can be quiet comfortable. I chose a lovely shade of deep red. There was a medium sized ball of yarn left over from another project that I did for a friend. I believe it was from the Simply Soft collection of Caron yarns. I believe the color is Garnet now, but I know thats not what it was called when I bought it. :)

Because I do a lot with my fingers I wanted to have the ability to have my fingers free and my wrists still covered when I work as it gets colder. So I started looking around at free patterns for fingerless gloves. There are some but none that had a thumb hole, more of just a slit in the side for the thumb to come out. That's what got me thinking "why not just create my own?"

I started at the top and worked my way down.
These gloves are done in a tight single crochet stitch so that there are not a lot of  'holes' in them. I went for warmth as well as beauty. I started at the top so that I could create the thumb hole and work down towards the wrists. I use a special decrease stitch that allows for a lacy pattern all the way around the glove. I think it looks a little like scales. The decrease stitch has a raised effect so that the stitches on either side of it lay flat giving a nice detail to the glove. I then finished the top of the gloves, only on the backsides not all the way around, with a shell pattern that provides a lovely decorated finish to the tops. The bottoms down by the forearm are just simply straight so that they can be worn under a coat if need be.

I may try to take pictures with the inadequate camera's at my disposal and post them tomorrow, then you can tell me how I did at describing them.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bloging style, life run amok.

I have discovered since my camera is not working that I find it very hard to come here and post a daily blog.

I love to post pictures of what I am talking about. I am certainly a more visual person rather then a just write words about it and describe it all. I just do not really know how to re-invent myself right now so please bear with me and stay tuned.

My camera is still sitting here because I can not find the papers for the warranty information. I know I have it but gosh who knows what happened to it when we moved.

We have been busy around here. Since Spitfire has decided she could read she has been doing it a lot. She reads to me everyday and we are having lots of fun with it. We have all been watching a ton of documentaries too. I simply love netflix for that fact. The documentaries alone make it worth the 7.99 to stream in movies to my wii. Our most recent one was a wonderful one all about the food industry called Ingredients. This film talks about eating locally and in season. It is the best way to eat if you can not grow your own food. I however am convinced that people everywhere no matter where you live CAN grow their own food, it just might take a little creativity. Using planters and green houses instead of just straight in the ground. I think if everyone grew some of their own food the savings would be phenomenal not to mention the taste difference of growing your own food. Learning to eat in season according to where you live is also a really great money saving tool. If you buy locally grown fresh produce you can cut your grocery bill a lot because the local in season food is less expensive then the stuff that is imported from other states, or countries.

We have switched to only fresh baked bread. I have dough that I keep in the refrigerator and use a portion of everyday. Feeding the rest for another day. Then I make a loaf of bread in the morning and we have fresh baked bread for lunches. This has cut our grocery budget a lot too.

I have been crocheting a ton, little things for me. I wrote up a pattern for a pair of fingerless gloves (mitts?) I also created a toe up pair of socks that I totally love. I wish that I could show them to you. I only have one sock finished but the other one is in the works.

I am working on being a better blogger even without pictures. I just am not sure how to get there, so hang in there with me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today marks the 10 year anniversary of one singular event that took place in the United States. It is hard to imagine for some what life was like before that day. The following years brought us changes to this nation that, in my opinion, limit our freedoms and should raise questions as to truth and justice.

When we throw stones into a lake the water ripples out farther and farther. We have got to question the actions we have taken thus far in the 10 years since a tragedy occurred here on American Soil. What are our ripples? what legacy do we leave to our children?  How are we going to be remembered after having this awful blow dealt to us?

Today I remember but do not dwell. Today I honor but do not focus solely on that day 10 years ago, instead I focus on today, and on the future today's. In what little way I can I choose not to allow the negative to impact my everyday. I choose to celebrate and live, laugh and love.

In honor of life I am having a fall celebration with my neighbors. We will gather and have a beautiful day filled with fall foods.

I want to encourage you all to not focus on the negative impact of the few, that is how terror wins. Instead focus on the life you have the love that is in it and the ripples made by that love.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

When life gets crazy

Have you ever had one of those weeks that was so crazy it takes you all week to actually process it?

That is pretty much what has happened this last week. I still can not process where each of the things that happened.

We were each busy with school stuff, the kids are all learning so much its hard to break it down. Spitfire is loving the freedom of reading on her own and is trying out new books constantly. I have been exploring things with my adventurer. The Bookworm and I have been talking about possible part time jobs and what her options for the future are. She thinks she wants to try college part time and since she is a graduate it will require some tests so we are doing some review and practice for testing as well as talking about what to do for test anxiety.

On Monday my husbands director told him he should apply for this other company that will be taking over part of the policing for the hospital he works for so he did. Then on Tuesday the head of the new company was there and wanted to interview him, she had already reviewed his resume. So he interviewed on Tuesday and by Wednesday night he got a call offering him a full time position as the Supervisor of the whole operation with the potential to become the director for 3 other hospitals. This position sort of just fell into his lap. It means a regular shift with decent pay and benefits. He will also still be working part time for the other hospital, how they do not have a conflict of interest is beyond me. They will work him a few extra hours a day during the transition period for each company.

Now comes the hard part. We currently live 2 hours away from where he works. Obviously we can not afford to stay so far away. So we have to decide how and when we can move. Right now we do not have the expenses to move, it costs a bit of money to pack up your stuff and move it, not to mention the fact that we have to have the money for a deposit and rent. So now comes the crunch time. squeezing every penny until there is nothing left to squeeze.

I am still searching for papers for my warranty for my camera to get it fixed. I know that the warranty covers ANYTHING so it should fix my camera if I can just find the silly papers! ahh the joys of moving cross country!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Well to the faithful friends who have hung out waiting for me to come post here I appreciate it!

I finally have my internet back. The camera on the other hand has sat waiting to go to the repair place because in the move I somehow misplaced the important papers for the warranty info. I am not sure yet what to do about it yet.

The past week has been spent doing so many things that I just never seemed to have the time to come over here and blog about it.

We started a free month of netflix and have been watching tons of documentaries. We love them. They are so fun to sit and watch. We learn from them, they spark interesting discussions and are entertaining. I think our favorite so far is one about the civil war.

We did a study on the weather since we have been getting a lot of different weather then we were used to in California. That was an interesting study. We discussed why a lot of weather comes up to where we are and looked at The Weather channel where they show a lot of great break downs of weather.

My son the recycler, builder, adventurer (you choose because they all fit) found some treasures on one of his many hunts. This time it was old coins. So we did some research and discovered that his treasures are worth about 40.00 right now.

This week marks the year anniversary of my beautiful Bookworm almost died. Her appendix ruptured and slowly leaked into her body for almost a week before we finally discovered that's what was going on. She did not have all the typical symptoms of an appendicitis and when we finally took her to the ER she was near death. She had 2 surgeries and was  in the ICU for 11 days and in the hospital for 13 total. It has taken most of the year for her to really recover and she still has some days where she is exhausted even when she hasn't done anything. I am forever grateful for the treatment she received. She had some of the best nurses in the ICU. Her surgeon was amazing! She is now a year into her healing and is working towards a healthy life.

The Spitfire has decided this week that she can read. Yep you read that right... She just decided she could. She walked in and asked me "mom, can I read this book to you?" I said "sure" and we sat here and she read the whole 16 page book to me on her own. I only had to help her with words like The, And, and Was. those pesky sight words can be annoying. As unschoolers we do not force the issue. I had faith that she would learn in her own time and she has done so without any struggle, anger or frustration. She can read many words without any formal instruction. The fact that we are readers in this house probably helped. The fact that we read to them almost every night and they are allowed to look at books whenever they want to for however long they want to is a big help too.

The cuddlebug, not to be outdone by his older sister has declared he will read too. Of course this has not come as easy for him but his eagerness to try is refreshing and I am certain he will excel in his own time and space. Until then I continue to encourage his learning with fun and activities he will enjoy.

I am so glad that I have learned to have faith. Faith comes in so many forms and is needed for so many reasons. I trust that what I am doing for them for school is working even when on the outside it does not always appear that way.

In my in-between time I have been writing a crochet pattern for a pair of finger-less gloves that I made, as well as a pair of toe up socks. I am trying to decide how to publish these. I am not sure I want to just post them free, and what about copy write issues... to many things to think about so I am off to do other things instead.

I think we shall all sit and play a game together today.