Saturday, December 05, 2009

Proud of the Kids!

As I sit here in the warmth of my house, my husband and sons are on Ft. Smith, Arkansas competing in the regional high school robotics competition.. All the kids worked hard for this and I'm really proud of them. At the beginning of the year, all the competing schools in the state meet at the same time and get the kits and specifications for the robots they are to build. The kids modify and create a robot that has to complete certain tasks during the competition. There is also a separate written and oral presentation that figures into the scoring process. Our kids did well enough to be one of 5 teams from our state to get to Regional finals. YAY CAMPUS COLTS! The final round of the competition is today--I'm sending positive thoughts their way!!
On the home side, the girls are growing in leaps and bounds--I'll post pictures next week. Hopefully we will have the coop out in the yard soon. If you are going to get chickens, I highly recommend having EVERYTHING in place--coop, fenced enclosure if you have dogs like we do, and every possible thing you need--before you bring those cute LITTLE chicks home. As I have discovered, chickens morph into really big chicken in practically no time. We have them in cages right now until the coop is completed, but a wise woman would have had this before the whole process started. Daily cage changing is a pain!!! And you REALLY have to change the pans daily or you end up with sick chickens. You have to keep the outside pens clean with daily maintenance anyway, but it is a little easier when they have the room to roam. That is the lesson for the day! Learn it well!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Growing Up

Remember the girls we bought at Atwoods a couple weeks ago? Remember how cute and small they were? Well, my little girls have grown up....Originally we planned to have them in the coop by now, but I'm concerned they may not do too well in the winter cold since they are still pretty young, so we are setting them up in the garage for the winter and they will go into a coop enclosure when it warms up in the Spring.

They are sooo much fun to watch!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Once A Month Cooking Spaghetti Sauce

Last night we had lasagna for dinner with sauce prepared from page 20 of the Once a Month Cooking book. This is my new go to sauce for spaghetti and lasagna. I did change the recipe a bit and added 1 pound of ground beef in addition to the pound of bulk Italian sausage since we like meaty sauces--and it was excellent. I also browned the meat, drained it and put all the ingredients in my slow cooker to simmer overnight, which made it even easier and added a slow simmered flavor.

With the sauce prepared, I put one cup of sauce on the bottom of a generously buttered 9"x13" baking pan and covered that with a layer of dried lasagna noodles.

Why dry? Doesn't the package say boil until tender? Well, yes it does, but let me let you in on a secret. First, boiling the noodles is a pain and a step I don't have the patience for. I always tear the soft noodles. Since the noodles are going to be covered with sauce, then cooked in a covered pan, they will be tender when it is time to pull the dish out and not soggy. The dried noodles will absorb any excess liquids during the cooking process, which cuts down on the possibility for a soggy entree. Second, you might have to break up the noodles to cover any bare spots. One thing I discovered was the corners of my pans were rounded, which made a 1/4 " gap if I tried to lay the noodles in it. So I snapped of a little of the corner of the noodles at the edge and they tucked into the rounded corners perfectly. Play with it to make it work for you,

Next, put a layer of sauce over the noodles. Mix together 2 cups mozzarella cheese and 1 cup of small curd cottage cheese (trust me on this--it is good). layer it on top the sauce, then put a layer of dried noodles over that, with another layer of sauce. repeat this to make the lasagna as thick as the pan. Make sure the last layer of noodles are completely covered with sauce, then cover and put in a 350 degree oven for approx 45 minutes. Test noodles to see if they are done by putting a knife into a noodle. If it offers no resistance, the dish is done. Take it out and let it sit for 15 minutes so it is easier to slice and serve.

Serve with french bread, salad and fruit. YUM!

Baked Jambalya From "Once a Month Cooking"

In my previous post, I had tried the 12 Boy Curry from The Once A Month Cooking book by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Langerborg. Tuesday I decided to try the Baked Jambalaya on page 22. I love jambalaya and had high hopes for this dish.

I prepared the sauce and it smell outrageously good. Then I added the rice, covered it and baked it. Unfortunately the rice was a bit soggy and mushy when it came out of the oven. Maybe I overcooked it, however the taste of the rest of it was spectacular and the prep work was not too intense. Actually it was downright easy, so I am glad I prepared a double batch (the rice is not frozen with the sauce, it is added before baking) and froze one for later.

As I said, the actual taste of the jambalaya was great, the mushy rice was not, so next time I will prepare the rice separately from the sauce, simmer the sauce in the crockpot and then add the cooked rice right before I serve it to keep the rice from getting mushy or pour the heated sauce over the cooked rice in bowls. Normally I shy away from recipes that don't turn out the first time, but I was please with the taste of the sauce, so I am going to try it again with minor changes. Prepared this way, the sauce can simmer all day in a crockpot on low and be ladled over the rice that is prepared right before serving.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Once A Month Cooking Manual 12 Boy Curry

I am trying my hand at cooking at home more in order to save a little hard earned cash that is normally used to eat out. My eventual goal is to buy a small chest freezer so I can start doing "freezer cooking" or "once a month cooking". That is where you spend an afternoon once a month or every two weeks making enough entrees for 15 or 30 meals that will be frozen for future meals. When I heard about it initially, I thought it sounded like a lot of work and perhaps a bit odd.

But one evening as I was pulling a prepackaged commercially prepared Lasagna out of the freezer, I thought "DUH! What am I doing paying $10 for a meal I could have made and frozen myself for a lot less. "

Not to mention I would be avoiding preservatives and other stuff common in frozen foods. I had attended a workshop session many years ago in Tulsa by the authors of "30 Day Gourmet" and even went as far as to purchase their book. To give you an idea, I have a copy of the first and second edition, they are currently on the 10th or 11th edition. I have to admit that I haven't tried any recipes out of it, however the worksheets and the instructions are worth their weight in gold if you haven't done this kind of mass food prep before. I started collecting a couple other books like this with the intention of cooking from them.

Recently I dusted them all off and decided to try recipes from these books.

I decided I will take 2 books and work through them for a period of 3-4 months. This month I will be working through the Once A Month Cooking Manual by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg and More Don't Panic Dinner's in the Freezer by Sue Martinez, Vanda Howell and Bonnie Garcia. Both of these books are easily available through

Tonight I made the 12 Boy Curry From the Once a Month Cooking Manual.

The prep work was pretty darn easy. Sauteing the chicken in butter, removing then sauteing the chopped onion celery and garlic in additional butter. Combining the dry ingredients, adding to the cooking veggies, adding the liquids and then the cooked chicken. Since our family is not big on celery, I was tempted to leave it out, but decided to go ahead and do the recipe as printed this time. I'm glad I did. The celery is not noticeable by itself, but is definitely a key player in the fabulous flavor of this dish. My only departure from the recipe is that I used the beef soup base I have in the cabinet instead of the canned beef broth, but that is splitting hairs since it is all the same stuff. I just used what I had on hand. I did add a little hot curry powder (1/2 tsp) since our family likes things pretty spicy, but I would advise caution on that. I ALMOST overdid that. Nobody in my family will get cold tonight! LOL!

The prep work on this dish was pretty minimal, it went together fast and tastes unbelievable! If I didn't know I had prepared it, I would say it competes head to head with my favorite Indian eatery.

This one is a definite keeper! When spooned over Jasmine (That was all I had on hand) or Basmati rice, which would have been the most appropriate rice, it is unbelievable.

Since it is night and the light from the overhead light would give the picture a weird orange/yellow glow, I will wait to post pictures of the dish until next time I make it. AND I WILL BE MAKING IT AGAIN SOON! It is fabulous.

I am looking forward to trying other dishes from this book.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Is this CUTE or what?

I had thought about getting chickens for quite some time. This week, I finally acted on it.

Actually, I think it was more like divine intervention. Not sure husband agrees, but that's the story I'm sticking to.

I had originally gone into Atwoods looking for an apple peeler to peel a large amount of apples to make an apple crisp. While they didn't have the kind of apple peeler that will work for me, I wandered into the feed section and found the Fall chicks. I knew they had chicks and other animals for sale in the Spring, but never thought about them selling in the Fall. I guess that makes sense. By the time Spring rolls around, it will be time for them to start laying eggs. I am looking forward to just having to go to my own back yard for fresh eggs! We only have a couple, which will be fine for our sized family and the size lot we have. It is also easier for me to keep a couple chickens clean. They are all pullets (females) since roosters aren't allowed in our city for obvious reasons.

The girls are currently housed in a large cage in our guest bedroom until the coop is in place and they are old enough to go outside. The kids and I love to watch the girls' antics. They are so funny to watch and I can tell they have interesting personalities already.

The reasons for keeping chickens becomes glaringly obvious the first time you have a fresh egg. Not the kind you buy at the grocery store, but a real egg from chickens that are fed real food and allowed room to move around. When we homeschooled the boys many years ago, we went to the home of another homeschooler that had chickens. She sent everyone home with a dozen fresh eggs. The boys and I were amazed at how orange the yolks were and how high the yolks set in the whites. It was amazing! And the taste was incomparable! Ever since then, we have thought about getting chickens. While the cost of keeping chickens does not make it cheaper than store bought when you figure in the cost of food and other things, the benefits are obvious.

And now we have chickens...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Why YES--it is High School football season...

This is Mark. Obviously entrenched in an interesting conversation with one of his team mates.
In the picture above, that's our other twin son, Jeremy--sandwiched between #53 and #77, with his helmet off.

And here he is again, not looking too happy...

We are in full swing here at Casa Davis. Football season has started and both boys are playing again this year. Since they are on the JV team and backup for the varsity team, that means we have not one, but TWO football games each week. Yep. It is keeping us busy and the boys are exhausted every night. Mark usually ends up falling asleep right after dinner. It will only be like this for a couple more months, so in the meantime we are just trying to plug right along.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm Still Here!

It has been a while since I've posted, but I am still here! This summer has turned out to be much busier than I'd anticipated, so unfortunately blogging has fallen a bit behind. I'll return this weekend with pictures of some of the knitting I've been working on, posts on good eats and just general mayhem that is my life!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Soapmaking at The Flying Pig in Wichita

Robin (in the picture) and I took a cold process soapmaking class a couple weeks ago at The Flying Pig here in Wichita. Dani, the owner has a REALLY good smoothie bar in the back so that while you are shopping or taking a class, you can be enjoying one of the best smoothies in Wichita.
Her shop is packed with just about any kind of special touch that you can imagine. She has one of a kind jewelry, pottery, paintings etc by local artists, wonderful candles and bath products for yourself or someone else, and a lot of little treasures. Except the butterfly hooks in the above picture. Those had to come home with me. She can probably order some for you, but these babies had my name on them.

OK, so my hand was not completely still. Sorry! But I did get a picture of the owner, Dani, on the left and my friend Robin on the right. All the bottles are the makings for soap. The class was FANTASTIC. Robin and I made the same kind of soap (Cocoa/vanilla) with all kinds of wonderful oils and goats milk. It really got my creative juices flowing. I've made cold process soap in the past, but put it aside because the kids were so small. Now that I have brushed up on the basics again, I really want to start making soap again.
Dani is very sweet and shares a wealth of information, so I came away really inspired. She offers soapmaking classes at a really great price, so contact her and let her show you how to make something special of your own. Or you can buy some handcrafted soap made by her right there at the shop. She has several varieties.
Once you use real handcrafted soap that nourishes your skin instead of stripping the life out of it, you will not go back to the supermarket stuff. And by the way, look at the labels of the "soap" you are using. Notice it says stuff like deodorant bar, complexion bar and a variety of other labels--anything but SOAP. That's because it is not real soap.

And here is Robin. Watch it, she is a handful of trouble! LOL.
If you have time, stop in Dani's shop. It is a locally owned, female owned small business, so your money stays local and supports our local artists and shops. We need locally owned businesses to thrive in Wichita!!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

For Chris

Ok Christine-- Is it wrong that I saw this list and thought of you?



1. I can see your point, but I still think you're full of shit.
2. I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.
3. How about never? Is never good for you?
4. I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.
5. I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to see it my way.
6. Who lit the fuse on your tampon?
7. I'm out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message.
8. I don't work here. I'm a consultant.
9. It sounds like English, but I can't understand a word you're saying.
10. Ahhhh. I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again.
11. I like you. You remind me of myself when I was young and stupid.
12 You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.
13. I have plenty of talent and vision; I just don't give a shit.
14. I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
15. I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you.
16. Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view.
17. The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist.
18. Any resemblance between your reality and mine are purely coincidental.
19. What am I? Flypaper for freaks?!
20. I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.
21. It's a thankless job, but I've got a lot of Karma to burn off.
22. Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial.
23. And your cry-baby whiny-assed opinion would be?
24. Do I look like a people person to you?
25. This isn't an office. It's Hell with fluorescent lighting.
26. I started out with nothing and I still have most of it left.
27. Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.
28. If I throw a stick, will you leave?
29. Errors have been made. Others will be blamed..
30. Whatever kind of look you were aiming for, you missed.
31. Oh I get it. Like humor, but different.........
32. An office is just a mental institute without the padded walls.
33. Can I swap this job for what's behind door..........Number 1?
34. Too many freaks, not enough circuses.
35. Nice perfume (or aftershave). Must you marinate in it?
36. Chaos, panic, and disorder. My work here is done.
37. How do I set a laser printer to stun?
38. I thought I wanted a career; it turns out I just needed the money.
39. I'll try being nicer if you'll try being more intelligent.
40. Wait a minute - I'm trying to imagine you with a personality.
41. Aren't you a black hole of need?
42. I'd like to help you out, which way did you come in?
43. Did you eat an extra bowl of stupid this morning?
44. Why don't you slip into something more comfortable? Like a coma.
45. If you have something to say raise your hand... then place it over your mouth.
46. I'm too busy, can I ignore you some other time?
47. Don't let your mind wander, it's too small to be let out on its own.
48. Have a nice day, somewhere else.
49. You're not yourself today, I noticed the improvement straight away.
50. Do you hear that? That's the sound of no-one caring.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


Another funny one from Christine. Actually there were a whole bunch like this, I'll post them bit by bit. However, this one I LOVED the most..

I guess I should sign off and take a hormone pill, huh?

Thursday, July 02, 2009


The dogs in this house are not spoiled. Especially by the my teenagers, who TOTALLY ignore them as you can see.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Yep, more Amsterdam photos...I loved the tulips so much while I was there that I actually ended up buying a couple dozen kinds of tulips that I haven't seen here in the states. They ship them in October, so I'm going to get the beds ready so that I just pop them in when they get here. I might even end up buying another 200 bulbs from them before the season begins. I saw a lot of the really bright ones in their email the other day. As you can tell, I'm not a mute/demure color kind of gal.
This apartment building was just so darn pretty! It looked like something from a painting, which is probably something that I will be doing. Getting to go to really great world class museums (and there were hundreds more in Holland) and seeing the sights really got my creative mojo going again. I have started to paint again, which I had put down since life got so crazy busy.

These are gorgeous! This is about as muted and pale as I go...However, we'll see. I might have a gaggle of pales in a special planting this Spring because there were some really pretty tulips and other plants at the public gardens in Amsterdam.
And so inspiring.
I can understand why people go to Europe to get inspiration. I can't describe it, but you can't help but get inspired amid all the sights. The history is amazing. I was so in awe that I was amid building built in the 1600's and before...and the just have to go. I can't even start to explain it. Yes, there were some seedy areas, as there are in all metro cities, but not too bad.
Next time I go back, I want to stay closer to the city center. I enjoyed taking the train -- I love trains--but it would have been great to just be able to wake up and tumble into the streets. However, the hotel we were at had this tub that literally came up to my neck, which was heaven for taking a long soak. I wish I could find one like that here in the states!! I'd even remodel a bathroom for that! However, I can tell you that it did not have a safety on the hot water. The water can out at what felt like boiling! I had to be careful to monitor that.
Well, goodbye for now.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Can never have too many Amsterdam Flower Pics, right?

More Flowers!

More flowers--you can never have too many flowers! And the public gardens had more than enough! Since you can't bring bulbs into the country yourself (they have to be certified and inspected by the U.S), you can order certain bulbs there to be sent later. I bought some blue tulips and a couple other bulbs that I haven't been able to find here. They are supposed to come in October--I can't wait! They will be a wonderful rememberance of this trip.

The color combinations were absolutely stunning!! I could have spent an entire week there just looking at the tulips, but there was also an orchid exhibit going on in one of the show halls that totally captured my heart! I love orchids!!

Sunday, June 07, 2009


My friend Christine sends me funny posters from time to time and this one got us all laughing.

Thanks Christine! I needed the giggles.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

More Amsterdam

A bakery window. The stuff inside looked awesome. And yes, the guy with the orange hat was celebrating Queens Day as was the bakery clerk.. Holy Smokes the stuff inside looked so good! We had already eaten or I would have collapsed face first into the window display (from the inside, mind you, since glass with my pastry didn't seem as appealing.)

I loved the canals! The homes along the canals were so pretty. I would love to have a home like this. However, I'm told real estate in city central is pretty pricey. Look at all the tiny cars. They are all over Holland, but I did see some Ford vans and a couple American style (large) cars while there. However, they are not common. With gas prices at almost $3 a LITER (WOW!!), driving a gas guzzler is really not practical. On the first day we were there, my friend had a business meeting so the company sent a driver to pick us up at the airport and to drive us home after the meeting and lunch. The driver on the way back to the hotel was very friendly and we talked quite a bit about the differences in America and Amsterdam. At lunch I got quite a bit more insight into life in Amsterdam. Everyone pays a large percentage of taxes, but most don't complain since these taxes go into services like medical and housing. I ask one of the men how they felt about such high taxes and he said in Amsterdam, people look out for the common good , which is different than America where we tend to be more independent and think everyone needs to attend to themselves.

More of the intersecting canals. This is during Queens Day, which explains the packed boat. This canal was less crowded than the most of the other canals, which were packed with boats of celebrants. See all the boats tied up along the canal? I could soooo get used to living here! I loved being on the boats that we took around the city.

Did I mention that I really loved visiting there and can't wait to get back?
The only thing I didn't find in Amsterdam was a yarn shop. However, next time I will be more determined to find a shop and knit in public.I was unsure of how hard it would be to bring my knitting on the plane, so I left all my knitting at home. I regretted that. It would have been good to be able to knit both on the plane and while we were at the hotel. Being without something to knit was an odd feeling.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

In Honor of George Tiller

Dr. George Tiller was murdered by a cowardly terrorist today while serving in his church.
He was a hero for women's choice and will be missed. I am sending a donation to a Pro Choice organization in honor of Dr. Tiller and encourage you to do the same.
I hope the President takes notice of this and takes action to keep these acts of terrorism from happening here in America. If this is not dealt with quickly and harshly, we are paving the way for Taliban-like groups that kill and intimidate others that don't believe as they do.

Friday, May 29, 2009

More Amsterdam Architecture.

Just look at the ornamentation on these buildings.

Amsterdam Photos..

The guy with the crazy wig had the best seat in the house to observe Queen's Day.
I was told that building at one time were taxed according to their footage on the street. This is a reason lots of the buildings are skinny but tall. This building really plays that to the hilt. It really is leaning inward a bit and angled oddly(but possibly less than it appears in the picture since the camera may be a little slanted too. But you get the idea). Hence less taxes..Clever, and eye catching solution to property taxation, don't you think?

All the orange hats were part of the Queen's Day celebration. Everyone got one as they entered the city.
I was a little dismayed at all the people who were throwing them on the ground, but I'm sure they realize they pay for them one way or another. Who do you think pays for the city to clean them up? I did see an awful lot of litter, broken bottles and trash around the city, but I'm hoping it was just because of Queen's Day and not a normal situation in the city.
All in all, the city is absolutely charming with unbelievable architecture and charm. It felt really odd to go past building with date of the mid 1600's on their gables.
I really fell in love with this place--absolutely and completely!! I can't wait to get back.

Most of the streets intersect with canals. Just look at the ornate footings on the bridge. Works of art!!!
These are just a couple of my pictures. Since I have a card reader, I'll start posting bit by bit and telling you more.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I know I said I was going to post pictures from Amsterdam "the next day" --but then I discovered that the new computer does not have an SD chip slot. I guess we got so used to seeing them standard on even the low end computers that we assumed the Dell replacement we got would automatically have one.

It doesn't.

So Cute Man is going to get a portable SD card reader so I can get my pictures on this blog.

That said, I was really inspired by the gardens that I saw in Amsterdam and have decided that I am going to do more container gardening this summer. I'm sure I'll have to be a little more careful about the plants I pick since the weather here is much hotter than there, but there are plenty of flowers that take the heat well, so I am going to take a trip to the garden center today to start planning. I want to paint the pots in colorful designs, so that is what I will be doing this afternoon. I figure the pots will take about a week to completely dry, so I'll spend the rest of the week planning. I did buy some plastic pots for the deck though. I want to grow herbs right outside my kitchen so I will plant those this week. I am hoping little man (my grand nephew) cooperates and goes through the greenhouses with me on Monday. I am looking for peppermint to plant in my garden and around the yard where the soil is having problems washing away. Peppermint can be invasive, which is what I want in these areas. I considered bamboo, but that is REALLY invasive, which is what I don't want. Once you plant bamboo, you can't eradicate it. It's the cockroach of the plant world. Plus let's face it--putting bamboo in the grasps of males in inviting trouble. Can't you just imagine the fun they'll have cutting stalks off to cane each other....just the little things you have to consider when anything with testosterone resides in your home...LOL.

We have had my 2 1/2 year old nephew here for the past week, so not a lot has gotten done around the house. There is a possibility that he'll be with us for the summer, so I'm going to have to figure out how to work my schedule. Unfortunately it has meant that I've been unable to get to the yarn shops that I love so much--Twist in Wichita and The Newton Beadery in Newton--but I'm going to be figuring out how to work that out. Both are places that allow me to decompress and relieve stress.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Turn off the music player at the bottom of the page and listen to a pretty interesting discussion on schools and creativity...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Whiz kids...

While I was in Amsterdam, I took in all the sights, took pictures and compared things there to what I am accustomed to in the United States. There were many things I really loved, some were a bit surprising to me, such as the men's urinals on street corners.

While we were walking the streets, I kept seeing little partitioned structures on street corners with little basins on them. Not seeing anyone near at first, I reasoned that they must be some sort of hand washing structure. Thankfully I did not try that out since a couple minutes later a guy sauntered up, unzipped and relieved himself.


It was a very public urinal right there on the street corner.

Since I was a wee bit shocked, I missed taking pictures of these structures -- nothing spotlights you as a tourist more than taking a picture of a public whiz spot. But the concept of whizzing in public was thankfully limited to men. Women had to go hunt down the very limited bathrooms---if you were lucky, the cafe let you use their bathrooms as in the case of the Esprit cafe near Spui. They were very gracious about it since I was probably sounding like a really desperate American.

As I said, I didn't get pictures, but this blog has a great example of one. See? IT IS NOT ENCLOSED!!

However, I guess it is better to have these since I'm sure that the men who have the gumption to whiz at these would just as easily relieve themselves in the canals, on buildings etc.... much like college bars on a Friday night in America, come to think of it.

When my husband was in college, he lived in a little apartment near the alley of a very popular bar. We were forever looking out the bathroom window and seeing some guy relieving himself on our wall. Ever so often I would chuck a pitcher of ice water out that window to defend the wall's honor. I'm sure some of those guys were so snockered they thought the wall whizzed back at them.

I'm Back!

Ok--so it has been a while since I've posted. A lot of things have happened and it will take more than one post to get everything caught up, so here is a brief rundown. I will post more detailed posts starting tomorrow.

1. Went to Amsterdam. LOVED IT! Can't wait to go back next year, but I think I'll plan it either before or after Queen's Day, not during. While it was interesting to see the huge crowds of people celebrating, the streets were so packed that in several areas, my friend and I felt like we were being squashed in the crowds. We did get to do quite a bit of walking, ride the canal taxi,visit the Van Gogh museum and the public tulip gardens, so the trip was really awe inspiring.

I'll post pictures tomorrow with a longer explanation.

2. Learned to knit lace. I have taken 3 lace knitting classes in the past couple weeks and am currently working on a triangular lace shawl for the last class in the series. Lace 1 was a very basic class that introduced us to the concepts by having the class work a scarf in the feather and fan pattern and a scarf in the horseshoe lace pattern. I am actually still working on the horseshoe lace scarf because I made it quite a bit longer than the class sample. The second class expanded on the concepts and taught us how to read the chart and knit the "Branching Out" scarf. I've started that one, but it is currently waiting it's turn in line. That said, I am working on the triangular lace shawl from lace 3 and will hopefully be able to get it completed by next month. It requires quite a bit of concentration, so needless to say I only knit it when the house is quiet. That is going to be a challenge very soon since.....

3. My grand nephew is coming to spend either part or all of the summer with us. He is a 2 1/2 year old bundle of pure energy. Yep, this is going to be an interesting summer to say the least.

As I said, this is just a brief catch up post--I'll take each category and beef up the details over the next couple days to catch up.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy!!

Above: The finished scarf from my rigid heddle weaving class. A little shorter than I'd hoped, but Hubby said it is a good length for him to tuck under his coat collar. This scarf was made for him in the colors of his alma mater (Oklahoma State University) which is also our hometown (Stillwater, Oklahoma). Since this is my first scarf EVER, I was experimenting with the striping. I do have to work a little more on weaving in the ends--the instructor taught us a trick, but I might have to go back to have her show me again. This weekend I'm going to do a longer scarf for him in the same colors but with different striping sequences. And here is a picture of the scarf pretty close to the beginning. I took a beginning rigid heddle weaving class at The Yarn Barn in Lawrence, Kansas this past Saturday. It was a wonderful class and the instructor was fantastic. To show what a small world it is, the instructor of my rigid heddle class grew up in the town next to mine, and her Dad teaches art at my kid's high school!

I love going to Lawrence to take classes at the Yarn Barn and to visit their wonderful shops and restaurants. It is a very vibrant and eclectic college town with a bustling downtown. Each time I've taken classes at The Yarn Barn hubby has driven the almost 3 hour drive with me and wandered around downtown while I'm in class. He's such a sweetheart! This time the class was from 10 a.m until 5:00, so he was definitely on his own for an extended period. We like to spend a little time sitting on one of the many benches and just watch people and their dogs. A lot of people walk their dogs downtown, so it is always a great place to just sit and look.

No trip to Lawrence would be complete without eating at my favorite Indian restaurant (India Palace)which is located right around the corner from the yarn shop. Convenient, huh?

Usually we head over to Half Price Books afterwards, but to tell you the truth, I was pretty darn tired. Since we had to travel to Stillwater the next day for Easter and we opted to just head home. It was a really good day though.

I was REALLY happy that I took the class. The instructor was great and I actually bought the 16" loom my scarf was on. This allowed me to take the scarf home on the loom and continue where I left off. I do have a 24" loom that I bought a month ago, but the 16" will be a good size for something thinner like scarves. I am going to warp both of them this week so I can do another scarf for Cute Man and a shawl for me. I love the look of woven shawls, which is why I took the class, but I don't think I'd have the patience to warp a large floor loom. The rigid heddle is perfect for me. Plus, it is portable. I really like that I can take it with me if I go to the lake. My 24" folds and has a carrying bag, which is great for travel also. The 16" doesn't fold, but I can sew a carrying bag myself if I decide to take it out a lot.

I'm not abandoning knitting, just learning a new fiber addiction!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

And You Think YOUR job sucks?!

Exactly how do you get to be the guy who goes in to see if it's REALLY a bomb? Do they draw straws or is it decided by who makes the boss mad that day?

Notice the cop following him in, craning his neck...AND THEN HE'S GONE. Like totally nowhere in sight... Yeah, thanks for the backup there buddy..

I love the "too cool to run" walk they're doing in this video. Don't know about you, but if I see the bomb squad rollin' in, my happy arse is SOOO OUT OF THERE! None of this cool "Miami Strut" like in the video. I'd be running like...well, let's just say I'd be running and leave it at that, shall we?!

So, on days when things just suck at the office and your boss is really making you mad, remember: A day that sucks is still good, but a day in "the pretty suit" could really blow.

Another thing: Is it just me, or does that suit look like a costume mix from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Like a mix of Shredder's face gear and a Turtle's body sans the shell.

Yep, one of us definitely has spent too much time watching cartoons with kids.

OK. I'm done.

I'll get back in my box now.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hard to be a Gangsta' in Yo Mama's Ride

My teenage son, Mark and I were waiting outside the school this afternoon for his twin brother when a white mini van pulled up beside our car. Actually, we could hear it from half a block away because it was vibrating bass so loudly that our attention was captured quickly. In the front seat of the mini van was a kid wearing his baseball cap sideways and bobbing his head to the rhythm of the already overloaded speakers.

Apparently he thought he was THE BIG MAN sitting there in THE MINI VAN.

Mark And I looked at each other and grinned.

Mark said "Yo,Yo, Dog-- don't make me hit you with my extra cupholders" with such a straight face that I busted out laughing. Then he said "Don't make me shank you with my soda can".

Both of us were laughing so hard at this point that people were looking at us. To which Mark adds "Yo, I'd fight ya, but I have to pick kids up from soccer practice"--again with a straight face. By the time Jeremy got to the car, I was laughing so hard that I couldn't drive.

So--word up to all you wanna be "GANGSTAS": Ya just can't be a pimp daddy in your mama's ride.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Holy Smokes! Great Pizza Dough!!

I have a copy of the book "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" and have seriously considered making a couple of the recipes from it for quite some time. As a matter of fact, I bought a couple 6 quart lidded containers to keep dough on hand in my fridge, but had not made it until a couple days ago. I had made the dough and put it in the fridge but hadn't used any of it until tonight.

What took me so long? This stuff is fabulous!! Tonight the boys wanted homemade pizza and I was getting ready to make dough from my regular recipe, then I remembered the dough in the fridge. Pizza dough is basically thin bread dough, so I thought, "What the heck, let's give it a try."

This dough is different from most dough in that you really need to use it from the fridge when it is cold, or it gets sticky. I worked it from the center, stretching it thin, then put it on parchment paper to thin the edges out. I stretched the second pizza dough until you could almost see through it and it turned out to be the one we liked the best. This dough does rise more during the baking process, which is great for bread rounds, but thinner is better for pizza. After I got it thinned out to the point I liked, I topped it with pizza sauce ( 1 can tomato sauce, 1 small can tomato paste, 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning--brought to a simmer then allowed to cool..I also add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, but you can dress it up the way you like...) and added toppings like drained canned mushrooms and chopped black olives, pepperoni and whatever else we feel like at the time.

Holy Smokes, this is good stuff. I think this is going to be my standard pizza dough recipe from here on out. I love that it is ready in the fridge whenever we get the hankering for pizza (and we can use the dough for boule bread loaves when we need it for dinner) and it save a ton of money, not to mention time.

Try it and let me know what you think. As I said, I bought the book, but the New York Times has one recipe from the book here. This is the one I used, although I did have a pizza stone in the oven, I spread my dough out on baking parchment paper and didn't do the broiler pan with water since I was doing pizza, not bread loaves. I'm going to try to find a pizza peel though so I can try the recipe the way it was written. I'll report back on that later this month.

Down time

Let's see...This week I finished the first scarf from my lace I class and started on the second one. The brown one is a feather and fan stitch pattern done in Rowan yarn and so is the Horseshoe lace pattern scarf below. I finally learned how to read a charted lace pattern. Luckily this pattern is pretty easy and doesn't require an insane amount of concentration. The week after I had this class, I took the lace II class and started on the Branching Out scarf. That one is going to take my full concentration, so I am working it slowly. The Lace III class actually makes a triangular piece so that will be interesting. While it calls for lace weight yarn, I can tell you already that I will be using fingerling weight yarn. I've already had a run in with lace weight yarn and really don't want to go back there again!
Neither of these have been blocked, so this is not their final look. Blocking will open up the pattern and give the stitches the proper definition. I'm hoping to get the horseshoe lace scarf completed this week so I can wear it. Since our weather has been pretty darn warm lately, I thought I would be working on the scarves for next season, but look what we got yesterday:
SNOW. A LOT OF SNOW...and ice.

This is not a good picture to show just how much, but I think more snow got dumped on us last night than we've had all season. It started out raining ice -- Karen described it on Twitter as raining snowcones...good description! And as it pelted you, it felt like little needles...ouch.
The bad thing was that I had gotten up yesterday with the intention of going to the grocery store before the storm hit. On the way to the store, I stopped in our old neighborhood to see if our old neighbor (that the kids adopted as "Grandma" when we moved in) needed anything. We ended up visiting long enough that the storm had moved in by the time I left. I ended up going to our local Homeland store, which I generally avoid because they are notorious for having frozen food that has been thawed and refrozen.. I didn't buy anything frozen, but I did join half of the town in trying to get provisions.
The sad thing is that I fully realized the storm was not going to be lasting more than a day or two, but I stocked up on canned goods like I was expecting Armageddon! What's with that?!
It was nice to be forced to shut down and stay home knitting all night though.
I had anticipated it snowing and icing all day today, but the sun is out and it is melting...there goes my excuse to putter all day..But I am still hanging out knitting and baking cookies. Hubby wanted peanut butter cookies, so I made a batch this morning. Tonight I will make homemade pizza and look at chicken coop plans. Next weekend we are going to build the enclosure for the chickens that we are going to get. I haven't decided on a chicken coop design, but I'll probably just show hubby what I want and let him do his magic. He's pretty good at that.