Monday, January 25, 2010

Work in Progress

Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it has been a week without an update.  It has been quite the week though.  Patrick was on call.  He only had to go into the hospital one night during all that snow we got.  And we got a lot of snow, there had to have been at least 16” out there.  Of course by tomorrow morning all bets are off the wind is howling and it is raining like stink out there.  Feels like January thaw to me.  Not to worry though, we are looking at 20F temperatures by the end of the week so we will soon be back to our regularly scheduled program. 

Fynn had his half birthday on Friday.  He is getting to be so big.  Here is a picture of him in his towel.  He wanted to wear one “just like daddy”.  So cute.

Last Saturday we went to a holiday party for the IT crowd at the hospital.  It was really nice, we all went out to dinner at Cody’s Roadhouse up in Rockport. It was really fun, the kids had a blast throwing peanut shells at everyone.  And Fynn loved all the kids.  The tables were set up in a big square so we just let him down so he could run around in the middle with all of the other kids.  He thought they were great!

 It was a nice day, I even got to stop at Mainely Quilts on the way. I had never been in there before.  The owner is so nice!  And she does beautiful work!  There are like 5 rooms in that house just filled with fabric and notions.  And the walls are just covered with all kinds of quilty goodness.  It is so inspirational just walking around in there.  I even got some fabric!  I am going to use it for my Robot Quilt pattern project I am working on.  Actually the robots are coming along nicely and I am going to have a tutorial up here for a bag or something with one of them as a freebie for anyone who wants it soon.  It is all aplique and I am really rather proud of it. 
I finished the hat I was knitting for a girl I took a class with last fall.  She was supposed to meet me at the Roadhouse to pick it up, but she never showed.  So I will email her again. It came out nice and I think she will like it, I just need to get it to her.  But now that I have all of my required knitting done for a while I thought it was time to start a new project!
It is a sweater for Fynn!  The pattern is Chaos, you can find it over at Knitty.  I am knitting it in the round instead of flat as the pattern directs.  I hate sewing up side seams!  And by subtracting 1 stitch for each edge I can get away with knitting in the round until I start the sleeve shaping.  And then I will just put the front on one set of needles and the back on the other.  I think it will work out well, I have read about it in the past but this is the first time trying it.  So we will see. 
I hope you all have a great week, and I plan to be back here before next Monday to update again.  

Monday, January 18, 2010

Zuppa Toscana

It is snow out here in Maine and I'm sure there are more then a few kids upset because it is already a holiday and therefore not a snow day.  But it is beautiful, I love looking out my windows and seeing the swirling snow around me.  It feels like living in a snow globe. 
And weather like this calls for soup!  So I thought I would share one of our favorite "recipe" soups.  Most of the time when I make soup it is a chance to clean out the refridgerator.  I just throw everything in a pot, add water or broth and let it decide what way it is going to go.  But there are a few soups that I will go out and buy ingredients for.  And Zuppa Toscana is one them. 
Zuppa Toscana

Smoosh 2 cloves of garlic and chop 2 onions and sweat in 1 Tbs of oil in a soup pot on medium low.  After about 2-3 minutes throw in 6 hot italian sausage links.  (a note about this, if the sausage is frozen throw them in in link form to thaw, if you have thawed it ahead of time then cut the casing off so you have bulk sausage meat, or if you are really luck you will be able to just buy bulk sausage meat at the store, but my grocery store never has it, life in a small town) 

You can just let this go while you chop your potatoes.  I used 6 medium, white, unpeeled potatoes.  Just rinse any dirt off of them before you chop them.  

Let that cook for a few minutes on medium low. Now is a good time to slice the sausages if you didn't remove the casings.

Then add about 4 cups of water and 2 bullion cubes.  Yes, you can use 4 cups of stock or even just water. The sausage will give you lots of flavor. 

Go ahead and let this cook until the potatoes are cooked through.  It will take about 25 to 30 minutes on medium or medium high. 
When the potatoes are cooked through, add your milk.  Now I usually use a combo of milk and evaporated milk.  You can use Half and Half or Cream for part of it but I find it is not necessary.  Actually evaporated mild is a great way to cut some calories if you get evaporated skim milk, it is very creamy and rich and does a great job.  And now throw in the Kale.  I can get big bags of chopped kale at the grocery store here.  Or you can just buy a head of kale and chop it up.  Use 1 whole head or 3/4 of a bag.  Yes, it looks like a lot but it will cook down and taste so yummy.  Put the lid on and let it cook aprox. 5 more minutes. 
Serve with grated parmigiana cheese and some crusty bread.  YUM! 

Oh and here is a picture giving me the look because I forgot to take a picture of a bowl of soup before digging in.  It is just that good!

Friday, January 15, 2010

We have had a rather strange week here in the potatocraft household.  It started on Sunday, actually Sunday night at about 6pm.  I went to go make dinner and we had no hot water. And as our hot water comes directly from the heater, that means we had no heat.  So I called the landlord and we had a repair guy come out and fix it.  No problem, at least not really for me, except that some repair guy had to come to my house at 8pm on a Sunday. 
Fast forward to yesterday morning when I wake up to Patrick standing over me letting me know that we don't have any water coming out all together.  Great, so I get up and we figure out that we have a frozen pipe.  Another call to the landlord and the handiman comes to visit me with his little heat gun thing.  And after a trip down cellar he is standing in my kitchen letting me know that the pipe actually runs up in the ceiling and that we would have to remove part of it to thaw the pipe. Now all this time we've had a trickle of water coming out of the shower to try and get it to thaw on it's own.  And thankfully it decided that moment to finally let loose.  So frozen pipe, thawed.  Great! 
Now where is my phone?  Hadn't really seen is since yesterday, where could it have gone.  Well the last time it went missing we called the number and the trash started to ring.  We'll try that, luckily Patrick was still home with his phone.  So we probably called my number with his phone 2 dozen times trying to locate it.  We even took the trash apart and re bagged it trying to find this phone.  No luck.  So Patrick called US Cellular and had my old cell phone activated with my number. And the cool part is that they were able to talk him through doing that over the phone.  I feel I should point out that we do not have a land line, so without a cell phone I have no way to get a hold of anyone in case of an emergency.  Anyway, so I now have a cell phone and Patrick takes a shower and heads off to the hospital to finish his workday. (up until then he had gone and fixed a computer at an office right here in town, but hadn't yet gone into the hospital)  Just as he gets to the hospital he got a call from the Sheriff's office, someone turned in my cell phone.  They had found it next to the main road right in town.  Awesome! 
So after Fynn woke up from his nap and had some lunch we went to go get my cell phone.  What an adventure!  The police station has been temporarily moved to the old superintendent building by the high school. Okay no problem, so I drive to the high school thinking I would see a sign or something, no sign.  So I asked someone in the parking lot and they showed me to this cute little white house.  Okay, so I drive into the driveway and around the back of the house and there are some police cars.  No sign or anything, just a little white house.   A very nice woman named Betty looked around and discovered that no, my phone had not been turned in there, but at the sheriff's office in the courthouse.  So I went to the courthouse, and asked at the first office I found where the sheriff's office would be.  And found out that it was actually 2 buildings over down some stairs and then on the second floor.  I found it, they had my phone.  Or the hunk of metal that used to be my phone.  Someone even peeled the buttons off the face of it.  Believe it or not it still turns of.  And most importantly, it still had the 4 gig memory card that I had put into it.  So I still have all of my information and pictures. 
Now on to this morning.  I get up and go to take a shower.  Get in there and whoooeeee, it was cold. So I come out and try turning up the heat to see if the furnace is broken or if it is something else all together.  And wait, and wait, and no furnace.  So I call the landlord again......and after yet another repair guy we not at 2 pm have hot water again.  So I'm going to and wash my hair, while I can. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dog Bed

While it is a know fact that in our house the dogs are people.  And they do have pretty much full privileges when it comes to the furniture, they do have their own bed as well.   Actually it is a pillow that sits next to the pie cupboard in the kitchen.  And the pillow case, one that Patrick had made a while back, was seriously hurting.  it had somehow acquired a t shaped rip in it.  Well, not somehow, we know Bean ripped it. She has a habit of scratching and pawing where she is going to sleep, she likes to have things a certain way. 
Anyway, I mentioned to that the cover would need to be replaced and Monday Patrick make up this little ditty.
Yeah, I know, he is being a goof.  He made the blocks a while ago, but decided that they were too scratchy for a quilt because they are upholstery material.   But I think they make a great dog bed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chicken Stew

One of my favorite things about winter in Maine is the food.  Okay, honestly one of my favorite things period is the food. And I have notice that my taste in food is actually very seasonal.  But winter food, YUM!  I just love a cozy soup or stew or casserole or any of those wonderfully warm comfort foods that make you slow down just a little bit.
Yesterday Patrick took the day off from work for an extended weekend so we had a slow down kind of day around here.  Fynn never got out of his pajamas and just did some chore around the house.  Oh, and I went and mailed those book I was talking about yesterday.  But most of the day was spent hanging out here.
And for dinner last night I made this...

Chicken Stew!
And it was so good!
Chicken Stew
I used leftover chicken and the broth it had cooked in for this, there was the meat from about 6 chicken thighs here.  I just took the meat off the bones and saved it in the broth.

Sweat: 1 onion, chopped and 2 cloves of garlic minced in 1 T butter over medium low heat.
After about 3 minutes add 1/2 to 1 cup chopped celery and let that sweat while you chop 2 potatoes into 1" pieces.
Add the potatoes to the pot and stir.
Sprinkle the whole mixture with about 1 T flour and stir to mix.
Add the leftover chicken and liquid and if you need to add a little water so it is just covered.
Pop the cover on and put the whole thing into the oven at 350 F for 45 minute to 1 hour.

Oh and as for the pot, I use this

My Awesome Blue Dutch Oven
A dutch oven is perfect for stuff like this, they can be used on the stove top to sweat the veggies and then put right into the oven to finish the oven. We had this stew with homemade garlic biscuits and big tossed salads.

Monday, January 11, 2010

We had decided to get rid of some of our old books that have been cluttering the house.  So to do this we looked around online to find out where we could sell them and have settled on  It is working out pretty well for us.  We have 3 big boxes of books waiting for people to buy them and ship.

So after listing all of these books on Friday night. (clearly we have no life)  We have actually sold a few.  So I had to get them in the mail today.  Fynn and I went to Family Dollar to get some mailers and in the car we were listening to craftypod, an awesome podcast put out by Sister Diane.  And, because I have a hard time staying up to date with these things, I was listening to the podcast she did in December with her Mom.  And she has the greatest idea ever!  Especailly for people like me, who are getting into this blogging thing and are looking for ideas for their blog, and coming up with them mostly when they are away from their computer.  Anyway, she mentioned that she has a whole year of posts all planned out already!  That is some major planning.  But what she said is, she has a notebook that she keeps one page labeled for each month and when she gets an idea, she just puts in under whatever month would be most appropriate.  And then she can fill in pages behind that with ideas for individual posts. 
Building on this idea, I was cruising around craftzine and came across a great blog called futuregirl.  And she had the greatest post on how to make the pages in a ring notebook removable!  So you can be totally organized and not have to rip pages out and staple them to other pages, and, and, OCD tendancies are totally happy with this.  So now I am off to find a notebook that would work.  I know I have one somewhere in that craft-room that will work! 
See, between the notebook and the idea I found at reesedixon for putting all of my goals and projects up on the side of my blog for a little accountability, I think I am off to a good start. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Resolutions and Stuff

I love a new year, a fresh start and with the foot of snow we got last weekend, a clean slate.  I have always like the idea of resolutions, the execution I often find a bit harder to work with.  So I got to thinking.  And usually my resolutions are long term goals that have no real end or measurable scale of completion, or they are repetitive tasks that in my crazy mind seem to get lost in the shuffle.
Things like, I'm going to write a letter to someone every day are dead before they even get started.  It isn't that I don't want to write letters to people, or that I couldn't write one every day.  It is more like, the days gets away from me, and before I know it I have a sentence or 2 written on a note card and dinner needs to be made or the baby needs changing, or it is time for bed and the letter gets set aside for a few minutes and then forgotten.  So before I know it, I have this stack of 1 sentence letters that will never get finished and well, there goes the resolution.  So this year I thought, since I love to craft anyway, that I would make all of resolutions project based.  Things that I could accomplish and then show off on here. I figure this will do two things, one it will give me things to blog about.  I love to write here and share what I am doing and what is going on, but I don't like to just blather on about nothing.  And it will give me ideas of what to work on when my creative cycle hits a low period.  Yes, I get crafter's block! And what a block that can be. 
I get all kinds of ideas and things that I want to do, but I either don't know how I'm going to accomplish it or I'm afraid of ruining something.  And well, I resolve to just go for it.  From now on, I'm going to try to remember the worst thing that could happen.  I have gobs of fabric, but I get so afraid of cutting into it.  I finally cut into a piece and put the rest into scrap bags or piles of smaller fabric and it gets used for everything.  But when the fabric is beautiful and new from the store or has been sitting on my shelf for a while, well I have this fear that I'm going to ruin it. 
And well now that we have gone on that little tangent back to the main.  My resolutions, I am going to do a list in my sidebar so that I can keep track of what I have planned, when I am doing it and how it is coming. 
I do have a few big project this year, with new babies entering the extended family and birthdays and Christmas, and I have promised myself I will not be caught the last week before Christmas again. 

I also want to do better with pictures in this blog.  I know the blogs with pictures are way better and well, I take enough pictures that this really shouldn't be a problem at all, ya know.  Speaking of pictures, here is one of Fynn, clearly enjoying himself. 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy Holidays!

We are still breathing.  We made it though the holidays.  And while I have some resolutions to report on, they well come at a later time.  Mostly because I am exhausted tonight and headed to bed.  See you in the morning.  Actually that is one of my resolutions, to keep up with this blog a little better. 
Night all!