Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WIP Wednesday the Thirty Fourth...

No progress has been made on the Gryffindor scarf. I ran out of yarn last week, and hadn't had a chance, or the funds, to get more yarn until just recently. But, now that I have more yarn, I figure it won't be much longer now until I'm done. Maybe another week or so?


The baby blanket is coming along smoothly. I will eventually need more yarn for this as well, and I had planned to get some more today, but Joann's was pretty picked over (It took me awhile to find the Gryffindor yarn!) and they only had one of the colors I needed. I decided to wait another day or two. 

I finally ordered some more yarn for the Husband's Slytherin scarf. Knitpicks no longer offers Telemark in the grey that I needed, but their Wool of the Andes Sport brand is the same weight, and it has the same colorway, so I ordered a skein. Hopefully it works out so it can be totally finished!

Today I start my first day of work at my new job. I'm excited and nervous!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Barefoot in the Kitchen with Christmas Cookies...

(shortbread fresh out of the oven!)

Today is Christmas Eve, and my family usually gets together to have dinner and exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. I decided to make cookies this year because I've never made anything for the family get togethers and I thought it would be a nice treat.

First up was Scottish Shortbread using this recipe. Unfortunately, I didn't let the butter reach room temperature. I thought I had, but it was still a bit on the cold side, so the dough was very dry and crumbly. About a quarter of a cup of water fixed that. I also made have spread it out in the pans a little too thick, because it was still a bit on the doughy side - but amazingly awesome!

Next was Russian Tea Cakes. Apparently my Grandma used to make these, or something VERY similar, back in the day. The recipe is pretty easy and straight forward, though the powdered sugar can get a bit messy. I also recommend using a mortar and pestle to crush the nuts into tinier bits instead of chopping them.

Finally I made a batch of brown butter and sea salt cookies (aka crack cookies). These are a bit harder to make because you have to brown the butter. Prior to making these cookies I had never browned butter before, and there is a window of only a few seconds where the butter is properly browned. If you take it off too early, it smells nutty, but is only clarified butter. If you leave it on too long, it becomes burnt. The clarified butter still does the job. I dunno if burnt butter will because I'm usually paranoid and pull off the butter way early. Today I managed to time it JUST right and the butter was properly browned.

The recipe also says to just sprinkle sea salt on the top, but I've never had luck with the sea salt staying on the cookie that way, so I recommend rolling the cookie dough into a ball and then pressing it into or rolling it across a bowl or plate of sea salt.

From my husband and I to you and yours: Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

WIP Wednesday the Thirty Third...

I'm three red stripes, and two gold stripes, away from completing the Gryffindor scarf. However, I'm tempted to make it a little longer than normal, because I did make it wider than the pattern called for and it is meant for a big guy. I dunno. We'll see how it looks when I get to that point.

No progress to report on the baby blanket this week.

However, there has been some writing progress.

And...

The BIGGEST news of all...

I got a job! I start next Wednesday! It's for a smaller company, but they have a much better schedule than my old job did and there's more opportunity for growth! Yay!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Barefoot in the Kitchen with Chicken Pot Pie...

When I was young, my Grannie used to buy these boxed chicken pot pie and chicken and dumpling meals and make them for dinner sometimes. I loved them. While I now know where to find those boxes (in the same aisle as the mac and cheese and hamburger helper) I wanted to try my own hand at making chicken pot pie using some of the stuff I already had in the house.

Basically I used a combination of this recipe from Pillsbury and this one from Campbell's Soup.



Instead of canned chicken or chicken pot pie soup (according to Pillsbury, Progressive makes one) I baked two skinless boneless chicken breasts at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Then I chopped that up, added it to the pyrex dish with some Green Giant steamers we had in the freezer: garden medley and healthy weight mix. I made sure those were cooked first though! 

I opted to use a can of Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup instead of Cream of Chicken, and since that was so thick I mixed it up with a 1/2 a cup of milk. I then added that to the chicken and the veggies, topped it off with a can of Pillsbury Grand's biscuits, and put it in the oven at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. 

Voila!

Overall it was pretty tasty, though I think next time I might use the basic garden mix instead of the garden medley and healthy weight steamers. I also will probably add some onions, and maybe some garlic as well (the husband loves garlic)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WIP wednesday the Thirty Second

The Gryffindor scarf is currently as long as my leg and it keeps my lap nice and cozy while I knit.


The baby blanket is coming along rather nicely too!

In regards to job hunting, I've had two more interviews with two more temp companies, but supposedly I'm in the front running for this one job. They've been calling my references and should be getting back to me later this week, so keep your fingers crossed for me! It would be awesome to have a job just in time for Christmas!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

WIP Wednesday the Thirty First

I have passed the middle of the Gryffindor scarf.

(Connor modeling the scarf)

The baby blanket is coming along quite nicely. I may have to block it to try to get the bottom row to open up and hang right, but I don't know if blocking will work since simply soft is acrylic and I read somewhere that blocking doesn't work on acrylic yarns. If not, I'm hoping that the border will resolve the issue. 


On the job hunt front I've had one interview with a temp agency. They were supposed to call me back this week but haven't so far. Tomorrow I have another interview with a totally different temp agency, and an interview with a company that found my resume online. 

Sadly, I haven't done as much as I wanted to while being unemployed yet. I have written a bit. An author that I liked also released a new ebook, so after downloading it onto my computer I was able to open that into an ebook editing program that I found and see how she put it together. See, a lot of the ebook selling websites tell you to to build an ebook this way, or that way, using Word, or HTML, but none of them really give exact details. I found a WYSIWYG e book editor online, and it cleared up some of the confusion, but actually opening up an ebook file in this editor to see what size font she used and how she included the cover art, etc etc etc. helped a lot and gave me ideas for when the time comes (though that's still a ways off) The Husband and I have also cleaned a bit - those last boxes I never unpacked from the last move are finally unpacked and the Husband found the Christmas lights - but I haven't started walking yet because it's been too cold and windy to venture outside for very long. 

Hopefully all your works in progress are going well

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cooking

In our house, my Husband has always been the one that cooks the meals. I can cook, and was fully capable of putting together some nom-tastic meals when I was living on my own, but the moment he came over, and the moment we moved in together, the kitchen was his. Every now and then I would be allowed access to make a meal, or bake something, but the majority of the cooking was always done by him.

That changed recently: when we came home from our honeymoon, he went from working the morning shift to working nights, so I ended up eating either microwave dinners or fast food. I realized that fast food wasn't exactly helping my waistline or my wallet, so, a couple of weeks ago, I started cooking our meals. It wasn't great at first - I relied on a lot of canned soups and boxed dinners - but over time I've gotten a bit braver. Now that I'm out of a job, I have a LOT more time to cook (and I'll have to be a bit more creative about it) I figured 'why not share it my escapades of attempting what to make for dinner?'

So, starting now, on Sundays and Mondays, I'll be posting updates of my progress in rediscovering my cooking abilities and sharing recipes that are inexpensive and easy to make.