Sunday, October 14, 2018

My First Cardigan

I have knit many elaborate afghans.  I consider myself a fairly accomplished knitter.  But I have never knit a sweater and I have always wanted to try one.

Now that we have a granddaughter, I thought I could start with a child's sweater.  She would be less critical than an adult and she would outgrow it before too long so wouldn't be stuck wearing a poorly knitted item for a long time.

Rachel is wearing size 3 clothing, but I used a size 4 pattern.  I wasn't sure how long it would take to finish this first project.  I chose to knit a cardigan. That is a sweater that buttons up, rather than a jumper that pulls over the head.

  

The pattern was quite simple.  You knit the back, the two front pieces and the sleeves.

  

Next you sew the front shoulders to the back.  Then the sleeves are sewn in.  After the sleeves are in you sew from the bottom to the armpit, closing the body of the cardigan.  Knit the wrist to the armpit, closing the sleeves.  I used place holders to make sure the pieces lined up correctly.

  

The part that was the scariest was knitting in the front placket.  To do this, you pick up stitches from the edge of the front of the opening in the cardigan and sew up and around until it is an inch wide.  I needed to go back to Yarn Explosion and view YouTube videos to figure out the whole process.

  

I also needed YouTube help to knit in the buttonholes.  The pattern I purchased was woefully inadequate for a novice sweater knitter.

  

The ladies at Yarn Explosion suggested cutting a square of felt to use as a backing when sewing on the buttons.

  

After sewing, I cut the excess away, so there was stability behind the button, but it wasn't visible .

  

I like the finished product. I hope Rachel does.

  

Now I am inspired to do a grown-up version.   Maybe one with cables and a more elaborate pattern.  It is fun and rewarding.

But next I am going to try working with a lathe to learn to make wooden bowls.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Reunited and it Feels So Good

Lee dropped off his 1962 Rampside Corvair pickup at a local body shop in September, 2016.  He was told it would be finished in a few months.  After a few months he was told it would be 3 weeks or so. It was "3 weeks or so" every few months since then.  For more than two years.

  

They called yesterday and it was finally finished!  He hooked up the trailer and went to go get it.

  

There were a few minor issues I would have mentioned, but Lee just want to load up the Corvair and get it out of there!

  

Now he needs to put on all the bits and pieces he took off so that it could be painted.

  

This is where the ramp folds down.

He also needs to do some work to get it to start.  It has been sitting for over two years, after all.

  

But that will give him a fun project over the fall.

I'm sure he will be glad to have a drivable, finished truck.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Doing The Job

   

We have 4 Butterfly Bushes.

  

This one is particularly full and lush.

  

It is covered in Monarch butterflies and it makes me happy.

This one is smaller, but still is hosting quite a few butterflies.

  

I'm doing my part.  How about you?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Quilt-Finished

  

I have been working on a Missouri Star Quilt designed by 3 Dudes Quilting. You can see a video here.  For me, the hardest part of any quilt is the actual quilting.  I don't turn my finished quilt tops over to a professional quilter.  A lot of people do.  I don't for two reasons.  One, it's my quilt and I don't think I can claim it if I have someone else do part of it. Two, it is expensive to have a quilt finished and I am cheap.

If you have been following my blog, you will have seen progress on this jelly roll quilt. ( A jelly roll is a roll of strips of fabric cut into 4 foot lengths. all the fabric goes well together and it is a way to make a fabulous quilt in less time.  Check out the video!)

I had to take a break.  I was tired of quilting.  I made some baskets, I made some pillow cases for Ryan's Case For Smiles and I was ready to finish the quilt.  Plus, I had decided I wanted to gift it for Christmas, so I had to get it done!

The fabric isn't pink.  It just looks like it in this light.
 

You can see the stitch in the ditch, and free motion quilting detail best on the back of the quilt.  I used a thread that blended in with the back, but you can still see the detail at the right angle.  

Even after you finish the quilting and the binding, you aren't quite done.  You need to snip off any stray threads and to clean and iron your quilt.

  

The fibers from the batting in the middle gets on top of the quilt when you are working with it. At least mine does.

  

I like to a use a sticky roller over both sides of the quilt to pull off any stuck fibers.  And the occasional me hair!  I like to press my finished quilt to make it crisp looking and get rid of any wrinkles.

  

Then I am done!  I always take a picture of a finished quilt.

   

And now I can start on the knitting project I have been thinking about.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Maple Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

I like to make cookies from time to time.  They can sit in the pantry and last a week or so for a nice treat now and then.  The impetus for this recipe came, as many do, from a book.  A character in a book was eating maple pecan oatmeal cookies and that sounded fabulous to me.  The fact that it has oatmeal means that I can pretend it is good for me.

  

Maple Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups oatmeal
1 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans, divided use
1 cup brown sugar, divided use
1/2 cup butter, one stick, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  

Place 1/4 cup of the pecans and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar in a small bowl and mix well.  Set aside.

  

I use a Kitchen Aid mixer as it is easier to really beat the butter to a creamy, almost white, consistency. So, beat the butter until creamy and almost white.  Add 3/4 cup of brown sugar and mix well.

  

  

 Add maple syrup, maple flavoring, and the egg and continue mixing until smooth.

  


Place the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in the mixing bowl and mix in. Mix in the oatmeal.

  

 Add the 3/4 cup of chopped pecans and blend.

  

Chill for at least 30 minutes.  One hour is better.

  

This will help the cookie dough to firm up and allow the oats to soak up a lot of the flavors.

  

Heat the oven to 350ยบ.  Line baking sheets with a Silpat or parchment paper.  Use a medium cookie scoop to place balls of dough on the baking sheet.  Use two spatulas, one to press down and flatten the cookie balls and the other to release the dough from sticking to the first spatula.

  

Take a teaspoonful of the cinnamon pecan topping.  I used my fingers to place a portion on the cookie and then flattened it a bit more to allow the whole teaspoon of topping to be pressed into the top of the cookie dough.  Return the bowl of dough to the fridge also it can keep cold while baking.  Bake the cookies for 12 minutes,  The edges should just be starting to turn brown.

  

Cool the cookies for two minutes.  Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

  

Serve warm.

  

And with a cup of tea or coffee.

  

Monday, September 10, 2018

Beef and Broccoli Lo Mein

I found some stir fry noodles at Fresh Market in Roanoke.  That sounded like the start of a great Chinese dinner.  If you can't find them, you can use lo mein noodles or even spaghetti noodles.  Just cook them according to the package directions.

  

Beef and Broccoli Lo Mein

1 package stir fry noodles
8 ounces steak
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3 cups broccoli florets
1 large carrot or 10 baby carrots
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper

  

Prepare all the vegetables.  Thinly slice the carrots, cut the broccoli into florets, mince the garlic and ginger.

  

Thinly slice the steak.

  

Place the brown sugar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together.  Set aside.

  

I have a wok that I like to use.  If you don't have one, use a large fry pan.  Heat the oil in the pan you are using.  Cook the steak until it is no longer pink.

  

Remove the meat to a clean plate.  Add the broccoli, carrots, ginger and garlic to the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes.  If you choose to use powdered ginger, place it in the sauce.

  

Return the meat to the pan.

  

Place the stir fry noodles, or the other noodles you have already cooked and drained, into the fry pan.

  

Stir to combine and to warm the noodles and steak, about 2-3 minutes.

  

Pour the sauce you set aside over the noodles and stir fry a bit more to coat everything in the sauce. Serve immediately.

  

Other than a bit of slicing and assembling of the sauce, there is very little work to get it on the table.  This is a very fast meal.  It took about 20 minutes from start to finish.

Better than fast, it was a delicious meal.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

No Mushroom Beef Stroganoff

I'm not a big mushroom fan. I'll eat them, but it isn't my preference.  This recipe is particularly nice because it only uses one pan.  The addition of the cream cheese to the sour cream makes for a very creamy stroganoff.  It is a nice addition, but it's optional.

  

No Mushroom Beef Stroganoff

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 pound steak, cut into thin slices
salt and pepper to taste
4 Tablespoons flour, divided use
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons butter
3 1/2 - 4 cups beef broth
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
8 ounces wide egg noodles
4 ounces cream cheese, optional
1/2 cup sour cream
parsley

  

Place the sliced steak into a medium bowl and season with the salt, pepper and 1 Tablespoon flour. Mix well.

  

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

  

Cook until brown.

   

  

Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions are soft, about 4 minutes.

  

Remove the meat mixture to a plate and set aside.

  

Reduce the heat to medium and melt the butter in the same pan.  Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of flour.  Whisk for 1-2 minutes while the flour and butter makes a roux and the flour just starts to turn golden brown.  Pour the beef broth in a cup at a time, reserving about 1/2 cup of broth.  Whisk thoroughly between each cup until smooth and thickened.   Add the red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and thyme.  Mix

  

Remove about 1/2 cup of the sauce and set aside.  Place the egg noodles in the skillet and stir to coat.

  

Reduce the heart to medium low. Cook for 10- 15 minutes, until the noodles are cooked al dente.

  

You may need to add more broth if the sauce becomes too thick.  The noodles will absorb a lot of the sauce and be very flavorful!

  

Add the sour cream and the cream cheese, if you chose to use it.

  

Stir to combine.  Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.

  

Return the steak and onions to the pan and cook a few minutes to warm through.  Pour the reserved sauce over the steak mixture and mix in.

  

Serve with freshly chopped parsley. We served the stroganoff with a simple salad.

  

This comfort food was creamy and delicious and we had enough to serve for leftovers another day.