A Recipe and September Goals

September 5, 2011

I have been meaning to get to the September Goals post for a couple of days.  Every morning when I walk I run through them in my head, but I haven’t put fingers to keys to get it in writing.  But first, I’m super excited about some tomato sauce that Bill and I made.  We’ve tried to make tomato sauce, or spaghetti sauce, a couple of times, but with no great success.  We had a bunch of tomatoes from our garden begging to be used so I grabbed this recipe I had ripped out of one of my magazines.  This is the best tomato sauce we have ever made and it was super easy!!

Roasted Tomato Sauce (adapted from Country Living Magazine September 2011)

Makes 3 cups, Working time 10 minutes, Total time 1 hour 40 minutes

2 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, quartered
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons fresh oregano

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a 9×13 inch baking pan, toss together everything except the basil and oregano.  Roast for 1 hour.  Remove pan from oven and fold in basil and oregano.  Cook for 30 minutes more.

In a food processor, blend vegetables until pureed.  Use immediately, refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze.

Of course I made some modifications because we had more tomatoes, probably closer to three pounds.  I used an onion and a half, and two red peppers, a bit more olive oil, salt and red pepper, and quartered four cloves of garlic.  I also used a little black pepper and omitted the oregano because we didn’t have any.  Our tomatoes were super juicy so there was a lot of liquid in the pan.  We spooned out the vegetables and left the juices and that made for the perfect consistency once the veggies were pureed.  If yours is too thick, you still have the juices to thin it out a bit.  The sauce was delicious!  And did I mention how easy this was?

roasted tomato sauce

Okay, so now onto my September Goals:

  1. Finish Julia’s quilt!!
  2. Baste, quilt and bind my mystery quilt.
  3. Read 4 books.
  4. Finish my String Theory Scarf that I just started.  (Rav link here)  (I have been obsessed with this pattern every since I found it about three weeks ago.)
  5. Finish Sunshine Day Afghan.
  6. Finish (?) my needlepoint project.  (This is wishful thinking.)
  7. Make 2 baby gifts for friends.
  8. Make a Christmas gift.
  9. Sew a new top for myself.

This is an insane list.  Things have been a little hectic here, and my brother-in-law is visiting so I haven’t been very focused on my projects so far this month.  Hopefully things will settle and I can focus a little better.  Let’s hope!!

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a photo of my babies behaving in my craft room.  See how nicely they are sharing the bed?  I think it was more a battle of wills than a desire to get along.


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Things That Make Me Happy

July 29, 2011

happy flowers

Bill walked through the door on Sunday morning with this super cheerful bouquet of sunflowers.  I have been enjoying them all week.  Sunflowers make me smile.  This morning I moved them into my craft room to make me happy while I persevered through my mystery quilt sawtooth star squares.  I thought I had finished these squares last week but when I looked at them, they were terrible.  They weren’t the right measurements and they were messy and after mulling it over for a couple of days, I decided to make a new set of them.  I saw them making my life difficult as I tried to put the quilt together.  It’s totally my choice to redo them, but it also kinda sucks.  They are the hardest, most time consuming part of the quilt.  The good news is that the second set is looking much better.  I am using my wing clipper ruler (which I forgot I had the first time around) and this batch is actually coming out square and they are the right size.  So while it’s tedious and boring, it was the right decision and my sunflowers make it a wee bit less painful.  I’m also going to do something with my reject squares, I’m just not sure what.

stretching kitters

The other thing that makes my resewing less painful is this little kitty.  She makes me laugh ever day, if not multiple times a day.  She’s just so darn cute.  Gracie loves to stretch out on her back and show me her belly.  The best thing is that she lets me rub it.  I love the belly.

strawberry lemonade

This summer has been the summer of lemonade.  I’ve pretty much cut out all soda (diet and regular) from my diet.  I kinda miss it because I do enjoy an ice cold Pepsi every now and then, but I know it’s not good for me.  And actually, I’ve gotten to the point where regular Pepsi is just too sweet for me.  Weird.  So this summer, my drink of choice has been lemonade.  And really only at dinner time.  But sometimes we go out, and an extra special treat is a strawberry lemonade.  Panera has a very delicious frozen strawberry lemonade.  We had some strawberries in the fridge and I decided to make my own strawberry lemonade.  I blended up a pint of very ripe strawberries with about 2 teaspoons sugar and ended up with strawberry puree which I poured over a glass of iced Simply Lemonade.  That pint of strawberries made about 4 or 5 glasses of strawberry lemonade, and I stored the puree in the fridge in a covered container.  I might also try it without the sugar; it all depends on how sweet the strawberries are and your sweet to tart preference.  Yum!

There’s lots of other things that make me happy, but I don’t have any more photographs of them.  I’ll have to work on that.

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A Rant and a Recipe

July 26, 2009

So I have to vent about an article that I read last week which really bothered me: “Surgeon General’s Heft a Weighty Issue”. I’m frustrated by the insinuation that if she were thin she would automatically be considered healthy. There are plenty of slender people out there who are not in good health, either because they have jeopardized their health to be thin (anorexia or bulimia) or because they are blessed with good genes that compensate for poor food choices and little exercise. To me it should be about living a healthy lifestyle and how she can help our country attain that goal. How she can teach people with limited incomes to incorporate fruits and vegetables in their meals? How to teach busy families how to incorporate exercise into their daily routines. We aren’t all in situations where are meals are prepared for us by a top-notch chef, with live-in help, and a gym on premises (Mrs. Obama). Even people with such services still struggle with their weight (Oprah). I understand that Mrs. Obama does make sacrifices to fit exercise into her daily schedule, but perhaps that’s possible because she doesn’t have to cook dinner or because she has help with her kids.

My other problem with the article is that we don’t know why the Surgeon General is overweight (and I’m not saying she is). I think most people assume being overweight a result of laziness or too much McDonalds. Could it possibly be from a medication or a health condition? Regardless, it’s none of our business.

Now I’m not saying “yay, let’s all be overweight” but I am saying let’s not judge this woman on her appearance. Let’s look at her qualifications and how she can can help America, and possibly herself, with the fight against expanding waistlines.

One of the ways that I am trying to live a healthy lifestyle is to eat more fruit and vegetables. One of my favorite snacks is fresh berries with about 7 or 8 crumbled up walnuts (for those health fats and Omega-3s) with a service of low-fat vanilla yogurt. It’s fresh, sweet, and it has a little bit of crunch. For me, this is a mid-morning snack because it doesn’t stay with me for very long. I think that substituting cottage cheese for the yogurt would give it more staying power as cottage cheese has almost 3 times the amount of protein than the yogurt and in a smaller serving size.

My other favorite snack is fruit smoothies. Living in California I am getting quite spoiled by all the locally grown produce, especially the fruit. We belong to a CSA and in addition, we go to the farmer’s market on the weekends. If I’m concerned that I’m not going to get to the fruit before it goes bad, I cut it up and put it on a cookies sheet and freeze it. After an hour, I remove it from the cookie sheet and put it in a ziploc bag. This way, I have individual pieces of frozen fruit instead of a frozen ball of fruit. When I’m ready for a smoothie, I mix together my frozen/and or fresh fruit (about 3 cups worth) with some yogurt (about a cup) and some milk or juice (about 1/2 to 1 cup, or however much you need to get the mixture to start to blend). If I am using all fresh fruit, I throw in about 6 ice cubes to cool things off. If it needs to be sweetened, I add in some honey. This makes two medium to large smoothies.

And now, for putting up with my rant, I will share my secret with you. To give your smoothie an extra nutrient bang, throw in a handful of fresh spinach leaves. You will not taste it. Will Not. You may see little green flecks in your smoothie but You Will Not Taste It. And/Or, add in some shredded carrot. The carrot is another great way to sweeten your smoothie. But the spinach is my big secret. Try it. Tell me what you think.

Edited to add: The spinach and carrot was something I read in Fitness magazine a few months ago. I don’t normally just throw random veggies in my fruit smoothies. Also, I’m a pretty picky eater so it was a Big Deal for me to try this. I’m glad I did!

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The Furminator and The Widowmaker

April 28, 2008

furminatorBill discovered a new brush at the Pet Smart last weekend. With 3 cats and a dog, I have my fair share (and probably yours too!) worth of animal hair in my house. One of my cats is particularly hairy. She’s full-figured and has trouble cleaning herself so her hair is greasy and has more dander than the other cats. She does love to be brushed but I am most allergic to her so I don’t do it often. Bill tries, but he’s busy and so it just doesn’t get done. Anyhoo, at the pet store, Bill saw a new tool and decided to give it a try: The Furminator. It’s available on amazon for $22 (for the small, more for the medium and large) and change which is less than we paid, admitedly a lot for a brush for a pet. But let me tell you. The amount of hair that came off of her, and the other cats which we didn’t really think of as big shedders, was amazing. AMAZING, I tell you. That’s a picture of CJ and her hair, after only half of her had been brushed. We do have other brushes we use on CJ and get a lot of hair off, but I think this does a better job. For the cats, hands down it is better than anything we’ve used. For the dog it is as good but probably better, than other tools.

widowmakerLet me show you a picture of what we now call The Widowmaker. Originally named The Divorcemaker, this little organizing tool let to a few arguments in my house. We bought it a few years ago because we didn’t have a good place for our foil, saran wrap and wax paper. (We need to stock up on parchment paper.) It’s one of those relatively easy jobs that never gets done. The roadblock was probably the disorganization of the garage which made it difficult, or at least very frustrating, to get to Bill’s tools, and I believe he did need a drill and a screwdriver. When we cleaned the garage last week, we came across The Divorcemaker. I asked Bill if we should just get rid of it. I joked about it’s name and we laughed and then he came up with the new name. He also said that he would put it up and I think we both knew if it didn’t end up in a cabinet soon, I would be a single woman. Good news, he’s still alive, and our little organizer is up. Isn’t it doing a good job?

yumLastly, I thought I would share one of my favorite meals with you. Last week, on Admin’s Day, we had a special breakfast for our secretaries. Donuts. Bagels. Cinnamon Rolls. Fruit salad. Donut holes. Ugh. Of course I showed no resistance and came home from work feeling like garbage. I needed something nutritious and light. Perfect time for my tomato-mozzarella-basil salad. It’s very easy, simply spiced and tastes very “fresh” to me. I once ate this at a little cafe in Switzerland so when I have it at home, it takes me back. I get a container of cherry or grape tomatoes and slice them in half and put them in a big bowl. Slice up a hunk of fresh mozzarella cheese and put it in with the tomatoes. Chop up some fresh basil, add to the bowl. Coat with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors set. I serve it with a hunk of crusty bread. It’s all to taste, there are no measurements. An optional ingredient is balsamic vinegar, but I usually don’t put it in. It’s got calcium, vegetables, good fats. It would probably be healthier without the bread, or with a whole grain bread.

Well, that’s all I have for today. Hope you enjoyed your weekends and that you have a good Monday!

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About Me

Welcome to my spot on the web where I talk about needlework, crafts, and [many] other random things.

A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

You can email me at mlynapier [at] pobox [dot] com. Thank you for stopping by!

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