Saturday, December 29, 2012

live each season as it passes

that's a quote from thoreau that i first came across last winter. as a reminder to embrace this time and to stop my incessant wishing for spring, i put the quote in my journal last year. i cannot help but to dream about the 2013 growing season. with my garden, i come alive in the spring.

but for now i will be grateful for the rest i am getting away from garden work. i will sip my hot tea and soak in the coziness of crocheting on a cold day. last week i finally started joining my granny squares to make a big ol' blanket. almost a year in the making, but i'm starting to see the light.

the blanket is uneven and i'm not crazy about all the colors together, but i still love it. it's my 2012 blanket. some of the squares were made while i was sitting with my grandmom. others were made with the kids i watch - they would dictate the colors and play with the finished squares. they'd even pretend to crochet with me. one day alaina and john laid all the squares out and chose their favorites. when kati first moved in, she loved to knead and sleep on the softness.

the yarn that started me off was donated by my aunt patti and john's mom. some skeins my mom bought me. it's a warm blanket in so many ways.=)

 (why does this picture remind me of the shining?)

homemade holiday recap:

i'm happy to report my homemade holiday crusade kept me from being cranky this christmas. in 2008, i stopped celebrating holidays after learning some things. i've decided to still participate in family gatherings and gift-giving, but a battle ensues inside me. a moral dilemma. i feel better making the gifts (though every year i do buy some stuff, though each year less and less).

so a month of crafting my ass off and some cute dolls/purses/potpourri jars got me through. whatever works, right? my homemade holiday inspired my blog-friend aimee to get crafty, too. (and my brother l-o-v-e-d his crochet beard!=)

pop-pop don and grandmom also got crafty and made alaina the art desk she's been asking for. isn't it amazing? they really poured their hearts into it. remember the sandboat?

john's dad made his granddaughter mia a desk/shelving unit/window bench. it's awesome, just like other things he's made.

my dad has made us things too, like a beautiful bassinet and a porch swing. my grandpop made a living creating pretty iron railings. my mom, mom-mom, aunts, sister and friend missy were always making cute stuff. all these creative people around me - no wonder i'm this way!

after the blanket, i'm going to start working on baby things - john's sister jena is expecting her fourth this summer! i'm looking forward to crocheting something small and sweet - maybe a little granny square blanket or these delicious sandals.

wishing you lots of love and creativity in the new year! xoxoxo

Saturday, December 15, 2012

homemade gift ideas: for the young lads

crochet bearded hat :: hysterical and functional. this tutorial helped me make one. 

candles :: a guy's room could always use a little freshening. (for the responsible boys, of course.)

vintage record album journal :: can't believe REM is considered vintage now. 

pajama pants or boxers :: i wouldn't know what to do, but i imagine anyone with a little sewing experience can easily whip these up. (vintage teen boys pajamas pattern here)

popsicle stick cd rack :: do kids buy cd's anymore?

that's all i could come up with. good thing i don't have a teenage boy to gift this year!

my thoughts and prayers go to the victims of the horrific tragedy at sandy hook elementary school. what can we do in the face of unthinkable tragedy? cultivate love. read julia's beautiful words here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

homemade holiday progress

it seems i've gotten in over my head with this year's homemade gifts, as usual. it was fun to start, but now it's getting a bit tedious. my least favorite part of crafting is adding the finishing touches.

making to-do types of lists is fun, and so is blogging, so i thought i'd take a little coffee break and share my progress with you. this is one of my ways of finding joy in the labor.=)

crochet dolls: sew sonic together, figure out what to do with lambie's frills, add arms and face to hello kitty.

granny square purses: hand-sew liners into the bags. (the sewing machine doesn't work. boohoo.)

bearded hat: beard and 'stache are done. need to get a hat - no way am i crocheting one now.

potpourri jars: need to buy and dehydrate oranges. maybe add tags.

coupon gifts: good for free babysitting and housework. just need to write them out.

finished: notebooks for the purses

pending: raw chocolates, car caddy (wishful thinking), crochet headbands

i don't have anything to show you of my progress, but i do have a shot of a jolly old man behind me in line. he was buying a paper cutter! even santa's getting crafty this year!=)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

homemade gift ideas: for the young ladies

crochet headband :: so cute. mine is worn over my ears to keep them toasty.

mason jar sewing kit :: a little sewing kit always comes in handy.
dangly earring display :: there are many different ways to make these with materials on hand.

when i sat and thought about what i would have wanted when i was a teen, i realized i'd pretty much like the same thing now! so the post was changed from 'for teens' to 'young ladies'. here are a few more ideas. please leave any other ideas you may have in the comments!

handmade journal :: every lady needs a space to journal or doodle. 

craft-making kit :: introduce her to a new hobby, or replenish the stock of her existing one.

embellished picture frame :: a girl could always use another picture frame.

homemade candle :: use her favorite scent, or lavender oil for calming aromatic therapy. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

hearty mac and cheeze

angela from oh she glows posted a wonderful recipe for butternut squash mac 'n cheeze last year, and john and i have enjoyed it a few times since. this time i didn't have dijon mustard or almond milk, so minor adjustments were made, highlighted in green. click here for the original recipe.

hearty mac and cheeze sauce
(adapted from angela's butternut squash mac 'n cheeze)

1 C mashed butternut squash
2 T earth balance vegan butter
3/4 C filtered water
1 T arrowroot powder
1 T fresh lemon juice 
6 T nutritional yeast (or more to taste)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil

1. preheat oven to 425F. peel, seed and cube butternut squash. in a glass casserole dish, lightly coat squash with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast for 40 minutes.

2. meanwhile, prepare sauce in a pot over the stove. add butter over low-medium heat. in a bowl, whisk water and arrowroot. pour into saucepan, then stir in lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and seasonings to taste. whisk sauce until thickened (about 5 to 7 minutes).

3. add to cooked pasta of choice. optional: to make the dish extra hearty, add vegetables like green beans, peas or kale, or top with my personal favorite, stewed tomatoes.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

healing on a budget

it's been slim pickins in the produce department. fortunately, there's a local health food store with a decent selection of reasonably priced organic vegetables. conveniently, it's just two minutes down the road from a chiropractor i've been visiting once a week, eiseman family chiropractic.

dr. eiseman is helping to alleviate the discomfort in my dominant arm as well as some pain in my neck and back, and for only $21 a visit! after just three adjustments, i'm able to crochet and type like i used to. the wiggling and cracking seems to be working. i've also been doing the dead lift exercises he suggested and consuming turmeric and celery to reduce inflammation.

it's funny, i've already been eating a lot of celery, and i've been reading about turmeric almost everyday! according to the american cancer society, "turmeric may prevent and slow the growth of a number of types of cancer. one researcher reported that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, inhibited the formation of cancer-causing enzymes in rodents." wow!

the challenge for me has been getting the turmeric in. natural health sells loose organic turmeric at a very fair price. i've been mixing it in soups, hot tea, an immunity tonic with raw apple cider vinegar, and as shown below, sprinkling it on salads.

mixed baby greens, cauliflower, carrot, homegrown fennel sprouts, raw sunflower seeds

these aren't our favorite salad components, but we've got to make do. i've come up with a quick dressing delicious enough to make any salad shine. there are no measurements; just mix olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice (i like balsamic vinegar for its sweetness) italian herbs and spices, salt, pepper and some nutritional yeast. add a splash of water or two to stretch it for your next salad. 

baby greens, button mushroom, mandolin-sliced carrot and celery and raw sunflower seeds

there are also store-bought broccoli sprouts in there. they were only $1.99 at natural health (though it's much cheaper to grow our own). while conventional stores are generally less expensive, it's possible to shop at the health food stores without breaking the budget. we are living proof of that!

the key is to be flexible and work with what is affordable. prices change with the season. if you're set on sticking to a list, expect to pay more. i had to forgo the avocado last week because it was too much. same with bananas ($1.99 a pound!), but later i found a sale on organic ($.69/pound) at our local grocery store. we also buy conventional produce if we need to.

it's been a while since i made a list for produce, but it's also been a while since i made something using a recipe. our meals have been sort of thrown together last minute. stir-fries are great for that, especially when we've got frozen bell pepper and yellow squash in the freezer.

brown rice, bell pepper, yellow squash, carrot, celery and toasted nuts

the rice was cooked in a pressure cooker for 25 minutes in a 2 to 1 ratio of water to rice. the sauce was a simple mix of tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) minced garlic, ginger, and a splash of agave. the nuts were lightly toasted with maple syrup, olive oil, chinese five spice powder, cayenne and black pepper. they would make a nice jar of mixed nuts for a holiday gift!

last year, i made jars of spiced mixed nuts as gifts for the the gentlemen. it was the day before madji passed. she was sick, but i was so sure she'd get better. i've been thinking about her a lot. sometimes i feel her when kati and i sit together. kati has helped heal our broken hearts, but i think i'll always have a little ache for my biggles. she was so sweet!

but so's this one. kati really wanted to go out but it was way too cold, so she figured she'd do the next best thing - lay in the plumeria pot! she cracks us up! the warm fuzzies i get from her are most conducive to my healing on all levels. just look at that face!=)

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