Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day 272: Cooking Crockpot Cashew Chicken

Time: 15 minutes + 3 hour cook time
Listening to: The Packers game

Crock-pot Cashew Chicken

Combine the following in a large ziploc bag and shake:

2 lbs boneless & skinless chicken tenders
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp black pepper

 Heat 1 Tbsp canola oil in a skillet and brown chicken for two minutes on each side. Then place in crock pot.

Combine the following and pour over chicken:

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp pepper

Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. Add 1/2 cup cashews and stir. Serve over rice. Makes 4-6 servings.

Recipe originally came from here. Small alterations have been made.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day 271: Knitting

Time: A couple hours
Listening to: Doctor Who

I made some great progress on my last blue stripe for my afghan. I can't wait to finally finish this project!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Day 271: Sewing Baby Shoes

Time: A couple hours
Listening to: Elizabeth & The Catapult, The Civil Wars

I have a new little niece and she is so cute. I found this tutorial on how to make baby shoes and decided to give it a shot today. It was rather confusing so I ended up looking at this one too. Anyways, I'm happy with how they turned out. I ended up adding some elastic to the top to make sure they stay on her feet.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day 270: Knitting

Time: 1 hour
Listening to: Doctor Who

I started my last stripe of blue for my afghan. Can't wait to finish this project!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Day 269: Baking Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Muffins

Time: One hour with bake time
Listening to: Dolly Parton

I'm eating something oh so delicious. What is it? Oh just some...

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Muffins
Original recipe came from here! I've made some small changes to it. 

What you need:

1 2/3 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
4 oz unsalted butter, melted
6 oz white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Here is what you do:

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, vanilla, pumpkin, butter. Add in the chips and walnuts. 
4. Combine both bowls until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Be careful not to over mix. 
5. Scoop batter into greased muffin cups. Bake for about 20-22 minutes or until springy to the touch. Cool then remove from cups. Makes 12 muffins. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day 268 (Part 2): Baking Single Serving Cookies

Time: 15 minutes
Listening to: She & Him

After dinner I decided to whip up a tasty little treat. It can be dangerous making a big dessert with just two of us in the house so when I saw the idea of single serving desserts...I wanted to try it immediately! They turned out pretty good! The first one I made was a bit too floury so on the 2nd, I adjusted things a bit.

Single Serving Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
A small splash of vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup flour (I had to use a little less than this)
2 tablespoons chocolate chips

In a bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg yolk. Add in the flour and salt. Mix until it is all combined. Add in the chocolate chips. Pour the dough into a small microwavable container--I used a ramekin but a coffee cup would work, too. Microwave for 50-60 seconds or until the cookie looks done.

Hope you like it!

Day 268 (Part 1): Cooking Curried Couscous with Broccoli and Feta

Time: One hour (including prepping/clean up)
Listening to: Tallest Man on Earth and She & Him

I made such a delicious meal today that I HAD to share it. I seriously just wanted to keep eating and eating this. I had a dessert in mind, though, so I paced myself a bit. Here is the original recipe.

Curried Couscous with Broccoli and Feta

1 cup uncooked couscous
1 1/2 cups small broccoli florets
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped cashews
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons curry power
1 teaspoon dried ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Here is what you have to do:

-Boil 1 3/4 cups water in a medium saucepan. Add in couscous, stir, then remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 5+ minutes. When ready to mix, fluff with a fork.

-Steam broccoli florets for 5 minutes or until tender.

-Stir in couscous, broccoli, onion, and all other ingredients except the feta cheese. Once it is all mixed, dish and top with feta cheese. 

Hope you enjoy! MMM!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Days 266 & 267: Knitting/Afghan

Time: Two hours
Listening to: Dr. Who

I finally was able to stitch on my second to last stripe on my afghan! Here it is displayed oh so nicely on my chair!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Day 265: Cooking Avocado Salsa

My hubby and I made this tonight:

Chunky Avocado Salsa

Head over here for the delicious recipe!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Days 263 & 264: Knitting

Time: Hour
Listening to: Music mix

Spent some time knitting! I'm getting close to finishing off that 2nd to last blue edge!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 262: Flower Arranging

Time: 1/2 hour?
Listening to: Patty Griffin

I spent some time with my flowers today...arranging and planting!

Arranged bouquet

Planted this cute little succulent!
Close up---isn't it adorable?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Day 261: Knitting

Time: Hour
Listening to: Yo La Tengo

I thought I might be getting close to being able to finish off my second to last end on my afghan but no luck! I've still got a bit more to go...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Part 2: Reading List of 2012

So way back on Day 1of this blog, I wrote a long explanation of why I read so obsessively. I won’t rehash all of that again but feel free to check it out if you missed it. And then on this day I showed you Part 1 of my reading adventure for 2012. And now today I give you part 2! I originally thought my goal for 2012 would be 50 books but I passed that and now am striving for 75. We'll tracker says I'm 2 books behind...

* indicates a favorite
** indicates a super favorite

32.        St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell                     Short Stories
I was so intrigued by Swamplandia! that I wanted to read some more of Karen Russell. This is a collection of her short stories—one of them being a short story that inspired Swamplandia!. It is very strange going from reading a fully fleshed out story to then going back to the original sketch of it. The stories themselves were unique and intriguing…just didn’t quite have the finesse that I was expecting. I loved the title story, though, and also the one about the sleep disorder camp.
33.       *Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai                               Young Adult Fiction/Poetry
My sister-in-law let me borrow her copy of this book and I took it home and read through it that very night. It is a very engaging story about a girl and her family fleeing from the Vietnam War and trying to adjust to life in Alabama. The book is written from ten-year-old Ha’s perspective in free verse poetry and really achieves that confusion and turmoil that she feels as she adjusts to her new life and deals with memories of the past.  
34.       **A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith                                        Classics/Fiction
This is a reread for me as I first read it in high school. I liked it then but LOVE it now. It is such a quiet story—but so strong. Francie Nolan is such a great character as she is always trying to find the beauty in the broken world around her. I feel like I can’t articulate much more about it without confining it, so all I can say is if you haven’t read this one…read it!
35.       Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You by Sam Gosling                 Nonfiction/Psychology
I was really excited about this book because I think that the subject is pretty fascinating! The author is a psychologist who pokes around dorm rooms, offices, and bedrooms to see what he can learn from them. The idea was there—but it just got to be a bit boring. It is such a FUN idea but I think he ended up trying to make the book more scientific/educational than I was expecting.
36.       **The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie by Mary Ann Shaffer             Historical Fiction
I felt so lost when I began reading this book because it immediately jumps into letters being exchanged from people who I had no idea who they were! The entire book is written in letters actually, but it surprised me how easily I picked up the storyline and the characters. After a couple pages in, I was hooked. The book is set in the time period of London trying to emerge from the destruction of World War II. It is about Juliet, a writer, who begins to correspond with a group of people who lived in Guernsey (a small island off of London) during their occupation by the Nazis. It is such a great story…both from a historical perspective but also from a reader’s perspective! It is so engaging—and what a cast of characters! Go read it!
37.       Casino Royale by Ian Fleming                                                                     Adventure/Fiction
So not my typical read…but my husband read it while we were on vacation and suggested it to me after I finished my own book. I decided to read through the first couple pages to see what it was all about…and low and behold, I ended up finishing it shortly after. It was fun to see James Bond in print and compare it with the James Bond of the 2006 movie version with Daniel Craig. It was a bit tough to put up with all of the 1953 stereotypes…lots of mentions on how women shouldn’t be in the professional world. Ugh!  Not sure I’d be up for reading the next one, but who knows!
38.       Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? By Jeanette Winterson      Memoir
What a great title! I could hardly pass this up with a title like that. I was really expecting a witty, gritty memoir but ended up being slightly confused during a lot of it. I never read her story, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and in many ways this book seemed written directly for the Oranges readers. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read Oranges first as the stories inside this one are very powerful—just a bit disjointed without having the base of the first book.
39.       The Red House by Mark Haddon                                              Fiction
This book was a little confusing at first because Haddon jumps not only from character to character but he also jumps to excerpts from the books that each character is reading—all happening within paragraphs of a chapter. As I got into that style and got to know the characters better, I could settle into it a bit better. The book was a lot darker than I was expecting. I was expecting it to be a bit like This is Where I Leave You—but in a hard way to describe, it was heavier. The story of the book is about an estranged brother and sister spending a week together with their families in a house. The characters of the book seem pretty normal but somehow it seems like every possible struggle is being dealt with—insanity, affairs, sexual orientation, guilt, manipulation, and lots more. A book that made me think about it after I finished, but not necessarily in a good way.
40.       The World to Come by Dara Horn                                            Historical Fiction
I’m having difficulty writing about this book. When I finished it, I gave it a 4/5 but as I look back on it…I’m not sure I really did like it that much. It was a good read and I enjoyed the folklore, layers, and characters of the book. It just didn’t stick with me as much as I thought it was going to. The beginning was strong, but it just sort of petered out a bit.
41.   The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker              Science Fiction
This was a book that was really strange to go from reading it then back to reality. Whenever I put it down, I had to reorient myself to days that were still 24 hours long, birds still flying in the sky, and strawberries still being readily available. This is a coming of age story of girl who deals with normal stuff like boys, not being popular, and her parents fighting. Yet, there is nothing normal about her world as the “slowing” has begun. Nicely written and definitely thought provoking.
42.   Big Sur by Jack Kerouac                                                 Classic/Memoir
I think this is a book that intrigued me more in the idea of it than the actual book. Here is Jack Kerouac, the king of the Beatniks, growing older, darker, and more depressed. He got this wild fame from On the Road, and you see him trying to keep up with it. He runs himself ragged with alcohol and wild nights. There is a darkness in this book and it leads right into a breaking point of insanity. Few can write in his style—but the raggedness and sincerity of it only added to the heartbreak of the story.
43.   Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte                       Classics/Fiction
What a dark and moody story this is! It is a story of a passionate love that makes them and everyone around them miserable. It is nicely layered and could definitely be read over and over and still pick up new angles. Just not sure it will be me who will reread it…
44.   **Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin                    Classics/Fiction
I was poking around on my mom’s ipad one day when I stumbled upon the e-books that she has on there. I was interested to see if I could tell a difference between reading on an ipad compared to my nook. So I started rereading Pride and Prejudice. And then pretty soon I didn’t care at all about my experiment and was completely absorbed in reading it. The only thing that jolted me out of the spell was when the low battery alert came on. Then I ran downstairs and got my nook and finished it on there! I’m convinced that this book is more fun to reread than it is to originally read it. I knew that the good stuff was coming so I was pulled right through it. Ahh, what a great book. Ever since I read it, I just want to reread it, watch the movies, and then reread it again.
45.   *Villette by Charlotte Bronte                    Classics/Fiction
I have to admit—this is one of those books that probably a third of the way in, I wasn’t sure if I could finish it. I had loved Jane Eyre so much and this was...much harder to read. It was slow, I didn’t know if I liked/could trust the main character, and it kept refusing to give me all of the details that I wanted. BUT, I went online and started reading about the book to give me a little bit better understanding. As people raved about it, I decided to give it a 2nd chance. I learned to appreciate the artistry which Bronte writes—that she chose to represent Lucy that way so we could see how restrained she is and how fearful of opening herself up to the world. As the book goes on, we start to see and understand Lucy better but she still often refuses to really show how she felt. Bronte deals with some heavy theology and philosophy in this book which gives it a rich feel to it. I’m glad that I stuck with it—but I wouldn’t recommend it to the faint of heart!  
46.   Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange                     Fiction
My sister-in-law is the biggest Pride and Prejudice fan that I know of. For her birthday I gave her this book which is the story told from Mr. Darcy’s perspective in diary format. I then borrowed it from her to read it myself! It started off and I thought it might be too hokey for me…like it was just not going to work. Then soon enough, I just got sucked right into it. It is a light, fun read. Having just read Pride & Prejudice a few days before, it was a nice salve for the itch for more Pride and Prejudice! No, it isn’t Jane Austen, but it is fun to see things from Mr. Darcy’s perspective.
47.   Emma by Jane Austen                                   Classics/Fiction
My least favorite Jane Austen story so far. I usually appreciate when an author gives their characters faults, but Emma was just a little too annoying for me to really embrace. I did like the 2nd half of the book a lot better but jeesh, it was rough going there for a bit in the beginning!
48.   *The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle    Classics/Fiction/Mystery
I have to admit…the BBC miniseries Sherlock was what inspired me to start reading this. And I’m glad it did because the book is full of fun, short mysteries that reminded me of my love of Jessica Fletcher and Dr. Haledjian.
49.   *Little Women by Louisa May Alcott                      Classics/Fiction
What a great story of a family of girls coming of age! I really was not expecting to really connect with this book as it is kind of simple and full of morals. But, it is a quiet and peaceful read that has depth to it. It is a book that had me thinking about it many times after I finished it.
50.   *The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros                            Fiction
A great little book about a girl growing up in Chicago—trying to get a grapple on living in a house on Mango Street that isn’t everything her parents had dreamt and promised of. It is told from her perspective which gives it innocence. Cisneros gives the gritty but also the beauty.
51.   *Persuasion by Jane Austen                       Classics/Fiction
I really enjoyed this book because it had a sense of maturity to it. No, Anne is not a feisty Elizabeth Bennett, but she has had heartache and has learned from it. She’s a relatable character who is more level headed and restrained than some of Austen’s characters. Plus, I think the story line is great—how awkward to be in such a close social setting with a former fiancĂ©! I’m not sure I like it as much as Pride & Prejudice but maybe with a rereading I’d put it up there…                                          
52.   *The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd             Spiritual Memoir
This book has been so thought provoking for me. The book is about Kidd’s journey of being a traditional Southern Baptist that begins to realize how so much of her religion is from a man’s perspective. It is her journey of beginning to unlearn and relearn who she is and what she believes.  Throughout her own journey, she weaves fantastic quotes and stories throughout. I couldn’t always connect with every part of the book, but I do feel lucky to have read this book at this time in my life.

Days 259 & 260: Writing

Time: A couple hours
Listening to: I'm going through all of my itunes music and rating all of my favorites...I'm only in the G's...

I've been busy writing my thoughts on the last 21 books that I've read this year! You can see the first half of the list here and the entire list from last year here!

I should get the 2nd half up later today so prepare yourself!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Day 258: Letter Writing

Time: Hour plus some
Listening to: Mix on ipod

I wrote some letters this evening and made some CD's for a few special folks.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Days 256 & 257: Drawing & Painting

Time: 1 1/2 hours
Listening to: Quiet

My little niece will be arriving shortly and I've been wanting to do a little painting for her. I have a little tiny canvas and wanted to do just a cute little painting for her. So I've been working on some little ideas.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day 255: Chopping

The goal behind this blog was to force me to spend some time creating/making something every day. That is a pretty vague goal as the question of what does and doesn't fall into that category. I found in my work that I was using the very analytical and detail oriented part of my brain for most of the day and that didn't always leave room for the free, creative, and limitless part of my brain. Part of what I enjoy so much in being creative is calming and focusing myself on a project. Almost losing myself in it. I don't always do that every day but I wanted to be aware of it.

Recently, I've always been paying attention more to the boring, daily, repetitive tasks that we do every day. It use to drive me nuts that we had to do things like brushing our teeth, taking a shower, etc, every day. Over and over and over again. Brush, brush, brush. I'd often think that it would be a lot more efficient if we could eliminate some of those things!

I started thinking about that differently during a painting class that I took in college. I started looking forward to the end of class where I could clean my brushes. It was a time where I often lost myself thinking over what I had just done and what I still wanted to do. I'd squirt the soap into my palm and slowly draw the paint brush through it. I'd rinse it and do the same process over and over. Then I'd clean the sink out to make sure that the color didn't stain it. Every day I would do this and I started really loving that moment when my brain kind of unfocused a bit and kind of breathed in a sense. I've started trying to have that same experience with some of the other daily, repetitive tasks that I've been finding myself in. While it isn't exactly like I'm creating/making something, I've started realizing that these small moments in life are often quite a gift...and it is time to start appreciating them.

So tonight I chopped, chopped, chopped veggies and loved every minute of it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Days 252-254: Exploring! Photos!

My husband and I are trying to see as much of Oregon as we can before I get a job and he goes back to school so we decided to take a little camping trip to see the Redwoods!!!! It was the first time that either of us have seen them...the first that either of us have been into California, actually! We traveled through Drain, Oregon over to the coast. Then we drove down the coast until we hit Brookings. From there we hiked, went to the ocean, and camped in this nice secluded spot. The next day we traveled into California to visit the national parks there.  If you've never been...I say, I say, you must get on a plane...come visit us and we'll go see some trees!

Here are some pictures:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Day 251: Baking Banana Bread

Time: One hour and fifteen minutes (includes baking time...)
Listening to: Ellie Goulding on Spotify

We had three soon to be smelly bananas on our counters so I figured it would be a grand ol' time to make some banana bread. The recipe comes from a cookbook that my grandma gave me for a wedding shower present. The recipe says it is from Phyllis wherever you are...thank you for your contribution. It is a pretty tasty recipe! I did do one small alteration but still, Phyllis...a very nice recipe...

While making this loaf of bread, I  was busy thinking about my sister and how amazing she is. She is more than 8 1/2 months pregnant and has a very active two year old and yet she texts me things like..."I made three homemade pies today!" She just whips out these tasty creations! So while I didn't quite reach her caliber tonight, I did make one tasty loaf of bread!

On to the recipe!

Banana Bread

1  cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 up melted butter
3 mashed bananas
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Beat together sugar, melted butter and egg. Add mashed bananas. Mix together flour, soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix well. Add chocolate chips and stir. Put in greased loaf pan and bake 1 hour at 375 degrees. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Day 250: Photoshop (Donut Love)

Time: 15 minutes
Listening to: Ellie Goulding on Spotify

My little nephew loves donuts so I made this little diagram today...

Just how we all feel, right?!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day 249: Relapse (DMV, Wine Tasting, Interview and YouTube)

I just somehow didn't get around to doing anything creative today. I don't know how this happened.

I woke up early. Got going to the DMV to take my drivers knowledge test (I passed, don't worry) so I could get my Oregon license. Then, went home to prepare for an interview I had later in the day. After that, we went to some local wineries. And from there, I got obsessed with youtube videos. So...clearly, I have no good reason for not doing anything.

Tomorrow is a new day, right?!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Day 248: DIY Michigan Cork Board

Time: An hour
Listening to: Silence

A new friend recently was telling me how much she loves Michigan. In order to fully support her in this love, I decided that I must make her a Michigan cork board.

So here it is!

You need:

Wood board (I used a 11x14 wood canvas)
Cork (I used a cork roll like this but a flat sheet would be the most ideal)
Michigan or another state map
Glue- I used an all purpose heavy duty glue
Marker for tracing purposes
X-acto knife

I first cut out my Michigan map and then traced it onto my cork. From there, I very slowly cut out my Michigan cork piece. After that, I spread the glue out on the back of it and stuck it out. I used my giant Sewing 101 book to hold it down as it dried.

Nice and simple but I like how the cork looks on the brown board. I thought about painting some things around it but decided to stick with the simple look.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Days 246 and 247: Letter Writing

Time: Two hours
Listening to: Ipod Mix

I spent some time in my new creative room tonight. I decided I needed to focus on others for a bit as I've been awfully self focused recently with moving and trying to find a job. So...I decided to send some love out!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Just for fun: Ragged Edge Quilt!

Here is a little look at my first quilt that I did!

I had a couple weeks a few years back where I was in between jobs so I had a lot of time and energy to focus into a project. One of those was this little ragged edge quilt. I cranked this puppy out in less than a week. Boy, was my back upset with me!

I ended up giving it to my mom and dad for Christmas so while I was home, I took a couple pictures of it. It was a great learning experience for me and definitely taught me a lot!

Day 245: Relapse

So today was a homesick day for me. Instead of putting that emotion into a project...I mostly just moped around the house. Hopefully I won't have too many days like that but jeesh! Oregon is so far away from Michigan!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Day 244: Photography of Crater Lake

Today is my lovely husband's birthday! To celebrate, we headed over to explore Crater Lake. If you've never been, you really should. It is seriously one of my new favorite places in the WORLD. So get on a plane, come visit us, and we'll take you there.

Here are some pictures I snapped throughout the day.

And we're off!

Birthday dude!

Crater Lake--average 1500 feet deep!
Hiked out to see this waterfall!


We both agreed that we could spend a lot longer than a day there. There are so many awesome trails and off shoots to explore. What a cool place!