Tuesday, September 29, 2009

we like pizza around here...

and we have an excellent pizzeria a few blocks away, but sometimes budget and health concerns send us another direction.  I am not one of those people who will ever find the perfect crust or sauce recipe and swear off order-out for good.  I like homemade pizza too, it's just something totally different.  I also like Domino's and frozen pizza (again, different genres), but I suppose that that should be kept secret.

Back to business.

We make pizza once every couple of weeks, and I usually make and freeze a big batch of dough, sometimes even going the extra mile and prebaking some of it before freezing...my own homemade Boboli crust.  This works really well, but last week, I started from a hunk o' dough (which was made with half whole-wheat flour and, also, had molded itself around a freezer container).

A serendipity of sorts occurred, in that I also had in my freezer some arugula pesto (my own concoction, a recipe for another day) and turkey sausage, which was begging to be grilled.  I also wanted to grill the dough, but didn't have time to do the whole thing from start to finish.  The solution was pre-grilling the dough to almost-doneness along with the sausage.  A pizza needs some red, so I also threw a packet of chopped, seeded plum tomatoes (tossed with olive oil, garlic, kosher salt, & pepper) on the grates and called it a game.

A couple of hours later, I baked it up, and ended up with a really good, really different pizza, with a mighty crackly crust.  In conclusion, a gratuitous crust photo:

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's Monday...

and what a glorious weekend it was, seeing a terrific friend for the first time in years and meeting her little one.

Perhaps glorious is the wrong word, since rain was a heavy player, but at least it was a gentle rain (which is kind of like saying it's a dry heat...). 

There was sand,

and tic tac toe,

and running,

and searching for ducks...

and we even brought bread, but they were quacking somewhere else that morning.

Today, the weather's not much more glorious around here (though yesterday truly was), and it really does feel like fall.  I have too many knitting projects going on right now, all for gifts, and all with "deadlines" approaching...none for a party or occasion, but they're kind of hanging over me nonetheless, so it's a good thing that it's fun to knit when it's dreary.

This afternoon, I've been working on this scarf {Rav link}for my mom and am realizing that I don't love really repetitive knitting.  Or maybe I don't love repetitive knitting on a deadline.  Anyway, the yarn is too gorgeous--I'm using the same colorway as was shown in the pattern--so that (along with the promise of dropped stitches at the end) makes it palatable.  I'm just about halfway there, with a month until delivery.

Tomorrow, I want to talk pizza.

Friday, September 25, 2009

color week::plum

The bad news: I don't own a plum.  The news is especially bad from Alex's point of view, because he loves plums.  A lot.

The good news: I do own a dish towel.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

color week::chestnut

I love my dining room table, more than anyone should love a table.

Just a warning that tomorrow, for plum day, I may share a plum.  If I own a plum.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

color week::goldenrod

Well, I ordered some clothes.  One top, two colors, three sizes.  Am I the only person who does this?  With free or flat-rate shipping and in-store returns, I get a bunch and see what fits.  Sometimes the people taking the clothes back look at me like I'm nuts, but it makes perfect sense to me.

So here's the top:

in blue, and in purple:

We'll see which one wins.  And while one top may not seem like any great shakes, I'm kinda pumped because it's a start.

As for the handmade, I'm still planning on the scarf, and then I remembered this awesome idea from Susan B. Anderson (love love love her blog; hers was the first that I followed and I am still in awe of her work).  I was a little panicked about where I would find so many colors of yarn without spending a fortune, and then I remembered this project from the always-awesome Purl Bee, which uses this--a little different gauge, but I think I can make it work.  So now I just have to keep an eye out for a cardigan.  And when I order the yarn, I may have to get some more, or maybe some fabric, so as to amortize the shipping costs, of course.  And I'm definitely making one of those trees, if not for this Christmas, then for next.

After my ordering "frenzy"--I did get some fall clothes for Alex, too--I got started on my Tuesday-during-school cooking day.  Love having this big block of time set aside for this purpose.  It's fun to cook with no distractions, it's efficient because I can do a bunch of things at once, and it's a great feeling to have so many things made and frozen or pantried.

Today, because I used some of the time otherwise, I did just 2.5 things: I made 20 cups of quick bread mix, and 2 loaves of banana bread, both from Make-a-Mix.  This is officially the Best Idea Ever (am I the only one who didn't know about it?  Got an inkling from this post and maybe everyone is already doing it, but it sure was a lightbulb for me).  I did use whole wheat for half the flour and cut the sugar by a bit, but now I've got 2 excellent loaves of banana bread:

and 13 cups of the mix in my pantry.

I also did my own version of "making a mix"--I've been doing this for a while--by cooking the base of this chowder from an old, old Cooking Light.  I used 3.5 lbs. of chicken breast (an especial bonus of making a big batch of this recipe is that I only have to endure the gross task of cutting chicken breast once rather than 3.5 times) and scaled the rest of the veggies, etc. accordingly.  Cook that up (in olive oil; I do the bacon later on--oh, and put some celery in there, because soup needs celery), add broth concentrate, divide, and freeze.  Then, I just thaw each bag, add water, and move right along with the recipe.  Tastes like I made (rather than thawed) it that day, and I'll probably get 5 or 6 meals out of it.  And, it's...


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

color week::burnt siena

It's blurry, and I like it.  And I'm not sure it qualifies as burnt sienna, and it was taken in the summer rather than in the fall, but I still like it.

I've been thinking about this post.  A lot.  I was actually thinking about it before I read it (via Wisecraft), but it was one of those moments where someone else (both of them, really) captured my thoughts better than I could have myself.  Even if I'm not in the fighting shape I was pre-kiddo, I really do feel better when I look better.  So today, I'm wearing a jean skirt, a top with a little flounce, and some silver hoops.  And wouldn't you know it, I feel pretty good.

Three goals:

1)  Find some flattering pants (not jeans--love jeans, wear them every day).  Have them altered if necessary for a proper fit.
2)  Buy 5 tops that are not solid or knit.  Everything I own is solid and knit.
3)  Make two things for myself for this fall--one sewn, one knit (not knit like in #2, knit like this).  In so doing, force myself to spend some time on making for me.

In the meantime, off to do some shopping--maybe I'll find a top in burnt siena.

Monday, September 21, 2009

color week::brick red

It's color week at elsie marley, in honor of fall.  I'm more of a cool-color girl, so this'll take some doing for me.  A good exercise.

I'm ready for fall, I think.  I don't like the heat, which kind of puts a damper on summer for me (but this summer has been cool--so what's not to like about that?).  But with that relief comes a paradoxical dread, because the older I get, the more I dread the cold and snow and ice and bleak of winter.  I don't know if it's having a kid to keep warm (though he's usually pretty sweaty, like his mama) or just the increased crabbiness brought by each passing year...but where I used to roll my eyes at my mom as she began worrying about winter on September 1, now I'm right there with her.

Still, I adore the in-between of fall...the smell, the crackle, the wind, the chill (which is definitely not the same as cold).  A series of fun events: Halloween, my wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving, and then, of course, Christmas and all the joy leading up to it.  And that last part is winter, and I love it.  Must not be so bad after all.

Today's installment of color week, brick red, was probably the easiest of the five to find in my house (I'm honestly a little anxious about goldenrod), and is thus a good warmup.  My brick red is really yellow--it's food coloring, and it's in queue to be returned since I ended up buying two and needing one, which should explain to you exactly why it's in my kitchen cabinet with my dishes and a multi-pack of rotary cutter blades, which are not in queue to be returned.  That's how things rumble around here.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

so, so excited!

I am so thrilled with my birthday present...two FQ stacks from AMH.  Now, to gear myself up to actually cut into them, and then to decide what to make.  The home dec weight is a really nice, weighty fabric; perfect for one of these?  Speaking of which, I really hope the "big project" she's been working on is a book, because I miss her blog, and that would at least be something worth the break.

As an aside, I tried a new recipe for dinner tonight; I used chops rather than tenderloin, but everything else was the same.  We also skipped the sauce because I have a thing about cooking a marinade, even though I know that when it's boiled for so long at such a temperature, blah blah blah, it's safe--but the only thing I can think of when I'm eating it is what if that bite had the one remaining bacterium from the meat?  So it was sauceless, which may have been why I actually didn't like it that much.  But I include it because I took some photos, and am realizing I have much to learn about the art of food photography, like you find here or here or here.  It's a goal.  So here's the pork:

or, here's the pork:

I think my favorite photo is the second; though it's messier (including sippy cup), it's more interesting than a blob of meat on a plate, especially when my camera skills are in the just-starting-out-with-a-point-&-shoot realm.

Served with cheese rice (maybe should be called rice au gratin, but my mom always called it cheese rice and that's what I call it too); kind of retro, I hope, because it's the only side dish to be eaten with pork in my opinion.  At least I added broccoli.  And we had a baguette from some real French nuns, via the farmer's market (it's Thursday, team!).  My nun today wasn't very friendly, but she gave me a break on a chocolate croissant, so I liked her just the same.

On the docket tonight...a season premiere and some knitting.  Our TiVo had better get himself warmed up--it's that time of year again.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Trolling through google reader, stopping here, the bread photo reminded me that I'm going to make this tomorrow, and since the flour is in the pantry...see above (half finished--more to follow--that's the before shot).

Also in the camera were some photos of our Sunday, including a stop at a welcome-fall festival here, where Alex liked the games, liked making the dog dance a lot, and *loved* trying the fire hose--what three-year-old wouldn't?  The fireman was so nice; I was so glad we stumbled on this as we were about to leave.

Then off to a birthday celebration at my parents' house, where I learned that I would be getting another gift from here...and it came in the mail today.  I haven't opened it yet because I'm saving it as a treat for myself for after bedtime (do other people do that?) to encourage myself to get some more work done, in the pantry and elsewhere.

Oh, and I'm trying to cut down on Diet Pepsi.  Hence:

Friday, September 11, 2009

allow me to share a little bit about myself...

Because I always like to know a bit about other people.

I'm 32 and live about 30 miles north of Chicago.  Truth be told, it's usually faster to drive to Milwaukee, but I'm definitely a Chicagoan.  My parents still live in the house I grew up in, a mile or so from the house where my husband grew up...we had the same bathroom tile and likely went to day camp together in third grade.  We've been married for almost eight years.  I taught seventh grade for seven years (right now, you might be thinking something like You couldn't pay me enough! or It takes a special person...--but really, seventh graders are cool human beings) until my son was born (can you guess how old he is?).  I'm home with him now, and loving (nearly) every second of it. 

He's gone four mornings a week now--when did he get so big?--so I've been using some of that time to get myself organized (note: Do not plan a mostly-do-it-yourself kitchen remodel to overlap the birth of your baby.  Just don't.) and some for making.  Friday's a making day, though I didn't get as much done as I'd planned--never do.

My weekend: Alex has an overnight at Grandma & Grandpa's, so I'm hoping to get my pantry organized while Mike works on our basement remodel.  I've been working hard on planning meals ahead, stockpiling when things are on sale, etc.--and this post has been in the back of my mind since I read it.  Before and (hopefully!) after photos tomorrow.  Then dinner and a movie.  Movies are such a special treat for me these days!  I can count on one hand then number I've seen in the theater since Alex was born.

And when I was looking for the pantry post, I found this one, so I might have to be making some seven-layer bars too.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I love Thursday!...

primarily because it's the almost-the-weekend day, but also because in our town, it's farmer's market day.  There's a whole new dimension to that now that I'm dropping Alex off at school on Thursday mornings, and this morning had to park illegally since all the marketgoers had *stolen* my parking spots, but we made it work.

Anyway, after school, we walked the half-block to the market, played in the park for a bit (where I saw a smattering of people I knew but who didn't know each other...kind of awkward and definitely tough to manage all three conversations at once!), and bought this monster, which I present on my pizza peel for scale (doesn't everyone use a pizza peel for scale?).  I should probably apologize for the dishes in my sink, but let's just get it out in the open right now that there are often dishes in my sink.

So, some zucchini bread is on the way--the super-nice guy at the market (I love people who are unnecessarily but deliberately nice to my kid, and he was) assures me that that's what zucchs of this size are good for.  I need a recipe...I'm planning to use something from here so I can turn right around and add in some chocolate chunks, guilt free.

Today I was super-productive during school time (bill paying, paper managing, that kind of stuff), so tomorrow, my treat to myself will be sewing during those few hours.  I'm set to start my first quilt, a Christmas lap quilt made of fabrics left over from the swap hosted by modernJax.  The top in my mind was inspired by this, and I'm thinking of a randomly pieced back à la this beaut, but with more white space--or maybe just different white space.  And a pieced binding for sure.

Friday, September 04, 2009


That's my lunch--seriously good cheddar-jalapeno bread from our farmer's market, via this wonderful place.

I feel like I'm a little late to the party.  I've been reading lots of posts lately focusing on the feelings of burden or pressure that can come from blogging--some of them from bloggers with several-year-deep archives--and here I am just getting started, on my last day of being thirty one.

A difficulty with starting now, in 2009, rather than, say, in 2006, is that there are so many blogs to love--how will I make a niche for myself?  Are there not already a hundred or a thousand blogs from women with small children who like to make, eat, and take pictures? 

The advantage, though, is that I've also had many months to form a vision of what I'd like this spot to be: a place to share things I've made and love, reflective of my voice (without trying too hard to be clever), sleek in its design, a record of things in my days that have made me happy.

It's daunting, but I think I'll give it a go.