The poncho that wouldn’t end

So sorry for the delay (I know you were on pins and needles) I thought I had this one scheduled to be posted, but I did something wacky and it didn’t work.  Anyway, here it is.  There is a poncho that I had fell in love with on Pinterest a while back.  It looked so cozy and comfy while still looking classic and elegant.  I had to have it!  But…it was a crochet pattern.  I didn’t know how to crochet a few months back.  So, alas, no poncho for me.  It never occurred to me to try to knit it, but since I have since learned how to crochet so now it should be no problem. (The pattern for this gorgeous thing is avail for free!)

poncho love

Except, it was.  I started this project more than a week ago.  I had an enormously long starting chain (because I wasn’t following instructions) and when I got several rows into it, I noticed it was just waaay too long.  That wasn’t going to work.  So I pulled out all of my stitches and started anew.

I had to re-roll my yarn into balls, count my starting chain doing many fewer than the first try, and get back to my half and full double crochet stitches.  Then…at the end of my yarn it was not what I wanted.  I didn’t have enough to make it as wide as I had envisioned, and I ran out of one of the colors before the other and had this weird color blocking thing I was not digging at all.

Now here we are at attempt number 3.  I re-rolled all of my yarn into one huge ball (that I am constantly fighting the cats for) dropped my starting chain down by about 15 more stitches, and once again got back to work.

take 3

Mine final poncho ended up quite different than the one I wanted to recreate, but I am liking it.  Next time I attempt it, I will follow the directions better to try to get something closer to the one I first fell in love with.

What I ended up with was very simple to create once I  started the third time.  I made my starting chain of 100.  The first row I made my turning chain and then did half double crochets to the end.  The next 12 rows was a simple turning chain with double crochets until I ran almost out of yarn, and left a very long tail in order to seem together the two end pieces.

In order to finish this piece, what I did was to take the other corner in the same line, the last row of the full double crochet, and count up the number of stitches to equal the same number of rows so the two pieces end at the same point.  On mine, I started seeming them together 19 stitches up from the end.  I used a simple slip stitch to make it a nice flat-ish seem that was not too bulky.

Pointy poncho

I like the end result of this because you can wear it a few different ways.  I like it with the point down in the front.  It feels much more poncho-like to me that way.  But you can also wear it off to the side, more like a wrap, which is cute too.

Side

 

Happy Hour!

The Michelada’s were a hit at the Pin Party this past week, but I had never heard of them before hand.  It was a new and exciting drink for most of the crowd.  It is a refreshing and much lighter version of a Bloody Mary was most of the guests opinion, and it went great with the Fire-Roasted Chili we made.

Luckily the host of the party had enjoyed the cocktail before, so she knew what the end flavor should be.  With that knowledge and a vague memory of the recipe in mind, we bravely ventured forth and came up with a great drink that everyone enjoyed.

michelada

How it was made:

4 12 oz bottles of light Mexican Beer (We used Corona Extra)

12 oz Tomato Juice

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp hot sauce

Juice of 1 lemon

Extra hot sauce for each drink to bring the heat up to each persons preference.

Pour everything into a large pitcher, give it a good stir, and serve chilled.  You can rim the edge of the glass with a big of salt and chili powder for a nice added touch.

The heat Is On

So around here, things have been crazy busy.  It was a great week, filled with friends, new and old.  The best part was the pin party hosted at a local shop that I helped with.  There where make and take crafts, snacks, drinks, and tons of awesome folks.

It was a little chilly out, I want to say mid-50’s, and so the recipes that everyone loved were the ones that brought a little heat.  There were two that I made that fell under that category.  The Michelada’s, a new to me spicy beer and tomato cocktail, and Fire-Roasted Chili.

Now, I’m a chili fan in the extreme.  I am also deeply in love with my crock pot.  I think, one lead to the other, but I don’t know which started it all, but either way, you could very easily make this recipe on the stove or in a large dish baked in the oven if you so choose.  For me, chili never turns out the same twice, and I think that is why I love it.  I get bored easily with the same foods, and while I do love to cook, standing in the kitchen baby-sitting a pot on the stove, isn’t my kind of fun.  I am more of a fit-it-and-forget-it kind of a cook.  I got the inspiration for this recipe from Emily, a Pittsburgh blogger who has killer recipes and is a great lady all around.

Since I do the low-carb thing, and our hosts are vegan, it did limit some of the possibilities of the food we could do.  A good thing in my book, it helped to keep the party manageable.  Emily’s recipe called for kidney and garbanzo beans, two that I love but stay away from due to the carb content.  So I switched it up with white soy beans and black soy beans (These are the ones my local grocery store carries.  If you haven’t tried them, I highly recommend that you do.  They are awesome and I have never gotten them mushy no matter how long I cook them.)  I also left out the corn, though I do adore it in chili, it just has a bit too much natural sugar for me right now. Finally, in place of the veggie broth I added 2 cans of regular diced tomatoes with green chilies.  I knew I was going to mix it up the day before in order to make my prep work on the big day less stressful, and I do not know what it is about those tomatoes/chilies, but the always get hotter when stored in the fridge overnight, so just a warning, if you make this dish ahead the way I did, or plan on having leftovers, it will get hotter.

chili shots

The Fire-Roasted Chili recipe as I made it:

2 cans (15 oz) Fire Roasted Tomatoes, with liquid

1 can (15 oz) Black Soy Beans, with liquid

1 can (15 oz) White Soy Beans, with liquid

2 cans (10 oz) Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies, with liquid

1 Tbsp Chili Powder

1 Tbsp Oregano, dried

2 tsp Ground Cumin

1 tsp Ground Coriander

1/2 tsp Ground Cayenne

Salt and Pepper to taste

Round Tortilla Chips (optional)

As I was serving these in shot glasses to be more finger food friendly, I did pulse all of the tomatoes in the food processor 3-4 times just to get them in smaller pieces.  I them dumped everything in a crockpot including the liquids from all of the cans, gave it a quick stir, placed the lid on and set it to cook on low for 6 hours or so.  Recipe makes about 80 ounces, or 50 shot glass servings.

If serving in shot glasses, I recommend letting the chili cool a bit before ladling into glasses and top with a tortilla round.  Makes for a very cute presentation, and easy to eat while milling around talking with friends.

Tomorrow I will be posting the Michelada recipe we used for an interesting, refreshing yet spicy beer and tomato cocktail that was a big winner at the Pin Party.

Technical Difficulties

Wow!  What a week this has been.  From my camera (a.k.a. my phone) refusing to let me get my pictures off it, my laptop’s battery being dead every time I  needed to use it, and a super busy schedule due to this past weeks pin party, I have not gotten a single post up.  Today that shall be fixed.  I think…I hope.  As long as today goes smoothly, I have all of the kinks worked out.  Lots of fun stuff in store this week.  Yummy recipes, more crochet projects, and boobs (I finally took the time to measure myself and found I was in fact, wearing the wrong sized bra.  What a difference it makes to have the right size!)

Stay tuned and I will have many adventures posted this week.  I am hoping to have one up today.

Didn’t do much today except make dinner

…and it was from left overs.  Yea, it was a low energy day, but dinner turned out great.  I figured since many people do ham on or around Easter, there is usually a lot left in the fridge.  And really, one can only take so many ham sandwiches before you want to throw the whole thing out the door.

I know some people who hate to read a blog just to get to the recipes, so I am just going to list it up here first.

2 big/3 regular servings:

2 cups cooked ham, cubed

2 cups cooked green beans, cut into about 1 inch pieces

1/2-1 tsp seasoning (garlic/herb blends are nice, or a salt/pepper/onion powder/garlic powder would work well too) to taste

1 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese (fresh tastes so much better than the green can)

1 tsp butter or oil

onepot

This was a super simple toss together in one pan and you are good to go kind of a meal, with only 4 ingredients.  How can you beat that?  So I have these darling friends who stopped by with a big old chunk of ham leftover from their family get together over the weekend.  It was really good, but I have this thing.  I hate, hate, hate eating the same thing meal after meal.  This girl needs variety, my guy…not so much.  Anyway, so here I am with this lovely hunk-o-ham, some green beans left over from last nights pot roast, and an empty belly.

beans

The green beans where whole, so I gave them a quick chop.  Used a micro-plainer to make a big fluffy pile of grated parmesan, and cubed up the ham real quick.

saycheese

I am currently without a stove/oven, but I have an awesome little tabletop infrared oven doodad.  (It is one of those as seen on tv sort of deals, but I couldn’t live without this thing.)  I plopped the ham in a stoneware dish with a touch of butter and cooked it on high for about 5 minutes until it got a little bit brown (for stovetop just place in a skillet and saute until a little brown) added the green beans, bout a tsp of garlic & herb seasoning (I used Weber brand and it is pretty tasty if not a little salty.)  Add the cheese, stir well and cook another 5-10 minutes until all if nice and hot.  Serve with an extra bit of cheese on top if you like.

dindin
See?  Super simple, all done in one pan and it helps to clear out the fridge of leftovers.  A win in my book.

A few tips

I have found Pinterest to be a great place for handy tips and trick, not just recipes, crafts and well everything else you can think of.

I just wanted to take a minute to share with you a few of my favorite ones (some that I have used for years and some that I recently heard of and put to use)

This one from Good Ideas For You

Drill

Place a paper cup onto the business end of a drill to catch all the drywall drippings when making holes in the ceiling.  Is that smart or is that smart?  Since I have a lot in the way of renovation projects coming up I thought I would put this one to the test, and it was great.  I wear glasses when I do that sort of work, but I found that I didn’t need to wear goggles on top of them (which is a great look for me, let me tell you)  You may still want to for safety’s sake

This mom shared a tip that I have known for years but sometimes forget to practice resulting in “bubble burgers” when you get a lump of burger that is mostly round.

thumb printWhen patting out burgers, after you form them, stick your thumb in the middle and compress the meat a little more there.  It keeps it from puffing up into the dreaded bubble burger

The lovely folks over at snapguide showed me something fabulous that I never figured out on my own.  How to hang a sweater without making it look like you did.  ❤

sweater saver

They have an 8 picture guide on how to do it, but it couldn’t be more simple.  Place the hanger with the hook at the pit, fold the body over one half of the hanger, the sleeves over the other half and there you go.  The weight is distributed evenly enough that you won’t get the ugly shoulder bumps you get when hanging them the traditional way.  As I am short of drawer space, and have a minor addiction to sweaters, this is a life saver for me.

I don’t know who Liniweenie is, but the girl(?) has some great ideas, and gets bonus points for creative reuse ideas.  In my house, we are doing the low carb thing.  So we go through our share of no sugar added drink flavorer.  Mios are great to punch up a boring glass of water (after 10-15 glasses a day, they can get a bit monotonous) I have seen and tried the ones made by Crystal Light and a few store brands.  They all have worked for this little travel container.

reuse is greatYou pull off the label,  pop off the top and you have a cool little travel container for salad dressing, soy sauce, any kind of condiment that is more or less liquidy works.  One person said they use theirs for lotion!  I love that.

A Cherry on Top shares a neat little tidbit on how to sharpen dull punches.

SharpYup – just punch a piece of tin foil a few times and you should be good to go.  (The same trick works for scissors) That part I had known, but she adds an extra hint.  Do the same with some wax paper to kind of lube up the punch so your embellishments don’t stick to it.  Clever!

I love Lifehacker!  They have so many cool ideas on there.  This tip is for grilled cheese for a group.

baked cheeseSo, it is more a baked cheese than a grilled cheese, but it is really an awesome idea.  I have done this when we had some friends over and needed to make more that 2 grilled cheeses. I think I ended up doing 6 at once.  You want to start by preheating your oven (I did 325 f) with 2 jelly roll pans in the oven to get nice and warm.  You butter the bread and assemble your grilled cheese, and place them on one pan and place the other on top of the sandwiches.  Then you just cook them until the bread gets crispy and the cheese is warm and gooey (Mine took about 12 minutes).  One thing I did was placed a large heavy skillet on top to mush the sandwiches down and ensure really good contact with both pans, you don’t have to go that route, but if you do, make sure your skillet is oven safe (no plastic handles) and be careful when removing it from the oven.

The next tip came from a dead end pin, so I don’t know who to credit for this (sorry!) but it is so brilliant I have to share.  At the end of the morning (or afternoon, or evening) pot of coffee, if there is any left, here is what you do with it.

iced coffee cubesMake ice cubes.  That way, when you have iced coffee, rather than having to make double strength coffee to keep it from getting watered down, you just use your left over coffee that you froze into cubes.  I also often make pot roasts or pork loins with a bit of brewed coffee (it makes them really tender) so I just toss in a handful before I turn on the crock pot.  I have been playing around with the whole Once A Month Cooking and for those I just toss a handful of cubes into the bags of food that still have to be cooked in the crock pot before freezing them.

My guy loves this one.  He thinks ketchup can solve most of the worlds problems.  Stuckihouse shared this fun little tip. Ketchup to the rescue!

ketchup to the rescueFreeze small ketchup packets for tiny ice packs for little ones or just small boo-boos.  Plus, when the ouch is gone, toss it back into the freezer and you can use them again.  I keep mine in a small ziptop baggy just in case they get used on a knocked toe or something like that.  Who wants feet grime in the freezer (and with kids you never know where they ended up before getting dropped back in the freezer)

The Gardeners Eden shares a tip about saving herbs.  I have the blackest thumb, so I buy fresh herbs in bunches and don’t grow my own, but I still have some left over before I use them all up.  I have historically just laid them on a jellyroll pan in the freezer and then transfered them to a container until I used them up.  This tip changes that idea up a bit.  (And I don’t have to clean out my freezer to fit the big pan in there – YAY!!)

HerbsThey added cleaned herb to ice cube trays and added oil (for frying) broth (for stews/soups) or a bit of butter (for doing herbed butters) all for use in the winter when the fresh herbs aren’t in abundance.  Once they have frozen pop them in a bag or container for longer term storage and label each one, just in case.  I have done the oil method and also used a bit of low sodium vegetable broth.  (I feel it is better to use something certified vegan rather than a mix of beef/chicken/seafood/veggie, in case I end up using them in a dish where our veggie friends join us, I don’t have to worry about if it is ok to use or not.)

No picture for the last hint.  It is one that I have done for years now – I know I ran across a pin for it at some point, but I didn’t repin so I don’t know where it lead.  I store my knives in the block upside down.  I have heard people rail on about how unsafe it is, but the handle makes it quite obvious that the blade is up.  If you can’t tell by looking at it, maybe you should not be handling them to begin with.  But I find that it makes things much easier.  I don’t know if it actual helps to not dull the knife, but it does keep the block from giving off splinters and getting pretty well marred on the inside.  So, use your own judgment, but in my house it works best for us.

Getin Knitty With It

Na na na na na na na…Sorry I have had that song stuck in my head today.  So, I found a stash of Wool Ease that I had purchased for a project several months ago, that was abandoned.  So I had this great ball of crisp white wool yarn, a cup of coffee and an evening to myself.  Instead of doing the million or so things on my to do list, I made a scarf.  Yup, that is what I felt I needed to do.

lump of scarf

Things have been moving very fast around here.   Things have been rolling along a bit too quickly for my tastes; I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.  I needed something to let my brain just mush and not have to think about anything.  Thinking along those lines I had this scarf earmarked for something to make.  I figured I would sit down, play some music, sip some coffee and just knit.

Boy was I wrong.  You see this scarf is adorable, a quick knit – or it should be at least, chunky and airy at the same time.  It uses a few very simple stitches that I am comfortable with, and I just couldn’t get it to come together.  I didn’t know what was going on.  Knit, yarn over, purl to together.  I know these.  But I cast on the number called for, and ended up with one less on the next row.  What was going on?!  I think it was my first yarn over that was tripping me up.

Since I know I am quicker and better at the knit stitch than the purl stitch, I thought I would mix it up.  The directions over at Labor of Love are great.  I understood them just fine, I just couldn’t get my yarn to do what I needed it to do.  (Go check out her lovely orange scarf.  I need to get that yarn because I am just in love with hers.)

What I ended up doing was reverse her directions.  And it worked for me!  I cast on the right number, 12, and purled my way across the first row.  Purl one, yarn over and knit 2 together for the middle ten, purl the last one in the row.  Flip and repeat.

Once I was sure the reverse directions would work I stopped to admire the scarf.

Once I was sure the reverse directions would work I stopped to admire the scarf.  I think this was about 10 rows?

It knitted up so quick and nice.  I was thinking this one would be a gift but I am kind of loving the clean simple white of this scarf.  Oh man!  I hate when I make something for someone, fall in love with it, give it away, and then plan to make one for me…later.  Because I never get around to it.  I can’t be the only one who does that, can I?  At least I know I would feel worse if I kept it for me and didn’t get around to making it for the giftee.

Going to have to call this one: Nailed It – mostly!  While mine fought back, and I don’t think mine turned quite like the one she made, I love it!  I don’t usually want the same thing everyone else has anyway, so I rarely set out to make a carbon copy.  Since it turned out really cute, and I am happy with it, it goes in the win column for me.

scarf

Yes, that is the fabulous new scarf. Now I just need to pry it off of me and put in a gift box….maybe =)