Monthly Archives: November 2011

I ate leftovers.

No, I don’t STILL have Thanksgiving leftovers! This is a meal I came up with on Saturday.

I heated up some frozen corn and black eyed peas and seasoned it with Creole seasoning, a little Tabasco, and salt and pepper. I spread sour cream and guacamole on tortillas, then added some leftover salad greens and finally topped it with the corn/bep mix. Add some stuffing on the side, and this was one heck of a meal.

Now, the eating of the leftover pie was not nearly as pretty … and was often straight from the pan.


I was thankful.

Ah,  Thanksgiving. For some, it’s simply the last barrier before the Christmas season begins (and sometimes Thanksgiving doesn’t even stop them!). For me, it’s a chance to cook and bake (and eat) huge amounts of food, clean my house for hours on end, and enjoy the company of family.

This is the … fourth? time we’ve hosted Thanksgiving at our house and it was wonderful, once again.

Harvest Chili was our main course, as usual. We had cornbread muffins to crumble in, as well as pumpkin-carrot muffins. For this I tried the (apparently well-known) method of using a typical boxed cake mix (I picked carrot cake) and mixing it with a can of pumpkin puree, then baking as directed on the box. That’s it — two ingredients and you get some tasty muffins that are healthy and moist.

Our side dishes were salad, edamame succotash, and fried potatoes and onions. We also had stuffing (I still call it that, even though it didn’t stuff anything), and my mother-in-law brought a relish tray with pickles and olives. Desserts were enjoyed quickly! I made pumpkin pie (from The Joy of Vegan Baking), and my mom made chocolate pudding pie. Everything was so good!

We had a unique centerpiece this year too. I found a sprouted onion when prepping dinner, and it was just to pretty to toss. Pop it in a martini glass with some lentils, and you’ve got an instant centerpiece. I’m considering planting it and seeing what happens …

How were your Thanksgiving festivities?

I’m cooking for Thanksgiving.

While I was growing up, I never really thought of Thanksgiving as one of my favorite holidays. However, the more I think about it now as an adult, the more I love it. I get to cook and share great food with other people, we get to sit and chat and play games, and we get to think about all of the things that make us happy in life. What is there not to love?

A few years back we started hosting Thanksgiving at our house and making an entirely vegan meal. For those of you who have visions of molded-tofu turkeys, that can stop right now. Our main course is always chili — black beans, butternut squash, tomatoes, corn, rice and all delicious. Sides and desserts vary, but my favorites are stuffing, edamame succotash, and pumpkin pie.

This year, as always, I am thankful for so many things. Thankful that Ryan and I are in a position that allows him to start his own business. Thankful that my family is mostly healthy. Thankful that there are things like cellphones and Facebook and postcards that keep me connected with my sister. Thankful that I have a job that I love and enjoy. Thankful for the pup and the cats that keep me company.

What are you thankful for this year?

Recent reads.

Yes, I’m a librarian, and no, I don’t read at work. However — I do a lot of reading and I always have. To check out all the reading I do, you can find me on Goodreads.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the books I’ve read lately. Have you read any good ones? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness was a fantastic book. It’s considered young adult, but it deals with very adult issues. Conor’s mom is fighting cancer, Conor is fighting bullies, his dad is across the Atlantic in America, and now the Green Man, in the guise of a yew tree, shows up to help him, but perhaps not in the way Conor expects. I absolutely loved this book.

You Are an Ironman by Jacques Steinberg was an interesting book. I may be something of a runner, and I may bike around town on my extremely heavy steel frame, but I’ve never been much of a swimmer and don’t see any triathlons in my future. That being said, it was inspiring to read the challenges faced by wannabe Ironmen (and women) on their way to the big race.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami is my current read. At over 940 pages, it’s a daunting task, but it has actually been a pretty speedy read. Murakami can describe a scene without driving me crazy with over-the-top prose, which I appreciate. The book focuses on Aomame and Tengo, who met as children and have ever only truly loved each other, even though they haven’t seen each other since fourth grade. Throw in a parallel universe with two moons, a 17-year-old girl who may not be a real girl at all, and the killings of male perpetrators of domestic violence, and you’ll have an idea what Murakami’s novel is about. Yes, it sounds a little crazy, but the story pulled me in and has kept me reading. I have about 100 pages to go.

Others of note:

Running on Empty by Marshall Ulrich – a 57-year-old man runs over 3,000 miles across the United States in 52 days. Inspiring when you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin – a young wife and mother at the turn of the century starts doubting the happiness of her marriage. Early fem-lit that was readable, albeit a little depressing.

That wraps up my November reading so far. What are YOU reading?

I made a tutu.

(And so can  you!)

In a few weeks (on December 3, to be exact) I am running the Thin Mint Sprint 5K. This race has happened in years past, but it will be my first time running it — and in costume, no  less! Not a full out costume, but I wanted to do something to commemorate the upcoming holiday.

Pardon the messy desk shots. That’s just how I craft.

So I started out with a ton of tulle. I got the basic idea from this blog, but the process quickly became my own. The tulle was maybe around $1 a yard — I think even less. The silver was a bit more expensive than the red, but still super affordable. I bought 2 yards of silver, which turned out perfect, and 8 yards of red, which … was too much. Anyone need some red tulle?

I started by unfolding the tulle so that it was just folded once (the tulle basically measured 26″ wide, and when it was folded it was 13″ … following me?), then I cut along that fold so that I had two layers of 13″ wide tulle. I could still see the folds from when the tulle was wrapped on cardboard at the store, and these folds happened to be approximately 6″ apart, which is what the tutorial suggested. So I cut through the two layers of tulle on every 6″-apart fold to make strips.

I used 1 1/2″ wide elastic for my waistband, simply because that’s all I found at the store. I wrapped the elastic around my waist for a quick measurement, added about 3/4″ to the length, then trimmed it. Then I overlapped the two ends a bit and sewed, making the elastic into one big circle for the waist.

Now for the fun part. Tulle is tough to wrangle. I took a strip of tulle and doubled it over my elastic, so that there was about 6″ of tulle both in front of and behind the elastic. I bunched it up a little bit at the top to cover the whiteness of the elastic, then I pinned it in place. My pattern to get the stripes was 4 strips of red, then a strip of silver. I actually used 2 strips of silver overlapped to make the silver stand out even more.

Then I stuffed the band into the sewing machine and started stitching. Be sure you watch for pins — they like to hide in the tulle. Also be sure to hold the tulle down so it goes under the sewing machine foot. You can tell that I ran out of pins and couldn’t pin the whole thing — so I did it in sections.

This was another super quick project that was really a lot of fun. You can definitely scale this down for kids (or scale it up — the original tutorial was for little girl tutus). Mine is super full, but when it comes to tulle, more is more, right? No, no pictures of me wearing said tutu yet — but I’ll be sure to give you a race recap!

I made a sewn scarf.

(And you can too!)

Mark your calendars, everyone — I actually made something that I saw on Pinterest (original source).

I have a lot of yarn in my stash, and sometimes I just want a quick project. I had some great bright blue yarn (Caron Simply Soft Quick in Blue Mint) that I love. It’s bulky, and I just could not figure out what crochet stitch would work for it — as well as keep the awesome look that the yarn has by itself.

Enter the sewn scarf.

To start with, I cut 50 million strands of yarn to the proper length for my scarf. Not really — just around 36. This made a skinny scarf of around 3″ wide, so if you want a wider scarf or if you are using skinnier yarn, then cut more strands. I found the right length by laying out a scarf I already had and measuring against that. Don’t worry if your strands aren’t all exactly the same length — you’ll trim them later.

Then to make the strands more manageable while sewing, I tied them all to a clothes hanger because that’s what I had handy. A pencil would have made a lot more sense and been easier to move. Oh well.

Start a few inches in from the clothes hanger (or whatever you use to secure your strands) so that you have tassels! Length of tassels is up to you — mine are 4-5″ long. Because my  yarn was so bulky, I didn’t lower the presser foot. This led to some finicky sewing in some places because the needle would sometimes push the yarn into the bobbin space (I don’t know technical sewing terms). So take it slow and be careful. That being said — it was really super easy.

One really awesome thing about this is that you can do all kinds of color combinations. You could do contrasting thread like I did (I had pink thread handy, so that’s what I used), or you could even use two colors of yarn and do stripes or alternate the colors of the strands before you sew … I could make a million of these.

When I sewed, I would sew “forward” — pushing the yarn away from me, which would make the thread come forward, if that makes any sense — and then I would sew “backward” — using the function of my machine that, well, makes the needle move backward as I bring the yarn toward me. In some places (not consistently, as the imperfection is what is so perfect about this scarf) I made sure to do an extra stitch on either side to properly secure the outermost strands of yarn to the rest of the scarf. It makes more sense when you are doing it, I think.

I ended up with what you can see here after a little bit of sewing. I tried to do the sewn parts a fair distance apart, but they ended up too far apart and it just looked like I had looped a whole skein of yarn around my neck. Maybe that look will be in next fall, but I haven’t seen it on the catwalks lately.

So back on the machine it went. This time, I stitched in between all the previously-stitched parts so that the whole scarf is stitched. I threw in some diagonal stitches here and there, which you can kind of see in the picture. The all-over stitching gives the scarf a woven look, like it was created on a loom. I thought it would end up being stiff, but it’s still quite soft and extra cozy.

Now I am planning to go through my stash and find random combinations of yarn to stitch together. These would be perfect for gifts (if I hadn’t already given everybody a scarf already) or for charity. A couple of years ago I crocheted a bunch of simple scarves for the local nursing home residents so that they could all have a Christmas gift. I think I will churn out some of these babies — much less time consuming than crocheting, although not nearly as easy to do in front of the TV.

Let me know if you make one — I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

We walked 2 miles.

This past weekend, my mom and I participated in a 2 mile walk (and run – but we walked) that was to raise funds for a walking trail being put in here in town. It felt a little cool (it is November, after all), but it wasn’t bad at all once we started moving.

Aren’t we cute?

It was a nice quick walk, and it felt good to give something for a good cause. I think the walking trail will be a nice addition to the west side of town.

While we were walking, Mom mentioned wanting to start running a little bit, so we decided that we would start doing the Couch to 5K program. I did this when I started running, and it is a great help. It works out great for me because I can do a longer run on the weekend, but a couple of times during the week get out and move for a bit without totally overdoing it — not to mention I have great company and it gives Mom and me a chance to catch up.

If you want to add running to your current workouts, or even if you’re a total couch potato, Couch to 5K is the best way I’ve seen to get started. It’s doable, and you can go at your own pace if you need to. Not ready to move onto the plan for Week 4? Do Week 3 again and don’t worry about it — you’re still getting out and moving!

So Mom — I’m proud of you! You will kick butt in that 5K I know you are going to sign up for …