Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Tuesday folks!

Well after starting this one back in July (has it really been that long?????) I finally managed to finish off Lizze Kate's Mystery Halloween sampler after a full day of stitching on Sunday and a bit of work on Monday evening as well. 

(Sorry for the poor lighting! I leave when it's dark and come home in the dark so there's not much in the way of options except a fully lit room!)

Happy Dance Time :)
Close up of the last section I've been working on!
A first time for everything! This is my first time putting charms/beads on a project!
Surprisingly I love the Pumpkin Head Cat! 
I loved working on this project, despite having to frog my way into a oblivion a couple of times... did I mention I hate frogging!? I don't mind a little bit of frogging... as it's virtually impossible to cross stitch without making a mistake at least once. But it seemed like everytime I turned around I was either off a stitch or a row... which left me contemplating whether or not I was awake while stitching at allllll. But I made it through and have compensated for my little boo boos in some areas rather than having to rip out a hundred stitches - I think I'd cry if I had to do that. 

Knowing I was close to a finish drove me to my stock pile of stash. I have tons of charts now and about 4-5 extra that are kitted up and ready for the hoop. 

Speaking of stash, the mailman finallllly delivered this on Friday:

This is what I bought with the Gift Card I got from Anne over at Doll's Musings after winning her blogoversary giveaway. It's Quaker Christmas II - Songs of the Season and it has been on my wishlist forever!!!!! I remember I wanted to buy it the first time I saw it BUT with the called for floss it was always too expensive. WELL! as soon as I found out I won the gift card I knew EXACTLY what I was going to spend it on. Thanks again Anne!

So what next I wonder???? I'm a little torn between starting something new or digging out that one WIP that just doesn't seem to want to get done... partly because it's soooooo hard. Do you guys remember this one? 

Yup that's 'Oh Christmas Tree' by Lavender and Lace. This is the WIP that kicked off my cross stitching craze again and was the subject of my first post EVER! Just looked, April 8, 2012 guys.... APRIL! JUMPIN'S! I know I shouldn't discriminate, but it's stitched on aida... and I just don't love it anymore. If there's one thing that blogland got me into was stitching on linen and evenweave - which I didn't even know was possible beforehand (I was strictly aida alllllll the way). This chart also has tons of confetti stitching... thanks to the tree. Sure it gives lots of dimension to the tree BUT it takes forever, which is painful. 

And while we're on the Christmas note... it's only 55 Days 'til Christmas! Let the hysteria begin! hehe

Have a great week everyone!


PS: Thinking of our Neighbours to the South today! My thoughts and prayers are with everyone having to deal with the monstrosity that is Sandy!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Happy Friday Folks!

My life has been positively 'squashy' over the past couple of weeks. I mean it! Hardly a day goes by without some type of squash being in my diet. SO I thought it would be cool to share some of my kitchen creations :)

Exhibit A:

Butternut Squash Soup

I have this recipe to thank for getting me into cooking with squash in the first place. I've never been a lover of purée'd foods, but after a friend whipped this up one day I simply couldn't resist trying it! 

Doesn't it look yummy??? Or maybe Instagram just has that affect ;)  Personally, I don't have the Instagram app - one of many apps not offered on Blackberry... so annoying. So what's a girl to do???? Well I commandeered my boyfriend's iPhone of course.  

And to throw back to a couple of posts ago - I used the little butternut squashes produced from my lovely garden! T'was very yummy indeed :)

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe:

- 1 med/lg Butternut Squash peeled and cubed (make sure to scoop the gunk out too)
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 2 - 3 tbls olive oil
- 1 or 2 boxes of chicken stock. About 4-6cups for those who use chicken bullion. 
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 3/4 tsp of nutmeg
- salt
- pepper
- 1/4 cup of milk/cream (optional)
- Chives (optional)
- sour cream (optional)
Add Olive Oil to large saucepan on med-high heat. Add chopped onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft (about 5-8mins). Add the cubed butternut squash, adding additional olive oil if necessary. Let brown for another 5-8mins. Add enough chicken stock to cover the tops of the butternut squash plus some. Add bay leaves. Bring to a gentle boil and let cook at medium heat until the butternut squash is soft when pierced with a fork. Add more salt and pepper to your taste.

Using a hand held blender or a food processor purée the soup. Add nutmeg after you've given the soup an initial go with the blender/food processor and then blend until smooth. I usually add some milk or cream as well to make it creamer. I also add more chicken stock than most people because I like my soup like soup and not purée veg. When all's set and done I like to top with freshly chopped chives and a little bit of sour cream as well. 

If you decide to give this recipe a go, please feel free to experiment! Add as little or as much as you want of the ingredients listed. Go by how things taste, that's my method of cooking :)

Exhibit B:

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Squares

Boy were these ever fun to make!!! I had some left over puree pumpkin (from a can) in the fridge after having pumpkin spice pancakes over the weekend and I thought that this would be a great use of my leftovers. Yey for not being wasteful!!!! I brought them to the office and they were GONE in a jiff. 

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Squares - more instagram fun :)
What I liked most about this recipe is that it was only a little cheesecaky if that makes any sense. It was a fun twist on a traditional cheesecake I think. Best part - the crust is NOT gram crumbs. Not that I have anything against gram... it's just so much funner (and yummer) to have a crust made from flour, brown sugar and butter :))))))) 

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Squares (Anna Olson - Foodnetwork Canada recipe):

- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup of packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup of cool butter, cut into cubes

Pumpkin Cheesecake
- 1/2 package brick cream cheese, at room temp
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of pumpkin purée (NOT pumpkin pie filling!!!)
- 2 tbls all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp of baking powerder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 whole egg, at room temp
- 1 egg yolk

Cheesecake Swirl
- 1/4 package brick cream cheese, at room temp
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Greease an 8-inch square pan and line it with parchment paper so that the paper comes up the sides of the pan ( this makes it easier to remove after).

For the crust, using a food processor, pulse the flour and brown sugar together, then cut in the butter until evenly blended (the mixture will be dry and crumbly). Alternatively, this base can be made by hand, blending the butter into the flour and sugar using a pastry cutter. Press this into the prepared pan and bake it for about 18mins, until it turns just a little brown at the edges. Cool completely before adding the filling. 

Next for the pumpkin cheesecake filling, beat the cream cheese to soften and then beat the cream cheese to soften and then beat in the sugar. Add the pumpkin and stir until smooth. Switch to a whisk and add in the flour, backing powder and cinnamon. Whisk in the egg and egg yolk and set aside.

For the cheesecake swirl, beat the cream cheese until smooth and then beat in the sugar. Stir in the egg yolk and vanilla until smooth.

Next, pour the pumpkin cheesecake onto the cooled crust. Either spoon or pipe the cheesecake swirl on top and use a tooth pick or bamboo skewer to create pretty swirls. Bake for about 30 mins until, like a cheesecake, the filling is set at the edges but still has a little jiggle at the centre. Cool the squares to room temp, then chill for at least 2hrs before slicing. The squares will keep, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

OK enough talking about food for one day - I'm literally drooling here!

I hope everyone has a great halloweeny weekend! Lots planned :)



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Happy Tuesday Folks!

I've been forced to contemplate my laziness after trolling all your lovely little blogs this week. Yes, I have finally made some progress on my LK* WIP.... but this is not what I'm referring to when I'm talking about my laziness. Nope! I'm actually making progress on that - but more on that later. In fact my laziness is embodied in these little critters:

Yup, those are all my ORTS hanging out on the arm of my stitching chair. Would you like to know how OLD those ORTS are?... [oh the shame....] going on 4 months old!!!! I am beginning to seriously doubt whether they'll make it to my TUSAL jar at all (which I haven't added to in ages...). 

What are some of my other lazy habits you might ask? Well, perhaps it's that shirt that just doesn't seem to make the hamper once it's on my ottoman in my room, or the coat that doesn't get hung up, or perhaps the half full glass of water that doesn't make it to the dishwasher for a day or two. I am by no means a dirty person, but the effort it takes to pick up that one piece of clothing or clean up that glass of water is enough to make me put off putting them where they belong for a day or two (or three.... MORE SHAME!). But I make myself feel better by knowing that EVERYONE (yes you!) have their own lazy little habits.  Or at least I like to think you do. So please feel free to share your own lazy secret in the comments section below! Make me feel better haha :) 

On a more proactive note - I was a busy bee over the weekend! 

Saturday afternoon I went to Winefest with the beau... 4 hours later and a few dollars lighter (well maybe a little more than a few) I arrived home somehow sober, despite my best  efforts, and with 6 new bottles of wine in tow... to be devoured at some point in the future. 

Ohhhhh but the day was not over yet! The boyfriend and I then began brewing our next concoction of beer. Being ever seasonal, it was a Spiced Pumpkin Porter Ale! Clad in PJs, hair sticking out every which way, and long wooden spoon in hand, I boiled and toiled for what seemed like hours... you could probably draw a comparison to your stereotypical witchy crone standing over their cauldron and you would not be far off the truth. 

Of course, a night spent in the kitchen would not be complete without a last minute run to the grocery store (with 5 minutes to spare I might add!). Yet for some reason, completely unknown to me, I loved EVERY second. Yup - crazy person sitting right here :) In all seriousness though, I seriously cannot wait to try this ale out! While everything else stank, the spices smell delish! I'm not what you call a beer drinker... And, despite what this post may lead you to believe, drinking is not an everyday occurrence!!! Just want to put that out there ;)

Sunday, thankfully less hectic, was my stitching day! I haven't had one of these in a LOOOOOOOOOONG time. I stitched stitched stitched to my hearts content, absorbing any halloween/creepy movie that fell into my lap. An awesome day! Polished off an exchange piece and even put in a few stitches in my LK* Mystery Sampler. Here's my progress so far:

Thats all for now!

Have a great week!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Happy Tuesday Folks!

No stitchy news today - rather a final update on my sophomore year of veggie gardening! 

Here's where we were at in June:

June 2012 - The Start

Seeds just in the ground and squash's just planted. Oh and let's not forget the gate! Bunny proofing at its best and a lesson learned from the year previous where NOTHING survived the onslaught of slugs and bunnies. 

By July, the garden was in fully swing. My beans had started to climb the teepee I had put together. The carrots, onions, radishes were starting to make an appearance. And those pumpkins... well let's just say they began to over run their bed in August.  

July 2012
And now, here we are in October! We've had to fight off a few slugs and rescue baby squashes from the brink of death, but I can safely say we did it! 

Over the last couple of weeks the boyfriend and I have been in full Fall Harvest mode, and yesterday we dug up most of what was left. 

October 2012

One lone Butternut squash left to ripen. You could certainly call this one a late bloomer!
I have to say - the garden looks in rough shape right now doesn't it? WELL, there's a good reason for this! After our experience with lack of proper nutrients in the soil (this is what almost killed our squashes) the boyfriend did LOTS of reading up on this problem. Nope gardening is not as easy as putting seed to soil folks. A delicate balance must be struck between 3 different kinds of nutrients for a garden - and especially veggies - to grow successfully. 

The boyfriend, being the pro-active type, got his wheelbarrow, shovel and gloves together and started preparing the soil for next year. While a lot of soil preping can be done in the spring, it's also beneficial to let the nutrients hang out in the soil over the winter in addition to doing some spring preping. Yup - he's a keener and that's why I love him :)  

Hard at work :)

And yes! I got my hands dirty too!!! Literally :)

And here are the fruit of our labour (or veggies hehe).

Baby carrots just from the garden!

Butternut Squash

Pumpkins! Currently out on the front step but I took them in just for this picture. We did have 3 but the boyfriend made fresh pumpkin pie the other night and one had to be sacrificed!!!!

The perfect stem? Why YES - I think it is :) Love it!

Before and After a wash. Surprising to see how vibrant the washed ones are! 

Believe it or not, there's still more carrots left in the garden. Hoping that they'll grow just a bit more before the frost gets at them. 

Its been a very rewarding experience creating a vegetable garden. I love being able to grab an onion or a zucchini when the mood strikes me. And FRESH veg is simply to die for, over the comparatively old veg in the grocery store. I hate it when I have to go digging through boxes upon boxes of strawberries just to find a package that doesn't look too bruised or mouldy! Yes this happens... just the other day in fact... ANYWAY I digress. 

For someone who LOVES being in the kitchen, this has been a dream.  I'm so looking forward to next year - plans have already begun! Perhaps a greenhouse is the next step :)

But for now, I'll settle for some down time and will plop my butt in my favourite stitching chair tonight and take in some Halloween movies with the boyfriend. Sounds like an evening made in heaven to me :)

Have a great week everyone!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Whew! Well that went fast! I can't say I'm fully recovered from my trip to NYC... who knew that I'd need to go back to work to get some reprieve from a vacation???? So much walking - not sure my feet will ever been the same. That said, it was a fabulous vacation! The sights and sounds of a city as big as NYC are just amazing.

Here's a little snipit of some my trip:

It was so great to catch up with some of my old friends. Since we all moved away from our homes to do the same Masters program in Italy, our classmates really became our family away from home - if you know what I mean. Miss them already hehe :)

In stitchy news I won Anne's 2nd blogoversary giveaway over at Doll's Musings while I was gone! Such a surprise and SOOOOOO excited :) I'm trolling 123stitch's website as we speak looking for something to suck up the gift certificate hehe. THANKS ANNE!!!!!

In other stitchy news, my needle has laid dormant for quite some time now and I'm hoping to get back at it soon, maybe tomorrow!!! I'm looking forward to completing an exchange piece I've been working hard on, a gift for a friend, AND part 3 of Lizze Kate's Halloween Mystery Sampler (soooooo much fun).  Yup lots to do and many more projects lined up too.

Anyway dearies that's all from me for now!!!

I hope everyone has a great week :) 


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