Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Turkey Day Preparations

I'm not hosting Turkey Day this year but that isn't stopping me! I hit the grocery store today after work and patiently wound my way around the throngs of cranky shoppers. And then I hit the other grocery store when the first was out of a few choice items. Who knew that strawberries were so difficult to find?  And I'm sorry, but I really need a specific brand of shredded hash browns for cheesy potatoes. This just isn't negotiable.

I think I managed to gather enough supplies to not only get us to Turkey Day but prevent us from having to leave the house on the Friday after. I really don't like Black Friday. Its like a yearly Anarchy Fest. I stay home, hiding safe and warm in my crafty room, equipped with multiple cups of coffee and a snack stash.

This year I'm planning on making;

Cream Cheese Mashed Taters
Cheesy Taters
Apple Crisp
Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake
Fruit Tart Thingy

The Fruit Tart Thingy is a new recipe and I don't remember the actual name of the recipe. I'll let you know how it turns out.

In the meantime last Saturday I stayed home and put together a selection of movie marathons. It took me like half an hour to decide between the Fairy Tale Maration, the Harry Potter Marathon, the Epic Medieval Movie Marathon, the Lord of the Rings Marathon (a 15 hour event that no one should miss!), and the Kaelyn's Favorite Actors Marathon (Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Denzel Washington, and Johnny Depp). I eventually settled on the Fairy Tales Marathon.


With Stardust as my guide, I settled in for a day of laundry, dishes, and cross stitching. Four loads of laundry, one load of dishes, and four movies later... tada!


Mr. Snowman forced me to finally learn to do French knots. I still don't like them, but I can do them. Eight ornaments down, eight to go. Three in progress.


I'm leaving work tomorrow at 2 pm, so I plan to do all my cooking then and have a nice easy Thanksgiving. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A New Recipe - Balsamic Roasted Beef

Somewhere along the line, I missed out of the genes that would allow me to both cook healthy food and keep up with the housework. When I was keeping the house up, we ate takeout every night. Now that I'm cooking, the place is a disaster area.

I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm not superhuman and have decided to focus my attention on getting us eating healthier, as I think that is more important than not having laundry laying around.

I like roast  beef but Jack doesn't (unless it's Beefcarver), but when I found a top sirloin roast at the grocery store, I thought we'd give it a shot. The end result was that Jack went back for seconds!

The recipe I used was from the blog So Tasty So Yummy. Here is the original recipe: Balsamic Roasted Beef. I really like this blog, as the recipes all seem to contain "real food" and not canned or boxed ingredients.

I made a few modifications to suit us (added garlic, because everything is better with garlic.) Here is my version.

2 ½ pounds filet of beef, trimmed and tied. Buy top sirloin filet/roast.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon coarsely cracked black pepper
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Prepare dutch oven by drizzling two tablespoons olive oil in the bottom.

Place the beef in the dutch oven. Combine the red wine, vinegar, and salt in a small bowl. Spread the mixture on the filet and brush it evenly over the top and sides. Sprinkle the cracked pepper evenly all over the meat. Sprinkle the sliced garlic on top of the roast. Cover with lid.

Roast the filet for 30 minutes exactly for medium-rare (25 minutes for rare and 35 minutes for medium). Remove the pan from the oven, leave the lid on, and allow the beef to rest in the pan for 10 minutes. Slice thinly and serve with gravy (use beef broth to make gravy).


Serve with: Cheesy potatoes and green beans with toasted almonds and garlic. 

A couple lessons learned:

 One: my ceramic coated dutch oven may well be toast after this recipe. There are blackened burnt drippings all over the inside. I've yet to find out if I can successfully clean it off without destroying the ceramic coating. I may have to dedicate this one to making roasts and get a second for other meals. 

Two: cut off the well done ends and eat the tender meat from the middle of the roast.

Three:  this is much better with a little gravy. I used beef broth to make the gravy, but next time I think I'll try to salvage some of the drippings from the pan and use those. 

We have a lot of leftovers, as there is no way the two of us could eat an entire filet of beef, but I'm hoping to use them tomorrow in a beef pot pie of some sort. And cheesy potatoes never go to waste around here. 


Friday, November 21, 2014

MMMM 2.3

This is the mandatory MMMM update for this week. For those of you not in "the know" Mega Mini Month Madness is hosted at Justine's Blog this month.

I am sorry to report No New Finishes. Mr. Snowman is almost done, but it hasn't been much of a crafty week so we did not quite get him finished.



Next week is pre-Turkey Day Prep, so I'm not expecting to do much then either. After Turkey Day is Vacation Day. I was thinking about setting a goal - picking one project and trying to power through it. Possibly either a couple ornaments or quilting one of my unfinished quilt tops.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Year In Review

It never seems like I manage to accomplish as much as I think I should have time for. My list of projects never shrinks, regardless of time invested. (Okay, partially my fault. There are just so many interesting projects out there!)

But the reality is, a lot can be accomplished in a year and a lot HAS been accomplished this year. Allow me to recount. (Be advised, this is a picture heavy post.)

I have COMPLETED five quilts this year. Two of these were a couple of my oldest quilt UFOs.





I have made FOUR items of Dagorhir Garb for Jack and me and ONE Halloween Costume for my favorite cousin.  I have made ONE item for loaner garb and THREE tunics to donate to the Dark Tide Refugees.







I have made THREE quilt tops that are ready to be sandwiched and quilted.



This one is all put together, I just don't have a recent picture.
I have completed ONE cross stitch project, stitched SIX ornaments, and advanced several more projects.

Completed!

Before

After
Before

After

New Start

New Start

Completed!

Completed!

Completed!

Completed!

Before

After

Before
After

Before
After (This is actually much further along that shown here)
I made ~17 KoA Belt Flags and FOUR scroll frame covers.





I have dealt with ~6 dental appointments and Jack breaking his thumb. I have gone on two camping vacations, took a nice weekend away at Frankenmuth for my anniversary, and went to Grand Rapids with Jack to catch a hockey game. I spent a couple weekends with my niece, had a few days with my parents when they were in town, and hung out with my friends on *most* Saturdays. I already did half of my Christmas shopping! I gave Cousin Maddie several sewing lessons. I started more quilts than I finished, gave away all my finished quilts to people who needed them, fell in love with several new cross stitch projects, and planted an apple tree.

And I still have six weeks left in the year.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Slow Stitching Sunday & November Project 144 Updates

Today is going to be a full day and I won't have much time for slow stitching. I am hoping, however, to get a little bit done during the Wings game tonight.

I was getting tired of working on the mini's, so I have been making progress on The Castle by Teresa Wentzler. I've spent a little time this week filling in the little gaps and working on the backstitching.

Before

As of 11/15/2015
I'm actually pretty close to a "page finish" on this. The top left quadrant is only missing about 40 stitches and a little backstitching.  As you can see, I did finally manage to get a picture with pretty much accurate colors.

Last night after Dagorhir "practice" i.e. social time since it was too cold to practice, I made the hood for my capelet.


I did stitch it onto the capelet...BUT... the neckline on the capelet was a little too large and so I ripped off the hood and I'll have to gather the neckline a little bit to make it all fit. Here is an approximation of how it will look when done.


 I have some vacation time coming up. Over the remaining six weeks of the year, only two are full weeks of work. (YAY!) I'm looking forward to having some dedicated crafty time. I'd like to catch up on a little housework this week so that I can relax and enjoy my vacation.

Only 11 Days until Turkey Day! Linking up to Slow Stitching Sunday @ Kathy's Quilts