Friday, April 29, 2011

Knitting Projects Breed Like Bunnies

This last week, sadly, I decided to take a break from knitting.  Was I tired of it?  Absolutely not!  However, my hands were achy and I definitely was tired of THIS:

Seriously.  I don't know how this happened.  I promise, there was a point when I had a coffee table and TWO end tables...but lately, one of my end tables has disappeared from view.  The reason?

So, I decided to be proactive about the situation.  I wanted something I could store my current knitting stuff in, that would look nice under the end table AND that had room for future addition and organization.
So, I went to Hobby Lobby and bought THIS!

My first knitting box!  It's leather (probably not real lol) which means that, unlike wicker, it won't catch and snag yarn.  It also matches the "leather" accents on the coffee and end tables, so it doesn't look horrible tucked beneath the end table that it's contents once owned.  I'm happy to report that even the coffee table is happy now, and actually functions as a coffee table again!

So, with that done and my wrists rested, I got back to knitting and planning out future projects!
I've spent several hours today on browsing patterns that I think I can actually attempt at my current level.  Well, I've done that and watched anime lol.  So, here's what I'm working on now, and what I will be working on soon!

I'm making Bryanne-Michelle a pretty scarf for her birthday!  Which is in December lol.  So it's either a very late or very early birthday present.  That or I'll call it an "unbirthday" present!  Or maybe a half-birthday present...
Anyway, regardless of what it's called, I'm making her scarf out of malabrigo worsted.  They call the color "tuareg"...I call it pretty turqouise/teally blue!  I'm using my 10.5 needles and knitting in a 4k4p (4 knit, 4 perl) rib pattern.  And I've made a lot of progress on it too!

I was using my Vintage Forrest Green yarn to make a sampler of my newly-learned stitches.

I've completed two pattern repetitions, and I think I'll do one more, but after that, I'll frog it.  Which means rip it all back out lol.  Why?  Well, I'm not really too keen on the sampler pattern as a scarf AND I found a really beautiful pattern for fingerless gloves (aka reading gloves) by CreativeYarn!  Since my hands get so cold (stupid circulation) it would be nice to have a pair to slip on and still have the use of my fingers!

I picked this pattern because it's worked (or knitted) flat, and then the seams are "sewn" together later.  Once I learn to knit in the round, there's another pattern I found that I like a lot too!  But that's for another day.

A week or so ago I bought that awesome gigantic ball o' yarn!

It's called Alp Oriental by Feza Yarns and it has so many colors and textures in it...I'm really excited to knit with it!  The primary color pallet of my yarn ball is blues and grays, but there are also some magenta strands and green strands and a yellowish one or two and....well, you get the picture.  LOTS OF COLORS!

I've been waiting on the writing of a pattern for a triangular shawl by one of the ladies who also visits Park Avenue Yarns.  However, I've found one that's also free AND only uses the one ball of yarn AND is available now that creates a rounded shawl/wrap.  I like the way it looks, so I think I'm going to go ahead and make that!  After all, there's lots of other yarns to make long lacy shawls with--this one is just cute and thick!

I found the COOLEST yarn at Park Avenue Yarns the other day!  It's called Banana Silk yarn, and they have it in the perfect shade of burgundy--which is MAROON!!!  WHOOP!!!  No pictures yet...because I haven't bought any yet!  But I promise pics will come as soon as I do purchase this yarn--because it's beautiful!  I found a really nice pattern using this yarn and 15 needles...which I conveniently own for the aforementioned shawl!  Perfect!

I'm so glad that I love my new project!  Now, I'm going to finish this episode of Blood+, make dinner, and knit some more!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Creamy Lime Pie

Even though I've been using Weight Watchers recipes for the past four months, I'm still regularly surprised at how YUMMY some of their recipes turn out!  My recent find is their recipe for a Creamy Lemon Pie...which I turned into a Creamy Lime Pie, to suite my husband's preference.

6 whole reduced-fat cinnamon graham crackers
2 Tbsp butter
11 oz fat-free sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh lime (or lemon) juice
2 limes (or lemons) for making 1 Tbsp lime (or lemon) zest

The very first step is to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Next, put the graham crackers into a ziplock bag and smash/crush them into fine crumbs with a rolling pan.  Or at least, this is the method I used--you could also grind the crackers into fine crumbs with a food processor.  Mine was dirty so I went with the more physical option lol.

Next, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a small bowl.  Add the fine crumbs to the butter and mix the two together with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened by the butter.  Next, spray a 9" pie plate with Pam and press the crumbs evenly into the pie pan to form a crust.

Pop the pie plate into the refrigerator while you make the filling--this way the crust has an opportunity to actually set a little bit.  To make the filling, assemble all of the ingredients--the sweetened condensed milk, eggs, lime juice and limes.

In a medium bowl, mix the condensed milk and eggs together until the mixture is smooth.  This actually takes a bit of strength and time to do--silly stubborn mixing ingredients!
Next, grate the limes until you have enough zest for one tablespoon.  Make sure to use the side of the grater with medium holes.  The little bitty holes seem like a good idea, but they don't give you a nice zest and they're a pain in the butt to clean.  Once you have that, mix the zest and lime juice into the milk-and-eggs mixture, stirring until everything has been thoroughly combined.

Now, pull the pie plate out of the fridge and CAREFULLY pour the mixture into the pie crust.  I emphasize carefully because, well, I wasn't careful and had a bit of a mess to clean up.

Finally, pop the pie into the oven for 20 minutes.  The recipe called for 15 minutes of baking, but my pie didn't set up enough, so I let it bake for another 5 minutes beyond that.  Then it was perfect!  I didn't get a picture of the finished product--my silly camera died.  But it was slightly browned on top and barely jiggly when I shook it.  Finally, Let the pie cool completely and then place it in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.  The pie has its best taste and consistency when served chilled.  Yumyumyumyum.  It's a great summertime pie, that's for sure!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

  So, far this week has been a pretty good one.  There were a couple of bumps in the road, so to speak, but for the most part things have been trucking along at their normal pace.  Enough vague cliches in that for you?   Lol.  Anyway, on to what I'm loving this Wednesday!  If you want to share what you're loving this Wednesday, or see what everyone else is loving, link up here!
1)  I'm loving Practical Magic!  Great movie, and on streaming on NetFlix!  I haven't seen it in years, so today--when I really need to take it easy--it's the perfect entertainment.
2)  I'm loving my blooming flowers.  Even the pineapple guava bushes are blooming!

3)  I'm loving Tuesday night Sit&Knit at Park Avenue.  It gets me out of the house, around people that I enjoy hanging out with, and helps me stay sane.  And last night, I really needed a dose of that type of sanity!

4)  I'm loving watching anime again.  Right now I'm watching Shikabame Hime and Bryan and I are watching Naruto and Trigun.  So much fun!

5)  I'm loving that I made it back to water aerobics yesterday and that, if I rest today, I'll make it back tomorrow!  Finally, my body's letting me go regularly again!

6)  I'm loving my hubby.  Even when he's stressed out and pisses me off, he's still one of the sweetest guys ever!  For example, even though he doesn't like water rides or parks at all, he still spent the money and bought two tickets to Splashtown this Sunday!  All because I really want to go.  I love him.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Menu Planning Monday!

I completely skipped menu planning last week, as well as most of my other planned posts.
I guess when I've got a lot on my mind, that tends to happen lol.  Time to get back in the swing of posting!  For starters, this weekend was a ton of fun!  Like a complete dummy, I brought my camera to everything we did...and totally forgot to take pictures.  So, it will have to be a purely verbal sum-up.

Thursday we had our own family Muster with Bryan's Papa and Mimi, his cousin Jimmy, his Uncle David, and cousins Brooke (who goes to A&M in the fall...WHOOP!) and Claire.  It was a wonderful time, chatting with everyone, swapping stories from our respective days at A&M.  Saturday, we had Bouncer and Alicia, Ethan and Julie and Lindsay and Ben over for a crawfish boil!  It was a ton of fun--Bryan did a great job with the crawfish and we all laughed and hung out til the evening.  Sunday was Easter.  We actually overslept and didn't make it to church (ooops) but we did have a wonderful Sunday brunch, just the two of us.  Then we trekked up to Spring for Dad's side of the family's reunion and spent the day with my parents, grandparents, Aunt Stacey and Uncle Joey and Cody and Shelby, plus the extended family.  Bryan played in the softball game and got some awesome hits!  Then we went out to eat with mom and dad, and went to the house in Spring to play with the pups and visit for awhile.
All in all, it was a wonderful weekend!

And now starts the new week!  Today has been productive so far.  The house is clean, except for Bryan's crawfish pot and ice chest.  The laundry is in the process of being done and I changed up a few of my decorative touches.  Later I'm going to run to Hobby Lobby for a bit--I need to get out of the house for awhile.  This week should be much quieter than last week (I hope) until next Sunday, when we're going on a NASA trip to SplashTown!  I'll definitely have to remember to take AND USE my camera then!

Now, on to the food!  I'm still using a lot of Weight Watcher recipes, and most of them are scrumptious!  However, I am NOT weight in today.  This weekend was my first holiday since joining up with WW and let's just say I belly flopped lol.  Beer and margaritas and crawfish and two rounds of Mexican food PLUS the Sunday brunch...yeah, I have a lot to make up for this week before I weigh in again!  On that note, here's the menu plan for this week!

Breakfast:  some combination of egg, toast, fruit and/or yogurt with cottage cheese with milk
Lunch:  turkey and cheese sandwich for me, leftovers or buying for Bryan
MONDAY: Leftover Beef and Ricotta Lasagna
TUESDAY: Possibly Lasagna again...I made a lot and it needs to be eaten lol.
FRIDAY:  Pita Pizzas!
SATURDAY:  Gan Gan's Meatloaf
SUNDAY: SPLASHTOWN DAY!  We'll probably just eat our fill of BBQ before coming home for the evening lol.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Softly Call The Muster

Aggie Muster is one of the most important, solemn and sacred traditions at Texas A&M.  Every year on April 21st, Aggies gather together to remember their days at A&M, but more importantly, to remember those Aggies who are no longer with us.  The main ceremony is held in College Station, but “if there is an A&M man in one hundred miles of you, you are expected to get together, eat a little, and live over the days you spent at the A&M College of Texas.”
Here's a link to the names in this year's Roll Call for the Absent:

Roll Call for the Absent

In many lands and climes this April day
Proud sons of Texas A&M unite.
Our loyalty to country, school, we pray,
and seal our pact with bond of common might.

We live again those happy days of yore
on campus, field, in classroom, dorm, at drill
Fond memory brings a sigh -- but nothing more;
Now we are men and life’s a greater thrill,

On Corregidor    *sixty-nine    years ago today
A band of gallant Aggies, led by Moore,
Held simple rites which led to us doth all to say:
The spirit shall prevail through cannon roar.

Before we part and go upon our way,
We pause to honor those we knew so well;
The old familiar faces we miss so much today
Left cherished recollections that time cannot dispel.

Softly call the Muster,
Let comrade answer, “Here!”
Their spirits hover ‘round us
As if to bring us cheer!

Mark them ‘present’ in our hearts.
We’ll meet some other day
There is no death, but life etern
For our old friends such as they!

by Dr. John Ashton ‘06

* The third stanza is original to the poem and had been deleted over the years. It was intended that each year, the number of years since Corregidor would be inserted.

On My Mind

I once thought that the more I had on my mind, the more I would blog.
That the busier my life became, the more topics I would cover in my posts.
This last week, I've had a lot on my mind and have been very busy--and yet, I haven't posted once.

So, apparently my initial theory was incorrect.  In actuality, the busier my mind and my life become, the less I blog.  Or maybe it just depends on what is preoccupying my mind.
After all, I don't necessarily share everything that's going on with me here, on an online blog.

This week was a long one for me mentally.  Why?  Well, I was five days late.  
Yes, I mean THAT kind of late.
For those who might still be confused, I'm talking about my period.  
As y'all might remember, Bryan and I have stopped trying to prevent a baby--in other words, we're hoping to get pregnant.  Now, this is only our second month trying, and I'm not entirely sure my system has regulated itself yet, so it's really no surprise that we're not expecting yet.
But for some reason, I got my hopes up this month.  Chalk it up to being a silly girl.
So, with each day that passed this week, I kept wondering "Am I?  Am I not?" to the point where I didn't care which way the cards fell, I just wanted a definitive answer.  That particular internal struggle was pretty consuming and not something that I wanted to lay out in written form.  So instead of writing, I filled my week up with productivity--gardening, knitting, cooking, painting.  At least I wasn't entirely in my own head!

And you know, it's been a wonderful week!  Sure, I'm a bit disappointed that I'm not pregnant, but there are several reasons to be glad that I'm not yet:
1) Wine.  Beer.  Vodka.  Whiskey.  ALCOHOL.  I want a drink and now that my period has started, I can have one!  I'm really not looking forward to the Prohibition Era that is pregnancy.

2) Weight Watchers continues.  I have a specific goal that I would like to meet before I find out I'm pregnant.  Though I'm still very close, my last weigh in was a bit of a set back.  I have to quit WW as soon as I find out I'm pregnant--and now I still have time to meet my goal!

3) Painting.  I really would like, as unrealistic of a goal as this may turn out to be, to finish repainting the entire downstairs before we find out I'm pregnant.  We've gotten a lot done, but there's so much left to do!

4) Having a kid will be wonderful, but I want to enjoy every moment of it just being Bryan and me.  I will be ecstatic when we are pregnant, but I'm also glad to have a bit more time with it being just the two of us.

On top of all of that, we still have until July before I revisit the fertility drugs question with my doctors.  At that point, as my OBG put it, we're most likely looking at "at least twins"!  So, plenty of time before that to just have one baby.  And if we do end up with more than one, that would be wonderful too.  So either way, plenty of time and plenty to look forward to!

And just so there will be pictures--my plants are blooming and they're beautiful!
 My magnolia tree!

 My fortnight lilies!

 My bottle-brush bushes!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

It's been such a great week!  Lots of fun, friends and family!
That said, I'm exhausted lol!  Totally worth it, but today (and maybe tomorrow) are necessary kick back and relax days.  Dishes, laundry and dinners will get done (and maybe a pie!) but that's probably going to be about it.  Anyway, on to what I'm loving this Wednesday!  If you want to share what you're loving this Wednesday, or see what everyone else is loving, link up here!

1) I am LOVING that one of my good friends from all the way back in high school married her match this past weekend!  Kim and Clay are such an amazing match, and I am so happy for them!
2) I am LOVING that I got to see Victoria at the wedding and give her her gold scarf birthday present!  On that note, I'm loving that our husbands went with us too and the four of us got to hang out!

3) I am LOVING the weather today!  It is absolutely gorgeous outside!

4) I am LOVING that my herb garden is starting to germinate!  Hopefully I won't kill my new baby plants!

5) I am LOVING the picket fence border that Bryan is installing in the back yard!  Not only will it keep the pups from undoing all that back-breaking mulch work that he did, but it also looks fantastic!

6)  I am LOVING my mom!  She went with me to College Station yesterday to help me finish picking out photos for Bryan and my wedding album!

7) I am LOVING that I'm done picking out photos for our wedding album!  In a few weeks, Emily will send me the proofs, and then we will submit the order!  I'll actually have my wedding album by the end of the summer, at the absolute latest!  It only took me THREE YEARS lol.

8) I am LOVING a new anime series I have found--Vampire Knight!  Very shoujo (meaning girlie) but since I'm a girl, that's fine ;-).  The characters and plot are very well done, and the artwork is beautiful!

9) I am LOVING that Alicia and I are signed up for the Knit II class this Sunday at Park Avenue Yarns!  Hooray for getting to learn new stitches and how to read patterns!  And how to follow patterns lol.

10) As always, I'm loving my wonderful husband!  He's so sweet to me, and I loved getting to have a mini-road trip with him this past weekend, on which he did all the driving because I was really tired.  And I love that he was patient about taking a ton of pictures with me at the wedding lol.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Menu Planning Monday!

This weekend was awesome!
There will be a post tomorrow all about it, I promise, but I'm a little short on time today.
So, without all the usual ado, here's our menu plan this week!

Breakfast:  some combination of egg, toast, fruit and/or yogurt with cottage cheese with milk
Lunch:  turkey and cheese sandwich for me, leftovers or buying for Bryan
MONDAY: Coconut Turkey Fingers with Peach Sauce
TUESDAY:  Gan Gan's Meatloaf
WEDNESDAY:  Oven-Fried Chicken with Buttermilk Brine
THURSDAY:  Coriander-Mint Lamb Chops
FRIDAY:  Pita Pizzas!
SATURDAY:  Left-overs or out to eat
SUNDAY:  Beef and Ricotta Lasagna

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pecan-Crusted Chicken

One of the wonderful things about WeightWatchers is all of the recipes for chicken!  I LOVE chicken, but sometimes its hard to keep it from getting dull.  This week, I once again turned to my WeightWatchers 5 Ingredient Cookbook for a chicken recipe!  Admittedly, I've made this before and made it this week because the hubby has been asking for it--in my book, that makes it an unqualified success!  I did tweak the recipe a bit, using 1/2 cup of chopped pecans instead of 1/4 cup--it ended up with MUCH better pecan coverage!
Anyway, without further ado, here's my adjusted recipe for Pecan-Crusted Chicken!

Chicken Breasts (boneless, skinless)
3/4 cup lowfat Buttermilk
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1/3 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

The first step is to go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Next, trim off all the fat/icky parts of the chicken breasts.  As always, I trim one of the breasts down to 4 ounces--one serving!

Once the chicken in trimmed, pour about half of the 3/4 cup buttermilk into a large bowl that has a lid.  Place the chicken breasts into the buttermilk and then pour the remaining buttermilk over the chicken breasts.  Move the meat around so that most of it is covered with buttermilk.

Then put the lid on and stick the bowl in the fridge.  The directions say to leave it in there for 20 minutes, which I did this time, but last time I only left it in for 10 minutes, and it turned out just fine.
Next, measure out the 1/2 cup of chopped pecans, 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs, and 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning.  Pour all of it into a small mixing bowl and mix it together well.

Now, that took me all of about 5 minutes.  Which left another 15 minutes to wait on the chicken.  So, I cleaned the kitchen, watched a bit of TV, and fed the puppies...who had been watching me avidly, waiting for chicken to drop lol.

Towards the end of the 20 minutes, spread a piece of wax paper on the counter.  Pour the dry ingredients on the wax paper and spread them out evenly.  

Also, get out a medium baking dish and spray it with PAM.  Once that's done, and the 20 minutes are up, take the chicken out of the fridge and set up your assembly line:  chicken bowl, dry mix, baking dish.

Take one breast at a time out of the buttermilk and hold it above the bowl to let most of the excess drip off.  With that done, place the chicken breast on top of the dry mixture and press down so that the breading and pecans stick firmly to the meat.  Switch sides and again press down firmly.  Once the chicken breast is thoroughly coated in dry mix and pecans, place it in the baking dish.  Repeat this with each breast.
Once that's done, pop the baking dish in the oven for 45 minutes.  After the chicken is finished cooking it should be white all the way through, but still moist.  I served mine with SteamFresh broccoli in cheese sauce and mixed veggies.  Once again, this was a big success with the hubby, and I have to say I sure thought it was yummy too!
I hope y'all enjoy it as well!


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