Thursday, June 18, 2015

Recipe - chicken thighs, potato slices, green beans

This recipe was inspired by a parsley red potatoes recipe I had ages ago.

I make it in an electric skillet set about 350F.

Drizzle a bit of olive oil in the bottom of the skillet, not a lot because the chicken will release quite a bit of oil as it cooks.  Place 3 - 7 chicken thighs in the skillet, sprinkle on some seasoned salt, cover and cook for 10 min.

Turn chicken thighs over, sprinkle with seasoned salt, cover and cook for 10 min.

While chicken thighs are cooking, start preparing the potatoes (3 - 5) depending on how many you need and how many will fit in the skillet with the chicken thighs.  Scrub the potatoes under flowing water before starting.  Remove bad spots and slice into 1/4" slices.  I leave the skins on -- your choice.

*At this point, take a look at how much oil is in the skillet, and if you're happy with this amount.  Some to all can be drained off.  Your choice.

After the chicken thighs have cooked for 20 min, push them all to the center of the skillet and lay the potato slices around the edges.  Add half a carton of chicken stock/broth.  Sprinkle with seasoned salt and parsley. Cover and cook for 15 min.

When 15 min is up, add green beans (I use a bag of frozen, but whatever you have will work.).  I have to make sure the beans stay more toward the edges because if I stack them in the center, the lid won't fit properly.  Cover and cook for 15 min.

When 15 min is up, check the potatoes for doneness.  If they're soft when stabbed with a fork, it's time to eat!  If they're not, then set the timer for 15 more minutes.


Additional add-ins -- garlic powder, onions or onion powder, bacon, cheese, california veg

Let me know what you think of this recipe in the comments.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Meal Planning this week

Monday -- Bits of this and that; aka, leftovers

Tuesday -- chicken thighs, potato slices, green beans

Wednesday -- sandwiches and fresh veg

Thursday -- sloppy joes, hash browns, corn, fruit

Friday -- homemade pizza, garlic cheese bread, italian tossed salad

Saturday -- beef w/gravy over toast, peas, fruit

Sunday -- ham, scallopped potatoes, steamed veg

I usually make up a fancy chef's/greek/tossed salad for Kenn's lunch or lunchmeat sandwiches with a yogurt and piece of fruit.  And typically, Isabelle and I have leftovers from supper for lunch the next day.

Breakfast can be cold cereal, oatmeal, eggs, cheese stick, fruit, or just toast with jam or pb.

Snacks are fruit and/or mixed nuts and/or yogurt.

Do you plan your meals ahead? Please leave a comment.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Crochet Fingerless Gloves Pattern

This is how I make the fingerless gloves ,pictured above, for my 5 y/o daughter.

Using a G hook and worsted (I think) weight yarn.

CH 6. Turn.
SC 5 in back loop. CH 1. Turn.
Repeat 19 times.
SLST short ends together to complete the band which will go around the wrist.
Ch 1 and turn band to start rows which will go around the circle and build the glove up to cover the hand.

Row 1 -- SC in the end of each row of SC in the band.  You should end up with 20 or 21 SC. Either is ok. (Honestly, sometimes I end up with as many as 25 and it's ok.) Mark the end of this row by laying a small piece of yarn across your work before beginning the next row.
Row 2 -- Continue on doing another row of SC in each of the SC from the previous row. Mark of row.
Row 3 -- CH 3. DC in each SC from the previous row. SLST to top of CH. Mark end of row.
Row 4 -- CH 1. SC in each DC from previous row. SLST to top of CH. Mark end of row.
Row 5 -- CH 6. Skip 3 st then DC in each SC from previous row. SLST to 3rd CH.
Row 6 -- CH 1. SC 3x in CH space. SC in each DC from previous row. SLST to CH. Mark end of row.
Row 7 -- CH 1. SC in each SC around. SLST to CH. Mark end of row.
Row 8 -- CH 1. SC in each SC around. SLST to CH. Finish off.

Make 2.

Please if you have any comments, questions, or confusion; leave me a comment and I'll be happy to help you. And share a photo when you get yours done!


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Clearing My Head aka Upcoming Craft Projects and UFOs

I promised myself after the clearing out of all the uncompleted projects before the Big Move (we went to Australia for a year) that I wouldn't start anymore new craft projects without having finished the last one.  No more UFOs in my cupboard. Yea, I get a chuckle from that too.

And I am trying, but sometimes I just forget about a project when I get busy and set it aside to deal with life, like this one made of granny squares.

When completed, this will be a table runner, sort of like an over-sized doily, on the dining table.
Edited to add:  Hahaha - when I opened the box to take the above photo, I also found a skein of yellow crochet cotton and the start of a scarf inspired by this pattern!

This is probably the most challenging crochet project I've worked on in a long time. And it has a long, long way to go. Maybe I'll have it done for next spring.
There is also this blanket which I started in Australia.  It hasn't so much been set aside as it just takes a long time to get a blanket done when you're working with a G hook.  As long as I keep working 2 rows each day, I am happy with it being in my project box.

A while back, this wall art photo came across my fb newsfeed which is my inspiration piece for these flowers which will become my own wall art piece for Isabelle's room. A few weeks ago, I came across these beautiful pastel yarns were at the thrift store and and brought them home with me specifically for this project.


My latest project has dropped the crochet hook and moved over to the sewing machine.  It's a nightgown for Isabelle using McCalls 1628 pattern. When I started sewing, the fabric bunched up and the last time that happened, I ended up hand-sewing the project, which I didn't want to do with this one. So I sent out a message to the sewing club, received some good tips back, and am ready to give it a go again. I'll get it done today.

And while I'm at it, I'd like to get Isabelle's other nightgown done today too. Then I can check these nightgowns completely off my list.

Yes, I have a list.  I do. I had to get it out of my head so I could prioritize, because yesterday, after scoring this amazing collection of fabrics (knits, flannels, calicos, solids, and pre-printed for embroidery) at thrift store for $26, I was feeling overwhelmed with ideas!

Obviously, the former owner was a quilter, just going by the amount of calicos, flannels, and solids in this collection. One has a cut slip from 1990 still pinned to it.

Up-Coming Projects --
sewing machine cover made from double-sided, quilted fabric
nightgowns for me
skirts for me
leggings for Isabelle
daily pillowcases
plant hangers
flannel napkins
nylon dish scrubbies

Whew!  It feels so good to get all that out of my head and down on paper where I can see and prioritize it all.

Last night, I finished a pair of mini-fingerless gloves for Isabelle to give to a friend.

And started designing a pattern to make this hook and needle holder. I mean who posts a photo for a project without including the pattern?!

After the stores open this morning, I'll be heading out to buy some yarn for a gift for a friend, which I expect to get done this week.

So, it's time to get to work. We have quite a day planned starting with our pajama morning. We'll have lots of snuggles before eventually, getting dressed for lunch and heading out for an afternoon at the Children's Garden.  Time for spring planting, you know.

How about you?  What projects do you have coming up? I'd love to hear what you're working on, you know, outside all the daily living stuff. It's so important to have your own interests and projects.


Friday, May 29, 2015


So many crafts to do....  so little time.

My latest crafting project, inspired by this bag, is this basket!!  It's quite sturdy and about 9" high and 9" across.  The perfect size for keeping some of my pending sewing patterns handy and contained.

The pattern did call for super bulky weight yarn, but I just doubled up the worsted weight yarns I had on hand while still using the size I hook called for.  And I couldn't be happier!

Making do - we have 2 ceiling fans which both needed longer pull chains and embracing my year of Buying Nothing New, I pulled out my yarns and made the chains!  One I used a crochet thread and the other just a worsted weight.  And for both, I just made a chain until it was long enough, turned and single crocheted back to the other end.  Tadaa!!  Sadly, I'm not able to get a good picture.

And who could get through summer without a marble maze?!  

Made simply with a piece of cardboard, craft sticks, a hot glue gun and this marble maze for inspiration.

What craft projects are you working on?  Please share in the comments!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Frugal Fun

Whether it's the Free children's bowling program, our YMCA membership, Free programs put on by the Parks Dept, or doing arts and crafts; it can all be done with little to no money being spent.

Back in February, a flyer came around on FB promoting a Free bowling for the summer for children, which honestly I thought was too good to be true.  But as I dug into the details (April to September, includes show rental, two games each and every day of the week), I found it was the real deal and signed up Isabelle.  While going through the process, I was given the option of adding one parent for $20 or two parents for $25.  Yes, please and signed up both of us.
We pay shoe rental at $1.75/pr.  Not bad for an hour or so of bowling for all of us.  The icing on the cake came last time we were there, and the manager offered a shoe pass for $15 which would be good all summer.  I haven't yet priced shoes, but I'm guessing they'll be in the $30 - $50 range, and that I've have to buy them new. And I'm not sure I'm ready to make that commitment, but the $15 is totally doable.

We love our YMCA membership because with it, we enjoy all kinds of benefits - unlimited swimming and/or playing in the gym at no extra cost, free babysitting for Isabelle while I use the track for walking, free swimming lessons for Isabelle, and unlimited use of the fitness center. Yes, we pay $58/mo for membership, but we get full value and make use of all the benefits.

Tonight we're heading out to the kick off of the summer programs put on by the County Parks Dept. Our parks people are committed to putting on high quality programs and we look forward to attending every one of them. Tonight's topic is reptiles!

The new ampitheater
Even when I am sewing, there is plenty of room to be frugal.  Yesterday, I picked up 10 new (yes, new) patterns for just $10.  When patterns are only $1 each compared to $15 - $20, yes I will be stocking up - some for Isabelle, some for me, and some for homemaking.  

Fabric is hit and miss.  I'm happy to makeover a sheet or curtain I buy at the thrift store into a new-to-us dress, skirt or whatever, but I also allow fabrics as an exclusion to my Buy Nothing New commitment.  I believe it's important to send the message to the fabric companies that fabric by the bolt is still in demand.

So tell me about your frugal fun below in the comments.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Buy Nothing New

Back in January, a number of my friends were talking about their word for the new year - clean, freedom, and others I don't remember. I was inspired. I thought hey! I'd like to have a word of the year.  :D  And then....   crickets.  There was just no word that surfaced in my mind to be my word of the year, to inspire me, and keep me motivated.  And after a while, I forgot I wanted a word of the year.

Fast forward to April, and I came across the phrase "Buy Nothing New".  Whoooa!!  That's it!  I don't need a word of the year, but a phrase of the year - yes! Buy Nothing New - that is sooo me!!  It speaks to my desire to tread easy on the earth, save money, take my time with new purchases, and shop thrift stores, antiques stores, and auctions.

Of course in April, we did buy new sandals for Isabelle right before walking into the children's resale store and finding barely worn sandals for less than 1/3 the price of new.  doh!   And there was the electric skillet I bought when there was and still is a vintage corning electric skillet with removable stoneware at the antiques store for only $10 more.  (I may still go and buy one since there are two.)

Much like the one I didn't buy.
These two experiences cemented my commitment to Buy Nothing New for the rest of this year.  There are, of course, exceptions - underwear, safety equipment, contact lenses and glasses, some sewing supplies and yarn; and probably a few other things that I haven't thought of yet.  But for the most part, everything a family needs to make a home and thrive is already out there to purchase without buying new at the big box stores or even locally owned businesses. Buying new sends a message to manufacturers that they need to produce more and if we get in the habit of buying used, then less resources (water among others) will to into manufacturing.

Which brings me to yesterday's baking session - banana nut muffins which start out with creaming the butter and sugar.  No problem, right?  Have you ever tried creaming butter and sugar with a fork?  No?  How about a whisk?  It just doesn't go well which results in flat muffins.  The flavor was still good, but they're not light and fluffy (no air).

So I've been kicking around the idea for a while to get an old-fashioned egg beater to use for creaming butter and sugar, and today was the day to head out and see if I could find one at the GoodWill store (nope) or the thrift store down town (nope) before looking at the antiques mall which I knew had a half dozen of them the last time I went for a walk there.
Pickings were slimmer this time as we only found two, one of which was too rusty to be used as anything but a display item.  And then.....  we found an egg beater with its own glass bowl. Oooohhhh  the possiblities.  Granted the price jumped from $12 to $25 when the bowl was added, but who am I to turn down a glass mixing bowl?  So yes, it came home with us.

It will get a thorough cleaning before I start trying it out.  I see creaming butter, beating egg whites, and making butter in its immediate future.

There were also some bags of brightly colored balls of yarn that I picked up to add to my stash.  It's not a lot that I'm adding, and I know I'll use it to crochet flowers for a wall-hanging I'll be making for Isabelle's bedroom.

Please reply in the comments. Thanks!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

It's a new Day

Every day, I get to start anew, and today I am starting my new blog.

I enjoy sharing my stories with you, my readers.  And I like to think of you as my friends.  I'll be sharing some of my frugal, happy, fun, homemade, and simple living adventures with you. And I look forward to the conversations I'll be having with you all.

Introduce yourself in the comments and thanks for coming along for the ride!