Thursday, September 27, 2012

One of those days.

Today was one of those days. You know, the ones where you don't have motivation to accomplish anything, even though there are things you need to get done? Yeah. That was today. {I'll be honest, I have these days more often than I care to admit, but not often enough that I'm concerned there's something going on...}

For me, this is part of staying home, being a housewife, and taking online classes. It's so easy to stay in my pajamas until the afternoon, piddle around, and before I know it, most of the day is gone and I have little to show for it. Oops. {On the other hand, there are also many perks to this season of life.} Of course, it's second nature to be my own worst enemy and biggest critic, allowing the guilt to creep in all too easily. And so we receive grace and forgiveness from the Lord.

Today, I've needed an extra helping of those two gifts, not to deal with others, but with myself. Grace and forgiveness to realize it's ok to not be as ridiculously busy as the rest of the week. Grace and forgiveness to move past my insecurities and worries and rejoice in the blessings of today. Blessings that come in disguise, and that smack me in the face.

-- A random text from a friend asking my advice on a purchase.
-- Suggestions from friends for a final project topic. {The assignment currently plaguing my mind. Another post for another day.}
-- A brief walk to run some errands that turned into a chance to clear my head.
-- My husband bringing home dinner, with options!, because I hadn't the mental energy to come up with a supper plan of any substance on such a busy night.
-- A quick phone call home during a culinary crisis that led to a cathartic chat with three different family members. {My brother actually wanted to talk to me. What?! Crazy!}
-- Fuzzy polka dot socks, a silly plastic Halloween wine glass, and the anniversary issue of Vogue Knitting.
-- Baking apple oat muffins and enjoying a mug of tea at the end of the day.

So yes, today was one of those days. We all have them. Days of blah and meh. Days of grace and forgiveness. Days of blessings. And the promise of tomorrow.

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22-23

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Early Breakfast Indulgences

{Tasty Thursday | Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts}
Recipes, Tips, and Inspiration from my kitchen to yours.

Every now and then, you just want to indulge in something deliciously sinful for breakfast. I came across these Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts via Pinterest and decided to save them for a special day. Well, my wonderful husband has started getting up super early (I'm talking like, 5 am early) on his day off to play basketball with some other guys in town, and more often than not, I'll get up and make breakfast those mornings. I know he appreciates it, and I'll be honest.... I enjoy the quiet of the early morning. :)

Anyway, next time I make these (and there will be a next time, no doubt about it), I'll actually make sure I have the homestyle biscuits in the fridge, not just the flaky layers kind. These turned out fine, but there was a definite difference. Oh well, live and learn.

Homemade Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts! They may not look the prettiest, but they sure tasted delicious!

Here's what I needed:
  • 1 can of Pillsbury Homestyle biscuits (really, any kind of canned biscuits will do, but try to avoid the flaky layer ones)
  • Vegetable oil to fill about 1/2 inch of your pan
  • Cinnamon & Sugar
  • Melted butter (optional- I omitted it, since the cinnamon sugar sticks just fine to the doughnuts right out of the oil)

Here's what I did:
  1. Cut a hole in the middle of each biscuit. (I used a shot glass, since I didn't have a biscuit cutter on hand.)
  2. Heat oil on medium heat, but not too hot.
  3. Place doughnuts in oil, cooking until golden brown. You'll see little bubbles start to form around the edges in the oil, that's good and means they're cooking right.
  4. Flip doughnuts when sufficiently brown on one side. (I also fried mine on the sides just a little bit since I didn't have quite enough oil left in the pan at the end.)
  5. Remove doughnuts from the oil, place on a paper towel-covered plate, and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on both sides.
  6. ENJOY!
Not bad for an early, early breakfast, eh? What are your favorite breakfast indulgences?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Finished Object: Trekkie Pot Holders

{Trekkie Pot Holders}

Pattern: Star Trek Pot Holders by Ilana MacDonald
Made for: Laura K.
Ravelry Project Page Here

I'm so excited to finally share this project with you! I wanted to wait until my dear friend Laura K. received them in the mail, so as not to spoil her surprise. These were a fun little knit, and turned out warm and ... trekkie. Just the way they should. :)

This was also my first time double knitting, and after finding a few tutorials on youtube and practicing a bit, it was smooth sailing (for the most part. Occasionally I'd forget to you know, follow the pattern because I was laughing too much while watching Big Bang Theory...).

Live Long and Prosper!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up, September Edition

Things have been kind of quiet around here lately. I suppose that's because life got super busy this past week and I found myself with little energy to blog by the end of the day. Somehow, relaxing on the couch watching episodes of How I Met Your Mother was more enticing. But...

This weekend:
How is it that we always seem busier on weekends than possible? Apparently this weekend has been the inauguration of our busier than possible fall weekend schedule. BUT. We had a good time with some friends at the young adult mini-golf outing, and an enjoyable dinner with some other friends who couldn't make it to the outing. Quite a few loads of laundry, catching up on cleaning and dishwashing, and the ever-present homework. Sounds like a pretty typical weekend for the fall, huh? I'm excited about some of the other activities we've got planned, both with others and by ourselves. Oktoberfest, Renaissance Fair, a fellowship breakfast and luncheon with some other ladies from town, dinner with friends, a few craft/heritage festivals, and hopefully apple picking! I think we'll get around to relaxing sometime in November... or maybe after Christmas.

Speaking of which, by Christmas I will be officially graduated, and (as of right now) completely free to spend my days however I wish. That will, of course, include job hunting, but in the mean time... I'm planning on relaxing and getting some projects finished up as well!

In the Kitchen:
I made this Chicken Salsa Chili and probably shouldn't have added quite so many jalapenos! It sure was spicy... In my defense, I didn't have the green chiles I thought were in my cabinet, so ... we decided to substitute jalapenos instead. They provided some good flavor, and definitely helped clear out some sinuses.

On the Needles:
I've got some new projects going, and have been working on small (think, one evening) projects lately, which is great for feeling productive! Currently plowing through a scarf I plan on donating to the Country Store held in conjunction with our church's chili and soup supper. I hope whoever goes home with it enjoys wearing it as much as I've enjoyed knitting it. (That, and I'm really loving the fall colors of the scarf -- yellows, oranges, purples, and brown.)

This Coming Week:
Look forward to some delicious breakfast ideas on Tasty Thursday. And I've got some finished object posts to share with you all, too!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up

Classes have been back in session for a week, and it's been interesting getting back into the swing of things. The start of every semester always takes a while for me to get my "library brain" back and start thinking and processing like a grad student again. Although things are easier now than they were at the beginning of last week, there are still times when I find myself needing to take a break from the computer and all this reading and discussing.

One pleasant surprise is discovering just how much I've learned through this program. Two and a half years is a long time to take online classes (especially when you're usually a full-time student), and there are days when I feel as though I haven't really learned as much as I should by this point... such is the nature of the grad student, I suppose. This week in my Digital Libraries class, we've discussed issues ranging from participatory digital libraries (and archives) to copyright issues to digitization and preservation concerns. Guess who's excited that she's already taken classes relating to these three exact things and actually feels like she has something to contribute to the conversation outside of the required readings?! This girl!

Around Town this Weekend:
This weekend, D and I spent a delightful afternoon at the Cole Camp Fair. We went last year, but were so new to the area that it was all a blur. This year, we enjoyed walking around, taking in the sites, shopping at some of the cute boutiques (and found a few items to add to my fall decoration collection), wine tasting, and of course eating one of the best home cooked meals I've ever eaten at the Maple Street Cafe!

We've got tons of plans for the upcoming weekends, and I can't wait to get out and explore more of the beautiful country! Autumn is definitely my favorite season... the sites, smells, colors, and produce are some of the best. :) I'll try get a few pictures posted soon of our adventures and travels...

In the Kitchen:
Tonight I made some honey mustard glazed chicken with a crunchy coating (so yummy!), green bean casserole, and leftover pretzel rolls. I think it's about time to have an ice cream sundae to top off the evening! Hopefully I'll have a chance to get some fresh picked apples soon. I've got a recipe for crock pot applesauce I want to try, and apple pie sounds really good right about now. You know, with some ice cream on the side... Hungry yet? :)

On the Needles:
I've got a few projects I'm finishing up, and already have about 5 more in the queue, both gifts and selfish knitting. (Finished object posts coming in the near future!) Of course, ideally they'll all be completed this fall, but my knitting group is starting up a Baby Surprise Jacket knit-a-long, and I'm excited for that as well! We're starting October 1, so I'll try keep you all updated with the progress. Good thing I've only got two classes this semester so I'll have more time to knit.... wait. That's not how it works, is it? (Because guess who's also involved with three new things at church starting this fall? Yay for being busy!)

This Coming Week:
Goals for this week include: finishing a knitting project and getting it in the mail; working on my swap package for a little swap I joined on Rav; getting all my homework completed earlier in the week; getting my new power cord (I know! It's been two weeks now.... so much for 1-2 days, eh?) so I can finally use my computer again. Most of these should be pretty reasonable. I'll let you guess which one is out of my control. ;)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tasty Thursday

{Tasty Thursday | Mexican Hot Dish}
Recipes, Tips, and Inspiration from my kitchen to yours.

Growing up, it was a common occurrence to have hot dish on the table for supper, especially in the fall and winter. Now that it's September, the weather is beginning to cool off, nights are getting longer, and you get that curl-up-on-the-couch-with-hot-tea feeling (which, by the way, I love). And for me (and my mom as well), there's also this inner voice telling us it's once again the Season of the Hot Dish.

This dish is really quite simple. I concocted it based on ingredients I had on hand, and you can too! It's very easy to customize this dish based on your mood, the contents of your pantry, or your family's personal preferences.

1 pound ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can beans of your choice (I used pinto)
1 can corn
Lime tortilla chips
Salsa to taste (I had some Tastefully Simple Spicy Harvest Salsa on hand that was wonderful!)
Tomatoes (fresh or canned) - I used fresh
Rice (optional)

First, I browned the meat, drained it, and added the taco seasoning with a little bit of water, according to package directions.
While the meat was finishing, I crushed up some lime tortilla chips and arranged them on the bottom of the dish to make a crust.
Next, I mixed the meat, beans, corn, salsa, and rice (just a bit that was leftover from another meal) together and spooned it on top of the crushed up chips. I added some chopped up tomatoes and sprinkled cheese on top.
Now, you have two options. You can either plan ahead unlike me, and warm this in the oven at 350 until the hot dish is warmed through and cheese is melted. Or, like me who didn't plan ahead and threw this together at the last minute, you can put it in microwave and heat on high for 5 minutes until warmed through and cheese is melted. You choice. Both equally delicious. And simple.

This makes a fairly large sized hot dish. If you're like me and cooking for two people, but don't mind eating leftovers, you can go ahead and make the entire thing. If you despise leftovers, get bored, or don't mind random half-full cans of corn and beans in the fridge, you may consider cutting the recipe in half. Or make a full batch and share with a neighbor or friend. Or freeze half.... you get the idea.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

it's the final countdown!

Tell me.... it's stuck in your head now, too? :)

Today is my LAST first day of school for a very looooong time! Hard to believe I started graduate school two and a half years ago... soon I'll be a Master! Yippee! I'm a mixture of excited and sad though... the first day of school has been one of my favorite days of the year for a very long time. And as much as I'm sad that this is the end of an era, I'm also getting more excited each day for what adventures lie ahead! (Remind me of this on days when I'm frustrated and hurt by the job situation, ok?)

As it seems to be every year, there are quite a few knitters in my classes. This of course makes me ridiculously happy and nerdy, but I don't like being the attention-grabbing one who's all "Have you heard of Ravelry?!" I find something awkward about having these personal side conversations on our discussion forums for class, even if it is a rather informal, get-to-know-our-fellow-classmates thread. Maybe I should just forge ahead and get more people on board. :)

I'm only taking two classes this semester, but they'll be busy enough! So far they both look manageable, and combine both the theoretical and practical sides of their respective topics. I've gotten to the point in my career where I would rather do final applied projects than write research papers -- HA! I never thought the day would come when I felt that way. Maybe there's no longer as much of the historian in me as I thought.

Anyway, I ramble. D has extra meetings tonight and I'm at home eating some delicious leftover fettuccine, taking a break before plowing through some of my textbooks tonight. So far, so good. Feeling pretty on top of things and not overwhelmed. This is so unusual... I like it! :)