Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Best Mistake Ever

{Tasty Thursday | Breakfast Casserole}
Recipes, Tips, and Inspiration from my kitchen to yours.

Today's post is short and sweet. I've been crazy busy lately, catching up from last weekend (picture post coming, I promise!) and trying to get a head for this weekend's exciting and exhausting adventures. We've got our annual Chili and Soup Day coming up this weekend, plus a youth hayride/bonfire, and Reformation Day services and choir practices, and food.... I'm so looking forward to it all, but I'm also ready for a break from all the busyness!

Because of how hectic things have been lately, and because I love continually volunteering for things (sometimes that's not so good for my sanity, oh well) and helping people out, I offered to make breakfast for our Chili/Soup Day workday today. Not really thinking, I didn't realize that I've got assignments due this weekend, plus all the normal readings and homework, Bible study, choir rehearsal, cleaning the apartment, recovering from last weekend, and preparing for this coming weekend.

Enter my obsession with Pinterest. Which leads to the Best Mistake I Ever Made (yet). Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole. (Sorry, I completely forgot to take pictures. But it looked like breakfast casserole, trust me.)

I came across this recipe last winter, probably while procrastinating on homework. (Noticing a trend here with the homework? Ha!) Originally, the plan was to make it when M came to visit, but there weren't enough meals in the visit for it to really happen. So this week, I decided it would be a good idea to try it out.

Why I insist on trying out new recipes when I cook for groups of people may just be one of the great mysteries of the world. But it worked. Everyone said it was delicious. Yay! {I did make a few changes, namely sausage instead of bacon, and oregano and paprika instead of dill. I was positive I had dill, but apparently it's currently hiding somewhere in the far recesses of my cabinet. Also, when I got up at 6, it was already starting to burn around the edges, so I turned it down to WARM. 8 hours was plenty for my crockpot.}

So, if it's so good, why is it the best mistake ever? It sounds so simple. You put all the ingredients together before you go to bed, turn it on LOW for 8-10 hours, go to bed, and wake up to a delicious, hot breakfast. Except for one thing.

When you wake up at 2:30 am, smell the casserole cooking, and realize how hungry you are, it's definitely the best mistake ever.

And that's fine with me. :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mondays, Lutheran Mugs, and Homework, oh my!

After a weekend that was nothing short of amazing, today is a particularly rough case of the Mondays. It's one of those Mondays that makes me want to curl up with soft, squishy knitting projects and tea, not digital libraries and metadata readings and homework assignments.

This is what my Monday looks like so far:

At least there's knitting tonight! That keeps me a little more motivated to get some homework done this afternoon! :)

And yes, that is the awesome Lutheran Mug my husband received for his birthday from brother-the-younger. I borrowed it this afternoon, since he obviously isn't using it right now.

Pictures from this weekend coming soon! For now, I'll leave you with a few photos of my gorgeous view on Saturday. Couldn't have asked for more perfect weather!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Arrow Rock Heritage Festival

Whew! This weekend turned out to be even busier than I imagined, but I also had a ton of fun! On Saturday, my friend Carol and I headed over to Arrow Rock for their annual Heritage Festival. I loved it! It was so nice to get away for a bit from all the homework and normal stresses of life and escape to one of my favorite "best kept secrets." (Well, what I like to think is a secret, anyway.) Arrow Rock is this adorable little town tucked back off the highway, and it's like walking back in time when hard work and honesty still made a man (or woman) successful. The history major in me loves it every time.

I'd never been to their festival before, but I'm so glad we went! Even if we did get chased away by the rain and storms that rolled in earlier than expected... :) I was impressed with how much there was to see and learn! (And yes, we found the yarn. First, and completely by accident. I only came home with one skein, but it's so soft and squishy and pretty...) Enjoy just a few of the highlights from our adventure:

 Broom making!

 A visit with the blacksmith! (Did you know the metal is still about 900ยบ F when it turns from red to black?)

 And of course, the pretty yarns from That'll Do Ranch. :) Mine isn't pictured... I bought it before I thought to take a picture, but it's from the pinkish-orange section.

Natural, undyed yarns. Look at how many won ribbons at the State Fair!

A festival's not complete without some dancing!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Finally! Another Finished Object Post!

Facebook has informed me that today is officially "I LOVE YARN" Day! Whoo hoo! We all know how much I do indeed love yarn, and I know many of you do as well. I'm excited to celebrate a little later today by working on some of the projects I currently have on the needles. But first. It's time for another finished object post!

I've actually finished with this shawl a while ago, but haven't had time to write up this post and get all the pictures together in one spot. This project was a Christmas present from my wonderful husband, who went with me and let me pick it out the kit. I love the way it's turned out, so soft and warm and squishy... :)

Pattern: Classic Elite Yarns Alpaca Sox Lace Shawl Kit (by Romi) [Ironically, I can't find it linked on Rav anywhere... although the pattern really does exist!]
My Project Page: BiblioBleez's Wisteria Lace Shawl
Mods: None

Here it is, pre-blocked. Love the way the colors turned out!
After blocking, the transformation was remarkable! I'd never blocked anything seriously before, and I admit I was scared to try it. I made sure my sink was rinsed out super well... I didn't want any bleach stains to mar my new shawl. :)

Ta-da! :)

Please don't mind my spring-themed wreath. Turning it into my fall wreath is on this week's project list.
Can't wait to wear it this fall and winter!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Comfort Food!

{Tasty Thursday | Beef and Vegetable Soup}
Recipes, Tips, and Inspiration from my kitchen to yours.

I'm really excited to share today's post with everyone! This is by far my favorite fall meal this year, and quite possibly my favorite thing to come out of my crock pot. Now, if I'm being honest with my readers, beef vegetable soup is generally not my favorite soup. It's not really one of the soups I'd even consider eating if given a menu full of soup options. But for some odd reason, I was hungry for a hearty, beefy, healthy soup last weekend when the weather turned .... well, downright chilly .... and friends, I think I found a new comfort food.

So, what started out as an experiment with my 2 quart crock pot for two people turned into a happily full 6 quart crock pot with enough meals for half a week. Perfect. (Isn't that always what seems to happen? I know in my kitchen, it happens more often than I'm willing to admit.)

A perfect meal for a chilly, dreary fall day!
Things I love about this soup: It used up lots of leftover vegetables. It's totally customizable to what you have on hand and like. (Trust me, it'll taste good no matter what combination of vegetables you throw in!) It's no-fuss cooking. Throw everything in the crock pot, turn it on, and go about the rest of your day. Come supper time, voila! :)

Biblio Bleez's Beef and Vegetable Soup

1/2 pound ground beef, browned with onion and drained
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 medium sized carrots, peeled and chopped
2-3 medium sized potatoes, cut into quarters
1 c. green beans, cut (could use 1 can green beans instead)
1 can great northern beans, undrained
1 can corn, mostly drained
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can beef broth
1 can water (to dilute the beef broth)
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 T. oregano
3/4 T. basil
1/2 T. parsley
1 tsp. bay leaf, crushed

Brown ground beef with onion and drain. Set aside. Chop, slice, and dice vegetables to liking, put in crock pot. Pour beef broth over vegetables, plus one can water. Add undrained tomatoes with juice, beans and juice, and corn (with juice if needed). Add ground beef and carefully stir all ingredients to combine. Add spices, stir again to combine, taste and adjust flavors as necessary. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, or HIGH for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally. Soup is ready when vegetables are soft and tender, but leaving it on longer helps the flavors meld even more. Tastes good both the same day and as leftovers.

Serve with warm Italian bread. (But really, any sort of rolls, biscuits, or bread would do.)

This is pretty much a no-fail recipe. All the liquid prevents anything from burning, so there's minimal scraping when the crock pot's empty. It tastes good with the canned vegetables I added, but let's be real. It would be fantastic with all fresh vegetables! And probably healthier, too. :) I was also skeptical about the beans, but I think they added something to the soup without being overly noticeable. And for this type of a soup, I preferred the great northern over pinto or black beans. There's one more bowl left in the fridge.... I know what I'm having for lunch!
I'm especially proud of my clean table, and the fact that it's fall-themed. And my cactus in the window. :)
What are your go-to fall crock pot recipes? Have you tried anything new lately?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Love Letters

Monday. The day everyone simultaneously dreads... I'll be honest. Lately I've found myself enjoying Mondays. Not because it means a new school week, and not because it means another week where I have multiple projects, meetings, and errands every single day. Monday means I've survived another incredibly busy weekend and I can once again restore a little order to our apartment. Seriously, every weekend in October has at least one thing planned both Saturday and Sunday -- it's busy, and although we all know how much I love being busy, it's also exhausting.

So Monday. I can ease into my day, finish up the laundry from the weekend, pick up from the weekend (because although I love my husband, the apartment's always messier by Monday morning), finish up any last-minute discussion questions/homework assignments, and of course, Monday means Knit Night. :)

In the spirit of Mondays as my juxtaposition of weekend and week, I thought I'd take the time to write a few love letters for the awesome things in my life right now.

Dear Husband, although we're both busy, I really appreciate you making supper the other night while I was finishing up an assignment. And for putting up with my random chatter about metadata and digital library things you don't understand or care about as much as me.
Dear wool socks, thanks for keeping my feet warm this weekend now that Fall is here. You know I always love you.
Dear Percy Grainger Pandora Station, lots of love for you. Every time I listen to you, you not only play excellent study/knitting music, but transport me back to my high school and college band days. You're my favorite recent discovery.
Dear Autumn, thanks for arriving. The incredibly hot and dry summer wasn't much fun, and I love all the opportunities you give me to wear sweaters/scarves/hats, not feel guilty for knitting with wool, decorate with adorable pumpkins and owls, and make delicious crock pot meals. Oh, and you're awesome because you bring back the pumpkin spice lattes.
Dear Crock Pot, you know I rely on you more than ever once school starts, and thanks for making supper easy, mess-free, and being the cause of my entire place smelling delicious. I don't know what I'd do without you. P.S. I'm featuring your latest wonder later this week on Tasty Thursday.
Dear Friends who Randomly Text Me, thanks for letting me know you're thinking of me and appreciate me. Your unexpected messages always bring a smile to my face and make the study sessions more bearable.
Dear Knitting Friends, thanks for helping me adjust the first few months we lived here, and for giving me something to look forward to every Monday night. I love our conversations, our creativity, and the support we have for one another.

Just a few photos I took last year on our conference trip to Tan-Tar-A.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Finished Object: Fall Hat

I've never been one to wear many hats, literally. Figuratively? Oh, absolutely. But not literally. This year, I decided to change that, and what better time to start than in the fall? I'm constantly finding lovely, cute, and adorable hat patterns on Ravelry, and this one happened to fall perfectly into my lap. I had some yarn that wanted to become a hat, this pattern has been made countless times with that exact yarn, and the pattern is both cute and functional. Better yet? It's a free pattern. Perfect on all accounts!


Star Crossed Oktoberfest!

My Pattern Page: Star Crossed Oktoberfest
I followed the pattern, although I could have gone down another needle size on the ribbing. It still fits, though, so I'm happy with the result. This was such a fun pattern to knit, relatively quick and painless, and the end result is a dream. It's soft, squishy, and the perfect addition to my fall wardrobe (wool, alpaca, and silk.... yum!). Can't wait for Oktoberfest in a few weeks to show it off even more!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy October!

Happy October, y'all! It's shaping up to be a super busy, but fun month! Every weekend is packed with things to do, both at church and with family. I'm looking forward to it!

See that cute pumpkin decoration? It's one of my newest fall decoration finds. Target dollar bins. Love them. :) I love finding cute little fall-themed items to put around the apartment... so far I've got pumpkins, owls, and a glittery sign that says "Blessings." I've also got the supplies to update my front door wreath, but that'll have to wait for a few more days.

Off to Knit Night! We're starting our knit-a-long tonight -- can't wait to see how they all turn out!