Happy New Year!

I managed to get through the holidays without getting sick, even though daughter was VERY sick on Christmas Day and so was my brother whose wife visited us.  I’ve been sort of holding my breath ever since.  Everyone is doing well now, and Jim and I have escaped, so far.  Whew!

Christmas was a little quieter than usual, due to illnesses, but we had brother and his wife over last night and I made a couple of Rachel Ray dishes.  I love Rachel and the food was wonderful, but I don’t see how it is physically possible for anyone to make these two dishes together in 30 minutes.  I’ll admit, I’m kind of slow at peeling, slicing and chopping and I lost some time there, but I couldn’t make even one of these dishes in 45 minutes, (well, maybe the rice one) let alone try to juggle them both.   I prefer doing most of the chopping stuff first, to simplify doing two dishes at once.  I’d rather not burn stuff while I’m slicing and dicing.   And Rachel admits that happens when she’s recording her show—that’s when the assistants come in during the “3-minute commercial breaks” and clean up messes, clear away clutter and replace burnt food.  I don’t have assistants or “spare” food replacements (ahem) so I opt to be more organized and do “mis en place.”

Anyhow, doing it my way it was over one hour and some of that was rather hurried–so a little stressful.  But “Potted Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Onions and Apple” was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and “Cranberry-Walnut Rice” was the perfect accompaniment.  If you can’t find Calvados (I couldn’t yesterday), Laird’s Apple Jack is a fine substitute (and also went well added to my zesty punch, which had an apple juice base.)  I’m sure I will make both of these again; though I will most certainly allow more time for prepping if I’m doing them together. 

I didn’t get photos of my actual handmade gifts before they got wrapped, dang it, but I will do some scanning of the magazine photos that they came from and get on here with that.  When I find handmade things that people actually are excited about, that’s a success! 

Now I have some very practical sewing to get done.  First, stuff like hemming jeans (ack!—hate that) and then I’m sewing some homemade reusable paper towel substitutes.  I found some inexpensive birdseye toweling (like old fashioned diapers) and I’m just going to cut them to the size of regular paper towels and serge around them.  Simple, fast and easy, but I’ll be making lots of them so that I’m not tempted to use the paper ones unless something is really, really nasty and I know I won’t be able to wash it out of my fabric ones.  

I have been very successful in switching from paper napkins to cloth and I’ve been doing that for over two years.  This is just the next step for me. I figure if I have plenty of regular hand towels for just drying very clean hands or the occasional hand washed dish, and then lots of these fabric “paper” towels, I should be able to almost completely eliminate paper goods in my kitchen. (I plan to hide the paper towels under the sink so they are not so easy to grab for and hang the washable ones over the paper towel rod.)  Imagine if everyone did that!  If you’re not handy with a sewing machine, you certainly can buy these things online, but since I am, I am doing this VERY cheaply.  So frugal AND sustainable—yay me!

Let’s all dive in and have a wonderful, frugal and more sustainable 2011.  Just take a step or two in that direction and see how good it feels.

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