I’m moving!

No, not me, just my blog. I have found a Weebly site where I can blog AND sell, which I may want to do in the future, so off I go into new territory. I think this will be my last post here, so if you’d like to check out my new blog, it’s chickadeeworkshop.weebly.com (Sorry, the auto link feature is not working)

There isn’t much to see yet, just some background designs, a home page and two blog posts. You have to start somewhere. At some point in the future, you may be able to buy my creations online through the new site. Fingers crossed for that (maybe next spring.)

Thanks to WordPress for being a great blog hosting site! I have no complaints, and if I didn’t plan to sell my creations online I’d just stay right here. I’m not planning on deleting this WordPress blog. You should be able to check on these old posts for quite awhile, if you so desire.

Whew!

SPOILER ALERT!!!   If you haven’t watched last night’s episode of Project Runway yet (Episode 12) please skip this post.  If you have (or you don’t care)  scroll down……

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simply because I’m not on Facebook anymore, I’m going to have to say this here:   I was totally holding my breath last night, hoping against hope that Ken wouldn’t make a gorgeous dress that would make the judges have to keep him.  And I let out a big, loud “YES!”  to my empty living room when they said he was going home.  I don’t care how good he is, he doesn’t deserve to win.

I have no idea what’s in the contracts for these contestants, but there certainly should be something about this kind of behavior (Alessandro, too!) getting you disqualified from the competition.  People competing in a true contest of abilities shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of crap.   I don’t handle that kind of hate and anger being spewed at me and if I were competing, I wouldn’t be able to focus on my own project.  I’d be curled up in a corner somewhere, crying like someone hit me.  It’s an unfair thing to do to the contestants to expect them to continue, week after week, with that kind of vitriol all around.  So when I say, “Whew!”  I’m saying it for myself (cause now I can actually enjoy the designing competition for the remainder of the episodes) and for the other contestants, because it seems like it will be more just.  

I just had to say it 🙂

One thing and another, and maybe one more.

I have still not finished the reorganization of my sewing space, but progress has been made. I do have both of my large cabinets in place and I’m still loading them up and adjusting things on shelves. The rest of the room is gradually getting better. I didn’t get the second cabinet painted, but I needed it desperately and decided to decoupage it later. I can do that while it’s loaded and in place and not have to move it.

I did make a new tablecloth for my dining room, using some fabric that my son gave me that goes perfectly.
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And then…and THEN (she says with emphasis)…I finally began some crafting for next year’s shows. I have painted many, many little teensy faces on wooden beads, which is the beginning of some Wee Folk of Felt. I am loaded up with pipe cleaners, faux flower petals and good quality wool felt and embroidery floss to make the wee people and fairies. I found I’m not so excellent at painting the beads that are smaller than one inch, and most especially, the ones that are one half inch. I think the one-inch ones turned out well, though, so unless I get a lot better at the smallest ones, I’ll stick to the larger people and fairies in the future.

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I do think these look better in person than they appear in these photos….maybe it’s my camera? Or the photographer who knows nothing about photography??

I will soon be painting some clothespins in preparation for clothespin dolls. I want to have the painting on these things mostly done before my first camper trip of the season, so I won’t have to be painting while I’m there. I’d rather just have faces done and get to work on clothing and hair, and in the case of the Wee Folk, embroidery floss wrapping.

I tried my hand at polymer clay, making some simple buttons. My inexpensive thrift store toaster oven scorched them, despite my best efforts at controlling the temp and even using an oven thermometer. I also decided that, without purchasing a $70 pasta roller, this type of clay work is too hard on my arthritic hands. The purchase of said roller would be a risky one when I don’t know if these things would sell or if I can even get the temp control problem fixed, so I decided to let that particular craft idea go. I hadn’t spent a lot of money on it up to this point, so I don’t feel too badly about cutting my losses now. Live and learn….if you don’t try, how will you know if you can do something?

Just tonight I have been working on woodburning some bamboo kitchen spoons for gifts. This. Is. Fun. Simple, rustic, free-form, design-as-I-go. Can’t say who these will be for, but I think they will be well received. I think I’ll buy another woodburning tip or two, so I can add some more designs. It’s one of those times when less is NOT more, MORE is more! If I wanted less, I’d just leave them plain in the first place 🙂

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These are not finished; I do plan to add more designs to them, but it gives an idea of what I’m talking about.

Oh! And my birthday present this year is an American Girl doll, Marie Grace. She’s of the historical time period of New Orleans 1863 and comes in the appropriate clothing and shoes. I’ve always wanted an A.G. doll for my collection, but never wanted to spend the $100+ for one. However, since I plan to make and sell A.G. clothing, then not only do I NEED at least one doll for fitting purposes, but the cost will be deductible when it’s time to pay taxes on my earnings. Win-win, right?

Getting to the point of counting down the weeks till my retirement….at this time a little over 38 weeks. It’s kind of surreal and reminds me of my senior year of high school. I’ll be happy to be putting 8-5 days behind me and dealing with the public in the way that I currently do, but jumping off into the future and leaving behind all that’s familiar does cause some anxiety, too. So, I’m excited (a lot!) and apprehensive (a little.) Doing my best to be prepared financially and not have any unpleasant and expensive surprises, of course.

Bread baking

I haven’t made homemade yeast bread in many years.  Time is one reason, but really, if I make it, I eat it, and heaven knows I don’t need the carbs….or the butter that I will undoubtedly slather on it. I was always good at making it, from my very first loaf, and the first month I learned how to do it I gained 5 lbs.  So there you have it.

I baked bread frequently, though, when I had a house full of kids.  It was an inexpensive way to dress up whatever cheap dinner was being made for 5 or more people.  I made plain breads, fancy breads, rolls, quick breads, muffins, etc.  I was a stay-at-home mom and it was my pleasure to do this.

I baked my first one in many years last week as a gift and since the recipe made two loaves, of course WE ate the 2nd loaf.  I could do no less after poor Jim had smelled it baking, right?  And then I promised him I’d make us our own batch soon, so today was the day.

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Can you smell it?  Mmmmmmmmm……

Christmas was a fine time and now I have some organizing to do before beginning some projects.  I am truly hoping 2013 is my last year of being employed.  My plan is to retire at the start of 2014 and get on with the things I like to do and want to do.  Hope the economy lets me do that!

Happy New Year!

Chicken Enchiladas

We had rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and I took the leftovers off the bone and saved them for this recipe I found on Pinterest: http://joyful-mommas-kitchen.blogspot.com/2011/09/white-chicken-enchiladas.html

It was a big hit with both of us and I would happily add only two changes for you to try.  I added some sliced, caramelized onions to the chicken/cheese mixture, but I would add more.  I used a medium onion and I think a VERY large one would be better.  Also, the recipe calls for one very small can of chopped green chilis and at least another half-can would be an improvement.  Or maybe just a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes.  I’m not one who likes things very spicy-hot, but even I think this recipe is on the bland side and my timid palate would like more heat.  With those caveats, I give you the finished product.

We had the leftovers with oven-roasted, fresh, local asparagus tonight.  What a fantastic combination!  Oven roasting is my favorite preparation of asparagus–easy and amazingly good.  I usually just use olive oil, kosher or sea salt, and fresh ground pepper before roasting, but I added some parmesan cheese tonight and…is there anything that isn’t improved upon by adding cheese?  Just sayin’. 

Have a great weekend!

Homemade laundry detergent trial

Recipes for DIY laundry soap abound on the internet and most of them are similar to this one.   Originally it called for adding water, using a 5 gallon bucket and having it turn into a gel-type soap overnight.  I don’t have room or the desire for a 5 gal bucket in my utility room and didn’t want the added mess, so I stopped at the powdered version and it came out like this:

You only need 2 tablespoons for a normal load; less for smaller or lightly soiled and more for larger or heavily soiled loads.  This should last us awhile, because there are only two of us here and we don’t get grass stains, motor oil and such on our clothes. 

The basic recipe I used is thus:  one bar of Fels Naptha soap, 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Washing Soda.  I found the Fels and the Washing Soda at Ace Hardware, and the Borax in the grocery store.  It is said that you can substitute Zote or Ivory for the Fels, but let me say this as a disclaimer:  This is being touted as safe for high efficiency washers, due to its low sudsing.  I know nothing about Zote, but Ivory soap is likely to make more suds and might negate the safety for h.e. washers.   I’m not going to risk it as long as I can find the Fels.

The process for mixing goes thus:  Grate up the Fels soap.  I used my food processor grater attachment and that worked fine, but if you don’t have one, you can do it by hand.  It is hard work and takes longer, but it will work.  Then mix in the other two ingredients with the soap in your blender, blending till everything looks equally incorporated and is a powder.  Use pulsing so that you don’t overdo this.  It could be tiring for your motor. Pour into a storage container.    That’s it!  Done! 

Also, be sure you get Arm and Hammer WASHING soda, not BAKING soda.  It is in the aisle with detergents and cleaners, not in the baking aisle.   It has a different alkalinity level and it is what you absolutely NEED.  Don’t substitute here.   I have heard some say that they added Oxyclean to their recipe, but I don’t know the proportion.  I’d rather just add that when I need it.  I don’t need it for lightly soiled or dark clothes, so why spend the money?  

I wash my darks in cold water, my lights in warm and only use hot water once a week for my white towels, face cloths, dish cloths and cloth “paper towels” and hubby’s white underwear.   I use bleach only occasionally and not during times when I can hang my whites outside.  The sun is a great, natural bleacher.  I will report back when I’ve finished up my first batch of this and let everyone know how it worked.

Sausage and peppers and mushrooms, oh my…

One night a few weeks ago we had this wonderful dish thanks to a posting by one of my favorite bloggers, Anneliese, of Aesthetic Nest.   I’m going to  include a photo of my own, but for better pictures and the complete recipe check that out at http://www.aestheticnest.com/2012/02/cooking-fettuccine-with-sausage.html#more

The results were great, but I did have a problem finding the type of sausage she called for and then had trouble removing the sausage from the casings.  I’ve seen this done on t.v. and they sure make it look easy, but my casings just broke into bits and I’d still be working on that if I hadn’t given up and done something different.  I sliced the sausage into pieces and sautéed them up, which worked out fine.  If anyone has a tip on removing these from the casings, please let me know.  Wish I could just find bulk sausage of the Italian type and then it wouldn’t be an issue.

So here’s my finished dish

We have enough leftovers to feed an army, so we’ll be eating it again one night and maybe sharing some.  Like nearly all of the “pasta and other stuff” recipes that I’ve tried, I think this one has way more pasta than needed.  If I make it again, I’ll cut it in half or maybe reduce by a third.  We like the other flavors and textures so much and less pasta would make it healthier, since we are not using whole wheat pasta.  I’ve tried whole grain pastas and I just don’t care for the taste or the crumbly texture. 

I’d call this recipe a great success!

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