Friday, February 27, 2015

Squash and knitting. That's an interesting combination.

Ugh. I'm just having the hardest time getting decent pictures with the camera in this phone. I might just start using the old camera with lens damage again.

Anyway, this has been a very hard week. Lots of worry for someone close to me, a fair amount of writing but I did get to do a little bit of craft.

First and foremost, I finally finished this blanket!

Much as I like the color and feel of that yarn, the quality wasn't all that great in places. I keep finding spots that need to be cleaned up.

Ah well. The lap blanket is pretty, and that's all that matters.

I've managed to get a few more rows done on my dragon scarf, too.

Maybe I'll actually be able to get more work done this weekend/next week. Who knows?

Lastly, of course, I did manage to cook that squash. Those two veggies are providing a lot more food than I thought they would. Gonna need to do more squash experiments in the future.

In season veggies are so much less expensive in stores, which means winter squash is a great way to eat healthy while saving money.

Like I'd mentioned in that entry, I plan on trying to grow my own squash from seed this year. We'll see how that goes, huh?

Perhaps I'll get that started this weekend. I hear the seedlings grow very quickly when started indoors, so maybe it's worth it to wait? I don't know. Our growing season is so short and unpredictable. We've had frosts last into May before, so that makes starting seeds indoors a little tricky.

Anyway, happy weekend, all! Hard to believe it's almost March already.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Super Simple Spaghetti Squash

EXTREME CLOSEUP, because I apparently don't
know how to photograph food well.
I finally got around to dealing with that spaghetti squash, yesterday. I was going to try reproducing my mom's recipe, but between feeling a little on the lazy side, and not having all of the vegetables she included, I decided to go with something more simple - salted and peppered squash, with roasted squash seeds.

All I did was chop off the stem and bottom nub of the squashes and cut them in half lengthwise.

I'd been warned that it would be hard to do, but it was a lot easier than I'd been told. Either my knife is very sharp, or I'm stronger than I thought I am.

Anyway, I then scooped the seeds and guts into a bowl to deal with later, and drizzled olive oil on to the flesh. I spread it around with my fingers before adding salt and pepper.

I didn't bother taking exact measurements, so I'd say add the spices "to taste". Since I like the flavor of squash, I just added enough to give it a light coating.

Next, stick the squash, cut sides down, on a baking pan, and bake at 375 degrees for about half an hour. (Yeah, preheat the oven beforehand.)

As the squash was baking, I cleaned the seeds up, patted them dry, and put a couple aside to try growing in a container this year.

The rest, I mixed with a little olive oil and salt, then spread them on another baking sheet.

Once the timer went off, I checked the squash to be sure it was done, set it out to cool enough to handle, and lowered the oven temp to 250.

After letting the oven cool a bit, I slipped the seeds in, and set the timer for 15 minutes. It turns out that 15 minutes wasn't quite enough time, so I'd advise baking the seeds for closer to 20-30 minutes.

While that was going, I took a fork to the squash and removed the strands. After that? I just added some spaghetti sauce. The rest is (tasty) history!

The seeds make a great popcorn substitute, since they actually taste a little like that particular snack. I think I like these types of seeds a little more than pumpkin seeds.

Next time, I might try one of the squash muffin recipes I've seen kicking around the Internet.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Shh

Quiet day today. No argument here.

Well, it WAS. Now the kitty in the picture is yelling for attention.

(Also shared over at Create With Joy and Oh My Heartsie Girl.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Make my own clothes? HAH. HAHAHAHA!

Today's prompt from BlogHer is "Have you ever attempted to make your own clothes? Tell us about the results."

Oh, boy. Clothing making is one of my weakest areas. Ugh. Getting the fit right and figuring out which fabric to use is something I just can't seem to grasp.

The last time I tried making a dress from scratch, it... Well, it didn't turn out well at all. I did manage to make a simple dress and lace jacket for a wedding I'd attended years ago, but the dress itself wasn't very flattering.

I did like the jacket thing, though. No idea what happened to it.

Otherwise? I haven't done much by way of making clothing from scratch. The below shirt is the closest I've come to successfully making something from a pattern.

Maybe not the most flattering of pictures, but I love the sleeves. I think I still have the pattern somewhere.

Otherwise? Well, outside of the skirt I'd upcycled in this entry, I've done little more than mending or experimenting with crochet hemming as far as clothing goes.

My sewing prowess seems to fall along the lines of making accessories or decorations for the home. Maybe I'll get the sewing bug again one day, and figure out the complexities of fit, draping and measurement.

Oddly enough, for as much knitting as I do, I haven't attempted a sweater, yet. Do hats, socks, gloves, scarves and gauntlets count as clothing? If so, I've made a ton of those.

Such cute mittens.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Easy to Grab Toiletry Bag

I'm terrible at remembering to pack everything whenever I go on a trip. That means my two annual overnight outings are usually filled with a bit of pre-trip stress.

However, I've learned that if I can just grab a small bag of the things I usually end up forgetting, toiletry items, the stress levels go down dramatically. That's why I put together a little toiletry grab bag!

The bag itself is an early attempt at sewing a reversible knot bag. It turned out nicely, though the scrap fabric wasn't anything I'd really carry around with me. So, it was designated my grab bag.

Inside, are as follow:
  • toothpaste
  • floss
  • mouthwash
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • toothbrush
  • deodorant
  • de-greasing facial wipes
Since one of our annual trips is for camping, the shampoo and conditioner don't really get used, but those facial wipes are fantastic. I found them, and a lot of those other travel sized goodies, at Target.

Of course, if you're flying without checking luggage, it would be a good idea to swap an opaque bag for a gallon zip-lock to get through security. The nice thing about travel sized toiletries is the fact they usually conform to TSA's liquid guidelines.

I also included one of my reusable travel bottles in the picture. That particular bottle has some left over massage oil in it, but you can easily put shampoo, conditioner or facial cleanser in it, and save yourself a trip to the store.

This little bag is really just for the essentials, but there's no reason why you can't apply the same idea to makeup or other hygiene products. There are also fold up brushes which would fit nicely, as well.

With this, I won't forget to bring these things with me, unless I forget the bag itself. If you do much traveling, putting one of these together is a great idea.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pondering Squash

So, I've had these two great spaghetti squashes sitting my kitchen for a while, now. I keep meaning to cook them up, but I can't figure out what I want to do with

Do I want to make muffins? A casserole? A topping for spaghetti? I just don't know.

Good thing squash keeps for so long.

My mom had actually cooked up a great casserole-lasagna-thing with all sorts of other veggies and cheese in it, but since the recipe didn't get written down, I have no idea of how to make it.

Well, I'm sure I'll figure something out. Preferably before we get to the grocery store tomorrow.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Are homemade gifts better than store-bought?

One of the recent BlogHer prompts was asking if we preferred handmade gifts to store-bought.

As far as I'm concerned, it's less how the object was made so much as the intent with which it's given.

Today, I've been wearing the locket my dad bought me on the day I was born. He had intended to give it to me on my 18th birthday, but since our lives didn't go the way he'd hoped, he gave it to me the summer after.

As you can see in the picture, it's very tiny and delicate, but I don't think it's handmade. But that doesn't take away any of the sentimental value it holds for me. It's something I'll always treasure, because it came from him, and he'd put so much thought into it.

On the other hand, my grandmother made me a doll when I was around five years old named Gretel. I used to haul her around with me wherever I went. In a way, that hasn't changed much, since I still have her with me. That, too, is something that will always be treasured, because it came from my grandmother, and she'd put so much thought and effort into her.

As for giving gifts? I prefer to make them, if I can. If the thing I'd like to give isn't something I can make, and it's in my price range, I have nothing against shopping for gifts, though.

All that really matters to me is that the gift is given with love. Sure, there are complicated politics around how materials are attained, what they are and how gifts are made before they hit the stores, but on a strictly interpersonal level? Affection is the only thing that counts.