Thursday, September 29, 2011

Seven Quick Takes, now with template!

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Jen over at Conversion Diary has provided a nifty template for people who want to do Seven Quick Takes, and the header image is included. How can I (or anybody) resist that??! If you've never done quick takes before, today is a good time to start. The template does all the formatting; all you need to do is talk about stuff.

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For the first time ever this year, my family will be celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving. No, I haven't moved to Canada (although I can see it from just down the road.) It's just that my whole family will be in one place that day, probably for the only time this winter. Brandon is coming in on leave, Miriel will take a long weekend from grad school, all the babies will be there... what's not to be thankful for?

I am thankful that this should be a simpler meal than Thanksgiving dinner has become around here. After all, we don't have any Canadian Thanksgiving traditions, so nobody can object if I only make 3 pies instead of six, or skip something else entirely. (To be honest, I will be the one who misses certain dishes most. Don't you "need" sauerkraut with your turkey?)

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Brandon's leave status means that this will be the first Christmas we haven't had everybody together at some point during the holidays. (Branwen and Larry have been in Idaho for at least one Christmas Day.) But this is also the year that we had already decided would be a good one for the new families to start establishing their own Christmas traditions. I'm not sure how exactly this year's events are going to look, but the one given is that nobody will have to drive anywhere before they open their stocking. The married kids are ecstatic about that one!

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Speaking of stockings, in need to get moving on the ones for Linus and Ambrose. Everybody (sons-in-law included) has a stocking I sewed, with their name on a counted cross-stitch band at the top. The assembly is easy, but the cross-stitch takes some time, and this year I have to do two. The only other year I did two was the year Daniel and Camilla were born. And just to make it harder, Arwen gave both boys names containing an S. Nobody else's name has one, and curvy letters are hardest to stitch, and I have to figure out how to do that in the same "font." See why I'm stalling?

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Another reason I'm not very enthusiastic about the cross-stitch is that I have a new favorite needlecraft -- knitting. Back in July an old friend invited me -- for about the third time -- to her Tuesday evening knitting group. For some reason, this time I said "sure", even though I made sure she knew I was a committed crocheter. It's been wonderful! There are other old friends and acquaintances in the group with whom it's been great to reconnect, I got the twins' afghans done while chattering about anything and everything, and I fell in love with knitting, at least for now. (I'm very fickle when it comes to needlecrafts and video games...) I've made four hats, quite a few dishcloths, and now I'm working on a shawl for myself. Although I went out last night and bought more dishcloth cotton, because the shawl pattern is maybe about half-a-step too difficult for a beginner like me. So I'll do the shawl when I feel like concentrating, and dishcloths when I just want to relax and knit.

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Even though it's not yet 10AM, the casserole for tonight's dinner is prepped and sitting in the fridge until it's time to bake it. I feel inordinately proud of this for some reason, as if making dinner were a high accomplishment instead of a routine chore.

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And now I'm going to step away from the computer for a while. Of course, I'm probably just going to go play Hanging with Friends on my ipod... My username is Salome Ellen (what else?) if anybody wants to join me...

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tasty Tuesday -- "Larry Hashbrowns"

When Branwen and Larry were in college, they lived on a temporary campus while the school's permanent campus was under construction. The "dormitories" were actually apartment buildings, and four or more students shared actual apartments, with living rooms, full kitchens, balconies, and sometimes two full baths. This sounds lovely, and it was, except that the kitchens weren't truly full kitchens. Because the school intended to sell the buildings when the permanent campus opened, the students were not allowed to use the stoves in their apartments. (One apartment per floor was designated a "common room", and you could sign up to use the stove in there, and the refrigerators could be used.) But kitchen appliances were permitted, so microwaves, toaster ovens and electric frying pans were prized items.

Since Branwen and I share a birthday, I chose to fly down and visit her on campus the weekend she turned 21. (I turned 21 + n. ;-D ) I took along all the ingredients and equipment to make her a cherry pie, including a triple-wrapped bag of frozen cherries. When I reclaimed my bag at the airport, it was no surprise to discover that TSA had opened it for a search. What do you suppose a pastry blender and rolling pin look like on x-rays??!

We baked the pie in the common room, and it was excellent. And on Sunday after mass a bunch of Branwen's friends threw a brunch to celebrate. I don't remember what all was on the menu, but I know there were mimosas and this dish, which was -- and is -- Larry's breakfast specialty.

"Larry Hashbrowns"

In a large covered skillet over medium-high heat (obviously, you can do this in an electric frying pan!) brown one onion in oil or bacon grease until soft. Add one 2 pound bag frozen southern-style (diced) hash browns, and allow the potatoes to thaw, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, microwave 1 to 2* boxes of pre-cooked brown-and-serve sausage links until hot. Cut** the links into small rounds and set aside. Grate 4oz. or more of cheddar cheese (we like extra-sharp.) When the potatoes are soft and starting to get warm, sprinkle on Cajun seasoning*** to taste and stir to distribute it evenly. Stir in the sausage bits, and allow the mixture to get very hot, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, although browning is fine. Just before serving, sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Allow the cheese to melt slightly, stir and serve. Serves 3 to 6 (depending on how many of them eat like Larry!) Some of my family like to top this with salsa, but I think that's overkill.

*Larry currently uses about 1 1/2 boxes (15 links), but he makes these often enough that the open box doesn't sit in the freezer very long. I love sausage, so I throw in all of them.

** If the links are too hot to hold down for chopping, you can use two forks to tear them apart.

*** Tony Cachere's is our favorite brand. Start with just a little; this stuff has zip!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Daybook, because I need to ease back into this "blogging" thing

Outside my window... sunny, and lovely weather. A contrast to a week ago, when I had to break out my woolen cape to be comfortable at the local outdoor music and chili festival. Although there were definitely people there in Tshirts and shorts...

I am thinking... that fall is just around the corner. The leaves outside are green, but they won't be for long.

I am thankful for... my wonderful family. I'm regularly startled when friends make comments about how their (grown) children are at odds with each other or their parents, or have walked away from God, or are struggling with an addiction, or breaking the law. I'm not quite sure why mine aren't like that, but I'm thankful!

From the kitchen... lasagne. And tossed salad. Both are sitting in the fridge ready to bake/serve. I like doing dinner prep in the morning.

I am wearing... blue/aqua/lime floral "beach pants" (longer than capris, shorter than slacks), a turquoise tee, turquoise socks and black walking shoes. Not a great look, but I'm changing to sandals after I walk the dog. My feet are too pernickety to walk any distance even in good sandals. I'm constantly amazed at women who can walk wherever in flip-flops.

I am creating... a knit hat for Brandon to wear under his biking helmet. The picture in the link shows a woman in a ski helmet, but the pattern allows for omitting the pigtail slots, and I like how it's turning out.

I am going... to walk the dog in a little while. Otherwise I'm staying home.

I am reading... The Wedding Shawl by Sally Goldenbaum. And I just finished Unraveled by Maggie Sefton. I'm not sure if I'm reading knitting mysteries because I'm getting back into knitting, or the other way around. I'm also working on The Oxford Project book and finding it fascinating.

I am hoping... that I can find a way to get age discoloration out of my ancient, much loved cream rayon Western broomstick skirt. The elastic died of old age, and while I'll have no problem replacing that, it turned the whole top of the skirt an orangey brown. Non-chlorine bleach did nothing. Chlorine bleach supposedly yellows rayon. But I think I'm about ready to try it.

I am hearing... cars passing by. The windows are open again, since it's so nice out.

Around the house... Kelson will be home today from visiting his sisters for a week. So there will soon be several pairs of shoes by the front door, and a couple of longboards parked somewhere. And a mess in his room, which has been tidy all week. But I have to admit that I missed him.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Choir practice starts again on Thursday. I miss it over the summer, even while I relish the free evening.

Words I'm pondering : "since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?"

Here is a picture thought I am sharing....
Some days are just like this......
(From those hilarious people at XKCD again...)