Monday, September 24, 2018

Makers' Monday

I'm happy to report that Hat #24 is in the bag.  Or more correctly, it's in the mail.  Actually, it's in a bag in the mail.  I only need to knit 28 more hats in 2018.  Yikes!

Knit 52 Hats in a Year challenge.  Hats will be sold at https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits
Hat #24 out of 52

Although it doesn't photograph well, my Noro Cowl is coming along nicely.


Knitting a seed stitch and ribbed cowl with Malabrigo yarn and a Noro pattern.
Noro Cowl

This photo does not begin to do justice to the yarn or cowl.  Besides the fact that it's at a weird length (too long to lay out and photograph, yet too short to drape over the mannequin) my camera simply refuses to produce an accurate image of the colors.  I think the autumn yellows, reds and greens are confusing my Nikon.  No matter how many adjustments/enhancements I try, the photo comes out either way to yellow or way too blue.  You're just going to have to trust me.  This yarn is a to-die-for autumny blend of colors.


Coffee Shop Cowl knit with The Coffee Shop value pack of Knit Pick's Palette yarn
Coffee Shop Cowl

My Coffee Shop cowl is coming along as well.  I've reached the end of the stripes, knit a purled turning row, and now I'm knitting the solid color lining.  

I'd planned to either list this cowl for sale in the shop or put it in the Christmas gift pile but....  I spent a lot of time reading while knitting those stripes and there are a few wonky stitches that I didn't notice until a row or two later and.....  But no worries.  I'll be happy to have a wonky stitched, coffee colored, striped cowl of my own.

If you have a creative blog of any sort, please join me in celebrating Makers' Monday by using the link below to share one of your recent posts.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday Soup

So, what's on the menu this week?

A hearty, low carb soup recipe, perfect for fall.


Low carb Tuscan Cauliflower Soup.  The recipe comes from Taste of Home and it sounds delicious.  

If you give the recipe a try, let me know what you think.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Photo Friday


There's nothing like an Etsy shop custom hat order to motivate me into knitting hat #24.   Only 28.75 more hats to knit before December 31st.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Three on Thursday

Three random things for Three on Thursday:

1.  Florence.  By the time she moseyed her way across Virginia on Monday she wasn't even a tropical depression anymore, but she still packed a wallop.

Hurricane Florence brought flooding rains and tornadoes to Richmond, VA on September 17, 2018
photo courtesy of klfy.com

She brought flooding rains and multiple tornadoes.

One person died in a tornado in Chesterfield VA
photo courtesy of twitter.com

Sarah and I happened to be at Target when a tornado touched down less than a mile away.  I was pretty impressed with the way Target handled the situation.  They "closed" the store, as in shut down all the registers and pharmacy and had everyone, including the customers, move to the back of the store.  The whole event took about three hours because we'd get the all clear signal and everyone would start making their way up front to the registers and the warning sirens would go off again and everyone would turn around and return to the back of the store.  Over and over and over again.  


I have to say, I really was impressed with both the Target employees and their customers.  No one was complaining, even the moms with small children in tow.  A couple of the employees got a few simple toys off the shelves and played with some of the children to keep them occupied.  Even when our ears began popping from the change in air pressure, everyone stayed nice and calm.  I was amazed.

2.  Speaking of Florence.... The Florence news coverage introduced me to the NC shark cam.  I mentioned how obsessed I am with this underwater view the other day.  But I'm embarrassed to admit that after spending two whole days wondering why there were so many sharks in that area, I finally realized I was watching a highlight reel, not live video because the cameras were damaged in the storm.  I feel pretty silly for not realizing it, but dang! I'm happy to learn that there aren't that many sharks swimming off the coast of NC.  .... Or are they?  Guess I'll have to wait for the cameras to be repaired to find out.

3.  It's funny the tricks our minds play on us.  When creating my Labor Day post, I didn't even notice the grammatical error in the meme until the next day when I was looking at it before my morning coffee had kicked in.  My awake brain glossed over the error and saw what it should have said while my still-asleep brain read the actual words.  I find that interesting.  And a little scary.  Does that mean I should begin doing all my proof reading in the morning before coffee??  Yikes!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Makers' Monday

Once again I'm typing in advance of Monday on the off chance that Florence kills our power.  I'm fairly certain that Florence has finally chosen her path and we won't have any hurricane related issues but it's always best to be prepared.  And I think I've proven that it's even better to be over prepared.

And over prepared I am.  

Enough bottled water to fill Lake Michigan?  Check.

Candles, matches and flashlights?  Check.

Extra gas for the stove, grill, generator and cars?  Check.

Emergency chocolate stash?  Check.

Liquor/wine cabinet filled to capacity?  Check.

Junk food supply too large to fit in pantry?  Check.

yarn shopping at Knitting B's in Richmond, VA in preparation for Hurricane Florence
hurricane yarn haul

Yarn Stash upgraded?  Check.

Hurricane reading materials available?  Check.

seed and rib stitch cowl knit with Malabrigo Rios yarn
Noro Cowl knit with Malabrigo Rios
Special hurricane knitting project?  Check.

NC shark cam is a fascinating view of sea life 35 miles off the coast
NC shark cam

Hurricane knitting, reading and even junk food abandoned? Check!

I've discovered North Carolina's shark cam and can not look away.  I'm fascinated and somewhat lulled into an almost comatose state listening to the water and watching the fish maneuver through the currents.  

How did I not know this shark cam existed?  I am SO excited to have found it.  I've been wanting a large aquarium for years but couldn't face the expense or hassle of maintaining one.  This shark cam is the perfect solution.

(And no one is harmed when I forget to feed the fish!)

For the past week I've been worrying about having enough food, booze and entertainment to get us through a power outage.  It takes a LOT of food and booze to distract me from a lack of Netflix.  But  I've replaced my need for Netflix with the fish.  It's going to take a very special knitting project to distract me from the fish!

But once again, I'm prepared.  While hurricane yarn shopping, I picked up a couple of skeins of Malabrigo Rios and a seed and rib stitch cowl pattern from a Noro magazine.  I'm set!  Between this lovely yarn and the shark cam, I may not even need junk food or booze to get me through the storm.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sunday Soup

Once again, I'm typing this in advance in anticipation of power outages due to Hurricane Florence.  I chose Chicken Stew for this week because it's easy, can be cooked several different ways, including on the grill, and the recipe is never harmed by a lack of or inclusion of extra ingredients.

photo couresty of tasteofhome.com

The recipe I follow is so basic and flexible, it's not really a recipe.  I generally include whatever I have on hand and in whatever quantity I have on hand until the stew pot (or Instant Pot) is full.  

The ingredients I always use are:

Chicken, white or dark, cut off the bone and cut into large bite sized chunks
Potatoes cubed or shredded*
Carrots cut into 1 inch pieces or shredded or whole baby carrots*
Chicken broth or stock (water and a couple of bouillon cubes will work in a pinch)
Salt
Pepper

Ingredients I usually add:

Celery, including leaves if available
Canned or frozen green beans
Canned or frozen corn
Diced onion
Diced garlic
Red bell pepper flakes
Hot sauce

Ingredients I occasionally use:

Rice** instead of potatoes
Frozen green peas or butter beans instead of green beans
Canned tomatoes and/or tomato sauce
Diced ham or salami
Cream or milk

*If I'm making this soup at the last minute and I'm low on ingredients, I'll shred the carrots and potatoes instead of chopping/cubing them.  Shredding them makes for a less liquidy stew and it cooks quicker.

**When cooking on the stove top or in the oven, I wait to add the rice until the last 20 - 30 minutes of cooking time.

To prepare, I cook the chicken, onion, garlic and celery in a little bit of olive oil until the chicken turns white.  Then I add all the other ingredients and add enough water to cover.  Put a lid on the pot and either simmer on the stove top for 45-60 minutes; put the pot in a 325 degree oven for several hours, or use the Instant Pot for 25 - 30 minutes.  Or in the likely case this week, when we probably don't have power (I'm typing this in advance of the hurricane, remember?) we can set the pot on the grill and cook it outdoors.

Again, I'm praying for those in Florence's path.  With or without power, I hope you are able to enjoy a hot meal today.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Photo Friday

Phew!  'The Season' is over and done with work-wise and I had a full week, Monday through Friday off.  I spent it knitting.

http://shrsl.com/15wd7 the coffee shop, Palette value set from Knit Picks.
The Coffee Shop

Well, knitting and preparing for Hurricane Florence.  Luckily, thankfully, I was able to get lots of knitting done while I waited for giant containers of water to freeze into ice blocks.

I received The Coffee Shop value pack in the mail last week and was excited to start knitting with it rather than try to figure out how and where to store more yarn.  In my excitement, I just grabbed a needle (US2) and cast on enough stitches that I could comfortably begin knitting in the round.  Then I cast on a few more just to be sure...  And I started knitting random width stripes.  It's going to be a cowl.  And I love the warm, understated, earthy browns.  It's been a great, easy project to help calm my pre-hurricane jitters.

Speaking of hurricanes...  I'm writing this in advance in anticipation of power outages.  Obviously I don't know what kind of damage Florence has done as of this morning, but I continue to keep all the east coasters in my thoughts and prayers throughout this storm.  Stay safe!





Thursday, September 13, 2018

Three on Thursday and a little bit of guilt

Hurricane Florence is coming, it's Three on Thursday, and I'm feeling just a little bit guilty.  I'll explain why in a moment, but first, let me explain this post.

Although she can't quite make up her mind exactly where she wants to go, it's a given at this point that Florence will be visiting the east coast over the next few days.  I have to admit, I Love hurricanes!  There's something about the anticipation and the wild weather and survival... that just excites me and turns me slightly manic.  But, after surviving Isabel which left us without power for 13 days....  and Gaston which filled our house with ten feet of water...  I'm a little weird about storms.  I'm excited, manic, and freaked out all at the same time.  It's that feeling I imagine you get just before jumping out of an airplane.  That "This is so exciting, it's gonna be Awesome!, oh my gosh, I'm gonna die!" feeling.

And because of that excited freak out, I tend to over prepare.  And the more I over prepare, the less likely it is that the storm will actually hit.  It's happened that way with every storm since.  The more I prepare, the less it rains.  And with kind Mr. Weatherman predicting Florence dumping as much as 30+ inches of rain. (and that's not even considering the wind or the fact that it's already been raining a solid week before her arrival...)  You can bet your sweet behind that I am preparing.  

And that's why I'm feeling a little guilty. 

photo courtesy of alamy.com

1.  As a family, we drink a lot of water.  And we don't drink tap water, we drink bottled.  And it just so happens that on Sunday, everyone in the family individually, without telling anyone else, bought a week's worth of water.  Except I bought two weeks' worth.  While I was putting the normal five gallons into the cart, the nice Walmart lady (it was in the wee hours of the morning when all the Walmart employees are actually nice) commented that I better stock up because they expected to run out by noon the next day and may not be getting more in before the storm.  So I bought extra.  Our house now looks like a water storage warehouse.

Mr. Weatherman announced that Florence had shifted just slightly to the south.  Virginia was still going to get hammered, but we might not die in the storm.

2.  With the news that we might actually survive, I started thinking about drinking warm water for days on end after the storm leaves us with no power for possibly weeks....  So I plugged an old, unused freezer in and proceeded to make ice in every single container I could find.  Plastic travel cups, Tupperware cereal keepers, even mixing bowls became over sized ice trays. Once frozen, I put those chunks of ice in bags and repeated the process.  We now have an upright freezer full of nothing but large ice blocks.  We're ready to keep things cool for a while.

Mr. Weatherman announced that Florence had shifted even more to the south.

3.  So I made multiple pots of coffee and put them in the freezer, just in case.

And Mr. Weatherman announced that Florence was taking not only a more southerly route, but that she was also going to take a sharp left turn once she hit land.  

All I can say is,  I am SO sorry!  I feel like because of my over-preparing actions, I have single handedly wiped North Carolina and possibly South Carolina off the map.

Where ever she lands, I pray that you all stay safe and relatively dry.  Godspeed.


Monday, September 10, 2018

Makers' Monday

So, we're talking about the weather today.



And I have "Oh the weather outside is frightful" stuck in my head and playing on repeat.  Thankfully, or not, it's just that one line from the song.  "Oh the weather outside is frightful..."

I know that while in the midst of it, every summer feels like the hottest, most humid summer on record.  But this summer....  This summer Had to be some kind of a record.

Knitting a striped scarf to indicate the daily temperatures in 2018.
2018 Weather Cowl

My weather cowl tube (I still don't know what it's going to be.  A cowl?  A scarf? A pile of knitting that sits in the corner mocking me?) only has one, solitary red stripe indicating a temperature above 95.  But that single, solitary stripe is so misleading.  We may have only had one day that the actual temperature was 96 or above, but the Feels Like temperature was over 100 for most of August.  Even our 80+ degree days had Feels Like temps of over 100.

"Oh the weather outside is frightful....."

And September has turned the humidity into actual rain.  It's been raining for several days, and it's going to keep on raining throughout the coming week and into the next.

And Hurricane Florence is heading our way.

"Oh the weather outside is frightful....."

I have to admit although I'm complaining, I love a good storm.  I've been slightly manic ever since Mr. Weatherman announced that Florence would most likely not stay out to sea.  So, I guess I'll just enjoy this period of energized productivity and keep singing "Oh the weather outside is frightful....."  and just be glad it's rain, not snow.

"Oh the weather outside is frightful..... let it rain, let it rain, let it rain..."

And if my whining about the weather hasn't scared you away and you're still reading, please join me for Makers' Monday.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Sunday Soup

soups for fall or autumn, hearty fall soup recipe, cooking from scratch
Lentil soup, recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com
I may have some trouble talking the family into this week's soup plan.  It's September and my heart craves wool socks and warm, filling soups....  But Mother Nature is still slapping us with unGodly warm and humid temperatures.  

But it's September, I have fall fever, and I want to sit around open fires while wearing wool socks and sweaters...  So lentil soup is on the menu this week.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Photo Friday

I'm finally back to hat knitting.

Hat #23

This one's just a plain, simple stockinette hat knit with Patons Classic Wool.  The color is Pumpkin.  It's the perfect project for my current fall fevered, I Gotta Catch Up on Hat Knitting panic mode.  

This is hat number 23, being knit in week 36.  It's no wonder I'm in panic mode.  I need to knit 13 more hats this week in order to be on schedule for the 52 Hats in a Year challenge.





Thursday, September 6, 2018

Three on Thursday

Aaahh... The wonder of September.  Besides the promise of lower humidity and cooler temperatures (in about three months,) September means I have weekdays off.  Mostly.  

So how will I spend my free time?  Besides spending inordinate hours knitting, I'm looking forward to:

courtesy of colourbox.com

1.  Cleaning the house.  Yes, you heard that correctly.  And you know my house must be in horrendously bad condition if I'm looking forward to cleaning it.  (It is, and I am!)

get a good night's rest.  sleeping photo
photo courtesy of attitudemag.com

2.  Sleep six (or even more!) hours per night.

casual dinner table setting for fall or winter
photo courtesy of oliviamarcheline.com

3.  Eat dinner at the table.  Off plates, not out of Tupperware.   Eat hot, homemade meals at the table, off real, breakable plates and not out of half melted, microwaved Tupperware containers.

Aaahh.... the joys of the end of The Season.


yarn stash photo
Happy Knitting, photo courtesy of craftsy.com

Monday, September 3, 2018

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Sunday Soup

I've had a massive case of Fall Fever for a while now and although September 1st rolling around means absolutely nothing as far as our hot, humid weather is concerned, it means Fall is here.  At least in my mind.  Fall (and yes, it's a big enough event in my life to be capitalized) means wearing old, faded blue jeans, flannel shirts and boots, hot tea (I don't even like tea all that much but I crave it in the fall) and slow cooked meals and football.

Along with my urge to wear flannel despite it still being 90+ degrees with 4,000% humidity is my recent obsession with eating healthier meals.  I've been on a health kick for about a month now and I'm proud to say I've lost about 10 pounds by doing nothing but eating baked/grilled chicken instead of fried chicken tenders and cutting out potatoes and replacing them with an extra serving of vegetables.

But how was I going to keep that up over the winter when there isn't an over abundance of zucchini and fresh tomatoes available?

The answer?  Soup.

I decided that I'd challenge myself to serve some kind of made-from-scratch soup on a weekly basis throughout the winter.

And I decided to share the recipe with you each week.  

So, with no further ado, this week's recipe....

Instant pot soup recipes
Black Bean Soup, photo courtesy of delish.com

Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

1 lb. dry black beans*
4 cups chicken stock
water
1/2 - 1 tsp. salt
2 - 4 stalks celery (including leaves) chopped
1 cup salsa
avocado (optional)
shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)

Rinse the beans and place in Instant Pot.  Pour in the chicken stock then add enough water to cover by 2 or 3 inches.  Add salt, celery and salsa.  Seal the lid and cook on high pressure for 25 - 30 minutes then allow the pressure to release naturally.

Once the beans have finished cooking, blend/smash/puree the beans.  A potato masher works great if you don't have a blender.

Scoop the soup into bowls and top with avocado, cheese and sour cream.  Enjoy!

*No Instant Pot?  Simply use a couple of cans of beans and leave out the water.