20 February, 2010

Random Retail Conversations

Working in retail is a study in human nature.
Last Thursday, we were counting tills and my co-worker's till had a whole handful of this new state quarter. When did we get a new state?, where is this new state?, and why did he get an entire roll of Northern Mariana Island quarters?  But then, I had to buy a roll of quarters to make change and I opened an entire roll of Northern Mariana Island quarters. Amazing? Two whole rolls of quarters containing just Mariana's?
No one seemed to know where this 'new state' was. Sometimes I have trouble with names, but I was thinking south - somewhere near Imelda Markos and all of her million shoes.
Other customers were intrigued.
Side conversations  on how geography is not in the school curriculum anymore.
Concern on how we were pretty sure our state quarter books did not contain this island place.
The entire day passed this way with various add-ons to this puzzle.

About 11:30 am on Friday, an older gentleman said he has been stationed nearby during WWII.
Located in the south seas north of Guam and south of the Philippines (AHA!! Imelda was from the Philippines). He thought Iwo Jima was nearby as well. He thought he had been in Saipan.
Now - I could have looked this up on the computer but this conversation starter yielded the most fascinating tidbits into people. Their  views on geography, on schools, on taxes, on protectorates or is that a territory?, how when we get older, our minds all start to go...., the serious need of many for bifocals to squint at the tiny lettering.
And finally - wait for this - we'd been conversing about this strange new quarter for a day and a half and one gal speaks up, "I know where it is, I was born there."
In the tiny town where I work, probably a million to one shot = an actual person who intimately knows where this Northern Mariana Island is.

Did you know there is a First Spouse Coin?
Here's all the other weird territories.

And here's a coin for the Boy Scouts!

15 February, 2010

Elf Costume for a Darling Little Girl

I have bought the material for the Tangerine Dress but here is another that is so inspiring.
An Elf Costume for Little Girls
The maker is selling it on Etsy.

I was perusing the pattern books here and there are a few dress patterns for little girls, a LOT of bridal/formal dresses, nearly nothing in knitwear, and one pattern for the boys (formal).
Kidding about the boys (there were two), but where are the REAL clothes that children wear?

There are actually more patterns out now then there were when my children were young.  I learned then that if I wanted the clothing to fit, it was better to make a pattern from something ready-made and make it from that. The kids sewing patterns are HUGE on the little ones and for a beginning seamstress, it must cause huge headaches trying to downsize the garment so it fits.
The sizes on the back of the envelope are part of the headache.
Burda had the most 'realistic' patterns for children - utilizing knits. Most kids wouldn't know what to do with all the formal wear here in Oregon - where we tend to call our newest sweats our 'nice' clothes and think REI   is our formalwear store.

14 February, 2010

I Need More Iris's


Seriously, there is never enough of my favorite flower in the whole wide world.

13 February, 2010

Random Valentine's Week Projects

I saw this tutorial via One Pretty Thing for a knitted Big Heart Dishcloth. I had some red acrylic yarn and about two hours later - impressed with how easy it is to knit a dishcloth.

I ran out to Michaels and bought up all their solid color Sugar 'n Cream cotton skeins to send to my 4-H groupies for their Thursday meeting. While they are learning to knit and purl, this project seemed easy enough for a beginner and interesting with Valentine's Day coming up.
(unfortunately, their meeting was canceled and they will resume in a week or so - I will post photos if they can squeeze in another project.)

I am on my second dishcloth - about 3/4 of the way done. The second time is much faster.

Cotton works better for dishcloths. I used my #7 needles. 

Valentine Cupcakes for work.

12 February, 2010

Sophea's Kitchen

My niece has been building a play kitchen for her daughter. My kids aren't quite old enough to have kids themselves so Sophea is a practice grand-baby for me.
This is the outfit I made for her. Still a tad large, both the skirt and tops will be outgrown all too soon.

The skirt was made at Christmas and the two tops were clear into February! Sophea is potty training and trying to find a plain t-shirt in a 12-mo. size was near impossible. The long-sleeved red shirt is an 18-mo. size.

My niece and her husband have been remodeling their first home north of here and along the way, my niece picked up some wood-working skills. I am so amazed at how well the cupboard door turned out with the vegetable and fruit cut-outs.

For woodworking, here's a new site I have just discovered called Knock Off Wood if you are interested in discovering your inner sawing skills.

07 February, 2010

Tapeswell Groovy Kind of Love

Remember my Tapeswell blog entry?
They just sent me another 'code' for a free roll of the above clear tape plus 30% off your order of $20 or more. Offer good until February 28th, 2010.
The coupon code is TSLOVE.

06 February, 2010

Year Of The Tiger

I was helping Pencil Girl 'organize' her sewing space when we derailed and made these Fortune Cookies.

The fortunes, of course, had a creative theme:

- May what you sew always look good on you.
- May your days be "pieceful"
- Do not run with scissors
- Days stitched with love rarely unravel
- When life gives you scraps, make a quilt

- May your days always MEASURE up.
- Make the SCRAPS in your life beautiful.
 - A family stitched together with love, seldom unravels.
 - May your bobbin always be full!
 -Two threads are better than one.

05 February, 2010

Creative Friend's Gift

I am shamelessly plugging my creative friend. She made these beautiful earrings and then gave them to me as a Christmas present.
They are a gorgeous shade of tourquoise/soft blue and I love them.

04 February, 2010

FLASH: Oregon Spring is official, Minnesota - three months away

Still snowing in Minnesota! We are officially in this weird two weeks of fantastic February weather in Oregon that can fool you into trimming your roses too early or planting your garden. The sun shines - such a relief after the January dreariness.
In Minnesota, my sister tries to tell me that the sun shines more often in the winter there. 
Here in Oregon -we are abloom in tiny iris's, crocus's and Hellebores - Christmas Roses. My early Rhody - Christmas Cheer is blooming its head off.
And finally, this little corner where Rusty is sitting (top photo). He uses this as a shortcut as going around a corner would take too long. I try to keep it planted in crocuses as the day lilies beside the corner fill in as the season matures. This way I have a three season look to the corner . Since Rusty is 7 yrs old, I guess training him not to 'prune' would probably not take hold.
Dandelion sighting.

Freezing Drizzle
Current: Freezing Drizzle
Wind: E at 7 mph
Humidity: 85%
ThuFlurries32° | 26°     FriSnow Showers31° | 20°     SatCloudy25° | 17°

01 February, 2010

Celery Root Soup

I spotted this recipe last week  and it grabbed my attention with ingredients I can eat.
It's really difficult to find soup recipes with no flour or dairy or beans or grains.

I can only eat so much chicken soup, squash soup or beef soup before its gets really boring.
I do like soup because it's fast to reheat and its easy. Therefore, when I have soup made, and in the fridge, I am a good girl as regards to my health issues.
In the old days, I would never have looked at a recipe like this. It's complicated. It takes a couple of hours to make. These aren't ingredients I have in my fridge or pantry.
I have never in my life bought celery root before. Before I made this soup, I ranked celery root right into the parsnip/rutabaga nightmares that were my childhood. 
It's time to get past my childhood.

The soup turned out really good. We ate it as a first course because we felt so 'gourmet'.

Celery Root Soup with Granny Smith Apples and Chive Oil
 This is a three-part recipe.
1. Cooking down the celery and seasonings
2. Making the cashew cream - starts with soaking the nuts for 24 hrs in the fridge.
3. Chive Oil?

Pinch of Sea Salt
3 Tbsp. X-virgin Olive Oil
2 Med. Celery Roots, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
2 Ribs Celery, chopped
1 lg. Onion, chopped
2 qts. Stock
1 Bay leaf
1 cup Cashew Cream***
salt & pepper to taste
1 granny smith apple, unpeeled, diced small. ( I used a Fuji Apple).
2 Tbsp. Chive Oil***

We start with a large pot over medium heat. Warm the sea salt  for one minute. Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds, careful not to let it smoke. This will create a non-stick effect.

Add celery root, celery and onion; saute for 6 - 8 min. until soft but not brown.
Add the broth(stock) and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add cashew cream and simmer for ten minutes more.

Remove bay leaf from soup (oops).
Working in batches, Puree soup in blender with lid firmly on.

Season with salt & pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls. Place a spoonful of diced apple in the center of each serving and drizzle with 1 tsp. chive oil around the apple.


Soup keeps for 3 - 4 days in the fridge. It can be frozen, thawed and reheated. When reheating, vigorously whisk or re-blend the soup for optimal creaminess. Chop apples just before serving (browning).

***Cashew Cream.
Put 1 cup of raw cashews in a bowl. Cover with cold water and soak in fridge overnight. Drain and rinse two times. Place in blender with enough fresh water to cover the nuts. Blend on high for several minutes until smooth and creamy. If you want more creaminess, place through a sieve. (My blender texture was fine.)(I forgot the 24hr thing - so mine were put in freezer for 30 minutes).

***Chive Oil.
Blanch 1 small bunch of chives for 30 seconds in boiling water, then drain and chill in an ice bath. Squeeze moisture from chives and place in a blender with 1/2 cup canola oil (used Safflower Oil) and a pinch of salt and pepper. Puree for 2 minutes. Strain with sieve (I used a tea strainer). Oil is very flavorful, so only use 5 -6 drops per serving. Can be stored in fridge for several weeks.

When I first thought of this soup, I envisioned a green soup - kind of a split pea green soup. This soup is more of a tan, creamy color. The cashew cream was easy to make even if I forgot to soak them 24 hours in advance. The chives were freshly picked from my garden and packed a lot of new spring into the soup.

I am, I confess, the only person on this planet who dislikes Granny Smith apples. I can see where a green skinned apple and the green chive oil would compliment each other for presentation. I used a Fuji and it was all right.

This soup was thick & creamy. Same blender process as my butternut squash soup but the nut cream is crazy cool. Then there were the subtle flavors of the celery and the chives - hints if you will - nothing overpowering. The diced apples were different but added to the flavor notes.
I liked this as part of a meal. I would definitely make this again and even looked at Celery root seed in my garden catalog.