Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Layered Pea Salad

I always seem to misplace this recipe right when I need it, which is for Thanksgiving. Or really any potluck, but always Thanksgiving. The traditional salad didn't get served with lunch, but with turkey and rolls for dinner after the meal was over. Love this salad, as basic as it is. Posted for easy access later.

Layered pea salad

Layer the following in a 13x9 inch pan:
1 head iceberg lettuce
1/2 cut diced green pepper
1/2 cut diced celery
1 scant cup diced onion
2 cups mayo mixed with 2 Tbsp sugar for dressing
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
8-12 pieces of bacon, fried to crispy and crumbled

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Next Stitchfix

This was an interesting StitchFix. I had a similar shipping issue as last time - I knew I was going to be out of town over the weekend, so I requested it be delivered on Tuesday. Well, they shipped it early, probably in an attempt to make sure it got here, but it arrived on Friday. Then sat on my front step until I got home late Sunday. It was still there, obviously, but why do you mail your boxes so dang early? You ask your clients when they want it, so deliver it when you say you will!

With that, on to the "interesting" pieces. I asked for a vest so I could layer up in my frigid office, and had a bunch on my pinterest board.  At the last minute, I decided to add a request for jeans since Hoyt's tiny little puppy nails have snagged on two of the pairs I wear all the time.  Here's what I got:

41 Hawthorn Moni Stud Detailed 3/4 Sleeve Blouse - $58

This is so similar to the blue and white patterned blouse I kept from my last fix. It has the same detailing on the sleeve cuffs (they're rounded and folded). I actually pinned this shirt in coral way back when I started my StitchFix style board.  Fits, flatters, like it, keep it. Status: Keep.

Gentle Fawn Hansel Woven Vest - $88

When I requested a vest, I really meant something puffy, quilted, or knit, that would keep me warm. StitchFix just blogged about how to wear vests, and has been pinning a bunch of them, and while I forgot to pin those, that's definitely more what I was thinking.  Maybe they were thrown off when I said it was for work? Maybe I haven't made it clear that I'm a fish bio in an office where everyone is more likely to wear socks under their Birkenstocks/Chacos than heels.

This is a crappy picture. You can't see any of the detailing. Detailing that, when Alan saw it, made him say "NOOOO. Hard pass. Hard pass." He later said it made me look like an really old elementary school teacher. It's just.... boring. I could style this exactly how they suggested and it simply wouldn't look good on me. Status: Return.

Pixley Carly Multi-Sone Layering Necklace - $36

I'm wearing this necklace in the above picture. It's gold, long, and has stones about the same color as the shirt I was wearing. It's fine. I like it, but meh. I have several long necklaces that are pretty similar. I didn't even take a picture of it by itself, that's how blah I was about it. Status: Return.

Moon Collection Alexander Graphic Knit Drape Front Cardigan - $68

So soft. So cozy. I normally shy away from cardigans with all the extra material in front, whether it's up top or hanging down, whatever. I feel like I would always play with it and drive myself nuts. However. I thought this was really fun. I had pinned a chunky cardigan with a big print on it, so this one was pretty on par with what I wanted in a Fix. It will definitely keep me warm in the office, even if that vest won't. Status: Keep.

Henry & Belle Janet Wide Leg Jean - $148
(The tag said Mini Micro Flare, not Janet Wide Leg) 

This was my first try for pants from StitchFix. They actually did a great job. They totally fit. They're snug across my butt, with no material bunching under the cheeks (this happens a lot to me if jeans fit my legs). There was no extra material in the crotch. 

They're even the right length.  They may be the stretchiest jeans I've ever tried on, which sometimes I associate with cheap. Also the fact that most of the stretchy jeans I've owned have fit for the first, maybe second wear after washing, then they were so loose I had to wash them again.

The problem, you ask? They're $150. That's crazy town. I live in jeans, but I tend to buy my Lucky's for $30-50 at the Rack or Ross or some other discount store. I would pay more for pants from StitchFix that were perfect. However, I put my range at $50-100 for pants. $150? Let me check my math.... Yep, definitely not in that price range. Status: Return.

So the two things I asked for I'm returning, and the two things inspired by my Pinterest board I'm keeping. I actually think that's kind of a bummer. It's great that they found things I really like when I shared my style, but I wish that when I put things on my list they were able to successfully fulfill them. Now it's happened three times - the vest, the pants, and the really really awful potato sack dress they sent me last time when I asked for a rehearsal dinner dress.  And I have yet to keep a piece of jewelry. That's probably just me being frugal, though.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Weight to Volume

I'm an idiot.

Or at least I have been for the last three weeks.

A got some sourdough starter from a friend, with the link to how to keep happy, which including weekly feedings of flour and water. Sounds easy, right? Right. Except when you do it wrong.

Once a week, you are supposed to take your starter out of the fridge, split it in two, and feed half with 4 oz water and 4 oz flour. The other half you bake with or discard if you're too dang busy to spend 6 hours making bread.

I've done this three times so far, the first time making Buttery Sourdough Rolls, which were basically cinnamon rolls without the sweet filling. They were buttery and delicious and deemed too good to bake every week if we didn't want to gain 50 pounds.

The other two times I've used the starter I made Rustic Sourdough Bread. The first time was basically a fiasco, with dough sticking to everything because the recipe didn't explicitly say to grease the bowl/saran wrap/anything the dough came in contact with. And then somehow the oven got turned off instead of preheating so the dough got to rise for an extra 25 minutes in a warm oven. Despite all that, the bread turned out fairly tasty, and the toast was super delicious. So I had to try it again, following all normal bread making protocols. Again, tasty bread, but it was really missing the loft I wanted in a rustic loaf, and the dough was super soft. I couldn't figure out where I went wrong, so I headed to the recipe comments to see if anyone else had issues like mine.

Nope. Not a one. What the heck was my problem?

Then it hit me. The day before when I had seen my friend's starter bubbling away on the counter, she had a lot more than me. Like a LOT more. Her post-feed starter was about the same size as my pre-split starter. Something was up with my feeding regimen.

Turns out, dummy here was adding 4 oz of water from a 1/2 cup measuring cup, and adding flour the same way. 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup flour. Unfortunately, liquids and flours and different weight to volume conversions. Something you average home cook probably knows. And I even know it, but somehow forgot at this very important time. Maybe I can blame it on puppy-induced lack of sleepy?

I added extra flour to my starter yesterday before work and left it out all day to feed before returning it to the refrigerator. It looked to be bubbling quite happily. Maybe next time my rustic sourdough loaves will be lofty and round instead of tasty, unshaped blobs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Welcome Hoyt

After almost a year of Alan nagging, and me saying we were too busy with wedding stuff, I finally gave in and we adopted a wee puppy.

We had been searching in Petfinder and Craigslist for a few weeks, and had even sold ourselves on a 4 month old Plott/Redbone Coonhound mix named Marley, but that fell through. We were in the middle of giving up on Marley when we saw a posting for an adoption event at the Petco in Tacoma. They advertised "lots of puppies" being ready for adoption.  Petfinder listed the organization as having Australian Shepard/lab mixes, Border Collie/Australian shepard mixes, and Hound/Lab mixes. So many to choose from!

Well, we fell in love and the rest is history.

Meet Hoyt. 

Hoyt is a Leo, born August 19 to a Walker Hound Dame and a Lab Sire.  He enjoys chewing, sleeping, and belly rubs. 

He's had his first round of shots and dewormer, sleeps all day and partly through the night, and managed to stay home in the laundry room during work on Monday and not wreak too much havoc.

He's a little timid to start, but once he explores new places he turns into a romping machine. He met Pippin the Puggle and had some good play time on Sunday. No fear of other dogs, which bodes well for running out all that energy at the dog park.

What a great bundle of love to bring home. Welcome, Hoyt.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Roxborough Dolman

If you read my blog on my actual website, you may have noticed that the "current project" hasn't changed in over two years. I have completed SO MANY other projects in the mean time, but they were short or secret and couldn't be added to list. Or I was away from the blog and just forgot to update. But that one was still languishing on the needles.

I started it on the train to Montana in 2012. I remember because it was my birthday and I was so stoked to be knitting my first "modern" sweater with really great yarn. Then I worked on it during field work all summer at Lake Cushman doing traffic surveys, and at Lake Kokanee and Alder Lake doing creel. I got distracted with beer koozies and husky hats during the fall, but picked it up again in the spring and got to the armpits.

By July 2013, I had finished the body and was working on the neck ribbing. By mid-July, all it needed was ribbing around the arm holes.

Then it got put in a bag. The bag got put in a box. The box got moved from the apartment to the house. The bag got unpacked and shoved into a basket, never to be seen again....


I was thinking about starting a sweater I bought yarn for a year ago (hush), but decided I had to finish the dolman first.  On Sunday night I pulled it out, found the right size needles, and got to work. Three hours, some really weird armpit measurements, and two youtube videos later, both sleeve ribbings were completed. Monday night the ends got sewn in and it went in the bath for blocking.

OMG I love it.

It's awesome. It's SO SOFT. And so comfy. And the colors are perfect.

My only complaint is that when I blocked it the whole thing loosened up a bit. Not unexpected, but the waistband doesn't hug my hips quite as much any more and it's a little bit longer (pictures are pre-blocking). But that's totally my fault for knitting a gauge swatch but not washing it. Live and learn.

I wore it to work on Wednesday and it was so warm and cozy and perfect for an early fall day. LOVE.

Pattern: Roxborough Dolman, by Courtney Kelley
Yarn: Fibre Company, Canopy Fingering in River Dolphin and Aloe
Needles: US 3 and US 5 24" circs, plus DPN for sleeves

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Stitch Fix Number 3

I got my third box from Stitch Fix on Saturday while I was out of town for field work. I was kinda pissed it came early (I had scheduled it for Tuesday) since you only have three days to respond and I didn't think I would be home until Monday. But when I logged in to my account I saw I had until Friday to respond and send stuff back. OK, my frustrations were smoothed. No problemo.

Then I opened the box. Oh dear.

You have the option of writing a note to your stylist when you schedule your fix, so I left a note asking for a dress to wear to my upcoming rehearsal dinner, or comfy travel clothes to wear on our honeymoon to Banff and Jasper.

Here is what I got:

Coral Dress - $58

Oh dear. I giggled. It was a sad giggle. I was wearing a gunny sack. There is no joy when you are wearing a gunny sack. I like coral. I like crochet. BUT. I like shape to my clothing, too. Nope nope nope. Alan said "Hard Pass" with a grimace on his face.

Racer Back Tank - $48

Meh. It was ok. It was a blouse. It was striped. High low. I'm not all that enamored with racer back shirts in general. I don't like having to find a special bra. But this was too expensive for a meh tank. Pass.

Loretta Crochet Detail Cap-Sleeve Blouse - $48

I liked this just fine. It wasn't fantastic. But it was a style that I can wear to work. I liked the crochet detail along the neck. I think that the side seams were sewn so that it balloons out a bit before coming back in. On my hips that meant that it bagged, but maybe that was intentional?

Black embroidered blouse - $48

This fit. Just like everything else. If nothing I am super impressed with how well everything I have gotten has actually been my size. It may not be my style or my fit, etc. but everything has for the most part been the correct size. This top was super see-through, which is not a deal breaker. But there were two seams running down from the edges of the embroidered section that puckered. I'm sure it was an intentional design feature. However, it looked... I don't know, silly. Baggy. Like maybe I was pregnant. Something not good, at any rate. Sent back.

Jacket - $88

I laughed out loud. Not the sad giggle of the dress, but the full out laugh of a ridiculous fitting jacket. I tried tightening to drawstring waist to no avail. It was still just a big baggy jacket. I kind of felt like I was back in middle school wearing clothes that didn't fit. Not waterproof enough to wear in the rain. I guess practical if it's cool out but not cold. But ugh. Just not for me. Alan laughed when he saw it, too.

I tried wearing it unzipped, too. Alan said it made me sassy.

To be honest, I have a mental picture of someone this jacket would be perfect for, but that person was just NOT me.

All in all, I was pretty disappointed with this fix. With my other two I've loved at least something. The first fix I got that dress that's fantastic. I've worn it at least three times since I got it. And the coral cardigan? Tons. The second fix I kept the blue and white diagonal stripe three quarter sleeve blouse. It's been hot so I've only worn it once, but I got a couple compliments on it that day. It fit great.I also got a cotton dress I liked in the second fix.  I didn't keep it because I had just bought a similar dress like two weeks before I got my fix, but it fit like a glove and was totally my style. What the heck went wrong with this fix?

Think I'll be taking a break from Stitch Fix for a while. Maybe I'll give it another shot in November.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Weekend Work

I have to say I had a very productive weekend. It followed a very unproductive week due to recovering from my bachelorette weekend.

Two ingredient chocolate buttercream frosting

I had to try this buttercream because it sounded so easy. You melt a bag of chocolate chips with a pound of butter. Just roll with the amount of butter and save the dieting for later. Refrigerate until hard, then return to room temperature. Beat in a mixer for 2 minutes on medium speed and it magically turns from firm buttery chocolate to whipped light and fluffy chocolate icing. It worked. It was miraculous and amazing. And.... salty. Unfortunately I didn't have any unsalted butter on hand so I used the two sticks of salted I had in the freezer (I only made half a batch). While it was super light and fluffy, it is also inedibly salty. Combine that with the failed "healthy" cake I frosted and it was a gross dessert. Into the trash it went. BUT! The fluffy frosting did indeed fluffy and frost quite nicely, so I would try it again with unsalted butter.

Blind Hem

Bought my first maxi dress and it was too long by a couple of inches. But it is the only maxi dress I've ever tried on and actually liked, so I bought it with the intention to hem it myself.  Mom suggested I do a blind hem, something I hadn't ever done before. After looking it up on YouTube and in my two sewing books, I pulled out the machine to test it. SCCCCREEEAAAAACH. Something desperately needed oiling. It probably took me two hours to get the thing open, cleaned out, oiled, and back in somewhat working order. So much for taking the dress with me to Leavenworth last weekend! On Friday I had the time to sit down and actually sew the dress hem. Took some finagling to get the folds right, but success! I wore it Saturday to a baby shower and it was perfect.

Deviled Dinosaur Eggs

Speaking of the baby shower, it had a dinosaur theme, so I made deviled dinosaur eggs. So easy and fun. After they are cooked, you just crack the shell and drop the eggs in food coloring. Dye seeps in through the cracks and colors just the cracks of the eggs. Cute!

Lettuce Harvest

My lettuce was bolting so I harvested as much as I could. I left a few head of romaine that were still doing ok, and a few heads that were flowering so I could save some seeds. Aside from that, this is the results of 5 squares of lettuce. I didn't pull up the plants in hopes that they might sprout again in the cool damp weather we've having this week. I cleaned it all and there was mass genocide of spiders. If you judge a yard by insect diversity my yard is VERY healthy.


Several weeks later and we finally put the first coat of paint on the new bookshelves. They look SO GOOD. I'm so excited to actually start using them. They need at least one more coat of paint, then I've heard the shelves should "cure" for 14-30 days before putting anything on them, otherwise they can be a bit "tacky". I can't wait to get my basement back to working order.

And, I finished a knitting project, but it is still blocking and I didn't take a picture. So productive!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Stitch Fix Number 2

Came home from field work on Wednesday to another StitchFix box on my porch!

I got two blouses, two dresses, and earrings.

I started with the blouses. I could tell from the pictures on my style card that it was going to be too blousey for me.

(Please ignore the messy dresser in the background of all my pictures....)

 Blanchette Tie-Neck Peasant Blouse  - $64

That's a nope. Too see-through and just too big and baggy. Apparently blouses have to be cut just right for them to work on me.

Blouse number two, however, I really  liked.

Filbert Abstract Striped Henley Blouse - $54

I guess I'm just a sucker for 3/4 length sleeves. But this top had some fun details and totally wasn't baggy like the other one, so I dug it.

Dress number one.... Ugh.

Harriet Chevron Print Detail Dress - $64

I don't know how you can call something with so much chevron pattern boring, but this actually really was. The skirt either should have been fuller and more of an A-line, or a bit more fitted. Just a no. Nope nope nope.

Dress number two was such a Robyn dress.

Spensur Striped Jersey Dress - $54

A-line (which I guess people are now calling a fit and flare??) with a fun striped pattern. Yup, definitely something I would wear. However I'm kind of debating on this one because the material is just basic cotton and I just bought something really similar from Loft.... This dress, but obviously not the maternity version. It's even two shades of blue, too. I'll have to try on them both tonight to decide if I should have both in my closet.

The earrings were another no.

Adele Hoop & Stone Earring - $32

I didn't take a picture of them, but here's a link to someone else's blog that got them in their Fix.

So, I think this time I'll be keeping one shirt and maybe one dress, which is about what I kept last time. While I might not have been as impressed with this box as my first one, I still think it's a lot of fun. The anticipation of getting a box and the excitement of opening it to see what they sent you might be worth spending a few extra bucks on a shirt. It's the experience! But I think I'll wait a few months before my next fix. I can't imagine getting a monthly box at these prices. All of my shopping budget would be blown and I wouldn't be able to stop at the Rack on a whim on my way home to pick up something random. Heaven forbid I not be able to impulse buy at the Rack!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Radishes bolted

I have been harvesting lettuce like crazy. I pick a little here, a little there, and let it regrow.  It's still growing strong.

My radishes, however, have all started to bolt. The french breakfast radishes did great and were actually edible, but my scarlet globe radishes all started to bolt before they bulbed up into anything edible. I ended up pulling all of my radishes since it's starting to really heat up. I plan on filling those squares with more lettuce, some carrots, and maybe some fall kale.

Speaking of kale, the kales I have in the raised beds are also growing really well. Not yet of a size I can harvest, but almost. I had two kale plants that were still in small pots from my early seed starting that I just planted in pots and place along the outside edge of the beds.

My summer savory has been growing in mats.  Unlike my thyme, which had about two seeds that germinated in the beds. The thyme seeds did fine in pots, but failed when planted in the ground. I tried to plants some seeds in my herb garden, but none of them germinated.

And, new this week: A fence!

Seems pretty dang stable. I think more birds are perching on the chain link than did on the wire fence.

We haven't talked to the side neighbors about replacing that fence yet, but they did mention that they are paying someone to put in two terraces in their backyard this summer. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that part of that landscaping is removing all the blackberries and other weeds growing in the corner. Keep those blackberries off my property!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

MG Planting

Last Sunday we hit the King County Master Gardener Spring Plant Sale. I was a lot of fun. There were vendors from nurseries lining a walkway and a couple of big tents where the Master Gardeners sold all their starts. I did my part supporting the MGs by purchasing several plants for the front bed.  I talked with the nursery people and got some suggestions for what to plant in the dry shade under our Doug fir. I just got them all planted this afternoon.

I don't have pictures of them, but I bought two different kinds of Rudbekia species and planted them along the sidewalk. And, in the corner by the driveway, I planted the shasta daisies I inherited from Alan's aunt.

Of my plants from the MG sale, I got a hosta "June", which I was told the slugs really like, so I might have to keep an eye on it.

Apparently hostas grow really well anywhere ferns grow. So if we don't take out any trees I might have to buy a few more to replace some of our failing shrubs.

I got three Epimedium x veriscolor "Sulphureum".

We planted them on the downhill side of the slope with the hope that they would spread a little and cover more of the space. One or two of the plants at the show still had flowers on them. They were small, but cute. We were going for more of the green ground cover effect than for the flowers.

We also got one Disporum smithii to plant in deeper shade back towards the tree.

The plant card says it's one of the "greats" for dry shade! Sturdy and pest free.  Again, hopefully it will spread in clumps and take up some of the newly exposed planting area.

As you can see in the first picture, there is still a TON of exposed ground. I'm going to sign up for Chip Drop and see if I can't get a free delivery of some wood chips to cover the soil. I'm also going to beg and plead for some alpine strawberries from a couple people we know when the strawberries start sending out runners later this year.

As for the veggies garden, the radishes and lettuce are growing like crazy.

My neighbor was kind of in awe of all the growth. They have new raised beds in front of their west facing house. Their beds get a lot more sunlight than ours, but their seeds are barely up. Maybe spending all that money investing in the compost/vermiculite/peat moss mix was really worth it! From seed I have radishes, lettuce, carrots, and summer savory all growing. The thyme is just starting to sprout, which surprises me since the summer savory is growing in MATS already.  Three kinds of kale and a broccoli got planted a while ago and are slowly doing their thing. And just today I planted a Sungold and Nova tomato. I'm saving a square for a jalapeno, but the rest of the tomatoes and the other peppers will all go in pots.

I gave away three tomatoes and some kale to Sarah, and another tomato to my neighbor. We can test the sun vs soil debate!

I've been doing a decent job identifying all the plants in the yard. This is my current plant project. It's the shrub next to the raised beds along the fence.

To the Sunset Western Garden Book!!