Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Kick Off

Yes my dear friends, it is that time of year again.
That glorious time of year where we indulge in the graces of times past and catch up with old friends like Fanny Price, Emma Woodhouse, the Dashwood sisters, and the Bennets. 
It is Jane Austen January at last!

My sister Ginan came up with this idea a few years ago, and I could not be more happy.  It is simply genius.  In order to ward off the inevitable blah feeling that comes when the (official) holidays are over, she suggests that the month of January be spent in the most noble pursuit of all things Jane Austen related.  In honor of this happy tradition, I am committed to share with you via this blog all of my doings this month.  I am also committing to this because of my shaming lack of posts since before Thanskgiving.  My appologies.

It was also this time of year that I bought my first "Jane Austen Knits" magazine and I've been too intimidated by it to attempt anything from it for two.  whole.  years.  However, with the spirit of JAJ in heart, I am going to attempt one of the patterns.  Lord help me.  This lovely scarf on the cover will be my attempt, as I got a small skein of yarn of the correct weight from Ginan for Christmas.  Serendipity, perhaps?

It is also a time to embrace practices from that time, such as knitting or crocheting, reading, and drinking tea!  Not that I really limit myself to those practices for only January.  Who could do that?!  But it is more accepted when linked with the time of Jane Austen.  Or so I tell myself. 

I'm pondering whether to pace or gorge.  Let's see... there are four more full weeks left in the month of January, and six original books. But there are also countless movies, spin-offs, miniseries', etc!  I think I'm going to try to read and watch some new things alongside the old stand by's.  I'll keep you posted. 

If you decide to join me in Jane Austen January, please please leave comments of your doings on my posts!  I would love to know what other takes on this 'holiday' there may be =)

Love and affection,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Interest of Pinterest

These days, if Husband sees me scrolling through my phone for more than 10 minutes, he doesn't even bother to ask.  He knows I'm on Pinterest.

I only really started with the Pinterest addiction when they came out with the mobile app, which I immediately downloaded and haven't really stopped using since.  You can find everything on there!!

So, when I made an amazing meal last night, I thought to myself, I should share this with the masses, a la Pinterest. How many more times can I say Pinterest in this post...?

Kinda Sorta Ratatouille Soup

So, I had an extra eggplant.  And I figured, ratatouille would be a good way to use it.  Never having made it before, I gathered the following ingredients:

Eggplant (already had it)
Chicken stock
Herbs de Provence
Center cut bacon

Now, I know traditional ratatouille is a vegetarian dish.  I did not marry a vegetarian, however.
I peeled the eggplant (the skin is tough and bitter, no thank you) and cubed it.
Sliced the squash and zucchini, quartering as needed to be about the same size as the eggplant cubes.
Let the bacon do its thing in the pan.  I took it out, leaving the fat (because it's center cut, it's much meatier and has less fatty, yay) and drained on paper towels, later cutting it up into smaller pieces and adding it into the stew.  All the veg get sauteed in the bacony goodness, with the Herbs de Provence and some chicken stock.  This was where I put it in the crock pot and also where I added the secret ingredient:

Ready to eat Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup in a box.
Let me explain.  I love tomatoes, but I hate the seeds and the skin, and sometimes canned tomatoes taste really flat to me.  This way, I killed two birds with one stone, not having to roast the red peppers myself, either.  I used the whole box.

On my way home from work, I was thinking about how big the chunks of veggies are, even cut down, and wondering how one would fit all the flavors on the spoon, as I like to do.  The answer came in the form of my immersion blender.

Once the soup has been in the crock pot for about 3 hours on high, BLEND UNTIL SMOOTH!!!  It makes an amazingly creamy, savory soup.  I topped with a sprinkle of cheese and a crumble of bacon, and baked potato on the side (which I broke up and ate in the soup).  Husband and I consumed and adored.  It's definitely going into my Arsenal of Awesome Meals to Make, and a crock pot one, at that.

I didn't take pictures because, well, it was late and it's a pureed soup (not the prettiest), and also there's no "Taste Here" option on the blog, so pictures wouldn't really help.  But for real.  This is delicious, easy, filling, and get this:

155 calories a serving.  YUM.

Let me know if you try it and also love it =)

Happy soup-ing and lots of love,

Friday, September 7, 2012

Catching Up and Whatnot

Hello, faithful readers!

It's been a while... I've had a busy summer and am so looking forward to fall!  It seems we've been out and about most weekends and that makes time go very quickly!  Thankfully, we've gotten some great time with family and friends, and a lot of time in the car (which is great for us!). Long stretches of time together with no interruptions are the stuff of dreams.  We find tons of ways to enjoy those car rides, first of which is just being together.  We're visiting more friends this weekend (5 hour car ride, yessss!) and next weekend we're going apple picking with The Sisters (and Rick-In-Law!). 

Apple picking... apple donuts... apple cider... apple slushie... caramel apple... apples are a wonder.

Mama taught me how to make preserves this summer, woo!  I made a batch of peach with her and am really, really looking forward to making and canning apple butter from our bountiful harvest next weekend.  Cinnamony goodness all locked up in a jar.  Delish.

Etsy store not so good.  I feel like I'd be better off just posting things here and whoever wanted one could just email me.  Hey, that's not such a bad idea...

Also, I'm addicted to Pinterest.  I want to try everything I find there. 

In other news, BABIES.  Ginan and Rick-In-Law are pregnant!  I even taught myself how to knit with DPN's for the occasion! (That's double-pointed needles for all you non-knitters out there ;) I'm making them all kinds of goodies, and since we don't know the gender (yet!) it's all in lovely, soft neutral colors.  Plus, that way they can use it for other babies.  Because there will be more.  There better be... ::glare::

So, I'll try posting more pictures of my projects here and we'll see how it goes.  Mostly, I'm just loving learning so many different techniques and patterns and making up my own stuff.  It's great fun. =)

Lots of love, and I promise not to stay away for that long again,

p.s. new tattoo ideas abound.  I am a living canvas.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mad Hatter Knittery

I'm doing it.
I'll be opening my Etsy shop this month.

Hurrah!! =)

I'm so excited and quite a bit scared!  I've spent most of the last few weeks going like crazy to make up enough things to put in the store, take pictures, obsess and such.  I'm not there all the way yet, but hopefully by the end of the month, I'll be in business!  My shop name is, if you haven't guessed already, the Mad Hatter Knittery.  I almost named THIS blog that, but am kinda glad I didn't now.  Here's the story of the Etsy Journey.

Sister Ro recently became a jeweler for Premier Designs Jewelry, an AWESOME company with fabulous jewelry that, were I not on a budget, I would be addicted to.  For their hostesses (and for games at the jewelry parties) it is typical for the jeweler to give a gift.  Ro wanted to really customize hers and talked to me about commissioning some of my coasters.  I of course agreed!  She mentioned it to some of the other jewelers in her area and they all really loved the idea, which got me thinking hey!  I could be a Premier Designs Hostess Gift designer, how fun!  Well, from there, I mentioned that I'd been thinking about opening an Etsy store for my handmade items and Ro was super supportive, giving me all kinds of ideas and how much giving things away as gifts would help "get my name out".  So, I started to amass marketable items.  I am really, really looking forward to seeing how everything goes.  And a little nervous. =P 
So, that's the news right now, and why I've been a little absent. Hopefully, I am forgiven.
Love you, my supportive readers,
(and remember, Mad Hatter Knittery items make GREAT gifts! =P)


Monday, April 9, 2012

Little Baby Things

I am enjoying making the bibs a lot. I'll finish #2 today and begin the booties. I also attempted a design that I created after seeing a picture of a knitted daisy baby toy. I knew I couldn't knit it (as I am a visual learner and haven't been able to teach myself knitting-in-the-round with double-pointed needles), but I figured I could give it a shot with crochet. I only looked at the picture for guidelines; the pattern is my own! I am so please with how it turned out. I may make one for Hermione to destroy, but put some crumpled paper in it as stuffing, thanks to Husband's suggestion. She loves anything that crinkles. =P
Husband took a long weekend for Easter, and I am finding myself missing him a little more than I usually do come Monday. We got spoiled with seeing each other so much for the long weekend!
As Sunday was our 6 month, I was sorely tempted to break into our frozen cupcakes intended to be eaten in another 6 months. Instead, I found a really cool, 5-minute microwave chocolate cake recipe you make in a mug. A mug! It's such a find, I'll share the original with you along with my modifications in ().

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbs whisked egg
3 tbs milk
3 tbs oil (I used applesauce)
3 tbs chocolate chips or broken-up candy bar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine first 4 ingredients together in a large coffee mug; add egg and combine intil paste forms. Stir in milk and oil (applesauce), then chocolate chips and vanilla. (I did this whole process in a seperate bowl and poured the mixture into a mug sprayed with cooking spray. It turned out much better this way and even though you're using more dishes, it's an easier cleanup in the long run.)
2. Microwave on medium for 3 minutes, until cake starts to crown over top of mug (with applesauce, it looks more like a soufflé!). Remove, top with chocolate sauce or ice cream if desired, and enjoy!

It's like a 5-minute cup of browny, fudgy, gooey goodness. You will not be disappointed! I got it from this month's Reader's Digest.

I hope you're enjoying the pictures of my things! And for real, try the micro-cake. It's a winner.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

The bag of wonders!

I finished my fantastic purse and I'm in love! I found the pattern for free on It's called "mermaid tears purse".
The body was made with yarn Ginan and Rick-in-law got me for a birthday present from a trip to Ashville. How thoughtful! And what better way to put it in use?
I love this purse! The pattern was a beast to get into, but it goes smoothly once you get the hang of it. I love the staggered leaf-like effect. It would be so easy to make a different purse for every season just by changing the colors. This one is obviously for summer! I'm a little odd when it comes to color combinations, so I love the bright pop of color from the crocheted bloom. I made another sample in more muted colors (dusky pink body with a neutral brown top and straps) but still went bold with a mustard colored bloom that looks like a breathtaking chrysanthemum. I followed the original pattern for the straps on that one, but for this one, I went for ribbon straps. I happened to have ribbon the exact color of the yarn I used for the top and I love the way it turned out. It's a little tough to photograph, though. =)
Now, I'm working on some baby things for a couple in our small group at church who are expecting their first. I've almost finished a darling cotton bib and will probably make a couple or few; they're an easy and quick project! Next will come booties. They know it's a girl, so that will be fun for colors. I think I'll make some hand rags to go with the bibs for a whole, keep-it-clean-at-meal-times ensemble. I like to make things that work together for gifts. =)
Speaking of gifts, sister gifts for birthdays are coming along well. I'm a little iffy on the colors for Ro's. I wanted them to be uniform but ran out of certain shades of colors, so now it's very unique. Ha ha!
I am getting into new patterns so much! Since making the bag, I feel like I'm addicted to trying new patterns. I mean, if I can make the mermaid purse turn out the first time, I feel invincible to any new project's complicatedness!
Too bad I can't think of anything knit/crochet that Husband would want/need since his birthday is coming up... Men are difficult to make or buy gifts for! I'll think of something. I'd also like to make Hermione something to welcome her into the family and make her feel awesome. I did make her a little mouse toy with a loooooong tail that she loves. Perhaps a collar, now? Another toy? Decisions...
This Sunday is not only Easter, but marks our 6th month of married life. We're halfway through our first year, can you believe it? =) I can't imagine how it'll be when it's been 6 YEARS together - and that's not even that long of a time, comparative to the rest of our lives. How exciting, this journey. =)

Lots of love (and feedback always welcome)

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Big Announcement

I have a rather huge announcement to make, one that will change our lives (and our family's lives) forever. We've known for about a month now, so it's time to share the news.

We will be adding to our little family. The two of us will now be three!

It's one of the biggest decisions we've made since getting married. And it's finally official.

Her name is Hermione.
She is a rescue cat that I absolutely fell in love with on a trip to Petsmart for a filter for my fish tank, of all things. All the little rescue kitties were there that day and so sad in their cages. I saw her and put my hand through the bars and started scratching her head. She looked at me with these beautiful sad eyes and I knew. I looked at her name and I knew again. It took a LOT of convincing with Nick, and even more for me, because I've always been allergic to cats, and two trips back to Petsmart to make sure she was still there. But there was just no way we were going to let her get away!Turns out that when I'm the one in charge of keeping hair and dander under control, I do pretty well with a regular allergy pill. She is one quirky "lil' lady", as we've taken to calling her. Here, she is laying on a book - a favorite past time of hers, especially when it's open in your lap and you're reading a really good part. She'll climb up and rest herself on those paper pages and purr and purr. She also loves shoes. We keep our shoes by the door, and more often than not, she is there, in the shoes, when we come in. Or even just for an afternoon nap. She is very vocal, which I think is adorable. She gets a little grumpy when she's hungry and is more liable to bite then, too (like owner like pet, much?).
The reason I haven't posted about her yet was because we were only fostering her to see how things would work out. But now, we've paid the pet fee for our apartment and set the date for her adoption, so I'm free to post!If you can't tell by the pictures, she's a LOVELY dusty grey color, with splotches of this gorgeous melon orange color. The fur pattern is what they call "Tortoise" (she is dilute), which is like a Calico, but with no white whatsoever. There also really isn't a pattern, but she has a beautiful melon patch right above her eyes and between her ears on her sweet face. I am so smitten with this kitty.

On other matters, I figured out how to upload pictures! Ha! =D

I found a pattern for an amazing crochet purse that I made a sample of, and am now making one for myself. It uses a crocodile stitch, which I'd never done or even heard of before, but there was a video tutorial for basically the entire process of the purse. So I watched that, and it turned out so beautifully. I don't have a picture of it yet, but I will. Now that I know how to do it, I'll have pictures for everything! Yay! =)

Gifts for sisters coming along beautifully. I am so pleased and excited!

You also can't imagine how difficult it can be to be a knitter/crocheter with a cat who is crazy for yarn, any time it moves. I have to be very sneaky when I work on my projects now, because more times than not, as soon as I jerk the yarn my way, she pounces! But, it's a small sacrifice to make to have such a sweet kitty as part of our home and family.

More another time, but couldn't wait any longer to share in our joy. =)

Lots of love,
Bianca (and Hermione. She also loves to walk on the keyboard when I'm typing. Thank God for backspace. =P)