My First Lesson in Crocheting

I have found many fun patterns and knitting pattern books that also require you to have a background in crocheting. I decided that it was time for me to give it a try. After Christmas, armed with my gift card from Mom and Dad, I went to Jo-Ann to sign up for two classes. I signed up for Crochet 101 and Cake Decorating Basics. (I’ll let you know how the cake decorating class goes in a couple weeks.)

I was a bit unsure how the lesson was going to go as I’ve never taken a class at Jo-Ann before. When I was taught how to knit, it was by someone that I already knew and someone that I knew would be incredibly patient with me when I got confused and frustrated.  (Erin is awesome!!!!)

All in all, it was not too bad.  It was a nice basic intro to crochet.  However, I still need a lot of practice and tutoring.  I’m kind of stuck because I am definitely not ready for the next step up at Jo-Ann.  However, I won’t be able to self-teach myself or self-correct myself.  Perhaps, one of the lovely ladies in my family who all seem to know how to crochet will take pity on me and give me free lessons……..

In the meantime, crocheting is kind of weird.  And it definitely feels weird now that I’ve been knitting as long as I have.  The motions feel odd.  But, I do think that with a great tutor and a lot of practice, this could be something that I could get in to.

What I accomplished tonight:

My blob of crochet

The Comforting Power of a Bowl of Rice

When we were little, there were many days when we would stumble down the stairs for breakfast and on the stove there would be a giant pot of rice.  We would then add cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and milk to our pile of rice.  This really was one of my favorite breakfasts.  Simple.  Warm.  Comforting.

Yum, yum, yum.

To this day, when I want something to eat that is filling and comforting, I’ll make myself some rice so that I can cover it with the perfect amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and milk.  It wasn’t until I was a lot older, probably not until I moved away to go to school, that I realized that this was not something that everyone ate.  But, I’m sure that everyone has that one food that might be a little different but is incredibly comforting.

When you want some comfort food, what do you reach for?

Blogging…blogging…blogging

During the last few months of 2010, my blog started to become less and less active.  In an effort to keep that from happening in 2011, I am taking on the challenge of blogging at least once a week.

January is almost over and I’ve been able to keep it up so far…..

So, keep your fingers crossed that I can see this through…..

Puck is unimpressed....but he doesn't even read my blog.

A Scarf for Ryan – Update #6

Oh, will I ever finish this scarf? It seems a bit doubtful but I am determined.  I am also determined to finish this asap because I know of two babies who will be born this year and I need to start figuring out how to make piles of baby stuff.

I had a lot to get done this weekend but somehow finished it all Sunday afternoon!  I’m pretty impressed with myself.  The good thing is, everything was done.  The even better thing is, now I was able to get some knitting done!

After a Sunday evening and a Monday afternoon of knitting, I actually am beginning to think that I might finish this scarf!  And I might finish it on time for Ryan to actually use it during the winter!

The scarf so far:

Cats are Horrible at Organizing

It never fails. As soon as there is an open box somewhere in the apartment, there will quickly be a cat in that box. And if that box is something that you need to work with soon, then jumping into that box will be the fastest movement that that cat makes during the day.

This was the case after I bought some new boxes to store Christmas stuff. As you can see, Buddy had no interest in helping me to clean up.

Come on, Buddy. It's not yours!

And…Christmas is Gone….Mostly

So, I was determined to get Christmas taken down today. And now, the living room floor is covered with boxes that Ryan will eventually put away on shelves that I can’t reach. I love seeing the floor covered with Christmas boxes in November. But seeing the boxes all over the floor now? It’s just kind of depressing.

*sigh* There goes Christmas.....

Next year, I am buying a new crazy tree. This year crazy tree started to lean more and more. Plus, each branch held an average of three ornaments so we probably need to upgrade to a larger tree.  But as I was putting stuff in boxes and sealing the boxes shut for another year I realized something.  It looks like crazy tree is going to have one more night of Christmas glory.

Why?
Well, I’ve run out of boxes and I still have a bag full of ornaments that need a box and I have five strings of lights that also need somewhere to go. Instead of having piles of lights on the floor, I think that I’ll just leave them on the tree for one more night.  Should I actually take the tree down and just put the lights and ornaments somewhere?  Probably.  But, I’ve made my decision.  One more night of festivity instead of four nights of untangling lights that were left on the floor.

Plus, crazy tree looks nice.  Even without any ornaments.

Yes, those are bubble lights and flamingo lights. Yes, crazy tree is awesome.

Monkey Bread!

As can be see from past postings, when I get an idea in my head I can be very stubborn. On Christmas Day, I started planning our food for New Year’s Day brunch. For some reason, monkey bread popped into my head. It’s been years since I had monkey bread and I never actually made it. My mom would make it from time to time when we were younger and I remember it being insanely delicious. I also remember we would call it monkey brains.

Monkey brains. It doesn’t sound very appetizing. However, monkey bread? That doesn’t actually sound very delicious either.

Bread made out of monkeys? Bread made for monkeys? No. Store bought biscuits covered in sugar and cinnamon. I guess that that is too long of a name.

I found a recipe on Food Network and I thought that I would give it a try.  You can find the recipe here if you want to try this one as well.  And, I recommend that you give it a try.  It’s super easy and ends up being simply delicious.  Bread.  Sugar.  Cinnamon.  Brown sugar.  Butter.  How could it not be delicious?

Can't. Resist. .....Must. Eat. More.

Nothing to Trifle With….Or, New Year’s Trifle

My mom would make a trifle every year for brunch on New Year’s Day.  This is a tradition that I have stuck to for my own New Year’s brunch.  This year’s trifle was a bit different, however.  One of the reasons that I love trifle is that it is so incredibly easy.  You can essentially make a trifle by adding in whatever flavors you want.

To make a big bowl of trifle:

Gather your ingredients.  Cake, pudding, juice, preserves, almonds.  Usually, my mom uses sponge cake for her trifle.  In years past, I have bought either a sponge cake or a pound cake from the store.  This year, there was neither sponge cake nor pound cake to be had so I purchased an angel food cake.  Ryan said that this was his favorite trifle thus far because of the angel food cake.  So, don’t be afraid to experiment to find what you like the best.

1) Cut the cake in half going across.  Spread jam or preserves on the top of the bottom piece.  Be sure to spread a thick layer.  The preserves add a lot of great flavor to your trifle.  I used raspberry preserves but again, you could use whatever you have on hand or whatever flavor you like the best.  Put the top half back on.  Essentially you are frosting the middle of the cake with jam or preserves.

2) Cut the cake into chunks and place in the bottom of a pretty bowl.  It is important to use a pretty glass or clear plastic bowl since this ends up being such a pretty dessert full of yummy layers.

3) Sprinkle the cake chunks with some orange juice.  You could also use an alcoholic beverage like sherry, rum, or brandy.

4) Top this with pudding.  My mom always used french vanilla pudding, however, I couldn’t find that at the store this year so I just used regular vanilla pudding.

5) At this point, you can add some fresh whipped cream to the top. (I skipped that this year.)

6) Top with some toasted almonds.  I recommend not skipping this step as the almonds add a nice crunchy texture to a mostly mushy dessert.  However, you don’t have to use almonds.  You can use whatever nuts you have on hand.  Perhaps a handful of crushed cookies might be nice, too.

7) Eat and enjoy!

This trifle is not going to last very long......

Holiday Desserts Round Four – Cheater’s Croquembouche

Whenever I have seen a croquembouche, I have thought to myself “Man, that sure looks like a lot of work.”  But they are always very elegant and fun looking.  I’m sure that all of the work is worthwhile.  I found two recipes that I might try at some point in my life.  There is a yummy recipe from Martha Stewart and one from Food Network recipe from Gale Gand.

I wanted something fun for our New Year’s Day Brunch and wanted something with a little bit of drama.  I thought that a croquembouche might be a nice touch, but I really didn’t want to put in all  of that effort.  OK.  Call me lazy.  Go ahead.  Lazy is a name that I will always answer to.  An episode of Katie Brown Workshop gave me the answer to my dilemma.  Make a croquembouche without actually making a croquembouche.

Remember when all of the television sets went digital?  And you had to buy a new antenna for any tv that wasn’t connected to a cable box?  Well, since the move to digital, the television in the bedroom only consistently gets Fox or PBS.  Thankfully, PBS has the Create Channel and it was on this channel that I discovered the Katie Brown Workshop.  Katie Brown is kind of like the simpler-I-could-do-that version of Martha Stewart.  And on a recent episode, she made a croquembouche that wasn’t.

I decided to give it a try.  You can find the recipe on her website here.  Essentially, after wrapping a styrofoam cone in parchment paper,  you stab toothpicks onto styrofoam and then stab a donut onto that toothpick.

It was really easy to put together.  However, although it is kind of fun it actually looks kind of silly.  I guess this is one of those things that you can’t actually duplicate without actually making the real thing.