Monday, February 28, 2011

the goose loves food

This weekend was horrendously cold and wet. So what better to do than make tasty goodies in the warm kitchen? :) Also, Billy's dad Bill has visited us this past weekend, so we had to treat him to a good time.

We started the morning with mini quiches, bacon, and a new attempt of mine - pop tarts!

Sure, we've all had the cardboard-like, overly sweet version of the breakfast "pastry" from the box, but have you had a home-made pop tart yet? They are both easy and delicious!!

Here they are cooling, before I frosted them. (Sorry, they were too tasty to photograph after they were frosted...!)

For dinner, we decided to make a traditional curry recipe that Bill's family started eating when they lived in Saudi Arabia years ago. We decided to primarily follow Billy's mom's recipe.

Here's the boys, ready for dinner!

Billy made a cardamom rice to go with the curry - here's the beginning of it...
And the finished product! Yum... nice job Billy...
The curry itself is pretty basic - saute onions, brown chicken breasts, then cook them in a sauce of chicken broth, curry powder, flour, and cayenne powder. Here it is, simmering in goodness!
Per family tradition, various "condiments" are prepared to go alongside the curry. Everyone can pick their own toppings, but most people use almost all of them. It seems like it wouldn't work, but the various textures and tastes really make the curry pop. Here are our condiments - yellow and green onions, coconut, pineapple, tomatoes, chopped peanuts, and crispy onion straws.
And the final result - nice hot curry on my plate, pre-condiments!
Bill was very pleased with the result, and we all ate more than we needed. It's probably not an everyday dinner for Billy and me, since the prep is rather involved, but it'll be great for company and welcoming the McWoods to our house! :)

And now, a little teaser photo...

Tune in soon for the details on this cutie...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

the goose loves weekends

I know it's Wednesday already, but I am already (still?) dreaming about the weekend, and have pictures to share from last weekend, so today we're talking about Saturday & Sunday.
Weekends should come more often - that's for sure.

Billy had to work EARLY on Saturday morning, so we got up (I dropped him off so I could have the car!) and drove through the icy morning to UP. After getting back home, I took Bentley for an early morning walk - burn off some of his energy first thing! I put his hunting jacket on since it was COLD that morning!
We walked around for almost 30 minutes, Bentley tasted almost everything on the ground, and did his potty business too. We also practiced our good behavior skills, like sitting and laying down when asked and stopping for a sit at every corner. He did alright. :)
The rest of the day was busy (for me) and lazy (for Bentley). I had some cleaning/organizing to do, in preparation for Billy's dad and my sister coming this next weekend. So I did dishes, cleaned counters, cleaned bathrooms, etc. Not fun. But I did get some snuggly time on the couch with my puppy! He's working on his bone in this one. (Thanks for the PJs, Jackie!!)
By that time, Bentley was pretty tired out from playing, eating, playing, laying on the ground, finding things to get into, and eating, so he was ready for a nap. Sleepy?
I think so.
Unfortunately, I still had plenty of work to do, so I didn't get my nap in...
Luckily, Billy didn't have to work at all on Sunday (yay, thanks Bill Reed!) and so we enjoyed a lazy morning together. We had toasted zucchini bread for breakfast - thank you to Carolyn & Jackie for so dutifully decorating the bread with plenty of sprinkles. I also made personal quiches with a crescent-roll crust.... mmmm! Billy had spinach and colby jack in his, and I had zucchini and parmesan. Oh so hot and tasty!
I wish every day was a lazy Sunday...

Friday, February 18, 2011

the goose loves aprons

Finally, here we are! the post you've all been waiting for!

Day 4 of 4: The Finale of the Valentine's Gift: Monika's Apron!!

If you are a dutiful follower, you remember the three "accessory" pieces of this gift - two pot holders and an oven mitt.

But now, for the best part of all!!

I started this apron several weeks ago, and it took me a good week to finish (but I only had evenings, and not every evening, to work on it, so maybe 8-10 hours total?). Although the pattern was hard to follow, it generally came out okay! I won't go into the gory details (my blog might need less text and more photos, I think!).

First, I spent plenty of time cutting out the patterns, pinning them to my fabric in an efficient way, and cutting. Here's a part of that process:
Once my pieces were cut, it was assembly time. I started with the skirt, trimmed the pocket, hemmed the sides, made the waistband, made and attached the bib, added the straps, and it eventually all came together!
Here's the detail on the pocket - I love the lace, and I also added a decorative stich across the top to hem the edge.
The original pattern had a zig-zag in the middle of the skirt all the way across, trimmed with the lace. I thought it looked kinda stupid, so instead, I just connected my two halves (top and bottom sections of skirt) and sewed them together with the same decorative stich as the pocket.
At first, the top bib section seemed very small! But when connected to the rest of it, it came out just fine. My sister is a relatively small person anyways....:)

And then the back - I didn't cross the straps as originally shown in the pattern since I thought I didn't have enough material. It actually would have worked, though.
The reason I didn't send this stuff to my sister in time for Valentine's Day was because I wanted to make sure the apron fit. I measured it to me, but she's a bit smaller than me, so I wasn't 100% sure. And why gift an apron that doesn't fit? So when she comes to visit us next weekend, I'll give it to her, have her try it on, and I'll be ready to fix it to fit her perfectly!

I hope she loves it!

Thanks for sticking in with me while I presented the Valentine's themed bake-wear! :)
Next week will bring more excitement - a quick summary of recent baking and Bentley's latest antics... :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

the goose loves oven mitts

Here we are, over halfway through the Valentine's Day Present Series!

Day 3: The Oven Mitt

After "mastering" the first two pot holders, I decided it was time to up the ante. Bring on the oven mitt!

I still had plenty of red and white fabric, Insul-Bright, and (most importantly!) the ruffly border, so I was all set. I printed out a pattern online and got to work! I cut out two 9" by 15" rectangular pieces of my red and white fabric and two pieces (same size) of Insul-Bright. For the inside of the mitt, I used a red and white fleece leftover from my Christmas stocking. If you don't have fleece, regular fabric will work great. Mine is just super soft inside now! I also cut out two pieces of ruffly border, about an inch longer than the bottom pattern width (the cuff).

Now for the assembly. The basic idea is to make two separate identical pieces (each with three layers - inner fabric, insul-bright, and outer fabric - and ruffles), quilt the three layers together, and then sew the two pieces together in the right shape.

I first centered my ruffly border on my outer fabric, and sewed it on the edge. The fabric was right side up and the ruffles didn't hang over the edge - they were pointed "up" away from the edge of the fabric. This was done twice (once for each side). Then I lined up my insul-bright and inner fabric, and hemmed a short side of the inner fabric over the insul-bright edge on both pieces (this gives you a clean edge, and will sit up against the ruffly border).

Then I pinned my outer fabric right side UP (with ruffles) to my inner fabric right side DOWN (with insul-bright), lining up the bottom edges. Holding the layers together flat, I started to machine quilt - sewing through all 3 layers in a certain pattern to keep them from wiggling away from each other. Instead of vertical or horizontal lines, I followed some of the designs in my red and white fabric. Repeat for the other side.

Once both your sides are lined up and quilted, lay them on top of each other, with outer fabric facing each other (your inner fabric - my fleece - should be facing up at you on one side and facing the table on the other). Once you sew your shape, you're going to turn the whole thing inside out to have clean seams. Put your pattern on top of your fabric stack (face down) and trace with a sharpie, marker, or fabric pen. Make sure your pattern is centered on all layers of fabric, which have a tendency to shift as you machine quilt. Then sew along this line, through all layers of material, starting at one side of the cuff. I also sewed through the ruffles, to make them meet, and reinforced them by backstiching at the top and bottom.

Then turn your mitt inside out (so that the right sides are out) and inspect - any areas need reinforcement? Did the thumb-fingers joint work out? Make sure all stiches are snug!

Finally, with right side out, sew together the cuff (your ruffles haven't been sewn to your fleece-insul-bright layer yet). Sew 1/4" to 1/8" from the edge, sealing in your ruffles and layers.

That's all there is to it! :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

the goose loves ruffles

Valentine's Gift Part 2: The Ruffled Pot-Holder-Trivet

So after making the heart-shaped pot holder mitt, I decided to go more basic, and just make a flat pot holder, also can be used as a trivet. I had some polka dot material and a ruffly border, and decided to stick with the theme of hearts.

With a little patience and diligence, anyone can make this! I started by tracing my heart pattern (used from my first mitt) onto two pieces of fabric (could be matching or different). Then trace the same shape onto your batting (again, I used Insul-Bright for heat protection, and just one layer) and cut all of your pieces out. Since I wanted to use my ruffly border, I decided to do the inside-out method for my edges rather than use bias tape, to make the edges look cleanest.

So sew your ruffly border onto the RIGHT side of your bottom layer of fabric, with the end of your ruffles on the inside (picture yourself turning it inside out at the end, and you want your ruffles to stick out). I started my ruffles at the top of the heart, not sewing too close to the middle, because that's where I'd make the flip. So once you've sewn your border all the way around your heart, take your top layer of fabric and lay it right side DOWN on your existing heart (which is right side UP). Now sew around the border, connecting the two layers of fabric and sandwiching your ruffles, but stopping at the top of the heart. (Sorry I don't have play-by-play photos!)

You should now have a heart-shaped-pita-pocket-like creation. Turn it inside out, so that now your pretty fabric shows on the top and bottom, and your ruffles stick out all the way around. Insert your pre-cut heart-shaped Insul-Bright into the slot you left open at the top of the heart. Make sure it lays flat, cut more off edges if necessary. Then fold over your fabric edges (for a clean look) on both sides of your heart at the top, making sure your ruffles line up, and sew through all layers of the pot holder to seal your opening. Then continue this sewing line (maybe 1/8" from the edge) all the way around your heart, like a border.

Lastly, if necessary/desired, machine quilt your heart to keep the three layers (fabric and batting) perfectly aligned. I chose a heart shape, but you could do squiggles, diagonal, horizontal, or vertical lines. Just sew with your fabric flat, making sure not to sew it into a bunch!

And, voila - a beatiful heart-shaped pot-holder-trivet!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

the goose loves hearts

So, as promised, here is the first of four valentine-sewing installments.

Here's the history - a couple of weeks ago, on a Fabric Depot trip with Jackie, I decided to sew an apron, and why not make it for my sister? I saw a terrific red and white print, and decided I could make it for Valentine's Day. So now you know what Day 4 will be, but in the meantime, I'll show you the "accessories" I made to coordinate. I primarily used the red and white fabric, but had some pink and white fabric already to add to the collection.

Part 1: The Heart-Shaped Pot Holder Mitt

So what goes great with aprons besides pot holders and oven mitts? Well first I googled heart-shaped pot holders, because it was for Valentine's Day, after all. I searched through many links, but kept coming across this Martha Stewart project: It works as a flat pot holder, but also functions as a mitt, since you can slip your fingers into the contrasting pockets and fold the heart in half. Snazzy, right?
So I got some white bias tape and got to work!

The tutorial is relatively easy to follow, but I made some of my own changes as I went along. My "pocket" fabric was a little thin, so rather than just using one layer and edging with bias, I cut out that shape on the fold, which gives me a double layer of fabric. Instead of using a couple layers of cotton batting for substance, I used a batting called "Insul-Bright," which has some insulation qualities. This will keep my dear sister's fingers from getting burned through the mitt when in the hot oven! Also, I had read several other tutorials about machine quilting your layers, which looks pretty cool, so I quilted my heart together with horizontal lines about an inch apart. Not bad! Here's my finished product - front and back!

Unfortunately, my sneaky little puppy decided that the pot-holder-mitt looked tasty one night, and managed to sink his little teeth into a small part of the bias tape edge before I snatched it away and disciplined him properly. So before giving the mitt to my sister, I have to re-bias an inch of the edging... oh well. Good it's going to family!

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for Valentine's Gift Part 2!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

the goose loves valentine's day

Billy & I have never been the biggest celebrators of Valentine's Day (Billy says "I'd rather tell you I love you every day, rather than just one day a year".... awww!). But we're not against doing something a little special, and Billy was in a cooking mood (don't fight that one!) and so we had a little Valentine's Dinner last night. Why Sunday? Well he teaches drumming to little kids on Monday nights, so tonight wasn't going to work.

We started it with a trip to Whole Foods (yum!) and he picked out a nice bouquet of purple tulips for me! (Excuse my poorly-lit area and my simple phone camera.) You might recognize the vase if you were at our wedding...
Billy had found recipes while I was at book club, and decided on manila clams in a garlic-white-wine sauce, salad, asparagus, & rack of lamb. So here are the clams, about to be steamed!

Unfortunately, they were eated too quickly once they were done, so no photos were captured. But they tasted delicious! And so easy to make, I hear...

And now for the main course!
We got a rack of lamb, already frenched (thank you, Whole Foods!). Just under a pound for the two of us. Billy seasoned them, seared them, breaded them, and baked them to delicious perfection.
Here they are prior to cooking.
And as with the clams, they were enjoyed too quickly after they were done, so no photos were taken of the finished product.
But let me tell you, tender, moist, and delicious! Wonderful to eat, and Bentley definately wished he could chew on those bones!!
And the best part? Billy did the cooking while I worked on my sewing! And I kept the dog out of trouble, for the most part... It was a lovely evening with my two boys!
Meanwhile, I've been working on a little Valentine's Day present for my dear sister. It is red-and-pink themed, and appropriate for the holiday! She won't get it until she visits us later this month, and I don't think she reads my blog yet, so each day this week I'll debut one item of the set. We'll start tomorrow, and last through Friday! :)
So tune back in to see the first part of her wonderful gift.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

the goose loves the super bowl

Last Sunday was the Super Bowl (Go Packers!) and Billy and I went to our good friend Chris's house for the annual gathering. Good food, good friends, and we sometimes like the commercials more than the game (at least I do!). For those of you who missed the game/commercials, Google "Darth Vader VW Commercial" and enjoy!

Anyway, prior to our fiesta, I decided I'd finally make a dessert/treat that I'd read about for days, and had been wanting to make for months. They're called Cake Balls, and as it turns out, they're should be called nightmare balls.

The idea is basic, and sounds tasty - bake cake, crumble it and mix it with frosting, form balls, dip in chocolate, decorate, and eat! The reviews were amazing - everyone loved them and although they admitted it was work, everyone agreed it was worth it. So here goes!

I bake a chocolate fudge cake and mix with whipped cream cheese frosting. No prob. I refridgerate mixture for couple hours as suggested. Later, while talking to my mom on the phone, I start making my "balls" (they had to be football shapes, to celebrate the game!). No prob.

I put the little footballs in the freezer (as recommended), carefully stacking two cookie trays with the help of a wire rack. They stay there overnight, since it was already 7pm and Billy was home from work, ready for dinner. No prob. They looked like little poops, but here they are, ready to freeze.

The next morning (SuperBowl Sunday), after making breakfast (pancakes with bacon - more on that later!), I gather my supplies to start dipping my footballs in chocolate. I always burn chocolate when I try to melt it in the microwave, so I melted it with my double boiler, which I've done plenty of times before. I start dipping, but the first two are gloppy and uneven - no smooth chocolate running down the sides of the football, no shiny layer of chocolate coating hardening nicely on the cookie sheet. Just gloppy. So I decide that to get more liquid chocolate, I'll add some butter, right? Wrong. A tablespoon of butter later, my chocoate seizes. Damn! I put it aside (saved for some brownies or chocolate cake) and proceed to get very frustrated. This was supposed to be easy!

After a short while, Billy convinces me to try again, with new chocolate. So here comes Round 2, but the first couple footballs prove that my chocolate has not improved, or my technique is still off. I then decide that crying is the best solution - what else can you do when your great and adorable idea doesn't work, and you feel like a kitchen failure? :)

Luckily, my good husband didn't let me mope on and on, and with some kitchen trickery of his own, coaxed the chocolate to a smoother, more liquid-y consistency, and forced me back into the technique. Dipping was still not so successful, so I just dropped the footballs in the bowl one by one, rolled them in chocolate, and scooped them out onto my wire cooling rack. It was a hot (steamy from the double boiler), messy, and rather frustrating process, but I managed to coat about 90% of the footballs before running out of chocolate (if only I hadn't seized my first batch!).

Back into the freezer for the footballs, a shower for me, and then I whipped up some powdered sugar glaze for the final touch. I iced laces onto about half of the footballs - plenty to take to the party.
So after finishing up our chili and prepping our baked spinach-artichoke dip, we headed off to Chris' house, ready to stuff our faces and watch the game. We had a great time (Go Packers!) and ate plenty. Everyone loved the dip and chili, and they really enjoyed the little footballs too.

Looking back, my failure was limited to the chocolate dipping part, a problem I could have avoided if I had made a point to read an article or two on "tempering chocolate." Knowing the basics of how melted chocolate works would have saved me time and tears. Oh well... maybe next time? Nah.

The moral of my cake ball story? Kids, don't try this at home.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

the goose loves walking with Bentley

On Saturday morning, Billy went off to work early (super early, really - 6AM!) so the puppy and I slept in. When we finally decided it was time to get up (10:45am?) we went for a little adventure! Bentley and I rode the streetcar down to South Waterfront, where we (meaning I) got a cup of coffee and peed (meaning Bentley) and enjoyed the scenery. It wasn't very sunny, but the crisp air felt good!

At one point during our walk, Bentley finds a big stick (more like a mini log or a small tree branch) and picks it up. I don't know what he was thinking -
"I can't wait to take this home and chew on it for hours!" or maybe "I'll bring this to a nice beaver so that he can use it for his home!" Either way, he was determined to take it somewhere, which turned out to be just back to the grass where he found it!

After we met enough dogs (including a lamb-dog!) and peed enough times in the grass, we walked back home, plenty exercised. Bentley decided he had moved his little legs enough and promptly found a cozy spot on the couch!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

the goose loves oatmeal cookies

Last night, I decided to channel my inner-martha-stewart and whip up some delicious cookies for the hubby (and for myself, of course). So during work (shh!), I found a recipe on (excellent site) called "Beth's Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies". The "spicy" part sounds like a turn-off at first, but it's really just adding cinnamon and cloves to a regular oatmeal cookie dough, so no problem. Also, why add raisins when you can add chocolate and butterscotch chips instead?? So, while our dinner was baking (polenta lasagna!) I threw together the batter with the help of my sturdy friend, the Kitchenaid Mixer. By this time, our dinner was ready so I put the cookie dough aside in the refridgerator. After eating dinner (which included watching an episode of "How I Met Your Mother" and playing with Bentley), I pulled the dough out and started baking.
Let me tell you - these cookies are delicious! They came out beautifully, baking only about 11 minutes to perfection. The lucky hubby had two fresh from the oven while the rest cooled.
All in all, a very delicious evening. The best part? Bringing a container of them to enjoy at work...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

the goose loves firsts

welcome to my very first blog. maybe i'm behind the times (i'm certainly not the first one to think of blogging my crafts, ideas, and happenings) but everybody's unique so i DO have new things to bring to the table - or web.

my goal is to get 100 followers in 100 days (is that even reasonable?) so follow me!

coming up soon... my first crafty accomplishments.