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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Girl Mouse in a Flowery Dress!



Julie Williams' newest pattern.  I am working on the Boy Mouse now.  Julie always does a boy and a girl version of her patterns.  My girl is a little bit pudgy.  I am  loving her though.  I will be adding her to my basket of toys in the studio.






















Monday, November 10, 2014

Mouse Girl in a Flowery Dress

Those of you who check in here regularly may have noticed I am particularly fond of Julie Williams' (Little Cotton Rabbits) knitting patterns for stuffed toys.  I think they are the cutest toys out there and Julie's pattern instructions are meticulously written and her projects are photographed step by step.  

I was thrilled when Julie sent me an advance pattern of her newest creation the Mouse Girl.

I knit the Mouse Girl in a Flowery Dress up almost immediately after receiving the pattern.  
And is it ever cute!!!!  Look at that cute little pink tail and the shell ears.

Julie also has a Mouse Boy pattern as well.  I can't wait to get started on him too.
Go on over to her blog and check out her wonderful creations.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Knitting Up a Storm!

Thanksgiving is still weeks away and I am seeing Christmas decorations in the stores already.  So I don't think I am out of line in showing you some of my Christmas gift knitting.

If you are my children....stop right here!  Don't look.  These may spoil your Christmas surprise.

I got a late start this year but the annual gift socks are underway.  I knit them toe up and I love the freedom this gives me to use every last bit of the skein (at least to make them as tall as I want).  I divide the skein into two balls that I weigh on my kitchen scale so the skein is divided in half by weight.

The green socks are knit with Scorched Lime "Smooshy" from Dream yarns.  The yarn is soft but it's more of a sport weight so I chose the Van Dyke sock pattern, which is written for sport weight yarn. The heel is a basic gusset heel which is less bulky than the split stitch heel.  Smooshy is thicker than other sock yarns so the gusset heel is a good pattern choice I think.
I loved the Must Stash yarn in the Dark Side of the Moon colorway that stripes and would happily order it in other colorways but the web store is closed until the owner can fill back orders and restock.  The Yarn Harlot made socks and posted them on her blog and the yarn sold out almost immediately.
The striped socks are basic split heel socks.  This yarn is fine and thin and oh so soft.  It knits up less bulky and I have family who likes not-so-bulky socks.  And best of all, the hank comes in two separately tied skeins, which are then twisted together.  The store owner has started both skeins at the exact same place/color so your socks come out evenly without the knitter having to mark the skein and try to find the exact color spot to cast on to make the socks identical. Genius!  I hope this catches on and other yarn vendors start selling their yarn the same way.  A knitter can dream can't she?

Both patterns can be found in Wendy D. Johnson's Socks From The Toe UP book.

2 pairs down and ....a few lot more to knit.

At least I am not hanging them in front of the mantel yet.

Monday, November 3, 2014

November


 Fall flowers and autumn colors.

Fancy pumpkins and squash.


Newly painted woodwork to protect the house from the winter storms.
 Lengthening southern shadows.


 Bright blue Fall skies and Indian Summer.
And leaves on the ground.

November's here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pressure Cooker Beef Stroganoff and Some For Later

We don't eat a lot of red meat but it's fall and getting colder and the leaves are turning.  AND IT'S SUNDAY DINNER.  So I made Beef Stroganoff with egg noodles.  A little bit of an indulgence.
It's comfort food for a cold day.  And it couldn't be easier to make.

I love to cook a roast in chunks in my pressure cooker.  It takes just a portion of the time to cook and I don't have to watch the roast.  If it's hot out, the pressure cooker doesn't heat up my kitchen.



 Here's the link to the original post and recipe that I posted a while back. 

This roast came in a two pack, so after dinner I prepared the second roast for a later meal.

Here's the technique:

Remove all the fat you can from the roast and cut it into large chunks (see the photo above).  Salt and pepper it and put it in the pressure cooker.  Add 10 ounces of canned beef broth, two whole cloves of garlic, 1 sliced yellow onion and one dried bay leaf.
Bring to high pressure and cook for about 60 minutes.  I used a  very lean roast so I cooked it a bit longer than you might for a roast which has more fat.

I let the pressure fall on it's own, then removed the meat and the broth into separate bowls.  Strain the broth and discard the onions, bay leaf and whole garlic cloves.  They were invited to the party to flavor the meat and broth and are tasteless now.

Put the bowls into the refrigerator. As the fat cools it will harden (it takes a few hours).  Remove the fat floating on the top of the broth and discard.  You can see there was still a fair amount even after I trimmed my meat.
Who needs extra fat when the flavor is in the meat and the broth? 
Put the meat into sturdy freezer bags or containers and pour the defatted broth over the meat. Squeeze out the air if using plastic freezer bags.
I add a bit of water if needed to just cover the meat so it won't dry out and taste of "freezer burn".  Be sure to date the container so you use the meat in a timely manner.
Pop the packages into your freezer and you have meat for a quick meal.
Defrost it and use the meat for enchiladas, any type of casserole, even French Dip sandwiches.
My favorite way to use this beef and broth is to make soup with it.  Just add vegetables and simmer.
You'll have soup on the table in fifteen minutes and it tastes like you simmered it all day. Well worth the bit of effort to prepare the meat in advance! 
If I will be using the meat in the next day or so, I pour the broth over the meat just to cover and refrigerate it.