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Soup Weather

Hearty Beef Vegetable Stew

Fall brings a lot of great things, including cozy fashions, warm colors and fun outdoor activities such as hiking, bonfires and corn mazes. And of course most people would include pumpkins on this list, but honestly I don’t really understand what all the hype is about. You guys know that grocery stores sell pumpkin all year round? But I digress.

Besides all that, one of my most favorite things about autumn is the FOOD. Comforting, yummy and warm, fall food is great, and I love that it all culminates in that wonderful holiday we Americans celebrate called Thanksgiving! But i’m not here to discuss Thanksgiving, I’m here to talk about soup! Soup makes up a good portion of the awesomeness that is fall cuisine, and I’ve already made a couple kinds this season. Yesterday I decided to take advantage of my day off to make a big pot of this goodness; Hearty Beef Vegetable Soup. I got the recipe from my mother-in-law because it’s one of Husband’s favorite things that she makes, and I’d have to agree that it is de-lish. It’s more than just putting all the ingredients together and heating them up with this soup, the yum factor comes from the long slow cooking. You start by browning the meat and then you throw in all the vegetables with a whole bottle of V-8 juice. Add stock to generously cover and bring it all to a boil. Then leave that puppy on the stove for 6.5 hours. Yep, you read that right, and it’s because of the length of time it takes to make this that I chose to do it on my day off! But all that long slow simmering makes the meat just so tender and all the flavors of the vegetables mingle to make a pot of pure amazing.

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A few hours before the soup was ready I mixed up some dough as well to bake a fresh loaf of French Bread to go with it. Fresh bread, fresh soup. You just can’t get any more warm and comforting than that! You should use your next day off to make this soup! It makes enough to have plenty of leftovers; pop some in your fridge and some in your freezer (it freezes well, but take note that if you put it in a plastic container the tomato juice WILL stain it!) because there’s going to be so much that you probably won’t be able to eat it all before it goes bad. But then a few weeks down the road when you just need something easy and delicious, BAM take that soup outta the freezer and enjoy the warm fuzzy happiness of fall comfort food all over again.

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So here’s the recipe! Please note that the vegetables and amounts are only suggestions, use whatever you’ve got on hand!

Hearty Beef Vegetable Soup

1 lb. beef tips
4 lg. carrots (peeled and sliced)
1 lg. rutabega (peeled and cubed to 1/4″ pieces)
2 c. cut green beans
2 c. corn
1 lg. sweet onion (diced)
3 stalks celery (sliced to 1/4″ pieces)
1/4 med. cabbage head (cut in pieces)
64 oz. V-8 Juice Original
9-10 c. beef broth (or 9-10 c. water + 9-10 tsp. beef bouillon)

In 8 qt, stockpot brown beef tips in 2 T. oil. Remove the meat and drain off fat. Wipe out stock pot with paper towel and return meat. Add all the vegetables and the V-8 Juice, then add enough broth or water and bouillon to generously cover vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low for 1 1/2 hours. Simmer for another 5 hours, stirring occasionally.

Enjoy the recipe, the next comfort food I’m going to try out is this Bangers and Mash recipe, I’ll have to let you know how it turns out!

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So much to knit, too little time to knit it

Happy Socktober everyone! Whenever I’m browsing knitting patterns I’m bound to find one for socks, and I always feel like I have to cast on right away and start knitting. Which is funny because I wouldn’t say I like feet all that much, but when I see lovely photos of people’s piggies covered in beautiful hand knit creations, I just can’t get enough. Lacey socks, cabled socks, striped socks, color block socks, whimsical socks, crazy socks, I want to make them all! I’ve got a pair on my needles right now, and on most evenings you can find me sitting on the couch next to Husband knitting away while we watch HGTV or Game of Thrones or even occasionally an Eagles game. I’d show you some photos, but it’s a secret project and I don’t want the wrong eyes catching a sneak peek! Maybe after they’re done and gifted, if I remember to snap some photos of them!

After I’m done with these there are so many other socks I want to knit! I’ve been going a little knitting crazy over on my Pinterest, posting all the things that I am so eager to knit, but never enough time to do it. The other thing I’m drooling over right now is fair isle knits, which I’ve done a little of but I still want to learn more about it. Knit up in gray and mustard and burgundy and brown, fair isle just screams fall to me.

Now that I think about it, with everything there is to knit, Husband and I will probably be watching a lot of TV/movies this cold season! And I am very OK with that.

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DIY Painted Pumpkins

I am loving the color block trend that has been going on for quite some time now. It’s so fun, simple, and clean! So this year I decided to experiment with some color blocking and a few other techniques while painting mini pumpkins to use in my fall decor.

Disclaimer: This isn’t going to be a normal DIY post, since painting pumpkins is a pretty straight forward thing. Get some paint, brush it on the pumpkins. It’s going to be more a what I learned to do and not to do kind of DIY post.

DIY Painted Pumpkins

I started out with a few different ideas for this project:

1. A color block pumpkin in one color
2. A color block pumpkin in two colors
3. A lace spray painted pumpkin
4. A completely white pumpkin with polka dots

So here are some photos of my supplies and my process. I used a dowel rod to push the tape into the little crevasses of the pumpkins to get cleaner lines (that second image), but keep reading to find out if the tape actually worked!

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I couldn’t find my bronze spray paint (sad day!) so for my lace pumpkin I thought maybe I could tape the lace onto the pumpkin and then sponge paint on top so that once it dried it would leave a pretty pattern.

I was wrong. So wrong that I ended up painting over the entire thing and the lace pumpkin became another two color pumpkin (it’s the one with white and blue straight across, if you’re curious) I’m not sure the technique would have even worked with spray paint due to the roundness of the pumpkin, but it probably would’ve looked at least a little better. If anyone wants to experiment with that (I ran out of pumpkins!!) let me know what your results are, I think it would be super fun if it worked out!

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I used my dowel rod to put the polka dots on the white pumpkin, and when I was finished I decided the single color pumpkin would actually look better with some polka dots too, just to tie it into the others more. I painted all the stems the same color to keep the group more cohesive as well.

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Another thing I realized is that, on pumpkins, using a sponge brush actually makes it easier to get a crisp straight line without using the painters tape! When I peeled the tape off it took just a little bit of the paint with it, leaving jagged edges that I had to go in and retouch. I decided to try the brown diagonal line on the one pumpkin free hand after I realized that masking over the white portion would peel the paint off when I removed the tape. And guess what. It worked wonderfully! The straight edge of the paint brush is pretty much perfect for these little guys. A larger pumpkin might be a different story though.

I’m wondering if there’s a better paint to use, I had some Martha Stewart Craft Paint and some plain acrylic, and both had the peeling problem. If you have any ideas, let me know! Also, I hope this inspires you to make some unique fall decor of your own, and if you do post some pictures and let me know!

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5 Easy DIY Halloween Costumes

Hey everyone! Based on how August and September have just flown right by, Halloween is going to be here before you know it, and that means costume parties. It’s always a challenge for me to think of a costume that meets my following criteria:

1. It must be flattering. When I say flattering, I’m thinking of the time I threw together a last minute costume of being “Swine Flu”. You know, when Swine Flu was a big thing. It consisted of a bathrobe, slippers, and a thermometer. I did a good job because I looked like a sick person, but I kind of felt like a frump all evening. The reality is, as girls we like to look good, especially when we know we’re going to a party and there are people and there are going to be photos of us and they are going to go up on the internet. But there’s more to costumes than just looking good, or we’d all just dress up like cats and there would be no problem. This leads to my second point, which is…

2. Relevant, intelligent, or humorous costumes. A killer costume will probably include all three, but I think you could pick and choose if you wanted. The Swine Flu costume hit relevance, maybe even some humor, but it missed on being comfortable and flattering, making it a not so good choice.

But fear not, I’ve pulled together some easy options that you can put together with things you already own, and if not it wouldn’t be hard to gather the required elements! So without any further ado:

5 Easy DIY Halloween Costume ideas

1. Hipster Disney Princess

This image was floating around Pinterest a while back:

This makes dressing up like a Disney Princess so much easier, no need for Bell’s fancy ball gown or fake fins to be Ariel. Each princess has their own “color scheme” so grab some of your own clothes, maybe buy one or two little things that make it more apparent who you’re dressing as (like Snow’s apple necklace or a stuffed chameleon to go with Rapunzel) and then add some hipster glasses and print out a sign to go with like these girls did!

Image taken from Google

And guys, you could pull this off too, try hipster Peter Pan!

Image taken from Google

 

2. Vanna White (& Pat Sajak if you want a costume for a couple)

Image taken from Google

Don one of your old prom/bridemaids dresses that you haven’t worn in ages and make a cardboard letter to carry around. If you want to bring Pat along too he just needs a suit and tie and he could carry around a cardboard wheel marked up like the Wheel of Fortune wheel.

3. French Kiss

Image taken from Buzzfeed

Here’s a punny costume, and good for a group of people, all you need is some striped shirts, scarves, berets, baguettes and wine glasses and a pretty intense make-up job.

4. Grumpy Cat

Image taken from Google

Don’t just be another black cat this year. Let’s face it, cats have been a little overdone at Halloween, but here’s a better twist on the old stand-by. All you really need is white and/or brown clothes and some makeup on your face. You could even print out a sign that says something like “NO” or “YOUR COSTUME, I HATE IT” to go with it.

5. Medusa

Medusa

Image taken from Buzzfeed

This costume doesn’t have the humor factor as much as some of the others, but it does show your intelligence as you dig back into Greek mythology for this glamorous get-up. Some plastic snakes woven into a braided up-do and a Greek inspired dress are all you really need. If you don’t have a suitable dress, try just DIY-ing a toga-like outfit from a bedsheet and some rope!

How to tie a chiton (toga) for the ladies!  Hitting up the fabric store for this one.

Image taken from Pinterest

 

Bonus: Chia Pet

How to Make a Chia Pet Halloween Costume for Your Dog

And finally, here’s a bonus for your pet, because it’s just too awesome! (Could be fun for a person too it you made it into a wig!)

 

The parties will be starting up in roughly a month, hopefully these ideas help you not to stress out about what you’re going to wear. Let me know your thoughts and have fun as you get DIY-ing!

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A New Project

I’m so sorry I missed my post last week! My schedule got all changed around at my job due to meetings I had to attend, so instead of having Tuesday off I had Friday off, and since Friday was Husband’s last day working at the old folks home, he invited me along to get ice cream with the residents in the afternoon. On top of that I decided to make him an extra special “congratulations you’re moving on to newer and better things” meal which took a good part of the day as well. All in all, it was a busy, but good week for us. Husband is now in school againĀ  and he will be for the next 5 weeks. He is earning his CDL so he can start a new career in truck driving, so there’s a bit of transition going on around here.

I’ve also been in transition with my ideas of what I can do with my repurposed books. I love making journals, but I think there’s more I can do with these, especially the Reader’s Digest books, and I still have that big box full of books waiting to be touched that I got for free a couple months back. So anyway, I’m in the middle of an idea, and the first step is creating these cute little crochet animals. This one is going to be a fox, he just needs ears, eyes, a nose and his tail.

I’m really excited about this project guys, but I don’t want to say all the details quite yet. I’m hoping I can get the prototype finished here pretty soon though, so keep checking back!

Some other things I am excited about: We got this little yellow rosebush from Husband’s aunt on Sunday, here’s to hoping we can keep it alive inside this winter! For now it’s giving us these sunny happy flowers!

yellow-rose

The other things is LOOK AT OUR JADE PLANT IT FINALLY HAS NEW GROWTH!

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Yeah, that tiny nodule on top is going to be a new leaf. Hopefully. This little guy hasn’t changed at all since we got him way back in April or May, and I’ve been a little nervous that one day we were just going to wake up and it would be dead. But now that I see new growth, I think I feel a little bit better about it’s ability to survive. As a bonus, the pot it’s in is the flower pot Husband painted when I made my yarn bowl. I told you it would pop up eventually! :)

 

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Knitting to Stories

I’m getting so close to finishing the cardigan I’ve been working on for about a month and a half now, so today has pretty much been dedicated to sitting in our comfy armchair, my project progressing stitch by stitch and inch by inch. I’m working on the last major piece, which is the front left side, and then it just needs to be blocked, sewn together, and some finishing touches added on. Eep, I’m so ready to wear this thing!!

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You can see my handy yarn bowl from this post being used in the first photo. It is seriously so handy, no more balls of yarn rolling all over the place! I’ve also been listening to “A Storm of Swords”, book three in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, (more commonly known as Game of Thrones). We had a free trial for HBO a couple months back and we decided to watch the TV series, and I enjoyed them a lot, except for the few times I had to cover my eyes and hide behind Husband because I just did not want to see some of the super super gory scenes. But then, we finished the most recent season and I was left wanting to know how the series ends! So I went back to the beginning and got the Game of Thrones audiobook out from the library and started listening. I’m not quite sure how I am going to cope once I finish the most recent book, I just want to know what happens. I guess it will be just like when I waited for the next Harry Potter book to come out all over again!

Anyway, all that to say, I love that I can listen to books (or watch movies) while crafting, and when I look back at a finished project I can always associate whatever I might have been seeing or hearing at the time with the piece. I still associate the Lord of the Rings with a CD I had when I was younger because I listened to the CD every night while I read those books. What kinds of things do you listen to or do while you practice whatever hobby you might have? And also, I’ll need some book suggestions once I get through the rest of this series, anyone have any ideas?

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Weeknight Dinner Idea: Honey Baked Chicken

Hey folks! Ever since I moved out of my parents house in the winter of 2012, I’ve learned to appreciate the art of economical cooking, both time-wise and money-wise. Some weeks you just don’t want to spend money on a carload at the grocery store so you pick meals with a few simple ingredients, and other weeks you just don’t have the time to cook, so you choose meals that are quick to throw together. Well, here’s one that is easy on both your budget and your clock! I present: Honey Baked Chicken!

Honey Baked Chicken

OK, so it’s not really a new concept, you can find tons of recipes if you just put that phrase into any search engine. But now that you’re here and reading this, I’ll give you the recipe to save you the time of searching for it elsewhere! :)

It’s super easy, I promise. You lay out your chicken, mix together the other ingredients and pour it over top, bake, and voila! Roughly 30 minutes later you’ve got your meal ready to go. I served this chicken with rice and peas, so as soon as the chicken went into the oven I started the rice cooking in my rice cooker and made the peas just before the chicken was done, so everything was ready at the same time. I also highly recommend drizzling the resulting honey mustard sauce from the chicken over both the chicken and the rice. So yummy! Enjoy the easy meal everyone and let me know in the comments below what you think!

 

Honey Baked Chicken

Serves: 5-6

Ingredients:
6 chicken breast halves1/3 c. melted unsalted butter
1/3 c. honey
2 Tbsp. mustard
1 tsp. salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay out chicken in a greased 9×13 pan. Whisk together remaining ingredients until smooth and pour over chicken. Bake until chicken is no longer pink inside, 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breasts.