Hey folks! I hope everybody had a great week and that my East Coast followers aren’t being hammered by the Frankenstorm. My brother came to visit me, and I showed him the Northern California sites, including the world’s largest corn maze and a walking tour of San Francisco. I’m hoping to convince him to move out here next year and I’m pretty sure 80 F, sunshine and awesome produce helped my argument.
Spending: Surprisingly little for all the socializing I did. I bought a friend her first beer earlier this week (21 seems so long ago), plus a visit to the farmer’s market with my brother (mm, brussel sprouts!), the corn maze and gas plus tolls to San Francisco. Fortunately, since we’re both starving students, we ate in except for when he treated me to an early birthday lunch in the Mission.
Earnings: I had to turn down a babysitting job since I was busy this weekend, but I did sell a few pieces at a consignment shop, which I’m taking as store credit.
I passed my evil test! Woohoo! Yeah, I also made good progress on writing and research, but did I mention passing my test? Because I passed it!
Health and Fitness
I’ve been doing a ton of walking this week, at least 5 miles per day, plus really enjoying fall fruits, like jujubes and persimmons. That’s balanced by happy hour and weekend spent eating our family’s favorite chocolate pie. This week the goal is to have 1 “splurge” day, avoid Halloween candy, and add in 2 weight lifting sessions. Climbing the hills of San Francisco made me realize that I need to use different muscles than my standard walking/running/biking on flat land.
Lunches: Lots of leftovers from this weekend! Roasted brussel sprouts and potatoes with barbecued tofu, roasted eggplant and Italian lentils (recipe tomorrow) with crusty bread.
Suppers: Mexican-y bean soup topped with a friend’s salsa and fresh tostadas (love having talented friends!)
Being somewhat cold blooded and often finding myself needing to cover up a little, I’m a big fan of light weight cardigans and shrugs. However, I resent spending $20 (or more!) on something so basic. So, when I was on my t-shirt craft binge, I pinned this to one of my Pinterest boards. I’d agree that it would count as a more intermediate project, but I finished it by handsewing in about an hour, with a break or two for wine and cookies.
This time, grab a women’s fitted tee in a size that fits you. Cut a straight line down the middle of the front of the shirt. Then cut off the collar. If you were a smart blogger, now would be a good time to take a picture. If you’re not a blogger or get distracted by wine and cookies, fold the raw edges under by about an inch and pin down. The corner where the neck hits the front of the shirt might be a bit awkward, so feel free to trim it into a curved shape. Sew the edge down, leaving one continuous tube going up one side around the neck and down the other.
Cut a length of coordinating or matching ribbon (mine was 1/2 in diameter) the length of that entire tube. Thread through tube (a safety pin attached to one end of the ribbon is helpful for this step) then start to scrunch up ends.
Feel so exhausted by your efforts take a picture in your downstairs bathroom rather than walk all the way upstairs to the mirror without a toilet in the background.
Filed under DIY, Thrifting
I have a confession that would have embarrassed the heck out of me back in high school: I like to sing. Not just along to the radio, but in church choirs and to show tunes in my kitchen. I looked into local community musical theater, but it’s an enormous time commitment. Then a friend invited me to join our town’s chamber choir with her. I was interested to have another creative outlet and a real live audience, but this group charges membership fees. Fortunately they have a scholarship program, so in exchange for volunteering a little extra of my time, I get to sing for free! They also provide attire for performances, so all I’m out is a pair of black hose and flats. We’ve been rehearsing for a few weeks and I’m getting excited about our Christmas performances. Don’t ask me for pictures though; the concert outfit would be perfect formal wear for a very modest nun.
With the arrival of fall I have a sudden yen for comfort food, which translates to Southern cooking. This weekend I was invited to a multicultural potluck and decided it was the perfect opportunity to trot out one of my family’s favorite special occasion dish: baked cheese grits. As always when I serve this dish outside the South, the first person through the line pokes at it, takes a small spoonful to be polite, takes a bite and starts to rave. Other people take bigger spoonfuls, the first few people go back for seconds and I get to score the potluck victory of taking home an empty casserole. Being somewhat waistline and wallet conscious, I’ve worked to cut calories and scale back on the more expensive ingredients from the original recipe. Not surprisingly, the first thing I cut was the crumbled breakfast sausage my aunt always served on top, though you non-vegetarians who are looking for a splurge should definitely consider it. And while grits are delicious for breakfast (think of them as a savory oatmeal or cream of wheat), they’re great for dinner, much like polenta, often served with ham or shrimp. Personally, I like it as is with a greens salad for dinner or fruit for breakfast.
Baked Cheese Grits
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 clove garlic finely minced
- 1 cup grits or cornmeal
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 pound shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 eggs
Lightly grease a 2 quart casserole dish (I use a 9×9) and preheat the oven to 350F.
Bring the broth and garlic to a boil, then whisk in grits. Keep whisking until the mixture thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in milk and all but 1/2 cup of cheese until cheese is melted and thorough combined. Next, whisk in butter and eggs until mixture is smooth. Pour into prepared casserole and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Pour into prepared casserole and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until cheese on top is bubbling and brown.
As I mentioned last week, a friend has challenged me to tackle some of the numerous t-shirt crafts I’ve added to my Pinterest boards. This week, I’ll show you my version of a t-shirt tote bag. It’s a great way to use that shirt that has that awesome graphic on it that you never wear or just doesn’t look quite right on you.
First, find a men’s or kids’ t-shirt with a graphic you like. Cut off the sleeves, then cut out the neckline in a wide U. This will form the handles of your bag.
I would recommend making those handles wider than I did: I neglected to factor in how much un-hemmed jersey rolls in on itself. Next, flip the t-shirt inside out and sew a straight seam just above the bottom hem. If you want to be fancy, take the corners, spread the sides out from the hem seam to form points, and sew across to create boxed sides to your bag.
Curse yourself for using a black t-shirt since it photographs so poorly and wish you had a better command of English for describing such techniques. Finally, turn your creation inside out.
Ta-dah! You have an adorable, washable tote bag that squishes up small to fit in another bag. Take a final picture and be glad the hair your white dog decided to rub on your finished product doesn’t show up.
Filed under DIY, Thrifting
I pulled out the last of last year’s pumpkin from my freezer to get a head start on the loads of hard squash I’m sure to start receiving in the next few weeks. However, I’ve still got late summer crops rolling around in my vegetable bin. I did some googling on pumpkin with eggplant and came across several different versions of eggplant and pumpkin with curry. This is my version based on the ingredients I had on hand. It’s pretty good as a sauce-y low carb entree, but would also be great over rice or with some naan.
Pumpkin and Eggplant Curry
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 in ginger, minced
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 2 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 2 cups canned diced tomatoes
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 can rinsed and drained
- salt to taste
Salt eggplant, place in a colander and set aside for 30 minutes before rinsing and draining.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat oil. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic, ginger and curry powder and cook until soft and very fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggplant and cook until it begins to brown and soften, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer and cover. Cook, stirring periodically, for about 10 minutes, or until eggplant is cooked all the way through and all the flavors have melded. Serves 4 to 6.