Monday, July 28, 2014

Easy Basil, Tomato and Mozzarella in Jumbo Shells

If your basil and cherry toms runneth over like mine do this time of year, here's a simple snack!  Boil some jumbo shells just until done (see food tip below).  Drain and rinse under cold water and drain again.  Cut your tomatoes in half and cut mozzarella in cubes.  Place one basil leaf in shell, add about four tomato halves and four mozzarella cubes.  Drizzle with olive oil, add some salt and pepper and there you have it! 

I also use these shells for stuffing with tuna salad or cold shrimp with garlic and parmesan cheese.  

Have a great week!

TWO food tips:  
I buy olive oil by the half gallon and transfer it to a more manageable bottle.  I place a beer cozy (you can see my tartan cozy in the photo) on the bottom.  It keeps drips at bay.  

To check that your pasta is cooked through, carefully pick out a piece from your boiling water.  Take a bite and look at it.  If it still has a white dot in the center, it needs more cooking time.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vintage Pillowcases and Hankies

I do love to crochet the edge of lovely pillowcases, don't you?  I'm partial to the simply, yet elegant, shell stitch.  It really can make a rather dull cover into something special.

I often give them as gifts.  It really doesn't matter if the pillowcases match, just if they coordinate in some way via color or subject.

These are not the same, but they do share a color theme...grey, green and pink.

I usually find them in a local thrift store or tag sales around town.  These happen to be a matching set.  Lovely daisies.

What little girl wouldn't love these to snuggle with during her nap or at bedtime?  Don't you just love the clothes pins?  

They are from Monkey Business.  The Amazing Pegzini Family for $17.00.

If you have trouble finding vintage type pillowcases, and like to crochet your own edging, I have them for sale in my Etsy shop, two for $8.00, plus a FREE....

tote bag!  I found various versions of this at my Target store in the dollar bins that are located right when you walk in to the store!  Really sweet and a good size too!

I must admit, I am a hankie whore!  I have been using them for years as Kleenex type tissues rip my nose terribly.    

Isn't this crochet bowl lovely?  I found it in a lovely shop in Winterset, Iowa, called 

Delicate and versatile.  Perfect for my hankies.

I'm partial to collecting hankies in the states of the USA.

 I also had New York and New Jersey.  My sister in law is from England and prefers a hankie as well.  She and I cry easily, especially when it comes to our children!  She lived with my brother in both of those cities, so I sent them to her.  My niece and nephew told her they were much too pretty to use!  
I agree!

I also picked up this little gem in Winterset, Iowa.  Perfect for knitting notions, I think!  My stitch markers often go astray!

Have a great weekend,

Yarn tip:
When working with a light colored yarn, use a pillowcase to keep it clean and angora or mohair from shedding all over your work.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hat In The Box

Just LOOK at these cute boxes I found at a local thrift store!
I squealed with delight.  Little log boxes perfect for gift giving a hat for a boy.  They were $2.00 each and in excellent shape.

I thought of my technicolor hats right away, especially this one with the felt owl.  A little owl in the woods!   Little boy things are rather difficult to find, so when I stumble across something, I have to have it!

Perfect fit!  Must add tissue for the professional touch.

It is a paper mache box with these log like papers decoupaged on it.  Just too cute and very well done.  If you were so inclined, you could do this design right on a box with paint or markers.  I would suspect a triangle box is hard to find, but you could do the same thing on a round box.

I get many invitations to baby showers, and often times the gift is one of my baby blankets.  Sometimes, however, a smaller gift is required and this packaging makes a simple hat extra special!  No gift bag for this one!

I might whip up one of my little toy owls to add to the "log"!  Maybe do it in grey and orange to match the felt piece.

Find all my pattern stores at the top of this page.


Yarn tip:
When traveling by plane, I don't bring along a pair of scissors for fear they will be confiscated.  I keep an empty dental floss container in my knit kit to cut yarns ends instead.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Autumn Baby Blanket

I know it's July,  But this is the time of year I write new patterns, get kits put together for my Etsy shop and think about Christmas knitting and crocheting.  Here's something I'm working on.  One simple pattern, three different yarn weights, three spectacular gifts for babies, teens and adults.  I love my yummy yarn (any yarn you don't find in your local craft store), however, sometimes it's too costly for gift giving.
So, the pattern will have yarn suggestions that you find in your Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and Joann Fabric stores.  For my overseas friends, these are our local craft stores.  This sample is a DK weight (3).  I think I'll use sock yarn for the pattern.  I'm sure most of you have loads of it in your stash, I know I do!  Maybe it would be fun to have a, sort of patchwork look using different skeins of sock yarn but all the same colors.  I'll have to think on that and play around with it.

I'm going to also crochet up a sample in some worsted weight (4) yarn.  Solid colors, but with a gradient or ombre effect.  Solid colors are typically less expensive than gradient yarns.

Super bulky weight (6) too, which is one of my favorite weights.  Maybe three different edgings as well.  

A plethora of kits are ready now in my Etsy shop.

I've got 9 different kits with nine different fabric choices!

(this is a pattern bundle, not a kit)

Have a great week,

Yarn tip:
Blanket sizes:
Full size measures about 50" x 65" (127cm x 165cm)
Lap blanket 35" x 40" (89cm x 102cm) {great for the elderly}
Baby blanket 25" x 30" (64cm x 76cm)

Friday, July 11, 2014

More Knitting in Technicolor Hats

I've got more Technicolor Hats to share!  This is one of my favs!  If you have my Knitting or Crocheting in Technicolor Blankets patterns (below), these are knit with the same yarn.

If you remember, they have a barrette attached on the bottom of the felt piece so it can be moved to another part of the hat and removed for washing.

I love this little owl too!

The colors on this flower match perfectly!

Have a great weekend,
Yarn tip:
When knitting or crocheting a hat for a newborn, I always make the hat for a 6-12 month old baby.  That way, no matter when the baby was born, this size will fit for the colder months.

Greek Cooking 101 - Basil Pesto


My garden runneth over with basil right now, so, out comes the Cuisinart to make basil pesto!  Here's what Wikipedia says about the origin of it:

The ancient Romans ate a paste called moretum, which was made by crushing cheese, garlic and herbs together.[1] Basil, the main ingredient of modern pesto, likely originated in India and was first domesticated there. [4] Basil took the firmest root in the regions of Liguria, Italy and Provence, France. The Ligurians around Genoa took the dish and adapted it, using a combination of basil, crushed garlic, grated hard cheese (a mix of parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino or just one of the two), and pine nuts with a little olive oil to form pesto. The first mention of recipe for pesto as it is known today, is from the book La Cuciniera Genovese written in 1863 by Giovanni Battista Ratto.[1] In French Provence, the dish evolved into the modern pistou, a combination of basil, parsley, crushed garlic, and grated cheese (optional). Pine nuts are not included.

In 1944, The New York Times mentioned an imported canned pesto paste. In 1946, Sunset magazine published a pesto recipe by Angelo Pellegrini. Pesto did not become popular in North America until the 1980s and 1990s.[5]

Greeks, too, use lots of basil and we typically don't plant anything in our gardens unless is provides something in return.  Herbs, trees like olive, lemon, cherry, pistachio and berry.  

I happen to have this recipe written out as it is from my very good friend Doris.  She pasted away last year and broke our hearts.  Doris was a wonderful neighbor and friend.
She was the Food Editor at Better Homes and Gardens for years and if you look in old cookbooks published by BH&G, you will see her name.
She taught me so much about food and being a good friend.  
I think of her every time I make this.

 Here we go:

1 cup firmly packed sipped fresh basil
1/2 cup snipped parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese (2 ounces)
1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts or almonds
1 or 2 cloves garlic, quartered
1/3 cup olive oil

Place basil, parsley, cheese, nuts, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt in blender container or food processor bowl.  Cover and blend with several on/off turns until paste forms.

With machine running slowly, gradually add oil and blend till consistency of soft butter.  Refrigerate or freeze till used.  Thaw pesto, if frozen.  Toss with hot cooked and buttered pasta.

That's it!

After I rinse my basil in the kitchen sink, I give it a spin in my salad spinner.  

I also use my spinner to remove all the water from freshly washed hand knit socks!

The recipe is only for a small amount of pesto, so I triple the recipe, put in jam jars, top with a little layer of olive oil to keep it fresh and from turning brown.
We use it so often, I just keep it in the fridge.  I have also put dollops in ice cube trays to freeze them.  I pop them in soups and home made spaghetti sauce.  I also use it as a spread on sandwiches.

So save those jam and jelly jars, or use small mason jars!  Make loads of pesto and hand them out as hostess gifts, birthday gifts or teacher gifts.   Your foodie friend will love one!


Food tip:
I buy the giant cans of tomato paste at the grocery store and drop spoonfuls into ice cube trays and pop them in the freezer.  When they harden, I store them in freezer bags and take them out as I need them.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Granny in Spring

I posted last month about my Mohair Blanket with Daisies and I loved it so much, I crocheted another one!  Patons Lace Sequins in Quartz (2 skeins) and Peridot (5 skeins) and a J hook.  

The photo doesn't show the very subtle sparkles in this yarn.  It's just enough bling without being garish.  
No design plan here, just changing colors every so often.  It so reminds me of Spring or Easter time!  It would be a great baby girl gift for an April or May birth.

It's still a work in progress, but my plan is to crochet a simple, single crochet, edge.  Then, adding the Quartz daisies along the edge every so often.  I should have it done by next week.

I'm using the same daisy loom I used with the first blanket, only wrapping more times around to get a thicker flower.

If you're making pretties to add to your projects, using the same yarn, make them first, so you don't run out of yarn.  
Fringe all along the edge would be fun.

Would be cute as a photo prop too!  Drape it in an Easter basket with baby inside!


Yarn tip:
After hand washing your just knitted socks, and squeezing them gently, get out your salad spinner and "spin" the rest of the water out!  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Greek Cooking 101

(good day)

If you do not speak Greek, you've just learned your first word and greeting! 

Welcome to Greek Cooking 101 

I thought I'd start posting some Greek dishes once or twice a month for those who would like to learn and for those who need a refresher course.  
My father is first generation Greek and my mother was born and raised in Scotland....quite an ethnic upbringing.  I'm really a good long as it's Greek food!
There is nothing easier than Greek food, I promise.  One of the most popular meals in any Greek home is chicken, potatoes and some kind of vegetable.  It just so happens, that I didn't have any potatoes in the house, so I substituted with rice and added some sugar snap peas, which come in a bag at the grocery store.  

This meal comes out to about $1.50 a plate!

Let's get started on the chicken!  
You will need:  
Any kind of chicken with the skin on
Cavendar's Seasoning (not essential, but yummy)
Dried basil
Dried oregano
Lemon juice (I like Minute Maid from the freezer section of your grocery store)
Butter or olive oil (a must for crusty skin!)

There's no measuring in Greek cooking!  We only measure when we are baking. 
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit 

1.  Squirt some of your lemon juice (not the whole bottle) all over the chicken.
2.  Sprinkle, generously (don't be stingy here), the seasonings
3.  Add little slices of butter or olive oil (not margarine) on the top of each piece.
4.  Add some water or chicken broth to the bottom of the pan, just enough to cover the bottom.
5.  Place, uncovered, in the oven 
It will take about an hour and a half to cook for this size pan.  
6.  After half an hour, baste.  Then baste every 15 or 20 minutes.  This gets that nice crispy crust on the skin.  
About 15 minutes after your last baste, take it out of the oven.  Your skin will not be crispy if you baste and then take it out of the oven.

Cook the rice 30 minutes before the chicken is done.

I like Uncle Ben's rice the best.  
Store bought chicken broth (not essential but yummy) and 
dried chives (if you don't have any, it's fine).
Follow the directions on your box or rice for how many servings you need.  Use the chicken broth instead of water.
Stir in some chives after cooking.

These will take about 10 minutes.

Heat some butter or olive oil in your pan on medium heat.
Throw in your sugar peas, some salt and pepper and some minced garlic (optional but yummy).  Toss around every couple minutes or so.  You want them tender, but with a slight crunch.

There you go!  Greek Cooking 101!

I thought I'd share a little yarny goodness from my Yia Yia (Greek for grandmother)
When she was 14 years old in 1908 she did this beautiful cross stitch in her home town of Akrata, Greece.  I love it so.  She did two, one facing the other direction.  Now, my dad has a twin brother.  One of his daughters is named Gloria.  The family thought it was only right that the "twin birds" should go to the "twin brothers" daughters!  

When we went to Greece in 2006, we found some paintings we really liked.  The one above looks just like the village, Platanos, my Papou (grandfather) lived in during the late 1800's early 1900's.  We stopped in to the actual house he was brought up in.  My dad went knocking on doors, not sure which one was the right one, calling out our family name.  A lady came out of her house and pointed to the correct door!  She recognized the name!

This one looks just like Akrata, the village where my Yia Yia is from.  Right on the water!  You can walk about 50 feet from the front door to the ocean!

I'm so proud of my heritage.  I have this Big Fat Greek/Scottish/Amish Family!  One day I'll give you the story of how Amish got in there!  It's really sweet, but rather lengthy.  I have one of THE most interesting families ever!


Sheila (Keelia)
Food tip:
Extra virgin olive is the best as it is from the first pressing of the olives.  Don't be put off by the price.  It's SO much better for you that any other oil.  
You can, however, do a 50/50 of olive oil and corn/vegetable oil and still have great results and flavor.

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