Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Evening Productivity and Pear Strawberry Clafoutis

In the evenings, one of two things happens... always. I arrive home from work and if I am feeling tired will sit down for a bit. Then Reggie arrives home and we work our way through some kind of dinner. And then here is the kicker... If I sit back down to watch the news or part of a show - I don't get up until bedtime! However, if I wash all the dishes and tidy a few things after supper it always seems I have more energy. Last night was a full of energy night. I cleaned up dinner, and then decided to make a dessert that had been sitting in the back of my mind for a while, and then finally went through two large piles of maternity clothes that people have lent me. And then I cleaned up from the dessert making. I was feeling awfully productive. I suppose sometimes I need those nights, where I just sit there and do nothing. But I always feel better about  things when I've at least tidied up the dishes and the kitchen.

And now I'm sure you're wondering, what the heck is a clafoutis! Well I found out, after baking it, that it is a french dessert traditionally made with fresh cherries. Well I had some pears that were on their way out, and lots of berries in the freezer so I decided to try it with the fruit I had on hand.

3 pears, cored and quartered
2 cups of strawberries
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup heavy cream (I used whipping cream)
4 eggs, and 2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp confectioners sugar
(you are supposed to sprinkle 3 tbsp of flavoured alcohol, kirsch/amaretto, but I omitted)
Grease the side and bottom of a 2 quart baking dish, then sprinkle with sugar and turn the dish to coat side and bottom with sugar. Place the fruit evenly across the bottom, layer evenly.
Sift flour and salt together to aerate. Make a well in the center of the flour with your fingers. Pour the milk and the cream into the well at the same time. Whisk the cream, drawing in the flour, until smooth and all the lumps are gone.
 Add the eggs, egg yolks and sugar and continue whisking to make a smooth batter. Preheat oven to 350degreesF, just before baking ladle the batter over the fruit until it is just covered. Bake the Clafoutis 30-35 minutes. It will be baked when it is puffed up, golden brown and begins to pull away from the sides of the dish. Just before serving sprinkle with confectioners sugar and serve warm with whipped cream - if you like. We quite enjoyed it just on it's own!

This recipe adapted from my favourite cookbook: Cook Step by Step ed. Lucy Bannell. And another version (much more professional looking I might add) can be found here, made by one of my favourite bloggers! It is pretty simple, and even if it doesn't puff up like it is supposed to, it still tastes lovely!

Tonight was less productive for me. I now have 6 bags of baby clothes/things to go through but I'm going to save that for a different day. And I'm going to take my productivity one day at a time!

There is still time to link up a positivity post to yesterdays post, if you're interested! I hope you had a lovely Tuesday :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Positivity is Contagious

I find that a positive comment or action can be extremely contagious. Last week I received a lovely note from an old friend about how she loves to read my blog. It was so wonderful to hear that someone else really enjoys reading what I write, and sharing in my simple and homemade lifestyle. From this burst of positive energy here are some things I did to spread the happy vibes:

- I filled in a short questionaire for a friend about what makes me happy :)
- Smiled to a stranger on the street, and I received a smile back!
- Held the door for someone, who looked at my belly and thanked me with a big smile.

Have you had any positive experiences recently? Feel like sharing? Link up below, and smile your way to a better Monday!


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Supper: Chicken Cordon Bleu

Here is a simple recipe, if you were still wondering what to make for supper tonight.
  • Chicken Breasts (as many as you need for a meal)
  • 1 piece of ham for every chicken
  • 2 slices of mozzarella cheese for every chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp of paprika
  • a few shakes of pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • toothpicks
  • Beat both the eggs in a wide shallow bowl, set aside. Combine the breadcrumbs with the rosemary, garlic powder, paprika, pepper and salt, and set aside.
  • Slice each chicken breast in half, butterfly style. Layer one slice of ham a two pieces of cheese inside the chicken and secure the in place with a couple toothpicks.
  • Roll the chicken breast in the breadcrumbs, soak in the egg mixture and roll in the bread crumbs again. Be sure to cover completely.
  • Place each chicken breast on a baking cooling rack on top of a baking sheet.
  • Bake in a 375 degreeF preheated oven, for 35 minutes.
  • Be sure to make a side and some veggies! And enjoy your delicious restaurant style supper :)


Saturday, January 28, 2012

From the Stash: Plastic Bag Storage (& tutorial)

So I finally finished my overnight bag, and I thought I would share a few photos of that before sharing my new project for this week:

I am super happy with the outcome! I think it might be a little small for a real overnight bag, and the lining is a little baggy. But I plan on playing with the pattern and using up more fabric from my stash. And then I will increase the size and have two separate patterns. Perhaps this size will work well as a baby/diaper bag! I also created a short tutorial on how to make the interior pocket for the bag, click on the tutorials page above and the appropriate tutorial.

And on to this week's creation. A solution for the mess that is our bottom kitchen drawer.

I decided it would be a good idea to make a plastic bag holder that can hang in out pantry cupboard. I had a bit of veggie fabric left and found a few pieces in the stash that went along with it. I'm basically going to make one long tube of fabric, and I'm just hoping it will be big enough to store all the bags that we currently have (I'm not sure where they came from, we generally use reusable bags for groceries, etc.).

I think I might do a little tutorial for this one too, so be on the look-out for that next week!

Happy Crafting, and enjoy your weekend!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Printable List!

I really enjoy grocery shopping, and anytime I go without a list very bad things happen! I always have a pad of paper stuck on the fridge to write down items we need or run out of during the week, and then right before I go to the store I do a little meal planning and add anything that we don't normally stock in the pantry or fridge.

While writing my list I like to have similar items grouped together, which can sometimes get a little squishy depending on how I've written things so far. I tried looking online for a printable list but I wasn't a big fan of any of the lists I saw, and sticking with my recent post about resolutions and goals,  I decided I could make a list just the way I want it. I think this little number fits into all three categories on my goals list: organization, creativity, and money. (To see the original goal post, click here.)

As you can see it is a pretty basic list. We don't purchase a lot of pre-made, packaged, processed foods, and while shopping I usually stick to the outer rim of the store. This keeps me from impulse purchases such as chips or candy. There is a very short meat section, because Reggie is a hunter and a fisherman and most of the meat we eat he has harvested himself. The bulk section is rather long. I actually shop at a different store for these items - but I like to have them all on the same list. And I get most of our pantry items there, including all dry baking goods, pasta, legumes, rice, tea, etc. so I find myself needing lots of space in the bulk food section more often than not.

This is a jpeg version, feel free to print this one. However, if this list fits your style and you think you might like to use it write a little comment below with your e-mail and I will send you the PDF version, with 4 copies per page! Then print and use as you like. I think I am going to get a few printed up and made into tear-away pads. I might even add them to the shop.

So here's to starting off the New year right with creative organization that will help to keep overspending to minimum!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Maternity Style

I promised I wasn't going to purchase any maternity clothes, mostly because they are expensive for the amount of time you wear them. And then I was perusing the Shabby Apple website, and noticed that they have a maternity line... of course they do.
I just love this simple cotton wrap dress, and they have a sale going on right now. I might have to break my promise to myself, and get just one thing. But I'm going to think about it for a while first.

Have you found any must-haves online recently? Share below!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Resolutions, Goals, Hopes, Dreams

I know, I'm a little late getting these out. I don't usually make resolutions because I don't believe that a person should wait until we add a new number to end of the year to make goals that work on bettering oneself, but there are a few things I have been wanting to work on. So I figured what better way than to to make them public.

Before I give you my list of goals. I'm going to share something from my intro business class that I took about 5 or 6 years ago (And I'm sure many of you have heard it before). That is, goals should be S.M.A.R.T. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely.

So, to ensure that I am meeting all of the goal setting criteria, I am going to create categories, and then break them down into smaller, more specific goals.

And here are a few more specifics on each one:

  • There's a baby on the way! So I'm in nesting mode. But more important than pretty paints and fabrics is getting rid of some of the excess stuff. I'm going to try to put some energy (a couple hours) each week into going through crafting supplies, files, clothes, and making sure that everything has a neat and tidy place.
  • I have a lot on the go :) And something I always struggle with is time management. So I want to work on finding ways to organize the small things in my life, by making more lists (and checking them off), sticking to a schedule, and writing things down so I don't forget (starting today!).
  •  I've been getting more into graphic design recently (like my graphic above). Nothing crazy, just dabbling. But I really enjoy it. I would like to do more of it, and put it to use in my blog/shop.
  • I have a few sewing projects on the go, and more and more keep piling up in my brain (I blame Pip!). I would like to work through a few of these, and ensure that I am taking on new challenges in order to keep increasing my skills. I will try to keep to one/week (or per two weeks) in order to keep things moving.
  • I haven't done a lot of rug-hooking recently. I would like to get started on a new, big, project. It is something that takes a long time, and I am likely to want breaks as I work on it. I likely won't finish this by the end of 2012, but one can always hope!
  • I have a few projects I have been working on to add to my etsy shop. I would like to get at least one of the completed and in the shop by mid-February.
  • I love to take photos. And I have a rather nice SLR, it's a film SLR mind you, but it takes wonderful photos. It has been sitting in it's bag since DLSRs became the big thing, but I think I might dust it off and try to do a nature shoot once a month. (something I used to do regularly).
  • This is everyone's favourite! I need to keep better track of what I am spending, NOW! And make sure that I am not spending unnecessarily (this is where my great new organizing will come in handy).
  • I have already started to put $10 a pay cheque into a savings account. Which isn't a lot but at least it is something. I would like to continue this, and perhaps increase it a little.
  • I am really good a writing budgets, but I usually get over whelmed and neglect them. I would like to write a weekly, monthly and yearly budget for our family and stick to it.... 
  • I have an RRSP (which I need to contribute more to), and I found that talking to a financial advisor can be very helpful. I am going to make an appointment to go in and see someone by the end of February and talk about some of our options.
And, the MOST important goal: Keep my connection with Newfoundland strong. They are wonderful people and I miss them and the place a lot. Hopefully one day soon we will be able to go visit. Until then, I have my blog and all my Newfoundland inspired activities!

Wow, that turned out to be a little longer than expected. If you stuck through the whole way, thanks! It's nice to know someone is listening. How are your resolutions coming along so far?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

You Know your Pup is Tired When...

Let me preface this by saying that Reggie took Gunner ice fishing yesterday and Gunner spent it out on the ice running as far as his little legs could carry him.
  • As soon as he got home he went straight to his spot on the carpet beside the couch and closed his eyes tight. zzzzzzzzzzzzz...
  • Aside from supper and bedtime he didn't get up for anything.
  • Normally when someone gets up in the morning Gunner is right on their heels, today he stayed in his curl until Reggie was almost all the way upstairs!
  • When I came upstairs he opened one eye, and looked at me sleepily. 
  • He got up to eat his breakfast, and then when right back to his spot beside the couch.
That is one sleepy little pup. He is so sweet when he sleeps in a curl. And for a dog who is pretty much always on the go, this is kinda a big deal. I have to work today, and I think he will just sleep the afternoon away.

Enjoy your Sunday! Gunner sure is enjoying his :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cranberry-Rhubarb Muffins

I'm still in the process of using up some fruit in the freezer. It seems I chose the sweeter fruits for my earlier baking adventures. So for this round I was left with some more sour options. I have been looking for a really good muffin recipe for a while now, and when I came across this one in one of my cooking books I had to give it a try. This fluffy simple muffin is about to become one of my regular go-to recipes. So yummy!
Cranberry-Rhubarb Muffins
 (adapted from Blueberry-Lemon Muffins, Cook Step by Step, Lucy Bannell)

 4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
a couple handfuls of fruit/berries (fresh or frozen)
a couple slurps of fruit juice, orange works well
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Set 2 tbsp of the sugar aside and mix the rest in with the flour. Make a well in the centre of the flour.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg just until mixed. Add the melted butter, vanilla, and milk and beat until foamy. In a slow, steady stream, pour the egg mixture into the well of the flour.
Stir with a rubber spatula, gradually drawing in the dry ingredients to make a smooth batter. Gently fold in the fruit, being careful not to bruise (if it is berries). Do not over mix, or the muffins will be tough.

Spoon batter evenly into a greased (or paper lined) 12 muffin pan. Bake until metal skewer (or a toothpick) comes out clean.It may take up to 15-20 minutes, but you should check at 12 minutes to make sure they don’t overcook (some ovens cook faster than others). Let the muffins cool slightly on a rack.

In a small bowl, stir the reserved sugar with the fruit juice. While the muffins are still warm, dip the top of each muffin into the juice mixture and set upright on a wire rack to continue cooling. Since the muffins are still warm they will absorb the glaze for a moist sweet muffin. They are best served while still warm.

And that is one rather delicious recipe! I recommend giving it a try. Reggie and I had two each this evening, and I can't wait for tomorrow when I can have another one or two for breakfast.

I hope your weekend is wonderful so far!

Friday, January 20, 2012

From the Stash: Overnight Bag... the outcome

So I have a few photos to share from my overnight bag so far. I'm pretty excited! It turned out well :)
I still have to finish the lining and the handles, but with being a little under the weather this week, I didn't really have time. So I'm hoping in the next week I can finish this bag up, and sew my next from the stash project. Which I will share next week, when it is completed!

It's Friday, and I'm so happy, I'm heading in to work today, but I have tomorrow off, and I can't wait. Happy Friday Everyone!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I love mail, especially fibre mail!

I got something in the mail yesterday, and I'm so excited about it!!! I ordered a few very small batts from a friend of mine in Newfoundland who dyes and spins her own yarn. They are small only 1oz each, but I'm hoping to do a little felting and I figured it was good to start small.
I love that the colours are soft and more natural looking than factory died fibres. I can't wait to start working with them, I already have a few ideas of what I am going to make! Thanks so much Shawn! You can find her at her blog, here. And I will have a little interview her about here very soon. So keep your eyes peeled!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On the Mend... again

That's right I'm sick... again. I think it is because of the busy weekend I had this passed weekend. We moved my grandmother into a place with a higher level of care. I think it will be good for her to have more interactions with people on a regular basis. And though it was a positive weekend, it was a lot of work for me. Between driving there and back, visiting with a high school friend who has three adorable little boys, packing up one room, and moving things to another building, late nights and early mornings - it was a lot. I managed to fit in some sewing time, and worked on my overnight bag. I'm pretty happy with the outcome so far, don't worry I'll share later this week when I am planning my next from the stash project!

And after that busy weekend I wasn't feeling great when I went back to work on Monday, and then I woke up in the middle of night having difficulty breathing because my throat was so sore. I managed to get back to sleep and suffered through a day of work Tuesday and now I have a day off! I fell asleep on the couch last night at 7:30 and then moved down to the bed around 8:30, and I think the 10+ hours of sleep really helped. So for my day off I do have a few things planned:
Lots of tea drinking... because nothing makes feel better than a cut of hot tea with a little honey.
I'm going to make some granola, to have on hand for breakfasts.
Take Gunner out for a walk. The sunshine and fresh air will be good for both of us.
A little time with my sewing machine, to work on some on going projects. I'm also going to do a little New Year organizing and de-cluttering, some laundry, likely have a nap, catch up on some blog stuff, and find time for some relaxing!

So despite the cold, I'm going to have a good day (or perhaps I'll get tired in an hour and end up sleeping most of the day, which is ok too). I hope your hump day is swell!