Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Video Wednesday : Sidetracked

Today I planned to video blog about the contents of my knitting bag. Fun needles and yarn, and some unexpected surprises. However, a good friend linked a video from Welcome Home Blog on Facebook and it moved me. I cried, my heart melted, and I couldn't stop smiling. This could be because of the situation I'm in (which after seeing other videos on the site, make me feel far less alone, and not remotely unique) but I challenge you to watch one and not be moved.



My children watched this. They understood, they knew that the Daddy and the video had been away just like theirs is. They got it, and they were happy for the children on the computer.

This blog has moved me, and I wanted to share with you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recipe Share

I'm hungry! I found a fantastic website, foodgawker, and staring at it is making my stomach growl. Want to see some of the yummy stuff? I'll show you, and you can see the recipe's on these creative chefs' blogs!

Cookie Dough Truffles from The Dainty Chef

The Ultimate Cookie Bar from Kirbie's Cravings

Blueberry Pie Ice Cream from She Wears Many Hats

Zucchini Muffins with Nutella Swirl from A Spicy Perspective

Notice a theme? They're all desserts! Want to know why? Well, my birthday is on Saturday! I've got sweet stuff on the brain you could say. Honestly I haven't given it much thought with the excitement of Friday approaching at a turtle's pace. Maybe I just need to get in the birthday spirit!

So this week you can look forward to:

A Birthday Wishlist
A NEW Video Blog
The Homecoming post
A New Music Selection Friday (I really need to name this feature)

Stay Tuned

Also! I'm thinking about starting a weekly feature on Bento Lifestyle beginning in August! 
It would be part how-to & concepts, part picturorials/tutorials, part gallery.
Is this something you'd like to see?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lesson Learned: Grocery Shopping

Don't go grocery shopping when you're hungry. Really. I know this. And yet...

I had to go to pick up my daughters' films for an appointment on Thursday, so my mom watched the kids and in exchange I went to pick up my list of 6 items we needed. So six items.

Apple Juice
Tin foil
Trash Bags
Ground Beef
Salad
Cheese Curls (My mom's weakness)

See? Six items, seemingly random. Get in, get out, get home.

I should have eaten breakfast. I made a list, under no circumstances would I divert from my list. Go to the designated aisles, grab the goods and check out.

I had all of my items in the cart when I remembered we were low on lunchmeat, so  I called Mom.
"Which deli meats do we need?" I asked.
"Well, we're out of everything, so all of it. And there's one slice of cheese left, better get that, too." She replied.

On my way towards the lunchmeat I started do go astray.

 
Cheese Waffies, A rarity of the chip aisle. I grab these up whenever they appear for fear they won't be re-stocked. In our house, my mom and I barter to each other with these. They are currency. My husband thinks they're obscene with how fake the cheese is. I don't care, I don't have to share with him.

Chocolate Chip cookies. I already had a cheesy snack, but what if I really wanted something chocolate-y? Better safe than sorry...

It was still only 11AM and both of my snacks were more "afternoon/evening delicacies". Apple Turnovers would be more appropriate... (Box is empty because these were consumed by everyone within 30 minutes of getting home).

Walking back towards the front of the store to the register I spotted this. I'd heard wonderful things from my friend Julia about this product, and my daughter being allergic to peanuts, I want to try it and see if it's a suitable substitution for our family. 

Okay, this I can explain, really I can. My kids have been keeping each other up at night, meaning I'm up at night, and yet still getting up offensively early. I'm tired, I don't drink coffee, and right now this was looking like water in the Sahara. Really.

This was the cherry on top. Waiting in line, after several price checks courtesy the woman ahead of me, not caring to read gossip rags, I perused this. Hungry?

Don't look at a cooking magazine. Don't look at a "Less than 15 Minute" cooking magazine. Don't look at a "5 Ingredient" cooking magazine. You WILL buy it. 

Look at that salmon. 
I can cook it in 15 minutes.
With 5 ingredients.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Countdown!

Yesterday I posted about my husband's homecoming, and KnitXcore commented about advent calenders for this sort of occasion.

I winged it for my son (my daughter is still too small to get it). A few weeks ago we made this:
And yes, you ARE seeing a very poorly drawn Mac (from Cars), School Bus, and Tow Truck. As I wrote the  numbers my son insisted I add those. Each morning we cross another number off and count up to it. It's not fancy, but I've been making little versions of this since I was a kid. I do so much better with a visual reminder of the days that have already passed.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, on Tatertots & Jello I saw this:

www.computerismycanvas.com
It's far prettier, and next time my husband has to be away I'll be using the free printable + Paper Chain that they have generously provided over at Computer Is My Craft.  You can see the feature on Tatertots&Jello here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Home

Today, I'm optimistic. Today is one week until my husband flies home from California. He's there for training at the moment, and has been since March 18th. Prior to that, he was completing his Basic Training for 8 weeks. In all this means that since January 18th, My kids have seen him for 6 days. I went to visit him, as I stated in an earlier post. So I've seen him for 11, but that was back in April.

Needless to say, I'm impatient for July 1st to be here already.  In the spirit of our little reunion, and the journey we'll be taking together 2 weeks after it, here is a video for you. It's pretty much my pick-me-up when my day is particularly challenging.



7 more days...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Monster Macaroni

For years I grew up on Blue Box Macaroni, Velveeta if it was a special treat. My mom loathed the stuff but we wouldn't eat macaroni and cheese from scratch. As I got older I figured out that the recipes never had enough cheese in it for my taste, how did it stand a chance?! So when I started to see the same habits forming in my three year old, I had to do something.

Through a lot of trial and error, Moster Macaroni was born. Muenster Cheese melts in a creamy way that the cheddar binds to. The mild flavor lets the cheddar take the forefront while not disappearing completely. My son loves when I make this, so much so that he sneaks up behind me and demands "monster cheese! cheddar cheese! or tickle mommy!" The kid's no dummy.




Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups Pasta (I used elbows because it's what I had, usually I use 2.5 cups of rotini)
  • 10 oz Muenster Cheese
  • 12 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 Tbs Butter
  • 2 Tbs Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/8 Cup Bread Crumbs
  • 1 Tbs Romano Cheese

Begin by puttting a pot of water on to boil. Set your oven to pre-heat for 375 Degrees.

Next, Grate your cheese. Yes, by hand. I don't suggest buying pre-grated cheese, ever. I personally think that whatever preservative they use to keep it from sticking to itself, dries out the cheese and stealing the flavor. But that's my opinion. *tucks soapbox away* Okay now...


Your water will probably have started boiling by the time you're done with one of your cheeses, take this opportunity to dump in your pasta!



Now! Back to the other cheese...


You can also take this time to butter your oven-safe dish, I use real butter instead of a spray and it's made cleanup a cinch for me.


After the 8-10 minutes it takes for your pasta to cook, drain it in your strainer or if you're like me, a colander! Dump it into your dish.

Now look at your pasta, it will look milky, opaque and not have any real shine to it (sans any remaining water)

(It's really hard to capture the difference in a picture)

Next add in your egg, milk, and butter and thoroughly coat all of your noodles, they will all become glassy and shiny, which is your goal!


Once your noodles are all slippery and stick-proof, add in your cheeses. I do this slowly and fold in the cheese, then take off my rings and get my hands in there. I hate how messy my hands get but it's the best way to ensure your cheese is evenly dispersed in your dish. It might seem like it will overflow your dish, but once your done mixing, you pat it down evenly to prepare for the last step.


Finally, mix your bread crumbs and romano cheese together.


Then sprinkle evenly over top of your macaroni and cheese mixture.


Bake for 30-40 minutes (You know your oven best afterall). The crust keeps the heat in really well, I know that after I've served my kids and we've been eating for 20-25 minutes, when we go for seconds, it's still VERY hot.



I hope you enjoy your own Monster Macaroni! Some awesome variations I've done with my kids are:

  • Substituting 1cup of the pasta for 1 cup of chopped steamed Broccoli and Cauliflower.
  • Mixing in cubes of leftover Ham from a previous dinner.
  • Adding Bacon Bits to the cheese and Mustard Powder to the bread crumbs.
  • Crumbling Ritz Crackers for the topping instead of Bread Crumbs.
Do you have any suggestions for alterations? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chaotic Living!

I have so much to get done today that I decided I would give you guys a little treat! So I present a video of part of my packing nightmare (for your amusement) and some VERY amateur videography skills...



Apologies for the shotty camera-wielding. I can't wait to get some order in my living space again!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Coast to Coast

For the first time in April I had the opportunity to visit the West Coast! This was before I found out our new home would be in Oregon next month, mind you. Needless to say I was exited as this was my first trip out there. I was going to Petaluma, CA for 2 days and then San Francisco for 3! 

There were a lot of things of note to share but today I want to share 'Resto' with you. When I was in college I got my first REAL job. I was an interior design major so naturally I applied to Restoration Hardware. This started an important chapter in my life, and even though it was only a seasonal position, Restoration Hardware has a special place in my heart.

While looking for things to do in the city, I knew I had to visit the Restoration Hardware Design Gallery. We made a special trip to that part of town and I was chomping at the bit to get out of the car and see it. I was not disappointed...


It had beautiful open spaces to leisurely stroll through...


Great design inspirations...


And it was wonderful to soak up the California Sunshine while window shopping!



I was thrilled to see a different perspective of a company I had known and loved so much!



If your planning a trip to San Francisco in the future and have a passion for home design, I strongly urge you to take a half hour and poke around!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Recognition

And I almost shut down my computer...

My darling friend Robbie a.k.a. KnitXCore won the Liebster Blog Award! I was so happy for him! I had to leave him a comment before I hit the hay, I couldn't let it wait until morning. He is my friend afterall! Well, being new to blogging, I was quite stunned when I read about how it worked (nominating three small-time blogs in a pay-it-forward manner) and even more stunned when I saw my picture! Not going to lie- I squealed!



And in the spirit of the Liebster Blog Award I Nominate:



Will a.k.a. WillyG @ Strings-N-Stuff. Will is what I wish I were. He is able to churn out beautiful knitting projects in no time flat. He goes to festivals, retreats, even teaches the occasional class (!) and is kind enough to photograph his journeys in a light-hearted way for all of us at home. I'm lucky enough to call Will one of my dear friends in my Knitting Circle and his blog is delightful to read!




Cleo @ Twee & Honey. I admit, I bite my nails. But I love to indulge my girlie side and Live vicariously through Cleo! She comes up with the most amazing combinations and her splashes of color never fail to disappoint!
 And Knitrageous! Her blog is a dash of knitting, a sprinkle of cooking, and a lot about life. Her writing style is easy to read and draws you right in, and it's really easy to make that human connection that we're all reading blogs for anyway!


Now I know all of my friends read the description so you know- Nominate 3 small (under 300 readers) blogs and Pay it Forward~

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Compartmentalization

Packing for the big move which is three weeks from today! Zeeks! Coming up this week we have:

Planning for a cross-country road trip~
Making an empty space your own (Rental Edition)~
Simple but AMAZING Mac and Cheese Recipe~

And Much More...

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


- Jaqi

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Different Craft!


For a while I've wanted to learn to quilt. Not with the burning, consuming desire that I wanted to be a knitter, but I really wanted to learn nonetheless. I didn't need the full-blown heirloom-quality quilt instruction either. Just how to make simple quilts I could gift, sell, or adorn the beds of my home with.

So after a yarn expedition to Home Made in Swainton, NJ, and discovering their quilt-in-a-day class, I took it as a sign. Another thing I could scratch off the old bucket list as Julie herself put it. And so it began.

Picked out fabulous Birch Organic Cotton Fabrics
I picked these out so quickly my head was spinning!

So I had to decide who to make a quilt for, and after a long debate between my husband and my three-year-old son, I realized it was more my son's size. Victory was his! I chose the Beach Mod collection from Birch Fabrics. My son loves cars, animals, and guitars so the prints were right up his alley. I was able to purchase all of my materials on-site so it was extremely convenient too.

Sewing my squares into strips
Detail picture of these fantastic prints.

I did a lot of play with Teal, Orange, Chocolate Brown, and a Golden Yellow so I have a color theme for my son's bedroom when we move in a month (a tale for another day). I poured so much love into this project. The guidance from Julie was fantastic. The atmosphere in her store is so welcoming, in the studio it's "Welcome, now get your butt in gear and make something beautiful!"

The top strip across
All of the prints playing off one another.

I opted for a simple diagonal stripe motif, not a lot of thinking but big visual impact. Leaning over my sewing machine, every pin I removed I thought of my son. I thought of how he'd love this quilt so much it could replace his ratty fuzzy blanket, and he'd be so proud of it.

The Layout
Laying out my blocks how I wanted them before pinning them together

By the end I was exhausted, I hadn't used a sewing machine in a while and my back was feeling it. But I was so close, I'd sewn in the batting hadn't I? I had stitched the edge? I was doing the seams at the meeting of my blocks, ready to be done, but then I looked at it again, and thought of my son. And smiled.

Finished!
It came out bigger than I thought, I was thrilled!

It was gorgeous! I drove home with it in the passenger seat, I'd picked up fat quarter of the same fabrics to apply to pillowcases and curtains after our move. All of the ambition coursing through my veins. My kids were in bed when I got home but I still heard them talking (a regular occurrence). I opened their door and showed my son his quilt. My one-year-old-daughter chirped with delight to see me. My little boy, so full of appreciation, knew I had made it. He's so caring of all of the toys and garments I've made him. He carries granny squares around like they're beloved friends. He was so proud to pull it over him and go to sleep.

Happy Recipient
Do you think he likes it?

Now, it hasn't replaced his Blankie, but he does cherish it. It has a place of honor on his bed and he insists on curling up under it even on these hot 95+ degree nights. He cherishes it, and I love him for that.







- Jaqi

Location:Home Made- Swainton NJ

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Technical Difficulties



So, not to bore you all with the trials of everyday life, but my faithful desktop computer has died. Rest in Peace to the ole crate. And while this has impeded my blogging it has given me ample time to knit, as well as dabble in a few other crafts! I've also figured out a way to post -albeit tedious and convoluted- from my iPad! So over the next week I should have lots to share and catch you up to date :)

Onward to the fibery goodness!
The beginning of a green 22 leaves Shawl.

Moving right along...

It all started with a question. I asked my Grandmother which color of the three lace weight yarns I had stashed would she prefer for a gift. After ruling out the Magenta and Light pink, she opted for this green. I combed through patterns and carefully selected 22 Leaves Shawlette I had three weeks to finish this and I wasn't going to get in over my head!

The 34 Leaves pattern is really very pretty and I recommend it if you have the yardage and the time! But back to the project at hand. I found the pattern easy to follow and quick to work up. I used the crochet bind-off as a nod to my Granmom. She taught me to crochet many years ago, she has proudly worn many a heinous scratchy acrylic messes proudly. It was time for something I could be proud of too.

Unblocked...

Pre-Blocking. I was told it looks like an empanada!

Blocking!

The magic happens!

It never ceases to amaze me how soaking a bit of natural fiber and pinning it how you want it can transform it so drastically!



Among the flowers...



Thankfully, she loved it~