Friday, March 23, 2012

Walking At Work

It's been quite some time since I posted anything about walks on my lunch breaks. (And no, the milk thistles never panned out.) But the weather is nice, spring is here, and I'm starting to feel like I need the break away from all things work-related now when it's lunch time during the week.

I went walking through our office park today on my lunch break, after a quick trip over to the gas station on the scooter. There's a creek that cuts through our office park. I don't know if there's a name for it, since it doesn't even show up in Google maps. It's a running creek, but I can't even pinpoint where it feeds from.

Anyway, I've driven and ridden past it a million times, it seems, and I decided today was the day to stop and take a closer look at it.

This was just a quick picture I snapped with my phone, set on the "sunny day" setting. This is looking north. It might be about 8 feet wide here and obviously not very deep. I'd say where the road goes over it here, it's just a few inches deep.

There are some ducks about halfway from where I'm standing on North Center Drive to the fallen tree. There's also some good sized minnows swimming around in there.

The tree actually fell over last year. I think it was last summer during a freak thunderstorm (the creek had risen about halfway up from the rain). The top of the tree actually damaged a car's hood that was parked there.

On my return walk, I stopped on the other side of the creek (facing south). I need to take a picture of that side next time. A frog had jumped into the water on the other side. I would have taken a photo of the southside of the creek today, but a guy from a mobile car wash service was there, and he kept staring at me while I was looking at the creek, in both directions. I guess he never saw anyone snapping pictures of it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Focusing on Something Other Than Yarn

My need to crochet has been waning lately, which is probably a good thing because since finishing the last blanket, I feel like I can't get anything to turn out! I tried making one of my own bunny hats for Nicole the Knitter, but it wasn't turning out. It was starting to look like some kind of lame rasta hat, but without the ears. Then I tried making a tote for her knitting, because of her love for the bunnehs. No dice. For some reason, the top was tapering on one side. I have no idea what was happening. Maybe I just need to get my groove back.

So, I'm taking a break from all things yarny. In the meantime, it's time to focus my attention on something else: cooking!

Recently, my husband had a taste for Chicken Marsala.

Ingredients:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves pounded 1/4" thick
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon oregano
4 tablespoons oil
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup Marsala wine (the only change here was that I bought some sort of white wine. I don't know what Marsala wine is, if it's a type or a brand, because either way, I couldn't find a wine labeled as being "Marsala.")

Directions:
Combine flour, salt, pepper and oregano and blend well. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet until bubbling lightly. Dredge the chicken in the flour and shake off the excess. Cook the chicken on medium heat for about 2 minutes on the first side, until lightly brown. As you turn the breasts to the second side to cook, add the mushrooms around the chicken pieces. Cook about 2 more minutes, until lightly browned on the second side. Stir the mushrooms. When the second side is lightly browned, add the wine around the pieces, cover the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes.

We definitely liked how this dinner turned out. It cooked up with a really good sauce.

The next night, we decided to have Veal Parmesan.

Ingredients:
4 veal cutlets (about 1 pound)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces sliced Mozzarella cheese
1 cup dry seasoned bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
olive oil for frying
1 can tomato sauce (8 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon dried basil

Directions:
Sprinkle cutlets with salt and pepper, lightly dredge in flour. Dip cutlets in beaten egg, then seasoned breadcrumbs. Heat oil over medium heat; place breaded cutlets into hot pan; fry for about 4 minutes on each side, or until browned. Place cutlets in baking dish; spoon tomato sauce over and sprinkle with basil. Place Mozzarella slices over cutlets; bake at 350° for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with spaghetti and Parmesan cheese and a tossed salad. Serves 4.

I'm sure this is a very good recipe, but I don't think the veal cutlets I bought were really meant for a recipe like this. Don't get me wrong, there wasn't anything wrong with them, but they seemed a little tough or something and it didn't pair well with the breading and sauce. However, this is a recipe we will try again.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Might Be Entering Another Craftster Challenge

Last year, I entered my first Craftster Challenge: DIY Halloween Costumes 2011, challenge 68. Having seen other Halloween challenges, I knew I wouldn't win and I was fine with that. I wanted the chance to compete with some damn fine seamstresses and I got just that.

Now, I think I may be entering Challenge 73: Spring Cleaning! The idea of this challenge is, "So for your challenge this month, it's your mission to get cleaning and sorting!  Find at least one unused item in a drawer of your home and repurpose and revamp it into something useable and awesome.  Instead of sending an item to waste, this is a great opportunity to revamp it into something fabulous! Your main item must be an unused item from a drawer in your home, but you can use other supplies and objects in your project.  In your entry post, you must include at least one before and after photo."

The reason I decided to enter this challenge is because of my niece, Eden. Her second birthday is coming up and my sister said Eden is wild about Super Grover, so she suggested I make one for her.

My mom got the yarn for the project for me and I've been slowly plugging away with it. He has a complete body now, but I'm still working on his features and the details.

But Grover couldn't be Super Grover without his helmet, right? His cape and ties will be easy, but that helmet will be a little trying. I knew right from the get-go that I didn't want to make it out of felt.

The face shield of the helmet was cut from a corner of a quart of milk. It's supposed to have slats cut into it, with the idea that if someone were wearing that helmet, they could pull the face shield down over the eyes and still see through it. I'm not going to cut into it. I'm going to paint on the slats instead.

The actual helmet itself is made from a deli container from my local Kroger, with a wine cork  Super Glued to the top. In this picture, both pieces have been spray painted with Rust-O-Leum Painter's Touch in Aluminum. I need to give the face shield another coat tonight. I think I need to also shave down and repaint the cork to make it shorter. Hopefully, I can do that without breaking it off the helmet. Or maybe I should try and turn it into some kind of Roman soldier helmet, the kind with the red mohawk looking fringe on top.
Once all the pieces have been painted, my plan is to top of the cork with a button, and then attach the face shield to the helmet with a couple of stitches. Over the top of the stitches, I'm going to attach another button. I think this is just about the best picture of his helmet I've seen so far. You can see some of the details I'm talking about.

I do want to take the helmet one easy step further: I plan on punching two small holes in the bottom edge of the helmet and making this a tie-on helmet, so maybe it will keep Eden from losing the helmet as soon as she gets him.

The nice thing about this part of the Grover project is that it's costing me nothing to make. It's all being made with stuff from our stashes here, and I'm still able to recycle the rest of the milk quart, so there's not a lot of waste.