Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Forward to Next Year


Saying goodbye to 2013 is approaching quickly. The mere fact that I have another year under my belt, this side of the dirt is reason enough for me to celebrate. Don't get me wrong, 2013 was rough. Many beloved people, both famous and only famous to me have passed. The economy still is gasping for air, too many people are jobless, more people than ever in our history suffer from hunger and of course the politicians continue to put themselves before the people they were elected to represent.
I will not go on a soapbox but, I can promise that I will contribute to society in a positive manner and make the world a better place in 2014. 
Here's a simple yet effective method that has proven to be successful over and over:
Smile more, remember to say please and thank you, help someone in need and respect all that is around you. A simple gesture such as offering to return a grocery cart for an elderly person or a parent with little ones could brighten a day. Helping your neighbor shovel the dreaded plow lump could save a life. You get the idea!
My New Years Resolutions for 2014:

  • Donate a greater number of my hand knit hats, gloves and scarves
  • Drop off additional food to my local food pantry
  • volunteer
  • Help my neighbors
  • Recycle, reuse, repurpose
  • Be kind to myself and others
  • Be thankful for what I have: A wonderful and supportive family, a roof over head and food on my table.
Please join me and make 2014 better year and Pay it Forward!
Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, December 27, 2013

Until Next Year

It's Friday morning, 8:00 a.m. to be more specific, and I am sitting in the waiting room of our family dentist while my husband has some necessary oral surgery. If that wasn't bad enough I am here without my latest knitting project. What in the world was I thinking?! Obviously upon leaving the house at 7:30 a.m. my brain was not fully awake as was evident by the cup of untouched coffee in the travel cup. Normally I am an early riser but all the holiday hoopla has definitely caught up with me, today of all days. Oh what's a girl to do....
Here's to hoping everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I enjoyed great company, great food and how cool is this, several of my holiday guests showed up sporting items I had knitted for them. Scarves, hats and socks rocked the party! Casual hints were dropped regarding shoe sizes, coat colors for matching hats, gloves and scarves. Seems like I won't be at a loss for what to knit next any time soon.
But truly, so fantastic to have my craft appreciated!
Has anyone checked out the year end sales at Webs? Some great deals so here's the link. http://www.yarn.com/. I have filled my shopping cart just need to get home and double check a pattern before submitting. I like to make sure I have more yarn than called for (from the same lot) with any project and also see what I need to replenish. At these prices I would be a fool not to pad the stash. I still need to check http://www.herrschners.com and http://www.craftsy.com they are also advertising big year sales.          

The dentist is nearly finished and wants to discuss post op care. I end with wishes for a healthy and happy new year! Please visit soon!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What's Next?

I have only one sock left to finish before officially finishing my holiday knitting! I would have been done sooner but had to rework the infamous Purdue socks , for my son, because I missed judged just how big his foot/ankle is. Dang that's a big foot! I expect to finish by by the weekend, just in time for Christmas. After that I will be working I a pair of socks that my husband has been so patiently waiting for as well as another pair for a friend of ours that absolutely loved the first pair I gave him, as a thank you for all the beautiful garden life he has given to me; several rose bushes, pinkie winkie hydrangea bush, 100+ daffodil bulbs of several varieties, variegated sedum, several types of lilies-new to my garden and so much more.
Through him, I am planning on enrolling in the Master Gardener Certification program so that I can work along side him volunteering with a local facility that employes adults with special needs. I have had previous employment in this field and find I do miss it. Watching the confidence emerge and grow in an individual is truly an experience that has been rewarding and enlightening for me. Really, who doesn't need that!
But in the meantime, after these few pairs of socks are completed, do I pick up a work in progress that was set aside for all the holiday knitting and crafting or start something new?
Decisions, decisions, decisions!

I have been busy expanding my Paleo knowledge and have enjoyed ALL the new recipes I have tried and now that my daughter is home from school for the holidays, I plan on trying some new baking recipes. She is the baker in the family so I would be the fool not to take advantage of her time while she is in town.
Here is a wonderful Paleo filling that I used as a filling in flattened, rolled chicken breasts. The filling has 3 ingredients, simple right!
1/4 cup raw cashews ( pecans and almonds taste great as well)
1 cup mixed greens, I used spinach
1/4 sweet onion
Blend together, food processor, hand blender or whatever works for you.
(I didn't blend until smooth, left a little crunch to the cashews)

I then spread a thin layer of the filling onto flattened chicken breasts, rolled up, secured with tooth picks and baked at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until done-ovens vary. I lined the cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up and viola, yummy and healthy!
Hope everyone enjoys a wonderful holiday season with family, friends and some good eats!
Come back and visit soon,

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Snow has started falling again here in the Windy City. The wind is blowing creating wind chill not fit for human or beast yet my silly 14 year old Beagle cant get enough of the outside. Do dogs have hot flashes? I can barely bring myself to open the door for her, as every time I do the temperature in the house drops.
I came up with a great solution! Baking...any Beagle worthy of their breed can't resist the aroma of freshly baked anything, in this case some Wedding Cake cookies, Paleo style. These cookies have multiple aliases, Russian Teacakes, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Snowball Cookies but whatever you call them, they are a favorite to many. 
I was searching the Internet, for some Paleo cookie recipes when I remembered this wonderful website: www.elanaspantry.com. I like the recipes as they are not difficult but you will need to revamp your pantry. Out with the white and wheat gluten containing flours and in with almond and coconut flours. Arrowroot replaces processed thickeners, coconut oil has become my go to oil (great on dry skin too) and a variety of raw nuts and nut butters. I substitute dark chocolate (70% cocoa) for milk chocolate chips, almond milk for pasteurized milk containing hormones and/or are corn feed (many produced with genetically modified organisms).

As I have gotten older and wiser...(no comments form the peanut gallery), I find my interest in providing quality fuel is necessary for a quality life. Like knitting, quality yarn produces a better product. This is not to say big bucks need to be spent, great deals are available. I check the Internet often and visit local yarn shops when they are having sales. www.knitpicks.comwww.herrschners.comwww.yarn.com are some sites I buy from often.

Side note: Purchasing fresh seasonal fruits and veggies will save $$ at the register. Freeze any unused produce for later use. I love to use in smoothies, YUM!
(Slice, peel, de-stem, wash, etc. before freezing)

Paleo Vegan: Banana Almond Butter Coconut Smoothies
Prep Time: 5 minutes 
Total Time: 5 minutes 
Yield: 2 servings
Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups

 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
 3 tablespoons almond butter
 1/2 cup frozen banana slices
 1 teaspoon vanilla 
 Blend ingredients in a blender or with an immersible hand blender. Drink and relax. :)

Additional Paleo recipes can be found at:http://veggieconverter.com

Give yourself the gift of health this Christmas, try a Paleo recipe, splurge (a little) on some quality yarn, take a walk and breath some fresh air! 
Come back and visit, let me know what Paleo or other healthy recipes you tried and recommend.
There's always room at The Knitted Nest!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Big Chill

I believe in yesterday, when the temperature was a mild 56 degrees in Chicago! Woke up, got out of bed, pulled a sweater over my head...okay bad stab at some Beatles music but Brrrrrrr.
Winter has arrived with its freezing temps and blustery winds, apparently snow is around the corner. I guess it wants it's own starring role.
I have dug into my bin of winter "warmies" as dubbed years back when my kids were in preschool. I have included some pics of the projects that are quick to complete and make great Christmas gifts for those hard to buy people on your list.

This infinity cowl took about an hour. I used a size 13 needle and worsted weight yarn. The pattern is a pretty basic lace motif. Knit 1, Yarn over, knit 2 together, Knit last stitch. I casted on 20 stitches but any even number will work. This was not done in the round so you will have to seam the ends together in any method you prefer. Personally I hate seaming but 20 stitches wasn't a big deal, sweaters on the other hand..

This ear warmer is from a pattern I downloaded from the internet. This project took a bit longer, but was finished in one day, including the flower. I did not use the pattern for their flower as it is crocheted, and I don't crochet. I made five petals for the base of the flower  and knitted a circle using double pointed needles. I threaded the long tail I left after binding off, through the circle and gently tugged forming the center of the flower. Completely experimental but I liked how it turned out. Don't hesitate trying something different, make it your own!

For you non knitters looking for a quick gift:
Using left over yarn and some store bought cone shaped styrofoam pieces (in different sizes or cut to fit) and a piece of wood I had from trees that were trimmed in my yard last fall, yeah I don't throw away anything, I put together this years' centerpiece for my Christmas table.

After deciding on the height of each piece, I had to cut one cone shorter, I mixed some craft glue with a bit of water, making a consistency similar to pancake batter, and painted half the cone. I wrapped the yarn around the cone, keeping each layer close to each other. Then I applied the glue to the top half and finished covering the cone. I wrapped each cone twice to make sure the styrofoam didn't show through. Listen up, when painting the glue north the yarn, remember to move back and forth only. Going up and down will pull the yarn off the cone! Don't get me wrong, I enjoy going against the grain every now and then, but this is not one of those times. Trust me on this one!   
Another idea is to use yarn and string along ornaments, hand made or store bought, and make your own garland. I have seen it where the yarn is chunky and braided for a sturdier rope, handy if the ornaments are big and/ or heavy.

It would appear my internet connection is not enjoying the winter weather and is having some major issues! If only I could think of something to knit or craft to make it happy. That in mind, cuddle up and brave the big chill.
Thanks for visiting me at The Knitted Nest,