Saturday, December 31, 2011

It is a New Year on the East Coast!

It is New Year Day on the East Coast and we are watching for the first installment of the Mystery Quilt instructions.

I have some sugar in my system from birthday cake, but I know that sadly I don't have a lot of energy in me for the night. It isn't that I don't stay up, it is just that I am usually sitting in bed and knitting or working on a puzzle by 9pm. I think even Nim is confused why we are upstairs.

I at least want to see the first release of the instructions. :)

*****9:35 edit*****

OK, I admit, I am already losing steam. :) No instructions are up yet, which is fine, I don't blame her at all, and I have to say I am already thinking about going to bed. This may just have to officially wait to start until later tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to my sister! I loved the reason to make a great cake and hang out!

Morning Birthday Cake

Too bad it would be somewhat unhealthy to bake a cake every morning. :) It has been a relaxing project.

Frosted and ready for birthday sister!

Morning Wildlife

Right after I finished my last blog post I was heading down to the main house to check on my stew and noticed the hillside was moving. :) I went back upstairs to get my camera.
I never get tired of the elk in my yard. It is a lucky day today that I got so many of them!

They are so uncooperative about staying in one place for me. I really have to come in quick and quiet and start taking as many photos as possible. Many of the photos will be a blur of large animal running.
Gorgeous animal.
You can't really see, but the one to the front has a tracking collar on.

Yes, that is some of the backhoe. Perhaps they were investigating the changes in my yard.

Now we all know that the "person" most likely to fall in that hole is Rusty. The one that can't read the tape and is below its level anyway.

Since the hole, dirt piles, and equipment are all new he would very much like to run out and mark them. Which I am not letting him do.

New Year's Eve

I am hoping today will have a couple of update posts, including at least one just before midnight with the start of my Mystery Quilt! I had intended to try and sleep a little more last night so I wouldn't be so tired today, but since I couldn't sleep, I got up and started my cooking and baking for the day.

You can see from the Rusty photo that the sun is starting to really come out - this is about an hour into my baking. Dark mornings can be a mix of peaceful or lonely. This morning it felt like no one (except Rusty of course), not even the wildlife, was awake with me.

My first project was a chocolate vegan birthday cake! Today is a sister's birthday and fortunately while not vegan she doesn't mind my vegan baking. :) The recipe is from "The Joy of Vegan Baking" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I have a lot of success with this book. This book also holds probably one of my most dangerous desserts as well. We all have things that when they are around we know we aren't going to be very restrained. Well her Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars are one of those things for me. I even half the recipe for my own safety.

Stay tuned for a frosted photo of the cake later.

While making the cake Rusty ran around the house and drove me nuts. Definitely not peaceful.

Then I put together my second black bean recipe. This Autumn Stew recipe comes from "Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons" by Nava Atlas. It is the first recipe I have tried from this book. I haven't tasted it yet, but the instructions were straight forward and it looks good. The major substitution I made is sweet potato for squash. This is because I buy sweet potato by the box from Costco and I didn't want to go buy squash. I probably should have used frozen bell pepper too because fresh is super expensive right now. I did use frozen corn.

This stew should be nice to have around while I am working on my Mystery Quilt. It is pretty fun how many of the people on the discussion boards are planning their snacks for the day. One even had a husband ready to provide snacks and tea on the hour! :)

Meanwhile, no working toilet in my main house still. I do however have some deep holes exposing the pipes and a backhoe in my yard while progress on the problem continues.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Stressed Cats and a Touch of Sun

It absolutely poured last night. Just poured. My yard slowly filled. But this morning we have just a touch of sun and I feel so much relief not to be getting soaked. I am wishing with everything that it can hold for the day until after the next repair person leaves. Not just for their sake since they have to dig in the yard, but the it would be great if I could even quickly get the dogs out.

The cats didn't come down from the rafters all night. Dogs are no picnic, but I am less and less of a cat person many days. Especially in a house that they can get away from me with no hope of capture. I got out the wet food early, lured them down, and actually caught them with no blood loss. Neither of them are small and you pretty much have one shot for both of them. For all of our sakes let's hope today is quick. The nice thing is, with them safely caught I can go about my day a little more normal than yesterday.

And since I know you are dying to know. Eventually I pulled the patties because the outsides were getting too well done. I will eat them and I think they are very good but I wouldn't serve them to others. :) Who knows what I did wrong...but it also won't stop me from trying again.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Black Bean Patties

Today marks day 4 of no working toilet in my main house. I have one in a detached office. Having burned out all "cheap" solutions and the extent of my knowledge (aka internet research) I had to call for repair.

Unfortunately I didn't catch the cats first. Now they could have stayed in my bedroom area, but in the panic they ran towards the noise and up the rafters not only spooking the repair person but placing them too close to the only door in the house, which was being opened and closed repeatedly.

I decided it was best I stay down and cook so I could keep an eye on the cat situation. I decided to try Vegan Black Bean Burgers from the Daily Garnish. However due to extreme laziness, I changed much of the recipe to reflect what was around the house and personal taste. As I write this, they are entering in double the cooking time because they will not firm up.

As you can see I substituted broccoli and mushrooms for two carrots. Does that look like the veggie equivalent of two carrots? Who knows. I substituted walnuts for pumpkin seeds. And I disregarded pretty much all the spices except for my own addition of garlic powder (1tsp), salt and pepper. And then, possibly the real problem, I added water to encourage the ingredients to combine. And possibly over-processed?

I will say the batter tastes wonderful! I would use it as a dip. Will they ever cook through enough to use? I don't know. They are vegan so it doesn't much matter if they are soft because there is nothing in them that you have to bake enough to kill bacteria. At least I don't think so. Basically, I will eat them anyway. And this is why I rarely cook for others. :)

In exciting Mystery Quilt news! Due to International participation she will be releasing instructions after midnight East Coast Time! This means if I am still up, and sometimes I am, I could at least look at the instructions a bit.

Off to check the burgers...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another dark day

Last night as I finished off another box of Chez Gourmet Oregon Harvest patties I realized I really need to consider making my own. I love the brand and love supporting the company. It just goes to show that if a company makes it a priority to make healthy frozen food it actually can happen, but these are ranging between $5 - $7/box. And currently I am on the roughly a one a day habit. :)

Tammy's Recipes Blog has been reminding me of where some of my frugal eating options are which is good. Granted she is raising a lot of kids and has to deal with different meal goals and variety. However her site did remind me of The Everything Beans Book which I own and love using. So early this morning it was time to start the black beans soaking. My plan for them is hopefully some sort of vegan patty to off-set my Chez Gourmet addiction, possibly soup, and OK...I am totally attracted to the notion of black bean chocolate brownies. I suspect I will need more beans.

So many soup recipe options right now! For Christmas I received "Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons" by Nava Atlas which I look through pretty much every night. I haven't tried a recipe yet but I think I will back into making and freezing soups.

You might think Nim never leaves his pillow but trust me he does. Admittedly right now in the dark rotten weather he and I are driving each other nuts! It is absolutely pouring.

Despite my complaining about the Mystery Quilt 2012 discussion boards I am still using them. It has been fun to see what other people are selecting and the advice I got was just to leave fabric 1 and 2 in strips for now which I will. My friend Cindy is going to do the challenge too! So we will e-mail back and forth and compare progress and results which will be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fabric Selection - Mystery Quilt 2012

Above is my numbered fabric choices as closely as I understand the instructions.

Fabric 2 is going to give me a little problems because in order to make the correct amount of 2.5 * 16.5 bars I am going to have to piece some scraps together. Right now fabrics 1 and 2 are still just in long strips.

Everything else is cut into their proper sized squares. Fabric 3 and 4 were initially selected to make me a skirt. Since that was probably at least 6 years ago I think it is safe to say I won't make the skirt. :)

I really am lacking in "hot" color value fabrics. This isn't really surprising when you consider the color choices I tend towards. Fortunately I had some reds left from various projects. This about cleans me out on reds.

Selecting for 7 was fun. I just stayed dark for the most part and fabric that got along with others.

All my photos seem to make the fabric all look a little more dark and muted than they are. That is OK though. Should be interesting to see if these all work together in the end!

It is pouring rain and dark out. It was a good day to get caught up on work and then finalize for my Mystery Quilt!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mystery Quilt

About three years ago I found a New Year's Day Mystery Quilt event but never tried it. I had been sent another one by a friend but it had a ton of applique in it which we all know I won't do. So I began my search from a mystery quilt that is more my style.

The biggest reason I have never done the New Year's Day challenge is because I knew I wasn't going to be home for a large portion of the day. This year is no exception but I am going to go for it anyway. I just will be starting hours behind (even worse since it is on east coast time).

On is the 2012 New Year's Day Mystery Quilt challenge by Janet Wickell. So far my primary complaint is the site. Despite a lot of really good discussion board technology out there they seem to have selected quite possibly the least usable format. I use a lot of discussion boards and I have never been on one so hard to use and navigate.

Today I started laying out my stash to see what I have to meet the requirements. My rules are I will not buy anything new for this quilt and it looks like I can make it work with what I have. I have even started doing some of the cutting.
Nim still doesn't show enough maturity for my sanity, but I was pretty impressed that he has stayed on his bed rather than walking all over my fabric. There is a mature dog in there yet!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Molly and Myrtle in their new cat tree!

The day was properly lazy including Harry Potter watching and knitting. Now I think I will actually remember part 1 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows enough to watch part 2 later.
It has been nice to have college sister home and she was a very good sport about modeling with her new quilt so I could put it on the blog. :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve

This morning I woke up to rain, darkness, and Rusty peeing the kennel. It took quite a bit to get my thinking brain on and build some patience. I decided to bake and cook and give Rusty some time out of the kennel.

First he got his peanut butter Kong and I got ready to cook. My plan was two recipes, one a vegan modification of a Turkey Pot Pie with Pumpkin Crust and the other recipe was Vegan Scones which were written as Ginger Currant but I switched to berry.

For the pot pie I substituted tempeh for turkey and my veggie mix was a little different. I used almond milk instead of dairy milk. I really liked the end result, I think it is probably too bland for most people but perfect for me. It will be a good dinner to eat over the next several days.

I almost didn't want to put a photo of my scones because when you look at the Daily Garnish photos hers are beautiful and mine are messy. :) Her blog is probably one of my favorites right now.

Obviously my modifications included removing all the spices, currants and ginger (nothing I had on hand). I added a heaping cup of frozen mixed berries and chopped them up a bit at the suggestion of my sister. I also use Ener-G egg Replacer (again, what I have on hand, although I am hearing a lot of good things about using Chia seeds), and I was in the mood for full whole wheat this time around.

I really enjoyed the recipe and will definitely do it again. I even froze the Earth Balance before hand.

You can see the bowing in Rusty's front legs are pretty bad right now. I have to keep reminding myself that this dog's body is pretty broken. He pushes my patience so much sometimes and it is just terrible in the cold and wet of winter.

Hopefully he will rest well and no accidents while I enjoy a Christmas Eve meal at the Mexican restaurant.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Lazy Friday

My goal for the Christmas weekend is to be as unscheduled and undemanding on myself as possible. I even had a plan laid out in case I didn't sleep again last night - which means naturally I did.

I shocked myself and Nim today by going for a little hike. Today I could have easily spent most of my time knitting and/or baking.

It was in-between rain "events" and I told myself that I would only go until
a. started pouring, or
b. I lost motivation.

The rain held off, but you can see we are totally clouded in. AND if I go out with friends tonight I know Nim will do better spending hours in the house with no stimulation because he got to burn off a bit.

In news regarding the the Solstice: the 21st may have actually been the shortest day. The entire thing is confusing to me. Regardless, I can say with absolutely happiness that at least one or two days ago, we passed the shortest day of 2011.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Good Morning Winter Solstice

Hooray! Shortest day of the year! I know, I have a long winter ahead, but it is still nice to know the days will slowly grow. Also, this morning is VERY cold, but we have sun!

I really wanted to hike but I am still not feeling great and I know better than to push it. So we did a short and gentle walk around town.

After a single day I have gone back to green tea. I actually don't mind black tea, but it is stronger and although I drank less than my normal daily ridiculous quantities of green tea I still think it kind of made me shaky. I will still drink it from time to time, but definitely not daily. Or I need to start with black and switch to green for the end of the day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Eve of the Solstice

Tomorrow is the day I am waiting for - then I will find something else to countdown. :) Shortest day of the year is almost here!

Today we got surprised by a bit of sun. I am not complaining and neither was Nim. It was cold but I made sure to get in a quick walk on a service road on Tiger Mountain.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Countdown to the Solstice - Surviving Tuesday

Before I could wash the dogs and get my grocery shopping done I had acupuncture. What was amazing was that she right away focused on my calves which have been really bothering me this past month. All the stress I am carrying is drawing all my energy up towards my head leaving my calves with very low energy. She also suggested I switch to black tea for awhile (I have developed a huge green tea habit being back in school). Black tea is more for the winter months while green is more spring/summer. I was actually able to find a little bit on about this online. I wish I knew more about the seasonal influence of what we eat/drink and when we need it.

After relaxing the last thing I wanted to do was wash the dogs and shop but I try to really streamline my trips out of the house. Once I got into the washing it was OK. First Nim...

I bathe the dogs at Le Chic Pet in the Issaquah Highlands. I actually found this place when in desperation I learned that the only self-wash place in North Bend was tubs in an open room. Definitely not an option with Rusty.

I really like the owner at Le Chic Pet - she is a very down to earth and nice woman.

Today we are trying a new shampoo on Nim. I have had luck with Emu oil on all his injuries and I am hoping the shampoo works well. He has a tendency towards dry skin. At least the smell wasn't offensive. Apparently it taste good too because he kept trying to lick it off.

Nim looking clean and angelic:

Rusty I wash last. He is about 30 pounds lighter and more frail and WAY more challenging to wash. We both hate it. He spends the entire time plotting his escape over the edge of the tub. Even Nim isn't so stupid as to think that would be a smart jump and it would hurt Rusty a lot more.

When Rusty isn't plotting his escape he is either people watching out the glass door or he is figuring out the least helpful way he can lock up his body to make the experience as miserable for me as it is for him.

The dog was STINKY! Between the cold, the mud, the accidents, the weekly swimming, being a had to be done.

Because it actually wasn't raining for long in Issaquah I took a break between stores to get both dogs out quickly. Not a great walk or adventure but at least it was more than was planned for them today.

Countdown to the Solstice - Tuesday AM update

I got about 9 hours of sleep last night. It has literally been MONTHS since I have slept that much. I keep trying, but my body and brain just doesn't want to sleep. It is a relief to actually get that much sleep.

I have noticed I am spending a lot of time on a handful of blogs - some helpful and inspiring, some not. I had to put myself on obsession restriction. I always can tell when I am doing more harm than good with my surfing because I feel worse than I already did! :)

So why not be better about updating my own blog?! Especially with things that matter to me. And especially when I have a cute photo of a shirt to post.

Saturday there was rumor of sun in in Seattle and I literally couldn't get out the door fast enough. First I walked Rusty around North Bend so that he could really stick it to all the visitors in town for the Santa Train by walking AS SLOWLY AS POSSIBLE in all the crosswalks. I am that person with the senior dog well behind me. Yup.

Then I loaded up Nim and we headed to the U District. Sidecar For Pigs Peace (lovely vegan store) was having a bake sale benefit for the Pigs Peace Sanctuary. Sun + vegan baked goods = relief for me.

You are looking at the front and back of my newest shirt! I have wanted to buy myself one for years and decided Saturday was the day. It is a nice green color and the pig is so adorable.

Overloaded in sugar, I then thought it would be a good idea to walk Nim around the U Village Mall. It wasn't - although some baffling people watching opportunities. We left the area and got as much sun as we could in the surrounding area before driving back to the darkness that is North Bend.
Today's big plans include Costco and washing the dogs. I didn't have much gifts to wrap this year, but the few I did are now done! (My apologies to my mom who I think is trying to catch up on way too much wrapping detail right now).