Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fastest October Ever

Normally I wouldn't hold back complaining about the constant rain right now, but the storm in the Northeast has me so stressed out that I am not even going to whine about our standard seasonal weather.

We even had a sun break yesterday.

This past weekend was a dog show in Ridgefield, WA (this is the Vancouver area) and it didn't go so well which I took surprisingly hard. But I know a lot of that is the additional life stress.

I would like to acknowledge The Shilo Inn for being so accommodating to my meltdown. They totally went above and beyond and I will absolutely remember them for it.

Needing a plan for this week, I woke up Monday morning re-dedicating myself to studying. This is my standing workstation solution (I go completely bonkers sitting too long):

I like to stand at an ironing board and knit when I have a lot of Webinars or slideshows to get through. The project has to be mindless enough that I can pay full attention and even set it down to take notes.

I also had a meeting last night and decided to make them my victims for gluten free baking (which I only marginally know what I am doing). There is a big request for it at an upcoming auction and I just don't eat that way enough to trust my own judgement.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Doughtzel Balls:

I used Bob's all purpose gluten free (1.5 cups, I didn't have almond flour and didn't want to buy it) and no xanthan gum. I find xanthan expensive for someone who is not gluten free and except for the fact these cookies came out a bit "flat" it didn't matter in the least - they were good stuff. I got strong approval from my test crowd. :)

Have a great week and keep your thoughts towards the Northeast. Just reading about all that is going on over there and all of them without power is enough to feel right in your stomach.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sidecar for Pigs Peace Halloween Bake Sale

This has been such a full month, but so much of it not really worth blogging about...you know how that goes? It would be nice if some of my projects would actually complete!

It has also been rainy and my car has been in and out of the shop.

The cats seem to be coping.

Nim, not so much.

Yesterday after they put my car back together so that I could make an appointment this morning I took him into town for a dog wash because it was getting dark and he was driving me nuts. This is a place where all tubs are side by side so the dogs are in misery together. That was about as exciting as his day got.

I am really backing off bake sales and charity baking right now. But when I saw Sidecar for Pigs Peace still needed bakers to benefit the Pigs Peace Sanctuary I couldn't turn them down.

First I roasted another sugar pie pumpkin and did some seeds for me:

Then I started a new recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie...homemade oreos. The dough is amazing. I hid it in the fridge while I went to work on my other plans.

From Post Punk Kitchen I settled on the Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf.

It is unbelievably good. I stayed true to recipe. Looking at the comments, several people cut the sugar. I didn't find it overly sweet however it is very rich.

My other new recipe was from Eating Bird Food and it was her pumpkin oatmeal cookies.

This is another really great recipe. I think you could cut the sugar especially if you like the spice with the pumpkin like I do. I would personally cut the salt next time but other than that, a REALLY nice cookie, and not overly sweet or rich.

I also made Oh She Glows homemade pumpkin butter again. I am on the fence about making this for the public. After some research, turns out that you shouldn't can pumpkin butter...not that I know how to can anyway but I was willing to try.

I do know there is going to be a set of the population not comfortable with a jar that doesn't "pop." It is too bad because it is a great gift idea too.

Finally I returned to my oreos. They were my bake sale wild card.

They are very satisfying to make and fun to put together. You can see the filling is a little crumbly which will probably vary from person to person because of the coconut butter.

I decided they were not a good bake sale candidate because I was worried they wouldn't hold up to bagging. However they would be great at a party on a platter.

I wish I could remember the site I saw this, but basically the site suggested you dehydrate the pumpkin skins (nothing wasted) to make "chips." I actually forgot I left these in the oven until I downloaded this photo. They are really good! They get less chewy as they dry out and have more a sweet taste to them than I anticipated.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sewing area and Tova

My only working car went into the shop on Friday and so this is a home-bound weekend.

Since I had to cancel everything I had planned, I woke up Saturday deciding that if it ever stopped raining I need to tackle the last piece of combining living spaces...the sewing area.I have been putting this off because I am a little stressed about having sewing clutter in my living space.

This is the most happy the cats have been during all this moving.

I got the sewing area minimally set up and then it finally stopped raining so I went out to rake leaves while Nim lined up his babies:

He then does this running pattern in which he will carry one, drop it somewhere, re-circle, and pick-it back up on the way back through.

I was all set to finish the shirt yesterday. I want it off the machine so I can return to quilts. I got the hem done.

Then I started sewing the cuffs on the sleeves...and that folks is what I will be ripping back this fine Sunday morning.

I wasn't consulting the verykerryberry Tova Sew-A-Long or I would have remembered that since I cut the 3/4 sleeves short I need larger cuffs (my upper arm is definitely bigger than my lower arm).

Maybe it will get done today. Maybe.

Have a gentle Sunday to hopefully start off a really good week. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Keeping Cats Happy and Pumpkin Butter

Happy soggy Friday to everyone out here. Some weeks you need a weekend just so the week will end...for me this is one of them.

Originally this post was only going to be for pumpkin butter. Yesterday as I started cooking I was constantly interrupted by the cats fighting. I finally realized the problem might be Emile off his morning blanket routine which is disrupted by my office (and Nim) now in his space.

I set up a blanket in his other favorite place:

Emile under blanket, Leela next to him, all was right in his world, until...

Then they resumed positions.

In the meantime I got my pumpkins and seeds roasted. The seeds have vinegar, pepper, and a bit of salt. The pumpkin butter recipe is: Oh She Glows: All-Natural Pumpkin Butter

The recipe is very straight forward. I did 1/2 cup (single cup servings) of unsweetened applesauce because that is what I had on hand and once I opened it I decided to dump the entire thing in.

The version on the right has maple syrup but no added sugar, the version on the left has the maple syrup and the brown sugar (you can tell by the darker color).

For the public I would make the sugar version. I was trying out cutting the sugar because frankly that is a lot of sugar, but without, the butter doesn't really caramelize or set the same (although to me, not as big of a taste difference as you might think). I could try next time doing the sugar first and limiting or not adding the maple syrup at all.

For me I would probably spice it up more. :) But either way it is a good recipe. Kind of like eating pumpkin pie filling without the crust.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sleep Like a Dog

Nim is all blissed out after some hiking and a swimming session with Cindy at Aquadog Spa.

I so rarely get a sleep like this.

I pretty much woke up this morning finally feeling like I have really run myself into the ground this month. I tried to make this a more balanced day.

In-between storms we are getting some fantastic fall weather.

I am trying to break in a new pair of hiking boots after my old pair finally completely fell apart during the Oregon trip. This is an entirely new manufacturer for me because I won't drive to downtown Seattle and they aren't stocking the Raichle any more in Issaquah. So far so good.

My rally instructor loaned me "Compete in Joy" for my first trial. I liked it so much that I ended up buying the book for myself. I think even if you just want to keep things in perspective when working and training your dog (regardless of competition) you will still enjoy it. It is very much a gentle, feel-good book that reminds me why I train and cherish our relationship.

Thanks to Brittany talking about Trader Joe's pumpkin butter (not vegan) I was inspired to try making a vegan pumpkin butter recipe. I desperately need a "baking creation" and if I like it, it might be a good item for an upcoming auction. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Busy October

This has to be one of the busiest Octobers I have ever had.

I successfully condensed my work space down to my main living area. This should make my life easier in the cold and wet weather and I am hoping will cut down on my heating bill.

Nim has more or less accepted the arrangement. The bed is right next to my desk so if he is on the bed he is pretty much at an accessible level if he wants attention; which is all the time. 

Pascal is also in the bedroom/office area (to be honest, my house is basically one open living space - the only closing door is the bathroom one).

The cats took the move the hardest and they didn't even go anywhere. It was just all the change. They literally didn't shut up for 2 days.

My job will be over at the end of the month. Right now between closing down that job and job hunting I spend a lot of time adhered to my chair. And did I mention it has been pouring rain?

Naturally we finally get a break in the weather after I have finished the second stage of a huge lunch (to keep my energy up for all the sitting). I looked at Nim, I looked out the window, I thought of the work I had to do...and we still went for it. 

My body and my stomach didn't get along for about the first mile or so but other than that the rain held and this was probably the best thing I could have done for myself and Nim.

I am going through sewing and knitting withdrawal as we speak. Hopefully I will get an area set up for that soon but realistically, I don't have a lot of extra time right now.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

First Rally Obedience Trial, Broken Bumper, October!

I can't believe we are already a week solid into October! Because I didn't get into "traditional" fall quarter at school this time around my last week and a half have been more scattered while I tried to figure out other educational and job options.

Some happenings:

September 30th (Saturday) I drove out to Kennewick, WA for our first ever rally obedience trial. This would be our first run towards our Novice A title (you have to qualify in three runs).

I considered not posting this link of our run (which did qualify). It is not the most precise or gorgeous thing, but I was WAY more nervous that I thought I would be and we did the best we could. Enjoy. (And yes, everything is going into leash handling right now - I lost most points on tight lead...we have more runs later in the month).

On the way back home the winds of the Yakima Valley drove the final stake into my already damaged bumper:

I owe a lot to a very nice guy to heard me drive into the gas station with my dragging bumper (like anyone missed it) and helped me get it tied to my toe hook.

I got it fixed on Wednesday. It only took about 2.5 hours which made for a nice walk.

(Mt. Si. in the background)

For the first time in literally years this car went through a car wash:

We are having really nice days that freeze at night. Today I sucked it up and did my first ton of wood pellets. 1/2 in the truck that only marginally runs and had the good sense to make it home before it complete stop running and 1/2 in the other car. Nim took a nap for both of us:

Sadly I think it is finally time to "donate" the truck. I will miss it but in the past few years it has gotten a new clutch and timing belt and I think I have hit my spending limit on it.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend. I am trying to condense down to one living space (as opposed to a separate office) and this is not going as smoothly as I had hoped, but I am planning on more progress this coming week.