How Time Flies…

Hello Dear Sis,

I can’t believe it’s been over six years since we’ve sent each other mail. Time has really flown by, and yes, it seems the closer in proximity we are, the fewer the letters.

I do commend you on the redecoration of our blog. It is very well lit, homey, and warming. It’s the perfect place to visit, tea in hand, and chat with you for a while. Besides, how could I not approve of a lime green typewriter?

I understand what you mean about needing a break- time has felt like an unending tidal wave as of late. It has been all go go go over here, but I have been able to carve out a few minutes for myself. Time to pour yourself a cup, because I’ve brought a few snippets to share with you tonight.

As I sip my tea, some Constant Comment black by the way, let me share my past week with you. I have been working on a giant-ish Dory amigurumi for my goddaughter Q’s birthday.

I decided to double strand the fishie to make it bigger, and now my wrists are paying for it. Such a surprise, I know. It is now on hold, paused in the customary ami-jigsaw puzzle state, but should make a comeback soon.

While Dory was on ice, I attended to some Cthulhu-themed decorations for just such a game night we had over the weekend. There were tentacles everywhere… I used a $1 tablecloth to trace and cut hundreds of them:

After those, I proceeded to relive my grade school days by making some tissue paper Cthulhu banners. At first I completely forgot how to make these things, then after a few failed attempts, it all came back to me.

And finally, I made some pretzel rolls. Yep, you guessed it- Cthulhu themed. Here are the monsterous little balls of dough being prepped for the oven…

And then, after a baking soda bath and blue berries…

And finally, after the pretzelizing! (I apologize for the wonky pictures, the buns were getting devoured before I could get a good picture! Haha Cthulhu… devoured…. lol)

They tasted nummy, even if the yeast decided to die halfway through the baking process!

In other news, the Hubs is doing well. And now I realize, with out six year absence, that this is his first mention amongst our blog. Him and TeenieE will have quite the attentions in upcoming letters, I’m sure. For now, however, I would like to share a new crafting love of mine, bookbinding!

I have looked past this hobby many times over the years, and not quite sure what finally hooked me, but now the passion is pretty much here to stay. I have done a few books so far this past week, and here is my first:

A bit of rainbow paper

And then some stitching

And after a cover and some trimming…

Voila! Now you can probably see why I’m hooked!

Well, I just caught sight of the clock, and must get to bed. I hope the embargo on your sleep has come to an end by now. We all deserve a decent night’s sleep here and there.

Good night for now. Miss you and love you bunches!

-Omacella

P.S.: TeenieE puppy tax!

Tired Me

Dear Sis,

TinyM is on a sleep boycott. Therefore, my sleep has been embargoed. I have probably drank half a pot (or more) coffee this morning. We went to our normal breakfast place after mass. But being home now, I’m brewing a pot of Russian Caravan (from a tea shop named Mecca in Tulsa, Oklahoma – I’m not affiliated and receive no money from any clicks). If you haven’t had it, it smells like and tastes exactly like what one might think a campfire would taste like if liquified into a drinkable state. It’s ah-may-zing, and with the little amount of sleep I’m getting lately, is just the right strength (strong as possible!).

In other news, Hedwig’s proper wheel arrived the other day. She loves it, and all her new little ramps and such. She’s still not tame, but is definitely happier every day. We are making progress!

I go back to school tomorrow. I am not ready 😦 It’s been a while since I needed a break as badly as I needed this one. I think much of the need has come from either having my break stolen from me (having to attend professional development during any and all 3 day weekends), or from being sick during them. It was fabulous to finally have a break where I wasn’t sick. I got SO much done. I still have a ton more to do, but progress is being made on this front as well.

In boring for everyone else, but exciting for me news, I finally finished my Notre Dame class this week. It’s nice to have that finished. Almost everyone else planned to take theirs over the summer, but for several reasons, my friend and I decided to take ours together while class was still in session. Now that mine is done and everyone else’s is just starting, I can especially appreciate having taken it early. It’s nice to have that one big thing off my plate.

I don’t have a photo for this post, but I will give a big thank you to the photographer who took the photo of our new header. I don’t know who it is, but it came from a website called pexel, and the photo was just listed under an account “rawpexel.” So, to whomever took the photo, thank you! It’s beautiful.

Love you, Sis. Can’t wait to hear from you. I’m off to have my tea and plan some lessons. We’ll see if I can get myself caffeinated enough to manage some form of coherence. I hope you’re doing well, and hope to see you soon! Any plans for Easter?

❤ K

A Brand New Start

Dear Sis,

It has been 6 years. 6 years since our last digital letter. 6 years of so much life. Rather than even attempt to fill in any gaps, I’ll let the gaps fill themselves as needed. Instead, I’m going for a brand new start.

It has been such a very long time since I sat and had a cup of tea, since I sat with my yarn. These are the things that happened today that led me here. First, TinyM came and asked me if I had any yarn for the robins. I pretty much tore apart the storage room, but I knew I had a small bag of yarn ends in there somewhere. My total disregard for the mess I was making was rewarded, and as so infrequently happens these days, I found what I was looking for.

Yarn for robins!

Later, after picking up TinyM from preschool & having lunch, we sat down to watch his favorite show (Lots and Lots of Really Big Trains) on Amazon. While the show started, I brewed some tea (mixed jasmine & black) and considered what I would do while TinyM watched his show. I thought about yarn, but I’m so tired. It is nice to have the week off work, and I just got my room (mostly) straightened up. Then the smell of the tea hit me, and I was instantly reminded of this place, our place.

It would seem that since we live so much closer than before (just a few towns apart) we wouldn’t need letters, but I think we maybe need them now even more than before!

So… what is new? Well, in BIG news, I finally broke down and got a classroom pet. Or at least, I may have. We shall see if she makes it to school. TinyM has fallen in love. Meet Hedwig:

Meet Hedwig.

It’s a long story, but long story (relatively) short… I talked to a local pet shop a couple weeks ago, and a woman who looked like someone important told me she’d order what I was looking for and have one in the week after. I ordered her a pretty cute looking cage that seemed to match the size requirements for her. Fast forward a week, the cage is together and awaiting an occupant. I stopped by the shop & the same exact lady told me word for word the same thing. So I called 2 other pet shops nearby. Each of those didn’t even know what I was talking about. Finally, I called the place we found her. She came home with us and I was immediately aware her new stylish home was WAY too small. I fast ordered her the cage I should have ordered her in the first place, and spent the next day reorganizing my room to make space for Hedwig’s new digs. This was no small feat, considering. You know me: I won’t take out any furniture just because new furniture is being added! Hilariously enough, my room has never looked more spacious.

Because I hate sending things back (especially by mail), and because I wouldn’t want to donate the inhumane tiny cage and encourage anyone else to use it… both cages are now in my room. I cleaned out the tiny one, and it now has a much more appropriate life as a bookcase. Her wheel is still too small, but I couldn’t order the new one on rush. It will arrive asap, though! (And bonus… it’ll be purple.)

Horrible cage repurposed as a shelf… I now have the bottom filled as well.

With any luck, we will have cheerfully colored robins’ nests to look forward to, and everyone (including Granpa) is already enjoying our new housemate. I miss you, as always, and I love you!

❤ Kia

PS – tea: Arabian Night; on the needles/hook: socks… and have been since last summer

A Sleepy Kind of Year’s Start

Dear Sis,

It’s been a very sleepy sort of start to the year here.  I’ve been under a bit of a haze of appointments, crafting, and a really awful cold that’s been going around.  I, of course, caught the cold; and it went straight to my lungs and set up camp.  I’m much better, now, though so not to worry!  I went straight to the doctor and he gave me medicine to cure the infection.  I cannot believe it’s March already, though.  It feels like forever since I’ve written to you, and I wonder how the time got past me so easily.

First things, first, I suppose!  Tea:

It’s a new tea that I was gifted in a recent swap package, and it’s really yummy!  Even ArmyC will drink it with me when I make a pot.

Now,onto the crafting…

January, I made these dishcloths for the winner of a charity auction:

She was kind enough to gift me the pattern to make them, even!  And was so thrilled with them that she stated “these will never see the inside of a sink!” in response to my telling her not to be afraid to use them b/c they will be very hard wearing.  (You know how I crochet, haha.)

I also finished both my pink and turquoise prayer shawls that have been flying about my UFO (UnFinished Object) files for almost a year now!  They’ve already been sent off back home to Gram(ma), and taken to the church.

I was less than pleased with the turquoise one.  It’s just a plain simple stole shaped shawl, but as it was one of my first projects I failed to properly guess the center.  The seam actually runs a bit down one side, but there was nothing I could do to fix it other than unravel quite a bit of it.  Between you and me I was a bit tired of looking at the blue at this point, and found the Q sized crochet hook more cumbersome than I used to.  It’s been a long time since I picked up that large hook!

At the very end of January, my knitting group had a day where we made baby hats for charity.  You could also choose to make something for the seafarers, but those items would have taken me weeks!  They were things like sweaters (for grown men, no less!) and scarves in dk weight yarn.  I simply knew I’d never make it through one of those projects so I settled on making about 5 hats for babies of all sizes.

 

In February, I finished my teapot cozy:

I know, that’s not the camel teapot you gave me!  And it’s not the clear glass teapot I received in the Tea swap we took part in!  This seems to be the year of the teapot for me.  I’d seen the cozy pattern before, and it was one of my favorites, but I was not ready for the colorwork or the steeking or any number of other scary new knitting techniques that this project encompassed!  So I left it in my queue to make “someday”.  Besides, I reasoned, it will not fit either of my current teapots.  But a friend gifted me the pattern and asked me to knit it along with her for moral support.  How could I say no to that?!  It was great fun, and while it’s not perfect, I find it absolutely lovely.  And it turns out that having 3 teapots is a blessing.  I use the glass one for the especially pretty brews when I know I can sit and watch and refill it with hot water as needed.  (It’s a bit smaller than these other two.)  And the other two take turns being clean.  Since I have my pot of tea almost every day, there is always one that needs cleaning.

The theme of February seems to have been to learn new knitting things!  I made these blocks, and for them I had to learn to duplicate stitch.  It took quite a bit longer than I expected, but the results were very pretty for the most part.  And where the prettiness runs thin, I still like that they look a bit like worn wooden blocks with the paint coming off where they’ve been loved a bit too much.

These were for a swap where my partner has one little girl and one on the way.  Please ignore the poorly thought out photo that has the elements P, O, and S in that order.  I was taking these photos hurriedly, as the shipping deadline was the next day.

 

And lastly, March has been a month of finishing what I’ve started earlier, but have put off for one reason or another.  My knitting club is working on some Frankensocks where we each make a bit of a pair, and then swap every two weeks.  We started back in February, and I’m on the heels this week.  I’m currently working on a sweater, a doily, and a bag, each that I started back in December.  The only exceptions to this “finishing” of previous UFOs are some charity projects I’ve been whipping up (because I’ve been remiss about hooking up charity projects; I really have been), and this hedgehog that ArmyC requested especially:

Isn’t he just the cutest?  He now lives on ArmyC’s desk, in a nice pile of unfiled paperwork.  Hedgehog loves it.  And bonus, I’m getting much better at picking up stitches because of him.

 

Well, that’s pretty much all the news from out here in rainy Washington.

 

For now, I think I’m going to toss some laundry in to wash, make an early lunch, and see if I can’t settle in to watch my very favorite version of Little Women.

(I just received the DVD version in the mail from a friend!  My VHS version was on it’s last leg, and I’ve never found this version on DVD myself so I am eternally grateful to her.  I’ve already watched it once since receiving it just this past weekend!)

Then it should be about time to drive over, and pick ArmyC up from work.  (I have the car today since because I had an appointment this morning.  I have to go once every week now for my allergy immune boosting shots.  It chops up my day a bit to drive him to and from work so it’s hard to remember to get laundry in sometimes to be done before I need to leave again or I’ll get right into the middle of a chore and I’ll have to stop, but as it’s necessary and only one day per week I really cannot complain too much!)

 

I miss you so much!  And I really do hope you can get away to visit.  Tell Buffalo and Zeus and everyone that I say “hello”.  =)

All our love from ArmyC and me,

❤ K

PS – Talk to you soon, I hope! 🙂

 

A Season’s Change… part 2

Tea brewing: Peppermint/Women’s Herbal combo (Ahhhh… )

Hello dear Sis.  It’s been far too long since I’ve talked with you last.  As I look sit and ponder the changing of the seasons, I’ve realized that so much has happened.  So many things I must tell you about.  But first, I am very happy to see that my suggestions for your weekday blues made you feel much better!  I’d like to think that sitting by a window recharges one’s batteries, providing enough power to make it out of the horrible “rut of blues.”    I think your day ended up being wonderfully productive, as well.  And a big MMMMMMmmmmm….. on the delicious apple bread!  Those pictures make me want to head for the kitchen and start cooking, even if it is late.

On that note I suppose I could start to catch you up with all the happenings out my way.  My mom, nieces, and I went for our yearly apple orchard outing this past weekend.  Although, it was a lot of fun, sadly the orchard lost over 70% of its crop this year.  The orchard did an amazing job of recovering from the devastation.  By joining together with several other orchards, our go-to apple picking spot was able to stay open!  There were signs all over saying, “It’s raining apples!” For most of the day we were all confused.  “What are they talking about?”  It was only when we went out for a tractor ride among the trees, that we finally got the slogan.  Throughout the entire orchard, in every tree, was a “gutter” full of apples!  The owners of CL wanted to make sure that they didn’t just stay open, but were still able to provide a traditional family experience.  Over 3 miles of gutters were put in just for this cute little idea, too!  On the good side, it did make things a bit easier, for example no more apples out of reach at the tops of trees.  The workers had already picked them for everyone.  All the little children still got to go on the tractor ride, “pick” apples, and muck around in the raining weather wearing their cute galoshes!  Squee!  As always, we wait all year for the wonderful, hot, delicious apple cinnamon donuts that the orchard makes.  We came prepared, too, this year, with milk in hand.  I wish you could have seen the girls all bundled up, goofing around, and having fun!  I thought about getting you some apples while we were there, but given where you live, I think you have plenty 😉

Oh, and our little C got to come over and spend the night with the girls, too!  All of us, my mom included mind you, played Rock Band!  It was hilarious and fun and all around amazing.  We all took a field trip to 3 Game Stops that day getting an instrument and used games that were severely cheap!  I mean a game or .89, cheap!  After I don’t know how many updates, passwords, usernames, and Lord knows what else, we got back up online and had fun “rocking out.”  Did I mention the new instrument was a keyboard?  Now that was funny to see!!

I thought of you and ArmyC the other day, as well!  Why?  Well, I made my favorite soup to make in the Autumn and I thought of you.  But before that, I tried a new sushi and thought of Chris.  Hehe  I forgot to take a picture of the sushi right away, so I hope you won’t mind that a couple of pieces are missing 😀

The soup is called “Autumn Greens Soup”, and is basically all the in season greens with a potato and chicken stock.  However, there’s some chili flakes for unexpected, but not overwhelming, heat.  Little C came over a week later and really wanted to learn to cook.  So, she learned how to make this soup and had quite a time doing so!  Here’s a photo for you (don’t forget to scratch and sniff!).

On my way home today, I ran into MamaB and Babymama at the store.  Our sis cut off all her hair, and I barely recognized her!  I got to see pictures of our little nephew, and he is so adorable.  Definitely looks like his mommy, and eats Oreos like his mommy!

As always, I’ve been yarning away.  Just last week I sent out four packages for birthdays and a swap!  Whooo!  Now, I’m on to a shawl, a neck warmer, and who knows what else.  With the holidays right around the corner, I am desperately trying to keep my head down and focused on what needs to get made.  For the most part I believe I have 90% of the brainstorming and supplies gathering complete, it is the last 10% that is proving to be a bit buggy.  I’m either over inspired or not nearly enough so.  On a happier note, I am very excited, though, for our tea swap!  Too excited probably!  Naw… one can never be too excited for tea or a swap!!!

Oh, dear!  It’s gotten rather late on me tonight!  I best be off soon, for I have an early day tomorrow!  But before I go, I must tell you two things:

First, we have a new family member here at the green cottage, a four-legged one.  We affectionately call him Zeus, and he is the cutest little rolley-polley of a bulldog I’ve seen in some time!  Say hi Auntie M!

The second is that Buffalo says “Hi!”  and that he misses you!

Well, I lied.  There’s a third thing.  I love you and miss you terribly, Sis!

All the love in the world and speak with you soon, Li’l M <3.

Penzey’s Apple Bread – Slightly Modified

As promised, here is the Apple Bread Recipe I used along with the modifications I made to it.  I don’t know why it took me so long to get this up here since I posted this on a forum about a week ago or so.  Anyway, just to reiterate, this is a Penzey’s Spices recipe.  I simply make comments.  Also, a few points during my comments, I make it clear that I did not use Penzey’s Spices.  While this is true, I don’t want to come off as if I don’t like their spices.  I simply didn’t have the needed spices from them, and didn’t think it would make such a difference in the outcome that I needed to obtain any before baking.  Anyway, here it is:

I found this stuffed in my recipe book today & decided that I’d try it. (Husband and I bought an insane amount of apples a couple weeks ago intending to bake pie or something, & I never got around to it.) It was one I’d picked up at a Penzey’s Spice shop once. It’s actually really good & goes well with, you guessed it, tea. I made some small changes…

…which I’ve bolded.

Apple Bread
Bread:
  • 4 Cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped, (we used McIntosh) (I used 1 granny smith, 1 yellow delicious, & 2 small red something or others.)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 Cup vegetable oil (we like canola) (I used Wesson. Whatever; it’s all the same, no? 😛 )
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. PENZEYS CINNAMON (Erm… I used whatever brand is hanging out in my cabinet. I can tell you it wasn’t Penzey’s.)
  • 3 Cups all-purpose flour (we used unbleached) (Again, I used whatever is in the giant clear jar. I don’t know what it is b/c it fits a whole bag & then I throw said bag immediately into the recycle.)
  • 2 Cups granulated white sugar
Topping:
  • 3/4 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 Cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 tsp. PENZEYS CINNAMON (To repeat, I used whatever brand is hanging out in my cabinet. I can tell you it wasn’t Penzey’s.)
  • 1/2 Cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease two standard bread loaf pans and set aside. Peel, core and slice the apples. Cut into good-sized chunks, about 1 inch in size. (I decided this was nonsense & cut them into thinner slices. I let my husband play with his apple-corer-peeler-cuts-in-a-spiral thingy. The spiral comes off about a quarter inch thick, and then I just turned the apple back up and cut the entire spiraled apple into 6 wedges.) In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the oil and beat until combined. Add the vanilla extract, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Beat until thoroughly mixed. Next, add the flour and sugar and mix on low just to blend. Turn the mixer to high and beat until mixture is smooth. The batter will be very thick, almost like cookie dough. Fold in the chopped apples, mixing by hand with a spoon so the apples do not get broken up. (I used my stand mixer so for this whole process so for this step, I just switched the paddle for the dough arm attachment. No apple bits were “broken up” or otherwise harmed due to this modification.) Divide the mixture between the two pans. Since the batter is so thick, it is easiest to spoon the batter into the pans. To prepare the topping, combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut the butter into the mixture with a fork until all ingredients are moist and crumbly. If you don’t mind a little mess, it is faster to use your hands. Sprinkle equal amounts of topping on each loaf. Bake for about 1 hour on the center rack of the oven. The loaf should feel fairly firm when touched in the middle; if not, bake an extra 5 minutes. (After an hour and 5 minutes, neither loaf felt “firm” in the middle. I removed them anyway. Good thing, too, because they were getting a little too brown on the edges/bottom. They were fully cooked inside.) Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pans. It is easier to slice the bread if you can wait until it is at least mostly cool.
Prep. time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 60-65 minutes
Yield: 2 loaves, 24 slices (No way does this make 24 slices. I got 16: 8 from each loaf. If you cut them thin enough to get 12 from each, you’ll have apple pile-of-crumbly-stuff, not apple bread-slices.)
Nutritional Information:
Servings 2; Serving Size 1 slice (80g); Calories 270; Calories from fat 120; Total fat 14g; Cholesterol 45mg; Sodium 330mg; Carbohydrate 36g; Dietary Fiber 1g; Sugars 20g; Protein 3g.
ETA:
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Good luck, and I hope you enjoy!

❤ K