Friday, September 26, 2008

Autumn is here!

I love this time of the year - the weather cools down, the leaves change color, and the pumpkins and squash arrive at the produce stand up the road. I've always liked being able to walk up the road and get fresh veggies and fruit when it's in season. Yesterday I felt the need for some squash soup. I really like this stuff - everyone else seems to like it too, leftovers disappear out of the fridge quickly so you have to move fast if you want any. The recipe uses butternut squash, which is a bit difficult to cut and peel so I usually score the outside, put it on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for an hour or two - until it's soft and cooked through. Then I let it cool for a bit and scrape out the inside of the squash to use in the soup (or whatever else you need it for). Here's the recipe - thanks to my sister for this one:

Corn and Squash Soup
12 Bacon strips, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped (I usually skip this because I usually don't have celery)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) chicken broth
6 cups mashed, cooked butternut squash
2 cans (8 3/4 oz. each) cream-style corn
2 cups half-and-half cream
1 tablespoon minced, fresh parsley (I use the dried)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Sour cream (optional)
In a large saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels; drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings. In the drippings, sauté onion and celery until tender. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually stir in broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Reduce heat to medium. Stir in the squash, corn, cream, parsley, salt, pepper and bacon. Cook and stir until heated through. Garnish with sour cream if desired. Yield: 8 servings (2 1/2 quarts).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My Sewing Machine Dilemma

So for six months I've had the BabyLock Quest machine. I really thought that this would be a wonderful machine. I had issues with the bobbin case right off the bat, and then assorted other minor aggravations along the way. All in all, I didn't much like the darn machine the more I used it. I started looking around and researching machines (again!) to see what my options were. The nice thing about it was that I could take it back to the dealer and trade up for a different machine and get 100% of my purchase price toward the new machine. After much discussion with other sewing machine owners and reading of all sorts of reviews online - and having to haul my machine into the shop a couple times for more aggravations - I decided to just go for it and traded it in for a BabyLock Espire. When I used this one at the store, it was SO much better than mine that I was instantly in love with it. But I did try out a number of features and checked it out just to make sure this was really it. I've had a couple of tension issues, most likely due to user error - I'm still getting used to the thing and still have to figure out what all it does. But I'm really liking it so far. I love the automatic threader, great for the old eyes.....and the thread cutter thing is pretty cool too. I can touch the screen and bring up all kinds of menus of stitches, information about what each is for - even little mini tutorials on how to do many things like flat felled seams, smocking, etc. I'm so glad I finally decided to get this machine I can get back to my regularly scheduled sewing.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sewing, sewing....

I've been hiding out here in my little corner of the house, me and my sewing machine....trying to get stuff made. Got a wild hair and signed up for a craft show on September 20th. Then figured out I'd better get busy and make enough stuff so it doesn't look too sparse. Which means my sewing room is starting to look like a disaster area. I'm focusing on shopping/grocery bags first - this is what I've gotten done in the last two days. I loved the print here with the bottles and jars of olives, oil and vinegars - wish I would have gotten more of it. I think it's a perfect print for a grocery bag. The green, white and lavender circular print is neat too - it kind of reminds me of sand dollars. And then one of my personal favorites - this print by Michael Miller called 'Lettuce Entertain You'. Aren't these vegetables fun?? This would be a great conversation piece at the grocery store. Almost as good as the bag of mine that has bras and underwear print fabric. !! Hopefully these and the rest will find new homes at the craft show - whatever doesn't I can always list in the Etsy shop.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Random Kitchen Goodies

Happy Labor Day to everyone in the U.S. that is celebrating...or working (it bites to have to work on a holiday). Nothing very exciting here but cleaning, cooking, sewing..and all that jazz. I thought that I would share some fun stuff I've acquired lately for my kitchen collection. First off is one of my bright new switch and outlet covers I bought from rathina on Etsy. She kindly made me an entire set for my kitchen. Pardon the ugly beige walls - I plan on painting sometime in the next couple weeks or so - it desperately needs some brightening up. I love the vegetable print though - it's cute and bright and really adds some fun to the kitchen walls.

And here is a really interesting hot pad that I bought from zemphira, also on Etsy. It's like a little miniature work of art! I love this hot pad - it's too pretty to use even, I have it hanging up so it can be seen by everyone. She has some other neat things like art quilts - very beautifully done.

Then there's my latest fascination - melamine! I know, this stuff has been around for ages - but I have recently developed a fondness for these plastic spatter patterned items. I saw a bowl in Fishs Eddy in NYC once, but they were gone when I went back later some time for one. So I cruised Ebay and found some neat vintage bowls. And one day I hit the jackpot - a set of melamine trays! Oh, do these remind me of my school cafeteria days...collecting lunch on a divided plastic tray...with the little slot for silverware, food stuffs and of course the little square carton of milk. And they are the most beautiful shade of green - my favorite - with a fantastic pattern of many colors. I love these trays! I like to get them out for picnics and such...and hey, at least your food stays separate so your potato salad doesn't touch your hamburger - what anarchy that would cause! These have got to be on the top of my 'fabulous finds' list for this year - may everyone find some little gem that makes you happy.