Wednesday, February 26, 2020

What would you be relieved to be rid of?

Recently, when watching youtube videos on the topic of minimizing, I came across the one below.  Vera offers  up 10 questions to use when decluttering.  My first thought was that surely there was nothing new here, but I figured it might be worth listening to anyway.  Check it out if decluttering, minimizing, or even just evaluating your shopping habits is something you're interested in:

I was actually surprised.   While I suppose the concepts behind the questions aren't exactly new, the questions themselves provided just enough newness that it sparked some motivation to once again get with the program of downsizing, getting rid of, minimizing...

The question that really struck me was, "If someone told me I HAD to get rid of this [insert object here] and I didn't have a choice, would I secretly feel relieved?"

I instantly recognized this question as being a form of one I often ask myself:   "Does this item spark guilt?"  Or, the idea of feeling relieved is similar to the experience I have when something I've been hanging onto is found ruined somehow.  Once I get over the initial feeling of guilt or frustration that I allowed something to become ruined, I'm actually relieved to just toss the thing and be done with it. It doesn't make me feel virtuous to have these feelings, or to admit this, but I doubt I'm unique in having this experience.

Interestingly, as I turned away from the computer my eyes landed on the magazine below - that somehow had gotten loose from the stack of crochet and knit magazines I was sorting through earlier.  

Applying the question to it, I instantly knew the answer to the question was "Yes!  I'd feel relieved if I was forced to get rid of it."   For some reason I hang onto it - I'm sure because it sparks some feelings of nostalgia.  But honestly, not enough to warrant hanging on to it.  I love me a fun granny square, but seriously...  I'm not going to make anything in this magazine!  Ever!

Then I decided to do a quick walk through some rooms and within about 5 minutes of just opening some closets and some drawers, I quickly came up with this collection of stuff that I also feel relieved to part with:

Who knows why these things didn't make the cut when I was decluttering in November, or since then, but today I say an easy "Bye-Bye!" to them.  

While it's only a few items, I feel lighter.  I feel lighter when anything leaves the house anymore.  And armed with some questions asked in fresh-to-me ways, I think I'm finally motivated to dive into some specific spaces for cleaning and decluttering as thoughts are turning to spring.

On my list of obvious areas to declutter/downsize:

  • pantry
  • closets by front door
  • my clothes closet
  • bathroom linen closet
  • storage area - that is our furnace room
  • laundry room
  • a paper crafting space off my closet
  • an alcove that mostly contains books and DVDs
  • and always...  books.

I don't know where I'll start first.  I may start on one and change my mind.  Honestly, none of these spaces appeals to me at all to pull apart, sift through, and put back together.  But hopefully by next week about this same time I'll have made a decision and will have made headway on tackling one of these areas.   If so, I'll be back to report on it!  😊

Sunday, February 23, 2020

A favorite...

For weeks, I resisted the urge to start yet another project, but this week I finally gave in.  I started on my third Leaping Stripes Blanket.   

I enjoy making new things, but I love having favorite patterns that I can return to and remake in different ways.  Nevermind that this blanket is (so far) identical to one I made a few years ago.  That blanket was donated to charity.  This blanket will never run into the first one, so all's well.

One of the things I love about this pattern is that it makes good use of variegated yarn - so much so that I have actually bought variegated yarns in the past with the intention of making more of these blankets.   The variegated used below is Red Heart Soft in the colorway Plummy.  I've combined it with lilac and white.  I can tell I'm going to have to buy more of the Lilac color before this is finished, but I'm plowing through a lot of Plummy and White  yarn from my stash!

About 1/3 of the way finished, here's a close up of the stitches:

Another thing to love about the stitch pattern is that it's completely unnecessary to weave in bunches of ends if one uses just three different colors.  The yarn is carried up one side and then crocheted over when creating a border.  What's not to love about that!

It's a super simple stitch pattern, but Tamara Kelly has created a video tutorial to make it even simpler.  😊

To see what other YOPers are up to, 
visit their blogs in my sidebar.  👉

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Sausage Lentil Soup - Carrabba's copycat

We ate at Carrabba's for the first time this winter and I had some Sausage and Lentil Soup as a first course.   Honestly, soup isn't something I normally order at a restaurant for some reason, but maybe it came with a meal.  I don't know.  All I remember for sure is there were two soup choices, the waiter recommend their Sausage and Lentil Soup, I said okay.  

It was more than okay.  It was delicious!  At home, I went looking for a similar recipe and found numerous ones online.  They don't vary much from each other, so I chose one that looked the most straight forward.  The recipe I used (and adapted) can be found here: Sausage Lentil Soup by Boos Mom.  

I've typed out the recipe below because there are some measurements that didn't make it into the original recipe.  I also made some minor changes.  If you try it, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Sausage and Lentil Soup (like Carrabba's)

1 lb ground Italian Sausage
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
7 cups chicken broth
2 (14 1/2 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2-3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 tsp salt
2 cups dry lentils 
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp thyme
1-2 bay leaves

Note: I used dried spices

Saute vegetables in small amount of olive oil 'till they begin to soften.  Set aside.

Brown Italian sausage and drain.  

In a large pot combine sausage and sauteed vegetables.  Add remaining ingredients.

Bring to a simmer.  Stirring off and on, simmer in open pot for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Remove bay leaves before serving.

Hubs sprinkled some shredded cheese in his, but I liked this with nothing more added to mine. 

This soup freezes great.  In fact, today we finished off what I froze when I first made this in January.  It was just as delicious as when first served.  I'm not an eater of super spicy foods, but this has a perfect amount of kick for us.  If you'd prefer it less spicy, I imagine using less red pepper flakes would help to manage that.

We enjoyed ours today with some grilled cheese sandwiches made with sliced Everything French Bread.  Mmmmm.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher progress...

The only crafting I managed to do this week was to spend a few hours cross stitching my Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher:

I'm loving how it's turning out.  That said, the body and the branch are tedious to stitch, and I know there are mistakes - some I ripped out and did over, but some are just going to stay and I'll be the only one who knows they're there (even though I wouldn't be able to find them myself).

I'm also understanding now why people invest a lot of money in a decent stand (to hold the frame the piece is on).   While the frame above is small-ish and isn't heavy at all, any type of frame (even a hoop) can get tiring to hold.  And with so much detail in a piece like this, and because I remove my glasses for the close-up work, it all just becomes very cumbersome to shift my focus from the fabric to the pattern while holding onto a frame.  

So I'm going to be doing some homework and studying what's available, comparing stands to what my true needs are, and hopefully I'll find one that works well for me.   

To see what other YOPers are up to, 
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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Some yummy (and somewhat healthier) banana bread...

With my husband back home this week (after his spending time at his mother's last week) I'm back to cooking like it matters. Yeah, I know it matters all the time, but when I get some time alone I live like I don't really believe that.


Knowing hubs would enjoy some banana bread, I decided today was the day to bake like it matters.

While I normally use some amount of whole wheat flour when making most baked goods these days, I can never remember if I should use hard or soft whole wheat flour in something like banana bread, so I googled it.  When I did, this recipe popped up (from Heavenly Homemakers).

I'm not a big fan of honey, in general, but I was intrigued that the recipe above only calls for 1/3 cup of  honey instead of the 1 cup of sugar the recipe I normally use calls for.   Honey and sugar have a similar Glycemic Index, but if I'm only using a third of cup of honey that's a significantly lower GI overall for this recipe than my normal one, so I figured it was a recipe worth trying.

It was significantly less sweet than what we're accustomed to, but both DH and I thought it tasted good.  Not dessert good (which my regular banana bread is), but for a healthy alternative?  Yeah!  It was okay.

Okay enough that I decided to make a second loaf.  But when I got out my cell phone (where I had originally pulled up the recipe) I had somehow lost the page.  And I couldn't find it again no matter what I looked up (forgetting what I had googled when I found the recipe).

BUT...  googling "banana bread with whole wheat flour and honey, I came across this Healthy Banana Bread recipe and even though it called for coconut oil rather than butter, and it had cinnamon and water, and it didn't have baking powder, I decided it was close enough.  

I made the second recipe, waited for it to bake then cool enough to remove from the pan for a taste test.  Even with the cinnamon in it, it pretty much tasted like the first loaf I had made.  (Edited to add...  tonight, hubs said it tasted "apple-y".  I think it was the cinnamon he was tasting and apple-y was the best he could come up with to describe it.)  It was a bit moister (than the first recipe) - even though I cooked it a tad long and it browned a bit too much on the bottom.  

But, still...  it held the same "Yeah!  It's okay" appeal.  And since (at the time) the second recipe was still on my phone I decided to print that one out to keep.

And that's when I realized I had forgotten to add vanilla.  It's also worth noting I substituted 1/4 cup of sour milk for hot water.   And I used some unbleached flour from my cupboard in place of a bit of the whole wheat flour.  I used a cup or more of walnuts ('cuz I always add more nuts than any recipe calls for), and I added some ground flax seed (probably close to 1/4 cup).

About this time, I also remembered what search terms I used when I found the first recipe above (which is why I can link to it here, and I have since printed that one out, too).

Honestly, the above recipes are both keepers, in my opinion.  I'm going to experiment with using olive oil instead of coconut oil, and next time I make it I'm going to actually measure the ground flax seed and walnuts.  If I manage to do all that so that I'm confident of my adaptations, I'll type it up and share it. 

Meanwhile,  if you're open to trying a not-very-sweet banana bread, I highly recommend the two recipes linked to above with a slight preference for the second one.   

Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst..."   John 6:35

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Has it only been a week?

Somehow, this past week has felt more like a month...

Post has been edited to remove some information that I've since thought better about posting to WWW.  Carry on...

Hubs has been gone for the last 3 days and is driving home through slushy slush as I type. 

I thought I'd get so much done while he was gone, but at the moment I can't account for a lot.

There was lunch one day with a friend and her mother.  Her mother (who is just a few years younger than my MIL) is like an older version of my friend.  Double the fun!

I worked a couple of days this past week with Ruth.  In some ways she appears to be holding steady - and is as sweet as ever.  On the other hand, she's losing interest and stamina for some of the things we've done in the past.  I know this is the progression her condition, and I'm thankful it has been slow and I have enjoyed so many good days with her.  Still do enjoy our time together.  Just differently.

With hubs gone I thought I'd get to some more "minimizing".  But I really didn't have the focus for it.  Wishing I'd plowed ahead through something anyway.  

But I didn't.  

No sense regretting what is behind, I guess.

I did finish Part 4 of Sacred Space.  This section was mostly black with the addition of  yellow.  It doesn't look like much right now, but it's important to photograph each finished part if I want to look back on the evolution of it - which is fun to do.

At 49 inches across already, I'm sure I won't be making this full sized.  After one more part in the round, I'll have a better idea of when I'll be calling it quits.


And then I thought this might be of interest... 

Early in the week I got word that someone who was at last weekend's rummage sale/fundraiser wanted to know if I had more dishcloths I'd like to sell.  I heard a groan slip out as I felt an unwelcome and unasked for angst over knowing I can't, with a straight face, ask a price that does justice to the time they take to knit. 

But thinking of them as a contribution to a fundraiser, I was able to quickly put the groaning away.  

I called the woman and told her there were 4 "jelly rolls" of 2 cloths each left over from the fundraiser.  Not having any idea what anyone paid for them at the sale, I told her she could have any (or all) of those for $6.00/roll ($3.00/cloth) figuring that would allow me to donate possibly $24 more dollars to the fundraiser.  

She told me she expected to pay more than that.  Then I got an idea...  since I'd already given her a price, I asked how many she'd like at $3.00/cloth, that is if she didn't mind receiving them loose and in random colors.  She thought for a moment and asked how many I had.  I guessed I had 10-15 left at that point.  She told me between the rolls and loose cloths, she'd buy 20!  "Sixty dollars?" - I wanted to make sure she knew how much she was agreeing to pay.

Yep.  She knew.  And seemed thrilled about it.

I bagged them and took them to the church where the rummage sale had been held so she could pick them up (and pay for them) at her convenience.  I found out yesterday she paid $70.00 for the cloths.   I realize she received something for that money, and the price per cloth was a deal, but I was tickled about it all the same. I never knit dishcloths with the aim to sell them.  It's about the pleasure of making them, and then using or gifting them.  To be able to recognize that I had something already made that could be turned into easy money for a good cause is kind of wonderful. 

And now I can make more without feeling ridiculous that I'm just adding to the pile of cloths I already have.  I know many of us knit and crochet for charity purposes.  I do too, but I also consider myself something of a selfish knitter/crocheter - in that I make what I want, when I want.  And truly groan at the thought of someone asking me if they can pay me to make them something.  I've done it a few times in the past, but I've learned that it takes much of the joy out of handcrafting for me.

But when selfish knitting meets a good cause?!?   I'm thinking that might just be serendipity at its finest.  😀

Sunday, February 2, 2020

A bit of crochet...

Today is a very short and sweet Year of Projects update.  While my shoulder isn't 100% yet, it has been feeling much better.  This past week I've dived back into crocheting and I managed to finish Part 3 of Sacred Space:

This is turning into a great stash busting project.  I bought some black yarn and may need more before this is finished, but the other colors are all in my stash.   Yay me!

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