Scarves, Lasagna and CPR

Wednesday, February 25

Listening to "Fairytale," Sara Bareilles

Two Finished Scarves:
Finished these two for my Peace Corps friend in Azerbaijan
(she promises it's still cold there):
Closer Look...

"learning to knit" type of pattern.
For both scarves:
CO: 15
RS: K4 P2 K3 P2 K4
WS: K4 K2 P3 K2 K4

Don't worry-- I'll make her take pictures wearing them :) I need to learn how to take better pictures of scarves. It's hard when they're so long...

I made her the green one using size US5 needles, and that allowed it to be a little thinner (so it had to be very long!) The brown ("coffee colored" I think...) scarf is size US8 needles with some leftover yarn I had from a really awful hat I made...

Makes pretty ridges and also helps you learn how purled and knitted stitches look different. Also teaches you to count, or at least how annoying it is to try and count :)

My first EVER homemade lasagna dish!!!!
Baked the lasagna that I prepared last week during Three-Dinner Friday:

Recipe courtesy of Paraplegic Chef-- it was fantastic! I need a deeper 9 x 13 dish, though, because I couldn't fit in all the layers I wanted. The sauce PC puts in this recipe is phenom, and I would have liked to include more of it in my lasagna, but couldn't because of the dish's depth...

Also [drum roll please...]
I am officially Red Cross certified!
I'm certified in CPR (for adult, child and infant!) so I feel much safer when feeding the 8 month old that I nanny! The class also came with a quick overview on First Aid (Did you know that people used to put butter on burns? Don't do that!)

If you ever have spare time in a weekend (my class was on Saturday, the Red Cross also does Tues/Thurs), try to do it. It's very empowering! Just don't show up late-- whoever you sit next to will be your partner when you're practicing the choking maneuvers. I was very happy to have a kind, older, married guy...

So here's my "new girl" schedule for each week:
- 16 hours as a nanny
- 6 hours as a grad student
-9 hours as a tutor
-web design in the spare time (totally rhymes!)

I am not kidding y'all, I'm brand new at this stuff, so I promise to offer up some hilarious stories from the learning curve next time :)

And I won't stop knitting or cooking, and we all know I'm new at that-- so more of those stories to come as well.

Also, I know I keep changing my blog layout around... I'm trying to make something a little easier to read, is all.

Have a GREAT Wednesday!

Three Dinner Friday: Southwestern Soup, Lasagna, and Goop!

Friday, February 20

Listening to "Where I Stood," Missy Higgins

Dinner 1: Southwestern Soup from Forever... Wherever!
--Froze half and stuck the other half in the fridge to eat this week. Perfect for this chilly weather we've been having!! Made the apartment smell amazing!
Notice the mess from "Three Meal Friday" in the background...

Dinner 2: Lasagna from The Paraplegic Chef
Will post picture later-- I prepared it and stuffed in in the fridge to bake Sunday. It's going to be so good!!

Dinner 3: "Goop" for boyfriend :)
See the neglected reading to the side? I'm about to eat and catch up!

This was tonight's dinner (and probably tomorrow's...). Just ground turkey, Italian sausage, can of cream of chicken, beef broth, parsley, chives, and lots of noodles in the crock pot!

"Goop" is a tradition Boyfrirnd and I started in college... it's a term we use for an easy, noodle-and-meat meal.Boyfriemd loves them, and since he cooked dinner all last week for his late-night tutoring girlfriend I thought I would treat him :)

So Boyfriend and I have been busy lately... he's doing great at work and learning a lot in his CFP (Certified Financial Planner) Course, but it's intense and studying doesn't leave him with much free time.

My classes are going well, I love my new nanny job, am having a blast tutoring, and I'm looking forward to referee training next weekend!! I'll be an official lacrosse referee before you know it... one more part time job to help out the savings account :) Boyfriend and I can't stop talking about taking a big trip this summer-- I'm hoping I can save enough money to make it happen!

With all that's going on, Friday is my day off. I don't mind working on the weekends, but it makes it hard to find time for homework and hobbies. So I really went to town today... I started on the slightly neglected readings for class, took a break by cooking three dinners (meals for later this week when there's no time to cook!) and now I'm ready to attack homework again since Boyfriend won't be back from class till very late.

Another reason our weekend was busy (a very happy reason!): Best friend Allie and her baby Abby came to visit!!

Teaching Allie to knit-- she picked it up quickly! Abby will be knitting before we know it :)

Abby and Allie at the park-- Abby is sporting a hat my Mom knit!! How cute!! (I'll be that good soon-- I think!!)

Now-- for homework!!

The Depressingly Awful, Alarmingly Crunchy Valentine's Cookies

Monday, February 16

Currently Listening to "Better Together," Jack Johnson

He loves me. He loves me not? He loves me. He loves me even though I bake really gross cookies?... He must love me.

As you can see with the big one, I was trying to get creative... a couple of them do kinda look like hearts... kinda...

Boyfriend has eaten more than his fair share of bad meals. I've burned things, forgotten ingredients, "improvised" and worse... but I thought I could handle some out-of-the-package cookie mix.

On Valentine's Day, I bought two packages of dry cookie mix and my first set of cookie cutters. I mixed quickly, cut out some shapes, baked, and when boyfriend got home the house smelled really good! The first cookie was ok... but then after they spent a couple hours in tupperware, they were hard. Like, tooth-breaking hard. I was so confused!

We were joking about the cookies later that night...

- Me: You should just take them to work! Boyfriend: But I want my co-workers to like me...

- Boyfriend
: If we don't eat them all we can just throw them outside for the birds! Me: No way they'll eat them, they'll think they're rocks.

- Boyfriend: What did you get the new cookie cutters for? I saw them in the drawer... Me: I used the cookie cutters!! You couldn't tell!? Boyfriend: ...Of course I could tell. ...Which cookie cutter did you use? (for the record, I was trying to use the heart.)

In picture-- They're so crunchy, I've been pretending they're biscottis!

New Girl Lessons of the Day:
  1. When baking cookies, remove from oven JUST BEFORE they're done-- they bake a little extra on the sheet. Not doing so will make your cookies really, really crunchy. Didn't know
  2. If using a cookie cutter, you have to have a really flat cookie. If it's too vertical, it'll spread out and the shape you cookie-cutted will disappear.
  3. A nice boyfriend will still eat a couple.
Luckily I made him a couple mixed CDs as well, so it wasn't a complete Valentine's bust on my part. Better luck next year!

My first Knitting magazine, the Goat Pillow, and a new Knitting goal

Friday, February 13

Currently Listening to
(a perfect song for Valentine's Weekend!) "Currently," Keaton Simmons

HOW ADORABLE is this pillow!

I bought my first knitting magazine ever from Barnes & Noble the other day... Knit Simple (let's hope so).

I should ban myself from B&N. I always find something I absolutely have to have (sometimes multiple things)... but I am glad I bought this magazine. My first one!

There were multiple designs for kid projects in this section... but the goat pillow is my favorite by far.

The moose is okay but for some reason the goat speaks to me... the sock puppet looking things are an eventual possibility.

The snake, fox and frog hat/scarf just don't do it for me. That kid would never wear those to school. If his mom made him, he would take them off once he got on the bus.

The pattern looks a little difficult but I'm gonna do it! Will update on progress!

My First Knitting Project

Monday, February 9

Currently Listening to: "Big Sur," The Thrills

My Mom taught me to knit last summer.
We went to a local wine bar/coffee house downtown and sat with two glasses of Cab amid students and grungies, rebelliously flashing our knitting needles in the sea of indie iPods and too-cool-for-school Macbooks. We were the minority, and I felt very exposed as a first-time knitter, but no one seemed bothered by our antiquated hobby... in fact, we were largely ignored and happy to be so.

The hardest part, at first, was figuring out how to hold everything. The yarn slipped off my finger as I attempted to "throw" it over the needles, and if I got the hang of it and moved a little too fast, stitches slipped off my little needles and into an infinite abyss. It was frustrating--but fun.

For some idiotic reason, I thought that knitting a blanket for my then-pregnant, now-mother, best friend Allie's baby-to-be was a GREAT first project. Allie is my first friend to have a baby, and has been my best friend since 3rd grade. I was excited about making a blanket for her and her new baby, but I had no idea it would take SO LONG. I restarted the blanket three times, and although I began a month before little Abby was born I didn't finish until she was at least three months old. Still, it was a motivating project--Abby is so flippin cute I want to cover her in knits.

My first knitting project-- A blanket for Ms. Abby

Abby was born on July 11th, 2008 in the wee hours of the morning. Allie was amazing, a real trooper. She never complained and allowed me, my mother, and her family (we're all family friends) to circle in and out of her hospital room, demanding updates and slurping noisily on Starbucks as she lay hungry, thirsty, and in labor. Not to mention Abby was like 10 lbs. Seriously.

I'll always have a special place in my heart for this first project. Hopefully, Aunt Sarah (Allie said Abby can call me that!) will knit cuter, more useful things in the future... but despite the noticeable mess-ups on the blanket, I'm still glad I was able to give her my first project. Maybe years and years from now, when Abby's older and I'm the best knitter ever, I'll teach her to make a blanket, and she can give it to me :)


Would You Like Your Stuffed Shells Regular or Diet?

Friday, February 6

Currently listening to: "Girls," Nizlopi

Simple Stuffed Shells Recipe: Click on Picture

My stuffed-shell adventure started with a text message to my Mom.

"Pan says no stove top, no broil. Can I put in oven?"

She called me immediately, kindly limiting that "please don't burn your apartment down" motherly panic as she asked about my plans. I told her I was going to make stuffed shells, and that I had two pan options-- Boyfriend's gross, typical-bachelor-hand-me-down pan, or my glass Tupperware Christmas gift that looked like a pan. My mom assured me that the nice, glass gift could go in the oven-- just not above 450. I was glad to put boyfriend's pan back on the bottom of the shelf.

My Mom makes great stuffed shells, a real family classic. But I wanted to try them on my own before asking for her advice. I boiled a package of shells (watching like a hawk for "al dente"), mixed together the cheesy ricotta stuffing and started to carefully spoon a measured amount into each shell, delicately laying the shell into the baking dish. Eventually, my cheese-coated fingers gave up on the spoon and I just hand-stuffed the guys and threw them in the dish.

Alas, I was running out of the cheesy stuffing faster than shells. I stuffed more conservatively, and by the last couple of shells, my dish was divided with "super-stuffed" and "lightly filled" shells. My first stuffed shell dish, and I already learned to make the "light" version :)

Stuffed Shells: Click on the Photo for RecipeSimple Stuffed Shells Recipe: Click on Picture

They turned out pretty great-- boyfriend and I have been obsessing over the leftovers all week. I want to add something green to the cheesy stuffing, a little color and some extra flavor (maybe parsley? chives?), but overall I liked it.

Plus, I made the whole thing, put it in the fridge, and baked it when I got home. I love a recipe I can interrupt with school!

New Girl Lesson of the Day: I mixed the marinara sauce with mozzarella and Parmesan before pouring it over the shells-- anytime you're going to pour something over a dish, mix it in a bowl that ISN'T insanely heavy. Maybe avoid that heffty, probably-made-for-decoration popcorn bowl... makes the pouring a little easier...


The Beef Stew Debut

Currently listening to: Beirut, "Postcards from Italy"

Boyfriend and I received a crock pot for Christmas from my parents. I thought the best first meal for the new toy would be beef stew-- one of my favorite meals.

It was happy work, chopping the beef into cubes, mixing together the good smelling ingredients, dancing to iTunes as I double-checked the online recipe-- but THEN, the surprisingly miserable part: the vegetables. I chopped vegetables for TWO HOURS. Three finger cuts and two sore hands later, I called boyfriend to whine about the devilish vegetable dicing. He promised to love the soup and reminded me where the band-aids were.

My hard work was rewarded when I came in that night to an apartment that smelled gloriously of beef stew goodness. Boyfriend arrived, complimenting me on the smell, promising he'd been thinking of stew all day... and as he pulled off the crock pot lid, he stared into the stew-- and LAUGHED.

Boyfriend laughed because in the stew were my vegetables, chopped into tiny, tiny pieces. I had chopped the vegetables into bitty bits because-- well, I'm a new cook. I was thinking of the Campbell's soup, or something, and that reference point led me to chop 5 carrots, 4 potatoes, a bushel of celery, an onion and a garlic into the smallest pieces imaginable. No wonder it took me two hours to chop those veggies-- I practically shredded them! I still can't totally explain why I thought they had to be so small...

And in the end, the finger cuts didn't even pay off because the stew would have been better if the veggies had been bigger... oh, the satire of the stew. Overall, though, a success.

Live and learn.


Simple Beef Stew: Click on the Photo for RecipeClick on the photo to view the recipe

Cue the Theme Song...

Tuesday, February 3

Currently listening to: The Weepies, "All Good Things"

John Wayne once said, "Courage is being scared to death--but saddling up anyway."

Now, I'm not planning on riding a horse anytime soon (in fact, I'm terrified of those huge things). But, I think Wayne has a great point-- and I think it's a great start.

I've never had a great blog, or any great hobbies to blog about. I've always been a dedicated student; Usually, that left me without much room for hobbies. But I'm starting to learn that "down time" is just as important as a high GPA (if not more so), and I'm ready to find out more about things I like (instead of just things a syllabus says I should know).

I'm going to make a really hard, from-scratch dinner. I'm going to knit a hat (that actually fits someone). I'm going to learn a new language, to travel to new countries, to love in new, big ways. And I'm going to share my adventures here.

First, I just wanted to say hello :)