Friday, April 29, 2011

every sandal has a story...

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Amazing sandals that make the world a better place. I have a few friends who have used them in their weddings for their bridesmaids. My sister is getting married in May and we all got these for her wedding. They tie many different ways and you can pretty much use any ribbons in them. This is my version of making them slip-ons. The company in Uganda "...Sseko \say-ko\ Designs was created to help these bright young women continue their education."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

what I've been working on for ViolaStitchStudio...

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As some of you may know I am really into knitting and I had a goal to open an etsy shop by my sons 2nd birthday. Well that was last weekend and I didn't make it but I have been working on my a lot of fun stuff and trying to better my skills.

I attempted my first real piece of clothing and it has been more work than I expected. I really enjoyed learning what to do and most important what not to do.

Here is the Cozy Shrug I just completed, it is simple and was a great first attempt.

I also made these really really simple girly dress-up necklaces for a friends daughters birthday present. Super quick knit and I know she will love them.

I'm am currently working on one last project before I focus on making items to post in my etsy shop. So stay tuned to more info on when I finally open the shop! You can also stay tuned in by following my facebook page ViolaStitchStudio.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Three B's Three Bean and Lentil Soup

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The Doctor and the little guy love this recipe and it is very easy to make. Three b's- bacon, beer, beans but I also like lentils and using a combination of different beans It can easily be converted to vegetarian by not adding bacon and using veggie stock instead of chicken stock. We always have home-made chicken stock, beans and lentils in the pantry, so I make it a lot when I'm feeling lazy. I usually throw in something different every time, most of the time its something in the fridge I need to use up. I cannot wait to make it next fall with everything from our garden! Well except the celery, bacon, lentils and chicken stock. We usually get dinner for three, with leftovers for lunch the next day (sometimes I put it in the freezer so when I'm really lazy I can just defrost it).

4 oz each of dried; lentils, black beans, pinto beans, and small red beans. (use any combination of beans)
6-8 cups chicken stock
1-2 small hot peppers, dried (I think they were Thai chili peppers but they were from the farmers market)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery stocks, chopped
1 Red bell pepper, chopped
3 strips of bacon, raw
12 oz beer (we usually use Miller High Life, but any beer will work)
1 tsp or so Italian seasoning
2 dried Bay leaves

Soak beans and lentils over night in plenty of water. Rinse well in the morning and place in crock pot with chicken stock, bay leaves, bacon, beer and dried small hot peppers. Bring to boil and reduce heat, stirring occasionally.

Around mid-day, saute onion, carrots, celery, red bell pepper and garlic, until the onions are translucent. Sprinkle Italian seasoning over the veggies, stir and cook about 30 more seconds, then add to the crock pot.

Cook until beans are soft, remove bacon, bay leaves, and hot peppers and salt to taste. I have also added chicken, or polska kielbasa or tomatoes before and they all work well, but its also wonderful just as is. If you add tomatoes make sure to add after beans have cooked.

Here is a picture of the dried small hot peppers I used, they are about the size of my pinkie finger.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Vive la France‏

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This is the Doctor with a few words about one of the greatest influences and motivators in my life. French cuisine and culture has played a major role in the shaping of my families dreams. Jennie has taken the time to give you an idea of what we are doing as a family and I thought I would write a bit about where a good part of our motivation comes from. Although I had spent years learning about food and cooking, it wasn't until I spent years with fellow co-workers from France that I realized how important food was to culture, how profound an influence French culture has on food and how much it meant to me.

I spent 4 years in the Peace Corps where I learned to speak French in the Central African Republic. Upon my return to the States I immediately enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America where I became active in developing relationships with local farmers and working with chefs like Pierre Herme and Francis Pallard. Through all of this I have been blessed. I have worked in some of the finest kitchens, eaten some of the finest foods and of course, enjoyed some of the finest wines, a great deal because of a passion for French culture, language and the things this good earth has to offer. The language, the cuisine and my love for wine led me to my wife. We met in a wine lounge that I worked at. I know it may seem a bit far fetched, but it really is true and I feel very fortunate to have had these influences. Ever since we fell in love we have both been dedicating ourselves to our passion for food and using it to bring our family and friends closer together.

With this in mind we soon will be posting one of my signature desserts, an excellent way to bring in the summer. So...I say again..."Vive la France"!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Chicken update

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For the last few weeks I have been so concerned for our little runt of a chick named South. She was having trouble walking and not growing for the longest time and I was so worried she wasn't going to make it. After many conversations with friends about what to do and a visit to Wilbur's, we started letting her be on her own for a few hours every day. Which meant I had to take our other girls outside and play with them and leave her to herself with some milk soaked chick starter. It was hard on me because she is my favorite and she seemed so sick, but it was a good reminder for me that they are livestock and I can't get to attached. I knew the other girls were not really picking on her because I keep a pretty close eye on them. We think she may have been stepped on or something.

This is her now...up and running around with the big girls and holding her own. You can see is still has some catching up to do in size but she is much much better.

Here is North the biggest of our girls, you can see the real difference in size when you see these two girls next to each other. North was a momma in all of this, she kept an eye on South and let her snuggle under her at night. I guess being a mother is an instinct after all. East and West are like twins, always together and protecting each other. I also can't tell them apart, but the Doctor can. South will need to stay inside with us probably a couple extra weeks, but at least she is doing better. The other girls get to go outside in a little over a week and we are all excited. I know they are dying to be in a bigger coop and be able to eat bugs whenever they want. I will get some pics of the coop up when it is finished along with some info on how we did it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

feeling blessed

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We feel so lucky to live where we live. Its a beautiful house with a beautiful yard in the most amazing neighborhood. Spring has sprung here in Chico and our yard is filled with it! Flowers everywhere and more coming up daily. Bees buzzing and hummingbirds humming. Cheesy, I know.

We have nature all around us not only in our yard but our neighborhood has the creek coming along side of it and if you drive over the bridge you are in the thick of the orchards. I get to drive over water and through the orchards 4 times a day and I enjoy it every time. The little guy loves it too, especially when I drive through a big puddle and it splashes all over the car. Our home is an older home and it has weird little things here and there that tell its age, along with the huge trees. I love looking out the window as I'm washing dishes to watch the trees swaying. We also have amazing neighbors, very helpful and generous.

We spent pretty much all weekend in the garden digging, planting, and watering, over and over and over again. We got Missouri Bills pole beans (for soups), Blue Lake green pole beans, Brandywine and Skorospelka tomato started in seed starters inside, a second crop of onions, West African millet, 3 types of sunflowers, charentais cantalope, carrots, kabouli black garbanzo beans, holstein bush beans (also for soups), and garden green beans the bush type seeds planted in the ground. We also tranplanted our starts of dill, lavendar, sweet marjaram, valerian, thai basil, chives, parlsey, french thyme, zuccini, crock neck yellow squash, rhubarb, artichoke, and swiss chard. We were both tired and a little sun-touched Monday. Part of me is dreading this coming weekend because I know we will be back out there digging, planting and watering and probably most weekends from now on, but I also know that its worth it!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Watering your garden quickly...

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We took an inexpensive oscillating sprinkler and attached it with zip ties to a piece of plywood.  We set the range to maximum (180 degrees) and drilled a pilot hole in the plywood.

We attached the device atop a post and then hooked up the hose.

It actually does a great job of watering the largest part of our garden, about 3200 square feet.

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