Name That Salad

I like making salads that don’t involve lettuce. I enjoy lettuce as much as the next person, but it gets boring at times, plus for some reason it tends to throw up its hands in desperation in my refrigerator and give up the good fight way too early.

It’s better to just stick to the good stuff and not bother with the filler, I say. This delicious salad starts off with prepping some delicious quinoa and black beans. No green crunchy leaves, just protein-y goodness.

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Quinoa layer? Check!

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Black bean layer? Check!

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Sliced up tomatoes and cucumbers from my and my parents’ gardens?

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Let’s pretend that I took pictures of cutting up some bell pepper, too. And that I actually had some red onion to dice up, even though I didn’t (but it’s super duper delish with the onions included, I must say).

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Crunchy, cold vegetable layer? Check!

Now, I wanted to be boring and just call this Black Bean Quinoa Shaker Salad (because it’s all in little layers in the cups and it’s fun to shake it all up with the dressing, and I’m still really boring even parenthetically). Dan liked calling it Jinger’s Protein-Packed Shaker Salad instead. What do we think?

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The Yet-to-Be-Named Protein-Packed Black Bean Quinoa Shaker Salad that Is Quite Tasty Indeed

2 cups dry quinoa, prepared according to package instructions
2 cups dry black beans, prepared according to package instructions (or canned, if you’re not hardcore like me)
1 tomato, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, diced

Prepare quinoa and black beans according to package instructions, and chop up your veggies while they’re cooking (which takes forever with those dry black beans).

Layer your quinoa evenly into 8 medium containers (I love those big freezer jars with the neon green lids!), and then follow up with a layer of black beans. I tend to mix up all my veggies and then throw them all in at the end.

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Refrigerate everything long enough to get it good and cold. Add a big dollop of your favorite salad dressing in there (I like ranch or catalina with this combination.) and then shake it up! Eat it all up and be super happy.

Floral Lace Anklets? Done!

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Why, hello there!

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That’s some nice lacy texture you’ve got going on there.

What’s your name?

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Floral Lace Anklets? Nice to meet you! Those toes sure look cozy.

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And those heels seem like they’d fit just right. Seems like you’d be great for romping out in the backyard.

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Except you are wool, and you are not meant to live with me forever (even though I’d like you to), so I will just pose delicately instead.

I know that my mom will love these, if I can bear to part with them. They went super fast, as lace seems to do for me for some reason. The Heritage is lovely stuff, and I can’t believe I waited this long to use it. This marks three projects that I’ve done so far from Lace Style, (Here’s my Lily of the Valley Shawl and Retro Redux Shrug), and there’s still eleventy-billion more that I’d like to try. Katharine Hepburn Cardigan, anyone? Gorgeous stuff. Maybe one day.

Don’t Leave Me Alone with Focaccia

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Out in the garden, my rosemary bush is going a little crazy. A lot of crazy. Delicious crackers aside (although they are definitely on deck), I needed something else to use all this wonderful stuff in.

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And I also needed my whole house to smell like rosemary. What exactly does rosemary smell like? Oily, sticky, piney…like the best parts of a forest came home with you.

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Focaccia seemed like just the ticket, especially to pair with the pasta that we made last night with fresh zucchini from the garden. The only recipe for it I’ve ever made before is the Easy Rosemary Foccacia from Farmgirl Fare, and although time-consuming, it is so, so worth it.

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Chop up a whole bunch of rosemary. Smell your hands with glee before washing them. I didn’t mean that to sound as gross as it does.

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Make a giant mess on your countertop while kneading dough and building up those arm muscles.

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Ensure a good rise by not only wrapping your container of dough in plastic wrap, but also in a warm, damp towel. I have had all kinds of bad luck with yeast in this kitchen, so I’m not taking any chances here.

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Success! But there’s still more to go, so don’t get too excited yet. You could still screw up. Good advice in the kitchen, and elsewhere.

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Pat out some dough ovals (doughvals?)

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…drizzle with olive oil and extra rosemary and pepper (which I put in there instead of cheese, so the whole house could enjoy)

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…and then celebrate!

I think we need to marvel at this from all angles, yes?

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Hell yes.

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I had to try a teensy bit, of course, just to make sure it was finished all the way. I’m barricading myself from the rest of it until dinner-time. I can’t trust myself around this delicious, buttery, chewy stuff.

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Anybody got any good Italian sandwich recipes for this before I just shove it all unceremoniously into my mouth?

Just Peachy

So we all know there’s no way I finished those socks for my Mom by Sunday, but I did manage to accomplish something for Mother’s Day, and it was unintentionally pink! Double bonus!

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Peaches were tossed with sugar and cinnamon and cornstarch, as per Mistress Betty‘s instruction. (Can I seriously start calling her that now? It sounds so much more sordid, especially when it involves peaches and sugar.)

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Peaches were heated up until they formed a beautiful, accidentally pink, peachy syrup (because this is what happens when you refuse to peel the skins off of those peaches), and then poured carefully into a baking dish.

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“Carefully” more like it, because this was a result of pouring boiling hot peaches in a large pot with only one hand while holding the camera in the other hand. My camera has both a timer and a tripod attachment. I do not know why I physically cannot take advantage of these facts, but it never occurs to me. For some reason, I’d much rather risk crazy sugar burns. Which is incredibly stupid.

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Biscuit dough got dolloped (Dollopped? No.) on top, and the whole thing went into the oven, making my whole kitchen smell like summery, peachy goodness.

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Then some more knitting happened, so that my mom would be able to at least try on one sock to make sure that they met her seal of approval. She seemed super excited, so good news there. Now I just need to finish the other sock! (Mom’s Floral Lace Anklets on Ravelry, for all my knitters out there!)

I’m glad that she’s so appreciative of receiving handknit projects, especially socks, because finding those people who will actually wear and love the things you make in the way that you want them to love them is extremely rare. She deserves a new pair of handknit socks every single day, but my hands just can’t move that fast. This is the first thing that she’s ever really requested from me, and what I really wish is that you could knit true thankfulness and love into socks. Maybe you can. Maybe that’s what handknit socks are. Love and hugs, but for your feet.

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Back to the cobbler! Check that action out.

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Great heaps of this simple pink peachy cobbler were enjoyed by all. Here it is all gussied up, albeit on my messy kitchen counter, with sweetened whipped cream. Vanilla ice cream would also be insanely good.

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Hope that everyone to whom it applies had a super fun and happy Mother’s Day! Socks and peach cobbler for everyone!

Restless Energy

What happens when you have a whole day off and your significant other is out of town for a day? If you are at all like me, your thoughts do not run to the salacious side like you may think.

You suddenly just realize that you are an extraordinarily boring person who has a hard time getting up and doing things that need to get done without someone helping you to come up with the ideas. You realize that you talk to the cat an awful lot. You realize that you haven’t baked in an indecently long time, and a plan starts to come together.

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You’re only home alone for an hour and a half before you’ve already cleaned out the refrigerator (I like to imagine that Tracy from shutterbean was standing over me, nodding approvingly) and cleaned the coffee maker. You clean the bathrooms. And vacuum the living room. And start some awesome socks for your Mom for Mother’s Day.

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Sometimes I feel like I should abandon my long-practiced process of hand-winding my yarn and cave in and buy a winder. But then, I get started winding a ball of yarn for a new project, and that all melts away.

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No pictures of the project quite yet, but this is the beginnings of the Floral Lace Anklets from Lace Style, a truly lovely book for anyone who enjoys knitting lace for their mom. And it just so happens, I am one of those people!

These are going along swimmingly so far, and although there is no way they’re getting done for Sunday, they are getting here as fast as they can. (Just to be clear, their lateness is nowhere close to my fault. When I asked my mom last weekend what she wanted when she said that she wasn’t too into flowers this year, socks are what she came up with. Not much time to get something worthy of my Mom’s wonderfulness done, but I’m up to the challenge.)

Then, you decide to tackle the problem that’s been nagging you for a little while, in that there has been very little coming out of your oven lately.

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That sounds kind of dirty out of context.

Can I also say that I’ll never tire of the uniformity that my cookie scoop provides? Never.

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Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip cookies, courtesy of Betty Crocker and a little substituting.

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Simple and perfect and delicious.

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And irresistible, even to tiny cats.

As if this wasn’t enough for one day, suddenly some friends call you up who happen to love Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip cookies, and then you don’t have to worry as much about how to fill what was most likely going to be the long, lonely, restless afternoon and night.

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The evening fills itself with good, cheap wine at a classy locale…

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And ridiculously indulgent hot dogs. (Dat Dog, by the by, which definitely needs much more of my attention this summer.)

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If only I could have gotten a picture with of myself while shoving a hot dog in my face, but once you try to pick that sucker up, there is no turning back.

I ordered the Guiness Dog with the Chef’s Choice toppings, which involves letting other people pick what goes on your hot dog. A risky choice, and I certainly ended up with an lot of things that I would have never considered putting on a hot dog, but somehow it all worked together.

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This helped, too.  Along with a ton of napkins.

Finish up the evening with some great conversation, and then head home for some more knitting and tea and movies to put yourself to sleep, knowing that tomorrow night, you won’t still be all alone.

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Thank god.

365 Project – Week 18

I am sitting here right now in my office, dressed as a children’s book character (no giant head this time, though), experiencing severe hair anxiety. I have never learned how to put my hair in pigtails and have anything resembling a straight part back there. I’m sure no one else ever notices or cares, but this will probably plague me all day.

Onto the week!

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I felt as though I couldn’t truly embark on my new embroidery project without finishing up the old one. The orchids are getting their stems and leaves, which is some super exciting stuff.

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French toast with syrup, whipped cream, and cinnamon is an amazing thing. UH-mazing.

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Zucchini everywhere! We’ve had to do an awful lot of intervening with this one, doing the pollinating ourselves extremely early in the morning. Hopefully, these little guys will come through and find themselves in our pasta.

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This is how Bowie helps me read.

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The birds decided to hang out on the porch while the rain poured down, which struck me as quite amusing. Our recent bird feeder experiments have resulted in more birds and squirrels than we ever imagined. It’s like Snow White out there.

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Bubble tea! Greatest stuff ever. Especially coconut.

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I call this Bowie’s “quicksand” pose. He’s quite comfortable, really, but chooses to look like he’s in distress.

Let’s see how easily I can pass the day in knee socks, a belt, and complete hair anxiety – three things which I usually try to avoid. Just keep reminding yourself that it’s all for the kiddos.

Claudia Complete!

I made another hat!

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And then I laid on the grass in a sun for just a few seconds, because any longer than that would have given me a severe case of the itchies and the I-better-not-have-bugs-on-me twitch.

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Presenting Claudia, the little sister to the Knotty, but Nice that I made for Dan.

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The cabled border is not quite as big and bold, but still lovely in this organic wool goodness. That way, Dan and I can both wear our hats out without being too matchy-matchy.

Unfortunately, Dan and I already have the tendency to wear similar T-shirts with jeans when we got out in public. There was also a weird birthday incident where I went out in a dress that was strikingly similarly patterned to Dan’s shirt. I guess this is what happens when you date someone who doesn’t really care much about what they look like.

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I’m obviously speaking from both sides here. I’m a low-maintenance girl. Dan puts on hats that don’t fit him and still makes them look goooood.

My head is much bigger than his, so I’ll be able to steal both hats whenever I want, and Dan has no such luck, unless he doesn’t care much about being able to see. Yay for greed!

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I still have a tiny bit of this glorious yarn left over. I have no idea what to do. Slightly less than half a skein. Wristbands? More mug cozies? One fingerless glove? What what what? Two fingerless gloves would probably be better, wouldn’t it? Just as a whole, you know.