As seen in Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts, 2011

September 3, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Posted in art, Christmas, country life, faith, family, food, knitting, Life, love, recipes, relationships, shopping, socks, Vintage, weight loss, Weight Watchers | 9 Comments
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Read my blog on Kindle. You can also find my funny short story for knitters, “A Matter of Perspective” at Amazon for Kindle.

I have another “As seen in…” to report, dear readers. Interweave Knit’s Holiday Gifts, 2011 issue will hit newsstands on Tuesday, September 6, 2011 and our Knitter’s Eye Charts are featured in the issue in the Gifts for Knitter’s section.

They wrote to me earlier in the summer, and of course I was very excited to learn they wanted to feature our Eye Chart in the issue. Both Interweave and Vogue (Vogue Knitting Fall 2011) had me send them a copy of the Eye Chart for a photo shoot … I am looking forward to seeing how Interweave Knits approached theirs.

We were in good company in the Vogue Knitting magazine. The piece focused on knitting related art for the walls, and ours was in the number one position on the page. It is a little difficult to get my hands on some magazines out here in the country, so if you get the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2011 issue and spot our Eye Chart in there, I would love to hear your report. If you do see it and can send a photo — that would be something along the lines of awesome.

I am soooooo close to finishing the scrunchie, slouchy socks for little Sweet Pea and publishing the pattern for you guys. There are so many things to do, and I just need this one year of my life to have twice as many hours in my days … please, pretty please.

My son just released a few beautiful retouched vintage/antique maps he’s been working on. He is such a hard working guy, I admire him very much. He sent me one map as a surprise for my birthday back in early August. It was a map of one of the villages we live near (we live sort of between two villages). The painstaking retouching he did on that map was amazing, and he had it printed especially for me on watercolor paper. The printing was exquisite, the colors rich … and the retouching he did was impeccable.

The three he has released on his blog are of Brooklyn, New York, and Los Angeles. I had to order the Brooklyn map for my husband because of the boats and ships in the harbor — he is a boat kind of a man. It was a nice surprise for him when it came in the mail this week, and we both loved being on the receiving end of my sons carefully thought out, aesthethic packaging. The whole experience of being his customer (not just his mom) was a great, and it makes me proud that my son is this kind of an artist and business person.

One more thing, a while back I promised to share my Black Bean Hummus recipe … and I missed doing that. I wanted to share it with you now in case any of you want to give it a try this holiday weekend. It is super simple, and so delicious!

Black Bean Hummus

1 can black beans (14 oz size) — not drained, keep the liquid
4 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup walnuts
pinch of sea salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
a big handful of Cilantro (optional)

Grind up the walnuts in your blender until they are very fine–I used a hand-operated chopper to do this.

Put the black beans, with the liquid, in a blender. Add lime juice. (Or, if you prefer to use a hand-held immersion blender, put the beans with liquid and lime juice in bowl.)

Add salt, cayenne pepper and Cilantro (be sure to wash the Cilantro first).

Blend until somewhat smooth — doesn’t have to be perfect.

Add the walnuts and blend more.

That’s it. The hummus is ready to dip some tortilla chips in. If you are on Weight Watchers, you will want to measure out just about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the hummus along with only one serving of tortilla chips. Even with the measuring, this is very satisfying as a mini-meal for Weight Watchers and is only a few points, as long as you do measure and calculate points before you munch!

I’ve lost 13 pounds now, and it feels great!

Hope you have a beautiful holiday weekend!

~firefly

Recipe: Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan

August 24, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Posted in country living, family, food, gardening, recipes, weight loss, Weight Watchers | 5 Comments
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New! Get my blog on Kindle.

And, too good not to mention … Flying Junction is having a Buy Two, Get One Free sale on all paper prints in his online store.  Plus, free shipping.  Gotta love that!

This is my Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan recipe … shared with love.  I hope you give it a try.  It is especially good if you can get your hands on eggplant from a local farm market rather than at the grocery store.  I have noticed the eggplants we buy at the farm stand are more tender and have less seeds than those I can find in a grocery store.

This recipe serves two. It is quick and simple to prepare, Weight Watcher friendly, and a tasty way to enjoy fresh eggplant. The recipe calls for breadcrumbs; if you are using this as a Weight-Watcher recipe be mindful what you use for bread crumbs. I have made this recipe using homemade bread crumbs tossed in olive oil and Italian herbs, baked in the oven until browned. However, while dieting I bake the bread crumbs without tossing them in oil. Or, try buying store-bought bread crumbs that are only toasted bread (read the ingredients and pick a brand that just has “wheat bread” or something like that for the ingredients).

Ingredients

One medium-sized eggplant
4 tsp olive oil
1 to 1-1/2 cups any marinara sauce*
1/2 to 2/3 cups prepared bread crumbs*
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
Thick-sliced mushrooms, any amount you choose to use

(For items marked with *, if you are following Weight Watchers, decide on amount to use based on the PointsPlus values you can allow for this meal.)

Preparation

Grill mushrooms until lightly browned on indoor grill.

Cut eggplant into 1/2″ diagonal slices. Rub olive oil on both sides of eggplant slices. When the mushrooms come off the grill, set them aside and get the eggplants grilling. Grill eggplants until tender but not mushy — this will not take very long, so watch them closely.

While eggplant is grilling, heat up marinara sauce on stove top.

Once eggplants come off the grill, arrange them on two plates. Spoon marinara sauce over the eggplants; sprinkle grated Parmesan over marinara sauce and top that with bread crumbs, followed by mushrooms.

That’s it — simple, and quite delicious. Healthy, low-calorie, satisfying!

~firefly

And here, I confess

July 20, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Posted in art, country life, faith, family, flowers, food, gardening, gifts, health, knitting, knitting for babies, Life, love, marriage, photography, recipes, relationships, shopping, socks, summer, travel, weight loss, yarn | 14 Comments
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I had determined not to talk about this, but I changed my mind because telling you what I am about to tell you might help someone who reads my blog.  So, here goes.

I am doing Weight Watchers, the online program.  I am not particularly into diets, and favor instead lifestyle changes as being the only really viable means of addressing weight and health related issues.   I was nice and trim when we got married five years ago, but each year since I have put on an average of five pounds which usually happens over the winter months (big surprise).  Don’t want to talk about it, but I’m doing so out of consideration for any of my readers who may be experiencing something similar and who, like me, might want to turn that boat around.

In the spring of 2010, dissatisfied with my new weight at that time,  I somewhat confronted the issue and started eating better and I cut off about six pounds by the beginning of summer.  It wasn’t great weight loss, but it felt good.  Unfortunately, I was a little to happy with the results and did not lose anything else.  This winter the six pounds I lost in the spring returned and brought a few of their friends with them.  About a month ago I knew I needed to return to something that had, in the past, yielded better and long lasting results so, I typed in “www.weightwatchers.com” into my browser address bar.

I am very happy I did so, because their latest version of their program is very easy to follow and easy to live with.  It is also structured in a way to promotes workable lifestyle changes rather than anything drastically different.  The only issue I have with their program is that I disagree with limiting people to two servings of protein per day.  From my own personal experience, two servings of protein a day does not promote healthy metabolism.  The cool thing, however, is that with the way their program works now if you want to eat more protein you can do so and still stay within their point system — you just have to figure things out correctly and try to use less “expensive” carbohydrates in your meal and snack planning to make room for the points that protein selections will take up.

Back in 2003, while still living in Los Angeles, I did Weight Watchers online and it worked pretty well.  I lost about two pounds per week steadily until I had lost twenty pounds total.  Then I stalled, and I had trouble feeling motivated to go further.  A month or two after my stall, my daugther asked me to do the Zone diet with her.  She needed to do it for her metabolism, not to lose weight.  I decided to do it to be supportive of her and I was really happy I did.  That’s when I found out how much better I felt if I had protein with each and every meal and snack, and I learned to have three medium sized meals and two snack sized meals per day to help keep my metabolism on an even keel.   Doing the Zone diet and going on walks with my mother in the evenings, I lost another 24.5 pounds and I also felt wonderful.  I stopped eating dairy products and all refined grains and sugars and I increased my protein intake (which had always been a challenge before, as I am vegetarian) by using some of the great new (at the time) soy-based products that had become available.

Until I moved to Upstate New York, to the farm, I kept that weight off.  However, being in a colder climate, writing a blog that includes sharing recipes and photos of baked goods (I love to bake), and attending a church where people do love their pot-luck dinners and coffee hours all added up to my weight going back up again.

I’m not having it anymore, I’ll tell you that right now.  Enough is enough, and 25 pounds is too much.

I am enjoying doing Weight Watcher’s online, and have lost eight pounds so far.  My husband and I have started taking walks together, which is a wonderful bonus.  I am already feeling much, much better physically and emotionally.  My spirits are lifted, and I believe I can get this new lifestyle on a farm in upstate New York under control to where I no longer have those winters of gaining a few pounds in cuddly comfort.

And, I will share my weight loss wins with you here in case anyone out there wants to do something similar and would like the moral support.  We are, all of us, beautiful and divine creatures and our physical form can be reflective of that fact.  I will also continue to share recipes and photos of pretty foods but they are likely to be more on the healthy side and designed to inspire others to celebrate good health more than they celebrate beautiful foods.

Something delicious I discovered a few days ago was that I could cover my Cuisinart Griddler with sliced mushrooms, close the cover, and in a few minutes have grilled mushrooms that are very flavorful and beautiful to behold — but lack the olive oil (and calories) I would have used to saute them previously.  I toss them on a salad along with chunks of grilled extra-firm tofu I marinated in soy sauce and rubbed lightly with olive oil.  The mushrooms and tofu add a delicious layer of flavor as well as protein to make a filling, healthy meal that sets me up for a nice energetic walk a little later.

I hope my honesty and willingness to share on this subject is helpful to you, my friends.

As for knitting, I completed one of the slouchy toddler socks I designed for Sweet Pea, and am on my way knitting the second one.  I will be writing up the pattern for publishing within the next week or so.  These look so cute on her, because the legs are made a little wide so that they are chunky and do a little bit of slouching.  They’ll be great for the fall and winter, keeping her feet and legs warm when cold drafts are in the air.  I am making these from yarn left over from her Christmas stocking, which I made … wow, almost two years ago.  This is FootNotes sock yarn from my favorite yarn artist, Kimber Baldwin of Fiber Optic Yarns.  She does these low-contrast colorways in hues that I just tend to love, love, love.  The sock pattern will be available soon as its done in my knitting-related Etsy store or directly from my website.

By the way, in the sock photo, there is a little bear I needle felted some time ago.  Some years ago while sketching I created some pretty little characters — teddy bears with little costumes, wings, and then a little beaded headband that was supposed to serve as a halo of sorts.  I called them Wish Bears at the time, and later called them Moon Bears so as not to intrude on the Care Bear trademark (there is a Wish Bear in the Care Bear series of characters).  Recently my grand daughter saw some little cards I had made with a variety of my characters printed on them and she fell in love with the little bears.  She dubbed them “Princess Fairy Bears”, and it revitalized my interest in doing something with them some time.

It will be fun, when she is older, to create a cast of the characters as needle felted sculptures, much like the one photographed here.  She is too young for them now, because at two and half years old, she handles them a little too roughly and they can’t hold up to that kind of play.  What fun it will be though to create some more drawings and paintings of the little sweet characters, write more stories featuring them, and do the needle felted sculptures for her as well.  I don’t have any of the images of the drawings and paintings on my current computer, but at some point I will find some of those images and share them so you all can see how much the needle felted sculpture favors the actual drawing of one of the bears.

Such fun.

News of what is happening with my son’s Etsy store, Flying Junction He is featured for the next few weeks in the very cool, very stylish online curated handmade market, Poppy Talk Handmade.  The theme of this exhibit is “On The Road”; his vintage-inspired NYC (and other cities) subway roll signs and bus scroll prints were chosen because they represent the places people travel to and through while on the road.  His custom signs are also a beautiful and classy way to commemorate life’s markers — places where special events took place, landmarks that create a particular feeling of nostalgia, and neighborhoods you  grew up in, worked in, visited or dreamed of visiting.  The custom signs are made using his unique, careful reproductions of hand lettering from original NYC subway roll signs and include the wonderful distressed-look finishing touch that is a trademark of his beautiful work.

And now on to my “garden”.  Two or three years ago a friend of my husband’s from work gave him three unknown plants she bought at a plant sale.  He brought them home and planted them out along the west wall of our old garage foundation, which seems to be the chosen spot for orphaned and adopted random plants and trees people give us.  The following year, one of the mystery plants turned out to be a lily of some kind and gave us one or two pretty blossoms.  The next year, we got a few more blossoms.  Well, this year we have two four-foot tall lily plants that were loaded with buds.  They finally blossomed recently and the blossoms were so healthy and beautiful it caught my breath when my husband cut one to bring in the house for little Sweet Pea.  She danced with joy, and I gasped in delight.  A day or so later I got out there with my camera on a somewhat overcast day and did some photography that I was very pleased with.  I have posted prints of one of the best photos for sale in my fine art Etsy store, and will add a couple more shortly.

I suppose this will conclude today’s blog post.  If you didn’t read the post from earlier this week, it is brief and you will find it directly under this post.

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