Is This the Year of the Snake?

life

I have already shared my encounter with a snake while gardening this year. Was that not enough for one year? Well I guess not, for I had my second encounter recently. This one was a little too close for comfort. Not that comfort would ever be a word I would use when talking about snakes.

So this time, I had just come home from a shopping trip and parked my car in the garage. I got out and opened up the back hatch and took out my bags. As I was starting to shut the hatch, I looked down and AT MY FEET was a SNAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Need I say that the hatch did not get shut. I ran around to the back of the house with all sorts of thoughts running through my head. I peared in the window and found my husband sitting down to lunch. He let me in the back and then went out to check on the snake. Brave man! I did not want the snake in the car with the hatch left open or in our garage.

The snake was still there and not moving. Did I run it over? Was it dead? No, it was not flat or anything, just very still. This part I was told by my husband. I was not about to go out to see for myself.

So my husband checked out what type of snake it was that he was about to confront. It was a gopher snake. Since it was not poisonous, he moved it slightly with a stick to encourage it to go elsewhere. Apparently, it stuck its tongue out before heading down the driveway. EEKK!

I, as one might imagine, did not leave the house for the rest of the day. But afterwards, I had to wonder, was the snake there all along and I almost stepped on it or did it creep up on me? Yikes!

(Picture from: https://www.desertusa.com/reptiles/gopher-snake.html)

Mediterranean Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

Cooking

Spaghetti with meat sauce is not the only way to eat pasta. I felt like a lighter dish last night. So I decided to head to the Mediterranean.

My recipe for Mediterranean Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta is a quick and easy, healthy dinner choice. Ready to try it? Let’s get started…

Mediterranean Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

2 cups of dried pasta (I used mini penne…but bow-tie would also be nice)

1 (5 oz.) can of tuna packed in water (drained)

1/3 cup or so Jar of Roasted Red Peppers (drained) (I buy the jar that is julienned)

1/4 cup sliced black olives (drained) {optional}

2 Tbsp olive oil

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Boil water in a medium pot. Cook pasta for 10 minutes or according to taste.

While the pasta is cooking, pour the olive oil in a medium saute pan and heat over medium heat. To this add the tuna, olives, and peppers. Saute for a few minutes. Add 1/3 cup of the boiling pasta water into the pan. Stir and continue to cook until incorporated and slightly thickened. Do not over cook this, or reduce the liquid.

Drain the pasta and pour into a serving bowl. Pour the tuna mixture over the pasta and toss to incorporate. Serve topped with crumbled feta cheese.

As always, Bon Appetite!

How Not to Store Embroidery Floss

Projects

I think we have all been guilty of putting things away without care. Stuffing things into a drawer, closet, purse, under the bed, wherever it may be, without worrying to much more about it at the time. Later, sometime down the road, the snowball effect happens and things become out of control. This is exactly what happened to my little bag of embroidery floss.

Honestly, I should have known better. Stuffing embroidery floss in a bag is not a good idea. The strands can not keep to themselves. Soon there is a big party going on in the bag and they are all playing twister. Now it is up to me to untwist all the strands!

Oh, why does she bother, one might think. Well, I do not like to waste, so I feel obligated to save the mess I have created. Plus, the cheapskate side of me says this is not only embroidery floss thrown out but money as well. So onto my task.

This lovely bag of floss would have remained as is had I not recently decided to make some new projects requiring said floss. That is what led to my motivation. So I spent a good amount of time yesterday untangling the mess. I will admit that there were a few casualties, but that can not be helped as the floss was in quite a state.

After entangling the floss, I decided to properly store them on plastic bobbins that are meant for floss to be wound around. These bobbins have holes in them that can be strung unto clips for individual projects. Genius! Now I feel all organized and am ready to start on my embroidery.

As always, Happy Crafting!

It’s Fall…Time For Lentil Soup

Cooking

It is finally beginning to feel like fall here in SoCal. We received frost on the ground a couple of nights ago, which seemed early for us. The leaves are starting to drop and a few are even changing colors. It is nothing compared to New England, but if one observes closely, the subtle changes are there. With fall in the air, I thought it a good time to make Lentil Soup.

Lentil Soup is an easy meal to make. It does require a bit of time on the stove, however, one can go about their business while the soup simmers. I like to serve warm biscuits or cornbread with my Lentil Soup. Here is the recipe…

Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil

1/4 c onion- diced

2 medium carrots – diced

1 green pepper- diced

1 clove garlic- minced

32 oz. Chicken Broth

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz) (undrained)

1 cup dried lentils (rinsed and drained)

1/2 tsp dried thyme

4 tsp balsamic vinegar

pinch of salt

fresh or dried parsley (to taste)

Steps:

After chopping all the vegetables, heat the oil in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add carrots, pepper, and onion and cook until softened a bit. Then add garlic and cook until the aroma of garlic is in the air.

Add the broth, tomatoes, and lentils to the pan. Sprinkle in the thyme and salt. Turn the heat to high until the soup comes to a boil. Once it begins to boil, turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 60 minutes.

When the timer goes off, add the balsamic vinegar and parsley and continue to cook for 5 minutes.

That’s it!

As always, Happy Cooking!

My Take on… Nottingham vs. Robin Hood

Book Reviews

I read the book Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk and was a bit disappointed. Is this the same Robin Hood that I remembered? Maybe it was time for me to refresh my memory. So here is where my research began.

My son was a HUGE fan of Robin Hood as a child. I even made him a Robin Hood costume for Halloween one year. So I went to the source to ask for a copy of The Adventures of Robin Hood. He leant me his copy, which I devoured. Now this was more like it!

Nottingham was a rewrite of the legendary Robin Hood story. It reads like a movie. Makaryk is writing his novel in a ‘what if?’ fashion, hence, changing things up a bit. He makes lesser characters have larger roles and greater characters have lesser roles. What has he done to Robin Hood?! In Makaryk’s version, it is made out that Robin Hood did not really want to help the poor and did the job only because he felt made to do it. Really! Come on! No, this was not how I remembered Robin Hood. I felt too much liberty was taken with the story, especially in the character of Robin Hood.

The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green, was on point to me. This was the Robin Hood who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. This was the Robin Hood who cared for his followers. Every chapter was interesting and had me wanting to continue. While Robin meets the same fate in the end of each novel, they are in two completely different ways. I prefer the storyline and ending in The Adventures of Robin Hood.

While Nottingham is a well written book, I felt that the book took too many liberties with the storyline and characters. I could forgive most of the changes, but not those to the integrity of Robin Hood. Maybe I just prefer classics to be left alone. After all, if it isn’t broke, why try to fix it?

My Take on…The Good Liar

movie review

The Good Liar is a good thriller. I was surprised at the turn of events that would happen in this movie. But after all, isn’t that what makes for a good thriller?

The movie starts out with Roy (played by Ian McKellen) and Betty (played by Helen Mirren) typing away on their computers. They are chatting in an online dating site. They decide to meet. Roy is a con artist who we soon find is after Betty’s money. But the story becomes more complicated than this.

The movie is set in modern day England. However, flashbacks to WWII Germany will have a significant importance to our characters today. That is all I will say so as not to spoil the movie. Both McKellen and Mirren did an outstanding job of acting in this movie.

The Good Liar was originally a book. I have not read the book, but can imagine it must be worth reading, as books are usually even better than movies. And this is a movie worth watching.

As always, Happy Viewing!

My Take on…Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Deep End

Book Reviews

Jeff Kinney is at it again. His latest book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Deep End, is out. I pre-ordered my copy and happily found it in my mailbox a few days ago. I just finished reading the book. Being a fan of the series, I knew things would not go smoothly for the Heffley family. Of course, I was correct.

The story picks-up where we left off in the last book, Wrecking Ball. With the Heffley house left in shambles, they are forced to move-in with Gramma. Of course, this leads them into close quarters and in the needs of a vacation. Having seen how the Heffley’s other vacations have turned out, it was no surprise that this vacation would not exatcly find the Heffley family in paradise. However, when Greg’s mom is determined to do something, do it they do.

Pick-up a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Deep End, and join the Heffley family on their RV road trip. With the Covid pandemic, I think we can all feel a bit of what Greg and his family are going through on their vacation. But don’t forget to laugh.

As always, Happy Reading!

Boo!

life

My college boy wanted to carve pumpkins today, being Halloween and all. I had meant to pick-up some pumpkins but never did. To tell the truth, I had not really seen many while out and about. So before sending my son on a wild goose chase, I called around. It’s a good thing I did. Everyone seemed to be out of pumpkins. Oh my!

On my last call, the woman said they still had some medium sized carvable pumpkins. Ok! So my son went and picked-up a couple. I would actually call them small pumpkins, but they did the job.

We had fun carving our pumpkins. My son is quite good at carving details in the pumpkins. I am just happy to get a face carved. My pumpkin is on the right. He kind of looks scared of the other pumpkin I think.

We will set the pumpkins out tonight and put battery operated tea-light candles in them. Not doing candy this year with Covid and all. Of course, for the past three years or more, we have not had a single trick-or-treater come to the door anyway.

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!

DIY: Making 3-D Face Masks

Projects

With no end in sight to the wearing of face masks, I recently made a few more 3-D style face masks for the family. I received a complement from the cashier at the grocery store today on my matching face mask. I had made a shirt last year and since I had a bit of extra fabric left over, I made a mask to match. When I want to feel put together, I wear my matching top and mask. Who knows, perhaps I will make a holiday mask to get me in the spirit when the time comes. Here are the instructions for my go-to mask…

Face Mask Instructions:

Cut a rectangle  ( 10” x 14” regular size) (10” x 14.5” slightly larger size) or (desired size rectangle). [ I have learned, in making masks for my family, that one size does not necessarily fit all. Making a mock-up of the pattern without all the layers may be a good way to see what changes need to be made to the pattern before committing fabric to the project. ]

Next, measure down 2 inches on each side and draw line across and cut to make pattern.  A hexagon shape is made. 

Use this pattern to cut 2 pieces of material and 1 of sew-on (non-iron) interfacing.

Place the 2 material pieces right sides together and then place the interfacing on top.  Pin.

Sew on the top 3 sides and the bottom 3 sides ¼” from edge.  Leave ends open to turn.  Turn and press with iron.  Top stitch sewn sides ¼”.

Iron down the top and the bottom where corners meet ends.

Top-stitch at edge of top and bottom ¼”.

Place one piece of elastic over one end and fold end over once and then once again to form a casing.  Pin in place.  Stitch close to the edge being careful not to catch elastic in machine.  (Sometimes, because of the bulk, it is easier to start in the middle and sew to the end and then turn the material and sew from middle to end. If machine will handle it, it can be sewn in one line.)

Now fold open the corners lining them up with the end casing and stitch in place.  This holds the shape of the mask.  Repeat for other side.  Tie the elastic in a not to the desired length.

As always, STAY SAFE and Happy Sewing!

Cleaning-up the Pieces and Putting Them Back Together

Projects

This weekend I decided to clean out my fabric/sewing supply cabinet. I have gotten into the bad habit of throwing things back into the cabinet any which way. The result being a disorganized mess. So this weekend, I pulled out all the fabric, batting, interfacing, and other sewing supplies and got to work.

I ironed the fabrics that were a wrinkled mess and folded them neatly and organized everything. My stash is getting smaller, as I have made quite a few face masks for the Covid crisis. While cleaning out the cabinet, I found some projects that were either partially started and then abandoned or never started at all. Would I do such a thing!

I set these projects aside. The idea being that if they are staring me in the face every day I will do something about them. I am proud to say that today I have started on one of the forgotten projects. A paper piecing project (‘Teddy Bear Santa’ designed by Ruth Jensen) bought many moons ago. This was set aside because of its intimidating nature. Although, paper piecing is not actually something to be weary of at all. I have done some paper piecing in the past but needed to refresh myself with instructions before undergoing the project. I had to get myself in the right way of thinking of how the pieces go together and then all went smoothly. Well…after ripping out a seam or two.

Today I finished one section of the project, a tree. Not bad… I have one more tree to do. This should be a piece of cake since it is just like the one I just finished. Then there is Santa and a bear. This will be more difficult as there are three dimensional pieces involved here. I was supposed to do the three dimensional pieces first. Ha! If I did that, the project would still be in the bag. These are intimidating to me. I decided to start with the easy part first so that I can work up to the more difficult part. At least I will have some satisfaction with the piece in the start.

Here is what my tree looks like…..

Do not worry! The edges are left uneven on purpose. It will be trimmed and sewn to the other seams eventually. I will keep posting on my progress. I have two months till Christmas, so there is my motivation.

[Note: It does not appear that this pattern is still available. However, there is a very similar one available on the site. The Santa and bear are different and packages are added. Patterns are at: http://www.thimble-art.com]

As always, Happy Sewing!