Saturday, December 1, 2012


By now it's clear that I fell behind quite spectacularly during November's NaBloPoMo. In the end, as November wound down, I just couldn't find the energy or inspiration to write.

See, about a week ago, I found out that one of my sorority sisters, Alyssa, had passed away while studying abroad in London. I'm a good two-hour plane ride away from my alma mater and my sorority chapter and knowing that I couldn't be with my sisters in this ridiculously difficult time was overwhelming. I spent most of my time on Facebook, checking in with sisters and making sure that everyone was taking care of themselves. A few days later, the university released an official statement that Alyssa had taken her own life. It was, and still is, a rough time for a lot of the women in my chapter.

I'll be perfectly honest. I wasn't the closest with Alyssa. We were friends, but we didn't know all the details about each other. I can tell you that she had an infectious smile, the most interesting laugh, and she could kick your ass in a fight. Now I also know that her smiles and laughs were sometimes only on the surface. Reasonably, her death shouldn't have shaken me as much as it has. But being as far away as I was and seeing how visibly shaken so many of my sisters were by her death made me feel completely helpless. I was doing all that I could to make sure that my friends were ok but it didn't feel like enough. It still doesn't feel like I did or am doing enough. 

I want to be back at my chapter house. I want to be there because they're going into finals week and are all going to be mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. I want to be there because I have no obligations during their finals week and could sit and talk and laugh and cry with them if they needed that. I want to stuff everyone full of comfort food and watch movies with them and build pillow forts and take inconspicuous pictures of those of us that fall asleep on the couches.

I want to make sure that each of my sisters and all of my friends know that I love them dearly, that it's ok to not be ok, and that sometimes you have to lean on others if you're in a bad place. Because I don't ever want this to happen again.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Eve, aka Food Prep Wednesday

Today, the day before Thanksgiving, was spent getting all the food preparation done. Some families live for Black Friday shopping. We delight in Food Prep Wednesday. It's become a bit of a familial challenge to see just how much we can get prepared on Wednesday without sacrificing flavor. This year has been pretty successful, if I do say so myself. Tomorrow's menu looks something like this:
  • Honeybaked ham
  • Smoked turkey breast
  • Bacon-wrapped green bean bundles
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts
  • Cornbread dressing
  • Crock pot mashed potatoes
  • Marshmallow topped sweet potatoes (brought by guests)
  • Cranberry sauce (brought by guests)
  • Yeast rolls
  • Individual pumpkin cheesecake pies
  • Nutella fudge
Between me and my sister in the past 18 hours, we have steamed the green beans, mashed and seasoned the potatoes, made extra cranberry sauce because our guests are notoriously stingy when it comes to cranberry sauce, made a test batch of yeast rolls and then made another batch plus more dough to be baked tomorrow, and completely prepared the pies and fudge. For those keeping track, that means all that's left to make from start to finish is the dressing and the Brussels sprouts. Those two dishes are Mom's to make.

Reward for such miraculous completion? Relaxation tomorrow morning. I will sit back with a mimosa or cranberry cocktail or whatever else I decide to drink and enjoy every second of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Broadway musical performances that are featured before the parade makes its way to Macy's. Spoiler: the musicals are my favorite part. My family teases me endlessly because I actually turn into an excited child.

How about a few pictures from today?!

Test batch of the yeast rolls rising

RIP Test Batch. You were delicious.

They were particularly delicious with Nutella.

Bubbling dough for tomorrow during its first rise
Cranberry sauce simmering away, and Sis's adorable individual pies in the back

Happy Thanksgiving to the Americans!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Crescent Roll FAIL

I had incredibly high hopes for my Artisan Bread in 5 to make delicious and beautiful crescent rolls. After all, the authors made lovely ones, so why couldn't I?!

Yeah... let's just say it was pretty clear the crescent roll deities were against me on this one.

Rolled out and sliced. This is about the point I started noticing the dough was really sticky and that each sliver would sort of rise when I sliced it.
Of course, rather than be discouraged, I pressed onward, brushing each of the slices with olive oil and sprinkling them with Italian seasoning.

And that's as far as I got with crescent rolls. I stretched and rolled three slivers and they were perhaps the ugliest approximations of crescent rolls I have EVER seen. With my sticky doughy hands, I wasn't able to take any pictures of the little roll-monsters and to be honest, it's probably a good thing. It might have scared people off of bread.

Instead, the three roll-monsters and the remaining slivers got balled up and stretched into a standard bread in 5 boule:
It sat to rise, baked for the required 30 minutes, and came out of the oven smelling absolutely delicious and Italian seasoning-y. 
Just look at that crumb! No lie, I've been staring at the full-sized version of that picture for a good two minutes drooling. Sis and I claimed this loaf as our own and destroyed it over the course of the day. It was wonderful with butter.

Tomorrow I might try dinner rolls to see if that has better results. I think part of my issues stem from the ridiculous weather we've been having. We've had rain, rain, and more rain, and though my boules have turned out better than any I've made before, the dough is super sticky. I did thoroughly enjoy the Italian seasoning though. Next time I think I'll toss in some garlic too. Mmm garlic.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thankful Post #2

Yesterday I was thankful for my family. Today I'm thankful for my alone time because sometimes the family can be a little too overwhelming.

We went to brunch this morning and after that, I kept to myself for much of the afternoon working on a few of the projects that I have going. The Roses cross stitch kit has been washed and dried. Tomorrow it'll be ironed. Today is its future owner's birthday, so she got a lovely picture of it and is insanely enthusiastic about it, which is always a good feeling.

I mixed up a batch of the master recipe and made a loaf of bread from the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes recipe book this afternoon too. If you haven't tried it and have an interest in making bread, try this book. I've tried everything from sourdough to sweet breads to yeast breads and nothing was ever as satisfactory as I wanted it to be. The AB5M technique is so incredibly easy and makes delicious breads. And my favorite part is that you're not limited to the recipes in the book. The writers run a blog where they post new variations on the recipes from their books. I've made breakfast bread cups with egg and cheese and several different styles of loaves to great success. Tomorrow I'll be testing a crescent roll recipe from the blog in preparation for Thanksgiving.

When I wasn't working on projects or making bread, I was enjoying my own company. I'm a rather solitary, independent person. I like being around people and am quite social when I want to be, but I love being alone. I like to let myself get lost in thought. I like to plot out new adventures or projects to try. Being alone lets me take stock of how I'm feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally. I woke up this morning and knew I was going to need alone time today, so I made sure to set aside the time I needed to recharge.

I'm thankful that I have the means to give myself enough "me time" to stay sane and that I surround myself with people who respect my boundaries and my need for alone time.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thankful Post #1

So I figured with Thanksgiving coming up, I'd post some things I'm thankful for, and in honor of my family being in town, the first of these is about them.

We're all healthy, we're happy, and for the most part we get along and enjoy spending time together. Today started with a family breakfast after my mother woke up early (like 5:30 AM early) and started puttering around the kitchen. Shortly after, my sister and I made an emergency run to the electronics store to pick up a few cables so we could watch a football game. We lounged around the house for the better part of the day and never once did the conversation feel forced or awkward.

My family is nuts. We're a little neurotic, a little strange, and quite often much more passionate about things than the people around us. But we love and support each other and that's something I treasure so much.

Mom, Dad, Sis, should you read this, know that I am so thankful for you and all that you do each and every day. And yes, I'll be right there to set up the TV so you can watch old shows on my Netflix account.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Crock Pot Spaghetti

Yesterday I promised a recipe for spaghetti in the crock pot. Today I make good on that promise! This recipe is from my mom's Mega Book of Recipes, which I'm sure means that she found it online somewhere. Nevertheless, it is easy, tasty, and pretty easily customizable.

Supplies (L to R): Frozen meatballs, dried Italian seasoning, red sauce, diced tomatoes, slow cooker liners, spaghetti, onion, garlic.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Final Countdown

In a little less than 24 hours, my family's flight will be landing and I will be picking them up. The kitchen is finished, the house is clean, and by tomorrow, all the furniture will be back in its original location. It's been a whirlwind of a few days around here. Everything miraculously fits in the cabinets and the new refrigerator, which is the only one available that's as narrow as it is. The contractor and I are best buds now and are secretly plotting various ways to chew out the subcontractors who don't show up on time.

For the first time in about two months, I'm back in my own bed. My bed is a cloud of perfection and I had forgotten just how utterly cozy it is. And apparently, I'm a stress knitter. Remember my Scylla socks I started five days ago? Yeah, I finished the knitting on them.

I'm so excited for my family to get here. I can't wait to see them, of course, but I also can't wait for them to see the new kitchen. I've been staring at it partially done for weeks now and it's going to be great to finally see someone react to it that hasn't been seeing it every day.

And tomorrow, I'll have a crock pot spaghetti recipe to share. It's easy and delicious and you end up with the most tender meatballs ever. There's an easy joke in there. I'm too worn out to find it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


So I missed blogging yesterday. I literally looked up at about 11:30 last night and went, "Oh crap. I forgot to write!" At that point I was exhausted and couldn't even pull together a couple pictures to post, so I'm giving myself that one single day and will continue on through the rest of the month.

I'm actually feeling rather unmotivated in general. I've fallen into a bit of a funk and I'm not quite sure how I got here or how to get out. I'll probably end up pushing through it and forcing myself to do just a little bit at a time. I've got the Unfuck Your Habitat app for my phone, so I'll fire it up tomorrow and use its 20/10 timer to work in chunks.

I'm also very much a person who likes to delineate spaces for certain things and because of my house's floor plan, the kitchen remodel has forced me to essentially live in one room. Usually I can go to my desk to work, lounge on the couch and knit, and sit at the table to eat. Now I'm operating entirely out of the master bedroom, which is stuffed full with a king size bed. I know that everything in the house will be back to normal by Friday (when my parents and sister get here) but for the next few days in particular, it just seems like there's so much to do and I just can't find the motivation.

We'll see how tomorrow goes!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


As I write this post, I am eating the most delicious meal I have eaten in about a month. It's nothing special: some Asian-inspired meatballs and rice with teriyaki sauce from Budget Bytes. So why is it so delectable? Because for the first time in over a month, I got to cook on a stove instead of in my crock pot and wash dishes in a kitchen sink instead of my bathroom sink.
Yeah, it was that good.
Yep, the kitchen remodel is so close to finished that I can use it! There are a few cabinets that I can't use because the refrigerator is too tall, but it all works and I am l.o.v.i.n.g. it. The builders will be back tomorrow to fix everything and hopefully by the middle of the week, the interior will be completely done. Now I just need the washer and dryer to be up and running and I'll be fully functioning again.
And apart from getting my kitchen back, I started work on a pair of socks for Giftmas and Nerd Wars. It's the Scylla pattern (Rav link) and is meant to be knit in a variegated yarn, but I'm loving the textured look that knitting it in a solid color gives.
Tomorrow I'm off to pick up even more Thanksgiving supplies, including our honey baked ham. Fingers crossed that the new refrigerator is in place by the time I get home because if it's not, I'm not sure where I'm going to put the ham!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

WIP Update: One Less WIP!

Remember the Gathered Pullover? The knitting and weaving in is done! I finished today while watching my poor Northwestern Wildcats lose to Michigan. What a tragic game. 
On the plus side, I got a great new sweater. It has yet to be blocked (and it certainly needs it) but it fits and is cozy and I'm quite happy with it. It'll get a good blocking tomorrow since the only blocking surface I have right now is my bed. 

And now it's one less project in the project basket! Now to get started on the sewn napkins for Thanksgiving!