Chicken Dinner

Sometimes when we are having a super busy afternoon with me teaching and then kid’s activities, I buy one of the pre-made roasted chickens from the grocery store.  We actually really like the taste and I can pull together the rest of the meal very quickly.  What I truly like about a whole chicken is the other meals/uses that we can make from it when done.  We eat one whole chicken at a meal.  I like to use the bones etc to make chicken broth.  I put the carcass in the crock pot after dinner, add vegetables, herbs and spices and then let it cook overnight.

I’m not sure that looks very appetizing, but after being strained…img_4401

The broth is delicious.  It’s getting a little cooler here so I decided to use the broth immediately to make Matzo Ball Soup.

Our whole family LOVES this soup and it’s great for leftovers.  Grab a hunk of bread and warm up a bowl of soup – YUM!  You may ask what I used the leftover vegetables and bones for from the broth.  Well…img_4402

About a year ago, I bought this – a Food Cycler – I was tired of throwing food away.  Either because, as in this instance, I had used up all that I thought I could, or because we had let something stay in the fridge for too long and it was bad.  This is a fantastic addition to our home.  We just put anything that cannot go into the compost bin (i.e. bones, pizza, leftover meat scraps, anything) into it…img_4403

Here you can see I just dumped all the “stuff” that cooked down in the crock pot for broth into the pot.  Close up the pot and press “start”.  Two or so hours later the stuff in the pot looks like this…img_4409

and goes directly into the compost bin to be used in the garden at a later date.  I really like the idea that I’m not wasting any food anymore – it all gets used in one way or another. A win-win in my book!

Santa Barbara

One of my daughters attends UCSB so this past weekend we went down to visit her.  It was a fantastic weekend!  The weather was perfect and it was great to be with her again.img_4501

We hiked up Gaviota Peak (this is the view on the way down).img_4489

This is from the peak.  The hike was hard, but not too hard.  img_4494

This was the bin that held the notebooks that you could sign your name in that said you had climbed this peak.  I was really surprised at how many notebooks are in the bin!  Lots and lots of them!img_4499

This is most of us.  Our oldest couldn’t make the trip, she had something else going on this weekend.img_6551

The hubby and I!  Hiking is one of the things we have always done for fun, even before kids.  Now that the kids are older, we are getting back into longer hikes and it really is so much fun.  This hike wasn’t all that long – 7 miles with a 2200 foot elevation gain – but it was strenuous enough that it felt like an accomplishment for all of us.img_4488

This cute little lizard was in the middle of the last little bit of our path before we reached the top.  I think he is so pretty with the blue coloring down his sides.  We didn’t see any other wildlife.  Lots of evidence of coyotes and lots of deer tracks, but no sightings.

This is what happens when you give your 18 year old son the phone to take a selfie of THE WHOLE FAMILY because he is best at it…weird photos of him.  Believe me, there are many more of these!  I didn’t even know he had taken them until I was uploading photos right now for this post!  He is a quite the joker!

Slow Stitch Sunday

Every Friday I get together with a great group of friends and we knit.  I have been slowly chipping away at this blanket…img_4503

It is called the Might Rainbow Blanket and it was only supposed to be a throw.  Daughter #3 asked for this blanket, but wanted it to cover her whole bed (twin size) .  We decided to double the rainbow to make it the right size.  She also wanted both ends to be in red, so I started with red – reached the midpoint of purple – and now am doing the blues so that I will end with red again. img_4504

I am so happy that I have reached and passed the halfway point!!  Maybe this is another Wip that will be completed soon.

I am linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitch Sunday.  This project is proceeding S.L.O.W.L.Y so I thought it really fit!

Mint Brownies!

My 16 year old daughter loves to bake.  She also loves Pinterest.  She keeps sending me recipes with the dates that she wants to make them with me.  My job…to make sure we have the supplies on the right date.

I love baking with her!!  She picked this brownie recipe and it is delicious.  However, the brownie part was a little strange and was overly complicated.  We have decided that the recipe is good enough to repeat, but we will use my tried and true brownie recipe instead of the one called for.

Refurbished Chairs

The chairs in the studio are not very colorful or inspiring.  They are these gray ones from Costco.  I have been wanting to update them and got it into my head that I could just do it myself.


Ugly old Costco chairs

My #3 daughter helped me to take off the pads and wash down the chairs.

It was relatively easy to remove the pads.  The seat cushion just popped right off and the back cushion was only held on by three screws.  Then we spray painted the chair and recovered the cushions.

We chose this very fun colorful striped fabric to go along with the purple spray paint.

My daughter helped with the spray painting and when the cushions were covered we reassembled the chair.  I LOVE this chair!  Only 11 more to go!

In my studio yesterday

Yesterday was spent in the studio working on samples for my students.  One of my students wants to make a tiered, ruffled skirt – she is 9 years old so it had to be somewhat simple. img_4465

I chose these fabrics and decided to make a miniature skirt for a doll that could easily, with a bit of math, be made for any size.img_4466

Here it is.  I realized just now looking at the photo that it appears a bit lopsided.  It isn’t.  I hope the student likes it.  She can decide to make the ruffles and tiers as ruffly as she would like.  We can even add more if she wants.  We’ll see what she comes up with!

Brie & Cherry Braid

I have tried and tried to make pastry dough.  Over and over and have usually failed miserably.  The outcome is usually tasty, but the look…not good.  To say that I am extremely “dough challenged” would be an understatement…until now!

I picked up the magazine, Cuisine at home Breakfast & Brunch and decided to try the very first recipe listed – Brie & Cherry Braid.  For me, this was a very complicated recipe.  The dough had to be made (heating the milk, sugar and salt to a certain temperature), then it rose for two hours and then it sat in the refrigerator over night.  The berry sauce also needed to sit in the fridge.  I made the dough in the afternoon and was amazed that it actually rose!  Then in the fridge it went.  The berry filling also needed to be made ahead and placed in the fridge.  The next morning, the dough was pulled out and then rolled into a roughly 12 X 16 inch rectangle…img_4412

As you can see, I did not let anything to chance – there is a pencil marking on the parchment paper the size of 12X16 so the rectangle would be as close to the right size as possible.  Then came the cutting of the edges so the braid could be formed.img_4413

Then the brie skin is cut off and the brie is cut into 1/4″ width strips.  And yes, I did measure to make sure they were mostly 1/4″!  Haha!  My husband asked if I was baking or making a quilt!img_4414

The berry sauce is spread on top of the cheese and…img_4415

Then the braid is made.  It now needed to rest another two hours to rise again so my husband and I went out for a walk.img_4437

When we came back, I added an egg wash to the top and then slivered almonds and then it was baked.

I couldn’t believe it!  It looked just like the picture in the magazine!!  We let it cool down and then made the glaze which was just milk and powdered sugar and drizzled it on top.  Oh My Goodness!!  It was delicious!!  Everyone really liked it!img_4440

It also tasted really good the next day if it is warmed up a little bit.  Even though it takes a long time to make, I will be making this again!