Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Delicious Bowl of Borscht

A Halloween weekend tradition that my husband and I started two years ago was to make a pot of borscht.  We started it the first year we were married as a practice round for Christmas Eve to make sure that it turned out right.  It turned out great (as did Christmas Eve that year) so we have kept up the tradition.  I thought this would be a good time to share a recipe with you since it has been a while since I last blogged about one (which was this brownie post).

As I mentioned, our first run at this was a practice round for Christmas Eve.  I have had this soup every Christmas Eve of my life since I can remember, it represents part of my heritage.  My grandparents both grew up in Catholic families in Ukraine - and borscht is part of a traditional meatless meal of that day.

For this recipe you will need:
  • 4 c  grated beats
  • 3/4 c shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 c chopped celery
  • 1 c green beans (cut in thirds)
  • 1 c wax beans (I get them from my Baba and Dido's garden, but they can be hard to find in grocery stores, doubling the amount of green beans will also work)
  • 1/2 c grated carrots
  • 1 package dried Shiitake mushrooms (cut finely)
  • 1 potato peeled and cubed
  • 1 onion
  • 1 c great northern beans
  • 8 oz light sour cream
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • butter
  • vinegar
  • 1/3 c fresh dill
  • garlic powder
  • pepper
  • salt
  • chicken broth - optional

Start out by boiling the beats with their skin on.  Once the skin comes off easily with a fork, they are done.  Use a fork to peel off the skin.  Shred or grate the beats.  Set aside.

In a large pot add 10 cups of water.  If desired, substitute chicken broth for more flavor (unless you are making a traditional meatless meal).  Add grated beats, shredded cabbage, chopped celery, green beans, wax beans, mushrooms, grated carrots and a spoonful of salt.  How much salt is a spoonful?  Whatever works for you, this is how I got the recipe from my Baba.  Bring to a boil

While the pot of ingredients is heating up finely chop the onion and saute 3/4 cup of onion in butter.  Again, I do not have an exact amount from my Baba - but but at least half a stick.  Once the onions have turned golden brown drain the butter and set aside (I like to keep mine in the fridge and use when heating up leftover varenyky.

Going back to the pot - once it has come to a boil, let it only go a few minutes before reducing the heat. Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of vinegar to add flavor and help keep the bright pink color.  Mix cream of mushroom soup with a bit of the soup you are making.  Use it to help get the lumps out.  Add cream of mushroom mixture to the pot.

Mix 8 oz of sour cream with a bit of soup juice, 1/3 cup of fresh dill, sauteed onions, garlic powder and pepper.  Bring everything to a boil again.  Add sour cream mixture to the boiling soup.  After it has been boiling for about five minutes, reduce heat and let simmer for two hours.


So anyone up for trying this recipe?  Let me know what you think.  I am also available for any questions you my have.

Live in this moment and love life!

Monday, October 29, 2012

To Be Thankful

I've already mentioned that I am so happy to be living close to family again.  But I cannot stop counting my blessings for what it means to be able to make the time to for the people I love.  A few weeks back, Hubby and I were able to make a visit to my Baba and Dido's to pick up some things from their garden before the first frost.

For years I've thought of my grandparents as invincible and decided they were much younger than their actual age.  Recently however I have seen they are starting to catch up to their true age.  My Dido has had two bad falls this year (one quite recently).  Although he is so lucky that his amazingly positive attitude helps him through recovery, it reminds me that I cannot take his health for granted.  All of us are limited in our moments here on earth - and not one moment spent with my grandparents will be something that I regret.  So while they are still here and healthy, I am making a greater effort to spend time with them and let them know they are important to me.

Hubby spending quality time with my Baba.
I love spending time in their garden because they are both so proud it - and with good reason!  On this visit I was sent home with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, wax beans, lettuce and beets. Having fresh beets can only mean one thing in my household - Borscht.  Hubby and I recently made up two pots of this delicious Ukrainian soup, and the recipe will be coming soon.

Beets - I asked for 3 or 4 and came home with a bucket full :)

Two of my favorite people - I love you Baba and Dido!
Live in this moment and love life!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Can't Get Enough of this Pattern

Back in January I shared some hats that I knit up for a niece and nephew.  While I admit that I much prefer knitting and sewing for myself, making something for a little one is truly the next best thing.  It is made so much more enjoyable when my hand-knit items are loved enough that I'm asked to make more!  So when Jake's parents exclaimed that little Jake had outgrown the hat I knit him last year, I decided he must have another.

I used the Pom-Pom Cap from Shescrafty, which is one of the best patterns.  And since I am quite a fan of little Jake I decided he needed not only one, but two new hats.  I made one it white that should get him through this winter and another in green that will fit him next year.  Of course they have been custom made to match his favorite football team (or the team his parent's claim he is a fan of).

While I was on a roll knitting up some hats for my little nephew, I decided to throw in a couple more for a United Way auction at hubby's office.  Every year they have a silent auction to raise money for the owner's favorite charity.  Last year hubby graciously donated my wine (I happened to be the highest bidder and won my wine back).  In an effort to conserve my wine, and not have to worry about being the highest bidder on it, I offered to knit up some baby hats.  This turned out to be a great idea as there were several babies born this summer to hubby's co-workers.

Do you knit or sew for others' (or your own) children?  What are your go-to patterns?  I am always looking for more ideas as so many people in my life are at the baby stage.

Live in this moment and love life!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Vestee Sweater

I love when other bloggers find ways to share their knitting patterns.  Actually, my Briar Rose and Kiss Stitch sweaters were only made possible because other bloggers were so kind as to share their patterns. I also frequent Liz's free knitting patterns quite often (I want to make this one, this one and this one) so I decided it was about time that I shared my patterns as well.  I actually only own one knitting book, but a friend from my knitting group let me borrow her mother's knitting magazine; a Woman's Day from 1952.

Now Woman's Day is still around and publishing magazines for women, though I don't think they still publish knitting patterns.  So I am not sure if this produces any problems.  I guess I can continue to share patterns until I am told not to. 

I thought this Vestee Sweater was a great pattern to start with, as fall is here and there are some fall-like leaves in the top corner of the picture.  Since the picture is black and white, I suppose they could be spring green leaves, but the outfit lends itself to be more of a fall look rather than spring or summer.

I love how this sweater looks almost like a jacket, it really is perfect for fall.  The models throughout this magazine are seriously gorgeous, and this one is no exception, I only wish these images were in color!  No sense in wishing for what we can't have though.  But what we can have is the ability to reproduce this sweater.  Below are the instructions.

Sorry that I am not super tech-savvy, so I don't know a great way to share these images with you.  If you copy and paste these scans into a word document the font is much larger (legible actually).  Please do share if you decide to knit this up.  I've got some knitting WIPs that I would like to complete before starting anything new, so this won't show up on my needles for quite some time.

What has been on your knitting needles lately?

Live in this moment and love life!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Autumn Joy!

I am just giddy with delight at the completion of this dress.  Without exception, this is my new favorite dress, and my floral 60's dress has taken a backseat to this new darling.

I picked up this fantastic pattern at a garage sale, and it has been on my must sew list since early spring of this year, I was just waiting for the perfect fabric.  Shortly after selling our old house, I made one last stop at my fabric store, knowing that my five minute drive was about to become more than ten times longer.  The icing on the cake was finding this belt which was a perfect match to the fabric.

Recently, shirt dresses have really caught my attention and I want to add a few of them into my wardrobe.  With the help of a lovely blogger, I was able to narrow my selection to this dress and one other one.  We will be sewing up another shirtdress together in the coming weeks.

While I more often than not choose to line my handmade clothing, I decided that I liked the lightweight feel of this cotton lawn.  But the lightweight fabric also lends itself to being rather sheer.  Luckily, the slip that I sewed up earlier this year works perfectly under this dress.  I think a crinoline or petticoat would actually work better under this dress, but I'm working with what I've got.

These pictures were taken right as hubby and I were leaving to attend his grade school reunion.  It was so much  fun to wear this dress, as it got lots of compliments and made a great conversation starter.  (Which I needed, since I did not really know anyone there).  I even met a woman who still has all of her mom's old sewing patterns and has offered to lend me some!

I really know that I've got a successful project when my dad is making suggestions for another one.  Yup, my dad likes this dress so much, he is suggesting I sew up another in a wool gabardine.  Well, I happen to have a stash of wool and love sewing with it.  I'm thinking this dress may have a twinsie in my closet soon.

Live in this moment and love life!

Monday, October 15, 2012

We're Home!

Super exhausted after a full weekend of moving
Oh my goodness, I am so excited to finally be saying this.  Hubby and I spent this past weekend moving and we are home.  We feel so blessed to have found a house that meets both of our quirky needs and brings us closer to the people we love.  (Mom, Dad, Baba, Dido and my in-laws - that's you I'm talking about).

While all of our things have made it home, there is still quite a bit of unpacking to do.  But, I will share that my sewing machine has been unpacked and already laid claim to a room.  I can't wait to start sewing in my dedicated sewing room that is taxidermy free.  (While living with my parents, my sewing space included wall mounts of bear, deer, antelope and grouse).

Unpacked and ready for work!
The house is in no shape to show you pictures just yet, but I promise that those will be coming soon.  In the meantime I leave you with two very happy homeowners:

Live in this moment and love life!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Red and Khaki Anyone?

I suppose most bloggers don't share a lot of personal information on their blogs, like where they work, but I really like my job and I am proud of the company I work for.  So if the red and khaki isn't a dead giveaway - yes, I work for Target!  While the dress code at the office is business professional, we are also encouraged to represent the stores in red khaki.

Contemplating my love for my job ;)

I have been looking for the perfect stylish "red" to wear for a while now, and have not come across it.  So I decided the only remedy was to make it myself.  Tasia's Alma blouse proved to be the perfect pattern.  All that was needed was some bullseye red.  Countless trips to my fabric shop left me returning home empty handed (not exactly empty handed, but just without some red fabric).

Finally, I decided to buy some fabric on-line.  I cam across some cotton silk which was the perfect color, and on sale.  Plus, you know I love sewing with silk.  When the fabric arrived it, the texture was a bit different from what I was expecting, as I was expecting more cotton and less silk.  But there really are no problems with more silk, so I set out to make a new wardrobe staple.

So what's next is definitely something khaki.  I have never liked these khaki pants, but I also have never shopped for or sewn a replacement.  Well, as much as I want to sew some new khakis, I've got vintage dresses on my mind.  Yes, that will be on my sewing table next.

Do you sew for work?  Is there a signature look for your employer, like Target's red and khaki?

Live in this moment and love life (and your job)!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Anna V's B&B

Thanks for your thoughts on the Paying to Blog bit, I've decided that at least for now I will continue to blog because I do enjoy it so much!

As I mentioned in a recent post, hubby and I took a mini vacation to a bed a breakfast town.   A most wonderful idea if you ask me.  We stayed at Anna V's B&B located in Lanesboro (B&B capital of Minnesota).  It was a quaint little town that consisted of more B&B's than shops.

If you have never been to a B&B before, I highly recommend a stay.  You get to wake up to delicious homemade food (Anna V's even used a lot of local farms and gardens in their food prep). 

Homemade granola, local fruit and greek yogurt parfait.
Eggbake, bacon and cheesy potatoes
 Even breakfast wasn't complete without a petite dessert, is that a great idea or what?

Homemade rhubarb sorbet with chipotle sauce and something else  . . . (sorry I forgot)
And the best part is I got to stay in a home built in the 1880's.  It was beautiful, I wish I had taken more pictures of the inside.  Since I wasn't able to buy a Victorian home while house hunting this summer, staying in one for a few nights almost made up for it.

While we were in town we decided to stop in a few of the shops.  It's funny how every other shop advertised that they sold antiques, but what that meant was there was usually a small table or two that was filled with junk.  Now, I'm not the most seasoned antique shopper, but  I think that 1980's tupperware is more garage sale material than antique.  Besides, I was on the hunt for some vintage patterns, fabric and notions.

I did not find what I was looking for, but I did stumble upon this cute little piece of lingerie at a shop just outside of Lanseboro.  I thought about buying it, but the lady working in the shop did not know anything about it (approximate era, material, etc.) so I took a few pictures of it before leaving:

Do you think it will fit?
 Okay, the minute I got back to the car I turned to hubby and said, I really want to buy that cute piece of lingerie, let's go back.  I was hoping to have a giveaway on my blog for it, but now that I have it in my hands I am not sure that I want to give it up.

Love the lace detail, great care was taken during the construction of this.
 So I mentioned that the lady in the shop had zero knowledge as to when this piece could possibly have been made.  I'm thinking it's a well done reproduction, but it could be authentic.  What do you think?  The actual style of the piece looks kind of 1930's to me, but I am not an expert.  There are also details like hook and eye closures along the side seam and button closures for the legs - which would indicate that it is older.

Side seam hook and eye closures
The two signs that it may not be authentic is that the fabric feels like nylon to me, which was not widely used in the 30's, though it did exist.  Also, the side seams are serged, which again was not widely used but did exist back then.
Button closure on the legs
I really like the over-all construction of the piece - a lot of care was taken to cover all seams except for the side seams which have been serged.  Even the straps have been sewn on using techniques from this vintage lingerie sewing booklet.

I'm trying to decide if I want to have a giveaway for this little lingerie piece or use it to make a template for a sewing pattern so I can reproduce it for myself (with my dimensions) and share it with all of you.  What are your thoughts?  Would you like a chance to win this?  Would you rather that it was a pattern? Do you have no interest either way (a perfectly acceptable and respected option too)?

Live in this moment and love life!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Do You Pay to Blog?

Hey fellow bloggers!  I have a quick question for you and I'm hoping to get your help.  As I was getting ready to write up my real post for today, I got an error message:

Whoops! You're out of space. You are currently using 100% of your 1 GB quota for photos.

Immediately I panicked when I saw this message.  This is blogger's way of saying that they are done allowing me to freeload cyberspace for my blog and it's time for me to pay up.  My first reaction was that this was the end of blogging for me.  Or perhaps I could go through my old posts and start deleting pictures from them and make sure future posts only contained one or two photos?

I think some of my thoughts were a bit irrational.  It's just that I have a hard time choosing to pay to keep up my blogging.  So I am wondering, have any of you come to that point where you need to pay if you want to keep blogging?  Do you think it's worth it?  Maybe you've been posting for years and have seen no such message.  Is there somewhere else that your photos are stored so they are not using up blogging space?

I would really love to keep blogging, as I am no ready to say good-bye to all of my virtual buddies yet.  I've counted the cost for a year and it's not too bad, but I'm still having a hard time making that choice.

Thanks in advance for your insight and thoughts!

Live in this moment and love life!Annabelle