Friday, November 30, 2012

Roasted Sausages and Potatoes

Roasted Sausages and Potatoes

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I Love Roasting.  Seriously.  Once the weather turns cooler, I turn on my oven, get out a roasting pan or baking sheet and proceed full speed ahead.  See the above dinner?  This was made on two baking sheets, which I lined with parchment paper – so zero pans to clean.  I drizzled all the ingredients with olive oil and seasonings right on the backing sheet and tossed – so zero bowls to clean. 

I used a recipe from Martha Stewart – Roasted Chicken Sausage and Potatoes as my inspiration. She used smoked sausage, but I had some brats, so I used them instead.  The high roasting heat created a lovely golden crust on the potatoes.  For the green beans I tossed them with olive oil salt and pepper and added them to the oven when there was about 20 minutes left on the roasting time for the sausage and potatoes. 

Dinner on the table from start to finish in 45 minutes.  Perfect.



This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman

And when she was good by Laura Lippman

I hate to say it about one of my favorite authors, but I was not at all wowed by And When She Was Good: A Novel .  It is the story of Heloise (or Helen), a single mom with a teenage son.  Heloise is not just any single mom, she is also a fairly high class madame.  How Heloise became a madame is told through snippets of her past.  The story dragged for me, plodding along at a steady pace with no real drama until the end.  It wasn't bad.  The story line was solid.  The characters a bit too predictable.  An average read.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What Was it Wednesday?

You’re looking at April 7, 2011.  Chicken Salad?

Still guessing chicken salad.


****What Was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Garden Tuesday ~ Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus

Well, it’s that time of the year.

Christmas Cactus

When everyone starts thinking about Christmas.

Christmas Cactus

Including the plants in my house.

Christmas Cactus

Especially this guy.

Christmas Cactus

Christmas.  Ready or not.  Here it comes.

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Stocking Knit-Along Step 4

Time for another installment of the Christmas Stocking Knit Along from the amazing guest blogger Rosemary.  If you are just joining us, you’ll find links to the first lessons at the end of this post.

Christmas Stocking Lesson 4

Hi!  Well….we’re down to the heel!  This is probably what has kept folks away from knitting socks, but I hope to give you some ideas that will dispel the myth that it is impossible.

Today’s lesson will include: tweaking some of the pattern, pictures to help guide you and tips to make things a little easier. 

Christmas Stocking Knit Along

Remember that the pattern came out in the 1940’s; please accept my suggestions for a couple of “rewrites”.  Look at the section of the pattern “Begin Heel”. You are going to divide your 50 stitches onto 4 needles.  Where it says “Now, slip the last 12 sts onto 1st needle” --- this is confusing--- I would say “slip the FIRST 12 sts onto 1st needle”.  These are the same first 12 stitches that you knitted from your work, the total is still 50.  Look at the first photo of the heel flap.  You’ll see how the 50 stitches come together now in the round.  Where the stocking now (newly) comes together, you will knit your flap, straight stockinette stitch with half of your stitches.

Now take a look at the section marked “Turn Heel”.  The final sentence that says “Continue in this manner,…” could use a clarifier, so I’ll throw it in.  You will knit or purl all stitches until the ‘gap’ (you’ll see it), THEN you will knit or purl the 2 together.  You want to wind up with 16.  If you need to take it out, do so.  It’s a small section and can quickly be knitted again.  I actually took mine out even though I’ve made it before as I made an error.  End heel flap with your final row being purl, so you are ready for the next part starting on the right side.  When you have finished, look at my second picture of the heel that is made.  Does it look something like that?

Christmas Stocking Knit Along

Let’s look at the section called “Gusset”.  This is the final hard part of this whole heel deal.  Promise!  We need to pick up some stitches.  If your set of double-pointed needles came with 5 needles, (YES, Pam, FIVE) I suggest that where it says “with the second needle knit across the 26 instep stitches” you keep 13 stitches on each of 2 needles….just a little more comfortable to work with…won’t make a difference in the outcome.  A 5 needle set allows you to divide stitches in the round onto 4 needles and have the 5th to start the knitting.  Upon picking up your 12 stitches on each side, just catch some yarn, fairly evenly spaced.  See my 3rd picture, picking up the stitches.  You’ll see half of them knit, half of them not knit yet.  Should look something like that. 

Christmas Stocking Knit Along

I think that’s enough for this week!  Christmas is getting closer, so we’ll want to finish up in perhaps two more lessons.  We’ll finish the foot, then we’ll put the ‘heirloom treasure’ together.  You’ll be so pleased!

Again, please post any questions or comments on the comment section.  I’ll check and try to answer!  See you next week!  Rosemary

Intro to the Christmas Stocking Knit-Along

Step One for the Christmas Stocking Knit-Along

Step Two for the Christmas Stocking Knit-Along

Step Three for the Christmas Stocking Knit-Along

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Weekend Wine Reviews #134 Clifford Bay Pinot Noir

Clifford Bay Pinot Noir

2009, Marlborough, New Zealand.  $9.99, Costco.  They say:  bright garnet color and shows vibrant black cherry and plum notes.  Long soft finish.  Excellent.  Buy again:  yes.

Hey – is there any interest in me adding a linky tool link to these posts?  If you do reviews of wines or beers, you could link up.  Let me know if there is any interest and I’ll start adding a link next week.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Crispy Breakfast Pita

Crispy Breakfast Pita

So, Mr. Sidewalk Shoes went on a business trip to Seattle.  I was already feeling sorry for myself enough, just imaging the dinners in some charming Seattle brew pub.  So, even though I am tempted to get lazy when just cooking for myself and calling a big bowl of popcorn dinner (not that there is anything wrong with that), I wanted to eat good too.

I looked for things that could be made for one without too much muss or fuss or leftovers.

I saw this Crispy Breakfast Pita in Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner - it looked like exactly what I was looking for.

Crispy Breakfast Pita

OMG.  This was wonderful.  Of course anything topped with a fried egg is good, just ask Larry.  This was absolutely perfect.  So good and so easy.  It was so good I made it the next day too.  And since I still had all of the ingredients, I made it for Mr. Sidewalk Shoes for lunch after he returned from his week in Seattle, because I am amazingly kind and generous.  Unlike someone who didn’t bring me back anything from Seattle.

I found the recipe online for you:  Crispy Breakfast Pita.  Make it.  Really.



This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What Was it Wednesday?


You’re looking at April 1, 2011.  Badly focused biscotti – obviously.

****What Was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Garden Tuesday Using Evernote and Skitch

Do you use Evernote?   It’s a web based app that you can use on the web, your phone, your Mac, your PC, or like I do – on all of the above.  Since it’s web based, your stuff is stored in the cloud, meaning that you can access it anywhere. 

It has a web clipping feature that allows you to save entire articles from websites, or just the URL.  Right now we are looking for a car, so I have a notebook called car buying – and in it, I clip all of the articles that I find on the cars that we are interested in. 

I take a picture of my receipts and store them in a receipt notebook.  Because it has an amazing search feature, I can immediately find when and how much I paid for something…no shuffling through a shoe box.

And it allows you take photos with your phone, and annotate them using a fun app called Skitch.  At first I couldn’t figure out how I would find Skitch useful, and then I thought up this! 

Every year, I buy a few new plants for my garden.  Every spring, I struggle trying to remember what I planted where and whether that cute little sprout is a plant or a weed.

Not any more.  Next year, when these plants pop up, I’ll know exactly what they were.  Or if they don’t pop up, I’ll know what didn’t work.  AND, when I am the garden nursery trying to decide what new plants to get, since this is on my iPhone, all I have to do is look at the photos and I won’t worry about getting repeats.


This post is not endorsed in anyway by Evernote or Skitch – I just use them and love them and wanted to share!

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Stocking Knit-Along Step 3

For all of you knitting along, here is your latest installment from Rosemary.  AND, in case you were wondering if I was knitting along, the answer would be a very loud, “NO!”  Though I do hope to be good enough some time next year to attempt this.  But to give you an idea of my knitting skills, I decided to knit some leg warmers.  Easy enough, they are just a tube, right?  So, you knit them on double pointed needles.  Easy enough, except the instructions said 5 needles!  5 needles!  I tried for almost two hours to get started with them…drank my gin and tonic in under 10 minutes!  Went into school and told our resident knitting guru that I give up.  She pulled up the instructions.  It’s size 5 mm needles, not 5 needles. 

From Rosemary:

Christmas stocking Lesson 3

Hello, again!  Today we are going to continue with the body of the stocking.  Take a look at the picture with the three panels: THE CHILDREN, THE SANTAS and THE TREES.  This is all knit in a stockinette stitch block before tackling the heel.  We’ll save that adventure for next week!

When knitting these panels you will be following the instructions on the pattern.  I’m not going to repeat those, but I am going to give you some suggestions, now that I’ve gotten this far in my third stocking. 

Trusting that you were able to nicely carry the two colors across the back when doing the name, we are going to continue to do that --- SOMETIMES.  I did a little experimenting while working ahead on Alanna’s stocking.  When doing the panels, as a rule of thumb, I’d say carry the color across the back UNLESS the background color is white.  It’s okay to carry the white across a colored background.  We want to avoid seeing the color being carried from the front.

THE CHILDREN: Best Part: You can easily carry all of the colors across because they are all dark and do not show through.  Worst Part: You are now working with 3 colors at a time instead of 2 which ups the challenge some.  You’ll probably experience a little more tangling, but still try to weave the color you are “carrying” into the color you are working with every couple of stitches.  Remember, this is a treasure that someone may have for a lifetime!

THE SANTAS: Best Part: There are only 2 Santas!  Worst Part: There are only 2 Santas!  I’ll confess to you that the Santas are the part of the stocking I like knitting the least.  Because of their girths you are carrying the opposite color for a long time.  Look at the stretch of red and white from Santa’s pack to his hands…you’re carrying the green background yarn all that way.  When doing the Santas, I would recommend using TWO balls of red, one for each Santa so that you are not carrying that red across all that green.  Just take a small amount of red yarn from your skein and make it into a second ball. 

THE TREES:  Best Part:  Look at the chart for the pattern; it’s easy and symmetrical.  Worst Part:  Again, I’m going to suggest that you use THREE balls of green for your trees.  Otherwise (and I tried this on Alanna’s and took it out) you are carrying the green behind the white and it tends to show through.  Also, the chart looks easy, don’t get distracted.  You’ll notice my middle tree is not exactly right!

I am hoping you find this project enjoyable.  Please post any questions, comments or concerns (or advice!) in the comments section.  I’ll be watching to see if I can respond in any helpful way.

Enjoy the week!  Rosemary

If you are just joining:

Intro: Intro to Christmas stocking knit-along 

Step One: Step one of Christmas Stocking Knit-along

Step Two: Step two of Christmas Stocking Knit-along

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weekend Wine Reviews #133 Vicious Red

Vicious Red

2009, California.  $9.99, total wine.  We say:  creamy sweet, flavorful up front, fades quickly.  Buy again: no.  We have found other wines that we like at less that $9.99.  And yes, I know, real wine people are shaking their heads at my $9.99 as a higher price point, but sorry, I’m cheap when it comes to wines.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging #389 HERE!!!


Last week I posted about Smudge being diagnosed with FIV.  He was actually doing a lot better before we took him to the vet.


Vet visits are always stressful and at this one, they took blood and then gave him a shot for possible infections.


Before we took him to the vet, he was pretty much acting normal, except that instead of interacting in the evening while we were watching tv, he would go sleep behind the bathroom door, where the heating vent is. But he was still eating and going outside, like normal.


But after getting back from the vet, he is not eating as much (though he likes to be handfed rotisserie chicken!), sleeps all the time, doesn’t show much interest in going outside. 

Usually after getting back from a vet visit he is traumatized for the rest of the day, exhausted from the ordeal.  I’m hoping that the FIV is just making this bounceback take a little longer, and that he’ll perk up some soon.



This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by US – Link up below!!!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Easy Weeknight Pasta Bolognese

Pasta Bolognes

Who doesn’t love a good steamy pasta shot?  And who doesn’t love a an easy weeknight Bolognese.  This comes from Giada’s Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipesa book I turn to time and time again.

This is not a new recipe for me, I posted about it here – Simple Bolognese.  But some recipes are just too good to not turn to time and time again.  Especially when one wants something comforting, something you don’t have to think about, something that soothes your soul.  

So, if you don’t have the book (even though you should) follow the link above to my post and it will take you to a link to a website version of the recipe.  Yes, I know, I’m making you click 3 times to get to the recipe.  It’s worth it.



This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Review–The Heart Broke In by James Meek

The Heart Broke In

I had a hard time getting into The Heart Broke In by James Meek.  I could not remember who was who.  My notes for the book read:  "Bec - trying to find a cure for malaria" and "Ritchie - Bec's brother, married to Karin"  and "Alex is Harry's nephew."  But once I finally got everyone straight - almost halfway through the book, it started to come together for me.  I started caring about the characters. 

I am not one of those people who analyzes books - what does this mean, what does that mean, what is the author trying to say.  I just read for entertainment.  But it is obvious even to me, that this book is about betrayal.  Every one is betrayed and/or betrays someone.  But through it all, the human spirit keeps going.  They keep on loving.  They keep on living. 

As I said before, after I finally settled on who was who, I really enjoyed following the characters.  Some books are plot driven, this one is definitely character driven.  You live their lives, you feel their pain, you share their triumphs.  

I didn't highlight many passages (too busy sorting characters out), but here is a prime example of the fine writing:

"None of these was the memory of what it meant:  the beginning of a time when being with Alex forever became something that would happen unless she stopped it."

Isn't that wonderful?  I think that totally captures that moment in a relationship.  This is why I read books, to have an author put into words what I have experienced, but can't state so eloquently.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What Was it Wednesday?

You’re looking at April 1st, 2011.  Some sort of main dish salad.  Looks like chicken, maybe mangoes??  or yukon gold potatoes, on mixed salad greens.


***** What Was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Garden Tuesday ~A Fall Garden~

Dogwood leaves in the fall

Dogwood leaves.  Slowly painting themselves red.


Dogwood trees in the fall

Bright red dogwood berries with the mottled leaves.


Heart shaped weeds

I love how this weedy vine creates yellow hearts all through my flower bed.  See, I knew there was a reason not to weed!

Russian Sage

I’m not sure if I planted these diminutive white flowers, or if they are a weed, but I love the way they are growing amidst my Russian sage. 

Just a few random pics from my garden this week.  How about you, how does your garden look right now? 

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.