Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Super Moms Make Home-made Chicken Noodle Soup

What on earth possesses an over-tired, sleep deprived mother to make chicken noodle soup - home-made of course?  When the poor precious child is sick.  Because we all know that chicken noodle soup makes a person feel better, so home-made must be even better, right?  OK - we almost always, always have home-made broth on hand because we buy at least 1 chicken a week for meals.  But noodles?
Someone please save me from myself!  Notice I have NO roller.  But nothing doing - I was going to make home-made noodles.  DH smartly decided to stay out of my way.  I did make the noodles and they were... ok.  Not anything that keeps as a left-over though.  Really - store bought thread noodles would have worked just fine.   DH and I laugh at the noodle episode - at least we find humor in whatever deeply rooted maternal instinct in me led me to make home-made noodles in not the best circumstances.  Seriously - I think with a little practice I could make very good noodles, but this just wasn't the time to be trying to do so!  What was I thinking?  I was thinking that I was Super Mom, of course!
Here he is on Saturday - healthy as can be.  Wheeee!  Notice - hat, mittens, ski pants, winter coat, snow boots.  But Sunday night he was feverish.  At 10 pm I gave him some fever reducer and set the alarm clock for later to check on him.  Can someone tell my why kids always seem to spike a fever in the middle of the night? 2am medicine and the fever continued to rise so by 3 am the fever was 103.  During the day he seems ok, but at night - no sleep for either of us!   So - no school Monday (gym), no school Tuesday, for sure no school today (Wednesday is swimming).  Don't ask me how the teachers get 24 kids to the gym, changed, in the pool, changed again, hair dryed and back to school - but they do.  All day today he has been pretty happy, finished all his homework that the teacher sent, practiced his music and then by 7 pm - fever.  
Is it any wonder?  The weather has been up and down like a yo yo.  Snow, ice, cold one week - and then the next?  Warm, spring-like weather.  I kid you not.  Here is a photo my son took in mid-January of crazy Super Mom who makes noodles.
See - spring jacket - unzipped.  Beautiful warm day - no hat, no mittens.  Today - cold.  This weekend - supposed to be warm.  Good grief.  Well, I don't care what the weather does - I just want my boy to feel better - so much so that I attempted home-made noodles.  Maybe I am the one who is feverish!  Please send chicken noodle soup!
Oh - and NEXT time I attempt noodles (which I have read are very easy to make), I would love to have this tool!  Yes, I love my kitchen gadgets!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

On the Needles Friday - crocheting snowflakes!

This week was full of crocheting snowflakes for my son's Snowman Party.  Christmas decorations are long gone and I really didn't want a costume Faschings party (carnival the week before Ash Weds.).  
My son invited 7 kids.  We printed out our own invitations and he colored them all in.  We came up with a decorating theme (white Faschings globes from the dollar store (really Euro shop) with snowflake garlands.  These globes come in all colors, but we wanted white snowballs - when you turn on the LED light inside they are soft blue/purple.  Really pretty - it just doesn't show up in the photo.  
Edited to add this new photo with the camera set on night landscape or some other icon like that.  Sometimes it pays to play around with your camera settings!

We came up with a menu (pizza and krapfens).  Krapfens are a traditional Faschings treat, but they are so popular that now the bakeries sell them year round - they are like jelly donuts, but not as sweet!  My son decided on a simple craft project and we went to get the supplies.  I crocheted.  My son had to clean his room.  So yes, planning a party takes time!

My son painted this snowman on a giant piece of paper.  The nose is felt.  This was one of our games - "pin the nose on Frosty".  The prizes were Kinder Eggs!

The snowman craft my son wanted to do was oragami style folded snowmen.  We bought a large sheet of paper and cut the strips ahead of time, plus glued the stips at 90 degree angles so it was all ready to go.  The kids really loved their snowmen and my son's has been added to our snowflake garland.  They also made cookies - I had premade the sugar dough and they got to roll it out and cut out the cookies.  Everyone got to go home with a bag of cookies.
The big hit of the party was hauling out all the Lego's and playing, playing, playing with them.  
It was really fun and really didn't even cost all that much money!  Just goes to show - you can have a good time even when you are on a tight budget.  All the parents called ahead to ask if it was a birthday party and I said no - it was just a fun party for the kids to get together during these cold, gray January days.  There was no stress about presents and expectations on how birthday parties are supposed to be and what so and so had for their birthday party.  Oh yes, I think I rather like a snowman party!
MOST of my snowflakes were made using a tutorial on Attic24 - you can find her tutorial on her blog here.
I made mine out of white yarn and different sized hooks.  Again, the photo really doesn't show how really pretty this decoration turned out to be!
If you want to see what everyone else has been working on this week, head on over to Judy's blog to see all the links.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Knitting Friday - Kneesocks!

Well - these 2 balls of yarn were slightly different color values - but look how perfectly they match the design in my favorite rug!  This is Red Heart yarn called Heart & Sole with Aloe.  I started these socks (on size 2 needles) about 2 weeks ago for my son.  He is tall and thin and really, really wanted knee socks.  Cotton/acrylic socks seem to be all that we could find and that was just at one store.  Cotton/acrylic is not warm.  Finally, we found a pair of skiing socks, but after wearing them to school the report was... they fall right down his leg and end up "in a puddle" in his boots.  I guess boys don't wear knee socks anymore?  That is my guess anyway because I would think that the stores would have them.
He wore these socks to school today and reported back that... he would like another pair!  In school he folds them down almost in 1/2 because he says they do fall down and are a bit itchy, but he says he doesn't care because he likes them so much.  Hummm.  You have to understand how very unusual this is for my son - who is so sensitive to "textures" that I have to inspect all his clothes before buying them to make sure they have the preferred style of seam, cut off all tags, etc.  Maybe they really aren't itchy - just a different feeling than he is used to on his leg.  I am going to cast on another pair for him and knit the leg shorter, but still taller than his winter boots.  How do kids cope with their socks being shorter than their winter boots?  Seriously, we have looked high and low for kneesocks and there are none to be found - most stores carry a short "sport" sock.  
I knit this pair 9 1/2" total before dividing for the heel.  The top cuff is 2", but maybe I should have made it 3 - 3 1/2".  So, now I am thinking a pair of socks with a 3 1/2" rib and maybe a 7" leg.  If I do the rib in K1, P1 with 1 size smaller needle, it should stay up better than the K2, P2 I used on this pair.  I can't rib the sock itself because he needs these to go skiing and the rib won't be comfortable once those ski boots are clamped nice and snug.  So, this first pair may not be the perfect answer, but they are acceptable! 
Seriously, I don't think that there is anything warmer than a nice wool sock!  He also has plain boot socks (wool - worsted weight yarn) to wear over these for skiing, so I am pretty sure his feet will be toasty warm!  If anyone has any suggestions or advice about knitting knee socks, please feel free to share!  I am sure the winning pattern will be a combination of many different things.
Today is "On the Needles" Friday over at Judy's blog (click where it says "Judy's blog" in blue text and it will bring you to the link).  Go take a look at all the knitted goodness everyone else has been working on this week!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Show us your socks!

Judy is doing a fun little link-up today called Show us your socks!  Lots of hand-knitted goodness.  I made these socks 2-3 years ago in my favorite "lazy" K3 P2 rib down to the toe.  I do a K2 P2 rib for 2" and knit 7" total before breaking off for the heel.  It is a good, basic sock... normally.  However, we had snow again last night which meant we were at the park for snow sledding again.  Which means, I am wearing lined wool tights and then my socks!  I am also wearing my favorite, fleecy house slipper shown on the floor.  Yup, wool socks will keep your feet warm in the winter!
Edited to add:  Paton's Kroy stripped sock yarn.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

This week's recipe features spinach!

This week's ingredient for Judy's recipe challenge was spinach.  I made a creamed spinach sauce to serve over pasta.  
I bought fresh tortellini.  They cook in 3 minutes!  I made about 7 or 8 each for my DH and myself and saved the rest for another meal.  I like tortellini in soup too.
I based my recipe off this recipe.  But I am not even sure if I can get evaporated milk over here.  First I sauteed garlic in butter  probably 2 TBS because I like butter.  Stir in about 1 heaping TBS of flour to make a roux to thicken it all up.  Thinned that out and made sure there were no lumps by adding in 2 cups of chicken stock (I add chicken stock to lots of my cooking).  Added 1/3 cup of parm. cheese, 1/3 cup of white wine and about 2 heaping TBS of horseradish cream cheese.  I let that cook down some to get rid of the wine taste.  Then I added 1/2 a box of finely shredded spinach.  Added probably 2 TBS of whipping cream - because I like whipping cream.  Besides, I can figure out what whipping cream is in the store - evaporated milk - I might not be so lucky since my German skills are seriously lacking! 

Here is a picture of it all cooking.  I didn't "cook" that spinach per say - that is my method of "defrosting" it - ha ha. I put the frozen block in a hot pan and keep flipping it over and over and scrapping of the defrosted spinach from the block at the same time.  I am impatient that way!  I guess it got cooked a bit in the process.  The resulting spinach sauce was really good... as far as spinach sauces are concerned.  I hate to admit it, but I tend to cook the same favorite foods over and over again.  I do not cook cabbage or spinach all that often - although we do eat it.
In the meantime, we still had 1/4 of a cabbage left over from the cabbage casserole (I bought a 1/2 head - which is a nice option if you don't want a ton of cabbage!).
DH made a marinade of cooked Worcestershire sauce, a little olive oil, and cooked bacon bits.  Over here though it really isn't bacon bits- it is small pieces of uncooked bacon that you have to cook in the  frying pan.  Anyway - he wrapped it all in tinfoil and baked it for about an hour.  I think it would be a good dish for a beef entree - we tend to eat more chicken, but I will remember this for the once in a blue moon that we have beef!
You can read all about Judy's very good sounding stuffed spinach meatloaf on her blog, as well as what everyone else made this week who cooked with spinach!  Next week's ingredient to cook with is creamed corn - I will have to check at the store and see if I can manage to find some!  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Winter Wonderland

Since the kids in Austria walk to school - there is no such thing as a snow day.  I walk 2 miles everyday just getting my son to school and back home.  Every morning and afternoon it is a parade of kids and parents going back and forth, walking, on bike, on scooters, on the trams... but very few by car.  I know this photo looks dark, but he does have reflective tape all across the back of his backpack and swinging, blinking red lights.  Plus - he walks with an adult.  Maybe I should add some hot dots to his jacket sleeves though.
If it snows at night, by mid-morning just about every sidewalk is cleared.  The gym even clears the running track so people can continue to jog.  The parks are cleared too.  Even though there is snow, it is very easy to walk in the city.
Yesterday we had nice, fresh snow.  So after school, bad mother that I am - I said that homework could wait for early evening and we would go sledding.  This is the crazy hill we went to - it has 2 hills that come together at the bottom - the kids sled in both directions, walk up the middles, etc.  There is always at least one crash every time we go to this hill.  My son's sled has a steering "wheel".  Being from the country and growing up with "boat" sleds myself, I thought this was a bit foo-foo-ish, but turns out, it is pretty important when you are in the city on a busy sledding hill.
I love when kids play outdoors and their cheeks get all apple red!
I love how beautiful the snow makes everything look.  All sparkly!  Oh - and that homework - it got finished - I think it took a little bit longer than usual, but it still got done and we got to enjoy the fresh snow.  Snow tends to melt fast here so you have to take advantage of the best snow conditions when you have them!
The mittens I made a few years ago for my son - I am the one who wears them all time time - he likes waterproof mittens.  I made them in Briggs Little yarn in bright orange because we are so often in Canada during hunting season.  They are child size but fit me almost perfectly - I am going to make another pair and add just 1 more row of pattern going toward the cuff.  
Coming up this week on my blog - tomorrow - a recipe for Judy's fun weekly project using the weekly ingredient - spinach, plus what I did with the rest of the cabbage from the cabbage project!  And Friday - Judy's link-up for "On the Needles".  I finished my sons knee socks.  Yeah!  So, I thought I best post this post before the time slips away and then I never post it!

Friday, January 11, 2013

On The Needles Friday - Baby Booties!

Another pair of cute baby booties.  Because they were already on my needles and I wanted those needles for something else, so I figured, I would finish them.  I made another pair of these LAST January and must have started this 2nd pair then.  Anyway, I blogged about the last pair on this blog post.  Unfortunately, when I went to the link, the pattern no longer shows up.  After a little digging, it appears that the pattern was removed because people were making baby booties using it and selling the booties as craft fairs, etc.

But since these were almost finished, I was able to figure it out.  Besides, there are many similar patterns on the internet.  The one I will use from now on is called Christine's Baby Booties, which was published in Threads in 1989.  I love the story of 95 year old Christine sharing the pattern for future generations to enjoy!
The first pair of booties I made for a great nephew who was expected.  Except I made a size small and he weighed over 9 lb at birth, so they never even fit him!  Big boy!  This pair, I do not know, but eventually another baby will arrive somewhere in my big circle of a family and friends!  Hopefully a baby smaller than 9 lb because this pair is also size small!  I even have enough yarn left over to knit up a simple baby hat to match.  Won't that be cute!
In other knitting news, I am working on a pair of knee socks for my son.  I have 1 sock all done and the other I have done 5" of knitting done, so I expect that I will have a new knitting post next Friday for link-up Friday at Judy's Blog.  You can see what everyone else is knitting this week on this link.
On a previous "On The Needles Friday", I blogged about house slippers.  Joyce asked me where I got the pattern, but left no e-mail to answer.  I did some internet searching and came up with the exact same pattern I used on this web site.  I have to warn you though - there is a "hole" in the toe from drawing up all the stitches at the end.  My son doesn't like the "hole".  It really isn't a hole - these are very popular house slippers in Canada - he is just very sensitive to anything out of the ordinary.  So, now I am going to try a different style after I finish the socks!  I guess that will be a post for a later date!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A carrot cabbage recipe

Judy L. over at Patchwork Times is having a fun little, weekly thing.  Every week she picks an ingredient and then you can make a recipe, write your blog post and then link up to Judy's blog - that way everyone can click on all the different blog posts and recipes in one handy place.  Fun, right?  So, this week - the recipe was carrots (next week is spinach).  You can read all the carrot posts here.
So, I decided to make this carrot/cabbage casserole.  It is loosely based off a recipe I found on this website.  But, remember, I am in Austria right now and so many ingredients we take for granted (like Cheddar cheese!) is hard to find.  So, I improvised.  I used this cheese:
I used maybe 1/3 of it and saved the rest to bake to dip our breadsticks in later this week.  Also, I used 4 carrots, which my DH finely shredded.  I saved ALL the water that the carrots and cabbage were cooked in because I used the left-over water for cooking the rice that I made.
DH is always very interested when I say I am going to try a new recipe.  We thought we would try carrot pudding, but haven't found any vanilla extract, despite being to several large stores.  So, we went with the casserole.  And DH shredded the cabbage on this board thing that I did NOT even know we had!  Yes, Austria - land of cabbage, I guess!
I never, ever, ever trust a new recipe and make new recipes as a "side" and have plenty of other options to rescue the day in case the new recipe is awful.  One thing I love - my rice cooker!  I use the top steamer basket all the time for veggies  (I often slice a clove of garlic for up there too) and almost always use broth for the rice.
When I got over here - the poor rice cooker was stored away - out of reach.  I had to rescue it.  DH told me that he hates it - why do I need that gadget?  You can make rice in a pan!  Yes, but this rice cooker makes excellent rice, even those specialty rices that are hard to cook evenly through-out.  After 2 meals with the rice cooker, DH agrees with me - it is a great kitchen gadget.  I love cooking the veggies on top and not throwing out the nutritious water - it drips right down into the rice.  I often put sliced garlic up top - yum.  Or sliced ginger straight into the rice.  
And our complete meal today!  That is a beef roll in the center - DH and I don't eat a TON of meat and will split one.  Rice with beef gravy, steamed zucchini and the casserole.
NEXT time I will add more cheese, plus put cheese and bread crumb mixture on the top.  Otherwise, I think this was very good.  It is always nice to come up with a new way to cook food!
And, just because I hate it when I go back to a blog post to refer to something and the link is broken - my own notes on the recipe:
1/4 head cabbage - finely sliced
4 carrots - shredded
Simmer them in 2 cups chicken broth for 30 minutes.
Melt 2 TBS butter, add 2 TBS flour to make roux.  Add 1/3 cup milk and 1 ladle of broth from cabbage mixture, plus shredded cheese.
Drain cabbage mixture - save water for rice!  Mix cabbage, cheese mixture and several large pinches of salt with a sprinkle of paprika together.  Pour into buttered casserole dish and bake 20 minutes.
My all-purpose casserole dish that I use every week for roasting chickens, casseroles, roasting vegetables.  Mine is from the 1950's or earlier so you know they will last forever, I feel so lucky to have 2 of them!  I do not trust glass casseroles anymore since one shattered into a million pieces on me ones!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Time for Apple Butter!

In November, one of my sister's and I had a get-away to New Hampshire.  I love New Hampshire!
Here is a photo from a rest area we stopped at.  So pretty!
My sister wanted to go to this apple orchard for apples.  This is the thing that they pour apples into for pressing into apple cider.
And here are some crates of smooshed apple remains from making cider. I had never seen this before - so interesting!  And a pungent smell, not in a bad, rotten way, but in an overripe apple kind of way.
They had lots of tractors!  Here is just one of them!
Grocery stores tend to sell only the "most popular" apples.  Scientists are constantly messing with them trying to get the "perfect" apple for mainstream buyers.  But at a farm, you can get many different varieties.  Not sure what a new to you variety tastes like?  No problem, the farm has a little tasting area!
And should there be no one handy to take your cash, you can use the self-service station and write down what you bought.  When was the last time you saw something like this?  I have to say though, after a few minutes in the barn full of apples, a very nice person came along and we all had a good chat!  She said that we could walk up into the orchard to take photos too.  Anyway, I talked my sister into buying this JUMBO bag of apples.  I talked her right into making apple butter for Christmas presents.  We had to make a quick stop at a store to buy canning jars.  You can buy canning jars or anything else that Amazon sells using my links over to the right or at the end of this post!
We made the apple butter in a crock pot.  So yummy!  You can Google crock pot butter and I am sure a number of recipes will come up.  The only thing - my sister did not have an apple peeler!  
I know, I know - my sisters are always laughing at all my kitchen gadgets, but they get the job done so much faster!  Anyway - we got all those apples peeled and made apple butter but my sister's family ended up loving it so much that I don't think that there was any left out of this batch for Christmas gifting!  We love apple butter.  Mmmm Mmmm good!  And so easy to make in the crock pot too!
So, on this dark winter's evening, here I am - remembering what a fun day we had in November with our apple butter project!

Thursday, January 03, 2013


I am not big on making New Year's Resolutions.  There are things that I do strive for, but life is life and sometimes I don't get all those
"things" completely done.  About large projects, I tell my son, "just do a little bit at a time if it all seems like too much.  Certainly a little bit is better than no bit".  And so that is how we try to tackle cleaning, organizing, learning new things...  notice the word try.  But at least we are trying!  

No, I am not the greatest at what I tackle, but I try.  My son and I laugh at some of my attempts, it is best to take these things with humor than being upset.  And he is learning from me - if it is not perfect, it is ok.  For example, Martha Stewart... now he knows that Martha Stewart has a huge staff and they take many photos to get the "perfect" picture.  We don't strive for that when we look at a project to do together - we look at fun.  Just the other day we were looking at snowman cookies for decorating ideas and he kept telling me - "Mom, you better look for an easier design than that!  You aren't so good at decorating cookies!".  He knows.  But we are still planning on having a "Snowman Party" in a few weeks.  We are decorating, playing games like "pin the nose on Frosty", having pizza, etc.  It won't look like a magazine spread, but it will be fun!  And in the chaos, I will try to remain calm.
I might not be able to control life, but I can try to remain calm.  I think that will be my "word" for the year... calm.  I would like to try to remain calm.  To try not to blow things out of proportion.  It has been a challenging year; we have had our struggles, but we have also had our good times and laughs.  I am going to try hard not to worry so much about things that I can't control.  

 There are also actions that I can incorporate into my everyday life.  And feelings.  Even in my "busyness", I still have time to have a cup of tea with a neighbor.  To make a casserole for a family that has a sick Mom.  To wake up in the morning and appreciate my good health and my DH's and son's good health.  My warm house.  That we have food.  There are so many things that drag my feelings down, but this year I am going to really try to focus on the good things.  I think if I do this, it will help me remain calm.  So, whether in storm, fog or clear weather, I am going to focus on being calm.  No matter the weather...  There is stability in that.  Tethered.  Calm.  Because sooner or later the storm is over and the sun comes back out.