Monday, December 26, 2011

Eight Month Update - 12.25.2011


I'm sad to say that I'm currently removing the entire post for these updates. Someone locally is particularly interested in these updates. If this someone is you, please email me and let me know. I have a feeling it is probably someone I know personally but I'd rather not worry.

Eight Month Update on Chickpea Banana Blog

I'm happy to share. If you want access to the private blog, I need your email address.


Hoping you had a very Merry Christmas!!!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Homemade Quilted Christmas Stockings



Scott and I were Christmas shopping a few weeks ago when he casually asked me, “Are you going to make Christmas stockings this year?” My response: “Eventually I want to make quilted stockings, but not this year. Too stressy.”  Be assured that stressy is a word and it is a very real emotion.

On the way home Scott asked, “Can we go to Hobby Lobby?” Me: “Sure, what for?” Scott: “To get stuff so I can make stockings.”

The wheels began to turn in my head. What would this look like? And how much would he do before I had to step in a finish the rest.

Me: “Ok fine. I’ll make stockings.”

Really. The things I get myself into.

All in all, the three Christmas stockings took a little less than a week and a half to make (mostly in the evenings and a lot of the time I just sat there staring at the fabric/stockings trying to figure out what the hell to do). Considering I didn’t work from a pattern and haven’t made stockings before, I’m thrilled with how they turned out. There are imperfections, of course, but I’m probably the only one who would notice (except for the uneven name stitching). And the great news is that next time I make stockings I’ll probably have to do less blank-eyed staring and be able to work more efficiently.

I failed at photographing the progress, but here’s a hodgepodge of shots (you should be able to click on all to enlarge).



Yes! Of course I put that boy to work!

The stocking backs. Scott chose Grinch for himself.

Handstitched using embroidery floss.

I quilted these using a zigzag stitch and LOVE the way they turned out.


There are six layers to the stockings--each side has quilted front/fleece back, batting in the middle, and then cotton material in the center. I sewed the front, middle inside together and then the inside, middle and back. Then sewed the front and back together inside out and turned right side.

For the actual fronts of the stockings, I cut a piece of fabric, sewed it to another piece, ironed, trimmed, and started over until the shape was large enough for me to trim to the "pattern." Other than a few pieces that I wanted to fussy cut (the girls on mine and Elle's stockings and the Grinch on Scott's), everything is random.

If I were to do anything over, it would be the cuff. I don't love the way that they turned out, but the good news is this will be easy to replace if I chose to over the years.




My mom made stockings for us when we were little. Aren't hers adorable? I can't believe how well they've held up over the years! Especially considering mine is 30 years old.

This will be my last post for the week and I'll be back on Monday with Elle's 8 month update.

I hope everyone has a truly blessed and beautiful Christmas.

Much love,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Annual Bake Day

Ok...almost wordless.



English Toffee


Hello Dollies (aka Devil Bars)


Fantasy Fudge

Caramels

Cake Balls with Heath



We missed having the extra guests that came last year to help, but Bake Day was still a blast and quite productive. Eight treats in all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Best of Reading for 2011

Best of Reading for 2011
I offered a tongue in cheek version of this survey on Sunday. Below are my more "adult" answers.

Jamie, the Perpetual Page Turner, provided us with a whole slew of questions about our 2011 bookish endeavors. I'm only answering the book questions below--not sure if I'll use her blogging questions for a separate post or not. Definitely have a lot of blogging thoughts to reflect on, but...  :)

1. Best Book You Read In 2011?

I’m sad to say that 2011 was not a year of bests—I was much too distracted to focus on reading and when I do have some time here and there to pick up a book, I usually fall asleep within five minutes. Ha!

That said, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss is one that has stuck with me. It was a tough read, but it was beautiful, snuck up on me, and hit me hard.


Looking for Alaska by John Green is a close second. I also really loved The Help by Kathryn Stockett—both the paper and audio versions.

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. After all the raving, I wanted to love this one but just didn’t.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (audio). I had seen this one around a lot but didn’t have much interest in the story. I listened to it while my brother was reading for school and was immediately absorbed.


4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I think I’m running out of fingers to count the amount of people I’ve convinced to read this book. Some have loved, some didn’t. That’s OK. Second would be The Help. Though I was recommending this one before I even read it!


5. Best series you discovered in 2011?

Bah.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?

Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild on audio and Into Thin Air), Bill Bryson (At Home on audio), and W. Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil).

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (audio) was definitely not something I’d normally pick up, but it kept my interest and was a lot of fun to listen to.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?

Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson(audio). I have a friend who read the book and had qualms with the writing, but the audio was certainly unputdownable!

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?

Bah.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?

Yes, it's a children's book but It’s Time to Sleep, My Love by Nancy Tillman. GORGEOUS illustrations. I could read this book a million times just for the drawings.


11. Most memorable character in 2011?

Minnie Jackson from The Help. Especially as narrated by Octavia Spencer on the audio version.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?

The Painted Veil, The History of Love, The Namesake, Looking for Alaska. All beautifully written in very different ways.


13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011?

Not done with it yet, but What Mothers Do by Naomi Stadlen is one I'm currently reading and wish I could underline every sentence.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read?

The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Guess I’m good at waiting until some of the hype dies down.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011?

"I lit a cigarette and spit into the creek. 'You can't just make me different and then leave,' I said out loud to her. 'Beause I was fine before, Alaska. I was fine with just me and last words and school friends, and you can't just make me different and then leave.' For she had embodied the Great Perhaps--she had proved to me that it was worth it to leave behind my minor life for grander maybes, and now she was gone and with her my faith in perhaps" (Looking for Alaska 172).


And the final tally of books read and listened to in 2011. There is a small chance that I'll finish one of the two books that I'm halfway through, but...

Books Read in 2011 (links to my thoughts)

1. True Grit - Charles Portis
2. The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness
3. Looking for Alaska - John Green
4. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
5. Notes from the Underbelly - Risa Green
6. Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List - David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
7. The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance - Elna Baker
8. The Painted Veil - W. Somerset Maugham
9. The History of Love - Nicole Krauss
10. The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag - Alan Bradley
11. The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri
12. Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer
13. Maman’s Homesick Pie - Donia Bijan

Books Listened to in 2011 (links to my thoughts)

1. Good to Great - Jim Collins
2. Friday Night Knitting Club - Kate Jacobs
3. Alice I Have Been - Melanie Benjamin
4. And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie
5. Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson
6. Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot
7. Bedwetter - Sarah Silverman
8. Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer
9. At Home - Bill Bryson
10. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
11. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
12. Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief - Rick Riordan
13. Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters - Rick Riordan
14. Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand
15. Before I go to Sleep - S. J. Watson
16. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

This year is the first year that I've counted audiobooks--I don't think that I've ever listened to more than just a couple each year. I've really come to enjoy the medium and missed my listening time when I was on maternity leave. I still have a tough time with some audiobooks, but I have an easier time abandoning books if I'm not enjoying them. I look forward to continuing to discover the world of audiobooks in 2012.

Overall 2011 wasn't a truly terrible year for reading. I wish that some of the books I'd read had been more Spectacular, but for the most part I enjoyed what I picked to read.  I don't think that 2012 will be an improvement on this year, but I do want to continue to pick my books with purpose.

How was your 2011 reading year? Any favorites? Anything you're dying to read in 2012?



Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Salon 54: End of the Year Survey

End of the Year Survey (Take 1)

Jamie, the Perpetual Page Turner, provided us with a whole slew of questions about our 2011 bookish endeavors.

1. Best Book You Read In 2011?

So many great books to choose from but I’m going to go with You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano Love. Such a sweet book which shows the bond between parent and child.

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?

Are You My Mother? By P.D. Eastman. I’m sorry but it just does nothing for me. Maybe when Elle is a bit bigger.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?

It’s Time to Sleep, My Love by Nancy Tillman and Eric Metaxas. Such a beautiful and tender book.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?

I haven’t done much recommending this year, but I would highly recommend You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano Love to any parent and anyone gifting to small children/new parents.

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?

Can Dr. Seuss count for series? That man ROCKS!

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?

Sandra Boynton. Some of her books are too short for my taste (I always want more!) but I love her.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

One day I will master reading Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss at rapid pace!

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?

Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton. Holy cow is that book fun!

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. I look forward to when Elle and I can find the little mouse on each page.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?

It’s Time to Sleep, My Love by Nancy Tillman. GORGEOUS illustrations.


11. Most memorable character in 2011?

Pat the Bunny. Need I say more?!

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?

Toss up between You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano Love and It’s Time to Sleep, My Love by Nancy Tillman.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011?

Ok, so not a baby book, but I’m slowly making my way through What Mothers Do Especially When it Looks Like Nothing by Naomi Stadlen. Would love to write about my thoughts on this one in segments but not sure that’ll ever happen.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read?

Goodnight Moon. Can you believe I had NEVER read that one before baby?!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011?

I am your lullaby; you are my peekaboo. I am your goodnight kiss; you are my I love you. From You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano Love

16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012?

Hrmmmmm…all of the above. ;)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

So, not a book, but Samuel L. Jackson’s reading Go the F*ck to Sleep. If you haven’t seen the video—watch. But be warned—very explicit language. Ha!

Ok, so this post is a bit tongue in cheek, but I love reading to Elle and look forward to the day when she's actually interested in being read to instead of eating the books. :)

You guys have me a lot of great suggestions for Children's books a few weeks ago--if you have any additions, I'd love to hear them!

On the Blog:

Looking Back to the Past Two Weeks
**I shared my Favorite Christmas Albums
**A Long Overdue Ramble
**I finished my Recipe Scrapbook!!
**I'm hosting a Holiday Recipe Exchange. Please Join!!!
**Wordless Wednesday: Holiday Cheer
**Fun with Charts...or...Facepalm. Ha!
**I shared a recipe for Hildabrotchen/Shortbread cookies.

On Chickpea Banana (Elle's picture blog) - Babe in a Box

Looking Forward to Next Week
Hopefully pictures of my completed Christmas stockings, a "real" End of the Year Survey, and maybe Bake Day pictures. No posts this coming weekend for Christmas, but the 26th I'll post Elle's EIGHT month update. Holy Cow!!!

What's on your agenda today? Off to do some quick shopping...


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hildabrötchen/Shortbread Cookies


A few years ago for my birthday I received one of the best presents—two cooking classes at the local grocery/market with my mom. The first class was for Thanksgiving Pies and the second was German Holiday Cookies. Both were fantastic but I loved the second class because of my own Swiss heritage and many of the recipes reminded me of my grandmother’s Christmas cookies.

All of the participants were divided into pairs and worked on baking one recipe (believe there were 12 recipes in total). At the end we all got to take home a few of each. The cookie my mom and I made was Hildabrötchen – or Shortbread with Jam. We both loved the simplicity of the cookie and have made it during our Annual Bake Day since taking the class.

Hildabrötchen
Shortbread Cookies with Jam
[Amended from recipe received in class]

Ingredients:
2 cups flour (10.5 oz)
½ cup sugar (4 oz)
Smidge of Vanilla (½ tsp? or leave out)
½ cup + 2 Tbsp Butter (5 oz or 1.25 sticks)
1 egg
Jam (your choice of flavor—we use Raspberry!)
**note: all ingredients were provided in ounces so the conversion is from my own experimenting

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients with mixer or food processor. If dough is dry and crumbly, knead with hands until mixed completely.

2. Refrigerate until cool/firm—but be careful because it will become as hard as a rock when left too long! (will soften when worked over)

3. Roll out dough to about ¼ inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters. If you want your jam to peek through, use a smaller cookie cutter to cut the middle of the cookies. I use the circle opening of a frosting tip for my middle hole!

4. Place on a buttered/sprayed baking sheet. The cookies won’t expand much in the oven

5. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Watch these puppies as they brown quickly!


Assembly:
1. Heat jam in saucepan until thinned and easily spreadable

2. Spoon jam onto bottom cookie (without the hole) and sandwich with the top cookie (with the hole)

3. Dust cookies lightly with powdered sugar (also pretty with raw sugar granules)





Yields two dozenish small cookies (remember you’re halving the amount when combine top and bottom!)

Perfect for those who don’t have an extreme sweet tooth—subtle but yummy! If you make these, let me know how they turn out.



I'm hosting a Holiday Recipe Exchange and am linking this recipe there. Please join in with any holiday recipe you would like to share!
Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  "Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs."  Hope you'll join the fun!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fun with Charts...or...Facepalm

As I get ready for the end of the year, I realized I should probably figure out how many books I've read this year. I kept a casual written list, at least in the beginning of the year, but never stopped to count.

Thirteen.

Not including audio (still trying to figure out that number as I stopped keeping track when I returned to work in July).

But still.

Thirteen.

I've only blogged about nine of those books, so I'm not really sure what you're all here for but obviously it isn't the books. Ha! If I were a book blogger I'd be the worst book blogger ever!!

I decided to do a little visual chart of my reading over the past eleven years and YIKES!! 2001-2003 I was in college, 2004-2006 I was in grad school and in 2007 I started book blogging.

And yes yes yes, I had a baby this year, but that's really only part of the story. But I did have a bit of a chuckle over this.  Does this make you feel better about YOUR reading for the year?!

How has your reading changed over the years?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Recipe Exchange!!


No, this isn't becoming a foodie blog, I promise. But the holidays are just around the corner and this week I'll be planning Bake Day with my mom and sister. Every year (for the past four years) we get together one Saturday in December and bake our butts off. Seriously--we mean business.

Seems that every year we make the same goodies (picture above are shortbread cookies with raspberry jam filling) and we're always on the lookout for new holiday recipes. I haven't seen a Holiday Recipe Exchange yet, so I thought I'd offer one up. I hope you'll join me!

Holiday Recipe Exchange
December 11, 2011 - January 7, 2012

To Play Along: Post a holiday recipe and link the url in the Mister Linky below anytime between now and January 7th. Can be a sweet or savory dish, dessert, appetizer, main course. Anything goes, but please keep the holiday theme in mind. If you don't have a blog/tumblr but would still like to play along, a Facebook post would work or you can email me about guest posting here.

Please list the name of the dish in the name field of Mister Linky per below:

Name: Trish (Buckeye Delights)
URL: http://www.lovelaughterinsanity.com/2011/02/betty-crockers-buckeye-delights.html



Holiday Recipe Exchange Prize: Now, to encourage you to hop around and TRY someone else's recipe, I'm going to offer up a giveaway. In order to be eligible for the giveaway, you must post your own recipe AND try another's recipe by January 15th. You don't need to post about trying the other's recipe, but you need to let me know in the comments and let the other person know you tried his/her dish.

The prize? Your choice of cookbook up to $20 value. International. I'll draw from the eligible folks randomly, but you will have one entry for each recipe you try.

I hope you'll all play along!!

Happy Cooking/Baking/Kneading/Decorating/Eating!!

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