Friday, April 27, 2012

Foodie Friday! Candied Orange Peels

My friend's mom grew up in Sweden in the 1950's.  At that time, importing fruit wasn't that common and at Christmas the kids would receive an orange in their stocking as a special treat.  So as not to let any of it go to waste, they would candy the peels so they could eat that part too.  I love chocolate covered orange peels and there is a store in the neighborhood that sells them for $25 per pound.  That seems a bit steep for part of a food that most people would consider garbage.  So in attempt to reduce waste and have delicious snack at a far reduced price I set out to make my own chocolate covered orange peels.  Here's how:  
Clean oranges and cut off ends

Score sections of the peel

Cut narrow strips, about 3/8"

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and blanch peels. Repeat 3 times to reduce bitterness. 

Simmer 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and peels for about 40 min. Stir occasionally.

Place peels on a rack to drip and for the glaze to dry.

It was getting sort of late so I was going to let my peels sit over night and cover them in chocolate the next day.  I sampled one a few before bed and they were delicious.  In fact, they were so good just as they were, that they all ended up getting eaten before getting their chocolate bath.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Throwback Thursday

For over five years I've been a volunteer with Adopt-A-Pet. Now, I'm a webmaster, but in the early days I was able to foster.  I miss the kitties.  They were great victims subjects for my photo shoots.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dyeing Handspun Yarn

With a vacation interrupting my craft time for the Fiber to Fashion challenge, I wasn't able to get my project done in time to enter it.  I was afraid to have my knitting needles confiscated at the airport, which prevented me from taking it with to work on.  So, since then, I've been taking my time, and working on other projects in between.

I pre-treated both of the skeins by soaking them in a vinegar solution. Then I dyed them one at a time in Kelly Green Rit according to the box directions.  The first skein was spun thicker and turned out a darker teal green and the second was thinner and turned a sort of light mint green. After I was done using the dye for the wool, I put some cotton in and it turned a vibrant Green.

I don't have a good place to hang wool to dry at my place, so I just wrapped it from some seats to the china hutch.  When it had dried over night, I spun it into a ball and got to knitting a hat.  My inspiration came from the book boutique Knits, but I'm making it up as I go, rather than following the pattern.  I've never done that before so I'm nervous about the outcome.  I'll post pictures when I've finished it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

One Small Change

I love nature.  I've even been known to literally hug a tree once in a while, though its unlikely I would be considered a hippy.  I’m not one to obsess over carbon footprints and such.  You don’t need all that jargon to know that polluting and wasting is bad and conserving is good.  I firmly believe in being a good steward of resources.  I found this list of changes you can make to be more environmentally friendly.   I already do some of them like recycling, carpooling, and turning the lights off when I leave a room.  I plan on challenging myself to adopt some new practices from the list as well.

The first challenge I’m going to take on is driving less.  My brother just got a bike so instead of carpooling to work we’re going to try cycling to work.  It’s about 10 miles round trip.  We’ll probably start off with at least one day a week and moving up to 2 or three times a week.  I love bike riding, but in Chicago traffic, it’s more than a little intimidating.  I’ll keep you posted on how that commute goes.

Today is Earth Day.  I want to challenge you to change one thing.  What are some other changes that should be added to the list?  Are there changes you’ve already made that are working well for you?  I’d love to hear about it!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Happy Birthday Dad!

My dad rocks!  He's always been like my best friend.  The kind of best friend that likes everything you like and can finish your sentences.  He's always ready to help out. He has ingenuity, wisdom and a sense of humor.  He was "the cool dad" that all my friends liked. Just want to give him props because today is his birthday. I love you Dad!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Two Cent Tuesday!

I am dubbing today "Two Cent Tuesday" to throw in my two cents about products, destinations, foods, services, and whatever else I think you might like to know about.

Seeing as I just went camping over the weekend in Meramec State Park in Missouri, I figured that would be a great place to start.  The campground was nice and had showers and flush toilets.  It was right on the Meramec river, which runs along scenic bluffs. It is also home to Fisher cave which you can explore as well. Unfortunately we were there a week before it opened for the season but you can see pictures and info here.  There is abundant wildlife in the campground.  We saw 10 deer and were visited by a raccoon several times while we sat at the campfire.  We also heard numerous bird species that were new to us, coyotes in the distance, and a couple different kinds of frogs.  We didn't have enough time to explore everything we wanted and if I get the chance to go back I would like to take a canoe down the river.

I also want to tell you about the tent I took and have been using the past couple years now.  Its the Arete 2.  The 2 is for "2 person tent" but unless you like that person a whole lot, i would consider this a 1 person tent + gear. Its meant to be small and lightweight because its a backpacking tent and it works wonderfully for that.  It packs down small and is lightweight.  Its a 4-season tent and I've used it several times in the colder months.  With few windows, its specialty is to keep out the cold drafts and stay dry, which it does exceedingly well. The downfall to that is in the summer it can get stuffy because of the little ventilation.  Overall I love this little tent and the quality is excellent. For complete specs on the new model, you can check it out here at REI.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Growin' shrooms

Last summer, I got a reishi mushroom patch.  They are known to be very beneficial to the body and in Asian countries are even called “supernatural mushrooms”.  It was an interesting little experiment.  The patch came in a plastic bag that you cut the top off and then keep it moist by spraying it with water 3 times a day.  Eventually little white knobs popped up.  After the caps fan out and spore you cut them.  They're a corky consistency so they're not a mushroom you would want to eat as-is.  I sliced, then dried mine.  The steeped “tea” made a delicious addition to my mushroom soup.  I’ve read it can be bitter but I didn’t agree with that.

After all my mushrooms spored and were harvested I took it to my parents’ garage to sit until I could find a tree to inoculate with it.  This past weekend when I went to find some potting soil in the garage, to my delight, I saw my patch there and some baby reishis were popping up!  So now its back in my house being sprayed daily in hopes of another good harvest.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Antler necklace holder

When I keep my jewelry out of site in my jewelry box, I tend not to wear it.  So I needed to make some sort of display/holder.
A while back I found this antler trophy at an estate sale and originally I thought I would just paint them fun colors and hang it as a decoration, but I figured it would function well for my Jewelry display needs.

It was pretty dingy so I cleaned it up after I disassembled it and removed the ropes.  I put a layer of gesso on the plaque and the "mound" and let it dry overnight.  Then I painted those parts periwinkle with acrylic and let it dry.  After that, I put on a second layer of paint and let it dry, and then a third layer to make sure it was well coated, and let it dry.  For the front of the plaque I decoupaged a piece of scrapbook paper on it and let it dry.  To help protect it a little more, a layer of polyurethane spay was put over the paper and I had to let it dry before reassembling.  There was some sparky purple cord in my stash so I put that where the ropes were.  And to finish it off I put dollops of hot glue along the antlers to keep the necklaces hanging separately, and let it dry.  That was a LOT of waiting for things to dry, but eventually it was all finished and I was able to hang it and put my necklaces on it and I'm quite chuffed with it.  I think it still may need a bow on the top but I need to find the right color ribbon.  I can stick some rings on the top points as well.