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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Books That Inspire

I have always loved to read. As a child, it was a means of escape, and a place to dream. My taste in what I read has changed. Maybe the correct term would be matured. I especially love books that teach me something, or enlighten me.

Today I am sharing 2 books that I especially enjoyed. The first, Lincoln the Unknown by Dale Carnegie is one that I have read a number  of times. The second is the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Both I found to be very inspirational. 

If you decide to give either, or both a try, I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I did. As for Lincoln the Unknown, I read it about every 2 to 3 years, and enjoy it each and every time. I have such a profound respect for President Lincoln. A perfect man, no. But a man who can still inspire us to reach for all that we were destined to be.




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Monday, December 10, 2018

A New Gown for a Gala/A New Pattern From Pattern Union

The highlight of the holiday season, for me, is the American Opera Society of Chicago's Holiday Gala. It's held at The Fortnightly, and it is simply an enchanting evening. Pictured below is Whitney Morrison, an incredibly lovely, and talented woman. So...you know what that means :), I needed a new dress. Yeah right...I "needed" a new dress ;)   


About a month ago, I shared with you 2 free patterns from Pattern Union, the Maisie Dress, and the Phoebe Jumpsuit. That prompted me to begin following Sarah on Instagram. She posted a request for pattern testers for a new pattern, and I thought, "oh, why not?" She promptly sent me a note with all the particulars, and the time frame worked for me, so I agreed to test the pattern.

The pattern is the Sumekko Dress. I was surprised to see that it only has 1 seam. How great is that?!! It has the option of no darts, 2 darts, or a more fitted version with 4 darts, so you can easily customize the fit.  


Another special aspect of the dress is that it comes with 4 fabulous stencils. I haven't had a chance to try them out yet, but I can't wait to get my hands dirty :) My only difficulty is choosing which one to try first. 

Since I "needed" a new dress for the gala, and I also needed to get my test pattern made up, I decided to combine the 2.


I loved how the dress has a slight racer back.


The pattern is intended for a jersey knit. I used a knit, but a much heavier knit. I wanted something with sparkle, and this piece has lots of sparkle, and I already had it in my "collection." To give it just a bit more pizzazz, I added the beaded motifs to the neckline, and then added the rhinestones as well. I had both, so nothing was purchased. But, I really wished that I had some larger rhinestones to mix in with the smaller. This is something I am planning to add.   


If I had worn flat shoes, the hem length would have been fine, but I wanted to wear heels, so I added the lace to the bottom of the dress. I loved how it just seemed to finish it off.   


The pattern has not been released yet, but Sarah is planning to release it later this week. You can find Pattern Union HERE

The pattern has so many possibilities. You can make it a casual garment, or dress it up for a gala event. Then, there's the opportunity to really make it special with the 4 stencils. You could cut it off and make a tank as well as a knee length dress. So, a pattern that is well worth adding to your collection.

Have a wonderful day!
Hope you have time to do something fun. I'm on my way to see the dentist :/ 
 Rhonda



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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sunday Night Reflections

What If...

World War I began in July of 1914. Many thought the war would be over in a very short period of time, but it raged on and thousands lost their lives. Some asked for a truce on Christmas day in 1914. Those in charge declined. But nonetheless, a miracle happened, guns were laid aside and opposing sides came together, offering gifts of food, cigarettes and cigars. It is believed that even a game of soccer was played. As the day drew to a close, the soldiers returned to their foxholes and once again picked up their guns and the war raged on.


What if they had refused to fight? What if the soldiers who came together had laid down their guns and refused to go on?

What about our present day wars, the wars that we fight in our daily lives? What are our weapons? They are jealousy, prejudices, anger, unforgiveness, spite, hate. What if we were to lay these guns aside? 
What if?



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The Perfect Accompaniment to Soup/Cheese Crackers

If you had known me as a child, you would NEVER have guessed that I would ultimately become a vegetable lovin' gal. After my mother had helped my plate, I would carefully scrape the vegetables to the side so that they would not contaminate the other items that I loved. And yes, I felt that strongly about some of the vegetables that I was forced to eat, especially something called succotash as well as asparagus. 

It would rarely happen, but on occasion, bread and butter would be on the table, mostly when we had guests. I so loved having guests as I could help my own plate, bypass the vegetables that I hated, and load up on bread and butter. And that's exactly why we didn't get bread and butter on a regular basis. 
  
Just before Thanksgiving, I had a dinner party and decided to make up some cheese crackers as an appetizer. When dinner began, a friend of mine was helping her plate, and I noticed her take a very small portion of a dish that I knew she loved. I asked, "are you sure that's all you want?" She sheepishly replied, "I ate too many of the cheese crackers!!!" As everyone left, they all went home with a package of cheese crackers. I wonder if they even made it home ;)

I actually posted this recipe 4 years ago! Wow, where does time go?!! Since things get lost in the pages of a blog, and since my friends were so very pleased with the cheese crackers, and since this is the season of parties and special meals, I thought I would post it again. What I especially love about this recipe is that the crackers are made up ahead of time. They can actually sit in the refrigerator for a week, or more. When you are ready for a few, pull them out of the refrigerator, slice a few, pop them in the oven and you'll have fresh, warm crackers for yourself and or guests.


Aunt Clara's Cheese Crackers

ingredients;
2 sticks of butter at room temperature
8 oz.of sharp cheddar cheese grated
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper(optional)
1 teaspoon of salt


directions;
Mix all ingredients together with hands. Once combined, divide mixture into 2 equal portions. Roll into long logs about 1" in diameter.
Roll into plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
When ready to serve, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut into 1/8" rounds. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Makes 8 dozen.
The dough can also be frozen. 

A dear friend gave me this recipe. It was one that her Aunt Clara would make for special occasions. Although Aunt Clara is no longer with us, I think it is fitting that Aunt Clara continues to receive credit :)

Enjoy!
Rhonda



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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Write It Down, Get It Done

December is turning out to be the month of getting things done. I love it!

Quite a while ago, I began the sweater below. It's from a Rowan magazine, and it's a Martin Storey pattern. It appealed to me because I love anything with a cable, I loved the oversized aspect of the sweater, and too, I had yarn that would work. 


In progress. 


I finally finished the knitting!!! For those of you who knit, you know that the knitting is one thing, the putting it all together is another :/


The sweater is basically together, all I have to do is a bit of steaming, and then sew the cable to the hem. I have a pair of wool tights that I made using my own pattern, and a fabulous pair of over the knee boots. The boots look more gray in the picture. They are gray, but with a green undertone. I plan to get the piece finished up today, so pictures of me in the sweater will follow soon. 

The yarn I used as you can see in one of the above pictures is from Lorna's Laces. The warehouse is opened maybe 2 or 3 times a year, and small batches of mill end yarns are sold. I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase an entire bag of this yarn, so I had plenty for the sweater. While the ply and stitch count is the same as the Rowan yarn, this yarn is a little less drapey, so my collar doesn't come down as far on my shoulders, which I really like as it turns out, so all's well that ends well :)   
  

Quite a few years ago, I came across THIS pattern for knitted and felted clogs from Fiber Trends. They are so easy to knit, so I ended up knitting a boat load of them as gifts for friends and family. They LOVED them!!! In fact, all have been worn completely out, and all have been asking for more. 


My husband is one that has been asking for a new pair. I finally got a new pair done for his birthday. You should have seen the look on his face when he opened the gift :)

Even if you are a novice knitter, these are quite easy to make.
They are huge once the knitting is completed. 


You will need access to a regular agitating washing machine. The slippers are put in and allowed to agitate in hot water. It takes about 45 minutes. When they come out of the machine, they are fuzzy as you see below, but beautifully shaped. 


 A bit of a hair cut, and the slippers look fabulous. 


Now to get them off my husband's feet so I can sew on the leather soles. The leather soles are a must if you have tile, or hardwood floors. The slippers can be, well, quite slippery! You can find the leather soles HERE

When I finally get a project completed that I have allowed to languish, I always wonder why I didn't get to it sooner. A question I have yet to figure out. 
But, I will say this...
Back in January of this year, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish in 2018. While there are things I have not accomplished, I have been amazed with all that I have. The trick was to make attainable goals. I listed things as small tasks that would end up as big projects being accomplished. 
Last year, I read the book, Write It Down, Make it Happen. It has had a profound affect on me. I highly recommend it to anyone who has dreams and goals that they would like to achieve, and yet has a difficult time making it all happen.

This year, I am adding a little something to my daily routine,


It's a simple daily task of recording what was important about your day. I love it! So often we have accomplishments that just become part of the fog of our past. Once I receive my book, I'll share a little more. Look for it on one of my book review videos :)

Have a wonderful day, and I hope it includes getting something done that will make you feel fabulous!
Rhonda  



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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Sunday Night Reflections





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Sunday's Soup/Cabbage Confetti Soup

A few years back, I read a book about the nutrients and vitamins contained in vegetables and why we should eat them at a certain time of year. I was blown away by cabbage...of all things. Did you know that while the cabbage seems to be similar to lettuce, it's actually related to broccoli, kale, and cauliflower? Who would have thought? Not me! It's packed with vitamin C and K, helps to improve digestion, and also has an anti-inflammatory response in the body, so it helps to protect against infection, such as colds. Cabbage has also been found to lower blood pressure as well as cholesterol. Pretty amazing for this simple vegetable. So, eating cabbage at this time of year is especially great. It may actually help ward off a nasty cold :) 

I decided to call this soup Cabbage Confetti Soup, as it is rather colorful, with celery, carrots, fire roasted tomatoes, green and yellow split peas, and finally cabbage.   


Begin with 1 large yellow onion, and 1 cup of chopped celery. Saute under tender. 


Add 1 cup of green, and 1 cup of yellow split peas. If you would rather, you can choose one or the other. Split peas are pretty much...split peas. I just like the added color :)


Add in 2 large sliced carrots, 1 large can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, 6 cups of chopped cabbage, 12 cups vegetable broth, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of celery seed, 2 teaspoons of dried thyme, and 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary. 


Bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until split peas are tender. Serve and enjoy!

Cabbage Confetti Soup

ingredients;
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion chopped
1 cup celery chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
2 large carrots sliced 
6 cups chopped cabbage
1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup green split peas
1 28 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
12 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt and black pepper to taste

directions;
Begin by heating oil in large soup pot. Add onions and celery and saute until tender. Add garlic and continue to saute for another minute, stirring so as not to burn garlic.
Add split peas, cabbage, carrots, canned tomatoes, vegetable broth, bay leaves, celery seed, rosemary, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until peas are tender, about 30 minutes. 
Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Add in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

The soup may be served as is with a nice piece of warm, crusty bread. You may also serve it over a bed of wild rice, a delicious addition. 

The soup freezes well, so have some now, and save some for later. Another idea is to freeze in small batches for lunches.

I hope you enjoy the soup, and I hope that it will help to ward off those nasty winter time colds :)
Enjoy!
Rhonda



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