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Saturday, February 06, 2016

Mr. Potter, here is a penguin for you...

I have been crafting lately, but they have been rather time consuming projects... and I have been update lazy too.  Anyways, this is a little project I made for an OTT bird swap.  I started out with a little crocheted pattern I found on Ravelry.

The black body was crocheted in the round and shaped to make the head.  Then it was stuffed with poly fill and the colour changed and the beak crocheted on to close the piece.

The original pattern called for a little oval piece of felt sewn onto the belly.  I decided to do better and took some unbleached roving wool and needle felted it to the belly of the piece.  I tried to do a nice firm felting and shaping and quite like how it turned out.  It adds some nice shaping and texture to the piece.

The original also just had the basic body shaping.  I really felt it needed the flippers and the little tail, so I cut those from craft felt and sewed the flippers on.  The tail hung too flat, so I made a slit at the base of it and folded it so it had a bit of a jaunty little lift.  Both were sewn on with beading thread - it was what I had in reach.

I took a little bit of that wool roving and added them to either side of the head to make the whites of the eyes.  After those were felted on firmly, and I was happy with the shaping, I took two size 8 matte black Toho beads and sewed them on for my penguin's eyes.

Finally, I took a little wood heart cut out and painted it orange.  One side was super rough, so I actually glued a piece of orange washi paper on it, and varnished the entire piece.  After it dried, I hot glued the piece to the bottom of the penguin.  Unfortunately, my hand slipped when I did that, and there is a bit of mess along one edge, which I tried to fix, but by then, it was too late for me to start again.

Regardless, I am happy how he turned out, overall.  He actually balances quite nicely on the little wood base.  Jim is calling him Pingu and makes those silly Pingu noises when he sees him.  He is not Pingu... he is one of Mr. Potter's penguins.  Anyone else ever read that book?  Loved it... hate that Jim Carrey turned it into a movie!

Friday, February 05, 2016

Pork in Spicy Peanut Sauce...

I was going to make one of our favourite sweet and sour pork recipes tonight.  Except, when I went to go look for a can of pineapple pieces, I found that I had none... and I felt too lazy to go to the store.

Also I started too late in the day to make another spicy pork in peanut sauce recipe we like, with the slow cooker... so I found a couple of other recipes and mashed them together, and it turned out quite nice!  Jim liked it, we served it over white rice and it is a keeper!

Pork in Spicy Peanut Sauce
serves 4-6

2 lbs pork loin, cut into 1" chunks
vegetable oil
1 red pepper, trimmed and cut into large chunks
1 bunch broccoli, trimmed and cut into small florets
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small knob ginger root, minced
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 cup water
3 tbsp soy sauce (gluten free)
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with a small amount of water

Blanch the broccoli, rinse under cold water, and set aside.

In a bowl, combine peanut butter, first measure of water, soy sauce, honey, red pepper and cayenne, and mix until well blended.  Set aside.

Heat the oil in large pan over medium high heat and saute pork until browned all over and cooked through.  Set aside on plate.

In the same pan, saute onion, garlic, and ginger until soft, over medium high heat.  Add red pepper, and broccoli, and saute lightly for a minute or two.  Add pork and accumulated juices back to pan and saute for 1 minute.  Stir peanut butter mixture up and add to pan, cook on high heat to boil for 1 minute.  Stir corn starch mixture well, and add to pan, stir well and boil until thickened.

Serve over hot rice.

Next time - I will add a dash of fish sauce and replace some of the water with coconut milk and see how that goes.  Also, sprinkle some fresh green onion slices on top, and chopped peanuts!

Notes - I used the veggies I had on hand.  This probably would be nice also with snow peas - yum!

Friday, January 29, 2016

YAY - they are done!

My inking blenders are done!  Jim had made the bases and I added the final touches today!

Unfortunately when the pads are on, they are just a bit too tall for the storage drawer I had them in and they were being knocked over, and wouldn't sit nicely.  I was afraid the tops would get chipped up or scratched eventually.

Anyways, I had some small alphabet stamps by Hampton Arts - they are the cheapie sets you can get at Michaels for about $1.50, but are perfect for making small sentiments or words.  So I stamped on each of the long sides of the inkers the name of the ink pad they are meant for.  Jim had painted the pegs a corresponding colour - reds for red inks, black for the black, etc.

I love how they turned out.  I used an archival ink for the names and after that had dried to touch (patience - it is always the key!), I painted several coats of clear polyurathane over the lettering and the exposed wood on the block.  When I say several, I mean several!  It was a nice fast trying clear coat, and Jim already had a few coats on it.  I put about 5 more over the long sides, 4 more on the short cut sides, and 3-4 over the top.  Hopefully that helps with durability!

The store bought pads stick nicely to the bottoms.  I can't wait to use them!!!!  Unfortunately, I have a few projects to finish before that, but hopefully it will be soon!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Just a warning - Canine Distemper...

Jim found this poor little guy this afternoon when coming home from a walk with Troy.  A little raccoon that appeared ill and appears to have lost function in his hind quarters.  He was right in the neighbours driveway.  Unfortunately, it appears to have Canine Distemper - which from what we have heard is absolutely present in the Hamilton region and moving across the GTA.  We called Animal Services to come and take care of this little guy.  It is fatal, and can be spread from the saliva to dogs.  Luckily Jim saw it and was able to leash Troy and keep him away from it.  We do vaccinate our dogs, but still, we would not want Troy to be exposed even with vaccinations, or to be harmed by the animal protecting itself, or to also distress an ill animal either.

But I am posting this as a warning to other pet owners out there - if you see a raccoon out, and it appears to not be behaving normally, and appears ill, please keep you dogs away from it and call Animal Services asap.  Humans should be safe, but be cautious as the animal may be unwell, but can still be aggressive if feeling cornered or threatened.  Please, also, take care of your beloved pet by keeping them healthy.  One of those options is vaccination.  If you choose not to vaccinate because of whatever your beliefs are, then be even more cautious and keep your animals healthy by monitoring them and keeping them safe when outside.  I am not hear to argue about vaccinations, for humans or dogs, so those who disagree with them can kindly keep those opinions to themselves, this is just a friendly warning to fellow dog lovers living in the GTA that there is this real risk to their beloved pets, and today, it was within feet of my own front door.

More on Canine Distemper....

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cheeseburger soup

I made this the other day, and it turned out pretty tasty.  Warm and satisfying on a cold winter's day, with a side of salad.  Jim liked it also, so it will go into the rotation for wintry meals!  Also helps that it stretches some ground beef, adds some veggies, and lasted a couple of meals and lunches for me.

<sigh> food is just getting so expensive... and I am not willing to cut my crafting costs - too much anyways!  Even dollar stores aren't a dollar anymore!

Cheeseburger Soup

Makes 6-8 servings.

1 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 8 oz package of cremini mushrooms, washed and diced
4 stalks celery, diced
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried parsley
2 leaves
4 cups chicken or beef stock
1/4 cup rice flour.
2 cups milk
1/4 cup grated parmasan
2 cups grated sharp cheddar, plus extra for serving
green onions, sliced

Sautee onions, mushrooms, and garlic in Dutch oven over medium high heat until softened.  Add beef and brown, pour off any excess oil.  Add carrots, potatoes, and celery, sautee.  Add herbs and spices.  Add broth, bring to boil, cover and simmer until vegetables tender, crisp.

Whisk small amount hot broth with flour in bowl, add back to soup and bring to boil, stirring well, until starting to thicken, drop heat down to medium, add milk, and cheeses, stirring well, until molten.  Serve hot with some extra grated cheese, and green onions sprinkled on.  Add a dollop of sour cream too if desired, for some tang and creaminess.

Optional - I wonder how it would taste with lots of roasted garlic.  Or with some crushed tomatoes thrown in.  Or with some diced cooked bacon - bacon cheeseburger soup!