Leather-Wrapped Jar

July 28, 2010 at 1:58 pm (Leatherworking) (, , , , , , , , , )


I’d finished tooling my original design but it felt off to me… something was missing, so I held off on finishing.

Finally, I figured out what I wanted to do – more of the flowers, to help with the fantasy/spring theme that I had going.  So I modified the design of the flowers I have, and added 3 more branches.

Finished one branch of three, tooling-wise. 🙂 The rest of the detail will be done with color. I’m tooling these three branches lighter, as if they are in the background. 🙂

Whatcha think?!

~*~
Original Info posted from my DeviantArt:
So, for my leather guild, I am supposed to make a leather-wrapped jar. I am VERY behind in this! (sorry, Charlie!)

I was suffering from a total mental block for what to do.

However, I went to Wondercon last weekend and I met Peter S. Beagle… the man behind “The Last Unicorn”. (I hope he wins his case with Granada!!!)

I also got the first comic for The Last Unicorn from him, as well as a copy of the movie (can you believe it? my sister has never seen it! O_o.)

So.

I wanted to do kind of do a jar with it.
I wanted to show the human side, and the unicorn side, in a perpetual sping (hence the lovely cherry blossoms). I did not match the hair styles – I wanted one to be softer, almost elusive, while the other is definitely stylized, harder, and concrete. Bwaha.

So I have a few elements here!

Unicorn is from the first comic of the The Last Unicorn.
The girl is Usagi, from the second SailorMoon art book http://mangastyle.net/book2/2-08.jpg I modified it a bit, but her look totally fits. I couldn’t resist!!!

The flowers are from http://winetta.deviantart.com/art/Silver-Legacy-ch-3-152851793  , who graciously gave me permission.
I am inverting the flowers, and carving the girl and the unicorn normally. I think that this will be fairly challenging for me, to be honest. There are alot of details that I can see in my head and cannot wait to do, but I am very worried that I will mess up!!

So, wish me luck! Details of the carvings to follow. ^,~.

PS: this jar is not for sale, I am not making any money off of it. To my recollection, these jars will be table decoration at the IFOLG show in Saint Louis this fall, and will be given away. :)

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Frito Chili Casserole

July 27, 2010 at 9:28 pm (cooking) (, , , , , )


Hello again, everyone, and welcome to my dinner! lol

Tonight’s dish is a family classic that my grandma used to make… a dish we all love. It’s quick, easy, and oh-so-delicious!

Ingredients:

1lb ground beef
1/4 large onion, diced
1 can of corn, strained (or same amount of frozen.)
2 cans of your favorite chili (used Dennyson’s here.)
1 medium bag of Fritos, crushed
some salt and pepper.
butter

Preheat your oven to 350 while dicing up your onion, and cook it with the ground beef until the beef is fully browned. To brown my meat, I used 2 large pinches of kosher salt and 7 grinds of black pepper, along with just a tiny smidge of olive oil to help the onions along (I tossed them in, then the beef. I had to open the package lol).

Removing the pan from heat, add the contents of the pan into a casserole dish, along with the chili, corn, and 3/4 of the fritos. Combine the ingredients, and smooth down the top.

Add butter, about 1-2 tablespoons, over the top. You can either slice it very thin and lay it across the top – don’t have to cover the whole thing – or just cube it up and sprinkle it over.

On top of the butter, add the remaining fritos, and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, serve, and enjoy!! Yummy and delicious!!!

Photos:

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Yum Yum, Made A Cake!

July 27, 2010 at 4:14 pm (cooking) (, , , , )


We got a new mixer! It’s a stunning 5qt Empire Red KitchenAid stand mixer. Mom asked me to break it in with a devil’s food cake with chocolate frosting.

So I did!

Yay for crappy cell phone pics with crappy cell phone borders lol.

New mixer? Doesn’t work well.. it works GREAT! Awesome. Fabulous. I LOOOOOVE IT!!!!!

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Spaghetti Sauce – again! :)

July 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm (cooking) (, , , )


There’s nothing quite like a plate of spaghetti… and let’s face it, spaghetti’s pretty darn tasty. Not to mention the uses for leftover sauce! (Spaghetti, baked ziti, french bread pizza…)

Long story short, last night I made spaghetti, which, in my book, means homemade sauce.

Spaghetti Sauce Ingredients:

1lb ground beef
1/4 onion, diced (or a half a shallot)
2 baby carrots, minced
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
cranberry-pomegranate juice
2 large mushrooms, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
garlic & herb mrs. dash
garlic powder
sage
oregano
1 can tomato sauce
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 small can tomato paste (roll the other half in saran wrap and keep it in the freezer!)


First up, do all of your mincing and dicing.

Put a little olive oil in your saucepan (I’m using a large nonstick pan with high sides), and let it warm a bit. Add in the mushrooms, onion, carrots, and garlic, along with a some salt and pepper. I added 14 grinds of pepper, since it’s early in the cooking and I intended it to be a large batch. :)

When they’ve started to turn colors, add in the beef. As the beef starts to brown, add in some cranberry-pomegranate juice. Not alot, I used maybe one fourth of a cup. Also add in some oregano and sage. Just until you can smell it. I don’t usually measure spices lol.

Once the beef has browed, add in the tomatoes and tomato sauce, then stir to combine. Add in some garlic & herb mrs. dash, garlic powder, and maybe some more oregano (to taste!).

After it’s combined, add in the half of a small can of tomato paste. This will definitely help thicken the sauce!!

Simmer merrily until done, stirring occasionally and, of course, taking opportunity to taste by dipping crusts of that “oops, extra slice…” from the loaf of french bread you’re using for garlic bread.

Picture above is the extra sauce to be put in the fridge – sorry I didn’t get one over pasta, we were hungry!! :)

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Grocery Store Pet Peeve(s)

July 26, 2010 at 2:29 am (Personal)


Now, I don’t mind grocery shopping. Sometimes I even enjoy it!

I love preparing a meal, and I love seeing people enjoy it when it’s done. I like knowing I’ve done something well.

But still, certain things bother me.

Alot.

Two things that should never be packaged with each other, or with other items – cleaning products,…and raw meat. And I should never HAVE to ask. It should be trained “don’t do that!!”.

I can stand that lovely loaf of bread I got from the bakery being crushed under a can – joke’s on you, it’ s a french bread. Has a firm crust, ya wingnut. It’ll be fine – because I’m going to fix that as soon as I open the trunk to put the bags in.

So keep the dish soap and bleach away from the bananas and pasta and cheese, please. It bothers me.

But, honestly, not as much as raw meat near those items.

Cleaning supplies, okay, I can wash off the bananas, and hope the packaging of the cheese will protect it – usually not, in my head, but.. okay.

But think on this – that raw meat, that glistening chicken breast, that marbled ground beef, that luscious steak, that sweet-looking pork roast… they are all handled in the back room. Where the nice people wear gloves and handle your dead animal.

So then they package that raw meat – still wearing their meaty gloves. Touching the plastic wrap. The tray. All with the same gloves.

So do you think that that package is sanitary? Do, you, really? No, no it’s not. So then it sits on the shelf. With other meat products. That have, again, been wrapped by those same meaty fingers. And have been sitting there maybe longer.

So I pick up my meat last. It goes on the bottom of the cart – and I do mean the bottom. If I’m  thinking, when I grab my produce, I get some extra plastic bags, then, inside out, I grab the meat with the inside of the bag, then pull it right-sided to be even cleaner.

And yet… when I go through the checkout, I have to ASK them to please bag the meat seperately.

Seriously? And then they look at me like I am stupid.

*sighs*

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Fixing + Good News! :-D

July 26, 2010 at 2:21 am (Personal)


Okay. I went through and fixed stuff… all of those “uncategorized” posts are now either cooking… or personal.

In some cases, both lol.

In good news, my mom’s mixer died.

Well, not good that it’s dead…but man that thing was getting up there. I remember when mom wanted one… so Allie saved up her money (just a widdle tid back then!!), got herself a coupon…and gave Mom a Sunbeam mixer.

But it died….rest in peace.

The GOOD part is that…. WE GOT TO REPLACE IT!!!!!! *bounces with glee*

http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=102986&COL=1717&RN=437&

It’s a gorgeous, Empire Red 5 quart KitchenAid stand mixer. It’s gorgeous. The head tilts back and forth, you can adjust how far down the mixer bit goes, and comes with the dough hook, the beater, and the whisk….

I’ve been lusting after a KitchenAid mixer for a while now. I am THRILLED!!!!

I cannot wait to break it in tomorrow with a Devil’s Food Cake with chocolate frosting.

SO BLOODY HAPPY!!!!!! 😀

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Swimming! :)

July 16, 2010 at 3:38 pm (Personal)


So, today, I sucked it up and said “…. I am going to the pool!”

Swallowed the shyness, pushed away the nerves, and grabbed my swim suit ..

well… it’s really 2 pieces… a boy-short-ish bottom and a long top. So maybe it’s a tankini? The pieces aren’t a set, but they are both black.. the top has a plunge neckline with the straps held on by one gold ring per side.. so I got the bottoms that had gold and copper-toned (so sunblock pun intended) rivets on it.

So, in good news… I learned a few things… one, sunglasses would be good. I forgot them. Derp. Two, tie my hair back, like in a braid :), Maybe I should invest in a pair of cheap sunglasses I can swim with them on? Eh nah that’d be silly.

And third… Apparently, the thing to do is bring a book to the pool. Sorry, what? This totally goes against my “ways to do things”. Ah well. I may sacrifice one of my beaten-to-hell books that I used to keep on the bathroom window ledge…sorry, off topic.

I learned, walking up to the pool, that I don’t do well with flip flops. After my trip, I may just use my strappy sandals. They stay on my feet and don’t slip around as much… even tho I DO like my sparkly gold flip flips that match my gold accents and my goldenrod-colored pool towel. (That this is uber absorbent. Lovin’ it!)

As I came in sight of the pool, I saw they had a spa. How lovely, a hot tub! ❤

I picked myself out a nice sunny lounge chair, pushed away my dignity, shucked off my jeans, sandals, sweater, and glasses, and headed for the pool stairs.

The water was nice. Not warm, not cold, not freezing… but pleasant and cool. Not bad, since it was 61 degrees and windy!

I felt perfectly comfortable, sliding all the way into the water. It felt sooooo good.

As I started to swim, all I could think was “I earned this”. And I did.

It was wonderful! ^__^. I swam for half an hour, sat in the spa for 20 minutes, then spent the last 10 minutes drying in the sun.

Can’t wait for next week 😛

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Emergency Sauce

July 11, 2010 at 9:54 pm (cooking) ()


This is by no means healthy, not really. Just letting you know. Sometimes, decadence is good. 😉

Alrighty. Tonight was a problem night for spaghetti!

The meat was bad. I’d moved it from the freezer to the fridge, intent for use on Friday night. Tonight,  is Sunday.

I thought it would be alright, but, as I opened the package, the scent that prevailed upon my nostrils, was, shall we say,  unpleasant. Said meat got ziploc’d and tossed in the trash.

Which is where the other problems come in. All other proteins, frozen. No problem, I thought. We’ll make spaghetti with marina sauce.

I opened the cupboard…and no tomato sauce. Crud. Tomato paste? It’s frozen.

Best of all, I had already started the water for pasta, and the mushrooms, carrots, garlic, and olive oil –  they were primed and ready for meat in my large skillet-thing that I use for spaghetti sauces.

So now…. I had to get creative.

In the fridge, the first thing I did was grab the butter. Maybe a creamy sauce? I knew I had parmesan cheese.

Lo! Next to the butter was that pint of heavy whipping cream…was it still good? My heart leapt – it was! 3 days left!

Now then, real instructions now that panic was over. Kind of. Panic mode kind of means I don’t REALLY pay attention.

~*~*~*~

Ingredients:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 large mushrooms, chopped (feel free to use more!)
2 baby carrots, minced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
Kosher Salt (to taste)

Fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
3/4 stick of butter
1 heavy shake of Garlic & Herb Mrs. Dash
3-4 shakes then to taste of both Garlic Salt and Garlic Powder
7 shakes of Minced Onion
1/4 cup of peas (feel free to use more!)

1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste

First, chop up your mushrooms – feel free to use more mushrooms. I would rather have had more mushrooms, personally. Mince the garlic and carrots as the pan (or pot) heats. When it’s hot, add some olive oil. Just enough to grease it up.

The pan should sizzle as you toss in the veggies. I added  a teaspoon of kosher salt, and 4 cracks of ground pepper.

Add in about 3/4 of a stick of butter. As it melts,  break down some parmesan cheese – I used about an inch length from the middle of a wedge – just cube it up and toss it in.

Carefully, start to add in the cream – keep stirring. Yes, stir some more.  Keep stirring until it’s all in. I used about 1/2 the container at this point.

Keep cooking this sauce as the water boils – I added 7 more grinds of pepper, the Mrs. Dash, garlic powder, and garlic salt at this point, too.

As I was tasting, I wound up adding more cream. It still tasted a little too creamy, so I thought about what I like in a creamy pasta – chicken (frozen rock solid, can’t use it…), mushrooms (all I have is in there already), broccoli (eh, had it with lunch…), and peas. Peas! Peas are in the freezer! I tossed some in about 1/2 a small coffee cup, filled it with water to the top of the peas, and nuked it for 45 seconds. Would have loved some more peas, but this worked fairly well.

Removed the water, then added the peas to the sauce.

As I was stirring, I was thinking about this place in Saint Louis, Roberto’s. At lunchtime, they have “Pasta Alla Romano” – fettucine alfredo with marina sauce. It’s REALLY tasty.

I hunked off about 1-2 tablespoons of the frozen tomato paste, chopped it to help it melt…and tossed it into the sauce.  I stirred until it was all melted.

To be honest, it didn’t *look* appetizing.  Tasted good, tho. When tasting, taste the sauce alone, and then again with a pea in it. You will notice that the pea cuts the cream. Quite nice!

We served this over shell pasta – I spooned it over and let us mix it up on our own. There is enough sauce here for 4 servings!

~*~*~*~

Recommendations:
Grill up some chicken. Slice and put on top. About half a breast per person would be lovely.
More peas and mushrooms!

~*~*~*~

Overall: Good. 🙂 Doesn’t need anything, (cept more veggies and mushrooms, IMHO), and would definitely do it again! On purpose, this time.

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Mandarin Soy Chicken with Fried Rice

July 3, 2010 at 9:15 pm (cooking) (, , , , , , )


We had chicken for lunch, (El Pollo Loco, yum lol) but I needed to use the 2 large chicken breasts that were in the fridge tonight.

Therefore, I steered away from Mexican flavors, and since baked ziti was recent, I also wanted to avoid Italian flavors.

Ponderingly, I opened the cupboards. What did I spy behind the cereal, but a small lonely can of mandarin oranges, too afraid of the big honkin’ pile of tuna cans to say “I’m here! Come eat me!”
Maybe not really, but hey. I grabbed the soy sauce, the can of oranges, and happily reached for some more spices as I cranked the oven to 350…

Mandarin Soy Chicken Ingredients:
2 Large Chicken Breasts (or however many you need)
1 small can of mandarin oranges, strained (1 per 2 breasts)
Soy Sauce (I prefer dark soy if I can get it, if not I like Kikkoman)
Ground Ginger
Ground Pepper
Garlic Powder

As the oven heated to 350, I lifted the chicken into a casserole dish, stabbing it repeatedly (in straight lines) with a small knife. Then I drizzled them with soy sauce – the knife holes looked good and dark and there was extra soy sauce in the dish, so I flipped them over twice. (Knife cuts up!) Then I emptied the oranges ontop of the chicken and around them.

This was followed by garlic powder, a light dusting, and ground ginger, also a light dusting. Hitting it with ground pepper, about 4 grinds high above the dish for good distribution, I covered the dish with tinfoil.

Just then the oven merrily informed me that it was 350, so I stuck the dish in the oven.

**Please note, this affected my cooking time. I did not properly preheat my oven. Cook time was 40 minutes instead of 30.**

Of course, then I started the water for…

Fried Rice Ingredients:
1 bag of boil-in-bag rice (the kind I used had a cook time of 8-10min)
some peas (about 1/4c)
some diced baby carrots (about 1/4c)
a few shakes of minced onion (the dried spice. please feel free to substitute fresh sauteed onion when you cook the egg)
pepper
soy sauce

I set the timer for 30 minutes – should be plenty of time for the water to boil, and time for the chicken to cook. I salted the water lightly, covered the pot, and enjoyed some obnoxious Facebook games.

After 30 minutes, I got up and put the rice in the pot. I also microwaved the peas and carrots in a small bowl of water for 1:45 on high. This was to slightly soften the carrots, and, well, thaw the peas lol.

Once the rice was cooked, I pulled the bag out, strained it, emptied the water from the pot, and returned it to the heat.

In went the egg, along with the minced onion… 1-2 tablespoon’s worth, I suppose. Like I measure…? To lubricate the pan, I used a tiny bit of olive oil. You can choose to use water. Either works. I like the oil. It’s heart healthy! ❤

I scrambled the egg, added the peas and carrots, and cracked about 4-7 grinds of black pepper. (to taste! I started with four, ended with 7)

I added the rice, along with just enough soy sauce to make it turn tan, and cut the heat. Stirring to combine, I moved the pan off the burner as well.

**When the rice was done cooking, the oven timer for 10 minutes went off – I pulled the chicken from the oven at that point, letting it rest while I did the egg and veggie thing!!! Don’t leave it in there to dry out!!!**

Since the chicken was done resting, I removed the breasts to a cutting board, slicing it, almost like medallions. I lay them on the plate, and covered them with a few oranges (eat the chicken with the orange slices. SO tasty!!). I didn’t use the soy/chicken juice mixture on the bottom of the dish, though you can. I just didn’t care for a soggy meal, the chicken was nice and juicy!!

I spooned on some rice, and served!
This makes 3-4 servings. 🙂

**TO IMPROVE**
~Plan ahead lol. Marinate the chicken with the soy and spices overnight, and cook it with the oranges for a slightly richer flavor.
~Using minced onion with the rice (cooking it with the egg) would have had better flavor.
~Dark Soy Sauce > Kikkoman. Anyday.
~Some toasted sesame seeds would have been a lovely addition!

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Baked Ziti Deliciousness

July 1, 2010 at 8:24 pm (cooking)


After the last, delicious success with the baked ziti, I decided, “hey, let’s try it again – on purpose!”

Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 small onion (in this case, walla walla)
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
2 baby carrots, diced
1 small can of mushrooms, strained (alternatively, 2-3large mushrooms, sliced)
1/4lb ground beef
1 large clove of garlic
some extra virgin olive oil
Garlic Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Oregano
Sage
Garlic & Herb Mrs. Dash

Remaining Ingredients:
1 package penne pasta, cooked
1 handful cheese mix (I used provolone, asiago, romano, and something else cheese mix from Sargento)
some grated gouda and parmesan for the top

First, I started the water boiling and preheated the oven to 350. Then I diced the carrot, garlic, and onion, and started it in the large pan with some olive oil (just a drizzle  – around the pan once, and it’s enough.).

Once they’re sweated, toss in the ground beef. When it’s started to brown, add the mushrooms. When it is all cooked, add the tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Add spices, cover, and simmer. Do taste occasionally, and spice as needed! (Please use a clean spoon when tasting!)

When the pasta is cooked, strain and return to the pot (off the heat!) Cut the heat under the sauce, pour it on top of the pasta. Add one generous handful of cheese mix. Stir together, dole into 4 ramekins. Add the gouda/parmesan on top, and bake 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, place ramekin on a plate for safety, and serve. Yum yum yum!!!

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