My first knitting project!

All after a few months of practice I made my first project, a scarf. It's a simple garter stitch scarf from Stitch-N-Bitch. This book has been so helpful for me. I love it. It's quirky and cheeky, which makes it fun to read. It is super for anyone starting out. The book has really helpful step by step pictures and cute patterns.

Over all I am fairly pleased for my first project. I loved working with larger needles and chunky yarn, it made the project go so fast. I did learn that I should trust the pattern or make a swatch for next time. The pattern called for casting on 15 stitches, I didn't think that was enough so I did 30. Big mistake the scarf was HUGE. So I frogged it and started over as the pattern said. My tension has really improved so the stitches are pretty even. My only problem is that I need to work on my edges so they are more even looking. I guess I will read up on how to do that. I think that my next few projects will be wash cloths. They are fast to make and I can practice lots, plus work on my edge problem.

pattern - Go Go Garter Scarf from Stitch N Bitch
yarn - Wool-Ease Chunky Yarn (Lion Brand) in Bluebell


Happy Holidays!

I just wanted to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday!


Over the summer I was at a garage sale and found this

a box full of wine corks. I wound up getting the whole thing for $1.00. How could I turn that down? I really didn't know what I would do with them, but I knew that they would make for a cool project. Well after months of sitting in our closet Ryan started to get a little cranky about them taking up space so I needed to find a project to make with them. I got a shadow box for 50% off at Michaels, which came to like $6.00.

Next I removed the class and started sorting through all the corks. I was looking for ones that were fun. It wound up being like a puzzle finding corks that would fit to make rows. Once I had them all laid out in the rows I hot glued them into place and wound up with this

I'm pretty excited with how it turned out. I'm planning on hanging it in my office/craft room and using it as a cork board. I think that it's a fun alternative to a classic cork board.

I also decided to make this. We needed some more Christmas decorations for the apartment so I thought that this would be cute. It was super easy and fast to make.

I still have a ton of corks left and want to make some more Christmas stuff. Considering that today is Christmas eve it won't do us much good for this year, but I think I will make them next week so they will be ready to be packed away for next Christmas. I want to make these cute trees and some reindeer ornaments. Both look easy and super cute!


It's Christmas time again!

I decided that this year I wanted to make Ryan and I stocking for Christmas. I took a sewing class before Halloween and decided that this would make a nice first project.

The stocking took alot longer than I expected to make. I hand stiched the elf and elfette as well as our names. They took me quite awhile to do. I worked on them a llittle in the evenings when I had time. I really lucked out today and got placed on call for work. So I didn't have to go in and got to get them done. I think that they turned out pretty good for my first attempt at sewing. But it was a good experience and I learned a TON! I added little bells for some flair. Sorry for the picure quality!

Here is a picture on our Christmas tree this year! We still haven't found a topper that we like nor a tree skirt. So the tree is a little naked at the bottom. I really need to get cracking and finish up my Christmas shopping. I'd love to one day get good enough at my crafts to allow me to do a homemade Christmas.

It is begining to get alot colder here, which is making me really want to finish a knitting project. Now that the stockings are done I can really focus on knitting.


Happy Halloween (a day late)

Ryan and I both worked on Halloween and today so it was a pretty uneventful night. But I wanted to share the pumpkins we carved with you.


Left over tomatoes

This summer we were incredibly lucky to have a wonderful garden at my parent’s house. We didn’t have to buy hardly any veggies this summer. We had a ton of tomatoes left over and I didn’t know what to do with them before they rotted. I should have canned them, but I didn’t feel like making the effort. So I decided to make fresh tomato soup. It was AMAZING! I so love tomato soup. But more so I got to bust out my new toy…

That is my Cuisinart hand immersion blender. I have been wanting on for awhile and I found this one while browsing around Costco. It came with a few attachments too. It seriously blended the tomatoes into a puree in a matter of seconds.

Here is a bowl of the finished product.


We took Heidi and the twins to the pumpkin patch today. Here are a few of the pictures from the trip. The babies are bees for Halloween and they were not very happy about being in the costumes. It was kind of funny. The weather held out for us so we got lucky.



I don't know if you remember but last March I attempted a new hobby. Well between school, my lack of patients and total frustration it took the back seat for awhile. I knew that I really wanted to get into yarn crafts, but more importantly I understood that I wouldn't be able to learn everything from a book. I really needed to see some of the stuff done first hand to do it correctly and wrap my head around it. So this Thursday I am taking a knitting class. I am so frigid excited about it. I decided to put the crocheting on hold for awhile and will hopefully pick it up again come spring. But for the time being I wanted to focus on knitting because I dream of making lovely hats, scarfs and maybe even some day sweaters! And all of that just screams perfect for fall and winter.

I have been relatively lucky when it has come to gathering supplies for my new ambitions. I got all of my Grandma's craft stuff when she passed away. She had lots of yarn and some needles and hooks. She mainly crocheted however. I also have a friend who also wanted to learn how to knit and hated it. This was quite lucky for me because she gave me all of the books she had bought and he knitting supplies. So it seems to me that I am pretty set. I know that starting out I won’t need anything fancy yarn wise. I will probably just use up some of the stuff that I have in my boxes. As I improve I can get nicer yarn.

As I have said before, I spend a lot of time exploring others blogs. This has given me the opportunity to see other people who have learned how to knit and their progress. It has really helped me believe that this is a possible goal for me to have. I discovered Ravelry and have a ton of projects saved on there for when I actually get to that skill level. I am fully aware that some of them might a long time away from being created.

It will be nice to have something else to do to pass my free time I have until I start school again. Having 5 days off a week can get pretty boring. Learning to knit will be a nice hobby to help me pass the time as well as to have something to do since Blazer season is starting back up. I love the Blazers but I cannot watch 4 games a week. I am also trying to make some Christmas stockings for Ryan and me. I really hope that they turn out. I will post some pictures when I actually make progress. Right now I just have the pattern picked out. I still have to go pick out and purchase the fabric. I'm hoping to go this week when it isn't so crowded at JoAnn's. I can also use a 50% off coupon there. It will probably take me a couple weeks to buy all the fabric so I can us a coupon each time. I'm all about saving money.

ps- did you notice that I figured out how to put links in my text? I have seen it in other blogs and now can do it! Yeah me!!



It is that time of year again Halloween!! Fall is finally here and today turned out to be a pretty decent day to go to the pumpkin patch. Ryan and I were a little worried because it was supposed to rain all week. But yesterday was nice and this morning was a little foggy, but we went for it. The pumpkin field was nice and dry and we had a great time. We have gone to this farm for the last 3 years and really enjoy it there. You get to go on a tractor ride out the the pumpkin field (you can see the tractor in the background of the above picture). There were a few schools having field trips there so it was a little crowded at times but still fun!
This is my favorite picture of the bunch. Our annual pumpkin picture! You can't tell from the picture because we both have either a jacket or vest on, but underneath we both are wearing Blazer shirts because we are going to the game tonight. We got a quarter season package the first game is tonight. We are so excited, especially Ryan.

We got to be honorary 2nd graders and go on the potato tour with them. I was amazed on how excited they got over potatoes. They just mainly made me hungry.


wishing for a bigger kitchen

So as the holidays start to roll around I found myself lusting after new things for my kitchen. The sad part is that living in an apartment I have limited space to store all of the things that I want. As Ryan so kindly puts it, we would need a seperate house to store all of the things that I would like for a kitchen. To had salt to the wound I am getting tons of catalogs which are full of lovely things. Some day I will have the room to fill with things like this:

Tuscan Poppies Pasta Bowl Set from Sur La Table. The set is $69.95 which is a little more that I want to spend of a pasta set, but it is so lovely. My plan is to watch for it to go on sale and then I will snatch it up!


Flame's Maiden Voyage

So I finally cooked in Flame for the first time. I have been dying to do it since I got her, but the weather was to hot for a while and then last week we were so busy that we didn't eat at home all week. I wanted to make something special the first time I cooked with her and after much thought and consideration I decided on....Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. This seemed perfect to me because this is a French product so why not make some French food in it?

The dinner was so yummy! It took awhile to make, but was totally worth it. We actually wound up inviting Ryan's family over for dinner because it made so much. It feed 6 people with leftovers. I'm not going to write out the recipe because it's like a total of 5 pages, but if you want it you can find it in Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol 1. Or you can also find much simpler versions online.

I wish that the first picture of me cooking the dinner turned out, but it was kinda blurry. It was kind of funny to me because Ryan and I had just came back from a run and I had on my workout clothes with my apron on. I will leave you with a picture of the view from our deck that night...

Grandma's Mac and Cheese: Mac and Cheese Friday #3

So this is my third mac and cheese Friday. I decided to make my Grandma's mac and cheese. It's super easy to make, very yummy and brings back lots of memories. When I think back to my Grandma's mac and cheese I always think of how much she would tease me about it because when I was a child she made it for me and I refused to eat it because it wasn't Kraft out of the box. Ahhh young Melissa...you had so much to learn!

Grandma's Mac and Cheese

16oz shell shaped macaroni
2 cups of shredded Cheddar cheese (we use sharp, but any kind will do)
Crushed Saltines

Preheat oven to 350. Cook macaroni then place a layer in a deep baking dish. Next cover with a layer of cheese, crushed crackers and a couple pats of butter. Repeat until baking dish is full and you end with cheese. Next pour milk into the baking dish until you can just see it. Bake for 45min- 1hour until cheese is bubbly and golden.

So I have some bad news about mac and cheese Friday. It will no longer be every Friday. Ryan and I decided that our arteries nor our waste lines could handle this once a week. So maybe every other week or something like that.


more vacation pics

So my mom emailed me some of my dad's pictures from vacation. Thought that I would share a few.

Ahh yes, this last one is a fam favorite. This is me inside the Amazon exhibit that had tons of snakes in it. Have I mentioned that I am totally afraid of snakes. I wish that this picture was more of a wide angle, but can you see the little bit of Ryan's face and how happy he is?

Happy Birthday Ryan!

Monday was Ryan's 27th birthday. He asked for a pie. This was my first real attempt at making a pie. I have made the cream filled ones in the pre-made crusts. But this was 100% from scratch. It was a berry pie. It had strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries in it. The lattice top was alot easier than I expected. It's not as pretty as Martha's but Ryan said it tasted great! Happy Birthday Ryan!!!


Chuck's Favorite Mac and Cheese: Mac and Cheese Friday #2

This week was a more "classic" mac and cheese, yet still unique.

Chuck's Favorite Mac and Cheese
Courtesy of: allrecipes.com

1 (8oz) package of elbow macaroni

8 oz of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

12 oz container of small curd cottage cheese

8 oz sour cream

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and pasta, and cook until done; drain.

In 9 x 13 inch baking dish, stir together macaroni, shredded cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, milk, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. In a small bowel, mix together bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle topping over macaroni mixture.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until top is golden.

This was a very good mac and cheese. I wont lie...I felt my arteries harden a bit while making this. And worked out while cooking it. But it was worth it. I really was expecting it to be a heavy mac and cheese. It wasn't it was light and creamy. The cottage cheese is what drew me to the recipe in the first place and it was a very nice touch to the meal.
Do you grate your own cheese? I am really beginning to think that cheese that I have grated tastes better than the stuff out of a bag. I do get the stuff in a bag out of laziness some times. But I really do like doing it myself. Also it saves money!
On a side note, my apartment is so dark at night and the lighting is horrible. I have to figure out something so that I can give you some better pictures.

Painted House

So this last week Ryan and I took a quick trip to Bend to finish painting the house. The majority of the work was done, but we needed to paint the chimney. While we were painting the house my parents had some masonry work done and it needed 30 days to cure. We the 30 days were up and we were running out of nice weather days.

This house has been quite the project. Some day I should post before and after pics of the inside remodel. The majority of our time has been spent on the inside of the house and this summer we started working on the outside. Just painting the house made a HUGE difference! It's difficult to get alot of work done commuting back and forth from Bend to Portland. But we are making progress. We still need to replace the fence (which is a major eye sore) and do some landscaping. I am very happy with the progress made thus far. Ryan and I love going to Bend. It has become such a special place to us.


Macaroni and Four Cheese Gratin: Mac and Cheese Friday #1

I chose a very classy and grown up macaroni and cheese to start out...unintentionally I might add. I had recently gotten four mini cocottes from Le Creuset and have been dying to try them out. They came with a cookbook which contained this recipe:

Macaroni and Four Cheese Gratin

courtesy of: Le Creuset's Mini-Cocotte: 25 sweet and savory recipes

18 oz winter durum wheat macaroni

1 oz (1/4 stick) sweet butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 oz Gorgonzola

2 oz fontina

2 oz marscarpone

2 oz parmigiano reggiano
2 oz chopped walnuts

salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 430 F. Lightly butter 4 mini cocottes

Plunge the macaroni a good minute in boiling salted water. They should not be cooked through. Pass the pasta under cold running water to stop them cooking. Add several drops of canola or simple vegetable oil to keep it from sticking together.
Melt the butter in a small pan over a low flame. Add the cream, the gorgonzola, the fontina, the marscarpone, and the parmigiano reggiano (reserving 4 tablespoons for the top). Stir the cheese until all are well melted. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add the chopped walnuts.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and divide into 4 mini- cocottes. Sprinkle the rest of the parmigiano reggiano over each cocotte. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and crusty looking. On taking them out of the oven, let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.

So this recipe is totally yummy! Like I said earlier it is a very grown up mac and cheese. I actually felt like I was eating more of a pasta dish...not mac and cheese. Which is a nice change. The meal is a little on the spendy side coming in at around $20.oo. I go to Trader Joes for most of my cheese (other than basics). Any suggestions for a cheap place to get cheese? But this meal is worth every penny. And might I add, how cute are the little cocottes??? They are adorable to me. I am happy I got them. I was a little worried about how practical they would be. Honestly they are not practical at all, but they will be a fun to have. Ok, back the the meal. I forgot to get walnuts at the store so I didn't add them in. It still tasted great. If you don't have anything that is like the cocottes you could put it in a baking dish and it will turn out just fine. I had alot extra so I put some in a small baking dish and it was great.

Also have you ever had marscarpone cheese before? If not go buy some now and try it!! It is amazing. I had only had it in canolles before this. I ate a spoonful right out of the container. It was heaven. All sweet and creamy. Almost like a butter cream frosting.

Make this mac and cheese. You will not be disappointed. It will be a tough act to follow in the weeks ahead.


Confessions of a wanna be domestic goddess

*sigh* I'm having a love affair...her name is Flame.
Flame is a 6.75qt Le Creuset oval french oven. I love her. She was a gift from a very special man in my life who I love very much. I will say this she has been sitting on my stove waiting for her maiden voyage since I got her (a week yesterday). But it has been very warm and I have a special meal planed for her first time. It needs to cool down so I can spend a few hours in front of a stove. So keep your fingers crossed for some cooler weather!
I have learned over the past couple of years how much I love to cook. It isn't a chore for me. I like being able to be creative and try new things. I never thought that I would be this person, but I am. I now describe cheeses as "nutty" or "mild". I spend time trying to find the perfect wine to accompany my meal. I spend hours reading cookbooks trying to learn all that I can. My goddesses are Martha, Julia, Giada and many other lovely cooks. I hope that I can be even half the cook they are.


The Start of Mac and Cheese Friday

Do you like mac and cheese? Are you a fan of the blue box or homemade? Tomorrow I am starting mac and cheese Friday in search of the perfect mac and cheese. Each Friday I will try a new mac and cheese recipe in attempt to find the best. I will report back to you how each turns out and my personal rating. Please feel free to submit to me any recipes that you have for my quest!

And I'm Back!

1254 miles later we are home from vacation. British Columbia turned out to be fun and rainy. I ask you this, why is it that it can be in the 80's the week before and after our trip...but it rains the majority of the time we are there? I learned that Canada has great food (still don't understand why we can't have dill pickle chips here), really nice people and lots of Germans on vacation. It was a sobering experience learning how much Americans are disliked by others throughout the world. But this isn't a blog about politics it a blog about pictures. Enjoy!