I returned from Sock Summit Tuesday evening and it's taken me a few days to recuperate. There is so much to say and show and I will try to do that tomorrow. 

I had the good fortune to go to a dye class at Pico Accuardi in Portland the day before Sock Summit began. It was a highlight of the trip for me. After the dye class we went to the Pre-Sock Luncheon hosted by Deb Accuardi. What a fantastic menu, the food was awesome and there was a swag bag with lots of goodies. I will post it soon. Deb is now trying to raise backing for another book and I have done what I can to help support it. Even $1 will help. Please take just a second and see the following and if it's something you would like to support.
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It's officially summer time and so in our family that means it's time for summer salads. We have a few standbys that we always make because they can be eaten as a side dish or a meal and they do not require turning on the oven. You do have to fry the bacon for one recipe but that doesn't get it too hot. You could even cook bacon in microwave if you must. 

The one I'm making today is what we call Broccoli Cauliflower salad. And before you whine that you don't like broccoli or cauliflower, please just try this because there are several people I know of who said the same thing but tried this and really enjoyed it. I myself am not real big on raw cauliflower but I like it like this. It would also be a good way to get your children to eat vegetables and my experience is if you don't tell them and have them try it, they like it. Here's the recipe.

Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

1 head broccolli, florets cut up and chopped into small pieces (we also use some of the tender stalks, cut small
1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
3-4 slices bacon, crumbled
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup dried white raisins or dried cranberries
1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup mayonnaise
1/8 cup sugar or spoon of honey or squirt of agave ( like agave's subtleness and taste)
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (use more or less to your taste)

Make dressing and toss over all other ingredients and chill for atleast an hour for flavors to mingle. This feeds a crowd, you can easily half the recipe if you like.

The next recipe is for Summer Tuna Noodle w/Peas. It has the tuna in it so we sometimes have this as a meal for dinner. It's good because it's super easy and tasty and keeps the kitchen cool.

Summer Tuna Noodle w/Peas

1 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked according to package and cooled, do not overcook
1 lg. can of your favorite tuna, drained
1/2 white or red onion chopped fine
1/2 pkg.  frozen peas
1 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Cook macaroni according to package directions, maybe for 1 minute less, you want it al dente so it doesn't go mushy. Let it cool in a strainer. Put in large bowl and add drained tuna, chopped onion and frozen peas, add mayonnaise and mix to coat, add salt and pepper. Better if you let it sit in the fridge for a bit to cool and mingle flavors.

This next recipe is great if you have leftover chicken meat or have a rotisserie chicken. I obviously like the savory and sweet combination, this one also has a fruit element to it. 

Chicken Pasta Summer Salad

1 lb. farfalle pasta or large elbow or any small pasta you like
2 cups shredded or chopped chicken
5 green onions, sliced thin on the diagonal
1 cup red grapes, cut in half
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup mayonnaise
1/8 cup sugar or spoon of honey or squirt of agave ( like agave's subtleness and taste)
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (use more or less to your taste)

I am off to make a Brocolli Cauliflower Summer Salad, I hope you enjoy these recipes. 





I have a FO. It's the Summer Mystery Shawlette KAL by Wendy Knits. It started in the middle of May and she gave us Clue's every week or so. The first clue was the cast on and two garter rows, the next clue was 12 rows, same with the next clue, the following clue was a 3 repeat of 24 rows and the final clue was 20 rows. I loved how this KAL was arranged and I enjoyed knitting this very much. For once I anxiously got the clue and knit it right away so the only downside was that I had to wait for the next clue. 
I really like the yarn in this shawl but while knitting I was not sure I liked this yarn for the pattern. I was wondering if the yarn was too variegated for the knit lace pattern but several of my knit friends really like it and thought it would be perfect in this yarn. When I soaked and blocked the shawl and then had it pinned like in the picture above, then I knew I love it. The lace pattern shows fine and I really love it now!

I was reading my 365 Tao Daily Meditations today and it was talking about Spectrum and color and it reminded me of all the lovely colors in this yarn I just used. My meditation has a lovely quote.

Pure light is all colors.
Therefore, it has no hue.
Only when singleness is scattered 
Does color appear.

Perhaps this is part of why I enjoy knitting so much. I bought the skein of yarn originally because I fell in love with the colors. The girls mentioned that it looked like easter eggs. To me it reminded me of a painting by Monet. This one:

This is called Sea Roses and that's the painting I was thinking of when I saw that skein. So perhaps I need to change the name of my shawl!

I started juicing today because I've been plaqued with migraines for about a week since right after my monthly. It seems that when I juice and really try to take care of myself I feel better. I'm also going to make it a goal to have feverfew tea daily for 30 days because it has been awhile since I did that and it's time to do it again. I'm greatful that this herb, it was actually a godsend when I first tried this 30 day remedy because the migraines just disappeared. The bad part, the tea tastes like ass! It's just not pleasant and it gets really green and bitter if you let it stand for a while. I'll add some agave for sweetness and drink as fast as I can. The juice I made today had 3 stalks of kale, 2 carrots, about a 2 inch piece of ginger, 1 red beet, 1 apple, 1/2 small lemon. It was really beety I'm sure beety isn't a word, but you get my drift. I enjoyed it overall. 

I've started walking too. I have a goal of walking for at least 20 minutes 3 x a week and I've been making my goal, I even went once with a migraine hoping it would help but it didn't. I'm walking just over a mile now and I'm thrilled. I just want to keep it up, keep improving how long and how far I walk. Just getting out there is a big deal for me. After one week of walking I could tell my body was stronger, I walked more sturdy and the pain I had going down my left leg and making me limp has gone away. Still having some pain, now I have a bad pain in my groin and top of leg. But I'll just keep moving and I think as I get in better shape and lose the weight things will correct themselves. That's my hope anyway.
I've had some major changes lately and I'm on a search for tranquility. I need my happy place. Where is your happy place? Since my relationship went kaplooey this April I've had to get past the loss and change how I do things. He left a big hole in my world, I didn't know how to fill that space but after much thought and prayer and upset I've decided I have to be more involved in my own life and slowly that hole may close up. I've allowed myself to feel bad when it hits me, truthfully I still miss him, but then I do not wallow. And then after feeling the pain, I move on. I started walking a few weeks ago and in only 1 week it made a big difference in my life. Our bodies are truly amazing. I have  worked up to walking 1.2 miles in about 27 minutes and it really makes me feel good. I was having some pain going down my leg and calf and it was making me limp. After 1 week I woke up feeling stronger and the limp is gone. I got a nice blister on the back on my foot, but I protected it and kept walking and it's OK now. I'm so grateful to a new friend who told me about the walking trail because it's perfect for me. It's 4.7 miles long in total and it was railroad tracks that they paved over. It's beautifully landscaped, it's not far from the house, it's safe, flat and marks ever tenth of a mile so you know how far you went. 

I've found a new local yarn store, The Yarn Garden, and I just love it. She has a beautiful array of yarn and I was welcomed in automatically. I now go meet with them on Saturday mornings and for the Tuesday knit night where we also have a potluck. The ladies in the group are just lovely. 

I've been doing lots of knitting. I hope to show you some pics soon.

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl and although my team, the Minnesota Vikings, had a horrible year, I'll be routing for the Steelers! GO STEELERS!

We have been looking for some nibbly snacky food recipes online and will be making a blue cheese dip and these Sticky Wings. All families seem to have the regular hors d'oeuvres they usually make like 7 layer dip, hot artichoke dip, or the ranch dressing/dip and chips but we were looking for something new. So I was thinking of some of our old favorites and I wanted to share a couple of them with you.

The first one is so simple. So simple it's embarrassing. I have made this for get togethers and I have seen grown men sit by the crock pot of this dip and uncontrollably snack on this stuff. It's that good. All it is is a can of chili WITHOUT BEANS and cream cheese, mixed in a small crockpot until melted together and served with tortilla chips. The bad part is I can not find the chili I use to use, which is Stagg Laredo with NO BEANS. I guess they don't make it anymore. They make the Laredo but with beans, so I guess this would be fine, just excuse the look of it.  What we use now is Hormel Chili No Beans. It turns into this cheesy, tasty dip. Perfect with tortilla chips.

Chili Cheese Dip

1 15 oz. can Stagg Laredo Chili w/beans or Hormel Chili No Beans
1 8 oz. cream cheese, cut into about 8 pieces

Put above in small dip size crockpot and heat covered, stirring until it is mixed and cream cheese has melted in to chili. You can easily double recipe for a larger crowd and put into a larger crockpot. Serve with tortilla chips or you may use on nachos too.

This next recipe requires no cooking as well. I use to call it Aunt Reen's crab dip because while married, his Aunt Reen made this and I loved it. She was a lovely lady so I guess I still think of it as hers. She can't help she has such a stupid nephew. :) This too is a crowd pleaser.

Layered Crab Dip

1 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 sm. jar of cocktail sauce, your favorite brand
1 sm. can of crab meat, drained well or about 1/2 lb. lump crab meat
3-5 green onions, slices fine

On about a 12 inch platter spread the cream cheese over, leaving a border of about 1-3 inches, Put cocktail sauce over cream cheese and spread (you may not use the whole bottle), sprinkle crab meat over sauce, sprinkle green onion over crab. Cover w/plastic wrap and refrigerate until being served. Serve with wheat thins or a cracker that you can scoop the dip with.
Sunday while watching the disappointing football games I started getting a twitch in my throat and body aches. Four beers later and I started feeling like I was really coming down with something. Not from the beer, I drank them over several hours. Yesterday when I woke up I thought I might be better although I didn't sleep well, but that afternoon it hit me again and I've been pretty miserable ever since. I was awake at 2:30 a.m. with a really sore throat, headache, body aches. I'm a mess. 

So it's back to bed for me, a cup of tea and gatorade.

"Now we have finished. Everyone stand and we will bow to the Buddha three times to thank him. We thank him, because even if we did not have a great enlightenment, we had a small enlightenment. If we did not have a small enlightenment, at least we did not get sick. If we got sick, at least we did not die. So let's thank the Buddha" ~ Hsu Hsuan

This is from my Zen Calendar and it spoke to me today. I'm finding myself in a funk, just a general malaise, or the mean reds as Holly Golightly would say. I really try to be positive and see the best in situations and people but sometimes that 

Sometimes I think this is why I like watching reality TV because I can look at "those people" and say Alleluiai, thank the Lord, that my life is not like THAT. So according to the quote above I'm thankful today to be alive, not dead. Even though I'm feeling lost and unmotivated and slightly hopeless, I'm breathing and there is a possibility for change.

I found my knitting mojo last week and started a plain toe up sock. No pattern. I needed to just knit. And the thumb is still not good. But I taped it, taped my pinky finger too because the long circs are in nickel plate and they were hitting and hurting points on my pinky. The thumb is still locking but when taped doesn't seem to hurt so much. I was up to the cuff on the first sock and then the new Knitty came out. Then I fell in love with this sock pattern, Maeva. I must knit it! Oh, and FYI, it is not pronounced the way I would pronounce it "may-va", oh no, maybe this is the german pronounciation but the pattern says it's pronounced "ma-eva" How ever you say it, I ripped out that plain sock and cast on and I'm enjoying the pattern very much. I'm working the instep. 

I also have to finish reading my library book, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen which is due today but I may have to keep for 1 more day and get a fine. I'm really going to try to finish it now so I can turn it in. It's an enjoyable read but slightly odd. There's a few situations that were written about that made me very uncomfortable, both having to do with poop. I like that part of the book is in St.Paul MN, I like getting to know these characters, it's a study in human behavior, but it's slightly out there too. I haven't finished it yet, so I'll say no more. Have any of you read it? I'd love to talk to someone about the book after I've finished.

What I'm happy and grateful for today: The smell of freshly brewed coffee. The smell is intoxicating, it puts you a good place, the anticipation of a perfect cup of coffee. 

I saw this video which uplifted my mood today. Check it out. I had started a post on Sunday, mainly about my sadness of the shooting Saturday in Tucson but the post, while maybe therapeutic for me to write, was anything but awesome and uplifting. And then the oddest thing happened as it sometimes does. I lost the post. Perhaps it's my inexperience with how weebly's system works, but I did something and then could not find the post. It was not saved automatically and perhaps that's how it should be. I'm glad it was lost. So today I'm still finding it hard to be positive and uplifting but I sure am trying. 

So I go look at this video and it gave me a reality check and now I'm reading Neil Pasricha's blog called 1000 Awesome Things. And I may have to check out his book aptly title, The Book of Awesome. The whole country needs some awesomeness.

BTW, the pic above is something my computer found under the word awesome. I love the pic because it's beautiful and because nature is so often awesome and inspiring. Who else but nature has the power to create those colors and those patterns and that beautiful flower.I am making an effort to close my blog posts with something I am hopeful or grateful for but maybe I should change that to something that is awesome!
What is awesome in your life?

Awesomeness: The desire to learn. I love that feeling when I hear of something or see something and want to know more. I think I am a perpetual student and I love that.

I made baked mac n cheese today! I based it off a recipe I saw on the Pioneer Woman webite. This recipe to be exact. I of course made a few changes, some out of necessity and some just because.

I added more liquid than the original recipe and it needed it and I only added this much Velveeta because that's all I had.

 Baked Mac N Cheese

16 oz. elbow macaroni
3 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 cups milk
1 lg. can evaporated milk
1 cup cream
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1-inch slice of velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup asiago cheese, grated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
panko bread  crumbs

In a large bowl cook macaroni in boiling salted water for 2 minutes less than package directions or 5 minutes. You want macaroni cooked just to al dente. 

In a large pan melt butter over medium high heat, then add flour and cook until bubbly. Then add dijon mustard and mix. Add milk, evaporated milk and cream and stir until mixture slightly thickens. Turn down heat to low, then add cayenne, salt and pepper and then cheese and stir until melted.

Butter a 9x12 baking dish. Add cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce, mix. Put in the baking dish, sprinkle panko bread crumbs over the top and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

If you try the recipe, I'd love to hear how it came out for you or what variations you made.

Before the holidays someone posted that they were going to stay positive, make a real effort to get rid of the negativity and it hit home with me. I wish I could remember where the post is, it was a blog post and she called it whining. I hate whiners. I often mute people on plurk because I get sick of hearing them complain. It's not that I won't listen to anyone whine or if there is one negative post I mute them. Everyone has those days and it doesn't bother me, but it's also true that some choose to mainly whine and complain and that's what I have a hard time with. Sure, I have gripes, I'm sure I do whine sometimes, but through it all I want to be more positive, acknowledge others positivity, I want the balance to be more on the side of being positive and uplifting.

So I'm going to kind of do a random post about things that I like, things that are making me happy right now, things I want you to know about.

  1. The first thing I'm really happy I found out about is something as simple as a healthier peanut butter called Better n' Peanut Butter. I came across it on Berta's blog Epicuriosity Killed My Waistline. This peanut butter has less calories, less fat but what matters is that it tastes yummy! I mean really yummy, like I don't miss regular peanut butter at all. Often when you try something that is "healthier" you have to give up taste or texture. Maybe not give up but get used to something different, or you end up not liking it enough, healthier or not. I love this on toast or an english muffin, you don't need any butter. I also like it as a snack with a small smudge on a plate and a cut up banana, the two together are a wonderful marriage. I'll confess I like it on toast with a slice of bacon on top too! 

    If you go to the link on the name you'll go to their website and there is a store locator but it looks like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods carries it. I got ours at Trader Joe's. Once it's opened you have to refrigerate but it's not a huge jar and I'm finding I don't use as much either. 
  2. The second thing that has been making me happy is Lindt Chocolate Truffles! Santa left a bag in my stocking of the assorted truffles. I only allow myself 1 or 2 at night before bed while reading and I thoroughly enjoy them. They took the peanut butter ones out of the assortment, boo hoo, but I still love the dark chocolate, milk chocolate and my all time favorite is the white chocolate truffles.
  3. Modern Family. The TV show, I can't help it, I'm in love with it. Cameron is my favorite, he makes me truly laugh out loud. I saw him on a show and he is not gay but he plays a good one. I just want to hug him.
  4. My Schacht cricket loom (pics in previous blog post) is giving me hours of enjoyment.
 What I'm grateful for:  my cats Tom, Sophie and Lil' O. They give me so much, they are so entertaining and usually available for a snuggle when you need one. I honestly think they improve people's health, they give me a sense of calm.