Friday, September 25, 2009

Eat Your Damn Oatmeal

You don't have to take that tone with me...not about oatmeal.  Way back when I wore my hair in two 
braids and donned that catholic school plaid, I had a thing for oatmeal.  I recall mornings in the kitchen spent pretending my oatmeal was porridge and that my two brothers and I were the 3 bears.  I hear you laughing.   We didn't have a Goldilocks but my "porridge" was always just right.  I don't fashion my hair in two braids much anymore but my thing for old fashioned oatmeal still exists.  

Now I no longer rely on little brown packets for my oatmeal fix.  Did you know that Starbucks serves Perfect Oatmeal and Jamba juice dishes it up as well? If these leaders can do oatmeal - you know I will!

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Before Oats became the love interest of the healthy heart industry, I knew it to be one of those things I loved that was not bad for me.  There aren't enough of those so we should enjoy this at every opportunity.  Opportunity #1: veggie burgers.  I used to buy these premade and frozen and they really don't taste all that exciting so we had to fix this pronto!  This is a superb recipe I found at for  Garlic Potato & Oat Black Bean Burgers  that I would make and serve any man who gets all "meat and potatoes only" with me.  I'd wear a low cut dress, too and stiletto's but that is just so he'd give it a try and then I'm sure he'd love it after that and I could wear any old thing... Opportunity #2: traditionally pie crust is made with a large amount of white flour  which I find a little 
disturbing and it should be noted that there is another way that is clever and tasty and makes sense for fruit pies: Oatmeal Pie Crust recipe found here at Cooks made with quick cooking oats.  Feeling your oats? Bake an oatmeal pie, see picture and then make the Hey, that tastes good!: Oatmeal Pie featured in the photo.  Nectarine Raspberry fruit Crisp with Spiced-Oatmeal crumb  topping at Bon Apettite is crunchy and homey.  Give it a try.

Once when my little one developed a nuclear rash on his unmentionables, research lead me to the colloidal oatmeal bath as treatment.  Yep, it was pricey but it was magical and should be noted that it looked disgusting.  Research time: grinding store bought oatmeal in blender, food processor or coffee mill repeatedly until it's a very fine powder creates colloidal oatmeal for pennies.  As a powder it mixes with the water in such a way as to float throughout.  Careful, this will be slippery on the tub.  1/3 C. will do. Helps soothe skin irritations like eczema, pox and rashes.  My itchy boy would not go for this now and we'd maybe make some oatmeal bath bombs if he was itchy.  For me, I would add 1 c. dry milk and baking soda for something silky during the winter when the heater dries the skin.  Oatmeal facial - I recommend you grind the oats in a coffee mill but certainly not necessary - Combine 3/4 cup oatmeal with half a cup of water and cook for a few minutes, the way you'd prepare it for meals. Allow to cool. After a few minutes, add 1/4 quarter cup of honey and mix well. It is that simple. You now have an oatmeal mask great for evening moisture in skin and soothing/shrinking pores.

Warm and fuzzy:  This little nest for newborn cargo is used as a photo prop and available for sale by Crickets Creations.  This one is called Oatmeal fringe and Cricket shows a variety of colors which can be purchased from her Etsy site.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Instant Satisfactions

Often it seems that the projects in my life have such a long way to go and I need some kind of pay off NOW! So, I work on little things with immediate pay off here and that to quiet my need for accomplishment. Instant gratification I think they call it. Et vous? Well, the next time you feel that need, I hope you'll try some of the instants that have made me happy: reading, knits, cooking, decorating or share some of your own at the bottom in comments section.

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Quite naturally, my favorite place for reading instant gratification is the micro fiction
This site offers and excellent collection of short stories all told in 10 sentences or less. Oftentimes, you will leave feeling as though you read a very short book. A favorite quote there is "It is my ambition to say in ten sentences; what others say in a whole book."~Friedrich Nietzsche

Pieknits shares this little wrist pillow knitting pattern and several others for free. I actually use this little pillow for my elbow oftentimes and make them from scraps of yarn and stow them away to give as gifts. Organic yarns and other soft yarns make excellent candidates for this project. This little project is where I learned to knit short rows, well, sort of. It was my intro to the technique but I learned to turn short rows at Knitting short rows is a technique which creates a bump out in your knitting like what you'd need for the heel of a sock or in the bosom area of a garment.

My favorite instant gratification at dinner time is Egg Foo Yung. I order this often at Asian restaurants and discovered in a miniature cookbook that a friend gave me: It literally takes about 5 minutes to prepare and can be filled with whatever vegetable or cooked meat which you have handy. I've used mushrooms to replace meat in this dish as well as shredded carrots for variety. This can be a complete meal if you want low carbs or serve over a bed of rice or try it with angel hair pasta or rice stick noodles for a light fare. The angel hair and the rice noodles cook for about 5 minutes so you can begin boiling the water before starting your foo yong, foo yung, foo young...whatever way you spell it.

As for instant decorating satisfaction, I like to accessorize with paint and little unconventional
items. For instance, I am in love with this burnt orange paint color at the moment and niche's and nooks at my house are sporting this warm and friendly new coat. Little things though, which require even less time that I play at are putting tassels of all kinds on each door knob. I just keep an eye out for them when ever I'm shopping, only buying them when on sale and hang
them like earrings from any knob or just from an antique key which fits nothing. I like ornate tassels and there was a time in my life when I would have just made one and would have used the Boutique Tassel instruction found here. I also like to put flowers around for instant pick me up. I am not a great arranger of flowers so I keep it simple and try to use unique bud or color for impact such as this little display here with deep purple calla lily and white fringed tulip. Maybe you are more creative in this area. Hey! leave me a comment or suggestion and be sure to support my sponsors by clicking on a link... that and best wishes for an excellent day =)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fall Trees

Trees change so much in the fall and I love the tree metamorphosis so trees are the current topic here at O.R...I know this picture is not really one of a fall tree but then again... =) [photo magnificence by Alexie One]

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So, does one get from trees to creativity? By telling you how delish is this pumpkin log recipe and a
how a favorite tree of mine is the apple tree so of course an Apple recipe? Then there are tree products to drool over such as turned wood knitting needles, double ended wooden crochet hooks, and the fun little project of this leaf flower centerpiece.

This flower leaf bouquet or boutonniere thingy is something unique to do with fall leaves when you simply can't just walk on by because they are so colorful and beautiful. The crafter here uses them as a centerpiece and I happen to think they'd look great on my desk, or yours, too, for that matter... but mostly mine cause I just don't get to see yours all that often. Just saying...

About the whole tree, wood thing: There are those among us who are aching to knit/crochet something this time of year. Whatever it is you choose for your project, these turned wood knitting needles and wooden crochet hooks will certainly make it all the more pleasantful. I know that is not a real word, but this is my blog, so...

Canned pumpkin distributed by Libby's. had a recipe on it for pumpkin log that was, in a word gorgeous and I really buy in to the whole "you eat with your eyes" thing. I earnestly strive to prepare dishes that are good looking, smell great and taste so good that you either want the recipe or I can't get you to leave at the end of the evening... in which case, you get to do the dishes. I had to adjust this recipe because it was nice and "basic". What I did was add a pinch more of each Cinnamon and cloves, used a neufchatel cheese for it's flavor and low fat and then
went with the 1 c. coarsely chopped walnuts. Need I tell you the
crowd went wild? Oh, I see, ok, the crowd went wild, heheh. I try to keep a loaf of this in my freezer for those times when I have unexpected guests and unfortunately, if you put this in your freezer thinking frozen will deter you from eating this: wrong-o. This is delish even frozen, don't ask, just trust me.

You'll want to know about this Strawberry Swiss Roll it is pretty and delicious also, substitute banana for the strawberry which isn't nearly as lovely to behold but since you'll be eating it more than beholding, who cares? Scroll down just past 3/4 mark at the site.

Seriously, you can not live on dessert alone, eat something reasonably healthy whydoncha? Like this sliced apple and crumbled cheese salad with balsamic vin dressing. Slice a red or apple of your choice and arrange atop romaine and scatter cheese, such as goat, feta, what have you and hit it with the balsamic vinegar or vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ex Libris

<-What on earth is that? It's a pressed fairy... from the books and calendars created by Lady Cottington . So I press flowers in my, leaves, feathers anything organic and it came a hilarious surprise to discover some years ago that someone had the silly idea to create a pressed fairy book. The book itself has the most flattened and outrageous poses ever pretending to be smashed between pages and if you get a chance I hope you'll flip through it. These sinuous fantasies scream out in mock pain and contortions that will make you wince but I personally can not turn away and find myself turning the book in all angles while saying "ouch" to their never happened pain.

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Pressed flowers...lovely little unnecessary things that
waft from my phone book, dictionary, any religious study, journal, favorite's a quiet obsession for me to save some blossom from certain oblivion. This little beauty on the right is a Cosmos and they are in season in my garden right now. I do the same thing to leaves and feathers and occasionally I capture some little bug who was minding his business and found himself between Johnson and Johnston unexpectedly. I have a nice official flower press made from turned wood with levers and lacquered. It has some pricey absorbent paper and cardboard for between and turns to increase pressure, etc... but funny, somehow it's the phone book which mostly spills of leaves and petals.

I am completely off subject though, I wanted to tell you that I stole a book. Of course I only intended to borrow it but it had no Ex Libris bookplate (Latin phrase meaning "book thief in possession of anothers book" or so I will lead you to believe. Some say it means "from the library of" but literally, for you snobs, it means "from books") return to sender thingy inside and so... Eventually I found out from the owner who sort of came across as a little unhappy with me. I kindly returned his book and included a note on the back of an Ex Libris sticker to serve as a hint that he would have gotten his book back a lot sooner with a return label attached. This elegant label on the left here comes from Fine Stationary dot com. In spite of the fact that I am personally still missing a few good biblios and yes they had my name and shame on you who have snatched them, I remain confident in the adding of bookplates. For you, dear reader, here are some return labels for your good books in the hopes that rotten scoundrels do not abscond with yours. Purchase and attach with reasonable assurance of the safe return of your good book. Tthe victorian bookplate on the right is free clip art. Customizable bookplates such as the ones here at left and middle are available all over the internet, these from My Own Labels.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Everything's Coming up Roses

Every part of the rose can be enjoyed, the petals, leaves, seeds and even those thorns.  I'll tell you a little of how. This picture on the left is a radiography (x-ray) of a rose,  x-rays were never more beautiful, huh?

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I'm excited about the abundant amount of rose hips in my garden right now, tons of red berries hanging from branches like holiday ornaments, earrings even. Rose hips are the red pods that form at the base of the rose and they look like berries.  Sometimes these are called "haws" and not all roses form these 'hips' which are red/orange flesh encasing seeds.  There is approximately 1,700 mg of vitamin C in 100 gm of dried rose hip and so you know, that's a heck of a lot more than what's in an orange.  I love seeing them this time of year and I suspect that some among you are thinking - what's so great about rose hips.  Good question, smart a.. one - I can't make you love them but I can share why I enjoy them.  When you simmer them on the stove (avoid aluminum cookware with this as diminishes the vitamin C properties) they smell wonderful like mangoes or lychee fruit, the water becomes infused with vitamin C and is makes a nice cup of tea.  Use about 5 hips per cup of water steeping at least 5 minutes and you will get a tangy tart flavor and a pinkish color. Also try crushing the hips before brewing to increase flavor.  Pour your "tea" into your cup through a coffee filter to catch the hairs and extraneous parts that separate from the hips.  Here is how to pick them, dry them, store them.  

Rose Ice Cubes
There are other delightful ways to enjoy roses besides the obvious receiving of a bouquet from an ardent admirer.  For a memorable romantic evening, encapsulate spray roses (tiny ones) in ice and fill the top of an ice bucket of wine.  If using the entire rose in the ice cube seems too much, a lone rose petal inside of an ice cube is certainly just as lovely.  Simple place a rose petal (or pansy or nasturtian) in individual ice cube square and fill tray halfway with water, freeze, fill rest of the way.  Distilled water makes for clearest ice here but any old water will certainly do.  Add the flowered ice to clear pitchers as well as clear drinking glasses and even fill with colored drinks for delightful sparkle.

Rose petals soft, fragrant and completely edible providing they're free of pesticides.  Be sure your roses are rinsed.  They're even more enchanting when crystallized with super fine sugar.  Learn how to make candied rose petals here and use them to top cupcakes, mini-cakes, float one on top of a cup of tea when you have a friend over,  and on wedding cakes or any other girly cake for that matter.  Add candied petals to drops of melted chocolate, ice cream or atop sugar cookies once they've cooled for girly decadence.  Can you think of other ways to use the candied petals?  If so, fess up and leave a comment =)

The rose leaf should not be left out of the fun!  Apply melted chocolate (50 g chocolate, 1-2 teaspoons of oil) with a paint brush to the veiny backside of rose leaves and allow to dry on parchment paper or whatever you have handy.  If you rest the wet chocolate leave upon a small object, it will dry with a bend in it and lend a flowing shape to the leaf.  Then adorn cheesecake, ice cream or what have you with the rose.  Combine the chocolate leaf with a real rose for impact. Making chocolate strawberries? Add a chocolate leaf, very small leaf perhaps, and 
you have a lovely twist on something already divine.

Ear buds seem to disappear at my house, which happens to be full of men.  Problem solved, these distinct rose ear drops come in 6 colors and are available for about $25, though I've only seen them online such as here .

And about those thorns, I use the rose stalks with thorns to layer around the base of plants to discourage the local critters from visiting.  Painful perhaps but organic!

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