Currently…February

Snow sparkling in the sun

Snow sparkling in the sun

In February…the calendar says this is always the shortest month…somehow it always seems among the longest months…this year, it was a very busy month with several big work projects…and in the midst of the depths of winter weather, the daylight hours are increasing – a harbinger of spring somewhere on the horizon…these are some of the things that filled my February days…

A Saturday morning read...

A Saturday morning read…

Reading…not nearly as much as I had hoped…continuing to work through The Giver Quartet…the first Saturday of the month, I settled in after a week of traveling and lost myself in the story of Lizzy and Jane – a delightful read on so many levels…after thoroughly enjoying my Advent read, I’m starting a new Lent tradition with evening readings from Bread and Wine: Readings for Easter and Lent

Watching (on the small screen)…thoroughly enjoying Mr. Selfridge on Amazon Prime…viewing most of my shows via DVR playback to “recapture” commercial time…

Watching (on the big screen)…McFarland USA was a great “feel good” flick to enjoy with the family…

Happy Hearts!

Happy Hearts!

Crafting…my box of crayons plus some simple embossed notecards from Etsy made for easy Valentines to wish “happy hearts” to dear ones…

Browsing50 pieces of creative adviceturning snow & cold weather into a rainbow igloorethinking the word “busy” to describe lifea delightful celebration of knitting & grandmas

A definite citrus theme to a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen...

A definite citrus theme to a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen…

Cooking…my Baked Savory Oatmeal was perfect for a stretch of cold mornings…I was on a citrus kick with cooking – roasted broccoli & clementines (twice) – citrus roasted chicken with sweet potatoes & pears (twice) – citrus salad…chocolate chili & my carrot-coconut soup were also in rotation – with the travel, I’m glad to have meals waiting for me in the fridge when I get home…

Civic Duty on a Monday

Civic Duty on a Monday

Serving…on an icy Monday, I had to appear at the county courthouse for jury duty…a morning of waiting & then an afternoon on a panel in the courtroom…and at 4:20 that afternoon learning that I was not selected to serve on the jury for the case at hand…I’m glad to have my civic duty fulfilled for at least the next 3 years…

A Sunday stroll along the beach

A Sunday stroll along the beach

Traveling…2 weeks of the month were spent with my project in FL…on the first of these trips, when I arrived on a Sunday afternoon, I immediately headed to Deerfield Beach to a favorite “hole in the wall” restaurant for some fresh & tasty seafood & some time along the beach…on the second of these trips, I am enjoying a detour home to the ‘Ville for a weekend with the family before heading back to PA…

A blooming Valentine's Day

A blooming Valentine’s Day

Cultivating…as I focus on my word this year…reading The Fringe Hours and using the prompts within the book as a catalyst for cultivating some of my time…also, cultivating my Christmas amaryllis into full bloom on Valentine’s Day (thankfully the blooms opened while I was home)…

Looking Ahead….more trips to FL for work…the return of “longer days” as we spring forward…

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for the monthly “What I’m Into” round-up. What are you into these days? Was February a “long” month for you, too?

Baked Oatmeal: The Savory Edition

Apples & Bacon & Cheddar & Oatmeal…Oh, My!

When the family was here for Thanksgiving 2013, I made my first foray into Baked Oatmeal and have been hooked ever since. I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest and since I had fresh cranberries from the farm I had visited, it seemed like a great one to try. The recipe isn’t too fussy & since that first pan of it, I have made it numerous times – the fruit would vary based on what I had on hand – cranberries, apples, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, pears…all have been folded into the mixture.

Recently I have been thinking about savory oatmeal and even looked at recipes online – but nothing jumped out as “must try this.” I kept thinking of my go to baked oatmeal & wondered how to make it savory. Last weekend I mentioned my initial thoughts to Mom & we talked through some recipe modifications.

Last night, I gave it a go. I stirred up a pan of the oatmeal & popped it in the fridge for the overnight. This morning, I pulled the pan out of the fridge and popped it in the oven. I could hardly wait for the timer to ding and see if my “experiment” had worked. In a word, Yes! As I shared with others: Apples + Bacon + Cheddar = Delicious!

Savory Baked Oatmeal
1 1/2 c applesauce (unsweetened)
2 eggs
1/4 c maple syrup
3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t cinnamon
1 c milk (I used coconut)
2 c rolled oats (old fashioned)
1 apple (cored, peeled, chopped)
3/4 c bacon (chopped/crumbled crispy cooked)
1/2 c shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 & grease 8×8 baking dish
  2. Whisk together applesauce, eggs, maple syrup, baking powder, cinnamon
  3. Whisk milk into wet mixture
  4. Fold oats, bacon, apple & cheese into mixture
  5. Pour into baking dish & bake 40-45 minutes (until golden brown)

(Note: can be mixed assembled the night before, pull from refrigerator while preheating the oven in the morning)

With the “full on” winter weather this weekend looking ahead into this coming week, this warm and hearty breakfast is a good thing to get my day going and the “stick to your ribs” staying power to keep me going through my mornings of back-to-back-to-back conference calls.

When I was little, a favorite oatmeal was a packet of the instant brown sugar flavored oatmeal at Grandmas house on the weekend while watching Transformers cartoons. While I still like that flavor (& a packet today takes me back decades), since then I have enjoyed so many different iterations of oatmeal – from the stovetop…to the crockpot…to the baked versions. What are your favorite ways to eat oatmeal?

Currently…January…

In January…new calendars are opened & begin to fill…winter tries to make a statement (which is muted compared to last January)…slowly, the days are getting longer…these are some of the things that filled my January days…

Keeping warm in a fun British Soldiers scarf from my sister

Keeping warm in a fun British Soldiers scarf from my sister

Readingmaking progress on the stack from under the Christmas tree…loading “The Giver Quartet” on my Kindle for travel reading – my 11 year old goddaughter is eager for me to finish reading it so we can discuss it…

Watching…I’ve “finally” jumped into Downton Abbey – I *might* have watched seasons 1 & 2 one weekend and now am caught up to the current season…enjoying the Agent Carter mini-series…got a good laugh out of the NKOTB themed episode of The Goldbergs…

Listening…searching out more podcasts since I finished Serial…thoroughly enjoying Invisibalia…Start Up…Reply All…

To be blogged...a simple scarf knit...finished

To be blogged…a simple scarf knit…finished

Crafting…a simple scarf was my Christmas knitting while home in the ‘Ville & I finished it up during Downton Abbey…taking stock of the stash & determining what to keep & what needs to find a home with others that will put it to better use…yarn & needles in a project bag in my backpack for work travel (shh…gift knitting in progress)…

Browsing…a history of some New Year’s day food traditions…a great fundraiser for a Green Bay Shelter – cheesy scarves…another installment of It’s Aaron – this time connecting with kids who lost parents to combat…on smartphones and the case for boredom…how open office concepts aren’t helping…Packers playing games

A second batch of soup was perfect for snowy days!

A second batch of soup was perfect for snowy days!

Cooking…yummy Carrot-Coconut Soup, twice!…Mom’s marinated black eyed pea salad to start the new year…a box of holiday pears from Harry & David was put to use in a Cranberry/Pear Baked Oatmeal as well as modifying this recipe to with a pork tenderloin instead of chicken…Chocolate Chili in the crockpot twice during the month…trying out breakfast quinoa in the crockpot (need to tweak it just a bit)…

Oh my darling...finally finding great clementines for cheerful snacking

Oh my darling…finally finding great clementines for cheerful snacking

Sipping…Really enjoying the coconut macaroon coffee from Target  – with a splash coconut milk (or frothed coconut milk)…this White Vanilla Grapefruit tea is a refreshing iced tea and is helping me increase my daily water intake…

Fizzing…making Airborne a part of my daily routine to ward of the winter colds and crud that are going around…maybe its all in my head but it seems to help keep me well…

Scenes from a busy & exciting first week on a new project...in Florida...

Scenes from a busy & exciting first week on a new project…in Florida…

Traveling…a project at work meant a week in South Florida – in the midst of some very busy days, the dining al fresco for 3 evenings was so delightful (& I can’t complain about FL travel in the winter)

Cultivating…as I focus on my word this year…focusing on some opportunities at work…keeping consistent in daily quiet time…charging up the FitBit again to keep moving towards better health…

Loving my Mary Englebreit page-a-day calendar on my desk at work!

Loving my Mary Englebreit page-a-day calendar on my desk at work!

Looking Ahead….more business trips to South Florida…wondering if the jury duty summons will get called…more cultivating steps to take…

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for the monthly “What I’m Into” round-up. What are you into these days? How are you passing the winter days?  

Simply Soup: The Carrot Edition

Earlier this month, as I was cleaning out my fridge I found a bag of carrots hiding out in the back and decided that they needed to be used up. My first thought was soup – followed quickly by the thought of using coconut milk in it. So, I searched for a recipe and found one that included ingredients in my kitchen: Carrot-Coconut Soup from Bon Appetit.

Carrot Soup

Carrot Soup

I pretty much followed the recipe as written. My main differences were using coconut oil instead of butter and the types of salt & pepper I used. In the soup, I used a lemon sea salt flake and my favorite Trader Joe’s Lemon Pepper grinder. As I “plated” the soup & drizzled a bit of the Thai sweet chili sauce in it, I also sprinkled flakes of a homemade chili lime salt on top.

That first bag of carrots included three colors: orange, yellow & purple. As the soup was simmering on the stove, I thought for sure I was going to end up with a purple soup. Thankfully, the whirl of the immersion blender balanced out the colors to something closer to refried beans.

This soup…wow! A tasty and tangy combination of flavors that is so, so good. That hint of the Thai sweet chili sauce is the perfect “extra” in this recipe. I thoroughly enjoyed this and have decided that this will be a “always on hand” recipe. In addition to being a great soup “as is” I also see opportunities to use it in different ways – ladle over brown rice & some cooked shrimp for a heartier meal; throw some veggies in the bowl to bulk it up and more. With business travel back in the schedule, it’s nice to know that I can count on having a simple and tasty homemade meal in short order after eating out ALL the time while on the road.

What soups are simmering in your kitchen these days?

Frosted Cranberries

As a new year starts & I begin my 9th year chronicling life here at Amy Artisan, it seems appropriate to start with a finished knit – it was discovering knit blogs in the fall of 2005 that set the wheels in motion for me to hang out the shingle here.

Always fun to wear a new hand knit!

Always fun to wear a new hand knit!

While knitting isn’t as prolific recently as it used to be, one thing is for sure…. as the holidays & associated travel approach I’m always reaching for a simple project to have with me.

In October, I pulled yarn from stash & found a cowl pattern that I thought would be the 2014 fall/holiday travel project. But, when given the option to knit during my TX & WI trips I didn’t – I just wasn’t feeling the yarn & pattern combo. So, the day before I flew home for Thanksgiving I ripped back the project & cast on for a simple favorite.

In detail

In detail

That Thanksgiving week at home in the ‘Ville ended up being prime for knitting. The majority of the knitting in this is basically built on my “go to” dishcloth pattern. By the end of the week, I was ready for the “lace” border which was Packers knitting early in December.

Blocking

Blocking

Once Christmas presents were wrapped & shipped, I spread out the blocking foam, dug out the blocking wires & in no time this piece was ready to wear. Over the Christmas holidays, this scarf saw plenty of wear – the reds and greens are certainly festive; however, I know the colors will serve me well throughout the year.

(Raveled here)

Flax Pond Farms - September 2013

Flax Pond Farms – September 2013

The yarn colorway name is “Christmas Candy” and that is definitely an apt description. But, I also thought of another name as I knit…Frosted Cranberries. The combination of reds and greens reminded me of the pallet of color I saw when I visited a cranberry farm and watched a dry harvest 2013 and the hint of silver thread provides a bit of frost to it all.

What’s on your needles these days?