Picture Post

There hasn’t been much baking, or new recipe experimenting, or new creating lately. Pretty much just creating the same things I was before, beer totes and cross stitch. I did see a chocolate almond butter cup recipe on Pinch of Yum that I intend to work on in the near future.

I’m still having a lot of fun with the fancy camera, so I thought I’d share some recent pictures. Still mostly automatic settings, but I’m watching video tutorials and maybe some of it is starting to sink in. Maybe.

Apologies to those of you on Instagram, as some of these are repeats.

Fargo humors me and doesn’t complain…too much.

Blooper.

Sometimes it’s nice to have boring, even though I’d rather have full nest boring than empty nest boring. Boring doesn’t lend itself to interesting blogging. I’ve got some things in mind over the next few weeks that should be more fun.

Molly’s Mac N Cheese Adventures

We decided to have a cooking day on Sunday. I wrote about the Chocolate Coconut Almond Tart, in the previous post. This time I’m talking about our mac n cheese adventures as we followed the Molly on the Range flowchart. We followed the right side, doubled the recipe and ended up with one baked dish and a batch of deep fried cubes.

Making the sauce took longer than expected, though Molly doesn’t really indicate how long it should take. We ended up using less milk because it never seemed to want to thicken up. It finally did though.

This was Fargo, the whole time we were grating/adding cheese.He can sure concentrate when he wants to.

In order to go for the deep fried mac, you need to do all of the steps but the baking. We made the two batches of mac in the morning and stuck it in the fridge for a few hours. I didn’t get a finished picture of the baked version, but it looked like this, with bread crumbs on top. YUM!

When it was time to fry, we dug out the VERY rarely used deep fryer and set up the flour, egg and bread crumb bowls.

It was quite a messy process, cutting the mac up into cubes, then rolling each one in flour, egg and breadcrumbs.

We could only put four into the fryer at a time, so four batches of four. It took about $4 worth of oil to fill the fryer. So, it was a lot of work, and a little on the spendy side when all of the butter and cheese is added. They sure turned out pretty! They were really good, needed some salt/pepper, but good.

Both versions were excellent. Our conclusion was that we’ll stick with the baked, since it was as good as the fried, and a whole lot less work. Chalk up another round of kitchen adventures to the empty nesters.

Pictures (except for the flowchart) taken with the fancy camera!

Chocolate Coconut Almond Tart

Hey there, been a while. It’s been two weeks of not doing much that is note or blog worthy. The weather has been all over the place, I’ve walked a few times each week, but not as much as I should have. I bought and cut the wood to make more beer totes and I’m looking forward to getting those assembled. I think we’re going to try and make a kitchen island on wheels, which I’m super excited about.

In addition, we are still working on the house. We moved some furniture out and did some rearranging in the dining room, which I like. The dining room and the garage are still housing more stuff that we are in the process of selling/sorting. Hubby did some work in the garage, and now, if needed, we could actually fit a car in there. We are doing a lot of research on a new range to be prepared since ours is twenty years old. We bought a new sink, pics of that later when the replacement process begins.

We also bought a new toaster oven, which is very exciting.

Because the old one (at least 15 years old) was creeping towards full failure (note the burned edges).

This past weekend, we finally spent some time in the kitchen testing out new recipes. I’ll post about the mac n cheese next, but first, the Chocolate Coconut Almond Tart. I don’t have a tart pan, so I opted for a beautiful pie dish our friends brought us from Poland.

The crust is three ingredients, which includes almonds (in both meal and chopped), coconut oil and maple syrup. It took longer to bake than noted, however everything takes longer in our oven. It didn’t get as brown, but I think it was a pretty thick layer. I tried to press it down, but I didn’t get much up the sides like it shows in Sally’s picture.

I mostly used Trader Joe’s dark chocolate, which I chopped, with a few semi sweet chocolate chunks thrown in. Yum! Besides the chocolate, there was coconut milk and maple syrup…that’s it.

It all turned out so pretty in the dish. Especially with the toasted chocolate and coconut on top.

I’d definitely make this one again, especially for any gluten free guests. It had a neat texture, and was delicious. Can anyone tell that I used the fancy camera for all of the tart pictures (not the toaster oven pictures). I’m still struggling with learning the non auto settings, but I do think that camera takes some beautiful pictures.

Here are two bonus sunset pictures from Sunday night. The first one was taken outside, the second (probably obvious from the window frame) was taken inside. I think the fancy camera did an amazing job, but it was still more amazing in person.

 

Window Photography

No, I’m not taking pictures of windows. I actually think I would enjoy that though, especially old windows on old houses. But alas, I am being a weather weenie and taking pictures through my windows. It’s actually been a good way to make ridiculously cold weather, and snowy weather, more entertaining.This time of year we have bird feeders up, the snow pretties up the landscape, and there’s always Fargo to use as a subject. Some pictures have even turned out reasonably well…others, not so much.

Not exactly the graceful running shot I had envisioned.

This one I took outside and it was worth being briefly out in the painfully cold temps. I may post a few more from this sunset at a later point. This one is definitely my favorite!

I’m still on all auto. I really need to figure out how to understand all of the manual settings better. When there are pretty pictures happening without my interference, it makes it harder to get moving on that front.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

I bought myself a little present a few weeks ago. Of course I researched, because I do that even for a small purchase. Prior to this year, I used a bundt cake pan once. The pan we have was handed down to us. It gets the job done, as you’ve seen if you follow along, but the ring is wide and the cook space is narrow. It doesn’t result in super pretty cakes.

Ta da!! New bundt cake pan (oiled for impending cake mix in this picture). It’s a much heavier duty piece of kitchen equipment.

While the youngest was still home on break, we did some baking together, WHICH I LOVED!! We decided to take the bundt pan for a spin with a modified Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake from Sally’s Baking Addiction. We subbed applesauce in for half the oil, reduced the granulated sugar by 1/2 cup and added some honey, and split the flour 1 cup wheat and the rest, white.

Looked pretty in the pan when we took it out of the oven.

The youngest wanted to sub in cream cheese icing. We again based it on a recipe from Sally and modified. We used half the butter, then taste tested after each half cup of confectioners sugar. After 1 1/2 cups of sugar, it was perfect!

I’m sure I should have evened up the bottom before turning the cake out, or somehow smooth the batter better. I had no idea how to spread the icing on the cake so it would be pretty. We all ended up spreading more icing on our pieces, so I also should have just put more on to begin with, but it really did turn out fine.

Very, very yummy!!

Here’s a bonus pic of Fargo and the youngest, which you may have seen on Instagram, and is one of my all time favorites.I’m learning about color adjustments, as you can probably tell.

Can you tell which of the pictures in this post were taken with the fancy camera? I’m having a lot of fun with it. I love the bigger lens that came with the deal. I’ve taken tons of bird, Fargo and landscape pictures.

 

Winter Camera Fun

Most of the pictures I’m taking are through the windows in this arctic chill that is seeming to go on forever. I am still on auto because, for whatever reason, the manual information just will not stick in my brain. I plan to continue to work on it. Fargo and our pupguest and birds using our feeder made good subjects to play with.

Two Wood Projects

Before I begin, best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy 2018. As I noted in my last post, I want to start off this year by writing about two fun wood projects I worked on. Besides painting and stenciling, I have little experience working with wood, and even less with saws and drills. I didn’t post about these earlier because we gave them all away as holiday gifts.

My first step was to google “wood projects for beginners.” Pretty sure I have about 20 bookmarks for items I really want to make. I thought it would be the smart thing to start out with a smaller project, and I found free plans for a wine caddy on Shanty-2-Chic.com. There is a video with instructions on their website as well.

Hubby and I went out and bought supplies, and then he set up the mitre saw and showed me what I needed to know. Apparently mitre saw = outside use, which is fairly limiting at this time of year. Luckily, this day wasn’t too bad.

I’m sure it took me way longer than it should have, but I was pretty proud of my mitre saw prowess.

Instead of staining them, I decided to use leftover paint from our upstairs hallway because I really love the color. I must say, that I didn’t find it helpful to glue first because as soon as I started hammering the brad nails, the glue job was toast. Maybe if you have a brad nailer to use, it would make more sense. It did make things more complicated in terms of measuring, angles, etc.

Another first for me was using a drill. I love that our drill has a level on it so that you know if you are actually straight up and down.

I also used it to drill holes for the handle.

I really love how this turned out! If there was anything I would change, it would be the shiny silver corners, but after looking at multiple stores and online, there aren’t many other options in a similar price range.

Next was a beer tote by Rogue Engineer. I didn’t want to send in my email address to the site, so I followed from what was online the best I could. I decided to go buy supplies on my own. Apparently I have a learning curve in this area as well, because I had to make a return trip and returns, before getting what I actually needed. It was darn cold windy this time and I had to take breaks to get feeling back in my finger tips. We set the saw up going the other direction, behind the car, to try and buffer the wind a bit.

I cut angles this time!

I made four of these at once and had an assembly line going.

I bought bottle openers online. A lot of bottle opener reviews focus on how far you have to tilt the bottle to catch the top. I figured that with this beer caddy, the actual caddy could be tilted as well if need be.

Again, so darn excited with how these turned out.

I am absolutely making more of these. I enjoyed the project and the finished product. I will, however, need to wait until the temps rise above the teens.

Also, I’ve walked two miles on the treadmill two days in a row. YAY ME! Maybe I’ll get crazy and throw a few minutes of running in there. I’ll see how it goes.

Two Year Blogaversary

Facebook reminded me that a year ago was my first blogaversary. Honed critical thinking skills lead me to conclude that it is now my two year blogaversary. Where do the days go when they fly by so quickly? It doesn’t help that we feel like we lost about four plus months of our year to family illnesses and deaths. I’m still having a little bit of a tough time posting regularly but I’m hoping to catch up over the next week when it will be too cold for me to want to leave the house unless absolutely necessary.

There are no posts about running as it’s been a year since I’ve done any. I haven’t even walked much. This needs to change and I’m hoping to find my mojo and to get moving again. I had actually registered for an event in Oct 2017, but deferred to 2018. Maybe I’ll have some “back of the pack” fodder to share, but it’s so so so hard to get moving once the inertia is gone. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, here are posts I am considering to kickoff my blog in 2018:

The first post will detail what I did with the wood.

I’d also like to talk about our first go at making pickles.

And this lentil stew is pretty incredible, so I’ll write more about it.

Beleve it or not, it’s time to start thinking about seeds for the garden, so I’ll write my annual Fedco/seed ordering post. (catalog pic from last year)

I’m going to enjoy the last few days with the kiddos before my nest empties out again. I’m going to spend some more time learning about my camera. I’m going to think about goals for this blog and for me in 2018. If you are on Instagram, I tend to do a better job with (almost) daily pictures there. I very much appreciate those of you who visit here and follow my Empty Nest journey.

 

 

 

Some Fancy Camera Photos (and some ponderings)

Sorting through all of the stuff from my in-laws’ house, and my house, has included piles of pictures. A few things struck me along the way. One, before digital cameras, a lot of money was spent to develop many pictures, in order to get a few really good ones. Obviously, there were pros and cons to that process. On the “pro” side is all of the memories that sifting through piles of pictures brings back. On the “con” is the piles and piles of pictures to sort through to decide keep vs pitch.

Second, since digital cameras, the freedom to keep snapping picture after picture in the search for good ones, is tremendous. Knowing there won’t be money spent on developing rolls of film, means that newbies such as myself, can just go crazy.

Third, it takes a conscious effort to print out pictures and have hard copies. I think it’s an important thing to do. If you aren’t great about backing up the contents of your computer (me!), then it is especially important. After the eldest’s graduation, I made a photo book from an online site, something I haven’t done in a long time, and ordered some prints as well. I need to do this again.

In the meantime, I will share a few (of the many, many, many I have taken) with you here. Fargo may be getting tired of being my main model, though he hasn’t said so yet. The kiddos are in here too, while they’re home, and I love snapping the sunrises and sunsets.

Capturing good news for the eldest.

Keeping Busy

I’ve been keeping busy the past few weeks. Still cleaning out the house, trying some new hobbies, continuing with some old ones, prepping for the kids to come home (they’re here…YAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!). I’m going to savor the days with the family and then I’ll be ready to kick 2017 out the door.

I’ve been busy in the kitchen…

I’ve been busy with a secret new hobby project (I used a mitre saw and a drill!)…

Fargo helped me make beds for the kids….

And I’ve been playing with the fancy camera some more (post of pictures forthcoming)…

Now that it seems both kids will be staying on the West Coast for a while, I’ve been doing some deeper empty nest reflecting. I may try to share some of those thoughts, though I haven’t decided yet. This has mostly been a more lighthearted blog and I need to decide where to go with this in the new year.

Thank you to those who have continued to follow along with me on this journey!