Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Photo-a-day, Finale and Superlatives

December 29 | I need less of this

December 30 | Us

December 31 | My best bit of 2014

Total likes on Facebook*: 215.
Total likes on Instagram: 168.
Number of Cat Pictures: 5.
Pictures from the "Gold Vault" (aka, pictures that were taken before December): 8. I'm actually surprised it was only 8 pictures, at the time it felt like I was constantly using older pictures.

Most liked picture on Facebook: I need less of this. 37 likes. Clearly liked because of the idea behind the picture, and not because it's an exceptionally cool picture.
Most liked picture on Instagram: Decoration. 13 likes.
Personal favorite, grading on sentimentality: Much loved. Obviously.
Personal favorite, grading on photo fanciness: Pop! Runner-up Sunshine.
Least favorite: Super. I just feel like it's neither an interesting interpretation of the prompt nor a visually interesting photograph.
Hardest shot to get: Believe it or not, Book. To get the angle just right so that you can see the Christmas lights in the background and be able to read the spine on the Little Golden Book (that shiny gold does not photograph well) took a lot of trial and error.
Special award for "Shit I forgot to take a picture, I need to make something up": Celebration. I had intended to take a picture at the family Christmas party, but didn't. So I made up some crap that made "celebration" fit a picture of the ornaments I made as gifts this year.

*Facebook likes are taken from the FMS Photo-a-day group, not from my personal facebook page.

FMS Photo-a-day is going to a weekly format next year, and I honestly don't know how I feel about it. I kind of like making the commitment to a whole month at a time. I wasn't planning on doing January anyway, so we'll see if I decide to do another round of photo-a-day in 2015.

Monday, December 29, 2014

December Photo-a-Day Roundup, Part 4

December 22 | 'Tis the Season to...

December 23 | Tree

This is my favorite of my mom's tree-toppers. #fmsphotoaday #tree #gingerbreadmen #treetopper

A photo posted by Miranda C (@mirandom03) on

December 24 | Color

December 25 | Celebration

December 26 | Animal

December 27 | I like...

December 28 | Book

Sunday, December 21, 2014

December Photo-a-day Roundup, Part 3

December 15 | Super!

December 16 | Beautiful

December 17 | Sunshine

December 18 | Sign

Don't tell me what I can't do, Sign! #rebel #fmsphotoaday #sign

A photo posted by Miranda C (@mirandom03) on

December 19 | Something to be happy about

December 20 | Food

December 21 | This is interesting

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December Photo-a-Day Roundup, Part 2

December 8 | Simple Pleasure

December 9 | Decoration

December 10 | Closed Door

December 11 | Something Red

#somethingred #Christmassocks #fmsphotoaday

A photo posted by Miranda C (@mirandom03) on

Something Red Outtake

An alternate take for #somethingred #fmsphotoaday #catsarejerks

A photo posted by Miranda C (@mirandom03) on

December 12 | Skyline

December 13 | Much Loved

December 14 | Drink

Sunday, December 07, 2014

December Photo-a-Day Roundup, Part 1

I'm back! I took a brief hiatus, for reasons I'd rather not disclose, but I'm back! I have been keeping up with my 2-new-recipes mid-year resolution, but it seems I always forget to blog about it. Well, this year I made half of our Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, so I'm going to let that carry me through the end of the year for new recipes.

So, instead of a new recipe post, I'm doing another month of FMS Photo-a-Day. Instead of a big monthly wrap-up, instead I'm going to do smaller, weekly photo roundups. Here are the prompts for this month:

And here are my first week of photos:

December 1 | Fruit

December 2 | Grass

December 3 | Pop!

Pop! #stressrelief #bubblewrap #pop #fmsphotoaday

A photo posted by Miranda C (@mirandom03) on

December 4 | Free (I couldn't decide between lighthearted or serious, so there are two for this day)

Making #free gift bows out of junk mail. #handmadeChristmas #fmsphotoaday

A photo posted by Miranda C (@mirandom03) on

#tbt when we visited Arlington Cemetery while waiting for Abby's flight to arrive. #free #fmsphotoaday

A photo posted by Miranda C (@mirandom03) on

December 5 | Me

December 6 | Joy is...

#joyis #fmsphotoaday

A photo posted by Miranda C (@mirandom03) on

December 7 | Weekends are for...

Friday, October 03, 2014

Black Bean Chicken and Rice, plus other updates

[Note: I started writing this post over the weekend, but between my sister's birthday and a sudden bout of the flu I was unable to publish.]

First things first: My 2nd recipe from September.

I should probably change the name of this blog to "crock-pot improvisations," because that's all I ever write about any more. This recipe was pure improvisation, made with whatever I could find in the pantry that sounded like it would taste good together. As my time in theater could have told you, I was never very good at improv. I had a can of black bean soup, some cumin, and some frozen chicken breasts. I was going to add some salsa in as well, but then I remembered I already ate all the salsa. It came out edible, but that's about the best I can say for this recipe. The taste was fine, but because of the black bean soup the result was too grey to be too appetizing. Don't get me wrong, I still ate it.

How I made it
1 can Black Bean soup
2 frozen chicken breasts
About 1 tsp of Cumin (I didn't measure)

I threw it all in my crock pot and cooked it on high for about 5 hours. Then I shredded the chicken and served it over rice.

What I'll do differently
I don't think I'll make this one again, and if I do, I'll adjust it so much that it won't really be the same recipe anymore. So, no "what I'll do differently" this time.

In other news

I'm trying to cut back on the amount of soda I drink. I bought some flavored sparkling waters to try to satisfy my sweet/bubbly craving, and so far it seems to be doing the trick! I actually have not had a soda today. It's been a long time since I chose to go a day without a soda. Some of the waters I bought have sort of an odd aftertaste (I think it's the Splenda, although I don't taste it in all of the flavors though they all have Splenda), so I was trying to find some alternatives to perhaps flavor the water myself. I went to my go-to source for stuff like this: Pinterest. I searched "sparkling water flavor" and the first result? How to make a Gin Fizz. Not exactly what I was looking for, Pinterest, but I like where your head's at.

Friday, September 12, 2014

2 Recipes

Okay, August was insane so I never got around to posting about the 2nd new recipe I made. It was another crock pot dinner, and it was really really good.

Barbecue Pineapple Shredded Chicken

How I made it:
2 frozen chicken breasts
About 1/2 a bottle of BBQ sauce
1 can Pineapple chunks

When I was home for lunch, I put the 2 chicken breasts in the crock pot, then dumped in the pineapple chunks, and then smothered it all with BBQ sauce. Cooked it on high for about 6 hours then shredded the chicken. I ate it over rice, but I think it would be really good as a sandwich. I also think pork would be really good in place of the chicken. No "what I'll do differently" for this recipe; I'll definitely be making this again in the same way.

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Based off of this Damn Delicious recipe, but I adjusted the recipe to fit my family's tastes and what I was able to get at the grocery store.

How I made it:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 can mild Enchilada Sauce
1 can corn kernels
1 can black beans
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (approximate)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (approximate)
2 small tomatoes, diced

I cooked the quinoa in 2 cups water, then mixed it with the enchilada sauce, corn, beans, cumin, and about 3/4 cup of each cheese in a big bowl. I spread the mixture into a 9x13 baking dish, and sprinkled the remaining cheese on top and baked it for about 15 minutes at 375. After I took it out of the oven, I sprinkled the diced tomatoes on top. We ate it right away, with a little dollop of sour cream. The original recipe says it serves 6, but I think 4 is a much safer estimate. The way I made it served 3 for dinner with some left over for lunches today, and I included almost twice as much corn and black beans as the original recipe (because I hate when something calls for canned vegetables but doesn't use the whole can).

What I'll do differently next time: The original recipe called for diced avocado, which I would have loved to include, but my local grocery store didn't have any ripe avocados in stock. Next time I make it I may also include some diced tomato mixed into the casserole before it's baked. You can never have too many tomatoes. I think it would also be good to have a green salad to serve on the side just to have some more color variety on the plate. My mom also thought it might be good with some tortilla chips on the side, but my dad had polished off the chips earlier that day so we couldn't test that theory. This recipe was so tasty, Mild Enchilada Sauce just became a pantry staple so I can whip this up without too much notice. I'll pick some up this weekend when I go grocery shopping. Which: I really really need to go grocery shopping. I just got a new fridge and threw out most of the food from the old one. This is seriously what my new fridge looks like right now:

Monday, August 04, 2014

Crock-pot Chicken Tacos

Remember how I said I was going to try at least two new recipes a month? Well, I've already done my first August recipe, and I have another idea lined up, so so far it seems like I'm going to keep up with my resolution. Woohoo!

My first August recipe was inspired by this one. I have a small slow cooker, about 1 1/2 to 2 quarts. I bought it used at a garage sale so I'm not quite sure exactly what size it is. I've had it for a few years but I haven't cooked with it very often because it's hard to find recipes for small slow cookers. Lots of sauces and and appetizers, but very few meals. And it's hard to cut down some recipes designed for large slow cookers, because what am I going to do with 1/2 a can of cream-of-mushroom soup? So I've been scouring Pinterest looking for recipes that can be easily cut down. First up? Salsa chicken (which I used to make chicken tacos).

How I made it:
2 frozen chicken breasts
Roughly 1/2 a jar of Pineapple Peach Salsa
About 1/2 tsp Cumin

I put the two chicken breasts in the crock pot and sprinkled them with cumin*. Then I dumped salsa over the chicken, cranked the slow cooker up to "high," and let it cook for about 5 hours. I shredded the chicken  when I got home and let it cook about 15-20 more minutes so it could soak up more flavor, but then I got hungry and started eating. I ate these with shredded cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. I was able to get about 8 tacos (using the smaller, fajita size tortillas). I also use less meat in my tacos (compared to my family members) so that I have more room for cheese and other add-ons, so normal humans will get fewer tacos out of this. I ate this over two nights so safe to say you get about 2 servings out of this recipe.

What I will do differently next time:
Next time I'll either use a much chunkier salsa, or find a way to drain some of the juice out. These were some MESSY tacos. Like, wear-a-bib messy. But they were very tasty so I'll definitely be making these again.

*Since I used such a sweet salsa I wanted to add a little heat, and cumin was the warmest spice I had in my spice rack. You could skip this, use different spices, use a hotter salsa, or add in some peppers. Just depends on your preference.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mid-Year Resolution

After having so much fun in July making berry galettes and one-pot zucchini mushroom pasta* for the first time, I decided to keep up the trend. For the rest of the year, I'm going to try at least two recipes I've never tried before. I'll try to blog about it here.

I discussed this idea with my bff, and she agreed that "mid-year resolutions" should totally be a thing. July is a world away from January. Why limit your self-improvement goal-setting to the dead of winter? Also, I think I have a lot better chance of actually completing my resolutions if I only have to keep them up for 6 months at a time.

* If you make this one-pot pasta dish, I highly recommend halving the recipe. We had SO MUCH pasta left over. My dad is a leftovers eating champ (we lovingly call him our garbage disposal), and even he reached his limit and had to throw out what was left. So unless you're making this for a family of 8, half the recipe should be plenty.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Better in theory: Blueberry Lemon Breakfast Loaf

After the success of my last loaf of bread, I decided to mix it up a bit. You know what I love? Blueberries. You know what else I love? Lemons. So I decided to follow Simply So Good's lead and change her Orange zest/Cranberry bread to Lemon zest/Blueberry. It came out perfectly edible, but there are a few things I would do differently if I make it again.

Do differently:

1- Use dried blueberries. Y'all, my baking dish is a MESS. Usually this bread recipe pops out of the baking dish and you can barely tell anything was made in it. I may have, on occasion, not washed it between loafs.

2- Omit the lemon zest. You can't even taste it, and I got a little overzealous in my zesting and cut my thumb on the grater. Not worth it.

3- Add some sugar to the dough. It wasn't bad, but it could have used a little extra sweetness.

4- Less flour on the counter. I ended up with too much flour stuck to the outside of the dough and that raw flour taste doesn't help the finished product.

Do again:

1- Activate the yeast. I've been using active dry yeast, because it's what my local market had, but in the past I've been too lazy to activate it. This time I added the yeast to some warm water and then mixed it in with the rest of the wet ingredients, and I definitely think the dough rose better this time around.

2- Mix in the morning. In the past I've mixed it up in the evening and then baked it in the morning, but I actually think that might be too long. The recipe says to let it rest for 12-18 hours, but I baked this loaf at 10 hours and the texture was great. I mixed it up before I left for work, checked on it at lunch time, and then baked it that evening. Worked great.

So, while I didn't love the finished product as much as I thought I would, it was still a valuable learning experience.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

My weekend of baking

What did you do this weekend? I baked. And everything was edible and I didn't burn the house down! Success!

It all started a few days ago when Smitten Kitchen posted the recipe for blue and red berry ricotta galette. As soon as I saw the pictures I fell in love and knew I had to try my hand at this recipe. Sure, I'd never made anything like it before. I hadn't used a  rolling pin since I was a kid and would "help" my  mom. But I wasn't going to let that stop me. I dreamt about these galettes, you guys. I had to make them.

So Friday I took my ingredients over to my parents' house (because I don't have my own pastry cutter, zester, or rolling pin). The galettes were supposed to be desert for our family 4th of July cookout, so it actually worked out better to make them at their place instead of mine. I got the dough mixed up without any problems (except for the fact that my mom doesn't have a zester either, so I had to get creative with a vegetable peeler and paring knife). Then, just as I popped my dough in the fridge to chill for an hour, my mom got a call from my grandmother. My uncle had fallen and broken his good arm and had to go to the ER. So our 4th of July cookout was pushed to the 5th. Thankfully the dough would keep in the fridge for up to 48 hours and we hadn't started cooking anything else yet.

Saturday was when making the galettes really turned into a learning experience. If your dough warms up too much you'll have a really hard time rolling it out properly. So you know what is the worst spot in the kitchen to roll out your dough? On the counter-top directly above the running dishwasher. Whoops. So, that dough got rolled back up into a ball, wrapped in its plastic wrap and popped in the freezer. Then I moved to a different counter-top because DUH.

The other half of the dough rolled out much easier. But when I transferred my pentagon-shaped dough to the baking sheet, the pentagon got all wonky. It became more of a vaguely 5-sided blob. I got smarter for my other galette: it works much easier if you transfer the dough to the parchment paper and THEN cut the dough into a pentagon. My blueberry galette was so pretty I took a picture just in case it lost the star shape during baking.

I did not take a picture of the raspberry galette pre-baking, because it didn't really look like a star at all going in to the oven. It actually came out of the oven looking more star-like than it did going in.

Blueberry still turned out prettier, though.

These were a huge hit at our cookout. The raspberry filling could have used a little more sugar, but my dad actually likes tart flavors more than sweet ones, so he thought the raspberry was perfect. Both galettes are completely gone today, so I'd say they were a winner. I think they'd be cute for Christmas, too, so I might be breaking this recipe out again.

I wanted to brag, so I texted a pic of my galettes to my bestie. She introduced me to Smitten Kitchen so I knew she'd appreciate. Turns out she had also made the galettes. Great minds think alike.

But the baking doesn't end there! When I got home Saturday night, I was in the mood to make something. I broke out an old no-knead bread recipe that I've used in the past. I haven't made it in a while, but it's still as tasty as I remember.

So delicious.

So what's next on my culinary agenda? Not really sure, but my uncle just brought over a ton of zucchini, so maybe I'll keep up the galette trend and make SK's zucchini and ricotta galette. Or perhaps some ratatouille? Oh man, zucchini parmesan crisps might be the winner. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Steotchalong Progress

The 2nd annual Steotch Mystery Stitchalong is underway! I'm having a lot of fun with this project, I'm glad I decided to postpone some other projects in order to participate in the stitchalong. Patterns 1 and 2 have been posted. I've finished both, although I did have a problem stitching pattern 2. A specific, cat-shaped problem.

Once I was able to get Arya to stop "helping," I was able to finish pattern 2. Here's what the project looks like so far:

Still not sure what it is, but the best guess from the forums is that it's going to be a Snoopy/Snoop Dogg project. I'm assuming there will be backstitching around the white part in a future pattern to make it stand out more from the "antique white" aida.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Weekend Stitchery: Cat Alphabet

This weekend I decided to actually watch some of the half-dozen or so DVDs I've checked out from the library. Because it's impossible for me to sit still and watch a movie without having something to do with my hands, I decided to stitch something. The Steotchalong is coming up soon so I decided to pick a simple project that I could have done in under a week. The pattern I picked ended up being a lot quicker to stitch than I had anticipated, I had it done in two sittings spread over two days (maybe about 4-6 hours?). So now it's framed in my living room and I still have six days until the Steotchalong begins. I guess I'll have to find some other way to keep myself busy. Maybe I'll clean my apartment.

I found this project on Pinterest and adjusted the pattern a little to align it more to my liking and add the date (similar to #2, but my own version).
Pin #1: pattern
Pin #2: finished piece

And here's my finished project:

Thursday, May 01, 2014

April Photo-a-Day Roundup

April Prompts:

My favorites:
For sentimentality: Day 10: My fave part of the day
For photography: Day 15: I'm reading this
For silliness: Day 2: In my hand

Cat pictures: 7 out of 30.

April 01 | Something Purple
My work coffee mug, right before a refill. #SomethingPurple #fmsphotoaday

April 02 | In My Hand
#InMyHand: sonic screwdriver. Unfortunately, it does not seem to catalog books. #IThoughtItDidEverything #disappointed #fmsphotoaday

April 03 | Shapes
Bright polka-dots on a gloomy, rainy day. #shapes #fmsphotoaday

April 04 | Good Together
Prohibition night part two: pizza, wine, and The Great Gatsby. #goodtogether #fmsphotoaday

April 05 | Not Mine
#NotMine: this DVD I've had checked out from the library for... a while. Thank God librarians don't have to pay overdue fines. #librarianperks #fmsphotoaday

April 06 | A Taste of Spring/Autumn
Spring has sprung! #atasteofspring #tulips #momsgarden #fmsphotoaday

April 07 | Where I'd Rather Be
#WhereIdRatherBe: in Jamaica, drinking rum punch with my fam at one of the swim-up bars. #fmsphotoaday #nofilter

April 08 | Hobby
My #hobby has exploded all over my living room! My mom picked up these boxes of cross-stitch paraphernalia at an auction over the weekend. Thanks, mom! #crossstitch #mess #fmsphotoaday

April 09 | Dark
#dark #fmsphotoaday

April 10 | My Fave Part Of The Day
I love coming home and seeing this face in the window, waiting for me. #kittylove #myfavepartoftheday #fmsphotoaday

April 11 | Three Of A Kind
Found these in the box of cross-stitch stuff my mom bought me. I'd love to know why the previous owner felt she needed three kits of a bear wearing a sweater playing with a yo-yo. #nerd #crossstitch #3ofakind #fmsphotoaday

April 12 | On My Left
#OnMyLeft: my favorite Morgan. "We're totes adorbs... Don't tell anyone I said 'totes adorbs.'" #cousins #fmsphotoaday

April 13 | More Please!
Chocolate pudding! #moreplease #notreallyImfull #dammitcatgetoffthetable #fmsphotoaday

April 14 | Dirty
I never notice how #dirty the cat tower is until I decide to take a lint roller to it. Actually, that statement applies to every surface in my home. #catladyproblems #cathaireverywhere #fmsphotoaday

April 15 | I'm Reading This
Currently reading Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. She's quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. #darkplaces #GillianFlynn #nookcolor #imreadingthis #fmsphotoaday

April 16 | My Vice
How do you take your coffee? I'm not picky. #myvice #COFFEE #fmsphotoaday

April 17 | Something I Learned
Today I learned that a small dent and a cracked tail light is an $800 repair. At least I don't have to pay for it. #SomethingILearned #fmsphotoaday

April 18 | Good
Taking advantage of the #good weather. #fmsphotoad

April 19 | Money
The only Jamaican #money I have from our trip. Worth approximately $0.20 usd. #fmsphotoaday

April 20 | Egg
My contribution to Easter dinner: deviled eggs. #yum #Easter #egg #fmsphotoaday

April 21 | Close
She doesn't want me to get up and get ready for work; she just wants me to stay #close and cuddle. #catsofinstagram #fmsphotoaday

April 22 | Four Things
Four books by one of my favorite authors. I seem to have misplaced my copy of 'Why Moms Are Weird.' #PamelaRibon #fourthings #fmsphotoaday

April 23 | Entrance
My welcome mat is not very welcoming. It has certainly seen better days. Time to go shopping! #entrance #fmsphotoaday

April 24 | A Pop Of Color
Nice to see some cheery yellow flowers on a gloomy grey morning. #apopofcolor #fmsphotoaday

April 25 | Remember
We're having a celebration today to mark 100 years as a publicly-funded library serving Wilmington. We brought the old card catalog down from the attic for a photo display. We've had several people share library memories from back in the day, which is always fun. Also, we have pie. #100 #100years #anniversary #remember #fmsphotoaday

April 26 | Enjoy The Little Things
Had a great birthday. Started the day with some garage sales, where my Grandma bought me some new Peanuts Christmas decor. Then I went out to dinner with my family and had delicious Italian food. Now I'm enjoying some cuddle time with my kitty. #happybirthdaytome #enjoythelittlethings #fmsphotoaday

April 27 | Under My Feet
[Forgot to take a pic. Oops.]

April 28 | Chaotic
When life gets #chaotic, take time to enjoy some pie. Side note: is meringue bad for cats? I'm asking for a friend. #lemonmeringue #delicious #fmsphotoaday

April 29 | Contrast
#contrast #blackandwhite #fmsphotoaday

April 30 | Something Silly
I will never love anything a much as my cat loves this blanket. #sillykitty #catsofinstagram #somethingsilly #fmsphotoaday Only missed one day! Not bad. I'm taking the month off, but I may do a round-up of a few of my favorite photos at the end of the month.