If everything else fails…

Let’s talk about the projects that were on your physical or mental list for a long time. You were excited about them at some point, you really believed that they need to be done, you know that when completed it will be beneficial for you, for your health, for your  house, or for your skills.

But for some reason, some of those projects still on your list and not moving anywhere.

There are some steps that help to resolve this. Let me illustrate it on example of cross-stitch kits/projects I have in my ‘one day’ list. I bought them long time ago, I really wanted to master this skill, I wanted to see the finished products instead of bags of ‘everything you need to do this’ packages.

So I grabbed the box from dollar three, took off store packaging from each kit, placed everything related to each kit in corresponding zip-lock bag, and placed them in order from smaller to bigger. (remember, we want some wins as soon as possible).

I added small scissors,  pencil, little notebook for notes if needed.

There are three types of the kits I have in this category – stamped, counted and beaded.

For all of them it turned out good lighting, a needle that easy to thread, and glasses are make a lot of difference.

For stamped ones you have colored mark already on your canvas.

For counted ones – the picture is on piece of paper and when doing cross stitch it is so easy get confused and place your stitch in wrong place and mess up the whole thing.

So I read instructions carefully and watched couple of YouTube videos and I learned that they recommend to slightly draw vertical and horizontal lines on your canvas so those lines form squares corresponding to squares on pattern and makes your life so much easier. Also along the way I learned how to avoid knots on back size of your work. So, if everything else fails, read instructions!

For beaded one, it is helpful to put those tiny little beads in small containers (each color separately) instead of bags, it is much easier to grab.

Happy to report, one of the kits is finished, two – more than half way done. I need to prepare the rest of them so they are ready for whenever I have some time to work on them.

For example, one of the kits I got in thrift store, so most of the beads and some thread is missing, so I need to find some beads and thread to replace missing, but it is just three colors, and I liked the pattern a lot and it was just 50 cents, so the necessity to find what needed will add to fun.

And one more tip – stop your work at the point where you know exactly what to do next. So you do not need to procrastinate next time and can start right away.

Now going back to general topic. If you are stuck or cannot start, follow the following steps:

  1. Prepare everything you need for your project and put it together in one bag/container/folder/box so it is easy to grab.
  2. Make sure you have comfortable place to work and proper tools.
  3. Read instructions, watch some video tutorials, ask questions on forum if needed.
  4. Start to do some small of the project, one line, one page, one pattern repeat, one length of thread etc. Small baby steps taken often and regularly make the job moving alone.
  5. Stop when you clearly know what is your next step is.

 

 

 

 

My little garden update

This post is long overdue but better later than never. I was playing around with idea of growing your own vegetables from scraps of vegetables you bought from store and used for your cooking. I do not know about your experience, but a lot of time when you try to repeat something that looks so good on YouTube, it is not always working so good in real life.

But this one surprisingly did work. In this post I showed you how it all started. I put vegetables cut offs in water, in small containers. I changed the water every day, after about a week I placed them in flower pots on balcony.

And I proud to report that most of what I planted looks great. First of all it makes me happy to check it in the morning and see how they grow during last day. Second of all, it almost as pretty as flowers. And third – it tastes so good.

I clipped some celery leaves and some green onions for layered salad with fried zucchini and fresh tomatoes.

I cut off most of the leaves from the bok choy cabbage and prepared the salad that we really liked. Fresh cabbage leaves, boiled eggs, cucumber, green onion, leeks greens and some mayonnaise.

I also have different cabbage type that I am growing from scrap, most likely arugula or frisee. It looks healthy but too small yet to be part of the salad. Stay tuned.

How to prepare sour cabbage

Remember we talked about Sour cabbage salads? We used to get a sour cabbage in a Russian store but those days we try to stay at home more, and try our hands on different recipes. My husband has several dishes he does so well, so everyone was requesting to repeat them for each family gathering. And I am really happy when he prepares one of those for two of us. One of the salads I like a lot is vinegret. Couple of weeks ago I asked him if he can do it, but he explained that we do not have sour cabbage to add to vinegret.

I was brave enough to tell him that I will try to prepare missing ingredient. Searched for several recipes online, consulted with mom, and did something slightly different. We liked the result, used the sour cabbage for vinegret, for Borscht, and for couple of different salads. It was fun to make, you can store it in refrigerator for later use, and guess what – we are almost out, so I will be preparing next portion tomorrow.

You need two vegetables – carrot and cabbage. I used my favorite ever tool – mandoline – to slice carrots to thin strips and I cut cabbage with mandoline as well (first time ever). You do not need to have mandoline, you can use regular knife to do cutting, but in my opinion, the way you cut the vegetables and the size of pieces in a dish, make a lot of difference.

See two different inserts I used on my very old but still working tool to slice vegetables

Mix carrots with cabbage well, put it a big glass jar very tightly.

Prepare a mix of 1 liter of boiled water, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1.5 tablespoon of salt. Let it cool down, pour over your vegetable mix. Place a lid on a jar, but do not close it. Leave your jar with cabbage and carrot on a counter. It should stay on a counter for 3 days. Like this:

And fun part, you need to play with this food. Each time you go to kitchen, lift the lid, use wooden spoon or chopstick to poke your cabbage in different places, letting gas formed by fermentation to escape. After 3 days, open the lid and leave it open for couple of hours.

Now you can transfer a sour cabbage in smaller jars if desired, pour out extra liquid (or keep it in a separate bottle because it helps if you have a hangover), and place your jar (jars) in refrigerator. It is ready. You can enjoy it as it is, or use one of the recipes from the link above.

 

 

You cannot believe how simple it is

Friend told me about a recipe she learned from her friend and with her permission I will post it here. So we have another guest on a blog but I will tell her suggestion with my words.

So main recipe requires just two ingredients- chicken and barbecue sauce. Any parts of chicken will do.

The recipe is just to place chicken with barbecue sauce and some salt and pepper in slow cooker for 8 hours on low setting.

And go about your day.

If you want to make meal out of it, add vegetables of your choice before turning your slow cooker on.

Take a look:

We made this twice already. This time I added onion, carrot, butternut squash and garlic and used chicken breasts. Before that it was chicken legs and potatoes. We liked chicken legs more because we generally like dark meat more.

I am happy to share this recipe. And I feel that there is a big potential here because you can experiment with what kind of vegetables you add. And the best part – you throw stuff in slow cooker in the morning, turn it on, and when you are done with work – surprise! Dinner is warm and ready and the kitchen is filled with such nice aroma . Try it and let me know if you come up with some variation of this recipe.

Have some extra time these days?

We are all in very unusual and not familiar territory and time right now. It seems that we kind of lost feeling of control over our lives and our future. Remember we used to ask each other:

-What are you planning for this weekend?

-When are you planning to take a vacation?

-Anything special for your birthday? For your anniversary? For this evening?

Now even in business conversation first question is: How are you and your family? Is everyone OK?

But it does not mean we cannot do something fun or productive or good for our health or our well being. Any social platform is full of the articles named ’10-20-30 or 100 things to do when you are bored or when you stuck at home’. I am not bored, and not stuck at home, we are on PAUSE. And it benefits us and people we love and know and contributes to maybe slowing down this nightmare or hopefully eventually stopping it.

On other hand, we really have some extra time. At least time we used to commute to and from work. And time we used for going out, and visiting friends and relatives. And the time we used to do some shopping in stores.

So there are some ideas which kind of make us still feel some excitement and happiness.

This one is so obvious. Call your parents. Call your kids. Call your siblings. Call your friends. Call someone you used to be very close to but life was to busy to talk regularly. You will feel connected and not alone. And you can share experiences and favorite recipes to try.

Make a list of some favorite food you loved in a restaurant or a cafe and do a little research to see if you can try to recreate it at home. We really loved, for example, a rice you get in Turkish restaurant. I did simple google search ‘How to prepare Turkish style rice?’ and got long list of videos and articles. I prepared it several times already and we added it to our list of favorites to make. What dish you always wanted to learn how to cook? Give it a try.

Raise your hand if you saw some video on Facebook or YouTube explaining how to regrow your herbs  and vegetables? I bet you saw something like this at one point. No? What about this short one? How to ..?  For some unexplained reason it is so much fun. Look, I am cutting off root part of the vegetable I am preparing, placing it in water for a week or so, changing water every couple of days, and then planting it in soil. Don’t forget to water them when in soil. Look, there are red onion, regular onion and celery.

And on this picture – leeks, celery, turnip, garlic, onion and some cabbage. The one on the left lower corner do not alive, so it will be replaced soon. Say tuned for an update on my little experiment.

Work on some project that was laying around for ages. Fix or finish that piece of jewelry, sew on button to a shirt, do these couple of inches left in your knitting/crochet piece, color some page in adult coloring book, solve a puzzle, start reading one of the book that you bought so long ago, or do a little straightening in the drawer that drives you crazy. Even small wins will make you feel so much better and forget for a little bit about craziness around.

First necklace was originally a piece that I created when I was learning to do a spiral from some very non regular and not the best quality seed beads. But I did not want it to go to waste, so I added two beautiful big beads and more leftover beads in the same color scheme to create unique accessory.

This one used to be a very short necklace sized for a child or young girl. I loved the colors but cannot wear. Not so young anymore and not so thin anymore. Again, I mixed up some beads and seed beads in complimentary colors – and problem solved. Loop closed. New necklace is ready to be worn.

You know, in psychology there is term – open loop. Unfinished stuff or stuff we wanted to do one day is occupying our mind and adding to stress level even if it is something pleasant we are looking forward to. And if we can be in control of at least some of those open loops, I believe it can help so much in situation we are now. So, go ahead, grab some notebook, prepare a word document, open some task management application on your phone – and start writing down everything that is ‘open loop’ on your mind. All this ‘have to’ and  ‘want to’. Do not forget to start with a verb. Do not forget to separate big things into small things. And have fun checking off those items from your list and be in control of what you can control.

You can read more about it here Open loops trick

So back to our conversation about open loops.

I have finished couple of crochet and knitting projects recently. So I will be adding to my list:

Take a picture of crochet triangle shawl-vest and prepare a blog post about it.

Take pictures of all the hats knitted/crocheted and prepare one (or more than one) post about them.

I am working on some bead embroidery pieces and some cross-stitch project, so it will be divided into couple of separate tasks which I can do when I have a little extra time.

And I have couple of recipes in my mental list to try, so I will be adding those to my physical list as well. One is from my mom, I tried it, and want to share with kids so they can also try one day. One is my variation of what I saw on some video and tried and liked it. One is something I read an article in magazine and wanted to try for a long time.

And of course, spring cleaning. Again, separated into very small tasks so it is not overwhelming and can fit between my work, taking care of my family and my craft projects.

Take care, stay healthy and try to find something positive even in such difficult times.

New guest, new recipe

Syrniki (cheese pancakes)

We live in scary and strange times. Big part of our family tradition is to have meal together. Prepare something special to celebrate or to cheer each other up. We used to come together to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, American holidays , Russian holidays, and Jewish holidays. And even not so good occasion can be made much better with food and people you love. I remember the day when our company closed and everyone was let go, my family came by and we had one of the best times together. Together it was not too scary and surprisingly we laughed and future looked uncertain but promising .

Now with stay at home being the best you can do for yourself and for people you love, you can still keep the bond alive and keep desire to be together alive by talking on the phone more, by video chat more, by sharing not meals but recipes and pictures.

So let me present you recipe that my daughter’s boyfriend sent . He prepared this for breakfast and it looks great.

2 eggs
5 table spoons of melted butter
4 heaping table spoons of flour
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Salt to your taste
2 table spoons of sugar
About 400G of cottage cheese/Farmers cheese
Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
Add oil to pan just slightly covering whole pan
Place one tablespoon of the mixture onto the pan. It should flatten into a small pancake.
Cook 2-3 mins each side or until gets a little brown
Flip and repeat

I used to make syrniki for many years but this variation is new for me and I need definitely try it.

Let me just add that this dish is great the way it is pictured, but also can be served with sour cream or jam.

So let’s share recipes with each other until we can share meals again

3 quick salads to add to your cook book

Number 1. Take one zucchini, or one squash, or one eggplant. Peel it, cut into circles, add salt and leave for 20-30 minutes. Heat up some vegetable oil on a pan, dig each circle in flour and and fry on both sides.

Put fried circles on flat plate. Add some French fried onion and/or add a dot of horseradish or mayonnaise on each to decorate.

Another variation of this dish is to add some shredded cheese while on pot, close the pot and let cheese melt for couple of minutes.

Number 2. Take one raw beet, one raw carrot, peel, wash and use smallest holes to grate your vegetables. It is kind of hard to do, but it worth an effort. Cut some onion in small cubes. Add salt and dressing of your choice.

Number 3. Cut broccoli in small florets, cut onion in stripes. Mix vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper, distribute on baking sheet and place on 20-25 minutes in stove at regular temperature

Which one did you try? Which one did you like?

One of these days…

Try to recall how many times you mention in conversation – one of these days …

… I finish this project

… I will try this recipe

… I will organize my entire house

… I will read this pile of books

– and then you usually add – only if I have enough time.

And you know, now for a lot of people many of these days right in front of us. Unfortunately, our life changed from before to after. We read the news constantly, we call relatives and friends to make sure they are OK, we worry for people who still need to go to work every day to help us survive, we try to adjust to new realities of working from home or losing the job. And sitting at home all day long again and again.

So, let’s try at least one new recipe, let’s try to organize at least one little spot in the house, let’s try to read at least on chapter from this pile of books, let’s try to finish this project.

I am doing just that – let me show you.

I had this necklace I made long time ago – and I really liked it. But the string that hold it got broken, and I am ashamed to say that for several years beads were in zip-lock bag waiting for one of these days.

DSCN0863.JPG

I am still working but from home, so commute time is now mine to use, and during weekend, we are home, so again extra time.

Look what I did – some extra beads from my stash, some cute clasp in form of heart, a little update in design. And I have a new piece of jewelry that have something old and something new.

Do you have something in your list prepared for one of those days? Did you start working on it?

Share in comments below. And stay safe and healthy.

 

Update on pickled post

Let’s look under the blankets in our kitchen, shall we?

Left jar – carrots, celery and grapes. Right jar – two cabbages, carrots, fennel, celery. Middle one – cucumbers and onion.

One of my friend who tried this recipe told me that they liked pepper and cabbage best.

What did you try to pickle? What did you like best? Let me know in comments. Maybe you can share your pictures as well

Pickle almost everything fast

This recipe is from my mom. She used to do grapes with celery pickled. But the recipe can be used with different vegetables and different combinations of vegetables.

So one day I called her and wrote down the recipe, but unfortunately I did not have grapes in my fridge, so I added everything else I found. It is a shame to admit, we finished 2 liters can twice in one week. And I am planning to do it again today.

So, mom says that glass container is best for this, we are using a jar in which we bought something in store. So clean your jar, clean your vegetables, cut them in pieces and place in jar. I tried regular cabbage, red cabbage, turnip, regular onion, red onion, reddish, celery, regular carrots, rainbow carrots, fennel.

Now prepare a marinade. In a pot, add 1 liter of water, 2 tablespoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 tablespoons of vinegar. I added some frozen herbs, but this is optional. Bring your mix to boil, but do not boil. Pour over your vegetables. Put a lid on, cover with some blanket to keep heat longer.

Let your jar sit on countertop for about a day. It is ready. Keep it in refrigerator after.

And as always with recipes on my blog, experiment with ingredients, see which vegetable you like better.

And for me – I still need to try grapes with celery.