Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Party in Your PJs! #241


Happy Tuesday!  Welcome to the Party in Your PJs Link Party, where your posts will be seen on three different blogs each week.

I'm so glad to be back! We took a couple weeks off for the holidays and then (briefly) tried the updated inLinkz. It did not go well at all. There are many things I do not love about that version, either as a back end user or as a front end user linking up to my favorite parties!  Thank goodness, we went back to the older version and will stay with it at least until they sort out their beta testing.

  Meet the Co-Hosts

Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Lynda's Features!

If there is one steady truth in the world (or at least here in the DC area, it's that the week the kids go back to school, there WILL be a snowstorm that keeps them all out of school.  So this week, I'm posting some kid activities for those bonus snow days.

 Make sure you head over to the other members of Party in Your PJs
 to see their features - we each pick our own!

All links are pinned to a Party Board...you can follow the board on Pinterest...feel free to follow the board, there is lots of inspiration to be found there.

Ok...let's party!

Rules -Link to post, not your home page
-Link to something YOU made, wrote or thought
-No Etsy or Business Pages
-Link Parties, Roundups and Giveaways welcome
- Don't Link and Run! Please visit other links, make friends, learn something new, leave a comment.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Baked Turkey Tetrazzini #BakingBloggers


This month, I am joining several other bloggers at Baking Bloggers to share a Baked Pasta dish.

When I was a kid, my mom would make tetrazzini whenever we had leftover poultry or ham after a holiday feast.  The pasta would vary from spaghetti noodles to flat egg noodles, and the sauce was bolstered by condensed cream of something soups.

Those cans are the biggest reason why I rarely thought of it as an adult cooking to my own case, but of course they are not necessary!  The sauce for this version calls for broth and cream, and plenty of cheese to make it just right for cold winter nights.

Baked Turkey Tetrazzini
Serves 6-8
Preheat oven to 400F.

12 oz. linguine, snapped in half and cooked to al dente

6 T. butter
1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup flour
1 cup chicken or turkey broth
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 lb.  leftover cooked turkey, chopped
1 bag frozen peas
handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups shredded Mozzarella

Prepare linguine according to package instructions, taking care not  to overcook.

Have a large bowl on hand and put the shredded poultry there.

Melt 3 T. butter in a large skillet.  Add onion and cook until softened.  Add garlic, cooking until fragrant (be careful not to scorch).  Add mushrooms, salt, pepper and thyme and continue to saute until the mushrooms are softened and cooked.

Remove onion and mushroom mixture to the bowl of turkey and set aside.

Add wine to the pan and scrap to get any cooked bits loosened from the bottom. Simmer until nearly evaporated.

Add 3 T. butter to pan and melt at medium low.  Add flour and cook, stirring, for two minutes.   Add milk, cream, broth and nutmeg and raise heat to boil. Cook, stirring, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.

Cook peas in microwave.

Add the turkey and mushroom mixture, the peas and the pasta in the pan, and stir in the Parmesan cheese, mixing to combine all and thoroughly coating the pasta with sauce.

Turn this mixture into a greased baking dish.  Top with shredded mozzarella . Bake, uncovered, at 400F for 30-40 minutes.

Let settle for about 10 minutes after you remove this from the oven.

Check out these other delicious baked pasta dishes!

Baking Bloggers

Baked Pasta

Friday, January 11, 2019

UGEARS Mechanical Models Kits (Review)


My love for mechanics and engineering started at a young age. Any time my father was out working on the car or building something I was always right by his side. With his help, I built a truck practically from scrap as a teen. I loved learning how each part of an engine worked together to generate power or how the parts of a guitar come together to make music. All of this was absolutely fascinating for me.

As an adult, I don't have anywhere near the time I would like to tear apart and rebuild engines or to design and 3D print models (my biggest current passion). I do, however, have a little spare time each week to myself to do things that I like.

One day while goofing around online I came across a company called UGEARS. And these things looked incredible. They had all kinds of model kits made of wood. I thought these could be fun as a little side project until I started to look a little closer and realized these were working models with mechanical moving parts!! There was a windmill, a motorcycle, a car, even a musical instrument.

I had to know more.

The creators at UGEARS are based out of Ukraine and ship their products world wide. They use what appears to be a form of multi-layered balsa wood which is laser cut to create the individual parts of the model. 

The end result is a beautiful and intricate model with a steampunk feel to it that is sure to be a conversation starter anywhere it is displayed. The models offer a challenge for the engineer-minded hobbyist seeking an experience different than almost anything they've tried before, while working with time honored STEM techniques to bring it all together.

UGEARS use ingenious methods of attaching each piece together that works almost flawlessly.

I say 'almost' because I ended up having some issues with the Tower Windmill, which I received for review.

One issue that I had was with the assembly instructions. It's just pictures. There are almost no words at all in the book.

While this made 99% of the assembly process a breeze, there were some points that I was confused by.

For example, they show a photo of sandpaper at several points in the process. But the grit on the photo and the grit of the sheet I actually received left me wondering if I had been shorted a few parts.

There was another section where they illustrate a disk of some sort with what appears to be a sharp wooden stick poking it. Then this stick was poking parts in the next picture.

Well, I later figured out, after skipping some of these steps, that the sandpaper was correct and the disk and stick were apparently wax that was to be applied to the model as a lubricant. What I received was a "natural" colored crayon (I think) and no stick. But it wasn't until part way through the build that I realized this, so my model ended up pretty darn squeaky in the end.  Written text or more clearly labeled parts and pictures would have helped prevent this.

To top it off, my model just doesn't work like they advertise.

There are a handful of videos floating around the internet showing the Windmill model functioning quite well.

You are supposed to twist the outer cage to load the rubber bands. Then flip the lock to let the model work. The outer cage is supposed to spin.

The gears on the inside are then supposed to transfer that motion to the blades.

My model does not work that way.

Now, while I understand that I put about half the model together without sanding or adding the wax lubricant, I also noticed that several of the pieces were cut slightly wrong.

On some of the parts the hole was not quite centered which meant the axle that was riding in it wasn't turning straight.

Some of these manufacturing defects were hard to detect without close inspection. Others were painfully obvious.  In either event, there is little to no way that I could work out that the model builder could have corrected these discrepancies after they were already in the middle of building it.

Taking into account the issues I ran into, I think if I attempted to do this model again I could make some corrections during assembly that would have this thing running just like it does in their videos. But should I have to?

For some users, the extra tweaking gives you the opportunity to locate, isolate, troubleshoot, and repair problems with the motion and alignment of the gears. For others, that might be a turn off.

I will say for sure that, in spite of the complications and less than perfect outcome, I thoroughly enjoyed putting this model together.

And the thing is a GREAT conversation piece considering the history behind the actual design and the fact that I put it together myself.

When it comes down to it, how much are most people really going to play with it anyway? We are happily displaying it even without making the windmill turn.

Over all, I think UGEARS has some fantastic potential and a wonderful idea and aesthetic here, but they need a little work when it comes to quality control and manufacturing of the kit, its instructions and its parts.

Would I buy more models from them? Absolutely.

But I will keep my eye on them and give it some time to see if they can iron out the process and maybe change up how they present the instructions based on whats actually in the box.

A little consistency can go a long way to making these a popular and interesting hobby for many people.

Check out UGEARS and everything they have to offer on their website and on social media.