Monday, December 31, 2018

WIPocalypse - a Stitchy Year End Review


I was terrible this year about regularly showing off my stitchery - but I thought I'd participate in the last WIPocalypse of the year and recommit to (trying) to participate in the monthly updates in 2019.

For this last day of the year, I want to share what I actually got finished in 2019.  Apart from these, there are over 20 WIPs (works-in-progress) currently underway and at least a dozen from before 2018 that are finished but still need to be framed or turned into ornaments/pillows/etc.  I want 2019 to be the year when I get all that done!

So here's what I got finished in 2018:

I wish I could recall who did this little blackwork bird - I think it may have been from one of the British magazines?  This was a nice fast stitch up that started off my year back in January.

Rotted But Not Forgotted
Plum Creek Designs.  
This was in a Halloween issue of Just Cross Stitch.

These were a pair of Music Man inspired quickies I designed and stitched. You can read a post about these here.

The WitchyStitcher

Hot Cocoa
(This was from a hand out Sullivan's put out a few years ago. Sullivans threads replaced with DMC equivalents)

Carolyn Manning
Just Cross Stitch Christmas Issue 2017

Not a Creature
Frosted Pumpkin
Just Cross Stitch Christmas Issue 2016

Rabbit Biscornu
Floss Box
I still need to stitch a square backstitch frame around these so I can stitch them together as a biscornu.

Salem Bay Mermaid

Guardians of the Sea

Poppy Biscornu
Nataliya Salunina

Daily Sampler, designed by me. I worked it with random scraps of threads from my stash over about a year and a half (one triangle a day).

Le Corbeau

Mother of Exiles
From a magazine (unknown which) - I added the text.

Steotchalong 6
I chose a Welcome to Night Vale theme!

Holiday Magick

Witch Fairies
Lucie Heaton
Just CrossStitch Halloween 2017

I'm annoyed at how many I no longer know the source of! That's one goal for 2019 - keep better records!

Before I end this, I want to show off my Christmas present from my husband this year - this is a Hearthside Craftworks Mark II frame, handcrafted from oak.  Isn't she beautiful??  Tomorrow I'll start off the new year with a new start on this frame.  I can't wait!

WIPocalypse is a long running casual monthly casual Stitch-a-Long hosted by Measi to show off monthly progress on WIPs.  They also have a Facebook page and you don't need a website to share your stitchery there.  The 2019 Kick off post will be January 9, with monthly check ins on the last Sunday of each month.

If you'd like to see what other folks are sharing, stop in here to see the link up!

Meanwhile, here is my TUSAL (Totally Useless Stitchalong) jar for 2018 - these are the leftover snips of thread for all the stitching I did in 2018:

Saturday, December 29, 2018

K9 Bath Buddy (Review/Giveaway)


In 2011, our family adopted a scared stray terrier mix dog who had been found wandering in the desert streets of Apple Valley, California. He had burns on his paws from walking on the scorching pavement. He was a little skittish at first but warmed up to us quickly. Augustus, as he is named, is by breed a very smelly dog. He needs regular baths to keep the dog funk down.

He does not like baths at all, nor does he tolerate professional grooming. I assume there is some trauma there. We have been struggling through bath time with Gus for 7 years now.

A few weeks ago, we received an interesting product to try out that claims to make bath time less stressful for doggos.

The K9 Bath Buddy is an adorably designed, silicone paw with a super strong suction cup that is used to attach it to the side of a bath-tub, shower stall or wall.

The surface of the paw can be coated with a tantalizing treat for dogs, such as natural peanut butter or something similar. The idea being that your dog will be so focused on the treat that they will hardly notice bath time fears at all.

The product began with two people and a very successful Kickstarter campaign and is now sold on Amazon, currently priced at $13.89 each.

So, onto our experience.

This is actually a really great product. It's fairly large in size, bigger than my whole hand. It has an indented surface with a few nooks a crannies to hold in the treat. We used all natural peanut butter and really only used about a teaspoon or two, spread thinly all over the surface.

We popped it onto the side of our tub and decided to test it out on the less nervous of our two dogs.

Achilles is generally really good in the bath so this was just an added bonus for him. He LOVED it. He spent the whole bath concentrating on one section of the Bath Buddy, making sure to get it completely cleaned of peanut butter.

Next up was nervous Augustus. While we had been bathing Achilles, Gus had gone to hide in his kennel and refused to come out. We had to coax him out with a little peanut butter on a spoon. Once we got him into the tub, he seemed interested in the K9 Bath Buddy but also unsure about the whole thing.

Bath time seemed to go faster than normal and there was certainly less shaking and whining from either dog.

Overall, I think its a great product and I can see it being really useful in grooming salons, veterinarian offices, shelters, as well as in home use. It wasn't a cure for bath fears for our dog, but it definitely helped.

Clean up was also very easy. Just rinse the K9 Bath Buddy and pop it in the top shelf of your dishwasher. The heavy duty silicone seems like it will literally last forever.

Two more of our writers were also given the opportunity to try the K9 Bath Buddy:

Lynda writes:

"We bathe Sasha in the kitchen sink, and I was a little concerned that the K9 Bath Buddy might be too large to fit well inside it - but it fit fine.

I like how well that large suction cup worked to keep it in place! We used some bacon-flavored squeeze cheese meant for dogs and squirted a few dabs on it.

Sasha is a good bather - she enjoyed the added element of having a treat although she was a bit confused about why it was happening during bath-time!

I can see how this might be very helpful for a dog that resists bathing and tries to escape the area.

My initial thought was that a smaller size for smaller dogs would be useful, but after seeing it in use, I have changed my mind on that - the larger size makes it easier for the dog to get to it and use it without a lot of extra movement.

I would recommend this to any dog owner needing a little extra help at bathing time."

Jessica writes:

"Gregor is not the best bather. He doesn't run from a bath, but he definitely does not like them. Getting my large dog into a bathtub is always hit or miss, and I often have to just bring him into the small shower cubicle in order to get the muttface clean.

When I got the K9 Bath Buddy, I really hoped that this would help at the very least get him into the bathtub, as lifting an 80 lb dog is not something I enjoy! Boy, am I glad for the help of the K9 Bath Buddy!

After showing Gregor that it was full of one of his favorite treats (crunchy peanut butter!!), I was able to lure the unsuspecting pooch into the bathtub!

While he mostly ignored the K9 Bath Buddy while being bathed, choosing instead to give me condemning glares, it was a great treat for after the ordeal.

Gregor may never be a great bather, but I can now get him into the bathtub and I no longer need to clean the pup in a cramped stall!"

The friendly folks at K9 Bath Buddy would like to giveaway a K9 Bath Buddy to one of our readers. Up for grabs is One K9 Bath Buddy, valued at $19.99, available to ship to US and APO addresses.  Read on to see how you can enter to win!

One winner in the US (including APO) will win a K9 Bath Buddy (value $19.99).
This Giveaway ends at just before midnight ET January 12, 2019.

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Giveaway Tools Entry Form below. This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning. (If you don't leave a comment, any additional entries will be void.)

The winner will be notified by email 24 to 48 hours after the end of the giveaway by email. In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 24 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected.
 Good luck!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

ChoriPollo (Chorizo & Chicken with Queso)


I can't recall for sure where I first had this dish, but I think it was at Los Domingos in Barstow California about five years ago. We then moved to Germany for the last three years, and sadly, there was NO decent Mexican food anywhere around.

I have now been back in America for about a month and a half and I have already devoured this twice at what is quickly becoming a local favorite spot.

Last night, while looking at the wonderful Latin-American staples I had stocked our new fridge with - all things I've missed terribly over the last few years - I realized I had everything I needed to attempt ChoriPollo at home!

It turns out that this dish is very easy for the home cook to make - and it only takes four ingredients plus seasoning!

Serves 6

Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts (I used about 8 tenderloins)
salt, pepper, garlic powder, to taste
1lb Pork Chorizo (Cacique is my favorite brand)
1 cup shredded/chunked Oaxaca cheese *
1 cup shredded/chunked Queso Fresca *

*use more or less of either cheese for desired goopiness. Oaxaca stays pretty goopy like mozarrella, while Queso Fresca gives you a more liquidy cheese experience with curds.

Liberally season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Cook chicken however you please - once cooked, it will be chopped or shredded. I use my Instant pot by pouring in one cup of water, and laying thawed chicken on a trivet above the water. Cook on High for 12 minutes, quick release steam. Remove chicken and set aside.

Slit open the tube of chorizo, and place loose meat in a skillet. (You don't need to add extra fat, as there will be plenty. Cook chorizo, stirring frequently, until fully cooked.  The meat is seasoned with red spices, so keep an eye for the chorizo to be fully browned, but be aware that it will continue to have a red hue and be very wet,like a meat sauce.

After slicing, shredding, or pulling apart chunks of the chicken, layer chicken in a casserole dish.

Add cooked chorizo to chicken and mix to coat.

Cover the top of the casserole dish completely in cheeses.

Bake in a 375° oven for 15 minutes, until heated through and the cheese is melted.

Stir the melted cheese into the chicken mixture and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until cheese is fully melted.

Let sit for about five minutes after removing from oven.

Enjoy with sides of your choice and warmed tortillas!  Refried beans, Mexican rice and some guacamole would make this a classic restaurant style combo plate.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Party in Your PJs! #239 - Appliance Cooking


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

We've decided to take the next couple of weeks off for the holidays, so please join us at Party in Your PJs on January 8, 2019 when we return.  In the meantime, may your holidays be happy and the new year full of joy!

 Meet the Co-Hosts

Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Lynda's Features!

This time of year can really be crunched for time - a few carefully selected meals made with your slow cooker or pressure cooker can really make life easier! 

 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 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.

Review and Giveaway: Gramma in a Box


Gramma. For me, just the word conjures up images of comforting old women and the enticing smell of something baking in the kitchen. My grandma always has a freezer in the basement full of cookies and other baked goods that she insists we bring home every time we visit. Holidays meant that her kitchen counters would be packed full of freshly made cookies, waiting to be enjoyed. And if you came over while she was baking, you got to help!

These were always fond memories for me, and while most of my dozen cousins can still enjoy going to Grandma's house, I now live 2,000 miles away (well, 1,965, but who's counting?). I have to say, especially around this time of year, I miss going to Grandma's.

I have found one way to help combat the lack of Grandma, and that is Gramma in a Box. Gramma in a Box is a monthly subscription box that delivers all the things you need to make up to 20 cookie and candy treats. This means that the cookies, frosting, sprinkles, and nearly all the little bits you need to make them are included, usually with a seasonally appropriate theme!

Gramma in a Box is $20/month if you are only ordering on a month to month basis, but offers a few ways to save some for a reoccurring delivery.

I was fortunate enough to receive the December box for review, and to make up a few delicious holiday treats with my kids.

The festively decorated box arrived and I have to admit, I loved the stickers that covered the outside of the package! It even contained a helpful “best by” sticker, as well as a reminder to put the box in the fridge if you aren't using it right away.

Inside the well packed box was a card outlining the projects, individual detailed project cards which include ingredients lists on the backs, a contents list, crushed peppermints, candy canes, three different kinds of sprinkles, three colors of frosting, melting chocolate, marshmallows, red hots, cornflakes, and cookies, as well as a couple sheets of parchment paper to help contain messes and paper cups for the wreath treats.

It was a lot of stuff tetrised neatly into the box, and I was actually impressed by how well it all fit.  Nothing arrived crushed or crumpled.

The three treats to be made in this month's box were Hot Chocolate Treats, Holly Wreaths, and Winter Cookies.

The Hot Chocolate Treats and Holly Wreaths had you melt the chocolate wafers in a microwave in the directions, but I don't have a microwave and haven't for years, so I did it the old fashioned way and melted it in a double boiler rig using a small pot and a heat safe bowl on the stove top.

Being a grown woman who has lots of experience baking and creating in the kitchen, none of these projects took me more than 5 minutes after I got the chocolate melted.

Once you include children in the mix, as I did with my son for some of the cookies when he got home from school that day, it might have taken longer, but still a short enough time to hold their interest.

Even though the treats didn't take long to make (thanks to everything having been prepped), I still had lots of fun putting them together.

The cookies come pre-baked, making this a decoration project with no time needed to mix, bake and cool the cookies.

I actually appreciated that I didn't have to measure out ingredients or worry about baking the cookies, especially when kids are in the mix! It was really nice to have everything at hand; they really mean it when they say “Gramma does all the work. You have all the fun!”.

Not only were these goodies fun to make, they tasted great too! I had to have a plate of yummies after I finished making them, complete with some hot cocoa!

Gramma in a Box is really a fun little box that kids of all ages can enjoy making and eating!  Gramma in a Box is letting us give away a January box to one of our readers in the US - it goes out on Jan 3rd, just in time to be waiting for you on that inevitable first snow day after the kids go back to school.

Read on to see how you can enter to win!

One winner in the US will win the January Gramma in a Box (value $20.00).
This Giveaway ends at just before midnight ET December 30, 2018

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Giveaway Tools Entry Form below. This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning. (If you don't leave a comment, any additional entries will be void.)

The winner will be notified by email 24 to 48 hours after the end of the giveaway by email. In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 24 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected.

Good luck!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Review: Gravity Chopsticks

1 comment:

If you've ever eaten with chopsticks, you know that you have to have somewhere to rest them between courses or in lulls of eating, especially if you're someone like me, who likes to talk with their hands, and you don't want to be waving around your utensils in conversation.

The traditional answer is chopstick rests, but unfortunately, not everyone has them and sometimes there just isn't enough room to rest them on the side of your plate. When this happens, you usually have to find a napkin or something as a buffer between your chopsticks and the table to keep things sanitary.

Gravity Chopsticks is a company that seeks to fix this predicament. With their innovative chopstick design, the eating tips of the chopsticks are suspended in the air when they are laid down on the table.

These sticks are made of a BPA free thermoplastic which means that they are both dishwasher safe and heat resistant for cooking. They are also slightly texturized, which helps with getting a good grip.

Currently, they come in two different colors: black, which start at $5.95, and a limited edition red, which starts at $7.95. They also offer two different case options for storing and carrying around the chopsticks: black velvet sleeves for $3.00 and a hard carry case for $29.95. The hard carry case is currently out of stock at the time of writing.

I was able to try out four pairs of Gravity Chopsticks, two black and two limited edition red. I really appreciated the texture on them, as I find that some of the chopsticks that I've used before were simply too slippery to really use.

The squared design of the chopsticks was also really nice, because that meant that they didn't just go rolling off the table when they were set down.

While most chopsticks have a continual taper along the entire stick, these achieve their suspension by having an abrupt change of width in the middle of the chopstick. This didn't present any problems for the Mister or a couple of friends who used them, but for me, I had a slight learning curve because that abrupt change is exactly where I usually hold my chopsticks.

It didn't take long though, and I was holding them a bit further back and using them with no problem.

The clearance between chopstick and surface is only a couple of millimeters, so you do have to make sure there are no food particles or saucy goodness on your sticks before setting them down, or you will more than likely have contact with the surface of the table.

While I was able to use the chopsticks to saute some onions and garlic for my ramen, I was not able to test out how well they would handle being put through a dishwasher because my dishwasher's utensil basket's grid is too big, and the sticks fall right through.

I can't see how they would not hold up to it machine washing, though, as they did a great job when I cooked with them on the stovetop.

I love these chopsticks, and I find myself reaching for them over my old sticks constantly. I keep a set in my lunchbox for work and the Mister has even requested a pair to take with him to Korea! Gravity Chopsticks have a simple, elegant design that works!