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.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Tikel Gomen - Ethiopian Cabbage & Potatoes #eattheworld


On the 10th of each month, Cultureatz hosts the Eat the World Challenge, selecting one country each month to feature and share recipes from that country.  The first up for 2019 is Ethiopia!

Here in the DC area, we are fortunate to have several excellent Ethiopian restaurants where you can find Injera bread and a multitude of dishes brought out on a large communal platter to share, so while I always enjoy going out for Ethiopian food, I've never tried making any.

For my first try, then, I went for something simple and one of my favorites - Tikel Gomen, a cabbage, potato and carrot dish that is flavorful and savory.

This works as a meatless entree or a side and not only as part of an Ethiopian spread.

Tikel Gomen (Ethiopian Cabbage & Potatoes
Serves 4-6

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup ghee, butter or coconut oil
4 carrots, sliced thin
1 onion, minced
1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
5 Yukon potatoes, cubed
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Heat the olive and coconut oil in a stock pot, add carrots and onion and cook on medium until softened.

Stir in seasonings and cook for a minute until fragrant, then add the cabbage and cook another 20 minutes.  Taste for seasoning adjustments.

Add potatoes and broth, and bring to boil.  Lower to medium high and cover, letting simmer another half hour until potatoes are tender and the broth has cooked down.

Serve on the side with additional Ethiopian dishes, or with any other meat desired.

If you have access to Injera bread (a Teff-based porous sourdough flatbread), use bits of the Injera to scoop up the Tiki Gomen.


Check out all the wonderful Ethiopian dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld.

Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us! Next month is ENGLAND!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

WIPocolypse 2019 Kick-Off!

This is the first 2019 WIPocolypse post to track my progress on cross stitch  Works-in-Progress (WIPs).  WIPocolypse is an ongoing monthly link up, as well as a Facebook community, and is open for all sorts of crafty WIPs.

Each month, there is a question. This is the Kick-Off question:

Introduce yourself, your projects, and any goals you have for the year!

I'm Lynda and have been stitching since 1985.  My first project was a small kit (a teddy bear on a rocking horse) that  my best friend gave me when I was very pregnant and restless.  It was on 18ct Aida and included quarter stitches (what madness was that, kit maker??), but by the time I got through it, I was hooked.

As of right now, my plans for 2019 are to get  through as many of my carried over WIPs as possible, and to get  as far along as I can on my very first Mirabilia pattern.  I expect there will be a few new starts along the way, but for the most part I am setting a self imposed rule that there will be no new start until a WIP has been finished.  If I do well at this until May, I may go nuts on new starts for Stitch Maynia (another Facebook community for stitchers, that takes its name from an annual bit of insanity involving starting a new project a day for the month).

My other goal is to deal with my growing stack of finished projects and get them into frames or made into ornaments or whatever.

Finally, I really want to keep up with these monthly WIPocalypse updates, as well as posting to relevant Stitch Maynia SAL threads in Facebook.

Below is the format I plan to use for these monthly updates.  I am only sharing photos for projects I've worked on since the last update (or in this case, since the beginning of the year)

Finished this year/since last check in:

This tracks the temperature highs for each day in the Falls Church/Fairfax area of Virginia (we moved from one town to the other in 2018).  Every 5 degrees has its own color and each little 5x5 square area represents one day. The four outer borders represent the last four days of the year, so I'm really happy I managed to finish it on schedule!

She is Fierce / Stitchrovia (finished 1/7/19)
I did some color switch ups to make this a bit less pink, but I just finished it today (only 7 months later than planned).  This will be going to my four year old granddaughter, Penny, who is both little and fierce!

New Starts This Month:

Hocus Pocus / The Prairie Schooler (started 1/1)
I needed to start SOMETHING on the 1st of January and grabbed this more or less at random out of my bag future starts.  I'd planned to start the Mirabilia (below) but didn't get it basted onto the stretcher bars in time.

Mermaid of Atlantis / Mirabilia (started 1/2)
My order for the threads and beads and things for this is due to arrive today from 123Stitch.com, but I didn't want to wait - I had most of the needed colors for the seashell at the top center, so I began there.  This is the first project for my Mark II frame (Christmas present!!), and I can't wait to fully dive in.  The fabric is 28ct Monaco from Mystic Fabrics and is "Pumpkin Vines".

2019 Temperature SAL / Apricot Polkadot (started 1/6)
This is a different designer from last year's, but it fits the same space (5x5 squares spiraled around from the center over the course of the year).  I'm using the same colors for temperature ranges, but this year I am going to track Fairfax, VA LOWs.  I work on this once a week on Sundays, so this is current January 5.

Planned New Start before next check in:
Bouquet de Fleurs / Jardin Prive (planned start 1/19)

Worked on so far this year/since last check in:
2018 Temperature SAL
She is Fierce
Hocus Pocus
Mermaid of Atlantis
2019 Temperature
Leia Hope

Leia Hope / Stitchbucket

My current full WIP list (22):
2019 Temperature SAL / Apricot Polkadot (started 1/6)
7 Swans a Swimming / Satsuma Street
All My Scattering Moments / Stitcherhood
Alphabet Acorn / Cross-Eyed Cricket
Astrology / Peacock & Fig
Bride's Tree Orn - Home / Brooke's Books
Coffee Quaker / Heartstring Samplery
Hocus Pocus / Prairie Schooler (started 1/1)
If the Broom Fits / Lizzie*Kate
Leia Hope / Stitchbucket
M is For Mermaid / Prairie Schooler
Mermaid Fraktur / Plum Street Samplers
Mermaid of Atlantis / Mirabilia (started 1/2)
Mermaid Tales SAL / Peacock & Fig
Polly Wolly Doodle / La-D-Da
Pretty Little DC / Satsuma Street
Primitive Ouija Board / Cloud Factory
Splattered Paint Paw Print / Climbing Goat Designs
Springtime SAL (Warm) / Satsuma Street
Summer Ornament / Prairie Schooler
TARDIS Biscornu / Cloud Factory
Yellow Submarine / Blackbird Designs

Purchased Stash this Year So Far:
Mystic Fabric of the Month (Monthly Subscription): 28ct Monoco "Opal"
Bouquet de Fleurs / Jardin Prive
Threads/beads/etc for Bouquet de Fleurs and Mermaid of Atlantis

Intend to finish before next WIPocolypse Check In:
Splattered Paint Paw Print / Climbing Goat Designs
If the Broom Fits / Lizzie*Kate

Next check in: Jan 27
Next Topic: What SALs are you participating in this year?

See you then!

PS - it's also TUSAL time (the Totally Useless Stitch-A-Long) - every New Moon, we share our ort jar, where we collect our little snippets of thread.  There's a little bit in there but far more interesting is Sasha who is wondering why I just offered her a snack dish of threads.  Foolish human.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Cave Tools Marinade Meat Injector Kit (Review)


The first time I ever saw anyone inject a large cut of meat prior to cooking was at a summer cookout, where they were injecting, of all things, a giant turkey with barbecue sauce before letting it roast outside.   When I ate it, the experience was amazing - smoked meat with veins of barbecue sauce running through the meat, it was fall off the bone tender and flavorful in a way I'd never have thought possible for turkey.

Now, I've never done that - but it remains one of those shining food memories I still think about 25 years later.

I recently received the Cave Tools Marinade Meat Injector for review, and immediately thought about that turkey, so I knew what a difference injecting meats with flavor and fat can be.  I wasn't ready to try this on a turkey (although I definitely plan to with a turkey breast fairly soon), but I did have a nice beef tritips I wanted to do something interesting with.

Before I get to that, I want to tell you a bit about the Cave Tools Meat Injector. 

  • First of all, it is stainless steel.  I have seen and rejected buying injectors due to plastic parts that I was pretty sure would break when faced with the task of injecting into meat.
  • The area where your liquid goes is clear, sturdy plastic providing a window so that you can see how much marinade you have left.  Really important!
  • It comes with three needle tips, so it handles a multitude of needs, from a small one, to one that has multiple holes (for more liquidy insertions), and a wide mouthed ones for thicker sauces - or even for dessert making when you want to fill a doughnut or eclair!
  • The injector comes in a box with padded spaces for each part so that it stores neatly and safely until its next use. 
  • It breaks down completely into individual parts that are dishwasher-safe, and comes with extra o-rings in case of loss.
The directions ask that you oil (with food grade oil) the relevant parts prior to use, and I found that to be vital to using it easily - it creates a tight seal and suction that doesn't leak at all, but that did mean I had to work at it to get my marinade to inject into the meat.  

That was the only problem I had with it, and it had everything to do with my own inexperience with the process.  The second time I used it I had no issues at all.   

I wouldn't change a thing about this tool, and I now find myself actively seeking out ways to incorporate it into my meal preparation.  

Just know that you might have a short learning curve while you get a feel for it, and maybe experiment a bit with which needle best does what you're trying to do.

While I didn't want to risk my holiday turkey (which we didn't make until New Year's) trying to inject a marinade, I found the Cave Tools Marinade Meat Injector to be perfect for slipping some butter under the skin without needing to handle the bird too much, and I plan to do the same for skin on chicken and other smaller cuts as well.

Here's a recipe to get you started using the Cave Tools Marinade Meat Injector.  When you purchase, you'll also get a link to an ebook filled with more recipes that use Cave Tools products.

The bourbon provided an interesting and different flavor note to the meat that was a little earthy, a little spicy - however this is very versatile.  Feel free to swap it for wine, beer, brewed coffee or broth.  Each of these would provide interesting flavor notes to the meat!

Bourbon Butter Injected Tritip Beef
Serves 4

1 3 lb tritips beef roast

Injected Marinade:
2 Tblsp bourbon
2 Tblsp melted butter
1 Tblsp ground black pepper
1 tsp. 5 Spice Powder 

1 clove garlic, slivered (optional)
1 Tblsp sea salt
1 Tblsp coarsely ground pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

Olive oil

Remove meat from refrigerator a half hour before preparing and let rest.

Melt butter in a glass measuring cup in the microwave.  While warm, combine remaining marinade ingredients and whisk to combine.

Using large Cave Tools Meat Injector needle, draw marinade up into the injector,and inject in multiple places into your meat.  If desired, plug the holes left by the needle with slivered garlic.

Pat the meat generously on all sides with the rub and let rest while the oven preheats to 425F.

Using an oven safe large skillet (I like cast iron), sear the meat in olive oil on all sides.

Once browned, move skillet to the oven and roast 10-15 minutes per pound (at medium rare, an instant read thermometer will show 135F).  Remove from heat, tent with foil, and let rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.

We had this the first night sliced with a large salad.  The next night, I combined sliced leftover meat with a can of diced fire roasted tomatoes and green chiles to make a sort of swiss steak dish I served with noodles and roasted broccoli.

The Cave Tools Marinade Meat Injector Kit can be purchased on Amazon or directly from the Cave Tools website for $21.99.  If you use  the code Injector15 you'll get 15% off that price.

If you'd like, check out our previous Cave Tools reviews!