This past week: a little o' this and a little o' that. Sewing a bit, knitting a bit, hand-sewing a bit, cooking a bit, just like I wanted. The weather has been so beautiful that everyone in Portland is just pretty much walking around in a haze of delight. This — this lovely, warm, sunny, crunchy, very colorful, very beautiful month — is just not what we usually get, for autumn. Usually, just as the leaves turn October-pretty, we get them for one day. And then the next day we'll have a huge rainstorm and everything will get knocked off the trees. And then everyone will rake all of the leaves in the pouring rain, and the city will come and collect them in the rain, and then that's winter. This picture-postcard autumn — well, everyone, all over town, is smiling. It makes such a difference.
I made Mimi a little lamb from a pattern in the book I Love Patchwork for her birthday. Her name is Heather. We all love her. It was really fun to make her. I embroidered a panel on the back of her skirt with a special message and the date. It reminded me that I had a stuffed Winnie the Pooh from about birth until I was about in high school. Maybe I even took him to college, I can't remember. I took him with me to horse camp at Culver Military Academy in Indiana. My third year there, I was probably fourteen or fifteen. I was roommates that year with both my first-year roommate and my second-year roommate. We had a triple dorm room on the third floor. My two roommates were as different as night and day. One was a teen beauty-pageant queen from a little town in Michigan. The other one was street-smart and edgy and snuck out every night to smoke pot with her secret boyfriend (who I would later meet again many years later when he was, totally coincidentally, dating a [different] friend of mine at our college). I loved bothmy roommates. They didn't like each other at all. The only thing they did enjoy doing together was taking my Winnie the Pooh and hurling him out the window into the quad. I would be screaming with laughter, and have to run all the way down three flights of stairs to get him before someone picked him up, and then I'd have to run back into the dorm so no one would see me with my bear. And then the girls would wait until I'd forget about Winnie for a minute, or one would distract me with talk of trail rides and hoof picks, and the other one would grab him and throw him back out the window. And everything would start again. They could not believe I still had a stuffed animal. We would be laughing so hard we couldn't talk, and I could barely run. They must have thrown him out the window twenty-five times. I was exhausted. There was nowhere I could hide him that they wouldn't find him. That bear was so threadbare and gross it didn't even look like a bear. It looked like a hairball. Which was part of the reason for all of the screaming as the bear got tossed around — no one but me actually wanted to touch him. But I really loved him. And it made me happy to see the girls getting along for any reason. To this day it sticks out in my mind as one of the funniest things that ever happened to me. The other thing I remember is saying to the beauty queen one time, "Don't you hate it when you go somewhere and you're totally wearing the wrong thing?" And she said, quite sincerely, "No. That never happens to me. I'm always wearing the right thing." Hah! Awesome! You go girl!
Okay, what else. Mimi's sweater coat. Thank you for the advice on lining the coat! It turned out that it wasn't bad at all! I laid the sweater out on the fabric and cut each shape (back, two fronts, two sleeves, hood) out with a generous 3/4" seam allowance. Then I sewed everything up with 1/2" seams. So there was plenty of ease and it just went in like a glove. I stitched the lining in, all the way to the edges, by hand, and then did the buttonholes in the lining just behind the knitted buttonholes by hand as well. I should have taken a photo of that. I'll do that. I'll get a picture of her wearing it, too. It's pretty darn cute, and now she has a cozy winter sweater. Happy! And proud. It was a pretty big project, actually!
What else. Sausage-kale soup! It was DELICIOUS! Better than the Olive Garden ;)! The recipe is here. My friend Sarah convinced me that I needed to make better use of my food boards on my Pinterest. I just had one food board at the time. When I went to take her advice and reorganize it, everything I had pinned to the board was either 1) a sweet, 2) a curry, or 3) a fish taco. Everything. That's pretty much all I had pinned. Sugar, curry, and fish tacos. Oh-kay. No wonder I never know what to eat for dinner. So I am determined to do better with this. I really think it will make life so much easier because I enjoy cooking but I am mostly pathetic at figuring out what to make. It's like my mind just blanks the moment I have to decide. It's really unfortunate. I've created a few more food boards now and I really do need to take the time to add more things to it because in the long run I think it will be a fun thing that will actually make life easier, too.
I did use the Pinterest boards to try to find another black bean soup recipe and then wound up making up one of my own. We baked the no-knead Dutch oven bread to go with it. And it was a very nice weekend fall dinner, if I do say so myself. With some butter and honey on that bread, aw yeah.
Black Bean Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 teaspoons Mexican seasoning
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 14-ounce cans of black beans, with their liquid
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon chipotle pepper sauce
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 pound broiled shrimp (toss them with some olive oil, Mexican seasoning, and salt and pepper and put them under the broiler for a few minutes, under pink), cut into bite-sized pieces
Sour cream with a little chipotle sauce stirred in
In a large soup pot, saute the jalapeno, onion, and carrots in the oil for ten minutes or so until soft. Add spices and garlic and saute for another minute. Add the black beans in their liquid, the stock, the chipotle sauce, and the molasses. Bring to a boil then turn soup down to a simmer and let simmer for 30 minutes, more if you like your beans softer (I do). Garnish with broiled shrimp and sour cream. Not bad.