Friday, July 30, 2010

What Are You Learning This Summer?

Maybe it's a holdover from when my children were younger, but I love to take on a new challenge in the summer, and I encouraged them to do the same.  What better time than summer to take on a new hobby or learn a new skill, when supposedly 'the livin' is easy' and we have long stretches of daylight before us?  Unfortunately, being a creative type, I feel blessed, cursed, with so many interests that there's hardly enough time in the day to do them all. 

This summer I decided to take up crocheting after watching my mom whip up one Granny Square after another for a baby blanket that she was making for a church project.  People seem to whip through crochet projects at lightening speed, while I seem to plod along forever with my knitting.  If I'm out without my sketch book, it's always fun to have a yarn project with me. I can't people watch and read at the same time. My DD says that I'm latent ADHD!
What caught my interest was a magazine with Granny Squares on the cover.  I never had any interest in making Granny Squares, since they always looked so Granny-ish, but then I realized that will all the new colorful yarns on the market, that they didn't have to look like a relic from the 40's!  I used a cotton yarn called Samp'a from Holland, that's pretty and easy to work with.  
Actually, the colors are more of a lime green and turquoise than these photos suggest.  My goal is to make a throw with beach colors to fit my Shabby Chic beach theme:
If you're interested in learning to crochet, or if you just want to brush up on your skills, I really recommend this wonderful book called The Complete Guide to Crochet which you can order from Amazon. It's got step-by-step instructions, illustrations, and tons of photographs!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Make Your Own Salad Dressings

I was driving back from the beach the other night and I tuned into NPR's The Splendid Table  They were talking about salad dressings, and how expensive most store bought dressings are; not to mention, how fattening!  I recently found an article that showed one popular store brand's Ranch Dressing to have 160 calories for two tablespoons.  We all know that two tablespoons of dressing is nothing!  Soooo, I decided to shop for a cruet and find some dressing recipes that looked good and reasonably healthy.
Most of the recipes here can be stored for a week in the refrigerator.  If you add the herbs when you serve, instead of when you make, you could probably store for longer.  Here are a few of my favorites to just whisk together:

Creamy Italian

1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 c. low fat mayo
1/2 c.buttermilk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 dried basil
two finely diced garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste

whisk together and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator

Classic Vinaigrette

1/4 c. red or white wine vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced green onion
Fresh ground salt and pepper

Whisk and refrigerate for up to 3 days

Ranch Dressing

1/2 c Greek yogurt
1/3 c low fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons light mayo
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
1 finely chopped garlic
Fresh ground salt and pepper

whisk together and store

If you have a favorite homemade dressing, please share!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Everyone Loves A Parade

Over the 4th of July, we were at our favorite Manzanita Beach for the big parade.  Each year, the population of our little town swells from about 750 people to over 7,000.  It's a lot of fun to see all the entrees from dogs and kids on bikes, to floats on flatbed trucks,  This year, people really put some thought into their entrees.  Check out 'I Spy' and the Floating Jellyfish below.
We promised our neighbor, Gertie a ride in our 1943 Willy's Jeep.  DH had it restored a few years ago, and now it makes an occasional appearance at car shows and parades.  Gertie was excited, but a little embarrassed by all the fuss.  I made a sign "Gertie Smith, The Belle of Nehalem, 95 Years Young!" People clapped and called out greetings to her as she rode along the parade route.  Later, she joked "I should have put my phone number on that sign!" How great is that? When I grow up, I want to have an attitude like Gertie's.  She has a love of life and a understanding of what's important in life.  Gertie is shown with DH, who is driving, and his brother, Dave, chief co-pilot and candy thrower. 
Several neighborhoods came out in full force with parade entrees.  Here are a few of my favorites:
Mom and I and the dogs, Lulu and Molly watched from the sidelines, appreciating the fact that the route was two blocks longer this year.
More parade shots: The Garlic Girls
A Happy Dog
and a sense of fun!