Sunday, February 28, 2010

H(app)y Days - Everyday Food App!

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! Boy, was I happy to find out there's an iPod Touch/iPhone app for MarthaStewart's Everyday Food! Definitely well worth the 99 cents. It will even "push" the recipe of the day to your home screen. You do need to be connected to the Internet to enable the recipe search function.
Here's a link so you can grab yours, too!

Free Amy Butler Patterns - Updated Post

Last year, before Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion magazine and website folded, she had a link to free Amy Butler patterns. I mentioned it in my January 3, 2009 post.

I've been noticing my blog gets quite a few Google hits looking for "Free Amy Butler Patterns" and just checked the links, only to discover they are no longer active.

However, I did find a current link for 22 (!) free Amy Butler patterns and would like to update my blog to include them. Hopefully everyone will get redirected to the new site. And do it now, before these disappear, too.

Sexy Hexy Love Quilt - updated instructions!
Sash with Beaded Fringe (from Amy's book, In Stitches)

Thanks for reading, and I hope you plan a return visit back to The House of Kent!

My daffodils are blooming!

The first daffodils of spring! The wall background is Sherwin-Williams "Reflection" (SW2122). We used it in the Master Bathroom update last fall. I love this gray-blue color, it goes with everything...even daffodils!

Dark Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Peeps!

Happy Easter, indeed! These are just yummy! New for Easter 2010 (I heard there's also a milk chocolate version), I like them even better than Hershey's chocolate covered marshmallow eggs. The dark chocolate is rich and the marshmallow puffy and creamy. 79 cents at Walgreens.

Coming in at 120 calories, 3g fat (2g sat fat), 0g trans fat, 5 mg sodium, 21g total carb, 11g sugar...but Iron weighs in at 6% Daily Value!

Thank goodness, one's enough to satisfy. But I want to see lots in my Easter basket!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Keeps Getting Better -- Vogue 1164 - Versions 2 and 3

Can't stop making Sandra Betzina's Today's Fit Vogue 1164! (click for the first one)
"Berry Angora Cerebral" knit from High Fashion Fabrics, Houston. So soft!
(The snow leopard velour knit was the end of another bolt at High Fashion Fabrics. )

and the 4th one is on the runway cutting table..."Fushia Rae" pleated knit, also from High Fashion Fabrics. I hope to make it this weekend.
The slightly raised waistline closure makes me feel and look slimmer in the middle. And I love being able to showcase a cool button, too!
Then I think I may be done with View A and this cold weather. Can't wait to make a gazillion short-sleeved View B versions. It will be warmer here soon enough.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Made in (Houston) Texas

It is always a pleasant surprise to discover something you like is actually made in the USA, better if in Texas and best right here in Houston!
I bought this Seidio Innocase protective case for my new Blackberry Curve 8520 at Best Buy. The color is called "Rose Pink," a pretty pearlescent pink-violet. Because of selling rack real estate space limitations, Best Buy only has one color for each BlackBerry model and other "smart phones." I lucked out with my model's color. However, online you can select different colors and more accessories. (And, as I discovered when I found my link, $5 cheaper. Oh well.) I like how it feels - I think they call it "soft touch" And I like how it snap-fits all around, including the section separating the screen from the keyboard. That little bumper helps protect the screen from scratching. Though I did notice they also sell the screen protectors at a much more affordable price than what are in the stores. I'll have to grab one of those, too. It's not just a phone, but a lifestyle!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

McCalls 4 for $5 Pattern Sale at Hancock

February 25-28 - 4 for $5 McCalls patterns

The in-store Hancock Spring Savings Sale also has 50% off buttons and notions this weekend.

Their email I received today has a link to a printable, barcoded 40% off regular priced fabric coupon, good February 25-March 7. You need to sign up on their webpage to get the coupon, if not this one, for the future ones!

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Tazo Organic Apple Red -Herbal Infusion-

Cost: $3.59 at Super Target
Number of teabags: 20 paper-wrapped "Filterbags"
Caffeine: No
Type of tea: Herbal
Steeping time: 5 minutes
Double-Dipping potential: Yes, 6 minutes Not that noticeable loss of flavor
Mix ins: A little bit of sugar. I tried honey the first time, thinking it would bring out the caramel - patooey! Dumped that down the drain.
Teabag fragrance: Sweet apple
Ingredients: African Rooibos, cinnamon, natural flavors, apple and chamomile
Taste: Like buttery apple cider. Not overly sweet or cinnamon-y
Opinion: Pretty caramel-red color. The more I drink it, the more I like it. Definitely a contender for iced in the summer. Soothing warm. I would buy this again.
Rating: 4 teabags

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cool! One of those things you don't think you need, but glad you have it...

My treadmill "warm-up" usually includes 5 minutes trying to untangle my iPod earphones. Now I can burn more calories because of this nifty gee-gaw from Levenger --

Genius, slap-upside-the-head, why-didn't-I-think-of-that?! There's a little snap on the underside. I can use the clip to attach to my key ring so I don't lose it while working out. I'm sure one could easily figure out and make their own version, but hubby needed a Valentine's Day gifty for me and this fit the bill perfectly. It's red and helps keep our hearts in good working order. Less time in the locker area, more time on the treadmill.

Levenger "Pocquettes" Earbud Holder

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cooking Light - Maple-Mustard Pork Chops

Action photo! ---------->

This recipe by Ellie Krieger is featured on the cover of Cooking Light magazine's March issue. (page 132)

It is difficult to find frozen butternut squash in this part of the country, so I cooked a sweet potato instead. Still colorful orange, still tasty. I liked adding the touch of maple syrup (1 1/2 teaspoons) and butter (1 tablespoon) to it. Add enough of the 1/3 cup of chicken broth so it doesn't get too watery.
Per usual for Cooking Light recipes, the slightly off-beat ingredients create a flavorful combination. I really liked the sauce, though I think next time I may cut back a little on the Dijon mustard. It also tasted good, even cold, the next day for lunch. We will definitely be adding this into rotation.
4 (6 ounce) bone-in, center-cut pork chops
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons finely-chopped shallots (used 1 tablespoon)
1/4 cup fat free, less sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (omitted)
Sprinkle both sides of pork with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until cooked through, but with a slight blushin the center. Remove from pan; keep warm.
Return pan to medium-high heat. Add butter to pan, swirling pan to coat. Add shallots; saute' 3 minutes or until tender and translucent. Add broth; bring to a boil and cook 1 minute. Stir in mustard, syrup and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute or until slightly thick. Return pork to pan. Cook pork 1 minute on each side or until thoroughly heated (be careful not to overcook pork). Serve each pork chop with 1 tablespoon sauce. Garnish each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cooking Light - Chocolate-Cherry Heart Smart Cookies

- From the January/February 2010 Cooking Light issue on page 190.

Instead of the 3 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate, I used 3 ounces of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate. And for the cherries, Stoneridge Orchards Montmorency Dried Cherries. Both are from Costco, so they are super big and delicious! I also weighed the flours.

I learned this from a friend of mine whose German born and raised mom was an excellent baker. She used the Burda recipes and if you remember, the older Burda' World of Fashion magazines had recipes with ingredients using weight measurements, not volume. There is a difference. And I believe the success of this recipe was because I used my scale.

I was able to squeeze out 40 cookies by making them slightly smaller. (Then you don't feel as guilty when you sneak an extra one!)

They definitely made our family favorite cookie recipe team -- Give them a try!

1.5 ounces (1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
1.5 ounces (1/3 cup) whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup dried cherries
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat; add brown sugar, stirring until smooth. Add sugar mixture to flour mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add cherries, vanilla, and egg; beat until combined. Fold in chocolate.
Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Cool on pans 3 minutes or until almost firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks. Makes about 30 cookies depending on the size.

Netflix Stars - Serious Moonlight

2.5, 2.0, 1.75.../5 - Quirky, HATED the ending! Funny-sorta. But bizarre would be an understatement. Really, the more I think about it, the lower the star number falls. L and I even watched the last part with the commentary on, trying to figure out the ending. It didn't help. Put it in your queue only if you, too, want to look around your living room/viewing area and say aloud, "What the...?!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Netflix Stars - Couples Retreat

2.25/5 stars - An ensemble romantic (?!) comedy that kind of sputters along. Some funny scenes, most not. There were some sexual situations which were not really necessary and a little awkward to watch with a teenage daughter - and this movie had a PG-13 rating! At least there's the beautiful Bora-Bora scenery...

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Tazo Berryblossom White Tea
(The Tazo website is interesting, but a bit difficult to navigate, therefore I don't have a direct link)

Cost: $3.59 at Super Target
Number of teabags: 20, paper-wrapped
Caffeine: Yes
Type of tea: White
Steeping time: 3 minutes
Double-Dipping potential: Yes, 6 minutes it is a bit weaker but still drinkable.
Mix ins: A little bit of honey
Teabag fragrance: Faint blueberry
Ingredients: White tea, natural blueberry flavor and natural cranberry flavor
Taste: Interesting--the blueberry flavor alternates with the cranberry flavor.
Even the box says, " may be surprised by the dazzling notes of blueberries and white cranberries. If this caught you off-guard, try another sip and see if it happens again."
Opinion: Can't wait to try this as iced tea, too! Even the box is pretty. I would definitely buy this again.
Rating: 4.5 teabags

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

3-Day Sale - February 26/28

McCall's $1.99
Vogue $3.99
50% off Olfa
50% off all buttons

March 4/6 - Butterick 99 cents

(Photo collage by Karen Ross Smith of Junk in My Trunk)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

This week, Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chai Tea

Cost: $2.99 at Super Target and Whole Foods (on sale)
Number of teabags: 20
Caffeine: Yes
Type of tea: White and black
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes
Double-Dipping potential: Yes, go the extra two minutes
Mix ins: Honey (of course!) and milk.
Teabag fragrance: Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, honey
Ingredients: White tea, black tea, roasted chicory, cinnamon, natural honey and vanilla flavors with other natural flavors, ginger, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, nutmeg and honey.
Taste: HONEY! Then cinnamon with a bit of bite, yet still very smooth.
Opinion: Another Celestial Seasonings Chai winner. I like them better than the other Chai's I've tried because they are not too peppery and strongly spiced. If you need something sweet and comforting and you love honey, make a mug or two of this.
Rating: 4 teabags

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Free Valentine's Love Songs download from Amazon

Google "Amazon Free Valentine's Day Playlist" for the link to these songs --

When We're Apart by The Morning Benders...To Feel Love by Butterfly Boucher ....For You by Peter Bradley Adams....40 Dogs (Like Romeo And Juliet) by Bob Schneider...Don't Do Anything by Sam Phillips...I Love You Baby by Aldo Vanucci

There are actually seven songs, the missing one is Craig Toungate's "Can You Feel the Love Tonight." (I can't stand that song) And honestly, I haven't listened to any of them yet, nor have I heard of these artists. But free is free and worth a check out!

And during this Valentine season can I say again how much I love Amazon's MP3 Player downloader? Easy-peasy, it downloads and puts the songs right into your iTunes library automatically. In the past, I have been able to take advantage of Amazon's special promotions of new music CD's (Lyle Lovett, Susan Boyle) for $3 or even free.

The Valentine's music offer is good until February 15.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Vogue 2989 - View D Skirt

Vogue 2989 is now out-of-print, but I was able to find it for only $1 in High Fashion Fabrics's discontinued patterns table last weekend. The View D skirt caught my eye. You hardly notice it in the pattern photo, but you can definitely see the stylishness in the line drawing --

I was glad I checked the reviews of this cute skirt first (thank you, Sharon!) -- so I knew I would definitely have to lengthen (4 1/2 inches to reach a finished 25" length!) and probably go up a size. But it was well worth the extra steps, as I have already made this skirt twice!

Here's the first version, a plaid double-knit from the stash, originally a $1/yard Wal-Mart wonder. Not enough stretch for a top (alas, I tried), but just enough for this skirt.

The second one is a nice double-knit ("Black Sophia Double Knit") from High Fashion Fabrics in Houston.

It sews together so quickly, just two pleats on the offset center front seam, sides seams and what I call the Kwik Sew method elastic waistband - serge-attaching the elastic to the inside of the waistband, folding over and topstitching. You are done and out the sewing room door in less than one hour.
With the extra length (and width) needed, the modified yardage is now 1 3/4 yards for 60" (actually 1 1/2, but with knits I usually get a little extra in case of shrinkage and layout options) ...and 2 1/4 yards for 45" I'm hoping to try it in a woven with a little Lycra. Wouldn't this make a cute summer skirt?
A fashionable bonus alternative wearing this skirt -- move the pleated front seam to the side! It looks nicer and less busy in the front when I wear it with the Sandra Betzina 1164 top.

As this pattern was just recently discontinued, you may still be able to find this online or in your pattern stash. I love discovering and sewing hidden gems in these wardrobe patterns!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Puppy Bowl VI

Tomorrow, starting at 3:00 Eastern/2:00 Central, tune into the Animal Planet Channel for Puppy Bowl VI. New this year are Bunny Cheerleaders! And don't forget the Kitty Halftime Show, Water Bowl Cam and the Hamster Commentaries. Which of the 20 puppies will become the MVP? (Most Valuable Puppy)

Today's Costco Find

Kirkland Organic Instant Oatmeal is back! With more packets and more flavors -- 7 Original...16 Maple Syrup...12 Apples & Cinnamon...10 Cinnamon Roll...10 Chocolate Chip -- 55 in all for $9.99
Each packet has 3g of fiber.
Original - 110 calories, 80 mg sodium, 1g sugar, 4g protein
Maple Syrup - 160 calories, 140 mg sodium, 10g sugar, 5g protein
Apples & Cinnamon - 130 calories, 160 mg sodium, 11g sugar, 4g protein
Cinnamon Roll - 160 calories, 140 mg sodium, 10g sugar, 5g protein
Chocolate Chip - 170 calories, 140 mg sodium, 12g sugar, 5g protein
Available for a limited time. Stock up (this box is good until July 2011) to hold you over until it reappears in the warehouses next winter.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Cooking Light - Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole - another winner from the January/February 2010 issue of Cooking Light on page 98. (I'm going to try the Chocolate-Cherry Heart Smart Cookies next!)

I added a drained can of mushrooms and used Seasoned Pepper instead of regular pepper. I also cut back a bit on the frozen peas, as all I could find were "petite peas" and a little went a long way! Instead of chopping the carrot, I sliced into circles.
Typical of most Cooking Light recipes, a lot of "mise en place" prep work and dishes were involved. But it definitely helps, as once you get started, things fall into place and order rather quickly. There isn't any time to stop and measure along the way.

The sauce was tasty and exceptional -- we loved the combination of cream and shredded Parmesan cheeses, and the Dijon mustard. Next time may try it with rotisserie chicken instead of tuna. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I didn't have any problems reheating the leftovers in the microwave for about 1 1/2-2 minutes. The sauce stayed nice. And as someone else had suggested, the ingredient amounts would be easy to cut in half. It made a lot for just three of us, and after two days of leftovers for lunch, there is still some remaining. (I don't think it would freeze well because of the noodles and the sauce.)
This is another great example of how Cooking Light can combine lots of interesting and different ingredients into one tasty dish!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice
Cost: $2.99 at Whole Foods
Number of teabags: 20
Caffeine: No
Type of tea: Herbal
Steeping time: 4 minutes
Double-Dipping potential: Didn't try yet, due to enthusiastic kitchen clean up help!
Mix ins: Sugar and milk. I'm certain just a touch of sugar by itself would be delicious, too.
Teabag fragrance: Cinnamon, vanilla, ginger
Ingredients: Cinnamon, roasted chicory, roasted carob, natural spice and vanilla flavors with other natural flavors, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg.
Taste: Like cinnamon toast! It reminds me a lot of Bigelow's Cinnamon tea from the 70's/early 80's
Opinion: Perfect on a gray winter day. According to the box flap, it is Celestial Seasonings' caffeine-free interpretation of Chai (without too much of that pepper bite).
Rating: 4.5 teabags, would definitely buy again!