Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mea Culpa and Miscellaneous

Oh look! It's 2013! How did that happen! Does the fact that we blogged in our minds count? The correct answer is DUH, TOTES. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, trips to Philadelphia and Virginia, back to school, dance competitions, softball, happened. Apologies.

There has been lots and lots of stitching. Ever since January it has been nothing but the Paris Mandala for me.

After finishing my part of London in November and sending it off to Nikki, I was all, "OOOOO! PARISSSS! I lurrrrrrves you! You are so pretties!!!"

This was me Sunday night when I finished my portion, FINALLY.

I boxed that mess up at 10:30 that night. THAT NIGHT.

This was me after dropping it off at the post office yesterday.

I walked to the French bakery from the post office and got myself a croissant as that seemed most apropos, went home, ate and drank a cup of tea called Paris, and enjoyed the shrinking of my to-stitch pile.

And here she is:

The shrinkage of the pile is relative though. (Piles is another word for hemorrhoids, BTW. Oh yes, yes it is.)

Nikki was a stitching maniac and sent me ALLLLLLLLLL of our co-pieces. So Paris may be on its way back to her, but now Butterfly, London, Sampler (yes, Sampler has finally re-emerged as Nikki no longer felt like burning it), and MTM are all with me. I actually started on London yesterday. It's not picture worthy yet though. Nikki will be posting pics of her bajillion hours of work on this post.

But first, the miscellaneous part of the title refers to a recipe I'm going to share. I made this up and it was good. Nikki made it and ALL OF HER PEOPLES ATE IT AND LIKED IT! That's pretty much better than any four star review the New York Times food critics could ever write. My nieces and brother-in-law are hard-core in their food sensibilities.

I say "recipe" but what I mean is a general ingredient list and very vague directions. I call this:


I am not a fan of shepherd's pie, generally. Because peas. NO. So I used ingredients and flavors I do like.

I made 2-2 quart (approximately) casserole dishes from this, so you'll have one that night and one to throw in your freezer, unless you have a larger family than we do.

I browned 2 pounds of lean ground beef. Once it was browned I added a diced onion, a packet of Knorr French Onion Soup Mix, 1-2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/4-1/3 C. of ketchup, 2-3 T. of yellow mustard, a partially drained can of petite diced tomatoes, and a Claussen's pickle, diced. I let the soup mix do a little thickening action and then sprayed the casserole dishes and divided the mix between the dishes.

Next I spread 1. C of 2% shredded cheddar cheese over each dish.

I had already made mashed potatoes (I used about 6 large baking potatoes) using low-sodium chicken broth, another cup of the shredded cheese, 1/2 C. of light sour cream, 2-3 sliced scallions, and salt and pepper to taste.

I covered the meat layer with the potato layer and then I added crumbled bacon to the top. Because bacon. It went in the oven at 350 F. for about 30-35 minutes, but that was because I'd assembled it in the morning and it had been in the fridge. If you put it in the oven immediately upon assembly it probably wouldn't need nearly that long. Then I flipped it to broil for a few minutes until browning on top of the potatoes began to occur.

It looks like this...

Here's a summary of the ingredients. Most things are "to-taste". I'm an artist, not a scientist, ok?

2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 pkg. Knorr French Onion soup mix
1-2 cloves of minced garlic
1/4-1/3 C. of ketchup
2-3 T. of yellow mustard
1 14 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes, partially drained
1 pickle, diced
3 C. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
6 large baking potatoes
1 C. chicken broth
2-3 scallions
1/2 C. sour cream
3-4 slices of center cut bacon
salt, pepper to taste

Shockingly, for 1/5 of one of the pans, there's approximately only 356 calories. That's if you do the 2% cheese and light sour cream, center cut bacon, and lean beef though. Sorry to be a joy-kill.

That's it from me!

Nikki's turn to show you pretty pretties!

Hello peoples!! It's been awhile, no? It'll be totes worth it though, because I have lots of pretty piccies for you!

Let's just jump right in, k?

You've seen Paris, she's gorgeous right, and I only have to stitch one more effing tower, so I'm pleased as punch. Here is a close up of, what I'm fairly certain is the Opera House. If it's not, don't blame me.

What's next? Butterfly. Um....this piece is crack. I think we've said this before. But it's true. I had to literally remove it from my face and put it away so that I wouldn't keep working on it. For reals. I could have kept going and going and going. I would stitch this piece again in a heartbeat.

We'll start with a close up of the center. One more flower. The fractals are a bit annoying, but it's ok.

Oh, hello gorgeous. We each get to stitch two of these. They're lovely. I was going to stop there. With my part of the center and the interior border and one over one butterfly finished. I really was. Pinky swear. But....then Lauren and I got talking and we decided we really needed to work our way to the outer border so when we get to the end it's not just border forever, ya know.

So then this happened.

And I'm not the least bit sorry.

Do you see this corner?!?!? And that's without beads! It's insane! Now you know why I had to remove it from my face. Or I would have finished it and Lauren would have hurt me.

On to London-Oh London. Good thing you look so damn good, because you are not the most fun piece to stitch.

I think we've given up on counting hours at this point, especially with London. Can we just leave it at, it's a lot of hours? Cool. I decided to stitch the clock tower to the right of St. Paul's. It wasn't too bad, and it's quite nice to look at.

MTM! Can't believe I've had this one for soooooo long. Got my blue corners finished and the two gates. Next is the buildings!

And, lastly, Sampler. Look, let's just not get into it. It's a rough time for me and Sampler right now.

I have lots of WIP pics and even a completion and a frame job to share, but we'll just make that a separate post. This one is already more than out of control. Enjoy the pics. And we'll try our best to not go another five/six months without posting. Really, we will.

Lauren & Nikki