Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tofu Nuggets...a big risk worth taking!!!

Last night, pretty much on a whim, I decided to "whip up" some Tofu Nuggets.  Richard had recently bought extra firm, cubed, organic tofu for another recipe we tried last week (more on that in an upcoming post), and I thought that rather than do that recipe again, I would try something new, AND finish off the rest of the baby spinach in one of the two containers residing in the fridge (always a supply of the green stuff in this house!).  

Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I just accidentally turned to this page in one of my trusty cookbooks, "Deceptively Delicious."  But, booooyyyyy, did it pay off!!!!  

So anyway, here's the recipe (see my variation of it below the picture, and be sure to click on picture for a better view):

Instead of breadcrumbs (because, if I'm being honest, I just didn't feel like dirtying up my food processor and using all of my whole wheat bread...and I'm not going to use canned breadcrumbs with no nutritional value), I used 1 cup of whole wheat flour (I keep mine in the fridge to keep it fresher for longer...dunno if that's actually a valid suggestion, but I know my grandma does it...gotta respect that, right?).  

I also ended up with about a 1/2 cup of spinach puree.  And I didn't even use all of that.  But that could've been because I wasn't using big 'ol slices of tofu.  I pulled "a Dana" and didn't actually READ the tofu container, because if I did, I would've seen that the tofu was, indeed, CUBED.  And even though the recipe has cubing the tofu as an option, I'm pretty sure it would be bigger than these cubes.  Sigh.  

So after a little bit of messiness (and the smell of burning oil in my pan, due to my slow-going with itty-bitty pieces), I developed a method for dealing with these teeny-tiny cubes:

1.  Take a handful of them.  Drop them in the spinach/egg mixture.  Use a spoon to coat them really well.
2.  Use another spoon (or the other hand, that will inevitably become your "messy hand,") to pick up the green, little chunks, and drop them into the bread/flour mixture.
3.  Now, use your messy hand to roll them around a little bit, but also your clean hand, holding a dry spoon (I used the one that measured my paprika) to help coat them in bready-ness.
4.  This step is important:  pick up the chunks and use your hand to sift off the extra bread stuff.  This is important if you're using the ridiculously small tofu cubes like I was.  
5.  Gently place/toss your cubes in the oiled pan, and proceed per the instructions.

And check it out!  They look kinda like fried okra!!!!

And what's that?!?!?!  My super picky, super skeptical 4.5 year old going back for SECONDS!!!!

Again, more proof!!!!  You can hear my almost 8 year old daughter in the background saying they're awesome...and then my son comparing them to the Chick Fil-A platters he's seen at birthday parties!

All of this being said, I'm not gonna lie - I was very tempted to go workout during dinner time, so that I didn't have to be there to hear the whining and complaining about the meal I spent time making...but they each quickly picked one up, ate it, and were instantly sold!  This prompted me to try one...annnnnd, truth be told, I spit it out (without them seeing).  It was a little bland for me on first taste...but dipped it in ketchup and mustard and it was freakin' awesome!

So there ya go!  Try 'em, and tell me how your family responds!  I'd also love some suggestions on how to season this for a little more flavor!!!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Revisiting Question of the Day...

So a little bit ago, Jillian asked, "Mommy, why does it seem like all animals have something like a tail?"

I thought a bit and said, "Well, I guess that since we don't have tails, it can't be that all mammals have tails, right?"

Everett chimed in:  "Do butterflies have tails?"

Jillian:  "Oh!  No!  They don't!  Insects don't have tails!"

We kinda ran through a random list of other mammals to see if we could figure this out - koalas, platypus, whales, dolphins...

Jillian said, "Apes don't have tails!  Chimpanzees don't have tails! . . . so, I think that it's PRIMATES that don't have tails! . . . I think it might be that other animals have tails to keep their balance..."

(Richard just reminded me that monkeys have tails . . . and they're primates (cue the debbie downer sound effect...killed our hypothesis...and then said, some animals just have tails to swat things away - like cows). Fine.

I told her that I love her questions.

She said, "Yeah, I think that might be my hardest question so far.  . . . Except for that other really hard question I had about what happened before the Big Bang."

This kid.

Other notes from today, while I'm at it (all from Jillian):

"I think that my favorite subjects are math and history.  And reading."

I told her, "Maybe you don't have a favorite - it's okay to like everything . . . you like science too, right?"

"Well, not really.  Not as much.  I think I really like math."

"And I just really like history.  Did you know that Cleopatra died by being bitten by a poisonous snake?"

Then, she says, kind of laughing at herself like she's a bit embarrassed to admit it - "I don't know why, but whenever I think of Egypt, I think of ancient Egypt.  Even though I know it's different now.  And, it's weird to think about Ancient America..." (I reminded her that America isn't all that old) - she said, "oh yeah - it's not as old as Greece, and Italy, and Egypt..."

Again - this kid.

A little while ago, when I was asking her to verify some of what I'm typing, she asked what I was doing, and after telling her, she eagerly told me something else...
"Did you know that scientists have discovered a new monkey with a blue bottom (giggling)?"

She's so much like my Dad.  Just thrives off of knowledge.  Said today, "I just have so many questions.  I wish I could just know it all and not have to look everything up..."

Which reminds me - this past Sunday at church, they had a lesson about all the questions we have...here are the ones she wrote down:

"How many extinct animals have there ever been?"
"How do we move?"
"How many years have people been around?"
"Why are we on earth?" (MY FAVORITE!)
"When did people start eating animals?"

Okay, better go - just had to record some of these precious memories.  :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Little Superhero

Tonight, after bedtime stories/practicing reading...

After a short conversation that we have had several times - one in which Everett says that he doesn't ever want to leave me and always wants to live with me, we had this very interesting exchange:

Everett:  Mommy?  Are superheroes real?

Me:  What do you think?

E:  Yes.

M:  Okay.

E:  Well, I want to be a superhero (kinda whiny, as if realizing they're not real)

M:  Okay - you can be...did you know that policemen and firemen are kinda superheroes?

E:  Yes.

M:  Can you tell me what a superhero IS and what a superhero does?

E:  They save people.

M:  Yeah, so policemen, firemen, doctors, animal doctors - there are LOTS of superheroes around us - and they don't all wear capes, do they?  

E:  No...  

M:  But, what if you were a superhero that had a cape...what color cape would you have (it would be fun to make one for him :) )

E:  Rainbow colors!

M:  Okay - would there be anything on your cape?  Like, a letter or number or symbol or shape?

E:  Well, actually, I would want to be Captain America, and he has wings on his helmet.  

M:  I thought Thor had wings on his helmet?

E:  Yeah.  They both do.  But Captain America's wings go like this (puts hands on head and makes them move)

M:  You don't want to be a totally different superhero that isn't like someone else?

E:  No.

M:  Okay :)

E:  Well, actually, I would probably want to be the Hulk.

M:  Oh really?? I don't know...I don't know if you're scary enough...

E:  Well, I'd probably just paint myself green.

M:  What kind of paints?  Watercolors?

E:  No.  Just paints.

M:  What about markers or crayons?

E:  No.  PAINT.

M:  Okay...how would you paint your back?

E:  Eh, well...I would probably just have one of the other superheroes do it - I would just hand them the bucket and ask them to paint my back.

M:  Oh, okay...it's good that you've got all of this figured out.

E:  Yeah.

M:  Well, what if you could have a cape now?  What color would it be?

E:  Well, I would probably grow out of it.  But...let me show you how big it would need to be (gets out of chair to show me with his arms how big...counts imaginary "inches," totaling 8).  So, 8 inches!

M:  What color?

E:  Blue.

M:  Okay...dark blue, light blue...?

E:  Eh, you choose :)

M:  Okay.  Any symbol?

E:  Well, I think the Superman logo.

M:  Oh, maybe with an "E" instead of an "S"???

E:  No!  That would be confusing!

M:  Oh, okay.  You're right.

Fast forward to tucking Everett into bed - he has one last thought:

E:  I changed my mind - I don't want to live with you when I grow up.  I want my own house.  But I don't want to get married.  Because, that would be pretty confusing for them when I'm a superhero...like, when I kiss them.

Monday, August 12, 2013

"Selfish Sewing" for this Mama...courtesy of "Everything Your Mama Made" :)

Friends, I have found an absolutely fantastic pattern for when you have just a little bit of time to sew for yourself...

I was honored to have gotten to test the soon-to-be-released pattern by Everything Your Mama Made, called "Kymy's Dolman Top" - it is versatile, versatile, versatile!!!!  And I'm only saying that in thinking of the ONE of FOUR different views I tried out!  Talk about a big bang for your buck!!!  

I used a lightweight knit fabric - purple with a little sparkle to it, and check out how many ways it can be worn!!!  By the way, this is "View A" - the "hi-lo" option, but like I said, there are a few other options you can try out as well!!!

Dress it down with shorts!

Wear it with pants, and it would be great for many workplaces!!!  I'm thinking this would ESPECIALLY be great for teachers!  Trendy, cute, AND comfortable!!!

Dress it up for a night out! If I were still performing, I'd totally wear this (or the pants version!), as the subtle sparkle of the fabric is perfect for a night out - whether on stage (for all you fellow musicians) or at a nice restaurant or concert hall!

Normally when I test a pattern, I don't do outfit changes...however, when my husband (who was taking the pictures), said,  "Do you REALLY need to take this many pictures?!!"  I said, "No...I suppose I don't *NEED* to" - - - but I explained to him (because apparently, I have a tendency to ignore rhetorical questions), "Seriously - this top is SO versatile - if I had put many, many hours into a pattern, I would totally love for someone to show potential buyers how freakin' awesome it is.  People might not think to pair it with pants, or with a nice skirt...and then still be able to wear it out and about with the kids!"

Ladies - do you see what I'm getting at?!  It would be a crime to NOT own this pattern!  Once you've printed, cut, and taped the pattern together, trace your size(s) onto freezer paper.  From there, you can either use your paper weights and rotary cutter, or iron the freezer paper directly onto your fabric, and then use your rotary cutter (I do the latter, usually).  You can do the ironing option MULTIPLE times with freezer paper!!!!  VERY helpful when it comes to cutting knits!!!!

Now.  Onto the practicality portion of this post:  if you're between sizes on the size chart, I'd recommend choosing the smaller size (woohooo!).  I'm wearing a Medium in this picture, and I'm currently 5'7" and weigh 155 (though in the process of losing more, which is why I was okay going a little smaller).  

I've seen pictures of other testers making this pattern into a dress, a long tunic to wear over leggings (the banded at the bottom version!), and there's even a version that has ruching on the sides, which lends itself to being a fantastic option for those wanting trendy maternity tops!  

So anyway, I'll leave you with the image of Hubster looking at me incredulously, as I changed earrings and shoes during the photo session* ... why would he act so confused and in disbelief?  The man's seen Project Runway!  I subject him to it every week!  Doesn't he know that styling counts, dammit?!  (disregard my crappy hair in these pics)  Anyway, suffice it to say, I'm a big fan.  My only complaint is that I'll have to buy more and more fabric to make as many of these as I know I'll want to wear!!!

*(please let me reassure you that I did all changing inside the house...I'm sure our neighbors were scratching their heads, as we'd go inside, come back out, take pics, repeat, and repeat...)

P.S. - Wanna win this pattern AND the girls version of this pattern?  Head over to Pattern Revolution and enter the contest HERE!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Could these leggings BE any cuter?!?

Alright, so the ladies over at Pattern Revolution are in school-mode (because, at this point in the summer, aren't we all at least almost in that mindset?!  Yes, I'm thinking of you, friend with the app that counts down the seconds till the First Day of School commences...).  And in honor of school-like conditions, they are conducting a super duper scientific study to see which legging pattern is the MOST awesome.  Yes, I'm implying that they are ALL awesome.  Full Disclosure:  I only own one of the three patterns, but won't lie - I've drooled over the other two (peek-a-boo patterns "Lollipop Leggings" and Lily Giggle's "Petunia Petal Pants")...I've seen the pictures and read the reviews.  I'm confident in making the assertion that they're all awesome.

But, as I said, I only own one of the three patterns in the running:  The Jocole Ruffled Leggings :)

I'll just let the pictures show you how amazingly awesome and adorable they are (in the "short" length...can't wait to try capris and full-length ones soon!):

Yep.  The outfit doesn't exaaaaactly match.  But I had finished them the night before, and HAD to get my daughter to try them on before leaving for school that morning!!!!  So, you're seeing how adorable they are with the shirt that was meant to go with something else! :)

Okay, so about the little collage above...I'm just gonna say it...even though it might sound twisted:  I'm jealous of my 7 year old's cute, little butt in those pics!  Or maybe it's the awesome fit of the leggings???

Perhaps y'all should just get the pattern and see what you think...heck, get all 3 and do a comparative analysis!

But anyway, SUPER cute, RIGHT?!!?!?

Thanks for stoppin' by and don't forget to check out Pattern Revolution for more sewing goodness!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

It's been 4 months, but I'm not slackin' -- I promise!

So a lot has happened over the last few months...

Around Mother's Day, I decided that my priorities were a little out of whack...or, at least, what I was spending the most time on didn't match up to what I knew I wanted my priorities to be...Okay, to make it less complicated:  I was spending too much time on my business, Silly Jillybeans, and not enough time being the best mommy I could be.

Since arriving at this realization, I've worked on spending more time as Mommy and less time saying "yes" to fulfilling sewing and crafting orders.  The passion for all things crafty is still there, but I decided to make that passion work with the way our life is right now.  I took it as an opportunity to really try some new things, get better at other things, and to make more things for my own kids and myself!  :)

I'm super glad I made the decision I did, because it has really allowed me to get to know a lot of fantastic ladies in the sewing world, via Facebook!!!!  As weird and/or cheesy as it might sound, it means so much to know that there's a community out there that can relate to me and my love for sewing and all things creative.  It's helped me get a better handle on what things I like to make and what things I'm not all that excited to make.  I've been pleasantly surprised to see that there are so, so many women out there that are more than willing to help each other in so many ways:  "I'm at Hobby Lobby right now, but can't remember - what is the yardage for (insert pattern name here) in a sz. 7?"  2 minutes later, I get the answer.  I've also seen lots of posts like, "I've been asked to make (insert pattern and sz here), but they also want this added, this applique, and by next Friday...how much should I charge?"  And then no less than 20 helpful comments follow!  

Anyway, I suppose it's just the nature of technology playing such a huge role in all of our lives, but it's strange to think that when I met Richard on match.com about 11 years ago, that would be only the first of many types of relationships I'd have the opportunity to nurture over the years.  Again, it's not as weird as my inability to articulate it is making it sound...in short, I just feel privileged to have "met" and learned so much from the pattern designers and fellow sewing enthusiasts on Facebook.  Yep, that makes me sound like a dork.  Buttttt, I think anyone (?) can appreciate the validation one feels when they are able to relate to others, share victories, concerns, questions, rants, "I DID IT! ISN'T IT PRETTY?!" pictures, etc. with people who can truly understand and "get" the time, energy, talent, and work that went into it...  Right?

So.  All of that being said, I'm hoping that this will be the post that reignites my blogging.  Because frankly, I need any easy way for pattern designers to see pictures and samples of my sewing and photography skillz, so that when I apply to test for them, I can send them to one link with evvvvvverything there.  

And that will be this blog.

The plan is to have an "I Made It" section on the blog, and then possibly another, more specific section titled, "I Tested It."  

Oh yeah.  I guess I never got to the part in my update where I tell y'all that I've been REALLY enjoying testing some super fun, super cute patterns for a few different pattern designers!!!!!  These are the opportunities that have allowed me to really get to "know" a variety of awesome people!!!!

So...without further ado, I will hit the "Publish" button and we'll cross our fingers that I keep up with this blog better than I kept up with the 8 or 9 diaries I had as a kid...(don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about!)

Have a fantastic week and feel free to comment!  Maybe it'll motivate me to keep up the blogging!
-Dana :)