Spinach and Feta Pasta (Recipe Included)

I usually don't add recipes on this blog, but I couldn't resist.  Tonight's dinner was just too good not to share with you all.  Before I begin, I hope you enjoyed your holiday today.  I had to work, but I took a half day off.

My co-worker and I swap recipes from time to time.  She made this dish.  I tasted it and fell in love.  I do love pasta and look forward to discovering many ways to prepare it.

This one is an allrecipes.com find, with a couple of minor modifications.  My co-worker added one thing and I tweaked the measurements on a few others.

Suki's Spinach and Feta Pasta (original link) 
Original Recipe Yield 4 servings

  • 1 (8 ounce) package penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cups spinach leaves, packed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded 

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onion and garlic, and cook until golden brown. Mix in tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook 2 minutes more, until tomatoes are heated through and spinach is wilted. Reduce heat to medium, stir in pasta and feta cheese, and cook until heated through. 

My Minor Modifications:
  • I used 2 cloves of garlic (that first clove was lonely).
  • I used sliced baby portobello mushrooms.
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flakes wasn't enough for me; not too spicy but a little kick in the back of your throat is how I like it.
  • I didn't have just plain mozzarella so I used 4 oz. of this 6 cheese Italian blend that I already had which included Mozzarella, Smoked provolone, Asiago, Parmesan, Romano & Fontina cheeses.

When I cooked mine, I made sure that the mushrooms cooked down some before adding the pasta. I like mushrooms, but cooked.

Bon Apetit!

Gifting, Giving, and Growing

My friend Mary is such a sweetheart.  She's such a thoughtful person.  I don't recall a time when she hasn't brought me something back from any of her recent travels.  After Easter vacation, she brought me a pashmina shawl from New York.  Then on yesterday, she brought me a small basket of fresh goodies from her garden.  What a surprise!

Basil, new potatoes, snow peas, yellow squash, zucchini, and a few eggs from her chickens.  Everything was picked or laid on yesterday.  How cool!

This month I decided to participate in a small Ravelry swap.  It is for a Magic Ball.  I had never heard of such, but a magic ball is a skein of yarn wound into a ball with little presents hidden throughout.  The recipient has to knit or crochet to get the presents.  When I went to the capital city last weekend I fell in love with this chunky baby alpaca yarn.  My partner requested chunky, alpaca, or bamboo yarn.  Two out of three ain't bad, right?  She is also into scrapbooking, stamping, Hello Kitty, to name a few.  So within this ball is a deck of Hello Kitty cards, a couple of stamps, some scrapbooking ribbons, and a few add-ons (like these butterflies).  Instead of making her something, I enclosed one of my photography note cards (she's also into photography).  I hope she likes this magic ball and has fun knitting it down.  I'll be sure to show you mine when I receive it.  I heard it was in the mail.  This Magic Ball goes in the mail today.

After work yesterday, I went to my hair appointment at the African Braid Shop.  I had the edges of my hair retwisted so that they will be fresh for the wedding.  The stylist was so surprised that my hair had grown so much.  I really needed to take them all out and start over, but the style is supposed to last 3 months and I intend to get my money's worth.  lol  Plus I want to be extension free for a while so I can explore new products on my hair that can't be used with these extension twists.  Anyhoo, while in the shop, I finished up one of the hats for the kids.

This is the last of that Caron's Simply Soft black yarn.  :-)

Finally, this morning, I went outside to check out my herb garden and I could see that it enjoyed last night's rain.  Much of the cilantro, dill, and parsley had burned up, but pieces of them are hanging on for dear life.  What is thriving is the basil and the rosemary.  And the marigolds are doing a good job keeping the mosquitoes away!

Happy Saturday,

The Final Touch

Ok, ok, now I'm really finished with the black shells hat/scarf set!  Last night I made a flower pin as a little accessory.  I have a bag of upcyled buttons that I'm always trying to find ways to use.  lol

Now I really am ready for the next project...a more colorful one.  :-)

Finding My Stride

Today I finished the Rosy Shells hat that "Anonymous" suggested.  Thank you so much!!!  This was a great pattern and I think it accompanies the scarf very well.  I crocheted it until it was about 7" from the center to the edge and then had my co-worker try it on (as it is her hat/scarf set).  She was so excited about the hat because she said it fit well and it's hard for her to find hats that are just right.  Then she said she was going to put in an order for her six nieces and nephews for Christmas!  Their ages range from 1-7 so this should be fun.  I like how she thinks - such the early bird.


Now I can get ready for the next custom order.  It's a purse for the niece of a co-worker that just pledged A.K.A.  The materials are all picked out, but I'm still thinking of the pattern.  This one is going to have to be an original or an improvised one.  We'll see.  I may slip a couple of the kids' hats in while I think.

Purse Materials

I forgot to mention that I did purchase two skeins of variegated pink sock yarn while I was out of town this weekend.  No, it's not for me, but it's intended for a project for my future SIL.  She really likes pink.  The pattern has been picked out for months.  Also, I have figured out the perfect present for my brother and her.  And yes, it's going to be handmade.  Details later...

The Weekend Update

Had a busy, yet fun weekend.  I went out of town this weekend to the city where I attended undergraduate school.  Yesterday I spent the morning at the Scrap Exchange.  What a fun place!  Got two yards of beautiful fabric for only $4.  I'm planning on making aprons from it.  Got a couple of purse parts:  handles, magnetic clasps, feet, linings for again chump change.  I'm detaching those parts and using them for a bag I have to make for someone.  While walking through the vendors on the way to the Scrap Exchange, I ran into my play cousin (we share the same aunt but on different sides so she isn't a cousin at all, but it feels like it so....).  She's a fabulous crafter/quilter and I love running ideas past her.  She gave me lots of pointers and when I left her, I immediately grabbed my journal so I could sketch ideas and make notes for the future.  She and another crafter friend are hosting sewing classes this summer.  Check out their summer website:  Something Handmade.

Then I attended my cousin's bridal shower.  It was loads of fun and I got to be the "resident photographer" since this was a shower thrown by her college and church friends.  The only people I knew were my two cousins (from left to right, the bride-to-be and her sis), but that was just fine because I got a real opportunity to use my camera.  Shower activities included:  a bridal word search, designing toilet paper wedding dresses, decorating cookies in the shape of *unmentionables*, writing advice in a journal, and lots of chatting and lots of laughing.  Prizes included pottery pieces that my aunt (their mom) made.  Parting gift:  a potted plant.  I think they're morning glories. 

I learned how much I really enjoy photographing small events; baby showers, bridal showers, kid's birthday parties. I think I'm going to promote that some soon; hence the need for a real name.  I didn't mention that the name I had chosen (Art by Design)and the runner-up were already registered, but I think I have a new one in mind as of today and as of now it is not registered.  :-) 

After leaving the city, I felt really excited, invigorated, you know?  My head was swimming of all kinds of ideas that will have to go on hold for now until I finish up the projects I've mentioned to you before times.  So, in an effort to tie up loose ends, I finished and photographed these two hats.  These are for the kids.

Until next time.....Happy Crafting!

Jennifer Cap

Like last year, I gave my students an incentive that if they completed all of their work for the entire year (no missing assignments) and had good behavior, that I would crochet them something.  The only differences between last year's incentive and this one's is that unlike last year where I crocheted whatever they wanted, this year I'm crocheting only hats AND although I have asked for color choices, we decided that their hats would be made from my yarn stash. 

I'm actually making a little more than I will need because I want students to have some options.  This year I only need 10 hats.  Tsk tsk  So far I have 8 completed.  Some were from the store and some were made recently.  This one was finished last night.  When I get pictures of the other newest ones, I'll upload those too.

" Jennifer Cap" pattern from Leisure Arts' Quick Caps booklet.

Urban Shells Scarf

If you recall, I had an order from a co-worker for a black hat and scarf set.  She graciously gave me an extension because it wasn't like she was going to wear the hat in this spring season.  But, as I have a brain that wouldn't feel "free" until all promises were kept, I had to get her order done before the close of the school year.  (If you have a brain that works like mine then you know exactly what I'm talking about).  No, her order is not complete, but I'm halfway there.  Now I'm looking for a complimentary hat in the style she requested.  If I can't find it, I think I can modify a basic cloche or roll-brim style hat to match the shell edging.  We'll see.  But guess what, I'm still stash-busting!

Another scarf project just for you, Anonymous.  Thanks for the compliment.  :-)

Tying Up Loose Ends

Literally.  Each day as I get closer to the the school year coming to a close, I want to finish up any outstanding WIPs and custom orders so I can start fresh in the hot months to come.  So some time last week I laid out the UFOs on my old daybed along with the hook and the yarn needed to finish it. 

First the fuzzy scarf.  Then the pillow.  And now another brick red neckwarmer.  It seems ashame that it has laid unfinished for quite some time.  All I had to to was weave in two ends and sew on a button.  Ridiculous, right?  Well now it's done and can go in the finished container.

Tomorrow I'm attending a VIF Family and Friends picnic with my friend from Peru who is a VIF teacher.  I look forward to a fun day with her and her husband, plus....crocheting in the car.  The drive is about 1 hr 20 minutes.  :-)

For the Good of the Cause

A while back, I signed up to donate a few squares to Gloria's IC Awareness Charity. However, my squares weren't done by the deadline so I decided to turn them into an IC Awareness pillow! I know Glo will find someone who will take this pillow off her hands.  hehe

I enjoyed learning something new in crochet:  filet crochet.  Hadn't heard of it to be honest, but it was super fun to do and now I've got my eye on another filet crochet pattern. 

Glo, I'll ship this out to ya.

Oh, Joy!

Today, I wanted to share with you a FO!  It seems like it's been ages since I've had one, but now I do.  The fuzzy scarf is f-i-n-i-s-h-e-d!  YAY!  What did I learn?  Bamboo needles are a miracle.  On Friday evening, I decided to finally sit on the couch and watch a movie.  It's been a while.  I carefully replaced my aluminum needles with a bamboo set I had stashed away and I was stunned at how much faster I was able to go.  Also the bamboo needles were shorter, closer to the actual width of the project.  I think that helped too; reducing awkward rotations.

So, I finished up the scarf last night (I'll deliver it on tomorrow) and cast on a new project.  I won't tell you what, but I will give you a hint:  mono, mono!  (Yeah, it's in Spanish.)

Then, during the day today, I checked my email and found out that I won a giveaway on KraftyKash's blog!  A set of stitch markers!  Maybe it's a sign that my knitting will get better and better.  Maybe one day I'll even knit a shawl!

Today has been a-ok.  This afternoon I got some more feedback on the name that I will definitely take into consideration.  I won't bug you all again.  When I come back with it, it will be a done deal.  And then perhaps I'll have my own giveaway to celebrate!

What's In a Name?


"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Ok, while Juliet may be technically correct here, I still believe in the importance of names.  According to the UN Population Division, about 216,000 babies are born every day in the whole entire world.  My question is out of all those beautiful babies born, how many of them are given ridiculous names; names that they may never live down?  Exactly.  So, for me, names help to build character.  They should mean something.  Stand for something.  Not just a haphazard combination of letters.

Choosing a befitting name for my business has been very important to me and that's why I solicited everyone's opinion.  I liked every name that I was given, but in the end, even after I made my own selection, something still didn't feel quite right.  So I've been silent...until now.

What is art?
ART is:
  1. the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance
  2. the principles or methods governing any craft or branch of learning
  3. Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature 
What is design?
  1. To conceive or fashion in the mind; invent; to formulate a plan for; devise
  2. To create or execute in an artistic or highly skilled manner
  3. a finished artistic or decorative creation
  4. A reasoned purpose; an intent; deliberate intention
So what does this mean for me?  With every photograph that I take, my goal is to create an image, to tell a story.  I find ways to capture light to create the look I want.  Almost everything is intentional and it usually takes quite a while for one photograph.  But, the end product for me is art.  The same is true with crafting.  Even if I use a pattern created by someone else, when I decide to choose certain yarns or match fabrics, doing so alters the design and again creates a form of art.

With that being said, the name that has stuck with me today is:

Art by Design

inspired artistry in photography and the fiber arts

It's not set in stone until it's registered in the books.  Until then, what do you think?  I sure hope that this name isn't already taken.  Thanks for enduring this process with me and for reading this super long post...if you made it!  :-)

Definition sources:  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/art, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/art, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/design

A Box of Smiles


Last week I was steeping some green tea the leaves in my coffee maker.  Granted, this is the coffee maker I've had since college so it's pretty old.  Well, now it's dead.  When I pushed the "on" button, sparks flew out and as a result all the sockets in my kitchen were gone, except the one where the stove was plugged in.  Thank goodness!  Well, on yesterday, the electrician came over and fixed/replaced wires and sockets in my kitchen and fixed the bathroom.  I didn't mention that the power was out on one wall - the one with the vanity lights and one socket.  I was just glad to have it done even though I had to part with more cash. Don't you just love unexpected bills?  *sigh*

But on the bright side, while he was fixing the electrical issues, I was in my craft room slowly opening a package that I received that very day.  With every fold of the colorful tissue papers inside, I knew the electrician could hear my squeals of delight.  I received African Rooibos tea (just recently discovered it and L-O-V-E it!), ginger candy (can't wait to try it), packages of sunflower and butterfly flower seeds (have wanted a butterfly garden for a while now), a journal (you all know I love to write), and a skein of variegated laceweight yarn (never worked with laceweight before).  I was so surprised and it took the sting out of a long, hard day!

Thanks, Nichole!  You rock!!!
Coffee Image source: http://www.officespresso.com/images/burning__coffee_pot.jpg

Fiber Goodness

Immediately after receiving my swap package from Gloria, I decided to crochet the beanie hat from the pattern that she also sent.  My only real modification was to accentuate the hat with a crocheted flower.  The center of the flower is a colorful button that I already had.

Although I made this hat earlier, I took this picture today because it was sunny enough to take quickly.  If you catch any glimpses of fatigue on me, it is because on yesterday I went on an amazing field trip to Charleston, SC with my grade level.  We left at 4:30 a.m. and returned by 11:30 p.m.  And, we were ready for school/work on today!  Needless to say, I'll be going to bed early tonight.

Anyhoo, the best volunteer in the world attended the trip with us.  On the bus, she began sneaking out presents to us.  (She's amazing like that!)  You know what mine was?  Two skeins of 100% variegated wool yarn.  Don't know where she found it, but it's made in Chile.  It's definitely too hot for this weather, but a joy to think about for the cooler months.  I wonder what it would look like felted.  Thanks, Mary!

I did not solicit this beautiful yarn, and I have no problems with adding it to the stash!  lol

Even though it rained off and on during the entire field trip, I was so pleased to purchase one thing for myself that I really wanted as a souvenir.  And that was a bag.  I absolutely love hobo style bags and ethnic printed fabrics!!!

Isn't this bag just gorgeous?

I better stop myself while I'm ahead.  I don't want any "I'm so tired that my words become jibberish" going on.  However, if you're just curious about what we saw on the field trip, click here to catch a few pictures, learn more about it and such.

My Yarn Swap Has Arrived

Happy May!

I'm just announcing that I have sent my yarn to my yarn swap partner, AND, I have already received my swap package from Gloria!!!

What did I receive? A beautiful skein of pink, pink, pink (as requested) yarn. It's 100% organically grown cotton in the beautiful color known as "Lotus" from the Blue Sky Alpacas company.  I've heard of the company and once saw some yarn that I longed for, and now I can say that I have my very own skein.  What else did Gloria include?  A crochet beanie pattern, from the Dancing Ewe Yarns company.

I love my yarn and my pattern.  Thank you so much, Gloria!!!

I'm fairly certain that my participation in Alessandra's yarn swap goes against the rules of my yarn diet, but it's too late now...and I didn't actually buy this yarn.  :-)

Kreativ Blogger Award

Thank you, Alessandra, for presenting me with this very special award!  The rules of this award are to list 7 things you probably don't know about me and then to pass it to 7 kreativ bloggers. So here is my list:

  1. I love dramas.  I still believe that one day I might get to play the part in one of those black films like "The Color Purple" or "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" or perhaps "Words by Heart."  When I was younger and had a hard time being assertive, I would pull a line from a drama in a heartbeat.  That helped me through freshman year in college. 
  2. I would love to teach abroad, especially in a place where children needed me and wanted me - even if just for a day. 
  3. I don't have a passport, but I'm working on it. 
  4. I never had a pet. 
  5. I baked my first cake when I was 4.  While my mom was hanging clothes on the line, I took the correct ingredients outside and "baked" a cake on the porch.  Except my cake was chocolate so I used dirt instead of flour.  I thought I would get a spanking when she found out, but instead she taught me how to bake cakes from scratch and I have been doing so ever since.  I never heard of box cakes until high school.  Cupcakes were just "scratch cake" in a cupcake pan, or so I thought.  :-) 
  6. I used to think I would marry Michael Jackson, then it was Alphonso Ribeiro when he was in "Silver Spoons".  I even had a crush on "Webster".  Well, it was the '80s! 
  7. I want to write a book some day.  In fact, I already have something in mind. 

I would like to learn more about these blogger:

  1. Kar - Kar's Down Home Bliss
  2. Sweet4Peach - Tolduso
  3. Pam - Oh That's So Cute
  4. Dev - The Golden Fairyglade
  5. Caroline - The Kansas Hooker
  6. Nichole - Coloring in My Life
  7. Unessalyn  - My Junky Trunk