I have a huge bag of broccoli that I got at Costco.  I know that sounds silly considering my household consists of only two people and a dog that doesn't eat broccoli, but it actually kind of makes sense for us.  Neither my husband or myself are very big on vegetables, and broccoli is one of the ones we both like.  We eat broccoli a lot.

So I found this recipe today at the Kitchn.com and now I know what we're having for dinner.

Velvety Broccoli & Feta Pasta


Looks good, no?

This pendant, which I made a few months ago, is the companion piece to the ring I made last week:


It is a pear-shaped London Blue Topaz bezel set in sterling silver with three little silver balls at the bottom for accents.

You might have noticed I added a link to my twitter account on the right hand side of the page.  I've not done a lot of twittering in the past, but done right, it can be a useful promotional tool.  It's also a good place to write stuff that I want to call your attention to, but isn't necessarily worthy of a full post.

I think the title might be a little cheesy.  I don't know.  Does Venus have four suns?  Probably not.  There's only one sun, right?  But that's what came to mind when I tried to think of a name for this bracelet, so for now I'm gonna keep it.

Here it is, by the way:


I am extremely pleased with the way this bracelet turned out.  I was looking in my tool box for pieces of silver and I found a bangle that I'd made a very long time ago but was having trouble soldering properly.  Today I looked at it with renewed determination and decided I would finish it.


The bangle is made of sterling silver and set with four hessonite garnets that are a brilliant orange color.  Here's the thing with hammer setting:  it's quick and takes a minimal amount of effort.  But when it goes wrong–well, it really goes wrong.  By that time you've most likely limited your options with fixing the piece and you end up with a piece of metal with wonky holes in it.  You can find another stone that fits but invariably, I have no such stone on hand and the piece is doomed.


Since the hammer setting frightens me a little, I knew I'd really be pushing my luck with trying four in one bracelet.  I decided I'd start with the one and if that worked, well then maybe I could do a second one.  Then a third… I made it to four and unfortunately the first hole I drilled was a little off center, but we'll just say it adds to the handmade look and quality of the piece.

I am going to keep this bracelet since I have no bangles to speak of.  I'm also thinking of adding four more smaller stones of a different color in between the hessonite garnets.  But I'm absolutely sure Venus does not have eight suns, so maybe I won't.

In case you didn't know it, my husband created an application for the iPhone called CheckWord.  It is an application that allows you to check words and see if they are actually words. You enter a word into the application and it tells you if it’s a real word or not. Which is great to prove your friends wrong, or when you are playing games like Scrabble.


What I really wanted to talk about though, is a cool idea I found by way of How About Orange.  From Photojojo, here is a Scrabble board picture frame that is easy to make and oh so fun.


Love it!  

There are a few of things I'd like to call to your attention:

First, This Young House is featuring a great freebie this week.  It's a lovely bamboo lamp, courtesy of Shades of Light.  If you're interested, hop on over and follow the directions in the post about entering (contest ends at 8pm EST on Feb 25). 


Second, Jennifer Tallapeneni, the author my favorite knitting blog, has a wonderful hat pattern featured in a new book called Tops & Toes.  To promote the book, there is a blog book tour and the second stop is Jennifer's blog.  Check out the interview here.  I love reading about the design process, and Jennifer is a great designer.

Third, if you can get over there super-fast, U-Handblog is having a "name-that-bag" contest.  However, it ends on Feb 24 (and keep in mind she's in the UK), so hurry up!


Good luck!

Gosh, probably about 3 or 4 years ago, I bought a beautiful orchid plant at Trader Joe's.  It caught my eye because it was different from other orchids I'd seen and it had some nice foliage in addition to the blooms.  I enjoyed it immensely, but as plants do, the blooms eventually died and I put the plant out on the balcony.

The leaves have always been nice so it was a good addition to the plants I had outside.  However, this year when I came back from Oregon, I got a very nice surprise.  The orchid was blooming again!


Here's a closer look:


Isn't it beautiful!

I wanted to enjoy it and since it's been too cold to sit on the balcony I cut it and brought it inside:


I kind of think of this spot as a memorial to Kramer, even though I can't bring myself to officially call it that.  I still can't look at pictures of him but this painting, which I did in 2003, doesn't bring forth a rush of tears so I keep it up.  Anyway, it seemed like the perfect place for my lovely orchid so here's where I put it.

I didn't have an appropriately sized vase so, inspired by this post from This Young House, I put it in a recycled wine bottle:


I'm not sure how long the blooms will last, but I will certainly enjoy them while they do.



This pattern perfectly combines two things I love:  jewelry and knitting.


Not only is it a perfect stash-busting project, it is such a neat way to further personalize a gift of jewelry, whether you make it, like me, or buy it.

As if this wasn't enough, I took a little browse through NeedleNoodle's Etsy shop and I was mesmerized. 

Bluebirds?  Check.


Sushi?  Of course!


So.  Much.  Fun.

I am off to buy some patterns now.  See ya!

How cute is this?


I got this photo from How About Orange (which is a great blog that deserves further exploration, BTW).  The pattern for this adorable little robe (made from a bath towel) can be found on Sew, Mama, Sew!

If I knew how to sew better, I would come up with a design for an adult robe that would include a hood and maybe some additional detail, like pockets.  You'd need more than one towel, which introduces additional design possibilities.  Fun!

Back in "The Day," I used to go to a restaurant called Palermo on Vermont in Los Angeles.  I'd still go there, except it is far away from Santa Monica and Mick and I rarely go to any restaurant we can't walk to (I know, it's a problem).  In those days, I could barely afford dinner, let alone wine to go with it, and they served free wine in plastic glasses out of boxes while you waited to be seated.  That made me happy, especially since it always took awhile to get seated.

My favorite item on the menu was a dish called "Chicken Diane." As described on the menu, it is "a tender boneless breast of chicken lightly coated with seasonal bread crumbs, served with fresh mushrooms and white cream sauce."  As described by me, it is yummy, decadent, and addictive.


I was recently reading a novel in which the characters go to Palermo for dinner and I was immediately transported back to my wine-from-a-box-chicken-diane days.  I decided to try to come up with a lower calorie version of the dish, and this is what I came up with.

Oh, and by the way, I will still drink wine from a box if it's free, just so you know.



Chicken Diane (ala Holly)

Cook Time: 25 mins.
Level:  Easy
Yield:  4


1 package chicken breast tenders, cut into chunks
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup light or regular alfredo sauce
1 cup pasta of your choice
1 cup chopped brocolli
2 tsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbs freshly grated parmesan

To make the pasta:

This is a trick I use often to maximize nutrition and minimize calories, and it works particularly well with this recipe.

Set water for pasta to boil with a handful of salt.  When it boils, add your pasta and set your timer to cook it 3 minutes less than the directions say for al dente.  When the time is up, add your brocolli and set the timer for the remaining 3 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

In_pan Mix bread crumbs with salt and pepper.  Dip chicken chunks into egg and dredge lightly in the bread crumbs.

 Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium.  Add garlic and sautee for a 1-2 minutes.  Add mushrooms and sautee for an additional 1-2 minutes.  Add the breaded chicken to the mix and sautee until browned and cooked through.

Add the alfredo sauce to the chicken and mushrooms and stir to coat them, keeping it on the heat for 1 more minute to heat the sauce.  Remove from heat and add the pasta and brocolli.  Mix well.

Serve on plates or in bowls.  Garnish with the parsley and parmesan.