1. Candy Cane Hat by Penney Kolb from Handknit Holidays.
  2. Flo the Elephant by Franklin Habit.
  3. Anastasia Socks by Pepperknit.

One of my guilty pleasures is browsing the aisles at Michael’s, or any craft store.  I can always find a million things I “need” and tons of project ideas.  Last night I got home from a very boring day of meetings and decided I just had to start a new craft project.  What was the new obsession?  EMBOSSED GIFT TAGS!!!!  NOW!!!!  Money was no object.  Unfortunately for my bank account Martha Stewart has come out with a new line of crafting supplies, complete with Martha Stewart prices.  Sidenote: I love Martha, I love that she crocheted a frickin poncho in PRISON!  I also love that she is buddies with Conan O’Brien and Snoop Dogg.

Anyways about 100 bucks later I walked away with enough craft supplies to make 3 gift tags.  I got a Martha Stewart embossing gun, some Martha Stewart ink, alphabet stamps, embossing powder, and cardstock.  If possible I would have taken home the whole aisle of Martha stuff.  Now you know how I spent my Saturday night… I too will be an old spinster like my girl Martha at this rate.  But unlike her I will be broke!

When I first moved to Chicago in 2008 I started working in Albany Park for a fantastic community health center.  Albany Park is a very interesting community made up of Middle Eastern and Hispanic immigrants.  On one corner I got my eyebrows threaded, on another I could buy hot homemade tortillas, and across the street was Al-Khymieh Restaurant.  Al-Khymieh had the best lentil soup which was served with warm pita bread and it only cost a few dollars.  I have tried multiple times to recreate this soup at home and failed horribly.  Finally I found a recipe at AllRecipes.com that looked promising.  I tweaked the recipe a bit and made it my own.  Here is the result:

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, smooshed through a garlic press
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • dash of Madras Curry Powder
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

In a large, heavy pot bring lentils and chicken broth to a low boil.  Cover and let boil for 20 minutes.  In a skillet heat olive oil and saute carrots, onion, and garlic for a few minutes.  Mix carrots, onion and garlic into the lentils.  Add the cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and serve.  I found that I did not care for a lot of lemon juice so I would add it in increments to your liking.  This soup is hearty and a little spicy, perfect for a cold winter day.  I had it with a wheat bagel but you could serve it with pitas.

Scenes from Christmas 2010:

Gingerbread with Royal Icing thanks to Martha Stewart.

Tonight I made Turkey Meatball from Martha Stewart’s Great Food Fast. It was delicious and I would make it again. It didn’t take a long time, the ingredient list was manageable, and I didn’t wind up with a ton of dirty dishes. My sister, who works part time at Barnes and Noble, gave me this book for Christmas. This is the third recipe I have made from it and all of them have been winners. I especially like how the book is broken up into the four seasons and that there are great pics of every recipe.

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