Smitten written in tiles

You can’t always get what you want

There is so much to love about the story behind the meme–and the mittens.

Also, I love everything about this gift made for Bernie from a friend/supporter/constituent. It was made with love and recycled/found materials: recycled sweater, fleece made from recycled bottles, second-hand thread.

I have to say that as much I would like to be as fashionably iconic as Lady Gaga, I am much more like Bernie. I would definitely prioritize being warm over being fashionable. And I admire that Bernie is always exactly who he is. WYSIWYG. And smittens, sewn knit mittens are actually in my wheelhouse, since I am much handier with a sewing machine than I am with knitting needles. And sewing with repurposed materials is good for the planet.

If sewist and creator Jen Ellis made mittens full time, she would probably have enough work to keep her busy until the summer, but mittens are an act of love for her, not a financial transaction. My favorite quote from this interview with CNN: “…sometimes in this world, you just can’t get everything you want.”

But if you try, you can get what you need.

If you need a mitten pattern, check out this one from Fleece Fun: or this tutorial from Instructables:

Cover Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash

Spicing up weeknight dinners

I subscribe to the Five Weeknight Dishes email from the New York Times. I often peruse it, but we rarely make anything. Printing off – and making! – three of the five recipes in a single week is decidedly blog-worthy. 

We are vegetarians, so some modifications were needed, and I noted those below.

Here’s what we made: 

Pasta Puttanesca

The best part of this recipe is the sauce. This is the easiest sauce recipe I have ever made. It was ready before the pasta. We used Cento brand canned Italian tomatoes. These are saucy right out of the can, so no need to drain them.

A substitute for anchovies is capers, so we used more capers than called for in the recipe. 

This mushrooms-on-toast recipe was easy and delicious. No creme fraiche options in grocery store pickup, so we substituted sour cream, which worked great. Sliced baby bella mushrooms made this a quick meal, and we served it on Dave’s Killer Bread to keep it on the healthy side.

For the Sheet-Pan Scallion Chicken(less) with Bok Choy we used two bags of baby bok choy and a bag of breaded veggie chicken-less tenders from Trader Joe’s. This dish is way fancier than what we usually make for a weekday meal, but it was quick and delicious. I used less oil than the recipe called for (which is my typical practice).

All three recipes are winners and are now on the repeat list. We’ve made the pasta dish three times in the past two weeks, and I now feel like capers have become a pantry staple. I was the living embodiment of the heart eyes emoji when my beloved started making Pasta Puttanesca last night for dinner. (FYI, Trader Joe’s crushed Italian tomatoes work well, too.) 

You can sign up here to receive the weekly Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter from the New York Times. 

Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash

white bauble

Festive backgrounds for your virtual gatherings

I am not a big fan of virtual backgrounds — they always feel a little off to me, but special occasions seem to beg for a party backdrop. ‘Tis the season for virtual decor, so here are a couple of virtual background repositories that will help you deck the halls for that holiday Zoom call:

Gold Toyota Tacoma, AKA Goldie

Goldie turned 20

I am a girl who loves pickup trucks. I drove a Volvo, Toyota Tercel, and VW Rabbit in my younger days, but now it’s all trucks all the time. My first Toyota truck, Black Beauty, is enjoying retirement in Arizona with a friend who just put classic car plates on the old girl. He hopes that will keep people from following him home to see if he wants to sell her. (She’s that great.)

My current truck, Goldie, is still a few years from those plates but that’s her future. About the time that I got Goldie, I had a herniated disk that did a number on me. One of the side effects was a loss of feeling in my left foot, something that made driving a stick shift a little nerve-wracking. So I switched to an automatic: a gold Toyota Tacoma V6 with the extended cab. The power steering, windows, and locks all felt luxurious when I first got her. Do I wish she had 4WD? Why yes, yes I do. When you live in Arizona, V6 is more helpful than 4WD (hello, drive to Flagstaff). In all my other home states, 4WD would have been more helpful.  If you have a choice, go for both 4WD ANDV6! Third option!