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March 2015

Homemade Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Recipe: Homemade Creamy Macaroni and Cheese at The Weed Patch

I don’t actually use white cheddar cheese for this recipe, and you can use any shape pasta you want. My son just really REALLY loves boxed white cheddar shells, but one day he asked for a homemade version. It is pretty simple – you just make a white sauce, melt cheese into it, and stir in hot cooked pasta. Easy peasy! (bonus – the sauce ends up looking white because my cheddar is kind of pale, so it looks just like the white cheddar pasta in the box! ? )

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 pkg Shell Pasta
  • ½ stick butter
  • 3 T flour
  • 2 cups milk/cream combo of your preference (I used 1 ¾ cup non-fat milk and ¼ cup cream because that’s what I had)
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, or to taste (I used Tillamook medium cheddar)
  • Salt to taste (if any)
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste (I used maybe ¼ tsp)

Recipe: Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese at The Weed Patch

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to pgk directions (I do add a little salt & oil). Cook just until al dente. Drain, but don’t rinse. Leave sitting aside in colander while you cook the sauce in the still-warm pot
  2. Over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour, stir with whisk for 1-2 minutes to cook the raw flavor out of the flour, but take care not to over-brown the butter.
  3. Add the milk/cream (whatever you have on hand or want to use is fine). Raise heat to med-high, and cook until it starts to thicken. Whisk constantly so the milk doesn’t burn on the bottom. It doesn’t ever boil – you just stir for 5 or so minutes, thinking nothing is going to happen, then you suddenly start to feel a little resistance when you’re stirring, and then it starts to thicken.
  4. Add the cheese, a little at a time, stirring constantly to melt the cheese. Adding it gradually helps prevent clumps. Taste the sauce as you go – it might not need as much cheese as you might think. You may or may not need any salt, just be sure to taste it. It is a very forgiving sauce if you just add a little flavor at a time.
  5. Stir cooked pasta into the sauce, and serve! Yum!

Note: You can easily make this gluten free by using your favorite gluten-free pasta, and use gluten-free flour or baking mix in place of the flour. If you use baking mix, you might only need 2 T, not 3. Try it with 2, and add more if needed.

Recipe: Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese at The Weed Patch

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Painting Al Fresco

Well, "al fresco" means eating outdoors, not painting outdoors, but This Girl's artistic process always involves the passion of a good feast, so I guess it works anyway.

Planningoutherdesign

Apparently, here in Washingon State, it is almost summer.  Sort of.  I recall last year that we never really had a spring, it just went from winter right into summer.  Last Saturday, the kids bought lemonade from a children's lemonade stand down the street, and had Popsicles in the afternoon.  In March!

Hardatwork

I had forgotten how wonderful a babysitter a warm sunny day can be.  Being work at home parents, it is always a challenge to balance our workload while caring for our 3-year-old - to work and also give her attention.  Happily, this weather has tipped the balance a bit!

Paintingaheart

This girl is a PAINTER.  Throw her in some grub clothes and set her outside, and she'll happily go to town for hours.  While she does have a set of washable watercolors, she typically prefers craft acrylics.  I bring her over to my drawer of paints, and she selects her own colors - 10 of them, one for each cup in her plastic palette.

Childcreatingart

When The Boy was young, I bought a set of tempura paints, but neither of us were all that happy with them.  They definitely have their purpose, and I do still have them on hand.  But so many wonderful paints are made these days - they are inexpensive, easy to clean up (while still wet), readily available in an enormous variety of color options, and these days they'll stick to almost anything - paper, wood, cardboard, metal, rocks, flower pots, glass, and more.

Artpaintedchildshands

She only started painting about two months ago, and I had no idea she'd take to it so quickly.  I have a lot of projects in mind, which I'll be sharing here over the coming weeks as we complete them.  I encourage you to try them yourself, in collaboration with your children!  Kids are like creativity steroids - they bring out the artist in you that you never even knew was there!

Childrensabstractart

(These cards were painted by The Girl, and will be part of a future collaborative project...)


Braided Jute Coasters

Hello!  We received a shipment of braided jute coasters from Earth Rugs earlier this week that I thought I'd share with you.  Some are coaster sets, which come with a basket, others are sold individually so you can mix and match.

Blackstarcoasterset

Black Star Coaster Set with Basket by Capitol Earth Rugs

Bluecrapcoaster

Blue Crab braided jute coaster by Earth Rugs

Roostercoaster

Rooster braided jute coaster, by Earth Rugs

Burgundystarcoasterset

 

Burgundy Star Jute Coaster Set by Earth Rugs

Wildernesscoasterset

Wilderness jute coaster set by earth rugs

Shamrockcoaster

Shamrock braided jute coaster, by Earth Rugs

See all our coasters and trivets right here!


Exploring We Will Go

Intothewoodswego

(On to our next adventsure - today's walk!  Wearing our brothers' old pants, backwards, and a pink fuzzy hat.  What else would we wear?!)

I think the adventures of our own neighborhood often go under-appreciated. How often have we heard things like the people who live in Seattle never go to the Space Needle, or folks that live in Anaheim rarely go to Disneyland?  I think we think that explorations involve going away somewhere, which of course is true.  But there is plenty of discover to be had near our own homes, if we just look for it.

Mossissopretty

(So many trees....we love trees....)

Mossybranch

(Moss is so very very pretty)

Today's walk took us to a nature trail within walking distance of our home.  Chris made the comment that he'd lived here his whole life and had never known this was there (we live 5 minutes from where he grew up).

Exporingfortreasures

(What kind of critters can we find under these rocks??)

Fishladder

(What's a fish ladder?  This is a fish ladder!)

I personally was extremely happy to find such a place so near our home in the suburbs.  This is the kind of place I grew up.  My sisters and I spent just about every sunny day (and many rainy ones too) outside with our feet in the creek, or lost in the forest.

Thepathlesstraveled

(The road less traveled....and yes, we took it!)

So finding a place so close to home that is so like home to me was a delight.  It will be wonderful to visit again and again throughout the year to see how foliage changes and what new kinds of critters we find.  This was The Girl's first creek, and after that she wants to stop by every water we passed.  "Can we touch the water, mama?  Can we touch it??"

Abandonallfear

(My kind of graffiti!)

Walkingisawesome

(Walks are awesome!)


Embroidered Dishtowels by Raghu

Just wanted to pop by again and share with you some of the new dishtowels we received from Raghu!  Dishtowels are among our most popular items, with Raghu supplying some of the best-selling.  Dishtowels are an inexpensive way to add some decoration to your kitchen that is both pretty and functional.  They also make popular gifts!

Washroomtowel

Washroom Embroidered Dishtowel, by Raghu

Sheepwooltowel

Carter's Woolen Mill Kitchen Towel, by Raghu

Roosterhangingtowel

Rooster Embroidered Hanging Dishtowel, by Raghu

Loveneverfailsraghu

Love Never Fails Embroidered Dishtowel, by Raghu

Crowtowel

Crow Printed Dishtowel, by Raghu

Homesteadtowel

Our Homestead 1806 Kitchen Towel, by Raghu

These, and more, are all in stock and ready to ship!  Click here view our complete selection of all Dishtowels!


Spring Meanderings

Whitepurplespringcrocusflow

“She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    "Winter is dead.” 

-A.A. Milne, from "When We Were Very Young"

Just a bit of spring courtesy of beautiful Washington State for those of you who have a while yet to wait.  part of my own personal physical health plan for this year is to get out of the house and take a daily walk.  While living in the suburbs has never ever appealed to me (I grew up deep in the country - it is hard to be comfortable in a neighborhood when you're used to having just trees and birds as your neighbors!), there are several things I appreciate about where we live.  There are walking trails everywhere.  I can walk out my door and have a dozen ways I can go.  It is delightful!  And with spring on our doorstep, each walk brings a new discovery.  

We have been watching these crocus grow in a neighbor's yard.  Crocus is among the first flowers to bloom where I am from, along with snowdrops.  The greens of daffodils and tulips are several inches long, but no blooms for a while yet.  Each walk with my children is a lesson on garden plants - at 3 and almost 8, they are at such a fun age where they love to learn what things are called.

While I haven't walked daily, it has been pretty close.  I'll post some more as we discover new, pretty things.  For those of you almost literally buried in snow, I wish I could box up some of our spring and send it to you!