Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Thoughts on Tastebook?

I have a huge collection of recipes I love that I have been collecting and archiving in a binder I keep in the pantry of my kitchen. This works well for me because it gets my computers away from the kitchen (I get lots of recipes from Pinterest!) and because I store them in clear, plastic report covers, it keeps the recipes clean of cooking spatter.

My family has a collective Tastebook.com account. Basically, it's an online database that allows you to store, sort and share your recipes online. I absolutely love having all the family recipes in one place and it has made it easy to just pop into the account to copy/paste a recipe into an email for a friend.

I use far more recipes than can be housed on this little blog. Every so often I try to share one with you all, but the truth is, I could have this blog just be a food blog and probably have a new recipe every couple of days without duplicates. I really love to cook (and eat!) but I can't just bombard you all with food posts everyday for the next year just so I can get them all on my blog, so here's my thought: I could create a personal Tastebook.com account and post my library of recipes there.

The only problem with Tastebook.com is you must also have a Tastebook.com account in order to see my recipes. We become friends, a la Facebook, and then we can share our recipes with each other. So my question is this:

Would you do that?


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

It's been a lifetime since I've posted any recipes on the blog! The truth is, I have terrible lighting in my kitchen and I don't know how to take nice pictures without natural light. Winter means it's dark by the time dinner is ready to be photographed, therefore, no recipes in the winter. Now that the sun is staying out a bit later, I can finally start sharing with you some of the yummy things I whip up for my family.

Today, I am starting with one of my favorite breads, Oatmeal Molasses. I make my breads by hand, so I will share with you the hand kneading directions.

Oatmeal Molasses Bread


2 1/3 cups (19 fl oz/580 ml) water
1 cup (3 oz/90 g) old-fashioned rolled oats, plus some extra for topping the loaves
1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (3 1/2 oz/105 g) unsulfured molasses
2 packages (5 teaspoons) active dry yeast (You can also use Bread Machine Yeast)
5-6 cups (25-30 oz/780-940 g) all-purpose (plain) flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons sea salt


In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Put the oats into a heatproof bowl, and pour the water over the oats. Add the butter and molasses, and let the mixture cool to warm (105-115F/40-46C).

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm oat mixture and let stand for 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 3 cups (15 oz/470 g) of the flour and the salt, mixing well. Add the remaining 2-3 cups (10-15 oz/315-470 g) flour as needed to make a soft dough. Using a plastic pastry scraper, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured work surface. Knead until it is smooth and elastic, dusting flour to keep the dough from sticking, 5-7 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 1 hour. (I place mine on top of my fridge.)

Butter two 9-by-5-inch (23-by-13-cm) loaf pans. Punch down the dough and, using the pastry scraper, scrape it out onto a clean work surface. Cut it in half with a sharp knife or a bench scraper.

For each half, evenly flatten the dough with the heel of your hand. Roll the top third down onto itself and seal it by pushing it gently with the heel of your hand. Continue rolling and sealing the dough until you have an oval log. Place the loaf, seam side down, in the prepared loaf pans. Press on them to flatten them evenly into the pans. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let them rise in a warm, draft-free spot until they double in size, 45-60 minutes.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 375F (190C). Mist the tops of the loaves with water. Sprinkle the tops with a generous handful of oats. (I have gotten to the point where I skip this step because it's just messy and doesn't add to the flavor of the bread.) Bake until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on top, 40-45 minutes. Carefully remove the loaves from the pans and let cool completely on wire racks before slicing.

I got this recipe from a book I borrowed from a friend. It is absolutely amazing and I want to buy it for myself. Not only are the recipes tasty, the pictures are delicious in themselves!

Essentials of Baking: Recipes and Techniques for Successful Home Baking. Williams Sonoma.
ISBN: 0-8487-2779-7
Here is a link to purchase the book on Amazon.

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

Making bread is relaxing for me. I relish in the fact that I cannot do anything else with my time while I'm kneading a new dough. I am a busy person, constantly multitasking and filling every moment with as much as I possibly can. Making bread for my family gives me time to slow down and just... be, if only for a few minutes. Knowing our bread is made with healthy ingredients is just an added bonus. This recipe makes two loaves, which we go through in about two to three weeks. Sometimes I find myself giving away loaves just so I can make more! It's healthy to have stress relievers, and this is mine.

If you have a yummy bread recipe you would like to share, I would love to try it! I have been trying to branch out a bit but I'm having a rough time finding recipes that a) can be made without a bread machine or standing mixer, or b) actually have a review to let me know whether they are good or not!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bubble Party

I like to do fun things with Clara and I've decided to invite other kids over to play along with us. It started with a Valentine's Day Party where we made Valentine's for daddies. I was busy playing hostess and forgot to take pictures at that one, but this time I was ready!

To celebrate the first day of Spring (and our amazing weather lately) I threw a Bubble Party. It was scheduled over Spring Break. I thought that meant more people could attend, but as it turns out, it means more people are out of town! Who knew? Anyway, it was a small gathering, but lots of fun for the kiddos, and the mamas, who got to have some real, adult conversations.

One of the lovely mamas who attended is a photographer who, lucky for me, wanted decent pictures of the party! Here are some of her shots:

Bubble Party

Bubble Party


Bubble Party

Bubble Party

Bubble Party

Bubble Party

Bubble Party

Bubble Party

Bubble Party

Bubble Party

Bubble Party

Bubble Party

I will be planning more play dates, especially as summer hits and we can no longer be outside with the kids. I'll be sure to share what we do. I know I am inspired by other blogs and what those mamas do with their children!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Contributions - Stitch Tease Bee

I don't have great pictures of these blocks, mostly because I was down to the wire while making them and had to snap a pic quickly before getting them ready to mail out!! But here they are, none-the-less:

Di asked for words. I chose "read" because we like to talk about books we've read whenever we get together. The text is meant to look like typewriter font.

Stitch Tease - Di

Stitch Tease - Di
Annabella wanted something with curves. I'm awful with curves, so I appliquéd circles onto the block. They look a little like bubbles. I like it!
Stitch Tease - Annabella
Dianne asked for pinwheels in pink and green. This block admittedly gave me some trouble. I don't like planning things out. I'd rather just go for it and that just wasn't working out with this block!! It turned out great, though, and her quilt top is beautiful!
Stitch Tease - Dianne
Hadley had a laundry list of dos and don'ts, but basically she wanted squares and rectangles in bright colors and random white pieces interspersed. I loved this strip. It was easy for me to put these colors together and the finished product was great!
Stitch Tease - Hadley
Katy gave us a fabric to base our appliquéd blocks on. I chose to do a little robot standing on a planet. I totally forgot to use my signature fabric on this block so I had to quickly add some buttons to the robot with my fabric!!
Stitch Tease - Katy

Stitch Tease - Katy

Stitch Tease - Katy
Susan asked for scrappy background with white stars. I didn't take a picture of my block alone since I put together her quilt top. I was lucky to have a playdate the day after I finished it so I had someone to hold it up for me!!
Finished Quilt for Susan

Finished Quilt for Susan
Helen asked for bright, wonky stars on a Kona Ash background. I LOVED this one too! I lost the pictures I took of this block, but here is the teaser picture I sent Helen. You can see the whole quilt top on her blog. It's pretty dreamy.
And that's it. I had so much fun getting to know these ladies over the past year. I'm sad I won't be able to continue with them onto round two, but I can't wait to see what they make!

It's kind of refreshing to show you all this! It's proof that all that time I was quite, I really was sewing!! I just couldn't show you.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Meal Planning 4/15 - 4/19

This is another short week for us.

Monday: Sunset Blend Juice. Brent and I have decided we are going to do a 10 day juice cleanse starting Friday! We are super excited to get started. We will be following the juice regimen from here, which is where you can find the recipe for this juice. Since I am writing this after having finished my juice, I can tell you it is good, but I double the recipe, making far too much for Brent and I. The juice was very earthy, although that was to be expected with all those root vegetables. I think next time I will add some more orange or apple, to sweeten it up a bit. And the beets stained my hands.
Tuesday: Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce. Since we are doing the juice cleanse this weekend, we need to eat up some things we have, and pasta I have!
Wednesday: Grilled cheese sandwiches and asparagus on my homemade bread.
Thursday: Dinner out for date night!! We are going to see The Postal Service play for our anniversary so we are going to make a whole night of it. Well, until we have to pick up Clara from her Yaya's (Grandpa) house.
Friday: Day 1 of the 10 day cleanse! Wish us luck!

This week I decided to try someplace new for my produce. I heard from a friend on Facebook about a local market that sells cheap produce. It's not locally grown or organic, so that was two strikes against a local market, but I decided to try it out anyway. The prices were amazing! Four cartons of strawberries for $1. Three bunches of celery for $1. Peppers for $1/lb. It was well worth the trip, which was only a little farther than I usually travel for my groceries.

Tried a new place for my produce. All this for $45!

I bought everything except the carrots and spinach at the new place, Superstition Ranch Market. My total grocery bill for all this produce was $45. $45!!! I got loads of produce, including:

ginger root

and loads more I can't even remember.

I also ordered my bountiful basket today, just a friendly reminder to do so if you haven't yet.

So tell me. Have any of you every tried a juicing cleanse? Thoughts? Recipes?


The Big Reveal!

I am so excited to show you all my new quilt top! Over the past year or so, I have participated in Stitch Tease: An International Mystery Quilt Bee. Basically, we each made a block or strip for each of the other members based off our inspiration boards on Flickr.

Stitch Tease Inspiration

I was already in a few bees when I agreed to join this one so I wanted to keep things easy for my bee mates. I asked for each member to make me their favorite blocks to put together in a strip for my ginormous quilt. My inspiration board was made up of my favorite techniques from Flickr from way back when we started this adventure.

We each chose a fabric to be our "signature" and we had to use it in each block we made. I chose this Cloud 9 organic Across the Pond print:


I started my quilt top with a row of appliqué, my favorite sunburst block and some scrappy butterfly blocks I made. Butterflies are my favorite.

Stitch Tease Starter Strip

Once I made my starter strip, I mailed it off to another bee mate. In order to keep costs low, we each created our blocks and mailed it to the person who would put all our creations together into one, cohesive quilt top to be mailed to the final recipient.

We were only allowed to share teasers of each block we made making the final project a complete surprise!

Here it is: my quilt top!!

Stitch Tease Final Quilt for Me!!!

I window stalked my poor mail lady everyday for weeks waiting for my quilt top to arrive. The day I opened my mailbox and saw a brown package inside, I squealed. Just a little. I couldn't hardly handle the short, 20 yard walk back into my house so I could cut it open. And then I opened up this beauty!! I was overwhelmed. My wonderful friends created a beautiful quilt top for me. I immediately hung it up on my Ikea curtain rod quilt rack I hung up in my room specifically for this quilt!

Here is a list of who made each row on my quilt, and as an added bonus, I've included a link to each of their blogs where they are each sharing their finished quilt tops today too!

Susan made the first row (top down). I love the bright colors and the awesome, inverted design. She incorporated lots of bits from my inspiration board.

Hadley made the second row. Um, freaking AMAZING FLYING GEESE?! I love the scrappiness. Plus, I've never made a Flying... Goose? Geese? Goosen? (Any Brian Regan fans will get that last one)

Di made the third row. I LOVE the polaroids! I've been infatuated with the design since I very first saw it, and what's better, she fussy cut images of some of her favorite things to make the blocks! Tea. Library. Flowers. It's just so special.

Helen made the fourth row. I have had this weird obsession with wonky stars lately. I make them all. the. time. So I love having this great wonky star row full of bright colors and solids. It's perfect!

Annabella made the fifth row. She has such a recognizable color palette and I knew this row was from her straight away! I love her use of Tula and AMH and that she made each block different. Her blocks have inspired me to try some new designs.

Katy made the sixth row. She chose a block I'd never seen before this quilt, but totally love! She used the same design for all her blocks, making one in each of six different colors. It's such a pretty row and I love the fabrics she chose.

Dianne made the seventh row. I was shocked when I saw those paper pieced stars! I was dying. For reals. I LOVE paper pieced blocks, but lack much confidence in my own paper piecing (not that I've actually ever had any issues with it). Again, I love that each block is different.

I made the eighth row.

Stitch Tease Final Quilt for Me!!!

I cannot express in words how much I appreciate my beemates for the work and love they put into each row of my quilt. It's funky and lovely and perfect. I couldn't have been more excited with how it turned out. Each row reminds me of each of them, which is exactly what I was hoping for.



Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sensory Play - Gardening

Since I’m planting a garden, I thought Clara should too.

Sensory Play - Gardening

The people who lived in our house before us had a veritable Garden of Eden in the backyard. There were vines with beautiful purple blooms. Big, lush trees. Perfectly sculpted shrubs. Giant stone pots overflowing with the most vibrant, beautiful flowers you’ve ever seen. It’s one of the reasons we bought the house.

Then we moved in.

And I found out they watered Eden by hand.

Eden died.

I’ve been left with crispy remnants of plants past and empty flower pots for years but since we decided to put in a garden, I thought it was time to fill those pots with flowers. I’m sure they will get scorched in the hot Arizona sun, but they will be pretty while they last.

We were able to run watering lines (bubblers) into all the pots save one, and since it was such a low pot, I decided to let it be Clara’s pot.

Sensory Play - Gardening

We took a trip down to Home Depot where we perused all the cheap-o flowers in the six-pack containers. I told Clara to pick out the flowers she liked best. I can’t tell you the excitement she showed. Not yet two years old but going on 16 for all the independence she’s showing!

Sensory Play - Gardening

She chose a pink/purple mixture of petunias. We took them home, she helped me pour soil into the pot and she started burying her flowers. She dug in that pot for about an hour, putting the flowers in, pulling them out. She planted a couple of them upside down and the whole time I encouraged her.

Sensory Play - Gardening

“Yes, Clara. You are doing a good job.”

“Yes. You may bury that flower.”

“You are so good.”

Sensory Play - Gardening

When she had finished, we filled up her water can (Dollar Store) and she dumped her water out on one flower. And I told her she did good. And we went inside.

Sensory Play - Gardening

Later, I went back outside and turned the flowers right-side up and watered the rest of them so she could learn to tend to them. Every day she waters her Petunias and she’s starting to get better about watering them all. Occasionally she pulls out her shovel and digs in the soil. Sometimes she pulls flowers out entirely and that is all okay. They are her flowers. Her pot. If they die, we will buy new ones. But so far, two weeks in, they are thriving.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Washi Dress - Easter Edition

After making Clara’s Geranium, I decided it was time for me to finally bite the bullet and make my own dress. I’ve been dreaming about making myself some clothes since Lizzy House and this post but I’ve been putting it off. So I grabbed the only piece of washed fabric I had that was big enough and started in.

Washi Dress - Easter Edition

Thankfully I had muslin on-hand. I had never made a muslin before but I am so glad I did. The directions are well written and extremely helpful. Rae even included FAQs and tips along with the pattern. I ended up perusing her links on the Washi Page of her blog to see the variations she offers free tutorials for.

Washi Dress - Easter Edition

Washi Dress - Easter Edition

I made the basic Washi. I didn’t want to go too crazy with my first one and figured a tank top would be better for cardigans in the fall and winter. And since it's already hitting the 90sF here, no sleeves is a GREAT option. I shirred the back (my first time ever) and added the pockets. Next time I think I would like to try one of her variations. I especially like the long sleeved option as seen here.

Washi Dress - Easter Edition

Next time I will need to try a bust adjustment. Since I've never made tops for myself (okay, I've made a few loosely fitting knit numbers, but they don't count) I naturally feel a little overwhelmed by bust adjustments. Instead I made the dress with the bust size, which meant I made an XL. It fit amazing in the top, but the waist was big. I will make some changes to future iterations of this dress. Overall, it's a great, comfortable dress and I cannot wait to make more!

Sorry guys. Just realized I hadn't put this on Flickr and this seemed like an easy way to get it there. :)

And because I have it, here's me wearing it to church on Easter one more time.

Related Posts Plugin