Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I swear, I still exist!

This blog started as a way to keep track of a project, which in turn inspired me to new projects which I had time for due to the love of my life being elsewhere for months. He is back and my time is taken up with much more handsome projects now ;) I will still try to keep up with fabulousness as it finds me, but likely less often. We'll see. I'm still going with the bread- working on a batch of healthier bread (using part Whole White Wheat and part regular white flour) and I'll tell you- white bread tastes better! But I'm working on it. The kids love it! My garden has suffered. And not neglect interestingly, well, not much. Turns out my sprinklers were still on before a few nights of freeze. yeah. But now I know that broccoli can live through that! But lettuce-absolutely not. The cauliflower isn't legally dead yet, but it is on life support. Fingers crossed, but breath not held! Best to anyone who reads this! Next project: weight watchers- I signed back up. Here I go again! $5 says I get back to goal and then get knocked up a week later, ha!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rye Bread!

There is a quote in the book about fresh rye bread being better than cake. This author is on crack, right? Not so much! My kids devoured half the loaf in a sitting and had more with dinner! As soon as my toddler saw the loaf on the counter (the counter than also has cookies on it) she went bonkers asking for bread! Score! Now add that it's pretty healthy, super easy and way cheap? sold. Here are some pictures of the work of art in progress; I do apologize- had to use the camera phone, so lower resolution.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A movie I want to watch? With my kids? Can it be??

Tonight I watched Singing in the Rain with my 4 year old. At then end she asked me if we could buy it (we Netflixed it.) Can this be true? After watching Nemo 10,000 times (give or take 5) and I love Nemo, don't get me wrong, I found a personal limit. We have a family movie night in our house where we pop some corn, have a juice box or two and pop in a flick, but it was hard to find something we both genuinely wanted to see. Okay, it was hard to find something I actually wanted to see that she would go for as well.
The Best Old Movies for Families: A Guide to Watching Together
I came across an article years back about a book written by a dad that was in a similar boat and looked into and actually bought it for the day our kids were old enough. Totally forgot about it. Came across it on the bookshelf the other day, and found a whole list of books organized by age and listing subject material that might come up! The first suggestion was Errol Flynn's Robin Hood and I really didn't think it'd fly with her. But I gave it a good intro (Lady Marrion was like the cousin of a princess, good guys, bad guys, etc.) and she agreed. She loved it! So tonight we tried some Gene Kelly and it was a huge hit! I had to explain a few things, but I always do and there was nothing I had to "explain away" (negative), lots of great music, dancing and fun! We both enjoyed movie night! I love this book and so I must share it! I can't wait to open it up and see what's next to queue!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fresh bread and lettuce!

I made such a beautiful bread and salad out of my garden and oven I could hardly believe it and had to take a picture for proof! I wish I had tomatoes growing too....possible project if they can be done at this point in the year. (Okay, I didn't grow the feta either ;) )

Stuffed Pancakes! Yum!

Wandering the aisles of Target, long past my shopping list and now just meandering and tempting myself I came upon some clearance pans and thought I'd take a look. What I found was an interesting pan with little dips in it called a Pancake Popper. Hmm....what's this? I take a closer look and find it claims to make easy, quick little stuffed pancakes. Well, little did they know, they already had me at "clearance" but this sounded pretty good so in the cart it went! yum. YUM. Today I made two kinds: Nutella stuffed (omgoodness) and cream cheese/blueberry. Not only did they really only take a second (and no more than a second- turn on the 'toons for the kiddies-these will over cook quickly!) but they were delicious! My kids voted for the Nutella ones, however I thought the cream cheese blueberry were pretty insane! Now add in a clearance price: score! Very pleased with myself and I've now justified myself for more Target wandering....uh oh....
This is after pouring the batter and adding the filling; before the flip.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ah ha!

My last batch of dough was "not right." What does that mean? I don't know how to describe it, but it wasn't right. The bread was coming out heavy, not enough holes, the crust was too hard. What was it?? I finally went to the website of the breadmakers and tried to figure out what was up when I came across a video! I've been wanting a video to see if I was gluten cloaking the bread correctly and not only was I not, but I found my error. I was shutting the lid all the way on the wet dough. Ah ha! So I tossed what I had (which incidentally made my trash smell lovely, no really!) and started fresh and I'm back to my beautiful bread! The last batch of dough soured me, hee hee, and I didn't even want to make bread anymore, nothing was coming out quite right. But I'm back in the saddle again! So next is the Crunchy White Bread Loaf! I'm excited as I think my kids will like that a little better for our "sandwiches." I use quotes because they will not eat them as sandwiches, they eat all the pieces separately. Kids. It does make me think about the nutritional quality of the bread however. The authors also wrote a book called Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day that I've been adding and removing from my Amazon cart for a month. I want to buy it, but shouldn't I finish this book first? But that's healthier, then do I even need this book? Alas, I am at an impasse. My current plan is to finish at least a bit more in this book, just out of some inner need to make it "worth it" and finish what I started and then I'll get the other. I did attempt the naan out of Book 1, it was with the failed dough though and with 2 darling interrupters...
timing is everything!

Here's another picture of a better boule before it hits the fiery furnace!
This is what it was supposed to look like!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ma belle laitue!

I'm on my way to the perfect sandwich! Bread: check! Lettuce: check! It's so tasty, I'm not sure I can ever go back to store bought! Added bonus, they seem really hardy. I forget them on a regular basis! Maybe if I can start remembering to water it, it'll grow a little faster? Even my daughter gobbled it up! And without Ranch, that's really something! What's that about a picture's worth a thousand words? 


Slowly but surely, I'm making my way through this book and and alas, slacking on my updates. The important thing here is, drum roll please, my ciabatta rocks! The crust is so much softer which is nice for my kiddos. I love the crustiness of the classic boule, however my kids have a hard time getting through it sometimes. And it's just plain fun to gluten coat and spread out. Rather than the floury dough of the boule, with the ciabatta you get your hands nice and wet and stretch out the dough. It feel fabulous! And then you can chase your kids around with gross, sticky hands. Added bonus. Here are some pictures of my masterpiece!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Worth the dough?

I've finally conceded that this is the shape and size my body will be now. And as I say that, I adore my two body widening punkins more than words and would make that trade any day! Alas, my favorite jean skirt didn't grow with me. So I'm on a quest! Here's the current forerunner:
Boden Favourite Mini
I love that this is a "mini." Really? It's almost to her knees! I should have been British- we're so on the same page.  This is as short as I'd go! It would look good with my boots....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ahoy Mate!

Loving this LOFT sweater!
I'm feeling the nautical love this fall, but not sure how best to rock the stripes. I also don't have the shoulders to properly wear a boat neck top. As my endless online window shopping continues I have found this top that I really like. Let's see if I can get the picture on here...need to work on my skills... Striped Sweater with Corsage hmm... that gets me the link, but not the picture. Woo hoo! I got it! So how cute is this sweater? A bit nautical, very gray (I love my gray), works with jeans and I'm thinking could be dressed up a bit too? It rarely get very cold here, so this would work for the majority of "winter."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Things I love: kids version: Tell Me a Story

As my daughter has just spread these cards all across the floor, I find myself smiling and thinking what a wonderful toy this is and that I might share it! What it is is a collection of cards, playing card size, but thicker, with beautiful pictures on them. We have the Fairy Tale Mix-Up, but there's also Mystery in the Forest, Little Robot's Mission, Circus Animal's Adventures and possibly more. You put them together to make up a story! No batteries, no markers, no mess, fit in your purse/pocket (my husband's pockets, not mine.) We've used them in the car for long trips, at a restaurant (easy to use in small spaces and can be wiped off) and today we spread them about 3-4' across the floor and took turns making up our story. We each used a card to add to the story, back and forth till we got through all of them. Each time it's better; so much fun! I have a number of Eeboo products and love them. But these I love enough to share about! The whole family can play, she can play by herself, even my toddler likes to look at the pictures and swirl them all over the table/floor/tray! I fully recommend these!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Got fashion?

15 items. 30 days. Well this assumed a few things I didn't. 2 things in particular, 2 people I should say were not factored in. 2 darling children that I adore that have a gift for destroying my clothes. I try to do laundry every day and still have a hard time making it work! Also, no matter how much you love a shirt, if it doesn't look good on you, you're not going to wear it. Let it go. Big sigh. Good bye Gap sweater T. I loved you well. Alackaday, you did not return my love. It just doesn't work on me! So off it goes to the preggo closet (it'll be perfect for the first trimester or so.) I swapped it for a gray tank top and a pink cardigan set as it's getting cooler. Not cold by any means, but 80s in the day. I've also found myself profoundly bored with these clothes. I love, LOVE, that this project has gotten me out of the yoga pants; I've realized the benefit of taking 5 minutes to put an outfit together. It really makes my whole day better. So I'm adding some items in. My new plan is to add 1 item each Sunday. And I must wear that item during the week at some point. So I'm still finding new outfits I already own, but adding in some more clothing I already have. I believe the spirit of the thing is the same and damn it, it's my challenge, I'll do it my way! This past Sunday I added a white Gap ruffle tank that looks a lot like this, but the ruffles don't come down so far. Only about half way down the shirt.
I'm hoping to try to layer it under a great cardigan later this summer/fall as I can. Lastly, there is another shirt in my group that I love, but find myself not wearing. It looks cute on, that's not the problem, I just don't know what to wear with it:
Pencil skirt? Denim? I also swapped out that item for a jean skirt that actually fit (including breathing.) The new one is too light for this. Khakis? Feel like I'm in a uniform. Shorts? Camp counselor. Waiting for some divine inspiration on this one. Or it may go the way of the warrior as well.

The Bread Chronicles

Some interesting discoveries and results in the last few loaves. First, I can not hold a double batch of dough in my container. can NOT.  This finally stops overflowing and I put the lid on it and put it in the fridge to relax a little. This is my next discovery:
You have to appreciate- this is after I've taken the exploding container out. This is part of what's left. part. The lid has flown off and dough. is. everywhere. Surprisingly, the dough (in the container) was still ok. It felt air hardened and I worried it would be any good, but mixed it in and gave it a go and it was tasty! 

Next discovery- the steam is absolutely crucial to the great crust and must be started immediately. As in, not 10 minutes after the bread goes in (even if it's a 30 minute bake.) You can still eat it the other way, but the crust is much chewier and distinctly less fabulous.
failed baguette/awesome batard in process

Discovery 3: I make a great Bâtard. Alas, what I was trying to make was a baguette. Interesting side note, Bâtard is French for the word it sounds like. This is stolen from the Yankee Pot Roast. It's so beautiful I must share it:
It's the end of our date, that awkward moment where we kiss good-bye and I hope it's not really good-bye.

"Would you like to come upstairs and make sandwiches?" Lucy asks me.

"Oh yes. Yes, I would."

"I have many varieties of meats and cheeses," she whispers. I lick my lips.

We walk up three flights to her apartment and I'm getting hungrier with each step. She unlocks the door and before we even reach the kitchen, I'm rolling up my sleeves.

She opens the fridge. I grab a knife. We slice some Genoa salami, very, very thin. We slice turkey. We slice turkey ham. We slice turkey balogna. Slice, slice, slice. She pulls out some muenster, some Swiss. We're slapping slices on bread. We're squirting mayo, squeezing ketchup, splashing mustard. Spreading everything evenly. We're pushing our top breads onto our bottom breads. We've made great, big Dagwoods. I give her the knife and she slices her sandwich diagonally. Then mine, likewise. And then we raise our sandwiches and, at the same moment, we each take a hearty bite, as much as our mouths can handle.

"Mmmmmm," she mumbles through a stuffed mouth. "This is delicious."

"Mmmm," I say. "Mine too."

- Josh Abraham, Yankee Pot Roast

Now that is just hot. I have to go make bread right now.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Boots, Glorious Boots!

I'm having a love affair with a pair of boots I've never touched. It's a long distance relationship. But as I find myself online yet again, praying to find a similar pair with a much less similar price I thought I might post them here. Perhaps the shopping gods will see this and bring me a fabulous pair of knockoffs! (Or a 75% off coupon, that would work too!) Here they are in all their glory:

I can't seem to get a photo on here though. Let's try this:  woohoo! It worked! Though only tiny. Que sera. They really want to be mine, can't you hear them? However their price tag of $278 screams just a bit louder. Why is it so hard to find fabulous, simple boots? No buckles, no straps, no bling, just great boots?

A friend of mine suggested a "things I love" section. This may be because she hates shopping and is hoping I'll do the leg work for her, and I'm okay with that. Let the Glorious Boots begin the Things I Love collection!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

It crackles!

The Book (I feel it begs capitalization, yes) says your bread will crackle when it comes out of the oven. Well, sure, maybe their bread. But yesterday it did! I felt like the old Rice Krispies commercials- I just sat hunched over the bread listening and grinning like a 4 year old! Which happens to be an excellent grin. This second batch is significantly better than batch 1! So the question must be, is it the weird rising? It rose more, in all the wrong conditions, but none the less, it rose more. And this morning it received it's highest compliment. My husband was slicing some to take with some chili for lunch to work and asked, "can I just take the rest of the loaf with me? Are you making more today?" <insert said proud grin here.> My kids devoured it, the crust was better (I think that lies in the steam- when you remember it that is), I of course love it, but now a new fan! Hoorah! I can't wait to see how the baguettes turn out! I still have 2 more loaves worth of dough in the fridge before I attempt those. Though, these loaves are going pretty fast... Also, I'm really loving the herbs in it (rosemary & thyme.) I was a little worried they might add too much flavor, but no, it's just perfect! All in all I'm still loving this book! The authors have another book, Healthy Bread in 5 minutes a Day that I may have to try after this one, though I don't know where on earth the dough would fit in my fridge!

  • Something wonderful has come of this project, lettuce! A friend of mine mentioned on FB that she was planting lettuce and there are few things in the world as tasty as really good, really fresh lettuce and I was inspired. So off to the dreaded Wally World (this is where she obtained hers, so I followed suit, I am generally not a fan of the place.) and they are planted and looking lovely on my potting table! Where is this all headed? Hopefully to the worlds greatest sandwich! I have a dream...avocado, turkey, still warm bread, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts maybe, a slathering of mayo, a suggestion of mustard, The pure joy that only comes from a kick ass sandwich.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Days 3-5 of the Mighty 15

So far so good! I'm staying with my 15 though I'm already noticing some things. Like my jean skirt could fit much better. And of course I stained 2 items immediately! But the rules say:

1. Select 15 items from your closet: These can include shirts, trousers, jeans, cardigans, dresses, etc — in short, clothing. Make your final selections by August 30th.
2. Use unlimited accessories: Remix your outfits relying on all of your jewelry, shoes, scarves, outerwear (blazers/suit jackets do not equal outerwear!), and belts.
3. Captain Obvious: your pajamas and lounge-at-home clothing do not count, undergarments do not count, gym clothes do not count.
4. Make the COMMIT LIST: Document your list on your blog, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, loose-leaf paper, etc. Feel free to snap photographs of the items, list them — get creative! This is your commit list, and you can’t stray from it. Stain on shirt? DEAL WITH IT. Cat ripped your pants? Get a SEWING KIT.
5. Keep a diary: Document your outfits each day, whether it be via an “outfit of the day” photo or a log of what you’ve worn and how you’ve mixed it up.
6. Ask for help!: Call your friends, pen a blog. Don’t be afraid to ask friends for help on creative ideas on keeping your wardrobe fresh!
I'm holding to #4- Stain? Deal with it! So back into the wash they went with some TLC and a prayer. I completely forgot to take a photo of Day 4 so it was the black shirt from the Gap with the ON khaki bermuda shorts. I'm sure I'll get another chance to photo those later! Here's what else I've worn so far:
Day 3
Day 4 was of course the missing picture and Day 5 was this:

Bread: Round 2: Herb Bread!

A taller loaf on this 2nd bake.
Today we polished off the last of that first batch of bread and I do think each subsequent loaf (it made four 1lb loaves) was better than the last. Perhaps the extra sitting time helps? Here's a photo of the 3rd loaf of batch 1 of the Master Recipe Boule.

You can smell rosemary all through the house!
I also made up batch 2 today and added the fresh rosemary and thyme. So nice to use up some rosemary, let me tell you. This stuff grows like a weed! I need to give some away! I wish basil grew like that. Hmm..a project for another day. Back to the bread. True to my style, I threw the dough together, mixed in the herbs (will do that way earlier next time, exhausting to mix) all in the storage container this time.
Woo hoo, right? Whoops. I put it right in the fridge and forgot to set it out to rise. I realize this about an hour later? Ish? No problem, it's likely just sitting there waiting to rise. However, when I opened the fridge door, to what should my wondering eyes appear? Insanely risen dough!  I made it fill about 1/4 of the bucket. Last time it about doubled, maybe a little more, and it took all 2 hours. This time in a short time, it has quadrupled!
I was a bit lost as to whether at this point to just leave it in the fridge? Or to put in on the counter to have it's alloted rising time (could it rise more? even possible?) and then back in the fridge? Courtesy of a culinary genius who takes my calls, I was told to go ahead and put it in the fridge, the yeast had done it's work.
A few thoughts from this: why did it rise so fast? Even in the fridge? It says to use lukewarm water in the book, but it also says 100 degrees, this is not lukewarm to me. I was feeling lax about it, so I just cranked up the water and didn't check the temp; this must have done it? Second, this is way more than the last batch rose, about twice as much. Perhaps this bread will be so much lighter? The last bread didn't seem heavy like some homemade breads can be. Though I wouldn't have called it fluffy. I'm very excited to bake it tomorrow and see how it is!
Side bit: I tried using the books suggestion for lazy sourdough by not washing the bucket after the last batch of dough, but just scraping the sides and letting that mix in with the new. I'm sure my faithful follower just shuddered as she read that, but it does get cooked, Mom! Hopefully this new batch will be a little more sourdoughy. It didn't say how long that takes to start up? Ah well, easier than a true starter!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 2 of the Mighty 15

Day 2: Gap top, ON skirt and shoes, bracelet from awesome little consignment shop in Ft. Walton Beach, FL.

Earrings from Steele's

Finally an outfit to go with my wooden bracelet! I found it for pennies at a great little consignment shop in Ft. Walton Beach, Fl. I'm wondering how long I can go before I repeat an outfit? Could I possibly make it the whole way? Let's see, there's supposed to be some math to figure this out. Flashing back...flashing it "8!" Is that right? That's also assuming everything coordinated. We'll see!
Desperately needing a trip to the afore mentioned ironing board... how will I do up this one? But it is a great dress! Got to love Old Navy!
10 of the Mighty 15
And last but not least: 11 through 15 of the Mighty 15. Have to cover your bum! I have Gap Khaki pants, Long and Lean jeans and denim skirt and the khaki bermudas and green/khaki skirt are from Old Navy
6 through 9 of the Mighty 15
Here we have yet more from the Gap family, but wait? What's this? A little NY & Co? She does shop anywhere else? Top right is from NY & Co, bottom left from Gap, all else from Old Navy. This documents my previously unknown blue fetish.

The Mighty 15

Here they are, the Mighty 15! I've chosen 2 dresses, 8 shirts and 5 bottoms. Lord, be with me! But really, you can only go up from work out gear (when you're not working out) right?
2 through 5 of the Mighty 15
L to R (top), khaki short sleeved sweater (it's very light, I don't have a death wish) from the Gap, white pin tucked T from Old Navy. Bottom: flower shirt- Old Navy, black shirt Gap. Can you tell where I shop? Hmm...I really mix it up, don't I?

The 15:30 Challenge!

Day 1: Dressed up Boden dress
Project: Get out of my yoga pants! A fabulous blogger I follow cited a fabulous blogger she follows and so I've come to find this 15:30 challenge! What is it? Pick 15 items of clothing to wear for, ready? 30 days. Now obviously, not undies, PJs, workout clothes, just day to day wear.  I think this was originally for those folks stuck in a rut of outfits to challenge them to remix, but for me, it's challenging me to actually use the cute clothes in my closet! I own an iron. I do! Hard to believe, I know, but it's in my room. Just wishing someone would do something other than stack clothes next to it on the laundry board. I'll be posting my choices and the ways I can mix and remix it. I've had a lot of fun already just digging through my closet and finding things I love! And things I love that will, never, ever fit (appropriately) again, and things that really shouldn't be there at all.

Factors: It's still incredibly warm and muggy here, but hopefully within the next 30 days it will cool a bit. If so, I will re-look at my choices and possible trade shorts for pants as needed. Also, I'm not factoring in special events (on the off chance any happen) but I am figuring on my church clothes coming out of this.

So now I've laid out my choices, it turns out I love navy. Who knew? Had you asked me I would have said brown. Hm. This is useful already!

Here's a photo of Day 1! A wonderful brown Boden dress that's been in my closet, wanting to be loved, but needing something to go with it. I decided it would be 1 of my 15 and managed to dig up a necklace I've never worn and some beady straps! Dress: Boden; Necklace: Payless; Shoes: Old Navy.

Holy Rising Yeast, Batman!

Glorious bread, round 1!
So, I'm embarking on this bread adventure, ready to try my luck, no matter how many tries and low and behold, the first batch. whoa. My butter is happy to be on this bread. I'm posting the the book I'm using, and no, I'm not one of those cool bloggers who gets sent free stuff to review. Just an Amazon junkie who bought this book hoping not to drive 30 minutes to Publix to get the closest thing I could to great bread. Why doesn't this town have a real bakery?? The book is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking

Now this is the basic, "Master Recipe: Boule" as they call it. The book has more (thank goodness!) And yes, it did only take 5 minutes of actual work a day, over two days to start it. It has to sit quite awhile, but that doesn't require anything from you other than counter and fridge space. I really didn't expect this to work out so well initially. First of all, I'm not much of a baker, I'm more of a stove top kind of lady. Second, I made 2 loaves and tried to squeeze them on the same stone in the oven. And did I mention my dough was all kinds of wet? And I grabbed too small of dough balls to start? This is like idiot proof bread- perfect! I love all bread, all carbs, let's be honest, but I adore crusty bread. I'm stuffing my pie hole, as I type, hopefully no butter on the keys, with crusty, $4/loaf kind of bread. That I made. That I have enough for 2 more loaves just sitting in my fridge, waiting to be brought to life. I'm. in. heaven. The only true crime here is that it's too late to make an awesome cup o' joe to go with it. WAIT! I bought decaf the other day! I knew there was a reason! I love it when I outsmart myself!

Next project: Herb Bread variation. 
It recommends thyme and rosemary, but I already have fresh rosemary growing out of control in my backyard. Do I really want to go to the store for fresh thyme? I bought some herbs a bit ago, I'll have to dig through the fridge and see if there's any thyme there...

After that? Baguettes! That is typed with glee and a little bum wiggle in my seat! I can wolf down a baguette like a starving Frenchie! When I get really good I'll have to run my bread past the true Frenchies and see if it passes muster!

Here goes!

I've decided to share my thoughts with the world! Well, the world that decides to read this. Probably just you, Carrie! I'm taking on some projects that I want to keep track of, which is how this all started. First, I'm going to master crusty, fabulous bread. I AM. Second, I'm trying desperately to get out of my workout clothes/mom look and morph into a Yes, I Own an Iron/mom look. There was a time I had style, approximately 5 years ago... This seems like the best way to keep track and document it! As well as all my other thoughts. Hopefully it serves as a good release and if someone else enjoys it, hey! Bonus!