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I love weekends.

April 7, 2012

Can I just tell you how much I love weekends? I love weekends.  Well, some of them.  The one’s where Scott is home I love, when he is at work for 60-80 hours a week which bleeds into Friday night and all day Saturday (which happens 9 times out of 10) I hate them.  But he is home this weekend.  We went on a date last night and another slated for tonight.

And I REALLY love this vintage sweater. Gaudy ribbon rose buttons and all. :)

She is at a movie with her dad right now so I can finish up a few little things for Easter tomorrow.

My lunch date. She looks so grown up today...

Yesterday Creamie and I went to IKEA  and I found the most life changing little kitchen cart. It has changed the way I use my house, in only 24 hours. Amazing. I wish I’d had something like this 5 years ago!

My building helper this afternoon.

She helped me put it together.  She’s a team player like that.  Also, she brought me Woody’s hat to hold all the teeny little screws.  Thanks Woody.

Done! Time to fill it up with all the craft/sewing junk on my table. And it fits in my pantry so I hope that means I will just put it away everyday and we can eat on the table again! Yay!

Do you see the potential here?  I know.  So so great.  It is already full of all the crap that was on my table.  I only wish it had one more basket/tray/shelf thing to hold my actual sewing machine.  And the best part about the whole thing is that it rolls right into my pantry.  So I can roll it out, work on my projects and then just roll it back so we can eat dinner on the table.  Eating dinner at the table once a week was one of my goals this year.  It’s maybe happened twice.  And only because I sliced my finger and haven’t done much sewing these past few weeks.  But now that will change.  I am so excited about it.  The bet $50 I’ve spent on organization stuff ever.

Asleep on the floor in the hall. Again. Two nights in a row.

Alright, I’m back to the last minute Easter things.  When Creamie and Scott get home we are dying Easter eggs and tomorrow morning I need to make three pies before church.  My great grandma’s fresh strawberry, lemon meringue and my favorite rhuberry pie.  Tomorrow is going to be awesome. (Also, Creamie has taken to falling asleep on the floor in the hall at night.  It is hilarious.)

Making my Own Butter. And Bread Too.

April 5, 2012

Lately I’ve kind of been on a foodie kick.  It all started a couple of months ago when I ground my own wheat into flour to bake bread for the first time.  And you know how one thing leads to another.  Last week while Creamie and I were home sick we made butter.  And I didn’t even see this on Pinterest.

seconds please

Creamie actually came up with this idea all on her own.  She has two library  books she’s been loving lately where they churn cream into butter.

little house book

One is Winter Days in the Big Woods (the Big Woods of Laura Ingalls Wilder fame) illustrated by Renee Graef.  Well, on Fridays is the day they churn butter and put it in the little strawberry mold.  And Laura is too little so she just watches, which kind of bugs Creamie.  She keeps telling me she has big muscles so she can make butter herself.  So funny.
Snipp Snapp Snurr book

And the other book she has been loving lately is Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Buttered Bread.  It was published in 1934 and is about 3 Swedish boys who want butter for their bread, which their mother of course churns herself.  And after reading each of these books a million times each, Creamie asked me if I could make butter on my sewing machine.  She thinks that a sewing machine can make/fix anything.  Turns out, making butter isn’t that complicated.  So long as you have a few big muscles.

start with cream

Start with heavy cream.  Fill a mason jar, or other glass jar with a tight fitting lid, halfway with cold cream.  Mine is a little too full, I had to take some out before I was done.  Make sure you screw the lid on tight.

shake it up

Then start shaking it.  Shake and shake and shake it.  Creamie was interested in this part for the first minute and the last 30 seconds.  And I was in charge of the 22 minutes in between.  Think of it as a workout.  Because your arms will be jello by the time you are done.  At first you’ll hear the cream swishing around in there, and then as it gets thicker it will coat the sides of the jar and you won’t really hear it anymore.  Then it will start to feel like the whole thing has solidified.   But it hasn’t.  (This was the point that I opened up my jar, saw that the cream was so thick it couldn’t move around at all and took a few big spoonfuls out and put them in another jar, and the next time I didn’t fill my jar more than halfway up with cream to start out.)  A few more minutes and the butter and the buttermilk will start to separate and you’ll hear the sloshing of fresh buttermilk.  Shake it a bit more until all the solids pull together into a lump and you have officially made butter.

butter and buttermilk

Depending on a bunch of factors, this can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes.  The colder the cream the better, the faster you shake the jar the faster it will turn into butter and the faster your arms will turn to goo.   Pour off the buttermilk, which you can save for baking or anything else you use buttermilk for.  My mom used to drink it with a bit of fresh ground black pepper.  I always thought it looked/sounded/smelled disgusting, I never was a fan of drinking buttermilk.  Of course my mom grew up on a little farm with a cow and her mom made butter every single week in her big churn.  Butter and buttermilk was a way of life for her.

fresh golden butter

Anyway, back to the butter at hand.  After you pour off the buttermilk you are left with perfectly dreamy butter.  Stir in a little salt (I only used a pinch).  It is barely pale yellow, but nothing like the artificial yellow of most store bought butter.  I mean, you can add some Yellow 5 if you want to, but I left mine that perfectly pale pale yellow.

chill butter

Scrape the butter into a dish, it will be really soft at this point, and put it in the fridge for a few minutes to harden up.  Keep it stored in the fridge with a tight lid or wrapped tight with plastic wrap so it doesn’t absorb odors from other foods.

fresh bread

And now that your butter is done, you’ll probably need some freshly ground whole wheat bread (my recipe at the end) to go with it.  The 3 Swedish boys in the story have fresh bread.  And since I was going to have homemade fresh butter I decided I needed homemade bread to go with it.  It was the next logical step.  And then I kind of felt like the boy in the book If you Give a Mouse A Cookie…

seconds please

Spread on the butter and watch it melt into a nice warm slice.  And then have another.  And then maybe one more.

homegrown honey

And then try some with butter and honey.  My mom gave me this jar of honey for Christmas.  It is from a beehive on the street where I grew up.  And it is the best honey I’ve ever tasted.  My mom is looking into getting her own bees and I can hardly wait.

with jam

And then I had another slice with butter and my mom’s plumberry jam.  We ate a lot of warm bread that afternoon.  It was heavenly.

Since I know someone will ask, here is my whole wheat bread recipe.  I have a big professional kitchenaid and I always use it to make bread.  I don’t know how to make bread without it.  I usually use the water/sugar/oil version because it is so much cheaper.  But if I have milk that is on it’s way out I’ll use that.  Milk and honey bread is delicious,  it’s just more expensive.

WHOLE WHEAT BREAD 1 hour start to finish.

  • 2.5 cups warm water OR warm milk
  • 1/3 sugar OR honey
  • 1.5 TB SAF fast rising yeast*(see notes)
  • 1/4 cup oil OR room temp butter (NOT melted)
  • 2 tea salt
  • 6 cups flour (any combo of whole wheat and white, or all one or the other.  I use all fresh ground white wheat flour. My post about grinding my own wheat here.)

Pour the water, sugar and yeast into the mixing bowl and let it sit for a minute or two.  Then add in the rest of the ingredients and mix with the dough hook for 5 minutes on medium high.  You should have a smooth almost glossy dough that doesn’t stick to the bottom or the sides of the bowl.  Let the bowl down and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Raise the bowl and mix for 30 more seconds.  Lower the bowl and let it rest for 5 more minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form into tw0 loaves.  Put them in greased bread pans and let them sit in a warm spot for 15-20 minutes until they have risen about an inch above the sides of the pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove from pans immediately and let cool on a wire rack.

NOTES: I have always used SAF yeast.  I can get it at my grocery store, but it’s also on Amazon ($9) from King Arthur Flour ($6) and from The WEBstaraunt store ($3).  I didn’t check into shipping prices for any of them, nor am I affiliated with any of them, but you have a couple of options to look at there.  Keep your yeast in a quart mason jar in the freezer.  It will last a lot longer without losing it’s magic rising powers.

Turn on your oven when you set the bread out to rise.  I usually let my bread pans sit on top of my stove to rise because my kitchen is usually pretty chilly.  If it’s under 70 degrees F it will take longer to rise.  That’s OK, just let it do it’s thing and put it in when it’s an inch taller than the sides of the pans.

Use an oven thermometer.  I have to set my oven to 350 degrees for it to warm up to 325.  The oven will beep and say it’s ready after 6 minutes.  At that point it’s usually only about 150 degrees in there.  It takes about 12 minutes to warm up to 325.  Know your oven’s inconsistencies.  And believe me.  It has them.

And one more kind of embarrassing confession… I can’t cut a straight slice of bread to save my life.  It’s impossible.  My loaf always ends up looking like a trapezoid before it’s half gone.  I’m a dork.

I am in no way a bread expert.  I only make one kind.  I’ve been using this recipe since I was about 6 or 7 years old helping my mom and I just stick with what works.  Maybe one day I’ll branch out, but as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  But you should probably paint it pink and decorate it with washitape no matter what.

Twirling

April 4, 2012

I really wasn’t planning on making up a new pattern for a dress today.  But it happened anyway.

Twirling. I did not wake up this morning with plans to draft a new pattern... But the muslin turned out so great I think she is wearing this on Easter. Yay!

And today ended in twirling.  I think it’s still a win.  Now, about all those things I didn’t do today…

Felt Cactus Friends

April 2, 2012

So the other project I made from my new felt pattern book is this little cactus.  It is just a smidgen over 5″ tall.  And it is made of 43 teensy pieces, plus just a bit of fluff.

felt cactus

cactus and a pot

And it has a removable pot.  (Of course it does, right?  Wouldn’t be as cute without it. No really, it wouldn’t.)

pot details

I did change the pot just a bit, I added the scallop border at the top, which made it about 1/4″ taller.  But I think I like it that way better anyway.  If I make this again I’ll probably do some embroidery on my pot before I stitch it together.  But I didn’t think of that until it was too late this time around.

little cactus

So the real question is does this type of cactus have a purple and blue flower?  I don’t know.  Probably not.  In the book she used two yellows for her flower, but I don’t have any yellow.  All my bits of felt are leftovers from a Christmas present I made for my mom last year, which never made it to blogland.  And there was no yellow.  But since I got this book two weeks ago I have actually been looking into wholesale felt and bulk pricing and I really am quite obsessed…. it’s ridiculous.  And now Creamie wants a cactus too.  One little lipstick just doesn’t compare I suppose.

Playing with Felt

April 1, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I got the book Big Little Felt Universe by Jeanette Lim.  It is full of sweet little felt handsewn projects. I’ve never really sewn with felt before, I mean, a little bit, but not much.  But when I saw some of the patterns inside I couldn’t resist buying it (especially for under $9).  Creamie has had a lot of fun pointing out all the things she wants me to make for her.  And yesterday I made my first little project.

serious business

Felt Lipstick.  Doesn’t get cuter than that.  She has been carrying it around and trying it out since I finished the last stitch.

lipstick girl

Yep, it even has a cutie little removable lid.  It kills me.  The whole thing is only 3″ tall.  Which is a lot of very tiny little stitches.  Particularly considering it has 17 different pieces…

felt lipstick

But even with 17 teensy beensy pieces, it only took me a little over and hour to make.  My kind of project.

pucker up

And she’s such a girly girl it’s her kind of project too.  Win win all around.  Jeanette Lim, the author and designer of the book also has an etsy shop full of beautiful and amazing felt patterns.  I want every single thing in her shop.  Seriously.

March 2012

March 31, 2012

I can’t believe March is over already.  In some ways it has gone so slowly (hello, events of March 7 that have left me less than myself…) and in other ways I can hardly believe it is already April.  I have got a lot of things to tell you about.  Really.  But typing is still painful.  I have some permanent nerve damage in my left pointer finger from when I sliced it, and touching anything sends tingles and shivers through it.  So even now, 3.5 weeks later I am still typing with 9 fingers.  And it is still under bandaid wraps everyday.  That little bit of constant pressure relieves a lot of the tingles that are coming from the raw nerve.  It’s not super painful, but it is enough to make me want to avoid touching anything.  But it is getting a lot better.  A LOT better.  For which I am truly grateful.  It could have ended up a lot worse.  After two weeks of staying home sick with my little Creamie she is finally better.  For now.

March 2012 mosaic

So here is my March, via my instagram feed. Three months into the year and I am still successfully taking a photo everyday.  Next year I think I’ll set a goal of taking a real camera photo everyday.  But I am so glad I have my phone with me all the time and can catch small moments I’d otherwise miss.  Like yesterday.  Creamie tried chopsticks for the first time and successfully ate one french fry.  Very authentic, I know.  You can click on that mosaic to go to flickr and get more info on any of those pictures.

Cauliflower crust pizza. First time making it but def not the last! So so good!

Scott isn’t home tonight, and so I took the opportunity to make cauliflower crust pizza.  I’m kind of on a veggie kick lately, and I’ve been avoiding carbs and sugar for two weeks.  I have been craving pizza, and I figured if you put enough oregano and fresh herbs on/in it then it’s going to taste like pizza no matter what, right? Right.  I liked it.  It still needs some tweaking to be perfect, but it was awesome to eat pizza without breaking my no carb streak. (I’ve been trying the South Beach diet again, and in the past two weeks I’ve lost 10 pounds just by being careful about what I eat, it’s awesome.)

And speaking of what I eat, I also started making my own Greek yogurt.  It’s been a staple the past two weeks, but after forking out $12 for two quarts of nonfat Chobani, which lasted only 4 days, I did some math and figured at that rate I’d be spending like $800 a year on yogurt.  So I tried making my own.  I’ll share that whole process on Monday after I take some pictures while I make it tomorrow.  It now only costs me $2.50 to make two quarts of nonfat Greek yogurt.  Win.  Be back soon.

Life Lately

March 25, 2012
tags:

Whenever you think stuff is caught up and under control you get thrown a couple dozen curve balls.  And a few  chickens just to throw you off.  (No, we didn’t get chickens.  But imagine if someone was hurling a dozen baseballs AND a few chickens at you.  That’s kind of how I feel lately.)  Last Sunday Creamie wasn’t feeling well, by Tuesday morning she was much better, and then Wednesday health in our house took a nosedive.  And we are still hanging out there, skimming the ocean, trying not to plunge into the sea and drown.  OK, I’m probably being dramatic.  Kind of.  But Creamie hasn’t been well since Tuesday afternoon, with various completely unrelated things, which when they combine equal a horrid storm of snot and yucky coughs that prevent everyone in our house from sleeping.  Blerg.*

lately mosaic

Top row: Spring is here. (I think part of this nastiness is allergies for her.  Which is why I hate spring and am obsessively in love with winter. Winter I start missing you the first time I see a teensy hint of green anywhere.) I am deep cleaning my whole house.  She is riding her bike around the kitchen in only underwear because she changed her name to Tarzan (and Tarzan doesn’t wear clothes).  And she is really into toast as a midnight snack lately.

Second Row: When she first got sick all she wanted was to snuggle with her daddy at night.  I took out my own stitches.  I am a DIY’er like that.  My finger is getting much better, but I am still not typing with it or playing the piano.  I got a new vintage book in the mail. Dorothy Grider is my favorite illustrator.  And Creamie has been working at her new office with her new cardboard and sharpie computer.

Third Row: We got some snow.  It stayed for two days.  She was too sick to get off the couch and we missed it all.  We made butter! (more on that tomorrow). She is taking care of her sick babydolls and rocking them and getting them juice and applesauce a lot.

Last Row: Mama Flashback: Her tiny little person at 11 months old pushing the cart at Costco, all by herself.  Creamie’s nailpolish of choice.  She is currently painted a different color on each hand and foot.  Pink and brown on her toes and black and clear on her fingers. Her choice.  Still sick.  She had a coughing attack today that scared her so bad because she couldn’t breathe.  She only sleeps with some serious medication.  And still wakes up when it wears off around 4 or 4:30 am… and then up. for. the. day.  So so gross.

And the last pic.  I left my house this morning for the second time since last Sunday.  It was kind of momentous.  I’ll be back tomorrow with the story of how I came to make butter last week.  It’s a good one.

*Blerg: adjective/expletive.  It’s been getting a lot of use at my house this week.

P.S. Also, can I just tell you how much I love Big Huge Labs for letting me make all these mosaics for free? Love big huge labs.  And I don’t care who knows it. Click on the pic to see it on flickr with a link to each individual photo and more info… if you are into more info and stuff.

A Quilt for Me!

March 19, 2012

One of the goals on my 30 Before 30 List is to make myself a quilt.  Over the past few years I’ve made more than 25 quilts.  And I didn’t have a single one to snuggle with.  The first quit I made SHOULD be on my couch, but it is on Creamie’s bed until I finish her big girl quilt.   Which, ahem, has been cut out and half sewn together for more than a year! New goal: Get on that.  But instead of finishing hers and reclaiming that first quilt, I made a new one for me.  Whatever, goal completed.  Number 29 is crossed off my list.
quilt for me

I was at work at my little quilt shop a few weeks ago and saw the pretty Heather Bailey dotted paisley fabric that is in the border. (It’s a reprint from her FreshCut line.) It’s not really my colors, but I couldn’t stop staring at it and touching it.  So I grabbed some more things that went with it and a little ricrac and came home. That was on a Tuesday.  On Friday I cut it out and started sewing and by Saturday at lunch the quilt top was finished.  It was a record.

quilt mosaic

I dropped it off for my friend to quilt (she longarmed it) and waited for my turn.  In the meantime I sliced off the edge of my finger. That day she called me to say it was done.  And then she was super extra nice and when I told her what I did she told me to bring in the binding and she’d trim the quilt for me and machine stitch it on.  And so with my less than 24 hour old wound I did what anyone would do and spent 3 hours watching a movie and stitching that binding down by hand.  With a lot of Tylenol and a huge bandaged finger.  The first 12 inches or so was pretty awkward, but after that I got in a groove and it went much better.

ruching detail

My favorite part of this quilt, other than the fact that it is done and I’m using it everyday…. actually, wait.  That is my favorite part.  But I really like how the ruched strips turned out.  They took FOR.EV.ER.  I don’t know that I’ll do that again.  Maybe.  They are really cute though.  And I love the ricrac.  And that I got to use some of my favorite print, Henna Garden from Sandi Henderson in there too.  (It’s the green on green circle/floral print.) But mostly I love that it is done.

back and quilting details

I backed it with minkee, which is the softest stuff on the planet and my friend Kellie quilted it with feathers in the big border, leaves in the small green stop border and then loops and swirls in the middle.  And if I was making it again I’d probably choose the darkest blue polka dot fabric for the binding instead of the bias stripes, but whatever.  Live and learn and snuggle down in your finished quilts and then don’t worry about it.  The quilt is finished at 58″x72″.  I didn’t use a pattern, but I’m making another one for a friend and I’ll share more details when that one is finished.

Also, I woke up to snow this morning, I’m sure it will be melted by tomorrow.  Which in my book means that it doesn’t count.  Stupid Lame Winter 2012 is over and we are officially in Spring.  Which means I’m on medication for allergies.  Yeah, they have already started.  Sigh.

Party Time

March 17, 2012

Every year my fun neighbor Jessie hosts a fantastic St. Patricks Day breakfast.  She goes all out.  Green everything!  This year she had at least 50 people shoehorned into her small house all wearing green, eating green and just enjoying being together.  It’s one of my favorite traditions we’ve adopted since living here.

St. Patty's mosiac

I make green baking powder biscuits every year.  But this year Creamie and I got to go all matchy matchy in striped tights.  Hers are from her Halloween costume, and mine?  Well mine are just for fun.  Happy St. Patricks Day!  Hope you are doing something fun.

PS- Thanks for your nice comments about my cut.  My finger is getting better.  The doc decided (at a lot of urging from me) to leave the stitches in a few more days.  I’m glad he agreed with me.  The last two days it has looked and felt a LOT better.  I hope to be back to my regular (almost) self soon.

Small Setbacks

March 12, 2012

Right when I started to feel like I was right on top of things I had a minor setback.  Last week I sliced off the edge of my left index finger while I was cutting out a quilt.  At first I didn’t think it was too big of a deal.  I mean, it hurt a lot, and it took quite a few bandaids to get it under control.  But I finished cutting out 10 quilt kits for a class I am teaching next month and then went to pick up Creamie from school.

Hair done. I kind of love it!

My mom immediately sent me to get it checked out.  Creamie stayed with her for the afternoon and had an extra dose of preschool.  She now has the letter U down pat.  And it turns out I did need stitches, only three of them, but still. Stitches.  (And if details make you queasy you might want to skip this next part.) I sliced off a piece of my finger with a rotary cutter, and initially I didn’t think there was anything to stitch.  But after looking at the doctor told me that he was just going to stretch my skin up and stitch it to my fingernail.  So he gave me a few numbing shots, one right underneath my fingernail which hurt almost as bad as giving birth, and then stitched through my fingernail to close up the wound and stop the bleeding.  And then I got a tetanus shot to top things off.  He wrapped it up good and told me to come back in a week to have the stitches out.

stitches mosaic

I went and picked up Creamie from my mom’s, my arm sore from the tetanus shot.  And I didn’t think too much of it until the numbing shots in my finger wore off a few hours later.  Then it was five days of constant Tylenol and trying to keep my hand above my heart so my finger didn’t grow it’s own heartbeat. That lovely black square, the bottom right above, was taken at about 3 am while I was waiting for the Tylenol to kick back in and I could go back to sleep.   I have taken more extra strength Tylenol, and the pain has bothered me more in thsese past five days than the five days after giving birth.  For real. Of course I did do a little sewing.  I finished the quilt for the class I am teaching and then did the handwork on the binding of another quilt.  Both on the day that it happened.  I was dumber then.  And perhaps that is why that black photo of my bedroom ceiling happened in the first place.  Whatever.

Had to do it. Couldn't talk myself out of it. #fleamarketfancy um, five yards of happy :)

I keep bumping it and it bleeds again and it is generally miserable.  This is the first I’ve sat down to type since then, and I’ll just say I’m grateful for spell check, because typing with only 9 fingers is a lot more than 10% less effective…  And I of course bought myself some new Flea Market Fancy to cheer me up.  It totally helped.   But cooking at my house has been non existent.  Good thing I have several meals in the freezer that we have been able to eat.  And I have a great hubby who helped me make roasted turkey and mashed potatoes for dinner yesterday.  Today I traded out the big huge cumbersome bandages for a few bandaids.  And I was able to take a shower and wash my hair all by myself.  Which felt good.  It’s getting better.  But it freaks me out that the stitches are coming out on Wednesday… I might skip that appointment and take them out myself on Friday or Saturday.  I have taken my own stitches out more than once before.  I’m kind of anti doctors office….

Love her.

So, there you have it.  We’ve been really enjoying the springy weather, for the first time in my life.  I think it has mostly to do with the fact that winter was non existent. And I do have some picture of finished projects to show you, but I think they will be mostly wordless posts.  Typing is still really awkward.  Maybe I’ll see if I can figure out posting from my phone.  Because I’ve come to be a great texter.  My thumbs can find those letters lickety split! My other 8 fingers aren’t so good at taking over for the one…

Diet coke, stripey straw and a girls night = awesome!

On Saturday I spent the evening with some lovely ladies chatting, drinking diet coke out of cute straws and looking at the beautiful home of Erin.  It was a much needed escape after the week I had.  I’ll be back soon with some photos, but not many words for a while.  I’m sure you understand.

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