Making Bread

Part of being home is nuturing and nourishing the family.ย  After husband read In Defense of Food, a renewed sense of commitment to nutritional quality and wellness arose.ย  I find it difficult to buy manufactured loaves of bread.ย  Hopefully this is a practice that will last because the allure of homemade bread is irresistible and extremely enjoyable.

Many thanks to this book for making it so easy, though it does eat a chunk out of our refrigerator.ย  I know I’ve mentioned it before.

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I think it’s worth it, though, and I’m sure the kids do, too.

our artisan bread

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For Love of Bread

caseysbread03-09.jpgJust when I’m thinking I need to be reducing my wheat/gluten consumption, my husband’s passion for flour-based foods finds yet another outlet — Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

No, he doesn’t have it down to five minutes — yet.  Yes, it is delicious, and he’s just getting started.  He’s already made this concept of bread at least six times, one of which included making four (or was it six?) baguettes!

When it comes to food, bread is about as basic, nourishing and nurturing as it gets.  Sharing with others makes it even better.  So, if you happen my way, don’t be surprised if I offer some bread — that is, if the kids haven’t eaten it all. 

Now, we’ll have to see if we can bake it in the outdoor oven without burning it!

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A Very Loooong Project

My husband’s birthday is in May, and I’m glad he told me what he wants now since it may very well take until then to knit this monster.  Of course, if I had a time traveling phone booth, it would be a lot easier.

Pick your season, and duplicate your own Dr. Who scarf thanks to the diligence and work shared at the site.  You have to understand that my husband is 6’5″.  To have a scarf that hits the floor and loops at the knees, we are talking around 20-something feet long!  I told him I could knit it and then piece it together for a small throw.

I’ve already signed up for Netflix.  Now, to buy some yarn (I think KnitPicks may be my best resource in that department) and any excuse to buy some new needles.  Let the knitting begin!

(Don’t expect photos until May!!)

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Handkerchief Quilt, Personally Interpreted

I have a collection of handkerchiefs from my maternal great-grandmothers, grandmother, and great aunt.  One of the gifts made for Christmas was a quilt from these handkerchiefs for my mother.  I originally had lofty ideas of how beautiful this would be, but in reality, the hankies came in all colors and sizes.  Not to mention, I was making the last stitches on the binding as my mother entered my home on Christmas Eve.  Alas, a quilt was made, the love stitched throughout.  In my haste and lack of battery-charging, few photos were taken at the end of the process.

Due to the delicate nature of the handkerchiefs (most of which are much older than me), I backed them with Wonder-Under and the comparable alternative for which I don’t have a name but was all I could find when I made a mad dash back to the fabric store for more, only to find they were out of the W-U.

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I laid out the kerchiefs in the order they fit best within the dimensions of the quilt — 45″x60″.  It’s a crib size quilt, but perfect for a lap quilt, too.  The smartest thing I did was take this photo.  I could refer to it later when the kids helped with arranging the kerchiefs they way they thought they should be arranged.  No, not very helpful.

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I then ironed the hankies onto the front piece, a nice soft flannel.  This is why Wonder-Under is so wonderful. It’s just an adhesive interfacing to hold your applique in place until it’s sewn; it also helps prevent fraying.

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Once everything’s ironed into place, I took time to sew around all the kerchief edges and once around the middle to make sure it is held in place.  For sake of time, I didn’t want to have to do a lot of quilting, so this at least gave it more of a quilted appearance.

Time to layer.  The flannel I chose for the front was also used for the back, except with the wrong side out.  The wrong side is a solid beige, unlike the front that has a faint petite floral pattern (which unfortunately mostly faded in the wash).  The middle layer is natural cotton batting, crib size.  I pinned all three layers and trimmed the edges to make attaching the binding easier later.

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I used the machine to quilt.  Obviously, I was in a time crunch and honestly have not taken the time to hand-quilt anything as of yet. Using a wavy stitch on the machine I just ran through the quilt between all the handkerchiefs, starting from the middle and working my way out.  In my haste, I made mistakes and had a couple of gathers, but for this casual quilt, I think it will be fine — much like the purchased mocha-colored binding.  You can make your own binding, to be sure, but for sake of time and considering it was on sale for 30% off, it couldn’t be beat.

And neither could the expression on my mother’s face, knowing she would love the quilt even more than me.

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The other halves of the handkerchiefs are saved, not to worry.  I promised my daughter I could make one for her someday, too.  As a finishing touch to the above quilt, I added a couple of embellishments.  One is a strip of ribbon that says “family ties,” which I knotted on either side and hand-sewed it into place toward the top.  At the bottom I made a “homemade” tag and sewed it into the binding.  Sometimes these little touches add even more personality.  Personality is something women in my family definitely have.

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Felt Booties, Part Three

Finally, all finished.

Fabric paint on the soles of the slippers keep little ones from ice-skating around and hopefully prevent some of the falls that inevitably come at their age.

A crochet hook pulls the ribbon through to tie a bow.  I went ahead and secured the bow with some needle and thread, hopefully warding off the endless re-tying.

Now, they’re ready to gift.  Later this winter, I foresee myself making some in the larger sizes.  ๐Ÿ™‚

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My First Hat!

I’ve looked at a couple of hat patterns, and I already had some circular needles.  I just hadn’t used either!  I took the needles, some leftover and some new yarn and went to knittin’ while hubby drove to Austin for the Maker Faire.  (I will be oh-so-glad when I can knit without having to look at my hands!  Carsickness be damned!)  I just finished it recently, finally using an upholstery needle to tie off the top; my daughter’s plastic knitting/tapestry needle couldn’t be found.

I learned I still don’t really know what I’m doing when I’m knitting.  Some instruction and more reading would probably greatly increase my skill level.  For now, though, it’s a hat I would and do wear.

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The benefit of making your own wares is that you can say, “I meant to do that.” ๐Ÿ™‚  I don’t have to tell everyone where/how I “messed” up.  It’s a hat a mother can love.

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Homemade Cherry Pie

I’m not talking about canned* pie filling, either! 

My husband blessed me this year with a cherry pitter, and I couldn’t be more appreciative!  These cherries were picked from our aging tree out back and stored in the fridge for about a week.  My youngest sat beside me (practically in the sink) while I stood there for half an hour pitting cherries — much better than two hours using a knife!  I had been asked to make the pie sweeter this year, so I went ahead and tossed in some sugar with the cherries while they waited to become filling.

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A few days later, I’m ready to make a pie, hubby having guests over and all.  So I rely on Betty Crocker’s cherry pie recipe.  I blend up a double pie crust.

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Roll it out.

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Use a pizza cutter to cut the top crust into strips.

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Pour in the filling and top with a lattice pattern.  You can see the dots of butter under the crust.  Yep, this isn’t a low-cal pie!

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We baked, cooled and enjoyed, especially served warm with some vanilla ice cream.  That’s what the end of summer is all about.  I should have taken photos of the blueberry pie I made two weeks ago!  That one didn’t last long, either!

cherry_pie6.jpg*It should probably be noted for those of you who are only used to canned cherries that wild cherries have a tougher skin.  I think it makes it more hearty, but for some it takes some getting used to, right, dear?

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Kids Making Butter

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It doesn’t get better than this.  I gave my kids (at least half of them) something to do while I was making dinner.  It worked, tasted great, and there’s more than enough for the rest of the week.

My husband notified me of a CRAFT post about homemade butter, told me about it, and I knew we had to give it a try.  CRAFT linked to this site here which has a nice photo and lovely instructions.

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What we did:

Pint heavy cream put in a
Ball jar with lid (which did leak a little bit)

shaking_butter.jpgSHAKE and shake and shake some more

Chill to harden a bit (I put it in the freezer for a few for sake of time)

Use in mashed potatoes and on corn on the cob.

Now, to make some bread and/or muffins to try it out!

I should note that the directions said to drain off the buttermilk that’s on the top when it first starts to harden.  Well, I don’t know if we were just shaking too much or what, but we didn’t have any buttermilk when I took the lid off to look, and it was already pretty thick.

Also, after being in the fridge for a day, it still has a whipped texture.  That could be from using heavy whipping cream and not just heavy cream.  I didn’t think there was a difference, but I’ve been wrong before.  Perhaps that accounts for the lack of buttermilk as well.  Hmmm.

It’s super easy, though, and I highly recommend it, especially since butter is so expensive.  Plus, it’s a novelty.  What better gift than homemade bread and butter?  Now to find someone with extra baby food jars . . .

Have fun!

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A Special Way to Say “Thanks”

You can get some pretty nice cards these days, and they’re even being made to look like they’re hand-made.  In a pinch, it’s great, but when you have to show someone your most sincere gratitude, you’re going to have to put some sweat into it.  Not really, of course.  More the mental variety.

Making things should be fun for you, or you just shouldn’t do them.  By all means, buy a card, dress, or whatever.  I enjoy even making something following instructions or using a design as inspiration, even if it’s just replication.  I keep telling my kids, “It’s okay if they draw the same thing you do.  Feel honored they like your work enough to copy it as they grow as artists.  In time, they’ll develop their own technique.”  Granted, some of us are still copying thirty years later, but, hey, at least we’re still trying.  : )

A design in my Cricut ™ Alphalicious cartridge manual inspired this card, and I really enjoyed it.  I did not like the cheap cardstock that I tried to use first, but it all works out in the end. 

  • Gather materials.  I start with what I know I need then gather the rest as I go.

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  • Use Cricut ™ to cut matchbook card with cut-out “thank you” on Bohemian-themed paper.

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  • Use aforementioned cheap cardstock to line the card, providing sturdiness and a nice contrast for the “thank you.”  I lined the back of the front and the front of the back, just using a glue stick.  (Sorry for the photo quality; that’s an operator error!)

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  • A corner hole punch with a decorative design (from Stampin’ Up!) provides the perfect corners for an index card cut to length to fit into.  On this index card, I write my message (see photo further below).

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  • I use some lovely SU! stamps to leave a signature on the back and to decorate the back of the front.  On the inside stamping, I used a white pen (also from SU!) to pull the stamps together and highlight some of the image more.

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  • A brad holds a flower in place to embellish the front.

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  • Like I said, more tools come out along the way.  Thankfully, everything is in the same room.  When I’m finished (even if it’s early in the morning), everything has to go back to its place.  I wouldn’t want little fingers experimenting without supervision.

My creative process begins with a visualization of what I want, and I create along the way, keeping my eye open to the whole and sensitive to the design.  Soon I hope to make several cards and sell at a local shop or have an Etsy store.  (Beware!  Etsy’s addictive!)

Be the first couple of folks to comment on this site, and I’ll make you a card, too!  Comment and leave me your addy.  I swear I won’t spam you!

Enjoy the Spring!  It’s my days outside that are leading me to stay up late doing this stuff at night!

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Easter Success and the Rest of the Dress

Let it suffice to say that Easter was pretty good this year, but as ever, I get another lesson on why I shouldn’t wait until the last minute.  The kids really enjoyed it, but, night-owl though I am, I do not enjoy staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning because of how I feel the next day.  I’ve actually considered buying an ’09 calendar and starting to fill in my commitments now as I go through these little lessons so I can at least try not to make the same mistakes again.  Something about planning one year out, though, doesn’t seem natural.  We’ll see.

easter_crafts.jpgYou can see the eggs I dyed.  (I know, I did it without the kids, but this year that was okay.  At least they had real eggs to find and make deviled eggs out of.  I should mention that the recipe I’m linking to isn’t one I follow.  Instead of vinegar and sugar, I just use sweet relish.)  I dyed the eggs the old-fashioned way with food coloring, vinegar and hot water.  I just followed the instructions on the food coloring box.  This is not necessarily preferred because of the artificial colors that make up the dye.  There are sites that have posts about using natural dyes, and I especially loved this one about making fabric eggs.  I wasn’t sadistic enough even to try it for this year.   : )

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While the eggs were boiling, I made a cake from packaged mix that my daughter had picked
out.  To spruce it up, I used some cherry preserves between the layers and a snazzy stencil I got from my best pal in Germany to make a bunny out of powdered sugar on top.  Mini chocolate chips make for eyes and nose to carry out the Peeps theme.  (I personally don’t like Peeps, but we have a ton of them.  I figured this was a good way to use them!)

easter_spread.jpgMany thanks again and again to aforementioned best pal in Germany for supplying us with at least a week’s supply of chocolates (understatement, even for the 6 of us!).  I let the Easter Bunny set it all out, so the kids had quite a spread to wake up to Easter morning.   Believe me, they woke up quite early.

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I managed to finish the dress Easter morning since we had attending the Easter Vigil the night before.  I made mistakes, but all in all, it makes for a nice dress.  Daughter said she feels like Cinderella, so I figure that translates into “I like it a lot.”  See a few more pictures that I added on making it at the original dress post.

I hope your spring is a good one.  As the sun shines, posts are going to be sporadic throughout the day.  Playgroups and gardening are time sensitive!  But there’s always time to write and to craft!

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