Sunday, January 30, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
WARNING: If you're on any kind of diet, do not, I repeat- DO NOT continue reading this. All attempts to cut back on carbs will be completely destroyed. I promise.
Having three children, 1 vehicle, a modest budget, and just an overall sense of independence has really encouraged me to learn to do things for myself. That is, to make more things homemade so that I don't have to depend on running to the store multiple times a week, 'cus who has time for that anyway? I know I don't. So, my latest venture has been bread. Remember this post? It was my first ever post here at The Humble Homemaker and it chronicled my miserable attempts at making bread. Go check it out if you're in need of a good laugh.
I gave up for a while. Like a year. But I'm back and I've had some really great successes! My pride and joy thus far has been these babies:
Puffy little clouds of Yum, and as you can see, they're not at all brickish like my first attempts at wheat bread back in January '10.
Here's the recipe. They'll make you rich and famous, I swear.
...well maybe not rich, but definitely famous. At least within your family.
1 C. milk
1 C. water
2 T butter
1 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
5 1/2 C. Flour
1 packet (or 2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
1 egg yolk
1 T water
1. Combine milk, 1 cup water, butter, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let stand until lukewarm. If the mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and yeast. Pour in wet ingredients and stir until the dough starts to come together. Knead dough on floured surface for about 10 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let stand until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
3. Punch down the dough and divide into 12 portions (a little larger than a golf ball). Make tight balls by pulling the dough tightly around and pinching at the bottom. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. After the rolls sit for a minute to relax, flatten each ball with the palm of your hand to about 3-4 inches. Set rolls aside until they double in size, about 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for about 10 minutes, OR if not continuing on with optional step #5, bake about 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top.
5. Whisk together egg yolk and water. Brush egg wash on rolls and bake for another 5 minutes for a shiny finish.
Let cool completely (or slather with butter and eat) and hide. Seriously. If you don't hide them, they'll disappear within minutes. They're that good. QUICK!
-Sprinkle with some seasoning along with the egg wash. I did italian seasoning and parmesan cheese. Yum.
-Try 4 C. Flour and 1 1/2 C. Whole Wheat flour. Still very fluffy and just a tad healthier.
-The egg wash it totally optional and is only for cosmetic purposes. I forgot to do this step once and they were still amazing.
Friday, January 28, 2011
The first two pages of this book were my favorite. Not that the rest of the book isn't great, but these two pages really hit home for me:
"What a beautiful world we live in!" Mama Bear said. "Just look at all this snow!"
Little Cub looked around. "We always have snow, Mama."
"Yes, but it's *always* different! Sometimes it's slushy, and sometimes dry, shimmering sparkles drifting from the sky."
Living here in the north east, I can relate to this sentiment. "We always have snow..." Or at least that's how it feels. "Sometimes it's slushy, and sometimes dry..." though it does seem to be slushy more often than dry. It's easy to forget how beautiful God's creation is because we're always around it. It's easy to take advantage of the beauty of snow because, well, as Little Cub says, "We always have snow."
Little Cub is fascinated to learn that God created many different kinds of bears and just as many different places for them all to live! Some bears eat fish, while others love to eat bamboo for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. God, in His infinite creativity, has created such a vast and glorious world for every one of us because He loves us. This book does a wonderful job of showing children (and adults too, because Lord knows how easily we forget) that there is a world outside of our own neighborhood that is wonderful and very different from what we're used to. Each of us is as different as the communities in which we live, and God loves each of us in our uniqueness with which he created us.
The book can really be summed up with this excerpt:
"God created our world and everything in it, because it's in his nature to create. Understanding that is part of why he put us here...to serve and worship him, our amazing God, who gave us this amazing world."
I highly recommend this book to anyone with children, especially young children. My two sons, ages two and three really enjoyed it. In fact, they enjoyed it so much that they actually sat still while I read the whole story to them. Now that's a miracle!
As per the FTC Regulations:
Friday, January 21, 2011
We have a pretty large family that is growing, and growing, and growing. Not only our little unit here, but my husband's side of the family as well. I love, love, love being a part of a large family. It's new to me. I grew up in a pretty small family (just myself and 1 younger sister) and most of my relatives are spread out over the country. One of the things that has taken some getting used to is having a birthday/christening/something party to attend at least once a month, sometimes more! It's great, don't get me wrong. But geez...it can get expensive if you don't plan ahead and be resourceful. With this in mind, I have a niece and nephew with birthdays coming up (January 29th and February 14th, respectively. There's also another little guy turning 1 on February 1st, but that's a different post!). I was trying to come up with ideas for birthday gifts that they would actually use and enjoy, but wouldn't cost an arm and a leg.
I started thinking of how much I love baby slings/wraps/carriers and decided to make one for my niece. I had some fabric left over from a quilt that I had made for Margaux while I was still pregnant that would be perfect (and free!). I also wanted a really simple pattern...because I'm not so great with following directions and I'm still pretty new to sewing things.
I found this pattern over at Domestic Dork that was seriously easy and simple. I won't bore you with pictures of the sling making process because it's very well laid out of at Domestic Dork, but here's the finished product. Poor, poor Christopher had to model it for me. Zac told me I was being abusive :( I just needed to make sure the size was okay and he's the same age as my niece.
As you can see, he's not so thrilled. At least I put elmo in it and not a baby doll....right?
So, I also wanted to decorate it with some "Scrappy Flowers" because the sling material is white and kind of plain. I had strips of fabric left over from the jelly roll that I used to make Margaux's Quilt so I sewed them together like this:
As you can see, I didn't pay much attention to making sure the strips of fabric were all the same width. I wanted this to look "unpolished" and imperfect. I just tried to make the colors contrast a bit. Then I ironed it out to make it easier to work with.
The next step was to draw some flowers on some freezer paper and pin them to the fabric:
Again, the flowers are far from perfect...that's okay! I pinned them on with the shiny side of the freezer paper on and then ironed them on. The shiny stuff adheres to the fabric with the use of the hot iron. Then I cut the flowers out leaving about a 1/4 around the outside of the cut out flower:
Then sew them on!:
The wax paper will pull right off around the stitches. Once you wash it, the outsides of the flowers will fray a little bit to give it a more rustic look, or you can tuck them in as you sew for a less rustic look.
I let Christopher have a little fun since he was such a good sport about modeling the "baby doll thingy that is for girls not boys, mommy!"
This Post is listed over at LifeAsMom
Check them out to find more frugal tips and ideas!
Friday, January 14, 2011
My in-laws live right around the corner from us and we're currently in a "one car family" situation. My mother in law suggested piling the kids onto a sled and pulling them over for a visit. This sounded great, in theory. Only one problem...we didn't have a sled and due to Zac's work schedule, it wasn't likely that I'd be able to get to the store to buy one any time soon.
But since when has that ever stopped me?
I had a bunch of collapsed cardboard boxes and duct tape up in the attic from when we moved this past summer. I took two flattened boxes, completely covered them in duct tape, used some rope to tie them together and add a rope for me to pull. Pile on kids (and diaper bag) and bundle up Margaux and put her in the Moby Wrap and we were off!
I'm sure I looked completely ridiculous with a baby strapped to my chest and two toddlers on a sleigh, hauling them down the sidewalk...but the kids had a blast, Margaux fell fast asleep, and I got my first official post partum workout.
(P.S. You might be wondering what the heck is up with that red hat that Julian is wearing. It's the ears from Christopher's Clifford the Big Red dog costume from 2 years ago. He insisted.)
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
View from the kitchen:
IN the kitchen: Roast in the crockpot. Zac's parents came over for dinner. The boys warming up with some hot cocoa after helping dad shovel the driveway.
There's something about winter and being snowed in that makes people slow down and enjoy the "small" things.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Has anyone else noticed that chicken doesn't have bones anymore? Or skin for that matter. At least that's how it is in the grocery store. Everything is bonelessskinless. I can appreciate that sometimes bonelessskinless chicken is quicker to thaw and cook, it's healthier without the skin etc. But really, is it worth the extra price? Meat is one of the most expensive things on my grocery list. Anyone researching ways to cut down their grocery bill has probably read umpteen articles about how using more beans and lentils in place of meat is a good way to cut down the bill. I use this method myself and have come across many delicious no-meat recipes that I regularly integrate into our menu. But sometimes I just want some mean, ya know? So the cheapest way for me to go about buying chicken is, surprisingly, to buy a whole chicken. A regular, 4-5lb chicken costs me about $4.50 ($12-13 if I'm going free range organic, but that's not always in the budget). I don't know if you've ever noticed, but that's a whole lotta chicken. More than we'll eat at one dinner unless we have company over. So I roast the chicken (that beauty up above was dinner for us this past Thursday). Then I make 3 dinners out of it. Yeah, 4-ish dollars worth of chicken spread over three meals for 4 mouths (Margaux's not counted here because she's still nursing :)). Pretty sweet, eh? Check it out:
Thursday: Roast chicken with mashed potatoes, corn, and salad. After dinner, I took the rest of the chicken that we didn't eat off of the carcass and put it in a ziploc bag.
Friday: Angel hair pasta with pesto and about 1/2 of the leftover chicken, crusty bread, and salad. (I even had enough left overs for my lunch for the next 2 days!)
Saturday: BBQ Chicken Pizza. Made pizza dough, poured BBQ sauce over remaining chicken, dumped chicken on dough, spread with mozz and cheddar, added some onions and pickles and VOILA! We had my brother and sister in law over with their 3 kids and had plenty to go around.
I'd say I spent roughly $20 on these 3 meals including the chicken. I didn't have to buy certain things like the flour and yeast for the pizza dough because I keep those stocked in my pantry, but even if I did need to buy them, it wouldn't cost much more!
Another awesome thing about this is that it saves a bunch of time. The chicken was roasted on Thursday, so on Friday all I had to do was boil some pasta and blend up some pesto. So, it saves time and money... now that's speaking my language :).
Try it out for yourself!