Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sourdough Bread

So, my computer has been acting reaaaally funny. Which was all leading up to a big break down! AH! I had taken and edited and was attempting to publish the images to finish up the little elephant and my computer died. Halting all blogging, photo editing and well doing much of anything. I felt like I wasn't wearing my underwear. It was really a bad feeling. It is like leaving your cell phone at home. You dont really NEED it per se but you feel very naked with out it!

So Friday I was going to re-take the pictures so that I could re-edit them and type in all the instructions and lo an behold my crochet hooks are GONE! I am positive the babes have hidden them somewhere. I vaguely remember them giving me a "present" of crochet hooks (a birthday bag with random things from around the house, sweet and thoughtful) but not they are gone. SO I am headed to Joann today to purchase the hook I need to finish the elephant and attempt for like the hundredth time to finish this sweet little elephant! I may also be purchasing some faux leather (vinyl) for a project. That I'm not entirely sure you all would be interested in?! hmm....we'll have to see.

I thought I'd leave you today with a little recipe or tweaked recipe of mine for sourdough bread.

Let me start by saying I LOVE sourdough bread. I LOVE it even more when I know exactly what is in it and where it came from. I recently came across this recipe from Our Seven Dwarfs via Ucreate Food. I had all of the stuff on hand except potato flakes because I am firm believer that mashed potatoes should NOT come from flakes rather real potatoes. I ran out and grabbed some and made up a starter.

Dont mind the saran wrap "seal". This is a vintage Atlas jar
that I dont have a seal for. Nor do I know where to get one.
Basically just a rubber gasket. But the saran wrap does the trick!
Five days later I made my first loaves of bread. They were good. They had good flavor but they were WAY too dense. Not flaky and sort of crusty like sourdough should be more like a quick bread like banana bread or zucchini bread. I made one HUGE mistake and I will share it with you so you don't do the same!

I'm impatient, I didn't want to let the dough rise over night. See, I started the dough process in the morning (first mistake, not reading the directions entirely through). The recipe clearly says start your dough the night before. Which means take your starter out the morning before.

Five days later, I added my "feed" to the starter (3 tbsp potato flakes, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1 cup warm water) in the MORNING! Then let it sit on the counter all day long. About halfway through the day you can see it start to foam up, just like yeast would! This is good, very good! Before going to bed I added the rest of the ingredients to make the dough.

This time I changed a couple other things. I used extra virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil, I reduced the sugar to to 1/4 cup. I added 1/2 cup of vital wheat gluten, and upped the starter to 1 1/2 cups.

My resulting ingredients list looks something like this:
1 1/2 cups starter
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (or just virgin, this is what I had on hand)
6 cups bread flour (you could do half wheat if you wanted)
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour
4 tablespoons of butter melted for the tops of the loaves when baking

Then I let them sit on the stove and rise ALL day long. You need them to double in size and my kitchen was sort of cool that day. I could have stuck them in a warm oven and let them "proof" for a little while. That would have sped up the process. But we were out and about having fun so really it was downtime anyway. Before dinner I put them in the oven. Then we had some with jam and butter, and some with cinnamon sugar and butter for dessert. BOTH were heavenly! It is also really great for sandwiches, just as long as you cut it thin enough. 

So head on over to Our Seven Dwarfs and check it out! 

I dont think I'll ever buy bread again. This is so easy to make and even though it is somewhat time consuming. Most of it is downtime. Alot of rising, sitting, and fermenting. The result is a really delicious bread that I feel good about feeding to my family. The starter will get more and more sour the more you use it, or the more times you "feed" it. 

If you aren't going to use your starter for bread that week you could either gift the excess to a friend to use or make sourdough pancakes. A friend of mine suggested them to me and the first attempt was just ok. If I make some that are any good I will let you all know. 

So, do you make your own bread? What are some of your favorite bread recipes?

Love and Hugs, 

PS. I'm not entirely sure why the font is funny at the end of this post. Blogger says it is the same as the rest of the text but obviously it isn't. It is also adding extra page breaks where I dont want them...whatever, it's still readable!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Here's to the best neighbor in the world!

Ok so I know I said Monday...but I was busy soaking up the last couple days with the most wonderfully incredible neighbor ever!

I remember when the house next door to us went up for sale. I didn't know our "old neighbors" very well, they were a quite older couple with no children. We waved and were polite but I didn't KNOW them at all. So when they moved out no biggie. As soon as the house went up for sale I started sort of watching people to see if I thought I'd like them. Dang I sound really nosy! haha

Well when Karrie and her family showed up I knew I liked her immediately. Then they showed up again the next week. AND the week after that. When I saw them 3 weeks in a row I knew they must have put an offer on the house and were scoping it out before they moved in! I specifically remember being on a walk with the hubs, babes and pups and sort of jogging back to my house JUST to say "hello!" to them!

I remember when they first moved in. I gave them a couple days but I was so excited I couldn't stand it! I baked some chocolate chip cookies and headed over. With my 2 1/2 year old and 3 month old Baby Belle. I knew they had kids (I'd seen them like 10 times at this point). So I made sure I put extra cookies on their plate to share! The house was disheveled (ha! who am I kidding mine is always sort of awry!) and Karrie and I sat in the media room talking. For no joke at least an hour. I knew we'd be close friends!

Since that day almost 3 years ago we have been so incredibly close! I've come to rely on my friend for so much, it truly is hard to say goodbye!

We "shop" at each others house because again we live in the middle of nowhere and the closest grocery store is a good 10 miles (not to mention the hassle of getting two sweeties in and out of the car, just for something little) away. So we would call randomly and borrow things. We would go out back and hand them over the fence (because we {usually me} were not "presentable enough" to do this hand off in the front yard! haha). Our house is sort of lower than hers, like the elevation changes a little bit so she would try not to drop things on me. Not to mention I am a shortie! Once she bombed me with a gallon of milk! That was HILARIOUS!!

yeah...were kind of dorks!
Eventually our children were in school together and we quickly determined that I am NOT a morning person. So she would take them (at 7:45 am! EEK! That is early) and I'd pick them up! If one of us had an errand that ran late while the babes were at school, no biggie they'd just stay here or there for a tad longer.

If I had to run to the post office she'd keep my kids so I could go quickly to make sure packages went out the same day. If she had a sleeping baby I'd go over and sit with them while she ran up to the school to pick her older daughter up from school. The babysitting (as with most things) went back and forth like this every day sometimes! And the best part?! It was always without any guilt! Sometimes leaving your kids with people you feel guilty but let me tell ya she is an AMAZING Momma! And I NEVER felt guilty about leaving my kids with her. I hope she never did either.

Here in the past couple of months when Belle was so sick (she said her ear hurt every other day), she'd check her ears to see if we needed to head to the doctor (because again we live in the middle of nowhere and it is a good hour each way to the doctors office). Because did I mention she is a NICU nurse! YEAH! She is a nurse for teeny tiny babies! Incredible.

At the very very end like the past 2 months when her husband was already working out of town, we kicked it up a notch! We did dinners together at least once a week. Her house is up for sale so there were constantly people coming to look at it. One night she called (clearly flustered), a realtor had called on a Sunday night right around dinner time. The kids were eating spaghetti of all things, and someone was coming to see the house. I asked how long do we have? She said MAYBE 45 mins! I ran over (luckily my Momma was here to watch my babes). We quickly turned the vent fan on, opened the windows and boiled cinnamon water (to get rid of the garlic bread smell, haha! Seriously of all nights?!). I quickly said you grab the kids I'll get the kitchen! We had the house cleaned and children bathed in like 20 minutes! It was like record breaking! Then they came over and hung out while the people looked at their house. All the while the hubs was out front "cleaning his bike" and listening in on their conversation! haha! (yeah I guess we are all kind of nosy!)

Did I mention we are big dorks?!
We really became more like family. Not really friends or neighbors. At one point we even joked about knocking down or putting a gate in our wall between our two backyards because we would send things back and forth so frequently! haha

If anything I have learned one thing over the past year or so is that you learn who your real friends are when they move away. I've had a couple friends move that we simply fell out of touch, and while I am saddened by the situation. I KNOW that Karrie and I will never fall out of touch. Our bond is so much stronger.

So if you are in Dallas and getting a new neighbor in the next couple days, YAY! for you! She is great, their family is great and the kids are incredibly adorable and funny!

Here is to the best neighbor EVER! And a very sad me...

Love and Hugs,

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sweet Elephant Amigurumi Intro.

Ok so I know I said Monday (Thanks Kim for calling me on it! love ya!). Gosh I'm such a bad blogger...but sometimes we have to prioritize. We had a crazy week this week. I was feeling less than stellar, not sick just not great. Really tired and CRAZY allergies! The babes have been testing me when I would normally blog, I was disciplining, disciplining, and disciplining some more! Trying to assert my Mommyness. By the end of the day I was so drained I didn't even open the computer. All the while trying to soak up as much time as possible with my dear neighbor before she moves away :( 

Anyway I took the pictures LAST SUNDAY! Thought I'd edit them that night but alas I fell asleep before editing a thing.... So I finally got around to editing them and here they are! Honestly I probably wont be back until Monday again... I will keep shooting and editing and doing behind the scenes stuff. But I wouldn't expect much until Monday again. And this time I mean it! Promise!!

Today we will start with the body of the elephant and work our way into the trunk. We will add eyes and be working increases and decreases. Nothing new if you followed the first crochet with me series. All links can be found here if you want to check it out again or for the first time! If you are new to the series and have never crocheted I recommend reading the first two posts in the series. Simply follow the link above.

First and foremost go here to the lion brand website and either bookmark or print out your pattern. I am going to change it slightly only in the beginning though and it will make it a tad easier. Remember in this post when I talked about the amazing magic ring?! Well apparently lion brand didn't get the memo when writing their pattern.

Because of copyright infringement I can't copy the pattern and put it up on my page. So I'll just show you things when they are different. Be sure to have the pattern up and ready or printed out so you can refer to it. This little elephant is SUPER easy I'm sure you guys will breeze through it. In fact I think the slippers were a touch more difficult.

When working amigurumi you want to work your stitches as tightly as possible. To the point where it is almost a bit difficult to get your hook into the stitch. You don't want the stuffing coming out or showing through the stitches. Because of this you will almost always use single crochet. They are the smallest and tightest stitch.

So at the beginning of the body where it says chain 2...don't. We will start with a magic ring. The first round says work 6 single crochet into the second chain from hook. Well we are just going to work 6 single crochet into the magic ring.

These are the couple extra things you need for your elephant. The black little screw kind of things are craft eyes, the white is to secure the eyes, and the little green safety pin thing is a stitch marker. To keep track of your rounds. 

The next round says "2 sc in each stitch around" Basically work 2 stitches into each stitch opening all the way around. You will be doubling your stitches so you should end up with 12 stitches. Be sure to count your stitches after each round before starting a new one to make sure they are correct. If not you may be pulling your hair out later! 

The next round says "*2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc; rep from * around - 18 sc." The star means to repeat from that point. So in your first stitch (where your stitch marker is) you work 2 single crochet. In the next stitch you work 1 single crochet. Then repeat from star, 2 single crochet in the next and 1 single crochet in the following stitch.

Follow the pattern increasing stitches as it indicates,  this is what it looks like after 7 rounds. After all the increasing is finished.

After the increasing you will work 10 rounds even. So one stitch in every stitch.

The next stitch you will see is sc2tog (as it is referred to in the pattern). Basically it means single crochet 2 together. We will now be decreasing to create the ball of the body.

Starting round 18 the pattern says "*Sc2tog, sc in next 5 sc; rep from * around - 36 sc."

Then work a single crochet into the next 5 stitches, and do this sc2tog stitch again. Until you are back to the beginning where you stitch marker is.

At round 20 will need to start stuffing your sweet little elephant.

Put your craft eyes directly into the stitches on round 20. I put mine about 12 stitches apart but this is totally up to you how far apart or close together you would like your little elephant's eyes.

And here is your finished body and trunk. Next time we'll work on the rest of him. His ears and feet. Then finishing him off!

So have an amazing, fun, and family filled weekend! 

Love and hugs, 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Amigurumi Voting results!

Here are the results from the amigurumi pattern voting!

Little monsters : 2
Elephant : 2
Lily : 1

Runners up are :
Easter eggs : 1
Little Monsters : 2

So when you all were checking out patterns did you realize she completely illustrated the little monsters pattern? I didn't! haha I'm such a dork sometimes! I will read the first couple lines of things and then the last couple lines and totally scroll past whatever is in the middle! haha So we will make the little elephant since the little monsters are already completely illustrated!

Lets get to gathering our supplies then meet back here on Monday.

Supply list:

  • One skein of grey yarn (they recommend Vanna's choice Silver blue) but you can use whatever your heart desires! Like I mentioned I think I'm going to use a pale purple! I do like Vanna's choice for amigurumi or the stitch n bitch brand yarn has some really super fun colors too!
  • Size G (6.0mm) crochet hook sold in a pack or by itself
  • Yarn needle
  • Stitch markers (found near the crochet needles, used when crocheting amigurumi in the round. They makes a world of difference! Trust me!)
  • fiberfill stuffing
  • 9mm craft eyes (found at the craft store in the doll making area. Heads up though, I've never been able to find them at Michael's only JoAnn's)
Pretty simple right?! I know I've got everything on hand probably even the yarn but of course I need to get a new skein! This is probably why I have bins full of yarn...

Love and Hugs, 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dressing Room stool makeover

Note: Don't forget to vote for your favorite amigurumi pattern here. We'll start that pattern soon!

I bought this stool at the White Elephant {only my favorite thrift store ever} for $5! My friend Monica spotted it and thought it might make a nice photo prop. Light and easy to transport. The ideas of what I could do to it were instantly swimming in my head. I bought some of this fabric from this etsy store and went to town matching paint colors, tightening joints, reupholstering seats, and distressing wood!

I didn't take any before pics because honestly I wasn't going to post this. But I just LOVE the way it turned out I couldn't not share it with you all!

This is what I came up with...

Love, love love the turned legs! 
I started by painting it solid black. Which in hindsight I don't think it really needed it. Maybe just a primer instead next time.

Then I matched a teal-blue color with a color in the fabric (the smallest flower part was my favorite color!). Put at least 2 coats, 3 in some places on.

After it was dry I sanded some wear spots, where I thought it might have been loved the most (like the back of the chair and around any raised edges.

Finally I grabbed some glaze (latex based which dries clear) so I added some black acrylic paint to it and rubbed it on with a dry cloth. Then rubbed the excess off with another dry cloth.

I finished it off with a quick spray of clear spray paint. To prevent the paint from chipping.

I think the entire painting process took about 2 hours. But it was a warm, sunny, slightly breezy day. The paint dried quickly and I was painting a couple different things at the same time. So I actually got 3 projects done in that 2 hours.

Love and Hugs,