Monday, April 09, 2012

It's springtime! The birds are chipping, flowers are blooming, and cleaning is happening!
Little Man loves to play outside, smell the flowers, and pick them. This is
one he picked for me from our front yard.
Little Man had a wonderful egg hunt at preschool before spring break. He found lots of eggs!
Palm Sunday was lots of fun at our church. We had a real live donkey! Little Man had a blast!
I made some egg shaped sugar cookies for a play date at a friend's house. We dyed eggs, hid and found them, and played all morning. Little Man enjoyed crushing the cracked eggs in his hands.
He also enjoyed playing with the plastic eggs from preschool. He would dump them in the floor and put them back in his basket over and over.
Easter morning brought lots of surprises! Little Man got lots of goodies in his basket, including a chicken that lays bubble gum eggs! He really likes playing with the chicken most of all.
Then it was off to church in our Sunday best. I made Little Man a bow tie that matched Hubby's shirt and tie. They looked so handsome!
Happy Easter from our family to yours!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Adventures in Bread Baking

A friend of mine started baking bread last fall when she had to give up dairy while nursing her daughter. She did so because there is dairy in a lot of loaf breads you buy at the store. She is also trying to feed her family whole foods. We've been sharing a lot of recipes for different items we normally buy at the store too (cheese-its and granola bars for example) thanks to Pinterest (the most amazing site ever!!!!). After hearing about her wonderful homemade bread, I had to give it a try. Here's my adventures in bread baking!

Past Adventures

I've made several quick breads (banana bread, beer bread, etc.) over the years. They are always quick to whip up and no kneading is required (always a plus). I own my Nana's old bread machine and have made a few loaves with it, but it's old and the pan sticks a lot. In fact, I don't think I've used it once in the three years we've been back south (maybe it's time to throw it out). I've gotten pretty good at making pizza dough in the past year (thanks to my Uncle John). It's pretty easy with a Kitchen Aid!

My first attempt, which I don't really consider my first attempt because I used my kitchen aid mixer, turned out pretty good. I cut this recipe in half. It's the recipe my friend used (and has perfected, I'm sure). I didn't want to waste so many ingredients in case it turned out horrible. (It didn’t.) After the last slice was eaten, I was ready. I printed out the recipe again, read over it, and gathered courage.

Handmade by HAND

Before I even got out my mixing bowl, I called my friend and asked her for advice. She gave me all sorts of good tidbits and helpful hints (her biggest one was “don’t leave out the salt!”). I gathered all my ingredients and supplies. I washed my hands, read over the directions… twice. I was ready.

I mixed up the flour, yeast, water, and sugar. I let it rise. I started kneading. I pounded, folded, punched, folded, pushed, folded, and pounded some more. This felt like the longest 10 minutes of my life. I kept looking at the clock. Three minutes?! It had only been three minutes?! My arms started to hurt, but I kept at it. Five minutes passed. I started to let my mind wander. I thought about my friend making bread. I thought about my grandmother and great grandmothers and how they must have made bread. I thought about all the women throughout history that have made bread. I looked at the clock and the 10 minutes was up. I was kind of sad. Kneading had become very meditative the last few minutes.

I let the dough rise, punched it down again, cut it into pieces, rolled them up and put them in pans. So far, so good. One more rise and then they would bake and make the house smell heavenly.

These first two loafs were very tall and had round puffy tops. They tasted great! They were light and fluffy inside with very few air bubbles. It was kind of hard to cut into sandwich slices because it was so light. (So we made really think sandwiches.) I told myself that I would enjoy the kneading much more next time and let the physical meditativeness (is that even a word) take over.

Making bread is a great connection to the women of past. I feel like I’m doing something good for my family and myself. I know what’s in it and I know what I’m putting in my body. And as much as I want to stuff my face with homemade toast with Nutla, I know it’s all about portions.

Are you making thing by hand?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meatless Mondays

Last fall the Hubby and I decided that we should start doing meatless meals for dinner on Mondays, hence "Meatless Mondays". We intentionally pick meals that are meatless and think about those that go with little or without and to think about the impact that eating meat has on society. (The Hubby has been reading one of my favorite books, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, the past few months and I think it's encouraged him even more... not that the book is about being a vegetarian, it's about eating locally, but I don't think we'll be making our own sausage anytime soon either.) Even though we have given up meat here and there, we have not given up on flavor! We've had some amazing meals! However, we have gone a few nights with a little less (one night we made a recipe that was advertised as a side dish... and that was it).

Here's a few of our "Meatless Monday" favorites:

Black Beans and Rice
We heat up a can of black beans and then spice them up ourselves with some onion, green peppers, and Cuban spices. We also make a pot of rice. Toss the two together and add some fresh cut onion. Enjoy!

Baked Potatoes
Rinse potatoes, while they are still wet sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic. Bake in the oven at 450 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. When they are done, add your favorite toppings. We like butter, cheese, and green onions.

Lentil Soup and Cornbread
The Hubby got me a great book for Christmas, The Cornbread Gospels. There's lots of yummy recipes, and the first one we tried was the lentil and spinach soup. It was wonderful!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christmas 2011

We were very blessed and had a wonderful Advent and Christmas season! Here's a few photos for you to enjoy.

Some of the decorations:
Christmas Morning at Grandma and Grandpa's house:Little Man's favorite toy from Santa (because he loves trying to play with the one I use to clean the toilets):Talking on his new cell phone from Aunt Anna and (soon to be) Uncle Andrew:
Playing the piano with (soon to be) Uncle Andrew:
And here's our Christmas card photo this year:
We hope you and your family had a wonderful Advent and Christmas too! From our family to yours, happy holidays!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New Shoes

Before I ran the Superhero 5K, I had decided that if I ran the whole thing I would buy a new pair of running shoes as a reward. I was starting to need a new pair and thought this was a great way to earn them. I talked it over with the Hubby and he liked the idea so much he let me put the money aside so it would be there when I was ready, as a physical reminder. I took the cash and put it in an envelope and stuck it in the drawer I keep my headphones. Every time I went to get my headphones to go run I would see it.Well, I ran every step of the Superhero 5K, but had to stop a few times for a little breather. It was a very hilly run (what was I thinking, it was in the mountains after all)! I asked the Hubby if he thought I earned them and said since I stopped, I didn't (but was very proud of me for running every step). I agreed. I really wanted to EARN the shoes by running a full 5K, no stopping.

I continued to run the Couch to 5K plan. I looked for future 5Ks. I was determined.

We went to the beach for Thanksgiving and thought, "this is as flat as it's going to get, so maybe I should go for a 5K while I'm here." And I did. The Saturday after Thanksgiving I set the Nike+ app to run a 5K. It was an out and back run on the sidewalk. The Hubby went too, but mostly did his own thing, running with me part of the way. Off I went. I got a bit warm, but kept going. I jammed out to Ke$ha, Black Eyed Peas, Avett Brothers, and the list goes on. I slowed down, and kept running. I sped up, and kept running. I passed other runners, walkers, kids on their bikes, and kept running. Half way. I turned around and kept running. The Hubby was there beside me, I kept running. I looked down and the Nike+ app had somehow gotten paused. I kept running. I ran past the spot I started. Nike+ didn't say I had finished a 5K. I kept running. And then I stopped. I was so mad at Nike+! I wanted it logged for all the world to see! I said a few colorful words. And then I gave up. I started walking. I did it. I ran a 5K. I had EARNED my shoes big time!
After I bought my shoes I thought I might not want to continue to run as much, but I've kept running. I try to go when Little Man is at preschool because the weather is getting colder. I've reconciled with Nike+ and we are friends again. I want to run another 5K so it will be officially logged, but I'm at peace with it.

Aren't my new shoes pretty? I love the lavender color! And they fit like a glove. Totally worth every step and every penny!
Even the insides are pretty!
Here's to many more 5Ks!