Voting

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bread Recipe

It has been a slow process, but my goal over the past few years has been to eliminate (for the most part) processed food from my home. I don't freak out when we're out to eat and my kids want mac n cheese, and I still break all the healthy rules for parties and get-togethers.  I just try to make sure what my family receives at home on a daily basis is chock-full of nutrients, protein, or whole grain and void of preservatives, excess refined sugar, and added hormones. When it comes to pesticides on produce, I do my best to buy organic, but have learned some good washing techniques when organic is not available. (Be mindful that non-organic veggies and fruit do not always have the same amount of nutrient content due to the way they are cultivated.) I am definitely not a nutritionist, but have educated myself enough to know the gist of what makes our bodies run effectively.

It's that simple for me. I'm not obsessive, but I do want my children to know how to eat proper and not end up like a huge portion of the country caught up on meat and potatoes, processed boxed/canned food, and fast food. Since I fix three meals a day and a snack for my children, nutrition is a huge part of my responsibilities as a mom. If I want to discipline properly and teach good morals, why wouldn't I want to teach healthy living? This is not a guilt trip for moms. Promise. I just want to encourage and challenge any moms that read my blog to take steps to better their family's eating habits. I still have some improvements to make on my own diet, but I'm getting there. Shouldn't it be about improvement?

That being said, I have a yummy bread recipe to share with you. I've been fixing it the past month and it has been a big hit with the hubster and children. There are bread recipes out there that are healthier, but don't taste quite so well, and there are ones that are yummier, but have more crud in them. This is one of those in-between options. I needed something tasty enough that my kids would devour it, while having enough whole grains that it would help meet some daily requirements.

What you'll need:
3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

What you'll do:

1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

2. Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

3.Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.

4.Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. (This is optional....I like a hard crust so I don't do it. Cool completely

My only advice would be to make sure you do not under bake the bread. Just because it looks "done" on top, does not mean it is completely baked through.

If any of you try this recipe, I hope you like it. We are big fans in this house!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mountaineer Love

Congratulations to my friend, Esther, and her new husband James! They tied the knot on Saturday and I could not be happier for them. Esther was a beautiful bride. Stunningly beautiful.

About a month ago, Esther asked if I would make the groom's cake. She wanted to serve it at the rehearsal dinner. I had never heard of dishing up the groom's cake before the reception, but what a great idea. The cake not only got a little of it's own spotlight, it provided a yummy, proportionately sized desert for the dinner of 40 guests.

I don't typically bake cakes for other people unless it's for a party at my house, so I was a little nervous. I prepared Esther ahead of time that I was not a professional, but I could at least promise that it would taste good. She was game for me trying something new, so I was on board to give it a shot. It's not like it was the wedding cake, right? We talked about what she wanted for James' cake, and I collected a few pictures to use for ideas/inspiration.

Esther chose dark chocolate cake with white chocolate buttercream frosting. Yum! In addition to actually making something worth looking at, I wanted to challenge myself to make everything on the cake edible. To do so, I had to bust out the old Cake Boss trick of using rice crispy treats to form the football on top. The rest of the embellishment were made with my own marshmallow fondant. It's not too bad for fondant, but I advised removing it before serving the cake.

Altogether, the cake's not perfect and there are a few things I would do differently, but I am pretty proud of how it tuned out for my inexperience. I was thrilled to find out that James loved the cake and Esther was super happy with it. Yay!

(Sorry this is in b&w, the color was atrocious from my iPhone camera and kitchen lighting.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Collage addition adiction

When I redid my dining room a while back, I made a collage of frames and plates on the wall. My goal was to keep adding to it as I found things I liked.  Last month I updated the collage with the a few new finds. I really like the additions. It's not perfect, but I like the fluidity of a collage. I can add and change as I like or tire of a certain piece. I enjoy when something doesn't pin me down. Good thing I don't have these kind of commitment issues in my marriage ;)
I still need to update a few of the photo selections, but just add it to the LONG list of need-to-dos in my life. I've already found a few things I want to change since I edited the collage, but I'll leave it like this for a while and enjoy it before I get my grubby, uncommitted hands on it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Spicy Crate

I wasn't sure what I was going to use the wooden bottle crate (the one I picked up in Mt. Victory) for until I was cooking the other day. My spices are a hot mess. I have tried to organize them in many different ways. Alphabetically, by size, above the stove, next to the stove, etc. The same thing happens every time. They end up shoved together in a jumbled disaster. I don't really like the turn table contraption that sits on your counter either because it only allows for its original size containers and never has enough spaces.  I thought the crate had the perfect about of slots and depth if I could find glass bottles that could hold my spices. Well, I found some. They are actually meant for wedding or party favors, but I think they'll do the job just fine. I am still brainstorming as to how to get the spice name on the lid. Any ideas? I though about the paint sharpies but not sure I'd like it. I'd really like to ring come color into the project. What do you think? Once I get it finished, I'm going to mount it on the wall next to the stove since I don't have a back splash and so that it's not taking up counter space.
On different note, a few of you contacted me with a few questions about the dresses for Haiti. The address you'll mail the dresses to :
Katy Shatto
2148 Adams Court
Springfield, Mo 65803
 
Make sure you send them before June 1st! My recommendation for making them is finding some pillowcases at a thrift/consignment store. That way you can just cut the top seam, use bias tape on the arm holes, make ribbon casing, and thread your ribbon. The bottom seam should already be in tact and you're finished. I chose not to add any embellishment at the bottoms because I was worried how that stuff would hold up over time. Oh, and get this. I found 75 yards of yellow ribbon at one of the stores for $0.50. I know! Crazy. I used it for most of the dresses even though it didn't match perfectly. The breakdown went like this. 
9 pillowcases (I already had 2) @ $0.50 = $4.50
yellow ribbon (and still have a ton left over) = $0.50
3 packages of bias tape (I had a coupon) = $3.00ish
*shipping...(I totally did this the wrong way) = $15.00
grand total = $23.00

That puts each dress just over $2.00 to make. You liked those math skills, eh? I should have just used a medium sized priority box and paid around $8.00, but I though I could use envelopes and get it there cheaper by first class. Nope. Because I shoved 3-4 dresses in each envelope, they were over 3/4 inches thick and had to be mailed as a package...ouch. I had both kids with me and decided to just pay instead of repackaging. Live and learn.  Each dress really only takes about 20 minutes to make, so I felt for the time and money, this was a worth-while rewarding project that will hopefully make a small difference in a little girl's life. If nothing else, I hope she feels pretty in it ;)

Hope you have fun creating for the girls of Haiti! Graham sure did. Doesn't it look like he just got caught? He loves to just rip out all my scraps and sit in them. I don't know why I bother cleaning them up.
 I found one tiny pillow case and I think it might just be my favorite.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Momma's Day

I've celebrated four Mother's Days already. That's so crazy. They have all been great in that I am so blessed to have been given the opportunity to raise two of the most precious boys in all the world. I still can't believe they let me take these boys home from the hospital. I remember being surprised that I could just leave with Parker. I mean, I knew he was mine, but I hadn't had to take classes or get a license, yet I was completely responsible for taking care of this tiny bundle. This little man made me a Mommy, and I just love him for it.
This Mother's day was especially great because I actually got to relax and enjoy myself. The first three years were spent taking care of my munchkins like any other day, which I don't mind, but in no ways allows relaxation. This year, Graham was still with my mother-in-law as we traveled back from Indiana, and Parker is really a pleasure to be with now. OK, that sounded bad. Graham is a pleasure too, just in a gotta-manage-his-noise-and-movement-like-crazy in a non-restful kind of way.  I was able to enjoy a meal without getting covered in food, handing out 50 stickers, and cutting up a piece of chicken into 50 pieces. Got me? I still couldn't handle not seeing my second child on such a special day, so before we made it completely home, I crept my in-laws to kiss my second baby on the head while he was sleeping. He is so lovey.

My day started with going to church with my grandma in Fort Wayne, IN. I was there for 2 days because David was a groomsmen in a wedding. One of his old collage buddies was getting married outside of Chicago and Ft. Wayne was on the way. He dropped Parker and I off and the came back to get us on Sunday. It was special to be with my grandma since I had never spent a Mother's Day with her.
Parker and I had a great weekend with my grandparents. Parker just loves my grandpa Ray.
It only takes us about 5 1/2 hours to get to Ft Wayne and the trip there is a really pretty one. We take mostly state routes through Ohio farm country. It may sound boring to you, but I think there is just something so pretty and serene about the wide open spaces and little quaint towns.
We got a kick out of this sign.
On our way home, I really wanted to stop in some of the small towns. I figured they would all be closed since it was Sunday, and was mostly right, until we drove through Mt. Victory. 
Mount Victory is heavenly for those who like to like antiques or thrifting. The town is actually nothing but antique shops and prides itself on the idea that it is the perfect day trip destination. Check it out here so if you're even in Ohio, you can stop by. I got lucky and 5 out of its 14 shops were open when we drove through. 
David let me shop for about an hour. So. Much. Fun. Parker got to get up close and personal to a few trains that go straight through the little town, so he had as much fun as I did. I limited my purchases because I had didn't have a lot of room to get them home, but here's my stash.
I have a few projects in mind for my junk treasures. I saw some of the neatest stuff while shopping. Most of it was handmade and made well. Check out this old crib. How pretty was that back in the day. It just needs some love to make it prefect for some beautiful nursery. Don't mind the creepy doll in the picture or the random stuffed bass ;)
Before we left one store, the clerk told Parker to pick out a car form one of the old toy bins. You would have thought this old car was worth a million dollars. Parker talked the rest of the day about how nice that "old man" was. He's played with it every day since we've been home.
My day didn't end there. Our next stop was for dinner. We got hungry outside of Columbus, and decided to stop and eat in a suburb called Dublin. Another cute town. It's amazing what you get to see when you travel by car and explore without a predetermined objective. We got some food at the Dublin Village Tavern. We sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Parker was entertained the whole meal by passersby and their dogs. We had him try to get a picture of David and I. Oops. Not quite.
Closer. Almost.
 There you go!. Good job, Park.
I am one really blessed mother and am so thankful for my family.  Some days are so hard as a mom but this day I felt appreciated and it helped remind me why I do what I do ;)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

send love with dresses

There is a blog that I like to follow called Smile and Wave. The writer is Rachel Denbow. She has adorable style, she's a mother, but more importantly, she has a heart for people. Today on her blog, she is supporting a cause that helps children in Haiti. She is making simple, quick pillow case dresses for orphans and is asking that others pitch in and help too.  I've chosen to put a few of my own projects on hold to make a few dresses for little girls who don't have much to wear. I don't have a ton of money to give, nor do I have a lot time, but I can sacrifice 30 minutes to make a dress that will clothe a precious little girl in Haiti. Click here to visit her post today and help out if you can. All the information you'll need is right there on her blog post.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Work in Progress

After I got married, my mother-in-law introduced me to a sewing machine. It was foreign and intimidating. Over the past few years, I've learned a lot and feel pretty darn confident now when it comes to sewing, that is, until you hand me a pattern. Pillows, curtains, shape-less dresses, mending-I've got them down. Patterns seem so scary to me. However, I've realized if I want to keep improving my skills, I must make myself learn to follows them. When I was in Seattle, I picked up an AMH pattern, and decided to attempt it for my Mother's Day dress. I didn't get to it for a while, but when I opened it up, the doubt starting creeping in. It's like reading another language. And let me add, I picked up a super easy pattern.
The only other time I've tried to follow a pattern is when I made Parker's Halloween costume.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_jkPBzDuYOR0/TM9i0dG0VEI/AAAAAAAABDw/uooVs5pLytc/s1600/DSCF6331.JPG
I have to admit though, I cheated...a lot. When I didn't understand the instructions, I just did my own thing. This time, I vowed to do everything the way the pattern advised so that I could practice and truly learn. I was starting to wonder if I was completely off when the dress took this form.
It looked more like an airplane than a dress, don't you think? Anyway, it came together quite nicely and because I followed all the seam allowances, I even ended up with functional pockets. After ward, I couldn't decided whether or not to add rosette embellishments.
I played around with which way to wear the dress as well. I ended up technically wearing it backwards because I liked the rounded baby-doll look for the front and the V was kind of cute in the back. I added a belt to help with the figure and decided to not use the rosettes. I might still sew them on at a later date. While about to finish the dress, I found out that I would be spending Mother's Day in Indiana. When I looked up the weather, I was disappointed. Fifties and raining. Fantastic. Not quite sleeveless dress weather. I decided to shorten the dress and make it tunic length so I could wear leggings underneath. After adding a cardigan, it felt much more weather-appropriate. I really wanted to sport these cute yellow peep-toe flats with the ensemble, but boots seemed a better fit for the cold. 
The finished product on Mother's day. I'll do a separate post on my special day because it is worthy of its own post. Yes, my day was that great. Probably my favorite Mother's Day out of the past four.
And the back (technically the front).... 
The dress was a little too tight across the top, actually more in the armholes. However, after putting a few hours into this baby, I wasn't about to let a little snugness stop me from wearing it.  Next time I use this pattern I'm going to allow a little more room for my arms. (What a great self-esteem booster-lol.) I can't wait to try my next pattern. Who knows, maybe I'll attempt a zipper???
Happy sewing :)




Monday, May 9, 2011

Spontaneity

I have a bit of type A in me. Most of us do. Last weekend, I threw that structured, non-impulsive side of me to the wind. It was Friday afternoon and David would be home in an hour. I started thinking about our weekend. What should we do? Sitting in the house with two youngsters never goes well and we often end up stressed and unhappy by the time Sunday rolls around if we never get out and about.

Columbus zoo popped in my mind. Why not drive up there and spend time together, just the four of us, as a family. I called David and proposed my idea thinking he'd be like, "This weekend?" Nope. He said it sounded great and he thought we should leave when he got home and stay the night up there.

That's just what we did. David got home at 5:30 and we hit the road at 6:00. I didn't tell the kids where we were going until we were on our way. Parker was so excited about the animals. Graham was so excited about Parker's excitement.

We got to the hotel around 9:30ish and I tried to put the boys down immediately. They got all hyper when we first arrived because it was a new place, but I shut down all the fun when I turned the lights out. I was happily surprised how well Graham did in his pack-n-play because he barely fits in there now. He wanted it next to the bed...next to Parker. Those two are something.

We got an early start in the morning thanks to Graham, and after hitting McDonald's for breakfast (sounds delicious, eh?), we were on our way to the zoo.
Because the boys got less that 12 hours like a typical night, they fell asleep on the way to the zoo. Both of them. Out like a light.

 
It was such a fun day with them. I just LOVE making memories like that will my boys. Though it was cold, it was a beautiful day.


 He went all by himself and was very proud that he didn't need mommy by his side. My baby is growing up!
 Graham could care less about the goats. He just wanted to throw hay.
 We got him to brush the goat for like .5 seconds before launching it across the barnyard.
 He liked the sheep.
 If you look close, you can see David's hand shoving the boys' heads through the holes. I was wondering why they were being so still.
 Parker likes to roar. He roars at everything. All day. It's obnoxious and cute all at the same time.
 Elephant love.
 This was taken right before Graham decided to nap. He was over the zoo.
 Parker did so good feeding the birds!
 Graham just wanted to share his passy.

 My little bug.
 Sad monkey. I wanted to cheer it up.
 Finally succumbed to the sleep deprivation. I love his itty bitty nose.

 Yeah. He did put his arm around the cardboard man. I am married to the guy who does that kind of thing.
 On the train with Daddy.
 Momma's a little too passionate about the train ride.
 Graham has his passy in every picture. I promise. I really am starting to break him. I should really say I am starting to break me :)
 
  Ice cream was the perfect end to a spontaneous family day at the zoo.