Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tea with mama and me

I know that I have posted a bunch about our tea parties, but it's such a common event here at our house and she's so darn cute that I just keep posting them! We recently graduated to using my tea cups and tea pot during tea. She loves it. She feels like such a big girl and she loves her tea time.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Finished baby quilt and new projects!

I am expecting a new nephew in July this year. I made all the bedding for Rylan's crib. I was super pleased with how it turned out. I'm super slow when it comes to sewing, but I am happy with the end result. I enjoy putting the blocks together and seeing how different fabrics come together to make something really beautiful. I think that's why I love quilting so much. You can start with a pile of random scraps and it ends up being something beautiful that keeps you warm for years.

Here is Rylan's quilt. I don't know when I'll get to meet this little guy since he's all the way in Alabama and I'm in Texas, but I'm looking forward to it when the time comes!
Here is the back. Basically I just sewed together strips of leftover fabric from the front to piece the back. I like how it ended up with a reversible look.
And on to the next sewing project:
I'm redoing Alyssa's room and then I'll be making our new baby's bedding! I wanted to do Alyssa's room first so she wouldn't be too jealous that I made the baby's stuff. She long ago requested an all pink room and so I'm hard at work making her room super pink for her! Here is a pile of cut out triangles that will eventually be her pinwheel quilt. I found some really pretty pink polka dot material to use as the sashing and some hot pink to use as the binding. I'm really eager to see how this turns out! She's happy anytime she sees me working on it because she knows "It's for her PINK room!"

Up until now I have hand quilted all my quilts, but due to the limited time that I have until the baby arrives and the huge projects I decided to undertake I made the decision to have her and Baby Jelly's quilts quilted at the long arm quilter. It'll free my time up so that I can get all this done and get everything else I want to get done before we have our new little one here. (Plus it's summer and we'd rather be at the pool than quilting!!)
I bought this fabric at They have such beautiful selections. This particular bundle had lots of roses and since our girl is "The Rose" it seemed appropriate! I'm planning a tutorial of her quilt when it's all finished so look out for that!
Fabric makes me happy :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Homemade Wheat Bread

Pregnancy has apparently made me more domestic. Jamey and I have long been moving our family towards being more organic, and recently my canning adventures and conversations with my very green thumbed big brother and one of my aunts have caused me to really want to move up moving in that direction. We made some big changed last year, but we still have a few more to make. On that note, I'm going to start trying to make as much of our food as I can. I can avoid added coloring and preservatives in our food that way as well. If you look at the ingredients on the back of your bread bag you'd be amazed at all the unnecessary crap in it (or I was anyway). Almost all of the food we as American's consume is full of sodium and High Fructose Corn Syrup and added "coloring" and "flavor." End of mini-rant there an on to bread!

Alyssa and I tried our hands at making Whole Wheat Bread today. It was a success. It is super tasty if I say so myself. She helped with the whole process and what a wonderful helper I have! She also enjoyed helping me in the kitchen and punching down the dough. The texture is more dense than the store bought variety but the flavor is wonderful AND I know exactly what is in it!

I got the recipe from Lion House Lite Recipes cookbook. (It has some awesome recipes in it)

Whole Wheat Bread
1 package active dry yeast
3 cups lukewarm water
1/4 cup molasses
1 Tbsp light butter
1 cup white flour
6 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oatmeal
6 Tbsp nonfat dry milk
2 tsp salt

With an electric mixer: Soften yeast in 3 cups lukewarm water in large mixing bowl. Stir in molasses and butter. Combine flours, oatmeal, dry milk, salt, add 1/4 at a time, to yeast mixture. Beating until dough forms a ball and leaves sides of bowl. Remove beaters, cover bowl and let dough rise for one hour in warm area away from drafts. Spray 2 9x5 inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Knead dough down, divide in half and shape into loaves. Place in bread pans and let rise until double in size. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes (I did mine for 23 and it was just right so it'll depend on your oven). Remove and cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves about 12 slices each.

Jam and Pickles with my Big Brother

We were super happy that my dad and older brother, Billy, came out for a visit last week. We had a lot of fun with them. Billy is a excellent gardener and every year he has a huge garden. He always gets tons of super tasty veggies. He grows anything from corn to watermelon and everything in between. He and I have lately developed an interest in canning and we thought we'd give it a shot while he was here. We didn't grow our fruit and veggies but went to the farmers market to get them. Here are some pictures of our Strawberry Jam and our Bread and Butter Pickles and the recipes in case you want to give it a try yourself! Alyssa was our big 'helper' and she helped make and eat our goodies!
Ignore my super messy counter tops!!! Our strawberry jam turned out great but I had the bright idea to blend the strawberries (I didn't read all the way through the instructions!!) so it didn't jel up as well as it should have, but for our first try all and all we gave it an A!
Here is our little taste tester :) She's adorable isn't she? She loved sampling the Jam! Kid tested, mama approved!
And here is our finished product! Labeled appropriately as well! Both recipes are from the Ball Blue Book guide to preserving. Cost $5.95 and tons of awesome recipes for your canning and freezing pleasure!

Bread and Butter Pickles
Yield 7 pints
4 pounds 4 to 6 inch cucumbers cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup canning salt
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp mustard seed
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp celery salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp peppercorns
3 cups vinegar

Combine the cucumber and onion slices in a large bowl, layering with salt. cover with ice cubes. Let stand 1 1/2 hours. Drain, rinse, drain again. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Add drained cucumbers and onions and return to a boil. Pack hot pickles and liquid into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust 2 piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner. Allow 4-6 weeks for fresh packed pickles to develop flavor.

Strawberry Jam
Yield about 8 half pints
2 quarts strawberries
1 package powdered pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
7 cups sugar
Wash strawberries, drain and remove stems. Crush berries one layer at a time. Combine berries, powered pectin and lemon juice in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a roling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust 2 piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Da Bomb Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Ok that's not their real name but they are "da bomb" and whenever I find a fantastic recipe I like to pass it along.
Betsy, my mother in law, takes a cooking class every month (it is her secret guilty life pleasure) and they had these cinnamon rolls last month. They are wonderful and easy to make. I recently made these for a playdate and my friend thought I was a gourmet cook (which I'm totally not!). The dough is actually assembled in the food processor and can be made the night before. The best part...they don't even have to rise! They look complicated due to the list of ingredients but they couldn't be easier.
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use center rack for baking.
Ingredients for the dough:
3/4 cup cottage cheses (4% milkfat or ricotta)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, more for rolling
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
Ingredients for filling
2 Tbsp unsalted butter melted (to brush on the rolled out dough with)
2 additional Tbsp melted butter to brush the tops of the rolled buns once they are in pan
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 cup chopped toasted pecans (toasted in the microwave at 1.5 min intervals until fragrant maybe 3-4 times)
Ingredients for glaze:
Scant 2/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tbsp cold milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Grease the sides and bottom of a 9 inch springform pan (I personally don't have one and I used just a regular circular cake pan and it worked just fine...) with baking spray.
To make the dough: In a food processor using a metal blade, combine the cottage cheese, buttermilk, sugar, melted butter and vanilla. Process until smooth about 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides. process one more time for a few seconds. Add the flour, baking power, salt and baking soda and pulse in short burst just until the dough clumps together, don't over process. The dough will be soft and moist. Scrape the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead with floured hands 5 times until smooth. Shape into a log. With a rolling pin roll out the dough into approx 12x15 inch rectangle.
Make the filling: Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1/2 inch border unbuttered around the edges. In a medium bowl combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and allspice. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered area of the dough and pat the surface. Sprinkle the pecans over the sugar mixture and pat again.
Starting at the long edge roll up the dough jelly roll style. Pinch the seams and leave the ends open. Cut off both ends.
With a sharp knife cut the roll into 12 equal pieces and place them in the prepared pan. Brush the tops with 2 Tbsp of melted butter before placing in the oven.
Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch 20-28 minutes. Remove from pan and set on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.
Glaze: Mix confectioners sugar, 2 Tsbp milk and vanilla with a whisk to make a smooth glaze. Drizzel over the rolls and let stand 5 minutes

Monday, May 2, 2011

Our little bookworm

I haven't done an update on my little lady lately so here is one and some funny pictures from our recent trip. I think being a mom to this awesome little person is truly fantastic. I'm crazy about her even when she throws herself in the floor in a dramatic, loud temper tantrum. She's funny and silly and just fun! She's smart and she's sympathetic and she loves everyone she meets. She never has a bad thing to say about anyone. She loves animals and birds, but hates bugs. She likes to climb and jump and wear high heels while she does it. She loves the water and being outdoors. No temperature is too hot or cold. She somehow manages to survive solely on milk, cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, yogurt and fruit. She's not big on eating anything out of those food groups including candy and cookies. She's hides everyday when her daddy comes home from work so that she can jump out and "scare" him. He is a good sport and goes along with her.

She looks up to her dad a lot. He reads pretty much constantly and she's lately started carrying around "daddy's books" and imitating him. She "reads" her books with her daddy. Here are a few cute pictures of her reading while we went on a little weekend getaway to the beach.