Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekend Fun

I normally don't post on weekends, but I found this link at Bye Bye Pie and ended up playing.

Here are a few pics of LVCG at the museum....

And the airport....

Or the theater...

And here is my excuse for not posting much this week

This (14 in. x 16 in.) embroidery took me a full day. An entire 8.5 hours. But I think it turned out pretty good.

Next I will do the grooms English and Hebrew names and blessing. Then I will monogram the wedding dates and names of both sets of parents, and somewhere the date of the bride and grooms wedding. Then I'll piece everything together and move on to the next project which is: make a cake that matches the one on the bridal shower invitation....

pictures to come!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Good Morning Bloggerville

I've had a difficult time getting on the computer this week.  

I have a large sewing project I have been working on. My friend's daughter is getting married in October and I am elbow deep in the making of a chuppah.

This project has been fun, but also very challenging. 

This chuppah will be made of 100% family fabric. The only materials that are "new" is the purple embroidery floss and the light weight fusible webbing that I have had to add to the back of the satin where I am using embroidery. (Apparently 40 year old satin thinks it should shred when you run a needle an floss through it hundred times. )
The crocheted blanket was made years ago by one of the grandmothers; the satin is the mother-of-the-bride's 40 year old wedding dress. (The first picture is of the dress before I cut into it. The satin border on the crocheted blanket is what it looks like now.) 

The paper-pieced quilted hexagon is made from the brides favorite childhood Holly Hobbie bed sheets. As soon as I get the groom's favorite baby blanket, his quilted piece will be ready too. 
I have been prayerful, as I hack into fabrics that are family heirlooms, that I can put them back together in some sort of fashion that this family can be proud of...only when I spend too much time thinking about it do I feel the let's move on.

Remember that little tomato in my garden I wrote about it about before our trip to AZ.

He didn't ripen until after we got home...

He was beautiful,
 ...and oh-so-delicious.

Now we wait on the ripening of these babies....

A few mornings ago, after The Boy had watered our garden, he ran inside, grabbed my camera, and said he needed to "assuage his inner photographer." He wanted to capture the new crop. I was so amazed by his photog skillz that I thought I would share them. 

This week has been FULL. The Mister has been on-call all week, and will be all weekend. As a result he's been working weird hours and long days, and receiving middle-of-the-night phone calls. 

This week has also carried a huge lesson in the power of prayer.

I want to write about it, but I'm going to wait another week or so before I share...I do feel the need to say this:

God cares about the littlest of things in our lives. He is invested in the minutia of our day to day lives, as much as the "big" things that plague us. 

He will work in mysterious ways.

From weddings to tomatoes, God is in the details. What ever it is that you are praying for, it is important to Him. 

Just wanted you to know...

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We Interrupt My Week for an Allergy Adventures

This morning I had to run to the store to get allergy pills because I accidently ran out of Zyrtec. 

A silly move on my part.

You see, several years ago I broke out in hives that lasted over a year. 

I wish I was kidding.

I went to the doctor who was going to refer me to an allergist, but we moved before I could get an appointment.

I figured moving to Arizona would cure my itching ailment but my hives didn't care where I lived. 

In Arizona I was forced to seek my medical needs at the base clinic, which had a waiting list of 3576 months, so I kept putting it off. 

I had been living on Benadryl (w/coffee chasers) until my sister-in-love mentioned that she had her entire family on the generic Zyrtec that she had found at Costco. I immediately went to the drugstore, which was out of the generic, and plunked out a months' wage to buy a few little white pills.

It was money well spent.

My chronic hives went away.

I've been (relatively) hive free since.

Well, except for the last 72 hours.

A week ago I knew I was running low on those sweet antihistamines, so I trekked down to our closest bulk item grocery chain and bought my mass meds.

I noticed they were five dollars cheaper than usual, but I just thought it was my lucky-pharmacy day.

I didn't think much of it when three nights ago I woke up with the inside of my ears so itchy I couldn't sleep. 

It didn't occur to me to check the bottle of newly purchased Zyrtec until I was about to go insane for all the irrational itching.

Turns out I hadn't bought generic Zyrtec, but generic Claritin.

Of course, I didn't catch my mistake until last night, when it was too late to hit the stores and I was in a Benadryl stupor...still very itchy, but too sleepy to care.

Everything itches: my eyes, the palms of my hands, and the inside of my mouth. My skin looks like I have been attacked by a tiger, for all the welts created by my scratching, but the Zyrtec is finally on board. 

Relief is soon to come.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Are You Sitting Down?

 .....Because I am about to give you something that will simultaneously make you love, and hate, me.

I am going to share my Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Bread Recipe.

Actually, you probably have this recipe hidden in that Better Homes and Garden: New Cook Book, circa. 1989, that you stole from your mother when you when you moved out and were desperately trying to makes dinners for your new husband.  

Not that I'd know anything about that, but what I am trying to say is, I have been using this cookbook for at least 14 years and I just now found this recipe. 

To make up for the lost time I made this recipe twice this week. Once when the CarpoolQueen came over ('cuz I heard that her love language was bread), and again because I realized that I didn't exactly follow the recipe the first time, so I wanted to do it exactly as written.

Unfortunately, it turns out that I don't EVER follow recipes exactly. A trait that tends to annoy me in other cooks/bakers, especially when they make things by adding a little of this and a little of that, when what I really want to know is, how can I make that at home and make it taste as good as you made it?

The truth is I'm a rule follower until it comes to baking/cooking and then I am reckless; an absolute rebel

Apparently a very word-y rebel. Could we get to the point of this post?

Oh yes, the recipe, and the rules I broke:

1. The first time I substituted 2% milk for the evap. milk in the dough (but not the filling). I actually liked the consistency of the dough better that way, it was way more elastic and pliable, and the finished (baked) product less dense. I am sure this is because evap. milk has less water content, for all you baking scientists out there. 

2. The recipe said to make the dough 24 hours in advance, place in the fridge, and take it out of fridge 45 minutes before shaping.  I didn't have that kind of patience time, so I opted for letting the dough rise for 45 minutes to an hour.

Moving on....

Let's start with ingredients:

4-5 cups of flour
2 pckgs
active dry yeast
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup margerine or butter
1/2 tsp salt
1  5-oz can (2/3 cup) evaporated milk (divided)
2 eggs

1 cup chocolate chip (semi-sweet
2 TBLS sugar
14/-1/2 tsp cinnamon 

Struesal Topping
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 butter (better if slightly cool)
A handful of chocolate chips- more or less dependent on your liking.
Preheat the oven to 350.

Place 3/4 sugar, 1/3 cup evap. milk, salt, and butter in a microwave dish. I like to cut up  my butter for control issues so that it melts evenly without getting the mixture too hot (which will kill the yeast). I zap my mixture for about a minute...or until the butter is melted, but not completely. Like this:

Take 2 cups of flour and place it in the bowl with the yeast. Add eggs. Pour in milk mixture and mix on medium speed with a dough hook. You'll need to scrape the sides.

If you don't have a Kitchen Aide mixer you could do this next part by hand, but before you get your hands dirty, go put a Kitchen Aide mixer on your Christmas list. They are worth every dime.

Begin to mix in the rest of the flour. Be careful sometimes you need more flour, sometimes less.

This is the point that I don't mind getting my hands dirty.
When your dough looks like the picture above, I take it out and start to knead by hand. It doesn't take a lot of kneading since the machine has done most of the work. The reason I do this is I like the dough to look like this:

 Place plastic wrap over it and set it aside to double in size. About 45 minutes. Meanwhile.....Take the ingredients for the filling and place them in a sauce pan. Over medium heat, constantly stir until melted... chocolate scorches quickly so don't place the heat too high.

Now go check on your dough.

 There it is all yeasty and puffy.

This recipe calls for one large loaf of bread.  I don't have a loaf pan that is big enough so I recommend cutting this mound in half.
Roll each half out into a rectangle of sorts...

Pour half the chocolate mixture....
Roll it up and put it in a pan. 

Repeat with second half. 

Only, this half we'll make into rolls...

For those of you who don't already know this trick, let me share a roll cutting tip my grandmother gave to me. Take a piece of thread, slide it under the place where you want to make a cut, cross the string over on them selves, and pull. You will have perfectly cut rolls every time!

Place the ingredients for the Streusel Topping in the mixer and use the paddle to mix. When it begins to look crumbly be sure to stop, other-wise you will soon have a paste instead of crumbs. 

Sprinkle on top. 

Cinnamon rolls cook for about 20 minutes, leave the bread in for 15-20 minutes more.

This sounds way more complicated than the actual process so don't be scared...

...or, well, on second thought, maybe you should be.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Welcome to the Slide Show That Used To Be My Blog

So I'm a little late in the Went-to-an-Island-with-Some-Bloggers-and-Here-are-My-Pictures-Game.

Better late than never, you know? This may have to be a two part-er because I have over 50 pictures I would love to share. 

I tried to pick pictures that the Island Girls haven't already shown on their blogs, but since I haven't actually had a chance to look at all 4587 pictures taken between the other Girls, there might be a repeat or two.

We didn't waste anytime with silly niceties or pretense, we threw our hair into ponytails, left the make-up behind, and got our feet dirty in the sea.  Sweet Jenster, our Professional Photog....much of the time this is where she would be, 20 yards behind us, clicking away on Precious the amazing Nikon. Occasionally we'd stop, and let her catch up. The CarPoolQueen also enjoyed the morning as we looked for shells along a sand dollar bed at low tide. She was feeling a little homesick for Target, so Gretchen gave her a Target bag to collect her sea-faring treasures. Speaking of Susan, she may not have Precious, but she can take a mean picture with Moses, her cute iPhone. One of the highlights of this trip was eating at Mosquito Fleet Chili restaurant in Coupeville on Whidbey Island. The motto is Great Food, Great Friends, Great Time. There is nothing false about that slogan, its all true.

Rita was our waitress (and the owner) and this little restaurant is family run. The food was fresh, and the atmosphere was cozy. We walked in famished, two minutes before closing time, but Rita invited us in, set us in a booth with a view, and got us working on a craft while they ladled up our made-from-scratch soup. Before we got there we started on this mile-long pier. Well, it only felt like a mile cuz I was in  NEED of some coffee, and the word on the street was that there was coffee at the end.  The Island Girls moseyed up that pier as if they were on vacation, and try as I may to quicken the pace and keep them on task, I finally snapped a picture of their meandering selves and high tailed it to the coffee shop.  The shot above is one of my favorites. I am actually standing afar, but zoomed in with my camera lens as CPQ is giggling with HisGirlAmber over the purchase she had just made...
CPQ is an adventurous eater, and the call of reindeer sausage was one she couldn't ignore, and not having one stingy bone in her body,  so she was more than willing to share.

Yes, I decided to throw caution to the wind, and I had a bite so that I could say I had eaten one of Santa's fleet with my friends. 

On Sunday we had about an hour before I had to be at the airport, so we quickly went through Pikes Market in downtown Seattle. We found ourselves in the fish market and met these guys. To CPQ's left (your right) is Taho. He was such a personable guy, he asked how we had come to find ourselves in Seattle. I told him we were bloggers from different parts of the country who had met for the first time that weekend. He told us that his wife was a blogger. Go on over to Petals and Moss. You will drool over Jennifer's gardening abilities. I am definitely bookmarking her blog for tips on next years garden.I am amazed at how blogging has made this big world just a little smaller!

I have more pictures of Jenster taking pictures than I do of her not. This was on the ferry heading back to the mainland. By this time I was looking longingly at Precious the amaxing Nikon as if she was a newborn child...I desperately wanted to hold her.
I asked to be photographed with her, but as you can see I didn't hang over the edge of that boat like the Professional. I wrapped that neck strap around my arms a couple times and steered clear of the ledge.

Whew! Such fun times...I cannot believe that it was only two weeks ago, in many ways it feels like it was just a dream that never really took place....

That concludes today's slideshow presentation.

PS: Thank you all for the comments on decorating my family room. Who knew so many of you read my blog! I have taken all your amazing tips and will be putting them to good may be a month or so but I will certainly post the "after" pictures when the room is done!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Decorative Advice

My Whidbey Island Picture Post was supposed to go up this morning....but my good posting-pictures-to-Blogger luck ran out after yesterdays post; the pictures aren't loading quite as quickly today.

I can hardly believe it's Wednesday...this has been a good week. 

All right friends, I need some advice.

Now that my kitchen is finished I am ready to tackle another room in the house: The family room.

There is a lot of brown in it and although I adore the color brown, I require a lot of light in my day. The overpowering brown in this room depresses me.

I have been very, very seriously thinking about painting the brick on the fireplace...The Mister is not so sure. 

I think if I did it in white it would look awesome and brighten up the room a little (have I mentioned I cannot stand dark rooms?).

He thinks painted brick isn't attractive. 

I'm thinking about painting it now and asking for forgiveness later.

Then he'll come home and tell me how brilliant my idea was...

But I digress...

Here are some pics:
Don't get me started on the book drives me insane that the books don't stay organized.  Call it my CDO (sort of like OCD, but alphabetized, like it should be), but those shelves always make this room look messy. I guess I would rather have the kids pulling books off the shelf to read than always having a tidy house...that's what I tell myself anyway.I inherited that Turkish rug when I married The Mister. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, it's a bit fussy for me...I'm seriously thinking of buying a cheap carpet in a solid color. Maybe even one of those piece together flooring deal-y's

That coffee table was handed down to us in our early years, and I am certain I am not going to buy a new one in the near future, so I just need to paint it. But what color? And do I paint the side table the same?

I look at these pictures and they make me laugh because as a teenager I used to tease my mother (unmercilessly) about how everything in her wardrobe and house was brown.  Even the fingernail polish she wore was a shade of brown.

And here I am. Stuck in a brown state of living room. (she has long since moved on from her brown obsession)


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Arizona Trip: In Twenty-Five Pictures (or more)

What did I do while in Arizona?

Well here are just a few random things:

I viewed the sun behind the clouds...
and watched lizards run across hot rocks.
And hung out with good friends.

To keep cool we swam....

 ...and played in dry ice. (Do not try this at home. These children are professionals.)We hung out with cousins.

And more cousins.
 And more cousins.
We played with Willow the Deer.
Had coffee with a friend.
 I got to see the Grand Canyon...
...and see sunsets that are out of this world.

I watched friends eat Prancer.....(oh wait!! Not in Arizona. That is a picture for tomorrow's post.)

Ah! Back in AZ...We had pedicures...
...and tea parties.

Sipped more coffee with a friend (at yet another Starbucks)...

I breakfasted with my Gym Gals. 

And crashed a BBQ to see a friend that I hadn't seen in way too long.

I walked each morning in the warm desert air. I spent time with sisters-in-love from both sides of the family. I hung out with my mom and dad, and played the Wii until my right arm was sore. 

I talked and laughed and stayed up way too late...

That is a but glimpse at my trip three week stay in Arizona but the best part is there is more, but some things are better left unspoken....