I would love to keep chickens at some point. Now I have someone I can go to with my chicken questions, as well as my accounting. Checks and chickens. This bookkeeper is a keeper.
I would love to keep chickens at some point. Now I have someone I can go to with my chicken questions, as well as my accounting. Checks and chickens. This bookkeeper is a keeper.
We love to cook. Isaac is especially talented at putting together savory recipes. I'm petitioning him to write some of these down so I can share them with you.
One fun product I discovered recently is freeze-dried garlic. When we neglect to replenish our fresh garlic stash, freeze-dried garlic comes to the rescue. When reconstitued, I've found it to be much more flavorful and enjoyable than garlic powder—which really doesn't seem that garlicky to me in the first place. And it stores in the cupboard with the other spices. We have tried keeping packets of fresh garlic in the fridge, but we don't have an easy time remembering that they are there.
Have you ever tried this stuff? Do you have a secret ingredient I need to know about? Almond extract makes magic when added to cherry pie filling and we just started experimenting with Chipotle powder. Along with smoked paprika, lime, and freeze-dried onions, Chipotle powder makes a great base for vegetable dip.
Breakfast, my one weakness.
Here's a fun breakfast recipe. Make an omelet inside of a roll—sourdough rolls are the best. And bake them in the oven till the eggs are set.
Yum. But what to call this deliciousness? It's begging for a cheeky name. Egg in a Nest. Bird in a Basket. Eggy-Breadlets. What would you call an egg in a nest that didn't result in a bird, but a delicious breakfast? Or is that gross?
These are things I should probably work out before posting. I should just declare the recipe name with bravado. Chick in a Tub. Chub in a Tub. Chubby Tubbers. Ranchy Scramblers.
But I have better things to do than deciding recipe names—like brainstorming recipe names. Brainstorming is much more fun than deciding. On-a-Roll Breakfast Breads. Rockin' Rolls. Rolly Pollos. Huevos Nuevos.
Fun in a Bun. Egg in your Face. Ooo, I like that one.
Saucers. Disks. Pucks. All good words to build on...
...while I snarf down another Scram-bowl.
Elijah's friend, Clint, had shoulder surgery last week, a few days before his 16th birthday. He dove through a waterfall and the force of the water did the damage. Isn't that crazy?
My car was at the mechanic's, so I rode my bike to the store for his supplies. It took some clever stacking to fit everything into the basket, with the cold cream cheese packed neatly around the chocolate to keep it from melting in the intense Arizona heat.
As the old saying goes, "If you're going to spend the day baking cheesecake, make two." So I doubled the shopping list.
Okay. There's no old saying. But there should be.
Elijah's first time baking cheesecake was tied to the bullying incident I posted about last April. He has since baked a lot of pies, but not many cheesecakes. In fact, I regret not designing a little Summer of Pie keepsake book for him, cataloging the various pies he baked last summer. Truth was, his pies were always finished in the evenings, then decimated by morning. Attack of the pie people. Not ideal for photography.
This time he went for layered Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes with Oreo crusts. And he pulled them off perfectly. One cake went to Clint's birthday party and the other has been slowly disappearing from our fridge, one sliver at a time—it might be more fattening than bacon.
Clint is one lucky kid—though perhaps not when it comes to waterfalls.
We brought home 15 lbs of apples, half of which made their way into Father's Day breakfast. The remaining apples are still sitting on the counter in a basket, begging for attention. I'm trying to decide between apple pie, apple tart and apple muffins.
Isaac is still teasing me over our apple-picking adventure. He gets a kick out of the fact that we went apple-picking down the road eventhough we have a tree loaded with these same apples in our own backyard.
With my own tree to harvest as well, it looks I'm going to need more apple recipes. Send me your favorites or post a link. These are all Anna apples which can best be described as a mix between Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. They are great for baking. Help!
It worked! Here is my successful first attempt at homemade greek yogurt.
It's empowering to know how to make basic foods like this. In college, I studied up on bread-making and learned all about yeasts, starters and grains while relaxing at the pool on weekends. Making yogurt gave me that same earthy, homey feeling as baking freshly-ground-whole-wheat bread with honey. I could hear Bob Dylan singing Mr. Tambourine Man in my mind as I tied the yogurt up in several layers of cheese cloth to let the whey strain out into a wooden bowl. Hippy-dippy happiness.
Last night, I discovered that a sprinkling of brown sugar along with the raspberries hits the bullseye. I like a lightly-sweetened vanilla yogurt (nearly plain) with a swirl of honey or brown sugar—so there are bursts of sweetness to contrast with the natural flavor of the yogurt. Prepared this way, yogurt can serve as a sophisticated, healthy dessert.
Another favorite way to enjoy yogurt is with a drizzle of honey and a scoop of muesli. I swirl everything together and then wait a few minutes for the muesli to absorb a slight bit of moisture from the yogurt.
I thought about donning my Birkenstocks and loading up my VW Bus with yogurt samples to share at the next Grateful Dead concert. But then the fog cleared and I realized that I don’t have Birkenstocks, nor a VW bus, and The Grateful Dead are long-gone.
Last night, while winding down for sleep, I got a hankering to try making homemade Greek yogurt. I looked at various devices for a few minutes online before going to bed—there are several yogurt-making machines with appealing little glass jars.
I'm pretty sure I will want to strain the yogurt to thicken it, so a bunch of little containers probably won't work for me. So, instead of jumping in feet-first and ordering equipment I may not want or need, then waiting for it to arrive, I'm making a test batch with a crock pot while I work from home today. The name of the game is temperature management as far as I can tell and that only requires a good thermometer, a towel, and a gentle way to heat things back up—hence, the crock pot.
I'll let you know how it goes. I have several design projects going at once right now, so I can't afford to give the Yogurt Experiment my full attention. If I screw up, I lose a half gallon of milk and a couple of tablespoons of yogurt to the adventure. If I succeed, I manage to learn something new and squeeze a little extra fun into my day without losing pace on my design calendar.
Come to think of it, I get the learning and the fun whether I succeed or not. Well hey!
Cultures for Health has a fantastic, free PDF on yogurt-making. Sign up for their newsletter (gray box on right side of page) and they'll email you a free copy. I've only had time to skim over it, but I can't imagine this 79-page guide doesn't cover it all, top to bottom, raw milk to soy milk, acidophilus to thermophilus and back again. It looks pretty biblical.
I have THE best lemon tree. It produces footballs. Juicy, tasty footballs. And when it is hung with a full crop of fruit, fragrant blooms pop all over it again for the next crop of lemons.
My parents stayed with us all last month. The lemon tree might have been the main draw -- seriously. My mother grew up in Arizona, eating fresh lemons with salt as a warm-weather snack. Salt -- not sugar. My mom can't get enough of them. Can't say enough about them either. "This is the craziest lemon tree!" "I want a lemon tree like yours." Lemons, lemons, lemons. I can't even pucker up to try this treat.
I'm content to drown my food in lemon juice - salad, vegetables, fish, spaghetti, sandwiches. My siblings are the same way. Lemon on everything. I think it's genetic. If it weren't for my dad's genes mixed in there as well, we'd all be eating salt-lemons like my mom. And there's lemonade too, of course.
Thank goodness for modern toothpaste.
I might have to learn how to propagate this crazy tree and adopt out its offspring as family gifts. I should name the mama tree first -- and put together a lemony recipe collection. Any favorites? Elijah had big success with a lemon-glazed pound cake a couple of weeks ago.
I'll take any excuse to whip up some sugar-coated sugar. Of course, for Valentine's Day no justification is needed. That's what makes it a holiday right?
Or is it love?
Something like that.
This year Charlotte and I did a little Lucy & Ethel. We put on our aprons and our disposable food-gloves and cranked out the candy. We used a favorite Christmas Mints recipe to make Valentine hearts. Really the easiest recipe -- three ingredients, plus food coloring. Normally, we just roll each mint into a ball and press it flat with a fork, a la peanut butter cookies.
This was my first go with the candy molds and they worked perfectly. Now to keep an eye out for a good Easter mold - not too big though - I like these mints small. Imagine pink, yellow, green, & blue bunnies. And if we're not too sugared out come July, we could put together some red, white, & blue stars -- but only if there is a party going on -- this is a lot of sweet -- definitely a great treat to share with a group.
Christmas Mints / Valentine Mints
Easter Mints / Anytime Mints
1 pkg cream cheese, 8 oz.
2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. mint extract
Let cream cheese soften in bowl for 15-20 minutes. Mix in powdered sugar gradually. When a third of the sugar has been mixed in, add mint extract and food coloring. Knead* mixture till coloring is consistent throughout, then gradually knead in remaining powdered sugar. Roll into 3/4" balls. Toss in fine sugar & press with fork to flatten. Chill mints in freezer to cool. Refridgerate till served.
Candy Mold Option: Toss in sugar before pressing mint into mold for an easy release from mold. Chill mints thoroughly before releasing from mold.
* Disposable, food-prep gloves recommended. Otherwise, scrub your hands really well, as recipe requires a lot of kneading.
Here's what I ended up with for Charlotte's 'spooky' birthday cupcakes. I used an Oreo Cakester for the body, two chocolate-covered sunflower seeds for the eyes and black scrapbook paper for the wings.
For easier assembly, I cut the wing and ear for each side as one piece. I used a paper punch from Martha Stewart to give the wings a more girly personality. Though the sinister Cakester-frosting smile was entirely unplanned, it was a welcome surprise.
After I prepped the wings and things, Isaac put the cupcakes together while I stitched up dragon tails. All together (not including baking), the cupcakes and tails took us a bit longer than one run of the original True Grit on AMC. (I think Isaac made two trips to the store in there too.) Who says bats are for Halloween alone?
It's true, Charlotte, you ARE your own self.
Today I'm wrapping up a Valentine's Day newsletter and a few lingering projects, then I'm moving on to Charlotte's birthday cupcakes! She's going for funfetti cake mix with vanilla pudding (Easy Gourmet Cupcakes recipe). She wants the frosting to be "black and spooky," but tells me that a bat on top of each might do the trick. I'll figure something out. I can't go too goth. The girl is only 6.
Oh, and Dragon Tag. I have some quick "tails" to put together. I say this with quotes, as I may only have time to tear strips of fabric. We'll see. Busy day!
Easy Gourmet Cupcakes
1 box cake mix - any flavor
1 small box pudding mix
1 C. sour cream
1/2 C. water
1/2 C. oil
Choose a cake mix and a pudding mix with compatible flavors. Mix this stuff all together and bake as instructed -- till toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, then add frosting. Easy peasy.
Spread the frosting. Spread the word. Spread the love.
Shall we move on from Christmas?
I swear, you'll never hear from me much at the new year, regardless of my well-meaning resolutions. I not only have Christmas and New Year's to recover from, but my wedding anniversary and both of my children's birthdays are mixed in there as well. Elijah's LAN party was a week ago and Charlotte's party is this weekend. Her requested theme: Legendary. She wants to have a "Legendary" party.
Who doesn't, right?
So, Legendary, it is. Sounds like a tall order. I guess that's what you get from a kindergartener with a crazy vocabulary. However, I do believe her 5–year-old imagination is conjuring dragons and elves, not preeminent perfection. Thank goodness for that. Have I ever mentioned that her first word was "dignity"? No joke! She was only nine-months-old.
Gooey chocolate cupcakes were a big success at Elijah's party -- truly, the easiest way to serve birthday cake. So, I'm going for cupcakes again for Charlotte. Above is my easy solution for exquisite cupcakes. Isaac's sister, Evie, shared this trick when she visited a while back. Always a big hit. The cupcakes, and Evie.
It was great! Isaac brought me chocolate cake, mom brought me chocolate cake, and Nica made me a bouquet of chocolate-rose cupcakes ala Carrie -- delicious and entirely photo-worthy. (Thank you s'much!) Add to that a great birthday party put on by my sisters, Julia & Merris, and a serious spread of mexican food. I was far too busy eating chocolate and tacos to blog about it.
Other than eating cake round the clock, let's see, I've been busy batting at a variety of moving objects. Life is a pinata. One feisty, swingy pinata.
One project I'm excited to announce is my partnership with Peking Handicraft to produce several housewares collections, including aprons, dishtowels, pillows, and more. I'll post photos once samples are in hand. Right now we are aiming for several January releases.
On the pattern front, I'm introducing two new mini patterns this month. LOVE them both. One is the awesome lunch bag pattern I mentioned before and the other is a great little hat pattern -- a sort of mixture between a 1920s cloche and a hippie beret. Patterns & instructions are complete; I just need to wrap up the covers.
Doodle-loo, scribble too -- whoop-di-do.
Not all witches have time to concoct a full spread of Harry Potter recipes, especially if they are short a house elf or two! So for those of you who would like to delve into the world of Harry Potter without the chocolate-dipping and butterbeer-mixing, I've searched out a few easily-accessible, store-bought options for you.
Lemon Drops, Chocolate Frogs, and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans are my top choices for store-bought, trolley-worthy treats. They can be enjoyed by first years and ministry wizards alike. Honestly, I can't believe I found chocolate frogs with so little searching. (See 'Where to Buy' list below.)
Another non-alcoholic beverage option includes Lemon Drop Soda. Mix 2 parts sparkling water with 1 part Stirrings brand Lemon Drop Mixer, and give that Dumbledore a toast.
If you prefer a lighter soda, reduce the Lemon Drop Mixer to your liking. Isaac swears by the addition of a tablespoon of vanilla flavoring syrup.
Where to Buy
• Old-fashioned lemon drops - Pier One Imports.
• Chocolate Frogs - Pier One Imports or mold your own chocolate frogs.
• Every Flavor Beans - Jelly Belly brand jelly beans - your local grocer -- or for an authentic Bertie Bott's mix, including nasty flavors, such as vomit & ear wax, here are a few links: one, two, three.
• Stirrings brand Lemon Drop Mixer -- spotted this week at Pier One, World Market, and SuperTarget, or purchase online.
• Sparkling Water or Club Soda - your local grocer.
Now take your sugar high and do something good with it, like treat your kids to a movie or some broom-crafting, then come back home and crash-out. That's the way the sugar goes. I have some experience with this now.
Next week, I'm off the broomstick, cauldron-less, and back in Little Winging, I swear. Have a great weekend Harry Potter fans -- don't forget to brush your teeth.
Chocolate wands are a Gryffindor favorite. Even Dumbledore has been known to stash a few candy wands in his desk. Young witches and wizards can use them to practice basic spells, then pause for a bite! For a variety of wand ‘types’, have crushed cookies, nuts or sprinkles handy as options to roll freshly-dipped pretzels in.
For this batch of wands, I first dipped pretzel rods in melted caramel.** I then dipped each one in melted chocolate, and finished with a dappling of nuts.
For best results, melt caramel in a tall cylinder and dip pretzels carefully. The taller the cylinder, the deeper you can dip the pretzels. Set freshly-dipped pretzels on parchment-covered cookie sheet till caramel has set. Then dip chocolate in the same manner. Once chocolate has partially set, roll dipped end in desired topping.
**Alternatively, use flat sheets of caramel used in caramel-apple making. Each caramel sheet comes sandwiched in parchment paper. Cut sheets into strips while still lined with paper. Then, peel off paper & wrap strips around end of pretzel rod. I've seen caramel sheets in the produce section of several grocery stores -- but these might be seasonal.
Madam Rosmerta would agree that no wizard party is complete without a pint of freshly-brewed Butterbeer. With our house elf now missing, it took us quite a few iterations before we discovered the perfect potion for this usually overly-sweet concoction. A hint of ginger and the sweetness of butterscotch combine to create a delightful and refreshing non-alcoholic drink, capable of making even Severus Snape smile.
12 oz. (one bottle) ginger beer
36 oz. (three bottles) cream soda
3 T butterscotch ice cream topping
Thoroughly chill unopened ginger beer and cream soda in refrigerator until icy-cold. Refrigerate empty, glass pitcher as well. Once beverages are chilled, in a small mixing bowl or tall glass, stir 1-2 oz. of cream soda into butterscotch topping till thoroughly combined. Pour all remaining soda into chilled pitcher. Quickly add butterscotch mixture to pitcher. Stir till just combined; do not over-stir. Pour over ice and serve immediately. Serves 6.
For a frothy sparkle, dip the rim of each glass in corn syrup, pulling drips of syrup downward with a toothpick. Then dip each glass rim in a mixture of colored sugar. Before dipping, spread the corn syrup & sugar mixture each onto a separate, flat-bottomed plate.
For an old-world, textured effect, mix fine, yellow sugar with coarser, gold sugar. Colored sugars are available at many grocery stores and craft chains. The sugars shown here are both from Michael's.
& I went to a midnight showing of The Half-Blood Prince with friends last
night. It was amazing -- definitely my favorite HP movie so far -- BY
FAR. We were surrounded by eight packed theatres of screaming,
costumed teenagers. It was a sight.
• Cockroach Clusters recipe here.
Don't look like a Muggle at the big Harry Potter movie premiere this week, snacking on Milk Duds and Raisinets. Line your cloak with a proper wizard's feast of sugar munchies. Start with every student's favorite, Cockroach Clusters.
Our house elf, Floozy, has been working away all weekend to formulate the perfect Cockroach Cluster recipe, using only the finest Pecanese cockroaches. With Floozy's polished recipe, the process is easy -- almost like making popcorn balls.
For a final touch, let a batch of greedy insects loose on your tray of hand-rolled popcorn balls and they'll crawl right into place and get stuck -- like magic. The hardest part is de-winging the little buggers while they're still wiggling, but you'll get the hang of it.
When Floozy threatened to rest her sticky fingers, we made her stay up an extra two hours to design candy tags for your homemade treats. That'll teach her. Click here to download a print-ready pdf of uniquely-appetizing Cockroach Cluster tags.
Spread the news around Hogsmeade and the floo network, I'll be posting magical recipes all this week.
Update: About Floozy's sticky, sticky state. No worries. We had her wash up for the next recipe & gave her a clean, new apron to wear.
Oh shoot! Oops -- no wonder I haven't seen her all morning.
1 lb pecan halves
1/2 C light corn syrup
1 T butter
kosher or sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 200º. Coat baking sheet with butter-flavored cooking spray. Spread pecan halves in single layer on baking sheet. Toast in 200º oven for approx. 5 min. Remove pecans from oven and pour in mixing bowl. Set aside. Increase oven temperature to 300º. Re-coat baking sheet with cooking spray.
Melt butter in microwave. Add corn syrup & butter to pecan halves. Stir until pecans are evenly coated. With slotted spoon, remove pecan halves from bowl and place in single layer on baking sheet. Bake for approx. 15 minutes or until pecan glaze is brown and bubbly. Remove pecans and lightly sprinkle with salt. Allow to cool. Pecans should be prepared in advance of popcorn balls.
18-20 C of popped popcorn
2 T butter
2 C sugar
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 C light corn syrup
1 1/3 cups water
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
Pop popcorn in air popper -- or use plain microwave popcorn. Set aside. In medium sauce pan, combine butter, sugar, salt, corn syrup, water and vinegar. (The vinegar helps the sugar to reach a smooth consistency.) Cook on high until sugar mixture reaches hard-ball stage (approximately 255-265º). Remove saucepan from heat, then stir in vanilla and almond extract.
Quickly coat large mixing bowl and mixing spoon with butter-flavored cooking spray. Pour 18-20 cups of popped popcorn into the greased bowl.
Slowly pour sugar mixture onto popcorn, tossing as you go. Wait till mixture is cool enough to handle, but still very warm, then lightly form coated popcorn into 3" balls and place on wax paper. Before popcorn balls cool, decorate with glazed pecans. It helps to have a second person to help add pecans while the popcorn mixture is still warm.
Holy cricket, these are tasty!
• Butterbeer recipe here.
This photo cracks me up. Can anyone guess what my concept was here? That's right, it's a dessert interpretation of a 70s clown. You're not afraid of clowns are you?
My new ice cream recipe from Father's Day this year is Double-Chocolate Banana Split ice cream, newly coined "Frozen Bozo," presented with a waffle cone hat, a cherry nose and a doily ruff. It's interpretative.
The ice cream isn't just chocolate either. It has bananas, cherries and brownies in it. A fool-proof mix <3:o)
Also, I've drawn up a list of tutorials I'm eager to post. Without revealing the specifics, where would you like me to start: jewelry, paper craft, sewing project, home decor? Lots of plans. What are you in the mood for first?
Frozen Bozo - Chocolate Banana Split ice cream
Chocolate Ice Cream Base
6 C. heavy cream
2.25 C. sugar
3 T. pure vanilla extract
3 C. milk or half 'n' half
16 OZ. bittersweet chocolate
Prepare Ice Cream Base
Heat cream, sugar, vanilla, and half 'n' half mixture to near boiling. Meanwhile, heat bittersweet chocolate in microwave-safe bowl at 50% power for approx. 3-4 minutes, or until the chocolate is mostly melted. Remove chocolate from microwave and stir till all chocolate is melted. Next, remove cream mixture from heat and fold in melted chocolate. Stir until combined. Refrigerate mixture until thoroughly chilled. Transfer chilled mixture to an ice cream maker and process following manufacturer’s instructions.
After ice cream has reached soft-serve consistency, place ice cream cylinder in freezer, or leave in ice cream maker (if there is still sufficient ice) to harden for about an hour. Meanwhile, prepare mix-in ingredients as directed below.
Mix-in the Good Stuff
a large bowl by placing it in an ice bath, or in freezer. When ice
cream has chilled for about an hour, scoop it into chilled bowl.
Immediately add all mix-in ingredients and stir till just combined.
Return ice cream to cylinder or a prepared container of your choice*.
Place ice cream back in freezer to harden overnight.
*Try a new, food-safe paint can from your home improvement store, cleaned with bleach-water.
"Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn't illegal"
We have a Father's Day tradition of making homemade ice cream. Breakfast for Mother's Day. Ice cream for Father's Day. A couple of years back I decided to create an ice cream recipe from my favorite childhood dessert -- Strawberry Pretzel Dessert -- or that's what my mom called it. Huge success! The mere fact that I love this ice cream as much as any chocolatey ice cream speaks worlds of it. I think it's those salty pretzels in there (they're candied too).
One year we invented Pumpkin Cockroach Cluster ice cream in honor of the latest Harry Potter release. Candied pecan clusters for cockroaches. Yummy. But, no where near as remarkable as my Strawberry Pretzel Dessert ice cream.
If you're new to homemade ice cream, don't be intimidated. You won't believe how straight- forward & easy it is to use an electric ice cream maker. Your ice cream ingredients go in a metal cylinder that fits down into a bucket you fill with layers of ice & salt. A paddle is inserted into the cylinder, then a motor fits onto the top. The motor spins the cylinder around and around in the bucket, mixing the ice cream with the paddle and chilling the mixture until it's at a soft-serve consistency. When the ice cream hits this stage, our machine turns off (it's designed to). We then mix in the remaining ingredients & freeze the container over night.
Ice cream machines come in different sizes. Ours is 4 quarts, I
believe, and I picked it up at Walmart for $25-$30 a few years back.
They may be seasonal items though, so don't assume you can find one at
Christmastime. The salt can be found in the baking aisle usually, or
on display with the ice cream makers. It's a coarse, gray salt usually
labeled as "Ice Cream Salt" or "Rock Salt."
That about summarizes the technical stuff. Read your ice cream machine's own instruction manual for more specific info.
Onto the fun part. Check out these recipe cards. I must have needed a work break, cuz I had perhaps too much fun with these. I designed the Vanilla Ice Cream recipe card in the style of an old-fashioned ice cream container. And the Strawberry Pretzel Dessert ingredients are on the the floral card.
Click here to download the print-ready pdf. It's a two-page document. Print one side onto cardstock, then flip the sheet over & print the stripes on the back. Then cut out the recipe cards, using the crop marks on the front as cutting guides. The printed area that extends beyond the crop marks is called 'bleed.' It's meant to be cut off. Laminate, if you like.
Once you're familiar with the general ice-cream-making process here,
you can get creative & come up with your own crazy ice cream
concoctions. My Vanilla Ice Cream recipe makes a great base for all
sorts of experimentation. I'm wanting to see what I can do with
brownie mix next time. And wouldn't it be neat to make a batch of ice
cream as a birthday present -- in a flavor that's specific to the
person you're celebrating.
Speaking of, I need to do some research on lactose-free ice cream for my younger brother. He's been missing out on ice cream for a few years now. I'm going to fix that for him. "For you, this year, I give the gift of... ice cream."
What are some original ice cream combos you're dreaming of? Like I said, it's mighty hot here.
There was a tear in the time/space continuum last month that left us about two weeks behind the rest of the world in Holiday spirit. Kick off the Holidays as late as December 22nd and you might welcome your gussied tree to hang around long past New Year's.
One last hoorah with a Gingerbread Man Float and it's onto sugar detox. Here's hoping the Jones Soda Company brings these back next year. Mmmm.
Elijah & I made coconut marshmallows last night & this morning. We added three teaspoons of coconut extract to the recipe and toasted coconut to the top. These babies are slated for some rockin' s'mores, cut-to-fit. If you've never had a homemade marshmallow, then you've never had a real marshmallow. It always amazes me how few marshmallows it takes to kick a sugar craving. Hoo-ee. You see, with chocolate, the craving keeps kicking back.
And, speaking of chocolate, go order a "Double-Chocolate-Chip Frappacino" at Starbucks sometime -- icy cold, less-guilty than a milkshake and so chocolately. Perfect for our ridiculously-hot summer weather. Elinor clued me in to her frappacino fetish on Saturday when we went for a trim-dig at a local fabrics-by-the-pound shop. I picked up a funky assortment of buttons: wooden birdies, plastic telephones, tea kettles, bugs, and a few metal ones that look a bit like Madeline.
a.k.a. The Peppermint Experiment No. 2
I had meant to make these with Elijah on Christmas Eve, but we used up our baking time hunting all over town for a candy thermometer. We found one in store No. 6, but only after checking two different sections of that store - twice - and then asking two managers if there was any other place they could be.
We were told that they used to have a few hanging on a "clip strip," but were currently sold out. You're thinking, "What manager knows the exact state of his store's candy-thermometer inventory at any given moment?" Precisely, my thought. So, unwilling to give up entirely, we took one last jog to the baking aisle to check the clip strips and there they were, two glorious thermometers. At that point, I would have paid a mint, but we got out of there for only $1.06 - a Christmas miracle.
Of course, it was too late to make marshmallows in time for Christmas, but we did have fun running through the stores holding hands. (Who knows how much longer he'll hold my hand, so I've got to soak it up.)
We initiated our thermometer last night, using Jocelyn's basic vanilla marshmallow recipe, then flavored the mallows with peppermint extract and dressed up their tops with swirls of red food coloring (her idea too). Sticky, sticky fun. I love the mildy-sweet powder they're coated in and their springy texture (reminds me of my sweet children's cheeks.) And, ooo, what a way to justify a cup o' cocoa! A serious upgrade from store-bought marshmallows.
Improvements? Next time I'm going for stronger flavor. Maybe I'll add some crushed red hots or leftover candy canes into the mix. After all, there are two minty holidays, Christmas... and Valentine's Day (arranged with leftover candy canes in mind, I'm sure). And, I'm making a half-batch. That recipe makes a ton of marshmallows, no kidding.
Worth the hassle? Totally. At least once. For us, I'm certain there will be cherry-vanilla marshmallows and chocolate-dipped coconut ones in our future. And shaped ones too. I can easily see homemade marshmallows becoming an enduring holiday tradition at the Baileys'.
On other fronts, I spent the entire day yesterday catching up on emails. I've never written so many emails in my life and I still didn't get to responding to any of your comments. Thank you so much for the love. I'm overwhelmed by your kindness. I appreciate each and every note.
Do you ever wish there were two of you? Or three, or four, or five? One of me would be assigned to never letting any comment or email go unaddressed. One of me could do the exercising and healthy-food-only thing. One could be super-mom. And the other two or three of me would be assigned to keeping up with the idea factory. Aah, sounds nice.
Back to emails, a number of yesterday's emails led me to some boutique children's designers who sell their one-of-a-kind outfits on eBay. It looks like Freshcut has shipped and is starting to pop up all over the place. Check out these cutie patooties: here, here, here, and here. Adorable! And, some of these photos make it much easier to see the fabrics than those little swatches on the fabric sites. A happy diversion, if you're looking for one.
*This post was brought to you by the number: two*
My parents just moved to a new home this month. And, lucky me, my mom brought me this little chest of drawers she didn't want to take with her. I have a thing for small chests of drawers. When I get my studio sorted out and photographed, you'll see what I mean. This little number is the best one yet. It's a perfect notionkeeper. Each drawer is divided into four sections and the drawers don't fall out when you pull on them. All it needed was a happy color -- a great excuse to use the green spray paint I bought a while back. I'm just tickled to have it all done. No fretting or planning, just one impulsive, "I think I'll go paint this thing!" -- and voila!
Now I’m going to go fill it with needles and thimbles, fray check and seam rippers, and all manner of happy things -- a much-needed respite from dancing with desks.
On a different note, this is what I made for dinner last night, Little Breads. Yes, Little Breads – a ridiculous name, I know. I make this for dinner when I want something yummy, decently healthy, AND super easy. I never thought of my creation as a recipe until I learned that my sister, Julia, had adopted it for a regular meal and her husband had given it the official name, "Little Breads.” Brent has an odd, yet unaffected sense of humor, which I much appreciate and must endorse, so the name is indeed official. 'Recipe' here.
Note to self: Track down Brent’s poem about flies & see if he’ll let me share it.
Hi! I'm Heather Bailey, a fabric & lifestyle designer, an inventor, and a mother to three amazing kids. I love to create. Need to create. And I'm spreading the word on how fulfilling and necessary creativity is to the human soul. Love & nurture your family, be true & honest with your friends and make good stuff—three necessary ingredients for a happy & beautiful life. This, here, is my personal blog.
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