Posts tagged ‘Birthday’

June 7, 2011

Black Bean Blender Brownies

Today, we’re testing recipes for Colin’s upcoming birthday party. He’s craving brownies and I just had to try this recipe I found on the Whole Food’s website: Flourless Brownies. I’d seen recipes for black bean brownies and really wanted to try it out. Since Colin is looking for a fudgy rather than a cakey brownie, we made a test pan.

Organic black beans…

All the ingredients are to be mixed in a food processor, but alas my processor died awhile back and has not been replaced. I used the next best thing, my blender…

Super nutritious and taste rich eggs from Ravencroft Farm…

More blender magic…

Blender black bean brownies baked (say this several times fast)…

Cut and ready to try…

The result: A fantastically fudgy brownie enjoyed by all:)

Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? Job 12:11

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May 26, 2011

Danish Dough Hook & 5 Minute Artisan Bread

When I’m at the library, I naturally gravitate to the cookbook section and absolutely lose myself among the stacks. My two younger sons go to their storytime and/or bookclubs & I play, play, play… I love library day:)

A promising book leapt from the shelves – Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, MD, and Zoe Francois. This book made the cut and landed in the library bag.  After taking copious notes and reading it cover-to-cover, I reluctantly returned it. Shortly afterward, I found this website (http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/) and was thrilled to discover I could find all the information I needed right there.

Five minutes a day – yes and no.  Yes, it just takes minutes to prepare the bread on baking day.  But, no, you must dedicate some time to the process i.e. 40 minute rise, 25 minute bake.  Regardless, it just what I needed it to be: some tasty dough available each day for fresh baked bread.

Does anyone else get about 5 different flours for their birthday? No? Really? I’m sorry…

My new bread bucket that just fits in my refridgerator…

My new Danish Dough Hook (Happy Birthday to me!) really does the trick…

I doubled the recipe, mixed it up and now it’s ready for the rise…

Wow – that’s a lot of dough! This should make 8 1-pound loaves of artisan bread…

Already developing a sour dough smell – I’m in heaven…

Instead of making one loaf, I opted for a few smaller rolls…

The result: A fantastic bread with a crust that literally sings when broken (remember Ratatouille?)

Hot bread, fresh from my baking stone, anyone?

Give us each day our daily bread.  Luke 11:3

May 23, 2011

You’re Special Today – Part 1

I really, really love family celebrations!  My mother and sisters and I share this passion so our family events range from very large gatherings (family of 23) to over-the-top themed-parties complete with bouncy castles and fondue fountains.

So, for my immediate family, I like to keep it simple. A birthday box is filled with supplies including a birthday banner, birthday lights, birthday plate and candles which come out for each birthday.  The decorations adorn walls and table the night before (0r just before dawn) in preparation for our morning celebration.  Birthdays begin with a sleepily-sung birthday song, candles to blow out and the traditional cupcakes.  For dinner, the guest of honor chooses a special meal & cake (usually carrot cake or strawberry pound cake) served for them on our traditional “You Are Special Today” plate.

Of course, this is a rough draft and each birthday writes it’s own unique script…

Drake’s 16th

Some more of my birthday presents (aren’t the silicone teacups just plain fun?), slated to be transformed into birthday cupcakes for Drake….

Graeme, my baking companion, doing a little taste testing…

Red Velvet ala Sprinkles!!

Yummy cream cheese frosting…

You Are Special Today and every day in my heart!!

You have a special place in my heart. Philippians 4:17a

May 19, 2011

Meet Betty

Let me introduce you to Betty…

She’s my new scrubber, a birthday gift from my 4 year old niece, Cadence.  Just thinking about Cadence with her cute little red glasses and enormous personality makes me smile.  I understand Cadence.  Well, apparently, she picked this particular scrub brush because she thought it resembled her, “Auntie Jane” – so funny!!  Cadence understands me.

I named my scrub brush, “Betty,” in honor of…

“Betty!”

Graeme needed a “girl” when he played cowboys (“I need a gurl” – not sure where this came from, but okay) so I created “Betty” from a chair, boxes, pompoms, nightgown, scarf and paper.  He even picked her name.  I laugh still because it’s so fitting a name for a cowgirl.

Back to Betty & me…  Betty reminds me of Vivian, and I’ve always thought Vivian Leigh is a vision of perfect beauty. Truth be told, I wanted to be Vivian.  In this stunning red dress (the most amazing dress ever fashioned!), she’s simply gorgeous…

Well, Vivian & Betty remind me of this ravishing red kitchen…  Wouldn’t Betty the scrub brush (who can’t be used EVER because it would completely muss up her hairdo) just love being a showpiece here?

A girl can dream, right?  I’m crazy in love with the red Aga oven – my dream appliance (**deep sigh**).  Sometimes, I catch Betty just staring out the window.  I think she’s dreaming, too.

“Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. Genesis 37:19

May 17, 2011

Spot fabric and a birthday

I’m feeling very nostalgic today – my Drake is 16 today! I’m pondering the precious memories of holding Drake & sitting for hours reading his little board books over and over and over and…  When he started speaking, he did so in sentences – “Read this.”  My precocious 9 month old would then grab his little book in his chunky little hands and put his little arms up.  I’d pick him up, plop him in my lap, snuggle close and begin.  Good Night Moon…  Spot… Goodnight Gorilla…  Hungry Caterpillar…  Winnie the Pooh...

I cherished those moments & this fabulous Spot fabric makes my heart full – just look at this monkey full of mischief and cuteness…  I’m not usually into commercialized fabrics, but this Spot fabric won my heart.

Almost too cute to cut into, but I’m excited to transform these fabrics into some more handmade cuteness:)

Happy Birthday to an amazing, talented, kind, wise, smart and incredibly fun son!!  I love you so much!

The Lord your God is with you.
   He is a hero who saves you.
      He happily rejoices over you,
         renews you with his love,
            and celebrates over you with shouts of joy.

Zephaniah 3:17

April 1, 2011

Show & Tell: Brotform Proofing Basket

I’ve always LOVED school and when I was a little girl “show and tell” was the ultimate!  I especially loved “show and tell” right after Christmas and my birthday.  Here’s the beginning of my grow-up version – self-indulgence at it’s best!  I received so many lovely and thoughtful gifts for my birthday a few weeks ago.

Two summers ago, I set out to really learn and understand yeast-based baking.  I’d baked before, but I really wanted something more like a class.  So, I checked out many, many books from the local library (and order others) on bread baking.  Some titles I read included The Bread Makers Apprentice, Crust and Crumb and Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads.  I read these books cover-to-cover and tried many new techniques and recipes (Poolish and Biga bread starters).  My head ached from all the new information, but I loved the journey.

In my study, I discovered the beauty and usefulness of bread proofing bowls.  Well, guess what I got for my birthday this year?  Yes, a Brotform Proofing Basket!!  Love it and I used it as soon as I could….

Not a great pix – but isn’t it just lovely?

My sour-dough bread dough (and do you see my organic bread cloth beside it? *smile*)…

I baked it on my bread stone – look at those pretty lines…

Looks beautiful and tastes yummy!

More show & tell to come…

You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit. Job 10:12

March 29, 2011

Eureka Experience

Last year, I had a EUREKA experience about gift giving. For one thing, the gap between what I wanted to give and my budget widened last year when I made the leap from earning a paycheck to full-time homemaking. Additionally, I love unique, beautiful, handmade, quality, excellent and inspired creations. With many art, fashion, design, textile and decorating classes (and several degrees) under my belt, my taste runs toward the expensive, the artsy and the just plain different from every other Joe. Also, I was just plain tired of “Made in China,” big box retailers,  and the overly franchised everything – UGH!

Like I said, I had a moment.  It was one of those moments where you just want to pinch yourself really, really hard and ask “what is your problem?”  Why not make gifts? Okay, it’d been a few years since I’d sewn and I’m not feeling as artsy as I was say in college. But, it wouldn’t be “Made in China,” it would be unique, it would be personal, and it would be FUN!

And, then I got the brilliant idea of making things in fours.  With 8 nieces and 4 sons – easy math!  I’ve 4 nieces who are between the ages of 13 and 21, and 4 between ages 3 and 7.  This simple idea revolutionized my whole world and I was inspired (so much easier to do life when you’re inspired!).  Now instead of agonizing over what I’m going to get for so-and-so, I have a plan and I’m constantly finding tutorials, patterns and ideas for my next series of fours.

Last summer, I began my journey with four sundresses each with a matching doll dress for my younger nieces.  They were so cute I wanted to keep them all – my sons thought I was a little touched by that point. At that point, I realized my skill-level needs to dramatically increase to compete with the demands of my demanding & creative side….

Well before Thanksgiving, I’d my holiday gifts planned and I was so excited for the Season (a big coup for me). Christmas was probably the least stressful and more enjoyable I’ve had in years.  I’ll have to blog about Mermaid Land sometime in the future – it was grand!

I’ve started my next round of gifts for the older nieces and had earlier bookmarked a really fun pattern – here.  It’s a reversible purse so I needed fun fabrics….

The pattern was really easy to follow and I loved the results!

Please excuse the really old and ugly ironing board cover…  I’ve found some patterns to replace it, but that project is toward the bottom of the list right now:)

I’m really not sure 4 is enough….  I may have to make a few more for kicks!

How about you?  How are you breaking free today from the norm and finding freedom in the challenging and unchartered waters of your life?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Galatians 5:1a

March 20, 2011

Birthday Croissants

Croissants are probably the most beautiful, perfect, delightful food invented by mankind.  They’re light and flakey and buttery and smell divine. They’re rather fussy to make so I’ve been, I admit, a little intimidated – after logging in hours of preparation, would if I burn them or they taste terrible?

As a birthday present to myself, I made croissants. The gift was two-fold: to challenge my culinary fears and to bake something which cannot be easily replicated.  The result: the heavenly smell of a French bakery and the rare experience of eating a croissant hot from the oven.  Happy Birthday to ME!!

Loads of butter…

Butter and flour mold ready to chill…

 

Butter and dough before layers and layers of folds…

Day Two:  Had to run to my parent’s (I almost, gulp, forgot about my dough…) and didn’t want all my work and, not to mention, butter to go to waste. I divided the dough (froze the other half), formed the croissants, and threw them in the van.  Upon arrival, I set them in a sunny spot to happily finish rising. After they were more than adequately risen, I popped them in my mother’s oven. The house soon smelled like a French Patisserie, and we devoured these little pretties fresh from the oven. And, a happy day was had by all!

Next time – pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants)…

What recipe or food intrigues yet intimidates you? Give yourself a wonderful gift – just make it! Bon appetit!

…now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:3

March 14, 2011

Pi Day!

Here is some Pi Day inspiration…

Just like my pie plate given to me by my Nana who appreciates my sense of humor:)…

Pi inspiration…

Earrings from Etsy

More Etsy

Both from this Etsy seller….

Happy Pi Day to You!

They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness. Psalm 89:18

*Fun banner fonts from kevinandamanda.com

March 4, 2011

Surprise

Surprise! My mom made this lovely shamrock runner for my March table. When I was born, the nurses hung little shamrocks on my bassinet and served my mother grasshopper pie for dessert. It’s no wonder I enjoy celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Doesn’t the sweet shamrock teacup my son brought home for me from his summer in Ireland look absolutely perfect?  Bring on the corned beef and cabbage!

That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:13