Thursday, September 30, 2010

Home and Family Friday

Photoshop - Using an Artist's Eye


Ok, friends. I have learned so much about my camera since last spring. Now I need to learn about Photoshop, but there is one part of photoshop that I'm not sure I can actually learn. Can you learn to see photos with an artist's eye? I play around with my photos and I don't know which actually looks better.

Take my apple pics, for example. The photo on the right was taken on a sunny day, with the flash turned off. I felt like the picture was a little yellow. So I played with coloring a little in Photoshop. I came up with the photo on the left, but then I didn't know if it was better. It kind of looks washed out to me. What do you think? Do you use Photoshop? How do you tell if something actually looks better or worse? Sometimes I think I over-do things when I'm playing around with the tools in Photoshop.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thanks for Wednesdays, Mom!


Ahhh. It's Wednesday. To most people it means we're half way through the work week. To me, it will always be the day my mom was home. My mom worked at The Bon Marche (later changed to Macy's) for almost 30 years. She was the Pantyhose Princess (working in the hosiery department), the Bag Lady (working in handbags),and Mom (working mom to 3 kids). I honestly don't remember much about my mom's time away from home. She always tells me she has guilt for missing my games, but I don't remember her missing anything. What I remember most is her days AT home. Her days off were Wednesday and Sunday.

Walking in the door on a Wednesday afternoon, I'd immediately smell the homemade bread. She would time it so she'd be pulling it out of the oven just as we got off the bus. We'd devour one loaf as a after school snack and save the other loaf for dinner. (A great accompaniment to a pot roast dinner.)

I really think my love for baking stems from good memories from my childhood. My house was always the place to go. We always had something warm and yummy to eat and everyone was welcomed with open arms.

Earlier this week someone asked for the bread recipe I use.

Here's my mom's recipe:

Dissolve 1 package of yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Set aside.

Put 2 Cups of warm milk into the bottom of the bread machine.
Add 1 Tbsp of shortening.
Add 6 cups flour (For wheat bread I just substitute some of the white flour for wheat.)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt

Add the yeast and water mixture to the top of the dry ingredients. I usually make a little well for the water and yeast to sit in. I can't really tell you why I do this, but I'm sure I read it somewhere and it stuck with me.

I turn my bread machine onto the dough cycle, which does its thing for about an hour and twenty minutes.


I do things a little differently than my mom. I use the same recipe, but I use a bread machine to make the dough. I took this picture on a day I was trying out a box of bread mix for the first time. Usually I don't use bread mix.


I only use the bread machine on the dough cycle. I really don't like the way bread COOKS in a bread machine. It's just not the same as my mom's bread. Once the dough cycle is complete, the bread will have risen for the first time. That's when I divide it into two loaves and let it rise again, until it has doubled in size.

Time and temperature? 350's fine. (My mom bakes everything at 350.) Bake for about 20 minutes.



Happy baking! Thanks for the great memories, Mom!
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Making Bread


The smell of bread baking is one of my joys in life. I had a request for my mom's recipe for homemade bread. I'll share the recipe in my next post. For now, you'll just have to enjoy my bread collage. Have I mentioned how much I love the collage feature in Picasa?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Night Supper

Warm, homemade wheat bread with butter and jam.

Seastar Chef, John Howie's Crab and Corn Bisque.

Apple crisp, served with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Yep, it's fall.

A friend from work saw my Facebook post about what we were having for dinner and requested the crab and corn bisque recipe. Chef John Howie came to ccok for us at church a few months ago. He shared this recipe and IT WAS AMAZING. Here it is:

1/2 pound butter, salted
1/2 cup onion-white, mined fine
2 TBSP shallots- minced fine
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup corn kernels - fresh
1 cup clam juice
1/2 tsp thyme - dried
2 quarts half and half
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 tsp sea salt.
12 oz crab meat

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Add onions and shallots and saute until semi-translucent.

Add the flour to make a roux, stirring constantly.

De-Glaze with sherry, add half and half to roux stirring constantly.

Bring to a simmer stirring constantly.

Place clam juice and corn into a blender until pureed. Add to the sauce bot and simmer.

Lower head and add thyme, salt, and pepper.

Add crab.

***I added diced potatoes to the recipe. My kids love homemade clam chowder, especially the potatoes. I diced four white potatoes and boiled them until soft. Then I added the potatoes at the same time I added the crab. I also used fresh thyme because I had it growing in my garden. I think if I made it again, I would only use one stick of butter, add more flour to the roux, and OBVIOUSLY add more crab. You can NEVER have enough crab. I thought the whole puree of corn and clam juice was freaky, but I just followed the recipe John Howie gave me. It was really good! The whole family loved it. Making bread, soup, and dessert (all from scratch) for my family brings such joy to my weekends!***
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Home and Family Friday

Call me crazy! I invited a whole herd of forth grade boys to come home with my son after school today. That may sound bad enough to some people, but here's the kicker... they brought electric guitars and amps.

It's a good thing we had these to get us through.

If you'd like the recipe for these peanut butter cup-ish cookies, click here.
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

First Day of Fall


I've often said that if my house had a season, it would be Fall. The warm and cozy colors inside just scream Fall. But, my Summer garden begs for Fall as well. My garden is filled with green all Summer long. Then, just about the time school starts, everything blooms at once. My dahlias, black-eyed susans, mums, and sedum all come to life.



Happy Fall!
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Unwrapping Tuesday


It's Tuesday. I cried today... in front of 23 kindergarteners. I don't cry often but sometimes things seem overwhelming. Then you take a minute to put the pieces back into place and realize there is so much to be thankful for.

Today I see the wonder my children see when they hold a special treasure in their hands. Today I'm thankful. Tomorrow I'll hold a special treasure in my hand and remind myself to be peaceful and maybe even a little joyful again.
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I'm linking up to Chatting At the Sky.

Wild About Embroidery

A few years ago, when my sewing machine died, I decided to buy a new machine with embroidery capabilities. It's not an amazing fancy-pants embroidery machine that I can scan an image and then create it. It does basic lettering and has a few Disney images built into it. When we went to Disneyland a few years ago I made the kids Mickey and Minnie sweatshirts to wear on the plane. I've made tea towels to give as gifts and a couple of aprons, but that's about it. It makes me nervous because I'm afraid I'll mess up and mess ups are expensive when you're making something like a sweatshirt.

So, when my friend Debbie asked me if I would do some lettering for her I told her that I didn't trust myself. Then she told me that it was just simple patches to tie onto her team's packs when they do the 3 Day Walk. I could do that! No pressure and if I messed up, it was only a small piece of felt that I'd have to throw out. It was a perfect time to practice and learn how to use this feature on my machine.


Her team's theme is "Wild About the Cure" so that's what I wrote. She only asked me to do the embroidery, so I hope she doesn't mind that I cutsy-fied the patches a little and added ties. Hope you like them Debbie! Have a great weekend!!!
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Making Applesauce with Kids



Well, Friends, most of you know I'm a kindergarten teacher. I also have two kids at home, one of them being a kindergartener. Many of the activities I do at school, I also do at home. So, when we had "apple week" in kindergarten we had apple week at home too.

I shared those cute little apple pie pockets last week. By the way, the little pie mold came from Williams Sonoma.


We also made applesauce at school and at home. At school, we let the apples cook all day in a crockpot until they were soft. At home, we just cooked them in a pan with a little water. They were soft in about 20 minutes. We add a little sugar, a little cinnamon, and suddenly the house (or classroom) smells amazing.


I like to make my applesauce with a food press. The kids love smooshing the applesauce out. It's great for kids to see how our food is made. Applesauce doesn't just magically appear in a Tree Top container at the grocery store.
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There's nothing better than homemade applesauce! Well, homemade cookies are pretty good too.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mop Love

Mopping floors is one of my least favorite jobs. It's not because it's a really difficult job. I think I just don't have a real sense of accomplishment when I'm done. You see, my floors are on the "to do" list for home improvement... just waiting for that money tree to start sprouting money in the backyard. The hardwoods need to be refinished and the builder grade bathroom floors just need to be replaced. So, when the floors are all clean, they don't exactly sparkle.

I started out with a traditional sponge mop. Gross. I felt like I was pushing around filthy water. Replacement sponges didn't come frequently enough for me.

Then I moved to the Clorox Ready Mop. It was great! I could change out the pad as much as I wanted. No more pushing dirty water around. I could wash the bathroom floors and then get a clean pad before moving to the hallway. Ahhhh. Happiness.

But, then came the cost of refill pads. Every time I mopped I saw dollar signs.

The Clorox Large Surface Mop is my new favorite find. I found it at Target and it was only about twelve dollars. I bought three of the microfiber cleaning refill pads. They are washable, so there is only a one time cost. I used it for the first time this weekend. When they say "large surface" they really mean it! The surface of the mop is about triple the size of my old Clorox Ready Mop. I switched out the refill pads several times and threw dirty pads in the laundry. I love that I can wash them with with bleach in between uses. I can't say that about the old sponge mop.

I can't believe I'm about to say this. I love my mop. I love to mop my floors. My mop brings joy to my life.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Home and Family Friday

Before we get to the linky party, I have a few announcements.

1. My friend Diane, over at the Perfectly Imperfect Life, is hosting her VERY FIRST LINKY PARTY. So head over there and link up something you loved about your summer.

2. I'd like to share a little project I'll be starting tomorrow:

Buh-bye orange oak cabinets, doors, and trim.

Hello stain stripper and Mr. English Chestnut.

My neighbor turned her ugly orange cabinets into these beauties. I can't wait to get started! I'm hoping to finish the kitchen before the Holidays. Then I'll move on to the rest of the house.

Let's party!
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mini Apple Pies

Can't you just smell these?


I'd invite you over, but my family has eaten them all.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fall on the Front Porch


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Today was the day to turn my front porch into fall. My next door neighbor came out and said, "Can't you wait until October to do that? When you put out your fall decorations I know that Summer is officially over."

Nope. No more waiting. It rained every day last week and our high temperatures are in the 60's. I had hot cocoa yesterday. Fall may not officially arrive until the 21st, but it sure feels like it's already here.

Have you embraced Fall yet? Or are you still holding on to the last few days of Summer?

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