Thursday, August 9, 2012

I've been holding out on you...

So you may remember me sharing during the 31 Days of Cooking at Home how my family makes our own bread.

Well a couple of things happened to change this shortly after my 31 days of blogging insanity.

First, I saw Edie's lovely home tour and noticed a lovely loaf of bread and a cookbook called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day.  I made a mental note to look into that.  And if you haven't seen Edie's gorgeous beyond gorgeous home go check it out.  Like now.

Then, after I'd made my mental note to find the cookbook that gave Edie the perfect loaves of bread, The Nester posted on the same cookbook.  And she mentioned that the authors had a blog with their master recipe posted for the whole world to see.  For free.

So I clicked over, saw that I had all the ingredients, and made a batch.

I have never looked back.  Our bread machine is so sad.  She has sat all alone in a cabinet for the better part of a year.

I did end up buying the book and a nifty dough whisk. My thought was, if this is just the tip of the ice berg, I want to know what else is in that book!  And that master recipe is  It can be used for pizza dough, cinnamon rolls...endless opportunities.

So if you've never tried to make homemade bread, I implore you...try itThis is the one to try.  You will not mess it up.  It will rise without your help.  It will bake with a lovely, crispy crust.  You will eat the entire first loaf in one sitting.  It is so good.

One more photo to drool over...

Now go make some for yourself!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

For Your Weekend

For a good laugh:
Southern Women 101 by Edie @ Life In Grace {an oldie but a goodie}

For the college freshman in your life:
31 Basic Life Skills in 31 Days by Brett @ Art of Manliness

Ever think you have too many clothes with nothing to wear?  Inspiration to pare back:
Project 333: Redefining Normal by Janice @ The Vivienne Files

Because I shamelessly enjoy Olympic Royal Watching:
Kate in Red for Royal Thank You, William Talks About That Hug @ What Kate Wore

Calling all bookworms, those who aspire to be bookworms, and those who think books are dumb:
Read Books and Live Well Part 1 & Part 2 by Edie @ Life In Grace {inspiring as always}

Hope your weekend runneth over with only good things!  :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kitchen Hall of Shame

Meet my cute little oven.  She is quite a workhorse, my little oven.  See her cute Anthro towel?

I love this little oven...I really do.  Even though she does not clean all by herself.  She is vintage, not energy-efficient, and not self-cleaning, but she cooks good food for my loved ones each and every day.

TMI?  I told you she was a workhorse.  I really do use her every. single. day.  If not to make bread, then to make pizza.  If not to make pizza, then to make biscuits.  If not to make biscuits, then to make cornbread.  If not to make cornbread, then to roast veggies.

Most days she does a good cross section of all of the above.

And I have taken advantage of her wonderful working goodness and not cleaned her in....well, to be honest I can't remember the last time I cleaned her.  Shameful.  I know.  Very gross.  Yes, indeed.  I'm aware.

The thing is, she's reeeeallly dirty.  And since she's not self-cleaning, she needs quite a good scrub.  Once upon a time I would run to the grocery store and buy oven cleaner.  A decade {yikes! I'm old} ago, way back in my very first college apartment, my roomies and I always had a clean oven for two reasons: 1} we lived with a very sweet, blonde version of Monica from Friends, and 2} we used toxic, super strong, chemical laden oven cleaner.

Since I cook every day in this oven, and that food is feeding my family, I'm really not into the idea of cleaning said oven with chemicals I can't pronounce.  I don't want any residue to linger and cook into our food.

Yes, I realize the irony.  I'm worried about the chemicals cooking into our food, but not about the gross baked on crap cooking into our food.  Touche.

I've tried cleaning with baking soda in this oven before.  It was pretty disastrous, complete with lingering white streaks of baking soda residue.  Not pretty.  But I thought I'd try it again. 

This time I took an old Mrs. Meyer's bottle and mixed up equal parts white vinegar and water to use along with the baking soda.  I sprayed down the oven thoroughly with the water/vinegar solution, then sprinkled on the baking soda.  And scrub, scrub, scrubbed until my elbows felt like they would fall off.

Early on I was encouraged.  It looked like it just might work!  I couldn't believe it. 

I scrubbed for about 30 minutes.  With my sweet toddler pulling on my legs.  And hanging off the oven door.  And generally getting into things he shouldn't be in while I was scrubbing away.

After 30 minutes I called it good-enough-for-now.

Is it perfect?  No.  Trust me, it's bugging me that I haven't gotten those little spots off the glass.

And that black spot in the left corner?  I'm fairly sure that's baked on cheese from another planet.

But overall, I'm thrilled with how well the baking soda and vinegar worked.  The vinegar nipped any baking soda streaks, and let's be honest, it was so awful before that it looks a million times better now.

So two lessons learned.  You don't have to use the fumy cleaner to get a clean oven.  And wait for nap-time for uninterrupted scrubbing...I really should know better at this point. ;)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Wise Words for Mamas {& Daddys, too}

Jamie at Steady Mom recently published a post titled The Introverted Mom Strikes Back.  Some of you may be laughing, imagining me reading a post about introverted moms, because, while I do have my home-body tendencies from time to time, I'm truly not an introvert.

BUT all of you should go read her now.  Because her wisdom speaks not only to introverts, but to anyone who has kids or spends any amount of time with kids.

Rocks a-flyin'...look at them splash!

Kids are kids.  They're loud all on their own.  Throw in pets and siblings and chaos quickly ensues.  And while it's our job as parents to instruct our children and help them learn to behave and get along with others...there are times when, despite our best efforts, they don't!  No matter how much we plan, they get bored and bicker {in my case it's bickering with the dog who just wants to be left alone}.  Or they get bored and get into everything that's off-limits.  It's hard feeling like a constant referee, constantly hearing ourselves say "No", constantly trying to redirect attention {constantly reaching for the Advil and praying for headaches to cease and naptime to come quickly}.

I think our society has placed so much importance on "productivity" that, for many of us, we get to the end of the day and feel like we haven't accomplished anything, because we have nothing tangible to show for our exhaustion.  Projects we undertake take a million times longer to complete...if they ever get finished at all!

The words Jamie quoted at the end of her post are freeing:
“So stay true to your own nature. If you like to do things in a slow and steady way, don't let others make you feel as if you have to race.
If you enjoy depth, don't force yourself to seek breadth.
If you prefer single-tasking to multi-tasking, stick to your guns."
Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking
It's freeing because it acknowledges the need to go slow...the need to eat our elephants one bite at a time, so to speak.  It's okay to not overextend ourselves by attending every library storytime and children's museum, or by putting our kids in every playgroup, when many times all the running around town is so exhausting to our kids as well as ourselves.  And while it's good for us to have projects and interests of our own to pursue, it's also okay when it takes a month {or two} to replant the planter boxes in the garden.  Or to only get one room in the house clean instead of the entire house in one sweep.  Or to only write 5 blog posts in 2012 {this is #6...I'm on a roll}.

Our to-do lists will get checked off slowly but surely.  All is grace.  :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Inspiring Words

"Once to Every Man and Nation" by James R. Lowell

Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
in the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
some great cause, some great decision, off'ring each the bloom or blight,
and the choice goes by forever 'twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
ere her cause bring fame and profit, and 'tis prosp'rous to be just;
then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track;
toiling up new Calv'ries ever with the cross that turns not back.
New occasions teach new duties; ancient values test our youth.
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Tho' the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
tho' her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong,
yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
standeth God, within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

For Your Weekend

London Calling::

Livin' La Vida London @ Apartment Therapy

For my fellow addicts::

Coffee Addicts: Unite!  Repurpose Cups @ The Happy Home

Thought provoking and well written {as always}::

Why I'm Not Reading Fifty Shades of Gray @ Life in Grace

Inspiring and poignant in the face of this tragedy::

So You Still Think God is a Merciful God?! @ A Miniature Clay Pot

Keep cool my friends!  Have a fabulous weekend.  :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pagosa Springs Adventure

I'm sitting, typing, and listening to the Texas locusts and cicadas sing their summer song.  It's peaceful and quiet {for now}, and while I love listening to nature's summer soundtrack, I'm pining for the cool, dry beauty of the Rockies.

My in-laws have a lovely little cabin in Pagosa Spring, CO.  And last week they generously offered to let us get away for a short vacation.  It was heavenly.

A couple of blocks down the street from their cabin is Pagosa Lake.  We walked here every morning and evening and watched afternoon thunderstorms roll in over the mountains and tourists take rides in hot air balloons.

The Kiddo didn't take too well to the dock...feeling the dock move under him was a little too much for him.  It didn't phase the Pupster one single bit, though.

He jumped right in...the cold water didn't phase him one bit!

I think he really wanted to chase down the kayak and make friends with the other pooch.

Downtown Pagosa Springs reminds me of Breckenridge.  It's easy to walk from one place to another and everything centers around the main attraction...the springs!

The springs are hot but the river is cold.  Kiddo had the time of his life tossing rock after rock into the river. 

There's a park down by the river which we couldn't pass up...

To swing or not to swing...that is the question. ;)

Not really.  He would never pass up a chance to swing!

Pretty flowers growing everywhere.  Are these hollyhocks?  I wish they grew in Texas!

My yard is begging for some pretty flowers like these.

Our time there was too short for sure.  There is so much more to do there than we realized.  And it was so lovely to get away from the sweltering heat, if only for a few days.  :)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Anthro Birthday Love

One of my favorite things about Anthro, aside from their general fabulousness, is every year they celebrate my birthday by sending me a coupon.  {Yes, yes, I know...they do this for everyone...but STILL...}

I went in for 4 more latte bowls and came out with, well, 4 more latte bowls AND THIS...

Happ & Stahns {get it....happenstance?} 1922 Lily Sanguine perfume.  In a vintage inspired, amethyst pillow-top bottle with a couple of gigantic birds on top.

Apparently, Happ & Stahns is Anthro's very own brand-spanking-new line of perfume.  This one happens to be the creation of Rodrigo Flores-Roux...also responsible for Tom Ford Private Blend and Badgley Mischka Fleurs de Nuit {as well as Britney Spears Hidden Fantasy and Hilary Duff With Love Hilary Duff...but we won't hold that against him...a man's gotta work}.

I'm not gonna lie, I totally fell for the bottle.  So I did the initial bottle whiff...and tried so hard to like it.  It honestly reminded me of my Granny's old bottles of perfume that were passed on to me for dress up.  You know the kind...old perfume just smells old, no matter how great it once smelled.  But I really, really wanted to like it.  I mean, have you seen the bottle?  So I gave it the benefit of the doubt and did a test spray on my arm, silently praying that I wouldn't get stuck walking around the mall in a stench.

And for a half minute I thought I was doomed.  I didn't like it.  Like with so many perfumes, the initial alcohol-laced-whiff really threw me.

So I moved on to Tocca Cleopatra, which smells lovely in the bottle, and test sprayed my other arm.  And what I discovered was that within 2 minutes the Lily Sanguine had really much that it gave just a hint of a whiff of floral notes, while the Cleopatra completely overwhelmed me, complete with sharp nose twinges.

So the Lily Sanguine came home with me.  I'm hooked on how subtle and soft it really is...not to mention every spray now reminds me of my Granny.  :)

My little action man was super excited to see me.

Because he agrees with Anthro's general fabulousness.  Any store that keeps him well stocked in bags and packing paper is A-OK by him!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Confession :: I Cut My Own Hair.

Chalk it up to boredom.  Or to the inevitable mama-comes-last syndrome.  But I have not had my hair professionally cut or trimmed in almost one full year.

Aaaand....I have taken to cutting it myself.

There.  I've said it.

Before you think I've lost my marbles {let's face do think that don't you?} let me 'splain.

{Me & the Kiddo at hair 3 weeks ago}

See, I have long hair.  And I'm a true, picky long-haired girl.  Meaning, I can't just go get my hair cut anywhere or by anyone.  It's hard to find someone to cut hair well...period.  But when you have long hair you have the extra problem of someone cutting off too much.  Or layering it poorly.  Or razoring it after failed attempts at point cutting, thus giving you horrible split ends in 2 days flat.

I have found someone who cuts my hair beautifully....and she's not super expensive...but she's across town.

And I have a little one.

So a $45 hair cut every 8-12 weeks now also includes finding/paying someone to babysit.  During the day.  Which limits options.  Which means I went from February to August last year without getting even a teeny tiny trim.  And my hair grows fast naturally.  And since I'm still on prenatal vitamins....well you get the picture.  My hair grows l.o.n.g. and f.a.s.t.

So I got curious.  How did people cut their hair way back when?  You know, before the hair salon was invented?  I started googling and found some seriously scary self-trim methods on YouTube by some very bold ladies.  No, no, no...cut my own hair??  I can't do this.

Then I found this and this.  And one night after I put Kiddo to bed I got really brave and tried it.

I have to tell you, my hair was so ridiculously long at that point that I really couldn't see the harm.  If it looked horrible, I would just call up my fabulous hair lady and tell her I'd had a bad run in with a YouTube video and a pair of scissors and all could be mended.  I had about 10 inches to lose at that point....plenty of hair to mess up on.

Only I didn't mess up my hair.  And my ends, which were scaggy and split, had that lovely freshly-cut thickness.

I haven't looked back.

{My hair after cutting this morning}

If you are crazy like me, and think you might want to wage war with your locks, here are some things I've learned::

- It's best to cut your hair dry.  It causes less damage to your hair and if you have weird cowlicks you won't accidentally cut your hair unevenly.
- Don't freak out after you make the first cut.  It looks bad before it looks better.
- Go slow and take your time.  Double check and triple check.  You will get more confidence as you go.
- Point cut your ends so that your cut doesn't look so blunt and choppy.
- Wash and style your hair when your finished.  Then you can see if anything stands out as needing to be trimmed up further.
- Start small.  If you're cutting a lot off, go inch by inch instead of cutting 3-4 inches at once.  You can always take off more, but you can't put it back on.

I have to say there is something seriously addictive about cutting your own hair.  I've done this 7 or 8 times since August and it doesn't get old!  I still get nervous right before the first cut, my arms get tired about 2/3 of the way through, and when I'm finished I have this pride of accomplishment {and the knowledge that I can go spend my $45 on anything I want}.  ;)

What about you?  Have you ever taken drastic measures with you hair?  Did it turn out well?