Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Weekly Progress Report

Well Blogger boss it is like this... I have been real busy with some other stuff and haven't had a lot of time to work on my book. I know, I know - no excuses. I promise by the end of the week you will see a draft of my introduction and the table of contents typed up. When you hired me you knew I was easily distracted.

It isn't like I have been doing nothing blogger boss. Here is what I have been working on lately... a preview of my first attempt at a quilt. I am embroidering all the baby animal squares and I bought some fabric I love for it. I also finished knitting Gigi's birthday doll but you can't see that until I get some clothes made for her (you know how those pictures can come back to haunt you).

Monday, June 28, 2010

First Time For Everything!

It has been the week of many first here in Colorado.
1. I got my first stitches (not from a surgery) while making granola bars for camping (only two and just missed the tendon- phew!)
2. Max got car sick for the first time on our way to go camping - throw up in the car when you still have 40 minutes to go isn't a good time
3. We went camping as a family
4. I drove a dirt bike and managed to survive.

Camping with a baby requires a lot of gear. I was happy I brought her a chair to sit and eat in because holding a baby while trying to feed one isn't so much fun. I had to convince Kevin that it was necessary but I think he saw the value in it once we were there. Sleeping in a tent with a baby that has just learned to crawl also was a bit of a challenge. We put Max in the pack n play and Gigi slept in my sleeping bag with me, which was fine, but meant that I had to go to bed when she did and didn't get to hang-out with the grown ups.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the riding the dirt bike. And by riding I mean driving - not sure on the dirt bike lingo, because I had been on a dirt bike before, just not driving it... I digress. Third gear was all I made it to but I am pretty proud of that. I told Kevin not to get me one until both kids were also riding or else it would just sit in our garage taunting me. Too bad Burley doesn't make an off-road dirt bike version.

I loved how dirty my kids were when we got home. The bath water was definitely dingy. So if you need clean kids that don't eat pine cones, dirt and sticks, I do not recommend camping with babies.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day Post - A couple days late

My kiddos decided to get up at 4:30 and then 5:00 am on Father's day. After resigning myself to the fact that they weren't going back to bed I got up and got busy making Dad a strawberry rhubarb pie.

strawberry rhubarb pie
Nothing says love like a homemade pie!

Here is the recipe from Joy of Cooking.
  • 1 pastry for double-crust pie, sufficient for top and bottom 9 inch crust
  • 2 lbs rhubarb, stalks unpeeled and cut into 1 inch lengths (5 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca or cornstarch
  • 1 orange, zest of, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • milk or cream
  • 2 teaspoons sugar


  1. Roll half of the dough and fit into a 9-inch pie pan leaving a 3/4 inch overhang all around and refrigerate.
  2. Roll the other half of dough into a 12-inch round and refrigerate.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  4. Put rhubarb into a large bowl.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together sugar, tapioca or cornstarch, zest and salt.
  6. Combine dry ingredients with rhubarb and let sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Pour rhubarb into bottom crust, dot with butter.
  8. Brush overhang with water, cover with top crust, seal edge and crimp or flute edges.
  9. Cut steam vents into top crust.
  10. Lightly brush top of pie with milk or cream and sprinkle with sugar.
  11. Bake for 30 minutes, reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake 25-35 minutes longer, until crust is browned and juices bubble through the vents.
I set my oven to 350 for the whole time and it did turn out but took ALOT longer than the directions said - good thing I got up early to make it!

Max enjoying his friend's toys.

Daddy's Pani

Love this face!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bye Baby Man, Hello Toddler Man

Am I seriously getting upset that my son is in the process of being potty trained? I think so...

Don't get me wrong I am NOT going to miss all the diaper washing, the big cloth diaper butt, having to convince him to sit still while I change him or lugging half the diapers we own ever time I have to leave the house.

But diapers seem like the last little bit of baby left in him.

Today we had an almost completely diaper-free day and it just struck me how fast it is all going. Didn't we just bring him home a couple months ago? Where did the big-boy bed come from? When did he become difficult to pick up? I am sure all these hyper-sensitive emotional thoughts are being aggravated by the fact that I was listening to Trace Adkins's You're Going To Miss This (I know - so cheese-ball but I am a sucker for this stuff) and by the fact I also spent the morning at my friend's house inheriting her girl's baby clothes knowing how hard it was for her to part with those favorite outfits and thinking how I need to do the same. (Thanks Jayna).

For all you fellow sentimental fools out there here is the Trace Adkins' song and for a double whammy you can watch it with the quick slide show I made. I am off to go snuggle with my little guy.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Spring Organizing

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it's not all mixed up.--A.A. Milne

Maybe I am procrastinating working on my book but I have a hard time focusing on a project when there is clutter around. After staring at them forever I finally tackled the bookshelves in the living room.

There isn't a huge difference but at least now when I sit in the living room I am not distracted by the chaos. You also can't see by these pictures but I was able to throw out a whole garbage bag worth of things I thought I needed but clearly could live without.

Before and After

No before picture for this - but trust me, it was bad.

My hubby built both bookcases - he is so talented. The smaller one is actually a hidden door to our utility room but you would never know it rolls out. You can't see it that well in these pictures but he also make the MAX toy box on the right.

Feeling good about the whole book shelf situation I then decided to take on the fridge. Again - it doesn't look like a huge change but the refrigerator is one of those places I hate when people come over and open it and I know it is a mess supporting multiple ecosystems in separate little containers.

I really dislike my refrigerator in case you were wondering. There isn't enough space in the drawers for fresh food. I guess that is what you get when you have to buy a fridge ASAP because the one at home full of food just shit the bed.

Before and After

Next - the closets...

Cocktails and Crafts - Challah Bread

This week's craft wasn't so much a craft but more of an art - bread making. I have not been too successful at making bread, normally I can get a good rise but it still comes out brick-like. Thank goodness one of our fellow Crafters also used to work at a bakery and literally held my hand through this recipe.

The bread we picked was Challah from the Joy of Cooking and the drink was the perennial favorite - the margarita. My glass isn't full because I could resist taking a sip before remembering to take the picture.There are a million different margarita recipes out there, but we kept it simple:

  • 1 1/2 oz tequila
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • dash of lemon or lime juice
  • 3 oz sour mix
  • salt to rim the glass


  1. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Shake
  3. Salt the rim of the glass
  4. Pour contents, with ice, into the glass.

| Joy of Cooking


  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 c. bread flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 large yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • Poppy or sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Combine yeast and water in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Let stand until yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of the flour, the eggs, yolks, oil, sugar, and salt to the yeast mixture. Stir until blended.
  3. Gradually stir in the remaining flour.
  4. Knead the dough for about 8 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to your hands or the bowl.
  5. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it once to coat with oil.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Punch down the dough, knead briefly, and return to the bowl. Let rise until nearly doubled.
  8. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. On an unfloured surface, roll into balls. Let rest, loosely covered, for 10 minutes.
  9. Grease and sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal (to prevent the bread from sticking).
  10. Roll each dough ball into a 14-inch long rope. Braid the dough. Pinch the ends together and tuck both ends of the braid underneath the loaf to hide the seams.
  11. Loosely cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.
  12. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  13. Whisk together water and remaining egg for the egg wash. Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash, then sprinkle with seeds.
  14. Baking until the crust is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 30 to 35 minutes.

It was a nice warm day so we let the bread sit on my front step to rise - and boy did it rise!

Here are my finished loaves! This is the prettiest bread I have ever made.
I did a couple things different when make this bread:
  1. I had Jayna helping me
  2. I added in vital wheat gluten
  3. I didn't add the same amount of flour I normally do when kneading, which apparently a lot of us do. Who knew it was supposed to be so sticky??

Friday, June 11, 2010

Birthday Bag

A couple months ago I went to a quilt shop hop and for the first time bought fabric just because it was pretty and had no plan for it. I decided today that what I needed was a flat bottom purse. After looking on the Internet for a pattern it was clear that I was just going to wing it. I have to say that it came out much better than I expected. I am not thrilled about the handles but it was what I handy (no pun intended).

I made it out of Michael Miller's Chain Flower.
Look - a flat bottom!

And the best part - it is reversible.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Waiting Patiently

So to answers everyone's questions about the chickens - No they haven't started to lay eggs yet. They have taken to sleeping in their nesting box rather than the roost we made them out of an old toddler bed frame. It is funny to peek in and see three hens all crammed into one nesting box. One poor regular sized hen is always left out (why she doesn't get in the other nesting box is beyond me) and the two crazy polish crested hens (yes we still think they are hens) sleep on the door to the nesting house.

White Polish Crested ChickensWhite Orpington

I know I have to get them to stop somehow or when they do start laying we will just have a bunch of poop covered broken eggs - sounds lovely. I am open to any suggestions on what to do to get them out of the nesting box during the night.

White Polish Crested Chickens
Rose and Elaine - the Polish Crested

Eggs or no eggs - I still enjoy having them around to watch and eat bugs.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cocktails and Crafts - Elephants on Parade

I have a love/hate relationship with mine. I think I am smarter than the machine but it is a tricky little thing... This week I tried to put my differences aside with my sewing machine and tackle the Heather Bailey pattern - Effie and Ollie the Elephant.
Heather Bailey pattern

This pattern requires very little fabric but a lot of patience with all those tight little curves.

The cocktail - the Cosmopolitian
1 oz vodka
1/2 oz triple sec
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz cranberry juice

Shake vodka, triple sec, lime and cranberry juice vigorously in a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass, garnish with a lime wedge on the rim, and serve.

Looks like we are set up for a round of dueling sewing machines! Our sewing sensei Jayna whipped her elephant up in about two minutes and spent the rest of her time helping the remedial sewers.

Sarah T. hard at work. She did an amazing job with her first pattern sewing project.

How cute are these! Mine is the blue polka dotted one. Looks like it is deep in thought with that scrunched brow.
Effie and Ollie the Elephant.Effie and Ollie the Elephant.

Heather Bailey pattern

We all finished the craft this week which is a huge accomplishment with 5 little kids running around. The rest of the afternoon was taken up by naked little ones running through the sprinkler.

As for me and my sewing machine I think we reached some sort of detente. I hope the peace lasts.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Eyes Bigger Than My Fabric Stash

Sewing Patterns

Over the Memorial Day weekend Joann Fabrics had Simplicity patterns on sale for a dollar. I stocked up! I bought some that I am still on the fence about but for a dollar could they be that bad of a purchase?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Getting Started

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
-Mark Twain

I am really good at big ideas, not so great on taking action on them. Now that I no longer have performance reviews, staff meetings or kaizens, I am no longer held accountable for my day-to-day activities. If the kids are alive at the end of the day I have done my job.

Well no more! (of the no action part, not the keeping the kids alive part) I have a goal now - to write a book. What you see here is the start of that, an empty journal. This is now my way of being held accountable - even if it is my pretend blogger boss.

Blank Journal

Each week I will set myself a goal and will let my boss know where I stand on my progress. This week's goal is to commit to the project, buy a journal and write the Table of Contents. I have finished two out of the three already and it is only Wednesday.

Oh, and in case you hadn't figured it out, the book will be about hosting your own Cocktails and Craft party. I want to say thank you to all those that I have floated this idea to (and the million ideas before) that have provided me with nothing less than 100% support. Thank you!

Now if you don't mind - I have some writing to do.

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