Sunday, September 1, 2013

Perfect Healthy Bread Machine Bread

Perfect Bread Machine Bread
I gave up on my bread machine for a long time because the recipes contained too much sugar, so the bread was too sweet, or the loaves came out too dense and heavy, but have you ever read the ingredients on the average loaf of store bought bread?  I can't even pronounce some of them and others I can't imagine why they are there - like vinegar for instance!

A few weeks ago I found a bread machine recipe I hadn't tried and tweaked it to make it healthier with whole wheat and honey. The results were FABULOUS! It has only simple healthy ingredients that I can pronounce. The texture is pure perfection - light, soft and slightly chewy - with a terrific crust even your kids won't want to cut off. 



The strange hole in the bottom of my loaf is caused by the paddle that kneads the dough, but it only affects a couple of slices, so I can live with that flaw. In every other way, this loaf is simply perfect every time!

BREAD MACHINE WHEAT BREAD

1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1-1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
2 tablespoons honey or sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon sea salt

Place the water, sugar and yeast in the pan of the bread machine. Let the yeast dissolve and foam for 10 minutes. Add the oil. Sift salt into flour with a fork or pastry cutter and add to the yeast mixture all at once. Select Basic or White Bread setting, light crust if your machine has that option, and press Start. When the loaf is done, remove immediately from the machine and allow to cool.

I know this goes completely against everything your bread machine instructions and most bread machine recipes tell you about NEVER letting the yeast touch the liquid, but since I have baked many a loaf by hand and mixing the liquid, sweetener and yeast is EXACTLY what you do, I could not understand this dire warning.

Pull out that old bread machine and Enjoy!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Blessings

My Homegrown Vegetables
Phew! We have been kinda busy lately. The new job is going very well, we have finally finished repairing the flower beds that were ruined when the big tree in our front yard blew down and the veggie garden has been very good to us. We’re blessed indeed.

I hope you are showered with blessings too!


Friday, July 5, 2013

Too Pooped to Pop Fireworks - But Never Too Tired to Eat Salad

O'Fallon MO Freedom Fest Flag
I hope everyone had a fabulous 4th.  Our little town has a wonderful Independence Day celebration with a parade, great talent and beautiful fireworks. We also had some pretty miserable weather. We don't have hurricanes like the south, but we have some spectacular tornados and windstorms. Rock Star and I spent much of the last two weekends and most of yesterday removing fallen trees and crushed shrubbery. So last night, when the fireworks started, I was on my way to bed. I missed the big flag.

I missed the fireworks too...
O'Fallon Freedom Fest Fireworks
But we did have dinner with some lovely friends and I found this wonderful patriotic salad at FabulesslyFrugal.com

http://fabulesslyfrugal.com/red-white-and-blue-salad/
I changed it a little. I toasted and salted my pecans instead of using candied ones and I used feta cheese instead of coconut - the poppyseed dressing was FABULOUS just as written.

Do you like to tweak recipes? Or do you prefer to stick to the plan?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sorry, Rock Star, I Found a New Love...




Vintage French Style Cutting Board
I missed a band gig last night because I was knee deep in sawdust. Rock Star forgives me because he knows my need to craft is as strong as his need to play music, so no divorce lawyers are going to get rich off of us - thank goodness!
 
Hickory Cutting Board
I spent the evening cutting, sanding and hand rubbing oil into my French vintage style cutting board. Yep, I said board, not boards. This one took me all evening. Hopefully, the next ones will be a little less time consuming, since I kind of know what I’m doing now. It was a labor of love. I loved the sweet nutty smell of the hickory as I sawed and sanded, and I adore the smooth, silky feel of the finished surface.

American Indian Bow and Arrows
uchicago.edu

Hickory hardwood is abundant in North America. It was used by Native Americans for their bows. Because it is very hard with a fine, dense grain, it makes perfect cutting boards too.  I love that I can use my scraps for barbeque smoke - nothing gets wasted!
Bleach HAZMAT Warning
globalindustrial.com
 Some people worry about germs and bacteria, but wood has been proven to be as safe, if not safer, than plastic. Although some recommend using chlorine bleach, that is something I absolutely do not think is safe. Chlorine may be a naturally occurring element, but it isn’t deadly just to germs. Frankly, I think we use far too many unsafe chemicals in our kitchens.
 
Organic White Vinegar
Instead, I recommend that you spray a wooden cutting board with white vinegar and wipe it with a damp clean cloth. Vinegar is a great disinfectant and does not leave a taste or odor on the wood. Depending on how often you use your cutting board for meats or veggies, you will need to apply a butcher block oil once every six to eight weeks. 
Block Brothers Block Oil
I like Block Brothers Block Oil. It is an all-natural oil with a mild lemon scent. Never soak the board in water or put it in the dishwasher!

Vintage French Style Bread Board

I’m adding these fabulous cutting boards to my Etsy shop - one at a time….as soon as I get the feeling back in my sanding arm.

Have you neglected your spouse lately?





Monday, May 27, 2013

It Is A Whole New Kitchen - My Pinterest Inspired Makeover

It was loads of work, but I could not be happier with my new kitchen.
Kitchen After
The kitchen has always been my favorite room in the house, but the oak cabinets were starting to show wear and the shiny brass fixtures were dated. 
Kitchen Before
Kitchen Before Transformation



Now it is impossible for me not to smile when I get up in the morning. I could spend my whole day here - if I didn't have to guard the garden from robins!

Kitchen After Transformation
Now all I need is new curtains...
Kitchen After
...maybe like these - are they not gorgeous?! I wish I could give credit, but I don't know who created this beautiful kitchen. If you do - please let me know so I can give the designer his/her props!
Via Pinterest
Thanks so much for letting me share my kitchen project!
Blessings,
Linda

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Garden Update - Success!

Garden With Rabbit Protection
As you may know, last year I had rascally rabbit problems. I fenced out the big ones, but the babies squeezed in and had a feast. This year I got smart and put some fencing on the OUTSIDE of my cinder blocks. This garden is only 12' x 12', so the blocks weren't a huge expense. They were actually less expensive than redwood or cedar boards and I didn't want to use anything treated in an edible garden. There are tomatoes, peppers and parsley on the right. That's asparagus in front. It will remain there forever (if it survives) as it is a perennial  Of course, we won't be eating any asparagus this year, but these plants are a couple years old, so next year we should have at least a few sprouts. I'm finding that when it comes to gardening, patience is most certainly a virtue. It's one that I am slowly learning.

Strawberries in the Garden
On the left side, I have strawberries, peas, carrots and lettuce. Again, the strawberries will remain and come back next year. My pinwheels are back. They will keep the birds away. Do I sound very sure of that? Good, I wouldn't want anyone to know I have doubts...

Bean Poles
The center section of the garden has both pole beans and bush beans with some corn for good measure. I found out you only get 1 to 3 ears per cornstalk, so I didn't use up too much of my garden for corn. Mr. Angel at French Hollow grows FIELDS of corn and it is so sweet you'd almost give up chocolate - almost. So we will buy angelic corn if we don't have enough.

Cannas in Container
My rock patio is coming along nicely. I can't decide whether to fill in with mulch or some lovely creeping thyme. Depends on the budget I think. The cannas should do very well in this large pot. They have gorgeous red blooms that attract hummingbirds like crazy. That is my lily pond on the left. It needs another coat of terracotta paint. It is a small galvanized trough. When I first put it in the yard and painted it, one of my neighbors asked me where I got such a big flowerpot!

Water Lilies Beginning to Grow
 My water lilies have already begun to come up. I will add a few more water plants later in the season.

Fish Pond Spitter
This little guy is attached to my filter. He was black iron when I bought him (black...really?). I wish I had a before photo but my fish was BB (before blog). I gave him a nice bronze patina like the statues in the park.

And there you have it!  I have to tell you, this garden has been a blessing. I got laid off from my job last week and without the garden to sooth my soul, well, I don't want to think about it. The good news is I found another job right away and this one has gardener's hours! I go in late enough that I have time to garden before the day gets too hot and I go home early enough to have time to read my favorite blogs or shop at the garden center! Thanks for stopping by. How does your garden grow...do tell!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ahhhhh...Spring!



Wisteria
These beautiful spring blooms are absolutely my favorite part of the  season. This wisteria covers a large part of the garage wall of my house. It's much nicer to see when I drive up than miles of vinyl siding.



Garden Path in Progress

And there is, of course, the work portion of our programming.  I'm putting rocks around my patio because they're so much more interesting than more cement would be and my patio is postage stamp size. The vegetable garden is in progress too - more photos soon. This year I think I have a good method for keeping the robins and turtledoves from munching my veggie sprouts. I'll keep you posted.
Blessings, Linda

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Blogging - A World Wide Coffee Klatch

Kirby at Kirb Appeal, who I recently discovered and highly recommend reading, has a post that inspired me to think about what it is that gives me the urge to blog.

Jack LaLanne

In the past, when most women were stay at home moms (and dads said things like “no wife of mine will ever have to get a job”), my mama and other ladies in the neighborhood would take turns hosting coffee klatches. They’d drink gallons of coffee out of melamine cups, share recipes and knitting patterns and discuss whether to feed a cold or starve a fever. Sometimes, they even exercised with Jack LaLanne on TV.  I think someone who had tried to sell Amway or Avon every day, or never added anything to the conversation but constant complaining and whining would eventually stop getting invited. 

Originally, I started blogging because of an article I read at Etsy about using the social media to build your online presence and get attention for your shop. That has not happened for me. Though Facebook, Twitter and blogs may work as advertising tools for some, for me it isn't any fun, it takes too much time, and I don't like reading blogs that are nothing more than billboards for a shop or company anyway, so I sure don't want to write one like that. 
What did happen was that I discovered a world of ladies with whom I have things in common. Ladies who like to make things, cook things, decorate things, photograph things and even sell things. More importantly, I found ladies who want to share all the joys of life with which they are blessed. I thank them all for coming to my little coffee klatch - and for inviting me to theirs.

Blessings,
Linda

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Inappropriate for the Office



S'murtle - Jilly's Cupcake Bar, St. Louis
My co-worker has a gorgeous calendar hanging above her desk. I pass by several times a day just to admire the calendar girls…cupcakes…beautifully decorated, fabulously photographed, yummy cupcakes. Damn them, they are totally inappropriate for the office (like that tart they hired for reception).  So I decided to start a calendar of my own. One much more office appropriate - not so decadent and distracting. I have my quarterly calender girls picked out already:

Spring Salad - pickycook.com
This is the young temptress, Miss Spring, dainty and sweet - sporting delicate baby greens and juicy ripe red strawberries. She’s lightly dressed, yes, but oh so innocent.

Summer Salad - annpurnacaterers.com
Miss Summer follows. Stunning, round, voluptuous melon balls, dark sweet grapes, slices of succulent peaches and a sprinkling of late season strawberries. She is sporting a sprig of mint and looks wonderfully cool sitting in her cantaloupe cup.

Autumn Salad - AskGeorgie.com
Following the fabulously hot Miss Summer, I’ve chosen a bold and sophisticated Miss Autumn. Simple and elegant, shredded purple cabbage decorated with the season’s crispy red apples, she’s dressed in a tangy mustard vinaigrette. It’s just the right amount of coverage for her tantalizing sweet crunchiness.
Winter Salad - wisefitnesstips.com
Finally, the well-seasoned Miss Winter. Preserved beets and sun dried tomatoes snuggle with lettuce, green onion, cucumber and lovely farmer’s cheese. She is sporting a sprinkling of dried herbs from the garden and a smidge of olive oil and red wine vinegar.

See, it IS possible to be tantalizing without being sinful. I may just have something here…

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter




May you each have a wonderful day filled with family, friends and the blessings of the season!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Go to Work, Go Home, Go to Work...

Yesterday I went to work..

Jane Fonda in 9 to 5

Today I'll go to work...tomorrow I'll go to work...


Jane Fonda in 9 to 5
...at least I have a job...THE END

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Decorating - Over the Cabinets, Not Over the Top

I know your honors, I’m completely out of order (weak attempt at courtroom humor), but even though I'm not done painting the kitchen yet, I REALLY wanted to decorate. So, instead of a TA DA complete reveal, I’m showing you how I avoid more painting.  First, I Googled lots of images for over the cabinet decorating ideas and totally confused myself. 

Too much and it looks like the Tchotchke Fairy threw up in your kitchen.


A Bit Too Much?
Via UglyHouse.com
Nice  Stuff, But Still A Bit Too Much Stuff


Too little and it looks a bit forlorn.
 A Bit Too Sparce
Via glitterglueandpaint.com
There was the “don’t do anything at all” school of thought, but that would have been too easy. I’ve never been known to do anything the easy way - ask the Rock Star after he has moved the sofa for the umpteenth time only to return it to its original space. Well, I guess that was easy for me, just not easy for the Rock Star.

Via Apartment Therapy
I'm hoping I got it just right.

Over the Cabinet Decor - Just Right?
Some say silk plants are a no-no, but mine are easy to clean and I like greenery. The  Rock Star reminded me that we are WAAY farther away than 19km from Paris AND it's not west of us. (He's just being difficult because of the sofa incident). I may need to replace my little Paris sign with a larger sign. I have these in my Etsy shop, but my EAT signs are larger and would certainly work in this space. The tureen was made by my mother-in-law in ceramics class. She is the sweetest lady in the world. 

Which Way to Paris?
 I just love Guy Buffet's waiters. Mr. Buffet was commissioned to do the floral pattern on the Perrier Jouet champagne bottles. I have a collection of the champagne glasses and an ice bucket, but you will note I did not add them to my above cabinet space. I have no idea what you call the wire thingy, but it was too small in my garden, so I repurposed it here.

Guy Buffet - Perrier Jouet Bottle
More silk no-nos, again easy clean and terrific space fillers. I'm looking for artificial herbs to replace the jade plants for a more kitchen theme, but for now...

Above Kitchen Cabinet Decor

Well, my blogger friends, thanks for coming this far with me. I appreciate constructive criticism and advice - especially if it keeps me from returning to painting. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Trying a New Venue


I Am What I Am - St. Charles MO
I've just taken some of my French logo shabby chic trays, birdhouses and wine stoppers to this charming little shop in old St. Charles, about 10 miles from my house, on consignment. I've not tried consignment before. I recently had some items in a craft boutique and suffered dismal failure. The shop was lovely and the ladies who owned it were charming. Unfortunately, it was not the right venue for handcrafted. There were lots of resale items and home party companies, but not much handcrafted. It was also on the outskirts of a large suburban area not close to any other retail. I sold one item in three months. Heartbreaking.

Yay!! Local Handmade Boutique!
This darling shop is full of handmade items and located in the center of a whole street full of charming shops, boutiques and restaurants. You really should visit St. Charles, Missouri if you're ever in the area. The owner is lovely and has her own successful Etsy shop at www.pinksevendesigns.etsy.com, so she is all about handmade and hand decorated. Fingers crossed, we will have a wonderfully successful relationship. Have you ever tried consignment sales?