Thursday, December 31, 2009

You Might Find

You might find if you looked around my house, random little groups, pairings or placements...

Psst...I got a new digital camera for Christmas :-)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Year in Review

"I cannot change yesterday.
I can only make the most of today,
and look with hope toward tomorrow."
On that note, here is my 2009 Year in Review.
  • Spent a total of a month in China for work (2 weeks in January, 2 weeks in October)
  • Learned how to start seeds and ended up with a big harvest in the summer
  • Built a garden and patio
  • Finished my Studio
  • Won $200 in Home Depot Gift Cards (care of and you)
  • Lost a dear bunny

Have a safe and Happy New Year !!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cookie Season Part 2

The cookie baking is nearly done for the season. As promised I wanted to share some photos and numbers with you. We laid everything out on the table last night, so I could pack some gifts for friends and coworkers. It filled the entire table as you can see below.

I won't list, or rather can't list every type of cookie because I was only responsible for 4 different kinds and honestly I think there are nearly 20 varieties.
As to the grand total of cookies...2243, which means nearly 187 dozen. I told you we were Santa's bakery.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cookie Season Part 1

As is tradition in my family, we are always the ones to supply the cookies for the holiday gatherings and gifts. In years' past this always involved my mom and dad slaving away in the kitchen for a week straight. For us kids, it was like living in Santa's bakery...that is if Santa had a bakery.

There were bowls of flour and sugar, cartons of eggs and sprinkles of every color. You could taste the sweet air and feel the warmth of the oven. Us kids got involved more with the decorating and as you can imagine it was always a little messy. Those colored sugars found their way onto the table and floor more often than on the cookie.

Now that us kids are grown, we have tried to lighten the load. The past few years, I've been the one responsible for three different kinds: Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal. While basic, these tend to make up the backbone of the giftboxes.

This past weekend started Cookie Season for my family. I spent the better part of Saturday and Sunday making over 33 dozen (400 cookies to be just happened that way). I didn't have time for the Chocolate Chip, that dough is in the fridge.

Yet, this is nothing in comparison to my parents. I cannot even remember the ridiculous # of dozens; but it's in the 100s. We hope to do the first packing of cookies mid-week, so I'll be taking some photos to share with you.

Until then, if you see the midnight oil burning in the know it's only us.

P.S. If you haven't voted yet in the Repair-Home Contest, I hope you'll vote for me.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Making Bread and How I Survived

I was lucky enough to have a few days off earlier this week and decided that it was time to finally quit saying I would make bread...and just do it.

I had acquired a small collection of bread making books over the past few years, and enjoyed looking through them from time to time. Yet, making bread always seemed like such an impossible task.

Regardless, I decided this was as good of a day as any. I pulled out the book, ingredients, various materials and started to get to work.

Although the book said that a beginner should start with a batter bread, I skipped that section and jumped right into yeast breads; starting with the Egg Bread that sounded delicious.

I pulled out the Active-Dry Yeast that I bought some time ago (checked the expiration-it was for 2010) and read the directions over and over. I think this is the step that gave me such fright. I knew that yeast breads were all about the yeast. If you get this wrong, you might as well give up.

I followed the directions (now having read them for like the 5th time) and before I knew it, I had bubbling yeast.

I gave myself a quick pat on the back and jumped to the next step. This process involved so many liquid ingredients, I was afraid that I'd have a soup-y mess. Of course, once you add 8 cups of flour (yes, I said 8 cups) you have a flour-y mess that overtakes the bowl.

I think the part of bread making that intrigued me the most was the kneading. I was excited to take out my frustration on the sticky goo in front of me.

Seven minutes later and my sticky mess began turning into something that actually looked edible. Now the next hard part...the waiting. It took two and a half hours for the dough to double in size. This pic is what I started with. When it doubled it nearly reached the top of the bowl.

After waiting two and a half hours, I punched it down, folded it over to get the air out and then put it back in the bowl for another hour and a half...ugh! More Waiting.
Of course, by now the kitchen was filled with the wonderful aroma of the fresh bread that was sure to come.
After a quick nap, I took to dividing the dough into two loaves. Each loaf, I split into three logs and braided them as the directions asked. I'm showing you the prettier of the loaves below, it was my second. The first, I dare say turned out a little sloppy. It's amazing how one forgets how to braid.

Nearly an hour later, I crossed my fingers for the final time, opened the oven and pulled out this beauty. The smell was absolutely amazing and I couldn't wait to tear into it.
The directions said to wait until the bread cooled...I waited all of five minutes and then gave in.

What did we learn here, you ask. I had survived.