Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Notebooks Revamped

The past couple of weeks when I was putting together the art studio I came across many composition books that were not entirely filled. I made a stack but couldn't bear to throw it all in recycling. The kids went through them all and tore out the pages.
I was left with this stack and thought they would be useful in the car while we wait somewhere we can always grab a pencil or crayons and a notebook. They could be useful for myself or the younger girls to write in but I didn't want them too look used and unappealling. I went through my basket of scrap paper and covered the notebooks constuction paper, origami paper and water color to give them a fresh look.

Now we have revamped notebooks ready to go.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chocolate Beet Cake

Yes!Finally something good to do with these beets every summer. I got this recipe from the csa a month ago and finally got around to making it recently. When I first saw the recipe it didn't sound appealling but I thought why not give it a try once. Nothing esle worked all summer with the beets. Once it was baked it looked like a brownie. I was excited because I think I found the perfect brownie recipe and the beets taste great. No one minded the beets bceause afer the cake is cooked the beet flavor is gone it tastes a chocolate cake with bits of fuit.

Chocolate Beet Cake
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups of sugar
Mix 6 tablespoons water, 6 tablespoons oil and 4 teaspoons baking powder(replaces 4 eggs)
1 1/2 cup beets, boiled and mashed
1/2 cup applesauce
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup cocoa powder
Preheat ovent to 350. Beat oil ,sugars and baking powder mixture by hand or with an electric mixer on medium. If using eggs add one egg at a time and beat thoroughly. Add beets and applesauce. In a separate bowl sift or whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda then add to wet mixture. Pour into 2 greased 9 inch round cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes.

-I do the baking powder mixture instead of the 4 eggs because of the egg allergy in our family.
-The original recipe includes 1/2 tablespoons of espresso or coffee grinds.
-If this is too much I would recommend cut the recipe in half.

The bummer part for me about this recipe is that I got it later in the season after many beets were sacrificied in other recipes and not eaten. That's ok there is next summer. I'm also wondering if I can freeze the mashed beets for this recipe?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Finds

Went to a really good book sale tonight. All paperbooks were $1. Organized my list of authors and titles and out I went. Came home with 32 books! It's like finding a great pair of shoes or jeans that fit.

Reading and Freezing Lists

Lists, lists and more lists. Lately my lists have been in disorder... again. Hoping to restore some order today while I do some laundry, follow up on some correspondences, take care of the needs of the little people, work on home projects and you know on and on. The two main items on my my mind the most are books I hope to read and fruits and veggies that I plan on freezing this week. I know two completely unrelated topics but both require my attention.

Luckily I have been doing quite bit of reading during breakfast, while waiting at an activity and before bed (that's only for a few minutes zzz...). I have been on the look out for more books at the thrift stores and getting some good books my friend recommends. Here's what's new to my library.

Paper Daughter by M. Elaine Mar This book looks interesting.
Searching for Caleb by Anne Tyler
The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
To Kill A Mockingbird (from my birthday) My favorite book growing up.
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
Leaving Cold Sassy by Olive Ann Burns

I have to admit I have had lots of freezer thoughts lately. With all the produce in my kitchen they are mostly destined for the the freezer to be enjoyed later.
  • A friend and I recently disovered that bananas can be frozen. Yes! There 3 spotty bananas just sitting there that won't last another day. So I sliced and placed them on a cook sheet and into the freezer they went. After they froze I put them in bag to be used later for smoothies or if needed a baking recipe

  • We have a large quantity of apples waiting for us. So far I have made couple of batches of applesauce and fruit sauce and froze them in containers. The fruit sauce is a mixture of sliced apples, strawberries, some blueberries and raspberries. It can be any any combination I'm thinking for next time maybe apple, peach, and strawberry for another batch. I'm not much of a canner so this is all going to be frozen.

  • Apple crisps and apple pies are a family favorite and I had actually considered freezing some pies but just can't wrap my brain around it. I googled something and came across these comments where people just freeze the filling. The individual would use a tin foil pie plate put saran wrap on it, then pour the apple pie filling and freeze. Once it was frozen the pie filling is a solid piece frozen piece and would go into a freezer bag. :)) They stack nicely and don't take up as much room as a pie. I thought brilliant I need to give that a try.

  • Well that idea led me to conversation with my friend Lucy (she's my baker buddy) about freezing filling for apple turnovers. We were thinking of freezing small amounts of apple filling for turnovers in muffin tins. Once they are frozen pop them out and put them in bags. We haven't tried this yet but I'm hoping it will work. I don't know if I need to spray the muffin tin or saran wrap it. If anyone has any recommendations I'd love to know.

  • The last item on my freezing list I just picked up yesterday at my mom's house are green peppers. My brother said that my mom was going to stuff them and freeze them. I immediately thought I've got to try that! This is my plan today steam peppers for 5 minutes and let them cool down. Sometime later today make my turkey burger recipe. Once the turkey burger cool down mash them a little and stuff the peppers. Line the peppers on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once they are frozen into the bag they go. A future frozen meal ready.

Ok that's a lot of freezer talk and I hope I'm not being too overzealous today. I'm hoping to have a lot of helpers. We'll see how progress goes.

I also want to thank everyone for your wonderful comments about the art studio. We all enjoyed reading them. Thank you :))

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Art Studio Unveiled

Finally I can show the source of my exhaustion and hardwork. One of my goals was to have an art studio in our new home.

The top shelf are for pens, pencils and paper from Dick Blick. The second shelf is for paper, colored chalk and crayons and markers sorted by color. The third shelf is for dry erase boards and markers and chalk boards and chalk. I also keep Home Depot paint chips they are great for cutting for toddlers or making up games for the older ones.
The top shelf is for stamps and glue. The second shelf is for the arts and crafts and stickers to be used but I don't to plan to replenish. The bottom shelf has clay tools and wooden cutting boards for the clay. The clay is in the red bucket. On both sides of the shelves the encyclopedias are stack there to be used over time for crafting and creativity.
The top shelf is for electronics and science. The second shelf has science experiments and books to go along with experiments. I keep forks, spoons, knives, bowls, flour, salt, cornstarch and a few other things here. The bottom shelf is for recycled materials toilet paper tubes, sticks, tissue paper, boxes etc.

The top shelf has a basket of acrylic paint and a basket of white old t shirts to be tye died later. I'm also keeping a stack of old composition notebooks which I'll explain in another post how revamp those.
The second shelf I keep the sculpty clay in a thread box. A friend recommended this because it keeps the colors separate when the kids are creating. It's easier for them to pick the colors they need and convient at clean up. The other 2 trays are for beads.

Top shelf is for painting time. The bottom shelf is a mish mash of stuff. There is one basket of used paper catalogs, construction and origami paper that's been folded many times. The second basket is cut up foam sheets and the third basket for felt. The row of green boxes at first was for me to sort out things like bottle caps, ribbons, shoe laces, string for beading but I found that it could be helpful for the kids as well. It's a good place for me to drop off stuff I find around the house and they pick up the green basket and use the materials. The round basket on the right is for marbles.

The top shelf is what I call the drop off place where the kids can leave a basket of their ongoing project. I'm not sure if this the right spot yet. The white shelves a friend recommended and I got them at AC Moore. It's for scrapbooking but it's great for sorting all kinds of paper we have construction, scrapbook, small white paper, lined, graph, etc.

The top shelf is for instructional books drawing, clay, crafts, needlework, etc. The bottom shelf I call textiles it's for the yarn, needles, hooks, thread, fabric, socks, t shirts and stuffing. Anything that maybe needed for needle work.
Way up top the shelves closest to the ceiling is where I store the bulk stuff that I have stocked up on. The typing area. I'm keeping my eye out at the thrift stores for another typewriter.That's what's been ongoing here. I'm showing this all to you at it's best but I expect there will be a lot of activity here in the afternoons and during the indoor cooler months.
Ok can you breath the sigh of relief with me now?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Going and going and going

Well things have just been going along here sometimes smoothly and other times overwhelmeing. If I don't blog first thing in the morning then it won't happen at all. But we have been enjoying our morning nature walks. We are easing into a new new fall routine but I'm still juggling cooking and cleaning while trying to tackle major projects. The basement is almost complete. I'll unveil the art studio tommorrow. While most of the basement gets cleaned my sewing area sadly is in disaster. It's like a ying and yang around here.
There also has been a lot of bustle in the kitchen lately.
We are all little of always running out of bread or buying bread with too many questionable ingredients. So finally I have begun making homemade bread from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes! The recipes are good and it's actually convenient to make the dough and have the option to refrigerate it for about 7 days. So far my rhythm for making bread has been bake 2 loaves of bread and mix a batch of dough to leave in the fridge. Each time that I take the dough out to bake the bread I mix another batch of dough to keep in the fridge. So far this has been the best method for us to always have homemade bread.
Looks like tea doesn't it? It's actually Carrot Top Tea. I was excited to try this but once I did I wasn't so sure. The recipe goes like this: Steep carrot tops for 20 minutes in boiling water. Pull out the tops and filter through a coffee strainer. Refrigerate it's sweet.
To be honest it was not sweet it tasted like boiled carrot water and not so great green tea. I tried this twice in one night but still it was a no. I actually thought maybe it was a joke recipe from the csa. It was no joke. After a google search I discovered there are some benefits and found a few recipes.

To be honest I'm still scratching my head on this one.
On a less confusing note today I turned 35! Yup it's my birthday. I actually don't mind saying that either. Like I said there is a bit of ying and yang going on here. Woke up tired but then had a lovely breakfast waiting for me with notes.

Also got to search for my birthday gifts.Looking forward to these lovely reads soon and knitting in my future.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Under the cool fall weather

Been a bit overwhelmed and very very tired. Just plain under the weather. Enjoying the cool comfortable air which inspires me to bake. Needing to rest right now. I'll be back in this space later this week or on Monday with recipes, lists and pictures.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Morning Carrot Muffins

The chill is in the air and it's almost the end of summer. Happy Labor Day! There have been some really nice summer days but the evenings are turning cool so we are waking up to a chilly home. What does all this mean? It's time to start baking again and the homemade granola is just around the corner. I used to have a rhythm of baking every Sunday night to have some things ready for the week but I fell out of it last fall and winter. I'm hoping to regain that rythm again so why not start it on Labor Day. Last night was the first baking of the seasaon.
Carrot Muffins
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
Mix 1 1/2 Tbsp. water, 1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil and 1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup grated carrot
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and set aside. In a bowl mix water, oil, sugar and oil, water and baking powder mixture. Then add dry ingredients. It will look thick and gooey. Mix in grated carrot. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden brown.
-This recipe doubles well.
-For the flour I use half white flour and half whole wheat pastry flour.
-I have never made this with eggs but the water, oil and baking powder mixture replaces 1 egg.
-I wish I thought of this sooner in the summer. The carrots could have been shredded and then frozen in bags so they would have been ready when needed. Oh well live and learn and remember for next summer :)
Happy Labor Day!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Forgot the Pantry

I forgot to show you the pantry in my last post. Over the summer I had trouble finding some kind of wall unit that would fit a wall space in my kitchen. Finally I came to the conclusion why not another Ikea Billy Bookcase (79 in. x31 in.). These bookcases are very popular around my home. I'm too embarrassed to tell you how many I own let's just say over 20. They are functional so what's one more in the kitchen. This time I bought plastic frosted doors to hide the snacks, cereal, pasta and canned foods.

This is as good as it is going to get for now. I have the shelves labelled to keep me in check. The top shelf is for pasta, second shelf for extra baking needs, the third is for a few empty containers, fourth shelf is for cereal paper plates and seasonal things like hot cocoa or ice cream cones, the fifth shelf is for unopened snacks. The sixth shelf are for the open snacks but I have been trying into put them in containers so there aren't too many open packages. It gives them a neater look and they are easier to grab if we need a snack on the go. The containers are from Ikea. The bottom shelf is for some canned store bought foods and the flour and sugars. I really like the tall Ikea containers for the flour and sugars it makes it look neater and it's easier to see how much is left. I think I definitely need a few more. lol
One thing that wouldn't fit in here is the rice so that went into a basket next to the pantry.

  • We didn't get any beets from the csa this week. I heard the other members were tired of the beets too.
  • We got radishes instead. Those were not a hit around here either.
  • Sometimes when I show an organized space around here people comment how organized I am. The truth is I have some of very disorganized spaces that I'm not showing right now such as the basement and my studio/library. I organized the gadget drawer only a couple of weeks ago otherwise it was "the just throw it in there drawer". The shoe pile were shoes from 3 different places. I'd be lying if the whole house was as neat as these last couple of pictures. lol I use the labels more for myself to keep me in check to put things back where they belong. It a balance of ying and yang. lol.
  • This tip I had to pass along from Cooking with Luv there is a tip to freeze coffee in ice cube trays and then add them to your cold coffee so when it melts it won't be watered down like regular ice cubes.

Some days I need the extra coffee boost :)
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