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February 2012

leap day

leap day

 

leap day

 

leap day

 

leap day

 

We made it out for a surprise picnic. Orzo salad and peach smoothies in mason jars. The sun was bright and warm and the little ones ran through sand and water while the big girl & I relaxed on the picnic blanket and chatted. I love how excited they were about a simple picnic. Something we should do far more often....

It was so good that we forgot what time piano lessons were. Oops.

Tonight is popcorn, kale chips for dinner + a movie.

Happy leap day.....

 


his cake + a manly basket

I had to share the cake I made Joe.

I've shared the cake recipe before here.... and the idea of whipped cream frosting here.

This time I used coconut oil instead of light olive oil in the cake. And topped it with fresh raspberries. Oh my goodness. It was pretty over the top delicious. And ridiculously crazy tall too. 

 

his cake + a man basket

 

his cake + a man basket

 

Joe is the easiest and hardest person to choose a gift for. He's the type of guy that appreciates anything. The simplest little something extra really makes his day. But of course I want to do something awesome every now and then. Our budget is pretty tight these days so I was really trying to do this for not a lot of dough. Over the last month I pulled together this. In truth it started by accident. I picked little things up here and there and stashed them away. His favorite beer. Some favorite treats. Some new treats. A super cool t-shirt. Before I realized it, I had enough to fill a basket.

A Manly Basket

He loved it.

 

his cake + a man basket

 

On another note..... tomorrow is February 29th. A bonus day that comes just once every four years. Are you doing something special? Something out of the ordinary?

I'm packing up some yummy treats and our drawing supplies and surprising the kids with a picnic lunch to our favorite outside place to visit. Good cheap fun, right?

Wishing you a bit of magic in your leap day tomorrow.

 


monday bites :: our sourdough bread

1

 

This bread is good.

I mean really, really good.

It's got that chewy squish that sourdough should have to it. You know, the kind that makes you want to eat three pieces of it slathered in butter and peach jam. It also lasts a few days without getting dry or crumbly and it slices well for sandwiches. It's our new favorite bread. And while it isn't 100% whole wheat.... I'm okay with that. I think the flax meal gives it an extra boost. You could certainly use all wheat flour, but you'll lose the squish factor. After about 3 dozen loaves of this... I've used the least amount of white flour possible while still making a mostly whole grain bread that we love

I could talk far too long about creating just the right texture in foods. It drives my husband crazy sometimes. He's telling me "this is good." And I'm going on and on about getting the right balance of crisp and chewy into it. That's usually when he looks at me and shakes his head and starts laughing.

I hope you try it and you love it too. Especially the squishy part.

This bread uses 1.5 cups of sourdough starter. I ordered my whole wheat sourdough starter here.I feed it about 8-12 hours before I start my bread.... that way it's nice and bubbly & active when you start the process. What I mean is, the starter should look something like this:

 

2

 

Our Sourdough Bread

1.5  cups active sourdough starter

2  cups very warm water

2-3  tsp salt (I like 3)

2  TBSP honey

1/2  cup ground flax seed (flax meal)

3  cups whole wheat flour

2  cups unbleached white bread flour (+ more for kneading)

 

*Add starter, water, salt, honey, flax & wheat flour to a bowl. Stir well and let sit for 15-30 minutes to give the wheat flour a chance to absorb some of the water. Add the white flour and mix well. I use my stand mixer for this. I use the paddle for the first mix and switch to the dough hook when I add the white flour. After I add the white flour, the mixture is doughy but still too soft and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the bowl. I turn it onto a floured counter to knead in the last bits of flour. About a cup or so. The dough will hold its shape when it has enough flour into it. I always do the last part by hand because too often I have incorporated far too much flour by only using the mixer.

Too much flour = dense dry loaf. (aka - no squish)

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and let sit for 1-1.5 hours in a warm place to rise. My own experience is that sourdough needs a longer first rise to double in size. I think it just operates a little differently than conventional yeasted dough.

After the dough is nearly doubled, gently knead the dough once more. Shape into two loaves and place them into oiled baking pans. Cover with a barely moist towel to keep them from drying out.

Let rise for 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven after 25 minutes to 375. Bake for 40 minutes or so. The crust will be a dark golden brown when the loaves are done.

Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

Veggie sandwich & apple slices with maple almond butter.

Have you tried maple almond butter? Oh my, it's delicious.

 

Happy Monday to you~~

 


housekeeping~~

Did you notice the little housekeeping bits?

I've rearranged things here in hopes to make it look fresh & clean. What do you think? 

{If you happened to be here during the font/sidebar/color changes and you thought you were going a little crazy.... I do apologize.}

Anyhow... the truth is, my mind is about a zillion other places than here right now. My big boy has been home for the past week, which means all six of us are hanging out. I love this. I've got a few little writing gigs tucked under my hat too. I can't share them just yet, but soon! And a certain love-muffin of mine is turning 37 tomorrow. Which means today was cake baking and getting ready and tomorrow is celebrating! After that, the big boy heads back to school and the love-muffin heads off to training in Virginia. For three whole weeks. Guess who has to make her own coffee in the morning? Yup, me. Dang.

 

housekeeping

 

I wish I could squeak some more good bits in..... but a picture of the most amazingly delicious cookies will have to do for now. They're from this. But you can find the recipe here too. If you cut the honey in half and add 1 TBSP of coconut oil they are vaguely reminiscent of a butterfinger bar. Healthy butterfingers!? How's that for some Friday love? C'mon, you know you gotta try these!

And one more little big thing. Have you met Erin? Somehow we're sorta like cosmic blog sisters or something. For those of you that loved this, you should take a peek at her little mama confession of sorts. It's awesome.

Mad Mama Liberation ~ Rock On!

 


together

The feelings in this post have spurred many a conversation between Joe and I lately. I think every evening walk these past few weeks has been filled with conversation of planning and dreaming. We've got a whole lot piled on our mental plate. And I'm worrying about it months before I need to, I know! 

One of the things we've been discussing is the house. We took on quite a project renovating it with four kids helping. Some if it has gone well and some if has gone, uhm, unexpected. But it's going. The house is mostly done. In truth we got to a point where we were exhausted, both physically and fiscally. We've enjoyed a much needed break and now we're feeling rejuvenated and up to prioritizing a list of all that needs to be done in the coming year. 

Can you guess? There is a lot. And in the typical simple-living-one-income-big-family budget, less money than to-do's. We're hoping the kids will form a band or temporarily join a high paying circus to help contribute. But until that pans out, we're looking at what can be done on the cheap mostly free. 

We turned to the kitchen cabinets. I know I've shared a bit of our kitchen update in the past. Joe replaced the sink over a year ago.... and I thought you might like to see a sink. So, here it is.

 

together

 

The kitchen was the main selling point for this house. Underneath peeling linoleum and 80's wallpaper was a beautiful place for us to gather. So much happens in this space. In fact, I spent the entire day in it yesterday dyeing silks and making our meals. It's a happy place to be. A lot of work and love has brought it to this state. We've been eyeing the cabinets for months. Water damage from years of doing dishes. Wear marks on the doors from opening cabinets and doors. We eyed those beautiful oak cabinets and thought about painting them...

But we couldn't. So we began the dismantling and sanding and staining to freshen them up. We found out mahogany is not what color they are. Oops. But dark walnut is. Joe fixed a cracked door and replaced rusted hinges. And this time the kids are big enough to mostly stay out of trouble while we worked. Together. He and I.

 

together

 

together

 

together

 

And while this sanding and staining and clear coating in a kitchen where 5 or 6 people are always in can be a bit challenging.... it's coming along. Cabinet by cabinet. Drawer by drawer. Each glossy finished bit has me smiling. It fits our budget. And as I made dinner (at 7:30) with all of this around me, I had to laugh. Everything really does happen in the kitchen!

 

together

 

I suppose many a weekend in the next year will be spent on these types of things. But you know? My working partner is pretty cute. And darn funny. And even though I'd rather be sewing.... I'm pretty happy to be helping and fixing too. Together.

I think Luke is still working on the circus thing though....

 

together

 


yes

I've been busy. Off balanced. 

It seems like when things shift in this direction everything gets louder. Dinner happens too late. The house is messier. The bills seem higher. The dog is barking & and the kids fight more. Sometimes I feel all of it piling up and I feel pretty overwhelmed.

On one hand, I can look around and see that I am so blessed to have this beautiful life all around me. And truly, I know I am. On the other hand, when things feel like I'm sinking or always swimming upstream.... sometimes I get tired. Parenting is an intense job. It's always there and always on. 24/7. I'll be the first to say there is nothing I would rather do, but this doesn't change the job description. This doesn't change the emotional pull every day as you walk along this journey. Trying to be mindful. Grateful. Present. It takes work. Sometimes I'm good at it, and sometimes I suck. This is the truth.

In the midst of the worst day ever.... I try to find something good. Smiling kids. A wholesome dinner (even if it's 8 pm when it's served). Laughter. On the worst day ever this house still has love and happines and creativity.

This last week my youngest came to me with an apron on, and asked if he could make a snack. All by himself. I said yes. He led me to the kitchen where he had everything prepared.

Peanut butter, nutella, maple sugar & honey all sat on the island. As you might have guessed, this is not normal snack fare around here. I usually would have said no. I would have told him he could have the peanut butter & one sweet treat to go with it. But I didn't. All I said was, "just a little of each, okay buddy?" 


yes

 

yes

 

yes

 

yes

 

yes

 

He got to work. Making this snack. He felt empowered. I felt my spirits lift. He ate it up and told me it was the best snack ever

Yes is a powerful thing sometimes....

 

Happy weekending friends.

(and take a peek at the giveaway!)

 


Gypsy Forest Handmade Anniversary

Two years ago I opened up my handmade shop on etsy.

I've been amazed by the sweet and caring people I've come to know through selling my handmades. The lovely emails, comments, and photos mean so much to me. Oh, the photos! Especially the ones of babies in spindrift quilts. Those melt my heart into a puddle!

I know I mentioned a little anniversary coupon code for you..... and one of my lovely customers just sent a gentle "ahem" reminder that I needed to post it. I'm sorry it's so late in the day getting this out to you all, but I've pulled together a little quilted eye candy in hopes it will make up for the delay.

Shop Code : gypsycelebrates

Good for 10% off anything in the shop from today until February 29th.

Also..... just for being such supportive awesome handmade lovers, I'm offering a $25 gift certificate to the shop! The giveaway is open through Sunday February 8th at 4 pm. Just leave a comment to enter. I'll post the winner here Sunday evening. If you'd like to toss your name in the hat twice, share this post and leave a comment with a link where I can see it. (facebook, pinterest, twitter, your own blog, a picture of an airplane writing it in the sky...)

And yes. If you win, you can use the coupon AND the gift certificate.

Even better, right?

'Cause really, truly. You handmade lovers are pretty rockin'.

And now on to some beautiful quilty softness......

(and my new hand-dyed play silks & gift wrapping!)

 

Gypsy Forest Handmade Anniversary

 

Gypsy Forest Handmade Anniversary

 

Gypsy Forest Handmade Anniversary

 

Gypsy Forest Handmade Anniversary

 

Gypsy Forest Handmade Anniversary

 

Good Luck!

 

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comments are closed ~ I'll announce the winner in here later this evening. thank you!

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cheesy potatoes

We used to eat cheesy potatoes a whole lot around here. I guess when Luke was little and we went dairy free they, sort of fell off the mental menu list in my brain. Last week though, the temperature dipped to a chilly 38 degrees. I wore my orange hat around the house and a cozy sweater.... that's cold for us southern folks you know! When it's cold outside, I want warm and cozy food to feed us. Comfort food. Somehow while rummaging through the pantry contents to come up with dinner, I remembered cheesy potatoes. I used to make them with all white potatoes.... but I had sweet ones in the cupboard too. So I did a combo. Nutrition boost. Color boost. And delicious.

This isn't much of a recipe, more of a very yummy idea. It's a wonderful side dish for just about anything too. Now if only I could come with another name than cheesy potatoes. Something fancy and french sounding perhaps.... ah well, I suppose simple is good too.

 

cheesy potatoes

 

Cheesy Potatoes (side dish to serve a family of six)

6 or so medium sized potatoes (3 regular baking & 3 sweet potatoes)

olive oil

sea salt

seasoning blend *

parmesan or cheddar cheese, finely grated (roughly half a cup or a 2 inch square piece of cheese)

 

Scrub & cut the regular baking potatoes into cubes, leaving the peels on. Peel & cube the sweet potatoes. Toss the potatoes with a generous splash of olive oil, salt & seasoning. Toss around with your hands to evenly coat the potatoes. I do this right in the baking dish to avoid washing a bowl. The potatoes should be thoroughly coated with oil, but not sitting in a puddle of it. Bake at 450 on the middle oven rack until the potatoes just begin to brown & they are cooked through. Sprinkle with the cheese and continue baking until the cheese has just started to brown. (total baking time is roughly 40 minutes or so)

 

cheesy potatoes

 

*I use garlic powder, rosemary, italian seasoning, paprika, fresh black pepper.... whatever seems like it would compliment the rest of your meal. Frontier makes a really yummy all purpose blend that I love too.

Be sure that the potatoes aren't too deep.... about 1.5 inches or so at the most so they get some nice browned bits in them. My kids will fight (jokingly) about those corner pieces with the best crunchy browned pieces. They're pretty yummy.

Enjoy!