Sunday, January 20, 2013

[Recipe] Spelling with Pretzels

One day last week I made a specific effort to do something fun and extra special with Hailey. I had Hailey help me make pretzels. They sounded good, and I thought she’d enjoy rolling out the dough. She loves to play with Play-doh. Making pretzels isn’t much different.

To make our pretzel making fun and educational, we spelled out our names with the dough. I remember doing the same thing with my mom as a kid. I loved to help her roll out breadsticks and shape them into letters and shapes. It was so fun to sit down at dinner and find the ones I had made. 

Hailey knows how to spell her name, and she knows how to write some of the letters. I thought this would be a fun way to continue to work on that. As we rolled out the dough, we talked about which letter comes next, and how it’s made. I asked Hailey to tell me what the next step was in our letter making (on the letters she knows how to write) and she helped put the dough in place. It was fun! Hailey especially loved eating each of her letters (we stretched it out over a few days).

When we play with Play-doh, this is often what we do. But this was better, because it’s edible. :)

If you’re interested, here’s the recipe we used.

4 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/4 c. warm water
3 1/2-4 1/2 c. bread flour (I just used all-purpose and it was fine)
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 c. water
1/2 c. baking soda
kosher salt for sprinkling (we used cinnamon and sugar, and garlic salt and shredded parmesan cheese as toppings)

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tsp. sugar in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 c. sugar, and 1 1/2 tsp. salt. Make a well in the center, add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix. Add more flour if dough is too sticky. Knead 3-4 minutes. Cover and let rise until double (approx. 30 minutes). Gently punch down dough. Cut the dough into 12 pieces. Roll each until about 15 inches long and the thickness of your finger. Twist into a pretzel. In a pot, mix water and baking soda. Bring to a boil. Dip each pretzel into boiling soda water for 5 seconds. Place on greased baking sheet, lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and bake for 8-10 minutes at 425 degrees.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Our New Food Storage Room

We are so lucky to have a room in our basement we can dedicate to food storage. I’ve wanted to build up a supply of food for a while now, but we just haven’t had the space to do it. Now we can!

Kyle and I talked about getting a freezer for a few months. It was something we wanted, but decided it wasn’t something we could do immediately. Before Keira was born I was really hoping to be able to do some freezer meal cooking. I knew I’d be short on time, patience, and sleep. I didn’t want to throw meal planning into the mix as well. But, the freezer in our refrigerator was already pretty full. There would be hardly any room for pre-made meals.

One day, a few weeks before Keira was born I was surprised with a phone call from my in-laws asking if I’d be around that afternoon and informing me to expect a delivery. They surprised me with an upright freezer for Christmas! Kyle, the little stinker, had been plotting with his parents to surprise me. I was so excited! It came in time for me to make my freezer meals. Hooray!

Before we hooked up the freezer and stocked it, we decided to spruce up the room. It needed some major touch up.

Food Storage Room BeforeBefore.

The concrete floor was stained with paint and whatever else. There wasn’t any trim installed and there were gaps between the sheetrock and the floor. There were a few holes in the wall- one where we’re pretty sure some little mice friends of ours had come through. (Yes! Mice! We caught 5 mice in a two week period earlier this fall. I was disgusted and afraid we’d have to call an exterminator. Luckily they finally stopped showing up.) The mice had left some little presents to remind us of them on the floor, which we of course didn’t want anywhere near our food. The walls were dinged and marked up by who knows what. The room really was pretty sad. There was some existing shelving, but it wasn’t well constructed, and it didn’t fit into our layout of housing a freezer in the room. Kyle reused the wood from those shelves to make some new shelves for general storage in our utility room.

So, Kyle and I decided to gift ourselves a new food storage room. We spent way too much time at Lowe’s, Home Depot, and online looking at flooring. Way too much time. To the point that I was dreaming about it at night. Who knew there was so much to think about and consider. We obviously didn’t. We finally decided on a vinyl adhesive flooring from Home Depot that we could install directly over the concrete. We bought the flooring one evening and Kyle laid it that very same night. He knew I wanted to get the freezer running so I could stock it before Keira was born. He worked hard and fast. He really amazes me sometimes. Ok, pretty much all the time.

Food Storage Room new floor and freezerNew freezer and new floor.

We really should have painted before laying down the flooring, but my mom was staying in the room right next to this room and we didn’t want to inundate her with fumes. After she left Kyle finished the room by giving it a fresh coat of paint with paint we already had in the garage. He then installed trim and new shelving. It looks and feels tons better!

Food Storage Room AfterAfter.

I love it! We have plenty of space to store food, water, and other emergency essentials.

Food Storage Room Shelving

Part of my parent’s Christmas gift to us this year was a start on our food storage. They supplied us with some staple items like flour, rice, oats and salt. A couple of the local grocery stores had case lot sales, so I was able to buy a few cases of some canned goods that we use. We finally have some food storage. Yay!

One more look:

Food Storage Room Before_After

By the way, my mom helped me make and freeze a bunch of meals. It has been a great help. I haven’t had to make many trips to the grocery store or worry over making meals. It’s been fantastic!

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Birthday Present: A Cutting/Sewing Desk

Kyle is awesome. He spoils me. Seriously.

For my birthday this year he made me the best present ever. (Yes, I’m super late in posting this- my birthday is in October.) He made me a cutting/sewing desk! Since I started getting into sewing 2 (or so) years ago I have been cutting fabric on the floor and sewing on a small plastic craft table that jiggles and shakes as you sew. It’s all we ever had room for. Until we moved into our house. Now I have my own sewing space. Kyle was insistent on making a sewing desk for me, and I didn’t complain.

Kyle worked on the desk in the evenings after work. He put a lot of thought and work into the desk. And I love him for it. (And for other things too.)

Here’s my documentation of Kyle’s process. You can tell it took him quite a few days to get it put together based on his change of clothes in each of the pictures.

IMG_8177Working on the garbage cut-out.

IMG_8180Screwing in the front edge piece.

IMG_8182Green painted edge.

Yes, I picked the color. Nice and bright. Although, had I realized how yellowy the urethane would be, I would have picked another color. But, I still love the green regardless of the wood color.

IMG_8191Painting on the polyurethane to protect the wood.

IMG_8234Attaching the legs to the top.


The finished product. I love it!

The white shelving unit is an IKEA Expedit bookcase. It gives me some cubby holes for storage (which I still need to organize.) Above the bookcase is my cutting area. I was given a new 24x36 inch cutting mat and a 36” ruler from my parents for my birthday.  Now I have plenty of cutting space for most of my projects and it doesn’t kill my back. The cut out in the back is great for sliding my scraps right into the trash. It makes clean up so easy. Next to the cutting area I have my sewing space with room for my serger and sewing machine. Kyle still hasn’t it done it yet, but we plan on drilling holes in the back so I can run my cords up through the bottom, instead of having them hang from the side and get in my way. When I’m not sewing I push the machines to the back and then I have a space for my laptop to sit.

Have I mentioned that I absolutely love my desk? Thank you Kyle! 

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