Saturday, March 29, 2008

three blue skirts

I don't know how long I've had this skirt pattern (Simplicity 5844); long enough for it to be found only on eBay. I've made it 4 or 5 times, and I just realized that the last 3 skirts were blue. I thought I'd put up a picture... The next one will be red.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

8 lightning fast breakfast ideas

Maybe you're the type of person who rises, glowing, from your Downy-scented feather bed, ready to greet the glorious morn. I am more inclined to give the glorious morn a half-nod as I reach for the Diet Coke and flip on NPR. As I've written before, I loathe most breakfast food. I'm not really hungry until 10 am anyway and therefore not very sympathetic to the widely varying tastes of my family when it comes to breakfast. If I could feel good about serving cereal every day, I would definitely do it, but--as the dusty box of Kix in the pantry will attest--my kids will only really eat cereal of the high fructose corn syrup-drenched variety. Anyway, I was talking with my mom over the weekend about breakfast (she used to feed 8 people every morning, she's an expert!) and we came up with some great ideas...

* yogurt/granola/frozen blueberry parfaits
* refrigerator bran muffins (recipe here)
* boiled eggs (boil a dozen at the beginning of the week, peel what you need each morning, mash with butter and salt+pepper, heat up in microwave)
* egg mc muffin type thing on toast or whole grain english muffins
* breakfast tacos (scramble a dozen eggs, portion onto tortillas, add ham, grated cheese,and frozen spinach leaves. Freeze, heat up as needed)
* smoothies
* Please don't try the following sausage biscuits. They don't turn out well.
sausage biscuits (For these, I buy those cheap tubes of refrigerated biscuit dough and Banquet brown n' serve sausage patties. Pinch each biscuit dough portion in half. Place one half in the bottom of a greased muffin tin. Place 1 sausage patty in top. Put other half of biscuit dough portion on top. Bake at 400 for 12 minutes. Freeze and heat in microwave as needed. You can make 32 of these biscuits for about $6.00.)

* breakfast skillet (Microwave 1-2 cups of frozen hashbrowns and 1 cup of spinach. Heat some olive oil in a skillet. Add hashbrowns, spinach, and some fully cooked bacon or ham to skillet. Brown for about 4 minutes. Add 4-6 beaten eggs or 1 1/2 cups egg substitute. Scramble. Top with cheese if desired. Serve with salsa.)
* apple crisp w/ vanilla yogurt (or even vanilla ice cream!)

(Yes, we do love spinach at my house, even in the morning.)

p.s. the photo is of a Full English Breakfast. Read the wikipedia entry about it here. It's pretty interesting and only a little gross.

little pouch and washcloth

The general idea for this little gifty is from Bend the Rules Sewing. If you're reading this, Mindy, I guess it's not a surprise anymore...

Monday, March 17, 2008

the poor (or just cheap) gal's periodical

I was just craving some Adam Gopnik books or articles tonight when I remembered that such articles are practically on tap at our library website via the online databases. If you haven't drilled down into your library's website, I highly recommend that you do. If your library system subscribes to online databases, they probably also allow remote access to them. I chose "Academic Search Complete," which includes the New Yorker, typed in "Gopnik, Adam," and printed out 4 long articles to read in the bath. Such happy news for a non-fiction junkie. Best part: if you drop the pages in the water, it's OK!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

skip this post if you hate minutiae

Queen Scarlett tagged me, and I actually have time to respond!

10 Years Ago...
I was living in Provo, UT, working in the Financial Aid Office (sooooo boring). Newlywed, quite poor, happy.

5 Things on my To-Do list today...
* finish laundry
* find campground for trip next week
* pay bills
* make breakfast cookies if I feel like it
* carpool
(it doesn't get more exciting than that!)

Snacks I enjoy...
* peanut M & M's
* chocolate cherry diet Coke from Sonic
* rosemary/olive oil triscuits
* kiwi
* swiss cheese

Things I would do if I were suddenly a billionaire...
* Pay off the cars, house, and parents' obligations
* College/mission fund for boys
* Donate to a foundation working to eradicate malaria and improve water quality worldwide
* Move to Hong Kong for a few years
* Invest

3 of my bad habits...
* Thin skinned, sometimes
* Not very patient with kids who tune me out
* kind of a pessimist

Jobs I've had...
* Many secretarial/clerical jobs
* Custodial lackey(3 months)
* destitute laundress (chief duty: ironing---I think there is a special circle of hell devoted to such a job)
* Lazy groundskeeper (with Kristi!)
* Librarian

5 Things people don't know about me...
* I am secretly following the slow implosion of Britney Spears
* I am seriously afraid of heights (like I can't even climb on an 8' ladder)
* I wish I had more kids (ok, most of you know that)
* I sometimes worry about my weight even though I am very critical of our skinny-centric culture
* I like some schmaltzy Church music

OK, round tuit, pancakes gone awry, artistree, the scoop, lost and found... consider yourself tagged!

... and the dipping oil

I forgot to mention that all of us are way in to dipping bread into oil mixed with all kinds of herbs n' stuff. Here's a dipping spice recipe that I got from one of those "copycat" websites (it was a while ago so I don't have a link to it). It is also great as a pasta topping or combined with tomatoes for bruschetta. angry chicken has some oil and vinegar dipping sauces on her site today; her post reminded me of the joys of dipping.

Carrabba's Dipping Spice

1 T minced fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried)
1 T chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
1 T minced fresh garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 T fresh)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary (or 1/4 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp ground sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp lemon juice

Combine first bunch of ingredients. Add remaining ingredients. To serve, combine about 1 1/2 tsp spice blend with 3-4 T olive oil in a small dish.

Yield: 1/4 cup spice blend

Monday, March 10, 2008

Crusty Hearth Bread

I had every intention of taking a picture of the entire loaf, but the kids were hungry and super grouchy today, so there was no stopping for a photo.

I've been making this recipe for about 16 years now. Hard to believe it has really been that long since I started college and received my first cookbook: Betty Crocker, of course. It earned me the reputation of the mother of the apartment, according to one of my roommates. Paired with a good, thick potato soup or chowder, it's so very satisfying. Also excellent with ham and muenster cheese on the following day.

So here's the recipe. I make it in the KitchenAid mixer, not by hand as the recipe indicates.

Crusty Hearth Bread

1 pkg (1 tablespoon) regular or quick-acting active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
3 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1/4 cup shortening
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
egg wash
kosher salt
rosemary, poppyseeds, dried garlic, etc.

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the buttermilk, shortening, sugar, baking powder and salt until smooth. Stir in remaining flour until dough forms. Turn dough onto floured surface. Knead gently about 1 minute or until smooth. Cover and let rise 10 minutes.

Grease a cookie sheet. Shape dough into round loaf, about 8 inches in diameter. Place on cookie sheet. Brush with egg wash* and sprinkle with rosemary, dried garlic, or poppyseeds (or a combination thereof). Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350. Cut an X shape about 1/2 inch deep in top of bread. Bake about 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter; sprinkle with kosher salt. Tear bread into pieces, or cut into slices.

*For an excellent website about egg washes and "crust embellishments," click here.

Monday, March 03, 2008

random acts of medicine

I happened to watch 60 Minutes last night, and saw this segment about Remote Area Medical, or RAM. It's something like Doctors Without Borders, originally formed to provide free medical care to people in Third World countries. The demand for such care, however, is so great in the US that 60% of their operations are now based in our country. They serve hundreds of uninsured/underinsured people and must turn away hundreds more. I was impressed by the founder who lives in an abandoned school and showers with a garden hose. This is the kind of charity I want to spread the word about, hence the post.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

emotional hair cream purchase

So the hair cream appearing above is called "Ends Well" and it's made by Grassroots. It does a decent job of smoothing my hair which is becoming increasingly frizzy and out of control as the humidity increases here. It doesn't work as well as the $3.00 creamy gel stuff that I usually buy at the supermarket, yet I fully plan on keeping a tube of this "Ends Well" concoction on my bathroom counter until I'm old and gray. Why? Because it smells EXACTLY like my Nana and Poppy's bathroom in Thatcher, Arizona, in a house that no longer stands. The interior of this house (for some reason) always appears in my mind's eye as the setting for Franny and Zooey,
their master bedroom being the place where Franny receives the crucial (and fake) phone call from Zooey. Anyway. I've been interested in reading this book titled The Scent of Desire: Discovering Our Enigmatic Sense of Smell by Rachel Herz. I wonder if she covers the topic of purchases made solely on the basis of scent-induced nostalgia. I've read that certain hotel chains and clothing stores are investing in "signature smells" to be piped through the store. Right now our house's signature smell is sweaty children, after a day spent at a tiny creek near our house, throwing rocks in the water and replenishing the ant farm.