Sunday, November 20, 2011

baking:: trying a new recipe

I recently checked The Bread Bible out of the library and wanted to try the Basic White Sandwich Bread -I had heard great things about this recipe so yesterday morning around 11am, I started making the sponge starter. The starter needed to sit for at least an hour (I let mine sit at room temp for about 2hrs), then I used my KitchenAid to knead the dough together for the first rise. The recipe called for three rises (!), so I knew it would take a while- but last night around 11pm I finally gave up and stuck the two partially-risen loaves into the fridge. This morning I pulled them out, let them rise one last time and then popped them into the oven to bake.

The resulting loaves were DELICIOUS! And honestly, they should be, considering the amount of work that went into them: if I only count the rising time, it was about 7 hours! Add two hours for the sponge to come together and it's an all-day process. My normal bread recipe goes from mixed to baked in about four hours with two rises.

The flavor of the Bread Bible white bread was good, but it was the crumb and the lovely chewy crust that really stood out. I took a few photos to highlight the differences between the Bread Bible recipe and my regular recipe (sorry for the awful lighting- it has been dark and stormy all day!).

Here is my regular recipe: the Amish White Bread-
Amish White Bread
Note the denseness of the crumb and the thinner crust. This bread uses just water and flour with some sugar for sweetening. I usually use 2/3 all purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour with this recipe.

Here is the Bread Bible Basic White Sandwich Bread:
Basic White Bread
See how much more air there is in the crumb? This recipe also uses powdered milk and less flour to make for a wetter, more pliable dough. I also used about 1/3 (by volume) wheat flour and added some wheat germ for crunch. The crust of this bread was really nice and crisp right out of the oven.

And the two slices side by side (Bread Bible on the left, Amish White on the right)
side by side

After all the effort making the Bread Bible recipe, I was surprised that it wasn't much different in flavor than my normal recipe. The biggest difference between the two loaves was the tenderness of the crumb. I'm now wondering if I can try making a sponge for my Amish White Bread recipe....

Thursday, November 17, 2011

::thrify thursday::

Why is it when I go to the Goodwill to drop off donations, I always manage to come home with a little something?! It happened again a couple of days ago- I found a set of four vintage mugs for $3.99...the fun footed design caught my eye so they followed me home. I'm a sucker for the perfect coffee mug- these have a nice shape and size (I drink coffee slowly so narrow cups work well for me as they keep the coffee warm longer).

Here are the small men enjoying hot chocolate out of our "new" vintage mugs:
hot chocolate in new (to us) mugs

Evidently the pattern is called "Spice of Life" and was originally made by Corning/Pyrex:

Love the retro fruit and veg!

mmmm whipped cream!

These are probably about 30 years old....still in amazing condition and a fun addition to our everyday glassware.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

::cooking:: homemade granola bars

Monkey Boy and Little Man are going to different schools this year...something I neglected to blog about simply because having two kids in two different schools means 2x the volunteer hours for me! We sent MB to a new charter school and have been super happy with how it has turned out- small class sizes and a collaborative, "21st century' approach to learning has made MB's 1st grade outstanding so far.

One of the other differences between the kids' schools is that MB's school is nut-free- no peanuts, tree nuts or any other nuts are allowed. LM's school allows nuts and has an 'allergy table' for those kids who need to avoid nuts (or other allergens) at lunch time. One of kids' favorite things to eat is granola bars, which I never had a problem sending until this year...did you know it's practically impossible to find nut-free granola bars?

I searched high and low and found gluten-free granola bars, dairy free granola bars, sugar free granola bars- but it was impossible to find nut-free bars. Of course I then turned to the internets and found a granola bar recipe that I was able to change to be completely nut-free so that both LM and MB could bring bars to school. Here's the recipe:

ready to go
3 cups rolled (old fashioned) oats
1/2 cup wheat germ (not pictured)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 cup dried fruit- I use a berry medley from Trader Joe's
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 325

Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper or heavy duty foil. Make sure the lining covers the bottom of the pan and goes up the sides part way- otherwise your bars will stick like crazy to the pan! Grease lining with cooking spray.

Mix all the ingredients in a big mixing bowl.
mix it all up

Pour into the prepared pan and pat down until it's evenly and firmly packed.

Bake until golden- approx 30 min. Let the pan cool on the counter till granola is firm, then use the parchment paper/foil to lift the bars from the pan.


Cut into bar shapes with a sharp knife.
cut into bars
Wrap individually in wax paper or plastic wrap, or store in an airtight container.

Makes approx. 16 bars.

This makes for a firm, slightly chewy granola bar that tastes a lot like a big oatmeal cookie. The kiddos love them and will eat two batches a week. It's a very versatile recipe, too, since you can use different dried fruit: I've tried a raisin medley, plain cranberries, wild blueberries, and chopped mangos in different batches and they all came out delicious.

If I let Little Man make a batch, he will add some honey or molasses for some added sweetness but I think it tastes fine without. The sweetened condensed milk not only binds the granola together, but adds a nice carmel-y flavor once it's baked.

And of course, you can add any nuts you would like...just reduce the amount of rolled oats by the amount of nuts you add. So adding 1/2 cup of almonds means you will only use 2.5 cups of rolled oats.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thrifty Thursday

I went to lunch with the Dearest the other day and on the way home I spotted a (new to me) thrift store. Since it was *right* by the freeway entrance I needed to take to get home....well- I had to stop didn't I?!
Walking in, there was a sign that said "50% off entire store". Really?! I'm so there! It was a quick blow-through the store kind of trip (I had to get home because Little Man's school was letting out) so I went straight back to the books. I found these three in beautiful, nearly new condition:

thrifted books

Total cost? $1.59 for all three!

The Little Red Riding Hood book is perfect for Monkey Boy to read himself. And check out these sweet 70's illustrations!
sweeet 70's artwork

I especially like the woodcutter's mutton chop sideburns and CHiPs 'stache:
check out those muttonchop sideburns

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


we carved pumpkins:
proud crafters

we made costumes:
Little Man's mini-fig costume

we made 'mummies' at a block party:
making a mummy

we trick or treated:
ready to trick or treat

Our Halloween was a blast!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

love thursday

this thursday, I'm loving the hot (95F!) weather, which spurred us to visit the beach one more time....

trying out their new boogie boards at sunset

nearly dark

Monday, October 03, 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011


The boys caught a big fat blue belly lizard the other day and after taking it to school for show and tell, it was time to let it go. We actually have a 24hr rule regarding creatures- we only keep whatever is caught for 24hrs....that way we don't end up having to feed or take care of the many bugs, lizards and critters the small men have caught.

"buddy" the lizard
Monkey Boy really wanted his photo taken with "Buddy" before we let him go.

Holding "Buddy" before we let him go
And of course Little Man had to have one, too.
After the photos it was time for Buddy to be free and we set him loose in our flowerbeds. I'm pretty sure that the boys will catch him again. Last year we caught and released the same lizard about four times!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Giant Candy Corns!

finished product!
Styrofoam cones in various sizes (5 inch to 18 inch)
Yarn in yellow, orange, and white (I used cheap Red Heart: $2.50 each giant skein)

Gather up your supplies under the watchful eyes of your supervisor:
my supervisor
"Get to work already!"

My styrofoam cones were green so I asked Monkey Boy to paint the tops for me. We used white acrylic craft paint. This way the very tip of the cones wouldn't show up green against the white yarn when we wrapped it.
paint the tops

My supervisor is making sure the yarn is all there...
gather yer yarn

Then comes the tedious part: starting at the bottom, wrap the yarn around the styrofoam cone:
It's not difficult but make sure you occasionally turn the cone to cover all the green. When you're done with the yellow, go on to the orange, and finally the white.

supervisor checks out my work product
" need to wrap more..."

I didn't use glue or anything to hold the yarn sticks pretty well to the styrofoam so I just wrapped it up to the top and tucked under the last piece.
Here are the finished products:
finished product!
This is a super easy project- in fact Little Man did the front piece all by himself and it turned out wonderfully.'s a much easier project if you don't have this kind of 'help'....

Monday, September 26, 2011

Library trip.... !

Friday, September 23, 2011

Photo dump!

Yes,I know it's been FOREVER since I posted....we were super busy with camping toward the end of August...then school started (and kids are in two different schools now)... and I have been teaching yoga a lot. All that equals very little time to blog!

So in an effort to catch up, I am going to dump a bunch of photos in the post and let them speak for themselves! (click on any photo to embiggen)

Camping in Big Sur with our good friends:
Stopping on Highway 1 to take a sunset photo

sun setting in the fog

kids on the big sur river by our campsite

Monkey Boy on the rope swing
Little Man and his pal on the floatie
Monkey Boy was fascinated by the water skaters and caught a bunch!

The kids loved jumping off this log into a pool

We camped at Big Sur for three days and then headed up the coast to Monterey, where we got to visit Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

MB said his favorite fish were the sharks, and LM liked the sunfish the best.
They both enjoyed petting the batrays, too.

We got home just in time for Labor Day weekend, then it was back to school!
new school year
How did they get so big?!

LM walking to school...

thumbs up for the class
Thumbs up for his new classroom

brand new first grader!
MB as a first grader!

walking into school
walking into his new school...

We are finally settling into the new school year routine so hopefully I will have more time to post. There has been a lot going on in our house besides camping and school....!

homemade whipped cream is way better than storebought!

<<whipped cream.jpg>>

Monday, August 22, 2011

skating fun

The small men have been into skateboarding lately. Luckily, we live pretty close to the Etnies skate park. Even more luckily: the skate park is free! We headed there this morning for a little bit of skate practice while it was still cool.
Here's some video I shot of them trying out the ramps....You can see Little Man in the dark shirt and then Monkey Boy in the tie-dyed one.

The funniest thing happened while we were there: MB decided he wanted to go over and check out the "pools", which are like big empty swimming pools for skaters to do tricks on. Little Man went with him and then came back alone. I asked LM where his brother was and LM said "Oh, he's still in the pool."

When I went over to check it out, all I could see from my vantage point 20 feet away (I have to stay on the other side of the fence) was the very top of MB's head as he ran back and forth trying to get out of the pool! He was yelling "Help! Let me out!"

After some pushing and pulling from our friends and LM, Monkey Boy was set free of the pool and went off to skate more ramps. He said next time he tries a pool, he will stick with the one that has a ladder!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

added to my "To-Read" list

My Goodreads list keeps growing. One of the books I just added is "X-Posed: the Painful Truth Behind Yoga & Pilates". I found this post on It's All Yoga, Baby, where the author of X-Posed talks about his own views that not all yoga/pilates is safe.

This should be an interesting read, as I somewhat have to agree. With my own issues stemming from moderate scoliosis, I have learned to alter my practice to fit my body. But as a yoga teacher I regularly see people forcing their bodies into various asana on a daily basis.

One of my opening statements in every class is something along the lines of "Trust your body and your breath- don't force yourself into any pose." But it never fails that I see a student panting, red-faced and grunting as they try to get into 'that advanced asana'.

I know it's their ego taking over- I've been there myself! "I can TOTALLY get into Peacock pose!"

Uh, no, I can't...but that doesn't stop me from grunting and holding my breath and trying! At least nowadays I can usually see this ego/competitive part of my practice for what it is- and I can slow myself down to return to the practice with a more gentle mindset. Hmmm...sometimes at least!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A day at the beach and a letter to the tooth fairy

We have been trying to spend more time at the beach this year. The small men are finally big enough that I feel comfortable taking them by myself. I usually make them carry their own bodyboards and sand toys, which frees my hands up for all the rest of the junk we need to carry.

Our beach of choice lately has been Strands- the boys love taking the funicular and I love the fact that there's FREE parking...a rarity among beaches. The waves break shallowly and far enough out that the kids can bodyboard without getting slammed into the sand.

The Dearest accompanied us to Strands yesterday, bringing his new fishing pole to try out. This made the boys very happy as they got to fish with daddy and dig up plenty of sand crabs as well as play in the water.

The most exciting thing that happened was Monkey Boy *finally* losing his tooth. He was biting into a sandwich and suddenly started shouting that his tooth had fallen out. This baby tooth has been hanging on for over two months, and I was even about to call the dentist to get some 'help' with pulling it out. MB was so excited that it finally came out without help!

The funny thing is, last night he wanted us to help him write a note to the tooth fairy because MB didn't want to give up the tooth! So here's the note:

"Dear Tooth Fairy,
I want to keep my tooth. You can keep your money because I want my tooth. This is for good, so come back when my next tooth falls out.
(signed) Monkey Boy"


So did the TF let him keep his tooth??? Yes, she did...and she gave him a $1 gold coin to boot. Probably because he's just too much of a cutie: