a view from the laundry pile…

…it's all about perspective.

A lovely day in the neighborhood

We went “exploring in our own backyard” today and found some of the most beautiful sights in the Olympic Mountains. Getting to a few of them was a little tricky in places but so worth it once we got there. It’s interesting how the air is so ‘different’ in the mountains than by the water – very crisp and clear. 

The road up to the mountains also ended up being the road down. We got about 3/4 of the way and came to a fork in the road (isn’t there a poem about this?). Though it really was a nice day, getting eternally lost in the Olympics wasn’t my idea of fun and, besides, the dogs needed to be fed so this just wasn’t an option. As we turned around and were headed back, we ran into a Park Ranger who was nice enough to let us know that one of the roads – the one we were going to take had we gone on – was impassable due to snow. I keep telling Fred that things always happen for a reason.

At one point, as we were driving, a very large hawk flew directly overhead and was racing on ahead of us and Fred wanted to get a closer look and was leaning forward, peering out the front windshield. However, what he didn’t realize was that as he was leaning forward, his foot was pressing on the gas and we were speeding up along the twisting and turning road. At that moment, I had visions of Willy Wonka’s magical boat ride where they’re racing along the chocolate river as Wonka is singing “there’s no earthly way of knowing, which direction we are going.” I started laughing so hard I was crying and couldn’t see straight. I did manage to snap a shot of the elusive hawk, right before it flew off to the left. Fortunately, Fred did not follow….the drop, on the left side of the road, was straight down the mountain.

This couldn’t have been a more perfect day — and I got to spend it with Fred. (Does it get any better than that?). It was sunny and beautiful with just a little breeze…oh, wait. That’s right, living in the Pacific Northwest, we’re not supposed to get nice weather here. Shh. Don’t tell anyone…

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Upcycling a pot holder

After only 6 years, I finally got tired of looking at our ratty, old pot holders. Sure, I could go out and buy 2 new ones but where’s the adventure in that? They’re not ripped or damaged, they’re just really, really ugly. So, rather than toss them out, I decided to make new ‘covers’ for them. I’m going to take the one of the left and make it into the one on the right. Neat trick, huh?

First, I washed the  pot holders so I’d, at least, be starting with clean ratty, old pot holders. I wasn’t sure which way I wanted to go on these so, with one of them, I cut it apart, using a seam ripper, and used just the heat-resistant material on the inside and discarded the outer fabric. The other one I left ‘as is’ and covered the whole thing (this is the one that I’ll be describing here — the process is, basically, the same and has similar results — one is just thicker than the other).

For each pot holder, you’ll need 6 pieces of fabric; 4 for the top, 1 for the bottom, and 1 you’ll never see that goes under the top piece (it’ll make sense as you go along). I cut all the fabric squares about an inch larger than the pot holder, itself (in case I had any problems as this was just as much an experiment as it was a new project for me). Take the 4 top pieces and fold them in half, iron them shut, creating a nice seam down one side, and set them aside. (If your pot holder has a holder, snip it off.).

The placement of the fabric: First, take the piece you’ll never see and place it face down. Then put the pot holder on top, centering it. Now take the piece you’ll use for the outside bottom and place it face up on the pot holder (I love this fabric – “The Dysfunctional Family” by Michael Miller). Next is the ‘pattern’ for the top. You’ll be making a checked pattern, based on the photo below, making sure the folded edge of the fabric is toward the center (this creates a finished edge).

Once the fabric is in place, pin the edges, really well, to make sure the fabric doesn’t slip while you’re sewing it (I suggest checking it as you go – it’s always easier to rip out a little bit of thread than a lot…). Placing the sewing foot right along the edge of the existing pot holder, sew all the way around the edges. Trim off any excess and snip the corners off (to keep from getting too much fabric bunched up in the corners), making sure not to cut into the seam you just sewed (been there, done that…more than once).

Once all the edges are sewn, turn it inside out from the top and, using a semi-pointy but not sharp object (I used a chop stick), gently push the edges and corners out and, if you’re really excited about it, you can iron your “new” pot holder flat.

I’ve used mine twice, since yesterday, and am really happy I did this. Goodbye ratty, old pot holders.

~

(And, before anyone cries “thief!,” my idea to upcycle was based on this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sipzCAflJQ8 – a great tutorial if you get stuck with any of my directions).

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Family reunions…’nuff said.

I love family reunions, don’t you? Getting a chance to catch up and find out what’s new with everyone, how the kids are doing, the latest on work/promotions/vacations, who’s gotten married/divorced, who’s new to the family, who’s died…

It’s hard to believe my nephew, Billy, is off to high school, already. On only his first day, he made new friends. He was really happy when they offered to walk him to campus and watch his backpack for him while he was in class. He’s not seen them since but hopes to run into them in the cafeteria at lunch as the peanut butter and bologna sandwich, which he just remembered he tucked into the bottom of the pack, might start to attract local wildlife if left in there too long.

Cousin June has decided that “home schooling” isn’t for her. Though she’s going to miss her precious angel after having him home, all to herself, for 4 years, 3 months, 8 hours and 54 minutes, while that busy, busy husband of hers, Dick (though I thought, for sure, his name was Tom…) who couldn’t make it to the reunion because he’s working late, yet again, at the office with his secretary, feels the car ride to and from preschool, alone, is more than enough ‘together time’ with her little boy. As she says “it is about “quality,” not “quantity.”

My niece, Jessica, is fresh out of college with a new job at a real estate company. She just loves working with her new cubicle partner. Apparently they’re as close as close can be and are even talking about sharing a house or apartment. Jessica says this way she can keep an eye on her and make sure nothing happens to the perky little blonde with the turned up nose who constantly reminds her that, if she loses enough weight, she might find a boyfriend someday. Jessica has also, just recently, started taking night classes in taxidermy.

Cousin Stewey and his fiance’ had difficulties finding another minister for their wedding after theirs suddenly came down with laryngitis at the last-minute. Thank goodness Reverend Chuck was available that day as he’s usually ministering to the local prostitutes down at the “Feel & Squeal.” It was a lovely ceremony. 

The weather was perfect when they got to Hawaii and they had a wonderful honeymoon at the beach, even though I don’t think they were expecting Reverend Chuck to tag along.  But how do you say “no” to someone who has such enthusiasm and spunk at his age?  

Joanie and Clyde’s boy, Dana, tried out for chorus but didn’t make it this time. Of course, he wasn’t happy about having to wait another year but knew those chosen were really destined to be in the spotlight more than he was. It was probably for the best, too, since the afternoon they announced the new members, he says he tripped over a speed bump and broke his arm, leg, two ribs, and his nose.

It’s always good to see Aunt Frank again. He certainly knows how to light up a room and entertain us for hours with his rendition of Liza Minnelli in “Cabaret.” It’s magical the way he appears out of nowhere to pull everyone into the sing along — though Joey still isn’t thrilled about playing one of the showgirls for the musical number “Mein Herr.”

 

 

* * * * *

Disclaimer: These aren’t my real family members…mine are not this normal. These are just exceptionally funny photos that I found, online and here on wordpress, that made me laugh out loud and want to write stupid things about.  Please see photo enlargements for websites.  Thank you.

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In search of greener pastures

Fred and I are always interested in finding healthier and, when possible, more economical choices to living in today’s world. Some things have their place but, overall, we can replace most things – especially those hazardous to our health – with better alternatives. Take chlorine bleach, for example. It whitens our clothes and keeps germs and other nasties at bay but at what cost? I’ve read that researchers have linked chlorinated water to increased cancer levels for at least 4 different types of cancer – and I believe this (especially the breast cancer-bleach connection). But, enough of that cheery topic…

This will always be an ongoing project for us but, I feel, we’ve made some real progress. Over the last 5 years, we’ve started getting ‘more serious’ about this and have, among other things, stopped using paper plates, towels, and napkins. For the towels and napkins, we use cloth alternatives.  After using a few different materials, I’ve found that (unbleached) “bird’s eye cotton” cloth seems to work best.

I started with a baker’s dozen (appx. 10″ square each) of the paper towel/napkin ‘replacements’ that I purchased from a gal on Etsy.com. At the time I purchased them, last year, they were $15.00 US (including shipping). A single roll of paper towels is, maybe, $2.50-3.00? I was so pleased with them, I went back for more and now have an ‘arsenal’ of about 25 or so. Of course if you’re able to, make your own. I don’t have a surger to finish them — though, I suppose I could ‘roll’ the edges. Hmm. (Another project…yes, just what I need…). 

Laundry seemed to be another place where I felt I could “do better” than the commercially available detergents. (Have you ever taken a few minutes to look up the ingredients in the products you’re using?). The problem I was facing was getting things clean enough. Especially Fred’s things…you know what “things” I’m referring to here. Yes, those things. So, it was important that, whatever I chose to use, it had to work effectively. The first thing I looked into was a homemade laundry soap. Most were made with Borax (not to be confused with ‘boric acid’) but, once I looked into the “possible side effects” (ie: toxicity) of Borax, I decided it wasn’t much better than bleach and kept looking until I found one that I liked. It uses Castille Soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s), baking soda, salt, and water. Easy enough, eh? You use 1/3 cup per load and it costs appx. 4 cents per load. (Here’s the link with all the instructions; www.apartmenttherapy.com/make-your-own-dr-bronners-laun-138151). Not bad!

I made 1/4 of a batch to start and I used the ‘new soap’ for about 2 weeks. It worked okay. (But, in all fairness to the recipe, we wash everything in cold water. If you use hot, you may have better results). It just wasn’t working well on the ‘stinkier’ stuff but was fine for the towels, sheets, etc. Rather than changing over to hot water, just for part of the laundry, it made more sense to find something else that I could use.

I kept reading and searching and found something that totally intrigued me. A “laundry ball.”  Really? I read the description;

“This green ball contains ceramic pellets which change the Ph balance of the water and washes your clothes without detergent! Help your clothes stay new longer and watch as they don’t break down as fast from the harsh detergents!” Furthermore, it claims to clean up to 1000 loads of laundry, per ball, you can save money by skipping the rinse cycle, and has great reviews. Well, for $10 (on Amazon.com), I was going to find out how accurate this was.

As soon as the laundry balls came in (I ordered 2, one as a replacement or, in case, I needed 2 for an extra large load), and I “charged it” (you have to let them sit in the sunlight to recharge them…another tidbit that piqued my curiosity about these), I gave them a try. I tried one, by itself, on a regular cycle with whatever was in the hamper. I wanted to be thrilled…but I ended up luke warm. The clothes were definitely cleaner but not as clean as they were with regular detergent (again, this could be a cold water issue). BUT, when I started using the Bronner’s laundry soap with the laundry ball, I got great results — and I only use about 2 Tbs. of the laundry soap for each full load!  

Feeling pretty confident about this discovery, I decided to tackle the dryer.  I’d heard about dryer balls and this is what one ad had to say about them: “Dryer Balls tumble in the dryer to lift & separate laundry allowing hot air to flow more efficiently. The soft nodules (tips) massage fabrics to naturally fluff up and soften without the use of chemicals.”  (And, they’re supposed to cut your drying time by 25% and eliminate the need for fabric softener sheets. Hmm…).

You know how they say “you get what you pay for?‘ Just remember they also say “good things happen when you least expect them.” After using them for 2 weeks, I’m hooked (and will go back for more!). There is no static cling (!?) and, while they don’t get your clothes as soft as commercial fabric softeners (which, by the way, use animal lard to get that “soft feeling” Can I insert a *gak* here?) they do a good job — and certainly better than the ‘stiff’ feeling you get with a clothes line — though, when the weather is nice, this is what I use…which is nearly never since I live in the Pacific Northwest.

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Bubye Old T-Shirt

I love looking for new ideas on upcycling/recycling old things into new, useful ones. Some of my precious “free time,” such as there is of it, is spent looking around the internet at all you ever creative people and the ideas you’ve come up with to keep the landfills from filling up too quickly. I was looking at a website, this morning, called “Blue Velvet Chair.” She, like me, likes to try the various things she sees and report back to whomever wants to listen on how the projects turned out for her and what, if anything, she did to improvise and make it her own. I, particularly, liked the blog she did on the upcycled t-shirt scarves. Maybe you’ve seen this (or these) before, but I hadn’t. So, of course, I had to try one on my own…

Scarf “before”

Scarf “after”

With permission (you’ll see how important this is when Fred gets home and doesn’t remember giving me this shirt to play with…), I recycled one of his old, ratty t-shirts into, what I think is, a very snazzy scarf. 

I’ve included the “before” and “after” pictures here — I know I could’ve waited until then end to do a “grand reveal” but it’s always easier to see where you’re going when you know what it looks like when you get there…or something like that.     

The ruffles are made from circles of fabric. The original instructions called for using a 9″ paper plate as a template. We don’t use paper plates (or paper napkins, or paper towels. No “throw aways” in this house), so I used a cereal box, that was in the recycle bin, to make a pattern.

The minimum number of circles I’d recommend for this is five (5), as I did here, but you can do as many as you want. Just remember, the more fabric you use, the bulkier the scarf will be. Rather than cut open the t-shirt, I just laid it out, to cut my circles 2 at a time (I get bored with trivial details like cutting, which is why you don’t see any quilts here…) but you can do this however works best for you. I’d also recommend using a good pair of fabric scissors. Otherwise you maybe hacking away for a while. (Oh, and it really is the same shirt all the way through even though the fabric in half the photos looks purple…).

Starting at the edge of the fabric, cut into it, at an angle, to about 1″ and continue around, keeping about 1″ from the edge until you get to the middle. Repeat this with all the circles. Now you have ‘strips’ of fabric. 

Taking one end in one hand and the other end in the other hand, gently pull. This will cause the fabric to stretch and give you more of a ruffled look. 

To finish the scarf, gather all the pieces together, finding the middle of each one. At the middle point, take a (appx.) 6″ long by 1/2″ wide piece of leftover fabric and tie it around all of the strips, knotting it either once or twice, to secure it. You can leave it with the ‘tails’ (as pictured here) or trim them off.

Another look for your finished scarf

Next time I make one, and I will, I think I’ll try it with larger circles. Either I’ll cut the strips wider to get bigger ruffles or cut them the same (1″ wide) to make the scarf longer…or, maybe, I’ll do a combination of both.  I’ll see when I get there…

And, just as I thought, when I showed my new scarf to Fred he said “I didn’t say you could have that one, did I?”  Mmhmm…

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Tofu Sushi (a.k.a. “Pinwheels of Death”)

We have two great sushi restaurants here in town but it’s not always convenient or economical so I’ve resorted to, once in a while, making it myself when the craving hits. I’m far from an expert and I don’t do anything fancy – it’s just a good, standard recipe using ingredients that I like (I think Fred would rather poke his eye out with a sharp stick than eat sushi so he gets hot dogs and potato salad for dinner. Ah, yes. All is well in his kingdom again, now that he knows he doesn’t have to eat…”the pinwheels of death.”  Have I mentioned he can be a little dramatic at times?).

I’ll give you the list of ingredients first and then we’ll dive into all the details…

RICE – I use sushi rice.  I also put a ‘sauce‘ on it consisting of rice vinegar (something I could drink straight from the bottle, given the chance), sugar, and salt. Recipe below.

BAKED TOFU – I make my own using fresh tofu, sliced about 1/3″ thick. I lay the sliced tofu in a pan (with sides) and pour soy sauce (I use “low sodium” – like it makes a difference?) over all of it and bake it about 30 minutes at 350F, flipping it once, halfway through the cook time. Once it’s cool enough to work with I cut it, lengthwise into strips, about 1/4″ thick. You can also buy it already marinated and ready to go. There are several different flavors available. If you choose the ‘packaged in water,’ make sure to drain it really well and use the “extra firm.”

CARROTS & AVOCADO I cut these into (appx.) 1/4″ strips as well (it should all make sense if you just keep reading. If you don’t, then you’re on your own…but, at least, look at the pictures, even though some are a bit blurry. Hey, it’s not easy trying to snap photos with fingers covered in sticky rice and avocado slime). Cucumber is also very good in this, I just don’t have any at the moment.  

Of course you can put into your sushi whatever you want.  This is just a combination that I like.

NORI – this is the seaweed wrapper for the outside. I get these at my local store in the Asian food section.

EXTRAS – Pickled Ginger and Wasabi Mustard to go on top and Soy Sauce to dip it in.

Okay. Off we go…

We’re going to make 2 sushi rolls with this recipe. Double or triple it, if you want, but I don’t recommend more than that at a time because, once the rice cools, it’s like glue and very difficult to work with.

<- Start the rice. Cook 1 cup of rice to 1-1/2 cups water (or as much water as the manufacturer recommends to go with 1 cup of rice) and cook per the package directions. As soon as this is going, start the sauce.

  • 4 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons White Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt

> Mix these together in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved. This may take a few minutes. When that’s done, set it aside and cut up your tofu and vegetables as instructed above. Set them aside.

<- When the rice is done, using a non-metal spoon, spoon it into a non-metal bowl (glass, wood, etc.). I’ve always been told never to use any metal when making the sushi rice. I don’t know if it’s a chemical reaction or just a wives tale, I just do what I’m told here (Fred would like to know how they do this as it doesn’t work this way for him…).

Slowly pour the sauce over the rice, folding it, not stirring it, as you go. The rice may seem a little loose but, remember, it’s still warm. When it starts to cool the starches will thicken up and it’ll come together.

-> I use a piece of plastic wrap between the seaweed wrapper and the bamboo sushi mat (note: if you have no sushi mat I’ve seen people, very successfully, use  thin, firm magazines instead). I use the plastic wrap for two reasons: 1). It keeps the sushi mat clean (you can even tape the plastic to the back of the sushi mat if you find it easier to work with) and 2). I like cold sushi so I use the plastic to wrap the roll in to refrigerate it for a couple of hours). Of course, the plastic wrap is not necessary if you’re going to eat it right away and/or don’t mind cleaning the mat. 

 <- There are two sides to the seaweed wrapper. A shiny side and a not so shiny side. Put the not so shiny side up because it will help ‘grab’ onto the rice better.

-> Spoon 1/2 of the rice onto the seaweed wrapper (remember, this is making 2 rolls). You’ll need to spread this out, evenly, either by hand, if you’re feeling adventurous (dip your fingers into a little water first – the rice is sticky), or use the back of the spoon you used to mix the rice and sauce with. Make sure to leave about 1″ at the top. This will be where you end the rolling and some rice usually gets pushed up as you go.  This will prevent it from squishing out.

<-  When the rice is evenly distributed, place the tofu and vegetable slices, about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom, lengthwise across the rice. This is where the center of the roll will be.

Next is the rolling itself. This is, probably, the most difficult part out of all of this — and it’s not that hard. It just takes a bit of practice. The sushi mat is designed as a “guide” to make sure the roll wraps evenly and as an “aid” to help you move all those little grains of rice at the same time. 

-> Pick up the side, closest to you (and you see, in the pictures, how the mat is laid out with the bamboo running horizontally? This is really important for this to work…but, if you do manage to, successfully, do it the other way, I’m terribly impressed…send photos). You want to gently fold the end over the tofu/veggies, jelly roll style, and tuck it down under them, keeping the mat (and plastic, if you use it) out of the way.

<- Here’s a peek at what it looks like when it gets going. You can see how the edge is tucking down and under, creating a natural direction for it to go. 

 -> Then, once you get to the end, with the mat around the roll you want to apply a little pressure. Not so much that anything shoots out the sides, just enough to compact it all to keep it in place when you’re cutting it. (You’ll note my carrots and tofu were a bit longer than the roll — I just poked them back in before I wrapped the roll in plastic. Worked fine).

<- If you’re using the plastic to store it in the refrigerator, just twist the ends and tuck them under. Now you’re ready to do the next one. Just follow the directions as above.  

-> When you’re ready to cut them, take one of the rolls, and using a sharp knife, cut it in half. Then cut the halves in half.  And then cut the quarters in half.  Then do the other roll the same way. You will end up with 16 even, beautiful pieces of sushi (8 per roll), each one being a delicious, large bite. I like mine topped with a bit of Wasabi mustard and pickled ginger, then dipped in a tiny bit of soy sauce.  ~Tanoshimu!~

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Upcycling a chair…again.

About 6 years ago, Fred and I took a simple day class on “making a topiary chair” at our local garden center.  I’d picked up (or “stole” according to the woman I was haggling with at the garage sale) 3 metal scroll chairs for $15, one of which we used for this class project.  I think it turned out quite well and added a little interest to our back yard. 

However, after sitting outside for a few seasons, being subjected to the weather, chomped at by the deer, gnawed on by squirrels, and pecked at by the birds for nesting material, it was time to either redo it or make something new.  I decided on “new.”  Not because I didn’t like the way it looked as a topiary chair, I just wanted to try something different…because I could.

After poking around a few days, I found an idea that I really liked.  The inspiration for it came from a post on a website, that I’m really starting to fall in love with, called ‘recycleart’ where things are reused, repurposed, recycled —  right up my alley.  It was a vintage/used wooden chair that they wove a new seat onto.  Their piece was done with mens ties but, since I don’t have any mens ties here, besides the one that Fred owns (and I do mean “one”), and I’m not going out and buy any for this, I’m going to use scrap fabric that I already have (everyone has scrap fabric, don’t they? Bit and pieces from leftover projects? Ugly husband clothes that you’re dying to get rid of while he’s at work?) and ‘weave a seat’ with that.

But, first, I had to clean up the chair.  So, I donned a pair of gloves (always use gloves – I have scars to prove this is a good idea), got the clippers, and clipped all the wire that was holding on the moss and chicken wire.  Once I got all that cleaned off, I brushed off the loose schmeg, and washed down the chair with the hose.  When it was dry, I gave it two coats of black spray paint (you can use brush-on paint instead of aerosol or something made for metal. This is just what I had). 

Side note; it wasn’t my intention to try to make this look ‘new’ again (I really do like the vintage/chippy/rusty look). I’m just trying to extend the life of the chair for a while longer. So, if “new” is the look you’re after you may have to strip and sand and do all that messy stuff, too.

This is, obviously, not an exact science, nor is it the only way to do this. And, I’m sure, the pictures will make it easier to understand what I’m saying if I don’t quiet make sense (I do this for Fred, too…he loves it when I draw pictures to help explain things like how the rats drank all the Gatorade or that wearing shoes indoors makes me fall down). So, here goes…I measured the width and length of the chair seat so that I’d know how long to cut my fabric strips – mine happened to be 10″ x 14″ (now referred to as the “short side” and the “long side,” respectively).

And, while the paint was drying, I got to cutting.  I’m chopping up an old paint shirt, parts of a flannel sheet, and a piece of red cotton scrap from a Halloween project (when I recycle, I recycle).  I cut 20 – 2″ wide strips from the shirt and red fabric (10 of each), each at least 28″ long  (double the long side measurement, at minimum – you can always cut off extra but it’s kind of difficult to make it longer…).

Then I cut 10 – 2″ wide, 30″ long strips from the flannel sheet (and, I did end up using some of the flannel sheeting the short way to fill in gaps between the shirt and red fabric but, after it was finished, I think it would’ve been fine without it, too).

When the short side was filled, I tied one of the flannel pieces to the seat frame, on the long side, knotting it from underneath, and started weaving (do you remember making potholders on the metal looms as a kid? This is what I felt like when I was doing this. Mine always turned out lopsided and ugly but they were always great fun to do), alternating over, under, over, under.  Instead of tying it off when I got to the other side, I just wrapped it around the seat frame and started back the opposite direction.  When I got to about 3″ from the end of the piece of flannel fabric I was working with, I tied the next piece of fabric on (“square knot”; right over left, left over right) and kept going. When I got to the end of the weaving, when the seat was all ‘full,’ I tied the end to the seat frame, with the knot underneath, and trimmed the excess. I left any knots, that ended up on top (visible on the seat top), where they were and just tucked the ends down through the weave and cut them short from the bottom.

Once the weaving was done, I cut the ends at various lengths (though you could cut them all the same, or use pinking shears, or fray them, or whatever your little heart desires. Personally, I like the messy, uneven look here), and trimmed some of the longer strings (and left some, too…I think it gives the chair extra character).

And there you have my version of an upcycled, recycled, woven seat chair. I’m not sure, yet, what I’m going to have sitting on it. Probably a basket of flowers. But it is good to see that chair, sitting pretty, under the apple tree again.

So, I’m looking for something that the deer won’t eat and the squirrels won’t munch on…any suggestions?

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Move over Suzie Homemaker

Usually, when I wake up feeling “domestic,” I roll over and go back to sleep until the feeling goes away. Okay, so, I may be exaggerating a bit – I never get to go back to sleep with 3 dogs and a Fred.  But, there are a couple of things in this department that I actually enjoy doing, though, like cooking (well, most of the time, anyway) and trying new recipes.

Since I’m not one of those people who dashes out to the grocery store every time I run out of something (unless it’s things we just can’t do without, like meds, toilet paper, or ice-cream), I make due with what we have until I can get there. And I see, this morning, that we’re running low on bread so making lunch rolls is in order.

My favorite recipe was posted by a friend of mine on Facebook.  She started a ‘group’ about cooking.  Mostly shared recipes but also tips, articles, where to find ingredients, etc. – anything anyone would like to share about cooking.  I tried this recipe, about a year ago, and was totally hooked. I make a big batch, about once a month, and freeze what we don’t eat right away (at least, this is the theory.  We’ve not had any make it that far…).

What I find so unique about this recipe is that it starts in the bread maker.  Easy peasy, right?  (This is, probably, one of the biggest reasons I like it so much.  Well, that and they’re absolutely deelish).

Bread Maker Rolls

Ingredients

– 1-1/4 cups milk, *slightly warmed. You can use regular milk for this but I, usually, use powdered and I’ve not tried it with anything but cows milk.

*”slightly warmed” – hot to the touch but not so hot you couldn’t stick your hand in there without it hurting/scalding.  The whole idea is not to kill the yeast by overheating it.  If it doesn’t feel hot enough, you can microwave it, in 10-15 second increments, until it’s warm enough.

Thawing egg

– 1 beaten egg.  When I don’t have fresh eggs I just pull some out of the freezer…(didn’t know you could freeze eggs, did you?  Crack an egg into a bowl, beat it, pour it into a (non-stick sprayed) muffin tin, and repeat until you’ve used all your eggs, using one egg per muffin cup.  Freeze them until they’re hard, pop them out – you may need to dip the bottom of them pan in warm water to do this – stick them into a freezer bag (I double bag to prevent freezer burn) and voila!  You’ll always have “fresh’ eggs on hand).

– 2 tablespoons butter.  If you’re not using soft, room temperature butter, you can always soften it by cutting it into small pieces and adding to the warm milk, letting it sit for a minute or two.

Scant 1/4 cup sugar

– 1/4 cup white sugar.  I use just under 1/4 cup as neither Fred nor I like overly sweet bread.

– 3/4 teaspoon salt. Regular table salt is fine.

King Arthur bread flour

– 3-3/4 cups bread flour.  Use bread flour not ‘all purpose.’  I can’t stress this enough. It really does make a difference (I ‘cheated’ once and used regular flour — they didn’t come out the same, at all.  The dough was heavy and hard to work with).

Active dry yeast

– 1-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast.  I buy the jar of yeast because it’s more economical as I bake quite often. The packets of yeast contain 2-1/4 tsp. so you’d want to use 1 tsp. less for this recipe.

 DIRECTIONS

It’s very important to add the ingredients in the order in which they’re listed here (ie; wet/dry/yeast on top). If you don’t, and I speak from experience, you will end up with a globby mess).

Bread maker on “dough” setting

Wet, dry, yeast

1. Add all the ingredients, as listed, to the pan in the bread maker.

2. Select “dough” setting and wait until it’s finished

3. When the cycle is complete, turn the dough out onto a floured surface

Dough on a floured surface

(Below are the rest of the directions as stated in the original recipe.  However, this isn’t what I do for the next 2 steps).

4. Cut the dough in half and roll each out into a 1″ circle 

5. Cut each half into 3-1/2 rounds with an inverted glass as a cutter 

(What I do is roll each half of the dough into rectangles and cut them into squares with a knife.  They end up, just about, sliced bread size and are perfect for lunches). 

6. Place on a greased baking sheet, at least an inch apart, and brush with melted butter (butter is optional) 

7. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Bake at 350F for 9 minutes*

*NOTE: Oven temperatures vary so check them after 9 minutes to see if they’re done (slightly browned on the top, hollow sound when lightly tapped).  

(Fred thinks it’s crazy that it makes 11 rolls…should I tell him it actually makes 12?   Naw…)

 

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Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

It’s not like I’m trying to do “La salle de bains ballethere, toes on pointe, pirouette into a petit jete’ (on tiptoes, spinning into a little jump) followed by a grande plie’ (deep bend, thighs horizontal, heels release from the floor) on the toilet seat. I would just like to not fall off when I have to reach for something…

I felt for the toilet paper holder, grabbed the end of the roll, and pulled…a whole 1-1/2 squares were left.  Unless you pee no more than 3 drops at a time, have an alternative source (I’m thinking Kleenex, not sleeves or fluffy dogs), or you’re a guy, you’re going to need more. Four squares, minimum, is what’s required for this particular ‘action’ – and it just goes up from there.

Living in a small house, storing things comes with a price. The washer and dryer are in the kitchen, my “art studio” is in the living room, and the toilet paper rolls are kept behind the laundry basket in the corner of the bathroom — about an arm’s length away from the toilet…plus 6 inches, give or take a half an inch.

When you run out of t.p., but don’t notice until it’s too late, this means either having to get up and risk dribbling or leaning way over from what I consider to be a precarious starting point. Since I already have an issue with people who dribble on public toilet seats and don’t bother cleaning up after themselves, I really don’t like dribbling. I feel I have no other choice but to be a leaner. 

However, had I realized that one of the toilet seat hinges was on its last legs I would’ve risked being known as a ‘dreaded dribbler.’  As soon as I was in “full lean,” t.p. at my fingertips, I heard a slight crack.  The seat shifted, slipped off the bowl and, not being able to put my leg out to stop myself (if you don’t understand this, try it the next time you’re sitting there…), over I went. The thud, alone, probably would’ve been enough to get the dogs interested but, I believe, it was she shriek that came with it that really piqued their curiosity. 

Of course nothing, besides my pride, was hurt as I laid on the floor…next to the toilet.  It was, after all, only a 14″ fall.

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