Thursday, May 29, 2008

We can make that....

I took my dear sister's advice about the fairy sleeves on my apron project, and went with this one. It was so much like the other apron that I decided that it would be easier to just add pockets to it, rather than try to change the straps on the other one. Granted, my uber-talented mother could have changed it in a jiffy, but if that much work isn't needed, why do it?

I was so blessed to be born into this family of mavericks!

My mother is a very accomplished seamstress, painter, and beader. She also makes the coolest sand casted candles I have ever seen in my life.

My dear sister, Mrs Fox can write, paint, and decorate like no other. She also makes the finest Derby hats I've ever seen (or worn).

My Aunt does great things with lampworking, bead design, and can sew pretty well herself.

My namesake, and grandma was also very good with the needle and thread. She made us ornaments each year for Christmas that I am still in awe of! Not to mention she was the most organized woman I have ever seen. (this lady cataloged her kitchen cabinets) Too bad those great organization skills didn't rub off on me...

I can never remember a time when we went somewhere with mom and saw some great crafty idea or item for sale that we wanted when she didn't say "we can make that!" My mother made wedding gowns for both my sister and I. Not to mention countless formal dresses for our proms and homecoming dances that were made, and modified a few times.
I will never forget my sister's painted couch, growing up our family had somehow inherited this god-awful yellow atrocity of a sofa, and when my sister moved out she was so lucky to get to take it with her....The next time I saw that thing, she had started covering every last inch of that giant ugly banana seat with acrylic paint in all kinds of patterns. Granted, when acrylic paint dries on fabric, it is about as soft as asphalt, but by god that was the coolest couch I have seen to this day. I wonder what happened to it?

I have to agree with Liz though that being raised in a clan of the most talented women does have some downsides. You settle for nothing less than the best quality in stitching. Shopping for art is nearly impossible. Buying jewelry doesn't make sense unless it's handmade, and you know who made it. Not to mention, gift giving, is the most time-consuming endeavor I have ever experienced. Nothing is ever good enough to give someone you know could make it better! I have spent countless hours mulling over what to give my sister and mother for birthdays and Christmas. I think the best Christmas we ever had was when we all decided that we were not allowed to buy our gifts, but they all had to be something we made. Even Mr Fox joined in. He made me the coolest cigar box purse I've seen yet! and yes, I still have it, tucked safely in my hope-chest with all my important keepsakes inside. I can only hope Monkey and I have at least one little girl that my family can corrupt. So long as I can keep mom from teaching her that a table is a chair and a chair is a table (but that's another story...)=

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I need an apron for all this cooking!

I have narrowed down my apron choices to three. I definitly wanted a pattern that was super retro. I was looking for something that reminded me of the old pictures of women happy in their kitchens cooking for their families. I think I will be using either pink and brown fabrics, or some sort of great chicken print, as my kitchen is decorated with chickens of every size and shape. I will only do chickens if i can find some cute pattern, since it will be something i intend on wearing often, and I want it to be something I am really happy with. I am absolutly in love with the whole pink and brown/ teal and brown combo right now also, so if there are no good chickens to be found I wont have any trouble finding my second chice. So, what is YOUR favorite pattern......

Number one....

I really like the sleeves and piping in this one, I am totally into the super cute ruffles. I wish it had the scalloped bottom like the second and third one though.

Number 2........ I like the piping on this one, the nice scaloped edge on the bottom, and the cute angled pockets, but I like the ruffled sleeves better on the first one.

Number 3...........

Tis one is quite different from the others except for the piping and ruffles, but I think it has a great quilted homespun kind of feel to it. I like the contrast of the fabrics against eachother, and the piping. I like that the neck band is quie thick also, I would be irritated at a thinner string trying to hold it up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Suzi strikes again!

Well it looks as though there was some sort of infectious bug on my mixer that has bitten me. After last night's adventure with the wheat bread I decided to try my hand at Banana nut bread, (sans the bananas at monkeys request). It was in my plan to make a chocolate cake, but I still feel a bit at his mercy, and I didn't think I was really up to the task of baking a cake after working all day, and then having to make icing and prep a layer cake. Not to mention I absolutely LOVE bananas, and it seemed a good follow up to the bread from last night. Plus I already had most of the ingredients. (always a winning factor)
So, I Suzi'd up and got to baking! This was by far a great deal easier than last nights adventure, and took nearly half as much time. But the lack in prep time definitely did not correlate to the end product.
I am quite proud of this loaf of bread,
it came out nearly perfect. I say nearly because I think despite adding about 20 minutes to the cook time it still is a bit soft in the middle. That was probably because I decided to try out my grandmothers old flour sifter, and in turn probably did not add as much flour as one usually would. I do not really mind the soft center, as I have always preferred a soft middle to my baked goods. I was never one to like a "crispy" cookie, I always wanted the ones that were gooey and barely cooked in the middle. One thing I must point out though, is that this recipe makes a HEAVY bread. Not heavy in the taste sense, but this baby weighs a TON!
I also have to agree with my sister, in that an apron would make baking a much neater experience. I now have two pairs of pants and shirts that are now coated in flour, and other baking ingredients. Maybe this weekend I will get busy and make myself one. I must find a great retro styled pattern tho......

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Christening

I decided to let monkey choose what my first baked good to come of the new mixer was. Much to my amazement he was set on cracked wheat bread. My mind was spinning all day... Cracked wheat bread? Why on earth would a man who only eats white wonder bread decide that he wants to make me, who has never made a loaf of bread in my life, bake him cracked wheat bread?! Has he gone nutty?!

I set out to find a recipe, and that by far was the easy part. The next step was trying to figure out how to procure cracked wheat. Not terribly hard, but it still involved going a bit out of my way home from work to stop at a whole foods market. The nearest, and most convenient being the Granary. I gathered my cracked wheat, and decided that if I was there I had might as well get organic flour and do the whole thing the natural way. I walked out quite excited at that point to be making my first loaf of bread.......

I followed the recipe precisely, adding all the ingredients as directed, started up my great new toy, and waited for dough to happen. Dough did not happen.....the stickiest, gooiest, mess i have ever dealt with happened. I should have gotten pictures, but I was so concerned that I had ruined my precious creation, that photos were the furthest thing from my mind. So what did I do? I called the only person in the world who can fix anything,............MOMMY!!!!!! Mom pretty much told me what I already knew, "add a little flour, be patient and don't panic, it's only bread you know." So I did add little flour (OK maybe a lot of flour) and a little patience and faith in my new mixer, and I had, well, a sticky gooey mess. ARGH! I then decided that I was too far into this to give up, at which point I pulled out the trusty olive oil (thanks to Mrs fox's faith in the substance) and I slathered up my hands and my rising bowl and POOF! no more icky sticky.

My next fear, is this stuff really going to rise? If it was that sticky and messy did I fudge the recipe somehow? So I waited, and resisted the insatiable urge to peek under the towel for an entire hour. The timer going off on that oven caused me to erupt from the couch and bolt into the kitchen with such speed the dogs went haywire. Then fear took over, I did not want to lift that towel and find a flat pile of goo. Please Please don't let there be flat bread goo in there!!!! But, alas! There was not goo! There was dough! Real dough, risen and everything. By now my confidence was up, and I knew we were in the home stretch. Only another 40 minutes of rising and 30 minutes of baking, and I would have bread! 70 looonnnnnggg minutes later, I had this.....

Let me tell you, this was probably the most time consuming item I have ever decided to make, but holy crap was it worth it. I cannot remember when I have ever had bread that tasted so divine. The smell that was coming out of my oven was unbelievable! I don't think I have ever felt more at home in the 3 years we have lived at this house until now. There is just something about baking that makes you feel so at home. The two loaves have only been out of the oven for maybe an hour, and we are already down a half a loaf. one or the other of us keeps running in the kitchen to butter another piece of this divine creation of kitchenaid mixer mastery. At this rate I will be baking bread again by Thursday.

I have to say my thanks go out to my dearest sister Mrs Fox for teaching me that ANYTHING is possible with a bit of olive oil. My Mother for always knowing what to say, and lastly, my dear Grease monkey for deciding he wanted cracked wheat bread for the first trial run of the mixer. (though I am still at a loss as to how someone who won't eat honey wheat bread would want anything containing cracked wheat.) As I will be going to bed tonight with a happy tummy full of tasty warm fresh homemade bread.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Brand new shiny red...............

Oh my GOD it has been waaaay too long since I last posted! I am such a bad blogger! Life just got in the way, it was much easier to read Mrs. Fox's and Liz's blogs than to post in my own! I was however glad to get to visit my awesome sister, and spend 2 wonderful weeks with her in Arkansas. The weather was fantastic, and I was completely in awe by the homes, the architecture, and the absolutely splendid landscaping there. The flowers were all in bloom and everything was just amazing. I promise I will be a better blogger from now on!

In other news,
LOOK WHAT THE GREASE MONKEY GOT ME (the grease monkey being my darling hubby, who just happens to be a maverick, and master of ALL trades himself, his main profession being a great mechanic)

I have dreamed of having a fancy Kitchenaid Artisan mixer for longer than I can remember, but I never in my right mind actually thought I would get one.
These things usually run about $300.00 and I couldn't justify buying a mixer that cost that much. Granted, they are worth every penny, but I just have a thing about spending that kind of money on something. There are a lot of ways I could spend that much money, and I most certainly have bought other things before one of these babies!
Anyway, the monkey and I went to a local pawn shop, he was in the market for a handgun, and the first thing I saw when I walked through the door was this beauty. Of course, I immediately oooohhhh'd and marched myself right up to it to inspect it. It had to be the only item in the shop that didn't have a price, so I of course prodded hubby to inquire as to what the owner wanted for it.

"Excuse me sir, what do you want for this red mixer?"
" oh, $100.00 it is brand new you know. Those things sell in the stores for like $300.00"
My heart sank, I knew hubby had made that much the night before at his night job, but I never ever expected what he turned to me and said next.....
"Is that what you want?"
I had to stop and pick my jaw up off the floor at that moment... "um yes (sheepishly)"
"are you sure?"
"yes very sure, are YOU sure?"
"If you really want it then yes"

Then, much to my amazement he offers the owner $90.00!! and the guy says "yea sure! I'm not going to bust you over 10 bucks, and I can see that fine fox of yours really wants it"

Now mind you yes I did shudder a bit at this complete stranger calling me a fox, but I know the guy, and I know he really meant no harm, and is actually a family friend of a kid Hubby went to school with. So, much to my elation, I went home happy as a pig in poo with a fine, shiny, red piece of master kitchen craftsmanship. It rode the whole way home tightly in my grip, with me admiring it the whole way.
Monkey is just like that, just when I am most disappointed, he swoops in like a knight on a white horse, and delivers flawlessly. Man I love him!

Now the dilemma is what to christen it with! I have lots of fantastic recipes that I got when my grandmom passed, but I haven't a clue as to what to try. It has to be something extra special, and baked just for hubby. I guess I should let him pick out something.

Funny thing about that mixer, it seemed to induce some kind of cleaning frenzy! First, the kitchen had to be cleaned so that it could take a place of promenence on my counter, why that invlolved completly emptying out the cubbords,
and doing a major overhaul. Yes, it did need to be done, and it was TERRIBLY satisfying to have the kitchen sparkling inside and out.

Then, for some reason it prompted me to continue into the bathroom for a marathon scrubbing session involving me, a sponge, the floor and my hands and knees! And it didn't stop there!

I also decided that the car had been filthy for far too long and it too needed a good scrubbing! That means it will rain tommorow, but at least the car will look good for one day.

Monkey should buy me stuff like that more often, it seems to bring out the home-maker in me big time!

Hope you all have a fine week!