Wednesday, October 30, 2013

In the Kitchen / At the Gym

After I typed the tile to this post,
I realized it sounded very much like a cause and effect relationship:
Because I'm in the kitchen, I need to visit the gym.
Though that is most likey very true,
I really mean for the title to remind me someday of the places I seem to frequent the most.
I'm busy cooking for my family of four- and Harbor has finished two weeks of gymnastics!
Henry still seems to snooze anywhere, anytime.
In the beginning, I found myself rushing to move him to his crib.
Now, I follow the advice of grandmas everywhere.
Never wake a sleeping baby!
: )
I've been experimenting with a few new recipes these last two weeks.
One was a sweet chicken teriyaki.
 While it was really tasty, I don't feel like it is perfect, so I'll hold off on sharing the recipe for now.
Any chicken teriyaki fans out there?

I served it with our favorite Oriental Salad
{listed under the Recipe Tab at the top}

Harbor just cannot wait without a little taste.
He is a kid who loves loves cabbage!

I'll perfect it and share soon!
: )

I've made several batches of these little omelet muffins.
Really yummy for breakfast or a snack!

And they freeze and defrost well, also.

These two little boys.
I just love 'em.
I can't fathom a girl, what it would be like to parent a daughter.
My life is all about bugs, castles, dragons, and Lego cities.

And here is a funny for you!
We took our Christmas card pictures a few weekends back.
I tied balloons to the tripod to give the kids some direction and a place to look.
We have taken all of our pictures the last 2 1/2 years due to living 1,000 miles from home
and not having family to help.

It was a crazy windy day.

Beautiful family, aren't we?
 many turned out beautifully and I have already printed them and started my Christmas cards!

Harbor currently is working on balance beam.
I love that his classes are not just jumping around type classes,
though, there isn't anything wrong with that.
Harbor has just really enjoyed focusing on a few skill sets and growing in confidence.

And lastly!
We are almost all checked off!

I wasn't sure how my family would like the "Fall Checklist"
but Harbor recently gave me some ideas for a "Winter" checklist.
I'm glad he is enjoying it!
Being intentional is easy if you have a list to force you out and about!
So, tell, me...
How are you doing?
: )
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Our Favorite {homemade} Pizza Dough: A Recipe

Hello, friends!
I hope you had an excellent weekend.
I'm recovering from a surprise trip David planned for the kids and me.
It involved hiking at 9,000 feet, an alpine lake nestled in Aspen trees, and lots of snow.
Pictures to follow!
All of that effort always makes me want comfort food- and simple food, at that!
So, I thought I'd share our very favorite pizza dough recipe.
I've tried lots of dough recipes over the years,
but this one makes my husband compliment my culinary skills.
Which means obviously, it's the winner.
: )
Start with:
2 1/2-3 cups all purpose flour
1 package of dry active yeast {NOT rapid rise yeast}
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water {120 degrees}
2 tablespoons olive oil
{I also use a thermometer- a must have in bread!}
This is the temperature gauge I use.
I bought it at the grocery store for about $12.00
It might seem expensive, but I was wasting that much in flour and yeast a month making rocks for dinner rolls until I discovered I did really require it.

In a large mixing bowl, toss in 1 1/4 cups of flour, the yeast, and the salt.

Next, run your tap water until hot and fill a one cup measuring container.
It has to be the right temperature.
Too cold? The yeast won't activate.
Too hot?  The yeast dies.
I like to get my water at exactly 115-120 degrees.

Toss the water and oil into your dry ingredient bowl.

I use my mixer, but if you don't have one, no worries. 
Use a hand held or a wooden spoon.
I first use my paddle to mix- and then switch to my bread hook.

After you've mixed the dough well for about three minutes,
add the remaining flour.
{I switch to my bread hook at this point}

Knead on high (6-8 minutes or so) until the bread pulls away from the bowl cleanly.

It will look like this:

Cover in a draft free place and let rest for 15 minutes.

When I cover, I tuck my towel completely around the dough.
I don't like air sitting under the top whatsoever.

You know it is done when it has doubled in bulk.

Divide the dough into two equal parts.
Create two pan pizzas by using your hands to roll and stretch the dough.
Lightly grease metal pans- no need to grease stones.

Build up the sides.

And bake about 10 minutes in a 425 degree oven.

Meanwhile, assemble toppings.

Pull your pizzas out of the oven and spread sauce on the hot semi-baked dough.

Put finished pizzas back in the oven and cook for 10 more minutes, or until toppings bubble.

This crust is perfect!
Crunchy on the outsides and rich and chewy on the inside.

And the final test?

It's a winner!
: )

Perfect for those recovering from mountain hikes and Sunday afternoon football!
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Homemade Baby Gate {A Tutorial}

Hello, friends!
Dropping in to share our latest DIY project with you:
A homemade fabric baby gate for our lower level staircase.
Before I go further, I want to throw out a disclaimer:
this fabric baby gate is great for lower level stairs to keep babies from crawling up,
or for hallways when you want to keep babies from entering other areas of the house.
Please do not use this fabric gate for upper level stairs.
Babies who lean back on these can possibly slip under the fabric and topple down the stairs.
This pattern we have created is used for deterring babies from crawling up.
And it is fantastic!
And cute! And easy for grownups and older kids to unlatch.
: )
First off, here is what you need to have on hand:
*Two yards of fabric
*Non-Roll elastic
*A package of Western Heavy Duty Snaps
{we bought ours at Jo Anne's Fabrics}
*A sewing machine and thread
*A drill
*4 screws {1 inch long #8}
*A heavy duty craft punch {or a sharp pointed object!}

Start by giving your fabric a good iron.
It will look much better once hanging to iron it now.

Fold down the sides and stitch a seam on all four sides.

We kept it simple by using the width of the sewing machine foot as a guide.

After you have all four sides sewn down, fold the top down again, but this time, make sure it is a big enough pocket to allow for your elastic to slide through later.

{If you have a "husband/engineer/creative force to be reckoned with" like I do, then you will understand (and ignore!) the chevron headband and mad sewing skills.}

Once you have pockets on both top and bottom of your gate,
use your fingers to thread your elastic through.

Stretch your elastic to the length you will need it when you attach it to your walls.
Figure out where the elastic {stretched to its full amount!} needs to stop.
Hold it with your finger and stitch it into your pocket only on the ends.
In other words, where the elastic sticks out of your pocket, stitch a small vertical stitch to hold the elastic to the fabric.

After the elastic has been sewn into the fabric at the ends,
you will want to measure the elastic for your snaps.
We measured about two inches of elastic and marked it with a pencil.
We then folded the elastic over and marked it again with a pencil
so that we had a one inch doubled-over strip of elastic.

We used a heavy duty craft punch to then punch a small hole in the elastic.
If you don't have a punch, get some help from a family member and use something sharp to push through the elastic to form a small hole.

After punching a small hole near to the end of the doubled-over elastic, we put the snap on.

You will repeat this with the ends of the elastic for both top and bottom panels.
Measure where you want your gate to go so you can apply your snaps.
{this is why pulling your elastic before you sewed the sides in is important- to guarantee a good fit!}

And apply the last half of the snap to the wall.
To do this, drill a small hole in the wall and use your screws to drill the snap right on.

Because we have a wall on one side and a stair railing on the other,
we also added a snap to the stair banister.

Attach your gate to your snaps.
{Are you getting excited yet?!}
: )

Mark for both the top and bottom of the panels and repeat until all four snaps are up!

And there you have it!
We have a busy, active nine month old-
and visually, just seeing this gate deters him from climbing the stairs.
But, because it is pulled tight at bottom and top, he can't push his was under either.
{Side note:
it is October and the mice going up our stairs are for Fall. 
 Just in case you were wondering. Haha!}

The snaps are heavy-duty enough to hold up to a standing or cruising baby pushing and pulling,
but not too hard that we can't unsnap them to easily go up the stairs.

Cute, stylish, and functional!

Let me know if you make one!

Happy sewing!
: )
{I'll add this post to the "Tutorial" tab on our homepage so you can find it quickly!}
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