Friday, May 27, 2011

My manly man

Jacob and the mouflon  ram he shot with his bow last weekend. Yes, its head will end up on the wall with his other trophies.....

Cowboys and Cowgirls

A couple shots from home...

 Little sisters

Getting things ready...(my brother Josh (r) and "adopted" brother Greg (l)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Adventures in Smocking 2

My path towards better smocking became much, much easier this week. A lady from my church loaned me her pleating machine. Up until now I've been pleating everything by hand. That would take me hours, literally, to do one dress front to get it ready to embroider. My hands felt like they were about to fall off. :) Some of the pleats would be uneven and imperfect and it was difficult to make the embroidery look neat.
   All that is past me now.  With the pleater it only takes me about 10 minutes to do what normally take several hours. Below are some photos of projects I have going and some pictures of the amazing pleating machine.

 Newborn dress. Pleated by hand.
 Size 6 dress pleated by hand. Still in progress.

 The amazing, wonderful pleating machine, all threaded up and ready to go.

 Perfect pleats.
 All ready to smock.
 Finished :)
Close up detail of smocking.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Overnight Whole Wheat Bread/Rolls

This is one of the easiest bread recipes I've ever made. It isn't fast, but you can start it and forget it. It has a very nice sourdough taste without the work of keeping a starter. It can be shaped into loaves or rolls. You mix it up the night before and finish it the next morning. I've even started it early in the morning and finished it that evening for supper.  Hope you enjoy!

For the overnight dough:

2 cups lukewarm water
1 T honey
2 T yeast
3 cups whole wheat flour (my favorite is Golden 86 or Prairie Gold, or just a hard white wheat)
1 1/2 T salt

Dissolve honey in warm water and stir in yeast.
Place flour and salt in a large bowl and stir well. Add the yeast liquid and stir until well combined. (Don't knead the dough at this point.)
Cover and let rise at room temperature overnight.

Morning mixture to add to the dough:

2/3 cup lukewarm water
1 T honey
2 T yeast
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup butter

Dissolve honey in water. Stir in yeast, let stand til frothy. While yeast proofs, melt the butter.
Add three cups of flour, melted butter and yeast mixture to the overnight dough. Stir to mix well.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead til soft and smooth. Use as much of the additional half cup of flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking.

For loaves: Divide dough into two portions. Shape and place in 2 greased loaf pans or on a greased cookie sheet for free form rolls.
For Rolls: Divide dough into 18 pieces and shape into rolls. Place on floured cookie sheets, two inches apart, and let rise til doubled, approx 30 minutes.

While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until light brown and the loaves sound hollow. Note: when you remove the bread/rolls from the oven they may have a very strong yeasty aroma. This will fade when the bread cools.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Guiding Spirit

Here's another gem from my old hymnal. Hope you enjoy.

Come, gracious Spirit, heavenly Dove,
With light and comfort from above;
Be Thou our guardian, our Thou our Guide;
O'er every thought and step preside.

 To us the light of truth display,
And make us know and choose Thy way;
Plant holy fear in every heart,
That we from God will ne'er depart.

Lead us to holiness--the road
Which we must take to dwell with God;
Lead us to Christ--the living way;
Nor let us from His pastures stray.

Lead us to God--our final rest--
To be with Him for ever blest;
Lead us to Heaven, its bliss to share--
Fullness of joy forever there.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cooking with Cast Iron

I love cooking with my cast iron skillets. I use them almost everyday. They are very dear heirlooms from my great grandmother. I grew up using cast iron and was so happy to have my own for my new home.

Cast iron is, in my opinion and that of many others, one of the best options for cookware. Cast iron ware is heavy and heat is evenly held and distributed which makes it ideal for everything from frying to searing to baking.
 Food prepared in cast iron tastes better :) That's what I think and my family concurs. Cast iron also adds iron to foods, which is very beneficial in a time when many people--especially ladies-- are anemic or border-line anemic.
If seasoned correctly cast iron becomes non-stick, therefore replacing Teflon, which is wonderful if you are concerned health-wise about different types of cookware. I try to use only stainless steel and cast iron cookware, and avoid aluminum if possible.
  Cast iron is easy to find new in stores, but if you don't want to pay full price they are easily found at resale and antique shops and yard sales. New skillets and pans usually aren't the signature black color--they are grey and will turn black when seasoned and used a few times. I would recommend re-seasoning second-hand skillets bought at yard sales and resale shops, not just washing them.
 Below are some things my mom has taught me  about cast iron. I hope you find them helpful. Enjoy!

Care of Cast Iron:
  • Never, ever use a steel or rough scratcher on a seasoned skillet. It will remove the "season" an the skillet will no longer be non-stick and may cause it to rust. Treat it like you a non-stick skillet.
  • Never, ever put cast iron in the dishwasher. This will make it rust and it will be need to be re-seasoned.
  • Wash with mild soapy water and dry thoroughly. Wipe down inside of cookware lightly with oil and it's ready to use again.
Seasoning Cast Iron:
  • Wash with mild soapy water and dry thoroughly.
  • Coat entire surface with oil (I use vegetable oil), including outside and handles.
  • Place in a 250 degrees F oven for 2 hours. Let cool slightly and remove from oven. Wipe down with paper towels.
  • Wash with mild soapy water and it's ready to use.
   ( You can use this method to season a new skillet or to re-season an old one.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My front porch view

 My 2011 "garden" :) Miraculously my peppermint made a comeback and put out new growth. 

 It rained on Thursday, at long last after weeks of no rain. I celebrated by making a cup of hot tea and enjoying it on the front porch, listening to the rain on the bushes. I could close my eyes and almost imagine that I was back in the country, but then some city noise would break my reverie and I'd remember where I was.
 I love porches--I mean literally love them. No matter how many times I've redesigned my dream house, all of the plans and revisions have one thing in common: a huge front and back porch, or maybe one that wraps all the way around the house. They do so much to help a little house feel larger, and they are the best places to have coffee or tea (hot or iced) in the evening. I can't imagine what it would be like not to have a porch to escape to :)
 One of my favorite porches to visit belongs to a neighbor that lives across the highway from my parents. She and her husband were married for 61 years before he passed away and my some of my earliest memories are of visiting Dock and Mrs. Davey and drinking Koolaid on their back porch. It had a wooden floor and a porch swing at the south end, rocking chairs in the middle, and wicker chairs on the north end. There was always a breeze blowing through and combined with the shade from the massive live oak trees, it was the best place to sit if you were outside on hot days.
  Another great thing about porches is their functionally. What better place to have a crawfish boil, or shuck corn or shell peas?
Right now my front porch is only about 4x6.5 feet, but I love it and am thankful for it, and it will do until I get a bigger one. Til then, I'm quite content, but I'll  still dream :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back in the Swing of things

After being sick for nearly a week, I'm sitting on our couch surrounded by an impressive amount (or rather mountain) of laundry.  Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who helped me get it almost all washed so all I had to do today was fold and put away. Socks are NOT my favorite thing to do, but oh well, they are a part of life....

I've never been quite that ill away from Mama, but Jacob did an amazing job taking care of me, waiting on me hand and foot, making sure I had what I needed, and ignoring how crazy our apartment was getting. He's wonderful!

My poor geranium nearly passed on to glory while I was sick, and I think my peppermint plant is beyond hope. I've never really had much luck with potted plants anyway--I do better with plants that thrive on neglect. :)

Before I became sick I finished the little smocked dress. It is now available from my Etsy boutique.

And I just had to share this picture of my awesome husband :) working at the shop, building a headache rack for his truck.

It's so nice to be well again!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blog Party @ Bramblewood Fashion

1. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

2. What is the oldest item you own?
A set of books on the History of England from 1848

3. If you had to pick one hero, who would it be?
Elizabeth Elliot

4. If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead. Who would it be?
My husband :) my great grandmother Lizzie and my friend Missy

5. Which do you like better, Coke or Pepsi?
Coke, though I am really a Dr. Pepper girl

6. What would you rather have- chocolate or a cookie?

Right now, chocolate chip cookies.

7. What is your favorite season?


8. What's your favorite thing about Spring?
Gardens and new baby calves.

9. What's your favorite music?
Gospel, old country (Patsy Cline), black gospel, classical, opera.....I love it all.

10. What's your fashion/personal style?

Vintage, classic, feminine, with a touch of country thrown in. (I LOVE my cowgirl boots my husband bought for me on our honeymoon)