Friday, September 30, 2011

It's Fall and that means B-A-K-I-N-G!

Yes, it's finally cool enough to bake nearly every day now!! And this year, I really seem to be wanting to improve my baking skill set. (and enlarge my waistline in the process. or at least someone's waistline lol)  Not that I haven't braved the 100º weather and did it anyway, it'll just be a lot more fun now. LOL   
Next week, I will be perfecting my caramel apple pumpkin cheesecake recipe. Tutorial to follow said perfecting.

We all have kitchen gadgets. We all have a couple we just reach for automatically. Well, I do anyway.
Here's a few of the things my kitchen would feel nekkid without.

My Texasware mixing bowls. How did they come to be? Funny story. 
When my daughter was little, she loved Rachel Ray. She wanted a Rachel Ray bowl. Sooooo, good mommy that I am, I went on the hunt. I found several that looked a lot like hers and placed a bid or two. (or 20) I kept losing and losing and one day, I place a whole bunch, hoping I would win just one, measly bowl. Wwwweeellllllll, I won 6 bowls. Holy moly shoot the pony! I won 2 of each size. 
Now the really funny part.....she doesn't even care about the bowls. I know, right!
However, I fell in love with them and use them for storing my fruit and for hand mixing.

My pie pan. I have some metal and glass but this deep dish one is my favorite.

My ceramic loaf pan. King Arthur Flour calls it a tea cake pan. Whatever it's called, it makes a much more even sized loaf and you get a lot more slices out of the same amount of batter. 
I might as well chuck the metal ones. LOL

My KAF measuring tools. Odd spoon sizes and odd cup sizes included. 
And my good ol' biscuit cutters.

'Nuff said. She just turned 20 this month.

I just can't seem to make good biscuits or cornbread without an iron skillet. Weird, huh?

I love this. Probably just for the name: beaker. LOL 
Mine is looking pretty sad and I may just have to ask santa for a new, pretty one.

I have more than one of these. They stand alone, stick on a fridge or go around your neck....
It's a must for me.  And loud........

I have tons more stuff, but these are a few things that that add a little extra joy to the baking process. 
Not to mention far too many cookbooks. :-)

What little kitchen gadgets make you happy?


by the end of winter, my pie crust WILL look as good as this. I love the kind you just roll  out, but I want to master making it myself!! 

Happy cooking!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Mighty Morphin Room Cleaning

As you know, I've been cleaning out the sewing closet and getting the spare room ready for the mil visit.   OH, the things you come across!!

That's right!! Thee original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers!!
Can you name all of them? I can....and that scares me juuuuuusssttttt a little bit! LOL
From Yellow to black:

Trini, Billy, Jason, Tommy, Kimberly and Zack

 Look at my little man being all mighty and such.
 He was 3 1/2.

Good Lord, who dressed me that day? Can my waist possibly get any higher? 
Thanks genetics...a whole bunch....not!!

I wonder what else I'll find as I sort through little boxes and baskets of stuff. 
Stay tuned.........

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What's in your backyard?

Ahhhh, another visiting family member has ''left the building" (2 down, 1 to go) and I can get back to something a little closer to a routine. But only for short time, another family member will be arriving for an 8 day stay at our humble, little casa. Oy on all the cleaning a rearranging of my art (okay, sewing stuff). Seems the hubs would like it if we dined in the dining room...who knew? 

On to the back yard. Some big changes came to and are coming to my giant hill of a yard.

Change 1)  tThe hubs built a new picnic table. It looks just like the old picnic table but with separate benches. He built it so dang fast I didn't get a chance to tell him I wanted something completely different. LOL  It's lovely, just the same.

My man at work and the finished product.

 He even measured the benches so that the table is the right height and everything. No more trying to eat with the table poking people in the collar bone! woo and hooo! AANNDDD I can pick up the benches and sweep and the table doesn't weigh 8 million pounds like the last one!!!

More changes on the way. It seems P, G and E has once again decided they don't like ginormous pine trees. We lost one to the chain saw two years ago and now they want the other two.

This is a stone pine and it's soooooo tall I can't even get it all in the shot. 
I hate to say it, but I will not miss the trees. 
This one needs a severe pruning that is very pricey and the pine needles.......oh hon-ny...
every freakin' where!

This one, got a great pruning two years ago and we cleared up some beetle thing and now that it is starting to look all healthy and pretty, it's going bye-bye too. Dang wires!!

At least some things will remain....

The kids' play house the hubs built almost 14 years ago. It has shake roof and a copper ridge cap. 
It had a better roof than the house for years. LOL

My ferns. Although, they need to be repotted pretty soon. The wood is starting to rot after all these years.
We have two of them.

What kind of changes is fall (or the power company) bringing to your back yard?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

This just in - taste test has a clear winner!

Last night I was playing around with some cheesecake recipes to make a caramel apple pumpkin cheesecake with a ginger snap crust.  I think I invented a winner. 
First I made a tangy pumpkin cheesecake with a buttery ginger snap crust.

The toppings:
     1) apple and caramel
     2) apple, caramel and streusel
     3) apple, cinnamon and caramel
     4) apple, cinnamon, streusel and caramel

The clear winner was number 4. They liked them all, but the caramel sauce over the streusel was prettier and everyone preferred cinnamon to no cinnamon. The caramel over just the cheesecake and apples was far too moist and lost its pretty golden color...still tasty, but not pretty.
Cupcake size was also a good choice. No cutting!!!

Now, to make them again and write down everything I did. lol

Flavors from left to right:
apple/caramel -- apple/caramel/ streusel -- apple-cinnamon/caramel -- apple-cinnamon/streusel/caramel

Changes for the next go 'round:
   a little thinner crust
   a more gooey caramel sauce applied just before serving
   smaller apple chunks - just a touch since the cooking time was only 30 minutes
   one more egg in the filling to firm it up a bit more since I added quite a bit of pumpkin

I will post the recipe when I've got it perfected.

Happy fall flavors!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Closet progress......Already? I know, right!

I just sucked it up and did the big sorting today. I was dust covered and NO spider bites!!!
I can now rest easy until after the mil visit and then start doing the detailed sorting. 
I still can't believe the transformation!!!!

        The left side before                                                             The left side after

         The right side before                                                                    The right side after

 1 Large bag of garbage and a few boxes of donations

4 Bags of fabric and notions that will be donated to my daughter's school's home ec department.
Some fashion fabric yardage, but mostly quilt fabrics for their charity projects.

 I still can't believe it was all in that small closet!! In October, I can start the process of parting with stuff I like and stuff that is in boxes on the upper shelves. Parting with patterns will be hard, but I can do it!!!
Maybe I should do this to my bedroom closet......a January project for sure!!!
I may just get to sew tomorrow after all!!

Project Du Jour (month long sojourn that just might kill me)

Yep, I've been putting this off FAR too long and the time has come to get to gettin. The magic clown car sewing closet needs to be tamed. So named because no matter how much you pull out, stuff just keeps coming. LOL Thanks for the name Denise.

Starting today, I will be packing up stuff to be sorted, restored, trashed or donated by All Hallow's Eve. Yep.........fresh start and only stuff I use and love and in the process, maybe get my sewing room back instead of a guest room full of a giant bed. Maybe, just maybe.......

The dining room. My current sewing table needs to be an eating area since the mil is coming for a visit and the breakfast area only has room for three people.
 The left side of the closet. 'Nuff said.

The right side of the closet. Also 'nuff said.

The shelves in the same room as the closet. Definitely needs a thorough sorting. Where can I put my large quilting hoop? Hmmmmmmm

I will post progress as it happens. Feel free to virtually kick my booty into gear if you see me slackin'!

I may find some real goodies in there, so watch for a giveaway or two!!

(holding my breath) Here I gooooooooo............

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sewing something for yourself

This is not me, but some brave woman whose pic is on the web. You go girl!!! I don't look a lot different though.... *sigh*                                                                                 Question for all you seamsters out there: How do you sew for yourself and not feel a touch guilty?
No, that's not really quite the right question. 
I WANT to sew for myself, but it rarely happens. Why is that?
Why do I not make that cute dress I want? I have a gazillion patterns, I know how to do basic pattern alterations, I know what will look okay on me and what won't......why do I avoid it?
I know I need to have my dress form look like me - Is that it? Do I need a *fit assistant*?
For all of you that regularly make your own every day wear, what is your motivation? 
I have lofty ideas, but it's so much easier to make a quilt top or kid clothes or a stuffy.
I have made a few pieces for myself - costumes mostly- but even those get made for someone other than me 95% of the time.
I want to change! 
What am I afraid of? Spending a bunch of time and money and not liking it? 
My shape? My color choices? ( admittedly, I have a penchant for the absurd novelty print)
I need some kick-butt advice.........and accountability partners!
Let's get me sewing for ME!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Curtains d-o-n-e

Boring though they may be, they were necessary. That part of the house faces dead west, and hooonnnn-nnneeeeyyyyyy, it gets hot and bright from about 2pm on. We will be updating the kitchen soon so I didn't want to get anything fun until we decide on paint and countertops and such.
Taa-daaaaa, my boring new curtains made from a mid weight twill in a lovely khaki...leaning more toward green than tan.

From this ......

To this....

And this.....

Okay, the tab tops are a little bit fun :-)
One more thing I can check off my to-do list....

Say it with me: Burnt Peanut Red. That felt good, didn't it?

This is my new favorite paint color. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..................guess what I am gonna do with it?

Paint my night stand. I know, I know! I am a sewista, not a painter so this is gonna be a new and exciting adventure for me! I will be posting my progress as it happens.

The participants are:

 The paint color.

The tinted primer

The night stand, complete with my daughter's sharpie art from oohhhhh so long ago.

Now, do I keep the little porcelain knob or get something new? Maybe a brushed nickle finish? 
One step at a time, I finally found a paint color I like.
Now, to learn how to paint, properly, today!!!  LOL
And for the record, I would LOVE my closet doors to look just like the big, red picture!! 
Talking the hubs into a red room, that is going to be a challenge....I am soooooo up for it!
Wish me luck!! OOO, and send me tips.....lots!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Grilled Corn Flavor without the Grill

Here's an easy way to get toasty, grilled flavor with your corn on the cob without a grill.
It's super, duper easy. It's a set it and forget it recipe. And you can do all kinds of extra things to it with just a few extra minutes of prep! 
This is the basic how-to. After that, I'll give you a few flavorful taste combos to spice it up!!

Step 1...Get yourself some yummy corn. Pick ears that are heavy for their size with full, plump kernels. Go ahead, peel back the husk and take a look, it's okay. It's corn season here and we are gonna eat it until were are sick of it! LOL

Trim off the hairy parts and some of the husk if it is really ukky.

Your ears should look something like this.

Wrap in foil

Toss in your oven. 350º to 400ºf 
Cook for 1 to 2 hours. (longer on 350 than 400)
You don't have to turn it or even think about it for a long time. I usually cook mine with baked potatoes or use this method when the grill will be really full or when I don't want to think about it. LOL If you got stuff to put in the oven, put it right on in there too!

Open up the foil packs. There will be some hot steam, be careful. 
See the grilled goodness markings? El yummo!! 
Peel off the husk.

Peel off the threads

Season will a little butter and salt and enjoy!!
The husk imparts a really nice flavor and keeps the corn from drying out and burning.

Some other ways to spice it up:
Add a sprinkle of chili powder or cumin with the butter and salt
Make a flavored butter
Evoo and a sprinkle  of a favorite spice blend.

You can also gently peel back the husk first, take off the threads and season(I find the threads peel off super esay after they are cooked). Re-cover with the husk, foil and cook. I find the butter burns a little this way if you leave it too long., but browned butter can be tastey too.

Play with cooking times to get the corn the way you like it. Crunchy or not so crunchy. 
High heat for a little while to get extra grill marks, then low and slow until it's done. 
This technique works with lots of veggies.....go have some fun in the kitchen!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

All the aprons are d-o-n-e!!

And I am one tired little mama!! They looked great and everyone loved them!!

 All 8 in a pile....ready to be folded and packed up for their trip.

 The guy version. It looks very masculine in real life, just not on a chick dress form. lol

The girl one.

Close up of the pocket detail

7/8 of the group posing in their finery!!
See the total hottie by the bbq? The tall, hatless one..........that's my hubs!!!