March 22, 2014

It started with just rose bushes

This is part of the front of our 1920 house...

See those nasty green bushes under our dining room window?  I really, really, really dislike those bushes.  It doesn't matter whose house they're at.  Those types of bushes are ugly and I think date a house and make it look ugly too.  Not to mention they are spider traps, as some people call them.  Thank heavens I haven't seen too many in there!  

My dream is to have those bushes gone and to replace them with some knockout rosebushes!  It will look so pretty and be so fragrant.  

My dream is coming true today!

Todd rented a digger to pull these bushes and some others on the right side of our house.  We are also jack hammering all the concrete out of our backyard (it currently looks like a very large kennel) so we can have some grass and do a little planting and purtying up back there.  

That's our friend Ken giving Todd, who is in the digger, the sign to start pulling.  Adios, bush!

Rosie and I watched from the dining room window as one by one the nasty bushes were ripped up.  

Then they were loaded on the big flat bed to be hauled to the dump in exchange for some mulch.

Then, the next thing I know, the front of our house looks like this...

Now, we are replacing those little windows that look in to the large guest room downstairs with new windows.  Oh, and we're tarring the foundation to help protect it from cracking and leaking.  Our house was built in 1920, after all.

There is, well, now was, a little sidewalk to the left of the house that didn't really make sense.  Todd wanted it gone, so he, Ken and another friend Joe jack hammered it out and loaded all the concrete on the flat bed too.  

That's Ken jack hammering.  That's Todd's gloved hand explaining to me what's going to happen.  You can kind of see where the old sidewalk was to the right of the lilac bushes.  Where Ken is jack hammering we are also now putting an egress window to the guest bedroom, which has two little windows on the side where Ken is standing.

This is Joe.  See those scrawny bushes lying there?  We were just going to yank those too, because one is dead and the other is part dead and they make me nuts.  This is the right side of our house under the sunroom. I want to put big, blue hydrangeas around this corner of the house.  In fact, there are two already there that I planted last summer.  Todd's plan is to now dig out that whole corner and fix a few cracks as well as tar the foundation here, too.     

Our house is going to look so good when it's all done, both inside and out!  I can't wait to have pretty flowers versus dead or nasty bushes.  I seriously can't wait for grass in the back yard either!  

This is how an old house works.  You want one project done and get four more to boot.  In the end, though, this house will be a neighborhood contender.  

March 4, 2014

Sew, sew

You don't have to know me too well to know I don't sew.  

There was a time, when I was very young, that I had an interest in sewing.  I made beds and pillows for my Barbies.  I tried making them clothes.  All of this was by hand and not with a machine.  My interest in sewing ended abruptly when I was in fifth grade the night before the 4-H fair.  

My mom, who was our 4-H leader, and I decided a good project would be to take apart an "Amish" quilt square I had made for my Indiana history segment.  (We are originally from there.)  

The stress of doing the project the night before, trying to "tighten" up my poor stitches, getting the gol durn thread through the eye of the needle (to this day that makes me antsy; I will not be cross stitching any time soon.) all lead to a massive melt down where I stormed away from the project.  I never looked back on sewing again.

In recent years, a desire to wear some original clothing and not look like a department store clone made me wish I wanted to sew.  Not enough to do anything about it, though.  

When I was pregnant, I think the nesting urge really reared sewing's head inside me.  I wanted a multi-tiered ruffled crib skirt, but the prices for those things on Etsy are appalling!  Come on...$300+ for a crib skirt?  Can't I make my own?  While that story is one within itself, the answer was yes, I could; and I partially did (with the help of two other girls who know what they're doing).  

 I also made Rosie's name on a banner for above her bed.  I was quite pleased with myself.  To have someone on Etsy do personalized banners is, again, ridiculously priced.  

We are also renovating our 1920 home, as many know, and we need curtains and pillows.  My mom made our dining room curtains, but I feel this is something I should be able to work on after Rosie goes to bed and we're watching The Voice.  

What has really pushed the sewing urge over the edge is the Boden Kids catalog.  Their clothing is sooooo cute, and sooooo overpriced for a child!  I can NOT justify $35 for a romper my daughter will be out of in three months.  She would have to wear it nearly every day for me to feel like I got my money's worth.

Boden's kids clothes are pretty simple, actually.  It's the material and the patterns and how they pair things that makes their stuff so crazy cute.  I flip through their catalog and think, "How difficult can that be to make?!"

Take these shirts on the left that I love!  They're so simple looking, yet, $34?!

So, here I find myself, roughly 25 years after walking away from sewing, about to sign up for a sewing class with a new sewing machine waiting to be used!  

I can't wait!  I hope it goes smoothly and that I like it.  I have visions of Rosie being the cutest dressed toddler on the playground due to her mama's handy work.  

The alternative is she'll look like a ragamuffin.  In which case, I'll start seriously perusing Boden's clearance page.  

March 1, 2014

Baby crack

Baby crack is what Todd and I call these fruit and veggie pouches...

We call them that because Rosie can't get enough.  She wants them.  She neeeeeds them.  She has to have them!  

The first time I saw these things, my friend's daughter was drinking one.  I thought, why not just give your daughter a bite of whatever fruit was in the pouch?  She was old enough to eat bites of food, after all.  It sounds like I said that comment to myself in a snarky way.  I really don't think I did.  I just wondered at the purpose of the pouch.

It turns out, my friend is having trouble getting their daughter to eat veggies.   That's all these pouches are: blended fruit and veggie purees.  You can get them with yogurt, grains, and some are even like meals.  We haven't gone the meal route.  We have done the yogurt pouches though, especially since Rosie isn't taking bottles during the day anymore.  I figure they are a good source of calcium.  

I can't even begin to guess how much money we have dropped on these things since we've discovered them.  Rosemary will freak out for one.  She will throw a fit in the pouch aisle at the store if she's shopping with me and I have to replenish our stock.  

And you know what?  I willingly toss one her way.  Because she's freaking out for fruits and vegetables!  Not candy, or cookies, or other sweets.  I'll let her eat us out of house and home with these things.  

And she basically is.  

February 17, 2014

Just Beet It

I hate beets.

I loathe them.

Thankfully, so does Todd!  We're pretty much on the same page when it comes to our likes and dislikes with food.  Except he doesn't like yellow mustard and I don't know what planet he comes from. 

Beets, ESPECIALLY the pickled kind, are gross!  Blood mixed in dirt.  That is what I feel I may as well be eating when I taste a beet - which does not happen often.

What I do like is Red Velvet Cake.  I just don't like the red food coloring in it.  For a long, long time I have contemplated using a recipe for Red Velvet Cake that calls for beets as the coloring.  I have been very hesitant because the thought of chocolatey tasting beets is even more gross than a regular beet; but last week I took the bull by the horns. 

Since it was Valentine's Day last week, it was the perfect excuse for baking up Red Velvet Cake.  I wanted to make cupcakes for Rosie to take to daycare for their little party.  

I opened up the recipe for an all natural Red Velvet Cake I had pinned.  

I bought beets.  

This was only the second time I have ever bought them.  The first time was at a farmers market because I wanted to see if I liked the greens roasted and tossed with blue cheese, a recipe I found in a magazine some time ago.

I do not.  

The only redeeming thing beets have going for them is their color.  It is gorgeous.  

I roasted the beets per the recipe, then pureed them and mixed them up.  

THIS is what happened to the batter!

It's perfectly red!  I was completely thrilled!

Now, the batter did have a very slight essence of beet, but it wasn't super terrible.  I wonder if I noticed it because I knew it was in there?  

Interestingly, the baked cupcake had even less of a beet essence, but it was still there.  In the finished cupcake, the cream cheese frosting largely masked it, but I could still taste it and I decided, after going back and forth between liking them and not liking them, that I didn't like them.

Todd tasted the frosted cupcake and said he really couldn't taste it until the end.  That confirmed my  decision to keep searching for a natural Red Velvet Cake recipe.  Who wants the finishing taste of a bite of cake to be beet-ish?

All in all, I am impressed with the color and how magically red it was.  It was perfect.  

I'm sure most people may not mind the taste, but I ultimately couldn't hack it.  It's not BAD.  Just not to MY liking.  I would recommend the cake to others who aren't as grossed out by beets as I am.  


August 8, 2013

Everything But the Hummingbird

My friend Jonna got me this fun cookbook called "sugar, sugar" where every recipe has a story.

They are all old fashioned recipes - things your grandma would make to take to a church picnic or fix when company was coming.

I haven't made many things from it yet, but there is one cake I've made twice - and will likely keep making given the response I've received from it.

It's called Hummingbird Cake.  Nobody seems to know how it came to be called that, but the Joy of Baking online speculates, "it does seem plausible that it may have something to do with how sugary rich this cake is - just like the nectar that Hummingbirds love to feed on."

Sugary rich is the best way to describe it.  It's too much for me to have more than a bite, but it has received rave reviews from others who have eaten one or more large slices.  My friend Linda all but cussed me out at church once after I gave her family half of the cake, of which she swears she ate most of and accused me of ruining her diet. haha!  On top of that, I just recently had a total stranger at a BB-Q tell me it was the best cake he's ever had!

This is what's left after the BB-Q.  It makes one three-layer cake.  It's quite the looker (though not quite so much anymore after being hacked into at a BB-Q)!

CAKE (ingredients only slightly altered to reflect Bakerella's recipe)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 oz. can of crushed pineapple, liquid included
2 cups chopped ripe bananas
2 cups  pecans, chopped and toasted (I omit these because I don't like nuts in sweet things.)

16 oz cream cheese
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
32 oz.  confectioner's sugar

To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour 3 9-inch cake pans.

If using nuts: Prepare toasted pecans. Chop pecans in small pieces and place on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes and keeping your eye on them so they don't burn. Set aside and let cool.

Whisk together flour, soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Place the sugar and oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed for about 1 minute, until blended.

Add eggs, one at a time, on low speed, blending well before the next egg.

Add the vanilla and blend.

Add the flour mixture one half at a time, mixing on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Add the pineapple, nuts (optional), and the bananas and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined.

Spread batter evenly among cake pans and bake for 22-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove and let cool.

For the frosting: In a mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add confectioner's sugar. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl often.

To assemble: Place first layer rounded-side down and spread frosting on top with an offset spatula. Continue with the remaining two layers and then frost the sides. Store in fridge.

Related Stories

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...