Monday, September 30, 2013

On My Bookshelf- Jasper Fforde

I really don't usually like books that are a series.  There's a couple reasons for this.  I'm kind of a commitment phob about even starting a book in a series.  What if I don't like it?  What if I do and then can't find the rest of the books?  I hate having to buy books at full price and most of the books I own came from library book sales, Bookmooch, or were gifts.  I know that I can pretty much interlibrary loan anything my heart desires but I'm still weird about reading series.  Every now and then though, I make an exception.  One of those exceptions is Jasper Fforde.  I'm actually reading two of his series right now.  There's the "Nursery Crime" series, which entail the adventures of police detective Jack Spratt and his partner Mary Mary.  But the series I prefer is the "Thursday Next" series.

There's currently eight books in the series.  I've read the first three, "The Eyre Affair", "Lost in a Good Book" and "The Well of Lost Plots".

Thursday Next 1-3
Jasper Fforde is English and he doesn't seem to be super popular in The States.  I'm not sure why more people haven't read his stuff, because he has this awesome British humor that just makes you laugh out loud.

Thursday Next is the main character of the series and she lives in a sort of parallel England to ours.  She is a literary detective with a pet Dodo and a crazy family.  She gets her big break investigating the kidnapping of Jane Eyre from the book of the same name.  After inadvertently altering the ending of Jane Eyre (with some loving it, and purists hating it) she becomes an apprentice to Miss Havisham from "Great Expectations" and joins Jurisfiction (the police force inside books).  She faces trials (both literal and figurative ones) and meets all sorts of literary characters along the way.

I think I've mentioned before that I have a soft spot for fantasy in my novels and these books definitely have it.  The more familiar you are with the classics, the more the "inside" jokes will make sense.  If you like mysteries with a touch of humor and smidge of famous literature characters, you should really give the Thursday Next series a try.  They're light and funny, but still hold your attention and make great fall reading.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Few Favorites 9.29

Autumn is here.  The leaves are changing.  Sweaters and boots are back.  You can order something with pumpkin in the name at just about any restaurant you stop at.  So, naturally, my favorite things this week are leaning a little towards autumnal things. 

Photos are taken from their respective blog or Etsy shop.

1.  Autumn means time to curl up with a book.  What Should I Read Next is a fun webpage were you type in the name or author of a book you enjoyed, hit enter, and peruse a list of books it recommends for you that are similar to what you had entered.

2.  Gingerbread Cookie Perfume Oil is from Etsy Shop Symbolic Imports.  This shop has great smelling products and fabulous customer service.  I ordered this perfume last year and it smells good, without smelling like you're a walking gingerbread man.  I always got comments about how good it smelled.  I'd say it's defiantly an autumn/winter scent, but it's not overpoweringly strong, and it comes in a roll on, so it's easy to carry in your bag.

3. This African Flower Crochet Pattern is from a new blog I came across called The Yvestown Blog.  The blog is full of beautiful photos and crafty things.  I love this African Flower design.  It kind of reminds me of a hipper version of a granny square and looks simple enough.  If I ever get going and learn to crochet, I want to make some of these for sure.

4. This Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer from Shugary Sweets is a tasty little treat for your coffee.  I made it with half and half instead of whipping cream, but I think next time I make it, I may splurge and use the cream.  Also, it tastes better the next day, after the flavors have had a chance to meld a little.  I strained all the little pieces of pumpkin out the next day, just because I didn't like them in the bottom of my cup, but it's totally a preference thing. 

So there you are, four fun things to try.  What do you think of autumn?  Are you ready, or are you dreading it?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Artisan Breadmaking- Lesson 4 The Poolish Method

Lesson four of Craftsy's Artisan Bread Making (affiliate link) was great!  After the great bread I was able to make in lesson three, I was excited, but kind of disappointed about how long it took to make.  Never fear, lesson four detailed two shortcuts.  One is the Poolish method and the other the Pate Fermentee method.  The Pate Fermentee method involves using a piece of old dough.  Since I didn't have any leftover dough, I decided to try the Poolish method.

Poolish entails mixing a little flour, water, and yeast.  Letting it sit on the counter four hours, and then popping it in the refrigerator.  This is what the poolish (a French word for sponge) looks like after you initially mix it up. 

After I took it out of the refrigerator this morning, you can see it already is getting yeasty and bubbly.

You mix the poolish in with your bread flour, water, salt, and yeast.  Now this is where the short cut comes in.  Instead of waiting 20 minutes between stretch and fold cycle, you only have to wait five minutes between each cycle.  Then you proceed in the same way as with the lean method.  You form your dough, proof it.  Score it and bake it.  Here's the prebaked loaves.

And here's the baked loaves.  They get some puffiness in the oven.  On a technical level, I don't think these loaves turned out as well as my first batch.  I think my dough was a little too sticky and needed a little more flour.  Or maybe, a little more time in the mixer.

But, I ate it with some chicken wild rice soup and it was still delicious.  There's nothing like warm bread with soup in the autumn.  And I'm really excited to learn that I can cut some time out of my bread making process.  It makes me optimistic that making homemade bread won't just be a special occasion type thing.  If you want to learn to make awesome breads, you really should give this Craftsy class a try.

Online Bread Making Class

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Autumn Bulb Planting

It's that time of year again.  Early autumn in Wisconsin is nothing but contradictions.  It's hot enough during the day that I don't wear a jacket, but by dark, I'm drinking hot cocoa.  My tiger lilies and vegetable plants are pretty much kaput, but my zinnias and rudbeckia are still going strong.  I don't really like gardening at this time of year because part of me wants to clip all my perennials down and close up flower gardening shop for the year and part of me wants to wait until every last flower has had a chance to bloom.  So, today I made a compromise.  I cut back the tiger lilies, and English wallflower, and dug up the calla lily bulbs, but left everything that was still looking green or flowering.

I also planted some bulbs.  In Wisconsin, now is the time of year to start planting tulips, iris, hyacinths, and crocus.  If you live farther south you can wait another month or two.  I plant bulbs pretty much every autumn.  To me, it's one of the most exciting parts of spring- seeing the snow melt and the first flowers begin to appear.

Some things seem to come back every year, but tulips are really finicky for me.  I get some that will come up on their own, but I always plant more bulbs to be sure there's plenty of color.  This year I bought two bags of tulips and one of iris.

Here are the most import tips I have for bulb planting.

1. Plant so the pointy side is up.  That's where your stem will come out of.  Think of your bulb as a garlic bulb.  The bottoms look the same.

2. Don't listen to what the package says about planting bulbs so many inches apart from each other.  If you want big pops of color, dig up a spot and plant the three to five bulbs in the same spot.  Let them touch.  Trust me, they're hardy little buggers and they won't choke each other out.  They'll all come up and you'll have a nice clump of color.

3. Dig a deep enough hole.  Your bulb needs to be completely covered.  This is why you want to plant before frost sets in and makes this a nearly impossible job.

4.  Be patient.  After you plant, nothing is going to happen for about six months (in Wisconsin at least).  E.B. White called autumn bulb planting, "plotting the resurrection" and he's right.  Just when you start to think the snow will stay forever, it will start melting and you'll notice little shafts of green poking out of the muddy flower beds and sometimes even the last bits of snow.

5.  If you don't have a flowerbed, you can still plant bulbs in pots.  Keep them outside, where it's cold.  You can also force bulbs once winter is here.  I'll show you some tips for that in a few months.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Favorite Color Swap Show Off!

I told you yesterday that my swap partner's box had arrived.  Let me tell you a little more about my swap partner before I show you all the treasures that were in inside.My partner was Cindy from A Crafter's Corner.  She blogs about stamping and scrapbook and just life in general.  You should check her out.  We exchanged an email kind of detailing what our hobbies were, what we do for a living, etc.

And when, I got my box, I was totally impressed.  She did awesome finding things that were me!  I loved everything.  Here's a picture.

Favorite Color Swap

She sent this super cute card.  She's definitely a crafty chic.  And then all these goodies.

Project Life kit for seasons.
I told her how I was trying to use Project Life to be better about scrapbooking my photos so she sent this super cute kit.  They don't make one in eggplant, or purple, but this will be uber practical and I love the patterns.

I love these little puzzles!  They make a square but you don't know which pieces are edges and you just try to match up the bugs on all sides.  It's kind of like picture sudoku.

Picture Holder
A cute purple flower for my desk to hold a note or picture.  (See the alligator clip at the top that's holding a post it?)

Butterfly Plant Poke
A cute butterfly plant poke that HB loved.  I couldn't even get a a clear photo of it because he kept trying to attack it.

Cat Food Dish
Super cute cat dish!  I think I had some fabric with the same print on it about two years ago!  I loved it.  HB keeps sticking his head in the bowl like he knows there should be food in it.

Embroidery Scissors
These are going to be super handy, because I have a tendency to use my fabric scissors to snip threads.  Not a good way to keep them sharp.  These are smaller and much better for the job.  Plus they're sharp.

Wild Berry Cobbler Candle
I love candles, and this one smells super nice.  Food scented ones are always a hit at my house.

Jelly Roll
Absolutely gorgeous jelly roll.  (I unwound it so you can get a better peek at the prints.  I have never had a jelly roll before so I'm excited to make something out of it.  Maybe something in a log cabin or ruffles!  Not sure yet.

And... one last thing.  I didn't even get to photograph it before somebody had hauled it away.

Caught in the Act

It's a hit!

He loves the little eggplant colored, catnip filled bird.  It has real feather wings and he likes to rub them on his face.  He's a weirdo.  But a happy one at least.

So, I'd like to thank Cindy for all the awesomeness and for making my weird cat happy!  She's pretty great!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Take to the Woods

I was feeling pretty unambitious this morning.  I've finished five days in a row at work and still have two more to go before I have a day off.  Blah.  It just makes me feel like staying in bed until it's time to go to work.  :)  But, I got up, it was a nice autumn day, and decided to head to the woods.  My parents live about ten minutes away, in the country, so, I drove out there.  My dad makes maple syrup on their land and has nice trails through the woods.  I stole their dog and we went for a walk.  I'd call it a hike, but my dad has his trails groomed so well that you can wear flip flops out there.

Gus, my parent's wonder dog.

It was just what I needed.  We crunched through the brush, heard birds overhead, and just explored.  Then I just sat in a lawn chair out there and read for a while.  I let Gus wander around and it was just nice and relaxing.

I love the way the sun shines through the trees.
There's just something about woods that are good for the soul.  I love parks, and beaches, and anything covered in grass in general, but woods always feel magical.  I don't know if it's that you could scare up a deer or stumble across a scolding chipmunk, or just all the Chronicles of Narnia books I read.  The leaves are starting to turn and fall already.  But the woods still have a lot of green left and it make the light shine through in pretty little shafts.

Perfect day to be outside.

Then I came home and found my Color Swap partner's box had already arrived, so tomorrow I'll reveal all the awesomeness she sent!

So, now, after my little excursion, I feel more recuperated and I think I can manage come up with some sewing room craftiness this week.  (And manage to survive two more days of work.)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Few Favorites 9.22

This week has flown by!  I'm working seven days in a row at the hospital and we've been busier than normal.  I come home wide awake, hungry, and exhausted.  Not a good combination.  It felt relaxing just to curate this list before getting ready for another day of patients, call lights, and paperwork.

Here's what I'm loving this week:

1. My mom sent me this pin (via Pinterest of course) and it pretty much sums up my feelings towards life.  I'm not big on tee shirts, but I think it'd look super cute under a cardigan.  You can find this tee at WordBrand.

2. White chip macadamia nut cookies from Julia's Album.  These only make about a dozen cookies, but they're pretty tasty.  Oh yes, and be sure to toast your macadamia nuts before using them in the the cookies.

3.  Catnip filled mice tutorial from Craftster.  These are super cute, and predominately machine sewn.  I was looking for a tutorial that didn't involve all hand sewing.  I think these are going to be adorable!

4.  Fall is coming, so that means you're going to need a lovely cowl to keep your neck warm.  This one is from TinySheep on Etsy.  I have one in charcoal and I love it.  Her prices are super affordable, her craftsmanship is awesome and the cowls look great with a jacket, just a sweater, a cardigan, whatever. 

So there you are.  I'm hoping for a more productive week next week, with new things to craft and cook and maybe even a book to read.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Craftsy Sale is Ending Soon

Craftsy Just a reminder that Craftsy's big sale runs through Saturday and then it's done!  So what did I find that I couldn't live without?  I managed to pass by all the fabrics, but I did enroll in two more classes.  I have tried my hand at knitting and crocheting without much success, so I decided to give the Craftsy beginner classes a try and enrolled in Crochet Lab Class and Knit Lab Class.  Both teach the foundations of their respective field and I'm hoping to get more proficient this winter when Wisconsin is buried in snow.  Both classes were on sale for only $9.99 each, so I think it will pay off since I seem to do better with video lessons than with books.

I love that I can watch the videos for class when I want, at my own pass.  My access to the classes never expire and the PDF handouts are super handy to refer back to without having to fast forward through the video.  So, just wanted to remind you all that if you were thinking of trying any Craftsy class, now is the time.  They're almost all on sale and Craftsy does have a 100% guarantee that you'll be happy with your class.  I've always been happy with everything I've gotten from Craftsy and I really think you will be too.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Room with a View

So Zulily (affiliate link) sent out an email asking you to design a dream room including a Loloi Rug (affiliate link) in honor of Loloi rugs being featured this week.  Of course I couldn't resist playing interior designer.  My dream home would have hardwood floors with big gorgeous rugs throughout, but for now I'm a linoleum and carpeting kind of girl.  But it was fun to dream.

Here's what I came up with:

I pictured redoing my office and I chose the Rust Harper Wool rug which comes in a variety of sizes.  There's all different patterns and designs to choose from, but I really liked the more subdued ones.  I also like these grey ruffle curtain panels that Zulily has for $34.99 right now.  This birch tree picture is just kind of magical.  It's canvas, 16" x 20" and only $32.99.  (It would look awesome in my hallway too.)  And finally, I always need music.  I had a record player for a while when I was in high school and I'd listen to my mom's old Seal and Croft vinyl (as well as a few other albums), but every time you touched the needle you'd get a little shock.  This is much more portable and I could buy Bon Iver and The Decemberists on vinyl now.  Back when I was in high school, I think records were pretty much dead.  There's just something nostalgic about vinyl records.  I grew up with cassettes so I don't really know what it is, except maybe it makes playing music more of a ceremony instead of  just skipping through on Pandora or our MP3 players until we find a song we like.  I'm not sure.  This player is from Crosby and comes in a variety of colors for $124.99.

So there you have it.  I guess I'm favoring greys and oranges right now.  Maybe it's that autumn is coming.  What room would you love to redo in your home and what would your color pallet be?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Resolution and Silence

What we need in autumn is an emotional or spiritual shot in the arm.
-Katharine Elizabeth Fite
Good Housekeeping, 1949
I found this quote while rereading Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy.  This is from the September 1 reading.  In it, Sarah Ban Breathnach talks about how autumn is an ideal time for making resolutions and much more appropriate than waiting for the new year, when we're exhausted from the holidays and just want to rest.  I think she's on to something.  She writes, "September resolutions are about authentic wants.  What do you want more or less of in your life, so that you can love the life you're leading?"  So what is it that you want?

Sometimes I think we get so busy with what we want, what we think we need, and what we think we're supposed to be doing, and we just get caught up in a cycle of chasing after things.  We get so busy we can't even hear our own thoughts.  So we need to step on the brakes and reevaluate what we are doing and why we're doing it.  Is it something that makes you love your life?  If not, why are you doing it?

Silence gives us a chance to reevaluate.  So today I encourage you to turn off the television, shut off your music and just sit still.  And think about where you are going.  Don't be afraid to make new goals and plans.  I'll leave you with one final quote that pretty much sums up my wish for all of you.

I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.
-Eric Roth

Monday, September 16, 2013

Finished Projects and Revitalization

I made it back from my retreat.  And it was pretty awesome!  I walked nature trails, I read, I sewed a lot, ate delicious food, slept in bunk beds for the first time in years (and got a top bunk- what what!).  I just feel so refreshed and energized!  I didn't realize how much I needed to just unplug for a few days, get away from work and home and recharge my batteries.

So how did I fair on all those projects I took along?  Take a peek.

Folk art animal apron made with SeeKateSew's pattern
This is my second go at SeeKateSew's apron pattern.  I used some newer fabric in my stash and it's bright and colorful.  I only bought a yard of it, and now I'm kind of wishing I would have bought more.  I goofed up my ruffle on the neckline, so I just left it off.  I think it's just as cute without the ruffle.

Close up of the fabric.  It's pretty cute!
I made all four of the Michelle Pattern's (affiliate link) grocery bags that I had cut out.  Here are the finished projects.

This bag is a cute navy blue fabric I got at Joann's.
The lining is a pale beige that kind of has a birch pattern to it.  It's been in my stash forever and I finally got up the guts to cut into it.  Do you ever do that?   Hold off on cutting into fabric you really like?
Here's a closer view of the fabric.
I didn't take either of these first two projects home.  They were claimed by friends I was with, so I made them model to earn their finished projects. :)

Here are the other three bags.
The third and fourth picture are of the same bag, it's just reversible.
Some of these are made with fabrics that have been in my stash forever!  (The blue floral in the second picture and the purple gingham in the third are both some of the oldest fabrics in my stash.)

And finally, my most proud finish...

The Alice Bag
 This is a bag made from iThinkSew's Alice bag pattern.  I had found this quilt top at the thrift store for a couple bucks.  I loved it, but wasn't sure what I would do with it.  I had made an Alice bag a few months before that and loved the simple but unique design, decided the quilt top would be perfect and proceeded to cut it out, as well as the lining, interface the exterior with some fusible fleece, and then stick it aside for at least a year.  I threw it in with my projects to take on the retreat at the last minute and I was so glad I did.  It literally took me less than an hour to finish it and I love how it turned out.  You can see the quilt fabric is fragile and I don't think this bag will last forever, but I'd rather use it until it wears out than leave quilt top stuffed in a bag somewhere never used.

I was pretty happy with all I got done, and I'll talk more about the retreat later in the week, just had to show off my finished for now.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Few Favorites 9.15

Usually I list a couple of my favorite things I've found on Pinterest on Sundays, but this week I'm changing it up.  I decided to list some of my favorite blogs.  I read a lot of blogs.  I use Bloglovin' to keep track of all of  the posts and it makes it so easy.  I can pick to only reads only certain blogs posts, read them in chronological order, read by each blogs' focus.  It's great!  So, here are some of my favorites and the links to them.

I found Beth's blog, Living a Goddess Life when she was my swap partner for the Local Flavor's swap.  She is a lot of fun and we have a similar tastes in a lot of things.  Her blog focuses on book reviews, crafty things, beauty tips, music, and just what she likes and what's going on in her life.  I always look forward to reading what she has to say because she rights engaging posts and is just so open.  I feel like Beth is comfortable in her own skin.  She who she is, and she's pretty awesome.

I don't even remember how I found Sew Caroline but I'm so glad I did.  She focuses mostly on sewing clothing, but occasionally posts on other things too.  She writes high energy and always motivates me to get going on my stash of fabrics and to make cute things.   I love her taste in fabrics and sewing patterns.  Caroline is great for when you need a little motivation to get a project finished (or started).

Flamingo Toes is another blog I've been following for a while.  Bev always has the best craft tutorials.  She sews, makes jewelry, embroiders.  She also hosts an awesome Pinterest  feature each week as well as a "Think Pink" link party each week where you can show off your projects.  I love her tutorials.  She writes clear instructions and makes everything look so easy.  Go search her blog if you're looking for some project inspiration.

One last sewing blog.  Even Artichokes Have Hearts is ran by English girl, Skye.  I found her blog when I saw here tote bag companion pouch featured on a sewing blog.  She doesn't post much more than once or twice a week, but she is always working on something cool.  She quilts, she cooks, she reads.  She's a girl after my own heart.

So there you have it, my four picks for blogs that may be new to you, and are worth checking out.  Have a great weekend and see you all when I get back from my crafting retreat.  Hopefully with lots of finished projects to show off.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Crafty Weekend!

Hello everyone!  See that big pile of fabric and half finished projects on my kitchen table? 

Yep, all this!
This is all stuff I'm packing up and taking with me to the woods.  I'm going on a crafting retreat with some of the girls from work.  If I get everything done I'll have another See Kate Sew apron in a wild animal print with green seersucker, four of Michelle Patterns (affiliate link) grocery bags in a variety of colors.  An Alice bag from iThinkSew, three zipper pouches from Noodlehead and a drawstring tote from Aivilo Charlotte, and then I brought two more yards of fabric just in case I have time to start any other projects.  :)  Thinking that won't be necessary though.

So, I have to run.  I still need to finish packing and loading up the car with the sewing machine, fabrics, interfacing, sewing box, oh and clothes for me to wear!  You all have a great weekend.  I have a post queued up for Sunday and then I'll be back Monday!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Let's Go on a Field Trip!

You know how you can live somewhere your whole life, and you never visit the tourist-y things right in your own back yard?  The Fred Smith Concrete Park is about an hour from here and anytime you bring up cool things to do or see in Wisconsin, this place is on the list.  Well, a couple days ago, my friend Lori and I got together and decided to go check it out.  It's free and like I said, it's kind of a Wisconsin landmark.

The Park is right along the highway and is on the same land as Fred Smith's home.  He died in 1976, but volunteers have done a good job of keeping the area looking nice and they even run a gift shop inside his old home where you can buy postcards, teeshirts, and even some artwork from local craftsmen.  There's also a studio on the property where you can take classes in things like basketweaving, quiltmaking, and mosaics.

Check out the Wandering Wisconsin Website for more information on all the unique things we have in Wisconsin.
So what is in the park?  Lots of concrete statues featuring horses, lumberjacks, dogs, cows, men, Sacajawea, the Statue of Liberty and lots more.  And they're all life sized or bigger.  Here's some pictures Lori took.

I wish you could see how big they are.  These things are massive.

We got there pretty early and were the only ones there.  It was kind of cool because there's just all these statues every where, not a lot of rhyme or reason to their placement. The animal statues are kind of charming in a definite folk art way, but don't the statues of the men kind of creep you out?  Something about their eyes are just strange.

Here's a video that I found posted on Youtube that kind of gives you a feel for the place.  There's no narration and the camera work is kind of shaky but it helps you get an idea of what it's like.

There's just something a little creepy about the place.  We were checking out the statues in a back corner of the park, when a squirrel ran through a tree overhead and I jumped.  Lori thought it was hilarious.  About halfway through, I realized what was creeping me out.  And if you're a Doctor Who fan, you may have already put your finger on it.

On the right, a nice concrete man taking your picture with his concrete camera, on the left, a weeping angel.  All I could think of was this:

Thanks Doctor Who for turning a nice piece of kitschy Wisconsin pride into a creepy place for me.  Seriously though, it was a fun place to visit and it was free.  You can't beat that.  If you're ever in the neighborhood, you have to check it out.  And if you're a Doctor Who fan, I definitely think you'll see the potential for a story being filmed there.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Whatever Goes Giveaway- Coming Soon!

I love Giveaways!  Just in the last two months, I've won six 12 packs of Seagram's gingerale, two DVDs, and a scholarship to Big Picture Classes "Project Life Lessons"  Winning is great, but giving is almost as fun.  So, I'm signing up to join Mama's Baby Cupcakes and Mommy's Favorite Things Whatever Goes Giveaway Hop, which starts up next month.  Want some more info?

This giveaway is going to be prizes with the theme whatever goes. Anything is acceptable for this giveaway hop. There are lots of options for finding a prize for this wonderful event. Your only mission is to find the perfect prize pack for your blog! Because this is a blog hop, each blog will be responsible for securing their own prize on their own blog. Each prize must be a Minimum of $25. The Prize can be sponsored OR you can self sponsor. Each blog can have more than 1 winner, but each winner must win at least $25 in prizes. Joining this Blog Hop is FREE as long as you share the announcement in some way. It takes 2 seconds to do this!! Tweet, pin, or share on FB.

When: 10/21-11/11
Who: Anybody with a blog can sign up for this one!
Sign ups close 10/14 Add yourself to the Linky at Mommy's Favorite Things! You MUST share this announcement in order to participate in this hop.

 If you're a fellow blogger, link up!  It should be fun!
Add yourself to the Linky Below! You MUST share this announcement in order to participate in this hop.
You can also join the Facebook Group for our events here
- See more at:

Add yourself to the Linky Below! You MUST share this announcement in order to participate in this hop.
You can also join the Facebook Group for our events here
- See more at:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Artisan Breadmaking- Lesson 3

So, I had been neglecting my Craftsy Artisan Bread Making class (affiliate link).  It was August, it was hot, I didn't have a day off to devote to making dough, the excuses went on and on.  I got up today and it was overcast and looked like it would rain any minute.  So no more excuses.  Time to do lesson three- actual dough making.

I spent most of my morning making the dough that is the basis of baguettes, batards, and boules.  Peter Reinhart is a great teacher and I love that I can pause the lesson and replay any parts I'm having problems grasping.  Mixing the dough was easy enough- bread flour, yeast, salt, and water.  Then came the waiting game.  When I've made bread in the past, it's always been like this: mix ingredients and knead dough, let rise, punch dough down, let rise, shape your dough (either into rolls, or a loaf, or whatever) and let rise again, bake, and eat.  Peter's method is more time intensive but easier.  Instead of kneading your dough down, you stretch and fold it, let it sit for 20 minutes, and then repeat this three more time!  Then you let you lump of dough rise for an hour.  Then shape your dough.  I made two batards and a boule.  Then let it rise at least another hour.

Then you bake.  But not at 350 degrees.  At 500 degrees!  With steam!  After a few minutes you lower your temp and continue to bake until your bread has an internal temp of 200 degrees.  What do you get after all this?   The most delicious bread you have ever tasted!  I've baked bread before, but nothing close to this good!  It has a nice crispy crust, but is soft and fluffy on the inside.

The third batard may or may not be missing because it was partially eaten.

Here's what I chalk all the deliciousness up to based on what Peter states in the video and how the bread tastes:
  • The stretch and fold method, allows your dough yeast to really ferment for a good long time.
  • Turns out I've been shaping dough wrong all this time.  Using the right method helps your loaf to hold it's shape and have a nice crust.
  • Baking at a high temp with steam allows your bread sugars to caramelize enhancing the flavors and color.
  • Using only bread flour improves the taste.  In the past, if I didn't have bread flour, I'd just use all-purpose flour.

So, I had to cook up so soup to go with the bread.  I had been salivating over this recipe for Broccoli and Cheddar Soup from "The Little Girl's Guide to Sugar and Spice".  And it's delicious.  Cheesy, and thick and yummy!  Dipping my yummy crusting bread into the soup makes me sad that I have to get ready for work now and can't just sit home eating soup and bread and reading books.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup and Homemade Bread

If you have any desire to make delicious. homemade bread, you have to check out this class.  I can't believe how much better my breadmaking is after only three lessons.  It makes me excited to see what else I'll learn.

Online Bread Making Class

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Want to Win a Kindle Fire (or an Amazon gift card)?

Hey, how would you like to win a Kindle Fire?  I'm teaming up with a bunch of other blogs and authors to give some lucky soul the chance to win.  It's a Rafflecopter giveaway.  If you follow me on Twitter or follow on Bloglovin you already have earned two entries (just click the coordinating blocks on the Rafflecopter widget).  And there's plenty more chances so scroll down and start entering.  Good luck!

Kindle Fire September 


Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HD 7″.
Kindle Fire HD 7″ Giveaway
The winner will have the option of receiving a 7″ Kindle Fire HD (US Only)

Or $199 Gift Card (International)

Or $199 in Paypal Cash (International)

Sponsoring Authors & Bloggers

  1. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
  2. Feed Your Reader
  3. Candace's Book Blog
  4. Every Free Chance Book Reviews
  5. Author Lori Verni-Fogarsi
  6. Ketch's Book Nook
  7. Author Rachael Renee Anderson
  8. Author Karey White
  9. Buku-Buku-Didi
  10. Author Marcia Lynn McClure
  11. Author Bella Street
  12. Brooke Blogs
  13. Author Anna Kyss
  14. Author Ednah Walters
  15. These are but Shadows
  16. The Real Bookshelves of Room 918
  17. Fae Books
  18. Magical Manuscripts
  19. Chair in the Shade
  20. The Book Bellas
  21. Page Flipperz
  22. Romance Schmomance
  23. A Bookish Escape
  24. bookitty blog
  25. Author S.A. Larsen
  26. The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl
  27. Jessabella Reads
  28. Author Jennifer Laurens
  29. Bea's Book Nook
  30. Books 4 Tomorrow
  31. Meredith's Musings
  32. Libby's Library
  33. Author Deanna Roy
  34. Word to Dreams
  35. Bookhounds
  36. Diva Book Nerd
  37. Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf
  38. Author Kim Cresswell
  39. Author Inger Iversen
  40. Author Elizabeth Isaacs
  41. Lori's Reading Corner
  42. Author Lena Sledge
  43. Author Kerry Taylor
  44. Author Brinda Berry
  45. Author Niecey Roy
  46. Author Kary Radar
  47. Author Josh Baker
  48. Author Helen Smith
  49. Author Annette K. Larsen
Giveaway Details
1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7″ HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (International).
There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire.
Sponsor a future Kindle Fire Giveaway.  Details can be found here.
Ends 9/30/13
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway