Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Artisan Bread Making Lesson 6 & 7: Part 2

Are you guys sick of reading about bread making yet?  I hope not.  Trust me, if the internet had a way to transport smells, you would be drooling just as much as I am.  So last week, I said I was going to make focaccia this week since I didn't have enough dough last week.  I made this in the evening, so excuse the washed out pictures.

Here's the dealio, you start the bread dough same as ciabatta.  It's a slightly stickier dough than country style bread, so you use more oil to make it manageable.  So, I mixed up the dough, and did the stretch and folds, handling it on a well oiled counter top.  Then, I took my bench blade and divided it as evenly as I could.
Look at all that oily goodness.
Then you can bake it in pretty much whatever you like.  I don't have a jelly roll pan.  I have some baking sheets that have lipped edges, but according to Peter Reinhart, the class instructor, the bread should rise to 2.5 to 3 inches.  So, I decided to bake them in my 9 inch round cake pans.  I cut circles out of parchment paper to line my pans and spilled  little oil in each pain to prevent sticking.
I think I should be investing in olive oil as much as I've been using lately.
Then I just covered them each with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge until I was ready to bake (it needs to sit for at least eight hours).  They sat in the refrigerator about twenty four hours.  When I pulled them out the fridge, I smushed the dough out as much as I could.  It resisted a little but was fairly easy to work with.
Now, just waiting for it to warm up.
While, I waited for the dough to warm up, I mixed up my herbed oil.  The class printout comes with a recipe so I kind of followed that.  It has basil, parsley, paprika, rosemary, oregano, garlic powder, thyme, salt, and pepper.  So, I mixed that up, but you can make yours with whatever you like.  Then I pushed the bread to the edges of the pan and then brushed with the herbed oil.
More olive oil!
So, then you just let it rise on the counter for a couple hours. I think mine sat out about two and half hours before I through it in a 450 degree oven for about twenty minutes.  And this is what it comes out looking like.
Notice the unintentional beauty mark at the 2 o'clock spot?
So how'd it taste?  Not like any focaccia I've had before.  I'm used to cutting focaccia with a pizza cutter, basically pizza crust with herbs and oils.  This is more like a traditional bread.  I think it'd be super tasty sliced in half through the middle to make two big circles and then fill with sandwich fixings for a big party sandwich.  It was good tasting.  I liked the herb flavor.  And, all that oil made it have a crispy outside with a super soft inside.  Next time I may try to cut down some of the oil, just to make it a little healthier.  To boil it down, it was good, but I liked the ciabatta better.

And of course, if you want to try your hand at artisan bread baking, I can't recommend my affiliate, Craftsy's, Artisan Bread Making Class enough.  Check it out.

Online Bread Making Class

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Life is Hard

Earlier this month, I wrote about feeling tired and burned out.  And I know I can't be the only one who gets in ruts where it feels like life is making you haul a fifty pound weight around your neck while you're supposed to look composed and happy.

I've had the last four days off and it's given me some time to reflect.  I haven't done any crafting and only a little baking.  But, I've had four good days.  Saturday I went shopping with my mom.  My husband made me brunch Sunday and we spent the day together at home watching football (a favorite pastime of ours).  Yesterday, I had lunch and went shopping with one of my best friends and her little girl, and then today I met my husband for lunch.  It's been great and refreshing.  But tomorrow it's time to rejoin the real world.

And the real world is what is causing the most problems right now.  I found this quote on Jessica Swift's Facebook page and it seems appropriate.

I'd say I like myself most of the time, but I'm not sure if I like what I do anymore.  I'm a unit clerk at  hospital, which basically means you help out the nurses and aides with the paperwork and phone calls, and you just do what you can to make sure everything runs smooth.  I really like what I do.  There's a lot of teamwork that goes into it, and I feel like I'm helping people.  Plus, I get to spend a little time with patients and I like that.  I work the afternoon shift, and I really like having my mornings free.  Trust me, it's nice to not have to set an alarm clock and leisurely drink coffee while I check my email every morning.

But, no job is ever all pros.  There's some cons too.
  • I spend a lot of time alone.  Which is nice some days, but some days it can feel very lonely and isolating.  And I spend a lot of time talking to my two cats.  Which doesn't sound super healthy.
  •  I see my husband very little.  When I started this job, he worked as a sheriff deputy and his schedule was four days of working and four days off.  His hours were 11am to 11pm.  So, we got home around the same time.  We both worked some weekends and holidays.  It was okay.  Earlier this year, he made a job change and now he has weekends and holidays off and he works a traditional 8am to 4:30 schedule.  While I've never felt like we needed to spend every waking moment together, it's kind of depressing to realize that we have maybe 15 hours a week  where we are both home and awake. I literally could live in a city two or three hours away and only come home on weekends and we'd see each other more.  It's so easy to get into a relationship rut where the majority of our communication is to remind the other to get milk or haul the trash and recyclables out.  That's definitely not how I pictured married life. Nor how I want to spend my life.
  • I work at a small hospital, but we're the only hospital for about an hour in any direction, so we still have traumas and codes.  Usually we try to get them stabilized and send them on to one of the bigger hospitals.  I'm a clerk, so I my job in code situations is to record on the forms everything we're doing- what time the patient arrived, vitals, IVs started, drugs administered.  And after a while, you just start feeling calloused.  Everyone does their best to save the patient.  They know their jobs, their prepared, and ready.  But when a patient doesn't make it, you don't cry.  You clean up and go back to work and finish whatever you were doing before the code started.  You let the doctor and clergy deal with the family and you go about the rest of your day.  This is one of the things that bother me the most.  When those sad, Sarah McLachlin sound tracked ASPCA commercials come on, I get teary eyed, but when I watch someone's grandpa pass away after a heart attack, I don't feel anything.  I mean, there's a flicker of sadness, but you just wall yourself off.  Shouldn't I be more upset to see another human being's suffering than an animal in a tv commercial?
So, these are my three biggest hurdles right now.  I don't know how to overcome them, but I feel like something needs to be done.  For now, I'm going to try to be more in the moment.  Make a point to have productive mornings when I'm home alone.  Consciously spend more time with my husband when we are both home, instead of him in his office and me putzing on my computer.  And, be more in the moment.  I don't want to break down in a blubbering mess every time I'm in a code, but after it's done, take a moment to remember that this is someones family or friend.  And try to be more empathetic towards the patients and families I come into contact with.  I just need to keep reminding myself,
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
                                      -John Watson
This small town doesn't have a lot to offer in the way of jobs, so for now, I'll tough it out and see where life takes me.  I'll keep myself open to changes and opportunities and who knows where that will take me. 

So any advice?  What do you do when you feel like life is making your heart hard? 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Few Favorites 10.27

It's been a busy week, but I'm hoping for a calm few days off, before I go back and it all starts up again.  Here are few things I'm loving this week.

1. I entered a giveaway on Faith, Family, and Frugality.  Carly is doing an interesting feature about small home living.  And she offered to giveaway one of her cute fabric baskets to a lucky reader.  And I won!  I chose an awesome little fox print, but if you're interesting in checking out the other baskets available or some of her other homemade treats, you can find her shop at CJ's Craft Corner on Etsy.  She's also offering 10% off through today.  Go to her Etsy shop to find the coupon code.
Fabric Basket from CJ's Craft Corner

2.  I don't think I've talked about Sevenly before, but it's a website I really like.  They are a "for profit" company that gives away $7 from every item sold to the featured charity of the week.  This week's charity is "Save the Children" which is working in Syria to help children suffering from the civil war there.  They sell men's, women's and children's tees with designs tailored to the featured charity each week.  They also sell jewelry, prints, bags, stationery, and assortment of other things that varies from time to time.  I really like this print.
"Someone is Praying for Things You Take For Granted" print

3. These curtains are my inspiration for my office curtains.  I have been cutting scraps for over a year.  I made my squares 2 inches wide and tall, but it's still going to be a big project once I finally sit down to get it done.  There's not a real tutorial, but Posey does give some directions at this link: Posey Patchwork Curtains

4. Finally, I ordered from Abe's Market(affiliate link) about a month ago and one of the products I tried was this toothpaste from Nature Gate.  It's made with anise oil instead of peppermint or cinnamon.  I kind of like it.  It feels like I'm brushing my teeth with black licorice.  But not in a gross way if that makes any sense.  :)  Anyway, Abe's is giving free shipping on all Beauty and Bath and Body products this month.  So if you're interested in trying some new products, now is the time to try it out.

So, there's my round up for the week of things I'm loving.  Hope you all have a great Sunday!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Artisan Bread Making Lesson 6 and 7: Part 1

Artisan Bread Making has moved on to rustic doughs now.  These two lessons involve learning how to make ciabattas, focaccia, and mini baguettes.  The dough for these breads is more tacky because it has more water in it.  It also sits overnight in your refrigerator, rising, using the cold fermentation method.  I really like dough because with just a little under a half an hour of prep last night, I had dough ready to go fairly quickly this morning.  Here's the dough fresh from the refrigerator.  It actually rose so well it as pushing against the plastic wrap I had used to cover it.
First, I cut off some chunks of dough for mini baguettes using my dough bench blade and baked them right away.  There's no need to let them proof first.  So, within twenty minutes of starting this morning, I had fresh baked bread.  The only problem is I think I cut my pieces too tiny.  The goal is for something between a bread stick and a baguette and mine were more along the lines of a breadstick.  Still tasty though.

While the minis were cooking, I got to work on my ciabatta. Ciabatta is fun because you roll it up into a loaf on a pan of flour.  (I used buckwheat.)  Then just let it rise on the pan for a couple hours, through it on a fresh pain with parchment and bam, ready for the oven.
Rustic breads cook the same weigh as all the previous breads- high temperature with steam.  The ciabatta came out looking delicious!  I love how the flour dusting looks.

When you cut it open, you're looking for air pockets.
And air pockets we have!

I can't believe I only have a few more lesson to go before I'm done with this class.  Look for a post next week on focaccia.  I wanted to make it today, but didn't have enough dough to try all three.

And, if you're interested in taking Craftsy Artisan Breadmaking Class I have good news! Craftsy is having a 24 Flash sale today only and the breadmaking class is one of the classes on sale!  Click the banner affiliate ad below to see all sale classes.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Craftsy 101

(Note: This is an affiliate post.)
What is Craftsy?
Craftsy is a worldwide craft community offering online classes. It also has a patterns marketplace where independent designers can sell their patterns; a supplies shop with great deals on yarn, fabric, and class kits; and a projects section where members share pictures of their latest craft successes. With over two million members and counting, Craftsy has something for just about everyone, in categories ranging from quilting, sewing, knitting, painting, photography, cooking, and more.

Why should I take a class online?
Online education isn’t just for schools and universities anymore. Craftsy courses provide you the convenience of a world-class instructor in your home, whenever you want to learn. Online education, no matter what subject, is a great alternative to in-person classes for a number of reasons.

With many online learning opportunities being on-demand, you are able to learn at your own pace, anytime. Online learning is a fantastic alternative to in-store craft classes for people with busy schedules or who have difficulty leaving the house. It also allows you to watch a troubling section over-and-over again, so you can see exactly how a technique is carried out, or refer back to your class for relevant concepts before beginning any new projects.

My experience with Craftsy has been great.  I am enrolled in four different classes in a variety of subjects- sewing, knitting, crocheting, and bread making.  So far I've had great luck with all the classes I've tried.  The instructors have been great at explaining things.  They don't overwhelm you, or tell you that you need to buy a bunch of supplies to get started.  I work the afternoon shift and live in a small community, so my options for taking a class around here are pretty limited.  Plus, I do better in small groups or one on one, and Craftsy feels very one on one.

I love the online platform because I can go at my pace and pause the videos as I go.  The lessons are streamed right from the website.  There's no timeline for how often you have to sign on and no limit for how many of times you can watch a video.  You can type notes to each lesson as you go that are saved to the video.  You can post pictures of your finished projects. 

If you're interested in learning a new skill, I highly recommend Craftsy.    It's pretty awesome.  And if you're not sure about dropping the moolah on class, try one of the free ones so you can get your feet wet and try out the platform.  See how you like it.  Check out free classes by clicking on ad above.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Apple Dip

It's fall and apples are in abundance in all different kinds.  My absolute favorite are Honeycrisps.  They're a hybrid and super crispy with a semisweet taste that keep well.  On their own, they're pretty tasty, but with my mom's apple dip recipe, they're irresistable.

Mom's Apple Dip
1- 8oz pacakge of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla

Five ingredients to deliciousness

Then stir very well.  I mix mine with an immersion blender.  If you don't mix well enough, it will have a grainy texture from the brown sugar.  Refrigerate until ready to serve with apple slices.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Whatever Goes Giveaway

Welcome to the "Whatever Goes" Giveaway Hop hosted by Mommy's Favorite Things and Mama's Baby Cupcakes

This hop is an open theme so whatever the blogger wants to showcase goes!! After visiting my giveaway, make sure you use the linky below to take a look at the other bloggers and see what they have to offer! Each blog has a minimum prize package of $25 per winner. 


So what do I have up for a prize?  Well, remember a few weeks ago when I was talking about how much I loved Symbolic Imports' Gingerbread perfume?  It's delicious without smelling like a gigantic cookie.  So, I got some roll on gingerbread perfume, some butter cream lip balm, some salted caramel lip balm, and a bar of pumpkin soap, all made by Angel from Symbolic Imports.  And all these goodies will arrive tucked into a zipper cosmetic bag, made by myself.

My giveaway is open world wide, so use the Rafflecopter giveaway to enter for your chance to win.  And then be sure to check out the links to everyone else's giveaway.

And PS- if you don't want to wait for the giveaway to get your hands on some goodies from Symbolic Imports, check out their Etsy shop.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Few Favorites 10.20

It's been a crazy week.  I'm working a lot of days in a row (again!) and extra hours due to some bug going around at work making coworkers sick left and right.  So, I got a little lazy with my favorite things this week.  All the links are affiliate links, but they really are things I love.  And, as an added bonus, they'd make great Christmas presents.  (It's not too early to start thinking about Christmas- there was frozen rain on the roads the other night, here in Wisconsin.)

1. This patchwork bag features some flowers and a cute owl.  I love colors and embroidery combo.  It's only $16.99, which is great because I'm super cheap about purses.  I always figure I can make myself one so it's crazy to sock a lot of money into one that I'll probably be tired of in a year.  From Zulily

2.  Check out this bag of awesomeness!  It's a 50 piece, DIY hair accessory kit.  I saw it and immediately thought of all the cool things I could do with it for bag making.  You could sew the flowers on.  Or make napkin ring holders.  Or cool looks for your pets.  Or I suppose even some hair accessories.  :)  It's $17.95.  From Jane

3. I have cold feet most of the time.  Even in the summer.  So these, pink, fur lined slippers are looking fabulous.  I love the cute ribbon mixed with the funky grey and pink body of the slipper.  And the fur looks like it'd feel heavenly.  They're $16.99.  From Zulily

4.  I love Ecotools makeup brushes.  They're nicely made and last a long time if you take the time to take care of them.  I got a set a little bigger than this a few years ago for Christmas and never looked back.  Get these and you'll wonder why eye shadows and blushes even come with those dorky little brushes.  The set shown is $9.99.  From Jane

So there's my weekly loves.  I hope you all have a great Sunday.  I'll probably be at work most of the day.  But such is life, right?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Finish- Infinity Scarf for Fall

It's been a busy week.  I haven't spent nearly as much time crafting as I wanted to.  I woke up today to a drizzly, cold, rainy day.  So I decided that it'd be the perfect day to stay inside and craft something before I had to go to work.  I pulled up my Crafty Little Things board on Pinterest.  Sifting through for a nice easy project.  I found a pin from over a year ago for a quick and easy spring infinity scarf.  Since it's meant for spring, they recommend using a voile, but I thought I could use a woven just as easily.

The tutorial is from The Cottage Mama and you can find it here.  The instructions are very clear and easy to follow.  I dug in my stash and found this houndstooth fabric that I have had forever. It's a heavier weight and a woven, but it has some stretch.  I think I must have gotten it at a thrift store or garage sale or something.

Of course HB had to check out my fabric after I had cut it into two pieces of 12 inches wide by 60 inches long.  Luckily, he approved.

Then came the sewing.  This is a great project for a new sewer because there is very little sewing to be done.  .  I didn't even bother to pin my pieces together.  I just fed them right on through.  Follow The Cottage Mama's tutorial and you'll see how easy it is.  Best of all, there's only a little hand sewing required at the end to finish up your scarf.

In about half an hour from start to finish, I had my scarf.  It goes great with my poor eggplant colored coat with the too long lining.  (This is the one I talked about in my Favorite Colors Swap post). 

And here's a close up of the fabric.  I think it will be great for fall and probably even winter.  It's warm, but not too tight, doesn't itch, and it's a classic pattern.

So, if you need a project to get your creative mojo going, this could be the one.  I kind of want to make a bunch more of these in all different fabrics and prints.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fill Up Your Queue

When it's summer, I want to be outside, digging in the dirt, or even reading a book outside, but when winter comes, I want to hibernate.  I want to curl up on the couch under blankets and watch movies or television series.  Am I the only person who feels like completing a tv show is an accomplishment?  I know it's not, but it still feels like it.  So without further ado, here's my recommendations to watch this winter.  I only have local channels and Netflix here.  No satellite dish, no cable.  So, all these recommendations are available on Netflix, but you can probably find them elsewhere online too.


Safety Not Guaranteed

Cute little indie movie starring Audrey Plaza (from "Parks and Rec"), Mark Duplass, and Jake Johnson (from "New Girl"), involving a man trying to travel back in time who places a personal ad looking for some to travel with him.  Some reporters go undercover to see if this guy really believes he can travel in time.


A classic with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant playing the leads in this spy comedy/drama.  Audrey Hepburn plays a widow trying to figure out who killed her husband and why.  She's not sure who she can trust.  It has action, comedy, romanace, and drama.  A great classic.


Clueless is great on a snowy day to just sit inside and watch with hot cocoa and snacks.  Alicia Silverstone is great as ditzy Cher and it's a nice mindless watch that will make you laugh.


Numb3rs is a great crime drama that has a way of making math seem super useful and plausible.  It's the story of two brothers- the older an FBI agent, and the younger a math genius who works as a college professor.  They team up frequently to solve cases together.  All six seasons are on Netflix and the series does a great job of flushing out the brothers, their father, and their coworkers both at the FBI and the college.  If you like shows like CSI or Criminal Minds, I think you'd like this one.


Total guilty pleasure.  It's unrealistic, completely improbable and crazy fun.  The main character's father was framed as a terrorist and she's grown up to decide to get revenge on the family that framed her father.  It involves swapping identities, black mail, false alliances, etc.  I watched the first season and loved it.  I started the second, but haven't gotten very far yet.


There's eight seasons of Bones available on Netflix.  I know this isn't a realistic show, but there's just enough  "science" and action in it to keep you entertained.  The characters and stories are interesting.  Temperance Brennan starts out as a literal, unhumorous person who grows as the series progresses through the patience of her friends/ coworkers.  It's fun to watch and I like to watch it while I sew or craft.

Doctor Who

No list of television recommendations would be complete without my favorite television show.  If you haven't watched Doctor Who and don't understand the whole hullabaloo is about, you really should give it a chance.  I recommend you watch the first nine episodes before you decide if it's for you or not.  You have to give it a chance to grow on you.  Doctor Who is hard to describe, because giving synopses of an episode, makes it sound all corny and dumb.  But watching it in person, it's so entertaining.  It has heart and will make you cry and make you laugh with silly jokes that bounce around from several episodes.  There's things that won't seem to fit until later on.  Doctor Who travels through space and time.  As a general rule, I prefer the episodes that travel through time.  "Vincent and the Doctor" in series five involves a visit to Vincent Van Gogh and is probably my favorite episode.  The first six seasons are available on Netflix.

So, any recommendations of shows I should be watching?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Veggie Barley Soup

This isn't a recipe so much as some basic instructions.  What I love about soup is that you can do pretty much whatever you want and it will probably turn out.  You can add more of one type of veggie, skip another one totally, whatever your little heart desires and somehow it works.  Here's the "formula" I use when making veggie soup.

Start with fresh veggies.  I know some recipes call for cans of things or frozen things, but I think fresh always has more flavor.  For today's soup I used leeks and carrots from the farmer's market, kale and parsley from my garden, and mushrooms and celery from the grocery store.

Then chop up veggies that are going to give flavor to the soup broth.  In this case it's my leeks (three of them) and celery (two stalks).  You could also use onions, garlic or any combo of these.

Once you have them into small pieces, add them to your soup pot with a drizzle of oil or a tablespoon or two of butter.  Saute these on low heat until your veggies are tender.  I always add my mushrooms next and stir until tender.  I like mushrooms so I usually use a whole pack, but if you don't like mushrooms, feel free to skip them.  After that, you add your root vegetables.  I used carrots (three, but you can use more or less), but you can also use turnips, parsnips, or potatoes, or again, any combination of these.  I also added a handful of chopped parsley.  Give them a couple stirs and then add your broth.  I usually use 4 to 6 cups of broth.  If I'm using barley, couscous, rice or quinoa, I use more broth than if i use orzo or egg noodles, because grains tend to suck up more of the broth than noodles do.

If you're adding meat, be sure it's precooked it and add it now.  If I use chicken I like to let it simmer on the stove for a while.  You could also use ground hamburger, chunks of stew meat, or a cut up round steak.  I usually just use veggies.

Turn the heat to medium or medium-high, and wait for the broth to start to boil.  Then add your grain or noodle.  Remember that barley and other grains take longer to cook than noodles or orzo will.  Once my pasta or grain is cooked, I like to add a bunch of chopped kale and let it simmer until done.  Once the kale is tender (which only takes 5-10 minutes) your soup is ready to eat. 

This soup tastes great warmed up and it wonderful when you have a cold or just need something warm and yummy.  It's also a good way to use up veggies that have been living in your refrigerator's crisper for a while and are getting kind of wilty and sad.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fabric Love

I have a new affiliate to tell you guys about.  I only like to link up with companies that I would actually buy from and this one fits the bill.  I've bought from them several times in the past.  I live in a small town.  There's a small, independent fabric shop in my town that stocks a lot of quilting cottons, but most of them do not fit my personal style.  So, I often buy fabric online.  I love (affiliate link)

They ship fast and offer free shipping, and if you spend $35 or more.  That's easy enough to do.  They offer quilting cottons and apparel fabrics, as well as notions, patterns, and knitting and crocheting supplies.  They offer a wide variety of price points.  There's a bargain bin for $2.95 a yard and it goes up from there.  Here are some of the cool prints I found today.

Top Row: 1st- Michael Miller Les Amis Socks the Fox in Aqua; 2nd- Premier Prints Amore in Onyx and Natural; 3rd- Moda Blitzen Christmas Creatures in Red

Middle Row: 1st- Premier Prints Small Dandelion in Baby Pink; 2nd- Amy Butler Love Bliss Bouquet Teal 3rd-Once Upon A Time Princess Kingdom in White

Bottom Row: 1st- Swavelle/Mill Creek Brookwater Celedon; 2nd-Michael Miller Out To Sea My Favorite Ship in Bloom Pink; 3rd-Cynthia Rowley Paintbox Pointillism Primary (affiliate link) offers many of the top designers- Amy Butler, Michael Miller, Alexander Henry, Dear Stella, Kaffee Fassett, Kokka, Riley Blake, Moda, they're all there.  You can search by designer, color, polka dots, stripes, whatever you like.  So, go check them out already.  But I'm warning you, you may need more storage space.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tired and Burned Out

This is how I feel.  It started about a week ago.  I came into work and one person asked me if I was sick because I didn't look like I felt good.  About ten minutes later someone asked me if I was tired.  I'm not a perky person, but I like to think that I don't show up to work already looking half dead (everyone knows that's how you look at the end of a shift here).

Then, a few days later, the new schedule came out and I saw I was scheduled for a stretch of eight days in a row, with a solitary day off before the stretch starts and another single day off at the end of the stretch.  Yuck.  I work the afternoon shift, so I have my mornings free, but that many days in a row is enough to drain any energy from me just thinking about it.

I haven't felt very creative this past week and have just been doing laundry, dishes, and trying to keep the cat hair buildup to a minimum.  I know everyone says you need to keep creating even when you feel tired, but it's hard for me to feel like creating if my house is gross.  But creating gives a person energy, and not creating makes you feel more tired. 

The final straw came yesterday.  I had to work a day shift, which means being at work at an hour when I'm normally still sleeping.  Today, I woke up feeling bone tired.  And with a baby headache that has been steadily growing as the morning progressed.

Here's my action plan for days when I just feel cruddy.
  1. Don't skip coffee.  Sometimes a little caffeine can numb the headache.
  2. Eat real food.  On days like this, granola bars and junk foods are out.  I made a pot of broccoli and cheese soup.  Enjoy some comfort food or at least homemade hot cocoa.
  3. Get some fresh air.  It's still warm enough to open the windows and let the breeze in.  I went outside and sat on the steps for a while enjoying the crispiness.  A walk is also a good choice
  4.  Keep up on easy tasks.  I always choose laundry and dishes.  Luckily, with only two people in my house, it's not too hard, but at least that way you feel like your making progress. 
  5. Play some music. I'm taking full advantage of Pandora streaming from my TV and streaming some early 2000s stuff I haven't listened to for a while.

    But, I'm still tired and a few hours from now I have to be to work for my afternoon shift.  So, we're moving on to number six...
  6. Give yourself permission to be lazy.  Take a nap or a bath.  Curl up on the couch and stream some mindless TV or lay in bed reading a book.  Sometimes your body just wants to rest.  And you have to let it.  If you can't pull yourself out of the funk, don't force it.  One day (or morning) spent resting is often all it takes to recharge my batteries.
 Hope you all are having happy productive days and if you're not, give yourself permission to go to bed early, soak in a nice hot bath, or put your PJs on as soon as you get home.  Everything will seem better in the morning.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I'm Sensing A Pattern Here- Sherlock Holmes

Do you ever go through spurts where you become somewhat obsessed with something.  I remember when "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" came out, I loved it.  It made me want to learn Mandarin and calligraphy. (Surprisingly, not martial arts but I live in rural Wisconsin.  It'd be much easier to buy a cow here than find anyone to teach me even basic karate.)  I fell in love with the soundtrack which lead to a love of Yo Yo Ma.  I watched several more period martial arts films, but "Crouching Tiger" was always my favorite.  And, thirteen years later I still have a soft spot for it.

Anyhow, my latest semi-obsession (now that I'm older, it's harder to get totally absorbed in a movie, type of music, or book, things like work get in the way) is with Sherlock Holmes.  I read The Sign of Four and  The Hound of Baskervilles years ago but I cannot even remember what I thought of them.  I think I liked them, but I never got any farther in my Sherlock Holmes canon.  I watched both movies starring Robert Downey Jr.  and Jude Law, but they didn't really impress me. 

Then I started getting interested in the BBC "Sherlock" series.  I got hooked after the first episode of season 2 on PBS and immediately went back and watched the first season on Netflix. 

BBC's Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman
Sherlock is the genius with very little social skills.  He can be unkind and even somewhat mean, but John Watson is there to call him out on it.  I really like Watson and this series does a good job of making you like both characters and really care about what is happening to them.  Andrew Scott plays Jim Moriarty.  He's a bad guy, but a smart bad guy.  I like that he's not some brute running around with a gun.  He's conniving and twisted and played in a way that you will totally love to hate him.  This series holds the original stories close and just puts it's own twist on them.  Word on the street is Season 3 will release in 2014.

Since I enjoyed this series so much, I decided to give "Elementary" a try.  It's a show on CBS.  I don't get CBS, but Season 1 just released on Netflix a few weeks ago.  Johnny Lee Miller plays Sherlock Holmes, a recovering drug addict who has moved to New York for a fresh start and is consulting with NYPD.  Lucy Liu plays Joan Watson, a doctor who lost her medical license and is hired by Sherlock's father to be his "sober companion" and keep him on the straight and narrow.
Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu
I really like this series too, and if I had to choose a favorite between the BBC Sherlock and Elementary, I don't know which I'd choose.  I like that Watson is a girl in this series, yet her and Sherlock aren't making googly eyes at each other.  They do have chemistry though, it's just more of a platonic best friend kind.  Sherlock has more charisma in this version than in the BBC's, but he can still be obtuse about feelings at times.  I'm almost through with the first season, and really enjoying it.  This series uses it's own cases, so there's no retelling of an Conan Doyle tale here.

Finally, I found The Sherlockian by Graham Moore at the thrift store on one of my explorations with my friend Lori.  It looked intriguing and I figured for a buck, it'd be worth a chance.
The Sherlockian
This book is about a Sherlock Holmes superfan investigating the murder of a Holmes scholar as well as Arthur Conan Doyle investigating the murder of some young women suffragists with the help of his friend Bram Stoker.  Each chapter alternates between the two stories and ends by tying the two together.  It was  an interesting read and I learned a lot of Sherlock Holmes facts as well as some about Arthur Conan Doyle.  If you're a Sherlock fan I think it's worth the read.  It's not life changing, but it is entertaining.

So, anything that has lead you down a rabbit hole lately? 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Finish- Bailey Bear Plush

So, I always see these cute plushies on the internet, but always think I don't need to spend time making stuffed animals since I don't have any kids and I don't think a grown woman needs a bunch of stuffed animals laying around.  But I still pin a lot of patterns because they're so darn cute.  Then, last week, Michelle's Patterns (affiliate link) had an adorable teddy bear for their Friday special.  The pattern was on sale for $5 and he looked to be easy to make and was so cute, well, I couldn't say no.

The Bailey Bear pattern is actually from Shiny Happy World and you can get the pattern by clicking on the link or by purchasing it on Craftsy (affiliate link).  He's about 10 inches tall and goes together super quick.  The pattern said 4-5 hours, but I think I had him done in about 2 and I was watching television while I cut him out.

My finished bear.

I hand stitched his eyes, mouth, and nose (the original pattern says to cut a small piece of felt for his nose).  I really like that the pattern doesn't entail a lot of pieces nor use a lot of fabric.  It's a good scrap buster or if you have some fat quarters laying around, you can use those.  I plan on making some more for our church's craft fair that is coming up next weekend.

If you're a new sewer and looking for an easy project that will give you cute results, you should really check this one out.  There's even videos embedded in the pattern in case you get stuck along the way.  And if there's any kids in your life, I think they'd love a Bailey Bear.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Artisan Bread Making- Lesson 5 Country Variation and Shaping

I have today off from work and didn't feel like going anywhere so I decided it'd be a good day to do the next lesson in my Craftsy Artisan Bread Class (affiliate link).  Lesson 5 is about the country variation.  Country variation is about adding a small amount of whole grain to the flour to alter it's taste and weight.  I used a ratio of 10% buckwheat flour to 90% bread flour.  You can use whatever type of flour you like, or a mixture I suppose.

The rest of the method is the same.  I started my bread from scratch rather than using the poolish method this time.  So, it took a little longer, but I just folded laundry and did dishes and such during my twenty minute rest periods.

The rest of the lesson was about different shaping methods for your dough.  In the three previous lessons, Peter Reinhart, the instructor, only talks about the boule, batard, and baguette.  In this lesson, he shows how to make an epi, tabatiere, fougasse, fendu, and pistoulet.  Peter recommends focusing on mastering one type and then moving on to another.  I decided to focus on the epi, but I also made a fougasse.  I didn't take any pictures of the fougasse (also called ladder bread) because it didn't look too tasty while I was making it.  But, it tastes delicious.  I'm kind of sad, I didn't take any pictures.

Anyway, there's always next time.  On to the epi.  Epi is from a French word that describes the head of a stalk of wheat and the bread is supposed to look kind of like a it.  So, you roll out your baguettes like normal.

Not very appetizing, but it'll get better.

So next, you let the dough rest for about five minutes.  Then you shape your into what it will look like before you put it in the oven.  To make the shape you use scissors to cut gashes in you bread.  You can pull your cut segments to the sides so it looks like a head of wheat or you can flip you segments back to kind of look like little mini rolls.  I did one of each.

They'll look better.  I promise.
Then let them rest about an hour and pop them in the oven.  Same way as the before but for less time.  And then this is what you get.

Ta dah!  Yummy little pull apart rolls.
The end result is pretty tasty.  The little bit of buckwheat flour gives it a nice texture and the end result is super moist and delicious.  I cannot believe how much better my bread making skills have gotten after only five lessons!  I just wish I had a little more willpower to keep me from eating so much of it.  Honestly though, who can resist homemade bread?

Online Bread Making Class