Monday, June 21, 2010

graham crackers

I've been wanting to try making graham crackers at home for a while now, and last week I had a long list of important things to do, I think it maybe included cleaning the bathroom? There was definitely some laundry on there. Anyway, the time was obviously right.

I used the recipe from Angry Chicken, with just a few changes. Since we didn't have any barley flour, I just used white, and I always like more cinnamon in everything than normal people do, so I upped that a little bit.

* 1 cup whole wheat flour
* 1 cup white flour
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon cloves
* 1/2 cup chilled butter
* 1/3-1/2 cup milk (you might not use all of this)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and mix the dry ingredients. The girls helped me by pushing the button on the Cuisinart to cut in the butter, and then pouring in the milk, until the dough made a ball. Then you just knead it for a minute until it's smooth, using enough flour to roll it out and not too much to make it dry. Then we let it chill for about 2 hours, just because we were running errands. I think much less time would work too.

We rolled it out, trying to get an even thickness but failing pretty miserably. I guess just try to get them as even as possible, at whatever thickenss you like graham crackers. I cut them with that adorable little thing whose name I don't know. It is from a wooden box of similarly obscure and rarified cooking tools- a wedding present from my gourmet aunt. I always feel so fancy when I use that stuff.

Then the girls sprinkled the squares with our patented cinnamon sugar shaker, and helped me dot them with holes. After that, I suggest you put them in the oven and watch them like a hawk, because they burn really easily. Chicken's recipe said 15 to 25 minutes, but mine didn't take anywhere near that long. Of course mine were all over the place in terms of thickness, so I guess if you take the time to get that part right, you don't have to worry so much about burning them.

On the upside, even the burned ones were delicious. They are a really great snack to have around- not too sweet to make you feel bad for giving them to the kids all day long. Or eating them yourself...

Friday, June 18, 2010

summer days at home

Even with swim lessons and dance classes and playdates and birthday parties, we are still finding plenty of time to hang around the house.

You would not believe the amount of time I spend everyday expressing admiration of various doodle bugs, milipedes and snails. The number of times I tell Jane to put her pants back on. The number of times I tell Wren she really should not wait until the very last minute to stop what she's doing and run to the bathroom. And of course, the number of times I yell for someone to PLEASE shut the door behind them because we are not air conditioning the neighborhood!

Kids today with their baggy trousers and loud music and not getting off my lawn, etc...

In return, I hear "Mom...I'm bored!" often enough to fulfill my mom's curse upon me in the summer of 1988. Of course, she hoped I would have children who said it as often as I did. Actually I'm not sure we're there yet. This may peak around 8-10? Anyway, it turns out the rules about being bored are the same rules as the ones about 'hurting your own feelings.' That is, you're welcome to do it, but do it somewhere else, preferably with a door that closes. And NEVER in the car.

We've been doing some baking, and some crafting. If we hit a wall this afternoon I might bust out the old playdough recipe. The girls have spray bottles that I occasionally put some food coloring in, and let them go crazy with on the patio.

Chase and I are in the midst of house hunting, preparing to move, packing and all that stuff. I am also experiencing the super fun scatterbrained fuzzyheadedness that is pregnancy, so it feels like I can start a project, but the chances of seeing it through... not so great.

So far, this has one giant exception, and that is making fitted cloth diapers. It's the flip side of that pregnancy coin I guess- the OCD compulsion on nesting stuff. I am cranking these out like you guys would not believe and it is so fun. I'll have to do a post on it soon, but I really want to stop making them just long enough to serve cinnamon toast and watermelon for dinner again, and then get back to the sewing machine...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

On the To-Do List

First up is poor Olive, from two Christmases ago. She has held up well overall, but in some places she is definitely demonstrating the whole "stitch in time" concept.

From here on out, I'll take the time to double stitch dolls as well as any kids apparel I attempt. I'm not even sure how to start patching that. Anyway, she has joined Wren's stick horse in the "out of commission, awaiting repair" corner, which is a sad sad place to be. Most of the other inhabitants are long ignored pairs of Chase's pants.

Next up is another one of these little cushions. I'm very very slowly working my way through the bounty of cut squares from my sister-in-law, and this was the first product.

It has two layers of quilt batting for padding, and the twill tape ties are sandwiched in between the layer of patches and a bottom of muslin. It was relatively fast, but for the next time I might find some interfacing and try this method, which looks very quick and easy.

We have two of the wooden Ikea chairs, and two of the Ikea white plastic death chairs, which I genuinely believe are sentient beings bent on the destruction of anything that sits on them. All of those chairs are regularly pulled into service when we have people over, and since I don't want our guests to feel like we hate them, I'm working to make their seating more comfortable. Also, one of these is my regular sewing chair, and at the midway point of this pregnancy, comfortable seating is becoming more of a priority in my life.

And for a to-do list departure... sunscreen! While this is still crafty, it's definitely a different realm of craftiness.

Yes it's definitely that time of year, and to prove it, the always deeply depressing EWG sunscreen report came out recently. Fun times! Everything in the world is trying to kill your children, especially the things you buy to protect them!

Nothing on the 'approved' list is even remotely affordable in the quantities I need for any given summertime adventure. So out of curiosity Chase and I were reading the ingredients on the one 'good' sunscreen I found at Sun Harvest. It turns out we already have most of them for the batches of deodorant Chase makes pretty frequently. The main thing we're missing is Zinc, and in a few minutes on the internets, he turned up this and this, so we're thinking about trying our hands at making some of our own.

I know, we just get weirder and weirder. Although hopefully less pre-cancerous? Anyway, I'll tell you how it goes.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wonderful Gifts

I opened a surprise package the other day (is there anything better, ever?) from my BFF Kelly, and found these -

most adorable of knitted items in the history of the universe.

I personally think it's an example of kind-hearted delusion in a friend, to estimate such a dainty head size for any potential baby of mine. But obviously her motivations are as a good as her knitting.

My own baby knitting has stalled a bit. I might try to use this time for sewing instead, since I can still maneuver my bulk around the sewing machine. I'm also looking to borrow a serger, if anyone has one they could loan me (and teach me how to use?)

I will probably get back into the knitting in the fall, when I'll be a mostly sedentary creature anyway, and when the temperatures are a bit more conducive to sitting around with a pile of wool on my "lap".

Anyway, thank you friend. These hats are wonderful. I will keep Jane and her scissors far away.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Midnight Baking

One of the best things about baking late at night is eating cupcakes for breakfast.

One of the worst things is being in the middle of The Wire when your husband gets a text from a friend saying it's his birthday, and he hadn't wanted to make any plans, but after all he'd really like it if everyone could meet up at a pub.

It may have been one of the best shows ever, but it just doesn't stack up against emergency-birthday-party-at-a-pub. And what is an emergency party without cupcakes?

So they were made and iced and decorated while Baltimore continued to go to hell in various terrible ways, and then we hit pause and Chase took a plateful to a pub, and I ate one and read my book and went to bed, and the girls had an awesome surprise when they woke up.

It's not even the middle of June and Wren has about 20 new freckles on her face. I remember when she was a new tiny baby and I found her first freckle.

These particular cupcakes lived a short sad life, eaten from the top down, until the icing was gone and -horror- only actual cake was left. Then they were brought inside and set on the corner of the table ("so the ants won't find them and carry them away, Mama") where Ramona quickly sniffed them out and devoured them.

I expect to meet them again pretty soon in the backyard.

Monday, June 7, 2010

First Apron

I've -almost- made aprons a billion times, even to cutting patterns and picking out trim, but this is the first one I've ever actually completed.

I think now that I've made it to one finished apron, I have a chance at making more. I used the Amy Karol pattern, and my traditional construction style (desperately ironing out creases while Chase gets shoes on the kids and does everything else that needs to get done before we leave for the birthday party).

The fabric is the leftover cherries from the baby kimono I made a few weeks ago, and the pocket is placed based entirely on where I like a pocket to be when I'm cooking, unintentionally taking a baby bump into account, so I don't know how useful it will be to the recipient. I suppose she could always just get pregnant.

If anyone is looking for apron inspiration, there is no better place (outside of Anthropologie) than the Tie One On gallery, which is one of the many places I like to waste time wishing I was better at sewing.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day

Hanging up laundry, filling up pink spray bottles again and again...

We put new sand in the sandbox, and I planted flowers with Wren's help and Jane's "help." We coated each other in toxic bug spray and non-toxic sun screen, over and over.

Chase wrapped marinated dove breasts in bacon, and tucked jalapenos in just a few...

We got these from my sister Anne, who got them from the overstuffed freezer at her boyfriend's house. They were delicious. Although we grilled and ate them under the judging eyes and cooing of the neighborhood doves.

Strawberry brown butter Bettys, from Smitten Kitchen. They were so easy and good, and even better for breakfast. Everyone should make them all summer long.

Jane slumped down from the dinner table at 7:30 pm on the dot, and walked straight to her room to get in bed. We let Wren stay up late and eat dessert with the grown-ups.

It was a nice long weekend, well worth the sink full of dishes I woke up to this morning. On Memorial Day it always feels like summer is just stretching out, hot and itchy, forever. I will be forcing the kids into searing car seats, dotting benedryl on a thousand bites, wringing swimsuits out over the bathtub, shaking sand out of tote bags and sweeping dog hair out of corners for the rest of my life.

But it really goes by so fast. I think this summer will go faster than usual, since the second half of a pregnancy tends to warp time like that. And Wren starts KINDERGARTEN in August. I can't even fathom it. In school everyday.

So many things in our family are going to change in the fall. I hope this summer will be so full of good stuff for the kids that they'll remember it for years.