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No Gluten for me, please

Happy Monday everyone,

I hope that everyone had a great Father’s Day and that your Dad’s were appreciated accordingly. 

I decided to cook brunch for my father and husband this year.  I did this for two reasons: 1) we are about to go on vacation next week and I must reserve as much moula as possible for the trip; and 2) one of my best friends, Sylvana, was in town and we had decided that I would cook for her when she came because she had not yet seen the house and she loves my cooking.

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She’s going to kill me for putting her picture out there because she has on no makeup, but I think she’s beautiful even when relaxing before a plane ride.  Sylvana has a wonderful job as a Project Manager for a CRO (Clinical Research Org) that has cause her to move away from me so I’m really happy to get the opportunity to hang with her whenever I can.  Her visits are never really long because she travels so much for work, so when we were planning this visit we had to make every moment count. 

Last week when I was planning my menu for brunch I had all these things pop into my head that would be awesome and that I know she, my dad, and husband would love.  Suddenly I remembered that I need to bring it back a notch because Syl has recently switched to a gluten-free diet, due to medical reasons.  What to do…what to do? I knew I could cook some main dishes gluten-free, but what about dessert?  I did some pricing research for gluten-free flour and I picked my mouth up off the floor and started thinking again.  ($6 for a 2 1/2 lb bag of flour people…really 😦 )  I thought I would make something light a refreshing and something I know she’ll love…Lemon Tarts. 🙂  Right up until Sunday morning I was thinking I would do a graham cracker crust for the tarts.  I awoke at 4 am and thought, NO!!! graham crackers are made with flour you goof-ball.  Right after it hit me…RICE FLOUR.  I’m going to make a regular pastry using rice flour instead of all-purpose flour. 

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Using my “Joy of Cooking” Flaky Pastry Recipe, I substituted the rice flour for the all-purpose flour. The end result seemed a little grainier than what my regular pastry dough felt like.  018

This is what it looked like before I added the ice water.  Looks about the same right?  It just felt a little different.  After adding the water and getting it formed into a ball (I have found that when I’m making bread and pastry/pie dough I like to do the process by hand and have stopped using the mixer – with dough hook, and food processor) I didn’t want to chance trying to roll the pastry out later.  I grabbed my jumbo muffin tin and pressed the dough in the cups and placed the tin in the frig to chill while I made the filling. 

The crust weren’t the prettiest things in the world, but they turned out really good.  I had to pack Sylvana’s to go because she had a plane to catch and she had stuffed herself with brunch she couldn’t eat the dessert protion (she thought the fruit parfait was dessert :)) .  I had one served with whipped cream and I had to toot my own horn.  Toot Toot!  They were really light and the crust was still flaky and tasted great.  I guess I can go gluten-free.

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Do you have any great gluten-free dessert recipes?  I would love to hear about them.

 

Gluten-Free Pastry Dough

2 1/2 cups rice flour

1/2 cup shortening, chilled

1/2 cup butter, very cold

1 tsp sugar

pinch of salt

enough ice water to bring together, about 1/3 cup

Combine flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut in the shortening and butter using a pastry blender until pea-sized balls are seen. (See picture above.  You could also use a food processor but you should pulse until you get the right consistency).  Slowly add water – I used a tablespoon and added the first 5 then mixed and added a tablespoon at a time to make sure that I didn’t add too much liquid.  When it seems as if it’s maybe going to come together then you should move it to your countertop and bring together to form a ball.  At this point you can wrap it in plastic wrap to chill or press into your pan to form your pastry.  If you  go straight to the pan I would suggest you place it in the frig to chill before baking or filling.

Lemon Tart Filling (courtesy of Paula Dean)

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (I used 2 1/2 lemons)

2 tbsp sour cream

4 eggs

1/2 cup sugar (her recipe called for confectioners sugar but I used granulated)

Zest of a lemon (her recipe did not call for this, but I added because I just had to. 😉

Combine the ingredients and pour into “blind-baked” tart shells.  Bake 18-20 minutes.  Let them cool and serve with whipped cream.

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Lawn & Patio

As I’ve may have mentioned before our back yard is a blank canvas.

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We entertain quite a bit and our previous home had the backyard that allowed for all of our outdoor entertaining needs.  One of the first “projects” that we have set is to get something going with the landscaping and backyard portion of our home.

A couple of weekends ago The Lawn and Patio Show came to our town.  WooHoo! Smile  The family packed up and headed out (camera in hand).  So many pretty flowers and trees.  So many pretty flowers and trees.

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I don’t know about anyone else, but I love, love, love Hydrangeas.  I want about 10 bushes in my backyard, but I’ve heard their hard to grow.  Sad smile

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We will soon have a wonderful fence put up.  We’ve never had a fence before, just liked the open feel you get from not having a fence.  But now we live on a corner lot, so decided to go with a wrought iron fence (actually it’s aluminum – you get the same look without the possibility of rust or the high cost).  Once we have our fence in place we’ll have the front yard landscaping done and then move on to the patio and deck.  We’re still trying to figure out what to do.  Here are a few options…

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We definitely want some type of pergola or way to provide shade.

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We have space for something this grand.

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Definitely want a space to have a seat.  And since we are definitely getting concrete, I’ve been checking out different ways to keep it from looking so bland.  I’m loving this…

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Yep, that’s stamped concrete.  How about something like this for a pathway option?

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I couldn’t my post without a shot of the baby doll in all of her perfect posing beauty.  She came up with that pose herself.  Can you tell why I call her baby doll?

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If you have any great ideas for landscaping or patio décor, I’d love to hear about it.

Lonnita

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This woman’s work

Happy Tuesday everyone!

I originallly had planned to start this post out with ‘Happy Monday everyone!’, but life intruded on this post so it had to be put off for another day.  What could be SO important that I would neglect my duties to this blog you may ask?  Well I tell you…my duties as a wife and mother took over yesterday and would not let go of me until about 10pm.  I hope that everyone had a wonderfully blessed Mother’s Day and that you celebrated it accordingly.  I have a very dear friend whose mother past about three weeks ago…she had a rough day on Sunday.  The slightly funny part was that she expected herself to be okay this Mother’s Day.  She called to say that she was walking the dog before getting ready for church and broke down in the middle of the street.  She said the dog turned around and looked at her like she was losing it (don’t just love dogs).  I told her you lost your mother three weeks ago and it’s mothers day…even I knew you weren’t going to be good, I have no idea why you thought you would be fine. 

Anywho enough sadness and teary smiles on to the point of this blog…  As I said, my intentions to blog became waylaid with life so I thought I would take the time out to give you a rundown of my day and maybe you’ll understand my inability and give me a pass.  It all began at 6:02 am when the alarm went off.  I had been awake already for about 20 minutes, but it really felt great to lay there so I didn’t move until that buzzer went off.  I got up did my Monday morning routine of visiting the porcelain throne and then brushing the gunk out of my mouth.  I sat at my computer for a few to check the weather forecast for the day so that I could figure out what to put on the baby doll.  I then headed down stairs and began making lunches for my guys and cleaning up the kitchen.  You see even though Mother’s Day was Sunday, the dishes were not getting washed and suficiet to say the dishwasher had dishes from the load I had run on Saturday and no one was going to put them away so that a new load could be added; so was stuck doing that and washing my knifes and pots that I would day put in the dishwasher. 

7:00 am  – I’m back upstairs making sure my baby doll is up and moving around and I begin the process of removing sheets off the beds and making them and making sure her clothes are ironed and the ready to go. 

7:30 am – I’m back downstairs getting breakfast ready and insuring that lunches are ready for everyone to walk out the door.  

8:00 am – I begin to make up my granola that I wanted to make last week but realized I was out of wheat germ and had to cancel.  (This is what my post was originally going to be about…making on the fly granola.  I will add that recipe at the end along with pics for you to admire). 

8:20 am – While the granola is in the oven for the first leg of the baking process, I go back upstairs to get the sheets and make up my bed.  I had 20 minutes to do this and I promise it just about took all of that time to get the stinking duvet in the cover!

8:40 am – the timer goes off and I’m back downstairs to turn the granola and I set the timer again for another 20 minutes.  This time I stay downstairs, get the sheets in the washer and begin to hang the pictures up in the kitchen that I’ve put off for the past 3 weeks.  I ended up having to get out my level because my naked eye kept telling me they were off-balance even though the level said they weren’t. 

9:00 am – I’m finishing up granola (boy did it smell good) and I’m back upstairs plastic gloves and cleaning supplies in hand so that I can tackle the bathrooms.  I take my camera upstairs so that I can get the granola pics off and get this post done.  Then I remember!…I have an appointment at noon to turn in paperwork for Kristian.  OMG!!!  I haven’t taken a shower and I’m up to my elbows with Kaboom and Windex.  Crap! 😦  I gotta get this stuff done.

9:15 am – I take down the laundry to the “laundry closet”  (It is really THAT small.  In the next house, I’m either getting a ROOM upstairs or a laundry shoot to the ROOM downstairs.  I’m stressing the word room for a reason folks. :)) I separate and begin the process.  I actually get all of the laundry done with the exception of a miniscule load of whites. 

9:30 am – I’m back upstairs cleaning the bathroom and editing the pictures for the blog.  I can’t even begin to explain how I was doing both, but I really was.

10:00 am – I’m back downstairs with the laundry and I start making the pasta sauce that I need for dinner tonight.  This is when I realize that I need to be leaving in about an hour I’m going to make my appointment on time.  I still need to take a shower and there is no way I’m leaving on time because I still trying to edit pic (the things I do for this blog.).  I go find my phone and set the time back by a half hour. 

10:30 am – I finally get in the shower.  I get dressed, put a load of laundry in the dryer, turn off the pasta sauce and I’m out the door by 11:30 am.

1:00 pm – I’ve made it to my appointment.  We finish up in 30 minutes.  My mother asks me to take her to DSW for a quick look even though neither of us are in a position to buy.  As things go we see several items that we “must have”, but can’t buy (thank God for making us good stewards over that which his has blessed us.).  We walk out of the store empty-handed and head back so that I can get my baby doll off the bus at 2:40. 

2:40 pm – Either I’m late or the bus is early, because I’m three cars behind it and can’t get in front because it’s a school bus. 😦  I park and wait for the bus to turn-around.

3:15 pm – We get home and I start making raisin cookies as a snack for the week AND I will be taking some to book club tonight.  I also begin making dinner. 

4:30 pm – I’ve finished the cookies and dinner and I’ve started folding more laundry. 

5:10 pm – We head off to ballet class.

6:30 pm – Stan and I head out for our nightly walk (I still haven’t eaten dinner yet).

7:15 pm – I FINALLY sit down to dinner and a big glass of wine (why did I do this when I was tired…it only made things worst – I was even more tired)

8:00 pm – I’m putting lotion on the baby doll after her shower and about to head up so that we can do our daily reading.

8:30 pm – I’m reading the book (book 4 of the Sugar Plum Ballerina’s series by Whoopi Goldberg).

10:00 pm – I go to bed after not being able to hang out any longer.

Folks, it was like a nonstop work-a-thon and this was my day off work.  But I got MOST of the things that I wanted to get done completed.  Now I’m going to supply you with the granola steps that I wanted to give you yesterday.  By the way…I start my granola with 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup canola oil, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 cup cranberry juice, and 1 tsp vanilla.  I mix all of that in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.  I pour those over 3 1/2 cups of oats, 1 cup wheat germ, 1/2 cup slivered almonds, and 1/2 cup of walnuts.  I pour this onto a baking sheet lined with nonstick aluminum foil. And place in a 300 degree oven.  Now I have made this healthier with no butter and honey and not as much brown sugar, but this time I wanted to splurge.  This is what it looks like before going into the oven.

I set the timer for twenty minutes.

And go upstairs to finish making the beds when the timer goes off,  I came back down toss the granola so that it can cook evenly and set the timer for another 20 minutes and then hang up those pictures I’ve been meaning to get to.

A level and a much frustration later, I’ve got up them on the wall and I’m taking out my sweet smelling granola.

This is what you should have at this point.

I usually add my dried fruit at this point.  A lot of people suggest you cook it with the oats and nuts, but I’ve been unsuccessful with this option.  My fruit always seems to end up tasting burnt.  I place it over the hot granola and it still get some of the heat and essence included.  I used raisins and cranberries for this mix.

After it has cooled about 20 minutes (20 the magic number) I toss everything together.  This will give you the nuggets you want.  Doesn’t it look yummy?

I would be remiss if I didn’t take a picture of the one item that had me holding out a week to make my granola.  I have got to find a place to buy it and not feel like I’m being robbed.  I think I may need to find a health food store that sells it in bulk.  I really do eat a lot of granola (I love it with yogurt, on ice cream, out of my hands as a snack).  It only makes sense to have it around when I need it and not have to pay $5 for that little jar.

I hope that you guys try the granola recipe and that you enjoy it as much as I do.  You have to try it with Key Lime yogurt…it’s like a key lime pie that’s healthy for you.

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I’ve found something new…

I was checking out one of my favorite blog sites today, Centsational Girl, and her post for today featured this beautiful armoire from another site – Visual Vocabulary.  Oh my goodness, this thing was beautiful.  I reminded me a little of the armoire that I had refinished last year.  It also gave me an idea how to improve upon it.  I’ve been unhappy with the way the inside looks, but after seeing Jesyka’s armoire I now know what to do.  I will put up pictures once I get it completed. 

Something else I’ve learned from Jesyka’s blog is the concept of an inspiration board”.  I love to entertain and can spend months putting my events together.  I usually accumulate tons of post-it notes and sheets of paper with ideas written on it but I’ve never created a board to place them all on.  I have two events coming up within the next couple of the months that I will need to carefully plan.  With learning about inspiration boards, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t use one to maybe make things a little clearer. 

Kristian’s birthday is in May and my mothers is in June.  I always have a party for my babydoll and I’ve just begun to think about the plans for it.  My mother informed me earlier this week that she would like a party this year and I’ve begun working with my siblings to make sure that this was a success as well.  Folks, I’m about the make up two inspiration boards.  All of these ideas that are stuck in my head dying to get out are about to go on a board.  I will let you guys know how much help they will be and post the pictures of the boards  when I get them done.  In the meantime….take a look at Jesyka’s site; I think you’ll become a fan just as I have.

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My space

We move back into the house in about two weeks and I am trying to get myself together so that I can pack stuff up.  The problem with this is…how do I determine what to pack up that I won’t need in the next two weeks?  There’s really not much that I have in my apartment that I don’t use on at least a weekly basis. 

Today I finally pulled out some of the dishes that I’ve purchased that I will use for entertaining and wrapped and placed them in a box.  This small amount of items (champagne flutes, teacups and saucers) does not begin to touch the surface of items that I have.  It’s wierd…when I moved into the apartment, there was so much that I didn’t have and we could have packed up our stuff in a couple of cars in one trip.  Mind you it was mostly our clothes and a few pieces of furniture, but we moved it in the apartment in one afternoon. 

Now I’m going to have to place a lot of my items of furniture in storage.  This makes me slightly sad 😦 because I love all of the items of furniture in my home and I don’t want to be parted from them for even a day.  But until we move into our new home (we are still searching for this elusive home), we just don’t have the room to bring my furniture back into the house.  I REFUSE to give one iota of furniture to someone else because been-there-done-that.  It didn’t go well and likes I’ve just stated I LOVE all of the items in my place.  There is a story behind just about everything and if you don’t believe me, take a look at all of the DIY projects on this site and you will see them. 

Don’t get me wrong folks….I’m extremely excited about being back in the same home as my husband.  I think that our time apart has helped us both to grow infinitesimally, but I feel that I will miss some aspects of us being apart.  I remember a conversation that I had with a friend whom had been separated from her husband, that her husband always wanted to be around her and she really missed her time alone.  At the time I thought it was a little odd that she would say that and I wondered if she was “appreciating” that they had reconciled and she had her family back.  Currently I find myself feeling the same way and I haven’t even moved back in yet.  This is my weekend to myself and I love the fact that I can do what I want to do. 

 I don’t know if I’ve ever expressed the need for “me time”.  With the new trend of the “mom cave”, you have to wonder if I’m alone in this need for a space where I can go and just do me.  It’s something that I look for when we’re looking at houses.  I really want a craft room/office/library.  This will be my place to go to scrapbook, read, work…my santuary.  It doesn’t need to be huge, but I feel that it has to be and I don’t think the bathroom will count. 🙂  Do you have a “mom’s cave”?  A place where you can go and have your personal time?  Is it a closet or room?

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Can you really tell the difference?

As I continue to keep my grocery bill down to something reasonable by couponing and steady meal planning; the age-old question about store-brand vs. name-brand comes up.  There are people that feel like the only way to go is to buy the name-brand products….the store-brand just don’t compare.  There are others that say, no way… the store-brands have changed over the past years and are now just as good if not better than the name brands and you are able to save substantially.

So where do I fall in this debate?  Before I give my answer let me preface by saying that I love to cook and because I love to cook ALL things (The exception will be liver and anything that contains it and brussel sprouts.  I have not acquired a taste for either of these foods..I don’t eat beans either, but I can cook some really good ones.) some of the ingredients that I require mean I have to spend a little more moolah.  I mean honestly folks, the price of butter and eggs alone can be a burden for someone like me that bakes EVERY week.  I use REAL BUTTER, I bought margarine for the Pig Cake recipe I got from The Pioneer Lady site, but I have not touched it since then.  I’m not even going to touch the subject of Cake Flour and Sugar.  Really people why can’t they offer cake flour in bulk?  I’d buy it.  And I’m not talking about pastry flour…cake flour is lighter in density than pastry flour and I want light cakes unless it’s supposed to be dense (ie. a pound cake). 

But I digress…I’m talking about the difference between store-brand and name-brand and where do I stand.  I buy both.  Butter is butter…milk is milk…chicken is chicken…frozen veggies is frozen veggies…pasta is pasta.  A lot of the staples that we consume in our home are store-brand.  Don’t get me wrong I will buy the name brand if it is on sale or I have a coupon for a greater price than the store brand.  Now the all important question is what won’t I buy in the store brand.  I will not buy the fruit snacks, fruit cups, anything fruit related, crackers or cookies that I’m not using to back or cook with (the ones we eat for our enjoyment), microwave popcorn and ice cream.  Why do I not buy these items you ask?  I’ve tried them before and boy are they  not the same.  I remember vividly one time buying store-brand graham cracker sticks for Kristian and Stan saying not to get them because they looked really generic and unappetizing.  I protested no they were the same as Kebbler.  One day my baby was eating one of the store brand graham cracker and it was looking kindof mushy, so I tried it.  It wasn’t Kebbler. 😦  I threw out the box and bought my baby some Kebbler graham crackers and never gave her a store brand again.  Another time…applesauce cups.  You know the Mott’s brand that come in all of the different flavors (strawberry, pear, etc.), well I bought the store brand thinking to save a buck.  Don’t do it folks there is a different in taste.  Through trial and some horrible tasting errors I have learned that all things are not equal. 

So what made me post about this question you may wonder?  Waffle bowls.  In our household we love our ice cream.  Blue Bell is making a nice profit off us right now (Edy’s isn’t doing too bad either).  But we don’t just eat the ice cream…we have to have the waffle bowl to put it in.  This time of year you can’t find a waffle bowl on sale to save your life and I really wanted some The Great Divide (half chocolate half vanilla) ice cream in a waffle bowl.  I bought the store brand because it was $.75 less.  That night I was so excited to have my ice cream…I had to struggle to get it out of the wrapper, but who cares, I was about to indulge in a little taste of heaven.  The ice cream was awesome…Blue Bell never lets me down.  The waffle bowl was not. 😦  Take it from me folks buy the Kebbler bowls.  You really CAN tell the difference.

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Dogs, dogs, dogs…

 

 Note: This blog was originally drafted last Tuesday 2/15, but due to me trying to figure out how to get pics off my phone, it took me this long to add the pictures and post.  I really wanted to post this so I didn’t discard the post.  Also….as we all know the Duck Hound won the Westminster this year.  Congrats to the owners and handlers. This week the Westminster Kennel Club dog show is airing on the USA network.  Last night Kristian and I was rooting for Molly, the 15-inch Beagal, to win the Working Dog category.  She lost to the Duck Hound. 😦 It’s interesting because our family attending a dog show this past Saturday at the fairgrounds.  Our family is currently looking to purchase a new family pet.  It has been three years since our beloved Solomon died and we areal ready to open our hearts to another four-legged family member.  Although we have pretty much decided to go with a Weimaraner this time around, we thought it would be a good idea to talk with some breeders/owners and look at what other breeds are available (who knows I might be able to convince my husband that a Newfoundland is not too big and hairy for our family. :)).  

The Indy Winter Dog Show is not as grand as the Westminster, but our family was awe-struck just the same.  If you are a dog lover and get the chance to attend a dog show, GO.  It was the most amazing thing.  We saw some beautiful dogs, some I was familiar with and some new breeds.  I fell in love with all of the big dogs, like the Newfoundland’s, (He’s only 6 months old & look at that face.)    (this one is full grown) , the Bernise Mountain dog  and St. Bernard’s.  I know they have way too much hair for me to be comfortable with, but they are soooo cute and cuddly and they are really good with children.

Unfortunately I did not remember to bring my new fancy-schmancy camera.  So I had to use my phone to take pictures.  I still haven’t figured out how to remove photos from my camera to use in this blog; but I’m hopeful.  We talked with different breeders about their dogs and was particularly interested in talking to the Weimaraner breeders.  We found our first owner and the things she told us had my husband walking away saying there was no way we could get that dog with the lifestyle that we had.  It required too much work.  According to her, they needed at least 2 hours of exercise daily (I had originally read 1 hour), and if you do not keep your dog properly exercised they will have a tendency to chew.  Chewing is typical of any dog that is not properly stimulated, but Weimaraners seem to be very analytical; and apparently they will think of ways to get into stuff if their minds are not occupied.  These two facts had my husband shaking his had, “No.” 

Later we talked to some other breeders/owners and heard some contradictory information from the other owner, but it left us thinking, “is this the dog for us?”  We saw some other really pretty breeds, the Flat-Coated Retriever,  Dalmation (one of Kristian’s favorites),   the Irish Setter (my family had one, that was stolen),  Giant Schnauzer ,  the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever,   the Clumber Spaniel,   and the Springer Spaniels  (this was another family favorite that we may actually get if we do not get the Weim). 

It was a great family outing.  We learned a lot about the different breeds out there – like did you know that the Pug is the most shedding breed (those short hairs can drive you crazy), and apparently the poodle is one of the smartest if not the smartest dog around (I don’t care how smart they are, a poodle is not the dog for us).  It gave us something to think about as we search for the next Cork family dog. 

What about you?  Do you have a dog?  Are you watching the Westminster Dog Show?  Who is your favorite?

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