Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rick & Bubba's Big Honkin' Book of Grub by Rick Burgess and Bill "Bubba" Bussey

Even if you (like myself) hadn’t heard of the Rick and Bubba show before, you can still enjoy their southern wisdom and humor in this latest offering from them. This book offers a tongue-in-cheek diet plan, the “Hey, You Gotta Live” diet, with no fussy counting of calories, points, or fat grams. With all the diet plans that tell you what foods to avoid, let me just warn you that Rick and Bubba find very few reasons to say “no” to food, but what did you honestly expect from this pair dubbed “America‘s sexiest fat men”?

This book made me laugh. I enjoyed their coverage of topics ranging from Spam to casseroles to peanut butter to dressing.  Their style is humorous and easy to read. Although there aren’t many recipes in this book, the smattering of included recipes look fairly tasty and easy to fix. What’s not to love about recipes called Rick and Bubba‘s World-Famous “Goat Drop Cookies” or Peanut Butter Bars of Joy ? And I feel much better knowing that choosy sexy fat people choose Jif since that’s the brand I reach for as well (and I thought it was because I was a choosy mom!)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Baby Binky Bunny

Been meaning to make this cute pattern from mmmcrafts for quite a while and had the perfect excuse this week--a baby shower. I made the bunny and a matching blanket for the gift. I decided to try it in denim, lifting my years old ban of denim in my sewing room after a frustrating round of broken needles way back when I tried to sew a skirt for myself as a young teenager. I think it turned out very cute, and it got a lot of "I want ones" at the shower. My mom walked Holly out of the room while the gift was opened because she immediately claimed the bunny as hers when I brought it out of the sewing room yesterday. It took about 3-4 hours for me to sew up, so I didn't have time to run back into the sewing room to make her one.

The pattern is even on sale thru April 3 for 20% bringing the price to $8.00. Visit mmmcrafts Etsy shop to check out this and other cute patterns.

And not to hog the whole post to myself, I've been meaning to share this stained glass picture that I recently had "commissioned" for my kitchen. It's the first big picture that Paul has made from a design picked specifically by me and for me, and I think it turned out rather nice!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hello old friend!

Can it be?

I think it is!

Spring has sprung!

After what has seemed like one of the longest winters since our family moved to WV almost 20 years ago, it's finally behind us. I do feel wary saying that too loud as it may be tempting the fates to give us one final round of the winter, but the calendar and the weather outside are both in agreement that it is officially spring. I even saw my first robins for the year this week.

Today was absolutely gorgeous, and we took advantage of it with a little playtime outside.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Going for Broke!

I think they are trying to break me! A couple e-pattern designers that I happen to really like have both put their patterns on sale at the same time. I'm not sure my budget can sustain this kind of temptation.
I've had my eye on Oh Sew Dollin's patterns for quite a while, but hadn't taken the plunge to buy one yet. But she ran a quicky sale last week and I snagged a pattern while they were on sale. I had a chance to look it over and found it clear and well written. So when she put her patterns on sale this week, I couldn't help but gather a few more into my collection, right? Stay tuned for some Oh Sew Dollin' cuteness coming soon from yours truly!

About the sale: She's got her patterns on sale right now for $5.50 each,(regularly $7.95) but only until 9pm central standard time this evening! So get right over there if you want to check out her patterns. According to her blog, this is going to be the last sale for a while, so don't miss out! She has tons of cute, cute raggedy dolls and bunnies and kitties and bear patterns to choose from, and she's right on top of emailing them out quickly after you pay for your purchase. Here are links to Oh Sew Dollin's shop and her blog.

That wasn't enough for my poor pocketbook, though. Yesterday I saw that Keyka Lou is running a sale on her patterns. The City Tote pattern (pictured below on left) has been in my sights for quite a while, and I'm afraid that budget or not, this pattern will soon become mine! I recently bought the Easy Grocery Bag pattern pictured above and have had a chance to sew a couple up. It's a steal at $5 even without a sale. I've been meaning to post about them, but haven't had a chance to get decent pictures yet! Her patterns are well written and easy to follow and turn out beautiful. I also love the Lots of Pockets Tote (below top right) and the Belted Tote (below bottom right) patterns. Decisions, decisions...

About the sale: Keyka Lou has started her anniversary sale early this year. (I'm not sure when this is running until.) She's offering individual patterns for $5.00 from her shop or 2/$10 from her Etsy shop. (My suggestion--use her shop and you can download them instantly!) Her bag patterns normally range from $5-$8 each. So this is a great chance to grab up a couple of really sweet bag patterns. She's also got a couple finished items for sale in her Etsy shop as well. Here are links to Keyka Lou's pattern shop, Etsy shop and blog.

If you haven't tried a PDF pattern before, they great because you print out the pieces on your own printer. If the pattern piece is larger than one piece of paper, you tape them together along the markings on the pattern. If you buy patterns from Etsy, you will receive an email from the seller with the PDF file attached. Some patterns you can even download as soon as you pay for them for instant gratification. No waiting for patterns to show up in the snail mail! Pay, print, sew. The file stays on your computer, and you can reprint the pieces if you lose them or wear them out. These two sellers are very generous in allowing their patterns to be used in making items offered for sale. Not everyone allows commercial profit from items made from their patterns, so be sure to check that out if you think you might like to offer items for sale.

Here's hoping that Bit of Whimsy doesn't decide to put her patterns on sale because I'm quite sure I've already documented my weakness for her cute designs!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

HBinFive: Pesto Pine Nut Bread

This time for our breads, we were given the assignments of Avocado-Guacamole Bread and Pesto Pine Nut Bread.

When I first got the book, the avocado-guacamole bread caught my eye right away. I love avocado and wanted to give this bread a try. It was the first or second bread I made from Healthy Breads in Five. I'm just going to work from memory on this one because I didn't make the dough again for the group. I thought the bread was pretty tasty myself and liked the chunks of tomato that you could see when you sliced into the bread. The kids didn't like this bread, and Paul was pretty lukewarm about it as I recall. I tried freezing part of the dough to make a loaf another time from it, but I think the veggies didn't appreciate being frozen. It turned very weepy when I defrosted it and made a very flat, unappetizing loaf. I know some of the doughs say that you can freeze them and use later and this didn't happen to be one of the recipes that said that, so I should have paid more attention there. I suppose I would have been better off baking the dough and freezing the loaf. A whole batch of this dough was more than our family could really get through.

Our family loves the flavors in pesto, so I decided to make a whole batch of the pesto pine nut bread. When Ivy saw the jar of pesto, she wanted to know when we were having pesto and was disappointed that I was using it for bread. And the pine nuts barely made it to the bread since someone who will remain unnamed decided to snarf down a good deal of the bag without asking permission. (His name starts with P...) So I was working with slightly less than 1/2 a cup of pine nuts, but I figured it wouldn't be a huge difference. I also used more wheat flour than the recipe called for and less all purpose flour. I had the spelt flour from the beet rolls and used it and about 3.5 cups of fresh-milled wheat flour and about 1.5 cups of a.p. flour. I mixed the dough this afternoon and decided I would make a loaf from the unrefrigerated dough since it seems to give a better rise for me most of the time. It was pretty sticky to work with and when I shaped the first loaf, I decided we'd probably need two loaves, so I made another one, too. The house smelled delicious while they baked.

I wanted to serve the bread with fresh mozzarella and turkey burgers. I still don't know where I went wrong with the mozzarella, but it didn't come together like it should have. I wasn't paying attention when I started the mozzarella and was working from a different recipe than I normally use. It was more like a ricotta texture when I was done, and I couldn't stretch it at all like mozzarella is supposed to because it just was a gloppy mess. I still scooped a bit of the cheese onto my burger and popped it under the broiler. It didn't taste bad, just not what was expected. I was a bit annoyed to waste a gallon of milk on that. I know that the expression "Don't cry over spilled milk" originated with reference to someone who did their own milking because it's just more disappointing to waste the milk when you actually put in the labor to get it!

Despite the disappointing turnout of the cheese, we had the bread for dinner with turkey burgers still. Paul and Ivy both said the bread was good. As they didn't really care for the veggie side I made with dinner, I guess the bread was the best part of the meal. Didn't garner any raves this time around like the olive oil bread did. I'm going to use the leftover bread to make pizza, I think. Although this was a tasty bread, I think I would probably just go for a plain loaf and put the pesto on the pasta next time. Plus pine nuts are a little pricey to do very often. (As a side note, when I make pesto, I've found that walnuts are a very tasty and much less costly substitute for pine nuts.)

You can see what others did with this dough by visiting the HBin5 Bread Braid hosted at Big Black Dog.

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Owl Barn's Spring Giveaway!

Win this:


Friday, March 5, 2010

How is a raven like a writing desk?

I have been looking forward to today for months. I informed Paul well ahead of time and reminded him regularly that he would be watching Holly and Finn for me while I went to watch the new Alice in Wonderland movie. I have loved this story since I was a young girl. In sixth grade, I even had the lead role of Alice in our class play. That this version was going to be presented in 3-d was a big drawing point, but the clincher was Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. Having been a fan of Johnny Depp since his 21 Jump Street days, there certainly was no way I was going to miss this movie!

So this morning, I set off to the city to watch the movie with my sister and Ivy. We went to the first showing--besides the midnight one. It actually wasn't very busy, but that wasn't too surprising considering it was a school day and too early for the kids to be out. The theater was playing it on about four screens, too.

It did not disappoint. It was a feast for the eyes in the usual way Tim Burton brings a story to life. His films are like costume shows. The costumes are always so rich and detailed they add a whole other layer to the story. Alice was big and little and big and little and littler and bigger. The Mad Hatter futter-whacked vigorously and the red queen screamed, "Heads off!" endlessly. The Cheshire Cat whisked in and out of view in swirls of smoke and grins. All the characters were really fabulous and I'm more than ready to watch it again and possibly again!

And if you feel like crafting or cooking up some "Alice" crafts or treats, click here for a bit of inspiration. I had to print off a sheet of bookplates for the Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass book I picked up at the book store before we headed home. Fitting, no?

HBinFive: 100% Whole Wheat with Olive Oil, part 2

Tonight I had a chance to make the Southwestern Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese Foccacia. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure how this one was going to come out, but I couldn't pass up the chance to use some of the fresh goat cheese I made earlier this week. I didn't feel like bothering to roast ears of corn, so I just used frozen corn kernels. Also, I had planned to use the cooked chicken variation to make a meal of this, but I didn't have any chicken ready and decided to use black beans to bulk it up a little and add some protein to make it a main dish meal. As the book said, I had more sauce than I needed to use so I put some away to use another time. And there definitely will be another time. This bread just kept making the grade for our family. In making the sauce, I used two chili's-can't remember the type-Anaheim, maybe. It was a little spicy, so I didn't give any to the little ones, but Paul, Ivy and I shared the foccacia, and we all loved it. I thought while I was making it that it seemed very pizza like, just with fancier ingredients. I haven't had foccacia before, so I don't know how authentic it really was. The dough made a lovely crust for this and was chewy and delicious.

I just crumbled a bit of the plain goat cheese over this and probably used a bit more than the recipe called for, but I had plenty to work with! The cheese was a bit tangy on its own, but it really blended well with the flavors of the foccacia. I have requests already to make this one again. I'll definitely be revisiting the 100% whole wheat with olive oil dough. It made a nice bread on its own, but our family loved the variations of it even more. I bet it would make a great pizza crust with traditional pizza as well. Time to make some more mozzarella!

I had been undecided over whether to add a second post for this dough, but this variation turned out so yummy that I decided to write it up also. You can see what others did with this dough by visiting the HBin5 Bread Braid hosted at Big Black Dog.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

HBinFive: 100% Whole Wheat with Olive Oil

As usual, I am running behind on posting my experiences with the current bread assignment. We were challenged to make a regular loaf and two variations—Aloo Paratha and Southwestern Focaccia with Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese.

In my last HBin5 post, I mentioned that I was considering a grain mill, and I'm happy to say that I went ahead and bought K-Tec kitchen mill. The best deal I could find was from Harvest Essentials for $179, but they also have a coupon code that is valid for orders over $169 to save another $10 (code: HARVEST) bringing the price down to $169. It seems to grind pretty quickly. Grinding the grain before baking just adds a couple minutes to my overall time. It is a bit noisy so a couple times I've had to put off baking because the kids were napping. I also ordered a large bag of hard white wheat and have been making my bread from my very own freshly ground flour now. This is the first time I've made a recipe from one of the "in five" books with the flour, but I've played around with several other more traditional bread recipes and everything has come out quite delicious.

This time I did something that I don't normally do with the recipes--I weighed my dough to make sure I was getting it in roughly one pound portions when I used it. I wanted to make sure I had the right amount of dough for each recipe. I just made a simple round loaf with some unrefrigerated dough for trying out the dough. It was quite sticky before being refrigerated, but with some flour and quick handling, I shaped it without problem. I still don't have a baking stone, so it just went into the oven on a cookie sheet. Ivy says it is one of the best breads I have made.

Next I made the Aloo Paratha. I skipped the peas because I don't like peas--at all! I can't get ghee in town and found the prices too dear on Amazon. So I figured I would make it myself. Since I couldn't see myself needing a whole pound of it, I just used two sticks of unsalted butter to make mine. Good thing too since I badly burned the first batch and had to start again. Second time I cooked it at a lot lower heat for a lot longer, and it turned out okay. I think it was a bit darker than the pictures on the website that I was using for the directions, but it definitely wasn't the nasty burned mess of the first batch. And it was definitely worth it. This bread was delicious! I could seriously have polished off the whole thing by myself, but stoically resisted. Ivy was all for me making another loaf right then and there, plus extra potato mixture that she could just scarf by itself! I made a pork curry to go along with it from our pork that we raised. It was a delicious meal. My mouth is watering just recalling it!

I haven't made the foccacia bread yet, but plan to tomorrow evening. I needed to pick up a couple things from the store for it. It sounds like it could be a dinner if you add meat to it, so that's what I have planned. Going to be using some of the fresh chevre I made a couple days ago to top it.

Check out what others did with these doughs by visiting the HBin5 Bread Braid hosted at Big Black Dog.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Unmolding the Cheese

Yesterday the cheese was ready to come out of the molds. Originally heaped over the top of the molds, it had settled down to about half the mold. It came out of the chevre molds in a little white pyramid. Unseasoned, it was very plain in taste with just a bit of tang. So I took the first cheese and mixed some Italian herb mix, salt, pepper and a clove of crushed garlic into the cheese. It turned out quite tasty. For the past two mornings, I have enjoyed one of our farm fresh eggs, scrambled with about a tablespoon of the herb cheese mixed in after the egg is cooked. Yummy!

I split the next cheese into two portions, each about eight ounces. Into the first, I mixed two packets of cheese powder from boxed mac and cheese and 4 tablespoons of grated horseradish. I shaped the cheese into a log and rolled it in parsley. It was pretty soft at room temperature, but after being refrigerated, it is a pretty firm little log and can be easily slice. This cheese is very good as well. I sliced a piece of it last night and enjoyed it broiled on top of a turkey burger. Yum again!

The last part of the cheese that I seasoned yesterday, I decided to try as a pineapple walnut cheese. The recipe called for crushed pineapple, chopped walnuts, and salt. I wondered about the salt but didn't question it enough. This one turned out predictably salty which seemed odd for the flavors of the cheese. I think a teaspoon of sugar would have been a better addition than the salt. It reminds me of a flavored cream cheese; I'm just sorry it's salty because it seems like it should have been sweet.

I put some aside for the next baking for my HBin5 group assignment which includes a foccacia with goat cheese and froze the rest for using another time. According to the cheese making book, it will keep for six months in the freezer. There's a taco cheese recipe that looks good to me, but Ivy has claimed the right to pick the flavor of one. So I guess we'll have to see what she thinks sounds tasty.

What's next in our cheese-making adventure? Hard cheeses! I placed an order from New England Cheesemaking for the several things I would need to proceed with making some hard cheeses. I showed Paul several plans online for making your own cheese press, and this morning, he presented me with my very own cheese press at a fraction of the price of anything we could have bought. It cost us $6 for the dowels, and everything else we already had around. We will use bricks for the weights to press the cheese. I'm going to start with a farmhouse cheese. I ordered Ricki's Cheesemaking 101 video for a steal of only $2 because they are clearing out the VHS tapes in favor of DVD's. (The DVD runs $24.95.) It's a very informative video that takes you through several different kinds of cheese. I learned quite a bit from watching it once and plan to watch it again very soon. I would recommend it for anyone interested in learning to make cheese. Every cheese she makes in the video, she just uses regular store bought milk. Of course, you can use whatever you have available, but she does that to show that anyone can make cheese. As long as you still have a VCR, you just can't beat that price. And I have only good things to say about the New England Cheesemaking company. They had the best prices I found and customer service was friendly and very quick to respond to and rectify a problem with the order.

About This Blogger

I am a thirty-something mother of two girls and a boy ranging from preschool to middle school. My husband and I keep working and reworking on our goal of raising our family healthier. Our house is a constant work under construction--adding on and remodeling. We're happy to have bought our property a few years ago, but as any homeowners know, owning a home just adds to your list of projects and chores because there's always improvements to be made and maintenance to be done. On our burgeoning homestead, we have chickens, guineas, a few goats, and our most recent additions-rabbits.
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About This Blog

I picked the name Petalz and Finz a couple years ago when I decided to try Etsy out. I wanted to custom make some baby related items and have things for girls and boys. I felt the name incorporated both my kids (at the time) into it--petalz for Ivy and finz for Finn.

I haven't had time to do much of anything with my Etsy for a while, but it's still my in my long term goals. In the mean time, I'm having fun with this blog thing. I've found some creative inspiration through my own posting, but also through many other wonderful blogs out there.
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