Innaugural Garage Sale Haul for 2009

Somewhere I read something about only surrounding yourself with things you love. I do a pretty good job already- my house is full of things with stories- like, almost everything has a story. But… I do have a propensity to stuff things in closets and drawers. So today, gleeful at the idea of nice weather and yard sales peppering the valley, I was determined to only buy things I really, really liked. And I had a place for. Ah, that changes the equation, doesn’t it? Mm-hmmm.

First I hit an estate sale. I have mixed feelings, I think I’ve written about, on estate sales. I suppose it has to happen. There are good ways of doing it (sort and cull beforehand, please) and bad ways doing it (opening the house up with grandpas jammies still on the back of the bathroom door). I saw both today. I bought nothing at either one.

What I did get:

  • Vintage linens with some of the finest applique work I’ve ever seen. Small table runner, two holiday tea towels, and a hemstitched linen scarf. $1 for the whole lot.
  • A cream-ware gravy boat. $1.
  • A pile, pile, of old maps from the 1960’s. So cool. 10 cents for the whole pile.
  • An old picture frame. I’ve got a photo of my grandma I think will be perfect…
  • A trash can for the boys’ room. $1.
  • A vintage baby book for a boy, dated 1969. 25 cents.
  • A set of six mini-bundt pans. 50 cents for all.

That’s it. I was restrained, and left some things by the wayside. I’m always excited to find linens, and I can’t wait to bake little chocolate cakes with Abby. She was thrilled when she saw them, proclaiming them “For ME!”. I’m thrilled about the maps. They’re way cool. Don’t know what to do with them yet, but I know I’ll think of something.

Total spent: $3.85. Awesome. If I had a camera, I would totally show you. Instead, you just have to use your imagination.

One Happy Girl

I just had to share this picture I took today. This is my girl. She’s TWO now- and she spent the day doing what she loves- she played outside all day, in the garden, ate banana and avocado, and wore Beanie’s stocking cap. Her new dress is trashed, her face is covered in dirt, and I couldn’t care less. Because the look on that face? It’s worth all the treasure on earth.

Spring Break Breakfast

My kids are off all week for spring break, and, well, David is still home, as you all probably know. To treat my family, I decided to knock out the banging breakfast. I will thus share with you my recipes for not only my fabulous potato latkes (my high-school boyfriend was Jewish, and I picked up a couple of awesome eats from him) and also, not to be missed, sourdough hotcakes.

For anyone not in the know, Latkes are a traditional Jewish dish of crispy fried potato, usually served at Hanukkah. Not a biblical food, since potatoes come from the new world, but still something rooted for hundreds of years in Jewish tradition. They may take a tiny bit of prep to make properly, but latkes beats the pants off any old hash-browns.

Sourdough hotcakes require you to have some sourdough-starter on hand. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with getting some of that liquid-slurpy-bubbly gold, but if you have some already, this recipe rocks your socks. If you don’t, I’m sorry. Try and get some. Look. Ask. It’s worth it. Mine is over 100 years old, from Alaska- home of not only Mo Mommy, but the hottest sourdough cultures on the planet.

Without further ado or braggadocio, I give you, my breakfast…

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Potato Latkes

  • four starchy potatoes, peeled and grated coarsely
  • 1/2 yellow onion, grated on large holes of grater
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil for pan-frying

The trick to crispy, non-gummy latkes is the proper prep of the potatoes. Once they are peeled and grated, thoroughly rinse them in a sieve under cold water until the water runs clear. The starches in the potatoes will turn the water cloudy at first, and you must rinse the starch if you want crispy results. Once the ‘tatoes are rinsed, drain and press out as much water as you possibly can. Spread them out on a micro-wave save dish and microwave them for 3-4 minutes. (You are par-cooking them, the same way the frozen french fries are par-cooked when you buy them in a bag. It works!)

Once potatoes are par-cooked, stir in remaining ingredients.

Heat oil to med-hot in cast-iron or heavy skillet, and drop blobs of latke into oil, pressing down and making cakes. Fry until golden and crispy on both sides.

Serve immediately with either sour cream or applesauce. Mmmmmmmmm!

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Sourdough Hotcakes

  • 2 cups sourdough starter
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

(always handle starter with non-metallic tools- wooden or glass are best)

Into the sourdough, add sugar, egg, oil and salt. Right before ready to bake on hot griddle, add the soda, folding gently. Starter will bubble up and become light and fluffy. Bake on hot griddle and serve with butter and honey (my fav) or maple syrup. Sourdough hotcakes will not be thick and dense like regular pancakes (my grandma called those kind of pancakes “horse-blankets” and would send them back in a restaurant!); instead they will be light and lacy and divine. Enjoy!

Blue! I Need Blue!

Just for fun, you can check out some ways to play with your make-up at Mythbuster Beauty– (the site is run by the fabulous Jen, and Mo Mommy contrubutes each Wednesday)  I took up their challenge and used blue, (yes, blue!) eyecolor… and, miracle of miracles, I don’t look like Mimi! It’s kind of fun- and right now, with all the winter doldrums, fun is what we need!

Oh, and that’s my eyeball at the bottom.

Of Words and Rice

Improve your vocabulary and earn rice for developing nations all at once! I have to warn you though, it can be real time sucker! Click Here.

So far I’ve earned 1800 grains of rice, and hover around level 40. The site says there are 50 levels in all- so I’m not feeling too pompous about that. Let me know how you do, OK?

Poison Control, Chapter 2

Yet another reason to use only natural products to clean your home! Honestly, you can’t turn your back for a minute…

59.jpgToday was housecleaning day, and I was on the warpath all day- so just before dinner when Abby came in the kitchen sucking on a squirt bottle of spray cleaner, I completely freaked out, dumped her in the sink, and speed-dialed Poison Control. Turns out, the cleaner I use, EcoSense Tough n’ Tender by Melaleuca is absolutely safe. Not that I suggest letting your kid drink it, but the Poison lady was amazed that nothing in it was a danger. Hooray!

So mamas: get that Poison Control number plastered by your phone! Oh, and switch to non-toxic cleaners for you home- because while in an ideal world I would follow Abby around gazing at her marvelousness and never evereverever leave a spray bottle on a window sill when the phone rings, the truth is, well, it’s not pretty. My brain doesn’t always work, and sometimes I do dumb stuff.

How To: Totally Easy Totes

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As promised, the above link will take you to my pattern for making the tote bags. Yesterday, for my three classes, I made each of my kids a trick-or-treat bag- as evidenced by the above bag, which belongs to the Abidoodle. The smallish toile bag was winging-it at my last class, and shows how, once you get the gist of making them, you can make them, literally, in ANY size you need.

If you can sew a straight seam, you CAN make these. Honestly. I promise. If anyone has any problems, e-mail me. This is seriously a high-success, not-much-experience needed sewing project.

Oh- each bag cost less than $5 in supplies. Have fun and let me know how you do!

Cinnabon? You Bet Your Life

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These cinnamon rolls are the closest thing you’re ever going to make at home to the real deal. I say that with absolute certainty and calm. They. Are. It. I’ve held this recipe close to the bone for a long time, mamas, but I will now divulge the secret:

Pudding.

That’s right, you make the rolls with vanilla pudding as your primary liquid. That, and a lot of butter. I have no idea what the nutritional breakdown is, but to be on the safe side, and out of kindness to your heart, I suggest making them only 2 or 3 times a year. Without further ado, I give you,

General Conference Cinnamon Rolls!

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp sugar

Bloom the yeast with the sugar in the warm water, waiting for froth and bubbles.

  • 1/2 cup instant vanilla pudding powder
  • 1 c warm water
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5-6 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, with a wire whip, mix the pudding powder with the water until well combined and smooth. Add the butter, eggs and salt, whisk to combine well.

Add the bloomed yeast/sugar/water mixture and combine well.

Add flour, one cup at a time, until the dough comes together, and is still soft, but not sticky. Knead until smooth. It will feel like fat baby thighs.

Let rise in a warm, covered and lightly oiled bowl until doubled in size. About 2 hours.

Punch down, and knead again.

With a rolling pin and a lightly floured board, roll out the dough to a 34 x 22 inch rectangle. Keep moving the dough as you roll, to keep from sticking to the board.

  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon

Melt the butter and pour the whole cup on your rolled out rectangle of dough. (I told you only a few times a year!) In a separate bowl, combine with your impeccably clean hands, the sugar and cinnamon, then cover the butter-drenched dough rectangle in an even and delectable layer of cinnamon sugar.

Starting at the 22 inch side, roll the entire thing into a nice, long cinnamon tube. Seal the edge with a little bit of water on a pastry brush or your fingers.

With a serrated knife, (or even better, a piece of thread or dental floss) cut the log into 2 inch segments, and carefully move your giant cinnamon treasures to a glass pan.  Put no more than 8 in a large glass Pyrex casserole dish.  Do not crowd them- they will rise almost double. Whatever baking dish you use, deeper sides give the rolls a softer exterior = better.

Cover in a warm place and let them rise again until fat and happy- about two hours.

Bake at 350* for 15-18 minutes. Really, only that long. Do not over-bake. You want them to be soft, yet set, in the middle. The house will smell divine.

Icing:

  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cream

Whip all ingredients together and smear on top of still warm rolls.

Remember, only a few times a year!! (For us, it’s Christmas and General Conference- the grand-poo-bah of all Mormon meetings) Your taste buds will rejoice, your heart will need a serious, sweat inducing walk afterwards. Enjoy!!

Eight Years and Counting

tiffany.jpg Normally, I couldn’t care less what brand anything is; as long as it’s quality and hopefully not made by children in China, I’m good. Usually. Not today.

I’ve waited 20+ years to get one of these on my pillow, since I was a girl and first saw Audrey staring in that window with those divine sunglasses on…  DH came home from work and called me upstairs. Wrapped in tissue was the unmistakable blue box, tied, just like in the movies, with the requisite thick satin ribon. It’s actually prettier than in the picture- almost luscious. My heart quickened, and I just sat looking at it for a few minutes. No rushing this moment, thank you very much!

I took a picture of it sitting daintily on my pillow.

The ribbon is even tied in a special way, to make it extra pretty- inside was a suede buttoned envelope, dyed the same inimitable blue with the Tiffany logo embossed in the leather. There was thick cotton-paper card with a serial number and verification that this is, in fact, a genuine piece of Tiffany jewelry.

Other than the fact it was a necklace, I won’t tell anything more about what was in the treasure box. I don’t hold too many cards close to the chest, but some things a woman has to keep to herself. But just opening it was such a fantastic thrill. Every girl needs to get a box from Tiffany at least once in her life…

Happy Anniversary Honey. I love it, and I love you. I love that you know how much I wanted something so silly, and you indulged that silliness anyway. I love that you know me better than I know myself, and that you love me anyway. I love that I have learned what love really looks like from you. To infinity, and beyond.

Latest Project: The Phoebe

Here is my thrift store find- Actually, it came from Stephen King’s thrift store, if you’ve been reading awhile, you may recall that post. Looking at it now, I wish I had taken a picture beforehand. It was ugly, dark brown, scratched and missing it’s legs.

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This is the piece that was marked as a “dresser” for short people. That’s what the guy told me- one look and I knew it was a buffet, only missing the legs. Some ninny cut the legs off once upon a time, and all I did was go to Lowes and buy six new legs and the hardware to attach them. It required a little elbow grease and some patience, and about six trips to the hardware store to get all the right pieces, but it was a good learning experience. Now I know how to put legs on things, using dowels, t-nuts, clamps and some glue. Everyone needs to know that, right?

Some cream paint, a little polish and a rubbing of the hardware… Voila, a new, country French, kinda shabby but way cool, one of a kind buffet.

I’ve decided to use it in my dining room as a major photography statement. I like it totally crowded with all my black and white photography and hydrangeas from the yard.

Next time you are at a yard sale or a thrift store- start looking at the “bones” of things- sometimes something really ugly is actually a swan waiting for a little TLC- this was one of those times. Look for solid wood, dovetail joinery, solid construction, few to no staples or brads, and at the overall silhouette- it’s amazing what a coat of paint or a little stripping and sanding can do. Give it a try.

Oh, and p.s.- this little gem cost $28 bucks.