Friday, November 14, 2014

Practice Makes Permanent

Once upon a time {long, long ago}, I would practice my violin at least 4-6 hours a day.

That was back when I was in college, of course. . .  when that was all I did other than watch "Smallville" and eat carbs in copious amounts.

Naturally, my priorities shifted as I became a wife and mother and practicing has taken a back seat. You could even say it gathers dust on the back seat of a 15 passenger van, it's so far "back". In the rare moments that I dare to unzip my case, one or more children commence having a melt down for no apparent reason.

I therefore try to make the most out of my limited practicing sessions by recording them. Heaven knows you notice different things watching and listening to yourself play instead of just listening in the moment.

Anywho, today produced a particularly entertaining clip.

. . .

DISCLAIMERS (and there are many):

Firstly, this is a Christmas piece. If your brain will turn into goo if you listen to any sort of Christmas music before Thanksgiving, don't sue me for not warning you.

Secondly, this video was taken with my front facing camera, so the quality is "if-y" at best. And sorry the sound recording isn't much better.

Thirdly, the angle of said cellular device is most definitely the least flattering I could possibly muster. I honestly didn't plan on sharing it with the world until it became pretty darn funny.

Fourthly, I am hereby blaming any and all sour notes {and there are a few, I promise} on my little helper. I was having a hard time not laughing my bum right off.

. . .

. . .

Hope you enjoyed it!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rosebud's Bread, Ya'll!

Is it possible to have bad bread from a cute little granny named Rosebud?


Don't think so.

. . .

The other day, I tried this recipe from "The Curvy Carrot" {found HERE} and it actually worked. Not only that, but it worked really, really well. Ordinarily, my bread doesn't look too great. . . nor does it taste too great. But this time, it was different.

If you find yourself in a similar bread-baking-boat {or even if you're an amazing bread-baker-person}, you should try this recipe. You shan't be disappointed.

After all, it comes from Rosebud. :)

. . . .

Before I get started, let me just say that you can click on over to "The Curvy Carrot" and read her recipe HERE and be totally fine. However, I did a couple things differently. . . because. . . well. That's just how I roll. And yes, I added a little pizzazz to the instructions. Rosebud's recipe didn't read like a crazy lady wrote it. So, in other words. . . if you want an easy recipe to follow, click through to the original. :)

Rosebud's Butter-Topped White Bread
{adapted slightly by myself from this recipe HERE

4 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast {2 packets}
3/4 c. warm water
1/4 c. sugar
1 scant tablespoon salt
3 T. butter {I used salted butter, hence my "scantiness" above}, room temp, cut into small-ish pieces
2 2/3 c. additional warm water
9 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
Additional butter for brushing the tops of baked loaves, optional

In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attached{I know. It feels a little weird and counter intuitive.}, combine the yeast and 3/4 cup warm water. Allow time to dissolve and get fluffy; about five minutes. Then add in your sugar, salt, butter, and additional 2 and 2/3 cups warm water and mix well on your slowest speed.

While still on your slow speed, gradually add in 5 cups of flour. Mix it 'til it's smooth, and then sloooowly add in the remaining flour {if you're bad at math like me, that's 4 1/2 cups}. A WORD OF CAUTION HERE, folks. This dough means business. If you don't have a manly {i.e. "Professional"} stand mixer, you'll probably blow up your motor. Split up your dough into two separate batches if need be. . . or knead half by hand while your mixer works on the other half.

Once it's mixed fairly well, but not kneaded, take off your paddle and pop on your dough hook {things just got serious!}. Allow that ol' hook to do its duty for 10 minutes.

{This is where I would always go wrong in the past. I thought kneading for 10 minutes was just silly and would only go for maybe 3 minutes. Don't do it, guys. Knead it for 10 minutes. Honestly. Set a timer and don't chicken out.}

While your dough is kneading, lightly grease a large bowl with cooking spray. Shortly before your dough is done being kneaded, preheat your oven to 350 degrees for about 45 seconds. Then turn off the oven. Please don't forget to turn it off! This trick provides a nice, warm, draft-free place for your dough to rise. Plop the dough into the bowl and spritz the top with more cooking spray. Cover and place in the warm oven to rise for 1 hour.

After an hour, spray two glass 9" loaf pans with cooking spray. Lightly dust your {clean!} counter top with some flour to make working with the dough easier. Divide your dough into two equal blobs. Take blob #1 and roll it out into roughly a 12x12 square. Starting from the bottom, roll it up nice and tight and then pinch off both ends. Fold the ends underneath and place in your greased pan. Repeat with blob #2.

Do the same preheating trick with your oven, cover your loaves, and let your 'em rise for 25-28 minutes. Take the loaves out and make sure you have a rack on the very bottom slot in your oven with ample head room for your loaves. Preheat your oven to 420 degrees {NOTE: My oven cooks hot, so if yours doesn't, preheat to 425 instead}. Once preheated, place both loaves on the lowest rack and bake for 15 minutes.

Then, if you have a overeager oven like somebody I know, lower the temperature to 410 degrees. Otherwise, keep it the same. Cover your beautiful loaves with tin foil to keep the tops from over-browning and bake for an additional 10-11 minutes {or 15 minutes if you're all "normal"}.

Transfer those cuties to a wire rack and lightly brush the tops with some melted butter. Allow to cool before slicing if you think that's humanly possible. . . which it isn't.

. . .

Like most homemade bread, it tastes best fresh. This bread is so very scrumptious because its outer crust is the prefect amount of crunchy while its inside is soft and fluffy. Mmm-mmm good! I dare you not to eat an entire loaf in one night.

{insert evil laugh here}

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Must or Bust : A.C.A Style

I'm thinking of starting up a support group. One where we all wear matching jackets {think "Letterman" but bedazzled with streamers and glow-in-the-dark stickers} and have monthly meetings to discuss our deep and lasting addiction.

It's name?

"A.C.A : Addicted Crafters Anonymous"

. . . . .

You guys. . . I'm addicted.

I can't stop.


. . . . .

Saw this little fella on my favorite place {*ahem* Pinterest} and thought, "Oh, that'd be fun." And then I couldn't just leave it at that.

See? Addicted.

DIY Flower Topiary : Must

 photo ec8509ebda3ece72df82e2e8e4bbb0db_zpsa9324dd7.jpg
{no legit photo source, Sorry!}

I couldn't find a real link, so I just made it up. I found some white foam balls at Wal-Mart {a pack of 2} and came across some cute fake flowers there, as well. I love yellow and wanted a bright pop of color, so that's what I went with. I busted out my hot glue gun and got to work.

My words of advice should you follow in my footsteps?

OVER-BUY. Seriously. I bought three little clusters of flowers {.97 each} and ran out after covering half of a sphere. My topiary had a pretty massive bald spot until I could make it back to the store. :)

I found the little glass stand at The Dollar Tree {by where they keep their tea lights}. Just like the picture above shows, I squirted  some hot glue around the edge and applied my ball. The foam is very porous, so it works great for projects like this.

Worked like a charm.

 photo Topiary_zps1109a04a.png

 photo Close-UpTopiary_zps346a1d9e.png

I had quite a bit of fun with this! And talk about CHEAP and FAST. Perfect.

. . . .

I really, really gave my poor economical   budget  cheap glue gun a run for its money this week because I found this fella and couldn't resist :

DIY Spoon Mirror : Must

 photo 20126cc132ec690e8670046123d4a573_zpscfa4ef8e.jpg
{photo source}

You can find the tutorial HERE {via "Craftaholics Anonymous" . . see? She'd have a jacket and bring cookies to our meetings}. This was a really good project to do while multi-tasking, like watching TV or visiting with friends. Definitely not a lot of brain power required for this one. :) 

A few pointers :

-- OVER-BUY. Sound familiar? I mean, really. She claims you need around 75-80 spoons for a 12" circle, but I used over 90. Sooooo, I ran out. I hate leaving projects undone, so I think I went to The Dollar Tree four hundred times in two days because I kept running out of stuff. No bueno.

-- I decided I wanted to make a bigger circle {20"} for Hannah's room and LOVED it! Just to give you an idea, I bought probably 6 packages of 48-count spoons for the big circle, I had a heck of a time cutting through the thick cardboard diaper box for my 12" circle, so I used one of those thinner tri-folding-cardboard-things from Wal-Mart for the big one {you know what I'm talking about, right? Think "science fair"}.

-- Try spray painting your cardboard circle first. No matter what angle I tried spray painting, I still couldn't quite cover all the cardboard through the spoons. But maybe I'm just a bad spray painter? Sounds legit.

-- Apply the hot glue to the spoon instead of the cardboard. Trust me. You'll thank me.

-- If you have OCD, I would suggest tracing guidelines on the cardboard so you know where each line of spoons will reside.

-- You may possibly need something manlier than hot glue to adhere your mirror to the spoons. My 12" circle didn't, but my 20" circle did. So, yes. "May possibly" is as scientific as it's going to get.

-- On one of my four hundred Dollar Tree trips, I saw the teeny tiny 3" mirror I was supposed to buy and then saw one that was just over 5" in diameter. I decided to live on the edge and try the bigger one. I'm such a rebel.
The mirror had a tacky plastic frame with suction cups on the back, but it was easily popped out.

This project was much more time consuming than the topiary, but definitely worthwhile and still dirt cheap!

 photo SpoonArt1_zpsb0110990.png

 photo BedroomSpoonArt_zps43aec726.png

So, my fellow A.C.A peeps-- go indulge a bit! These projects are satisfying and affordable. . . so how, I ask you, can you go wrong?

. . .

P.S. Blooper time!

I just have to show you how absolutely adorable my little bashful boy is.

 photo SpoonArt2_zps56258ed0.png

And also, I want to make sure no one thinks Hannah's room always looks that clean. What you can't see in the picture above is all this action :

 photo BehindtheScenes_zpsba8d1bb2.png

And, yeah, those are discarded panties there on the left.

And one more thing. . . those spoon mirror things fit very nicely into a well-known phrase : "Good from far but far from good." So if you come over to my house, be gentle. They struggle if you look closely. :)


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