Archives for July 2015

Got a photographer-wannabe at your house?

I haven’t done a giveaway for a long time, but I am excited about the one I have for you today. In our family, there are several kids who frequently grab my camera or my phone to either take selfies or to get photos of what’s going on around them.   If there’s a kid like that in your family too,  I have just the giveaway for you.

Next week National Geographic is releasing the National Geographic Kids Guide to Photography: Tips & Tricks on How to Be a Great Photographer.  The fun and accessible book is packed with great info for budding photographers.   In this book kids can learn all sorts of essential photography concepts from setting up shots, working with lighting, and improving composition.

 

Photographer in training

Photographer in training

Kids (and adults!) can even learn how to set up a camera’s manual settings, something that professional photographers see as an essential skill for working in tricky lighting situations. Animals, people, sports, and landscape photographer are all discussed in a very kid-friendly way.  Info is broken into colorful short paragraphs and interspersed with lots of great photos.  In my opinion, this book is geared toward kids ages 10 and up, though a motivated younger child could also learn plenty if he was a strong reader.

Getting Started Nat Geo Guide to Photos, credit Annie Griffiths

I am giving away one copy of this book next week.  If you know someone who you think would be interested in it, comment below.  For a second entry, like this post on facebook or share it on twitter, and then come back and comment again.  I think this book would make a great Christmas gift for an interested kid.   I’ll announce a winner next week!

 

 

Hazel’s Gluten-Free Bread

As promised many days ago, herHazel's Yummy Gluten Free Breade’s my momma’s wonderful gluten-free bread recipe. Her gluten-free flour recipe is included at the bottom. If you like, you can mix it in a bread machine or with a Kitchen-Aid. This bread is especially fabulous toasted.

Hazel’s Gluten Free Bread

Makes one loaf

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 T. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk,  room temp (or regular milk + 1 T. vinegar)
  • 1-2 t. salt (May use seasoned salt such as Jane’s crazy mixed-up salt)
  • 1 T. xanthan gum (If your flour blend includes xanthan gum, add only 1 t.)
  • 3 1/2 cups flour blend (recipe below)
  • 1 T. active dry yeast

Directions

For bread machine:

Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select the sweet dough cycle. Five minutes into the cycle, check the consistency of the dough. Add additional rice flour or liquid if necessary. When bread is finished, let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from pan.

For oven baking:

I use Artisan blend flour (see below) and have mixed it with either my electric mixer or the dough cycle of my bread machine. As indicated in the recipe, I added 1 extra teaspoon of xanthan gum, over and above what is in the flour blend. After thoroughly mixing, I put the dough into a greased bread pan and smooth out the top with a greased rubber spatula.

I let it rise in a warm place for an hour or so (barely warm oven works fine), until it is nearly double in size and is about even with the top of the bread pan. With bread on middle rack of oven, turn the oven on to 375. (The bread will complete rising and begin baking as the oven heats up.)

I bake it at 375 for about 40 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave it in for 10 more minutes. Cool it in the pan for 10 additional minutes, outside the oven. It slices and tastes great, and has a nice consistency. After experimenting, this is my favorite way to manage the baking (a single rising and then having the bread in the oven as it heats up). It is less likely to fall in the middle.


This is my current flour blend, taken from the cookbook Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking: 275 Great-Tasting, From-Scratch Recipes from Around the World

  • 5 cups brown rice flour (or a mix of white/brown)
  • 3 cups sorghum flour
  • 2 2/3 cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup + 4 tsp potato flour
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 tsp xanthan gum

 

 

The rest of the summer

Wow, the wedding was fun!  It all went off without a hitch and during the whole evening everywhere it seemed like people were having a good time. It was an amazing atmosphere, and Jared and Erika just shone joy the whole day.  It was wonderful.

Here’s a shot of the seating area, all ready for the guests to arrive.  It was such a pretty venue.  After the ceremony, kids had a lovely time running up and down the hill you can see in the distance.  And there were blankets spread in the shade of trees for extra seating during the wedding and the reception.

Waiting for the guests

Then here’s a picture of the area where the reception was– the kids did such a great job decorating.  Everything really came together, even the weather.  A couple weekends before the wedding, we were having temperatures in the 100’s.  But on the Saturday of the wedding the high was 87, which by evening in the shade of all those trees was just perfect for an outdoor summer wedding.

The Reception

 

Saturday evening after the wedding we all sat around in the living room for a long time talking about what a fun party it had been, not quite wanting it to be over yet.  Nevermind that it was 1:30 in the morning.

Sunday we ran around returning all the various things that we’d borrowed for the festivities.  And then Monday and Tuesday night I worked, which meant Tuesday and Wednesday during the day was taken up with sleeping.  So today, really, is the first day since the wedding that I feel like I’m truly off.

Today the older teens are all working, and the youngest two have a friend over to play– streams of giggles are coming from the bedroom. So I am sitting here blogging and making lists of things I need to do during this last part of the summer before our Ethiopia trip. We leave in 26 days, people!  I am so excited!

I already found five 32″ soft-sided bags for our checked luggage for the grand price of $14 each at Walmart.com.  They are GINORMOUS, and they even have wheels. I doubt we’ll bring enough clothing to fill a whole bag per person– more likely two people’s clothes will fit in one bag.  But we are bringing a few things to and from Ethiopia for other people, so extra space is good.  And if we don’t need all 5 all the time, each duffel can be zipped tiny compact square, to easily tuck into another bag.

Besides the big bags, we’ll each have one carry-on– most likely backpacks.  One backpack each and one wheeled bag each will, I hope, be a reasonable amount to tote for everyone.

I’m especially interested in traveling light because of all the moving around we’ll be doing.  We’ll be gone a total of 16 days, of which three are flying and four are driving to outlying areas.  So that’s 7 days on the move.  Definitely a reason not to overpack.

I don’t want to bring my computer, so I (mini)splurged on a tablet– a  Toshiba Encore  that my computer-guru son spoke highly of.  I’m excited to get it and play with it.  I also got an earbud splitter to make it easier for multiple kids to watch movies together on planes.  Oh, I love traveling!

In other news (despite the fact that I just spent 5 minutes talking about things I bought for our trip, lol) I’m still working on paring down things that we own in general.  This afternoon Tomorrow I’m going through drawers in my bathroom.  It’s funny how I can go literally weeks without opening a drawer, and yet it is still hard to coax myself to toss things that I haven’t used in months.  I paid good money for them, after all!  But I’m reminding myself that this fact should not earn them a forever place in my drawers or my home.

I am also eager to do some cleaning in our garage.  Except there is where I’ve stashed all the extra dishes I’m saving for our 4 older teens.  All hope to move out in the next couple years, and I’d like to start them out with a few dishes each, to make the move more affordable.  So there the dishes sit.

Also in the garage are lots of 8mm and VHS movies from when our kids were little, which I’d like to get onto digital files.  I bought the gadget months ago, but then never got around to taking the time.   So there’s another project to add to my list.

I guess that’s all I have for you today.  I’m off to the store to stock up the empty fridge, and then I’m taking these giggly girls to the library.  Should be fun!  How’s your summer coming along?

Happy Wedding!

Jared and Erika’s wedding was yesterday, and it was lovely! Here are a few highlights. Click on any photo to enlarge– and trust me– they are way better enlarged.  🙂

Yikes!

The wedding is THIS weekend, which means we spent Monday scurrying to find clothes for John, and shoes for Julianna, and wood for a project to beautify the reception area. In there I also managed to fit a panic attack over my clothing choice for the big day, complete with buying two other dresses that most likely I will return tomorrow since I don’t like them any better than the first one. Arg.  And double-arg because in the midst of starting a brand new job and working away from home for the first time in 17 years, I have NOT been fitting exercise in.  My loved ones assure me that I look just fine.  But the dresses (and my eyes)….they were not kind to me today.  We’re always the hardest on ourselves, aren’t we?

My dear friend texted me after seeing the dress options and said, ‘You are enough.  Slim enough, beautiful enough.  Enough.”  Just the reminder I needed, even if it did make me want to cry.

Tomorrow and Wednesday I work, and Thursday I’m finishing prepping rehearsal dinner food. Thankfully my sister’s husband is a BBQ guru and is taking care of the meat, so it will be YUMMY. We’re also doing corn on the cob and salads and sides from Costco to round out the rest of the meal.  And root beer floats.  Root beer floats are always good, right?  As long as you’re going for a down-home country-style picnic, which I am.

And lovely news– the temperature is supposed to be in the low 80’s for the actual wedding day, with (fingers crossed, knock on wood) 0% chance of rain. Soooo much nicer than the 106 degrees it was last week.  So thrilled to see Erika and Jared start their life together.  I will share pictures, eventually.  But this week is looking like a constant run of busy-ness, so this may be all you hear from me for now.

Wish us well as we celebrate!  And in case you’re like me, riddled with moments of doubt about yourself, remember who created you: the Creator of the universe who never makes mistakes. You are enough.  Really.  So celebrate!

Enough

 

 

Joy, joy, joy

I haven’t done a Sunday song in a long time, but when I heard this one the other day, I knew I needed to share it. Enjoy!
Joy, joy, joy

Also this week…

The bad news is, turns out this is NOT a week for frequent blogging.  Along with two full night shifts, and half a night when OB was short-staffed and I helped out for a bit,  I got to do two days of ACLS (advanced cardiac life support) certification.

The good news is  if you collapse in front of me and your heart isn’t clicking right along, I’ll go right into chest compressions, all the while hoping that the rest of the folks running into the room will remember whether your heart rhythm warrants epinephrine or dopamine or amnioderone.   I may even remember to stand clear when they get ready to juice your heart with a nice fat shock. Whew!  But an 88% is a pass, even if it’s not all perfectly cemented in there, so I’ll take it.

Also this week, I finally found a wedding dress for our youngest daughter. (Jared and Erika’s wedding is NINE days away, people!!!   🙂  )

A 10.5 year old is hard to shop for.  At least my 10 year old is!  She’s all anxious to look like a big person, and I’m feeling like, ah….this is one of my last chances to buy her a little-girl dress. But of course the dresses that looked like they were designed for a 25 year old were the ones she was drawn to, like a lemming to a cliff.   (No…….!) We were working at cross purposes for awhile there.

Jul's DressBut one of the really great things about surviving the parenting of a whole slew of teens  is that finally (despite the opinions of my 17 year old sons), I’m actually really truly becoming less of a control freak.   I did nix the pale peach formal that I was sure would have grass and/or food stains on it an hour after arriving at the big wedding– the kid still loves to run and play, after all.  But I didn’t make her choose the purely lil-girl dress, even though it matched the wedding theme PeRfEcTlY– and looked utterly precious.  Sigh…..sniff…  And her second-best choice turned out to be my second-favorite also.  So that was a compromise I could live with and she looks stunning in it, even if a lil more grown than I would prefer.  (Sigh.)

In other news, wedding planning is in full swing.  On the agenda for this afternoon is the testing of the Christmas lights so that the shaded area where the reception is to be held will be properly awash in twinkle.  Wish me luck to find (hopefully) a few that actually work.  Because buying Christmas lights in July is ridiculously spendy.  Also, if you happen to live in these parts and have some good lights you’d be inclined to loan, I’d love ya forever.  I’d even label them with your name and come pick them up from your house.  And return them to you in a week or two or six.  Definitely before November, anyhow.

Today we’re having fir fir for lunch, which is a delightfully spicy Ethiopian dish comprised of injera, butter, onions, shiro and LOTS of berbere. Spicy fabulousness……  I am absolutely LOVING the fact that Boise now has an Ethiopian restaurant —Kibrom’s— yummy!!!

Green Eggs!Also today we got these!!!  Our spring chickens have already started laying eggs, and finally, finally, after years of wishing for eggs in Easter-egg colors, we have them! The type of chicks we got are Araucanas.    We got 20, and it’s looking like only 4 of them are roosters.  So between the new hens and our 7 old hens, we should be utterly swimming in fresh eggs.   Such fun.  I’m really surprised they are already laying– I was totally psyched to wait til fall.  And aren’t those baby eggs cute?  Once the hens have matured a bit more, the eggs will get a little larger, tho this breed does not lay really big eggs.

That’s about it from here.  In a few days I’m planning on posting my mom’s fabulous gluten free bread recipe, so stay tuned!

 

 

 

Barstools for every budget

Can you believe it– a 3rd post in one week??  I think this part time work is agreeing with my blog!  The other day I was on Pinterest and got fixated on bar stools, and in the process I found so many fun style that I thought it’d be fun to share my finds here. Some of them are a little on the spendy end of life, but there are several budget options including one that (believe it or not) you can make yourself.

This first one is probably completely impractical– I don’t even know where you’d find truck springs that big–but I love, love, love the beefy look and the style!

truck springs

These next two are from Pottery Barn and at $200-$300 each they are a lot more than I’d like to spend. I also don’t like to imagine the havoc a toddler could make on these seats with a peanut butter sandwich.  Yikes.  But oh, so pretty.

Pottery Barn, backless

Pottery Barn, with backrest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Industrial Pipe StoolsHere’s that DIY stool project— I think it is super fun, and if you buy the parts at ZORO.com, the total cost per stool is somewhere around $60.  I love the fun steampunk look, though I would probably stain the wood top a darker color, and use a metal floor flange for the feet instead of the knob end.  You could even bolt them to the floor that way if you wanted to.

This next stool is from World Market and gets tons of rave reviews on the website– always a good sign.  I like the nice broad base– looks sturdy enough even for energetic children.World Market stool  It looks like it would be fairly adjustable height-wise too. At $119 each, these stools are mid-range cost-wise, but after spending 10 minutes reading the reviews, I felt ready to buy anyway. People love these things.

The stools below are from Overstock.com.  They’re $89.99 for a pair.  Look at all the colors they come in! I love the idea of popping some bright green ones into an otherwise neutral kitchen.

from Overstock.com

b7These barstools are available on amazon.  At $63 a pair they’re super affordable and also highly reviewed.  (Amazon reviews are sooo helpful!)  I like the textured seats and the fact that many reviewers mentioned that they were comfortable and stable for little children.

And finally, if you have some old bar stools that you’d like to repurpose, be sure to check out these tutorials for remaking barstools into night stands or side tables.  What neat ideas, eh?

 

My latest Stitch Fix

My latest Stitch Fix arrived this weekend, and tho I’m not modeling any of this for you, I snapped a quick picture so you could see what I got.

The tank top in the center, though fitting on top ended up being a little small in the hips– very sad since I LOVE the style.  However it looked perfect on my 13 year old daughter Emily, so I think we’ll keep it for her. The striped shirt on the far right was nice and I could imagine wearing it a lot.  But is very similar to a couple other tops I hav, so back it went.

June Stitch Fix

The chevron dress is hands down my favorite piece. Even though I am not at my trimmest these days, it is very flattering and my hubby really loves it. The only down side is that the underneath lining ends just above the knees, which I don’t expecially adore.

The ankle-length boyfriend jeans fit nicely and feel good– I was very surprised to get such a nice fit in jeans, since jeans tend to be so hard!

The coral/navy maxi skirt is lots of fun– it is definitely going to Ethiopia with me, along with several other maxi skirts. Awhile ago a friend (when complimented on how nice she looked in a maxi skirt) said, ‘They’re like sweats without a crotch– they’re so comfy!” I laughed at her description, but it is so true. Maxi skirts look AND feel awesome and they tend to be wrinkle free. Love them. And I think they’ll be especially nice in Ethiopia where we’ll be traveling constantly, AND modesty standards are a little higher than in the US.

Have you tried Stitch Fix? If you’d like to give this service a try, just click on my referral link.