Thursday, July 29, 2010

{ Cooking Thursday - July 29 }

Won't you join me and share with us one of your new recipes, or an old family favorite, you can even throw in a recipe for homemade soaps or detergents (just remember to specify).

For the guidelines, you can go here.


I have a cold and I didn't get any sleep last night, so I'm just coming in to post this up, please feel free to add your links to your recipes and I'll come and check them out later.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

{ From Starter to Bread }

Well hello there, did you miss me?

I know I haven't been blogging for the past week or so, but I've been really busy enjoying the last two weeks of time I have with my kiddos before school starts.

I've also been a little under the weather, so much so that not even crocheting has helped me. I tell you, summer colds are the pits.

But let's move on from dreary talk to something more interesting. Sourdough.

The first starter I began unfortunately didn't work out, remember I had to start feeding it, but for some reason the weather being so uncertain here lately, it just killed the starter so down the drain it went.

My second attempt went much, much, MUCH better and turned itself into one of the most delicious Sourdough Bread loaves EVER.

Sourdough Bread

Best Sourdough Bread

1 cup Sourdough Starter
2/3 cup milk
2 TBSP soft butter
2 TBSP sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour
1-1/2 tsp yeast

Mix the ingredients well.
Sourdough Bread Mixing

You can either make rolls or a loaf. If you're using a bread machine just use the instructions for the dough, then either roll into a loaf or make small rolls, setting them on a greased baking sheet. Allow to rise until doubled.

Sourdough Bread Rising

bake at 350* for approximately 25-35 minutes or until lightly browned.

Sourdough Bread

I'm not lying when I tell you that it was one of the BEST loaves of bread we've ever consumed. YUMMY doesn't even begin to cover it.

I'm onto my next Sourdough Starter project, going to try it again and I'm determined to stick to it and put up with the daily feedings and the changing of jars and whatever else comes my way.

All you really need is to get it right the first time and you'll have a Sourdough Starter that will last you for years.

This is the recipe I'm going to use, I found it online so thank you to The Cutting Board!

Sourdough Starter

2 cups lukewarm milk (lowfat is ok)
2 cups all purpose flour (seems to work better than bread flour)
2 1/2 tsp (one package) yeast

You will also need a large jar or container with a lid that has double the capacity of the starter, and a baking pan or big bowl to set it in to catch any oozing starter. (Use the initial mixing bowl after you clean it up.)

In a large capacity mixing bowl, mix gently on low speed of an electric mixer till all the big lumps are out. Pour it into your jar/container, wipe the rim and cover. Let it sit out a room temperature for 4-7 days to develop a good sour taste (don’t worry, it doesn’t spoil). Stir it once a day to “punch it down.” Chopsticks work well for stirrers. Watch it for running over – it gets exuberant in growth at this stage – if it does you can stir it back into the jar or container. That’s why you want a bowl underneath and a double capacity container! If you catch it in time before it runs over you can stir it down and/or transfer it to a larger container. Any clear liquid that forms on top can be stirred in or poured off as you prefer. It’s breakdown products from the yeast and will add a more sour taste to the starter.

After the initial “ripening” period, your starter can be used. Take out whatever portion your recipe calls for and replace it with an equal proportion of all-purpose flour and lukewarm water/milk mixture and stir them into the original starter. This will keep it alive – sourdough starter is a live culture and needs to be replenished regularly (at least twice a month) to remain active. After adding new ingredients wait another 12-24 hours before using or storing.

{ Shades of Morning Book Review }


The book:

Marnie Wittier has life just where she wants it. Quiet. Peaceful. No drama. A long way away from her past. In the privacy of her home, she fills a box with slips of paper, scribbled with her regrets, sins, and sorrows. But that’s nobody else’s business. Her bookstore/coffee shop patrons, her employees, her friends from church—they all think she’s the very model of compassion and kindness.

Then Marnie’s past creeps into her present when her estranged sister dies and makes Marnie guardian of her fifteen-year-old son—a boy Marnie never knew existed. And when Emmit arrives, she discovers he has Down syndrome—and that she’s woefully unprepared to care for him. What’s worse, she has to deal with Taylor Cole, her sister’s attorney, a man Marnie once loved—and abandoned.

As Emmit (and Taylor) work their way into her heart, Marnie begins to heal. But when pieces of her dismal past surface again, she must at last face the scripts of paper in her box, all the regrets and sorrows. Can she do it? Or will she run again?


My thoughts:

This was a really good book though I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of stories where they have you go back and forth, between the past and the present.

It can get a little irritating at times.

But the general story in the book was good until the end. I am not going to say what happened, I obviously don't want to ruin it for others, but I just feel that the ending should have been different, I didn't like it.

All in all it was a good read!

To purchase a copy of Shades of Morning click here

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Monday, July 26, 2010

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - July 26}

New HHM banner

The weather in my neck of the woods:
Still cloudy, we've had clouds for over a week and not any rain, just a little drizzle the other day.

Things that make me happy:

Book I'm reading:
Nothing right now, just finished Mr Darcy's Daughters and loved it.

What I'm enjoying on TV:
Pretty Little Liars
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2

On the menu for dinner:
Tuna Casserole

On my To Do List:
Laundry and more Laundry
Usual picking up of the house

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon:
Just made my first Sourdough Bread and it was AMAZING. Recipe will follow later today.

In the craft basket:
Granny Stripe Crochet Blanket.

Looking forward to this week:
Getting ready for school, this weekend we're buying all the school clothes and supplies.

Tips and Tricks:
Use a few drops of lemon juice to help remove grout stains. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Wipe dry. Lemon juice also acts as a mild disinfectant and leaves your house smelling fresh and inviting.

My favorite blog post this week:
Been so busy this past week, I haven't done any blog reading.

Blog Hopping (a new discovered blog you would like to share with the readers):
^^^^^^^ Read post above

No words needed (favorite photo or picture, yours or others you want to share):

Sourdough Starter

Lesson learned the past few days:

Align CenterThat nothing is too hard to achieve. For many years I have shied away from Sourdough Starter finding it intimidating and scary....but like all things in life, you gotta take a risk sometimes.

On my mind:
School starting on the 9th

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
Deuteronomy 30:16

Thursday, July 22, 2010

{ Sourdough Starter Day 2 }

Sourdough Starter Day 2

Here we are, Day 2 of this Sourdough Starter experiment.

Are you making it too? How is yours doing?

So remember yesterday within an hour it had bubbled up a LOT, so I moved it to the counter thinking that maybe it was too hot on the window sill and I didn't want to kill the yeast.

This morning I went to check on it and it smells really sour already but it didn't look bubbly and hadn't overflowed or doubled, it seemed kinda flat and had a liquid on top.

After searching around the net, I came to find out that liquid is called Hooch and it's actually good and means it's working, it says you can pour it out or stir it back into the mixture, which is what I did......but for some reason mine was just not looking right.

Now I don't know if it's fine and I'm just overreacting because I tend to kill plants and I'm thinking that maybe I'm going to kill my sourdough starter too, or if maybe from moving it from the window to the counter killed it or if I stirred it too much or whatever.

But I didn't want to throw it all out and start again, so I went ahead and fed it. I added another cup of flour and another cup of water, stirred it good and now it's bubbly again.

Sourdough Starter Day 1

I really didn't want to go the 8 day route, feeding it every single day and all that, but it looks like that's what I'll be doing with that batch.

In the meantime though, I started another batch from the same recipe I gave you yesterday and I'm not moving it or touching it yet, I'll leave it overnight and then stir it tomorrow morning and again a few times during the day and let it ferment for the 2-3 days as the West Ladies suggest.

So the one right above is the new one, we'll see how that one goes.

Sourdough Starter

I tell you what though, the first one already smells really sour and just like it's supposed to, so I'm hoping and praying that it's still active and will still work out. Fingers crossed.

Let me know how yours is doing and share pictures too if you can, I want to see it :)

Sourdough Starter - Day 1

{ Cooking Thursday - July 21 }

Won't you join me and share with us one of your new recipes, or an old family favorite, you can even throw in a recipe for homemade soaps or detergents (just remember to specify).

For the guidelines, you can go here.

My recipe for today can actually be found in my post below, it's for Sourdough Starter.



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

{ Sourdough Starter }


One of my favorite things to do, is bake bread.

I just love the whole process, the kneading, the baking and then knowing that when it's all done my family is rewarded with a loaf or two of the best tasting fresh homemade bread.

There really is nothing like a warm slice of bread slathered with butter, is there?

I've been wanting to make Sourdough Bread for such a long time but quite frankly, it intimidated me, I have looked through so many recipes and websites and they made it sound like you need some sort of degree in bread making to even attempt it.

So, it's been put off, for a really long time.

Until I got my first Homestead Blessings DVD's, the West ladies make it seem so so easy and after watching the video The Art of Bread Making, I decided that it's now or never.

If you've never made a Sourdough Starter for fear that it would be really hard or a difficult process, then stop that thought and get right in the kitchen with me.

Let's make some together shall we? What's the worse that could happen? It doesn't work? Then we'll start right up again, but imagine if it does, we'll all be eating delicious Sourdough Bread, Pancakes, Pizza Dough etc in a few days.

Making Sourdough
Credit: Homestead Blessings - The Art of Bread Making

• 2 cups of All Purpose Flour
• 3 tablespoons of Sugar
• 1 tablespoon of Active Dry Yeast
• 1/2 teaspoon of Salt
• 2 cups of Warm Water

Mix in plastic or glass bowl till blended. Cover with cloth and set in warm place out of draft. Stir several times each day. Let ferment 2 to 3 days.

To use, remove starter needed for recipe then refrigerate remaining starter. Replenish every 7 to 10 days by stirring equal amounts of water and flour. Let stand at room temperature overnight and return to fridge.

Some people use bowls and some use these big glass jars, that's what I'm using and besides I don't have a glass bowl big enough.

The West Ladies advice using a plastic or a wooden spoon to stir the ingredients.

In goes the tablespoon of yeast, I measured it out and it's exactly one of the little packets of Dry Yeast that you get at the grocery store.

Stir the ingredients well.

Cover with a cloth. I set mine on the window for about 10 minutes and with this Arizona heat it quickly expanded and bubbled up, so I removed it and it's now sitting on my counter.


This is what it looks like two hours later, can you see all those bubbles?


I'll keep you up to date on my Sourdough Starter, I'll even take photos every day to show you.

You may have noticed that usually they tell you it takes 7 to 8 days and you're adding flour and water every day to it and stirring and whatever.

Honesty, that put me off because with everything that I have going on during the day, I can bet you anything that I would totally forget about it.

This way, it seems a lot easier and shorter too, only 2 to 3 days. I can DO that.

And while I was in the kitchen, I whipped up a quick batch of chocolate cupcakes, because I don't feel well and because chocolate makes everything better, doesn't it?


so does's the beginning of my big Queen sized Granny Stripe blanket. Not exactly the colors I wanted but I'm just using leftover yarn in my stash, so who knows what every stripe will be, I'm just sure that by the time I'm finished I will absolutely love my blankie.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

{ Therapeutic }


I've had a lot going on the past few days, not just with housework and the craziness of the last few weeks before school starts again, but I've got a husband with a cold, a little one with swimmer's ear and now it seems that my dear husband has passed his cold to me.

I haven't been feeling too well the past two days, but one thing that always makes me feel better is crocheting.

There's something very relaxing, very therapeutic about the colorful yarns, the way the yarn transforms from one single line into something beautiful.

When I'm feeling down or sick, one of the blogs I always turn to for a smile and inspiration, is Lucy at Attic24, she's so inspiring and I know that I can always find a new project to try.


Yesterday I received some new yarn in the mail and I knew exactly what I wanted to make with it.

Granny Stripes, it's just Lucy's twist on the old favorite Granny Squares.

The first two rows are nerve wrecking, counting all the stitches making sure everything is right until you get to the end of the row, then hope and pray you don't have to rip it all apart and restart, but once those two are done, it's smooth sailing.

It whips up really fast and after 2 hours of crochet last night and one this afternoon, this is the end product.

I love it.


And now, I'm working on a Granny Stripe blanket, just using up leftover yarn from my stash, but I'm thinking here soon I'm going to buy a bunch more in pretty colors for another one.

I want one like Lucy's


Well my head is pounding so I'm off to work on a few more rows.

Monday, July 19, 2010

{ Eco Store USA Product Review }

EcoStore USA is having a BOGO sale online. They are doubling all orders placed through the end of July and as always, all orders over $25 ship free! Don't miss out on this great opportunity to try their amazing products.

I was recently contacted by the Eco StoreUSA and asked if I would be interested in trying some of their products.

For a while now I've been trying to keep a better eye on the products I use in my home, far too many things are made with tons of chemicals and not exactly safe to be around children, pets, or adults for that matter.

So I've made a conscious effort to buy eco friendly products.

I had not heard of the Eco Store before so I was eager to give it a try and see what their stuff was like.

about the ecostore

ecostore USA loves making a difference in people’s lives. We are passionate about improving the planet and bringing you everyday household products that are safer and healthier for you and your family. Originating in 1993 as a New Zealand-based manufacturer, wholesale distributor and retailer of sustainable household and personal care products, ecostore USA offers plant-based cleaning products as well as body and baby care products. The guiding principle of our formulations is that the end product must not only be good for the planet, but must also be good for the user.

I received three products in the mail:


I love, love, love the dishwashing liquid. They are not kidding when they say that a little goes a long way. I squeezed in a tiny bit, I mean just one little squeeze and that was enough for a whole load of dishes, it smells wonderful, clean and citrusy and fresh and it's super soft on your hands too.



  • Palm and coconut based ionic, non-ionic and anionic surfactants
  • Mineral hydroxide
  • Natural citrus oil
My dishes were sparkling and where I actually saw the most difference was in my glasses. Now usually when I use other washing liquids, they do the job but I don't really get shiny clean dishes, not like this. I'm really impressed with this Dishwashing Liquid and I plan on buying from them from now on.

Coconut Vanilla Body Wash was another of the products I received. It is a blend of certified organic essential oils and one of the things I love about it, other than it leaving my skin really soft and smelling so wonderful, is that it does not contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, artificial dyes, perfumes or preservatives, which is actually found in most of the other body care products we use.

I've noticed an improvement in my skin, it feels so much smoother. Granted I can't even pronounce the ingredients LOL But that's pretty much case with almost everything I buy, but needless to say if you look at the list, you'll notice that there are no dyes and no perfumes and all that other nasty stuff they add to Body washes.


* Water
* Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate
* Sodium Lauroamphoacetate
* Wheat Germamidopropyldimonium
* Hydroxypropyl Hydrolysed Wheat Protein
* Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride
* Sodium Hydroxymethyl Glycinate
* Certified Organic Fragrance


Lastly, I got the Vanilla Bar Soap.

First thing that got me was the scent, if you love vanilla, then you'll love this bar of soap. Aside from being really soft on your body too, it's made with vegetable oils and natural essential oils, again nothing nasty and harsh in the soap.


* Sodium Palmate (palm oil)
* Sodium Cocoate (coconut oil)
* Sodium chloride (salt)
* Vegetable Glycerine
* Tetra Sodium Etidronate and Tetra Sodium EDTA (antioxidants used to preserve the stability of vegetable oils in soap base. Derived from vinegar. Safe for skin)

Overall I have to say that I'm really impressed with the ecostore USA products and will definitely buy from them in the future.

Thanks to ecostore USA for providing the products for the purposes of this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - July 19}

New HHM banner

The weather in my neck of the woods:
Cloudy but no rain, though I wish it would.

Things that make me happy:

Book I'm reading:
Mr Darcy's Daughters - very good

What I'm enjoying on TV:
The Gates
Pretty Little Liars
Sleepy Hollow - Oldie but I haven't watched it yet

On the menu for dinner:
Bacalhau com Natas (Cod Fish in a Cream Sauce)

On my To Do List:
Sweep and mop the floors
Iron and put away laundry
File paperwork

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon:
Frozen Orange Pie

In the craft basket:
Crochet, crochet, crochet.

Looking forward to this week:
Just relaxing and enjoying the last of summer with my kiddos

Tips and Tricks:
Use a few drops of lemon juice to help remove grout stains. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Wipe dry. Lemon juice also acts as a mild disinfectant and leaves your house smelling fresh and inviting.

My favorite blog post this week:
Growing herbs for different teas at Chiot's Run

Blog Hopping (a new discovered blog you would like to share with the readers):
Living Our Dream - I discovered this blog about a month ago and I just love going there to visit. The blog's authors are retired and travel full time in their RV. They have stunning photos and very interesting places to share with us.

No words needed (favorite photo or picture, yours or others you want to share):


Lesson learned the past few days:

Align CenterTo stick to my morals and values and to never waver.

On my mind:
My hubby who has a bad cold and still has to go to work.

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."
Matthew 5:6

Sunday, July 18, 2010

{ Gotta See It Sunday - #2}

Oohh do I have a few things to share with you.

I've watched some things this past week and some I'm really excited about and others I'm downright disappointed and disgusted.

The Gates - ABC

I'm still watching this one and enjoying it, it's different but also keeping with what's popular right now. Vampires, Werewolves, Witches etc...all that supernatural stuff.
I won't say that I love the show, I don't and maybe I'll come to in the future, I mean, it's only about 4 episodes into the Series so we'll see how it goes.

Pretty Little Liars - ABCFamily

I'm completely loving this show, so much so that I can't wait for every week's episode. At first I wondered if I would enjoy it, the previews looked very interesting but I thought it would be directed at teenagers and not something I would enjoy. Boy was I wrong. It's very good.

The show is centered around 5 girls, and it starts with the Queen Bee going missing. Now it's a year later and the remaining 4 girls start getting threatening messages from her.

Like I said, I'm really enjoying it.

Haven - Syfy

Another show that surprised me. When I first saw the previews it looked really interesting so I set my DVR to record it. Now mind you when the first episode started it wasn't exactly a "grab you from the get go" thing for me.

But within 20 minutes it started getting interesting and having watched the second episode, I'm loving this one too. It's hard to explain exactly what it's about, but it's centered around the town of Haven, Maine which is like a refuge for all these people with supernatural afflictions.

If you like Stephen King you'll definitely like this show.

The Cazalets

I don't even know where to start with this, and the only word that comes to my mind when thinking about it is, disgusting.

It's a huge disappointment to me as a BBC and Masterpiece Theater fan, I don't think there has ever been a movie or tv series from them that I have not liked......until this one.

The premise of the movie was interesting, I was thinking, great, story set during WWII, should be interesting.

Well it was NOT.

Now let me start by saying that I'm not a prude and I don't flinch when I see nudity or sex in movies, but when a show seems to focus on that and then adultery and how many affairs can these people have, it's just disgusting to me.

I tried to enjoy it, I tried to look past that but about 30 minutes into the first disc, I saw something on screen that really made me sick and infuriated me to the point where I had to shut it off, remove the disc, immediately seal it in the envelope and send it to Netflix with a big 1 Star rating because that's the lowest I could go.

One of the main characters (the womanizer) takes his teenage daughter to dinner for her birthday and after quite a bit of wine to drink, on BOTH their parts, they return home where he proceeds to kiss her and try to force himself on her. GROSS, disgusting and something I really do NOT want to see.

So I can not in any way shape, or form, suggest this movie to anyone and had I known what it was like, I never would have mentioned it in my blog post last week.


That's all I got around to watching this week but I do have some good stuff lined up for the next few days.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

{ Something huge, my way comes }


Are you scared yet?

Let me start by saying that I can not stand bugs, of any kind. Big, small, spotted or not, whatever, I can't stand them, they make my skin crawl, enough so that I'm actually unable to eat anything for at least an hour after an encounter with one of these things.

So imagine my afternoon yesterday when I stepped outside my laundry room door to go and turn on my sprinkler, and upon returning my eye caught a glimpse of something big on the ground, I mean like right up against my door.

I quickly glanced down and saw this.......Lord have mercy.....


My first thought was......Oh my gosh I almost stepped on that.

then it changed to.....but what in Heaven's name IS that?

Is it a butterfly, is it a moth, please don't say moth, I am deathly afraid of moths. I don't know why but moths are the ONE bug that will send me into little girl screams and fits of shivers.

But then I realized, this is a blog post in the making, so I went back inside....THROUGH the front door mind you, there's no way I was going to walk in that door, knowing my luck it would go into flight and follow me inside.

I quickly grabbed my camera and I may have yelled out something like "OMG I just saw a gigantic moth outside".


I don't know where I found the courage, but not only did I snap pictures of this monster, I actually used my macro feature and was pretty much touching my lens to it's gross body. All in the name of a good Blog Picture.

What is wrong with me?

Should I tell you that after this incident, I came back into the house (through the other door, of course) and tried to finish eating my Frozen Orange Pie, which suddenly became inedible due to recurring thoughts in my mind of "what if I had stepped on that thing? Imagine the squish, it's body is so big".

Ok enough I'm grossing myself out again.

Aren't you glad you came here after breakfast? Gross! I'll stop torturing you all, and myself.

Anyway, I posted these on my facebook account and one of our friends suggested posting it on Bug Guide, which I did and within 5 minutes someone had identified it as the Rustic Sphinx Moth.

Cool name, even if it gives me the shivers.

Friday, July 16, 2010

{ Giveaway Winners }

First, thank you to all who entered the two giveaways, and now for the winners.

The winner is #4 Chantel from the blog "Nesting"

The winners are:

#6 - Katrina at My Life as a Married Girl
#11- Becky at So Very Blessed

Congratulations to all, please email me as soon as you can so that I may get the prizes out to you.

{ Help, I can't decide }

Yesterday my kids took turns with the camera and randomly snapping pictures of me, after transferring them to the computer and messing around with them a bit, I realized that I like them all and have no idea which one to make my new profile pic.

So I need your help!

Ok I wasn't really in a field of corn, but I wish I was...does that count for something?

I just can't decide, I think they're all different and completely portray who I am.

So what do you think? Which one? This is tough man!