Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 31: Eight months old

My goodness, I don't know what happened to the month of January. It just disappeared! And now this baby girl is a whole month older. Oh, how I wish I could freeze time right now! I'm not ready for her to get any bigger.

Our sweet baby Isla is HUGE! I'm guessing she weighs around 18.5 pounds right now. That is definitely bigger than Audrey at this age. Actually, we just compared Isla and Audrey's legs last night. It is quite possible that Isla's thighs are bigger than Audrey's thighs are right now. That girl has all of her fat packed into the lower half of her body! I don't even know how she is so chubby, because she is really not a huge eater.

We are working on finger foods. It's funny because she picks up everything and puts it in her mouth...except for food . Somehow she knows the difference between food and non-food items! She is doing pretty good with the pincer grasp, picking things up with her thumb and finger. She will pick up her food, look at it, shake it, smash it...but she won't put it in her mouth. She is getting to the point where she will let us help her get it in her mouth. Once in her mouth, she likes the food and does a good job chewing it before swallowing. It's just going to take a little more practice until she is self-sufficient with this eating stuff!Isla is still not rolling over too much, but she is growing more tolerant of tummy time. No signs of crawling at all. Her standing balance is getting pretty good though. She can hold onto something and stand up for quite a while on her own. I'm thinking she might start walking before she even starts rolling over consistently!

She makes all kinds of sounds; squealing and happy screaming still seem to be her favorites. Lately, I have been hearing lots of "mum" and "mumma" sounds from her. I like to think that she is calling me by name! =)Now that she has figured it out, Isla loves to clap. For the first few days, she would start clapping everytime someone looked at her. Since she caught on to clapping so quickly, we have been working on the sign for "more" at mealtimes. If we do the sign for more, she will start clapping. Sometimes she will clap on her own after each bite. It does seem like she understands what we want her to do and is trying to communicate with us....which is really fun!

She also loves to jump in her jumper. Especially when big sister comes and jumps right beside her!

Monday, January 30, 2012

January 30: 60 degrees in January!

I took a little blogging hiatus this weekend. Not too much to write about. We had a fairly quiet weekend and didn't do much besides hang out at home.

Saturday night, I had book club. We discussed the book What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. It's a good book about a woman who has amnesia and can't remember the last 10 years of her life. In our discussion, we brought pictures and discussed what we were doing 10 years ago. In January 2002, I had just found out that Daniel was interested in me, and I was trying to determine if I might be interested in him as well. Fast forward ten years...here we are with a family of our own!

After book club, a few of us went to go see The Artist. The Artist is a silent, black and white film about the end of the silent film era. It is most likely going to win the Academy Award for Best Picture this year. It really was a great movie. Even without the spoken word, it is entertaining and keeps your attention. You should go see it!

Moving on to the topic of the day: it was 60 degrees today...in January! We had to spend a little bit of time outside, and of course we had to take some pictures.

It was a bit windy, and Isla kept making this funny face every time the wind blew.Audrey insisted that we bring out the sidewalk chalk!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January 26: Chicken Stir Fry with Couscous

Here's a recipe I made for dinner the other night. It wasn't anything too fancy. But it was real food, it was healthy, and we really liked it. I started with this recipe, but then ended up changing it so much that it felt like a completely different recipe by the end.

I made this in a hurry with ingredients on hand, so I'm sure that you could change the way you cook things or the ingredients and make it better. But this is the way I made it, and we thought it turned out pretty good. The original recipe called for squash, which I didn't have, so I left it out. I'm sure you could add squash or other veggies to make it better (that is, if you like vegetables! I will be honest and confess that I didn't even eat the peppers in this. I just ate the chicken and couscous. I like the flavor of peppers when cooked with other foods, but I do
not like to bite into them. Picky, I know. I'm working on it).

This was my first time to try couscous. And I really liked it! Definitely a good and healthier alternative to white rice.

Chicken Stir Fry with Couscous

3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium red pepper
1 medium green pepper
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
A few leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped
Thyme, to taste
1 1/3 cup chicken broth
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 T. butter

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add peppers, onion, garlic, basil and thyme. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. Add strips of chicken to the veggies and continue to stirfry until the chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

In a separate pan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir and fluff with a fork. Add the butter and sprinkle a little more basil and thyme into the couscous, mixing it all together until the butter melts.

To serve, pile couscous on the plate first and then top with chicken and veggies.

I also served these baked apples with this meal. The recipe says to peel and slice the apples, but I was in a hurry. So I left them unpeeled and just chopped them up. Still delicious! I used sucanat in place of the brown sugar. This was my first time to cook with sucanat, which is unrefined cane sugar. I have tried to eliminate white and brown sugar from my regular baking (I like to bake a lot!). I am eager to use sucanat more and see how it compares, as it is a more natural and healthier sugar option.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

January 25: Isla can clap!

Sometimes I get worried that Isla is never going to learn how to do anything because we don't spend enough time playing with her. She is so chilled out and content most of the time, that is almost too easy to ignore and just let her do her own thing while we are busy with other stuff. We don't really ignore her, but she definitely does not get as much one on one attention as Audrey did.

Today, I decided to spend some time with Isla and work with her on waving and clapping. We haven't really tried to get her to clap or wave or do any signs or anything yet, and today seemed like a good day to try it. Audrey was really slow to wave and clap. She first waved at 10 months and didn't clap until 13 months. However, Isla kind of started to get the hang of both today with just a little direction from me! It is so crazy how different babies develop different skills at different ages.

Here is a video of Isla's clapping. She starts to get her hands together, and then she gets too excited and just starts flapping her arms all over the place. She cracks me and Audrey up!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

January 23: Photo Shoot Day

The girls and I stayed home all day today, and we ended up taking a lot of pictures!

I started the day doing a little photo shoot to get some pictures for Valentine's Day cards. I have a code for 24 free cards that I need to redeem soon. Fortunately, both girls were in a very photogenic mood. They were all smiles.
Later this afternoon, we were up in the girls' room while I was putting some clothes away. Audrey wanted to play with her dress up clothes. She wanted to walk down the hall in each dress, and then I had to introduce her by her princess name. "Here comes, Cinderella!" Then, I took her picture.

I did absolutely nothing to get her to pose; all of these poses are complete Audrey originals! If I would have asked her to pose, she would have stuck her tongue out or made a funny face. She was much more cooperative, and actually kind of good at posing, when I let her do her own thing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

January 22: Pantry "Before" Pictures

Organizing my kitchen is definitely on my list of projects for this month. Especially now that I am cooking more and actually using my kitchen! Really, I would just like a whole new kitchen. But that is not going to happen any time soon, so for now I'm going to do what I can to make the space I have work for me.

We don't have a pantry, just three kitchen cabinets that we use for food storage. I do store a few stock up items in our basement storage, but other than that, this is the space we have for food. It's not a huge space, and I am really not using the space well right now. Everything just gets thrown in wherever.

I am hosting a Tupperware party this week, and I'm hoping to get some containers to help organize this space better. (If you live in town and want to come to the party, let me know!)

Here are the before pictures of my kitchen cabinets:

Once I get my Tupperware here in a few weeks, I'll post the after pictures!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

January 21: Grocery Shopping and Real Food

I went grocery shopping today. Fun times. I brought the groceries home, and Audrey wanted to help me put them away. Watching her pull everything out of the bags, you would have thought it was Christmas morning! She was so excited about everything I bought. Here are just a few of her exclamations of excitement: "Toilet paper!" she said. "I can use it EVERY DAY!" "Wow, Mom, blueberries. Blueberries are my favorite!" "Oh, Mom, look, look at this...it's quesadillas" (while holding up a package of tortillas). "You bought me more applesauce? Thanks, Mom, thanks!" "I'm so excited!!" "Oh, I love it! I love it!" Seriously, it was hilarious. I wish I would have recorded her.

Speaking of grocery shopping, I am in the midst of a transition with our grocery shopping. A few years ago, I started using coupons to save money on our grocery bill. Our grocery budget was $50 a week, and I tried to come under that as much as possible. Some weeks I could buy all the food we needed for the week for just $30.

I haven't been using too many coupons lately for a couple of reasons:
1. I don't think manufacturer's are putting out as many good coupons. It seems to be harder to find really good deals.
2. For the past few months, we have been trying to cut out processed foods and eat more of a real food diet. Most coupons are for processed foods, so I don't buy many coupon items anymore.

We are not doing a 100% real food diet. I'm not quite ready to give up on all processed foods yet. It's kind of surprising that I even got on this real food kick, because I am not a healthy eater. I'm very picky, and I don't like green vegetables. One of these days I am going to have to grow up and start eating more vegetables, but I'm not quite there yet.

However, I do think there is good reason to eat more naturally and cut out processed foods. So, I am doing what I can to help us fix meals and snacks at home that are all natural. Mostly that means I am cooking a lot more from scratch, which is more work but also kind of fun. (One of these days I'll give you more specifics about we are eating and what we are no longer eating, and maybe I'll post some recipes too).

My biggest problem is with our grocery budget. Real food costs a lot more money than fake food!! I'm in the process of figuring how much we have been spending over the past few months and trying to make a new budget. $50 per week is definitely not enough to feed all of us for the whole week.

It's painful for me to start spending more money on food. I always prided myself on being able to feed our family without spending much money. However, I'm starting to think that there is a problem with that type of thinking. Americans spend less of their income on food than any other country (under 10%). Maybe that is not such a good thing. Cheap food is not always good food.

I've seen this quote from Michael Pollen, who wrote In Defense of Food. (I have not read the book, but I've seen this quote in several places with some of his other thoughts on food):
“Is it just a coincidence that as the portion of our income spent on food has declined, spending on health care has soared? In 1960 Americans spent 17.5 percent of their income on food and 5.2 percent of national income on health care. Since then, those numbers have flipped: Spending on food has fallen to 9.9 percent, while spending on heath care has climbed to 16 percent of national income. I have to think that by spending a little more on healthier food we could reduce the amount we have to spend on heath care.” – Michael Pollan
So, I am trying to train myself that it is okay to spend more of our income on food. Even if it is painful at times! Real quality food should be considered a good investment of our money.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 19: Photo Organization

Obviously, I take a lot of pictures. Sometimes I do a good job keeping them all organized; and sometimes, all my pictures are just a mess. Lately, I have been working to straighten up all my photos and improve my system for keeping them organized.

First, let's talk about prints. I am a bit old-fashioned, but I really like to have actual physical prints of most of my pictures. I don't print every single picture that I take, but I do print a lot of them. Audrey has always loved to look through all of our photo albums. When she was just learning how to talk, it was a great way for her to practice everyone's names. I also think it is a great way to help her remember all the fun things we do!

I am fairly diligent about putting my pictures in albums with captions. It is one thing that I actually do stay on top of on a regular basis! Someday, I would love to have all matching photo albums. But for now, this is my hodgepodge of photo albums, along with all of our baby books and random photo books that I have made.
To print my pictures, I take advantage of free or really cheap print deals from Shutterfy, Snapfish or Walgreens. Whenever there is a good deal, I print as many pictures as I can. Once I have my pictures printed, I try to put them in albums right away. I like the albums that have space for caption writing on the sides so I can write down dates and labels for the pictures.This week, I made labels for the fronts of all my albums. Nearly all of them have a space for a picture on the front. So I just printed the dates of the pictures in that album and inserted that label into the picture space on the front.

Then, there are the digital pictures. I'm estimating that I have about 10,000 pictures on my computer right now. I do get lazy about keeping these organized though. I tend to just dump them all into the "My Pictures" folder with the intention of organizing them later. That is silly, because it would be much easier to just organize them when I save them. Tonight, I worked on cleaning up my photo folders.I take all of my photos in RAW format, then edit them in Lightroom and export them as JPEGs. The yearly folders at the top are all the RAW files that Lightroom automatically saves. The rest of the folders are my JPEG images. Most people probably organize their photos by date; Windows would even do that for me and it would be easier. But I prefer to organize them by category. It is easier for me to find pictures that way, as I don't have to remember the exact date the photo was taken. And I just like it better that way.

I like having all of the girls' pictures in their own folder like this:
I also like having all of my holiday photos all in one place. It is fun to look through and see how we have changed from year to year.
I won't bore you with any more screen shots of my photo files. You get the idea! It does feel good to have every photo now in its rightful place. I'm sure I will sleep better tonight now that I have completed this task! =)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January 18: Good-bye PT!

It's a big week for Isla. Today she graduated from physical therapy!For the past couple of months, we have just been checking in with Shannon once a month to make sure Isla continues to make progress with her neck and upper body strength and head rotation. Today, Shannon said that Isla is right where she needs to be, therefore physical therapy is no longer necessary for her.
Shannon says Isla has all the head, neck and upper body strength that she needs to be able to roll over consistently and to crawl. She complimented Isla's amazing sitting balance and noted that she holds her head perfectly in alignment, no tilting to either side. Isla can now turn her 90 degrees in both directions and range of motion is no longer an issue. She says that Isla will roll over and crawl when she wants to roll over and crawl. We just have to keep putting her on her tummy to give her an opportunity to do those things. She said that her own daughter was like Isla...she was sitting up great and doing everything else she should be doing. But she didn't roll over until 9 months, and then she immediately started crawling.
It is a relief to me to hear from an expert that she is still on track with her development, just a little slow in the rolling over department. Isla has come a long way since we started all of this
almost six months ago. When she was two months old, she would only turn her head 60-70 degrees each way. Around 4 months, she grew more reluctant to turn her head, and we ended up getting neck x-rays to rule out any problems with her neck bones. Shortly after that, she had a breakthrough and started turning her head more and more each way.

We've done all kinds of stretching exercises and hours and hours of tummy time. It is good to know that all of our work paid off, and she is now doing great. She is growing big and strong and enjoying her new, cute, round, helmet-free head!

To celebrate the end of both the helmet and physical therapy, I ordered some new headbands for Isla today. I need to get a bunch of alligator clips as well, so I can convert all of Isla's velcro flowers into clips that both girls can wear. We are enjoying being able to snuggle with Isla's head again and give her kisses! Kissing the helmet just isn't the same!This is Isla's new laughing face. She scrunches her eyes up and giggles...it is pretty funny.
I also tried to take some pictures of Audrey today. She was more than happy to let me take pictures of her, but she wasn't exactly cooperative. She thinks it is hilarious to jump in front of the camera and strike a silly pose/face. This is the best shot of the day with her.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January 17: More Organization

Before Isla was born, I created a new place in our dining room for storing paper, mail, receipts and other things that used to end up piled on my desk.

Eight months later, and it's time to check in and see how this new system is working for me. Here is what the shelf looked like earlier this week:
Not too bad, but there were some problems that needed attention:
1. The red bin on the top was serving no purpose, other than collecting random junk that really didn't fit in the space.
2. The silver filing trays were filled with random papers and other junk, and none of them were organized at all.
3. Papers with no home were starting to get piled up on top of the boxes.
4. The boxes still didn't have labels on them.
5. The two white boxes on the bottom shelf were empty and serving no purpose.

Most of these problems are a result of not having an exact home for everything that I wanted to store here. So I started by pulling out all of the papers and other junk that gets piled here. Then I sorted it into categories to figure out exactly what needed a home. I reorganized the trays and boxes and the top bin. Hopefully there will now be a place to put everything that I want to put on this shelf.

I also made labels for the boxes so we know what is inside of them without having to open them up and look. I should have done that a long time ago!

Monday, January 16, 2012

January 16: Good-bye Helmet!!

Isla graduated from her helmet today!!!!!

Well, she technically isn't quite finished with the helmet yet. She will still be wearing it at night for a few more weeks. However, the night time wearing is just a precaution. We don't want her head to regress and flatten out again. Since she will just be wearing it to prevent flattening and not to correct it, in my mind we can say that she graduated from needing its correction anymore!

Her CPI today was 86%. Normal is 83-85%. We are extremely happy with the way her head looks right now. The back is round, the side bulges are gone...there really is no need to keep correcting her head shape because it is now CORRECT!

I am sure I will have more final thoughts on the helmet, but it's too late tonight to form any coherent thoughts. I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves for now:

Friday, January 13, 2012

January 13: Book Nook

Our book nook is complete...for now at least! I'm sure I will come up with some more ideas to add (like a lamp or some more pillows) in the future. But right now, we are calling this project finished!I bought this fun polka dot bean bag. So far, Audrey hasn't done any reading in the bean bag but she has done plenty of jumping on the beanbag!

I also typed out and printed a fun book quote to go in the frames. I had visions of this quote being printed on canvases, but I didn't quite have the money for that. I already had these frames, so that made this decor FREE. And we like free decor around here!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January 12: Snow!

We finally got our first snowfall of the season. Not much snow, just a couple of inches. I'm not a big fan of snow. When I was teaching, I loved it if it was enough to get school cancelled. Now, without the hope of a cancelled school day, I just don't see any reason go get excited about snow. It's cold and messy. And did I mention cold??

However, I'm trying not to let my bah-humbug attitude about snow rub off on Audrey. Just because I want to hibernate all winter doesn't mean that she should want to do the same. She was pretty excited when I told her to open the door this morning and look outside. "Snow!" she said. "Mom, where is my sleigh? I need my sleigh!"

Daniel had a lunch meeting and practice at church tonight. So the girls and I were on our own from about the time they woke up to the time they went to bed. I didn't feel like going anywhere in the cold, windy weather either, and I knew it was going to be a long day at home. To help the time pass more quickly, I tried to come up with a bunch of activities to keep us busy today. We also stayed in our pajamas all day, because that is what you are supposed to do on cold snowy days at home!
It seemed like a good day for baking. So while Isla was napping this morning, Audrey and I made muffins. It is always a slower and messier process when Audrey helps bake, but she loves it so I usually let her help. Today we made these Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal muffins. I wish I would have made a double batch, because we have been eating them up all day long!
There was no way that I was going outside to play in the snow...way too cold and windy for that. So instead, I brought some big bowls of snow inside to make snowmen. We tried this two years ago, and Audrey was not a fan of touching the cold snow. She has grown up and toughened up a little. Today she helped me get big handfuls of snow and pat it into balls, and she even thought it was fun too!

The only problem was we took too long making our snowman. By the time we were ready to decorate him, the snow was melting and he quickly started to look deformed. This alien looking snowman was the best we could make today.
We also made snow ice cream. I think we tried this last year, and it just wasn't very good. Audrey wouldn't eat it. I think my ice cream this year was a better ratio of snow/milk/sugar. And with the addition of fresh strawberries, it was actually quite delicious!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 10

So, this little old blog of mine is finally updated with a new look and a new name. I couldn't come up with anything creative for a name. After a couple of weeks of thinking (and coming up with nothing), I went ahead with another generic name. But at least it's a new generic name.

I'm a bit underwhelmed with the tagline as well. But I was trying to think of a way to summarize what this blog is all about. It's mostly about my family and the girls, as well as some of my random thoughts and just my life in general. So that's what we are calling it...."my family, my thoughts, my life." It kind of sounds narcissistic and all about me, but isn't that true of most all blogs? It seems as though that is kind of the purpose of blogs...to give us a place to talk about ourselves!

Moving on to today's post! Audrey had some Christmas money to spend from Grandpa and Grandma. I found a good deal on this dollhouse (sells for $94, I was able to buy it new for $40). I had a feeling that it would be a hit with Audrey, and I was right! She was SO excited when it arrived in the mail today. I was planning to wait until Daniel got home and let him put it together. But Audrey did not want to wait, so I put it together all by myself while Audrey and Isla watched and cheered me on. It was fairly easy to put together, but just opening up all the packaging took about 20 minutes!I love watching Audrey playing with dolls and pretending. It is so fun to see how things from her real life translate into her pretend play. I need to start making a list of all the things she says to her dolls or she pretends that they say to her. It is so cute!!

I also got this book for the girls with some of their Christmas money. I am super excited about it! I splurged and spent a full $10 for it.It is not the real story of Pride and Prejudice. Obviously, that would be a little advanced for a baby board book. It is called a counting primer, and it just basically counts (from 1-10) various people, places and things from the real book. The illustrations are really cute, and so far the book has been a big hit with Audrey.Her favorite page is this one:
She quickly learned the names of all the sisters, and she is so proud of herself every time we get to this page and she can list them off: "Jane, Elizabeth, Lydia, Kitty and Mary!" I don't expect her to be smarter or anything because she has a Pride and Prejudice book. I just think it's a really fun idea.

There is one other book available right now in this BabyLit board book series: Romeo and Juliet. But soon they will be releasing Alice in Wonderland and Jane Eyre. I might be tempted to buy them all!

Monday, January 9, 2012

January 9

Isla has graduated to sitting in the front of the cart when we are out shopping. Up until now, she was usually hanging out in her bucket car seat in the back of the cart while we shopped. I have been getting tired of lugging her around in that carseat...too heavy! It is a bit more of a hassle to get her in and out of the car seat in the cold weather and deal with getting her bundled up in a coat, but I think it is time. Isla definitely seems to be enjoying the new view!

Since making this move, Daniel and I have noticed that she (and her helmet) receive much more attention. I was nervous about what people would say about the helmet before we got it. I thought I would be self-conscious about her every time we were out in public.

Really, we didn't get many comments at all about the helmet. A few people at church asked about it. Several older ladies thought she was wearing it to protect her head in case she fell down. But overall, the helmet received little or no attention when out in public.

Until Isla started sitting up in the cart. Now that she is a bit more visible, I guess the helmet is drawing more attention. We have received a lot of stares and gawking lately, as well as several comments on the helmet. Most people comment on how cute it is, especially the flowers. But one lady at Wal-mart this week asked, "Is that a hard hat or something?"

I actually prefer for people to ask me about the helmet. I would rather them know why she is wearing it than make their own assumptions. I'm a little too shy to initiate conversations with people who are staring at her though. I rarely bring it up with strangers, unless I can tell that they want to ask about but aren't sure how to ask. So I'm always happy when they initiate the conversation themselves.

Going out in public was originally one of my biggest fears about the helmet. I was just worried what people would think about it. As soon as we got the helmet, that fear disappeared. Who cares what people think or say about her? She is still sweet and adorable and our precious little girl. She is happy wearing it. We are happy with her wearing it. That's all that matters!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January 8

Book Organization

I love books. Someday, I dream of having a library in our house where I can put all of our books together. Until then, our books are spread throughout the house on various shelves.

We do have a lot of books. I don't know how we end up with so many books, as I don't ever just go to the bookstore and buy books. Though I do have a weakness for buying kids books at garage sales.

In order to keep our house from being overtaken by books, I try to go through all of our shelves and clean them out a few times a year. That is what I have been doing for the past couple of days, and I have filled up a huge tub with books to sell at our garage sale.

I am also trying to create more toy storage in the basement playroom. To open up some shelves for toys, I wanted to put some hanging shelves on the wall for books. I found this idea on Pinterest. I asked Daniel if he could make them, he said, "Sure!" and then he made them. And I love them!! These shelves are on the playroom wall, and I am putting all of our board books here.The shelves are low enough that Audrey can take off and put away the books by herself. I ordered a beanbag to put here and make a little reading nook. I am brainstorming ways to finish decorating the space, so I'll post another picture someday when this project is finished.

All of our picture books are stored in Audrey's room. They are never this neat. It usually feels like we have a ton of books, but once I straightened them up and organized them, the shelves look empty. I think it might be time for some new picture books! =)I also have a basket in the living room with both picture books and board books that I try to rotate occasionally, so there are always books readily available for reading!In the dining room, all of my fiction books are housed on these shelves. Now that I have my nook, I am really cutting back on the number of books that I buy. I have decided that eventually (I'm not quite there yet) I only want to own physical copies of books that I really love and would want to read again and lend to friends.
In the piano room, we have all of our Bible reference books, Christian books and other books from our college days. I forgot to take a picture in there, but there is another whole bookshelf full of books.

And more books in the piano room closet! The middle shelf holds all my piano books. The rest of the books is my collection of juvenile fiction. Many of these are my books from my childhood. The rest are from garage sales. It is a bit of a sentimental hobby for me to collect these kinds of books. I am trying to collect all the Newbery Medal books and pretty much all of the books that I remember as a kid (I read a lot when I was a kid!). I refuse to pay more than a quarter for any of these books, but they are pretty easy to find at garage sales for that price. My favorite is when I find them for 10 cents a piece. I am determined that at least one of my girls will grow up to be a reader and will enjoy reading these books as much as I did.Whew! That is pretty much every book in our house. And that's AFTER I cleaned out all the shelves. Maybe I need to back through and clean them out again!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

January 7

Adventures in Breadmaking

I LOVE bread. Seriously, I could eat a bread only diet and never get tired of it. I have the tools to make all kinds of homemade bread now, so that is what I am going to do. Homemade bread is so delicious, and so far, it has been much easier to make than I expected.
Daniel got me The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook to go along with the breadmaker. It is full of recipes that look really good, and I am excited to try them all. The first recipe I tried in my bread machine was a white whole wheat bread, made with 100% white whole wheat flour. All I had to do was dump all the ingredients inside, and the machine did the rest. The loaf was perfect with a crunchy crust while still soft and chewy inside. It was delicious!

Last night, I made whole wheat pretzel bites. I used the breadmaker on the dough setting. Once the dough was ready, then I had to do more work. It took a little bit of time, but the whole process was fun. In the end, they actually tasted like real soft pretzels....so yummy! The only problem is that the pretzels are only good fresh. We had a bunch leftover, so we tried some today. They are definitely not good as leftovers and should only be eaten right out of the oven.

Then tonight, I decided to get a little bit more creative. I used another recipe from the Bread Machine cookbook, a garlic focaccia bread. It probably would have been good by itself, but I added mozzarella and Parmesan cheese (and some pepperoni on Daniel's) to the top. I cut the bread into strips, served it with pizza sauce, and we had yummy cheese sticks for dinner tonight.
They were just as good as any pizza restaurant cheesesticks, but much less greasy. It was fun to have something different for dinner too. I don't think Audrey agreed. She passed on the cheesesticks, and just chose to eat her green beans and dip them in the pizza sauce instead. Choosing green beans over breadsticks?? I don't know how she is even my daughter!!

So far, I'm three for three on successful bread machine recipes. I'm sure I am due for a major flop sometime soon!!