Little Home, Big World

…what would Ma do?

This is what happens… March 2, 2009

…when you keep a momma in the house with sick kids, in the middle of a frigid and snowy February, for a few days too long…and then finally let her out, without kids, to go to a yarn sale.

…this is what happens when she chickens out of knitting a whole sweater in colorwork, and makes mittens instead.

…and this is what happens when she tries to grow a baby sourdough starter. It looks…scary.

…and this is what happens when she wonders how to make beer prettier.

…and realizes it also works quite well for sippy cups. Go figure.

February was quite the month, I have to say.


A Pretty Pantry, and Brownies. January 21, 2009

The simple ideas are the best, aren’t they? This project combines my favorite things – recycling, repurposing, shiny glass, bright colors, saving money, a sense of order…and easily accessible brownie-baking ingredients. ๐Ÿ˜‰

If while grocery shopping I have a choice between an item in plastic or an item in glass, I try and buy the glass. Even if it costs me a few more cents, I’m gaining a storage container out of it. I have yet to meet a glass jar that can’t be thoroughly cleaned and repurposed when empty. Soaking them in hot soapy water is usually all that’s needed to remove the labels but if there’s a sticky residue, try rubbing a couple drops of Lemon Essential Oil over it, then washing again — it’s amazing how quickly the jar cleans up.

After it’s clean, use it for plastic-free leftover storage, organizing craft supplies, or containing small items in the bathroom. If you use yours in the pantry, you’ll probably wants labels — sharpies work great but lack the pretty factor. I loved these links to free printable labels and recipe cards from my friends over at the Frugal Not Frumpy blog. Use a simple gluestick to attach them to the jar, and they’ll remove easily with a soak and scrub if you repurpose the jar later.

Oh, and when you’re done organizing the pantry, bake these. And bring me some.

Bethany’s Bestest Brownies

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Blend the butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Add eggs, beat well with a wooden spoon. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, then gradually add it to the egg mixture. Spread in a greased 8×8 square baking pan, and bake for 20-25 minutes, just until the brownie begins to pull away from the edges of the pan. You want them to still be moist and chewy. Cool, then frost with:

Yummy Brownie Frosting

  • 3 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tbsp honey or corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tbsps milk.

Cream butter, cocoa, honey and vanilla. Add icing sugar and milk, and beat to a smooth and spreadable consistency. Apply liberally to brownies, then lick the spoon. ๐Ÿ™‚


Reallyย Look January 13, 2009

Filed under: The Clutzy Kitchen — bethanyjoy @ 2:48 pm
Tags: , ,

When I preparing for the birth of my first child, I remember reading about having a “Focal Point” — the suggestion was to bring a picture or vase of flowers, something inspirational to focus on as a pain-coping technique.

I’m sure it would have worked wonderfully if my eyes were open. ๐Ÿ˜‰ As it was, it turned out I coped best by ignoring everyone and everything in the room.

I have, however, found that having a focal point is a wonderful coping technique for THOSE days…you know, the days when it’s 9:30am and you’ve already had two toddlers in a half-hour meltdown each, couldn’t find your keys, had to scrounge up a lunch for your school-age child because you don’t want to take aforementioned toddlers grocery shopping, and subsequently skipped your own breakfast. You then caved to temptation, went through the drivethru for coffee and a muffin, and had one of the toddlers start puking while you ordered.

Yeah, THOSE days.

The days when you wonder how on earth mothers have survived for so many years. How your own mother survived. And why aren’t we paid more?

What I’m learning is that on days when it’s all falling apart around me, and it seems chaos might just win for the day — it helps to have a focal point. Something beautiful, simple, fresh — something that reminds me I am capable. I am skilled. I can and will survive this.

Sometimes it’s a recently completed knitting project. Other times, a really great picture one of my kids drew. Or, it can be as simple as this — freshly baked bread on an old vintage plate, the softly golden crust of the bread set off by the old blue-and-white of the plate. The textured crust against the smooth, aged finish.

Inspiring, in a very simple and tangible way…nice, isn’t it? Enjoy. I’m going to go clean puke off the carseat. And maybe ask for a raise.

Editing to add the link for Amish White Bread — it’s a moist, sweet bread. I made one loaf and did an 8×8 pan of rolls instead of a second loaf. Kids loved it.


Bread for Beginners November 28, 2008

Filed under: Simplicity,The Clutzy Kitchen — bethanyjoy @ 3:26 pm
Tags: , , ,

Of which, I am one. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have only been experimenting with bread making over the last few weeks, but have been surprised by how simple and enjoyable it is. The smell of baking bread is like aromatherapy on a cold and dreary fall day. Serve it with some hearty homemade soup, and enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

Both of these links make excellent, artistic-looking loaves. Both are made from simple ingredients. No strange preservatives or coloring here — just delicious and nutritious goodness!

  • No-Knead Bread this was my first loaf. It’s very simple; time does the work. If your house is drafty like mine, consider letting the dough rise overnight in your oven, with just the ovenlight on — this maintains a steady, ideal temperature.
  • One Hour French Bread from the folks over at the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-Op is my current favorite. It’s moist, the crust isn’t too chewy for the little kids, and it makes two loaves — one for dinner, one for breakfast! Requires a bit of kneading, but it’s still quick and easy.

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