Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things...

This time of year always makes me feel even more homebody-ish than I already am (hard to believe that's possible!) But when it is -70 degrees outside all I really want to do is be surrounded by things that I love that are comfy, cozy, and warm.
This past Monday, I had a special Girls Day for my middle school ladies, because they were out of school.  As a part of our devotions, we asked the question: What comes to mind when you think of the word 'comfort'?  The girls responded with things like fuzzy socks, pj's, hot cocoa, a fire in the fireplace, snuggies, macaroni and cheese, mittens, Uggs, and God (thank goodness someone said God).  The girls were right on though--those are totally the things that make us feel comforted, warm and happy. 
So, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite things that help to make these cold, snowy days more comforting.
  • My fair isle pattern slippers
  • Gray cashmere sweater
  • Pancakes for supper
  • White chocolate mochas with cinnmon
  • A delicious dinner with heaty soup and candles
  • Quilts--cuddling under them and making them
  • A good book (just finished Tomato Rhapsody by Adam Schell--hilarious, and set in sunny Italy)
  • Great Music (this week I've been listening to Nora Jane Struthers and The Secret Sisters)
  • Homemade bread
  • flannel pants, flannel sheets
  • My bed warmer (find instructions for making your own here Cozy Bed Warmers)
  • Favorite love story movies (Amelie, Pride & Prejudice, P.S. I Love You)
  • Beautiful flower-y things (like the vintage trays my friend Melanie gave me for Christmas)

What makes you feel cozy, comforted and warm?  I'd love to hear your go to comfort favorites!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Busy as a Bee

This week has been such a busy week.  We've had confirmation at church--confirming 78 wonderful young people (so proud of all of you!).  Even with all of the preparations and special ceremonies surrounding that, I've was still able to finish my current quilting project.  I used the Retro Christmas Quilt pattern from the Diary of a Quilter, but used some fabric from the Moda 12 Days of Christmas line plus some other random prints I had as well.  I decided to tie this quilt instead of hand quilting, which makes it a little fluffier, was definitely faster, and adds a fun texture to it as well.  Then, I finished it off with a red polka dot batik just for fun.  I am super happy with the results. 

Cute, huh?  I'm glad to have it ready for Christmas 2011!
I've been trying to decide what's up next.  I have a baby quilt to make for a friend as well as several other possible projects lined up.  Oh how I love you winter---I don't feel the least bit guilty for staying inside to quilt all the time!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Charming Little Town, Fun Sunday Afternoon

The first weekend of each month marks a special new tradition for me...a trek to the little town of Waconia to visit the occasional shops!  Waconia is a little town just West of the Twin Cities, that has a charming old main street, as well as 4-5 cute shops that make for the perfect little shopping jaunt. 

Normally, I would go on Friday, my day off, and hit up Heavenly Patchwork (quilt store), The Shop Around the Corner (found items/upcycling type store), The Stash (clothing boutique), and Vert (antique store).  Usually, the trip also includes a stop at Mocha Monkey for to-die-for coffee creations and a snack.  Yesterday, I went with friends Elizabeth, Melanie and new friend, Sara, to check out the sales.  Since it was Sunday, we weren't able to go to the quilt store or Mocha Monkey (which are open daily--not occasional stores), but we still went to the other favorites.  Typically, I go home with bags loaded with new fabric and all kinds of other goodies, but yesterday was a small buying day--I went home with a couple of cool picture frames and a sweet little necklace charm. 

Elizabeth and I did manage to take some fun pictures for an upcoming project we are working on called The Soul Sisterhood Retreat.  Soul Sisterhood is a Christian camp for girls ages 11-14 that uses all kinds of crafting, cooking, and creative skills to build self-confidence and grow in faith.  We are almost ready to launch our marketing don't worry, I'll have more details for you in another couple of weeks!
In the meantime, enjoy the photo of us above.  It was taken at the other coffee shop on Waconia's main drag, Frost & Steam.

The Shop Around the Corner

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

By Bread Alone...

Baking is something that I enjoy, but I usually stick to muffins, cookies, quick breads, and those kinds of things because they don't take very long to do.  Seldom do I actually bake yeast breads.  However, for one of my Christmas presents that I chose for myself that my husband gave me, is a cookbook called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  I have to admit, I was skeptical--yeast bread in 5 minutes a day?  Yeah, right.  But over the weekend I had chance to look at the book, and it really did sound super easy.  So, I picked up a few supplies (including an oven thermometer, pizza peel, and some yeast) and decided to tackle the first recipe.  Hello, easy!
The premise is that you mix up the large batch of dough (which with a stand mixer takes only a couple of minutes), then you refrigerate it.  Then, whenever you are ready to bake, you cut off a hunk of dough, shape it, let it rest, and the bake it off.  The dough recipe is designed to get more flavorful as it is in the fridge, and the other steps really do only take 5 minutes. (Of course, the rising takes a while and the baking as well, but you can do other things while those are going.)

Here's the dough blob in my refrigerator bowl. The amazing book is in the background.

Once you cut off the hunk of dough, you shape it (and for some of the other recipes you add in other spices, toppings, etc) and let it rest on the peel:

Then, after it is risen, you bake it on a stone with a steam bath.  What you end up with is a gorgeous final product with the perfect crusty outside, and delicious chewy inside.  A-MAZING!

Of course, it only took us 5 minutes to eat it too.  Here's where you can order the book:

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ta Da!

I always talk about getting my blog going again, and well, here it is!  My intention here is to create something that my friends and family who are far away can keep up with what I am doing...creative or otherwise.  So, if it is in my life, it's fair game.  This is a place to celebrate and enjoy all of those things that go into my very homemade life.  It is a place for people I care about, places I enjoy, and things that I love.  Speaking of things that I love, here is a photo of my sister, Laura, and I at Christmas.  We made our first ever gingerbread house.  It was from a kit, so we are kind of big cheaters, but it was fun.  Maybe next year we'll go for completely homemade!