Whole 30 Disaster Plan

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Last week I ate my ultimate bowl of rice.

Gone are the days of bottomless gluten free spaghetti, or the idle Red Bull Red which packs a delightful pick-me-up in the afternoon, at the expense of 39g of sugar.

I look sorrowfully at the drawer in my kitchen which houses the red potatoes, which seemed like I had just enjoyed yesterday.

Wine, my good friend…

I am on day 3 of the Whole30 cleanse.

I have written out my Whole30 disaster plan on a posterboard and taped it to the cupboard with electrical tape, because no one could find the Scotch tape (again).

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Since Friday, Day 0, I have lost 3 pounds of rice/bread/gravy/beer fat.

And, I feel fine…I say, confidently.

So far. 

Honestly, I feel kind of guilty about it since so many people have horror stories about the unmitigating headaches, nausea, irritability, awful pain and growing horns out of your skull and bleating like a goat until dawn…

The horns and bleating are unsubstantiated, but the suffering is not.

Dieting…excuse me, cleansing…is a serious deal.

Especially when you have to buy a book for it.

IMG_6898.jpgOn the plus side, I get to put a stick blender into a watermelon and make watermelon gelatin and blow the kids minds on how I got the jello in the watermelon. #awesome

So, being a forward-thinking, rather smart woman who already has an incredibly restricted diet (see: Celiac+Kosher), a diet in which I cannot have pizza, pizza with pepperoni, ham, clam chowder, shrimp, sausage, gravy, crackers or bacon… why on earth would I do an elimination diet?

What is there left to cut out??

What is there left to eat???

Well, I’ll tell you:

I’m doing it because a friend told me it was great, and I already talked them into giving up gluten (because they were painfully obviously Celiac), and fair is fair.

How’s that for a motivational speech.

Plus, I honestly do want to feel better, more clear-headed and a greater energy threshold than I have now. Because even though I have the amazing, and extremely convenient excuse of “I’m tired because I have 5 kids and we homeschool,” I shouldn’t be this tired. I shouldn’t feel foggy in the middle of the morning. And I would like to feel better, physically, in general, instead of blaming it on age or whathaveyou.

It’s just time to do something. And Whole30 is definitely something.

The overview:

It’s pretty much a Paleo-Atkins-LowCarb diet plan…I mean cleanse. They say it’s not a diet, it’s a cleanse, a million times in the book. So, okay, it’s a cleanse.

It still doesn’t have beer in the plan, so I can only be so excited about this.

Now, the nice thing is it is a 30 day plan. This means I don’t have to do it for 6 months, which would take me well into the heart of autumn at this point, and it lasts longer than a week or two, so it gives me time to really nail down better eating habits. And I’m okay with this.

However, there are 30 different emotional stages you are going to go through.

And I took out my Crayola purple marker and wrote down each one of these stages as a reminder for myself.

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Because I know me…and if I have a day when I am out of energy, or have a headache, or feel sick, or have just completely lost every ounce of willpower to be patient with daily life…then I am going to stop. Because I don’t want to make things worse, and maybe I could be making things worse; reverting to old ways would seem like the safest route to go.

Knowing this about myself, though, I wrote down the 30 different stages of the month to visually remind my lizard brain that what I’m going through is okay, it is a process, some parts of the process is harder than others, and I can make it to the end.

And maybe learn something along the way!

I could not believe this, but I actually discovered something just today that blew my mind.

I am the Queen of excusing pain away, and I know this. I don’t know if I have a high pain threshold, exactly, but I know for a fact that I have the stubbornness of a Russian ox and I can withstand whatever pain hits me for as long as it lasts. Oh, sure, I’m not entirely cheerful about the whole ordeal…but my teeth are firmly set to last it out to the end.

I also don’t know if this is healthy at all.

But the other morning I made an amazing dish of Shakshouka, which is eggs poached on top of tomato sauce. No one was more shocked than I when I served this on top of a corn tortilla for the kids, and they all ate it and liked it. It was astonishingly good! I liked it, the kids liked it, and I call it a winner!

Until this morning when I made it again.

I always liked eating eggs in the morning because I felt full for hours and hours afterward. There would be little to no need to eat much until the afternoon, because the eggs had filled me so thoroughly. This was extremely helpful…because I very much enjoy eating. Frequently. And a lot.

However, this morning as I was sitting on the couch and doing some reading with the kids I realized that my stomach was a little upset. Like, sour. So I had an apple to appease the nausea. That didn’t work so I had some water. That didn’t work so I had some green tea. That didn’t work so…

I realized that I didn’t feel full after eating the eggs, I felt bloated and barfy. That is completely different than “full.” That is actually the opposite of what I was going for, which was good food which helped me out. All this time, eggs were giving me problems and I just ignored it and thought it was a good thing??

And this is just day 3!!

So, tomorrow morning I am going to re-think breakfast and see what I can come up with. I was thinking about making some apple-chicken sausage, bell pepper, leek and sundried tomato hash and serve it over a bed of spinach…and see if I don’t feel remarkably better!

All in all, I’m glad I’m doing this. It isn’t as bad as I expected, and that’s definitely a relief.

In closing, here are a few things I’ve made!

18595572_10212945416492192_39507879321009269_o.jpgThe infamous Shakshouka, which still is pretty fabulous. I didn’t eat it with a corn tortilla, for the record.

 

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This dish was amazing. It is a Chicken Waldorf Salad with Avocado dressing (just blend the avocado and add a little coconut oil, that’s all you need). The kids wouldn’t stop eating this until I took the leftovers away…because I wanted lunch the next day 😉

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Also, I didn’t eat the potatoes on this, and some kids got Mom’s dinner hand-me-downs…but kabobs are a lot of fun, and this turned out really well. I used chicken, pineapple and red potatoes (which you can’t eat on Whole30, but you could use sweet potatoes! I just hate sweet potatoes and they gross me out, so no thanks).

After dinner I had a bit of a sweet tooth, so I diced up some boiled beets and put them on a bed of spinach and drizzled raspberry vinegar on top.

That was super adult of me. I am okay with this.

For drinks, I’m just chugging water and green tea until the thoughts of wine leave my head.

Which will be soon. I’m positive…

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Gluten Free Fish and Chips: Because We’re Worth It.

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The other night, I made myself (and Ben) gluten free fish and chips.

Because I couldn’t figure out what to have for dinner, and I had 30 minutes to go to the store…and fish sounded good tonight.

Now, I usually don’t buy fish because it’s expensive. I wish we could have fish all the time, but it just isn’t a cost effective meal plan. Case in point: I got steelhead fish because it was $5 a filet, and the salmon was $33 a filet. Granted the tilapia was $1 a filet…but that’s because it’s tilapia, and that’s a gross fish.

So, for $15 worth of fish, I was able to make a very nice meal of battered fish for the two of us…and that’s nice once in a while!

Now, having Celiac makes frying food a little tricky. Because you are either going to over-cook the dish, or end up with some gummy, sticky concoction that is hardly comfort food.

However.

I have figured out how to fry fish like a normal person, and I am sharing this very very easy recipe with you, because everyone needs fish and chips every so often!

Ingredients

  • Whatever fish you want. If you want to use $30 fish…you go on with your bad self! I like steelhead, personally, because it has a good meaty texture, good flavor and the bones are pretty easy to remove.
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1c Brown rice flour
  • 1c Corn meal
  • 1c Crisco
  • Kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder

 

What’chu Do

I use Crisco for the oil because it is a very thin oil, and it fries crispier. It’s also a lot less greasy in the end.

So get out a large pan (such as a dutch oven, or a cast iron pan) and put 1 cup of Crisco in and turn it on med-high.

In the meantime, get 2 bowls out.

Mix 1 cup brown rice flour and 1 cup corn meal in one bowl.

Crack 2 eggs into the other bowl.

Dip your fish filets into the eggs, then dip into the flour/cornmeal, and place into pan.

Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Turn after 3 minutes of cooking, cook for another 3 minutes.

Take tongs and pick them up and place them onto a paper towel to soak up extra oil.

 

That’s about it!! It is a very easy and very satisfying dinner, especially for Celiacs.

If you want to make french fries:

Slice up some potatoes of your choice and toss them with a light coat of vegetable oil and spread them out on a cookie sheet.

Then, lightly sprinkle them with Seasoned Salt and black pepper.

Bake at 400F for about 40 minutes, or until the edges are nice and brown.

 

BOOM.

Gluten free fish and chips!

We The People: Constitution Refresher Course!

Antique USA Map

You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird… So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing — that’s what counts.
-Richard Feynman

Sometimes, we know things backwards and forwards…and still don’t fully understand them.

Ah, but that’s life.

Understanding birds is one thing, but reading bits and pieces of Bird Watcher’s Digest won’t prepare you for the real life and times of birds in the wild.

Similarly, reading bits and pieces of the Constitution during “U.S. History” in high school won’t prepare you for the ways it impacts our lives as Americans.

Particularly in this day and age, learning about what our government is based on (and how it shapes our rights and freedoms) is paramount to fulfilling our duties as citizens.

I think one of the first presidents, Benjamin Franklin, who said it best:

Verily, I was never a President…and you would know that if you read more about U.S. History!

Franklin was hands down one of the most impactful ambassadors America has ever had…but he was the humorous uncle of the family of Founding Fathers.

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin was not allowed to write the Declaration of Independence, but Jefferson was chosen instead?

When they were deciding who should write the Declaration of Independence, they partially chose Jefferson over the significantly more qualified and respected Franklin, as some feared Franklin would embed subtle humor and satire in it that wouldn’t be recognized until it was too late to change.
– Today I Found Out

Oh, Ben.

Solid facts and critical thinking have always been of the utmost of importance for the foundation of America. Understanding realnews and real facts makes a huge difference in understanding what is happening in our world, and why.

Which is why a quick brush up on the Constitution is pivotal in knowing and understanding the life and times of our great nation!

 

PNW Rockwood Family Snow Day: To The Olympics!

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We love spontaneous trips. Period.

So when Ben suggested in the middle of church that we go to the snow, I said, “Okay, but let’s wait until church is over before we leave…”

Last year we went up to the snow when it was cold.

Now, I’m not saying cold is “bad.” Honestly, since moving up to Washington I have been surprised how much more I like the cold than the ridiculous heat in California.

(yeah, I’m looking at you +100F for weeks on end)

I remember knowing it was going to be a really hot day if it was over 90 and my forearms were sweating…by 8am. That was going to be an unbearably hot day. The most frustrating thing about the heat was that when it was in the 90s, it was okay. Just keep the kids hydrated and sunscreened, and we’re good to go.

But when it got over 104, which was constantly in the summer, the ground was too hot to step on and the sun was too hot to play in for too long…so I had to keep the kids indoors so they didn’t overheat or get sunstroke or burn to bits. And that was absolutely no fun.

Plus, I was pregnant most of those summers, and if you ever tell a pregnant woman that overheating is not a thing, you will not live to the end of the conversation. Overall, getting in the car in the middle of May and the car thermometer reading 116F is never a good time.

So, even though we just got through the rainiest and wettest winter the Puget Sound has had in the past 144 years (or, as long as we’ve been recording the weather up here), and dealing with overcast days which never quit, and having to buy waterproof jackets because you are going to get rained on, whether it is sunny now or not… it is STILL better than those summers in California!

But, as I was saying…last year when we went up to the snow, we treated it like going on a day trip to the Sierras.

And the Olympics are so not the Sierras.

When we took day trips to the Sierras in the spring, we’d take some gloves, jackets, extra pants, spare socks. Just the basics to play in the snow on the side of the road, build a few snowmen and call it a day.

The Olympics are different.

This snow was cold, blue, 6 feet deep, and ubiquitous. There were walls of snow 10 feet high, and this snow covered the entire mountain range. It was way out of the league of Sierra snow. This felt like real snow, and we basically came to the snow expecting a summer resort to be waiting for us.

Last year it was white-out conditions on the mountain, it was colder than I have ever experienced in my entire life, the air hurt our faces and we were vastly underdressed (see: expensive trip to the gift store)

This year, we changed our game plan.

And made proper snow angels…

THIS time we came overly dressed, changes of clothes, waterproof shoes and on a sunny day!

Let me tell you, scarves are not just for decoration anymore.

They actually keep the wind out of your jacket and keep your neck warm, and they are indispensable articles of clothing!! Who knew.

There were so many walls of snow, we had to write our names in the wall…

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There were some small hills where we just sat at the bottom and let the kids slide down for as long as they could. At some point they decided that their backsides were plenty wet and cold enough, and they would prefer to go back to the car and change into dry clothes. But we definitely got our fill of snowdom.

IMG_6597Now, I don’t know how to explain this properly, so I’ll just start by explaining it poorly…

I am a terrible snowman maker. Spheres are just so hard to make properly, and I am always overcritical of my snow-sphere making abilities. So, last year I made a snow-bust….because I can do that!!

This year I continued my legacy and created another snow bust, and I can say that I am very pleased with the results. Next year I am going to bring even more waterproof gloves (because mine had a limit, apparently) and I am going to build an even bigger bust…maybe even take a crack at David, who knows.

We had a fantastic day out there, and I cannot describe how beautiful the Olympic range is. It is an incredible and dynamic range of mountains which take your breath away.

 

THIS IS THE FUTURE: Robot Mopping Vacuums!

Meet Rosie.

(Which you can get on Amazon very easily!!!)

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Rosie is the maid of the future.

Remember Rosie? Like Rosie from the Jetsons? She took care of everything in the house so Judy could get her nails done and go shopping?

rosie-the-robot-jetsons-vacuum“Dirty floors make me angry, Dave.”

Well, I don’t need that much luxury in my life, but I really would like some help with mopping.

I hate mopping. It takes a long time. It’s wet. It’s messy. I know I use way too much water. And downstairs is big…and it’s all hardwood floors, so I’m mopping the whole thing.

Which simply means that I mop when guests are coming over, or when I just can’t take it anymore. This is not a satisfactory solution for keeping the floors clean, and I actually like clean floors. Especially because I’m barefoot most of the time, so I’m not interested in stepping in or on anything while I’m stumbling to the coffeepot in the morning.

So when I found out robot mops were available, I was on it like the jelly globs on my kitchen floor.

Here is a blow by blow of unpacking Rosie:

IMG_6389Here is the box! It cost me $200 from a third party seller, and it was technically used but no one ever used it. Good enough for me. It came with all the parts and nothing is broken, so I’m happy!

IMG_6390This is just opening the box…

 

IMG_6397This is what it looks like right out of the box. Very nice design, sleek, classy. Something you would show your friends, for example.

IMG_6413I took a few pictures out of the instruction manual so you could see some of the features. it not only can clean the whole house, but it can also clean small areas, the edges only, or you could put it in the middle of a spill and it will work in circles to clean the spill up. So that’s neat!

IMG_6403These are the front and bottom of the device. Pretty straightforward, nothing complicated.

IMG_6404And this is what it looks like on the bottom.

It vacuums very well, I gotta say. It gets the edges with a broom feature, which is what I was looking for. The edges and corners of my kitchen are always collecting dust, cereal, dog food, pine needles, dirt, etc. And the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is keep cleaning…

(I hate cleaning)

Which is why Rosie is here.

So here is the initial start!

Pretty basic…I liked that it didn’t get stuck on the rugs or under couches.

It has a good bumper in the front, so it’s not just banging into your furniture.

It is a little loud, but not nearly as loud as the kids’ video games. So, comparatively, it’s pleasant.

I found that it will go through a space and then move on, and then go through that space and move on, and so on. So it got most of the downstairs, but not all of it. Which is really good to know for the future. What I need to do is to put it in the room I want to clean, and turn on the small room feature. Or if I just want a general overhaul I can start it on the base and it can get most of downstairs, and I’d be happy with that.

But the point is, there are lots of different cleaning features that I can utilize for different needs, and that’s exactly what I need out of Rosie.

Next to the trashcan is the worst place for rubble to collect. It is right next to the back door, so dirt is always being tracked in. It is in the kitchen, so crumbs and whatnot are always collecting. And it’s next to the trash can, so some things spill over…

And Rosie did a great job tidying up that space!

I was happy to see it did fine on rugs, as well! Which means it can work on carpets just fine! It didn’t get hung up on the edges of the rug, or even on warped parts of the rug. It couldn’t make it over the fold in the middle, but that’s understandable.

I did notice that the motor is pretty hefty, because it did get stuck underneath an ottoman once…and proceeded to push the ottoman across the room until it hit a wall.

Okay, enough vacuuming.

Let’s talk about mopping.

It’s really straightforward:

IMG_6427This is is honestly the mopping part. It is a moist cloth on the underside of Rosie.

And that kind of is all I actually need…

I put the cloth (which comes with Rosie) under a faucet and placed it on the velcro, and that was it!

I sprayed the floor with a bit of lysol, which I do when I mop anyway, and let her go!

I was surprised that the vacuum was still going, but it actually makes sense. So, on the plus side, you are vacuuming and mopping at the same time!

The results turned out really well, and I was very happy with how the kitchen looked when she finished. She got the jelly, the dirt, the edges, the dust and left me a very clean floor in her wake!

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I found it took a couple hours to charge (although I also wasn’t paying much attention, but I know it took more than an hour minimum), and it lasts about 40 minutes cleaning. The charging station is very small and I have it behind a chair and out of the way, so you wouldn’t even notice it.

So, there you go!

Robot mops of the future!

I am not getting paid for this article. I have not been contacted by the company. I’m not a shill to the man. I just think people should share information and be cool with each other for life. Savvy? 

It Was Hardly Too Cold To Play, On This Cold, Cold, Wet Day: UW Engineering Discovery Days

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The sun did not shine,

it was too cold to play,

so we stayed inside

on that cold, cold, wet day.

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No we didn’t!!

We went to UW’s Engineering Discovery Day, and knocked it out of the park!

Wearing lots of layers and jackets, for indeed, it was very cold and wet.

 

First we visited the Mechanical Engineering department and found some crazy interesting rooms. We learned about how studying vibrations in metal can help scientists figure out the structural integrity of a structure in relation to its surroundings. The man explaining it to us was throwing out terms I have legit never heard before, like “And as we can see here, the blahblahblah Constant is clearly at work and reinforces the calculations of…” I don’t really remember the terms he used, but that guy knew what he was talking about.

We also saw a stress/strain test experiment, and found the 3D printing club (woot!), and also found the Marine Renewable Energy department and got to see a device they are planning on installing outside of Oregon this summer in order to harness the energy from the waves in order to create energy. It’s a prototype, but they are super excited about it.

They were also talking about a department in Hawaii, which interested Nova very much…

 

We also met the hyperloop team, who came in 4th in the world in a SpaceX competition. Elon Musk is hoping to replace the ridiculously expensive and horribly implemented bullet-train in California. So I was very excited to see their work.

There was a tsunami simulator, where the kids got to build things out of Legos and watch them get destroyed. Always a crowd pleaser.

And we found the Computer Science department which had the least imaginative displays on the entire campus. For instance, there was one display that had a blank trifold…and a Makey-Makey setup. And that’s it. Heck, we have had a Makey-Makey setup in our house, but we also explained how currents worked and how you are using a foreign object to open and close circuits. But even after asking the fine gentleman in charge of this station, he really had nothing to share. So we moved on, because that is lame, simply put.

The kids were delighted to find a robot which could solve a rubix cube, though, and Nova went toe to toe with it on a speed round. I’m sorry to say the robot won. But I was very impressed with the questions the kids pelted at the engineers. From “how can it feel the cube,” to “how does the circuiting work,” to “how does it walk.” I was happy to see they were trying to take it apart!

There was also a gentleman at a table who was extremely excited about using vibrations in order to determine the structural integrity of bones, in order to test older individuals for osteoporosis. He knew just about everything on the subject, as far as I could see, and was extremely passionate about explaining it all to a small crowd.

 

We saw some submarines in a pool, in front of some absolutely gorgeous academic buildings which drive me nuts because they are so beautiful.

And we had lunch in the cafeteria! Chili and breadbowls all around, for this cold, cold, wet day.

Except for me, who had a salad with chicken. Because: celiac.

salads–

 

Finally, we got to the Electrical Engineering department and they had some fantastic hands-on tables up there.

The kids got to play with some solar powered cars.

They got to design their own film on paper craft, which was very clever and the engineers in charge of this table were extremely helpful.

We also found a room where we were given tools, resistors and instructions, and we got to build our own earrings! It was very sweet, and Glenn decided to build a couple trees and a squid instead of earrings. Fair enough.

 

After we were done we still had a few hours of sunlight in Seattle, so I walked with the kids downtown (see: coffee), and I figured it was a good time to go to the top of the Smith Tower.

They may have been a little freaked out to stand up there.

It may have been amazing.

Plus, there is a throne which the Empress of China donated to Seattle back in the late 1800s, and the kids each enjoyed (thoroughly) sitting on the throne.

At one point Alice came over to where I was sitting (because it was very nice to sit, finally) with a very sad face and told me, “Eve won’t let me sit on the throne.”

I’ve heard this story before.

I’m not getting involved.

You’re on your own…royal problems.

Crazy Ideas, Volume I: The Jellimussant

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I don’t know how to explain the full awesomeness of the Jellimussant.

It is a jelly doughnut, inside a croissant, inside a muffin.

And I am sure it is awesome…

I wouldn’t know. I’ve never made one.

 

My brother and I came up with this idea years and years ago, but it never came to any fruition.  And then I was diagnosed with Celiac, so I can’t even taste-test them, so I’m not even going to bother.

NEVERTHELESS, I am sure this is a GREAT idea!  And I just found all my notes on it buried in some old file folder on my computer.

This is the Great White Buffalo of my ideas.

It was the one that got away.

 

Show and Tell Time, folks!

Jellimussant Flairs (which are absolutely amazing)

I. Raspberry jelly

II. Chocolate muffin with chocolate chips

III. Butter Croissant, with raspberries on topChocaRaspbero

fancy-line

I. Chocolate filled

II. Chocolate muffin

III. Butter Croissant, with dark/white chocolate swirl on topChocaHeavenThe next best thing to Spanish Gold

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I. Lemon custard filled

II. Cranberry Orange muffin

III. Butter croissant, with citrus glaze, and little orange/lemon rinds on topCitrusiliciousAn exotic fusion of the tamed pastry and the wild fruit

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I. Boysenberry filling

II. Lemon zest muffin

III. Butter croissant, with boysenberry and white frosting swirl on topBerriwinklefancy-line

I. Apple filling

II. Apple and cinnamon

III. Butter croissant, with cinnamon swirl on top Fruit of EdenYou cannot resist the temptations that lurk within

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I. Cherry filling

II. Blueberry muffin

III. Butter croissant with white frosting swirl on topCherry Spangled BannerPatriotism comes in many delicious flavors.

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I. Almond (amaretto?) custard

II. Almond poppy seed muffin

III. Butter croissant, cream cheese icing on top with brown sugar swirlsFor the nut in you.

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I. 1/2 cheesecake, 1/2 strawberry (or kiwi?)

II. Strawberry muffin

III. Butter croissant, with cream cheese frosting on topSweetheartOur darling pastry

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I. Vanilla Custard

II. Banana Nut muffin

III. Butter croissant, with baked almonds and honey glaze on topBananeMiel écrous

(banana honey nuts)For the nutty French in you

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I. Blueberry filling

II. Poppy seed muffin

III. Butter croissant, with BluePavot

(blue poppy)

fancy-line

I. Cheesecake filling

II. Carrot cake muffin

III. Butter croissant, with honey and baked almond glaze on topCarrot24 carrot taste, with a hint of white cheesecake gold.

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I. Mocha custard filling

II. Chocolate muffin

III. Butter croissant, with chocolate covered sliced coffee beans on topTop o’ tha MarninA perfect compliment to your marnin’ joe.

fancy-line

I. Plum custard filling

II. Cinnamon and Raisin muffin

III.PlumHeaven

fancy-line

I. Peach custard filling

II. Bran muffin

III. Butter croissant, plain

fancy-line

I. Blueberry filling

II. Blueberry muffin

III. Butter croissant, Blueberry HillNot recommended for curious little girls named “Violet”

fancy-linefancy-line

Jellimussant recipe:

Jelly Doughnut:

cancel-peanut-butter-jelly-doughnut

INGREDIENTS:

    * 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

    * 1/3 cup water

    * 1 egg, beaten

    * 3 tablespoons margarine, melted

    * 3/4 cup white sugar

    * 4 1/2 cups bread flour

    * 1 teaspoon salt

    * 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

    * 1 tablespoon active dry yeast

    * 3/4 cup any flavor fruit jam

    * 2 quarts vegetable oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

   1. In a bread machine pan add the milk, water, beaten egg, melted butter, sugar, bread flour, salt, nutmeg, and yeast in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Set machine to the sweet dough cycle.

   2. Once cycle is completed, turn dough out onto a floured board and let rest for ten minutes.

   3. Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. With floured cookie cutter, cut into 2 1/2 inch rounds.

   4. Place 1/2 teaspoon jam or jelly in center of half of the rounds. Moisten edges with cold water; top with the remaining rounds, pinch edges together firmly. Place sealed doughnuts on an greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled in a warm place, about 45 minutes.

   5. Heat oil in deep fryer to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Fry one layer of doughnuts at a time. Turn doughnuts as they rise to the surface until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oil, being careful not to poke doughnuts. Drain onto paper towels.

Muffin

credit

 

Muffin:

INGREDIENTS:

    * 2 cups all-purpose flour

    * 1/2 cup white sugar

    * 3 teaspoons baking powder

    * 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

    * 1/2 teaspoon salt

    * 3/4 cup milk

    * 1/3 cup vegetable oil

    * 1 egg

DIRECTIONS:

   1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Grease bottoms only of 12 muffin cups or line with baking cups.

   2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and salt; mix well. In a small bowl, combine milk, oil and egg; blend well. Add dry ingredients all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened (batter will be lumpy.)

   3. Fill cups 2/3 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 1 minute before removing from pan. Serve warm.

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Croissant:

QUICK BUTTER CROISSANTS 

Here is a remarkably simple method of making croissants that closely resemble the traditional ones the French serve for breakfast. You cut firm butter into flour, then blend the mixture with a yeast batter. The resulting dough is marbled with pockets of butter that form flaky layers when the croissants are baked. Best of all, you can store the dough in the refrigerator (up to 4 days) until you are ready to shape and bake the rolls.

1 pkg. active dry yeast

1 c. warm water (about 110 degrees)

3/4 c. evaporated milk

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 c. sugar

1 egg

About 5 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

4 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled

1 c. (1/2 lb.) very firm butter

1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water; let stand until bubbly. Add milk, salt, sugar, egg, and 1 cup of the flour. Beat to make a smooth batter, then blend in melted butter; set aside.

In a large bowl, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the 1 cup firm butter into 4 cups of the remaining flour until butter particles are the size of small peas. Pour yeast batter over top and carefully turn mixture over with a spatula to blend just until flour is moistened. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 4 days.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board, press into a compact ball, and knead briefly to release air. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Shape 1 part at a time, leaving remaining dough (wrapped in plastic wrap) in refrigerator.

On a floured board, roll 1 part of dough into a 14-inch circle, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Using a sharp knife, cut circle into 8 equal wedges.

Loosely roll each wedge from wide end toward point. Shape into a crescent and place, point side down, on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat until all croissants are shaped and placed, 1 1/2 inches apart all around, on ungreased baking sheets. Cover lightly and let rise at room temperature in a draft-free place. (Do not speed rising by placing in a warm spot.)

When almost doubled (about 2 hours), brush with egg-water mixture. Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm, or let cool on racks. Makes 32 croissants.

 

Inspiring Easter Side Dishes

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“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

Charles M. Schulz

 

As we finish the season of Lent, the phone numbers of chocolatiers may be on speed dial for some of us.

For our home, we had “40 Days of Health,” where we focused on not only nutrition, but also on our physical health and good food choices. Should we only have toast in the morning, or can we add fruit to our breakfast as well? For lunch, maybe a sandwich is more sustainable than a corn dog? Dinners were seen in a better proportion of meat and vegetables, rather than being carb-heavy for convenience.

Also, believe it or not, we have all been exercising more regularly. Even to the point that we are enjoying it!

These times of discipline teach us many things in life, particularly where we can improve on. It is so easy to get into a slump in our day to day agendas. During times, such as Lent, we can look forward to periods of pruning the lazy, distracted parts of our lives and refocus on being deliberate and enthusiastic about what we are doing!

And it is so nice to feast together at the end of it!!

1) Easter Appetizers

Appetizers are the ice breakers for a meal.  They set the mood for the table, and invite your guests to relax before sitting down. And when it comes to breaking the ice…if you have never served your guests smoked salmon bites with horseradish, then now is your time to shine. I might enjoy the looks on my guests’ faces when they bite into the horseradish…a little too much. But I love, love, when they reach for another!

2) Southern Easter Side Dishes

I don’t mean to be too pedantic about this, but the while the roast is the main character of the meal, the side dishes are definitely the stars that stand out. This year, why not shake things up a little bit and try something from the south? From cheese grits soufflé with mushroom gravy, to hot potato salad…the south will never let you down with down home cooking!

3) Easter Side Dishes To Compliment Lamb

Although ham has become the popular main course for Easter dinner, lamb has been a traditional dish for hundreds of years. However, you can’t just serve side dishes that go with ham, such as baked beans or creamed peas. Try your hand at side dishes that compliment the rich, savory flavors of lamb!

4) Easter Salad Ideas

The problem I have with holiday meals is making things a little too heavy. Sure, au gratin potatoes are fantastic, but a delightful salad on the side will help you from falling asleep after dinner. I have to admit that Martha Stewart kinda knocks it out of the park with these salad ideas. Surprise, surprise.

5) Easter Desserts To Lift The Hearts

Celebrating the end of Lent with desserts?? I don’t mind if I do! Honestly, the speckled malted coconut cake with the same colorings as a robin’s egg sold me immediately. Or the blackberry lime creampuffs, which may tempt me a bit too much. But I concede that the swirled meringues with blueberry sauce must be my favorite. With 75 choices, I am not entirely sure how I am going to pick!

Harvard Bound. For Serious.

There really is just no way to make this real to me, so I am going to just keep on going like it is normal, at this point.

However, I have scheduled myself for 2 classes out of Harvard this summer. They are paid for, and I have a schedule.

One class I am beside myself excited to death over, because it is a literature course covering American poetry ranging from the Civil War to Modernism. Which are my jams. That is the period of history that resonated with me the most, and through which I saw the biggest transitions in American history.

From the art world turning from Romanticism, to Rococo, to Classicism….to Impressionist, to Cubism…the artist was able to see the world from a completely different perspective than any other time. It was revolutionary for the world of art.

Similarly, literature was coming out of a time when authors were trying to tell the stories of the events around them, such as Mark Twain or Henry James. Suddenly, you have this influx of shifting character studies from Kate Chopin. Edith Wharton wrote about what she saw in her elite life in “The Age of Innocence,” and “The House of Mirth,” but she also wrote “Ethan Frome,” and its companion novella, “Summer,” where she scalpels her own life into the contexts of small towns filled with hopelessness, abortions, whorehouses and attempted suicides.

What happened in the crux of the century which drew out the intense human spirit? What freedom did the nation receive after the end of slavery? How did women see themselves pre-1920, and post-1920, and how did this shape the female character in poetry during this time? Was the poet inspired when ee cummings broke down the structure of the stanza, and did the structure have any influence on women’s rights? Was society able to see a different perspective for their future after Modern poets threw out the rhyming line altogether, and said, “this is my word, and my word is my voice.”

Although I am excited on levels I have never experienced before about attending Harvard classes, I will be completely honest in admitting that it is the information and shared experiences that I am even more greatly anticipating. There is no other vault of literature I would rather touch than the vaults of Harvard, which have kept our literary treasures safe through times of war and times of prosperity. These literary vaults have inspired poets and writers for hundreds of years, and it is my enormous privilege to dip my toe into those waters.

There are so many things I am looking forward to this summer, and these classes are paramount to them all.

Especially the mandatory on-campus class which will be the highlight of the year.

My biggest fear is crying during class.

Veritas.

So You Want To Get A Bunny This Spring…Here Are 5 Things You Need To Know!

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There is little use building a fence around the garden to keep out the rabbits.
-Yugoslavian Proverb

 

I have avoided getting rabbits as a pet my entire life.

Not because they aren’t the most adorable, fluffy, friendly, cuddly little munchers, but because they’re so much faster than I am…and I am having trouble keeping the deer/squirrels/slugs out of my garden, as it is.

There is something about pet rabbits that speaks to the heart. Something tender and gentle.

I asked my daughter, “Why are rabbits wonderful?” and she replied, “Because they are fluffy, adorable, and you can dress them up as a fancy bunny. I like bunnies a lot.”

And yet, we are still a bunny-less home! Honestly, we just have too many wires around the house, and too many plants in our garden outside, and one bunny could eat them all.

However, we have many friends who love bunnies. Some have outdoor hutches…some have indoor homes…some let them run loose in the backyard and some let them jump throughout the house.

Spring is definitely a season when families start thinking about gardens, growing plants and getting rabbits!

Before you move on to the local pet store or farm this spring, read up on what kind of bunny is best for your home, whether or not they should be an indoor or outdoor bunny, and how to get them to work for your garden!