"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's Not Rocket Science

Happy New Year's Eve to you all.

I think we need a nice, simple, thrown-together-in-a-mere-moment sort of thing, this morning.  Something fresh and healthy, perhaps.  A light little something that counteracts the overindulgence of the past few weeks...and a good way to start off the day (in the event of possible overindulgence coming this evening).

A wintry, fresh and lively sort of salad.  It's not rocket science, mind you.  It is, however, bright and refreshing.  And oh so easy to make up.  Perfect for breakfast.  Or brunch.  Even a light dessert.  Yum.

Here you go:

A Wintry Fruit Salad - makes 4 large servings

2 ripe pears, chopped in bite-size chunks
2 crisp apples, chopped as pears
1 large juicy orange, segmented
one or two handfuls dried cranberries
1/2 cup (or more, if you prefer) fresh pomegranate seeds

Dressing Ingredients
juice of 1/2 an orange
1/4 cup honey
few tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a large bowl, then add the fruit, and toss gently to combine.

Super simple, yes?  Just the way I like it.

Have a beautiful New Year's Eve!

Cheers, me dears!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holiday Treat

It's a little overdue, a post about food, isn't it?  And, I must confess, right off the bat, that this recipe is one I'm going to direct you toward.  Because it's a goody.  Especially considering that many of you are quite likely still entertaining guests for the holidays.  However, I will warn you:  Should your guests be overstaying...do not make these for them.  Whatever you do.  They'll be inclined to stay longer.  Should your guests, though, be the sort you'd like to impress, (and dare I say fatten up a bit?), you must make these.

Cinnamon Rolls.  They look tasty, don't they?  Not even frosted yet.

So the recipe comes at you from heatherhalesdesigns.  I'm not even a huge fan, normally, of cinnamon rolls.  Or sweet pastries for that matter.  And I definitely do not dig the effort that usually accompanies a homemade batch of these babies...hours, I tell you!  (Do not even get me started on those pop-can versions, either!)  Thus, when I spotted these, I figured I ought to try out the recipe, see just how well they turned out, and see if they actually were as quick and easy as they were touted to be.  Guess what?  They were!  Under an hour these little lovelies took, and soft to boot!  I have to say, these just may have converted me to a new cinnamon roll appreciation stance.

They're actually much lighter tasting than other cinnamon rolls I've had in the past.  I'm not going to go so far as to say they're good for you...but well, what if we just leave it at they're really, really good.

So, go visit heatherhalesdesigns, for her beautifully simple, and wonderfully tasty recipe, link here.  Seriously.

I did tweak the frosting just a bit.  Because, you know, I wouldn't be me, if I didn't.  I cut the amount of frosting in half, not to say you should.  If you dig a lot of frosting, go for it.  They don't need it though.  I also added some orange zest, to lively it up.  Which is kind of perfect, given that it's the holidays and all, right?

Orange Frosting for Cinnamon Rolls - frosts about a dozen rolls (double if you like your rolls dripping with frosting!)

2 Tbs softened butter
1 Tbs cream*
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp finely grated orange zest

*You can also use milk, if you like.  I'd even recommend using the juice of a freshly squeezed orange, for more of an icing.  Delicious.*

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together, until they're nice and combined.  Frost those delicious cinnamon rolls and enjoy.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry and Bright

Happy Christmas Eve!

May your holidays be Merry and Bright!

I'll see you all in a few days, warmest wishes.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Handmade Christmas - Take 3

This one is sort of a reprise.  But I'll tell you what...I can't get enough!

So, you know I've been making batches of Lavender-Tea Tree Spray, as prezzies.  Then, it came to my bumbling brain that not everyone likes lavender...(I know, how silly of them!)...so, I decided to come up with another version.

And here it is!

Refresh Orange Room Spray

1 tsp pure orange essential oil*
2 tsp vodka
4 oz distilled or sparkling water

*When using essential oils, do buy a good quality oil, preferably organic.  Considering the small amount you use in each spray bottle, a little goes a long way, and you'll have plenty for making multiple gifts.  Plus, who wants to be inhaling nasty, fake stuff?*

Combine all ingredients in a 4 oz spray bottle, shake thoroughly, and there you go!  The scent is absolutely delicious.  A beautiful, awakening, clean scent.  I will confess to feeling ever-so-slightly hungry after spraying it.  For oranges, of course.

I wouldn't recommend using this one as a linen spray, as the orange oil does have some color to it.  But spray freely, with abandon, around the room.  It'll make everyone happy!

Happy Winter Solstice!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Handmade Christmas - Take 2

I just had a mini moment today, when I realized that it's been a week since my last post.  Oops.  All I can say in defense of myself (in a thoroughly unoriginal defense), is that it's that time of year.  And you know how that goes.  S*#t is busy.

Here's a little of what I've been getting up to, of late:

Teacher Prezzies, a la Lavender-Tea Tree Spray.

One of quite a few pairs of fingerless gloves, all of which still need their ends woven in.  As do the hats, which aren't pictured.  Easy peasy pattern, available for free here, on Ravelry.  Now to finish the other two pairs I still intend on making...

And Oh.  My.  Word.  Check these delicious little numbers out:

Felted ponytail holders, tutorial available here, on Kirtsy.  I sort of had to make them, when I spotted them, and oh joy!  found some felted balls at Michael's for the bargain price of $4.99 for a bag.  They take a whopping 5 minutes a piece, to sew the balls onto a hair band.  The girl and her cuzzie will dig them.

And, because I do so enjoy a challenge that defies all reason and logic...

Why not begin knitting a little lace, not so very long before Christmas?  Hm.  Rather underestimated the time this one was going to take.  And let's not even talk about the fact that I'm beginning to go seriously squiffy-eyed from knitting with teeny tiny yarn, on teeny tiny needles, into the wee hours...  Oh well.  It is quite pretty, and fairly enjoyable to knit anyway.  Although would be a fair bit more enjoyable, had I begun just a few weeks earlier.

So, fine friends, those are just a few bits and bobs, things going down around these parts.  Here's to finishing them all up...

Preferably before Christmas...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cheap & Cheerful

A feature in which I share a good deal I happen upon...be it wine, food, or just something fun...If you have something Cheap & Cheerful you'd like to share, leave a link or suggestion in the Comments section at the end of this post!  Enjoy!

It's been a wee while since I've posted a Cheap & Cheerful, hasn't it?  It's kind of an organization thing (or lack thereof), rather than that I haven't stumbled upon any good deals.  Because I have!  Here's one:

Cocobon 2010 Red.  Purchased at Trader Joe's, for a humble $6.99.  And it's darn tasty.  I'm not going to go all notes and essences on you, because, well, I'm not that sophisticated a wine drinker.  It's simply one of those mellow, easy drinking reds that go well with food and friends.  A little fruity, without being sweet.  Nice depth, without being heavy.  What can I say?  It's cheap & cheerful, without tasting cheap.

TJ's wine notes said of Cocobon:  "will draw nice praise from an average wine drinker."  I guess that's me.  No shame in that, right?

Let's have a glass, in the name of good health.  And if one is good...two is, quite likely, even better.  After all, Mr. Twain did advise:

"Moderation in all things, including moderation."

A wise man, that one.


Monday, December 12, 2011


That nine-tenths of the law thing?  Has anyone ever known it to apply to any useful, real-life situations, that might benefit us?  Such as....oh, I don't know...I've checked this book out from the library so many times (and perhaps have contributed to a slight amount of flour inside the pages)...that it is now mine.  Ah, I didn't think so.  Oh well, Christmas is coming...

This book, that I am so loathe to release from my possession, is Rustic European Breads from your Bread Machine.  And, I kid you not, every single recipe that I've made - every single one! - has been great.  I may be nurturing a slightly ridiculous obsession with all things baked (baked savories, anyway, not as much for the sweets), but I don't care.  Bread is the staff of life, after all.  I live for the stuff.

Because I love bread so very much, and because there are no decent bakeries in a 40 mile radius from my home...and because I do tend toward the why-spend-money-on-it-when-I-can-learn-to-make-it-myself (aka - cheap, no!, self-sufficient) side, this book sings to me.  There's a recipe for every sort of bread craving you might find yourself in possession of.  And the best part?  Bread machine, baby!  Who has time to do all the kneading?  Granted, it does still take a little planning and timing, but we do have these marvelous contraptions called clocks...oh, and brains...so it's just a matter of working out when to have those delicious little numbers popping out of the oven, and cooling on a rack, awaiting their fate.  That is:  My Belly.

So, today's treat is a recipe for Milk Rolls.  And, yes, that really doesn't sound overwhelmingly exciting, I am aware.  However, let me just say this:  Light, airy, and fluffy on the inside, with a perfect, pillowy crumb.  Not to be confused with a dinner roll, mind you.  Here's why:  the crust.  While possessing the loveliest, softest insides, these rolls have just the right crust to hold stuff.  While definitely not a crusty roll, they do possess an exterior of the utmost integrity.  An admirable crust, you might say. One that is just perfect for showcasing a great filling:  sloppy joe's perhaps, a good burger, or maybe a nice slow roasted pork shoulder with some coleslaw?  Oh yes.  That's the stuff.

Whatever you choose to fill them with, be it a sloppy something or other, or a nice sharp cheese and salami, these are the kind of rolls that are best served with something delicious inside.  Enjoy!

Milk Rolls - Adapted from Rustic European Breads for your Bread Machine
- makes 10 large rolls

Ingredients - place in your bread machine in the order the manual calls for, I do my wet ingredients first, followed by salt, sugar, and yeast, then the flour
2 Tbs yeast
3 cups bread flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten*
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
sesame seeds, for sprinkling on top (optional)
1 egg white, for brushing (optional)

*Note*  The original recipe calls for using only 1 egg in the dough.  I must have not been paying attention last night, and used two, and the result was an even softer roll, than when I previously made them, using one egg.

Process on the dough setting, for the entire time, if using a 1 1/2 or 2 pound machine.  If using a smaller machine, remove the dough after it finishes kneading, usually about 1/2 an hour in, then allow to rise in a large, lightly greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap.

Lightly grease a large baking sheet.  Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface, and form the dough into 10 tight, smooth, equal balls.  Place the rolls on the prepared baking sheet and cover with a tent of aluminum foil, or a large garbage bag.  If using the bag, lightly flour the rolls, so the plastic doesn't stick to them.  Set aside to rise until doubled in size, roughly an hour.  Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 deg F.

Once the rolls have doubled in size, remove the foil or bag, and, if you choose to top with sesame seeds, brush them lightly with egg white, then sprinkle with the seeds.  If you don't wish to have sesame rolls, simply spritz with water before placing in the oven.

Bake on the middle rack for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.  Allow to cool on a wire rack, then split and fill with your heart's desire.

These rolls will keep in a plastic bag for up to one week.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Gifts

The Girl's birthday festivities stretched over two days, from her "actual" birthday celebration with family, to the Big Present...a girls' night out, dinner and a play.  Just the two of us. Couldn't have been better.  I have to say, the Girl's got some culture, and definitely knows how to have a good time.

Plus, she looks really cute.  And was in absolute raptures about the whole evening.  Love.

At Intermission, between dainty jaunts up and down the aisle, impersonating Cinderella (the play we went to see), she says to me:  "I need to be in plays."  Say I:  "I can see that."  Says she:  "Can you get me in one?"  Say I:  "Well, offhand, I don't know of any directors, but we'll see what we can do."

I suppose I'd best be looking for a children's theatre group. 

And on the handmade gifting front, I managed to get a couple of things done:

The mittens:

A little on the large side, they're the No Swatch, No Gauge pattern, Ravelry notes available here.  But, well, kids do tend to grow, don't they?

The skirt:

Based on the Lazy Days pattern, on Oliver+S.  I adapted it a little, since I did the bottom in fabric, rather than ribbon, and added some perfect buttons, to funk things up a bit.  My Girl does like a funky ensemble.  Check out those buttons!


One of my other absolute favorites, but not handmade, were these babies:

I spotted the boots back in September, and loved them so much that I paid full price...an act I try to avoid at all costs.  They're fleece-lined too!  I'm a bit gutted that the toes are already scuffing though.  Ah, well.

Kind of a black and red thing going this year.  I like it.  As does my Girl.

I've got a recipe coming soon, have a lovely day!

Monday, December 5, 2011


My Girl turned seven today.  (Seven!)  Which, in the grand scheme of things, is still pretty small.  But in the "I'm-quite-certain-you-entered-the-world-only-just-yesterday" sort of motherly way we have when our Kiddos add another year to their lives (each and every year!)...well, it feels like it's all happening rather quickly. 

The Girl is pretty okay with how things are going though.  Stoked, even.  I mean, truly.  How great to be seven!

Amidst all the organizing, searching for and/or making the perfect gifts, wrapping, baking the cupcakes for class as well as the homemade rainbow chip cake, and whatever else goes down, it's tough not to get caught up in the rush of everything that must get done.  Now.  I have to remind myself to just breathe.  Pause for a wee minute, see things from her wide open, excited eyes, and allow myself to savor what it is to be seven.

Because seen from that angle, life is pretty amazing.

As is she.

Happy Birthday, Bells.