Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Book Class and Retreat

My friend Kristine and I taught a handmade book class at the women's retreat we attended recently. We were invited to teach a craft and settled in on making small, handmade books we called "chap books," that could be used as a place to keep important quotes, fun pictures, memories, random thoughts, or interesting ephemera. Of course we had to wear old school aprons, both thrifted and full of someone's memories. The weekend was a wonderful way to relax, renew and remind ourselves why we do what we do and why it is so important to continue to seek ways to bring joy to ourselves and those around us. Don't their hands look beautiful and relaxed?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Singin' in the Rain

It was raining a bit last week and we've been loving our rain boots and hand-me-down raincoats.
And don't forget mama, in those orange polka dotted boots. I'm dancing in the rain just as much as those three little ones.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Idea House

I have found my dream craft room and it is within walking distance of my house. Oh my, it is a beauty! Think anyone would notice if I casually pulled my minivan into the Bachman's parking lot in the middle of the night and casually absconded with the contents of this room? I think it would be perfect in our future farm house.Bachman's Floral and Garden Center, a Minneapolis landmark of sorts, is celebrating their 125th anniversary and has decided to feature this house that was built in the 1920's for some members of the Bachman's family on their property. It stayed in the family for quite some time, but it appears that up until recently it was a rental property and not very well maintained. They have now decided to host seasonal home decorating shows at the house, each of which will feature new things, seasonal ideas and general eye-candy for the people. It costs $5 to enter, but your entrance ticket can be used as a $5 coupon towards any home furnishing item in the store.

The dates are limited for each season, so make sure to check their calendar. Have you been yet? What was YOUR favorite room?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Happy Monday

I spent the weekend at a women's retreat. After having all the meals cooked for me and a schedule to follow with no one but myself to worry about, I am entirely relaxed. It was a beautiful, spring-shiny day here and I feel as alert and perky today as these tulips I recently had on the dining room table. Happy Monday to you. More details on the craft class I taught at the retreat soon!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

We celebrated Easter today at my parents' house. It was complete with a sunny day, an egg hunt, snuggles with the two new babies and lots of great food.
Have you made the challah from Artisan Bread in Five? Mmmm. What are you waiting for? It is THAT good.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Birthday Cakes

I love to bake cakes. I look forward to family birthday parties so I can look up a new recipe and try my hand at creating something beautiful and tasty. For Carl's family birthday party last week, I found a fun recipe in the latest Bon Appetit magazine for a classic Chocolate Mayonaise Cake. Yes, mayo sounds a bit wierd, but I've learned throughout my marriage to Ron that mayo has its place in the kitchen besides in sandwich making. He has taught me that it is a killer secret ingredient, usually better left unmentioned. (He makes a mean pot of chili with mayo!) The mayo takes the place of butter or oil and brings a very nice moistness to a cake. There's no strange residual mayonaise flavor at all.

The cake was great, though I had to call in my baking-pro friend Janet for a little advice on the frosting. It called for bittersweet chocolate not exceeding 61 % cacao. I had unsweetened chocolate on hand. I couldn't figure out if they were interchangeable and didn't have the computer on to google it, so Janet was able to give me a few tips. In the end, I used mostly unsweetened chocolate but replaced 2 oz of it with semisweet chocolate chips. The frosting was really nice to work with and not too sweet.

For Carl's kid birthday party, a small affair during the day over spring break, he wanted to bring in the fun. He had seen a photo of a cake Ron made when he was single and a cat owner: a kitty-litter cake. You bake a spice cake and a white cake, tear them up into crumbs, mix them together with two small boxes of vanilla pudding colored with grey or black food coloring. Once they are mixed, you put them in a new kitty litter box and serve with tootsie rolls molded into you-know-whats using a new cat scoop. Ron was happy to be the one to make Carl's 7 year-old birthday wishes come true.