Friday, May 31, 2013

In The Name of Sitting!

If you've been to our house I'm sure you've noticed our lack of comfortable/available chairs. Don't worry, no need to hide it. We've only bought maybe three pieces of furniture since we've been married and chairs were not one of them. So we have a few dilapitated wooden chairs, a couple of metal frame/torn vinyl seated chairs, a drum stool and a swivel office chair.
So we've been on the hunt. Kept our eyes open. And only last saturday did we finally see a set of four that were retro enough to match out red and white formica table. But we saw them! They were $75 for the set which felt steep, but we hadn't found anything else.
Our car was full of people so we said we'd come back. They were only open Thursday-Saturday and it was Saturday afternoon. We weren't worried about them being snagged.
So i went back today. A music producer from Boston had come up yesterday with a U-Haul and cleaned them out! Chairs, gone! My shoulders sagged. The owner offered to let me take a look in "The Back Room". Un-priced, dinged up, not re-painted yet Back Room. It was great. And I found the above four chairs. They're so comfortable! And sturdy, and interesting! They were $10 each! They just need to painted some really cool and bold color. ANY IDEAS?
The other chair had been spotted over a month ago at a thrift store but had a sold sign on it. It was marked $45, and then it was still there last week without the sign. I popped in today and it was still there! I offered her $35 and she said "I can do $33.75." The entire store was 25% off today.
It was my day for chairs I guess.
so the next time you come over I will offer you a chair. A good one.

The Swing Home

So as some of you know we've been trying to decide on a housing situation since I got pregnant. We have an open finished attic that we've shared with London, Spencer is sleeping in the office, the office is in the dining room and our table is between the kitchen and the living room.
It's a squeeze, and we're very ready for a bedroom that doesn't involve sneeking over the sqeaky floors past the crib every night.
Becuase of the height of the ceiling and some things involving brick, it's kind of complicated to add on upstairs, but we've had a plan that would enable three bedrooms to fit. We'd talked to three contractors and they were either too expencive, were too scared of the city by laws, or just didn't get back to us.
Then, a couple weeks ago, we talked to a local guy that has been working in Keene for years, he had some good ideas, and said he'd run a quote.
We were getting really nervous. It sounds like the job is going to be more complicated than we thought. It's probably going to be too much. Are we sure we want to spend that much and still live on a busy road? So we looked at a couple houses in the area, but none of the yards were as nice as ours.
We decided to be really specific. We said prayers asking that it be really clear whether it would be best to stay here or move on somewhere. We said a particular price ceiling and said "This much or more and it's not worth it."
We've always talked about moving someday since we moved. Maybe getting a place that's new for both of us, no history, clean slate. So we haven't really spent a lot of time making this house feel like home.
Then yesterday we got the email and the quote was $3,000 less than our cap, and we could do the demo ourselves (meaning Tyson could) which would bring it down almost another $3,000.
So it's settled. We're home.
First thing Ty did was make a swing for the kid's.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Morning At The Park

No school for Spencer today! I have so many pictures of London because I'm with her all the time, so whenever Spencer is around for a vaca-day I try to get lot's of pictures.
Today we started out by sleeping until 8(wow! a two hour advantage), playing upstairs, and then we went to the playground at Spencer's old elementary school. We had a blast.

 Spencer on the zipline in sixth grade^^
Spencer on the zipline in kindergarten^^

Old Index Card Oatmeal Molasses Bread Recipe

 This is a quintessential index card recipe; A friend of ours has been making this bread for over forty years. She passed it on to another friend, who passed it on to my mother-in-law, who passed it to Tyson. Then when we were dating he taught me how to make it.
My Mom also makes bread, and I fondly remember her Bread Book (don't remember the real name). It was falling apart with manila pages and pen sketches and it had perfect recipes like Honey Wheat Beer bread, and Potato Bread that made awesome rolls.
Oddly enough I don't remember ever making bread with her, or any lessons. I'm sure this is because I either wasn't into the whole "waiting patiently while it rises" thing, or I was too full of teenage angst that day.
So, this is the first bread that I clearly remember making. And I've made it every week for our pb&j's since we got married over six years ago.
Oatmeal Molasses Bread
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup molasses
3 tbsp butter or olive oil
1 tbsp salt
2cups boiling water
1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp yeast
6 cups flour
Place everything up to the boiling water together in a large bowl or bowl of standing mixer and then pour hot water over them. Stir and let sit until water is just warm and oats have softened
Mix yeast and warm water in the same cup that you used to measure molasses. The sugars in the molasses will help activate the yeast. Let it stand a few minutes until puffy.
Pour yeast into oat mixture. Add flour 1 cup at a time stirring well between additions until it's too stiff to use a spoon, about 4 cups in. Dump onto counter and knead another cup or so into dough, adding 1/4-1/2 cup at a time. You may not need the whole six cups. Stop when it's moist but no longer sticky.
Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let it rise at least an hour. Timing will vary depending on the temp and humidity of your kitchen. You'll know it's done rising when a poke from your finger doesn't spring back to shape.
Punch it down and turn out onto a very lightly floured counter. Knead for a minute just to get all the bubbles out. Divide into two even balls and shape into logs. Place in two oiled bread pans and cover with the towel.
When they are just starting to push up past the top of the pans turn your oven on to 375 degrees, 350 degrees if your oven runs hot like mine.
After oven is heated you can make tiny slashes very gently in the top with a very sharp knife if you want some decoration.
Otherwise, just bake for 28-30 minutes or until they sound a little hollow when tapped.
Let them cool completely before you bag them up.
But you should definitely try a hot piece with butter...
xo, Cass

 This is some amazing apple crisp that Tyson made while my bread was rising^^
This is an empty bowl that used to contain whipped cream^^

Making Dish Duty Fun ...

...let your sister help!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sham-free No-poo

A little more than a month ago I was reading on "How To Hair Girl" about this new movement of people going shampoo free. The chemicals in the modern shampoos are scary, and the idea is that the chemicals strip our hair and scalp of their natural oils. This leaves us stuck in a cycle of having to shampoo because it can't moderate itself. I've been moving this way for a couple of years anyways. I stopped dying my hair when I got pregnant and my hair gets very dry so I've been shampooing only every three days. So I decided to try it.
 Now, this does not mean that you don't care for it. No hairstyle products at all! Every three or four days I've rinsed my hair with about a tbsp of baking soda disolved in warm water followed by diluted apple cider vinegar.
 The first two week were a little rough. Right around my hairline got a little stringy and greasy so I did a lot of brushing to distribute the oils through to my dry ends and I wore it up most of the time.
 But it's been over a month now and it's seemed to have evened out!^^ It's been wavey and easy to handle. After I do the rinses it's very shiney and thick. It hasnt gotten really hot yet so I'm curious to see how it goes when I'm sweating but I've read quite a few comments that rinsing it with hot water every day helps keep everything balanced. And I think I'll try some natural dry shampoo just to add some nice fragrance for special times.
 So, that's the story so far. I'll keep you posted. Please, tell me, would you do it? Have you done it? What's your hair like before and after?

Our Probably-Not-Really-Mexican-But-Neither-Are-We Meal (Refried beans done right)

Sunday's are busy at our house. We all shower, eat breakfast, dress up, pack lunch and leave by 9. Go to meeting, eat lunch at the Kingdom Hall, go in service til about 2, and when we get home we have to at least try to tidy the chaos that we made while getting ready to leave. So Sunday dinner's are easy. I do use canned beans on Sundays but you could certainly use dry beans that have been boiled ahead of time.
These beans are so flavorful you might never go back. They are more effort than opening the cans and scraping it into a saucepan, but after you've done it once you can fly by the seat of your pants and make them according to your mood that night. We ate the Summer Corn Salad with our burritos tonight.

Personally Refried Beans

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 onion chopped finely
2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp each cumin
pinch of cloves
chili flakes to taste (optional)
salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter

In a heavy skillet saute onion and garlic in a little olive oil until almost translucent. Add spices and stir quickly, keeping things moving so that they don't burn.

Add can of tomatoes with juice. Simmer until thick.

Add beans and mix well. Add water until there is still a layer of beans above the water line. Simmer, mashing occasionally with a wooden spoon or potato masher until it's as thick/smooth as you want.
When you take it off the heat stir in the butter. Do not skip this step. It brings it all together and keeps it form getting pasty and dried out. And it's butter. Don't skip butter.

No finished product picture for this one, because let's face it, refired beans aren't pretty. But please let me know how you use yours and how you like it! Cass

Summer Corn Salad

I'm a little ahead of the yearly schedule on the salad. This is a perfect dish for those couple of weeks in summer when you have more tomatoes and cucumbers than you know what to do with and the corn is still at it's yummiest. I made this last year when uncle john and aunt shiela came over and it was requested three other times before the summer was over.

Summer Corn Salad

1 cup of corn kernals
1 cucumber peeled and chopped into bite size pieces (size according to your taste. I like to be able to fit a few pieces of different things on my fork.)
1 tomato also chopped, same size as cucumber
1 avocado, ditto ^^
1 lime
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
salt and pepper
red wine vinegar

Mix the vegetables and cilantro together. Squeeze lime and taste and salt/pepper it to taste. Add vinegar if it needs some brightening.
Other possibilities:

Add a can of black beans to make it a hefty main dish next to nachos
Lose the corn and cilantro, add shaved fennel and basil instead

photo taken by spencer gerken