January 31, 2010

Making Bread

As I have said before the New Year always brings new resolutions for me. Aside from the most important, be a better wife and mother, eat healthier, exercise more, most of my resolutions are related to my ongoing goal of becoming a domestic goddess.

Naturally making home made bread fits this bill. And of course my idol, Ms. Martha, has an entire article devoted to bread making in the February issue of MS Living. It's like she can read my mind.

Her recipe is for classic white bread with three variations to also make multi-grain, cinnamon-raisin and rye. I choose to make the multi-grain version.

Yummy right?

Multi-grain Bread- MS Living
Makes 2 loaves

1/3 cup bulgur
Two 1/4 oz envelopes active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups warm water
3 T plus 2 t honey
4 T unsalted butter, melted plus more for bowl and pans.
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and dusting
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rye flour
2 T coarse salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup crushed flaxseeds (did you know that whole flaxseeds are not digested; therefore you do not reap the benefits of flaxseed if it is not crushed).
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds (I actually didn't add the sunflower seeds because I am not a fan of seeds in my bread).
1 egg white mixed with water

1. Soak bulgur in 1/2 cup warm water for 20 minutes; set aside. Sprinkle yeast over 1/2 cup water. Add 2 t honey. Whisk until yeast dissolves. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle or dough-hook attachment. Add butter and remaining 1 1/2 cups water and 3 T honey. Whisk flour with salt; add 3 cups to yeast. Mix on low speed until smooth. Add soaked bulgur, rolled oats, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds. Add remaining 4 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing until dough comes away from sides of bowl and forms a ragged, slightly sticky ball. Butter a large bowl.

2. Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball. Transfer to prepared bowl; cover with plastic wrap.

3. Let dough stand in a warm place until it doubles in volume (it should not spring back when pressed), about 1 hour. Butter two 4 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch loaf pans. Punch down dough; divide in half.

4. Shape 1 dough half into an 8 1/2 inch long rectangle (about 1/2 inch thick). Fold long sides of dough in to middle; overlapping slightly. Press seam to seal. Transfer dough, seam side down, to pan. Repeat with remaining dough. Brush each leaf with egg wash and sprinkle with oats. Dab tops with egg wash to help adhere. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drape loaves with plastic; let stand until dough rises about 1 inch above top of pans, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Bake, rotating pans after 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer to wire racks. Let cool slightly, turn out loaves. Let cool completely before slicing. Loaves can be stored at room temperature for three days or frozen for up to three months.

I served the fresh bread with homemade organic tomato soup- mmmmm (recipe coming soon). Oscar and I loved this so much, I have decided to make bread every Friday to have fresh bread for breakfast on Saturday morning and for the rest of the week's lunches.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

January 30, 2010

Branch Art

Years ago I visited my friend Becky in Oregon to celebrate her bun in the oven. While there, I oohed and awed over a frame in her house made from tree branches. I thought it was such a beautiful way to bring nature inside and immediately asked her where she bought it so that I could run out and get one for my own house.

I've always been inspired by nature, especially birds (and their nests), branches and leaves. They are my favorite items to decorate with; it kind of always looks like Autumn in my house. Sadly Becky had no idea where her branch art came from because it was a gift. But she, being the awesome person that she is, reminded me that I could probably make it.

Fast forward to summer 2009, Oscar and I hired a landscaper to remove some old cherry trees from our backyard. Before he hauled the trees away, I remembered Becky's branch art and kept a few pieces to try and make my own.

Well it has definitely been the longest running project I've worked on. Most of the time the branches have been in the garage waiting for me to get to them but we finally did and I just love it! I really really love it!

Before starting construction I asked Becky for a quick picture to refresh my memory. Here is the original sent from her phone so the picture is fuzzy but it did help me to remember.

Here is the frame Oscar constructed for me over the summer. After picking the pieces I wanted, Oscar cut them into a square, pre-drilled holes into each piece and then secured them with small screws. Another fuzzy picture taken from my phone this time but you get the idea.

And after months in the garage, I finally got around to adding the smaller branches using wire and a glue gun. Oscar is going to secure the branches better with brads later but it is done in my book!

My version, on the wall and decorated for Valentines Day! I just love antique Valentines Day cards and think this is a great way to display them. Plus I get to add birds- have I told you how much I love birds? I do think I will add more moss, Becky's version has more moss and I'm leaning towards more moss. : )

Here are some detail shots. I'm in love with my new frame and can't wait to decorate it with each new season!

Funny thing is after months of not checking in, I recently visited my wedding florist's blog and saw her own branch art. Guess great minds think alike!

January 26, 2010


All the parenting books tell you in order to avoid tantrums and melt downs parents should give their toddler choices. Claiming he is less likely to lose it if he feels involved in the decision.

So last week when Ozzie decided that he didn't want to leave the house to go to our Stroller Strides workout, I remembered this parenting advice and asked him if he would like to pick out a toy to take with him. He immediately perked up, ran to his toy bins to pick something out, then happily followed me out the door.

This has now become a part of our regular routine. Every time we have to leave the house for an errand, Stroller Strides or The Little Gym, I ask Ozzie to pick a toy that he would like to bring with him. So far it has worked like a charm.

Most days I am giggling at his choices. If I could just be inside the head of a toddler my life would be complete; or at least all of this would make sense... maybe.

Some of my favorites so far:
- an over sized beach ball
- the cover to the Austin Powers Goldmember DVD. Not the DVD just the cover.
- one Elmo shoe
- the handset to our old cordless phone
- another shoe that lights up
- and today a football (which he also sleeps with on occasion).

January 25, 2010

Clean Out the Refrigerator Chicken Soup

A couple of weeks ago Ozzie and I had the worst head cold ever. He woke up with it on Monday morning and of course I got it on Tuesday. All I wanted was homemade chicken soup to warm up my congested head.

Luckily the night before I roasted a chicken and served it with baked potatoes so I had left overs. I call this recipe "Clean Out the Refrigerator Chicken Soup" because I literally cleaned out my refrigerator to make it.

Clean Out the Refrigerator Chicken Soup

2 T olive oil
1/2 onion thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 or 2 zucchinis sliced thick
1 or 2 carrots sliced thick
Shredded chicken (left overs from roasted chicken).
1 to 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I added 2 breasts to make it a heartier soup and to have left overs for dinner).
4 cups chicken broth (homemade is best if you have it).
Whole wheat rotini noodles (I used 1/2 box)
1 potato, mashed
Salt & Pepper to taste

Brown chicken breasts in olive oil and set aside
Add onion and saute until translucent
Meanwhile, dice or shred chicken breasts
Add garlic, cook 1 minute careful not to burn
Add carrots and zucchinis
Add chicken broth
Add shredded chicken back to pot, cover and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and cook on medium-low heat for 35 to 45 minutes.
During last ten minutes of cooking, add pasta noodles and cook as directed on package.
Season with salt and pepper to taste

While soup is cooking, mash potato with 1/3 cup non-fat milk.
Serve soup over small mound of mashed potatoes.

I know the potatoes and noodles in the soup can be carb overload but it tastes really really yummy and I was sick so I gave myself an extra carb pass that day.


January 23, 2010

Banh Mi

When ever we are in Seattle, Oscar and I make up any excuse we can to stop by our favorite Asian deli and pick up a couple Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches.

You can imagine my delight when I found a recipe for Banh Mi sandwiches in yup you guessed it, Everyday Food- Great Fast Food. Have I told you this is my new favorite cookbook yet?

Although typical Banh Mi sandwiches are made with pork this version is made with flank steak, but it is a dead ringer to the original.

Vietnamese Banh Mi Sanwhiches
Serves 4
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon water
2 carrots, grated
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 fresh jalapeno sliced thin (the recipe doesn't call for this but I added it because traditional Banh Mi sandwiches always have jalapeno slices.)
4 hero rolls
1 pound sliced Flank Steak with Lime Marinade (see recipe below)
1.In a small bowl, stir together garlic, sugar, red-pepper flakes, vinegar, and water.
2.In another bowl, toss together carrots, scallions, and cilantro leaves. Toss with half the vinegar mixture.
3.Split and lightly toast hero rolls; dividing evenly, layer with carrot mixture and sliced flank steak. Drizzle with remaining vinegar mixture, if desired.

Flank Steak with Lime Marinade
Serves 4
1/3 cup (about 4 limes) freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 scallions (about 1/3 cup), thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced, peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
Vegetable oil, for grates
Coarse salt and ground black pepper

1.In a resealable plastic bag, combine lime juice, soy sauce, scallions, ginger, and red-pepper flakes. Add steak, and seal bag (place in a dish to catch any leaks); marinate in the refrigerator, turning occasionally, up to 1 hour.
2.Heat grill to high; lightly oil grates. Remove steak from marinade, letting excess drip off (discard marinade); season with salt and black pepper. Place on grill; cover. Cook, turning once, until meat reaches desired doneness, 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing thinly.

Serve with Cucmber Radish Slaw on the side- YUM!

January 22, 2010

Broccoli, Chickpea and Tomato Salad

I have been looking for new ways to make vegetables for dinner. You can only eat steamed broccoli and salads so much before everyone in the family remembers why they hate vegetables. And now that Ozzie is a toddler, it is so important for him to see Mommy and Daddy eating their veggies so he eats them too.

So once again I turned to Everyday Food- Great Fast Food for a new recipe. Oscar and I were thrilled at how delicious this salad was. Ozzie wasn't a fan but I'm sure balsamic vinegar is an acquired taste and a little too mature for a 17 month old. Someday, somehow I will get vegetables in that kid!

Broccoli, Chickpea and Tomato Salad
Serves 6
1 pound broccoli, separated into florets (4 cups)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar (I didn't have any red-wine vinegar on hand so I substituted balsamic vinegar)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1.In a large saucepan with a steamer insert, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Add broccoli, cover, and steam until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes.

2.In a large bowl, whisk together Dijon, vinegar, oil, and onion; season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and broccoli. Toss to coat with dressing. Let cool 5 minutes. Serve at room temperature or chilled.



It has been awhile since I visited Laurie Cinotto's blog. Laurie was our wedding florist, I still day dream about my wedding flowers above. She is sooo talented. My wedding theme was organic lovely (I wanted everything to look gorgeous but not planned; as if it just grew from nature right at that spot) and Laurie totally delivered. Sigh.

During my interview with Laurie I discovered that all of my inspiration photos I saved from magazines and the web were actually Laurie's work! I knew immediately that I had to hire her. Of course, she did an amazing job with our wedding flowers. I always smile when I think of the boutonnieres below that fit so perfectly with our wedding location, The Willows Lodge. In fact, I loved Laurie so much I seriously considered starting an "I Love Laurie" fan club on The Knot but then I reeled myself in.

So it was not surprising to see that Martha Stewart called on Laurie for her summer issue of Martha Stewart Weddings. I am so proud of her. Check out her post about it here. And of course, Ms. Martha liked what she saw and invited Laurie back for more!

If you are in the market for a florist, please meet with Laurie. You will not be disappointed. And if you are looking for everyday floral and handmade inspiration, make sure to check out her blog.

January 21, 2010

Ozzie's Gifts

We recently child proofed all of our cabinets and drawers. Originally we did not want to drill holes into our cabinets but our ever curious toddler forced us to do it.

Before putting our house on lock down, Ozzie loved to take something from one drawer and replace it with something else; typically one of his toys or something that did not belong there. I would often open a kitchen drawer to find the item I needed missing and in its place a gift from Ozzie. See exhibit A below, plastic bags askew, sandwich bags missing and Felipe & Turner (Disney's Handy Manny tools) in their place.

Everyday I would follow Ozzie around the house while he happily rearranged our drawers and put everything back where it belonged only to have him change it all around the next day. Oscar and I started to call the little surprises "Ozzie's gifts" and eventually just left it as it was. Somehow his toys always found their way home and I would eventually find what I needed.

It's only when things got a little dangerous that we decided to lock down the cabinets and drawers. He got tall enough to reach the knife and utensil drawer. See exhibit B, yes he is playing with skewers and yes I stopped to take a picture before taking the sharp skewers away from him.

Isn't that always how it goes? As a parent you have your idea of how you will do something. No I don't need to drill unnecessary holes into my cabinets. I'll teach my son to stay out of them. He'll listen, he's such a good boy. Only to learn the lesson the hard way because your "good boy" is actually an energetic, rule breaking (and might I add tenacious) toddler that will not listen because he is dead set on getting those sharp skewers! Parents, when will we ever learn?

Happily (at least for me- Ozzie's not too thrilled) our cabinets and drawers are now securely locked. But if I am being honest, I do kind of miss his little gifts.

Oscar the Grouch

Although we call him Ozzie, his real name is Oscar after his father. And of course you can't have the name Oscar without a few Oscar the Grouch items. So when I spotted this ridiculous Oscar the Grouch hat I had to snatch it up for my little grouch!

I got one smile then he gave me this grouchy expression before promptly ripping the hat off his head; so fitting! Oh and I remembered to turn off my flash for this picture.

January 18, 2010

Chicken Stir-Fry Wraps

I am on a wraps kick. I guess it is better than an ice cream kick, eh? Of course my new favorite cookbook, Everyday Food- Great Fast Food, had a recipe for chicken wraps that I had to try.

The chicken wraps are good but I still think the other lettuce wraps from the same cookbook are better. Nevertheless, here is the recipe for Chicken Stir-Fry Wraps. I'll let you be your own judge.

Chicken Stir-Fry Wraps
Serves 4
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally and thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, mixed with 1 tablespoon water
12 to 16 Boston lettuce leaves (about 2 heads)

1.Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over high heat. Add half the chicken; cook, stirring constantly, until opaque throughout, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.

2.Add remaining tablespoon oil to pan, along with the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until onion is tender and golden, about 4 minutes (reduce heat if browning too quickly).

3.Reduce heat to medium; add garlic, ginger, and red-pepper flakes; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.

4.Stir in soy sauce, vinegar, and cornstarch mixture; remove from heat. Add chicken and any accumulated juices; toss to coat. Serve in lettuce cups.
Try them both and let me know what you think!

January 17, 2010


Have you seen the new Brothers label maker, the P-Touch PT1090? For those of us who use the New Year as a reason to get more organized, the P-Touch is a must have. You can add a date and time stamp to all your labels; which is great for smoke detectors batteries and other dated items. But my favorite feature is the decorative pattern option. Pretty and organized- every girls dream!


I just got my February issue of Martha Stewart Living and love the article about Darcy Miller's art show featuring her family.

My favorite is her family tree. What a cute addition to a child's room or a great gift for a genealogy fan.

Click here for more clip-art from Darcy's gallery show to make your own family art.

Photo courtesy of MS Living.

January 16, 2010

Well This Is A Fun Surprise

Ozzie's 1st Birthday party is being featured on The Creative Party Place blog as a part of Monday's mini-feature. Fun!!!

I spent so much time on that darn party in between Ozzie's naps and his 104 fever scare, that was also during the hottest week ever in the history of Seattle, so getting featured on three other blogs (The Creative Party Place, Kara's Party Ideas & Everyday Celebrating) tickles my fancy!


January 15, 2010

Tostadas Salsa Verde

I tried another recipe from my new favorite cookbook, Everyday Food- Great Fast Food. Once again, I was happily surprised by the ease of the dish and Oscar was happy with the yummy factor. I am bookmarking this one for the summer when it is too hot to cook and tomatoes are in season. Delicious!

Tostadas Salsa Verde

Serves 4
4 (6-inch) flour tortillas
3 ounces shredded (3/4 cup) pepper Jack cheese
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded Poached Chicken Breasts
1 cup jarred green salsa, plus more for serving (optional)
1/4 cup chopped plus 2 tablespoons cilantro
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
3 plum tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup sour cream

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange tortillas on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle cheese evenly over tortillas; bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

2.Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss together chicken, salsa, 1/4 cup cilantro, and cumin. Spoon mixture evenly over tortillas; bake until heated through, about 8 minutes.

3.Top with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro. Serve immediately, with additional green salsa, if desired.


Imagination Movers

This is another late post. Can you tell I am still catching up from the holidays?

Oscar and I bought Ozzie tickets to the Imagination Movers concert at The Moore Theater as an early Christmas gift. Ozzie absolutely loves the Imagination Movers. He dances along to all the songs and even whips out his guitar to play along when he sees the Movers with their guitars.

Unlike other kids shows with dancing and singing, the Imagination Movers are actually pretty fun. They play real music and rock out instead of ridiculous songs sung by a big purple dinosaur. I am not a fan of Barney. Four dads who had a dream to teach kids rock music I can handle.

At first Ozzie didn't really get it. He had quite a look on his face. As if he was concerned that the Movers (and warehouse mouse) who are usually on his TV screen are now right in front of him and he couldn't figure out how that happened. But eventually he got into it and jammed out with the other kids and parents.

It was a good show, they played their songs and because we are in Seattle they threw in Pearl Jam and Soundgarden tributes for the parents. Oh and a  Journey song. It's not a rock concert without a Journey song! We even got up close and personal with Mover Rich who sat down in half empty row in front of us and gave everyone a high five.

We had a great time and would take Ozzie again if they have another tour as long as he still enjoys them as much as he does now. Here are some pictures from the concert.

Here is the "I'm concerned" face.

Mover Rich sat down in the row in front of us for high fives.

Warehouse mouse is Ozzie's favorie character.

January 12, 2010

Capital Chicken Casserole

While looking through some old recipes I found my mom's recipe for Capital Chicken Casserole. Why it is called that I have no idea but it is one of my absolute favorite chicken dishes so I immediately added it to my recipe planner for the next week.

It tasted exactly how I remember it- sooo good! Suddenly I was filled with dozens of childhood memories. It's funny how something can trigger your memory like that. I could almost smell the house I grew up in.

Oscar liked it too and gave me the thumbs up to add it to our dinner rotation, though I won't add it a lot because it does have its fair share of butter and cream. Still sooo good!

Tess Boogie's Capital Chicken Casserole {that's Oscar's nick name for my mom} :-)

1 chicken, cut in parts or 6 chicken breast halves
4 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. cooking oil
1 pkg. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp. flour
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c. dry white wine
1 c. water
1/2 c. cream
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. tarragon leaves (fresh if you have it, dried also works)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 can artichoke hearts, drained
6 green onions, chopped
2 tbsp. parsley, chopped

In large fry pan place butter and oil and heat to medium temperature, until butter melts. Add chicken and cook, turning, about 10 minutes or until brown on all sides. Remove chicken and place in baking pan or casserole.

In same fry pan saute mushrooms about 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in flour. Add soup, wine and water; simmer, stirring, about 10 minutes or until sauce thickens. Stir in cream, salt, tarragon and pepper; pour over chicken.

Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for 60 minutes. Mix in artichoke hearts, green onions and parsley. Bake about 5 more minutes or until fork can be inserted in chicken with ease.

I served it over white rice with steamed artichokes. Have I said sooo good yet? Mmmmmm....

Christmas Comparison

I was supposed to post this in December but the Holidays are always so busy. Better late than never, right? As promised here is a comparison of Ozzie at the Christmas tree farm from last year to this year.

You probably can't tell because the 2008 picture is a close up but it is the exact same pose in front of the same set of trees. Oscar is holding him up in both shots. It was foggier in 2008 so you can barely make out the trees in the background.

What a difference a year makes- huh?

January 8, 2010

Family Resolutions "Subway" Art

I absolutely love this handmade art of family resolutions that I just saw on So You Think You Are Crafty. It is part of their craft challenge. I am not 100% sure who made it but so far it is winning this week's challenge.

What a clever way to decorate your home. Sort of a permanent reminder of how you want to live your life this year. I so wish I was this talented in the craft department.

Make sure to check out their site to your cast your vote!

January 7, 2010

Oh Geez...

Oscar bought me a Kindle for one of my Christmas presents and I love love love it! But there is one problem. My nose is constantly in a book or, er, in a Kindle instead of updating this blog! Sorry! I will make it back to blogging.

I promise pictures of Ozzie's first concert at The Moore Theater, a Christmas update, more recipes and my January sewing project soon. I just have to finish one more chapter.....

January 4, 2010

Happy New Year to You...

...and Happy Anniversary to me! That's right friends, today is my blog's one year anniversary.

I can hardly believe that I have been blogging about life with Ozzie for a year now. He, by the way, is 17 months old. 17-months-old! Seems like only yesterday he was a little blob. An adorable little blob mind you but still a little blob. Now he is a full fledged toddler, babbling, running and screaming all through the house.

I have really enjoyed my year of blogging. Even those panic-stricken moments when I realize it has been a week since I've posted something and I don't have anything new to say. Somehow inspiration eventually strikes and I am back on the blog. I am hoping I have another year in me.

Another year- new years always bring new promises or resolutions for me. Eat healthier, exercise more, blah, blah, blah. One resolution that I only partly kept last year was my goal to learn how to sew. I definitely know how to use my sewing machine and hemmed a few articles here and there but I hardly call that knowing how to sew.

So sadly learning to sew is now on my 2010 list. I really want to learn this skill, I just have to find the time to learn it. My goal is to sew one new thing a month and blog about it. Crossing my fingers that I'll pull this off. Life is so unpredictable with a little one. Bet you can't tell who rules the roost?!

Still I am determined, first up for January are these beanbags from LIttle Blue Boo. Wish me luck. I think I'll need it...

Here's to a new year of life and blogging!