Prayers

There aren’t really words to express the sadness. The confusion. The mounting pain.

I am not a mother.

I hope to be {one day}. But that one day has yet to come for me.

Yet I feel such a dreadful, indescribable void for each and every

parent

brother

sister

cousin

niece

nephew

grandparent

aunt

uncle

friend

who lost a loved one on Friday.

And when I consider how I feel watching the news reports and reading the updates, I can’t bear to imagine what those so near and dear to the lost must be feeling. I can’t give a voice to that feeling. I doubt anyone truly could.

Please know you’re all in our prayers.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone

No doubt most of you are busy getting ready for today’s festivities. Well, those of you in the States, at least. So rather than a post in my usual style, I just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

I hope you are spending the day with family.

With friends.

In the warm company of those you cherish most.

Have a blessed and full-of-thankfulness day.

xo Liz

Tuesday Quick Tip: Doing More with Citrus

This one’s an oldie-but-goodie cleaning tip that’s definitely worth repeating. Anytime you use a citrus fruit (lemon and orange are my favorite), put the peels in the garbage disposal and run through with hot water. Your sink will be refreshed and your kitchen will thank you.

No disposal? Try putting the peels (lemon works best) in a small pan with a little vanilla, rosemary, and plenty of water. Place on the stove over very low heat and your house will smell amazing. Add water as needed to keep the pan from drying out. Note: be sure to monitor the pot closely and only use when home. Turn off the stove and remove the pot from the heat before leaving the house or going to bed.

Friendship Bread Update

I wanted to fill everyone in on the Friendship Bread starter I made last week. Status: it is going c-r-a-z-y.

Here’s a rundown of the past few days, since I haven’t kept up on a daily basis. Bad blogger.

Thursday (still the first day of the starter):

It had nearly overtaken the jar I was keeping it in.

Thankfully, there was still room to spare, but not knowing how much it might expand during the night, I opted to move it to a different container. Complements of a large pickle jar I had on hand for food storage, the overzealous starter was well contained with plenty of room to spare. The jury is still out (in my opinion) on the benefits of using a jar vs. a gallon plastic bag. I’ll keep you posted.

Note: when using a pickle jar, wash the container and lid very well. I can’t stress this enough. And if anyone has tips on getting the pickle smell out of the lid I’m all ears. Soaking in soapy water, generous portions of baking soda…nothing has gotten rid of the faint aroma of dill picklesšŸ™‚

Wednesday (Day 6–feeding day):

I think it was very appreciative of the food.

It could have just been me, but while there was obviously some fermenting going on Days 1 through 5 the starter looked a little bland. It definitely deflated quite a bit after moving into it’s new digs, and I did have the momentary worry that I might have upset it. No worries when Day 6 came around. After measuring out and stirring in the flour, sugar, and milk, the starter was in hog heaven, if you will. Like Day 1, it took off again and grew quite far up in the jar.

Up next:

Baking.

As in: baking baking baking. One of the two freezer starters will be ready for baking today (the other one flopped), and I am planning to write up an exclusive baking post for you all! It will be up soon; this weekend is going to be super busy so please be patientšŸ™‚. Momentary segue: also today, I will be making about 157 batches of cinnamon rolls. Give or take a dozen. And yes, I’m planning to have that post up for you all soon as well.

Freezer Starter Update:

Like I mentioned above, I was halfway successful with freezing (and subsequently starting again) Friendship Bread starters. What portion of my success/failure was typical and what was fluke I have no idea. But based on my whopping one whole experience, here are a few of my tips:

(1) If at all possible, freeze the starter on Day 10/1 rather than in the middle. I don’t know if this is helpful because it has just been fed, but my frozen Day 1 starter started showing signs of fermentation (even if very little) within about 2 days. The other never really did anything, even after feeding.

(2) If you don’t freeze on Day 10/1, try to feed the starter before freezing. This goes fairly hand-in-hand with (1), but bears repeating. I did read a few accounts that said feeding first was better (in some cases necessary) while others felt the opposite. In my experience (very little, admittedly) I will feed before freezing from now on.

(3) Package the starter well. This may be a trial-and-error tip, but I have a theory that my frozen Day 10/1 starter might have been better equipped since I packaged it well. As in, the starter went into an old sour cream container covered first in plastic wrap then with the lid on, followed by a few more layers of plastic wrap for safe measure. That might be overkill, but my frozen Day 6 starter (which was not fed before freezing; read 1 and 2) was in a freezer-safe zip top gallon bag and didn’t make it.

(4) Use the starter sooner rather than later. This may not have had much to do with my experience either, but my starters were frozen for about 5 months. Shooting for 3 months (or even sooner) in the freezer might yield better results.

Have you ever made your own starter (Friendship bread or otherwise)? Recently? Or 10 years ago? I’d love to hear your tips, thoughts, and experiences! Let’s get this party started: leave a comment below.

Cheap DIY Word Art

I love art and can certainly appreciate the effort and creative energy people put into it. But I have a problem sometimes with creating it. I can read a dozen blogs and see people make these great decorations MacGyver-style with some popsicle sticks, construction paper, and a can of spray paint (to the point that I’m practically drooling over the after shots). Unfortunately, I don’t always have the creative oomph others have. They can see the {potential} while all I can see is the {present}.

Anyway, while home for lunch the other day I had this sudden urge to do something crafty (in an imaginative way, nothing bad, promise :-)). But considering that lunchtime is limited (I have an hour and part of that is committed to drive-time) doing something major like pulling out the Cricut or starting an in-depth project was a little unrealistic. But I had just bought these new alphabet stamps at a craft store and they were already out and ready to go… It was too good to pass up.

Thanks to my lack-of-ability-to-decorate, I had a brand new wood frame still in its protective cardboard packaging hanging (not literally) around. It was a wedding gift (thank you, kind friend! We love it, we really do!) that had yet to find a home and that I had yet to put a picture in. But for what I wanted to do, it was perfect.

Complements of the fine folks at eco-elements, the frame’s paper insert was the perfect color and size for my project. All I had to do was turn the paper over and voila: instant canvas, just waiting for my creative overflow.

It wasn’t hard to decide what to put in the frame (it’s a 5×7 so there’s admittedly not much room). A while back, I came across some wooden word art at The Lettered Cottage that I fell in love with and pinned immediately. I chose to make a “choose JOY” reminder (modified from the TLC inspiration) and wound up making another “radiate LOVE” message in a second wood frame. A simple quote with a whole lotta oomph was just what my wedding frame needed.

{Aren’t the stamps adorable?! Please ignore the state of my craft table. I tried to photograph and crop strategically, but it was quite a mess. Unfortunately it hasn’t improved since these pictures were taken. Just thought I’d throw that in as a bonus; it’s important for me to jump on the “keep it real” bandwagon :-)}

Anyhoo, here’s a quick step-by-step tutorial on stamping some cheap word art that will honestly take longer to read than it took to make.

Supplies:

Picture frame with paper. If your frame’s included paper isn’t the color you want, get some new paper. And if your frame’s included paper is glossy, get some new paper. Glossy paper + ink = smeary, messy mess. Not pretty.
Stamps.
Ink. Doesn’t have to be fancy. Just make sure it’s stamp-approved (i.e. not permanent) and archival quality never hurts.
Rag lightly dampened on one end.

(1) Remove paper from frame (whoa big step) or cut a new piece of paper to size.

(2) Arrange your {dry} (i.e. uninked) stamps on the paper for a visual. This will help you figure out an approximate alignment and will make sure your word or phrase fits. Tip: be aware of the size of your stamps in relation to the size of the letter. Smushing my stamps as close together as possible created a wider word than the actual stamping because of extra space around each letter.

(3) Choose the center-most letter (or letters, if an even number), coat with ink, and press onto paper. This will be self-explanatory to even novice stampers. If you have no idea how to go about rubber stamping (it’s easy and a lot of fun!) I’m planning to do a rubber stamp tutorial for your reading pleasure. You can see that I didn’t stress about my letters being perfectly aligned and level on the page. Type A personality aside, I knew that if I tried (and subsequently failed) to line every letter up just so, it would drive me crazy. Instead, I opted to let the letters fall where they may (within reason) and am pretty pleased with the result.

{the magazine in the background was just to protect the table {just in case} and to provide a little cushion. I had been trying some paint brushes and meant no offense toward the lady pictured when I cleaned out the brush on her face. #usewhatchagot}

(4) Work your way out from this/these initial letter(s) until you have your word or phrase completed. Washing your stamps is optional (although I {highly} recommend it), thus the dampened rag. My preferred method is to dab the stamp on the damp part of the rag a few times post-imprint and then again on the dry part. Doing this while the ink is fresh makes clean-up easier and will eliminate cross-contamination of colors in the future.

(5) The ink should dry pretty quickly, especially if you’re using stamp-friendly ink on a non-glossy paper. You can always let it sit for a minute if you’re unsure, or try dabbing a corner of the last letter (as it will be the most likely to be wet, if it even is) to test for dryness. Pop the paper back in the frame and you’re ready to display!

In case you were wondering, I used a Color Box ink pad in Espresso for this project. It was something I had on hand and I really liked the way it coordinated.

The choose JOY message found a temporary home in our kitchen above the microwave, so it’s guaranteed to remind us at least a couple times a day that joy is a conscious choice that must be made. At the risk of polluting our home with these cheerful little frames, I have a dozen ideas for other stamp projects bouncing through my head. But I guess this is one type of pollution that has benefits.

What craft projects have you completed recently? Do you like stamping (or have you ever tried)? If all goes as planned I hope to have a stamping tutorial together for you soon. I’d also love to hear about quick and easy decorations you’ve done–on the cheap is even better!

Simple Buttermilk Biscuits

I have such fond memories of weekend mornings from my childhood. Most weekends, I enjoyed a few cartoons with my Dad (Looney Tunes were our favorite) and Mom would makeĀ buttermilk biscuits for breakfast. The recipe was one passed down to my Mom from her mom’s mom (Maw) and it is so simple to create. But for years I kept a comfortable distance from the biscuit-making. I enjoyed watching my Mom make them, but unlike the countless other recipes in her arsenal, I opted to watch rather than help. There was something so complicated to me about making them. I have since found out that nothing could be more simple.

With {literally} two ingredients, you can have a pan of fresh homemade biscuits on the table in 30 minutes.

2 c. self-rising flour (plus more for forming)
2 c. buttermilk (approximate)
1-2 T. vegetable or canola oil (optional)

(1) Preheat oven to 450Ā°F.

(2) Measure 2 cups self-rising flour into a medium bowl.

(3) Add a conservative 2 cups buttermilk to the bowl. This step is the trickiest (but promise you’ll try these anyway!). Weather conditions can sometimes affect baking and biscuits are no exception. I always measure out a full 2 cups of buttermilk and pour most–but not all–into the bowl at first. As you’re stirring, you can better tell how “wet” or “dry” the dough is. Although it shouldn’t be soaking wet, it does need to be a little on the damp side. Add more flour or buttermilk a little as a time as needed.

(4) Stir the dough gently, turning the bottom onto the top to mimic kneading. Tip:Ā don’t over-stir biscuits. Doing so will make them tough (read: hockey pucks). Instead, make each stir count by making broad, “sweeping” motions from the bottom of the bowl and over the dough. This is why I prefer to use a good rubber spatula, like the one pictured.

(5) Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface (still use self-rising) and form into a log. Dust the top and sides with extra flour and coat your hands as much as needed to keep the dough from sticking to you. (This and the next few steps aren’t as easy to photograph without a tripod or extra hands, but I will explain them as best I can.)(Please ignore my countertops. We’ll get them replaced {someday}.)

(6) Begin pinching off measures of dough (aim for 9 evenly sized balls) and placing in a prepared 8×8 pan. Mine is a coated Calphalon pan that I love. Because of it’s coating, I don’t have to worry about the biscuits sticking (as you’ll see later, they just slide right out). If you aren’t as confident about your pan (or if you’re using glass) you’ll want to grease your pan in some way. Butter, shortening, or oil (my mom’s go-to; use either vegetable or canola oil) would all work. Just choose one. If I were using butter or shortening, I would follow with a dusting of flour in the pan as well.

(7) This is the point where you decide on the presentation vs. healthiness of the biscuits. My mom would (very lightly) brush the top of the biscuits with a little oil to help them brown. Very rarely do I do this and the reason is simply to make the biscuits a {little} bit healthier.

(8) Place pan in preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned. The best way to tell if they are done is to turn them out and break one off. If the biscuit doesn’t appear doughy, they’re done.(see how well they came out?)

Separate the biscuits (don’t leave them in the pan or they can get soggy) and serve while hot. I love them with eggs or topped with our church’s from scratch apple butter. Put any leftovers in an airtight container (make sure they have cooled thoroughly) and they will keep for a few days.

What recipes do you remember from your childhood? There are so many favorites I plan to share as time allows. I’d love to hear about yours as well!

Note: Calphalon doesn’t know I exist. I just happen to love their product and love gushing about things I love.