Potential Projects

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Garlic update

Hello friends!  So back in November, I decided I'd try my hand at planting some garlic.  You can find that post here.  I thought you might like an update.  It appears that so far, all but one of my garlic cloves have sprouted!  Hooray!  This is what it looked like this morning:

Pretty exciting!  Speaking of garlic, I made some really tasty Empanadas last weekend.  As soon as I get a free chunk of time, I'll get that post up.  I've been too distracted by fun trips to the Aquarium and the Children's museum.  Oh, and I participated in a flash mob.  That was a blast.  More on that later too.  In the meantime,  I hope you all are enjoying this rainy Tuesday!  

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cleaning Tips

Let's be clear, I am the last person on earth who should be giving cleaning advice.  I was the child who was constantly in trouble for leaving messes everywhere, not making her bed, not doing her dishes, etc.  I am the adult who stacks things into (fairly) tidy piles, and tosses all kinds of random stuff that "looks interesting, and I'm sure I'll look at it later" into a drawer, a closet, or the garage.

So all that being said, I obviously joined the throngs of people making plans for 2011 to be the year "I finally get (a little bit) organized!"  And I am going to keep myself honest by documenting a little bit of that here.

A few promises:  If you have problems with cleaning and organization, I do not judge you.  I thank you for likewise not judging me.  Life is a journey.  We can all try to improve.  Also, since I do not come to cleaning or organization naturally, I also can't promise to share anything that you don't already know.  I'll just share tips that I pick up along the way.  And feel free to email me your tips, or post a comment below.  I need help!

OK, so today I did something that I kind of love, but also feel a bit guilty about often times when I do it.  I dropped Elliott off at daycare, and then came back home.  That's right, I didn't go to work.  I just came home.  Today I didn't feel much guilt.  I have gotten a ton done, and the little guy has only been in daycare a few hours.  I'd probably feel more guilt if I came home and just read a book.  Isn't that odd?  Yes, I struggle.

At any rate.  So today I discovered a couple of cleaning tips that surprised me by how well they worked, and I thought I'd share.

TIP #1:  I used a baking soda and water paste to clean my class stove cook top.  Have you done this before?  It worked like a dream!  Admittedly it took a lot (A LOT!) of elbow grease.  But I've been cleaning that stove for the last 5 years with a glass cleaner, and the baking soda paste took off TONS of marks that I had thought were just scratches on the glass.  If you'd like to try this, I used ratio of about 2 parts water to one part baking soda.  I poured it on the stove just as my phone rang.  So it ended up sitting on the stove for about 10 minutes before I started scrubbing.  Not sure if that helped or not.  It seemed like it really was the friction from the baking soda that loosened up all the gunk that I hadn't realized was gunk.  And it didn't scratch my stove, it was cheap, and not chemically!  Woot!

I should mention now, that I have thought about buying one of these to clean the stove.  Has anyone tried it?  If I ever do finally buy one I'll let you know.  In the meantime, baking soda was cheap, and on-hand.  

TIP #2:  I followed these directions to clean out my dishwasher.  This might be one of those times where you look at this link and say, "Where have you been Emily?!  Don't you do that regularly?"  The sad truth is, this is the first time I've cleaned the inside of my dishwasher.  I'm embarrassed to admit we've lived in this house over 5 years.  Better to start now than a year from now though, right?  Especially because I use that thing a ton.  Practically daily since Elliott was born.

OK, those are my tips for today.  Do you have tips to share?  Leave a comment below.  I can use all the help I can get!  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mom's dinner rolls

Happy New Year!!  I've been away from this blog for a couple weeks, but am happy to report that my absence was the result of a wonderful trip to visit my mom.  

As some of you know, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer this summer, and has been going through chemo for the past few months.  For me, Mom's cancer diagnosis has challenged me in a number of ways.  First off, cancer forces you to look at your beliefs about death.  No small task.  And talking about death doesn't generally come up in casual conversation.  Frankly, I think most people are uncomfortable with it.  We all want to die peacefully in our sleep.  

At any rate, over the past few months I have come to realize how much I love my mom, how much my relationship with her means to me, and how much I hope to have a similar relationship with my own child (or possible children---dare I even write that?) someday.  We haven't been able to see my mom much recently since our little cutie is exposed to a whole host of germs at daycare.  But Gramma decided to take a risk for Christmas!  So exciting!

I have always enjoyed cooking with my mom.  As Elliott is getting bigger, I've started pulling a chair into the kitchen so he can cook with me.  I have memories of doing this with my mom when I was young.  I also vividly remember the time she let me make playdough by myself and I melted her Tupperware bowl all over the stove.  Oops.  Fortunately I didn't burn the house down.

This year our cooking endeavors have been a bit more modest.  My mom often makes whole wheat rolls and grinds her own flour, using wheat we harvest each summer at the family farm (now you know why I think she's secretly super-woman).  This year, she tried a new recipe.  And it was great!  Mom doubled the original recipe, and we had rolls for days.  There were 13 adults and 5 children at our Christmas dinner, but we were eating sandwiches for the rest of the weekend (yum!).  Just a tip, in case you have leftovers, or decide to make a double recipe!

Here's the basics:

Proof your yeast.  Then add sugar, butter, an egg and mix it up.  Add whole wheat flour too.  Sorry for the lack of pictures.  I was attempting to entertain a cute toddler at this point.  Yes, he is drinking water out of a shot glass.  Apparently mama forgot the sippy cup.  You'll be happy to know it's just water.  And that his hair is always that messy when he wakes up. 

OK, back to the bread.  Then keep adding all purpose flour and mixing until you form a dough.  Turn it out on a lightly floured surface and start kneading until it's smooth and elastic.  Then let it rise until doubled.  Punch the dough down and let it rise a second time.  Now we rejoin pictures!

Punch down the dough.  Divide into two part and roll out into a circle:

Cut the circle into 8 "slices":
Then roll up into rolls:

Place rolls on baking sheet and allow to rise until doubled.  You can then repeat these steps with the other half of dough.  (Or other 3 parts of dough if you doubled the recipe)

Bake at 400 for 12-15 min and enjoy.

One more comment.  I can remember when I was little, my mom talked about how glad she was that I had my grandma's hands.  Apparently my grandma's hands "aged well" whereas my mom thought she had "old lady hands" at a young age.  In looking at the above pictures, I have to say that I think Mom's hands are beautiful.  I think they're the hands of someone who has worked hard her whole life, and is pretty darn good at just about everything she does.  I love you Mom!!

Mom's Dinner Rolls
Adapted from All Recipes


  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Melted butter to brush on the tops of the rolls (Unless Mom did this at lightning speed while I was brushing my teeth, I believe we skipped this step---Mom's never one for extra calories!).


  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Mix sugar, salt, 1/4 cup melted butter, egg, and whole wheat flour into yeast mixture. Stir in all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch down dough, cover, and let rise in warm place until doubled again, about 30 minutes.
  4. Punch down dough, and divide into two equal portions. Roll each into a circle, and cut circle into eight slices. Roll pieces up into spirals, and place on baking sheets. Brush tops with melted butter (optional). Let rise uncovered in a warm place 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and brush again with melted butter (optional).