Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Homemade Bread

Just over a year ago, I was blessed to receive a bread maker for Christmas. I was so excited to start making bread - I thought I was going to do so much baking with it that we wouldn't need to buy store bread anymore. Well, if you've ever baked much bread before, then you probably know how ridiculous that thought was. Baking bread is sort of an art. It takes practice to really get it right. Different recipes require tweaking here and there to finally land on the one loaf that you realize you'd eat everyday with joy.

Well, After a year of baking, I think I've found it!

Two days ago, I tried out an adapted form of this recipe, and was astounded by how wonderful it was. The bread came out light enough for a sandwich and hearty enough to fill you up. It was moist and not at all crumbly, meaning slicing it was a piece of cake. It stores well for at least 3 days (although we pretty much ate all of it by then, so I wouldn't really know past 3 days!), and boasts the nicest crust I've ever tasted on completely homemade bread (not hard and crunchy like some loaves). I've already made a second loaf, and it too, is almost gone since we can't seem to stop eating it!

If you're interested in my adaptions for the recipe, here is what I did differently:
  • I skipped the soaking - I was making this bread for dinner, so I needed it quick, and not soaking the grains didn't impart any significant taste drawback! (although, soaking is much better for you, so I think I will try soaking it next time.)
  • I opted to leave out the flax seed and wheat gluten. Pretty much because I didn't have any!
  • Since I didn't soak it, I left out the extra 1/4ts. of honey and the 2 tb. of water.
  • The first loaf, I used olive oil and for the second loaf, I used coconut oil
  • I used 1 cup of bread flour instead of all WW flour. This is mainly because I was running low on WW flour. The second time, I used 1.5 cups of bread flour, because by then my WW flour had run out! The next time I bake it, I will be using all WW flour to see how it turns out.
  • The first time I baked this in bread machine, I needed it before it was "done", so I took it out about 10 minutes early. It was fantastic. The second time, I let it continue baking throughout the cycle, and it was just as good, albeit a bit more dense and not as moist.

There ya have it! I guess that is quite a bit of adaption now that I think about it. I tend to do this a lot these days - just winging it in the kitchen throwing things together! I find I'm actually to the point where I can begin creating my own recipes based on the cookery knowledge I already have - such a great feeling.

Do you have a favorite from-scratch homemade bread?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday's Photos

The other day, spring decided to give us a teaser, and the temperature soared to almost 70 degrees here. I decided to take Peanut on a walk to the park and let her roll around outside!

Peanut LOVED playing in the leaves and grass!

She finally is big enough to fit in the jogging stroller!

Pretty winter landscape at the park:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

First Valentine's Day

Peanut had her first Valentine's day! She woke up chatting like usual, talking about all she wanted to accomplish for the day I'm sure. We had stayed at the new Campbell Castle for the weekend, working on projects to get the place ready for the move in a few weeks. Daddy C had to run to Lowes for a few more things so he took Peanut with him on a date. I made sure she wore her Valentine's outfit! Daddy C, being the wonderful father and husband that he is, also bought Peanut a balloon to wear all day long! He also got Mommy C some beautiful roses - she did not expect that! It was a nice way to start the day.

While Peanut was on her "date" I managed to paint the first coat in Peanut's new room. We choose the color 'Honey Butter', which we were going to use for the kitchen before deciding on 'Barefoot Beach' there instead. I think it turned out wonderful! It's so bright and cheerful in her room now!

The rest of the day was spent working on projects around the house, which included finishing up the demo of the kitchen walls (more on that later!) and painting. Aunty Brittney stopped by for a Valentine's day play-date with Peanut, which helped Mommy C and Daddy C finish up some work.

On the way home, Peanut, wore out from the day's activities, quickly fell fast asleep and slept the entire 3 hour drive back home.

Monday, February 14, 2011


We recently had some bad weather pass through North Carolina. When I say bad weather, they were really bad storms and even tornados. Our cable line was knocked out and was taking forever to get back on-line, so we decided to switch to direct tv fayetteville. My kids were out of school because of the nasty weather and were going stir crazy being cooped up in the house without any television to watch. We had been planning on switching for a while, but after the two week long outage, we decided that it was definitely the time. We even added some of the premium movie channels, which I wish that I had before. I didn’t know what I was missing. My husband and I don’t watch a whole lot of television, but we do like to get in the bed and watch movies in our bedroom. I have been surprised by how many great movies are on those channels. We have watched everything from classics like “Gone with the Wind” to new releases like “Love and Other Drugs”. You don’t even have to pay to rent them!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The New Campbell Castle

On Friday, we closed on our very first home! We are beyond excited to own a home with a garage, a driveway and a backyard, and oh yes, 4 sides of windows! The Campbell Castle is more than just a unit now - it's an entire property complete with a moat (ok, so there's not a moat, but the fact that we could add one is terrific!).

One of reasons we love our new house is the impressive amount of natural light that shines through. See this picture? No artificial lights! Hooray!

This past weekend, we begun the work of preparing our move into the new home with necessary cleaning and painting. The house seemed like it hadn't been cleaned in years, but with a lot of enthusiasm, hard work and sore bodies later, we've made significant progress in getting the house ready. So far, we have painted the Master, the living room and the hallway. It is amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do for a room! The above photo is a before shot - I'll share an after photo after we have moved in and I've fixed it up.

It's going to be wonderful not only to be in our own home finally, but also to be near family. Already we have had such a stream of visitors willing to lend a helping hand! It's a blessing to have so many wonderful family members nearby, one that we will never take for granted again.

Peanut enjoyed the extra attention like always, and she took amazingly long naps in her new room while we were there! I think she is going to love the new house as much as we do!

The next few weeks will be busy with all the packing and planning for the big move. By far, this will be the biggest move we've ever attempted, but I'm sure everything will go smoothly provided we don't get too stressed! At least peanut is here reminding us to calm down and take breaks!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Developing a Routine

I have always struggled to keep a consistent routine. However, since Peanut entered this world, keeping a routine is the one thing that has kept me from losing my sanity some days! Not only does she function better when her days are a bit regulated and predictable, but I function better too. Lately, I've been following the FlyLady's methods to help me establish basic household routines such as shining my sink and keeping clutter at bay. It's amazing how much of a difference it has made in my life so far! And since Daddy C is naturally a clean freak, he really enjoys coming home to a relatively clean and maintained home each evening.

I've begun the following routines:
  • Morning - Get up, make bed, brush teeth/wash face, get dressed, start breakfast
  • Afternoon - Clear out hot spots, Empty dishwasher (if not done in the AM), one load of laundry
  • Evening - Clear out hot spots, load and run dishwasher, shine sink

These simple steps have become habit for me, and I love how easy it is to keep my home tidy and take care of myself and Peanut in the process. I don't have to think about what I need to do anymore- I'm on autopilot! In addition to the daily routine, I've been working on creating a weekly routine as well.

  • Monday - Change sheets. Do Extra Laundry.
  • Tuesday - Errand Day - Grocery Shopping, Buying Club, Post Office, Bank
  • Wednesday - Vacuum Carpet (This is actually done 2x a week now though)
  • Thursday - Mop Kitchen, Clean Bathrooms (still working on this!)
  • Friday - Any Special Tasks

As you can see, I am still working on making this weekly routine autopilot like my daily routine. For some reason, changing the sheets and doing laundry on Monday has always worked well for me, and I actually have that one down pat. Tuesday has been grocery day for as long as I can remember - it works out really well since the Buying Club where we buy our staples such as milk, meat and eggs is open on Tuesdays. Wednesday through Friday need work! I need to think of a better way to structure those days so they don't get put off so much.

So that's it! Those are my daily and weekly routines I try to follow - making my life and Peanut's life much easier by eliminating that overwhelming feeling of having so much to do and not knowing where to start!

Do you have routines in your household? What do you need to work on?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winter Reprieve

This past weekend, Aunty C came for a visit here at the Campbell Castle. We were all so excited to see her and spend time with her - especially Peanut! She enjoyed playing, giggling and spending her days with her fun aunt.

On Friday, we went dumpster diving together for boxes! Apparently, one of the best places to go for free boxes is the local shoe warehouse. So, Aunty C waltzed in and inquired about us taking some off their hands, and they replied she could take all she wanted, but they were all in the dumpster in the back. When we drove around to the back, we discovered the boxes were laying pretty deep inside the dumpster, and the door was rather high. So Aunty C exclaimed "I'm going in!" and before I knew what was happening, she had dove into the dumpster! We laughed so hard; but don't worry, the only items inside the dumpster were boxes, no real garbage.

Saturday, we heard the forecast was supposed to be 45 degrees, so we planned a trip to the park to soak up some Vitamin D. We stopped at Panera Bread for lunch, and by then it had actually warmed up so much that we took our lunch outside and ate on the patio! Then we spent the rest of the day at Cherokee Park - a great place to go for a little nature in the city. We went for a lovely nature hike and took Peanut to play on the playground. The weather was so lovely, a true reprieve from winter. Since Aunty C lives in Chicago, she felt like she was visiting Florida or something! When we finally arrived back home, we discovered the high for the day had actually reached 56 degrees - no wonder our pasty winter faces were a little burnt!