February 28, 2009

The smell of bread baking

I haven't felt like cooking lately, and my husband has kindly been keeping me fed for the last several months. We had some visitors on Saturday and he put together a lunch menu, for which I was asked to make homemade rolls. He says he's a yeast-killer.

I could survive on bread alone. Growing up, my mom would make a double-batch of these rolls and I would usually try to eat at least a half-dozen while they were still hot from the oven.  


2 cups lukewarm water (110-115 degrees)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 pkg. yeast
1 egg
6 1/2 - 7 cups flour

Mix together the water, sugar, melted butter, and salt. Add 2 packages of yeast, stir until it's dissolved, and then let it sit a minute. Add 1 egg.  With an electric hand-mixer, beat in 3 cups flour until smooth, then work in 3 1/2-4 cups more flour with your hands. Knead it until smooth - not sticky, but not too dry.

Put in large covered bowl and let rise until double in size (about 2 hours).  Punch the dough down and shape into buns.  I usually get 16 from this recipe. Place them in a jelly-roll pan (the cookie sheets with sides) so that when they double in size they will be touching. This way they help each other up while rising. If you put them too far apart, they will still be fine, but won't be as tall. Cover these (I use a clean tea towel) and let rise another hour.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. You want them to be golden brown on the tops and bottoms. I usually use two different pans so that I can cook one fully, and then I cook the other one so that they're almost fully cooked but not browned (8-10 minutes). That way I can have fresh rolls the next day by just popping them back in the oven to heat them through and brown. 

For the sandwiches, we just put some boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a crockpot with a couple onion chunks and cloves of garlic. Once cooked, remove the onion and garlic, shred the chicken, and add barbeque sauce. I put a little cheddar cheese on mine.  :)

February 21, 2009

Precious Cora

Having just blogged about my niece's first birthday, it was that much more heart-breaking to read about Cora Paige last night.  I don't know this family but I can't stop thinking about their little girl, who passed away just 3 weeks after her cancer diagnosis, just shy of her first birthday.  Their blog is not easy to read, but their strength is inspiring.

Please consider supporting The Cora Playground Etsy project.  Over fifty shops are donating their time and creations to help this family build a legacy for their beautiful little girl.

February 18, 2009

Yeah, he's that old guy.

Okay, it took me longer than a minute to get to this story, but cut me some slack - I'm trying to work two full-time jobs here!

Anyway, that's me in the photo below, holding a 10-minute-old baby in a hospital nursery in what I hoped was period-dress from the 1920s-30s.  

When my sister went into labor on the 15th of February last year, I was there for her. I was also the designated dog-letter-outer.  As the night progressed (or didn't progress, as it were) I went to let her dog out and ultimately decided to spend the night there, since not much was happening and my sister had plenty of people attending to her. With my cell phone next to my head, I attempted to get some sleep. After a couple hours of that sleep where you never really feel like you slept, I decided to get up and get ready. There was an open call for movie extras that day that I had planned on going to.

The next morning, with my hair appropriately curled, I walked into the small-town hospital in my vintage dress and coat. Instead of my uncomfortable heels that went with the outfit, I just slipped my birkenstocks on. After getting weird looks from the receptionist I headed toward the elevator and greeted my sister's doctor as I saw her head toward the stairwell. She didn't really acknowledge me. Strange.

My brother didn't recognize me when I walked into the maternity wing waiting room, and when the doctor saw me again, she still didn't realize who I was. Guess I looked a little different than I normally do!

Nothing much had progressed, and it was determined that a c-section was going to be necessary. My sister was a little scared - I told her it didn't make sense for her to worry too, since I was already doing that for her - that she should just think about meeting her new daughter.  

We were told that we wouldn't see her for awhile afterward, and when we did she would be groggy and tired, so my parents urged me to go to the casting call. I didn't want to go, but I finally did. Before leaving town, I stopped at Wal-Mart to develop the pictures I was taking to the casting call. Just as I was finishing up, I got a call to come back to the hospital.

My sister was in recovery - everything had gone well and her new daughter was in the small nursery right in the maternity wing since there were no other patients there that morning. My mom handed me my niece - barely 15 minutes old. I'd never held a baby before. I later saw the photo my mom took of me at that moment with a look on my face like "um, I don't know what to do with this thing!"

My sister was finally brought back up to her room to be with her perfect little girl. After lots of smiles and photos, my sister needed her rest, and I headed off toward Madison.

From the hospital, it was going to be about 1.5 hours to Madison. The casting call ended in about 1.75 hours. Plenty of time.  Except for the fact that something was going on at the coliseum that was causing traffic to be backed up at the same exit I needed to take. I took what I thought would be a shortcut, which didn't really help. Okay....I still have 7 minutes to get there - plenty of time.

And then there was a train. Aaak! What are the chances? Sitting in traffic, waiting for the train to pass, my minutes were ticking away. I finally pulled into the parking lot about 1 minute before the call was scheduled to end.  

Well, they did pull me into the "you're worth a second photo" group, so I was hopeful, but sorry to say -- you will not see me as an extra in Public Enemies with Johnny Depp. I guess acting just wasn't in the cards for me. Well, I didn't need to not be chosen as an extra to know that, but who would give up a chance to potentially meet Johnny Depp??? They actually ending up filming some of their scenes in the same town that my sister lives in!

So, I now imagine telling my niece this story in 15 years or so, and she's going to say "Who's Johnny Depp? Is he that old guy that was in that pirate movie you watch?" or something to that effect. And I'll feel old, but happy, because this is one of those memories that I won't ever forget.

February 15, 2009

Who is Johnny Depp?

A year ago today at this time I was crocheting baby booties in a hospital waiting room.  And no, I don't normally dress like this...I'll post the story that goes along with this photo in just a minute... 

February 8, 2009

Check out these Etsy shops!

I've been neglecting my blog because I've been so busy with custom orders for Valentine's Day.  So I thought I would feature the work of some other Etsy sellers.  Enjoy!

A brand new Etsy shop with cute cards and fantastic prices.

Another fairly new shop with art that will make you smile.

Unique and colorful photographs.

An assortment of items, including this CD - 'Songs From a Piano'.

Quality handbags with fun fabrics and great prices.