Thursday, April 30, 2015

An old favorite

Yesterday, there were only two cookies left in the cookie jar. I knew one would be eaten by my three year old
niece -I think that's the main reason she wants to come over; "Aunt Tolleen, may I please have a tookie?"- and my husband would eat one when he got home from the barn. Yes, I had an empty cookie jar. I was perusing my recipe box and pulled out an old favorite, Neiman Marcus' Chocolate Chip Cookies. (I always sing Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style" when I bake these.... So I went to Neiman Marcus on a shoppin' spree-a and on the way I grabbed Sole and Mia.. Sorry for getting that stuck in your head, but it's a good one!)
I made this recipe a lot in high school, as you could probably guess if you saw my handwriting on the card, which was pretty bubbly at that time. I loved how they would flatten out and looked picture perfect every time.

I wanted to make the cookies yesterday, but because I had a pot roast in the oven for four hours, the cookies would have to wait... which I totally messed up on, by the way. The roast was in for two hours and the power went off for a moment. I went to the kitchen, to put the timer back on, but forgot to turn the oven back on! I didn't notice this mishap until right before my husband got home. I turned the oven back on and we went for Chinese. He says that was my plan all along. C'mon, I'm not that good.

Here we are, now baking cookies and the house smells amazing! (This is the recipe halved because it makes a lot of cookies.)

Neiman Marcus' Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/8 cups ground oatmeal (I just put old fashioned oats in the food processor, or you can use oat flour)
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1- 12oz. package of chocolate chips
Half of a Hershey's chocolate bar, grated (I didn't have one, so I left that out.)
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a mixer, beat butter until smooth. Add sugars and blend. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients until incorporated. Stir in chips and nuts.
Drop onto a parchment lined cookie sheet using a cookie scoop. Bake for about 10 minutes. The edges will be browned, but the centers not quite set. Take out of the oven and let them cool for two minutes. Let them completely cool on a wire rack.

As you can probably tell, one of the cookies didn't make it. Just like licking the batter bowl, eating a warm cookie right out of the oven is a baker's prerogative. <3

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

peckin' and a scratchin'

Our flock is back out! For the Winter months, we keep them by the barn, so we can plug in their heated waterer, but no more! They are out peckin' and a scratchin'.
Our chicken coop is based off of a coop design that I saw in a Williams- Sonoma catalogue. Originally it was just on four posts and we'd try to move it (but the posts would just sink deeper and deeper into the ground!) My husband cut the posts off and put the coop on some old running gear. Now all we have to do is push it. We usually move the coop every morning. If we want to move it somewhere farther, we use the tractor.
I just finished seeding some trays of vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Napa cabbage, three different kinds of kale, rainbow swiss chard and watermelon and cantaloupe.)
I thought we were going to stay the same size, but it looks as if the garden may grow even bigger! <3

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Baking Day

One of my favorite breads to make is my no-knead artisan bread. There is a book called The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day that I bought my friend a couple years ago. I noticed on my bag of flour one day a recipe by that same name. I clipped it and saved it. It makes a crusty bread with a soft crumb interior. Good thing I mixed a batch up because we were out of bread and my husband asked if I could bake some.  Here is the recipe:

No-Knead Artisan Free-Form Loaf
3 cups lukewarm water
6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (2 lbs.)
1 package dry yeast (2 1/4 t.)
Cornmeal of parchment paper for the pizza peel
1 1/2 tablespoons salt

Mixing and storing the dough:
-In a 5 qt. container or bowl, mix yeast, water and salt. Add all the flour, then mix until uniformly moist. This will produce a loose dough.
-Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours.
(The dough can be shaped and baked the day it's mixed, or refrigerated in a lidded container (not airtight) or loosely covered bowl for up to 14 days. The dough will be easier to work with after at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.)

Baking Day:
-Prepare a pizza peel with cornmeal or parchment paper to prevent sticking when you slide the dough into the oven. Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour. Cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece of dough. Cover remaining dough and refrigerate for baking loaves within 14 days.
-Sprinkling with more flour to prevent sticking, shape a smooth ball with your hands by gently stretching the dough around to the bottom, rotating a quarter turn as you go. Shaping should take no more than 20-40 seconds.
-Place dough on pizza peel and let rest for 60 minutes. (Dough won't rise much at all.)

-30 minutes before baking, preheat a pizza stone in the oven set at 450 degrees and place a metal broiler pan underneath the pizza stone.
-When the dough has rested, dust it with flour and use a knife to cut slashes across the top or cut a cross.
-Slide the loaf off the peel and pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler pan.
-Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is browned. Allow to cool completely.

Bread of the Month Club: April
Cinnamon Swirl
This bread is a favorite and I always know that my sister and her family love it! I like to use it to make French Toast- which is what I did this morning! It's also delicious plain or toasted. Can't go wrong! <3

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I am crazy.

I love pinterest.
I hate pinterest.

I love pinterest because I have found so many ideas for things- crafts, meals, art.

I hate pinterest because I have found so many ideas for things- crafts, meals, art.

I scroll down through the sour cream-cheddar cheese casseroles next to a model wearing a bikini. There are pins of d.i.y. projects and beautiful crafts. I have pinned many things and I've probably made only a handful of them. I know there are people out there making these things and they must be crazy.

That brings me to the fact that I must be crazy.

My month off from birthday party crafting is over. My sister-in-law asked me to make the invitations for her son's birthday. When I made my niece's birthday invite for the Peter Pan Party, I started a design for my nephew's party. I knew the plan for the party was The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and my sister-in-law had already made a board for it on pinterest. She asked me last week if I would start working on the invitations for the party (she didn't know I had already started something). The next day she gave me a picture of the invitation. I must have been having a great day because I don't know why I agreed to it.

Isn't this invitation adorable? Of course, it was from pinterest.
All I have to say is thank you Martha Stewart for your circle cutter because each invitation consisted of six circles and I needed to make thirteen... 78 circles??! ...then the 52 ovals for the eyes, the 13 noses and the 27 antennae to cut out by hand. (Remember, I am crazy. Also, I fully endorse etsy and its talented and crazy crafters; please buy these invitations.)

The invitations I made didn't come out as nice as the original pin. Gluing paper together made the circles wavy, so I put them in books to help flatten them out.


Halfway through cutting the circles, I asked my husband, "Why do I do this to myself?" He said, "I don't know. It looked like a lot of work..." I'm a people pleaser and I can't say "no." Oh, and I  really love my nieces and nephews. <3

Monday, April 20, 2015

Crochet- Along: Clue #9

The last two clues have been posted, but I'm still working on clue #9; just going around in circles! Only three more rounds to go!

I did a round of single crochet in white and now I'm working on the cluster stitch around the whole thing (five double crochet stitches together). I hope I have enough of my green yarn to finish; this stitch uses SO MUCH YARN! I'll make it work... some how. <3

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Felix the Fox

I finally finished the stuffed animal for my friend's baby boy. (She's the one from my post Rustic Nursery.) I wanted to keep with the woodland theme and decided to crochet a fox. I don't have a pattern for a fox, so I did what I always do- I made one up. Of course, I used my handy-dandy amigurumi crochet book to help me figure out the body, arms, legs and tail. (My husband told me foxes don't have arms, but on a stuffed animal, they do!)

I found a cute crocheted fox on ravelry and copied the head as best I could. The head was the only thing that I really didn't know what to do. I also googled "red fox" to see what foxes really look like, that's why the arms and legs have black on them. Yes, I could've bought the pattern for the fox on ravelry, but I enjoy figuring things out and making them my own.


What should his name be? He looks like a Felix to me. Felix the Fox it is. It's Spring here in PA, so I made him a scarf to keep warm.

Beckham, I can't wait to meet you and I hope you like your new friend, Felix. <3

Friday, April 10, 2015


Happy Birthday to my pen pal and birthday partner, Judy!
I pray that God will bless you this coming year <3

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


I just realized that crocheting has taken over my life. I have lots of works in progress in many different forms, that I don't even think about how I crochet everyday. Crochet is my norm. I've been working on the Crochet Crowd Mystery Afghan, I'm crocheting a stuffed animal for a friend's baby and I crocheted some earrings using buttons this morning. How did I not realize this?

You'll have to wait to see the stuffed animal, but I'll tell you about the earrings I made.
Before Christmas, I made several pairs of earrings using buttons. I had seen this done on a blog and after trying to follow the pattern to go with them, I decided to make it up myself. I started out making flowers like the blog had done, but that got boring and not everyone likes flowery things.

This morning I crocheted two pairs of earrings, one for my pen pal and birthday partner, Judy and the other for my long distance college friend, Jocelyn. Judy and I's birthday is on Friday and for Jocelyn, this is a very belated birthday gift, try February. (Yes, Wendy, I haven't forgotten about you- February then March. I am so bad at being on time..)


To make these earrings, it doesn't take a lot of equipment, so when my husband and I drove up to my parents' house for Christmas, I made five pairs of earrings on the less than three hour drive. All you need are buttons with holes that are big enough to fit your 1.75 (or smaller) crochet hook, crochet thread, a needle to weave in your ends, scissors, earring backs and needle nose pliers. I can keep all that in a small bag and take it anywhere with me.

I haven't written out any of the patterns yet because it really depends on the size of the buttons you use. Here are some other pairs (and styles) I've made.

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter. I had a horrible cold, but am feeling better. I wouldn't want to be sick on my birthday. I think I'm in the clear.
If you're interested in a particular earring pattern, let me know. I'll try to write it out.  <3

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Crochet- Along: Clue #8

The border begins! This week's clue included two rounds around the afghan. The first row was single crochet in my color A (white) with the second round with color B (green).
Of course the border of this crazy afghan is also crazy- treble crochets crossing to make "X"s all around.
Only two more clues/weeks! <3