Friday, January 24, 2014

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

I am NOT a cook, nor is this blog about cooking... since I hate it. Did I mention that before? Yeah, I hate it. There's nothing worse than a dirty house that needs cleaning, a garage full of old furniture goodness that is begging to be painted, a neglected sewing machine upstairs, a sunny day outside begging to be enjoyed, and I have to ignore all that to make a giant mess just to make a dinner no one appreciates that I will have to clean up when I am done, before I clean everything else. Oooooh cooking dinner is the worst!

That being said, I use my bread machine almost daily. That thing I DO love. I am mastering the art of putting the flour in it so I don't get a speck on the counter and don't have to even wipe a counter down :) Yet every time I talk to someone about my bread machine they say, 'Oh, I never use mine' and I think to myself, 'they must be c-r-a-z-y!' I have a few staple recipes that I LOVE and they also make my life easier and help us save Moolah! So I will slowly share a few here, starting with my favorite: 

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls. 

Cinnamon Rolls just happen to be one of my favorite foods. I've passed that love down to my kiddos, and my eldest especially loves them- like me :) So on her 5th birthday I promised she'd wake up to fresh, homemade cinnamon rolls. They can be made ahead of time, and I just needed to let them rise for 15-20 mins, then let them cook for about 20 mins.

The recipe comes from The Bread Machine Book by Marjie Lambert (copyright 1996, it was a garage sale goodie.)

To make 15:

1/2 Cup milk
1 egg
3 TBSP butter
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Cups flour
2 tsp yeast

1/2 C brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 TBSP very soft butter

3 tsp butter
1/2 C brown sugar
2 TBSP water
30 pecans (optional)

Put dough ingredients in machine and set to dough stage. Remove from machine when done and punch down. Let dough rise for 5 mins. Mix up brown sugar and cinnamon to make filling. Roll dough into rectangle 7-8 inches wide and about 16 inches long. Spread the soft butter over the dough. Thickly sprinkle filling brown sugar and cinnamon over surface. Roll dough into long cylinder. Slice crosswise through the cylinder, cut into 15 pieces.

Make the syrup by combining butter, brown sugar, and water in a small pan. Heat until butter is melted and sugar dissolved. Stir well, then pour syrup into bottom of a 9x13 baking pan. Place a pecan onto the top of each cinnamon roll. Turn rolls upside down (so pecans are on the bottom) into the baking pan. Cover and refrigerate until the morning, or cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Bake rolls at 350 for 20-25 minutes. When rolls are done flip them over onto a tray or baking sheet almost immediately or the syrup will cool, harden, and they will stick.

Hope you love the simplicity of this recipe as much as I do. I always have those ingredients in the house and I love being able to make things ahead so on big mornings like b-days, Christmas, or 1st days of school I can enjoy them and NOT cook. Since I hate cooking. Have I mentioned that before?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My $20 Dresser Redo


I found this deal for $20 on Craigslist and couldn't pass it up.

I loved the lines, I love the little feet, I loved the handles going down.

I chalkpainted it blue, chipped it up, refinished the top, and fell in love!

I wish I could make a nursery around this piece. Or use it as a tv stand. But, sadly, I don't need either of those things. So this will sit in the garage until someone else falls in love with it as well.

I hope someone does. The younger farmgirl might get it in her room until then. I still haven't quite bought her a dresser. I have one in my head, and just haven't come across it yet. But I did paint her bed purple today. She decided she wanted a purple bed. Well, big sister's is blue, so why the heck not? :) Blue walls, purple bed, it's going to look a bit like an Easter Egg in there, but I'm hopeful it will work out. I definitely need to get rid of the Peter Rabbit theme that is leftover in bits and bobs from her nursery. We are well past nursery decor!!

So wish I could find my before pic. oh, well.

Linking Here

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Homemade Chalkpaint Recipe and How-To

If you are new to the DIY furniture painting world, let me be the one to tell you that chalkpaint is not chalkBOARD paint :) We all had to learn it sometime. It's a hard finish paint with a smooth and almost chalky finish that doesn't need wood to be sanded before you use it.

Chalkpaint is actually paint with calcium carbonate (chalk) and water and such added to it. Annie Sloan was the first to pioneer it, and thus she can charge a pretty penny for it! And if you have some pretty pennies in your pocket and want to use them on expensive paint, I've used her stuff and it is gooooooood.

In my world I can't afford to spend $40 on a (little) can of her beautiful paint, so I've been trying out other alternatives. I've finally settled on a recipe and routine that works for me. 

The best routine I've found is as follows...

Find a large canning jar, tupperware, old spagetti jar, or something of the sort that you will never want to use agian, because it will be ruined. Use a cup measurement and fill it up with 2 cups of water. Use a sharpie marker to draw a line where the 2 cup line is. Fill the paint up to that line. Then mix in 1/3 Cup Plaster of Paris (I found mine in the craft section of Walmart) and water until it reaches the consistency that you like. This is where high-quality paint is very important. In the spirit of not going to too many stores with 2 small children in tow I bought a gallon of antique white paint at Walmart to refinish this: 

It did turn out beautiful and I was able to sell it for a nice profit. The problem was that since I used cheap latex paint as a base, instead of a nice Behr, it got these hard little balls all over I had to sand off. In the end it was fine after a good sanding with my little mouse sander, but I would rather not deal with little hard balls all over and will never do this recipe with Walmart paint again.

Here is the before if you are curious...

So anyway, you mix up the paint with a paint stirrer in the jar or tupperware and then just start painting! I usually clean the piece with a rag and bleach water, remove the drawers and hardware, then paint right over the glossy finish. I do two coats, the sand for a smooth finish and distress the edges with my Black and Decker Mouse Sander (BEST tool if you are going to be refinishing and distressing lots of furniture!) Then finish with your wax. Annie Sloan's wax is nice, but once again pricey, so I go with Minwax. Just get a rag and wipe on and kind of buff it up.

If you are venturing into the world of making your own chalkpaint I hope this helps!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mom & Home Organization

Time to ring in the New Year and start fresh! In my mom's devotional group the last few months we were reading the Ten Habits of Happy Mothers, which by the way is a really practical, down to Earth book of advice from a seasoned pediatrician and mother, with a touch of religion thrown in. Just the perfect balance of everything for me! And Meg Meeker, the author, asked us to write a list of all our expectations of ourselves, crumple the list, and throw it away. Then write a new list about what truly matters to us as mothers and what we personally need to do to become closer to the mother that we want to be. Then choose your top three and only focus on those expectations of ourselves. I found this advice really useful when ringing in a new year and making all those lovely resolutions we love :)

My priorities are different than yours or anyone's probably, but in the end I only chose two things I wanted to focus on this year.

So here they are, my Resolutions, or Priorities, for 2014

1. following a more structured routine around my house
*this includes a big focus on no tv at night, going to bed early, and getting up at 5am to make time to have some prayer, coffee, blog time, and solitude before the monkeys get up at 6:30. (i know it seems crazy to get up that early, but when I do I am a much happier person, it's just a me thing I'm sure!)
2. write a prioritized list of my to-do's and to-want's on a weekly basis so I have a better balance each week of things I have to do, want to do, and things I should do :) and just in general stay more focused one what I'm spending my time actually doing! (With a small focus on prioritizing my top love: thrifting, suburban homesteading, and living and teaching my kids a more sustainable lifestyle.)

In the spirit of organization and focus I created my Ultimate Mom's Organizational Tool. :) I took one of those three ring folders and printed off a bunch of organizational papers as well as created my own weekly schedule/list. Here's the site I found any of the printables I didn't create myself.

The weekly to do list is shown above. I divided into my waking hours and filled in the things that usually never change much, like preschool, naptime, breakfast, laundry, etc. Then I can look at the blanks and purposely fill them in with my top priorities.

The next page has lists of weekly goals for home, personal, and work/etsy that I will fill in each week. The bottom of the page has ongoing lists of priorities, big and little projects, and even vacations and little day trip activities that our family can do so I can use those lists to fill in the blanks when I need a reminder. I made my own weekly calendar/to do lists using microsoft word and text boxes.

If you prefer daily to do lists look at this:

It's from Holy She uses a clipboard instead of a three ring folder like me. I like both, but I find it easier to stay on top of my 'stuff' when I see the whole week ahead of me. But her's is much prettier than mine!! I need to make mine pretty next month :)

The third page is the dreaded monthly meal planning calendar, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Though I hate cooking and everything to do with it, it must be done :) I even doubled some really good wrap recipes, made some giant batches and froze them for lunches.

The next page is actually an ongoing list of food prices and comparing them between stores to figure out where the best place to buy certain things are. I've been meaning to do this for... well, forever!!

The next four pages are lists to record income and expenses (itemized) for my in-home daycare recording. I do it with paper and pencil because then I kind of have a rule that I record things right there in the parking lot of the store. Makes me remember! I made this with Word using text boxes, shading, and lots of periods :)

Recipes go in the back pocket! Receipts in the front pocket.

Here we go 2014! Bring it on! I hope that this little folder helps me create better focus for myself, therefore creating a more peaceful and structured home life for all of us! Including actually planning our fun instead of randomly deciding to do things, (which is fun, too, it's just usually too late to actually do anything by the time we randomly decide to do it!)

Happy New Year! Hope your resolutions go well, too!