new bread...

high on my to-do list as of late was to get back into making bread. it's quite expensive at the farmer's markets--usually running around $5/loaf. organic varieties in-store are often pretty limited, even at whole foods market. plus, freshly-baked bread is such a comfort. must be the warm carbs.

i put myself on the library waiting list for the highly recommended "artisan bread in five minutes a day" and "healthy bread in five minutes a day." seems i am not the only one around here with the idea--i'm 10th in line for one and 14th in line for the other. or something like that. so i set about googling a new recipe and came across one that seemed worth a shot. and it turned out really well! here it is (originally posted on chowhound.com):

Honey Oatmeal Bread

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup unsalted butter
5 1/2-6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoons salt
2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2 eggs
For top of crust:
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water


1. Place water, honey, and margarine in small saucepan. Heat over low heat until mixture is very warm (120-130°F).
2. Place 5 cups flour, oats, salt and yeast in mixer bowl. Mix with dough hook on speed 2 (low) about 15 seconds.
3. Continue mixing, gradually adding warm water mixture and mix for 1 minute. Add eggs and mix 1 minute longer.
4. Still on speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix about 2 minutes, or until dough clings to hook and cleans side of bowl. Knead on speed 2 about 2 minutes longer.
5. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover with damp towel or plastic wrap.
6. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour, or until doubled.
7. Punch dough down and divide in half. Roll each half with rolling pan on floured board into a rectangle and roll up from the short end like a jelly roll. Tuck in the ends.
8. Place each loaf seam side down into greased loaf pans. Beat egg white and water together with a fork. Brush top of loaves with mixture, and sprinkle with oatmeal. Let rise 20-30 minutes.
9. Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes.
Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

we used extra oats--lucy was having so much fun adding them by spoonfuls into the mixer that i just couldn't say no. the bread was sweet and not too dense, as homemade bread can often be, at least in my experience. i'm going to try this one again--as is, and maybe again with some raisins added, and cinnamon sugar sprinkled on before rolling it up. yum!


as february draws to a close...

we've been chasing the chickens...

taking naps in the sun...

dressing hudson in his very first sun hat...

and hanging newly thrifted sheets out to dry on the line.

even the chickens have been tricked into thinking spring has sprung.

rain is in the forecast for the coming days--we're not out of winter's woods just yet. but we're certainly having lots of fun pretending.

one of my favorite smells ever is bed linens dried on the line. i mean, as a mother nothing can ever smell better than my babies, but sun-dried cotton is high on my list. i got a pleasant surprise today--the blue-flowered duvet cover pictured above (had for only $3, by the way) turned out to be queen-sized, not twin as it was marked. it was taped into a bundle that i didn't bother opening. just figured i'd stash it away to keep as an extra for lucy, once she gets into a twin-sized bed.

well. it's a queen and i happened to have a lonesome, queen-sized down comforter that needed a nice duvet. the two are now spread atop my bed, waiting for hudson and i to come in and snuggle up into all of that sunshine-y perfume.

after all, we still need an extra blanket on the bed. days may be warm, but nights are chilly!


time to sew...

long gone are the days when i was able to spend hours sewing out in my studio while lucy took her afternoon nap. finding time to sew lately hasn't been easy, but sometimes hudson will doze for an hour or so while lucy also happens to be sleeping. imagine that--two babies sleeping at once. oooh, i'd better not jinx myself.

anyhow, with a bit of time here and there i've made some cute little things. hudon's got a new wool cover made from an old, thrifted sweater. it accommodates even the bulkiest of fitted diapers, which is nice. now if i could just find a bunch of long-sleeved shirts without crotch snaps. because really, the onesie-snapped-over-the-soaker-paired-with-babylegs is kind of a strange look. i'm dying to attempt this. we shall see.

we've got a vacation coming up at the end of this week, and if all goes well, upon our return, four little fluff bugs will be stocking our etsy store. woolies, wipes, mom pads, lovies, pants. a random smattering of upcycled things that molly & i are able to bust out during the rare moment when our kids are actually sleeping. there may even be some diapers, too, for those of you that have been inquiring.

wish us luck getting all the kinks worked out!


now that you're all following the hot lunch lady...

i'll tell you a little story.

you know how some things just seem to fall into your lap? i was out driving yesterday, radio off, kids asleep in the back (car drives are priceless for that), and i was thinking about the hot lunch lady and her plight, as i had just watched the speech by jaime oliver that she had linked to on her blog. i was at a red light and happened to turn my head a bit, and a van caught the corner of my eye. the writing on the van grabbed my attention immediately, as it read:

children's choice: local. sustainable. hot lunch.

got home and headed straight for google. learned about a program in my area that provides parents with an option for feeding their kids at school. instead of relying on government-funded garbage, and in lieu of packing a bagged lunch, parents can pay this independent company what amounts to roughly $1 more per day and provide kids with nutritionally balanced (and often organic) meals.

to be straight, atherton and danville are extremely high-income areas in the san francisco bay area. families living here, even without the children's choice program, are generally more than able to provide their kids with nutritious food on their own. a program like this does little to help the kids who are on free breakfast and lunch provided by tax dollars--children who have parents who can't easily give them access to good food. i don't live in a wealthy are such as danville, but i don't live in a super-low-income area either. we're floating around in the lower middle of things. and the van was in my neighborhood, which tells me we're not outside the market based solely on where we live.

a couple things worth noting:

~ if the cost of gourmet hot lunches in compostable packaging costs parents roughly $1/day than regular hot lunch, one would think significant changes to standard hot lunches could be attained without breaking the bank. unless of course food companies, big business and government-funded lunch programs are all twisted up in each other. you know, hidden agendas and all the rest. that would never happen, would it?

~ i love that this program is exposing kids to good food. whether it's the rich kids or the poor kids getting exposed is a whole different story all together. but putting that fairness issue aside, i think that kids (and people in general) are more likely to eat foods that they're familiar with. you can't blame kids for not liking fruit when they've only been exposed to apples and oranges for their entire lives.

side note: i had brussel sprouts for the first time ever tonight. no kidding. being a generally healthy eater, i don't know why i've never had them--just never made it into the repertoire, i guess. but we had them tonight and i found them quite good--sauteed with olive oil, cabbage and garlic. lucy wasn't much of a fan, but than again, lucy didn't want anything except bread for dinner tonight. she's usually pretty open to trying green stuff--so we'll be sure to cook them again soon!


have you seen this yet?

average, everyday schoolteacher decides to eat what the kids eat.

she's eating the cafeteria food--every day, for the remainder of the school year. and she's taking photos, too. in light of all the food posts i've been making lately, i think this blog is a good find. pass it on.

a prefold & pins...

any modern cloth diapering mama will be quick to tell you how far reusable diapers have come throughout the years. stay-dry inners, diapers that grow along with baby, fabrics such as PUL that have replaced the need for plastic pants. and, since the birth of the snappi fastener, the need for pins is now non-existent.

unless, of course, a mama such as myself heads out of the house for the day with a stack of prefolds, a pull-on wool cover, and a snappi left behind, stuck to the living room couch. cloth diapering rule #236: if you're going to be careless with your snappi, you'd better be hanging out with a friend who keeps pins on hand. thanks for the loan, molly.

i do think this is a very good look though, don't you? there's something so... sweetly vintage about a prefold and pins. it's charming. it's authentic. and once i got past my phobia about poking my wee little baby, i really started appreciating this simple diapering method. so much so that i might just pick up a few pins of my own.

yeah, he digs it. you know what they say in the world of fashion--everything comes back around.


the juice king...

this (not so) little juicer is amazing. i love it for its straightforward functionality--no cords, no batteries, no attachments that slice & dice & puree. it simply is what it is--an easy-to-use contraption for making juice. it looks good on our shelf too. thank goodness, since we don't have any extra cabinet space to house it.

lucy, hudson and i went on a citrus run today, stocking up on california-grown blood oranges, grapefruits and clementines. mornings will certainly be sweet around here for some time to come!


a catching up post...

lots going on around here and there's been some blog-neglect going on. let's get up to speed, shall we?

valentine's day happened. lucy wore her thrifted heart jammies. the only thing on my wishlist was for hudson to laugh out loud--and of course, being the true mama's boy that he is, he did it yesterday. there's nothing like hearing a baby laugh for the first time--it brought tears to this mama's eyes, let me tell you.

we very much enjoyed a breakfast of eggs-in-toast. jeremy cut out little hearts--what a sweetie. want to see the very best recipe tutorial for eggs-in-toast? look no further than pioneer woman, of course. click here.

instead of store-bought valentines, lucy gave out clippies to her girl classmates. boys got reusable snack packs, of which i almost stuffed with organic fruit rolls, but decided against this at the last minute. didn't want to go overboard, and if you read my last post, you'll know that there was plenty of sugar anyway.

my brother and i ALWAYS handmade our valentine cards for school. i have super-clear memories of sponges cut in the shape of hearts, glitter and lots of construction paper. thanks, mom. can't wait to relive these moments with lucy & hudson.

living in california means that we can get locally-grown strawberries for much of the year. these are from southern california, and they are so-so. not nearly as good as peak-of-season berries, but hey, you take what you can get. we're planning on a massive strawberry patch in our yard this spring & summer.

we made gnocchi from scratch. they turned out pretty heavy. not sure what we did wrong, but we are headed to jeremy's very italian grandmother's home tonight for a tutorial. i'll be sure to post again when we get it right.

i also made frozen hash brown patties. one of lucy's favorite breakfast foods--but when i checked the nutritional list on the trader joes brand, i was shocked at the number of ingredients. our homemade patties contain organic potatoes, organic olive oil and a bit of sea salt. they're not quite the same as the store-bought, but i feel better about giving them to her on occasion.

the chickens really loved the potato skins--who knew?

we made biscuits. these DID turn out and oh my, they were good. i think the trader joe's brand i had been buying has soy in it--and we are trying to stay away from non-organic soy. SO. when the recipe came with our farm box this past friday, we had to try it. you should too!

green onion drop biscuits: (makes 16)

2 cups all-purpose flour (organic at whole foods)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 tblsp shortening or butter (we used butter) (organic at trader joes, costco, whole foods)
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions (these came in our farm box)
1 cup low-fat buttermilk (hormone-free at trader joes)

preheat oven to 400. combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, cut in butter w/ pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. stir in onions. add buttermilk, stirring just until mixture is moist.

drop by heaping tablespoon onto prepared baking sheet. bake at 400 for 12-15 min or until lightly browned.

we made 1 batch of these in the morning, and then made a double batch to keep on hand in the freezer. now we'll have ready-made biscuits on hand for soups & stews!

one of these things isn't like the other...

our auracana hen (named peach) is now laying pretty green eggs that martha stewart would be jealous of. we're pretty sure we'll be adding 3 more hens come springtime--upping our laying flock to 6, the biggest we've ever had. we've also found a source for organic feed locally. very exciting.

hot dogs made from grass-fed beef exist. and they are quite good, as far as hot dogs are concerned. no gristly mystery chunks--regular hot dogs truly skeeve me out. i found these at whole foods, along with organic buns and organic ketchup. we sure don't eat hot dogs on a regular basis, but they're good in pinch. lucy gave them 2 thumbs up.

with temps reaching nearly 70 and the daffodils popping up around the yard, it really feels like spring. there are some days when we don't run the heater at all--if that's not eco-exciting, i don't know what is.

okay, i think i've covered all of the bases... now i'm off to enjoy the weather, instead of just blogging about it!


preschool potluck...

lucy's preschool playgroup had a little valentine's day party today. otherwise known as a sugar fest, in which icing-stacked cupcakes, frosted cookies and bowls of candy--yes, bowls of candy-- were set out in a kiddie-free-for-all. to be fair, there were also orange slices and non-organic, imported grapes (a notorious member of the dirty dozen). we brought croissants which we stuffed with cheese before baking. i'm not pretending that croissants are a healthy food--but our contribution to the party had a short list of recognizable ingredients. i'm afraid i can't say the same for the neon frosting.

after recently watching food, inc., king corn and killer at large: why obesity is america's biggest threat, we've made some serious changes to our eating habits. well, as it turns out, knowledge isn't just power. knowledge is the concrete foundation upon which i'm standing--a bona fide food snob.

thankfully, after eating two breakfasts only a couple hours earlier, little lucy wasn't interested any of the food presented. rather, she took the chance to play with ALL of the baby dolls while the rest of the toddler set snacked. my proposed plan of attack, had she been hungry, was to fill her up on a croissant and orange slices, then steer her toward the single batch of homemade cookies, in hopes that the additives/chemical/trans fat content was on the lesser end of the scale.

how long will i reasonably be able to control my daughter's food intake outside of our home? how long until she wants all of the commercialized crap--even though she's not being exposed to the actual commercials? how long until it becomes a real battle?

earlier in the week, an art project at the aforementioned school was stringing froot loops on a pipe cleaner to make edible bracelets. of course, with a group aged 18-36 months, there's a lot more nibbling than stringing going on. but, being the semi-reasonable person that i am, i concluded that the benefit of lucy sitting at a table with a group of children, while (kinda-sorta) working on fine motor skills outweighed the negative end of her consuming the actual froot loops. especially since sugar-cereal-bracelet-making is a one-time activity during the preschool session. this is not to say that i didn't sit there making mental notes of what to look for when the search for a real preschool begins.

so i let little lucy munch away on froot loops--artificial flavors, artificial colors, gmo's. all of it. because i don't want to be that mom. you know--the food snob.

as it turns out, she isn't ruined after all. lucy requested her broccoli as we pulled away from the curb today--leaving that sugar-haven in our dust. and i was so thrilled, i pulled back to the curb and got it for her.


sweet little things...

we found ourselves toting home these little treasures from a weekend antique fair. the crib quilt was far and away the best buy--$10 and in perfect condition. the little painting was at first destined for lucy's room, but it's so sweet & cheery i think it just might find a home in our kitchen. and i was delighted to come across a vintage copy of wynken, blynken and nod--one of my favorite children's poems which lucy now knows most of by heart. there are several other eugene field poems in this small collection--each more charming than the last.

we made it out of the fair with money still in our pockets--always a good thing!

hudson is 3 months old!!!

um, can someone tell me where the last quarter of a year went? too fast, my friends, too fast. have a peek at this big boy...

new talents include:

~ outgrowing the stack of vintage clothing i just bought
~ echoing mama's coos. we're having conversations already--this guy is gonna be a talker.
~ getting his hands into his mouth
~ making the most of lucy's naptime--time for one-on-one play, mommy!

laughter seems to be right around the corner. i can't wait.