Saturday, May 29, 2010

Homemade buns/bread

I'm going to explain how I make buns/bread in very simple terms and I challenge you to give it a try.

This will make 4 loaves of bread or 36 hamburger buns roughly.  I use a bosch mixer.  If you use a kitchen aid please cut this recipe in half.  Don't want to over work the kitchen aid.
Start by putting 4 cups of milk in the microwave and heat for 4 minutes.  Once heated, pour into your mixer bowl.  Add 1 stick of butter.  You can actually use any oil you want just as long as it equals 1/2 cup.  Now put 2-4 cups of flour. If you'd like to put oatmeal in your bread/buns put that in place of the flour.  Add 1/2 c. of sugar, honey, molasses or whatever you like to use.  Now add 4 T. of yeast.  Don't put the yeast right on the hot milk, you'll kill it.  That's why I'll add some flour or oatmeal to help cool the milk down a bit. Mix for just a minute or so and walk away.  Now is the time were you go and chat on facebook, your favorite etsy thread or maybe label some soap as I've been known to do.  Let the yeast come alive for about 30 minutes.
Start the mixer going, add 4 eggs.  Slowly add more flour.  Notice I don't say how much, it really depends on your weather.  You'll go through 12-16 cups for the whole recipe.  But add slowly.  All of a sudden you'll notice the sides of your bowl coming clean...STOP ADDING FLOUR!!!  Let everything rest for a while.  You don't want to add too much flour because you'll end up with me I know.  Walk away again, label more soap or chat some more.  Again, depending on the weather your dough might rise quick or slow.  Depending on how your dough feels and looks after walking away, you might need to add more flour.  Start the mixer back up to punch down.  Now you can shape into 4 loaves or 36 buns.  To make the buns, make sure you really squish the dough down to about 1/2 " when don't want buns to look like balls when they come out of the oven.
Please excuse the messy counter top...I've been busy today.  These buns are about 1/2 way through rising.
This is how they look after baking for 23 minutes at 350 degrees.  If you are making bread bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees. can see soap in the background that I was working on labeling while doing these buns.
Stay tuned for a special gut scrubber variation.  My kids call it that because I'll use freshly ground whole grains.  :) 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Getting ready for our first wedding

We've been scrambling around trying to get ready for a graduation party and wedding...only 12 days apart, not easy.  These pictures are sneak previews as to what's to come June 12.
Hannah and Heather in their bridesmaids dresses.  Heather is going to kill me for this picture...LOL  We needed to hem them so they put them on quick. 
My skirt and jacket I made myself.  This was before I took it in to get pressed.
These buttons I got from I Need Closure  She custom made them for me and this occasion.  I'm so proud of them.
 The wedding favors are done!!!
The front of Karlie's flower girl dress.  I made this one too.  I'm not really happy with how it turned out but the booboo's no one will see.  I covered them up.  :)
The back of the dress.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Chicken Teacher

Living on a farm comes lots of chores.  Everyone pitches in and helps where they can.  Karlie (6) and Livi (3) are in charge of gathering eggs from our chickens.  Every day they go out together and bring in the eggs.  Each day I'll ask them, "how many eggs did you find today?"  This particular question brings about the most unique answers, usually from Karlie.  One day she told me that "one more and we would have a dozen".  Karlie doesn't always use a number for her answer, it's usually a response that will make you think.  She's always right but you just have to chuckle.  On another day she answered, "one dozen plus four".

These 2 little girls also know how to tell if an egg is good.  If you put an egg in water, if they sink they are good, if they float they are bad.  They will find eggs in the garage, shed and this is a valuable skill to them.

I haven't seen it myself but they also have a system to get the eggs from the mean chicken, as they call it.  Karlie pulls at it's tail feathers and Livi quickly grabs the eggs.

Karlie and Livi take great pride in their chores. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Images on the farm

These pictures were all taken by my daughter, Angela age 14.  Our house is surrounded by over 300 square feet of flowers and she enjoys watching them bloom and capturing them with the camera. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

I was interviewed for another blog...just thought I'd share

Never A Minute of Boredom

Mom to 11 earthly kids & 2 heavenly kids (1/26/84 & 4/8/08)
and expecting our first daughter in law June 12, 2010
"While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about."
~Angela Schwindt

I have often made the mistake of thinking that I just do not have enough time. However, upon looking over the life of today's featured artist, I realize that I just do not know how to budget my time wisely, and that I fail to appreciate some of the smaller things in life. 
Marlene Grahn is a virtual super hero, as she juggles 11 children, numerous goats and various other animals, plants and grows her own garden and cans some of her food, and also makes her own wine! Oh, did I mention that she also home schools her children? On top of all of that, Marlene finds the time to run an Etsy shop Country Soaps by Marlen . In my book, this is super hero material!
Marlene has granted me an interview, and I would love for you to get to know her!
Who are you?
My name is Marlene, proud mama to 11 amazing kids…on the side I make goats milk soaps.  

What do you create, and possibly a few words to describe your art?  

I make cold process goats milk soaps.  While waiting for them to cure I enjoy making lotions, shower gels, lip balms, solid perfumes, bath bombs and teas.  What does cold process mean?  It means that I keep the temperature of the oils and lye solution below 100 degrees.  You might now wonder how it is possible using lye.  Anyone that has tried to unplug a drain knows the hiss that comes from the drain cleaner.  I can’t use drain cleaner because of the aluminum they have added due to the increase of meth labs around the country.  I use pure lye.  The goats milk has to be frozen before the lye can be added to protect the delicate proteins found in goats milk.  That’s how I keep the temperatures low.  Goats milk soap naturally moisturizes and exfoliates the skin leaving it naturally soft.  It’s great to use on young and old, body and face.                

What inspires you, or turns on that creative light inside of you?  

Sometimes I read an article or someone on my facebook fan page will suggest something or maybe just the name of the fragrance will help me determine what I will do. 

Tell us about your style?  

My soaps have a rough rustic country look to them.  Many of my relatives before me made soap and they used it just the way it was cut.  I don’t bevel my edges or polish my soaps.  They are cut, cured and boxed.

How did you get started? Is everyone in your family artistic? 

I actually got started years ago while watching my oldest daughter make melt and pour soaps.  Then she drifted away from the art and our daughters next in line got some nanny goats.  We made cheese, ice cream, yogurt and then soap…it was about the last thing on our list and it stuck. 
Our kids are artistic in the way of music.  I come from a long line of musicians so the piano comes natural to them along with the guitar.  Blooming Tulips Goats Milk Soap

What is unique about your products?  

My soaps are 100% goats milk…no added water.  Some people start off making soap using distilled water then add some goats milk right at the end.  I use all goats milk.  There are a few bars that don’t have goats milk in them and I’ll do that to experiment. 
What is your real world job?  

Like I said earlier, I’m mom to 11 great kids.  We have home schooled them for the past 13 years.  My husband and I live on a dairy farm in southern Wisconsin.       Almond Cocoa Butter Lotion

What is your educational background, as it relates to your work?  

I’ve been making soap for the past 7 years.  It’s been a lot of trial and error.  The errors end up into laundry soap.  The first few batches were horrible and then I stopped for a few months, did more reading on the internet and books.  Then I gave it a try again and I actually had some soap!!!  So, I guess you could say, I’m self taught with the help of lots of great soapers on the internet. 
What has been your biggest challenge in developing your business?  

Trying to sell scented items over the internet.  Some people have suggested a scratch and sniff screen but I don’t think that’s in our immediate future.  J  
                                                               Bubble Gum Goats Milk Soap

Where do you see your work going in the next year?  

I’ve developed a wool wash bar for washing handmade wool items. (This doesn’t have goats milk)  I want to expand that line.  I’ve been asked about doing fundraisers, so I’m looking at that possibility.  

The next 5 years? 
As the kids get older, I would like to expand into some local shops.  My dream would to actually have my own dot com business.  New Born Baby Goats Milk Shower Gel

What is your one tip for being successful at your work?  

Don’t give up…I’ve heard that it takes at least 2 years to get off the ground selling on line…I’m just celebrating 2 years.  I admit to mistakes and put them in my specials. 

What is your one marketing tip for Etsy?  

Don’t be afraid of chatting in the forums…they are your direct link to possible customers.  Use twitter…excellent tool to add for your business.  Use the fan pages on facebook and link your shop(s).  Selling on line is a lot harder work than I ever imagined but don’t be afraid or give up. 
                                                                                                       White Cherry Blossom Goats Milk Soap
What are some other sites to find out more about you and your art? 
What other interests do you have? 
I do lots of canning from our garden.  I also love to sew, crochet and knit.  Sometimes you might find these items mixed in with my soaps.  We remodeled our kitchen 5 years ago and I’m so in love with it…so you’ll usually find me working on something in there. 

Who are some of your favorite artists? 
I don’t want to personally name people because I’ve met so many great people/artists online and in real life.  I’m easily intrigued by quilters and woodworkers.  Probably because I like to dabble with that too! 

Is there anything that you would like our readers to know about you, or that you would like to brag about? 

I make soap for my family and yours.  I’ll do lots of reading on ingredients before I proceed.  If you have any special needs regarding your soap please contact me and I’ll do my best to help.  

What was you worst crafting disaster?  

When I added lye to coffee to make my coffee soap…it was like a volcano!!!  I didn’t let the coffee cool enough before adding the lye
Where would you go if you had a time machine and why? 

I would go back to the late 1800’s.  I would love to meet Laura Ingalls Wilder…actually I think her mom and I could be great friends. 

What makes you laugh?  

My kids…there is never a dull moment in our house.

Thanks Lisa for a great interview.  If you want to follow Lisa

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

I have this thing for chocolate and oatmeal.  So when I purchased a new Amish cookbook I looked for their version.  They turned out really good.
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Beat together, then add:
1 egg
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. quick oatmeal
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. nuts chopped
Mix well.  Spread into a 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes just until the center is set.  Sprinkle on top:
1 c. chocolate chips
Leave in oven 5 min. until chips are shiny.  Take out and spread smoothly over the top.  Yield: 9x13 pan

Notes: I doubled this and used a jelly roll pan.   I used pecan meal for the nuts.  If you follow this recipe, the bottom picture is what you end up with....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Moms come in different shapes and forms.  She may have given birth to you or maybe she is that special person in your life that you can turn to when you need someone. 

My mom and I have had a different kind of relationship.  Like most we've had our ups and downs.  But in the end, she is the one I call when I get excited and need to tell someone something special.  She is the one that hears my complaints and listens.  She is the one that gets on my nerves but I tolerate it because she's MOM.  We talk and laugh on the phone at least 3 times a week and when we don't hear from each other we wonder what's going on.  I hope when I grow up I have her energy and her sense of humor.