Decorating, Girly Stuff

Gorgeous and her new collar

Meet our rescue dog Gorgeous

We got her last December and she moved right into our home and hearts. She is a terrier mix and loves every human being and critter on this planet.

With such a great name she deserved a collar to match. I purchased this collar at Walmart for around $5.00, dug through my craft closet of a jar I have of misc. flowers, mostly from Hobby Lobby and some that I made from an old sheet,anyway they are all fabric so can be gently washed.

I hot glued them to the collar and sprayed with Scotch Guard brand spray to protect them a little longer from dirt. She barked and pawed at me while I made it because she was so excited.



Miss Gorgeous knows now how even more Gorgeous she is,if I could have only captured the moment on Kodak when I put the collar on her and told her how pretty she was 😊


Homemade Vanilla Extract

Pure Flavor
Pure Flavor

This is a great gift to give out for the Holidays to all your little baker friends and you still have time if you start now. It’s the ultimate Vanilla Extract and how cute it would be tucked into a basket with a treat made from this, all decorated up with your touches on it. I bought the bottles a while back online.Not sure where but they where pretty here for a good place to start shopping. I bought medium grade Vodka (Absolute) and some Vanilla Beans that I had sealed in the cupboard saving up for something? Now I know.Cut a Vanilla Bean in half then in fourths, placed two of the four cut sticks into the bottle and filled up with Vodka,store in a cool dark cabinet for a month and your ready. Take out once a week and give a good shake to blend flavors.

After I made all my bottles I found a label on-line to use, once again its been so long I’m not sure where?, so either make your own or start searching “labels for Vanilla Extract”.

Then later I found another blog with a fun twist on the bottling.

Almost wish I had seen this site first, but it might not appeal to everyone with issues on the Booze Bottle? 🙂

Enjoy and have fun putting your own twist and creations into this fun idea.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Click on this link below to take you to great instructions:

Happy Bottling.


Autumn Free Printable

Everybody love’s free printable’s, I do!

Here is one that I got from

She has a great blog with lots of cute ideas. I like her style and free printable’s. I put mine  in this black frame and tucked it into a corner. Don’t you think this would  make a cute Hostess gift, wrapped up with some Candy Corn. That’s my idea for the day, cause I would think that was special. Sometimes it’s the simple cute little things that are fun.

Autumn Sampler

Thanks Emily and Happy Autumn!


No Knead Artiasan Bread Loaf

Homemade Bread

This picture of this bread loaf is my little baby loaf. I think it turned out great and was really easy. She says somewhere in the article that it’s a “No Brainer” and its true. I just dumped the ingredients into my mixer bowl,mixed lightly to combine ingredients. Let sit for 2 hours then put into refrigerator.I have had it for two weeks with one more loaf left. Even my Mother-in-law (who is an AWESOME cook) loved it and wanted the recipe.

I found this recipe on Nice blog with great pictures and detail to recipes. I tried it, it worked and tastes great. I am excited to play with the recipe and add in spices and fresh herbs. I followed her recipe and directions exactly.

Her recipe below is very informative and easy to follow. I suggest if you are interested to go directly to her blog because not all her pictures transferred over and they are very helpful.

Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Amazing Artisan Bread for 40 Cents a Loaf – No Kneading, No Fussing, No Kidding
February 26, 2010

What if I told you that instead of buying bakery bread for four or five dollars a loaf, you could make delicious handmade bread whenever you wanted, at a fraction of the cost and it is so easy a kid could do it? Well, read on because this method of making artisan bread at home will change your life.

You can make incredible bread without having to do all the usual time consuming tasks of breadmaking :

no need to make a new batch of dough every time you want bread
no need to proof yeast
no need to make starters or prefermented dough
no kneading!
In the last few years, several methods for making easy no-knead bread doughs have crept up on the internet and gained popularity. Among the most popular have been Jim Leahy’s No-Knead Bread and Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois’ Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. These breads drastically cut down the amount of time and work that it was always assumed had to go into artisan bread making. Even the Zen Master of bread making, Peter Reinhart, has jumped onto the bandwagon, admitting that these no knead methods have made him rethink everything he knew about breadmaking:

“The results have forced me to reconsider all of the premises I once held sacrosanct”.

So what is going on here?

Boules Rising and Boules after Baking

The key is mixing up a high moisture, or “slack” dough, and letting it do a long fermentation in the refrigerator. It’s long been known that a long fermentation contributes flavor to dough but it seems it also develops gluten and eliminates the step of kneading. The advantage in using refrigeration is that you can control the fermentation and you can make up a large batch of dough, enough for four loaves, and keep it in the fridge. If you make a very wet dough, it will be able to last in the refrigerator a long time, gaining flavor as it ferments and allowing you to make bread whenever you decide. This is not to say there is not a place for multi-stage, time-consuming bread making techniques which require 15 minutes of kneading – I love making my homemade focaccia, which takes three rises every time I make a batch. But this bread is absolutely a no-brainer. You mix up a big batch of dough in one container, a process which takes only a couple of minutes (remember, there is no proofing of yeast or starters to make). When you want bread, you cut off a hunk of dough and shape it. You can make various sizes and shapes: boules, batards, rolls or baguettes. It’s just so convenient and makes such a beautiful bread with a crackly crust, you won’t believe it. I’ve even shaped the dough into rolls. Peter Reinhart points out that the home baker has an advantage over the commercial baker with this technique – the commercial bakery does not have the refrigeration space to use a method like this. As a home baker, we can make up small batches of dough, refrigerate it and enjoy fresh bread whenever we want it. If you are buying fresh bread three times a week at $4.00 per loaf, you are spending about $50 a month on bread! This bread is only about 40 cents a loaf to make. And, since bread is best the day it is made, you don’t have to drive to the grocery/bakery to get it every time you want a loaf.

To see how easy it is to get a loaf ready, you can watch me form a loaf in about 30 seconds:

This bread is very versatile, also. In both Peter Reinhart’s book and Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois’ book, they give you many variations of breads made with the master bread recipe in each book. You can make whole wheat breads, cheese breads, herb breads, breads stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, Challah, Semolina Bread and on and on. Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois have come out with another book, “Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day”, for people who would like more whole grain recipes and gluten free breads. This is a great book, too, and has lots of wonderful ideas in it. I have all three books and strongly recommend them if you want to try easy bread making. It’s nice to be able to make bread whenever the whim hits you – I have several types of doughs in my refrigerator, happily fermenting away.

In these recipes, instant yeast is used, which eliminates the need for “proofing” the yeast. Everything is simply mixed together. If you are interested in learning more about yeast, my recent “Yeast Explained” post may be of interest to you. Instant yeast is sometimes labeled “fast acting yeast” and is sold under the names of “Rapid Rise” and “Quick Rise” yeast. Also, Bread Machine yeast is simply instant yeast. I like to buy my yeast in the little jars instead of the packets because I can use only as much as I need out of the jar and it tends to be cheaper.

One way of letting the dough rest and rise is to place it on a pizza peel, dusted with some cornmeal. This works well when we make pizzas and pop them right into the oven. However, for this the bread seems to stick because you have to let it sit so long on the pizza peel and rest. So I place a small square of parchment paper on the pizza peel and put the dough right on that. When I slide it into the oven, it goes in along with the parchment paper and bakes up beautifully. If you want an extra crispy crust, just remove the parchment paper halfway through the baking time and return the bread to the pizza stone – this is what I do.

The dough can be stored in any plastic container with a lid or a bowl with plastic wrap placed over it. You want the gases to be able to escape as the dough rises, though – so wrap the plastic wrap over the bowl tightly and then puncture a little hole in the top. It is nice to have a dedicated plastic container, though, in the fridge for your dough, because you are going to just keep it in there all the time. Although these containers are recommended by the authors and the King Arthur Flour website has these nice dough rising buckets, I bought a square plastic-lidded container at my local grocery store because I thought it fit in my fridge better. You can see it in the photos below. I place the lid on tightly, but I punched a small hole in the top. This is important to do.

So get out a bowl if you don’t have a plastic container, mix up a batch of dough and have your first loaf tomorrow. You won’t believe it.

No Knead Artisan Bread

adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

for a printable recipe, click here
makes four 1 pound loaves.


3 cups lukewarm water
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated fast acting (instant) yeast (2 packets)
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
6-1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached all purpose white flour
(My favorite way to make this bread now is to use half bread flour, half all-purpose flour and throw in 3/4 cup wheat bran into the dough.)

After baking, if your bread is gummy on the inside, try either increasing the amount of flour by 1/4 cup and/or increasing the baking time by 5-10 minutes.

Also, If the dough is just too sticky for you to work with comfortably, increase the flour in your next batch.


Mixing and Storing the Dough

1. Warm the water slightly. It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100 degrees F. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours.

2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5 quart bowl or a plastic container with a lid.

3. Mix in the flour – kneading is unnecessary. (Note: I dump all this in my KitchenAid mixer, let it mix it for just about 10 seconds and then put it in the plastic container. I just find it easier to let the mixer do this part). Add all of the flour at once, measuring the flour by scooping it and leveling it off with a knife. Mix with a wooden spoon – do not knead. You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. This step is done in a matter of minutes. The dough should be wet and loose.

4. Allow to rise. Cover with a lid (not airtight). Lidded plastic buckets designed for dough storage can be purchased many places. (I used a plastic square food storage container at my local grocery store. I just make sure that the lid is not snapped on completely). You want the gases to be able to escape a little. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on top), about two hours. Longer rising times will not hurt your dough. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature. So, the first time you try this method, it’s best to refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours) before shaping a loaf.


5. Shape your loaf. Place a piece of baking parchment paper on a pizza peel (don’t have a pizza peel – use an unrimmed baking sheet or turn a rimmed baking sheet upside down). Sprinkle the surface of your dough in the container with flour. Pull up and cut off about a 1-pound piece of dough (about the size of a grapefruit), using scissors or a serrated knife. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball as you go. Dust your hands with flour if you need to. This is just to prevent sticking – you don’t want to incorporate the flour into the dough. The top of the dough should be smooth – the object here is to create a “gluten cloak” or “surface tension”. It doesn’t matter what the bottom looks like, but you need to have a smooth, tight top. This whole step should take about 30 seconds! Place the dough onto your parchment paper.

6. Let the loaf rise for about 30 – 40 minutes (it does not need to be covered). If it doesn’t look like it has risen much, don’t worry – it will in the oven. This is called “oven spring”.

7. Preheat a baking stone on the middle rack in the oven for at least 20 minutes at 450 degrees F. Place an empty rimmed metal baking pan or broiler pan on a rack below the baking stone. This pan is for holding water for steam in the baking step. (If you don’t have a baking stone, you can use a baking sheet, but you will not get the crisp crust on the bottom. You will still have a great loaf of bread. Baking stones are cheap and easy to find – Target carries them – and are a must for making pizzas, so go out and get one as soon as you can.)

8. Dust the loaf with a little flour and slash the top with a knife. This slashing is necessary to release some of the trapped gas, which can deform your bread. It also makes the top of your bread look pretty – you can slash the bread in a tic tac toe pattern, a cross, or just parallel slashes. You need a very sharp knife or a razor blade – you don’t want the blade to drag across the dough and pull it. As the bread bakes, this area opens and is known as “the bloom”. Remember to score the loaves right before baking.

9. Bake. Set a cup of water next to your oven.* Slide the bread (including the parchment paper) right onto the hot baking stone. Quickly pour the water right into the pan underneath the baking stone and close the oven door. This creates the necessary steam to make a nice crisp crust on the bread. Bake at 450 F for about 30 – 35 minutes, depending on the size of your loaf. Make sure the crust is a deep golden brown. When you remove the loaf from the oven, you will hear it crackle for a while. In baking terms, this is called “sing” and it is exactly what you want.

* update: I have recently begun skipping this step with the water. I believe it caused my oven window to eventually crack and I have found that my bread is still great even without the water. If you want an extra crispy crust, though, it is worth doing once in a while

10. Cool. Allow the bread to cool for the best flavor and texture. It’s tempting to eat it when it’s warm, and that’s fine, but the texture is better after the bread has cooled.

11. Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (with a hole punched in the top) container and use for up to 14 days. Every day your bread will improve in flavor. Cut off and shape more loaves as you need them. When your dough is gone, don’t clean the container. Go ahead and mix another batch – the remaining bits of dough will contribute flavor to the next batch, much like a sourdough starter does!

Bread is best eaten the day it is baked. Leftover baked bread is best stored at room temperature, unwrapped. Simply place the cut side of the bread on plate or counter. If your bread is gummy on the inside, try either increasing the amount of flour by 1/4 cup and/or increasing the baking time by 5-10 minutes.

Check out the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day website – Jeff and Zoe have great tips and recipes over there.

Homemade Bread


Homemade Crusty Bread

This was one of my Thanksgiving breads this year, and everyone enjoyed it. It’s crusty on the outside and dense and wonderful on the inside. Super easy to make ( or I never would have tempted it) requires only a small amount of ingredients and such a beautiful loaf of bread you would think it came from the bakery.

Here is the basic ingredients and details:

Crusty Bread

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 – 18 hours. Overnight works great. Heat oven to 450 degrees. When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating. Remove hot-pot from the oven and drop in the dough. Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.

This picture is the dough resting while the pot was heating

Bread coming out of oven

In addition to the basic white loaf I also made a Cranberry Orange Walnut Loaf that I think was my favorite. To the ingredients listed above I added 3/4 cup Crazins, zest from one Orange and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Mix as directions state above cover with plastic and let set for the 12-18 hours. I believe it’s the iron pot that makes such a wonderful crust and texture to the bread. My next loaf I am going to experiment with, Rosemary, Kalama olives and parmesan cheese doesnt that sound wonderful? oh and throw in a little lemon zest. Wow the add in’s can be endless.I found this recipe on Pinterest (go figure) and I am going to list some of the tips for making this bread from her post.

Thanks to:

Q: Do I have to use an enamel covered cast iron pan?

A: NO. You can use anything that can take the heat. The following have been used that I know of:
Clay pots with lids, Pizza stone with a bowl to cover the bread, insert from a crock pot, Pyrex baking dish with a lid, stainless steel pot with a lid, baking dish covered with aluminum foil, old cast iron dutch oven.
Q: Do I have to use unbleached flour?

A: I always use unbleached flour. You can try bleached flour.

Melina: I used unbleached flour.♥
Q: Can I use self rising flour?

A: I don’t know. I would just stick to all-purpose.
Q: What size is my pan?

A: My smallest pan is 5.5 quart. You can use as small as a 3 quart.
Q: What type of yeast do I use?

A: I use SAF instant yeast. Any yeast should work.
Q: Why is my bread turning out flat?

A: I don’t know. You could try using less 1/4 cup less liquid. Or add a bit more flour. Make sure you dough appears to be dry when you first mix it. It will have more moisture during the rising time.
Q: Can my dough sit out longer than 18 hours? Does it HAVE to be between 12-18 hours?

A: I have let some dough sit as long as 24 hours and the bread was beautiful.
Q: Have you tried Gluten-free?

A: No. I’m still waiting for someone to venture into the realm of Gluten-free. If you try it, let everyone know.
Q: Do I have to grease or oil the pan? Will my bread stick?

A: No you don’t need to grease the pan. I have never had the bread stick when using a cast iron pot. I haven’t tried anything else. The best way to be certain that the bread won’t stick is to form the loaf on a sheet of parchment paper and lift the bread into the pan using the sides of the parchment. Leave the paper in the pan. It’s won’t burn. When the bread has baked, just lift the sides of the parchment out of the pan.

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving. It is now time to shift my brain to Christmas, such a busy time of year I think the next time I bake one of these loaf’s I will do several and pass them out for gifts. I know a few people that will love these!

Ciao for now.