Monday, November 18, 2013

Bread or Rolls OR...Monkey Bread

My husband loves white bread, even though we normally eat whole wheat or whole grain bread, I make this every once in a while just to appease the taste buds. You could also use this same recipe to make dinner rolls. This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread. This last time I made bread, I decided I wanted to try something I saw on pinterest, and make monkey bread out of half of it. It turned out really good, maybe needs some icing on top, to make it complete. I served mine with just butter, hot from the oven. Here you go...

Classic White Bread
6-7 cups white unbleached flour (you could substitute whole wheat pastry flour)
3 Tbsp. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Softened butter
4 1/2 tsp. yeast
2 1/4 cup warm water ( not above 115 degrees)

In large bowl add:
3 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt, butter, yeast and mix well.
Add warm water, Beat until well blended.
Add additional flour a little at a time. I add about 1/2 a cup at a time.
Once the dough comes off from the sides of your bowl, dump it onto a floured surface for kneading. Knead in more flour if dough is sticky. The dough should be soft and pliable, but not sticky.
Knead for 10 minutes or until dough is springy and smooth.
Grease large bowl with butter.
Place dough in greased bowl and flip the dough 1 x to coat it with butter.
Cover with plastic wrap.
Let dough rise for about an hour. The best way to do this is to turn the light on inside of your oven and place the bowl inside. It will rise quickly this way. The dough is ready to shape into loaves (or rolls) when it has doubled in size and you can poke your finger in the center and the indent stays. Grease 2 loaf pans with butter.
Punch down dough to deflate.
To shape loaves, divide dough right in half.
Take one half of the dough and place it onto a unfloured surface. Try to press it down to make a rectangle. About 10 x 5 inches. now you are ready to roll. Literally.
See below for rolls and monkey bread.
Start on the long end of your rectangle and roll dough slowly to form loaf. As you slowly roll dough up, press down with your fingers all along the length of the rectangle. What this does is seals it up and makes a nice tight loaf without a lot of air bubble holes. once you have rolled it all the way do a finishing seam by pinching it together lengthwise. On each end of you roll, karate chop the ends down to form somewhat of a seal.
Then fold dough, taking the right side in and then the left side in.
Now you are ready to place that directly into your loaf pan.
Butter tops of bread loaves with softened butter ( I do this with my hands) and cover with plastic wrap.
Again return your loaves to the oven with just the light on to let them rise.
Once they have doubled in size, remove them from the oven and preheat you oven for baking to 425 degrees.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. The loaves are done when you knock on them and they are hard on the outside and a rich golden brown.
Once you remove them from the oven allow them to cool for a few minutes before removing them from the pans and brushing them with butter.
Let them continue to cool before slicing.

For Rolls:
Follow directions above until you get to loaf shaping.
Take your 10 x 5 rectangle and divide dough in half, then in half again. Repeating until you have the size you want (remember that they will double in size as they rise).
Roll dough into balls.
Grease 2 square baking dishes with butter.
Place dough into baking dishes and rub softened butter on top of them.
Cover with plastic wrap.
Return dough to oven and turn on oven light again for rising.
Once your rolls have doubled in size, remove them from the oven and preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until they are a nice golden brown.
Brush butter over hot rolls.
Serve warm with plenty of butter!
You can make these ahead of time and freeze them. Just take them out the night before you plan to eat them.

For Monkey Bread:
Follow the same directions for the bread until you get to loaf shaping.
Take you 10 x 9 inch rectangle and spread a thick layer of butter, sugar, and cinnamon. I mean cake it on!
Then divide your rectangle into 3rds.
Stack the sectioned pieces on top of each other.
Then divide into 3rds again, then cut those sections in half.
Stack dough inside of greased loaf pan(s).
Cover with plastic wrap.
Return to the oven for rising with only the oven light on.
When the bread has doubled, remove your monkey bread from the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Then cover the top loosely with foil and bake an additional 5 minutes.
Once it is a nice golden color pour on your favorite homemade icing. Or you could just put butter on top, like I did. So very delicious...your family with scarf it down!

My monkey bread is missing a part of it. I couldn't help but snag a piece before I remembered to take a picture, haha!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Finally a natural deodorant that works!

I have been using natural deodorants for over 2 years. Before I started using "natural" deodorants I used Dove for many years. I hated that my under arms were dark and discolored and I was always really self conscience of it. I also had irritation every time I would shave. It was just not a good situation. I decided it was time for change. SO why not try out natural deodorants. I started out using Tom's Apricot deodorant. I really liked the scent and it seemed to work, OK. I would have to reapply at least 1x per day. I noticed right away that the dark spots under my arms were fading. Eventually my skin was completely restored after using Tom's for about 3 months. That proves to me how bad regular deodorant is for you. I was still not completely satisfied with Tom's deodorant. So I went on a mission to find one that worked for me. I tried out using just baking soda, but that only lasted for an hour or two until I actually started sweating. I also tried a salt crystal type deodorant. It was only a little better than the straight baking soda. Reluctantly, I went back to Tom's. Every couple of months I would get terrible skin irritation under my arms from it. I would then try out some other natural deodorant until I developed the same problem. I had thought about not using any deodorant at all. But it only took a couple of days to figure out THAT wasn't going to work. So I started searching online for recipes to make my own. At first the thought of making my own brought me back to the time I tried using straight baking soda...! But I decided to try it out anyway. And, I am so very glad I did. I absolutely LOVE my homemade deodorant. I like it so much that I told a random stranger at Whole Foods, that was staring at the deodorants, about it! Ha ha! I have been using it for the past few months. I only have to put it on 1x a day. I thought I would share my recipe with you. There is only 3 ingredients...

Equal parts of:

baking soda

&

corn starch

then stir in

extra virgin coconut oil

a little at a time until you have a thick paste

And there you have it! So simple, with ingredients that you probably already have. You can also add you own essential oils, if desired. I store mine in a Pyrex container. But any container with a lid will be fine. I use about a 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup corn starch and a couple spoons full of coconut oil and it lasts me several weeks. I apply it with my fingers, but you could probably put it right back into you old deodorant container to make it even easier. It is so cheap and easy to make, why not try it out?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This and That

Well, as always things have been busy around here. I thought I would catch you up on the latest...

Last Thursday was quite an ordeal. Glory and Silas were playing sword fighting with a plastic rake and a broom when the rake struck her above her right eye. She ran in from outside screaming, I was in the living room feeding the baby. Once she came around the corner I saw blood and jumped to my feet! She was bleeding profusely (as head wounds do) so I pressed on it with my hand until we could make it to the bathroom. Once I was able to see the damage, it wasn't good...her skull was visible through the small hole in her head. Yikes! I yelled for Guinevere to bring me the phone so that I could call her dad. Thankfully, Donnie was already on his way home. I think I should also mention, that when this all happened Glory was pleading for her daddy the whole time. "I want my daddy, I want my daddy," she repeated. Poor thing! By the time we got to the urgent care, Glory was calm. They wrapped her up like a burrito and then asked me to hold her down. Good thing I don't have trouble looking at open wounds. The worst part was when they gave her the local anesthetic. She screamed through the whole process and ended up with just 3 stitches out of the deal. Afterward I took her to get ice cream. Yep, ice cream makes everything better! ;)


This past Sunday Mary officially took her first steps. I was the only one to witness it since it was during church on Sunday night. We were in the back, since Mary makes a racket during the sermon, that is my post for almost the whole time. I think because there was carpet beneath her (we have all tile flooring, except in the bedrooms) she was more comfortable taking steps. I was overjoyed! She is also well on her way to being miss independent, i.e. she isn't nursing as frequently now. Some of that is me pushing her to be a big girl. I love how snuggly she is and her adorable smile just melts my heart. I am sure to remind myself how few days are left that I will be able to hold her like that. She also becoming more of a daddy's girl.


As you might already know we have a puppy now. His name is Joey. I call him NO JOE! Ha ha ha! He is a typical energetic puppy and the perfect addition to our family. The kids have been asking for a dog for a long time.


A couple days ago, I made the kids some cloud dough. They had a blast with it. It was tremendously messy! I kept it for a couple days before throwing it out. After the last mess they made, I couldn't help it.  Here is the recipe :

Cloud Dough
8 cups flour
1 cup oil

Mix together with your hands until the flour and oil are fully incorporated with one another.

**I also used cocoa powder and cinnamon to give it some color and scent








Sometimes you have to let them make a mess just to brighten their day! Look at those happy faces! Worth a whole lotta mess to me!!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Make Your Own Salt Scrub

It is starting to be that DRY, cracked skin, time of year again. So I have been making my own salt scrub. I use it on my face mostly. But it is good for your whole body. It is really very simple and costs very little to make and keep on hand.
 
2 Tablespoon avocado or coconut oil 
2 teaspoon sea salt
 

Mix the two ingredients together and store in appropriate container. Then, when you are ready to use it, just apply a small amount and gently rub the desired area. Then rinse off with warm water and pat dry. If my face feels oily I just rub in the extra oil. It wont hurt you to use this scrub everyday as long as you don't rub too vigorously. Your face and body will be glowing and be looking fabulous all winter long.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Over 1 Year Late...Mary's Birth Story

I have been thinking about telling Mary's birth story. I wanted so much to tell it to you. I know it has been over a year now since her birth. Lately I have been thinking about it. Some of the details may be a little off but her tale of how she entered into the world is too good not to share. So here it goes...
 

It was Tuesday morning and I was working on some mending that I had been putting off for too long. It was then, while I was sitting at my sewing machine, that I realized that I was starting to have those attention grabbing type contractions. In my head I thought, oh this is just too good to be true. Only 2 days until my due date. I wasn't in a hurry to have her, but the thought of her birth was welcomed because of the contractions that I had been having for over a month. Around that same time I got a text message from my friend, asking how I was feeling. I felt optimistic and told her that I thought I was in early labor and asked if she would pray for me. I continued on with normal activities the rest of the morning and afternoon. My contraction had not stopped by the time my husband got home from work. So we decided to load up all the kiddos and go to the store so I could get some good walking in, all while in a refreshingly air-conditioned grocery store! It was September her in Phoenix. So the temps were sky high and I didn't dare try laboring in that sort of heat. During my long shopping trip with the whole family my back started to hurt very badly and we had to beat feet out of there so that I could sit down. We were able to pick up a few things for when I was in labor while we were there. SO now I felt ready. I guess that is the word....ready. Ready to labor all night while everyone slept. Ready to hopefully have this baby in the morning. This whole time my contractions were still coming, nothing regular, about 10 to 15 minutes apart. The pain was still manageable so I decided to try to rest while I could. I can distinctly remember laboring thru the night with my other children. It is a time when I can really focus on what needs to happen and let my body relax. Before I laid down I texted the midwife to let her know I was in early labor and that I would probably see her in the morning. Things progressed, or so I thought, as expected through the night. I laid awake in bed anticipating each contraction and silently dealing with the pain. About 1 am I decided that I had to get out of bed and in the bathtub. It seemed a little odd that the contractions had not started to have some sort of pattern. By 5 am nothing had changed. I was still in pain and the contractions were irregular. I figured the baby was turned wrong. I got a text from my dad around that time. He was probably up getting ready for work. He was surprised to hear that I wasn't closer than when I let them know I was in labor the day before. He asked me if Donnie was going to work. At that point I had no idea if he was going to work or not. Or if I was even in real labor or not or if I WOULD EVER HAVE THIS BABY!! So at 6 am I got up and dressed and decided I would go for a walk by myself around the neighborhood to see if I could get my contractions going in some sort of pattern. As crazy as it sounds, my husband was up, getting ready for work. I do not blame him. I had been having Braxton hicks contractions for weeks now. Since he had slept through the night and had no idea I was up laboring. He probably thought it was another false alarm and I was starting to think the same thing myself. By the time I returned home from my laborious walk around the neighborhood my husband was standing outside waiting for me. Apparently when my dad got the text that Donnie was or was not going to work, it started an uproar. I guess, my mom, who was over 600 miles away, thought it was NOT a good idea. Given the fact that I have babies so quickly and I had been in "labor" since the day before. So she called my husband and my husband was rapidly making plans to stay home with me that day! Even though I had no real idea when I would deliver, I was relieved that at least while I was in pain, I would have my husband there with me. I was very discouraged and exhausted at this point. Having not slept all night and still nothing time able, nothing regular. A little later in the morning we all decided on another walk. When I am in labor I prefer to walk. Walk ,walk, walk. It helps me not only to relax, but also to feel like I am actually doing something to help the labor along. Once we got home I tried to just rest a bit and focus on other things, at least try to be distracted from the pain. At around noon I told my husband that the pain was getting worse and that I thought it would be best to have the midwife come. I also phoned my friend that was going to be helping out with the kids. I felt a little more hopeful and even excited. Knowing that I would soon deliver our baby girl. Once the midwife got there she checked me to see what progress I had made. I was dilated to a WHOPPING 5 cm. I couldn't believe it. Here I was, in labor for a whole 24 hours and still only half way there. After the check my midwife felt the baby and told me that she was most definitely posterior and that was why my labor was so wacky. She showed me a few different things that she wanted me to do to get the baby to turn into the right position. So for the next couple of hours my midwife stayed and waited with me, while I worked on trying to turn this stubborn baby. By 2:30 pm I had made little to no progress. My midwife had other appointments to keep that day. So she told me that she would come back that evening when she thought things would settle down enough to have a baby. The pain was still manageable and the contractions were still coming. I was feeling really determined, determined to get our sweet girl to turn around. It was not a surprise to me that she was turned wrong. Every other labor of mine had been the same way. I knew that once she turned that I would deliver quickly. So I chatted with my friend between each contraction. Donnie went on some sort of errand during this time. I don't know where he was, but I wasn't worried that he would miss anything. HAHA. Around 3 or 3:30 once Donnie returned home, I told my friend that she could go ahead and go home. Knowing that it was a church night and that she still had to feed her family before the service. She reluctantly took leave. I was really hurting as each contraction came, so much so that I felt like jumping out of my own skin. All the woman who have delivered naturally can probably relate to that feeling. My husband got me something to hold onto (instead of his hand) through each contraction. I tried laying down at this point...no good. So I thought I need ANYTHING to have relief even a little relief from the pain. So I got in the shower. It was while I was in the shower that I knew things had changed. I was not sure if the baby had turned but I knew that things had changed because now I was screaming out in pain. Whereas before I could take each contraction without much verbalization, now I was screaming. I couldn't contain myself. I was literally screaming at the top of my lungs. My husband was outside, the kids ran after him and told him that I was screaming and that I needed him, NOW! Once he barged into the bathroom I told him that I was feeling pressure and that he needed to call the midwife right away. Once the midwife was on the phone she could hear my screaming and told Donnie that she would be here as soon as she could. Right after he hung up the phone I told him that the baby was coming and that I could not wait for the midwife. The baby was coming and I DID NOT WANT TO HAVE HER IN THE SHOWER. So he grabbed me 2 towels and draped them over me as I climbed out of the shower. Once I was in my bedroom I looked at Donnie and said, "I am going to have the baby, NOW!" He asked "what do you want me to do?" I told him to grab something to put on the floor. He quickly grabbed some chuck pads that were on the dresser and threw them on the floor. I bent over the bed and screamed at him that I was pushing. And in 1 long hard contraction and push Mary was born. Dad had caught her and was smiling with joy. Right after delivery I literally forgot about all of the pain and my eyes were fixed on our baby. Our beautiful baby. We immediately wrapped her in a towel. Now that our senses were coming back to us a bit, I sat on the side of the bed holding her. I was massaging her chest to get her to take some good breaths. She had been born with the cord wrapped around her neck, so she was a bit blue. Soon she was crying well and the children were excited to meet their baby sister. It was a very sweet time as the kids all said their hello's to Mary. Just about 10 minutes after she was born the midwife arrived. I was relieved to see her. Now I could stop thinking about the details and focus on my sweet baby. This was our first home birth. And yes, it was planned that way. SO at 4:45 pm on Wednesday our baby Mary Allison Romero was born at home. She was 7 pounds 6 ounces and 21 inches long. Ahhh, it was a crazy time. It would take the next several weeks to soak everything in, all of what just happened. I was grateful that I had had a homebirth because I could rest in my own bed and snuggle with the baby, my husband and all of my kids at the same time. A couple days after she was born we learned how her name, meaning "bittersweet" would come into play. Those first weeks with Mary were definitely bittersweet as we found out she was born with what is known as Hirschsprung's Disease. But that is another story in itself. . God is so good to have given us our little Mary.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sourdough Adventures

A couple of days ago I finally successfully made a loaf of whole wheat sourdough french bread from my homemade starter. I have been wanting to add more fermented foods to our families diet. A few weeks ago I watched a you tube video explaining how a friend of mine makes sourdough bread at home (which is a fermented food).


My husband said that he wanted me to start making it too. SO I set out on an adventure to create sourdough bread. I read a lot about making a sourdough starter and watched several you tube videos too. Here are couple of the videos that inspired me.

how to make your own starter
 
how to make sourdough bread (very cool)

Once I watched the last video I though "I can do this, it is so simple. Just flour and water!" So I whipped up some flour and water, covered it with a muslin type cloth and set it outside. I "fed" the starter every 12 hours. This was my first starter...it was fermenting and growing yeast but I was not able to make a successful loaf of bread from it. I ended up scorching it in my oven. I had forgot that I was storing my starter in the oven and turned it on to bake something else...oops. Oh well. I started another one just last week. Same process, just flour and water. It took about a week to really start bubbling and smelling fermented.

video
I tried a couple of times to make bread with it but without success. What was the problem? My yeast was obviously growing but my dough would only rise 1x. Since I was using whole wheat flour I decided that I should probably add some vital wheat gluten. SO on my 3rd attempt at making bread I finally succeeded.
 
We ate it with dinner that night...so good!
 
Here is a link to the recipe I used . I adapted it to use whole wheat flour. Today I am trying to make whole wheat french bread again but this time without the vital wheat gluten. I really hope it turns out. I have also been making sourdough pancakes which are really good and I hope to be able to make some yummy sourdough cinnamon rolls too. You can make anything with a sourdough starter, so why not try to make your own?
 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mary's 1st Birthday!

Last weekend we celebrated Guinevere turning 7 at a friend's house. I baked a smash cake for Mary to have at Guinevere's party just so that everyone could see it. I love 1st birthdays, and I love baking smash cakes. I have made a smash cake for every one of my kids on their first birthday. I just wouldn't have it any other way! Chocolate cake, chocolate frosting...that makes for some good pictures! Here are some photos from the smashing and also from the little birthday celebration we had on her actual birthday a couple days ago.

 

Smash Cake

 1 candle that Silas ended up blowing out
 
  just starting out
 
still working on it
Almost DONE! 
 

Birthday

Guinevere made Mary's birthday cake
she did a great job with the frosting
 
 happiness 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Guinevere turns 7

 
Where has the time gone? I remember squeezing her precious baby cheeks. Well she is hardly a baby anymore, Guinevere turned 7 yesterday! She has become a huge help to me this past year. It is amazing to watch her grow and mature becoming a young lady. She is very clever and sweet. I am so blessed to be her mama. Just last week she was the flower girl in our friend's wedding. She was so happy to be apart of such a special occasion. It made me think of the day that she will be getting married, it will be here before I know it. But for now I will cherish the time I have with her. She wanted me to make her a Hawaiian pizza and a pumpkin pie for her special birthday dinner. Yummy!

 First thing in the morning we all helped blow up balloons :)
 Mary loves balloons
 
Guinevere was chewing a giant mouth full of bubble gum first thing in the morning.
 the birthday princess is ready to open her present
 homemade Hawaiian style pizza
pumpkin pie...silly girl
 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Adjusting


Every time we add a new little one to our family it seems as though there is quite a bit of adjusting that takes place. A baby all on it's own goes through many changes in the first year of it's life. Well the same is true for a family that adds a new baby to the brood. I always think I am getting things figured out and then, out of nowhere, things need adjusting. My schedule gets messed up. Things are not getting done and homeschool needs tweaking. Just like a gear needs oil every now and again to run smoothly, so does our family. SO where does this "oil" come from?

I am often searching out new ideas to fix the things in our family that aren't preforming in the way they should. My husband may be doing the same thing. The obvious start to fixing any sort of squeaky gear is to start praying for wisdom and guidance. Now if you are going to pray for wisdom, be prepared to go looking for it. I don't believe that the answers you are searching for will fall out of the sky. You must seek out a solution. Read you Bible and make applications. But what about details?

Let me give you an example of what I am talking about.

I noticed that I had very little time to do what needed to be done throughout the day. What is the problem? I couldn't get the laundry done without sacrificing in some other area. I could not get the laundry done if I am standing at a sink full of dishes for hours a day.

You see what I am saying?

Now for the solution. At first I started praying. I would ask Him to guide my steps and help me to get the things done that needed done. Also that He would give me wisdom in every area that I am lacking. Then it seems as though my problem started turning into a solution. I told my husband about my problem. He was then able to start helping me think of ways to solve it. He told me that he thought it would be a good idea to look into getting a dishwasher. Since washing dishes would take up hours of my time that could be spent doing other things, it just seemed logical to get a dishwasher. Now the only problem was that we could not afford a dishwasher. So at that time it was just a hope of ours. Still every day I would pray that God would help me and give me wisdom and guidance. Not long after that, I found a portable dishwasher on Freecycle. I immediately requested the item.  Before we heard back a response, my husband and I prayed that if the dishwasher was going to be a good functioning appliance, that we would be the ones that were chosen to receive that gift. Later that night I received an email telling me that someone else had been chosen, but if for some reason that person did not show up to get it, that I would be contacted.  But, the very next night, I got an email from the man that was offering the dishwasher, that said the person who was suppose to pick it up never came and that I could have it. I was overjoyed! God had answered our prayer! Turns out the dishwasher was bought brand new and only used a few times. It was in "like new" condition!!!

The reason I wanted to share that story with you is to hopefully be an encouragement to you. Sometimes life is just thrown at you. What are you going to do about it? Well, you could do what I did and start by seeking God's help.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Birthday Girl

Glory had her 5th birthday last Friday. It has been a busy couple of weeks for me, so I have been unable to do a post until now. We had a huge combined birthday party for Silas and Glory on Saturday. It was so much fun. We cooked up hot dogs and ate cupcakes. The kids were so spoiled with toys! The following Monday the kids broke out all of the water toys and helped me blow them up. They have been occupied all week. Here are a some photos from Glory's birthday and the big birthday bash.
licking the beaters from the homemade Nutella buttercream frosting
 Glory sharing her birthday crown with Mary
 soooo! happy to get her present
 

Birthday Bash 

bump n jump fun 
yummy cupcakes
opening gifts
friends
Mary crashed out with her new friend Hilary
sweet girl

silly boy
Silas now has a whole arsenal of guns
 

Playing


Glory made a necklace from her bead set