Friday, June 29, 2012

Extra Special Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

What makes this Extra Special? Lots of cream, lots of eggs and a vanilla bean!! We have been making our own ice cream for a very long time. Childhood memories of Dad making it for birthdays and parties. Until a few years ago we were ice cream maker-less, the old one finally quit. But now we are back in business!
Who doesn't like a bowl of ice cream!?! I tell you, there is nothing like the taste of ice cream right out of the maker! It has a goodness all its own. Mind you this is not a dessert for someone watching there fat intake, you can feel the milk fat on your spoon! But it is so good!! Good thing is takes special ingredients to make, or we would be having it everyday.
We have tried many different recipes and you know, there really hasn't been a recipe we didn't like. But we do have our favorites. I think the Extra Special Vanilla is going to one. The recipe is based on two of our other favorites. I decided I didn't want to use more then a quart of cream and worked around that thought. What really happened- I started dumping things in and realized I needed to decide which recipe I was making.

Extra Special Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean
1 cup sugar
1 quart (4 c.) cream
6 eggs yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

 I also remembered one little vanilla bean I had and wasn't sure what to do with. So I decided to try something new and use it in the ice cream. I put the milk into a sauce pan, then split the vanilla bean in half length-wise and scraped out the seeds. This is what gives the ice cream the lovely brown flecks. As I had not split a vanilla bean before, I thought this was a fun step! Next, cook the milk on the stove until the edges start to bubble (a simmer really). Remove from heat and cover, letting steep 20-30 minutes.
 Next, get out the old beater and beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and lemon colored.
 Fish out your vanilla beans from the milk. (It helps if you count them before putting in, you will know how many need to come out!) Stir the egg/sugar mixture into the saucepan of vanilla milk. Then, return the saucepan to the stove and heat again until simmering. The mixture will thicken a bit. If you run your finger over the back of the spoon and the mixture does not go back together, it is done!
Opps! Forgot a pod!! Good thing I found it now.
 You can let the milk/egg/sugar mixture cool a bit or not, depending how much of a hurry you are in! I think I let it cool five minutes. Then stir in the cream and vanilla extract. I was worried my little bean wasn't going to be strong enough, so added extra vanilla.
Once thoroughly blended, pour into ice cream maker canister.
Paddle fitted in and ready to go!
Our ice cream maker is a White Mountain 4 quart maker with triple action dasher(?). Once the canister is in place and the motor is locked down you are ready for ice and salt.
We usually fill the it half way up with ice, add 2 cups salt, fill the remaining way with ice and sprinkle more salt on top.
 All ready to go! Now we just wait until it is done......
 ......even Kerri knows it is time to wait.
......and wait.
 Now you can either eat is right away or pack it into a container and freeze it....if it lasts that long!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Baby Birds in the Tree

Have you ever had a bird nest in your tree? 
We had when we where little.
 There was a Arborvitae tree near the corner of our house when we were growing up. 
We had many robins come and nest in that tree over the years.
  Mom would lift us up to peer in the tree to see the nest and eggs.     
We would get so excited!
Here is our tree that the birds nest in.

I think the excitement is still there!
Last year we had a robin nest in our tree right about eye level! 
I was so excited and took lots of pictures!
Two eggs in the nest.
Now there is four!

One has hatched!!

Can you see the holes in the egg next to it?
I think that one was going to hatch next!
I think there is one more egg in there somewhere?
They are getting bigger now! 
I think it is getting a bit crowded!
Can you see their beaks and little beady eyes?

The last one left, he didn't what to leave the nest! 
It took him the whole day to leave. We were so worried about him!

So this year we had another bird make a nest in the other side of the tree
 Here it is!  We didn't know what bird it was. 


After looking online and asking my Aunt about it.
I think it is a House Finch nest! 
You see the brown speckled egg?
Well, I also learned that is a Cow bird egg. 
So instead of House Finch baby birds, the Cow Bird hatched and all the other eggs didn't make it.
Yes, I was sad! But now I know and maybe next time I can do something about it! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Goal Jars!

This past week I finally got around to this fun project I found on pinterest.  Goal jars are a fun way to track how much progress you have made and how much more work is needed.  I first found this idea through Hot Mess Princess and apparently many people have followed her lead so if you want to see more ideas look at her Motivational Marbles page

To do this I went to Hobby Lobby and found some fun jars.  I was excited to see that they are food safe so when I reach my goals I can move them into the kitchen or keep them in the craft room.  And two bags of rocks.  Total I sepent around $15 total on all my supplies.

My first goal jar is for the weight I would like to lose. 

My second goal jar is a bit more complex with smaller stones builing up to a larger stone.  As you can see that goal is going to take more time but I am excited to move the rocks over. 

I decided to go with one done jar so if I am making progress on one goal and not the other it still looks like progress is being made!

Here are some other fun ways to use the rock counters.
  • Days of school left until summer
  • Amount of money saved for a vaction
  • Paying off debt
  • Miles ran/Workouts completed before a prize
  • Days until next birthday
  • Days until Christmas!
  • Count down to the Olympics

Let us know if you make a goal jar!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chocolate Raspberry Tartlets......a near disaster

For Father's Day, I decided to make Chocolate Raspberry Tarlets. As Dad's favorite fruit is raspberries, I thought it would be a fitting dessert. I found the raspberries on sale and remembered a recipe from the Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook. But Something went wrong!!
 I couldn't get the tarts out of the pans! Not sure what happened....too thin?.....too thick?........not baked long enough?(it is very hard to tell when chocolate is done).......baked too long?.........the recipe not quite right?..........Your guess is as good as mine! I tried so hard to gently ease them out. Just about the time I would have one out, it would crumble or I would stick my thumb through it! I did finally get three pretty decent ones. But when I went to put them together the next morning, they were soggy crumbly!! There went one of my good ones!

On to plan B!!
I was not going to waste all that hard work! So I did some quick thinking and decided to finish crumbling the tarts up, layer it in dessert dishes with the filling and top it off with the raspberries.
What do you think?

They were delicious! The chocolate filling made up for it. Which is another story....... I didn't have cream, but I did have whole milk. I was worried about it not getting thick so I added a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream. Lovely! I also added a bit of instant clear gel, as I was very worried! The next morning I could stand a spoon up in it. Guess I shouldn't have worried so.

A few pictures on the festive tablecloth.

There wasn't anything left by nightfall so I think it was a good save.
If you have any tips on making tart crust/shortbread, I would love to hear them.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Reveiw-501 Decorating Ideas Under $100

You know how after a few years your decorating seams a little stale? We have a few rooms like that. I am hoping by the end of the summer to have perked then up a little. They just need a little something, not a complete "make-over", just a little "make-up". Maybe a few new highlighting colors, a little sparkle and polish. So that being said, I have been on the look out for ideas. Recently I came across this book, 501 Decorating Ideas Under $100. It is so Inspiring!! Fabulous ideas that you actually could see working in your home. And the best thing? It is a Do-It-Your-Self book! Our favorite kind!

"Classic bird prints can be pricey once they're professionally matted and framed. We used pages from a book and mounted them in inexpensive clip-edge frames (backed with scrapbook paper when needed to get the right size.)" 
The first idea that caught my eye. I love the clean look of framing this way.
Vintage pillowcases turned into cafe curtains, handmade yo-yos on a foot stool.
Our favorite kitchen look! So bright and cheerful.
A vintage tablecloth made into a curtain, tin ceiling tiles to disguise the refrigerator, drawer pulls on backs of chairs for added interest, an old chair taken apart and used for a towel rack.

 A few more of our favorite ideas. I love how they have taken objects out of their usual environment and re-purposed them.

Now that I have all these ideas rolling around in my head, time to get decorating!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mom's Log Cabin Quilt

 Is your closet stuffed with half-finished quilts, unraveling knitting projects, pieces of Christmas crafts, not-yet started gifts or just something cute that was on sale? This year I have pledged to use them up, finish them or get rid of them. Not my stash entirely, just the extra bags I constantly shuffle around and say "What is this?" Freshly motivated by this thought, I ignored my own closet and poked around in my Mom's and found a small quilt top that needed one more row of blocks and it would be the perfect wall-hanging. My Mom was thrilled that I would finish this and I was excited to work on a project that I haven't been shuffling around for four years. I think this in an idea we should all work with, I will finish your stuff and you finish mine, after all its like starting a new project, all the excitement and thrill, only it is finished sooner and we are a little more organized!

 As you can see I love to hand quilt while watching a musical or something where I can listen more than watch. This quilt was entertained by Andy Griffith and Mary Tyler Moore, Doris Day, Perry Mason, Gilligan and the Crew. It took me about six weeks to complete the quilting and now my quilting finger has re-developed its callous so I need to find something else to quilt soon before it disappears.  And in case you were wondering, the safety pins are the preferred method of a no-sew basting, take them out as you go to smooth out wrinkles and admire your handiwork! I truly believe all quilts should have a fabulous backing, just in case you want to flip it over for a comforter look and admire the texture of the stitches. Or in this case, this quilt will hang on the wall and just have a splendid secret.

 And the confession is: I did not do a good job of matching the last row, if you look closely the top pieces are thinner, but hey its finished!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Finished Project - Whisper Cardigan

I have nicknamed this project my Never Ending Sweater. I tore it out so many times, I lost count! In case you were thinking everything we do turns out perfect, not so! I am so glad I persevered and got it finished. It is super cute! I know it is going to be much worn. I don't really have a lot of details to share with you, as it has been in the making a long time! I wasn't sure about the gauge at first, but once I went down two sizes in needles, I was much more happy with the feel of it. So, in trying to get the right needle size I cast on the sleeve and knit it like 3 or 4 times. Then there was a few more rip outs as the first time I tried it on (when it was completed) the arms pinched! I ripped it out to the sleeves again and knit two more inches between the shoulders. And of course I made a mistake the next time I knit it up (and didn't find out until it was finished), so out it came again! It is a good thing yarn is so resilient!
The pattern is the Whisper Cardigan by Hannah Fettig. She is one of my favorite designers because her sweaters are so classic. The yarn is a Merino/Cashmere/Nylon lace weight from Sun Valley Fibers. I fell in love with the yarn at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival a couple of years ago. Not only is it a luscious  color, it is super super soft! It is the most luxurious sweater in my wardrobe now!!

Mandy and I had such fun taking pictures, I couldn't decide which to post! And this isn't even all of them....... for more see it on my project page on Ravlery.