Friday, May 29, 2009

Kitchen Decluttering {Update}

The clean and decluttered counter tops.

Right side of kitchen. Our calendar marker board is on the wall here. The mixer is out all the time as we do not have a cupboard large enough to fit it. It would probably stay out even if we did as I use it daily.

The whole right side of the kitchen.

On this counter is the basket containing my home management binder. The yellow bucket is a rag bucket. We do not use paper towels or paper napkins so dirty rags get thrown in here through out the day and I just dump in in the wash.

Left side of the kitchen.

On the left counter is the butter, a compost bucket, and a chicken scrap bucket. These sit all day and usually get dumped in the evening and rinsed/washed out. On the right the black thing in the corner is the toaster. The white thing on the counter, behind the teapot, is our bread. I make our own bread and find it stays fresh wrapped in a towel on the counter.

This is a before picture of the top of the fridge.

After. I moved the microwave to the garage. If we do not miss it we will sell it at the upcoming yardsale. The red container is my garden container. I use this a lot this time of year. It holds my seeds, twine, my garden map, list of planting dates, etc. The basket is our egg basket and there is usually a few empty egg cartons up here as well.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe

There are so many wonderful cookies out there. Chocolate chip cookies are a a favorite standby here in our house. I can go from "Mom can we make cookies?" to "YUM!" in less than 20 minutes. This recipe comes together in less than 5 minutes (excluding baking time, add more time if you have helpers) and is incredibly good. I always add extra vanilla to almost any recipe I make. The measurements on this one have been adjusted to make up for what I think I am adding extra. I just pour it in but have guessed at the amount of vanilla. We prefer our cookies chewy and I find that for my oven 10 minutes is the perfect time. Removing them from the cookie sheet when they have just set is also important as they continue to bake on the sheet once out of the oven. Happy Baking!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup Butter
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 ½ tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 ¼ cups flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 to 2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. In a bowl stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg. Beat well, scraping sides of bowl if needed. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Mix well. Add desired amount of chocolate chips. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. Place each ball 2 inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven for 10-13 minutes. Remove from oven; let sit one minute and remove to cool on cooling rack.

Kitchen Decluttering

A few weeks ago I took on the spring cleaning of the kitchen. The cupboards were a mess! As I took everything out and scrubbed, I decluttered while I was in there. I am amazed at the differences.

All of our cupboards are deep but short. They can fit a lot in there but nothing can stand upright. This makes storage for cutting boards, cookie sheets, and cereal boxes rather difficult.


After. The cookie sheets also go in here but they were in use when the picture was taken.

Our drawers have the same issue of being really short.
The baking drawer before.

After. This is actually a whole new drawer. One of the only deeper ones so I can not fit the dough hook in here. Which is also in use now that I look at the photo. Must have been a bread day.

Cookbooks before

Cookbooks after. I removed most of the cookbooks actually. The white binder you see on the right is The K Family Cookbook. Madeline made dividers and decorated it and now it is my job to take all the favorite recipes out of the decluttered cookbooks to put in there before we get rid of them all.

Dishes cupboard. Also used to house the coffee, sunscreen, and whatever else you have in your hands when you are walking by.

After. We now have room for the china tea cups, sugar bowl, and cream pitcher. I love using the china and so do the kids for tea parties. I found an entire set at a yard sale for under $10 about 10 years ago. I figure why have nice dishes if you don't use them. We have broken a tea cup so far but it happens. The rest is in another cupboard and we don't use it that often but the cupboard is inaccessible without a stool so its not in the way.

The catch all cupboard by the stove.

After. The top shelf actually now houses the empty canning jars and their lids. We use these for storage of all kinds of things in addition to canning with them.



Over the door spice rack before.

After. The bottom shelf (not pictured) is always empty as the baby can reach it. :)

Top half of pantry before.

Pantry after

Bottom of pantry before.

After. The flour and salt bags you see there are now in food safe 3 and 5 gallon buckets. The buckets fit perfectly on the shelf and bottom.

Pan cupboard before.


Glass storage before


Lid drawer before.



After. Wow, looks like we have no food. lol

Junk drawer before

After. Yep its gone. No more junk drawer. I am either going to love this or really hate it. lol This drawer is under our cupboard with the glasses and dishes so it makes sense to have the lids here.

The basket. Some regularly used items from the junk drawer have been relocated here. Calculator, pens, tape, scissors, phone charger. The big purple book is my home management binder. I love my home management binder. Though it is a work in progress a lot as things change regularly around here. :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Our New Lawnmower

After a plague of lawn mower issues we decided to get a Reel mower. Neither of us is mechanically inclined so the thought of paying someone (again) to fix the lawnmower was not very appealing. Joe managed to get it running (replaced the spark plug and some filters) but it would die every few minutes. So Craigslist searching commenced and we found this practically new mower (she only used it 7 or 8 times)! The lady was moving and accepted our offer right away.

It took a long time to get through the first mow in the backyard as some places were pretty tall. The front yard was recently mowed so Joe was able to get it done very quickly and it looks great! The picture above is the south half of our backyard and the garden. This is also the area that was a foot high. I think it looks great!

We are excited that we do not have to buy gas for the mower anymore. Our maintenance costs will be minimal. Its also better for the grass and the environment. The neighbor across the street thought it was pretty funny when Joe unloaded it out of the van. He had to come over and take a look. lol

So handyman special: gas lawnmower for sale!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My favorite bread

My favorite no knead bread.

I found the recipe here a few months ago. Since then a friend turned me onto the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes blog. Then Joe bought me the cookbook for my birthday. It has created an obsession. This dough is so versatile. I have made many things with it and keep finding new ways to use this dough.

The Master Recipe: Boule
(Artisan Free-Form Loaf)
Makes 4 1-pound loaves
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1⁄2 tbsp granulated yeast (1 1⁄2 packets)
1 1⁄2 tbsp coarse kosher or sea salt
6 1⁄2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour
Cornmeal for pizza peel

First add water to bowl. I use my kitchenaid mixer. Next add salt and yeast. Next add flour. When mixed, it will be wet and sticky, wet your hands and scoop into large bowl. Cover loosely (its needs to vent) and let sit for about 3 hours or until flattened on top. This step will vary depending on your house temperature. Once dough is risen either refrigerate or use. I prefer to use it for bread right away and freeze or store the loaves. I find that it does not rise as much (though it still rises and is just as yummy) once its been refrigerated. To make a loaf sprinkle flour on top of dough and flour hands. Scoop out desired amount of dough and without kneading make into a ball. There is a trick to this described in the links above. I then set dough on prepared (cornmeal) cookie sheet to rise again for about 30-40 minutes (longer if using cold dough). Then slash top of bread in desired way with sharp, serrated knife. Preheat oven to 450 degrees with a broiler pan in there. When dough is risen put in oven and add cup of water to broiler pan and quickly close door. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Let cool before slicing. I make large loaves and get about 2-3 per batch.

I have made pizza on the grill with this dough as well and it was delicious. The whole wheat recipe is what we use for sandwiches. I have also made Naan, Cinnamon rolls, and sandwich rolls with the master recipe. The book is wonderful and has so many great recipes.

Make sure to read the full directions on the link above. There are tips and tricks to using a wet dough. What I do above works for me and my oven but may not work for yours. I also do not own a baking stone as the recipe calls for and I do not sprinkle the loaf with flour before baking. I find that a sharp enough knife does not stick when slicing it on the top. Happy eating!
Brioche dough from the cookbook.

Carmel Pecan Sticky Rolls using Brioche Dough but can be made with the Master recipe as well. Recipe in the links above.

Why I love co-sleeping.

Are words even necessary?

An old man, a fish, and some hair. Lots of hair.

Yet another birthday in our household. Check out this old man!

Check out his birthday cake I made! Vanilla bean ice cream, oreo crust, oreo layer, topped with carmel, hot fudge, and what else but more oreos.
A beautiful girl.
Madeline made carmel corn.

Such long hair!

A large pile of hair!
A brand new haircut!

Another haircut though no personal haircutting was involved with this one. lol
The cat loves to bring us mice, moles, birds, and other such treats. We were a bit shocked one morning to see that he had brough us a fish! Where you ask in the land of suburbia did he find a fish? Umm in the neighbors Japanese Garden. They won't miss it right?

Sick Nomy on her favorite sleeping spot. She won't sleep on me as she just wants to nurse (and puke).
Other news. We got rid of the two aggressive chickens. Love Craigslist where we sold them for $15 each. The 4 month old pullets seem to have adjusted now. Took about 3 days but they will now come out of the coop and run into the outside grassy area. The other chickens don't seem to notice them. With the exception of Goldie who I believe is now top hen. She definately tells them she is boss but does not attack them like the Rhode Island Reds. We are down to 10 chickens now with 6 laying currently.