Saturday, August 2, 2014

Planning a trip... Over the River and Through the Woods

What goes into planning a trip to the woods...

what do you want to do?  and what are you seeking out of it?
sometimes this is a specific peak hike or maybe just a weekend out of the house
hmmm, where?
maybe dependent of what you want to do, like location of a specific peak or just regional based due to cooler weather or based on travel time.  P.S. the highest peak in SC is Mount Sassafras in the upstate at 3533 feet.
cabin? trailer? RV? tent?
we stick with the tent, I mean for convenience of already owning all the supplies.
how are you getting there?  who all is going? number of camp sites needed?
there are some lame rules about # of tents or cars per site, I guess for good reason, but things to consider.  And maps are necessary, since there is often not cell service.
Ah, the big debate for us.  Think snacks, meals, dessert... there may not be anything around for miles.

Being comfortable is key!  Make a list and check it! When car camping, more is better.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

UPgrading old picture frames

In my first apartment, I had this perfectly matched scheme of photo frames laid out in a way to spread out and provide coverage of the gallery wall.  Looking back there is too much spacing.
Then "our" first apartment I had mixed and matched frames, which I liked more, but looking back the shape is off a bit.

Now in our first house, I've gotten lazy.  I've laid frames around because I didn't want to commit.  And well it's time to do something.  I've added a few pieces here and there.  But I've let two arts linger on the counter since I've wanted to paint the frames -one, the cork frame, is homemade as shown here and another picked up at the Crafty Feast event, which I got to go to with my bestie and beau over the entering my 30s bday weekend extravaganza.

Anyway, the status of the kitchen gallery wall was dark.  And the two arts are getting added but with a fun colored frame.  Too much black isn't for me (although my wardrobe would say otherwise).

So, I'm updating or as I like to say "upgrading" old frames.  Most people use spray paint, but I had a bad experience in college (bubbles and streaks, and all sorts of ugly -it's an art form in itself) so I stick to brushes.

paint, craft paint from Michaels
foam brush (for no stroke marks), about as wide as the frame
cleaning material, 1-to-1 vinegar, water and a dry cloth
old frame
FUN art.  I found the Eat Local Food print at Crafty Feast -here's the Etsy shop

step 1 - clean the frame well.  I tried sanding and it didn't work on these frames even though I think they are wood, the black coating/lacquer is thick -or maybe I was wimpy and didn't want to put in the effort.
step 2 - then paint.  Start in one corner and work your way around.
note 3 - If the corner connections are at an angle then I tried to pull the brush up off the frame at an angle to maintain the diagonal line brush "stroke".  *this is one coat of paint -clearly not enough
step 4 - It takes two coats for even coverage.  Let dry completely between each coat -an hour or more for the safe side.  *see the difference -two coats on the left and one coat on the right

So, the kitchen gallery wall is fully upgraded.  Like my new additions?  I think I need one more long print in the middle.  Looks much better though.  Now on to other walls around the house.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Homemade Pretzels

Homemade pretzels!  Delicious and pretty easy.  Can easily make pretzel sticks or balls with this recipe.  I opted to sub oil for butter in the dough and not dip them in butter at the end.  Honestly the pretzels are so good, the butter isn't even necessary.  The doughy, salty goodness was a perfect treat.  Recipe made about 15 pretzels.

2 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons (2 packets) active dry yeast
4 tablespoons olive oil (evoo is best)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (may sub other flours)
2 teaspoons fine salt
keep separate:
3 cups warm water
Coarse salt
1/3 cup baking soda

1 - Warm up the milk in the microwave for about 1 minute -too hot it will kill the yeast. Stick your finger in should feel like a bath water. 
2 - In a stand mixer bowl or large bowl, stir in the yeast and let it sit for about 3 minutes, then add the oil and sugar, stir and let sit for another 3 minutes -yeast should be bubbling. 
3 - Add the flour about 1 cup at a time, mixing dough, and then add the fine salt. Kneed for about 10 minutes with a stand mixer, or by hand, until dough forms a ball that holds it's shape.
4 - Set dough ball in a greased bowl and cover with moist towel or saran wrap. Let rise for 1 hour in a moist, warm place until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 450ยบ. 
5 - Punch down dough and divide into 12 lumps -approximately equal sizes. Roll them all out as thin as you can -careful not to break them. Twist into pretzel shape.
6 - Combine the warm water and baking soda in a wide bowl. Dip the pretzels in the baking soda water (may need to continually stir water before dipping the next pretzel). Place on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for about 7-11 minutes or until browned. Dip each in  melted butter while hot.
Or try subbing the salt with sugar/cinnamon for a sweet treat.

recipe adapted from Yammie's Noshery

Monday, July 28, 2014

being inspired by others...

sometimes I see someone achieve something that gets me thinking... I can do that.  Especially with social media so available and constantly in your face, I can't help but want to achieve what that person did.  And this is great motivation.  But I also feel its created a semi-identity crisis.  For instance, I have all these friends that run long distances, like really long distances, and I often get caught up in their excitement and think I can do that, without actually think of whether or not it is actually something I want to do.  I got so caught up in someone else's hobby that I tried walking a 25k, and although I finished, around mile 10 I semi-regretted it.  Regret was mostly because I did not train and take the same time and effort that has created the hobby into a big, achievable goal.  But what I did learn from that experience is that someone else's goal is not my own, and I should just take away the inspiration to dedicate myself to my own hobbies and goals.  So, along the physical activity realm, I've found I like to bike (thanks to #waltermitty) and beau and I did a relay sprint triathlon and I biked! and that's it, because running well it isn't my hobby or goal, and swimming forget it.  I'm using my new inspiration to get real crafty for an upcoming party, which is MY hobby.  

So, be inspired by others achieving great things to meet YOUR goals!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

*healthier* black bean enchiladas

This recipe is a little involved, but honestly every enchiladas recipe is. So make a list and just get to it, because this is so worth it! One time I tried to make everything from scratch, yes, the tortillas too and it was so good. But for the effort the most important homemade item here is the enchilada sauce. Get this right, and you can smother it on a frozen burrito and it'd still be delish!

*healthier* black-bean enchiladas
(For the sauce)
3 cups organic low sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. cumin
3-4 cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped (or 1/4 tsp. garlic powder)
1/4 of an onion, finely chopped (1/4 tsp. onion powder)
1/4 tsp. chili powder
*add red pepper flakes to kick up the heat if desired
(For the enchiladas)
15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups corn (I use frozen, thawed)
6 oz. fresh organic baby spinach (I just use a whole pre-packaged container of pre-washed)
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tsp. cumin
3 cups shredded 3 cheese blend (or pepper jack, etc.)
8 large flour tortillas (I use spelt, whole wheat tortillas)

1 - Make the sauce: in a saucepan or skillet with high sides, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for a few minutes in a little oil.  Add tomato paste, flour, 2 tsp. cumin, and chili powder.  Cook 1 minute, whisking. Flour should brown a little and start to clump in the oil.  be careful not to burn.
2 - Whisk in broth, about 1/2 a cup at a time, bring to a light boil. Reduce to simmer, and cook until slightly thickened about 8-15 minutes.  Constantly stir slowly with whisk to keep the thickening from sticking to the pan and clumping. Add salt/pepper to taste, and set aside.

For enchilada filling:
1 - Saute the spinach in a little bit of olive oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until slightly wilted. *if using a nonstick pan, may not need to add any oil*
2 - In a large bowl, combine beans, 2 cups cheese, spinach, *thawed* corn, green onions, 2 tsp. cumin, and cilantro.
3 - Preheat oven to 375. 
4 - Lightly oil a 9x13 inch baking dish, and pour a small amount of the sauce to coat the bottom *this prevents sticking.
5 - Generously fill tortillas with mixture, roll up tightly with ends tucked in, and place seam side down in dish.
6 - Pour remaining sauce over the enchiladas, coating evenly. Sprinkle 1 cup cheese on top.
7 - Bake about 20 minutes, and garnish with cilantro and/or green onions (optional).

Cilantro-Lime Rice
1 cup white rice, 2 cup water, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1 lime
rinse rice, mix the cilantro with the rice and water and cook whether in a rice cooker or on the stove.  when complete add lime juice.  Start with 1/2 a lime and add more as necessary.  Mix cooked rice.  and Enjoy!

recipe adapted from The Garden Gazer