Monday, August 31, 2020

4 Ingredient Crusty Bread

Do you make your own bread??

For years I've told myself that I was not good at baking bread.  I somehow decided that it wasn't worth my time to figure out and that I just wasn't a bread baker.  Have you ever done that with something?  Talked yourself out of it before you'd even had a chance to try it??

2020 has given us all some extra time at home and I'm happy to report that in 2020 I've become a bread maker!

I told you about my adventures in sourdough bread making back in January.  It's going great.  I usually end up making bread/cinnamon rolls 3 times a month.  It's been really fun to share bread with others.

Olive requested that I learn how to make delicious crusty bread.  Our whole family loves it so I figured it would be a fun skill to have.  I asked around for a recipe recommendation.  One friend gave me this recipe and she said, "It's so easy.  You really can't mess it up.  The only tricky part is that you have to remember to do it the night before because it needs to rise for 12-18 hours."

I'd had the recipe for months and finally got around to trying it out last week.

Friends - it turned out SO GOOD that I made it two times last week!!

I was really proud of my first loaf of crusty bread.  My family gave it rave reviews and requested it every night for dinner.  The kids said it was the best thing I had ever baked for them - ha!

 

Here is the link to the original recipe & directions: Budget Bytes: No Knead Bread

Ingredients:

1/4 t instant yeast

1/2 t salt

3 c flour

1 1/2 c warm water

Butter for topping (optional)

 

Directions:

Mix ingredients until well combined.

Let it rise/rest for 12-18 hours.

*I've been stirring it up before I go to bed, letting it rise 18 hours and then baking it for dinner the following night.

Shape dough into a ball with a little extra flour on parchment paper and let rise for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 and let your dutch oven heat up along with the oven.

Remove hot dutch oven and place your bread (on parchment paper) into your dutch oven.  Top with the lid and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove hot lid and let it bake another 10 minutes.  Add some butter to the top when it's still warm.

That's it! 

Let cool, slice and serve.  It's best fresh out of the oven or shortly there after.

Would your family enjoy some crusty bread??

If you don't have a dutch oven, I'd highly recommend this one.  It's more budget friendly than most and I think it's going to be perfect for bread, soup, roasts, etc once the weather gets cold!  There are so many pretty color options.  I ordered the Oyster White.  Here's my Amazon affiliate link to it:

Friday, August 28, 2020

Friday Faves

Happy Friday!  I hope you've had a nice week.  I know there's a lot going on in the country right now, but I'm hoping you were able to find some highlights in your week in spite of the hard things.

I put together this post and then hesitated a bit.  It's a very normal post.  A very regular week.  It was a really nice week even though we didn't do anything super exciting so I'm moving forward and sharing our Friday Faves.  

 I'm thankful for the normal week and all the sweet moments at our house.

Friday Faves //

Kevin's started regularly picking me up some grocery store flowers.  I never know when to expect them and he always surprises me with the color and variety.  I think these alstroemeria are my favorites yet.  Isn't the magenta color so pretty!?!  They've been making me smile all week long.

I got voted in as president of my local moms group for a second term and I love it.  I really enjoy organizing and planning events for the 130 families in our group to enjoy.  Many things are different right now, but I'm working hard with the board to make sure we are still offering fun things for our moms.  We had our first in person meeting since March this week.  It was SO MUCH FUN.  We met outside, distanced, had hand sanitizers, bug spray and popsicles for everyone.  We all agreed that it was the highlight of our week.  We all left with big smiles and happy hearts.  It was a good reminder that even with all the COVID craziness, we can get creative to see our people.

 

I have signed the kids up for various online art classes through our library this Summer.  They love it and it's a really fun way for them to get to do art at home.  They painted these cat pictures earlier in the Summer and then opted to do a free choice painting this month.  Olive is very hands on and has big ideas about her art.  She wants almost zero help and always gets her hands dirty.  She LOVES art.  I really love these paintings so we hung them in our playroom.  I got smart and tried the velcro strips from Command and they're so amazing.  Hanging the art was really easy.  I'll definitely be using these strips again all over my house.



 School has been going well.  We've got our set up down and are getting more familiar with expectations.  Both kids have a desk, a book nook and are already making progress.  Olive is starting to reach for chapter books and Fletcher has mastered that pesky lower case e.



We swung through the drive thru at Baskin Robins for Family Night on Tuesday.  Kid scoops are $1.29 and Regular scoops are $1.69.  Our total came to $6.44 and was a really yummy treat for all of us.

Leo has been having trouble staying asleep from 9:00 to midnight for the past few weeks.  I'm trying to take advantage of the extra snuggles and late night hang outs.

And I'll wrap up with some cute kid moments - Leo is loving to jump and stand in several of his baby toys, he's rolling everywhere, getting stuck in funny places and is eager to move.  The big kids have been having fun playing together and we've been enjoying just being together.  Olive is such a helpful big sister.



Olive came home from school, grabbed the baby and said, "We've got some snuggles to catch up on!"  She also told me this week that Leo is the most loved person in our family.  Everyone adores him.

We were cracking up because Leo rolled all over the playroom and knocked down three towers in no time.  We had no idea he could be so destructive in the blink of an eye.  Fletcher thought it was funny and then suggested we buy a baby cage.  ha!

Going to school every other day has its perks.  Sleeping in and slow mornings in your pjs are the best.  Although Olive reminds me regularly that she'd rather be at school on her days at home.  I love that she loves school so much.

Linking up with Momfessionals.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

No Bake PB Pretzel Bars

I saved this recipe back in July and couldn't wait to make it.  

How could you go wrong with a recipe that calls for peanut butter, pretzels and chocolate?!?!

And bonus: one of my favorite bloggers - Andrea @ Momfessionals shared it so I knew it had to be a good one.  Here's the original recipe

My kids were eager to help with this recipe.  It was very kid friendly and came together so quickly.  I made the recipe as Andrea suggested.  I just cut the recipe in half to make a 9x9 pan instead of a full 9x13 pan.  It worked great for our family.

NO Bake PB Pretzel Bar Ingredients //

Half a bag of pretzels - any kind will do because you're smashing them.

1 c peanut butter

1 c melted butter

1 1/2 c powdered sugar

2 t Crisco

1 cup chocolate chips


Directions //

Put pretzels in a ziploc bag and smash them.  Save a few pretzels for topping on the bars.  My kids loved doing this with a rolling pin.  You could easily do this in a food processor, too, if you want a more consistent crushing. 

Melt the butter, stir in peanut butter and powdered sugar.  Stir until smooth and then add in pretzels.  Press mixture into a greased 9x9 pan.

Melt the chocolate chips and Crisco together.  I did this in 30 second increments and stirred each time until everything was melted.  Pour over the peanut butter pretzel mixture.  Top with a few pretzels or any fun toppings - m&ms, Reese's cups, candy bars, sprinkles, etc.

Refrigerate until chocolate hardens.  Cut into squares and serve.

My kids LOVED these.  They were so proud to make the recipe and we ate the whole pan really fast.  We would highly recommend these bars.

 


Everyone took turns crushing, stirring and taste testing.

 Would your friends or family enjoy this recipe??


Let me know if you give this recipe a try!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Offically Retired

My Dad retired after being a policeman for 45 years this month.  

He's retired before, but this time is different, he's really retiring.  He has retired a few times from a few different departments and always started a new police related job right away.

He was a policeman long before I was born.  I think the story goes that my parents got married and the following Monday he left for the police academy.  When we were kids, everything revolved around him being a policeman in the best way.  We rode in his police car our entire childhood.  Everyone knew he was a policeman.  We never dreamed of making a mess or throwing up in his backseat.  We still tease him that the quickest way to find yourself out of the car standing on the side of the road was to say that you didn't feel good.  He's stop immediately and give you some fresh air.  

He always took pride in his job, his car, his uniform and his duty to protect and serve.  He won all kinds of awards, got special recognition, outworked all his coworkers and was always an outstanding policeman. 

So many of my memories involve him being a policeman.  

He'd come to school events in uniform, he'd get called in at all hours of the night or have to work for days straight if something big came up in our county.  When I was pretty young, his partner and friend was killed in the line of duty.  I can still remember that night like it was yesterday.  I always knew his job was a dangerous one and we always breathed a sigh of relief when he'd come home at the end of his shift.  He worked on multiple murder trials that lasted for months.  They were a big deal in our small town.  We did some take your kid to work days and all took turns going to court with my dad during those long trials

In high school, he agreed to drop me off to go to the Friday night football game with my friends.  He waved goodbye and never left.  Turns out he knew the policemen who were on duty for the event and he stuck around visiting with them until it was time to pick me up.  I thought I was so independent, but he was always looking out for us kids. 

In college, he drive back and forth to get me 2 hours away any time I asked.  He even drove the 6 hours to Notre Dame to bring Kevin home for the weekend in his police car.  I'd come home and we'd campaign for him at fairs, parades and events.  We always enjoyed doing all the work required to figure out how to run a campaign.  The whole family worked together to pull off fundraisers, campaign events and all the behind the scenes things for a campaign.  I loved helping him and my mom work on all of it.

Many of his friends were policemen and it felt like he knew everyone when we were out and about.  People often called him for help when he was home and he never really quit being a policeman.  He was always on duty.  Always looking for ways to help.  Always calling in drunk drivers when he'd spot them and always keeping one eye out for trouble.  I'm guessing he'll always do these things, but it'll be fun to see him learn to do new things in his retirement.

It's been so fun to show Olive, Fletcher and Leo this side of Papaw as a policeman.  Olive has always thought it was cool.  Fletcher is sure that he wants to grow up to be a policeman just like Papaw.  Leo is named after Papaw and it'll be fun to show him all these police pictures some day.  I didn't realize that LEO is often used as an acronym for Law Enforcement Officer until my dad mentioned it when we announced our favorite boy names.  Maybe one day Leo will grow up to follow in Papaw's footsteps.

Instead of feeling sad, we are focusing on the positive, great memories and really cool opportunities he had as a policeman over the years.  Now we laugh because he's only been retired a couple of weeks and he is already filling his days with projects, activities and to dos.  We tease that you have to call early to get on his calendar :)  He seems to love being on his own schedule and timeline.  My mom retired a couple of years ago so it'll be fun to see what they both decide to do with their free time although they seem to be keeping pretty busy.

I asked him to do a little photo shoot with the kids when we were home visiting in July.  He wasn't thrilled at the idea, but I'm so glad I made him.  The kids and I will always love having these pictures of him in uniform.






And a few throw back pictures of my Dad and the kids.

 





And really far back to 1982ish :)  My Dad worked night shift when I was little and I didn't do the best job of being quiet so he could sleep.  Mom and I were sporting our matching polka-dots :)

 

We've always loved cheering him on in his police career!  This is a family picture after he had just WON his first election.  My mom worked so hard to scrapbook all his campaign events so it was fun to look back at all of it when I was looking for pictures.

Happy retirement, Dad!  We love you!

Monday, August 24, 2020

Back to School Highlights

We have officially been back to school for one week and I am SO thankful that both Kevin and Olive have in person learning options right now.  Fletcher's PreK program has been delayed until October.  

In our district we had the option to choose - traditional in person learning with an AB rotating day schedule, hybrid with the first 9 weeks of school at home and then return to school and all virtual for the year.  We picked the in person option and she goes every other day along with half of her class.  She gets sent home with assignments for the following day.  It's been great so far and she's thrilled to return to school.  I'm super thankful for brave administrators that spent their summer figuring out how to get the kids back to school and praying that the schools can stay open.

The social interaction  learning from peers, interacting with teachers, in person instruction and being outside of the house is so important.  Yes, they're having to wear masks when distancing isn't possible, but we're all staying optimistic and positive about the 2020 school year.  We drive home the fact that we are not afraid of COVID, rather we are doing regular things to stay healthy - balanced diet, exercise, playing outside, social interaction, good hand washing, etc.  

I was so thankful to be there for Olive's first day of school.  She was a tiny bit nervous, but being in 2nd grade, she felt really confident hopping out of the car that morning.

We did some of our usual back to school traditions and scrapped others.  We shopped for school supplies, new clothes, had some fun treats, snapped pictures and made back to school bracelets.

I never got around to coming up with a fun theme for the year, decorating our house for going back to school or doing a big back to school dinner.  And you know what - no one noticed!  Hahaha.  It was good to scale things back a bit given our crazy last few weeks.

Fun Facts about 2nd Grade Olive:

-She picked out her own outfit from head to toe.

-I did her hair 3 different ways before she settled on this one.

-She's letting her hair grow out.

-Unicorns are still the coolest.

-The girl who spent many years of her life throwing fits about tennis shoes happily picked out tennis shoes as her first day shoes because recess - duh?!?

-She got the teacher she was hoping for and started a girls club with all the girls in her class.  They're all new friends for her this year and she is president of the club.  

-We are so proud of her!  

 Kevin's 6th year at ISU






 Leo won"t know what to think when both kids head off to school and the house is quiet. 

What are your kids doing for school this year??