First Birthday Party for Hudson

I am just going to share a few pictures of the 1st Birthday party for cute little Hudson. Indulge me as the grandma, please:)

 "Please, someone rescue me from all this goo!"
 We made the tiered cake plate in the background by stacking bowls in between the large plates.  They held the animal cracker favors.

After the bath to wash off all that food coloring cake, dad reads him a bedtime story.
 He had a great time playing with the decorations.
Happy Birthday cute little one!


Artisian Italian Bread

I am in LOVE!  I am in love with this Bread!!!  I have been making it everyday for a week.  This recipe is easy and delicious.  It is an Italian, hard crust with a hearty chewy center.  The surprising thing is that it is not made in a big mixer, or a bread maker, but just stirred together in a bowl.  The unusual thing is that it takes a tiny amount of yeast and therefore a long rise lets it develop a wonderful texture with big bubbles (or holes).  So, if you want a loaf tomorrow, you mix it up today, let it rise all day and night (11-18 hours) and bake it tomorrow.  It is very forgiving as to time since it rises so slowly.  The last unusual thing is that when you are ready to bake it, you preheat a heavy lidded pan first then bake it in the pan.  It turns out so beautifully, and tastes just like you got it from an bakery artisan in Europe with his open hearth oven.  Now that I have you smelling that wonderful aroma, here is the recipe:
No-Knead Bread in a Pot

3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/3 cup cold water (55-65 degrees)
Whisk dry ingredients with yeast in a fairly large bowl.  Add water and using a wooden spoon mix until you have a wet sticky dough for about 30 seconds.  It should be sticky to the touch.  If it is not, add some more water.
 Cover the bowl with plastic wrap-sprayed with Pam.  Let it sit for about 11-18 hours.  This slow rise is the key to the flavor.
 After the first rise, scrape it down in the bowl.  Dump it out onto a floured surface, and with a rubber scraper shape it into a round using as little flour as possible. 
Get a square of Parchment paper larger than a cake round and spray the paper with Pam.  Place the dough round onto the Parchment paper and place it in the cake round.  Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with Pam.  Let this rise for about 1-2 hours. 
Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees and put the oven proof heavy pot (I use an enameled cast iron  3 1/2 qt. pan-like Le Cruset) into the oven with it's lid too. 
When the time is up for the second rise, put this dough which is on the parchment into the preheated pot.
At this point you can cut an X in the top with a very sharp knife. and put it in the oven with the lid on.  (I unscrew the actual handle since it is made of a plastic.)  Bake for 30 minutes.
Then take the lid off. It will look good but it still needs to cook longer.So bake for about 15-20 minutes more. 
The crust will get dark brown and may look burned but it makes a delicious hard crust and the center has to get cooked so it needs to bake this long.  Carefully lift the loaf out of the pot by the parchment paper and hot pads.  Let it sit about an hour to cool before slicing.  Use a good sharp bread knife to cut it.  I have made variations of this bread by adding kalamata olives and rosemary (and/or parmesan cheese) or another one is walnuts, raisins and cinnamon.  I have used 1 cup of whole wheat in place of some of the bread flour too.  All are delicious!
(I was able to purchase my enameled cast iron pan from TJMaxx for $35.00)  If you decide to try it I'd love to hear what you think about it!


Friend Makin' Monday--Spring

 Friend Makin' Monday
Amber has some good questions for us this week.  I don't know how she comes up with new ideas every week but I am glad she does.  Here is her list for today:

1. Favorite things about Spring:  This has to be the change in the weather.  I like it when you can gradually wear a lighter coat then a jacket, then a sweater then just a long sleeve shirt, then shorter shirt, then at last when you can wear just a summer top!

2. What I'm doing for Spring Break: I am going to San Francisco for a first  birthday party for Hudson!

3. Favorite Spring flower:  The daffodils because they come up first in my yard.  It would be a toss-up between those and the tulips except there are no tulips because the deer eat them.

4. Do you have a garden? Not yet.  Last year I had a small pot garden with tomatoes and peppers.  I planted my herbs in the ground and they did well--sage, basil and thyme.

5. If so, what do you grow.  See above.

6. Do you do Spring cleaning?  I try to keep things in order all year but I do pay to have my windows washed (all 55 of them) because they are old and have storm windows on the outside and are hard to clean.  I love it when I can see clearly out them after all the winter grime and stuff is off.

7. What is your weather *really* like right now? {Just b/c it's "officially" spring, doesn't mean that it feels like it for some of you}  It is vacillating between 40 and 60 degrees.

8. Snapped any weather related photos lately? Share one with us!  It snowed all day on Saturday!
9. What's your favorite thing to do on a sunny afternoon? I love to just sit outside and soak in the Vitamin D.
10. Favorite TV show right now?I'm following American Idol, The Ref and 24.

It has been fun thinking about and looking forward to Spring coming to this part of the world.  I can hardly wait!  Visit Amber for more interesting answers to these same questions.  Happy Monday to you!


Tabletop Inspiration

I was tabletop inspired recently.  I am always delighted to see beautifully set tables.  I enjoy linking up each week to Between Naps on the Porch for her Thursday Tablescapes to be inspired by all the nice bloggers who share their own tables.  I also love to browse the china and dishware section of big department stores to see their table designs and see the newest in tableware.  I was in Pottery Barn recently and loved their use of natural elements on their tabletops.

It is really nice to see that the very versatile white china which many of us have can be used in so many different ways. 
Here is another element that many have, the wooden salad bowl.  I had never thought of using it as a design element by itself and empty (or with wooden plates if you have them).
Also bringing in plain white vase as a design element is interesting.  I could just see it filled with forced forsythia, quince branches, cherry blossoms or daffodils.
They also brought in some rustic and earthy charm with the watering can, the pottery mug and the cute iron chair with the reindeer moss.
Keeping with the natural theme is the old wooden crate.  Many of these element are so simple and items that I am sure many of us have (perhaps a look in the garage or basement ) so we don't  have to go out and buy new things to create a wonderful table.  Just this visit to Pottery Barn gave me lots of ideas to work with in this in between period while we wait to put all our bunnies and chicks and eggs on the table for Easter.  I hope you are inspired also.  Have a wonderful Thursday.  To see more beautiful tabletops and lots more ideas visit Susan at Between Naps on the Porch.


Service Club Update

Our 10 Club really got into the spirit of Easter early this year with our March meeting. Twelve wonderful women braved the falling snow to attend earlier this month.
 We stuffed 250 plastic Easter eggs for an egg hunt that will be held for children of a homeless assisted organization.
   We also held our own baby shower by each bringing layette items to the meeting.  These were collected and will be items for "sale" at the Teddy Bear Den of the March of Dimes.  Young mothers take parenting classes and receive tokens for their attendance and then are able to "spend" them at the Teddy Bear Den to "buy" the layette items as well as other items of their choosing.
In addition to filling the Easter eggs and the having the shower, two quilts were set up and were tied that day at our meeting. 
 They will also go to the same division of the March of Dimes.  I am always surprised by how much is accomplished in such a short amount of time (2 hours once a month) by our members.  This is a wonderful group of devoted and generous women to give their time and talent to this organization.  Thank you everyone!  This was also our 1 year anniversary of the 10 Club.  We began last March with 7 members and have grown to 16!  We celebrated by singing to our club and enjoyed a nice brunch afterward. 


A week in Review

Where have I been?  (Warning:  Long, grandmotherly post!)

  Well, I had a great time with my grandchildren in Idaho for 6 days while Wendy attended a photography workshop in Las Vegas.
 Little 5 yr-old Will and I were pals during the day reading stories, watching UP, making cupcakes and swinging on his swing. 
 He is very vested in Pirates right now and must have drawn 15 pictures of them each day as well as wear his Pirate hat. This is his best interpretation of a pirate saying Arrrg!
 He also thought Molly, the dog, would be a great first mate. 
 The older children were so good and helped me shuttle them to basketball practice,
 piano lessons and

golf lessons after school. I have new respect for Wendy and all the time she spends in her car! 
   I had a few hours one day while Will was in Preschool so I was able to spent them with a friend from CA who has moved to Idaho.
 We had lunch (Buffalo Salad) and shopped the local antique stores that were suggested to me by a blogger friend who lives there.
 We came upon this grate on the sidewalk that was a lovely design.

The week before that I learned more about the TV world helping Jennifer take her bracelet supplies, set up and deliver her part on Studio 5.  I find it fasinating all that goes on behind the scenes of a production.
 There are lights to adjust, cameras to put in place, counting down to action and the actual taping of the show.
Of course, afterward we had to do some shopping.
 I guess I am really in the mainstream of design because I just love going to Pottery Barn and browsing their displays.
  I was intrigued with their coffee table displays.  Probably because I never feel like I quite get just the right things on my own coffee table. 

  I also loved their table displays and will probably post pictures of those on Thursday.
 I left with this view out my window and returned to it refreshed and white again
When will Spring be here?