Thursday, July 22, 2010

Homemade Crispy Crust Pizza Dough

Last night I decided to make some homemade yummy pizza using the great pizza pan that we got at our wedding reception from Rachel Epp Buhler (Thanks again!). Having often ended up with dough that wasn't done in the middle or crispy enough, I was so excited for it to finally turn out the way I had hoped. This time, it turned out so good, that I thought it would be a shame not to post the recipe.

The how to:

Pizza Dough:

circa 2 C flour
3/4 C warm water
3 T sugar
Plenty of olive oil
Garlic powder
Parsley flakes

1. In a big bowl, mix yeast, sugar, and water and let stand until foamy.
2. Drizzle some olive oil over the top and lightly mix in.
3. Add spices.
4. Add flour. Knead until you get a soft semi-sticky dough. You may need to add more flour, but don't add too much or your dough will get too dry.
5. Form into a ball, cover, and let stand until twice the size.
6. When dough is ready, flatten, pull or do what you need to do to get it to cover a medium pizza round pan or baking pan.
7. Let rise again if possible for about a half an hour.
8. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes and take out.
9. Using a barbecue brush, brush entire surface of crust with olive oil. Let sit.
10. Now add your tomato sauce (I used leftover ragu yesterday and it tasted great). Here's a little tip. If you buy the already portioned pizza sauces from the store, use only half. If you use it all, your dough gets too soft and doesn't cook through.
11. Now add your favorite toppings and bake at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.
12. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Red Rocking Chair

I’ve always wanted a rocking chair, especially the old fashion kind that people used to sit on while on their porches like in those movies about the deep South. When I started nursing, I decided it was high time to get one, since I was probably going to spend a lot of time rocking a baby and I wanted to be comfortable.

Since we didn’t have a lot of money to go out and buy a new rocking chair (I hadn’t realized that they could get so expensive), we decided to look around at local thrift shops. To our surprise on half price day at the Salvation Army, we saw an old wooden rocking chair on sale for only 20 dollars. The finish had worked its way off most areas and it was wobbly in places, but with a little work it would do.

The how to, or how I got it too look like what it does today:

1. After buying sandpaper, brushes and some paint, I got started sanding down the old finish. It took me a bit longer than I had figured sanding around all of those round edges, but not as long as it would have taken if I had completely sanded off the varnish.

2. Then I washed off the dust left from sanding, let it dry completely and got ready to paint. The paint I bought was a bit translucent, which meant that I had to paint the whole chair about 3 to 4 times. In the end, I liked the look of the wood through the paint. Nevertheless, if you want to save time, make sure you buy paint as opaque as possible.

3. Finally, I added a seat cushion I bought at IKEA. Someday, I’ll sew a new one and post it. For the time being, I like the cushion I got and the reds match great.

I put Jonas in the rocking chair to take a picture, but it was hard to get him to sit still enough to take it. I wouldn’t advise putting a nine-month-old baby in a rocking chair without a lot of supervision. However, as an adult, they are the best and if you are nursing, you have to have one. I’ve put myself to sleep nursing in mine a few times.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beef Jerky and Teething

Beef jerky for teething? I'm not kidding.

The other day I was at the pool talking to another mom about how my son was teething. She told me that she just gave her kids all cold beef jerky out of the fridge and it worked every time. ??? Yeah, that's what I thought, too. Somehow, I don't want to know what she did for colic or diaper rash.

Either way, it's amazing now that my son is getting his teeth what ideas people have for how to ease his pain. From frozen carrots to beef jerky and from Tylenol to homeopathics there are a lot of opinions out there.

Here is a cute little pic of my son's two bottom teeth. He is currently getting three teeth on the top at the same time. Poor little guy. If you have any tips for me on how to ease his distress, please let me know.
Here is an update for those of you following along.
July 20, 2010
As you can see from the pic on the left, the top three teeth are making their way through. Keep up the good work Jonas!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Baby Sleep-Sack

Over in Germany, all babies sleep in Schlafsรคcke or sleep-sacks. Since Jonas was born in Germany, he has gotten very used to sleeping in his sleep-sack. This worked very well until he was about 3 months old. Then he got too big… or should I say too tall. I couldn’t buy a bigger sleep-sack, because the arms and neck were too big, so I decided to make one myself with an extra lot of leg-room.

My first sleep-sack project was for winter and it was made from a piece of cotton material with soccer players on it for the outside(I figured he would still fit in this sack when the World Cup was on, not thinking that by that time, it would be way too hot) and a red towel for the lining. It was very thick and comfy and Jonas almost fell asleep as soon as I zipped in it.

My next project was a sleep-sack for summer. I made this one out of a bed sheet, a blue zipper, and used some blue embroidery thread to make it pretty. Now he can go to bed in just a diaper or T-shirt and still be covered no matter how much he flips around in his bed. The whole project (except for the decorative trim) only took an afternoon to make. Once you’ve made one, the rest are really simple and go fast.

Here’s the how to (some sewing skill is required as there are no pictures with these directions as I wrote them down after the fact. Sorry!):

1. If you don’t already have a sleep-sack to use as a pattern, lay down a baby-tanktop on a piece of newspaper on the middle fold and trace around the top of it. Then lay your baby down on the newspaper and make a line where the feet end. Fold your newspaper in half and draw a half of a pear starting at the armpit and stopping about 10 inches past the foot line (kinda like making those paper hearts in school out of a folded piece of paper). Now you can cut out your pattern and then fold it back so that your pattern is symmetrical. (Pattern A)

2. Cut out another pattern out of newspaper the same size. Cut this pattern in half vertically. (Pattern B)

3. Cut out two pieces of material using pattern A and four pieces using pattern B remembering to leave a quarter of an inch all around.

4. Lay the zipper down on the cut out pieces from pattern B and mark where the zipper ends. Now sew the top two B pieces together from this point down to the bottom of the sleep-sack. Then do the same for the bottom two B pieces for the lining.

5. Now sew the zipper into these two pieces. If you want to know how to make a seamless zipper, ask your grandma or one of the ladies at church. That’s how I did mine and it really wasn’t too hard.

6. Now the tricky part. Lay down the cut out A piece for the outside with the right side up. Now lay down the sewn-together B pieces with the right side (for the outside) down on top of the A piece. Now lay the other A piece for the lining with the right side down. This seems strange, but if you now sew around from armpit to armpit and the tops of the tank, you can actually fold the correct side back out and have a seamless inside. Yeah!

7. In order to keep the inside of the sleep-sack seamless, I just folded in the armpit and neck pieces, ironed them flat, and sewed them together. Now your sleep-sack has no hard edges for your baby to get upset about.

8. Finally, you can decorate your sleep-sack by adding trim or decorative elements. Finished!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Guacamole for Baby and Mama

Having grown up in Kansas, I never knew that not only do babies love avocados, they are also very healthy and good for them. I love guacamole and make it often, although my version is sweeter than what you get at most restaurants.

The other day I decided to make two kinds of guac, one for my husband and I and one for the baby. Since Jonas wants to try everything we have at the table, it was a great way for him to take part at dinner. You can see in the picture just how much fun he was having!

Here are the recipes:

Baby Guacamole

Half an avocado, a fourth of a banana, cilantro, a few drops of lime juice

1. Mash avocado together with banana until nice and mushy.

2. Add finely chopped cilantro and lime juice.

3. (Optional) Puree all ingredients until smooth

Mama and Papa Guacamole

2 avocados. 1 T brown sugar, cilantro, about 1/8 to 1/4 cup lime juice, some salt and pepper, a fourth of a red onion, a dash of cumin

1. Add all ingredients to a food processer or puree until smooth.

2. (Optional) Add finely cut tomatoes

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Flashcards of Family Members

Since my husband is German, our families are in two parts of the world. So that Jonas can remember who everybody is, I decided to make flashcards of family members with their photos. He's still a bit too young to recognize everyone, but that doesn't seem to bother him. He already loves the daddy flashcard and enjoys putting the flashcards all around the room.

How to:

Print out 5 x 7's of family members (crop the pictures so that it is just the heads). Paste photos onto construction paper. Then laminate and cut out. Finally, punch a hold in the corner so that you can easily put all of the cards on a shower curtain ring. Done!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Elephant Mobile

Elephant Mobile

This elephant mobile is one of the first baby crafts that I made. Matthias and I were about to move and I was going through all of my art stuff trying to figure out what I could throw away. Since I had still had a lot of leftover material from other projects, I decided to sew up these little elephants. I figured it would be a one afternoon project, but in the end, I did two and made about 8 little guys. They were really super easy.

Originally, I thought I would use all of the elephants for one mobile, but I only needed four. I took a cheap musical mobile, cut off the hanging animals, and hung up my elephants in their place. Very cute and Jonas loved the music. I attached an old plastic pearl chain at both ends to two more elephants and then hung them over the baby stroller so that Jonas had something to look at. The last two elephants ended up just hanging in his room on the wall.

This is really a great starter project, since you can’t mess it up.

Here’s the how to:

Take an index card and draw an elephant on it. Take another card and draw the ear. Cut out the ear and lay it on the elephant. Now draw a line where the ear should go on the elephant and then cut a slit through the index card. Now cut out the elephant. Your patterns are ready.

I used leftover material and some blue fleece. I used the fleece as the back of every elephant and for all of the ears. This way all of the elephants had something in common. Lay the elephant pattern on a piece of material and draw around it. When you cut out the elephant make sure to leave about a quarter inch. Make sure to also draw a line where the ear should go through the slit. Then cut out the elephant ears out of the fleece.

Now sew the ears on each of the elephant patterns making sure you sew it on the front of the material. I only sew the part where the ear attaches to the elephant so the ear can flop. Then put one fleece elephant and one material elephant together with the ears side touching. Sew all the way around leaving about one inch unsewn on the butt of the elephant. Then turn it all inside out. You might need to use a tweezers to pull the legs through.

Stuff the elephant with polyester filling. I use a pencil to stuff the fillng down into the legs and trunk. Then sew up the butt of the elephant. Add a tail with some yarn or embroidery thread and sew an X for an eye. Finished!