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Every month is bird-feeding month

Bird watching cornerMy friend Candace has a great post up on Naturally Educational about National Bird-feeding Month which is under way right now where she shares a great bunch of activities to do with your kiddos.

In our house, we feed the birds year-round and have a special bird-watching corner in our kitchen that I do my best to keep clear of junk (a never ending effort). It’s one of my favorite spots in our home, especially early in the morning when the rest of the family is still asleep and I have a few minutes with my coffee or tea.

Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I catch the birds watching me :-)

bird watching us

Experimenting with embroidery

Maggie's embroidery

I love how independent Maggie now. The other day she was bored and instead of asking me what to do for the zillionth time, she found herself a Klutz book called Simple Embroidery, browsed a bit, and then helped herself to everything she needed to get going. The only bit I provided was a crisp white hotel napkin to work on.

This awesome bird has been joined by a ladybug and several happy flowers.

Maggie exploring on her own = a happy mommy.

Maggie's embroidery

Spring’s on its way!

Spring is coming!

I just got my most awesome new camera strap from Erin over at House on Hill Road, and was inspired to head out to my snow laden garden to snap a few shots of melting snowmen. How happy do you think I was to discover these lovely bulbs popping up? Very! I’m assuming it’ll be crocuses (croci?), but the fun will be in heading out to see how they progress every morning.

I’ve been thumbing through my gardening books and catalogs, making my little plans for our vegetable & flower gardens this spring and summer. I can not wait to start planting! How about you?

Valentine’s Day craft round up

Paper heart garland

  1. Make sparkly heart ornaments
  2. Make easy heart toppers for red and pink pencils
  3. Make  Snow Globes with cupids and heart-shaped confetti
  4. Make magnified gem magnets with Valentime images
  5. Make a sweet-heart amulet with bits & pieces that remind you of your love
  6. Sew lavender sachets
  7. Make paper heart garlands
  8. Sew a holiday pennant with — just use heart patterned fabrics
  9. Sew a holiday quilt to snuggle under (another easy one is here)
  10. Make a Valentine’s Day book
  11. Make festive votive holders — just glue heart shapes
  12. Make embroidered pillows
  13. Make, and decorate, a pillow
  14. Make finger puppets in reds and pinks
  15. Bake a sweet Mazarine pie
    Mazarine pie
  16. Make a memory box to capture all the ways you love
  17. Make a paper bead bracelet for your love

Tomas’ bread & pizza dough recipe

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Ingredients:
3 cups of water (mix half hot from a kettle and half cold from tap)
1 tbsp active dry yeast
6.5 cups of flour
1.5 tbsp salt

In a large bowl, add the 3 cups of lukewarm water. Stir in 1 tablespoon of yeast. I usually buy the yeast in a jar, most supermarkets have one or two brands in the baking isle. If you have the yeast packets, use two of those.

Now add all the flour and sprinkle the salt on top. Now the fun part. Make a claw with your mixing hand, and dip it right into the middle of the flour, to the bottom. With your fingers spread apart start mixing in circles. It’ll be rather gooey. Continue mixing and scraping the sides with your fingers for about a minute until all the dry flour is incorporated into the liquid, and the dough comes away from the sides. That’s it! You’ll need to scrape the remaining dough off your fingers.

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Now wash your hands (cleanliness is next to Godliness) and cover the bowl either with a damp dish towel or plastic wrap. Put bowl in a non-drafty place. Let rise for at least one hour or for as long as you wish.

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When you’re ready to bake, if you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven, and pre-heat oven to 450F.

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Flour a large cutting board and pour the wet yeast out onto the board.

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Sprinkle some more flour on the dough and flatten it. Fold in the sides, flatten again and repeat a few times until it feels a little firmer.

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Shape it into a ball or a long loaf.
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Cut the dough into two pieces and place on a well floured cutting board or a pizza paddle and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.

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After 20-30 mintues, the oven should be pre-heated and the dough should have risen a bit.

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Open the oven and slide the dough onto the pizza stone. You can also try to lift the dough with your hands and dump it on, but that can be a bit tricky. If you want you can slice some gashes into the top of the dough at this point, though it’s not necessary. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

You know it’s done when you lift the bread up and knock on the bottom and it makes a thunking sound, like when you bonk the side of your skull. If the bread is getting too dark or burnt, you can cover it with aluminum foil or lower the heat to 350F. Every oven is different.

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For Pizza
I just use my bread recipe and sometimes add a tablespoon or two of honey to the dough.

Divide the dough in two, and cover one with the cloth. Now divide the remaining piece into eight, for individual size pizzas. Knead and pinch each one until it forms a little ball. Cover. Repeat with the other half. If you need to save these, you can store them each in plastic wrap that’s twisted shut, in the fridge. When you’re ready to use, just roll them out on a well floured pizza paddle.

That’s it!