Monday, November 28, 2011

Pumpkin Dinner for One

The bounty of the pumpkins continues! Unfortunately, I end up eating many of my dinners alone. I truly enjoy cooking, I just do not find it satisfying to do so for one person. Breakfast burritos and quesadillas, although tasty,  form a larger part of my diet than they should. Enter the single serving Pyrex dish (dun, dun, DUN...or yum, yum YUM). I simply layered cooked pumpkin, black beans, salsa, and cheese in this delicious casserole for one. After cooking in the oven at 350 for about 25 minutes, I let the dish cool for a few minutes before consuming it with tortilla chips. Easy and delicious.

Do you have any other pumpkin or black bean recipes? I have an excess of both and crave your suggestions.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Deliciousness

The pumpkin fairy visited us this year. Five times. Even though only one of these pumpkins grew on my pumpkin plant, we have embraced this bounty with open arms. One of these days I will do a how-to for scraping tasty pumpkin goods from your good friend Jack O. Lantern, but today I want to share my cinnamon swirl pumpkin bread recipe I modified from King Arthur

1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 1/2 cups (ish) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1) Combine the yeast in with the warm water and brown sugar. Let the mixture sit until the yeast is foamy.

2) In the meantime, mix the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, pumpkin, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. Fold in the yeast mixture. 

3) Add flour until the dough is no longer sticky and you can easily knead it.

4) Place the dough in a warm place and let it rise for an hour or until it doubles. Sarah Tip: If you don't have a warm spot to keep your dough, set your oven to 200 degrees while you mix the dough. Put the dough in an oven safe glass dish and put it in the oven. Make sure you turn the oven off while you let the dough rise. And then go watch an episode of Biggest Loser. This is essential to the flavor of this bread. And it will keep you from eating all of it once it is out of the oven.

5) After the dough has risen, give it the ole karate chop (this is my favorite part). This is where two paths diverge in a yellow, pumpkin-ey wood. You can form loaves (all told I got three loaves of bread from this batch) and rolls. Or you can make the awesomeness that is Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread. Separate a loaf sized piece of dough. Go dust off your rolling pin (its the Christmas season, time to give that baby a workout). Roll the dough out on a flour surface. Keep the width of the dough at the length of your loaf pan. Your dough should be roughly an inch thick. Spread a very thin layer of butter over the dough (although you could probably leave this out) and then a healthy layer of cinnamon. If you're a cinnamon fiend like I am, the more the better. Now you are ready to roll the dough up and plop her in your greased loaf pan. Let the loaves rise for 30-45 minutes.

6) Cook for about 30 minutes, or until it is golden brown. 

Slice 'er up and chow down (ok, maybe this is my favorite part). I also think this bread would be phenomenal as french toast. Try it and let me know!

Thankful for Stillness

Winter is a season of stillness. The dampening snow draws us back to slow motion and contemplation. In these moments, let us be thankful. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nifty and Thrifty

Happy Monday! I hope you had spectacular weekend. I gave myself a little "craftcation", during which I sequestered myself at home and worked on a soon to be unveiled project. It was heavenly, but I am a little sore! How is that for a teaser?

Today, I want to share with you a little project that makes me smile every day. A while back, I posted some wine bottle art that I keep on my windowsill. It was a simple project that brightens up my kitchen and reminds me to relax on a daily basis. I love this project for many reasons, but mostly because:
1) It was easy
2) Free (with the wine)
3) Green (both literally and figuratively)
4) Functional

Functional?! No, I am not opening a home winery. Yes, I have been known to stuff a flower stem or two down the wine bottles, but on most days this recycled sculpture looks like this:

See that little baggie? This is my Ziploc bag drying rack. I like to re-use my Ziploc bags (Tip #1: freezer bags last the longest). The practice saves me money and it is good for our little planet. Recycling baggies is a bit easier  for me to do since I grew up with the practice and in a place where brand new Ziplocs were typically reserved for guests and Christmas. I still like to just hold and feel a brand new Ziploc. Oops, I digress. I try not to use Ziplocs at all, but they are handy little things and this drying rack makes me feel a little less guilty for using them.

I love the wine bottle approach because the bags dry quickly (Tip 2: hang them inside out) and they don't get in the way like they used to when I just perched them on a knife in the dish drainer.

So there's your nifty, thrifty tip of the day. Save some money, brighten your windowsill, and enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Yes, it is true. This may be my third blog in less than four years. Let us put this in a little perspective, shall we? In the past four years I have:

  • Moved 5 times (if you count conservatively)
  • Answered 3 different e-mail address
  • Lived in 4 states
  • Answered to 2 different cell phone numbers
  • Owned 2 cars
  • Changed my Spacebook...I mean Facebook...profile picture 14 times
  • Held 7 different jobs
So yes, there is a fickle streak in my blood. But you have to admit, 14 pictures in 4 years is a verrrryyyy low number of Facebook pictures. All in all, my blog count is leading the pack of stability for the past 4 years. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. 

Hopefully I will have the patience to stick with this blog for a long while. I tell myself that the next time I feel the urge to pick up and move, I really should just re-decorate. You Google Readers, hit that original item link every now and again, will ya? 

Speaking of re-decorating, I anticipate that this blog will host a few more craft projects and DIY goodies than the last one. The current hand-made happiness to-do list includes:
  • Christmas presents
  • Christmas tree
  • coat rack
  • coffee table
  • wall art
Stay tuned for successes and successful failures!

In addition to blogging, this is a time in my year when work slows down and I get to hunker down to do fun things like read and cook rather than travel and sweat. I am excited about the stillness of winter, just not the cold. I plan on sharing these adventures as well. The hibernation to-do list:
  • Read:
    • Water for Elephants
    • Life among the Paiutes
    • Hunger Games
    • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
    • The Hours
  • Make
    • Pumpkin yeast bread
    • Christmas cookies
    • Palatable yoghurt 
What about you? What projects are in the works? Any book suggestions?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Art Therapy

To say that, through art, I have found a new strength and vitality within myself is an understatement. Art can be the one of the most vulnerable expressions of self--so vulnerable that sometimes I avoid it. But in those moments of vulnerability, I subconsciously tap into other insecurities and traumas that are somehow able to sort themselves out through the union of colors. It is as if my brain rewires itself through the click of a shutter and all is right with the world again.

Because of this, I found myself deeply resonating with Brian McCarty's War-Toys project. The photography project combines principles of art therapy and toys as children in the Middle East draw pictures of traumatic events in their lives. McCarty, with the child's help, then uses locally available toys to recreate and photograph the scenes.
My rendition of this poignant drawing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Welcome to Art-full living

Come with me a while. Sit with me a while. All that I have is time. -Sean Hayes

Welcome to a journey of landscapes; the broad horizons of the great outdoors and the gaping vistas of the ordinary. In all things, great and small, there is life and there is art. Welcome to one small tale of art-full living.