Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Homemade White Bread

My family loves bread. I love making bread for them. I make sometimes 4 loaves a week depending on what our meals are and who is here all day. I buy my flour and yeast in bulk at a local Amish whole foods store.

It has taken me about two years of baking and reading James Beard's Beard on Bread book to get my recipe exactly the way I like it and to really learn how to make bread. I never kneaded it long enough. I've found that if I've kneaded it long enough and had my water the correct temperature when adding to my yeast that it doesn't really matter what the temperature is, it will rise. 

I've used several different recipes and tweaked them to my own and am very happy with the results. Our bread doesn't typically last long here but in the rare case that it does, it will keep up to a week on the counter in a large ziploc bag. 

Homemade White Loaf Bread

1 tbs yeast
1 cup of warm water (110*)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar 
3 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2-3 cups of all purpose flour ( I use King Arthur Special) 

Add the warm water to the yeast and let sit for about 5 minutes until bubbly. Add in the salt, sugar, and olive oil and give a good stir before adding the flour one cup at a time. It depends on the moisture in the air as to how much I have to add, sometimes I've added almost one more cup than it calls for. Once its mixed together and forming a sticky ball you can turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is soft and sticky but doesn't stick to your hands, you may also notice some pockets of air bubbles which is also a good sign that you've kneaded it well. This usually takes me about 5-10 minutes. You can do all of this in a stand mixer if you want to eliminate all of the kneading by hand. You will come out with the same result but miss the arm workout! 
I place the ball of dough back into the same bowl and let rise until doubled with a kitchen towel covering to block the draft. 
Once it has risen, punch it down and knead it back into a ball. Oil your hands and a loaf pan with olive oil. Form the dough into a loaf and place in the pan and let rise to the top of the pan. 
Place in a cold oven. Turn oven on at 375* and bake for 25-30 minutes. When finished baking let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack. It slices best when completely cooled, but if you're impatient like me and have to slice into it right away just slice really slow with a serrated bread knife so that you don't tear the loaf. 

This recipe is easily doubled. If you do use a stand mixer be careful about doubling the recipe as there may not be enough room in the mixer bowl to knead the dough. You don't have to use a loaf pan, you can free form the dough into a round shape or a french loaf shape and cut slits in the top, I do this quite a bit as well. 
I find this to be a very easy recipe. A lot of people tend to be afraid of using yeast and therefore don't make their own bread. I think what the problem is, is they really aren't kneading the dough long enough or hard enough. Once you get the hang of it you can tell the exact second that it's kneaded enough just by the softness of the dough.

Go make a loaf and let me know what you think! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Pewter Christmas Treasure

I have an obsession with measuring cups and spoons. I love them, every single one I see. I use them all. The more unusual the better. Brightly colored, ceramic, plastic,and some of my favorites are pewter. 
I've always wanted a pewter set like Paula Deens. I visited Savannah a few years ago and we had dinner at The Lady and Son's Restaurant. I drooled over the sets of measuring cups/spoons in the gift shop and left empty handed because I just couldn't pay that much for them. 

This fall my mom went yard saling with a friend and found a cute set of measuring cups and spoons that were very much like the pewter ones that I have been drooling over for $10! I was perfectly fine with them being a Christmas present! 

Especially after I saw this! Tin Woodsman Pewter Co. was stamped on the bottom. I looked it up and it is now Crosby and Taylor, the makers of the exact set that I've been wanting forever! This set sells for $265!

They are in perfect shape. I can't imagine why anyone would ever get rid of them period, much less in a yard sale where they basically gave them away! 

Now I'm drooling over a few more pieces to go with them! Like a spoon rest and these adorable little salt pots and spoons! Pretty much anything from their site would be wonderful! 

I have to say that my family knows how much that I've wanted a set of pewter measuring spoons because I also received a set from my mother in law! 

Please excuse all of the Christmas mess! 
I've already been using them, actually I've found something every single day since Christmas to make just so that I can use them!  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Can Lid Chalkboard Banner

Hi! Welcome to Branderwood House! 

I have a confession, I can't throw anything away. I have to find some purpose for it. Even if that means it may sit in a box for quite some time before I come up with that purpose. Don't go looking around my basement because there are lots of those boxes sitting around! 
I'm also a canner. I love to can anything and everything! We use lots of beans in our meals but I'll save all of that for another post. When canning after you've used the lid it's done, you can't use it again. I've been saving them for a long time now because, well there had to be a reason other than to put it back on the clean jar to keep it clean until the next canning and I was going to figure it out one day! So after collecting stacks and stacks and thinking and thinking and searching and searching, all I could come up with was to use them as labels, garden markers, and ornaments. 
Then one day after I started falling in love with every bunting, banner and garland that I saw, it hit me MAKE A BANNER WITH THEM! And not just any kind of banner, A CHALK BOARD BANNER! 
Soooooooo, that's just what I did!

I started by making a hole at the top on each side. (sorry I don't have pictures of the steps)
 It worked easier to just hammer a nail to make the hole. You want to make sure that you use a large enough nail so that your twill, ribbon, twine etc will run through it easily. 

Then I primed them up with a coat of Rustoleum spray paint that I already had. For this the color doesn't really matter because its just to help the chalk board paint to stick. And Rustoleum is in my opinion the best at sticking to anything! I've used it to paint on glass, dishes, plastic and metal and it has never peeled off. 

I just laid them out on a drop cloth and sprayed the front. No need to do the back since it won't show, but you could if you wanted to, just make sure that you allow plenty of time for each side to dry completely before turning them so that they don't stick to the drop cloth and mess up the paint.


After they dried, I brushed on some chalk board paint that I had on hand (which is some that I purchased a while back for another project and it was Benjamin Moore) . I let that dry, then applied a second coat. 

I had some twill tape that I bought from twilltape.com a few years ago. You could use ribbon, twine, etc. But I liked the look of the twill tape and it worked perfectly for this!

I thought of every possible quote that I might would use on this to see how many lids I would need to use. Welcome, Merry Christmas, Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Birthday, etc, etc. I added a few extra just in case I found a new quote to use!

After the paint has dried then you are ready to assemble.
Lay them out in a row like they will be hanging.
 Cut your twill into 5" strips.
 You will run the twill from back to front on the top right hole on the first lid.
 The other end of the twill will go back to front on the second lid in the top left hole.

Then tie a bow.

Continue this until you have finished them all.

On the end pieces I just used one long piece of twill and made a loop to hang it with.

I love the look of it against my white fire place.

I hope that you all had a Merry Christmas!
 Next post I'll share some of the handmade Christmas presents that I gave this year. 

Monday, December 16, 2013


If you've read my Welcome to Branderwood House post, you know that we've only lived in our house just over a year.
 My husband and I are both from Virginia but his job transferred us to Atlanta for a few years and now back to Virginia. We were both ecstatic to be coming back closer to family especially after having a toddler and another little girl on the way! But what in the world was I thinking trying to move during all of that!
 I've been very successful with other moves in having my house completely the way I wanted it, pictures hung etc within a few weeks. That's just not been the case with this move. 
It honestly took me 4 months to hang the first picture! I hate blinds on the windows, but thankfully we had them because curtains were not made and hung for about 8-9 months. 
We had movers thankfully. But we had our floors refinished before moving in and they were not done in time for the movers, so that left boxes every where but where they were supposed to be! And the craft room boxes that I packed myself so that I could unpack myself were unpacked by the movers and laid in piles all over my basement. I cried for weeks maybe months over that one. Thanks to one of my best friends ever and one of the only people that I would ever let see that kind of mess, just a few weeks ago we got my room organized and sewing ready just in time for Christmas! No more sewing at the dining room table!!!!! 
On top of having a not so very helpful little helper with all of the unpacking, I was so incredibly pregnant, sick and everything else that comes with normal pregnancies. Then that little stinker was breech and was not going to turn, so baby number 4 was my first c-section. Man was that hard to handle! 

Now I'm on a mission to organize, decorate, sew, and craft my house into what I want it to be all while being wife, momma, baby chaser, cloth diaper changer and launderer, house keeper and chef! 

So let's get started!