Friday, November 27, 2009

The Best Yeast Rolls Ever

I've been making these rolls for almost 40 years now and I think I've improved an already great recipe. You can make these rolls with 100% all purpose flour, 100% bread flour or part whole wheat flour and part bread or all purpose. The rolls in the picture were made with approximately 2 cups of whole wheat flour and the rest bread flour. If you use part whole wheat flour, add the whole wheat flour to the liquid mixture before the bread or all purpose flour and let it just sit and absorb the liquid for a few minutes before adding the rest of the flour. If you want to serve these rolls early in the day you can refrigerate the rolls in the last stage of rising after you've pinched them off and put them in the baking pan. They'll be ready to pop in the oven and take with you in no time. Obviously I've had plenty of opportunity to experiment with this recipe and I know what works and what doesn't. All you have to do to make these rolls as pretty as the ones in the picture is to invest a little time. If you do you're sure to start your own family tradition of yeast rolls.


2 packages of yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
1/3 cup oil (i use olive)
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
6 to 7 cups flour

Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water. In a large bowl, add remaining two cups of water, oil, sugar, salt and dissolved yeast mixture. Add enough flour to handle. Knead for about 15 minutes. Grease and cover. Let rise for several hours. Punch down and let rise again. Pinch off and make rolls. Let rise for about 35 or 40 minutes. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Now for some more tips. If you have a kitchen aid mixer you can do almost all of these steps with it. Dissolve the yeast in the kitchen aid mixer bowl, add the rest of the ingredients with the mixer attachment. When the dough starts getting thick attach the dough hook and mix until it forms a ball. I usually flour the countertop at this point and finish up with a little hand kneading until I get a nice elastic ball to work with. For less mess to clean up you can actually hand knead them right in the bowl. Just keep adding a little more flour when the dough gets sticky to touch. At this stage I transfer the dough ball to a good size bowl with high sides that has been oiled. I put the ball in the bowl and turn it over to oil the top of the ball. At this point you can cover the bowl with a towel, but I like the plastic bowl covers with elastic. Just place the bowl in a warm draft free spot and watch the magic. When I had a wood stove I would place the bowl on the hearth next to it, but an oven that's been turned on to warm for just a minute and turned off works just as well. In the summertime if you have a screened in porch you can sit the bowl out there when the weather is over 80. Good luck and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rainbows in the Morning

This is what I saw when I looked out my bathroom window Saturday morning. It was a lovely way to wake up and start my day! It looked like there was a spotlight highlighting the mountains and making them even lovelier with the addition of the rainbow. Since rainbows generally signify a promise of better things to come I took it as an omen that Saturday was going to be a good day. I started hearing Black Eyed Peas songs in my head and felt a lighter spring in my gait. There are worse ways you can start your day!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Race for the Cure 2009

Usually I support the Race for the Cure by just writing a check to my daughter to support her while she runs. This year having no job and more time than money, I decided to join her and participate. Never being one to half do anything I made a pink ribbon sweatshirt for myself and a coat for Bianca. Baxter(my grandpuppy) wore his pink polo and my daughter wore her Saving Second Base team shirt. If you've never participated in this great event, you should. It was very moving to see all these people out raising money to find a cure for this hideous disease. The atmosphere was so positive and the weather was truly a gift from God. It made you think with all this positive energy that we were actually making a difference. I know it inspired me to give even more.Even the starting/finish line was pink.

The Saving Second Base Team

And people say I go overboard.

There were two precious yorkies in this stroller. I had to give this lady my card. Anybody that loves their babies this much needs custom clothes for them.

Me and my girls.

One of my favorite teams, Thanks for the Mammaries.

There was all variety of attire. I never did quite figure this one out.

It was very moving to see 4200 people strong supporting this cause. Next I want to volunteer Habitat for Humanity. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Zen Moments

Everyone needs a zen moment now and then and fortunately I've had lots of opportunities in the last few years for those moments. This picture was taken on a lovely spring morning at Dupont State Forest in North Carolina. We had spent the night in a quaint bed and breakfast very near the park and hiked to this waterfall immediately after breakfast. I've been an early riser most of my life and it definitely has its advantages. There was no one else in the park except for the wildlife. While David was off taking hundreds of pictures, I just sat and enjoyed the mist of the waterfall hitting my face. Ahhhhhhhh!
Eventually I did get up and explore the rest of the waterfall. We climbed to the very top of this triple fall waterfall that day. Great day!

There are all types of Zen and this is Miss Bianca's type. She lives to go camping and hiking. This picture is of the bridge leading from the campground at Hungry Mother Park in Virginia over to the lake. We wore out the path around the lake on this trip.

This picture is of a perfect day on Roan Mountain. Part of Roan Mountain is in Tennessee and part of it is in North Carolina. The spot we're sitting on in the picture is in North Carolina. It was the first time Bianca had gone hiking and she took to it like a pro. I was trying to teach her how to enjoy the moment, but as you can tell from the picture she was more interested in hiking more than enjoying the view. I hope these pictures have given you a moment of zen in your busy day and inspired you to take a moment to enjoy today.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My blog sort of wrote itself today, thanks to an email from my ex husband. Ten years later, it still feels strange to write ex in front of husband. I never thought I'd ever be a person who would get a divorce. Life takes some strange bends sometimes and you just have to lean into them to make it to the other side. He'll appreciate the motorcycle analogy, I hope. He sent me a copy of this newspaper article that I think bears sharing. My only footnote is that I hope he's forgiven me with all the other people on his list. I hope this makes your day lighter and your life better.

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written.
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month..
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first pay cheque.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion, Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Crabtree Falls

I've always thought waterfalls were a magical place. I know, I know it's just gravity pulling water over some rocks. At least that's what the practical side of my brain says, but the other side of my brain knows they are so much more. I know waterfalls helped me heal what was broken inside me while I was reeling from a divorce. And they absolutely helped me find the man I was supposed to be on this planet with. So, I keep being drawn to these magical places all over the planet. Whether it's Maui, Yellowstone or just someplace close to home in Appalachia, I'm drawn as if the water was magnetically charged. If I were to analyze the draw to these spiritual places, I'd have to say that they are simply a place of peace for me. A place to slow down and take stock of what's important in life, and what's not. A place to do nothing but enjoy watching the butterflies play in the mist, dancing in and out of the rainbows. A place to know that sometimes that's all you need in life for the moment, and the right person beside you.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Just a Swangin'

The paint had barely dried on the deck and swing and the new cushion made before Miss Bianca jumped up to try it out for size and comfort. She already thinks that the wicker chaise is hers and goes out every morning to take her place on her thrown to rein over her domain. She has a dog door that lets her come and go from my sewing room onto the covered deck to enjoy being outside whenever she feels like it. In my next life, I want to come back as my

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Proud Mother

I know it's well after Mother's Day, but a friends blog gave me inspiration for a long overdue blog. I know it's hard to tell in the picture above, but the very attractive lady in the picture above is my amazing daughter. I have to pinch myself daily to believe that my sweet little curly haired girl grew up to save lives on this helicopter and in the ICU of our local hospital. Now, this isn't amazing because I don't believe in my daughters heroism or intelligence, it's amazing because she had the biggest wuss in the world for a mother. She was a head strong tomboy, born with no fear, who loved to climb trees and ride motorbikes on our large property. These hobbies brought her to the screen door dripping in blood many times. It didn't take her long to figure out that she should call for help from her dad, not her mom, because mom had no stomach for blood. Her own, or anybody elses. Then or now.

Favorite (and only) daughter is fourth from the left in this picture, looking very proud, as she should be. She says this is her proudest accomplishment, landing the job on this helicopter. I prefer to think it's her bachelor degree that she moved five hours away from everything and everyone she loved, except for me, to work for. Moving back in with Mom after being out in the world on her own to be able to afford to go back to school. Now, I'm not going to pretend this was easy for either one of us, but in a strange way it made us closer and respect each other even more for the women we had worked so hard to become. As she prepares to pursue her Masters Degree this fall, she gives this mother even more reason to be proud. I know, all mothers say they just want their offspring to grow up to be happy and productive human beings, but it doesn't hurt if the offspring grows up to make the world a better place in the process!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Time for the Important Things

One thing being happily unemployed has done for me is give me plenty of time to do all the things I never had time to do while being employed outside the home. Mostly it's given me plenty of time to make lists of the things that I want to do with that time. On the top of the list was to master making a good loaf of sourdough bread. Since the last few loaves of sourdough bread we purchased were around five dollars, I had plenty of incentive for this project. Little did I know I would be dedicating a full week of my life to this first loaf of bread. Consulting my favorite bread book I learned that the first step in this process was to make a starter. Since there are dozens of types of starters, this step was daunting. I finally settled on trying two types of starters, one with honey and one with yogurt. I also decided I wanted to make a whole wheat sourdough bread to make this bread as healthy as I could. The yogurt starter was created with no drama, the honey starter was a different story. The directions said to use a two quart jar as a container for the starter. Obviously, the bread book needs some editing because the starter erupted like a volcano and ran all over, creating a huge mess. With the mess cleaned up, all that was left to do was give the starter time to do its job. I stirred the starter once a day and finally on the seventh day I was excited to actually get started making the bread. Much to my chagrine, after consulting my bread book for the next step, I learned there was yet another step to take before I could actually make bread. The next step is to make a sponge out of the starter and give the sponge twenty four hours to work its magic. Finally, yesterday I got to make the first two loaves of bread. The culmination of all this work was not the most beautiful loaf of bread ever made, but it certainly tasted wonderful buttered with the satisfaction that it was made with a week of my work and time. Just like any work in progress, with time and experience I have a feeling I may be on the road to something great.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Satisfaction of Completion

I've always gotten a great deal of satisfaction out of finishing something. Whether it's a bottle of shampoo or a sewing project, there's always that moment of pleasure knowing I've actually stuck with it until the end. Those of you who know me personally know I constantly struggle with focus. Sometimes there are just too many distracting things in this wonderful world that I find it hard to stick with anything long enough to actually reap the benefits of completion. For the past week I've looked out my kitchen window and instead of seeing the beautiful mountain view my gaze usually settles on, I saw a half completed deck staining. My husband had painted the flat part of the deck on a lovely cool day, but had not painted the railing and door. The railing easily has 75 to 100 small spindles requiring paint and a great deal of time. After over a week of solid rain and no opportunity to finish the job, I decided it was the perfect time to finish the job. It was the absolutely perfect spring day. Sunny, but cool with the most delicious breeze to keep the job from getting too warm. I don't broadcast this little tidbit about myself, but I actually enjoy painting. Especially the type of painting most people hate. The tedious trim part, like painting a jillion railing spindles! So I spent Mother's Day on my top deck, enjoying the mountain view and breeze, painting spindles and watching my husband plant sweet potatoes in our garden. This morning we have rain, again, but my view out my kitchen window is now one of satisfaction. Now to the bottom deck on the next day we have without rain!

Friday, May 1, 2009

My favorite way to sew is with nothing but a measuring tape, creating something totally unique that no other person on the planet has one exactly like. It's gets harder every year to cut out the large yardages required for these kinds of projects, so I'm reminding myself with this blog what I'm still capable of. A personal kick in the posterior to motivate myself to stretch and try new things. I did create a new design this week, but it was just a smaller version of one of my other designs to accomodate some of my more petite clients. Yes, it did require some brain power to make all the parts fit together well, but it wasn't exactly brain surgery. Elementary math at best. Not even a hint of algebra needed. I don't ever want my sewing to become mundane or ordinary, or God forbid....boring! That's the whole reason I wanted to make a living with my STOP doing the same thing everyday. I feel very blessed to be able to wake up everyday and do what makes me happy and have people pay me for the things I create. Some days I even have time to sit down and enjoy the things I've made like these two projects pictured in this blog. I'm finding out it's hard to pursue your passion AND stop and smell the roses. Moderation and balance is a lesson I've never learned I guess. Now I just have to decide if I really want to learn the lesson. It just might be time.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

In honor of all the mothers in the world I am offering free shipping for Mother's Day, including international shipping if your mother is out of the country! Just go to my website and pick out the purse you think your mom might like to receive. I have already adjusted the shipping on Etsy so you will only pay the price of the purse. This is at least a five dollar savings! This unique purse ergonomically disperses the weight of the items in the purse and is very easy on the back. Mom can carry anything she likes and it won't hurt her back. She'll thank you everytime she puts her purse on her shoulder!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lovely Flower, Lovely Life

I've learned so many things from my wonderful husband since meeting him, but one of the best things is just to simply slow down and observe the things around you. Whether I'm hiking in the woods or running errands around town, I now take the time to really live in the moment and absorb the universe around me. This past week while camping on Roan Mountain I looked down and saw this lovely pink trillium that is native to our East Tennessee region. Once I noticed this flower, I started seeing dozens all around the area. Some were white, some pink and some a magnificant deep purple. This was our third time camping in this park and the first time I had ever noticed these amazing flowers. They seemed to be bursting out of gravel and rocks, thriving in the most unlikely and barren looking setting. The analogy wasn't lost on me to my current jobless situation. Beautiful things can come out of the bleakest and barren of circumstances. The only variable is the amount of drive and persistence one makes up their mind to have.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Feeling very lucky today to have my second treasury on Etsy. It's not easy to get a treasury on Etsy to showcase listings, so I feel very blessed to have one two weeks in a row. I am blown away with all the local artistry in the East Tennessee area and wanted to show off some of that talent in this week's showcase. I don't know any of these talented individuals personally, I am just a great admirer of all their talents and even a customer of several of them. That's the hardest part about Etsy, not spending all the money you make there on all the beautiful things you find in other shops. When you're a creative person yourself, you recognize and appreciate how much must have gone into the creation of all the incredible items listed on Etsy. My favorites list of things I'd like to buy in the future is twice as big as my store! With my sewing being my only income now, I have to be very selective with how I spend the money I do have and some days it is very difficult to do. But when my store really takes off, watch out fellow Etsy artists!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

First Week Success

The first week for my sling bags on Etsy has been a great success. It's been very satisfying to have people discover this unique bag online and embrace it. People are buying them and showing them to their friends and relatives who are also buying them and reordering. I was told in person today that it was only a matter of time before I'm on QVC. That would be fine with me, but I may need a little help keeping up with those orders.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April Promotion

I'm so excited about my new purse design, I am featuring it in my Etsy shop this month. For every sling purse sold this month I am giving a free gift of either a quilted business card case or small zippered bag. I have also designed a unique zipper pull that says "made for you." Every zippered purse or bag that I sell will now have this special zipper pull to let everyone know your purse or bag was made just for you. Just click on the purse to the right and check out my new design. I'd be glad to make one of these special purses just for you.

Monday, April 6, 2009

What happened to Spring?

I can't believe it was 78 here yesterday and the forecast includes snow today. What a roller coaster this spring has been here in East Tennessee this year. A little like my life this year. The analogy is hard to miss. Life can change in an East Tennessee moment, that's for sure. Good thing I like change because that's all life is at the moment. I start everyday with a list of all the positive things in my life that day. Today's positive is that bad weather encourages me to stay in and get a lot of sewing done. Since tomorrow's forecast is just as bad, I'm going to have lots of time to catch up on all my orders!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sold my first sling purse last night. That's a great sequel to my previous post. It feels really nice to have someone appreciate the results of your creative process. I'm learning that the most difficult part of marketing yourself is getting your name out there and keeping it there. It's an ongoing process that I have to keep my finger on while simultaneously designing and creating. Not to mention learning the ins and outs of the Etsy world and having my laptop be a fifth appendage. Still, my worse day in my studio is better than my best day at my old job.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Purse Completed

It's very satisfying to come up with an idea, let it roll around in your brain for a while, tweak and improve it and finally see it culminate to a completed project. That's why Monday was a great day for me. It was the day I finally finished that process and could sit back and look at my work. My new purse is the result of months of trying to come up with an easier and more practical sewing process to create a better product. I already knew that the style of purse would be popular, people had been asking me for months to make them a version of the purse I was carrying. I hummed and hawed and overpriced the purse, just so I wouldn't actually have to go through the excrutiating process that making the first purse had been. It was very difficult because I had made the entire purse on the serger. I have since learned that all the tight curves on this purse aren't condusive to the serger. One day recently in the bathtub (my think tank) it occurred to me that a combination of the serger and the sewing machine would actually make this purse possible and still have hair left when I was finished. Long story short, I'm making my sixth purse this morning and have two more cut out to finish later today. I have been able to lower the price of the purse and am actually enjoying making them. Who knew that the purse that had started out as a pain reliever would actually turn out to be my saving grace. The blue purse in the picture below is the first purse I've listed on Etsy in this style. Check it out and look for lots more in the future.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Yeah! Mailed my first Etsy sale today. Hope it's the first of many to come. It's too pretty to sew here in Tennessee today. The absolute perfect spring day. I spent it mailing my first sale and depositing checks from my sewing in the bank. My car wouldn't pass T J Maxx without pulling in the parking lot, though. It must have come programmed to do that. Found a really different quilt that I can't wait to make something out of. I've been designing a new bag in my head today that will be sewn and added in the next few days to my Etsy shop, so keep an eye out.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Yea, Springtime!

Thank goodness for springtime and my swing on the back porch. Yes, I made it, I'm excited to be starting my new Etsy online sewing business! I've wanted for years to be able to sew all day and Citigroup was nice enough to terminate my position two weeks ago and allow me that time. I choose to make lemonade out of their lemons and sew off into the sunset. Please check out my store at to see what I've been up to lately.