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Archive for the ‘In The Kitchen’ Category

Homemade Bubble soultion and Bubble Wands Yipee! Charlotte’s coming over and we’re going to have some bubble fun. I’ve got everything all set: homemade bubble solution that creates super-duper large bubbles, homemade bubble-making devices, and some gadgets from my kitchen with which to experiment. Who do you think is going to have more fun playing with bubbles, little Charlotte or me?

Basic Bubble Solution
Recipe from the Unbelievable Bubble Book by John Cassidy

INGREDIENTS
Bubble Solution
1 clean container/pail
1 cup Joy or Dawn dish detergent (no substitutions)
3 to 4 tablespoons glycerin (can be purchased at a drugstore)
10 cups clean, cold water (up to 50% more on dry days)

DIRECTIONS
1. Measure 10 cups of water into the pail.

2. Add 1 cup Joy or Dawn dish soap.

3. Add glycerin. In most atmospheres, it makes the bubbles more durable by reducing evaporation.

4. Stir, but not too much. You don’t want froth on the top because it tends to break the bubbles. If you get any, skim it off with your hand.

5. Gather or make any wand materials.

6. Pour bubble solution into non-breakable shallow containers such as pie pans, baking pans, dish pans, depending on the size of your bubble wands.

7. Select a wand, dip it in solution, and let excess solution drip off.

Possible Bubble Wands
Homemade Bubble Wands
1. Straws and String: thread a string through two straws and tie a knot at the ends. Move the knot until it is hidden inside one of the straws.

2. Water Bottle and Sock: cut the bottom of the bottle off. Place a sock over the cut edge and secure with a rubber band.

3. Assorted Cans: cut the tops and bottoms cut off. Make sure there are no sharp edges. If there are, you can either tape the edges with duct tape or file/sand them off.

3. 2-liter Soda Bottles: cut bottom cut off and tape bottom edge if there are any sharp jagged edges.

4. Wire Coat Hangers: bend them and form them into different shapes. I bent the handle up at a 90 degree angle to make it easier to dip.

5. Pipe Cleaners: bend them into different shapes. These are a little messy to use, since the fibers pickup a lot of excess solution.

6. Kitchen Colanders and Sieves

7. Strawberry Baskets

8. Hula Hoop: for BIG-time fun, fill a wading pool with an inch or two of solution and use a hula hoop as a wand. An alternative to this is to have the child carefully step into the pool in the middle of the hula hoop. Very slowly lift the hula hoop up from the solution, until the child is in the middle of the bubble.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Safety first: bubble activities should always be supervised. Bubble solution is slick and slippery. If any bubble solution gets on the floor, make sure that it does not become a slipping hazard.

2. Make sure that any solution is rinsed off of children’s hands before they touch their face, particularly their eyes.

3. Check for any sharp edges on any homemade wands or kitchen gadgets.

4. The sky’s the limit when it comes to bubble fun. Use your imagination.

Homemade Bubble soultion and Bubble Wands

Have fun!

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August 14, 2015 Edition Resembling a drunk, my granddaughter Charlotte teeters back and forth on unsteady legs as she walks towards me. Deciding to carry the largest and heaviest toy in the room, she makes frequent balance adjustments as she plows her way through a minefield of toys on the floor. I smile at the scrunched-up-nose grin on her face; that happy grin appears during moments when she is most proud of herself. “Slow down little one,” I say to her, not wanting her to fall, but, in a grander sense, not wanting her to grow up too fast. Although she’s not quite a year old, it’s hard for me to remember what life was like before this precious bundle of joy blessed it.

#1 – Stop Complaining!
How to Complain Less Some days I watch Charlotte for 15 hours straight, but I’m not complaining. I consider myself lucky that I’m physically able to do it and that my son and daughter-in-law trust me enough to care for their child. The act of complaining zaps the joy out of life, so stop complaining or at least do it less frequently. Read What It’s Like To Go Without Complaining For a Month and learn a few tips on how to complain less.

#2 – Coloring Stress Away
25 Free Coloring Pages Back in the “good ol’ days” before the invention of televisions, computers, and cell phones, kids would entertain themselves by coloring in their favorite coloring books. Remember the happy feeling you had after buying a new box of crayons and a new coloring book? Regain that happy and carefree feeling of being lost in art as you color away your day’s stress. Check out The Country Chic Cottage’s list of free coloring pages. Coloring is not just for kids!

#3 – Salads in a Jar
20 Recipes for Salads in a Jar Vacations are over. It’s back to school or back to work we go. And that usually means back to routines. Break the monotony of bag lunches by taking out unappetizing sandwiches and substituting tantalizing salads. Better yet, make the salads ahead of time in a jar and the next morning grab a jar and go. These 20 Mason Jar Salads to Pack for Lunch will give you a few recipe ideas for next week.

#4 – Admiring Glass
#0 Most Amazing Glass Artists Alive Today One would think that glass is a cold and lifeless medium, but not in the hands of these 30 Most Amazing Glass Artists Alive Today. In their hands molten glass solidifies to become expressions of emotions and beauty. Ikuta Niyoko, one of the artists featured in the article, says this of her work, “My motifs are derived from feelings of gentleness and harshness, fear, limitless expansion experienced through contact with nature, images from music, ethnic conflict, the heart affected by joy and anger, and prayer.”

#5 – Be Surprised
“We get a limited number of milestones in life, but we never run out of opportunities to be surprised by joy.”
Connie Schultz

Now go and spread joy!

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July 17, 2015 Edition Under silhouettes of tree canopies and a summer sky sprinkled with shooting stars, I swim laps in the dark tranquil water of my pool. My strokes, while unrefined, transport me back and forth, during what I call my hour of peace. House lights, patio lights, and even pool lights are flicked off. Only the stars, the moon, and surrounding ambient light illuminate my way. But for the faint strains of favorite music playing in the background, the quiet rippling of water soothes the tension of busy days. Every night while I float serenely on my back and admire the view above, I thank my lucky stars for having lived another day.

#1 – Stargazing
Star Gazing Calendar Decades ago, when I moved into my current home and when ambient light from auto malls, shopping centers, and the like did not exist, my husband, my children, and I would take advantage of our steep driveway and place sleeping bags on it to stargaze. Our driveway became our amphitheater to the sky. If you enjoy stargazing, don’t miss out on exciting upcoming celestial events. Here are 3 sites that will keep you informed. For a quick preview, click on the photo above to learn about events in July and August:

Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events
Skywatching in 2015: 9 Must-See Stargazing Events
Weekly Stargazing Tips

#2 – Wet Workouts
Although swimming under the stars is one of my favorite things to do, I also use my swimming pool to get additional exercise. Below are two great videos that show a variety of exercises you can do in a pool.
Calorie-Burning Pool Moves:

Tighten Your Abs in the Pool:

#3 – Playing With Food
Carl Warner's Incredible Foodscapes What if the water in your swimming pool were really blue jello and the trees providing you that lovely little bit of shade were made of parsley and ginger root? Carl Warner, a London-based photographer creates incredible landscapes using food. In his world, loaves of bread create mountains, celery stalks form a verdant forest, and romanesco becomes undersea coral. The ingredients in these detailed “foodscapes” don’t go to waste either. He or his crew take the food home and eat it or they donate it to a homeless shelter.

#4 – Naturally-Flavored Water
10 Natural Flavored Waters Why drink plain water when you can sip refreshing naturally-flavored water? Check out the tantalizing combinations in 10 Natural Flavored Water Recipes.

#5 – Lose to Find
Swimming Inspiration

Now go and spread joy!

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July 10, 2015 Edition Buster dashes through the opened front door, runs past the kitchen filled with delicious aromas, and heads straight to the back door. He longingly stares through the glass panes of the door and then begins to bark loudly. Buster wants to go swimming. No gentle licks of hello or nudges to be petted; he is a dog on a mission. Playing fetch with his water bumper in the pool brings him so much joy. Dogs appreciate the simple things in life. We should take lessons from them.

#1 – Simply Genius
This cooking technique found on GoodHomeDIY is simply genius. The onion ring not only holds the egg in a round-shape while cooking, but it also imparts additional flavor. Round-Shaped Eggs

#2 – Must Read
Looking for some good books to read? It can be as simple as checking out Buzzfeed’s list of 53 Books You Won’t Be Able To Put Down. Must Read Reading List

#3 – Box Templates
Making your own boxes may not seem like a simple process, but it brings such a sense of accomplishment when you are finished and have a beautiful box perfectly suited for its contents. Take a look at the variety of box and bag templates offered for free on Template Maker. Template Maker

#4 – Look Me In The Thighs
Women's Thighs: One Word 25 brave women between the ages of 20 and 70 bared their thighs and then, using one word, described them. This is not a desirable or pleasant task for most women, but the descriptions by these women are simply honest and revealing. Read 25 Women Bare Their Gloriously Unretouched Thighs — And Describe Them In One Word and immediately start appreciating your thighs more.

#5 – The Simple Life
To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter . . . to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~John Burroughs

Now go and spread joy!

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Firecracker Ice Pops Sweet ripe berries of summer combine with wholesome yogurt to create swirling frozen treats. These ice pops will refresh you even on the hottest days of summer. They’re pretty good at soothing the mouths of teething baby granddaughters too!*

Firecracker Ice Pops
Martha Stewart

INGREDIENTS
1/2 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered (1½ cups)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 pound blueberries (1½ cups)
1¼ cups low-fat plain yogurt

DIRECTIONS
1. In a food processor, purée strawberries with 1 tablespoon sugar. Transfer to a small bowl.

2. In processor, purée blueberries with 1 tablespoon sugar.

3. In another small bowl, whisk together yogurt and 2 tablespoons sugar.

4. Pour the 3 mixtures, alternating, into ten 3-ounce ice-pop molds, making 3 to 5 layers in each.

5. With a skewer or thin-bladed knife, swirl mixtures together in an up-and-down motion.

6. Insert ice-pop sticks and freeze until solid, 2½ to 3 hours (or up to 1 week).

Cook’s Notes: for tropical pops, use 4 kiwis and 1 large mango (about 1/2 pound each) instead of the berries.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Taste your fruit before adding any sugar. There’s no reason to add extra sugar, if the fruit is already sweet.

2. I used nonfat plain yogurt, because that is what I had on hand. The pops turned out fine without the additional fat.

3. My ice pop molds are smaller, so I was able to get a dozen pops from one batch of recipe.

4. *These pops are great for teething babies, providing that your baby is able to eat dairy products.

Enjoy!

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May 29, 2015 Edition In a center that provides services for women and children in need, a small floral bouquet sits in a vase. Sunlight streams in from a window and illuminates a rose, making its outer petals glow. Incredibly, this beautiful example of nature transforms an old fire station, which houses the center, into a cozy and joyful place. Joy is everywhere, if you look for it. It’s in the little things in life.

#1 – Spread Joy
Finding joy makes for a life of never-ending gratitude. Don’t limit yourself to just looking for joy, however. How about spreading some? Here is a little booklet that lists 150 Ways to Spread Joy. Indeed, what goes around, comes around.Spreading Joy

#2 – Kitchen Help
Kitchen Infographics Imagine my joy when I found all of these cooking infographics on one site! Almost everything anyone needs to know about cooking and baking can be found on one of these 25 Must-See Diagrams That Will Make Cooking Super Easy.

#3 – Norway Calls
27 Reasons Why You Must Visit Norway
After looking at the photos in 27 Reasons Why You Must Visit Norway in 2015, I had to add another country to my bucket list. I’m positive there must be more than 27 reasons to visit Norway!

#4 – Starfish Story
Starfish Story This story speaks of the power of one. We each possess the power to enact positive change in the world:

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

Adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

#5 – Joy
“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.”
Karl Barth

Now go and spread joy!

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Chunky Lola Cookies The lyrics from the Broadway song, “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets,” plays in my head while I make these cookies. In the musical Damn Yankees, Lola is a seductress hired by the devil. I don’t have a clue who the Chunky Lola of this famous recipe is, but she must be a seductress in her own right to have a devilishly delicious cookie named after her. With its dark chocolate chunks, sweet coconut, crunchy toasted pecans, and chewy oats, this cookie is so exceptional that you’ll say “the devil made me do it” as you reach for another one!

Chunky Lola Cookies
Recipe by Joanne Chang, owner and pastry chef at
Flour Bakery + Cafe

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (1-3/8 sticks/156 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups (175 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (70 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
9 ounces (255 grams) bittersweet chocolate (62 to 70 percent cacao), chopped into ½-inch pieces
1¼ cups (125 grams) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
1 cup (120 grams) sweetened shredded coconut

DIRECTIONS
1. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer or wooden spoon), cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy. (This step will take about 10 minutes if using a handheld mixer or spoon.) Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and the paddle as necessary.

2. Beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl and paddle again to make sure the eggs are completely incorporated.

3. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate, pecans, and coconut and toss to combine.

4. On low speed (or with wooden spoon), slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and then mix just until the flour mixture is totally incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed.

5. For the best results, scrape the dough into an airtight container and let rest in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 3 to 4 hours) before baking.

6. When ready to bake, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350℉.

7. Drop the dough in ¼-cup balls onto parchment paper or Silpat lined baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.

8. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown on the edges and slightly soft in the center. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are cool enough to remove with a spatula. Then transfer them directly to the wire rack to cool completely, or enjoy them warm.

9. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. The unbaked dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Makes approximately 18 large cookies

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. As Joanne Chang recommends, I weighed the ingredients that had weight equivalents listed.

2. I used Plugra unsalted butter and Lindt 70% Cocoa Smooth Dark chocolate with superior results.

3. I appreciate the notes that the author includes in her cookbook. Most of us home bakers do not cream butter and sugar together long enough. Of that Chang says, It’s best to beat together the butter and sugar for longer than you might think: as long as 6 to 8 minutes on medium speed with a stand mixer in some cases. Watch for the transformation from a yellow, sandy mixture to an ivory, fluffy mixture—the sign that you have properly creamed them together. When you are creaming butter with brown sugar, you’ll see the mixture go from muddy looking to pale brown, and creamy.

4. Even though I refrigerated the dough overnight, the cookies still spread quite a bit. To prevent the cookies from touching as they bake, next time I will space them farther apart than specified or make the dough balls smaller.

5. This cookie recipe is a 10 in my mind. However, because it requires a minimum of 3 to 4 hours of chilling time, it is not a cookie you can make in the spur of the moment.

Enjoy!

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