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51  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Planter Bird Bath on: May 04, 2008 03:35:15 PM
I'm pretty sure I saw this in Parents magazine forever ago when I was working at a day care, but lately I've had the need to figure out fun, easy crafts to do with my roomie's three, seven and eight year old boys. My roomie and her husband are going through a really nasty divorce right now, and the boys are acting out a lot because of all the hostility. So, the more I can do to keep them busy and not paying attention to the fighting, plus get them talking with me about how they feel, the better. I used three plastic planters, about two dollars each from Dollar General, one of those big things that you put under the planter for water to drain into, duct tape, hot glue, and a "metallic" red spray paint that ended up not being metallic at all. The little one helped hold the planters while I hot glued them together. The older ones spray painted them, and said we should duct tape between the planters because they thought it would look good. The oldest one was afraid that the birds wouldn't know what this was for, and asked me to put "Drink Here" in side the bath part, and all three went through my craft supplies and got pieces of sea glass to dump in there so that it would be even prettier. I guess these photos are in WIP stage. The boys have since gone through my craft supplies again and we hot glued more sea glass, marbles and lady bug buttons all around the sides of it.

52  CROCHET / Projects from The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller / Bedfellows Bear - With action shot! on: May 03, 2008 04:47:33 PM
At 2 in the morning, I had the urge to crochet, so I started the bedfellows bear for my nephew, using Sugar and Cream cotton yarn. I passed out at 5, woke up at 10 and went at it again. 6pm, I had finished up the bear and took it over to my sister's house. For the first non headband thing I've crafted, I love it.

The action shot! A little bear for Little Bear!

53  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Strawberry Lemon Bread Braid - pic heavy - on: April 30, 2008 11:24:02 AM
Whee... first time posting up a topic for one of my projects. n.n;; nnneerrrrvooouuusssss but it's time to stop being a pervy lurker here in the food porn section. I love to cook with my roommate's kids. I love how we can stop and the older two and I work on math when measuring out everything and the three year old and I work on his color recognition. Before the decision to put them into day care, I was their nanny for a while, so seeing them get excited with the new projects and really willing to learn new things makes me happy. n.n

I found the recipe for the bread here: At zesteasy.com I'm really working on trying to learn what different ingredients do and how much is really needed for portioning so I can make my own recipes. Until then, I have to surf the nets for things. I did end up adding almond extract to the recipe, a few drops, and instead of a raspberry jam filling, I made lemon curd and mixed it with strawberry preserves. Tart! n.n

My first partner in crime (who was willing to help while the older two were immersed in Guitar Hero), seen here stirring together the milk mixture with the yeast that had already taken it's ten minute warm bath:

When the second one finally tore himself away from rocking out the house with some Pat Benatar, stirring in the flour had started to get a bit difficult for the little one. So his slightly stronger arms were employed for dough making:

When we'd gotten the dough up, the third was still more interested in Slow Ride than he was in cooking with us. We coated the dough with oil, very lightly and set it aside to rise. Apparently the oldest is very scent oriented, because I started to zest lemons and he came right in, wanting to smell the lemons more. So I put him to work zesting:

I'd started this venture after work, so by the time we got the lemons zested, the boys had to go to bed. I continued forward alone. Making the lemon curd, I don't have a metal bowl to set over a saucepan of simmering water, so I wrapped a steamer basket in foil and called that ghetto good enough:

By the time I had bottled the lemon curd and tossed it in the fridge, the dough had risen!

I cut, rolled and filled the strips, and braided them up:

this was the first time I've ever used an egg glaze, and didn't have a brush so I just kind of spooned it on. I wasn't really sure how this would all turn out, as it's only the second breadmaking attempt that I've ever done. But wouldn't you know it, about twenty minutes later, I pulled this out of the oven:

I drizzled honey over it and had a taste test:

Deeeeelicious! And how was it received the next morning?

EDIT: Zesteasy seems to no longer be there, so I dug up the recipe from where I'd written it down in my cookbook.

1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 envelope dry active yeast
1/4 c warm water
1 lg egg, beaten and room temp
4 c flour (more for rolling)
3/4 c filling
1 lg egg, beaten and mixed with 2 tbs water

1. Scald milk in a medium saucepan.
2. Add butter, sugar and salt. Remove from heat and let stand until butter melts.
3. In a small bowl, add yeast to warm water, stir to dissolve. Let stand 10 minutes.
4. Pour milk mixture into large mixing bowl, let cool to 105-115 degrees.
5. Add yeast and 1 beaten egg to milk mixture.
6. Stir in flour 1/2 c at a time to form a soft, slightly sticky dough.
7. Lightly grease a large bowl, add dough and turn to coat. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise about 2 hours.
8. Grease cookie sheets.
9. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth. (About two minutes)
10. Divide dough in half. Then divide each half into thirds.
11. Roll 3 pieces out into 18 inch ropes and flatten. Spoon chosen filling along length of each strip. Fold dough over to seal the ropes and brush the edges with water to help seal.
12. Braid the ropes together, pinching and tucking under the ends. Repeat with second half of the dough.
13. Place the bread braids onto the cookie sheet and cover again with kitchen towel. Let rise for 1 hour.
14. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush egg wash over loaves.
15. Bake until golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on bottom. (About 20-25 minutes)
16. Let cool and enjoy!

As far as fillings go, Strawberry and lemon from the original post was amazing, but I've also done apple cinnamon, peanut butter and jelly, bacon egg and cheese, and cream cheese and berries.
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