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201  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Polymer Clay: Completed Projects / Sphynx Cat Shrine on: August 09, 2010 03:38:36 PM
This is my second polymer clay project.  My first was 15 years ago when I made some play food with my daughter when she was young.  I had a clay play day yesterday with my friend Lora Mahaffey, an extremely gifted artist who is currently working in polymer clay.  I made this shrine using the techniques she taught me.  It's going to my daughter, for her cat Binx.  It's made of stamped white polymer clay 'tiles' that have been painted and coated with mica powders.  It's mounted on a painted 3"x5" wooden base and is embellished with seed beads, crystals, a metal heart and a vintage flower button.  Lora got me hooked on this medium, I now need my own clay setup.  Must. Get. Supplies.  

202  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Super Easy No-Knead Homemade Bread on: August 07, 2010 06:44:00 PM
I was afraid to make bread up until a few months ago, now I make it at least once a week using this incredibly easy no-knead method.  If you can stir, you can make this bread.  Here's the finished product, served with olive oil, our heirloom tomatoes, greenhouse cucumbers, genovese basil, my home made goat cheese drizzled with a mustard vinegarette.

Let's get started... The ingredients are easy:
4 cups of warm (105-115 degrees F) water
7 cups of all purpose flour
1 package of yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 t. salt

Add the sugar and salt to your warm water.  Stir the yeast into this warm water mixture then let it sit for about 5 minutes.  It will become a little foamy on top, like this:

Stir the yeast mixture into 4 cups of the flour.  Stir in the final 3 cups of flour one at a time.

Cover and let it sit for 2 hours at room temperature.  I use my Tupperware cake taker upside down to make this dough.  You can also use a big bowl covered with aluminum foil.  After 2 hours, the dough has risen.  Don't punch it down, just pop it in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.  Here's what it looks like risen:

OK, at least 3 hours later - you're ready to bake it.  See how the dough fell while in the fridge?  It's OK, don't punch it down or anything.  Dust a pizza stone with corn meal.

This amount of dough will make four loaves.  I can get two onto my pizza stone at once.  Scoop out 1/4 of the dough at a time.  I use a plastic pastry scraper to scoop the dough out.  Just eyeball it, no need to measure.  Easy peasy.

Using floured hands, stretch your dough into a loaf shape and place it on the cornmeal - dusted pizza stone.  Since I bake two at a time, I just cover the remaining dough and put it back in the fridge to bake another day.  I've waited 5 days between bakings, and the second batch turned out as good as the first.

Let the dough sit on the pizza stone at room temp. for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.  As soon as the oven comes up to this temperature, drop it to 350 degrees then put your dough in the oven.  It will be done in 55 minutes.  Crusty on the outside and soft on the inside.  To. Die. For.

This bread freezes beautifully.  Take it out frozen and pop it in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes and it tastes fresh baked.  

You can do this, you know you want to!  Come bake with me.  It's delicious and your friends will be super impressed.  It's what's for dinner!

203  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Sustainable Gardening on: July 11, 2010 06:21:36 AM
We've had our hobby farm for a few years but this is the first year we've been able to manage more than just container plants.  We put in 12 raised beds, with 4 more planned.  My husband, who is a genius, built our greenhouse.  They delivered all the pieces on a flatbed trailer with no instructions.  That was a total freakout day!  We eventually received them, all 2 pages...  Anyhoo - one year later and we've got a functioning greenhouse.  We use it as a season extender, it's too expensive to run year round.  

We're growing hopi squash I received from a friend in New Mexico.  We harvested our first one this morning, can't wait to see how it tastes roasted.  

Our back deck is full of tomato, cucumber and hot pepper plants in pots.  

We also raise shiitake mushrooms. 

We have two hives of bees to keep everything pollinated.  The honey is a very nice benefit to keeping bees for pollination!

We also have a small herd of sheep and dairy goats.  I milk twice a day and make cheese every week.  Here is Beatrice right after being shorn.

We love our little farm, thanks for looking!
204  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Belly Dance Costumed Teddy Bear on: June 27, 2010 08:04:06 AM
I want to share an example of the tribal belly dance outfitted bears I made for all the members of my troupe.  I got the bears at Michaels and costumed them.  This one has yarn pigtails.  Don't you love her bindi?  The jewelry was fun to make.  She's got 3 necklaces and a bracelet.  I gave her an old pair of my own earrings to wear. 

I made her both a fringe belt and a tassel belt from yardage I found in the drapery section of my favorite fabric shop. 

Here's an earlier version.  This one has a turban.  She's wearing pantaloons under her skirt, and I made her tiny gungaroos (ankle bells). 

She's wearing a sequined fringe belt. 

Thanks for looking!
205  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / Master Bath Renovation Virginia Farmhouse on: June 19, 2010 06:15:59 AM
I am new to Craftster and this is my first attempt to post a project.  Here goes...

We just completed a reno of our master bathroom.  We've lived with this mess for five years, so it's been a long time coming!  The bathroom is plenty large, but has a bay window at one end.  The original owners had put wallpaper borders in almost every room.  We had borders with lighthouses, roosters, Toy Story, apples and in our master bathroom - black labradors.  One of the first things my husband did when we moved in was rip down those dogs.  Unfortunately, it took down some of the wallpaper in some areas and some of the drywall in others.  A mess!  The jetted tub was stained and the fixtures were corroded.  The floor tiles weren't properly installed.  They crunched underfoot when you walked on them.

Check out that lovely light fixture!

We started our planning with the dimensions of a two person soaking tub and the concept that we wanted an enclosed WC and a shower with no door.  We worked with a contractor on the layout, selected all the fixtures and 7 weeks later it was done.  

Here's the soaking tub with a stacked stone skirt.  The door to the right is the new WC room.  We splurged on a chandelier, and had the electrician put it on a dimmer switch.  

Our new vanity is a piece of furniture with a black granite top.  We purchased a hard wired lighted makeup mirror and had our electrician install it near the windows for additional light.

The shower has both a 10 inch rain head and a standard head you can switch between or run both consecutively.  We had the bay window glass replaced with glass block.

One of my favorite things is the pebble shower floor.  It's like a foot massage.

We wished we hadn't waited so long to call a contractor for this renovation.  Thanks so much for viewing!
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