Project 365:58

Gino's pride of the back yard, Bermuda grass. You will see there are no plants but that will come next spring. And how cool that we trained Ponzo to not go to the bathroom on the grass! That spot to the right is from Ponzo but from being bored one day, not from going to the bathroom. It should grow back in. 


Project 365: 56 & 57

September 26th - Day 56
September 27th - Day 57
Fireman themed baby shower invitations, love these =)


Project 365: 53, 54, 55

September 23, 2010 - Day 53
One of his favorite places to be, doesn't work out too well for me while I am working.
September 24, 2010 - Day 54
I wonder how this place is?
September 25, 2010 - Day 55
We tackled painting the bathroom. Still have touch up painting and white trim painting to do but it looks so much better. Remember it before? I will post more pictures when we are all done.


Project 365: 50, 51 & 52

September 20th, Day 50 - Monday night football topped off with fresh apple pie from Apple Hill with vanilla ice cream.
September 21st, Day 51 - Ponzo and I having a little talk =) 
September 22nd, Day 52 - Progress!


Project 365: 46, 47, 48 & 49

I am a little behind so here are the photos from last week and over the weekend.

Thursday, September 16th - Day 46
Happy Mexican Independence Day.
Friday, September 17th - Day 47
Love walking to work.
Saturday, September 18th - Day 48
Happy Birthday to my love of my life, Gino! Mikuni for dinner then out with good friends for the night!
Sunday, September 19th - Day 49
This is what the birthday boy wanted, pizza and football.


Homemade Doughnuts

About a month or so ago, I saw the cutest little doughnuts in the Starbucks pastry window and though it would be fun to try and make some. Many of you know I love to cook, but baking isn't my forte. So I asked my friend Crystal (A.K.A Crystal Crocker) to come over and help me make some yummy homemade doughnuts. This is the project we used the cute sprinkles for. She provided the recipe from one of her cookbooks.
Homemade Doughnut Recipe
3 - 3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
6 tablespoons sugar, plus 1 cup for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole milk, at room temp
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
6 cups (40 ounces) vegetable shortening, such as Crisco, for frying

1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 cups of the flour, the yeast, 6 tablespoons sugar, and the salt.  Set aside.

2.  Place the milk and eggs in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until a ball of dough forms.

3.  Add the softened butter, one piece at a time, waiting about 15 seconds after each addition. Continue mixing for about 3 minutes longer, adding the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary, until the dough forms a soft ball.

4.  Place the dough in a lightly oiled medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  Place the dough on a floured surface and, using a rolling pin, roll it out to the thickness of 1/2 inch. Cut the dough using a 2 1/2 to 3 inch doughnut cutter, gathering the scraps and rerolling them as necessary. Place the doughnut rings and holes on a floured baking sheet.  loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp until slightly puffy, 30 to 45 minutes.

5.  Meanwhile, fit a candy thermometer to the side of a large Dutch oven. Add the shortening to the pot and gradually heat the shortening over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Place the rings and holes carefully in the hot fat 4 or 5 at a time. Fry until golden brown, about 30 seconds per side for the holes and 45 to 60 seconds per side for the donuts. Remove the donuts from the hot oil and drain on a paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet or wire rack. Repeat with the remaining donuts, returning the fat to temperature between batches. Cool the donuts for about 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.  Roll the warm donuts in the remaining 1 cup sugar. Serve warm or at room temp.

Cinnamon-Sugar Donuts - Mix 1 cup sugar with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon. Roll the donuts to coat
Vanilla-Glazed Donuts - Whisk together 1/2 cup half and half, 3 cups confectioners sugar and 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract in a medium bowl until combined. Dip donuts and shake off excess.

In order to give the dough enough time to rise, I had to get up quite early so that by the time Crystal came over, it was ready to start working with. 
Slowly but surely, the dough began to rise.

We rolled out the dough and used a doughnut cutter to make the doughnut shape. If you don't have one I think you can use a glass and a shot glass for the middle. 

The oil took a while to heat up but the thermometer really helped gauge when it was ready. 

Dough goes in...
Doughnut come out!
In order for the cinnamon and sugar to stick to the doughnuts, we had to roll them in the mixture right away.
Overall, the doughnuts were good and the boys liked them. The recipe was easy to follow and not too sweet which I liked. The glaze was light so they were nice and fluffy. The only thing I am not 100% sold on is the frying in the oil. For the most part I am a really healthy eater so fried food or even doughnuts is a rare occurrence for me. If I make them again I will try to see how they come out baked in the oven. That way the house won't smell like oil all day either.

Have you ever made homemade doughnuts before? Any secrets or tips on baked doughnuts? I would love to hear how others do it. 



Project 365:44 & 45

Tuesday, September 14th - Day 44
My latest read. Great tips so far, if you are interested in borrowing it after I am finished, let me know.
Wednesday, September 15th - Day 45
Soy Chorizo, its what's for dinner! You have to try this, I am serious, it tastes great! The first time I made it Gino didn't know it wasn't "real".


Phone Calls Worth A Thousand Words

vintage phone
(Image courtesy of: Emily McCall)
It's 2010 and the communication capacity of social networking is far beyond what I could have imagined 10 years ago. In just this past year I have learned so much about social media, I have connected with a lot of people from my past, and I have been able to take advantage of social media to promote a creative outline of mine.

Almost my entire family, extended family, and extended in-law family members are on some form of the Internet. Because of this, I have so many easy ways to connect with them. Whether it is emailing my mother-in-law, connecting with my grandmothers on Facebook, keeping up with cousins in other cities, or receiving new pictures of my nephew on my Blackberry, I feel completely connected.

This brings me to my next though. Just as I see the value of receiving a letter or card in the mail, a phone call is just as important in these days of electronic communication. Often, a phone call gets put on the back burner or replaced with a text, email, or chat. Both forms (mail and phone calls) of "older" communication methods are sometimes forgotten. I am blessed to have my parents, my sister, and brothers in a 40 mile radius. Sometimes, I might take advantage of this close proximity and neglect to pick up the phone as often as I should.

I am deciding to make a conscious effort to pick up the phone and make some calls. I always feel good after I talk with someone I haven't talked to in a while and there is so much more that comes out of a phone conversation as opposed to a text, email, or chat. I want to get off the phone with my friends and family with a better sense of connection. I wouldn't really describe myself as a "phone" person and I am definitely not a "chatty" person as opposed to my husband, but I think it is worth the extra effort. So, friends and family, look forward to more phone calls from me and feel free to call me too! Even if I don't have anything important to say, I might just want to say "Hi"!

Who have you thought about calling lately but have put it off? We probably all think about someone or are thought about by someone more often than we know.

What are you waiting for, give them a call. I am sure they will love to hear your voice.


Project 365:43

My handy hubby at it again! It's going to be a pergola over the deck.


Project 365:42

Even though the 49ers didn't win today, I still had a nice day with my hubby and friends watching football.



Project 365:39 & 40

September 9th - Day 39
Our daily office entertainment, bubblegum.

September 10th - Day 40
Aww, cute brothers. 
cat and dog


Project 365:37

Favorite flowers = Dahlias
Favorite store = Trader Joe's
Deal I couldn't resist = $5.99 with so many more blooms to come!


Project 365:34,35,36

I totally spaced and didn't take a photo of our adventure at the Reno Rib Cook-off. Great ribs! Should have taken my camera out but I was distracted by hunger and finger lickin' good ribs. =)

So instead, 2 photos from a day a the beach with Tim, Gina, and Ayden, what a nice day. And the delicious Italian dinner Noel and Gino cooked for everyone on Sunday night. It was a super fun and relaxing weekend in Tahoe with the Sisons.


Project 365:33

Baked Green Tomatoes with Chipotle Cream Sauce for dinner, my own recipe, and quite tasty if I do say so myself! Recipe coming soon. I will be gone for the weekend, so stay tuned for more photos from the weekend on Monday. Happy Labor Day everyone. Have a nice, safe, and long weekend!


Project 365:32

Going to start working on refreshing our bathroom, yes that is bright orange on the walls. Doesn't quite go with the colors of the rest of our house. I will be sure to post more pics as it progresses.



Project 365:31

Finally rode my bike to work today after a little hiatus. I admit, it was long overdue but it was nice to not have to move my car every 2 hours. I have many excuses like working out in the morning before work, errands at lunch, or places to go after work but I still need to make it a priority. Gotta try to keep it up while the weather allows me to.
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