observations, ideas and inspiration... from my pennsylvania home, garden, kitchen, and studio

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tour of My Little Garden Shed Studio

I have the best commute to work ever.  A few years ago we found a great deal on a small potting shed. I wanted to move my organized mess of a studio out of our house so that we would have more space for company.

This is what my little studio looked like this morning peaking out from behind a sparkleberry bush in the snow...
and this is the day it arrived on a big flat bed truck.  It was very exciting, but stressful, seeing that building backing down our tiny alleyway.  I wasn't sure how it was going to fit. ( Here is a blog post that I wrote about the day it arrived.)
It's not very big inside, only 10' by 12'.
Most of my pictures are from earlier in the year.  I have two little parakeets living inside and it is just too cold and dreary to take pictures today.
The outside is still not finished.  I want to add a little porch, a tin roof, and I definitely need a french door for more lighting. (That's my practical side talking, my decorating side is saying "YES! A pretty french door!!)

The garden out front and around the side are always works in progress.  
I am trying to create a little cottage garden that looks like its been here for years. 
It's planted up with roses, flowers, berries, and herbs and has a potager garden on one side with veggies.

It's contained by a small boxwood hedge.

When we first moved in, my husband insulated, paneled, and painted the inside.  I hurriedly moved everything I had from the house so that I could get to work.  It was not very workable. I had too many things and it was scattered everywhere.

Last year my friend Jessica helped me completely reorganize it. Now everything is well-ordered and has a place. We did this on a very low budget.
On the right is my desk area.
I bought the desk for $5.00 in the basement of an old house!
Beside that is a skinny cabinet that holds many books, my patterns, and lots of old sewing pieces. You can see Iris's bed on top.  My sister-in-law, Anne, painted that pretty flower picture on an old cabinet door.
The happy little McCoy elephant planter was found in my grandfather's basement after he passed away. It's special to me.
On the right is my sewing table.  I bought this and the white wicker swivel chair at IKEA.
I now have a matching swivel chair that sits at the end of the table for when Jessica comes over and helps me get ready for a show.  It's all very businessy.  She's a GREAT friend!
Sunny and Daisy, doing their thing.
On the back wall is a long work bench.

 Lots of baskets and jars for storing.

 and more treasures too!
Underneath, behind the curtain is where most of my fabric is located, although I still have a "little" in the house.

Stored in the colored cubes are antique fabrics, homespuns, wools, florals etc.
 and the flat drawers hold all antique reproduction fabrics by color.
It's amazing how a little organization can work to make such a small space feel bigger. 
That's it!  Thanks for visiting me. It was fun to finally share my garden studio with you.
Have a lovely day my friends.  xoxo Jenn

Big Snowfall

Big Spring Blooms

Friday, January 8, 2016

Easy Bread Making

There is no better smell in the world then homemade bread baking, and there is no better taste than warm, fresh-baked bread just out of the oven. 
At the beginning of every new year I do this mini-nesting thing where I have the urge to make the home cozier. Rearranging the rooms, painting things, knit more, and bake a lot. 

One year I made so much focaccia, that our basement freezer was filled with it! This year seems to be no different.  Plus I want good memories of home for Lydia now that she is getting older and will probably be going to college in a few years.  My husband has told me numerous times how he would love to come home from school on bread making day.  His mom would have 20-30 loaves all over the kitchen covered in tea towels.  He couldn't wait to dig in.   I have had this yearning to find a recipe that is tasty AND easy.  A recipe that will not discourage me AND be consistently good so that my family will have those yummy delightful bread days too! 
The recipe I used was found on pinterest here, and called "Best Bread Ever".  That sounded good enough to me. This month I have made it twice so far.The recipe below is exactly how I did it and didn't change it much.  She had a few other options.  It makes two large loaves, which is perfect for us for the week.  I made the bread pictured here last night, started it around 8:30 pm and had fresh bread cooling on racks before 11:00 pm. Prep time was about 15-20 minutes.  

Very simple to make, amazingly satisfying!  I'm happy.
Cinnamon Toast is my favorite ~ scrumptious!

2 1/2 cups HOT water
1/3 cup oil ~ I used sunflower oil
1/3 cup honey {I fill my cup with oil first, empty it, and then fill it with honey so it doesn’t stick to the cup}
1 TBSP salt
3/4 cup flour and about 7 cups all purpose flour (Total flour used will be 3/4 cup plus the 7 cups. I used 6 cups first and then added more as needed.)
1 1/2 TBSP yeast 
Spray oil

1. Whisk together in large bowl: Water, oil, honey, and salt.

2. Add: 3/4 cup flour and whisk for 30 seconds, then add the yeast and whisk for 30 seconds more.

3. Add 2-3 cups of flour and mix together with a spoon. 

If using a mixer (Kitchen Aid or Bosch), add the rest of the flour and mix for about 5 minutes with the dough hook.  I used my Kitchen Aid for about three minutes and then kneaded by hand for 6 minutes

If mixing by hand, add the rest of the flour and mix until shaggy looking and hard to work with a spoon. Knead in the bowl a few times and then turn the dough out onto a floured counter.

It will be floury at first, if it isn't, add more flour and keep another cup in reserves off to the side if you need to add more while kneading.

Knead for 7-8 minutes to get a nice elastic dough.The dough should be soft and a little tacky but not sticky.
4. Let rise in a clean, greased, covered bowl for about 30 minutes or until doubled.
I covered my bowl with plastic wrap that I sprayed also, and then put a clean tea towel on top of that.  Also, I like to turn my oven on low to get it warm, turn it off, and place my bowl in there until the dough rises.  You want it to double in size but not more than that.
5. When the dough has doubled, remove from the oven and preheat it to 175 degrees.
6. Grease your bread pans with spray oil. Divide the dough.
7. Grease your counter top with more spray oil. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a long oblong shape. You should hear air popping out of the dough as you roll it. Roll all the way to the edges and roll it out until all air bubbles are gone. You want to try and get your dough to roll out to the width of your pan. You can narrow the dough by squishing the sides in as you roll it out if you need to.
8. Roll the dough up like you would a jelly roll or pumpkin roll. If your dough roll is too long for your pan, tuck the ends under a little.
9. Place loaves in warm 175 degree oven for about  a 1/2 hour or until the dough has risen to fill the pans (almost doubled)
10. Turn the oven up to 350 degrees and cook for about 30 minutes. The bread is done when you hit the top and it sounds hollow. If the crust is getting too brown, cover it lightly with a piece of foil. The bread isn’t done until you hear the hollow sound.
11. Turn loaves out on a wire rack. I liked to melt butter on top while still warm to look prettier.
Let bread cool before slicing, if you can!


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