Sunday, November 28

November Baking....Doughnuts

So, let me come clean right way...this is actually deep fat frying, not baking at all, but we made the doughnuts on baking day...and, um, they are made from dough. I'm sure my logic is obvious and totally justified :)

Recently, during one of Toucie's visits to the hospital for a chemotherapy treatment, she saw a glossy photo on a magazine cover ...of homemade doughnuts. I flipped through the pages, scribbled down the recipe, and the very next day we were in the kitchen with our pot full of bubbling oil. After all, doughnuts are traditionally an autumn treat, and we are almost out of autumn!

(thanks for the pretty pictures, Mado!)

Here is the recipe we used from Better Homes and Gardens magazine (September 2010):


3 -1/2  cups  all-purpose flour
1  Tbsp.  baking powder
1  tsp.  ground cinnamon
3/4  tsp.  salt
1/2  tsp.  ground nutmeg
1/3  cup  milk
1/2  cup  butter, melted
4    eggs, beaten
2/3  cup  sugar
Vegetable oil for deep-fat frying
Cinnamon-Sugar or sifted powdered sugar



1. In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg; set aside. In another bowl combine milk and melted butter. In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, and sugar; beat with electric mixer until thick (about 5 minutes). Add milk mixture; stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Add flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cover dough; chill at least 2 hours (dough will remain slightly sticky).
2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut dough with a floured 2-1/2-inch round cutter. Use a 1-1/4-inch cutter to cut the hole for the doughnut. (You can also use a standard doughnut cutter.)
3. Fry 2 or 3 doughnuts at a time in deep hot fat (375 degrees F) for 2 to 2-1/2 minutes or until brown, turning halfway through cooking with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining doughnuts and doughnut holes. Makes about 15 doughnuts and doughnut holes
4. Shake warm doughnuts in a bag with Cinnamon-Sugar or powdered sugar. Serve warm (or reheat each doughnut 8 to 10 seconds in microwave on high).
Cinnamon-Sugar: Stir together 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon.

Saturday, November 20

A Waldorf Paper Lantern Tutorial

In the spirit of Martinmas, I've come up with something to share with you .

Now, I've never written a, bear that in mind as you wade through this long strand of mediocre photos and murky instructions. Hopefully by the end, though, you'll have enough clear information to create these lovelies for your own.

So, you begin with watercolor paper that has been painted (and dried)...this size happens to be 11x15 and makes a lantern that is roughly 6" tall and 4" square. Any size rectangle will do, but using paper that is much smaller than this won't leave much room for a candle!

To make the paper more translucent, use a soft cloth or paper towel to gently rub oil over the entire surface of the paper, front and back. I just used canola oil, and I've used olive oil before, too.

You can hold the paper up to the light to see where the translucency has occurred and where you may have missed a spot. Wipe away as much excess oil as possible. 

If you feel like there is still alot of oil on your paper, lay it between sheets of clean newsprint, then between layers of newspaper and weight it down with a big book for a while. This will blot away extra oil. When I am making several lanterns at a time, I oil all the sheets of paper and store them like this. Skip this blotting step if you feel that you were able to wipe enough oil off and your paper no longer tacky with oil.

On the back of the paper, mark a line about 1/2" from the edge. Fold the paper along that line To make the crease very flexible, fold first to the front, then to the back, then lay the paper flat again.

Now fold the paper from the right, all the way over to the 1/2" mark. Again, crease the paper sharply, folding both to the front and back. Every fold we make must be creased in this manner.

Fold in half again, up to the 1/2" line.

Does your paper look like this?

Now fold it horizontally in half. (Don't forget to crease it to the back and the front).

Fold again horizontally into fourths.

When you open the paper flat again, you should have 4 equal rows of 4 equal rectangles with that little 1/2" strip running down the left side. Next, use a straightedge to draw pencil lines diagonally across the rectangles from corner to this only for the 8 rectangles in the center rows as shown.

Do the same thing going the other way, dividing those center rectangles from corner to corner.

Crease the paper along these diagonal lines, folding to both the front and back as usual. This is tricky to explain, but not difficult to do.

Here is another picture of the same action. Just fold on all the diagonal pencil lines that go one direction, then fold on all the lines that go the other direction. 

You paper should be looking rather like this. Go up to that top row of rectangles and fold it into you are hemming fabric; fold it over a third of the way, then fold it over again.

Now use scissors to cut along the folds that separate the 4 rectangles in the bottom row. Also, let's trim away a couple of bits that we won't be needing. Can you see that I've snipped away a portion of the 1/2" strip down on the bottom left? And also up at the top left?

Here's a closer look at the top left corner...don't snip away too much!

Now the fun begins! "Hem" the top edge of paper by turning it down and gluing it along the folds you made earlier. Depending on what kind of glue you are using, you may need to wait for glue to dry between steps from here on out.

Bring the right side of the paper over towards the left. Glue the 1/2 strip (or tab, or flap, if that helps make this clearer) to the back of the righthand edge of the paper.

Here is a closer look at that step...I like to slip the very top of the1/2" tab/flap/strip in between the folds of the "hem" to make a neat finish.

Do you have something that looks like this? Let the glue dry before going on.

When the glue is set, you should have something that opens into a rectangular tube-like shape.

Here's another look from a different angle. This "hemmed" edge is the top of the lantern. 

The flaps at the other end fold in to form the bottom. Glue these as you fold them on top of each other.

I like to cut a square of card stock to glue to the bottom. It makes it sturdier and gives it a more finished look.

And here is another square of card stock glued to the inside to finish that, too.

A heavy can or jar can weight things down while the glue sets. (That is the pasta sauce that I'm going to have to feed my family tonight because I've spent all afternoon goofing around with lanterns).

Once all the glue is dry, you can begin shaping the lantern. This is why we folded every crease both to the front and the we could get this awesome shape. Beginning at the sharp corner edges of the lantern, press the diamond shapes so that they pop inward. 

Work your way from diamond to diamond...all the diamonds should curve inward at their centers and point outward at their points. Just keep manipulating the paper until you are able to achieve this.

And there it is! Just the right size for a centerpiece or mantle decoration...or a Lantern Walk! You can make a string or wire handle to thread through holes punched in the top edge if you like. A tealight candle can be glued to the center of the bottom of the is quite safe.

Happy Martinmas! Welcome Season of Light!

Friday, November 19

November Painting.........The Bare Tree

So, this week I gave in.
Toucie has spent the last two years painting with a single primary color at a time, and just these last 3 months painting with 2 colors at once. She's been thrilled to watch orange, or green, or violet appear under her brush during these painting sessions and now has begun begging to find out what happens when you mix all three - red, yellow, and blue.
Some might say this is too much to tackle with a kindergartener, but I am giving this one to the kid...she wants to explore with color? Here's a brush, girl!

Since I know that the 3 primary colors blend to make a muddy brown, I tried to come up with a painting where that would work to our advantage. Here, in our corner of the world, November means that the final dance of the turning leaves is taking place. Most of the trees have already "put on their party clothes" and now dropped them and are standing bare on thick carpets of colored leaves.

I chose a short story called "The Anxious Leaf" and adapted it to our needs, changing words and phrases here and there. When the story was told we began the painting...I painted silently and Toucie followed my actions.

Here are the basic steps we did:

- Paint about a third of the paper blue, a third yellow, and a third can see in Toucie's painting above how we roughly placed the thirds....try not to let the colors touch at first. Make sure brushes are rinsed between colors. Use generous brushfulls of paint (so that the painting is wet enough that you'll be able to drag one color into another for making the secondary colors)
-With a clean brush, sweep very gently back and forth between the blue and the yellow to create an area of green at the bottom of the paper (grass maybe?)
-Again, clean the brush and sweep back and forth between blue and red at the top to create an area of violet.
-Again, between red and yellow, to create an area of orange. (perhaps a sunset sky of yellow orange red violet blue?)
-You should have a rainbow of 6 colors on your paper.
-With a clean brush, begin to sweep the brush through the colors, creating the shape of tree roots, trunk and bare branches. Try not to lift your brush from the paper so that all the colors are pulled along by your brush and blended to make brown. Sweep up and down, from root, through the trunk, up to a branch, back down the branch, down through the trunk, down to create another root. Up again, thickening the trunk, brushing out to create another branch, etc...a beautiful brown tree will appear as if by magic, standing against a sky of many shifting colors.

Wednesday, November 17

Tooth Fairy Visit! (caution - fairy spoiler)

That wiggly tooth has finally come out! Toucie was very excited to slip it into the pocket of her new pillowcase and go to sleep :)

Time for the Tooth Fairy to get to work. The fairy that visits this household likes to trade beautiful seed pearls for teeth. I've been gathering some pearls of different colors in anticipation of this happy event.

I constructed a tiny box out of lavender cardstock using this template as a guide. Then nestled a creamy pearl inside with a cushion of green wool roving.

A tiny box, 1/2 inches square, tied with a wisp of golden floss...just right to fit into the pillow pocket.

What a happy moment in the morning when she discovered the surprise :)  She made the lovely observation that pearls are very much like teeth! Now, what to do with this treasure?

We went out to the "jewelers" (Target in this case) to find just the right silver chain to hold this pearl. Then gathered some supplies to wire the pearl along with a tiny crystal and add it to the chain.

My intention is to add pearls to this necklace as Toucie loses teeth over the next few years.

My hope is that a 14 year old Toucie will be just as delighted by a necklace full of pearls as this 5 year old Toucie is delighted by this single one. And that a grown-up Toucie will treasure both the necklace and the memories of all the magic.