Blog Tweaks

Just a quick note:

I know my blog has only been up and running for a week or so but I decided to do a little rebranding. Everything is now, and will be going forward, up and running over here:

Friend, subscribe, and follow me over there from now on!

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Recipe: Single Serving Pizza Dough

My go to pizza dough recipes all yield so much dough, enough for three or so pizzas. It’s a long weekend so I didn’t want to make an enormous batch and have the rest sitting in the fridge forĀ  three days. So I set to the internet to find a single serving recipe. I must be daft not going to Smitten Kitchen to check first because there she was, a few recipes down on my Google search. Of course she’d have an individual pizza dough recipe.
I also had some active dry yeast packets I’ve been meaning to use before they expire so this worked out nicely.
Yeasty beasties
The dough itself is super simple to make. You mix the yeast, flour, salt, water, and olive oil all in one bowl (see SK’s recipe for quantities). As you can see here I mixed with a spoon until it was mostly uniform. At that point you can knead with your hands for a few turns, form into a ball, and cover with a towel for a few hours.
Dough freshly made and after about an hour:
It didn’t rise a ton and I was okay with that. I think it was a combo of the yeast being close to expiration, the quantity of dough, and only giving it an hour to rise.
Dough stretched out on the hot pizza stone and finished pie!
My absolute favorite must-have pizza topping: red pepper flake.
Piping hot, crispy, totally delicious.
This recipe was exactly what I was hoping for. A perfect single serving of pizza dough that came out crispy, hearty, flavorful, and sturdy.
Some thoughts/tips:
* You could very easily turn this recipe into rolls or any other side serving of bread with any dinner.
* You absolutely must use a pizzas stone to cook the dough. Even when I make rolls or a loaf of some kind I always use the stone to get that amazing color and crust.
* Another tip I love from my favorite bread recipe book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day, is to bake your dough on a pizza stone on one rack and then leave a shallow pan of water on a second rack in your oven. The steam from the water is supposed to ensure a crispy crust on the outside and a pillowy soft inside.
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TGIF, Long Weekend, and Some Stuff To Show Off

I could not be happier that today is Friday. And a long weekend to boot!

This Labor Day Weekend sort of just fell together for us.We had no plans and now all of a sudden, booked up!

Saturday is the first BC football game of the season! Notably, linebacker Mark Herzlich is making his return from having cancer last year. It’s a pretty amazing story. I cannot wait to see him back out on the field, eye black and all. I also can’t wait for tailgating, cheering, and seeing BC kick some Weber State butt. I’m so excited. I made cookies but I might make more!

Sunday we’re heading to Old Sturbridge Village to explore and marvel at old timey stuff, taking a brewery tour at the Pioneer Brewing Company, and camping in a yurt in Wells State Park.

Monday we’ll be laying low and then having a dinner with a huge group of friends at Kowloon, the most epic Asian restaurants in MA. That is going to be awesome.

What are you doing this long Labor Day Weekend? Do you have Monday off? Are you going out of town or staying local?

OK, I had a serious lapse in judgment this summer. I decided to grow out my hair. Well, ok, that’s not so bad. More specifically I decided to grow out my bangs. I somehow talked myself into thinking I needed to grow out my hair stat so that it would be long for the wedding and thus more versatile. But then I realized how stupid I looked. I kept seeing ladies with bangs at work, on the street, on TV and thinking about how much I missed my bangs. Then I snapped out of it and cut them last night. I feel a bazillion times better!
John bought me this shirt for my birthday (a month and a half early!). It’s my new favorite thing. This is totally me.
If you don’t get it, you should be reading Hyperbole And A Half. If you already do, a winnar is you!
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Recipe: Chewy Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookies

I officially joined the digital age last week when I figured out how to use Google Reader to aggregate all the blogs I obsessively read. There’s, like, a lot of them so to have ’em all in one place is a real time saver for me. Win!
You can imagine my delight then when this recipe for chewy molasses chocolate chip cookies popped up from Joy The Baker. She’s amazing, creative, funny; totally up there with the rest of my favorite lady food bloggers (Smitten Kitchen, Pioneer Woman, Bakerella). Annnnd I’d been looking for an excuse to finish off the rest of that brick of butter we got from the Cabot Creamery in Burlington, VT.
And hooboy did the butter make the difference. These cookies came out flat, chewy, and buttery. Worth it.
I set up shop in the kitchen like this: lappy, recipe, and tunes. Anyone else do this?
I followed Joy The Baker’s recipe almost exactly except that I divided the flour in half, using AP unbleached flour and whole wheat flour. So you should follow her recipe, I can’t credit it as an original creation anyway plus you should check out her site.
I made my own brown sugar like she says to!
I sift my flour too like a good baker. It really does make all the difference. The dough is finer, lighter, smoother in the end. Only sift for baking though, for bread I like my dough more rustic and less fine.
Mmmm, molasses goo.
Mmmm, molasses goo with chocolate chips. These were the generic brand I had in the pantry. Next time I will absolutely experiment with a chocolate chunk or different brand. These came out wonderfully but the chocolate quality could have been better.
Smitten Kitchen advises her readers to scoop cookie dough with a disher so I do.
(OK, fine, it’s a #20 ice cream scooper. Alton Brown says disher so now I say disher. It’s like going to the UK and then saying flat or loo when you get home. It feels exotic and exclusive. If this mini paragraph says anything about me it’s that I’m a good lemming.)
Tip: I chilled my dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes prior to baking. I also tossed it back in between batches as well. This helps the dough firm up and be more manageable when you’re scooping and handling.
I baked my cookies on two cookie sheets, one lined with parchment paper and one lined with our silpat. Both produced a good result but I really do prefer the parchment paper. I baked them on two racks at a time, rotating after 5 minutes and taking them out after about 9-10 minutes. They looked and felt a little gooey but the bottoms were browned, after cooling on a cooling rack they set up perfectly.
Go forth and nom.
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Hemming 101: Dress Pants & Jeans

I love having a sewing machine because I can buy any length pant in my size and know they’ll fit perfectly after some quick hemming. I have probably saved hundreds of dollars buying too long pants (either on sale or instead of petite sizes) over the years and hemming them.
Here’s a quick how-to on two different kinds of hemming jobs (my most used methods): dress pants and keeping on original hem on jeans.
A couple tips even before you start:
– Have a seam ripper handy, it’ll make quick work if you make a mistake.
Try the pants on after every pinning! Try them on barefoot and in whatever shoes you wear most often. Both pant legs should hit the floor at the same point (anywhere you like but I prefer mine to just touch the floor behind my heel).
Before you sew anything try on the pants and then sit down in them. If the pants ride really high off the ground you may want to adjust the hemline.
OK, onward!
1) Hemming Dress Pants
The first thing you need to do is figure out your inseam. The directions here are good and use my favorite method: finding the inseam of your favorite pair of pants. Mine is 29″ which I’ve marked with a pin below.
I then measure the excess and pin up that much on the inside of the to-be-hemmed pants. In this case, it was 3″ of excess.
Then let her rip! Pick a point on the plate under the sewing foot to line up with (most machines have some preset lines) and use that as your guide all the way around. For dress pants I like to sew on the outside of the pants so I can see the progress. Lighter fabrics tend to tangle my bobbin and I’d rather that happen on the underside and not the top.
Cut away any excess you might have on the underside when you’re done.
*A note about this though. I tend to only cut off the excess on light fabrics. I find they don’t warp or flip backwards when washed and don’t need special attention like ironing before wearing. For example: on these dress pants I cut off roughly 2″ of excess fabric because it’s light and will just hang naturally when I wear them but on the jeans I left the excess on (more below).
Before and After:
OK, the After Picture looks like they are a little pegged but I swear they aren’t! They hemmed up perfectly.
2) Hemming Jeans and Keeping the Original Hem
I found this method years ago and it works awesome. The only special thing you really need is brown/tan thread that matches the original hem on your jeans.
The first step is the same as above: find your inseam and the excess/difference between the bottom of the pants and your inseam. In this case I had 4″ of excess. Fold up the excess so that when the hem is folded over is equals the same number as your inseam. I folded my hem over 1.5″ (1.5″ on the front + 1.5″ on the back + 1″ orignal hem = 4″ of excess).
This sounds confusing, there are some clearer instructions and pictures over on this site.
Once everything is pinned you’re ready to sew!
Line up the needle ON the original hem and let that be your guide. Sew all the way around on the original hem.
When you fold the new hem back over on your jeans the original hem will be visible.
A note about the excess underneath: As I said above, for heavier fabrics like denim I leave the excess on. It does feel a little bulky but it’s worth it. I find that if you cut the excess off then wash your jeans, the original hem tends to flip up and you need to iron the heck out of it get it to lay flat. In leaving the excess I find that the heavy flap weighs the hem down so there’s no flipping upward even after a wash (and if there is, just fold it really flat or iron it).
Also, if you cut a heavy fabric like denim with scissors and then wash it, it’s going to fray. Since I don’t like Mystery Fray trailing out of a pant leg that that is obviously hemmed, I don’t trim the excess for that reason too.
Before and After:
Yay! Three new pairs of pants! Voila!
And for the record, these are all GAP pants. Wearable, washable, hemm-able.
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Getting Excited For Fall!

Wow, is it really September 1st? I think between our cross country road trip, wedding planning, and my new job, this summer just flew by without me noticing. It’s official – Fall is coming!

Things I love about Fall:

  • Football! (pro and college – Let’s Go Eagles!)
  • Hoodies
  • My birthday (October 15)
  • Our annual apple picking trip for my birthday
  • Good tours start again (currently I have tickets for Mates of State, Jimmy Eat World, the annual Big D and the Kids Table Halloween show, Saves The Day/Say Anything/Motion City Soundtrack, and Reel Big Fish/Aquabats)
  • Crunchy leaves
  • Brisk walks
  • No more air conditioning (it bothers my sinuses and allergies all summer)
  • Related: Leaving the windows open 24/7
  • Baking like a crazy person (does anyone else go in to pastry chef mode?)

Things I don’t particularly love about Fall:

  • Work gets crazy busy (that’s Higher Ed. for ya)
  • No more Farmer’s Markets
  • The SoWa Open Market closes until next summer
  • Daylight Savings Time (and how hard it becomes to get up in the morning when it’s dark)

There are a bunch of specific things I’m looking forward to this Fall too: Labor Day Weekend (we’re camping in a yurt!), another wedding dress fitting, Matt & Danielle’s wedding in Seattle, my dad’s coming to visit for a week, the annual Fluff Festival in Union Square, my birthday fun, Thanksgiving in Syracuse, a mini trip up to Burlington, VT in November, and we’re planning a little getaway to Montreal in December.

What are you favorite, and not so favorite, things about Fall?

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Wedding Prep: It’s OK to Stress Now

I love that I get to read wedding blogs with abandon, I’ll miss this once I’m married.
Offbeat Bride has been a staple site for me for months. Via OBB, I surfed to A Practical Wedding a few weeks ago and it has fast become my favorite wedding blog. It’s got the emotional, philosophical, conceptual element covered. It’s a lot of amazing women (specifically the creator, Meg) writing about their experiences and feelings, and giving some damn good advice. That is what I need more right now than favor ideas, color scheme inspiration boards, or seating chart apps.
One of the best repeat blog topics on A Practical Wedding is their “graduates” posts – folks that are now married giving advice based on hindsight. It’s amazingly helpful.
Today I read Meg’s own graduate advice and it made me cry. Specifically this:
Show Up. When the ceremony starts, you need to be THERE. Even if it makes you sob, even if it makes you laugh, even if someone just yelled at you, even if something major just went wrong. Be fully present, because you only get to live this once.”
I guess this is what I was trying to get at in my last wedding-related post. It’s so easy to stop being present to the big picture. I try to consciously be present in my everyday life anyway (I’m a good yogi) but I never thought about how important it is on our wedding day. You work so hard on all of the small details and lose sight of the bigger picture. The Big Day.
I think it’s easy to lose sight though. There is a lot riding on it and a ton of pressure. You spend gobs of money, exert tons of energy just getting everyone in one room together, spend months attending to every single little minute detail – all on a mere 7 hours of your entire life.
There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there: it’s about your guests, it’s about all of the financial contributors, it’s just about the bride and groom. I don’t think any of these is true. I guess Meg is right, it’s about being present and being in every single moment. For us and our guests. I guess all the stressful prep just leads up to ensuring that you can be present and not worry one little bit on the actual day.
So from now on I’m going to fret or laugh or cry or do whatever I need to do without reservation as we prepare for our wedding so I don’t have to do it the day of. I’m going to be fully present, to the stress now and the joy then. I like this plan.
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