Thursday, September 30, 2010

business time

Just a few items of business: 

1. Thank you to everyone who has hit up my shop in the past few days! There are still a few things left.....get 'em while they're hot!

2.I am so happy this little blog was featured on Be@Home (thanks emma:) 

3. We are still eating (and loving) our home made yogurt. I have figured out that a gallon of milk's worth of greek yogurt will get us through about one week. So I plan on making it once a week...perfect!
some of our favorite ways to eat it:
-mixed with a spoonful of strawberry/blackberry/apricot jam
-maple syrup and almonds
-orange juice mixed in (kids favorite)
-POM mixed in
-maple syrup and peaches (my favorite)

4. As silly as yesterday's post was, I thoroughly enjoyed making wishes, and have been thinking more about wishes today. What IF wishes came true.....better not keep them in:)
Play along and make a wish--I think I'll be doing it more's addicting!


I'm coming!!

I'll be in the Sacramento area Saturday November 13, and I'd love to squeeze in a few photo sessions while I'm there. 
Please email me sheenajibsonphotography at gmail dot com for session and package details.

See you SOON!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

anna & matt

more over here!
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Remember how I had an Etsy shop? me too. Of the 1000 things I have going on in my life right now.....a few have to go. I'm SLASHING PRICES (said in my best radio ad voice) left and right, and FREE SHIPPING within the US! I only have a few prints/postcard sets left so go check them out HERE!

going greek

this is a major step in our friendship're either going to say, "hey, this girl's ok" or "this girl is a hippie nut job". Believe me, had you told me a few years ago I'd be making my own yogurt, I would have laughed in your face while scarfing down my light strawberry cheesecake Yoplait. 

My how things have changed.

It was like Christmas Eve. I didn't all. I had my alarm set a little bit earlier than usual so I had extra time before the school rush.....but I didn't need an alarm.  I was up all night watching the clock. 
3 more hours. 
2 more. 

I jumped out of bed.....and then paused. What if it didn't work? I was nervous. I was excited. 

I made the journey in to the kitchen (oh.....about 10 steps), and peered in the oven at my cozy concoction, wrapped in a towel, basking in the warm oven light.

I unwrapped the towel, took off the lid....


I had yogurt!! It worked! I really couldn't believe that 

a) I actually did it
b) it actually worked
c) how incredibly easy (and cheap!) it was.

and now you can do it too!

Greek Yogurt

Ingredients: Milk (I used 2% rather than whole) and plain yogurt (with active cultures)
*for every 1/2 gallon of milk you use, you'll need 4 TBS of yogurt

1. Pour milk into pan, bring to boil. 
2. While milk is heating, mix 4TBS  yogurt + 4TBS milk together (so it's just like runny yogurt)
3. When milk begins to boil, remove from heat and let cool to between 100°-105°. 
4. Once milk has cooled, remove skin from top, and stir in yogurt/milk mixture.
5. Place lid on pot, wrap in a towel, place in your oven (turned off, with only the oven light on)
6. Let sit (keeping oven light on) for 16 hours. 
7. When your yogurt is ready, you can pour the whey off the top and mix it in, and enjoy your plain yogurt.....

....or, for Greek yogurt....

8. Line a colander with two layers of cheesecloth (you can find it in the hardware section of any store that sells paint:), and pour your yogurt into the colander, letting it strain for 6-8 hours, until desired thickness is reached. 

Let me tell you......this stuff is AMAZING. It is so rich and creamy, and incredibly mild compared to regular plain's not so tart. 

Stir in a teeny bit of maple syrup (really, just a drizzle) and you feel like you are eating dessert. 
Add fresh fruit and it is heaven! 

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The Verdict: 
Ease: Easy peasy. It's basically just waiting around for it to make itself.
Price: I cannot tell you how amazing this is until you try it. I LOVE Greek yogurt.....but really, that stuff is expensive! This is the price of milk. And now I can continue to use my homemade yogurt as my starter.
Taste: Do you like yogurt? Make this NOW! It's the best!
Will I make it again? I already have. I just strained my second batch (this time I did 1 gallon of milk's worth + 8TBS yogurt). 
Other completely home made things I've done (like graham crackers and thin mints), I've done for fun, just to try it out. I hope that yogurt will become part of my weekly routine. You can't beat the price, or the taste! Also, yogurt is so SO good for our bodies to have (when it's not loaded down with 20+ grams of sugar (or worse--artificial sweetener) like some of the "yogurt" you buy at the store. Yogurt is full of good bacteria that your body needs to balance out the bad, as well as a good sized serving of protein and an healthy dose of calcium, B vitamins and vitamin D.

Let me know if you try it.....and don't be afraid of letting out your inner hippie:)


Friday, September 24, 2010

friday love

It's Friday!! Hooray! I cherish the weekend 1000 times more now that everyone (oh--yes--did I mention Robby is back in school too?) is in school. Here are some of the things I loved this week.....

I love chocolate. You do too, right? These are the cupcakes I made a few weeks ago for our back-to-school feast. They should come with a warning.....they are so incredibly rich and chocolatey.... I don't think I could feel my feet after I ate them. But they were the perfect remedy for the everyone-is-leaving-me-and-going-to-school blues. The cake recipe is the same that I just posted, and the ganache is super easy! 

Whipped Chocolate Ganache
12oz. good quality chocolate
2 cups whipping cream
(enough for 24 cupcakes)

Chop chocolate into small pieces and place in bowl. 
Bring cream to a simmer on stove, and pour over chocolate, stirring chocolate until mixture is smooth. 
Put mixture in the refrigerator until it's cold. 
When mixture is cold, whip until it's firm and spreadable. 
Sprinkle with sprinkles.....because it looks kind of ugly. (I think you can pipe it, but you'd have to work very quickly because it starts to firm up)
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I love when he reads to her.
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We love color! And we aren't afraid to use it!

EEEEEK!!! Glee is back! 
Are you so excited!! Can we talk about it?
What did you think?
-I'm happy for it's return....but I will say there have been episodes that brought me goosebumps and tears....and the premiere brought neither...what about you? I still loved every second, and I about died during Sue's and Santana's conversation....ha!!
-Coach Bieste. oh my. I am so confused....I know she is a she, but she looks like a he. And sounds like a he. And has big arms like a he. But she put on lipstick and cried and then I liked her/him.
-Why is Rachel all the sudden the hot girl?
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I am a chapstick lover. This is my favorite right's PERFECT!  I actually haven't found anything from the entire line that I don't love.
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I LOVE taking pictures of is my absolute favorite! Email me if  you and your other half would like me to come's fun:) (and see more of these two here)

kelly and ryan

As usual, I am completely smitten by the Toast catalogue. I cannot get over their insane photography.
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I love sweaters!! All kinds....and right now I am especially loving oversized, cozy boyfriend sweaters

Pomplamoose has a new song! Of course I have to post the video!

Also--if you are feeling like you need even a bit of inspiration or motivation to get up and get moving....PLEASE go watch THIS. Runners you will LOVE it! Non-runners--you will love it, and want to start running tomorrow. 

Happy Weekend!!!

What did you love about this week?

friday feet (we're back....this time for real!!)


erin: on top of the world! .....
sheena: the bottom.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

so......we like to dress up

If you happened to stumble upon our end-of-summer (Robby's side) family get might just think we are crazy. And maybe we are. But let me tell you....crazy is fun! So WHAT if we're having a full-on themed costume party in September while we all stay on the beach....that's how we like it!

With Halloween coming up right around the corner, I thought I'd share the last few years of our family's costumes.....because, not to toot our own horns.....but TOOT TOOT!
I think we are pretty good.

I have no idea how the whole dressing up thing started really. We used to thrown on a lei or a cowboy hat and call it good. But then a few years ago, our theme night was "Pirates" and we all got a little bit out of control.

note: we never ever ever know what each other are wearing. It's always a surprise, and always so fun to see how well we coordinate!)


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the ladies. yes. that first one is a lady. one of my very favorites too.
Picture 6

What you need to be a pirate:
(all these items were thrifted.....some the day of the party!)
-women's blouses. gah. I hate the word blouse. But in this case, the blousier, the better.
-women's vests.
-cut offs.
-gaudy jewelry and accessories, or a TON of your own jewelry layerd
-anything striped
-my little family's eyepatches and clip on earrings were the only things we bought new.
-eyeliner of course! perfect for hairy eyebrows, whiskers, moles, blacked out teeth, and Jack Sparrow's famous guyliner look.

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Picture 4

next up: Super Heros!!

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more special than super.

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What you need to be a superhero:

-Anything shiny!
-emergency blankets!
-shiny fabric from Walmart
-my shiny leotard was thrifted
-belts, thrifted
-sparkle tights on clearance
-shiny oxfords for $3 at Forever 21
-I made the girl's skirt super fast with some tulle
Picture 13

And this year.....

(ha! the best part about this photo is that kyle and ryan s. are so hairy you can't even see them!)
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We have never looked lovelier.
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What you need to be a caveman:
-animal print--I swear the cheap stuff is always on sale at Joann's. I made all of our costumes with 3 yds. I do NOT sew--these were basically just tubes with arm and head holes.
-"bones" for our hair made from tinfoil wrapped in masking tape and then burnt on the stove
-clubs made from tin foil, butcher paper, and masking tape burnt on the stove
-the boy's tooth necklace is masking tape
-Robby's necklace is an actuall skeleton he found on the beach. gross.
-heavy on the bronzer, and eyeliner for facial hair, awesome teeth, moles, and smudges
-You really do need my hair on this one

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and that is us in a nutshell.

The funny thing is, it has never occurred to me to maybe take a photo of the eight of us kids (Robby's, two bros, one sis, and spouses) all NOT dressed up.

We really are semi normal looking people in real life, I swear.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

sundried tomatoes

excuse me,
"sundried" tomatoes.

These are about as sundried as we're going to get.....leaving them out to dry in the real sun would result in no tomatoes for us, and a whole lot of tomatoes for Charly.

I planted 16 tomato plants this year thinking I would have this huge abundance of tomatoes to can.
1) we eat a lot of tomatoes
2) I'm too impatient to wait to have a giant batch of tomatoes to can and
3) I have zero counter space to save those that have already ripened.

So I started doing this. A batch or two a week. And then I'll freeze them for winter to add to pastas, sauces, and salads when I'm refusing to by those orange crunchy things they call tomatoes in the stores.

1. Take your tomato. (easy!)
2. Slice. Not too thin.
3. Spread them out on a lined cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil, a little thyme (or whatever you like), and s&p.
4. Put them in your oven at 150-200° for 5-6 hours, depending on how you sliced them.

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I never said they were the prettiest things, but boy are they good, and come winter they'll be like gold!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

dear september,



Here we are again.

It's the same every year......just as you're about to leave us.....I decide that maaaaaybe you are ok.

It's not that I don't like you, so I'm truly sorry to be rude upon your arrival.

It's just that I'm always enjoying summer so very much, and then YOU show up (uninvited) (and too early), and remind me that my summer fun is about to end.

I find it funny how everything changes so quickly once you are here, and I can't ignore you for long.

Windows are left open, breezes are felt.

And not hot, summer breezes.....but breezes that fly through the hot, still-summer air, with just a teesny little feel about them that's different....'s a feel of fall.

The garden is winding down. The tomato plants are heavy.

Bending over and reaching out to each other as if to say farewell.

I feel the need to bake.

Cookies. Cakes. Pies. I don't even like pie!

The evenings are cool. The mornings, cooler.

We wear our favorite hoodies....we love hoodies.

During the day, the sun shines. Bright. Hot.

But he's tired, and leaves us with long shadows, a bit quicker each day.

I sigh as I put away our swimsuits.

Kiss the freckles on their summery skin.

Thank our giant green tree for it's lovely cool shade all summer.

And I open a window...... smells like fall.

I see the colors changing on the mountain, and imagine the kids playing in the leaves that will soon be falling from our giant green (soon to be gold) tree.

And then we'll make donuts. And sip cocoa.

And wear our matching turtlenecks.....ok, just seeing if you're still paying attention.

So September.....I guess you're ok.

Just promise to tell October and November to be gentle on us summer lovers....ok?

sincerely yours,
me (aka, summer lover)

Monday, September 20, 2010

sweet and simple

very sweet.

chocolate cake with browned butter frosting

Last week was a cake week.

You extra long, extra busy week, that you knew you'd only get through with the promise of cake over the weekend.

I like to reward myself like that.

I love cake. Chocolate cake. Chocolaty chocolate cake.
I am always on the hunt for THE BEST chocolate cake recipe.....and I think this one comes close. I made it a few weeks back--half of it made into cupcakes with whipped chocolate ganache (which might have almost killed us they were so wickedly rich), and the other half baked in a cake round and sent into hibernation in the freezer for whenever a cake week rolled around.

I also like to be prepared.

I pulled my sleeping cake out of the freezer this weekend, left it in the pan, topped it wish some super easy frosting....and we dug in.

Double Chocolate Cake
recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
recipe is for two cake rounds.....I made mine into 12 cupcakes and 1 round:)

3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups hot water
3/4 c butter
3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans.
Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot water and cocoa powder. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs (adding one at a time) until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Browned Butter Frosting
enough to frost one cake round or 12 cupcakes

The sugar in this frosting is uncooked--which some people might find weird, but I actually really liked the grittiness of the brown sugar paired with the soft fudgey chocolate cake.

The funny thing about this frosting, is that I was going for not too sweet, seeing as though the cake is so perfectly fudgey. Turns out that, it was an equally rich frosting, so make sure you have a tall glass of milk handy.....or your Dr's number nearby in case you slip into some kind of coma. Totally worth it though.

1 stick (1/2 c) of butter
1/2c-3/4c brown sugar, depending on how sweet you want it
a few tablespoons of milk

To brown butter:
Heat pan on medium heat.
Cut butter in to pieces and melt in pan.
Stir continuously. Butter will foam up.
After foam subsides, small brown flecks will start to appear in bottom of pan.
Continue stirring, until butter has reached a nice brown color, and nutty aroma.
When you want to lick the spoon, you know it's ready.
Turn the heat all the way down.

Allow butter to cool in the fridge until it is soft, but no longer a liquid.
Mix with a hand mixer until butter becomes fluffy.
Add brown sugar and milk, a bit at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

Leave your cake in the pan, because its a cake week and you want it easy, sloppily schmear frosting on top, and grab a fork and dig in.