Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mission Organization

My pantry is a bit of a mess. Apparently I have been hoarding funnel cake mix and spices & seasonings. The funnel cake mix is because I professed my love for funnel cakes to family once a long time ago, so they make sure to keep me stocked. The spices are because I have loved cooking more and more. I saw this idea for spice jars and labels that I found on pinterest, initially posted by blogger DIY Diva. I thought I would take on this project, and it turned out to be pretty easy once I got the supplies. 

Check out the before and after pictures:

What do you think??

Friday, May 4, 2012

In financial news...

I consolidated my debt last month and refinanced my car loan after much debating (and an offer I couldn't refuse). What this meant was a reduced APR on the car loan by one percent, reduced credit card APR rate at 0% for a year (which will save me interest while I pay everything off these next few months), and an easier online website and phone app to navigate. Yay!

On another related note, I was able to meet my goal of reaching $10,000+ in my 401k account!

Next goal...$1500 in savings. This is harder than it sounds!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

the simplistic, mindful life

I received an article from a coworker the other day and it made me stop and think. Why do I tend to overplan when it comes to list-making and goal-setting without taking into consideration how much time it actually takes? ...Great examples that immediately come to mind would be the family recipe book that took a little over two years to actually finish, the family crest for Sean's birthday that I gave to him two years late (and still want to make changes to), the many books I've started and never finished, and multiple other projects that are still stuck in some sort of limbo.  Would it be better to plan nothing at all?  In one of the other posts by the same author, she wrote about eliminating goals because that doesn't stop us from achieving things and only serves to limit what we can do. I don't really agree with this logic. I think that the more I push myself to achieve goals, the more I keep track of what I'm doing, and the more I end up accomplishing in the end. Without planning, I tend to accomplish little to nothing and go day to day watching too much tv, sleeping too much, and having little motivation to accomplish anything. I am a listmaker and I love crossing off things. What I’ve learned is it’s best to understand I likely won’t accomplish everything, but I can at least try...and know not to get down on myself about it. Somehow, (probably because I've grown accustomed to it) I don't get discouraged when I don't achieve everything I set out to do in the timeframe that I give myself, because sometimes the important things just deserve a little extra time and finesse. For certain tasks (like artwork for family), I realize that the reason I've put off completing is because I want it to be perfect and to have enough time to dedicate to making it just that. In the real world, large chunks of time like that don't come around very often. That said, I like the quote that Leo Babauta opened with:
"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." ~Lao Tzu 
I like having the ability to go about my day as I choose, the flexibility to accomplish a lot on some days and little on others, leaving room for new experiences and opportunities that I may not have otherwise dreamed of. I think there is a balance between planning and just enjoying.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lattice-Topped Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

It was one of my goals this year to make my first pie from scratch A) because I love pie and B) because there is a stigma that comes with making a pie, which is to say that it's easy to mess up. Common pie blunders include a dry or burnt crust, overly wet filling, doughy bottom, etc. I felt ready to take on the challenge. 

To start, I found the perfect recipe on one of my go-to cooking websites, Smitten Kitchen. This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, April 1997. I did some adapting myself and found myself in the middle with how long I baked the pie. I used a glass baking dish, so that may account for the difference on why I needed to cook a little longer than the Smitten Kitchen recipe.

Lattice-Topped Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Pie crust ingredients:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
10 tablespoons (about) ice water
Pie filling ingredients:
3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices trimmed rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds untrimmed)
1 16-ounce container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Step one: Make crust. Combine flour, sugar and salt in mixer. Using on/off turns, cut in shortening and butter until coarse meal forms. Blend in enough ice water 2 tablespoons at a time to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; cut in half. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap separately in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.)

Step two: Make filling. Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine first 7 ingredients in 
large bowl. Toss gently to blend.

Step three: Assemble Pie. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim excess dough, leaving 3/4-inch overhang.

Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut into fourteen 1/2-inch-wide strips. Spoon filling into crust. Arrange 7 dough strips atop filling, spacing evenly. Form lattice by placing remaining dough strips in opposite direction atop filling. Trim ends of dough strips even with overhang of bottom crust. Fold strip ends and overhang under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively.

Brush glaze over crust. transfer pie to baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about another 40-60 minutes. [The original recipe suggested a total baking time of 1 hour and 55 minutes] Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. Serves 8 (approx).

Step four: Enjoy!