Thursday, February 25, 2010

Three Things for Thursday

Three things you may not know about me:

1 - I am an avid scrapbooker (if I have time. Which means I am not sure I will ever scrapbook again!)

2 - I once posed in a coffin for an album cover for a friend (don't ask - I am hoping there are no pictures around!)

3 - Right now, there are 42 diapers in various stages of doneness in my room

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Together Tuesday: Snowballs!


Last week, unexpected to me, we had a ton of snow dumped on us here in Connecticut – the kids are still making snowballs and sledding and desperately trying to make an igloo on our tiny deck. But you don't need snow to enjoy one of my favorite winter books, “Snowballs” by Lois Ehlert. After reading this story make your own multimedia snowmen using anything you can find around the house. Cut various sizes of circles out of white paper, and let your child choose 2 or 3 to glue onto a larger sheet of paper to make his/her snow person’s body. Then search your recycle bin, craft storage, kitchen, garage, etc. for wonderful found items that you can use to personalize your snow people.

Copyright Earth*School 2004-2010
Bonnie Elizabeth Vontz

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Munchies: Chocolate Truffle Cookies

If you know me, you know that I am a HUGE chocaholic. Huge. And not just any chocolate - I am really picky and will only eat the darkest chocolate I can find. Has to be over 60%, preferably over 80%. So the other night, I was craving something good and chocolaty and was scouring my favorite recipe sites for *something* but just couldn't find anything that really appealed to me. So I improvised - just started throwing ingredients in the kitchen aid and hoped for the best! The result was dark chocolate truffle cookies with dark chocolate chips and sea salt. I think they need some homemade caramel next time too!



1 stick butter softened
3 ounces cream cheese softened
1/2 cup sour cream
3T brown sugar
4T cocoa (no sugar added)
4 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled (I used 3 ounces of Lindt 85% and 1 ounce of Ghiradelli 60% because that was all we had in the house)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 - 2T sea salt (depending on your taste)
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli 60% dark chips because that was all I had)


1. Cream butter, cream cheese and brown sugar.
2. Add cocoa and sour cream and mix well.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
4. Add flour and sea salt and mix well.
5. Add melted and cooled chocolate and mix until thoroughly combined.
6. Add the chocolate chips and hazelnuts and mix until incorporated.
7. Drop by rounded tablespoon fulls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 5-8 minutes. You want them very soft and truffle like, but cooked enough where they don't just fall right apart. Very scientific directions, I know :P
Let them cool a minute or two before you try to remove them from the cookie sheet because they will be very soft. These are one of the only cookies that I think taste better after they cool, so try not to eat too many while they are still warm! And you need a glass of milk or a cup of tea to enjoy these - they are very rich!

Next time, I will make up a batch of homemade sea salt caramel and drizzle it over the tops when they are cooled. Or perhaps I will make them as thumbrpint cookies and fill the indents with the caramel when they are cooled. Either way, they will have some caramel!

If you make these, let me know what you think!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Favorite: Fragrant Coconut Rice from Love Abounds

Katherine over at Love Abounds sent me a fragrant coconut rice kit to test for her recently. When Holden saw it, his reaction wasn’t quite what I had expected – he yelled “Oh my god!! I can’t wait to try that!!” Holden generally likes the same old, same old – new recipes aren’t always met with as much gusto as I would hope. So, needless to say, I was very anxious to make his rice!

There were three sets of instructions: for a rice cooker, for the microwave and for a steamer. Since I have none of the three, I winged it a little and made it right on the stovetop in a pot. I soaked the rice for about 2 hours prior to cooking. I was worried that that wouldn’t be enough time, but it ended up being perfectly fine.


It came out wonderfully and the 4 of us liked it a lot, especially Holden ♥ It has a very mild sweet taste; Katherine said her husband likes to eat his with vanilla ice cream, and I can definitely see why. It added a nice little burst of sweetness to our dinner that night: lemon dill tilapia, New York deli-style rye bread and coconut sticky rice. The rice itself, a Thai jasmine rice, is a type that I have never had before, and found it to be something I really liked. I have to go find some locally because I can envision using that for almost everything rice related that I may want to cook. I will definitely be back to order some more – next time I think I might even try it with a little vanilla ice cream!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Contest Time!

Apparently it is contest week for Holden's Landing! We ended up being featured on 2 blogs this week, with two different contests.

Check out Team Hyena, the Etsy HC Street Team, blog for a feature and a contest to win a free rainbow stripe diaper. Contest ends Monday, 2/22!

Rainbow OBV Fitteds - Holden's Landing

Then mosey on over to the Etsy Cloth Diaper Street Team blog for another feature and a contest to win a free custom DreamScape! Contest ends Wednesday, 2/24.

Butterfly Garden - Holden's Landing

Theme Thursday: Eye of the Tiger

Together Tuesday: Happy Chinese New Year!

Yes, I know it is not Tuesday. But this weekend, I surprised A with an impromptu trip to Newport, RI for Valentine's Day ... we had a wonderful (albeit, cold!) weekend, came home all happy and rested. Opened the front door ... to see the bunnies had escaped! Somehow they managed to knock the top off their cage, get out AND PUT THE TOP BACK ON. Or they are ninjas. I am not yet sure. Anyway, thinking my biggest problem was bunny poop, we scooped them up, put them back, vacuumed and went to bed. Little did I know that the next morning when I went to start turning things on I would have problems not remedied by running the vacuum. Why bunnies like to chew through electrical cords and cable, I have no idea. And only live ones at that. Nibble, nibble, nibble ... and I had no internet, no printer, no serger and no speakers! So, yes, I know it is Thursday, but let's just pretend it is Tuesday, ok?

Chinese New Year wall hanging
Gung Hay Fat Choy! Create a special Chinese New Year wall hanging to decorate your house during your celebration. Red is the color traditionally associated with Chinese New Year, so start off with either red paper or red fabric. The year 2006 is the year of the dog, so add a painting, drawing, magazine cut out or photograph of a dog if desired. If your child is able, copy some Chinese characters (link in language activity #1) onto the wall hanging, or write “Happy Chinese New Year”. Other symbols or items to include on your festive wall hanging are: quotes from Confucius, lanterns, swirls of exploding fireworks and dragons.

From Earth*School: Late Winter Holidays
Copyright 2004-2010, Bonnie E. Vontz

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Theme Thursday: Yuzu

My favorite scent! A collection of items from etsy and hyena cart.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Together Tuesday: UnBirthday Day!

Tomorrow is my son's 6th birthday. In honor of his birthday, this Together Tuesday post features Day 25 from our Earth*School unit "One Day Fun Days", the UnBirthday Day!

Day 25 – Un-Birthday Day!
* Birthdays only come once a year and that waiting is hard – declare it Unbirthday Day and have a party just because! Send out invitations to a few friends in advance of the date to ensure having people to celebrate with … after all, chances are it will be their unbirthday as well.

* Make an Unbirthday cake – Prepare your favorite cake with your favorite frosting, but pout on one candle for each person in attendance. Sing Happy Unbirthday to You! And have everyone blow out the candles together.

* Spread the unbirthday love – Donate a new toy to a children’s shelter to give as a birthday gift for someone there. Clean out your closets and donate unused toys and outgrown clothing to a children’s shelter to brighten someone else’s unbirthday day.

* Pin the candle on the cake – Cut out a simple cake shape as well as a candle shape for each player. Blindfold each child, one at a time, spin him or her around once or twice, then let him/her try to pin the candle on the cake.

* Plaster of paris birthday cake – For this project you will need some birthday candles, plaster of paris, a plastic container (that can be cut with scissors if need be), cooking oil or spray, paint or food coloring and a disposable butter knife. Oil the inside of the plastic container. Mix up some plaster of paris and pour it into the container. This will be your cake. Let it set. When it is almost completely set, add the candles, pushing them in to make the candle holes. Remove the candles and let the cake finish hardening. Turn over and tap to unmold. You may need to cut away the plastic container with sharp scissors. Mix up another small amount of the plaster of paris mixture, this time using only half the water suggested. This will be your frosting. Color your frosting with paint or food coloring and apply to your cake with the butter knife (be careful not to get it into the candle holes or you will not be able to add those back on again. You may want to frost it with the candles already in place). Let dry completely before using for imaginative play.

Book List:
* Happy Birthday to You
by Dr. Seuss
* Some Birthday
by Patricia Polacco
* A Little House Birthday
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
* Froggy bakes a Cake
by Jonathan London

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Munchies: Deli-Style Rye Bread


We are huge rye bread fans at our house. Our favorite comes from a farm about half an hour away - it is the one thing we will always come home with when we go visit. Or, it was. When I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen last week (one of my favorite food blogs), I knew I had to try it. The results? Fantastic! McKenna even told me it was better than the rye bread we pick up at the farm!

New York Deli Rye Bread
Adapted from The Bread Bible via Smitten Kitchen, cooking process adapted by me

Makes one 1 3/4-pound round loaf

3/4 cup (4 ounces, 117 grams) bread flour
3/4 cup (3.3 ounces, 95 grams) rye flour
1/2 teaspoon (1.6 grams) instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon (4.6 grams) malt powder (or barley malt syrup or honey (10.5 grams), or sugar (6.2 grams)) (I use honey)
1 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces, 354 grams) water, at room temperature

Flour Mixture
2 1/4 cups (12.5 ounces, 351 grams) bread flour
1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon (2 grams) instant yeast
2 tablespoons (0.5 ounces, 14 grams) caraway seeds
1/2 tablespoon (0.3 ounces, 10.5 grams) coarse salt

Dough and Baking
1/2 tablespoon (0.25 ounces, 6.7 grams) vegetable oil
about 2 teaspoons (about 0.5 ounces, 16 grams) cornmeal for sprinkling

Make the sponge: Combine sponge ingredients in a large or mixer bowl and whisk until very smooth, to intentionally incorporate air — this will yield a thick batter. Set it aside.

Make the flour mixture and cover the sponge: In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour mixture and gently scoop it over the sponge to cover it completely. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment overnight (I generally let my bread dough sit anywhere from 10-18 hours, depending on how much time I have).

Add the oil and mix with dough hook (or by hand). Mix on medium speed for 10 minutes to make a smooth, elastic dough.

Place dough in an oiled bowl and sit in a warm place to rise again, 3-4 hours. The last 30-45 minutes the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 450 degrees, with the baking dish you are going to cook the bread in preheating in the oven as well. I use stoneware/pottery baking dishes - the baking dish needs to have a lid. Once final rise is finished, sprinkle the top of the dough with cornmeal, pull out your baking dish and quickly flip the dough into the heated dish (cornmeal side down), jiggling it to disperse it evenly in the dish. Quickly cover with lid and bake for 20 minutes. Remove lid, reduce heat to 400 degrees, and finish baking another 15-20 minutes until loaf is browned nicely.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

If you love 'em put a sling on 'em

I love this! Very clever. Holden lived in his slings for the first 2 years of his life.

Friday, February 5, 2010

It's a Sunshiney Day!


It's a sunshiney day - I have been given the Sunshine Award by Julie of Creations with Heart!

I am passing the Sunshine Award, on this dark and cloudy, pre-snow stormy day, to some of my favorite blogger-artisans ... you will want to check them all out!

♥ Katherine, from Love Abounds
♥ Tiffany from Fair Trade Family
♥ Ashley from Amour Tricote`
♥ lili from lili lutu
♥ Kathi from Chaco Creations
♥ Anna from Lilia Designs
♥ Robin from Joyful Earth
♥ Charlene from Bellies, Babies n' More
♥ Shannon from Gillyweeds
♥ Karen from Relic Soap Co
♥ Karen from Little Gems
♥ Shanna from She Devil Creations

Please pass this award on to your favorite bloggers! Here are the Rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog or within your post
2. Pass the award on to 12 bloggers
3. Link the nominees within your post
4. Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award

Thanks again Creations with Heart - we can use a little sunshine in CT today!

Friday Favorites: Aloe All Over Lotion fron Buff Organics


I was lucky enough to win a free for shipping lottery last week from Buff Organics for a 4 pack of their Aloe All Over Lotion. I am *really* picky about my lotions, and recently found out that my old favorite lotion's formula has been changed, so I was in the market for a new favorite. I was hoping this would be it.

The scents I received are yuzu (my absolute favorite scent), pink sugar, clean rain and lavender and vanilla. I am not a fan of the pink sugar, it is too sweet a smell for me, but the other three are fabulous! The lotion is nice and thick without being too heavy, moisturizing without being too greasy, strongly scented without being too overpowering ... in short, it may be my new favorite lotion! I have severely dry, itchy skin in the winter, and have been using this all week with great results.

The week before I won the lotion sampler pack, I won a soap and sugar scrub set from Buff as well - Christa sent them in yuzu (did I mention it was my favorite scent ever??) and those are fabulous as well. The sugar scrub is nice and scrubby and not oily/buttery/greasy, which I have found to be a problem with most of the scrubs I have tried. I haven't tried the soap yet, but my 9 year old opened it for her shower yesterday and said she loved it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Together Tuesday: Groundhog Day!


Happy Groundhog Day! Did Phil see his shadow today? Of course, for the 98th time in a row - 6 more weeks of winter! In honor of Groundhog Day today, do some shadow art. Tape a large piece of white paper to a wall and sit your child, facing sideways, between the paper and a bright light. Adjust your child's positioning until you can see his/her profile on the paper. Trace his/her profile and let him/her color it in or paint it.

For some groundhog fun, check out this video!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Munchies: The Ultimate Macaroni & Cheese

It is a well known fact that I love to cook, and that everything has to be from scratch. I get teased in my family because "Bonnie churns her own butter" (it's easy! And way better than store bought butter!). But a good macaroni and cheese from scratch has eluded me for years. I have tried recipe after recipe and nothing has ever turned out the way I wanted. Last night, we had made a lasagna and I had a ton of cooked lasagna noodles left over that I had to do something with ... so I decided to just wing a broken macaroni and cheese recipe. It came out better than anything I could have imagined! This is by no means low fat - but it is GOOD!!

Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese

Heat a skillet on a medium burner. Toss in the following:
* half a stick of butter (4T)
* half block of cream cheese (4 ounces)
* 10 - 12 ounces cheese, cubed - I just used what I had in the fridge - approximately 3 ounces sheep's milk cheese, 4 ounces sharp provolone, 4 ounces sharp cheddar
* about 3/4 cup of milk (I don't measure, which makes writing out recipes a tad difficult!)
Cook until almost melted, stirring frequently. Add pepper to taste, and 1T ground mustard; mix thoroughly. Stir in your favorite cooked pasta (I broke up the lasagna noodles) and simmer, stirring frequently, until warm.

Serve with a really good loaf of bread. Next week, I will post my new favorite - tweaked - deli rye bread recipe!


Look at all that cheese!