Black Spruce Hound

A Wisconsin Girl in the Woods, Knitting, Crafting, and Cooking. Also: Ugly Dresses.

August 30, 2011

A Moment

The past few weeks have been crazy busy. Things are starting to go back to normal now, but my goodness, August has been a doozy. If August were a person, I'd tell her to ride her swaybacked nag outta here the same way she rode in. 

In the midst of all the crazy, I sometimes struggle with just slowing down and taking it all in. I want to do more, do it faster, do it better, wax on, wax off, rinse and repeat. Appreciating and enjoying the little things, for some reason, can be a difficult thing to master. 

However. I am pleased to say I am improving. The last few weeks I have found myself looking up. Literally, not figuratively.


All I can think of is that Jeff Foxworthy joke about the 14 year old looking at the sky and yelling "Airplane!" What? Don't know that one? Well. Moving on.

When things get a little crazy, I just stop. I go outside, look around, breathe it all in, and try to be thankful for it all. 



The good...




The not so good...







And the sort of awesome. 

Have a 'slow down' photo on your blog or Facebook page you want to share? Link to it in the comments so we can all take a peeky. 


August 27, 2011

Whole Wheat and Oat Pancake Mix

Every Saturday or Sunday I like to make a big breakfast for myself and the Mr. He gets up early in the morning during the week, so weekends are the only times we can sit down together and have breakfast. 'Cause I'm not getting up at 5 in the morning during the week. Sorry. Not happening.

And I realize the idea of a whole wheat pancake totally ruins pancakes for some of you. For that, I apologize.

Anything you make from scratch at home using whole wheat flour tastes much better than anything whole wheat bought at a store. Store bought whole wheat bread tastes like salted cardboard. Homemade whole wheat bread tastes like homemade bread, except the flavor is a bit more wholesome and nutty than white bread. These pancakes are the same way. The oats and whole wheat flour add tons of flavor, and are an easy way to incorporate whole grains into your breakfast.

As it is Saturday morning, I'm very likely making these pancakes as we speak. Or read. Or whatever.

Cue the pancakes! Make the mix ahead of time, and in the morning all you have to do is add eggs, butter, and milk, and you are on your way to pancakey heaven. You are riding on the pancake highway.

It all starts out with this.


Whir the oats in a blender or food processor to make oat flour.

It will look like this. Please disregard the oats that weren't ground up properly. Do as I say, not as I do.

Add whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.

To make the pancakes, crack 2 eggs into a mixing bowl. I used a massive duck egg, so I only needed one.

Add 2 cups of the mix and 2 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil. NOT extra-virgin, please. Olive pancakes do not a good breakfast make. 

Add milk until a good pancakey consistency is reached. This is a very technical term, pancakey. 

Cook 'em up!


Yum yum yum.


Whole Wheat and Oat Pancake Mix

1 cup old fashioned oats
3 cups whole wheat flour 
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons baking powder
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Place the oats in a food processor, pulse until finely chopped. Place in a large airtight container. Add the remaining ingredients, stir well. Store in a cool cupboard or refrigerator. Stir pancake mix well before using.

To make the pancakes, crack 2 eggs into a large mixing bowl, whisk until frothy. Add 2 cups pancake mix, and 2 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil. Whisk in milk until a thick but pourable consistency is reached. Let batter rest for 10 minutes before cooking. 

Notes:
- If you are not completely sold on the 100% whole wheat idea, use 50/50 white and whole wheat flour.
- I use natural demerara sugar in this recipe. White sugar is fine. Honey is even better. 

Have fun!


August 25, 2011

Trekkin'

Last weekend the Mr. and I went for a walk. With the hound, of course. She of the super sniffer.


Hey, look! It's that guy I'm always yammering about!

Anyway, this is the perfect time of year to get outside before autumn arrives. The wood ticks are gone, and the temps have been cooler. (She said snottily, while the rest of you are still sweltering. Sorry 'bout that.)




Railroad tracks!




Relax. Trains don't run on this track anymore. We weren't about to have a "Fried Green Tomatoes" moment, I promise.

See those boots? Those lovely Frye Campus boots, than I had damn well better be buried in because I like them so much? In all aspects of life, they are lovely. Except on gravel. They have smooth leather soles. On gravel, you may as well be wearing a sign on your back that says "Please Help Me Up."




We saw plenty of berries. And no, I have no idea what any of them are, except for the raspberries. 


To further illustrate that fall is fast approaching, I even saw one of those. Yeek. 

We walked for quite awhile, and when we decided to turn around and head back to the truck, no one was happier than Scout. 


It was a good day. 

August 22, 2011

How to Set a Gemstone

Last month was my wedding anniversary. Four years! Yeah, I know. Probably should have posted about my anniversary a month ago. When it happened. I need to get a handle on this whole time-space thing.

For my anniversary, I actually wanted a gift, aside from the usual nice dinner and bubbly. I decided on a ring. A ring with a large stone. A stone large enough that if I were wearing it and happened to fall into a lake, it would drag me right to the bottom. I'd be a goner.

Okay. Maybe not quite that big.

My other requirement for this ring was that I wanted to do it myself - select my own gemstone and ring, and set it myself. So, I bought a stone (eBay!). It's a smoky quartz, and I love the color.


I also love that it's about the cheapest gemstone a person could buy. This baby clocks in at just under 11 carats. Me likey.


I bought a setting for said gemstone. Sterling silver, very affordable.

So now what?

I'll show ya! Welcome to the totally non-professional, quick-and-dirty way to set a gemstone. Emphasis on non-professional. If a jeweler reads this, they may cry.

First, turn your stone upside down. Push your setting down onto it. It should pop right in. If not, bend the prongs back with a small pair of needlenose pliers. Then set the stone inside the setting.



Use the pliers to ever so carefully bend the prongs down onto the stone. Shake the ring back and forth, make sure the stone is completely secure - if it's not, you'll be able to hear it moving back and forth. Shake it like a Polaroid, baby. Keep gently bending those prongs down until the stone doesn't move. Even when you shake it. Like a Polaroid. Sorry. I'll stop now.

The result of this hard work?


Ta-da! Done.


Now, just a little disclaimer here. I did this myself because the gemstone and ring together cost me less than $40. I can live with that cost had I screwed up and damaged something.

If you want to set a stone that's precious to you, take it to a jeweler.

If you want to set your great-grandmother's 140 year old gemstone that survived two world wars and 4 uprisings, take it to a jeweler.

Is my stone perfectly set with prongs that are perfectly bent over and evenly spaced? Uh, no. One of the prongs is a little wonky. That doesn't bother me one bit. If it would bother you, take it to a jeweler.

Have fun!

*This tutorial was featured on One Pretty Thing!

oneprettything

August 20, 2011

From the Trenches

I opened my Etsy shop last week. It's been fun so far, and a definite learning experience. Who knew it was so expensive to ship to Australia?

Anyway, I was more shocked than anyone when people actually ordered some things from my shop.


Who knew these signs would be so popular? I sold three of them in a little over 3 days.

So, for everyone that has ordered from my shop, and for everyone that has taken a few minutes out of their day to browse around in it, I send thee lots of big, wet, licky internet love. And I would send you chocolate truffles, but you would think that was weird. And you may call the police.


I'll have to settle for just sending you lots of pictures of truffles.





So here's to you, internet people from literally all points of the country (and for a few of you, the world) who have checked out Black Spruce Hound. If I could, I would send you a truffle or two.

*Want truffles? The recipe I use is from Ina Garten. Of course.

August 17, 2011

Last Week Vol. 2

I carry my camera around with me during the day, attempting to capture all the weirdness that goes on around here. My house is like its own little pocket of weird. Strange things happen. I once got a chicken caught in the sleeve of a shirt. And no, that's not innuendo. I mean, I really got a chicken stuck in the sleeve of my flannel shirt.

I don't mean to imply that my life is weirder than yours. I'm sure your life is delightfully strange.

My point is that in my quest to capture the weird, I take a lot of pictures, and not all of them fit neatly into posts. I like to give them their own posts. Here are last week's photos, round two. (Here's the first Last Week post.)


There was watermelon.

 

And the cleaning of many, many dirty Squirt bottles. (Say 'dirty Squirt' once. Just say it.)


 There was canning. Of course.


Looks like there was a party! But sadly, no. Although, I don't recall how these came to be on the floor. 


 The dog. Mid-yawn.


My favorite shoes. Impractical. Horribly impractical.


And look at this hair! I swear, it started out very neat, and somehow ended the day like that. It looks like a walrus attacked my head.


My monkey toes. Enjoying the last few weeks of barefootedness, and trying to come to terms with the fact that summer is ending. Is barefootedness a word? If not, it should be.


An old McCulloch gear oil can. Oil for chainsaws. It was supposed to end up in the Etsy shop, but is too dented. It will stay here with me, on a shelf somewhere. 


This is the Mr.'s to do list. I want him to remove any tarantulas from the basement before I set foot down there. And yes, that is my unfortunate handwriting. 

Before you think my husband is an angel on high for letting me write him a to do list, please be aware that he usually doesn't do any of the stuff on it. He's just humoring me. 


And yes. There was Julia's Gratin Dauphinois. I'm totally on a first-name basis with Julia Child. 

We like photos 'round these parts, so if you have any on your blog or Facebook page you would like to share, link to them in the comments!
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