Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Recipes from our Files: Yogurt Pancakes with Homemade Syrup

Pancakes are a favorite around here for breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Often we keep Krusteaz Pancake Mix on hand for the simplicity and ease, but sometimes we just want good ol' homemade pancakes (or we run out of Krusteaz and haven't gotten more yet). 

So today I want to share with you one of our favorite pancake recipes: Yogurt Pancakes! 

I love the versatility of yogurt pancakes. You can use plain for just regular pancakes, vanilla for a slightly extra kick, or really spruce it up with blueberry, coconut cream, strawberry, chocolate, whatever!

The ingredients you will need are:

  • 1 Egg
  • 3/4 c. Yogurt
  • 1/2 c. Milk
  • 1/2 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 c. Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix until blended well. There will still be a few lumps. You don't want to over mix. 

From there, you just cook them up! I'm still trying to get the hang of my gas stove. On our electric stove I cooked these over medium heat and it was perfect. With this gas stove I cook them on medium. This recipe makes 6 5-inch pancakes.

For syrup we like making our own too! It's super easy, I'll give you that recipe as well!

You need:
1 c. water
2 c. sugar
maple extract/flavoring (we prefer mapleine, but can't always find it and then just go with whichever flavoring/extract the store has).

Boil your water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add in 2-3 caps of flavoring. Sometimes I'll do 1 cap of maple, 1 of vanilla, and 1 of butter flavor. Sometimes 2 of maple and 1 vanilla. It's fun to mix and match flavors!

This recipe yields 2 cups of syrup.

Store leftover syrup in the fridge and reheat on the stove or in the microwave. This is a thinner syrup than you find in the store, but I love it that way! The pancakes soak it all up and it just tastes so yummy!

And here, so it's easier to copy and paste if you want to: 

Yogurt Pancakes

  • 1 Egg
  • 3/4 c. Yogurt
  • 1/2 c. Milk
  • 1/2 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 c. Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
Mix ingredients together in mixing bowl. Drop by heaping 1/4 cups onto greased skillet. Cook until golden brown. Flip. Make sure to cook until the center is no longer raw. Yields 6 5-inch pancakes. 

Pancake Syrup

  • 1 c. water
  • 2 c. sugar
  • Maple Flavoring
  • Other flavorings optional. 
Boil water. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Pour in 2-3 caps of flavoring. Stir to mix. Store leftovers in the fridge and reheat by stovetop or microwave. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

5 Favorites and 5 Thoughts from a Weekend on the Road

This past weekend I made what will probably be my last trip down to southern New Mexico and Arizona before the baby comes (we'll see...that chocolate festival in Silver City really is tempting...and I'm not even a chocoholic!). I love being out and about. I don't have aspirations to travel the world, but I do love going and seeing friends and family and exploring our small corner of the world.

This weekend held photo shoots, shopping, time with my family, 19 hours in the car, card games, and good food. Rather than just give you a run down of "Here's what I did. The End." (because it really wasn't a super exciting weekend as far as reading material goes, even though I thoroughly loved it), I thought today (while I'm actually driving home...hooray for the scheduling feature!) I'd give you 5 favorites from the weekend and 5 things I'm probably thinking about right now while I'm driving.
5 Favorites from the Weekend: 
  • Favorite hot beverage:
    • White Hot Cocoa! I already wrote about this one, so I won't go further into that right now. But it's becoming a problem. Yum!
  • Favorite cold beverage! 
    • Route 44 cup of ice water from Sonic. Perfect size and perfect ice! Mmmm!
    • But this all causes a problem. I used to have an iron bladder. As in I could make it from southern NM to central Utah without having to ask for the driver to pull over. Now I sneeze and I have to pull over. The baby karate chops my bladder and I have to pull over. I drink a thimbleful of water and I have to pull over. This makes it hard when all I want to consume is Sonic water and white hot cocoas! But looking on the plus side...I've found a very effective way to stay awake while driving!!
  • Getting to meet a longtime blog follower! 
    • As far as I can find, our first contact with Rachel (not Rachel who writes here occasionally, but Rachel-a fellow Pinstrosipeep) was in early 2013. Perhaps there were comments earlier than that, but that was the first email. We even featured one of her projects back in 2014! Well, this past weekend I got to meet her in person. Not only her, but her whole family! And I loved every bit of it. It made me realize even more how much Pinstrosity has changed my life for the better. I've gained some amazing cyber friends through the blog, and was so ecstatic to make one of those cyber friends into a face to face friend. Rachel, you and your family warmed my heart so much. Thank you for such a fun afternoon photo adventure in the park!
  • Favorite game of the weekend: Hand and Foot! 
    • This is quite similar to Canasta, but not quite. It has become the national sport of the Richins household. It's not a true visit to my parents without a game or two. Normally my Mom beats the socks off of all of us, but this time for once I sneaked in and took a win! It's fun to get to visit while we play, scheme moves, and just be together! 
    • You can find instructions on how to play here.
  • Favorite Darrow moment: 
    • There were quite a few to pick from this weekend, but my favorite hands down came the last nigh when our Muggins domino game came to an end and we started building domino runs and towers for Darrow. To say he LOVED them would be an understatement. He was so excited each time he could hardly contain himself. I don't know who was more entertained, him watching the dominoes fall or us watching him.

5 things I'm probably thinking about while driving: 
  • The supplies sitting in my trunk from Hobby Lobby and JoAnne's for the baby's corner decorations. I am SO excited to get started on those!! I can't decide if I want to share in progress photos along the way or just a wrap up post or two with what I did and how I did it once it's all done. Hmmm....
  • The photos from the two photography sessions I did. They were so different from each other, but each were with fabulous new friends and faces, and I loved that!
  • Sorting through the bag of baby clothes from a friend! She had a girl a few months younger than Darrow and now is having a boy. I had Darrow and am now having a girl. So, since we both have baby clothes in the opposite gender as what we're having we thought we'd swap clothes and help each other out! I can't wait to go through the bag she brought me and then to pull out our baby clothes from storage to send her some!
  • Sonic Ice Water...and the fact that there are only 2 spots along the 6 hour drive where I could get one.
  • Dreaming up ideal ways I'd like to redo areas in my home. Adding color to the back of the bookshelf. Painting the kitchen cabinets. Curtains. Bedroom wall decor (oh Hobby Lobby gave me some great ideas!!). Organizing the laundry closet. And what to do with The Yard. 
And of course getting back to this guy. Darrow's been asking for Dad since we left! Cameron had a weekend where he could have the house be his Man Cave, but I think we're all about ready to hit life together again!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Kett Files: Currently in January

A few bloggers I follow do really fun "Currently" posts, and they are always some of my favorite ones to read! I love getting book ideas, seeing what they are up to, and getting a feel for what they do in life and how they spend their energy beyond the blog. 

So I thought I'd jump on the Currently Wagon and try this out once each month. It'll be interesting to see what each month holds and how it changes up!

So Currently I am...

Realizing: That somehow I counted the same week 3 times and thought I was 30 weeks pregnant yesterday only to realize today that I'm actually 32 weeks pregnant. And all the sudden that 2 weeks makes me feel like D-Day is so much closer! So much to do to get ready for Mini Mower #2! Eek! This makes me laugh though. When I was pregnant with Darrow I always knew how many weeks and days along I was. With this baby I've had to pull out my calendar (or before the phone died the pregnancy app) and count and remind myself how far along I was. 

Watching: Merlin! 
We'd deactivated our Netflix account a while back, right after I started up this show. Bouts of insomnia have hit and so we decided to reactivate Netflix so at night when I can't sleep I can sit and crochet and watch shows. And I am loving Merlin! I just got to Season 2 and it's still holding out to be fun and clean. Always a plus! I think Merlin is such a lovable character! 

Meeting: One of our Pinstrosipeeps! I get to meet her and her awesome family today to take pictures! I'm pretty excited to get to meet her and for the connections this blog has generated through the years. I wish we could meet all of you! Pinstrosity convention anyone? We could have a Pinterest Recipe potluck where we all try a new recipe we found on Pinterest and have booths and classes for trying different Pinterest inspired activities. Bahaha, oh man that'd be fun!

Drinking: White Hot Coca!
(Not driving here; I'm sitting in the parking lot. Don't Selfie and Drive at the same time people!) 
I'm just slightly obsessed! My cupboard is stocked with Stephen's Gourmet White Hot Cocoa. Every time we drive through St. Johns I have to stop at the Circle K there because that is the only place around I have found the most amazing White Chocolate Peppermint Cocoa (with a hint of cinnamon). And, when I feel like splurging and there's a Starbucks around I love the simplicity of their White Hot Cocoa. MMMmm! 

Creating: Decorations for the baby's corner. I'm pretty excited about what I have planned! It would be fun to get to decorate a whole room with my idea, but for now the baby corner will be super fun and cute. I'll wait to share photos until when I'm done, but all the ideas were inspired by these two photos: 
Created by Eleni

via The Amy and Jordan Blog, from a fabulous workshop wedding! 
What are you currently realizing, watching, meeting, drinking, and creating?! We love to hear from you all!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New Commenting Platform Trial

With the changes that Blogger made recently that made it harder for non-Google account users to follow and interact on the blog, we decided to try out a different commenting platform that we've read and heard great things about! Enter Disqus! 

The comment section now looks like this: 
You can sign up for a Disqus account, or (if you don't want another account to remember or keep track of) we have allowed "guests" to comment. We'll leave this option open as long as we aren't inundated with Spam! 

To comment as a guest click "Join the discussion..." and then click "Name". You will then see the screen above and you can click the "I'd rather post as a guest" box.

This should help open it up to more than just Google Users, we hope! We'll see how this goes!

Let us know what you think! Easier? More obnoxious? 'Bout the same? We'd love to make this as user friendly to as many of you as we can! 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Iron Craft 2016: Fork Art for the 5th Anniversary

Nearly 2 years ago Kilani, a fabulous Pinstrosity reader and submitter, introduced us to the Iron Craft challenge. I was instantly intrigued. It sounded like something right up my alley! 

It's a challenge where the only competition is against yourself. Every two weeks a new prompt is given and then you have that time frame to create something that fits the prompt. Be still my heart. It was perfect! I joined up right away. 

Since then I think I have been able to hit between 1/3 and half of the challenges. This year though my goal is at least 10! I thought it would be great accountability to post up my attempts here on the blog. See, now you all know what my goal is, I've got to follow through. And, I know there will be Pinstrosities along the way. There have been a number of them in my past Iron Craft challenge attempts! 

The first challenge of the year ends today with the very first 2016 Reveal Day where we all get to share our projects. This round's theme was centered around the 5th anniversary gifts of wood, silverware, or daisies.

Let me tell you, I was stumped. I couldn't think of anything to do that I just really loved! I wandered the craft aisle (singular here...sigh) and found a wood cut out in the shape of Arizona and bought that for $3, thinking I could do something fun with it. And came up with nothing until three days ago. But by that time I was out of time to get the other supplies for it (we're going to turn it into a fun clock for Cameron's biology classroom, which desperately needs some happiness and cheer in that dark brick room).

So I thought, "Well, I'll just scrap this first one and join in next round." But my head wouldn't let me truly give up. While browsing Pinterest I came across a really cute idea...and it was one I knew I could at least attempt without spending much. 

Supplies I used: 
2 four-packs of dinner forks (well...1 and a half...but by on...)
Needle nose pliers
Wooden drawing board (to protect my counter/kitchen island)
Propane Stove Burner
Canvas (from stash)
Upholstery Fabric Sample (from stash)
E-6000 Glue

As I didn't know really if this would turn out or not, I decided to go with the cheapest forks Walmart had (as it was past closing time run and see if the thrift store had what I wanted) and picked up a pack of the $0.88 four-pack of forks during my grocery run last night. I totally went against my own advice from 2 1/2 years ago and bought stainless steel. But hey...when it's $0.88 it's worth a shot. 

As soon as I got home and the groceries were put away, I dove into the project. I read a tutorial online for the general idea of making fork art and then just ran with it from there crossing my fingers that this would work.

Step one: Flatten the forks. I held the forks with the pliers and then held the top end in the burner flame until it was hot. How long? maybe 30 seconds?

The first one I didn't hold in real long, but the others I held in till they were glowing because it was must faster and easier to flatten that way. As soon as the fork was hot (and glowing) I removed it from the flame and, still holding the end with the pliers (DO NOT TOUCH THE FORK!!!) and laid the pronged end on the wooden art board. It burned the art board. This is why I used the art board...I didn't want tine marks on my island top. I then used the hammer to pound the tines and the head of the fork flat.  The fire did darken the fork (as you can see below with the fork on the right), but I figured I could worry about that later if I didn't like the look).

Step 2: Bend the tines into shape. Easier said than done. With the first one I started on the outside and worked inwards, holding the pliers perpendicular to the tines (making a T). That didn't work so well and I ended up with various heights of bent tines. Cameron tried to help me fix it and even them out and one of the tines snapped off.

Without looking at the picture to see what I was going for he picked up the next fork to try and help and make up for breaking the other tine and started bending the tines down, but started bending at the bottom of the tine rather than the middle and we ended up with a weird fork. Poor guy. He just wanted to help, and I appreciated that! But, now we were down two forks as bending the tines back would weaken them and we'd probably have another broken fork. 

So, since Walmart isn't that far away and I wanted this done that night I flew back down for another pack of $0.88 forks. If you want to try this and your end result needs 4 forks, you might just get you a 2nd pack as your just-in-case back up plan. 

But anyway. We found the best way to get consistent bends and heights was to bend the tines from the top. So, (holding the fork with the pliers, not in your hand!!) heat up the tines of the fork again, and then with the needle nose pliers held parallel to the tine, bend it down pivoting at the point of the pliers. This gives you an even bend and you can control where each tine bends much easier!  

And, if you want the design on the handle of the fork to show when you curve it around, make sure to bend the tines to the back of the fork!

The hardest one was the curved heart fork. That took some patience. Don't rush the curves! Heat as needed and just work it slowly. I found it worked best to start from the bottom up, that way I could get the curves starting at roughly the same height on either side.

Step 3: Bend the handle of the fork.

This was probably the hardest step of creating the fork art. It is thicker and doesn't bend as uniformly. Again, start by heating it up (I didn't ever get it glowing, but I know it was plenty hot because I accidently brushed my knuckle against one and have a nice blister now). Hold the fork with the needlenose pliers where you want the curve to start. Lay the head/tined end of the fork down on the board and then with the regular pliers bend the handle up. Often I would twist the two pliers in opposite directions to give more force to the bend. As it slowly bent and curved I would have to move the needlenose pliers further down the handle to get more of a curve and not just a V shaped bend.

And then I had my forks done! I really would have loved the look of them against a piece of barn wood, but by now it was dark and I didn't care to dig through the pile in the back yard for the right piece, clean it off, cut it to size with a hack saw, and then figure out how to mount the forks. So I went with plan B: dig through the craft supplies and see what I could come up with.

I found a narrow canvas I'd gotten at Walmart over a year ago and knew that would be great! It would be easy to hang on the wall and I could attach the forks with relative ease. Done.

Next I dug through my fabric stash to find something to color the canvas. I'm way into sage green and orange right now and trying to get more of that combo up in my house. As I got the cutest orange pot holders and dish cloths from my Mother in Law for Christmas, I dug until I found a sage green piece of upholstery fabric that was the perfect color and size to wrap around the canvas. It was like it was planned for this. I glued the fabric to the canvas and let it dry. Then I used E6000 glue to attach the forks to the fabric/canvas. I don't want those forks going anywhere and wasn't sure how hot glue would do.

And that was it! I hung up the canvas over my stove to hold my hot pads and I love it!

Visible in the background is Bernie the Bread Machine (a new favorite kitchen appliance!) and The Cookie Hog. Not visible just barely out of frame is the stack of pots and dishes from dinner. Trust me, they are there! Now, to see if we have the guts to try and paint those cabinets...they sure need something!

I really like how these turned out! They aren't completely uniform, but they aren't glaringly off either. Not too bad for last minute and running on the cheap. Even if I had needed to buy the canvas and a fat quarter of fabric this project would be less than $10! Hit the right store and it could be less than $5! 

Want to see everyone else's 5th Anniversary Gift inspired projects? Check out the Flickr group here

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Problem on our Car that 5 Mechanics Missed

Our car started going through tires like crazy. They would get gouged and wear out incredibly fast. We were getting new tires on all the time it seemed.

One mechanic told us we needed to quit peeling out on gravel and that was why we were ruining our tires. Problem solved! Only we weren't peeling out. But that was the only explanation he could come up with for why we were getting gouges in our tires. 

So we went to multiple shops for alignment after alignment, got more expensive tires, and still nothing worked. Each shop said it was either an alignment issue or we were just having really bad luck with faulty or bad tires. 

And then we moved. With the first major cold that hit our tire pressure sensor dinged in the car so I took it in to get that checked and asked about the tires (as at this point they were making our car vibrate badly). He said they would take a look and see what they could find. 

1/2 an hour later he came back and said that our problems came down to two factors. First, the "suggested" tires online for our car are rated for 220 mph and typically wear out fast because they are built for speed. Second, our shocks were 80,000 miles overdo for replacement, meaning that every bump we went over the tires would hit the shocks and the springs would leave gouges in the tires. Apparently shocks are supposed to be replaced every 50,000 miles. We had no clue. How do you keep track of when to replace everything in a car?! 

So, we saved up for the shocks/struts/alignment job, and then a new set of tires...ones that are a little more suited to our non-220mph lifestyle.  

And it feels like a whole new car! 

Why do I tell you this boring story about car parts? Because I figure if we had no idea, maybe one of you out there had no clue either and can't figure out why your tires are getting gouged and wearing out so fast. 

Man...there should be a manual for how to keep on top of all this adult stuff in life! 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Kett Files: My Creative Space, Take 2!

Well, I did it. It took me the better part of a day, but I did it! If you read this morning's're ready for this. If you didn't, go back and check that out (or read'll get the drift).

After taking a good hard look at the Living Room, after seeing Emilee's deliciously inviting space, and after browsing through other Creative Space posts and pictures...I knew our space needed some work.

But, as I mentioned this morning I didn't know what to do until I wrote up that post. Funny how that works sometimes! 

Our Living Room, my Creative Work Space, wasn't inviting, motivating, or conducive to creativity. It was chaotic and inefficient. So I came up with steps to improve it. And these steps didn't take running to the store; there were things I could do right then and there. And I have to say I LOVE the results! 

Just a quick reminder, so you don't have to go back to the previous post...this is what it was like when I started:

 The Corner of Chaos

Empty picture frames on the wall and propped up on the shelf.

And this disaster. 

Along with projects strewn about, the all-catching puff quilt "rug", and the box shoved under the cedar chest because it fit. 

My plan for a room makeover in a day was to:

1. Combine the shelves, eliminating the tower of chaos in the corner and making the bookshelf wall not look like a bookstore exploded.

2.  Put SOMETHING in those blank pictures frames.

3. Put the puff quilts away. 

And, that's exactly what I did. 

The very first thing I did was to pull the puff quilts out of the room and throw them in the washer so I can fold them up and put them on the blanket shelf. That was an easy thing to get done and checked off the list. 

But then it was time to tackle the real problem at hand. I took a deep breath and dove in.

I first took the games on the top shelf of the bookshelf and moved them to the remaining open cubby in our bed (which we LOVE...I was nervous at first, but I love it more and more!). That cleared out half of the top shelf. I then went through and moved all the textbooks, books we don't read, most of the fiction books, and the not so pretty books and put them in the mostly empty cabinet of our bed. We hadn't decided what to put in there yet, so I decided today. There was just the perfect amount of space!

This cleared up a TON of space on the bookshelf wall, enough that I could then move everything off the Tower of Chaos and organize it onto the bookshelf. 

It still is quite full, but it doesn't look so crazy like it did before. 

The top shelf is reserved for photo albums and religious books. The 2nd shelf is the craft and movies shelf (we recently went through and put all our DVD's in a disk folder and threw the bulky cases away-saves so much space and it looks so much better than a ton of DVD cases!). The third shelf is the office supply box, the few fiction books we left out, Cameron's science books, and my piano music. 

The bottom two shelves are Darrow's. I recently found the plastic storage boxes at Walmart for $0.97 and bought 5 to work on organizing his toys and I love it. I think I'll go back and get a few more. He can't yet get the lids off, so he can't dump everything and run. And, the little pop up tent that was in the box under the cedar chest fit in a mesh laundry bag we weren't using and fits on the shelf...much better looking than the box poking out from under the chest! 

We put some of the books we didn't want handled much (we have a few over 100 years old that are some of our treasures) up on top of the shelf as decor, mixed with various odds and ends.

So...if I got everything off the Tower of Chaos and on the bookshelf wall, what does the computer side of the room look like now? I'll show you.

Ta da!! I'm over the moon with how it looks and feels now. The room feels bigger, brighter, and better. Of course there are things I could think of to buy to spruce it up still, but for doing this all today just staying home and rearranging what we already have, I'm pretty tickled. It feels more open, more organized, more aesthetically pleasing, and more conducive to creating, living, working, and playing in! And apparently it's quite conducive to taking naps in.

And, I think I'll be able to use the sewing desk to craft and create on a little now too! I love how much more open this looks and feels! We have a wood chair that matches the wood of the desk and table, but Cameron swears this plastic folding chair is more comfortable. So we have the less pretty plastic chair there instead of the pretty wood one. Function sometimes wins out over beauty!

The Tower of Chaos shelves unstacked, and I moved one outside to hold plants and yard decor under my kitchen window when it warms up a little, and the other one I spray painted gold to help lighten up the room some (I tried orange, but didn't have enough leftover orange spray paint in the can). This went right by the desk to help hold the speakers, hide cords, and to enable me to keep my Life Binders close at hand to be able to use them more efficiently (again, a whole post on those will come before too long!). And the one plant I have managed to not kill, through 2 winters and a move even! You couldn't see it back in the corner where it used to live, and it got forgotten a few times. Now I can enjoy it every day, remember the sweet friend who gave it to me more often, and even remember to water it more frequently.

And finally with all the organizing and moving things around done, it was time to hit the last item on the list...the empty picture frames. I've been wanting to get "my colors" (orange, of course, and sage green! I'm loving that combo right now!!) in the living room more, along with a picture of our family, so I decided to make my own "printables" here at home and print them out on cardstock for now. The photos didn't come out super high quality, but it put pictures in the frames and when we update our family pictures after March I can get real prints made. For now though, this works great!
You can't read them real well with the glare, but the top is our last name and year we were married, and the bottom says "Gratitude turns what we have into Enough" (which is a great reminder for us in this little house!).

And then I printed off one of my all time favorite photos of Cameron and I for the other blank photo frame.

I really really LOVE how today's project turned out. I feel so much better about the room. It feels good. It looks miles better. And now I just want to create, or curl up on the couch and read, or play more with Darrow. I don't feel like hiding!

Darrow cheered me on from the couch all day. Poor kid woke up sick. He's a good little sicky...he doesn't cry, doesn't fuss, and doesn't get too clingy...he just wants to snuggle up on the couch, listen to music, and watch whatever I'm doing.

The next step I'd like to take in the Living Room are curtains. But now I have to figure out just what I want! Eek!

It's amazing what a little organization can do towards a room "makeover"!

Anyone else have to double up their living space as their work space and creative space? What do you do to make it work? What's your decorating/organizational style with it?