April - Excitement & Gaiety
Wow! it’s already April - this month there’s lots to be excited about as we celebrate Easter, Spring Break, Picnics and nicer weather. All of which will be full of gaiety and merriment. Although I run a hectic schedule, I’ve started some short walks on nice cool days and have managed to stop and enjoy the cherry blossoms in my neighborhood. I’ll be starting the preparation of my summer garden by planting vegetable seeds and anxiously wait for them to germinate. I’ll share pictures next time, till then…enjoy all the wonders of this month.
Cheers & Happy Easter!
Hot Cross Buns
My recipe for Hot Cross Buns is soft dough that is easily shaped, and makes tender, aromatic buns that are most delicious with dabs of butter. I call it a “labor of love”. It wouldn’t feel like Easter, if my family didn’t have them. Bake a batch and enjoy!
Hot Cross Buns
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten (room temperature)
2 ½ cups milk (room temperature)
7 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour, more for kneading
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
¼ teaspoon each – ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom
2 tablespoons almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 teaspoons instant yeast
6 tablespoons tepid water
1 cup raisins
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons water
1 ½ - 2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons almond extract
3-4 teaspoons milk, or enough to make a thick pipeable icing
In a medium saucepan combine the milk, sugar and butter. Warm slightly over low heat, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar and butter. Do not boil.
In a small bowl add the 6 tablespoons tepid (warm tap) water then add the 5 teaspoons yeast. Let set for about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl pour the milk mixture, add the yeast and two beaten eggs. Whisk well to combine.
Add ground flaxseed meal, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom and whisk well.
Add almond, vanilla extracts and raisins.
Add flour one cup at a time and mix to form a soft dough.
Let dough rest for 5 minutes then turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with tea towel and allow dough to rise in a warm place until puffy or doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, line several sheet pans with parchment paper.
When the dough is ready punch down and divide in half. Knead each half then shape into 2-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about 15 minutes.
While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 325 degrees, F.
Mist or brush tops of the buns with water then bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.
Mix together the topping ingredients and glaze each bun while cooling.
Mix together the icing ingredients, and when the buns are completely cool, pipe it in a cross shape atop each bun.
Closet Spring Clean
It’s almost time to pack away the heavy dark winter garments and bring out the lighter brighter colors into our closets. It can seem like a daunting task but with a few steps we can get ready to pack and purge. I like these tips that I found to be a good guide.
8 Tips To Clean Out Your Closet
1. Define - Think about your lifestyle and typical outfits you wear throughout the week. Write down what you wear the most - and be honest!
2. Purge - Quickly go through your closet and remove clothes that can definitely go. Remove anything that is damaged, doesn’t fit, looks worn out, doesn’t fit your lifestyle, or no longer fits your personal style. If you have trouble deciding what stays and what goes, check out Katie Anderson’s Wardrobe Editing Decision Tree. Before you move on, bag up clothes for donation and toss damaged and stained garments.
3. Try It On - By this point, everything left in your closet should be clothes that you like and that fit you. Quickly try everything on and look in the mirror. If something doesn’t fit well, add it to the donation bag you started in the last step. Note items that you like but may not be right for your body type - you may want to search for replacements that are suited for you. Make sure you keep well-fitted basics for special occasions.
4. Divide - As you try on the clothes, make a pile for clothes that look great and fit your everyday needs, a pile for special occasion clothes, and a pile for clothes that are your absolute favorites. Note whether or not you have enough clothes for your everyday needs, and record what's missing. You’ll love your closet if it’s full of what you actually love to wear, rather than just what you love to look at.
5. Document - Add the clothes you’re keeping into Stylebook using these photo tips. Start by photographing your favorites first - this way, you can take a break and continue later if you have an enormous closet.
6. Mix and Match - Use the outfit editor to start playing with your favorite items. Try to make as many different outfits as you can with each item. Divide your outfits up into categories like work, weekend, cocktail hour, etc.
7. Double Take - Use the Style Stats feature to find out which items were never added to an outfit. Take a second look at these items and determine why you didn’t use them. Do you feel uncomfortable wearing them? Are they inappropriate for most days? Do you need the perfect tank to wear underneath? Are they only for special occasions like a wedding or New Year’s Eve? Decide if you should keep these items and see if adding any complementary pieces could help you use these items more.
8. Wish List - Review your notes on what you wear in a typical day, what gaps you have in your wardrobe, and what items need to be replaced. Prioritize based on what will make your wardrobe the most versatile and then start constructing a wish list using the Stylebook shopping feature. You can search for items that you want by color, budget, store, and more. Watch a demo video on saving shopping items to your closet.
Spring break is a wonderful time to build family camaraderie. There are many great activities you can do with your family as you travel or stay in town. I’ve peeked through the web and found these fun things you can do and make fond memories too.
1. Visit a Beach
The coast is a great place to relax the spirit. Bright sun, crashing waves, and feet in the sand. Your family will have nothing but smiles. Even if the closest beach is in a place that doesn’t get warm until May, being near the water will lift your spirits and give you hope that summer is coming. Whether it is the ocean or a lake, get there.
2. National Parks
Somewhere within driving distance lies a national park that offers fun and exploration. Get out there and show your family the world is more than strip malls and concrete.
3. RV Adventure
RV dealers rent those big rigs for surprisingly reasonable fees. There are special resorts all over the country that cater to big motor homes. Research an itinerary that works for your family and get out on the road!
4. Backyard Fun
Turn your backyard into your very own resort destination. You can play all types of different sports, such as ultimate Frisbee or volleyball. Put down a Slip N’ Slide. Even a sprinkler can keep young kids entertained for hours on end. Think outside the box and come up with your own unique backyard fun.
5. Cook Together
A skill your child should have as an adult is the ability to cook good food. Spend the week with your kids challenging and expanding your abilities. As a family, research and find recipes of food you have never attempted. Try a new one each day. Have your kids involved every step along the way.
6. The Outdoor Project
Spring break is the perfect time to add beauty and function to your home. Take this time to add that long talked about gazebo, fountain, or a garden. Involve everyone with vision and planning. Then get out there and do it.
Now join in and share what would you love to do with your family during spring break?