Celebrating the Ultimate Pi Day

Pi…aka the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter… aka 3.14159265359 and so on… Celebrating Pi Day (March 14th) is a beloved tradition for math enthusiasts and pie enthusiasts alike. We have enjoyed celebrating this “holiday” for several years (not that we need an excuse to eat pie, but can you think of a better reason to do so?!)

A few years ago we enjoyed this apple pie on Pi Day.

This year Pi Day is kind of a big deal, because March 14, 2015 is 3.1415. Some people are even taking it to the next level, marking 9:26 on the clock. We decided that we for sure needed to celebrate this once-in-a-century event, so we planned a Pi Day brunch celebration with a few friends.  On the menu: Quiche, Pineapple, and of course assorted pies.

I had fun designing an invitation (I used Inkscape and Silhouette Studio) with a math pun or two in it.

We’ll be keeping the kiddos happy doing Pi art and activities, like this Pi in the skyline by What Do We Do All Day?, this Easy as Pi artwork by Pink Stripey Socks, this Circle Art by Momgineer, or this Pi bracelet.

My husband wants me to make Pi Day Tshirts; we’ll see how it goes and I’ll post pictures if I get that far.

Update 3/18/15:
Here are pictures of some of the things I made:

I used my silhouette machine to cut this design out of heat transfer material, then just ironed it on the shirts.

 

I did this onesie the same way as the shirts above.

 

Our welcome sign, right next to the Pi wreath on the front door. :)

I designed the shirts using Inkscape and Silhouette Studio. I’ll share how I use those programs together in another post. Peace!

Do you have any fun plans/ traditions for Pi Day? Do share!

Cara’s DIY Wedding

I was looking through my pictures and realized that I totally forgot to post about my sister Cara’s outdoor/ indoor wedding that happened in October.  Which is sad, because it was a completely beautiful, totally DIY wedding.  So I’m going to remedy the situation, and post some of the awesomeness now.

First, my husband BJ and I took engagement photos:

My sisters Marissa and Anna and I threw Cara’s bridal shower, and a friend was kind enough to host it for us.

Here’s the shower invite that I designed using Inkscape (a free Illustrator-like program).

Here’s a somewhat better view of the refreshment table.  We had a tea and hot chocolate bar as well.

Here are the favors for the guests- a packet with an herbal tea bag and a honey stick.  The tags were designed by me- again in Inkscape.

Cara and I spent hours making bridesmaid jewelry using beads and findings she bought online and at Hobby Lobby. Each piece was totally unique, but had a unifying theme. There was a necklace, bracelet, and earring set for each of the 11 bridesmaids.

The house and yard was transformed for the wedding and reception by the tireless help of many friends and family members.  Tables and chairs were covered with fabric from the stashes of my mom’s friends and sisters.

My cute and talented mother did all of the flowers- bouquets, boutonnieres, table arrangements, indoor/ outdoor, etc.

This photo doesn’t do them justice, these are just the only flower photos I could find.

Here’s one of the bridal bouquet.

Photo credit to Giffy Pix.

My mom also made the cake pedestals by gluing together glass plates and vases, filling the vases with dried flowers, and tying ribbon around them.

My aunt, sister Marissa and I did Cara’s makeup, hair, and nails respectively.

My mom made this lovely wedding gift with words of advice, featuring a hand- crocheted doily (My grandmother made one for each grandchild before she passed away, and my mom saved them to give at each wedding).

My mom and my aunts took a basically strapless wedding gown bought for under $200 and using their brilliant sewing wizardry, transformed it into Cara’s dream wedding dress- a much more modest, and classy looking frock.  I wish I had a more close-up detailed photo of the dress, but you can get an idea by the picture below.

My dad is a bishop- a lay clergyman in our church, so he was able to be the one to marry Cara and Jeff.  My sons were ring bearers.

These 2 photos courtesy of Giffy Pix

I made the ring pillows my sons are holding in the above pictures (tutorial to come).

Marissa was the fantastic artist behind this lovely cake and multitude of cupcakes. (Check out her baking accessories shop on Etsy!)

I also made marriage advice cards for guests at the reception to fill out and compiled them into a book for the newlyweds to enjoy down the road.

It was a bit crazy to arrive just a day or two before the wedding and everybody work like mad to throw it together (after a several months of distance planning), but I think it turned out fabulously!  And the newlyweds are still doing great!

Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls

{This was originally posted in 2010, but I still have people asking me to share this recipe, so I am re-posting it and trying not to let my mouth water too much.}
I could have titled this post “The Best Rolls. Ever.”  -and it would have been true.  My childhood memories of Thanksgiving dinners at my Grandparents’ house always include hovering with my cousins over the napkin- covered baskets full of steaming, homemade, mouth- watering rolls.  True, we loved just about everything put on the table for the Thanksgiving feast… but oh, the rolls!  We could have stuffed ourselves just on those beauties alone.  After I got married, my husband and I begged my Aunt Susan for the recipe, and she so kindly shared it with me.  I have made these rolls so many times now, and they taste just like I remember.  (I think what makes them so delicious is the butter… there is a lot.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)  I almost feel like I am sharing a secret family recipe, but I think great food is meant to be shared, and I hope you will enjoy these rolls as much as I do!

Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls

Yield: 48 rolls

1 c. + 2 Tbsp. butter
2 c. water, divided
2 rounded Tbsp. yeast
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
5-6 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Melt 1 cup butter in 1 cup of boiling water.  Add 1 cup of cold water and when warm to the touch add the yeast and sugar.  Allow to sit 10-15 minutes or so until bubbly (this is called “proofing the yeast”, which ensures that the yeast is active and gives flavor to the rolls).  Then add 2 eggs, mixing well (do this in a large bowl, or your stand mixer bowl).  If you have the time, sifting the flour first will help make the rolls even more light and fluffy.  Add 5-6 cups of flour, adding the salt and baking powder between the 4th and 5th cups of flour.  For me, 6+ cups of flour is what it takes.  Mix well.  The dough should still be soft and sticky.  Let rise double in bowl while covered with a clean, non- fuzzy dishtowel (about 2 hours).  You can speed up the process a bit by placing the bowl in a warm area, e.g. preheating the oven for about 3 minutes, then turning the heat completely off, and placing the dough in the oven to rise.  Punch the dough down and divide into thirds.  Roll each dough ball into a circle (about 14 inches in diameter) and cut into 16 wedges with a knife or pizza cutter.  Roll each wedge up from the fat end towards the middle of the circle.  Set on cookie sheets, cover with dishtowel, and let rise again, 1- 1 1/2 hours (or you may freeze the dough at this point).  Optional: Melt the remaining butter and use a pastry brush to top each roll with a little butter.  Bake rolls at 400* F for 9-10 minutes.
Variations: Use this dough to make orange rolls or cinnamon rolls by adding 2 tsp. vanilla extract with the eggs.  Roll the dough into 2 rectangles, butter the dough and sprinkle with (a lot of) sugar & grated orange peel, or brown sugar and cinnamon.  Roll the dough into a log shape and use a piece of long thread or dental floss to cut the dough in 1 inch intervals by sliding the floss under the log, then crisscrossing the ends and pulling tight, all the way through the dough.  Arrange circle slices on baking sheet, let rise, and bake as directed above.
Enjoy!
My additions in italics.

I look forward to baking these rolls next week.  They are definitely one of my favorite parts of the meal (foodwise of course).  I can hardly wait!  I would love to know if you try them out, and I will do my best to answer any questions you may have (with the understanding of course that I am no culinary master)- just leave a comment or shoot me an email.

What is your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner?

Let Them Eat Cake

Cake is kind of a big deal in our family… birthday cakes are a labor of love, and while not every year has its masterpiece (we have to be realistic here, some years it is all I can do to present the birthday boy with a full belly and a clean face; forget about beautifully wrapped presents and gorgeous cakes) we do like to have fun with our cakes.

I thought it would be fun to share a few of our birthday cakes from the last year or two!

Front Loader Cake (as per the then-2 year old’s request)

Noah’s Ark Cake

The Noah’s Ark cake was made with Marissa’s help; it is covered in delicious chocolate marshmallow fondant that we made (painful, I don’t particularly recommend it).  The animals are made of fondant as well.  We were going to make tons of animals in various colors, but it took so long that we called it good here.  Marissa used dye and a paintbrush and painted lines to look like boards on the ark.

Barbie cake made by Marissa for our sister Cara’s 20th birthday- to commemorate the barbie cake Marissa made when Cara was… 7 or so.

Simple layer cake with paper bunting sewed together and glued on bamboo skewers.

My 4 year old’s Airplane Cake.

I was so glad that a) Marissa helped me with this cake, and b) that we started it the night before.  Marissa frosted the cake with 3 different colors to give the fluffy sky/cloud look, and I made the wings, windows, and banner out of gum paste, and let those dry overnight.  We formed the body of the plane (also the night before) out of rice krispy treats.  We used store bought fondant to cover the body of the plane and the wings (as well as add all the decoration) the following day.  The wings were all attached with toothpicks.

Pretty pleased with his airplane cake!

My birthday cake!

I take no credit for this cake whatsoever; except that it was made (by Marissa) for my birthday!  It’s been 8 years since Marissa and I have been together on my birthday, so it was an extra special treat!  The flowers were made of fondant.  Also, this cake turned out to be one of my favorite cake flavors so far- pink lemonade cake with lemon-almond buttercream frosting.  Whoa!  So good.

For those of you who don’t know, my sister Marissa is one of the “Homebodies” but has been on hiatus from blogging to do important things like finishing school and internships, traveling the world, working full time, and now growing a tiny human being!  >excited squeal!<  So perhaps we’ll see her back here in the future (maybe I can prevail upon her to share more of her own cake masterpieces she is so talented at- who knows!) if we’re lucky.

So- back to cake… what traditions do you have for birthday cakes?  Birthday child gets to pick?  Costco cake?  Ice cream cake?  Brownies and ice cream? Themed cakes?  Let me know in the comments!

My Super Cereal Supplement: A Granola Recipe

Here’s a post of Marissa’s from the archives that you might enjoy!

Being young, married, tight-budgeted college students, my husband and I have been trying to get creative and think of things that we can make on our own, that we would normally pay more for at the grocery store.

Unfortunately, one of those things that a large part of our grocery budget is dedicated to is cold cereal… When we came to this realization, and talked about the possibility of reducing the cereal consumption in our home, there were tears…. Yeah, I cried! I know it sounds silly. But you don’t understaaaandd! – My whole life up until now, cereal has always been a part of my breakfast. It has always been there, waiting for me, like a true friend! How could I even think of including any other breakfast food in my morning meal? And all through my single years of college, what would I have done for breakfast and dinner, if I hadn’t had my cereal waiting there so patiently in the cupboard for me? I could go on, but I’ll spare you my “life cereal” poetry… that’s just embarrassing.

As we talked about cutting cereal out of our lives, I thought of my morning bowl of cereal and all its deliciousness and glory. I couldn’t bear to let it go. I knew I had to come up with a solution. Well, I actually came up with two!

SOLUTION #1: only cut back on cereal, rather than cut it completely out. Instead of going through 3-4 boxes of cereal per week, cut it down to 1 box, and supplement it with other foods like eggs, toast, fruit and yogurt. It’s been working pretty well so far. I tried buying two kinds of cereal and splitting them each in half, so that we could have a variety still, but keep it at 1 box’s worth of cereal. That has worked decently well – I just put the other half in a gallon ziploc bag.

SOLUTION #2: (This one is my favorite) Make. Granola. That counts as cereal, and do you realize how much cheaper it is to make it??! I found a recipe on allrecipes.com for really simple granola, with typical ingredients you would have on hand. I have made it 4 times now, each time, changing it a little so I liked it better, and now, I have come up with a recipe that I really like! I’ll share it with you because I’m just hoping it will give you as much joy as it has brought to me. :)

Honey Almond Granola

2 c. old-fashioned oats (or 1 c. quick oats and 1 cup old fashioned if you want it to be in clusters)
¼ c. Sliced almonds
¼ c. + 1 Tbsp flaked coconut
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 ½ tbsp vanilla pudding powder, divided
½ tsp cinnamon
Scant ¼ tsp. salt
½ c. orange blossom honey (or clover honey)
* milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract

Directions:
1. Combine oats, nuts, coconut, sugar, 1/2 Tbsp vanilla pudding powder, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl.
2. Measure 1/2 cup honey into a liquid measuring cup, an then add milk on top of the honey* until it is up to 2/3 cup.
3. Add 1 Tbsp vanilla pudding powder, vanilla and almond extract to the honey and milk, mix together and pour into dry ingredients. Mix well.
4. Bake at 280 degrees for 35 minutes. (check every 10 minutes, stirring each time) Bake until golden brown. Let it cool (and if you want it to be in clusters, let it cool before you stir it again), and store in an airtight container.

For a low sugar version – I have made it without the brown sugar or pudding powder, and just let the honey do all the sweetening, and it is still delicious.

I have found that Granola is a very forgiving recipe – you can really tweak it to meet your desires – If you want to add something or leave something out, you can, and it won’t mess it up!

*EDIT 7/28/10: I found out that boiling the honey for 1 minute and then adding it to the dry mixture helps to soften the oats so they aren’t so hard and crunchy and hard to chew…

**Rochelle’s notes 6/18/12:  An alternative to using quick oats is to just pulse the old fashioned oats in your blender for a few seconds.  I have tried this recipe with agave and it works well.  A fun way to change this recipe is to add in some dried fruit after the bake time.  I usually go with craisins, but you could add whatever you like.

Amazingly simple and De-licious Pumpkin cookies


In light of our Thanksgiving-themed week, I thought I would share a delicious pumpkin recipe that we make regularly this time of year.
These cookies have been a favorite in our house for the past couple of years. This Fall, they have been the #1 cookie of choice, probably because they are soo stinkin’ easy to make, and taste so wonderfully good! Here is my recipe:


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 can pumpkin puree (29 oz size)
2 boxes yellow cake mix (or spice cake mix, depending on your preference)
1/4 c. water
2 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*. Mix pumpkin, cake mix, and water together with a hand mixer until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons onto a cookie sheet, and bake for 10-14 minutes (based on how hot your oven really gets). Poke with a toothpick, if it comes out clean, they are done! Let cool on a cooling rack.

Yield: about 5 1/2 dozen cookies (makes a LOT!)

Friends, it doesn’t get easier than this! It literally takes about 5 minutes or less to mix these yummies up and get them baking in the oven!

Here are some other pumpkin – themed recipes I want to try this week:
Pumpkin Cheese Cake (Martha Stewart)
Pumpkin Cream Pie (Pioneer Woman)

yum…my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

What pumpkin desserts are you planning on making this week? Share your ideas in the comments!

Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls

I could have titled this post “The Best Rolls. Ever.”  -and it would have been true.  My childhood memories of Thanksgiving dinners at my Grandparents’ house always include hovering with my cousins over the napkin- covered baskets full of steaming, homemade, mouth- watering rolls.  True, we loved just about everything put on the table for the Thanksgiving feast… but oh, the rolls!  We could have stuffed ourselves just on those beauties alone.  After I got married, my husband and I begged my Aunt Susan for the recipe, and she so kindly shared it with me.  I have made these rolls so many times now, and they taste just like I remember.  (I think what makes them so delicious is the butter… there is a lot.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)  I almost feel like I am sharing a secret family recipe, but I think great food is meant to be shared, and I hope you will enjoy these rolls as much as I do!

Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls

Yield: 48 rolls

1 c. + 2 Tbsp. butter
2 c. water, divided
2 rounded Tbsp. yeast
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
5-6 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Melt 1 cup butter in 1 cup of boiling water.  Add 1 cup of cold water and when warm to the touch add the yeast and sugar.  Allow to sit 10-15 minutes or so until bubbly (this is called “proofing the yeast”, which ensures that the yeast is active and gives flavor to the rolls).  Then add 2 eggs, mixing well (do this in a large bowl, or your stand mixer bowl).  If you have the time, sifting the flour first will help make the rolls even more light and fluffy.  Add 5-6 cups of flour, adding the salt and baking powder between the 4th and 5th cups of flour.  For me, 6+ cups of flour is what it takes.  Mix well.  The dough should still be soft and sticky.  Let rise double in bowl while covered with a clean, non- fuzzy dishtowel (about 2 hours).  You can speed up the process a bit by placing the bowl in a warm area, e.g. preheating the oven for about 3 minutes, then turning the heat completely off, and placing the dough in the oven to rise.  Punch the dough down and divide into thirds.  Roll each dough ball into a circle (about 14 inches in diameter) and cut into 16 wedges with a knife or pizza cutter.  Roll each wedge up from the fat end towards the middle of the circle.  Set on cookie sheets, cover with dishtowel, and let rise again, 1- 1 1/2 hours (or you may freeze the dough at this point).  Optional: Melt the remaining butter and use a pastry brush to top each roll with a little butter.  Bake rolls at 400* F for 9-10 minutes.
Variations: Use this dough to make orange rolls or cinnamon rolls by adding 2 tsp. vanilla extract with the eggs.  Roll the dough into 2 rectangles, butter the dough and sprinkle with (a lot of) sugar & orange peel, or brown sugar and cinnamon.  Roll the dough into a log shape and use a piece of long thread or dental floss to cut the dough in 1 inch intervals by sliding the floss under the log, then crisscrossing the ends and pulling tight, all the way through the dough.  Arrange circle slices on baking sheet, let rise, and bake as directed above.
Enjoy!
My additions in italics.

I look forward to baking these rolls next week.  They are definitely one of my favorite parts of the meal (foodwise of course).  I can hardly wait!  I would love to know if you try them out, and I will do my best to answer any questions you may have (with the understanding of course that I am no culinary master)- just leave a comment or shoot me an email.

What is your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner?

My super cereal supplement: a Granola Recipe

Being young, married, tight-budgeted college students, my husband and I have been trying to get creative and think of things that we can make on our own, that we would normally pay more for at the grocery store.

Unfortunately, one of those things that a large part of our grocery budget is dedicated to is cold cereal… When we came to this realization, and talked about the possibility of reducing the cereal consumption in our home, there were tears…. Yeah, I cried! I know it sounds silly. But you don’t understaaaandd! – My whole life up until now, cereal has always been a part of my breakfast. It has always been there, waiting for me, like a true friend! How could I even think of including any other breakfast food in my morning meal? And all through my single years of college, what would I have done for breakfast and dinner, if I hadn’t had my cereal waiting there so patiently in the cupboard for me? I could go on, but I’ll spare you my “life cereal” poetry… that’s just embarrassing.



As we talked about cutting cereal out of our lives, I thought of my morning bowl of cereal and all its deliciousness and glory. I couldn’t bear to let it go. I knew I had to come up with a solution. Well, I actually came up with two!

SOLUTION #1: only cut back on cereal, rather than cut it completely out. Instead of going through 3-4 boxes of cereal per week, cut it down to 1 box, and supplement it with other foods like eggs, toast, fruit and yogurt. It’s been working pretty well so far. I tried buying two kinds of cereal and splitting them each in half, so that we could have a variety still, but keep it at 1 box’s worth of cereal. That has worked decently well – I just put the other half in a gallon ziploc bag.

SOLUTION #2: (This one is my favorite) Make. Granola. That counts as cereal, and do you realize how much cheaper it is to make it??! I found a recipe on allrecipes.com for really simple granola, with typical ingredients you would have on hand. I have made it 4 times now, each time, changing it a little so I liked it better, and now, I have come up with a recipe that I really like! I’ll share it with you because I’m just hoping it will give you as much joy as it has brought to me. :)

Honey Almond Granola

2 c. old-fashioned oats (or 1 c. quick oats and 1 cup old fashioned if you want it to be in clusters) ¼ c. Sliced almonds ¼ c. + 1TB flaked coconut 1 TB packed brown sugar1 ½ tsp vanilla pudding powder

½ tsp cinnamon Scant ¼ tsp. salt

½ c. orange blossom honey (or clover honey) * milk1 TB Vanilla Pudding

1 tsp vanilla extract ¼ tsp almond extract

Directions:

1. Combine oats, nuts, coconut, sugar, 1/2 TB pudding powder, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl.

2. Measure 1/2 cup honey into a liquid measuring cup, an then *add milk on top of the honey until it is up to 2/3 cup.

3. Add 1 TB vanilla pudding powder, vanilla and almond extract to the honey and milk, mix together and pour into dry ingredients. Mix well.

4. Bake at 280 degrees for 35 minutes. (check every 10 minutes, stirring each time) Bake until golden brown. Let it cool (and if you want it to be in clusters, let it cool before you stir it again), and store in an airtight container.

For a low sugar version – I have made it without the brown sugar or pudding powder, and just let the honey do all the sweetening, and it is still delicious.

I have found that Granola is a very forgiving recipe – you can really tweak it to meet your desires – If you want to add something or leave something out, you can, and it won’t mess it up!

**EDIT 7/28/10: I found out that boiling the honey for 1 minute and then adding it to the dry mixture helps to soften the oats so they aren’t so hard and crunchy and hard to chew…