winter camping

Winter camping in Texas is always interesting.  Over four days the temperatures went from the 70's to the 20's.  It was probably not the wisest thing I could have done.  Especially since I am still healing from an ear infection.  But it was lovely in its own fashion.

Inks Lake was down eight feet which meant we did not stay in our normal camping site at the park.  That was actually a very wise thing because somehow the new to us camp site was very sheltered.  When the wind came up, we were not hit as hard.  

The camp site we normally chose is right on the lake.  Other sites are not very close.  We always have a lot of birds.  But they are mainly water birds.  This new site had a lot of cardinals, which were just a lot of fun!  They were cheeky buggers.  By the last day, they were coming up to the picnic table even when we were close.  It is pretty amazing how well they blend into the trees and underbrush even though they are so red.  The females are not though.

The lake was down on purpose by the Colorado River authority.  Inks Lake is created by dams on the Colorado River in Texas.  The river authority had lowered it so maintenance could be done to structures on the lake and the dams themselves.  It happens about every ten to twelve years we were told.  If you do no time it right, you do not see it because Inks Lake is what they call a constant level lake to help with the effects of drought.  If it is not at level, drought is bad.  They also had the electric turbines going at full speed so there may have been a greater demand for electricity.

Even though it was cold, it was pretty.  We walked about thirty miles over those four days.  Just walking.  My cheeks are very red from wind and sun.  Even though we are home, I would still like to be camping.  It must be a fatal flaw that I would like to be going more.  Or it could be, I just like being outside.  That is probably what it is.  Except, it is hard to take my sewing machine outside.  I would miss that.  It would mean I would need to do more hand work.  Which is not a bad thing.

More babbling obviously going on.  I may laughed at! 


floor was warmer

I have been meaning to lay out another quilt for awhile now.  But I admit that when the floor is as cold as it has been, it is hard for me to stay down there long enough to put squares out.  I had the heater running right on me as I worked on this.  But, I got it laid out which means I can put another quilt together.  It is a happy place for me.  

I have noticed that I have been getting chilled easier this winter.  Which would not be a big deal but camping is planned for this weekend.  It will be a good change.  A change of scenery.  I am waiting on yarn to be delivered and at this rate it will not be!  Poo!

I am such a strange body.  I can not leave the house for days on end.  Except to buy milk for my tea and go to the library.  Books are a must and not every thing is an eBook yet.  And I do like to hold a real book in my hand.  But then I go traveling and I love that.  I just wish to bring my tea, books, and projects with me.  I can laugh at myself.  Just take home with me and I am happy.  

The cashier at the grocery store said I looked a bit under the weather.  I chose her on purpose because she makes me laugh so she sees me regurlarly.  I do not feel under the weather but I do fill chilled.  I might end up in the tent this weekend, reading, and being warm.  It sounds like a good plan to me.


clothing was requested

When I wrote about the slip/chemise I made, I said I was making a shirt.  It was a request.  It appears that in the end I may be making shirts and vests for all the boyos.  Maybe even suit type outfits.  They wish to look like frontiers men.  But that is not even correct.  They wish to look old fashioned.  It is really the best description.  As long as there are not handle bar mustaches, I will sew.

This cotton had been picked out for shirts a while ago.  The only negative I can find about it was that it was printed and not woven with this print.  Which meant that when I lined up the print, I was actually cutting on a slight bias.  It made the construction just a bit more difficult.

Finding the buttons was interesting.  I was out of anything that matched with enough buttons.  Not anymore because buttons have been cut off another shirt that was going into the garbage but when I was putting this shirt together there was none.  After looking at some tailoring pictures on Instagram, I do believe I do buttons and button holes completely opposite from how tailors do them.  But I give myself a break since I have never had anyone teach me how!

And now there is a shirt.  The only other negative so far is that my Beloved has not tried it on.  He will only try a new shirt on when he is completely clean and there is not chance of harming it!  It is more then a slight frustration but it is what it is.  If I put it in the closet, it will eventually get worn.


An Italianish brioche

To no one's surprise, I am a baker.  So this should be no surprise that that many of the people I follow on Instagram are bakers.  The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook has come up a few times.  It is always very interesting to see what other cookbooks other bakers are interested in.  Especially those of us who make bread.  I have not gotten very deep in the volume I got for Christmas!  That is going to be interesting when I do.  Beware close friends!  I may be hitting you up to receive bread!

I was able to get the cookbook from the library.  Which is my preferred first choice of reviewing a cookbook.  I flipped through it.  I have heard of Jim Lahey and no-knead bread before.  If you want to do this technique, I think it is great and more power to you.  You will have fresh bread at home and that is the goal.  Personally, I have been baking too long and it is too messy and fussy for me.  Saying that, he did have a brioche recipe that I wanted to use as a guideline.

To be completely honest, I like a good brioche better then a good croissant.  The main problem is that most purchased brioche are on the dry side, tending to stale.  It is just the amount of butter, eggs, and milk that are in them.  I have good brioche recipes so I was not really on the look out for another one.  According to Jim Lahey, this was an Italian style one.  Not quite so plain.  Was I going to give an Italian brioche recipe a try?  Of course!  I am not an Italian grandmother but I have been accused of those tendencies.

I really liked it.  I would make them again.  There was a bit of lemon and vanilla added.  I could see making them with orange like the coronetto I make have in them.  Again, Italian flavors.  And for a baker, who more then likes a cup of tea, a perfect breakfast with some mountain jam and butter on them.  A small bit of heaven.

italianish brioche

Note:  This recipe is modified from The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook.

100 grams (a scant half cup) water

113 grams (8 tablespoons) butter

90 grams (a scant 1/2 cup) sugar

5 grams (1 teaspoon) honey

2 large eggs

4 grams (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract

finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon or 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (I had extract and not the lemon)

125 grams sourdough starter

540 grams (3 3/4 cups) flour plus extra flour for kneading and shaping

6 grams (1 teaspoon) salt 

In a large bowl, put the water, butter, sugar, honey, eggs, vanilla, lemon, and starter.  Mix well but it will be lumpy.  Mix in half the flour, 270 grams (1 3/4 cups flour).  Mix well.  It will still be lumpy.  Cover and let rise until a bubbly mass like pancake batter.

At this point, mix in the salt.  Add in the rest of the flour.  Mix until you can mix no more and then turn out onto a clean floured surface and knead until smooth. 

Put back into a clean bowl, and let rise for an hour, covered.  After an hour, flatten the dough.  Fold the dough like a piece of paper into thirds.  Then fold the ends into the middle.  Put the folded side down.  Cover and let sit again for an hour.  I do this about three or four times.  

After the last fold, put in the refrigerator for an overnight rise.

The next morning, cover a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.  I shaped the dough into knots instead of the traditional brioche shape.  Dust you hands with flour and took a golf ball size of dough. Shape it into a snake and then tied a knot.  Place it on the baking sheet.   When all the dough has been shaped this way, cover and let slowly rise until double.  Since the dough was pulled from the refrigerator, this could take some time depending on the temperature of your kitchen.  My kitchen was cold so it took almost all day.  I probably did not need to refrigerate the dough.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the dough is risen, bake the rolls for about 20 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  The range is due to the size.  You want a golden roll.  I used a white whole wheat flour which tends to a darker shade when fully baked.

I toasted mine and smear them with jam and butter for breakfast.  So good!  If I did not have three half loaves of bread currently, I would be making more for breakfast and tea.  But that is life.


waste not

I was cutting out a shirt for my Beloved when I realized that there was a good measure of fabric leftover.  I cut apart a shirt of his to make this pattern so I have never had definite lengths to purchase.  Then there is the bit of whether he wants long sleeves or short.  Every shirt is different!

In this case, there was enough leftover to make myself a short chemise.  I wear them under my dresses, especially when I am wearing leggings.  I just want the warmth.

Because this cotton is so fine, it has some slip to it.  I will probably be able to wear it with stockings as well.  The other crazy bit I like, is that because the cotton is so fine, it packs up very small.  It is a great chemise/slip to throw in a bag when I am traveling.  Like going to the beach with friends or off to camping.  Camping is why I put tags in all my clothes now.  An easy way to find the back in the dark or in a crowded tent!

I am still moving slowly but I hope I will be moving more quickly soon.  Now, if yarn would arrive.  I am waiting impatiently for yarn to try a new shawl pattern!