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Friday, January 29, 2016

Five Things for Friday

We're in for a rainy weekend but it's still a WEEKEND and to kick it off, here of some of my favorite things from this week.

  •  I got my first whiff of Spring this week as I was riding to work.  I love this plant and it's fragrance.  It smells a lot like a daphne, but dare I say, stronger....  I also love the fact that it blooms in the dreary, dead of Winter, just when you've given up all hope of ever seeing Spring.  If you don't have one of these plants in your yard and you live in zones 6-9, get one.  You'll thank me next Winter.  Himalayan Sweet Box (Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis)

  • Norpro 18 Inch Aluminum Magnetic Knife Bar  I'm loving my new magnetic knife holder.  Just getting the knife block off my counter top has freed up so much more space.  I have room for a lamp now!  Yes, a lamp in the kitchen!  That could be a blog post all on it's own or a great band name!

  • DecoBros Wall Door Mount Kitchen Wrap Organizer Rack, White  On that same note, I finally found a good spot for all the various types of wrap I have.  Why do I have so many boxes of wrap!?  Anyway, I used to put these in the lazy susan cupboard, which was probably not my finest idea.  Quite often a box would wedge itself behind the rolling table and you'd be unable to move the lazy susan.  Naturally, this was bothersome but I kept it like that for many, many years not realizing there was an easy fix!

    • Online grocery shopping!  Ok, this rocks!  For the past month or two we've been using Fred Meyer's (Kroger) online grocery shopping website, called ClickList (stupid name).  Anyway we order our groceries through the website, select a time and day to pick them up, then drive to the store on that day.  You pay when you get there, use any coupons if you have them (I never do), and the clerks load your groceries in your car and you're finished!  Grocery shopping done!  Love it!  If it's available in your part of the world and you hate grocery shopping as much as I do, then check it out!  
    • French Linen Bread Bag.  Do these really keep bread fresh?  Yes definitely.  If you purchase or make a lot of bread that doesn't come in plastic then use these.  They will keep your bread fresher for longer and what a beautiful design!  I have two bread bags and even the most rustic of breads will last days longer in a bread bag.

    Wednesday, January 27, 2016

    Lora's Beauty at *I**AM Yoga

    Starting this week, you can now purchase Lora's Beauty Goats' Milk or Beer Soap at *I**AM Yoga!   I will be featuring only soaps at this point and the price will remain the same as on my website, $5 each.  In addition, I'm offering a special at the studio where you can get 5 bars for $22!

    If you want to look before you buy and happen to be in Portland, visit *I**AM Yoga at 13th and Alberta to view and smell the soaps available.

    I'm very proud of the display I put together for the studio.  I was having a hard time deciding on what to use to display my soaps.  I needed something with low sides so people could view the contents from a few feet away.

    Thankfully, my significant other made this excellent tray for me.

    I painted it using Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint (Boxwood), distressed it a little, and finished it with Miss Mustard Seed's Hemp Oil 250ml.

    I love chalkboard paint!  I want to paint everything with chalkboard paint!  Luckily, I've managed to control myself.

    Here's a photo of the display at the yoga studio.  As always, you can purchase these all natural artisan soaps on my website as well.

    Monday, January 25, 2016

    Sunday Bread Making

    It seems Sunday has been relegated as my bread making day.
    This Sunday found me again with no poolish or biga for an artisan bread so I went to what has become my default bread.

    I changed it up a little by adding wheat flour and an egg wash with sesame seeds to the top.

    I love this bread because I can start it Sunday at 11 am and have warm homemade bread to eat by 2 pm!

    I think we waited all of about 2 minutes this time before we cut it.

    If you'd like the recipe, check out this book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread

    Warm homemade bread > chocolate cake!

    Friday, January 22, 2016

    Five Things for Friday

    Yay!  It's Friday!  Time for another Five Things post.  First though, I want to announce an exciting new partnership.  Starting next week you will find Lora's Beauty goat milk soaps at *I**AM YOGA on Alberta street in Portland, Oregon.  I'll post more on this next week.

    With out further ado, here's what I've been using/loving this week:

    • My Kickstarter Boncho purchase.  I pulled the plug and went ahead and purchased a bike cape for riding in the rain.  I wrote about my trial with a cheap Women Men Dark Red Cycling Bicycle Bike Raincoat Rain Cape version here.  The kickstarter project was funded so I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of my Boncho sometime in March!
    • Another purchase I made last week; Totally Bamboo 14-Inch Ladle  I've used it twice already and it works beautifully.  It is well made and I like that the handle is long.  The ladle part works great at getting every last drop of soup, another plus!  At $10.72 you really can't beat this ladle!
    • I'm sure it was my fault, but our previous can opener was driving me crazy!  It would cut into a can for about one turn (3 cm) and then pop off the lid.  I'd then reconnect it to only get 3 more cm of cut when it would pop off.  This continued until I was able to get the lid off or throw the can across the room....Anyway, enter this new can opener:OXO Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener So far, it works wonderfully.  I like the way it cuts the can as well.  Unlike most can openers I've used that cut the can from the top, this can opener cuts the can on the side.  Because of this design, the top of the can can be reused to recover the can if you don't use all the contents.  No more mangled pieces of aluminum foil over cans in the refrigerator!
    • Last week I finished this book It Was Me All Along: A Memoir It is an interesting insight into a woman's life who lost 135 lbs.  It's a well told and heartwarming story.  Well worth the time, if you've got it.
    • Peppermint Ice Goat Milk Soap.    
    This soap smells so good!  I'ts still curing but the scent is seriously overtaking the whole house!  I can't wait to try it.  It shouldn't be long now!

    Monday, January 18, 2016

    White Bread

    I'm not sure when plain white bread got such a bad reputation.  Sure, the kind you buy in the grocery store may be completely devoid of nutrition, but the kind you make...damn, that's good; especially with a little butter.

    I was a little lazy this weekend, actually, last week my bike had 3 flats (three!  No I don't have three wheels, I'd fix one then get another).  So Saturday I spent some time in the bike shop and bought a new tire.  Needless to say I got a late start on bread making.  Sunday morning found me with no biga or poolish to use.  So I consulted my new favorite book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread
    to find a recipe I could make within one day.

    This one may become a staple in my repertoire.  I started it around 10 am and by 1:30 pm we had bread!  Yes we were eating it by 1:45!  Seriously though, the recipe says to wait one to two HOURS before cutting!  Who in the world can sit there and wait one to two HOURS before cutting warm bread!?  My first reading of the recipe I thought it said one to two minutes.  Ok, that's reasonable.  But no!  It was HOURS.  Needless to say, we didn't wait that long.

    Friday, January 15, 2016

    Five Things I Love This Week

    Well, we made it to Friday.  I always feel a sense of accomplishment when Friday comes.  Five days of waking up at 6:00 AM, five bike rides to work (five rides home but they don't count because I always have a tailwind and birds singing in my ear on the ride home), five lunches packed and five dinners made.  Yes, Friday is an accomplishment.  To celebrate, I bring you "Five Things I Love This Week".
    • Bicycle Oven Mitt.  Keeping with the kitchen/food/drink fascination I've been on, I found this oven mitt to blend several of my favorite things.

    • Handmade Bread Knife.  Yep, still on the food obsession.  I can almost call myself an experienced bread maker, having recently completed three loafs!  Read about my experience here, here, and here.  This knife looks beautiful and functional, the best of both worlds in my opinion.

    • Linen Apron.  One thing about bread making you can count on, you will get flour all over yourself.  Enter this beautiful linen apron.
    • Hand Loomed Bath Towel.  Now this is just a splurge.  I love hand loomed towels but I've only splurged enough to buy hand towels.  Would love to one day have one or two of these.  Perhaps I need a loom....

    • Himalayan Salt Bar Goat Milk Soap.  This artisan soap smells like a lemon tree and is a natural, moisturizing way to bring luxury to your bath, especially if you can't afford hand loomed bath towels! 

    Thursday, January 14, 2016

    Did I Really Bring That Home?!

    Back when the weather was nice (doesn't that seem like ages ago!) I picked this up on the curb along with this swing arm vanity.  As is quite obvious, this little trunk was very dirty.

    It sat in my work room all Fall while I worked up the courage to even clean it!  But clean it I did and then the possibilities for it became more obvious.

    Honestly though, it's hard to beat a trunk for a purposeful piece of furniture.  It could be used for a toy chest, foot stool, bench, laundry basket, the possibilities are endless.

    Painting the trunk was an obvious next step as it was already painted and not some fine piece of wood furniture. I used milk paint to paint it.
    This color is Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint (Boxwood)

    I lined the bottom of it with contact paper and then it sat for several more weeks as the holidays came and went.

    I knew I wanted to upholster the top of it so it could be used as a bench/foot stool.  I had a hard time deciding what to upholster it with though.

    I finally decided on 40" Wide X 2 Yard Long Natural Burlap  This burlap was a great price and I'm very pleased with the quality and looks of it.

    I also purchased some new hinges because the old ones really weren't strong enough to move the lid up and down.

    With everything now in hand, I went about upholstering the top of the trunk. 

    And then reassembling it. Here's a look from the back. 

    Here's another before....

    ....and a couple after pictures! 

    Yes I did bring it home and I'm glad I did!

    Tuesday, January 12, 2016

    Peppermint Ice Goat Milk Soap

    I have a new soap on the curing rack right now.  Peppermint Ice is made with all the quality ingredients all Lora's Beauty soaps have; olive oil, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and goat milk.  Included in this one is a dash of Himalayan Pink Salt, Pink Brazilian Clay, and Peppermint Essential Oil.

    This is one bar of soap that will wake you up in the morning and leave your skin tingling and fresh!

    Pink Himalayan Salt is embedded in the bottom of each 5 oz bar.  This exotic salt is not only beautiful but is very nourishing to your skin, leaving it clean, smooth, and soft.

    Pink Brazilian Clay tops the bar of soap.  It is wonderful at cleansing and detoxifying the skin.  This clay is all natural with no artificial dyes.

    Peppermint Essential Oil provides an all natural scent that is not only refreshing to smell but will literally leave your skin tingling and brighter!

    Peppermint Ice Goat Milk Soap available at Lora's Beauty soon!

    Sunday, January 10, 2016

    Italian Bread

    Another weekend and another bread making (and soap making) undertaking!  Man, my full-time day job is seriously getting in the way of my life!

    This weekend I picked another recipe in my Christmas gift bread book.

    I started with making my biga (bread starter) Saturday evening.  Sunday morning I used the biga and made dough for two Italian loafs.

    After a couple hours of rising, you can see how nice the dough was.

    I separated the dough into two pieces and formed a batard, a shape similar to a baguette but slightly shorter.

    Another hour of rising and the dough is ready to bake.  I used my Emile Henry Rectangular Baking Stone, Black
    again and steamed the oven by pouring a cup of steam in a hot cast iron pan and every 30 seconds opening the oven to spray water against the sides for 3 times.

    I believe these loaves are my best yet!  I got the nice air pockets in them and they taste divine!

    Thursday, January 7, 2016

    Bad Weather Riding

    I've lost count, but including this winter,  it has to be almost 20 years of bike (as in bicycle) commuting for me.  That's not including commuting to school (it would be close to 40 years for that, but that's dating me....).  So, what have I learned?  A lot.  For one, it's cold out there!  Two, no matter how experienced you are or how cool your bike is, you're a fool to try to ride when it's icy.  And three, if you live in Portland, Oregon you can count on at least one icy day in the winter.  This week, we had three and since I learned lesson number #2 above, I didn't ride.  I was lucky enough to be able to work from home Monday, the worst day, and Tuesday and Wednesday I took the bus to work.

    Ahhh, the bus....  I'll spare you my thoughts on that (did I mention I've been commuting by bike for 20+ years?).  Anyway, I will say, I'm thankful I have access to a good mass transit system and I'm thankful I can decide when, and when not to take it.  More than any other transit mode (and yes that includes bikes) mass transit is, in my opinion, the future of transportation.  But back to the bike...

    Today I was FINALLY able to ride my bike to work again!  It felt great!  So good, in fact, that I realized I forgot to share a couple items I purchased this winter for bicycle commuting.

    Besides at least one day of ice, you can count on about 300 days a year of rain in Portland (ok, that may be a slight exaggeration, but it feels like that).  If there's one thing I hate, it's riding in the rain with rain pants on.  I find myself slipping on the seat and the extra bulk on my legs feels uncomfortable.  I've been eyeing these awesome bike ponchos in the bike shops lately.  Unfortunately, I couldn't justify the price ($250) since I already had a decent rain jacket.  So, I did the next best thing, I bought a $10 one on Amazon!

    I figured getting this would be a good test to see how I liked riding in a cape.  If I found I liked it and it kept me dry, then I might go get a $250 one.  Well, it took me several times of riding in it before I was comfortable with it.  I kept worrying that the cape would get caught in the front wheel and I'd end up flying over the handlebars, into traffic, where naturally a semi truck would run over my head!  Gross, I know, but sometimes my mind plays out the worst case scenario (or worst-case-ontario!  HA! Shout out to Trailer Park Boys!  Hilarious!  Netflix it, worth it.).  Anyway, what I found was thankfully this didn't happen, but I never did really get comfortable riding in one.  Oh, and the wind, I forgot to mention you can count on at least a week a year of good 40-50 mile per hour wind gusts in Portland.  Wind and capes, yea, not so much.

    Unfortunately, my test with the cheap rain cape wasn't conclusive.  I still feel that the more expensive capes are better in the wind (they have thumb holds where you can hold the cape down) and they aren't as long in the front so getting caught in the front tire isn't much of a problem (although it wasn't really with my cheap cape either, it was all in my mind).  I haven't ruled out getting an expensive one but I won't be getting it until I need new rain gear, probably a couple years from now.

    The other thing I purchased for winter riding has been AWESOME!!!  Besides my feet and my face, my hands get pretty cold when riding in 30 degree weather.  They also get pretty wet in the rain too.  Cold and wet is not a good combination when you depend on your hands to save your life (*brakes*).  So this past December I picked up these at a craft bazaar.

    Here they are on my bike.

    I've ridden with these now about 3 weeks and I can honestly say my hands have stayed warm and dry!  Warm in weather that was 14 degrees (factoring in the windchill) and dry in multiple days of Portland rain.

    The inside of these 'pogies' (can't say I like the name) is warm fleece!  The outside is
    waterproof fabric.  They simply velcro onto your handlebars, either flat or drop bars, and cover your shifters and brake grips.  I've also found it is still easy enough to remove your hand to signal when necessary.

    Sure, they may look a little strange but when it's cold and wet who gives a damn?