Taking Life One Step At A Time

Taking Life One Step At  A Time

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Best Pizza Dough EVER!

If you like homemade pizza dough and enjoy thick crusts, this is the recipe for you!

This recipe makes 3 pizza dough crusts and can be frozen.

1 (.25 oz) pkg dry yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 Cups warm water (110 degrees)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 Cup whole wheat flour
5 1/2 Cups bread flour

In a large bowl dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let sit until creamy (about 10 minutes). Stir olive oil, wheat flour, salt, and 4 cups bread flour into yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time. Stir well after each addition.

When done, knead dough on a floured surface for about 8 minutes.

Lightly oil a mixing bowl and put in dough, coating all sides well. Cover with a damp cloth and put in warm place to rise until doubled (1 hour). Punch down and divide into 3 pieces.

Roll each piece into rounds and cover them to rise for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Use a rolling pin and roll each round to fit your pizza pans. Add desired toppings. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes or until the pizza is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

DIY Flannel Board

A certain little two year old in my life loves playing with magnets and stickers. He actually likes anything that can be put somewhere and feels great accomplishment after doing so. It may be keys in the trash can, phones placed on a random bookshelf, or batteries shoved into the VCR.

To provide a constructive outlet for his "putting" obsession, I created a flannelboard to give him at Christmas. It was super easy and I think he's going to love it.

To start with, head to a craft store. You'll need the following:

one art canvas - any size
flannel material - any color and large enough to cover the canvas with a little extra
rectangles of white felt - these are sold by the sheet and are usually around 9"x11"
printable iron-on transfer sheets.
(I got these at Walmart for much cheaper than at craft stores like Hobby Lobby. Craft stores had them 2 sheets for $10. I found them at Walmart 7 sheets for $10. I purchased the ones that are transfers for light fabric. If you choose to have darker felt pieces, then buy specific transfers for dark fabric.)
a pillowcase
a staple gun
an iron

To begin, iron out your flannel to remove any wrinkles. Then carefully and tightly wrap the flannel around the front of the canvas. Secure it to the back of the canvas using the staple gun. You should end up with a tightly stretched flannel canvas. You can trim the excess flannel after the whole piece is secured well.

Next, use your computer to find images you'd like to use for your flannel board pieces. You could just use felt to create your own pieces, but I'm not artistic enough for that. Some people use fabric paint, googly eyes, and all sorts of fancy things to make the felt pieces. For me, printing the images from the computer was good enough! Once you've chosen the images you want, just print them onto your printable transfer sheets. **Be sure to read the directions carefully so that you are printing on the right side!**

And a word to the wise. Numbers and letters will iron on backwards from how they print. So be sure they are printed backwards in order to have them correctly ironed on to your felt.

Once you've printed out your images, simply follow the directions on your transfer sheet package to iron the images onto the felt. It is not recommended to iron on an ironing board. Instead use the kitchen counter top and simply place a pillow case between the counter and your felt.

Once the transfers are complete, cut carefully around the images and voila! You have yourself a flannel board and several felt pieces to go with it! You can even place the pieces in a cute little container to keep things organized.

The thing I love about this is that I can add to the pieces as my children's interests change. Right now, he loves all things that move and animals. So I made him a barn set, a fishing scene, and several emergency vehicles and personnel. However, I'm sure that in the next month or two I'll be adding an entire Thomas the Tank Engine set complete with a roundabout and track. I also think a set of food in a restaurant series would be pretty neat. The possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Purpose-filled Christmas Cards

Do you ever wonder what to do with all the beautiful Christmas cards that come in the mail at this time of year? Sure, some of them have pictures of friends which you can then put on your fridge. But others are just cards with a little note tucked in. It seems a shame to quickly read them and then toss them in the garbage. Why not do something productive with them since people have taken the time and expense to send them to you?

image from itsbetterhandmade.com

Last year a friend posted a status on facebook that has had me anticipating the arrival of Christmas cards for 12 months! She and her family recently left their comfortable home in the States to live in Kenya as missionaries. They gave up much and left all of their friends and family to live in an unknown place amongst strangers. Perhaps because of a little homesickness, the Christmas cards that made it to them in Africa were extra special. My sweet friend wrote something like this (and I'm paraphrasing): We love receiving the cards from friends and family. It is a joy to open one each evening, read the card and look at the picture, and then spend time in prayer for the ones who sent it.

Her post was like a refreshing glass of water! The sometimes seemingly ridiculous nature of sending out cards once a year was suddenly given new purpose. We receive cards from so many friends and family members. Cards that remind us of lasting friendships, cards that celebrate new life and wonderful happenings, cards that tell of sadness and hardship. While I love to get and read Christmas cards, I've found that my family rarely joins in. The kids look at the pictures sent, but often see only a sea of strangers. My husband reads the ones that I force into his hands, but otherwise takes no part in this particular holiday tradition.

This year will be different though! As we sit and enjoy our dinner together, we'll choose a different card each night to read. We'll tell of how we know the sender. As a family we'll rejoice or mourn with those we love while we read their news. And then we'll do something productive. We'll pray for the one who sent the card. We'll join our voices and our hearts together and seek the Lord on their behalf. Why? Because Christmas isn't about cards and gifts and busy schedules. Christmas is about Jesus. And one of the ways we honor Him is by loving our neighbors - nomatter how far away.

We've already begun our new tradition. And while the kids aren't used to it yet, I hope we'll get enough cards to be going long into January. I've already peeked at tonight's card and it's one from friends who have recently returned to the mission field in a very difficult place. I look forward to a sweet time of prayer for this dear couple, and I look forward to the seeds it will plant in my own children's hearts as they hear of God's work in the lives of others around the world.