Happy Independence Day!

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Homemade Laundry Powder

I cup washing soda

I cup Borax

1 bar of Fels Naptha Soap (grated)

A few months ago I found a great recipe to make your own laundry powder.  I gave it a try and now it is the only laundry powder I use.  It is very effective and my laundry comes out clean and spotless.  People who have little children know that dandelion season is horrible for clothes.  Lilija’s shirts and dresses used to be covered with dandelion stains every spring.  I tried everything you could possibly find in a laundry aisle but nothing seemed to work for the stains.  Ever since I started using this product, Lilija’s stained clothes improved incredibly.

Since I do at least one to two loads of laundry every day, I make my laundry powder from five Fels Naptha bars.  To make it easier, I use my Kitchen Aid mixer to shred the soap.

I use the finest shredder attachment to make sure the soap will dissolve in the washing machine.  Once the soap has been shredded, I mix it with washing soda and Borax.  I add a ¼ cup of laundry powder to each load of laundry.  If I have some clothes that have very dark stains, I soak them overnight in a bucket with warm water and 1/2 cup of laundry powder.  The next morning I wash the clothes with the rest of the laundry and our clothes come out clean and stainless.

Fatty Fat

After supper the kids and I went outside.   As the children were running around and getting their daily exercise, Z and I did some gardening.  I was pulling out weeds when Lilija noticed a brown, bumpy and slimy looking “friend”- a toad in my flowerbed.

The girls instantly claimed the toad as their new pet.  They named him Fatty Fat because according to Kaiva the toad is more “on the round side”.  I gave the girls a cardboard box and they filled it with grass and leaves.  The toad was carried and petted all night.

I’m not sure how I’m going to tell the girls, that our toad needs to be released.  Our children clearly need a permanent pet.  I might just let Fatty go later tonight and tell the girls that Fatty went home to his mommy.  Let’s hope that there are not too many tears in the morning.

Homemade butter

This morning we made homemade butter which brought back memories from my childhood.  Growing up in the former Soviet Union, people had a hard time getting groceries they needed.  Supermarkets as we know did not exist.  The stores were full of half empty shelves.  To get basic groceries like bread and milk, people had to wait for hours and even then you were not guaranteed to get them.  Adults had to bring all their children to wait in lines because that gave a chance to get more groceries.  As a child, I remember waiting in lines that seemed endless.  Since my parents had a herd of children, once a month we had an access to shop at a special store where only families with many children could buy food.  During that time, my mom bought heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk and other “treats”.  Later that day my mom would make homemade butter which tasted absolutely delicious with fresh bread.

Most days I don’t think about my childhood and how I grew up until something happens that makes me think and miss the time I had with my family back in Latvia.  I am glad that by showing our girls how to make homemade butter I was able to share this story of my childhood.

Memorial Day Weekend

Yesterday we took our children to the State trail that goes near our little town.  We had so much fun hiking that today we decided to hike even farther away.

To make things more interesting and exciting, my husband dropped off our car at a “secret” spot and we had to find the car.

It took us a total of 4 ½ miles and 3 ½ hours to relocate the vehicle.  That might be nothing for adults, but for kids’ little feet that was a very long walk.

Evi's little feet were full of blisters. Good thing daddy had his"special magic" bandages in his pocket

During our search, we spotted a few Orioles, multiple butterflies, a dragonfly, a lost kitty and even a deer that jumped out behind us and scared us.

Kaiva and Lilija wanted to take these caterpillars home because they reminded them of our friends

The last half a mile was tough for everybody but as soon Kaiva and Lilija spotted our car, they forgot all about being tired and ran as fast as they could.

We had a very fun and relaxing time with our family and the children are definitely having a great night’s sleep tonight!

Authentic New York-Style Homemade Bagels

INGREDIENTS:

***Dough***
1 1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons malt syrup
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (more if needed)

***Kettle Water***
6 quarts water
2 tablespoons malt syrup or powder
1 teaspoon salt


***Toppings (optional)***

sesame seeds, poppy seeds, minced fresh garlic, minced fresh onion, caraway seeds, corn meal for sprinkling baking sheet (optional)

PREPARATION:

In a large mixing bowl, stir together water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes. 

With a wooden spoon, stir in oil, malt and one cup of the flour. Add salt, then enough of remaining flour to make a stiff dough. 

On a lightly floured surface, knead for 10 to 12 minutes. Cover with a floured dish towel and allow dough to rest on a board for about 15 minutes. 

Divide dough into 8 sections and form each section into 10-inch long strips. Roll the ends together to seal and make a ring. Place on a lightly floured surface, cover, and let bagels rest 15 to 20 minutes, rising about halfway and becoming slightly puffy. 

Meanwhile, fill a large cooking pot or Dutch oven three quarters full with water. Add the malt syrup and salt. 

Bring water to a boil. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with baking parchment and, if desired, sprinkle generously with corn meal. Set aside. 

Line two other baking sheets with a kitchen towel, set near your stove. Reduce boiling water to a simmer and cook 2 bagels at a time (do not crowd the pot). Simmer bagels for about 45 seconds on one side, then turn and cook other side for another 45 seconds and then drain bagels on the towel-lined baking sheet. 

Carefully place bagels on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake bagels plain or sprinkle with a topping of your choice. Place in the hot oven, immediately reduce heat to 425 degrees F, and bake about 17 to 25 minutes. When almost baked, turn bagels over (a pair of tongs do the job easily). If you have a baking stone, finish bagels on the stone directly. Transfer bagels to wire rack to cool. 

I wish I could say that I came up with this delicious homemade bagel recipe.  The recipe can be found here.  I can promise you these are one of the best tasting bagels ever.  They come out chewy yet moist and puffy.  I love how our house fills up with a fresh bread smell.  Our kids can easily eat half the bagels in just a few minutes.  That is the reason I double the dough. If we have any leftover bagels, I put them in the freezer.

After I made the dough, I divided it and formed into 15 10-inch long strips

I rolled the ends together and made a ring

Once the bagels were formed, I let them rest for 20 minutes.

I simmered the bagels in a Dutch Oven for about a minute on each side.

First bagels out of the oven

The bagels taste great with a little bit of butter

Basket Lining

It’s been very cold and rainy the last few days so the kids and I have been spending more time inside.  During this time, I decide to organize our tiny entrance.

I decided to give our shoe brushes and polish a new home.  I took an old basket measured the bottom and the sides and came up with my basic pattern for a basket lining.

I serged the side pieces together and then attached to the bottom.

I sewed down a casing that was about an inch wide.  Right before I sewed the casing closed, I inserted ¼ inches wide elastic.  The elastic helps the lining to stay in place.

My quick shoe polish basket is all finished now.