hot town, summer in the city

daisy in July

Our backyard thermometer registered 107 degrees for the last few afternoons. Here in P-town, where many don't have AC, that's downright miserable! Fortunately for us, a few years back we purchased one of those room air conditioners. You know, the type that looks like a giant oxygen tank with Michelin man legs that hang out the nearest window and drive your electricity bill up into the same triple digits as the outside temperature. Oh yes, for this large white cold box, I am extremely grateful. Without it we would be forced to join the thousands of Portlanders baring it all at the local outdoor pool (where they had to cut off the number of visitors to 450), or at our nearby mall where people right now are draped over hard wooden benches reading books, napping, changing diapers (I know this for a fact because we've already spent two evenings shopping there in the last few days). I'm here to tell you, it's an expensive endeavor for us!

Yesterday I filled the bathtub with cold water and stayed in there until the hot flashes subsided. So far today it's a civilized 90 degrees, and I feel like a new woman!

Portland heat wave

daisies after heat wave

That last picture is just one example of the heat's effect on our beautiful flowers. I'd show you what it's done to us, but I'm afraid you would run away and never return.

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This sunshine baby is my daughters new love. She requested a yellow baby for herself, so we made one together on a rainy summerday.

If You wish You can order one like this too in my etsy shop.

Doll for Jewels daughter

have studio, will travel

It's been over a month now since I shot photos for Yellow Rose Dance Studio's spring dance. On the day of the performance, I set up a mini studio where the dancers could come before or after their time on stage. It was so much fun! and I'm excited to share some of the resulting images with you.


I learned later that these two girls are cousins. Too cute! I liked this same image as a black and white too...

dancers in black and white


A weary cowboy after his performances...

weary cowboy




Many dancers had a lot of fun with this jumping pose...




But this girl was exceptionally springy...

jumping sailor



I loved the interaction between these two when I had them strike a spinning pose...




A female Elvis...

female elvis

female elvis

female elvis

Coincidentally, this boy's name is Chip...

boy eating cookie

I'm working on creating a totally new lighting style and look for their winter performance. Possibly similar to the style I used with Iz, Nelly and Bailey back in February?

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New Root Child Girl

This doll I made for Maria. Her hair is made from the softest merino wool. It is needled onto the head in a way that it can be combed and braided with the fingers. All different kinds of hairstyles can be created.

Blueberry Orange Brioche Tart -- Tuesdays with Dorie

Our TWD treat of the week was picked by Denise of Chez Us, she chose Brioche Plum Tart, thank you Denise! You can visit her site for the recipe if you would like to give this a try.

I had plums all ready to go into this but this morning while my dough was resting I visited Michelle's site and fell in love with her blueberry brioche and since I had some blueberries to use up, I decided to save the plums for another day and go the blueberry route.

I used orange marmalade as my 'jam' since the blueberry orange combo is one I really enjoy.

I baked in my 10 inch heart tart pan at 375 (since it is a darker tart pan I didn't want it way over browned on the outside) for 25 minutes and my tart was done!

After trying this I have a hard time calling it a tart, to me it is more of a brioche baked in a tart pan :) While I was pressing the dough into the pan, I thought to myself I could probably do two tarts, one blueberry and one plum, and have a thinner "crust" but I decided not to, but now I know that would have worked out fine.

And there you have it, a very nice blueberry breakfast bread type tart that the kids really enjoyed and I had the pleasure of making!

Sweet Melissa Sundays -- Butterscotch Cashew Bars

Just a quick little very late post for Sweet Melissa Sundays -- I know I haven't posted in the past few Sundays but I've been trying to bake along, for some reason this has been the busiest time of year for us. Anyway, just wanted to share a picture of those Butterscotch Cashew Bars we made a few weeks ago, picked by Pamela of Cookies with Boys , thank you Pamela, these were wonderful! You can find the recipe for these bars here at Pamela's site. When it was my week to pick I asked my husband to guess which recipe he thought I was going to choose and he thought I would pick these since I absolutely love butterscotch and cashews :)

Yesterday was my birthday and I was planning on making the blueberry cheesecake, but we ended up taking a spur of the moment trip to Lake Michigan, after my husband suggested that and dinner at a waterfront restaurant, how could I say no? I'm hoping to make my cheesecake today, it sounds so good!

Tribute to Katharine Hepburn Brownies -- Tuesdays with Dorie

This is going to be a super quick post, we've been having company and keeping extra busy over the long holiday weekend. Today's TWD treat is picked by Lisa of Surviving Oz, who recently won the TWD logo contest by designing a beautiful logo for our group, thank you Lisa! The brownies are done and look wonderful, won't serve them until later though so no comments yet on taste or texture. My only change was to use semisweet chocolate chips instead of the chopped chocolate, I'm excited about the cinnamon and coffee flavors and can't wait to give these a try. I baked in a small rectangle tart pan and they look so delicious!

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July -- we are going out of town today but I can't wait to get some free computer time and visit all of my blogging friends when we are home!

Happy 4th from my little messy guy!

Happy 4th!

St Paul Rodeo

Buck Lake

St Paul rodeo, hiking, swimming in a cold mountain lake, more hiking, backyard bbq dinners and good friends. What a great long weekend it was! I hope you all had a fabulous 4th!

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My Kitchen My World -- Macedonia

For My Kitchen My World -- destination Macedonia, I found a recipe online for Macedonian Bread and after reading through the directions I thought these would turn out like mini pita type flatbreads and they did. These were very easy to make and puffed up with little pockets.

Before I get to the recipe, I have to tell a little story about a pen pal I had (back when I was in school) that lived in Macedonia. After we had been pen pals for a while I got a surprise letter saying that my pen pal's family had won a visa lottery of sorts to leave Macedonia and come to America and he wondered if I could help his family get to the USA. I got my mom involved and soon we found a Macedonian church that would help his family start out their American dream, it was such an adventure going to the airport -- not for a vacation but to welcome a family to the USA for the first time. I remember us leaving the airport and driving my pen pal and his family to a Macedonian home for a big welcome dinner. Here we were, three families who had never met before, all sitting down to share a wonderful meal and coming together like we were one big family. I'm so sorry to say I lost touch with this pen pal many years ago, I hope he and his family are doing well and would love to sit down now that we are 'all grown up' and reconnect.

Macedonian Bread
(mini flatbreads)

1 package (1 tablespoon) active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine yeast with 1 1/2 cups of flour. Combine water, oil, salt, and sugar and add to yeast mixture. Beat for 1/2 minute with an electric mixer at low speed; then beat for 3 minutes at high speed. Work in remaining flour by hand to form a smooth and elastic dough.

Put in a greased bowl in a warm spot, cover, and let rise for 45 minutes. Punch dough down, divide into 12 pieces, and roll each into a ball. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Flatten each ball into a 5-inch circle. Place on a greased baking sheet; cover and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 200°C. (392 F -- I used 395)

Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned on bottom. Immediately wrap in foil and cool.

These were delicious little breads, open to lots of serving possibilities, I think I'd like them best served with a Greek style salad or falafel -- or both. They were also great with butter and guava jelly :) My favorite part of this recipe is the step at the end about wrapping the breads in tin foil and letting them cool wrapped up. This provided a great chewy texture that I'm used to restaurant flatbreads having, but I haven't been able to recreate at home until now. This is a great recipe to start with if you are nervous about making a pita type bread. I'd love to use it again and add some herbs and maybe garlic to the dough, yum!

If you would like to cook along with us as we "travel" the globe through recipes, please visit My Kitchen My World, next up: The Bahamas!

Pizza Party

One of our favorite family dinners is pizza. I think everyone loves pizza, it is so versatile, it's fairly easy to make, and the topping combinations are endless. When I heard Bread Baking Day was having a Pizza Party for their 2nd anniversary, I just had to bake along :)

BreadBakingDay #21 - Pizza Party and giveaways for 2 years anniversary - last day of sumbission July 1st

Lately I've been trying lots of new crust recipes, some with semolina flour, all purpose, bread flour, etc. but I'm still having the best of luck with this recipe, which is super easy to start in the bread machine and easily doubled. I recently bought a pizza stone and have been using that for an extra crispy and crusty crust, we have a double wall oven and the smaller bottom oven is not used that often so the stone stays down there, which works out great.

I have a pizza baking 'system' that I've come up with -- I usually bake my pizza on a pan (cookie sheet) and then slide it off of the sheet right on to the oven rack for the last couple of minutes and turn on the broiler to brown the topping. That has worked out the best. The first couple of times I used the pizza stone the top was underdone in my opinion, while the crust was a little too crusty. So I've gotten to the point where to get pizzas just perfect I start on the pan, bake almost completely, broil for a minute to get the top "well done" -- then slide the pizza into the lower oven on the pizza stone for a couple of minutes to crisp up that bottom. It sounds like a lot of work, but really it's not that bad, and it makes the absolute best homemade pizza I've been able to come up with. I'm always getting compliments, and even my super picky husband loves my pizza, although we of course disagree on toppings :)

My old basic pizza sauce started with tomato paste, but lately I've fallen for San Marzano tomatoes, and am experimenting with different brands to find my favorite. My last order of San Marzanos were DeLallo Organic, with the controversial DOP stamps on the label.

These tomatoes are wonderful, they do contain basil, which some San Marzano fans say masks true flavor, but I like basil and don't mind the extra big leaf packed with my tomatoes. Below is a photo of exactly what you get in a can of DeLallo San Marzanos. Yum! I would order this brand again.

To make a simple sauce with the San Marzanos, I just mash they gently with a potato masher, add a touch of sea salt and a touch of sugar. Sometimes I add some minced fresh basil, as well as roasted garlic for a deeper sauce flavor.

I'm also a fan of white pizzas, which I've heard refer to both pizzas with an alfredo sauce or pizzas with no sauce or just olive oil. This one is a Greek inspired white pizza...

topped with Halloumi -- one of my favorite cheeses, thanks to many trips to Greektown when I was younger -- and also crumbled feta and sliced jumbo black olives, drizzled with olive oil and baked. So delicious!

My husband doesn't like black olives or tomatoes, but prefers a more traditional American pizza with lots of cheese and pepperoni. The kids love pizza nights and making their own creations, and are getting more adventurous with their toppings, which is always nice for me to see. Pizza night is fun night around here!