Countdown to Christmas: Amish Friendship Bread

Friendship Bread

Every year, I start a batch of Amish Friendship bread before Christmas.  When it is time to make the bread, instead of giving away part of the starter, I go ahead and make all five batches of bread.  It yields 30 small loaves.  I cut nesting tags using my Silhouette Cameo and tie each loaf with baker’s string.  We give them to co-workers, neighbors and other friends.

I thought I would share the starter/bread recipe that I use here.

Amish Friendship Bread

Starter

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar

*Do not use metal bowls or spoons.  Do not refrigerate*

Dissolve yeast in small amount of warm water.  Mix all ingredients together in ample size bowl (it will grow).  Transfer starter to a 1-gallon ziplock bag.  This is day 1 of the recipe.

Day1:   Do nothing to starter
Day 2:   Squeeze bag.
Day 3:   Squeeze bag.
Day 4:   Squeeze bag.
Day 5:   Squeeze bag.
Day 6:   (In bag) add 1 cup self-rising flour, 1 cup milk, and 1 cup sugar.  Seal bag. Squeeze bag to mix.
Day 7:   Squeeze bag.
Day 8:   Squeeze bag.
Day 9:   Squeeze bag.
Day 10:   In a plastic bowl, combine the bag of mix with 1 cup milk, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup self-rising flour.  Mix well with spoon.  Pour 1 cup of starter in a 1-gallon ziplock bag.  Make 3 more bags with 1 cup starter each.  Total of 4 bags.  Keep 1 bag and give the other 3 bags with this recipe to friends.  You will be left with 1 cup of starter in the bowl.

(Bread may be made on day 8, 9, or 10)

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2 c. self-rising flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. sugar
1 large box instant vanilla pudding
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)
1 c. oil
1/2 c. milk
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix by hand.  Grease 6 small loaf pans.  Mix 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 3 Tbsp. sugar.  Coat bottom and sides of pans with mixture.  Fill each pan 1/2 full with batter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Bake for 45 minutes at 325° (I use the convection oven at 300°)

Countdown to Christmas: Inside

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This year, I was able to plug our tree up in the foyer without running extension cords into the living room, thanks to the new outlet the electricians installed earlier this year.  As always our tree is filled with ornaments we pick up on vacations and for important life events.  This year we added a few more:

Jovie OrnamentIn April, we adopted our second dog, Jovie.  Her ornament is almost identical to Buddy’s but I couldn’t find anything else I liked any better.  The Personalized tags I added to the top were from a necklace I ordered through Groopdealz.
Seattle OrnamentIn August, I picked up two ornaments during the road trip from Seattle to San Francisco with my mom and sister.  The first was from the Space Needle, and the second is from the National Redwood Forest.
Redwood Ornament Dianne OrnamentIn May my mom’s only sister passed away from cancer.  She was like a second mother to my sister and me – we took most of our vacations with her as we grew up.  She has given me quite a few ornaments over the years, but each niece and nephew got these this year.  She had cross-stitched them in 1990.  She is so missed by all of us.

To check out our other ornaments and trees from years past, go here.Card HolderI moved my card holders into the foyer this year now that I’ve added the botanical prints on the dining room wall.

Table SettingOn the breakfast table, I added my one-piece nativity under a cloche and slipped an old beaded wreath around it. I use simple snowflake dishes from Target and pair them with my everyday china and some silver glass chargers that I picked up at Goodwill several years ago.  I added the red plaid napkins this year to pick up on the red wreath in the center.DSC02592In the dry bar area where I keep my stand mixer, I filled the bowl with contemporary Shiny Brite ornaments I found on clearance after last Christmas.

Christmas Centerpiece

My dining room table is almost bare this year.  I end up using the table a lot so this is what happens.  I’ve been looking for a table runner that can at least fill it out a little more – I just haven’t found one I love yet.  I filled my large lantern with vintage ornaments I started collecting a few years ago.  I buy a couple more each year.

In the background, I’ve added a couple of red pillows to my normal green ones in the living room.  I also use a red metal tray on the coffee table to add a little more color.
I put all of my nativity sets in the den.  I used the Willow Tree set from Bradley’s grandparents on the mantle.  I added magnolia branches and some electric candles my mom gave me for my birthday to fill out the sides of the mantle.

Christmas Mantle

This nativity was a wedding shower gift from my aunt.  She knew that I prefer nativities with abstract faces.  It means even more now that she’s gone.Dianne Nativity

Bradley’s dad brought this nativity back from Africa several years ago.  Africa Nativity As always, one our favorite Christmas tchotchkes is the big bulb ornament I made several years ago.  I also put out some brass deer I got from Goodwill with a gold mercury glass tree.Bulb Ornament

And the bulldog treat jar can’t be left out, so he got a santa hat this year.  The tiny nativity ornament next to him was a gift from my best friend.  Her husband picked it up on a mission trip to Peru.Christmas Bulldog

To check out our outdoor decor, go here.

Countdown to Christmas: Outside

House ChristmasFor Christmas this year, I broke down and bought wreaths for each window, because with so much symmetry to our house I really like the look of the wreaths.  I was able to get them hung, but bows will have to wait until next year.  I just have too much going on to get 11 wreath bows made before Christmas this year!

I kept the UGA wreath on the front door, because I still love it.

Front Door

Front Door2

For my birthday, my mom and sister made and bought cheery pillows for the chairs on our front porch.  I love them!  I should probably change out the seat cushions this time of year as well…

Front Porch2

Front Porch1

The only other outdoor decor we do is white string lights wrapped around the trunk of the Japanese Maple tree in front of the garage.

 

Sun Tunnels

Our den, where we spend a lot of time when we are home, stays pretty dark during the day.  It is flanked by the garage on one side, a covered screened porch on the opposite side, and a fireplace wall with no windows.  I have always thought that I would love to add small, high windows on either side of the fireplace and have built-ins installed below them.  I’m sure that will be a pretty good sized budget project, so in the short-term (and as our gift to each other for our 10th anniversary) we decided to add two sun tunnels to the room to add a little natural light.  They go through the attic and roof to let sunlight into the room.  From inside they look like very large recessed light fixtures.

Here is the room with the new sun tunnels installed:
Den 11.11.15

Here is the room before:
Den 10.13.15

Both pictures were taken on sunny afternoons, with the same camera setting and neither were altered in post-processing.  It isn’t a glaring difference, but the extra bit of light really brings the room alive.

Here are the installed sun tunnels.  Each is about 14″ across.Sun Tunnels

The tunnels without the cover:2015-10-29 11.56.21 HDR-2

During installation:2015-10-29 12.06.26

Seattle to San Francisco

At the end of August, my mom and I flew to Seattle and met up with my sister for a road trip that would take us back to San Francisco over 5 days.  We spent the first two days touring Seattle.  We visited the Space Needle, Chihuly Gardens, and went on a whale watching tour the first day.

Space Needle from Chihuly Gardens:
Space Needle

My favorite piece at Chihuly Gardens was this glass chandelier:
Chuhuly

We got to see a pod of Orca (Killer) Whales:
Orca Whales

On our second day in Seattle, my mom and I took a food tour through Pike Place Market.  I would highly recommend this tour – the food and our guide were both wonderful!  We tried fresh donuts, smoked salmon (and one of our tourmates got to catch the fish!), Beecher’s mac-n-cheese, Chukar cherries, clam chowder, piroshkies and crab cakes.  My favorites were the savory piroshky and the clam chowder.

The original Starbucks in Pike Place Market:Pikes Place

Mom enjoying her clam chowder:Food Tour

We stopped along the way in Oregon to do a little shopping, but not much else – just driving.  We spent one afternoon in Portland eating from food trucks and walking around, so I think Bradley and I will visit there again in the future to really experience it fully.  Once we got into California, we made our way to the Redwood National Forest.  Bradley and I had only ever made it up to Muir Woods before, so this was a treat.  One of the really interesting stops was called fern canyon.  Towering walls on both sides of you covered in ferns – it was beautiful.

Redwoods

Fern Canyon

Once we got into San Francisco, Bradley flew in to meet up with us.  We spent the rest of the week trying a few new things, as well as revisiting some of our favorites.  We went back to the SF Botanical Gardens:SF Botanical GardenWe also caught a Giants game.  They have a beautiful stadium, but I was so over being hot all week (strange to say about SF) that I spent a lot of the game watching on tvs in the concession stand area.

SF Giants

We researched some new places to eat this time, ending up at a hole-in-the-wall place in chinatown in which very little english was spoken and we ate our food huddled on a door stoop.  One morning we ate at a french brunch place called Zazie.  We also tried a good burger place in Berkeley called Eureka and wandered around a game shop nearby.

Games of Berkeley

On Sunday we visited a strategic partner of Northpoint called New Vintage Church:
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