Tuesday, September 30

Brioche Hamburger Buns

It's recipe time!!!

I promised a few of you the recipe for those brioche buns I made a few weeks ago, so here it is! There's nothing more to say except: make these... you will not be disappointed. Oh, and making bread takes patience and planning, so make sure you have plenty of that.

Brioche Hamburger Buns

(Recipe from The Clever Carrot)
makes 8 buns

1 cup warm water (warmer than your body temperature, but not scalding!)
3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
2½ tablespoons sugar
1 large egg, beaten + 1 egg for egg wash
3 cups bread flour
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine the water, milk, yeast and sugar. Whisk, then let stand until frothy, about 5 minutes. (My yeast mixture rarely bubbles, but don't worry if it doesn't, your dough will still rise!)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add both of the flours, salt and butter. Using the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients until the butter is the size of crumbs. Stir in yeast mixture and 1 beaten egg. Run the mixer on medium-low speed until a dough forms and pulls away from the sides; be patient, this will take about ten minutes.

Shape the dough into a rough ball and return it to the bowl. (I also swipe a lightly oiled paper towel around the bowl before putting the dough back in.) Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled is size. This could take anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is. Check the dough every half hour or so.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Once the dough has doubled in size, use a dough scraper or a knife to divide the dough into 8 equal parts. To shape the dough into balls, pull the sides of your dough up towards its center and pinch everything together, flip the ball over and roll it with both hands until it is smooth. (This process is hard to describe in words... here is a great video to show you what I mean.) Transfer the buns to a parchment lined baking sheet, placing them 2 to 3 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let them rise in a warm place until puffy, approximately 1-2 hours. They should be a bit smaller than the size you ultimately want them... they will get even bigger in the oven. I actually let mine sit a touch too long and they over-proofed slightly!

To make the egg wash, beat the remaining egg with a splash of water. When the buns are finished rising, gently brush them with egg wash. Preheat your oven to 400 F. and place a shallow baking pan on the oven floor. Before the dough goes in, fill the pan with a little bit of water. This will help create steam in the oven, which will help keep the bread moist. Bake until golden brown all around, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

* Even though warm, fresh baked bread is one of the most delicious things in the world, it is important to let the buns cool to room temperature before cutting them because bread keeps cooking even after it is out of the oven. If you cut into it too early, you'll ruin the best part of it- the soft doughy insides! So make these buns ahead of time. If you won't eat all 8 buns in one sitting, they freeze very well. Just pull them out in the morning and warm them back up in the oven for a few minutes once thawed.*

Sunday, September 28

Week in Photos: Week 39

I reorganized our kitchen and living room and found a way to display my fun napkins. All two of them...

Putting things into focus.

It makes me so happy to see these two getting along so well!

Lloyd is a curious little guy.

I was trying to take a photo of a squirrel with an apple in the bush.

This would make a good background for something.

This burrito bowl was not what I was expecting!

Mushroom mushroom (badger badger badger badger).

Trying things on at Anthropologie. (There's an extra 25% off sale!)

I bought this dress. And a really cool necklace.

Then I went to Terrain and didn't want to leave. (More photos later this week!)

I bought some things there too.

Jazzing up my little corner of our office.

Went to the Clover Market this morning and I found three (3!!!) more Smurf glasses.
Now I'm only missing Hefty, Handy, and Clumsy before my collection is complete.

We recently fired one of our two line-cooks at work, so I've been mixing a little line work into my regular baking routine. I'm going to be working pretty much every other Saturday until we hire a replacement, which limits my weekend time (and of course October is the month when everyone want to make plans!), but it's a fun change of pace to work the line again. I used to be a line cook in the pastry kitchen at a fine dining restaurant (back in 2009) but doing that 45-50 hours per week made me realize I preferred the prepping/baking part of my day over working the line. But I can handle an 8 hour line shift every two weeks! It just feels so good when things run smoothly in-and-out of the kitchen. Plus, working 6-day weeks really makes me appreciate 5-day work weeks.

I hope you had an awesome week!!

Friday, September 26

Fun Finds Friday #71

It has been a while since my last fun finds post! My Fridays have been surprisingly busy... or perhaps not busy, just long and involved, and by the time I get home I don't want to sit down and write out a post. I've been trying to be better about prepping posts for the week, but that never ends up happening. But I had time this morning, so here are some fun finds!

This is so me.

Who else wants to go to the National Beard & Mustache Championships?

How cool is this necklace?!

+ You should read this post about gratitude.
+ Seven movies to watch when you want to cry. (When do you ever want to cry...?)
+ We don't have kids, or plan to, but I still enjoyed reading this piece about homeschooling.
+ Hermits exist! That was a fun article to read.
+ Have you heard about Professor Dumpster?
+ Pay attention to the details.

Happy Friday!!

Tuesday, September 23

Easy Like Sunday Brunch

I rarely make it out to a Sunday brunch, but when I do, I make sure to wear something that gives me plenty of room for the food-baby that inevitably ensues. This top and skirt combo may not be the most flattering fit together, but they're perfect for a casual brunch date with friends. If you're wondering, I ordered the Pit with a Bottom... one egg, one slice of bacon, one scrapple (which I discovered I do not like...), hash browns, and one chocolate chip pancake. Believe me, it's a lot more filling than it sounds in writing. The best part of brunch though? I discovered a little stationary/card store nearby that sold all sorts of quirky little things, and the cutest cards! I have a weakness for paper products and could easily spend some serious money there... alas, I settled for one card (for an upcoming wedding) and one notepad.

top: Anthropologie / skirt: BCBG Max Azria / shoes: Seychelles / glasses: Tortoise & Blonde

I love the details on this top! It's as if someone took a button up and a t-shirt and stitched the two together. And of course, I can never resist stripes, buttons, or three-quarter sleeves. It's all of my favorite things, in one shirt!

Sunday, September 21

Week in Photos: Week 38

Shawn woke up to the smell of bacon on his birthday.

We love playing find the Lloyd...

Taco taco taco

Soooo delicious!

If you empty the boxes, the cats will come.

Seriously though.

Who's hiding behind that sun beam?

Ah, that's who!

Men on a roof at work. I think I got caught taking a photo!

Lloyd sleeps in the weirdest ways.

Had lunch where I work for the first time ever!

Haven't done a farmer's market post in a while... plus, the teeniest tomato!

Not a lot of photos this week, mainly because not a lot happened this week. Shawn turned 30 on Monday, and since he's not really into celebrating his birthdays, we kept it quiet with some tacos, beer, and football. He thinks he's too old now, but I can't wait to turn thirty! Maybe it's just me, but I think people take you more seriously once you're thirty-something. Before thirty, people don't value your opinion because "you're still young, you still have so much to learn...", but we spend our whole lives learning! It shouldn't matter how old we are.

So, Shawn's birthday, and the 5K I ran with my siblings... that's about it! Things have been slow at work, so I haven't had much to take photos of there either. Hopefully this week will be more eventful.

I hope you had a fantastic week!

Saturday, September 20

On Body Image and Strength

I ran a 5K today! (With my siblings!)

The last time I did a 5K was ten years ago, and I was one of the volunteers handing out water. I don't run. Heck, I barely even exercise. I'm just lucky that my job keeps me on my feet for at least eight hours a day, otherwise... well, I don't want to imagine the otherwise. I used to do yoga 3-4 times a week, and I really loved it, and that was the best I'd ever felt in terms of feeling strong, and fit. Then I moved, and the next studio I started going to closed after a month of me joining. So I stopped doing yoga because I struggled with developing a home practice. Then, a few years later, I tried doing the 30 Day Shred for a bit, and I kept it up for about a month and then I stopped. Then I joined a gym that was within walking distance of our new apartment, and I was really enjoying the classes, and two weeks later they announced that they were closing. So I tried to get back into doing yoga and fitness stuff at home... and eventually I kept making excuses to avoid it. I've never been good at developing motivation, or staying motivated in general. And as much as I love yoga, classes are really expensive, and I just don't get the same satisfaction when I do it at home. But I really want to get back into some kind of exercise routine!

Growing up, I never really struggled with body image issues. Aside from an abundance of facial and back acne which sorted itself out once I started taking birth control pills, I really didn't feel negatively about the way I looked. Sure, my thighs touched, my breasts were small, and my arms were flabby, but for the most part, I was happy with my overall appearance. I mean, in high school it was more about the clothes you were wearing, right? Not so much the body underneath them. Well, that was my experience at least.

As I've gotten older though, my body has changed. I've developed wider hips and, oh-my-gosh, real bewbs! Like, really real big boobs. My thighs still touch and my arms still jiggle, and now I have what I can only refer to as a belly pooch. And even though this development has happened over the course of ten years, in the past year I've really started to struggle with keeping a positive body image. The size of my clothing and my weight hadn't fluctuated since high school... but earlier this spring I tried on some of my summer clothes that I've had for years, and I found out that they didn't physically fit me anymore. Then I measured myself and found out I had gained an inch across my bust, waist, and hips. Then I went in for a regular check up at the doctor's office and found out I had gained fifteen pounds over the past year.

My first thought was "Where?!" because I really have no idea what fifteen pounds looks like and honestly it sounded a lot worse than it actually was. Fifteen pounds sounds like a lot! And maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. All I know is that on the BMI scale, that extra fifteen pounds put me right on the cusp of being overweight. And knowing all of this made me feel really shitty. Really really shitty. And when I looked in the mirror at what I used to pay no mind to, all of a sudden I couldn't help but analyze every little bit of myself. I had started noticing the gain earlier this year, but it didn't fully strike me until I saw the number on the scale.

I'll be turning 27 next month. Sure, that's still plenty young, but I know I'm only getting closer to my metabolism starting to slow down and my skin starting to lose its elasticity. So I have to start taking care of the body that I have now. Maybe I've gotten away with a relatively lethargic lifestyle for the past 26 years, but I can't get away with that forever. And yeah, maybe I'm stuck with this pooch and an extra inch all around, even if I do up the ante on my exercise regime. That's probably my body preparing for child birth. (Hey, body! I never said that was what I wanted!) Maybe a lot of my wardrobe that I've built over the past few years is going to need to be updated to fit this new body I've grown into. (Hey! I'm not a young 20 year old any more! Maybe my style should reflect that.) And maybe my mind needs a little boost to remind me that change is ok, and it's inevitable, and that good things can come from it. For instance, maybe this is the push I need to get the motivation to find an exercise routine and stick to it. Or to save up money to do that yoga teacher certification I've been contemplating for years.

I'm strong! And I'm capable! And my body is good to me! I mean, I ran a 5K today!! I'm really proud to say that, despite how I may feel about the way my body looks these days.

Wednesday, September 17

Gypsy for a Day

On our first trip to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire this year, I went as an archer. Since I kept knocking into unsuspecting people with my arrows though (oops!), I decided to go as something different for our second visit. The decision to go the faire again was a semi-last minute decision, so I whipped up this gypsy costume on the fly. I stopped to get gas dressed like this, and this is also what I was wearing when I got pulled over. Oh, and I went to the pet store dressed like this too. Shawn said I should dress like this all the time! I should have had him snap photos of me at the actual faire, but I didn't think of it until we got back, so I took a few in the office before switching everything out for pajama pants and a t-shirt.

gypsy for the PA ren faire
blouse, skirt, scarf, necklaces: Anthropologie / boots: Nine West

gypsy for the PA ren faire

gypsy for the PA ren faire

I was also super proud of myself for my first successful (albeit small) cat eye! Mainly, just my ability to put on liquid eyeliner in a straight line. I spent over an hour with a specialist at Sephora last week, and she gave me some pointers, so I put them to use! Now I just need to practice, practice, and practice.

Tuesday, September 16

Cat Life / Bag Life

Our cats are obsessed with paper bags. Every time we come back from Trader Joe's, it's a battle between the two of them for who gets to lay inside the bag first. The winner (usually Lloyd) takes his place inside the paper bag throne, while the loser sits patiently next to the bag, until he can't take it any more, at which point he starts batting at the outside of the bag until the other cat finally crawls out. Then, if we leave the bag sitting out for a few days, they both proceed to lay there and only there. These photos are proof of why there's no real market for cat beds.

Ah, to be a cat!

Monday, September 15

Week in Photos: Week 37

The days are getting shorter again...

These guys take over my desk every morning.

The tomato plants at work have been full of deliciousness!

Pistachios are my favorite but they're so expensive! Thankfully Graze Box sends them to me.

I had never thought to make a veggie wrap for lunch at work until last week.

King of Prussia is huge... make sure you know where you parked!

Earl Grey tea cookies, anyone?

Perhaps s'mores cupcakes are more your speed.

These pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies were super time consuming to make, but delicious!

Basking in the glow of the sun.

We went back to the Renaissance Faire on Sunday!

There were lots of pirates milling around.

(Shawn was one of them.)

I'd love to learn how to play the harp!

Yeah... we're cute sometimes.

Sunday ended with a game night. Uno Stacko is so much fun!

Oh, and I bought my first TV ever. It was an early birthday gift for Shawn. (Today's his birthday!) It's so nice!
(This was our old TV)

I hope you all had a great week and weekend! On our way home from the Renaissance Faire, I got pulled over for speeding... (my family will be surprised to hear this, because they all think I drive like a grandma...) but the cop let me off with a warning because I was honest with him when he asked if I was aware I'd been speeding. (Yeah, I was definitely aware that the limit was 35 and that was not the speed I was going!) He said, "You're the first person to be honest with me today; I can't give a ticket to an honest person." Well, let that be a lesson to the rest of you speedy drivers... lying won't help your case when you're dealing with the police. They appreciate a little honestly, just like any other person!
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