Spring Green


 A weekend drive

 This is a working ranch about 10 minutes from my home
heading South toward Santa Paula
 We usually drive out this way on Saturdays 
to our favorite little burger joint (picnic tables)
for great burgers (they grind their own beef)  
great milk shakes  (no body does malts like this any more)  
and awesome fries...yum
 I am always inspired along this drive by the beauty of the Oaks in the hills,
 the  amazing clear blue sky and the vastness of the ranch land...
and today
the beauty of spring 
 These are walnut trees, perfectly spaced,
 aligned like wooden soldiers
soon to be green and loaded with fruit
The yellow mustard won't last long 
but who really cares?

today it is beautiful and perfect
and it reminds me 
to be thankful 


Laundry Room Ladder Project


Hey there!!!!!

I must admit to having a serious case of writers/bloggers block...and it's not for the lack of trying

I counted at least 8 drafts that I started writing and never finished posting 
in the last two weeks...hey what is up with that?

So on to my projects...
I counted at least 20 projects that I started working on and have not finished in the last two weeks...
OK is it something I ate?

But I did manage to finish one little project for the laundry/mud room area
It's a laundry ladder

Now I won't even begin to take credit for this great idea
 because I have seen this done on some other blogs and on Pinterest 
and I loved the idea

Most of the others who used this ladder idea 
suspended it from either chain or some sort of rope/pulley system 
which all looked good and worked out well.

But on my weekly trip to the hardware store 
I spotted these:

this is a turn buckle

I love these things!
and who was the genius that invented it....?
how wonderful she must be!

you may remember that I used a wire and turn buckle system to support my grape vines
if you're interested you can read more about that project here

but on to the laundry/mud room

I have a big open area which we recently renovated

 plumbing, electrical, windows, flooring doors etc etc...it started out small and grew into a monster
but I digress....lets talk about the ladder!

 Initially, I thought I would leave it the natural wood 
but then I got it up
and it looked a little to rustic and unfinished....
so it got a nice couple of coats of bright white paint

 the ceiling in this room is the original ceiling 
from a breezeway between the garage and the back door

 the walls on either side of the room are the original exterior walls of the house
so as you can imagine
 that was a huge part of the renovation too 

scraping, sanding, removing paint and glue and 
getting all of the board and batten siding into shape again 
because this is now an enclosed interior room

 once the ladder was up it needed some nice S hooks for baskets and hanging things

I purchased these from a blacksmith on Etsy
and they are really nice and beautifully made
 the turn buckle system is really solid and sturdy 
and I think it fits nicely with the vintage and somewhat modern style of this room

the lights are from Barn Light Electric 
the windows are Anderson

 I have a nice collection of these old English baskets 
which make great laundry baskets because they are big and really sturdy

 another of my favorite laundry "must haves" are these rolling canvas laundry carts...
they can be stacked, 
are interesting looking 
and are virtually indestructible...
and did I mention that small children like to get into these and get pushed around?

 the little laundry ladder 
will work for herb and flower drying in the summer too...so much better than the front porch
the total cost for the laundry ladder 
was around $100 dollars... 
which includes the ladder, hardware and S hooks
but you could probably do this for less if you shopped around a bit more

hope you have a beautiful and busy weekend!
( I will be in the garden )

I will share more projects and ideas soon!



La Brea Bakery Knock Off

The La Bakery in Los Angeles was started in 1989 by Nancy Silverton.  She started baking bread primarily for her then husband and partner, Mark Peel,
 who owned the restaurant next door called Campanile

Campanile is now closed but La Brea Bakery continues to live on 
and the bread and other yummy bakery goods 
can now be found nation wide.

I love the bread but I really really love the granola and so does my family.
The granola sells for around $7 dollars for a small package and it lasts in our house about 2 days.

So I decided to try my hand at making granola and getting as close as I could to the La Brea Bakery recipe.

I will take you through the steps and you can jot down the ingredients if you are a granola lover too.
It is a really easy recipe!

start with two really large bowls...
one for the dry oatmeal stuff and the other for the dried fruit 
which is added in at the end

mix together:

7 cups uncooked rolled oats
7 oz unsweetened flaked coconut
1 cup stabilized wheat germ (you can leave this out if you want)


1 cup whole almonds 
( you can chop if you like but La Brea uses whole almonds)
1 cup sunflower seeds

mix the dry mixture well and set aside

 now we add a few things to bind the granola together and sweeten it up
in a measuring cup mix together:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1 Tsp salt 
1 Tbl vanilla extract

I add about 1 tsp of salt too 
but you don't have to

I put the liquid in the microwave for 1 minute to warm up the ingredients 
and make it easier to combine with the oats

 slowly pour the syrup over your oats, a little at a time,
 mixing thoroughly to coat until well combined

I like to add a little cinnamon too 
about 1 to 2 tsp 
during this mixing process

Heat the oven to 250 degrees and prepare your baking sheets for toasting the granola

my preference is to use 4 small 1/2 sheet pans lined with parchment

It is easier to turn while baking in the smaller pans 
and I think they brown more evenly...
but use what you have

bake for 90 minutes 
turning the mixture about every 20 minutes 
to brown evenly

my oven runs hot so I try not to over bake this 
which you can easily do if you venture too far from the kitchen

low and slow baking is better for even toasting

now here is where you can get creative

you need about 5 cups of dried fruit to finish off the granola

here are my favorites:

1 cup raisins
( la brea uses golden but I like the dark raisins)
1 cup cranberries
1 cup chopped dates
I doubt the original has dates but they are great in this recipe

1 cup chopped plums
I buy these little pre chopped plums which are great
and finally 1 cup of any other dried fruit of your choice
I have tried 
cherries, apricots and mango
and they are all really good

or you can double up on something else, just get to a total of  5 cups of dried fruit

by the way...while this is baking away your entire house will smell like a freshly baked oatmeal cookie
just an added bonus!!!!

your granola should look 
golden toasty brown

Now you add the dried fruit to the baked oats

 I mix mine in a really huge salad bowl with my handy salad tongs...hey what ever works right?!

You need a really large bowl because you end up with around 
18 cups or 4 1/2 pounds of granola!

When it has cooled 
I transfer some to a big jar and set it out near our coffee station 

this is great for snacking too!
this makes a ton of granola
so the rest I package up and pop in the freezer

my granola breakfast is usually:

nonfat plain yogurt 
some strawberries, raspberries or blueberries 
and a big scoop of granola

mine never looks quite this pretty but tastes delisch


give it a try this weekend and see what you think!

happy cooking