January 28, 2010

My own little space – and a tasty treat!

A little bit of Bell family math:
1550 square feet / (2 adults + 3 children + 1 beagle) = close quarters

Since things have settled with Cecily of late, I have been on a serious creative kick. The girls usually nap at the same time in the afternoon, and after my little guy and I have had some good snuggle time, he and I often settle in at the kitchen table for some craft time. Jack loves to color, draw, paint, string beads, play with pipe cleaners…you name it. And, well, my brain is always replete with another project I want to tackle. Our little system works pretty well!

The only drawback: if the girls wake up earlier than anticipated (which happens more often than not), the kitchen stays in a state of total chaos from being overtaken with bobbins and thread and patterns and other various and sundry sewing accouterments. Even in the middle of a project, when nap time is over, I am forced to put every last thing away, only to have to take it all back out again when I want to resume working. Half of my crafty time is spent tidying! What to do?

Leafing through the January issue of Southern Living, I came across a gorgeous photo of a little writing desk nook. I found myself thinking, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a little spot like that for sewing purposes?” and then I turned the page, reminding myself that our current space couldn’t possibly allow for it. But a few weeks ago while standing in our bedroom, I realized the little corner in front of our window was begging to be utilized for something other than storing a basket of dog toys. Eureka!

After finding this little writing desk at Target.com (which, by the way, was a breeze to assemble and appears to be of great quality for the low price!), my little space became a reality. Now the fun part: truly making it my own!

Here’s a peek at my first project to spruce up my little sewing corner. I made these silhouette plaques of the children myself, and for all of the supplies, I spent only $15! I have in mind to complete the space with a shelf for some small baskets (found at Hobby Lobby for 86 cents apiece!), a good Ott light (the space tends to be a little shadowy), and a new window treatment with a matching cushion for the chair. I am going to be a busy lady!

(I have a tutorial in the works for how I made the silhouette of each child using Photoshop, and also for how I made the plaques from start to finish, so stay tuned!)


The weather has turned cold again after our short-lived spring preview (we are hoping we narrowly escape the ice storm that is predicted for the northern half of the state!), so I am once again craving cozy fare from the kitchen. One thing I cannot get enough of these days? Bread pudding. After a couple of failed attempts at achieving just the right flavor and consistency, I think I have found exactly what I’m looking for: a light-textured and not-too-sweet version of an old favorite.

In coming up with this recipe, I found myself returning time and again to what is currently my new favorite flavor combination: orange and cranberry. (For another of my favorite orange-cranberry recipes, click here.) I wanted this recipe to be a bit less chewy than the bread puddings I typically make with a denser loaf of bread, and I immediately thought of Hawaiian bread when I was pondering the type of bread that would be best for this purpose. The subtle sweetness of the bread itself allowed me to use less sugar than I otherwise would.

I love to enjoy this as a warm dessert, but it makes an equally delicious breakfast the next morning. Enjoy!

For a downloadable PDF of this recipe, click here.

Cranberry-Orange Bread Pudding

1 16-oz. loaf Hawaiian bread
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup cream
1 3/4 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. orange zest
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice bread into 1-inch cubes and place on ungreased jelly roll pan. Toast for 10 minutes, stirring often, until bread is slightly dry. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, combine eggs and next 6 ingredients. Whisk until blended.

Place half of bread cubes into a greased 2.5-quart baking dish. Layer dried cranberries on top, then cover with remaining bread cubes. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread mixture. Let stand for 10 minutes, pressing down evenly on top of bread occasionally to ensure all of it is generously soaked in the egg mixture. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 50 minutes, shielding with a sheet of aluminum foil for the last 15 minutes to prevent over-browning. Best served warm.

Stay warm!

4 Responses to My own little space – and a tasty treat!

  1. Robbins' Nest January 28, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    can’t wait to see the finished project!

  2. j.anne photography January 29, 2010 at 5:41 am #

    can I just hire you to by MY creative outlet?? Seriously. You put all of us “other mothers” to shame!!! :o)

    Super cute!

  3. Sara March 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    Can’t wait for the tutorial for the silhouette plaques…they are awesome!!! Great idea! I’d love to know how to do that in Photoshop. Are you still going to post a tutorial? 🙂

  4. Amy @ The Bell Family March 8, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    Sara, I need to get my act together and get that tutorial put together. Stay tuned! 🙂

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