Sourdough Starter

The nickname for Alaskan homesteaders. Do you know why? Because supplies only came to these settlers once or twice a year and bread was a staple. The solution was to carry with them a sourdough starter to keep the yeast going for their bread. Either that (my recipe explains) or these old timers resembled the “indomitable sourdough starter…” That part made me laugh, because I can’t see myself calling a rough and tough homesteader a sourdough, because dough is too squishy.

There’s a tradition here out on the ranch, pancakes every Saturday. Rain or shine. Mom makes pancakes. Really good buttermilk pancakes. Since Phillip has been raised with this fantastic tradition, it’s just a way of life on Saturday morning to make pancakes. Recently, however, his mom gave me a whole packet of information on how to make a sourdough starter, pancakes, muffins, etc.

I’ve always wanted to make sourdough. When I was young, my parents owned a pizza parlor in Fallbrook, a small town up the road from where we live now. It was called Sourdough Pizza and they got their starters on a regular basis from bakery in San Fran. The pizza was delicious and everyone in Fallbrook loved it. I recently learned that it closed down, which is sad. My parents sold it a while back, but it had a good run.

Have you ever wanted to make fresh sourdough at home? Sourdough is unlike regular bread where you can just dump yeast in warm water, add salt and flour and go. Sourdough needs to be made from a starter that has been soured. I always thought you had to get a little batch from a very long standing strain of sourdough, but that’s not true. It’s nice to get a starter from a strain of sourdough that goes back 100 years, but if you’re like me, you don’t have any connections that good.

Actually, sourdough starters are easy! Not only are they easy, but when I made a starter, then next morning I had enough left over “sponge” to make sourdough pancakes. I didn’t know that you could make sourdough pancakes and it’s a shame because they are fantastic both in texture and flavor! Here’s a website that describes how to naturally start a sourdough starter and it’s a little more involved. We’ve started two starters, one using the method below and one using the method from this site. They use natural yeast that is always in the air, making the bread more resilient to mold and probably has a more sour taste (which I think was missing from the starter below, but it might need time to acquire that sour taste). If you’ve ever had a sour ale or brewed your own beer, you are well acquainted with this kind of yeast and probably try to stay far away from it because it tends to contaminate your brewing gear.

Here’s how to make your starter from a package of yeast. The starter itself will only be 1/2 cup of this stuff, the left over mixture will be enough to make a batch of pancakes or bread…

In a bowl mix well:

2 cups flour

2 cups warm water & 1 package dry yeast

Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter

It will look like this.

Sourdough Starter

Put this into a container (I used a corning-ware dish and plastic wrap to cover). Leave this at room temperature over night. This is now your “sponge.”

Side note: It’s important not to use anything metal in this process. (Stainless is probably OK for mixing.)

In the morning, put boiling water in a clean glass or ceramic container (mason jars work great) to make sure the container is sterilized and dump it out. Take 1/2 cup from the “sponge” and put it into your clean mason jar or container. Cover either with plastic wrap or the mason jar lid, but don’t tighten it. The starter will let off gas and expand. Put it in the fridge. This is your starter!

Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter

Now make pancakes with everything that is left!


Here’s the sourdough pancake recipe:

Serves 3.

The left over sponge, after you have removed your starter (should be about 2 cups)

1 or 2 eggs

1 Tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon soda dissolved in 1 Tablespoon water

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon sugar

Beat with a fork and blend in all ingredients, except soda and water mixture. If you like, add a Tablespoon of milk to the recipe as well. Add the soda and water mixture right before baking. Bake on a hot griddle and only turn once (like any other pancake, but it’s worth repeating).

You can also add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, cornmeal, wheat germ or branflakes to the batter (two eggs will provide the liquid for this addition).

Sourdough Pancakes


To use your starter later:

Create another sponge, by adding the starter to 2 cups flour and 2 cups warm water (just like the starter recipe, but no need for yeast now). Let this sit out, covered over night.  Then save a 1/2 cup of this sponge as your starter, just like before. Use the rest (should be about 2 cups) just as you did before in the recipe above.


I hope to make a few loaves of sourdough bread this week and to experiment with muffins, sourdough wheat bread, sourdough french bread, etc. I’ll keep you posted if I find some good recipes.


We love joe.

We love coffee. 

Our most recent love affair has been with pour over coffee. Some call it “slow coffee”, some call it “by the cup” coffee. Whatever you call it, it’s the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. There is a whole subculture exploding around this coffee and for good reason.

Between the two of us, we can finish off about 3 pots of coffee in a day. Easy. He’s Dutch and I’ve been drinking coffee since I was like 9.  Actually, Phillip never drank coffee until he took a trip to Costa Rica in college. There he admired the coffee bushes everywhere. Then he split his time between drinking cafe con leche and rock climbing during his 2 year stint in Spain. I spent some time in Italy back in 2001 and really grew to appreciate delicious $1.00 cappuccinos at every gas station and one stove top cappuccino every hour when you were in someone’s home. I fell in love with Illy coffee and when I returned to the states, searched high and low for cafes that served it. I attempted to buy it, but at $15 a pound, it’s not really affordable. Together, we’ve learned to appreciate all sorts of coffee.

Phillip and I made it a point to stop by the best coffee shops in San Fran when we were there on our honeymoon. What we encountered was hipster heaven and super snobby coffee drinkers. All that aside, we discovered a whole world of pour over coffee and it’s science. You may ask, “What is pour over coffee?” Here’s a great article from the New York Times about the Japanese ancestry of pour over coffee and how it made its way to San Francisco. In Escondido, our town and a small suburb of San Diego, there’s a coffee shop called Blue Mug (El Norte location) that does pour over. They have a small brew bar set up and their coffee is pretty decent.

At home Phillip and I use a Chemex (a gift we registered for at William Sonoma and someone who loves us bought for us). The Chemex, featured above, claim to fame is that it makes the best cup of coffee in the world. This method proves convenient up at the ranch as it is “off the grid” compatible.  All our methods are simple with easy cleanup, beside the grinder, you don’t plug it in and they don’t take up much counter space in our economy size flat.  Another perk is you can take it with you (our Chemex just served 20+ breakfast in Joshua Tree National Park).  We usually buy Starbucks or Pete’s coffee, with occasional beans from boutique roasters (check out Escondido’s local). We use a burr grinder.

Put simply, burr grinder differs from other grinders because they grind coffee more uniformly, “Devices with rapidly rotating blades which chop repeatedly (see food processor) are often described as grinders, but are not burr grinders. Burr mills do not heat the ground product by friction as much as blade grinders, and produce particles of a uniform size determined by the separation between the grinding surfaces.” We pretty much follow the steps of the Chemex video below and every cup is phenomenal. The last piece of equipment that we are in need of is the Hario Buono Kettle. It looks a lot easier to pour than my water kettle at home.

I’m a fan of bold, dark roast coffee. Phillip loves medium roast. This was a problem when we visited Four Barrel where the server said they they “don’t do” dark roast coffee. That’s what they said. Whatever… your coffee doesn’t taste any better than Folgers to me.


Like I said, I like dark roast. Luckily, there are people who still believe that you can do dark roast without ruining the flavor or burning the bean. Ritual Coffee was a much more down to earth coffee bar where the gentleman took 10 minutes to describe the process of brewing and tasting coffee properly. These two coffee spots are the most well known pour over coffee shops in the city.

We’ve been trying to share the love, buy giving a ceramic pour over funnel called a V60 to a friend in return for emceeing our wedding. He loves it, down to weighing his coffee and timing his pour. Awesome.

We also enjoy espresso at home from time to time.  Our preferred method is the stove top stainless steel espresso maker.  Everyone is familiar with the aluminum ones, but the stainless ones have risen in popularity after the aluminum cooking scare.  Phillip admired these stainless steel ones in the windows of the hardware stores in Spain, but could not sacrifice bus fare to climbing destinations to buy one.  Luckily, this too was a thoughtful wedding gift from a Lone Star coffee fan.

I just wanted to share our love for good coffee.

Enjoy these helpful and informative videos from Intelligentsia, one of the local pour over coffee joints in SoCal (Venice, CA). They have a video demonstrating how to use a V60 and a Chemex.


Monadnock from Intelligentsia Coffee on Vimeo.


Intelligentsia Chemex Brewing Guide from Intelligentsia Coffee on Vimeo.


Espresso, Intelligentsia from The D4D on Vimeo.


Cappuccino, Intelligentsia from The D4D on Vimeo.

Home Sweet Home

We’ve been married for a month and a half and one of the biggest surprises being married has been how quickly the time we have together passes by.  I always look forward to spending the evening doing projects and cooking dinner, but before you know it, it’s 10 and time for bed. We’re trying to settle in to our apartment slowly but surely and still have quite a bit of work to do.

After we returned from our honeymoon in San Francisco, Phillip immediately began working on installing our floors. Living on concrete was just not my thing. Once the dance floor at our reception in the shop, this beautiful laminate is now our kitchen floor. Phillip first put down the underlayment (the red stuff), which is pretty expensive stuff, and piece by piece put the floor together like a puzzle. I found out later that cardboard can be used as underlayment and it’s what most housing developments use!

After the kitchen floor was done, we began playing Tetris with our kitchen cabinets and decorating. A friend of mine recently inspired me to put up a rack for pots and pans. It’s something I’ve always admired in magazines and blogs, but those were designer kitchens with islands and high ceilings. Unfortunately, our ceilings are low on the bottom story so I didn’t think it was possible. Then it dawned on me to put up a coat rack, since we have a few laying around in the Shop. We slipped a few pots and pans on it and bingo, a wall rack for our pots and pans. A good solution to free up space!

To save even more space, we put up a wine glass rack that we got as a wedding gift from Bed Bath and Beyond. It’s perfect above the sink because A) there was space for it and B) you can wash and hang the glasses to drip dry. It works great and looks good, saving us a whole shelf or more in our cabinets! See that 3 drawer bread box thing? That was yet another treasure found in the Shop during clean up! It’s got a space for bread, potatoes and onions. I love it. Since we plan on having a big garden, this will come in handy. I think it would be rather easy to build something similar with shelves or cubbyholes for storing veggies and bread. Project idea?

I spotted this copper rack at a local antique consignment shop for only $125. I can’t use it because my ceilings are too low, but it was a beauty. Just had to share…  This is the ultimate rack.

Many of the cards we received from our wedding were hand made or very creative, so we wanted to show them off a bit. I strung them up in our dining room. Not sure when I’ll take them down. For now, it works well in place of actual art.

Remember one of Phillip and I’s first projects, the cork board? I’d collected corks over a long period of time working as a cocktail waitress during my undergrad and acquired an old, glassless, gold frame from a friend. We painted it with crackle medium from JoAnn’s and white paint. Phillip’s sister used it to display pictures at her wedding reception and so did we.  Now it’s in our hallway.

We also got started on our patio. Rather than pay top dollar for pavers or a wood deck, we used a stack of broken concrete that Phillip’s dad had been storing. It’s usually pretty easy to come by, because people are always demolishing concrete. Not only is it super cheap, but it’s also a good way to reuse material that would typically end up going to waste.

This is my official before picture. Notice the dirt and aimless plants.

Patio construction

Patio construction

We put pavers around the perimeter and then filled the center with sand so we could adjust the height of the concrete pieces. We used a level to make sure they were all on the same plane and pitch (sloping down away from the front door a hair). Then we pour concrete and smoothed it out a bit, giving it a quick brush with an old broom to give it the classic broom finish.

Patio construction

We also added some broken tile pieces (lovely landfill that’s spread all over the place out here).

Patio construction

We also had some help. :)

Patio Construction

My brother threw together a planter box for me in like 5 minutes. He used the chop saw to cut the ends and just nailed these 1.5″ x 11″ boards together. I desperately needed a place to plant some of the plants from the reception, because they weren’t doing so hot stuck in their plastic pots.

Planter box

We are still working on getting the patio finished and the plants planted. It turned out to be a little time consuming to make sure all the pieces were level and to spread the concrete, but two weeks (really only about 3-4 days of actually working on it here and there) is not too bad.  I’ll give an update as soon as we are done.

Chick Moment

For starters, here’s a great clip. Do you know people like this? I hope it’s not me. It is isn’t it?

So Polyvore says for Spring 2012, “With the warm season approaching, we’re taking cues from the spring 2012 runways for fresh makeup trends to try. Classic red lips, cat eyes, sun-kissed cheeks, strong brows and smokey eyes are all on the horizon.”

Yeah! These are a few of my favorite things!

Also, I’m in love with chunky rings and bright colors. You can kind see the bright color trend in shoes and even furniture! I can see where the neon trend is going, but I think the farthest I can go is neon purple, which never gets that bright.


These Baggu leather bags and pouches are kinda awesome. Now I’m not wealthy enough to own one of these, but they aren’t terribly priced. I’m going to make my own out of fabric, because I think the design is cute. And I will just dream of the real leather one.

Fork Rings.

This tutorial on More Design Please shows you how to make these. I’ve got a few old forks and spoons laying around and I can’t wait to try it. Two birds with one stone: chunky ring and DIY craft I’ve been wanting to try. Also, the bright furniture I’ve featured here I found on their blog. They incorporate a few neon colored pieces into rooms with relatively neutral colors and simple clean design. I really enjoy the look!

But, I digress…

So, when I said “chick moment”, what I really wanted to tell you about wasn’t shoes and trends. As much as I love exploring current trends and finding a  way to incorporate repurposed products into those current trends… I was actually going to tell you about our newest addition to our household–our chicks! We bought chickens! Yes, just a month ago I was living in a condo in town, now I have chickens.

Phillip and I headed over to the feed store and purchased 3 chickens last Saturday afternoon. They are three different breeds: an Astrolorp, an Americana, and a Dominique. We actually named the Americana and the Dominique after their breed names. I know, really original. The Astrolorp is a tiny little thing, a couple weeks younger than the other two. She is adorable and wont stop peeping. We’re building a coup and a little chicken run behind the shop in what use to be Phillip’s brother’s soccer field when he was a kid. For now, they are in a cardboard box in our dining room. Lovely.

In a few months we will have fresh, free-range, (insert all sorts of other foodie terms) farm eggs. They are super easy. Food + water = chickens that will one day give you a daily supply of eggs.

The youngest is always trying to hide under the other two. We shall call her “Chiquita”.

 “Americana” (on the left) and “Dominique” (on the right).

Recycle, Reduce, and Reuse… on the Ranch.

Before I begin, doesn’t this lamp now at Target…

look just like this?

Here’s the tutorial of how to do it. Turn an old brass lamp from a thrift store into a beauty like this.

Home projects again.  Here are some practical and not so practical projects that I’ve been saving up and we hope to tackle this month. The projects are stacking up and I can’t wait to start actually accomplishing them.

Old Door Headboard

Old doors are not terribly hard to come by, but at first glance you may ask, “Where in the world do I find an old door?” Check out Craigslist and consider putting out an add on Craigslist for old doors. Another option for finding old doors, windows, etc. is Architectural Salvage or Builders Trading Co if you are in the San Diego area. Phillip’s dad got a few from a remodel he did, so we snagged it when we were cleaning out the shop.

Here are some other woodworks in the works:

Salvaged wood coffee table

Wood Spool coffee table and bookshelf.

Pallet wood flooring? Here is an article about it.

Have you ever heard of reclaimed wood? There are companies in the area that supply reclaimed wood from buildings that have been remodeled or deconstructed. This is a great way to be conserve and to get a great vintage look for your wood floors and other wood projects!
Here’s an example: Stone Brewery used reclaimed wood for their bar and tables. Personally, I want to do reclaimed wood floors like these.


Record Clock

This record project would be more for classic records you actually want to display, but are not playable.


Room divider

This is a generic picture, but I have some old closet doors that look just like these that we are going to turn into a room divider. In 500 of square feet (the total for our apartment), we have to transform our bedroom into a living space for company as well. We’re going to try this. We’re also going to use it in the Shop to fence off our makeshift dining room. I would like to make it a chevron pattern (AKA Charlie Brown’s t-shirt pattern)! OoooOOOoo. The bed in the picture above has a Chevron comforter pattern. This pattern has totally gone viral over the past year and I just saw Chevron pillows at Target. Finally, I’m going to get on the bandwagon. I’ll post pictures when they are done.


Rake Jewelry Hanger

I think I’m going to put one of these on the inside of the closet door of our wardrobe. We’ll see. Since we live on a ranch, old rakes aren’t hard to come by. They are pretty common in antique stores as well. You might even be able to find some vintage looking ones.


Burlap Picture Matt

So we have a lot of burlap left over from the wedding… this will be the first of many burlap projects to come. Addicted to Decorating gives a tutorial, which says she got the key from Michaels and she painted cheap frames. In addition to this project, she lists 45 other ways to use Jute and Burlap for projects! Personally, I chose about 5 that I think would be really cool to do.

Burlap picture matts

Apartment Therapy does it again, burlap table runners.


Tin Can Candle Lamp

I wanted to make these for the wedding reception, but I didn’t have time. They are so cute! Think of all the canned beans, fruit, or tomato sauce you’ve used in the past year and how awesome your lanterns would be strung up along your back patio.

I’ll post pictures as we actually accomplish this stuff…

Have any cool repurposing projects that you’ve done lately?

Vinyl-ittle Why Don’t You

OK, so January was not such a productive craft month for Phillip and I. Life was busy as we settled into our new place. We got back from out honeymoon and immediately went to work laying down our wood floors. My mom had purchased the flooring on sale from Home Depot to be used as our dance floor and with the hope that we could use it for our kitchen as well. We sure did and it looks beautiful! Phillip put the whole floor down himself while I mostly watched and helped a little. I cut a piece or two with the chop saw. Now that Phillip has shown me the ropes with the chop saw (see the post about our centerpiece boxes for more on that), I feel like a pro. Give me anything and I can cut it at any angle. Phillip was also pretty pro at laying down the flooring even though he’s never done it before.

Next, the shop. The shop is to be our future workshop and we are in the process of setting it all up. Unfortunately, we have to focus a bit on creating storage and organizing it before we can begin other projects and finish the rest of our apartment.  I’ve been pinteresting “storage” and “organization”… wow. So many cool options.

Now that we’re getting the preliminary stuff out of the way, such as unpacking boxes and actually moving in, we are on our way to decorating and crafting. Here are some of the smaller projects lined up for the month. A little bit of vinyl action, some pallet stuff and a cinderblock wall. Honestly, the only thing that holds all of these things together is that I’ve been wanting to do them for months and just really want to finish them.

Speaking of vinyl, Phillip and I picked up a Tom Waits album while we were on Haight Street in San Francisco. We stopped by Amoeba Records and decided to expand our small record collection. Phillip has a very nice set of records (60s and 70s stuff) that I can’t wait to play. We have a record player that a friend gave me for sewing his pants, but we can’t get it to work.


Cinderblock succulent wall.

I think we may build one of these on our porch this month.


Vinyl Records

Vinyl record food bowl and mail holder.

Here are some other bowl designs.

Vinyl wall clock

Cake, sweet stuff plate.

I’m not going to make all of these things, but I will make a cake plate, but curve up the edges so the plates have a bit of an edge to them so things down fall out.



I learned a fun fact about Phillip, he collected keys when he was younger. Interesting.

Buy vintage keys in bulk. Key projects are super trendy right now, so collecting keys when you can is a good idea. You can do so much with them!


Wood pallets

Book shelves.

These would work great for cookbooks, magazines and pictures if you cut the front board down a bit.

Porch swing.

I’d probably use chain instead of rope and a different stain if any. You could even paint it a color, like red or yellow. Oooo.

Living wall.

Ok so I had to sneak it in again. I love this thing! I’m giving it to my matron of honor as a gift. BUT, I have enough succulents left over to make another one. Happiness.