Let's Doodle Together!! September

The September list is ready to go! 

I didn't get to draw daily liked I hoped in August, so fingers crossed that I get in to a better routine and complete more of the prompts! 

I've love to have you join me in this creative challenge! Gather your art supplies and let's get creative together! Use this list to spark your creativity, but do not feel you have to follow it to the letter. If the prompt is Lemon, but you don't like lemons, draw an orange, or a bicycle. The point is to just get drawing & have fun doing it!! Feel free to set your own boundaries, print out this list to keep the daily prompts handy and be sure to post your doodles on Instagram and tag them #LetsDoodleSeptember so we can see each other's work! 

Can't wait to see what we create!!!

Let's Doodle Together!! August

A few years ago, I participated in my friend's sketch-a-day challenge. I loved the exercise of getting myself to draw every day & had so many ideas come out of it that I never would have come to on my own. 

I love lettering, but also have been really wanting to push my illustration skills so I decided it was time to jump back into a daily drawing challenge! 

The one problem I ran into with the previous sketch-a-day challenge is that I often let it consume my day & it became more of a "daily-finished-art-piece" than a true sketch. So, I've added some boundaries for myself. I'm calling it a doodle rather than a sketch or drawing, because doodles are fun, quick & not perfect, and I'm giving myself a 20 minute time limit. If it takes longer than that, it's not a doodle & it becomes another project. These are doodles. :) 

Beyond that, the sky is the limit. I can work in color, or not. I can draw on paper, a napkin, or my iPad – which, with my schedule is probably what I'll mostly be doing. It can be an image or words. 

I've love to have you join me in this creative challenge! Gather your art supplies and let's get creative together! Use this list to spark your creativity, but do not feel you have to follow it to the letter. If the prompt is Lemon, but you don't like lemons, draw an orange, or a bicycle. The point is to just get drawing & have fun doing it!! Feel free to set your own boundaries, print out this list to keep the daily prompts handy and be sure to post your doodles on Instagram and tag them #LetsDoodleAugust so we can see each other's work! 

Can't wait to see what we create!!!

How to Fix your Squeaky Stairs

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It's been awhile since I shared the everyday tips & tricks that I'm doing around my house, but I always enjoyed it, so I thought I'd start it back up.

Plus, you need to know about this. :) 

The master bedroom in our house is right next to the stairs. My daughters and I, particularly in the summer, are night owls. Nate, on the other-hand, is not. This is mostly due to the fact that he gets up around 4:30 am (I have no idea how he does this) to work out and then beat Nashville traffic into work. We love him & all that he does for us!!

Our stairs have always creaked, but recently they've gone to a whole new level making it impossible for anyone to go up or down the stairs without waking our hard-working, but very exhausted man. So the other night, I decided there had to be something we could do. 

Turns out there is. 

There's a brilliant little kit out there called the Squeeeek No More Floor Repair kit that I truly wish I had thought up myself. It's so smart. 

First, you have to find the floor joist, or in my case the saw-tooth looking board running under the stairs called the stringer (no, I didn't know that before this project!) that runs on both sides of the stairs and often the middle using the included joist finding tool. 

I found that mine was 18.5" from either edge, so I measured over on each step and aligned the included depth control tool.

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I then used my drill to screw in the specially scored screws with the customized driver bit. 

The depth control tool will case you to stop with the screw head about 1 inch out of the carpet. Never fear. This is on purpose. Just be careful if you're walking around with bare feet! 

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This is where the magic happens! 

The depth control tool has a notch that you will then slip over the head of the screw. 

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 Simply turn the tool to the side with a little bit of force, and . . . 

 . . . the screw SNAPS OFF JUST BELOW the surface of the wood floor! 

What??!?!?! I told you this was ingenious.  

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Crazy easy and because the screw breaks below the surface of the floor, nothing for you to step on or feel on your feet, doesn't mess up your carpet. . . . all-in-all, BRILLIANT. 

In our case, the stairs do still creak some. . . but my daughter literally just ran up the stairs as I'm typing this sentence and I only heard one small pop – which is a million times better than it was 3 days ago! – but I think that it due more to how our stairs were built than to the failure of this product. :) 

So, if you also have creaky stairs, or floor, quit thinking there's nothing you can do about it and go grab this kit. . . and some extra screws. You'll need them. ;) 

Recipe: Peppernuts

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I've been posting pictures of them on Instagram & unless you know me personally or live in an area with Swiss/German Mennonite roots, you've probably been wondering: What in the world are peppernuts??? 

I hear that a lot. 

They're a tiny cookie made with Christmas-y spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and anise oil. 

Though a bit labor intensive, I beg you to give these a try, especially since it's an ideal activity to make with help. Now that my girls are old enough to actual offer up USEFUL assistance, we've made it our tradition to roll out the dough over a Christmas movie. I've also thought it would be fun to invite some friends over to chat, drink wine & roll peppernut dough. (Want to join me?)  

My Grandma has been making these as long as I can remember, making them in time for Thanksgiving and not letting the peppernut jar run dry until after New Year's. I didn't even realize what a novelty they were until I moved away, and have since enjoyed making the tradition my own. 

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Melt in Your Mouth Peppernuts

1 cup butter
1 and 1/2 C. sugar
1 beaten egg
2 T. dark syrup
3 and 3/4 C. flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cloves
1 t. ginger
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. anise oil (or 2 t. anise extract)

Cream butter, sugar, syrup and egg. Add dry ingredients and anise oil.

The dough is really stiff, so for the sake of your mixer, don't make a double batch. I personally just follow one batch immediately with another. The dough will also look a bit crumbly. If you're worried that it's not going to stick together at all, you can add a little water, one Tablespoon at a time – but would not add more than 3 Tablespoons.

Divide the dough into 3 or 4 balls & then chill the dough.  

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This is the part where it's fun to have friends or at least a movie. :)

Working with 1 dough ball at a time (the rest stay in the fridge), roll out into long snakes the size of your little finger. Again, sometimes the dough can be a bit crumbly. The trick is to develop a smoosh-roll technique. Roll it out gently, if it starts to crumble a bit, smoosh it back together and then keep rolling. It's taken many years to perfect. ;)

Keep chilled. I like to roll out all my dough at once, piling it high on a rimmed cookie sheet in the freezer. Putting them in the freezer makes them a bit easier to work with.

Slice into small pieces and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on paper towels spread out on your counter. 

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One more weird fact for you: This is probably the only cookie that isn't better directly out of the oven. I know. Weird, right? 

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They're amazing by themselves, but try them with coffee. Trust me.

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So. Good. And addicting. You've been warned. :) 

Let me know how you like them!

xoxo—Lori

In case you'd like to know more about these little cookies, here's some more background information I've dug up: 

Like most baked goods, there are many variations of peppernuts. While most recipes call for cloves and cinnamon, some also use nutmeg or anise. A Danish recipe for pebernødder requires white pepper, while most recipes don’t use pepper at all. Some versions of the German pfeffernüsse contain pecans, ginger, or cardamom.

In the Netherlands, St Nicolas, patron of children, sailors and the city of Amsterdam, arrives by boat from Spain with his white horse and his helpers, chimney sweeps called Petes, to assist him. It is a busy time for St Nick, crossing the roofs with his horse while the Petes take the presents down the chimneys. Traditionally, the Petes also scatter “pepernoten” around for the kids.

German Mennonite women used to make the dough several weeks before Christmas and let it chill for up to a week in a cold cellar to let the flavors mellow.

Years ago, a reader on my blog, excited to see a photo of what she called “our peppernuts”, shared that her husband’s grandmother made them every year. Her mother-in-law didn’t share the recipe with her until she had been married for 25 years as it was a closely guarded family recipe that they knew had been in the family for at least 150 years. She was told that each village or family had their own shape and version of peppernuts, and the recipes were never shared outside the family.

Butternut Quiche

This time a year when the mornings are brisk it just doesn't see right to sit down to a cold breakfast. This recipe combines sweet butternut squash, smoked Gouda, a buttery crust, and farm fresh eggs to warm you up.

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Here's what you'll need for the crust

  1. A store bought one.
    It's the morning. Who wants to make a homemade crust?
    If anyone complains, take their quiche away. :)

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For the Filling

  • 1 tbsp of butter

  • 1 small onion finely diced

  • course salt and ground pepper

  • 1/2 butternut squash peeled,seeded, & finely chopped

  • 1 tsp fresh minced sage

  • pinch of sugar

  • 1 cup freshly grated smoked Gouda (my grocer happens to have a great selection in the deli, check yours, often cheeses are less expensive at the deli counter than at the gourmet cheese bar, additionally fontina, and smoked provolone can be used in substitution)

  • 8 eggs

  • 3/4 cup whole milk

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Preheat oven to 375.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion with a generous pinch of salt and pepper until the onion begins to soften about 2-3 minutes.

Add squash and sage and cook until squash is softened about 5 minutes more, when you're done cooking add a pinch of sugar and remove from heat.

In a bowl whisk eggs and milk until throughly combined. Then add the squash mixture and cheese; stir to blend.

Pour the eggs into pre-baked pie crust, and bake for 45-50.

The center should be cooked but jiggly. 

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Draw With Me! November Challenge

This past October my friend Lesley at Recipe for Crazy challenged herself to sketch everyday for the entire month and invited those who wanted to join in to share on Instagram using a list of daily prompts that she created. (check out #sketchadaywithLRZ to see all the amazingness that was created in October!!!)

I LOVED the idea, was jealous I hadn't thought of doing it first, but because of my insane schedule, was only able to complete a few of the sketches. 

Well. I'm committed now. 

Lesley begged and pleaded and finally talked me into leading a November sketch-a-day. 
I'm lying. 
She didn't have to talk me into anything. . .  I agreed right away. I mean, how could I not??? 

So, now I'm really excited about it, but also really nervous. 30 days of sketching. Every. Day. 
I sketch a lot already, so I can do this, right? Think you want to join me?? 

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If you'd like to join in – and I really hope you do – use this list for prompts on what to draw each day. Then snap a picture and post it on Instagram using the tag #sketchadaywithhomeagain. 

I'm really excited, a bit anxious, but hopeful that the crazy of October is behind me and we can just have a lot of fun with. One thing I know for sure: You are definitely going to get better at something you do every day, so I'm excited to see what we're all coming up with by November 30! 

CHICKEN POT PIE WITH BISCUIT CRUMBLE TOPPING

The days are starting to get shorter and the weather is getting crisper. Putting us in the mood for hearty, savory foods. I ask, "Does it get any more savory than chicken pot pie?" 

My obstacle to making a great chicken pot pie has always been the pie crust. I just don't have any luck making homemade pie crust. However, being a Southerner I can make a variety of great biscuits.

Instructions

For the Filling

  • 1 1/2 lb. pieces, boneless, skinless chicken breast and thighs

  • 3 cups of chicken broth

  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil

  • 1 onion (chopped fine)

  • 5 carrots (chopped into 1/4" pieces)

  • 3 celery ribs (minced)

  • 10 oz of cremini mushrooms (trimmed & minced)

  • 1 tsp of soy sauce

  • 1 tsp tomato sauce

  • 4 tbsp. butter

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour

  • 1 cup of whole milk

  • 2 tsp of lemon juice

  • 3 tbsp of fresh parsley

  • 1 cup of frozen peas

For the Biscuit Topping

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour

  • 2 tsp of baking powder

  • 3/4 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 tsp of pepper

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

  • 6 tbsp of chilled butter (cut into 1/4" pieces)

  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk + 2 tbsp more

First, heat your oven to 450F to cook the crumble biscuit topping. 

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and butter into a large bowl, stand mixer, or food processor. Mix the combination into a coarse meal then stir in the parmesan, and buttermilk until a dough forms.

Crumble the mixture in irregular shaped pieces and place them onto a baking sheet. Then cook the crumbles just until they start to smell like warm biscuits, shouldn't take more than 10 minutes.    

{Tip: Wet your hands with water when you handle to dough it will prevent the dough from sticking to them} 

While the crumbles are baking, in a dutch oven or heavy pot bring the chicken broth to a simmer and cook the chicken until done (170F), should take about 10 minutes.

Once the chicken is done transfer it to a large bowl, to cool, and strain the broth. Poaching the chicken in the broth will give you full bodied base for your gravy in the pie.

When the chicken has cooled to a point where you can handle it cut it into 1/4" cubes.

While the chicken cools, add 1 tbsp oil to the now empty dutch oven heating the oil until it is shimmering. Then add the onion, carrots, and celery cooking until soft, adding salt and pepper to taste.

When the onion, carrots, and celery are done cooking transfer them to a container.  Then add the other tablespoon of oil to the pot heating over medium until it is shimmering. Add the mushrooms, cooking covered until they release their liquids.

The mushrooms should release their liquids after a few minutes once they have add the soy sauce and tomato paste. Cook uncovered until the liquid evaporates. A dark fond should develop on the bottom of the pot once this has happened transfer the mushrooms to another container.

Melt the butter in the empty pot over medium heat. Once melted add the flour and stir constantly for about a minute. Then slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk. Bring the liquid to a simmer, scrapping any fond from the bottom of the pot. Cook until a thick gravy forms.

Once you have your thick gravy remove pot from the heat add the lemon, parsley, chicken, and peas. Season the filling with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the filling into a 13" x 9" baking dish. Place the biscuit crumbles randomly on top of filling cooking until the crumbles are nicely browned, about 15 minutes.

{Tip: You may want to place the baking dish onto a foil lined baking sheet just incase the filling bubbles over.}  

Allow to cool for a bit and enjoy!

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We've Changed our Name!

When I set up my first site a little over 6 years ago, I wasn't too concerned about what I named it.
After all, I was creating a blog where family and close friends could keep up with photos of my then young daughters, and I could post my most recent DIY creations. 

It wasn't like I was naming a business. 

Fast forward a few months, I had fully fallen down the rabbit hole of blogging, discovered paper cutting, and starting creating my own cut paper fingerprint art work and wanted to open an Etsy shop to sell them through. It made sense to name my Etsy shop the same as my blog, and all of a sudden, I had a business named Lori Danelle. 

Over the next few years, I continued creating and my husband, Nate, kept challenging me to think bigger. Somewhere along the way he saw what I was doing as something a whole lot bigger than just a hobby. He envisioned it as a full-fledged business and helped me to see it too. Together, we started dreaming a much bigger dream, and instead of it being his dream or my dream – it became our dream.

Nate took over all the behind-the-scenes business management, set up systems that allowed us to work more efficiently, and basically, made sense of all the things that I had been muddling though.  

After attending a entrepreneur conference together, I left finally having the guts to try something new that I had always loved, but was positive I would be lousy at. I signed up for an online class that taught hand lettering – completely fell in love, and discovered something else – I wasn't horrible at it!

We started taking my cut paper designs and art prints to Indie Craft shows. Nate realized that we needed frames to go with my art and started crafting them himself. He also saw that my work was ideal for greeting cards and challenged me to come up with a stationery line. 

As our business grew and we planned for future products, we each began to feel that a business named after one person no longer fit the collaborative team we have become. 

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For us, Home Again Creative represents a shift in focus. 

In a world that is increasingly over-connected and glorifies busy-for-the-sake-of-busy, there's a draw to simply slow down. 

For us, building a slower and more connected life begins in our home with the daily choices we make. 

Our hope for Home Again Creative is to bring you products that are thoughtfully made – from function & design, to the impact it’s production has on people and the planet through labor and materials.

Simultaneously, we want to use our blog as a resource for those who want to learn to build or make something for themselves by breaking down the creative process with DIY tutorials. We think that knowing how to make something for yourself is not only extremely rewarding, but serves to educate us on how the products we purchase are made, causing us to better appreciate & be able to identify good craftsmanship.

Thank you so much for supporting Lori Danelle. I never could have guessed how far we'd come when I first started my blog, and I'm so excited to see where Home Again Creative takes us!