Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Sourdough Baking: Getting Started with Your Starter

Once upon a pandemic I started the most quarantine-cliche of hobbies: Sourdough baking! I detailed some of my journey/process and have spent the last two years honing my craft (and eating a whole lot of carbs). I'm still by no means an expert baker. But I've picked up a few tips and tricks (and a few tools) on my way...enough to actually get in a rhythm so each baking session is less wild experimentation and more delicious execution.

I share (figuratively and literally) a lot of what I make (#bowdenismsbakes, Sourdough stories highlight 1 and 2) , and at the risk of sounding all "SO many people have been asking"...I will say that there have been some requests from people to learn how to bake. There have actually been many MORE requests for me to just drop off carby-goodness on doorsteps- which I do- but a few brave souls also want to try their hand at the process and are looking for an easy on-ramp to do it. 

So I thought it would be helpful to pull together a super quick guide to the tools and recipes I use. This is far from an all-encompassing tutorial...there are millions of people better suited to that than me. Think of this as a shopping list and resource guide to get you started.


I've tried a lot of things over the years (if you can make it with sourdough...I'll give it a whirl. We're talking brownies, waffles, tortillas...See my full pinboard here.) and they were definitely not all winners. A few Pinterest fails won't keep me from trying new things, but for now, here's the short list of my tried-and-true basics that I go back to frequently.

  • Traditional Sourdough Bread: see full recipe below.
  • Pretzels: This recipe by Baking Sense is AMAAAAAZING. The only change I make is adding more flour, so it's about 2 cups in total rather than 3.5. Serve with salami and cream cheese,  cut them to use as sandwiches, or make them as nuggets (takes longer, but they're kind of irresistible) and serve with Aldi Sweet Bavarian Mustard.YUM!
  • Pizza dough: Little Spoon Farm is a sourdough expert and this pizza dough is so easy and delicious. Cooking in a skillet + broiling is a game-changer!
  • Pasta dough: via The Gingered Whisk. I'm not sure sourdough is a necessity in noodles (ok...it definitely isn't) but it's fun!
  • Bagels: Another Little Spoon Farm winner. These are a bit time consuming, but worth it! 

    And now that you know what you're going to make, here's what you'll need to make it. Well actually- you really don't need any of this to make sourdough things. In the beginning, I didn't have any specific tools- just my regular mixer and some measuring spoons- so I improvised with bowls, pots, cookie sheets etc. There's no shame in that game, but if you're looking to level-up, or want some ideas on what to get the aspiring bakers in your life, here's a basic lists of my go-to tools:

    • Bannetons- These are fancy bowls to bake your bread in. I have two 9" rounds to make "boules" but you can get them in loaf pan shapes too. 
    • Dutch Oven- You could get a beautiful (and expensive) Le Creuset...but this basic version is working just fine. Mine is 6qt, and fits my 9" round loaf perfectly. (plus it's really pretty in grey!)
    • Pastry scraper- this tool, above all else makes me feel like a real professional. Just seems like you really know what you're doing, ya know?
    • Bread Lame (razor)- crucial for making those fancy little designs that make your bread look (even more) gorgeous
    • Flour Sacks- Helpful lightweight towels used for covering dough, cleaning up, and honestly, literally any other task in the kitchen.
    • Silicon Baking Mats- Full disclosure- I REALLY struggled to find mats that would fit my baking sheets, and these still aren't perfect, but I use the larger sizes quite a bit, and the circle works great in the dutch oven. Came with a tiny spatula and a silicon brush which I use constantly, so that's a good bonus.
    • Silicon pastry mat- My husband bought me this, thinking it was a mat to bake on, but it's actually a huge work surface...and I ADORE IT. I roll out all my pretzels on this, and it helps keep the sticky mess contained. The measurements printed on it are helpful too!
    • Spatula Set- Such a solid assortment and range of sizes. I have a lot of spatulas junking up my counter, but these are my favorite.
    • Measuring cups- not revolutionary, but these are just so perfect. Easy to clean, tons of sizes.
    • Bread Bags- Want to get a little "extra"? Yeah ya do! I gift all of my breads in these bags. So profesh! 
    • KitchenAid Mixer- You probably already have this, right? How did I go my entire life without one? It's actually not used to make traditional bread, but I use it for many other sourdough recipes and consider it a kitchen staple now.  
    • Pasta Maker Attachment- sort of a sidenote- but I didn't want to shell out the $$ for a KitchenAid brand version and have been very happy with this version.
    • Baking set- Ok, I don't actually have this set, so I can't personally vouch for the quality- but it has a lot of the basics you'll need, and is a great price, so could be an excellent starter pack while you figure out if this whole yeasty adventure is for you.
    • Pretzel jammies- You know what? Forget the rest of the list. These are all you need. 

    Sourdough Bread Recipe
    This is the same process from my original blog post, but condensed down (without pictures) for quicker reference.

    Day 1:

    • Hour 0: (8am) Feed the starter: Mix ½ cup warm water and ½ cup flour together and add to the starter. Let it sit at room temperature (covered is fine) for around 5 hours.
    • Hour 5: (1pm) “Autolyse”: Mix 8 cups of flour and 3 ¼ cups water. Let sit together for 30 minutes (Cover with a damp cloth and let sit at room temperature).
    • Hour 5.5: (1:30pm) Add ½ cup starter and 1 tablespoon salt. Mix together. Cover for 30 minutes
    • Hour 6-7.5: (2pm, 2:30pm, 3pm, 3:30pm) Begin stretch and fold. Pull the dough up from one side, stretch it out, pull it across the bowl, and fold it back onto itself. Quarter turn the bowl, and do it again 4 times (one on each side). I like to scrape the sides after to keep the bowl clean. Do this once every half hour, 4 times, covering in between stretch and folds.
    • Hour 7.5: (3:30pm) Cover for the bulk rise. Let it sit at room temperature for about 6 or 7 hours.
    • Hour 14: (10pm) Shape your loafs: Sprinkle your work surface with a little flour. Cut the dough in equal size halves. Separate them. Pull them delicately into rectangles. Pull small sections alternating from each side, folding into the middle to make a log, then roll it on top of itself to create a ball. Push the outsides underneath to hide the seams. Cover and let it rest on the counter for 30 minutes.
    • Hour 14.5: (10:30pm) Repeat this last step, but skip the resting. Place each loaf into a banneton  Cover and let proof in the refrigerator overnight.
    Day 2: (Morning)
    • Remove the dough from the refrigerator
    • Place dutch oven in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. 
    • When preheated- place the dough in the dutch over (place a silicon baking mat or piece of parchment paper in the bottom first) 
    • Use a bread lame to cut the top of the loaf (a simple semi-circular cut works, or you can do a more elaborate design) to allow for growth while baking. 
    • Brush with an egg wash (1 egg or 1 egg white mixed with a little bit of water). 
    • Bake, covered for 25 minutes. 
    • Remove the lid. Bake for an additional 10 minutes
    • Let rest for 30 minutes before cutting/eating

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    Wednesday, May 11, 2022

    Little Pip-Speaks: Volume 37

    Fin basically wrote this installment's intro, when I was asking them random conversation starter questions recently:
    Fin: Ooh you should ask us "What do you like most about kids being young?" If I was a grown up I would say "How funny they are." Because they say stuff wrong and it’s hilarious. 
    Too true, Finney girl.



    Pip-speak #1:  
    Piper {on cinnamon donuts}: They taste like Joann fabrics.

    Pip-speak #2:  
    Piper: I have an idea!
    Miller: You ALWAYS have an idea.
    Piper: That’s because I’m an idea person. 
    Pip-speak #3: 
    Mama: Did Miller put his sunglasses in the freezer?
    Piper: Yep. He wanted to make them cooler!

    Pip-speak #4: 
    Mama: I need to check my phone and make sure I have enough storage.
    Piper: I though you had extra storage?
    Mama: I do- but I take a LOT of pictures
    Piper: Oh- so it’s extra storage for boring moms but it’s just regular storage for awesome moms?
    Pip-speak #5: 
    Piper {in the car, working on a drawing}: “How do you spell handzitizer?”
    Pip-speak #6:  
    Fin: I want to use dry shampoo like you, Piper.
    Piper: You can’t. Your hair is clean. Mine is clean-ish
    Pip-speak #7: 
    Piper {on Fin’s cheerleading routine}: That was WAY more boring than last year. {pause} What? Still good though!
    Pip-speak #8: 
    Piper {on her basketball team}: Do you know why we’re called the chicken wings? On our first practice we were gonna do “hands in” but then we decided elbows was safer, and then we thought it looked like chicken wings so it just stuck. 

    Pip-speak #9:  
    Piper: Sometimes I get new freckles from chocolate.

    Pip-speak #10:  
    Daddy: I didn’t get fired I got laid off.
    Piper: Is that like half firing you? Like they kinda wanted you, but mostly didn’t?
    Pip-speak #11:  
    Mama: Aw man, the stain isn’t coming out of this pillowcase.
    Piper: Well at least you don’t know what happened so you don’t have a kid to be mad at.
    Pip-speak #12: 
    Mama: As long as someone’s teaching you about Jesus.
    Piper: I’m being teached about Jesus in my bible study.
    Mama: Teached?
    Piper: Maybe I should be teached in learning.

    Pip-speak #13:  
    Piper: I always thought Swedish fish was like “sweet…ISH” fish, but it’s “Swedish” like the world.

    Pip-speak #14:  
    Piper {on voicemails}: I am VERY bad at making recalls.
    Finnish #1:
    Fin: If you gave away the pool table I would cry until my eyeballs were dry.

    Finnish #2:
    Mama: Get ready, these cinnamon rolls are super sour-doughy.
    Fin: I can picture it in my mouth. 
    Finnish #3:
    Fin: Is there such a thing as a three-marriage? Like- where three people are married?
    Finnish #4:
    Mama {to all 3 kids, jokingly, I swear}: Eat your dinner and shut your traps. 
    Finley: I don’t want to shut my traps. They’re staying open!

    Finnish #5:
    Miller: Can I borrow that toy?
    Finley: Sure. Knock yourself crazy.

    Finnish #6:
    Finley {on other people's dessert choices}: Getting a smoothie from an ice cream place? Who does she think SHE is?

    Finnish #7:
    Finley {on other kids at the pool}: They fight a lot; have their ups and downs.

    Finnish #8:
    Kid's friend: Kids Bop takes good songs and ruins them.
    Fin: No, Kids Bop is actually saving kids’ lives.
    Piper: No they’re not!
    Fin: Well, they’re saving them from saying bad words!

    Finnish #9:
    Finley: I’ll give the toy to you I’d you tell me how beautiful I am.
    Piper {eyeroll}: You’re so beautiful.
    Finley: You need to say it to my face. *spins around dramatically* Yesssss, Piperrrrrrrr?!

    Finnish #10:
    Finley: Daddy didn’t give us any breakfast. He just slapped down some waffles. 

    Finnish #11:
    Fin {on coordinating our neighborhood Christmas lights contest}: There is an upside and and downside to living in this neighborhood. The upside is you get to spread Christmas cheer by working together. But you also have to spend your own money on it. 

    Finnish #12:
    Finley: Before you use that straw you need to say you’re sorry to the turtles.
    Miller: I don’t think they can hear you.
    Finley: Yeah but GOD can!

    Finnish #13:
    Finley {prior to the school Trunk-or-Treat event}: So like- how are we gonna do this? Because I don’t wanna be like, walking around with a mom around. Are you just gonna like…stay in the car? *does not pause for an answer* Ok but like please…just…I don’t want a mom there with my friends.

    Finnish #14:
    Mama {on always being the one who finds everything}: Well guess who found it? Me. Because I'm an excellent finder.
    Fin {demonstrating great sensitivity to the residual effects of my childhood glaucoma}: Well maybe it’s because your one big eye can see more stuff.

    Finnish #15:
    Fin {on gymnastics mats}: For the first time ever we got to go on the good floor.
    Mama: What’s the difference with the good floor?
    Fin: I don’t know..it’s just like…boing-ier?

    Finnish #16:
    Fin: {says slither instead of sliver. That's all. It's just really cute.}
    Miller Musings #1:
    Mama {on Fin and Miller's schemes}: You two always have an idea.
    Miller: Yes, and they NEVER work.

    Miller Musings #2:
    Miller {playing a game with me}: I thought you won. That’s why I was talking real sad.
    Miller Musings #3:
    Mama: *reads a book about a dragon with a cold* 
    Miller {pointing to his fire breath}: That is unlikely. He should have a hot.

    Miller Musings #4: 
    Mama: This car is so messy!
    Miller: It's like we’re on vacation!
    Mama: Why bc you’re having so much fun? Or because our car is so messy?
    Miller: Because I’m having so much fun AND our car is so messy!

    Miller Musings #5:
    Miller: A big mess always means a good art!

    Miller Musings #6: 
    Miller {seeing the first bright start that night}: Look! A baby Jesus star!
    Miller Musings #7:
    Dad {during a road trip}: Next state is Pennsylvania!
    Miller: Hey! That’s where pencils go on vacation

    Miller Musings #8:
    Miller: Mommy, when I’m a grown up will there not be as much COVID as there is now?

    Miller Musings #9: 
    Miller: Mom’s super power is taking pictures and being nice. Dad’s super power is being really strong and doing good at driving the car. 
    Miller Musings #10: 
    Miller {on Chicken Soup for the Soul}: Mommy, I think this book is about souls because the chicken gets runned over and then he’s just a soul.

    Miller Musings #11:
    Miller: Daddy said in the dictionary there’s a thing called a dingle and there’s a picture of me!! I’m famous!
    Miller Musings #12:
    Miller {looking at the stuffed animals at the library gift shop}: Ooh look a pig! Oh, a hippo! The hippo is next to the pig. That must be the cute section. 

    Miller Musings #13: 
     Miller: Look! A jumberlack!

    Miller Musings #14: 
    Finley: Did you know my teacher has a twin?
    Miller: So she’s a grown up that has a twin?
    Piper: What- did you think there were only kid twins?
    Miller: Umm yeah.
    Miller Musings #15:
    Miller {on elderly groundhogs}: The grandmas look like regular groundhogs but just with a little more wrinkles. And the grandpas have a mustache.

    Miller Musings #16: 
    Mama: What’s your instrument called?
    Miller {holding a kazoo}: A zarooga? I dunno. It’s something with a z. 

    Miller Musings #17: 
    Miller {on rollercoasters}: I’ll scream the whole time. But I’ll do individual screams. Because I can’t scream that long. 
    Miller Musings #18:  
    Miller {on knitting}: Mommy! That dog has a sweater...made out of...um...fur? No. Um...leather? No. I dunno...
    Dynamic Duo #1:
    Fin; Mommy, I like your highlights.
    Piper: You’re not supposed to say that! Then everyone knows they’re not real.
    Mama: It’s cool- I’ve got no secrets.
    Piper: You do have secrets!
    Mama: Like what?!
    Piper: After we go to bed at night you probably kiss daddy like 1 million times.
    Miller: AND on our birthday you hang up streamers in our room. 
    Dynamic Duo #2:
    Mama: How many songs are you singing in your school concert, Miller?
    Miller: Like a LOT. But not TOO many.
    Mama: So, somewhere between a lot and not too many?
    Fin: So like…enough. 
    P.s. If you just can't get enough, check out the last round...or all 30+ installments. 
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    Tuesday, April 5, 2022

    Thankfulness Time Capsule

    Originally drafted November 25, 2020. I found this digital equivalent of a scrawled-on scrap of paper at the digital equivalent of the bottom of my messy purse, and figured I'd save it from blog-post purgatory and finally just hit publish. Turns out this year-and-a-half old gratitude journal surfaced just in time for the back half of 100 Sparks of Joy. How's that for serendipity?


    This morning I opened up my Timehop (one of the apps I use every morning while I procrastinate getting out of bed) and I saw a link to one of my blog posts from 2015. It was a "thankful-list", with a bunch of little things that don't really matter, but still bring me extraordinary joy. I've done these a few times in the past, and while I've never consistently kept up with any sort of gratitude journal, I think the practice is really valuable, even if the effort is only occasional. So here's a silly little list of some somewhat frivolous things that in this moment I'm really, truly thankful for:

    • The kind of people who put out collections of lawn inflatables, have a life sized stuffed bear in a rocking chair on their porch, and dress a giant rooster sculpture in a sheet/ghost costume for Halloween. You are my people.
    • My sourdough starter.
    • When people actually sign our Little Free Library guest book.
    • They way our littlest says "Chris-a-mas" (I will not be correcting her, and will glare at anyone who does).
    • My new leopard sweater from Old Navy. (because two leopard cardigans just weren't cutting it)
    • Our gas fireplace in the living room. (my first working fireplace!)
    • Slushies and boozy popsicles (and regular popsicles...and boozy slushies).
    • Dustin making the kids breakfast every day.
    • That one time we were actually allowed to go IN the library.
    • Masks in fun prints
    • Instagram memes
    • #jeeplife
    • Spooky jammies
    • Scooters, skateboards and bikes (and baskets and baby seats and bells!)
    • The crazy amount of money we're saving on gas.
    • Queso (the green bucket!)
    • New playgrounds, old playgrounds, natural playgrounds...all the playgrounds.
    • Friends who understand that my extroversion has no outlet right now, and just listen, listen, listen to all my pent up words.
    • Slack, and Zoom and Mural
    • A neighborhood where I can let the kids explore and play without fear.
    • Coke Zero Cherry (yes...Coke Zero is on every edition of these lists. It's called loyalty, look it up.)

     P.s. You can check out a couple thankful-lists from the past. (You're going to want to click on that last link, if only to enjoy Fin's fat thighs. NOM NOM!)

    Psssst....Want to get all the Bowdenisms news delivered right to your inbox? 
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    Wednesday, December 8, 2021

    Merry Quilt-mas

    What's the best part of Christmas?
    Christmas trees? 
    Christmas trees? 
    And more Christmas trees? 

    But also: Snuggling up near those Christmas trees, and watching Christmas movies. 
    And to do THAT properly-you need a Christmas quilt! 
    Well, good news for our family...we have one! But when it comes to all things Christmas (or all things Courtney) is one enough? OF COURSE NOT. 

    So it comes as no surprise that as I started to pull out our Christmas decor, I started to feel the urgent need to MAKE. So I went ALL in and started my own unofficial 12 Days of Christmas Quilting event.

    And here's the end product of my End Game:


    I fa-la-la-la-love it!! The behind the seams details:
    • Quilt Pattern: End Game by Tied with a Ribbon. This isn't a Christmas pattern specifically, but aren't the triangles just the most perfect trees? It was a pretty simple pattern...though it took me a little while to land on my fabric layout. Once I started actually sewing the top it came together super quickly. And I've never worked with equilateral triangles before, but just working in rows across made it pretty simple. (This triangle ruler made cutting pieces SO much faster).

    • Fabric: It's a big mix of things from JoAnn's. (You know I'm all about convenience...and a deal). 50% off Christmas fabric? Yes, I will take them all. The backer fabric has little green trees, and is actually a part of their year-round line: White Sketched Forest Quilter's Showcase Cotton. The white background is also a non-holiday fabric- it has teeny-tiny white-on-white triangles that don't show up in pictures really but add just a hint of pattern/texture when you see it up close: Triangles White On White Quilter's Showcase Cotton. The rest were mostly JoAnn's exclusives, with the exception of one "designer" fabric: Merry Main Street Alexander Henry Christmas Cotton. I knew the minute I saw that I wanted it to have a special spot in the quilt. I love the retro vibes, and the colors are perfect. It's can be fine line between cute and "cutesy" when making Christmas-themed things, so I tried to use just a small hit of this fabric to keep the whole thing modern, and not overly-literal. I love that addition though..it feels a little quirky without being over-the-top.

    • Backing design: I don't know why I insist on doing special designs on the back of all of my quilts. It's double the work...maybe triple, because you have to do two unique sides, PLUS make sure they work together (and it complicates the quilting pattern). But DANG it makes the whole thing more special. So I continue to torture myself, and no matter the mental gymnastics or physical labor, I am always grateful I did it. This one was no exception. I agonized over what to put on the back (ok, agonized might be a touch over dramatic, but I did toy with more than a handful of options for an hour at least, just hemming and hawing and consulting with my studio-mate/husband). I didn't want to recreate the front too closely, but I still wanted them to feel related. I was also working around some fabric limitations/seams on my backer, and I wanted to make sure that whatever I designed would line up with the front when I sandwiched them so I could plan my quilting to work with both. I finally landed on two simple triangles made up of a mix of fabrics, to pull in all the prints and patterns and mimic the shapes from the front. And...I love it. For me- the backer result is always worth the backer effort. 

    • Quilting design: My skills are limited here, so straight lines it is! It's really just a matter of how many, and which way they go. I got inspired by some fancy stuff I saw others doing, but 1: a lot of other End Game quilts use solids, so more elaborate quilting would stand out a bit more. 2: my best skill isn't quilting, so it didn't seem to make sense to pour a ton of effort into something that still may not turn out awesome. At this stage, for this quilt, simple seemed best- so I went with diagonal lines, parallel to one side of my triangle seams. They're about 2.5" apart, evenly spaced with 3 lines across on each triangle. 

    • Timeline: I wasn't kidding when I said it was the 12 Days of Christmas Quilting. I bought all my fabric on Friday November 12th, and wrapped it up late Tuesday the 23rd (just in time for Thanksgiving). That was a lot

    • Media of choice while I worked: Netflix Christmas movies, obviously! I watched Love Hard, Single All the Way, Father Christmas is Back, A California Christmas, and The Holiday Calendar. I sprinkled some Disney+ in there too (The Sandlot, Saving Mr. Banks) and when that all got too saccharine-y, I made a HARD pivot, and binged season 2 and 3 of You. A stalker/serial killer series is probably not the most appropriate background track for a Christmas quilt, but I've learned that I sometimes prefer having a series to watch while I work, rather than movies, because it gives you more uninterrupted hours of content. With movies I had to figure out something new to watch every 1.75 hours, but with a series (especially one with multiple seasons) you can just leave it on indefinitely.
    • New thing I tried/learned: Well, I've apparently made my own binding before, but that was on my very first quilt, back in 2013, so my memory of that is pretty much nil. Typically I use pre-made bias tape, but I knew I wanted candy cane stripes for this one (and didn't want to spend time or money on an Etsy order) so I thought I'd try making it myself. I found some easy tutorials and while it definitely took more time than store-bought tape, I really am proud of the result. For this design it needed to be on the bias (to get the stripes to be diagonal) but in the future I think I'll try just cutting regular strips of fabric in order to have custom colors or patterns.

    • Final thoughts: This was SO fun to work on. I've been quilting a LOT over the last month or two (I still have another finished project to share...) which has gotten a little overwhelming at times (it's a lot of late night hours). But mostly it's been a happy place for me. I love doing something with my hands, getting into the "flow", and the feeling of accomplishment that quilting provides. And after making a lot of quilts for other people, it's fun to have one that I get to enjoy! This holiday time is so special...and so is having a keepsake like this.
    And just for fun- here are some shots of my two Christmas quilts together. I love how they work together without being too matchy. They're both already getting lots of snuggle time, so I can attest they look just as good mashed up in a big ball on the couch.

    Ooooh- P.S. While I was in the Christmas crafting mood, I whipped up a couple gifts for a friend's new twin babies. I made some truly tacky terrible stockings for Dustin and me our first year of marriage (I think I finally donated them to Goodwill last year after leaving them stuffed in the bottom of a bin for years) but other than that I've never tried stockings. When Katie said she really wanted some faternal twin stockings for her fraternal twin babies, I figured I'd give it a shot! I mish-mashed two free patterns together- mostly this patchwork one, using the shape and finishing methods from Suzy Quilts. It ended up being a touch harder than I thought...but maybe just because I tried to get them done in a matter of days (and I picked a pretty labor intensive design), but all things considered, I'm so pleased with how they turned out. Love the idea that my work gets to be part of people's lives and traditions. (All of the fabric is collected from my two quilts, and the inside lining is the white fabric with little trees. So cute!)

    All Sources/Details:

    Pattern: End Game by Tied with a Ribbon
    Finished size: 62" x 72" (designed to be a throw)
    Total Time spent: About 29 hours. But that includes lots of "think time"- incluidng choosing fabric,
    Cost: Honestly...I don't really know. I am not greaaaaat at keeping track of such things (maybe I don't want to know?!) but I also had some issues with my e-receipts getting lost so we'll just say it was a gift from Santa.

    Fabric: All JoAnn's. With enough leftovers to make some other things...like this tree skirt. NEXT year.
    Binding: Made from red and white stripe fabric, using this tutorial. (I am not kidding when I say the tip on how to press it into double fold tape BLEW MY MIND). Mr. Domestic also has a reel that shows the process well. And I always follow Cluck Cluck Sew machine binding tutorial.
    Batting: Pellon Nature's Touch Cotton Batting Twin Size 72"x90". (It was cheaper to get pre-packaged, vs. by-the-yard even though it was a bit larger than I needed it. The extra was more than enough to make stockings with, and I still have some big-ish scraps I can use for something.)
    Tools: For those of you looking to get some of the basic tools of the trade- here's what I can't quilt without.

    • Triangle ruler - this was fairly specific to this project, but even if I never use it again (which I honestly am already planning to) it still would have been worth it to sail through the cutting process.
    • Scissors - Is it weird to have a favorite style of scissors? Well...then I'm weird. These are the
    • Cutting Mat & Rotary Cutter- Must haves.
    P.S. See more quilty goodness: here on the blog, or on IG via #bowdenismsews
    Psssst....Want to get all the Bowdenisms news delivered right to your inbox? 
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    Monday, October 25, 2021

    BOO(ks): Spooky Season Must-reads

    There is just about nothing I love more than going ALL OUT for holiday festivities...so you know that when Spooky Season arrives, I have...as the kids say... zero chill. It's been basically a month of non-stop pumpkin scented everything around here, and I make no apologies. I'm here for all the crafts (and festivals, and treats, and matching jammies)...but especially: the books. I've been sharing our weekly/daily/hourly library hauls on Instagram, but thought it would be helpful to do a bit of a permanent "round up" of the books we just can't get enough of this time of year.

    Our Top Picks:
    The shelf staples (in no particular order)

    • Spooky Pookie: Pookie is just the cutest. But Pookie in COSTUMES is even better.
    • Seaver the Weaver: A story about a spider learning to do things his own way. Love his creativity!
    • Gustavo the Shy Ghost: Lovely story about a ghost finding friends. Beautiful work by a Mexican author/illustrator. We tried the Wonderbook version of this one- the "soundtrack" made it extra special.
    • Room on the Broom: A true classic (from the creators of The Gruffalo, so you know it's good.)
    • Ghost in the House: What kid doesn't like a lift-the-flap book? This one has a surprise to guess on each page.
    • The Monster's Monster: The characters here are irresistible, and the main guy has such a sweet spirit.
    • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything: Even my littlest ones have this memorized. Do you remember this one from elementary school read aloud? I'll never tire of it.
    • Pick a Pumpkin: Beautifully illustrated story about Fall. 


    Honorable Mentions:  
    If you have a liiiiiiitle bit more space on your shelf...or 5 more minutes until bedtime (for REAL this time) these are great additions.


    And if that's still not enough (what even IS enough!?!) Here is the FULL list of what we're reading (and loving) this season:

    Original Favorites
    Unique stories...mostly new to me, maybe to you too!
    • Monster Trouble: Points for diversity. Love that the monsters can be defeated with kisses!
    • Bone Soup: Anything with a bit of an "ick" factor is a hit with my kids. This one has an actual recipe at the end...but contains far too many vegetables for my children to want to attempt it!
      Posey the Monster Slayer
      : Love the strong main character...she ignores bedtime to fight monsters...much to her parents' chagrin. They get increasingly upset, using her FULL name as they yell for her to get back in bed. We all got a kick out of that....relatable.
    • The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt: Ok- I cheated. I have this on hold from the library, but haven't gotten to read it yet. But SURELY I'll love it, right?! The title alone!
    • Jerry Seinfeld Halloween: If you remember his bit about Halloween- "Get Candy Get Candy Get Candy!" you'll love this illustrated version.
    • The Spider and the Fly: Not going to lie- the subject of this one was a bit dark. It has a decent lesson...but still creeped me out a little. The illustrations are beautifully intricate and dramatic though!
    • The Okay Witch: The first graphic novel my ten year old has tried...I can't personally vouch for it, but she begs me to stay up late reading it, so that feels like a good sign. 
    • It's a Pumpkin: Animals solving a silly little mystery...what IS that thing?
    • Stumpkin: Poor little guy just wants to be picked!
    • Sir Simon: Super Scarer: Cute buddy comedy between a ghost and the friend who finds him.
    • The Little Ghost Who Lost her Boo: Simple story about a ghost looking for her "boo". Good for little kids- especially if they love animal sounds.
    • Ghosts: A loooong one. But fun concept about all the different types of "typical household ghosts" (and yes, my kids especially liked that there was one in the bathroom!)
    • Los Gatos Black on Halloween: Fun to learn some Spanish vocab.
    • How to Make Friends with a Ghost: Sweet story about making friends for life (and beyond). 

    You get it.

    Simple Stories
    Not investment pieces but still fun, quick reads that kids will get a kick out of.

    Non-Technically Halloween
    (But still fun and spooky)

    Fav Series
    If your kids (or you!) have a fav author/series/charactore then these Halloween editions are sure to be a hit!

    So, there's a virtual hayride full of my opinions. But what about you? Any other favs in your pile? What winners did I miss? And is anyone else up to their earwigs in spooky stories and LOVING IT?


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    Tuesday, October 12, 2021

    Little Pip-Speaks: Volume 36

    My kids are really stinkin' big now. And really stinkin' funny still. Let's go:



    Pip-speak #1: 

    Piper: {coming home after her first dance class} I borrowed ballet shoes. A.k.a.: foot traps.

    Pip-speak #2:
    Mama: {Reading a Table Topic} What 3 things would you like to accomplish in 3 years?
    Piper: Learn what the word accomplish means?

    Pip-speak #3:
    Piper: {looking at a picture of herself in my Timehop app} Aw, is that me? Am I zero? I’m cute....for zero.

    Pip-speak #4:
    Piper: Know what I learned in the life of 4th grade? If you’re not into Pop-Its you have no friends.
    No Pop-Its, no friends.

    Pip-speak #5:
    Piper: {to Fin} That’s your voice called "I don’t want to be wrong".

    Pip-speak #6:
    Mama: {Watching her take forever to drop off treats to the neighbors because she walked allllll the way around the path} You could have cut through the yard!
    Piper: I wanted to be respectful! Plus they had a ring doorbell and it was camera-ized!

    Pip-speak #7:
    Piper: {seeing an outlet mall out the window} Hey mom look! It’s kind of a beachy town over there.


    Pip-speak #8:
    Tia: What time is your bedtime?
    Piper: Anywhere from 9 o' clock to a thousand.

    Pip-speak #9:
    Piper: Mom, my belly button is like a swimming pool for ants!

    Pip-speak #10:
    Piper: {regarding Martha Stewart's frozen mac & cheese bites} Well it IS made by a professional so if must be good.
    Mama: What?
    Piper: Look at her- she looks professional!

    Pip-speak #11:
    Piper: (discussing how to get Dad to let her dog-sit) I could help w the convincing! I think he kinda has a soft spot for me. But I think he has a big one for you. Like a huge one.

    Pip-speak #12:
    Piper: Dad never lets me do science.
    Mama: Science? Or slime? I think he just doesn’t let you do super sticky stuff.
    Piper: The only science I’m interested in is sticky science.


    Pip-speak #14:
    Mama: Name three animals you’re scared of at the beach.
    Piper: Alligator, snapping turtle and sharks
    Mama: OK. Name three animals you’re NOT scared of at the beach.
    Piper: Fish, sardines and sushi

    Pip-speak #15:
    Mama: Name three ways you can make music without an instrument.
    Piper: Mouth, hands and knuckles


    Pip-speak #16: 

    Piper: Are you a talker person or a listener person?
    Mama: You know this. I’m a talker person. What about you?
    Piper: I’m a talker too. Listening is boring.
    Mama: But you’re such a great listener.
    Piper: Yeah I guess but that doesn’t mean I like it.

    Pip-speak #17:
    Piper: Why do they call them king cobras? How do they have babies if they’re all king cobras?

    Pip-speak #18:
    Piper: {eating Fruit Loops} This tastes like a hotel! 


    Pip-speak #19: 

    Piper: I’m going to be 10 and dad said we’re going to have a big party because 0 birthdays are big. They are!

    Pip-speak #20:
    Mama: You have to wake up pretty early in the morning to beat your mom at Mon-Cheeka-Cheeka.
    Piper: Oh, why? So that you’re real tired?
    Mama: Just put your fr...stinking jammies on.
    Piper: I know what bad word you were gonna say. It's really easy to hear f sounds.


    Finnish #1:
    Fin: {discussing our littlest's eating habits} Did she eat her cookie already? Whoa. She is a treat machine. But not a dinner machine.

    Finnish #2:
    Me: Getting donuts always makes me feel like we’re on vacation because we don’t usually do that in our own town.
    Fin: Except for sometimes at church…like if daddy had to go early to be the pastor or something we would get donuts at Tim Hortons.

    Finnish #3:
    Fin: I want quadruplets. That way you only have to remember one birthday. And they’ll all move out at once and you can have peace.

    Finnish #4:
    Finley: The horses are going so slow. You might want to hee-yah them.

    Finnish #5:
    Finley: {at the party store} Can we ask the keepers if they have pinatas?

    Finnish #6:
    Finley: {at the pool's lazy river} You’re not allowed to sit there.
    Mama: I think it'll be fine.
    Fin: Ok but they might blow up you. {meaning: use their whistles}

    Finnish #7:
    Finley: Can you high-er my ponytails?

    Finnish #8:
    Mama: You can’t put metal in the microwave.
    Fin: {bangs on the side of a mug} Is that why you have to check if it’s ting-y?

    Finnish #9:
    Fin: I have a super good rememberer. I just have to say it over and over and over again and then I remember it. Like 357. I remember that from like...weeks ago.

    Finnish #10:
    Fin: Does god have birthdays? I guess not because he can’t get older because he never dies. Right? Well, I bet he’s old because he couldn’t be a kid because he’s so wise. He has to be a grown up. Do you think we disappear when we die? Because heaven can’t fit everyone. Like, there have been a lot of people that died...like lots of years ago, so it would get crowded. But the sky IS big. So maybe. Maybe if you really like space you could go to space, or you could go to the sky. Like on a rainbow. And you wouldn’t even have to get wet because you’d be ABOVE the clouds!

    Finnish #11:
    Miller: Why do they have their shirts off?
    Fin: They’re boys. that’s what boys do to look tough. They get tattoos on their nipples! 

    Finnish #12:
    Miller: What’s the grossest thing you never ate?
    Mama: Well, some people eat cow brains...that sounds gross to me.
    Finley: Can you taste their thoughts?

    Finnish #13:
    Fin: Miller, I’ll be happy to hug you just not while I’m getting my jammies on. You always wanna hug me when it’s not convenient. it’s not that I don’t want to hug you. I’ll hug you right now! Just let me get my shirt on because hugging without a shirt on is weird. I don’t know how Dad does it. Like when he goes to swim parties and stuff...

    Finnish #14:
    Mama: {honestly, I don't even remember what this was regarding} Why don’t you leave them where they are?
    Finley: Yeah but I have a vision and it’s going to be awesome.


    Miller Musings #1:  

    Miller: You should NOT throw up out the window. Because sometimes when I throw up there are chunks in it and a car could trip over it and crash


    Miller Musings #2: 

    Miller: Mommy I am sure my pants aren’t on backwards because I can feel the tags itching me on the bum right now. 


    Miller Musings #3: 

    Miller: {regarding our Black foster daughter} She is one of a kind! She’s the only one who has those owl jammies in our whole family. 


    Miller Musings #4: 

    Mama: What should we do for Papa’s bday?

    Miller: Hmmm. What’s his birthday theme?


    Miller Musings #5: 

    Mama: Those are perfect. 

    Miller: THAAAAAT’S a cat joke. ('Cuz purrrfect?!)


    Miller Musings #6:

    Miller: {cleaning out stuff from his bedroom after my work day} Mom, you sure do drink a lot of sodas in my office.  

    Miller Musings #7: 

    Miller {emphatically reminding himself during a scary movie scene} It’s just a movie. It’s probably animated. 

    Miller Musings #8:

    Mama: I love you and I like you. Do you know the difference?

    Miller: No. 

    Mama: Well I love you with my whole heart because you’re my kid. But even if you weren’t my kid I’d want to hang out with you because I like you. 

    Miller: Yeah we coulda been friends then. 

    Miller Musings #9:

    Dad: {after dinner at a restaurant} I gotta tell you guys, you did a great job in there.

    Miller: Yeah normally we’re badder than that. 

    Miller Musings #10:

    Miller: If you were in the Olympics and doing the high jump it would be better if you were lean. Because if you were plump you’d probably knock over the bar. 

    Miller Musings #11:

    Miller: {listening to wedding vows, "to love her, honor her, cherish her etc. etc."} That’s a lot of things to do with her. 

    Miller Musings #12:

    Miller: {trying frozen sweet tea} If you ignore the flavor it’s really good.

    Miller Musings #13:

    Miller: Why are they even called crayfish? They aren’t even fish! But they ARE dangerous. 

    Mama: Dangerous?

    Miller: What?! They can pinch you!

    Miller Musings #14:

    Miller: You loved us when we were babies. Even more than you do now. Bc we were cuter then!

    Miller Musings #15:

    Mama: Which of these animals lay eggs? A fish, a turkey or a pig?

    Miller: A fish, and a turkey. A pig would just get his eggs all muddy!

    Miller Musings #16:
    Miller: {using two spoons in his ice cream} Now I can eat two times as faster!

    Miller Musings #17:
    Mama: We can walk back to our bikes.
    Miller: I wish we brought our bikes so we could bike back to our bikes.

    Miller Musings #18:
    Mama: {sings a bedtime song with "tacos" in it}
    Miller: Aw, I wanted you to sing about leather jackets. But tacos are kinda like leather jackets because they keep your food warm.

    Miller Musings #19:

    Miller: Mommy you know what’s nice about whales? When they eat you they don’t even bite you because they don’t have any teeth. They just swallow you. 

    Miller Musings #20:

    Miller: These are the best eggs ever. and by the way, the drippier they are, the gooder they are.  

    Miller Musings #21:

    Miller: {putting his stuffies Blue Jelly and Peanut on my lap with a book on their bellies} Now you don’t have to hold the book. Bellies are good for a lot of things. Like closing doors when you’re out of hands. 


    Miller Musings #22:

    Miller: The game said it was for preschoolers, but G’mi couldn’t even do it. And G’mi is like a 70 grader.

    Miller Musings #23: 

    Miller: {regarding polo shirts} I am definitely the hottest because I have this ruffle on my neck.


    Miller Musings #24: 

    Mama: Are you in slow motion?

    Miller: No, I’m on island time 

    Miller Musings #25:

    Miller: When your foot falls asleep, it feels all fizzy. 


    Miller Musings #26:

    Mama: You are the snuggliest kid. Is that your best skill?

    Miller: *giggles* Ummm no. Probably beat boxing. But then snuggling. But your first is sourdough. Snuggling is your second. And your third is..... being the best mom in the world. 


    And our littlest is finally getting in on the action (well- more accurately she's been jabbering on for-evvvvvvver at this point, but I'm finally recording some of her gems.

    Kiddo-Quip #1: 

    Little Miss: Is the air fryer gonna go on? {air mattress}

    Kiddo-Quip #2:

    Little Miss: Mommy can we have music?

    Mama: Not right now.

    Little Miss: Well I have music in my mouth! *hums*


    Kiddo-Quip #3:

    Mama: The trampoline is dirty. we need to spray it down. 

    Little Miss: NO! Don’t spray it down! 

    Mama: Why?

    Little Miss: Because I love it.

    Kiddo-Quip #4:

    Little Miss: It’s hard to see me in my camels. {camo jammies}


    Kiddo-Quip #5:

    Little Miss: Now I don’t stink very well bc G’mi changed my diaper.


    Kiddo-Quip #6: 

    Little Miss: {blinking with alternate eyes} My eyes can hop! 

    Kiddo-Quip #7:

    Little Miss: I have an eye crusty. *puts it on her finger* Let me just make a wish.

    Kiddo-Quip #8:

    Little Miss: Do you have syrup on your eyes? {makeup}

    Kiddo-Quip #9:

    Little Miss: {seeing me dressed up as my mom} Are you Mama or no?


    Kiddo-Quip #10:

    Little Miss: Mama, why you have dis? *points to me*

    Mama: My shirt?

    Little Miss: No, dis! It’s squishy. *pats my chest*

    Mama: Oh. That’s my body. 

    Little Miss: I don’t have bodies. Well, I have tiny bodies. You have big bodies! 

    Little Miss: Daddy- do you have bodies?

    Daddy: {barely watching or listening} What? I have A body. 

    Little Miss: Yeah, but Mommy has TWO bodies!


    P.s. If you just can't get enough, check out the last round...or all 30+ installments.

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