Dec 28

DIY: Personalized Journal

by Hannah Holt »


The New Year is almost here. I’m not a resolutionist. Resolutions seem more like ultimatums than goals, and I’m not a big fan of ultimatums.

Instead I try to go with the flow.

Along with my goal setting, I keep a regular but eclectic journal. My journal is part meditations/part shopping list/part brainstorming station.

“Goals that are not written down are just wishes.”

~ Unknown

I like my journal to reflect a bit of me was well. Here’s how you can take a common composition notebook and fancy it up.

What you’ll need:

  • a foam brush
  • Mod Podge glue
  • scissors
  • a composition notebook
  • scrapbook paper

1) Measure and cut your paper to the size of the notebook.

2) Paint glue onto the outside of the notebook.

3) Press the paper onto the notebook, and firm it into place by scraping over the top of the paper with a plastic card.

4) If needed, trim the edges. Let the glue dry completely before using.

Happy (almost) New Year!

Dec 18

Feelings Coloring Pages

by Hannah Holt »


Feelings have been on my mind this weekend. My heart goes out to those in the Newton, Connecticut community. The events from this weekend make me feel heartsick.

When my seven-year-old got off the school bus today, the shooting was the first thing he wanted to talk about. He’s taking it well, but I’m making an extra effort to keep the lines of communication open.

If your child is worried or if he or she just wants to talk about feelings, I put together a few coloring pages:

You can click here for the pdf version of the coloring book or below for the individual jpgs.


I patterned the pages in this coloring book after the different stages of grief.

I also created several “fill in your own feelings” pages:

Here are a few additional resources for helping children through difficult times:

Wherever you are and whatever you are facing, I hope these pages help your children explore their feelings in a safe and nurturing way.

Dec 12

Parties, Persimmons, and Ginger Squares

by Hannah Holt »


Today is one of those fun dates: 12/12/12. It’s even more special for me because I recently turned a score and a dozen years old.

I love birthdays. Well, mostly I love cake. This week I ate plenty of cake, and now I’m in a plenty good mood. Here are some of the highlights from my week:

  • I finished Julie Hedlunds 12×12 challenge.
  • Just over a week ago, I finished Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo challenge.
  • The persimmon tree in my backyard is starting to come into season.
  • Six happy little persimmons were turned into this recipe for cake by Emiko Davies.
  • My cute husband also turned another year older, and later this week we will celebrate our nine year anniversary.
  • My oldest turned seven. I have a seven-year-old!
  • I found my first grey hair, but let’s call it silver.

December is in full swing and that means it’s time to make one of my favorite snacks of the year– ginger squares. It’s basically a recipe for gingerbread people but cut it into squares (and I use whole-wheat flour to feel less guilty about eating them by the fistful).

Ginger Squares

  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cloves (optional)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups wheat flour, plus more for dusting work surface
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.

  2. Beat butter and sugar together for two minutes

  3. Add the molasses and eggs, and beat until well combined (it will look a little grainy; that’s okay).

  4. Add the spices to the wet mixture, then the baking soda, and finally the flour. You don’t need to combine the dry ingredients together first. Just add them one at a time to the wet mixture. (I almost never use two bowls when making cookies.)

  5. Mix until combined, and then wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set in the fridge for one hour. The dough will be too sticky to handle if you don’t chill it first.

  6. Roll the dough out on a cutting board until it’s about the thickness of two nickles.

  7. Slice the dough into one-inch squares using a pizza cutter (or sharp knife).

  8. Place the squares at least ¼ inch apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 6-9 minutes. Six minutes will yield a very soft square, while 9 minutes will result in a crunchier cookie. Actual oven temperatures vary. Adjust the time as needed for desired texture.


Dec 06

Turtle Taters

by Hannah Holt »


I was scrubbing potatoes when my four-year-old asked me to read his turtle book to him. It’s part of Scholastic’s Nature’s Children series, and we’ve been reading a few pages every day. I think I enjoy reading it as much as he does.

Well, while we were reading, my two-year-old comes into the room, rolling a pilfered potato along the floor. I thought, I bet it’d be easy to make a potato into a turtle. And it was.

Turtle Taters

  • russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut lengthwise
  • baby carrots
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

1) Preheat the oven to 350° F

2) Each potato can make two turtles. Place the potato halves face down on a greased cookie sheet and prick the back with a fork twice or thrice.

3) Brush the back of each potato with olive oil and sprinkle with cheese and a dash of salt.

4) Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

5) After removing the potatoes from the oven, arrange the baby carrots on a plate such that they are the turtle’s head, arms and tail. Put a potato half over the carrots. If desired, you can add ketchup eyes and serve with sour cream.

The outsides of the potatoes were crisp, but not heavy and greasy like french fries. You can eat them with a knife and fork or (if the potatoes are smaller) like finger food. Go forth and play with your food!

Nov 19

Bread Rolls for Beginners

by Hannah Holt »


If you’re new to baking, making rolls can seem intimidating. How many times should the dough rise? How long do I mix it? What the heck is yeast?

Today, I’m going to break roll baking down into little bite size steps. Plus, I’m going to give you a recipe that will knock the socks of your mother-in-law (even if she’s the nylon wearing kind). So buckle up. Here we go!

First, let’s tame the yeast beast by giving it a name. There are a million different kinds of yeast. The good news is you only need one kind for this recipe: FLEISCHMANN’s ACTIVE DRY YEAST. It comes in a brown bottle or in packets. Either will work. You just need at least 1 Tablespoon’s worth (just over one packet). Now there are other brands of yeast that will work, but I promised you bite-sized steps. Get Fleischmann’s. (Note: Don’t accidentally grab the “RapidRise.”)

Next, you’ll need to “wake up” the yeast. You do this by placing the yeast in a small bowl with half a cup of lukewarm water. Give it a stir. Placing the yeast in the water softens it and gets it ready to rise.

The rest of the written instructions and the recipe are listed near the end of this post, but you can watch the entire process of making roll dough here:

After you let the dough rise for 40-60 minutes, it’s time to shape them. Here are a few ways you can shape the dough:

After rising the second time, the rolls are ready to bake. Place them in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until the tops turn golden brown.

Yummy, yummy! Take them out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack. Make sure the rolls are fully cooled before storing or they will sweat inside their container. You don’t want sweaty rolls. Yuck.

Fresh rolls are best when served within 12-24 hours (or freeze them for later).

And here’s the recipe:

White Bread Rolls

  • ½ cups luke warm water
  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • ½ cups unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  1. Put yeast in ½ c. lukewarm water, stir, and set aside.

  2. Mix 2 cups warm milk, butter, salt and sugar. Stir. Add beaten eggs and softened yeast. Stir.

  3. Add flour cup by cup to liquid mixture. The dough will become too thick to mix with a spoon after six cups of flour. Knead another 1.5 cups in by hand (or with a bread hook). You will probably not use the full eight cups of flour. (I like to have the extra half cup of flour to keep my kneading surface covered with flour.) Knead the dough for two minutes. The dough will be soft and sticky.

  4. Turn the dough into a large greased bowl (1/4 cup vegetable oil swirled around will grease it) and let rise until double (about 1 hour).

  5. Turn out on lightly floured surface and shape as desired. Cover and let shaped rolls rise another 50 minutes.

  6. Bake on greased baking sheet or in greased muffin pans in 350° oven for 15-20 minutes.

If you’re feeling up to an extra challenge, try splitting the recipe and make half white/half whole wheat molasses (molasses instead of sugar). Then I twisted the two roll doughs into kaiser rolls, like this:

Roll dough is like play-doh for adults. Happy roll making!