Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ummm... So what do I do now?

Hubby thinks it's time to start making Christmas cookies. Now, I don't disagree. His butter cookies improve with age and it certainly will save time later. Except...

Except that letting Hubby into the kitchen is sometimes disastrous, and tonight was no exception. After all was said and done, we ended up with two beautiful batches of butter cookies and a bowl full of 4 1/2 cups bread flour and 1 1/2 cups sugar*. Yep, bread flour. Can't use bread flour for cookies!

So, the question is, what do I do with a bowl full of bread flour and sugar? My first thought was to make challah, since that is a fairly sweet bread, but there is enough suger mixed with the flour to make EIGHT loaves of challah, following the recipe in the Joy of Cooking. I don't need that many.

Any suggestions?

*In his defense, last Christmas, there was only one tub of flour on the counter. Now there are two, one bread flour and the other all-purpose. Since they aren't labeled, they both just look like flour, as he so aptly put it. And he is a great cook.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oh, Pumpkins!

I love pumpkin. There is something about that orange color and squashy taste that just fills me with warmth and contentment. Perhaps I didn't always love pumpkin as well as I do now, but that's just because I didn't know where good pumpkin came from.

Apparently, there are two general categories for pumpkin: eating and carving. Now, you can always eat carving pumpkins. I grew up eating our Jack-O-Lanterns before they got (too) moldy. My mom would cut them up (and cut out the mold), steam them, puree them, and freeze them in convenient sized bags to use all year long. And who am I to question this order of things? It is the way it must be done!

So, last year after carving our pumpkins, I did what I was supposed to do and processed the pumpkins (they were not moldy). But I did something different without really intending to. While at the pumpkin patch, I fell in love with a beautiful pumpkin. It was a brighter orange than I had seen before and, while rather too squat and heavy for a jack-o-lantern, I knew I needed to have it. Back at home, it was dutifully carved and, within a day or two, processed into puree. Initially, I was astounded by only the orangeness of the puree. And then my mom made a pumpkin pie out of it. Wow.

To make a long story short, I'm not going back. In the future, I will be purchasing some pumpkins to carve and some to eat. I've already done that this year, getting not one, not two, but three Rouge Vif D'etampes pumpkins (two of which have already gone the way of the freezer).


A helpful hint when processing your own pumpkin:

Drain your pumpkin. I line a colander with paper towel, pour my pumpkin in, and then let it sit for a long time, often overnight in the refrigerator. The pumpkin doesn't stick to the paper towel once it has drained enough.

And some words of wisdom (ie don't repeat my stupid mistake):

Don't try and use a food strainer to remove the skin from the pumpkin. I have a pumpkin screen for mine and I thought I would try it out. Of course, I tried to do things right and looked online for instructions, but wouldn't you know, there is nothing worthwhile to be found searching under "food strainer pumpkin how to". So I tried just one. Sure enough, little pieces of skin came through. (Now, I'm not sure why you would use a food strainer to do your pumpkin if you have to scrape the flesh out with a spoon anyway. I'll take my stick blender anyday.)

And because I can't help it, one of the few photos of my cute little pumpkins.


And what do you do with pumpkin puree? I like the Joy of Cooking pumpkin pie recipe, or my mom's pumpkin pancake recipe.

Or you can try these:


And because I just can't help myself, here is one more pumpkin treat to enjoy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why I love being a Mom

It's pictures like this that show why being a mom is so rewarding. I wouldn't trade them for the world.


By the way, even though I haven't posted much lately, I am trying to post more on my kids' blogs. So check them out if you can! (If you want in on this insiders club, just let me know. Their blogs are private, not exclusive.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Did you miss me? Reflection and Confession

Yes, I know I haven't posted in three months. I apologize to the half a dozen of you that occasionally read my blog, but I had my reasons. Life has gotten busy. So, let me show you what I have been doing, in no particular order:

Running after a very mobile little boy.

Filling my new chest freezer (which we've crammed in our already cramped apartment) with eggplant, pesto, blueberries and anything we can find on sale.

Re-rearranging my hall closet to fit in my canning (First time I've ever canned!).

Working on my Pain au Levain making skills and showing them off at the fair.

Celebrating one birthday...

... And then another.

Developing scars.

Swimming in Zion (with a bunch of polygamists (not shown)) and learning to wear underwear everywhere.

Growing our very own rooftop oasis.

As you can see, I've been busy. Mathias is getting to the age where he demands a lot more attention. But how can you resist such a cute little boy as he lifts up your hand and gently places Moo, Baa, La La La into it for the 15th time in a day?

Summer time is a time of light, and here in the northwest, you have to take advantage of it. In addition, summer is a time of fresh produce and I really have been spending many of my evenings canning and freezing.

And above all, I've been trying really hard to not spend so much time on the computer. There are much more important things that I need to focus on and that I take too long to do. Besides, I have trouble believing that there are people out there who really want to know what I'm doing everyday. I mean, who really wants to know that I can nurse Mathias in my Ergo while hiking near Cedar Breaks? Maybe there is someone, but I really don't feel like I am that talented of a writer or that interesting of a person to really matter in the blogosphere.

Whew, I got that out of my system. Now you know the real reason behind my silence. Now, don't worry. I'm not going to drop out completely, but my posts are going to be fewer and farther between. But I'll save this blog for the major discoveries.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sleep at Last

As you know, we have had some adventures with Mathias and his sleeping pattern. After the last breakthrough, we settled into an acceptable pattern of him waking up twice to eat, once right before we went to bed and once more sometime in the 2:00 to 3:00 am time period. Things were looking good, even if I still had to get up at night.

Then he stopped wanting to nurse during the day. Sorry, Bud, but that is not acceptable. Mathias would nurse well at night, and then not nurse much until dinner time. To me, there is nothing worse than wanting to feed my baby and to have him refuse, expressing his desire with wiggles, screams and bites.

Luckily, I spoke to a wise friend at church (the wisdom coming from having six kids) who said that she had had the same problem with some of her kids and that the only way to fix it was to stop nursing them at night. Inspired by her experiences and the hope that there was a solution to the problem (that I would be happy with), we started that night.

A week and a half later, I'm happy to say that Mathias is well on his way to sleeping through the night. I started by just cutting out the second feeding, but the last couple of nights, he has cut out the first one as well. I've been getting so much sleep that I am just exhausted! And even better than that, Mathias has nursed well during the day ever since I started. He doesn't get as distracted as he used to so I don't have to shut myself up in a room and warn Anna to stay away or else.

Hurray for Sleep!

Friday, June 12, 2009


So, I went to grind some corn in my Nutrimill this morning (for cornbread). I poured the corn in, turned it on and it just didn't sound right.

I stopped it, fiddled with the dial a bit, and turned it on again. Still didn't sound right.

Fiddled with it some more. Still didn't sound right and then stopped making any sound at all. Ummm, not good. Especially when there is smoke coming out of the back.

WHAT DO I DO!?! HOW DO I SURVIVE WITHOUT MY GRINDER!?! (at least until I can find a Bosch store in the area who's phone is not answered by a fax machine.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Parsnips A-Plenty

What do you do with parsnips? After Oma (my mother-in-law) left some for us at Easter time, I've been wondering what to do with them. Roasted parsnips are great, but the flavor of parsnips is so distinct and unusual that it is hard to pair them up with other dishes, at least the meals in my repetoire.

Then, the other night I was watching Good Eats at a friend's house and Alton made this recipe. Now, it seemed a little strange to me too, using parsnips in muffins, but I was surprised with how well they turned out (yes, the parsnips were still good after all that time in the refrigerator). What a great way to highlight the flavor of parnsips, Alton!

And for those of you who like Homestarrunner, I hope you enjoy this.

It's that time again...

It's gardening time!!!!



Just in case you were interested, this year we planted: four tomatoes (Oregon Spring, Cherokee Purple Heirloom, Siletz, and a cherry tomato), arugela, a small romaine lettuce, swiss chard, cilantro, green onions and green beans. Oma donated basil, parsley, thyme and oregano for my birthday and Anna brought home two black bean seeds from church that sprouted and were added to our rooftop garden. We already had the chives.

Though I really don't like gardening in containers (I ache for a real yard with space to garden in), our roof deck is the greatest place to grow tomatoes. Every day that there is sun, our tomatoes get every bit of it. And here in the Northwest, we need to use all the sun we get.

Oh, I just love growing edibles!

One Man's Junk

Let me tell you the story of our water pitcher.

Once upon a time, Hubby and I got married. With said marriage came gifts, for which we were very grateful. And one of those gifts was a lovely Brita water pitcher, making it possible for us to drink the water in Utah. Oh, we loved that pitcher. So much, in fact, that we carefully packed it up, sent it in a trailer to Oregon, and picked it up on our way to our new home.

Somewhere in this process, however, the unthinkable happened: the pitcher cracked. Being the frugal (cheap or miserly also works) person that I am, I could not bring myself to purchase a new pitcher and instead took epoxy to the outside of the crack.


Though the epoxy wasn't exactly food safe, the pitcher worked just fine and we tried to be careful to keep the water line below the crack.

Now, after three something years of living with the crack, we have finally moved on. We now have a new pitcher!


But wait, you might say, I thought you were miserly, I mean cheap, I mean frugal! How could you possibly convince yourself to purchase a new pitcher when the old still worked just fine? Well, I have one word for you:


Oh be still my miserly, cheap, frugal heart! And I thought Craig's List was amazing. Here is the description from their website:

Welcome! The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,763 groups with 6,854,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on “Browse Groups” above the search box. Have fun!

Have fun, indeed. Once I discovered Freecycle, I was able to start getting rid of perfectly good stuff lying around our house that just couldn't be given to a thrift store and that I just couldn't throw away, like a partially used bottle of perfume. And through Freecycle, I was able to get a relatively new Brita pitcher (complete with three unused, still-in-the-wrapper filters) for free. And yes, keeping usable things out of the landfill is a great bonus.

Now, should I post my cracked pitcher on Freecycle? After all, it does still work...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Do you hear angels singing?

Anna has something she wants to show everyone.

All clean 

Yep, that's underwear. Underwear that she wore today. All day. Do you see where I'm going with this?

After months of slowly teaching Anna what to do with that lovely porcelain device in our bathrooms, we finally have some results. Our first, very first, accident free day.

You have to understand that this is a miracle. Less than a week ago, Anna started screaming any time we tried to sit her on the potty and was asking for a diaper. In fact, the whole time we've been trying to potty train her, it has been a struggle. However, after this last Sunday, I was about ready to put her in diapers until she was 20. But I didn't. Instead, I was forced to recognize that Anna and I were having major power struggle issues and if anyone was going to change, it was going to have to be me.

So, I discussed things with Hubby, and Aunt Ebis who happened to be in town, decided on somethings that I needed to change and hashed out a new plan for this whole potty training torture.

What we decided to do was a bit contrary to just about any advice I had been given. Instead of having her sit on the potty every hour or so, like everyone says that you should do, we stopped having her sit on the potty at all, except for right before naps and any time we left the house. I wouldn't mention it. Then, each time her underwear was wet, I would calmly respond and have her remove her underwear all by herself (not a fun task). Putting all the responsibility on her helped me to let go of the anger I felt each time Anna had an accident. Suddenly it wasn't my fault any more and she wasn't doing it to thwart my efforts to get her on the potty.

Of course, the first couple of days were messy, to say the least, but then she stopped pooping in her underwear, but would sit on her little potty when she felt it coming. And today she chose to sit on the potty several times, all on her own, and managed to keep her underwear clean and dry.

Yes, I know it isn't going to be perfect from now on, but at least I've been given a glimpse of what it is going to be like when this is all over. So, thanks to everyone who kept me sane. The end is in sight.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spring Cleaning: Finally, some results

Yeah, I know. Spring cleaning started, what, three weeks ago? And I still have yet to report on my progress? Shame, shame on me.

Unfortunately, I'm still not done with everything. The bedrooms have yet to be touched because of the overwhelming amount of work that needs to be done there. But they will be done. The kitchen I did do, but the problem is I use it, regularly. So what was once clean and nicely organized is now slightly cluttered. I'll get "after" pictures soon.

So what do I have to report on? The hall closet. Yep, the linen/food storage/wheat grinder/games/guest pillows closet. I've wanted to better organize that 4 square foot section of my apartment for months, if not years. And I sure am proud of it.



Doesn't it just make you want to weep with joy? It is amazing how organizing such a small space makes such a difference in my life. Everything there has a place.

Now, on to the bedrooms...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cloth Diaper Anniversary

Six months ago this week I started washing my first batch of cloth diapers. Ah, what a great change that was! Other than a brief hiatus when the prefolds we had were far to small, we've hardly used any disposables at all. And I have loved just about every minute of it.

Even when Mathias started solid foods, it still wasn't so bad. Yes, I didn't like the toilet swishing, but we found a solution for that.


Thanks to the internet, and this site, we managed to find instructions on making our own diaper sprayer. All it took was a kitchen spray hose and some brass fittings, and we were ready to get spraying.


We did make a change to the original instructions. Hubby got a needle valve (per the Lowe's salesperson's recommendation) and installed it after the filter connector splicer. With that, we didn't have to get the compression connector. However, I would recommend getting a ball valve instead of a needle valve as you don't have to turn it as much to get maximum pressure.

Oh, and asking for help at the hardware store? Priceless. (Just make sure you and they know what you are talking about. Home Depot didn't, but then neither did I.)

Next in the cloth diaper scene? Visuals of some of the amazing diapers my sister-in-law made for us.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Crusty, Warm and Tasty

This past week I had Moussaka on the menu. Every time I've made this lovely recipe, I've wanted some nice crusty bread to go with it, but I always forget to get something together until it is too late. Well, this week, I moved around my menu so that I could make Pain a l'ancienne from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I don't think I've ever made a better choice.

Are you drooling yet? This bread fit every one of my ideals for a "nice, crusty bread" and it went perfectly with dinner.

And even better than that? It was actually easy. And I mean easy. Usually, I have a lot of trouble shaping my breads before baking them. But this bread requires no shaping. You cut a strip of dough and then stretch it out. No rolling. No pinching. No perfect shape required. All you have to do is follow Peter's detailed instructions (read them a few times before you begin to make sure you understand them) and the result is fabulous.

Side note: I did end up letting my dough "wake up" for about 5 hours, rather than the suggested 2-3, after taking it out of the refrigerator. Because of the way that my mixer works, I think I ended up putting a little too much water in the dough, and I think that may have affected my raising time.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spring Cleaning Update

So, like I mentioned before, I'm following the spring cleaning schedule of simple mom and I feel like I have been rather successful so far.

Day one was easy, just a "clean sweep" for trash and other clutter. Day two and three have been the living room and, well, my living room is roughly the size of the bed of a pick-up truck. That, and I had recently dusted and de-cluttered my bookshelf. However, I did do some pretty thorough cleaning, of which I am very proud. In fact, the only place I didn't clean was behind the piano because I couldn't move it by myself. I wonder if it is too late to get Hubby to move it...

While everything has gone well so far, I'm a little worried about the bedrooms. Now there's a headache waiting to happen. But this whole cleaning thing is making me feel pretty good about myself. I just hope I can keep it up all the way to the end!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Inspired by Spring

Yesterday I got to wondering why I try to make resolutions to change around New Years. Sure, the beginning of the year is a great time to rethink our life and try to make changes, but you can get all excited to exercise and then look out at the cold, grey sky and continue on with your life unchanged. Surely there is a better time to make life changes, and what better time than Spring?

Lately, I have been getting the urge to do exactly that: change my life. I don't know how we can look at the flowers blooming, smell the fresh scent of spring rain, and feel the warm sun on our faces and not want to change, to start over fresh just like the world outside. Here are some of the things that I have been inspired to do lately:

Clean: Thanks to simple mom, I'm going to be doing Spring Cleaning for the first time in my life (I'm just following her daily tasks as outlined on her blog, not buying her e-book). I'm not particularly fond of cleaning, but I've been thinking the last few days that if I want to have the life that I want (ie large garden, fresh bread often, etc) and be organized, I need to start working on liking work now. And I do love having a clean, organized home.

Organize: I need to get rid of stuff. Just like pulling weeds to clear the ground for spring planting, I need to dump a lot of stuff that has accumulated over that last three years. I'll just have to be careful not to make Hubby cry when I tell him to get rid of his "special treasures". It has happened before.

Records: For some reason, while sitting at church yesterday, I was inspired to write more in my journal.

I'm sure there will be more things that come to mind, especially as I start planting our "garden". Oh, how I love Spring!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Piggyback Squared

It really is cute how our kids mimic the things we do (as long as what we do is cute). Lately, I've noticed Anna trying to copy another motherly aspect of my life. Everytime I strap Mathias to my back, Anna runs and gets her little leash/backpack (only used once for it's actual purpose) and snaps it on.


And yes, Jeanerbee, that is a Ergo I'm wearing. Oh, how I love that carrier! If I could recommend just one carrier, it would be an Ergo. It doesn't hurt my back like other carriers I have used. Also, it is nice to be able to use it in so many different positions (front, back, and hip). I'd like to wax eloquent here, but I'm just not that talented of a writer to do so. Just take my word for it that this is the best carrier I've ever used.

Friday, May 1, 2009

As if there were any question...

I'm sure there are people out there who doubt Mathias' paternity. In this day and age, who wouldn't? Well, the facts are in and Hubby has nothing to worry about: Mathias like avacado.

I don't like avacado. Period. And don't tell me I haven't given them a chance. Every year or so, I'll sample some avacado or guacamole and every year or so it is the same: My life is much more pleasant without it.

Go ahead and roll your eyes, muttering under your breath "What a genetic freak!" because that is exactly my point. I, being genetically disposed to dislike avacado, could never have a child who likes avacado unless the father likes avacado, which Hubby definitely does. Proof for all you doubters out there.

Anna, by the way, does not like avacado. I, being the forbearing, loving, generous woman that I am, tried to introduce it to her at about the same age and she gagged on her first mouthful and didn't let me give her any more. Even now, she only eats it for the salt Hubby sprinkles on it for her. In fact, most of the time, she licks the salt off and asks for more. And it just goes to prove that she is my daughter, no matter how much she would like to deny it.

Hubby should now be happy, not only because he can be absolutely sure that Mathias is his son, but because now there is more reason for us to buy avacados.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nighttime, Unplugged

It happened accidentally. Mathias woke up during the night (a regular and frequent occurrence) and I turned the monitor volume off so as to let Hubby sleep (he was sick), fully intending to turn it back on again once I was back in bed so that I would not miss the next wake-up cry. But it didn't happen. That is, I forgot to turn the volume back on and what a blessed mistake! I'm not sure if Mathias woke up sometime between 2:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., but I know I didn't! To top it all off, nobody suffered significant trauma because I didn't wake up to feed him after the arbitrary 5 hour minimum between feedings (only at night, of course).

There is no point in using a baby monitor at night if the baby is sleeping right across the hallway, right? We didn't use it at night with Anna. Instead, we left her door cracked and ours open and let her wake us up when she really needed something.

I chose to use a monitor with Mathias because I wanted to keep him from waking Anna up during the night. A noble desire, I am sure, but it meant that Mathias was waking me up 3+ times a night, which can be difficult for someone as dependant on sleep to be a happy person as I am. Because of my "mistake", I was actually able to sleep for a decent length of time.

Practically giddy with success and sleep, I decided it was time to go completely unplugged. Last night, the baby monitor was consigned to the kitchen table and we just left our door open so that we could hear Mathias' cries when they became desperate. And you know what? He only woke up once last night. At least as far as I know. I was asleep.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Saturday was a very special day in our home, so when Hubby mentioned that it was supposed to be a nice day (at least in Seattle terms), I knew just what we were going to do. Not far from us was a simple hike to view Twin Falls. We hiked there last year just before Mathias was born and really enjoyed it.

And it was a beautiful day. The trees were just starting to turn green, the weather was perfect for hiking (not too cold but not to warm), and the whole morning was very refreshing. Anna did a great job and managed to walk most of the way to the point where we turned around to go back, so at least a mile.





Ah, the outdoors! Just have to love it!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Words of Wisdom: Inanimate Objects and Cake

Life is something to be learned from, right? Well, I've decided that I have experiences in life that everyone could learn from. Granted, you probably have already learned these lessons, or are not stupid enough to need to learn these lessons, but I will happily ignore that fact and procede with boring the masses.

Lesson: Don't fight with inanimate objects.
Story: Our freezer is a mess. I like to buy things on sale, mostly meat, chop it up and stick meal sized bags in the freezer for future use. I also will make extra when cooking, like pizza sauce or pesto, put it into meal sized bags and freeze. But when all we have is a teeny, tiny freezer on top of our fridge, problems evolve.

Yesterday, I had to dig some items out from the depths of the freezer and, once again, the door was unclosable. I had a choice; I could either rearrange the freezer while Anna whined and Mathias screamed for my attention or I could use the "slam the door" technique, which will sometimes allow the freezer door to seal and keep the contents of the freezer contained. I opted for the latter. However, the door did not want to seal and I became more and more frustrated. Finally, I went in for the final blow. Arm back, I used all my force to slam the door shut. Lucky me, my palm hit right on the edge of the door and I spent the next minute leaning against the freezer trying not to curse. I tried to take a picture of the bruise, but it is rather deep and doesn't show up all that well in pictures. So, don't fight with inanimate objects.

Lesson: Don't make a cake unless you will be feeding it to at least 10 people.
Story: I made a Cream Torte with my mother-in-law this last weekend and ended up eating over a forth of it. All by myself. It is a good thing I'm nursing.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wonder of Wonders

Sometimes miracles do happen. Let me tell you about our most recent one.

Last week, the last impediment to moving Mathias from our bedroom was removed, literally, thanks to Craig's List. With the prospect of Oma and Opa coming up for the weekend and needing to sleep in our room (Opa just had back surgery), I knew we had to get Mathias out of our room and into Anna's so that we could at least have some time to get used to it.

Here's an image to describe how I felt that first evening: Imagine you are swinging on a rope towards a large solid object, like a rock. Time seems to slow down as you approach and you tighten into a ball as much as possible, a cringe on your face as you anticipate the crunch of your bones on the rock face. Yes, that is how I felt. I could just imagine the sleepless nights as Mathias woke Anna up when he got hungry and Anna woke Mathias up because she was awake and had nothing better to do.

However, the rock was not a rock but rather a nice soft cushy pillow (perhaps like this one, he he). That's right. The anticipated difficulties have yet to arrive. That first night, Mathias woke up 2-3 times and each time Anna peacefully slumbered on. And it has been the same each night since.

Yes, I know that there will be times when the night will not go so well, but for right now, the transition has gone miraculously smoothly. I just hope that having Mathias sleeping in another room will help him to sleep through the night.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Challenge and a Change

I believe I've already proven myself to be a geek, but if you are looking for further proof I am prepared to provide it.

You may have noticed there has been a change to my blog. This is a change I've been wanting for a long time. I was tired of the monochrome look created using the limited features of Blogger. I wanted something different that would help me to express myself better. So I looked around.

Sure, there are plenty of places online where you can find free blog backgrounds, but they don't quite cut it for me. There is nothing wrong with them, really, but I don't like how they don't scroll with the rest of the blog. A personal preference, but a severely limiting one.

And so began my search for instructions on how to change the html of my template to get what I wanted. See? I'm a geek. I did google search after google search, but didn't really find anything. To make an extremely long, boring, and geeky story short, I finally realized that my friend Liz, who has a background that moves as you scroll, had gotten her background from Smitten Blog Designs. So I checked them out. In all my searching, I never found any blog template so accessible as these.

But, being the geek that I am, none of their templates really fit me. Instead of using one of their templates, I studied one to see what changes they made and where. From there it was "easy". Now I'm off to create a new heading using Paint, Picasa, and any other free program I can use. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mathias and the New Trick

On Monday, Mathias had his 6 month check-up. He weighed in at 19 lbs even, 29 inches long, and is a very healthy little boy. But the best (worst?) part happened after we got home.

Here he is this morning, after having a little time to practice his new trick.

My goodness, these kids grow up too fast!

Oh, and Anna got her first haircut on Monday. Granted, it was only a little trim of the bangs so her hair wouldn't be in her eyes, but it is the first time her hair has been cut in her whole 2 and a half years of life. I'll post a picture when I get a good one.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Little Nurse Maid

I've always wondered what Anna thought of how I feed Mathias. Sure, she ate the same way at that age, but like she's going to remember that! And for the longest time she would try to have her doll drink from her sippy cup. In nursery at church she rushes for the doll bin and collects all the dolls and all the bottles, and feeds them. I really don't know where she figured that one out since Mathias has only used a bottle once in his short 6 months of life.

Yesterday, we had a break through. My breastpump was lying out on the counter drying and Anna pointed to it and said "I need to punk." What? "I need to punk, Mommy. I have lots of milk."

Today was even better. I had just finished nursing Mathias and changing his diaper and came out to the living room to see this:


If you notice, she had to nurse on both sides (because, she told me, she had a lot of milk) and very properly burped the baby when she was done. I tell you, just seeing her gave me warm fuzzies.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Musings of an Exhausted Mother: On my Way

Kids just don't get it. Honestly, what is so hard to understand about the fact that mom is a much better mother if she gets some sleep. Sleeping through the night = happiness all around. Waking up every couple of hours = unhappiness all around.

You would think that this formula for happiness would be self evident, but apparently it is not to most children under the age of three.

In any case, this is just temporary. I've made so secret of the fact that basically I'm on my way to Australia.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Boris Chronicles: Bread, Bread Everywhere

Sorry if you are completely bored by the constant stream of bread reports, but I remain unapologetic. I love making bread and have learned so much about myself as I have discovered this.

Back to Boris. Last week I taught a group from church about sourdough. Now, I don't consider myself an expert in sourdough, but I am in the process of gaining a lot of experience with it.

In any case, I spent three days preparing and baking bread. I must say I am very pleased with how Boris performed. Not only did each of the breads I made with him have a nice tangy flavor, but the breads themselves turned out nice. Oven spring is something I usually have issues with, but not this time!


Clockwise from top left: Sandwich Rye, Pain au Levain, Pain au Levain, Sandwich rye bursting at the seams, and 100% Whole Wheat Pain au Levain.

There is so much bread in my freezer, I'm not quite sure how to get rid of it all. But seeing all that lovely bread just made me feel so good. Vive le pain!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hungry Little Monster

Mathias has been eyeing our plates. Well, more than eyeing. He'll grab them, grab our arms as we try to ferry food to our mouths, and do what ever it takes to get some food for himself.

Once, he was successful (Thanks to Hubby). (He is eating some boiled potato.)

And then there is this. **WARNING** The following video contains gratuitous face sucking.

Ah, my little boy is so cute!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

They're getting smarter

I just got a call from a charity telemarketer (somehow they manage to get past the National Do Not Call list) that I found very interesting. There was a young man talking about veterans and how we should support them. In the background I could hear the characteristic hum of many voices supposedly making the same type of call. I would have been completely taken in, except I heard the magic words "the purpose of this recorded message...". I should have just hung up then, but it still sounded like a real person and I just couldn't do it.

A friend of mine used to work at a customer support call center and she told me that all she did was listen to what the response was from the caller and then select the recorded message that corresponded. All well in good for customer support (well, not really), but to use that technology to irritate poor stay-at-home moms by trying to extract money from our already tight budgets? What is the world coming to?

At least I felt better hanging up after I said "NO!". Really, people...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Goodbye, Old Friend

Today I lost a good friend, a friend that was with me throughout college, that strengthened me in times of sorrow, that helped me deal with the stresses of life and school, that taught me to dance in the face of challenge. Goodbye, dear Panasonic SA-AK75.


Oh, Panasonic, you were more than just a stereo to me. You were my graduation present to me (I'm so happy!). I paid for you with my own hard earned money.

I carried you lovingly to my first year of college where you happily adorned my dorm room, bringing joy into the stressful atmosphere of college life. Through you, and Bridget, I was introduced to Paper Moon and Beautiful South. With you, we jammed to Mr Wendel, Bare Naked Ladies, The Police, and many others. You woke us up with the "wake-up music", though I forget what cd we used for that purpose.

After that first year, the only time I was apart from you was during my 18 month mission for the LDS church in France. While I knew you were in the careful care of my sister, I was so happy to be reunited with you. You observed my relationship with Hubby grow and eventually moved in with us when we got married.

From there you moved to Seattle with us and help alleviate the days, weeks, and months of unemployed boredom. You played my favorite tunes as well as audio recordings of books. You graced our living space with elegance and music. You even put up with little fingers pushing your buttons, especially when those little fingers inadvertently fixed small wiring issues.

Panasonic, eventually your age began to show. Your buttons became rheumatic, your system erratic. Still, I loved you. You patiently put up with Signing Time, Veggietales, and Sesame Street music. You did everything we asked you to do without complaint. But the time came for us to part.

Today you were picked up by your new family. To be honest, I tried to sell you, but your worth is beyond price and you were given away to a family that needs you much more than mine needs you. (Thanks Craig's List.) We will miss you so much. No, an ipod and laptop will never replace your magnificent speakers. We will think of you often, especially anytime I hear "Sweet dreams 'til sunbeams find you...". Thank you for all you have done for me and my family.
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Friday, March 13, 2009

Families: Isn't it about...

So, I found a ad the LDS church has put out, thanks to Delirious, that had me in tears. No, not because it is mushy or over-the-top heartwarming, but because I was laughing so hard. That, and it does make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But then it wouldn't be an ad for the church if it wasn't.

I'm not sure what I think about the "violence" in the ad, but I think they did a great job with it anyway.

Monday, March 9, 2009

No Cow Chow

Let's start this out by saying that I am not a vegetarian. I have nothing against vegetarians, I just like to eat meat. ("Mmmmm...this dead cow tastes good": A direct quote from an Elementary school assembly.)

However, I am trying to include more vegetarian meals in our diet to cut down on our consumption of meat. So far, I have found a few recipes that delight our tastebuds, satiate our stomachs, and are full of healthy vegies. But I need more!!! And to prime the pump, here are some of my favorites:

Vegetable Quesadillas
Roasted Vegetable Curry
Navajo Stew

So, do any of you have any great vegetarian recipes? If so, please provide a link in your comment (if it is online). Thanks!

Friday, March 6, 2009

I'm geeking out about it!

In the tradition of my sister, what movie is the title paraphrased from?

So, if it had not already been established, it is now completely proven: I am a geek. I've always know that, but there have been times when I tried to deny it.

And what brings this up now? Well, this week I had two wonderful things delivered to my door: a laptop and a wireless router. Oh, I am giddy! I love tech toys!

Why did I want them in the first place? As Mathias has gotten older, I've noticed that I have been unable to do many of the things that I normally did on the computer, mostly because he still sleeps in our room and things that I would normally do during his naps are now no longer possible. Work went undone, blogs were not commented on, emails went unanswered. But no longer. Friends and family, ye be warned! (So, what movie is the last part of the sentence from?)

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Boris Chronicles: Rye Not?

***Please excuse the terrible pun in the title. I blame genetics (Thanks, Dad).***

It's been a while since I gave an update on Boris. So far, he has been doing quite well. While he took a little time to really get going, but he has made some lovely bread so far. In particular, he made some fabulous Pain au Levain, a french style sourdough that I tried for the bread testing.

One of the main reasons I wanted to start a wild yeast starter was for rye bread. According to Peter Reinhart, rye needs high acidity to keep its enzymes from compromising the texture of the bread, and a wild yeast starter should do the trick. I don't know if Boris is sour enough, but I tried rye bread this past weekend and the bread turned out just fine. Here is the proof (another bad bread pun) from start to finish:

Ready to mix.

Before proofing (raising).


After proofing.


In the oven, a little crowded on my pizza stone.


Cooling, a little dark because I left the temp too high for too long.

Ready to eat, full of whole wheaty/rye-y goodness.

The bread turned out a little thin, but looking at the picture in the book reassured me that the bread was just as it should be. Thank you, Boris!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Thank you, Mrs Gaskell

It all began in September when my Mother-in-law came up here to watch Anna while Hubby and I went to the hospital. Since my Father-in-law finds great joy and purchasing anything in the form of a DVD, she came loaded with videos to watch during the down time, ie when Anna was asleep. Among those videos was Cranford. Now, I must admit, I was rather hesitant to watch it, as my MIL happens to be very fond of Hallmark movies, which I am not. However, I did end up watching it after she had left and just loved it.

Fastforward to Presidents' Day weekend when we finally got to celebrate Christmas with Oma and Opa. Sitting on top of the entertainment center, where most of the new DVD acquisitions end up, were two more movies that caught my eye: Wives and Daughters and North and South, two more adaptations of books by Elizabeth Gaskell. I quickly grabbed them to take home, which I have discovered to be a very good choice.

While I still think I like Cranford best, with Wives and Daughters a close second, both of the movies were very good. If you don't mind a spoiler, Wives and Daughters has one of the best proposal scenes I've seen in a long while. I would watch from the beginning of the clip as it provides some explination for why they do what they do, but the proposal starts at 4:30.

When I was still in school, I remember watching just a portion of Wives and Daughters on TV while at my cousins' home and wanting to see the rest. How exciting it was to actually find it again and be justified in my desire to see it!

North and South was also very good, but much more political and dreary, definitly a drama. The music was a bit heavy and there were far too many close-ups of people's faces and clips of people just walking. That and Mr. Thornton is just a little too, umm, serious and gruff for my liking. He doesn't smile until the very end of the film. In fact, there isn't much smiling at all, now that I think about it.

Now, I won't compare Elizabeth Gaskell to Jane Austen. I like them both very much, but their styles are very different, at least when their books are made into films. Also, Mrs Gaskell tends to kill of her characters, which can be a little disturbing but in line with what actually happened during that time period. I do plan on getting the books behind these films to see why the movies are so good.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What was I thinking...

This morning when we woke up, we found Anna completely naked in the bathroom trying to get onto the toilet. That in combination with all the other signals she's been giving us must mean that she is ready to be potty trained, right? Oh, I hope that I'm not getting myself in too deep...

Friday, February 6, 2009

White Bread is Evil! (sort of)

Now before you blow me off thinking I'm about to go one a rant about how white bread is causing the decline of civilization, I won't be doing that. I like white bread. I eat white bread. I even let my children eat white bread. So why is white bread evil? BECAUSE IT IS TOO EASY TO MAKE AND TASTES TOO GOOD!

As you may know, I'm obsessed with whole grains and love to make whole grain bread. In fact, other than the test recipes I am doing, I almost never make white bread. Until Anna got diarrhea. She isn't sick, so we are having to battle it with diet rather than meds. That means less fiber, or no whole grains. And since I had very little in the way of white flour baked goods, I made white sandwich bread from the Joy of Cooking. If I say so myself, it turned out perfectly. The texture was incredible: light, fluffy, and perfectly even throughout. So, why can't my whole wheat bread turn out so wonderfully? *Pout, whine*

My beautiful bread, the day after baking:



The one good thing that this has taught me is that I must have improved considerably since I started making bread a few years ago. All that work trying to get my whole wheat bread to turn out has helped me tremendously to know how bread works. That and bread flour is an amazing thing and should be used instead of the ubiquitous all purpose when making bread. It is called bread flour for a reason!


By the way, if any one has any suggestions on how to help a two year old to be "regular", please let me know. So far the "bland food" diet (bananas, applesauce, white bread, etc) hasn't done much. Neither have the probiotics we've been giving her (she's in a no yogurt phase).

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What's Wrong with This Picture?

The other day in our junk mail, we got lovely advertisement for heaters that just had me laughing (or cringing). Can you figure out why? (Yes, the photo is so very Photoshopped, but that's not what had me laughing. If you know anything about woodworking or the Amish, you'll see what I mean.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Go do bread, Mommy

Anna loves glue and today she asked to glue pictures to some paper. With a Burpee catalogue and a glue stick, we were ready to go. But as I tried to help her put glue on the pictures and put them on the paper, she shoos me away and says "Go do bread, Mommy". I think I've been making a little too much bread lately...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Miracle of the Potatoes

Today was a bad day. A really bad day. I knew it was going to be bad when Anna woke us up by coming into our room at 6:15 and my headache from the night before had only gotten worse. I won't go into the details of the day, as they really don't matter. The bad day was entirely inside myself.

There was, however, one miracle. One brief moment where a smile graced my tired features. The miracle of the potatoes.

Knowing that I wasn't going any where today, the effort to get kids into the car being just too much, I needed to come up with something for dinner that didn't require a trip to the store. In a stroke of genius, I thought of shepherd's pie. I had plenty of carrots (I use about 5 times the amount recommended by the recipe), peas (another of my modifications), and some lamb in the freezer. Perfect! I started chopping carrots, thawing meat, and then I reached into the cupboard for the potatoes. I only had three. Normally, I use at least 6 to top my shepherd's pie and I was crushed. Not only could I not find a way to be happy today, but I couldn't even cook dinner for my family.

I tried thinking of anyway to get potatoes. I even tried calling Hubby to see if he could come home early, but the pre-WWII, bunker-like, cell phone reception squashing cement walls of Bagley Hall thwarted me once again. Finally, I decided to just make it with three potatoes. Sure, it wouldn't be as good as the other times I've made it, but it would be food. Then, as I was putting on Anna's shoes so we could run down to the front of the building and cut some rosemary, the miracle happened. For no reason at all, I suddenly remembered that the last time I had gone grocery shopping there had been too much to carry, so I left a new bag of potatoes in the car. Cue angels singing. Sure enough, there they were, in all their potato-y glory.

Thanks to that simple bag of potatoes, I had a smile on my face for at least a half an hour, a record for today. God certainly is mindful of every one of us. I'm glad that he loves me enough to remind me about a forgotten bag of potatoes just so that my day could be that much better.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Robbing the Rich to Feed the Poor

Friday my W2 forms came and I just got this itch to prepare my tax return. Yes, I am crazy, but I love watching my refund in Turbo Tax jump up and up. Friday night was no different, and, when I had finished with what forms I had, a line from Disney's Robin Hood kept running through my mind. I wish I had the software to get just the part I want, but if you go to 1:15, you'll find it.

I'm still giddy from doing taxes and will be at least until our "refund" comes. (Funny they call it a refund when most of what they are giving us we never paid in the first place.) Ah, the blessings of being poor with kids at tax time. And thanks to Mathias for being born last year!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More and More Bread

I'm sure you are all getting tired of my bread stories, but I just can't help it! As I mentioned in my last post, I'm now an official tester for Peter Reinhart's new book, and I'm already loving it.

How did I get so lucky, you may ask? Well, while writing previous posts about Boris, I discovered Reinhart's blog. I believe he mostly uses it to communicate with his testers, which made me rather jealous at first. Then I noticed that we would be opening up the list for new testers this past Sunday. Of course, I stalked his blog until the official word was out and immediately emailed him to ask to be put on the list. It was a good thing I did, because he had so many responses that he ended up closing the list early, after less than 24 hours rather than a week. I must say, Peter Reinhart (I'll just call him Peter from now on. That's how he signs his emails.) is a very personable guy. I got a reply to my email only an hour after I sent mine, and it wasn't a form letter!

Last night I tried the first recipe, a basic French bread. (While I probably shouldn't give out the recipes, I do plan on showing pictures, especially whenever Boris is involved in the bread making process.) Can I say wow!?! Not only was the bread so easy to mix up, it made the most beautiful loaf of French bread I have ever made, complete with crispy, cracked crust.

Of course, Hubby, Anna and I devoured the bread, which tasted as good as it looked, even though the crust did get a little over done. I don't think I've had such good bread since I came home from France.

Now, if anyone wants to try the bread, there is a super easy solution to that. Ask us over for dinner! (And ask us to bring bread.) He, he, he.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Boris Chronicles: First Steps

It has been a few days, but I did finally take my wild yeast starter on a test run and was moderately sucessful. The start, which has been named Boris (Thanks Bridget!), did very well and grew beyond my humble expectations. I don't think I've ever smelled a sourdough start that sour.

The big test came on Tuesday, when I made two different types of bread using the start. Both recipes came from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads. The first was the "master formula" or 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich bread (p 78 or p 95; yes, it is in there twice) and the second was Multigrain Struan (p 102). I actually made two loaves of the multigrain because I made a no-salt loaf for a friend. In addition to trying new recipes, and testing Boris, I also tried out some new functions on my camera. Please forgive my lack of photo skills.

The no-salt multigrain bread proofing in the bowl. According to Reinhart, having the flaxseeds soak overnight means that you can put them in whole rather than using them ground and still get all the nutritional benefits.


Proofing in loaf form.


Baking in the oven. Sorry the picture is fuzzy. I was trying to take it quickly so the heat wouldn't escape too much.


A beautifully baked %100 whole wheat loaf. I did mean to get a picture of all three loaves, but why show the mistakes? (They all turned out well enough, but one loaf did raise to long and collapsed a bit when baking)


I will have many, many opportunities to use Boris, especially since I just volunteered to be an official tester for Peter Reinhart's next bread book. Yes, I am a geek, but I'll have my name in the book if all goes well!

Thanks again for all of your name suggestions. It was certainly hard to choose, but Boris just seemed to fit. Hubby suggested that it was the Russian version of Bob, which is the name he gives to everything. (Bob was promptly vetod when he suggested it. There are just too many Bobs in the house right now.)