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This way you have to make it yourself if you want to see how awesome it is

OH hey guys! Things have been a little crazy lately. Because it’s life and life is crazy and all that. We’re probably listing the house soon! Matt got put in charge of a big proposal at work! Leo is crawling and trying to pull up! The girls are sort of becoming friends! A LOT HAS BEEN HAPPENING.

So things start happening, and I immediately go to the kitchen. Because, you know, we keep the food there, and I like the food. The twelve foods I can eat, anyway. And sadly not one of those foods is BREAD FROM STORE. All the processed bread has who knows what as far as corn ingredients go (dextrose is my mortal enemy!) and all the fancy bakery breads were baked ON CORN MEAL for its non-stick properties, which left me breadless. (Also in what shall heretofore be known as my Breadless Size, a size I think we can all agree is not worth the lack of bread.) I’d been making everything from scratch but bread? Really? I conquered my fear of yeast for things like pizza dough and homemade soft pretzels and dinner rolls and even HOT DOG BUNS (because when you eat processed maybe-meat-bits, you really don’t want to put it on STORE BOUGHT BUNS, do you?) but bread recipes always freaked me out.

Then Maureen kept pushing her Magic Bread recipe. (She uses that word a lot, have you noticed that? Magic bread! Magic baby! Magic hair! IT CAN’T ALL BE MAGICAL, MAUREEN.) But, she was right. It was magical. Not QUITE magical enough for (picky little kid plain cheese) sandwiches, but super magical for eating all the livelong day slathered in butter or just by itself. It was basically my bread-making gateway drug. Seriously, go try it! I’LL GIVE YOU THE FIRST CLICK FOR FREE.

Uh, anyway, so I kept looking and I found a good recipe and I started TWEAKING said recipe. My poor family, every single loaf since then (and I’d guess there have been about ten? maybe more?) I would change one tiny thing and be all “HOW IS THIS ONE? IS THIS ONE GOOD? TOO CRUMBLY? TOO DRY?” and then I’d tweak again and they all cried and wished for when life was simple and our bread came in squares from a bag the way it should be. Well except they liked the new bread better, but I’m not sure even THAT was enough to make up for the daily questionnaire tucked into their lunchboxes. (Were the mini-golf pencils too much?)

Anyway, I had grand plans for a fancy step-by-step recipe post, not that I plan on making that a THING just that it would have been good for THIS thing, but instead I’m just posting a link to the original and then my adaptations. Basically I won’t even REVIEW it there because I’ve changed so much, and I hate when people do that. “Oh I loved this! I substituted chocolate for the tomatoes and cookies for the pasta and I think you’ve REALLY got something here! Though I’m rating it only 3 stars because it was more a dessert than a main course, you know? I’ll leave out the garlic next time.”

SHUT UP THAT TOTALLY HAPPENS.

But, seriously, this bread is everything I thought bread made at home could NOT be. It’s got texture just like STORE BREAD. I mean, the slightly denser store bread that comes in the cellophane within the bag, so you know it’s FANCY. My husband says it tastes like sandwiches-from-the-nice-deli bread, but he also chose to spend his life with me, so that opinion comes with a lot of salt grains (and also ETERNAL PATIENCES.)

Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread

(adapted from King Arthur Flour)

  • 1 cup milk*
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 2.5 cups 100% whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup King Arthur white whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar or Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water, if needed

1. Add milk and oil to small saucepan. Scald the mixture. (Basically you want to let it get pretty hot, ALMOST boiling, but not boiling. You can do this in the microwave if you want.) Set aside to cool to 110-115 degrees F.

2. While milk/oil is cooling, add flours, yeast, salt, and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly to combine ingredients.

3. When liquid has cooled, turn on mixer to low and pour in the liquid until it comes together. If the mixture remains too dry, add up to 1/4 cup of lukewarm water to get it mostly stuck together.

4. Switch to the hook attachment and knead on low for 5-6 minutes, until the dough looks smooth. Transfer to an oiled boil and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise about an hour, until puffy. (It doesn’t need to double.)

5. Butter a 9×5 loaf pan. Form dough into a loaf shape. (I am NOT good at this, but trust me, it still looks mostly like a real loaf of bread no matter what you do!) Set the dough in the bread pan and cover with oiled plastic wrap. (I totally take the piece from the rising bowl and smear the extra oil from the bowl on it because LAZY) Preheat the oven to 350F. Leave dough to rise until the middle of the loaf is about an inch or so above the rim of the pan. This usually takes about 20-30 minutes for me, but I live in Florida and my house is twelve hundred degrees.

6. Remove plastic wrap and bake in the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes. Check at the halfway point for overbrowning and tent with aluminum¬† foil if necessary. It’s done when the internal temperature is 190F.

7. Turn out on a wire rack and immediately rub a stick of butter over the top crust. (The sides and bottom, too, if you’re feeling frisky. Or just like buttery crust.) This leaves the crust soft, like store bread. Allow to cool before slicing! I never do, but I hear you should!

And there you have it! The best way I know of to grow right out of your Breadless Size.

*UPDATE*

I have since made the bread with water in place of the milk. If you do that, there is no need to scald anything, you just need warm water right from the tap. WAY LESS WORK. This made a much lighter, fluffier loaf, and I think I’ll be sticking with it in the future.

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The part that comes after the bad part is really the worst part

First things first. CHECK OUT MY RAWKIN’ BANNER. It comes to me courtesy of the gorgeous Mommy Melee. Seriously, I cannot thank her enough. Finally this corner of the internet feels like it’s ALL MINE muahahahahaha. Except the tag line, because she made that up. And the comments, because you guys sort of have free rein there. But these wordy parts here between the snazzy header and kickin’ comments? All mine, baby.

It occurs to me that I have serious problems.

Moving on.

I think the stomach bug is finally behind us. After I wrote on Friday that I wasn’t sure if Vio was actually sick or not, she went ahead and confirmed it by throwing up first thing Saturday morning. And it was double confirmed by my own aching belly that same day. But! We are past the crackers and applesauce and toast and MOAR CRACKERS, so all can return to norma–

Oh, that’s right. We’re in the post-sickness doldrums. The place where nothing goes right. The place where joy implodes and WHINING IS ALL THAT EXISTS.

You guys? Can I come stay with you for a couple of days?

Things that have made Vio cry in the past two days:

  • Roo crawling toward her on the floor. Giggling.
  • Her fridge alphabet toy not saying the word “breakfast” when she put in the letter ‘B’. It … has never said that before.
  • Being told Mommy will get her a snack just as soon as she’s done going to the bathroom. Sorry sweetums, but they don’t make bumGenius in mama’s size.
  • Her blanket and sheet not being perfectly lined up at bed time.
  • An episode of Clifford ending, but not because it was over. Because another was about to start.
  • Her toy phone falling between the bed and the wall, where she couldn’t reach it.
  • Her ball falling behind the rocking chair, where she COULD reach it.

I’m trying really hard to remain patient while her body finds its way back to equilibrium. But I’m not making any promises should a wayward band of gypsies traipse through my backyard.

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Just 4 quick takes, because the baby is eating my flip flop aga– BRB

1. Baby girl is in full-on crawl mode. Her happiness at achieving this skill lasted approximately 6 minutes, as she then realized all these couches and coffee tables have TOPS covered with TOYS and CHOKING HAZARDS. She can’t pull up yet, but I don’t think she’ll be tolerating that for long.

2. I don’t recommend running out of yogurt, string cheese, bananas, turkey cold cuts, and grapes on the same day. Particularly if those are the foods that get your incessantly-hungry-in-the-morning toddler through to naptime. (SEND FUD PLZ.)

3. I don’t want to use the girls’ names here, not because I’m worried about creepy internet stalker people, but because in combination, they’d make this blog instantly findable by my entire family. My family isn’t exactly super-supportive of my internet lovin’, so I can’t imagine they’d take too kindly to this venture. (That being said, I don’t plan on this being a place where I routinely complain about them or badmouth them in any way. I just need my own corner of the world where my mother doesn’t email me all day asking, “What did you mean when you said … ?” [I’m looking at you, FACEBOOK.]) Before the parentheses took over there, the point I was getting at is that I’m trying to decide what to call them. If anyone has suggestions, I’m open to ideas. (I do use their names on Twitter. Probably once I figure out good things to call them on here, I’ll stop doing that.)

4.¬† I’m guest-posting for Maria at Mommy Melee today, while she’s off in Chicago being gorgeous, getting tattooed, and meeting/reuniting with a ton of awesome mamas. I’m entirely unqualified for the task, so click on over and give me some love!

(You can find more quick takes here.)

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Where do you feel it?

I feel it in my arm. My left forearm, underneath. It tickles, like an itch under the skin.

It started years ago. I would lie awake in bed, wishing for something that could never come to be. Not a mere improbability, but a guaranteed impossibility. My blood pressure would rise and each deep breath would wash over me. I hardly noticed it, at first. I would get that tickle in my arm, but I wouldn’t make the connection until much later.

Now when I feel it, I know. It isn’t there for the little things. It isn’t even necessarily there for the big things. But when it’s there, it snaps me to attention. It’s as though whatever it is I’m longing for has lassoed itself to the nerve-endings on that stretch of flesh. It pulls me, keeps me awake in the night. It makes me keep going when I’d rather call it quits.

I’ve Googled. I’ve asked people. No one, nothing, seems to know what I’m talking about. I assumed it was a blood pressure thing, but it doesn’t happen if I’m scared or nervous or hysterically crying. It only happens in the dark of the night when I’m lost in my head and there’s something far off in the distance calling out to me.

Sometimes? I don’t even know what the thing calling out to me is.

I use the word “longing” very pointedly. It’s not an urge or a desire or a want. It’s not a wish or a hope or a dream. It’s persistent and deep. It’s a wound yearning to be healed.

It’s the thing I want most, trapped right there beneath the surface of my skin, in a place I can’t ever reach.

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