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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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7 Quick Takes

So. It would appear as though I have a blog? And perhaps I should be writing things from time to time? In the interest of me having no cohesive, thought-provoking topic to share with you today, I will now throw 7 completely unrelated pieces of my week at you.

1. I turned 28! Uh-w00-hoo. So because of the fact that I’m off dairy while breastfeeding the 7-month-old, I made my own cake. I KNOW. (Read: control freak.) It was easily the ugliest cake I have ever made. Since I only had to impress myself, I just slapped the icing on. It ended up looking like a mixed-up circus tent carousel fun house clown hat. Seriously.

2. I’m going to see RENT tonight! Despite years upon years of incessant fan-girling, this will be my first time seeing it. Am dork.

3. Ian sent me a link to The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks. Then I laughed and laughed and laughed. It is pretty much Cake Wrecks for grammar geeks. Any other apostrophe-comma-colon abuse blogs out there I should be following?

4. Have you guys seen Yes Man? Am I alone in thinking that was a horrible horrible nonsense movie? Even Zooey Deschanel (read: GIRL CRUSH) couldn’t save it. The whole part with the neighbor and the bookshelves and the false teeth? You might have to ask my husband, but I’m fairly certain I YELLED OUT LOUD at the TV. Try as I might, I just could not force any reasonable suspension of the rampant disbelief.

5. We leave for our Orlando trip in less than a week. Should I have started packing by now? I feel like I should have started packing. Or maybe doing laundry? Or making a packing list? (Or just CALMING DOWN in general. Possibly.)

6. Taking a B-Complex vitamin every day is seriously saving my life. I have been on edge and fighting anxiety for the last couple of months. I started back on the B-vitamins this week, and I can’t even tell you what a difference it has made. If you’re really prone to stress (or get bad PMS) I can’t recommend it enough. I’m not Disney princess prancing around or anything, but I’m also not biting people anymore.

7. For each of my pregnancies, I got a comemorative freckle on my left hand. V loves to point at them and say, “This one is mine! And that one is baby sister’s!” Did any of you mamas get new freckles or moles when you were pregnant?

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I live in FL, and I have three pairs of gloves

So as I’ve been going on and on about on Twitter all afternoon, I’m in the throes of a purging fit. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t stand clutter. It makes me claustrophobic. This was easy enough to avoid before I had children. (Ah, the good old days, when I didn’t have Lego imprints in my foot or sippy cups in every room of my house.) It goes without saying that a bit of clutter is an insanely small price to pay for the gift of my daughters, but I’m an idealist. And so I strive to overcome the clutter in spite of the odds and piles of cloth diapers stacked against me.

When we found out I was pregnant, we were living in a one bedroom apartment. Teeny tiny. Impossibly small, with closets where all the shelves were trapezoidal. Pantry, linen closet — ALL of it, trapezoids. There was no room for anything. So when we decided to buy a house, we were really used to living in a geometrically logistical nightmare. As you can imagine, a house with typical closets looked like PARADISE. The house we settled on didn’t have a garage — initially one of our main requirements — but look at all those closets! Closets everywhere. Did you see over there, honey? ANOTHER CLOSET.

All I can say is, I’m pretty sure the night we closed on the house, someone came in and swapped out All! The! Closets! with … well, less closets. The lack of garage turned out to be a much bigger deal than I could have imagined.

So I purge. And I donate things. I throw things away. I beg my husband to throw things away. I beg my family to stop giving the girls so much stuff. I wish I knew why stuff was such a burden to me. Why it weighs me down and keeps me up at night. My fear of stuff paralyzes my ability to purchase any sort of home decor. I don’t like to buy knickknacks or vases or art for the walls or anything like that. Because it can pile up. It can overwhelm you. And so I live with empty walls instead.

All of this is a complete knee-jerk reaction to growing up in my parents’ house. My mom is, for lack of a kinder, gentler term, a bit of a pack rat. She’s nowhere near the people you see on the news with egg cartons stacked to the ceiling and cats in their hair, but she had very little growing up.¬† So her hoarding is as much a reaction to her childhood as my purging is to mine. Being surrounded by things, having trinkets from all places she’s visited … these things make her happy. But the house! My dad has always joked that my mom can’t leave any horizontal surface uncluttered. My mom also gets stressed out by stuff, but her reaction is the opposite of mine: where I wish for less stuff, she wishes for more space. (Though more space couldn’t hurt. HEAR THAT CLOSET THIEVES?)

If I’m being fair though, I should point out that I do have my hoarding tendencies. Those of the Just In Case variety. I can’t throw away my sweaters, what if we move back somewhere colder? And the boxes for all our cookware/electronics/toys! If something breaks, WE WILL NEED THOSE BOXES. It’s also my paranoia seeping in. If I throw it away, I WILL need it.

So what about you guys? Are you hoarders or purgers or something beautifully zen in between? (If you marked ‘c’, you’ll need to come see me after class. Because, dude. My hero.)

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Because if I blog it, it can’t happen

So, we’re planning this trip. We’ve been planning it off and on all year. It’s not a huge trip, just a couple of nights in Orlando (we’re <2 hours away). Back during the Super Bowl there was some sort of contest with the promo for Heroes and if you clicked some thing or another you’d win a 7-day 2-park pass to Universal Orlando. And I actually won! (They awarded THOUSANDS of these things. I assure you my luck normally isn’t that good.) And then, because the slackers who lived here before us have never redirected their mail, we got a different kind of free Universal Orlando pass. Good for either the person named OR a person living at that address. Finally this daily annoyance pays off.

This requires some planning, what with a 2-year-old and a 7-month-old, but we finally settled on dates. And settling on dates means booking a hotel. Except for ONE THING. And here, Internet, is where I show you what a crazy person I am.

I am utterly convinced that once we get that hotel room booked, we will all fall ill with some horrible, debilitating stomach bug. I, uh, have no reason for this. My husband thinks I’m a nutcake. Honestly, I don’t disagree.

Anyone else have ridiculous paranoia about silly things?

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