Wednesday, August 29, 2007

the future in my present

Havoc got a CD game in his kiddie meal at Chick Fil A. leap Learning or Learning Leap... something.. It's purported to be educational but all i see it teaching is how to use a mouse properly. And that is fine with me. Work on those motor skills and hand eye coordination. There are some drawing type things and a game kind of like Super Mario where you have to climb around & find things & you get splatted with paint if you aren't careful, plus 2-3 others. You get points for things and exchange the points for parts to build a carnival. So we finally got a working power cord for the 8 year old laptop we got from my parents and I was able to set the game up for him (Because I am *not* sharing my computer). he plays the painting thing for a while and then switches to the Mario type game... 45 minutes later I call him for dinner and I hear "I'm in the middle of my game now Mom!" And suddenly the future opened up before me. I have 14 more years of this response to look forward to. So I went into the living room and told him that when dinner is ready you save your place, turn off the game and come to dinner. Then I guided him through doing that. maybe if I am on top of it now it won't be a problem down the road.

at least that is what I am telling myself

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

school started

Havoc went back on Thursday and apart from initial shyness with the teacher, he had no problems with it. Now on his 3rd day of school he goes in, puts his snack in the bin and starts playing.
Mayhem started today. He's been very up and down about the whole idea. He has periods of "not go to school, mama. not wanna!" and then after talking to him for a bit, out of the blue he'll say "ok, I go to school." So this monring started off with "not going to school". By the time we got there an hour later he'd decided he would go to school. I took him in the class room, the teacher showed him the different play areas. He went over to the rice digging bin. She gave me the paperwork & I turned to where Mayhem was and said "Sweety it's time for mommy to go now" he looks up from the bin absently and says "Ok, see ya later." I did get a hug & kiss out of him but he was so blase about it after the drama. Heck it took Havoc more than a week to reach that point. However the thing with Havoc is - this is just a single experience. Havoc could see the whole 'go to school every day, and on going experience' thing. Havoc has gone to school *today*. It's entirely possible he would decide that means he has now done with it. we'll see how it goes.

What am I supposed to do with myself?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

went for a picnic

DS1 wanted to go on a picnic yesterday. He wanted to go to the park, ride his bike & then have a picnic. So we decided to go early and have a late snack picnic. we left the house at 10:30am He rode his bike, they threw rocks in the lake & climbed on the equipment. In between we spread out the picnic blanket and had crackers & juice and at one point DS1 and I got stuck in the ladies bathroom and I had to kick the door out. I had though the deadbolt wouldn't open completely but after I kicked it open I think the metal had expanded and the door itself was just stuck. DH and DS2 are no where nearby & can't hear me kicking & pounding on the door. And if it is actually locked I have no idea who'd we call about. While I am considering the situation I am imaging the call DH would have to make to 911 "Hi. My wife & son are locked in the ladies room at the lake park." It's not like there is a phone number anywhere and I'm guessing the county Parks & Rec are probably closed on Saturday. But I did manage to kick it open.

The park was our only plan when we left the house. But then DH & I decided we wanted lunch & as long as we were there I wanted to swing by Lowes & price outdoor storage. So we drove into town. Lunch took forever as the place just reopened & are still dealing with staffing issues. Then there was a long wander at Lowes and some wishful looking at washers & dryers. Lowes didn't have the right size pipe insulation I wanted (to protect the kids from the sharp edges of the woodstove we never light) so we went to Wal Mart. I forget what we then decided we needed that sent us to Target, by then it is past 3:30 and we were in Target for almost an hour. The boys got new shoes. DS2 has outgrown his and DS1s pair, while new, is both lace up and Pirates of the Caribbean themed. He is showing no progress at tying which makes them a PITA for me. Also his school has restrictions on stuff on clothing - no cartoon characters, no Harry Potter or wizard/magic themed stuff (yeah, pagan parents send their kids to Christian schools) . Pirates doesn't actually fit in those restrictions (which puts the school in the odd position of banning Care Bears but allowing Jack Sparrow) but I thought it might be better to just get a pair of plain velcroed shoes.

While in Target DS2 announces he wants to go to Chili's for pizza for dinner. DH & I have no better suggestion. But Chilis is a cross the street and it is only 4pm. We live almost a half hour away, so going home & coming back later is a waste of time. To kill time we went to Pet Smart, next door to Target and looked at the fish, birds, hamsters and cats. Then to Office Depot to price laptop power supplies ($70!) and I got some new earphones for my Zen. Finally it was 5pm and we drove over to Chili's. DS2 ate 2 slices of his pizza and promptly fell asleep in the booth and remained asleep until we woke him up at 6:30 when we got home.

Today DH is going back with the boys to get the storage shed we found at Lowes (but couldn't fit in my car) and possibly this side table that goes with our outdoor picnic table. They only had the floor model left and it might have been sold because it was marked way down. It too would not fit in my car.

I've got a meeting from 11-3 and then have to leave for bunco at 6:30, so that'll be 2 days with no real chance to scrap.

Monday, August 13, 2007

My Favorite Muffins

Finally something baked came out right! Possibly because I used the bread flour from the fridge instead of the regular flour in the bin on the counter.  I have over soft bananas so it was time for Banana Yogurt muffins.  I love this muffin recipe.  It's delicious! My only problem with it is I always end up needing 1.5 bananas & what do you do with half a mushy banana? I made a smoothie out of it but that isn't always an option.

This makes 12 muffins

Preheat your oven to 375 and set paper liners into 12 muffin cups.

Combine these ingredients:

1 2/3c flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

Then cut in,using 2 forks or a pastry blender until crumbly:

1/2c soft butter

Then stir in:

2/3c bran (I prefer oat, but wheat works too)

1/2c mini chocolate chips

In a larger bowl mix together:

1 egg

2/3c well mashed bananas

1/2c yogurt plain (vanilla is good too)

1/2c brown sugar

1 tblsp molassas

Then add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended, don't overmix.

Scoop batter into the paper line muffin tins. Bake about 25 minutes.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

the week that was

Oh my god it has been hot! HOT HOT HOT and humid as all hell. Thursday here was declared the hottest place in the nation and that didn't take the humidity into account.

Fortunately the A/C problem in my car was a simple case of neglect & not actual damage. it just needed fluids. so I have A/C there again. I suspect the problem with the house A/C is somewhat more significant. The filter is clean, which is the main neglect issue. I can see no place to pour any fluids. But the monitor has flashed 'trouble' twice this week and it has stopped blowing cold air, just the fan works. First time I took out the filter, hosed it off, let it dry, replaced it and flipped the breaker off & on (what I'd been told to do by the installers). It came back on worked fine for about 48 hours & then 'trouble' again. Flipped the breaker again & it's been working for almost 3 days now. I think there is a problem with the thermostat. I've long thought that. I have it set to 78 and I am FREEZING! I don't think I should be freezing at 78. So now I have it at 80. That seems to be the humidity break point. At 81 it's a bearable temp but the humidity is too high & it;s clammy. But I really think it is about 75 in here. I have the same problem in the winter. I should not be cold at 72, but if it is actually 68 that would make sense. but you can't just go buy a new thermostat for this 'water furnace' that we have. You have to get a special one & it's the same kind & no money back guarantee if you have the same problem.

I'm listening to a book called A Mortal Bane which is a murder mystery set in 1100's England, during King Stephen's reign. The main detective is a whore. And the word whore appears quite frequently as a result, not so much as an invective as a statement of fact "Yes I am the Whoremistress at the Old Priory Guesthouse." "Well, we can't accept just the word of a whore". Used casually like the word prostitute. I listen to it in the car, so every 5 minutes or so the boys get to hear it too. So far they don't seem to have noticed. I think because it is not said with any special emphasis, they don't realize it has any significance. Like embroidery, tunic, priest and bishop, it's just a word for something they don't know & can't visualize & doesn't seem particularly important.

I had a MOPS newsletter meeting. I'm doing the recipe section again. assuming I stay out the year. It's like when I joined a sorority. I joined a newly forming chapter. We were girls who were in a sorority. After about 3 years we starting getting members who were sorority girls. When I joined MOPS they were moms, who happened to be Christians. Now they mostly seem to be Christians who happen to be moms. And I am not really loving the change in emphasis. They have a theme I can get behind, cocooning, focusing on making your home a sanctuary. I'm all about that. My personal beliefs are all about that. So I think I can work well with this. but 3 of our group leaders are the sort who, if you found a dollar on the street would quote you a bible verse about the blessings of the Lord. That's fine, but it's just a bit much for me on a constant basis and our groups are the basis of our playdates. Plus I think given Drake's school schedule I will be constantly arriving 5 minutes late and having to leave 10 minutes early from meetings and that is disruptive. I'm going to the first meeting, I'll see how the timing works, get a feel for who is in my group & see how it goes. The timing thing will be my biggest issue I think. even if they don't mind me being a few minutes late, I *hate* being late. It causes me all sorts of stress to know I am late. Bunco has gone secular, so it doesn't matter there if I am in MOPS or not.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I'm worn out

It's hot & humid. I've been working a lot the past week (and will be for a few more). So the boys are desperate for attention & behave badly constantly. It's like they forgot how to hear. I have to grab them and shout to get their attention. And DH worked late 3 times this week, plus had to leave this morning at 5am to be some place & won't be back until noonish. DS1 came in our room at 6:30 and spent 15 minutes just sobbing that Daddy is supposed to be home today & he wants his Daddy. <sigh> I know a lot of it is the heat. I spent a couple hours yesterday afternoon with some friends & their kids & their kids have forgotten how to hear too. By the end of the play date we were 3 women shouting "I said STOP THAT!" over and over. But I do feel better knowing that they are going through the same thing & it isn't just my own bad parenting at play here. We;re getting a sitter tomorrow and going out to dinner.

making yogurt

When I tell people I make my own bread & yogurt I get all sorts of responses, mostly involving the time & effort. Honestly, if either took much time or effort, I wouldn't do them. Bread needs 5-10 minutes of actual effort on my part, most of of the time involved in making bread is spent waiting around - for the mixer to knead it, for it rise, and rise again and to bake and to cool. But you can do other things, even leave the house, while most of that is going on.

Yogurt is the same way, but needs even less effort. Get a quart size glass mason jar, wide mouths are best. Fill it most of the way up with milk (not skim), microwave it for 6-7 minutes until it reaches 180-185 degrees. Stick it in the fridge for about a half hour (check at 20 minutes until you know for sure) until it cools to between 110-115 degrees, stirring occasionally.  You can also leave it on the counter for 45-60 minutes.  Add to it a quarter cup powdered milk, 2 tablespoons of yogurt from your last batch, or that you bought and a good squeeze of honey.  Stir it gently together.  Wrap the jar in a bunch of kitchen or hand towels and put in a 6 pack sized insulated tote or small cooler.  Fill the corners & crevices with towels/washcloths as well.  Wait about 8 hours (at least 6 hours for thinner, up to 10 for thicker).  Unwrap the jar & put it in the fridge, wait 8 more hours. Open and enjoy your yogurt. Seriously. The biggest problem you will have with this is finding enough small towels.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bad, bad baking

I've had a run of bad luck with baking lately. My second to last loaf of sandwich bread did not go over too well with the demons.  I have to tread a careful edge on the whole wheat to white flour percentage with them. I thought I had found a good balance but then I tried with this loaf to add some oat bran to it. Apparently it added a barely noticeable density to the bread, which was just too much for them.  Their basis for comparison is Wonder bread, which admittedly I love too, so I know I am fighting an uphill battle on the texture front.   And I must admit, peanut butter on a slice of dense wheat bread is like eating spackle in my opinion (which i have not voiced to the demons, they arrived a similar conclusion completely on their own).  So I decided to make a different loaf of bread, a 'fluffy sandwich loaf' it claimed and it used a similar proportion of wheat to white that had been working ok for me.  This loaf had 3 rising periods, which is a pain if you are not around all day to check on it and despite that it turned out like a brick.  With DS2 repeatedly begging for 'san-ich, san-ich Mama!' I bought a loaf of Wonder bread. 

Then yesterday I decided to make a cake. I had some yogurt that I needed to use in the next day or so and a recipe for yogurt cake I wanted to try out.  I baked it the initial 40 minutes but it was underdone so I baked it a bit longer & the toothpick came out clean (I've been having that issue with my oven with everything lately.  I need to get a new oven thermometer, the last one got fried when DH ran the the 'cleaning' cycle) It smelled good and looked good.  It cooled & I iced it. Dessert time came around & I started to cut it.  I have never had to SAW slices off of a cake before but I knew when my steak knife was having issues sliding through it there was a problem.  The outer couple inches of the edges of the cake were overbaked & rock hard.  The inside was underbaked.  I cannot recall the last time I have spit food out, let alone cake, but I couldn't bring myself to finish chewing it.  The icing was ok,  but it was Duncan Hines. 

So I am on a baking hiatus.  The cake problem can possibly be blamed on the high humidity - there was too much flour in the mix. Also I am just hopeless baking sweets.  I can bake bread and make a delicious cobbler, but that is it as far as baking goes for me.   The bread flour is kept in the fridge at a constant humidity, though I suppose possibly the humidity did something during the risings...  or there could be a problem with the overm  I won't know about that for awhile. It's too damn hot to be using the oven now anyway.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Back to Blogging

It's August, the last VBS is over & school starts in 2 weeks, so it is time to get back to the routine.  That means trying to blog regularly again.

It was Lammas wednesday, the festival of the first wheat harvest of the year, the loaf-mass.  Given that i am so fond of baking bread, I naturally planned to make a loaf for the occasion & had considered a few of my favorites.  By morning I had decided that family dynamics required pizza for dinner so I would make pizza dough.  Well, the morning went by.  I took DS1 to VBS, did laundry, I did some homework, I read to DS2, & then it was time to pick DS1 up and no dough had been started.  I knew I wouldn't get home in time to start some for dinner so I decided to buy some, even if it meant going into the crappy Food Lion (I like most Food Lions, it's just this one that sucks).  As usual the Food Lion lived up to my expectations - no frozen dough, no premade crusts, not even Chef Boyardee Pizza in a box. I ended up buying crescent rolls, generic ones because they were out of Pillsbury, and using them.  I should have just made a biscuit crust but that didn't occur to me until after dinner.  So for Lammas we had 'bread' about as far removed from fresh ground wheat as you can possibly get.  My sabbat intentions always fall through.  However, last Sunday I prepared a feast for a dozen people that included hot flat bread grilled by me on open fire (ok it was a gas grill, but there was actual fire & I have the scorched arm hair to prove it).  everyone said the meal was delicious & satisfying & this sunday I am making cheese bread for our coven's Lammas feast.  I think that covers me.  I may not have celebrated on the exact day, but I did and will be celebrating anyway.