Friday, April 30, 2010

Only 35 more to go

At the end of last April we acquired 48 months of car payments. We bought a 2006 Grand Caravan with 24,000 miles on it and I wrote this post about it.

I thought I would update that post with my thoughts after a year of ownership


We had looked at 2008 version in an electric blue first & I liked it more. But I didn’t like it $4000 more. It had the same mileage & I like the radio better. I mostly liked that it was electric blue.

Because there are exactly zero electric blue mini vans in the Wal Mart parking lot at any given time.

But silver?

You can’t swing a cat without hitting a silver mini van in the Wal Mart parking lot.

However it does have electric doors, so I can stand in the general vicinity of several silver mini vans, push the remote & then go to whichever one’s door opens.

***update*** This losing-the-car-in-the-parking-lot thing is pretty much a monthly occurrence. I regularly find myself standing next to a silver minivan, pressing the remote unlock button & wondering if the battery on the remote has died because the door remains locked. It isn’t until I actually look in the van that I realize it isn’t mine. Then I start walking around pressing the rear door button on the remote until it opens & I can finally locate my own minivan

Mayhem loves the electric doors. He pushes the button & then stands in the doorway waiting until the last possible second to leap through the gap, like Indiana Jones.

Assuming Indiana Jones would have anything to do with a mini van.

***update*** Mayhem gave this up during the summer. Now, both boys are so blasé about the auto doors they can’t even be bothered to push the button to close the door after them, leaving the Magic Door Button Fairy (me) to do so

I wanted a car with more space for luggage and thought a third row would be nice for the 3 times a year I need to seat more than 4 people in the car. We looked at a lot of hatchbacks with 3rd row seating & then we got to the 08 Grand Caravan

It has this


Stow & go seating. No need to take out chairs or benches & find somewhere to store them.

And when the seat isn’t collapsed you have a storage bin!

The car has POCKETS! I couldn’t resist the pockets

It gives me the ability to do this


Havoc sits in the second row, Mayhem in the third & I get all this space to climb in and get everyone settled without pulling any muscles reaching over anyone.

The real bonus though is that they CAN’T TOUCH each other.

Sweet Mary & Jesus what an unexpected blessing!!! They can’t grab things away from each other. They can’t push or shove each other.  Drives are so much quieter now.

And! And! The boys decided all on their own that they wanted to sit that way! They do it willingly!

***update*** Seriously, y’all, this is key! The not sitting next to one another thing is so wonderful! Having that seat down makes the van feel so spacious and roomy! Even when Mayhem is alone riding with me, he sits in the back seat. He likes the shelf and pockets next his seat back there. I had to pop that seat up & move Mayhem into it when we bought the new TV and TV stand and OMG! the car felt sooooo crowded! And the boys COULD NOT STOP TOUCHING each other while they were sitting next to one another. I could not get that seat stowed again fast enough.

I may never pop up that other seat again.

It also gives us a place to put the dog crate.

The only drawback is Mayhem is so far back I have to throw snacks to him and hope he catches them.

Bring the water & pemmican! I’m headed for the back of the mini van!

Speaking of the back of the mini van


There is no trip to Sam’s I cannot make.

I won’t have to UPS clothes to FL for our vacation this year. 

DH won’t have to pack the explosives around the children when we buy fireworks in South Carolina.

It even has a roof rack, in case, you know, we want to bring our bed with us.

***update***I have not been to Sams much since I bought the car. With the end of needing diapers and formula and finding fresh chicken in bulk elsewhere, there hasn’t been much need for buying things at Sams. But! I was able to pack everything for our trip to FL and DH was able to buy a bunch of fireworks and all of it fit fine in the back area.  Plus it hauled a bunch of furniture from IKEA and the aforementioned TV and stand.

Then there is the entertainment system.


It doesn’t play 8 tracks, VHS or Blue ray but other than that you are good to go. It has a cassette player, a CD player that also plays mp3s, plus an AUX jack for my mp3 player & Sirius satellite radio. Hell, it may even get AM & FM stereo but where we live there is only the Christian Country station & a static-y NPR station from someplace about 75 miles or so away & I haven’t really tried those out.

It’s overkill in a big way. All I use is the Sirius and the AUX jack. But it makes no sense to have it replaced because I want to get rid of features.

***update*** I still only use the Sirius and the AUX jack & had to get SOMETHING INSTALLED to it so I can listen to my mp3 player while the kids are watching a movie. Somehow in all that media overkill that little feature got forgotten

Oh, and it has a 6 disc DVD changer. 6 DISCS people! That’s like 12 hour of non-stop movie viewing (or at least 12 hours of no arguments about who’s turn it is to pick a movie because that was all decided before we left home & you get what ever is next up in the player) And wireless headsets! We had a dual monitor portable DVD player we strapped to the back of our headrests in the Cruiser. They were connected by assorted cables & there were other wires that plugged into the car and headset wires…wires all over the damn place.

It’s not an option we would ever have chosen ourselves because it just seems like a hassle waiting to break, but I’m delighted to have it. We use it on any trip over 90 minutes long & we take one of those every month just about.

***update***We still think it is a hassle waiting to break but we still love it. It actually gets used less than I predicted. For instance it was last used when we came back from FL at the end of November. But it was like the Holy Grail of travel accessories for that trip. Mayhem has a tendency to switch receiver channels on his headset, thus cutting off the sound, and then wailing & whining about it NOT WORKING STUPID FING! and since we never know if it’s user error or dead battery & the headsets don’t receive in the front seats (behind the video screen), the passenger seat rider has to lean back at an extreme angle in their seat to get their head in front of the movie screen and then play with the buttons to test the headset, or pull over the car, get out, get in the back and then test the headset should there be no passenger available. Not fun. But since movies get watched on maybe 5 occasions all year, not that big a deal & hopefully Mayhem will be able to do his own troubleshooting before too long.

The car currently has 40,622 miles on it, which is sort of low for me but since I am not driving the kids to school & back any more thanks to the wonders of public school buses, I am not driving  250 miles a week.  It has to get a new inspection sticker today & the back brakes are squealing so I know they will need fixed, but I have high hopes that for the first time in about 5 years I am not going to get hit with a bunch of surprise repairs that need done.

Overall I’m liking the mini van.  Still wish it were electric blue though.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordy Wednesday

I found this photo from April 1986 while doing some scanning last week & my sons both asked me what I was doing in the photo & I thought I’d share the story with the world.


In my little boys’ minds I am watering down my juice, just like I always water down theirs. And I must be on a picnic since I am sitting on the ground.

Not quite.

This photo was taken at about 8am on a Friday morning in front of the Sigma Chi fraternity house at West Virginia University. (please keep in mind for the rest of the story that WVU was Playboy’s #1 Party School in the nation for 1985-87. The drinking age at that time was 19.). My sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi had had a ‘Wake Up’ for the Sigma Chis that morning.

We arrived at the frat house about 6:30am bearing donuts and McD’s breakfast muffins, fruit, orange juice, tomato juice and vodka to make screwdrivers and bloody Mary’s. Once everything was set up, we ran screaming through the house, banging on doors and waking everyone in the house. (a couple dozen guys lived in the house). Then we all had breakfast together, with most of us choosing the boozy drinks to get a head start on the day’s Giffin’ (pronounced jif-ing, as in TGIFing, or getting drunk on Fridays) which was a college tradition, though it didn’t usually start until noon on Fridays.

First class of the day is 8 or 8:30 so the party began breaking up just before 8. I am the only person in the photo, but actually I am part of a group of people who were topping up their beverages prior to departing for class. Several of us were headed to Dr Arnett’s ancient history class at 8:30.

Dr Arnett was an awesome teacher. He told the best stories about people, places and events back in the time of the Egyptians & Romans & because he told them like stores they stuck with you, even 25 years later. I had him for several classes & was one of his TAs in grad school. He was also a very tolerant teacher & short of disrupting the whole class let you get away with anything (though DH has a story about a history class he took with Dr A, where during a mid term exam a well known member of the WVU football team stood up and started asking people “What’s the answer to number 2?” and Dr A remained hidden behind his newspaper the entire time). He was also very well travelled and had been to many sites featured in his class lectures. We called him West Virginia Arnett.

This particular Friday we all felt the booze was acceptable because he was presenting a slide show to the class, one fondly known as Toilets of the Ancient World. (I got to see it 4 times in my 7 years at WVU). He hits the salient points of his recent lectures with the photos (actual pots, weapons, house layouts, etc) but there are always photos of the plumbing or other waste disposal systems in use at the time period, along with diagrams of how the water flowed, how pit locations were chosen and where the sponges on sticks were kept. It is one of his most highly entertaining lectures and even better if you are half buzzed at the time.

I had another class that morning, but I can’t recall now what it was, probably English or journalism (my major at the time), possibly geography & probably I skipped it to take a nap so I would be rested for the afternoon’s activities, a pig roast at another frat house (Delta Tau Delta, they aren’t at WVU any longer) and then a party that night at another frat house (Sigma Phi Epsilon, they’re gone too) and then some late night bar hopping in Sunnyside, collapsing at home around 3am & then sleeping until noon Saturday, at which point there would be a trip to the library, some homework done & then plans made for that night’s outings.

A day in the life of a sorority girl in 1986. Not a typical one I admit, but not a unique one either. There was a lot of partying for all of my undergrad years, but the drinking age went up to 21 and new rules were created & by grad school things were starting to be different.

From what I have read in recent years Greek life at WVU has apparently changed a good deal since I was student in the late 1980s.

It’s probably for the best.

Somewhere there are photos of me studying with friends & of me giving presentations to my various journalism classes, me doing my various work study jobs & there are even photos of me dragging my tired, cranky self up High Street to my 7:30am, 5 hour long, French intensive class that met 5 days a week for 6 weeks IN THE SUMMER!

But those stories are not nearly as much fun to tell.

Disclaimer... the vodka featured in this story is an aberration in the alcohol regularly available to college students at that time. Mostly we had beer. I don't like beer, never have. So while I did party my way through 7 years and 2 degrees at WVU, I was more sober than that phrase implies. However, all bets were off on Dollar Shots night at the Dungeon.

Monday, April 26, 2010

10,000th photo

from my D40. Taken Friday at 2pm.

DSC_0001 An out of focus shot of me in the mini van.

The result of my playing with my quick response remote and various auto focus settings.

Had I remembered that I was nearing my 10,000 photo, when the camera counter turns over and starts again, I would have tried to take a more meaningful shot.

Or at least a more in focus shot that didn’t give me a double chin. Something that showed how my skills have progressed

This was the first shot I took with the camera


So apparently I have regressed in my photo skills.

The coffee canister is at least in focus.

I got the D40 on Nov 4, 2008, passing the UPS truck headed toward my house while I was heading out to vote in the presidential election and I stuck to my civic duty and did not do a U turn and chase down the UPS truck as I wanted to do.

Because I’m all politically minded like that & I had a vote I was determined to throw away on people with an I after their names. (I am under no illusions about my life long 3rd party-ness).

But I made up for it later. I have taken 10,000 photos in just under a year & a half. Mostly I blame my 365 projects on that. I tend to be of the ‘take 14 photos and choose the best’ school of thought on good days. When I am trying to learn something new, like diffused lighting sources, it’s more like take 75 photos.  But it’s also the D40’s fault. I had taken 1700 photos by Dec 31, 2008 because taking photos with the D40 is just that easy!

I read where the D40 has about a 100,000 photo lifespan.

Wait…let me get out the calculator…

10,000 photos… 18 months….times 10…divide by 12

…subtract 1.5…(right? or not?)

That’s a 15 year life span at my current rate of photos. So, 13.5 years are left.

I seriously hope so anyway since it’ll take me close to that long to afford a replacement

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Weekly Winners

Some from my 365 Project this week

The boys playing with Daddy’s motorcycle helmet


Ashes sleeping in the blankets


Homemade bread


Some new Lego figures (photo by Mayhem)


I'm 3/4 of the way done with my cross stitch project


My monthly self-portrait.


For more weekly winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 23, 2010

My new favorite appliance

This is my old toaster oven


(this photo is from Sep 08 because I failed to take a ‘before’ photo before I unpacked the new toaster oven.  bad blogger!)

It’s an under mount Black & Decker model & is under one of the kitchen cabinets. We got it in Aug 02, when we remodeled the kitchen. We liked it because it left the counter space open and there isn’t that much counter space in the kitchen to begin with. It was also nice for making fish sticks, small pizzas and garlic bread without having to turn the oven itself on.

Shortly after this photo was taken the baking element stopped working but the toast one was fine. We began a search for a replacement oven.


Unde rmount toaster ovens are hard to come by. They are a fire hazard it seems. They still make them but the model that replaced the one we have was $90! I paid $40 for mine.

Sometimes a cheaper version was spotted by others at Target but by the time I was able to get there, usually a couple days later, they were gone.

Every now and then DH & I would spend time in the small appliance section of Target looking at the regular toaster ovens but we hated to give up the counter space.

That’s where we cool the cookies! Where would we cool the cookies???

Then there was the feature creep problem. We had a small capacity toaster oven that mainly toasted well and could bake up 8 fish sticks at a time.  Who needed more?

But DH felt if we were going to give up the counter space we should GO BIG. Get one that could roast a whole chicken! You all know how I feel about roasting chicken. Get one that is also a convection oven! Hello! I know nothing about cooking in a convection oven, have no way of converting normal baking to convection baking. Sure I could google it, but I don’t NEED it. Mostly I just want toast, with an occasional pizza option.

Then the incident with the cat pee happened and I spent some time looking longingly at new stoves. I want a double oven so I can cook bread and dinner at the same time, or a side dish at a different temp than the main dish.

A big toaster oven probably could do that.

So, while DH and Havoc were off doing scouting things Mayhem and I spend some quality time in the small appliance aisles of Target

No toaster oven has a toast setting you can set & leave alone. This sucks. But once I resign myself to that I started looking at the interior shelving & considering the baking possibilities.  I’d go to the cookware aisle, get a muffin pan and then stick it in the toaster ovens to try them for size. Then I’d go back and get a casserole dish, then a pie pan.

By the time I was done there were no less than 3 Target employees lurking around the aisle pretending to look at things on the shelves. Mayhem asked me why all the Target people were here and I told him in a no nonsense voice that they were afraid we were shoplifting. He thought that was funny and the Target employees all sort of disbursed.

The last thing was what clinched it and was sort of serendipity. I found this


It’s a meatloaf pan. I’ve had one since 1992. It’s two pans, the top has holes so the grease can drip into the bottom pan. The bottom pan can be a loaf pan on it’s own. My bottom pan has rusted & I noticed a couple months ago rust around a couple of the holes on the top pan and have been looking for a replacement ever since. These too are hard to come by.

And the pan did this


And the angels sang Hallelujah!

That’s a perfect fit! I can have meatloaf in the summer! And bake loaves of bread in the summer!

So I bought it


And it makes excellent meatloaf & loaves of white bread & small pizza & fish sticks & biscuits. It keeps things warm. I can broil a small steak in there.

It also toasts well. 

There are only 2 small problems.

1. Some of the bread I make needs a pan of hot water to make steam & there is no room for a pan of hot water & the baking rack. I’ve been experimenting with small foil pans but they don’t hold heat well enough for the water to steam. I’m afraid to put glass or ceramic in there because even though I am pouring boiling water into the heated container I think glass & ceramic would shatter.

2. There is no room for the cookies to cool & I’m not sure what the heck we are going to do about that.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Homemade yogurt

So easy an unorganized ditz could do it.

And I’ll prove it to you.

Step one - get a quart sized mason jar


Step one A – get a step ladder


Step two - which probably should have been step one, find your recipe


Step three - heat a quart of milk in the microwave to 180-185 degrees F in 2 minute increments, stirring each time. This takes about 6-7 minutes in my microwave.

Get distracted by step 4 & fail to photograph step 3

Step four– search for thermometer to check the temp of the yogurt after first 2 minutes

Find only cases and the long missing apple corer


Step 4a – stick yogurt back in the microwave for another 2 minutes while you tear through every drawer in the kitchen until you come up with one of the thermometers.

Step 4b – once yogurt reaches 180 degrees leave it to cool on the counter to 110-115 degrees. This takes about 45 minutes. Do not put the hot glass jar in the fridge!

Trust me.

Step five – gather your other ingredients (probably this should have been step 3 as you will see)

Check the expire date on the ingredients. This is especially important in my kitchen. I haven’t made yogurt since Sept 09 since yogurt is a warm weather thing for me.

Oh look!


Step 5a– Google ‘homemade yogurt recipe’ and compare eleventy billion of them to see just how many require the use of dry milk and whether you can get by without it.

Turns out you can. Dry milk apparently is used as a thickener when using lower fat milk and it adds protein. I’m using 1% milk but I have plans for this yogurt that should get around the thickener issue. I don’t really care about the protein content.

Step 5b – check the yogurt you will use as starter since this is absolutely necessary. I like Greek yogurt because it has more types of active culture. I just bought it 2 days ago, so I’m good on the date.


Step six – once the milk is at 112 degrees or so whisk in 2 tablespoons of yogurt. Whisk well until blended.

Step seven – put the lid on the mason jar and wrap it well in a couple dish towels or some fleece then put it in a warm place. In my kitchen this is the microwave.


Leave it alone for 8-12 hours. The longer it sits the thicker it gets.

You can also wrap a lot of towels around it and put it in a small cooler. I think Alton Brown wraps a heating pad on really low around his. I have a yogurt maker, which is basically an insulated container that gets a bit warm when you plug it in and keeps the yogurt at a constant temp. The mason jar fits in it nicely when wrapped in one towel, but I couldn’t find it in a timely manner this time.

(Step 5c – find yogurt maker)

Step eight – 8 to 12 hours later remove yogurt from warm place, unwrap and stick in the fridge for 2-3 hours to cool (you can drain the whey from the top of the yogurt before putting it in the fridge if you like. I do because I need thick yogurt this time)

Step nine – remove yogurt from fridge and look at it


Open the jar and take out a spoonful


Hey! You made yogurt!!

This yogurt at this thick yet loose consistency is good for smoothies, or eating by the bowl with granola and fruit, or for marinating chicken with Indian spices.

But I have other plans for this yogurt.

It has a different destiny.

It is going to be used in spreads and dips, which require it to be thicker,

Step ten – line a strainer with paper towels and set it over a bowl


Pour the yogurt into the strainer & stick it back in the fridge for 1-2 hours.


This is what happens


The yogurt has lost half it’s volume & is now much thicker


Put it in a pint sized mason jar until needed


About half of this is going to become tszatziki – blending it with grated cucumber and garlic. The rest will appear as a replacement for mayo in chicken salad and mixed into roasted eggplant & garlic for a savory dip and mixed into chocolate peanut butter for a sweet dip (great on apples, strawberries and graham crackers)

So despite missing a major ingredient and doing things out of order I still managed to make yogurt. That is how easy making yogurt really is

You need

1 quart milk, any kind will do but if using 1% or fat free you might want to add a couple tablespoons of cream or the dry milk

2 tablespoons of good plain yogurt with live cultures

1/4 c dry milk, as I have found out, this is nice but not necessary

1.5 tablespoons honey or other sweetener – if you want sweetish yogurt.

Pour the milk into a quart glass mason jar or other non metal container & microwave it on high in 2 minute intervals stirring each time until it reaches 180-185 degrees F. This takes about 6-7 minutes. You can also heat the milk on the stovetop directly in a pan or put the glass jar in a pan of water & heat that on the stove top. Both take longer.

Whisk in the sweetener if using it then set the milk aside to cool to 110-115 degrees F.

Whisk in the yogurt and the dry milk (if using) and mix well.

Wrap in warm towels and put in a warmish place (a small cooler packed with towels works really well for this I am told by friends but I don’t own one) for 8-12 hours. The longer you wait the thicker it gets. If this is your first time making it, check it at 9 hours. If it is not thick enough you can put it back in the warmth for a couple more, but don’t go longer than 12 hours.

Remove from warmish place and put in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

Share and enjoy!

If it seems really thin there are a few things to try in your next batch – use slightly less yogurt, find a warmer place and/or use fattier milk

Monday, April 19, 2010


Today’s post is random because I am tired.

I’ve been fighting the unmedicated insomnia fight since Christmas and for awhile there I was winning. After 3 solid years of Lunesta induced sleep I was off the meds and actually sleeping some, most of the time, by mid-Feb. I filled my last Lunesta prescription on Nov 30 and I still have 2 of those pills left.

I would have had 5 but it’s been a hard 10 days.

Sometime in late Feb the balance tipped and insomnia has been winning over half time time. For awhile there it was various aches & pains keeping me awake & Tylenol PM helped but that soon stopped working. Meditating was never more than 50% successful, neither were the various herbal teas I have tried.

Lately I seem to sleep best from 5am until 9am, with a 45 minute period of wakefulness around 6:45 when I get up to get the kids ready for school. So I’ve been getting about 3 non consecutive hours of sleep lately. I’m a bit cranky as a result.

Then the boys started night waking again from nightmares brought on by … something… maybe that thing on Big Foot on the Travel Channel.

I don’t think Big Foot is scary though and the show wasn’t scary.

Sometimes I believe Big Foot exists and sometimes I think it’s just a legend but even then I sort of hope there is a Big Foot creature out there somewhere. I like that science is wrong sometimes & that some creature has managed to hide from humans all this time.

Did you catch the new Doctor Who? Looks promising! I love Doctor Who, have ever since I first saw Tom Baker as the Doctor on PBS back in the 70s.

Now that we have streaming Netflix on the Wii I get to watch old Tom Baker Dr Who episodes on it during the day.

It’s been sci fi heaven around here lately. We’re re-watching the Babylon 5 series currently, just finishing season 2 now.If you have never seen it, you need to. Best sci fi series ever. It was written to have a 5 year story arc and nearly every episode ties into the overall story. There are maybe 2 episodes in 5 years that don’t. There are no one appearance characters, no throw away lines, no unnecessary dialog points. Everything at some point ties into the full story line. The characters are great, the story is epic. Season 1 is a bit slow but season 2 is like riding a plot rocket.

Speaking of story arcs..I just finished the Betrayal of the Blood Lily, which is the latest book in the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig. It was a good story, set in India for a change, Interesting characters, starring Penelope who is a friend of Henrietta & Charlotte & appeared in a couple of the recent books in the series. She’s packed off to India with her husband who she was forced to wed after being compromised with him in the previous book. She doesn’t love him, barely even seems to like him actually but tries to make the best of things being her flirtatious outgoing self. She ends up getting involved in some political intrigue involving the English, the French & some of the local rulers, as well as with Capt Alex Reid. It does a very good job of giving the feeling of life in Indian at the time (pre Raj) but I think the flower motif is getting a bit forced at this point.

And there was no Blood Lily. There was a Marigold, a Frangipani, a Moonflower and a Gulmohar (an ornamental tree with red/orange flowers). The book was mostly about the Marigold. And isn’t the Blood Lily African, not Indian? So the title makes no sense at all. Betrayal of the Marigold would be better. Though not as dramatic sounding.

Marigolds are not at all dramatic.

Despite the floral inconsistencies it was a good story & if you have read the others it is worth reading this one too. We learn a bit more about Colin’s strange family as well as hearing Penelope’s story. I enjoy the series but it falls under “library only'”. I’m unlikely to read them enough to justify buying them.

Unlike say, the Stephanie Plum series,which I own all of and recently finished rereading for about the 4th time. DH is reading them for the first time now & I must say it is interesting getting a male viewpoint on the whole Stephanie-Morelli-Ranger thing.

I’m going to go attempt some sleep now. Later this week I’ll have highlights of my yogurt making and some praise for my new toaster oven.

Because that is what my incoherent sleepless life has come to – praising toaster ovens.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Weekly Winners

It has been beautiful out lately


But really windy and that has been spreading pollen far and wide, making me wheeze and sneeze.

The source of my respiratory distress


The boys had a new & used book fair at their school & bought some new to them books


And I made some yogurt (post coming next week)


For more Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Album layouts

I am slowly working on scrapping a “Life Lessons” album. I have no idea how many pages it will be when done but when the mood, a quote or challenge prompts, hit me, I make some pages.

I have 5 so far, though I can’t seem to find #2 on my hard drive





Sweet Shoppe Designs challenges this month prompted lessons 4 & 5 and will probably lead to at least 3 more if I can get to them. I’d like to do about 25 or so and get them made into a bound book. I’m bad with themes but I have enough quotes and things that it is certainly do-able & if it takes me a couple years to finish it, that’s ok too.

My mojo seems to have disappeared this week though so I have no gotten any layouts done in a week or so.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Flour power


This is the result of a recent trip to my local bulk foods market.

Sunday I decided to make my favorite soft flat bread recipe and discovered I was nearly out of white & wheat flour and several other flours. Naturally I did not discover this until the liquid ingredients were all mixed together with the sugar, salt & yeast so I couldn’t just say ‘oh well’ and walk away. I had to come up with something.  The bread ended up being a mix of white bread flour, whole wheat flour, soy flour, oat flour, buckwheat pancake mix, oat bran and some Self Rising flour. (I needed 7 cups of flour because I foolishly was making a double batch)

It was *interesting* texturally.  Not bad, but not at all what I want in my flat bread. Normally I stick with white, wheat and flax meal, sometimes bran.

The market is just down from the boys’ TKD class so I dropped them off Wed and headed over there.

They have these little carts because the aisles aren’t wide enough for bit carts. Mine was overflowing when I reached the register. I bought over 40lbs of flour! (plus 7lbs of raw sugar, a pound of cocoa powder and a half a pound of mini peanut butter chips and 3lbs of butter) I bought 10lb bags of white bread and whole wheat bread flour. I bought a 7lb bag of white AP flour. I bought oat flour, rice flour, buckwheat flour (not pancake mix, which had been an absentminded mistake from my last flour buying trip), and rye flour. I wanted soy flour but they were out of it. I almost bought spelt flour but none of my current bread recipes call for it. I also bought flax meal, wheat germ and oat bran.

I’m probably good for flour until July, though maybe late May on the AP flour.

This is my favorite soft flat bread recipe.

2 teas yeast

1 c lukewarm milk

1 teas sugar

3 tablespoons plain yogurt (at room temp or at least not chilly)

2 tablespoons melted butter

1.5 teas salt

3.5 c flour (It can be all white. I use a mix of 2.5 c white bread flour, .75 c whole wheat and .25 flax meal usually)

Mix the yeast, milk, sugar, yogurt, butter & salt together. Add the flour. Stir together.

Knead for 10 minutes, let  rise 3-4 hours, punch down & let rest 30 minutes.

Divide into 6 balls, roll each out to about 6 inches in diameter.

You can then broil each one for two minutes a side, grill them for 2-3 minutes a side or cook in a cast iron skillet one at a time for about 2 minutes a side.  You want them to be puffy and golden.

They are best served warm with some melted garlic butter brushed over them.

If you double the recipe (as I was doing Sunday) you can, skip the kneading just mix well, let the dough rise for 2 hours then stick it in the fridge in a covered but not airtight container & pull off fist sized balls as you need them. It will keep for about a week.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I am so….proud (I think)

A few weeks back I mentioned that Mayhem was getting up at all hours of the night suddenly. He’d wake up at 2am and come in our room wanting to chat. Or he’d wake up at midnight and play his DS until Havoc came in our room and complained about the noise. Then he spent a week or so getting up at 5am. My children are already up at the crack of dawn as it is, getting up even EARLIER is not an endearing quality.

We wondered at the time what was up with this behavior but focused on preventing it rather than analyzing it. This is our standard reaction to children going through sudden periods of wakefulness. It’s a 6 year old habit at this point. We more or less know what is going on in general so we ignore it in favor of encouraging sleep. 

What is going on is the child is making a developmental leap in some area and it’s keeping their brain too busy to sleep. We first noticed it right before Havoc started crawling, though the connection wasn’t made until after he started crawling because there is usually a lag of a couple weeks between the sleeplessness and the manifestation of the new skill. He did it again before walking and before speaking multiple word phrases, etc and by the time Mayhem was doing it we’d realized the pattern. Since we don’t know what their mind is working on we can’t help so we focus on the sleep issue instead.

Mayhem’s latest developmental leap is with reading. He’s always been able to read better than he lets on because Mayhem is a bit of perfectionist and doesn’t like to share his skill until he is sure he has perfected it. He was rolling over for weeks before anyone actually caught him in the act and was stealth walking as well. The minute he saw anyone watching him take a step he would sit down and not attempt another one. But if you hid around the corner where he couldn’t see you he’d get up and take a few steps. Then one day he ran across the kitchen in full view of everyone.

I’ve always maintained that one day I’d just look over and he’d be reading Dostoyevsky instead of the Cat in the Hat.

Not quite, but still, a leap has been made.

For the last couple weeks he has been insisting on reading his bedtime story to us. The idea that you can choose to read words as well as what words you read, not just read what Mom & Dad and the teachers give you, has grown in his mind. And he likes it. He enjoys choosing his very own books and reading at his pace.

This weekend I learned that he has also discovered that words are EVERYWHERE! And he can READ THEM! Plus, he can sound them out to himself. He now knows he can read in his head like Mommy does & doesn’t have to say it all out loud and this delights the perfectionist in him. He can get it right in his mind and then share it!

We were at Target and he pointed a couple signs out to me and read them without pausing to sound them out. I was impressed. I watched him as he looked at all the words that were around him, seeing him shape the sounds silently with his mouth over and over until he was sure and then he would announce “Buy More! Spend Less! Mama” and point to that sign. He was so pleased with himself. I was pleased too. Right up until we reached the check out and his eye was caught by this magazine headline


He managed “The, sex, we, can’t, here” but needed help with ‘article and describe” and since I had been helping him with words for the past half hour I couldn’t just stop now. Bad enough having your barely 6 year old shout “The sex article we can’t describe here” loudly in the check out line. Even worse when he then asks, just as loudly, “what does that mean mama? Why can’t they tell us?”

I’m no prude. Really. I’m not. But honestly, didn’t they used to put Cosmo behind a shield so you couldn’t read it’s headlines? Or was that only when it said things like “Oral sex techniques you both will enjoy!”?

Monday, April 12, 2010

The week that was

It was a week off for the most part. The boys has Spring Break from Sat-Wed. DH had Sat-Tues off from work. The weather was wonderfully warm and sunny the whole time.

Saturday there was yard work & grilling steaks with some friends.


Sunday was Easter. We went to brunch at a local restaurant. It was ok. Brunch is difficult sometimes and the menu was not very large. We came for more yard work and the boys created water hazards to play in. Plus there was more cooking out on the grill. Tandori spiced chicken this time.


Monday I went to the gym and the males laid around until I came home. Then everyone was outside from about 10a to 8p. DH did some work on the brakes of his old motocycle and went for a short ride. The water hazards continued and I read out on the shade porch. I want to buy a chaise lounge for the shade porch, but there is not enough room for it, so I have to sprawl across 2 chairs. Dinner was on the grill again – BBQ bacon wrapped shrimp

Tuesday DH & Havoc went on a Cub Scout trip to a nuclear power plant and Mayhem & I went to the library & grocery store. I did laundry & cleaned the house. Mayhem told me he really misses spending time “just you and me Mama” since he started kindergarten and he doesn’t want to join Cub Scouts next year because he’d rather stay with me. We grilled fish this time.

Wednesday DH returned to work and I dozed until 9a, my sleep continuously interrupted by wailing from Mayhem whenever he was stuck on some part of Wii Lego Batman. Mayhem wails, screams and cries when he can’t do what needs to be done to complete the game level. But I’ll give him credit. He never quits. I have to physically pick him up and move him out of the room when he becomes to overwrought to play because he will not stop trying until he has accomplished it. He just does it while pitching a fit which is not fun to  listen too. The boys just wanted to hang out a game & since they had spent nearly all of the past 4 days outside I went with it. No grilling tonight because DH doesn’t get home until 6:30 or so and I’d like to eat before 7. I’m not proficient yet with the grill.

Thursday the males left the house at 7:15 to go to work and to school and I went back to bed and slept until 10am. Ahhhh! Then I mopped the floors and wiped the cabinets and dusted and put away all the stuff that was taken out over a 5 day holiday and did more laundry.Then I went to the gym and then the grocery store for a rotisserie chicken (because I am worth it) for dinner.

Friday I did various jobs for things that I had let slide during the week with everyone home. I also met DH for lunch, which was nice. We went out to dinner with friends as well.

Saturday was another Cub Scout activity, a wild animal vet care center this time and Mayhem and I bonded over another trip to the library and playing Raving Rabbids Go Home. It was also Catfish Fry night at the VFW and DH and his boss fry hushpuppies for it. I’m not that fond of fried catfish, though I like fried fish in general. The hushpuppies are excellent though. I always forget to bring my own beverage & after 4 years, twice a year, you’d think I could remember. The choices are sweet tea and unsweet tea. I don’t like tea.

Sunday was lazy. Most of it was spent outside, more chicken coop painting, more equipment repair, more water hazards and one more grilled steak & veggie dinner.

Everything is back to the normal routine now.

I’m looking forward to summer. We had a nice taste of it this past week.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekly Winners

A few from my 365 Project this week


Clone Trooper, it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it


Creating puddles


Dino swamp is back in the nice weather


So is cooking out


Choose wisely

For more Weekly Winners please visit Lotus at Sarcastic Mom.

Thanks for stopping by!