Tuesday, June 29, 2010


A-Diapers don't need to look like they are made of denim.
B-You won't look like #1 when you #2.
C-A kid in a diaper doesn't look chic.
D-If your poo is blue, you've probably eaten something you shouldn't have.
E-There is no way to look cool when you poo.

Seriously....who writes this crap?

PS--Darrell saw this while watching "World's Most Dangerous Group" on MTV--a documentary on NWA.  You know...the band that started Gangsta Rap.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bread in Five Minutes

I have a real love affair with good bread.  I could easily eat it with every meal. 

Or FOR every meal.

Tonight I almost did that...ate bread and water for dinner.  I through a couple of slice of turkey in to "round" out my meal.

This is a recipe that I've seen on multiple blogs and heard great things about.  But I was a little frightened to try it.

Thursday night, for Relief Society, we had a demonstration and I decided to try it today.

Here is the recipe, adapted from the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day:  (My adaptations and comments are in italics)

You will want to mix the ingredients in a large-ish bowl that has a lid that isn't airtight.  The girl who demonstrated this used a plastic ice cream bucket--like the kind my friend Ginger uses for a salad bowl.  :)
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons yeast
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
  • 6-1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour,
         measured with the scoop-and-sweep method
  • Cornmeal for pizza peel
1. Warm the water slightly: It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100°F. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours. You can use cold tap water and get an identical final result; then the first rising will take 3 or even 4 hours. That won't be too great a difference, as you will only be doing this once per stored batch.  I made this before I left for church and didn't know I had the cold water option.  I will definitely try cold water next time to lengthen the rising time and not fret about rushing home. 

2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5-quart bowl or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket. Don't worry about getting it all to dissolve. I used a container that was too small and ended up with a little bit of a mess--it, however, was easily cleaned up.  Although you don't have to dissolve the yeast and salt, I would try to prevent any lumps.
3. Mix in the flour—kneading is unnecessary: Add all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping up flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula; don't press down into the flour as you scoop or you'll throw off the measurement by compressing. Mix with a wooden spoon, a high-capacity food processor (14 cups or larger) fitted with the dough attachment, or a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the mixture is uniform. If you're hand-mixing and it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with the spoon, you can reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don't knead. It isn't necessary. You're finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. This step is done in a matter of minutes, and will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container. I used a wooden spoon and it wasn't difficult at all, but next time I will use my Kitchen Aid. 

4. Allow to rise: Cover with a lid (not airtight) that fits well to the container you're using. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approximately 2 hours, depending on the room's temperature and the initial water temperature. Longer rising times, up to about 5 hours, will not harm the result. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature. So, the first time you try our method, it's best to refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours), before shaping a loaf.  I didn't do this, but if you haven't really made any bread, this could be a good idea.
5. The gluten cloak: don't knead, just "cloak" and shape a loaf in 30 to 60 seconds. First, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal  to prevent your loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven. If you don't have a pizza peel, use a cutting board.  Use a lot of cornmeal, the more you have the less likely the dough will stick to your surface.  Cloaking is sprinkling the top of the dough liberally with flour...probably a quarter cup. 

6. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough, using a serrated knife. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Most of the dusting flour will fall off; it's not intended to be incorporated into the dough. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out and adhere during resting and baking. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. The entire process should take no more than 30 to 60 seconds.  I decided to bake all the dough, which ended up being 3 loaves.  I should have baked one. 

6. Rest the loaf and let it rise on a pizza peel: Place the shaped ball on the cornmeal-covered pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest on the peel for about 40 minutes (it doesn't need to be covered during the rest period). Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period; more rising will occur during baking ("oven spring").   Since it is summer in Arizona, I let my first loaf rise 20 minutes, my second loaf rise 40 minutes, and the final one to rise 60 minutes.  There wasn't a huge difference between the first and the last--I could have baked two at a time.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.

8. Dust and slash: Unless otherwise indicated in a specific recipe, dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking. Slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross, "scallop," or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.  I forgot to do this on one of the loaves and it split on the bottom, so I highly recommend this step.
9. Baking with steam: After a 20-minute preheat, you're ready to bake, even though your oven thermometer won't yet be up to full temperature. With a quick forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the preheated baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour about 1 cup of hot water from the tap into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Because you've used wet dough, there is little risk of drying out the interior, despite the dark crust. When you remove the loaf from the oven, it will audibly crackle, or "sing," when initially exposed to roomtemperature air. Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack, for best flavor, texture, and slicing. The perfect crust may initially soften, but will firm up again when cooled.  I added about 3 cups of water and had to add more between the second and third loaves.  The water spatters quite a bit, so be careful!

10. Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days: You'll find that even one day's storage improves the flavor and texture of your bread. This maturation continues over the 14-day storage period. Refrigerate unused dough in a lidded storage container (again, not airtight). If you mixed your dough in this container, you've avoided some cleanup. Cut off and shape more loaves as you need them. We often have several types of dough storing in the refrigerator at once. The dough can also be frozen in 1 pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.

I hope you enjoy this bread as much as Darrell and I did.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Night...Date Night

Darrell and I are really into having a Date Night every Friday night.

We do all sorts of fun and exciting things. 

Let me give you the highlights of tonight's Date Night:

But first, a little background: I peruse my local Freecycle bulletin board.  There is typically a bunch of junk available that even Goodwill won't take.  You know.  Moving boxes, Barney VHS tapes, cans of chipped beef that may or may not be bulging.  Junk.  But this morning, I noticed a headboard from Pottery Barn was being offered.  For Free.  I emailed the lady and waited to hear back.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally at 1:30, she emailed and told me I could have it if I came and picked it up at 6:30.  Score!

So, back to the date night:

Darrell and I left at 6:10 to pick up the headboard.  We drove my car, since it is an SUV rather than Darrell's four-door car.  The lady lives in a townhouse really close to us and the unit numbers are hardly visible from the parking lot.  We found the place because the headboard was outside, waiting for us.  We had to maneuver it into the car, since it was both too wide and too tall to fit in perfectly.  Good thing I grabbed our never-used-until-tonight bungee cords.  We had to roll down one of the windows and bungee the lift-back door "closed."  I took side streets home, but we made it.  Safe and sound.  The headboard is a little dusty and looks like it came from a house with dogs, so it's in the garage so I can give it a good vacuuming tomorrow.  But here is what it looks like:

Fancy, huh?

After we (meaning me) changed our clothes, we headed out.  As we were making our way to the car, I remembered I noticed some wasps building a nest in the bushes in front of our house.  They have done that in years past, and I wanted Darrell to exterminate them tomorrow.  Darrell decided that teasing the wasps would be more fun, so he told me, "Go start the car, so we can escape quickly."  I got into the car and Darrell kicked the bush as if he was punting in the Super Bowl to win in a last seconds attempt.  He then ran to the car as if he was being chased by a swarm of killer bees.  The wasps' nest lay in the middle of our grass.  "I think we need to go to Ace Hardware to get some wasp killer," he told me.

We went to the local Ace Hardware, where he picked up wasp poison and an air filter for the air conditioner.  We buy the expensive ones since they tend to help with Darrell's allergies.  He's allergic to dust, desert plant pollens, and most pets.  While we were there, I decided to get some paint for some projects I have lined up.  There may or may not be future posts related to the paint (It completely depends how successful or UNsuccessful I am).

We took the paint and wasp poison home, since we didn't really want to leave them in the car and the 100+ degree heat.  Yes, even at 7 in the evening, it's 100+.  Darrell just took the stuff into the garage, while I waited in the car.  Very near to the bush that was kicked thirty minutes earlier.  As I sat there, I observed a couple of wasps, flying around the bush, looking a little confused.  I know that sounds weird, since 1-I couldn't see their faces; and 2-even if I could see their faces, they probably don't have very expressive faces.  But they were flying all around the bushes as if they were looking for their home.  I laughed and re-told the story to Darrell.

We next went to the Costco!  We got a cart and bought produce and Greek yogurt and Fiber One bars and razors.  Then we ran into some friends (hi Ginger and Mary!) and chatted for awhile.  Apparently, the Costco is high on the list of romantic places to be on a Friday Night Date Night.  We picked up some food at the food court, gassed up the SUV, and drove home.

We ate our pizza, salad, and fro-yo while watching Friday Night Lights a la DVR.

Oh the romance!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I'm going all Al Gore on you

I only sorta do my part to save the earth.

I recycle.  Some times only because I have run out of room in my garbage can and will fit more stuff in it if I "recycle" some of the other stuff.

I try not to waste water unnecessarily. I strategically space the cleaning of my floors by several weeks.

I let my grass grow really high.  It produces more oxygen and consumes more CO2 that way, right?

I sometimes go a couple of days without driving my car.  When I completely don't even leave my house.

I installed those pesky new fangled light bulbs.  And only gripe about them every OTHER day!

So, I am going to share with you one way that I really want to be green:

I hate. Hate. HATE. phone books!  With all my guts!

It seems I get a new one every month or so.

I have a hard time that these companies can actually make money printing and distributing these things.

I know.  I know...they sell advertising space, which pays for the stupid books. 

But really, who uses them?

Besides people born before 1967?

I guess that sorta answers that question.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that they will go the way of dinosaurs.  And it will only take as many years for the book to die as it has been since dinosaurs roamed the planet.

So today, in my blog reading, I came across this link.

Go to it NOW.  Post Haste!

For there you will enable yourself to never receive a stupid phone book again.

You enter your ZIP code and it lists all the companies that provide you will reading material for the next decade or two. 

Follow those links and enter your info to opt out of the insanity.

If you are anything like me, though, you will have a little tiny bit of regret.  "What if I suddenly need the phone book to find xyz?"

"Just use your cell phone's handy phone book feature," replies the smart side of my brain.

Don't ever say I don't love the environment now.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Step One: Open mouth; Step Two: Insert foot

Back in the olden days, when I lived in Tucson, I worked at an auto insurance agency.

It catered to people who needed to purchase insurance to comply with the state minimum requirement, but did not have a good record with insurance (either due to not paying it consistently or not have a good driving record).

I was what I liked to call an unlicensed agent.  I did the same work the agents at the office did.  I just didn't sign my name to any of the policies.

I gave people insurance quotes.  I took applications, both by phone and in person.  I processed payments.  I referred customers to the claims department when accidents occurred.

So I came in contact with people all day, every day.

I don't know about you, but when I have a routine, I can sometimes make people think that I am truly interested in our discussion.  Especially when I am not.

This was SO the case with my job as the unlicensed agent.

As I took applications, I had to ask people about their jobs.  Since it took about 15 minutes to complete the application and the employment part came up pretty quickly, I could usually count on talking about their occupation for the remaining time.

Do you like your job?

Oh, I have a friend who does that, too!

How long have you been doing that?

Now, for the most part, I could convince them that my questioning was genuine.  There were a few jobs that I didn't pull it off well, though.  You know...jobs like "entertainers" (which was the politically correct term for exotic dancers).

Sometimes, when the person had a particularly interesting job, I would really get into the Q&A session and jabber on for much longer than the application process should have taken.

But other times, my mind would be on cruise control and I would say the first thing that came to mind.

Like, "Oh!  My roommate is an illegal alien!"

To the Border Patrol agent.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Move over, Aaron Eckhart....

I have a new pretend boyfriend.

Rupert Penry-Jones.

Sigh.....Isn't he delicious?

But never fear.  I'm still madly in love with my handsome husband, Darrell.

Friday, June 4, 2010

You may want to bookmark this posting

For those days that you just don't think your life can get any worse.

Watch this and remember that things aren't as bad as you think.

 'Cause you could be that guy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jagged little pills

Well, let's all thank my mom for reminding me of two wonderful stories from my childhood.

The first is from when I was about six years old.  My mom was introduced to the wonderful world of Shaklee.  For those who are unfamiliar with Shaklee, it is similar-ish to Amway.  Just not so pyramid-ish and more based on vitamins rather than cleaning supplies.  Although they do sell cleaning supplies.

My mom decided to buy vitamins and get us all healthier.  But, this was the 1970s, when salaries were much lower and my mom was frugal.  She could either buy the adult vitamins or the children vitamins.  She opted for the adult vitamins.

The adult vitamins were rather large and covered in a dark green coating.  Similar to an M&M.  Have you smelled an adult vitamin recently?  Not good.

Since I was only six and my sister was only four, we had not yet mastered swallowing pills whole.

My mom gave us each a pill and told us if we chewed it quickly, it would be gone before we knew it.

Do you remember when you were a little kid and were given something to eat that you didn't like?  Did you chew and swallow it quickly?  If you did, you were smarter than I was.

I remember chewing slowly.  I remember chewing slowly with a horrified look on my face.  I remember chewing so slowly, extra saliva formed.  I remember chewing so slowly, with so much extra saliva, that I drooled excessively.  (I most certainly had no intention of swallowing that nasty tasting saliva.)  Dark green drool.  I'm sure I looked quite similar to a vampire.  A vampire that sucked green blood.

I think my mom must have figured out the error of her ways when both Jennilyn and I were crying, drooling green gunk, and refusing to swallow.  She let us spit out our very expensive vitamins. 

Later that week, we got Flintstones. 

Fast forward a couple of years.  I still had not mastered the art of swallowing pills whole.  Jennilyn had.  However, she also suffered from far more ear infections than I had, so she had more experience.

One day when Jennilyn was suffering from an ear infection and had been prescribed Actifed (a pill the size of half a Tic Tac), my mom decided it was high time I learned to take pills. 

She took one of Jennilyn's pills and told me that I was going to swallow the pill.  I retorted, "But I'm not sick.  I shouldn't take the pill."

My kind mother replied, "It's not a very strong pill.  It won't really do much to you."

And so I learned to swallow pills whole.  My mom does not believe that she would have given me a pill without my truly needing it.  You will see...she will leave a comment to that effect.  But this is a true story.

I only wish she would have taught me two years earlier.

Roommates--the long and the short of it

I've had my fair share of roommates.  Some may even say I've had more than my fair share of roommates.

My first roommate, besides my parents for I'm guessing a few months, was my sister Jennilyn.  We started being roommates shortly after I turned four.  I think.  That was, after all, a long time ago.  Maybe it was shortly before I turned five and my brother Todd was born.  But it seems like it was a few months earlier.  Jennilyn is my longest roommate to date.  We shared a room consistently until I moved to college.

I then had Lynell, Susan, and Tami as roommates.  And as far as first time college roommates, we did pretty well.  We had our ups and downs, our bumps along the way, but what we really had was fun!

The next year, Lynell and I shared our space with Maren and Rochelle.  A friend, Bronna, lived on our couch for several weeks while she healed from a broken knee cap.  Somehow we were convinced she was better off with us than in her apartment.  Maren moved out the second semester (it may have had something to do with the fact that I didn't go to bed before 4 am and she had all early classes).  (I KNOW, so odd that I was a night owl back in the day!)  For most of the second semester, it was just the three of us.  About a month before school ended, a girl, whose name I don't remember, moved in with us.  I remember Tami called her Q-Tip the year before because of her hair.

My next roommates were while I was on my mission.  In the MTC, I had three--Shelley (my companion), Jill, and Sister Nielsen (I can't remember her first name--give me some time and it may come back to me).  We were roommates for only three weeks, but had a fabulous time.  I recently reconnected with Jill via Facebook and she has a great photography business.

Over the next eighteen months, I ended up with so many roommates/companions on my mission, it seems unreal.  But here goes:
Elizabeth--I was her last companion and we were together for one month.  It was pretty tough being new and paired with someone really ready to go home.  But I learned a lot from her.
Nicole--We were together from mid-November to mid-January and had so much fun!  She also was getting ready to go home, but the difference was night and day.  We had some pretty crazy experiences that I still think of fondly today.
Alisha--We were together just a few days.  Unfortunately we were split up when another companionship needed to be re-assigned.  She was a good companion, who I learned from.  (Anyone noticing a pattern?)
Lucy--This girl made me laugh.  We were together about three months and had fun.   Sometimes too much.
Liza--She joined Lucy and me for a month.  She was the yin to Lucy and my yang. 
Lori--She helped me go from city girl to backwoods country gal.  We had too many adventures and she cracked me up!
Nichole--She really tried my patience.  Unfortunately, we didn't see eye to eye on many things and I wasn't the best at compromise.  We were together about 6 weeks until we were split up in the middle of the month.
Wendy--She was one of the hardest workers I was with.  I loved being with her since she taught me to just get out and do it.  We were together about three weeks, but it was a great three weeks.
Jen--She hurt her knee something ferocious and she and I moved into the mission home so she could heal.  I loved the time we spent there...being with President and Sister McGrath was wonderful and I was in a "four-some."
Sydney--She was a part of the four-some and was a great worker.  We partied every day.
Kelsey--The last of the four-some.  She was hysterical!  She was from Chubbuck, Idaho and pretended it was a metropolis.
Lori--Yep, Lori again!  This time was a three-some and it was hysterical every minute.
Sandy--She was a "mini-missionary."  She was just shy of 21 and from the area.  She spent 6 months as a missionary and I spent two and a half months with her.  She was a great calming influence.  When she wasn't being just as crazy as the rest of us.
Shawna--She was another difficult companion.  But I did learn from her.
Sydney-Again.  And just as much fun.  We were companions the last three months of my mission and I am so grateful for her influence to keep me going.
Cathy--She, Syd, and I were companions for a couple of months and we had the best of times in the 'hood known as East St. Louis.  She was another worker bee!

I had another couple of sisters that were roommates for a couple of days, but I won't count them.  We don't want to go overboard!

A few months after I got home from my mission, I moved into an apartment with Allison, Jen, and another girl, whose name escapes me.  Things went well for about six months, but then they started to go down hill.  Allison left to go on a mission and I was about 4 years older than the other two girls.

So, I moved in with Arlissa, Sandy, Sarah, Stephanie (yes, a roommate with the same name), and Tracy.  That was a great apartment and I can't think of any real issues we had.  It was only for about 6 months, but it was a good six months!

Arlissa, Tracy, and I moved into a house that we watched for the summer.  It was sort of odd since the owner lived there off and on during the summer and her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson lived there with us.  Some times a little awkward, but mostly a good experience.

Stephanie and I moved into an apartment and searched for another roommate or two.  Arlissa moved back in with us for a little while, then Angelica.  Angelica spoke Spanish as her primary language (and very good English) and was a DJ on a Spanish radio station.  One night she called and told us to listen to the radio.  She called out her roomo-matos.  I felt famous.

Stephanie moved out after graduating and Lucero moved in.  She also was a fluent Spanish-speaker (and not-so-great English-speaker) and I found out after she lived there for awhile that she was in the US illegally.  I'll have to tell you the story about my brush with the border patrol while we were roommates another time.

A few months later, I moved in with Arlissa at her grandparents' home.  She lived with her younger brother, Clar.  So I had my first boy roommate.  He worked construction and was gone or asleep whenever I was home, so it was almost like he wasn't there.

Arlissa and I moved into an apartment and it was only us for several months.  We met a girl Carey at church and invited her to move in with us the same day.  She moved in probably two days later.

About a year later, Arlissa moved out of state and Carey and I moved in with Ruth (my birthday twin--just five years younger).  She bought a condo and we decorated like crazy.  Painted, wallpapered, re-upholstered.

Ruth decided to sell a couple of years later and I became roommate-free for the first time in SEVERAL years.  It was great for the eighteen months it lasted, but I was happy to find my next roommate.

I bought a house and decided to get a roommate to help share expenses and all my extra room!  Stacey moved in and we had a good time.  I think I wasn't quite ready for a roommate, so it didn't last long.  But Kira moved in and stayed for a little more than two years.  Maybe partly because for half of that time, she traveled for work and was out of state.  :)

Kira moved out just before I married Darrell, who has been my favorite roommate.  I think he's a keeper and I plan to never get rid of him.

So, I guess roommate number 39 is a charm!

Editor's Notes:  Sister Nielsen's name came to me on my way to work....she is Jody.  And my third roommate after my mission was Sherry.  I remembered that one on the way home from work.  I knew I would remember eventually.