Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Almost 100%...

So I'm chipping away at Mt. Washmore... And I have to say that the washing machine is just about 100%. I'm missing one sock, but I think it's in the other batch of towels. So far, so good, and I hope I haven't jinxed it. 

I will now publicly admit that Hubby is a saint. I'm taking over now while he's been at his mom's house. I've done nothing but run back and forth trying to keep the zoo under control. 

He does that. And he works full time from home, plus a part-time gig. 

Thanks Hubby, for doing it all. So I can be an atypical wife; I don't have to do most of what I don't want to. You take care of the inside and the outside of the house. I've been doing that, and getting ready for Dolly's visit - and it's a pain in the rear.

OK, I'm still not in favor of cleaning the bathrooms... But I'm impressed that the rest is not exactly chaos. And good grief; it's like I can't turn around but there's another dish to be washed. How do they do that??? Do they multiply when your back is turned??

So for every chore I've completed, I'm knitting. As soon as I finish this, I'm going to watch "Endeavour" - a young Inspector Morse, and knit more on the Nephew Afghan.

Happy New Year...

Happy 2014 to everyone! I've thought about it and I don't think I need to make "resolutions." I always break them, then I feel bad. What I will try to do is keep an affirmation.

An affirmation is like your own personal mantra. It's something you do for yourself or to help you get through something. For example, when I had a test a couple of years ago, I had a full face mask on, my head was in a brace and my arms were overhead... I am VERY claustrophobic. The tech told me that this test would cause panic attacks, especially if you were prone to claustrophobia. 

It did. 

But my mantra was, "It's going to be over in a minute." I just kept repeating that. And looking at him. That helped. 

So my mantra for 2014 is something I found in the YOGAChicago magazine, and it's from Swami Kripalu:

The highest spiritual practice is self-observation without judgment.

That's my inspiration for now. 


Snow 2014
"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..." Oh, wait. It's January. So I've been enjoying the snow. Seriously. I love snow. 

I have been shoveling, and this is what it looks like. Ten minutes after I shoveled. I ran out to the grocery store and gassed up my truck. The city has been by with salt + plow. We are forecasted to get 5 - 8".... I'm hoping we get closer to 8" but I don't know if that'll happen. 

The birds are enjoying the seeds and I was going to try to get a video of the critters, but the junco birds are really chowing down on the cracked corn I put out for the squirrels! So no cute video today. Maybe tomorrow. 


Clam chowder (New England, thanks) in the crock pot. I also bought some 9-grain bread. I was thinking of making casserole bread, a no-knead recipe, but I thought about cleaning up the kitchen and decided that we didn't need that much bread, nor did I want that much mess!

This recipe is from the Betty Crocker's Cookbook, copyrighted 1969, and I got it in 1979. I had also given an updated edition of this book to Kid #1 when he first moved out. He lost it. Yeesh. This cookbook is like a totally basic "yes, you can cook" kind of book. I still refer to it, and I've got it post-noted for all kinds of things.

CASSEROLE BREAD from Betty Crocker's Cookbook (c) 1969

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/2 c. lukewarm water (about 105-115*)
1/2 c. lukewarm milk (don't need to scald...)
2/3 c. butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1 t. salt
3 c. all-purpose flour (NOT self-rising - just my preference)
Extra butter

Dissolve the yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl. Add mil, 2/3 c. margarine, eggs, salt and 1 c. of flour. Beat on low speed, scraping bowl constantly, about 30 seconds.

Beat on medium speed, scraping occasionally, for 2 minutes. Stir in remaining flour till smooth. Scrape sides of bowl. Cover. 

Let this rise (see my rising notes below) till double, about 1/2 hour or so. Batter is ready if indentation remains when touched with a floured finger.

Stir down by beating about 25 strokes. Spread evenly in a greased 2-quart casserole. Cover, let it rise till double, another 40 minutes or so.

Heat oven to 375* and place casserole on the low rack so that the top of the casserole is in the center of the oven. The casserole should not touch the sides of the oven. Bake till brown and sounds hollow when tapped, about 40-45 minutes. Immediately remove the bread from the casserole and place on a rack. Brush with the extra butter if you want. Let it cool. Cut into wedges or slices to serve.

RISING NOTE: Dough is a stinker - or it can be. If it's too hot or too dry or the moon's not in the correct phase, your dough can act weird. First off, you CAN kill the yeast if the water's too hot and the milk's too hot, so be sure to have a decent thermometer handy. 

The way I raise my dough is to put a large-ish stock pot on the stove, with 3 or 4 cups of water in it. Bring that to a boil, and put a cooling rack on top. Turn off the burner, put the bowl of dough on top of that rack, put a towel over it and then put a larger towel over the whole thing. 

Believe me, rises like a treat every time!

OPTIONS: You can add cheese to this bread, onions, your favorite herbs -- it's kind of a blank canvas. Have fun with it. This is a very easy recipe if you're a newbie to yeast breads. Though I prefer the kneading, this no-knead recipe is a good one to bring to a potluck, and it's just a nice, relatively quick bread, as yeast breads go.

Random Picture...

Norway Cemetery, Illinois
This is a picture I took on the way back from a Zonta conference. It's a town called Norway, IL and they have a very old cemetery. Don't ask me why, but old cemeteries kind of fascinate me. 

I took this at the entrance. I have a bunch of other pictures, and I'm sure that if any locals passed by (it's a very small town), they might've thought I was a bit weird.

But then, maybe not. There are several gorgeous pictures of monuments that nearly predate the founding of the cemetery. Some were taller than I am, and some were even quite a bit more modern, and still in that "old style" of decorative memorials. I'll have to dig them up (ba-dum) and post a few. 

It makes you kind of sad; or at least it does me. There used to be a whole art of monuments. Now, for the sake of efficiency, most cemeteries have those flat monuments that they can just mow over. 

Anyone got any plans for the New Year? Any goals? Anything you're looking to change?

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