Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday Words

Everything seems so frivolous in light of yesterday.  I got up a couple hours before the sun did and had an incredible privilege of witnessing and feeling moved by the words - spoken and unspoken for the life of the dear lady I mentioned in the last post.  I left with a feeling of thankfulness.  For her life.  For her children.  And for the influence that will remain.  But I was saddened by the fact that I never got to really know her.  In a way though, it doesn't matter.  Because I do feel like I know her.  She was simply another 'mother'.

Last night I was exhausted.  Probably both mentally and physically.  Daughter #2 decided it would be very proper to reverse roles.  So she marched me into our bedroom.  Barked orders for me to get on my pj's, wash my face, brush my teeth, and then tucked me into bed with a story.  I begged for two.  She finally wagged her finger and me and said it was enough.  A soft kiss on the cheek.  Then as she was leaving she said quietly, 'don't forget to pray'.  And so I heard myself.  I felt like she did.  Some of the words seemed almost too strong.  Some of the words seemed just right.  And some of the words seemed like just what I needed to feel cozy and loved.  It was a wonderful idea she had.  I hope she tucks me in again sometime!

This morning I took an early-morning walk.  The birds were chirping happily.  The rain-drenched ditches and the abundance of worms on the road gave the air an aura of... spring!  Until I saw the burning bush, the start of color on the trees, and the little cute scarecrows in the window boxes.  Oh well... only six more months.

I just got all the bills paid again.  Well actually, the computer does it all for me.  But I have to check to be sure they really are doing their job.  And to check to make sure the right money is in the right account to pay the bills.  It is one of my least-favorite jobs.  You see I like to save.  So even with the necessities of life, it all seems like a lot of money heading out the door.  Even with the best intentions, life isn't cheap.

Lisi is getting all 'peaches n cream' smelling today.  Her quarterly bath and toenail trim.  She usually comes home and wants to go find something dead to roll in.  So we'll have to be vigilant on our afternoon walk so she doesn't end up smelling like dead mouse after we spent $45.

This is enough.  And maybe even beyond that.  But I missed musing on Monday....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A woman of virtue

The heart of her husband trusted her.  She worked willingly with her hands.  She laid her hands to the spindle and her hands held the distaff.  She stretched out her hands to the poor... and the needy.

She was a "Mother in Israel" and also to two shepherds in our state.  She was a talented seamstress.  And she had a very open home.

She died in a place that was safe.  She died in a place surrounded with those that loved her.  And in our human minds, she died too soon.  But we cannot question.

I didn't know her personally.  I have spoken briefly to her only a few times.  But I really didn't need to know her.  The fruit of her life showed.  The evidence of her joy was far-reaching.  And so we mourn.  We mourn for the family that is facing a huge loss.  We mourn for those close to her that were encouraged each week by what she would share.  And we mourn.  Because that is what a family does when a loss is felt.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Our Daily Bread

Because I had spare time today because I'm dreadfully sick with a cold I care for all you dear fellow bloggers, I thought I'd publish the long-awaited, highly anticipated, wildly popular bread recipe and instructions.  Any way you slice it, bread is good.  The recipe I am showing you is one I simply concocted from several recipes.  I have no recipe except that which is in my brain.  I truly measure only a few of the ingredients and "just dump" the other when it looks right.

Bread can be a fickle thing.  So much depends on variables such as humidity of the day, the temperature of the room, or even the temperature of the liquid that is making the yeast do its thing.  But any recipe you use, any way you put it together, any way you slice it, it is good.  And it really is a simple process.  And I'll prove it to you.

You need about three hours of time at home from start to finish.  I recently purchased this wonderful machine.  It is a wheat grinder.  It sounds like a quiet jet taking off.  But it is worth its weight in gold.  We have a friend that grows wheat, free of pesticides and other icky things you don't want to eat.  I have about 50 lbs of hard red spring wheat waiting to be turned into flour.  And that we will.

I grind roughly the only flour I will need for the day.  I have read that the nutrition of fresh-ground is much higher than flour that sits around.  That's why I'm so sick with the cold right now.  (that was a joke).

After the flour is ground, we move over to the other piece of equipment I purchased a year ago and have grown extremely fond of.  It is my Bosch mixer.

This appliance, although expensive has probably paid for itself already.  It is running nearly twice a week here.  Put 3 tablespoons of yeast in the bowl.  It can be any form that you choose.  Some swear by SAF yeast.  Others just Red Star or other grocery store variety.  Since I've gone more "granola" and am grinding my own wheat, I've been using SAF.  It seems to have a better reputation for guaranteed results.  Add 1/2 cup very warm water, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and approximately 1/2 cup flour.  Mix just a bit and let sit for five minutes or until you remember you started making bread.

I've recently started using this dough enhancer since I'm using more whole grains in the bread.  If you are using at least half white bread flour, it is unnecessary.  I'm having dandy results using it.  I think it can be found at many grocery or health stores.

I microwave my milk for three minutes at high power to get to the proper temperature.

 After the mixture has 'proofed', add 4 cups milk, 1 stick butter, 2 tablespoons oil, 2/3 cup brown sugar or honey, 2 eggs, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of salt, and extra "stuff" if you want.  I almost always add a handful of flax seed, ground flax, and cracked wheat.  Add whole wheat and regular flour.  I don't have any measurements because I go by sight, not by amount.  But you can expect to add roughly 10 cups of flour.

After all the ingredients are added, let knead in the bowl for about five minutes adding flour as you need to.  I usually let it stay a bit sticky.  Some Bosch people think the bowl must be completely clean, but I tend to think if I add that much flour, my bread would be drier.  If you are kneading by hand, do it for about 7 minutes.  When the kneading process is complete, I usually take it out and knead it by hand just a few times to make sure it 'feels right'.  Place in a bowl to rise covered with a towel.  Set the timer for an hour.  Now it is time to go take a nap.  Walk the dog.  Look at Facebook and feel frustrated with the changes.  Or better yet, call a friend that is lonely.

Pans.  I use an assortment.  I have two larger-sized ones and three smaller.  Do not every wash them with soap unless you are making meatloaf or banana bread or something other than yeast breads.  I like mine seasoned.  Spray them lightly with cooking spray or grease with shortening.

After the dough has risen an hour, take out and start shaping into loaves.


 I took this picture to prove that my floor gets a bit dirty when I'm baking!

 I have this handy silver scraper/cutter thing for bread.  It works great splitting apart the dough.  It also works dandy by scraping off the yucky doughy stuff left on the counter when you are done.

 Place loaves in pan.  Cover again with towels.  Let rise approximately 45 minutes until they are just starting to peek over the top edge of the pan.

Set oven for 350 degrees.  When it reaches proper temperature.  Place loaves in oven.  Bake for 24 minutes for small loaves and about 26 minutes for large.  Someone very special told me recently how to test the doneness.  I promise, it works.  Lick your finger and touch the bottom of the hot pan.  If it sizzles, the bread is done.  If it doesn't sizzle, give it another minute or so.  Don't burn yourself!  And don't spit on the bread!

And...!  Here is the finished product.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Blogs are great.  Because you can say what you want - serious or otherwise without people interrupting.  But maybe that's not always good.  I read something in "Dear Abby" today.  When someone walks in the room there can be two ways... "Here I am!" or... better  "There you are!".  That's nicer.

I've been starting to purge my Google Reader.  Don't worry, it's probably not you I've quit reading.  I just had too many on there and was wasting time on people I'll never meet.

Son #1 has had croup.  It probably is complicated with his asthma.  But it wasn't fun.  A steamer has helped.  But after reading about it, I see it is contagious!  I'm hoping there aren't a lot of barking seals at the school later this week.

Do you use your crock-pot?  Or slow-cooker.  Or whatever you call it.  I've been using it about once/week and LOVE it.  Last night was sirloin steaks simmering in deliciousness of peppers, onions, and some spices I'd never put together except the recipe called for it.  And it got a resounding vote.  Well four out of five ain't bad.  That fifth one... oh never mind.

I've got my first Norwex order.  I'm a natural skeptic.  Hate gimmicks.  Hate wasting money.  And so I reluctantly started using them as I cleaned a bit yesterday.  Know what?  So far I like 'em!  I had a mirror I could never get streak-free.  And I did without the aid of cleaner!  Really!  What pressure though... you Norwex consultants or whatever they call you.  Are you supposed to have spot-less houses all the time?  And on a side note:  whoever thought white baseboards were a good idea... well, never mind.

I've got a hankering for getting a bird.  Like an indoor-cheery-chirping bird.  We have a perfect spot for it.  We have a two-story great room that it would have a dandy time flying around in.  But there's the Chairman.  He would refuse such silliness.  And there's the bird droppings.  Somehow it doesn't work in Norwex-clean houses.  So I will think about a bird and that's all.  Hopefully, when they put me in the nut house or the nursing home, they might have one there in the activity room I can enjoy.

I'm off to school.  No, I've had enough education.  In fact, I don't think my brain could handle one more lesson.  Because I don't like to put forth too much effort or something like that.  I'm off to copy a book and lessons for a teacher.  I must have gotten a demotion.  As I haven't been called for laminating even once this year!

Planning on a cooking post or two in the next week or so.  My latest bread recipe and maybe a few other favorites if you beg and plead for my knowledge...  (ha!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Musings

Wow, it's been a week since I've been here.  I'm sure you missed me.  Or not.  But it is Monday and Muse I must.

A good many of you know where we've been the past week.  Well, in August I said after our time at a similar place in a different state that it was the best one ever.  And it was.  This time in our own state, it was the best one ever.  Times two.

As I've stated before, we are full of good friends right here in our own backyard.  Like really good friends.   But the purpose I had this year was to expand my cheer.  Or my talkativeness.  Or my gleaning of thoughts from others.  I wanted to go out of my comfort zone and meet and learn some faces that are always there but I don't really know.  And it was wonderful.  And fresh.  And made it all seem a bit richer.

I'm not for on-line dating match-ups.  I think there's much to hide.  Maybe even about 50 lbs. if they use an old picture.  But I am for on-line friendships.  I think you learn an awful lot about someone by having a friendship on-line with someone sharing the ups and downs and serious and hilarious moments of life.  Well one in particular I only knew by name and sight was there.  We became fast friends on-line.  She didn't disappoint.  She was exactly like I expected.  Or maybe not.  I think a lot better in fact.  I rue the fact I didn't get a picture of her with us or our children.  But there may be another opportunity somehow this coming year.

But I do have a picture!

Do you see those sweet faces?  They are part of the cleaning crew.  Yes, they are young.  Yes, they are dressed to the nines or tens.  But they have been willing helpers now for many years.  Well not that littlest one.  She's nothing but trouble with a lot of sweetness and her mother will tell you as much.   We have job security in our bathroom-cleaning chores.  And we love it right down to the septic system.  Well maybe not quite.  It is tolerable to do though.  Because I have these two dear friends of mine in there with me.  These two are the ones I mentioned that are in my back yard.  Well not quite.  But I do get to see them throughout the year.  They have children the same ages as ours.  We are trudging through the trenches of motherhood together.  And they mean more to me than I could say.
Don't tell Lisi.  I dropped her off at the new kennel spot that is just over the hill.  And besides a fleeting thought on Thursday, never thought of her again until we nearly reached the county line.  She's glad to be home.  And lets out this bizarre purring sound out of her throat when I walk by.  So maybe she missed me more than I did her.

A Google search just hit this morning from Brisbane, CA looking for "corporate Monday musings".  I'm hoping I brought some humor to a dull conference room somewhere far west of here.  But I doubt it.

Son #1 was researching the Porche Cayman R on-line before breakfast.  I'm not certain he'd be able to buy it with his measly allowance that I mostly forget to give.

Well I'm overflowing.  With thoughts.  Feelings of the heart.  Laundry piles.  And bread dough that needs to get into pans....

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Musings

Ok.  I'm busy.  But I love you all and realize your Mondays would not be complete without a muse or two.  Or not.  But did you know what?  The Chairman's Wife must be wildly popular all over the world.  Why you ask?  Well I did that wee post about 9/11 and how it impacted me personally.  I check my feeder a few times/week to make sure someone isn't stalking me and found a bunch of hits.  They were from places like Italy (American flag we always remember), Tennessee (September 11 2001 pictures), Madrid (Twin towers memories), Texas (beautiful American flag 911) and more.  Isn't that weird?  Really?  Why would this site come up on Google searches?  Because I'm wildly popular?  I think not.

Yesterday, was just one of those moments as a parent where you just do a happy sigh.  We had a wonderful morning as usual.  Then the Chairman had an idea to take us all on this massive hike northwest of here just a wee bit.  The very private and well-groomed trail ran along with a crystal clear creek that turned into a bigger river.  It was wonderful.  The temperature.  The sights of the MYP crawling on logs, discovering perfect spider webs, and catching frogs.  And the dog - well it was the best day ever.  At least in her mind because she doesn't think back very far.  She swam and hiked and kept circling from the first person to the last to make sure we all were together.  And the best part?  Nary a complaint.  Nary a fight.  Nary a broken bone.  It was one of those moments you pictured long before kids on what it would feel like to go out as a family and enjoy life.  Then after homework was all done and we had some time to kill, we headed out in the dark for a bike ride.  As I type this it sounds like the Chairman's Boot Camp.  But it was fun.  Really.

The last few nights we've been sleeping without covers... on the window.  You see I ordered a new roman shade.  It looks lovely in every way.  I tore down the dilapidated shade that was on.  Needed to have an extra person on the other end so we can install the new.  But we've been busy hiking and such, so the new one hasn't gotten up on the window.  Now if you read your lunar calendar you might notice that we've been having some real moon action on perfectly clear nights.  No window covering and full moons don't make for dark rooms.  So I've been waking up with the neighbor's rooster the past three mornings.  Ugh.

And so today will be busy.  And tomorrow will be busy and the rest of the week will be just plain awesome.  But first, I must get busy....

Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Our newspaper is running a series on the events of September 11, 2001.  It brings back a flood of memories about that fateful day where the course of this country was altered.  Life would never be the same.  And yet, life is still the same.

When massive events such as this happen, we always remember exactly the place and time we heard about it.  For me it was an ordinary day.  It was a Tuesday.  I was busy getting our little family ready to head off for our annual church convention.  I happened to be ironing.  The phone rang.  It was a good friend of mine.  She said, "did you hear the news?".  I thought it might be about someone we knew that had a baby or died.  No, I responded.  "Linda, get to your computer and look."  Then she said something about planes and fire and scary things and got off the phone.  I rushed to the basement where our computer was at and got it going.  I saw the unspeakable tragedy.  The second plane crashed into the second tower.  The Pentagon crash.  And finally, the Pennsylvania one.  It was horrible and sad.  I wondered briefly if this was 'it'.  The end of the cozy world as we knew it.  But yet, there was a peace I felt.  The world isn't in our hands, it is in His.

I felt an incredible urgency to fly a flag.  I drove to several stores before I found one with a pole attachment.  I carefully got it drilled into our porch pillar.  And I hung up Old Glory.  I did it just because I love my country and I wanted others to know it too.  Since that day, we have always had a flag flying in front of our home.  Why you ask?  Because I love how it looks.  I love the soft flutter.  I love the colors.  And again, I love our country.

Ten years is a lot of time when you have young children.  Here is what our little family looked like in September of '01.  Daughter #2 wasn't even a twinkle in our eyes yet.

Look at these adorable faces.

So the following day we headed up to our favorite grounds.  The kind servant chose the first hymn.  "Lord we rest in peace abiding..."  I will never sing that without remembering....  remembering when I looked down the bench to see the Chairman.  He was our rock.  Remembering those little trusting faces that had their life in front of them.  And remembering that peace can overcome any tragedy....

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pioneer Woman

A lifetime Many years ago, I sat at a cubicle in an ivory tower in downtown Minneapolis.  I had a job that I considered good.  I had made it.  Was utilizing my college education and having fun doing what I did.  If you would have told me in those days when I was walking around in a navy suit attending to important business that I would some day have a day like today was, I wouldn't have believed you.  Even for a minute.

Today I was a pioneer woman.  No, not that Pioneer Woman.  I'm not nearly as creative.  Not nearly so talented.  And not nearly so good with a camera.  But a pioneer woman is what I feel like.  Why you ask?  (Glad you asked!)

Well first, my wheat mill came in.  Not just any wheat mill.  I'm talking about the L'Equip NutriMill.  Sounds pretty fancy, eh?  Well it is.  I read the instructions completely.  Watched a You Tube video telling about its features.  Got down to business and voila!  (or VIOLA as daughter #3 has been saying lately)...
Fresh-ground, whole wheat bread that's light as a feather!

Well just making bread a pioneer woman doesn't make.  How about making sure our home is cozy this winter!  That only can come about by an assortment of phone calls to find the best deal on the best woodpile. And so it was handily delivered early this morning and (sticking with the same theme here)... voila!

My #1 assistant wasn't so handy with assisting in the stacking.  In fact, most of  the time she was doing this.
At least she's cute when she's doing it.

Now off to other tasks to attend.  Like plucking tomatoes off of weighed-down vines.  And taking a walk.  With my assistant.  That wasn't so assisting...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Monday Musings

Oh wait, it's Tuesday.  But it feels like Monday.  And I am not clever enough to figure out some witty Tuesday title.

I saw this cartoon last week in the paper.  Then about an hour later I happened to venture to the nearest Wal-Mart to pick up a couple notebooks I missed on the school supplies list.  And I saw a lady in there that was very, very super-smart.  Goodness gracious.  I won't say more.
I just feel so happy.  Maybe it's the vitamin D I take daily.  But I'm not dreading fall/winter like I used to.  Think I'm finally going to enjoy all the seasons.  But don't ask me some dark day in February.

I'm happy we had a great past weekend.  I'm happy we saw people we love on Saturday working hard to make a place ready for very special days ahead.  I'm happy for Sunday and for all that brings.  I'm happy for a Labor Day in which I labored not.  We enjoyed a day with a niece that used to be a wispy little thing with white-blonde hair that now invites us to her and her wonderful husband's cozy farmstead for fun and family time.  I'm happy that we had a cook-out over open flames.  I'm happy we got to walk to the river.  I'm happy Lisi got to experience doggy-nirvana with her favorite golden-friend on a sandbar on the Wisconsin river.  I'm happy we got daughter #1 back from her venture to another state.  I missed her.  And for some reason after only a couple days, she looks taller and older.

I'm happy my wheat grinder is on its way!  I finally broke down and just payed the piper.  A good deal on-line and fresh whole wheat bread will be soon rising in the oven.  I'm happy for many bags of pesticide wheat is in the basement ready to be broken down into flour.  Goodness.  I sound like a granola cruncher.  Well, maybe I am since a couple pans are cooling on the island as I type.

I'm happy for more tomatoes than we can consume.  And I'm happy the MYP willingly shared them with neighbors.

Maybe this is enough happiness.  I'm not happy about the mound of clothes that are begging to be tossed into the washer.  But I am happy for the people that wear them!

There is one thing I'm not happy about.  It is the fact that I didn't use my camera all weekend.  And there are pictures I'd love to have beyond in my memory.

Is it really Tuesday?

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I'm not good with transitions.  With change.  And so begins another school year.  With all the frustrations that come with motherhood also comes the feeling of watching your heart go away (x3) on a school bus.  They'll do well.  I'll do fine.  And I'll be incredibly happy to see their beautiful faces when they appear again in seven hours.

It is so fascinating on how different boys and girls are.  The girls spent at least 20 minutes each trying to decide what perfect something to wear on the first day.  So as they were up there discussing such important matters, I asked Son #1, "have you thought a lot about what you're going to wear tomorrow?"  He looked at me (insert a tone of sarcasm here) and said, "are you kidding me?"  Boys.  Gotta love 'em.

The only major crisis of the morning is that we are missing one lunch box.  The paper bag did the trick.

But it was sad.  This morning in the laundry room, I folded up the beach towels for probably the last time in a good long while.  The silence in the house is deafening (save for the snoring dog in the porch).  The summer of 2011 is no more.  But we had a great one.  And we have much to look forward to as always.

Now no excuses from The Chef.  The fridge can be cleaned.  The kitchen floor washed down thoroughly.  And the garden's produce plucked.  Because I'm alone with no extra people to feed.  No fights to settle.  And no hugs to give... until the bus returns.