Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Could this be love? (er, of a materialistic nature)

Yes, I'm Amish. Ok, I'm not. I'm finally admitting it. I'm simply a computer-illiterate child of computer-literate parents with computer-literate siblings. That's why I think my dream may have just come true:

Will I ever own one? Not likely. Will I insist on going to the Apple Store so I can see it when it comes out? Um, probably. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is it time for a change?

Do you have the winter blues? Are you looking for more sun than not, fallen snow that doesn't melt until Spring and friends close by? Well, do I have the house for you!

Without giving out our exact location (I hope) I'll simply say that this house is close enough to ours that we could reasonably call ourselves neighbors...

According to our county's website, this house is on the market for about 60k under tax value. That's quite a steal, in my opinion.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To Beat the Clock

It's nap time in the Archibald home, or was until about 3o seconds ago when I decided to start a blog entry. I knew I was running short on time, but had to chuckle when I heard the first sounds of wakeful life as soon as I opened my laptop. Go figure.

Just thought I'd share that I've had a truly wonderful day. After dropping Mark off at the office, the kiddos and I picked up "Ah-geek" (Iain's version of Lydia's Godmother) and off we all went to IKEA. We spent the better part of 3 or so hours wandering and rewandering through that delicious store. Yes, delicious. It's a feast for the eyes.

After successfully extracting ourselves, having purchased only what we intended to buy (unless you count a 99 cent lint brush, which I do not) I came home, plopped the kiddos down for naps and headed off the gym while Ah-geek stayed and held down the fort. THANK YOU! I watched parts of 2 Duggar episodes while working up a sweat and returned home.

Ah-geek and I enjoyed an omelet apiece for a late lunch and then she headed out. I ate a bite or two of chocolate and headed for the shower. There is nothing better than a hot shower...esp. when the water doesn't turn cold 3 minutes later. Often that happens. I have trained myself to enjoy a snappy quick hot shower and jump out while the water is still hot rather than lingering until the 4th minute when the hot water runs out and I become wet and cold and shivery. Fortunately, my hairdryer that I left in MI over Christmas has been returned so I have that as a back-up for immediate heat if I miscalculate the amount of hot water I have left. A cold shivery end to a shower followed by hours of cold wet hair is not a pleasant experience.

As you may have noticed, that one peep has been followed by silence, and I have completed a completely random blog entry for your enjoyment. Off to start dinner. What a day :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Of Yeast and...

Having recently acquired a beautiful Food Processor (FP) with a contraption and buttons that knead dough, I decided it was time to try my hand at a yeast bread...again. yikes. I've attempted a number of yeast breads in my 4 years of marriage. In all these attempts, I don't recall a success. What I do remember is hours of work and mess and waiting and more work and flour everywhere and at the end of all that, a rubbery underbaked non-risen lump of breadish substance. To put it bluntly, yeast bread and I are not friends.

As already mentioned, one of the reasons I desperately wanted this FP was that it removed me from the grotesque and laborious process of kneading. Yes, Amish though I will ever claim to be, I must admit that God knew what He was doing when he gave me life during this gadget-filled era.

While grocery shopping last week I managed to muster up enough courage to pick up 2 packages of yeast. For those frequent bakers out there, you know that a package is actually 3 packets in a row. How much each of those packets contains was heretofore a mystery to me. Thank you, yeast sellers of the world for simplifying and thereby confusing something so important. To my knowledge, there are no other baking items that are sold in individual portions for the "ease" (read: confusion) of the inexperienced baker who has to use that nifty invention called a measuring spoon/cup for EVERYTHING else that goes in a baked product. Well, complaining aside, I bought them.

Yesterday was THE day. I was going to put my beautiful FPs kneading thingy to work. Gloriously, both kids were sleeping and I knew I had a couple of hours free from motherly duties. I settled on cinnaomon rolls figuring that even if they ended up like my previous yeast bread attempts, at least they would still be sweet and cinnamon-y. In otherwords, I would still eat them.

Breaking the Cardinal Rule of cooking - make sure you have all the ingredients BEFORE you start -I realized too late that I was short on flour...about 1/2 short. Oops. My cupboards are full of an odd assortment of flour and flour-like substances. I quickly nixed the whole wheat option. I'm sure 1/2 whole wheat wouldn't have been too bad, but thinking I must have a better option, I kept hunting. That's when I came across an unopened package of wheat-free, gluten-free flour that I had bought for Iain a while back. It claimed a 1:1 substitution for wheat flour. Perfect.

Prior to adding the flour, I had to add the dreaded ingredient...the YEAST. The recipe, from my mother, stated "2 yeast cakes." Looking at my little row of yeast packets and knowing there was nothing resembling a "cake" inside, I picked up the phone and called my mom. Dad answered. Mom was not home. What I should've done next is turned to the internet, but no, I had a vague notion that the package would tell me. Low and behold, it stated clearly that 3 packets of yeast (1 package) equalled 1 two-ounce yeast cake. Problem solved. I had 6 packets which would equal 2 yeast cakes.

Looking at my recipe and my 6 packets of yeast, this seemed to me to be a great quantity of yeast, but I, the inexperienced and wounded yeast-baker, figured that I should probably err on the side of caution and add all the yeast that I thought was being called for rather than risk the alternative, with which I was too well acquainted.

In went 6 yeast packets, followed by a harmonious mixture of gluten-filled and gluten-free flours. I pressed the dough button. Hey presto, my mass became dough. Hurray!...until I took off the lid. PEEE-YOU! Something didn't smell right. Well, it's not like it was rancid (though that was my first guess, but the dates were all fine) but it certainly didn't smell like the cinammon roll dough of my youth. Nor did it taste like it.

By this time I was chatting on the phone with my sister, Heidi, who had by then suggested that perhaps a "yeast cake" equaled a single packet of yeast (which, by the way, was later confirmed by my mom) rather than the erroneous 2 oz yeast cake substitution mentioned on the back of the package (no doubt put there by yeast sellers who are trying to make a tidy profit off of inexperienced bakers who don't know what a "cake" is.) I explained the whole flour substitution to Heidi and how this mass just didn't smell right. While talking, I reached for the gluten-free package to determine exactly what "flour" I had just made my dough with. Ingredient number one: GARBANZO BEAN flour. Need I say more? fava bean flour was also mentioned.


Instantly I knew exactly what I was smelling/tasting. I was making bean-flavored cinnamon rolls. With about 3x too much yeast. So much for a healing-of-memories baking session.

Looking at my rising mass of sweet bean dough, I knew I had 2 choices: forge ahead or chuck the thing in the garbage. Knowing that the hard part was behind me, I figured I might as well perservere too the end and if it was all as bad as I feared, the garbage would still be standing in the corner as a willing recipient of my hard work.

A bit of melted butter and a veritable ton of cinnamon/sugar (yes, I was trying to drown the bean flavor) a bit more rising and I threw them in the oven. 15 minutes later, out they came, looking absolutely beatiful and promising to be delicious morsels of tastiness...a promise I knew they couldn't possibly keep.

Iain and I tasted them while they were still warm. Iain enjoyed them, but then again, I don't think he's ever had cinnamon rolls so bean or no bean, he would love them. I on the other hand, definitely detected the bean flavor. Fortunately, post-oven the flavor was significantly reduced. Today, a day later, either my taste buds have completely failed me, or the cooled and rested rolls have assumed a near-normal flavor. The only significant evidence they give of the bean flour is their crumbly texture. As for the yeast, my mom further explained the yeast needs gluten to work, and using gluten-free flour probably wouldn't produce an adequate rise. Therefore, my overuse of yeast most likely worked in my favor.

Thank you FP for inspiring me to plunge into a yeast education. And thank you to my mom for returning my call.

Friday, January 8, 2010

All About Iain

Iain, who will be two at the end of this month, has recently developed a preference for nakedness (diaper excepted, thankfully!) Right now it is a frigid, though cloudless and beautiful, 1 degree and Iain is prancing around the first floor in only his night diaper which is sagging it's way down to his knees. Granted, I do have the electric fireplace on and he occasionally stops in front of the heat-blower and stands there for a moment warming himself before running off to grab another Cheerio.

Iain has quite an extensive vocabularly these days, though he has yet to string words together into sentences. He loves to learn the word for anything and everything and will frequently point to something and speak jibberish until we tell him the correct word. Other times, it's just a guessing game to try and figure out what he is trying to say to us, and we frequently find ourselves listing off possible words that sound vaguely like what he is saying, until he says "yeah" or "yeth" and nodds that we've landed on the word he was trying to say. The problem with this is that Iain is a yes man. I could ask him if he wants to eat cement for lunch or sleep in a big blue balloon and he will say "yeah!" Pretty much the only things he consistently says "no" to are getting dressed, diaper changes and nap/bed time (unless he's tired, in which case he readily agrees).

He is also trying to master on/off and up/down which he frequently mixes up. For instances, this morning he was trying to unzip his pajamas and repeating "on"....

Oh my! He just came over to me, patted his diaper, said "poop" and then faked a grunt - clearly not actually pooping. What a ham. I love this kid!

He has mastered "Mommy, Daddy, baby" however, he refuses to even attempt "Lydia." I know he can't say the L sound, so that's not too much of a surprise. I suppose "baby" will have to do for now.

Speaking of which, when Mark and I picked him up from childcare at the Y the other day, there was my little guy's guy giving a baby doll a toy bottle. When I called him over, he looked at me and reluctantly put down the doll and put the bottle in the play microwave.

He loves to keep me posted on all the various vehicles that drive past our house. With the snow we've been getting, this includes large snowplows, which he calls tractors, or "tah-tet." All large trucks and buses are "bus," as is any vehicle he doesn't know the name of. Occasionally he will substitute "ruuuuuum" (his version of a vroom noise) for "bus."

This has been a fun post to write; I don't think I do this enough, even if all you faithful readers find it a bit boring to read about my son. Thankfully for you, that night diaper is now sagging its way closer to his ankles and desperately needs to be changed. Poor Iain will soon be clothed and miserable. :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Staying Warm In 2010

Eight hours after arriving, the heating company is finally pulling out of our driveway. They spent the day installing our new (and did I mention FREE!!! - I love my county!) 95% efficient furnace. "Buh bye," as Iain would say.

Today was a relatively warm Minnesotan day, hitting a high of 15 degrees (feels like 6). It was a good day to have no furnace for 8 hours, wouldn't you agree? So, one might ask, how do you stay warm for 8 hours with no heat when a temperature somewhere between 6 and 15 degrees is trying to creep its way into your home? Why, bake of course! Yes, turn on the trusty (electric) oven and bake your heart out. Apparently I have a small heart for baking, since I only baked one item, though admittedly, brownies almost made an appearance during the 7th hour since I was getting cold, again. Mark dissuaded me by explaining that I could simply turn on the oven and not actually bake anything. I still think anything - esp. no heat - is a good excuse for brownies, but perhaps another day. ...I should also give ample props to our electric fireplace which was our other main heat source for the day.

Back to the one item I did bake - I'm afraid I may have made a stomach or two grumble as I fried up bacon and onions for some DELICIOUS cheese, bacon, onion quick bread. Yes, bacon, cheese and bread. What more could you want? Mark was nearly speechless with delight and wanted to know how in the world I came up with such a brilliant idea - well, first I had the idea and then I looked it up in my cookbook and followed the recipe. Sneaky, I know. As for the poor grumbly stomachs [of the furnace guys], no, I didn't offer them any. Maybe I should've...and maybe I should've also offered some to the officers in the 2 police cars sitting in the church parking lot driveway directly opposite our house. A speed trap, no doubt. Mark suggested that perhaps they were staking out our house, but something tells me even with 3 heating company vans parked at our house, we're just not that interesting...perhaps its the "pumpkin people" next door (that a story for another day). The police left as soon as the children came out for recess, or as I put it: "Make the cops go away, send the children out to play." Thank you, please hold your applause until the end.

On a completely different note, you may have noticed that the title of this post is "Staying Warm In 2010." I'm guessing that if you're like me, when you read, you "hear" what you're reading - so, what did 2010 sound like as you read it?


Is this year, 2010, pronouced:

A. Two-thousand-ten


B. Twenty-ten

Please let me know. My mother is adamant that it is B, and while I have to admit that twenty-ten is what my brain tells me when I read it, I still think that 9 years of saying Two-thosand -xx can't just instantly morph into Twenty-xx....can it?