Monday, September 30, 2013

Pa, I’m fixin' to bake bread

I started baking our own bread when we were first married.  I used my Kitchen-Aid mixer with the bread hook and we were pretty much spoiled from then on.  There’s nothing like homemade bread but it involves a lot of TIME.  That is, unless you use a bread machine.

Remember bread machines?  I bet you or someone in your extended family still has one of these relics they received as an unwanted Christmas gift stored somewhere in the attic or basement. Probably next to the yogurt maker, the air popper and the gelatin molds. 

I remember when we first got one and were so amazed that you could dump all the ingredients into the pan, set the timer and at whatever time you liked, you had a hot loaf of fresh-baked bread.  It was almost as mind-blowing as the first time I saw someone cook bacon in a microwave oven.  I also remember, back in the day, when realtors told people to set their bread machines so they were on the ‘bake’ cycle when prospective buyers came to look at their property… it increased sales because the smell of baking bread created a homey feel that buyers couldn’t resist.  Who knows what impact bread machines could have had on the recent slump in home sales?

There are lots of kitchen appliances that enjoy a burst of popularity when they’re first introduced but it doesn’t last.  Think of your mom’s electric fondue pot or maybe you had a Fry Daddy (we didn’t but I was  always jealous of my friend whose family made their own donuts).  I may be the only one but I never quit using the bread machine.  Pizza dough, cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning and much of our bread for toast and sandwiches comes from that little fat workhorse.  It is just SO EASY.

Over the years we’ve purchased several of these babies, some better than others.  We’ve even been given a ‘used’ model from somebody who heard we were still living like Laura Ingalls Wilder and making our own bread.  They found it in their garage, still in the box, and decided somebody might as well be using it – {snicker} - they sure weren’t going to! 

We’ve tested lots of recipes and adapted several that we make over and over.  So in case you find your old bread machine under a pile of stuff for the Goodwill and decide to give it a second chance, here are a couple of our favorite recipes.  Be sure to use bread flour for all recipes in your bread machine – that will give you the dense, chewy texture you want. 

Honey Wheat Bread
  ~  Printable Recipe

This makes a light, high-rising bread.  You can play around with adding different ingredients - these are the ones we like.  Add the ingredients in the order shown here and set machine to ‘Basic’ or ‘Whole Wheat’ cycle.

¾ cup warm water
3 Tblsp olive oil
1 egg
2 Tblsp honey
1 tsp salt
1½ cups white bread flour
1½ cups whole wheat bread flour
2 Tblsp wheat berries
2 Tblsp sesame seeds
1½ tsp yeast

Cinnamon Raisin Bread  ~  Printable Recipe

The smell of this bread baking in your kitchen is heavenly!  Add the ingredients in the order shown here and set machine to ‘Basic’ or ‘Sweet’ cycle.

11/8 cups warm water
2 Tblsp olive oil
2 Tblsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour (I use ½ white and ½ wheat)
1 Tblsp cinnamon
1½ tsp yeast
When the machine beeps, it’s time to add:
1 cup raisins

English Muffin Bread
  ~  Printable Recipe

This makes a chewy bread with the flavor and texture of English muffins.  The top often sinks so don’t be surprised or think something is wrong!  Add the ingredients in the order shown here and set machine to ‘Basic’ cycle. 

1¼ cups warm water
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
3 cups bread flour (I use ½ white and ½ wheat)
1½ tsp yeast

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Links I Liked

I Didn’t Love My Wife When We Got Married
Love is constantly sold as an emotion we have before we’re married.  An emotion that, once had, somehow magically stays within a marriage forever. I can’t imagine a bigger lie.

7 Habits of a Hot Marriage in the Midst of Monotony
Marriage is hard hard hard work. We never arrive and kick up our feet and ride the waves of hot monogamy. It takes faithful, committed, selfless habit-forming work in the middle of a boring routine.

The Real Love Stories
There are men who wear old Wranglers and drive rusting mini-vans to pick up the kids after piano lessons.  And pick up broccoli because it's on sale this week.

My Grocery List
@320 Sycamore
I thought this was genius!  Somehow I still don’t do a great job of making lists on my phone so this makes sense to me. 
Call me low-tech with a high-tech twist!

The Sweet Spot
I get it now. They were right. Everyone who said it would go by so fast. It's happening to me. It's whizzing by. When my three kids were very little, the days were so long and my world felt very small and sometimes very lonely. If the days were long, the nights were longer. The hour before my husband got home from work? It took three days to get through that hour.

If you haven't watched this yet, you must!

And in homage to National Coffee Day tomorrow, enjoy these amazing latte creations…

latte-coffee-art-kazuki-yamamoto-george_10g-twitter-12  latte-coffee-art-kazuki-yamamoto-george_10g-twitter-2

Thursday, September 19, 2013

That Wheel

I bet you’re a lot like me. 

I’d like God to change me – in an instant.  Well, maybe over a day or two.

I need to be much more patient with frustrating people.  I’d like to give a lot of grace to those who don’t deserve it – like I don’t.  I want my words to be less critical and more encouraging.  I want to be thoughtful and generous instead of self-absorbed and protective of my time.

I’m reading in Jeremiah in the mornings, always amazed at how living God’s word is!  This week I’m reading about the Potter and the clay.


“Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” 
So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. 
Then the Lord gave me this message: “O Israel {Becky}, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand.”
   Jeremiah 18:2-6
I’ve heard many sermons on the potter and the clay and I’ve read this passage many times.  But as I read it again today I saw something new. 
While I know the potter’s hands shape the clay and make it into what he wants it to be, there is something else at work on the clay: the wheel.  That spinning surface the clay sits on. 

The potter could certainly make a clay creation without the wheel.  He could simply hold the clay in his hands and “freeform” a pot.  But he has something specific in mind when he uses the wheel.

The potter uses the wheel to make something that can only be formed on that surface.  It spins and presses the clay against the potter’s hands, allowing him to mold the clay into the finished product he planned.

So what is the wheel in Jeremiah’s illustration?  I think it could be our circumstances – everything we're experiencing that presses us into God’s molding fingers.  It’s what God uses to make us into people He can actually use…

…a vessel set apart and useful for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work. 
2 Timothy 2:21 AMP


Here’s the deal – the potter has control of the wheel.  Even if it’s motor-driven, the potter controls the speed and the spin.

And God controls my circumstances.  He uses every single one as part of His master design to make me more like Him.  Whatever it is I’m facing day to day, I can know He has decided it's useful to press me into His hands again and again.  Around and around.

So I have to ask myself:  What circumstances is God using right now to shape me?  What is He using in your life? 

  • A prayer that hasn’t yet been answered in what seems like forever
  • A spouse who looks at things completely differently than you do
  • A relative who requires more than you have to give
  • A health concern that keeps you awake at night
  • A problem that doesn’t appear to have a solution

I hate hard things.  But I’m so encouraged today to know that God has something in mind in our circumstances.  He’s using every single problem, difficulty and obstacle; every relationship and encounter to press us into His hands.  He is smart enough to know exactly what He’s doing and skillful enough to make us into something useful.

That gives a whole new way to look at hard things:  Okay God, how are You going to use this tough thing?  It must be important in shaping us or we wouldn’t be experiencing it.  This pressure we feel can move us to You.  If we can only remember that You control the wheel.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Off the bottom

I am completely scraping the bottom for blog ideas.  I think my problem is that writing a good post would mean actually concentrating and being thoughtful but right now I am feeling much too scatterbrained and thought-less.  So you get scraps and miscellany.  I’m sorry.
No, you didn’t forget your reading glasses.  This is an example of my photography skilz.  You’re welcome.

Then there is this.  I keep walking past it and it mocks me.

We have slowly but surely been replacing the old, dusty drapes in our house with new window coverings.  News flash:  window coverings are not cheap!  So while I wanted to use a 'Duette'-type shade for this slider, I went with these Ikea panels.  And I like them!  But, as you can see, they need to be hemmed.  News flash:  I do not sew. 

When I was in Home-Ec (**you may need to Google that if you’re not a Baby Boomer or older), we had to make culottes (**ditto) for the sewing portion.  I agonized over that project and after finally turning it in, my teacher gave it back to me saying I had forgotten to put in the zipper.  What?!  I’d spent hours on the dumb zipper!  But I turned that waist around and around and it appeared she was right – no zipper.  Completely baffled, I think I threw it down and that’s when I saw the zipper… inserted upside down from the hem and up the side of the right leg. 

So I am hoping the curtain fairy comes one night and those panels are magically hemmed!  But I’ll probably resort to this:


Ikea knows that people don’t sew any more so they display this iron-on hemming tape right next to their drapery panels!  I just have to make myself cut about 18” off the bottom of the panels then iron a hem in.  I’m still hoping for the curtain fairy.

We had a good and busy weekend with our nieces.  There was baking and art work and Anne of Green Gables and yes, even Legos – which was the first thing they asked to do!


The girls were thrilled to see the pumpkin vine taking over the back yard.  They tried to count the pumpkin starts but gave up after about 60.


I am really concerned about how we’ll get rid of all those pumpkins.  I thought I bought a packet of seeds that grew into those small, ornamental gourd-type pumpkins.  Apparently not.


Now I’m considering a corn maze, pumpkin slingshots and a petting zoo (for an additional charge).  Come by and help us get rid of the pumpkins enjoy a great fall family activity!

Again, I’m sorry for the complete lack of creativity on the blog lately.  And the blurry photos.  I’m a first-time grandma who is living far away from her grandbaby.  You’ll just have to put up with it, I guess!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Off the top of my head

  • Long-distance grandparenting is not for sissies.  I live 175 miles from our kids and from my grandbaby but it feels like it might as well be 17500.  How I miss this little one. (I do get photos and/or videos pretty much every day, which is more than I can say for my mom when her grandbabies were little and far away!)

  • Often while you are basking in the glow of being a grandparent you also find yourself making tough decisions for your granddaughter’s great-grandfather.

  • This weekend we have my nieces and I am scrambling for ideas to do with a 9 and a 10 year old.  Legos aren’t going to cut it much longer!  I sure am thankful for Pinterest boards titled ‘Crafts for Ten Year Olds’.

  • There are a lot more options on the ‘Things to Do With Kids in Portland Before They Grow Up’ list than I would have guessed! 

  • The last time these girls spent the night they planted 3 pumpkin seeds.  Only one sprouted and grew.  This is what it looks like today:
  • I’m afraid it may wind its way up the sides of the house and into our windows if we’re not careful.  So far there is only one actual pumpkin but the girls counted over 60 blossoms so I’ll be bringing in a hay wagon and making cider if you want to bring your kindergarten class for a field trip to the pumpkin patch next month!

  • I planted my porch pots in 97° heat yesterday.  I am a true Oregonian.  I wilt right along with the asters and mums.

  • In other garden news, my impatiens were beautiful this year, planted in two pots under a tree.

  • But I have a few mysteries you might be able to help me solve.  Anyone know what those pale purple crocus are that pop up every fall then die back almost immediately?  They remind me of ghost flowers.  There is no green on the stems or leaves – all white-ish lavender.  Ugly.

  • And why did this rhododendron wilt and look like this all summer?  It was perfect last year.  It’s in the shade most of the day.  (Ignore the peonies that are planted too close to the shrub – those will be moved in October.)


  • Now go and have a pumpkin spice latte if you haven’t had your first one of the season!  Might need to get it iced!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Links I Liked


One Second on the Internet
10 years ago Skype, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, Dropbox, and Instagram didn't exist.  20 years ago there were only 130 websites total, Google wasn't even around yet, and you had to pay for an email account through an ISP.  30 years ago there was no internet.
A fascinating (and possibly a little frightening) look at what we’re all doing in cyberspace.  Every second!

Dealing With Doubters and the Quest for Proof
Regardless of how people respond to the reality of Jesus Christ, continue to sow seed, spread truth, and field questions. Journey with the searcher and (respectfully) spar with the skeptic. Don't feel bad if not every one accepts your message.

What Three Years of Chasing a God-Sized Dream Has Taught Me
I know that I link to Kristen’s blog often but it’s because she somehow manages to write straight from her heart and her emotions are so completely relatable.  I loved this post because it inspires me not to be afraid of what God asks me to do.  Kristen and her husband followed God’s lead and began a ministry to pregnant girls in Kenya.  They weren’t missionaries.  They didn’t have financial backers.  But they had God making the way to do what He called them to do.  Kristen writes:

I don’t know what your God-sized dream looks like. I don’t know if it’s in your rearview mirror or if it looms large and scary ahead. But don’t doubt for a minute, He has one for you.

Don’t be afraid to chase it.

Here are two videos to end with.  I have an idea why these musical flashmob videos are so mesmerizing for me to watch...  I like to see the masses of people milling through a mall transform into smiling individuals sharing a wonderful experience!

This is an oldie but one of my favorites. Grab a tissue:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

That list

The annual Beloit College Mindset List is out and I always look forward to reading it.  This is a list that reflects the worldview of the current class of college freshman and it’s always so interesting (and a bit shocking to this old soul) to read it.  I’ll share a few of my favs but you can read the entire list here.

For this group of students, born in 1995 and who will be the graduating class of 2017…

  • GM means food that is Genetically Modified.
  • Having a chat has seldom involved talking.
  • A tablet is no longer something you take in the morning.
  • Plasma has never been just a bodily fluid.
  • With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address.
  • Their favorite films have always been largely, if not totally, computer generated.
  • They have never really needed to go to their friend’s house so they could study together.
  • Their parents’ car CD player is sooooo ancient and embarrassing.

Did you notice how many of these involve technology?  That’s no surprise, I guess.  It does make me wonder how much this generation is missing out on when it comes to real live relationships.  But now that I think about it, I enjoyed some technology too!


Monday, September 2, 2013


Hadley Rae was born a week early…


Her grandparents are overjoyed. 


We got to spend a week with little Miss H and her parents, holding and rocking and changing diapers. 

I love her.


So does her papa.  (Or Bebop or G-pa or whatever she ends up calling him.)  Doesn’t she look tiny in his hands?

I could not get enough of her baby faces and sounds…  Squints and blinks, hiccups and snuffles.  I sat and watched her sleep, listened to her breathe and stroked her skin and hair for hours. 


And then we had to say goodbye.  Three hours away has never seemed so far.


Any guesses on how long until we go back?

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