Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hello, November.

This is our very first fire in our new home.

This is what crawled out of the fireplace right after hubbs lit it. 

Wait.. Let me backtrack. That was what crawled out of the fireplace and across the kitchen floor running for its life -  
after I put the glass over it to try to show it as a fine specimen of "See! This is the kind of spider I keep finding in the house!"-
 and after we realized that when hubbs thought he was opening the fireplace flue, he was really closing it and our living room was promptly filling up with smoke-
 and after I opened a few doors and windows to let the smoke out-
 and after we learned that (thankfully, in this instance) we don't have a smoke detector in the front half of our house-
 and after I tried to pick up the fan to point towards the ceiling to help push the smoke out-
and after the fan fell off its post and out of my hands and rolled across the kitchen floor and scooted the glass-of-spider over a crevice in the tile just big enough for said spider to crawl out of and free from the glass-
and after hubbs shouted from the back porch through the open kitchen window that said spider crawled under the fan lying postless on the kitchen floor-
and after i ripped the plug out of the wall so not to let said spider hit-the-fan, as it were-
and after i moved the fan away from said spider only to realize that the fan had squished its legs and it was dead-
and after I apologized to dead spider for "taking him out like that"-
and after I picked up the fan and replaced it on its post and turned it on again-
and after i looked down to notice the dead spider had moved-
and after I realized that said spider had two legs ripped off and was desperately crawling in circles with the four good legs on his left side-
and after I panicked and stomped on it.

His name was Charlie. Sorry, Charlie.

 And this is hubbs outside watching this whole thing happen.

This is also how I learned that, despite his caveman propensity to 'make fire' and his uncanny ability to grill anything over charcoal, hubbs has no clue how to make a fire in a fireplace. 

This is also how I realized that setting up a fireplace is, currently, the most useful thing I learned in adolescent weekday chores.

This is also how we managed to get rid of all of our junkmail. 

And all of this is why my life can never be dull.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

the What I Learned Today starts here.

i like to share stupid things that hit me like a ton of bricks, and set off the light bulb above my head to either illuminate or explode. things like: today, i learned that there is no lawn fairy. if there were, she'd be losing an epic battle with the weed fairy.

Thursday at school, i learned that MTV has completely ruined young minds. In my cognitive neuroscience class, (yes sounds smart, doesn't it?) the professor asked "What is the best TV show out today?" as part of an example to illustrate something complex. A girl in the second row shouted "Teen Mom!" And everyone laughed. Even the professor. Rightfully so. A little while later, the professor was talking about tests being done on comatose patients to see if their brain is really responsive. The same girl raised her hand to ask a question. It was, and i quote, "Do you know anything about that guy who is supposed to be, like, our time's Einstein? He lives in a wheelchair and has a computer that reads his mind and talks for him?" as a way to infer that the computer technology already exists to "read minds"... The professor stared at her blankly while the rest of us were confused. Kindly, a guy sitting in front of her turns around and tells her that she is referring to Stephen Hawking. As we all put two and two together, the class erupts in giggles. And I just thought, "Wow. Teen mom? If you'd been watching Family Guy, you would at least have some inkling as to who Stephen Hawking is." Where was I going with this? I dont know. But did you notice that I started using capitalization as soon as I started talking about school? They're always watching, you know.

So in light of these illuminating moments i'm just going to put them here so i can keep track of them. because someday they'll be worth something. a reference for how not to mow the lawn, for example. it has a few mohawks, but all in all, its shorter than it was before. so that's the point, right?

this week i also learned that birds are breeding in my back yard. the amount of trees between us and our surrounding neighbors is impressive. and there is a hummingbird sitting on the wire above my orange tree! never seen one still before. though he's looking around in every direction each second. maybe its not a hummingbird. but it has a long narrow beak like a hummingbird. i need new glasses. see how these learnings just come right out?

Monday, August 29, 2011

i dont know what to say about this.

i was leaving. in a hurry. flopped my stuff into the back seat. opened up the car door. stuck my right leg in so i could flop my butt in the driver's seat.  in one swinging motion i had flung open the car door, raised my leg and pivoted so that i could get in the car. but as the door opened wider and i got closer to the car, the sunlight poured in and illuminated something small(er-than-a-golfball-but-bigger-than-a-nickel) racing away from the area where my foot was targeting and up toward the steering wheel. my foot was still hovering in the air, about level with the seat, and i was about to lose my balance. i jumped back and gasped for air. i'm sure an "oh my god" came out somewhere in there. it was, really, the sudden motion of the nickel-golfball that startled me. really. it was. till i realized that there was a spider web the size of a dinner plate delicately placed in the space below the steering wheel where my legs would have gone. perfectly facing the opening of the door, so the sunshine illuminated every strand. and the nickel-golfball? a giant spider. NOT a daddy long-legs, either. (i know what you're thinking. exaggeration, you say. it was probably smaller than a fly, you say. F you, I say.)

as soon as it saw my foot hurdling towards its brand new home, it skittered up to the steering wheel, and just sat there, on the steering wheel, on the lower edge closest to the door. it was fat. tan. striped. maybe spotted. fat abdomen. short fat legs. obese, really. a porker. probably ate mcdonalds for dinner last night. and breakfast. and then me for lunch.

and just to show how facebook has ruined me, i stood there for a millisecond and told myself i should take a picture of this monster in my car. but alas, i was too busy gasping for air, flapping my jazz hands and cursing. i looked around to see if there was help. a couple walking across the street. they looked as friendly as my stowaway. "'scuse me sir could you come take care of this for me? and please dont knock me out and steal my car." 

i stumbled a little bit as i talked myself into putting my big-kid pants on and killing it with my sparkly purple flip flop. i still couldn't breathe and almost died when i took my hand off my heart, like it was holding it in place. so i manned up and flicked my shoe at it. i heard a pop like a zit, and it squirted a gob of spider goo at the steering console, and as luck would have it, my wheel was turned slightly to the right, so the goo gobbed up in the big gap that was waiting to catch it. and a leg or two was left on the wheel itself.

so what now? i am NOT driving with goo on my steering wheel. it will drip onto my leg and turn me into some spiderman-reject-crossed-with-sloth-from-the-goonies. so i did what anyone would do. i got my phone out of the backseat and sent a text message to my husband explaining i would be late for lunch because i had an epic battle with a 'giant fucking spider' in my car. i gasped a little more. jazz hands-ed a little more. and then finally walked to the other side of the car.

i opened the glove box, pulled out a napkin and walked back to the driver's side, having left the driver's door wide open. i contemplated the seriousness of the task at hand. i was going to touch giant spider goo with only a napkin protecting my bare skin from spiderman-reject-crossed-with-sloth-from-the-goonies cuties. i folded the napkin a couple of times, thanking all gods that it was one of those giant hefty restaurant napkins so that i could get a good stiff edge on the fold. then i bent down and scooped the goo out of the crack of the steering console, which was glistening so goo-ily in the sunlight. not wanting to cross-contaminate, i looked at the steering wheel to assess the damage there. since it was only a leg or two, i decided it was not worth it to wipe it off with the gooey napkin.

i had to dispose of the napkin, but trash day was not today, so i had no choice but to throw the goo on the ground and shout to the neighbors that may or may not have been watching that i was "sorry to litter but its giant spider goo!" and then promptly stomped on the napkin, cuz, y'know, mazel tov, and all that. then i destroyed the web with my shoe, more jazz hands and panting and cursing, and got in the car and drove to base with my fingertips on the top of the wheel.

hubbs, dear as he is, wiped up the whole steering wheel, floor, and door with a wipey when we got to subway. i am no longer leaving my windows cracked when i park. never again. F that. I'd rather sweat. I'm only thankful that i found and killed it before i even got in the car because i would have died on the freeway if it crawled up my leg while i was driving. its the small things that save the day.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

grow tomatoes, grow!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

our goats...

our goats...

(there, i flipped it for ya, tiff)

wish the dog wasn't so bright... its like basement cat and ceiling dog...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bread v2.0

 Bread v2.0

i followed the same recipe as last time with just a couple of variations:
  • instead of 5c bread flour, I used 3 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups bread flour.
  • instead of canola oil, i used extra virgin olive oil.
Upon first inspection of the dough that came out of the mixer, it was much less blobby than last time. it was quite firm, though a bit tacky. I rolled it out on a floured surface even though the instructions said to use an oiled surface. I kneaded it (that's such an awkward phrase "kneaded it" .. should be "knead' it" or "knud it" or "knade it". just sayin'...)  just a couple of minutes then let it set while I washed out the mixer bowl. I decided to wait to cut the dough in half and let it all rise together. I dried the bowl and sprayed in a fine layer of canola oil, plopped the ball of dough into the bowl and covered it with plastic wrap. 

Tiny little interjection here: There are few things I loathe using in this world; plastic wrap is one of them. Its just not user friendly.

The oven was on at 200 to warm up the kitchen. I set the covered bowl on top of the stove so it could stay warm to rise.  Forget little miss' idea to only let the dough rise 15 minutes, or whatever it was. I let this baby almost  triple in size, then punched it down and tossed it out on a cutting board to knead. I kneaded it for close to five minutes, and then kneaded in a few leaves I plucked from the rosemary plant in my kitchen window.

I sprayed the pizza pan I used last time and put the ball of perfect dough in the center. I was so completely happy with myself. I tried to cut an X in the top of the dough like shown in the recipe, but my knife isn't great, so it was more like ripping a gap in the center.

I spritzed it with water and turned up the oven to 350. baked for about ten minutes, pulled it out slightly and spritzed it with a bit more water, watching it crust and turn brown before my eyes. Bake another ten to fifteen minutes and attempt to repeat the last step. Only...

I realized I forgot to cut the loaf in half. Its as big as my head. A bread-head in my oven. I pulled it out. The tear in the top sort of blew open and the loaf was forcing itself to get wider. It was if Pac Man had an alien try to burst through his mouth and rip his head totally in half.

So I sprayed it again and tossed it back in the oven.

Another ten minutes and it is perfectly golden brown. Giant, but perfectly golden brown. Not remembering exactly how to tell when bread is done (in case its beautiful on the outside and gooey in the center) I stuck a thermometer in it. Isn't that usually how you tell when stuff is done? When the thermometer hit 177 degrees I figured that wasnt much help. I remembered another recipe saying that you should turn the loaf over in your hand and thump the bottom – if it sounds hollow it's done. Melons aren't the only edible drums.

Doubled garbed in oven mits, I flipped that baby over and thimped his belly. Hollow.

This is SO not what I had in mind when I decided to make this today, but my goodness it looks good. Waiting for it too cool a little bit before I eat it with butter. Mmmmmm....

So today's lesson is this: feel free to experiment a little bit, but follow really important steps like how many loaves of bread your recipe should make. If it tells you to cut it in half, by gawd, cut it in half!

Or else you'll get this: 

Monday, January 31, 2011

My First Bread Baking Experience

Okay, so maybe this is my second or third attempt, depending on how you define 'bread'. For Thanksgiving, I successfully made dinner rolls from scratch. For New Year's, I successfully made pizza dough from scratch. This, however, feels like a whole new arena.

I've spent more than two precious hours burning good baking daylight skimming through message boards, recipe websites and watching video after video of how-to's with tons of different recipes and methods. From ten-minute miracle French bread to rise-overnight-bake-it-a-dutch-oven complexities, I was starting to stress out. Wait... Can I take that four-ingredient recipe and bake in this way instead? Is it OK to substitute this for that? Why does this video point down and directly at his giant pot belly and end up with burnt tops? Why bother? Ugh!

So, I decided to pick the simplest looking one. Few ingredients. She uses the same mixer I have. It doesn't take 24 hours to rise. It makes two loaves. The video isn't great, but it shows exactly what I need to know, and there's a written recipe on her blog to review as well. Ok. I can DO this. (to see the recipe I tried to follow, click here.)

  • Put together the mixer: check.
  • Pull out ingredients: check.
  • Get out all my stupid little prep bowls to look fancy and professional: check.
Step 1: Measure ingredients so I don't screw it up.
  • Flour: 5.25 cups. check. Well, shit. There's too much flour to fit into my prep bowl, so lets skip those little bastards and go straight into the mixing bowl. Step 1 becomes Step 2: Add ingredients to mixer.
  • Salt: 3 Tbsp. check.
  • Sugar: Shit! I measured the salt instead of the sugar... ugh.
    • Scoop out as much salt as I can, taking a little flour with it. I should have stuck with the prep bowls!!
    • Insert proper amount of sugar, plus a little extra to try to make up for a ton of salt :(
  • Yeast: well, I'm not using exactly the same kind of yeast as she is so I better mix it with water first... check.
  • Oil: check.
  • Water and yeast mixture: Check.
Step 2: Add ingredients to mixer.

Step 3: Mix 1 minute, check consistency. Ultimately mix five minutes.
  • If its too dry, add a little water. She's in SoCal and admits to always using extra water, so should I! Check.
  • Mix some more. Too wet. Add a little flour.
  • Mix some more. Too wet. Scrape sides. Add a little flour.
  • Mix some more. Too wet. Add a little flour. I swear I just added a smidge of water!
  • Mix some more. Too wet. Add a little flour. Just let it mix for god's sake.
Step 4: Pull out nice ball of dough and knead a couple of times. Do not knead on flour.
  • Scrape out ball of blob onto un-floured surface. Smash it around for a little bit. Wash blob off of hands. Get angry and pull out the flour.
  • Sprinkle the blob with flour, coat my hands with flour, try to unstick said blob from surface and flour the bum. Roll it around and try to work in extra flour.
  • Its still a f*king blob. A sticky, bastardy blob.
Step 5: Cut dough in half, shape two loaves and move to greased cookie sheet.
  • How the hell am I supposed to cut a blob in half? Sharpen knife. Cut in half.
  • Roll each half in more flour and try to shape. Move to individual cookie sheets.
Step 6: Cover and let rise 25 minutes: Check.
  • Laugh at two blobs, they're multiplying!, and begin writing this blog entry to share with the world.
Step 7: Uncover, slice tops, spritz with water, and bake.
  • Uncover: check. Take a picture. they didn't really rise. Half an inch maybe. This long one looks like a turd. Roll it in more flour and reshape it.
  • Maybe if I let them sit another 20mnutes they'll rise more...

Step 7 plus 20 extra minutes: Well, they rose a little more. F it. I'm gonna bake it.
  • The turd stuck to the towel, so now its a turd with a mohawk. 

  • Try to slice them, but I guess my knife isn't great, even after I sharpened it. Gives the tops of the loaves character...

  • Put into the oven with a bowl of water to create steam, rather than spritzing them with water and making more blobby blob.
Step 8: Bake 25 minutes. Cool. Slice. Eat. Enjoy.
  • The turd exploded on one side. Not terribly. The mohawk resided. Guess it was a fauxhawk. Ba da bum....nice and golden on top – should actually be a decent bread.
  • the boule was more par baked than golden, so I took it out and flicked a bunch of water on the top and put it back in for 7 more minutes. Looks pretty good!
  • Neither were as tall or risey as I expected, but not bad for my first try with a blob incident.
The taste test: A little salty (d'oh!), dense and chewy with a little crunch in the crust. But on the whole, not a bad bread! Go me!

Plus butter: Yum!

Please believe me when I say that the blob folly had nothing to do with the recipe or the method. It was completely user error. I fully intend to try this recipe again and again with variations to see what I can come up with. I am also going to explore La Fuji Mama's blog a little more and see what other wonderful recipes I can mess up ;)

Next time... with rosemary and olive oil!!