Monday, February 28, 2011


Yesterday, Daisy and I had gone out "buttercup picking" before church.  I am currently re-training my mind to equate "buttercups" with daffodils since the locals here insist that they are the same. Anyway.  Once we came inside, I was finishing my hair and make-up.  At one point, I looked in the mirror - and to my horror - saw a tick on my face!  Being the only person at home, I could not call my husband to come kill it for me.  I had to do it myself.  Thankfully, it either had already gotten it's meal or it was about to because it's head was not in my skin, but boy, did it hold on!

I realized at that moment that I have about the same fear of ticks as I do of snakes.  After I burnt my dear tick to death, I realized that my heart was racing. . .huh.  I am afraid of ticks.  Go figure.  I suppose that my slight knowledge of diseases and biology may have come to the surface ( I could be a germaphobe if I'm not careful).  I've never known anyone who has died from a tick bite - although I have known those who have gotten very sick from them.

I gave myself an amended chat.  A little while ago, I asked a question of a pastor's wife.  One of the things she told me was that if I really trusted the Lord with ___________, I will not worry about _________.  Please forgive me as I leave blanks - that issue doesn't really have anything to do with this post. :)  That saying has been somewhat of a motto for me recently and has really helped with the situation that I am facing. . . so I adapted it.  If I really trust the Lord with my life, I will not worry about the diseases inside of this tick and what it could do to my body.  If God is really in control, He can either keep a disease from me - and I can praise Him, or He could choose to allow me to suffer through, learn from it, and praise Him for it.  God has my life in His hands - it is His choice whether I serve Him in life, sickness, or death.

I felt a little better and continued getting ready for church.  Maybe God wanted to test me in my recent resolution. . .I don't know.  As I was about to take Daisy out for one last "potty break," I looked down and there was a tick on her head!  Thankfully, there was no panic and racing heart this time.

Although I really wish there was a way to be rid of ticks, I know that is not possible.  But I do know that God will take care of me and only allow His plan for my life to take place.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Home on the Range

For some reason, I have always had an aversion to going outside.  I didn't mind the sunshine - I actually love it.  Maybe I read too many books that spoke of "soft" grass. . .I never have sat in "soft" grass - it's always been prickly to me.  The bugs also bother me.  They seem to think that I am either their meal or a provider of one.  Anyway, whenever I went outside, I was normally disappointed.

One of the reasons I was happy to finally own a home was that I could have a garden (no point of having a garden in a rented home).  As soon as we were relatively settled, I was sifting through the classified ads looking for someone to till my garden.  There were lots of ups and downs to my first garden, but I found that on Saturday mornings when I went out to weed, there was a peace about it.  Just sitting in the mud, smelling like tomatoes, hearing the birds sing, and feeling the sun shining on my back was wonderful.  It was something to look forward to.

Once Daisy joined our family as a four-month-old puppy last September, I found myself going outside with her in the middle of the night.  At first, I dreaded the thought - then it became something I looked forward to.  There is something about the clear, clean night air (which could be because I don't live "in town" anymore).  Being outside for a few minutes in the middle of the night helped me to breathe a little easier and fall asleep faster.  The air is so refreshing.

Today, I was thinking about how much I now like to be outside.  I long for spring break when I can sit in my lawn chair for a few hours in the afternoon and soak up the sun.  I look forward to days that are at least 45 degrees and are not wet so that Daisy and I can take a walk. My anticipation over my garden grows by the minute.  I hope tomorrow is a beautiful day so that I can weed my flower bed.  I enjoy the "flower-of-the month" show that God  puts on here for us through the spring.  Currently, the flower is the daffodil.  They seem to grow wild.  Yesterday, Daisy and I were checking the mail, and I saw that the unoccupied house across the street had a puddle of daffodils.  The man who was working on the house said I could pick them.  I picked a nice bunch and put them in a glass of water on the kitchen table.  They are so cheery.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The secret to life. . .

I've heard a lot these days about knowing what you want and doing everything you can to accomplish your goals.  Things like "point of view" and living by your own standard.  The funny thing is that I realized through a course of events that even though humanism is being pushed into every corner, it is disguising a bigger item.  Somehow, in the midst of doing "your own thing"  you end up simply being approved by others and doing what everyone else is doing. . .but what about doing God's thing?  What about God's point of view?  What about God's standard?  

I have certain priorities and goals in my life.  Things like taking care of my family come before pursuing a career. Things like church come before pursuing entertainment.  Taking care of myself is controlled in proportion to all of my responsibilities - but it does get done because it is important.  My goals consist of using my talents to lessen my grocery budget, accomplishing God's will every day, and allowing Him to direct my paths.

All of the previously mentioned things seem to be very foreign to many people - including those who are Christians.  I suppose we have allowed the world to influence our thinking instead of allowing Christ to transform our minds.  Romans 12:2 says, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

My husband preached a series recently in our church that had to do with a Christian's priorities.  Those were including God, one's spouse, family, and church.  It seems easy to say that one's priorities are in the correct place, but are they really?  

I once read a portion of a book that mentioned the fact that we judge ourselves upon our intentions, but we judge others by their actions.  That really challenged me to re-think my actions vs. my intentions - especially since others are judging me on my actions.  They cannot read my mind!  I intend to have God as my priority, but when I'm running late, do my actions convey that brushing my teeth (and impressing people) is more important that reading my Bible?  I intend to love God and enjoy being a Christian, but do my actions of verbalizing judgement portray distrust?  I intend to love my spouse, but do my actions of pursuing my career make him feel unloved?  I intend to serve others, but do my actions of pushing them aside to put myself first show otherwise?

I believe life is a journey.  I believe we make mistakes and learn lessons because we are human.  I believe each mistake leads my thought process to have faith in God's perfection.  We never will be flawless, but we can have a perfect heart.  I Kings 8:61 says, "Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day."  That word "perfect" means complete (from keeping a covenant relation), safe, and peaceful.  If I keep my relationships right, I will have a perfect heart - the heart that God wants me to have.  If I keep my priorities right, I will have the perfect goals - the goals that God wants me to have.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Increase production/Reduce Cost

Once upon a time, my family was visiting my grandparents, and my grandparents were telling us about this cleaning rag that they found.  They went on and on about the cleaning rag - and  my mom even purchased some, but I was unimpressed.  At the time, cleaning held no interest whatsoever, and I didn't care for the cleaning rags because they were itchy.

Fast-forward to the past few years. . .I have begun trying to lessen the chemicals that I use in my home.  I would love to eliminate chemicals; however, there are a few I haven't been able to come up with an adequate equivalent.  I did, though, purchase a package of the cleaning rags - better known as microfiber cloths.  This time, I fell in love.

I purchased my microfibers in a four piece package for about $10.  The four pieces were for different uses:  general, kitchen & bath, glass, and electronics.  The general and k&b cloths felt the same to me; however, they were colored differently and the kitchen one had a pattern on it.  The glass and electronic cloths felt different from the others in that they were smoother (not as itchy), but between them the only difference that I could tell was the color.

I began with the general cloth for dusting.  The books I read about being chemical-free said to just use water for cleaning. . .so I dampened the cloth.  For dusting, I could have used just the dry cloth, but I still feel that it is itchy so I wet it.  I was about to dust the most noticeable dust collector in my house. . .our cherry headboard of our bed.  We have a sleigh bed and the top curve attracts about an inch of dust a week. . .somehow.  The dusting cloth worked wonders. . .so I continued.  To me, it is so simple to just dampen the cloth, go quickly around my house, and dust all dustable surfaces with one cloth.  

When I used the kitchen and bath cloth, I didn't feel that it was all that special or that it was very different from the general dusting cloth.  I would probably only use it for one room or the other, since germs are ideally more prevalent in the bathroom and need to be pretty extinct in the kitchen.  I have used my cloth for drying dishes, but prefer a regular dishcloth.  My reasoning for that is that even though the cloths hold a lot of water, they are rather resistant to water until they get wet overall.  I felt that a regular dishcloth was fine.

I loved the glass cloth - what a replacement for glass cleaning solutions.  I wet the cloth and try to wring as much water out of it as I can.  Then I clean the mirrors in my bathroom and bedroom. Upon first using the cloth, I was skeptical because the cloth left water behind on the mirror, but once the water dried, I did not notice that water spots were left behind - except once. . .maybe I didn't wring the cloth out enough first.  We'll see how it works when I spring clean my windows. . .

I use the electronic one every once in a while on our electronics and it works well - just no rave reviews. :)

I also keep a general cloth in my car for wiping my dusty dashboard.  I got that cloth in a package of leather cleaner.  It worked well for that purpose, but I can use any cloth for that.  The cloth also does wonders when I do miraculous things like spill my coffee. . .

Another product I use is Bona.  Bona is a floor cleaning system that contains a mop (like Swiffer) that has one each of a re-usable dust mop and a microfiber cleaning pad.  The cleaner is bio-degradable and safe for kids and pets. . .so I don't have to worry when Daisy insists on inspecting my mop job. :)

I use my cloths/Bona until they are dirty, then wash them all together in one load.  One cannot wash them with regular towels because of the lint; also, one should not not wash them with fabric softener because the oil in the softener clogs the fibers.

When doing research for this post, I was interested in finding an illustration that shows how microfiber works better than regular cloths - the microfiber is the top and the regular is the bottom.  

Notice that while the microfiber leaves no residue (unless there are particles that didn't get cleaned out from the last time), the regular fiber does leave a residue.

Also, the article I read in Wikipedia included a study done in a hospital regarding the difference between using microfiber mops opposed to traditional mops.  The first interesting finding was that workers comp claims from slipping on floors lessened from 15% to 2%.  In addition to that fact, the floors that were mopped were tested for bacteria.  The floors that were mopped with traditional mops were left with 66% bacteria.  The floors that were mopped with microfiber were only left with 1%.

Some good things about them that I have come up with are that they:
  • absorb 7x their weight in liquid
  • are machine washable
  • eliminate the need for certain cleaning supplies (although I try to suppress the curious side of me that wants to try cool, new, expensive cleaning products!)
  • can be used for multiple surfaces
  • either greatly lessens or eliminates the need for paper towels
  • last longer and require less effort than regular material
P.S.  Microfiber does tend to be flammable and does emit toxic gases when burning.  I wouldn't recommend placing them on the stovetop. . .I've destroyed more potholders that way. . .

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Through the Wilderness

For us, February has been the month of love. . .and bills.

During the times I am calming myself from yet another round of "it is just a minimal charge" (in a foreign accent that is obviously being read from a computer screen) and exponentially high electricity bills, I am reminded of the fact that there is no new problem under the sun. . . since the beginning of time for all people.  I remember the story in the Bible of the children of Israel who were wandering in the wilderness.

The children of Israel had just escaped Egypt and crossed the Red Sea.  What a miracle!  But for the next forty years, they wandered in the wilderness.  I couldn't imagine. . .no grocery store, no stability, no garden, no restaurant, no TJ Maxx!  Talk about tough.  Whatever they had, they had to carry, so there couldn't be too much accumulation!  Talk about hand-me-downs and garage sales!

Even though they didn't think the timing was good, God always provided and He was always on time - the right time.  When they needed water, Moses asked God, and God provided.  When they needed food, God provided.  God even provided for material needs such as clothing and shoes!  In Deuteronomy 8:4, the Bible says, "Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years."  In addition to the regular meaning of the word "swell," it also means "to blister."  For forty years of walking in sandy, rocky places, they did not get one blister!

God's one concern for them as explained further in that chapter was that He wanted to be remembered for His goodness when He gave them a better land.  He wanted them to be thankful and to always stay true to Him.

What a lesson to learn and apply to my life!  Sometimes, God will put things in my life that I may or may not like; however, God is testing me to see how far I will trust Him. . .He wants me to be thankful and to be true to Him!  God will ALWAYS provide for His children.  I'm not saying that I can throw the bills in the trash as I get them because "God will take care of them," but I just have to do what I can as a responsible steward of what is God's - and trust Him for the rest.  My money is God's.  He decides how much the government takes, how much food costs, and how much home goods cost.  God decides when we get sick, when the car breaks down, and when the roof caves in.  God decides everything that happens to me.  I can trust in Him.  He loves me and wants the best for me. . .even if that means teaching me something every once in a while.

Meanwhile, I am to be thankful for not having blisters.  I am to be thankful for the things that are going well in my life.  I may have bills coming out of my ears, but I also have a loving home in which to live.  I have a good church to attend.  I have a job.  I am privileged to live in a part of the country where my ride to work is gorgeous - especially now that I can see it since the sun is rising earlier.

When I look for the good things in my life, there are may things for which to be thankful.  There is nothing wrong with being thankful for kitchen cabinets and running water.  There are those who do not have any or many kitchen cabinets.  There are those in the world who do not have running water.  We can be thankful for a bed and mattress to sleep on, as well as for multiple changes of clothing.  We can be thankful for a God Who loves us and for random things like color.  I couldn't imagine a world without color, but there are those who are blind and cannot see it.  Those who are blind could be thankful for braille and the vocal technologies that we have available today.

I know I just did a post on being thankful; but in this negative world, I think we could use a few more reminders.  Being thankful helps us to think more positively with a better perspective. Being thankful helps us to obey the greatest commandment - ". . .love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Snow Day!

I've learned an interesting process here in the south.  I always had heard that whenever there was a forecast for snow, all good Southerners hit the grocery stores (FACT!); however, I was unprepared for the school situation.  There are two kinds of counties: those who seem to close school at the mention of snow. . .and others who actually wait for the first flakes to appear.  Mine is the later . . .thankfully.  But they all seemed to jump the gun.  I had no idea why until I started working in the schools.

There are actually two factors to a snow day.  There is the actual snow/ice factor, but there is also a phone call factor.  In fact, the longer the school board waits to close school, the more phone calls they get.  For example, on Wednesday, the snow was supposed  to get here about 3:00 PM.  I started getting a few "is there going to be school tomorrow" phone calls on Tuesday afternoon.  On Wednesday, we probably had 20 extra phone calls per hour from 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM.  And yes, we did close early. . .although the snow didn't get there until 3:00 PM. :)

Anyway.  There was no school today; and the roads looked pretty yucky, so I didn't chance driving the 30 miles one way. . . so I had a beautiful lazy, hobby day.

We woke up late, had coffee, and I cleaned the kitchen.  While I cleaned, I reminded myself that I hadn't made bread or bagels in a long. . .make that really long . . .time.  I decided to mix some doughs, put the heater on in my room (we have our thermostat set on 62! AHHH) so the dough can rise, then watch Price is Right.  I mixed the bagel dough and machine-kneaded for 3/4 of the time, then hand kneaded the rest of the time to incorporate the ingredients.  I must admit that I would have enjoyed taking pictures during the process, but kept forgetting until I was done. . .oops.

Today, I made Oat Whole Wheat Bread (that didn't last as long as I had hoped), Asiago Bagels, and Chocolate Chip Bagels (for my husband who cleaned the inner workings of my dishwasher so that I could clean my kitchen. :) ).

Oat Whole Wheat Bread

Bagel Production (after the fact)

Bagels in the oven (during the fact)

Bagels about to be eaten

Monday, February 7, 2011

Study to Be Quiet

A thought that has hung on in my mind since reading I Thessalonians was from chapter 4 verse 11:  "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you."

I've always thought it interesting that the Bible tells us to "study to be quiet."  I know there are many times in my life that I should have just kept my mouth shut. . .but how do I study being quiet?  Is there a book about it?  Do I just watch quiet people?  Do I sit for hours and try to not say anything? I guess that is a question that I have asked the Lord to give me an answer to over and over again.

Through years of praying, pondering, and listening to preaching, I have come to a few conclusions about studying to be quiet.

Whenever I ponder a verse, I begin by looking up all of the words in the dictionary, as well as in Strongs' Concordance.  Here is my rendition of what those books say about the word "quiet":  tranquil; free of commotion, disturbance, anxiety, tension, and/or restlessness; steady; even; not running hither and thither; v. to lower the spirit of one who is angry.  Reading through those items gives me quite a chunk to chew on.  If I am a truly quiet person, I am known by others as being tranquil, steady, and able to successfully calm those who are angry.

When I think of someone who is tranquil, I think of a dorm supervisor in college who had an area of her room devoted to warm drinks.  She could often be seen working on something or talking to someone while sipping a hot drink - apparently I equate hot drinks with tranquility.   Maybe we could translate it to someone who takes time to make sure their own spirit is calm, then uses that calm spirit to help others.

When I think of someone who is steady, I think of a preacher I had who illustrated the word steady by using a graph.  In life, we all have highs and lows.  An unsteady person's highs and lows are extreme.  So high one moment at good news (I imagine someone shouting and jumping up and down). . .and so low at the next moment with bad news (then I see them in a dark room on a couch with a box of cookies in hand).  A steady person also has highs and lows; however, the highs and lows are so close to the line that runs through the middle of the graph that those on the outside don't even realize there are highs and lows.

In I Peter 3:4, the Bible says that having a "meek and quiet spirit" is an ornament.  It adds to us to make us more beautiful.  Whenever I think of the people in my life who had quiet spirits, I do feel that it was like an ornament about them.  It made them more beautiful.  It made them more attractive.

I am still working on being quiet as the Bible describes it, and I know it is a lesson that will probably take my whole life to learn.  I do believe, however, that it is a worthwhile goal that will be very beneficial to myself and my family as time goes by.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

In Everything, GIVE THANKS

The summer before I met my husband, I had read a book called The Fascinating Girl by Helen Andelin.  I realized, after reading the book, that I had an overwhelming number of personal issues on which to work.  I decided that during my senior year of college, I would focus on two things - being more girly in my dress/attitude/conversation and being more thankful.

The first part was relatively simple.  I realized at that point that even though it is good sometimes to be a detailed perfectionist, it is not always a good thing. . . breathe a little.  The second thing I realized was that being thankful was a lot of work. . .at first.

Fast-forward a few years. . .my husband and I were engaged.  I asked him what first attracted him to me.  He said that he was amazed at how thankful I was.  I met my husband a little over a month after making my decision to be more thankful, so I was relatively new to the consistency of it; however, the fact that he loved how thankful I was really has stuck with me through the past few years.  Being thankful will always be a work-in-progress, but I am really enjoying the journey.

I Thessalonians 5:18 says, "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."  I feel that this is very self-explanatory; however, would like to expound upon a few thoughts.

1.  In the Bible, I see the words "commandment" and "will" as two different entities.  "Commandment" is what God requires of us - it is what we must do or else.  "Will" is what God wants us to do in order to accomplish His purpose for our lives.  We will have happy lives if we live according to God's purpose for our lives.

Many seem to feel that God's will is an elusive thing.  It isn't.  God's will for us is to be thankful.  When we are thankful, that leads to contentment.  Let me illustrate.

 I have been inside of many large, beautiful houses.  Some I have visited, some I have cleaned, and some I have only observed quickly.  I would love to have a beautiful (as far as the world considers) house.  I could sit around all day and dream of the huge, beautiful house that I would like to have.  Then, naturally, I would compare it to the house that really I have.  Unfortunately, I would find my house severely lacking.  I would become very unhappy in my cute, little kitchen. . .it is not a gourmet kitchen.  I would become very unhappy in my bathroom. . .it is not a large, spacious bathroom.  I would become unhappy with my living room. . . it is was not a living room that was designed by a famous person.  The list could go on forever, and I would forever be unhappy.

 However, if I can look at what I do have and be thankful, I can be happy for those who have large, beautiful homes, and be happy for me in my large, beautiful home.  I am thankful that my home is large enough for my husband, myself, my dog, and maybe someday a few kiddos.  I am thankful that God put our house in a location that seems more perfect every day.  I am thankful that my house is a home.

I also have seen houses smaller than mine with more people living in it than I can imagine.  I have seen houses dirtier than mine.  I have seen houses full of people who are sadder than those in my house.

I am very thankful for the house God saw fit to provide for us.  I am happy with my house, my husband, my God, my car, and my dog.  I am thankful for my refrigerator, my cabinets, my sink, and my toilet.  I am thankful for my bed, my couch, my dresser, and my closet.  I am thankful for my 3/4 of an acre and for all the trees and flowers in my yard. I am happy when I think of my home.

2.  God's will for our lives is to give thanks IN EVERYTHING.  What is everything?  Are we to be thankful that we found out we had a health issue?  Yes.  Are we to be thankful because we found out we owe the government more money than we thought?  Yes.  Are we to be thankful that someone has hurt us?  Yes.

It is very difficult for our human flesh to comprehend this, but I believe thankfulness is God's cure.  If I am thankful that I could show someone God's true love by having a good testimony when they hurt me, I allow forgiveness to enter my soul.  If I am thankful that I have a health issue, I allow trust in God's plan for my life to enter my heart.  If I am thankful for every petty problem, I allow myself to realize I don't have huge problems. I can move on in my life and help others.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Save and Stock

I randomly recall people in my family commenting about my great-grandmother who lived through the depression.  They would talk about how, when they went to her house to eat, she would take their finished drink glasses and pour out every last left-over drop into a pitcher to drink again later.  And it was either her or my grandmother that they would talk about opening the medicine cabinet and finding 30 bars of soap.

Perhaps it is heredity. . .I am such a stocker (not stalker. :) ).  I don't save our left-over drink droplets, but if one were to open my bathroom closet, one would find packages upon packages of toilet paper, paper towels, and hand soap.  And I feel the need to purchase more.  There was an advertisement yesterday for the brand of toilet paper that I like on a really good sale, in addition to a "$5 off a $25 purchase" coupon. . .we won't need toilet paper for about another year - or at least many, many months.

The fact that I stock up on things doesn't really bother me, but I do often wonder how normal it is.  I suppose, in addition to heredity, I feel the need to not have to worry about using the last _______ in the house and needing more - or finding out that there is no _______ because no one told me to purchase more or needing to purchase something expensive that it is not on sale when I need it (like my current nylon situation).  I try to limit some of my domestic stress in this way.

In fact, I believe limiting any stress possible is a necessity.  I must often laugh at myself when performing one of my "shortcuts."
  • When folding a sheet set, I stuff all of it into one of the matching pillowcases.  That way, I do not have to search for one piece when I need it.  
  • I also keep a 3-ring notebook filled with plastic sleeves with my cookbooks.  That way, if I clip or print a recipe I like or would like to try, I just slide it into a sleeve and don't have to worry about sorting a pile of paper later.  This also keeps the paper clean from spills and flour (which most of my recipe books are powdered with).  One could also "edit" a recipe with dry-erase markers.
  • I put all of my plastic food storage container bottoms into one bin and all of the lids in another, smaller bin.  That works better for me.
  • I am a firm believer in those little storage boxes that one would put into a drawer.  I bought a few rather large sets at IKEA for a great price a while ago and have used them ever since.  They are so helpful in sorting socks from hose from other things. . .all in the same drawer.
  • I keep a little fabric bag on the handle of my front door that has Daisy's "going outside" things (leash, flashlight, fleece vest, and treats). This is very helpful when she needs to go out at 1:45 AM. . .and I am not really awake. :)   This also helps in the morning when I am late to work, but need to take her on one last trip.  I don't have to run around to find where I last set the leash.
  • I keep a kitchen timer on my refrigerator.  I am not a very good self-motivator, so when one of my least favorite chores needs to be done, I set my timer for 15 minutes and just do it.  I am normally finished by the time my timer goes off.
  • Whenever I make a recipe that calls for an ingredient that I don't normally stock (like buttermilk and creamed corn for Alton Brown's corndogs), I separate what I didn't use into what the recipe called for and freeze it for whenever I need to use it again.
I hope to have helped someone get an idea for how to make their life a little less stressed.  If you have any shortcuts that are helpful to you, please share!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dough Rising Buckets

Last Thursday,  I was checking my blogs like I do most mornings.  When I pulled up, I saw the word "Alabama."  Huh. . .Alabama is pretty close.  The next thing that I noticed was that day's date, the 26th of January.  My curiosity was piqued. . .I had planned that night to be at home putting together some Junior Church lessons. . .but I could do that on Saturday.  I clicked on the link and found out that there was a sweet bread baking demo taking place in Huntsville (about an hour and a half away) - and there were DOOR PRIZES (I don't normally win things like that, but the chance to have anything KAF was too good to pass up)!  I texted my husband about it.  I wanted to go, but it was almost too good to be true.  King Arthur Flour (KAF) is the epitome of great recipes and superior products.  I actually wanted to go to Vermont one day (in the fall) to see it.  I still would like to; however, they were coming to me!

To make a long, drawn-out story slightly shorter, my husband was kind enough to go on an impromptu "date" to Huntsville, AL with me - no prompting needed!  After work, I took care of my puppy, then we got gas and supper and started driving.  I was so excited.

It was a nice trip, and we DID get door prizes.  We each won a bag of flour (which doesn't sound like much, but it was KAF flour!).  They had cooler prizes, but I didn't care.  I was content with my flour.  We also got Cabot cheese samples, cocoa and chocolate chip coupons, bowl scrapers, recipes, and coupon cards with which to purchase KAF products online.

But here is the thing I really wanted to talk about - dough rising buckets.  I have seen them many times in KAF's blog whenever someone was having dough rise.  I wanted one, but they are a little on the pricey side for a plastic bucket with measurements on the side.  I never put one on my wishlist, but I kept the thought in my head.  You know, like whenever I was at a restaurant supply store, I would look for a cheap one.  Never happened.  They were even pricey in the restaurant supply store.

So last week, as the teacher was telling us about kneading and letting dough rise, he plopped his lump of dough into a bowl and said something like (I can't remember exactly what he said), "Most recipes say to let the dough rise until it is doubled in size.  I would give money to the person who could tell me when a spherical lump of dough inside of an inverted sphere has doubled in size."  I wanted to raise my hand and say that I could.  I truly feel that I can since I've done it so many times and can picture (somehow) in my mind what the lump would look like if doubled.  I don't know how I can, but I feel that I have that ability.  Anyway.  I chuckled.  I love it when people confidently recite seemingly scientific phrases.

I expected that he would use that opportunity to tell us about these wonderful products that KAF has. . .dough rising buckets.  To my pleasant surprise, he said nothing of that sort.  Instead, with a flourish, he pulled a tea towel off of a regular drink pitcher full of risen dough.  It was one of those "duh" moments.  Why didn't I think of that!  What an obvious idea.  I have plenty of extra drink pitchers at home.  And who is to say that if I put measurements on the side with a Sharpie® that I couldn't use it for drinks again?  Of course, I could.

So, here it is.  My "aha" moment.  The dough rising bucket.

If you look really carefully, you can see my Sharpie® markings.  I did every inch.  My dough rising bucket was used this past Sunday morning.  I look forward to using it again.

Here is my quick illustration of dough in the bucket. . . I quickly plopped a lump of frozen pizza dough in to show you what it looks like.

I am still in amazement that I didn't think of such a simple thing. . . ;)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Shoes that Love You!

I am so impatient!  I ordered online, but they have yet to ship my items!  I am addicted to tracking packages. . .so I'll tell you what I ordered to stave off my package-tracking addiction.

A few months ago, one of the teachers at the school where I work mentioned that she gets these shoes that are cute, but really comfortable.  I didn't need shoes at that point, so I went to the site to sign up for their e-mails - then forgot about it.  Our weather down here in Tennessee (at the moment) is rainy and the temperatures have been between 40 and 60 (again, at the moment).  The ground is becoming soggy and muddy. . .which makes me think about shoes.

I then remembered that last year, I really needed shoes for spring/summer, but couldn't find ones that I really liked - including the price.   So I began worrying that I wouldn't be able to find shoes this year. . .and I really need spring/summer shoes!

I have a few shoe issues. The first is that I have a hard time paying more than $15 dollars for a pair of shoes *gasp*.  The second is that since the ground is muddy, I want cute shoes that can stand up to our red, clay mud.  The third is that I don't want to have to purchase flip-flops AND casual dress shoes (my husband prefers that I do not wear flip-flops to church).  I know it is asking a lot, but all of these factors are hang-ups I have when purchasing shoes.

Low and behold!  I remembered!  I received an e-mail saying that they had winter clearance.  I had to check it out.  There they were!  The EXACT shoes I was looking for.  I found one serviceable pair for $13 and another that was ADORABLE for $20.  They are made of a similar material to crocs, and are top-rack dishwasher safe.  Ha - that fact makes me chuckle. . .long story about fish. . .  They have massage beads and are anti-microbial.  They also have a 2-year guarantee. AND THEY ARE CUTE.  My only wish is that, even though I can't really wear them now, I want them in my possession instantly!  :)  Check them out!

P.S.  I did pay shipping (which I normally refuse to do), but I realized that it would be more expensive for me to drive to a city that might have shoes that I like. . .