Monday, August 30, 2010

Recipe by Request: Mom, Can You make YOUR Bread? (Using Freshly Milled Flour)

This is my bread recipe that I make twice a week - makes great sandwich bread and toast! If I get too busy and buy bread from the store, it's not long before my children protest and make the above request. No kidding - one has even told me at the store, "You can buy that bread, but I'm not going to eat it! I want YOURS!" There's nothing like the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven - guaranteed to bring the kids running in from outside trying not to miss the moment when I pop it out of the pans. They know if they're there at the right time and ask with those big blue eyes, they're sure to get a warm slice spread with about comfort food!!! Posted for safe-keeping - made public at the request of a friend who calls me "The Bread Lady" - anytime we have a field trip with a picnic, she is always inspecting my kids' lunches trying to figure out my "secret".....she brings her kids over and says, "See how good that bread looks? If I could get my bread like that, wouldn't you eat it?" I don't even know what my secret is.......but here's the recipe for you! Good Luck! I mix and knead this with a KitchenAid stand mixer using the dough hook attachment. **NOTE** Flour amounts will not be the same if using store bought all-purpose or wheat flour.

Mom, Can You make YOUR Bread? (Using Freshly Milled Flour)


1 cup water
1/3 cup oil
1 cup milk
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
6 -6 1/2 cups freshly milled flour
1 1/2 tablespoons dough enhancer or 1 1/2 tablespoons lecithin powder
1 1/2 tablespoons gluten


Combine water, milk, oil, honey and salt in a microwave safe bowl.

Microwave on high for approximately 2  minutes. (Temp should be between 130 - 135°F) If you do not have a thermometer, it is easy to get it too hot. and it will kill your yeast. Microwaves can also vary greatly in how fast they heat. Adjust as necessary.

In mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of flour, dough enhacer or lecithin, gluten and yeast; mix together.

Add liquid ingredients and mix until well blended.

Continue to mix adding the flour 1/2 cup at a time.

When the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl enough flour has been added.

Allow to knead 8-10 minutes, or until the dough forms a smooth ball .

Form into 2 loaves.

Place in greased loaf pans.

Let rise until at least doubled in size (about an hour). Yes, that's right - I only let the dough rise once.

Bake loaves at 350°F for 25-30 minutes.

*Note: One package of yeast is about 2-1/2 teaspoons of yeast.

*Note#2: Once, when I was rushed, I skipped the first rising time and just put the dough into my 2 loaf pans, let them rise and then baked. I couldn't tell any difference in the bread, so now I often do it this way.

*Note #3: I also often substitute another cup of water for the cup of milk.

*Note #4: I use a combination of the following: 1 cup soft white, 2 cups hard white, and 2 cups hard white BEFORE grinding.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Boys will be Boys by Sweet Diva

....and so my latest project started something like this.....

Jacob:  "Mom, can you make me a backpack like Ashlyn's?"

Mom:  "Ummmm, no.  Don't you think her backpack is girly?"

Jacob:  "But I like the Gators and you always make her stuff and I want you to make me a backpack, too, because you make the coolest stuff."

Me:  "I make girly stuff.  I don't make boy stuff.  I'll just buy you one when the stores put the back-to-school items on sale."

Jacob:  "How about a Star Wars backpack?  That wouldn't be girly!"

 Me:  "No!  I don't know if they even make Star Wars fabric.....and the backpacks I make are quilted.  It makes the fabric stronger....and also looks GIRLY!"

Jacob:  "So don't quilt it."

Me:  "Uggghhhh.....weren't you listening to me?  I need to quilt the fabric to make it strong enough for a sturdy backpack!"

Jacob: (in a full pout)  "Please?  You can do it.  You always figure out a way to do everything because you're the best mom in the world!"

Robert:  "She's going to make me a backpack with a train on it!"

I am now envisioning the emotional scars I am causing by not making them a backpack.  One day when they are grown and have all sorts of problems, they will travel back in their memory to the fateful day they asked me to show my love for them by making them backpacks......but I did make their sister one.  They are going to be traumatized for life and still I say....

Me:  "No, I am not making a train backpack.  I don't make boys backpacks and I'm not making you a girly backpack.  Everyone will make fun of you."

Jacob:  "Just think about it for a while.  You'll figure it out."

Mark: (the husband)  "Jacob, stop it.  There is no way she can make one of those backpacks NOT look girly.  Leave her alone."

Me:  "You think I can't do it?"

Mark:  "No, I don't see how you can.  They are VERY girly.  There's no way."

Pssshhhhh, whatever.  Just watch me....

Just look at my boys modeling their backpacks.  They LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them!
(Click on the photos once to enlarge into another window.  Click on the photo in the new window to enlarge again to see detail.)

Robert's with a train....his name would have shown up better in another color, but he wanted it in blue.

Jacob's Star Wars backpack.....apparently Mace is the best fighter in the galaxy.

......and so I have two very happy boys with custom backpack that they declare to be the BEST and most comfortable to wear that they've ver had....and one husband who was WRONG. 

*Yawn*....I think I'll sleep well tonight. ; )

get your craft on tuesday

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The ALMOST Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

When my children were a little younger, one of them received this book as a gift.  The first few times I read it, I didn't care for it ~~ this kid had the worst attitude and whined his way through the entire book!  It wasn't long, however, before one of my own sweet angels had a day where they could completely relate to Alexander.  In an attempt to turn the tide on a very grumpy day, I said, "You're just having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day ~ aren't you?".  At first, the Grumpy One just looked at me.  After agreeing that he was indeed having that kind of day, I said, "Well then, let's just move to Australia!" (if you've read the book, you know why I said that.....and if not, Alexander exclaims at the end of nearly every whiny page, "I think I'll move to Australia!").  This response elicited a smile and a little laugh, and at story time that night....guess which book appeared?  This began a habit for us.....whenever we would have a really bad day ~ either due to circumstances beyond our control or due to our own making ~ someone would rarely fail to quote those two lines from the book and that selection would usually show up at story time that evening.

Yesterday was well on its way to becoming a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  For two solid weeks, I've been walking around in a very literal School Daze......needing to finish sorting/organizing school supplies and materials so that I would know what I still needed to purchase, open that box of new books that UPS so kindly delivered, create lesson plans, etc., etc., etc.  So much information and many to-do lists crowding my very simple mind that I found myself incapable of focusing on any one thing, my thoughts flitting around and landing briefly on something....then fluttering elsewhere before anything was actually accomplished.

Yesterday was going to be different.  I was on a MISSION.  I was going to accomplish great things.  Just as I was about to get started conquering my world, my husband decides to start on a project that has been awaiting his attention for quite a while.  A very good thing, except his project took over my entire bedroom/office/sewing/craft room.....exactly where the bulk of my to-do list for the day required me to be.  Add to that a child who seems to have lost all of his previously well-used thinking skills and abilities ~ leading to a total meltdown over creating a cover page for his Science binder, another child who had a fever and followed me around whining about one ailment after another, a dog who won't keep his hair to himself, no A/C while my rarely-on-the-same-wavelength-much-less-the-same-planet husband completed his project, and things went bad very quickly.

I proceeded to get all worked up about not only my botched plans for the day, but nearly had an anxiety attack thinking about the year ahead and my thinking went somewhat like this......How in the world am I supposed to do everything that I have to do??  Who do these ingrates think I am, anyway??  How many people do they see when they look at me....I'm only ONE person, for crying out loud!!  It was all downhill from there.  Everything I'd been quietly stressing over crashed down on me at once.....
  • a list of household projects constantly neglected (never mind that hubby was WORKING on one at this very moment!)
  • socks on the floor that no one will claim
  • trash on the floor that no one put there
  • socks in the laundry basket that belong to NO ONE so therefore, no one wants to sort them
  • a dryer that doesn't DRY
  • a dishwasher that doesn't WASH
  • dirty dishes piled up on the counter and in the sink
  • cleaning to be done
  • meals to be made
  • mail to be sorted
  • old school papers to be sorted and filed
  • boxes that need to be opened
  • bookkeeping work to be done
  • a long list of sewing projects to complete
  • lesson plans to do
  • syllabus and parent letter to revise
  • co-op homework to supervise
  • money that needs to be made
  • bills that need to be paid
  • a phone that won't stop ringing
  • "Mom, can we...."
  • "Mom, I need...."
  • "Mom, can you...."
  • "Jill, can you...."
  • church obligations
  • requests for blog entries on particular subjects
  • hurting families
  • hurting friends
  • ailing family members
  • personal struggles
  • private battles
....and the list could go on and was at this point that I made the mistake of walking by a mirror....
  • frizzy hair with "highlights" taking over : (
  • yucky skin that is broken out ~ I think this time from my favorite part of summer....too many fresh Georgia PEACHES (Lord, say it ain't fair!!!)  : (
  • a nose that I don't like  : (
  • weight that needs to be lost  : (
  • eyebrows that need to be plucked  : (
I seriously considered looking for a paper bag to breathe into as my stress and anxiety levels rose......

It was right about at this moment that my feverish one interrupted my internal meltdown and said, "Mommy, my head really hurts but I'm glad you're standing there so I can look at you. Your niceness and prettiness makes it better". Nothing like when the Lord uses my children to smack me upside the head....He has a tendency to do that. I halted my silent ranting, got my little cherub some more medicine, hugs and kisses, then made my way through the mess so I could reach the computer to check and make sure I hadn't missed any of their co-op assignments. I decided to check my email.....and there was a friend asking me to pray for her family. The last line of her email...."I need to focus on the fact that God is in control and not me!". Nothing like when the Lord uses my friends to smack me upside the head as well.

After several moments of prayer and contemplation, I apologized to the child that had a meltdown that I overreacted to (yelled at), then looked around to see what I could salvage of my day. I made my way through my husband's mess to the bookshelf I had been neglecting and managed to clear some workable space....I battled the bookshelf and I won!

I now know exactly what we have and exactly WHERE IT IS on this shelf.  I pity the fool that
does not respect my organizational system!

Little by little, I proceeded to make the most of my ALMOST Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.  So, I didn't do all that I had hoped, but I DID....
  • organize/sort/throw away a lot of stuff
  • categorize lots of school books/supplies
  • love on an under-the-weather Blessing from Above
  • prepared and served 2 healthy, nutritious meals to an ever-hungry crew of beggars  (they made their own cereal for breakfast....I was busy having a meltdown)
  • one meal included homemade whole grain tortillas!
  • baked 2 loaves of yum-a-li-cious Peach Cobbler Bread
  • washed a boatload of dishes
  • swept up DOG HAIR
  • put away lots of laundry
  • observed and helped with co-op work in 3 subject for 3 different grades
  • plus other various menial tasks that are (yawn) boring but need to be done nonetheless

....and I know the rest will get done, one by one, little by little.  On the days like this when Australia is looking pretty good, I am thankful for sweet reminders of what's important & what isn't.....and that GOD IS IN CONTROL, not me!  What a relief.....

This is posted for all of you who have ever told me that I have it all together....because we all need to know that EVERYONE struggles ~~ and even when we feel like we need to be more than we are and try unsuccessfully to do it in our own strength, God is there......waiting for just the right moment for our hearts to be ready to give it to Him so that we can put away our stress and anxiety and rest in the assurance that HE is in control.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Building Memories They Will Cherish

As a homeschooler, I think a commonly shared summer ritual is sorting through our massive accumulation of books and assorted schooling aids and supplements which grows larger with each year that passes.  I think many of us develop a passion and addiction to books and other such items ~ so many wonderful helps and treasures irresistibly available that in order to keep from getting lost in our constantly growing collection we must sift through and weed out that which we no longer need or realize we're never going to actually use.  : ) I often find myself in an emotional tug-of-war of sorts ~~ the relief that comes with clearing out the clutter offset by the slight melancholy of saying good-bye to another year of my children's childhood that seems to be passing by at an alarming rate of speed!

This summer, I have sold off and passed on some of our true favorite curriculums so far, including Five in a Row ~~ my all-time favorite for our primary/elementary homeschooling years.  What fun we had during "school time", exploring science, history, art, math, grammar, etc. through these studies using the most wonderful children's books with this curriculum.......building not only educational skills but cherished memories as well! 

This week, after a day of constant begging by my daughter to take a trip to the library, I strolled around in the children's department  while she browsed for books of her choosing.  As I roamed, I picked out several books that jumped out at tied forever with my memories of their young childhood years.  I sat down at a little table and opened each book, smiling with each memory of the four of us piling up together on our couch, reading and discovering while giggling & growing together. 

There were days we visited China with a duck named Ping, then ate lunch on the floor around a cardboard box "table" while sitting on pillows and made egg rolls for dinner......

.....and other days we made apple pie & saw the world!

As children played around me, I remembered bringing my own small children to choose our books for the next couple of weeks.  I would gather together my own "schooling" choices and they would come to me with stacks of their own choosing, hoping I would let them get them all......and I usually did.  : ) 

When my children were born, I fervently desired to fill their childhood with many traditions in the hopes of building memories that when they would older they would look back on and cherish.  I have often driven myself a little crazy trying to keep these traditions up when times are stressful and it would be easier to let them go.  Nightly "storytime" is one tradition I started as soon as they could focus on a book......I would read to them not one book each night but one for each child.  This became quite the task some evenings as they got a little older and their storybooks got longer.  : )  Often when I was tired, I would be tempted to make them choose just one.....but they would stand before me with their little blond heads (which are no longer blond) and pleading with little blue eyes, clutching their books that they had carefully chosen with their chubby little hands ~~ I could rarely say no!  I have to admit, on some nights while I told myself I was wisely heeding the advice of those who told me to cherish these years & make the most of them because they would be gone before I knew it ~ I would be tired, the kids would be fighting & whining, the phone would ring, the dog would go crazy, the dishes were waiting.....and I would wonder if it was worth all the trouble I was going to.

My children are not that old now.....two still in elementary & one in middle school.  Yesterday, I opened up my cedar chest to look for something and in my search pulled out a collection of favorite books that had been placed by them in the "give-away" bag & snatched my me to save because sentimentality wouldn't allow me let them go.  ♥Jacob♥ came up and sat by me, looking at the books as I continued sorting through items in search of what I was looking for.  He came upon one of his favorite Winnie-the-Pooh books and started reading, giggling and smiling...."Remember when I would ask you to read this every single night?"......"Oh, look!  I forgot about this one!".  He then ran downstairs and retrieved his brother...."♥Robert♥, come here!", and before long all three of them were on the floor with me ~ reminiscing with their old storybooks and talking about "when they were little" they're all grown up already!!!  We kept up the "storytime" tradition faithfully up until about a year ago, when life became a little more stressful and a tired Mom was really too tired at night to keep it up.  With things being a little more balanced lately, my OLDEST
child felt free to ask, "Remember last year when you started reading that Lamplighter book to us?  Could we start reading that again?  I miss doing that". ♥

and so.....last night we started again with chapter 1.

Why do they have to grow up so fast???  So much of motherhood is bittersweet......I ♥Love♥ watching them grow and change with each stage of life, but I'm all too aware that they won't be mine to keep for long and their willingness to do these things will be gone, so I will hold it close & continue as long as they want....and I have to admit that I am thankful the Lord chose to show me that I am building the memories I was hoping to all along.

Since several people have asked, the quote from my last post, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always..." is from a another book.....


.....and I can't claim it as my own idea.  I was at a MOPS meeting at my church when I still only had two children, and the mentor mom of the day (some of you may know her - Christine Carter) was speaking on developing family traditions.  She mentioned this book and this quote as something she said every night at bedtime.  Our traditional "special words", as my children have always called them, began as a tradition that very night and has continued to this day!  We adapted it a little by changing some words to "forever & ever" and at the end inserting a special name instead......and they have always repeated it back to me (♥Ashlyn♥ is my Sunshine, and ♥Robert♥ calls me his Pretty Pie♥ ).   As they get older, I am so glad I started some of the traditions I have......on difficult days when it seems that ATTITUDE reigns supreme and certain children who shall remain nameless have spent more time rolling their eyes and talking back than anything else ~ I make sure to go into that feisty child's bedroom and whisper these words.  Often, there is a hostile attitude masking a remorseful spirit.....and these words whispered in the dark reminding that no matter what I will "love them forever & like them for always" is just what they need.  More times than not, I hear the words repeated back to me, sometimes with a giggle....sometimes with a hug....and sometimes just an "I love you".  ♥

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