Thursday, September 27, 2007


B is for Bread. I love bread. I love mixing it, watching it rise, smelling it as the yeasts multiply and cause the bread to swell, baking it and having the house fill with that oh so warm and lucious aroma that envelops you like a warm blanket on a cold winter day. Mostly I love eating it. Especially when it is hot out of the oven with real butter. MMmmmm. My grandmother used to make a Honey Whole Wheat Bread that she found on the back of a Gold Medal Flour bag. I wish I could find that recipe again. It made the most wonderful bread. I remember how it was made and in entailed heating the honey and water on the stove until the honey dissolved. Then you had to cool it down some before adding the yeast (so you wouldn't kill it). It made two loaves. My family's favorite bread is my foccaccia. I'll share that with you until I can find my grandmother's bread recipe!

Michelle's Focaccia

1 c. milk at room temp
3T sugar
1 t salt
3 T. butter melted into the milk
2 t. yeast.

Mix the first 4 ingredients and cast the yeast over it while you let it rise start activating. When it gets frothy add 3 cups of flour (or 1-1/2 c. whole wheat flour and 1-1/2 c. plain white flour) and knead it in. Allow to rise then punch down and form into the desired shape. We like it made flat like a traditional focaccia, but when I take it somewhere for a potluck I make it in a loaf. Bake it at 400°F for 20-30 minutes or until it is done.

This is such a nice and simple recipe. You can easily make it into something else. We've added fresh herbs, chopped garlic, cinnamon and sugar (rolled into it with butter for a cinnamony roll cake) and parmesan cheese over the top. If you make it flat rub it with some olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and punch a few finger holes into it.

Bread is the food that helped us, as a species, to stop being hunter gatherer nomads into cultivators with raised live stock. Wheat allowed us to not have to follow the herds during the winters as we had a food that would last through the winter and feed us. It also gave us the foundation to make beer. Egyptians used to take bread, water and honey and let it ferment and then drink the liquid. Later they realized that they could forgo the bread part and just start with wheat, water yeast and honey and get the same result.

In England there were two bakers guilds. One made white bread and the other dark. Elizabeth I put an end to this by uniting them into the Worshipful Company of Bread Bakers. A guild (or union) that still exists today. Bread has had to be regulated throughout history to keep the poor from staring during times of famine. Interestingly, in the middle ages people believed that white bread was better for you and was thus more expensive. Brown bread was considered less healthy and so less expensive. Today we know the opposite to be true. While our pooor ancestors were eating healthy bread, today's poor tend to eat mostly inexpensive white bread which is less healthy for them.

I did find this bread recipe which is fairly close, but still not exact.:


Ingredients :
3 c. Gold Medal whole wheat flour
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. salt
2 pkgs. regular or quick-acting
active dry yeast
2 1/4 c. very warm water (120 to 130
3 to 4 c. Gold Medal oat flour blend
Butter or margarine, softened

Preparation :
Mix whole wheat flour, honey, oil, salt, and yeast in large bowl.
Add warm water. Beat on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl
frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl
frequently. Stir in enough of the oat flour blend, 1 cup at a time,
to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto lightly floured
surface; knead about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place
in bowl sprayed with non-stick cooking spray; spray the top of dough
with non-stick cooking spray. Cover and let rise in warm place 40
to 60 minutes or until double. (Dough is ready when indentation
remains when touched.) Spray 2 loaf pans with nonstick cooking
spray. Punch down dough; divide in half. Flatten each half with
hands or rolling pin into 18 x 9 inch rectangle. Fold crosswise into
thirds, overlapping the two sides. Roll dough up tightly toward
you, beginning at short end. Press with thumbs to seal after each
turn. Press each end with side of hand to seal; fold ends under.
Place loaves, seam side down, in pans. Brush lightly with butter or
margarine; sprinkle with whole wheat flour or crushed rolled oats,
if desired. Let rise 35 to 50 minutes or until double. Move oven
rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place loaves on
lowest oven rack. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until loaves are deep
golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans; cool
on wire rack.


A letter a day. Kitten has this running on her blog and I liked the idea. So I'm borrowing it. Hope you don't mind Kitten!
A is for Attitude! We all have them. There are good attitudes and bad attitudes. You can have an attitude that makes you look like an understanding and caring person or you can have an attitude that makes you look like an egotistical snob. It's all in how you look at life and look at yourself. It goes beyond the "half empty/half full" glass scenario. It's how you respond to other people as well. You can be completely optimistic, but if you treat others like they aren't worth anything then you only come across with having a bad attitude. Your attitude can effect how you approach problems as well. You can either approach them with an open mind and realize that your problem is just a puzzle that needs working out or you can approach it with a closed mind and fear that the outcome will be negative. Positive attitude generally results in the answer being found, even if it isn't the answer you want. Negative attitudes will almost always generate a negative result.

So have a GOOD Attitude as you face this day!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Your names

Well, everyone else is posting this so I might as well, too.

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car) - Jonathan Caravan And I play bass thank you very much!

2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie) - Strawberry Snickerdoodle Oh please, that sounds really Gangsta!

3. YOUR "FLY Guy/Girl" NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name) LLei But do I have to dress fly and have this tattooed on my butt?

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal) - Blue Horse I can see Get Smart saying that to me on a shoe phone.

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born) - Michelle Pensacola I'm not thinking that's very Soap Opera-y

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first) - Leilo = great, my Star Wars name is a Disney character

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite drink, put "The") - The Purple Mead? Hmmm, I suppose it is better than The Purple Water

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers) - Sigurgir Brunson This isn't getting any better!

9. STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne, favorite candy) - Haiku Mounds. Now that sounds like a stripper!

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names) - Teresa Eugene Sounds ordinary enough I suppose.

11. PORN STAR NAME: (the name of your favorite pet and the street you grew up on) - Tina Beatrice. Gosh out of all the names my Porn Star name looks the best.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Japanese, Mr. Owl and Butchering Yards


Goth Girl started her Japanese language classes last week. It is a small class (maybe 7 students in all) but I think it will be fun for her. The teacher is a native Japanese speaker, which I think is important in learning a language that is so vastly different from one's own. Learning the syntax, gender, politeness and linguistic idiosyncracies can be difficult when the language you are learning also has a culture that is quite different at well.

I look at politeness as one of the things that is slowly being dropped from the American English language. In Japanese there are several ways in which to say "thank you." There is the utmost in polite, the common polite and the familiar. There was a time when you would find that in our own language, but I'm seeing that slip away when the word "thanks" is used familiarly even with people who are in a position for more formal gratitude.

The funniest thing of Emily's language class is me helping her with her homework and learning the language. As with any language there are peculiarities with the written language and the spoken language. And even transliterated, it still has some odd rules. There is this mysterious "silent u" on the ends of some of the words which makes me ask why the u is there if it is silent and doesn't seem to be effecting the pronunciation of the word. Of course this question comes from one who questions why English isn't written phonetically anyway as it would be SO much easier than our currrent system. (Like why is there a Y in system when it obviously is pronounced sistim?) The world may never know.

Mr. Owl

I keep running into a commercial on TV over the past week which really brings back memories of my childhood. It's the Tootsie Roll Pop commercial with Mr. Owl counting the number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop. You know "One, Twohoo, Three, CRUNCH. Uh, three." You can see it here if you don't remember or are too young to know
Mr. Owl. It was one of my favorite commercials as a kid. It was cute, simple and effective.

Butchering the yard

This weekend was spent butchering our backyard. One might say that we were recovering it. After 2 years of major neglect, we finally started pulling things out. We uncovered a ton of space that had previously been taken over by a HUGE azalea bush. We thought it was a bunch of azaleas but when we finally managed to cut back down to the main trunk (and yes; this "bush" was so big it had a trunk!) we found that it was truly just one giant monster. We found about 64 sq. ft of "lost" yard under there. Next weekend I want to take out the azaleas (azalea?) that are (is) growing under the one lone pine left in the back yard. It is mostly dead anyway and has enveloped a few other plants along its way. The yard looks much better now and we found (buried under the azalea) a bunch of hostas which are going to look really nice now that they have a bit more breathing room. I'm going to work on a plan this winter on what to plant as far as local plant varieties that need little care and tending and at the same time won't overtake the yard.

I really do like our yard for the most part. Much of it is fairly self maintaining, especially along one side where under the oaks are just tons of hostas and fern growing. We go through and trim the few plants that do get a bit wild like the holly and whack at the heather that is growing out into the walk way. I like the idea of a yard that I can putter in, but if I neglect it for a week (or a month) or two won't take over the entire neighborhood. I still want to leave the "buffer" between me and the people behind us. I like my little bit of seclusion that it affords me. I may trim it down a bit and take out a few things that annoy me, but I like that I've got this buffer between me and the perfectly manicured treeless ick behind me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I refrained from posting yesterday. It was one of those truly surreal days for us. It was the 6th anniversary of the most tragic day in our modern US history, but also the 6th anniversary of our venture into homeschooling. Yep, it all began the morning of September 11, 2001 around 8am. One could take it as a "sign" that homeschooling wasn't the right thing, but by the end of that day I knew it was.

We were getting The Dad ready for work and Boo ready for kindergarden (she was still enrolled at this point - and actually did finish the year out) when the news came on. I was busy and concentrating on all the important things I needed to do. Iron shirts and school uniforms, find shoes, pack lunches, important things. And then suddenly they weren't all that important. Suddenly the world slowed down drastically and we just stood and stared as the second plane flew into WTC. We were stunned and scared. It took us a few minutes to snap back into the reality of our day. The things that needed to be done. Clothes still needed ironing, shoes found, lunches packed, time schedules met.

We made a quick agreement that we would go through our day like normal. We wouldn't let terrorists stop us from our regular routine. We would go to work, to school, to swim class, have dinner and Girl Scouts. Although in hindsight, had I known that the teacher would have the TV tuned to CNN ALL DAY in her class (so she would know what was happening) and had known that she would utter the words, "Bad Arabs" in Boo's class (which had a young Arab boy in the class) I would have not sent her to school. That would have been the day she began her homeschool years as well.

Our scout troop shared a space at a church and only one other child showed up, so we elected to go into the church where they were having a service. It was eery to feel like we were suddenly unsafe. It was unsettling to not hear airplanes fly over our house for nearly a week (we lived along one of the landing patterns for the airport). It was nerve wracking trying to explain to our children why some people would do this.

It still is nerve wracking. It still doesn't make sense. I still can't wrap my brain around that kind of violence. And then yesterday on NPR I found words which made me realize that what happened that day truly wasn't a religious jihad. It was on their "All Things Considered Show" and they interviewed a young Imam who sees the 9-11 activities and other killing violences as a direct contradiction to the Koran From the chapter of Isra, verse 33 "We are not permitted to kill. Killing is not right. And whoever kills somebody intentionally, his reward is hellfire." Wow! You can hear the broadcast by going to NPR's website.

It reminds me of the Christian commandments where it says, "Thou shalt not kill." It doesn't say, "Though shalt not kill except...." It blountly says, "Though shalt not kill." This message is repeated in almost every religion and in almost every creed. Killing is wrong. It's simply put in all varying religions. Which makes me wonder why killings continue.