Monday, March 30, 2009

Bread Machine Recipes

I've had a bread machine for many years, although I made bread by hand for many more years before that. And, having made bread manually, I have to say that my bread machine is one of my favorite kitchen tools! I know exactly how much time it saves me! I do get better results for knowing how the bread should feel, and I adjust by adding teaspoons of water or tablespoons of flour when I check on it after about 5 minutes of machine mixing. Great results all the time! (I usually pull out the paddle after the last kneading cycle so that it doesn't tear up my loaf.)

After the initial excitement, I find that I pretty much make only two base recipes in my automatic bread machine (ABM). Although my bread machine makes both 1.5 and 2 pound loaves, my 1.5 loaves usually rise high enough that I'm not sure I should make the 2 pound size. So these are scaled to 1.5 pound recipes!

Plain Bread

1 Tbs olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 1/8 cup warm water

3 cups flour

1 tsp yeast

My usual variation on this recipe is 2 cups of bread flour and 1 cup whole grain whole wheat flour, but I'll vary it up. If I use less than 1.5 cups of a high-protein flour like bread flour, I add wheat gluten to make sure it holds together like bread instead of cake! If I add raisins at the beep, it becomes raisin bread! When I do that, I often use sweetened water, like water that I've used to rinse out that last little bit of honey.

Fancy Bread

1 Tbs canola oil

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup warm liquid (like water)

1/2 cup warm sauce (like applesauce)

3 cups flour

1/3 cup rolled oats

1 tsp yeast

My usual variation on this recipe is, of course, applesauce bread as noted. When I make applesauce bread, I tend to add cinnamon and often something sweet (2 Tbs honey or molasses). This would also be a good base for raisin bread too. But I've been "free form" and used thinned barbeque sauce for the liquid and leftover guacamole for the sauce. As long as the combination of liquid and sauce adds up to 1 1/4 cups, I've had good results baking with whatever needs to be used up!

Yum yum!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What I Learned This Time

Every time Karston and Daddy go away on a trip, I learn something about Cale while it's quiet enough to give him my full attention. What I learned this time is that Cale on his own quite clearly prefers to go to bed at 7:30 pm. Karston never wanted to go to bed, so I didn't know kids would tell you when their bedtime should be, but Cale does. Now that Karston's back (and the hour-long flight was delayed 3 hours, ugh!), Cale's too excited watching Karston to want to go to bed. At all. I can try, but Cale jumps out my arms reaching for his brother! In fact, Cale wants to see that Karston is also ready for bed when we do the bedtime kiss exchange, so I can slide Cale's bedtime to the start of Karston's routine, but no sooner.

Wow. 7:30 pm. We'd have our evenings back! Too bad Karston's tummy pain makes him avoid bedtime.

Baby Beverage

One of those nagging questions is what to feed your baby. If Cale is not getting as much breastmilk as he wants, he bites! Infant formula would be the standard answer, but as you replace breastmilk with formula, the rate of SIDS goes up proportionally. Plus Cale doesn't like the taste of formula, and even the hydroplyzed formula for multiple allergies causes him a lot of uncomfortable gas (exactly what the hydrolyzed stuff is supposed to avoid). Well, thanks to a recommendation from a co-worker whose kids just a few months older than Cale grew up on this as a supplement, I tried Living Harvest Hempmilk. Cale thinks the taste is fine, he slurps it down, and he doesn't seem to have any problems with it. Given his suite of allergies and how often something causes him gas, that's pretty impressive.

One thing that helps is that the Original is lightly sweetened. Most milk replacements, like soy and rice milk, are either sickeningly sweetened too much, or chalky and not sweetened at all. Lightly sweetened is a nice compromise: enough to moderate and improve the flavor (I tried Hemp Dreams and didn't like it at all), but not so much that I think I'm going into sugar shock.

Standard infant formula has 20 calories per ounce, approximately the same as breast milk. Formula for premature babies contains 22 calories per ounce. For comparison, this hemp milk has just over 16 calories per ounce, so for the newest ones, give as much breast milk as possible. However, especially now that he's over a year old, I think this stuff and water are the greatest drinks for Cale! He likes both of those too.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

iPod touch

I like my (first generation) iPod touch, but tempered by what I wish it could do. On the one hand, being able to surf the web while sitting up with a baby at night helps me stay sane. On the other hand, it could be so much more useful, you know, at times when I'm not locked in the nursing station.

Inspired by CrunchGear's iPhone 3.0 Scorecard, I thought I'd track my own issues.

The first release made me want additional software features, some of which are creeping in, making each update worth the price so far.




doesn't sync multiple iCal calendars


iCal Tasks aren't there (no To-Do?!)



no IP printing



Notes don't sync



can't copy-and-paste



Mail doesn't support IMAP tags



I would love if my iPod touch were a laptop killer for short trips! My biggest wish on my iPod touch/iPhone wish list is a hardware change to support a Bluetooth keyboard! Although it's the change I most want, it's hardware so I know it won't happen with a software upgrade, so I didn't put it on the list. Particularly with the pinch-zoom, I can deal with the screen size for a short while, but I just can't type as fast on the "soft" (on-screen) keyboard as on a "hard" (physical) keyboard. If I have to type for a while on a handheld, I use my Treo. Yeah, the heavier bulkier older device with the lesser screen! That's a large part of the reason why I still use my Treo (has been 3G for years! EV-DO rocks! has always synced multiple calendars!), and I'm not tempted by the iPhone. (When Sharif returned his iPhone to go back to his Treo, he gave a list of reasons that sounded a lot like this. So I'll take his lesson.)

My two "must-have" applications for work have free versions for both Palm and iPod touch/iPhone. I need ssh and VNC (although X-Windows would be better). On my Treo, I have used pssh and PalmVNC; on my iPod touch, I have downloaded but not yet used TouchTerm and VNC. The downloaded applications I use the most on on the iPod are TwitterFon, Stanza, and AirSharing. I guess that points out how I use it: I read twitter updates, ebooks, and documents I've sent over with AirSharing. Not too glamorous, but it passes the time while nursing someone else to sleep without falling asleep (yet) myself.

I did try MagicPad for its internal copy-and-paste, which is pretty cool. Innovation rocks! I notice there is a Print app (too bad I have a Canon wireless printer, not an HP). And maybe I just need Thunderbird on my iPod for the IMAP tagging and message filtering (a.k.a. smart folders).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jacuzzi Espree toilet

We went to Lowe's on Saturday, and browsed toilets while we were there (yeah, we're married). One toilet had their 5 star rating for flush power and had the high water efficiency 1.28 gallons per flush: the Jacuzzi Espree. Jacuzzi should be a good name, right? I liked our Jacuzzi hot tub in the first house.

Short version: DON'T BUY THIS TOILET!

  1. It's made in China, and the quality is even less than I would expect for that since the tank broke while we were nudging it into place (gently! I've leaned on tanks with more force than that, so I know tanks are supposed to be able to handle more than what broke this tank).
  2. The included fittings were cheap, for instance using brass instead of bronze.

Luckily Lowe's has good customer service and replaced the tank for us with no problem, but that doesn't do anything about having a flood in the downstairs bathroom that has a hardwood floor and raw wood trim (who would put wood floors in a bathroom and unfinished wood trim throughout a house is another question). High on the annoyance scale, low on the quality scale, and much too high on the price scale to forgive any of that. Don't do it.

We have replaced toilets before without a problem, so it's not a lack of skill. And I trust DH on all matters mechanical and manufacturing (cheap, brass) since that's his background. I'm very disappointed in Jacuzzi, and I'm happy that our next two hot tubs were not made by them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I looked at the new MonkeyGTD last night, and I was initially sucked by the ways I could slice and dice. I liked looking at everything, or filtering between Work and Personal realms. In addition to regular tags and Realm, there's Context, Contact, and Area as well as the GTD standards of Project and Action, and action states of Next, Waiting for, and Future. Oh, and Tickler and Reference. Ginsu!

But after pounding on it, I decided to stick with d-cubed GTD after all. I did have to add Category to it (like Area in MGTD), but I did and it wasn't too hard to do. The reason why is a very simple time-saver: GTD3 knows what to promote to "Next Action" when I've completed the previous Next Action in a Project. Looks like I have to manage those states (Next, Waiting, Future) manually in MGTD.

I should test TeamTasks too, at least its live demo, with that need for transparent next-ing fresh on my mind.

UPDATE 10:50PM: TeamTasks has Scope (MGTD Realm), Users (MGTD Contacts), Priority, and Status (from Planning to Complete). No Next/Waiting/Future. No easy-peasy auto-magic next action in TeamTasks either. I really like the pop-up menu interface to pick scope and friends, but I know myself and to stay on track, I need next actions to become next on their own (as long as I check off what I've done). I'm sure I can figure out how to add the pop-up picks by editing the tiddler that controls what task tiddler editing looks like.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Front Row

Last weekend, NASCAR caused us to miss our usual Sunday cartoons (Simpsons, King of the Hill, American Dad). Luckily we can use Hulu! It also made me want to try Front Row ... and integrate ... luckily there's understudy to fill in the blanks (or sapphire)! It works, although I did have to exit Front Row and come back in a few times. Video RSS is good. So is a VGA extender cable so we don't have to crowd around this laptop.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Wacky Weather

OK, let me get this straight. Last Sunday we had a snow storm, and the snow stayed around longer than usual because Monday's high was a mere (and meager) 32°F. Yet by Friday it was 74, and then low 80s both Saturday and Sunday. From snow to 80s in a week. I expect everyone will catch a cold!

And my flowers are blooming almost in reverse order. Daffodils were first. in February; they are usually a late sign of spring. Two weeks ago, the forsythia finally started to bloom; it's usually the first sign of spring while it's still bitter cold and we need a reminder that spring will thaw us out. Last week the crocuses bloomed; they're usually quite a while after forsythia and before daffodils. Topsy turvy!


Well, it's been almost a week, and I think I will recover from the trauma of Karston's barium swallow (upper GI fluoroscopy) Monday afternoon. I was pretty sure he wouldn't swallow, and indeed he didn't. The techs called in a senior doctor to talk to us, and he was great! He calmly explained to Karston what he needed to do, and asked if he would swallow. No? OK, well here's what we're to do instead. It's OK to cry (he said that several times), but I need you to hold still. Quick as a wink, the other doctor had a tube down his nose (that's got to hurt, but Karston didn't complain afterwards). Karston was strapped down (it was awful to watch), and he cried the whole time, but I promised to hold his hands. At one point, my nose itched, so I switched to one of my hands touching both of his hands strapped over his head. I will never forget the terrible cry, Mommy hold on to my hands! That still hurts to hear in my memory! Who cares about an itchy nose (loose hair tickled the side of my nose and started this problem; I should just shave my head except that would look terrible) compared to that?

Karston got several days of extra hugs and cuddles. I just needed to hold on to him so I could feel better, and he knew I needed it. He even volunteered to snuggle several times. Karston helped me feel better faster -- what a champ!

After his procedure late Monday afternoon, as soon as Karston was dressed again, he was bouncing around and playing. He was immediately completely better as soon as it was over; I was wrung out and feeing weak. I had to spoil him, so despite the snow falling, we went to Bandido's for the green tortilla chips he loves. And he ate chips! If he would only eat reliably, we'd skip these procedures!

Tuesday, Karston told Daddy that he saw a nice doctor yesterday. So not only did he bounce back right away, he even knew the doctors and techs cared about him! I'm very much in favor of pediatric-specific imaging centers now, because they were great to him.

By Thursday, after more snuggles with my little guy, I knew I would recover from this trauma. I can get myself to think about something else instead of hearing him call for me to hold his hands! (I never let go of one hand; just tried to hold both with one.)

I now understand this hurts me more than it hurts you. It does!