Baker man, baker man

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We cook in our house, baking…not so much.  So this year when we unwrapped a bread machine from my parents, we were delighted.  You see, we have been considering this purchase for a little while, every time we buy a five dollar loaf of bread, in fact. We took to the grocery and picked up all the necessary components.  Yeast, salt, flour, dry milk, etc., only to be left with four very unsatisfactory, dense and bland loaves of bread.  (sigh)
Bad bread is like bad pizza, it’s too easy right?  There should be little room for error–it’s four ingredients for goodness sake!
Our sad loaves inspired us.  Within three days we had bookmarked bread recipes on the internet, scoured the library for popular, and easy, recipe books for bread until we finally managed to turn out a edible loaf, one for the Gods, or at least three hungry little mouths 🙂  Turns out, bread making is quite easy when you learn to be flexible and patient, allowing for the good and the bad.  New buzz words in our kitchen are “proof”, “pre-ferment”, and “punching down”. **The latter refers to what you do to the dough once it’s rested for a bit, it can also refer to what you do to a random pillow pet that is lying around when you discover your dough hasn’t risen.  Either form is therapeutic.
Alas, we have decent bread that we are even brave enough to share with our neighbors.  The irony, of course, is that we have ditched the bread machine and mix, “proof”, and bake by hand now.  As seasoned as we have managed to become in the last month, we have come to the conclusion that the machine limits our bread baking capabilities.  Spoken like a true amateur.

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“We both have a thing!”

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This is actually what Michael said to Lily last night in the car on the way home from dinner out.  They were fumbling in the dark, trading their book or random piece of wooden play food, when they finally settled on having something they could be pleased with in hand.  They always want a “thing” in the car;  a train, a sticker, a book, what have you, as long as they are busying themselves with something tangible.  It is one of the more aggravating features of parenthood, although I am certain I brought this one on without any help from them.  If they are never given it to begin with….yada, yada, yada.
I enjoy a little peace while I drive.  Refereeing two toddlers from the front seat (because Ella is light years past this stage) is quite enough to make a person want to drive into a small building, or large road sign.  When Michael says, “Did you bring me a ‘thing’”?, I have to wonder how this began and then I remember the insurmountable amount of “things” we call toys and how they are stacked, shelved and piled into nearly half the corners of our house.  I don’t mean to sound grinchy, but I am over toys.
At Christmas I felt like my head was going to swell up and swivel off when I heard one of our children open a gift and say, “Look! It’s that ‘thing’ I wanted!  Thank you!” (At least they are gracious).  Toys are space-takers and toe-busters and I can’t help but think about all the unnecessary environmental waste they will create once given up. I will also add that I was completely freaked out the other morning when I woke up and Lily’s blinky-eyed baby doll was staring at me from the foot of our bed.
I thoroughly enjoy playing with my children and seeing them play and interact with one another, however this occurs usually with a stack of pillows or blankets they’ve pulled out of their beds–very few “things” are required to enjoy this time together.  I will never wish away time, but I will also never miss the feeling of stepping on a hot wheels car in my bare feet either.