Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Love My Grocery Store

It is called Valli Produce, and for those of you in the area, it is on the corner-ish of Roselle and Higgins roads. 
I suppose it is part of a small chain of Italian/other ethnicities stores, as there are a few in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. I don't know why I capitalized that. Seemed right at the time. 
Okay, so they always have an amazing selection of produce... 
           freaking LOOK AT THIS
yeah baby, that's red bell peppers at 99 CENTS A POUND, PEOPLE; baby bok choy, leeks, cilantro, green onions, limes at TEN FOR A DOLLAR!!!!
 fresh French baguettes, and their prices on lunch meat CANNOT be beat. The cashiers are ALWAYS friendly. The gorgeous woman who checked me out complimented my hair-she was sweet. The staff looks and sounds mostly Latina. Not as though that matters at ALL, but I've found that they (meaning Mexicans, Ecuadorians, El Salvadorians, et al) are extremely hard working and friendly. 
It is nice to shop in a place where they play opera in the morning and your cashier knows to NOT bag bread and raw chicken together. 
I just...I'm so fond of this place. Just GET THERE BEFORE 9 AM. Seriously, after 9 it is a shithouse in there. I think they made the aisles like one inch too narrow or something. 
So...two posts in one day. I uploaded some other photos and I really like this one:
its pretty blurry but i like Milo's face. 

Maybe a Bummer, but With Less Cursing

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Althea...(my mommy taught me that was the best way to begin a story)
...and she went to an overcrowded high school in Round Lake that she hated. But there were a few bright spots in the four years she spent there. One of them was a bright bubbly blonde girl with a wide smile. Occasionally Althea would share an orange or a salad, or some french fries with her, and this blonde girl would always save a seat for her in the cafeteria every day. During freshman and sophomore year, this act of kindness didn't go unnoticed. Formative teen years and all, Althea always remembered this girl. 

As the years went by, people moved away and moved back. They got married and had babies and worked at TGIFriday's and lived and loved and hated and screwed and cried, laughed, wept...
Then Facebook brought us all back together. Althea honestly never thought she would see those RLHS people again. Most of them she was glad to interact with. Some she was confused by-why would a person she never talked to ten years ago want to 'friend' her now?

The best part was seeing who married whom. Quite a few of her schoolmates married each other-that she knew of...
This blonde girl married a tall, skinny, quiet one. At least...Althea knew him vaguely as the tall, quiet, skinny, brilliant one. People do change...Althea was happy that these two sweethearts stayed with each other. It speaks to love very pure and very true. It warms the cockles of Althea's cold black heart. 

This blonde girl (who is now a woman), and this brilliant boy (who is now a man) had two babies, both boys. One just a little while ago. 
This new baby is sick. 
This makes Althea sadder than most things do. 
Althea's parents lost their very first baby together. Not lost like she lost her stupid keys yesterday. Lost as in dead. As in born prematurely and died. 
Althea's mommy and daddy never lied to her about this baby. She always knew that they were VERY sad when she (was a girl) died and when Althea was born they were VERY happy. And that is why they named Althea Althea. 
switching back to first person now. this third person garbage is tough. 
I've always thought about that sister. The one I will someday meet in Heaven. For some reason I think she will have a round face and long black hair. I have had these thoughts as long as I can remember. In a way, I think maybe I grew up with her. 
This family now, this one with the sick baby, is hurting. They have been called upon to endure (what I consider to be) the most painful, agonizing, heart-and-soul-wrenching situation known to humankind.
To not know. To not be able to help or comfort or fix their baby. 
I'd imagine their suffering is immense. I can only hope that they have faith in God. In miracles. 
Hug your families a little closer and harder. Right now, if you can. And however you speak to your higher being, say a few words for this teeny person you don't even know. His name is Jacob, and he needs a miracle. 
You can bet your ass I'm asking my God for one. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When Organization Goes Terribly Wrong (expletive-laden)

As the title of this blog indicates, I am not the world's most organized person. 
I do try,however. I lose things a lot less often than I used to. 
I was stuck in the house all day yesterday...a prisoner to the nap schedule of my toddler and the work schedule of the Att&t guy who fixed our interwebs. 
Today was going to be my day to grocery shop (the cupboards are fucking BARE here) and get out of the house. 
I am notorious for losing my keys inside houses. So I have a PLACE FOR THEM!!!!! A bowl on my counter! And they are nowhere to be found. 
This is me right now (literally):
I am pissed. This throws off my entire day. I better find them, and if they....I don't even know. I REALLY want to cry and break things. Few things make me want to lose my temper more than losing (misplacing) things. It makes me feel stupid. 
And no, I am NOT overreacting, thankyouverymuch. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

I have a problem

It is a mental problem, and one I wish that I could remove from myself completely. Like a scab or tumor or split ends. 
When I hear negative things about myself, critical things...I replay them over and over in my head. 
Eventually they get very loud, and sometimes I self-medicate. 
Sometimes I end up in the fetal position-but that is a luxury I don't allow myself too often. I know that my mood affects the mood of my household, and so I honestly do try to be at least NOT evil most days. 
I really do wish I could purge this from myself completely. Maybe someday I will. But for now I need to stop this evil audio tape in my head. 
This isn't to say that I couldn't benefit from constructive criticism. I KNOW that I am too sensitive sometimes, and it was a resolution of mine to try and be like the duck and let things roll off my back. 
But yeah, sometimes I wish I could be showered with praise all the time. I guess that is sort of blasphemous. Sorry. Here is a random photo of 18-year-old me. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wanna Learn Something?

I can teach you how to make bread! It is cheaper than buying it AND there's no weird ingredients!
Ready? OKAY!
Get all your junk together. This recipe was adapted from the Joy of Cooking. I have a badass mixer, but you CAN make this entirely by hand. 
First, take 2 1/4 teaspoons (or one package) of yeast and sprinkle it over 1 cup of hot water (I just use a measuring cup). Add a pinch of sugar. The water and sugar will feed the yeast and get it all nice and foamy. If your yeast doesn't foam, GET SOME NEW YEAST!
Mix together in a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer, if using):
2 cups flour-I use all-purpose unbleached, but you can use any kind you like...bread flour, wheat flour, whatever tickles you. 
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I use kosher salt because that's what I have on hand)
Stir all that together. By now your yeast should be nice and foamy. 
Melt 2 tablespoons butter. I stick it in the microwave for a little less than a minute. 
Pour the yeasty water and melted butter into your dry ingredients. 

This is what it looks like at the beginning. Sticky, wet, nothing like bread dough. I do recommend making this by hand at least once so you get the 'feel' of how the dough changes. Its pretty cool. 

Measure out another cup and a half of flour and start adding, spoonful by spoonful:

See how it is getting less sticky? This is where I switch to the dough hook. If you are making this by hand, this is where you would dump it onto a floured surface and start kneading. Great for aggression. 
Dough hook. Flour. You get it. You want the dough to NOT BE STICKY. 
Give the mixing paddle to your weird little kid who tries to convince you that raw bread dough is yummy:

This is what you are going for: clean sides of bowl, dough that creeps up the hook. See how it has changed? If you are using your hands you will totally feel a difference. 
The amount of flour is a guideline. Some days you will need more, some days a little less. Try to err on the side of less, but this is a learning experience. Knead with the dough hook on speed 2 for about 10 minutes. Or, until a fingerpoked dent quickly fills back in. 
Oil a large bowl and put the dough in. Flip the dough around so all the surfaces are oily. 

This will help it rise.
Put the bowl someplace warm and draft-free. 
I have a crazy-sunny balcony so I set it outside. You want to let it rise until it has doubled in size. If it is winter, you can turn on your oven to like 200 degrees and put the bowl on top. This rise can take anywhere from 30 minutes to am hour. Oh yeah, cover it with plastic wrap. You can also use a clean tea towel. 

See? Doubled!!!!
Punch that sucker down. 

Milo helped. 
Remove from bowl and flatten into a circle. 
 Usually the leftover oil is enough to make the dough NOT sticky. Resist the urge to add more flour. Try to keep your toddler's hands off the dough. 
Fold the sides in towards one another, making a rough rectangle.
Again, try to keep your toddler's hands away. 
Starting at the narrow end, roll that bad boy up. Pinch all your seams shut-this is important. If you don't pinch, your bread will have all kinds of weird annoying holes when you slice it. 

Tuck the ends under and put into a greased loaf pan. Make sure the shirt ends are touching the pan-this will support the loaf as it rises a second time. 

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled. This will take about 30-45 minutes.
Thanks, Milo. 

This is a little over-risen. I left the house to run (what I thought would be) a super-short errand. It wasn't. Lesson: don't leave the house when you are making bread. Although you COULD let it rise overnight in the fridge, then wake up and let it come to room temp, set in the pan and go for the second rise. 
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees!!!
Bake for 10 minutes. This will give you a nice crust and a nice third mini-rise in the oven. SWEET!
Turn the oven down to 350 and let bake for 30 minutes. I recommend setting a timer and checking your bread. Ovens are different and you might have to adjust baking time. 
The best way to tell if your bread is ready is to take it out of the pan and knock on the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it is ready! 
Remove from pan and let cool on a rack

Tadah!!!! I have no idea why this is kind of upside-down. But see how the top (bottom, in the photo) isn't very high? That is because the dough over-rose and was too weak to support the top. I was kinda pissed because the previous loaf I made rose PERFECTLY.
Let it cool completely before you cut it. 
Now I have typed the word 'loaf' too many times. 
Have a good day everyone-I hope you bake some bread! Its rather satisfying, makes your house smell good and people are generally impressed when you do it. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Dialogue

Milo: 'Hey, you're pretty. Let me hug you.'
Shyanne: 'uh, lemme think about that.'

S:'On second thought, I'd prefer that you didn't hug me at this time. Thank you.'
'Was that your mommy or my mommy?'

M: 'I've got an idea.Let's go play with that water some more. I notice that I have no pants on and you are in a bikini. LET US GET CRAZY!!!!!!!'
S: 'Yes, I agree. That sounds splendid.'
M:'Ah crap. We can't turn this on. FIX IT, LADY!!!!!'
S:'What the hell are you talking about? I've just got this adorable belly. What do you expect me to do???'

S: *blink*
M: 'I'm friggen serious here. Its blazingly hot and one of us needs to figure this out. I am pointing to illustrate this.'
S: *thinking this kid is nuts* 'What's that over there?!'

M: 'See? Now it is over there.'
S: 'I don't know what that is, but I wants it.'

M: 'Whoa. Gravity. There's quite a lot of it over here.'
S: 'Whatever. I'm getting cheese fries.'


Monday, July 19, 2010

Oh such a wedding!!!

My middle sister got married this past Saturday...I'll just post photos and say that it was amazing and beautiful. 
My mom made the centerpieces, aren't they cute? The glass cups had sayings printed on them. 
This is my cousin Spencer and Milo playing cars. Milo LOVES Spencer-who has the sweetest, kindest soul ever. 

Grama Billeck, the matriarch of my maternal side of the family. It is a big family. 

My dad and my Uncle Duck-he's my mom's little brother. But as you can see, he is not little at all. He is in fact really big and intimidating if you don't know him. He gives really good hugs. 

My baby sister. Isn't she STUNNING??????? I tried to edit out the limo driver behind her. I didn't do such a great job, but hey...what are you gonna do?
We arrived and waited in the limo for everyone to be ready (or something) for us. This is my sister Megan (the bride, obviously) and our dad. 

That's the bride (I wanted to show her train)and our parents. 

The ceremony, performed by Justin's (the groom) sister Heather. Short and sweet, which was good because it was nine million degrees in the sun. 
I am not joking. It felt like Dubai. I have never been to Dubai and it is probably WAY HOTTER there. But still. Damn, it was HOT. 

The bridal party. My eyes are closed because I was PRAYING, okay?!
wow, it kind of looks like I have a butt. NICE!

The happy couple. 

Mom and Megan. Could have cropped this...gah. 

This is what my Aunt Sam looks like when she thinks what you just said is really actually funny. My family has a highly evolved (or devolved, depending how you look at it) sense of humor, and making them laugh like that ... well I consider it a triumph. 

From left: me, Emilie, Megan, Grama Wanda, and our dad.Oh, and someone's arm. 

Hey everyone! This is what I look like when I have more than 10 minutes to get myself ready! WOOOOO!!!
I also like this photo because you can see that my eyes and Milo's eyes are the same. 

This is our new thing. I squeeze him and say, 'mmmmmy BABY!!!!'. Then he squeezes back and says, 'mmmmyyyy BABY!'. Although I am trying to explain that he needs to call me Mommy. 
Also...holy eyeliner. And no fake lashes. I was fully blessed in the lash department. Word. 
That's about it for now. 
I have a bread making tutorialish in the works and a series of REALLY funny photos of Milo and another little one from the wedding. But those will have to wait. I am physically and emotionally exhausted. Just wanted to get a few photographs up so that family that reads this can see. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

I heart iPhoto

This is probably going to be my last post until Monday, as this will be a crazy wedding weekend!!!

I'll be flying around doing random things like:

Making this:
It is called Texas Caviar or something like that. Its basically canned, rinsed black beans and chickpeas with chopped celery, bell pepper, onion, cilantro and a can of corn. Oh, and 8 oz of Italian dressing. I thought that was a bit much, but this is supposed to chill overnight. I made it early this morning and won't be serving it until 6 or 7 tonight, so I think we'll be fine. It is meant to be eaten as a dip with tortilla chips. I'm bringing it to my future sister-in-law's house for Megan and Justin's rehearsal dinner. 
Wait. She's Justin's sister. Justin is marrying MY sister. I don't know if that makes Justin's sister anything to me. 
I don't know. I don't even think I pluralized that correctly. Ah well.

Doing this:

Catastrophe Cosmetic mask from Lush.It has blueberries in it and smells divine. I love iPhoto because I had a blueberry under my nose in this photo and it looked like a booger. But I edited it out! Sweet!  I actually did this one yesterday. I'll do Ayesha tonight with my sisters. 

And maybe letting Milo finish watching Harry Potter:

He very much likes the train to Hogwarts, and the Enchanted Car. I hope we can read the books together when he's older. I tried to get into the books in order to understand the movies, but it never really happened. I do think whatserface is a pretty good storyteller, though. And I am happy she is now a gazillionbrazillionpraskillionaire. 
I like how he has his feet kicked up behind him in this one. 

Have a great weekend to the two (three?) people who read this~~~pray for good weather on Saturday!!!!