Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I'd make a lousy Pioneer.

Summer is hot. I know. News flash, right?

Our air conditioning was installed in 1991. To say it has seen better days would be an understatement. That puppy can groan like an comedy audience subjected to nothing but Laughy Taffy rappers.

Last year it died. A mere 72 hours after the mortgage was signed. Fortunately for us, the previous owners purchased a Home Warranty. We asked to have the system replaced. They said they'd shove in some freon and if it failed again they'd consider it.

When the mechanic came out, we inquired concerning the price to replace it ourselves. He estimated 5,000-7,000. We declined.

Almost 1 year later (to the day!) it died, again. Our warranty had now expired -just one week before, of course. The idea of just putting in freon again was debated, but we felt the estimated price (more than $300) was not worth the results. We knew the leak was only getting bigger, and just throwing money down that hole was undesirable.

"We can tough it out!" I cried. "People have lived without cold air for thousands of years! There's only a few more months of summer! We'll be like pioneers, strong and faithful! We have a basement! It will be fine!"

(do I sound convincing? I think I was trying to convince myself.)

So off Hubby went on a trip, and I played at home. Day after day, we sweated. Girly-Lou and Buddy started fighting all day long. 'Lil started being fussy, and was only pseudo happy if she was in my arms. I started snapping over small insignificant things. No one was sleeping. Humidity levels inside the house began to resemble sauna conditions. Anything with paper began curling - the calendar, the notebooks, every book in the house looked like it had been dipped in water and then left to dry. The idea of cooking anything was as painful as sandpaper over a sunburn. And still we sweated. And stewed. And tensions grew and grew.

Hubby came home. I informed him I was not meant to be a pioneer. I was weak. I could not take it any longer and we needed to find another option. He just looked at me, confused at the difference. Just four days before I had been the one to convince him that no action was needed.

Now I was this blubbering mess floundering before him.

"Are you sure?" he inquired? "I think we might be ok."

"Live with us for 24 hours and then look me in the eyes and say that." I replied.

4 hours later he started looking up phone numbers.

Quotes began coming in. The news was comforting. For a fraction of the original price quoted, we could replace the entire system. Funds were gathered, and the new system chosen. Hubby stayed at home while I loaded the kids up and headed to the mall. For our family's sake, we just could not handle the heat any longer.

4 hours later a motor began running. A trickle of frigid air began the agonizing battle to vanquish the heat. It's struggling to win, but will eventually be victorious. Especially once we stop sitting on top of all the vents.

There is a reason I was not born 200 years ago. My family needs cool, drier air to not self destruct. Air conditioning has left the realm of luxury and turned into necessity. And how blessed I am that I only had to live for seven days before I understood just how lucky I am.

Now excuse me. I need to get back to my vent seat before someone else claims it.

Ahh. Cool, dry air. Life is good.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Welcome to the Euless Bakery

I'm not precisely sure what has ignited my culinary bug, but it has surfaced with a rapidity that could prove rather detrimental to my waist line.

In the course of a few short days, I have baked the following:

4 loaves of bread
2 batches of bagels
cupcakes: 12 full sized and 24 mini
2 dozen cinnamon rolls
super easy cookies*
Peanut Butter Rollies (think O'henry bars with cheerios in a ball)

If you go back just a few weeks more, you would find several other kinds of cookies, cupcakes that look like hamburgers, dinners, rolls, and more.

My family has been very satisfied with my offerings. However, it has been a bit of a learning experience for me. So in the interest of full disclosure (Not that I ever promised such, but hey, it sounds good), I have discovered the following things.

#1. I really wish my kitchen aid was capable of mixing more than 2 loaves of bread at once.

#2. Of course if my Kitchen aid could mix that much, I would also need more than 2 loaf pans.

#3. Making 2 batches of bread back to back is an interesting experience.

#4. Following that with 2 batches of bagels makes for a very. long. morning.

#5. Homemade bagels are tasty and fun, but very time consuming and HOT. SWEATY. WORK.

#6. Baking bread is a very different experience when you are no longer 4000 ft above sea level, and instead have close to 100% humidity (hello 20 minute rise!)

#7. Requiring your kitchen aid to mix/knead for approximately 75 minutes makes the motor VERY HOT.

#8. Burn sprays are a beautiful thing.

#9. Silpats are a bakers best friend.

#10. Even though the recipe said it would work, rubbing oil on a cookie sheet is not adequate for bagels.

#11. Strange shapes left from bagel turning will look like fried chicken to a 4 year old.

#12. 4 year olds get frustrated when overcooked bread lumps do not taste like fried chicken.

#13. I am super grateful that I do not live in a circumstance which would require me to always bake my own bread. The idea of making 10 loaves at a time in a bustle oven in the summer - yuck.

#14. All this cooking in the middle of July with crazy humidity? I can only plead temporary insanity. Hopefully for all of us it will remain only temporary!

*My standard go to cookie. 4 ingredients, honestly less than 20 minutes from start to finish. If you want the recipe, just ask and I'll post it later.

**Ok, so jigglers are totally not baked. But they do make your kitchen hot and steamy, so I felt that it fit the list.
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