Sunday, April 18, 2010


People. Have I told you that cooking is not my forte? Don't get me wrong; I can follow a recipe, make basic dishes, even occasionally turn something out that makes my family ask for seconds. But throw in something like "capers" or "reducing" and all of the sudden I'm no longer in my comfy world of crockpots and cream of soups.

Just know I speak the hand to God truth when I say this will never, ever be a cooking blog.

But I have discovered this fabulously easy, holy crap that's freaking good recipe and I am feeling the need to share it. Trust me when I tell you that you need to make this recipe. Want to impress your family, friends and neighbors? Need to soften up your boss before asking for that raise? Longing to have a cooking one-up on your mother-in-law? This is it, people.


Yes, bread. Simple, heart-warming, delicious, bread. Bread that you can make with your very own hands in your very own kitchen, no fancy tools required. Bread that will elicit moans of delight from the mouths of those you deign to share it with. Bread that you will want to make in double and triple quantities, because, hey, it really is that good.

I bow down to Trent at The Simple Dollar for posting this recipe. Trent, you have my taste-buds' undying love and devotion.

For those of you who are anal retentive detail oriented bakers such as myself, I am reposting the recipe here in easy-to-copy-and-paste-into-Word format.

I give you ... Bread.


¼ cup milk
5 tsp sugar (or 1 ½ tbsp)
1 tsp salt
5 tsp butter (or 1 ½ tbsp)
1 package active dry yeast (21g or 2 ¼ tsp)
2 ½ to 3 ½ cups unbleached white flour
Corn starch or nonstick cooking spray (just used to prevent the bread from sticking to the bowl or pan)

One large mixing bowl (a second one is useful, but optional – you can get by with one if you’re willing to wash it in the middle of the process)
One spoon to stir the dough
One ¼ or ½ measuring cup
One 1 tsp measuring spoon
One bread pan (i.e., meatloaf pan)
One hand towel to cover the bread dough as it rises


Warm up your mixing bowl – the best way to do that is to just fill it with hot water, then dump out the hot water, leaving the bowl rather warm. Mix up the yeast according to the directions on the packet (normal instructions are to add 1 c. water). Stir this until there are no lumps in the yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Melt the butter in the microwave, then add it, the milk, the sugar, and the salt to the yeast liquid and stir it up until everything looks the same (a very light tan liquid). Then add two cups of flour to the mix – don’t add the rest yet. Your bowl should look something like what’s shown below, where the spoon is in the bowl.

Start stirring, and then add the flour about 1/4 cup at a time every minute or so. It will stick to the spoon big time at first – don’t worry about it. Keep stirring and adding flour until the dough is still slightly sticky, but it doesn’t stick to your hands in any significant way. Also, it should largely clean the sides of the bowl, leaving just a thin layer of floury stuff. It’ll look something like this:

Now comes the fun part: kneading. Take a bit of flour between your hands and then rub them together over the top of an area on the table where you’re going to knead the dough. Do this a few times until there’s an area on the table lightly covered in flour. Then grab the dough ball out of the bowl, slap it down on the table, and start beating on it. Do this for ten minutes. Just take the dough, punch it flat, then fold it back up into a ball again, and repeat several times. You can also take it in your hands and squeeze and twist it.

When the ten minutes are up, shape it into a ball (like shown below), then either clean up the bowl you were using before or get out another bowl. Coat the inside lightly with either corn starch or nonstick cooking spray, depending on your preference, then put the ball of dough inside the bowl.

Put a cloth over the bowl and sit it somewhere fairly warm for an hour. If you have a warming area on your stove top, that’s a great place to put it – set the warming area on as low as it will go, as I’m doing in the picture above. This is a good time to clean everything else and put the stuff away, but leave the flour out and the floured area on your table untouched.

Here’s what the dough looks like before rising ...

... and then an hour later after rising, still in the bowl:

It should be roughly double the size that it was before, but don’t sweat it too much if it’s larger or smaller than that, as long as it rose at least some amount.

Punch the dough down (three or four good whacks will cause it to shrink back down to normal), then lay the dough out on the floured area and spread it out in a rectangle shape, with one side being roughly the length of the bread pan and the other side being about a bread pan and a half long.

You may need to put a bit more flour on it and on the table to prevent sticking. Then, roll it up! The roll should be roughly the same size as the bread pan, as shown below.

Tuck the ends of the roll underneath, with the “under” side being where the seam is. Then spray the bread pan down with nonstick cooking spray (or coat it with cornmeal) and put the loaf inside of the pan.

Cover that loaf up with the towel, put it back where it was before, and wait another hour. This is a good time to clean everything up, then go do something else fun. The loaf should raise some more:

Put the loaf in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) for thirty minutes. When it’s done, pull it out and immediately remove it from the pan to cool. It’ll look something like this, hopefully:

Let it cool down completely before slicing.

(If you copy this into Word, you're going to have some extra spaces. But once you delete them, it should be ready to print!)


It's so easy to tweak this recipe just a bit and get some unbelievably good variations. Prior to the roll-up step, add cinnamon and sugar to turn your bread into a mouth-watering dessert. Or replace the salt with garlic salt, and prior to roll-up add Italian seasoning (and maybe some parmesan cheese) for the perfect pasta accompaniment. Personally, next time I'm going to add sugar and cocoa because really, you can't go wrong with chocolate.

Let me know how yours turns out ... bon appétit!

*Props to Marcus for cementing this word in my mind forever, along with the laughter and good memories that come with it. Long live D&D nerds! ;-)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Tale of The Bed and The Condom (it's not what you're thinking)

Memory foam is a fabulous invention.

Memory foam mattress pads are even better. Like sleeping on a wee bit o' fluffy heaven.

Until, that is, you add children who like to sleep with their parents but still occasionally wet the bed. Oh, and cats who act out in stress by peeing on your sheets.

At that point, your wee bit o' fluffy heaven becomes a big effing piece of shit from hell. It sucks up the pee smell and it's impossible to clean, and when you try to clean it anyway it's impossible to dry, and it's OMG WHY THE HELL DID WE EVER BUY THIS THING?!?


After one episode of goddamn-it-why-aren't-you-in-your-own-bed child pee and three episodes of stressed-out cat pee in the space of exactly 6 days, we decided that we needed to either really clean the thing or just get rid of it already. I don't know about you, but sleeping with the enchanting smell of urine under my toes is just not high on my list of best ways to spend my down time.

After pouring about a gallon of Nature's Miracle on it, the pad had evolved into smelling like chemical-treated urine. So. Awesome. We made the last-ditch decision to pull it off the bed and clean it in the bathtub, using the shower head to soak it thoroughly in the desperate hope that we wouldn't have to throw $125 of "innovative, hypo-allergenic, temperature-smart, open-cell therapeutic foam*" out the window. Or, out the slider and off the deck, if you will.

We spent about an hour wrestling the damn thing into the tub and soaking it down. I'll tell you what, if I ever live in a house where basement flooding is a problem, I'll just line the floors with memory foam. That crap sucks up water like nobody's business. We did our best to (very, very carefully) dry it out, but after almost another hour of employing every drying technique we could think of, we still had a water-logged, 500-pound behemoth on our hands. Oy.

But! A genius plan came bubbling up out of the depths of my foolhardy brain. For the sake of fun and adventure**, we hefted the dripping pad back in the bedroom, on top of the bed. No, we did not put it directly on the mattress. Come on, do you really think we're that stupid?

You know what? Don't even go there. Do not even go there, people.

Anyway, we laid it on top of a couple sheets so that we could spread it out nice and flat. Then we proceeded to suck every last drop of water out with our fabulous, industrial-strength steam cleaner. Quick as a wink, our pad was good as new and ready for us to lay down for a stink-free good night's sleep.

Or, maybe - just maybe - my genius plan of using the steam cleaner did not work out quite so well. And maybe - just maybe - it took us another hour of hard labor to admit that. And maybe - just maybe, people - we ended up dragging it back into the tub with the admittedly stupid idea that it would just dry on its own. For thirty two days. But whatever.

Either way, in the end, we had ourselves a clean, dry, non-smelly mattress pad.

{pause for applause}

(Hey, I applauded, okay?)

(Quit looking at me like that.)

The night we declared the pad to be bedworthy, I announced to my husband that I had purchased a new mattress accessory. Voilà! Enter the queen size vinyl mattress protector! We had a huge fight loud argument heated discussion nice chat about the pros and cons of topping memory foam with a layer of vinyl. Despite his reluctance, N gracefully bowed to my request that we try putting the vinyl on top of the pad, where it would actually do some good in the event of yet another urine-fest. Or, I may have possibly said something snotty along the lines of the vinyl would go on top or the pad would go in the trash right then and there. I'm not really sure. Details, they slip my mind at times.

Lying in bed that night, after weeks of sleeping on an incredibly uncomfortable mattress, I blissfully reveled in the return of my beloved wee bit o' fluffy heaven. Sleepily, I turned to N and cuddled close. He lovingly put his arms around me before speaking.

"This mattress protector ... "

"Yes?" I yawned. "It isn't as bad as all that now, is it. Admit it, you can barely feel the thing." Even 90% asleep, I feel the need to not only be right, but also have the last word about it.

"It's ... it's ... it's like we've put a condom on our memory foam."

I laughed so hard, I peed.

*So says the Product Description on Amazon***
**aka, sheer stubbornness
***I may have manipulated the Product Description a smidge for the purposes of this post

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Beyond Snapshots is giving away a gorgeous red Lola epiphanie camera bag. They asked for photo entries that represent red.

This is Kays, warming up after a couple hours of Christmas tree hunting. To me, this is what red means ... holidays, soft sweaters, cute hats, sweetheart lips, and that hint of color in the cheeks of a child who has been playing in the crisp, cold winter air.

Go here to enter your own snapshot for a chance to win the bag - but know if you do, I might be forced sneak into your house one night and steal it. 'Cause, yeah, it's that awesome.

You can see a much clearer copy of this pic on my Flickr page. Blogger is not so hot on the uploading of the photos.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Please Call Back When Someone Nicer Is Available To Speak With You

Ring ring ...

Me: "Science Department*, this is Jennifer."

Old Man: "Yes, can I speak with Barbie Balooma?"

"I'm sorry sir, I don't know who that is; there's no one in our department by that name."

{Confused laugh} "Oh, okay, sorry, bye."

"Good bye."

(5 minutes later)

Ring ring ...

"Medicinal Chemistry, this is Jennifer."

"Hi, I need to speak to Barbie Balooma."

"I'm sorry sir, you just called here and I couldn't help you. Are you looking for someone in the Higher Education Science department?"

"No, she's in the Finance department."

"Well, this is Science. If you have internet access, you can go to and look up her name in the search bar on the home page."

{Very confused Old Man voice} "Hmmm, I guess I'm just doing everything wrong here! Okay, well, then, good bye."

"Good bye."

(2 minutes later)

(Conscience gets the best of me; I look up 'Balooma' and 'Barbie' before hitting paydirt on 'Barby' - it's Bamahloo, by the way)

Ring ring ...


"Hello, sir, you just called me asking for Barby Bamahloo. I was able to look up her number and would be happy to give it to you."

"Oh, if you would look it up for me, that would be great!"

"I already looked it up for you sir; I have it right here."

"Oh, well, just let me get a pen, hold on just a second ..."



(2 minutes later)

(Feeling pissy)


{Grab phone}

{Begin dialing}

{Phone rings on my end}

{Switch to ringing line}

"Science Department, this is Jennifer."

"Hi, you just called me but I disconnected you."

"Yes, yes you did. Are you ready for the number?"

"I'm ready, go ahead."

"It's 555-123-4567."

"55 ... what?"

"555. 123."

{repeats} "555. 1 ... ?"

"1. 2. 3."

{repeats} "555. 123. Okay."

"4. 5."

{repeats} "4. 5."


{repeats} "6."


{repeats} "7?"

"Yes, 7."


"You've got it sir."

"555-123-4567. Okay, thank you so much sweety!"

{eyeroll} "Mmm-hmmm. Have a great day."

"Buh bye!"


I get karma points for that, don't I? Please tell me I do.

*Names have been changed to protect the bitchy

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hello, My Name is Jenn and I'm ...

... ? I don't know about you, but I just can't finish that statement with a few pithy words. I'm pretty sure that I'm not alone in my multi-facetedness - doesn't everyone have a lot going on with their personality? No? Just me? Well, alrighty then. Why don't I list a few things that make me such an *ahem* interesting person, and you can pick and chose whichever ones make your skirt fly up, mmmkay?

... a reader. And I don't just mean someone who reads books, I mean someone who would breathe the printed word if possible. I took a test today (yay for the Internets!) and learned that I read at 750 words per minute. If that doesn't mean anything to you, well, we really can't be friends now, can we.

... a smidge bit stubborn. And by smidge, I mean unbelievably. Don't tell my husband I admitted that. I blame my dad. Don't tell my dad I said that.

... an overly proud parent. I'm sure all my Facebook friends are tired of hearing about my two incredible, smart, beautiful, talented, amazing children. Too bad. That's what the hide button is for, guys.

... a dog trainer. Part-time only, due to the necessity of having room for another job that actually pays the bills. I love dog training. I hate people. Surprisingly, this does not cause problems as often as one might think it would. Clients tell me I'm great (shut up! they do!), but after 3 years of training, working with hundreds of dogs of all breeds, ages, and behavior issues, I still occasionally feel like I have no idea what I am doing. Please do not read the previous sentence if you are interested in hiring me.

... a full-time executive assistant. And I just got interrupted by work. Really, the things they expect of me around here.

... a fallen-away Catholic. Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, and Church Marriage all under my belt, and here I sit, feeling completely apathetic about ever going to mass again. In my world, being gay is not a choice and everyone deserves the right to get married. I think that abortions within the first 4 months should be legal, because it's not my right to impose my religious beliefs ("life begins at conception") on anyone else. Yeah. Not so much fitting in with the Catholic crowd these days.

... a person who believes in ghosts, psychic powers, and aliens. After seeing Sheena as a child, I spent years believing I could talk to animals. Some days, I still do. What?

... a pill-popping downer. Don't worry, the pill-popping cancels out the downer part. That's what my doctor says anyway.

... an obsessor, with no ability to let things go. Especially when those things are me doing something stupid and/or embarrassing. Or when I get utterly screwed over by random store employees. Have I told you the Hollywood Video story? Let's go with the short version, which is that I am on year 10 of my Hollywood Video boycott. Fuck those fuckers. (Mom, if you're reading this, please edit the last sentence to 'darn those meanies.' And put the bar of soap down, okey dokey?)

... a statistic in the 'morbidly obese' column. I don't know what the hell I'm going to do about that. Lord knows I need to do something.

... a dreamer. I dream of being an author, editor, crazy cat lady, and lazy woman of leisure. I dream of having a home with built-in bookcases in every room, including the kitchen and all bathrooms. I dream of getting 9-10 hours of sleep per night on a regular basis. I dream of the Pacific Ocean, Magic Mountain, and Claim Jumper. I dream that I am sitting at work and all of the sudden get this overwhelming urge to ... you know what? Never mind.

... a woman with little tolerance for females of the happy clappy persona. I am not interested in befriending someone who farts rainbows and shits sunshine. Come now, sit here on the bitchy bench with me. Isn't that better?

... a straight-arrow. The anti-partier. Bor. Ing. I'm just too old/tired/fat/broke to be fun.

... an odd duck. I can't listen to someone's voicemail without leaving a message. I only like even numbers, especially when it comes to setting my alarm or the microwave. I'm anal-retentive at work but a complete slob at home, even though the results of my slobbiness drive me insane. I want to be more liked, and am seriously annoyed with myself for the wanting. My Sahara-Desert-dry skin sucksass but I can't be bothered with lotion. Random smells make me gag, but I can handle my kids' vomit without blinking. Oh, did I go a bit too far there? Oops.

... a girl whose brother is dead. It's been seven years, and I still haven't learned to live without him.

... a wife and mother. Most days, I feel that I am not particularly good at being these things. My husband and kids kind of got screwed. Sorry guys.

... a Pampered Chef hostess currently having a catalog party. Want to buy some cookware?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Diary of a Snow Shoveler

Being a So Cal transplant here in Virginia, I rather enjoy the snow. The majority of my friends and neighbors hate it. We don't usually get much, but this winter there has been a lot more than normal. So I'm sending out this little piece of humor to all my local friends who tell me I'm crazy for loving the snow, and my back-home friends who are jealous that we are getting snowed-in :-).


December 8 - 6:00 PM It started to snow. The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven. It looked like a Grandma Moses Print. So romantic we felt like newlyweds again. I love snow!

December 9 - We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Can there be a lovelier place in the whole world? Moving here was the best idea I've ever had! Shoveled for the first time in years and felt like a boy again. I did both our driveway and the sidewalks. This afternoon the snow plough came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again. What a perfect life!

December 12 - The sun has melted all our lovely snow ... such a disappointment! My neighbor tells me not to worry- we'll definitely have a white Christmas. No snow on Christmas would be awful! Bob says we'll have so much snow by the end of winter that I'll never want to see snow again. I don't think that's possible. Bob is such a nice man, I'm glad he's our neighbor.

December 14 - Snow, lovely snow! 8 inches last night. The temperature dropped to -20. The cold makes everything sparkle so. The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. This is the life! The snow plough came back this afternoon and buried everything again. I didn't realize I would have to do quite this much shoveling, but I'll certainly get back in shape this way. I wish I wouldn't huff and puff so.

December 15 - 20 inches forecast. Sold my van and bought a 4x4 Blazer. Bought snow tires for the wife's car and 2 extra shovels. Stocked the freezer. The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I think that's silly. We aren't in Alaska, after all.

December 16 - Ice storm this morning. Fell on my rear on the ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like hell. The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was very cruel.

December 17 - Still way below freezing. Roads are too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for 5 hours. I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should've bought a wood stove, but won't admit it to her. God I hate it when she's right. I can't believe I'm freezing to death in my own living room.

December 20 - Electricity's back on, but had another 14 inches of the darn stuff last night. More shoveling! Took all day. The dam snow plough came by twice. Tried to find a neighbor kid to shovel, but they said they're too busy playing hockey. I think they're lying. Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower and they're out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they're lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me. I think he's lying.

December 22 - Bob was right about a white Christmas because 13 more inches of the white crap fell today, and it's so cold, it probably won't melt till August. Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to pee. By the time I got undressed, peed and dressed again, I was too tired to shovel. Tried to hire Bob who has a plough on his truck for the rest of the winter, but he says he's too busy. I think the butthole is lying.

December 23 - Only 2 inches of snow today. And it warmed up to 0. The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning. What is she, nuts?!! Why didn't she tell me to do that a month ago? She says she did but I think she's lying.

December 24 - 6 inches. Snow packed so hard by snow plough, I broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack. If I ever catch the son of a bitch who drives that snow plough, I'll drag him through the snow by his balls and beat him to death with my broken shovel. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shoveling and then he comes down the street at 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over where I've just been! Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was too busy watching for the darn snow plough.

December 25 - Merry frisking Christmas! 20 more inches of the darn slop tonight - we're snowed in. The idea of shoveling makes my blood boil. God, I hate the snow! Then the snow plough driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel. The wife says I have a bad attitude. I think she's a frisking idiot. If I have to watch "It's A Wonderful Life" one more time, I'm going to stuff her into the microwave.

December 26 - Still snowed in. Why the hell did I ever move here? It was all HER idea. She's really getting on my nerves.

December 27 - Temperature dropped to -30 and the pipes froze; plumber came after 14 hours of waiting for him, he only charged me $1,400 to replace all my pipes.

December 28 - Warmed up to above -20. Still snowed in. My WIFE is driving me crazy!!!

December 29 - 10 more inches. Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in. That's the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he think I am?

December 30 - Roof caved in. I beat up the snow plough driver, and now he is suing me for a million dollars, not only the beating I gave him but also for trying to shove the broken snow shovel up his BUTT. The wife went home to her mother. 9 more inches predicted.

December 31 - I set fire to what's left of the house. No more shoveling.

January 8 - Feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep giving me. Why am I tied to the bed?