Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Manna from Sweden!

A couple weeks ago, I noticed one of my recent clients was once again listed on my work schedule. She was having issues with her CapTel 800i telephone and needed my assistance, but her appointment wasn't for another week. Since I was delivering in her area, I called to see if I could come sooner. She was thrilled...of course.

When I arrived at her home, I saw beautiful rounds of homemade bread cooling on her countertop. More rounds were baking in the oven and the house smelled scrumptious. After I successfully fixed her new phone and I knew I was, once again, her best friend, I thought I should inquire about her recipe. I'm sneaky like that.

She graciously offered me a warm round bread loaf and went downstairs to copy the recipe that had been passed down from generation to generation. In fact, when the current recipe card was written in English, her own mother (years ago), scribbled the measurements back into Swedish so she could read the recipe....I have that scribble! As a bonus, I also received another recipe that was written completely in Swedish on the card, "Äpple kaka" or Apple Cake. She went over the Apple Cake recipe so I understood that "socker" was sugar and "bakpulver" is baking powder. She completely lost me when she started talking about dl measurements and I figured I would never be able to make the cake until I opened my recent IKEA catalogue and saw this....

$4.99 and it has DL markings on the side! Yes, it's providence.

The bread round was delicious! So amazingly delicious! It almost tasted like a scone, but it wasn't fried. My client told me that in Sweden they eat open faced sandwiches. They cut the round in half and then slice the half down the middle to make a "sandwich". I thought about how yummy and appetizing the rounds looked and how having a beautiful bakery type bun might just make our plain old turkey sandwich a bit more appetizing.

The next morning, I decided to try my hand at this new way of making bread. I was stuck in the humdrum of making loaves of bread and most of it would go to waste. The bread was never what my kids or I wanted to eat. It's not that it wasn't good, it just wasn't what we were accustomed know, Sara Lee or Home Pride. On the first try, several rounds came out
beautiful and few came out a little flat. I made 17 rounds of different sizes from one batch. My KitchenAid Professional 5 mixer was protesting the whole time, but I stroked and kissed it and she grumbled her way through the kneading process. Whew!! The twins sprinkled grated cheese on top of the flat ones and made open-face cheese sandwiches, which I praised them long as they clean up their mess. I'm always saying that around here. For dinner the next night, I spread garlic butter on a few rounds and baked them in the oven for several minutes. They were marvelous! I was thrilled when we were down to the last two loaves, so I decided to make another batch....hoping this wasn't a fluke and I might be able to use this recipe as our choice of bread. Never again buying sliced bread from the grocery store would be a dream come true!

My second attempt was even better, except that my KitchenAid was not at all happy that I wasn't making brownies or banana bread. I think she has a sweet tooth. I discovered my KitchenAid is only good for soft mixes (cake, brownie, sweet breads and pudding), which is a total disappointment, by the way. I think I should save my pennies or ask Santa for one of these....

Yes, I know it's currently $359, but I hear it's the BEST bread mixer around. In fact, my Swedish client has one that is 30 years old. Of course it's not this exact model, but it does everything. Oh Santa, I BELIEVE!

Oh yeah, the second try. All my rounds came out beautiful and I even made little ones, for personal sized sandwiches. I figured I'd try making small ones to fit into the kids Bento boxes since I'll be making school lunches soon. The kids grabbed warm rounds and gobbled them up. Chloe made a PB&J sandwich on one yesterday and exclaimed, "That was the BEST peanut butter sandwich ever!" With some of the dough I added dried basil, oregano, and garlic to make herb breadsticks for our pasta dinner that night.

For our large family, I'll be baking this bread a lot and you know what? I'm completely happy about that!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back To School shopping...EEK!

Today I registered my 14 year old son, Casey, for High School. If that isn't traumatizing enough, I about had a coronary when they told me what I needed to pay in order for Casey to receive his schedule. Having made the decision early last year that Casey would travel daily to a public charter school that specializes in performing arts, we knew there could be extra costs associated with that. We are also well aware that High School costs are staggering. Having two almost 17 year olds...we're used to the $100+ each fees.

Registration Fees: I forked over the main High School fee of $101 and asked for the Performing Arts charter school to defer the remaining $85 dollars (not including the $35 year book), and then I promptly cried (inside).

You see, the twins register on Friday and there we will have to slink down in our chairs and ask to speak to the Vice Principal to see if we can defer their fees throughout the next few months. After that, the boys will be given their schedules (but not their school ID's until it's paid in full) and we'll need to walk down the hall to have their pictures taken. We'll choose the cheapest package, but it will still cost us about fifty dollars total.

I have a suggestion for schools though...can we not have picture day the same day we are supposed to pay registration fees? PLEASE!?

Thank goodness the other two are in Elementary school. The costs there are far less, even when you count in the extra tissues, clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, EXPO markers and other things the teachers ask for. I'm willing to buy these extra items, even if I do spread it throughout the year to help make things a bit more bearable.

For those of you keeping tally, it seems that we'll spend over $450 dollars just to register the three High School boys. Five kids photographs will cost us (cheapest package) about $130 and come 2nd Semester, we'll have more fees, I'm sure. Oh, and we can't forget the Yearbooks....those are the most important, right? Hehe.

Supplies: I spent $63 at Target on the basic school supplies (I still need about $20 more, but waiting to make sure they really need it first). Thankfully, my mom bought the majority of the kids school clothing. What a blessing!!! We really don't go all out, just some basics. Jeans without holes, new shoes, socks and a couple new shirts. Chloe got the most outfits, but I made sure everything can be worn in the winter, too. I'm not buying new shorts for school....they can wear the ones they wore during the summer. When it starts to get cool we expand the school wardrobe with a few long sleeve shirts to wear under the t-shirts they already have and I tend to bargain shop for $2.00 t-shirts that go on clearance in the Fall.

Oh, and do you like how I conveniently avoided the fact that I have been blogMIA for, like, ever?


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

All ready for surgery!

*Update* We arrived home from the hospital around 6:30 this evening. Mom ate some chicken noodle soup and saltine crackers. We had to keep reminding her that she couldn't lift anything and that she needed to rest. Eventually, I threatened to place her in time-out if she continued, so she decided to put on her jammies and relax in bed. Sheesh, I do this every night at my own home! Nana drove home after dinner and she'll be back to replace me tomorrow afternoon. Somebody has to keep an eye on my busy mother! Anyway, it wasn't long before she fell asleep after taking some pain medication. Thanks for all your prayers and good thoughts...please keep them coming. Mom goes in to have her CI activated on February 16th. We pray that it works well for her!!


We are at the hospital waiting for my mom to be taken back for her second Cochlear Implant surgery. Her first was in 1999, so after more than 10 years she should be pretty high tech now. I wonder if she'll be able to receive signals from outer space? Cool! She just mentioned to me that her new CI will be bluetooth capable. See..I told you she would be techy.

The surgery should be pretty soon and we're all anxious.

My awesome mom is excited, hungry and (at the moment) reading a book to pass the time. Please keep her in your prayers today and for the next month or so as the CI will not be activated until February 16, 2010.

Her vitals were taken and we're ready to go.

They had to mark which ear needed the cochlear implant and also make sure they didn't shave the wrong side of her head.

Nana has a cold, but is willing to wear this mask so she doesn't miss being there for her daughter. Us mothers, we sacrifice so much! ;) I'm glad Nana is here. We can keep each other company while mom is in surgery.

I will update on Twitter as the day progresses. You can follow me on Twitter..I'm @SemiOrgMom. Just click on the link above and select "Follow". My Facebook will be updated through Twitter as well.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Change is EXCITING!!

Today, for the very first time, I'm sporting elastics on my braces and I couldn't be happier.

As you can see...I'm also celebrating Valentine's Day. Do you know what color(s) I be wearing on February 15th when I get them changed again?

By the way, don't mind the hair...I really need to get it cut! My hair stylist is off having a baby. Can you believe her? Here I desperate need of a haircut and she thinks it's time to contract (we hope!!). Just kidding! I love ya Melissa!! Have a great labor & delivery. As soon as I get my machines back I will be sewing up some awesome diapers/covers for you. I can't wait!!

Today, my Orthodontist told me that I am moving along very quickly. He's very pleased with the results! This excites me because I was told it would be at least a year before I started wearing elastics as they had to wait for my teeth to move more into place. My teeth were just begging to be moved into place, it seems. My lower teeth have moved so quickly and I am currently on the largest wire (on the top set) that is offered.

Sometimes I look back at my teenage years and wonder why I didn't do braces sooner. However, all I have to do is remember it was just a few months ago that I was suffering from the pain of a fractured (and abcessed) front tooth. For 15 years I suffered, unwilling to do anything about it because I lacked confidence in myself.

My how things have changed. Thank goodness!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

I need your opinion!

Do you think this is subtle enough?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jumping Bean Brain

Things just haven't been right with me lately. It's very frustrating because I am unable to focus on anything. I sit at the computer to blog and I can't. Seriously, I can't. Nothing is there, just a bunch of garbled thoughts bouncing around my head like jumping beans. I feel very out-of-sorts.

What is up with that?

Speaking of....what's up with this photo? It does not belong, nor was it a photo I meant to take, but I like my argyle socks and my boots, so there.

Oh, and speaking of socks.....

My dryer is broken...again. I had a screaming fit with the Sears lady on the phone. She had the nerve to tell me that I would have to pay for the parts to repair my dryer because our warranty was up. My midwestern attitude came out (I save that for special occasions) and I was ferocious. Oh, and because I care about ya'll so much, I am willing to share some of the phone call. You're welcome!

"Hi. We just had a Sear's repair man come out this morning and he left, but now the dryer is squeaking and grumbling again. This is the fourth time we've had a repair man come out since September of this year."

"I'm sorry mam, let's see if we can get him back out there for you. You said he was there this morning?"

"That's correct. We were his first appointment at 8 A.M. He tinkered with it and said that if what he did didn't work that we were to tell the next repairman to order a pulley and shaft because he said that is probably what's wrong with it. I would like him to order those parts now, since he probably should have done that in the first place."

"Okay. Thank you. I am going to put you on hold and try to contact the driver."

(on hold.......still holding......still holding.)

"Okay. I was able to get ahold of the driver and he states that he is on his last repair, but that it will take 2-3 hours and will not be able to make it back out to your house today."

", did you ask him to order those parts?"

"He cannot order them. We will have to make a new repair appointment and whoever comes out will be able to order them. Let's see when the next appointment is....."

(The conversation is still calm at this point.)

"Wait. Why can't he order them? He was just here. Why should I have to wait for another appointment to have the parts ordered, and then have to wait for the parts to come in and another appointment for them to be installed?"

"I'm sorry mam, that's just our policy. You can order the parts yourself and then make an appointment for them to be installed..."

(This is where my midwestern Kansas City, Missouri, Don't eeeeven mess with me attitude came in. If you want an idea of what I sounded like (or something sorta like that) HERE.)

"What do you mean that I can order the parts? I am not paying for the parts."

"Your warranty is expired, so you will be responsible for the part costs."

"Oh NO I will not be responsible for the cost of parts that should have been ordered back in September when I still had the warranty. Don't tell me I have to pay for something when I already paid a ton of money on the extended warranty and your repair men ripped me off for a years worth of services by NOT doing their jobs to begin with. This is the fourth time we've had service men out here to repair the same problem and I will NOT pay for it. In fact, Sears owes me money for wasting a year of the extended warranty................"

I basically went on for a bit longer to make sure I got my point across. This happened on the 24th of December. Christmas Eve. What a lovely way to start out the holiday.

Apparently my persistance was noted and we received a phone call from the repair man saying he had ordered the parts. What he didn't tell us was that they would be shipped to our home and that we had an appointment for Thursday January 7th from 8-12. Within the past week we've received two packages from parts dealers and I had to reschedule the appointment for Friday afternoon.

I'm glad it's being taken care of, but I've lost all respect and trust in Sear's repair. I do not think they will charge me (and I wouldn't pay for it anyway) for the service call since it's well within the 90 days warranty on same service calls. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to extend the warranty on my washer and dryer. If the problem happens again, or this isn't the problem and they are just grasping at straws (like before), then we will have a $1200 dryer that doesn't work. I'm ticked, frustrated, worried and stressed about it all.

On top of all that, I have at least thirteen loads of laundry waiting to be washed and dryed. It is too cold to hang dry them as it brings down the temperature in the house/basement and makes the kids bedrooms too cold.

I'm also stressed about a couple things that I am not willing to discuss openly on my blog right now. Mainly because I have not formulated my own thoughts on the issues, weighed the pro's and con's, or discussed them with my husband...yet. I'm currently hormonal and feeling depressed, so it's not even an appropriate time to try and discuss them rationally.

I have so many blog posts I want to write. Maybe listing them here will help keep my thoughts grounded, because I'm not joking when I say they're rattling about in my head, like jumping beans. All my thoughts are. My awesome husband says I'm scatterbrained. He's absolutely right.

So, here goes. Here is a list of blog topics I've wanted to write in the past 30 days and have not.

* 2010 goals list
* Cooking/baking
* Chores
* Parenting teens
* My mom's upcoming surgery (a few posts for that!)
* Caleb's Community Career Day
* Casey's Science Fair Project
* Crawford All-Nighter
* Snowboarding
* North American Championships (Florida)
* Organizing
* Give-Away (An awesome one at that!!)
* My thoughts on marriage

Maybe that will help.

Do you ever have long periods of time (like days/weeks) where you feel completely scatterbrained? Leave a comment and tell me what helped bring you out of the funk. Maybe it will inspire me to do the same.