I had plans for a different post tonight … a recipe post. Unfortunately I’m still working on it. I even got up at 5 a.m. today to get all my stuff done and, well it’s after 10 p.m. Just out of gas.
Recently I installed PhotoShop, so I’m learning to use it. One of the exercises is to go through all your photos and organize, categorize and tag everything. So here are a few of the ones I looked through yesterday. Some you’ve seen, some maybe not.
I’ve been on my blogging odyssey for almost three months now. I started blogging every day on November 1, 2011. Today is January 18, 2012. That is 79 posts including tonight’s entry.
It has been an remarkable 79 days. Tonight I’m looking back over the last few weeks to do a “round-up” of favorite blog posts.
One month ago I posted about Jdub’s favorite tune: The Spanish Song That night seems so long ago, but it was just a month. Goes to show how time can stand still or fly depending on where your perspective is.
Thanksgiving and Christmas happened. And the wonderful Christmas Eve program at our church” Light of the World
I’m getting close to losing the 10 lbs I promised myself to lose by my next birthday (not so much because I’m eating better but more because I don’t have time to eat).
I’m about to conclude the last event I hope to ever do in a professional capacity.
I’ve been “ordained” at my church.
I read three 500-page books of fiction; six books of nonfiction.
I still have a library book out that is past due.
I’ve worn my pretty boots a lot.
I repainted/redecorated my home office.
I rearranged Jdub’s room to make it more spacious for him to play.
I almost had a panic attack in Ikea because it’s so overwhelming to me, (not really, but it did become time to “just go.”)
I got a fever blister (from stress, that’s what my body does).
And my little kid was sick for 5 days straight.
With a blog a day, I’m amazed at how much life actually happens in a relatively short span of time. It also shows that whatever you do, you have to do it a little at a time. When you pause to look back, the chronicle provides the proof that you’ve gone very far, just one day at a time.
Instagram is instant awesomeness! I had no idea what I was going to write about today, but then got the idea from my trusty iPhone to take some of my random, everyday photos and use Instagram to edit them. Instagram described by its founders is the blending of instant photos and telegrams, thus “instagram.”
It combines several things at once when taking photos—it’s social media, documentation, art and photojournalism all rolled into one. You take snapshots, apply filters, post/save to a share archive hosted by Instagram. The photo goes onto your Instagram profile, and can be shared across a multitude of various social media. The social media is simply the telegraph “wire.”
The folks at Instagram have a blog, tips for taking better photos, and featured Instagram users’ photos – it’s amazing what someone can do with an iPhone and a free app that applies simple filters.
So maybe I went a little crazy on the filters and fuzz (aka “bokeh”), but Instagram is instant awesomeness. Love it!
[to find out more about why a big metal chicken is so funny to 40-year old married women click here.]
One of our family traditions is literally that song. Every year we head “down to the river” for our family Christmas gathering with my mother’s people. I live in rural Texas, and this is an hour out into the bush from where I live. It’s remote, really remote. Your cell phone won’t work and you had better have plenty of gas in your car in case you get caught down there when the river rises during a storm because you will have to take “the back way” out, which adds an extra hour to the trip.
“The River” is in Shackelford** County on the Brazos River. We drive until the pavement ends, then keep driving and driving and driving. This area is very much a part of the Frontier History of Texas. Some of the land was once a Comanche Indian reservation. It also had a civil war era medical station on it. We’ve seen all manner of skittish wildlife like mountain lions and bald eagles.
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that most of Texas and the western U.S. were like this. You really are in the middle of nowhere.
A good homemade pizza pie is a wonderful thing. This is not Viktor’s Special, but it’s my special version and it’s always a crowd pleaser.
1 ¾ to 2 C. bread flour (plus more for kneading)
¾ C. Warm water (110 degrees)
¼ C. Olive oil
1 Tsp Rapid rise yeast
1 Tbs Honey or sugar
1 Tsp Salt
Add yeast to the warm water, add the sugar/honey. Give it a stir and let it stand for a couple minutes. It should be foamy and opaque after a few minutes. Mix the flour and salt together and set aside. (All-purpose flour can be used instead of bread flour.)
Create a well in the bottom of the bowl with the flour. Add the water mixture and oil. Mix together until the dough comes together. Add more flour if needed. Tonight I started with 1 ¾ flour but added ½ cup more because it was a really humid day here and my dough was too sticky otherwise.
Turn it out and knead for a few minutes. Pizza dough should be on the wet and sticky side.
Form into a ball and grease bowl well with more olive oil. Toss the dough in the bowl to coat with oil. Put the dough in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. I like to heat my oven up to about 150 degrees, then turn it off to let it start to cool, then I put the dough in to rise.
After it has risen, punch down and add a tablespoon or so of flour to the dough and knead lightly for a few turns inside the bowl. Get your oven going again by preheating it to 475 degrees. (note that my pizza stone is already in the oven here). if you don’t have a pizza stone, no problem. You can bake your pizza on a cookie sheet or pizza pan instead.
Pull out onto a large piece of cling wrap (I stitch two pieces together with the seam in the middle). Dust the top of the dough with flour. Place a sheet of parchment paper over the dough and flip to the parchment side—cling-wrap side up. Add a little more flour if needed. Roll the dough out to a 14-inch round or larger. When you are happy with the shape and thickness of the pizza crust, leave it to rest for at least 10 minutes.
This pizza pan has been through it all. I bought this when I was in college and moved into an apartment for the first time. I didn’t have anything that resembled a cookie sheet or pizza pan. I couldn’t afford both so I got this so it could do double duty. It has been one of the cheapest and handiest of kitchen utilities. 20 years later I’m still using it almost daily to make everything from cinnamon toast to biscuits. I’m about to use it in place of a pizza peel (that’s one of those wooden paddle-looking-things with a long handle – the pizza bakers slide pies in and out of the wood burning ovens with the peel.)
Slide the pan (or cookie sheet) under the dough and beneath the parchment. This is how we’re getting the dough onto the pizza stone. Remember pizza dough is sticky and once the pie is loaded up, it’s heavy. After you get it on the pan, take the cling wrap off. Ta-dah.
Now we’re ready to put on the toppings. Use your favorite bottled sauce or you can make a quickie sauce. Spread the sauce around. Add the meat of choice (or not). Here I’m using pepperoni and sausage. No need to brown the sausage prior, it will thoroughly cook in the overall process. Add your veggies. In this pie, I’m adding green and black olives with orange bell pepper. It’s really about what you like at this point. If you want to skip the whole thing you can. Top with mozzarella cheese.
Slide the pizza onto the stone inside the oven. The parchment can go right on top of the pizza stone. (I only have 2 hands so, that was impossible to capture in photos. Sorry, y’all)
OMG! I have died and gone to pizza heaven. And, Yes! It is worth it to make your very own homemade pizza pie.
I’ve been thinking about this post for 30 days and there was no way to write this in advance. On November 1st I decided to write a blog a day. Tonight marks the 30th post for the month of November. And I’m proud that I completed the goal. It’s been a struggle, I couldn’t’ have done it without the help of my husband in the evenings. November is a very busy month in general for our family and especially since the end of the month leads up to two of the busiest days in my annual calendar, not counting Thanksgiving.
In order to accomplish a blog a day, I had to really think and plan ahead. There were days when I would sit down at 8 or 9 p.m. wondering what I was going to write about that day. Some days the blog seemed to write itself, especially when I could recognize the gift of that day.
My favorite post was when my son got my camera and secretly took photos (A Photographer in the Making). That also happened to be one of the most viewed posts of the month.
The hardest post to write was about the Penn State child abuse scandal. (Little Lost Boys)
My favorite photo project and title of the month was When Frost Happens. This was one of those that wrote itself.
Writing daily has made me buckle down and be disciplined. The rigor of daily reflection brings perspective. This exercise has literally made me stop and “smell the roses.” Blogging consistently makes me re-frame everyday moments. It also makes me consider things more thoroughly and thoughtfully.
For me, writing is probably my single best skill. I majored in communications with an emphasis on journalism. I’ve been in PR and marketing communications jobs for the whole of my professional career. I’ve been in jobs before where my main function was to write whatever needed to be captured. Since my professional career began technology has gone from typing into a word processing typewriter to micro-blogging on Twitter with my mobile phone. Who could have imagined that?
Writing is a skill; it’s a job; and it’s a gift. Anyone can learn to write well but not everyone is a gifted writer.
Writing is cathartic for me. I’ve kept some form of a journal since I was 12 years old. I’ve been working out my emotional tribulations by writing about it almost since I was able form words into sentences. No matter if writing is a necessary skill in today’s information age or if you are a gifted writer, practice makes you better.
The awesomeness of blogging means that you get “published” every day that you decide to write. With the tools available you become a content generator. The downside is that there is a lot more content out there to sort through. But the main thing is to continue to do it regularly. Consistently producing new content is like major league at-bats. The more you’re up at the plate the more opportunities you have to hit a home run.
We’re visiting Nanny and Pawpaw this weekend. Pawpaw wanted a new computer so we actually ventured to one of the bigbox stores on Black Friday to find an electronics deal. Remarkably the stores weren’t bad at all – I guess when you go at 6 p.m. all the early birds have gone home to roost.
On our adventure we stopped off at a Mongolian-style grill for dinner. Jdubs has been balking at eating his dinner these days but tonight we had leverage. There was a guy at the restaurant making balloon critters. We threatened Jdubs that if he didn’t eat his dinner then no balloon.
And this guy was good. He’s a college student at UT-Dallas. Pretty clever part-time job for a college student. Nanny asked if he had to go to a special school to learn how to make balloon animals. He said that he went to the school of You Tube to learn. (A comedian too).
He made Jdubs a goldfish on a fishing pole.
He told us he was available for birthdays and parties, but occasionally he got invited to bachelorette parties, which could get a little awkward… I guess the single girls wanted something other than a fish on a line 😉
Jdubs did good, ate his broccoli and noodle dinner. Thanks Blue Collar Balloon Guy.