Chapter 43, In Which an Old Bed Gets New Life

I don’t like to admit this, but in 2007 I bought a matchy-matchy bedroom set.

It was a dark time in many ways. I had just separated from my ex-husband, and I was sleeping on an air mattress and sitting on camp chairs. I needed cheap furniture, like now. I went to A-9 Furniture in Tallahassee, which is almost as classy as its web site suggests. I paid cash for a bedroom set, couch, coffee table, and end tables. I figured the furniture would fall apart after a few years, and I would be able to replace the furniture with nicer pieces.

The couch has died (long live the couch!), but everything else is still in great shape. Here’s the inoffensive, cottage-y bed:

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However….

My great-grandmother, Original Flavor Hazel, had some exquisite furniture. I am the lucky recipient of several of her pieces, but my favorite is an antique four-poster bed. Unfortunately, because it was very old, it was very small – a bit smaller than a standard double bed. The bed lived in a storage unit, and then in our garage, and we never quite figured out what to do with it. I made several inquiries around town, but no one seemed interested in fabricating new rails and slats to make it a queen-sized bed.

Last month, Jason decided he would do it himself.

Bless his heart.

I’m so impressed with my husband in so many ways, but his determination is truly remarkable. He’s not a trained woodworker, but he did a beautiful job. He cut new rails, stained them, and bolted the whole thing together.

The first time we assembled the bed, we realized that our modern box spring was putting the top of the mattress almost four feet off the ground. Getting in bed was like trying to mount a horse. So Jason put a piece of plywood over the slats to create a platform bed, which was a significant improvement.

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And here’s the bed in its new home (with an adorable Hazel-shaped throw pillow):

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I dragged those posters around for over a decade, from Jacksonville to Alabama to Tallahassee, waiting for someone to help me turn a pile of high-end lumber into something useful and lovely. YES, THIS IS A METAPHOR.

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And if you know anyone who needs a queen-sized bed and boxspring, we have one we’ll sell for cheap….

 

 

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Four Months of Chicken

No, this isn’t some bizarre new food trend, it’s a Hazel update!

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Miss Miss will go back for her official checkup tomorrow, but judging by the condition of my arm muscles, she continues to gain weight. Judging by the rapid progression from “3-6 month” clothes to “6 month” clothes, she’s growing lengthwise, too.

Hazel still loves: Water. She loves her bath, and even ventured into the shower on Saturday night, which she enjoyed. She also loves to watch us eat, and seems to think it highly unfair that we don’t share our food with her.

Hazel now loves: Regular naps! She used to catnap during the day, for 15-20 minutes at a time, but now she takes a couple of longer, distinct naps during the day. She also loves laughing and “talking” to us.

What’s Hazel up to? At the beginning of September, she rolled over (front to back) four days in a row. Then she stopped. Now she just does pushups during tummy time. She’s working on the gun show. Hazel appears to be in the early stages of teething – drooling like a waterfall and gnawing on everything in sight. Tyler got teeth when he was four months old, so this is not a huge surprise. Hazel has gained increased control over her arms and hands, and can reach out to grasp objects with better accuracy. She only occasionally hits herself in the face.

How’s everyone else? Pretty good! The kids are all back in school, so they’re busy with homework and extracurriculars and youth group and friends and whatnot. I am still enjoying being home with Hazel, although the afternoon student pickup is kind of a beating. When I have to get all three kids (at three different schools), I leave home at 2:15 and don’t return until 4:45. I’ve started referring to my car as the Mobile Command Unit.

That’s about it! We’re all excited about fall (soups and jeans and pumpkins, oh my).

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WIWW: Emerging

A quick look at the archives confirms that I have not posted a WIWW in seven months.

What can I say? I’ve been busy. I gestated a baby and have been tending to her (extensive!) needs. I’ve also been struggling with very typical postpartum body issues, blah blah blah.

I apologize – these are iPhone pictures, but mama needed some accountability.

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I look completely thrilled to be here, but honestly I was just trying to get my clothes in the shot. I’m out of practice! This entire outfit is from Loft, ranging from 4 years old to 2 months old. I wore the incredibly comfortable maxi skirt and tank top around the house, but added the cardigan and jewelry for errand-running.

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Simple silver necklace, pearl studs, sock bun. The humidity today approached 100%, so hair down was not an option.

But I felt like I lacked something. Some accessory that would make me look complete.

Found it! Perfect.

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The Black Arts: Pizza Dough

Pizza. I love it. It’s probably my favorite food. Whether topped with fig, arugula, and prosciutto, or good old pepperoni and mushroom, I could eat it at least once a week (okay, more like five times a week).

I’ve been making my own pizza dough for about five years, which in this house means hundreds of crusts. Whenever I tell people I make my own dough, they get super-impressed. Don’t be impressed! It’s easy.

This is how I make pizza dough. It’s not THE BEST RECIPE EVARRRRR or THE LAST PIZZA DOUGH RECIPE YOU’LL EVER NEED or anything like that. But once you master the basic technique, you can fiddle with it until it’s perfect for you.

Okay, here we go.

Round up your usual suspects:

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That’s a stand mixer, all-purpose flour, the dough hook attachment to your stand mixer, yeast, salt, a teaspoon, a one-cup measure, whole wheat flour (if you’re feeling virtuous), and honey. Not pictured: olive oil. Grab that, too.

Squeeze some honey into a bowl. Don’t measure. Just squeeze:
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Add one cup of pretty warm tap water (like a nice hot bath, not scalding). Then add two teaspoons of yeast. If you buy yeast in packets, use one packet.

Stir that until the yeast granules dissolve. Put the bowl somewhere quiet and preferably warm for 10 minutes. While that’s happening, mix together your flour and salt. If you want a whole wheat crust, use 1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 cups regular flour. If you are WHITE BREAD 4EVA, use 3 cups of all-purpose flour. I throw in about a teaspoon of salt. Drizzle in three to four tablespoons of olive oil and mix it around.

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By now your ten minutes should be up, and your yeast mixture should look like this:

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That creamy foam? That’s yeast farts. They’re delicious. If your yeast mixture doesn’t look like that, it’s for one of two reasons: your water temperature was too hot or too cold, or you had bad yeast. Just take a deep breath and try again. Don’t panic. It’s just bread, people.

Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture. Attach the dough hook to the mixer and turn that baby on low.

First it will look like this:

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Then, after a minute, it will look like this:

And finally, it will come together like this:

If it hasn’t come together after a few minutes of mixing, add water, a tablespoon at a time. If it’s soupy, add more flour, about a quarter-cup at a time. Just tweak it. Eventually the hook will collect all the dough. When that happens, turn the machine to the next higher setting and let it go for about 5-7 minutes.

Now take the dough out (the bowl should be relatively clean) and pour in a tablespoon of olive oil. Put the dough back in and roll it around to coat it with the oil.

Then let it take a nap for about an hour.

(Shhhh.)

After an hour, it should be about twice as big. It is at this point that we get to bust out the PIZZA FIST OF JUSTICE.

Punch the dough. Dooooo it.

Punch the dough until it’s all deflated.

At this point you have three options:

1. Freeze it. Put the deflated dough in a freezer bag, label it, and freeze it. When you’re ready to use it, take it out of the freezer a couple of hours ahead of time and let it thaw in a bowl.

2. Use it now. Let the dough rise again, for about 30 minutes to an hour, then stretch it out on a pizza pan. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes, top, then bake until your toppings are appropriately melty/hot.

3. Use it tomorrow. Put the bowl with the dough in your fridge. When you’re ready to use it the next day, let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before stretching.

Recipe, for those who like that kind of thing:

1 cup warm water
2 tsp. active dry yeast, or one packet
1-2 TB honey

Combine in a small bowl. Let sit in a warm place for 10 minutes.

3-4 cups flour
3-4 TB olive oil
1 tsp. salt

Combine in the large bowl of your stand mixer.

When yeast has proofed, pour into flour mixture. Mix on low for 3-5 minutes, then on medium-low for 5 minutes, until dough has cleared the sides of the bowl and is smooth. Remove dough; drizzle oil into bowl and roll dough in oil until coated. Let sit, covered, for 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Follow instructions for freezing or using above.

 

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A Conversation with Lucius

Jason: Lucius, are you hungry?

Windy: He’s a lab. Ergo, he’s hungry.

Lucius: Ergo! That’s a fun new word! What does it mean? Like, “Can we er…..go to the park?”

Jason: No, Lucius, that’s not quite right.

Lucius: Maybe we should er……go fill my food bowl?

Windy: (giggling) Sorry,  buddy, that’s not right either.

Lucius: You can er….go to hell.

 
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Three Months of Chicken

Hazel turned three months old yesterday! Seemed like a good reason for an update.

Breastfeeding: Except for a bout of mastitis in July, things have been going swimmingly. Hazel continues to grow and put on weight at a normal rate. Yeay normal!

Cloth diapering: We are still cloth diapering. I have laundry days down to an exact science, and there have only been a few times when I’ve been unable to dry the diapers outside on the clothesline. We attempted a two-day trip with the cloth diapers in June, which was an enormous pain. We decided to travel with disposables from then on out. Just last weekend we went to Orlando for a workers’ compensation convention, and ran through 42 disposable diapers over 4 days. Yikes.

We have revised our diaper hoard somewhat. When we started out, we bought several different brands and styles (some new, some used). We were not fans of the offerings from Bonnibuns and Bambino Mio, although the latter’s inserts make excellent burp cloths. We recently purchased an additional six diapers from Charlie Banana and three from BumGenius, and still love our Fuzzibunz. Our hoard now stands at 33, which is perfect for an every-other-day laundry schedule with a bit of a cushion.

The only downside is that the diapers are so huge they kick her into the next clothing size. In a disposable, her three-month clothes fit fine. In a cloth diaper, she needs six-month clothes.

Milestones: Hazel now smiles and giggles and coos. These are like rays of sunshine in my day. For the first 8 weeks or so, babies are a sucking black hole of emotion. The first smile changes all of that. She started sleeping through the night over a month ago, and now generally sleeps from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. I am not exaggerating when I say this is the best thing ever. EVER. She is able to grasp objects now, and seems to enjoy her Oball.

Emerging Personality: Hazel is generally quiet, calm, and serious. She loves “talking” with us and watching our faces. She does not like being in her car seat for extended periods of time. She is comfortable with strangers – which is a yeay/boo, I suppose – and does not seem to have attachment issues.

Me: I have eased into my new career as domestic engineer. It was quite an adjustment – I crave approval (GOLD STARS ON EVERYTHING) and Hazel is not really forthcoming with the positive performance evaluations. I have filled my time with volunteer work and church activities and teaching, and am tackling projects at home. Now that the older kids are back in school (at three different schools), a lot of my day is spent dropping them off and picking them up. I am incredibly grateful that I’m able to manage my own time. I took Tyler to school yesterday without anxiously watching the clock to make sure I wasn’t late for work. I picked him up and I wasn’t exhausted from a long day at a desk. I’ve been able to go with Jason on a couple of work trips to Destin and Orlando. It’s glorious, and it’s all thanks to my hardworking and devilishly attractive husband.

And here she is:

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Water Baby

The first time Jason took Hazel in the pool, I admit I was nervous.

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She didn’t seem particularly psyched by the experience, either.

But as the weeks have gone by, she’s gotten more and more comfortable in the water, both in the pool and in the bath, and now some of her biggest smiles come while she’s immersed. She also prefers skinny-dipping to wearing a bathing suit.

I’ve even gotten comfortable holding her in the pool.

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Must run (as usual these days) – Hazel is napping, which means I have about 30 minutes to get a bunch of two-handed tasks done before she wakes up! GO!

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