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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My Grandmother, Big Winkie

Ever since I stopped working a real job and became a full-time domestic engineer, I’ve thought often of my maternal grandmother. She was an expert home-keeper, and I aspire to have a living space as serene, clean, and organized as hers. She tried to teach me a million things – sewing, cooking, finances – but I resisted each lesson. And what happened? I ended up having to teach myself, from scratch, many years later. I wish (OH HOW I WISH) I had listened more. She died in June of 2008, at a time when my life looked messy and bleak, and I hope she knows somehow that things got better.

This is my grandmother, Winifred (original flavor), or if you prefer, “Big Winkie”:

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And this is what I said at her funeral:

June 10, 2008

My grandmother believed in rules. Not just little rules, like no white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day, and the relative superiority of English antiques to French antiques, but big rules, important rules. Ideas. She believed in Travel, and Education, and Self-Discipline. She held everyone to a high and exacting standard, but held herself to that standard first. Her home was always immaculate – her sink clean, her carpet vacuumed, her counters uncluttered, the beds made, her Ferragamos lined up in the closet.

As a child, these rules seemed oppressive and old-fashioned. This impression was strengthened by the fact that she never let me win at cards.

This is not to say she was no fun at all. When I was in elementary school, she had surgery and spent some time at our house recovering. I came home from school one day to find her wearing pants, of all things, and riding my bicycle. I was sure it signaled the end of the world. Of course, the pants were fully-lined trousers with a smart little belt and a silk blouse, but I’d never seen her wear pants before.

She loved a dirty joke, especially the ones my father told. He always joked that this year, she’d put sparklers in her hair for the Fourth of July.

When my father died, people came to the house. My grandmother, who was 93 at the time, stayed every day until the last visitor had departed, sometimes at 11:00 at night. She was just as gracious to the last guest as she was to the first, and I never heard her complain. I never even saw her yawn.

After she died, my mother and I went to her apartment. It was, as always, perfect – her sink clean, her carpet vacuumed, her counters uncluttered, her bed made, her Ferragamos lined up in the closet. And I realized, standing in her living room, that she didn’t follow these rules because they made her life easy. She followed these rules to make other people’s lives easy. She followed these rules so that anyone could walk into her life and feel comfortable, so that she wouldn’t have to fuss with preparations, she could focus her attention on you.

The order she imposed on her own life was her way of trying to bring peace to those around her. She radiated calm control. Maybe that’s why her favorite prayer was that of St. Francis, which reads:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

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Father’s Day

Father’s Day! One of the few days I get to brag about Jason with impunity!

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Here’s to Jason….

….who insists on getting up to change Hazel’s diaper at 3:00 a.m., even though he works full-time.

….who takes his kids to school every day because he wants them to know that they are important to him.

….who has made countless PB&J or turkey-and-provolone sandwiches for school lunches over the years.

….who, two days after Hazel was born, left the hospital at 3:30 a.m. so he could wake Hollyn up and take her to school for her Six Flags field trip at o’dark thirty.

….who loves all our children with his whole heart.

….who has accepted Tyler as one of his own, DNA be damned.

….who (not so) secretly wants five more kids, just so we could get a 15-passenger kidnapper van.

….who prays with and for his kids every single night.

….who is always up for a game of Marco Polo.

….who may, in fact, be the silliest of all the children.

….who works incredibly hard to provide for our family, both at the office and at home.

….who fights with Tyler over whose turn it is to hold the baby.

….who loves me more than I deserve.

….whom I love more than he will ever know.

Happy Father’s Day, my friend.

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