In the hustle and bustle of life, I still like to cook – preferably bake – for fun when I have the time and energy. Lately, my little theme for my baking has been part of a line from the movie “Ratatouille” – “You were the one gettin’ fancy with the spices.” Not that I’m just messing around with spices, but I’ve been tweaking recipes. This weekend it was bagels with various mix-ins, and cinnamon rolls where I made half the batch into something closer to my family’s recipe of Swedish Coffee Bread. I tried pumpkin pie spice on it too, but decided that didn’t work as well as the cardamom. (Thankfully I only that particular spice mix on one small part of the loaf – I had a feeling it might not go well!) They were all eaten up very quickly this morning at fellowship – I should have made one and a half batches, I guess! The recipe was from Jane Pattison, and I think they’re the Krispy Kreme of cinnamon rolls – puffy and sweet with glaze on the outside, but not overpoweringly sugary or burn-your-mouth cinnamon-y, and once you have one you want to keep eating them till you burst!
there they go…!
The bagel tweaking was also win-some, lose-some, but overall good. (The recipe I tweaked is from Cultivating Home, a blog.) The flour mix turned out well, at 1 1/4 cups wheat germ, 3 cups whole wheat flour, 2 cups bread flour, and the other 5.5-6 cups plain flour (inspired by The Sneaky Chef‘s flour mix, but no way was I using a 1:1:1 ratio of plain:whole wheat:wheat germ when that third one isn’t available here!). You can see specks of the wheat germ in the plain ones, which is fine but doesn’t seem very sneaky if you ask me.
that’s a lot of flour! the box has somewhere between 7 and 10 cups, all the varieties mixed before blending with the wet stuff and topping off with plain flour
The cinnamon-raisin batch turned out really well and the ones with the mixed dried berries are brightly colorful and taste nice, but the ones with cocoa powder and a few cocoa nibs worked into the dough weren’t spectacular. But since they just taste like plain bagels, and I like plain bagels, I can’t really complain! I’m still looking forward to trying the cocoa nibs and dried fruit in (separate) batches of wheat-germ-enriched granola sometime in the near future! If you’d like to try them, the mix-ins were bought from NutsOnline and the wheat germ was a wonderful birthday gift from my mother, all carried back from the States by Carolyn. That web site has a lot of neat stuff! Including wheat germ, if your mother is a different brand of awesome from mine.
So, that’s the fun in my kitchen.
In other news, third grade now has a web site. It’s not “live” yet, but I’m happy that it’s working for me to log in when I’m at school and get it looking like we want it to; now whenever I have time to work on it, I’ll be able to put links and such up there. Hopefully also my weekly newsletter, but I don’t know if Word Press works with Publisher! I’m really grateful that the tech department chose to use Word Press, though, since I’m already familiar with it from this blog.
Speaking of computer things, I’ve been using three different versions of Windows this year – XP on my classroom computer, Vista on my laptop, and 7 in the school computer labs. If you count the Chinese version of XP that I was using on the school computers and my school-provided PC last spring, that’s 4 different versions in 12 months, but still only 3 simultaneously. Anyway, comfortable though I am with XP after all these years using it and the older versions of Windows that it resembles, I was happy to upgrade my classroom desktop to Windows 7 on Monday, after backing up all my files on the server. It’s been a week of re-installing things and learning a bit about where things are and how to do things. I was relieved to find that it’s very similar to Vista, and since we were given administrator privileges for the week, I’ve been customizing it as I go, especially the Start menu – I always sort my Start menu into seven or eight folders. Besides Accessories (which also holds anything to do with computer health) and Start Up (which I like to keep empty), I put all other programs/folders into Games, Media, Internet, Word Processing, or Reference. I don’t like searching through long lists of program folders to find what I want to use!
And, in one last tech note, I started using Dropbox, which is a great little program. It puts a folder on your computer – on the desktop, in the My Documents folder, wherever you like – and when you put something in that folder, it uploads it to your account online. You install it on however many computers you like – for me, on my laptop and my school desktop – and then it automatically downloads and updates the files each time they’re changed. Brilliant! Now I don’t have to e-mail my lesson plan file to myself each time I change it, and I can transfer photos or files I pull off the ‘net for class easily. I can also access everything in the box online by logging into the web site from any computer, or make some of the folders public to share photos or other things. You get about 2GB of storage free; you can pay for more if you want, but I’m going the free route. If you want to try it, please click the link above – if you arrive on the site that way and you do sign up, I get a little extra storage space! 😉
OK, on to things with more pictures!
Lovely things sent on by my family and/or ordered by myself, all brought over by Carolyn…
The items once they’d been un-bagged. Notice all those wonderful ziploc bags under the table! I was SO happy to get everything on (and under) the table – including the Nuts Online products and wheat germ I mentioned before, which you can see near the middle, a cast-iron skillet for the first time in my life, my pampered chef apple peeler-corer-slicer since my plastic one bought here is falling apart, the made-by-my-parents caramels, and … well, everything! (The nut chopper in the back was from Carolyn herself, isn’t she an angel?) The boys in my class had a blast with Battleship during indoor recess last week.
Each morning the windows in the hall and the classroom would look like this. It’s not quite so bitterly cold out now, and they’ll be able to go out for recess again this week. But whew, whoever told me that the first two weeks in January are the coldest of the year was right!
Some moved here, some to the entertainment center, and the rest are in the closet on the right in the picture, taking a break from the light. At least until I get the shelves built for my bedroom! Jen did a great job of finally making our common area look lived-in instead of Lily’s-boxes-exploded-here.
Oh, I almost forgot, this was in the bunch of stuff Carolyn brought me:
A t-shirt from Wild Olive. I bought it for myself. It’s a bit thinner than I’d expected but very pretty. I’m actually wearing it now as I type, under my sweater, though that picture’s from the first day or two after I got it.
New knit! For Pam’s babies. She’s not there with them now (the workers have it well in hand, of course), because she’s in GZ with her family, finalizing the adoption of their daughter, who they’ve had for her entire life – over 5 years – and who is now, finally, theirs! China has said so; they just have to go to the consulate there to get the US to agree. Standard adoption stuff, no worries, but I’m so happy for her! Stephanie is there now getting her precious Vivi, too – I’m tickled that they may meet each other. I only know Stephanie from her blog, Nihao Ya’ll, and because she and her sister are the ones who started Wild Olive to raise money to save precious children around the world. Check out her blog and the other web site(s) that she’s involved with, they’re totally awesome!