Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ran out of bread

. . . and made more. I usually make our family's bread except in the middle of the summer when I can't bear to turn on the oven. I'm thinking it's a good thing I made this late yesterday because it's over 111F/44C today and I wouldn't have been baking anything at all. That's why I keep tortillas on hand all the time. Just about anything you can do with bread, you can do with tortillas. Plus I found out Costco has some large loaves of good bread that aren't too expensive. I relied on that bread last summer and expect to do the same this summer.

However, I did bake some yesterday. I have some lovely white wheat that I grind myself and although this bread is 70% whole wheat, it isn't very dark. More a light khaki, I'd say.

I'm not happy about how my camera is (not) focussing these days, but thought I'd post this fuzzy picture so you can see how light the bread is.

It's really tasty, too.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Car check

I don't want any (ahem, Canadian) readers to bust a gut laughing, but I did my first under-the-hood car maintenance check on Saturday morning. At my monthly church women's meeting an older guy came and showed us exactly how to do these checks and gave us a list of what to look for and how to do it.

So here is what I checked and the result:

Tires--had to add air to all four, luckily we have an air compressor so it was easy.
Shocks--oops, I guess I forgot this one. I'm not going to do anything about them anyway, so I guess that's okay.
Wipers--replaced the rear wiper blade.
Windshield wiper fluid--added more than a gallon of water with about 3 drops of dish detergent (see picture below). We don't worry about it freezing in the tank.
Brakes--no grinding noise
Brake fluid--proper fluid level
Radiator--proper fluid level
Engine oil--proper level but dirty. I need to take it to a low-end place that only changes the oil since I don't need anything else they do (thanks to this little check).
Transmission--proper fluid level
Power steering--proper fluid level
Air filter--almost clean as it was replaced last winter
Hoses and belts--not mushy, not hard, the belts look pristine
Battery--added a surprising amount of water, cleaned off the contacts with baking soda and water.

I felt really accomplished after the hour or so I spent doing these things. Dh did his car at the same time and he had only one tire to inflate, needed the gallon or so in both his battery and windshield wiper tank, had a dirty air filter and needed all three wiper blades so we replaced those. I think we're supposed to do this every month.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Camp Laffalotta part 2

Okay, I'm behind. We're actually on week 4, but I forgot to post this from week 2. Because I wanted to visit a Mexican bakery I'd heard about here in town, I decided week 2 would be Mexico! We made tortillas and they were really good!

The recipe said it's best to mix the dough, then refrigerate it overnight, so that's what I did. I wanted it as easy to work with as possible. The next day we took out the dough and cut it into 10 pieces, then C and I rolled each one out as thinly as possible. They were still thicker than most store-bought tortillas, but not by much. We heated a dry frying pan and cooked each side for about 20 seconds. They blistered and when we took them off the heat they looked just like fresh, homemade flour tortillas, i.e. delicious and perfect!

Week 3 was dinosaurs and our current week is outer space and the planets. We also borrowed movies from the library on the moon and lots of books about the planets. I need to get to the craft store to get supplies to make glow-in-the-dark space shirts. Well, what we stamp on them will be g-i-t-d.

I'd better get those things tomorrow because Tuesday I have to work almost all day from 4:50 am to 4:40 pm. Okay, I do have two breaks of 2 hours, then 1.5 hours in there, but it's going to be a rush-rush day.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bountiful Baskets

To escape the summer heat, my fruit and vegetable co-op moved its pick up time from 8:45 to 7:15 am! That means the volunteers need to be there by 6:00 am. So much for my day to sleep in, huh? :-) I'm not required to volunteer, but it's fun, it's exercise, C loves to go with me, the volunteers get a few extra pieces of fruit, and I get to choose the basket I like best and check out before the 80 people waiting in line. Good deal for me.

For my $16.50 I ended up with 39 pounds of produce.

Lunch was "ants on a log" (celery spread with peanut butter with raisins stuck into it), homemade German potato salad (I am 1/4 German, you know), cantaloupe chunks, and grapes. It was a nice meal for a hot spring day.

By the way, coconut is devilishly difficult to reduce to a nice pile of shredded coconut like you get at the store. I hope the macaroons I'm going to make are awesomely good.

Friday, June 11, 2010

So upset and lost my temper!

I rarely, rarely lose my temper to the point of yelling, but I did today. Here's the backstory:

I went to Washington state to see Kevin graduate this past weekend. Back on March 8th I made a reservation through (AKA for a hotel room for the two nights I was there.

The hotel could not find my reservation. They called "corporate" and still couldn't come up with anything.

I didn't want to sleep in the back of my (tiny) rental car, so I asked if they had any rooms left. They did, at a cost of about $55 more that I had already paid back in March. I reluctantly took the room.

When I got home I called to find out what happened and to get a refund of the higher amount I had to pay at the last minute. Eventually the agent figured out they had sent the reservation off in the name on my email account, which is not the same as my own name, i.e. became a reservation at the hotel for Jane Doe. Not an obvious error to make, but I'm sure someone just made a mistake. Since it was Sunday night there was no billing person at the hotel and they asked me to call back during the week.

Today I called back and talked to Sasha. Wow. My older ds is a customer service representative and I have sympathy for CSRs. BUT. This gal basically called me a liar, saying I called in the reservation and gave them the wrong name. Ummm . . . no, I didn't. I did it online and put in my proper name, which appeared on my confirmation email. The "wrong name" didn't appear anywhere on the reservation email I printed out or I would have (obviously) given them that name at the hotel when we were trying to solve the mystery of the disappearing reservation.

She said she could refund my lower amount paid and since it was "my fault" that was all she would do. She went on and on and on and wouldn't stop to listen to my questions. She talked rapid-fire. I finally banged the phone on the desk, hoping that would get her to stop and see what I had to say. It didn't. When she did that for the THIRD time, I finally yelled, "SHUT UP!!!!!" So very unlike me! I was determined that I was not going to hang up and drop the subject because then they would get what they wanted, which was my money. She kept saying, "You know, this phone call is being recorded," and I told her each time I sincerely hoped so and that it would actually be listened to by a supervisor. Don't try that one on me.

Since I had gotten nowhere with, I called the hotel directly and the gal was friendly. After various bits of checking, she said all she could refund was the lower amount, but her manner was pleasant, and I asked what else she could do for me. All she could offer was a AAA discount which would save me about $20 of the extra $55 I had to pay. I really don't know why she couldn't match the original price I paid. Anyway, I said thank you and called back.

I talked to Sylvia this time. Much better experience. She read through the notes on my account, then seemed to genuinely want to solve the problem. In the end I will get the original (lower) amount refunded, plus a $100 gift code to be used in the next year for my inconvenience and my additional out-of-pocket cost. I'm wary about using again, but was happy they offered SOMEthing for their mistake.

I hope my children didn't hear me yelling.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Camp Laffalotta part 1

A week ago the girls started attending Camp Laffalotta. In fact, they started the day after school let out. Any guess as to the name of the camp director? Yours truly, of course.

The first week's theme has been Oceans of Fun. We checked out a pile of ocean books from the library, we've played fish games, we've made sandy beach cookies, we've read and read and read, we've eated tuna salad sandwiches, taken a field trip to the pet store to look at fish, and made fish-related art. In addition we do a couple of worksheets each day to keep skills sharp.

One of today's activities was to draw pictures of dolphins, then color them using a melting crayon technique (that needs a lot more refinement in coming weeks!). I put a piece of aluminum foil on a griddle, then put the paper on it. Then, using the butt end of the crayons, the kids slowly drew on the paper. The crayons melted and it was really fun! I think we'll use it for larger pictures in the future. These particular pictures were made to decorate thank you cards for Aunt Sandra and Uncle Bob as well as Grandma Jane and Grandpa Bob for birthday presents. Writing activity coming up next!