Got Grace a new bike

Her birthday bike was too big; her legs just aren’t long enough to follow through the bottom of the stroke, so she ended up braking to a stop each cycle. Not very enabling.

So, we got her an el-cheapo smaller bike (she chose Dora the Explorer). All day long there have been people coming and going, and each time I warned her about a car she immediately got out of the street and/or driveway. Since she was so good about that, I told her that we would get her a bike she could fit on tomorrow.

Daddy Cy, however, suggested that we get one tonight — a stroke of parenting genius! She got the immediate reward, which I’m sure she’ll remember, plus we got to kill several birds with one stone by getting shipping supplies at the same time.

Funniest moment: She saw a Scooby flashlight, and told us

“I’ve been looking for one of these!”

Like either of us has the power to resist that kind of cuteness. C’mon.

J’s Bread recipe (bread machine required)

Ingredient options are listed in order of preference:

For each loaf:
  • 1 cup 1% buttermilk, or regular milk (have extra ready)
  • 1/2 stick butter, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons honey or sugar
  • 3 cups unsifted flour (any combination of whole wheat and white works with at least 1 cup white flour)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon yeast (quick-rise works best)
  • pam with flour

You will also need at least one small batter bowl (or something equivalent), and one more bread pan than the number of loaves you plan to make (the extra one is used as a shaping pan).

  1. Combine milk, butter and honey, heat in microwave 30 seconds. Let sit in microwave for a few moments, then nuke it another 30 seconds. The small batter bowl from pampered chef is fantastic for this. Put into bread machine.
  2. Add half the flour, the salt, the rest of the flour, and the yeast.
  3. Start bread machine on the dough setting, wait for initial ingredient combination. It should be lumpy from too much flour.
  4. SLOWLY drizzle more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough both has a smooth gluten coating AND sticks to and pulls away from the side of the bread machine. Wait at least one minute between the last two teaspoons of milk. Don’t wait if the dough is banging around the inside way above the mixing beater.
  5. On my machine, the initial (intermittent) stirring takes two minutes of the 20-minute kneading process. I try to be done drizzling in milk by the time 8 minutes are left before the first rise.

  6. Spray all bread pans with pam with flour
Single loaf instructions
  1. Check on the first rise after 30 minutes. It may need to be punched down by hand (usually if the weather is warm) to prevent overflow!
  2. When the machine’s punch-down is complete, immediately transfer the dough to bread pan, and punch it flat to the shape of the pan.
  3. Put the other pan over the top, and flip them both over so that the shaped loaf is now smooth top and bottom.
  4. Run a knife down the length of the dough, through to the bottom.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 350°F to 375° F
  6. Let the dough rise until the highest point just passes the top of the bread pan.
  7. Bake for 35-50 minutes, at least until browned and tapping on the bread makes a hollow sound.
  8. Immediately remove loaf from pan and put on a cooling rack, unless you want a soggy crust.
  9. Let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Multiple loaf differences
  1. When the 20-minute mixing finishes, let the dough rise in a pampered chef classic batter bowl. Spray the bowl with pam with flour to make your life easier.
  2. While measuring the wet ingredients, measure out several copies into more small batter bowls. Do the same for the dry ingredients.
  3. You can re-use the same shaping pan — it rarely needs to be re-sprayed with pam.

You want a real treat? Take two slices immediately after slicing the still-warm loaf; toast them until just barely crisp on the outside. Butter and salt. Try not to do that for two more slices.

Sue’s chololate chip cookie recipe

The nice thing about this one is that the chips stay soft even when the cookies cool!

Sue thinks this one came from a jello recipe, but doesn’t recall for certain…

2 sticks of butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
small package instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp vanilla
beat the above until light and fluffy
add 2 eggs beat until well mixed
add 1 tsp baking soda and 2 1/4 cups flour; add flour one cup at a time, beat just until mixed
add 12 oz chocolate chips stir just until mixed
drop on a cookie sheet
bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes

Speaking of roads…

Let’s see if this one pisses anyone else off.

We live less than two blocks from the neighborhood big park. There is still quite a bit of construction going on closer to the river, so there are many large trucks passing by during the day. A few of them are going the speed limit (35 mph). Many are going 5 to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. Some, I suspect, are going 5 to 10 miles per hour over the speed limit of light.

We rarely take the kids to the park, as it involves crossing Riverplace Blvd. Instead, we put up a “Slow — children at play” sign at the end of the cul-de-sac, and tell the kids to never approach that zone.

Last week, when the weather turned nice for the first time in a few weeks, it was up, the kids were riding trikes and running and having a blast, when a nice fellow pulled in to ask where we got the sign, and to relate this story to us:

They called the Travis County sheriff’s department, and asked how to get a speed bump or speed hump put in. The answer?

“We can’t do that until there has been a death.”

My question is, “Does that death have to be related in some way to an engine, or can we get the brain-dead policy-based decision-makers out here to meet with the neighborhood parents armed with thousands of pounds of diapers, many with the diaper genie still wrapped around them?”

Hopefully I’ll be able to verify this claim at the next homeowners association meeting.