or, "You're a full time homemaker? What do you do all day long?"

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Flowers From the Underworld

     This is a photo of my Cinnamon Sun sunflowers I planted from seed in early April mixed in with some Sun Samba sunflowers. My Cinnamon Sun sunflowers in particular have  produced abundantly and gloriously. I will probably cut at least 2 dozen more sunflowers from the massive 8-foot tall giants in my yard. I love their dark, rich, chocolaty-brown color with flecks of amber emanating from the tips. They're rather exotic and unusual-looking. I think they look marvelous on my dining room table. I smile every time I come in the door as they're sitting in their vase saying, "Look at us! We're gorgeous!" And they are. Fresh-cut flowers add such an inviting element to any room in the house.
     When Leanne, my 9 year old,  saw them in their vase, she commented to me, "Those look like flowers from Persephone's garden in the Underworld."  I laughed. It seemed a fitting description due to their dark color. Leanne was referring to her latest literary series addiction, Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. She read all of the books - 100 chapters! - in one week. (She wanted me to put that in. The kid has earned bragging rights!) I have to chuckle at how much she has grown to enjoy reading. This child will read till late at night, at the breakfast table, in the car, when she's supposed to be doing chores, in the bathroom, etc. However, this was not always the case.
     Leanne didn't attend pre-school like my older girls did. But I worked tirelessly from about the time she was 3 or so helping her learn to identify her alphabet letters. We read lots of books, drilled through several stacks of flashcards umpteen times, used sandpaper letters, shaving cream on a plate, drawing letters on her back, writing them with pencils, pens, markers, crayons, etc., coloring in block letters and stencils, singing them, hopping on alphabet floor tiles.... Get the picture? I'm tired just remembering all my efforts.
     I finally decided, for various reasons, to put her into 1st grade in our local public school. Part of my thinking was, Let them have a crack at teaching her to read. She still can't recognize W and H. God bless 'em! Lo and behold, by November she was her 1st grade teacher's star student who had made the most dramatic progress of any student that year, despite the teacher's initial (no surprise there!) concerns. I was relieved! So grateful! My alphabet-challenged child was finally reading!
     She was just a late bloomer, unlike my sunflowers. Living things bloom on their own time table I guess.But when they bloom, watch out!

                                           (My giant Cinnamon Sun sunflowers to the right)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Joy at Dawn - All Three of Them!

     I have three favorite Dawns. One is the rising of the early morning sun. I greatly cherish the quiet of the early morning hours. I love an early morning stroll out to my garden to see the sparkly dew drops on my tomato plants' leaves. I salute my 7 foot tall sunflowers that stand like sentinels in my garden with their bright faces that eagerly greet the sun each morning. They watch over the comings and goings in my garden throughout the day:  birds splashing in their bath, bugs crawling around in the dirt, and the weeds growing, growing, always growing... Adding to my auditory delight are little birdies in their trees tweeting their morning greeting to the emerging sun.    
     If the Sand Man has shown me favor throughout the night (as opposed to feeling a cuddly child crawl into my bed in the wee morning hours complaining that, "I had a bad dweam"), then I feel industrious in the early morning hours. I am primed and ready to start a load of wash or transfer wet clothes into the dryer, put away drip-dry pots and pans on the counter from the night before, examine breakfast options for the morning and dinner plans for the evening, check my e-mail and look over my to-do list for the day, and see Tim off for work in the morning. After lunch time, I am ready for a nap!
Second on my list of favorite dawns is my high school friend Dawn (on the left in the picture to the left). I met Dawn when we were juniors in high school. We were on swim team together and spent many afternoons hanging out at my house or her godparent's home where she resided. She has overcome significant hardships in her life and has always remained sweet, sincere, and very generous with her care. I attended her wedding about 20 years ago and visited her at the hospital when her newborn baby, Amber (now 19!), was born. We share a mutual friend, Tina, a grade school friend of mine(in the picture on the right side with Dawn). Over the years we've all drifted in and out of contact. Dramatic personal trials have collided into these special friends' lives and I've found myself talking to them more recently. I am so ecstatic about that. Tina and I are trying to coax Dawn to move back to southern California from Albuquerque where she currently lives. Hopefully, with much prayer and patience, we'll get Dawn back out here so we can have some rockin' girls' nights out!
     Lastly, there's Dawn - the dish washing liquid. This post is appropriate for this blog about domestic issues because Dawn is a lady's best friend when trying to get grease stains out of clothing.  After soaking a greasy shirt in water, I then take a nail brush and scrub the spot out of the shirt.(Embarrassingly, these are frequently my shirts!) Sometimes, I fill a small empty 5 quart ice cream bucket (free with ice cream purchase and abundantly useful in many ways) with warm water, place the Dawn-doused shirt in it, and then let it soak for a couple of hours, or days (!) depending on how busy I am. Because I haven't gotten around to clearing a spot off my dryer  to easily scrub out my greasy shirts, I'll just throw them in the wash. Often times, the shirt will come out of the dryer looking like new. So handy! I have a small detergent bottle, or extra liquid hand soap bottle that I have near my utility sink in my laundry area. This way I always have my Dawn nearby to squirt on grease spots. If Dawn won't get a spot out, then nothing will. The shirt is destined for the trash can.
     With just overly dirty clothes (think dirt stains, chocolate stains, snot stains, and of course, ketchup) I place the grimy clothing item in my ice cream bucket with warm water and rinse out the cap I use for pouring liquid detergent into my washing machine. I don't use extra grime-busting products. Why spend extra money and make space in my laundry room for more containers if I don't need to? The concentrated teaspoon or so in the dispensing cup is usually enough of a boost to get extra "yuck" out of dirty clothes. What do you do to get stubborn stains out of your clothing?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bakin' Bread

     I've been wanting to post my favorite bread recipes for awhile now, but realized that a post about bread making didn't quite fit the "vibe" of my main blog Please Don't Take Me Seriously. I also realized that I have enough material for at least 2 or 3 posts a month. Why not start a new blog?!  My daughters can look back on my blog posts to get that favorite recipe or see "how Mom managed six kids" info.
     Anyway, I value practical tips and that's probably why I've always relished perusing magazines at doctors' offices over the years. I ate up the short snippets of tips I would get primarily from parenting and health magazines. At my last doctor's office, though, there was "American Cowboy" Magazine (huh? in downtown Los Angeles?) and too many Architectural Digest magazines. Even Martha Stewart Living is too complicated for me.
     But, I digress. So, last week we had run out of my homemade whole wheat bread. My middle girls, Chloe and Leanne, needed sandwiches for their summer day camp.Cinnamon and raisin bagels wouldn't be appetizing with turkey breast, so I broke down (and almost went broke!) and bought a loaf of bread on Friday. I was getting low on bread again on Sunday evening and didn't know if I'd have the time or energy to make some more bread, so I was going to buy another loaf of bread. But not at $4.29 a loaf! That's outrageous! There were no loaves of bread on sale and the 88 cent brand creeped me out. Early this morning I began my bread making for the next two weeks - hopefully, if I don't give half of it away. Friends, family, and neighbors rave about this bread so much that I'm delighted to share the fresh, yeasty, whole wheat goodness with them. It's hard to resist not handing them a loaf as they leave. But, This time, I said to myself, I don't want to buy store bought bread again.
     So, in my enthusiasm to make a whole bunch of bread at once, I realized I had to use my mini-loaf tins to finish the last three loaves of bread. I came out with 9 little mini loaves that are adorable and scrumptious. At first I thought, What am I going to do with those little loaves and tiny slices? And then I realized that with six kids, and several little ones at that, that I had found the perfect size for little peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and kid-sized slices of honey buttered toast. My kids will love 'em! Shazam! I raised my popularity quotient ("PQ") with my kids at least 14 points! The next day I also made mini turkey burger sliders for dinner with this bread. So fun!
Both recipes are courtesy of AllRecipes.Com.
Simple Whole Wheat BreadCook Time:
30 Min
Ready In:
3 Hrs
Servings  (Help)


  • 3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
  2. Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
  3. Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely

Nutritional Information open nutritional information

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 143 | Total Fat: 2.2g | Cholesterol

I roughly calculated that this bread cost me about $1.75 to make per loaf. That includes all costs from ingredients to gas usage to washing bowls and pans. A real bargain for how delicious it is.    

This next bread recipe is fabulous. I've cut this loaf into extra thick slices and made luscious french toast with it. It's also remarkably pleasing as a grilled cheese sandwich with sharp cheddar cheese. The blend of flavors from the sweet bread and the tangy, sharp taste of the cheddar cheese is marvelous! Each loaf probably cost me about $1. Amazingly economical for such a yummy bread! And I always double the recipe so I have 4 loaves. They're gone quickly.

Amish White Bread

This Kitchen Approved Recipe has an average star rating of 4.8 Prep Time:
20 Min
Cook Time:
40 Min
Ready In:
2 Hrs 30 Min


  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cups bread flour


  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam.
  2. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes.

Nutritional Information open nutritional information

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 168 | Total Fat: 2.9g | Cholesterol: 0mg
Happy girl!