Monday, January 15, 2018

Marooned in South Carolina

Okay, so the title might be a bit dramatic, but it is somewhat accurate!

On New Year's Day we woke the kids up super early and headed to the airport for two quick flights to Myrtle Beach, SC. My parents have retired and purchased a house near, but not on, the beach just outside of Myrtle Beach. This was to be our holiday visit to them. As it so happens, we brought the ridiculously cold weather with us, though we avoided the terrible negative temperatures in Michigan.

It was supposed to be a fairly quick trip. Fly down on Monday, return Friday. With the storms all along the east coast, and a connection in Newark, NJ, we ended up not getting home until very late Tuesday, 4 days after our original return.  Third time was the charm, apparently, and all it took was a sacrifice of a water bottle to the Myrtle Beach Airport and the purchase of another carry on to hold all of our shit.

Ah, life with kids.

Despite all that, it was a nice trip to see my parents. I will agree with my husband though, from now on if we can't get a direct flight there and back, we're just going to drive.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Riding Skirt: Prototype 1

So I've made my awesome quarter sheet (that I have a few additions still left to do, namely a tail cord and maybe some weights so it actually stays centered on Gwyn's butt) and with temperatures now in the single and negative digits, I decided I can't put this off a year and need to get moving on making a riding skirt.

I've seen one website linked a couple times from different horse friends of these awesome riding skirts made by a woman owned business in Alaska. These things look spectacular and there are a couple different kinds for all sorts of weather. There's one made out of what appears to be a sleeping bag or heavy duty winter coat material, a wool one, a duck canvas one and a lighter one for rain.

I really want all of them. But my bank account says NONE.  They are seriously so expensive. But I do already have a sewing machine and a serger. And JoAnn's has fleece for 50% off like every day (just mark it down to that price, silly capitalists!)

I figured I could make a working muslin of a riding skirt with cheap fleece and once I perfected the pattern, go and snag some decent winter jacket material from Seattle Fabrics so I have a REALLY warm one!

Image Heavy Below this link! 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

St. Lucia Buns

My main cultural heritage is Swedish. My mom's side of the family are somewhat recent immigrants (my great grandparents immigrated from Sweden) and I know we are still in contact with others in the family who stayed in Sweden. One thing I've been trying to do is recapture that side of my heritage to share with the girls.

A big celebration at midwinter is the St. Lucia's Day or the Feast of St. Lucia. It's like a pagan/christian combo holiday like most at midwinter and is usually celebrated on December 13. It used to be celebrated on the winter solstice but got moved and coopted once Christianity came to town. Now it's part of Advent and the celebration of light.

The girls are still too young to dress in a white gown and wear a wreath with candles on their heads, so this year is us just dipping our toes into celebrating it. But as I was charged with bringing desserts for Christmas Day with the family, I decided to make the saffron sweet bread that is typically eaten at that feast!

I used this recipe from the NYT.  St. Lucia Buns It was fairly easy for a beginner to make, and I'm pretty sure they came out good. The saffron is VERY strong, and you use a lot of it, which makes them fairly expensive to make. After grinding, 1g became my 3/4 of a teaspoon. It's a LOT of saffron threads. So heads up.

I took pictures as I made them today and you can follow along!  I'll recreate the recipe here on the blog if you can't access the NYT website for whatever reason.

Make sure you have everything plus your recipe!


INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ounces butter, melted
  • 2 ½ cups lukewarm milk
  • ¾ teaspoon saffron
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.7 ounces fresh yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds wheat flour, or as needed
  •  Beaten egg, for brushing
  •  Raisins, for garnish.
Me: NAILED IT

Me: MELT DAMN YOU
 Place the butter and milk in a medium bowl.
Amy's Tip of the Day: If your husband has not cleaned the mortar and pestle out after grinding up super spicy peppers, use some rice and just grind on that for a little while. The rice soaks up the capsaicin and coloring and you're left with a clean mortar and pestle!
Do not rub your eyes after trying to clean it the old way. Or your nose.
 Using a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron with a pinch of the sugar, and stir into the mixture
All those little flecks are the saffron.

This was my first time using fresh yeast in a brick. The package said it was good until Jan 2018 but man... I dunno. The microbiologist in me was skeptical. I mean, I know it's a yeast, but I saw some filamentous fungi on this stuff. Also, 1.7 oz is a LOT of yeast! It was almost this whole brick (2 oz)!!!  I was able to cut out the stuff I thought was bad/discolored to pare down to 1.7, so that worked out okay. 
 In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in a little of the lukewarm butter mixture, then add the remaining butter mixture, the remaining sugar and the salt.
Me: DISSOLVE, DAMN YOU

Let 5 year olds help where possible for best memory making.

Nailed it again. 2lb of flour

Yes, those eggs are out on the countertop. They are straight from a chicken's cloaca though, so they're shelf stable so long as they're not cracked. #themoreyouknow #besteggsever
 Gradually add enough of the flour (almost all of it) to make a workable dough, kneading for 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes in a mixer with a dough hook. 
Dough hook it is. Best. Wedding Present. Ever.

 Shape into a ball, sprinkle with a little flour and cover with a cloth. Allow to rise in a warm spot for 30 to 45 minutes.
Photo credit to the hoosband.
 Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, and knead in additional flour if the dough is sticky. Shape as desired into buns, braids or lengths.
Star Wars Cheezits definitely necessary for this recipe to work well. Also, those silicone baking mats are the fucking bomb. Highly recommend. Merry Early Christmas to meeeeeee.
 Place on lined baking sheets, and allow to rise again for 30 to 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400F.
My dough shaping was not on point at first.


Hoosband takes silly photos of the scientist/baker/mom extraordinaire.

 Brush the buns with beaten egg, and press raisins lightly into the dough.
Much more on point dough shapes. The bottom row were made by Kaylee. <3 

12 minutes was about the magic number for the sizes I made. Super quick to bake. All the time is spent in prep, really.
 Bake until golden and risen, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a bun comes out dry. Smaller buns may take 8 to 10 minutes; larger lengths and braids, 15 to 20 minutes.

Things I will try next time:
  • A recipe that uses less saffron
  • smaller bits of dough for finer looking final products
  • warming up the milk a bit more before adding the melted butter, it immediately separated and solidified and I ended up nuking it a touch to get it liquid
  • Buy saffron well before christmas eve, LOL, and not try to look for it at my super limited grocery store
  • more raisins, omnomnomnom

Monday, December 11, 2017

Health Updates

Content: Menstruation, cup, doctors visits, IBS. THIS WILL BE BLUNT.


Last month I went to a scheduled doctor appointment to discuss updates about my PCOS and IBS. I had mentioned in my intake that I was using adult diapers as a good way to keep my clothes from getting messed up on the heaviest days of my period.

The NP, when she heard, told me that that WASN'T right, especially if I was on metformin which should reduce period severity due to PCOS. I got an order for a GYN and an ultrasound immediately. She asked a couple other questions about the severity of cramps (it takes about 800 mg of ibuprofen or naproxen to cut through), the size of clots (dime size? No... quarter) and length of period (7+ days, at least 3 are heavy enough to bleed through overnight pads in 2 hours)

Last week I had my ultrasound. Pretty quick procedure, exterior with a full bladder and then an intravaginal one after I'd peed.  I got the basic results today from my doctor. I have soft markers for endometriosis (suspected, given my symptoms) and will be seeing a gynecologist.

Uterine ablation was mentioned and I'm interested to see where this all leads. I'm also interested to see what life might be like without having to go to ridiculous means to not bleed all over everything for a week.

It could be nice.


Given, also that I have a very heavy flow, menstrual cups haven't really been the magical cure-all they're sold as in the online community (not so much from the manufacturers). I can't go 12 hours wearing mine without leaking significantly. Like using a cotton ball to stopper up a dam's leak. Thought that analogy might be more apt for a tampon. I haven't bothered with a tampon in almost a decade. They were laughable, I needed a pad anyway, so what was the point?

Even with the cup I still needed backup.  Period panties were also laughable given that they're really only to protect against itty bitty leaks, not gushes of clots. I like them for my light days, or days where incontinence is worse (colds, coughs... etc, thank you pregnancy). Did you know that Thinx do eventually leak? I DO! The chinese knockoffs are a bit better imo, in both fit and coverage. 

Anyway, all of that to say, I got a new cup. It's apparently the largest on the market for volume so I'm hoping it will work a bit better for me. It's not nearly as stiff as my old Diva cup, but it is stiffer than my collapsible one from Intimina (which I cannot find, curse my children)

My period is in full swing now, so we'll see how this holds up. 

They have a couple different colors. I chose blue.

Brand info.

Comes with a little drawstring cotton bag.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

A visit from friends

I debated whether to put this on my horse blog or here. But really it's about socializing and friends, and not me riding Gwyn specifically, so here it belongs.

L and her daughter E came over Sunday afternoon for some horsey fun. L has been itching for horse time and I am more than happy to share Gwyn. E is a couple months older than Kaylee and they get along for the most part once they both get over the initial shyness. They live more in metro Detroit proper, so it can be a bit of a hike to come out to our place.



A very pouty Hazel who did NOT want to switch where she was brushing Gwyn. Gwyn is being a Good Girl.

Saffron was jealous.


Hazel also brushed her own hair.

L showed everyone how to pick out hooves. Gwyn was, once again, A Very Good Girl.

Everyone had to take a turn picking out the hoof. Even Hazel.

I had some sparkly garland that we fashioned into a 'bridle' since the girls weren't going to be off a leadline at all. They thought it was great.



"Okay Hazel, hug Kaylee and hang on!"  So Kaylee hugged Hazel back and I got this super sweet photo.


Saffron played with the other garland.


"I WANT TO GO OVER THE JUMPS TOO!"

Both of the older kids also wanted to 'go fast'  so we ran around and Gwyn was A Very Very Good Girl and had a nice trot. Though I find that kids seem to be able to sit very bouncy things well anyway.

Hazel was upset that everyone else was riding. So she got time by herself on Gwyn and I think really had a blast.

Thank goodness for L, because I would not do this with just me. There still needs to be a toddler handler to keep a hand on Hazel in case she gets off balance.



"No, actually, I don't want attention, human... Get it off. I take it back."

E leads Gwyn around. Gwyn was still a Good Girl.





Hazel was VERY upset that other people were riding "Her [My] Pony"