#31- Putting the Espresso Machine to Use

I’ve never been a coffee drinker.  I try, I really really try.  The smell of roasted beans is so yummy. I use to walk through Whole Foods in Sac and spend a good deal of my time sticking my head in the different barrels of roasted coffee beans and inhaling the fragrance like it was chocolate.  But somehow the yumminess has yet to translate to my palette.

When Blake & I got married, he was absolute about registering for an Espresso Machine. Which we then got as a gift, and there it has been on our kitchen counter ever since.  Blake knows how to use it. He makes Espressos, Lattes, Mochas, Hot Chocolate.  Anything.  One time, many years ago when I first started working at Borders, I was trained as a backup barista in the cafe “Just in Case”  …. which turned out to never once happen in my 7 years there.

So, it always bugged me just a little that I had this appliance in my kitchen I never learned to use. Not to mention I am married to someone who loves his morning espresso drinks, but rarely gets one -partially because I never have once helped out in that area.  This is why #31 (learn how to use my Espresso Machine) made the list.

But this is no longer the case!  One night, with prompting by my husband, I was given a full tutorial.  Coffee, Espresso, Lattes, Americanas, Mochas and Hot Chocolates are now apart of my repertoire, and Blake has been enjoying this for the past several days now. Mission Accomplished!

And, since we are on the subject.  Is It pronounced Espresso or Expresso? Cause I hear most people say “Expresso” even though when read correctly it’s “Esssssssspresso” …?

#43- Baking Bread

Several years ago when I began to educate myself more and more on healthy eating and living and such, I was reading somewhere (tho it IS common knowledge now I think) that we really shouldn’t be eating anything with

-more than 5 things listed in its ingredients

-ingredients you cannot pronounce

-ingredients that are essentially man-made.  Like High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, etc. etc.

While I’ve managed to avoid most of this for myself and my family, one thing that always tripped me up was bread.  How can something as simple as bread be made up of so MANY ingredients?  Granted, most of them were things I recognized but still…. did it really take that much to make a loaf of bread?  I suppose if you are a huge corporation looking to ship your breads all over the country and need lots of preservatives and such.

Well, as I contemplated this over the years I always thought to myself that one day I’d try to make bread myself.  REAL whole wheat bread. So #43 (successfully bake a loaf of bread) made my list.

My concerns were mainly that I wanted a loaf of bread that would truly hold up with a sandwich.  Nothing that would fall apart simply by cutting it, or would be too moist, too dry or anything else.

I was surprised how very easy this turned out to be.  The recipe I researched and used made me 5 small loaves.  Small, because I couldn’t find my regular-sized loaf pan, and wound up using my smaller (banana bread sized) loaf pans instead.  Not a big deal, we sent one with my mother and another with our neighbor, and since the fuel & feed in town closed early for the weekend, the farm animals got spoiled with one as well, since I didn’t get a chance to buy chicken feed. The other 2 we’ve been happily using first as toast for breakfast and then mini turkey & cheese sandwiches for Natalie- just the right size!  AND it held up!  So happy 🙂

The best part is that there was a total of 7 ingredients- Whole wheat flour, bread flour, yeast, butter, water, salt, and honey. I think I’ll start making our own breads now….

#3- When you want something done…..

For the better part of my life, my mother has been bugging to teach me how to sew. I’m not certain my aversion to it. I always had plenty of things to sew.  But I just made her do it, with me breathing over her shoulder and nitpicking at how she did the project.

More recently I’ve been more and more active in Natalie’s preschool, and being the hyperactive ECERS observer that I am, found there were certain things that were driving me batty.  One of them being the hallway where they kept their cubbies.

Trashbags for napsacks! You can see where this is headed…….

Of course I politely inquired about the use of trashbags.  Turns out there was no money in the budget to order fabric ones, which I know exist from my own past experience. But, the Director had burlap sacks she wanted to try out but needed to put through an industrial wash first to get rid of the loose strands and burlap smell. Initially I offered to take them home and do it myself, which I did do and ran through my own frontloader several times to no avail.  So THEN I thought I’d collect fabric donations from other parents and make the napsacks myself. I posted a sign asking for donations, but again I got nothing.  It all seemed to end there, despite the distress the  Director felt regarding the issue.

So…. I just decided to take care of it myself. I went to Walmart and bought yards of fabric on the clearance shelf ($1.00 per yard, 20 different yards). I figured it would be THIS that would propel me to finally learn how to sew, and cross one more task off my list (#3-have my mother teach me how to sew and make something).

                               

Of course my mother was thrilled. Not to mention I couldn’t bring myself to demand she sew 20 napsacks herself. Usually the tasks I ask of her are a bit smaller. It was hard to bring myself to be interested at first. It seems that something like sewing should be SO much easier than it is.  And maybe it is, and my mother just has a crap machine.  I don’t know enough to know.  But, I can tell you that the machine broke down frequently, or there was frequently something wrong.  Like running out of thread.

Whatever it may be, I have to say that working with a machine that frequently stopped working only meant one thing:  I learned sewing inside and out, and learned to fix every problem that came up.  It’s like driving a crap car and having no choice but to learn how to fix it yourself so you can get to work.

After

So there you have it.  20 napsacks. I’m certainly not a pro now, but I have no desire to sew something fashionable.  For now, square bags are all I have in mind (pillows, bean bags, etc.) and for an audience that doesn’t care that there are no straight lines anywhere to be found 🙂