***Buns!***

OK, when you read the title, what were you thinking?

One of the great things about homeschooling is that school can take place at any time, and anywhere. So, on a day such as this, Michelle did a little lesson in home management, whipping up some delicious Macaroni and Cheese. (of course, this was *my* idea!)

This morning, I have no idea what got into me, but I found a little package of hamburger that needed to be used…so, the wheels went into overdrive, and I decided to look on the innernet for a hamburger/ hotdog bun recipe. This of course, led to another dilemma….did I have or NOT have some yeast? Hmmmm…I trudged to the basement and nearly fell into the chest freezer, diving deeply to find…YES! a bulk package of yeast I had purchased somewhere!

I took the package upstairs and tested it in some warm water with a bit of sugar thrown in. Yes, it did activate!

I fired up the Kitchen Aid mixer, and alas, the dough was ready. I set a few feet away from the woodstove, and it rose wonderfully well! Hurrah! Punched it down, let it rise once more, shaped the buns, covered them, then set them beneath the woodstove, as the fire had died back a good deal.

I baked the buns along with Michelle’s terrific Mac and Cheese. The result was pretty cool! ALthough the buns were a bit “heavier” than the kind you buy at the grocery store, they were GOOD! Mark loves the “hard roll” buns, but these weren’t that crusty and hard. I also put a slight dab of butter on the tops so they would stay soft.

As hamburger buns, and…..

As hotdog buns.

This was a very fun experiment, and the family all agrees they love these rolls!

A Warm Gathering……..

Yesterday afternoon, I traveled about 50 miles to get together with some of my soap making friends. This is something that we try to do from time to time. Although the temps were still barely hovering above the 0 degree mark, we had a good time, chatting about products, selling, and families. (we even talked about our dogs, too!)

The group started out planning on perhaps ten in attendence, but as the day drew near, a few were unable to attend because of illness. It is that time of year, after all. It eneded up being five soapers and two adorable little ones. We met at a Cracker Barrel and we lingered on at our table for about two and a half hours! We were able to exchange goodies if we wanted, so I came home with a stunning ornament one of the girls made, a jar of luscious sweet almond body butter, and the prettiest crystal pot pourri.

After leaving (rather reluctantly!), I had to make a couple of stops to pick up some things. Mark has been trying to put together a dust collection system for his woodworking tools, so I dropped by to pick up some things he had called in at Woodcrafts. A few days ago (last week when it was MUCH warmer!) Mark took apart an old workbench he had made probably over 20 years ago. The top on it was made from 2X6 pine boards that he had topped with a piece of masonite. The boards were quite badly warped so he ran them through his planer, then edged them with the jointer. He glued them up, sanded them, and plans to rebuild a table at a lower height. He will use it for woodworking. I wish I would have taken before and after pictures, but I forgot!

As I drove home from my little outing, the low winter sun was so very beautiful. It was pouring out that “liquid honey” glow to the landscape. Even though the heater had to run nearly full bore to keep the car warm, that sun fooled the eye, making all that it touched appear much warmer than it was. The wickedly bone-numbing winds we had for the past couple of days painted farmers’ fields with breath-taking landscapes reminescent of pictures taken in the desert of wind-driven sand. As I drove through one small town, the tallest entity appeared to be a tall pine tree. The sun hit it just right, thus “illuminating” the cones clustered near the peak. The resulting effect was glowing golden “adornments” that would rival even the most beautiful and expensive blown glass ornaments on a Christmas tree.

One of the most remarkable (at least to me) results of this cold weather is that the air appears to be so incredibly “clear”. I don’t know how to describe it, but colors appear to be more intense. You can look out over the landscape and see so clearly. It is comparable to looking through a high-powered microscope and seeing every detail so much better than with the “naked eye”. The sky was not that bright sapphire blue today…it was more of a light blue topaz, but it offered the perfect background to the “pallette du jour”.

As I pulled into the driveway, the sun was passing over the western mountain across from us, causing the reality of the bitter cold to hit home. I grabbed the booty, and made haste to the front door! For those in the deep freeze, please stay safe and warm!