Tuesday, March 29, 2011

989.9 miles; twice as many smiles

If you know me, you know one thing about me - I HATE driving. I go out of my way to not drive. There was a time that I'd drive to a point then simply take a bus. Yes, it's that serious. You see, for me, driving is the one surefire thing to trigger an anxiety attack. An anxiety attack while driving is not fun - nor safe. I'm doing a public service by avoiding the roads.

So when I got the bug last January to go visit a friend in Tallahassee for her birthday, driving there was the farthest from my mind. But plane tickets were $500 (seriously, Tally, why?) and 12 hours on the Greyhound sounded much too much. I opened Google Maps and looked wistfully. About 500 miles/7.5 hours of driving. Up to that point, the furthest I had driven was maybe 70 miles. 500 would kill me or take days. I closed the window.

I kept thinking about it but knew I could never do it. After a particularly hilarious conversation last Monday night, I told myself - Now or Never. I liked never. But Tuesday morning, I decided to just do it. Providing that my car could make it, I was heading on a solo road trip.

The plan was to leave on Thursday night - after rush hour. Did I mention that I don't drive at night? Thursday evening came and my plan for a 3 hour nap before hitting the road was foiled. Maybe I should just cancel. But I made a promise. People were making plans. I had to do this. I sat in the parking lot of the gas station for a long time before I took a deep breath, said a lengthy prayer and hit the road. 

The drive wasn't as bad as I expected it to be but it wasn't fun. On the final 50 miles, I was exhausted and in pain. When I made it to Tally, I was beyond cranky and not the nicest to one of my hosts (sorry :-(). 

But after a few zzz's, I was ready to live it up - Tally style. To summarize all the things that I did this weekend, would take much too long. The collages cover it all though. Suffice to say, it was one of the best times I've had in a very long time. Every aspect of my weekend was amazing - from earrings to galas to track meets to fish fries to dry ice to quiche to sniffing soap. 

On Sunday, I never wanted to leave. Could we just stop time? Cancel my life in Miami? Could I just stay in Tally forever? I delayed the return trip as much as I could and barely dragged myself out of bed yesterday morning. 

The return trip was slower because it rained 90% of the way. Did I mention that I don't drive in rain? However, I wasn't as exhausted nor was I in pain. When I pulled into my complex, I was both happy and sad. Happy to have safely driven 989.9 miles. Happy to have enjoyed twice as many smiles. But sad because it was over. I met great people this weekend - including strangers who welcomed me to dinner, an inspirational coach and a creative jewellery designer. Proving the small world theory, I had dinner at a then stranger's house who turned out to be the friend of a friend.

It's definitely a weekend that I will remember forever. I'm glad I stepped way out of my comfort zone (hundreds of miles out!) and made the trip.

A huge shout-out to my hosts! Thanks for taking so much time out of your schedules to entertain me!

Now let me go hide my car key. I am NEVER driving again. My butt hurts!

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Monday, March 28, 2011

I made bread!

Not the best pic and not the best formed, but I made Sourdough bread!
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Monday, March 21, 2011

Of course

It would stand to reason that the day I decided to stop the Sourdough madness, I'd have froth action.
My starter was very froth and yeasty smelling this morning. I separated into to two. One cup got a cup of flour and a cup of water. Half cup got half each. I threw out the other set that I had.
I also have a dough based starter going. Obsessed much?




We'll see what happens. I'm checking for rising. If it rises, I'll keep going and try to bake, if not, I'm refrigerating until Friday.

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sourdough Day 8 Feeding 8


I didn't take pics today. Lazy. It looks the same. A few bubbles on top. I added half cup of flour and a little less water. If the bread experiment today works, I will put it in the fridge.

So the bread experiment. I'm taking a few hints from everywhere for it.

Everyone seems to do an initial proofing of the starter. Some call it a sponge.

 Sourdough Video Recipes takes 1/4 cup of starter, adds half cup each of flour and water, waits 8 hours  and then adds a cup each of flour and water. He then leaves it overnight, I guess. The next step is making a firm starter. Too many steps, too much flour commitment for me since I don't even know if my starter is good. So that's where we'll part ways, for now.

 Vegan Baking adds a cup each of flour and water to a cup of starter then leaves it until it has doubled.

 S John Ross  does the same -although his wait is until its frothy.

I like the simplicity of both their bread making techniques and will be following that if I get to that stage.

Sourdough oops


Argh

My starter didn't double so I'm not going to feed it at 12 hours as planned. Also, I think I used regular tap water instead of the spring water that I got specifically for it. Double argh.

I'm just not winning. It has bubbles though. I'll feed it around 3pm. Hopefully, it does what it should then.

By the way, it's pretty sour.

Tomorrow I'm going to attempt bread with this. I know. I know. It didn't double so it isn't ready. But, I've seen starters that look like mine being used. This bread attempt will let me know for sure. If it rises, I'm good to go. I'm going to follow the method on  Sourdough-video-recipes.com. It calls for 1/4 cup of starter. I can spare that for my experiment. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sourdough Day 7 Feeding 7

Mr Sourdough Starter is going to get two feedings today. This is from part impatience and part reading too much.
I found one site that suggested feeding twice per day. I'm pretty sure my starter was probably hungry because I was going beyond the 24 hour schedule. It's supposed to be able to double between feedings. Was mine doubling without me seeing?
I couldn't tell because there's a lot of flour on the side of my jar. I washed the jar - added back half cup of starter, half cup of flour and a little less water. My starter was once again, pretty happy to be fed. Maybe it is pretty hungry. In 12 hours, I'll do it again. I won't if it hasn't done anything though.

My starter no longer has a sour smell. Doesn't smell like anything. Looks like I could be here another week.




(Eating)





Clean jar with a mark to indicate level of starter.

posted from Bloggeroid

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Sourdough Day 6 Feeding 6

It's possible that the choloramine in my water may be having disastrous effects on my starter. I refuse to dump this out yet so I got a bottle of Spring water and some unbleached AP flour for today's feeding. Also going to start a new dough-style starter. Yes, I'm impatient.

So it had a few bubbles. But no froth when I checked in. My pet could also just be hungry. I'm late with feedings.




I added the unbleached flour and spring water. And it seemed to come to life.





I could almost hear it eating. It calmed down pretty soon after.
Well, I guess no bread this weekend.

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sourdough Day 5 Feeding 5

Did I already mention that I was impatient? I fed it late today. I was busy. Still seeing that separation. Still only small bubbles.
Fed it extra thick today. Also threw out some into another container to test it. It is possible that the slowness is due to temperature and the fact that I'm using bleached flour. Bleached flour has fewer microorganisms. I could also not be feeding it often enough. Too many variables.
I'm giving it until the end of next week. I want to bake something to send to a friend along with sourdough bread so it's time sensitive.





Thursday, March 17, 2011

No shortening biscuits


I was craving biscuits but my shortening went bad. I searched for a no shortening recipe and found this one.

It was quick, easy and tasty. Loved it!
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Sourdough Day 4 Feeding 4

I think my starter is dead. I remember seeing a few bubbles before but like yesterday, my starter has just separated - clear liquid on top. I don't know if this is normal.




Maybe I'm being impatient. I added more flour and water and stirred it all.



I need things to start bubbling before I have to start discarding before I can add more. My little jar is getting full.
It doesn't smell bad so maybe I just need to be patient. If nothing happens by day 8, I'm switching to the potato flakes method.

Edit:

I did some more reading. That liquid layer is normal. I should have simply been stirring it back in throughout the day. This is one needy pet. I just looked at it awhile ago and it seems that I'm on the path to frothiness. I want bread this weekend!






Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sourdough Day 3 Feeding 3

12 hours later, I returned to my pet. I gave it a quick stir and left it for another 12 hours.
There was a watery liquid on top and it wasn't smelling very "sour." No bubbles in sight either. I didn't take a pic because I was feeling kinda lazy to go get camera.

I added 1/4 cup each of water and flour and decided to take a pic before I stirred.




It looks bubbly but it's not ready yet. At least it isn't pink and foul smelling.
After stirring it looked like this.




How much longer will I have to wait dear starter? I'm getting antsy. Luckily this long wait is a one time process because this is crazy.





posted from Bloggeroid

Mobile Blogging

I have a smartphone. I pay tons of money each month for a data plan. I want my smartphone to do everything including make me dinner and give me a massage each day. For some reason, I can’t seem to find an app for that. But I’m searching. On Saturday night I decided to try mobile blogging. I followed the instructions and linked my blog to my phone. In a few minutes I was easily publishing posts from my email. You can also publish using MMS or SMS.

However, I wanted more. I could add images. But the images were placed at the top of post. What if I wanted them at the end? What if I wanted them in the middle? What about formatting my text? Bold? Italics? Underline? And tags? And links? I really wanted to add links. I decided to check the Android Market for an application.

First up was Blogger’s official app – Blogger.

There’s honestly not much I can say about this application. I never got it to work. It opened; I connected my blog and it immediately forced closed. I tried several more times and it crashed HTC. I uninstalled and tried again and the same thing happened so I uninstalled and moved on.

Next I tried Blogger-Droid.

It’s pretty simple. I can add tags. I can add images. If I wanted to format text or add html links I could. However, I would need to type the html tags. That easily done for formatting text but I’m not sure that I want to type the html tags for URLs. I can add images but the images can only be placed at the beginning of the post. I can view and edit previous blog posts. I can also easily share posts via whatever media I chose – facebook, Twitter, text, email or even Springpad. I can publish a post as a draft and I can also schedule the time and date of the post. The view of my posts is my blog layout so I can see exactly how a post/image looks on my background. Pretty good. But I still wanted to test others.

Bloggeroid.

Bloggeroid’s interface is also simple and straightforward. I can format text using html tags with extra “<<” or I can use **bold** or __italic__. I like those options - much faster than typing tags. I can add multiple images and I can choose where in a post the images appear – win! However, I can’t view the pics when I pull up a post. I simply see an aqua box – fail! I can save posts to my SD card or I can publish them as drafts. There’s no option to schedule a post for a later date. Links could be added using html tags. You cannot share posts from Bloggeroid

Blogaway

Blogaway has a toolbar that allows you to format your text. I had a little trouble using this but I think it may be easier than I think. You select the text and then choose to make it bold, italicized, underlined or in a different colour. You can save drafts to your phone or to your blog. However, you cannot edit drafts that have been saved to your blog - #fail. You can only edit drafts that have been saved to phone. You can add images but only one image – another fail. However, you can easily add links – win! You can also easily share your posts.


Format text

Images

Links

Share posts

Editing drafts

Publish Later

Save to Phone

Blogger-Droid

Html

Multiple images –one location

Write own tags

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Bloggeroid

Html

Multiple images – choose location

Write own tags

No

Yes

No

Yes

Blogaway

Toolbar

One image – one location

Add link option

Yes

Cannot edit drafts saved to blog

No

Yes


I think I may need to use a combination of applications until I find one that suits my needs or until I learn to develop my own.

There's an app for that

I spent too many hours on Sunday afternoon reviewing applications that I could use to publish to Blogger from my phone. This is my typical MO. I want something and then I compare all options for several hours or even days, weeks or months. I think it is time that I actually posted official reviews of the applications that I test. This will help me to remember what I liked and disliked about various apps.

So welcome to – “There’s an app for that.” I know – trés original.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sourdough Day 2 Feeding 2

I waited 24 hours to do this second feeding. In the video, he says 8 to 12 to 24 hours. Other starters that I've seen wait for 24 hours. If I mess this up, I've already earmarked an even simpler starter.

Things are beginning to smell a little sour and I can see some bubbles



I added another tablespoon of flour and a tablespoon of water, mixed and put it back on top of my fridge.



I cover my jar with a coffee filter. All starter recipes suggest loosely covering so that it is somewhat exposed to air. I think I saw somewhere that someone used a filter. Air can get it but no bugs can.

posted from Bloggeroid

For Daddy

If tears could build a stairway - Author unknown

If tears could build a stairway,
and memories a lane.
I would walk right up to Heaven
and bring you back again.

No farewell words were spoken,
No time to say "Goodbye".
You were gone before I knew it,
and only God knows why.

My heart still aches with sadness,
and secret tears still flow.
What it meant to love you -
No one can ever know.

But now I know you want me
to mourn for you no more;
To remember all the happy times
life still has much in store.

Since you'll never be forgotten,
I pledge to you today~
A hollowed place within my heart
is where you'll always stay.


25 years since you've been gone. Wish you were here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sourdough Day 1 Feeding 1


First, let me add that I'm following the starter recipe found at Sourdough Video Recipes.

S John Ross has excellent instructions on his site. But I wanted to try a starter that didn't involve a lot of throwing away. I may still follow his baking instructions.

So here I am at my first feeding, about 11 hours later.



Nothing is happening yet. But it's still too early. I don't expect any bubbling action until about Wednesday.

Oooh



I think I figured out how to format text with Blogaway. And  I know how to add colour.

Buuuuut, it will only allow me one image per post. Sigh. I'm so not winning.

I need an app that allows me to format text, add multiple images, choose the location of the images and add links. Too much to ask?

More testing



OK. Now I'm trying Blogaway. It gives me the ability to format text. But there's a bit of a learning curve. Wasn't the easiest thing to do and I'm not sure if it actually worked.

This should be in  italics.

Color

This has the option to add links which I like. But the formatting hassles may not be worth it. Let's see where it inserts my images.

Booo

I edited my previous post in Bloggeroid and it messed up the pics. Boo. Definitely uninstalling. How can I not have the option to edit a word without screwing everything up?


Edit: I figured out how to fix the pics. Just need to fix the tags. They get messed up when I load them into the Bloggeroid editor. It seems that for now, I will be using Bloggeroid if I want to use multiple pics and want to insert them at specific places and also format text. I'll use Blogaway if I have several links and don't want to type all the html commands. I can use a combination of the two if I want all the above.

Still testing

OK. I tried Blogger's official app but it kept force closing so I had to uninstall.

&lt;a href='http://lh6.ggpht.com/_lr-ntVfv0x4/TX0EvD4wEHI/AAAAAAAAAMg/xFlRzNBpVpI/1300038832804.jpeg' onblur='try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}'&gt;&lt;img border='0' src='http://lh6.ggpht.com/_lr-ntVfv0x4/TX0EvD4wEHI/AAAAAAAAAMg/xFlRzNBpVpI/s288/1300038832804.jpeg' style='display:block; margin:0px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 192px; height: 288px;'/&gt;&lt;/a&gt;

Now I'm trying Bloggeroid. It gives me the option to format my fonts. But I can't view the images in my previous posts. That's not helpful if I want to check on how the image looks.

&lt;a href='http://lh6.ggpht.com/_lr-ntVfv0x4/TX0EoK-YREI/AAAAAAAAAMc/ZnsRMFZdjA0/1300038809339.jpeg' onblur='try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}'&gt;&lt;img border='0' src='http://lh6.ggpht.com/_lr-ntVfv0x4/TX0EoK-YREI/AAAAAAAAAMc/ZnsRMFZdjA0/s288/1300038809339.jpeg' style='display:block; margin:0px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 288px; height: 192px;'/&gt;&lt;/a&gt;

But it may give me the option of choosing where in a post an image appears.

testing

I'm testing blogging apps today. I posted yesterday's post via email. I liked it but I don't have the functionality in my email to format text. I hope to find an app that does. I also want to be able to add labels.
This is Blogger-Droid. It's simple. I think I can add tags. But I can't format text. Maybe that's available in the paid version? Edit: I can format text. Now I just need easy linking.
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Sourdough Party

I've been itching to make something and since I've given up sweets for Lent (..er...the ice cream cake that I had yesterday doesn't count. I was just being nice to my host...anyway), I can't bake any sweet treats.

I Googled a few sourdough starters. For the most part they are pretty similar, but time consuming and a little wasteful. Throw away half, add more. I just couldn't get with that no matter how inexpensive flour is. I kept searching for cheaper options.

I found one that was simply a small dough but I didn't understand the later process. (I'll add links later.) I had decided to try it but one last Google search led me to a relatively simple looking starter.

1T water
1T flour

That's the beginning away. I'll admit that the actual bread making process looks a little daunting but I figure that if my starter is good, I could probably use a simpler recipe.

I'll try to document each step here - nothing exciting but my blog is pretty dull anyway.

So let the sourdough party begin!

(Sidenote, since daylight savings time started, my start time is technically 3:30 am not 2:30. I forgot about DST when I was making the note).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent is here

For the past few days I have been trying to think of something to give up for Lent. I never usually give anything up but I like the idea. So what would it be?
Sex? Too easy. It's not happening right now.
Meat? Not in the mood. Gave it up for 30 days back in November.
Carbs? Too expensive. Gave carbs up for a 6 days last week and it didnt work out very well. I was at a conference and there was to eat were carbs. It was carbs or starve.
Sugar? Hmm...possibility. However, I really don't have that much sugary stuff. When I bake, I give it away.

However, my weight is concerning me so I thought I'd aim to give up sugar anyway. Get rid of any remaining sugar in my diet and try to be low carb as much as possible. Unfortunately, I have some very delicious cake balls at home. I will need to pretend that today is Fat Tuesday and gobble them all up. Then no more for 39 days. We'll see if I make it. Actually, it is more than 39 days since we don't count Sundays. Misleading!!! So no more sweet goodies until April 23. I'm going to a wedding on that day. I will be happily eating cake.

I will be breaking the fast at least one other time too. I will be making Easter buns for the first time. I have to taste them! And it's not like it's that much sugar, right? I could skip the sugary glaze. What was that? I need to find something else to give up? *grumble*

In other news, I am thinking about making some sourdough bread - even making my own starter. I think I will start it this weekend. I will take pics along the way.