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P1010201The beginning of this week, our anniversary evening was cold and windy. The end of the week, today, is also cold and windy. While the temperatures both those days pale in comparison to the temperatures we had mid week, it is still pretty darn cold. Wednesday into Thursday here we had a low temperature without wind chill of -14 and with the wind chill of -30. Some places were checking in with even colder temperatures running closer to -20 without taking into account the wind chill. Definitely the weather to stay hunkered down in your fleece pjs or if you needed to venture out, your flannel lined jeans. Lots of eskimo looking folks wandering around like the stay put marshmallow man – yours truly included with them.

None of this though seems to hold a candle to the place reported by the Weather Channel as being the coldest recorded temperatures for an inhabited area on the earth. That distinction goes to Oymyakon, Russia where the average winter temperatures (average, okay?) are around -50. The coldest recorded temperature in the town was back in 1924 and registered -96 degrees. Here’s a link to the website which has some pretty amazing photos, especially of those Russian folks bundled to the hilt.

Stay warm.

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Today I made some ciabatta bread and rolls. Although the bread I usually make is a sourdough ciabatta recipe, this is a traditional ciabatta using a biga. This is the first time that I used a biga, since my other recipe just uses sourdough starter and no biga. I made the biga last night and let it sit as directed overnight. Mixed the dough this morning and decided to try both a loaf and rolls from the recipe which calls for either two loaves or 16 rolls.

Here is the recipe adapted from The Kitchn.com.


Biga

  • 4 ounce (1/2 cup) water
  • 1/2 teaspoon active-dry yeast
  • 5 ounce (1 cup) all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in water. Add the flour and stir to form a thick, gloppy paste. Stir approximately 50 times to activate gluten. Cover and let sit at room temperature eight hours or overnight.

Ciabatta

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 t. yeast
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (I added 4 1/2 cups since my dough was not binding together as indicated below)
  • 2 t. kosher salt

Dissolve the yeast in the water in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add biga and stir to break up the large glob it has become.

Add the flour and the salt. Stir and let this rest for 10-20 minutes.

Using a dough hook, knead at medium speed for 15-18 minutes. Keep a close eye on your mixer as it has a tendency to “walk” on the counter at this speed.
The dough will

The dough will start off sticking to the bottom and sides of the bowl. Around halfway through the mixing time, the dough should slightly pull away from the sides of the bowl, and regularly slap the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t, turn the mixer speed up a notch. (This is where I noticed that it was still real soupy and not binding together at all and I added another 1/2 cup of flour a little at a time. The dough is still very wet compared to bread dough you might be used to — this is okay and what it is supposed to be doing.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm spot until tripled in bulk.

Dust your work surface heavily with flour. Prepare two baking sheets each with a sheet of parchment. Scrape the dough out on the floured surface and dust the top with more flour. Use a pastry cutter to divide the dough into two if you are making loaves or 16 pieces if you are making rolls. I did half and half — did one loaf and 8 rolls.

Brush your hands with flour. Working gently but swiftly, scoop the the loaves (or the rolls) one at a time from the work surface to the parchment. Press your fingertips about halfway into the dough to dimple the surface and slightly flatten. Let the loaves (or rolls) rise, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes. When ready to bake, they should look pillowy with many big bubbles just beneath the surface.

Preheat the oven to 475°F while the loaves are rising. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven now.

When ready to bake, slide the loaves, still on the parchment, onto a pizza stone if you have one. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Rolls will most likely cook faster than the loaves if you made both like I did. Slip the parchment out from under the loaves or flip them over and cool completely before eating.

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Ciabatta rolls just before they went in the oven.


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Finished ciabatta rolls — fresh from the oven.

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I love stumbling around Stumbleupon. I haven’t had the time to do it in a while, however whenever I do manage to sneak a few idle minutes, I always manage to come across a site that catches my eye. Here’s a bit of advice posted on the site kangalex.com that was worthy of sharing.

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1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short not to enjoy it.

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for things that matter.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye… But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful.  Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It’s never too late to be happy.  But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words, ‘In five years, will this matter?’

27. Always choose Life.

28. Forgive but don’t forget.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give Time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d
grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you think you need.

42. The best is yet to come…

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

Photo Credit: Vermont Farmers Food Center

Photo Credit: Vermont Farmers Food Center

Today at the Farmer’s Market we were just about to walk out the door when I spotted it…the table selling seeds. (Must be my gardener’s instinct). Lots and lots of different kinds of seeds. When I walked over and spoke to the mom that was with the kids at this table I learned a lot and thought that I would share for a very good cause.

The table belongs to a group of Shrewsbury homeschool kids that are conducting a fundraiser for the Vermont Farmers Food Center (a/k/a The Farmer’s Market) selling Fedco seeds. These kids –Silas Hamilton, Seamus and Avery Martin, Cedelle and Emmett Sirjane, and Manolo Zelkin with the help of parents, Licia Gambino Hamilton and Martha Sirjane are hoping to raise $3,500 to donate to the Center.

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Since I’m not writing for the Rutland Express anymore (since they stopped publication) and I miss that ability to connect the cool things and people that I come across with people that might not know about them, I thought that I would post here about this group and their efforts in the hopes that folks in the area who plant their own seeds would take advantage of this fundraiser and help these kids with their goal. These kids are selling a variety of Fedco seeds (over 30 different types) to raise money for the Farmer’s Market to help with the work that remains to be done in and around the building and grounds. The kids have a table at the market and have set up and designed their own website http://seedsworthsowing.webs.com/ and Facebook page where they can be found at Seeds Worth Sowing. They’ve even hand stamped (in multi color, mind you) each and every one of their seed packets. Making a very delightful display as you can see.

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You can purchase your seeds in person at the Farmer’s Market, or you can order them by mail and you can pick up an order farm locally from Pierce’s Store or Mount Holly Library. You can also download an order form while in your pajamas from the comfort of your own living room from their website (for my very lazy friends).  If you mail in your order form, you can pick up your seeds from Pierce’s Store on March 21 from 3-6 p.m. or at the Mount Holly Library on March 24th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or at the Rutland Farmer’s Market on March 16th or April 6th from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For the charge of mailing ($1.95 to $15 = $3.95 shipping fee; $16 & up = $5.95 shipping fee) they will even be happy to mail your seeds to you so you can just walk to the mailbox for your seeds. So, friends of mine that are not in Vermont and want seeds, go to their website, download the form, mail it in with your payment and wait for your seeds to arrive via the postal service from our lovely little state of Vermont.

The group extended its original order deadline to March 31st — so I encourage you to take advantage of getting some good seeds to get that garden started and help out an industrious group of kids with their ambitious (and totally doable) goal of raising $3,500. After all, any of us that shop at the Farmer’s Market will benefit from their hard work in raising these funds.

 

While I enjoy taking pictures, one of my sons has an eye for it. He has “guest photographed” on my site a few times where he has gotten photo credit for his work from me. He has a gift and can compose things just right. My camera in his hands (which is nothing special) turns a ho-hum picture into something blog-worthy.

He just put up his own blog here at wordpress.com and I would ask that you check it out and give him your feedback. You can find him at http://tylerheffvt.wordpress.com/

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A few weeks ago, when I was picking up my veggies at the CSA, I saw a poster for local poultry. Turns out that it’s my fellow book clubber, Robin Gordon Taft and her husband Scott that are selling fresh chickens, ducks and turkeys. Yesterday we bought two fresh killed chickens from Pine Hollow Poultry in North Clarendon. We brought them home, one went into the freezer and the other we dutifully brined and set to rest in the fridge according to Scott’s directions. Tonight, we had some of the most delicious chicken we have had in a very, very long time. As we were savoring the chicken for dinner, we were discussing the broth that this would make tomorrow and how much we really liked their birds. I must admit that I immediately remembered my grandmother and how when I was little she and my grandfather would go and get fresh killed chicken. I remember sitting at the table watching her cut up the fresh chicken to freeze it or make it for dinner that night. This chicken not only tasted delicious but also brought back some very fond memories of growing up and my grandparents.

Nostalgia aside, I highly recommend checking out their website. Scott and Robin told us that they always have frozen birds for sale, but on Saturday, we ran into her at the farmer’s market and Robin said that Scott was butchering birds that day, so if we stopped by later, we could have fresh birds. They will be selling soon at the Rutland Farmer’s Market.

I think that I have an idea where our Thanksgiving turkey is going to be coming from…….

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I just wrote my article for next week’s Rutland County Express on the amazing work that the Conservation Commission and volunteers have done on the hiking trails throughout the park.

In order to do my job properly (with pictures and all) I had to stop there and hike around. It is so neat. Tim came with me and we especially liked the boardwalk and the really cool steps that they made leading from there onto the rest of the trail. Amazing to believe all the hard work to lug the lumber into the bog area to construct the 100 foot boardwalk. There are marked trails and lots of educational signs posted throughout with information on the local flora, fauna and creatures.

If you are in or near Wallingford — or if you come for a visit– head on over. Then you can always go swimming at Elfin Lake!

A word of warning though — the mosquitos are quite hungry, so bug protection is in order!

Thanks to the folks at the Wallingford Conservation Commission and the volunteers who made this all possible with their hard work!

 

 

 

 

I just saw this over at afreshwhisper.tumblr.com and thought immediately of my boys. They will want this, I must admit it is quite ingenious, especially the binder ring part.

Photo: afreshwhisper.tumblr.com

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to find a couple messages with questions about blogging and learn that my sister-in-law started her own blog. Her Blog, thoughtsofanotsocitygirldotcom is now online. I do hope that you all will welcome her with open arms and stop in often to say hello and encourage her along.

I remember how excited I was when I began to get comments from people that were not related to me (those strangers that I now call my friends) and every day (sometimes more than once) checked to see how other people reacted and responded to what I had written.  The input has always been welcome, encouraging, funny and sympathetic. You have made me laugh and smile when I’ve had a not-so-good-day and made me feel that what I had written was important enough for you to read. You have showed encouragement when I needed it and sympathy.

I hope that you extend the same generous spirit to Liliana and make her see how wonderful blogging can be.

Happy Sunday!

I hope that all of you readers out there of my blog will extend a warm welcome to Liliana and make her feel as welcome as I have felt.

Selin Jessa poster from positiveposters.com

I was about to head upstairs to bed when I found this….a good way to look at things. Artist Selin Jessa from Canada entered this into the Positive Posters contest on the topic of Perspectives. Her perspective is certainly something to keep in mind. The Description included really sums it up well:

Description:

Consider that technically, the glass is completely full – half of air and half of water. Just as you can perceive a glass of water in different ways, I think we need to take a moment and look at our lives from a different perspective – a more optimistic one. Our lives right now may seem too stressful, too hard or too busy but we can make every day better for ourselves and for one another. A positive, optimistic attitude is more than seeing the bright side of a situation, it’s believing in a brighter future.

Wonderfully stated Selin. A great outlook on life.

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Photo: Craftzine

I came across this and it is just so darn cool, I had to share.

Craftzine has a post on a completely knitted skeleton created by fiber artist, Ben Cuevas. If you go on over to his site you can see some of the finer detail of this work of art. Truly amazing stuff.

Photo: Craftzine (Ben Cuevas skeleton)

My hat totally goes off to him, ’cause you can ask Tom, the words that can come out of my mouth when I’m knitting socks can be pretty aweful, imagine knitting a whole human (skeleton)!

There’s this twitter feed that I subscribe to, Tiny Budda which is pretty darn awesome and I suggest that you check it out. Sometimes, it gives one inspiration for the day or just something neat to think about when you’re sitting there thinking about nothing in particular. Today on their blog, they list “25 Awesome Things that We Take for Granted”. I thought that I would share the list here since it gives you a pretty down-to-earth perspective on the little things that we all take for granted, which aren’t all that little at all really.

Personally, there are some days where #1 on this list is enough to be thankful for but if you need something else, #25 is pretty darn cool too.

  1. You woke up breathing. No matter what happens in the hours ahead, you can come back to your breath for a sense of peace and presence.
  2. You have the freedom to choose what you’ll do today, even if you have some limitations. Sometimes we take it for granted, but what we do on a daily basis truly is our choice.
  3. You had a bed to sleep in. Even if you didn’t get as much sleep as you’d like to, you had the opportunity to rest somewhere relatively peaceful.
  4. There isn’t a hurricane, tornado, typhoon or other natural disaster going on outside your door.
  5. You have the means to eat three meals today, even if one of them is Top Ramen (or spam and rice, as my boyfriend made on our first night in our new place).
  6. Your roof isn’t leaking copious amounts of water directly on your head.
  7. Your significant other is alive and healthy, albeit a loud snorer, an off-key shower singer, or a consistent maker of ridiculously strong coffee.
  8. Your shower works—with hot water—meaning you don’t have to go to work with bed-head or skin that smells like night sweat.
  9. If you don’t have work to go to, you have endless possibilities for your future. Right now might be a little uncomfortable, but your future is completely open, ready to be seized and enjoyed.
  10. The sun is shining, giving you all those feel-good brain chemicals (the sun actually increases serotonin production—it’s a natural mood lifter!)
  11. You don’t have Wicked Witch of the West syndrome, meaning that if it’s raining, you likely won’t melt.
  12. Your closet didn’t catch fire overnight, meaning you don’t have to go to work naked or fashion an outfit out of hefty bags.
  13. Your iPod works, so you can listen to your favorite tunes during your commute.
  14. If you don’t have an iPod, you probably have access to music somehow—radio, streaming music online, your mom’s old 8-tracks. Music is such a powerful mood lifter that we can access any time.
  15. If you drive, your favorite morning radio show is on and it’s so funny you almost don’t care about the gridlock traffic.
  16. As for that gridlock traffic, the fact that you’re in it means you have a working car.
  17. Your computer works, meaning you won’t need IT guys to come help you, disrupting your usual flow.
  18. You have a cell phone, even if it isn’t an iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry. (Mine is none of the above.) Even a bulky, old-school cell phone that can’t connect to the Internet can make life world’s easier.
  19. You have an office or workspace, even if it’s shared, meaning you can get things done relatively efficiently allowing for free time later this evening.
  20. If you’re like me and don’t have an office or workspace, you have the freedom to work wherever you want. Go work under a tree for a while—you can!
  21. You received some type of email that lets you know someone cares about you, even if it’s one of those chain emails your grandmother sends to the special people in her life.
  22. If you didn’t get one of those emails, you have the capacity to send one (mass-emailed or personalized) to make a meaningful difference in someone else’s day.
  23. You got a call or voicemail from someone you miss, giving you the opportunity for connection and even a little shared nostalgia.
  24. If you didn’t get that call, you have access to a phone, meaning you can make one. Any day you connect meaningfully with someone else has the potential to be a great day.
  25. Someone somewhere loves you, so no matter what happens in the day ahead, you’ll get through it with the support of people who care.

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https://tammyheff.wordpress.com
2016-2017.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Evilwife and Happenings on the Hill (http://tammyheff.wordpres.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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There have to be 5 things even on a really bad day.

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