Archive for December, 2010

Snowed In

December 11, 2010

We knew this would be coming.  The good part is that it’s a weekend, so not a lot of people have to be out on the roads.  The bad part is that it’s a weekend, so school will not be canceled (only an assumption based on all the other cancellations that have occurred).

The latest news says St. Paul got 13 inches, but that was over three hours ago, and it hasn’t stopped snowing.  Needless to say, we’ve been inside almost all day.

Basil and I did some extended napping/sleeping-in on the futon to start the day.

It’s been a long time since he would nap in that position…

Elizabeth did some shoveling outside because she wanted to do her share of the work.  All the paths she cleared have now been recovered, but when my turn comes the job will be half as much as it could have been.

While she was outside, Basil and I suited up so that we could meet her and investigate how much snow there really was.

Elizabeth and I had a lot of fun just jumping into knee-deep snow, but, for obvious reasons, it wasn’t quite as fun for Basil.

We were happy to get inside, and I was happy that we had just days before purchased some snow pants from the thrift store.  Elizabeth says they make me look Minnesotan.

We had planned to go grocery shopping today since we were out of meals, but that idea was now a nonstarter.  I soon realized that on a cold day without food on hand there was really only one thing to do: bake.

I previously blogged about my baking books by Peter Reinhart.  I put those aside because most of his breads require a 2-day process.  We needed bread for lunch!  I neglected other bread books I could have consulted and went straight to the Internet.

I settled upon these three recipes:
Oatmeal Whole Wheat Quick Bread
German Stollen
Vanilla Cupcakes

I don’t necessarily recommend any of them for serious bread adventures, but they sure did the trick so far for this snowy, cold day.  The oatmeal bread ended up looking like a mushroom!  I’m not used to working with baking powder or baking soda.

We’ll see how high the snow gets and whether we’ll make it to the grocery store tomorrow or not.  If not, I’m sure glad we’ve got so much flour in the house!



Thanksgiving Break

December 3, 2010

It was very nice to slow things down at home and spend more time with family after two marathon days/nights of conferences at school.

Instead of driving through the night to Kansas, which is what we did on our last road trip with Basil (to Chicago), we drove during the daytime and he did wonderfully.  I also stayed much more awake, which was a benefit.  As is our road trip routine, we found an interesting place to stop along the way.  Previously we had stopped to see a tree in the middle of the road.  This time we chose to see a similar site, but instead of an old tree in an intersection, it was an old cemetery (with a tree):

Note the cars driving around what is a functional roundabout with graves from the previous turn of the century.

On we drove to Kansas.  We all had a great time, but Elizabeth and I were most happy to see how much Basil got along with his Papou Sam and Yiayia Brooke.

He got to read books that his Yiayia read to me when I was a little tyke.

Basil enjoyed the Papou… and the cake.

He also took advantage of the warm weather and the big backyard

Which also included some nearby deer sightings:

Basil didn’t need binoculars, but the camera did.  They were easy to see with the naked eye in the nearby cornfield, but they scattered after Basil expressed his desire to go back inside rather loudly.

While in Kansas we visited Theotokos “Unexpected Joy” Orthodox Church in Ash Grove, MO.  It was a very small church but we had a great time with them (1.5 hour drive to this nearest Orthodox church).

Later during our visit we visited the nearby ruins of St. Aloysius Church, home to some ancient Kansas history…

We also visited nearby St. Paul, KS.  Here’s a photo comparison with our new hometown.

Post office:

Public Library:

City Hall:

Fire Department:

No wonder so many people confuse them!  St. Paul does have some nice vistas:

And with Minneapolis, KS, there is quite a competition with the Twin Cities!

(photo from a 2005 road trip)

After our wonderful visit in Kansas, we stopped to see a steam shovel in Missouri on our way home.  After having visited Big Brutus in Kansas and Big Muskie in Ohio, we had to see what was billed online as the “world’s largest coal shovel“: Big Mouth.

Here’s the comparison.

Big Brutus:

Big Muskie:

Big Mouth:

Can you say pathetic?  Like Big Muskie, the rest of the shovel was absent, which really makes Big Brutus the king in the end.

They even put a little shovel beside Big Mouth to make it look bigger:

At this site, however, Basil was fortunate enough to not only see his first real moving train,

but also to get up on one!

On the way home, Elizabeth made Basil a new hat:

Yiayia Brooke bought us two nice presents for my birthday:

The bread book is a sequel to a fantastic bread book Basil’s Nouno, John, bought me a long time ago:

This new book is about whole grain breads only.  We will probably start making 100% whole wheat breads from now on for health purposes – and because it will be the way to go after we get our grain mill, whenever that might happen…

The first recipe tried was for graham crackers, but we substituted water for milk to make them vegan.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend making that change, but they did taste good!

While they were baking, I practiced some Hank Williams songs on this old guitar I brought back from Kansas.  Papou Sam says it’s the guitar his dad used to play him lullabies, such as the Crawdad Song.

(Unfortunately I just broke a string)

That was intersession.  Now I’m a week into school again and after two more weeks it will be Christmas break.  We’re excited to be the hosts this time for Yiayia Brooke and Papou Sam, and I enjoy these breaks during a year-round schedule!