About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am finishing up my midwifery apprenticeship and plan to be a real midwife early in 2014!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Writing Practice

Zachary just got his email set up on his computer that he got from Free Geek. He only just got the internet working on it, thanks to help from Dad. (Because God knows, I'm no good at that kind of stuff!) So we've been emailing back and forth, rather than shouting and waiting for kids to respond, which I think is a great thing! Here's the first email I sent him, and the response from him:

From: mamaelizabeth@earthlink.net
Subject: glad you're using email now!
Date: August 25, 2007 2:30:26 PM PDT
To: zacxxxx@earthlink.net

Because now I can communicate with you. Hey! Clean your room! Go to bed! You have to come to a dinner with us!

Just kidding. :-)

I love you,

From: zacxxxx@earthlink.net
Subject: NOT gladi'm using email now!
Date: August 25, 2007 2:33:53 PM PDT
To: mamaelizabeth@earthlink.net

becaus now you can bother me all day!

love zac

Monday, August 20, 2007

Elizabeth's Further Experimentation with Prosphora

Well, perhaps this should be in my cooking blog, but that's the breaks. Life doesn't compartmentalize neatly always.

I've been wanting to try out making whole wheat communion bread for years. But I haven't made prosphora at home in....I don't know how many years. A lot. Today I was making raisin bread--the first bread I've baked at home all summer! How did that happen? Anyway, I thought hey, I should whip up a prosphora as well! So I did.

The problems with it are all different from the problems I thought I'd have. I thought there would be problems with the crumb, with the texture, with the taste. It turns out the problems are 100% with the seal--it doesn't show up very well at all.

Here's how I tried it:
I used the same recipe as for white flour, just subbing whole wheat flour. I kneaded it probably a bit more than I would have for white flour, until it as nice and stretchy. And then here's where I deviated from the original: instead of putting it directly into the pan, I let it rise once in the bowl. After it rose and I poked it with a wet finger and it didn't rise back up right away, I shaped it--two balls, flatten one and put it in the pan. Flatten the other and seal it with the seal, then wet the first disk and put the sealed on on top. (This is a new technique I learned from another lady who was teaching prosphora at camp--I have before sealed both pieces together, or just as one piece.) Then I let it rise and baked it as usual.

The taste is pretty good! I can imagine that people who don't like whole wheat bread will certainly not like this. But I think it's pretty darn good--very flavorful for communion bread!

So, anyway, here's my recipe for communion bread (not perfected for the seal...)
3 to 4 cups whole wheat flour plus more for kneading (home-ground is the *best*)
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt

Place three cups flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon. Add the yeast to the warm water, stirring as you pour slowly to wet each grain. Make a well in the flour and pour the water into it. Mix just the center at first, combining well, then stir in the rest of the flour. If the dough is too sticky to knead, add more flour until you can knead it.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is stretchy and you can pull a piece into a paper-thin sheet without it tearing (or almost). Put back into the bowl and cover with a plate. (No oil in communion bread, please!)

After about an hour and a half, poke a wet finger into the center, up to the first knuckle, then pull it out. If the dough slowly rises back, it's not ready yet. If it just sits there it's ready. (If the dough sighs and deflates, you've let it rise too long!) Divide it in two, then form each into a disk. Put flour on the bottom of your pan--a cake pan works well, but so does a plain old cookie sheet. Again, no oil! Place one disk on the flour, then press the seal into the other disk--hard. Now, here's where I had trouble--the first time, the dough stuck like crazy and I had to wash it and re-do the disk. So then the seal was wet and I floured the top of the disk, and it came out okay then....though the seal still didn't show up very well. Cover and let rise until double, then bake in a 350 degree oven until done, maybe an hour? Thump the bottom with your thumb and if it sounds hollow, it's done. Hopefully your seal will turn out better than mine!

Prosphora has specific needs--it only contains these four ingreadients: flour, water, yeast, salt. No oil, no sweetener. So it can be a bit finicky. But I think we can figure this one out!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Book List

I don't know if any of my readers have noticed, so I thought I'd point it out, in case you're interested. I've added a list of books I'm either currently reading and enjoying or have read. Well, right now it's all books I've read already. I'm finding it a handy reference for myself--what books have I read this summer? I was asking myself yesterday. Our library is having, in addition to the children's summer reading program, an adult summer reading program! No cheapo little prizes, though--you get entered into a drawing for a getaway at a resort. Cool, huh? So I was trying to recall which 4 to 6 books (the requirement) I've read during the summer. I think the ones on my list that aren't dated I read before the summer started, so I didn't put those down. Then I added the ones I remembered to this list and put down dates I completed the book so I'll be able to remember. Eh, okay, it's mostly for me, but if you want books I'd recommend you can look at the list, or we can see if we read the same book.

Anyway, you can find my list at the bottom of the right hand column on my main blog.

Friday, August 17, 2007

But speaking of the environment...

Paul found this video which really boils down the issues on global warming. Watch and see if you reach some clarity.

NOT made in Sweden

I waited more than two weeks after the opening of IKEA in Portland to join the throngs of consumers, the ones wanting more furniture for less. Now, Paul has a real aversion to IKEA, because he hates crowds and he hates how IKEA herds you from one department to the next, forcing you to walk through the entire store. I felt herded as soon as I was approaching the area in my car. But we've managed to pick up several IKEA products over the years. I love our coffee table from IKEA--it was exactly what I was looking for at the time (and still use it)--a coffee table with six cubbies below the top surface, so each of us have a cubby to store things in the living room, plus two left over, which we use for library books. It's a good solid piece of furniture and I think it'll be with us for quite some time.

On Monday I went into IKEA with a specific item that I was looking for, which I've been searching for for quite a while. I want a big cabinet to serve as a pantry in the little alcove just outside my kitchen. There's a little space there, that right now has an old small cupboard. But there's enough room there for a 30 inch wide, 22 inch deep, and up to about 80 inches tall cabinet. I could really use a nice big space for kitchen storage. But they're kind of odd dimensions and I haven't found anything that was just what I wanted.

I didn't find it at IKEA either, though some things came close and I might have made do with one of those solutions. But then I looked at the tag, where it says something like "country of origen: IKEA chooses it's suppliers on the basis of who can supply us with our specialized furniture for the most economic price. Therefore each piece of furniture may contain components from many different countries of origin." In other words, don't bug us about exploitation--you can buy it for cheap! And didn't we already tell you it's environmentally correct enough that you can feel good about it? There was more info on how they supposedly didn't destroy the environment to make this item--really, you can go ahead and keep buying lots of stuff. It won't hurt anything!

I had an interesting conversation with a woman while visiting my parents in June. This woman was talking about how great it is that there are dollar stores and the like now, and Target and Walmart and lots of places to buy good clothes for cheap. How she buys lots of extra clothes for her grandkids so it's on hand when they're at her house, so if they get dirty they can just change into clean clothes. How it wasn't like that when her own children were small--you had to buy clothes at department store prices and you couldn't afford to have extras. I just couldn't resist--I often just stand there listening to these kinds of conversations, not saying what I'm thinking, but I spoke my mind this time. "But, did you ever think of where those clothes came from? Who made them? How much they could possibly be getting paid, when you are paying only a couple of dollars for an item of clothing?" And went on to talking about how people are exploited, because most of our clothing nowadays comes from China, where human rights are abominable (the food scares we've been having lately from food from China? Did you know they *executed* the person in charge of food safety?) and workers get paid next to nothing, certainly not enough to live a decent life. And I told her that a much better option, in my mind, is to buy from thrift stores and consignment stores, where you're just re-using someone else's exploitative clothing, instead of having new exploitative clothing made for you, and it's often even less expensive than Target or Walmart to buy thrift store clothing. But this woman didn't like the idea of her grandsons wearing something that's already been worn by someone else. Okay, I shut my mouth, but I didn't stop thinking, so she'd rather her grandson didn't wear something worn already, and have them wear something that someone else's blood, sweat and tears paid for.

What bothers me is that environmental issues are the issues du jour. Everyone is talking about them, with good reason. And I'm not saying to stop--I think we need more discussion on environmental issues. But when we speak of the environment and ignore the human suffering that is happening around the globe--and in our own United States--it is a lopsided concern. We cannot be whole until we look at all these issues together. It's a pet peeve I have with PETA--I am all for the ethical treatment of animals. I just wish they were concerned about the human animal as well as others in the animal kingdom.

So, I won't get my cool IKEA cabinet that I was hoping to find. But I'll be able to live with myself for awhile longer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Church Camp

We have our church camp this week, and it's been a good week. Paul and I have been going back and forth, because of things we need to take care of--him, church stuff, me, garden, hens, and our freaked-out cat. Last night we got a date out of it--we went to the new restaurant that serves New Mexico cuisine on Lombard, Encanto. It was delicious! Paul had a very different chili relleno, and I had an enchilada dish that included grilled zucchini. Yum!

Anyway, back to camp. We had a very difficult time convincing Hibi that she should try church camp again. Last year was very difficult for her. She was the new kid, among kids that had been going to church camp for years together. She was (still is!) the priest's kid. She homeschools. And she's just a different kid. Plus she had counselors that were....well, just immature, not ready to deal with these issues. They were just young and didn't know any better. This year she got (at the camp director's direction) two *awesome* counselors, Christina and Margaret. They are crazy wild! And they are treating Hibi with rock star status! Plus she has started to connect with some of the girls. Perhaps also due to these great counselors? Anyway, they were going to have her play her guitar at campfire last night (we missed it)--her favorite, Country Roads. I also informed Hibi that there was someone else there at camp who didn't grow up here and might not be in a tight clique that she has prior experience with....though she didn't remember him very well. It was a boy whose family was at the seminary with us. The two of them were seminary brats together. Hibi always wanted to be his friend but he was a whole year and two months older than she and just was too old for her, in his opinion! That age difference is big when you're 4 and 5. They have been getting to know each other again, and are doing some chanting together. And man, he was the whiz kid then, and he's still the whiz kid. He chants very well.

It seems Zac is having a good time, too. I can tell because I haven't had much contact with him. :-)

Photos are being uploaded every day from camp, courtesy of Jacob Gorny. I found one of Hibi, in the drum circle the first night (for the oldest group only! Boy was that a shock to find she's in the oldest group). I was hoping for pics of me helping make prosphora (communion bread) yesterday with the kids, but it's not there yet, anyway. Maybe one will still be uploaded. Not that I noticed Jacob taking any pictures of it, but I didn't notice him taking other pictures of me that I saw.

Speaking of prosphora. On Saturday night we were at the camp with the counselors, and the kids were due to arrive on Sunday afternoon. Paul was to serve liturgy for the counselors on Sunday morning. He'd brought all his stuff he'd need for the liturgy. Except for one crucial element--prosphora! We all tried to think what to do about it: was someone coming out that could pick it up from the church? Not very practical as we'd have to get someone out there to open it up and turn off alarms....could we make it there? We could, but we didn't have a seal. The seal is a wooden item with carved out symbols on it, so it leaves markings from the symbols on the bread. Each symbol represents someone we commemorate during the liturgy--the different classes of saints, Mary, etc. and the whole of the church. What we finally came up with: I made the bread, and Martha, who is an artist, carved out the symbols in the dough with a knife. It actually came out beautiful! Maybe even better than with a seal. How's that for making do with what you've got? I wish I'd had my camera along to take a picture of that beautiful prosphora.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Zac's New 'Do!

Zac had another big moment today! He got half of his life of hair cut off. Well, almost--he's been growing out this hair for more than 4 years, and he's 10 now. We all think he looks super snazzy!

Here's the before, during and after pics! (No, he doesn't have smallpox or anything...those are mosquito bites that he just can't leave alone.)

Celebrating at Mississippi Pizza afterward!

Zac and I will send in both of our ponytails to Locks of Love together (no, I haven't gotten around to doing that yet!). And I realized that I still haven't posted a picture of me since I got my 19 inch ponytail cut off. (Yeah, I measured it after, and it was 19 inches! Maybe a big more than I would have had to have cut off.....)

So here's me, though I never wear my hair down. I hate hair in my face.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Okay, maybe I'm culturally illiterate, but could anyone give me the definition of the phrase, "ripping me a new one"? Does it mean ripping a new hole in your body? Or what? Anyone? Liz?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Zachary, the reader!

This morning at 1:40 am, a momentous moment occurred. No, I wasn't awake for it either. But Zachary was. He finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to himself!

Zac is what's known as a late reader. He wanted to learn to read at ages 5, 6, 7. But the skills just weren't there. He asked me to help him learn and I tried, I really did. When I'd be teaching him to read CAT, he'd forget what C said by the time he got to A. He just really wasn't ready. I understood that, and I was quite sure that reading would eventually come for Zac, but boy, did he feel like a failure. He once asked me how old each of the other members of his family were when they learned how to read. Hibi? 4. Me? 5. Dad? Um, 3 years old! I hadn't wanted to share that info with him when he was so frustrated with himself but he asked me directly, and it made him feel even worse.

So, over the years I've read books to him because he really loves reading, but couldn't unlock that wonderful world by himself. I read Harry Potter, books one through six, to him and we all enjoyed them together.

Zac became fluent in reading sometime during the year that he was nine (though I don't have a magical time that I could say "he's reading!" like I did with Hibi) and we all rejoiced. He still hadn't read too much by himself, though--just a couple of Magic Treehouse books and parts of the Crispin books, when Harry Potter 7 was slated to come out. Paul said then, that he thought Zachary could read it to himself. I have to admit, I was skeptical! Plus, I enjoyed our reading marathons! But it was decided that we would buy two copies and each of the kids could read their own copy, and then when Hibi was done Paul and I could have our turns. They read in the car on our vacation, and on the day we got the book there was *no bickering.* What a great thing!

And it took Zac a couple of weeks, but he kept plugging away, and I even offered to read part of it to him (because I do miss reading Harry Potter to him!) but he said no.

Recently I read in the newspaper about a classroom filled with at-risk kids who can't read yet (at the tender ages of 6 and 7!) and I was heartbroken at reading about how they drill those kids over and over, to the point where they are so frustrated with themselves and still they have to keep drilling. I thought, that's not teaching those kids the love of reading. That's teaching them they are deficient and need a skill, no more than that. How about cozying up on a couch and just reading together? And when the skills come, they come.

Zac, even though frustrated with himself at times, never lost that joy of reading, that wonder at opening a book and finding a new world inside.

And that's why the world became a little more joyful at 1:40 this morning.