Pure Existence

HEAVEN is all I can say this bread is! I saw a picture of it and thought “interesting, I want to make a braid bread” other than that I had no idea what it was. Well I looked into it a little like I do most new recipes I want to make. It is a jewish sweet bread that they eat at special times. It can be plain, have poppy seeds on it, or raisins in it. Well I made a plain one to start, and here is the best recipe I found!

3/4 Cup milk
2 eggs (one additional if you are making a eggwash to brush on bread)
3 tbls margarine or butter
3c bread flour ( you can use all-purpose)
1/4 c white sugar, you can add 1-2 more tablespoons to make it a little sweeter like I do!
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

I again use my bread maker to mix this. I put the ingredients in according to the bread machine directions. My machine allows it to rise 2 times. I take it out and punch it down to get all the air out. Then we cut the dough into 3 equal sections.

With flour on our hands were going to roll the dough sections into logs…now after you get a log, make the very ends more flat and pulled out. You do this by applying pressure only to the ends and push outward a little ONLY ON THE VERY ENDS. This helps to pinch the ends together in the breading phase.
Now were going to braid!!
Pinch the pinched ends tother at one end.
Now were going to bring the outside left over the middle.
(I took a second break to play peek-a-boo with my son who loves to be in the kitchen with me when I bake)
Follwed by the outside right over the middle, and continue that way done to the ends! Which we then pinch those ends together as well! Tuck the pinched ends under the loaf and place on a pan rubbed with butter.
Let rise about 30-45 mins.
Brush with eggwash.
Put it in the oven on 350 for 20-30 mins until nice and golden!
The kids love this step, the smell and watching it rise!
Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy!!
To help me know how to bread the bread I went on you tube and watched Karen from expert village show me how to braid the bread!
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Homemade French Bread

Everyone LOVES bread, and if they don’t, then they should! Im obsessed with bread! I found myself buying a $2 loaf of bread from the bakery at my Price chopper about 3 times a week! A WEEK! I realized that is $6 a week, $24 a month! And what was there was what I had to choose from, hard or burnt that was what I could get! Well, for less than a dollar, around 80 cents, you can easily make your own HOMEMADE bread, and get the satisfaction of making it yourself and saving money!

  • 2 tbsp Active Dry yeast.
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp. salt (can substitute garlic salt)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 5 cups flour , Bread flour is best, but you can use all-purpose.
  • 1 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or substitute butter or margarine)
I use a bread maker to mix my ingredients. I just add all the ingredients  EXCEPT THE CORNMEAL, according to the directions of my maker. My machine mixes, allows it to rise, punches it down, and then allows it to rise again.
I take the dough out and put it on a WEll floured surface to prepare to roll it out and make the loaves!
I first cut the dough in half, and then roll out the dough into a rectangle about 8×10
I then roll the dough to make a long log, Tuck the ends of the logs under the loaf.
I use lowfat butter to prepare the pan for baking buy just rubbing it onto the pan, now we sprinkle cornmeal onto the buttered pans.
and place the dough loaves onto the pan for the final rise.
Cover the loaves with a moist tea-towel or with Suran wrap or foil to keep from drying out! Place in a warm place for 45 min to rise and double in size!
Cut 3 or 4 SHALLOW slits in the breads about a inch apart.
Break a egg into a bowl and add a splash of water to it (about a tsp), and glaze the bread tops.
Place in the Pre-heated oven at 375 for about 20 mins. Or until desired brownness.
And shabam! Yummy easy homemade bread, you can make with the kids!
Just add a meal and you have the perfect dinner bread to go along with it!
Once you have the basics down you can make tons of breads, we love to make rosemary bread to go with a whole chicken dinner, were attempting tomato basil bread next! STAY TUNED

May 2, 2011 will always be a celebrated day in my family. For that day brought my second child, my second son, Declan James! It was quite the adventure up until that point, and then even after. My first pregnancy was very very simple, not a blimp of difference from allowing it to be categorized as “a boring normal pregnancy” The labor was very very calm compared to what I thought it would be, I felt very in control of everything. Sebastian was too easy from pregnancy to labor, to being a infant. Declan, however, would make up for that.
I started contractions at about midnight on May 2. When I realized I could not sleep through them and they were coming every 10 mins I was starting to keep track. I went to the bathroom at about 5 am when contractions were every 7 mins apart. I had some light spotting. I thought that couldn’t be right. My midwife had just told me at about 7pm the night before that my cervix wasn’t favorable to induce me. Now here I was having a mind battle if this was happening. I decided to call my midwife. She told me she would be on her way to me. …. OH did I mention I was 39 weeks pregnant, with mild preeclampsia and have been on bed rest for the past 2 weeks…and I was about to have my FIRST homebirth?
I woke my husband after I showered and told him Kelly was on her way! We sat in our sitting room, completely comfortable, listening to music and just chatting. I did my make up, ate some toast, my husband ate. Sebastian was still asleep in our bed. Already this was starting off to a amazing birth experience, no running around gathering things and forgetting some I would later need. No waking up my son frantically and wonder what to do with him, no cramping into a car for a drive being in a uncomfortable position to get through contractions. I just sat in the comfort of my home, with freedom to walk around my home or to eat when I was hungry.
My midwife and mother-in-law were on their way. I cannot remember who arrived first…just that my midwife walked through the door and I was ready to get things going! Well, of course my contractions slowed. So we waited for a little bit. My midwife played with my son, my mother-in-law ordered pizza, we all shared stories that made me laugh so hard my contractions would tinge back for a second. I think that was planned. lol. It was like a girls get together!  But eventually I was exhausted and needed a nap, so my midwife and her assistant tucked me in my bed after checking to see how far along we were, and doing a little tugging to keep things going.

I awoke to giggles and girl talk, my son playing. We waited a little bit and then decided breaking my water would be best…..and 30 mins later came some good old contractions…and then the ones that made me think “oh my this is what labor feels like” At about 5pm Declan James came into this world. I was relieved to have that horrid pain over with, (this time around I felt the pain I had expected labor to be like), the pregnancy that brought on arthritis, and preeclampsia, and bed rest. Declan had sure made me know who was in control. And wouldn’t you know it…even after he was born he still kept us on our toes. My first words when I saw him “hes so small is that ok?’ My first child was 9lbs 6.5oz..Declan was 5lbs 14oz..due to the high blood pressure. As he sat on my chest and my midwife was toweling him off his color started to not look so good. He wasnt crying and it didnt take me long to realize that he was turning very blue! Like it was without a thought, my midwife told her assistant to hand her the bulb, and she tried to squeegy out anything that might be keeping him from breathing. It made him make a tiny little noise, but he still wasnt breathing. I just layed in the pool, with my midwife hovering over me, she too was standing in the pool, my son on my chest and she grabbed a different clear tube device that goes down their throat….not sure what that was, but she did that and he again did a little noise, but still nothing….I just stared into my midwifes face looking for a sign that she was getting worried..she was very poised. Just about a minute and a half passed when finally, my midwife just breathed her own breath right into him….and put some oxygen on him for a couple of seconds…and he CRIED! I remember not being too worried because my midwife didnt look too worried, and just thinking why is he doing this. A weird thought I know, but after everything I was like Declan just wont let up! I was relieved to hear him cry and that the whole time he was laying on my chest, and I could see that he was ok, and I could talk to him while my midwife did what most of america claims cant be done at a homebirth.

I eventually was moved to my bed from the pool. I got to spend time with my family in our own home, and shower in my own shower. I didn’t have to spend the night away from my son, or husband. We all slept in my bed together the first night as a family of four. My house was cleaned up and the next day you couldn’t even tell that my living room was the location of a birth.

Today just 3 weeks later, Declan is doing great. He was slow at gaining weight, which was another bit of a scare for me, but he is growing. I have the beautiful memory of my homebirth still, and I am so grateful for finding a midwife who is as amazing as mine to attend my homebirth.

I came across a blog today. It was about a book, The giver, I have never read this book, but the person shared what the basis of it was. About conforming, and if you had the option to show people other ways of living would you, or just keep them blind. There was then a discussion forum. It really made me think…..

I think we already live in a world very close to that. I think alot of people are extreme conformists! But the silly thing is that they once changed from what was the normal to what we do today, and are afraid to go back. The world then uses tv to scare them not to change, or magazines. In my example….homebirths. A woman used to birth in their home with the village around her for support, and a midwife. The village would then bring her dinners and help her through her healing. However, now we all know the hospital is considered the normal, and most wont even open their mind and close their mouth long enough to even consider. How did we ever steer away in the first place? On top of that, the rise in homebirths has caused a stir. There was a article that someone dear to me called me worried about. A homebirth in which a mom developed a infection and ended up getting limbs amputated. While I listened, and assured them I was no more worried than if I did a hospital birth, I snickered. Nosocomial infections…most of us know of, and its even taught in nursing school, are common! And some with the same or worse or not as bad outcomes. So right next to that could be a million articles about the same things happening in the hospitals! Its all about marketing. And when there is a trend happening that is starting to worry people trying to keep things the conformed way they have become, they pull out anything to try and scare people back into their pen. Just like the Hillary Duff episode of Law & Order. They used a celebrity, in which most new moms today grew up watching, to draw attention to the episode, took a truly tragic real life story and twisted it around to scare people about vaccinations. But the child in the story who “spread” the measels could have been a vaccinated child as well! Its all pretty silly. Dear god people, if you take one thing from me…don’t conform, educate. Do what you want, know your options, and know the real, full truth about everything! Make informed choices, not just the ones a pediatrician said was right, because they grew up the same way. Look into things yourself and then decide.

I was parked outside of a laundromat waiting on my husband to come out of the local Stewarts with some milk and juice. I was looking around and noticed a man, not in too good of shape, but not too bad either. He walked up to the garbage opened it and peeked in. He pulled out a brown bag looked inside and, “click click click”, I locked my doors. He didn’t find any food in the bag so he just put it back in and sat at the bench. I watched him for a second to see what he was going to do. Nothing…just sat there. Well it was about 6pm. I knew the second my husband came out of the store with our beverages, the man would approach him for money. Sure enough he did. However, we don’t carry cash, nor do we have much to spare, we are a single income family who have to budget wisely, in which with my chocolate cravings and gas prices has not been so easy lately! I unlocked the door for my husband to put his beverages down and he went inside to grab our laundry. We didn’t say a word. When he came back I asked him “did he ask you for money?” and he replied yes of course. I told him hes probably just hungry. We sat there for a second. My husband reached in his bag and grabbed out a 1/2 gallon of his apple juice and got out of the car. I watched him walk over to the man and hand it to him. It then occurred to me that we hesitated at first. We almost didn’t care! I even locked my doors. I think that is where the problem is at. Now don’t get me wrong everyone has their own lives, but too many people would look at that man and just not care. They would rather pass judgement on them “go get a job” or “how did you end up this way anyway” or “they probably would buy beer”. I too have had these thoughts before. However, we don’t know his story. He could have had a job, a home, food, but he might have lost it and then everything else. He could not even like alcohol. He is probably wishing he had a job. A person would rather walk by and ignore him, not care that he might be going hungry for the third day in a row. I wish I had atleast a dollar to hand this man. Just FOUR quarters! But I had just put mine in the washing machine. When we drove away I felt like I should have done more, I wish I could have done more. I was so proud that my husband went back over to him and gave him some of what we had, without saying anything mean to the man, just wishing him luck. We need more people to care. If you think about it, how many times have you spent tons of money on pointless things? So passing a buck to this person would probably feel better than buying that cheeseburger that your not even hungry for, but are just bored and figured you’d eat something. I have decided to try and always have a dollar on me….in any way, bill or change, help is help, and if you reached out for it, you would hope someone would care too.

I layed in the bottom of my bathtub trying to fit the both of us comfortably. The only way was quite ironic, I found myself leaned back with my knees up…for those of you who cant picture what Im saying…I was in the basic lying down position that most associate with labor. I giggled to myself, and I think the baby understood we were having a moment as it traced its little leg across my stomach. I am just about 4 weeks away from D-Day. Delivery day 🙂 I, like anyone else, am nervous, excited, anxious…and all the feelings that go along with it, even though I have already had a child, no two births or babies are alike. I have fear again about the “unknown” of how this one will feel, how this one will go. I refuse to believe it will be the same, however I do have hopes it will follow very closely. My son was quite a simple birth, not too much pain, still enough to make me think if this was a all day affair no way could I do this naturally. I even said to my midwife at one point that “I couldn’t do this”..In the sense of all day! Her reply was “Honey your already doing it” She then would squeeze back onto my hand while I squeezed hers to get through the next contraction. I was in a tub then as well… About 2 1/2 hours after I arrived at the hospital, in a sense of “really..already time to push” I was pushing out my son. I remember only being on the bed for about 30 mins or so and he was being lifted on to my chest. All 9lbs 6.5 oz of him. It was a amazing day. My favorite, I turned to my husband instantly who was standing by my head staring in awe and amazement and I just simply said “I love you!” So today, as I layed in my own tub, rubbing my watermelon belly with the shower raining down on us, I thought of that day. I was trying to picture what it would look like the exact moment I lift my baby out of the water and pull them close to my chest. I reflected on how Sebastian looked, of course gray, with big eyes and a nice size head. Little nose, little arms, and I put my hand right over his little butt and just held him close. I will get to feel that all again soon. I don’t know if it was hormones but at that moment I had to sing, I sang to my new little bean “silent night” I always found it comforting and use it to sing to my son when he’s being fussy about nap time. I got choked up. I for one don’t have a good voice, but it was even soothing to me to be singing that song and hearing it along with the patter of the water on my skin, the kicking and stretching of the baby that layed nuzzled close to my heart in my belly, and it just made me feel ready. I wanted to meet this baby right then. I wanted to hold them in my arms and kiss their little forehead. I imagined what Sebs face would be when he gets to finally see the baby that over the past few months has taken so much of my lap room! As I sat there in my haze of past and future, I realized that its going to be two completely different experiences. For one my son I gave birth to in a hospital, and ultimately delivered on the bed. This baby is going to be my first homebirth, and will most likely be a waterbirth. However, I realized that the feelings I had going into my first birth I still have for this one as well, and I most likely will have the same feeling of unbelievability, accomplishment, happyness, love, closeness and all the emotions that come with giving birth. It then struck me, that in just 4 short weeks that previously seemed forever away, I will be reflecting back again, at that moment when baby number 2 entered this world. And then again at each birthday party, I will reflect. I then got out of the tub, and walked past my mirror and stopped and stared at the reflection in it and smiled. Who knew that a simple bathroom could be the portal to your inner thoughts and feelings, and ironically on my walk out it reminded me with that reflection of my own face, to come back anytime I want to reflect.

I don’t really think people understand. I am so serious when I say “My husband makes me a better person”. Just tonight we were laying in bed and we talked about how our little peanut is like a jack. He likes to lay between us in bed and slowly throughout the night will turn sideways and spread out pushing us further apart. We had a giggle together at the thought of how this little person takes up the WHOLE bed. He then goes, “its your fault” Not that we mind in the least that he sleeps in our bed, we actually go get him out of his bed and make him sleep with us sometimes, because as much of a comfort it is for him, it is for us as well. But I had to correct my husband. The truth is, its his fault. Sebastian is used to sleeping with us due to the fact that the first straight year of his life he slept in our bed with us. I nursed him, and never forced him to night ween so even at night he would still nurse. So naturally its his comfort zone to still come in our bed and snuggle with his mom the same way he did all his life.

                So where am I going with this? I look at the way I do things now, and the person I am, the mom I have become, and I smile, because if it weren’t Cody standing beside me, I would not even think to nurse, to be more natural in life’s experiences. I talk to people all the time who ask me where I’m delivering my baby…I tell them at home. Almost every response is “aren’t you scared, I would be.” So I in turn ask them, well where are you delivering, and I get the usual response of some hospital with some doctor or midwife that they chose to go to that worked at that hospital. Well, in my experience, its not the four walls around you who is going to encourage you, hold your hand (not that most doctors care to either), and ultimately put your baby on your chest and congratulate you! Its the midwife, or whom ever you decide to catch your baby. My trust is in my amazing midwife Kelly McDermott. Whether I delivered home, hospital, car, or god forbid on the ground outside, I fully trust her. I delivered my son at a hospital, and the hospital aspect is what made it less of a experience for me, but the hospital was chosen based on my midwife, and where she delivered. Now my midwife does home births, which is like heaven to my ears. Who doesn’t want to be in their own comfortable bed, with their own yummy food, and be able to say when visiting hours are over? With the added bonus of not having some person come and tell you that its time for your baby to do this and that, and then they cart them away, and act annoyed when you tag along! The other phrase that floors me is “are you using the drugs?” or “oh yeah I’m deff getting the drugs” …what…that phrase gets me everytime. Now why on earth would someone not see something wrong with that. It honestly makes me feel like some pot dealer will be in the room with me, or some sketchy person with a coat full of “the hook up”. Its just odd sounding. But if my husband never said he didn’t want me to take any, I probably would have done what alot of people do,
 birth = epidural. They don’t even know if its going to be too much for them, they just assume from everyone else its going to be needed. I hate when people right off tell a new mom “your going to want the epidural” or “drugs are your friend”…Everyone is different, most people who get the epidural out of fear, or used to hearing everyone else got it, probably could have done it without. I have a very small pain threshold, I’ve never had stitches, broke a bone, or anything serious…a paper cut and I cry for days about it. I didn’t take the “drugs” and my son was a hefty guy and I’m only 5’2 pushing out a big headed 9lb 6.5 oz first timer baby! I felt so powerful doing this, I’m proud of that. It goes in the book of my life accomplishments!

              However, if it weren’t for Cody, I probably would fall victim to the same routine as everyone else, without even a thought weather there were other options. I would not even think to breastfeed, I would just assume formula was what was best for us, and not even look into anything else. I would have forced my baby into a crib at a early age, because its what everyone else does, they don’t co-sleep. I would just shove this and that into my son, just because its what goes on around me, cause it would be all I know. I will say this alot…EDUCATION is the key. It really is. I listen and absorb a lot that goes on around me, I spend days googling and reading articles and watching clips on all sorts of different things. It helps me make better choices for myself and my family and what does work for us. Cody grew up very different from me..when I think of his life its like something out of like Little house, or some old movie. At first, I thought his family and their ways of doing things was weird. I now find myself doing a lot…not all…but a lot of the things that I once looked at as odd. They were very natural, bought odd pure ingredients, and used more natural approach to health care. Holistic is the word.  Not everything works for everyone, but I’m so glad that I ended up with my husband because I feel like I care more about things that some people don’t even second guess if that would be what they would choose if they knew a different route to take. I think of life as a gps…sometimes it shows me routes I never knew about, and other times I see which routes its takes to get to a destination I already know how to get to, just to see if it works better, or is faster. Or  I take the route I know would work better for me. We can hear advice, but we don’t always have to take it, but we should atleast consider it, because maybe its something we would prefer.

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My Perspective