Archive for April, 2011

The Easter Bunny was here! 🙂

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No books this year, but we did get “Tangled” and a travel version of Pictionary, so we were pretty happy. It’s as though the Easter Bunny could read our minds 🙂

Yesterday I had decided I wasn’t going to bake anything for Easter. It was going to be a lot of work and I knew Anson and I wouldn’t be up to eating all of the goodies. No big deal, right? Well, yesterday I was talking to my mom and told her I wasn’t baking anything this year. The response I got was: “Oh, but I was looking forward to reading your post about baking hot cross buns!”

So, here it is (because my mom asked for it):

I started out the same way I do every time I’m about to bake something new—I looked up as many different recipes as I could find. After finding 3 different recipes that I liked, I decided to combine them to make some super-mega-awesome hot cross buns.

The recipe I chose for the basic dough was pretty simple. And I chose it because it let me use my breadmaker. Don’t get me wrong, I like doing things by hand, but any time I can avoid spreading flour all over the counter is a bonus. So, I dump all of the ingredients into the machine and press “dough.” Done.

1 hour later, it beeped and I added the chocolate chips. 30 minutes after that it beeped again to signal the dough was ready. I went over and opened the lid. It was at this point that I realized things had gone terribly wrong.

I put my hand in to try to make a ball out of the dough and all I got was a wet hand. I mean, it was a chocolate-y, flour-y, yeast-y soup. Ewww.  So, that batch went in the trash.

Here is what I determined to be my 2 major mistakes:

1. I put the ingredients in the breadmaker in the wrong order. Breadmakers want you to either put in the dry ingredients first OR the wet ingredients. It depends on the breadmaker. The recipe asked me to put the dry ingredients in first and, since it had been a while since I had used my machine, I didn’t remember that mine needs the wet ingredients first. It all came back to me when I let my hand get slimed by the chocolate disaster that was my first attempt.

2. It is clearly a bad, bad idea to put the chocolate chips in while the dough is rising. They just melt and make it ultra-gooey.

Take 2.

This time I put all of the wet ingredients in first, dry second. When the breadmaker was done with the dough, I opened it up and happily discovered I had real dough. Yay!

From my second recipe, I took the idea of making it a pull-apart bread instead of making individual buns. So, I greased a pan and started to make dough balls. Before pinching the bottom of the dough together to make a ball, I would put in a bunch of chocolate chips. So, somewhere near the center of each roll would be a chocolate bite. Mmmm 🙂

After they were all shaped and in the pan, I let them sit to allow the dough to finish rising and then put them in the oven to bake. While they were baking, I made a glaze (3rd recipe) and an icing (2nd recipe). Some people have unforgivable ideas about what is allowed to be called “icing.” To the lady who wrote the recipe that told the baker to make the icing out of flour and water, I feel the need to inform you that that is PASTE, not icing!

Ding! They’re done! Out of the oven, I put the vanilla glaze on and then let them cool a bit. Afterwards, I drizzle some icing in the shape of crosses. And voila! Hot cross buns! Super awesome, vanilla glazed, chocolate filled, and iced!

Mmmm….tastes like Easter 🙂

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Dear Ms. Rachel A Horton,
Congratulations! The UW College of Education faculty has recommended you to the Dean of the Graduate School for admission into the PhD program in the entering class of Autumn 2011 for the following program: Severe Disabilities. You will soon receive a letter confirming your admission from the Dean of the Graduate School.
There were many strong prospective students this year, but your application was among those the faculty found especially attractive. We know that you will make many excellent contributions to academic discourse, community, and scholarship at the University of Washington’s College of Education. We are consistently ranked in the top colleges of education by the U.S. News and World Report, largely because of the quality of our faculty and students. As a student here, you will gain exposure to our programs, centers, and faculty as well as the knowledge and skills you’ll need to influence excellence and equity in education.
Professor Carol Davis has agreed to serve as your graduate faculty advisor.  You can  feel free to contact your advisor by e-mail or telephone. You can obtain contact information for Professor Davis at this link: http://education.washington.edu/faculty.
During the summer, you will receive detailed information about orientation activities that will help you prepare for your studies. At the end of this e-mail, you will find links to UW and College of Education information and resources that may be of use to you as an admitted prospective student. If you have applied for financial aid, scholarships, or fellowships, information about your status will be sent to you in the near future.
We hope you choose the University of Washington as the place to embark upon the next stages of your professional development.  You’ll encounter a rigorous academic environment energized by a dedication to creating brighter futures for all – both learners and educators. We take pride in our innovative programs, world-class research centers, and strong community partnerships. And our internationally recognized faculty and researchers are working across campus, in local schools, and with other universities to explore and address issues affecting learning and education.
On behalf of the College of Education and the University, I want to congratulate you on this achievement. If you have any questions, please feel free to call upon my office for assistance.
Sincerely,
Martin T. Howell

Assistant Dean for Academic and Student Affairs

It feels like things have been busy the past few weeks. I say “feels like” because I’m not actually sure it was—but I’m tired enough for it to have been!

I started jogging a few weeks ago, which I’m sure has added to my general tiredness.  I don’t mind jogging, I just find it SO boring.  I’ve been working on making some good jogging playlists on my zune. Any suggestions for songs? 

At the moment, I’m gearing up for Easter.  The bell choir played 2 songs at Palm Sunday service and I think we’re only playing 1 at Easter service (phew!).  These songs were pretty challenging, so it’s exciting to get to perform them and then relax and know we don’t have to play them again (at least, for a while).

I’m considering baking for Easter.  At first, I thought I would attempt kolaches, but I was worried I would be too tempted to eat a bunch of them. They’re so yummy! So, I’m leaning towards hot cross buns.  I’ve gotten suggestions to make them plain or with chocolate chips (to avoid using raisins—eww!).  I think I might try making them both ways.  I’m sure they’ll both taste good. I’ll probably bring them with me to church on Sunday and let the bell choir tell me which are better 🙂

I have determined that nothing makes you feel old quite like struggling to do something that used to be easy for you.  Case in point—I’ve been jogging 30 minutes 4 or 5 days a week. Every single time I stumble away from the treadmill, scrambling to catch my breath, beet-red and exhausted, I think to myself “I used to run a 7 minute mile in high school with no problems.”  I’m slowly getting faster (yay me!), but still nowhere near where I used to be.  And my body does not recover as quickly either.   I guess I should just be happy I’m making progress, right?  According to Anson, I am now going fast enough to survive in “The Long Walk” by Richard Bachman (read “Stephen King”). Love that story, so it gives me hope. Plus, it always makes me smile when Anson says something clever and I get it  🙂