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Friday, November 30, 2012

Remembering Mombasa Skies







A very short video clip. I uploaded it for the sound of waves.


Joining the wonderful meme, Skywatch  today.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Oatmeal - Molasses Bread

After I cleaned out one of my closets the other day, I felt like making some bread. I used this recipe for some healthy oat bread. I used 4 cups of whole wheat flour, rather than the 3 cups white flour + 1 cup whole wheat called for in the recipe.  I also skipped the topping because I like to keep my egg usage to a minimum.

Baking With Whole Wheat Flour - After I baked my bread, I read on line that if you want to keep your bread 100% whole wheat you should use vital wheat gluten so that your loaves are not dense and flat.  Vital wheat gluten is super-concentrated gluten flour, and it really helps to give low-gluten doughs better structure. Add one tablespoon of vital wheat gluten for every 2-3 cups of flour in your recipe.

While I was kneading my whole wheat flour dough I did notice that the dough felt very hard. To make softer loaves, try letting the dough rest for about 20 minutes before kneading. This will give the flour time to absorb the water and soften the grains of whole wheat. There are some other ingredients that can be added to any recipe that also help make a softer texture: potato flakes (1/4 - 1/2 cup), honey (2-4 tablespoons), milk (replace some of the water), and butter (2-4 tablespoons) (all amounts are for a recipe making 2 loaves). [Source: www.thekitchn.com]

In my case, I didn't add any gluten and I did find the dough a little hard when kneading. In the end it turned out just fine and there was no compromise in the moistness or softness of the bread. I guess i got lucky since I didn't know any better *wink.

After the bread was baked I brushed some butter on the tops and laid the loaves on their sides to cool. This bread was very moist inside and the crust was not too hard or soft. It had just the right crunch.

  • Portion size: 2 loaves, 12 slices each

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) boiling water
  • 3/4 cups (175 mL) large-flake rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) fancy molasses
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) warm water
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) active dry yeast
  • 3 cups (750 mL) all purpose flour, (approx)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) whole wheat flour
  • 1-3/4 tsp (9 mL) salt
  • Topping
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) large-flake rolled oats

Preparation

In heat proof bowl, stir the first two ingredients together (boiling water with rolled oats) and let stand for about 15 minutes until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. When the rolled oats are absorbed stir in the molasses, butter and egg.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water and sprinkle in yeast.  Let stand until it is frothy (about 10 minutes).  Stir in oat mixture then add 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) of the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour and salt to form sticky dough.

Turn the mixture out onto floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding as much of the remaining flour as necessary. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough; divide in half. On floured surface, pat each half into 11- x 8-inch (28 x 20 cm) rectangle. Starting at narrow end, roll up into cylinder; pinch edge to seal. Fit into 2 greased 8- x 4-inch (1.5 L) loaf pans. (Or shape each into round, stretching and pinching dough underneath to smooth top.) Cover with tea towel; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Topping: Brush loaves with egg; sprinkle with oats. Bake in centre of 375°F (190°C) oven until loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottoms, about 40 minutes. Let cool on racks.
Additional information : Bread Machine Variation for Dough Only:
Into pan of 2 lb (1 kg) bread machine, place (in order) molasses mixture, 1/2 cup (125 mL) water, sugar, salt, all of the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour and 1-1/4 tsp (6 mL) bread machine yeast. Select dough setting. Shape and bake as above.

Source : Canadian Living Magazine: February 2007

My decluttering project has been going very well. I don't think I've ever worked so hard for several straight days since I moved into my condo. In the last few days I've cleaned almost every nook and cranny in the apartment as I eliminated things. When you move things from dark corners and shift things around, it gives you an opportunity to spot clean and deep clean wherever necessary.  Much harder to do when you live in a small space and are just living your day-to-day life.

I continue with a bit of shopping and paperwork before I attend a few personal appointments, put up my Christmas decorations and attend a few Christmas parties.

I hope all of you are enjoying your lead up to Christmas.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Going, Going, Gone!

"When you have cleared all of your clutter,
you can be of greater service to those around you. "
Michael B. Kitson 

  "The more you have, the more you are occupied.
The less you have, the more free you are."
Mother Teresa


Hello dear friends, 

Decluttering may not be the most exciting activity but it is certainly an uplifting one.  I have managed to put together a huge bag of shoes, 3 large garbage bags of clothing and 2 medium size bags of magazines/books. These were all picked up by 1 person after posting an ad on the website for my local Freecycle chapter.  Within 2 and a half hours after posting on Sunday evening, I had my first response and she offered to take the entire lot. Starting at 6 a.m. the next morning I had 5 more takers.  This was great because it meant I had back up takers in case the first woman changed her mind.

I gladly give to the Goodwill but since I shop at the thrift stores myself, I often feel my local thrift stores charge way too much money.  It is getting rather ridiculous some of the prices they now ask which are often higher than purchasing brand new in a retail shop. For example, at one local thrift store today they wanted $16.00 for a small used, good condition Corningware roasting pan. Last night, on line, I found the same roasting pan as part of an 8 piece (4 different pots with lids) brand new, for $44. 95. If you do the math you can see that one set would cost under $12. a piece; clearly less than the used item. You can see what I mean by ridiculous prices. I digress but what I'm really trying to show is that the thrift stores in many cases do ask more than the retail stores especially when there is a big sale. This is very bad news for those people on low income that really need to buy second hand so I really like to give things away when I can find a willing receiver. I find the best way is to put an offer on my local chapter of Freecycle.

A woman who works with the down and out came to pick up these items. 

My next task after cleaning my bedroom closet was to reduce the number of products under my bathroom sink. Despite limiting what I've been buying in the toiletry department it seems I still have far more than I can properly accommodate or use.  Some of these items were gifts. I was happy to give them to a woman who works with women who live on the street, or who have a very low income.




Then came a quick survey of my foyer closet and the kitchen.   I found a Spring jacket and the new winter car coat (winter coat in the photo). I bought this coat many years ago while I was still working and for whatever reason I just never wore it. I also found a few little kitchen items that I didn't want to throw away.

A nice young woman sent her boyfriend to pick these items up.
A student is expected to pick up on Thursday for a charity.

I still have a lot of crafting items of all kinds too.  Once I execute some of my projects in the coming year, the stash will be reduced.  But I did manage to gather together quite a few balls of left over yarn and a couple sets of knitting needles.

 
Donated to an senior who teaches knitting.
The last thing I am sorting this week is papers. I don't know how far I'll get but I want to clear as much as I can before the end of the month. This is my least favourite job and that why I'm here at the computer looking for a distraction and taking a short break.  I don't have a shredder that takes large amounts of paper so I have been keeping the paper aside in a small tub so I can burn them.  I've been culling papers for what seems like forever but I can "see" the finish line in sight though it will still take awhile.



Most of you who have a lot of stuff that you haven't looked at in years will know that a true decluttering project takes plenty of time.  You have to go through things that have accumulated over years and years. I don't think I've ever undertaken such a massive decluttering project and perhaps it is because I used to move on a regular basis and that kept the clutter accumulation in check.

I find that in the early stage of decluttering I get rid of the obvious things I don't want or use.  But I don't always get rid of things I don't use (that is why I have clutter, lol). I keep things I know I will use down the line.  As time goes on, I reassess whether I will still use things and sometimes go through them two, three and four times, before I make my final decisions.

Part of my hesitation in getting rid of some things, especially craft items and books  is because I do not want to have to buy things again that I know I will need later. With clothing it is always easier to go through things and get rid of most things you no longer want or need.

What I'm trying to get to is a life of greater simplicity.  That is a little hard to do when you like to do crafts or read books.  Anyone who does crafts knows you have to have stock and supplies on hand. This is a challenge when you live in a small space.  Anyone who loves to read knows it is hard to pass up a book. These days I try to buy second hand or get things free. I only buy a book if I know I'm going to read it and then I pass it on. I have quite a few books so I shouldn't be buying any more.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Missions of Hope

Hello everyone,

Jonah, of Missions of Hope (MOH), has placed his missions outreach on hold for the foreseeable future. As many of you know he has recently graduated with his Masters Degree in International Development and is currently looking for employment. While he puts his energy toward that, he will not be able to continue with his volunteer work helping orphans and widows.  That means his MOH blog is no longer available and he will not be taking any donations at this time.

If and when the work resumes, I will let you know.  He wants to thank any of my readers who have contributed toward various initiatives over the past few years. Your contributions are not unnoticed and they mean far more than you know. To date, we have fallen far short of the funds needed for little Linet's cleft palate surgery. I am still hoping to proceed with this initiative but it will take much more time. We value your prayers for Linet, her family and her surgery need.  When I have something concrete to report on this need, I will provide an update on my own blog.

In the meantime, I will continue to do a small part toward assisting the villagers in the villages around around Kericho, Kenya.  This work is modest and sporadic (and includes things like the Jiko Stove project which you can read about in my blog).  I am currently trying to raise funds through sales of my crafts.  There is a link to my Etsy shop on the right if you are interested. Alternatively if you wish to make a small donation, please let me know.

A panoramic view of Kericho, Kenya.
God bless. xx

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday

"Anyone who has ever cleaned out a closet
and taken stuff to Goodwill knows how liberating it is.
You feel lighter, your mind feels clearer."
Cecile Andrews (author and sustainability proponent)


"I've been getting rid of some clutter —
anything that doesn't serve a positive purpose in my life —
and making room for things that feel happy to me.
Because I get to make my life whatever I want it to be.
I get to make the room feel however I want it to feel.
I get to make the closet as full or as spacious as I want it.
And, if I have more clutter to get rid of after Christmas,
I'm not going to wait a year, or two or three to do it."
Jan Denise 



Hello fellow blogging friends,

I don't have anything exciting to write about or show today. The weather here is incredibly overcast with the cloud cover so low that I cannot see past the church steeple I often feature in my photos and blog headers.

This kind of weather gives me a good excuse to clean out my closet. I have had some work clothes taking up almost one entire closet that haven't been worn in several years.  They are still in good condition but I don't plan on wearing them anytime soon and they are taking up precious space in my small condominium.  I thought of selling the clothes to make a bit of return on all the money I spent.  However, that kind of project takes up too much time and effort and there is no guarantee of selling anything.   So I'm bagging everything up and hope to deliver them to the goodwill later this week. 


"Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough."
Author Unknown

"Bottom line is, if you do not use it or need it,
it's clutter, and it needs to go."
Charisse Ward

I've done a lot decluttering over the last 2 1/2 years but haven't gotten rid of my work clothes or shoes.  They are still in good condition and I was reluctant to part with them in case...

Now that time has come.

I need to make room for other things, mainly craft items and things I inherited from my mom almost 2 years ago.  I'm slowly working through mom's stuff to see what needs to be kept and what can go. I've saved all her important paperwork of course but it is her crafting things and appliances that take room and I want to  keep as much of it as possible since I got rid of so much already.  In addition, my own paperwork needs more sorting.  It was about one year ago when I had some time to purge a lot of very old paperwork.  I didn't quite finish the project but it isn't as overwhelming now.

While I'm doing this project, I may be scarce for awhile (or I may pop in here to post something or drop by and read your blog posts, when I want and need a break). Hopefully before the end of this month I will have made some terrific progress on making room in my condo and blessing someone else through donations to the Goodwill and Freecycle.

Please feel free to browse through some of my older posts while I'm taking a short break.  You can find them by doing a subject search.  You might find it easier just checking out my blog "archive list" in the sidebar to the right of my blog.

Happy Thanksgiving, November 22nd, to all my American friends. In Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving in October.


MySpaceGraphicsandAnimations.com

Take care everyone and see you soon.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Beauty in the Sky




A pessimist sees only the dark side of the clouds, and mopes; a philosopher sees both sides, and shrugs; an optimist doesn't see the clouds at all - he's walking on them. ~Leonard Louis Levinson 


God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars. ~ Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther 



And they were canopied by the blue sky, So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful, That God alone was to be seen in Heaven. ~Lord Byron 



Join here for Skywatch Friday. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Golden Rays



The season is changing fast to Winter but I am squeezing out every last ray of sunshine and golden Fall leaves. These photos were taken just about a week ago.










I am joining up with
Mellow Yellow Monday
Mandarin Orange Monday
Our World Tuesday
 
My Photo  

LorikArt Our World Tuesday Graphic

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins



 
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup packed brown sugar, or less if you want it less sweet. I probably used half a cup.*
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup nuts (I had leftover pumpkin seeds and some chopped almonds)
1/2 milk or just enough to make a muffin like consistency

Directions
1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2 Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl.
3 Whisk pumpkin, brown sugar (or Splenda), eggs, oil and chocolate chips in a second bowl until well combined. Stir the wet ingredients and raisins into the dry ingredients until no traces of dry ingredients remain.
4 Drop the batter by level tablespoonfuls onto a lightly greased baking sheet, spacing the cookies 1 1/2 inches apart.
5 Bake the cookies until firm to the touch and lightly golden on top, 10 to 12 minutes, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through. Cool and eat or freeze for later.
This recipe made 6 large muffins and 6 small ones. You could also make 12 medium ones but  I wanted different sizes.


This is virtually the same recipe I used for my diabetic pumpkin chocolate chip cookies the other day; except that I added milk, omitted the chocolate chips and added nuts.  The muffins looked good and tasted good but they were slightly on the dry side.  If you make these please  add another egg and more milk or possibly some yogurt to the recipe above. I'd love to know what you think about them too.

I haven't baked for a long time. Now I have enough healthy muffins and cookies to last me for the foreseeable future.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November 11 @ 11 O'Clock

In Canada each year on November 11 at 11 o'clock, we remember the fallen soldiers. I think many countries have a similar Armistice Day or Remembrance Day.

Photo credit: Remembrance Day Canada


The poem below was written by John McCrae, a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I and a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

- John McCrae


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Now that I have seen....

I am responsible.


People often wonderful why I have thrown my heart and soul into Missions of Hope in Kenya. Though this video and song are about Rwanda, they express my heart for Kenya and my hopes for Kenyans. I have been to Kenya several times.  I have seen the poverty and the hardship with my own eyes, and now I am responsible.

Lyrics to "Albertine"

I am sitting still
I think of Angelique
her mothers voice over me
And the bullets in the wall where it fell silent
And on a thousandth hill, I think of Albertine
there in her eyes what I don't see with my own
Rwanda

now that I have seen, I am responsible
Faith without deeds is dead
now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot let go till you are

I am on a plane across a distant sea
But I carry you in me
and the dust on, the dust on, the dust on my feet
Rwanda

I will tell the world, I will tell them where I've been
I will keep my word
I will tell them Albertine

I am on a stage, a thousand eyes on me
I will tell them, Albertine
I will tell them, Albertine

Though I am not on a stage with a thousand eyes on me and my platform is small in the scheme of things;  the work(s) I do are what I can do  in my own circumstances, and I am willing.  I will tell the world.

Edwin

Since I last wrote about the missions, my friend Jonah, overseer of the Missions of Hope, contracted typhoid fever while in Uganda at his convocation and he has been in hospital.  Also Edwin, the young man in the photo above who is battling cancer, has been hospitalized. Please keep them in your prayers.




Orphans

If you have already started thinking about Christmas gifts for family and loved ones in 2012, you might want to consider giving of a different nature this year. Missions of Hope has some unique gift ideas for you. Click here.

I have also started to add items to my Etsy shop. You can see the items here. More will be added over the coming days.  All proceeds go to the Missions of Hope.

I Went Searching for Sugarman

I went Searching for Sugarman on Tuesday and found him! Just like many others in North America and around the world are now finding him. I hope you enjoy a peek at his life.



I enjoyed the film a lot. I was inspired by the humility of this man, Sixto Rodriguez and by his philosopy toward life and art. An added bonus was getting to visit parts of the world where I have not yet been; the beautiful coastline of Cape Town, South Africa and the gritty streets of Detroit, Michigan. Another bonus was being able to understand the situation of apartheid from the white perspective, a little better.  Though this film is not about apartheid, apartheid is definitely wrapped up in the story.  This film came along for me shortly after having viewed "Come Back Africa", a film about apartheid through the experiences of black South Africans.

If you get an opportunity to see this film, I hope you take it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

November Images










 


Join Our World Tuesday here.


Diabetic Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

After a evening of mending and another day of rain on Sunday, I felt like some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  I saw some of these cookie recently on a blog but they didn't leave a recipel  I went in search of a diabetic recipe and tweaked what I found to better meet my pantry supply and to cut down on the sugar.



DIABETIC PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup packed brown sugar, or less if you want it less sweet. I probably used half a cup.*
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
8 oz chocolate chips (1 cup)**

*Taste the batter before you drop it on the baking sheet to see if you need to add more sweetener.
**The recipe I tweaked used raisins (and less pumpkin and flour).

Directions
1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2 Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl.
3 Whisk pumpkin, brown sugar (or Splenda), eggs, oil and chocolate chips in a second bowl until well combined. Stir the wet ingredients and chocolate chips into the dry ingredients until no traces of dry ingredients remain.
4 Drop the batter by level tablespoonfuls onto a lightly greased baking sheet, spacing the cookies 1 1/2 inches apart. I never am too careful about uniformity. I actually use a roundish shaped teaspoon and fill it up.
5 Bake the cookies until firm to the touch and lightly golden on top, 10 to 12 minutes, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through. Cool and eat or freeze for later.

I made 2 and a half dozen cookies using my teaspoon for dropping the batter on the baking sheet.

I found these cookies were sweet enough.  They were soft inside and had just the right touch of sweetness with the added chocolate chips. I didn't grease my pan and it would have been better if I did. So I've written up the instructions for lightly greasing the baking pan before dropping the cookie batter onto it. I had a large can of pumpkin so I decided to make pumpkin muffins too. I'll have enough pumpkins and cookies for awhile.

Pumpkin is full of vitamins (A & C), minerals (magnesium, potassium, zinc) and fibre.  Not only that; it smells wonderful when baking. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Day Today

“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.” ― Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat 
I couldn't resist a photo of the beautifully coloured orange leaves.


But as you can see from the photo below, it was raining very heavily. It has been raining heavily here for some time.



On days like this I like to stay home and make some hot soup or bake something comforting, read a good book or go to the movies.

Today I went to see "Midnight's Children". 


It was a rather long movie set in post-independence India, and based on the book and screenplay of the same name by Salman Rushdie.  I won't give away the plot but I did enjoy it.  It seems there are many good movies being released in November and December. It's a great relief to know that there are still good movies being made. The next one I hope to see is "Searching for Sugarman" (already released) or "Anna Karenina" (released on November 21).

African Music & Happenings