Another communication breakdown...

Thursday, September 30, 2010
By Tuesday morning they had the fire about 50% contained, and the areas directly behind us had been pretty well doused. But the firefighters were worried about strong winds that started to pick up throughout the day that might fan fires and start up hot spots again. And as we watched the mountain during the day, we could see small pockets of smoke where wind gusts would temporarily ignite still-burning embers. None of them turned into anything serious, thank goodness. But as the night wore on, the winds were expected to kick up even more, and there was concern that if something flared up, there might be precautionary evacuations again.

The main communication tool for the evacuations was the county's Reverse 911 system, which makes an automated phone call to affected residents with information on what is going on and what they need to do. As you might imagine, that requires a phone line.

Well, we use Comcast's Digital Voice service for our phone and because of the fire, Comcast had service outtages in Herriman on Tuesday night, which meant that customers who used them for their phone were WITHOUT PHONE SERVICE and thus without any way to receive a reverse 911 call letting them know of any potential evacuation.

That's a problem...

I don't think it would be exclusive to this one emergency situation either - in the event of a large-scale emergency, many cable, wireless and internet companies, and even landline phone service companies, may be unable to continue service, either because employees are not available, power is out, or infrastructure is damaged, etc.

Because our "home" phone was out, we only had our cell, and that number is not registered to our address, so there would be no way to get notification of an evacuation...or so we thought. But there actually IS a way!

You can register your VoIP/digital/cable number, a mobile phone number and even an email address to also be notified by the Reverse 911 system, so that in case your VoIP or digital/cable phone service is not working, notification can be made to a cell phone. I strongly recommend it (we registered that night, just in case)...


  1. Go to the Salt Lake Valley Emergency Communications Center web site at
  2. Click on VoIP registration. [Or use this direct link to the registration page.]
  3. Create an account (it's free).
  4. Register your home phone # (if you have VoIP or digital phone service) and/or your mobile phone number to be entered into their Reverse 911 call database. (You'll need to provide your physical address.)
  5. You can also register to receive emergency notifications via email if you choose.

This will enter your address in the database, along with your phone number(s) to be called if the Reverse 911 system is ever activated for your area. By registering both our home and mobile numbers, hopefully we would receive notification on at least one in case the other was down. It never hurts to have a back-up!

One communication problem solved...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I mentioned this morning that we realized we didn't have any phone numbers for neighbors or our LDS bishop when we evacuated. I know the ward membership directories are available online, but all we had with us was my iPhone, and I can't access the online directory on my phone.

BUT, then my husband mentioned last night that the LDS Church has just published a new app for Apple products (iPhone, iPad, iTouch, etc.) that IS the membership directory in app format!

It's very easy to use and I love the layout. Now I will have the ward directory with me wherever I go - love it! And one communication problem from our emergency situation has now been solved. (Of course, in a mass emergency if cellphone towers go down or networks go down, etc., the online directory may not be accessible, so we should still have a copy of a neighbor's phone number or the bishop's phone number written down on paper and included in our kits.)

For those who'd like to try it out, go to the App Store and search for "LDS Tools". There are two apps that pop up - you want the one that has the full name of the Church with it; that is the official app. (Also check out the Church's "Gospel Library" app if you haven't already.)

For those that are using Android, there is an app called "Ward Central Free" that is similar (the free version has basic access to ward directory info, the paid version has expanded access).

Communication Breakdown

Once we made the decision to evacuate, I called my mother to let her know what was going on and where we were headed. I used my home phone for that one.

I had my cellphone with me in the car as we were leaving, but about 5 minutes after we left, the phone lines (both landlines and cellular) were inundated and I was unable to make OR receive calls. The roads were crowded, and it took over 30 minutes to get out to Bangerter Hwy. Even the police and firefighters were having a hard time with communications because all the lines were swamped.

What I learned from this:

*If you have to evacuate, have a designated contact that you call to let them know you are safe, what your plans are and where you are headed. THEN - stay off the phone if possible. Emergency responders need those lines to coordinate plans and response efforts.

*Make sure other family members know of the contact plan and what to do. We stayed up into the early hours of Monday watching coverage of the fire, and because we were simply too wound up to get any sleep. But I realized the next morning that I had failed to contact my father to let him know what was going on. He called in a panic on Monday morning when he heard on the national news that our town had been evacuated. I assumed my mother would call him and let him know, but she didn't know I was expecting her to do that, so no one called my dad. Oops.

*I realized that I didn't have our bishop's phone number with us (or any neighbor or ward member contact info) in case we needed to let them know we were safe and accounted for. (It's online, but all I had with me was my phone, which can't access the online ward membership directory.)

I need to write up a family emergency commmunication plan and distribute it to family members so we all have a copy and know what to do.

Important Things We Forgot

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

All in all, I felt pretty good about what we gathered for our evacuation. Sure, there is stuff I would have liked to be able to take, but we had to prioritize for time and space. So we really tried to focus on things we couldn't easily replace, and things we might need for survival.

But because I had procrastinated making an actual evacuation list, there were some things we forgot:
  • my thyroid medication
  • children's medicine kit [I STILL haven't gotten the second kit made up to go with our 72-hr kits]
  • some family history documents that have not yet been digitized, and would have been irreplaceable if lost in a fire
  • pillows
  • cat litterbox and litter
  • handy reference sheet with phone numbers/account numbers for home insurance and other contacts [yup, procrastinated on that one, too]
We would have had everything gathered and packed in half the time if I had put together the list of exactly what to take, where it was located, and who was responsible for getting it into the car.Prepared LDS Family has done a post where she shows you her family's "Grab & Go" list. And here is her post on how to make a list of your own. I will post my version of a Grab & Go list as soon as I can get my web developer to get our server up and running again... ;)

It's bread-making day at my house!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Yep, that's 2 loaves of bread, and a dozen dinner rolls, sitting on trays, on top of bowls filled with hot water, on top of stools placed next to my sliding glass doors in the hot afternoon sun. *sigh* The lengths I have to go to in order to get bread to rise...


The Getaway Car

As the fire crested the mountain, the evacuation area was expanded to include the road right behind us. A little too close for comfort. And looking at those flames, it really didn't look good - I honestly wasn't sure there was any way they were going to be able to stop the fiery monster in its path, and it looked like absolute devastation was going to come visit in a very sinister way.

The speed at which the fire was spreading had us very worried, and although we were not in a mandatory evacuation zone, we were right next to it (about a block north), and we feared that if they couldn't get the fire under control and it spread, that we could possibly be next on the evacuation list. And we didn't want that to happen in the middle of the night, when we would be least prepared, half asleep, with two scared children. So we decided it might be best if we left now, just in case.

We took about 15-20 minutes and gathered what we could, as quickly as we could.

[This picture was taken Monday afternoon, after we returned home.]

It was mom and dad, two kids, two cats, and then whatever we could grab that might be important. Our old house is still on the market and has not sold, so we figured we would just go there for the night. So I didn't worry about shelter items (tent, sleeping bags, etc.). But the other house doesn't have any furniture, so we were potentially going to end up sleeping on the floor.

We grabbed:
  • 72-hour kits
  • bag of cat food (forgot the litter and litter box)
  • picnic set (so we'd have some eating utensils)
  • laptop, Mac and backup storage drive (the laptop is my livelihood, and the backup drive has all our pictures on it)
  • blankets (TOTALLY forgot pillows)
  • two baskets of clean laundry that were in the laundry room waiting to be folded
  • small suitcase that I shoved full of some clothes from off the closet floor
  • fire safe with important documents
  • purse and cellphone charging cord
That was it. That's all we took.

I didn't grab extra food because I figured we could eat what was in the 72 hour kits or we could go to the store if needed, once we were out of harm's way.

One Week Later

Sunday, September 26, 2010

This last week has been absolutely surreal...Looking back over the events, it all just seems like a dream, and I think, "Did this really happen?" It was so fast, so sudden - maybe I was just making it up...

But no, it really did. Last Sunday, a training exercise at a nearby military facility sparked a wildfire. We were experiencing unseasonably hot temperatures, low to no humidity, and crazy winds gusting up to 50 mph. What started as a small brush fire quickly got out of hand, despite the best efforts of the National Guard to contain it to their training area. That was at 3:30pm. We started to smell the smoke a little while later, but didn't think anything of it. At about 6pm we heard that they had evacuated a housing development about two miles southwest of us, as a precaution. By 7pm, the smoke was heavy and thick, but no one had any clue that the fire was as close or as big as it was. At 7:30pm they were starting to show pictures online and on the news of the giant plume of smoke at the south end of Herriman. A few minutes later, as the sun set, I went upstairs to see if I could see anything over in the canyon.

Imagine my surprise when I looked out my bedroom window and saw bright red clouds due south of me. I thought that was awfully strange, because we had been under the impression that the fire was coming through the canyon (to our southwest). As I watched for a few minutes, the sky grew redder, and redder, and I thought I saw pink flames. I thought to myself that was impossible, and I must just be seeing the fire reflected in the clouds of smoke. Turns out, it wasn't a reflection. Another minute or two passed and it was VERY clear that those were indeed flames, and that they were coming over the back side of the mountain about a mile directly south of us. In a matter of minutes (no exaggeration, 5 minutes or less) the ENTIRE front side of the mountain had been engulfed in flames. They must have been about 20-30 feet high, and the fire line was well over a mile wide. NOT exactly a site you want to see heading right for you.

I watched as cars started racing out of the subdivision south of us - they had had only minutes to evacuate. The winds had shifted the fire out of its projected path, and it was now racing north east. It came too fast for any advanced warning.

It was a scary sight - a massive wall of flames headed our direction - and one that I will probably never forget...

[I will post more info, pictures and thoughts throughout the week on what I have learned from this experience.]

What I'm Buying - Sunflower Market 9/22

Friday, September 24, 2010
Here's what I picked up at Sunflower Market this week:

(4) whole fryer chickens, on sale .69/lb
(1) pkg mini cucumbers, on sale 2.00
(2) green leaf lettuce, .99 ea
(6) cucumbers, on sale .50 ea
(1) pkg fresh dill, 1.88
organic broccoli, on sale .99/lb
granny smith apples, on sale .77/lb
bartlett pears, on sale .57/lb
grapes, on sale .67/lb
Utah peaches, on sale .57/lb

No coupons used.

Total: $35.55

The cucumbers and dill are for making pickles. It's a recipe from my husband's uncle that has been in their family for awhile. Of course, my version won't be nearly as good as his, because he has a HUGE garden and uses his own cucumbers and dill, picked fresh moments before they are canned - can't beat that!

What I'm Buying - Maceys 9/22

Maceys is continuing their food storage sale this week. They had some good deals that I didn't want to miss out on.

Here's what I picked up:

(4) Cocoa Puffs cereal, on sale 1.78 (1.38 after in-store coupon, .88 after manufacturer coupon)
(2) 20lb Blue Ribbon rice, on sale 5.99
(1) 1lb Fleischmans instant yeast, on sale 2.48
(1) Keebler Coconut Dreams cookies, on sale 2.00 (total impulse buy - they looked good!)
(1) Auguson Farms powdered whole eggs, on sale 11.98
(4) lbs 80% lean ground beef, on sale 1.78/lb
(2) bunches bananas, on sale .38/lb
(1) bath sponge, .89
(1) Dial yogurt foaming soap, on sale .99 (.64 after coupon)
(2) wax melts, 2.99 (to help with the smoke smell from the wildfire)

I used (2) 1.00/2 coupons for the cereal [see SS-8/22 or SS-9/19] and (1) .35/1 coupon for the soap [see RP-8/15].

Total: $47.32

I know it doesn't seem like much food for nearly $50, but $27 of that is long-term food storage items (powdered eggs, 40lb rice and yeast).

What I'm Buying - Smith's 9/22

What a great week for cereal and soup sales! Things have been so chaotic around our house the last few weeks that we've been relying on quick dinners of canned soup several times a week and have put a pretty big dent in our supply. So I was very excited to see the great deals on the Campbell's Chunky soups this week - hooray!

Here's what I picked up this week:

(50) Campbell's Chunky soup, on sale 1.00 (.50-.75 after coupon)
(5) Campbell's Select Harvest soup, on sale 1.00 (free after coupon)
(3) Kraft shredded cheese, on sale 1.99 (.99 after coupon)
(2) Kraft shredded cheese, clearanced to 1.50 (.50 after coupon)
(5) Kraft Singles, on sale 1.99 (.99 after coupon)
(2) Mountain Dairy whole milk, on sale 1.79
(2) Kroger All Natural sour cream, on sale .88
(2) Silk Pure Almond milk, on sale 2.50 (1.50 after coupon)
(1) rolls, clearanced to 1.29
(3) Gorton fish sticks, on sale 3.49
(12) roma tomatoes, on sale .88/lb
(2) Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh ham, clearanced to 1.99
(2) Pillsbury brownie mix, on sale .88

I used a variety of coupons for the soup (I can't remember exactly which ones) [see the list at GrocerySmarts for all the options], (2) 5.00/5 printable coupons for the cheese [see link from GrocerySmarts list] and (1) 2.00/2 coupon for the almond milk [see SS-9/19].

Now, before you go thinking I'm crazy, I got the soup at two different stores, so as to leave plenty for everyone else. And no, we don't need 50 cans all for our family. I got a lot so that I could have some to donate to the food bank, with all the food drives that will be coming up over the next few weeks.

Total: $65.77

Coming Soon...

Thursday, September 23, 2010
Coming soon: This week's "What I'm Buying", and a few pictures and thoughts on preparedness from our experience this last weekend with the wildfire.

I am still here, our house is still here and undamaged, and we're all fine (although a little sick - not fire related though).

It has been a crazy week, to say the least, so I'm behind on EVERYTHING (laundry, work, blog posts, meals, etc.). I'll try to have at least the grocery trip posts up by tomorrow afternoon. I've got to get some work finished first though before I get fired, and some clothes washed before I have to resort to sending my son to school in his pajamas and my husband to work without socks... ;)

For those in the Salt Lake area, don't forget about the Emergency Preparedness Fair this weekend!

Yes, yes, and no

Monday, September 20, 2010
So, we ended up evacuating last night. Here are the answers to the questions I proposed to myself (see previous post):

Yes, we were prepared. Not as much as we might have liked, but we still did okay. It was still a bit scary and VERY intense, and we hope we never have to do that again.

Yes, MOST everything in our kits was ready. I realized that I hadn't put any of my prescription medication in the kits, and I had failed to put in a bag of cat food for our feline companions. And we completely forgot to grab the water bottles.

No, we did not have a very good plan in place. I was able to call my mother in Taylorsville to let her know we were evacuating and where we were headed, but after that the phone lines (both cell and landline) were swamped and I was unable to make or receive calls. Thankfully data connections were still active and we received updates every few minutes on Facebook from Herriman City with details and instructions (I have to tell you, this was the coolest thing - Herriman has been SO amazingly well organized through all of this!). But we didn't have a list put together of what we needed to grab and where it was and who was responsible to get it in the car. I WILL REMEDY THAT THIS WEEK. I've known I needed to put one together for a long time, I just hadn't gotten around to it.

We live right on the border of the mandatory evacuation zone, and as we watched the fire crest the hill behind our home about 7:30 last night, things were not looking good. In less than 5 minutes the ENTIRE hill was engulfed in massive flames - it spread so fast! At the time, and with the horrible winds, it did not look like there was any way to stop it from just charging right Herriman, so we felt it was best to get out then rather than risk getting a wake-up call at 2am telling us we had 10 minutes to get out of our home.

I'm happy to report that although the fire got very, very close to a LOT of houses, so far very few have been damaged. Our ward boundaries straddle the evacuation boundary, so about half of our ward (and a large part of our stake) is still under the evacuation order and unable to return home.

Salt Lake County Emergency Preparedness Fair - Sept 25

Sunday, September 19, 2010
We just learned that part of our stake is being evacuated because of the Camp Williams wild fire that is headed this way. It is unsettling news, to say the least. We are praying that the fire will not reach any of those homes and that the winds will die down so they can fight the flames. But it has my mind racing with questions - are we prepared if we need to evacuate? Is everything in our kits ready? Do we have a plan?

I think these are questions that many of us would ask in the face of an impending emergency. September is Emergency Preparedness month, and the folks at Salt Lake County Emergency Management want to help us answer those questions.

They will be hosting an Emergency Preparedness Fair this Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, from 11am to 3pm at the Salt Lake County Emergency Operations Center (3380 South 900 West).

There will be experts, vendors and first responders there to help all of us learn how to be better prepared. They are also going to provide free hot dogs and drinks!

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." But I shall credit myself with saying, "Any preparation, no matter how small, is better than no preparation at all." ;)

What I'm Buying - Smith's 9/15

Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Smith's has several good promos this week:

* Buy any 4 GM cereals and get $6 at checkout (limit $12 off per transaction - so limit 8 boxes per transaction).

* Buy 8 Betty Crocker fruit snacks in a single transaction and get them for $1 each.

The GrocerySmarts list said not to buy the cereal and the fruit snacks in the same transaction, so I split mine up.

Transaction 1:

(4) Trix cereal, 2.99 (1.49 after promo, .99 after coupon)
(4) Reese's Puffs cereal, 2.99 (1.49 after promo, .94 after coupon)

I used (2) .55/1 printable coupons for the Reese's Puffs [see GroupA at GrocerySmarts], (2) 1.00/2 printable coupons for the cereal [see GroupA at GrocerySmarts] and (1) 1.00/2 coupon for the cereal [see SmartSource-8/22].

I then had a $7 credit on my Fresh Values card as a refund for a Catalina promo they published a month or so ago but then never activated. Smith's was very kind to credit me the value of the Catalinas I would have received.

Total: $.18 (yes, that's really only eighteen cents)

Transaction 2:

(4) Betty Crocker fruit snacks, on sale 2.00 (1.00 after promo, .75 after coupon)
(2) Betty Crocker fruit variety pack, on sale 2.00 (1.00 after promo, .75 after coupon)
(2) Betty Crocker fruit gushers, on sale 2.00 (1.00 after promo, .75 after coupon)

I used (2) .50/2 printable coupons for the fruit snacks [see GroupA at GrocerySmarts], and (2) .50/2 coupons for the fruit snacks [see GeneralMills-9/12].

Total: $5.74

Transaction 3:

(2) Cocoa Puffs cereal, 2.99 (1.49 after promo, .99 after coupon)
(4) Cookie Crisp cereal, 2.99 (1.49 after promo, .99 after coupon)
(2) Trix cereal, 2.99 (1.49 after promo, .99 after coupon)
(3) Dannon Danimals Crush Cups, on sale 1.88 (.88 after coupon)
(1) Dannon Danimals Smoothies, on sale 1.88 (.88 after coupon)
(2) Dannon yogurt, on sale 1.88 (.88 after coupon)
(1) Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh meat, clearanced to 2.25
(1) pkg bagels, on sale 2.00 [not pictured]
(2) Quaker instant oatmeal, on sale 1.67 (.67 after coupon)

I used (4) 1.00/2 coupons for the cereal [see SS-8/22], (4) 1.00/1 coupons for the Danimals [see SS-8/15 or SS-9/12], (2) 1.00/1 printable coupons for the plain Dannon yogurt [see GroupA at GrocerySmarts] and (2) 1.00/1 coupons for the oatmeal [see RP-9/12].

Total: $19.71

What I'm Buying - Fresh Market 9/15

It is Fresh Market's "Grand Opening" sale this week, and they have some great prices on produce!

(1) Western Family Petal Soft bath tissue, on sale 3.99
(2) Skippy Naturals peanut butter, on sale 1.50 (1.00 after coupon)
(2) SunnyD individual drinks, on sale .88 [not pictured cuz we drank them on the way home]
(2) Grandma Sycamore bread, on sale 1.50
(1) Hillshire Farm deli meat, FREE with purchase of bread
(2) Carl Buddig deli meat, on sale 1.67 (.67 after coupon)
(2) bunches bananas, on sale .38/lb
(1) green leaf lettuce, 1.29
(2) bags green grapes, on sale .79/lb
(1) bag red grapes, on sale .79/lb
(1) 2lb bag baby carrots, on sale 2.00
(1) bag Dole Perfect Harvest salad kit, on sale 3.00 [not pictured cuz we ate it for dinner]
(1) bag chocolate chip cookies, 3.99

I used (2) .50/1 printables for the peanut butter [see link in GrocerySmarts list] and (2) 1.00/1 printables for the Buddig deli meat [see GroupA at GrocerySmarts].

Total: $30.77

A MUCH better total than last week... :)

What I'm Buying - Fresh Market 9/8

Sunday, September 12, 2010
Here's what I picked up at Fresh Market:

(1) McCormick lemon extract, 8.29 (EGADS!!!!)
(4) Grandma Sycamore's bread, on sale 1.50 (1.25 after in-ad coupon)
(4) Post cereal, on sale 1.75 (1.25 after in-ad coupon, .50 after manufacturer coupon)
(1) gallon ShurSaving milk 2%, on sale 1.79
(1) gallon ShurSaving milk whole, on sale 1.98
(1) pkg New York steak, on sale 3.98/lb
(1) beef rump roast, on sale 1.78/lb
(4) Tillamook 2lb medium cheddar cheese, on sale 5.98 (4.98 after in-ad coupon, 3.98 after manufacturer coupon)
(1) bunch bananas, .59/lb
(1) pkg green grapes, on sale .88/lb
(1) pkg red grapes, on sale .88/lb
(4) limes, on sale .25 ea
(1) green leaf lettuce, 1.29
(4) corn on the cob, on sale .20 ea
(1) jalapeno pepper, .14

I used (2) 1.50/2 coupons for the cereal [see SS-7/25, must buy milk as well] and (4) 1.00/1 coupons for the cheese [were a single-page insert in the Sunday paper from 9/5].

Total: $61.37

What I'm Buying - Smith's 9/8

Holy smoky bananas, it was a CRAZY week last week! I'm sorry for the delay in posting this, but I ended up working full-time unexpectedly on Thursday and Friday. Maybe it was just as well, as it gave me a few days to forget about the drama of Wednesday morning's shopping trips. I have to tell you, I came back from the two stores feeling like I was the most unorganized, chaotic, brainless coupon shopper in history...

Here's what I picked up:

(4) Schick Hydro 5 razors, on sale 6.58 (1.58 after coupon)
(2) pkgs London Broil, on sale 1.99/lb (purchased for a beer rebate I was lucky enough to find this week)
(1) pkg buns, clearanced to 1.49
(2) pkg frozen mango, 3.19 (purchased to make mango puree for THIS recipe)
(1) pork roast, 1.99/lb (I thouht I picked up Boston Butt, but got home and found it was sirloin roast)
(6) Hormel pepperoni, on sale 1.00
(4) Hormel salami, on sale 1.00
(2) Kroger lemon extract, 2.99 (purchased for THIS recipe, I'm totally addicted to this stuff)
(2) Silk soy milk, on sale 2.99 (totally forgot my coupons for these)
(8) Banquet brown'n'serve sausage, on sale .88
(2) Totino's pizza, on sale 1.25 (yeah, didn't bring the coupon for these, either)

I actually had to do this in two purchases (well, it was actually 4, but that's a REALLY long story that you most likely don't want to hear) because there is a Catalina promo at Smith's right on Energizer products (which includes Schick products):

Get $5 off your next shopping trip when you buy $25 worth of participating Energizer Products in a single transaction: ALL Schick Products, ALL Energizer MAX Batteries, ALL Playtex Gentle Glide and Sport Tampons, and all infant products, All Banana Boat Products All Wet Ones Products, All Hawaiian Tropic Products, ALL Edge and Skintimate products - Valid through 9/30/2010

So, I bought the four razors in one transaction and that gave me a $5 Catalina coupon which I used to help pay for the second transaction.

For coupons, I used (4) 5.00/1 coupons for the razors [see SS-8/8], and then used the $5 Catalina. That was it.

It seemed like everything that could go wrong that morning, did go wrong. So, I'm afraid it's not a very good showing as far as saving money goes.

Total: $63.41

See, I told you it was terrible...

What's worse is that the expensive mangos, the buns and the pork roast were all for the same recipe, and it turned out HORRIBLE. Not even edible. Don't blame the recipe though - it was 100% user error on my part. I ended up with the wrong cut of meat, I burned the sauce, and I realized too late that I didn't have ingredients I thought I did, and had to substitute, which proved disastrous. The entire thing went into the trash - uneaten. UGH!!!!

Hopefully, if I can somehow get my luck to turn around, I will be able to submit my reciept for a beer rebate I found [Buy $10 worth of beef, get $6 back - no beer purchase required]. That will help offset the price, a LITTLE, but not much. Still a disastrous trip overall.

What I'm Buying - Delayed

Wednesday, September 8, 2010
It has been awhile since I posted any shopping trips results, but that was because I actually didn't do any grocery shopping last week.

I did get some groceries today, but I have to tell you, the experience did not go so well, so if you'll forgive me, I'm going to hold off on posting until tomorrow so I don't have to re-live the horror twice in one day...grr...


Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I know you're all going to think I'm completely nuts, but I just have to tell you that this was an exciting accomplishment for me...

...I succeeded in making bread!!! Real, honest-to-goodness, from-scratch bread.

Now, if you've followed the blog for awhile, you are probably scratching your head right now, because you've seen me post about making bread before. But today was DIFFERENT!

I've actually made bread quite a few times over the last year since I found this awesome, super-fast, almost-no-fail bread recipe.

And while most of the time it's edible and all, it just still never looks like that store-bought loaf - you know, the golden crust, the mushroom top, you get the idea. My loaves just never seem to rise as high as they should, and they end up looking like bloated bricks (wow, now that's an appetizing mental picture) or I have to go to *bizarre* lengths (and a lot of extra time) to coax and cajole them into rising.

But not today! I got 2 loaves that almost completely overflowed their pans. In fact, I thought maybe they had risen *too* much [which NEVER happens to me - EVER]. But they came out looking fabulous! [Yes, I'm weird for getting so excited about poufy bread...] But after so many mediocre loaves, I finally got two that rose well, had a nice tender crumb inside, had a beautiful crust, didn't stick to the bottom of the pan and get all ripped up when trying to get the loaf out, and that looked like something an actual, somewhat-proficient bread-maker might turn out on a regular basis.

[Okay, so you have to understand that I have always been fascinated with making bread, ever since I was a young child, and through the years, from the time I was 6, I have tried, and tried, and tried, to make bread - but failed every single time.]

My secret today? A sliding glass patio door, south-facing, and a little plastic wrap - worked like MAGIC! Instead of pre-heating my oven for a minute and then letting the loaves rise in there (like the recipe suggests), I decided to stick the pans on a stool in front of my glass patio door. The sun shines through the door ALL day long, so it's pretty warm right in front of the glass. I covered the pans lightly with a piece of plastic wrap that I had sprayed with non-stick spray. Then I just walked away - and left them to bask in the sun for 30 minutes. Worked like a charm! No oven pre-heating, no pans sitting precariously over bowls of warm water, no bowls sitting on top of heating pads, no doubled amounts of yeast...

I know this probably seems like a no-brainer, but remember, I come from a family that has NEVER been successfal at making bread, so I didn't have someone to teach me all the tips and tricks. I've had to figure it out on my own, and as you can see, I'm a little slow sometimes... ha ha ha! ;)

[Please don't ask why it took me so long to think of putting dough in a warm, sunny window/door to help it rise - I told you, I'm kinda slow.]