28 February 2017

Climate, Altitude And Baking

Moving from humid sea level to the desert at 6,200+ in elevation is a pretty big change for the the body. Your hair, skin, lung capacity and pretty much every other function are affected by it. It's a serious change in how you bathe, wash your hair, treat your skin...your entire appearance. It also seems to have an effect on baking recipes. Every time I have made cookies since we moved the dough is always too dry. So I'm having to do some investigation to figure out how to solve that.

Other challenges include learning the best way to use our stoves. We have a double wall oven and I'll tell ya, it was a delight to be able to crank them both up, put in four pans of cookies and be done baking within 20 minutes rather than putting in pan after pan to bake. I don't know what is more energy wasteful/efficient, to turn them both on for a few minutes or have one on for twice as long. Something to ask some energy efficiency specialist about...or google it. Ha.

I don't like the idea of adding more fats or eggs to the recipes to combat this dryness issue. It makes sense that the flour and all the other ingredients are not going to have as much moisture in them when things are SO dry here. Adding an egg is a challenge, because you probably don't need an entire whole egg and you can't put in half an egg really. Adding more butter doesn't excite me either because it seems like the cookies will just end up flatter and more greasy looking. I guess I could go with applesauce or something along those lines. Maybe what I need to do is just add less flour. Anyone have any suggestions or ideas?

I realized yesterday that for some reason, on some stressful or busy days I just have to bake for a little while. I don't know why and I haven't noticed it when living in other homes. But here, I somehow get stress relief/zen calming from pulling out the KitchenAid mixer and throwing ingredients together and into the oven.

Yesterday I was busy and getting a lot done but had a lot more I needed to get done and in the middle of the afternoon I just stopped everything and whipped up some Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies. I didn't even feel like eating one. A little weird. Happily it all came together pretty fast with the help of the mixer, four cookie sheets and the double ovens. I better not tell my family how this works or they'll be causing me stress just to get me to make more treats. Haha.

I've been making a lot of traction with home organization and some business projects the past couple of weekends and I feel like the progress is energizing me towards more progress. With the long move, my broken foot and The Man's health challenges it feels like we have fallen so far behind in getting settled again. It's been two years since I first left L.A. and it still doesn't feel like our home is settled here.

Our life outside of the house is quite settled but not inside the house. I should take some comfort that so many friends say they have boxes they haven't unpacked since they moved several years ago or that they have moved and still have rooms that aren't set up and ready to do. I had a roommate who was literally set up the day after she moved in to an apartment we shared, even with art all over her walls and everything in its place and I am still shocked and in awe about that. Obviously this house isn't a dorm room with one wall and a twin bed or a small apartment to decorate but still, she amazed me and I wonder how fast she can pull a house together?!

While it snowed on Sunday, although it didn't stick to the ground, I am happy to report we've been wind free for the most part the past two days. It was windy for a while in the middle of the night, the house was rocking and there was a lot of noise for a while but it didn't last and today is calm. That is a happy thing! I was talking to a doctor on Friday and she was saying how much she hates the wind too and that it's even worse when you get out into the smaller towns and open roads from here in the big city. I don't even want to think about that. I'm grateful the winds have been pretty calm this week. (Falling on my knees with my hands in the position of thankful praising).

I'm hoping to make more progress on my office organization this week around the edges of all the other work and responsibilities. I've made huge strides and I need to pull it all together the rest of the way so it can be highly productive work space. Yesterday while I was working at my desk the dog and Kiddo were in here. I turned around to see she was in the process of emptying out an entire cupboard shelf so that she could hide inside it. She was playing hide and seek with the dog. No messing with my office organization please.

The areas I already organized seem to be functioning well and staying tidy which makes me ever so happy. There is little that makes me happier than tidy storage spaces that stay tidy! (Twirling around in a circle like a glee-filled six year old.)

One of my biggest challenges is papers that need to be filed. I still haven't quite figured out the best way for us to keep track of that stuff in this house. Should we have one giant filing cabinet in The Man's office? Should I have a mini-file in my office? Should I fit it in a drawer or just buy a rollable 2-drawer system. Can't figure out what's going to make me happy on that note. Maybe because it just feels impossible for paper filing and the word happy to ever peacefully co-exist?! The thing we seem to have the most of right now are insurance paperwork and bills. So much fun to deal with in every way. Diving into paperwork organization is definitely a big part of this week.

My next endeavor for the office is figuring out how to make it feels like my space. I have a few pretty things on the window ledges but I basically only have the far wall that could support any art or decor. Every other wall is covered with a washer, dryer, second fridge/freezer and a lot of oak cabinetry. Thankfully I have two beautiful windows overlooking the yard. But so far I'm just not seeing how this space is going to get pretty and excite and inspire me.

Even if I painted the cabinetry (ugh) and got new countertops in here I'm not really sure that it would do much good. I really need to get inspired about this space clearly! The spacing is odd, the room is small and when I'm sitting at my desk everything is behind me so the only spaces that are really visible are the windows which I would like to keep as clear as possible. Time to do some more brainstorming. I think this might be one of those situation where I have to bring in a friend for some advice. A fresh set of eyes might be just the thing. It's sad that you can get so sort of jaded in your own house that you cease to be able to have the vision you might have for other spaces.

I find that looking at design books and magazines often gives me ideas that I could implement in our home. I should go back and look at all the design books I got for Christmas. I am sure things there would inspire me. I have quite a few other design books that it might be time to go look at again for a fresh perspective on what often feels a like a stale environment because I am here every day. Fresh inspiration, come to Mama!

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