Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

Year-in-review posts may be somewhat cliche but since I originally started my blog as a personal chronical I also think they are important in helping to tell the story of me.  Reflection is a positive thing that helps us to learn.  As an art teacher I always ask my students to reflect on their artwork upon completion of it.  While many do not take it seriously, some do and those students are able to learn a lot through the process.

2011 was a year of big changes in our house. Most notably, after 8 years of working at the same school as my husband, I was given the opportunity to move to a neighboring school district. I took a huge leap of faith and made the move.  I loved working with my husband but there were a lot of things going on ‘behind the scenes’ that pushed me to search for a new job.  I am loving my new job, my new bosses and my new coworkers.  I still hope that someday, before too long, Richie and I are working together again.

Here is a list of some of the other things we did this year.

1.  Played in the snow.
2.  Taught some great art  lessons in the After School program.
3.  Went to Gatlainburg, TN with my parents for Spring Break.
4.  Went to the horse races in Hot Springs, AR.
5.  Spent some time with my nephews Silas and Salem and their parents.
6.  Attended the Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged Conference at the Ozark Natural Science Center.
7. Learned how to use Twitter and participated in a few Twitter parties.
8. Put down new flooring in our house. BY OURSELVES!
9. Enjoyed several days in Panama City Beach, Florida.
10. Spent a weekend at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute getting to know Stephanie, Fawn and Beth better and planning the future of Arkansas Women Bloggers.
11.  Discovered Gusano’s Pizza!
12. Visited the Laura Ingall’s Wilder home and the Baker Seed Company and Pioneer Village.
13.  Had surgery to remove endometriosis.
14. Teamed up with my sister Amanda to launch the Find it, Make it Series.
15.  Lost my grandmother after a long battle with Alzeheimers.
16.  Finally bought a new matress.
17.  Spent the days after Christmas with my parents.
18. Rang in the New Year a day early with our good friends the Groves before their oldest son returned to work at the Pentagon.

2011 had some good times and some bad times but each was a moment for learning and each was a moment that has continued to shape and mold me.  I have many hopes and dreams for 2012.  Only time will tell how the year plays out but I do know for certain that each day will be a journey.  I am happy that I am married to such a wonderful man and that I will walk the path with him.  So here’s to a year filled with happiness and love, hopes and dreams, more joy than sorrow and facing each day with the thankfulness that we were afforded 24 more hours to make this world a better place.

HAPPY 2012!

January – We had a descent

Fresh Bread in UNDER an Hour (plus Boeuf Bourguignon)

Yes you can make fresh bread in UNDER an hour!  I did it a few weeks ago and it was delicious!

See that slice of bread in that picture? It was still warm and freshly baked from scratch, start to finish, in under an hour!  Seriously! I didn’t think it was possible eaither but it is and it is easy to do.  The bread was flavorful and had a nice crumb.  The flavor wasn’t as complex or intense as a slow rise bread but is a wonderful solution if you are pressed for time.

Fresh Bread in Under an Hour

4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (two packets)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups water
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vinegar (I used red wine vinegar but balsamic works great too!)

You will need a heavy duty, oven-safe dish with a lid.  I used my cast iron dutch oven.  An enameled dutch oven or a covered casserole dish will also work.

Place the baking dish of your choice into the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees allowing the dish to come to temperature with the oven.

In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the yeast, sugar and water with the paddle attachment and then allow to rest about 5 minutes.

Now add 3 cups of flour, the salt and the vinegar and beat for several minutes.  Switch to the dough hook, add the last 1/2 cup of flour and beat for eight minutes.  The dough will be sticky.

Oil a large microwave bowl.  Transfer the dough to the bowl rolling it into a ball shape.  Cover the bowl with a wet towel and cover that with a dry towel.

Microwave on high for 25 seconds.  Let the bowl rest in the microwave for about 5 minutes.

Microwave on high for 25 more seconds.  Remove the bowl from the microwave and let it rest on the counter for at least 15 minutes.

Remove your heated dish from the oven.  Shape the dough into a ball and place into the hot dish.  Make several slits in the top of the loaf.  Cover and return to the oven immediately.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Internal temperature of the bread should reach at least 120 and should sound hollow when tapped.  If the bread needs more time remove the lid and bake an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 10 minutes before slicing.  Enjoy!

Additionally, that scrumptious looking meal pictured above is Boeuf Bourguignon! You can find my article and recipe on Arkansas Women Bloggers.