You may believe that it never gets cold in the desert, but . . .
It was 31 degrees outside when I checked the temperature this morning!
And I think somehow the dry air makes it feel even colder - or at least CRISPer. It smelled delicious outside this morning. Very wintery. I heard it was some of the coldest weather for the Valley (the Phoenix Metro area) in the last 10 years!
Our mysterious neighbors were still sitting out on their deck in spite of the chill in the air.
Greg and I spend time and use up our brain cells coming up with theories about why these girls are out on the deck in the wildest of weather and at all times of day. It's very strange. We imagine all sorts of shenanigans are going on in that house. We are pretty sure it's not something as simple as one smokes and the others don't like it because they smoke out on the deck (I am pretty sure I smelled cigars this morning!)
Does their house smell really bad? Rotten carpet? Walls covered in black mold?
Do they have claustrophobia and are afraid to stay indoors too long?
Is one roommate involved in an illicit activity and the others are avoiding it?
Do they trade off having over their boyfriends for dates and the other ones have to sit outside?
Does one prefer food that the others find objectionable in smell?
Hmmm . . . any other ideas?
Here are a few things that are making me very happy on these CHILLY days!
#1: Home-made bread!
I used Pamela's Gluten-Free Bread and Baking Mix and the recipe for white bread on the bag. The receipe called for the bread to "rest" (gluten-free breads don't really rise during the "rising" part of the recipe; they rise during baking) for one hour and bake for 70 minutes, but I let mine "rest" in my oven, set on "proof" for one hour and then only needed to bake the bread for about 45 minutes. As you can see, the texture is nice. It's still denser than non-gluten-free bread, but I am quite proud of it.
The bread did rise quite a bit more than I expected, and it's just as good as the pre-made frozen gluten-free bread (Udi's) I have been buying, if not better. Also, it didn't take long, didn't require a lot of work or ingredients, and made the house smell delicious while it was baking. I can also customize this however I want. I'm already planning jalepenos & cheese and cinnamon & raisin for sure!
One negative to baking my own bread is that I am not able to slice it as thinly as the pre-made breads are sliced, so it may not be as good for grilled cheese sandwiches or other sandwiches that require two pieces of bread.
Perhaps an electric bread slicer would solve this problem? Not sure. I will keep experimenting!
I like how the top came out all swirly (because gluten-free bread puffs up a little, but doesn't lose the shape of the dough when it was put in the pan).
#2: New Fleece-Lined Trench Coat!
Lovely button detail (I love the little wrap-around belt on the wrists!) And look at the snap-style buttons with the red trim!)
Here is the back - nice back pleat and cute little button. And all for $38!
#3: New Summer Wedges!
I won't be wearing these until spring (okay - for us, that's probably March!), but I found them for a good price at DSW. Those of you who know me know that I pretty much wear only Born shoes. At least, anything that has a heel has to be Born. I do love Superga sneakers, too! And Minnetonka Moccasins around the house (thanks, Mom, for the Minnetonka slippers keeping my feet warm right this minute)!
I have been on the hunt for wedges for a number of months because I am getting older by the minute, and I spend quite a bit of time on my feet, so wedges are comfier. These are a fairly low wedge, too. Hooray for Born - they've done it again!
In case you were feeling kitten-deprived, here is a video for you.
Stephen and Allistair love to hunt new "prey". Here is a video of Stephen and his amazing find!
And some Juvy photos. She is adorably round and cuddly like a little tiny bear. In fact, whenever I see bears on TV, I sort of want to cuddle them. But Juvy is much better (she doesn't eat my face off!)
When she was at the vet one time, the vet told us that Juvy is actually a "cinnamon" black cat because sometimes there are patches of cinnamon-brown fur on her as well as dark black. It's very pretty. She often looks as if she has brown stripes running through her black fur. If you look closely at the following picture, you can see a cinnamon patch right next to her nose! (near the top of the photo)
Here are a few more snuggly baby photos, too. It's chilly outside and inside, so they are being extra sleepy and cute!
Look at Baltazar's cute little pink feet!
And when I was browsing online today, Stephen decided to climb on my lap and help! Such an industrious kitten!
Church #3: PASS!
Once again, we visited two churches last Sunday, though it may be our last weekend doing thatbecause Church #3 received a passing grade!
We loved it! Great music, relevant and well-delivered message, theologically sound, friends who are non-believers would feel welcome, nice people, everything done on purpose. Lovely.
In fact, I knew three of the people on the stage. All three have been either interns or attenders at our previous church at some point. Cindy visited with us and gave Church #3 "five stars!"
On our way out, one of the dudes I knew (we'll call him "David," since that's his name) happened to be out front and stopped me to chat and when he found out we are "shopping" for a new church home where we can plug in (= give & serve), he asked if he could introduce me to someone . . . turns out they have been wanting to get a special needs team started but they haven't quite figured out the plan yet - !!! David had already given my contact info to their Early Childhood Director, and she was planning to get in touch to ask some questions. So I met their Early Childhood Director on Sunday, and she said she'd be in touch this week, which she was. We talked for over an hour on Thursday. It was a phone interview, in spite of the fact that I am not looking for a paid position. She shares my vision for reaching kids with special needs and their families. It was great to get such positive feedback (she talked of my "vast expertise and knowledge"). We will be having more discussions about whether this is the place Greg & I belong or if I will be providing consulting support instead.
I will keep you up to date on how things progress. We're attending there again tomorrow.
Church #4: FAIL
It was a "pretender". It pretended to be welcoming to all sorts of people, but didn't act like it. It pretended to be about practical life, but the message definitely wasn't. We didn't agree with the way the speaker interpreted Scripture. Didn't like the style of music. Didn't think the people were welcoming. Pastor seemed snobby and not in touch with reality. Obviously someone feels at home there, since it's not a small church, but we didn't. Good to know!
I am glad we have a good knowledge of what we believe and why, because it would be really hard to choose a good church home otherwise!