4 Bread-Baking Secrets on the Road to Bread Perfection

 

You’re preparing for your child to be born, and you’re craving something delicious. Bread is on your mind day and night, and if food is on your mind, you can start baking the perfect loaf of bread today. But I am not going to give you a recipe to follow.

Nope.

I’m going to do something even better: help you fix all of those baking errors that you’re making. You’ll be able to use a lot of these secrets to make fruit cakes, cookies, pastries or any other type of cooking when baking is involved.

Bread Baking Secret #1: Warm Butter

You follow a recipe exactly, and what happens? Your bread turns out horrible. I have had this happen countless times, and the problem was something so simple that I am almost embarrassed to even mention it: butter.

I added the butter into the mix.

But I didn’t let the butter warm up first. The recipe never really said what to do with the butter, so I left it out for a minute or two before adding it into my dough.

Big mistake.

Room temperature ingredients trap the air through emulsion and this air will expand and allow the bread to get nice and fluffy. If your bread hasn’t been getting the fluff you want, this may be why.

Bread Baking Secret #2: Knead on an Oiled Surface

This corrective technique seems so obvious, but it’s a technique most people don’t even think about. If your bread and dough is just dry, you’ll want to knead it on an oiled surface. If you knead your dough on a floured surface, you’re going to add to the dryness of the bread.

And this should be evident during your last dough rise.

If you just have dough that’s always too dry, this trick will help – a lot.

Bread Baking Secret #3: Temperatures Aren’t What They Seem

I started to notice that my bread never came out just right after a few recipe failures, but it wasn’t just bread. A lot of baked goods didn’t come out right. I knew I followed the recipes exactly, so the next logical step was to look at my main equipment.

The utensils have little to do with the problem. When I was using a new bread maker, the problem went away, too. But any time I put my dough into the oven, or any baked good for that matter, instant problems.

The problem?

My oven. The temperature wasn’t right. I put it on 350 degrees, but the calibration was off, and the oven’s temperature was off. I used a separate oven thermometer, and the oven was off by 25 degrees

You can calibrate some ovens, but I just used the thermometer to tell the difference in temperature and I was back to the grind making delicious bread once again.

If your oven is off, and a lot of them are, it’s going to be problematic.

Another mistake I learned from my grandmother, and it’s so simple, too: stop opening the oven door. You let a lot of the hot air escape the oven when you open the door, which causes the bread to bake improperly and causes the oven to work in overdrive.

Bread Baking Secret #4: Use a Digital Scale

Baking with confidence requires you to use a digital scale. The best bakers in the world know that even a slight variation in an ingredient’s quantity can lead to a major difference in the chemical reaction in the bread.

And if you just “eye” your ingredients, it’s no wonder that they never come out right.

You need to measure your ingredients using a scale. And I am sorry, but you need to also measure in grams. Trust me, it’s so much easier and it makes an immediate impact on your baking.

Scales are the difference between consistency and chaos.

If you measure all of your ingredients by weight, you’ll be able to make sure that the same recipe tastes the same the next time you follow it.

Bread making is an art, and it’s all a matter of taste. Something I learned on my travels to Italy is that the way Italians make bread is a lot different than the way Americans make bread. The sweetness isn’t part of the Italian bread making ritual. Not at all.

And the taste is much earthier in Italy than it is in the U.S.

But it’s all a matter of taste. Experiment, add ingredients and find the bread taste that makes your mouth water.

 

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Our Little Angel At 12 Weeks

Our little bubba is now 12 weeks and 3 days old. How fast time flies! We have to wait until the 20th week to know the gender but we are praying it will be a baby girl. Everyone we know hopes for a baby girl too. I can never be more excited.

Last time we went for my prenatal checkup, my OB tried to listen to the baby’s heartbeat using the doppler but we can’t hear it. She said it was probably too early to detect the heartbeat so she did a quick pelvic ultrasound just to make sure that the baby is okay and is alive. The baby was sleeping so we can’t really see any movement. My OB tried to prod my abdomen gently and the baby moved a little. What a relief to find out it’s okay.

Week-11-Baby-Size-Comparison

According to Babycenter.com, at this age, the baby is already the size of a lime. Great improvement. Last week, it was just the size of a brussel sprout. It weighs about half an ounce and measures around a little over 2 inches. It is looking more human every week. It got reflexes now. The eyes have moved from the sides to the front of the head. The ears are now in place as well.

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As for me, I am beginning to feel morning sickness. I know it’s late since I am already about to start my second trimester. I haven’t had any morning sickness during my first trimester so I must be a late bloomer! Heartburn has become more and more intense now. And talk about frequent trip to the bathroom especially early in the morning!

I have no particular craving for food but I want cold drinks always. It’s hard to pin this down to pregnancy since it is full Summer here so I am thinking I will still crave for cold drinks even if I am not pregnant.

My tummy is getting bigger now. I am running out of clothes that fit me.

My family has been nothing but very supportive and helpful at this stage. I thank the Lord for the gift of family to help me get through this exciting but scary journey.

 

How to Grow Your Hair Back After Pregnancy

Isn’t it the most annoying thing in the world when you have just gone through the pain and the stress of giving birth, and you come out of it thinking that it’s over, but it’s not? This can be the case for thousands of women out there who experience post-partum baldness. According to leading hair loss treatment providers, this is a condition where the body, in response to the trauma you suffered during your pregnancy, kills off your hair cells. This can lead to hair fall, loss, and possible baldness. This is completely temporary, but can still be another cause of stress you simply don’t need right now. Here are some useful ways to avoid losing more hair and to try and grow back what you’ve lost right now.

Stop Doing the Turban Thing

As women, we love wrapping our hair in the towel after a shower to get rid of all the water and look pretty awesome while doing it. However, wrapping your wet hair in the towel, twisting it, and moving it everywhere can be very bad for your hairline. In fact, the state of your hair right now following your pregnancy means it is extremely likely to just break off. All your body’s nutrition is being siphoned off to make milk, plus you’re dealing with so much stress. This towel treatment will increase how much of your hair breaks off every day. Having a turban without twisting your hair in the towel is no better – anything that stretches your hair can break it quite easily. Comb your hair out after your shower instead, or try breaking out the blow-dryer.

Get Rid of Ponytails

You’ve probably seen the Mommy Makeover websites with the pretty young things running on a treadmill with their hair in a ponytail. Well, actual post-partum weight loss and the rest of it isn’t nearly as clean as that. Don’t do your hair up in a ponytail. These hairdos truly do pull your hairline back to the point that in their weakened state they simply break off and die. You can try using clips and headbands if you want to work out while mothering your newborn. Just avoid any hairstyles that put stress on your weakened hairs.

Do Away with the Ends

Almost all hair breakage starts when your ends begin to split. Split ends can be treated by trimming the hairs with them regularly. This keeps the rest of the hair healthy and strong (or as strong as they can be right now). You should also look into conditioning treatments with natural conditioners, either with your hair stylist or at home alone. The salon can be a little hard to fit into the schedule what with the rest of your new tasks at home.

Getting your hair to stop being so flimsy is hard when you’re a new mom. However, you can prevent it from breaking apart in your hands every time you touch it. The key to growing your hair back after pregnancy is to stop letting it fall in the first place!

Great Travel Ideas for Valentine’s Day

As the day of love gets closer, there are a number of things you can do to make a great Valentine’s Day for both you and your loved one. Step up the regular dinner date or night out with a bit of travel for the two of you and go somewhere special!

Cruises

Cruises can be a great trip idea for a couple, because you get to be isolated on a ship for as long as you can go! This means that the two of you can enjoy time to yourselves while also enjoying the amenities and activities on the ship. While it may be a big ship, if you go just the two of you, it can be like just the two of you are there.

You can enjoy romantic, isolated evenings on your own. You can get dinner together, spend time in your cabin alone,  and time out doing other activities available. There are a wide range of activities available on cruise ships, some of which are specifically geared towards couples. Even ones that aren’t can be great for couples. No matter what you like to do, you’ll be sure to find something fun and exciting to do.

Ski Lodge/Cabin

A ski lodge or cabin can also make a great romantic getaway for a couple. It provides privacy and intimacy, and depending on where you go, it can also have a stunning view. On top of making for a romantic and private trip for Valentine’s Day, it gives you a chance to enjoy activity and adventure while doing so. If you’re more interested in activities than relaxing, you can combine the best of both worlds by enjoying a weekend or few nights at a ski resort or cabin.

Property Booking Websites

Enjoying an extravagant trip like a cruise or ski resort isn’t always necessary though, you are just as likely to have an enjoyable time renting a private property out using a service like Airbnb or something similar. The great part about getting something like this is that it’s much more affordable than some other travel options.

These types of trips also offer you privacy and intimacy. They gives you a chance to be alone and go at your own pace, allowing you the freedom to do what you want with your time together. You can pick a location with a great view and enjoy a night of privacy together. You can spend the day before and after exploring the local area and visiting destinations nearby. If you want to just stay in and enjoy your time together, don’t bother leaving at all.

These various property booking websites, such as Airbnb and Tripping.com, offer affordable, cute, and intimate properties for you and your partner to share. You can create a private, romantic vacation from home that still offers you the freedom to do what you want with your time and relax.

Make this Valentine’s Day special by stepping up your typical celebration by traveling together. Instead of the traditional dinner and jewelry, create lasting memories by going on a vacation together, enjoying an intimate experience together.

6th Week – Pregnancy and Heartburn

It’s my 6th week of pregnancy and I have been experiencing heartburn. Since the first few weeks of my pregnancy, I always feel bloated. I have done a few readings and I learned that heartburn is to be expected in early pregnancy. My stomach feels really hard and I keep on burping.

There are foods to avoid during pregnancy. These foods trigger acid reflux. But in my experience, everything that I eat causes heartburn! What to eat now????

If you are pregnant too and experiencing what I am going through, here are some information that will help you better understand the reasons behind heartburn in early pregnancy. I found them really helpful and hopefully, you learn from them too.

In early pregnancy, heartburn is caused by the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the uterine muscles to fit your growing baby – and also relaxes the valve between the esophagus and the stomach. – http://www.thebump.com

 

One of the key contributing factors to experiencing more gas during pregnancy is the increased levels of progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone that causes the muscles throughout your body to relax. … This allows gas to build up easier and creates bloating,burping and of course flatulence. – americanpregnancy.org

Heartburn (also called acid indigestion or acid reflux) is a burning sensation that often extends from the bottom of the breastbone to the lower throat. It’s caused by some of the hormonal and physical changes in your body. During pregnancy, the placenta produces the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus. This hormone also relaxes the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, allowing gastric acids to seep back up, which causes that unpleasant burning sensation. Progesterone also slows down the wavelike contractions of your esophagus and intestines, making digestion sluggish. Later in pregnancy, your growing baby crowds your abdominal cavity, pushing the stomach acids back up into the esophagus. – babycenter.com

Remember the old wives tale that heartburn causes hairy baby? Well, this is me right now:

Image result for acid reflux early pregnancy meme

Well, let’s see if the heartburn will go away in the next few weeks. I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

 

 

 

5th Week – Pregnancy Surprise

What a surprise when I found out I was expecting last Feb 28. I had a one day spotting on February and as I realized it was already the end of the month, I was scared I might have some sort of physical illness so I planned to get checked the next day. I told my husband maybe I should do a pregnancy test first to rule out pregnancy from my reasons of missed period. We were totally not expecting pregnancy because after 14 years, who would have thought this will be a possibility?

So I took the pregnancy test almost a hundred percent sure it will be negative but to my surprise, it was positive! I was shocked and didn’t know what to say. Equally shocked was my husband, my son, and the rest of my family! I think I’m too old to still get pregnant. I am 35 and God has a surprising way of putting me on the last trip to motherhood.

So to confirm the result, we went to 2 Ob-gynes. Yes, I really wanted to make sure. I had 2 ultrasounds too which I realized may not be good for the baby but what’s done has been done. Anyway, here is the image of the ultrasound I had.img_6484

The baby is not yet visible as it is too early. On my first ultrasound, I was told that there was no baby yet, it was just the amniotic sac. The second ultrasound I had was transvaginal and I think it showed clearer result. The little white spot inside the black circle is apparently the tiny heartbeat of the baby. It was too early to actually see something.

From the ultrasound, it was determined that I am on the fifth week of pregnancy. I haven’t had any major discomfort. I feel a little sick in the morning, like I have a fever or stuffed nose but apart from that there is nothing major discomfort that I feel.

I was asked to take folic acid and hormone replacement supplement which I always forget to take. Perhaps this is one of the effects of pregnancy, I am more forgetful now.

I was also asked to drink pregnancy milk which is such a pain to take. I don’t like the taste but hey, I have to do it, right?

I don’t have any food cravings but my son was craving for pasta yesterday. Is it possible that he’s the one craving for me? I remember when I was pregnant with my son, my husband was the one craving for food and not me. It’s an old wives tale that if you walk over someone during pregnancy, that person will be the one craving and not you. I know there is no logic to it but who knows? LOL

This has all been a surprise to me and I hope to document my journey to help expectant mothers too. We can all learn from each other.

Why You Should Rent Out Your First Home

So, you’re looking for your very first home to buy and live in. Maybe you should put the thought of living in it aside and consider renting it out instead. Investment properties are a very lucrative market right now, according to thepattisallgroup.com. More people are deciding to purchase homes in order to rent them out as soon as they do. Now, the majority buys their first home (and sometimes their second) before investing in a property like this. You should seriously think about starting before this. Here’s why investing in real estate for rent early on is a good option.

You’re Young, Wild, and Free

As a young person, the feeling of independence is exhilarating, to say the least. You are finally the master of your own destiny. You make the rules, no one else. You can live wherever you feel like living, buy whatever you want to, and go wherever the world takes you. However, this freedom can start to taste a little stale pretty fast, especially when deep down you know that you want something else.

You could take all the money that you’re spending on temporary pleasures right now and spend it on an investment in your future. You can start saving and building your credit right now – it isn’t as impossible a task as you might think. Both these actions will help you be more eligible for mortgages in the future. While the life you’re living right now might be fun, battening the hatches and saving hard can make for a ton of secure fun in the future.

Investing in Property Right Now Saves Money

Home prices are constantly on the rise, aren’t they? Every time you do research, that’s the one theme that recurs every single time. The cost of living is increasing like never before. However, there are many people who haven’t been able to afford the cost of living and have had their homes foreclosed. These homes are sold at auction by the banks that repossessed them to the highest bidder. The sales are fast and easy, and the prices are significantly less than their actual value because banks want liquid assets. You could purchase a foreclosed house as an investment property for a low price, as long as you check it and make sure you can afford it first.

Extra Income is Always Welcome

When you start renting your first house out, you get to supplement your income with more. The profits are vast, and allow you to pay off debts you didn’t think you could. You can even use the rent payments to help pay off the mortgage on the house, killing two birds with one stone and setting you up for ownership of a mortgage-free property in the future.

People are moving to the suburbs more often today. You have the opportunity to capitalize on it by allowing your first house purchase to be a rental. Consider the many benefits, weigh them against the risks, and make the right choice for yourself and your bank account today.

 

Where Lawyers Do What They Do

No two lawyers are the same. In TV and movies, you see them all doing the same thing each time. They are always running to trials and standing in front of juries. Most lawyers only go to trial when necessary. There are many places for them to work and many specialities they work in their fields. From personal injury lawyers at firms like http://pacelawfirm.com/blog/know-hire-personal-injury-lawyer/ and more, the diversity is vast indeed.

    1. The Different Specializations of Lawyers

There is a specialization in law that enables an attorney to work trials alone. In trial law, this can be either civil or criminal in nature. There is also appellate law, which allows them to help you out, if you are appealing a decision made by a court of justice. Other specializations include bankruptcy law, real estate law, trust law, tax law, communication, employment, labor, environment, healthcare, immigration, and much more. As many as there are cases in court, there are branches of law to deal with them too.

    1. Private Practice Lawyers

Almost all lawyers work in a private practice or firm. Many of these lawyers work on their own, having started a practice right after law school. Others tend to work in small enterprises with less than twenty lawyers first. The majority of lawyers work in businesses that employ hundreds of agents with multiple branches across the country. An associate is a newly hired lawyer. As they get cases and wins, they work their way up the ladder towards partnership.

Nearly all lawyers’ company eligibility is determined by how much they bring to the firm’s coffers.  They recognized that achievement through their maximized billable hours. They keep a record book that displays how much they billed their clients each day.

    1. Special In-House Attorneys

Some lawyers are employed solely by one client. They work in-house for that person. These lawyers are usually hired by large enterprises to handle any and all legal issues related to the business. The legal department in a larger company is typically pretty big, so lawyers from different specializations are hired to make a well-rounded team of attorneys who can tackle nearly any case that pops up.

Most in-house advocates gain their clients due to their experience working with them while at a firm. If they do their jobs well enough at this time, the company can ask them to work for them in-house. This is a very coveted position because the lawyers who work in this way don’t have to log billable hours – they are regularly paid by the company that hires them.

One last type of lawyer is the government agent. These are the attorneys employed by federal and state offices like the District Attorney’s Office. They are usually prosecutors in cases of “The People v. XXXXXXX”. These attorneys are also selected to represent clients in court trials where the defendant can’t afford a lawyer of their own. These aren’t the only places where legal advisers  work, of course, but they are the most common.

How to Prepare for the Arrival of Your Newborn

When it comes to your newborn baby, even before they arrive you’re ready to do anything for them. The excitement of having your child will be overwhelming and you should be able to enjoy it as much as possible!

That’s why we’re going to help you prepare for the arrival of your newborn. This way, you’ll be ready when they come and instead of scrambling to get prepared, you can enjoy this precious time with your little one!

Understand Maternity and Paternity Leave

When it comes to maternity and paternity leave, laws vary from state to state. It’s important to make sure that you understand what you’re entitled to where you live when it comes to maternity and paternity leaves. You can be given several weeks of paid leave and sometimes longer. First time parents often get 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

Whether your leave will be fully paid, partially paid, or unpaid and the length of time you’re given varies depending on where you live and some specific circumstances. Be sure to understand what you’re allowed and how it will work for you!

Lots of Poop

While you’ve been warned about how much of a mess your baby will be, nothing will prepare you for the mountains of poop that arrive with your baby. For such a small human, it’s actually pretty astonishing.

There are ways of getting ready for this before the baby arrives. This will help you keep your home less of a mess and much less stinky!

You’ll definitely want to stock up on diapers before they come so you’re ready. However, some babies are big and may skip the smallest sizes of diapers. Others will grow fast and grow out of a size fast. You don’t want to be stuck with diapers that won’t be used, so try to be conservative when stocking up on diapers as you don’t know what will fit properly (or for how long).

Another must-have is a diaper pail. These handy contraptions keep your baby’s waste in one place and help to control the odor effectively. This lets you get rid of odor problems more efficiently and make sure that it isn’t stuck in your home!

Budgeting and Expenses

There is no arguing that a baby costs a large sum of money. It’s important to consider the added expenses for when the baby arrives – including clothes, food, supplies, and extra gear – and prepare for them ahead of time. By planning ahead of time and knowing what to expect will help you budget properly for life with your new baby.

It will inevitably take some balancing and adjustments, as this is a big responsibility and huge burden. However, if you plan ahead, start early, and budget right, you’ll be prepared for the baby before it arrives!

By taking some steps to get ready before the arrival, you should be prepared and able to handle anything that comes your way. Don’t panic; breathe and keep pushing forward. Hopefully, preparing early will let you spend more time enjoying your child!