I feel like I am finally clawing my way out of my dark, cold den into the blistering sunlight of real life. Hiding out in our house is starting to drive me insane. So far, I’ve gotten by just leaving once a week to run to the store or visit family for a birthday, but it’s not enough anymore. And it’s not just me.
Parley is getting cabin fever, too. The past three days he has asked me if he can go play outside and each time it’s been a glacial 20 or so degrees outside. Each time I’ve seen that warmer days are coming later in the week, but so far, the prophecies of my weather app have yet to come to pass. My son has way too much practice coping with disappointment.
I know I should just take the time to bundle the chickens up and send them out, but last time I did that, everyone came back crying with wet, frozen fingers. And sickness.
We’ve been slowly working ourselves back into some sort of routine. We even managed to do some school this week and this evening the kids crafted some Valentine’s for their dad. I downloaded some snazzy clipart, brought out what I’ll call the “craft crate” and before long we had a mess of homemade stickers, lidless markers, cardstock with tiny cuts along one edge (courtesy of Vi’s smashing scissor skills), and a gluestick that was not supposed to be discovered. There were also googly eyes which everyone INSISTED had to be on their card for dad.
It cheered me up. They make me really happy. But their hard. Correction, being two must be hard, because Vi is really the one that is hard right now. Which is why I have been referring to her as my “troll year-old”. And sadly, she has stopped calling her brother “Parlow” and has transitioned to “Parley”. I should think this is awesome, but I confess, I always get a little sad when my kids figure this stuff out. Thankfully, there always seems to be something else.
Because Vi now answers nearly every question by saying “sure” in her scratchy toddler voice. And it usually doesn’t quite fit the situation which makes me smile. And she is fascinated by colors and has been trying to learn their names. You can imagine this makes me especially proud and excited.
Just like today when she spent some time alone with me at the table drawing our family. I have enjoyed spending time doing things with her so Parley can have some time to himself. Which I am just learning he really needs. He’s an incredible brother and does an amazing job of including her, but today he just needed to play Skylanders alone.
So, I got to play Hungry Hungry Hippos with Vi and I think it was the most fun I’ve had doing it.
One last note for my posterity, I found the most awesome soft pretzel recipe and have made them already like a bajillion times in the three weeks I’ve had my paws on it. So, that’s a thing, now. And here it is in case anyone needs to find it in the distant future. (Because I am totally imagining my daughters someday being like, “Do you have mom’s pretzel recipe?”, “No, but isn’t that dusty old blog still up?”)
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tbs unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour + up to 3/4 cup more if needed
- 2 cups water
- 4 tbs baking soda
- 1 tbs coarse salt, for sprinkling on top
- 6 tbs salted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees and line a large baking sheet or two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Combine yeast with warm water and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with hook attachment. Once mixture becomes "frothy" your yeast is ready. Stir in salt and melted butter. Add flour 1 cup at a time until a dough forms and is no longer sticky. You may need more or less depending on temperature differences. If you press your finger into the dough and it bounces back, it's ready to knead. Knead dough for 5 more minutes until smooth and pliable. Form dough into a ball and place it back into the bowl to rest for 15 minutes. During this time, prepare baking soda bath.
- In a medium sized pot, boil 2 cups of water with 4 tbs of baking soda. Once the baking soda is mostly dissolved, take mixture off heat and allow it to come down to a lukewarm temperature. Pour into a 9x9 baking dish once cooled down.
- At this time, 15 minutes of dough resting time should be up. Take dough out of the bowl and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Cut dough into 8 sections (like a pizza). Roll each triangle into a long rope, about 19-20 inches long. Shape dough into pretzel shape and place in baking soda bath for 2 minutes. If the whole pretzel isn't covered by the water, spoon it on top of the areas is doesn't reach. Once the 2 minutes is up, carefully pick pretzel up either by your hand or with the help of a fork and place on prepared baking sheet. You may have to re-shape slightly. Sprinkle the pretzel with coarse salt while still wet (optional). Repeat these steps until all 8 pretzels are prepared and on the baking sheet(s).
- Bake pretzels for 8-9 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately from the oven, brush (heavily) with melted butter.
- These homemade soft pretzels are best served hot and fresh out of the oven but will keep for about 2 days stored at room temperature in an airtight container. Pop them in the microwave and they're good as new!
- Make pretzel bites by cutting dough ropes into 1-2 inch pieces. Bake for 4-6 minutes.
- Don't feel bad if they don't look all fancy-like. They're tasty knots of doughy goodness.