Thursday, March 29, 2012

Baking with Honey

Last summer Matt and I bought a 12lb bucket (1 gallon) of honey from a local apiary. 
After years and years of strict veganism it was a purchase long in the making.  We'd contemplated, researched, and soul-searched for about six months on it.  We learned a lot about large-scale commercial honey production as well as the processes involved in the operations of local producers.  They were, unsurprisingly, drastically different. 

In the end I decided that the reason I'd gone vegan in the first place was because of the environmental implications of high-density, large-scale, chemically-intensive, agriculture.  I didn't want my food coming from factory farms that were trashing this planet I love so much (not to mention need in order for survival).  I didn't want my money going to the pockets of those that would allow such practices.  So I was a vegan.  But, though most people would still consider me one today I do not.  Honey would be a case in point. 

Purchasing honey from down the road makes so much more ecological sense than shipping in cane sugar or agave from south of the equator.  Bees are needed pollinators and I want to support people who are raising them.  The apiary we use actually considers the honey a sort of by-product business.  They make most of their money renting the bees out to farmers.  Honey also helps on sore throats and burns and has lots of good healing properties.  So, Matt and I bought the bucket and started eating honey again.  And we've never looked back. 

I don't want to follow anyone's party line blindly.  Not the vegans.  Not the politicians.  Not the church's.  Not anyone.  I want to puzzle it all out for myself.  What makes sense for me?  What makes sense for Montana?  What make sense for the future?  I want to come up with my own answers.  I will listen to what they all have to say, but in the end I will make the call.

So, now I am a so-called vegan that wears wool, eats honey, dreams of backyard chickens, and wears leather boots.  I've got peace with all that.

In the process of all this we did learn a thing or two about baking with honey and I thought maybe I'd share.

To Replace Sugar With Honey:
1. Substitute 2/3 - 3/4 cup of honey for every cup of sugar called for.  I tend towards the lower measurement.
2. Lower the baking temperature by 25 degrees F.
3. Decrease the amount of liquid called for by about 1/4 cup per cup of honey used.
4.  Watch closely, especially near the end, because things tend to brown up faster.

To Re-Liquify Granulated Honey:
Place the container in a pan of hot water and let it sit until the honey is liquid again.  Don't let the water boil though because I am told, by the local apiary, that it is bad for the flavor of the honey.

The bucket has been empty for a while now....I need to call up the bee keepers because I don't want to wait for farmer's market season!  I have sure grown to love my honey! 

The Seedling Nursery

We have a proper space for the seedling nursery this year.  Last year it was in the office/dining room/guest bedroom.  It was a bit cramped in there what with the table, the desk, the hide-a-bed, AND the lights and shelves for the wee seedlings.  One more thing that we finally have appropriate space for....not that we let it stop us when we really didn't have the space!
Isn't it incredible and fascinating that even when they are only an inch tall the stems of the rainbow chard are already different colors?
We marked and drilled some holes into the ceiling beams in the utility room and hung the grow lights from chains.  It is a great improvement from last year because we can shorten the chain--raising the lights--as the plant grow.  With long chains we can still have the light close to them now while they are small.
We use a seed heating mat and it really seems to speed things up.  Most of these seeds sprouted within a couple of days. It is really quite amazing how big of a difference soil temperature can make.  It is also amazing how much cheaper it is to start from seed, especially if you save seed.  Its crazy.
We've started off with a few varieties each of kale, chard, spinach, and eggplant, perhaps an obscene number of types of basil and tomatoes, as well as cauliflower, and probably a thing or two that I am overlooking.  Here is hoping for another successful gardening year!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Few of My Favorite (indoor) Things

A window over the kitchen sink so I can watch the birds and the trees while I wash and so that strong natural light falls on the dishes making it much easier to do a good job.  In the old kitchen the sink was on an interior wall and the only light (both natural and electric) was all from behind you casting your shadow over the sink.  It was a bad set up.  While I realize that a window over the sink is very common, but I am absolutely in love with mine because I've been so long washing dishes in shadow.

A spacious side by side fridge and freezer where we can open the door ALL the way.  In the old kitchen the space and design was lacking in such a way that the fridge door was partially blocked by the counter making it harder to get to things on the right side or in the back.  I never realized what a pain it was until I got a new fridge with doors that swing open wide if need be.  The freezer was also large enough that we were able to empty our chest freezer into it as well.  We probably won't need the chest freezer except for in the peak of harvest season.

My mom was a big fan (no pun intended) of ceiling fans. She installed them in just about every room possible when I was growing up. I've recently learned that Matt is a big ceiling fan fan, too.  We have one over the bed which will be very well received on warmer nights so we aren't so tempted to crank up the central air conditioning that we now have access to.  I like the ceiling fans because just a slight breeze can make so much difference.

The whole front of the living room is windows.  After nearly six years in the rather dark rental (which had nine windows total) I am just beside myself with joy over the light.  I think my houseplants are pretty happy, too!  This photo in no way does the brightness of the living room justice.

There are lots of sunny windows in other rooms too, and hooks for the ceiling for plant baskets.  It makes me crazy happy for some reason.  I don't know if its just the sunniness or if there is more to it, but I am stoked.

A coat closet!  Right by the front door!  It is these little things, like the sink window, that make me the happiest. 

It was agreed on long before we bought the house that when we finally did find The One we were also going to buy a new bed--frame, mattress, and box spring.  Oh, man!  Matt and I both have been sleeping so incredibly good it is just unbelievable.  Even Matt is having a hard time prying himself from bed in the morning, which is pretty out of character for him.  We've never had a new bed together.  We'd been sleeping on an old mattress (from Matt's brother) on the floor for the last five years--no box spring, no frame, just the mattress.  So I probably don't need to say that we've seriously, seriously upgraded. 
We found a stereo cabinet for a very, very reasonable price at Goodwill.  I'm guessing there aren't as many people in the market for stereo cabinets as say, TV stands which were priced much higher.  It sure looks a lot sharper and now everything is better protected from dust.  Also now the end tables can actually be end tables again.
One of my mother's house-warming gift to me was a sewing table.  I am ridiculously happy to have a dedicated room for crafting and music making.  I am willing to bet I do a lot more sewing now that it is all set up and ready to go at any time.  It sure beats lugging everything out of the closet just to do a little mending or something.  Maybe I'll practice my flute more too as I've got the music stand ready and waiting in the corner by the window.  But, I've found little time for either so far as I've been pretty preoccupied with getting settled.


Val does the happy dance after putting on her new bumper sticker:  "It has become exceedingly clear, that our technology has surpassed our humanity."
Val's chess gameface.
Keleigh, playing in my back yard.  It was one of those days that was windy enough the bubbles kept blowing themselves, much to her delight.
And helping Matt clear out some overgrown flowerbeds.  My mother took us on a flowerbed walking tour pointing out all the perennials we had out there.  Matt and I know nearly nothing about flower gardening because we had such limited space at the rental we never really grew any.  Moms are an awesome resource for so many things.
Keleigh likes to be a foot stool, don't ask me why.
We had a couple visitors over the past week.  It was so nice to see them all and everyone is super excited for us about the new house, which is also nice.  I must confess that I don't mind "giving the tour" and showing it off a little.  We're so happy about it. 

My girlfriend Val who now lives all the way over in Arkansas was visiting her mother in Wyoming and was able to sneak off for a day to come play with me.  I likewise was able to sneak off from work for the afternoon to play with her.  We actually ended up visiting three other friends at their places of work because they aren't blessed with jobs where you can just take a day off on a whim like I am.  Man, I am so lucky in that regard. 

Then my mother, sister, and niece stopped by for the weekend and I was able to put the new spare bedroom to use.  Oh, it is awesome in a way I never expected to have a spare bedroom.  We did a bit of second-hand shopping, soaked in the hot tub, laughed, ate pizza, and in general had a good time together.

Goodness, I am blessed with fabulous friends and family.  And it is sure nice to have more room for them to come and stay!


As far back as I can remember I've always thought that the Serenity Prayer was possibly the best Christian prayer I knew.  My mom had a little plaque of it in the bathroom that I saw every day when I was growing up.  That plaque now lives with me at my house which I quite like. 

As it turns out, I've learned that there are a couple extended versions of the prayer that I had never heard as a youth.  I think I like it even better now.
 God, grant us the...Serenity to accept things we cannot change, Courage to change the things we can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.  Patience for the things that take time, Appreciation for all that we have, and Tolerance for those with different struggles.    Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the Ability to feel your love for us and our love for each other, and the  Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless. 
That is good stuff, no matter your religious affiliation, in my humble opinion.

Eat Your Breakfast!

I think that just about everyone knows you’re “supposed” to eat breakfast.  That breakfast is the way to start the day.   It’s sort of like everyone knows they’re “supposed” to exercise, but not everyone does.

Until the fall of 2011 I was one of the countless, who despite what they know about the importance of breakfast, still don’t eat it.  I just about never ate breakfast…or sometimes I’d eat a piece of fruit or something small at my desk around 10am when I realized I was hungry, but that it was too early to eat lunch and so I’d call that breakfast. 
Beginning to eat breakfast at the start of the day was a sort of game-changer for me.  It really surprised me, too.  I don’t know why.  It seems so obvious.  Why start a trip on low fuel and see how far you can go before running out?  Why not just fill up the tank at the beginning of the trip to ensure things run smoothly throughout?
I feel livelier now, especially in the morning.  I have more energy throughout the day.  I don’t need a mid-morning snack and a mid-afternoon snack (which was more like a mini-dinner before real dinner) because my belly is full from the meals I should have been eating all along.  I thought I needed those “snacks,” but I think now that they were just my meals being shifted about in compensation.   Starting the day on full has made a huge difference.
 Memory can be faulty, and people can change, but as I remember it at least half of my immediate family was (or is) breakfast skippers.   We, in general, weren’t a breakfast eating family.  When I did have breakfast during my school days it was never much and never very varied—a quick bowl of cereal or a toaster strudel maybe—and then only if I woke up in time to fit it in before school.  (That was junior high and high school.  I don’t recall breakfast prior to that, but it is possible that when I was very young I did eat breakfast.)  As far back as I can remember though I’ve always been that way—a non-breakfast person.  I just didn’t feel hungry right away in the morning and by the time I was hungry lunch seemed close enough to wait for.
I don’t even remember why or when eating breakfast started for me.  But, I do remember my shock at waking one morning in this past January with my stomach growling for breakfast.  I wasn’t even awake for five minutes before I declared we needed to make breakfast because I was very, very hungry.  That had never happened before.  I’ve never been the type to be hungry right off.  Like most things though, with a little reconditioning I changed what I thought was just the unalterable way things were.
I started small, which is the ticket to success with lifestyle changes if you ask me.  I started with a smoothie.  It is fast and easy to make with variations as endless as your imagination.  It was easy to get down, even when I wasn’t very hungry.  It made me feel good to start my day with cups of fruit and milk.   If I didn’t eat another piece of fruit all day at least I had that.  Nowadays I have a smoothie with the rest of my breakfast, not as a stand-alone, but it was a great way to start conditioning myself to eat in the morning.  I like to mix it up now and have found a number of quick, easy, and satisfying breakfast options—oatmeal, hash browns, fruit, cereal, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, fried potatoes, yogurt, scones, waffles, vegetable hash, etc.
I can’t say I never skip breakfast.  In fact that is what spurred on this post.  A few days ago I missed it for no reason in particular that I can remember.  And all day I felt fairly famished.  It was like I was behind and couldn’t get caught up.  The result:  After I got home from work I ate a full meals worth of food…before even having dinner.   It didn’t feel good and I don’t think I’ll be doing it again anytime soon.  It was a good reminder.  We need those sometimes to help keep us on track.

Monday, March 26, 2012

For Kristi

It is a sad day on campus today.  Our chaplain passed away this morning.  She was diagnosed with cancer last May and put on a heck of fight and really brave face throughout.  Her death is causing a a tremendous shock on campus.  Even though she was ill I don't think many, myself included, expected this to happen, let alone so quickly. 

Thursday we were warned that she may only have a week or two if they couldn't get her infection under control.  I couldn't believe it.  She had seemed like she was fighting the cancer well.  Her form of cancer was so "highly treatable."  Just last month she and a student who is also fighting cancer organized a fund raiser where around 30 folks shaved their heads to raise money for cancer research and donate hair to Lock of Love.  She was so helpful and involved on campus and in the larger community, even all the way through her illness as much as she was able.  It was such a shock to learn this morning that she is gone.  It is such a loss to so many people--her husband (they were just married this summer and he also works on campus), to the students, to her co-workers, to her extended family, to the spiritual community which she lead and participated in, the social justice movements she was active in, to our community, our whole world.  It is such a loss of goodness.  She was bringing so much positive into this world.  I just cannot believe that her time for good works is already over.  I do trust her spirit of good works will continue after her though because of all the souls she touched, like mine.  None the less the day feels a little emptier.  Kristi is gone?  I never really got to say goodbye.  I just can't believe it.

We'll be planting a tree at Earth Day which will now be dedicated in her honor.  I first got to know Kristi through our mutual involvement in the campus Green Group so this seems a quite fitting memorial.   She would like it too, I think.

I just can't believe I will never hear her suggestions at another Green Group meeting.  Or that we'll never get to do our Wednesday afternoon knitting circle (which Kristi started) with her again (I wonder if the circle will disband altogether, and vow that it shouldn't, but Kristi was the glue.).  Or that she won't be sitting at the entrance of the student union building handing out free cookies on Mondays.

I try to remind myself that there is a time for all things--joy and sorrow, planting and reaping, laughing and crying, being born and dying--and though it is heart-breaking this was her time to leave us.  That while we're sad we should also be glad to have known her.  I am also glad her pain has ended and that her family was with her at the end.  I keep praying her husband, who has been so strong throughout all of the cancer treatment, finds the strength he needs to get through this now, too.

I will close with a poem that brings me great comfort in these sort of times.  I'll keep it in mind when I feel myself start to get a little overcome with the sadness and the I-don't-understand-whyness of it all.
Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
And so may our kind, generous Kristi live on, in peace and happiness. 

Live you life to the fullest, friends.  For who knows what tomorrow might bring.

A Simple Woman's Daybook for March 26, 2012

A Simple Woman's Daybook for March 26, 2012

Outside my window...the sun is trying to burn off the grey clouds and I noticed that the grass is a bit green already!

I am thinking....I have so many projects to work on I am not sure where would be the best place to start.

I am thankful for...having more space, including a spare bedroom, so that I can have three house guests and not feel like we are walking all over each other or having to tip-toe around in the morning while they are still sleeping.

From the kitchen...comes much rejoicing over the fact I now have a window to look out while I wash dishes!  What a world of difference!

I am wearing... a long grey dress with embroidery work over long-johns, knee-high socks, sandals.

I am creating... a necklace for Adam, a skirt for tie-dying, a home.

I am work in the yard, uncovering leaf-filled and overgrown flowerbeds, after I get off work.  It is going to be awesome. 

I am reading...A Day in the Life of the Amish in print and Mockingjay in audiobook.

On my mind... is how I am getting better at taking unexpected changes to my plans and schedule in stride.  I used to get all hung up with “I was supposed to do X, Y, Z, but then such-and-such happened and I couldn’t so now I didn’t get anything done!”   I’m glad that I am getting better at it.  I think it is a very useful skill--going with the flow.

Around the house... oh, don’t even get me started….

One of my favorite things... flying kites. 

A few plans for the rest of the flower beds, baking Derek a birthday cake, re-framing concert posters, finishing Adam’s necklace and mailing in back to him, hanging all our picture frames and tapestries, doing my taxes, and whatever else I can fit in.

A small window into my life...
Keleigh and "Uncle Matt" trimming back a rose bush.
This format come from the Simple Woman blog.

Two-Toned Bread (Spiral Bread)

Two-Tone Bread (from The Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Cookbook)

5 ¼ to 5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 Tablespoon salt
3 Tablespoons dark molasses
2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour

In a large mixing bowl combine 3 cups of the all-purpose (AP) flour and the yeast. 
In a saucepan heat together the milk, sugar, shortening, and salt until just warm (115-120 degrees F), stirring constantly to melt the shortening.  Add to dry mixture in mixing bowl.  
Beat at low speed with electric mixer for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly.
Beat three minutes at high speed. 
Divide dough in half.  To one half, stir in enough of the remaining AP flour  to make a moderately stiff dough.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about five to eight minutes.  Shape into ball.  Place in well-greased bowl, turning once, and set aside.  To remaining dough, stir in molasses and whole wheat flour.  Turn out onto lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic, about five to eight minutes, kneading in enough additional AP flour (about three Tablespoons) to make a moderately stiff dough.  Shape into a ball.  Place dough in well-greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. 
Let both doughs rise in warm place until doubled ( 60 to 75 minutes). 
Punch doughs down; cover and let rest 10 minutes. 
Roll out half the light dough and half the dark dough, each to a 12x8 inch rectangle.  Place dark dough atop light and roll up tightly into a loaf, beginning at the short side.  Repeat with remaining doughs. 
Place in two greased loaf pans.  Cover.  Let rise until doubled (45 to 60 minutes).  Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove.  Cool. 
Makes two loaves.

Photo from the book of the layering and rolling process.
This bread is one of Matt's "special" breads, you know for those days where you just want something a little extra special.   It isn't really that much different than making standard wheat bread, but it looks rather fancy.  Kids love it.  People that don't bake bread are amazed by it.  And most importantly we think it is delicious!
For the record if you ever stumble upon this cookbook for sale someplace I'd suggest picking it up.  There are load of recipes to try and so far we've only found one that we didn't completely love.  (It was a yeasted banana bread which was okay, but not very banana flavored and not as good as our quick-bread version)
The two-toned bread makes really striking toast, if you ask me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Found Match

Matt has had a rather unremarkable, yet sturdy, wooden end table since before I met him.  Its always been a fixture in our living room from the first rental house to the apartment to the second rental house and now to our new home.  So, imagine my surprise and delight to find its identical matching pair left along the roadside half a block down from the new house the week we moved in.  I saw it on my bicycle ride to work and thought "If that's still there when I get home I am picking it up."  It still was and I did.  Now we have a matched set--perfect for housing the stereo.  And best of all, free.  I thought it was a bit uncanny.

Matt's New Garden

I am assistant gardener at our place.  Matt is head gardener.  That isn't really a disputable fact.  Matt has a gardening obsession that I do not share to a quite equal degree.  He is the one reading seed catalogs in December, for example.  He is the one who always adds some weird new novel plant to the growing repertoire (this year we're trying out fennel).  He is the one who reads Mother Earth News and Zone 4 and Home Hobby Gardener cover to cover.

Don't get me wrong.  I absolutely LOVE gardening.  I love digging into the cool earth with my hands.  I love planting a wee seed and nurturing it into the miracle of a food-giving plant.  Its astounding every single year.  I love harvesting from the garden and putting the harvest into a pan for dinner within minutes.  I love the food savings when you plant and save your own seeds, can and store your own food.  I love the better taste of the produce that comes from the garden and the confidence of knowing it is grown without poisons that harm the web of life of which I am very much a part (that fact is harder to ignore in the garden, too).  I love feeling connected to a simpler time and to the generations before me, back when just about everyone had a garden.  I even love cracking the riddle of what is causing garden damage (rabbits, slugs, grasshoppers) and trying to figure out a way to deal with them (again, without poisoning the neighborhood).  Its a brilliant puzzle.  It is a lot of fun and a lot of work, but it is more than worthwhile.  So, no question about it, I absolutely love gardening.  But, Matt is a man obsessed.  It is a whole different level of love and devotion.

And this year he has a whole new garden to work with that absolutely dwarfs our old garden space.  He is just about beside himself.  There is so much space!  So much space!  He can hardly wait to get at it.

We had another of those mornings yesterday where from the moment he was out of bed until the moment I left for work all he had to talk about was garden plans.  He's so cute when he is so tremendously excited like that.  He's just really dedicated to growing things.   (Have I mentioned he is trying to grow a pineapple?  He heard you could and so....why not?!)

This year the garden mania has gotten so bad that it made Matt late for work.  I thought it was a pretty great story and so I'll share.  He gets a break between shifts at work.  The break varies in length depending on how much work they have to do for the day.  Rather than drive the eight+ miles home and back on break he take a snack and something to read or work on.  Yesterday he became so engrossed that he forgot to go back inside to work.  He failed to notice all his co-workers filing past him and back into the warehouse.  He was sitting in his car busily planning transplant dates and plotting things on his sketch-up of the garden space.  He had no idea he was even late until he caught some motion in his peripheral vision and looked up to see his supervisor, Dominic, standing on the inside of the fence that separates the warehouse lot from the employee parking lot waving his arms at him, flagging him down as it were.  Matt said he had to apologize and felt rather silly about the whole thing.  I thought it was quite amusing.  I mean he was late for work, but he'd actually been there the whole time!  It wasn't like he ran home and got caught in traffic or something.  The really amazing part is that Matt is a quite punctual person, especially when it comes to work and professional engagements.  Dominic wasn't mad, but told Matt they had just grown concerned that something had happened to him when he didn't come back.  I laughed and laughed when he told me.  His transplant list was only part way done too.  "Imagine how late I would have been if they hadn't come looking for me!?"

Well, Dominic was right in a way.  Something has happened to Matt alright.  Its that Gardening Madness again, an especially bad case.  But, not to worry.  Its a seasonal thing.  Happens every year and he always manages to recover.  : )

As I told a friend this week, at least he is obsessed with something that put food on the table.  That makes it more than a-okay with me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beautiful Birds and A Beautiful Woman

Matt and took a break from the unpacking and cleaning to take a little walk at Riverfront Park, one of our favorite places in town for a stroll. 
There are small lakes and ponds which are always plentiful with waterfowl.  Canada geese, mallards, a wood duck, strange hybrid ducks of various colors, great blue herons.  There are paths through the trees and shrubbery where countless birds call and flit past.  Black-capped chickadees, catbirds, yellow warblers, downy woodpeckers, yellow breasted chats.
We go bird watching there quite regularly.  Its the sort of place we can go for just an hour or for a whole day.  There are always wildlife to watch and beauty to behold.
On this particular trip we spotted beauty of a totally different sort that what we usually find out there.  A young Native American woman in full garb. 
She was standing by the lake shore performing sign language to Christian music which was loudly playing from a nearby vehicle.  Another woman was videotaping her.
Perhaps it is overly romantic of me, but I've always found the natives' style of dress so lovely and appealing. The beads, the feathers, the detail, the bells, the feel. We stopped to watch her and listen for a bit.
Set to music, with graceful, sweeping arm motions, with the wind shifting the streamers from her sleeves, and the glory of the sunshine and nature all around her I couldn't think of anything else but "beautiful."

The beautiful birds are always there, for which I am ever grateful for my world would be so much the worse without them, but this young woman stole the show for the day.  But, shhhhhhhh, don't tell my sweet avian friends.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Buds and Snow

Just yesterday Matt was in the garden in shorts and a t-shirt spading up earth, pruning overgrown trees, removing debris left by the previous owner of our house.

We talked about how everything seemed to be budding out.  I'd noticed it on my walk on Friday.  The bushes that border our driveway were also covered in little buds of green.  Tulips are poking through in our new flowerbeds.

Spring seems to be here, though we never really had a winter to speak of this year.
This morning I woke to water dripping sometime around 3am.  I am not yet used to the noises of the new house and so I couldn't get past it-- fearing that a faucet was dripping or that something else might be leaking.  So I got up to investigate.  As I passed the window I realized the dripping was actually from rain. Cool.  I'd much prefer rain to snow at this point in the year.

I woke to ready myself for work around 6am and lo and behold.  It had snowed...and was still snowing.

The wee buds looked so much happier in the first two photos, don't you think?!

That's Montana for you, I suppose. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Bit of Silliness

Moving does have its fun moments.  Like when you are given a humongous black box that more than one person suggests looks like a coffin.  It was a really, really big box.  Feeling a bit silly I said to Matt, "I bet I could fit in that." 
 And I did.  I tried to get Matt to give it a try, but he declined saying he'd probably ruin the box.
In the end in made a fabulous box for moving clothes since it was the perfect width to accommodate hangers.