Thursday, March 15, 2018

Permission to not finish...

Finishing is one of the things I am determined to do. I'm a finisher. When I start something I'm focused on how to get it done and how to complete it and not leave it unfinished. Case in point: when I host a party and it is over, I immediately get to work picking up, putting the house back to order, doing the dishes, tidying, etc. After all that, I sit down and enjoy how clean our house is, the fun time we had, look at the pictures, etc.

This week, I'm giving myself permission to not finish two things and they are both essentially the same. Books.

Is this hard for you too? Here's the thing. I want to read two non-fiction books that I've already started from the library. But, it feels like work to read these books. I'm just not getting into them and I'm not energized or fed by them. I had to stop and ask myself why I was pushing so hard to make it happen when I'm really not even making a whole lot of progress on them or getting much out of them.

After a busy day, I love to read - look forward to it even. But then to slog through a book that may be a great book but just isn't for me for right now just feels like too much.

So, I'm setting them aside. I'll probably just go ahead and return them to the library. It is one of those things where I want to want to read and enjoy certain books but let's face it - it just doesn't always work out that way. There is a time and place for pushing through and just making it happen. I'm not sure it is books. At least not for me and not right now.

With so many great books to read, why add more stress and work to an already busy day? Ok, so now I've confessed something I'm not finishing - how about you? Is not finishing a book an easy thing for you to set aside or not? Or what is your thing that you can give yourself permission not to finish?

Since I'm sure you'll all be curious - the two books are: Beatrix Potter - A Life in Nature and Being Mortal - Medicine and What Matters in the End. Instead, I picked up A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge and it is just the kind of book I'll want to stay up late reading!

Amazon affiliate links provided.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Slow Day

Homemade Granola for breakfast.
Morning Bible reading and Hymn singing!
Awana Grand Prix cars: aircraft carrier and pineapple! Samuel won third place in design for his!
Muffin helper.
Essentials - learning to pull out everything we can from each word of a sentence.
Reading and drawing Peter Rabbit. Recently Rachel and I were talking about Beatrix Potter and her little characters and she didn't know who they were! #momfail SO! We had to fix that with a tea party and art lesson!
Do not underestimate breakfast at any time of the day. Cream Scones, Blueberry Muffins, cooked cinnamon apples, scrambled eggs and bacon plus a pot of hot tea.
Also. Apparently pinecones are delicious - just ask Scout.
Emily found a few blooms around the yard and took these photos.
Rachel appointed herself the laundress - she ironed, folded and then tied with twine each person's stack of laundry. I mean, really. #adorbs
Sunset, pretty sky and menu planning during ballet.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Bread Progress

You may have noticed on my monthly goals that I've been working on getting a sourdough starter going and wanting to make bread.

I've done a starter before and tried bread before with basically zero success. I mean, the starter was healthy but we didn't like how it tasted, my bread was not tasty or pretty and after trying pancakes, biscuits, waffles and english muffins - I think we liked maybe two of those things. Just wasn't working for me - so I let that starter die.

But. The desire to figure it out hasn't gone away and just kept hanging around. Putting it on my goals did really help give me some sort of deadline even if it was only self-imposed. It gave me some motivation to take steps to get going and make some sort of progress.

Meanwhile, a fellow CC mama told me about this Oregon Trail sourdough that you could order for merely the cost of a self-addressed stamped envelope. It seemed worth a try for such a low investment.

Anxiety kind of came in with the starter. I mean, there are so many differing opinions on how to care for a starter, when to feed it, how much to feed it, etc. All of that was sort of overwhelming but I hobbled along with that.

Also - I adopted a bread mentor which just means that I have a friend who makes gorgeous looking sourdough and I sent her a bunch of questions which she patiently answered and helped me through.

Starters need to be at least two weeks old to bake from and finally hitting that mark last week - I took all of the collected tips, advice and recipe and made this beautiful loaf of bread. Needless to say, I was giddy, proud, happy, excited. All of it. What a good feeling.

Better still, it tastes beautiful and my whole family loves it. I wondered if I could do it a second time? {yes, in case you're wondering!} And now I can't wait to try it for toast, grilled cheese, croutons and everything else.

I'm not feeling practiced enough yet to really share a bunch of details and really they aren't mine to share since I learned all of this from a sweet Insta-friend.

A few key things I was doing wrong though were helpful to trouble shoot.

First of all, I realized that not all sourdough starters are created equal. The one I had a couple of years ago was just very different than this one. It was fed instant potato flakes and we didn't like the flavor or taste of it. This one is simply a tiny bit of the starter I received in the mail plus water and flour. That's it.

Next, I was adding way too much flour. The dough is very sticky and to make that more manageable I was adding flour which was changing the texture and content of the dough. Lesson learned. Huge tip I also gained from my bread-mentor is to use wet hands, wet counter, wet tools to prevent sticking. It works like a charm!

I was also shaping my dough too soon and then it wasn't retaining its shape. Literally, this is shaped, scooped onto parchment and put in a hot cast iron dutch oven all in a minute or two and then baked. It has held its shape SO much better because of this.

This has been a very life-giving experience for me. Considering it is something I've wanted to do for a long time and it has not been easy in coming - it has given me renewed energy for learning something new, sticking with it and persevering. I'm not sure how to describe what bread baking is to me but it is wholesome, simple, pure, lovely, creative and nourishing. It is food for the soul and body.

Are you interested in learning more about making sourdough? Have you tried it before? Hopefully we can revisit this soon when I've gotten a little more practice and permission to share all the help generously offered to me.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Gratitude and a Giveaway!


The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

The concept of being grateful is not a new one nor is logging our gratitude in a list or journal. But sometimes we need to be reminded don't we? Gratitude is a practice that helps us to focus on the many blessings we have, to be content and to combat self-pity.

I've logged my list of thanks on and off through the years and since the beginning of this new year have been journaling at the end of the day just before bed listing out thanks that have graced my days.

Through a friend of a friend, this little journal made its way to my nightstand. As one who notices details and looks at things like what kind of paper is in a book, what kind of font is used, and more - this little book is really well done. It is lovely.

The journal is set up with a space for you to make daily entries and suggests starting your day with reading a provided Scripture, noting at least one thing you are grateful for, reminding yourself of a truth learned from the provided reading and thinking ahead to who you can pray for or serve in the coming day.

This journal would make a great gift and is the perfect not-too-small and not-too-big size! Plus it's gray. Need I say anything more?! ;)

You can learn more by visiting their website and I'm excited that I get to give a copy away to one of you!

I think it is only appropriate that to enter the contest, you leave a comment with something you are grateful for! Winners need to have a US mailing address and a way to be contacted. Entries will be accepted through Friday, March 16, 2018 and a winner will be announced over the weekend.

Amazon affiliate link provided.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018