This is Why We're We

Morning quiet time . . .  Reading amiably in our chairs.

I speak first. "We should fry things EVERY Friday because its 'FRI-day', get it"

He replies, "absolutely we should." resumes reading, then says thoughtfully,

"I wish we had bought cabbage."

"ME TOO! I had the same thought fifteen minutes ago."

He grabs my hand.

"I love you."

Yes. Indeed. We are but one mind and one way of thinking.


When TV and Real Life Collide

This past spring and summer I got Tuan to watch Friday Night Lights with me. It is a series that just really stuck with me and I wanted Tuan to kind of understand this part of who I was. So, we watched the entire series (skipping most of the stuff with Jason and Lyla, because basically they are the Jack and Kate (LOST) of the show and annoying as all get out and both couples could/should have been written out much earlier on).

Then, we went to family camp and there was a counselor who looked an awful lot like Tyra Collette, which had us tickled. As luck would have it, there was a red-headed kid there that week named Landry!

At one of the activities, Tuan walked up laughing and whispered, "'Tyra' is belaying Landry and keeps saying, 'come on, Landry, you can do it!'".

We got SUCH a kick out of that. I had to write it down for memory's sake.

We also found out after we got back from Glorieta that LONGMIRE is filmed at and around Glorieta and wouldn't ya know, we keep seeing VERY familiar spots as we are watching that series.


Pleasant Places

I tossed and turned a lot last night. Tuan is out of town and I don't sleep well when he's gone. But with each waking in the night, waves of gratefulness kept sweeping over me.

I think that's the theme of this season of my life: gratefulness. After some wild and crazy and hard and good years, where we saw the LORD move in incredible ways to guide and provide for us--even as we struggled with the means of His provision, I'm just so thankful for right now.

Our hearts beat for camping--for serving this gospel ministry and the staff who do it. In the season where the LORD took us away from camping (and provided in amazing ways!), I wrestled so much with contentment and this question: Is Jesus enough? Could I be content just in Him, even if the door to camp never opened again and we stayed in our current situation for the rest of our days? I think I was just beginning to dig into the depths of my heart on the matter when this job was offered. Lots of folks said, "of course you'll go back into camping!" However, I knew that the LORD might not do that, and my heart needed to be okay with his leading. It was a similar situation to the chaplain who told me when Aubrey was in the NICU (and all was uncertain), that "your baby is going to be just fine." Well, no. God hasn't promised those things. Can He? Absolutely. Will He? I don't know. I only know what He has promised in His word.

I'm in a bit of a skeptical place where when I hear outside-the-Bible advice and wisdom, that I question it. "Is what you're so passionate about declaring as true for the mourner, the wounded, the refugee and the oppressed as it is for me?"

So here we are. The Ebenezers are piling up and I'm just savoring HIS kind mercies and graces. It isn't always easy, but its good. I'm deeply thankful that Tuan loves his work and that the kids have friends to play with. I'm thankful for the staff and every chance I get to talk with someone and hear their stories. I'm thankful for a church family to get to know. As the psalmist said, "the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places". Then again, they always have. It's just easier to see it right now.

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
  I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

  As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.

  The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or ltake their names on my lips.

  The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

  I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
  I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
             Therefore my heart is glad,              and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
  For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.

  You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16


Easy Breezy Artisan Bread For the Laid Back and Frugal Crowd

I have shared a few pictures of our "no-knead, quick, artisan bread" on Instagram and a few people (two!) have asked for the recipe. I thought I would sort of blog it out with pictures if you want the full idea of how this works for me. (I think they asked in JANUARY. So sorry for the delay!)
You know how on Facebook these people post a recipe with the disclaimer "hundreds are asking me for this recipe again, so here it is and share it on your wall so you don't lose it." Well, I'm under no such delusion of grandeur. This one's for Melanie and Carol!

Here's the short and sweet of it. (I can't find the original recipe source, but it has been slightly modified).

In a large bowl or container, combine:

6 Cups warm Water
1.5 TBSP Yeast
1.5 TBSP Salt
1.5 TBSP Sugar

Then, add in 13 cups of bread flour. Stir until just combined, leave loosely covered in a warm place for two hours or until the dough doubles.
Pull off as much as you like, shape into loaves (add extra flour if needed). Place in or on a pan (lined with parchment is best!) and let rise for forty minutes. Store extra dough in the fridge covered with a little bit of gap in your lid for air.

Bake at 485 for 20-30 minutes

The dough keeps for around a week. Anytime you want to bake, remove from the bowl, shape, let rise for 40 minutes and bake 20-30 minutes at 485.

It's so easy!

I started doing this when money was a little tight and spending heaps of "dough" on bread was KILLING me. This method is so economical and really stretches our grocery budget. I can get a massive bag of flour for around 8.00 and it lasts many, many batches.

I buy my flour and sea salt and yeast at Sam's. The flour is stored in its own bag, wrapped in very fancy plastic. : ) I want to find a good flour bin, but I'm not shelling out money for a full price one, yet.

The dough is stored in this FANTASTIC, vintage Tupperware cake plate I bought ages ago. It's huge and wonderful. Because it is always is in the fridge, I don't clean it thoroughly between uses and I am convinced the bread tastes better because of it. I scrape it down with my bench scraper and it dissolves into the warm water of the new batch.

To keep it simple, I taped a card with proportions of ingredients, so that when I bake, I don't have to find the recipe card. Mine is kind of janky and sad, so I am providing a printable card for anyone who wants to have a prettier label.

You can use the dough for loaves and boules and baguette shapes and pizza. I think the loaves make a heavenly tomato sandwich. And the wetter the dough, the better. Just flour the outside enough that you can shape it.

It really makes a good pizza dough--knead just a little with flour to not be sticky and then roll it out on a mixture of cornmeal and flour. Sometimes I spread a little olive oil on the crust.

Lining the pans with parchment paper (bulk purchase from Sam's) is a huge help--nothing sticks and I don't have to scrub pans.

We don't eat the bread every day. But I usually start the week out by throwing a batch together on Monday morning and we just have it as we need it all week long. It's so handy to be able to throw a loaf in the oven when I can't figure out/am not prepared for lunch.

Final things. I think every kitchen should have a "bench scraper". It's so helpful for scraping down the sides of the bowl, cleaning a wooden cutting board and moving chopped things. Its one of my my most beloved tools.

The "lastest" thing is that if you had ANY doubt this recipe isn't perfectly suited for Type B folks, let this spoon and cup reassure you. I lost all my measuring spoons in a move, so for the last two years I've been using that soup spoon for my tablespoon measure and I often use that cup for my cup measure . . . and the bread STILL turns out. Every time. Eventually I'll break down and get a new set, but I take a bit of perverse pleasure in not using real measuring spoons.

Happy baking! Let me know if you try this method!


A Lot of Nothing, a Little Something

Dear friend,

I'm not writing to an actual, specific friend, but this is basically a letter to my blog friends. And don't worry, it's not an "open letter" where I make assertions and accusations and tell you what is wrong with you and your church and your subculture. This is a real, honest, old-fashioned letter.

I burned leaves on Sunday afternoon. It's hard for me to be out in the yard for long stretches of times with a little person afoot, who goes in and out of the house and needs supervision, still. So, with Tuan home, I was able to just stand in the yard and fiddle with the fire and the leaves for several hours. It was delightful and restful and I smelled of leaf smoke after, which is Tuan's favorite smell in the whole world. He kept smelling my hair. We are romantic in our own, strange, way!

I kept beginning to think of analogies and life lessons to be found in leaf burning, but in the end, I decided that I simply wanted to burn leaves and not turn it into anything deep. So I burned and fiddled with the fire and thought of a thousand other things and waved at the folks who drove past.

We have been busy with our living room situation. Removing the 1970s paneling, pulling a hundred nails off of the walls, prepping the windows for painting. It's always more work than you expect, but this has definitely taken longer than planned, because life.

The windows are primed and I hope to sand and prime the walls this week. Then we'll be that much closer to Joanna Gaines levels of interior greatness.

I recently read a blog post about how a woman had to turn off Fixer Upper because it brought about discontent in her heart. Oddly enough, it has been the opposite for me. I've been so encouraged by what can be done, that seeing the quick results has bolstered me so much when it seems like we are taking a long time to get things done.

We also ripped out the carpet and linoleum and the the plywood faux subfloor to find the original pine tongue and groove flooring in excellent shape! Whoo-hoo. It's a little bit draftier, but we can don wool socks for the sake of style!

Our housing situation is a wee bit complicated for the blog, but we are living in and fixing up a house that belongs to a very dear and kind friend. The glorious thing is that this is not a "family" house for her. I'm not ripping out "Aunt Myrtle's linoleum that she saved and scrimped for". My friend has little emotional investment in this house, which is a huge blessing. Our house, as I call it for the sake of easy writing, belonged to matriach and patriarch of our road, then their daughter owned it and she is the one who sold it. I hear the most delightful stories about this lady, who is still living, but has family on and near this road. The propane man even raves about her.

My gratefulness about our house owners not being emotionally connected to the house was solidified at a local Christmas party, where I met people who had grown up in the house, or visited the house or had celebrated countless holidays in the house.

As I was introduced as the woman who lived in "M------- K--------'s house", people kept tearing up as they reminisced of the memories and how dear that place was. Whoosh! The burden of southern family heirloom property possession obligation hit. A near relative asked what all we had done, "oh, we renovated the bathroom and are going to pull up the carpet and took the paneling off the living room walls. . . . " {the blush pink painted 1970s paneling!} My audience did not hear me correctly, and said, "oh, yes, she just had that painted a few years back". (whoops!) "but I never did like carpet in a living room" (thinking to self: she didn't catch that I ripped out the freshly painted paneling, but approves of the carpet removal! Victory)

So, I feel a little bit more of an emotional burden than I did, but I do hope they are all pleased with the final results!

In other things: I changed my iphone language to British English, so Siri speaks with a lovely accent and I basically have a butler of my very own. It's the closest I'll ever get to being an aristocrat, so I'll take it.

I also scored a fantastic deal on hams at Kroger the other day. .69 a pound! I stood at the meat case and inspected hams with a fellow mom who I had never met, but who obviously understood the deal we had found. 39.00 hams now 5.00?! I loaded up my buggy like a Supermarket Sweep contestant.

At the register, they rang up at the old price and the cashier, who was MORE than wonderful and kind to me, had obviously been dealing with this all day and called the manager over and then the meat department who had still not entered this price change into the system. She had to manually adjust all the prices of my hams and calls out to the manager (over all the people around the checkout!) "hey! she's buying about eight hams . . . so you know I have to change the price. How many hams you buying? six? no she's buying six hams!" (I was a bit mortified but the customer behind me was very approving).

"I've got a deep freeze and I'm not afraid to use it! Ha. Ha." I said with forced lightness.

Tuan meant to grab a ham sandwich he had prepared to take with him for breakfast on the way to work and grabbed a bundle of ham instead. "I ate every bit", he informed me, "I think I ate ten dollars worth of ham."

That explains why he was not so keen on the ham I prepared for supper.

And that is all I have to say, dear friends. I remain---

yours, affectionately,