January 26, 2015

Make it Monday

It's been a while since I've done a good Make it Monday post.
 Let's remedy that today!

I've been in the baking mood recently, and in an effort to make more of our food, I've been busy pinning all sorts of bread recipes on Pinterest. This recipe caught my eye because it looked relatively easy, fast and didn't require any fancy ingredients.


(I will share the recipe via Raising Arrows below, with my notes/changes in italics.)

 Ingredients
(for the yeast mixture)
2 (heaping) Tablespoons of yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup hot water
(for the flour mixture)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups hot water
1/3 cup oil (I used canola oil.)
1/3 cup honey
1 Tablespoon salt (I just used regular table salt.)
5 1/2 - 6 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Directions
1. In a small bowl dissolve 2 heaping Tablespoons of yeast and 1 Tablespoon of sugar into 1/2 cup hot water. // I followed the recipe exactly, measuring out two heaping (meaning slightly overfull) Tablespoons. This turned out to be two and a half of the traditional yeast packets.
I didn't take a picture of the yeast mixture until right before I added it to the flour in step 3. 
This is what step 1 looks like after about 5 minutes!

2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour with 2 1/2 cups hot water. Whisk at medium speed. // I found that the medium speed was too much. I whisked the flour and water on low for about a minute.

3. Add 1/3 cup oil, 1/3 cup honey and 1 Tablespoon salt. Whisk to combine. Add in your yeast mixture (from step 1) and whisk to combine.

4. Switch out your whisk attachment for your dough hook. Add your remaining flour. Once combined, knead with the dough hook on medium speed for 8-10 minutes. // I found that 6 1/4 cups was the perfect amount of flour for my dough.
Since I forgot to take a picture of this step, I thought I would share with you the flour I used.
I'm a big fan of King Arthur flours, and decided to try this WHITE whole wheat.

5. Oil a clean surface and dump dough onto the oiled surface.


6. Divide the dough and shape into loaves. Then place the dough into greased bread pans. // This recipe made enough for two large loaves and three small loaves. I would have just done three large loaves if I had a third large bread pan.
Don't you love how pretty these little loaves are?! 
(please note my sarcasm!)

7. Let rise for 20 minutes in a warmed oven that has been turned off. The original recipe also states that if you're using glass or stone bread pans you'll likely need to let the dough sit longer, as those pans take longer to heat. // So I used a trick that I use to make our pizza dough. While I'm doing steps 1-6, I turn my oven on to 170 degrees. Then, right before it's time to do step 7, I turn the oven off. This allows the bread to rise quickly without "cooking" the yeast. My dough almost doubled in size after 20 minutes!

8. Take the loaves out of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes. // I found that my small loaves took about 22 minutes and my larger loaves 25 minutes.

9. Remove from the oven, brush with butter and remove from pans to cool completely. // The original recipe also said to cover the loaves with a towel to cool, but that seemed counteractive to me, so I skipped that step. Instead I just let my loaves cool completely on wire racks.
(fresh out of the oven, before I brushed them with butter)
 10. Enjoy!

The verdict?
I'll never be buying bread again!

No, really, this is that good and so easy. The texture is perfect-- not too dense, like so many whole wheat breads, but not so airy that the bread crumbles either. The honey gives the bread a sweetness that I love. Even my bread-hating toddler has requested a pb&j "shamish" for lunch the past two days! This recipe is a keeper in my book!

January 20, 2015

a slice of encouragement

to the depleted mom who feels like she can't give any more...
to the exhausted teacher who wears more hats than anyone would imagine...
to the tired assistant, doing two jobs without the credit that one deserves...

to anyone feeling wiped out & under-appreciated, a little Pinterest love for you today!



After reading this quote, I'm reminded of a piece of scripture that further solidifies all that hard work that you're doing. All the time and energy and tears. If it's all for Christ, then it's worth our best!

January 14, 2015

accepting my motherhood

One of my close mom friends texted me a picture this week. It was a photo of another mom sitting in front of her fireplace sipping coffee and relaxing in her perfectly decorated, impeccably organized living room. My close friend asked me, "Why don't our days look like this?!" to which I promptly texted back, "BECAUSE THAT'S NOT REAL!" I went on to rant about how I didn't know who this third party mom was but I just knew she was hiding dirty dishes & goldfish crumbs and her closets had to be stashed with junk.

Why did I get so snarky over this picture? Because, if I'm really honest, I was jealous that I didn't have what she had. And truth be told, I can't even relate. I can't remember the last time I was able to sit back and relax in a perfectly tidy home. Sure, I put my feet up on the ottoman and watch Chicago Fire every Tuesday night, but it's with plenty of chores left undone. Currently I'm typing this with laundry covering my dining room table, bags left to be unpacked, toys scattered in every room of the house and about two dozen Cheerios spotting the den carpet. I can't remember the last time I completed everything on my to-do list. 

Every free moment is a battle of "what do I do now?" Normally that's not the Cheerios under the tv stand or the laundry in the leather chair (that we never sit in, because it's always occupied with laundry) Motherhood-- especially for the stay-at-home mom-- is a never ending balance of kids and chores, chores and kids. And I hate to even admit that I have to balance my kids with all the "stuff" of keeping a home, but it's true. The laundry, the cleaning, the "stuff" of raising a family swallows me whole. And some days I do a really good job putting that stuff on the back burner and just playing with my kids. But other days my little loves get trapped in the play room with a baby gate so that I can make some sense of my surroundings. I've tried to make a cleaning schedule or do laundry in the wee hours of the night but nothing seems to stick. I'm always behind. The house is always a mess. There is always more to do.

But tonight it hit me: this is my motherhood. That mom relaxing with her feet up in her beautiful home? That is her motherhood. But comparing myself to her only breeds anger and envy in my heart. If God designed each one of us and each one of our families uniquely, then why do we all try to make motherhood look a certain way?

Motherhood for you might include a tidy home, a laundry schedule and sandwiches made on homemade bread. For others motherhood looks more like Stauffer's lasagna, Super Why on repeat and sniff-checking the laundry scattered around the house. Neither method is superior to the other; rather, they're simply the means by which we do the best that we can. No matter how similar our days, values or personalities, motherhood for me will always look different than motherhood for you. 

and that's okay, because 
this is MY motherhood.
 

January 10, 2015

tub time tunes

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Christmas. After having Christmas music on repeat the past two months, Luke has learned quite a few Christmas songs. This video is a snippet of last night's bathtime singalong, with Luke's rendition of Silent Night.

"round yond bir-da-gen, mah-der and mild..."

January 9, 2015

Five on Friday

I love the Five on Friday link up. There's no topic to follow, just a numbered list of whatever. What type-A list maker doesn't love that?!
THE GOOD LIFE BLOG   

Today I'm sharing five current style trends that I love. It should also be noted that these are five current trends I've yet to pull off myself, but hopefully I can work my closet to make some of these work!
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

1- The buffalo check button down paired with a quilted vest. I love buffalo check. It somewhat reminds me of Tool Time but seems really cute when paired with more classic pieces like pearls and a quilted riding vest.

2- The plaid blanket scarf. My sweet friend Lis sent me a green plaid blanket scarf for Christmas and I LOVE IT! I'm still trying to be more adventurous and wear it with something other than a solid navy or white tee; pattern mixing is hard for this matchy-matchy mama!

3- The long bob. I have loved my shorter (mom) haircut, but now that Christmas is over I'm on the "come on spring and summer" bandwagon! And with that mindset comes my longing for a ponytail again.

4- The ruffle. On the hem of a pair of pants, at the waist of a tee or, well, anywhere! Ruffles aren't just for little girls anymore!

5- The army green jacket. Similar to the buffalo check trend, I love how this somewhat rugged piece is paired with more classic pieces to make a unique look.

Have you tried any of these trends? 
What's your favorite?