Headed towards back to the basics living.



It’s not the destination, but who’s beside you, that matters most.”

So true. Who we surround ourselves has such a big influence. I have to tell you that in the last few months I have really lost my enthusiasm for eating healthy, being green, and just all around trying to do what my conscious tells me is the right thing. Sometimes the reason I start doing something gets fuzzy. I forget why I do the things I do. And when that happens, I slack. I think well, its just one plastic carton or I’m so hungry just give me some chicken or a burger from somewhere. After all no one else seems to really care. Dozens of cars are in the drive thru. Those people are still alive. Does it really matter if I use a paper towel? YES! But it’s so much effort, the whiney voice in my head says.

“Two are better than one…if one falls down, his friend can help him up.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Thank goodness for sisters. My sister seems to really have the enthusiasm for eating healthy and natural and taking care of herself. It’s inspiring. Her energy has me getting re-motivated. In fact, I am re-watching Food, Inc., as I have time during the day. And I’m looking to start exercising again and looking at healthy natural foods with a renewed sense of purpose. I’m not saying I’ve got myself under control 100% now.  There’s an Arby’s chocolate croissant with my name on it that DH is picking up from the drive thru on his way home from work tonight. BUT, it all counts, right?!

Besides we did make it to the Farmer’s market this weekend. I tried out eggplant for the first time.

And we got some glorious red and orange bell peppers. So love those!

And some farm fresh eggs! Missed those!

So if you’ve been slacking in some area where you used to feel so enthusiastic to see a change in your life, then I encourage you: Go! Go find some friends with common interests and goals. Don’t be a loner. At least not all the time. I’m one myself. I’ve been known to hole up with a good book for hours before I had my daughter. Or to spend hours crafting all by myself, trying to learn to sew. But sometimes you gotta find your ‘peeps ‘ to keep you on track.

Find ways to remotivate yourself. Remember why it was you started something in the first place. Review where you started and how far you’ve come. If you derailed like me lately, that’s okay. Get back up there on the horse. If he ain’t dead, there’s still hope y’all.

Here’s something similar that I’ve been dealing with myself from Miss Mustard Seed. Love her style!


XOXO, Rachel




Life is a journey, not a destination.

(How many times have you heard this? And how many times have you really grasped its meaning?)

I think Oprah used to call it an “aha moment” on her previous show. I believe its also referred to as an epiphany. I was lying next to my now 10 month old daughter while she napped. I lay there staring at the completely blank white walls and trim and doors on our newly leased townhouse thinking  how they needed to be painted (so many colors to choose from, where to start?)and boxes needed unpacked and projects I had already thought of to do for this place, needed started. And then I remembered how I had read that white walls bring clarity. Hmm, could that be why my next thought was “maybe I’ll just live with them for a while, maybe this can be the ‘white walls’ season of my life. Not permanently , I just can’t see that for me, but maybe I’ll just enjoy the giddiness of a blank slate.

Maybe it all doesn’t need to be done NOW.

Maybe there is fun in the picking and choosing of colors.

Maybe there is fun in the searching for that hutch I need in the dining room for more storage.

Maybe I will slowly find the pieces I love and keep for a very long time, instead of buying cheap pieces for function only.

And then my brain really began turning.

Maybe I can really dig into my scrapbook class “Library of Memories” without first unpacking all the boxes.

Maybe I can stop to play with my daughter before the dishes are clean.

Maybe I can write a post without having to catch everyone  who used to read this blog up with the details of my life. Maybe I can just start somewhere. Start here. Just start now.

So I did. And now you know.  I’m back.  To blogging that is. I missed it, but somewhere I let myself “get behind” and never could quite catch up. A lot of things happen like that in my life, and then I impose some rule about needing to do things in their proper order. So then nothing happens. And then I get further behind and so it continues.  Does that ever happen to you?

Movement (my word for 2011) is still very much something that needs to happen in my life. Even though I’ve moved half way across the country, there is still more moving to do. Moving of furniture and things and routines as my baby girl grows.  Its enough to make a girl go crazy if I keep reaching for that  just out of reach place of perfection. I’ve decided it doesn’t exist.

Life just doesn’t stop.

And so I am going to just enjoy the journey and celebrate the movement, however small. I am going to figure out what is enough to make me feel satisfied that I have indeed accomplished something, and enjoy life. I leave you with a quote from my Library of Memories scrapbooking class I’m taking right now:

“Not declaring satisfaction or “enoughness” is underneath all the shoulds and have tos and draining comparisons that are exhausting you.”   -Jennifer Louden

Here’s to making things happen and celebrating ALL the steps you make in the right direction, big or small. It all counts!


Baking Bread | Week 5

MMMM…..there is nothing quite like the smell of brown sugar and cinnamon in the morning. Nothing. Sorry, all you folks who drink coffee. Coffee smells wonderful but this morning I found something that beats it in my book. No joke. It actually smelled so good it brought me out of my foul mood. Okay maybe not foul, but grumpy. Let me just say I am sooooo glad that this weeks bread turned out!I I don’t think anything is more disappointing than working so hard on something to have it flop. Like my pinwheels did last weekend. Oh, they tasted okay but they were so sad looking. Really, I almost wanted to cry. I was so frustrated. The dough didn’t cooperate and major user error on my part resulted in pinwheels that were edible while warm from the oven but that’s about it. I tried to blame a bunch of it on the dough.

Uh, no. I used the exact same brioche dough (that I saved in the freezer for a couple of weeks) and this time it resulted in delicious warm cinnamon crescent rolls. DH and I decided they must be a cousin of the better known cinnamon rolls but with a twist (ha!). And then they were topped with a cream cheese icing. Oh my! These will be made again.

First I rolled out the dough to 1/8″ thick in a rectangular shape.

Then sprinkled with cinnamon, brown sugar and oil.

Then I cut the dough in to triangles.

Then rolled them up starting with the larger end first. Then let them rest for 30 minutes. Followed by 20-30 minutes in the oven. And then top with cream cheese icing. I highly suggest you eat them while warm. I did. (=

And did I introduce you to my assistant?

My cute kitchen helper! Who doesn't need one of these?!




Baking Bread | Week 4

Finally, I’m blogging on week 4. I’ve been running a bit behind. Actually I’ve been running on hardly any sleep. And when that happens, blogging doesn’t. I made bread, I just didn’t blog. It all started about 4 weeks ago when my little girl started noticing the world around her. And I mean she noticed everything. Which meant eating went down on the list of priorities for her. So…she ate at night. Almost every 2 hours. Sometimes even less. Now if I told you I got 8 hours of sleep everynight you’d think “wow!” but they were broken up into little chunks. Not exactly energy inducing cat naps, let me tell you. I counted on DH letting me catch up on the weekends. But he had to work last weekend. Which meant the days and nights went on and on. Then about 3 nights ago she suddenly started sleeping through the night again. I had only been asleep about 5 hours when my eyes popped open. I sat up automatically. And then realized it was quiete in the room. Too quiete. My feet hit the floor. I rushed over to DD and there she was snoozing away. I tried to lay back down but man after 5 hours I was feeling energetic. (not something I would had said a few months ago after only 5 hours.) It has been blissful sleeping ever since.

So all that to say I finally feel pulled together enough to share my sandwich bread experience with you. This recipe comes from HBin5 again. I know, I know, I need to try out some different recipes but I tell you. This dough is convenient. It works for a mom with a little baby. The basic directions for the dough are the same so it makes it quick and easy to put together.

I’ve made this bread a few times and every time it turns out fantastic, including this one.  I would claim it as my new go to bread but I really want to find a recipe that doesn’t call for 5 eggs. Yeah. I know. Not too bad when you had almost a dozen chickens. But this does mean dipping into the egg selling profits.

Here the goods needed to make this bread:

5 C. whole wheat flour

2 1/2 cupes unbleached  all-purpose flour

1 1/2 T.  granulated yeast, or 2 packets

1 T. Kosher Salet

1/4 c. vital wheat gluten

2 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1/2 cup honey

5 Large Eggs

2/3 C. neutral flavored oil or unsalted butter

And here’s the Grind:

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. Mix together the wet ingredients.
  3. Combine using a heavy duty mixer. No kneading is necessary.
  4. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rise for approx. 2 hrs.
  5. Use immed. or regrigerate and use over the next 5 days.
  6. When ready to bake, lightly great a bread pan.
  7. Place a cantaloupe size piece of dough into the bread pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 90 minutes (40 minutes if using unrefrigerated dough).
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees 30 minutes prior if you use a baking stone. Otherwise only about 5 min. preheat time is needed.
  9. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

And I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned about bread making so far in my experience:

  • Bread really needs a warm place to rise. Not just on the counter. My kitchen just isn’t warm enough. DH’s aunt told me she puts it on her heated massage table. (She is a massage therapist). Taking a cue from her, I started putting my rising dough about a foot away from the fire. Ever since my bread has started turning out sooo much better. Don’t have a fireplace? Consider a heating pad or maybe in the sun.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. The more I work with bread dough the more I become familiar with what works and what doesn’t for me. It seems that everybody has a different experience with the same bread. See this negative experience the author over at Kitchen Stewardship had with HBin5 with this same bread. Which brings me to my next point.
  • I’m beginning to think that a bread recipe chooses you, not the other way around. Every bread recipe I read has some positive and some negative reviews. So I’m beginning to think its the user that makes the difference in the outcome most of the time.
  • For me the crust has to be much darker than I used to think it did, in order to get the bread completely done all the way. You can also check the internal temperature of the bread using a meat thermometer. At 200 degrees its supposed to be done.
  • And for this particular bread, if you put it in a sealable bag and leave about an inch opening the bread will get a super soft crust without drying out the rest of the bread. A good mix for sandwiches!

I don’t claim to be a bread expert-at all-but I’m having a lot of fun learning as I go. And I just know that somewhere out there is the perfect sandwich staple bread for us so I’m going to keep on searching. Basically, I want it to be whole wheat, only requiring typical bread ingredients, simple directions and not requiring a bread machine. Know of a recipe that sounds like that????? Please email me with the recipe! I’m all ears-or eyes or something like that….


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Baking Bread | Week 3

This last week I realized that the beautiful organic pears we purchased the previous week were ripening much faster than I previously thought.  I needed some sort of recipe to use them up and hopefully avoid waste.  And thus the journey (and I do mean a long journey) of the pear tart began. To be fair, I did mess up the bread portion of the recipe from HB in Five by forgetting to add the water the first time I tried to make this so the journey was prolonged by my own mistake. But still this pear tart had way more steps than I like in a recipe. And to be honest, although the flavor was good I think I would have been more satisfied with putting all that effort into a homemade pie. Did I mention it really only seemed yummy when served warm a la’ mode? (Pie is just delicious when cold in my opinion.)

There were a few things I did like about this pear tart though. It was quiete pleasing to the eye and I got to use a cast iron skillet in a way I never had before. The pears are carmelized first in the skillet and then the dough placed on top. The skillet is then placed in the oven. Once done, the whole thing is inverted onto a plate- a bit like a pineapple upside down cake. Another good thing about this recipe was that the bread portion was whole wheat brioche. So at least it was probably healthier than a pie crust made from shortening would had been.

And in case you’re wondering, like I was…Brioche just means a highly enriched French bread. Typically with egg and butter. It is thought to have originated in Romania.

I have some leftover Brioche dough and with that I’m going to be trying some cream cheese stuffed pinwheels this week since the dough can be stored for 5 days in the fridge or 2 weeks in the freezer. Will keep you posted on the results-they sound easier and perhaps, just perhaps more yummy???

Oh, I’m going to be posting on the best sandwich bread I’ve tried so far. Stay tuned for more…


Baking Bread | Week Two

Bread + Berries + Honey Butter = good for you yumminess!

Do I really need to say more?

Do you think I could actually resist? No? Okay I admit it: When it comes to blogging I can usually produce an eye-ful of words! I just love to write and this healthy breakfast type bread full of anti-oxidants makes it easy. The recipe comes from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes, again. I’m just loving their variety of recipes and the simplicity of them! I do plan on trying out other sources for bread recipes btw.  I just happen to have this book on hand. I’ve also only tried out a few recipes from there so it makes for lots of new recipes to try! (i.e. I’m all about new!)  So if you have a great bread recipe or even one you’ve never actually had I’m willing to be the guinea pig for you. Just email me.

So on to this week’s trial, Whole Wheat Berry Bread (or muffins). Now, I must advise you in advance that this isn’t going to make a very sweet bread. Don’t expect muffins that taste like the ones that come from a box. We did, and we we’re disappointed. Not because the bread wasn’t good, actually it was quite good with a smear of honey butter, but this is the grown-up version of breakfast breads/muffins. If you’re still addicted to sugar like we are then you should definitely plan on making the honey butter to go with this. It makes me think of how people add icing to cinnamon rolls. The great part about the butter and bread both is that neither calls for actual sugar. Honey is used as a sugar substitute. Agave nectar can be used also, but just keep in  mind it might alter the flavor a bit. Tequila anyone?

So, here’s the recipe.

The Goods

-The Bread

  • 4 C. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 4 C. Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 Tbs. granulated yeast
  • 1 Tbs. Kosher Salt (or decrease to taste)
  • 1/4 C. Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 2 1/4 C. Lukewarm Water
  • 1.4 C. Honey
  • 3 C. Mixed Frozen Berries and their juices, defrosted
  • Egg Wash (1 beaten egg with 1 Tbs. water) for brushing on top crust
  • Raw sugar for sprinkling on top

-Honey Butter

  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. Honey
  • 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

The Grind

(These are just the very basic steps. If you want lots of detail and hints/tips you should check out the book. It’s very inspiring!)

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. Combine the water,honey and berries, then add to the dry ingredients without kneading.
  3. Cover, not airtight and allow to rest at room temp for approx. 2 hours.
  4. You can use dough immed. or refrigerate in a lidded, not airtight container and use for the next 5 days.
  5. Whenever you decide to bake the dough, grease a bread loaf pan.
  6. Cut off a 2 pound piece of dough.  Enough to fill the pan about 3/4 full. Shape into an oval.
  7. Place in pan. Allow it to rest loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 1 hour and 45 minutes, or one hour if you’re using fresh unrefrigerated dough.
  8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If you have a baking stone you can use it, but its not necessary.
  9. Paint the top with the egg wash.l
  10. Place near the center of the oven.
  11. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

It makes for a very pink flavored dough. Reminds me of Berry Cap’n Crunch cereal and the way the milk gets tinted by the time your done eating breakfast. Except this is flavored from actual berries! What a concept (hargh, hargh).

Add some protein and maybe some coffee or milk if you can digest it and your breakfast is set for the week.

**Please forgive the lack of a picture of the finished product. It’s night time and I had to decide between a horrible unappetizing nightime picture and not getting this posted for another couple of days while waiting for a great daytime pic.  My baby is not feeling well and not sure what kind of night and day we have coming up. Hope you are all surving the coming storm in the southwest/midwest area! Brrr, stay warm out there!