We live in a 1920s bungalow that is always a work in progress. I guess the perfectionist in me likes to think that it’s in progress so I don’t have to admit how imperfect it is. I am learning to appreciate all the imperfections. We bought it almost 11 years ago with great plans of renovation but as life happened as it does, we put the house to the side. There are things a lot more important than what a house looks like.

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During a song service at church when I hear a new song, it is of course unfamiliar and I concentrate on the music and rhythm. After I get that down, I focus on the words. At this point, the song has quite an effect on me because I take the words in and reflect on them.

Bible verses are similar. When I first hear a verse it may take a while to get the meaning. After thinking about it for a while, however, I will apply it to my life in some way.

What happens though when I learn a song or memorize a verse and they become old. I sing them or recite them without much attention to what they are speaking to me. But the restorative power of these words are not over yet. When I go through a struggle that they would apply to, those words are there in my thoughts to encourage me and to point me in the right direction.

In the calm before the tornado, Gwenyth and I went out to our garden plot to do a little harvesting. We brought in our first greens (collards, spinach, red kale, lancinato kale, arugula and spinach) and 2 radishes.
I’m so excited to get some just picked greens to eat! We finished up and left just before the rain came.

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I read a book in the late Spring entitled Organized Simplicity.  In it, the writer of the Simple Mom blog laid out the reasons for and plans to simplify your life.  A large part of the book was dedicated to cleaning out what we have accumulated that we just don’t use or like, etc.   So I got excited about this idea.  I decided that I would take 2 days per room and clean out our entire house.

Well, I started first on the living room.  It took a whole week!  We have a small house but I guess I am good at packing things into every nook and cranny.  I still had about every note that friends wrote me in High School.  Sorry, Amy, Lori, Kerry, Emily, Katrina and whoever else.  I threw away a lot of letters that said things like “hey, whatcha doin?”,  “I’m so bored in this class.”, “Hope you have a good weekend.”  You get the picture.  There was nothing there that needed to be kept for 20 years.  So I saved the important letters that were special to me and got rid of the rest.  I also had many nick knacks that I inherited from my grandmother.  There were some that were special because I remember her telling stories about them or we used them at her house.  Others, I was given after she died so that they wouldn’t be thrown out.  She had so much stuff and I hate to throw anything away.  Well, I discovered that I didn’t like many of these things because I had no emotional connection to them and also some of the things I had that had memories connected to them were just superfluous because most of my house was furnished with my grandmother’s antiques and I wasn’t going to forget her anytime soon anyway so I was able to release a lot of it.  Hopefully, someone else will enjoy them more than I did.

I learned so much from this process.  One important lesson was how difficult removing this much clutter is and how much time it takes to keep it.  I hope in the future I will be a lot better at getting rid of stuff and not bringing as much in in the first place.  Also, I don’t have to organize, clean and arrange as much so I have more free time.  That is definitely a bonus.  I encouraged our kids with the idea of a garage sale at the end of our purging and they got rid of a lot.  They did better than we did at the sale.   My daughter even got $3.00 for her My Little Pony.  I guess the person couldn’t turn her down when she stuck to her price so persistently.  🙂

I have been making sourdough bread for at least 2 years now.  Once I got into the rhythm of making it, it has been very easy and less frustrating than trying to find bread that is acceptable from the store.  Allowing the dough to soak for several hours gives the bread better digestibility and of course lets it rise without the use of a store bought yeast product.

All you really need to get started is flour, water and

sourdough starter.  If you don’t have a starter, you can make one.  There is a good, simple formula at  http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/bread/recipe-sourdough.html .

A few notes about the starter.  I keep it in the refrigerator when not using it.  It has the tendency to feed too much if left out.  I once joked that it was like having to feed another kid.  I get it out and let it sit for a little bit to warm up to room temperature.  This is not necessary but I feel like it helps anyway.  I then feed the starter with a cup of flour and a cup of water.  Since I have the starter in a jar, I just close the lid tightly and shake it to mix.  You can mix it however you like.

Let it sit with the lid on loosely to prevent too much air building up inside.  When there are bubbles on the top after 30 minutes to a few hours depending on your room temperature, it is ready to use.

To make the bread, weigh 18 ounces of flour.  I use whole white wheat flour because we stay away from refined flour but you can use whatever you have.  You can even use other flours as long as about half of it is wheat.  Put the flour in a mixer bowl and add 3/4 teaspoon of salt.  I use the paddle attachment to mix this dough as it is not as stiff as most bread dough.  Keep the mixer going throughout the next steps.  You then measure out 1 1/2 cups of  the starter and add it to the flour mixture.  Then add water until you get the dough the consistency that you want it.  Between 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups.  The flour you use will determine how much water.


You want a wet dough that is still workable.  It is not as firm as bread dough but is not soupy.  Once the water is mixed in well, stop the mixer.  There is no kneading involved in this bread.  Cover and leave overnight.

 

 

 

 

In the morning, it should look like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this point, divide in half and lay each out on a floured surface.

Put a pizza stone in the oven on 450 degrees.  Let heat for at least 10 minutes after the oven is ready to allow the stone to get hot.  This time also allows the dough to rest.  Then transfer dough to the hot stone and place in the oven for 20 minutes at 450 and then 15 minutes at 350.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After baking, let bread sit for at least one hour.  This allows it to form the flavor and also makes it easier to cut.

So you will need:

18 oz. flour

3/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 c. starter

1-1 1/2 c. water

Bake bread at 450 for 20 minutes and at 350 for 15 minutes.

The plants are beginning to bloom.  It is such an exciting time of year.  The daffodils and vinca were first and now the forsythia, pasque flower, hellebores and magnolia are blooming.

Daffodils

Forsythia

Hellebore or Lenten Rose

Pasque Flower

Magnolia

I love how the common names of the flowers, in some cases, are connected to our faith.  The Lenten Rose blooms around Lent and the Pasque Flower blooms around Easter or the Jewish Passover where it got its name.  I am not only impressed with the beauty of these flowers but also how Christ’s sacrifice is observed in nature by their bloom at just the right time.

Our house lies in an area of Wichita called Delano.  It has a rather colorful history.  Delano is where the cowboys came to spend their money after moving the cattle across miles of open plains.  They would go to the brothels, saloons, etc. and have a wild time.  While it seems a quiet, respectful neighborhood, sometimes we wonder.  There is a hole in our front window that looks as if someone shot something through it and yesterday, while tearing out some bathroom cabinets we found an interesting wall paper border.  We have been speculating as to what kind of person would want this in their bathroom, a burlesque dancer, a bachelor ????  The colors are strange for a man but what kind of woman would want them in her bathroom?  It has already been painted over by the way.

I have always enjoyed vintage objects.  I grew up in an old house.  My grandmother lived in a beautiful old house and she also collected and sold antiques.  Old things seem to have more complexity to me because they have passed through many lives and stories.  I love to imagine what they may have been used for and who may have used them.  Lots of times, things that are older are unique because if any others were produced, they have been broken, discarded, or forgotten.

When my husband and I moved to Indiana several years ago, we lived  two miles from a very large antique mall.  Almost every time my parents came to visit, part of the time was spent there.  It became a sort of tradition.  Now, when they visit us in Kansas, we still usually go to at least one antique mall or store.  While strolling through the aisles we will see something unusual and discuss what it was used for or where it came from.  Sometimes we will find a really good deal on something that is very valuable.   Many times those things that surprise us are those that are way in the back, covered with dirt or in need of repair.  A true find catches us and draws our attention.  We are ecstatic to find something so beautiful and rare.  It may need a good cleaning or fixing but it will be something we can brag about later on when the work is finished.

I believe, in some ways, I am drawn to these old things because they are like me.  They are like all of us really.  We have been broken, discarded or forgotten at some point in our lives by others or even by our own neglect.  Our loving Father lifts us up, cleans us and repairs us in ways we couldn’t even imagine.

This blog is about restoration.  I enjoy restoring old things, old ideas, and I hope that in the process, I will see glimpses of what my Father is shaping me to be.

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