Beautiful Day

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Write them on Your Doorposts"---Scripture Adorning the Home

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
~Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (ESV)

In the past few years I have been slowly adding Scripture verses as a means of home decor. It is beautiful, because God's Word is beautiful. It brings peace to my soul when I remember to look up and actually read what is written. There are many times I have been comforted by the words of the Bible written on the doorposts of our home. The photo above is what you first see on our front door. It was a special gift given to us when we moved into this home. I love that it immediately tells guests something about who we are as a family (and, it can be rather convicting to think about whether we are accurately reflecting the love and beauty of Christ to those who knock!).

Since Doorposts is hosting a contest of ideas for adorning our homes with Scripture, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to go around photographing and actually pay attention to areas of my home that have Scripture and those I would like to add Scripture to.

My favorite one is is in my kitchen (and I spend LOTS of time in my kitchen and I need LOTS of time with this verse!)

I bought the three-dimensional cherry stencil close to ten years ago. I used it on our previous house, but didn't have room for a verse. When I found this verse at Wise Decor, it was absolutely the perfect size for the space I had to put it in. I was delighted! I love red themes in my kitchen and dining room and I had wanted a cherry-decor kitchen for years. So it was such a joy to bring these two ideas together.

I have another verse in my dining room. This one I purchased from Vision Forum and it fits perfectly in this space as well. As an extra bonus, the color of the lettering matches my dining room!

I have this sweet throw blanket in the favorite spot where I rock my babies, spend time in the Word and prayer, and read lots of books to children (and myself).

I made this one on the occasion of our wedding (don't mind how wrinkled it looks--I didn't know much about framing stitch works back then!)

And finally, this lovely arrangement around my tub. It makes for a peaceful retreat.

I have been eyeing a few more spaces for the next verses. In the meantime, I would like to also add memory verses on smaller paper in strategic places to remind me often. I don't know about you, but my memory isn't as sharp as it used to be. I was talking about this with a friend recently and I thought perhaps the discipline of it is just magnified in a season of life with many, many thoughts constantly racing through the mind in a busy household. I do want to sharpen my lazy memory in this regard though. More than that, I want these Words of Life to live deep within me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cranberry Thanksgiving and Bible Bee

Last week, Warrior and his Country Girls were off in Nashville, Tennessee celebrating that Country Girl 2 qualified for the National Bible Bee! To say their time was amazing is an understatement. What a blessing it was for them to be so encouraged in their commitments to learn and memorize the Word of God and to share the sweet fellowship of others doing the same! Not to mention Civil War sights to see. I wish we all could have been there. However, Littlest Warrior is still yet very small and an airplane excursion is quite expensive. I am so thankful they had this opportunity and for the memories they will surely carry for a lifetime.

It was a challenging week on the homefront with my big helpers away and my heart in two places at once. I determined to make it special for my littler ones as it was a unique time to focus on just them. So we took a little tangent in school work. Hence, the "Cranberry Thanksgiving" lapbook! We've enjoyed this book (and others in the series) since our oldest was the youngest. So it was fun to revisit Maggie, Grandmother and Mr. Whiskers.

I love lapbooks and we have done many over the years. I am not quite as able to do them so often these days---academic needs shift, time demands change, and we all adjust. These take some prior planning so I find that we can manage a couple of them each year. One of the beauties about them is that they are adaptable to various ages--older ones can independently create more and younger ones can copy more. They are very worth the effort as they become treasured keepsakes for all--Mama and the children. They take joy in their very own book.

Most of the ideas and printables came from this site. We included hymns, Scriptures about thanksgiving, silhouettes of the children, information about cranberries (wow, did I learn a lot about these!), maps of New England, and of course, the recipe for "Grandmother's Famous Cranberry Bread!" And what would the week be without actually MAKING this bread? It is delicious.

It was a successful week on both sides of the country--even if a little harried at times. And we rejoiced to all be together again, celebrating God's goodness to us all. It even felt a little bit like our own little "Cranberry Thanksgiving"--without the recipe thief who smells of lavendar and carries a gold cane.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Duchess Bakes.....Sourdough Bread

Have you ever read this delightful book with your children?

If you haven't, you really ought to! It's funny, it rhymes, and it's rather charming. My children ask to read it repeatedly. What does this have to do with sourdough bread, you ask? Well, not a whole lot. But if you are familiar with the story, you know a bit about what happens to the cake. And here is where my story begins.

I mentioned that I have been re-working some things in my diet. Namely, I am minimizing my sugar intake and trying to avoid refined carbohydrates and anything made with commercial yeast. My research confirms that this is a worthy endeavor not only for our own issues, but something it seems would be helpful for just about any American. Our diets tend to be steeped in sugar. We also like to make and eat bread and rapid-rising yeast has made this easy for bread machines and mixer breads alike. I have been doing such for more than a decade. I've always been intrigued by sourdough, but have not always produced ideal results. I've definitely had some successes along the way and loved the results of some of the artisan loaves I've made. But I let my starter die......and haven't picked it back up for what seems like a couple of years.

So, I was motivated. I didn't want to live completely without bread and I revisited sourdough. There are so many nutritional benefits to sourdough. Lately I've also discovered that there is also something gratifying about taking the time. Sourdough takes lots of that. By this, I don't mean it necessarily takes lots of your time to work with (it doesn't)--it just takes time to rise. I can't explain it, but there is a certain peace that I find in something that is a slow process (this coming from one who continually prays for more patience!). It's as though it is one more step recaptured in the effort to slow life down. Indeed, it makes me really feel like I am nourishing.

I started with this recipe by Serene Allison in an Above Rubies magazine. You can even watch her method on some YouTube videos. I've been telling myself I wanted to try it ever since I saw it. And that's been at least a couple of years, as I said. It is largely similar to the recipe in Nourishing Traditions, which I have made before. I spent a week "catching" my yeast and building my starter. I did start with a rye starter as both NT and Serene recommend. It worked perfectly! Then came the fun of experimenting. I made my dough, as instructed by Serene, so it could rise overnight. Well, after two hours it had risen a lot! Now I was beginning to envision "The Duchess Bakes a Cake" was going to happen in my kitchen while I was sleeping. I even went to check it in the wee hours of the morning a couple of times when I was up feeding my sweet baby. Alas, I was spared from such incident. It stopped at a certain point. In the morning, I plopped it in the pan as Serene said and let it rise again. I baked it and it turned out....okay. It was rather tasty, but I think a bit underbaked. I think the wet texture of the dough made it harder to bake thoroughly. It was entirely wheat-free and made from rye and spelt. The result was a very definitive artisan rye-type bread. My husband said it tasted like European bread that should be served with cheese. So the verdict was that we all liked it but it needed longer baking time. However, we couldn't eat this as our "daily bread" necessarily.

Round 2. I found another recipe on a site I love called The Nourishing Gourmet. It looked promising. By now, I was feeding my new "pet" on a regular basis and did start to add in some wheat flour because I'm not sure I want all of my breads to have rye flavor. Kimi's sourdough bread recipe looked like just the thing to try. Again, I made my dough the night before and let it rise overnight. This time I did not fear the aforesaid "Duchess" incident, but it did rise beautifully. In the morning I shaped my loaves and let them sit most of the day in the pans to rise before baking. Oh, these looked very promising indeed. When they were finished baking and cooled just a little, we cut off a couple of slices in advance of dinner. Oh, these were delicious! And I was so delighted. Could I truly have found a recipe I could use for everyday bread? Yes, I think I have! And if you know sourdough, you know it needs to be fed often and so it also needs to be used often. So I am working on my third batch of this bread now. I love how the dough feels and how workable it is. Yes, this bread will be a bit more dense than even my regular whole grain bread I've made. But for sourdough it seems like a great texture and I really could eat too much of it!

These loaves were a little shorter because I had to experiment with exactly how many loaves a batch was supposed to make (the recipe was unclear at this point). I discovered I needed to adapt the recipe just a bit to fill my 3 bread pans just right. These loaves are a combination of wheat and spelt. They really are delicious.

To view the recipe and detailed directions, see here. I tripled the ingredients listed to make 3 loaves of bread. I do not have a Bosch mixer, but a large size (and old-workhorse-version) Kitchen Aid Mixer. This would be the maximum size that my KA can handle and it does it very well. There is also a hand kneading method described.

I encourage you to try it out sometime! Sourdough does feel like a "pet" to take care of sometimes, but it's been fun to try out different recipes to make with it. I feel very satisfied knowing I can actually produce good bread with a natural yeast! I've since made some excellent pancakes and coffee cake as well. Plenty of kitchen adventures to be had. And I am fond of saying that high school chemistry (which Country Girl 1 is now taking) really should be about "real-life" experiments that you can actually do something with! There is plenty of kitchen chemistry that can be learned with sourdough. And it is much more appetizing than the sound of that cake that the duchess tried to bake.

Let me know if you decide to try it out. A starter is really easy, especially with whole-grain, fresh-milled flour. If you have successful sourdough recipes, I'd love to hear about them too!


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