Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mmmmm. Artisan Bread.

Our first loaf of bread
After reading my friend Cindy's posts about bread, I decided I needed to make some. I really wanted to try the artisan bread she's mentioned a few times, so we looked up the basic recipe. Wow.

When the book is called Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, you're tempted to scoff in disbelief. Don't. Just buy it. Even though we've only made the basic loaf, we're hooked. Fresh bread every day without making dough every day? Oh yeah! No kneading? A million recipes from just a few freezable doughs? I'll take it.

This was the easiest and most satisfying bread-making experience I've ever had. If this is what being a homemaker is all about, maybe I can handle it after all. At least now one thing my home will never lack is fresh bread--they may be eating PB&J for dinner, but it will be on homemade bread.

We can't wait to try more of the recipes. Especially the one where you take sweet dough, put chocolate inside, deep fry it, and then dust with powdered sugar. Mmmm....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Homemaking Breakthrough

I'm not the best homemaker. Okay, I'm actually pretty bad at it. One of the main problems is that I hate cleaning. Surprise.

But I want to be a good homemaker, and I decided I need to learn to clean without dwelling on the fact that I hate it. It takes too much energy when I'm thinking how much I hate it. Maybe if I just do it, I'll have energy left to think about obscure things like decorating (I haven't hung a picture myself since I left home when I was 18).

With that lofty goal in mind, I set out to be a better housekeeper. Then I realized that I'm still living in my in-laws' basement, and might not have my own apartment again until late summer or fall. Sigh.

In spite of this, I was determined, so I tackled the one room in the house which is "our space," which is, of course, overflowing with things that would normally be spread out around our apartment. I dusted, vacuumed, and shoved the piles into more orderly piles, creating a larger space in the middle of the floor which made the room feel much less overwhelming. I was very proud of myself. It took me two days.

Okay, so two days for one room isn't great, but it's a start.

Then this evening I was in the kitchen, and realized the dishwasher had just been run and was full of clean dishes, so I started to put them away. And that's when it hit me: there is a household task that I don't hate. Not only that, I actually like it. I like unloading the dishwasher. I like placing the clean, shiny dishes in orderly stacks, each in its precise cupboard. I enjoy seeing the dishwasher emptying, and knowing that I'm making tangible progress. I like grabbing up handfuls of silverware and seeing how many handfuls it takes me to put it all away.

Now, don't ask me to load the dishwasher. Grabbing dirty dishes and trying to rinse food off, then trying to fit everything in, and finding more dishes that you missed as soon as you start running it--not my idea of fun. But unloading it, I do enjoy.

And if I can come to like one part of tidying up, perhaps in time I can learn to like the rest of it. It might be awhile, but today it's seeming more possible.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sick Days

For the last three days, Cimorene and I have both been sick. Not a really nasty bug, just a cold, but it's hard to see her sick when I'm not feeling up to doing much about it.

At the same time, I've found that there are plus sides to this particular trial.
  1. My daughter has been much more cuddly. For those of you who know Cim, she loves to be held but does NOT cuddle or snuggle unless she's on the verge of falling asleep. So I've enjoyed, over the last couple days, her frequent micro-cuddles: she turns and buries her face in my collar bone or shoulder, holds it for about 3-5 seconds, and then pops back up like she's coming up for air. Sometimes she'll even lay her head on my shoulder for as long as 10 seconds.
  2. I have a wonderful husband and mother-in-law who have taken Cimorene at different times so that I can lay down and nap or read. I've felt much better for these periods of down-time.
  3. I haven't felt at all guilty about reading books that don't require any brain power. When my head is pounding, I can't concentrate on anything but fluff, so why not pick up another Regency Romance? (I'm slowly and inexorably making my way through my mother-in-law's shelf. Then maybe I'll move on to my father-in-law's...)
I'd still rather not be sick, and I'd rather not have a sick baby, but I'm grateful it's no worse, and grateful for the things that make it just a little better.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Photo credit: Rob Thomas

The temperature outside is 48 degrees, which, after living in Rexburg for so long, seems incredible for early March. Beyond that, the sun is out, and there's not a vicious, spiteful wind to make me rue the misleading sunshine.

To take advantage of this fantastic weather, I went outside in capris and a t-shirt and lay spread-eagle on the concrete walk that runs along the side of my in-laws' house. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the yellow-green of my eyelids. You may question that, and say that it ought to be orange, at least.

But see, I had a flowerbed next to me from which the snow has melted, and so I could smell dirt. Dirt and sunshine with a bit of a chill speaks spring to me, and spring is that soft, yellow-green of my childhood on the Virginia/Tennessee border. The trees will all still be brown and spiky, and the brush will poke up beneath them, some of it curled from the weight of snow. But beneath that, everything is turning green, blending with the tans to make that peculiar yellow-green that I see behind my eyelids when I turn my face toward the sun and smell the dirt.

I stole this picture from a website pulled up by Google images. It looks just like several chimneys I saw growing up. And it looks like spring. Right down to the daffodils.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Funny Farm Memories of Cold and Warmth

As I shivered today and tucked my toes underneath me on the couch, I suddenly remembered a winter day years ago at the Funny Farm (my family's farm on the border of Virginia and Tennessee). The propane tank which normally heated our house had run out, I think, and so we were left with just a wood stove on one end of the house. It was warm enough to heat the family room, my parents' bedroom, and one bathroom. Everywhere else was very, very cold.

I must have been in my early teens, because my older brother was at school but James, Nate and I were still homeschooled. Because it was too cold in by the computer (long before we had a laptop) or the schooltable, Mom called a snow-day. We all grabbed novels and climbed into Mom and Dad's bed, pulling extra blankets in with us. Curled up at different angles (I think James was lying across the foot of the bed, but the memory's fuzzy), we read all day. Dad brought food home--our stove was propane-powered as well, and thus out of commission--and we ate it on the unfinished wood floor in the family room.

It struck me today how miserable that day could have been. Had my mom not been willing to just laugh at one more mishap (it was called the Funny Farm for a reason--anything that could go wrong generally did), we would all have grumbled about the cold and felt put-upon. Instead, we got to spend some close time together doing something we all loved, and I now have a memory of cold that fills me with warmth.

That memory is a good reminder today about how much attitude counts. Was that day a trial or a blessing? Rarely do I experience something that feels like both at the same time, but thanks to my mom's courage and smiles, that day was both.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Late-Winter Resolution

I have finally decided what I want my New Year's Resolution to be. Unfortunately, it's no longer January, so I've missed a couple months, but I figure it's like Christmas cards: better late than never. (Okay, so I have no plans to send out Christmas cards, but it's a nice thought.)

Actually, it's less of a resolution than a theme for the year, but I'm resolving to put it into effect and make it part of my life.

I, Shannon, hereby commit to living life as an adventure. I want to wake up in the morning excited for the day. I'm going to start a journal where I write something every day that was an adventure. It might be drawing a smiley face in the snow. It might be fitting back into a pre-pregnancy outfit. (I found another pair of my old pants that I can fit into, hooray!) But for quite awhile now I've been ignoring all the adventures, and that makes me less eager to wake up in the morning or think about the future.

No more. From now on, this year is about the adventures.