Thursday, January 22, 2015

Brave Bread

I love a good fresh homemade just-out-of-the-oven loaf of bread.
Homemade bread is the best because the smell hits your tummy before the sight fills your eyes.
I was never one to bake bread until I received a bread machine for my birthday years and years ago. With the bread machine I became a bread baker.
And loved it.
I usually skipped those recipes that were just making dough in the machine because I wanted the machine to do all the work for me. I guess it just didn’t feel convenient.
Fast forward quite a few years and I’m working my way towards a Miss Suzie Homemaker badge…. I’m canning, cooking more from scratch and making my own cleaning and laundry supplies…. yeah, I’m a bit wonky like that.
Because really, honestly, I groove on making my own stuff. I started because financially we needed to tighten the purse strings but I continue to because I truly enjoy doing it and have found it really doesn’t take that much more time.

So I decided to start using my bread machine just for prepping the dough.
And I like it.
A lot.
[Example: This pizza dough recipe is the bomb.]

But I’ve still shied away from what I deem “fancy breads”.
Until now… with it being my Year of Brave, I decided to brave the making of some fancy bread.
Actually, Chocolate Chip Brioche

Whoo wee.
I searched online for bread machine recipes for the fancy bread and adapted my own recipe from what I found.
And I made it.
And it’s seriously yummy, as in the-family-couldn’t-stop-eating-it yummy.
Not only is it a yummy tasting fancy bread, it looks like a yummy tasting fancy bread.
Yep, it’s a keeper.

Chocolate Chip Brioche in the Bread Machine
Add ingredients to bread machine in order listed, per your machine’s instructions:
1/3 cup water (room temperature)
1/3 cup milk
3 eggs lightly beaten
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
½ cup sugar
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 ½ tsp bread machine yeast (dry active yeast)

2/3 cup chocolate chips-- Add at “extras” part of bread cycle or in your machine if you have a spot for “extras” like I do (some machines beep to let you know it’s time to add extras and some, like mine, have a compartment for adding your extras at the very beginning)

Egg Wash (to be added right before baking)

Follow the instructions for your bread machine’s dough cycle. For my machine, I select dough cycle, add extras and 1 pound loaf on the control panel and hit start. I love how the machine does all the work for me. Towards the end of the cycle prep your baking sheet by greasing it and dusting with flour.
When the dough cycle is complete, remove the dough and place on a lightly floured surface.

Brioche dough is very sticky so make sure you’ve floured your hands as well! Knead the dough a bit to work in some flour and combat the stickiness then divide it into two equal balls of dough. Using your hands, roll each ball into a 20 inch dough rope.

Place your dough ropes side by side on the greased and floured baking sheet (that you prepped earlier) and braid/twist them together, forming the twisted bread dough into a circle at the same time.

Cover the dough ring with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place until double in size, usually about 30-45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make egg wash. [To make egg wash: whisk one egg, add in 2 tablespoons water and whisk until well blended.]

After dough has doubled in size, using a pastry brush, lightly brush the brioche dough with the egg wash.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until brioche is golden brown.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Brave Scripture for a Bold New Year

A Word of the Year should always have some scripture behind it and I've got a nice assortment of B R A V E verses to encourage me this year.
Here are a few...

Wait for the LORD; 
Be strong and let your heart take courage; 
Yes, wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:14

In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence,
And his children will have refuge. 
Proverbs 14:26

So that we confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?”
Hebrews 13:6

Therefore let us draw near with confidence
to the throne of grace,
so that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

I also typed "brave" into Pinterest and got such an interesting assortment of loveliness that I started a board just for my 2015 Word.

Go here to see the whole board

Which led me to finding Habakkuk 3:19, which rocked my world and spoke right to the deepest parts of me.

So I created a little bit of something from it >>>

The scripture is pulled from the Amplified Bible. He makes me to walk-- to walk! I can walk through whatever comes, I do not have to stand frozen in fright or cower in fear. He will make me to walk and he will walk me through all my whatevers. I don't have to be brave the way the world says "Be Brave" because God is my personal bravery. I am brave because He is my brave. 


And just in case this scripture tugs at your heart like it does mine -- you can print if for your very own right here. For Free.

Let's Be Brave!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2015 Word of the Year: BRAVE

I wanted it to be the Year of the word Dwell or Abide (even though I’ve had that one before…. It would be nice to revisit it again). I wanted a word that soaked in the simple fact of being here at the farm, of growing this big dream and enjoying this place God has given us. I wanted to dwell richly…
and I’ll even cop to a desire to wallow here in this place.
To just enjoy what we’ve been given.
But no such peaceful, quiet, simple Word of the Year was to be mine for 2015.
Instead, God quite firmly spoke to me in my wallowing and gave me my Word of the Year.
To which I said, “No. Please, no. I want to dwell. I want to abide. I want to wallow! Your Word is going to require work and pain and patience... I just know it will require a lot of me. Maybe too much of me, Lord and I don’t want it.”
Yeah, I whined just a wee bit.
Good thing He's a God who hears, who knows, who is patient with such a wretch as I.
He wouldn't let me turn from it. I could not get away from the push and tug of it. God has pushed it at me for weeks and weeks now and I have submitted. I am accepting it fully. I want to say, "accepting with reservations." But my reservations don't matter, because I have decided to embrace this word, because it's His.

2015 is the Year of BRAVE

And God’s already been talking to me about what that entails…. 
That it's so much more than....

Being brave is adventurous, except when it’s braver to not be.
It’s loud and in charge and stepping out, except when it’s quiet, meek, and following.
It’s tough and courageous, except when it’s soft, malleable and mild.
It’s “stiff upper lip” except when it’s braver to weep until you've got nothing left.
It’s about climbing that big, tall, scary mountain and all the adrenalin and spiritual high that brings, except when it’s about sitting in the valley and fully experiencing what comes, fully…. Moment by moment and believing through it all that God still reigns supreme.

It’s the quiet, deeper parts of being brave that are making my knees rattle.
Too often I think brave is about doing, going forth and conquering when it’s apparent that brave is also about being… being still, listening, going nowhere and allowing yourself to be conquered.
Because it’s the very bravest you can be when you give God complete and conquering control of whatever you possess.

It’s about me trying out some new things>>>
Like making fancy brioche bread (Recipe coming soon!)
And other new recipes
Or keeping at this hand-lettering thing I started
And creating
Or making art just for the sake of making
Stepping out in new ministries and the bravery to step out of the one God is calling me from

And being brave about other things>>>
Like my Lu graduating…
And starting college in the fall
Mads turning 15….
And taking drivers ed in the summer
And the Boy, my Sam, finishing 5th grade…
Which means middle school in the fall
Like stepping away from our homeschool group
…. that we’ve been with for ten years, because God said it’s time and I have to be brave and just do it

And it’s about the continuing brave that’s already been started>>>
Like this farm dream we’re in
With more animals, a bigger garden, planting an orchard
Raising my kiddos
And homeschooling
Being the help-meet my man needs
Knowing… yes there is bravery in the knowing…. Knowing that I am enough. That I am beautiful and competent
Genuine…. The bravery to be the genuine real me with myself and with others
Writing…. Because a writer’s gotta write. It can't be helped. And that’s what I am…. A writer. [that’s a braver statement than some think, right there.]

And being brave enough to hop off this crazy merry-go-round at least a few times a week to carve out and capture bits of quiet just for me…. To do things just because I want to do them…. For me. Or do nothing. Nothing at all. For no reason at all.
Which right now seems like one of the bravest things I can do with my time.

I know that it will also be about bigger, scarier, knee-knocking braves that will require much of me.... and I am preparing the only way I can, knees to the ground, head bowed and heart willing. I'm praying for the strength, courage, boldness, grace, determination, and discernment to be the brave He is desiring to work in and through me. 

It’s about the big and the small braves, the loud and the quiet braves- all of them together that pepper, coax and weave themselves into my daily living. And choosing them.

2015- I accept the challenge-
I choose to be B R A V E

Let's do this!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Closing out 2014 with God's Great Grace

Today and tomorrow.... that's all that's left of 2014.

It's been quite a year and true to form, God continues to always be good.
Even when I'm not!
Which makes me extremely thankful.
Seriously extremely.

Like most others, I'm feeling reflective as we wind down twenty fourteen.
It's been a banner year.... good, not so good, down right bad and right up through to amazingly and overwhelmingly awesome.....
You know- the not so good of starting the year with a house that had been on the market for four months without one bite, down right bad like having your pipes freeze solid for 38 straight days to the amazing awesomeness of having our water pipes thaw and getting an offer on our house all in one day! To the overwhelmingness of moving to my childhood home and the realization of our family dream to have a farm.

It. Has. Been. A. Year, folks.
And we've been blessed to see God's hand on every piece of it.
He's good like that.

We just celebrated 7 months on the farm on Christmas Eve, that and these final days of a closing year, have me thinking on my 2014 Word of the Year and how it played out for me....


God's Great Grace....
Oh, how He provided it this year.
How He taught me to see it more clearly and to give it more readily.
To experience it more freely and enjoy it more fully.

I am in awe.... so much that it makes me quiet. I don't know how to form all the words together to describe how His grace has gripped me and taught me these last twelve months.
I think of all that has transpired this year and I see how His grace played out in every circumstance and I know this was exactly the word I needed to be focusing on this year.
It grew me.
Sometimes I liked the growth, other times I chaffed at it... and I admit to a couple of times to stopping in stubbornness, immovable to the rhythm of grace He was teaching.... unable to, at the time, work with the new parameters God was giving me with this so intangible, yet not quite so, thing we call Grace. Yet He continued on and I was able to get a grip on Him and this process and through His grace I was able to proceed with grace.
It's a process I'm still in the midst of.... and probably always will be.

To say it grew me sounds trite and simple and way too small for all that I experienced this year.

Part of me wants to carry Grace with me right over into 2015. Ah, yes.... I contemplated it. I know that I won't stop learning about and growing in His grace in 2015... even if it's not my one word for the year.

And that makes me smile. I need to know that grace carries over and carries through.

And so I find myself  closing out 2014 knowing I am standing where I had always hoped I might stand-- in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting His praise. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Laundry Loveliness: Homemade Stain Remover

Long time readers know my love for homemade laundry supplies such as homemade fabric softener and the always amazing vinegar.....
This summer I found another little potion to add to my laundry arsenal.

I've been testing it for awhile now and I'm ready to share my latest bit of homemade laundry loveliness....

Stain Remover Spray

1 part Blue Dawn Dish Soap
2 parts Hydrogen Peroxide

Pour into a spray bottle and spray lightly onto stained portions of garments, wash as you normally would.

I'm not kidding- 2 ingredients.
I know I was when I first found out about it.

We've been using it exclusively for about 5 months now.
My spray bottle holds a wee bit more than 1 cup so I do 1/3 cup Dawn and 2/3 cup Hydrogen Peroxide. It'll last me approximately one month if we aren't too messy.
It's taken out such pesky stains as pizza sauce, chocolate syrup, ketchup, mustard, dirt, grass stains just to name a few.
And it works.

It's even managed to lesson previously set stains (not removing entirely but lightening them a bit).

I still have my Fels Naptha (and a little scrub brush) which I swear by for the really difficult stains like really ground-in grass stains and blood.
But this right here is my back up. Fels Naptha first and then a spritz or two of this magical potion before I toss it in the wash.

Yes, this stuff really works.
And is ohsovery frugal to boot!

Other Laundry Loveliness Posts you might be interested in:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's the Season of Giving and I've got a Gift for YOU!

There are still presents to be purchased
and made
and wrapped
and cards to be addressed
and stamped
and sent
foodie gifts that need baking
Christmas Party Mix that needs making
etc etc etc

And yet today, instead of doing anything on my To Do List, I decided to get a little creative and create something just for you...
My readers.
Who has stuck around and cheered us on as we put our beloved yellow townie farmhouse up for sale, as we dealt with completely frozen pipes while our house was still for sale, as we sold our house and prepped for our big move, as we moved and started carving a life out here on the farm....
and my blogging dripped instead of flowed and dribbled 'til it about dried up.....

Y'all have been super patient and loyal and I'm just blessed to bits to have you still around.
I want to write more... I've even got a list of bloggy ideas and have taken pictures to go with nonexistent posts.
I'm just really struggling with finding the time to make bloggy magic happen on here.
Sorry 'bout that.

Anyhoo.... as my way of saying Thank You for sticking around and checking in and reading... I created a Christmas printable for you to download and print!

Isn't it lovely?
I'm pretty geeked about it.

Just click on the link below and download your very own print!

I don't know about you but I just needed a little pick-me-up and a good reminder of what Christmas really is.... 
Good Tidings of Great Joy!
For all people!

Enjoy, my dear readers.
And stay hopeful.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hello December

Greetings last month of the year....
You are welcome here.
I think we'll get along just fine.

Last week marked our 6 month farmiversary.
We had a big family dinner and talked about all that we've loved so far and what we're hoping for here on the farm in the near and far future.

Life is adventureful and wonderful and just down right fun 'round here.
For example:
We rescued a donkey today. He was just trotting down the road, wandering and lost. And oh so very friendly. He came right up to us and nuzzled the kiddos and Nana, who were all very smitten.

Leo the friendly donkey neighbor
I think Mads was hoping he was homeless but he was much too nice and well-fed for that and it was only a half hour later that the owners came calling and took their wandering charge back home.
Nan thinks we should have asked if they wanted to sell him.

And just like that, an afternoon adventure with a donkey on the farm has added the following line to our farm goals: Check Craig's List for a donkey.

I love this life.

Our Barred Rock Roosters, Silas & Seamus
We're planning an excursion into the woods sometime this week to gather greens and holly for the house for Christmas. AND to finalize which tree will be our very first Farm Christmas Tree. 
Did I mention how I love this life?

Yes, it's been six months.... and we're still in the farm honeymoon stage.
I'll continue to enjoy it for all it's worth for as long as it will last.

Oh, we do have our low points.... like when the chickens ate 2 of the 3 pumpkins we managed to nurse along and grow this year. And my prize tomatoes... they ate quite a few of those too. And the raspberries. Naughty chickens.
Or when last week's deluge of water caused leaks in the master bedroom and The Boy's room.... right above his bed. Complete with crumbling, falling plaster. Plaster we had replaced/repaired just this past spring.
At least the porch didn't leak.... much.
Yes, replace roof is on our spring to do list.....

And as for the part about my parents living with us.... well we're 192 days into this three generations-under-one-roof gig and we're doing spectacularly well.  How's living with the 'rents? I'm pleasantly surprised at how well we've all taken to it. Really.
No I'm not kidding. We're a good quirky fit. As long as you don't count my mom's dog that likes to eat our clothes when we're not looking.... I'm not feeling very loving or even friendly towards that pooch..... but my parents? I love that we're sharing this adventure together.

Life here is eventful.... and mostly just.... FULL.
And we love it.


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