the essence of home

February 29, 2012

When I think of home- our little red brick home tucked away in the middle of the prairies- the first thing that calls up into my mind would be our family's leather Bible.  I think of how papa opens it every night after supper and how his handsome, quiet voice lets the words drop and fall into the air.  How in years to come, it'll be impossible for me to forget his brown eyes looking into mine as he reads those blessed words and talks about them freely to us.

I'll stop before I have us all crying.

The other thing would be the smell of bread.  It exists in our house like air does.  Ever since I was little, bread was always being made and baked by mama's hands.  I remember- when I was four or so- being allowed to have a small piece of dough to roll and roll to my heart's content- just like mama.  When we went to nana's house, you could just expect to have fresh baked bread with dinner.

When I got to be around 12, I began learning the art of breadmaking.  Don't use too much flour...  There is such a thing as overkneading and overrising your dough.  Don't forget the yeast!  The lighter the bread, the better the bread.  Rising is essential- just don't overdo it!  And for goodness sake child wear your apron!  Thus began my love affair with bread.

This week was one of those weeks where a person just yearned for the taste of hot bread in their mouth.  So I made some one morning and thought I'd share the recipe with y'all.

maple syrup oat Loaf

1 cup + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
¼ cup unsalted butter, diced
1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats, ground for 30 seconds in a blender or food processor
¾ cup whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
5 tablespoons maple syrup
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast

to do

Combine all the dough ingredients, and mix and knead them until you have a soft, smooth dough.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or 8-cup measure (the measure lets you track the dough's progress as it rises), and let it rise until nearly doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.
Lightly grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan.
Gently deflate the dough, and shape it into a 9" log. Place it in the prepared pan. Cover the pan and let the bread rise until it crowns about 1 ½" over the rim of the pan, 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours.
Preheat the oven to 350°F  Uncover the bread, and bake it for 40 to 45 minutes.  Remove the bread from the oven, and after about a minute turn out onto a rack to cool.
Yield: one 9" x 5" loaf



miscellaneous favorites

February 25, 2012

1.  Baby.  She's indeed here. She's beautiful and new and by far my favorite present ever.  (I call her baby just because my Nana has always called me that and I've always related that to home.  Also, I love that name for an endearment so "Baby" she is).  Baby is a Nikon D3000 with a 200-55 mm lens and a 18-55 mm lens.  To say I am slightly obsessed would be a major understatement.  Try "in love" and you'd get a bit close to the truth.

2.  Aperture.  It's amazing all I can do is shake my head and say "where have you been all my life," and shoot away.  The soft, hazy blur in a picture delight and thrills my eyes and I can't believe that I can actually create that gorgeous effect in a picture.  Bliss is something I could get very used to...

3.  I like ruffles.  And lace.  Or you could say "I like luffles and race" just to be fun, but either way is pretty good.  Anyways, ruffles and lace are so very likeable because they are so very flexible, dainty, pretty, and cheap (if you can find them whilst thrifting) and they're amazingly lovely.  The creamy colors grace any decoration or project and give it a vintage flair.  I have a rather large collection of ruffles and lace.  Or luffles and race, if you will.  I've come by them through antique stores, friends, thrift stores, scrap boxes, etcetera.  The simply have an old fashioned charm about them that makes them irresistibly pretty.

4.  Old books.  Antique, purely vintage looking books.  Have you ever read or looked through a book 40 or 50 years old?  It's a delight and treasure.  The whole personality and aura of the soft yellow pages, faded gray ink, small spaced letters that make up the gigantic words that were used back then is like taking a breath of old air from a long gone world that you and I can only wish we could see.

5.  Watching a great movie with friends.  There's simply something about snuggling down under a blanket or two, laptop playing at the end of your bed, and a bunch of girls whispering and giggling over quotes, scenes, characters, etcetera.  Everyone perfectly happy and joyful and just enjoying friendship to the fullest.

What are your favorites?

p.s. thanks so much for all the wonderful birthday notes!  I loved them all and feel so blessed. <3


February 20, 2012

"I jumped out of bed that morning with one question in my mind- sun or fog?... on a rare and magic day- a white winter sun broke through." -The Hiding Place.

I felt the same way as I woke up this morning.  I looked out my window above my dear old desk and saw there was a hazy morning sun in the back of several gray clouds.  The tree that stands outside my other window had a cluster of chattering birds.  It was like they were singing just for me in their sweet, shrill little voices.  I stayed in bed a little longer, enjoying myself immensely, listening to a chorus of feet and whispers downstairs.

As I found my favorite clothes, I saw and remembered a whole a year in my mind's eye.  I thought back to my 14th birthday.  I was a girl sure that she knew everything and could handle life very well and was completely grown up.  Ha!  There was to be much struggling and learning with that idea in my head...  But I'd like to think that I've- at the most- matured.  I can confidently say that I've got a better grasp on what life is and what's important and what's not.  What fights are worth fighting and which dreams are worth pursuing and what dreams aren't worth chasing.  I don't say that I haven't anything left to learn- on the contrary- I know that I've got a huge big life ahead and it's going to be brim full with choices, hard decisions, tears, and trials.  But I do have a choice whether or not to greet them with a smile or a sigh.

While I am very much ready for what fifteen brings, and what this thing we call "growing up" will exactly all about, I find myself saddened to leave my year of fourteen.  It was a good year for me.  I've learned a lot and found  to love so many things- photography, baking, writing, blogging, and crafting- to say a few.  My life has indeed changed very much since a year ago, but I love my life right now for what it is.  I know now that I should expect a million more changes in my life but for now, I like where I am and want to enjoy it and live it fully.


afternoon hour

February 17, 2012

It's quiet and still; Everything is resting and slowing.  The hazy warmth that floods through the sky creates this beautiful aura we call the afternoon.  It's silent enough to hear the church bells singing in their husky, booming voices from far away, and the sun has already reached her prime in the sky and is now beginning her so descent to the edge of the land.

Daddys will get off of work soon, mamas will be home waiting with suppers, and the children await anxiously for the moment when they can race to the door and call the first hug from their Daddy.  Everyone stays busy doing what they always do, and girls like you and me smile happily and record this beautiful life.

There's always the last song that must be whistled by the birds, last photographs to be taken before the evening is come, and the quickly fading afternoon must always come to an end, as it always does.

What's your afternoons like?

p.s. excuse the random pictures... *smiles* I didn't have much of anything else.

She's my valentines

February 14, 2012

We were in the kitchen, boiling water for tea (courtesy of Miss Grace) listening to "You light up my life" by Debby Boone.  Morgan danced and twirled and sang in her nightgown.  I watched her her for a while and smiled to myself.  Suddenly, I asked "Let's be each other's Valentines today, Morgan!"  She said okay.  We started to dance together (which we rarely aren't doing) up and down our narrow little kitchen, singing, screaming, yelling, and laughing, and just being each others.

As I sit here, reminiscing the morning, I realized that my sister has always been my Valentines.  Morgan has been my best friend, my confidant, my helper, and my "goozshum" and I'm her "berry" *just an endearing name that we made up and use for each other* That sounds strange to a lot of people as we're six years apart and she's being only eight years old.  Eight and a half- do excuse me.  But it's every bit true.  We've always been close and this year more than ever.

Morgan knows me like no one else does.  She knows everything I am and never has asked me for more than that.  We do get into tiffys sometimes but we usually get over it within little time and forgive each other without having to say anything much.

I grin as I happily realized that she's my Valentines.  And always has been.


Silent and Happy

February 9, 2012

Up on my little perch (which happens to be my dear old wooden desk) I see a slow falling world of white.  These delicate and powdery snowflakes fly daintily down out of no where and up above, is a light gray sky quickly to fade into utter darkness.  Slowly, tiny drifts of snow build up on leaves, branches, the ground, and long dead blades of grass.

Opera plays softly in the background, and children in the next room laugh and giggle at some mysterious joke.  The wonderful smell of a homemade supper finds its way into my little corner of the world.  My southern mama can cook like nobody's business and I'm so lucky to have her.  It's warm here in the cottage and I gaze out the cold window to see a world of a delicate, frosty white.

I like the spontaneous nature of these prairies...  The fact that snow can come so very mysteriously out of no where.  It takes you by surprise and increases the beauty of it.  It made my day pleasantly special.


p.s. excuse my "little" break from blogging.  It was so very refreshing and inspiring to be on the computer less.  I loved every minute of it but am so happy to be back.

I got tagged. Twice.

February 4, 2012

From Emily:

What is your favorite quote?
probably "Look at me...  Look back at me." from North and South
Do you prefer sunrises or sunsets?
sunrises.  Definitely
What is your favorite dessert?
Umm... probably my Nana's strawberry cake from scratch.
Do you have a favorite subject in school?
Algebra and History
Did you have snow on Christmas day?
Technically yes, but we spent Christmas in Louisiana so while it snowed in Texas, we were down there with my grandparents. :-P
Do you have a favorite Jane Austen book/movie adaption?
Pride and Prejudice!  And Emma.
Do you prefer patterned socks, solid colored socks, or bare feet?
Bare feet.
Do you make your bed every morning?
Mostly...  It's rather messy as of now but that's just 'cause it's the weekend!
What color is your bedroom wall?
Haha!  I'm not sure... kind of a skin toned, tanish, pinkish color.
What are your top five favorite colors?
Right now, a dusty pink, sandy brown, light LIGHT green, gray, and a light sea green blue.
Do you prefer sandals, sneakers, boots, or high heels?
Rubber boots.  They are awesome .

1. What is your favorite color?
That's hard.  Umm... LIGHT light green.
2. What is your favorite flower?
Green Zinnias
3. What hobbies do you have?
Heavens preserve us- that is tough...  Knitting, writing, blogging to say a few. 
4. Do you like raisins in your cinnamon rolls?
No.  No.  No.  Cinnamon rolls (and oatmeal cookies) should never ever have raisins in them.  Just sayin'...
5. Pants or skirt?
6. Boots or sandals?
7. Hot weather or cold weather?
8. If you HAD to die by hanging, guillotine, drowning, the stake, stabbing, sucked up by a tornado, shot (arrow or a bullet, your choice), crushed, eating too much, or struck by lightning, which would you choose?
I'd be shot in the back (just for the novelty of it).
9. Which do you like better: Poke-o-dots, Plaid, or Stripes? And which do you where most often?
10. If you could choose the color of your eyes, what color would they be?
11. What inspires you (the answer should be over three things)?
My family, colors, pinterest, and... nature.
Okay, and I'm just going to post 11 things about myself:

  1. I don't like coconut
  2. My bed actually happens to be messy today...  But I already said that.  Oh well.
  3. I've been listening to the same song over and over again for the last 2 days
  4. Morgan is sitting right next to me, correcting my spelling and dictating mostly everything I say
  5. I want to write a very long letter to a certain friend right now but can't seem to find the time
  6. I've finally found a good granola recipe
  7. I like sharpie fine point pins.  A lot.
  8. I've just finished writing a newspaper :-)
  9. I am very glad I made myself armwarmers because they are very helpful during winter.
  10. I'd like to go to Paris and climb the Eifel Tower.  I would NOT take the elevator to get to the top.
  11. I really, really, really want to have a bunch of kids.  When I am married.
Now, you must answer these questions (people I tag)
  1. City or country?
  2. Favorite color?
  3. Do you like to read?
  4. Favorite song?
  5. Do you randomly break out in song?
  6. Do you like being tagged?
  7. Confederates or yankees?
  8. Do you care at all for opera?
  9. Do you like getting handwritten letters?
  10. What are you wearing?
  11. who. will. you. tag?
Okay, I'm gonna tag...

You three are wonderful and I appreciate all your sweet comments.  As well as the rest of y'all.
Ta da!  Now you know a little bit more about,
yours truly


February 1, 2012

I happen to like February.  It has a lovely mixture of my favorites, which give me something something to look forward to and anticipate...  Like my birthday :-)  And the way you can visibly see winter fading and giving away to the inevitable spring.  I love being able to savor the last few times I can possibly sip a mug of hot tea before it get's hot and take pictures of that winter sky.  I'm not going to lie though, I never really miss winter but I do enjoy it when it's around.

Looking out from my window, I see the gorgeous promise of a full spring in the seemingly dead brown branches of the silent trees.  It's that in between time.  It's not that cold anymore but it still looks like winter.

So with that, I'll leave you... but with a poem I finished today.  Thoughts?


Was it the song in a dream
That haunts you in your sleep?
Or the melody you caught one day
From some place far away?

It's the silent song that follows you
In your mind alone it plays
You always try to grasp it's tune
But it's always too late

Because like a ship in a tempest
The silent song must vanish
Leaving you haunted and breathless
Pale, shaken but somehow fearless

You can only faintly recall
 The instense rise and fall
And the eerie fading throng
Of your ever silent song.


p.s. poem inspired by this song