Truth Tuesday / / 002

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Thank you for all of your responses to my first Truth Tuesday! I had so much fun compiling my first list, I thought I’d do another.

Here are my truths for this Tuesday.

/ / In junior high, I had a geocities website devoted to 7th heaven. I was pretty active on message boards, making friends and enjoying the community activity. Geocities didn’t have buttons for italicizing or bolding fonts, so I even learned how to code a little.

/ / In college, a couple friends asked me to “model” for a school project. I really hope Ogden* (who also photographed our wedding) achieved a passing grade because Oy! some of my faces are priceless. This was clearly around the time I watched a lot of America’s Next Top Model 🙂

/ / I swam competitively for almost ten years. Even at the peak of my cardio ability, I barely managed running a mile without gasping for air and stretching out a side cramp. Swimming for two hours each night? No problem. Running and I simply don’t mix.

/ / Food has become super complicated lately: paleo, vegan, gluten-free, whole 30, no sugar, sugar (only if it’s unrefined!), organic, but better yet just grow your own food on your own farm. Food is taking up a lot of headspace and yet, it’s such a privilege to be able to choose to eat or not eat something. I miss the days where as long as I ate salad it was okay to eat cake.

/ / After the 1996 USA Olympic women’s gymnastic team won gold, I convinced my parents to let me take lessons. It only lasted three months before I determined I should stick with water; there’s less hand/eye coordination needed.

What are your Truths for this Tuesday?

*© o.m.f.c. photography

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The Art of Artisanal Bread

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Learning to maintain a pantry has been more challenging for me than learning to cook. What constitutes a well-stocked pantry is different for everyone, but once achieved, it certainly makes the question, “What’s for dinner?” easier to answer. I combed sites like thekitchn.com to get a general idea, but it’s mostly trial and error, “Why did I purchase those lasagna noodles if I’ll never make lasagna?”

It’s not difficult to swing by the grocery store or farmer’s market in the summer for a missing ingredient, but that’s not always possible during the winter months. It seemed to snow a few times each week this winter season, so keeping our staples on hand was important: beans, canned tomatoes, a few grains (pasta, quinoa, rice) milk, flour, eggs, butter and bread. This, of course, is pretty barebones but still allows for options. Specifically eggs, butter and bread. I can do a lot with eggs and bread.

Eggs and toast is a fallback meal either for breakfast or a light dinner, but looking at bread ingredient labels is a little disheartening. Why is there so much unnecessary crap in them? Especially since the essence of bread is flour, yeast, salt and water; all things I have at home. I’ve been making my own pizza dough for years, but for everyday bread? That seemed time consuming and impractical. I received Artisanal Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. Their tagline is “mix once, bake many…” Alright, I could handle that.

Their premise involves a slightly wetter dough that keeps in the refrigerator (up to two weeks) and doesn’t need much work, i.e. kneading. The basic recipe makes about 4 1 lb. loaves* that you pull apart and bake freeform on a pizza stone (or ceramic tiles). I’ve used other recipes but I like the fact that the dough rests in the refrigerator until I am ready to use it. Relying solely on their master recipe, I don’t feel the need to go back to store-bought bread again!

The book has so many different styles of bread. I look forward to branching into bagels and flatbread.

The Master Recipe

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 all-purpose flour (I have also used bread flour)

Warm the water (it can be cold, it’ll just take a little longer to rise) and add salt and yeast. Mix just slightly (it doesn’t really need to dissolve) before adding all of the flour. I use a wooden spoon to incorporate the water mixture and flour until it comes together. Sometimes I add a little more water if it feels dry. Cover and set aside for 2-5 hours (sometimes I forget and let it rise longer). After the first initial rise session, refrigerate with a lid until ready to use. You can bake immediately but Hertzberg and François recommend waiting and refrigerating overnight.

When it is time to bake, pre-heat oven to 450. Slice off the amount of dough needed and slowly stretch a little to reshape into a ball, which they call cloaking*. Due to the wet dough you’ll want some flour on your hands. Set the ball aside to rest for about 40 minutes. Using a cerated knife make a few slices to the top of the dough. They suggest using a pizza wheel to place dough onto pizza stone, but I just grab it with my hands and carefully toss it onto the stone. You can also place a baking pan with water in the oven to create a steam bath. It helps create a nice crust. I have forgotten on occasion though.

Bake for about 30 minutes. The outside will look golden when ready.

Slather on the butter and honey. Enjoy!

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*While researching videos on how to cloak, I discovered the authors have a youtube channel which has helpful tips for yeast breads.

*I usually only get 3 loaves out of each batch. I grabbed a smaller amount this time, but I think I made it too small 🙂

An Anniversary Weekend

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A few months ago we found out our friend, Tony Rabit, was going to have his art featured at Rotofugi Gallery. The opening turned out to be the night before our anniversary so we decided to stay downtown for the night and make a weekend out of it! Tony’s work is so whimsical and fun. We can’t wait to add the piece we bought to one of our wall galleries.

The weather was perfect on Saturday. I wore my Saltwater Sandals (being hopeful that it would stay warm) and by the afternoon we were stripping off our light jackets.

My only request to Jordan for our weekend was to eat brunch together. I love breakfast food but since I’m usually working early mornings, we don’t enjoy this meal together often. We chose The Gold Coast location of the Original Pancake House (we ate there on our one year anniversary 🙂 ) and landed a table outside on their patio! My 30 day dairy-free trial run ended on Friday, just in time to enjoy diner coffee with cream…but it’s looking like I’ll be eliminating it again. My acne flared up pretty bad almost immediately!

We wanted to enjoy being outside, so we kept on walking and found ourselves in Lincoln Park (plus the walk helped burn off those pancakes). I thought we had seen everything at the zoo from our visits last summer, but we somehow had never gone inside the Lincoln Park Conservatory, which sits on the same property. It is so beautiful and lush; just the foliage we needed to experience after this long winter.

Most of all I just appreciated this time together: talking about the past, present and our future without the usual distractions. Thanks for another great anniversary, babe!

p.s. We played tennis on Sunday for the first time this year and oh my abs! Swinging the racquet is quite the workout. While I love practicing yoga there is nothing quite like working up a sweat outside.

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^ The colors throughout the conservatory were amazing.

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^ They had these little, prehistoric plastic animals all over. what a fun idea!

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Six

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“My heart is, and always will be, yours.” – Sense and Sensibility

Six years. Six years just me and you. Thank you for sharing this journey. Here’s to all the rest. xoxo

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^ Our bridal party were major troopers that day through the rain and snow! I definitely misjudged the choice of bridesmaid dress for spring!

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^ I had fun looking back through these photos. We couldn’t find them saved anywhere on our computer/hard drives but thankfully I found the master disc!

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A Grateful Heart

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^ digital camera selfie circa 2010

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Last week was rough. My mood was about as pleasant as the rainy cold weather. When my Target run involved restocking my tampon supply (#truthtuesday) I was over it. Life that is. I started to annoy myself, which is the telltale sign something needs to change. I needed to remember to fight the battles of life with a grateful heart.

Life is filled with seasons of drought and plenty, which appear to interchange almost seamlessly. While reading through Galatians recently, I was struck by the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23): love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The footnote for joy was gladness, which means, “a feeling or state of well-being and contentment.” Yeah, that hadn’t been me at all the past few days!

At my old job one of our guiding principles was, “fake it until you make it.” There is so much truth to that simple and cliché sounding phrase. Once I began giving thanks (even while I was wallowing in my own self-pity and not feeling thankful or content), my mood lifted and I began noticing blessings all around.

Here is to a fresh, more positive, week.

/ / My marriage and friendship with Jordan. He deserves a gold star for the way he cares for me particularly through this season of life.

/ / My friends and family. The silent and vocal cheerleading means so much to me.

/ / After experiencing a 19 year old friend receive her double lung transplant last year, I have a whole new respect for my body. I may not be pregnant but I’m able to accomplish any physical task that is required of me and for that I’m grateful.

/ / A loving God that provides purpose and hope for my future. While it hasn’t looked like the future I had planned, it is a good future.

/ / The fact that dark chocolate doesn’t have dairy. You better believe dark chocolate is being consumed on the regular.

/ / Afternoon walks around our neighborhood.

/ / Summer plans. I don’t know how many more “carefree” summers we’ll have alone, so I’m planning on fully embracing this one.

What are you grateful for this week?

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Grateful Heart Monday

Rumours

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When I was 14 or 15, I went through a pop country phase (but with a little Blink-182 and The Cranberries mixed in 😉 ). Faith Hill, Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks were in heavy rotation. The Dixie Chicks included a cover song, “Landslide”, on their 2002 album, Home. I was aware that Stevie Nicks sang the original version, but I didn’t know that it was actually a Fleetwood Mac song from their 1975 self-titled album.

I enjoy staying current on all things pop culture. But sometimes I find myself drifting so far into the now that I forget about the past. Recently, Jordan found a really nice vinyl of Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album, Rumours. Recently, we’ve enjoyed listening to it in the evenings and becoming more versed in the band’s rich history as a result.

The story of Fleetwood Mac is full of twists and turns and corkscrews. Americans, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were bandmates-turned couple-turned singing duo that were approached to join a British import band. By 1974 Fleetwood Mac had already released nine albums, but reached mainstream success with the help of Buckingham and Nicks. Rumours has sold 45 million copies and currently ranks as the sixth highest-selling-album of all time, which is kind of amazing.

Despite members drifting in and out – drug rehab stints for Nicks and others, and the ever changing music scene, they have remained an active band. I’m hoping it’ll work out for us to see them this fall on their On With the Show Tour.

The super deluxe edition of Rumours is available now, which includes live performances and demos. One of my favorite songs on the album is, “I Don’t Want To Know.”

Have you revisited any albums lately?

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^ I’m loving Stevie’s hair and Christine McVie’s head scarf in this photo. There was such an ease to styling in the 70s.

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Cultivating Memories

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I’ve always been kind of a sentimental person. As a little girl, my mom gave me tupperware bins to store nicknacks, letters and pictures. My nieces are pretty fortunate that I didn’t go through a purging stage in high school because my room makes a fun play place whenever they visit my parent’s house. Jordan and I enjoy filling our home with select special pieces: passed down furniture from relatives, photos, trinkets and mementos from vacations. I recently found all of my old concert and movie tickets and I added them to our glass jar where we store our tickets. One of which is from our first movie we saw together in 2005.

I can walk through our house and remember the antique store in New Mexico where I bought a little hand statue that holds simple necklaces or the day walking around Chelsea in London before purchasing a letter press “£” or the pair of perfectly worn-in dining room chairs that came from my uncle’s old fraternity house.

I cherish these photos we’ve taken this past year, some of which make it on this space, because they tell stories and help maintain memories. This particular set will remind me of a crisp, not-quite-winter-but not-quite-spring day where we met new friends at Creative Mornings and a coffee shop, surprised my dad for lunch and watched Lake Michigan’s ice retreat and give way to spring.

Oh Chicago, thank you for providing a beautiful backdrop to our life.

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Truth Tuesday

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A couple of months back, I noticed women sharing “truth moments” surrounding motherhood on social media. While I supported the cause through likes and comments, I inherently thought I couldn’t join without being a mom. That thought plagues me often, the one where I think I don’t belong because I’m still waiting for that right of passage as a grown woman. It feels similar to when we wait for our first bra; you don’t want to be the last. You don’t want to be left behind. I realize that is a dangerous and unhealthy road to travel, but never the less the thought sneaks in often.

So, as just me, a women, here are my truths for this Tuesday.

// I use paper towels. I know the environment hates me but, until I have my own washer/dryer, I’m not sitting on filthy rags for a week.

// Sometimes I workout four days a week, sometimes it’s only once. When life is hectic or overwhelming I let it go and pick back up the next week…it’s been a long winter, ok! 🙂

// Long division? Forget about it. I don’t remember how to do it by hand anymore!

// I actually do enjoy cooking, but a week long meal plan still alludes me. Despite my best efforts, cereal or eggs wind up being dinner towards the end of the week.

// I enjoy watching television and becoming invested in the characters lives. Jordan and I feel like we are basically a part of the Braverman clan.

// On certain occasions when editing photos, I’ve used the Photoshop patch tool to remove breakouts on my face.

// When I was younger, I used a notebook to jot down every Baby-sitters Club book I read to make sure I didn’t miss or re-read one. I will still watch the movie if it happens to be on TV!

What are your Truths?

/ / linking with jack of all trades

{Dairy-free} Coconut Whipped Cream

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When eliminating a dietary group (in my case dairy), the multitasking ability of food will suddenly reveal itself with just a little poking around. Maybe it’s fairly common knowledge in tropical climates, but living in the Midwest, the different uses for coconut products never crossed my mind. Jordan and I use coconut milk in smoothies and of course coconut flakes in baking, but the creativity stopped there. Oh, how little did I know!

My friend, Lauren, mentioned using coconut cream and powdered sugar to make whipped cream (I didn’t even know coconut cream existed). I decided to give it a try and I’m so glad I did, because it is really good! Whipped cream is not something I make or consume regularly, but considering traditional ice cream is out for awhile, this will be my go-to treat for summer nights.

After searching pinterest for inspiration, I added lemon juice and vanilla to the base. This was a suggestion from the blog, Love and Lemons. I’m not sure why, but most sources that I found said to refrigerate canned coconut milk and then separate the cream from the milk. I skipped that step and used canned coconut cream.

I’m looking forward to fresh summer berries with a dash of this cream because this is seriously one of the best “whipped creams” I’ve ever tasted!

Coconut Cream

You will need:

1 can coconut cream (refrigerated overnight)
1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 – 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I like it with the extra vanilla)
splash of lemon juice

Instructions:

Cream the coconut the same way you would for a traditional whipped cream (hand-held or stand mixer). Once it has reached the desired consistency (it took just a few minutes), slowly incorporate the rest of the ingredients.

Chill and serve over berries, pie, cake, granola or alone on a spoon 🙂

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^sometimes our dining room table is for creating and not for eating 🙂

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It’s Called, “Healing Crisis.”

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My computer is back! * High fives all around * I’m ready to get back into the swing of things on this space 🙂

In other news, as of Friday morning, I am attempting a dairy-free diet. While my stomach doesn’t get upset by dairy, I do suffer from consistent sinus headaches and acne that has been resistant to all forms of intervention. Jordan started suggesting eliminating dairy awhile ago, but I was hesitant. What about my yogurt, grilled cheese, and half and half?! What will I put in my coffee? After my research continually hinted at a link between these symptoms and dairy, I couldn’t ignore the possibility that things might get better if I made this adjustment. And so I began my dairy test.

Continue reading “It’s Called, “Healing Crisis.””