No Knead Crusty Bread & Homemade Butter

No Knead Crusty Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp of yeast
  • 1 tsp of sea salt or himalayan salt
  • 1.5 cups of warm water

Directions:

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well using a whisk. Add water and stir until dough is sticky. Do not over mix! Cover bowl and let dough rise for 12-24 hours. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place dutch oven in your preheated oven for 30 minutes. Flour your hands and remove dough from bowl. Form dough into a loaf. Once dutch oven is preheated, place the dough in your dutch oven. (I cut out a round piece of parchment paper and place it on the bottom of my dutch oven prior to adding the dough.) Cover with lid and place back in the oven for 30 minutes. Take lid off and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Turn off stove, shake loaf onto a cooling rack, and clean up any leftover mess. 

Homemade Butter

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of organic heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)

Directions:

Using a blender or food processor, whip cream until butter separates (about 10 minutes). Strain off excess liquid and add salt (if desired). Form butter using your hands further removing any liquid. 

Do you have a bread recipe you’d like to share? What about butter? I’d love to swap recipes with you!

Advertisements

Common Scents

Fragrance is an important part of my life. When my home and I smell good, I feel good. Bad smells do not make me feel good and are often referred to as offensive. I find overpowering, chemically-laden perfumes, colognes, air fresheners, and detergents pretty darn offensive, too. Since I am striving to live a more affordable, back-to-basics, natural lifestyle, I make my own skin and haircare products, laundry detergent, and other cleaning products out of basic, natural ingredients. In the beginning of my DIY journey, I thought my house and I smelled boring, then I was introduced to essential oils.

Not all essential oils are created equal. I did not know this until I attended some classes on the benefits of using essential oils. If you’d like more information on essential oils, I’d suggest doing some research at the library or online. You can probably find a class on essential oils near you. The classes really helped me understand how essential oils work and the benefits I can expect from using them. 

I add essential oils to my homemade cleaning products, laundry detergent, and skin and haircare products. I dab a few drops on my pulse points, on the bottoms of my feet, and on my scalp. I even put a drop of oil in my mouth after I brush my teeth with sea salt.

In addition to using essential oils, I burn quality incense and candles, mull spices, and place fresh flowers around my home. House plants are used in place of air purifiers- and they add natural beauty to any home. These are all affordable ways to replace expensive, toxic fragrances. 

What are some of your favorite fragrances? Have you tried using essential oils instead of perfume and air freshener? 

The Art Of Solitude

I have never been one who likes to be alone, especially not on a Friday night. When I say alone, I’m not referring to being single, I am referring to being alone, literally.

I live alone. The reason I live alone is because my domestic practices differ from those of all of my former housemates. So much so that my living environments never felt like a home to me. Although I love the way it feels to live in a home I put together myself, I sometimes miss coming home to people. My housemates became my friends, my shoulders to cry on, my dinner dates, my wing men and women, my family.

Being single adds to the loneliness. I’m usually single but prior to two years ago I always had housemates with whom I shared my life. Now that I’m single and I live alone I thought it necessary to practice enjoying my own company for once.

This week I’ve spent more time alone than I have in years. In solitude I finished a few chapters of the book I’m writing, wrote some poetry, read books on subjects that interest me, meditated, took long walks, made delicious food for myself, prayed, practiced affirmations, took myself to dinner, and crocheted a Harry Potter scarf. And guess what? It was uncomfortable, but refreshing.

Many times I’ve heard it said that we need to learn to be okay being alone. I believe it’s normal to not be okay being alone; people are made for community. I do, however, believe that I had become so reliant on others that I felt like something was wrong with me if I didn’t have an entourage or a romantic partner. I have discovered that relying on people for my emotional security isn’t realistic nor is it healthy.

Practicing the art of solitude this week has helped rejuvenate me so that I can participate in life with others… in a healthy way.

How do you practice the art of solitude? Do you enjoy your own company?

Independence Day Musings

On the 4th of July I was inundated with Facebook posts about patriotism, freedom, veterans, and immigration. These posts got me thinking about what it actually means to be an American.

I am an OEF and OIF war veteran. I did not join the military because I’m patriotic, I joined because I had no parents to guide me, no money, no education, and I was homeless. I was 18 years old when I joined, 19 when I deployed.

During the beginning stages of Operation Enduring Freedom, media reporters interviewed college students regarding their thoughts on the war. The dominant question asked was, “Are you proud to be an American?” to which the reply, “Hell yeah!” or something like it. The next question was the game changer, “Since you’re so proud of your American heritage, would you join the military and fight to protect it?” Obviously their answers were no. The reason for their no is priceless: “I’m too young to join, I’m in the prime of my life.”

The age-range of the MAJORITY of the U.S.’s active duty enlisted is 19-24. Would it be safe to say that most of our military service men and women are also too young and in the prime of their lives? Yes, yes it would. Unfortunately, not everyone has the backing of mommy and daddy, and the military provides security for those without other known options.

Americans get so bent out of shape over immigration. I don’t quite understand this. Wasn’t this country founded by foreigners? Who are we to say which foreigners are the right kind and which are not? America used to be the country people were free to move to to start a life they would not be able to have in their native countries. I mean, that’s how we all got here originally. Am I wrong in believing this? I think not.

Be patriotic if you must. I’m not suggesting you stop, but do understand what you’re supporting. True patriotism means supporting our veterans and our country’s military. I am not suggesting we support ridiculous wars and the mass murder of innocent people because that would be stupid. I’m talking about supporting the people who put in THEIR time so YOU don’t have to.

True patriotism also means supporting and protecting those who risk their lives to be with us so that they, too, can have the freedom so many get to enjoy. If our ancestors were murdered or kicked out of America when they came here to start over, where do you think you’d be?

Patriotism is kind of like religion- lots of talk and not a lot of follow through. True patriots are productive members of society. They do not sit around collecting government assistance complaining about the war, immigration, and the like. They take action to build a better America for its current and future residents.

Are you a bleeding-heart patriot? What actions are you taking to support America?

Specificity Is Everything

Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. Simple enough, right? Of course! But how many of us make decisions based on what it is we truly want, not what we think will happen if we’re lucky?

I’m one of those people that thought life just happened, and that I could never have what I truly want because of the following:

1. I was a ward of the state for 16 years.
2. I was a victim of extreme abuse.
3. I was a gypsy, not because it’s considered “cool” to be one these days, but because I didn’t posses the skills to handle money responsibly.
4. I was a drug addict.
5. I had no solid educational background because, being a ward of the state, I moved around more times than anyone I’d ever met.

I thought good things only happened to white people, rich or middle-class people, lucky people, and anyone who grew up better than me. I know now that anyone- especially in western culture- is capable of making their dreams a reality. The sad news is that most people still believe the lie that good things only happen to certain, lucky people. The sadder news is that most over-privileged people feel even more victimized by life than the rest of us!

Our society teaches us to lack vision. We are not taught to take responsibility for our outcomes. Thus, we are spoiled and dissatisfied all at the same time.

When I decided I no longer wanted to be a homeless junkie, I would write down what I wanted my life to look like instead. I was specific about what I wanted to achieve and then I took the uncomfortable actions necessary to change my reality- I asked former junkies to show me how to get, and stay, clean and sober. I moved into a shelter, got a job, and saved my money. When I had enough saved, I looked for an apartment. My dream of having my own place finally came true at the age of 31 because I finally took responsibility and got specific!

Now I’m pursuing my lifelong dream of being a prolific writer. I only know that I can do it because of what I’ve already accomplished. If I can change my life… anyone can.

What do you really want? What actions are you taking to make your dreams come true? What actions have been keeping you from becoming who you want to be?

DIY Dish Soap

DIY Dish Soap

What you need:
1 3/4 c. Boiling Water
1 tbsp. Borax
1 tbsp. Castile Soap (either liquid or grated bar)
15-20 drops essential oils, optional (however, will increase the cleaning power of your soap)

What you do:
Whisk water, borax, and castile soap together. Let stand for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. Your soap will gel upon standing. Transfer to a bottle and add essential oils.

Do you make dish soap? Share your recipe here!

Simple Chicken Dinner

Chicken
Ingredients
Thinly sliced chicken breasts
South African Smoke seasoning
Himalayan salt
Ghee

Directions
Rub the chicken on both sides with SAS seasoning and let your pieces sit for 10-30 minutes afterwards. When ready, turn stove on to medium heat and set skillet on the burner. Add a generous amount of ghee and let it melt for a bit before adding the chicken. After chicken is placed on the skillet, add salt then cover and let cook for about 3 minutes. Uncover and turn the pieces over. Continue cooking uncovered for about 2 minutes. Turn stove off and remove chicken from the skillet.

Potatoes
Ingredients
Red potatoes
Olive oil
Butter
Himalayan salt
Freshly ground pepper

Directions
Boil water in a pot. Once boiling, add potatoes. Boil until you can stick a fork or a toothpick into the potatoes easily. Drain potatoes. Add olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper. Mash with a masher.

Kale
Ingredients
Kale (rinsed and with stems torn off)
Olive oil
Freshly minced garlic
Fresh lemon juice
Himalayan salt

Directions
Massage kale by hand with olive oil and lemon juice for about 5 minutes. Once massaged to your liking, add garlic and salt. Lightly toss.

Serving this simple, delicious meal with cucumber water.

What are you making for dinner tonight? Do you have a favorite chicken recipe you’d like to share?