Est. 2011

April 18, 2018

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Cultivating a Life of Beauty (And The Art of Making Really Good Bread)

April is over halfway gone, and that means springtime is in full swing (despite the 30 degree temps this morning)! I couldn’t be more excited for all that this entails: mud, lighter layers, more daylight, open windows. These are just a few of my favorite spring things!

We’ve certainly been having our fair share of April showers, and I cannot wait for the May flowers! There’s this idea of watering, and nourishing growth throughout life. It’s as though April is a month of cultivation. What are we tending to day by day? The things that we plant and nourish in this month will bloom in the next. What seeds are you planting in your life, and what will they yield?

Sometimes this idea of cultivation appears in setting a good morning routine, pursing artistic activities, or making time to cook at home. Sometimes it is as simple as finally tackling your book list to cultivate a lifestyle of reading. Personally, I’ve been trying to set aside time to paint every day (I’ll be sharing more about a beautiful paint-by-number, soon…) and read for a bit before bed, instead of looking at my phone. I’ve been falling asleep a lot faster since starting this new bedtime reading routine, and it’s incredible!

One idea I’m always trying to cultivate in my children’s lives is the idea of cultivating a life of slowing down. Growing in them a love for things that take time. It’s hard, especially for children, to see beauty in slowness. One way we’ve been doing this is through our garden. It really is a miraculous thing for a child to plant seeds, water them for days and days, waiting oh-so-patiently for the green seedling to appear, and then, one day, it does!

Another way we’re cultivating slowness is in baking more bread! Good bread! Bread that you have to plan ahead for. My friend Melinda hosted Zoe and me, and my intern Adriana and her friend Elizabeth last week for a beautiful time to learning the art of making really good bread. Adriana wrote a beautiful essay on our experience at Knead and Know.

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The moment you walk into Melinda’s fresh white kitchen, you are greeted with stacks of bread books filled with delicious, tried ‘n true recipes. Wooden boards and rolling pins of every shape and size decorate the kitchen walls—making you feel as though you’ve just walked into a quaint bakery in France. Flour is scattered across a Robins-egg-blue table, with the words BREAD 101 spelled out. As the late afternoon sun turns the room into a golden haven, you don a custom-made apron and eagerly wait for Melinda’s instructions.

Before you know it, your hands are pulling and folding the moist dough—adding tension to the yeast mixture one motion at a time. It’s therapeutic in a sense, the continual movement. And Melinda’s delightful conversation and laughter throughout the process adds a richness to the atmosphere; you try to remember to mentally tuck away each golden nugget of bread history and baking expertise.

Focaccia. Braided Brioche. Olive Oil Bread. An hour has somehow flown by and you are beginning to feel like an expert in the world of bread. A rich aroma of freshly baked bread, hot out of the oven, begins to fill the room—with hints of the flavorful Onion, Rosemary, and Tomato Focaccia toppings.

The evening wouldn’t be quite complete without a meal gathered around the table—the perfect way to relish an evening of baking. Your taste buds dance as you enjoy a refreshing cucumber mango tomato salad and a tasty tagine of chickpeas and sausage, along with the flavorful bread that you baked from scratch.

Content…that’s the first word that comes to mind, utterly content.

You exit Melinda’s warm and homey kitchen, arms overflowing with four types of warm bread, and even some fresh dough to bake at home the next day. And for better or for worse, your entire outlook on bread is changed.

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Melinda has planted seeds in all of her students. Seeds of appreciation for good, slow bread. We’ve started our fermented dough on the counter, and in a few days we’ll have our starter on hand for anytime we want to bake really good bread.

What habits do you want to cultivate this month? This year? Cultivating good habits takes baby steps and patience, so let’s keep each other accountable! I’ll be sharing more about my progress on instagram and the blog throughout the year! Please ask me how I’m doing, and I promise to do the same for you!

The habits that we plant and then nourish will blossom, so why not cultivate habits that bring beauty and fulfillment into our lives and the lives of those around us?

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