gratitude

Reading The Power of Gratitude – 4 Ways to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude I had an “A-Ha” moment. I realised that I do consciously recognise things for which I am grateful, but they are often put aside as I get caught up in the activities and thoughts of the days and weeks ahead.

The idea of keeping a gratitude journal was the “Woo-Hoo” moment, as I already have one – this blog. The purpose of which has wobbled around a bit, picking up things in which I became interested, and silence around things that I no longer find interesting. Also, I recognise that there is almost a two year hiatus, which I may describe some day to fill in the gaps for myself.

Actually, it may be a bit harsh to say that I have become disinterested in things. It’s just that I have found additional things to be interested in, and I am finding it overwhelming to fit them all in.

The “Breakthrough” point is that although I did not write here for all of two years, I did read some entries and reflected on when and what things happened, and to read some old how-tos to see if they could assist me with new stuff I was trying to figure out.

kikki.K has some adorable journals and resources to record resolutions, happiness and things to be grateful for, but I will continue to write here, participate in the Collaborative Happiness Project, and the Daily Post.

The gist of the ‘Power of Gratitude’ article is to write down 3-5 things a day you feel grateful for, express your gratitude, look for what is right about a situation rather than what is wrong, and practice gratitude with family and friends.

Hermit CrabI read somewhere about having a gratitude jar. I’ve decided to have a ‘gratitude piggy’. Instead of saving money in my piggybank, I’ll write down on slips of paper the things I am grateful for and put them in my piggybank to be opened at a time yet to be determined.

This morning I am grateful for being able to have a break from work over Christmas and New Year including a trip to Eco Beach (1 1/2 hours drive South of Broome, Western Australia), waking up early and listening to the birds as I type on my keyboard, the opportunity to make choices of how I will spend my last day of the holiday, and that I am in good health to make goals for the coming year.

flour and water

Some people are fascinated by how planes stay up in the air, I’m amazed at how the combination of just flour and water with a bit of salt makes beautiful smelling and tasty sourdough bread.

  1. Beginning with the starter, add flour, salt and water.
  2. Mix and rest.
  3. Toss.
  4. Rest.
  5. Bake.

beginning with the starter

I started to bake sourdough bread again this week, beginning with the starter.

It took five days, but now I think it’s ready. I used organic rye flour and bottled water. Just kept adding 1:1 flour and water every day. On the fourth and fifth days, the starter expanded to the lid.

sourdough bread starter

Next step, make the dough.

posting every day

While looking through the last six years of diaries, I read lists and notes of topics that I wanted to write about – and never did. I kept transferring the notes into a list of topics with the heading ‘dilettante’ from one diary to the next. Well, I have decided the list stops here.

To help me along the way I have joined the The Post Every Day Challenge and I will be posting on this blog once a day for all of 2011.

I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

— The Daily Post at WordPress.com

I quite understand if you wish to unsubscribe from my feed if a post a day from me is too much of a change from once a year. But I hope you will stick around to read my blog and that you’ll “encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way”.

in control

I’ve been flying solo since my last babystep in the third week of May. But I’ll be decluttering for a while yet as stuff is like sand. The more you dig into it, the more boxes I need to temporarily hold the expanded volume.

Fifteen minutes at a time to ‘put away’, ‘give away’, and ‘throw away’ has only seen the emptying of three archive boxes out of the 20+, and that is only my stuff. I’m hoping that H gets enthused with decluttering and some of his boxes get moved too.

I’m now beginning to update my Control Journal from that developed while doing the FlyLady babysteps. Keeping babysteps in mind, I’ll follow Building Your Own Control Journal on FlyLady.net.

The changes I wish to make include accommodating that we are currently renovating in earnest, which means I cannot always just do the ‘swish and swipe’. Also, although I appear to be doing more [1], for example, ironing teatowels [2], I have more free time to include other routines.

After a workshop on Saturday, I have been making sourdough bread. It doesn’t take very much time, but I need to schedule it better to coincide with lunch or dinner when I’m likely to be ramping up the oven to 230 deg C.


[1] The rubber bladed brush is fantastic for removing cat fur from furniture.
[2] I’ve discovered that ironed linen is easier to put away!

FLYing

I have been FLYing for ten days.

What has been most remarkable is discovering that electrostatic dusters do in fact work!

Prior to having someone else clean, I have always just walked around the house with a damp or polishing cloth when doing the vacuuming, thinking that feather dusters simply spread the dust. The new cleaner wanted a duster, so she got one.

When I returned to doing the cleaning myself I continued to use the feather duster, but felt that it did not achieve much, and resorted back to walking around with a cloth.

On the weekend I went to the hardware shop for a bannister brush and some long life masking tape (as you do), and discovered that there is a whole world of brushes out there that I did not know about. On a whim, I treated myself to a new electrostatic duster – probably because I had been reading about FLY Lady caring for her feather duster and deciding that the existing one was beyond redemption. It had curled up ends suggesting that I had wiped it across something that was hot.

Well, it is simply amazing. It does in fact pick up the dust. I was only going to do the one room, but I ended up making my way throughout the house.

Reading the label instructions I read that it should not be used on electronic equipment and that I could clean it in soapy warm water. Mmm, I thought. Perhaps this confirms that the previous electrostatic duster did not work, as I can’t remember any zapped computers.

Etch from scratch – Xfce shutdown

The tie it up and lock it all down as a default approach is sometimes very frustrating. Having logged in to an Xfce session, when I came to shut down my computer, I can’t do this from within my log in as the button is greyed out. Not that I have ever needed to use it, but so is the ‘Restart’ button.

The Xfce – Session Manager documentation on my computer says that you have to be listed in the systems Sudoers file to execute the ${libexecdir}/xfsm-shutdown-helper command as user root. This is /usr/sbin/xfsm-shutdown-helper on my Debian GNU/Linux (Etch) system so I became root, ran the visudo command and added the line as per the example:

dilettante poppy=/usr/sbin/xfsm-shutdown-helper

where dilettante is my username and poppy the hostname.

It didn’t work.

Reading the Sudoers Manual, I read about the NOPASSWD tag value, so I edited the line that I added previously to:

dilettante poppy = NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/sfsm-shutdown-helper

And it worked!

However, my computer is not exactly a PC, i.e. a personal computer. H ‘sometimes’ gets to use it :) I could add H as a user to the Sudoers file, but a more inclusive solution was to use what Cameron set up for the Computer Angels Sarge system which H kindly implemented for me.

So that all (two of us) users can shut down poppy, Sudoers now includes:

User_Alias XFCE_SHUTDOWN_USERS = ALL
Cmnd_Alias XFCE_SHUTDOWN_COMMAND = /usr/sbin/xfsm-shutdown-helper
XFCE_SHUTDOWN_USERS ALL = NOPASSWD: XFCE_SHUTDOWN_COMMAND

Albeit slower, I guess choosing ‘Shut Down’ from the ‘End Session’ dialog is a more elegant exit than poweroff in a root terminal.

third time lucky

Today I tried the ‘sabrina’s breadsticks’ recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion. This is the third of three recipes that I have followed from Alexander’s book.

The recipe said to roll out the dough into a long log. I could only roll it out to the width of the round plate that circulates in my fan-forced convection oven which is much shorter than the breadsticks I see in the grocers.

They were a bit doughy, but the outside is crisp and the inside is a consistent springy. And they do/did taste VERY nice.

Breadsticks are probably not so practical as a loaf of bread, but I guess we could cut them lengthwise to make a roll for lunch. Leftovers to be cut thinly for a ‘chocolate bread and butter pudding’ as I’ve had the sultanas soaking in the cointreau for at least a week now.

The breadsticks do take a long time to make, although not time consuming as most of the time is waiting dough rising time. Also, they only take one teaspoon of dried yeast, so inexpensive in the scheme of things.

I think we will have to remove the bread, bread knife and cutting board from the dining room table though. That way, we are not walking past and having JUST another slice :)

woo hoo

I’m doing the happy dance. We ate all the bread from my first attempt, and tonight I baked my first olive bread.

The olive bread recipe is from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion and is simpler than the country-style crusty bread recipe as you don’t need to knead a second time or leave the dough to rise for a third time.

It is yummy. We had some warm after dinner tonight, but we will keep it for tomorrow to accompany a Greek salad.

Note: My Kenwood mixer stopped tonight. But H was quick to fix the broken wire so it all turned out right in the end albeit belatedly. I recognise that my hands and wrists would be no good at kneading almost 1 kg of dough for 15 minutes, so the mixer is a necessity for making bread.

making bread

It worked! First time!

I made bread using my Kenwood mixer, small amount of manual kneading, and lots of patience by following the ‘country-style crusty bread’ recipe in Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion.

My oven is a combination microwave convection and the maximum temperature that I can specify is 230 deg C, whereas I have never seen the actual temperature above 200 deg C. For this reason, the only change I made to the recipe was to add five minutes to baking the top and when I turned the loaves over.

The smell of dough and the baking bread was reward enough, but to have two complete loaves that were tasty with good springy texture was thrilling.

I purchased the yeast and bread flour (unbleached and wholemeal) from Loose Produce. One of the few places that allow you to purchase just what you need. For example, I only needed 800 g of unbleached bread or strong flour and 200 g of wholemeal bread flour. All the other places that I looked for ingredients wanted me to buy either bread mix or bread flour in 10 kg bags.

Once this bread is finished, I think I’ll have a go at olive bread. It is very similar to the recipe that I have just followed except that it includes olives, rosemary and a bit more olive oil.

I think the secret ingredient was the flour. That is, following the recipe and using the recommended unbleached bread or strong flour. What I read is that these flours are milled from wheat that has a high gluten content. Household flour that you get from the supermarket is made from low-gluten soft wheat, with most of the bran extracted, and is bleached. It is the gluten that ensures that the bread is well aerated by trapping the gas produced by the rising loaf.