Adulting–a term developed by Kelly Williams Brown to describe “how to become an adult”. She even has a blog and book with the “468 easy(ish) steps” to get there. Ahh, if only it were so simple! As someone in the throws of adulting myself, I love her humor and the gems of practical advice hidden in the most unlikely of places.

I just had a birthday a week ago, and as usual, birthdays send me into a retrospective mood. So I was thinking over the previous year’s birthday when a few dear friends surprised me with a wonderful, relaxing dinner party. There was food, wine, laughter, thoughtful conversation, a fireplace, and gently falling snow outside. Absolutely ideal. (This was before I really started hating snow, obviously.) This year, my sister came to surprise me for a short visit, and she, my roommate, and I went to a delicious dinner at The Electric Cheetah the night before my birthday. The meal was great and we reflected over the events and accomplishments of the past year, as well as the things we hope to do in the new year. (And I still have to pinch myself to realize I’m not completely dreaming when I say I plan to travel around the world in the next year.) My birthday itself was a wonderful day with a Christmas brunch in the morning and then a whole afternoon and evening to relax at home, crafting, cleaning, and reading.

There was a point when I thought–I am spending my birthday at home ALONE! How pathetic! But I instantly corrected myself when I realized that was the exact thing I wanted to be doing. And then I was able to completely enjoy every moment of my evening, comfortable and confident in my own personality. I am blessed to have these snapshot memories in my mental photo album of birthdays spent in exactly the perfect way for who I am and what I enjoy.

Specifically in this season, I have been learning about myself–but from other people. I’ve had to take personality tests for work and listen to other people speak into who I am. This can definitely be very helpful, at times. I completely identified with my “achiever” and “learner” strengths from the StrengthsFinder test. (I even wrote the blog post on it!) But I think I’m also finding that it’s not necessarily always healthy to just drink those things in and accept it as truth about yourself. Your personality type or strengths or languages of love/appreciation should never be a box in which you must conform or remain. Neither should the descriptors people use about you dictate who you are or what you do.

To start tying this all back together, I think that a part of “adulting” for me has been (still is!) figuring out what to accept from those outside sources, and how to listen within to what/who I am. And listening within–that’s listening to my feelings and listening to the Spirit. Primarily listening to the Spirit. It’s a delicate balance, to take in what others say but to test it before letting it shape your thoughts on who you are. It’s the “adulting” challenge for this season.


Tuscan Low Salt Bread

Several weeks ago I checked out “The Bread Bible” by Rose Levan Beranbaum from the library. Her writing is engaging, and the recipes sound wonderful too…except they almost all call for ingredients I don’t keep on hand, with the main problem being bread flour.

I finally found one that I could make, and I documented as much of the process as I could remember…with my handy new phone, no less! I joined the world of smart phones a few weeks and taking pictures is just so darn easy! So I’ll hopefully be able to keep this blog a bit more interesting with photos for you all!

So, without further ado, Tuscan Low Salt Bread:

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Mixing the biga. (My first time to use a biga in bread making.)

Pretty smooth, and ready to rise for an hour.

Pretty smooth, and ready to rise for a day.

Ready to mix the biga with more flour, yeast, and water.

Ready to mix the biga with more flour, yeast, and water.

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Super dry to start with.

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Getting better.

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All mixed together, and ready for the next 6 hour rise. Wish I would have gotten another picture to show how much it rose before I shaped the loaf.

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Last 30 minute rise while the oven preheats.

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Puffed up a little unevenly in the oven… I still need more practice shaping my loaves that aren’t baked in a sandwich pan.

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Had to put this one in color to show the beauty of this squash, kale, white bean stew! I love eating local, seasonal produce!

The bread was noticeably no/low salt, but dipped into this stew–pretty delish! Can’t wait to try more of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipes soon.

You can buy her book here and I would say it’s worth the price if you are a regular bread baker. She is very thorough in her instructions, giving alternative directions for mixing by hand, in stand mixers, food processors, or bread machines when recipes allow. Every recipe is also broken down into percentages of the weights for each ingredient, so you can easily manipulate, multiply, or divide quantities. I obviously can’t vouch for the success of any of the other recipes in the book, but I’m confident she knows her stuff!


Just My Type

He’s my type. He’s not my type. No such thing as type. As a young adult still among the ranks of singlehood, I hear a decent bit of talk about type.

But a preferable type of type is the subject of my most recent read. Simon Garfield’s “Just My Type” is described on the book jacket as “a delightful inquisitive tour that explores the rich history and the subtle powers of type.” And delightful it was.

Typography was one of my favorite graphic design classes in college, although upon graduation, I felt it wasn’t my strongest skill. I figured one of the best ways to remedy that would be to learn from the most skilled typographers in history, so when I passed this gem of a book at the library the other week I had to pick it up. The book covered personal and professional histories of famous typographers from the past several centuries, details about the projects that led to the creation of some of the most famous fonts in the world, and various printing methods from Gutenburg’s printing press all the way up to modern technologies. I took quite a few notes as I read through, but as most of them are fairly technical, I won’t type them all up here.

One of the fonts described in the book is Comic Sans. Perhaps one of the most infamous typefaces in the world, it was designed for a specific manual for Microsoft (to accompany that little yellow dog, Bob, who is oh-so-friendly-and-helpful). It ended up not being able to be used for that project, but it did make its way out to the masses who lacked the good judgement to not use it on, well, everything. One of my favorite quotes from the book was about this font:

“If you see a word somewhere with each letter in a different color, that word is usually in Comic Sans.”

Along with Comic Sans, several of the other fonts people love to hate were mentioned (Papyrus, anyone?). Interestingly, one of the studies reported on in “Just My Type” surveyed designers on the fonts they used most regularly, believed to be most visible, and their least favorites. The top ten in each category were listed, and  4 of the 10 least favorites were included in both the favorites and most visible lists! I think a prerequisite for being a typographer is being a snob.

I’m a little behind the times, but ampersands have really gotten my attention lately, and it seems there is just no limit to these beautiful marks. Garfield has similar feelings about ampersands, as he writes, “Done well, an & is not so much a character as a creature, an animal from the deep. Or it is a character in the other sense of the word, usually a tirelessly entertaining one, perhaps an uncle with too many magic tricks.” In reference to Caslon’s ampersand, he writes that it “seemed to come from an altogether more hallucinogenic place, from the playground perhaps or the alehouse.”

Interesting fact: ampersands are documented to have been first used in 63 B.C.(!!) as shorthand for “et”, meaning “and” in Latin. The name “ampersand” therefore stemmed from “et, per se and”.

Speaking of beautiful typographic designs, another quote I loved from this book came from William Morris. It inspires me to frame prints of some of my favorite characters to place around my home:

“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

There was also a great chapter on the copyrights for typefaces, which helped open my eyes to the injustices for type designers and lack of legal protection for their intellectual property and design work. After reading about Arial being a copycat font created explicitly to be able to be a substitute for Helvetica (rather than purchasing Helvetica itself), I especially don’t like it. Check out the similarities:

A theme throughout the book showed that typographers aren’t in it for the money though. One typographer’s response when asked about designing fonts was:

“Can there be anything more valuable? And if there are no jobs at the end of it, that’s not necessarily a reason not to do it. There’s no jobs after reading poetry, either.”

And a final little tidbit to end the post, the ubiquitous brown fox and that lazy dog: