Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Eat Crisp Crackers, You Will

More snow. I'm glad, because it covered our scarred brown yard. Snow just makes everything look better. Here, it gets caught up in the needles of a pine tree...

...and light, airy snowflakes are cupped gently by this viburnum leaf.

It fills up all the nooks and crannies, reminding us that spring is still far away.

I don't mind, because I'm happy indoors, working out the kinks of my New Year's Resolution. I typically love them, even though I usually keep mine for the average length of time...two days, maybe three. But this year I felt particularly motivated. I was tired of feeling frazzled and disorganized, and "losing time" with nothing to show for it. My aim has always been to live a simple, more graceful life, yet my way of living kept taking me further and further from that goal.

For me, the key is organization. At any given time, I've got three or four ideas in my mind, plans that rarely come to fruition. I will give an idea my white-hot attention for a certain length of time. I will immerse myself in it: read books, attend seminars, and let the rest of my life slide while I learn. I gather together binders and binders of materials. When at last I'm ready to execute said idea, I get incredibly discouraged if the results aren't perfect. Then, I feel overwhelmed by the amount of data I've gathered and end up quitting completely. Not finishing what I've started is the trait I like least about myself.

But now I've got Google Calendar.

Is it an exaggeration to say that Google Calendar has changed my life? I don't think so. How many times have I wanted to change my house with the seasons, and then look up in July and see that I've forgotten to take down Christmas decorations? How many times have I gone on trips with girlfriends who are nicely organized with their toiletry kits, and my things are wrapped up in a Walmart bag? Not because I didn't have nice toiletry bags - I do - but because their whereabouts were unknown. How many times have I planned an extravagant garden, only to be unprepared when the last frost date came and went, and therefore didn't get my seeds started in time? Or purchased, for that matter? And where was that garden plan?

No more.

I actually started the process a few months ago. I went through the attic, where I stored clothing in big Rubbermaid bins. Clothes from college, clothes from high school, clothes I was saving for fabric, for some unnamed project...piles and piles of clothes.

I went through those overwhelming bins and donated over 30 garbage bags full of clothes to Goodwill. I'm left with things I really like: my long sleeve t-shirts in an array of earth tones, my favorite jeans, my most comfortable sweaters. I now have five Rubbermaid bins, sorted by clothing type and season. That feels good.

I spent weeks making lists of things that I wanted to do, but had never taken the time to do on a regular basis. I scheduled them all on Google Calendar, and now I get a daily email that reminds me to do something. If it's Tuesday, my email reminds me to do an all-over house cleaning. Friday, to feed my sourdough. Saturday, to journal. I've also scheduled reminder emails to arrive 2 weeks before every birthday on my list, and every new season. I've scheduled in days to plan the garden, days to buy seeds, and days to plant. I've scheduled in days to purchase the supplies I'll need to for the fall display I want to make next year...oh, and that's scheduled too. No more peering at my overflowing pantry and wondering what to make for supper. On Sundays, Google Calendar reminds me to make a weekly menu. Now I'm cooking an incredibly diverse range of meals. Our bedding is now organized by season, and set, and it's rotated and Febreezed on a regular basis. The refrigerator is clean and organized. My rubber stamps, which were formerly crammed into two small baskets or shoved on top of a tall bookcase, are now tidy in their new shelf.

I've been able to return to my gratitude journal. I've got pages and pages of ways to celebrate the changes of the seasons with both food and decorations. A tasty dessert waits in my freezer for a quick thaw, in case a friend stops by unexpectedly. Sacks of bulbs are hibernating in my basement, which will be brought up next fall in two week intervals...tidily scheduled...for December-to-spring flowers. I love the way my new graceful life is unfolding.

It was time-consuming to make the lists and to get everything scheduled properly, but now that everything is set up, it runs like a well-oiled machine. My mind is freed from the stresses of my former disorganized life, and with the time I've saved, I can focus on more important things. I love the idea of practicing random acts of kindness and I've started, yes, scheduling those on Google Calendar. It's a slow start, just one per month right now, but I feel really good about it. I've also scheduled more trivial things, like weekly lessons to learn how to french braid my hair, something I've always wanted to learn. Every week I seem to schedule something new - a new book to get from the library in a few months, a date in May to give cheesemaking another go.

Want to get on the Google Calendar train? It's not as hard as you think! You don't have to do daily tasks like I do. It's easy to add just one or two things per week. You'll be amazed at the amount of time you'll save! I feel like I've got enough time to constitute an extra day each week, just from prioritizing and careful scheduling. I've already got two converts...there's room for plenty more! Google Calendar can be accessed from the upper left hand corner of your Gmail screen. Good luck!

Being the organizing maniac I now am, I decided to reorganize my yarn, too. It was formerly crammed into the small cabinet where my rubber stamps now reside. I found a tall wooden cabinet, though, that's much better for yarn.

I love having it so spread out and accessible now!

Alas, a certain someone is less than pleased with the new arrangement. My new yarn cabinet has doors!

I got the new cabinet set up just in time, because the sock yarn minis have started to pour in! I've joined three different swaps, which will bring me a total of 60 minis by mid-February.

I found a really good recipe for crackers this week and I've been dying to try it. Why bake crackers when they're cheap and easy to buy? Well, I like having control over the ingredients, and I love to bake. And these are delicious!

Crisp Crackers
Adapted from 17 and Baking
Makes 80 crackers

1 1/2 cup white flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup warm water

Mix the flours and the salt together, and then add the olive oil and water. Mix for about 6 minutes, then separate out into small balls, brush with olive oil, and cover. Let rest for about an hour.

Don't expect a rise! Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Roll out your dough into very thin layers. You can bake sheets of dough and break it into individual crackers later, and that's what I probably should have done. I have these cookie cutters, though.

I haven't had a chance to try them out yet. They work perfectly with this dough. A warning, though...the more you handle the dough, the less pliable it is. The crackers in my final batch were a lot thicker than those in my first batch...

...and they tended to puff up, like miniature pita bread. This is a bit too thick! About half this width works perfectly.

I brushed a little bit of olive oil on each unbaked cracker and then sprinkled it with a combination of onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. The combinations are endless, really.

Bake for 5 - 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Oh my goodness...these are DELICIOUS! I can't wait to make more! I hope you give them a try. Have a great week!


  1. Great post! You've inspired me to get organized. And your stash of yarn - don't even get me going about how much I love your yarn!

  2. OMG I have to get those cookie cutters. My hubby would be so happy having crackers with his fav Star Wars friends. What a way to feed your face :)

  3. Lauren - thank you! I love my yarn too. :) It's just so hard taking an inside photo in a dimly-lit house in the wintertime...I hope to have better photos in the spring!

    Kim - Those cookie cutters came from William-Sonoma. They are great - so easy to use! They're best with cookie dough but definitely passable with crackers. :)