Live and Learn

It’s still January, so I give myself permission to still write about new year’s resolutions… Now and in another blog later 😬

My new year started off with me working just two jobs instead of three, and let me tell you, the extra time has been amazing. I feel like I can actually breathe. The end of the year was a whirlwind and I feel like I barely got to notice, much less enjoy, the holidays.

With this extra time, I’ve decided I want to do more baking.

This post is NOT about my successes in the kitchen this new year. Oh no. It’s about the flops.

Because that’s just it! The new year is NEVER going to go perfectly. There is so much pressure on January 1st to be the first day of a shiny, “New Year, New Me”. Why do we do this to ourselves? I will be writing a whole post about my thoughts on this, so I digress.

One new thing I started last year was brewing kombucha.

It is so much fun and so much cheaper than store bought. My husband even likes it better than store bought! Now, we don’t drink tons of it at a time, so I have bottles of booch sitting in my fridge. I thought, why not try making sourdough? I’ve seen lots of folks post about it in the Kombucha brewing groups I joined on Facebook.

I gave it a go. This is what happened.

Yeah… All over my cabinet. If that’s not bad enough, it totally smelled like rotten eggs when I opened it. So, that jar went in the trash.

I do plan to try it again. Just not yet.

On MLK day, I had the day off, and didn’t want to be completely lazy all day, so I turned to instagram for baking suggestions. The one I got was to make French macarons. I have long desired to make my own delicious and delicate little macarons, but been far too intimidated. It seems my fears were not irrational.

I don’t even know. It was pretty much hopeless. Not to be wasteful, I formed the dough into balls by hand and pressed it onto parchment paper.

They surprisingly turned out pretty tasty! Overcooked and crunchy, but not terrible. I only tossed out about half the dough.

The new year shouldn’t be the only time to learn from our mistakes, but it’s certainly a good reminder to be patient with ourselves. Life is often imperfect, but we can always make the best of it.

Happy new year, happy baking, and please, if you have any tips for macarons, send them my way!

Currently Reading

For the most part, I read fiction novels. I am a big fan of Stephen King in particular. As much as I love his books and stories, however, I’m finding my TBR pile continuously growing and myself not branching out much. One of my goals this year is to change that and expand my literary horizons. As I read new books, I will share my experiences and opinions here. I think this will be a good way to push myself to read more and to critically think about what I’m reading. Plus, it’s always fun to share new books with people.

At the beginning of the school year I started a new job at a Catholic school as a grade school assistant. All of the grade school teachers were talking about a book by ImmaculĂ©e Ilibagiza, a Rwandan born Catholic. It was a big deal because she was coming to host a retreat at the home parish of the grade school dean. I kept hearing them talk about how impactful and amazing her story was, and after the retreat, the dean couldn’t stop talking about ImmaculĂ©e and how much meeting her impacted her. I wanted to see what all the talk was about for myself, so I borrowed the book, Left to Tell, from my mom.

This book is about how ImmaculĂ©e survived the Rwandan holocaust that took place during their civil war in 1994. She and several other women were hidden and locked inside a tiny bathroom for 91 days, not allowed to speak or move, barely surviving on tiny scraps of food and sips of water. Throughout those three months she held tightly to her father’s rosary and her faith in God. All of her family save one brother were murdered. She now travels the world serving others and telling her story.

I’m only about halfway through the book. She is still trapped in the tiny bathroom. Each page is more heartbreaking than the last, but her hope in God is inspiring. When things go wrong, it can be so easy to turn away from a lifelong faith. It isn’t always easy to find comfort and peace in scriptures that are thousands of years old. ImmaculĂ©e held true for 91 miserable days; days most of us can’t even begin to fathom suffering through.

I know there is at least one other book she has written and I plan to read it when I finish this one. It is heartbreaking and full of hope at the same time. As I’ve read this, I’ve felt joy, sorrow, pain, and even angry. This emotional journey will take you through it all. If you enjoy any kind of religious testimonials, this is a book for you.

Again, the title is Left to Tell and it was written by Immaculée Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin. A portion of proceeds from her book sales go to her Left to Tell Charitable Fund, which supports Rwandan orphans.