Day 90: Bread Take 1!

Guys – it’s Day 90 of #100DaysofHannah and #100DaystoOffload – only 10 more to go!
It’s an early (ish) post day, partially because I need to feel like I’ve done something with my life today, and partially because, why not?
But Hannah, you just said yesterday that you’re normally super productive in the mornings and late afternoons… what happened?
Well guys, today was a good distracted day.
When I was back home in Ohio, my mom and I had made homemade bread from a long-time family recipe (that, of course, I changed, because that’s what I do).  As always, it was delicious.
Upon returning to the South and having an incredible amount of free-time, I decided that I wanted to try to make bread on my own.
The catch?
I don’t own any proper bread making things.
Like bread tins.
Or a mixer – of any sort.
Or the towels that you put over bread when it rises.
Or windows that face the sun to help with the rising process.
Or even a whisk apparently.
During quarantine, however, I knew there had been a big push for making sourdough.  I had no idea what I was getting into, but figured that would be a nice, easy bread to start with.
*Insert laughter here from all of you who know anything about making sourdough bread*

As any good millennial would do, I took to the internet to see what I was up against, figuring that I’d start on the bread as soon as I got the necessary ingredients from the store.
*Keep laughing*

Which is when I realized that I was in over my head.
The first site I went to was for “Beginner Sourdough”.  How perfect!
I started reading…
-Sourdough starter
-Scale to measure ingredients
-Dutch oven
-24 hour long process
What?!  Surely this was an overachiever site.
So I went to another one.
And another.
And another.
Only to find that they all said the same thing.
As y’all have been with me for 90 whole days now, you’re probably aware that I’m not much of one for precision and rules – especially when it comes to the kitchen.
So, I went to the store, bought a bag of all-purpose flour, and figured I’d figure something out.
Worst case scenario? I was out $1.59 for the flour and a bit of time.

Day 1: Make Sourdough Starter

Apparently you can also buy the stuff, but in the midst of COVID, I wasn’t really all that keen on going out and trying to find sourdough starter at a store, so I found one of the recipes and gave it a go.
Though virtually all of the sites emphasized the necessity of precise measurements, I, of course, disregarded this, and found the closest approximates that I could find – 1 cup flour to just over 1/2 cup cool-ish water.  Mix and let sit for 24 hours.  Dump half at this time, and then re-feed mixture.  Repeat for 7-10 days.
About 6 hours in though, I started to see bubbles in my mixture.  It was working!
Eagerly, I ditched the 24 hour theory, dumped half the mixture into a jar that I put in the fridge, and re-fed the initial portion.
7-10 days? Psshh. They must not live in the south!

Day 2: Feed Sourdough Starter

I don’t remember exactly when I re-fed on day 2.  It was probably 12 hours after the last feeding session?  Once again, I poured half the mixture into another jar that I stuck in the fridge, removed the previous fridge jar, and re-fed the initial.
Repeat for evening feeding, this time feeding the first day’s discard too.

Day 3: I’m Impatient.

Day 3 started out like every other day – feeding, discarding, yada, yada.  By this point, the initial mixture and first day’s discard were taking on a sour, yet fresh smell.
Which also meant that I started to get more impatient.
Early afternoon, I went to look at my sourdough starter(s) for approximately the 14th time that day.  The first day’s discard was perfectly bubbled so it looked like an airy/frothy sour mixture.
Overwhelmed by curiosity and tired of waiting, I pulled up a “Simple Sourdough” recipe and got to work.
1/2 cup starter
2 Tbsp oil
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp salt
2 3/4 cup flour
Whisk first 3 ingredients together, then add salt and flour until you can clean the bottom of the bowl with the dough.
My measurements, of course, weren’t exact, but does that actually matter?  Only one way to find out!
The dough was a bit sticky, but eventually it got to a consistency that I thought was reasonable.  Back into the bowl it went to rise for 12-18 hours.
About 6 hours in, I was beginning to become concerned that I had failed miserably, as the dough hadn’t risen at all.  By late evening though, I started seeing slight bubbling in the dough.  Fermentation success!

Day 4: Make Bread!

By morning, my previously presumed failure had risen another 2+ inches, nearly filling the bowl it was in – perfect!  After a walk and starting breakfast it was time to put this recipe to the rest of the test.
I quickly threw some flour on a piece of parchment paper (not my best idea in retrospect) and dumped the dough out of the bowl.
It was super sticky.  So I folded it as suggested with plenty of flour (maybe too much?) to strengthen the dough.
After folding it, I tried to mold the dough, but it still wasn’t keen on holding it’s shape.  Nevertheless, into the floured bowl it went (because I don’t own a bread basket).
The recipe called for 2.5 hours of rising time. However, when I checked on the loaf, it definitely hadn’t doubled in size.  At 4 hours in, it didn’t look like I had really made any progress, so I decided to just turn the oven on and go for it.
There were several options presented to try to achieve the crispy crust, soft interior – a dutch oven, trying to create steam in the oven, etc.
I don’t have a dutch oven, but figured any oven-friendly bowl with a lid would be sufficient, so I put it in the oven turned to 450F and waited.  Once temperature was achieved, I removed the pan, inserted the dough, (probably should’ve greased the pan…), scored the dough, decreased the temp to 400F, and put the pan with dough back in the oven.
It was supposed to take 50-60 minutes.  But, as could probably be expected, I don’t normally set timers either.  Annnd I’ve refused to reset the time on my microwave after 3 power failures in a week, so I really have no idea how long it sat.
But eventually, the bread had a golden brown crust, so I removed it from the oven to let it sit in the pan (with lid) for another… while (pretty much until I got too impatient to try it).


Considering I did almost everything wrong,  I was pleasantly surprised by the results!  The crust was perfectly crispy. And the loaf looked surprisingly presentable. It didn’t rise as much as I had hoped, so the bread itself was more dense than it’s probably supposed to be, but the taste was phenomenal!
Success? I’d say yes.
Which means that, of course, I have another batch of dough prepping presently!  This time I decided to try a whole wheat loaf instead.  Thus far, it’s holding it’s shape much better than the first, so we’ll see how it continues to rise, and what the end product yields – I’ll keep y’all posted 🙂
‘Til tomorrow,
Question of the Day: Do you have any fun baking stories?
Challenge of the Day: Try your hand at making bread!
Photo of the Day: Finished sourdough loaf #1 

Day 89: Schedule

On this 89th day of #100DaysofHannah and #100daystooffload, I don’t really have much of anything to say, so I guess I’ll talk about the pattern of productivity that I’ve noticed in this past week. 

I’ve said repeatedly how fond I am of mornings. It should come as no surprise then that this is normally one of my most productive times. From around 7:30 or 8 to noonish, I feel like I often stay busy – be it working with music or blogging. Let’s be real, that’s most of all I do for now.
From there I hit a bit of a lull. Maybe its because I try to intermittent fast on a daily basis, having most food consumed by between 3 and 4, or maybe my brain just wants a break. In any case, if I’m going to want distractions, its often during this time.
After 4, the day generally picks back up. With fewer hours left in the day, I feel an increased motivation to be productive, which carries me until a sufficient time in the evening when I can call family to catch up on life before finishing a few remaining projects and hitting the hay.
Which I think I’ll do before long. 
Til tomorrow, 
Question of the Day: Do you have times of the day when you work best?
Challenge of the Day: (try to) be patient!
Photo of the Day:

Day 88: song, Song, SONGS!

Day 88 of #100DaysofHannah and #100DaystoOffload
Since it’s getting later, I’ll probably keep this relatively short.
Earlier this week, I had been requested to come up with a list of some of my favorite praise/worship songs for potential future church recordings.  Off the top of my head, I was running pretty short, so this evening I decided to come up with more of a comprehensive list to give the pastor.
It’s definitely been over an hour ago that I started this project, and I’m still nowhere near completing it.  At this point, over 80 songs in, I’m not really sure where I should cut it off and be contented (because obviously this is WAYYY over  what is actually necessary…)
There are just too many good songs!
And, as a realization, I may be overly obsessed with Jesus Culture and Bethel music.
Actually, that’s not much of a realization – my family could’ve told you that for years!
So, for tonight, I guess I’ll share some that are currently topping my list 🙂

Okay, I guess that’s enough for an evening.
‘Til tomorrow,
Question of the Day: How many favorites lists do you have?
Challenge of the Day: Make a list!
Photo of the Day:

Day 87: I’ve got nothin to say…

Day 87 of #100DaysofHannah and #100DaystoOffload…
Well, I guess the most exciting things in life right now are that I learned the necessity of changing air filters (oops…) and the importance of roach spray, and made a meal that consisted of more than eggs, cottage cheese, or salad.
‘Til tomorrow,
Question of the Day: What defines reality?
Challenge of the Day: Try NOT to run away from people (oops again…)
Photo of the Day:

Day 86: Filtered

Day 86 of #100DaysofHannah and #100DaystoOffload… what should we talk about today?
There are probably a number of intriguing topics that I could pose, or attempted witty quips that I could share, however the first need more thorough analysis, and the second should be stifled on a matter of taste.
Which I guess is where the conversation will go.
I never intended to be a leader, or really ever do anything that would get me seen in any way shape or form.
Sure, as a kid I dreamed for a moment of being famous, but that dream lasted only as long as it took me to realize that with fame comes public invasion of all things private, to which my introverted self said “no way”.
And then I became a doctor.
Which sounds all well and good.
Minus the fact that it now matters what I do (and do not) say – at least in any way that could gain public attention.
This concept of branding and image was first introduced to us in the early days of optometry school.  One of the members of the creative team at the university came in and talked to us about our online presence, and the importance of personal branding.
At the time, I honestly thought the idea was a bit much.  Sure, I would go through Facebook and make some settings more private, and pay attention to the photos that I was tagged in, but otherwise?  I strive for authenticity.  What need was there to filter?
Through the years, however, I’ve begun to understand the wisdom behind the lecture that day.
And so, I’m (slowly) learning to filter.
To learn when to speak, and when to hold my tongue.
It can be frustrating, particularly when I think I have a witty comment that may get a few laughs, but I think it’s worth it.
Here’s to keeping peace.
‘Til tomorrow,

Project of the Day: (Because I FINALLY got the vocals to sync better. Now just have to figure out how to efficiently combine vocals with midi!)
Song of the Day: Learning to Be Silent
Question of the Day: Have you seen the comet?!
Challenge of the Day: Hold your tongue
Photo of the Day:

Day 85: The Sprint Within the Marathon

Day 85 of #100DaysofHannah and #100DaystoOffload.
Pep talk, Hannah.
Only 15 more days to go.
You can do this.
Some days I pretend to be a runner.
Which, in the grand scheme of things, is pretty irrelevant, but stay with me.
Throughout high school, I was a sprinter.
And though I’ve tried to branch into distance running, with a year of cross country, some random 5ks, a training-less half, and a spontaneous 10 miler, sprints (or some slower grown-up version of them because I never actually take the time to stretch to not pull a hamstring..) are still my favorite.
They’re exhausting, but they’re short.
They’re fast.
And, thank God, you can see the finish line when you start.
Yes, I like running life as a sprint.
But this morning in my quiet time, I was reminded that life is really more of a marathon.
And to be successful, we really have to run each day as a sprint within a marathon – caring both about the moment, for that is all we truly have, while pacing ourselves for eternity.
If I’m honest, I struggle with this in more ways than one.
For much of my life, despite my energy and enthusiasm, I have been indifferent to my life itself, figuring that the long game didn’t really matter because I would likely not make there anyway.  As such, few things in my life have consistency.
Because sprints don’t last forever.
At this point, I don’t have a good answer as to how to change this mindset.  However, as the old adage goes, to change, you first must admit that you have a problem.
Here’s to the first steps of a journey to forever.
‘Til tomorrow,
Question of the Day: Which describes you more?  A sprinter? Or a distance runner?
Challenge of the Day: Make up your mind to do something consistently.
Photo of the Day:

Day 84: Relaxing?

It’s Day 84 of #100DaysofHannah and #100DaystoOffload, and I’m officially tired of blogging.
Okay, so maybe that’s a bit extreme. I’m sure I’ll be back ready to blog tomorrow, but for this evening, I’m a bit tired of putting mental effort into tasks.
Which means that, even though I had a thought earlier on what to write today, I have completely forgotten what it was.  And my brain doesn’t want to go back and find the topic.
What does my brain want to do?
It’s funny though.  From my experience, “relaxing” – or not doing anything that takes mental effort – is rarely actually relaxing.  Rather, instead of rejuvenating me, it makes me more exhausted than I was before.
If I remember correctly from something that my older brother once told me, this is because the brain doesn’t actually want a break – it just wants a change of scenery.  It doesn’t want to be inactive. It simply wants to be doing a different activity.
I guess that makes sense, when I think about it further. Typically, when I’m tired of putting effort in with something, it’s less that I really need to quit working altogether, and more that I need to switch and work on something else.
For tonight, I don’t really know what that something else is going to be, but that’s okay. I’m sure I’ll find it.
And if I don’t? Well, that’s okay too.
Til tomorrow,
Song of the Day: Storming
Question of the Day: How do you best relax?
Challenge of the Day: Find a change of scenery
Photo of the Day:

Day 83: Commitment

Day 83 of #100DaysofHannah and #100DaystoOffload
Today I’ve been thinking a lot about commitment.
Namely, how much it scares me.
There’s a pretty significant part of me that’s afraid of committing to, well, anything.
Because I don’t know the future, and I hate making promises that I may not be able to (or want to) keep.  As the ISTP that I am, I know all too well how my thoughts, feelings, and emotions may change at the drop of a hat, leaving me uncomfortable with situations and plans that I previously anticipated.
It has the ability to affect most every area of my life, but right now most of my non-commitment is centered around one topic: work.
Up until this point in my career, work was simple.  I was told when to go, where to go, and what to do.  And I really had no choice in the matter.
But now I do.
And that’s what scares me.
Because every path that I take is another path that I forego (or forgo. I’m not sure which spelling I like better..)
And the decision that seems right today may not be the best decision tomorrow.
So what do I do?
The same thing [I] do every day – try to take over the world!
(Question of the Day: What am I quoting?)
Which looks a whole lot like blogging and messing with music.
‘Til tomorrow,
Challenge of the Day: Make ice cream.
Song of the Day: Abide with Me
Photo of the Day:

Day 82: Life (lack of) Update

I guess Day 82 of #100DaysofHannah and #100DaystoOffload is as good as a time as any to provide a bit of a life update.
Not that there is that much to update y’all on, but considering the minimalist nature of the last 13ish posts, since I have the time, I’ll make an effort to write at least a little bit more.
Let’s see, where to begin.
First off: yes, I am still unemployed.
Honestly, for the past two weeks, unemployment has felt a whole lot like vacation. For the first time since Christmas, I had the opportunity to go home and spend time with family.  Initially, I had only planned on staying a week.  However, a week morphed into, well, not quite 2 weeks, but well over a week.
What is there to do in the middle of nowhere midwest, you may ask?
For me, the last two weeks have been filled with helping on the family farm, playing games, watching movies, tormenting my little brother, going on walks and bike rides, playing with kittens, swimming in my cousins’ pond, cooking/baking most of the meals for the family (including grilling), and generally just enjoying the company of the loved ones that I was able to see.
And taking naps 🙂
Upon returning to the South, I admittedly have not been searching exceptionally hard for optometric related employment opportunities.  Rather, I have been enjoying having the freedom to blog and mess with music.
With that in mind, this morning I enjoyed writing, recording, and editing a piano arrangement (For the Beauty) – it’s still not perfect, but I’m content enough to share a rough copy. After spending a little bit of time outside, I then got to work blogging, adding a post to my personal optometric blog (Hannah Vollmer, OD), and working on several others.  To get off my screen for a bit, I went back to the piano to work on a medley and come up potential themes for a new song (neither of those am I going to link presently), before coming back to my computer to write out this post.
Now for a workout, fresh air, or both!
Til tomorrow,
Question of the Day: How hard is it to make a living as a freelancer writer?
Challenge of the Day: Create something!
Photo of the Day:

Day 81: Silence

Day 81 of #100DaysofHannah and #100daystooffload is a day for silence.

Silence is hard. 
I like running away from the discomfort of it all too much.
But when I choose to sit in the silence and embrace the stillness, it is then that I find peace and hear the gentle call of my savior. 
And so, for tonight, I will savor the silence. 
Til tomorrow, 
Question of the Day: are you comfortable with silence?
Challenge of the Day:. Meditate for 5 min
Photo of the Day: