Archive for ‘Creativity’

Making Soap With Meraki

Meraki – a Greek word which in English means to do something with passion, love and undivided attention.

Photography by Debbie Sultemeier

Making soap has recently become my favorite passion project. Creating soap is creative and unpredictable. There seem to be an infinite number of ingredients that you can add to change the color, fragrance and texture. Soap is also useful and I can try out my creations every time I take a shower or wash my hands.

For Mother’s Day my daughter sent me the book Milk Soaps: 35 Skin-Nourishing Recipes for Making Milk-Enriched Soaps, from Goat to Almond by Anne-Marie Faiola and I’m very excited about trying out the techniques shown in the book. The soap pictured above is made using the Circling Taiwan Swirl technique shown in the Milk Soap book and on Ms. Faiola’s Soap Queen website.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  So if you make a purchase from a link I provide to Amazon I earn a commission.

Honey Oatmeal Bread recipe

Today I would like to share a recipe for homemade wheat bread with oatmeal and honey. About 15 years ago I attended a week-long bread making workshop at the Culinary School of the Rockies in Boulder, Colorado. Our instructor Elizabeth Perreault gave us a notebook to take home with all the recipes we made that week plus a lot of tips on baking bread. This Honey Oatmeal Bread was in our notebook and I have been making it regularly ever since.

I gave one of the bread loaves to my neighbor today piping hot straight out of the oven and she pronounced it the best bread in the world. When baked it’s a very smooth bread. Picky eaters may not notice that is has oats or wheat flour. This recipe makes four mini loaves or two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaves. The ingredients I used were:

  • 18 ounces boiling water
  • 3.5 ounces rolled oats (I used organic from the bulk grocery bin)
  • 3 ounces brown sugar (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (from a friend’s bee hive)
  • 2 ounces butter (unsalted)
  • 1 tsp salt (original recipe called for 1 Tbl but that was too salty for me)
  • 2 tsp instant yeast (I buy Fleischmann’s Active Dry yeast in a 4 ounce jar)
  • 7.7 ounces whole wheat flour
  • 17 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
Oats, sugar, honey and butter

Measure the water, oats, sugar, honey, butter and salt into a mixing bowl. Don’t worry about mixing it up or the butter melting. Let the oatmeal mixture cool until it is lukewarm. I left the mixture alone for about an hour until the ingredients were 110 degrees. Add the yeast and the two flours to the mixture. Stir by hand until it is roughly mixed.

Dough mixed by hand

Knead by hand or for about six minutes with a machine. The dough should stay together and not stick to the sides and bottom of the bowl. My house was humid today so I had to add about a third of a cup additional flour. I added it a little at a time kneading with each addition.

Dough after mixing with a machine

Next transfer the kneaded dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled about an hour. It was about 75 degrees in my home today so it may take longer if you home is cooler.
Today I made the recipe in a stoneware mini loaf pan I bought at a Pampered Chef home show about 20 years ago. For my mini loaves I divided the dough into four pieces and patted and rolled each piece into a log. I then placed the logs in the loaf pan. You can also make the recipe in two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans.

Bread about to go into the oven

I covered the loaves with the plastic wrap and let them rise until the dough was over the top of the pan as shown in the picture. This took about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. My oven takes about 30 minutes to preheat so about 15 minutes into the rising I turned the oven on.

When your oven is at 350 degrees place your pan(s) on the center oven rack. Bake for 30-40 minutes until brown and the internal temperature is at least 190 degrees Fahrenheit. My mini loaves were ready in 30 minutes.

Remove the loaves from the pan and put on a wire rack to cool right side up. I didn’t wait long before enjoying a hunk of bread with melted cheddar cheese. Heavenly!

This was my first attempt at writing a recipe. So please let me know if I have left out information or need to clarify any of the steps. I hope you enjoy baking and eating this bread.


Hubbard Glacier, Alaska, July 2018
Photography by Debbie Sultemeier

The song “Landslide” by Stevie Nicks beautifully describes the challenge of addressing change and moving through the stages of life. I enjoy meeting new people and experiencing new places. But it’s still hard to leave familiar people and situations. Following are the lyrics to “Landslide.”

I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
‘Til the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changin’ ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Mmm Well, I’ve been ‘fraid of changin’
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m gettin’ older, too

Well, I’ve been ‘fraid of changin’
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m gettin’ older, too
I’m gettin’ older, too

Ah, take my love, take it down
Oh, climb a mountain and turn around
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide will bring it down
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide will bring it down
Oh, the landslide will bring it down

Songwriters: Stevie Nicks

Landslide lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Sentinels of San Antonio

My husband has been on a quest to photograph the inanimate people that watch over San Antonio. He made this cool video from the photographs along with his description of the project:

Video of the “The Sentinels of San Antonio” photo series, which focuses on the stonework, statues and murals that watch over us, mute and unchanging, as the rest of the world careens into chaos… I based it on the popular “Humans of…” books, but I’m looking at inanimate objects instead. Part of the fun is guessing where the photo was taken – some are obvious, many are not. If you are Puro San Antonio, you can probably guess most of them…. The intentional spooky music is by one of my favorite Irish artists, Enya, including – “Cursum Perficio” “Wild Child” “After Ventus” “Tempus Vernum”

© 2019 P&D Studios, All Rights Reserved

Appreciating the present

Sunset Station, San Antonio, Texas.
Photography by Debbie Sultemeier

“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” Walt Whitman

I walk by this old train station every day without really noticing it. This morning the blue sky, trees leafing out and a new paint job on the building caused me to notice and appreciate the intricate plaster castings on the building. I spend a lot of time thinking about the future and often forget to appreciate the things and people right in front of me.

Sunset Station, built in 1902, stopped functioning as a train station in 1998. The building is now rented out for events.

Front of Sunset Station
Photography by Debbie Sultemeier
West-facing side of Sunset Station.
Photography by Debbie Sultemeier

Yoga Candle

“Prayer is when you talk to God; Meditation is when you listen to God.” by Diana Robinson

I did a relaxing yin yoga class this morning with teacher Cristina at Southtown Yoga Loft and she recited this quote. My prayers are usually requests for something so this quote reminds me to also take time for quiet and gratitude.

I’ve been making personalized soy wax candles for friends and family. This candle for Cristina contains lemongrass essential oil. I infused the soy wax overnight with turmeric root powder for the cheerful yellow color. The square mason jar is from AAA Candle.