What We’re About

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Simple Living has been a motto for my husband and I since we were dating. In many ways, it sums up a foundational principle we want to live by: valuing all that we have so that we can enjoy all that we have.

There’s so much to enjoy in life: family, friends, good conversations, reading, travel, entrepreneurial ventures, higher education, art with the kids, dinner dates. The problem is that few of us get to enjoy these things fully.

Why? We spend our days running around chasing unimportant details like trying to figure out where to put that special decorative vase we have never used . . . and probably never will.

Living in today’s world, I think there are few who can escape stuff addiction. We’re surrounded by stuff everywhere. Walk into your local department store, and there is, literally, floor to ceiling, wall-to-wall stuff! It’s hard to say no to all the new so we pack our houses with things and never seem to know where our storage space and time have gone!

I’ve never been a hoarder so there’s no inspirational story here. I can say, though, that I am a recovering stuff addict. I used to keep things I just might need someday. I’d pack things away in my closest and drawers. The day I used the saved item rarely came around because I either forgot about it or couldn’t find it when I needed it. Can you identify?

We have so many choices in front of us today that it’s easy to get lost, loose purpose, and expend energy in the wrong direction. Living Simply  is all about doing away with the things, commitments, and habits that distract us so we can live fully for Christ in our daily callings.

The purpose of the blog is to chronicle our journey away from stuff and toward freedom by Living Simply and doing it Together. We’re newlyweds with big dreams, and we don’t want distractions getting in the way. With that goal in mind, we actively get rid of what we don’t find useful, beautiful, or truly important to make those dreams happen.

Living Simply Together is about slowing down the going, doing, and buying and increasing intentional living.

Easy Sourdough Bread

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This is the easiest bread I’ve ever made. Hands down. It’s also one of the best breads I’ve ever eaten. Sourdough takes a few tries, but once you’ve figured it out, it’s simply the easiest bread + it saves money. It’s more nutritious for your body because it breaks down parts of the wheat the body has difficulty digesting. It also has a lower glycemic index than regular yeast bread so diabetics can enjoy sourdough with less guilt.

It’s just an all around wonderful bread.

I got the original recipe from my sister-in-law. I’ve tweaked her recipe to our taste, and this recipe is the result.

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You need to know a couple of things before starting:

First, sourdough is not intuitive. You have to work with it.

Second, you may make a couple of bricks along the way. I certainly did. But they’re good tasting bricks!

Third, it’s worth the try. You won’t regret it.


Sourdough starter actually deserves a post all of it’s own, but I’ll just give the short version. If you have trouble, just google your sourdough’s ailment. There are support groups (just kidding. . . sort of).

Let’s dive in.

In a large wide-mouthed jar, I use a quart jar, combine ¼ cup flour and ¼ cup of water (bottled, Berkey, or well—no city water because the chemicals will kill the starter). Feed the starter ¼ cup flour and ¼ cup water every 12 hours for two to three days. Don’t worry about  covering the jar. Just let it sit in a warm place.

If all goes well, you should see this.

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Those bubbles are the key to happy sourdough bread.

Once you have bubbles, you can feed the starter once a day (sometimes I skip a day. . . or two). It should revive. You can cover the starter just make sure air can get to it.

Keep feeding your sourdough starter every day. . . or every two days if you’re me, but make sure to discard  half of it every week or so if you aren’t using it consistently.

The loaf.

Now for the easy part. Here’s what you will need:

6 cups unbleached flour (I use 5 cups wheat and 1 cup white King Arthur)
1-1½ Tbsp. Salt
1/3 cup honey
3 cups water
½ cup starter
¼ cup flax seed (optional)
Dutch oven or baking stone

You’ll need “chemical free” water and unbleached flour. Make sure the flour is unbleached since any chemicals will kill your sourdough which will definitely give you a brick. I use King Arthur flour. Their wheat has such a smooth texture and it’s unbleached. I’m slightly addicted.

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Combine your flour, salt, and flax seed together in a mixing bowl.


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In another bowl, combine your wet ingredients: honey, water, and starter.

Then pour the wet into the dry. Stir until combined.

Honestly, I separated those steps to get a pretty picture. I don’t usually combine the wet and dry separately. I just mix it all together in one bowl. Do whatever you prefer. Either way, it should turn out like this:


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The dough should be only slightly more stiff than your average yeast dough.

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Cover with a damp towel, and leave in a warm place for 18 to 24 hours.

 Once the bread has “proofed” for 18 to 24 hours, preheat your oven to 425 ℉. You should warm the Dutch oven inside for five or ten minutes, but do that only if you want. It’s best to have a warm surface for the dough. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, use a baking stone. The key is to use something that holds heat well.

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Cut the dough in half in the bowl. Scatter a few oats in the bottom of the pan to keep the dough from sticking, and then dump half the dough into the pot. Don’t kneed. It’s unnecessary, and I’ve found that the bread is lighter in texture and has a better crust if it’s left alone. Place the bread in the oven, and let it cook for 10 minutes covered. Then, remove the lid and allow the bread to brown for 15 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the dough if your Dutch oven can’t hold two loafs. If you can cook both loaves together extend both cooking times five minutes (or 35 minutes total).

You may want to use a kitchen thermometer to check the internal temperature of the bread. It should reach between 180-200 ℉ once cooked all the way through.

When you pull these loaves out of the oven, you’ll be amazed. They should have the crunchy exterior and rich center you’ve always wanted but couldn’t achieve with yeast bread. And the recipe is so simple.

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The Short and Skinny.

So here’s the concise version without all my “helpful” tips.

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6 cups unbleached flour (5 cups wheat; 1 cup white)
1-1½ Tbsp. salt
1/3 cup honey
3 cups water
½ cup starter
¼ cup flax seed (optional)

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover with a wet towel and allow to “proof” for 18 to 24 hours.
  2. Preheat your oven and baking dish to 425 ℉.
  3. Cut your dough in half in the bowl. Pour half of the dough into the warm dish, cover, and bake for 10 minutes (or 15 for two loaves ). Remove the lid and bake for 15 more minutes until browned (or 20 minutes for 2 loaves). That should be 25-35 minutes total for those using a baking stone.
  4. Remove from oven and allow to rest for a few minutes before cutting—that is, if you can wait!


One final note: I use a good amount of salt in this recipe. You can cut the salt back all the way to 1 teaspoon. This will increase the “pucker” factor because salt inhibits the sourdough from developing it’s sour flavor. I don’t particularly love sour, sourdough which is why I usually use a tablespoon of salt. Experiment and find out what you and your family enjoy.


10 Things Every Bride Should Know. . . Before Registering

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Wedding planning is a hot topic today. With wedding companies spending millions on marketing, most brides realize the importance of having a plan before they enter a dress store or wedding venue. Without clearly defined boundaries, it’s easy to spend a small (or large) fortune unintentionally.

There are articles everywhere on how to budget and strategize wedding planning, but the online world seems to be silent on one major topic these days.

Registry planning.

While setting up a registry is a fun experience, it can also be frustrating . You’re bombarded with everything from kitchen gadgets to complicated hanger systems—not to mention the friendly sales pitch about “completing” your set and saving 10%.

It’s a complicated business.

My husband and I talked enough before registering to know we wanted a simple life. I’m not saying we wanted to eat beans and rice every day of the week and only shower on Sunday.

We wanted simplicity in a fundamental sense. We wanted to have what we needed in our home to complete our lifestyle. We wanted the ability to pursue and enjoy the things that are most important to us without being hindered by “stuff.”

We needed a strategy.

After starting our first registry and almost hyperventilating from choice overload, we realized we needed to guide this whole process with a firm hand. What is most important? What should we keep? Where do we register? What makes up a good registry?

Here is a collection of things we learned along the way (some by trial and error) that helped us make registering and returning gifts easier.

1. Talk.

Before you plant your feet on that asphalt parking lot, take time to talk. Talk through the kind of lifestyle you both want, and make sure you agree. Write it out if you need to.

Ask each other questions like: Do you want to entertain? Football parties or five course dinners? Those football parties may call for a lot of plastic, or a more refined taste may nix all plastic from your home. My husband is not picky, but he did not want one one plastic plate or cup. He wanted real plates and real cups so his preference narrowed down that choice.

The key is to talk and agree on a lifestyle because that frees you to make decisions together.


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2. Find Stores that are User Friendly.

Not every store is “user friendly.” Some stores limit returns to 30 days. Others will tell you damaged goods are your problem or completely neglect you when you need help with the registry gun. We started a registry at one store that proved so difficult to use (from the registry gun to finding a sales associates) that we didn’t end up using the store.

Talk to married friends. Look up reviews online and exploring their return policy. Ask specific questions. Don’t be afraid to walk away if a policy doesn’t work for you. The store’s goal should be to make this a pleasant experience.

3. Strategize the Location.

Save yourself some long drives. You won’t keep every gift you receive (even though you’re grateful!). No one really does. 

We made an hour drive one night to return and purchase items we really needed, but when we got there the store was closed. We had a great date night, but our gas budget didn’t appreciate the trips. 

Lessons learned. First, call ahead. Second, don’t register at a store if your new home isn’t located conventiently near one of their branches.

4. Limit Where You Register.

Save yourself some legwork. Don’t register at every store you visit. It’s a fun idea, but resist the urge. It’s good to use one, maybe two, national chains (especially if a substantial number of wedding guests are out of state) and a couple of local or regional stores. But don’t wear yourself out. You have far more important things to do.

Another quick reason to limit your registries is to have more credit to work with for bigger purchases. Not many wedding guests go in for that mattress or expensive vacuum. You may need more credit to buy bigger necessities so don’t spread yourself too thin


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5. Love Your Guests.

The lovely people coming to your wedding will want to buy you beautiful gifts, but remember weddings get expensive for guests. Some friends may have a tight budget so make sure you include a good variety of price points.

Remember. If a guest can’t afford to buy something from your registry, you may end up with that fuzzy pink lamp shade or owl-shaped measuring spoons. It’s best to have as many selections in the 5-10 dollar range as you can (oven mitts, small towels, inexpensive cups, plates, salad tongs, etc.). Your guests will thank you . . . and, well, you’ll thank yourself later.

6. Coupon Through Your Registry.

Everyone is talking about couponing these days, and I found that couponing with my registry worked like a charm. I took back over half of the gifts we received from one store and started watching their coupons online and through the mail. I returned to the store multiple times to buy items with coupons. Coupons saved me hundreds!

Never be afraid to return an item to a store and turn around and repurchase it with a coupon. Girl, you’ve got to use this credit to set up a house! Make every penny count.

7. Keep Only What You Love.

It’s always a good idea to have items on your registry that are inexpensive, but realize you aren’t required to keep any wedding present (and most of your lovely guests wouldn’t want you to feel obligated to keep things you don’t want or need!) We keep too much in our homes today, and all the generous weddings gifts we receive are tempting to pack away in closets and drawers because “it is a wedding present!” or it does some highly specific task quickly.

This is a whole other topic, but simplicity—especially in the kitchen—is your best bet. Buy good knives, a set of measuring utensils, bowls, pots and pans, storage containers, and you’re set. Keep what really matters and what you know you will use; return the gifts that don’t meet your standards or lifestyle goals (point 1).


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8. Return the Gadgets.

Don’t waste your time with gadgets—though you may want a few on your registry for price points. They tend to be expensive, troublesome, bulky, and easily broken. Keep only the good quality gadgets you know you will use often. You can always repurchase later.

Countertop gadgets (bagel makers, yogurt makers, personal blenders, countertop grills, vegetable choppers, and sandwich makers) may sound fun and quick, but they rarely save you time, and honestly you will save yourself some time and expense later by making crockpot yogurt, buying a larger multipurpose blender, chopping vegetables by hand, and toasting your sandwiches in the oven. Keeping life simple is a good thing. Plus, you will have less stuff to clean!

9. Keep the Gadgets.

Honestly, there are some gadgets that are wonderful. I must admit I have fallen deeply in love with my multipurpose veggie chopper/immersion blender. It is incredibly easy to use, I can wipe it clean with a sponge, and with a little broth or water, I can easily make our dinner into baby food for a baby Simpson someday. For a while, this was the only “gadget” we had in our little kitchen other than our KitchenAid (coupon purchase) and our toaster oven (another coupon purchase). Since then I have only added a blender to our gadget list, and I still haven’t bought any lemon squeezers, specialty graters, or yogurt makers. And we’re still happy!

10. Remember Your Man.

Engagement is a busy time. I remember. I was planning our wedding and my husband was finishing up a busy senior year at college. It’s easy to get in a rush and just get whatever you want. Take the time to find out what your man wants or doesn’t want. My husband wanted some things that I wouldn’t have even thought about twice, but I had to remember that his perspective brings balance to our home.  Registering is a chance to practice the art of compromising, and that makes the whole process worth the time.

Don’t feel stressed about registering. This is a time when people get to give you wonderful gifts you’ll enjoy! So relax and enjoy the process.

The key is to plan beforehand so you’re both prepared to ask questions and make good decisions with as little effort as possible.