This post isn’t about making mountains out of molehills. It truly is about making something from nothing (or pretty much nothing).
Life in the time of COVID
As a solopreneur who is feeling the downside effects of COVID-19 on my business, I have enjoyed finding projects to keep me busy, interested, and engaged. My favorite so far has been the process of creating and nurturing a healthy batch of sourdough starter and baking beautiful – well, they’re not always beautiful – loaves of bread. Or as I like to say, “Making something from nothing.”
Sourdough: The Journey Begins
Sourdough bread making and baking has been around for centuries and it has become very popular again since the virus made its appearance earlier this year. I jumped on the bread wagon in May. After viewing several articles and watching even more YouTube videos, I embarked on the journey to create a sourdough starter made using only flour, water, and the naturally occurring wild yeast that exists in the air in my home. It’s been fun watching the starter move from a blob, to a gluey-like substance, to a bubbly, active jar of goodness.
A Star is Born
My dough is cleverly named Brigitte Bardough (if you’re too young to recognize that name, Ms Bardot was a famous French actress and singer in the 60s). I started BB on May 31, 2020. She was created using only flour and water and time…lots of time. It took over three weeks of discarding and feeding to get a starter that was consistently active and ready for baking. When getting started, the discarding part of the process feels so wasteful. Guess what? That discard doesn’t have to be tossed. There are thousands of recipes out there. Do a quick online search on sourdough discard recipes and you’ll find great ideas for crackers, pancakes, tortillas, doughnuts, flatbread, cookies, cakes, and more.
By the way, naming your dough is part of the fun, so if you decide to tackle this at-home/science/baking project, get creative and be clever. Here are a couple of examples: My friends’ last name is Sauer. Naming their starter Sauerdough was both clever and pretty much a no-brainer. These friends have perfected making boules (round loaves) and pizza dough and they are my sounding board whenever I have questions, which is often. My daughter named her starter Fido (Fi-dough)…get it? Other clever names I’ve encountered while on this journey include Marlon Brandough, Bread Pitt, Fernandough, Furlough Dough, Slow Moe Dough, Jane Dough, Clint Yeastwood, and many others.
My simple sourdough starter has generated some marvelous loaves of bread. It has made excellent homemade tortillas, a few batches of pizza dough (one batch great, two batches not so great), and some marginal cinnamon rolls. As I mentioned, there are thousands of recipes out there that use this starter, and I plan to try a lot more recipes as time goes on.
What I know for sure
Brigitte Bardough has a mind of her own. I know with her that some of the recipes are going to turn out great, and others will leave plenty of room for improvement. She’s a temperamental little thing, but what is consistent is the joy of pulling a fresh loaf of sourdough out of the oven and having the smell assault your senses. Pros say to let the bread sit at least one hour before cutting. Sometimes I’m successful in this endeavor, sometimes I’m not. Warm butter on warm sourdough is darn hard to resist.
Baking sourdough requires patience (a constant lesson for me), determination, consistency, a schedule, periods of activity, periods of rest. At the end, there is the victory celebration (in the form of warm butter and the smell of sour dough), or an opportunity to learn some more lessons that will guide me as I vow to give it another go on another day.
Can joy be found in hard times?
In times when money is tight and time slows down, can we find joy in the simple things? Can we make something out of nothing – in a good way? I say, Yes! We can we make something out of nothing, or at least, practically nothing.
We can find joy in nature, all day every day. Listen to the birds singing and the bees buzzing. Put out a little sugar water and the hummingbirds will come to entertain you. We can listen to the sounds of children laughing and playing and we can feel their joy. Open your heart, open your mind, there is something to be happy about each and every day. It’s the little things, I promise. Even on those hard days (and we all have them). Sometimes the joy looks more like, “Thank you, Lord, this day is finally over.” And then, God willing, the sun comes up tomorrow morning and we get a chance to try again. And who knows, maybe even bake up a beautiful loaf of insanely delicious sourdough bread!
Making something from nothing
Below is a list of some ideas for making something from nothing (to some degree). Supplies and ingredients are required, but you get the gist, right?
By, the way…
Are you homeschooling your kids? Some of these projects offer great learning experiences for your kids. School doesn’t have to be arduous and boring. It can (and should) be exciting, mind-blowing, and offer up lessons that our kids can take forward with them throughout their lives. Also, take advantage of all the free learning classes that are available to you and your kids. Check with your local library for online programs, visit www.verywellfamily.com, www.pbskids.com, and others.
- Start a batch of sourdough starter from scratch (and be sure to name it, that’s part of the fun!)
- Save a couple small glass jars, and gift some sourdough starter to your family, neighbors, friends
- Wrap empty glass jars with twine and embellish (or not) to create a rustic flower vase
- Empty wine or beer bottles can be cut and the rims smoothed down to create drinking glasses or candles
- Wine corks are great for projects like a framed corkboards, trivets, personalized name plate holders, garden sticks
- Speaking of flour and water, how about doing some paper mache projects? In fifth grade, we made the entire solar system using paper mache to form the planets
- Make homemade Playdough
- Take empty cans, remove the top and label, smooth out any sharp edges, using an ice pick poke holes in the sides of the can to create a design, insert a candle. faerie lights, or a battery-operated tea light
- Fill an empty egg crate with potting soil. Place a few herb, vegetable, or flower seeds in each and watch them sprout. Transplant to planter or the garden when established
Science & Nature projects
- Start a batch of sourdough starter from scratch. Watch in awe as that wild yeast gets established. Learn about the history of sourdough and about the bacteria that exists in healthy environments
- Rather than tossing out the bottoms of those green onions, plant them in the soil and watch them grow!
- Cut off the bottoms of a bunch of celery or a head of lettuce or cabbage, place in shallow bowl with water. Within a week or so, you will start to see growth and or roots forming
- Learn how to root new plants from houseplants or succulents that you already have
- Want quick results in the garden? Plant radish and cilantro seeds. They grow fast!
- Paint smooth rocks with scenes and inspirations and place them in the garden or in nature for people to find
- Driftwood, shells, and sea glass can be incorporated into windchimes, mosaics, and framed art
- Leaves can be used as stencils or can be placed between two pieces of wax paper to create a stained- glass collage for a window
- Leaves and colorful flowers can be pounded onto paper or cotton fabric to transfer shapes and colors
- Create a faerie garden in a patio planter
- Maps are beautiful. Use old maps to make envelopes, gift tags, name tags, or place in frame instead of an expensive mat
- Paint a mural on an outside fence or block wall
- Create a mosaic walkway or mosaic mural for your garden
- Make necklaces out of old keys
- Embellish plain picture frames with shells, sand, pine cones, sticks, jewels, keys, buttons, etc.
- Sew bandanas together to create a fun, colorful tablecloth or table runner
- Old luggage can be used to accessorize a room or a shelf
- Luggage can be stacked and a glass piece can be set on top to create an end table or night stand
- Make bird feeders from old cups and saucer
- Make bird baths from old platters, bowls, plates, saucers
- Make windchimes from old silverware and/or keys
- Make pedestaled plate stands from vintage plates and cups, bowls, or glasses
- Old wooden crates can be used on the wall to create an interesting shadow box effect, or can be used in bathrooms to hold towels, decorations, and overflow supplies
- Old frames can be repurposed, spruced up, and decorated for entertaining trays
- Old rulers and yardsticks can be used to make frames for pictures or pieced together on a tray or tabletop
- Old boxes can be covered to create a one-of-kind Inbox for your desk
- Make fun garland out of strips of fabric or paper. Hang from hooks or from the ceiling
- An old tissue box can be covered and is very handy for storing those annoying plastic grocery bags
- A small tissue box makes a great little garbage can for your car. Drop those used hand wipes, tissues, non-essential receipts, gum wrappers in and toss the whole thing when it’s full
- A small plastic baby wipe container can be covered and decorated. They make nice gifts for new moms and dads, or people who frequently travel and like to keep their hands clean
- Cloth flour sacks can be made into aprons, pillows, lunch bags, placemats
- Boring lamp shades can be covered with bright fabric to add a pop of color to a room
- Old fabric can be braided into placemats, baskets, bowls, and rugs
- Large appliance boxes are great for pop-up lemonade stands or for playing house or Yankee Workshop
- Old magazines are perfect for collages, vision boards, decoupage projects
- An old cowboy boot or rain boot makes a darling planter for your patio
- Newspaper and wrapping paper can be folded to make beautiful flower arrangements
- Tissue paper is easily transformed into gorgeous pom poms that can hang from the ceiling
- Repurpose old CDs by cutting them into pieces and gluing them onto a clear glass ornament (think Disco ball) or onto a mirror or frame
- Make homemade soap or salt scrub, add your favorite essential oils
- Make a patchwork quilt or stuffed animal from old clothes or scraps of fabric
- Make doll clothes or pillowcases from old fabric
- Old neckties can be repurposed into quilts, runners, etc.
- Crochet, knit, tat, or embroider. If you don’t know how, watch YouTube videos. If you do know how, teach someone else
- Old jeans can be repurposed into handbags, messenger bags, or incorporated into quilts
- Make mosaic patterns from old china, chipped dishes, broken jewelry, and things from nature like shells and pebbles. Birdbaths, tabletops, furniture, mirrors, and blank walls are great canvases for mosaics
- Make jewelry or hooks from old pieces of silverware
- Old quilts in disrepair can be made into pillowcases, throws, or fitted to line beautiful bread baskets
- Research your family history, share the stories
- Organize and digitize family photos and memorabilia
- Refinish or paint furniture pieces to give them new life
- Remove drawers from dressers and re-purpose them as trays or shadow boxes
- Luggage can be stacked and a round piece of glass or Plexiglas can be set on top to create an end table or nightstand (affix if you’re concerned about it falling)
- Paint or decoupage old doors, or cabinet doors
- Re-purpose an old headboard into a sitting bench or hanging swing
- Old furniture can be painted and repurposed as toys for kids. An old TV stand with a cabinet door could easily be transformed into a stove and oven or a workbench with tools. The kids will love them!
- Old boxes, television consoles, and computer monitors can be used to make dioramas
Have some fun!
I hope this post has given you some inspiration to start some projects using things that you probably already have in your house. Start with a couple and see them through. Use these projects as learning moments with your kids or grandkids.
Making something from nothing is easy! Making something from nothing can be fun! Making something from nothing is resourceful and can teach valuable lessons.
Rooting table scraps