Bottle Cap Cottage

Russian pensioner Olga Kostina has turned her tiny cottage in the remote town of Kamarchaga in the Siberian taiga, into architectural macrame. Inspired by traditional motifs, Olga has painstakingly nailed over 30,000 plastic bottle caps onto her house to create pixelated patterns, and plans to continue adding more until every wall is completely covered.

Commenter “wendywonderland” says it best:

“Our magic comes from within, inspired by the world we inhabit and the resources we stumble across. How to teach people to listen to the small voice that guides them to the plastic bottle caps, and allows them to be viewed as beautiful? ”

How to teach people, indeed. Thanks, Olga!

How would you transform your house into livable art?

(via designboom)

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The Science of Procrastination

Did I mention that I’m now a grad student? this video is particularly relevant to me at the moment (in fact, I’m posting this in class…hah!)

And solutions? One is the Pomodoro technique, a time-management method similar to timeboxing that uses timed intervals of work and reward.

“Human motivation is highly influenced by how imminent the reward is perceived to be — meaning, the further away the reward is, the more you discount its value. This is often referred to as Present bias, or Hyperbolic discounting.”

Also check out The Thief of Time: Philosophical Essays on Procrastination

{via Brain Pickings}

Savoring Summer’s End

As summer breathes its last golden gasp over southern Vermont, I’ve been reflecting on the strange paths that this year has taken.

If you’ve noticed an absence lately, it’s because I’ve just begun a grad school program and my time of late has been utterly consumed by first moving to a strange new town, meeting a lot of strange new people, and figuring out APA Style.

I’ve often lamented that this was The Year of Nothing, but now I’m realizing that this year may have been one of the most important so far, full of twists and turns of my own creation that led to many closed doors until I found the right one.

For too long, I looked to others as authors of my happiness, but this year I learned that it’s always been in the backyard of my heart.

Is the end of summer a time of reflection for you, too?

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*If you’re interested in reading an academic study of happiness, try browsing through the online version of The Elements of Happiness, a beautiful book by designer, Laura Javier.

It’s based off the The Harvard Study of Adult Development, where 824 people were followed for 72 years in order to understand the concept of happiness. In her book, Laura visually represents 10 particular cases, drawing her own conclusions on what makes people happy.

Thought you’d enjoy it as well!

ElementsOfHappiness3

ElementsOfHappiness2

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ElementsOfHappiness

{Images via Miss Moss}

{Images via Bee Lovely Vintage by Herring & Herring}

Simple, Cheap and Healthy Homemade Bread: A Tutorial

Growing up in my family, bread wasn’t just an everyday occurrence, it was an event. When it came straight out of the oven, we stood around as my mother tipped the loaf on its side and deftly sliced off the end, releasing a puff of steam into the air. No matter what time of day it happened to be, at least half of the first loaf never made it to the cooling rack. Bread, butter, cold glass of milk; this was my childhood.

You may think that I grew up knowing how to whip up a batch of my own, but that’s not the case. My mother never actually taught me or my sisters how to make bread, and it was always such a part of our lives that we never thought to ask. It was always just there. It sustained us.

This past year, I finally asked for a bread-baking lesson. And this is what I got.

Mama Jesse’s Homemade Bread

Rise in pans 10-15 min
Bake 25 min. at 350 degrees

Ingredients: 

1 T. yeast

1/4 c. sugar

1/4 c. oil

palmful of salt

5 cups white flour

5 cups whole wheat flour

(I added 2 eggs..optional! Mama Jess says you don’t need it.)

That’s it! Could it be easier? While this bread takes a few hours to make, most of that time is spent rising. Once you get the basic recipe down, you can have it going on in the background of whatever else you’re doing at home.

Step 1:

Dissolve 1 T. yeast in about 1/4 c. warm water with 1 tsp. or so of sugar in it. Don’t, I repeat DO NOT make the water too hot. It should be lukewarm. If it’s too hot it will kill the yeast and the bread won’t rise at all. Yeast is alive!

Set aside to foam.

look, foamy!

Step 2:

In a large bowl combine 1 qt. warm water, 1/4 c. sugar, 1/4 c. oil, palmful salt.

Add 5 c. white flour
Add yeast
Beat 100 strokes
Add (gradually) 5 c. whole wheat flour
Let sit 10-15 min.

Step 3:

Next, turn it out onto a floured surface. It should look like this:

Knead on floured board 5 min. or more (5-10)
If needs more flour, add white to board.

Knead? What is “knead,” you might ask?

Well, kneading the dough just means pushing and pressing the dough in a rhythmic way to work out all the kinks and get a nice consistency. It’s fun! My mom even says it’s meditative, but I’ll let her work on “Zen and the Art of Dough” by herself.

These are the steps to a good knead:

Push, Flip, Press, Rotate!

push!

flip!

Press!

Step 4:

Flour bottom of big bowl, add dough, oil top, put in warm spot to rise till double. This takes a while…like at least half an hour-45 minutes. Forget about it and go do something else!

Pre-rise

Post-rise…voila!

Step 5:

Now for the fun part…you get to punch something! This next step involves a quick second kneading.

First, punch down the dough. Give it a good wallop.

“how dare you!”

When you’re finished, it should look something like this:

Next, turn the dough onto your floured surface and knead it for a few minutes until it looks something like this. You old kneading pro, you!

Step 6:

Next, cut the dough into four equal parts and knead each part separately. Just knead it enough to form four little balls of dough instead of four triangles.

Next, shape your little dough balls into longer, skinnier, bread-shaped formations.

…put them into pans

Let them rise in the pans for 10-15 minutes, then bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

…and that’s it! You now have four loaves of warm, delicious and healthy bread. Now take that $5.00(x4) that you didn’t spend on bakery bread and buy something cool!

If this is more bread than you need, you can freeze some for later. Just make sure you double-wrap it and check the bag for air-holes or my mom will yell at you.