Sunday, November 22, 2009

Blog anniversary

On this day, the third anniversary of writing Letters from a Hill Farm, I found I didn't really have much to say. Last year kind of said it all. Mostly, things are the same with a few little changes like consolidating my 'letter topics.' But it hasn't really changed much since I began. I'm not a 'book blogger' or a 'food blogger' or a 'garden blogger.' I just write my letters. I'm still spending my time writing book reports or posting recipes or poems or quotes or music. Occasionally Mrs Bale pops in when there is something interesting in the 'Irish Sea' - oops I mean northern New England. The thing I love the very most is connecting with all of you. I love your comments and your emails. I'm so pleased when you take time out of your busy day to say hi, or recommend a book, or tell me you love the music or the recipe. Blogging has brought me incredible joy and knowledge. I thank each of you.

Quite coincidentally, I got myself a present today.

After years and years of making my own bread, I am buying a bread machine. When I first started, not only did I knead by hand, but we had a grain grinder which we cranked ourselves. Imagine that! Then I got an electric grain grinder. Then I just started buying whole wheat flour. Then I started using my Kitchen Aid for bread. And now the time seems right to go on to the next 'new thing.' Even though bread machines have been around for a while, I've scoffed. I've thought 'this isn't real.' I've gone on in my old way. But you know what? For a while now I haven't been satisfied. The dough hook chipped. We got a new one, and that chipped. So then I just used the paddle attachment, but it isn't great. The dough gets all caught up in it and doesn't really mix well. As a consequence of this, and whatever other cosmic stuff goes into bread making, my bread hasn't been delicious. And then there is the storage problem. I've tried the refrigerator. I've tried a bread box with the bread in plastic bags and then not in plastic bags. I've tried plastic bags out on the counter. I've tried paper bags out on the counter. The bread just doesn't keep that well. And now that the kids are grown, the bread doesn't get eaten so quickly. I don't like to make just one loaf since a fair bit of my day is spent doing so. With the machine, one loaf is made at a time so it will be eaten more promptly. So all these things factor into my decision. I've read that I can put in the ingredients, and set some kind of magical button so there will be fresh, warm bread in the morning. Can that really be? Are there little bread-elves that will do this for me?

I'll write again with a progress report. I'm hopeful and excited. Any wisdom or advice is most welcome.

There will be a giveaway at a less busy time of the year. Nothing huge, but just a little thank you for being such wonderful readers.


  1. Congratulations on 3 years!
    I love you mix of books, recipes and gardening, with your slightly British influence.

    On bread machines: congratulations on the acquisition. Sounds like all the stars aligned for you to get one. The bread elves are amazing! We use our mostly for pizza dough - reliable and easy every time.

  2. Happy Blogiversary, dear friend. How lovely it has been to read your letters during these years (and even before!) I'm interested and eager to read the letters yet to come.

    No advice on a bread maker. I'm in the Kitchen Aide phase of bread baking myself.

  3. Happy blog anniversary, Nan! Good luck with your bread machine - I put mine away years ago when I got my Aga as it makes such good bread, but recently I tasted the results of a friend's machine and very good it was.

  4. I am so excited for you with your new bread machine. I stand in awe of you grinding your own grain!! I love your blog and enjoy reading your always brightens my day!

  5. Nan,
    I think you'll like your bread maker. I don't even remember for how long I've had one - more than 20 years anyway. But I make old fashioned handmade bread too.
    There is almost nothing to clean up when you use the machine - and I do appreciate that on tired days!

  6. Happy anniversary, dear one! You are such a bright spot in my life. I talk about you to my friends here and family. The other day my mother was telling her sitter about you! Love you much!

  7. Congrats on your blogiversary! I always enjoy coming here. Love your new header so much! Blessings, Debra

  8. Happy blogiversary!

    I picked up a bread machine from the street a couple of years ago and really enjoy it -- particularly the speedy mode that can give me a loaf of bread in less than 2 hours...

  9. I use my bread machine on the dough cycle all the time now. With only three of us at home, I don't need as much bread as I once did.

    Just the other day I let the machine make and knead the dough for cinnamon rolls and then rolled them out later.

    Really enjoy your blog. :)

  10. Happy Blogiversary! Have fun with the new bread machine!


  11. Nan, here is my secret. I put my bread in the freezer; sliced.
    If I buy a delicious loaf of say, cinnamon bread, from the bakery, I only have to store it wrapped in the freezer and take out a slice or two for breakfast. The only caveat is that it should be toasted. But then there's an excuse to lather it with jam. oh, and butter.

  12. Happy Blogiverasry, Nan! I'm so glad I found you just over a year ago - have enjoyed the book reviews, your garden reports, the recipes (many of which I've tried), and just about everything else you've chosen to write about. Best wishes for many more years of letters from a Hill Farm.

  13. Happy blogiversary, Nan! My three-year anniversary is coming up next month. I am having trouble remembering what life was like before blogging. It has become such a natural and enjoyable way of communicating throughout each week. Your new machine looks great! Congratulations.

  14. Congratulations on your blog's anniversary and best of luck with the bread-making.

  15. Congratulations on your 3rd anniversary!

    Yes, please do give us a progress report on the new bread machine. I am very curious as to how it works.

  16. Hi Nan: First let me congratulate you on your 3rd anniversary in the blog world. Although I don't comment as often as I should, I read and enjoy every posting.

    I have often thought of investing in a bread machine, it would certainly make life easier, but for now I am afraid I still do it the old fashioned way. I will be very interested to see how your new present works out.

    As I read through the rest of your blog, I wondered if you didn't actually live in my house. I too have tried every way under the sun to keep bread fresh, and I still have not managed to find a solution.

    Often when reading your postings Nan, I have had the thought that you and I are quite similar in many ways, except maybe for the dark chocolate thing, and I think perhaps that is why I enjoy your blog so much. I hope you will keep posting for many more years, because you may be sure, I will be reading them.

  17. Happy Anniversary! I have so enjoyed your blog...every bit of it! I hope you like your bread maker. I love mine almost as much as my crock pot:)

  18. Happy Anniversary and have fun with the bread maker!

  19. I remember when you first decided to join the blogging world! Didn't you start and stop for a brief time? And then you returned and it's been so wonderful. While I don't comment on all, I read each and every post, because, of course, I know you and you're my friend and this is the greatest way to stay in touch. So happy, happy anniversary and here's to many, many more years of book reviews and recipes and photos of your home & garden & pets & family and weather updates and music reviews and poetry. I love it all.

    Now, having said all that, I about fell off my chair when I read that you bought a bread machine!! To think I just gave mine away. ;) I'm making two loaves every weekend and lovin' it. I still use my 28-year-old KitchenAid mixer and it seems to be holding up to the task of mixing & kneading. I've heard though, via Amazon reviews, that the newer models aren't nearly as reliable as the earlier models. I guess I'll keep mine until it stops working.

    Keep us posted on your new bread machine!

    Lots of love to one of my very dearest friends,


  20. Happy Anniversary Nan! Yours is one of the blogs I look forward to reading and I love your letters.

    I use a bread maker and find it works well - the bread elves work their magic for me.

  21. Congratulations on your Blog Anniversary, Nan! I love visiting you and seeing all your recipes. I just tried your spinach bread and my mom really liked it. Thanks so much for all your hard work and willingness to share your good recipes. Your bread machine sounds terrific!

  22. Happy Blogaversary!!! Mmmmm I can almost smell that homemade bread.

  23. I am so glad you visited my blog -thankyou for the kind comments - for now I have found yours, I will be following it. Thanks for checking the links too. Best of luck with the bread-maker; I've had one for years - my husband eats far too much now! Must get back to work. Love from the UK.

  24. Nan, I should have added 'congratulations on the 3rd blogging anniversary'. I'll catch up on all you have written a little later.

  25. Happy Birthday Nan, it was a good day when I found your site. You are a blessing to so many of us.
    The bread machine sounds great fun. I just finished The Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott, there is a bread machine there too.

  26. Thank you, Raidergirl! I like that 'slightly British influence.' :<) We'll be trying pizza dough soon!

    Aisling, thank you. I was in that 'k.a. phase' for a long, long time. :<)

    Cornflower, thank you. Glad to hear the good results from a bread machine.

    Staci, thank you. yeah, the grinding was pretty amazing. It was bolted to a shelf and it took ages but we were young 'back to the earth hippies' and were undaunted. :<)

    Em, thanks for your words about the bread machine. This is all so new to us.

    Oh, Kay, I'm so touched. Thank you.

    Debra, thank you. I have fun with those headers. :<)

    Sprite, that's great! The tiny bit of Mr Monk in me thinks I couldn't quite do that. :<)

    Brenda, wow! Cinnamon rolls. I may ask you for that recipe! and thank you.

    Lezlie, thank you!

    Julie, that's great advice. Thank you. I am a big toast fan.

    JoAnn, thank you!

    Nan, that is so true. Thank you!

    Margaret, thank you! It's fun to try something new in cooking.

    Thanks, Gigi, and I will be writing more about the results.

    Oh, Donna, there is no 'should.' You never have to feel you must comment. I'm just happy you read my letters. Check out Julie's comment about freezing bread!

    Book Psmith, thank you! And I may be asking you for bread machine info.

    Thank you, Val!

    Les, I didn't stop and start. I just couldn't get started. Now I think it was because we still had dial up. You would tell me how to add a photograph and my slow connection would end before it was loaded. Oh, the bad old days. :<) Thank you so much! Very funny about the bread machine.

    Books Please, thank you, and I'm glad to hear your bread machine elves do a good job.

    Kay, thank you! and I'm so glad your mother liked the bread.

    Lisa, thank you! It did smell good last night but different from regular bread. It may have been the newness of the machine.

    Thank you, Wild Somerset Child. It's good to hear success stories with bread machines.

    Carole, that's amazing. I've never read a book that has a bread machine!

  27. Congratulations on three years Nan! I know that I've loved the time I've spent on your blog, and I'm very glad you've stuck with it.

    And congrats on the bread machine. I have one myself. It isn't perfect, but it is DEFINITELY handy. :)

  28. Heather, thank you! The first loaf turned out well - the toast is great!

  29. Happy blogging anniversary! A question-did the hand grinder grind wheat to your satisfaction? I'm thinking of getting one and would like your opinion. I grind with an electric one now, but it's so loud. I don't like the noise.

  30. Congratulations to you Nan!
    Thank YOU for all the wonderful blogging entries, book reviews, recipes, weather reports, gardening, photography, british influence, and for sharing your blog roll with us!
    I truly do appreciate everything you share!

  31. Thank you, Debbie and Joanne!

    Debbie, it was rather coarse, and my gosh it took forever, as well as wearing out our arms, and we were just in our twenties then! My little electric grinder is good, but noisy. I usually mixed that flour with store bought.

    Joanne, is this 'my' Canadian Joanne?! I wish people could read your email letters to me. They would make great blog entries! Think you'll ever start one?

  32. I don't remember how I found you and your wonderful blog or even if you found me but however it came about, I have enjoyed our blogging friendship immensely. I look forward to many more clicks of the mouse to check in on what's happening in your world.

  33. Nan, are just too kind!
    I am so grateful for those who blog so that readers like myself can glean/benefit/learn and enjoy, however, my plate is so full with the day to day demands of life, that I will have to wait for a better season to consider it. I do appreciate your generous words though!
    And yes, this is from Joanne in Canada where we are enjoying a wonderful Fall season to the fullest!

  34. Thank you, Susan! I think it may have been through Aisling or Alison??

    Joanne, I like how you said, 'a better season.' Lookin' forward to it!

  35. Happy (belated) Blogiversary! Even though I love books, I always enjoy your food posts, too, and often jot down recipes! Cool new bread machine. I wish I had enough patience to make bread!

  36. Happy 3rd Blogging Anniv, Nan! I don't sew, garden,etc. I also just write about stuff. And enjoy reading your stuff!!

  37. And me, too, Mare!!

    Danielle, honestly you don't need a bit of patience with this little toy. You put in the ingredients, set it for sooner or later, and go off and leave it!

  38. I'm sorry I missed celebrating with you. As you know, I just celebrated my 2nd anniversary (and you are in the drawing). I mostly read garden blogs, but as a reader I love yours and you have sent me to many other good blogs so I thank you for keeping my world wide and bright.
    Do you know the Laurie R. King books about Mary Russell beginning with The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I am enjoying re-reading some of them again and highly recommend them. British mystery - early in the 20th century. I will say no more.

  39. Commonweeder, what a very, very nice thing to say. I loved reading your words. And yes, I have read the Mary Russell books - all but the latest. I love the characters and the stories. Thank you for mentioning them, though, because if I hadn't, I would have picked the first one up on your recommendation.


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