Joy in The Simple Task

by Katy on May 29, 2015 · 32 comments

Rising dough

There are certain things in life that are completely and utterly joyful; big exciting (and expensive) things like travel or special events. But those occasions are hardly daily occurrences. Daily life is getting up and taking care of the day’s unglamorous tasks. Making dental appointments, going to work, staying on top of laundry and preparing meal after endless meal. It can easily devolve into a never ending cycle of dullness, but I say that there is joy to be found in the seemingly mundane. 

Dinner last night was black bean burgers with The Frugal Girl’s homemade buns. I could have spent a buck-and-a-half on an eight-pack of store brand buns. But where’s the fun in that?

Homemade bread costs next to nothing, especially for someone like me who stocks up on loss-leader staples, and the process is so very satisfying. Never once have I made bread and thought:

“Well that was a pain in the tuchus!”

I was very pleased with what the nice rise on yesterday’s dough, so I took a selfie with it. (You can see my extended arm reflected in the bowl.) And of course, I was listening to my trusty used iPhone while puttering away. (Dave Ramsey podcasts.)

Joy despite what could easily have been an extremely humdrum day.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Bobbi May 29, 2015 at 10:22 am

That IS a nice rise! 😀


Katy May 29, 2015 at 10:42 am

Why, thank you very much!


Kristen May 29, 2015 at 10:24 am

Another thing about making homemade buns: you get way more than the eight that come in a package, which is a boon for my family of six.

Plus, the homemade ones taste more like pricy hamburger buns, not $1.50 buns, so there’s that.

Glad your dough rose so well!


Katy May 29, 2015 at 10:40 am

I grew up baking bread, so it comes easily to me. And yes, there were enough bins for both the meal and insane amount of gorging. So delicious!


Chris May 29, 2015 at 10:46 am

And you know what’s in them!


Trish May 29, 2015 at 11:40 am

So true, Chris. My daughter and I share a home, and we are trying to eliminate all the chemicals from our food, as she has PCOS, and we think it was caused by all the hormones in her food that I, sadly provided, as I was totally unaware and uneducated about all the hormonal additives in store bought food. All natural for us now, I suppose better late, than not at all.


JD June 1, 2015 at 8:39 am

Trish, before you blame yourself, we none of us knew that back then, and sometimes had no other choices. BUT, has your daughter been checked for insulin resistance? I ask because I know personally three females with it — in all three cases it was an inherited tendency, characterized by sudden weight gain starting between the ages of four and six, frequent fatigue, irritable spells or hungry spells, and most tellingly, a gray or brown faint stripe usually on the back of the neck plus graying of knuckles and such. Girls with insulin resistance, if not treated, almost always develop PCOS. One of the females I know with IR is my own darling granddaughter. She has a family history of Type I and Type II diabetes in several lines of her family history, including my own family.


A. Marie May 29, 2015 at 10:55 am

I have always thought that we have a choice about how we feel about daily tasks: We can b**ch and moan, or we can appreciate that we’re doing things for ourselves and take pleasure in the doing. I can’t claim your expertise in breadmaking, but I’ve always taken what DH considers inexplicable pleasure in washing and hanging clothes. On the other hand, he’s never objected to my doing his laundry in the entire 37 years of our relationship! (And lest anyone jump to the conclusion that I’m a subservient housewife, I’m anything but, and he does his share and more.)


Trish May 29, 2015 at 11:42 am

I find hanging wash to be therapy….Sun, quiet, birds, breezes, it’s great!


Katy May 29, 2015 at 11:54 am

Me too. Sometimes I procrastinate the job, but always enjoy it once I start.


Anne May 29, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Me three. I always forced myself to cook from scratch when I was raising a family and still don’t care for cooking today. But I do like doing laundry. Don’t know why it is one thing and not the other.


Karen May 29, 2015 at 11:00 am

Let’s see the finished ones!


Cheryl May 29, 2015 at 1:35 pm

agreed on The “you know is in it” point. I am a Firm believer on reading ingredients. I was going to make fajitas earlier in the week and I reached for the packets of Seasoning in the grocery store. Read too many additives and the real spice was chili powder, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder and salt. So I put back the packets and used what I had in my cupboards. No additives and much cheaper. Sometimes I ask myself why am I buying this? And if I can make it myself, I put the item back on the shelf. Having a coupon is no reason for me to buy an item, unless it was on my list. I don’t buy extra foods laden with artificial colors, flavors, high fructose corn syrup or sugar just because I would “save” forty cents off. I save $3, not buying it.


Betty Winslow May 29, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Making it yourself becomes important when there are dietary issues involved. We gave up most processed foods, including some favorite soups, when my husband was diagnosed with dangerously high blood pressure. It is insane how much sodium is in most soups!


Molly May 29, 2015 at 2:58 pm

My favorite simple joy task is walking the dog. He LOVES his walks, and they’re good for me, too.


Eliza May 29, 2015 at 6:13 pm

You look super youthful in that picture. I was actually trying to figure out if there was a secret non-consumer daughter for a minute.

I, shamefully, have never attempted to make my own bread. I ought to do something about that soon.


christine May 29, 2015 at 7:16 pm

I can’t believe I have found someone who also bakes while listening to Dave Ramsey podcasts!!! Two peas in a pod.
I made banana muffins with overly ripened bananas and vegan brownies with leftover tofu. All while listening to yesterday’s show. My idea of a great afternoon.


Ellendra May 29, 2015 at 7:49 pm

I have made bread and thought it was a pain in the tuchus. . . . well, actually, it was a pain somewhere else. Bad back, bad neck, and bad shoulder do not do so well kneading dough. I’ve tried standing mixers, but the one that does a good job requires huge batches or else the hooks won’t reach the dough, and the one that can handle smaller batches really doesn’t knead very well.

I’m on the lookout for alternatives. We don’t eat much bread in my family, so whatever tool I use has to be able to handle half-a-loaf sized batches. And I’ve noticed that with machine kneading it’s best if it goes slower, most machines even the slowest setting is too fast. I recently got an electric pasta maker from Goodwill that does a good job on noodle dough. One of these days I’ll try it with bread dough, which is why I got it in the first place.

Just haven’t gotten around to it yet.


Dori June 1, 2015 at 9:41 am

You might want to consider finding yourself a bread maker machine. I’ve used one for 15 years now, and I know I’m making more homemade bread now than I would if I didn’t have it. Takes the task of kneading out, so it is so much simpler. There’s only two of us in this household so I usually only make 1 loaf. I generally take the dough out (once it’s done kneading and doing its first rise) and then shape it and put it into a bread pan for baking.


Kim from Philadelphia May 30, 2015 at 6:32 am

Bread dough selfies are the best!!

Really like the way your hair has grown in since your “accidental cut” awhile back. You look like you are 18 in that pick! Frugal living is making you super youthful!!


Kim from Philadelphia May 30, 2015 at 6:42 am

Forgot to comment on the topic of the post- lol!
I think performing “mundane” household tasks is a lovely way to show our family we care about them. Nothing nicer than a homemade meal, a clean bathroom, and a cozy home. It doesn’t have to be fancy or magazine worthy- just a place for people to gather that’s filled with love and hospitality.

Though I often make from scratch cakes and cookies- Id still buy brownie mix?? Why, I don’t know. They are so easy to make from scratch as long as you have cocoa powder. Plus they are extra delicious. Don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out!


Barb May 30, 2015 at 10:01 am

You’ve never had to make gluten free bread, have you? It’s a whole new ballgame. Having celiac disease makes that necessary. Our flours cost between 3.59 and 5.00 fr 24 ounces.


Katy May 30, 2015 at 10:57 am

No, I’m able to use traditional wheat flour.


cathy June 1, 2015 at 9:57 am

I buy Bob’s Red Mill flours by the case. Sometimes I can get a case discount (Whole Foods) and sometimes it’s just less expensive elsewhere (like Sprouts). Do you have options like that? Having to buy 5 different kinds of GF flour is what makes keeping a price book so worthwhile.


Karen May 30, 2015 at 6:15 pm

My simple task I love is working in my yard. I can be in a bad mood but I go outside, starting pulling weeds and life seems a lot better.


Megan May 31, 2015 at 6:00 am

I think you should make this a new regular blog post… “Finding Joy in Simple Tasks” or “Finding Joy in the Mundane” because you are spot on that routine tasks have to get done and they aren’t always fun or glamorous! And Podcasts rock. Have you listened to the “Serial” series yet? Get on it!!!


Dori June 1, 2015 at 9:45 am

Oo, agreed! I loved this post and would enjoy seeing it as a regular blog feature. Seeking out the joy makes all the difference when trying to live the frugal life. A lot of my friends aren’t very frugal, so sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who feels this way. Wonderful to hear about other people taking joy from these kinds of things!


Marcia May 31, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Everything I read today is putting me in mind of why I should be taking joy in simple things. The truth is that 90% of my life is fine, satisfying, and free from problems. 10% of things are not the way I would like them to be. Why do I spend so much time thinking about the 10%, then? I need to learn to let those things go, or change them, in order to be happier in myself. Thinking about some solutions to the things I want to change would be much more useful than just complaining to myself about them.


Rose June 1, 2015 at 4:08 am

I love baking my own bread too. I like knowing all the ingredients I put in to it instead of buying some Franken-food from the store. I prefer to listen to smooth jazz when I cook 🙂


JD June 1, 2015 at 8:46 am

I used to bake all my own bread, rolls and buns, and loved it. I don’t have time to do it all the time now, but I do it when I can. I love to bake bread. I used to knead by hand, but now use a stand mixer, too — it sure is faster. Katy, your bread looks great. I may have to go home and make some. I get so much joy in looking at my plump, fresh loaves or rolls, cooling from the oven. My dad always teased, “Simple things for simple minds,” but I don’t care if I’m a simple person! As in, uncomplicated.
Homemade bread, farm fresh cultured raw butter and local raw honey; food from Paradise!


Kristin June 2, 2015 at 6:57 am

Thanks for this – I was feeling resentful about cleaning the bathroom floor, but this changed my attitude. I don’t love cleaning, and a podcast of The Splendid Table made the job a lot more palatable (pun intended). Now we have super clean bathrooms!


Katy June 2, 2015 at 8:26 am

Food thoughts + bathroom work = questionable associations . . .


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