Saturday, December 8, 2012

Three Bread Recipes from Mary

Originally posted on facebook

Three Bread Recipes from Mary

December 8, 2012 at 8:46 pm
I hate having to scroll through 100+ notes every time I want one of these recipes, so I'm copying them here :)  Everything that follows is Mary's words/thoughts.


1 cup Sourdough starter (recipe at the bottom of this page)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups warm water
3 3/4- 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I've also used whole wheat)
3 Tbsp sugar (I've also used 1/4 cup local honey)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
Cold water
It really is best with white flour and sugar, but not very healthy.

Mix 1 cup Sourdough Starter, 2 1/2 cups flour and 2 cups warm water in 3 quart glass bowl with wooden spoon until smooth. Cover; let stand in warm draft-free place for 8 hours. (It is best to do this the night before you plan to bake, I've found).

Add 3 3/4 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, baking soda, and oil to the mixture; stir with wooden spoon until smooth and flour is completely absorbed. Dough should be firm enough to form into ball. If you need to add 1/2 cup more flour gradually to the mixture.

Turn dough out onto heavily floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (I do this step in my kitchen aid with the bread hook.) Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover, let rise in warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours. (Dough is ready when indentation remains when touched.)

Punch down dough; divide into halves. Shape each half into a round, slightly flat loaf. (I do a baguette shape and slice it diagonally about 3 or 4 times down the length of the loaf.) Place loaves in opposite corners of greased cookie sheet. Make 3 1/4 inch slashes in each loaf. Let rise til double, about 45 minutes. ( I have sprinkled my cookie sheet with corn meal or poppy seeds before putting the loaves on. I use my Pampered Chef Bar pan- the big one- to bake both loaves on... yummy!)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush loaves with cold water. Place cookie sheet in center of oven- don't let cookie sheet touch sides of oven. Bake, brushing occasionally with more cold water, until loaves sound hollow when tapped, about 50 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet, cool on wire racks.

Sourdough Starter
1 teaspoon yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup milk
1 cup all purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in 3 quart glass bowl. Stir in milk. Stir in flour gradually. Beat until smooth. Cover with towel and let stand for 24 hours in warm draft-free place, until bubbles appear. If fermentation has not begun after 24 hours, throw away and start over. Stir well and let sit out an additional 2-3 days, until foamy.

When starter is foamy, stir well and pour into 1 quart glass crock with tightly fitting cover and store in the refrigerator. (I use a glass jar with a screw on lid that I got honey in). Starter is ready to use when a clear liquid rises to the surface. Stir before using. After using 1 cup of starter in recipe, add 3/4 cup flour and 3/4 cup milk to remaining starter in jar and cover and leave on the counter for 12 hours. Refrigerate. If bread begins losing volume, only add 1/2 cup milk and dissolve 1 teaspoon yeast in 1/4 cup warm water, then add to the remaining starter with the 3/4 cup flour.

It seems complicated, but after a few times you will become one with the bread and know exactly what it needs. Mine is my baby, and I guard my start with my life. I've heard of families passing their starts down the generations... like 100 year old starts. That's what I want my descendants to think of when they think of their weird ancestor Mary... really good Sourdough bread. And leopard print...

Just so I don't get sued for plagiarism, I took this recipe out of my old 1970's version of Betty Crocker's cookbook. Now go become a Master Baker, little grasshoppers!

My basic bread recipe that I change to suit my mood.

This is my go-to bread recipe... I have learned that as long as you have the key components to bread, you can switch up what you use as the flour, liquid, oil, etc...

7-8 cups flour (I have used all whole wheat, or all white, or a mix of grains like ground oatmeal with wheat and white)
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast (2 packages)
1 cup warm water
2 cups other liquid (water, scalded then cooled to lukewarm milk, or buttermilk, or I've added powdered milk with the water)
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp oil (calls for shortening, but I like to use a healthy oil)
[If I'm using honey in place of sugar, I put 1/3 cup oil in then use the same measuring cup to pour in 1/3 cup honey... the oiled cup allows the honey to fall out without scraping]
1 Tbsp salt
butter, softened

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water. Stir in other liquid, sugar (honey), oil, salt, and 4 cups of flour. Beat until smooth (I use my Kitchen Aid with the dough attachment). Mix in just enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic... about 10 minutes (I use my Kitchen Aid for this step as well). Place dough in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Allow to rise in warm place until double, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Divide into halves. Shape each half into a loaf and place in greased bread pan. Brush loaves with butter. Let rise until double, about an hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place loaves on low rack, making sure pans do not touch. Bake until loaves sound hollow when tapped (45-50 minutes). Remove from pans and brush with butter. Cool on wire racks.

I like to make whole wheat and honey (the honey moistens the whole wheat). If I make buttermilk bread, I use all white flour, and sugar... not at all healthy, but so good to sop up gravies and stews!!!
I also do 1/3 part whole wheat, 1/3 part white flour, and 1/3 part ground oatmeal. This makes it more nutritious, while still being soft and yummy. I have rolled this recipe with cinnamon and sugar to make a swirled bread, then used that for Kirk's French toast the next morning. Dry leftover bread becomes homemade croutons- I cover the cubed bread with a little smattering of melted butter, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, and kosher salt (and sometimes parsley) and bake at 425 degrees until crunchy. It can be stored in a zip-lock bag for a few days.

Bread makes me happy.

Fresh ground, whole wheat bread...

5 cups warm water
2 Tablespoons salt
2/3 cup oil
2/3 cup honey
3 Tablespoons yeast
1/3 cup gluten flour
10 cups (more or less) fresh ground whole wheat

Pour water in a large bowl... I use my big bowl to my Kitchen Aid mixer... add several cups of flour and start mixing with the dough hook. Add salt, oil, honey and yeast and gluten. I have to use my 1/3 cup for the oil and honey... so what I do is fill it first with oil, then honey, then oil, then honey... the honey just falls out and grabs the residual oil with it. :)  Add the last of the flour and continue mixing with dough hook until dough pulls away from side of bowl... you may need to add more flour than the recipe calls for... or pay attention and do not add all the flour if the dough appears to be pulling into a ball before all the flour has been added. Knead for 10-15 minutes... and you may wish to finish kneading it on a lightly floured counter. Place dough in oiled bowl and turn so oiled side is on top. Cover with wet cloth and allow to rise until double. Punch down and divide into 5 pieces... roll each piece into a loaf and place into greased loaf pan. Allow to rise for an hour, or until doubled. Bake at 350 for about 50 minutes... or until brown and hollow sounding when thumped lightly with finger. Remove from oven and cool on racks. :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Memories of a Child

I think I'm ready to finish my thoughts about why June 18 is both a happy and sad day for me.

In 2007, my whole world was turned upside-down, never to return to the way it had been, or to the way it should have been.  My husband and I, who each had 6 children and then one together, were suddenly without anyone except each other.  I don't wish to get into that whole story at this time.  I've had many requests for it to be written, but I don't have it in me yet.  Someday. 

Anyway, in the fall we discovered that God was blessing us with another child.  There were a lot of mixed feelings, of course, because we definitely wanted a baby, but it was a scary time to have one.

It was a fairly normal pregnancy for me, and the "due date" came and went, as expected.  We planned for an "unassisted" home birth.  I had read so many books on pregnancy and childbirth, repeatedly, plus my experience of already having birthed 7 children gave me peace that all would be well.  The following is what I wrote on a private forum for my online friends, the morning of June 18, 2008.

It looks like today's the day for me! Woke up at 9 (it's now 9:40) and had a "crampy" contraction, but felt different. Had another one at 9:06. Went to the bathroom and had some bloody show. So, yup, still having "cramps" every few minutes. Yeah, I know they're not really cramps, but at this stage that's what it feels like. Once things change I'll let you all know! Had to tell you first...well, second, after dh, of course!

We'd planned a quick run to Portland today to pick up more barrels, but looks like I won't be going. Not sure about dh... He buys them, cleans them out, and resells them. One of the few ways we make some money. We've been completely out for a couple weeks and are just now ready to go get more. Figures!

Oh, and the full moon is "officially" today at "universal time" 17:30, which I'm pretty sure is GMT, so in about a half hour. Nope, don't think I'll have baby exactly on the dot for full moon, but this would be my first full moon baby!

Well, it might be pretty soon...we'll see. Having contractions every couple of minutes (haven't really timed them). Def. harder now. I have the ottoman to my glider rocker on the seat of the rocker and and a stack of pillows on top of that, then I can lean on it during a ctx. Dh rubs my lower back, which feels good. He's informed his parents that today's the day. Wish we could have been there instead of here, but that's the way life goes sometimes.
Dh has been cleaning our room all morning, vacuuming now.
I'll be back later with more news!

3:54 pm
Hello! New mommy here! Our baby boy was born about 11:50am, just less than 3 hours after I woke up. I mostly labored standing up, leaning against a pile of pillows on my chair, with dh applying pressure to my lower back--that really helped! I didn't have a clock to see, but I'm guessing it was close to 11:40 that I got down on my knees facing the bed. After a ctx, I reached down and I could feel the bag of waters there, so with the next contraction I popped it, then almost immediately I could feel his head coming out. Pretty much one ctx to push his head all the way out, then I just "rested" (hah!) and breathed until the next ctx when his body came out pretty much on it's own. Dh did great, no panicking.

After that I got up on the bed and held and snuggled with baby for a long time. He wasn't interested in nursing, cried a bit, snuffled a lot (but his lungs sound great now), and slept. Time goes quickly! It was over an hour after he was born, and I wasn't feeling the need to push out the placenta, so I handed him off to dad (after having a pan put on the floor) and got down to push it out (breathed it out, more like). It plopped out immediately... doesn't appear to be any problems.

It's 3:50 now, but haven't had my shower yet. I had to be on the phone listening in to a court hearing today about some issues with my children. Now I've had a bowl of chicken noodle soup (leftover from last night), so I'm going to go take that shower!

We don't have good measurements yet, but it looks like he weighs about 9lb 4 oz. Probably 22in long, and his feet are 3.5" long!

LOL I wish I could smell him! My nose is still stuffed up! He went into the shower with me, and I had dh put the new baby lotion on him...coconut oil, olive oil, lavender EO. Dh says he smells like coconut now! But I'm sure the new baby smell is still there. Maybe my nose will un-stuff soon enough for me to enjoy it!

Melie was such a sweetie and brought us dinner, chicken pot pie. We ate it all! No leftovers.

I have to say that of all my births, this was the one where I felt the most in-control.  I knew I could have the baby completely alone without panicking, but I was so very glad that Mark was there to experience it, as he should have been, since he was there to start the whole thing.  ;)

We didn't have a name chosen, so we called him Little Guy.  Some of our friends thought he looked like a little frog, so they called him Kermit.  He looked just like his brother, Adam, who looks just like his Daddy.  I enjoyed and treasured every minute I had with him, and he was very much loved and well-cared-for by both of us.

As the days went on, I did start having a lot of anxiety.  I knew we needed to leave, preferably out of state, but there was nowhere to go.  Nobody who would take us in.  It seems rare for people to be willing to reach out when someone is hurting and in real need and to help, despite any real or imagined risks to themselves.  I was alone, with nobody I knew I could trust.

July 16, when our LG wasn't even a month old yet, my nightmare became real.

You cannot imagine how many times since that day that I wish so badly that I had just listened to my gut instinct, packed up the car, and headed somewhere, anywhere, until I found someone to help me.  How many times I wish I hadn't been afraid to tell the evil lying kidnappers to go to Hell and defend my precious baby and his right to be with ME to the point of death, if necessary.  How many times I've cried myself to sleep.

We only saw him a few short times after that.

We did give him a name, even after we knew we'd never see him again, but I am not posting his name at this time for security purposes.  My hope is that someday I will see him again because he is bold enough to search for us, to want to know the truth of why he wasn't raised by his parents.  I don't care if any of my children are ever wealthy except in love and with the riches of God's grace, but I do hope that my son, and indeed all my children, will be a seeker and a guardian of Truth.

So now you know why June 18 holds good memories for me, the birth of my Little Guy.  But it also holds bad memories because my time with him was so short.  Many times I've been told that I'm a strong woman because I'm still alive and sane after having my 8 children taken away from me.  But it isn't me, because I am weak and tired and angry, if left to myself.  God's strength makes me strong.  His love helps me to still have love to give.  His peace calms me in the storm.  His joy gives me joy and laughter even in the darkness.  His promises give me hope for eternity.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Memories of a Friend

Last night I had a very hard time going to sleep.  It was after midnight, which reminded me that it was already the 18th of June.  This should be a happy day for me, but it no longer is.

Today is the birthday of my best friend growing up.  She is two years older than I.  I think we spent more time together in the 5 years we lived next door than we did sleeping, at least in the summer months.  We rode our bicycles to the swimming pool nearly every day, stopping back at her dad's grocery store for a snack on the way home.  I'm sure he really liked paying for MY treats every day!  I'm sure we usually just got a candy bar, but I remember occasionally getting a pint of ice cream.

Even after we moved away when I was 11, we still contrived to see each other regularly.  Or as often as we could convince our parents that one of us spending the night wasn't going to cause any of them any extra effort or time.  Luckily for us they quite often said, "yes."  We wrote letters to each other frequently, especially when she went away to college.  I was actually a pretty prolific letter-writer back in those days.

I remember the first time she and I went downtown shopping alone after she got her license.  It wasn't "her" town, and she was frustrated at the stupid one-way streets and alleys and missing parking lot entrances, so I convinced her to let me drive.  Yup, I didn't have a license yet, but we didn't care.  If anything, I was more careful for that reason!  That day we also both learned how to pump our own gas.  She hadn't done that yet because in Oregon you aren't allowed, and the learning opportunity hadn't come my way yet.

Tammy was one of my bridesmaids.  I was one of hers years later.  I went in a pouring rainstorm (with broken wipes) 60+ miles to Portland, after arguing with my husband about my "need to go", to the hospital for the birth of her first child. 

After my divorce and remarriage we didn't talk as often as I would have liked, but she was one of the first people I called to tell my news of my pregnancy with our first child.  She wasn't happy with me.  She tried to tell me how wrong I was to be with this man (who I am still with after 7 years, btw).  I felt that instead of sharing in my joy, she was condemning me, trying to tell me how I should live my life, that I wasn't being a good Christian.  Naturally, women are a bit more emotional during pregnancy, and I told her that I couldn't talk to her anymore, said goodbye (I think?), and hung up on her.  I only meant that I couldn't talk to her anymore at that moment, but that was the last conversation we had.  I think I cried more that night about the loss of a friend than I had cried about anything in years.  My sweet husband's love comforted me and gave me the strength to go on, though.

Her mother died of cancer nearly 4 years ago.  Mary had always been like a second mom to me, and it was very sad, especially since I never made it to see her after I knew she was sick.  I went to her funeral, awash in deep grief over my own personal tragedy (another story).  They had a time for people to get up and share their memories of Mary.  I was surrounded by people that I knew, yet I was alone there.  I somehow managed to get up in line to speak, and then I somehow managed to choke out a few sentences.  I couldn't say all the things that were on my mind, the tears choking out what my turmoiled mind managed to let escape.  "Mary loved me.  She loved me!"  I know I said a few other things, but they are lost now.

There was so much more I wanted to say.  I wanted to say that she would never have treated me the way my own mother was.  That she would done everything in her power to help me, and not cause me more grief and pain.  However much I wanted to use that time, in front of my family and friends, to give a sermon/lecture on how things should have been, I knew that it wasn't the time or place for my problems.  I still think they need to hear it, though, but I doubt that it will ever happen.

I wanted to talk to Tammy, her husband, sister, brother...but I don't think I even got a hug.  Last year I sent her birthday greetings via private message on facebook, but she didn't respond.  I still think of her, though, and I still wish her the best on this day and every day.

Tammy, if you ever read this, know that I still love you, and I miss our friendship.  I hope you have a happy family life.  You certainly have beautiful children.

There is more to why this day is a mixture of happiness and sorrow, but I have to save that for later.  Now is not the time for more tears, and yet I can't help but cry as I sit here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Much Better Now

The little bit of herbs and whatnot that I took must have helped, because I never did get really sick.  I still cough a bit at times, but only a few times a day.  I think there were only 3 nights that I slept propped up, so not too bad!

Only a few short days left of the 60 day challenge, which I miserably failed.  At least I'm not any fatter!  I think.  I'm kind of scared to weigh and measure myself again.  :P 

We've been milking a couple of goats and cows lately.  Not mine, so I don't have to milk them every day, even though I enjoy it.  There is SO MUCH milk!  And there are more cows due to calve soon!  We've been trying to drink/use a lot of milk, but we aren't keeping up very well.  I've made yogurt, cottage cheese, eggnog, ice cream, butter and buttermilk, and lots of chocolate milk, and yet the pigs still end up getting what gets too old to use.  I've even cooked our oatmeal in milk instead of water!  I'd like to learn how to make hard cheeses, so it could be saved long-term, but it's not something I want to tackle on my own.  I'd rather be an apprentice :)

We finally got around to painting the living room.  Whenever we find some trim, I plan to paint it bright white.  Painting the colors made it much friendlier and homey, but also much darker.  The couches didn't match, they were actually pretty horrid, so I used some white sheets to brighten up the room a bit and make it all go together a bit better.  I'm sure I shall rearrange things at least once a month :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day 40 and Feeling Like Cr*p

Here it is, about 20 days away from the end of the 60-day Challenge.  And I'm not doing a darn thing.  I fully intended to get busy, but then I ... got busy.  And I got sick.  So now I don't feel like doing anything.

I seem to have the annual tradition of getting a horrible cold.  It starts in my head, where I feel kind of "odd" for a few hours, then the congestion hits, and I start sneezing, coughing, and blowing my nose a lot.  And then it gets worse.

Back in 1995, when I was pregnant with my third child, I got really sick.  I tend to avoid doctors as much as possible, but when it reached the point where every breath was so painful I wanted to cry, I went in.  Turns out I had pneumonia AND pleurisy.  Not a fun combination.  I am pretty sure that's when this cold thing became an annual beginning-of-summer/change-of-weather tradition.  And because of that, it always ends up being a horrible chest cold.

In my experience, this thing always lasts at least 2 weeks and often 3, and I spend several days coughing so much that I think one of my lungs will finally come up my throat.  Sometimes I do cough enough to throw up.  I go through a LOT of tissues.  I start stealing and hoarding all the pillows I can find, so I can try to make myself a recliner in bed with which to sleep propped up.  I dose myself with Nyquil so I can actually get some sleep.

I'm now to the stage where the glands in my neck are swollen and painful, and I can feel the congestion settling into my lungs.  I'm really hoping this time around I can beat it, but we shall see.  I'm trying to take vitamins/herbs/supplements to counteract this nemesis, but I'm also pretty forgetful.  Some of the things I have been, or should be taking or using are as follows:
  • Colloidal silver.  You can buy this at many places, but we actually make our own.  It's pretty awesome stuff.
  • Vitamin C.  I was completely out and just bought some more yesterday, so now I have to remember to take megadoses of this wonderful vitamin.
  • Immune supporting herb combination capsules.  I had a couple different brands of these, but they contain things like echinacea, goldenseal, myrrh, and other stuff that I can't remember right now.
  • Herbal teas, made with things like yarrow, mullein, rabbit tobacco, mint, and whatever else I feel like adding to the mix.  Most of these are herbs that I wild harvested and dried myself!
  • Garlic.  Like, a half a head of garlic to a pint of soup.  Yum!
  • Broth.  Good, homemade broth, from whatever animal I've recently eaten; chicken, pheasant, goat.  I like to add onion, garlic, and ginger to the broth.
  • Congestion rub.  Something like Vick's, but without all the nasty petroleum stuff in it.  I found a recipe online, and made some myself.  My husband said it needed to smell like eucalyptus, though, to be "real", so I added some essential oils to the finished product.

I'm sure there are other things I could be doing, but I can't remember any of them right now.  Oh yeah, SLEEP! I should be doing a lot more of that!  Like, right now, in fact.

Please add to my list in the comment section.  Maybe I'll actually try some of them!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Day 26, and a Cleanse

How am I doing on the Challenge?  Not so well.  I haven't been doing my T-Tapp regularly, maybe only a couple times a week.  The scales haven't moved.  My clothes don't seem to be any less tight.  I just haven't been consistent.  My own fault, completely.  Only a few days left of our small group challenge, but I still have another month of my own personal challenge.  There's still time!

A couple weeks ago I got a yeast infection.  I can't remember the last time I had one, but it's been a very long time.  Back when OTC "remedies" were the only thing I knew to use.  This time around I employed the use of garlic, tea tree oil, kefir, cranberry juice, and coconut oil.  I have had a mild case of athlete's foot for many years, and it occasionally goes beyond a couple small spots.  A few days into this yeast infection I realized that the yuck on my foot was (and had been) worse than normal.  Smack me upside the head - the two were connected!  Yikes!  I guess I figured I had a systemic yeast issue, but since it never really bothered me, I ignored it.  I am definitely a sugar addict, which hasn't helped any.  It was hard to stay away from sweets even for a day while fighting this thing!

About two years ago I read a great book titled Coconut Cured, by Dr. Bruce Fife.  I highly recommend this book.  In one of the chapters he writes about various fasts/cleanses/detoxes employing coconut in one form or another.  I knew that one day I would have to try the coconut oil detox (you can read that section here), but I kept putting it off for one reason or another.

Well, yesterday I did it.  I started the program.  My initial intention is to do seven days, so I can kill off the yeast.  However I am now wavering on that resolve.  I like coconut oil.  I have been known on several occasions to simply scoop some out and eat it plain, right off the spoon.  This is a little different, though.  This is extreme quantities of coconut oil!

I talked my best friend (my wonderful long-suffering husband) into joining me, for at least three days.  He reluctantly agreed.  He does NOT enjoy coconut oil, so I was grateful for this supportive gesture.  I was doing fine, though a bit hungry, mid-day; he was already complaining that he was dying.  By bedtime I was joining him with stomach cramps and nausea.  After visiting "the facilities" in the middle of the night, I felt much better upon waking.

Neither of us rushed downstairs to have "breakfast" today, and it was almost noon before we had our first dose of oil.  I broke down last night and allowed my dear husband to have his oil in chicken broth (homemade) so that is how he got his all day.  For mine, I heated the lemonade and let the oil melt in it.  I just couldn't bear the thought of eating it off the spoon again. 

We have felt tired most of the day, though the lawn did get mowed.  Having never done any sort of cleanse, I wasn't really thinking about the not-really-much-fun aspect of it.  I know it's good for me, but I'm not enjoying it, that's for sure! 

I tried the oil mixed with plain yogurt this afternoon.  It probably would have been okay if I had only put 2 Tbl of oil in, instead of 4.  Trying to get more in at one sitting isn't necessarily the best way.  Tonight I gave in and did the broth for mine as well.  Much tastier! 

We have one more day, and then I will decide how to proceed.  I'm not sure if I have enough coconut oil on hand to make it through the week, at the rate of 10+ Tbl per day.  I have an order coming sometime this week, though.  I am considering continuing to drink the lemonade and consume a lot of oil, but add foods like broth, yogurt, and scrambled eggs - things like that.

I'm not really sure how we'll manage tomorrow.  We have to be back to work in the garden.  Will we have enough energy to make it?  How will we manage to get the oil in throughout the day?  Perhaps we will only work in the morning.  I guess we'll figure that out tomorrow.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Oh Costco, How I Do Love Thee

One of my dear friends wrote a blog post this morning about Costco.  I started replying, but once my husband commented, "What are you doing?  Writing a book?"  I decided to write my own post.  :)

Costco is my most favoritest store on earth :)  My first experience was in 1984, when they opened their second store in Portland, Oregon, and until the past couple of years, I have been a steady and faithful member and shopper.  It is only because of moving FAR from any C. that keeps me away now.

I remember the first time my sister and I went to do the grocery shopping alone, and when we got to the checkout we said, "Yeah!  We can spend $200, too!"  That was kind of the family joke about how much my mom always spent.  That was probably a fair estimate of how much I spent regularly once I had my own family, but it wasn't weekly.

I usually lived at least an hour away from Costco, so it was usually a once-a-month shopping trip, and we mostly stuck to the basic necessities.  But, like you, I know we succumbed frequently to something new or different.
I don't have records anymore of how much I spent there, but I do know that in later years especially, I definitely saved money by shopping there.  I had a couple "tricks" that helped me in that area.

First, I made a spreadsheet of all the grocery/household items that I normally keep on hand, and had columns for each store where I would normally shop.  I could then "fill in the blank" with the price at each location, either price per container, or per ounce/pound, etc.  I carried this master list with me at all times!  I could then compare prices at Costco with the regular prices in other stores to know if I was really getting a savings, as well as compare sales prices in the grocery store with C's basic price.  To this day I have a really hard time buying things like cheese in a grocery store, because I know it's about twice the price that C has. 

My other "trick" was to have a basic shopping list made out, that would cover our usual meals and keep us stocked up on all the stuff I needed on hand to change the menu occasionally.  It was for a month, and right before my shopping trip I could see how many whole chickens, bags of potatoes, #10 cans of green beans, olives, mushrooms, and tomatoes I needed, as well as the rest.  I had it divided into sections: baking needs (flour, sugar, spices, etc.), freezer, refrigerator, non-food (tp, pt, zip-lock bags, BATTERIES, etc), well, you understand.  I could then double check my cupboards for the essentials and make sure I bought them when I needed them, and where I knew I was saving money.

I also could hand out part of my list to the boys and send them to a section of the store with a cart and have them help with shopping.  Having extra hands does help :)  They knew we'd usually pick at least one thing to buy extra, whether it was something new to try, or an old favorite.

Costco's Food Court was also frequented by our family.  We could feed everyone for much less than two of us at a nice restaurant, and everyone liked it.  I once tried to estimate how many Costco hot dogs I've eaten in my lifetime.  I figured that I ate probably an average of one per month, for 20+ years.  I'll let you do the math :)

A few years ago I needed to purchase new glasses.  I checked the prices for exams, frames, and lenses at several locations, and even if I included the membership price as part of the cost for my glasses, it was still cheaper to go to Costco.

I have had probably hundreds (if not more) photos printed there, as well, and I don't remember a single complaint.  Once I finally joined the digital photo world, I loved that I could upload my photos at home, crop them or add borders or whatnot, and have my order ready at whatever store I would be at next.

The customer service is also wonderful, and I would compare it to that of Fred Meyer (where I worked for several years) and Nordstrom (where I shopped occasionally - from the clearance racks, naturally).

Costco is not only a wonderful place to shop, but it is also a great place to work.  No, I was never an official employee of Costco, but I worked at nearly all the stores in Oregon, as well as a couple in Washington, while working for different companies who were Special Event vendors.  I got to know some of the employees at a few of the stores, and it was always a pleasure to return a few months later for another Road Show.  My favorite stores were Hillsboro (the biggest Costco in the world!), Vancouver, and Clackamas (although, I always had a lot of jewelry stolen there).

If I lived near a Costco, and if I had money to spend :) I would definitely have a membership again.

Oh, and I didn't always spend $200 each time I shopped.  On at least one occasion I went in needing bananas and that is the only thing I came out with.  A whopping $0.97 spent.  I think that must be a record.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 8

It has been a week, and I've done my T-Tapp Basic workout 7 times.  Yes, I know that I should have done it 8 times, since this is the 8th day, but there's still a couple hours left in the day. :)  (Actually, I will be getting up and doing it once I'm done here.)

I'm not going to weigh or measure until the end of 30 days.  I don't feel my clothes getting looser yet.  I don't feel lighter.  But, my legs aren't hurting as much the past couple of days when I do the moves.  Maybe I'm not working as hard?  Could be.  Or else they're finally (hopefully) getting used to doing something productive after a long period of uselessness, which is not the fault of my legs, by any stretch of the imagination, but mine entirely.  ;)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 4

April 10 was the start of my 60-Day Challenge.  My short-term goal is to lose enough to get down a size (okay, to get where my jeans aren't bulging and stretching out in all the wrong places).  I have a few longer-term goals, though, and I'm really hoping that the next two months will give me a good jumpstart into them.

  1. Make exercise/activity a normal daily activity for me.  Except for a few seasons of volleyball and cross-country (Me a runner?  R-i-g-h-t) a century ago when I was in school, I just haven't led an active lifestyle.  I'm not getting any younger, and if I don't change my habits now, I'll regret it later.
  2. Get back to my pre-baby weight/size.  Or close to it.  That's about 3-4 sizes, and/or 40-50 pounds.  I don't anticipate this happening in just a couple months, obviously, but it's a realistic goal for the next year.  Or two.  As long as I am making progress and don't start going the other way, it will be good.
  3. Okay, remember that crack about me being a runner?  Well, I would like to eventually be able to run a 5k.  I don't care how fast I do it, but to get the stamina to run/jog/woggle (kind of a wriggly jog or joggly walk) continuously for that distance would be really awesome.  Also, when I do it, I want to do it barefoot.  

So anyway, I weighed and measured myself Tuesday morning and had hubby take pictures.  NOT happy with the numbers, and the view of me in super snug-fitting clothes wasn't too pretty either.  I'm going to spare all of you and not post those.  At least not now.  Once I have some noticeable progress, I'll reconsider.

How am I doing on the challenge?  I haven't changed my eating yet.  I'm not suddenly cutting out all sugar or drastically reducing my carbs, though I am trying to be good about limiting those to less than normal.  For me, I know that those are things I need to do, but my experience is that when I eliminate them and then decide to treat myself I binge and all the progress is quickly lost.  So this time around I'm not going to deny myself something if I really want it; I will just try to have a smaller serving or put it off a while and see if the desire passes.

I also started doing T-Tapp again.  I'm doing a Bootcamp first, which for me will be 14 days in a row and then every other day of the Basic (BWO) or Basic Plus Workout (B+).  I'm starting over with the Basic Instructional which takes about 20 minutes.  Tuesday I got it done in the morning, but the past two days it wasn't until right before bed.  It will probably be late tonight again.  I first did T-Tapp last fall, and this time around it is a LOT harder.  It could be because I'm bigger now, but I've also heard that the more you do it the harder it gets, because as you learn the workout you can start focusing more on your form.  Either way, my arms and legs were screaming at me to be done!  It's good that there are only 8 repetitions of each move.

The facebook group is doing just a 30-Day Challenge (and for any form of diet/exercise, not just T-Tapp), and so I will have to measure and take photos at that point, but I am going to do the whole 60 days just as if I were in the official contest.

Stay tuned!  And feel free to join me!

Monday, April 2, 2012

60 Day Challenge

About two months ago I wrote about my need to lose weight.  Sadly, I haven't done anything about it.  I gave up on my "mostly sugar-free" thing, because, dang it anyway, I love sugar!  Too much.  So hard to give up sweets.  Wouldn't be so hard if I had plenty of honey to substitute, but I don't.

Well, something is happening soon to get me going.  Again.  Running from April 10 to June 10 is T-Tapp's 2012 60-Day Challenge.  There are a few reasons for not joining officially, but many more reasons to join unofficially.  I'm hoping to write regularly about what I'm doing, to try and keep myself accountable.  Plus I'm in a great facebook group of friends who are all trying to lose as well.  Oh, and this isn't a challenge to lose weight, but to lose inches.  Because, really, isn't our size and how we fit into our clothes much more important than a number on a scale?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday ~ March 15

Okay.  Time to be thankful for something.  Anything.  Because right now I am very distressed and disturbed.  
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.  ~Colossians 3:15
Someone (or more than one someone) that I have trusted has been hurting me and my family.  I do not yet know who, but I should know soon.  Even though I have been trying to solve this mystery for over a year, I am hesitant to have the answer revealed.  To know with certainty that someone whom I have called friend has betrayed me...  Well, it is painful beyond description.
And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and [some] of you shall they cause to be put to death.  ~Luke 21:16
I have gone through this hurt before.  But just because it is nothing new doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt the same.  Worse, even, because this time the person(s) involved knows that I've been hurt before.  Maybe I'm too trusting of people; I probably am.  But what kind of life is it, to shut yourself off completely from the world, never trusting anyone?  Not much of a life, which is why once I'm done licking my wounds I quit secluding myself, and I venture forth once again to see if maybe this time I can live life unscathed.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  ~Romans 8:35
Will I be able to forgive?  I really don't know.  I will certainly never forget.
Oh, I'm not God, I'm a girl
I confess that I don't have sea of forgetfulness
~Sara Groves, from All Right Here
But back to the beginning...  for what can I be thankful in this situation?  While I certainly am not thankful for the situation, there is still plenty in my life for which I can give thanks to God.  I know that in spite of this circumstance, I still do have true friends.  Real friends, that you can trust completely with your heart, are rare indeed, and you should count yourself blessed even if you have only one; I know I have more.

My truest friend on this earth is also the man I am proud to call my husband.  He loves me more than life itself, and is fiercely protective of me.  He has stood by my side, holding me and comforting me, through all the pain and suffering that we have endured.  I don't even like to think about what my life would be without him.  He is my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thankful Thursday ~ February 2

Today is February 2, Groundhog Day.  It may be trivial, but today I am thankful for movies :)

Of course I'm thinking of Groundhog Day, with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.  Movies technically are a waste of time, for the most part.  But they can also be a great way to get a much-needed laugh (I'm remembering how Rat Race really helped me on one of my worst days ever), and I've even been known to use movies (like Beaches) for a much-needed cry.  Movies can also be a way to help us appreciate great literature, such as Shakespeare and Tolkien and Jane Austen.

What is one of your favorite movies, and why are you thankful for it?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Herbs, Herbs, Everywhere

Today was fairly relaxing, but also productive.  Sometimes my non-relaxing days don't feel very productive!  I had no plans for the day when it started, other than I was going to do something I wanted to do, no "work". 

I didn't lounge around in bed very long.  I had a simple breakfast, but I can't even remember now what it was!  I do remember there was a cup of fresh chicken broth hot out of the crock pot, though.  I cleaned up the kitchen after eating, and put on some water to boil for kombucha.  We had two 3-quart batches to bottle, combination of black tea and blueberry herbal tea.  I put some crushed pineapple into half of the bottles, and some frozen blueberries into the other half.  We like to add fruit and let it sit out a couple more days for a second ferment.  I used the same tea combination to start the next two batches.

After the kombucha, I decided it was time to strain the herbs in the mini crock pot and add beeswax.  I was making a congestion chest rub (homemade "Vick's").  The crock doesn't have different temperature settings, so it was probably hotter than ideal, but still perfectly usable; the herbs got a bit crunchy, but weren't used in the finished product anyway.  Hubby said it isn't like Vick's unless it smells like eucalyptus, so I added some eucalyptus essential oil drops, which did give it a nice smell.

So then I had an empty crock, and decided to fill it with something.  I got out my 18-gallon Rubbermaid tote full of herbs and started digging.  I decided to make a glycerin tincture of my Restful Sleep herb blend.  Sometimes I could just use a little bit of help relaxing at night.  It should be ready to be strained and put into a jar in a couple days.

My Mama's Red Raspberry Brew supply was almost gone, so I mixed up quite a large batch of it.  Now I have no real excuse for not making enough to drink every day.  Some of my herbs are now in low supply, so I will have to get more.

The last few years I have started wildcrafting my own herbs whenever possible.  As I went through my box today, I made a list of everything I have on hand, and I was surprised to realize that nearly half are herbs that I picked and dried myself!  Of course, many of those I only have a small quantity, and some I've never even used, but I have them, and my goal is to figure out for what purpose they can best be used, and then start using them.

I know I need to make some more tinctures to have on hand.  Lobelia, Valerian, and Olive Leaf will be some of the first I make when I get a new supply of vodka.  I will probably make some things in glycerin instead of alcohol.  And others, like Jungle Juice, I will make both and then mix them.  The alcohol extracts more of the "good stuff" from the herbs, but tastes nasty, so a combination of that w/ a glycerin tincture, which is sweet, will make them easier to take, or at least not so nasty tasting.

Many people will get rid of their herbs after a year or two, because they lose their potency.  That is probably true; however, I am frugal to the point of ridiculousness in some things, and definitely with my herbs and spices!  I'm sure some of my herbs are at least 6 years old, but I figure if I can still smell them and taste them, then they aren't ready for the compost pile yet.  I would store them in the freezer, if I had space, but I don't.  I have them each in plastic zip-lock bags and in the plastic tote.  Ideally, I would at least keep them in a cool place, but I haven't always had that option.  At least they are in the dark, protected from the sunlight.

It's almost time to mix up some more tooth powder, too.  Each time it turns out differently.  I typically use baking soda and/or sea salt as a base and go from there.  Some things I might use are: black walnut hull powder, activated charcoal, xylitol, peppermint oil, and cinnamon.  I have also mixed it with coconut oil or glycerin a couple times, but a powder seems to work just fine.  Just wet the toothbrush and dip it in.

So now my herbs are packed away again for a while.  I have some sewing projects I need to get to soon, as well as some subjects I have been tasked with educating myself about.

I swept and mopped the kitchen and dining room today, as well.  It was sunny and warm enough that I could shake out all the rugs outside and leave the door open while I did the floors.  But windy enough to shut it again afterward.

The seven hens provided us with five eggs today, which is above average for wintertime.  They are funny creatures, and I find it enjoyable to catch, hug, and pet them, although I'm pretty sure they don't find it nearly as enjoyable.  But they seem to like me; after all, I am the one bringing them food and water and fresh hay in which to scratch around.

I did the T-Tapp Basic Plus Tempo workout today, and also did 10 push-ups before and after.  My body has some muscles that haven't been used in quite a while that were really protesting during that second set!  Some of my crazy friends are doing this challenge of 100 push-ups every day this year.  I may be crazy, but I'm not THAT crazy!  Perhaps by the end of the year I'll be able to do 100 in a day.  Yeah, I think I can handle that goal.

Well, another Sunday is over and done, and my bed is calling to me.  Another day of work awaits me on the morrow.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday ~ January 26

What am I thankful for today?  Hmmm  Maybe I should have decided what to write before starting!  Actually, it isn't that I can't think of anything, it's trying to choose just one for today.  Okay, so I'll name a few!

  • New really cute Smartwool socks.  I got 2 pair on a great clearance sale!  And yes, I got the purple and pink striped socks.
  • My Babylock sewing machine.  I've had it for many years, and I still love it just as much as the day I got it.  And it's been great fun having it out and using it several times a week.
  • Fresh chicken eggs.  Which reminds me that I should go give those little ladies some "fresh" hay in which to scratch around and fling everywhere. 
  • My friends.  I mostly only "see" them on Facebook, but occasionally I get to see them in person, or at least talk on the phone, too. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Potatoes

January 25, 2012 at 7:04 pm
Yield: Makes 8 servings
Active time: 25 minutes
Total time: 1 1/4 hours

  • 4 lb small (1 1/2- to 2-inch) boiling potatoes, such as white, Yukon Gold, or Red, peeled (NOTE:  we used larger potatoes, kept the skin on, and just cut into smaller chunks, and they were delicious)
  • 3/4 cup rendered goose fat, or duck fat (this is a holiday recipe, assuming you are also roasting a goose or duck.  We used olive oil and it was just fine)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper (I used a roasted garlic and herb spice blend; use what you want/have)

  1. Preheat oven to 450*
  2. Cover potatoes with salted cold water, simmer, uncovered, until just tender, 12-20 minutes, depending on type of potato.  Drain in a colander and pat dry.
  3. Toss potatoes with fat/oil in a bowl, Spread potatoes in 1 layer in a large roasting pan and roast in middle of oven, turning once, until golden, about 30 minutes.  Toss with salt and pepper. (I added the seasonings with the oil, and didn't turn the potatoes.)

Potatoes may be boiled ahead, cooled, and chilled, to be cooked later.

They could have baked a little longer, to get crispier, but we were HUNGRY and tired of waiting :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Starting Over With Weight Loss

I am frustrated and slightly disgusted with myself right now.

Last winter I was walking a lot, and had cut out sugar, and I was getting thinner and feeling great.  Then I kind of went on vacation and started eating as much junk as I wanted and very few walks for a couple months.  In the fall I tried to get my act together with regular exercise, but I failed.  I'm great at short-term goals, but once those are over I just go back to normal.

Well, here I am a year later, weighing and measuring bigger!  I refuse to continue this way, though.  What am I going to do about it?

I've been "mostly" sugar-free since last Sunday.  What that means is 1) No sugary desserts; 2) If I need to sweeten my oats or whatever, I will use stevia or honey; 3) I am not worrying about sugar in bread at this time, but I will try to cut back on bread consumption (only b/c I love it so much and eat more than I should); 4) Fruit is okay.

I am also starting T-Tapp.  I'm going to do the "boot camp" again, and then try to get it in every other day.  It's only about 20 minutes of my time, but if I don't get it done first thing in the morning it is really difficult to get to it later.  A mental thing, I know.

I also am going to do a Coconut Oil Cleanse soon.  I'll have to get stocked up on some good coconut oil first, though!

Hopefully this will be the year that I finally lose all that "baby weight" I've been carrying around.  50 pounds is the goal, and/or 3-4 sizes.  My first baby turned 20 yesterday.  It's about time I worked on looking like I did before I had children!

My wonderful husband loves me no matter how I look, but I want to look good for him.  He is mainly concerned about my health, and I'm certainly not getting any younger!  I want to be healthy and strong and active.  I know my current (and years-long) habit of inactivity has not been good for me.

Help keep me going!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday ~ January 19

I thank God for this day, for the chance to play outside
For the birds in the trees, for his love that's deep and wide.
For the air that I breathe, for my friends and family.
That's why I say thanks everyday.

'Cause a thankful heart is a happy heart.
I'm glad for what I have, that's an easy place to start.
For the love that He shares as He listens to my prayers,
that's why I say thanks everyday.

I thank God for this night, for the stars in the sky.
For the hug from my mom, for my special lullaby.
For the chance to have rest, for the reasons I am blessed.
That's why we say thanks everyday.

Because a thankful heart is a happy heart.
I'm glad for what I have, that's an easy place to start.
For the love that we share as He listens to our prayers, 
that's why we say thanks everyday.

That's why we say thanks everyday. 
~ Song by Phil Vischer

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Whole Wheat Buns (which are actually Rolls)

Whole Wheat Buns (which are actually Rolls)

January 11, 2012 at 8:11 pm
Recipe from Zoar ALCW Cookbook 1982, Minnesota/South Dakota
Contributed by Arlene Harstad Woolery

1/2 cup warm water
2 cakes yeast (1 cake=3 pkg) (1 pkg=2 1/4 tsp), so 2 cakes=rounded 1/4 cup
2 teaspoons sugar

1. Mix together and set aside. 
a 1-quart container isn't large enough for the yeast mixture. You have been warned!

4 cups scalded milk
3/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup molasses
3/4 cup shortening (I used butter)
3 eggs, beaten
4 cups whole wheat flour
9 cups white flour

2. In large bowl, pour scalded milk over sugar, salt, molasses, shortening.
3. Cool to lukewarm, then add some (2 cups) of the flour and beat; add yeast mixture and beat.
4. Add more flour (2 cups) and beaten eggs and beat well.
5. Stir in rest of white flour.  Let rest a few minutes.
6. Put on floured board and knead well.
7. Let rise twice. (I put in greased bowl in warm spot)
8. Shape and bake in 350* oven.Cookbook says "Makes about 75 buns."  LOL  I think they meant small round rolls to get that many :)  I made large rolls, about 25, and it took 18-20 minutes to bake.

Baked for 14 minutes

And the jury votes it's a winner! Especially with butter :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

June 9, 2008: The Beginning

Here I am once again, starting a blog. I started my first one 3+ years ago at modblog, but that site eventually disintegrated. Before it completely went away, I started one at Yahoo!360, and rescued most of my postings--yea!. My blog settings are set to "friends of friends", so if you don't have a yahoo account, then you won't be able to read them (plus, you might have to ask to be my friend!) I might change it to public again at some point in time. We'll see. I have one at Xanga, but decided to limit that one to my sewing exploits...which haven't been too many! I also tried one at EFx2, but that, too seems to have gone away. (You can tell I don't do much blogging!)

! I don't know how often I will get on here, but I hope it can be a safe place for me to vent my frustrations, share my sorrows, and more importantly to celebrate the joys and pleasures that come my way. I hope my new friends will feel free to comment at will. Join me in my journey!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How Many Times Can One Start Over?

It's been over a year since I last posted.  Again.  Ugh.  I really do seem to lack consistency, at least in this area.  Well, since it's a new year, maybe - just maybe - I can start writing.  Consistently.  At least once a week.  Yeah, that would be great.  We shall see :)