Now That’s My Cup Of Tea!

A chilled morning calls for warming with a hot cup of tea. I can hear you coffee drinkers disagree. Yes it’s tea for me, is it tea for thee? (Did you know I can rhyme?)

This winter I became aware of the potential chemicals and toxins that often come with the packaged deal of teas. I dove into researching typical brands we used and also healthier options to consume. Teas aren’t automatically healthy simply because the box looks bright with herbs and fruits. Looks can be ever so deceiving! I enjoyed the task of trying out a variety of new teas, and I’m happy to share results with you!

For an outcast, non-coffeee drinker such as I, a cup of tea is healthy, right? We tend to assume that since teas are herbs they are nourishing for us. But did you ever slow down your life and meditate on just what might be hiding out in that tea bag?!

Here’s information on what to beware of in your teas. Not that this list is all-inclusive, but it’s a good start.

Avoid teas that have natural flavors, soy lecithin, maltodextrin and cornstarch.  These can all contain GMOs.

Many teas are laden with pesticides, carcinogens, and polypropylene, especially if the bags contain plastics. Plastic leaches before it melts- hello boiling water!  Heavy metals,  additives, and flouride are more bad guys often found camping out in that innocent little bag. And, I’m ever so sorry to deflate your joy but K-cups have got to go!

Things to look for when buying teas:

Choose organic and non-GMO certified teas. These won’t be the cheapest brands either.

Do your own research on your favorite brand of tea and see what information the company shares.  Are they testing for heavy metals? Are their tea bags made out of plastic? How do they package their tea?  Is their bag sealed with a metal staple? Are they transparent about their ingredients?

Here is a list of typical tea brands to stay away from for the above reasons:




Celestial Seasonings



I know it’s worth groaning over! I’m right there with you, convicted guilty of drinking these teas. But hey, that makes two of us listening to our conscience. Cheers for us! It brings the shudders when I think of the gallons of iced Lipton or Luzainne tea we’ve drank for years! But I’ve found a few kinds to replace that.

Is your cup of tea feeling cold and disgusting yet?! Cheer up; here are safe brands you can choose from. ⬇️

*Traditional Medicinals-  their tea is organic, non-GMO and their tea bags are free of plastic and are compostable.  They perform rigorous testing for heavy metals and microbial contaminates.  Currently I’m in a streak of drinking their Cup of Calm Lavender Mint for my morning tea. Who cares if it’s supposed to be a tea for bedtime; I can drink it when I want. And it is a cup of calm because I drink it at my desk while I read my Bible.

*Choice Organics-  this tea is also tested for chemicals, heavy metals, and lead. It’s made without flavors or additives. It’s packed into natural fiber plastic free tea bags.  The tea string is from organic material. The packaging filteration paper is oxygen bleached using a natural process completely free of chemicals or toxins. We’ve tried their grapefruit honeybush tea as well as their peppermint- both are tasty. Also, their black tea makes wonderful sweet tea to replace the Lipton or Luzainne we used to drink. 

*Numi- this is another clean tea that is organic, non-GMO, and free of pesticides. Their tea bags are made of Manila hemp and are compostable. Hurray for no plastic in their bags! Numi also has a good black tea labeled Breakfast Blend, which makes a good sweet tea.

*Organic India- they test each batch of teas/herbs for contaminates like mold, fungus, bacteria, pesticides, and heavy metals. They don’t add fillers, artificial colors, or preservatives.  Their bags are made out of organic Manila hemp and are compostable and biodegradable. The strings are from unbleached cotton fiber.

*Rishi- this company too is organic and performs spot testing for pesticides and contaminates. They use plant based materials for their bags and are not petroleum based. No glues, staples, or metals on their bags either. The downside is that their price is higher than the previous ones I’ve mentioned. 

*Pukka teas are also organic and super good quality, but same as Rishi, super expensive.

*The Republic of Tea- is another brand of delicious teas. They are tested for pesticides and do not use staples or strings in their bags. Their Peach Ginger tea is one I absolutely love! It’s delighful as a hot cup or refreshing as iced.  I’d love to say it’s 100% safe, but from my research, they don’t quite meet all the requirements. They carry some organic teas, but they are not all. Shop wisely. I also couldn’t find that they’re tested for heavy metals. The bags are unbleached, which is great, but I couldn’t find that they are totally free of plastic.  Another concern was the natural flavors, although they say their natural flavors are free of chemicals. It will be a better tea to drink than the average, but not the best.

Stash, Yogi and Earth Mama are teas that I also researched. They appear like good teas at first glance. But upon investigating further, I couldn’t find that they were completely free of plastics or else not properly tested for heavy metals/pesticides, or didn’t reveal satisfactory information. Drink at your own risk.

All these teas can be found at health food stores or some main line grocery stores. Amazon carries most of these as well. Whole Foods will delight any tea lover with their advanced collection of teas; some healthy and some not so much. Shop with your eyes wide open for pesticides and plastics!

There are definitely more safe brands out there. Some I did not include because the price was fit for kings, not peasants like me.

And yes, you don’t need a fancy tea kettle to make tea. I use my plain-Jane little pan that has ever so many uses.  It hangs on a hook inside a nearby cupboard.  It’s out of sight and doesn’t clutter my stove top like a kettle would. I have an affinity for multipurpose products.

I found these cute stackables at Target. Perfect for storing teas, yet easy to see

Three tips for your cup of tea:

● Use good water! This makes a difference. We have a distiller and wouldn’t want to drink anything else. It boils the water to a steam, and thus removes all bacteria, chlroine and the like.  It leaves you with the cleanest, thirst quenching water! Reverse osmosis is about the same as distilled.

● Don’t stir in the sugar. Sweeten it with a choice stevia or honey. Raw honey is healthy but remember it’s also calorie laden, which may contribute to fluffiness. 

● Stir in a teaspoon or two of collagen. There’s no taste but it simply adds a bit of protein to help out your blood sugar levels. There’s a wide variety of collagen out there.  I use Anthony’s collagen powder. It’s hydrolyzed, non-GMO and grass fed.

Avocado Happy

I’m sorry if you don’t like avocados because avocados are little bundles of healthy happiness! If you’ve not aquired a taste for them, it may be that your taste buds simply need adjustment. Give it a fair try. Get over their texture and color and keep trying until your taste buds say “more please!”

Avocados are nutritious gems! Full of healthy fats, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, B6, folate and more. A single avocado has 975 milligrams of potassium while a banana, which is well known for its potassium, only delivers 487 milligrams per large fruit.

I would love to taste avocados grown in their native country- I’ve heard they surpass anything we buy in the grocery store. Avocados are nutritious for the whole family including your 6+ month old who’s beginning to eat table foods. A much more nutritious choice than the typical applesauce and yogurt for sure!

So if your trying out avocados for the first time, make sure they’re in the perfect stage of ripening. Press on the shell. If they feel soft enough to press into the flesh, they’re ripe. If they feel like mush, they’re past prime and will be brown and yucky looking inside. If they’re hard with no budging to your squeeze, they need more time to ripen. You’ll need patience because they’re ain’t no good way to speed up the process. I’ve laid them in the sun or on a heat register with some sucess, but nothing instant. I store my avocados in a basket along with bananas to help ripen them. Thanks to Google, I once tried baking avocados wrapped in foil, to ripen them. The result was a total fiasco! They got softer but tasted horrible! Please learn from my mistake. Actually, you should probably blame Google instead of me.

If your hesitant to try avocodos, I recommend sprinkling a few slices with plenty of salt, and eat alongside soft eggs for a trial test.

🥑 Here’s how you eat this delightful green fruit. (Yes, they are a fruit! Not a vegetable. Although I wouldn’t recommend adding them to your fruit salad!)

Toss them on top of salads. Sprinkle on top of Mexican foods or soup. Eat with rice and beans. Make guacamole. Slice and eat them plain sprinkled with salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Put a few slices on a sandwich. Make Avocado toast. Basically, eat avocados anyway you choose. It will fill the day and your belly with happiness. 🥑

Here’s how you make Avocado Toast:

Toast a piece of sourdough bread. It doesn’t have to be sourdough but I’m awfully partial to it. It’s super crunchy, chewy and drool worthy. In a small bowl, smash the avocado and sprinkle liberally with salt and Nutritional Yeast. (I prefer Redmond Real salt for health benefits.) Spread on toast and sprinkle with more Nutritional yeast and Parmesan cheese. Bow your head and thank God for a delightful breakfast, then chow in. I can hardly eat this without moaning around! 🤤

You could scoop them out and slice them in an artful arrangement on the toast but I choose to simply squeeze them out and smash for efficiency.

This is my favorite breakfast on the market. I started eating this a year ago and haven’t got tired of it. Ok, so I don’t eat it every single morning because it takes skill to keep avocados in my pantry at just the perfect stage of ripening- not too hard and not too ripe. Either way is disgusting. But the perfect blend of ripening is superb! I often buy one bag avocodos with a couple soft ones and a second bag on the hard side, to further ripen. And oh how we miss those green gems when we’re out of stock!

My children did not like avocodo toast at first. They saw me eating it faithfully and eventually asked for bites. And more bites. Until I was making whole pieces for each of them. And now it’s everyone’s favorite around here. They also now love avocados served in any form. Taste buds really can change, so don’t give up after the initial trial!

Sometimes we top our avocodo toast with a soft egg, which is super tasty as well. But even without an egg, the combination of avocodo, sourdough, and the vitamins in the Nutritional yeast, makes a super filling and healthy breakfast. I’m not pining to eat a snack at 10 AM because this keeps me full a long time.

In case you’re not familiar with Nutritional yeast: These golden flakes have a cheesy, nutty type of flavor. Rich in nutrients they’re a good source of some trace minerals, B vitamins including B 12, fiber and antioxidants. It contains all nine essentials amino acids, making it a complete protein. I buy mine at our local bulk food store but most health food stores would carry it as well. We also sprinkle this on eggs or popcorn along with salt.

Nutritional yeast flakes

A Light In The Window

One of life’s simple pleasures is lighting a candle, setting it on a cleaned surface and seeing that cozy glow. Part of what makes a house a home is the cozy atmosphere, right? We need a few throws, pillows and candles burning don’t we?  Of course this doesn’t automatically make it a home but it adds to! There’s just something about a burning candle that speaks life, on a damp, dismal night.

Unfortunately, that seemingly harmless candle might be filling your home with harmful chemicals. Candles are notorious for triggering headaches for many people. This is because of the high levels of synthetic scents, lead, and other toxins being released as the candles burn. Because of this, I have been extremely particular for many years about what candles I burn in my house. There are a few exceptions to the rule; like tea parties or such, that I allow myself to burn tealights, pillar, or taper candles to compliment the decor. Although they’re unscented, they’re still toxic. 🤫 Just don’t use these on a regular basis!

Now a days, soy candles are the rage and most everybody knows how they’re racked up to be so much healthier than the typical Yankee or Woodwick candles. But I’ve heard a few things that made me skeptical of even burning soy candles. I began to wonder if there’s any safe candles to burn! So I began researching a bit.

To be seriously safe, the best candles to burn would be simple beeswax candles. Beeswax is the oldest known material used for candles and one of the cleanest options. It’s natural, free of toxins, and provides a slow burn. They don’t hold scents as well as other waxes, so they’re typically unscented. Except for their original earthy, sweet aroma of honey. Since it’s natural wax, these are quite pricey.

I’ve tried a couple beeswax candles, but the price didn’t fit the quality, practicality, or satisfaction I anticipated. I love me a homey, cinnamon scent, tucked safely in a glass jar! Not a rolled up sheet of beeswax, sitting precariously on the table. You can get some in jars, but the ones I had tried were the rolled up type.

Now on to the soy candles. The most glaring issue with soy wax is that sometimes it doesn’t work on its own, and requires the addition of paraffin. This is better than pure paraffin but certainly has its issues. There are some companies, however, who use 100% pure soy wax, which is good. I’m not saying all soy candles are good or bad; just research them first to see if they are what they claim to be. Make sure it’s 100% soy. Not a blend of oils. I wouldn’t buy any old ‘soy’ candle without information about what the wax is actually made from. Also, are they scented with 100% pure essential oils or do they have ‘fragrance’ listed for their scent? I flee from the word fragrance at rapid speed because fragrance can literally mean any kind of fragrance! It does not insinuate natural or toxic free (especially watch for this in body products!)

A soy candle I’ve burned for many years has been the 1803 candles. This company uses 100% soy, not mixing with any oils or wax. They also have cotton wicks instead of lead as some candles do. Lead cores aren’t quite as prominent as they used to be but you still need to be careful. 1803 candles have a large selection of scents. These are produced with a blend of essential oils and synthetic fragrances. They use synthetic fragrance when essential oils aren’t available such as in Cheesecake, Cookie Dough, or the like. I simply stick with the ones that have essential oils and don’t buy those ‘off’ scents. Generally, use common sense when you’re thinking of scents! My favorite scents that I’ve gotten are Grated Cinnamon and Friendship. These are both cinnamon scented and smell very similar.

I like the 14 ounce wide mouth jars with a matte black lid, but they do have smaller jars available. Direct from the company, the 14 oz. candles are $23. You can check these out here! Some country/gift/antique type stores carry these as well.

1803 Friendship candle

My most recent and most favorite candles are the Welsh Mountain Candles. This company uses quality coconut or plam wax that does not emit residual toxins or chemicals in the air as they burn. The wicks are 100% cotton wicks without lead cores. Any coloring in their candles are natural, without poisonous dyes. However, all the candles I’ve gotten so far were white or off white. They’re scented with 100% pure essential oils, or a fragrance oil. This ‘fragrance oil’ made me instantly suspicious. I didn’t notice this at first. I bought one orchard peach scent, which obviously is not from an essential oil. While it smelled delicious like a fresh picked peach, I still don’t know exactly what all is under that ‘fragrance’ label. It didn’t give me an outright headache but kinda felt like it could head in that direction. I will stick with purchasing the essential oil scented ones after this, just to stay safe. They have them clearly marked on their website as to which are essential oil candles.

They have a wide variety of scents available, in tins or amber jars. The tins are 8 oz. for $11.99 or 16 oz. for $18.99. The amber jars are 9 oz. for $16.99 or 16 oz. for $23.99. They also carry black or white jars with bamboo lids, but these are more pricey. You can check out these candles here!

One scent I’ve tried and absolutely love is the cinnamon & clove! This one is essential oil scented. It smells very fragrant yet not overpowering like synthetic candles.

The amber jars are beautiful!

I’m by no means saying the candles I’ve mentioned are the only clean ones available. I’m sure there are more that I don’t know of. This is simply based off my experience and research, which, for an old-school girl like me, isn’t top of the line! 😉

Check out these candles and see if you can put a cleaner light in your window! 🕯

Live More With Less

Because it’s January, everyone is in the mood to get their house in order, right?! I know I’m a little late to be getting this out, but we’re not through the winter yet. Cheers to  decluttering and organizing! Did you know the easiest way to organize your stuff is to get rid of most of it? Yes, think about it. How much easier life would be if we didn’t have so much stuff?!

The American dream is to purchase all the things you need or want. Unfortunately, this thought pattern has permeated we as Anabaptists. But just because you have the money to buy something doesn’t mean it’s right to buy it. This quote by Elizabeth Elliot convicted me- Clutter is the evidence of discontent. We become discontent so we keep buying more things we really don’t need.  Soon, we have all this stuff that we don’t know what to do with.  Next, we need an attic or storage unit to store our excess clutter!

Hebrews 13:5 says,  Let your conversation be without covetousness;  and be content with such things as ye have.… 

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 We certainly have heaps more than food and raiment, so why do we struggle to be content??

So let’s talk about what minimalism is not.  You may think its stark, cold walls, no decor, or no comfortable living room furniture. I’m not talking about that. I don’t want my house to look like I moved in yesterday or like I’m moving out next week. I still endorse cozy, homey, and comfortable.

Following are several pointers about what I mean when I talk about minimalism. Most of this information is not original with me:

*Minimalism isn’t something trendy to be in style. It’s simplifying our houses and lives so we are better able to live calm, restful lives.

*Minimalism is not about the exact number of items we have.  It is working to eliminate as many distractions from our lives as possible so we can keep our focus on living in rest and calm, building healthy relationships, and focus on things that truly matter. 

*Our homes should be a “restful haven.” It’s living space, not storage space. 

*Minimalism will look different for each person and their home.

*With minimalism, we will need to consistently be aware and evaluate what is taking our time and space, as well as maintain our progress with daily habits.

*Minimalism is a journey, not a destination to arrive at. We constantly need to stay on top of the clutter that invariably creeps in.

My own journey to minimalism started in earnest around 8 months ago. I say in earnest, because I’ve always been somewhat minimalistic in that I’ve always prioritized staying on top of my house work, hated clutter, and was quick to get rid of things. But I enjoyed decor and had plenty of stuff sitting around and tucked away. Last spring, I began learning more about what it means to minimize.

I didn’t realize every item I own takes up brain space. Thus, the more you get rid of the more brain space you have. And who couldn’t use more of that?! It’s no wonder the sigh of relief we feel after dropping off a box or two at the Goodwill, or even taking out bags of trash that we had no clue were hiding out in our house!

I’m going to talk about 5 areas in my home where I have implemented minimalism.


*Clear off as much counter space as possible. I realize some kitchens are very limited with counter space and you may need to keep some appliances on top. But if you at all can, put away the mixer, the toaster, the utensil caddy, etc. I didn’t always keep my counters as clear as I do now, but I’ve learned to love the extra space and the clean look! I used to think I didn’t have space for my utensils to be in a drawer. But I kept minimizing, and eventually I realized I could condense a couple things and came up with a drawer for those utensils. Also, you don’t need every little kitchen gadget out there. Use items that can multitask!

* I urge you to go through your cupboards and be intentional in only keeping what you really need! If you think you don’t have enough cabinet space, you may be suprised at the amount of space you can create simply by moving out unused items. And don’t just do this one time. After a couple months, sort through again and reevaluate.  What could you do without? Ask yourself, do I really need 8 serving bowls, 3 or 4 crockpots, or all those miscellaneous utensils that hide out in the drawer and haven’t been used in a year?! Do you need a dozen Tupperware containers? I had a set of square Tupperware containers that were a wedding gift. I never really liked them because they didn’t stack well with my other containers. Finally last summer I realized I am allowed to get rid of them! I haven’t missed them and love the extra space. If you’re not sure about getting rid of something just yet, put it in a box with the date written on it. If you haven’t missed it in 3-6 months, you really don’t need it. For sure you don’t need it if you’ve not used it in the last year!

My kitchen

Granted, there are things such as canning/ gardening supplies or baby items and such that we haven’t used in a year or more. We use common sense with these type of items. Sentimental items that sit in storage year after year are another can of worms that I won’t get into. But yes, you are allowed to get rid of something that was your great grandma’s but doesn’t bring you any joy! 😉


Here I’m talking about our master bedroom.

* This is a room where I certainly do not allow clutter to pile up. Clear off that dresser. Keep only one or two small pieces of decor on it or something that’s very special to you. Don’t clutter the walls with picture frames or mottos. Maybe one or two. This really does bring a restful appearance to the room. Keep clothes picked up and the bed made. Sweep and dust it regularly. It’s a special haven of rest. We typically don’t allow the children to play in our bedroom.

*We got rid of our bed frame and have a minimalist type of frame. It doesn’t even require a box spring. You simply plop your mattress on top. We absolutely love it. It’s simple to move and there’s no deep dark dungeon under there full of storage containers and hid treasures.

With no headboard, we could rearrange our bedroom with the bed in front of the window. Otherwise we couldn’t move our bed around.
This is not ours but it’s what our bed frame looks like.


*Is it fun to clean a shower that’s lined full of shampoo and body wash? I don’t find it so. There’s no need to host a dozen products on those shower shelves! Throw away that bottle of shampoo everybody hates. There’s no need for two bottles of the same kind of body wash either. Condense and minimize as much as possible. You will be glad you did when you can scrub that shower in a whizz on Friday morning!

*Do you really use all of those 17 raggedy old towels? Or does everyone go for the 5 thick ones that actually work for drying? Keep only what your family really uses. In our master bathroom we have four towels and nine wash cloths. We reuse towels and I wash twice a week. We have enough but not excess. The company bathroom I obviously keep quite a bit more.

*What about the old toothpaste tubes or ancient creams of some sort hanging out in the back of the drawer? Those whitening strips that you once bought with great intentions only to discover it made your teeth sensitive. Throw it out! Stay on top of that bathroom clutter. Wipe down the sink and toilet every morning. Discipline yourself to put things away after you finish getting dressed and you will enjoy a cleaner space all day.


*How many clothes or dresses do we really need? A debatable subject to be sure! I like having enough socks and such that I’m not running low from one washing to the next, but I don’t keep a whole drawer full.  It’s too much unnecessary clutter. Get rid of those worn-out socks and don’t feel guilty. 

*As for dresses, this will also vary.  I hesitate to say a number because that doesn’t mean that’s how many you should have.  It’s what I’ve chosen for myself. I don’t keep dresses hanging in my closet that are worn, stained, or don’t fit. (I keep one old one for dirty work but it’s stuck away up on the shelf.) Get rid of things that are too tight or too loose. I’m not promoting wastefulness but there’s no virtue in keeping it if it’s only filling up closet space. Perhaps I’m not as minimal as I should be but I like variety and I also love sewing. I keep approximately 20ish dresses. (I’m feeling quite exposed here and this may not sound minimal to some of you.) I like about 8ish Sunday ones and plenty for everyday wear. It’s also nice to have plenty of good dresses for trips so that there’s no need to stress about washing every other day.  30-40  dresses is not what I would call minimal, but again, our numbers will vary, and there’s not a perfect number everyone will have!  Keep only dresses/clothes that you really love. It does take discipline to not always be sewing new dresses when one loves to sew and has fabric on hand. I’ve not always done well in this area, but I’m trying to do better.

*Sweaters are another one of my weaknesses. I’m sure I could simplify a little more in this area, but I love color coordinating and variety, so I tend to have plenty. I have short sleeve sweaters I wear in the summer and other cozy, long sleeved ones for winter.  I don’t think you have to get rid of it if you still love it and want to wear it again next season. But if you’ve not worn it in a year, pass it on!  The same idea applies to footwear of which most ladies love! We don’t need 20 pairs of shoes/ boots!


*In the past I’ve wished we had an extra room to use as a playroom but I dont mind that anymore. This is my opinion: How will you teach your children contentment when they have a room filled with toys of all manner, toy furniture, and beeping/talking gadgets?

*We have a few toys in the basement, but on our main living area, we keep one medium size basket for toys.  Right now it’s mostly boy toys for Reece. We also have a narrow tote with a few puzzles and blocks in it but it’s up on a closet shelf and we don’t have it out on a regular basis. This helps to keep these things more special. Josie has a few dolls and things in her bedroom downstairs. But only having one basket makes clean up time quite doable. Children get overwhelmed (not to mention mom and dad) if the whole room is littered with toys, game pieces, Legos, and the whole 9 yards. And just a note, if you have a large family, I won’t expect you to only have one basket of toys like we do.

*Minimize your toys! Having an abundance by no means signals happiness. If you have way too many, get rid of half of them. Just see if your children don’t play better next time. Periodically go through the toy box and pitch any broken or silly pieces that aren’t worth keeping. Throw out those games that don’t have all the pieces anymore.  We had an overload of tiny animals. I got so tired of Reece dumping out the whole toy basket, and then we had all these tiny pieces to pick up. One evening I scooped them all up and hid them on a high shelf.  He never missed them and I’ve not regretted it.

*We don’t have battery operated toys in our home. (We’ve had a few here and there but as a whole we don’t keep them around if they’re given a talking teddy bear etc.)  They don’t need play computers to teach them colors and numbers either. How did our grandparents learn their numbers?! It teaches much more creativity when they aren’t exposed to those kinds of toys.  They’ll create their own sounds, whether that’s crowing roosters, roaring lions, tractors, or crying babies. They’ll learn colors and numbers in due time. I love watching creativity come out on their own! We also encourage our children to play outdoors and it’s interesting to see the things they come up with! Of course they also have outdoor toys not mentioned here.

*As for children’s treasures, crafts, or anything they want to keep, use the container concept. Keep a smallish tote for each child for their treasures. When it gets full, they’ll need to go through and dispose of some things in order to make room for more.  The tote is the limit. They don’t need to keep every school book and paper. Perhaps one book from each grade. Often an old art project loses its glamor after its been stored awhile and they won’t mind pitching it. This tote might not be needful until closer to school age. So far Reece doesn’t have one but Josie does.

*Besides their treasure tote, I also have a large tote in storage for both the children to keep things like birthday cards, special blankets, or other keepsakes. This is to last them until they’re adults and leave home.

Other Tips: Reset your house to zero every day. And this simply means tidying up and putting everything back in it’s place. Don’t let clutter pile up to ominous heights. This makes it very depressing and severs hope of ever getting your house under control. People think tidy people are working all the time to keep a neat house. But it’s quite the opposite. Once you stay on top of your house, it’s much easier to maintain! And messy housekeepers are the ones always working. Example:  It’s time for supper but the counters and table are littered with the day’s activities. Instead of starting supper, they first need to clear that off. And who even feels like cooking when there’s a grand disarray and the dishes are stacked yay high?! But when you spend a little time clearing away the lunch mess, and put things away as you use them, you’ll already have a clean space to start supper!

*It takes much discipline to stick with the habits of resetting the house on a daily basis. Make it a habit to wash your dishes after every meal and wipe the counters. This is much easier to do when they’re not filled with clutter. And remember, if you stay after it, it doesn’t take long. Before you go to bed, straighten the couch pillows, put away the magazines, and have your children pick up toys. It feels absolutely amazing to wake up to an orderly house in the morning! I don’t get it perfect every day but this is what I strive for.

*Clutter breeds clutter. If you come home and drop the mail and receipts on the corner counter, you can be sure it won’t be long until more stuff gathers there. Anything simply fits in in that type of congregation!

Something I’ve purged hard on is my decor. I really enjoyed it in the past but as I’ve gotten rid of things, I don’t even miss it. I had a big garage sale last summer that had me amazed at where I had all this stuff in my house! I had lots of other stuff too like dishes, bags, clothes, and toys.

My garage sale

My house is not near as full and busy as it used to be. I find it so refreshing! I’ve also taken alot off my walls. I’ve found the more I purge, the more aware I become of unnecessary items. Don’t get me wrong, I still have decor. But it’s much less than I used to. Things that looked fine to me a year or two ago would now bug me because it’s too full for my liking. A plain wall now looks restful instead of empty.

I used to enjoy shopping but anymore, I’m walking the aisles and saying to myself, I really don’t need that. Where would I put it? I’ve started minimizing going to thrift stores and garage sales too, although I still like these places for buying children’s clothes.

Here’s a few wins that I know my children are catching on to minimizing too! Tuesday Reece told me, I want to get rid of my dresser. It’s too cluttered. I want to get a tiny dresser. Josie was recently given two porcelain dolls that came from an old grandma in the nursing home. She played with one awhile and I mentioned that they’re hardly practical to really play with, but told her the descion is hers. By that evening she said she didn’t want them. On her own, she was ready to get rid of them! Yay!

Recently we moved the China hutch from the kitchen into my office, because I wanted to open up the living room by moving a storage cabinet out of there to where the hutch was. Now Josie informed me a couple times it’s too cluttered with that hutch in my office! I agree, but I don’t have any other option at this point. At least this way I don’t have to look at it all the time like it did in my kitchen! And I was desperate to open up the living room. It’s small to start with but our arrangement made it feel extra small.

The “opened up” living room. I don’t have anything on the wall on either side of the white storage cabinet. This, by the way, stores the CD player, basket of toys, children’s books and more.
This is the best I could do of a “before” picture with my hutch in the kitchen and the living room in the background.

Don’t think I have arrived at minimalism. To some, my house is not minimal. But I’m ok with it. There’s still areas in my house that I  want to sort through as I find time. Remember it’s a continual journey that we have to keep working towards because clutter will creep in if we aren’t intentional.

It can feel overwhelming at first. Work at one closet or drawer at a time. Give yourself grace. This clutter didn’t appear in one week and it won’t disappear in a week either! Celebrate the little successes. Can’t you just breathe deeper now when you open that  organized drawer? How good it feels to enter your clean kitchen as you start your day!

Holiday Rambles

It’s that odd week of the year where everyone is in vacation mode. Children are off school, there’s traveling to see family, Christmas get togethers still going on, New Year’s parties in the planning, reflections on 2022, and aspirations for 2023. There’s so much effort put into all of the goings-on that, ironically, it makes one busy trying to relax! 

We traveled to Daviess Co IN. to visit Jerald’s folks for Christmas weekend.  We got in on an enchanting snow fall Monday morning. The children had make shift sled rides with their cousin, via a snow shovel, for lack of sleds.

Christmas Lunch with Jerald’s family.  We missed Kaylene, who is serving at a small mission in western Ukraine.

Monday evening we enjoyed a supper with Jerald’s Schrock cousins and Uncles/Aunts. Many of his cousins are married with young families which contributes to noisy and interesting gatherings. But honestly, the big cousins emit a fair share of raucous sounds too!

Schrock’s Christmas supper at Eagle Crest Lodge

Many discussions and calories later, we returned to our favorite home Tuesday evening. It is good for one’s soul to reconnect with family and old friends but ahh, it is very good for this soul to unpack suitcases, stow the leftovers, and begin the humble job of laundry. East or West home is Best!

I dreamed of sleeping in, leisure breakfasts and relaxed time at home for a few days before the school schedule resumes next week. I also dreamed Jerald might even find time to paint the bathroom. But he’s not in vacation mode like I am. Yet another dream is that I can gather up buckets of patience and bake the traditional cutout cookies with my children. Reality is; a head cold with a stuffed nose, zero energy, and little sleep. You can’t sleep in when you can’t sleep so there goes that dream. My plugged nose is a contributing factor but I’ve also got a history of insomnia, which is why I roam the house at all hours of the night. At 3 AM I heated a pan of water and dropped in Breathe and Eucalyptus essential oils. Draping a towel over me, I propped my elbows and steamed my head. I felt like a hoodlum. My nose remained plugged. Next time I’ll steam the cabbage head instead of mine.

As for the cookies, we attempted those this afternoon. I tried a new recipe using a gluten free flour mix. (Read the whole post and you will understand why gluten free) They were more sticky and tricky to work with but I had no time limit and decided to not care what they looked like. I had Josie and Reece take turns with the cutters. When we were ready to decorate the cookies, I frosted them and let the children each decorate as they pleased. Putting them on cookie sheets catch alot of sprinkles, by the way! Now we have cookies in the freezer, we made memories and Mom stayed much more calm than sometimes, thank God. Yay for one dream accomplished!

Holidays are good in moderation, but I am not too sad about having them over for another year.  Let’s get the fridge emptied of chocolates and snacky foods and bring on the veggies. Its fun to eat all the cookies and candies and not worry about it. But there comes a time when worry creeps in right behind the consequences of unhealthy eating and I’m just sick of it. Armed with a large helping of fresh courage, I’m ready to embrace strong discipline and healthy eating once again!

I also despise the shopping craze to be endured whenever you make a run to town in December. I wish people knew that gifts/ things do not equal lasting happiness. In fact,  piles of stuff often leads to overwhelming clutter and depression.  I wish people focused on Jesus being the real reason for Christmas. Not Santa, trees, and gifts. Most of all I wish more people knew the peace of Jesus and sins forgiven.

This year instead of giving gifts, Jerald’s family decided to give money to help a need in Ukraine. Its a good feeling to know we can help out a little and another good thing was, we had less things to bring back home than usual!

My heart also goes out to those who have lost loved ones this year and are missing them this season. It doesn’t seem fair that others can go on with their usual festivities while they huddle in grief. It appears people try hard to make everything feel perfect for the Christmas season with extravagant decorating, sparkly lights, gifts, and food. But things are not perfect. There’s still hurting and grieving people around us. Only Jesus can bring perfect peace and comfort to those in distress. But since we are the hands and feet of Jesus, be Jesus to someone today by showing compassion and love! ❤️

How many others have  fresh courage to lose weight in a fresh new year? I have been off  my usual diet plan for about 6 weeks. I can tell I’ve gained weight and I’m so ready to get back on track. My walking has also fell in the ditch these past weeks. But my hubby inspired me with his health related New Years goals; He said he’s going completely gluten free and walking 1 mile a day. I smirked a little, but he claims he can do whatever he decides to do!! Perhaps I should have laughed loud and long so he doesn’t lose his willpower in the heat of Summer. 

Last year we had a goal to implement thanksgiving into our daily lives in a tangible way.  Each evening before prayer at our Supper table, we take turns saying something we’re grateful for. It has become a good habit we plan to continue. We endeavor taking turns but there’s often a 3 year old chiming his thanks in a loud voice regardless if another is already speaking. His willing spirit blesses me, but still we must teach politeness.  Some days thanks comes harder than others and I may say “I’m thankful for water”.  The children too, began relying on things within eye sight if their thankful list was waning . Then we’d hear things like “potatoes” “chicken” or some other food on the table.  So we made a rule that you can’t mention anything that’s on the table. We’ve got so much to be thankful for, surely we can be more creative!

I bought a larger planner for 2023 than what I normally use. I’ve already transferred events/ notes and filled it in as much as possible.  I’m super excited to use it for several reasons;  1) It’s new and has a pretty cover. (I don’t care if that’s a lame reason, it’s true.)  2) It has much more space for jotting tasks. I want to write in those daily little jobs that I normally didn’t write down, such as, make bed, wash breakfast dishes, sweep floor, walk, etc.  In this way,  I hope it helps me realize I get more done than what it sometimes looked like judging by my planner in the past.  I find it so irritating to be working all morning then I look to see what I  can cross off and lo behold! I haven’t even begun the day’s project!  3) It has a ‘priorities’ section for every week.  Hopefully that will help me be OK with it if I don’t get much more accomplished than the most necessary things for that week.  4) It has enough space I can easily jot down the day’s menu. (Not that this always got done in the past. My other planner actually had a designated spot for the menu.) But I’ve already made notes in my planner for the next several months, reminding me to plan the next month’s menu! I wish I was more diligent in abiding by menus. I fall off track so many times, but I always feel virtuous if I put proper, thought out meals on the table, rather than last minute scrambles.

If you’ve never used a planner I would highly encourage you to try one out. You can buy a cheapie at the dollar store if your afraid of wasting money. Not only will it save you brain space by keeping your events and appointments in place, it’s also valuable to have a place for brain dumping. Any ideas you want to implement or projects you’d like to accomplish or even a recipe to try; write it down. You are much more likely to get it done if you write it down!

A Happy, Healthy New Year to you and yours! 

Breakfast Bites

First up will be an old, simple recipe. I never heard of it until I became aquainted with my husband’s family. Now It’s my family’s favorite breakfast! I make it nearly every Sunday morning. But it can certainly be served for supper too. I fall back on this when it’s one of those disorganized days when supper ideas elude me. It takes basic ingredients and little skill.

Dutch Babies

Turn oven to 410*. Put 1/4 C. butter in a 9 x 13 pan and set in oven to melt.

By the way, the nuts in the picture have nothing to do with the recipe.

In a bowl whisk together 1 1/2 C. flour and 1 1/2 C. milk. Whisk briskly, then let set a minute or two. Lastly whisk in 5-7 eggs. Pour into pan with butter and bake for 20-25 minutes. It will rise up looking proud and mountainous, but it’s only humble fare. Serve immediately with maple syrup. It deflates quickly once its out of its hot environment so be prepared to dig in promptly!

This original recipe is found in The Farmhouse Cookbook but I don’t follow it 100%. For one, this recipe is not as touchy as it sounds like in the book. I have it written in my version and taped inside my cabinet door. I don’t use as much butter as it calls for. If I have plenty eggs on hand I’ll throw in extra. If not, 4-5 eggs is fine. The reason to let the milk and flour sit a bit is to help dissolve the flour completely. It works best to add the eggs after those two ingredients are well combined. And I most certainly do not use the blender as it says to. That would be entirely too raucous for early mornings! Besides, who enjoys washing a blender? Not I!

These cranberry muffins are simple to make and look so festive! I like that it’s a yummy holiday treat off the beaten path of the ordinary peanut butter/chocolate/peppermint recipes floating around this time of year. I whipped up a batch today to have on hand for my weekend company.

Cranberry Muffins

3 c. sugar

3/4 c. vegetable or coconut oil (melted)

3 eggs

2 1/4 c. orange juice

6 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 T. salt

4 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 12oz. bag fresh cranberries, chopped

Beat together sugar, oil and eggs. Add orange juice alternately with dry ingredients. Fold in cranberries. Fill muffins about 3/4 full and bake at 350* for about 18 minutes. Used with permission from Stutzman’s Culinary Secrets.

This is supposed to be made into 3 loaves but I like the muffins for cuteness and serving ease. I used melted coconut oil rather than vegetable oil. As I typed the recipe I noticed the baking powder and realized I never added it today! So now you know that they bake just fine with only the baking soda! 😅 I also poured in the juice then immediately recognized I hadn’t heeded directions about alternately. I proceeded to dump in the dry ingredients and it was all good! You’ll need to tell me the rules you break when you try them.

If your in the mood for more cranberry/ holiday fare, check out these recipes. Or this caramel popcorn.

Sacrifice Or Reasonable Service?

There’s been much mulling in my mind of how I will handle the very busy holiday season that’s almost upon us. I’m talking about church events and responsibilities/ committees we’re on etc. These things are out of my control.  How can I be serving cheerfully without becoming stressed when it feels like life really is too busy? How can I enjoy the moments instead of focusing so much on what needs done that I miss out on the special events, even when I’m present?

Every Friday night or weekend for the next 5 weeks, we have things going on that were distinctly involved in and/or responsible for.  Each event is clearly mapped out in my mental and physical calender. A trip, a variety of church/school functions, and a local wedding which means hosting and more. Besides this, I also happen to be on to clean church, be Sunday host and teach the ladies Sunday School class one Sunday in the next month to 6 weeks.  Facing it with dread because I’m unsure how I’ll handle everything, isn’t the best route, but it’s the most natural for me. (Praying about it comes naturally too, just sayin’.)  Any more prayers for survival are welcome. Jerald reminds me these are all opportunities to serve Jesus and I heartily agree.  A willing spirit, ready to serve is super important in church life. If we don’t possess that spirit, it tells things about our heart. I think my heart is willing, but the Bible also says the heart is deceitful. (Jeremiah 17:9) I should probably do a heart check. (Psalms 139:23 & 24)

I do love to serve Jesus but I wish these shindings and responsibilities weren’t arranged in one big splat. I wish it was more spread out and it wasn’t at such a busy season. What am I indicating by this wish?  Do I like to serve Jesus at my convenience?? That doesn’t sound like the Bible I read where it speaks about sacrifice and self denial. Sometimes we’d like to congratulate ourselves for the multitude of sacrifices were making in all our serving. But that goes kersplat when you read Romans 12:1 where it speaks of presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice which is your reasonable service. We’re only doing what we’re called to do. We can never sacrifice enough to repay the sacrifice Christ made for us. Debtors indeed! Am I living like I’m grateful for His sacrifice?!

Its true. The Christian life isn’t about serving at our convenience. Yet at the same time,  how do we balance church related functions which, indeed make us busy, combined with our own family/personal needs? I become irritated that life has to be so busy.  I’ve felt it before this time of year. It annoys me that the beautiful Thanksgiving/Christmas season is dotted with so many activities that I’m nearly left panting. What’s a person to do? You can’t cut out church events like the Thanksgiving or Christmas supper, the youth functions, the school Christmas program, the caroling. You can cut out things like shopping for gifts, but that’s not a project on my agenda.

How do we keep from becoming overworked and underslept? Some of us women are more apt to feel overwhelm than others. Are you feeling like me? There’s times I wish I could just run away and hide until its over. Kinda like Elijah who was depressed with life and asked God to let him die and the Lord said “no, I still have work for you to do.” (1 Kings 19)

I wonder, Is God testing me to see how I respond? I’ve been praying that He would heal me and He has been. There’s no way I could have handled everything I have going now, a year ago. Is He putting me to the test now, to see if I’m willing to serve Him even if it makes me extra busy? The quote ”busy is blessed” is so true.  I’m blessed to be involved in a good church!  I’m blessed to have health to serve!  What if I suddenly broke my leg and would be laid up for the next 6 weeks? Beyond a doubt I would repent in dust and ashes immediately or sooner.  How much rather I’d be up busy and serving, than to be laid up needing to be served!

So how do we find balance? Here’s a few points I came up with but it’s not a conclusive list. I’d be happy to hear yours!

☆ Be diligent in Bible reading. We have many responsibilities, but it’s also our personal responsibility to maintain daily efforts to stay engaged in our walk with God. If I’m losing my connection with God because these other activities (which are good and right!) are so involving and stressful, then I have erred.

☆ Spend time in prayer. If I’m only praying on the run instead of on my knees, I’m missing out. Praying on the run is fine and I do it all the time but I still need that solo time in dedicated prayer.

☆ Ask God each morning for wisdom to know exactly what’s necessary to do and what I can cut out. This can be very hard to discern.

☆ Ask God to fill my heart with peace instead of the ruffled feelings of stress.

☆ Ask God to help me be grateful and serve with joy. Maybe there’s more of my attitude that hinges on ungratefulness than I realize.

☆Be intentional with limiting my own projects at home, so that I’m able to give where God has asked me.

Examples. Maybe I can’t clean that space that’s bugging me. Or sew that dress for the Christmas supper. Maybe I’ll have to give up baking sourdough bread right now.  I can’t plan my own days so full and expect to still serve elsewhere with a heart of love. If I’m low on sleep and high on stress, its nearly certain I’ll inadvertently pull on the coat of martyerdom. I’ll feel picked on and be huffing and puffing about why I have to work so hard and why we have to be helping with this and on and on I’ll stumble down Complaining street. (Psalms 144:14) And I completely miss the opportunity for joy in serving. 

☆ Before the events, ask God to help me be fully engaged in, and enjoy the moments of serving. Not just plowing through with a survival attitude.

Here’s a poem about Elijah that I wrote many years ago. Can you relate?

Under The Juniper Tree

How often are we like Elijah of old? We’re tired of life and the duties we hold

So we find ourselves a “Juniper tree”- From cares of this life we ask to be free.

The Lord may answer and grant our request, But He wants us to grow by passing the test

The Lord may speak with something quite great, Or sometimes He’ll answer, “for now you just wait.

In a still small voice He often will speak, To find that Voice we must diligently seek,

So listen real close what He has for you,  Arise and work with strength anew!

♥️ Wishing you Christ’s Peace and Joy in serving this Holiday Season. It is only our reasonable service.

An Intro And Welcome

A hearty hello to you my faithful readers and an extra howdy to all the new ones!! I’m happy to gird up my loins and write again. Praise God I’m feeling better than I did a couple months ago and heaps better than a year ago! My mental capacity is more stable, though still prone to sink below sea level if my ship is over loaded. But I’m blessed for the healing God has given!

I’ve had a stack of new subscribers in the last months since I took a break from writing. How they happened to come while I was on strike I’d like to know, so if you want to tell me who you are I’d be pleased to hear from you. And thank you for being here!

In light of that, I thought I would reintroduce myself… No, my name and height hasn’t changed and I’m not in the habit of sharing my weight. (Sorry if you were getting your hopes up.) If you want to know where in the world we live read my home page.

Quirks to describe me:

I love healthy food but not the effort it takes for those meals to appear on my table.

I love naps but not the time it takes out of my day. Most days it’s a ‘have to’ thing.  Some days I’m able to plow through without one which always feels like a great time saver. But then I drop in bed rather early so I don’t know which saves more time.

I love to declutter, organize, or decorate my house. Frequently I find myself caught in any of those without previous intentions.

I find it hard to make conversations with new  people or those you bout half know, but not enough to dive into heart stirring conversations. In my head I’m trying to think of what to say but as soon as anything comes out it sounds awkward. Sometimes the conversation goes better thanks to the other person’s contributions. Then I relax and enjoy visiting. I come away pleased with myself for being involved in good discussion with a perfect stranger.

I’m a task oriented person who loves to cross things off the list and it takes discipline to stop working. But no matter how fast or hard I work, the house never stays free of crumbs, dust, and detached hair. Nor do meals drop onto the table through the ceiling. Or clean laundry glide into the drawers. And so I keep working, hoping to- no, make that wishing to, someday reach the end of my mental ‘to do’ list. Maybe when I’m 89. 🤞

Now some words about my family. I don’t like bragging but neither do I want to bring up their faults. I’ll try to provide average information.

My good man Jerald is covered up being salesman and secretary for the local Mid-America Structures. (He switched from being a BigIron Sales Rep last winter.) He manages their dealer network plus has a couple lots where he sells sheds himself. He’s often meeting customers who want to look at or buy sheds. Him and I endeavor to make a weekly appointment with each other to nurture our relationship. Tuesday night is date night. It generally consists of early bedtime for the children so we can visit uninterrupted. I applaud him for being good at protecting our evening. These nights will get trampled quite easy in the roar of life, if not protected.

Reece is 3 and plays all boy- Its tractors, combines, boards, and tools. He doesn’t give slack for quietness aside from sleeping, for he is in the question stage of life. My most used answer is “I don’t know”. You would think a Mom in her 30s would know a few things but the amount of times I say “I dont know” in a day’s time is alarming. His questions are simple such as “who’s vehicle is that?” (Parked beside the road) “What’s that man doing?” (A random walking stranger) But how am I to know these answers? He digs out the bathroom scale to “check my feet” he says. (I wish feet were the only thing for me to check when I stand on it.) We rejoice he’s F I N A L L Y potty trained! I despaired the child would ever learn. We persevered, prayed about it, and had him pray about it and eventually he learned. Indeed, we praise God!

Josie is in a growth spurt. She requires extra food and lots of sleep.  At 7 years old she’s a social bug like her Daddy and school is her world! Saturdays are dreaded because it means a day at home. Often her first questions as soon as she’s home from school are: “Can I have a snack” and “what are we having for supper?” In this case an “I don’t know” is hardly acceptable even if it’s occasionally true. She’s matured to sleeping in her own basement bedroom and wakes with her alarm clock.  She enjoys reading in bed at night or when she wakes before her alarm. I’m grateful for the good collection of story books from back when I taught school or that her Dad had growing up. She polished off the Laura Ingalls series in surprisingly rapid succession.

And here’s a Summer family photo

Tell me, what makes you unique?

You can reach out to me at, I would love to hear from you!

Guest Post- The Magic Of Sourdough

This post is written by my friend Valerie Miller. We’ve been besties for years and both find healthy living intriguing and necessary. Though miles apart, we still often chat a couple times a week.  A year ago she graciously sent me sourdough starter by mail. Since then my family and I happily devour sourdough bread on a regular basis. If you’ve not yet given it a try, there’s no better time than now to delight your taste buds and digestive system!

Sourdough: the rage in many a kitchen across the world. Although sourdough is a hot topic, and a popular trend these days, it’s a trend I’m very happy to subscribe to, so much so that my sourdough starter has taken the status of a pet, and making yummy, nourishing sourdough goodies has become a hobby.

Bread is Biblical! Its interesting to take note of the way bread was a staple, and necessary for physical survival in Bible times. Of course, most special of all is the fact that Jesus proclaims himself as the Bread of Life, in a spiritual sense.  Sourdough is believed to originate in ancient Egypt and remained the main method of leavening bread until bakers yeast replaced it a couple hundred years ago. In recent years, bread has become a villain because so many people have difficulty digesting it. And rightfully so. The bread you find on the grocery store shelf has been made with less than stellar grains, added preservatives, artificial flavors, and synthetic vitamins!

Sourdough bread can be made with 3 simple ingredients: flour, salt, and water. How incredible! I’d love to meet the person who discovered the magic of sourdough! 
Sourdough starter contains a mixture of lactic acid and wild yeast. During the fermentation process, these beneficial bacteria partially break down and “predigest” the starch and gluten proteins found in grains. Sourdough is not gluten free, but because of this process that has taken place, many people with a gluten sensitivity can enjoy sourdough bread. This process also puts sourdough bread lower on the glycemic index. In other words, it doesn’t spike your blood sugar like yeast bread does.

Baking with sourdough isn’t hard! I’ll admit, I was intimidated by it at first. I thought it was a finicky thing that would produce only nice bread for the professionals. And I’m not a professional, so I anticipated ugly, flat bread! It’s true that I’ve had my share of flops, but those aren’t the norm. And flops are the perfect opportunity for the yummiest French toast!

Get a starter from a friend. You can also make your own starter, but its much easier to start out with an established starter. To feed your starter, you will want to feed with equal amounts of starter to flour and a little less water. It’s important to use unbleached flour, and non chlorinated water to feed your starter. My favorite flour to use  is King Arthur bread flour. It yields a robust, bubbly starter. Starter stored on the counter at room temperature needs to be fed once a day to keep it alive. Here’s the good part (and what I do): you can store your starter in the fridge if you’d like, and feed it only once a week. When you’re ready to use your starter for baking, take it out of the fridge, feed it, and after several hours, it’ll be ready to use. 
Before attempting to make bread, you’ll want to take note of how active and mature your starter is. A good rule of thumb is that it must double in 5 hours to be strong enough for a good rise in bread. The day before making your bread, feed it 3 times, morning, noon, and evening. It will be ready to go the next morning. For the recipe below, I start out with ¼ cup starter, feed it ¼ cup flour, and a little water. By noon, I have a ½ cup of starter to feed with ½ cup flour, and water. Before bedtime, its grown to 1 C, which I feed 1 cup flour, and water. The next morning you’ll have 2 cups starter, the perfect amount for your bread! (Be sure to save out a tablespoon or 2 of starter to set back and feed for the next time!)

Sourdough Sandwich Bread
2 C fed sourdough starter
1 ½ C water
2 T honey
2 T melted butter, or oil
Mix all together in your mixer bowl. 
5 Cups bread flour
Mix for 3-4 minutes
Turn the mixer off and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
Add 2 ½ tsp salt, and mix/kneed for 10 minutes
Remove the dough from the mixer, put it into a dish, and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Let it rise till double, approximately 3 hours. Punch the dough down, divide and shape into 2 loaves. Put the dough into well-greased bread pans, prick with a fork, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise till double. (Approximately 3 hours)
Bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Butter the tops and let the loaves rest in the pans till partially cool. This will help keep the loaves soft and prevent the bottom from getting crusty.

Sourdough pancakes
2 C fed sourdough starter
2 eggs
1/4 C melted butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Mix the starter, eggs,butter and salt. Add the baking powder and soda and mix just until incorporated. Fry pancakes in lots of butter!

If you’re interested in making artisan sourdough bread, this is my favorite recipe. I do prefer a different baking time, 30 minutes covered and 5 minutes uncovered.

I enjoy selling sourdough goodies at a local Farmer’s Market

I’m Valerie Miller, wife of David and mama to Austin, Felicity, and Eric. We reside in Athens, TN. As a busy mom, with a side of homeschooling, I don’t find much time for hobbies these days. Healthy living/eating, of which sourdough is a large part, has become my “hobby”, and it’s so satisfying to know I’m fueling my family with nourishing food! You can contact me at

Gardens And Greenbeans

Mary Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Well, the picture  shows the answer for ours. There’s little produce found amidst the weeds. Jerald is the gardener around here and I help him sometimes with mulching or such. But this year something went koo koo to a greater extent than normal.  It’s an overall flop of about 90%. I wouldn’t be suprised at all if this was the norm if the garden was my responsibility. (Actually, there wouldn’t be a garden if I had to do it- I’d patronize Farmers Markets.) Because of bad experiences like this year, gardens depress me. And some people say gardens are therapy?! Life. Growth. They feel so close to nature.  I see weeds, bugs, probable death of plants and imaginative snakes. I feel close to dirt.  Occasionally there’s actual food to eat.

The poor green beans produced a couple pans of beans instead of buckets like usual. We ate corn once and decided we can buy corn on the cob that’s much better, so we never tried it again.  The cucumbers gave a measly crop of 3 or 4 tiny ones that were actually eatable. The melons look promising but the coons have been feasting on them well before their time, so we have yet to see if we’ll get to enjoy any.  The tomatoes finally started ripening last week.  (Way behind times I know, but I’m just grateful to even be getting any!) But that could change too.  It’s either feast or famine on zucchini and this year we hit famine. Not only did the zucchini perish but the summer squash died right along with it. I’m holding my breath for this volunteer summer squash at the edge of the garden. Don’t ask me how it got there.  Just maybe I’ll get a few to eat fresh?! That off colored leaf there worries me.

As far as I know we have a good crop of potatoes because we haven’t dug them yet.  The sweet potatoes look green and viney so I have my hopes up about them too.

If you have a good crop of green beans and want a slick way to can them, try out oven canning! Here’s how I did mine last summer.

Fill quart jars with your clean and snapped beans. Add: 1 teaspoon salt and 1 Tablespoon lemon juice. Bottled is fine.  Fill about half full with water, wipe rims and screw on lids and rings.

Place cookie or bread racks in the oven on top of your oven racks. This gives stability to the jars. Do not place jars on a baking sheet! The jars will need even heat circulating  throughout. 

Fill your oven with jars. Turn to 270*. Begin timing after oven has preheated. Bake for 3 hours. Turn oven off and let the jars inside until they’re mostly cooled. I like to do it in the evening then I can turn the oven off at bedtime and by morning the jars are cool enough to remove. (They may still be warm but will be sealed)

This method can be used for pints but reduce the baking time to 2 ¹/² hours.

I love the simplicity of oven canning!  No need to run that pressure cooker all day long,  getting only 7 quarts canned at a time. You can chuck your oven full of jars and have them all done in one whack! And no pressure to keep you on edge either!

For more oven canning recipes read here.

May you feel blessed that your garden is hardly as bad as mine and if it is, know your not alone! 

I’m not a gardener, so my  flowers should be admired. Only one germanium has died so far! 😜 And we love our front porch at day’s end.

On a different note, I will be taking a break from writing for some time.  Because of my mental health the last two months, we are trying to cut out any possible stress factors. I enjoy writing and don’t like to count it as a stressor, but my hubby thinks otherwise.

I do have a guest post coming in the next month, so will still be posting that. 

Thank you for reading and understanding!