These Are a Few of MY Favorite Things!

I like to browse after I finish my necessary shopping whether at the grocery store or any other store. I don’t buy everything I see, but when I find something that works for my hobbies, my health, or my comfort, I’m willing to indulge. So, thought I’d share a few of my current favorite things.

We are gluten-free at our house because of my husband’s intolerance to wheat products. It took us years to discover the problem so never going to change that aspect of our life. If any of you are gluten-free, I’m willing to bet one of the things you miss the most is any kind of bread product. Yes, you can bake a sort of, not really, reasonable facsimile but it is never quite as satisfying as the real deal. I was an avid bread baker until we had to change the family diet around. You CAN produce a reasonable bread-like outcome on a gluten-free diet but the texture of the dough and the process is different.

I was cruising the Internet a few weeks ago and discovered Authentic Foods – Steve’s Gluten-Free Bread Flour. It promised great things and I purchased some with not too much hope. Bingo! First loaf of bread was amazing with the right texture and a wonderful yeast rise. I currently have a 25-pound bag of the stuff in my former wheat flour storage container! Definitely, number one on my discoveries of late.

Here is an odd, new favorite – Hemp hearts! I saw this at Costco and was intrigued. It has a lot of vitamins including three grams of fiber per serving. Supposedly, it claimed to taste good, too. And, it does! It now gets sprinkled on salads, blended in smoothies, and even enjoyed by the spoonful. I gave one of my sons a bag for his apartment living and his three roommates enjoy it, too. Great for those between-meal hunger pains.

Dry weather and being a constant knitter, crocheter, seamstress is very hard on my hands. I am seldom without chapped hands and split fingers. Buy stock in Liquid Bandage as I keep two bottles in the house constantly. Discovered O’Keeffe’s Skin Repair 48-hour lotion. It stated it was guaranteed to relieve extremely dry and itchy skin. I was desperate. I used it at bedtime and the next morning there was noticeable improvement. Found it at Walmart.

In the realm of gluten-free again, two other flour blends are good additions to my baking/cooking efforts in the kitchen: BetterBatter and Pamela’s All-Purpose Gluten-Free Artisan Flour (Dairy-free, too!) are now staples in my cupboard. BetterBatter has a multitude of recipes on their Internet site for inspiration. Pamela’s is cup for cup for using in formerly favorite regular recipes and especially nice for baking cookies. Again, you can find recipes on-line and try some of your own favorites from the gluten day. I usually buy my flour blends on-line as it is less expensive than health store prices.

My addiction to yarn and crocheting/knitting was satisfied recently. I love making projects with varicolored yarn but couldn’t find exactly the mix of colors that pleased me in the usual offerings. Several months ago, I was looking at the yarn aisle and there was something new! It was a yarn that was soft, came in a larger amount than others for a good price and . . . it was variegated in the most interesting color combinations. I liked the whimsical names of the various choices, too. I recently completed a blanket for one daughter in the color blend ‘Gnome’. It was a wild assortment of vivid almost neon colors with enough somber ones to create a nice result. I’m now working on a blanket for my older son’s birthday and it is called ‘Sphinx’ which is a manly (can we still use the word manly in this day and age?) combination of brown and blue tones. The really nice thing about this yarn is that each skein has a lot more yardage than other brands which makes the under $5.00 a skein actually a bit of a bargain. Right now, Walmart is the only store selling this yarn. It is called Mandala and produced by Lion Brand Yarns.

End of sharing time. Laundry calls and I still haven’t invented dinner for this evening! Would rather be crocheting but them’s the breaks!

Last-Minute Baking Suggestions

The clock is definitely ticking down to Christmas. It really seems to sneak up on a person the last week when you realize that you do NOT have another week to shop, you do NOT have another week to buy groceries, and you do NOT have some great Christmas cookies stocked away in the cupboards and freezer. There is also the concern for people who have to avoid gluten. It wasn’t stated in my marriage vows, but after thirty-plus years of marriage, I seem to have acquired a husband who is very sensitive to gluten.

Around Christmas time, Christmas cookies  would make life sad for my husband until I discovered ‘flour’ blends that can turn out rather great cookies and still be safe for him to eat.

My latest discovery is Pamela’s All Purpose Flour, Gluten-Free Artisan Blend, Non-Dairy. It doesn’t work well for yeast-raised goodies but some people think it makes better cookies than wheat flour. It is pretty much cup to cup for measurements so you can use some of your old favorites still. I found the best deal on Amazon.com.

BetterBatter is a standby in my cupboard for making quick biscuits, egg noodles, tortillas and such. Their computer site has a lot of recipes to cover just about any need you have for baking during the holiday and throughout the year. Sometimes, the best deal is on Amazon and other times directly from BetterBatter.

King Arthur’s Flour is almost the same as Pamela’s and BetterBatter but, probably best for cookies and cakes. They, too, offer recipes for the asking  and just surfing for a particular recipe on the internet with their name in the search will bring up a lot of recipes from individuals, too. Just make sure to read the ratings for hints to avoid disasters.

Before my husband had to omit gluten from his diet, my specialty was bread and most any yeast-raised recipe. Although I have managed to produce some reasonable outcomes, to date, nothing was exactly what I wanted. I just discovered Steve’s Gluten-Free Bread flour blend by Authentic Foods. The first baguette turned out amazingly well with a crust and a ‘bread interior’ that was springy and didn’t ‘melt’ down exposing it’s gluten-free origins. I purchased 25 pounds and bread baking is back in my schedule. It looks, acts, and tastes like the real deal.

I Just Gotta Be Me!

I think I’ve found the cure for the problems in the world . . . at least in our personal interactions with others. I’ve recently gotten my DNA analysed by two different companies. I did this to see if they both manage to pretty much match . . . and they did. I’m authentic!

Anyway, the results were surprising and exploded into thin air all the myths I have held as to where I came from re. my ancestry. In fact, the second analysis went into more detail showing every ‘hit’ contained in my DNA even if it wasn’t as dominant as the major ones.

Well, I’m not as German as I thought although it is in evidence. I am, however, very British, Scandinavian, and Irish. The second DNA testing broke things down even further and showed every ‘hit’ that revealed some minor bit of ancestry. Turns out I have a bit of Middle Eastern, Jewish, and Native American in my genetic makeup. Seems my background hits some of the hot buttons on current relations in the world. Obviously, there were some moments where animosity didn’t enter into  ancestral relationships.

It made me think that is the liberal world, I could either be praised (although I had nothing to do with it!) for being what I am and dealing with such conflict in my make up. Or I could be denounced for not going forth and proclaiming something or other (I don’t know what as I am not liberal!) about how I’m dealing with this internal conflict. Hey, I was happy with being me before the DNA results and can’t see being unhappy after the DNA results.

So, I think everyone in the world should have their DNA checked and unless you are totally pure in whatever ethnic group you determine to be optimal, you learn to accept everyone for what they are now and forget about the nuances in breeding except for the fun of having a conversation about it.

Fashion Myths of Summer

Fashion Myths of Summer
Barbara M. Barthelette

1. Only about a tenth of a percent of the population can go around with a bare midriff without looking fat . . . I have yet to see that person.

2. Tank tops may be considered ‘cool’ but exposed and dingy underwear straps are not.

3. Sleeveless exposes arm pits, an unattractive but necessary part of our anatomy. Clothing should leave some mystery in life!

4. Shorts cut your view of the leg off right at the fattest part of your leg . . .making even a thin thigh take on the illusion of ‘greatness’!

5. You don’t look elegant trying to sit in a short skirt without exposing your underwear – you look like you are trying to sit in a short skirt without exposing your underwear!

6. Would you object to being forced to stroll along the beach in your under wear? Why, then, would you voluntarily do so in a swimsuit with even less fabric?

7. If you pen your boy friend’s telephone number on your wrist, it will be washed off long before you break up. If you tattoo his name on your rump, you will spend your life after break up doing a lot of sitting.

8. Tight clothing never makes you look thin. Think overstuffed sausage here!

9. Skin-tight jeans show off every figure flaw – reread number one above.

10. If people can guess whether you are wearing underwear or not, you are either not wearing enough or you need less flimsy clothing.

11. Chewing gum is not a fashion statement. In Germany, it is called kau gummi (pronounced cow gummy) which seems to fit so draw your own conclusions when your jaws start snapping.

12. If you attract someone because of what you expose, what happens when your personality surfaces?

Did You Happen to See Where My Budget Went?

Budget, Children, and Uncooperative Husbands
by Barbara M. Barthelette

Budget has been a constant in our life as a one-income family. And even though we were offering up the ‘freedom’ of the outside workplace, God still saw fit to send us crosses particular to our station in life. I look back on those days with some nostalgia but am pretty sure I would rather not have to actually return to some of those mommy moments! Here is a particular memory on trying to maintain children and a budget!

We all have a sock basket of some sort. You know, the place we put the socks that come through the wash minus the mate they were made for! Our cross is that we will never match them all up, we will never get to the bottom of the sock basket and we will often find socks we don’t remember ever inviting into our homes. The size of the cross depends on the size of your sock basket!

Cooking can be a cross when it is days before payday and you have to be creative, not only in what you make but what you tell the children it is so they will eat it! That is why lids were invented for pots so family can’t come in and get preconceived notions about dinner.

Coupons for grocery shopping and special sales stretch the budget but can be a cross for the family. “Why do the fish still have their heads on?” They were on sale because they were cross-eyed. The store had to leave them on to make sure the customer knew this before buying. “How come you didn’t buy potato chips?” Goes back to the Irish potato famine. Still a shortage of potatoes. Check your history book.

Paper towels are a necessity in the kitchen. I usually end up with an empty roll and find ‘used’ paper towels all over the house. There were thirty paper towels, precisely separated and laid out on the floor from back door to bedroom. “We were pretending the floor was a deep river and the paper towels are stepping stones!” A sudden yell for help from the bathroom that there is a flood quickly tells me what they tried to use the rest of the paper towels for! They had used up the bathroom tissue to reenact The Mummy.

I keep trying to come up with time-saving, money-saving ideas to run my home happily yet frugally. I considered giving each person a sock basket of their own but quickly realized I would then probably have six or more baskets full of socks. I mean, what are the chances they would ever compare the contents of their respective sock collections?

I tried starting a rumor that potato chips were made from creamed zucchini, carrots and turnips but my gang figure that if it is fried, it can’t be all bad.

I tried assigning each their own roll of bathroom tissue. I thought I had a system figured out. I would keep written records and the stuff under lock and key. I would check out a roll to each person, initial and date the inside of the tube and make note of the distribution in my notebook. When they brought me their empty cardboard roll, I would check the first date, the date returned and give counseling on waste not, want not as needed. It didn’t get off the ground, My husband wouldn’t cooperate on this one. He said that if we weren’t a one-income family with mismatched socks and on a budget, he would take me on a long, long restful vacation.

Shrinking and Expanding Houses – Chapter From Motherhood

Shrinking and Expanding Houses
Chapter from Motherhood
by Barbara M. Barthelette

One of the most common complaints I hear from other mothers is that there is not enough room in their houses. They are desperately trying to keep track of all the ins and outs of managing a home and budget and space seems to aggravate everything. Or should I say, the lack thereof? No matter how large a home may look when you purchase it, the family soon crowds every corner and cubby hole. Bare floor area is at a premium.

We moved to a bigger home years ago. In the process of moving, we gave away sixty bags of used, outgrown items and disposed of sixty bags of trash. I estimate it took all of five minutes in the new home to replenish it all. But even though the floor space seemed to be shrinking, mathematically, I realized this could not be true. After considerable thought I have come to the conclusion that houses expand in order to accommodate all that is brought into them on an almost daily basis. The whole earth is getting larger even as I type.

Now this expansion is not readily visible to the naked, uninformed eye, but once you start thinking about it, you begin to see this for yourself. Every week we go shopping for one reason or the other. Necessities of life don’t make themselves known in one shopping trip. In the course of all these excursions, we often buy other items, bring them home and put them away. And every time we do so, we always manage to find a place to put the stuff. Why? Because houses expand to meet our expectations! And, because everyone is going through the same process, the yards and streets accommodate the changes. Have you ever gone back to an old neighborhood and were surprised at how small it is in relation to how large it seemed when you lived there? That is because you moved all your stuff to another location. And why do you find it harder to run around the block now than when you were a child? Simply because of house expansion.
It seems to me that since this may turn out to top global warming as a problem, I have started to work at reducing the expansion problems in my own home and hope, by example, to encourage others to take this matter seriously.

The rule now is that before any new item enters the house (other than the edible variety), a resident item has to leave. Although it sounded like it would work, children aren’t into concepts. They were acquiring expansion-oriented possessions and disposing of microscopic articles. There was no balance and I could almost hear the walls creak as they enfolded each new acquisition. I knew the battle was lost he day my daughter dragged in a large, storage trunk for her room. With a defeated sigh, I asked her what she was going to do with that? She cheerfully replied, “Oh, I am going to put stuff in it!” I guess accumulation is an inborn tragedy acquired at birth. I remember taking this daughter home from the hospital in a simple sleeper and blanket. As I exited the hospital room, the nurse handed me several bags of stuff for the baby.

The Demise of Willard – from Barbara’s Memory Book

We had a rat in our garage. We named him Williard and then went shopping for whatever it would take to close down Williard. A few days later, I was coming in the garage and there was Williard, passed on to his final reward. I called the children to view the body. My older daughter wanted to know why I wanted them to see a dead rat. Before I could say anything, she answered herself and said, “I guess it was to give us closure.”!