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Toad or Towed?

I’m sure I’ve never seen anyone accidentally mistake these two words, but I saw this sign at the St. Louis Zoo yesterday and it cracked me up!

Toad or Towed? Which Should You Use When?
toad or towed? Which one should you use when?

This just goes to show how many different word choices there are in the English language! 🙂

Just in case you want clarification…a TOAD (noun) is an amphibian. Some interesting facts I learned about toads: females are larger than males. They go through true metamorphosis from tadpole to toad. While they spend the early part of their life in water as tadpoles, they live the remainder of their lives on land.

Toads double in size in the summer and hibernate in groups during the winter to keep warm. Toads hop (frogs jump) and have dry warty skin. But, toads CANNOT give you warts. My kids have spent most of the summer collecting toads in our yard. I never realized the difference between toads and frogs, but if you want to know, just ask. After this summer, I am somewhat of a toad expert. 🙂



Mater from Cars


TOWED – is the past tense of the verb to TOW. TowMater is brought to you courtesy of one of my kids’ favorite movies.

And that’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson! 🙂 More on what we learned in St. Louis about hip dysplasia later. I’m still reeling from the second opinion appointment…

Boosting Immunity with Thieves Oil

thieves ol

Have you heard of Thieve’s Oil? It’s an essential oil that many friends have recommended to me  and I’ve been researching boosting immunity with Thieves Oil.

Boosting Immunity with Thieves Oil

Thieve’s Oil originated during Bubonic Plaque when  “outbreaks decimated the population of Asia and Europe for the better part of a thousand years. Out of this period emerged a legend of four thieves who were captured and charged with robbing the dead and dying victims. When the thieves were tried, the magistrate offered leniency if they would reveal how they resisted contracting the infection as they performed their gruesome acts. They told of a special concoction of aromatic herbs, including garlic, cloves and rosemary, that they rubbed on themselves before committing their crimes.” You can read more here.

I’m trying really hard to keep my 16 month old healthy as we’re getting ready for her hip dysplasia surgery. She’s prone to colds in the winter and has a snotty little nose right now and a bit of a cough. In fact, last winter she wound up in the hospital with pneumonia. I tell you what, I’ve not had such an unhealthy child before! I’m treading new waters with her.

Here are my efforts at keeping us all healthy:

In addition to eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies, I’ve also beefed up my own vitamin intake because I’m still nursing her. I’m taking probiotics, a multi-vitamin, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and fish oil. I’ve also limited my sugar intake and have starting using Thieve’s Oil. The cheapest I found for the  Thieves Essential Oil by Young Living Essential Oils – 15 ml was on Amazon. So I ordered it and it arrived last week. Following the directions, I diluted a little into lotion and am massaging it on her feet at night. I also added some to our humidifier and have been running that at night as well.

I think everything I’m doing is helping her cough. We’re still working with the runny nose, but I’m encouraged right now by the improvements in her cough. Of course, I’m not a medical professional and I can’t attribute her improvements to anything in particular. I’m just sharing what we’re doing right now in case you’re also looking for ways to boost immunity. I really feel pressure to kick the runny nose and cough so she’s not rejected for surgery.

If you’re curious about Thieve’s Oil, you can read about its Legend here. And here are 33 ways to use it! If you want to buy it, Amazon is the cheapest place I found it online. Here’s that link: Thieves Essential Oil by Young Living Essential Oils – 15 ml.

What do you do to keep your kids healthy? Visit Healthy 2day Wednesdays for more good ideas.

Witch or Which or Sandwich?

Earlier in the week as I was grading my college comp I papers, I noticed a few mistakes with the witch and which. So, in honor of my college students, here’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson!

#1. A WITCH is a magical woman. A noun. She might ride a broom and wear a pointy hat. Or, she may have tattoos and like to knit. You never know. Which is why you might not want to judge and brings me to point #2.

#2. WHICH is an adjective or a pronoun. You generally want more information when you use WHICH. WHICH car did you buy? WHICH book did you read? WHICH witch did you see last night?


#3. Of course, just to utterly confuse you, English has a third type of wich – SANDWICH – notice, no t or extra h as found in #1 and #2. But doesn’t that look good? 😉

Unfortunately, these three words are NOT interchangeable. As with so many other things in English, they just have to be memorized. I highly suggest not getting them confused on formal papers for English teachers! 🙂

And that’s your 5 Minute Grammar Lesson! Enjoy!!

Witch or Which or Sandwich ~5 minute grammar lesson

Walking with Hip Dysplasia

It’s a little hard to tell, but below is a video of our 16 1/2 month old daughter walking with hip dysplasia – specifically a dislocated left hip. If you look carefully, you’ll see that instead of her left leg rolling like it’s supposed to, she hikes it up and over. If you’re here because you have a nagging feeling about your own child, the good news is a diagnosis of hip dysplasia is fixable! Our daughter is now almost 9 years old and you can’t really tell she ever when through this. <3

girl in a spica cast

When she first starting walking, I had a nagging feeling in my head about it being bad, but I dismissed that thought because she was such a new walker. After she didn’t get any better, and more people started commenting, I pulled out my handy dandy Dr. Sears’ The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two (Revised and Updated Edition) and started reading about limping. Frankly, it scared me.

Walking with Hip Dysplasia

I honestly avoid doctors. We only go unless absolutely necessary which isn’t very often. One of my favorite medical books is How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor. But I also trust and rely on my Dr. Sears’ books. When I read that we needed to have her seen right away, we did. And even when the doctor said she wasn’t concerned, we pushed until we were seen by a pediatric orthopedist. I trusted my mom sense and my mom sense said something was wrong.

I have been on pins and needles since her hip dysplasia diagnosis. I’m in and out of tears. I’m sad, mad, terrified of what’s to come. But I have finally come to peace. We’re headed to St. Louis next week for a second opinion appointment, more so to check out one more surgeon before we make our decision than to try to second guess the diagnosis. It is what it is unfortunately, and it’s totally obvious on her xray that her left hip is not in the socket.

Here is the video of her walking with DDH

2019 Update Hip Dysplasia Update

This post kind of leaves you hanging on where we are today – eight years later. We did operate on Sara. She had an open reduction at 17 months at the University of Iowa with Dr. Weinstein. At 3 1/2, she had a double osteotomy also with Dr. Weinstein. When she was 6 years old, she was finally cleared to once every two year check ups. At 8 years old, she’s still looking good. We see her surgeon again in about one year. You can read more about our journey here. Please feel free to email me if you need to vent. I’m here for my fellow DDH parents. <3

What you need to know about hip dysplasia in babies

What to expect on open reduction hip surgery day

Supplies for spica cast post DDH surgery

Preparing for Pemberton and Femoral Osteotomies in the fight against DDH

Artisan Bread in a Bosch

I love a good, crunchy loaf of artisan bread but I don’t like to use store bought flour because I grind my own. The health benefits of freshly ground flour can’t be beat, but it takes a while to get used to as it’s different to work with than the flour you can buy in stores.

I used to buy a lot of unbleached flour. My price point was .99 / 5 lb bag and when I quit seeing that price, I quit buying it. At the same time, I also found hard white wheat berries instead of hard red wheat berries. I’ve been grinding my own flour since 2005, but I had only used hard red wheat until just this year! While I adore the rich taste of the hard red wheat, we found it too wheaty to use exclusively in delicate baked goods so I mixed it with the store-bought unbleached flour.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the hard white wheat tastes light and nutty, though. I’ve been using it in 100% of my baked goods for months now and it’s delicious! So flavorful!! For the last few months, I’ve been experimenting with the hard white wheat and artisan bread. I think I’ve finally found a winning combination!

The problem I’ve been having is that the dough is too runny and the bread won’t hold shape. It tastes good, but the loaf had been turning out too flat. To fix it, I simply added more flour. I was worried because the authors of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day say the dough needs to be really wet and sticky so I didn’t want to add too much flour. But at the same time, flat bread’s not what I’m after.

I double the basic recipe here. To clarify, I used the basic recipe from the Original Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (not the Healthy Recipe Book). If you want to make this bread using unbleached flour, I recommend you follow the exact recipe. If you’re using freshly ground flour and double the recipe, I recommend adding 15 1/2 cups + of flour instead of the 13 the recipe calls for. Don’t be afraid to ruin the dough by adding too much.

Artisan Bread in a Bosch

Mix up your ingredients and continue adding flour until your mixer bowl sweeps clean. That means dough does not stick to the sides. For me, the right combination was about 15 1/2 cups, but that amount can vary slightly based on how much water you’ve added.

Artisan Bread in a Bosch
After you’re satisfied with the dough, follow the book’s recommendations for allowing it to rise in your chosen container.

Artisan Bread in a Bosch
When your dough is ready, shape the loaf and allow it rest. Before baking, slash the bread with a bread knife. Make sure you slash it very deeply or they slashes will bake out.

Artisan Bread in a Bosch

See? I didn’t slash mine deeply enough and it looks funny. But it still tastes good!

Artisan Bread in a Bosch
Slice, butter, and enjoy!

Do you grind your own flour? Have you tried Artisan Bread with freshly ground flour? What’s your favorite baked good?

Pulling the barn to its foundation…

In this part of the story about moving our free barn, we describe Pulling the barn to its foundation and show lots of pictures of the moving company and process we used to move the barn. This post is part of series on the round top barn my husband and I moved to our property and are in the process of restoring. You can read the other posts in the series here.moving a free barn

Pulling the barn to its foundation…

After we finally got the barn moved onto our property, it was too late to pull it onto its foundation on the other side of the silo. Of course! So we had to wait. The crew parked the barn and promised to come back “tomorrow.” 🙂 I have forgotten how many tomorrows later it was when they finally showed back up, but it was certainly not the next day.

The first thing they did when they finally came back was hook up their semi to the barn. They had to pull it around the silo and place it on the new foundation we had poured weeks before. This was by far the trickiest part of the move because they had to get it exactly perfect on the foundation. “Kind-of” wouldn’t cut it.
moving a free barn

It had been a wet fall and it was still pretty muddy. Right away, the semi got stuck. Luckily, Art (the previous barn owner) has a pretty powerful bulldozer and we fetched him to pull the semi-truck out. Amazingly it worked, but only for a while and then it was all stuck again…

moving a free barn
pulling the barn to its new foundation

pulling the barn to its new foundation

pulling the barn to its new foundation

pulling the barn to its new foundation

Since the bulldozer couldn’t get it on its own, the house movers hooked up their skid-steer too. The bulldozer was on one side of the barn and the skid-steer was on the other. It was pretty funny seeing them pull that semi up over the foundation.
pulling the barn to its new foundation

Finally, they got it in just the right spot. It took most of the morning. They placed the barn on the same jacks they had used when they first moved it, and jacked it up. Then they left.
checking out the barn on its new foundation

On a side note, while Patterson’s crew was placing the barn, my kids were playing in the mud! It looks like my daughter is buried in the mud. (But she’s not). 😉
Anna's head sticking up out of pile of dirt

The barn was finally on our property AND on its foundation. Now what?!

Corn, Avocado, and Bleack Bean Tostadas

I got this recipe out of my AllYou magazine. (I subscribed to this magazine for the coupons and sometimes they have interesting recipes!.) These would be better with some minor modifications, but overall they were tasty and I will make them again!

8 – 6″ corn tortillas
2 cups cooked black beans
1 cup cooked corn
1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
2 TBSP finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 TBSP olive oil
2 tsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Arrange tortillas on a baking sheet, mist with cooking spray and springke with salt. Bake until beginning to crisp, 5-7 minutes.

2. While tortillas are toasting, combine beans, corn, avocado, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Top tortillas, still on baking sheet, with some bean and corn mixture. Sprinkle with cheese.

3. Turn oven to broil and broil tostadas until cheese has melted and is beginning to brown, 1-2 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Modifications I would make: add more cilantro and salt because I used cooked, dried beans instead of canned beans. Also, more lime juice and pepper flakes. Definitely add more cheese!!

This post is linked to What’s on Your Plate.

Homemade Monkey Bread with Freshly Ground Flour

Want to make Homemade Monkey Bread with Freshly Ground Flour? You’re in luck! Here’s how to do make a fabulous monkey bread with flour you mill yourself.homemade monkey bread with freshly ground flour

We’ve been served Monkey Bread at family’s homes before and thought it was delicious. I wanted a “healthier” version though, as I don’t buy frozen bread dough.

I started making my own Monkey Bread a few months ago using my 100% Whole Wheat Everyday Bread Recipe. While we love the way it tastes, it takes a long time to prepare in the morning. I started thinking how nice it would be to have those bags of pre-made dough balls for this purpose and wondered why I couldn’t make my own!

Homemade Monkey Bread with Freshly Ground Flour

I started making my own Monkey Bread a few months ago using my 100% Whole Wheat Everyday Bread Recipe. While we love the way it tastes, it takes a long time to prepare in the morning. I started thinking how nice it would be to have those bags of pre-made dough balls for this purpose and wondered why I couldn’t make my own!

So last week I made a minor modification to my master bread recipe (added 1 cup of honey  instead of the normal 3/4 cup to make it a bit sweeter) and instead of baking bread, I made a bunch of little dough balls for my freezer.

dough balls for homemade monkey bread using freshly ground flour

Then I flash froze the balls on baking sheets lined with freezer paper and after they were frozen, I divided them up into four portions (because I used the 5th portion for monkey bread that morning) and bagged them for quicker breakfasts.

Sunday night, I got out one of the bags and gave it whirl. Here’s what I did:

Grease a fluted pan. Mix 2/3 – 1 cup sugar with 1-2 TBS cinnamon. Melt 1 stick of butter. Layer a few dough balls in the pan. Sprinkle with sugar and drizzle butter. Continue layering the ingredients until you’re out. Make sure to dump any extra butter over the top! Use every last drop of that butter… :-) Leave the pan out overnight. In the morning, bake for 30-35 minutes in a preheated oven (350 degrees). NUM!

close up of homemade monkey bread

If you’re wondering about the difference in appearance between the above picture and the very first picture, I used raw sugar in the top picture and refined sugar in the bottom pictures. The raw sugar gave the monkey bread a more caramelly taste and we preferred it to the refined sugar which tasted more like a donut.

Stringtown Amish Bulk Food Store in Kalona Iowa

Kalona Iowa has lots of fun Amish stores including Stringtown Grocery – one of my favorite bulk food stores around. Some of my favorite things to buy at Stringtown change depending on the seasons, but some are always the same. Wondering about Stringtown? Here’s what to know!

Stringtown Amish Bulk Food Store in Kalona Iowa

Stringtown in Kalona is not your typical grocery store. If you’ve never been to an Amish store before, you might not know what to expect. But if you have been to an Amish bulk food store, you probably have a pretty good idea of the type of food you can find at Stringtown. I love shopping at Stringtown for certain items, but tend to be more careful about other things. Here’s what you need to know about Stringtown and the stuff you’ll find there!

Location and Hours:

Stringtown’s address is 2266 540th SW. Just down the street from the Kalona Cheese Factory, Stringtown is outside Kalona and off Highway 1 on the way to Iowa City. It keeps pretty typical business hours, except that it’s closed on religious holiday and on Sundays. The hours are:

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 8 am – 5 pm

Tuesday, 10 am –  6 pm

Friday, 9 am – 6 pm

Saturday 8 am – 4 pm

 Stringtown Amish Bulk Food Store in Kalona Iowa

I was most excited to find 50 lb of Hard Red Wheat Montana for $23. I stocked up on hard white wheat for a little less in Missouri, but I’ve really been wanting some hard red wheat. I like the hard white wheat for artisan bread, waffles, cakes, and pancakes, because it is more similar to unbleached flour, but I love the red wheat for my 100% Whole Wheat Bread.

tattler lids from Stringtown Amish Bulk Food Store in Kalona Iowa

I also found BPA-free canning lids! Amazon.com sells them, too, but Tattler Reusable Regular Canning Lids & Rubber Rings – 12/pkg were quite a bit cheaper at Stringtown.

I was so excited to find rye berries for super cheap – .43 / lb!!!
rye berries from stringtown

And finally, I got some more black beans and some RAW almonds. Did you know that nuts are pasteurized unless they specifically say raw? Yup. I just found this out recently. The “raw” nuts I’ve been buying from Sam’s Club are not raw at all. So I added a bag of raw almonds to my purchase. A couple dozen farm fresh eggs rounded out the purchase. I spent just over $60.

raw and black beans from stringtown grocery

Of course, I cross-referenced their prices with prices on my Grocery Price-Point List. Most of them are still good! 🙂 Do you shop at Amish bulk food stores? I highly recommend them. They have great products and super prices.

What’s your favorite store in Kalona Iowa? I’d love to hear!

Like this post? You might like this one too:

Another one of my favorite Amish stores in Kalona Iowa is Central Discount Grocery. Check out all they have to offer here!


My Grocery Price-Point List

I’ve had a lot of people ask me what my personal grocery price-points are and how I’m able to feed my family as cheaply as I do (averages out to somewhere between $250 – 300 a month for 6 people). I’ve been thinking about this post for a long time and this weekend, I did a little sleuthing and fact gathering so I could finally write it.

Here are staples I almost always have on hand and the prices I pay for them.

Sam’s ClubI’ve blogged before about whether Aldi or Sam’s is cheaper. While I think a lot of items can be found cheaper than Sam’s Club using coupons and loss leaders, I do get a lot of staples at Sam’s Club. I buy:

  • Jasmine Rice – $16.93 / 25 lbs = .68 / lb
  • Pinto Beans – $17.76 / 25 lbs = .71 / lb
  • Popcorn = $23.92 / 50 lbs = .48 / lb
  • Taco Seasoning (MSG Free) – $3.98 / 23 oz
  • Vanilla – $6.88 / 16 oz
  • Baking Powder (Aluminum Free) – $5.78 / 60 oz
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese – $6.74 / 2 lb ($1.68 per 8 oz block – common size seen at grocery store)
  • Vinegar – $3.58 / 2 gallons = $1.79 / gallon
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips – $9.48 / 3 lbs
  • Fair Trade Coffee – $14.88 / 40 oz = $5.95 / lb
  • When I have a little extra money, I also LOVE the assortment of cheeses at Sam’s Club. I don’t have prices, though.

Things I don’t buy at Sam’s Club because I can usually find them cheaper elsewhere: fruit and most veggies (except their organic spring salad mix – love that!), diapers, wipes, OTC medicine, toiletries, butter, yogurt, cereal, snacks, liquor, meat.

Bulk Amish Store

  • Prairie Gold Hard White Wheat – $20 / 50 lb = .40 / lb
  • Raw Sugar – $35 / 50 lb = .70 / lb
  • Rolled Oats = $20 / 50 lb = .40 lb
  • Whole Flax Seed = .99 / lb
  • Sea Salt = .55 / lb
  • Real Salt = $3.49 / lb
  • Raw Honey – $3.50 / lb

Misc. Grocery Stores

      • Fruit – anything under $1 / lb
      • Chicken & Pork – under $2 / lb (try for < $1.85 / lb)
      • Pasta – stock up around .50 / lb (loss leaders with coupons)
      • Veggies – whatever’s cheapest any given week  (cabbage and carrots are two of the cheaper veggies)
      • Skim Milk – < $3 / gallon (use coupons) rGBH free
      • Cottage Cheese – .99 / 24 oz
      • Butter – $1.99 / lb (stock up on loss leaders)
      • Cereal – prefer free after coupons/rebates/RR/ECBs, but under $1 is acceptable depending on the cereal (I’m pretty picky about cereal and I won’t buy anything just because it’s free. I do have my limits!) 🙂


      • Powdered Milk – $5.95 / 26 oz (I use this in a lot of my baked goodies)
      • Sour Cream – .99 / 16 oz
      • 1/2 & 1/2 – $1.65 / 32 fl oz
      • Tortilla Chips – $1.19 / 13 oz

Beef – buy from a local farmer 200 lbs / year for around $500 = $2.50 / lb

I don’t buy a lot of organic fruits and veggies because it’s simply cost prohibitive. I do, however, have a large organic garden in the summer and I preserve as much as I can for us to eat in the winter. When I do buy fruits and veggies, I try to buy as much as possible from the Environmental Working Group’s Clean 15 list and minimize produce on their Dirty 12 List to minimize our exposure to pesticides.

Oil isn’t currently on my list. I’ve had an enormous stockpile the last couple of years from awesome deals I used to find at Jewel-Osco. Unfortunately, it looks like those deals have ended and I’m down to my last two bottles of Canola Oil. I also use Olive, Sunflower, Peanut,  and Sesame oil. I’ll be on the lookout for good oil prices. I use a lot of oil because I bake almost all of our bread, muffins, cakes, granola, and other snacks. Plus, I make almost all of our salad dressings and meat marinades. Oil is something I’ve got to have on hand.

I also recently found out that the nuts I thought were raw are actually pasteurized. So, I’m on the lookout for real RAW nuts now. I’ll probably stock up at Trader Joe’s a few times a year. I’m also eying all of my walnut trees with a new interest right now. They’ve started dropping their nuts and we’re collecting. We’ll see how black walnuts treat us!

One other area I really want to improve quality on is chicken and pork. I have a great source for healthier beef, but I still get commercially produced poultry and pork. I buy the best quality I can afford. I make sure to avoid gas packed meats and meat with added solutions, but I would prefer to buy free-range poultry and pork. It’s on the list. One of these days, my budget will increase!

I’m linking up to Frugal Tuesday and The Thrifty Peach. Is there anything you stock up on that I don’t have listed?

I’m linking this post with Frugal Friday. Check out more great ideas there.