Daring Mothers & Daughters….& Dirty Feet

This article was written by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan.

I’ve always had this “thing” for baby feet. I pull off darling shoes, and little newborn socks, and just want to kiss each of those tiny toes! I always ponder where a baby’s precious feet will go, and about God’s destiny and purpose for each new life. But speaking as a mother, what happens when our kids grow up, and God perhaps would call our sons, or our DAUGHTERS, to dangerous places?

Ann & daughter, Christi

Our oldest daughter, Christi, recently climbed a mountain barefoot. She didn’t want to wear out her TOMS, which incidentally are shoes produced by a company to help impoverished kids . . . . who don’t have shoes. These dirty feet (pictured above) actually give a pretty clear glimpse of our daughter.

Christi’s always dreamed of daring things for God. She’s grown up on a steady diet of missionary biographies — Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward, Florence Nightingale, Lottie Moon, and Elisabeth Elliot; but she’s done more than merely read about godly self-sacrificing women. Christi’s been living-out her own mission adventure story, as she’s also continually dreaming about the future.

The Bible says, “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” - Romans 10:15

I want to be a mom who encourages each of my children to completely fulfill God’s destiny — not by my efforts, but by God’s GRACE!!!

My husband and I know that each of our sons, and our DAUGHTERS, have been entrusted by God into our family to be raised FOR HIM and His mission-minded and eternal purposes. We want each of our kids, including each son and each DAUGHTER, to fully obey God’s call and purpose for his or her life. Sometimes, as a caring and loving mom (who remembers kissing my babies’ feet and tucking away their precious hand-knitted booties for the next generation), that can be challenging and stretching . . . but oh, what a JOY!!!!

Our daughter, Christi

Here are a few pictures of our daughter on a mission outreach in East Africa. Christi was instrumental in helping to establish two orphanages in Uganda, East Africa, currently caring for over 700 children orphaned primarily by AIDS. During her last year at home, Christi worked tirelessly in our ministry office, coordinating child sponsors and sharing needs. She’s traveled the globe to share the Gospel and to help others; but her passion for people who need Jesus is just as fervent here in the United States. She loves to mentor young women, to pray for those who are hurting, and to speak out for world missions!

As mothers in God’s kingdom, we need to raise our daughters to love Jesus AND to realize that multitudes of God’s precious daughters throughout the world desperately need all the motherly-and-sisterly-love we can give, along with our sacrificial prayer and help.

Rescuing one of God’s Girls . . . in Uganda, East Africa

When Christi was 15-years-old, she wrote a powerful orphan essay about the needs of one abused girl, named Jennifer, and this essay was only the beginning of God stirring His compassion in our daughter’s heart.

Here is a picture of this rescued girl today (four years after Christi wrote the article). Jennifer continues to live with our dear friends, Naboth and Alice, and is a vital testimony of God’s hand on these orphan children. The most recent report is so beautiful.

Naboth wrote:

Jennifer is now in primary four. She sleeps and “feeds” at our home, and is very bright and hard working. She “leads praising” in Sunday school. Her hope and happiness is restored, as God has healed her wounds.

Ministering to God’s Girls in Cambodia

As for Christi, she’s now in her final semester at a Christian university, writing her senior paper on the horrible issues surrounding child prostitution, human trafficking and the necessary process of healing after sexual abuse. She’s also preparing to be an assistant team leader for an upcoming two-month summer mission to Cambodia, to minister to young girls (our precious sisters in Jesus) rescued out of the sex trade.

Sometimes, we selectively read God’s word. In Proverbs 31, our Bible studies focus on the “lovely” verses regarding beauty and virtue, but miss the need for godly compassion and justice. As virtuous women, our households are to be “clothed in scarlet” (protected by the blood of Jesus, for perhaps dangerous assignments). We’re to extend our “hand to the needy” and to train our daughters — as a voice for the speechless, the dying, and the lost — to fear the Lord.

Here are my favorite Proverbs 31 verses:

“Open your mouth for the speechless, for the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth and judge righteously, and plead for the cause of the poor and the needy.”

Proverbs 31:8-9

As a longtime homeschooling mom (finishing my 19th year) I’m aware of accusations concerning homeschooled children who’ve been isolated and sheltered from reality.

And I confess:

We have protected our children from compromising friends, sinful lifestyles, and wasteful distractions. We have kept our kids “sheltered” in prayer by the powerful blood of Jesus Christ. And we have rejected the reality of low expectations.  However,  through our homeschooling freedom we’ve actually exposed our children — with oversight and spiritual protection — to  horrendous realities in our world. As a result, our older children are now helping to IMPACT the darkness with the light of our wonderful Lord!

Being a godly mother can be a daring assignment.

May we accept our mission in faith, not fear! May God’s goodness flow through us and our family, and through each of son and each DAUGHTER.

May we raise DARING daughters who follow God’s purposes, in complete submission to Him, with fervent love  . . . and perhaps, with dirty feet.

And as moms, may we be DARING too!

For what mission are you raising your children to accomplish today?

Ann Dunagan is a longtime homeschooling mother of 7 (ages 9 to 23, with 3 graduates), an international speaker with Harvest Ministry, co-founder of two orphanages in East Africa (caring for over 700 children), and author of several books including The Mission-Minded Family. With a passion for the Lord and the lost, Ann motivates families for world missions.

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Soaked Dutch Babies/German Pancakes

This was a traditional family breakfast meal during my childhood, and we loved it! I would love watching through the oven door window as these pancakes would puff up beautifully while baking. Served with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, butter, lemon juice and maple syrup is simply scrumptious. Now we have adapted our family favorite recipe for soaking to include the benefit of breaking down the phytates in the grain to make it more readily digestible for your body. Scrumptious! If desired, you can avoid soaking, and simply beat 1 cup milk (in replacement of the acid medium) with 1 cup sprouted flour after beating the eggs. Both methods work well.

1 cup acid medium – whole milk kefir, yogurt, or combination of water and lemon juice (for dairy intolerant) – I have not tried this with the water method, so you would have to experiment
1 cup whole wheat flour, spelt or kamut (as desired)
4-5 large eggs (free range/pastured is our preference), as desired
1/3 cup coconut oil and butter (any combination)
dash of vanilla extract

Combine acid medium and whole wheat flour. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. When you are ready to serve, heat oven to 425 degrees. Place oil/butter in small chunks in a 15×11 inch glass baking pan. Place pan in oven to melt. Meanwhile, beat eggs in a blender for 1 minute. Add soaked flour mixture and beat again for 1 minute. Add dash of vanilla extract. Pull out the baking pan from oven and rotate around to spread the melted butter/oil around to cover the entire bottom of pan. Slowly pour the pancake batter into the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly brown and fluffy. Enjoy!

Yield: 4-6 servings.

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Stainless Steel Scrubber: A New Favorite Tool

For the past few years in my pursuit of natural living, I have been stumped by the ever increasing toilet bowl ring stains and water/soap scum buildup in my shower. Natural cleaners just were not working real effectively for me for these issues (and I tried vinegar, oxygen bleach, hydrogen peroxide, etc). I wanted to avoid chlorine bleach or comet, but that seemed like the only solution, otherwise, just live with it, I thought.

I also have had difficultly finding an easy, natural, and effective means of scrubbing my stainless steel cookware clean. And lastly, the stove top loves to accumulate dried food particles that get caked thoroughly on.

My solution? Enter…Stainless Steel Scrubbers. They do not rust or splinter, are frugal ($2.50 for 2 on Amazon), can be easily disinfected (throw them in the dishwasher or laundry), and do not accumulate food particles like so many other scrubbers. With a little elbow grease, these scrubbers rid me completely of toilet bowl stains and shower scum, leaving me with sparkling clean results. My husband was absolutely thrilled. I had no idea how these things had annoyed him so, and yet he patiently endured all my experimenting.

I now keep one scrubber by the kitchen sink for all my dish washing, and one in the cleaning bucket. They will not last indefinitely, but so far mine have held up very well after three months of daily use. I understand they also work well for scrubbing BBQ’s and cleaning garden tools, shop tools, etc. I am sure you can come up with some more ideas. I did not experience any noticeable scratching on my porcelain, but use with caution and test a small unnoticeable area first.

My cleaning bucket has really simplified as of late. A stainless steel scrubber, my enviro cloth, oxygen bleach (for disinfecting the toilet), an old toothbrush (for those nooks and crannies) and a toilet bowl brush. Ahh! Simplicity…

What frugal tools have you found for effective natural cleaning?

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Get a Chef, a Maid and a Nanny by Creating Effective Routines

The following post comes to you by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Kat.

Would you like more time in your day? Would you like to stop nagging your children to do their chores? Would you like a more peaceful home with less effort?

Effective daily routines can make it all possible.

The Power of Routine

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Don’t work harder, work smarter.” Planning and creative thinking allows us to do more with less time and less effort.

Successful people subscribe to the power of routine. Whether it’s an athlete going through her workout routine or a business woman who has developed a process that allows her company to run even in her absence. Every successful business and organization has time tested and finely tuned routines and processes. If we want to be effective and intentional mothers, we need to create systems that work for us.

Taking the time to develop a routine frees up our time and our brains. We can use our routines to easily delegate responsibilities to others and teach our children. Or we can create routines so that our brain power can be focused on other activities like listening to an audiobook, a podcast or our favorite music while we do our chores.

Here are 3 key routines that will reduce your stress and increase your free time.

Get A Chef – Routines for Meals

We have all heard how helpful meal planning can be, but the process of creating all the menus and shopping lists can be quite daunting. For many, it’s hard to stick it out long enough to see the payoff.

The truth about meal planning is that you don’t have to do it every single week. The key is to create 8-12 plans and then just rotate them.

All you need to do is take 1 hour each week to plan your meals. Create your recipe and shopping list and save it on your computer. After 6-8 weeks, you’ll be able to cut your weekly meal planning time by 90% because rather than having to do a full meal plan each week, you can simply grab one you’ve already created and head to the store.

Another option is to have a meal planning party. Invite 8-12 friends over and have each of them prepare a week’s worth of simple, healthy, tasty meal recipes and a corresponding categorized shopping list. Ask them to bring 1 copy for everyone in attendance. At the party you’ll all exchange meal plans/shopping lists and you’ll leave with two to three months worth of meal plans that you can rotate. Voila.

Get A Maid – Routines for Cleaning

Some people clean best in one weekly spurt. Others do it best little by little. The first step is to decide which method works for you. Then write out your cleaning schedule. It may seem silly to write down that you’ll mop the floor on Thursday or dust on Tuesday, but the process of writing down those simple tasks releases your brain to think about other things rather than keep track of the minutiae of cleaning. The more tasks you can get out of your head and into a schedule, the less stressed you’ll be.

First, list the specific chores that make the biggest impact on the peacefulness and presentation of your home. Then highlight the areas of your house that need the most focus.

Too often when cleaning, we get stuck on the task and lose sight of the big picture. For example, we might need to clean the master bathroom and because we have all the bathroom cleaning supplies out, we take the time to clean ALL the bathrooms. In reality, though, that half bath RARELY gets used and doesn’t need to be cleaned at all and that extra 15 minutes could have been used more effectively.

So when creating our cleaning routine, it’s important to really sit down and think about the chores that will have the biggest impact so that we can focus our time and energy accordingly.

With this list in hand, create a core cleaning chart for the day, week, month, quarter and year.

Yes, it will take some time initially (30 minutes to an hour), but it will save you MUCH more time in the long run.

Get A Nanny – Routines for Your Children

This is the set of routines that have helped me the most. I have three young children and directing all of them towards going to school or getting ready for bed can often leave me longing for the peaceful bliss of working the Air Traffic Control tower at LaGuardia Airport on Christmas Eve while all the power is out. Blindfolded.

My children relied on me to direct and motivate them. And it took every ounce of patience I had. And more.

But then (cue skies parting, sun shining down and angels singing) I simply created a chart that walks them through their routines. Now they have discovered the joy of checking things off a list, accomplishing chores and feeling less like puppets and more like grown ups.

Word Of Caution

Just as a hired cook, maid or nanny should not come into your home and disrupt your family or negatively affect your relationships, we need to make sure our routines work for us and not let them control us. Introduce routines in a positive way. Make it fun and exciting and ALWAYS put your relationships above the routine. Be flexible.

Action Step

Mark off a 3-5 hour block of time on your calendar this week (or use your weekly planning retreat time) to work on creating your routines.


When we feel overwhelmed, routines provide a simple way to find our footing again. Routines can literally free up HOURS each week and help you create the warm, peaceful home you desire. It does take time to plan them, but the reward in the long run is well worth it.

What tips do you have to share for creating effective routines?

Kat blogs at Inspired To Action, a site dedicated to helping moms develop the habits and skills they need to effectively manage their homes and raise children who are prepared to change the world. Kat and her husband Jimmy live the great state of Texas and have 3 children ages 7, 5 and 2. Kat loves music, running, technology, Jesus and Tex-Mex food. Not necessarily in that order.
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March at Our Home

Our Family - March 2010

Spring is here and the weather outside has been truly delightful! I love those first sprouts of warmer days, spring walks with flowers blossoming around you, thoughts of summer, and true gratefulness at the beauty around me. I have been blessed this month to celebrate our son’s first birthday, have some spring family photos done (thanks to my wonderful sister, Christa), and continue to adjust to cultivating more of a simplicity and intentionality in my homemaking.

I did have another bout of insomnia this month, but the Lord is again graciously carrying me through this trial and helping me work through my emotions and struggles. My husband has been so supportive and encouraging.

Aaron is thriving at his new job and loves the corporate environment! His job has provided stability in our finances more so than we have ever experienced. Direct deposit is a wonderful gift. With this blessing, we are purposefully paying off the remainder of business debt that had accumulated and get into a purposeful savings plan. We love Mint for our financial tracking…it’s free!

The kiddos are doing very well. They love routine more than I ever realized. Since we are limited to one car for the time being, we are staying home a lot more. We established a good morning and evening routine. Taking a daily walk (along as the weather proves endurable) with the kids helps refresh our spirits and get us tired for good naps. Karis and I have a quality learning time together each morning now, doing a focused learning activity, reading, baking, or simply giggling over tea. I love it! I have learned the importance of scheduling in these times together or they get forgotten. I am blessed with two lovely children that love to smile!

Titus & Karis

Welcome Contributors!

I am excited to announce that I am welcoming three new monthly blog contributors to join me here at Passionate Homemaking! Please welcome Vina, Kat & Ann – three amazing inspired women! They all equally have a passion to encourage women in all things natural, simple and mission-mindedness. I am thrilled to have them join my team. Please check out our new contributor page which includes their bio’s and personal blogs.

New Blog Design!

Another exciting event in process is the redesigning of our blog! Yes, it has been a long time in coming, and we hope to launch the new site by May 1st. I am simply thrilled!

Relevant 2010 here we come!

I stumbled upon the Relevant Conference 2010 this past week and just fell in love with the vision and theme of this conference. It is all about purposeful, intentional, real blogging. I love the mission statement:

The Relevant Conference exists to offer a place of face to face interaction with Christian women bloggers who want to be relevant in the larger blog and social media world. Our goal is to go beyond the surface into intentional blogging and real life living. We support women turning their hearts toward home and using their blogs to bless their families while also engaging the world for the glory of God. Relevant is a one-of-a-kind conference that seeks to engage women by teaching blogging techniques and social media skill while also urging and encouraging women to live fully integrated lives with their faith and family.

I immediately felt like the Lord wanted me to attend this conference. My husband was supportive and in one day, the Lord provided my airline ticket and registration! Paula’s Bread is assisting me with sponsorship, and they provide safe kitchen appliances for your kitchen (including Bosch, Nutrimill and other stainless steel gadgets). Please check them out!

My amazing hubby and I!

March Book Reviews

Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood by Jamie Martin – a short and sweet read (I read it in one day!) with creative ideas to organize your life, create memories, and build a learning environment in your home. I love her idea of a learning board and memory books. Such a sweet mama!

The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions – the best book I have read to date on this topic! This would be an excellent companion guide to carry your through a birth, as it is easy to navigate to find different ideas for labor positions, what to do in various situations, etc. Thorough resource!

Sacred Influence: How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of Their Husbands by Gary Thomas – I gave a more thorough review of this book last month, but I did complete it and cannot say enough as to how valuable this book has been for our marriage. Gary lays it out there before you from a man’s perspective, giving you a peek into the man’s brain, and I was blown away. I discussed each chapter with my husband through the process of reading it and dialoged extensively. At every point, my husband heartily agreed with this man! If you want to strengthen, protect, and grow your marriage…then you must read this book!

Dancing with My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy by Sally Clarkson – Sally is one of my favorite authors on the topic of missional motherhood. Her book, The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity, is on my annual book reading list. Dancing with My Father is her newest release and it focuses on the topic of cultivating joy in the weariness of life. It mainly shares her own personal stories, but there is valuable studies at the end of each chapter for you to personally search the Scriptures more thoroughly. If you are struggling to remain joyful as a wife and mother, please read this book (along with Choosing Gratitude)!

Many blessings upon you all! May you have a glorious Easter weekend, enjoying the beauty of our Savior’s resurrection!

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Resources for a Purposeful Easter Celebration

Need some helpful purposeful tools for celebrating Easter this year?

Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross: Experiencing the Passion and Power of Easter by Nancy Guthrie. It’s a collection of twenty-five short readings with contributors such as Martin Lloyd-Jones, J.C. Ryle, R.C. Sproul and more. A great tool for family devotions or reading together in the evening in preparation for Easter.

The Very First Easter by Paul Maier. Have you been looking for a resource to help teach your children the importance of this holiday? Check out this wonderful story retold in simple and yet powerful language.

Family Bible Readings for Holy Week by Carri Garvey (a long time friend of our family) is a helpful devotional guide for the week prior to Easter Sunday. She shares: The media makes so much more of other holidays, yet to us as Christians, Easter should be THE MOST IMPORTANT. Here is a Holy Week Devotional for your family to help you make the week special and build up the anticipation of celebration on Resurrection Sunday.  Please feel free to print and use it however you like.We invite you to use this resource together with us this next week.

Make your own Resurrection Eggs or purchase a set of Resurrection Eggs- a fun way to retell the story of the Resurrection.

Hot Cross Buns recipe – Traditional bread for Good Friday, with the cross as a symbol of Christ and the resurrection, in a healthy fashion! Fun baking project with kids.

How to Naturally Dye Eggs – ideas for dying eggs naturally!

Easter Cookies – cookies for easter with a purpose!

Let us rejoice together in the wonders of Christ’s coming, death, and resurrection and the glorious grace that was purchased for us!

How do you seek to make your Easter celebrations purposeful?

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4 Items You Don’t Need In Your Bathroom

Photo credit

Here are four standard bathroom products that you can eliminate rather easily. Yes, the market tries to persuade you that you need this and that for the best look or feel. But are they truly all necessary? Here is your opportunity to fight back!

1. Shaving Cream

What is the purpose of shaving cream? Supposedly, it is to protect you from cutting yourself while shaving, correct? So I thought, until I really evaluated whether or not it served its purpose. Maybe 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time I would get cut, scratched, or hurt in some way. Both my husband and I shared this experience. Then I decided there had to be some way I could just live without it.

Alternative #1: Hair Conditioner. Conditioner is a perfectly useful alternative to shaving cream, and yet it clogs the razor and dulls the blade quicker. And as you will see in #2, we’ve eliminated this product, so its no longer an option at our home.

Alternative #2: Bar of Soap. Yes, the simplicity of a bar of soap does the trick! Scrub yourself down and shave in the process and you just eliminated another purchase for your bathroom. Guess what? My husband prefers this method too. We both agree that we cut ourselves far less, our skin remains soft and moistened, and we get a perfectly clean shave. My technique in order to avoid extra waste is to lather up one leg with soap, and before washing it off, I shave immediately, and then wash down. This works to help use the least amount of soap possible for both jobs of washing and shaving. We recommend a good natural bar of soap such as Dr Bronners.

Alternative #3: Nothing. Some would argue that you can use a little water and go for it (but I personally prefer the soap). :)

Save yourself a few dollars each month and take it off the list. It works.

2. Hair Conditioner

Hair conditioner is a nice product to have. It does help produce that silky smooth appearance. But is it necessary? We’ve lived without it for quite some time.

Alternative #1: Apple cider vinegar (Approximately 1-2 Tbls. cider to 1 cup water). If you don’t mind the fragrance, try a squirt of apple cider vinegar in your hair for its natural de-tangling ability. Or add a bit of essential oils to balance out the scent.

Alternative #2: Coconut oil. Applying coconut oil after showering as a leave in conditioner is very effective. It can be used as a curling gel for my hair, or a smooth gel for my husbands hair. Just remember…a little dab will do you. Too much and you can have a greasy look. It is wonderfully nourishing for the hair.

Save yourself a few dollars and use something you already have or skip it altogether.

3. Make-up Remover

Alternative #1: Soap and water. Yes, it works quite nicely.

Alternative #2: Coconut oil. Apply a little coconut oil to a cotton ball and apply to eyelashes to remove mascara and all other products on your face. Moisten your skin while removing make-up at the same time.

4. Aftershave

Alternative #1: Shea Butter / Coconut oil Combo. Check out our homemade aftershave recipe. (The hubby thinks this works the best!)

Alternative #2: Coconut oil (surprise!). While not as soothing as the combo above, coconut oil makes a great alternative in a pinch.

I could go on to share how you can also make your own shampoo or go the no-poo/baking soda route, how to make an effective homemade deodorant, and so on, but we’ve already been there before. Check out all the wonderful uses for coconut oil that we have compiled for further inspiration.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays.

What items have you eliminated in your bathroom? What creative alternatives have you discovered?

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Guest Post: An Introduction to Sourdough

Today, I welcome Amber Eisler to share a with us about the benefits and how-to’s of sourdough.

Sourdough is often thought of as a mysterious, temperamental, or outdated ingredient.  However with a little information and experience anyone can bake using this traditional method of incorporating a live culture.

Sourdough is wild yeast and desirable bacteria living in a mixture of flour and water.  It likely originated in ancient Egypt around 1500 BC.  Sourdough will cause dough to leaven or rise, and can be used in place of commercial yeast. Sourdough is acidic, and contains various strains of lactobacilli that contribute to the development of flavor.

Baking with sourdough is a relatively slow process, as it does not leaven as fast as commercial yeast.  During this slow rise the lactobacilli goes to work fermenting the dough.  Through fermentation, the simple elements of flour, water, and salt are transformed into dough with wonderful, complex flavor.  The slow fermentation also allows more time for the flour to hydrate, or soak up water.  A higher hydration produces a moister, lighter crumb texture.  The acidic nature of sourdough also improves the keeping quality of the bread.

Using a sourdough can improve the nutritional value when baking with whole grains.  Whole wheat flour is more nutrient rich than white flour; however, bran (present in whole wheat flour) also contains phytic acid which binds minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium, making them difficult or impossible to assimilate by the body.  Fermenting the flour with a sourdough culture neutralizes the effect of phytic acid, so the body is able to absorb the nutrients that the whole grain contains.  Many people find sourdough breads more digestible whether or not they contain whole grains, a phenomenon usually attributed to the lactobacilli aiding the digestive process.

Keeping a sourdough culture lively and active is simple and easy once you establish a routine.  There are many resources available to learn how to keep a sourdough culture, which requires a minimal amount of time and effort.  For in-depth information on how to start and keep a sourdough culture check out informational videos on www.breadtopia.com, or refer to the sourdough primer on www.kingarthurflour.com (or check out the variety of sourdough starters available through Cultures for Health). Basically, the culture will need to be “fed” an equal portion (by weight) of flour and water.  Stir it up and let it rest at room temperature until it is bubbly and fragrant.  Use the amount needed for your recipe making sure to save some “seed” for your next batch.  If the culture is left at room temperature it should be fed about twice a day.  Otherwise, store it in refrigerator if you won’t be baking for a few days.  If the culture is kept properly, the flavor in the final dough is mild, pleasant, and not bracingly acidic.

One of the easiest ways to get your feet wet using sourdough is to make sourdough waffles.  Following is a simple, delicious, and nutritious recipe for whole wheat sourdough waffles:

Sourdough Waffles

2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup Sourdough culture (bubbly and active)
2 cups Milk or Buttermilk
1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
2 Eggs
¼ cup Butter, melted
½ teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda

Combine the flour, sourdough, and milk.  Allow to rest at room temperature for 8-12 hours.  Whisk together the eggs and butter.  Add all remaining ingredients to the flour mixture.  Whisk until just combined.

Cook in a waffle iron.  Serve with maple syrup, yogurt, and fresh fruit.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Here is a recipe for basic 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough bread (pictured at the top of this post).  This recipe yields one large, hearty, versatile loaf.  We use it for toast, sandwiches, or just slathered with butter:

1 cup Sourdough, bubbly & active (about 8 hours after feeding)
1 ¼ – 1 ½ cups water
3 ½ cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 ½ teaspoons Salt

Mix all of the ingredients with a wooden spoon, dough whisk, or by hand until the dough comes together.  Add water as necessary to achieve a wet dough.  Turn out of the bowl and knead by hand for about 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes elastic.  It should be somewhat wet and tacky.  Resist the urge to add more flour!

Place the dough back in the bowl and cover loosely with a towel.  Let it rest for 3-4 hours, gently deflating and folding the dough every hour.  If your kitchen is cool (as mine always is in Vermont!) you may extend this resting period up to 6 hours.

Shape the dough into a tight round ball and place seam side up in a bowl lined with a floured linen or cotton tea towel.  Alternately you can shape it into a rectangle and place it in a greased loaf pan.

Let it rise in a warm place for about an hour.  Or place in the refrigerator for a very slow (overnight) final rise.

Pre-heat the oven with a pizza stone on the middle rack to 450.  When the oven is hot, place a square of parchment paper on a bakers peel or an inverted cookie sheet.  Turn the dough out onto the paper so the seam is now down.  Slash the top of the loaf with a serrated knife (to allow steam to escape and for further expansion in the oven).  Slide the dough onto the pizza stone.  Bake for 20 minutes at 450 then turn the oven down to 400 and bake an additional 30 minutes.  If baking in a loaf pan the pizza stone is optional.

A few tips when making whole- grain sourdough bread:

The wetter the better!  Remember that the flour will continue to absorb water during the fermentation (rising) process.  When the initial mix is complete, the dough should be slack.  Excess flour will yield a dry, crumbly, dense loaf.

Add steam.  Steam in the oven allows the bread to get maximum volume and good texture.  Place a small pan with a half cup of hot water in the bottom of the oven just after you load the bread in.

Practice often and have fun!

Amber Eisler is a Christian wife, mother, and part-time bread baker.  She lives in Vermont with her husband Doug and daughter Abigail (2).

Helpful Cookbooks:

Baking with Sourdough – a wonderful collection of 21 recipes
Classic Sourdoughs: A Home Baker’s Handbook
Wild Bread – Handbaked sourdough artisan breads in your own kitchen – one of the best sourdough cookbooks available

Further Resources:

Laura’s Guide to Building Your Own Sourdough Starter – a step by step tutorial on sourdough starters along with recipes

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Building a Home Planning Notebook

Maintaining a home is a full time job. There is no denying it. It takes time and energy to keep a home running peacefully and harmoniously. Whether you can be home full time or not, there is a need for organization to maintain this restful environment through which our husbands, children, and friends can find solace. Until recently, you could find many small to-do lists, schedules, menu plans, scattered random receipts, financial notes, papers, and the like spread out over my home. Some might be in the office, some in the kitchen, some in my purse. I had a haphazard cleaning schedule in the back of my mind. I had a homemaking notebook but it only had some random articles that I wanted to save and not much more. Do you experience this scattered feeling?

I suddenly got inspiration after viewing some of Stephanie’s planning pages to get organized in this area. I am so glad that I did. I collected everything into one home planning notebook. Ahh…so much more peaceful. I wanted to share with you what my homemaking planner looks like…but be sure that your notebook can take any shape or form. I pray this might provide you with some inspiration to get started. Organization is an important habit to cultivate, and I need it just as much as the next homemaker.

What Your Need?

1 3-ringed binder


Sheet protectors, if desired

Planning sheets (check out the resources below)

Ideas for Your Home Planner/Organizer/Journal/Notebook

There is an endless supply of ideas that you could compile for your planner, but here are a few tabs that I have:

Goals - this section I put right at the front of my journal so I would be daily reminded to review my goals for the year including: personal goals, nutritional goals, handcraft goals, family/ministry goals, family mission statement and book reading list.


Weekly Plan – Monthly calendar and to do list for the week. I take time every Sunday for my weekly planning outing to plan for the upcoming week using these pages.

Schedule – morning and evening routines, weekly routines (day by day plans that don’t change) – (check out Simplifying Your Schedule and Developing a Morning Routine for further inspiration)


Menu Plan – monthly winter & spring menu plans, monthly errand list, shopping lists (visit Developing a Monthly Menu Plan for more details on developing a monthly menu plan)


Homeschooling – ideas for learning activities, planning pages


Hospitality – our family vision for hospitality, ongoing invite list, meal ideas for guests, emergency meal, meaningful questions for dialog


Holidays – family traditions, holiday recipes, holiday planner, gift ideas for family/friends, Christmas card list with addresses


Household Inventory – freezer inventory, pantry inventory, master household supplies list (including personal care, house maintenance, office, kitchen, cleaning, and health supplies – to review monthly before errand run to see if anything needs to be restocked), clothing inventory (keeping track of the kids clothes to stay ahead of the seasons)


Finances – Budget, bill schedule, cash envelope funds and purchases, receipts


Family Journal – includes by weekly evaluation notes, monthly journal on what God has done in our family over the previous month, birthday letters to our children


Household Maintenance – spring cleaning list, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual chores list, honey to do list (basic repairs that need to be done around the house)


Blog Ideas – this is where I keep track of blog post ideas, advertiser and affiliate information


Resources - this is for keeping articles, book titles, and misc resources that I might want to look back on in the future


Contacts – a central place to keep phone numbers, addresses, websites, etc.

Other ideas: coupon organizer, chore chart for kids, emergency preparedness info, etc.

Here’s a peak into my planning notebook:


My encouragement for you is to take one section at a time. One section per week if necessary to avoid getting overwhelmed in any way. Build your homemaking planner over time and see more peace establish in your home. Bless your efforts! Developing my home planning notebook has taken several weeks and it is always getting improvements made to it.

Pages from my Planner:

Here are pages I personally use and/or have assembled for my notebook planner:

Freezer Inventory
Pantry Inventory
Master Household Supplies List
Housecleaning Schedule
Weekly Evaluation Page
Monthly Menu List

Resources & Inspiration:

Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule to Live your Life Fulfilleda wonderful little ebook that helps you develop goals and a schedule

Intentional Planner by Sheri Graham – a wonderful resource including planning pages

Maximize Your Morning by Inspired to Action – a helpful free guide to developing a morning routine with several good planning pages.

List Plan It – a great site that offers a yearly subscription access to over 400 lists to help organize your home, business, and life.

Homemaking Organized – downloadable lists for organizing your home

Control Journal – Flylady’s guide and tips to building your home planner or control journal as she calls it.

Household Management 101 - easy steps to building your planner

Do you have any ideas or resources to share with us on becoming more organized with a home planner?

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Tuscan Style Potato Soup

It may be on the end of soup season, but this creation was too good to not share with you all. If you like rich, creamy, warm, and comforting soups, this is definitely one you should try. It is similar in style and contents to my Zuppa Tuscana, but has it’s own unique flavor and speciality! It is one of our top favorites!

5 medium russet potatoes
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium leeks (white and green parts), or 1 large onion, sliced and rinsed well
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
4 cups homemade or canned chicken broth
1/2 lb sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled (save bacon grease for sauteing, if desired)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
4-5 kale leaves, chopped, more or less as desired


  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Scrub the potatoes, pat dry, and pierce several times with a fork. Set them directly on the oven rack and bake until tender, about 1 hours. Let cool completely on a cooling rack.
  2. Combine butter or reserved bacon grease, leeks/onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened.
  3. Add the chicken stock/broth to the leek/onion mixture.
  4. Cut the cooled potatoes in small 1/2 inch cubes. Remove peel on one or two of that potatoes. Set aside one cup of diced potatoes. Throw the remaining potatoes into the pot with the leeks/onions.
  5. Puree the contents of the pot in batches in a blender until very smooth. Return the soup to the pot and reheat over medium low.
  6. Whisk together the milk and sour cream and then whisk this into the soup, along with the reserved 1 cup potatoes, and cheese. Add chopped kale and allow to simmer for 10 minutes or so. Season more with salt and pepper as desired.
  7. Serve garnished with cheese, bacon bits, or green onions, as desired.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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