The Benefits of Sourdough

About a year ago, Jim and I went to San Francisco without the children.  I have always loved sourdough bread, so while we were there, we purchased several loaves to bring home with us.

The children adored it.

I looked into purchasing sourdough around here, but couldn’t find a good source.  Then I looked into having sourdough shipped to me from San Francisco (yes, you can do that).  But ultimately I decided I was going to teach myself how to make a good loaf of sourdough.

So I bought some sourdough starter* and began making bread.  I figured since I had been grinding my own wheat* and baking whole wheat bread for more than a decade (remember when we baked bread in the sun oven?), how hard could it be?


Ummm… it was harder than I thought.

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After about 3 months of bread that was very disappointing (it had a good sour flavor, but I couldn’t get it to rise well no matter what I tried), I was about ready to give up on the great sourdough experiment.

But as I was continuing to research, I came across a study performed by Guelph University.  It compared four types of breads to determine which had the most positive health effects when it comes to carbohydrate metabolism, blood sugar, and insulin levels.  The subjects used were overweight people between the ages 50 and 60 who consumed the bread in the morning, and then ate a normal lunch.

The 4 bread types compared were:

  • White
  • Whole wheat
  • Whole wheat with barley
  • Sourdough made with white flour

The studies showed that when the sourdough was consumed the subjects maintained their carb metabolism, blood sugar, and insulin levels.  It was much better for you in regards to these indices than any of the other types of bread, even whole wheat.

As I continued to research, I found that sourdough has the following benefits:

1. Sourdough has a lower glycemic index than other breads. It is less likely to spike your blood sugar as dramatically as other types of bread.

2. Sourdough contains more Lactobacillus and less yeast.  This leads to less phytic acid, more mineral availability, and easier digestion.

3. Sourdough predigests the starches in the grains. This also makes the bread more easily digestible and allows you to absorb more nutrients.

4. Sourdough helps to break down the gluten. This further helps with digestability and may help those who are sensitive to gluten.

5. Sourdough produces Acetic acid which helps preserve the bread. Naturally occuring preservatives are always healthier for you than chemical preservatives.

So, sourdough is the healthiest of all bread types because it is more nutrient dense, easiest to digest, and has the least impact on blood sugar.

That was it!  I was not giving up!  I was going to master sourdough bread.

The first thing I did was switch from whole wheat flour to unbleached white flour*.  That alone made a huge difference. After a few more weeks experimenting, I was able to consistently produce sourdough bread that was had a good sour flavor, was pretty light and fluffy, and had a crispy crust.

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Over the next few posts, I’ll be sharing what I learned.  From how I keep my starter alive to how I make bread and what I do with all my extra starter, I hope you can learn from all my research and practice!





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Colorful Bedrooms

When they painted our bedrooms, we were that much closer to living in our bedrooms. We still needed carpet, lights, switches, trim, doors, and a whole lot more, but the rooms were very colorful.

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Which made all of us beyond excited!




Happy Birthday, Fletcher!

Fletcher turned 13 on July 12th.  With that momentous event, I now have as many teenagers as I have non-teenagers.  Yikes!  Good thing my teenagers are all pretty awesome!

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Normally, we have breakfast birthday cake to celebrate birthdays.  But the day before Fletcher’s birthday was a bit crazy, so Fletcher said he would be very happy with breakfast donuts.  We just had breakfast birthday cake for Jade’s and Colter’s birthdays, so that helped.

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In fact, Greyden and Fletcher were really excited about the donuts!

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And then of course it was time for birthday hugs.

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Fletcher’s getting ready to pass me in height (of which he is very proud and excited!)

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He’s still got a way to go to catch Jim.

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Happy Birthday, Fletcher!  Keep growing, maturing, and honoring God.  You’re going to be a great man someday!




Since we did our handprints in the concrete at the soaproom, Mom wanted us to put our footprints on the barn’s porch. (Mom also suggested we do butt prints on the porch of the house, but Dad said no. LOL)

First, Ramblyn put the “broom finish” on the concrete – basically, going over the concrete with a broom to give it lines.

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We got a bucket of water to rinse our feet in afterward because uncured concrete can burn your skin.

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Jade’s feet wouldn’t go into the concrete – they had poured that concrete first, so it was too hard (and she didn’t weigh enough even with Mom and Lucky pushing on her feet) to make her footprint. We decided that she would get a bonus set of footprints on the other end of the barn.

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Lucky helped us push our feet into the concrete evenly. His hands were cold.

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So was the concrete, actually.

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Lucky picked the younger kids straight out of the concrete.  It was harder for the bigger kids (and Mom and Dad) to step out of the concrete evenly.

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But overall, the footprints came out really well!  Mom wrote our names by them again.

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I’m glad we put our footprints on the barn – it’s cool to see how much our feet have grown. (Well, my siblings’ feet – mine haven’t grown at all!)




Kids Cooking – Keurig Oatmeal

Most mornings, the children make their own breakfasts. One of their “quickie” breakfasts is instant oatmeal. It became even faster and easier for them to make once Grandma bought us a Keurig*.

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They take their instant oatmeal and a bowl:

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Add the oatmeal to the bowl:

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And add the hot water from the Keurig*!

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The finished result:

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It’s extremely easy for them to make, and it’s faster than heating up water the normal way!




*Amazon affiliate link.

Happy Birthday, Jim!

Jim and I met at The University of Virginia, so Thomas Jefferson is very important to us.  Here is an interesting fact – Thomas Jefferson was born on Jim’s birthday (April 13) and died on Jade’s birthday (July 4).  I always post the children’s birthday photos, and they insisted that I post Daddy’s birthday photos as well.

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Happy Birthday to my incredible husband!


Disney Wild Africa Trek

While we were in Disney World, we decided it was time to do something we’d never done before. The Wild Africa Trek! Indigo and Jade were too young, so while we were doing it, they went off and toured Animal Kingdom with some of Grandma’s friends.

I can honestly say that this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. It was a three hour guided tour where we got to walk over the hippos and alligators, learn some swahili, get really close to some of the animals on the safari, and eat an african inspired lunch.  

First we got all suited up and took some pictures. 



Then we set off into the wild. First we went through the bird section. While we were there Jess pointed out some birds, and we got a lot of really strange looks. Not that it really bothered me – I’m used to it. My family gets strange looks whether we’re wearing strange gear or not. 😀


After we left the bird enclosure we left the set trail, heading into the woods. Colter told me, “It feels good to be back in gear, walking through the woods again.” I laughed and agreed with him. It was the first time I’d been in a situation like that since Outward Bound, and it was really nice.

We’d been hiking for maybe five minutes when Megan’s voice came over the headset that we were required to wear. She told us that we were nearing the hippo enclosure and told us the rules we had to follow. As we got closer we all unclipped one end of the harness attached to our vests. We handed them to Jess and she clipped us onto the metal rail along the fence, letting us walk past her into the enclosure (once we were securely attached). You can see our “tails” in this photo of us above the hippo enclosure. The vehicle in the background is one of the safari trucks. 


 One of the hippo experts met us there. He had brought along a bucket of food for the two males that we were going to see, but since they were asleep we didn’t get to watch them eat.


After the hippo guy (I don’t remember his name) answered all of our questions, and there were a lot of them, we moved on. We continued hiking through the woods and along the way, learned some Swahili. Twende (pronounced twenday) means “let’s go”, and that has become a favorite word around here. We also learned Asante Sana, “thank you”, and Karibu Sana, “you’re welcome”. 

 We made it to the bridges over the river, and it’s a good thing that none of us is afraid of heights. 

Because this is the bridge that we were going over. Well, this is one of them. 


 Did I mention that we were walking right over the alligators? You can see them down below all of us.








Don’t worry though – we were attached to a super strong cable above us by the harness on our vests. Because honestly, who wants to fall into this?


Then you’d get crushed by an alligator’s mouth… oh wait.


KIDDING. That’s just a model they had out there for us to look at. It was surprisingly heavy. 


We also got to go into (but above) the alligator pit:


We were so close we were able to see them really well as the alligator expert answered our questions.  And because we’re curious, we had a lot of questions.


I think there are 27 alligators at Animal Kingdom.


Our guides -Megan, Jess, and Hilary – were awesome.


Once we were done with the first half of our tour, we took off our harnesses and had our own private truck for the rest of the tour.


We were able to get up close to a lot of the animals and we each had our own pair of binoculars.



The truck would periodically stop so we could get up and look around.














We got to stop at a boma (safe place) in the middle of the Savannah and have our own lunch.



It was African inspired foods and most of it was really good.  We all even ate the flower.

 This is what the Boma looks like from the Savannah:

After lunch, we got back in our truck to see some more of the animals.  Particularly the big cats which the boys love.





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Asante sana, Jess, Megan, and Hilary!


The Wild Africa Trek is expensive, but if you at all enjoy animals and like to ask lots of questions, and get behind the scenes, we all agreed it was absolutely worth it.  Definitely one of our best ever Disney memories!




Ice Hockey

Since it’s been so cold for the past couple of weeks, our creek is frozen solid. (Yes, completely solid.) So the kids decided that they wanted to have a little fun.

What started as tossing an empty water bottle around on the ice turned into ice hockey, using an old water bottle and some sticks.








They had so much fun, and though the creek melted, they haven’t stopped talking about it. I have a feeling that if the creek freezes again, I know where they’ll be!


Planting Fruit Trees On The Farm

I am a big believer in eating healthy foods.  Whenever possible we grow our own food and we do it without pesticides or chemical fertilizers.  One of the hardest parts of leaving our old home was leaving our orchard and brambles.  We loved harvesting our own pears, apples, peaches, cherries, elderberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and currants.   Since we couldn’t transplant all of our trees, we wasted no time in getting our new orchard started. 

Planting and maintaining an orchard is one of those things that takes time, effort, and patience. But when you’re able to eat fruit straight off your own tree, all that effort is definitely worth it!




Kids Cooking – Peanut Butter Cups

I admit it – one of my absolute favorite dessert combinations is chocolate and peanut butter. If I’m going to indulge (or over-indulge), chocolate and peanut butter is definitely my weakness. Fletcher, it seems, also shares my weakness because his favorite dessert to make is homemade peanut butter cups. He loves to make them and share them with everyone he meets. And he has learned that I rarely say “No” to him when he nicely asks if he can make them (especially if he promises to clean up afterwards).

As a result, Fletcher has become the resident expert “peanut butter cup maker” around here. First he  washes his hands with goat milk soap:


Then he melts the butter:


And adds it to a large bowl:


He then adds the powdered sugar: 


Then the creamy peanut butter:


He mixes it well with his clean hands:


And presses it into the bottom of a glass pan:


He then melts the chocolate and butter together (carefully, melt it in 30 second bursts, stirring in between):



He checks off his kid friendly recipe with a dry erase marker as he goes:


He adds the melted chocolate and butter to the top of the pan:


And places it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes: 


Then he scores it with a knife into 1″ squares and puts it back in the fridge for another 10-15 minutes:


If you leave them in the fridge, the chocolate is pretty hard, so we usually set them out at room temperature before serving: 



Printable (kid friendly) version

In a microwave safe bowl, place

  • 1/2 cup butter

Microwave 30 seconds at a time until butter is melted
In a large bowl add,

  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • melted butter
  • 2 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Mix with your hands (be careful, the butter is hot!) until completely mixed together
Press onto bottom of 9×13 glass pan (we use a smaller pan to make them thicker)

In a microwave safe bowl, place

  • 12 oz chocolate chips (2 heaping cups)
  • 1 TBSP butter

Microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until chocolate and butter is melted
Pour on top of peanut butter
Place pan in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes
Remove from fridge and cut into squares with a butter knife
Place back in fridge for another 10-15 minutes

Serve straight from fridge or at room temperature


But consider yourself warned. If you at all love peanut butter and chocolate, these things are seriously addicting!




Picking out a Christmas Tree

This is the first year in our new house and the children had their heart set on a HUGE tree.  So we went to a local tree farm where we first found a huge pile of geodes.


We took a hay wagon ride to the field.



And started looking at trees.




Indigo kept picking out trees that wouldn’t fit in our living room!



Once the tree was chosen, there was lots of time to play hide and seek amongst the trees.





As well as playing on the hay wagon.




While the farmer cut down the tree with his chain saw.




And (fortunately) trimmed a few feet off the bottom.



There were many hands to load the tree onto the wagon.








And into the Beast.





Since the tree barely fit into the Beast, I’d say they met their goal of a HUGE tree!  

What kind of Christmas tree do you get? 




Visit Goat Milk Stuff

Now that construction is complete, we have been able to offer Farm Tours.  Our main tour guide is  Fletcher.  He is responsible for our tours unless we have very large groups and need everyone to pitch in.  The tour starts in the retail room. 


And continues throughout the rest of the soaproom.


Then you head outside.


You get to meet the chickens and rabbits (and if you’re fortunate we have baby rabbits).



Then you get to meet the goats.


And Thor and Baxter, our Great Pyrenees guardian dogs.


Then you can head inside to see the barn and the milkroom.



During the farm tour we really enjoy showing you a piece of our daily lives!




Hiking at Charlestown State Park

Hiking has always been one of our favorite family activities.  Our local park was Charlestown State Park, but since we’ve moved, it’s over half an hour away.  We decided to go back one last time for a farewell hike and barbecue.



Indigo had to stop and look at the moss:








After the hike, the children played on the playground while Colter got the grill ready for our hamburgers and hot dogs.











It was a great day!  And there aren’t any pictures of us eating because we were all too hungry so nobody took photos! LOL

Does your family often get a chance to hike together?




Family Photo Shoot

I’ve wanted to get an updated family photo for many months.  But as you can imagine, getting everyone ready is quite an endeavor.  We were supposed to do the photo last week, but with the accident, nobody was in the mood.  

All the girls need hair cuts, so I was going to do that and then get the photo taken.  But since it was a bright, overcast day (perfect for photos because there is no direct sunlight to cause too many shadows), I decided to forget the haircuts and get the photos taken.

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 I’m so pleased with how they all came out!  Which one is your favorite?