Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Some of you are very aware of an on going project I have to clean out and get rid of a 12 X 6 cargo trailer full of unused household items from both my son's last apartment, before he moved in here, and my grandmother's estate.  Finishing the project has became more important to my son and I as we are working on a plan for a small home based business,(more on this another time) but feel we cannot start another project until we complete this one.  It's been a long job that has included a lot of tears brought on by memories of my grandmother, and a lot of laughter at the crazy things we've found.

Today's post is about one such thing.

As Sean and I TRY to finish up these boxes from the cargo trailer today (note TRY) I came across an old calligraphy sign my husband made while in college (he’s 62 so that will tell you how old it is). This sign hung first in his dorm room and then in his apartment, and then it went to Viet Nam and back.

When Sean was young he had uncontrolled asthma, he was constantly saying “I can’t”, it didn’t help with the doctor telling him and me that he would never be able to be an active individual with his asthma being so bad. As you have probably already figured out around here “Can’t died in a cornfield” (meaning Cant was a man who starved to death in a cornfield because he decided he couldn’t get food). Gary and I both come from a long line of determined people, and we were determined Sean would not turn in to an inactive blob.

So Gary drug out this sign and hung it in Sean's room. When Sean packed for college he packed the sign and it hung in his dorm rooms and progressive homes and apartments. It had got packed up to come here and has been in the cargo trailer ever since. We came across it this morning and it’s going in our “business” office to remind us of it's meaning.

This sign has spurred us along the way more than once. When Sean, the asthmatic, decided he wanted to join marching band he told the doctor and the doctor said, well maybe if he was in the pit he could. Sean told him “My mom says I can do anything I set my mind to”, My son went on to win many competitions and a scholarship both as a member of the marching band and as an individual performer playing the TROMBONE, and other brass instruments including tubas. Can’t died in a cornfield, and he wasn’t about to be can’t.

As an adult his asthma is under control and as you know from reading my posts he's a very active adult that does ranch chores, cuts and splits firewood and lives surround by the animals he is "allergic" to.  Can't doesn't live here any more.

That single sign has spurred us on many times when we felt "we can't" and helped us discover "we can" instead.

So what was this all powerful sign? It is a simple black and white sign done in a very nice display of calligraphy and it says something that could and should be a motto for all of us here. It says:

“Impossible Is Only A Word To Measure The Degree Of Difficulty”

Jan whose sign is a little battered, but will be hung again in her home office to remind her of all her goals and how to achieve them in OK

Saturday, August 7, 2010


As I waited for the update to my McAfee to download I suddenly realized I was smiling, not a little half smile but a big full blown smile. It was one that reached from one side of my chubby face to another.

“What in the world am I smiling about?” I thought. I looked around the nearly empty library to see if my husband, who sat across from me, or anyone else had noticed me smiling like the proverbial ape. Nope, I was safe.

“Surely I’m not that happy to be sitting in the public library and using free wi-fi” I thought to myself. “Maybe it’s because Gary got a job yesterday” I continued, “No that’s not it, I’ll miss all the time we spend together and I’ll miss traveling. That’s not it. Although I am delighted to have a steady income again”

Yes you read right my husband was offered a job after nearly 18 months of unemployment/retirement. It’s not going to mean instant wealth for us, things are still going to be tight. But if we stick to our budget we will be able to pay the bills and finally truly snowball as described in Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. Not just once in a while, but each month. Only a few dollars at first, but it will be steady.

Our plan, as some of you already know, is for us to keep mystery shopping around home, and selling stuff to add flakes to that snowball until we are totally debt free. It will take us more than a year or two that is for certain, but we didn’t get so deeply in debt super fast either, so slow and steady will win the race in being debt free. Of course there will be several gazelle intense spurts of paying off debt.

So why was I smiling. The download wasn’t finished so I decided to mull over this weird grin on my face and the happiness I was feeling as I tried to discover its source. Then it hit me what it was “No, it couldn’t be that! “ I admonished myself, “surely not”. But then I realized that was exactly it and I grinned even bigger.

I was smiling about a single purchase I had just made for $1.92. I had purchased a quart of buttermilk. Yes I said buttermilk. No I’m not a buttermilk junky, well maybe I do cook with it a lot. The smile was because I suddenly realized our life had done a 180. No not the job, well yes the job, but not so much about it as what it meant.

It meant I had control of my life back. As you already know I’m all about frugal food cooking and storage. Since that day in 2009 when we had our first talk about how we would survive being unemployed our life has not been totally in our control.

Oh we have had the final say on all we did, but our life was ruled by when and where the mystery shops could be found. This was not a bad thing, we have had a blast traveling and seeing all sorts of things. But when it comes to frugal food storage it is a hard thing to do when you aren’t certain where you will be when. Certain food items that will help to feed your family frugally require a bit of attention now and again. So starting such food items when you may be leaving town on a moment’s notice is not a good idea. You could lose your original ingredients. There are all sorts of foods like that. Some you can refrigerate or freeze to save, such as sourdough starter, but others like Perpetual Buttermilk needs “renewed” periodically.

I cook a lot with buttermilk in my scratch cooking. I use powdered buttermilk in my dry mix recipes a lot, but I also marinade with it. You can use reconstituted powdered buttermilk to do that as well, but I prefer using regular buttermilk because you pour out just what you need to do the marinade, no mess, no mixing up too much, no waste, and fast.

That’s where Perpetual Buttermilk comes in. The premise is simple you purchase “a single quart of buttermilk”. Cultured buttermilk is what you need, you could even go as small as pint because here’s how you make a quart of buttermilk from just ½ cup of that original purchase of cultured buttermilk.


3 ¾ C water

1 1/3 C powdered milk

½ C cultured buttermilk

Mix well 3 ¾ cup water with 1 1/3 cup powdered milk (NOT powdered buttermilk) . Once this is mixed well add ½ cup cultured buttermilk. Then leave the container sitting on the counter overnight. That’s all there is to it. New fresh buttermilk will be waiting on you in the morning. Refrigerate and use as normal. Start to get low, use another ½ cup and repeat the process.

You can do similar things with live culture yogurt, sour dough starter and much more, but you need to be home to tend to them. Refrigerator bread dough either needs used within a certain amount of time or mixed up into a loaf and frozen. So for the last 18 months I’ve not been able to make these staples to our family diet.

Now I can, I am back in control. I smiled big. We were going back to good frugal eating. Homemade Artisan breads in less than 5 minutes a day, sour dough biscuits, onion strings, chicken nuggets, yes these would all soon be back on the menu. In fact I decided at that moment there would be onion strings on the dinner menu with charcoaled hamburgers and butterfly potatoes to celebrate the new job. That will bring a smile to my husband’s face too.

The next time my darling husband retires it will be permanently and I will still be in control because then I’ll know when we might leave town and can prepare my food storage accordingly. So for the next long while be prepared to see a lot more recipes and be told many a story about the adventures on and off the Rock ‘n Tree Ranch.

Jan who is not about to give up traveling for fun in OK