Except for the fact,  that I have indoor plumbing, electricity and the availability of a drive-through carmel latte down the street. 🙂

But really, as I have s.l.o.w.l.y been on this journey to healthier and cleaner living, I have made several changes in the past three years.  Wow, three years already?  Baby Johnny was about 2 months old when I first realized what high fructose corn syrup was and we decided we would cut that from our diet.  Every few months I have tried adding in new things from clearing out my entire stash of store bought cleaning supplies to completely overhauling our menu ideas and trying my hand at making many things from scratch in order to control the cost and ingredients.

It has been a fun and exciting few years.  I’ve discovered I really do enjoy cooking.  While sometimes there is the dreaded question, “What are we going to have for dinner???” Most of the time, I enjoy creating real, whole food meals for my family that are healthy and budget friendly.  Sometimes the budget aspect creates some stress in my life (like wishing we could eat all organic) but for the most part I get a little kick outa making things taste good that my family enjoys eating.

(Let me also just say this before you read any further.  I have wrestled over, over and OVER with feeling like somehow if we are eating a particular way or living life free of chemicals then somehow I am “in more control” over my life and the life of my family.  This lesson is always a big one when I am pregnant.  But I am quickly reminded each time I read “safe”, “healthlier”, ect. that ultimately God holds my next breath in his hand.  I want to be wise with our choices here on earth, but I also know that we live in a fallen wold and that nothing I ever do can change that.   I found this blog post very helpful and challenging to make sure my priorities are where they should be.  However, this is a very real thing that I wrestle with on a regular basis!  I’ve still got a ways to go to completely give this entire area over to the Lord.  Or, at this point, I’m thinking I’m just going to have to learn to let it go day after day & week after week.)

One thing that I had yet to do in my quest for healthier eating was change out my cookware.  Part of me just tried to ignore the fact that there were some negative ideas about the safety of non-stick cooking pans, but then the other part of me kept thinking, “If there was another option out there, I think I would like to give it a try.”  I’m not a fanatic about this, (occasionally I still use a non-stick pan) but for the most part, since Christmas, I have moved all my stove top cooking over to this baby:

Enter my cast iron skillet.  We have actually had it since we registered for it for our wedding!  But only had used it for cooking breakfast over the fire.  In all my reading, it seemed like cast iron or stainless steel cookware would be the best options for us.  I requested a second cast iron skillet for Christmas from my mother-in-law and she gave me a HUGE one!  At first I did not like it because it was so. incredibly. heavy.  It was so awkward to use and my arm was not strong enough to hold it with one hand up over a pan or plate to scoop food out with my other hand.  Those tasks turned into a two man job.  But I was bound and determined to give these skillets a go.

And you know what?  I really really like them!  (Although cooking scrambled eggs is NOT my favorite- they do not come off of the pan very easily for clean up.)  It has been fun to use them as they are quite seasoned now… so cooking that french toast up there?  Tasted so good! And while clean up is a little more of a hassle (I’ve resorted to scraping them clean while they are still hot since the food comes off so much easier than if it has cooled), I have pretty much made the adjustment to cooking exclusively with these two skillets.  And I’m pretty sure I might be requesting a cast iron dutch oven this year for Christmas. 😉

Which brings me to my next reason while I felt a little like Ma Ingalls last week.

Yep, that is a grain grinder. (I have ready many, many places about the benefits of grinding your own flour- you should do a search for it… too many sites to list!)

Can I just take a minute and tell you how cool God is?  I have been saving for quite a while for a grain grinder.  And not just any grain grinder- I’ve had my eye on this one.  Well, finding room in our budget for that purchase has not been a priority (we are saving for a home at some point!) so I have taken it upon myself to save for this puppy all by myself.  That means I put a good chunk of my birthday money towards it, I have a survey company that I occasionally get $3 for surveys that I take, I work hard at SwagBucks and I usually end up putting over half of my discretionary money in this savings envelope each month as well.  It has been about 6 months and I’m a little over half way there I think.

Anyhow, I had been telling a new friend out here that I was saving for a wheat grinder. And she looked at me and said “A grain grinder?”  Yep, that is it! She then walked over to her pantry and pulled out the above picture grinder and told me that a friend who moved overseas had lent her that grinder to use.  She was not using it, so would I like to borrow it for a while?? MAN – O – MAN!  Would I?!?  Love to!  AND she had a bag of wheat berries that she had gotten from her mother-in-law that she gave me as well.  No charge!  So for $0.00- God gave me a grinder (for a while until I can save up for mine!) and wheat berries!  Isn’t that kind of the Lord?  I love the fact that I serve a God who cares about the little things in life.  And that He loves to make his daughter smile and tell me that He loves me just because.  So cool.

It was so perfect that the week that my friend Jodi had given me the grinder and berries, because  I was already planning to make some more homemade chocolate chip cookies .  I wasted no time that afternoon grinding those berries (thankfully I had the sense to take it out in the garage in case it was loud as to not wake up my kids from nap time!)  and get to making my cookies with my fresh ground whole wheat flour!  And last night for supper, we had scrambled eggs, turkey sausages and my first attempt at whole wheat waffles (with you guessed it, fresh ground whole wheat flour!) and they were a hit! I made a double batch to put a good number of them in the freezer for breakfasts around here.  I have a particular little *almost 3 yr old* little boy who thought waffles for a birthday breakfast would be a GREAT idea!