$2 day: the bread’s all gone

The good news is that no one went to bed hungry.  The bad news is that I broke down and got the butter out to go with the bread and soup for dinner bringing our grand total for the day to just under $3.   Because really, how can you be expected to eat fresh bread without butter?

Oh, that’s right.  People do it all the time.  I’m just spoiled.

Dinner this evening turned out quite nice.  The vegetable barley soup was filling, and there was enough that everyone had all the soup they wanted.  There was even a big bowl full left for my husband when he got home from work.  And everyone ate as much bread as they wanted.  Those two loaves of bread?  All gone.  We ate inhaled a loaf and a half at dinner –and the last half-loaf was gobbled at bedtime.

I am actually quite happy with how well we really ate for that small sum of money.  I wouldn’t want to do a $2 day again anytime soon, but I am thinking about doing a $5 day every now and then.  Even twice a month would give us $30 a month for something other than belly-filling.

Here are pictures of our meals today, as well as a picture of our younger girls just before dinner, grinning happily over our TWO loaves of bread.


The kids were exceedingly good sports about it all. I’ll add more comments in the morning when we debrief at breakfast, but here are some comments from the kids:

17 yo son-  It was fine for the most part.   I was a little worried at breakfast to be honest. But the rest of the day was better.

16 yo- We should do this another time to save money.  I like oatmeal with no sugar.

13 yo daughter–  I wasn’t too hungry.   But we should have bacon and ice cream for breakfast.

7 yo daughter – I didn’t like the oatmeal with no sugar.


A few notes from me about the day.   This morning I got out our copy of Hungry Planet, which several of the kids looked at during the day.  And at lunch I read the kids a few essays about the blessing of food that I found in an excellent cookbook called Extending the Table.  (I’ve told you about that cookbook before, right??)

I noticed we were all much more food-obsessed than usual today.  When coming in from playing outside, almost all the kids exclaimed over the good smells of the bread baking.  Usually they are much more blase about good-food-smells in the house– after all, it’s normal.  But today they really appreciated it. 

I also noticed that I ate much slower.  I wasn’t about to deprive the kids of food by getting seconds of anything myself (well, except for the bread this evening) so I really wanted to make my food last.  And the plates today?  They were CLEAN.  Nothing was wasted.  Crazy how a 12-hour experience can give you a different mindset.

Now, what to do about it?

 I have thought that one way to use the money we saved might be to to gift someone via a charity like Heifer.org. Or I might just ask my sister in Ethiopia if she knows a family in her community who would benefit from a gift of chickens or a goat.

Whatever we end up doing with this experience, the day made us think.  The day made us grateful.  We are so very blessed.

$2 day: Is it dinner yet?

It is 3PM and I am hungry, which makes dinner feel far away.  I can’t imagine being hungry for hours every day, and even worse, I cannot imagine routinely having hungry kids and not be able to feed them.

Breakfast was oatmeal.  I made about 3/4 as much oatmeal as usual, so the serving sizes looked smaller but not ridiculously so.  Except usually we also serve toast and raisins and juice, so it did feel lean. My littlest daughter doesn’t like oatmeal so I only gave her a little.  The teenage boys had the fullest bowls since they are our biggest eaters, and I figure they are the ones most likely to be ravenous by the end of the day. We all walked away from the meal knowing we’d been fed, but I don’t think any of us were truly full.  And I really, really missed my coffee.

At noon I was glad to get the split peas and rice cooking.  I made the rice in the rice cooker and cooked the split peas with a tablespoon of oil, half an onion, water, and some salt.  It just felt hopeful to have food simmering away.  Kids were definitely more focused on the food than usual, wandering into the kitchen to peek into pots.  Several of them had been hungry since 11:30 or so, but I held off serving lunch until 1:00, because I didn’t want the food to run out hours before the end of our day.

The plates of food at lunch looked more abundant than breakfast.  Once again I served carefully, trying to take usual appetites into consideration, but I was able to give kids basically normal sized servings.  There was enough left over that everyone who wanted seconds got them, and at the end of the meal there was about half a cup of split peas left over in the pot.  I promptly added a few cups of water to the pot and sloshed it around to clean the sides of the pot– I didn’t want to waste a bit.  Then I stuck the pot into the fridge.  This would be the start of the barley soup for dinner.

Around 2:30 I came back into the kitchen to start making the bread for dinner.  Unused to making only one loaf of bread at a time, I began with too much water, and had to add 2 more cups of flour, for a total of 6 cups of flour.  The dough is rising now and I’m guessing it will probably make nearly two loaves of bread.  I may save that second loaf til tomorrow.  Or that second loaf may be our bedtime snack.  In any case that boosts the day’s food cost to somewhere around $2.60.   I’m also looking at the cabbage in the fridge and thinking about adding that to the pot to make the soup more substantial.

This day has made me realize how automatically I tend to add ingredients to my recipes to make them more substantial, and how even ‘affordable’ ingredients can feel like luxuries when your budget is tight. Last night when I was laying out food to take a picture, I thought hard over eight cents worth of garlic before setting it aside.  I chose to put another carrot onto the pile instead.

Another small hard choice as I planned last night:  I thought of adding powdered milk to the oatmeal for a bit more protein.  Except 1/3 of a cup only provided 80 calories and cost 13 cents.  I chose instead to add another 1/2 cup of split peas, which provided triple the calories for only a dime.  I could make that choice because of access to nutrition charts, something else that mothers in poor countries don’t have.

And in floods more gratitude, along with the wish that mothers around the world didn’t struggle so much to feed their children.


2 Dollar Day

One of the most interesting books I ever read is called Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. It features photos of families from all over the world surrounded by one week’s worth of food.  Details are given regarding the size of the family and the price of the food purchased, and as you can imagine, there is a disparity between rich countries and poor ones.

Still these days there are people all over the world who feed their families for $2 a day. Two dollars.  The whole family.  Could you do it? I decided to join in with some other bloggers  (click) who are taking this challenge to see just how far it is possible to stretch $2 to feed a family.

I wasn’t quite sure how my family would feel about the challenge.  When I talked to John, he thought it was a great experiment.  However he is working a 13-hour shift today, so I am not including him in this challenge.  I was also pleasantly surprised by the kids’ reaction.  Along being slightly uneasy about the idea– what will we eat? will we be hungry? –they were also very intrigued. When it came to making choices regarding trade-offs, they gave me smart advice.  For example, when I asked if we should cook less rice so that we can have sugar on our oatmeal, they advised me to go with plain oatmeal.

I spent quite a bit of time pondering what to cook today.  I expected that beans would make the list.  But when I compared prices, split peas were a better deal.  Rice was not as inexpensive as I assumed.  Oats were an absolute star– 3 cups for only 35 cents. And a medium loaf homemade bread would give a huge boost to meal quantities for a small bit of money– 35 cents of ingredients should make a large loaf.

Here’s what we ended up with:

  • Oats- 1/2 lb (3 c.)
  • Split peas- 1 lb (2.5 c.)
  • Rice- 3/4 lb (2 c.)
  • Oil- 4 T.
  • Barley- 1/2 lb (1 c.)
  • Carrots- 2/3 lb (3)
  • Potatoes- 1 lb (4)
  • Onion- 1
  • flour – 1 lb (4 c.)
  • yeast- 1 T.
  • sugar- 1 T.

This is $2.47 worth of food.  In a way it seems like a tiny bit, especially for 8 people.  But when you compare it to a meal at McDonalds, it becomes obvious how much more you can get for your money by choosing ingredients carefully and cooking at home.  For 8 people this will be skimpy– a little more than 900 calories per person.  But it would easily feed four.  Here’s how it stacks up nutritionally:


And here’s our menu:

Breakfast- Oatmeal

Lunch- Split peas and rice

Dinner- Barley vegetable soup and bread

I could keep it right at $2 by taking out the potatoes and half the rice, but frankly, the above is as bare as I am willing to take it. And already, even just at the planning stage of all this, I have new insight into how a mom would short herself to put a little more in her kid’s stomach on a daily basis.  Also, I suspect there may be bedtime snacks in my kids’ futures today.

Because I can.  Unlike so many people in the world who take this challenge, for real, every single day, with no reserves.

Already, I am more thankful.  We will see how the day goes.


For more on this challenge visit 2 Dollar Day.  And here’s the blog of the founder of this challenge  Bring Love In.



Could you feed your family for a day for a couple bucks? Millions of people all over the world do it every single day. For more information, visit 2 Dollar Day. Or come back here tomorrow.


I am most thankful this Thanksgiving for family, and today am especially thinking of the generations who’ve gone before us. They taught us to work hard. They taught us to be honest, to be kind, to love each other, to value life. And they taught us to trust and serve God.

I had a dad who got tears in his eyes at the sight of a new baby. I had a grandmother who prayed for me every day right up to the last days of her life. Many other precious ones blessed my life before I was ever born, in ways I often take for granted.

I think of the way my husband works hard even if a job is not easy. The way my mother always finds a way to be calm, even in a storm. They bless me with these virtues because someone taught them those virtues. Today I am grateful for the folks who faithfully did the job God set before them, even when they were weary and the job was not easy. I pray that I can leave a similar legacy with my own life.

Photocredit: Avalanche Photography

Six and a half

“Mommy?” she says plaintively as I come into her dim room to kiss her before she falls asleep this evening.  “I wish I was seven and a half instead of six and a half.”

In a world where all your siblings are older than you, what little one wouldn’t pine to catch up?  But my heart catches at the thought of her not-6.

“You’ll be seven soon, ” I reassure her, snuggling into her neck and breathing in her little-girl self.  “But I’m glad you’re not seven yet because 6 year olds are wonderful!”

She giggles and I laugh too.  Inside me it feels more like a sigh. So fast. How can she be growing so fast?

But I have her now and I will enjoy.  Drink in the delight of my little girl right now, still young enough to slide down slides, innocent enough to be amazed by goats, unselfconscious enough to soak herself in the fountain, and tiny enough to fill just part of her Oma’s trim lap.


























Seven will be a wonderful age.   But now I will soak in all the joy that is six.




…the precious grubby hands that picked these berries…

Morning fun

I get to go run a 5k this morning!  Boise greenbelt, a friend to run with, hubby and kids cheering me on, chocolate and other goodies at the finish line.  Good fun!  Am hoping I can run 3.1 miles in less than 34 minutes, but we’ll see….   Wish me luck!

The house that built me

Over at Half-Pint House Megan linked to a Miranda Lambert music video that looked nostalgically back at her childhood home.  It got me thinking of memories from my own childhood home.

Through the magic of googlemaps, I was able to find a recent picture of my home, which looks almost exactly as I remember it from  childhood. I was a preacher’s kid, so we lived next to the church.  It was a sweet split-level house, with three bedrooms upstairs and a family room, office and another bedroom in the basement.  When we lived there, the garage was converted to living space which was used first as a church.  After the church was built next door, the garage space was used as a bedroom and an office.

When I think about that house, the very first thing that comes to my mind is sitting by the big front window that must have been single paned glass.  It got very cold in the winter.  I remember sticking my tongue against the window once, and for a few panic-stricken seconds freezing my tongue to the glass.  In one corner of the window, there was a tiny circular hole, I think from a neighbor boy’s BB gun.

I set up a doll hospital on the staircase that led from the front door up to the living room, and called it the Poke-Eye Hospital in honor of one of my dolls who had sustained an eye injury in my care. I remember the black wrought-iron railing that separated the staircase from the living room, and the green rocking chair that we used to spin each other in circles until we were sick to our stomachs.

Also high in my memory: my mother playing March From Aida loudly on the piano while we little kids marched from living room to dining room through kitchen with its orange-patterned 70’s carpet and back to the living room.

Behind our house was a public school.  On the road leading to that school, I learned to ride a bike with my dad running behind, had a major bike crash with a friend (there’s still a scar on my chin) and learned to drive stick shift on my dad’s green 1959 Chevy pickup truck.

Next to the house was our church.  I attended school there through the 8th grade, taught mostly by my dad, almost one-room schoolhouse style.  We played wiffleball at recess time in good weather– bases were painted on the church parking lot. (I preferred to sit in the outfield with a book.) In the winter we passed our recesses playing checkers and chess, doing gymnastics, and riding a balance board.  Most years the whole school consisted of fewer than 2 dozen kids, and I never had anyone in my grade until I started public school in the 9th grade.

In the little church on Sundays, my siblings and I sat in the back row, just in front of the organ, so that my momma could hiss ‘Be good’ warnings without missing a note on the organ.  My dad stood up front, singing with all his voice and soul, leaving no doubt Who had his heart.  When he made an especially impassioned point in a sermon, he’d rise up on his toes.  I was confirmed in that church, watched siblings being baptized in that church.  One unfortunate morning I also dropped my baby sister on her head in the cry-room.  She did indeed cry.  And I think my mother missed a few notes on the organ too.

In the back yard of our house grew the best oak tree ever.  I spent hours there, reading books, talking with siblings and friends, and occasionally having grand acorn fights with hapless victims down below.  A few times we climbed from the tree onto the roof of our house, peeking over the peak to watch cars drive by below, until a neighbor spotted kids on the roof, and pulled over to knock on our front door and tell our parents we were risking our necks.

Across the street lived my best friend Nicole.  We went swimming in her pool, took in our bell-bottom jeans on my mom’s sewing machine, walked together to the store 6 blocks away to buy Snickers bars, and sat on the church steps playing AC/DC and Van Halen music on our boom boxes.  One winter day we also fell into the frozen creek in the park behind our house, and had to walk back home dripping, wet pant legs freezing around our ankles.

When our family moved to Idaho when I was 16, my heart stayed for awhile back in Missouri in that little white house.  I didn’t believe that anyplace could be better than that one.  I found out later that there were other good homes, homes that would hold more of my memories close for me.  But the memories of my childhood home remain incredibly sweet.


Would you like to blog about the house that built you?  If you do, I hope you will leave a link to your post in comments, below.




Years ago when I was a new mom, I used to psych myself for a day of endless pampering on Mother’s Day, where I was the center of the day.  Then if bits of it still included less-pleasant moments, such as messy spills or squabbling kids, I ended up disappointed. These days I am much more laid-back in my expectations and consequently enjoy the day a lot more. And really, yesterday was completely wonderful.


Lovely thing #1: our 15 year old daughter was confirmed into adult membership at our church. Confirmation is a rite of passage in the Lutheran church. A young person goes through two years of Bible/catechism study and then stands before the church and publicly declares his or her faith by answering a series of questions based on truths taught in the Bible. Our 15 year old has been home from Ethiopia almost 4 years, and worked so hard to memorize and learn everything required. She got confirmed in the same class with her very best friends. They of course were nervous, but all were so sincere in sharing their faith. It was just a very moving testimony to the goodness of God to see our girl up there declaring her beliefs. We were proud. I know her first mom would have been so very proud of her too.

Lovely thing #2: ALL our children came to church and worshipped with us, including Amanda and Ben, and Erika and Israel. I am peaceful and comfortable with the fact that our married girls worship elsewhere now. Amanda and Ben home-church with several families including his parents, and Erika and Israel will be attending a large Christian church in our area where Israel is active. But, oh, it is sweet to have them all in church with us now and then. I treasured every minute of it yesterday.

Lovely thing #3: Hugs, handmade cards, facebook messages, hair pretties, sweet-smelling candles, and fudge from kids. Breakfast omelet from my hubby. I felt very loved.

Lovely thing #4: Dinner and movie night at our house. We had tons of yummy Ethiopian food, most made the day before by my 15yo daughter and me, so there wasn’t too much to do Sunday afternoon. All the kids were there, and my mom and dad were able to come as well.  We ate together, played some games, and watched a movie. Sweet.

Lovely thing #5:  It was a joy to see Erika and Israel together now that Erika is done with school.  They’re so happy to be together and it just puts a smile on my face to see their newlywed happiness. It is an equal joy to see Amanda and Ben together.  It blesses my soul in a deep and wonderful way to see our girls so treasured by their husbands. The growth of our family adds such richness to my life.


All that rambling to say, I had a wonderful Mother’s Day, where I felt so conscious of my many blessings.  Hope you had a day of similar loveliness.


Book winners:

#76- Kirsten: Adopt Without Debt

#55- Amy: No Biking in the House Without a Helmet