Sunday, December 18, 2011

Busy getting our hearts melted

She's been smiling to herself off and on since she was four weeks old, but now at almost seven weeks, Phoebe can smile back at you, which she is most likely to do if you're Daddy.  She also smiles when she's just sneezed or she's proud of herself for something, like holding onto your fingers while you pull her to sit upright.

Ezra* and Juni* have been sick for the past week, Ez is just starting to feel better and now me and Ben are sick too.  We missed having Christmas with Ben's family today, it was a bummer.  They Skyped with us so we could participate in the sibling white elephant gift exchange with them.  Debbi wrapped up a symbolic present from us with a note in it stating what it was that they would get from us next week when we see them all again to do Christmas.  We exchanged food items under $10 this time and we ended up "stealing" a giant Spiderman cookie since we had a very excited 5 year old boy sitting at the computer with us.

I've been finishing up some home made Christmas gifts this weekend while Ben is off work and can watch the kiddos while I'm upstairs sewing.  Today, we woke up to snow and decided to decorate Christmas cookies:

Later, this evening I was looking up something I knew I blogged about a long time ago and with Ben and Ezra looking over my shoulder, we had so much fun remembering how cute and little the kids were just two years ago.  I decided that I don't blog for other people, or rather, I don't need to, it's fun for me and we benefit from having a record of our adventures together.  I don't keep a scrapbook and I'm not the best at keeping up with the baby books or journals I've started for the kids.  Even though the knowledge that anyone could read what I write inhibits me at times (and should do), knowing someone (yes you, Grandma!) may read it, gives me enough accountability to keep it up.  I appreciate the grace to slack when I want or when I've birthed a baby, but it's time to get back on a schedule of some sort for cleaning toilets, making meal plans, doing school and blogging.  Well, let's get through the holidays, then we'll get super organized, eh?  Here's hoping!

*Formerly known as Z and Juju.  I like to keep my kids safe, but I also really like their real names, that's why I picked them.  Besides, their real names are all over FaceBook, so what's the point of trying to feign safety?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Just for Granparents

We were having a staring contest and she won...again.

Here she is doing her famous sleep watching.  It's a little creepy, but we still love her.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Just found this...

Not everyone has pictures from an ultrasound from the day they were born!  We had an appointment that morning, got this ultrasound and never even got a chance to show the pictures to Daddy before she was born that night!  This was my favorite view:
We're doing well, this is the easiest baby to adjust to.  She eats and sleeps well.  She even sleeps through the our noisy household of little people and two dogs.  She's just precious.  She has smiled even while awake (perhaps because of gas...), she often smiles in her sleep and today I got to hear her giggle in her sleep twice! I'm in love...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The New Wiglet

Still at the hospital, but wanted to share some pics with you!  
Introducing, Phoebe! She was 7lb 6.5 oz, 21" long.  I had four hours of labor, two big pushes and she was out!  Ben's mom was my mid-wife again, helping me secure a room with a birthing tub, a good nurse, and countless other perks I don't even realize.  Also present was Ben's Grandma Harris, Sister Bekah and Aunt Val.  It was a quick one, so Ben's two other sisters who live farther away couldn't make it.  I like to make it a party when I push babies out.  :-)  Ben was also there holding my head up out of the water the whole time I was in the tub and held my hand while I pushed on the table.  

Phoebe meet Daddy, Daddy...Phoebe. They were both smitten, even while she was covered with yuck and still had a cone head!
The next day, she got to meet her big brother and sister, who loved her crazy toes.  

 The kids had wanted to name her Chrysanthemum or Petunia...they took the name news like champs.  

 Our new WigFamily
We'll have to impress her later, she's been sleeping an awful lot these past two days!

Speaking of which...Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.........

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Still here, still pregnant.  My mom arrived Monday and it's all feeling rather real now, like we're really having a baby soon. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Favorite new thing

We've been getting so many beautiful heirloom tomatoes this year, I had to learn how to save seeds.  After watching a couple of YouTube videos on different methods, I opted for the simple route of using paper towels instead of letting the seeds ferment for weeks in jars.  
 After removing the seeds we threw the meat in our pot of salsa that we canned.  I spread the seeds out on dry papertowels sitting on plates.  Let them sit there and dry for one week.
 Once super duper dry, I folded the papertowels into fourths, put them in zip-lock baggies (making sure to get all the air out) and threw them in the bottom of my fridge.  We've saved cucumber, red raspberry, sweet pepper and ground cherry seeds as well.  So, our cheese drawer in the fridge is pretty full of seeds right now. I still want to save some pumpkin seeds from a special pumpkin we just got in our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) basket that is supposed to be awesome for pies.
The beautiful thing is that all we'll do next year when we do our starters is pinch off a piece of the paper towel with a seed on it and the towel draws moisture to the seed in the cup.  We save any styrofoam cups we come across all year long just for starting plants in the Spring.  With a hole in the bottom they make great plant starter containers.  

September Birthdays!

This week we had two birthdays that are close to my heart...Ben and Juju!  We had a party Saturday night in Mansfield with Ben's family at a Greek Restaurant.

 We had another party the next night with Grandma and Grandpa Claypoole (Ben's mom and step-dad) - she brought all the food (and I let her!)
And went out to eat Monday night with Ben's Dad!  Yup!  I got out of making dinner THREE nights in a row!    It was a full weekend of festivities for sure.  It was so nice to see so much family.  Happy Birthday guys!  It was fun!  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Finally got Started!

I share for those who are curious what one homeschool family does.  

My Story
I was excited to get started homeschooling.  So very much so that I tried to start a year ago, when Z was four and totally not ready to sit for long.  When "school time" failed miserably last year, I was nervous to try again.  I was sneaky all Summer (as I wanted to get started with the baby coming this Fall), and sneaked school in on him without ever calling it that.  For the record, I am a huge fan of Charlotte Mason, who believes that children should have no structured school time until the age of six.  That's one point that I take comfort in, yet slightly disagree with.  I think the earlier kids read the better, so if I can help that along when they're three or four, I will! Make them hate school, I will not.  I am prepared to fight the battle of "We are doing school now, like it or not" after age six, but not now.

So, after numerous people asked Z this Summer if he was starting school soon, I watched in amazement as he began to beg for school time.  Though we did tons of educational stuff over the Summer without his knowing it, we officially began "school" about four weeks ago.  I have read books upon books on Charlotte Mason approaches, Suzuki Pre-School, Organized Home-Schooling, etc.  and I took notes on the practical suggestions I liked.  Finally, I made them into a plan for us.  Since, I LOVE to read what other moms do, their schedules, how they fit housework, chores, school and life into a week, I thought I'd share our rough, informal schedule that we've just begun.  My final disclaimer is that I cast no judgement on anyone who does not homeschool, we may not always do this ourselves!  We will take it year to year, child by child.  I was very nervous to start, and now that we have, I can see how low the stakes are for preschool/kindergarten.  In Ohio, I don't even have to report our homeschooling to the state yet as he's not six yet.  Pretty much anything I do educationally with him is great, as long as it doesn't give him a bad taste in his mouth for learning.

What We Do
I pick three days of the week between Tuesday and Saturday (Daddy's work days) to do school and allow myself the other two days to shop, work on my giant nesting to-do list or make plans with others.  Those three chosen days are completely dedicated to school, even though it only takes a couple of hours.  It's my black and white way of making sure school happens.

We have been rotating through four sets of school work, so with a three day week, one week never looks the same as another.

School Days
6:30am I wake up, get ready and make last minute preparations for school time
7:30am Wake Kids Up, they eat and dress
8:30am-9am Start school.  Review day of week and what we'll do that day.
10am snack time whether we're done with school or not
10-11am finish school
11-11:30 Z helps Juju on "" while I make lunch
11:30 Lunch
Noon - Clean up house together, do dishes, etc./free time to play Legos until quiet time
1pm - Quiet time
2:30 -  Get them up if they fell asleep - I only make them stay in their room reading for an hour if they can't sleep - Half hour TV show to wake up if they slept, no TV if they never slept
3pm - Start Supper - kids have free time or can help me in the kitchen
4pm - Straighten up last time before Daddy gets home, send kids outside if weather permits
4:45 - Daddy gets home and mows or splits wood for a half hour lately - kids help
5:30 - Supper Time
6pm - Clean up Kitchen
6:30pm - Ben has been playing with the kids outside so I can work on my "nesting list" right now I'm making dog coats for the Winter
8pm - Library Movie/Snack Time
8:30pm - Get Ready for Bed, Story Time, Pray, Blessing, then kids read in bed
9pm - Lights out! Mommy preps for next day of school, Daddy folds laundry

Ben and I tend to go to bed between 9 and 10pm depending how well we slept the night before.  We still do a giant family bedroom, but the kids have their own beds.  Below is our classroom.  The rug was $10 from Menards, the cube chairs $15 each from WalMart - the kids like to sit in them.  I stashed all the puzzles in mine.  The chalk board/white board was $7 at a garage sale.  The metal shelves holding their cubbies and the paper supplies were $15 at Lowe's.  The purple shelves we've had from a garage sale years ago, but I bought way too much plum paint to give them a fun face lift for the classroom.  Let me know if you need anything painted "plummy".  The big bookcase I paid way too much for ($80) a while back for our living room, but now it holds all the kids' books, which is fun.  We have a big green couch facing the bookshelves for cuddling and reading on.  We are fortunate to have what we called a "music room" (aka a formal living room) that we could make space for homeschooling in.

OK, so here's the rotation schedules of school: you'll notice there's a pattern of Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Bible everyday with something fun thrown in.  Sometimes a lesson only takes 5 minutes, sometimes it's 30, it just depends on how attentive he is, how cooperative Juju is, and how much I have to do with them.

School Day "A"

  • Math: How to tell time
  • Practice identifying letters and numbers with Juju
  • Reading: Word Quiz (Jelly beans for reading words correctly) or Letter Bag where we go around house filling a bag with things that start with the letter "G"
  • Writing: Practice writing name on white board
  • Bible time*
  • Games - just playing kids board/card games
Writing Activity from a "D" Day

School Day "B"

  • Bible Time*
  • Puppet Play - we pull out the couch and take turns telling each other stories with puppets (I always tell the Bible story we read with puppets)
  • Math - Money
  • Reading - Poetry Books 
  • Write letters to family - kids get to pick who we send it to.  Letters currently look more like artwork, but they see me write a little letter to the person to go with it.

School Day "C"

  • Science - we're currently learning the 5 senses and had fun doing taste tests and sniff tests, etc.
  • Reading - Lesson out of "Teach your child to read in 100 Easy Lessons" - I write the letters and words he needs to read on the white board ahead of time so we're not stuck with our noses in a book for this.
  • Writing - Write letters from 100 Easy Lessons in lasagna dish sprinkled with corn meal, jello or whipped cream
  • Math - Addition & Subtraction with lighting and blowing out candles.  This sounds dangerous, I know, but I only have two kids at this time and I do all the lighting for now.  That's why we homeschool, so we can do crazy things like this if we want.  I definitely need to think of something else once baby is here.
  • Bible Time*
  • Fun Box - I have a box full of activities: crafts, balloons, special sticker books we were given, Wonder Coloring books, felt coloring pages, marshmallows and toothpicks to build, etc.  and let the kids pick an activity out of the box (almost all are in a gallon ziplock baggy for easy picking).  
Today was a "D" day and Z's  improv story was about a "colorful boy" who had no hair and as he ate different colored candies, which he is holding, his hair grew in different colors until he had a whole head full of colorful hair.  

School Day "D"

  • Word Scavenger Hunt OR Improv Storytelling with Pictures (this is where we take turns making up stories and drawing them on the white board or chalk board as we tell them) Yes, Juju participates too!
  • Writing: Make letters with sticks, rocks, beans, etc.  
  • Math: Count the sticks, rocks, beans, etc. that we made the letters with
  • Bible Time*
  • Reading: Kids choice of books, read for a half hour
  • Art Project - This is different every week and I have to plan and prep ahead for it
This is our art room (aka mudroom), recently renovated thanks to my nesting and a useful husband

*Bible Time is a structured time the kids love because it involves candy.

  • Scripture Memory Verse (right now we're doing the Lord's Prayer, so we open up with that).  
  • Review the Old Testament Books of the Bible (thanks to this CD from my father-in-law we have a song to sing them to)
  • Catechism (we use this book.  They get 2 jelly beans or m&ms if they answer correctly even if helped by each other, but only one if I have to help them and they repeat after me).  We've been doing the same five questions over and over.  
  • Bible story.  I read it from this book for two days, then this book for two days, then from my Bible.  Then we change stories.  I hope to get this one someday for even more variety.

That's Bible Time!

My Weaknesses: Ben helps round me out as I don't tend to get them outside as much as I should.  He keeps them moving, wrestles, outside every night, etc.  My excuse is being 34 weeks pregnant.  We recently added "Stretches" to begin our school days, and we have a dance time nearly every day while we're cleaning, so we do get a little movement in.  Later my weaknesses will include, but not be limited to: Science, History, Advanced Math, etc.  Thankfully, those are areas my husband enjoys and is good at.

New Variable: Can I keep this up after Baby comes in six weeks?  Thankfully, I started secret undercover school at the beginning of Summer and can afford a lovely two-three month break over the holidays after baby arrives.  After that, I do feel like, for the most part, we can do school this way.  It's getting dinner on the table and keeping the house clean that seems more daunting as I have to be on my feet using my hands, but that's what slings are for, right?  My back hurts just thinking about maybe don't come see our house for about a year after baby is born, ok?

Keeping it Fun: Z and I get bored with routine quickly, so that's why the schedule is ever changing and mixing things up, but even the above schedule can get monotonous, so I plan to ditch it every once in a while and do unit studies (like study everything Dinosaurs for one month).  For now, I keep notes on what he likes and doesn't as well as big successes or deficiencies in his learning.  Week to week I've mixed up and customized the above schedules to meet Z's likes/dislikes and needs based on my observations.  Though school time is currently geared for Z, Juju participates in everything we do by her own choice.  Once in a while she pulls out a puzzle and skips reading time, but usually she wants to do it too, especially if there's candy involved!

The Socialization Issue: Thankfully, we are finally getting our out of control social lives a little more restrained now.  We were going, going, going, doing, doing, doing.  It wasn't good for my kids and I admit, it was a form of avoidance of home responsibilities on my part.   So, the two things I wanted most to be awesome in, being a wife and mother, were both weak at best the more we did.  I felt God's Spirit leading me to "defluff" our busy lives in January this year, and I stepped down from Mommy Group leadership, teaching classes at a large and wonderful homeschool co-op, even attending it as it was a half hour away and generally stopped making constant social plans like weekly playdates, etc.  Now, we have a monthly local homeschool co-op that I started with some friends, we had our first field trip last week to Hartzler's Dairy.  We still meet with our Guatemalan friends weekly for about 3-4 hours.  The kids are picking up Spanish really fast, which is fun for us to hear.  They look forward to church every week and monthly family gatherings and go with Daddy to play with the neighbor kids regularly.  So, we still do plenty, we're just learning to curb our overly social lives and find some moderation.

In Conclusion:
I confess all Summer I was really nervous to make the big change toward structure and "formal" school time, but we are all enjoying it.  It's still very flexible and like I said, the stakes are low in Kindergarten, anything we do together is good, as long as it breeds a love of learning.  Next year will not look like this, I'm sure.  We may do another year of "Kindergarten" if we need, or start some first grade stuff, we'll see where Z is at.  Right now, he is preschool level writing, Kindergarten level reading and math, first grade letter and number identification and sounds.  So, he says he's in Kindergarten, but it's not really that simple.

Thanks for reading, now you know what we've been up to.  BTW, if you call during school, we won't answer the phone.  But we'll call you back after lunch when I'm needing a good excuse not to clean.  :-)

Friday, September 9, 2011

The wee turkeys aren't so wee any more

Just thought I'd share what our flock is looking like these days...

Here we have Tom and Hen Turkey with some Ameraucanas (green egg layers) and a Welsummer on the right (brown egg layer)
Yes, his face turns blue when he's gotten himself worked up. He has done a great job protecting the whole flock, though Buddy doesn't like him much as Tom isn't afraid of him and will charge at him if provoked. They stay in their fenced in area and usually this isn't a problem.
Here's one of our newest feather-footed Brahmas. We have four of them and an all black Jersey Giant. None have started laying yet, but it won't be long!
A few months back we had to slaughter one of our Ameraucana chickens because she wouldn't stay in their fenced in area and was getting into the neighbor's garden. Last week, we had to slaughter a female turkey because she started pecking "Shorty" one of our favorite chickens till her head was bleeding. Here she is in the cage of doom.
She almost looks sorry doesn't she? Ben did all the work, we all watched. Juju was a bit upset afterwards, but only for a minute. I found myself eating tomatoes out of the garden while the execution took place. We're all getting a bit tougher. I threw one of her feet in my last batch of chicken stock I was making, as I heard chicken feet help make wonderful stock. I saved the other one with the frozen turkey meat which we're saving for a holiday this year.

We still have a male and female turkey, and as long as they can behave, we hope they'll stick around to make baby turkeys next year for us. We'll see!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Canning the moment

Here's our lives at a glance right now at 4pm Monday, August 22, 2011:

  • Juju is wearing size 9/10 mud boots now
  • She potty trained herself in three days a couple of weeks ago.  I'd asked her every day for months if she'd prefer big girl undies or a diaper.  She was finally ready.  

  • Z is size 13, but can wear his first pair of men's size 1 that I never thought he'd grow into...

  • Both are in bed napping, probably growing their feet more...
  • Ben is at a church checking to make sure the air conditioners are working, he split wood all morning as today is his day off.  Here he is cooking pizzas at the Farmer's Market:

  • I am listening to "Yesterday" by the Beatles on Pandora while I sit here updating you.  I spent all morning making pancakes and canning tomatoes.  I am surrounded by little messes that I want very badly to disappear, but they wait for me, sleeping, and probably growing too.  
  • We had a family lunch together before naptime...I asked Juju what she wanted for her birthday, she said "stars".  She continued, "I like stars, toys and flowers."  I misheard, "You like boys?" I asked.  She quickly responded, "I don't like boys, they're wild...I like you."  I like you too, Juju.  
  • Baby #3 wiggles more than her siblings ever did, but right now tries to sleep through her hiccups.  
  • Yesterday, Ben canned his third batch of pickles.  
  • Last week, I had the best day ever canning peaches with my little ones.  Z loved peeling the skins off.  They told me stories for an hour as I cut the peaches open and they removed the pits.  I told Ben I wished I could can our day today.  He said, "You did."  
Here's hard worker #1 canning peaches last week

This is all that remained and I found this awesome peach jelly recipe to make using the pits and peels.  Ours turned out great and we didn't even have to water bath them!

Here's hard worker #2 this morning using a big girl knife for the first time!!!

Our dining room table hasn't been this happy since it had authentic Indonesian food served on banana leaves on it!  

We have lots of work yet to do, but it's all very rewarding.  Time to wake the sleepy hard workers.  I need to make dinner too.  Stir fry again (so many veggies this time of year!!!)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

More Birthdays!!!

A special Happy Birthday today, to my Dad who is serving our country in Afghanistan for six months.  Last weekend he crossed his halfway mark, so he's on the downhill now.  We're excited for him to come to Ohio to meet the baby just a few weeks after she is born.  Thankfully, we can Skype and it won't be that long before he sees her.  I sent him a package and it got to him in less than a week, so he's been waiting for over a week to open it today.  I hope the rice krispy treats are still good!!  Happy Birthday, Dad!

Well, it's August, dare I share August birthdays for Ben's family in August!?!  I think I dare!!  This past week we had yet another very special birthday.  Grandpa H. turned the big 8-0!  Yay, Grandpa!!  This is quite an achievement!  Grandpa H. used to work as a mechanic at a Chrysler/Honda service center and also taught auto shop at the local high school until he retired.  Now he works part time driving cars for a dealer who buys cars at auction and full time as the family mechanic/handy man.  
Here he is doing driving his boat at the cabin in WV with a wee little Z.  He and Grandma are the primary caretakers of the cabin.  We know he loves to be in WV as much as his father-in-law, who built the cabin, did.  Happy birthday, Grandpa!!  We love you!!

Finally, Grandma H. (aka Gramma) has a birthday just a week after Grandpa!  Grandma also serves a very important bonus role in the family (besides Queen Mum), she was an OB nurse and supervisor until she retired and now fields many of the family's medical questions on a daily basis!  Here she is holding a brand new Juju.  Happy Birthday, Gramma!

We are so thankful for all the ways Grandpa and Grandma bless our family - I'm especially thankful they adopted me 14 years ago when I married their grandson.  

Here's a birthday present for you all that I can't give you any other way, it's a photo and videos of Z's Christmas pageant last year.  I never got around to posting them!

I know it cuts off the right side, but Z is on the left anyways.  He's below the most left cow.  Happy holidays! I mean, Happy Birthday!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

good food, locally

Our church has grown and is planting a church in Strasburg, which is the town just North of us.  The new pastor and his wife, Heather, are just lovely and only moved here last week.  I talked to Heather this week about where to get food and told her I'd write up where we've learned to get food after 13 years of living in the area.  This is what I wrote for her and I share publicly in hopes that it will benefit someone else locally too.

Last year, we committed to eating locally as much as possible within reason.  Along with that went our use of the big chain food stores.  We have one local chain grocery store that, when we couldn't get something locally, we could rationalize that at least we were supporting a truly local business.  The following is a list for locals of where we get our food in Tuscarawas County.  I told Heather that we don't go to Aldi's anymore because we can't get all our groceries there and it's too hard with kids to make multiple stops, but as you will see, it's not about that at all (because we go a lot of different places).  The prices may be cheap, but how far did the food travel to get there?  Who is my money supporting?  What were the animals fed who's meat or dairy products I'm eating?  How were the workers treated at the factories that packaged the food?  How much packaging am I paying for and having to figure out how to dispose of?

We're not perfect, our eating habits and purchasing habits are a work in progress.  I'd love to eat less sugar, but currently we are not on any special diet, we only try to eat locally and naturally.  This is where we're at right now:

Eggs: Our chickens in our backyard.  Farmer's Market for above and beyond needs.

 Our solar-paneled chicken coop and garden

Produce: We try our best to eat what's only in season and therefore can get most of this from one of the three farmer's markets in our area during the Summer months.  We have one early Tuesday mornings at Tuscora Park in New Philadelphia, one on Wednesday afternoons at the fairgrounds (there's a cute guy cooking pizzas there most every week too!!  He says he's Scottish-Italian, like "Wigtonio" or something) from 3-7pm and one at Dover park on Thursday mornings till about 10am.  This year we have three primary ways we're getting produce: our CSA through Shepherd's Market (a vendor on Wednesdays), our community garden through church and our backyard.  We're usually pretty set between them all.  The Shepherd's Market delivers through the Winter and kept us stocked with purple carrots almost all Winter long.  It was wonderful!

Our first CSA basket with lavendar jam  

Meat: We bought a half beef from Shepherd's Market last Fall which was so big we'll only need to buy a quarter beef this Fall.  We bought 25 chickens from the Geiser farm in Kidron, Ohio.  Both farms treat their animals well and do not give them any hormones or steroids.  Before last Fall, we bought our meats from Sugar Valley Meats in Sugarcreek.  I believe all their meat is steroid and hormone free, but I can't vouch for how happy the chickens were at Gerber's or wherever the beef comes from locally.  We still buy pork from them, we just try not to eat much of it since it's not "kosher".
Where we get our seafood.  :-)

Milk: The Shepherd's Market people hooked us up with their neighbor who is Amish.  After personally inspecting his farm, we bought into his herd (called a herd share) and pay a monthly fee of $24 for boarding of the cows.  He sends a gallon of raw milk to the farmer's market every week with the Shepherd's market people.  As I mentioned before, the Shepherd's Market still make deliveries to our area through the Winter, they go to the Daily Grind Cafe in New Philadelphia every other Wednesday, so we can get deliveries of milk year round.  Before we started this we were paying more for milk per month buying Hartzler's pasteurized, non-homogenized milk from Buehler's.

Bread: About 40% of the time I make my own.  My best recipes are this one and this one.  In the school year I bake a little more, but this Summer I've been relying heavily on store bought bread.  I am a fan of the Brownberry whole grains line.  I mainly check for cellulose which we began to avoid after reading this article. I always knew Frosties were too good to be true.

Beans and Rice: These are staples at our house.  I buy hard beans from the grocery store and use my pressure cooker to make them.  I buy Jasmin or other short grain white or brown rice from the Oriental Food Store in Canton.  I buy Basmati and lentils, Indian spices, pureed garlic and ginger from the Indo-Asian Grocer in Canton.

Spices: I love to go to Sugar Valley Bulk Foods in Sugarcreek for these since they're so cheap.  I try not to go crazy there because it's mostly mystery food (and spices).  I have no idea why the King Arthur flour there is less than half the price of King Arthur flour at the grocery store.  It bothers me a bit.  Not enough to begin a full fledged investigation, but I wonder still...

Flour, Sugar and other baking stuff: I usually buy flour in bulk from one of the Amish bulk food stores around here.   The closest one to me is next door to KFC at the Dover exit by the highway, but they have a better selection at SV Bulk Foods in Sugarcreek.  I have been hearing lots from nurse, Joel Lehman at church about different local mills.  I think Baltic Mills is one of them.  I've checked out Magnolia's Mill myself and they only grind wheat flour these days.

Lunch Meat: This is a luxury for us as we're a bit picky.  We only eat turkey and only nitrate free, unprocessed meat.  So, we pay $8 a pound at Buehler's or Giant Eagle (yes, we do go there too) or we drive all the way to Walnut Creek Cheese and pay $4.25 a pound.  Usually, we don't have lunch meat, we eat leftovers or peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  If I do go to WC Cheese, I buy a bunch in half pound bags (nitrate free goes bad quickly) and freeze them.

Cheese and Butter: We like cheese and butter that Minerva Dairy makes and Shepherd's Market sells.  I've driven to the dairy myself to save money and found that with the drive, I didn't save any money after all.  I buy the roll butter in bulk and just freeze it, same with the cheese.  I'll get a 10-12 lb. hunk of cheese, cut it up, freeze it.  A fun local place to go is Yaggi's Cheese in Stonecreek, just South of New Phila.
Krantz Berries

Pretty much we go to Buehler's or Giant Eagle for everything else (tea, chips, etc.).  I'm being challenged to can more and try my hand at making more.  I've started making my own yogurt, croutons, laundry soap, softener, shampoo and I canned peaches for the first time this year.   Every year we add something new to our canning repertoire.  We will or have already canned sour kraut, pickles (Ben did both of those this year), diced tomatoes, and salsa.  We freeze jam, corn and apple sauce every year.  We also have started storing potatoes, apples and onions in our garage during the Winter months.  I bought 100 pounds of seconds potatoes from Shepherd's Market for $20 last year and they were organic and five different colors.  We get apples for sauce and storing from Hillcrest Orchard in Walnut Creek.  Oooh, I just noticed on their site, they have peaches too!  I just bought my first peck of peaches from the farmer's market, but maybe I'll go there for the next two.   One peck didn't can very much (10 pints).  We pick strawberries during their season at Krantz Berry Farm in Dover.  I got my other berries at the Goodings Market stand on your way to Sugarcreek near the Dover exit. The corn I package for freezing en mass with several family members in Mansfield and Grandma gets good sweet corn from a road side stand for us to do that.  Last year I froze 7 dozen, this year I'm upping it to 10.

Making Apple Sauce in the Victorio Strainer

 We found Discount Drug Mart met our requirements for local business more than CVS, so we try to mostly go there for drug store stuff.  For dining out, that's a real luxury with kids!  We have to go all the way to Canton for good Indian food that I don't have to make myself (The Bombay Sitar) or a Chipotle (not a local but happy meat).  We have several good Mexican restaurants in our area.  El Campesino's in Strasburg is one of the best.  I think that about covers it!  Sorry if this was boring for any one out of town.  This post was written for people new to the area.  Happy Eating!!!