What will you do when you’re retired??

As Mr. LL and my respective mothers ask us about early retirement.

“Well, what do YOU do?” we are tempted to respond to our respective mothers, one of whom is retired and the other of whom is a stay-at-home-mom.  If Mr. LL and I have kids, and are able to retire, we’ll do stay-at-home-parent stuff, and if we don’t have kids and are retired, we’ll do retirement stuff.  However, this is a bit of a glib answer and we don’t respond in this way.  But it is also hard to exactly describe what early retirement might look like.

We want to do even more outdoor recreation – camping, hiking, backpacking, biking, kayaking, snowshoeing, exploring state and national parks – whatever strikes our fancy.  And we want to do it off-peak, so that we aren’t always competing with the weekend rush to the mountain.  I am interested in doing even more baking and cooking and culinary experimenting, as well as more sewing, knitting, and gardening.  I want to learn more Spanish and Japanese, and get better at playing the flute.  I want to learn how to make furniture.  I want to be able to draw and do oil paint portraits.  I want to try new jobs and volunteer without worrying about career gaps or lack of experience.

Maybe I want to do these things and stay in my current job.  Or go half-time in my current job.  I want to always have goals that I am striving toward.  I want to develop expertise in something.  I want to spend a lot of time with my family.



Considerations in having kids

When I was a teenager and young adult, I didn’t think I wanted kids, despite having always liked them and enjoyed being with them.  I ended up becoming an elementary school teacher and have found things to like about every age I’ve taught from preschool to ninth grade.  When I got married, I thought that I would want kids for sure, but in some nebulous future.  Future-me would want them even if present-me didn’t have any desire for them.  Maybe in 4-5 years or so.

Well, it’s the future and I am still on the fence.  Love my nieces, but also love to give them back.  Love my students, but also love to go home.  Love my free time and my time with my husband.  People say it’s different if it’s yours, priorities change, etc.

Maybe there are people out there who wanted kids and regret having them, but human psychology militates against this happening frequently or pervasively.  Alternatively, maybe there are people who never wanted kids and don’t regret not having them.

And maybe people who are on the fence like me fall on both sides.

Although Mr. LL and I are all frugal now, money isn’t what keeps us from making the leap into totally wanting kids NINE MONTHS FROM NOW.  Maybe in a year or two.  (Which is pretty much what we’ve been saying for about 6 years now.)  I’ve taught in both Title I schools and private schools.  There are delightful, happy, and well-adjusted kids everywhere, regardless of socioeconomic status.  I believe that children cost as much as you are willing to spend on them.  It’ll cost some amount more than we currently spend, but we will have to decide when the time comes just how much that amount is.

I think human nature being what it is, in the future I will probably not regret having kids if I have them, but will probably regret not having them.  This is just for me, someone who is ambivalent about having kids, but with my ambivalence a little closer to the having kids side.

DIY: Pancake mix for camping

Normally we buy Bisquick mix so that we can make pancakes when we’re car camping, but I wanted to try making a mix that we could just add water to with ingredients that we already have in the kitchen.

Just-Add-Water Pancake Mix

  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. powdered milk
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 T. meringue powder (optional, but provides some of the benefits of adding eggs, in addition to a nice meringue crust on the pancakes)

Mix all ingredients together and add between 1/2 and 3/4 cup of water per cup of dry mix when you make the pancakes.

Recipe: Kneadless White Bread

Here is a bread recipe that I have adapted from Nancy Baggett’s book for no-knead bread recipes.  I have cut her recipe in half so it only makes one loaf, and I have fiddled with the flour and water ingredients, and incorporated leftover whey from yogurt-making and sourdough pour-off.  If you don’t have starter, increase flour by 1/2 c. and whey by 3 oz.

Easy White Bread

makes 1 loaf

  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. high gluten flour (like Sir Lancelot from King Arthur Flour)
  • 2/3 c. sourdough starter
  • 2 1/2 T. canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 T. sugar
  • 1/2 T. salt
  • 1/2 t. yeast
  • 8 oz. cold whey

Mix flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in large bowl.  Mix wet ingredients together.  Stir wet ingredients into dry.  Dough should be stiff.   Brush or spray with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-10 hours.  Then let rise at cool room temperature for 15-20 hours.

Stir dough, then press into loaf pan and let rise covered for 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours.  Remove cover when dough nears the top of the pan.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  When dough is about 1/2 in. above pan top, lower oven temp to 400 and bake for about 40-45 min.  Cool in pan for 10 min.

Recipe: Sourdough bread!

I finally had the chance to make a true sourdough bread from my homemade starter.  I have been using the pour-off from the starter for various things, including pretzel knots and sandwich bread (recipe coming soon!).  However, this is my first bread that I can say has a true sourdough flavor.  This recipe is adapted from Nancy Baggett’s Kneadlessly Simple, a book on no-knead breads.

San-Francisco Style Sourdough Bread

  • 3 1/2 c. (17.5 oz.) bread flour or all-purpose flour (I use all-purpose with Sir Lancelot flour as the extra flour)
  • 1 3/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. instant yeast
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 2/3 c. sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 c. whey

Stir flour, salt, and yeast in large bowl.  Whisk oil, starter, and whey in another container, then add to the dry ingredients.  You will want a very stiff dough, so add extra flour if needed.  Spray with oil, cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate 3-10 hours.  Let rise at cool room temperature 18-24 hours.

Stir dough, adding extra flour if necessary.  Fold sides toward center then let rest 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with 3-4 T. of flour, and work flour into dough.  Dust with flour, then form dough into a round.  Transfer to an oiled Dutch oven.  Dust with flour again and cut cross-hatches (3 parallel slices bisected by 3 parallel slices in the opposite direction) across the top.  Cover pot and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours until doubled.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Reduce heat to 425.  Bake covered for 55 min.  Uncover and sprinkle top of dough with water.  Bake approximately 10 min.  Cool on rack for 10 min.  Cool thoroughly.

Note: You will really be able to smell the ripe starter doing its work after the second rise.  I got a big whiff of alcohol when I took the plastic wrap off!

Adventures in gardening

Last week I was talking with a coworker of mine who has his own garden, and I told him that I wanted to try starting one of my own, but I wanted to learn more about gardening before I attempted anything.  He suggested that I just try planting the seeds and see what happens.  This conversation was inspiring because I am often reluctant to try new things unless I’ve done a lot of research before hand.  Part of this is because I have to buy materials and other resources, and some of it is probably just my personality.  I want to know what I’m getting into.  However, this same personality trait sometimes prevents me from trying new things because I get daunted by my research, which makes things sound really complicated and tiresome.  My research on gardening made it sound like I would have to wade through a lot of contradictory advice on what to plant and how, and that it would be a lot more expensive in terms of water.

However, this weekend I decided to go ahead and take my friend’s advice.  I did some preliminary research on what would be good late summer/fall seeds to plant, and I headed out to Fred Meyer and bought packages of seeds for:

  • Purple plum radishes
  • Endive
  • Broccoli
  • Onion
  • Gourmet lettuce blend

I hope that something ends up growing, because I know that I would feel more encouraged to try growing other produce and invest more time in gardening.  I also hope that I have other opportunities to try little things to see if I get satisfaction out of them before I decide to plunge headlong into them.

Crossfit milestone: 80k deadlift!

One of my favorite things that Crossfit instructors do is watch you do exercises to make sure you have good form and don’t hurt yourself.  They also help you challenge yourself by showing variations on different movements, or ways to get that little bit more out of a movement so that you can do 80 kilo deadlifts!  Yay!  Granted, I only did two reps before I felt like my form broke down, but that’s two more than I’ve ever done before.