Enjoy Your Family, Your Freedom and a Freebie!

We’ve been in celebration mode around here and midnight approaches as I type this post.  Independence Day is big stuff in our family.  Not only is it the birthday of the Good Ole’ USA – it’s Smuffy’s birthday as well.  I’m afraid the announcement of July’s First Friday Freebie has only existed in the recesses of my mind due to all the other things at the top of my list.

Now that the fireworks ash has settled, let’s take a look at July’s Freebie –

Enjoy the Little Things Metal Art Freebie www.midweststoryteller.com

Everyone loves a little word art these days and this bit of wood and metal is just the thing to remind us that the smallest things in life that bring us the most joy.  When we lose the ability to appreciate a baby’s cooing, a flaming sunset, the purring of a kitten or the idea of winning a gift we can keep for ourselves or give away to bless someone else, we likely have become obsessed with things that don’t really matter in the long run.

This 6”X6” wooden reverse box-top is deep enough to sit on a shelf without toppling if you choose not to hang it on the wall and the raised metal lettering is eye-catching and stylish for anyone’s décor. I left the corner protectors on for this photo, but you get the idea.

All my Freebies occur on the First Friday of each month and last for one day only, so share with all your friends and family TODAY through social media, that dinosaur of a thing called email or that rarely used technique of communicating called conversation.    

Good intentions will not help you enter to win before midnight tonight so you had better navigate to the comment section now and do that before you forget!

To enter to win the wood and metal reverse box-top décor, all you need to do is “Leave a Comment” on this post, saying, “I enjoy the little freebies!”  You’ll need to do that before midnight TONIGHT, June 5th, 2019!

First Friday Freebies are for email SUBSCRIBERS ONLY.  You can subscribe by going to the right sidebar or use the menu to navigate to the “Contact” page and subscribe to Midwest Storyteller if you haven’t done so already.  Confirming your subscription through the confirmation email you’ll receive is absolutely necessary, so don’t forget that!

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest are great ways to share First Friday Freebies with your friends.  They won’t know if you don’t tell them!

Subscribers win every single month!  See past gifts and their winners on my “Freebies” page.

Remember, a winner will be chosen at random from those subscribers who enter before midnight tonight by leaving a comment which says, “I enjoy the little freebies!”

I send First Friday Freebies out to any winner who lives within the continental United States.  For the complete First Friday Freebie rules, CLICK HERE

Glitches happen.  If you subscribe and do not receive a confirmation email for some reason, please email me and let me know at barb@midweststoryteller.com

Freebies last one day only!  Enter now so you don’t forget!

A Belated Happy Independence Day Everyone!

June’s Freebie Winner!

I’m always excited to see who wins my monthly giveaway.  Let’s meet June’s winner of the First Friday Freebie –

June's Freebie Winner Francine www.midweststoryteller.com

Francine from Boonville, Missouri!

Congratulations, Francine!

I know you’ll find plenty of things to do with these fancy, tasseled, copper paper clips and all six rolls of that nifty color-coordinated washi tape.

The fun paper clips are from Paige Evans’ line called Pink Paislee.  They are just the type of thing I love to use as a bookmark for favorite spots in a recipe book, planner or anything else I want to make a quick grab for.

The washi tape by Pebbles at pebblesinc.com and all the colors and patterns go great with the tassled paper clips.  If you’re new to the washi tape scene, you can find out more about it in the original Freebie post here.

You can enter to win every month on the first Friday.  Share Midwest Storyteller with all your friends via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest (or be old fashioned about it and just tell them)!  Subscribers receive an email on the first Friday each month reminding them to leave a comment that will enter their name in the drawing.

Check out my Freebies page to see the winners and the gifts they’ve won here at Midwest Storyteller.

Don’t dawdle!  The next drawing happens on Friday, July 5th.  With the holiday, you’re bound to forget, so subscribe now and you’ll receive an email reminder.

Only SUBSCRIBERS can win!

A winner will be chosen at random from those subscribers who enter before midnight on the day of the drawing by leaving a comment as instructed in the post.  See the recently revised rules below.

Be sure to take a moment make yourself familiar with the Freebie Rules by clicking HERE.

These four simple steps will have you ready to enter to win on July 5th.  

Enjoying the Freebies?  Leave a comment!  If you’re on your computer, scroll back up under the title of this post and let me know what you’re thinking.  On various devices, you may find “Leave a Comment” at the bottom of the post.

Don’t Blame the Cat – the Spaghetti Squash Did It!

If you live in the United States (and perhaps even if you don’t), you’ve heard about and seen video of the flooding that is devastating the Midwest.  Though it didn’t arrive here as early as in other places, it did come in full force.  Although the experts tell us that it hasn’t reached the Great Flood of ’93 levels, you couldn’t tell it by appearances.  I thought the best example I might give you is a photo of the same location that I used as the background to the heading of this blog.

Katy Bridge View, Flood of 2019 www.midweststoryteller.com

Where, O where, you ask, did the railroad tracks go?  They’re under all that water somewhere.  I’m not so sure that journey would lead you to a better place! We have a picturesque park that offers visitors a breathtaking view of the Missouri River and all the beautiful countryside of the neighboring county to the north of us. This became our new view from Lookout Point of all those farms, fields and homes. 

Missouri River Flood of 2019 www.midweststoryteller.com

The sight of that barn roof poking out of the water is enough to sicken you.  While the water mark may not have reached the previous record, “Enough,” as Mary Poppins said, is as good as a feast.”  Enough!

Though we live on high ground, we have not been immune to watery woes.  If the river reaches my door, we are all in trouble, folks!  The rains, coming often and lasting long, did give us a bit of a taste of what’s happening on the other side of the river and since it is better to laugh than cry when life gives you lemons and enough water to make lemonade for everyone in the country, I thought I’d share a what happened here during the flooding in May.  No photos, though – no time for that!  Read on, for this one goes to show you that it is not always Smuffy who finds himself in the middle of mayhem and mishap.

A glance at the clock told me I had two hours to go unless someone showed up early and someone always does.  I was in my element!  Over the years, I’d lost count of friends who’d referred to me as Martha Stewart, June Cleaver, Mary Poppins or Emily Post.  Yes, I was born to host!

If it’s one thing I hate, it’s cancelling my carefully pre-planned shindig.  The previous day’s downpour had lingered on into the day of my Ladies Backyard Picnic and I had already sent out a notice that we would be picnicking indoors.

I forced myself to brush off the let-down, for my yard, always at its glory in the month of May, was having an exceptional year.

The second blow had come when the patio drain clogged, forcing the all-day deluge from the gutters up through the basement drain the night before.

This hadn’t come as a total surprise.  Smuffy had been muttering about the thing for a week or so, making a priority of getting the sewer machine he has access to at work fixed so that he could bring it home to use.  When the weather forecast predicted a few days of what he calls toad-strangling downpours, he’d hauled it home to give it his undivided attention.  It didn’t seem to want to cooperate with his efforts and the day before the party, we started taking on water. 

Finally, he declared it fixed and sent it down the pipe to do its job of ripping out a wad of tree roots.  Smuffy, with the finesse and intuition of one who, through the years, has become a pipe whisperer, declared victory and threw the machine into reverse.

Things got stuck.  Perhaps the root wad dingled while the sewer cable dangled or possibly it may have happened the other way around, but now we seemed to have the machine permanently attached to our patio. 

Poor Smuffy, after sitting in the rain over the drain for hours, called for my help.  Heaving on the count of three with all our might, we couldn’t budge it.  By the time he’d applied a removal tool (which didn’t fit) and installed a pump in the basement with a hose out the door to take the water out, we were reduced to taking turns with the knee-high rubber boots.

There are moments in life when, like it or not, one must admit temporary defeat. I ran madly around the basement (in boots big enough for Smuffy) lifting things to higher ground, hoping that I’d gotten everything I needed out of the freezer for my party the following day.

Then, it hit me – Phoebe June!  She’d been watching the proceedings from the basement steps, taking it all in with great interest and a look that told us that if we’d only bothered to ask her opinion, the whole thing would have been sorted out long ago.  She accepted with a great deal of grace and dignity, I thought, the fact that rather than furnish her with a small set of oars, we’d moved her potty pan up to the dining room and plugged her kitty-sized hole in the basement door to keep her from exploring the flood zone.

Worn out but undaunted, I’d gone to bed with a payer that if we actually started to float away during the night, God would wake me.

Now, on the day of the Indoor Ladies Backyard Picnic, I felt like I’d spent the day summoning my Martha-June-Mary-Emily powers with a reasonable amount of success.  The ladies would arrive at six o’clock.  Why not?  The flood was in the basement and the party on the main floor. We would ignore the sound of the pump. The rain continued to add moisture to my mess and the weather radar promised a dandy storm somewhere in mid-afternoon – and dandy it was!

As I cleaned and double-checked my list of preparations like any good hostess would, the wind and rain beat against the house and thunder and lightning did their best to get me to worry that the power might go out.  I pushed these thoughts aside.  Whatever happened, all would be right with the world by six o’clock.

At four o’clock, right on schedule, I grabbed my sturdiest meat fork and poked holes all over my first spaghetti squash.  The garlicky, cheesy, spaghetti squash and chicken casserole had become a favorite and I couldn’t wait for the ladies to try it.  I shoved the squash onto a plate and inserted it into the microwave, giving it my usual twenty-two minutes.

Rounding the corner to the living room, I crossed to the mantle to tweak the peonies I had arranged in vases.  When my foot slipped on the hardwood floor, I looked down to find myself standing in water.

Phoebe June?  No!  Not even with the indignity of having her potty pan parked in public would she consider such a sin!  I followed the trail of water across the floor where it oozed from beneath the area rug and disappeared under Smuffy’s chair.  Then, I saw it.  The gutter above the window behind the chair had clogged and the downpour was being forced in around the window somehow.  I ran for towels, began soaking up the mess and called Smuffy.

His phone rang.  To be exact, it rang right next to me.  He’d forgotten to take it to work.  I called the office, only to discover that he’d gone out and they had no idea where he was or when he’d be back.

At times like this, I sometimes just go on auto-pilot.  It beats panic.  The abundance of towels seemed to be taking care of the flow so I donned the boots again and made my way back down to the swamp to gather the fixings for my picnic beverages, hoping that the refrigerator and freezer, located some distance from the drain area, hadn’t gotten their electrical parts moistened to the point where I’d get zapped.  Besides, I told myself, rubber boots prevent that sort of thing.

After sloshing over to the major appliances and begging them to be gentle with me, I pulled out the ice and seltzer water.  Somewhere, from up above, I heard a loud ka-BANG!  A solid THUD followed it before silence fell.

“Oh, Phoebe June,” I muttered.  “What is that cat up to now?” 

Wisdom tempered my urge to run. The volume of the sound indicated that something of grand proportion had just occurred on the main floor.  I took it slow, however, knowing that breaking into a full run would send gallons of water up my back, all over my clothes and into my hair, ruining my last chances of appearing as the elegant hostess.

Hugging my supplies (for I vowed to make no more adventures into the swamp), I made it to the top of the stairs and headed through the dining room toward the kitchen.  I stopped at the sight that met my eyes and I’m pretty sure my mouth fell open.

The microwave door stood wide open.  The spaghetti squash had exited entirely and the greater portion now lay on the counter in Humpty Dumpty fashion.  The remainder dangled all around the kitchen without prejudice against any surface.  The walls, windows, valances, woodwork, range, floor, cabinetry, small appliances – they all had their portion of spaghetti squash.

The only thing lacking a good dollop of squash seemed to be Phoebe June, who sat behind me, her wide eyes asking, “What happened?”  I gave her an apology for my false assumptions, heaved a sigh and peeked inside the microwave.

Phoebe June the Innocent www.midweststoryteller.com

The inside, looking as though its portion of spaghetti squash had been applied with a trowel by someone who knew their business well, brought a moan from the depths of my soul.  The clock screamed 4:20 when I dared glance at it.  I had another squash to cook in order to make the casserole, but the mess would have to be dealt with first.  I grabbed a spatula.  I would do this, by gosh and by golly, even if the ladies all arrived before the casserole came out of the oven!

While I scraped, wiped and picked, my mind raced.  I needed to decide which of my plans remained top priority and which could be scrapped.  I needed to clean the kitchen.  I must change into some lovely outfit, bejewel myself and perform a quick maintenance to make-up and hair which, thankfully, didn’t have squash in it.  I’d been saving the bathroom for last and it had to be cleaned.

Once having gotten the inside of the microwave restored and Spaghetti Squash #2 inserted with a prayer and extra deep puncture wounds, I turned on the water to wash my hands.  Water!  I’d forgotten about the water.

I raced to the living room, fearful of how much water may have come in around the window while I’d been dealing with squash.  The towels seemed to be taking care of the flow.  I looked up at the window, feeling helpless as to how to do anything about the overflowing gutter for the rain still came down in buckets.  Then, my eyes focused on the scene beyond.

One of the city’s street drains is located a few feet from the top of our driveway and it had clogged as though it had gotten word about it being National Clogging Day.  Water came over the top of the driveway like a waterfall, crashed around the wheels of my car (which Smuffy had moved to the top of the hill to keep it away from a suspicious tree limb during the storm) and roared down the driveway.  Years of experience told me that when it reached bottom it would go straight onto our patio and since that drain remained clogged, it would enter the basement.

I suppose I do have a panic button, because this pushed it.  I grabbed my phone in a desperate attempt to reach Smuffy because Smuffy makes everything right – eventually.  Then, I nearly cried as I remembered that he’d left his phone behind.  I called the city.

While they didn’t exactly say, “Too bad.  So sad.” or “Kiss my grits!”, they did inform me that things were tough all over, that the problem was city-wide and that none of their drains were equipped to handle this amount of water all at once.  What it amounted to was that no one was coming to unclog anything.  I hung up and went back to the kitchen to scrape the squash off the windows.

With Squash #2 into the casserole and oven and Squash #1 under control, I wiped up the bathroom and went to change clothes.  The sound of the rain beating against the house had lessened to the point that I began to believe the weather reports that promised that all this nonsense would come to a complete stop by the time my guests needed to drive to my house.  I began to breathe again. A few of them had been messaging me concerning their fears about leaving home in such a torrent.

I picked up a pair of dangly earrings and put them on as I made another trip to the living room.  The window leak seemed to have stopped.  I picked up the wet towels and looked around the room, abandoning my plans to move all the furniture back and set up long tables down the center with checkered cloths and bandana napkins.  There simply wasn’t time.  The ladies would have to get their food in the dining room and be content with the coffee table and TV trays.  I glanced out the window to see if the whitewater falls had slowed any.  That’s when I noticed that my car was missing.

I gasped.  My brain did a few somersaults while it asked itself if it were sure Smuffy had left the car at the top of the hill.  Visions of nightly news reports raced through my mind as I recalled the oft issued warning that a mere foot of rushing water might cause a vehicle to be carried away. 

I turned and ran, arriving at the kitchen window out of breath, only to peer over the edge of the porch and see my car parked in its usual spot.  I sighed with relief that it hadn’t ended up on the patio, in the garden or in the neighbors’ back yard.

I’ve been rattled in my time, but this day had earned red letter status in the rattling department.  I longed to know one way or the other – had Smuffy stopped by unannounced and moved my car or had it been swept away and miraculously carried in the hands of angels to its perfect resting place?  Another glance at Smuffy’s phone told me this story was “to be continued…”

The doorbell rang.  My daughter and sister were among the first to arrive, full of offers to help if I would only tell them what needed to be done.  All I could tell them was that their guess was as good as mine and we stumbled through receiving guests and putting out food and drinks.

I can think of no other time when I’ve felt so grateful to stop, sit, relax with friends and enjoy good food!  Though their hostess did not offer up the mostest in terms of fashionable tablescape and seating arrangements, they seemed to feel fully compensated by the fact that the day’s events provided the evening entertainment.

Smuffy made an appearance, admitting that he had, indeed, stopped by and moved my car without telling me.  And Phoebe June, you ask?  She mingled, managing to assert her cattitude and be rude to a guest only once after being ignored and feeling like the accused all day. 

You can’t ask for more than that.

I crawled into my warm, safe and dry bed that night offering up thanks that I hadn’t been in the kitchen when things exploded.  As I drifted off to sleep, I pondered the mystery of it all.  Why, after at least twenty years of the same cooking method, did this particular squash become a ballistic missile?  With a team of experts and a few million dollars, the military might be able to come up with something that, if nothing else, would frustrate and exhaust our enemies to the point of surrender.

Next up – it’s time to join Smuffy as he endeavors to make a few adjustments to the car.  No seat belts needed.  Just clear the area!

Subscribe so you don’t miss it!  If you haven’t taken the deep dive into my “Life with Smuffy”, you really don’t know what you’re missing, so check it out! Why not start with the story of our Smokin’ Hot Honeymoon? Phoebe June has her own page so if you haven’t gotten to know her, click here.

Make someone smile.  Share this post via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by all means, “Pin it”!

June Has Arrived and So Has Its Freebie!

June is when those of us in the Midwest can truly feel that summer has arrived.  Even though the official first day is a few weeks away, the First Friday Freebie is here today, right on schedule!

I hope you’ve been spreading the word about my monthly freebies by sharing with all your friends and family through social media, that dinosaur of a thing called email and that nearly out of style thing known as actually speaking to people. 

Some of you have good intentions, but forget to enter to win before midnight on the first Friday of the month and you know what that means – you increase the odds that the freebie may go to my sister, Donna, the subscriber who never forgets!

Let’s take a look at June’s free gift (and remember, I’ll send it anywhere in the continental United States)

June 2019 Freebie www.midweststoryteller.com

Don’t you just love to fancy things up for no reason at all?  Recently, as I gathered with several friends, I mentioned having used washi tape.  Several eyebrows went up and I discovered that I sat in the midst of a bunch of people who, for the most part, had never heard of the stuff.  Well, what can I say?  Washi tape just makes your day a little happier!  What really sends it over the top is a set of copper-colored paper clips with (yes!) tassles and what really lifts the soul is that the whole thing is color-coordinated in bright summer shades!

Can I help it if I’ve always been tickled pink over the small things?

These fun paper clips are from Paige Evans’ line called Pink Paislee.  They are just the type of thing I love to use as a bookmark for favorite spots in a recipe book, planner or anything else I want to make a quick grab for.

Now about washi tape – like sour cream, you can’t really fall in love with it until you try it, because why would you try a thing with a name like that?  This pack of washi tape by Pebbles at pebblesinc.com has six rolls of coordinating narrow tape!  Washi tape is unusual in that it sticks well, but comes off when you want it to.  Totally unlike the adhesive on the typical sticky note, it seems more permanent to the touch.  Yet, with gentle persuasion, it will even lift right off most surfaces, even paper, allowing you to rearrange things easily.  It’s a great way to highlight a special day or week in your planner.  I recently used the ½” size to tape a long list to a cabinet door, framing the list with the cute pattern around all four sides.  Then, when I got ready to take the list down, I simply lifted off the whole thing without leaving any icky residue and walked straight over and taped it neatly onto another surface as it still had plenty of adhesive left.  That makes it great for those things on the refrigerator that tend to wave in the breeze and look messy.

Washi tape comes in all patterns and sizes and is great for taping tags onto gift bags or just jazzing up something for the kids.  It gets heavy use on school lockers as a great way to express oneself without leaving gooey stuff behind.

Washi tape is just plain fun.  Washi tape with coordinating tassled paper clips is more fun!

Both these items are a Tuesday Morning find, a store that draws me through its doors like a moth to a flame with it’s varied selections of home goods, personal care items, décor, outdoor living, pets supplies, arts, crafts and more.

You can’t spend all your days outdoors in the summer sun, so why not have a little fun during your indoor time?

To enter to win the whimsical paper lips and washi tape set, all you need to do is “Leave a Comment” on this post, saying, “Color my summer fun!”  You’ll need to do that before midnight TONIGHT, June 7th, 2019!

First Friday Freebies are for email SUBSCRIBERS ONLY.  You can subscribe by going to the right sidebar or use the menu to navigate to the “Contact” page and subscribe to Midwest Storyteller if you haven’t done so already.  Confirming your subscription through the confirmation email you’ll receive is absolutely necessary, so don’t forget that!

Share this post with your friends through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.  They won’t know if you don’t tell them!

Subscribers win every single month!  See past gifts and their winners on my “Freebies” page. This will include, of course, at least three photos of my sister, Donna. (This contest is not rigged.)

Remember, a winner will be chosen at random from those subscribers who enter before midnight tonight by leaving a comment which says, “Color my summer fun!”

For the complete First Friday Freebie rules, CLICK HERE

Glitches happen.  If you subscribe and do not receive a confirmation email for some reason, please email me and let me know at barb@midweststoryteller.com

Freebies last one day only!  Enter now so you don’t forget! If that happens, you’re giving Donna even greater odds of becoming like Jeopardy James!

Phoebe June on Summer

A little advice, just in case you’re letting the cares of this world get you down – she’s got this chillin’ thing down to a science!

Toe Wiggling www.midweststoryteller.com

We’ll be wiggling our toes a little more next week when our yard sale is over! I can’t tell you how much help Phoebe June has been at sorting through closets!

We’ve had a little excitement around here and I’ll fill you in on that.

The month of June is right around the corner and that always brings to mind the time that Smuffy decided to adjust the brakes on the car and…

Sorry, gotta put that one on hold! He has his own page here at Midwest Storyteller here, if you’d like to catch up. Excerpts from Phoebe June’s diary are right here!

May’s Freebie Winner! Really?

We’ll never be able to say that it doesn’t pay to try, try and try again.  Let’s meet (again) the latest winner of my First Friday Freebie –

Donna from Bunceton, Missouri!

I would like to start out by saying (“scout’s honor” if I had been any sort of scout, but I wasn’t, so you’ll have to take me at my word) that this monthly drawing is not rigged.  Perhaps you’ve noticed that Donna has now won the First Friday Freebie three times.  Perhaps you didn’t notice, and in that case, I’m sorry I brought the whole thing up.

The other thing that maybe some of you know and many of you don’t is that Donna is also my sister!  There is nothing in the rules that says that my relatives can’t enter to win, but this is getting ridiculous!  No matter how I adjust my poker face, or display the backs of the little slips of paper with entries written on them, Smuffy’s hand just randomly snatches Donna’s name out every so often as though by some magnetic force.

Anyway, congratulations, Donna!

 I hope you enjoy your set of handcrafted, up-cycled, sparkly gift bags and I hope they bring joy to whomever you bless when you give them away with gifts inside.

The gift bags were an art project of mine.  If you’d like to see how I take store merchandizing bags and turn them into beautiful gift bags, click here.  To see the original freebie offer, click here.

To all my readers, I’d like you to climb on board the “Stop Donna Express”!  I can only think of one way to stop my sister from becoming like one of those Jeopardy contestants who just can’t seem to go home and that is if YOU lower her odds by entering to win and share Midwest Storyteller with all your friends via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest (or be old fashioned about it and tell them to subscribe so they’ll be able do the same.  Subscribers receive an email on the first Friday each month reminding them to leave a comment that will enter their name in the drawing.

A freebie offer appears the first Friday of every month.  Check out my Freebies page to see the winner and their free gifts they’ve won here at Midwest Storyteller.

 June’s drawing is right around the corner – June 7th, to be exact.  Donna is bound to enter, but the question is, will you?

Pancakes and Pizza Dough? Gluten-free Sourdough Recipes that Won’t Disappoint

If you’ve started a batch of my Authentic Sourdough Just Like Great-Grandma Used to Make, you’re probably making my yummy recipe for Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread that Doesn’t Taste Like Cardboard Rolled in Sand.  Perhaps, though, you’re starting to yearn for other sourdough goodies. 

I’m offering you two today with FREE printables!  (I always aim to please.)

Gluten-free Sourdough Pancakes and Pizza Dough www.midweststoryteller.com

The journey toward a good gluten-free pancake has been a frustrating one.  When I started my clean eating journey, I couldn’t help but think that all those poor dears out there in cyber-land who posted their recipes on the internet for the rest of us were living in a state of such desperate deprivation they no longer knew what a pancake was!  If it held to a disc shape and supported a pat of butter and a drizzle of syrup, they thought they had something.

In the beginning, I ate no grains at all for three months to give my system a total rest.

I started with coconut flour pancakes.  The best coconut flour version I found after much trial and error were made from a recipe by Dr. Bruce Fife in a wonderful book called, “The Coconut-Ketogenic Diet”.  I’ve poured over that book and made many of the recipes and contacted Dr. Fife and received permission to share short quotes and recipes here on the blog.  We’ll save that for another day as we are on the subject of sourdough.  I mean no disrespect to Dr. Fife when I say (while I linger upon this tangent for a few more seconds) that this is a really bad title for a really great book!  It should be called something like, “A Manual for the Human Body and a Bunch of Stuff About Coconuts I Betcha Didn’t Know”.  You’ll learn a lot about yourself even if you never follow his weight loss plan . (I didn’t.) You’ll find it right here on Amazon.

Now, let’s take that sourdough starter and make some real pancakes.  As always, I tinker with recipes until I feel like they are worthy of passing on to you.  This one began with a recipe I found at www.artofgluten-freebaking.com  I’ll be going back to that site for more ideas now that these pancakes are such a hit with Smuffy.  He says they’re the best pancakes I’ve ever made for him.  The original recipe made lots more pancakes, so feel free to double my recipe if you have a large family.  I changed a few other things as well as using the Gluten-Free Flour Blend I shared here on the blog.

Another aggravating situation one finds oneself in when walking away from most grains is the agony of the unfulfilled pizza craving.  Yes, I know all those people out there are mushing cauliflower together and calling it pizza crust, but sometimes you just want real pizza – pizza you can pick up in your hands and bite into its crispy crust instead of forking it.

Again, I found a recipe and started tweaking.  This great version of Gluten-free Sourdough Pizza Dough, originally given by Emily at www.fermentingforfoodies.com got me off to a great start.  With a few changes to align it with my commitment to clean eating, I’m really pleased to be enjoying pizza again.

Pizza and Pancakes – isn’t life grand?  Let’s get that sourdough out of the refrigerator and let it poof up on the counter for a couple of hours and get started!

Gluten-free Sourdough Pancakes www.midweststoryteller.com

Gluten-free Sourdough Pancakes or Waffles


1 cup Authentic Rye Sourdough Starter

¾ to 1 cup milk (depending on how thick/thin you like your pancakes)

1 cup Gluten-free Flour Blend, divided

½ teaspoon Celtic sea salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon non-aluminum baking powder

1 tablespoon raw honey

1 tablespoon refined coconut oil, melted and cooled

1 extra-large egg, beaten


  1.  The night before (or at least 2 hours before) make a “sponge” by mixing the sourdough starter, ¾ cup milk and half the flour in a large bowl, stirring until combined.  The mixture may have lumps and that’s fine.
  2. When you are ready to make pancakes or waffles, preheat the griddle to medium-high or heat the iron.
  3. Mix the remaining flour, salt, soda, and baking powder together in a bowl and stir.  Add to the sponge, along with the remaining ingredients and stir until well blended, adding more milk if needed.
  4. For pancakes, oil the surface of the griddle with coconut oil and pour 1/3 cup portions of batter onto the surface, cooking until edges appear dry and bubbles form over the surface.  Flip and cook for an additional minute.
  5. For waffles:  Grease the iron with oil before making each waffle.  Follow your iron’s directions, which likely require a cup of batter and five minutes cooking time for deep pocket waffles. 

YIELD:  8 or 9 pancakes.

I’ve actually not made these up into waffles yet, so I can’t testify as to how they turn out.

Now that we’ve had a fabulous breakfast, let’s move on to pizza!

Gluten-free Sourdough Pizza Dough www.midweststoryteller.com

Gluten-free Sourdough Pizza Dough


1 cup Authentic Rye Sourdough Starter

1 ½ cups Gluten-free Flour Blend

1 tablespoon refined coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon raw honey

1 egg

1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt

1 Italian herb blend


  1.  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  You want a fairly firm dough, so you may have to add a bit more flour depending on the feel.
  2. Allow to rest, covered, in a warm place for 2-4 hours.
  3. Divide into two balls and roll out onto parchment paper.  Crusts will be very thin.  If you prefer a thicker crust, you may not want to divide the dough.  If you like thin crust, but don’t want to bake them both at once, wrap one of the dough balls in parchment paper and then in plastic wrap to freeze until needed.  Thaw overnight or for several hours prior to rolling out for baking.
  4. Pre-bake the crusts in pre-heated 425° Fahrenheit (or 200° Celsius) oven for ten minutes by placing the parchment directly on the oven racks or on a preheated pizza stone, whichever way gives you the crispness you desire.
  5. Remove crusts from the oven and top with your favorite ingredients.  Return the pizza to the oven and take an additional ten minutes or until the cheese is melted and crust is beginning to brown.

When it comes to pizza, Smuffy is in love with the pizza sauce I make it with my homemade tomato paste from the tomatoes in our garden.  Did I mention that Smuffy is the local Tomato King?  At least he was last year!  Take at look at his tomato patch.  It actually got quite a bit bigger than this!

2018 Tomato King www.midweststoryteller.com

You must know, however, that while tomato paste is as easy as putting the little darlings in the food processor, making a puree and then simmering them on the stove until they are as thick as the paste you buy in the store, there is a down side.  It takes a good long while.  San Marzano paste tomatoes are ideal, as they have little juice and speed things up a bit, but still, you’ll need to do it when you are going to be around the house for a while.  Also, I’ve found that two pounds of tomatoes yields 1 cup of paste – so there’s that to consider.

Once I’ve slathered my pre-baked crust with ½ to ¾ cup of pizza sauce, I love to go crazy with the veggies.  I mound the pizza high with fresh spinach (but only my half as Smuffy doesn’t care for it) and then follow with thin-sliced onions, green pepper, sliced mushrooms, turkey pepperoni and six ounces of shredded mozzarella. 

We prefer turkey pepperoni as it tastes the same to us, yet doesn’t leave a giant grease puddle under each slice.  Use anything you like.  Here’s one I made with chicken.

Sourdough Crust Pizza www.midweststoryteller.com

If you’ve been looking for gluten-free options for pancakes and pizza, I think your family will really like these recipes.  Please comment and let me know!  Happy cooking!

Sourdough & Gluten-free Pancakes & Pizza Dough www.midweststoryteller.com

Now it’s time to get those FREE PRINTABLE RECIPES HERE.

Soon I’ll be sharing a faux-carb pizza dough along with my recipe for home-made pizza sauce with no sugar or artificial sweeteners. (Try to find that in the stores!)

What’s all the fuss about eating healthy?  We shouldn’t just survive, we should thrive!  Check out my Thrive! page

There’s still that Smuffy story brewing and I think Phoebe June has some thoughts on spring she’d like to share, so stay with us!

Be sure to SUBSCRIBE, so you’ll receive an email reminder each time Midwest Storyteller has something new.

Hi, Mom!

Happy Mother's Day!  www.midweststoryteller.com

This day and this wish carry so many emotions and not just my own. As I look at social media, I realize, as I do every year, that, good or bad, we are all connected to our mothers by an unbreakable bond.

I hope that each one of you had a mother as wonderful as mine. That would make the world a better place! If your mother was less than perfect in ways that affected you negatively, I pray you have found the strength to forgive her and allow healing to take place.

If you’re glorying in your children today, I take joy with you. My daughter took me for an outing to the city where we ate, shopped, laughed, talked and simply enjoyed one another till we had to come home and I treasure each moment of it.

If you’re missing your mom, as I am mine, I pray that the sweet memories are a comfort and that you’ve come to the certainty that you will be with her again someday.

I know there are some of you who have lost a baby and perhaps no one even knows. Others have lost a young child or an adult child. The unspeakable grief is more than I can imagine. Along with the God who holds them in His loving arms, I cry with you and say, “He loves you.”

To all the adoptive moms, I jump for joy along with you that the day came when you could call that child your own, just as I have done with the several moms in our family who have adopted children into their hearts and homes!

To those who still wait, longing to conceive to adopt, I pray, “Let it be, O Lord! Let it be!”

There are those of us who, though we have not given birth or gone through legal proceedings, have chosen to mother or be mothered by someone other than our birth mother. The bonds shared may as well be ties of blood, for they are just as strong.

Some nurture babies with fur and paws with as much compassion and emotion as if their charge were a human child and this is love.

Let’s reach out today and and wish one another a Happy Mother’s Day! After all, we share in common a child-shaped spot in our heart that is filled only with the love for a mother or the love of a mother.

To meet the special lady who was my mom, click here.

You “May” Win a Freebie (but only if you try)!

Here we are again at the first Friday of the month.  I hope you’ve told all your friends about First Friday Freebies so they can enter to win today’s drawing.

Sometimes, when I’m on a creative binge, I like to give away my latest creations.  Remember the sparkly, repurposed gift bags I crafted out of shopping bags?

Handcrafted Gift Bags www.midweststoryteller.com

Today I’m giving away this set of three gift bags with coordinating tissues.  The winner will receive “Congrats”, “Best Wishes” and “Happy Birthday” bags with die-cut designs and jeweled embellishments. 

I hope you enjoy my handiwork and are encouraged to try some similar rescue/recycle projects of your own.  If you have any creative ideas for the “accumulated treasures” we all seem to have around the house, I’d love it if you’d share your ideas in the comments and please feel free to send any photos of your creations you’d like to share with me to barb@midweststoryteller.com

If you’d like to see how I made the bags and get ideas on how you can do similar projects on your own or with the kids (and whether or not you have a die cutting machine), check out my post here.

To enter to win the gift bag set, all you need to do is “Leave a Comment” on this post, saying, “Draw my name from the bag!”  You’ll need to do that before midnight TONIGHT, May 3rd, 2019!

First Friday Freebies are for email SUBSCRIBERS ONLY.  You can subscribe by going to the right sidebar or use the menu to navigate to the “Contact” page and subscribe to Midwest Storyteller if you haven’t done so already.  Confirming your subscription through the confirmation email you’ll receive is absolutely necessary, so don’t forget that!

Your friends will want to enter to win, too.  Share this post with them through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.  They won’t know if you don’t tell them!

Subscribers win every single month!  See past gifts and their winners on my “Freebies” page.

Remember, a winner will be chosen at random from those subscribers who enter before midnight tonight by leaving a comment which says, “Draw my name from the bag!”

For the complete First Friday Freebie rules, CLICK HERE

Glitches happen.  If you subscribe and do not receive a confirmation email for some reason, please email me and let me know at barb@midweststoryteller.com

Freebies only last a day!  Enter now so you don’t forget!

Re-Purposed Gift Bags on the Cheap!

I’ve figured out why they call it “The Merry, Merry Month of May”.  If ever a month came pre-loaded with celebrations, May wins the prize!

There’s the given – graduations.  They rarely come in singles.  There always seems to be a wedding or two, not to mention showers in anticipation of the weddings in June.  Mother’s Day comes along and since a portion of those mothers became one in May, there are birthdays and the parties that go with them.

Do you ever feel like you’re spending more on gift wrap than gifts?  I’m definitely a rescuer and a saver, but I don’t want to go down in history as the lady who left this earth having owned the most cottage cheese containers.  I want a purpose or a re-purpose for my stash.  I want to do something with my frugal hoard and part of that hoard is merchandizing bags from stores that I just know I can turn into beautiful gift bags.

Today, I want to share a money saving idea you can pull off without losing your mind.  All you need is store bags (hopefully ones that do not have wrap-around logos printed on them), scissors, ruler, glue and your “stash” – whatever that means to you – and possibly some kids or grandkids if you really want to have some fun and you are one of those people who is at peace with the concept that it’s the process that counts – not the product.

Re-purposing Bags for Gifting  www.midweststoryteller.com

Here’s part of my stash, including the gift bag project in mid-progress.  I have a Cricut die-cutting machine.  Believe it or not, I even got that at the Goodwill Store!  Don’t tuck your tail between your legs if you don’t have a fancy machine.  I’ll give you some ideas for working without one.

I find that Dollar Tree and Tuesday Morning are great sources for finding doo-dads on the cheap.  A full sheet of sparkly jeweled stickers for around a dollar will last you through many a creative binge.  I do some scrapbooking, so I always have leftover snippets and papers to cut up for projects.  You can often pick up a book of coordinating papers at Hobby Lobby at half price, but if you don’t want to do that, scrounge around for some cardstock, old wallpaper or wrapping paper that isn’t too thin.  Kids love working with thin, colorful sheets of fun foam, available at Hobby Lobbyand they can cut out flowers, leaves, trucks, letters and numbers and anything else they have a notion to draw or trace onto the foam.  Dollar stores also have full sheets of themed embellishments for scrap-bookers.  All you have to do with those is cover the bag’s logo with a shape you’ve cut from foam or paper and stick the embellishments all over it and your once-a-throw-away bag is redeemed.  How about the fronts of those fancy greeting cards you’ve been given?  There’s some fabulous artwork you can use to decorate your bags!

If the bag rescue idea appeals to you, but you want to avoid the expense of a Cricut or other machine, there are some fun tools to watch for when you’re out bargain hunting.  Decorative scissors are inexpensive and will trim the edges of your papers into scallops, ocean waves or a number of other designs.  They are usually around five dollars.  Punches are fabulous things.  You can align paper along a printed guide, punch the design and slide the paper again to punch long strips or all the way around a shape.  They come in geometrics, florals, eyelet and lace designs and more. I’ve found them at Tuesday Morning at prices between three and ten dollars, depending on the size.  Martha Stewart makes quality punches in varied styles. Visit the link to see what is available and then watch for sales in stores that carry office and craft items. Metallic pens come in a wide array of colors and can be used to add sparkle to the edges of cut paper.  If you have no fancy scissors or tools, why not tear the edges of your paper by hand?  Once you’ve given it a jagged edge, use the metallic pens to highlight the torn edges and make them pop against the background.  Backgrounds are important.  A layered effect always makes an embellishment project look much more professional.

Since I do have a Cricut machine (and they are marvels, to be sure), I used leftover scrapbooking paper to cut designs that I felt would be useful for any upcoming gifting needs.  As you can see, I just glued the design onto its contrasting background and then glued the whole thing right over the original business logo.

Next, I used a few cheap stickers from my sparkly jewel collection to add some pizzazz to the design.  You certainly don’t have to do this, but even just a few tiny embellishments will take your design to the next level and give it a designer flair rather than just a look’s-like-she-couldn’t-find-a-gift-bag-but-she-could-find-a-gluestick-project.

Here are the bags, before and after being be-jeweled.  Little things mean a lot, don’t they? Zoom in for the thrill of the sparkle.

Gift Bags Bejeweled www.midweststoryteller.com

Speaking of glue, I highly recommend Martha Stewart craft glue as seen here.  It dries clear, doesn’t string, gives you thirty seconds or so for wiggling items into place and then the items stay put!  If I run out of it, I will put off a project until I can get some because of the frustration it saves me.

Once you’re finished, the bags are ready for colorful tissue and maybe even a cute tag or a ribbon tied onto the handle if you want to get that fancy.

Shopping Bags Transformed www.midweststoryteller.com

Here are my finished bags.  Now for the rest of the stack I have saved up in the closet. Call me cheap, but my mama would be proud!

I do love a rescue project and handmade gifts and this combines the two.  Need more ideas?  Take a look at the wooden utensil project I did with my friend Kathy here, the falling-off-a-log-easy gifts here, rescued vintage tablecloths here, Sweet Annie wreaths here, and what to do with those pretty leaves you can’t resist picking up here.  After all that, you’ll need to treat yourself.  Relax with some homemade sugar scrub here.

Any questions?  I’d love to hear your comments.  Is there anything you’ve repurposed that the rest of us are throwing away?