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Personal Freedom vs Living Costs

We are brought up thinking that money can buy happiness, but freedom of time is what really leads to happiness. Yes, having money can give you the ability to choose how you spend your time, but this has more to do with your cost of living than it has to do with how much you make. If you can reduce your cost of living to the point that you are living substantially within your means, can stay as debt free as possible, can build savings and wealth, and can find ways to earn money that either doesn't require your time (like residual income) or is time you would be spending doing what you love to do anyway, then that will lead to true security, personal freedom, and happiness. Think of it kind of like a business. In business, you want to generate profits and invest those profits to build more profits. Here you want to generate time savings and invest that time to generate even more time savings. To generate that savings, you need to first consume less than you produce, then s
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My Best Sourdough Bread Recipe

I've been making sourdough bread for over 2 years now since the start of the COVID pandemic. I've been averaging about one week a loaf so that is over 100 loaves. During that time, I've had some successes and failures with the goal of continuing to get better in the pursuit of an epic loaf of bread. In a way, it's my own "pursuit of happiness" since a goof loaf of bread is happiness to me. So it's kind of fitting to post this the day before July 4th.  My issues and struggles over the last 24 months had to do with not getting the right structure to allow the dough to rise up instead of out and create the coveted "ear" where the dough expands from the razor slit to create amazing lift and airy texture. If done right, you can get a tall loaf look without the need for support in the oven. I just couldn't get there. Instead I would use a cast iron loaf pan to provide structure. It worked but I knew it was a cheat. I kept researching different tech

Sourdough Bread Resources

I'm one of the COVID sourdough folks that finally used the time at home to give it a try. That included creating my own sourdough starter from scratch (which I still use today) and then venturing into the deep and complex world of creating an epic sourdough loaf. It has now been over two years and I've been baking on average about one loaf a week so that is over 100 loaves now. Pretty crazy how time passes like that. Each week I've tried to perfect the ingredient ratios, my technique, and all the other factors that go into great sourdough bread making. There have been several resources that have helped me on my journey that I want to provide to others on a similar journey.  These taught me (1) the importance of the various phases in developing structure (autolyse, bulk fermentation, folding/shaping, and cold fermentation), (2) ingredient ratios with a target of an 80% hydration dough, and (3) baking techniques like temperature, cookware, proofing and scoring tools, dusting

Interesting Names for Boys, Girls, and Pets

On this Father's Day, I wanted to share my list of unique and interesting names that I've been collecting over the years. I don't have kids myself yet but I do have dogs, and I enjoy discovering new names that I could see naming a boy, girl, or pet. I blended all the names together and sorted alphabetically because the delineation between names and genders is blending. There are also some incredible names not yet on this list. It is only a reflection of my own reality and exposure, which admittedly could be considered limited in breadth and diversity. When picking a name yourself, use this list as a starting point and certainly not an all inclusive list. Abigail Alana Alfred Amber Annabel Ansel Anton Archibald Arne Ashworth Augustine Benedict Bixby Bowser Bozeman Bugsby Buster Butler Calvin Chancellor Chill Claire Clayton Clerit Coconut Collin Colt Conrad Coozy Copper Cornelius Corrine Cortessa Covington Cowboy Cricket Crosby Da Vinci Dahlaila Dandy Davis Dawson Debruin Dor

Chicken Tragedy Part 2

WARNING: this is graphic. The 2022 chicken season was not meant to be. It really all started in 2020 when I had my first Chicken Tragedy . After losing all my chickens to a predator just before summer got going, I was ready to start over. I had the time on my hand since it was still the early stages of COVID where I was home a majority of the days.  But even getting to the egg-laying chicken stage that year was difficult. I went through 8 chicks over the course of four months and only ended up with two that made it to adulthood. Some died of natural causes while chicks. Some found escape routes from the coop while they were small and my dog got them. The two that did make it were a joy. One was a Plymouth Rock breed and the other was a surprise Wyandotte (they both were supposed to be Plymouth Rocks). The Wyandotte had a beautiful feather pattern with an orange head and a black body but the feathers had a blueish green shimmer to them in the light. My nieces named that one "Eclips

Pickled Green Beans

Following up on my new found simple pickling method for Mexican Style Pickled Carrots, I decided to tackle pickled green beans. Again Costco, had a deal on two pounds of green beans that I jumped on, but needed a way to preserve some of them. What better way than pickling! Note, like the pickled carrots, I take some shortcuts in the preparation that don't leave the jars completely sterile. To minimize my personal risk, I ensure the pickled green beans are always refrigerated and I consume within 2 weeks. Please prepare according to your own safety preferences. Ingredients 12oz fresh green beans trimmed and washed 1 cup white or apple cider vinegar 1 cup filtered water 1 teaspoon salt 1 tsp dried dill or 1 tbsp fresh 1 garlic clove, crushed or roughly chopped (optional) 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional) Directions Wash and prep the green beans. You may need to separate them into two batches. Add the vinegar, water, and salt to a 2qt stock pot and add the first batch of gree

Mexican Style Pickled Carrots Recipe

I love going to authentic counter-order Mexican restaurants because they typically have a great salsa bar. And that salsa bar usually has pickled carrots and jalapenos. I love the spicy tang of the pickled carrots. It is such a compliment to the rich Mexican food. So when I bought 6 pounds of organic carrots in bulk at Costco for $5, I had the idea in mind to pickle at least a pound of them. That meant going on a recipe search. I found a highly rated recipe from the Kevin is Cooking blog. His secret is to simmer the carrots in the pickling liquid to soften them up. This made sense to me for how the carrots get their signature texture in this dish. But after trying Kevin's recipe, it wasn't simple enough for me. Just a few too many ingredients and steps. Instead, I found a cheat that works out pretty well. I grab some pickled jalapenos as a "starter" and then add a vinegar/water solution to cover the carrots. It is so simple.  My favorite pickled jalapeno to use is a

Make a Big Impact by Making a Little Impact

My drive in life had been to make as big of an impact as possible. But it seemed the harder a pushed for this goal, the further I got from it. As I got older and learned more about this world and our relationship with it, I began to realize that to make a big impact meant making a small impact. There are two parts to making a small impact. First, it is making as light of a impact on our environment as possible. It means being wise about your lifestyle and choices. It also means living by the Boy Scout principle of leaving any place you go better than how you found it. Humans are disruptors by nature. We need to harness this gift for repair and enhancement instead of destruction and extraction. We also need to craft spending and consumption habits to be in tune to the impact they have on the environment. I recently watched "The Alpinist" movie about the remarkable rock climber, Marc-Andre Leclerc. His girlfriend, Brette Harrington, said an inspiring thing. All they cared about

Ninja Fit Blender Review

I was not in the market for a new blender. I have a Vitamix that's been a staple in my kitchen for whipping up my morning smoothies or a quick salsa. But someone got my wife a Ninja Fit Blender as a gift because they knew she also liked morning smoothies. We decided to give it a try and it's been awesome. The first thing I like about it is the ease. Just drop the ingredients into the blender cup. Then screw on the blade top, tip it over, and press it into the blender base to fire up the motor. Within a few seconds, the ingredients are perfectly blended. The second thing I like about it is the reduction in dishes. Instead of needing to pour the smoothie out of the blender and into a cup, the blender is the cup. Just unscrew the blade cap and screw on the drinking cap and I'm ready to go. The only dishes are a quick rinse of the blade and then a rinse of the main blender cup and lid after I'm finished with the smoothie. The blender is also way less intimidating to whip u

Match Digital Colors Using PowerPoint

Every now and then, I dabble in digital design. Most of the time, it's to make presentations and reports more graphically interesting by choosing colors that match a company's logo or brand identity. Microsoft PowerPoint is my go-to application to match colors, and I'll walk through an example using Google's logo to find each specific digital color they use. The first step is to grab Google's logo by either searching for an image or taking a snapshot of google.com. Then paste it into a PowerPoint presentation file using the Title Only layout. Next go into the title box and click on the font color icon. You will see an eyedropper. Select that and put the eyedropper cursor over one of the logo colors. I chose the blue color first. That blue color has now been added to the color palette. I can learn more about it by clicking on "More Colors". Now I can see the exact makeup of red, green, and blue values (RGB) that create that color. In this case it is 66 Red,

Free Custom Email with Google Domains

I have a few custom domains registered with Google Domains, and one in particular I wanted to start using as an email. I thought my only option was to pay the $6/mo for Google Workspace until I found that a Google Domain comes with 100 free aliases. Not only does this allow auto-forwarding of that email, but there is a way to even send email using the custom email address by doing some tweaks to an existing Gmail account. Here are the steps to take: Step 1 - Create the email alias Assuming you've already registered your custom domain through Google Domains, log into your Google Domains account at domains.google.com . Find the domain that you want to create the email for and click "Manage" on the right side. Go to "Email" on the menu on the left. Scroll to the bottom and click "Add email alias". Enter the beginning part of the email (note, it fills in the @yourdomain part automatically). Then pick an existing @gmail.com email account to forward your new

Government Unclaimed Property

I recently received a notice in the mail from the State of Colorado letting me know that I had unclaimed property that the state had received. I knew states did this through my work where we had checks that were not cashed by former associates so we sent that money to the state to hold in the associate's name. But I didn't think of checking if I had any unclaimed property myself until I got that notice. States keep online databases where anyone can search whether there is unclaimed property on file. Colorado's is  https://colorado.findyourunclaimedproperty.com/ . If you live in a different state, then do an online search for "______ state unclaimed property" and try to find the official state's website. The US Government's site is another resource. They handle certain things that the states don't like unclaimed IRS refunds, bank failure claims, and pension and department of labor claims. The US Government website is  https://www.usa.gov/unclaimed-money

On-the-Go Cold Brew Tea

Now that I have my repurposed kombucha bottle with the label removed , I have started to make myself cold brew teas. They are so easy. I carry some different tea bag flavors in my work backpack. Then I fill up my water bottle with water and drop a tea bag in. I let the string hang over the edge and put the cap on over the string to hold the tea bag in place. I let it "steep" in the cold water for 30-60 minutes for the flavors to infuse into the water. Because the lid is sealed, I can shake it gently to get more water surface to contact the tea bag. Then I remove the tea bag and enjoy! I do this at work, at home, and even in an airport. I'm now saving money by not having to buy bottled water or flavored beverages at the airport after going through security. I used to wait until the midflight beverage service before I got a drink. Now I have a refreshing and delicious drink on me before I even board the plane! Be sure to give this a try with your favorite water bottle (idea