Staying busy at home

March 28, 2020

Our neighborhood association asked us to put teddy bears in our windows so that children going for walks would have something to look for and to count. I think Mr. Bear looks slightly melancholy, stuck inside as he is.

I've been busy in the kitchen this week, planning and thinking about "make do, use it up, or do without." We're trying to avoid the stores now if possible. I did order some things from Amazon a couple weeks ago for baking.

I haven't baked since July when I gave up sugar. But my husband likes sandwiches, and all the bread has been sold out.

I had given my daughter my baking powder and yeast. It was hard going finding it on Amazon, and of course, took much longer to arrive. But as soon as the yeast came yesterday I made a loaf of gluten-free, sugar-free bread.

No kneading required. Just mixed with my hand mixer with the dough hooks. It took longer to rise without any sugar, about twice as long.

 It made a dense, kind of wonky-looking loaf. 

But we both agreed it was very tasty.

 I found some beef broth I had made in the freezer and made up some vegetable soup. It was delicious with the bread. This bread is also good toasted.

I had frozen some blueberries a week or so ago.

I tried a gluten-free, sugar-free coffee cake. This is the first time I've used xanthan gum. I couldn't get any of my favorite Rumford baking powder anywhere. These packets of baking powder were all I could find.

The muffins in the jar are gluten-free, sugar-free banana nut. These were sweeter and better tasting than the blueberry coffee cake.

Why am I being so rigid about sugar? I think it's extremely addictive. And so many negative side effects of consuming too much of it. And I don't do moderation very well.

I've lost 45 pounds since going off sugar and white flours. I've reached my goal, and sure don't want to gain any back!

I found the Christmas ham bone in the freezer. I made up split pea soup. I don't care for it, but my husband loves it, so I froze up a bunch of individual servings for his lunches.

And made some ham spread with some of the extra ham on the bone. I have used sweet pickles in the past, but here I used dill pickles. I've found an avocado mayo from Primal Kitchen with no sugar that is very good.

Rice and beans with scallions, tomatoes, cheese, and seasoning. Served with salsa and sour cream and more scallions.

We're having leftovers of this tonight.

I soak my pecans in salted water and then slow roast in the oven. According to Nourishing Traditions cookbook, this makes them more digestible. They taste way better too. I use them mostly on oatmeal.

Besides cooking, I hauled out my sewing machine, which was literally covered in dust! I made up five hand towels from some old linen cloth and some leftover lace.  This project had been sitting around for several years!

And brought out my knitting. Some dishcloths for Christmas.

Here's my answer to the current toilet paper shortage! A handheld bidet.

I love this!

I am seriously thinking of having one installed on our toilet when all this is over.

Also in the self-care department, how great are these reusable eye makeup removers? I got them in black so any mascara or eyeliner stains won't show. No more buying cotton rounds. They are super comfortable on your skin, too. Although I haven't been wearing much makeup lately ;).

Our small group Bible study is meeting tonight over Zoom. So thankful for this technology that allows us all to connect.

What have you all been doing at home these days?

xo Deborah


  1. Dearest Deborah,
    You have been quite a Kitchen Queen and made good use of some of your stock.
    The bread looked perfect, great dense texture which both of us prefer above the way too fluffy 'American' bread, compared to European ones.
    Super for having tackled that sewing project too... when we're forced to stay in, things get done.
    Such knitted dish cloths I've been gifted with for Christmas' past.
    Both of us enjoyed our Taiwanese Bidet that Pieter did bring home from his trip to Japan/China/Hong Kong/Taiwan. Heated water circulating and with front and back spray nozzles. It was quite a conversation piece at the time of selling our home before moving to Pennsylvania.
    Sending you hugs,

  2. You have been so productive! This is no time for brand loyalty is it. I like that teddy bear in the window idea and may steal it. Stay safe and well.

  3. Deborah, you have been very resourceful. Congratulations on achieving your goal, not just in weight, but in practice! That's really commendable. All your recipes look fabulous. I also used up my Christmas ham bone (but with navy beans). My husband is a very picky eater, and that's one he'll eat. Love the teddy bear concept, that's caught on here as well. And I love, love, love knitted dish cloths. I grab those each time I find them at estate sales, and prefer using those over rags. Good to hear from you. Stay well.

  4. Hello Deborah, it is good to have "The Beautiful Matters" back. For health reasons I need to cut sugar and gluten out of my diet completely. Your bread looks wonderful (as do the other results of your cooking) and I was wondering if it would be possible for you to provide a recipe or link to some of the items. It would be so helpful to someone like me who is just beginning this journey. Keep well!

    1. The recipe is on the King Arthur Flour website. It is the Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread. I followed the recipe exactly except I did not use sugar. The initial rise time was two hours rather than one, because I didn't use sugar (which feeds the yeast). The second rising was about an hour.
      The banana nut muffin recipe and the blueberry coffee cake recipe (actually a blueberry muffin recipe that I just made into a single "cake") were also from the King Arthur Flour website. Search for the gluten free recipes. I just omitted the sugar. Warning: if you are not used to going without sugar, these won't taste super great! If you use super ripe bananas, though, that will add some natural sweetness to the muffins. I am still experimenting. You might be able to use some stevia or erythritol. I am avoiding any kind of sweetener because I don't want to keep feeding my sweet tooth. Best wishes as you cut out sugar and gluten. I can tell you you will feel so much better!

    2. Thank you so much for this! I have a terrible sweet tooth and this is going to be hard. You are my inspiration and I would so love to lose some weight as diabetes type 2 runs in my family and I am scared to death of becoming another diabetic. Thank you for your good wishes.

  5. Could you include bread recipe? It is much easier to have one that has been tried and is a
    success than looking for recipes. You have been very productive.
    mary wyatt

  6. Its so good to catch up with you. What an amazing weight loss well done. I have managed 12 pounds so far but it is a work in progress. Take care and stay safe.

    1. It is SO hard!! It was painfully slow, about 5 pounds a month. I have re-gained lost weight before, and I'm trying to be vigilant now. I don't ever want to have to do this again! 12 pounds is great. Congratulations!

  7. Congrats to you on losing so much weight! I am trying to cut back on carbs and sugar. I have been doing a lot of dinners and my husband takes care of breakfast. I take Zumba lessons with my gym friends as the gym instructor teaches the classes on Zoom. I did already 5 Zumba classes this week! I like the towels you made and the knitting is really nice too. It's great that you have a lot to keep you busy right now. Stay well and be safe.

  8. Happy Sunday Deborah! I love this post and want to say congrats for being so diligent with eliminating sugar and gluten from your diet, great job on weight loss too. It’s amazing how when we eliminate inflammatory triggers our health gets better. All your dishes look wonderful, especially the soup! I’m going to get some of the eye makeup pads.

  9. Thank you for this post! I'm very inspired by your dedication to a sugar free diet, not to mention all your cooking successes!

  10. Oh, wow! 45 pounds!!!! I am SOOOO proud of you for sticking it out and being so succesful!! You are such an inspiration! May the Lord continue to bless you. The teddy bear in the window literally brought me to tears.

  11. Hi Deb! First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on your weight loss...oh my gosh, really have stuck to your guns! You have certainly been a busy girl and have been creating such wonderful looking meals...I would like to have a slice of that yummy bread right now! Of course you know we are on our property and within the next few weeks, they should actually start breaking ground for the house. I have been busy getting the RV set up for as long as we must live in much I couldn't when we were camping in the yard. It sure is good I have plenty of room to roam too since it has been weeks since I have been out and about...Jim does the shopping but sure is hard not to do my own shopping, except what I get on Amazon. I am adjusting...I mean we all have to right? My next project will be restoring 2 vintage sinks that we purchased for the times! Take care and hang in there, my friend! Blessings on your new week!

  12. Oh, indeed, hats off to you for your 45# weight loss. My Hubby is on a lifestyle eating change (a diet) and working on 45# himself. He's down 10# this month and he seems more determinded than ever. I'm cheering him all the way. Looks like you are using this isolation time very wisely. We gotten our porches and patio ready for spring, worked int he flower beds and I've cleaned and cleaned some more. Such a time as this........blessings!

  13. Spending more time online than I should, but I feel it's important to stay abreast of things. Painting more. Doing a LOT more gardening - I want a garden full of produce this summer. Your Amazon orders look great!

  14. Good for you to maintaining the sugar-free diet and losing 45 pounds.

    I've also been using Zoom to keep in touch with co-workers. Have you heard of the terrible Zoombombings? One co-worker's Zoom meeting got disrupted with loud music and rated R photos. So I'm going to start password-protecting my Zoom meetings as a precaution.

  15. Hi Deborah, thanks for your email, I will respond. This post sounds so much like me! Congrats on the weight loss--just about the same amount as I lost after I stopped sugar. I would love the bread recipe, could you send it? I use that xantham gum a lot especially when using almond flour (can't use regular flour). I've heard bidet purchases are off the chart! The Europeans are smart! I too have been cleaning out the freezer. I like leftovers so I don't have to cook so much!

  16. Hi Deborah,
    What a lovely chatty post. There's been a lot of cooking here, too, and I'm getting down to the bottom of the deep freezer which is a good thing. Congratulations on your weight loss! That took grit and determination!


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