Easy whole wheat bread

easy homemade bread
Fresh out of the oven
Why bake your own bread?
1) eliminate preservatives
2) tastes great
3) can make it anytime and eliminate a run to the store
4) It’s satisfying to make something yourself
5) It’s cheap and can speed your path to getting FI


With a bread machine it doesn’t take much effort, but it does take some. It’s probably best to be honest with yourself and if you don’t see yourself making bread on the weekend or evening as a fun activity, then don’t spend the $ to go down this path. It’s not frugal to store an unused bread machine in your basement. Another consideration is it takes a bit of skill to cut bread slices, if that is not something you are into, again, maybe don’t go down this path.

How many ingredients do you need? Six plus water
Here’s a list of ingredients for my 50% whole wheat recipe:
home made bread ingredients
You probably have the some of the ingredients already
WATER (a mug, see below)
BROWN SUGAR (1.5 tablespoons)
SALT (1/8 teaspoon)
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL (about 2 tablespoons)
Ingredients from a major bread manufacturer (18+water):
DATEM (diacetyl trataric ester of mono- and diglycerides)
Bread maker

Bread machine

I don’t have any reason to like my machine over others on the market, but it has been going strong for 3+ years and works just fine. It’s a Rosewill R-BM-01 for 1.5 and 2 lb loaves. I paid $39.99 for it from Newegg.com in 2013. Here’s a similar machine.

Bread making approach

I prefer to make the 1.5 lb size (for two people). I leave the machine in a seldom-used room so we don’t have to listen to it, and just take the mixer bowl to the kitchen and back to the room when making bread. No moving the machine around. I clean the mixer bowl by hand with water. My bread machine makes loaves that have a small indentation in the middle of the bottom of the loaf from the mixer. To avoid this I tried moving the dough after mixing into a bread pan and baking in the oven. But I found this to be too much of a hassle, so now I just cook it in the bread machine and deal with the small hole in the bottom.

Ok let’s make bread:

  • Remove any remaining crusty bits from the mixer before you start and rinse it out with water to clean
  • Add ~¼ teaspoon of salt to the mixer
  • Add a tablespoon of brown sugar (can substitute regular sugar)
  • Pour water into a regular sized coffee mug up to ½ inch from the top.
    I use a coffee mug to measure water. 1/2 inch from the top

    Microwave the mug for ~30 seconds until the water is warm but not hot (don’t want to kill the yeast). Add the water to the mixer

    I pour in olive oil straight from the bottle till the slick is the size of a baseball
  • Add olive oil until it forms a circle the size of a baseball on top of the water, approximately two tablespoons (I don’t measure because I don’t want to clean the measuring cup)
  • Add 1.5 cups of whole grain flour and 1.5 cups of white bread flour. If you like less whole wheat you can also do 2 cups white and 1 cup whole wheat
  • Make an indentation in the middle of the flour when you add the last cup and add a teaspoon of bread machine yeast
  • Set bread maker to: 1.5 lb loaf, medium crust, basic bread setting (machine settings may vary). My machine takes 2h53min
  • When bread is done follow the bread machine instructions to safely remove the loaf and let the bread cool at least 20 minutes on a wire rack before cutting and eating. (DW has been known to cut a piece before 20 minutes). I set my phone timer so I remove the bread from the machine very soon after it is done cooking

Bread Storage

I use a Prep Solutions by Progressive Adjustable Bread Keeper. There are no preservatives so plan on eating it within 5 days.


That’s it. Great bread with minimal effort and minimal ingredients.

Buy quality clothing to get FI

Buy quality clothing to be frugal for financial independence
My go-to cool weather outfit on the farm. Fleece shirt with 1/4 zip and fleece pants.

What goes into choosing a shirt in the morning?

I own about 50 shirts but I only regularly wear about 20 of them. So 30 just sit in my closet. They are all in good shape, close to new condition. But they all have something not quite right with them. So I wear my favorite shirts and the rest just hang there. It took me quite awhile for me to figure out that I have a long torso relative to my arm length. This means when I buy shirts I have to pay attention that they are long enough, or they just come untucked when I wear them. I also figured out that when I wear T-shirts I like the ones that are loose fitting. I am a large but different brands make larges at different sizes. So some fit a bit tighter than others. Those tight ones stay in the drawer because when I pick out a shirt I choose the ones that feel good. Now I buy XL depending on the brand.

I like high quality socks

I grew up in the era where white tube socks were cheap and everyone wore them. Later I migrated to darker poly-cotton socks and found a brand that was pretty good. But then I found Lorpen socks. Lorpen makes a bunch of different types with different materials like merino wool and coolmax, and they are not cheap. They have reinforced areas and feel solid. They also make socks that are anti-odor that are great for travel or camping. When I put them on I can’t go back to the thin cotton-poly socks. Lorpen socks last a long time. Now my other socks just sit in the back of the drawer.

Who cares about what shirts or socks Mr. Wheat wears?

Good question. My point is not to convince you to buy long shirts or Lorpen socks. My point is that it’s worth figuring out what works for you, and then putting some thought and effort into a wardrobe that you like to wear. Just because a piece of clothing is a good deal, doesn’t mean it works for you.

5 Strategies for getting value for your $ in clothing:

1. Spend some time shopping, from your favorite couch: Amazon has become the 800 pound gorilla of commerce for a reason. You can search a product and sort for the highest reviews. It’s like surveying a hundred people who have tested your product. I rarely buy a product with less than 4 star rating. And I actually read some of the ratings, it’s worth your time. You don’t have to buy from Amazon, I actually buy a fair amount of clothes from Sierra Trading Post. Continue reading “Buy quality clothing to get FI”

Ten tips for buying a house in the country

Buying a house in the country
Which country property is right for you?
Why even buy a house?

On the path to financial independence buying a house can have a huge impact, both positive and negative. There are major advantages to renting, and some bloggers advocate renting forever. But renting has its downsides. Being in a rental means you may not be able to modify your property to your liking. It also means that improving the property benefits someone else financially. Finally there is a major lack of control; if the owner decides to sell the property when the lease is up, you are now looking for a new place.

Tip 1. Avoiding societal programming when buying a house

There are a lot of ads that promote the idea that ‘owning your own home’ is a major life achievement. But let’s analyze this for a minute. First, why does the real estate industry use the word home instead of house? Are you buying a home or a house? If you buy a house and you put down 1%, do you really ‘own a home’? You have a mortgage and the rights to live in the house. If the house increases in value you will reap the rewards. But if the market is flat or it decreases in value you also suffer the consequences. If you buy the house outright with cash, clearly you are a ‘house-owner’. That’s it, you either own a house or you don’t. Make sure the emotion of a ‘home’ is distinct from a house.

Tip 2. Run the numbers

Continue reading “Ten tips for buying a house in the country”

Podcasts I like

When you have a big job, podcasts make it much more enjoyable
Podcasts on the homestead

There are a lot of chores where I don’t need to concentrate; tilling the garden, mowing, spraying, snowblowing, building raised beds. Podcasts are great for that, I can educate myself and get stuff done at the same time. Earbuds work well for some chores, but for noisier ones I use earbuds with earmuffs.

My top five podcasts
  1. The Tim Ferriss show. Amazing guests who have a lot to share. Favorite podcast: “David “DHH” Heinemeier Hansson: The Power of Being Outspoken”.
  2. Mad Fientist. FI podcast. Favorite podcast: “Lacking Ambition – Three Months After FI
  3. Masters in Business. Iconic guests. I’m going to pick 2 favorite podcasts for this one: “Interview With Jack Bogle” and “Interview With Mohamed El-Erian
  4. Hardcore History. Dan Carlin digs into history and brings it to life. Favorite podcast “Hardcore History 48 – Prophets of Doom
  5. Car Talk. Tom and Ray Magliozzi talk about cars. Tom passed away in 2014 but they have lots of archived material they continue to release. No favorite podcast: They are all fun.

Trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Granite sculpture of cutthroat trout in downtown Santa Fe

This is a 5 night trip trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. We used credit card points to cover ½ the flights (Spokane to Albuquerque), the rental car, and the Inn. Santa Fe has great hiking trails, eateries, art, and beer. It also has interesting Pueblo ruins nearby. We went in late August arriving on a Sunday and leaving on a Friday morning to avoid the weekend, and did not find it crowded. The temperatures were just right, highs around 80F.

Planning the flights

We used Alaska points to fly there, and our Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) $300 travel credit to pay for most of the return flight. We booked about 10 months in advance and unfortunately our convenient flight from Spokane to Albuquerque was changed for the worse. I called Alaska as soon as the flights were changed and asked for a better flight. The rep offered to refund my points. But I politely said that since I had booked so far in advance I did not want a refund, as there was now no availability to rebook using points. I requested a change to a specific flight which left at 6am. We were given that flight which now meant leaving the homestead at 3:30 am… This happens a lot to us when booking with points or cash far in advance. The flights are changed closer to the departure date, and it is usually less convenient. I suggest contacting the airline as soon as a flight is changed for the worse. But find a desired flight before you call, so you can ask for a change to the specific flight you want. For the return flight we found a convenient flight on Delta. Again the flight was changed to a longer layover (1h45min) in Salt Lake City after we booked it. I looked online and it was still the best flight so I did not request a change.

Booking the rental car with Chase UR points

For the car I like to use Chase UR points via the CSR card to take advantage of the primary insurance that comes with it. We don’t carry collision on our own older vehicles, so the primary insurance through the CSR card is important. I looked at the ratings of the car rental companies at the Albuquerque airport using Google maps and booked with Enterprise which had a high rating. Total cost to rent a compact from Enterprise for 5 days from the Albuquerque airport: 15,866 UR points taking advantage of the 1.5X value of points for travel using the CSR card.

Booking a place to stay using Chase UR points

I wanted to use Chase UR points with our CSR in order to get the 1.5X value. We found an Inn within walking distance of the Santa Fe Plaza that had a separate room not connected to the main building. If possible I prefer to not share a wall/ceiling/floor with other guests and this separate cottage room had that. I used up 102,340 Chase UR points for a 5 night stay, pretty spendy. But it came with breakfast and I’m willing to pay more for separation (peace and quiet) from other guests. We booked almost a year in advance so no problems finding a room. Next time we visit Santa Fe I might stay 2 nights in town to enjoy the eateries, and then 3 nights in the mountains.

Getting to Santa Fe

We had 2×2 seating for all four flight segments. Our Alaska flight was a turboprop from Spokane to Portland, and we had a jet from Portland to Albuquerque. After a short shuttle ride we were checked out quickly into our Kia Rio and on our way. We stopped at Weck’s in Albuquerque for lunch where we had great comfort food, service, and coffee. Then we continued on to Santa Fe. I was surprised to learn that Santa Fe is at 7200 ft elevation and our Inn host suggested we drink plenty of water. One nice thing about leaving at 3:30 am is we arrived by about 2pm.

Gastropub extraordinaire

I found a pub online called Fire & Hops that had a nice mix of fine food, but casual atmosphere. We strolled Santa Fe and arrived around 5:30 pm to find only a few people. Not a great sign. We ordered their elote appetizer which was grilled corn with a sauce of shrimp and chile. Fantastic. Dinner was just as good. I had Sea Bass and DW had steak. But it gets even better, the beer in New Mexico is outstanding. I ordered the Uppercut IPA from Boxing Bear Brewing and enjoyed it. Our server was knowledgeable and allowed us to taste a couple of options. For the next beer I got La Cumbre’s El Jugo (juice) IPA. Unique with a lot of citrus and it went great with the Sea Bass. Later on in the trip I tried La Cumbre’s Elevated IPA, again great. When we visited again 3 days later on a Wednesday the place was packed at 5:30 pm, as we’d expect from how well our first meal went. This time I got the steak and DW got the shrimp with grit cakes. Again, outstanding food and service.

La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site
A petroglyph at La Cieneguilla

Our first day we didn’t want to drive a lot so we took a 22 minute drive to La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs. There is a trail from the parking lot to the base of the cliffs and then you scramble up to near the top where the petroglyphs are. You can then move along the base to see additional petroglyphs, scrambling up each time to see another area. It was a nice, relaxing way to start the trip. We drove back into town and had lunch at Rooftop Pizzeria with nice views of Santa Fe. We enjoyed the pizza and salad.

Santa Fe trip view
View from The Rooftop Pizzeria patio
Georgia O’Keefe Gallery and New Mexico Museum of Art

After lunch we walked to the Georgia O’Keefe Gallery which has a room with a timeline of her development of as an artist, and many examples of her art over her long career. It was nice to see the development over time. A short walk to the New Mexico Museum of Art where there was a display of sketches and how artists use them to develop their pieces. Artists included Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Rembrandt. Very Cool.

Beer with a view

We strolled around some shops and then had some more good New Mexico beer at The Draft Station on their patio overlooking the Plaza. A nice place to relax with a beer and a great view.

Santa Fe brewery
View of the Santa Fe Plaza from the Draft Station patio
Bandelier National Monument
Bandelier National Monument
Ladder to Alcove House

The next day we drove 54 minutes (41 miles) to Bandelier National Monument to see ruins of the Pueblo people. You park your car at a Visitor Center and take a shuttle into the Park. You pay an entrance fee for the car you left at the Visitor Center. We decided to take the tour at the monument where the ranger explained about the different Puebloan people who lived in the Frijoles canyon and some of their culture. There is a paved trail and you can enter a few of the Puebloan houses. Very enjoyable.

View from Alcove House

On the way back we stopped at the Tsankawi prehistoric site and did a short hike.

Hiking on a well worn trail in the rock at Tsankawi

You can see where the ancestral Puebloan people hiked trails that are carved into the soft rock. The Tsankawi hike was nice for solitude, with only two other couples there when we arrived. We had dinner at New Mexico Hard Cider Taproom. They had a large selection of New Mexico beer and cider and I had a Bosque Brewing IPA (notice a theme here?) which was … great.

Winsor and Raven’s Ridge Trail

The drive up 475 (aka Hyde Park Road) from Santa Fe up to Winsor trailhead in Santa Fe National Forest takes about 35 minutes. The elevation at the Winsor trailhead is 10,280 ft. This is the highest elevation hike I have ever done and I wasn’t sure how it would feel. We had been in Santa Fe for two days to acclimate to the higher altitude and we had to take breaks but it wasn’t too bad for us. We got to the first overlook on the Raven’s Ridge Trail and got the stunning view of Santa Fe Baldy. That was enough of a workout and we turned back. I am not used to the treeline being so high. The contrast between the forest at 10,000 ft and the high desert of Santa Fe at 7,200 ft with only a 35 minute drive was interesting.

Santa Fe hiking
View of Santa Fe Baldy from Raven’s Ridge trail
Dorothy Stewart Trail

The next day we had planned to travel to see more Puebloan ruins at Pecos National Historical Park, but decided instead to just do a short local hike. I looked up the Dorothy Stewart Trail which was within 10 minutes of our Inn. There is limited parking at the trailhead and we were lucky and got the second to last spot. The hike gave a nice view of Santa Fe and we could see some very nice homes in the hills. It was a good reminder of the solitude we get in the Palouse. There was construction noise and the noise of a nearby school throughout the hike. But the views were great and it was a nice trail.

View of Santa Fe from the Dorothy Stewart Trail
Museum of Indian Arts & Culture

After the hike we drove to the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture which was only a few minutes from the trailhead. There was an interesting pottery display from the different Puebloan people, and we found a nice photograph of Navaho on horseback from 1904 in the gift shop.

Final evening and return home
Seafood special at Martin’s Restaurant with Elevated IPA

We walked to Santa Fe Spirits Tasting Room for happy hour and had Moscow mule and ‘So much winning’ cocktails which were excellent. The service was also excellent. A short walk to Martin’s restaurant for excellent seafood and … La Cumbre Elevated IPA. A great finish to our first trip to New Mexico. Our trip back was on time and we used our extra layover time in Salt Lake City to have a nice lunch at Vino Volo Ale House and to start this post.

Trip to Santa Fe
Santa Fe sunset

Our trip to Santa Fe was fun with very high quality beer, food and art. The high elevation and being next to even higher mountains makes it a unique place with diverse outdoor activities. The ancestral Puebloan areas were fun to see. On this trip we enjoyed some hikes and next visit I’m looking forward to mountain biking some of their trails. And thanks to Chase for 150k UR points bonus for the CSR (100k) and Chase Sapphire Preferred (50k) credit cards, and to Bank of America/Alaska credit card for the 30k point bonus.  🙂 Having banks help pay for vacations is one way to get FI faster.