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Another Step of Sorrow

This begins the third part of my series on grief.  I’ve decided to “write it all out”, defining this feeling and expressing just how hard it is to mourn with small children.  Please take a moment to look here for the first part and here for the second part.

And Yet Again

My words took their time forming and reforming in my head.  My thoughts weren’t ready to be shared yet.  It didn’t come together until last night, when I was awake again as my family slept, sobbing quietly while my brain worked overtime.  I wasn’t really able to put into words my experiences until just now, as I pound away on my laptop as the babes nap.

It didn’t make sense to share what I was going through if I couldn’t make sense of it either.

But yesterday I suffered another profound loss. Yesterday, I watched as my sweet, tolerant, loving, fluffy 14-year-old cat died.  I watched it happen, literally at my feet, with both my children in the room and witnessing it as well.

All over again, the lid came off my vast cup of grief and the sadness that was poured into it overflowed and washed over me.

It is Never JUST a Pet

I rescued that cat from a stray colony in the swamps of Florida 14 years ago.  This fluffy kitten with needle claws climbed my pant leg and mewed at me.  I scooped it up and claimed it, this purring ball of fur.  It wasn’t until Princess went in to be spayed that we learned it was a he to be neutered.  He has lived with me in over a dozen places, been through a couple relationships before meeting and moving in with the BHE, tolerating our parties and our home renovations, enjoying sunshine wherever he could lay in it, being the best snuggle buddy and friend to my other cat, loving to sit on laps, and allowing the roughness and shock of two small children be a part of his life.

A few weeks before adopting Princess, I euthanized my sweet smooshy-face kitty who was only 9 years old but dying of leukemia.  Now, I have watched two blonde long-haired cats die.  My children were with me this time.  My tender-hearted Angel watched as Princess had a stroke and died.  She obeyed without question or argument as I rushed to get her and the boy changed and loaded into the car.  She didn’t fight or fuss when I carried our sweet kitty outside, wrapped in a towel, to drive us to the vet.  She quietly sat on a chair at the clinic as the vet calmly said he was gone before we got there.

The Angel even thought to grab her toy stethoscope so she, too, could listen for Princess’s heartbeat at the kitty doctor’s office.

How to Explain It to a Three-Year-Old

The BHE lovingly picked up my favorite take-out last night then went to dig a grave after dinner.  Twice, I had to lift the bundle of quilted fabric with its satin bow to fit him down into the earth.  I took the shovel and filled the dirt back in around him.  All the while, I had to keep my sobs in check because of the questions coming from my daughter.

“Where is Pin-sess?  Why is he still sleeping?  What Pin-sess doing, Mommy?  When will he come back inside?  Mommy, what that sound?”

That sound, little lady, is what we call keening and it is the best I can do to keep the grief in check, to not lose the bit of control I’ve got over myself right now.

Because grieving with small children just isn’t possible.  You can’t let it out.  You can’t fully express it.  You can’t spill that cup of darkness and let the sobs break out of you until exhaustion takes over and the grief becomes more of a silent companion than an ever-present darkness threatening to slap you down.

This morning, as the Angel and I descended the stairs to start our day, she asked like she does every morning if she could feed the kitties.  There was just one food bowl, though, just Nicky’s.  I had to explain all over again that Princess had died, that he wouldn’t be coming back in, that we wouldn’t need to feed him ever again because he was enjoying the eternally filled bowl of kitty crunchies.

My tender-hearted angel put her hands over her face and cried.  Through her fingers and sobs, I heard her say, “I wanna pet he.  I miss he.  I worried he all alone out there.”

Loss is real to her now. Loss is a thing, not just something witnessed as Mommy cried at Great-Grandma’s and then Great-Grandpa’s funerals.  Loss is tangible and greatly affects her daily life.  And I have been blessed to receive this healthy, intelligent, loving child and have been blessed to be called to teach her, not just to read and to be polite but to experience and express each emotion.  I get to guide her through her grief.

The Cup Overflowed

But, I tell you, I can’t do it again.  That is three great losses in less than 10 months.  I can’t do it.  Every time I close my eyes, there’s this image of a cup the size of a galaxy, filled with more darkness than stars, swirling as more darkness is added to it, three large helpings of loss in a cup barely big enough to contain it all.  This cup is tilted precariously and near it is a wide, thin piece of cork that should serve as a lid.  The lid is off, the contents are starting to spill over the sides.  I can’t take another blow.  I have wept so much yet it feels not enough.  I have hidden my tears and sobs, I have silenced my grief.  I can’t afford to completely meltdown under the pressure and let that dark galaxy spill across my daily life.

Mourning is a luxury I cannot afford with children.  Grief has become a heavy companion.

Steps of Deep Sorrow on This Path

This begins the second part of my series on grief.  I’ve decided to “write it all out”, defining this feeling and expressing just how hard it is to mourn with small children.

The Big Blows

Throughout my life, I was compared to my dad’s mother.  My laugh, my body type, my sense of humor, my love of reading all seem to have come from this spunky old woman.  In the last decade, after I not only became an adult but really became aware of who I am and where I’m meant to go with my life, I became really close to her.

I talked to my Grandma Lucy at least once a week for at least an hour each time for almost 10 years.  I shared everything with her, and she listened and talked and guided and laughed with me.  She was, truly, a mother to me.  Lucy talked to me not like I was a grandchild to be doted on or coddled but like another adult.  We talked like we were old friends who had much wisdom to impart to one another.  And that meant so much to me.

She became ill shortly after I became pregnant the second time.  She entered a nursing facility as I entered my third trimester.  My son was born shortly after her birthday, right at Thanksgiving last year.  Lucy returned home at the beginning of the year so she could die in peace.

I buried my grandmother on a bitter cold, snowy day while clutching my newborn son.

My husband was my rock.  He guided me, he cared for me, he helped with the children, he answered our daughter’s questions, he listened and provided.

Mourning Needs More

But what he couldn’t do was completely take over the care of both of our kids while I gave into the grief.  I’m a SAHM with a duty, and our son was exclusively breastfed at that time.  I couldn’t drop everything, curl up on the couch with tissues, and spend days sobbing in my pajamas instead of eating or taking care of myself.  I couldn’t stop caring for my children, either.

I didn’t have the luxury of giving into my grief.

I have a family I need to care for, and I have two littles that require me to function and provide for them.

When my father called to tell me his mother had died, I fell to the floor.  I literally dropped to my knees.  I took a deep breath, thanked him for calling, and asked if I could call him later.  I let myself have one big gulping sob and then I heard my daughter ask, “What wrong, Mommy?”

Immediately, I had to suck it up.  I had to pull it together and use my words and try to explain the situation.  Through the next few days of buying the kids funeral-appropriate attire and booking a hotel room and arranging for someone to feed the cats, I also had to make three meals a day and change diapers and stick to a routine.

Which left the dark of night the only chance I could really cry.  And even then, I had to do it quietly so as not to disturb my slumbering family.

You Try to “Move On”

Life carried on afterward, as it does.  Like my friend warned me, the grief does creep up on me sometimes.  There are days where I look at the framed photo of Lucy and me, and I smile; there are days where I get tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat when I am reminded of the loss.

There are also the days where something wonderful happens and I immediately think that I need to call Lucy and tell her about it.  And quickly the joy snaps to grief and the yawning cup of sadness becomes thick as it reveals how full it still is because I recall that I can’t call her, I can’t share this with her.

Yes, there is the part of me that knows she did see it, she did share it with me, but we all know that accepting your deceased loved ones are in Heaven isn’t the same as talking to them on the phone or visiting with them in your home.  Is it selfish, or even unfaithful, for me to say that I don’t think that is good enough?  That Heaven isn’t good enough?  I just want to call her.

And Again

We knew my grandfather would follow his wife within a year.  It had been half-joked about in the past, and Grandpa even said at her funeral that he was ready to go with her.  It took a few months, but he did join her.  Frank passed in July, just 5 months behind Lucy.

Since our wedding anniversary and the Angel’s birthday are close in date, we generally take a short family vacation in early July.  I made plans for us to spend a few days in the city where I was born and had visited so often because my grandparents lived there.  I wanted to show the BHE and the kids the places where I played and went to school, learned to swim, got bit by a peacock, and ate my favorite meals.  I also wanted to make sure we visited my grandfather.

That was one of the hardest things I’ve done since saying goodbye to my grandmother.

He didn’t know me.  I knew from a few brief phone calls and the reports from my father, uncle, and brother that Grandpa wasn’t really all Grandpa anymore.  But to walk into their home, that still smelled like her, and have him look at me and not know who I was… was just too much.  The BHE handled it well, guiding the conversation and intently listening as Grandpa’s mind moved around his history: he wasn’t here with us in the present but jumping about his own life’s chronology and remembering people and places we didn’t know.  I busied myself with the kids.

A few weeks later, when my dad called to say Grandpa had died, I again hit my knees.  I again thanked him and said I’d call him back when I got it together.  I again took that long, keening gasp.  And I again had my little girl get in my face and ask, “What wrong, Mommy?”  Once again, I had to pull it together, tamp down the grief, explain in terms a 3-year-old could understand, and proceed through life with a lid loosely fitted onto that cup of sadness.

Overflow

Now, though, the cup was fuller, the contents pushing against the bottom of the lid.  In some ways, that made the funeral and all that entails a bit easier to deal with.  We had just done this: we knew what was expected, how to act, who we’d see, what needed to be done, what wasn’t so important.

In other ways, the grieving was that much harder, as I was grieving the loss of both of my grandparents rather than just the one.  I had not yet lost myself in grief over losing the woman who meant the most to me in all my life and here I had to keep that tamped down as I poured more grief on top, more sadness that I couldn’t express, as we buried my grandfather.

Mourning with small children is a luxury.

Giving into the sadness, letting the cup overflow so that it can wash itself out and be, not empty, but calmer and easier to deal with, just isn’t an option when so much is expected of you.

I don’t want to scare them.  I don’t want to abandon them.  I need to feed them, clothe them, bathe them, et cetera… but I also need to guide them.  I need to show them what grief looks like but really show them how to handle it, how to experience an emotion without it overriding your senses or your life.

Really, though, I wanted to let that cup fill up and splash out.  I wanted to wallow in my own misery for a few days.  I wanted to not care for a bit and wear every ugly emotion on my sleeve just so I could get it out of my system.  But I couldn’t.  I can’t.  That isn’t responsible parenting.

Why I Have to Write

So I’ve written this post time and time again in my head.  I have sat down at the laptop to pound them out only to keep hitting the backspace because I wasn’t saying what I wanted to say.  I tried to write it all out but it just wasn’t flowing right.  I wasn’t saying with my writing what I meant to convey.  The point of my blog is to share my experiences to enlighten and guide others, to show where I’ve done it wrong as much as where I’ve done it right, to speak to that bit in all of us that doesn’t want to go it alone and needs to know that someone somewhere gets us.

Steps of Deep Sorrow

I have started writing this post so many times in so many ways.  It feels like there is no good way to say what I think and to express what this is like.  I’ve decided to “write it all out” then make this outpouring into a series, defining this feeling and expressing just how hard it is to mourn with small children.

Defining Grief

The first time I sat to write this post, I was experiencing a type of grief that many may not consider to be as such.  I was grieving for a lost ideal:  I had planned for and dreamt of the “perfect birth” since before I became pregnant; I ended up having a planned c-section.

I couldn’t quite come up with the right words, though.  I couldn’t fully express what it was about the situation that merited mourning.  I felt I would be judged harshly for being so selfish, since I was holding a healthy baby girl.  Therefore, I suppressed the pain, anger, and anguish so I could heal from the surgery and take care of my newborn.

While dealing with that grief on my own, feeling unable to express my loss without being judged, a dear friend experienced a miscarriage.  I was so lost in my new life as a mother and an abdominal surgery patient that I couldn’t quite reach her where she needed me to be.  Here I was with a happy, pink, bouncing baby, yet all the dreams my friend had of her life once her child was in her arms were never to come to fruition.  Who was I to console someone with such a loss?  How was I to support her in her mourning when I was mourning something seemingly opposite?

Then the way others treated that miscarriage made me angry; too many said that since it happened so early in her pregnancy that it really wasn’t a loss at all.

How dare they?  How dare anyone define, label, quantify grief?

But I lapsed back into my own selfishness, my life being redefined first by leaving the workforce and then with all the daily changes that came with a newborn.

When another friend lost her dog to a form of cancer, I felt like writing this post on grief again.  I felt like maybe I had a handle on how to define grief and express how I, and these friends, approached our mourning.  I felt like it was time to share my thoughts on how we cannot judge a grieving person, no matter what it is they have lost to how they express their grief.  I especially felt this way after reading comments on her Facebook posts regarding the death of her dog, comments by people claiming to be friends, seemingly expressing their condolences but really telling her to get over it, it was just a dog, human beings are dying daily from cancer, and so on.

Get over it?  Like there is a time limit.  Just a dog?  It isn’t the dog, folks.

Grief isn’t just anything.

Grief can’t be defined, merely described.  Grief doesn’t have a size or a time-limit, so don’t suggest to someone in mourning that this is a “period of grief.”  Grief may lessen or become easier to manage, but the loss will never go away.  It changes shape and size, but that isn’t for another to say.

Grief is a raw crater, a cracked cup, yawning open and echoing back the sounds of your despair.  Grief does not care what you have lost or how long ago the loss occurred; it is an emotion based on the loss itself.

A Little Here, a Little There

Any number of things can trigger a form of mourning.  All sorts of life’s events can be chalked up to loss, a loss that needs to be grieved in order to be overcome.

There have been other little losses since the birth of my daughter.  Other little upsets, like losing friends to drama, losing family to lies, losing money to mistakes, losing sight of the path to our short-term goals.  It isn’t all rough, though, these steps on our thoughtfully sought path.  These losses have been off-set by little gains, like deeper connection in other relationships, being called to a particular church, learning where else we need to be on our path to long-term goals.

Each of those losses, though small, is not insignificant, and they really are the foundation to the other grief I have experienced.  Every little loss in your life is why you react to other losses the way you do and how you manage to carry on despite the emotions that seem to physically weigh you down.

A friend (who became much closer in the past year of little losses) said something to me just after my beloved grandmother passed that I think on every time the grief seems to well up inside of me again.  She said that grief has a way of sneaking up on you.  It will creep in when you’re not expecting it, after you’ve decided you have cried your last and can move forward without it bogging down each day, and it will slap you so hard that you’ll be sobbing like the loss is new.

Basic Bill Spreadsheet

With free printable worksheet!

I am going to start this post with two facts:

  1. I am not a financial adviser.  My education is not in the field of finances.  I am not an expert nor do I give help or expert advice.  I merely am sharing what I learned the hard way, through reading financial advice books and trial-and-error.  If you are looking for more help or expert advice, seek an expert.  I suggest you start at a bank or investment office.
  2. The bill-paying, money-saving method I’m about to share with you has been my own system, developed by me, and used every pay period since late 2009. This system is what works for me.  Many people over the years have asked for this information because they have seen how well it works for our household.  Everything you read here is very personal but very easily tweaked to fit your financial situation.  If you are looking for more help or expert advice, see #1 above.

Quick Background

When I met the BHE in Fall 2005, both of us were financially stupid.  Neither of us had been raised by mothers who knew what the eff they were doing with money.  Both of us were living paycheck-to-paycheck.  The BHE was smart enough to recognize he was dumb when it came to money so had not opened any credit card accounts; I was not so had opened many as well as financed a brand new car.

Therefore, I was in a yawning black hole of debt.  At 22.  And I didn’t even have student loans!*

We moved in together shortly after beginning to date.  He had a much better paying job but I had aspirations to attend Purdue University.  We looked at our money, our complete lack of savings, our living conditions, and my debt…and rented a small house and secured different jobs right before I started at Purdue.**

The new job I got was as a teller at a local bank.  Boy oh boy!  I tell ya, nothing makes you want to fix your money woes more than dealing with lines of people on a daily basis that have it worse than you.  Or helping those customers that have it so much better than you!

This job was an amazing eye-opener for me.  So I took the advantage I had and probably made a nuisance of myself, pestering the coworkers who worked in the aspects of the banking industry that would have the knowledge and advice I sought.

One day when I was tellering from the drive-thru, I pulled out a cute notebook and created the basic layout of what you’re about to see.  Every 3×5 page in that book was for a different payday with the list of bills to be paid from that paycheck before the next pay day.  I put the person/company to be paid, the amount owed, and the due date on each page in chronological order.

When the paycheck would post to my account, I would pay those bills, subtract their total from my pay, and learned how much I was throwing away between necessities like gas for my car and frivolous bs like eating out or engaging in retail therapy.

Holy moly, was I dumb!

The Spreadsheet

I live by this spreadsheet now.  This is how I know what is due when, how much debt I am in, what money I have to work with in the budget for things like groceries and entertainment, and how I keep our finances in check.

This spreadsheet goes back to 2010.  I refer to it at least twice a month.  It is saved on a thumb drive that is the NUMBER ONE THING on my “If The House Were To Catch Fire, What Would You Grab After Your Kids and Cats Were Safely Out?” list.***

Thanks to this spreadsheet, our debt and our credit scores are much, much different (re:  better) than they were.  You could say we are worse off, considering our debt is vastly deeper…but I disagree since the debt is mainly a mortgage and my graduate school student loans.****  We don’t have ridiculous debt like in-store credit cards or payday loans (which neither of us were ever stupid enough to get suckered into, thank God).  You could say we need to save more…and I would agree with you.

But this little gem of an Excel sheet is why we aren’t living paycheck-to-paycheck, own two vehicles and almost have the third paid off, own one house and have the other mortgaged for very little, and can comfortably feed and clothe a family of four on one income.

If you’re still with me and feeling like maybe you need some guidance, keep reading.  But please keep in mind #1 and #2 at the top of this post.

What to List on Your Sheet

The top line of the spreadsheet is my column headers:

Pay Dates – the day of the month the paycheck will be deposited*****
Bill – Name of person/company owed
Amount Due
Due Date

Amount Paid – Yes, this is different from the amount due.  Debt snowball, anyone?  I like to round up from what is due on all our bills but, also, am putting a lot extra towards one credit card (the amount due plus what I had been paying monthly on a credit card we just paid off).
Auto Pay – if I have an asterisk here, I don’t have to log into the account to manually enter payment information each month
Confirmation Number – if the bill isn’t set to auto pay, then I type in the confirmation so (a) I have record and (b) know that I paid it
Balance – this is for loans and credit cards as well as saving accounts
Available – this is for credit cards, not so I know how much I can use, but so I can calculate the percentage of credit being used (a factor of your credit score)

What I Do

I am presenting to you, dear reader, a couple things here.

One is a blank printable that you can use for a month or just a pay period, to get a feel for it and see how the columns work for you.  Maybe you can scribble in your changes and come back to the post to comment what worked or didn’t work for you.

You also can have another handy free printable from Thoughtfully Sought that has those adorable sheaths of wheat made from little green footprints.  I’m quite proud of those, thank you!

bill-pay-printable-monthly

bill-pay-printable-sample

The other thing I am showing you is a sample that you can print to guide you on filling out your spreadsheet.  I’ve included two months with two pay periods each.

The spreadsheets on my thumb drive are created in Excel and each year gets its own tab.  I do a lot of copying and pasting.  I will happily send each of you the Excel sheet so you can use it for your own finances.  I’m not posting it here because, frankly, I don’t know how.******

What’s Next

Like I said, this spreadsheet works for our family and has done wonders for our debt over the past 7 years.  Give it a go and see how it helps you.

If anything, maybe you won’t face another late fee again.  I haven’t in yeeeeears.

If you need to color code, you do that.

If you want your bills listed chronologically by due date, do it.

If you are concerned about auto pay or paying bills online, I have no idea what to say to you.  I mean, this is 2016.  I’ve been paying bills online for almost a decade.  I’ve worked in different aspects of banking at two different banks and can tell you that online bill pay is a blessing and not to be feared.

There are two different ways I pay bills online:  log into each account on their secure sites or set up payment through my bank’s secured site (again, I am not a professional, just a friendly blogger giving personally-tested advice).

Come on back to this post to tell me what you liked and didn’t like, what worked great, and what you think I could make better. 

If you are a financial adviser cringing at my work, bless you and thank you for making it this far.

 

*Yet.

**Boiler Up!

***I keep meaning to write an inspirational blog post about this list, what is on yours, and how it all ties into Minimalism.  But I digress.

****Thanks to this spreadsheet and other money savvy moves, and praise Jesus for the scholarships I got through Purdue, I only have student loan debt from my masters.  I made sure what little I owed on my undergrad was paid off before I paid to take the GRE.  Since I was an out-of-state grad student at Southern Connecticut State University, seeing my currently-deferred student loan debt makes my eye twitch and my asshole double pucker.

*****In our case, it is the date that the BHE will deposit the set amount he gives me each pay period to cover the bills that I’m “in charge of” plus groceries.  This helps me stay within our budget because what he deposits should cover what I’ve budgeted, and we would have to discuss any other expenses since I would need to request another deposit.

******I hope to one day migrate ThoughtfullySought.com off of WordPress.com and just have it as a Word Press site on another hosted platform.  That is another project for another day.

Trying to Unstuff

Dear Readership and Social Media World,

In. Un. Dated.  Inundated.  There is no better word.  There’s just been so much STUFF going on.  And coming in.  And going out.  Just stuff, Stuff, STUFF.

Sometimes, when it rains, it pours, and it is all one can do to stay afloat in the rushing river of life.

Today I write to you to just remind you that I am here and constantly thinking of what to share with you next.  I have two recipes with photos just waiting to be posted (after editing, of course), another BzzAgent bzz campaign, my efforts towards debt consolidation and pay off, and our embracing of the idea of Minimalism with an unstructured attempt at the challenge of shedding all the extra Stuff.

Stay tuned to Thoughtfully Sought as I write and photograph and share with you the stumbles and sprints I’m making down my path through life.  I feel that the latest flood is starting to slow to a trickle and I’ll have more dry times ahead to spend blogging.

Until then, enjoy some recipes and try out knitting.

Yours truly and thankfully,

Sarah

From Her Perspective

Another glimpse at the world through a toddler’s eyes

Sitting on the couch the other day with Handsome Rover on my lap, Angel Baby walked up and pointed at her new brother’s eyes.

“His eyes blue.”  She pointed at my eyes.  “Mommy eyes blue, too.”  I smiled and agreed with her, repeating her words as I always do so that she hears proper pronunciation and verb usage as well as knows that I am listening and understood her.

“What color my eyes?” Angel baby asked, pointing at her face.

“They’re gray, like Grandma Lucy’s,” I said without thinking.  Her middle name is Lucille after my grandmother, whom I used to speak to weekly, for an hour each time.

The grandmother who passed away two weeks ago.

I caught my own words and my eyes got that familiar prick as my throat developed that familiar burn, the one that happens when you try to shut down the tears before they start.

This kid picks up more than I give her credit for, surprising me all the time.  Angel Baby remembered the visitation and funeral we attended last week.

“Oh.  Like Gamma eyes.  Where did Gamma Lucy go?” she asked, putting her hands up in a common gesture of questioning.

“Grandma Lucy isn’t here anymore.  Do you remember where we went last week?  That was to say goodbye to Grandma.”  I know I was squeezing Handsome Rover too tight as I was trying to not choke up.

“Oh.  Yeah.  Goodbye to Gamma.  She not here now.  She gone.  She went home.  We see her again but not soon.”

She nodded through the first half of her stream of words but was shaking her head when she reached the end.

I swear, toddlers are sponges, absorbing the world and sending it back out after a liquid filtering of the words, meanings, and life around them.

Healthy Snacking: Stove Top Popcorn with Coconut Oil

Random craving turned into a quest that resulted in some awesomeness!

Fresh and Hot, Popcorn just off the stove!

Fresh and Hot, Popcorn just off the stove!

Snack Time

I have a toddler. My toddler no longer likes the half dozen or snacks that I rotate through for her to enjoy. Blankly staring at the pantry yesterday while Angel Baby stood behind me, repeatedly signing “eat,” while repeatedly saying the word “eat,” I saw my jar of popcorn kernels.  Eureka! hadn’t made popcorn in ages!

DING!!

I pulled out the jar and read the label I made for it.

“Popcorn:  1/4 c in bowl with plate as lid for 4:45 in micro”

Ugh, no thanks. Yes, this works.  About a third of the kernels don’t pop, the bowl gets super hot, and there’s too big of a chance of burning half your popcorn. Also, if you don’t get it out of the microwave and into a different container right away, you get half-soggy, half-already-stale-popcorn. No, thank you.

It is time for a new method… And a cuter label.

Thank God for the Internet

I found this gem that I haven’t fully explored yet:  RecipeGirl! Enjoy… Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled program.

I don’t keep any kind of typical frying oil in my house. I don’t fry food. I don’t like fried food. Goes to reason, eh? What I do have is some non GMO Smart Balance cooking spray, organic extra virgin olive oil, unrefined organic coconut oil, and refined organic coconut oil.

The instructions RecipeGirl has on her post “How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove” called for oil that would be heated to pop the corn, so the cooking spray and olive oil were out. Since I use the unrefined coconut oil cosmetically, I grabbed the refined stuff. I don’t have any real scientific reason nor did I do any research to come to this conclusion. There you have it.

Method

The Main Event

The Main Event

I got out my medium sized pot plus its lid and grabbed a tablespoon from my silverware drawer. (No, not a 1T measuring spoon, just one we use for eating.) I carved out two spoonfuls of coconut oil as it was quite solid from sitting in my pantry. I knocked these into the pan and turned the heat on low. The instructions said to put the kernels in oil before heating it, but I needed the coconut oil in liquid form. This took about two minutes.

Taking coconut oil from a solid to a liquid

Taking coconut oil from a solid to a liquid

I turned the heat off, then I poured about 1/3 cup of kernels into the pan. I added about a dozen more after swishing the pot around to coat the kernels. I had a nice even layer, one deep, of oil-coated kernels on the bottom of my pot. Then I turned the heat to medium.

Coating the popcorn kernels in coconut oil

Coating the popcorn kernels in coconut oil

About two, maybe two and a half, minutes of shuffling the pot around on the burner, four kernels burst to life. I placed the lid on the pot and went back to shuffling.

Pot of stove-top popcorn

Pot of stove-top popcorn

I’m glad my lids are clear. Not only could I watch the progress, since the popping sounds were very muted, Angel Baby (who was on my hip. The. Entire. Time.) got to witness the magic.

Viola!

We had a pot full of popcorn! Not one was burnt! Not one was unpopped! And the best part? It tasted JUST LIKE POPCORN! No oil taste, no butter taste, no salt taste… Not even a taste of coconut. Just popcorn. Phe. Nom. En. Al.

Of course, plain popcorn is for the birds. Literally. So I jazzed it up a little. After just a few dashes of salt (I am not a fan of salt; check out my other recipes if you don’t believe me), I tossed in a couple teaspoons of organic pure cane sugar. I removed a portion for Angel Baby in between the two shots of sugar, seeing as toddlers don’t need any extra sugar.

Adding pure cane sugar to freshly popped popcorn

Adding pure cane sugar to freshly popped popcorn

She loved it. She was so considerate to share with her bunny*, too. She even came back for a second cupful! Good times, I tell ya.

Angel Baby giving her bunny a taste

Angel Baby giving her bunny a taste

Clean up was a cinch. There weren’t any dead kernels to throw away nor any nasty residue in my pot. I stuck the pot, lid, and spoon in my dishwasher. If you don’t believe coconut oil is amazing, check this: The oil washed right off in my dishwasher. When I cook with olive oil, I always hand wash the pots and pans, because that oil won’t come clean in my washer.

And all that jazz!

You can do whatever you want to your popcorn.

  • Basil and Parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper
  • Cinnamon and sugar
  • Brown sugar and melted butter
  • Lots and lots of melted butter
  • And more!

Note to shoppers

I buy my kernels from Fresh Thyme’s bulk bins. It is normally $1.49/lb for their organic popcorn kernels (at my store), but I watch the sale ads; sometimes they mark it down to $1.29/lb and sometimes they mark down all their bulk items 20%. Shop smart!

* This bunny was made for my husband when he was a small child by his stepfather’s mother. According to the BHE’s mom, he carried this bunny around a lot and loved it. Now it’s Angel Baby’s turn.