Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pretty and Useful

My daughter came up with this brilliant idea all on her own. She is very creative and great at organizing. When I bought this box at a local flea market, I wasn't exactly sure how I would I would use it, but it was a great deal and I liked the wood.

It has a cross section in the middle,  so there are four compartments.
She arranged the sections that half would be our herbs and vitamins and the other half would be liquids like benedryl, children's tylenol and such.
It works out perfectly!

And so we bring it down each morning and take our vitamins and when finished, it sits nicely on the top of the fridge. Out of reach of little hands and it looks pretty too.
Please excuse the messy fridge front, just keeping it real around here, friends. And besides, when you get love letters, you want to look at them all the time, right???

Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Putting by: Spaghetti Sauce

I love the old term, putting by.
Putting by the harvest, stocking up and preserving for another time.
Yesterday I 'put by' the first of the spaghetti sauce for the year.
I used up some of last years tomatoes in a new way.
This is one way you can stretch your vegetables even farther.

Here is how I do it...

I used about 10 quarts of canned tomatoes, draining half the liquid off and smashing them as I tossed them into my stockpot.

You can also use fresh tomatoes. Just quarter them up, and cook. It will take a little while to cook them down, smashing them as you go. You have to use a lot to make sauce because a tomato is full of water!

Depending on the size of your stockpot, you might could use more or less.
I hold out my hand, palm side up and pour dried basil into my hand. I rub my hands together, grinding the spice between my palms and drop it into my pot.
I do the same with oregano.
Several cloves of minced garlic
About a half cup of sugar
Several pinches of salt
A couple of splashes of Bragg's Amino Acid

That's it for ingredients.
It may be soupy right now, no problem.
You want this to cook low and slow all day long. That is going to give you a nice thick sauce that will be full of flavor.
You will notice it reduce as you go, just give it a stir every once in a while and make sure that it is not sticking on the bottom.
As you go, taste it after it has cooked for a bit. The flavor should have intensified a bit, and you can see what it needs and adjust.
When I feel like it is about right, taste wise. I use a stick blender and blend the mixture till it is somewhat smooth, but not pureed.

When you are ready to can it, simply ladle into clean, hot jars. Affix lids and hot water bath can for about 20 minutes.

I know I call it spaghetti sauce, but I use this for everything... ever thang I'm telling you!
Homemade pizza night, this is my go to for sauce.
Chicken Parmesan, you got it. It works lovely.
Lasagna, YES!
Spaghetti. hahah, of course!
So, you see what I am saying is that it is a great thing to put by for the year because it is very versatile and it is so handy to have when you are in a hurry.
This way, Prego and Ragu can stay on the grocery store shelf. You will save yourself some $$ and everything tastes better when you make it yourself and know that your ingredients are safe and frugal!

Have fun!
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments, and I will do my best to answer either in the comments or if there are many questions, I will be happy to make an entire post to answer.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Is your home welcoming to others?

One thing I remember growing up is that I loved my home. I would have rather that everyone come to MY house than me go to theirs. My home was a place that welcomed others. My Mom was really good making others feel at home at our house, so as a kid that's what happened. Friends came to my house.

My desire now that I have a home of my own is that it is a welcoming place. Not one that is sterile and lifeless. One that is comfortable and happy. One that others feel when they come in that they can sit and enjoy and be at peace. To have a cup of coffee with us or stay for dinner or just hang out and talk.

I adore having people over and once the house is finished, I hope to be able to do that more. As a Christian, I believe the Lord wants us to be hospitable.
In 1 Peter 4:8-11, the Bible says:

 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

One of the greatest compliments I have ever received was something like this... "Chas, I feel at home in your home... it is so inviting and happy."
I felt honored to have this said. 
I also know that it has a lot to do with our attitude! Our homes can be as beautiful as we please, and if our attitude is sour about things being messed up or out of order after we have company, then we have lost our main focus. 

I hope this inspires you to open your home to others more. I know I often have good intentions, but I fall through waiting for this to be right or that to be done. Truly, I think it is more about just enjoying others company rather than having your ducks in a row, so to speak. Because if you are like me, it could be a really, really long time before that happens. 

Have a great day.


Friday, June 22, 2012

A family favorite ~Baked Oatmeal~

I was thinking of making a new series, not weekly... but more of a whenever the mood strikes me and I think about it kind of series. Because, I can not guarantee the mood to always strike weekly. It's just how I roll.
Anyways, what I was thinking of was sharing with you things my family enjoys. A family favorite.
This week, it is definitely baked oatmeal. Making its second appearance in a weeks time, it has to go pretty much at the top of our list this week.
I used peanut butter chips that I bought from Azure Standard. Do you order from them?
I am now part of a group that picks up close to where we live and it is incredible. I have been waiting for this for a while.
If you haven't gotten anything from them before, give them a try. Hopefully there is a drop off point around you too!

Ok, here's the recipe
Baked Oatmeal

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar (I only used 1/2)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup apple chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in peanut butter chips and apples. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

I hope you enjoy it just as much as we do!
Have a great weekend friends!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Basket Storage

Good Morning!
I am so happy to be up and about this morning. Eager to embrace the work of the day!
Do you remember when I posted about taking out the dishwasher?
I wanted the space and wanted to save on our water and power output?
I also wanted to have memories with my children the way I remember... being alongside someone washing dishes and enjoying great conversation.
You can click on the links if you don't remember, *wink*
Anyhow, the space I wanted was for storage baskets. At the time, I wasn't able to install them and so I waited, just using them for grain bucket storage and whatnot.
Well, as we were remodeling our kitchen, the want was still there.
This is what I came up with.
I know the lighting is bad, but at 5 am, we can't ask for too much. :)
I searched over home improvement stores... looking through the kitchen organization aisles.
Everything was much smaller than what I wanted and needed.
So, I decided to broaden my search and see what was available in the closet organization.
Exactly what I was looking for! Perfect size and everything!
I buy in bulk, remember, so I need a place to store that bulk purchase and this fits the bill!
They slide out beautifully, even with the weight of all those veggies. I love things that come together in real life like they do in my head.

Making my kitchen and my life more organized... I feel like I should quote Martha here,
It's a good thing.

Have a beautiful day friends!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Book-ends

Yesterday morning during our chore time, my camera went along. I love capturing the moments of our children with the animals. They really do enjoy the animals as much as I do.
While snapping some of the pictures, I got very sober realizing just how fast these children of mine are growing.
Not my little girl farm helper anymore, my Cameo has just recently turned 15! Her dream is not to have horses anymore, but to get a drivers permit!

Tall, slender and funny, my big girl is a joy!

Abe, my other bookend is going to be 7 in a couple of months. He is my dedicated farm man. Waking in the mornings to remind everyone that there is chore time! He is eager to have a tractor, build a barn and make me bigger pastures.
He says, "Moma, when I'm a man, I'll do build you a barn." or "Mama, when I'm a man, I'll buy you some sheep." It is so adorable and I savor these sweet moments.

I'm so grateful to be able to be a Moma, to be a Mom to 4 of the most precious children in the world... at least *my* world.

Have a great day, friends!

Monday, June 18, 2012

We have goats again!

Saturday, we welcomed some newcomers to our little Homestead.
Mama Zippy, Stanford and Perry all LaMancha!

Thankfully we had some dear friends to help us with our problematic fence. Mamie was just so silly she never tried to get out, unless the gate was open. These three proved otherwise, straight away.

Each morning since, I jump up as the sun comes up... *just* to make sure they are still in the pasture.
Thankfully so far... they are!


Friday, June 15, 2012

This Moment: Our Clothesline

While making our lovely meal of lasagna, my eldest son, Eli took charge of the camera. I was especially pleased when looking through the viewfinder at some of his shots.
He seems to have his Moma's eye. Looking for things to capture that celebrate our home.
He took a couple shots of our very full clothesline and I loved them!
See, how nice!
I am compiling a daily journal to share at the end of June. I think it will be a fun way of re-telling the entire month. Even if no one else enjoys it, I will be glad to look back on the month to see what we did, I seem to be forgetting more than I would like to admit. *gasp*
I blame the kids, just kidding... sorta. ;)

We are off today to a nearby town, to visit with an old farmer friend that I have made. He always has a ton of animals and the children love to visit. We are going to be bringing home a few more animals of our own. That will be fun. Have a great day, friends!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Blackberry Scones

Blackberries are beautiful around here right now and we are taking full advantage of them and planning all types of yummy foods... as well as just popping them straight into our mouths.

This morning we are having blackberry scones for breakfast.
Here's how we made them:

Blackberry Scones

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
Preheat oven to 400*
Sift all dry ingredients together in large bowl
Cut butter into dry ingredients and mix in buttermilk. Add berries
Knead to form dough and make into 3-4 inch balls
Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly
Bake 15-20 minutes
Serve warm

And this is a step that you ought to try, if you have a chance...
Make them in the morning with someone you completely adore!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Canning Pantry

Friends, I am over the moon!
I was blessed beyond measure as a dear one to me came and built me a canning pantry yesterday!
It is exactly what I was hoping for.
 Beautiful and functional.
Roomy and sturdy...

I have plenty of room for this years harvest. I still have some of last years harvest to finish up. We have our stove again, so plenty of good cooking here at home again with what we have left.
I also love it that there is one outlet on the second shelf. It is a great place for me to set my wheat grinder. If you have one, you know just how much space they can take up. Now mine has a spot where I can grind the wheat without dragging it out and putting it up again.
If you can't tell, this is built into a recessed area in the kitchen... it was just made to be a canning pantry!
This may not be such a beautiful sight to you, but it is MORE STORAGE, which is insanely beautiful to me! Once our flooring is finished we will be able to put a small bi-fold door to shut this area out. I love that....
Happy Canning!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Early Morning Garden

I am absolutely in love with my garden this year. I have gardened for many years, some being an utter failure. Some doing fair... this years garden is not a complete success by any means, but it is a joy and I've learned so much! It's nice to see when  you finally start getting some things right! Right?
I've been out in the garden most of my morning and it's not even 8 am yet. I really enjoy my time out there when it is early. The chickens are clucking away, making sure that I am aware they are up and so I could come feed them, like now?!?! Haha. Holly and Luke our only remaining ducks are happily quacking. The ground is still wet from all the rain we've had over the past two days. It's a beautiful place that garden of mine.
Blooms everywhere. Vegetables and fruits coming in gloriously.

Bursts of yellow, red and green. Vibrant and lovely.

Gardening is such a great hobby. Even if you have never tried it before, or if you feel like you have a brown thumb... give it a go! Plant a tomato in a 5 gallon bucket! Make a small herb garden in a large planter. The rewards are beautiful and delicious too!
Enjoy your day friends!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Farmhouse update

As you know we have been in the middle of a demolition and reconstruction of our house for many months now. As of this past week, we have furniture in our home once again! HOORAY!

When we sat down together for the first time after getting everything somewhat arranged, we looked at each other and smiled... all feeling the same thing. That this is special, that it is a gift and we were so very thankful.
Here is a few pictures of the progress.
Remembering that we still have more floor to finish, trim, doors, lights... but hey, we are celebrating each step and this was a BIG one!
Here's our living area. We put the bookshelf coming out from the wall as a way to divide the family area from the school area. By using the bookshelf this way it also allows us to put books on each side, doubling the space in our bookshelf... which we needed very much!
This is the school area. It is such a great space and it fits so nicely with our family area. Separate... but still together if you know what I mean. For example, if one is still working at the table and another is already finished, they can move over into the family room to read on the sofa and we are all still in the same general area. I like for us all to be together, even if they are on different learning levels. I want us to be able to enjoy each other and appreciate the fact that we don't have to be separate to learn.

The kitchen area still looks very much the same from this view. Everything went back in its place for the most part... but with the next view you will be able to see just how much more room we have with the wall gone.
HUGE area now to work in our kitchen. We were all able to be in there together creating our supper and it was soooo wonderful!
The heart of the home... our table. Where we gather for meals, for family devotion and for games. We eventually hope to have a table that will seat at least 10-12 people instead of our 6 seater right now. We have a desire to open our home to guests and to family and possibly more children in the future so this is a great blessing to us, to have this extra space.

So thanks for coming along with us on our journey... We are eager to begin making even more memories with our new/old home!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Homeschoolers, Hippies and Heirloom Tomatoes

Our family enjoys reading. Reading aloud is a big favorite around here, as are audio books!
Homeschoolers, Hippies and Heirloom Tomatoes has been our latest read-aloud.

The title is just as quirky and fun as the book itself.
Our family has been going through some MAJOR household demolition and remodeling and this was one of our highlights through the whole process!
The kids and I would find a quiet spot when we needed to be out of the way and we would read.
My youngest two would say, "Moma! Would you read the funny tomato book to us?"

Homeschoolers, Hippies and Heirloom Tomatoes was a delight to read, with many Laugh-Out-Loud moments and lots interesting characters (the Dead-Heads being our favorites... Mom's as you read this, PLEASE make the Dead-Head's sound like Dead-Heads! It will make everyone smile, guaranteed!) and terrific information. I am a gardener and I have NEVER heard of some of the tomatoes that the Masat Family produces! And if that wasn't enough, you could even have a spelling lesson from this book with words from Scrpps Spelling Bee!

This book was a great fun and we hope to see another book coming along soon as we continue to learn of Grace Masat and her eccentric family as they homeschool, grow heirloom tomatoes on their floating farm and share the Love of Jesus with each and every one.