Monday, September 30, 2013

Making your own Convenience Foods: Ketchup

One condiment that we use... A LOT, around here is ketchup. We are big fans and use it frequently, with fried potatoes, or as a part of making some thousand island dressing or as a little thickener in some vegetable soup. 
There are a lot of homemade ketchup recipes out there as well! 
This is the Nourishing Traditions style of ketchup. It isn't exactly like your store-bought, and would take a little getting used to... but if you want to make it a very healthful way, this would be your go-to. 

Here is the recipe:
3 cups Canned tomato paste, preferably organic
1/4 cup whey
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1/2 cup homemade fish sauce or commercial fish sauce.
Mix all ingredients until well blended.  Will yield 1 quart, ketchup should be at least 1 inch below top of jar.  Leave at room temp. for 2 days before transferring to cold storage.  


Friday, September 27, 2013

The London Fog

For a while now, I have enjoyed a good cup of coffee... but I also enjoy a good cuppa tea!
Sometimes I have to remind myself of this, I get in the coffee zone and just mindlessly turn it on every day. Well, I've had a cold this week and I've wanted something nice, warm and soothing on my throat. Tea hit the spot. 

This is called The London Fog.

Steep 1 bag of Earl Grey or 1 tea ball with
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp honey, maple syrup or sweetener of your choice
While steeping
Froth milk on the stove 
Once frothed, add to steeped tea. 


Tea is a beautiful beverage. We like iced tea around here mostly, but hot teas are really beginning to make their mark with the family. I have a bulk of English Breakfast tea and Roobios tea as well.
A friend of mine shared with me a Chai tea recipe that I look forward to trying. 
I'll post when I make those up too!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Losing my flock...

During the summer, I added to my chicken flock. We were up to almost 30 hens. I had dreams of dozens of eggs pouring in each day. Plenty for us and our family...
Those dreams were not a reality. 

In truth, through much of the summer, I got maybe 5 eggs a day. Pathetic, huh?
I was diligent. I checked the coop. The pasture. We kept them in feed and water. 
Still 5 eggs or less.

Then, we'd walk out to find a dead hen.
Then another
No eggs.
Then... how many hens do we have?
Why are there so few?

Monday, we found 2 more dead hens.
One with a hole eaten out of it's side. Sorry for the TMI.
It's so frustrating.
We have taken action though. We have built a night time door. 
For the longest time, we have been safe from predators within the fenced area, but somehow, something is getting the girls.
So with the nighttime door, we will allow them in and close them up for the night, with hopes that this will solve our problem. Maybe we will begin to see SOME egg production and less loss of hens. 
This is one of the difficult lessons, but with any lesson, we learn and grow. 


Wednesday, September 25, 2013


In my laundry room, I have a door with a window. I love the light shining in our house, but this room needed a bit of shade. I store some of our food in here and the light/heat could cause discoloring or damage to the foods we have prepared. So, I needed to fix that.
Being that I didn't want to spend any money on the project, I went rummaging through my fabric box and found a bit of yardage for the print above. Most of my house is painted yellow on the inside. I adore yellow. It is homey and warm and just lovely. Also, I love my chickens. 
This fabric is a nice woven, somewhat thick fabric, so I knew it would make a nice curtain. 
I measured the length of the window and the width. I added a couple of inches to the length and to the sides. Hem around the raw edges. Turn under several inches at the top and sew. Also sew down the middle of the top hem so you have a slight ruffled edge for the top!
It was very easy and would be a great beginner project. 

It really is amazing the difference the shade makes in the room. I love a quick and easy project. It is almost instant gratification. Plus, the only thing it cost was the $1 rod. 
That to me is a BIG bonus! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Did you know that a very remarkable tool to have in your kitchen is a dehydrator?

Dehydrators are not just for beef jerky or fruit leather. 

They are a great tool for those of us who like to put a little extra on the shelf. If disaster strikes and power goes out, our freezers will be lost. But, those things that we have taken the time to save and put on our shelf/canning pantry will be ready for use!

Maybe you didn't realize just how much you can dehydrate....

For example, okra! 
I didn't realize this one.
Cut it up. Lay it out. Turn on veggie setting.
Let it dry til crisp and firm.
Store in jars or vacuum seal!





There are PLENTY more. This is just a scratching of the surface. 
Break out that machine and get to it.
Don't have a machine?
This is my model...

It is very standard and basic and does the job just fine.

Then there is the primo 
There is a good bit more space to dehydrate on this model. I have a friend who owns this and loves it. 

So maybe you have your own pushed back on a shelf collecting dust somewhere. You thought it was only for making jerky or drying apples. 
Dust it off and try some of your favorite fruits, vegetables, herbs or meat dehydrated today!

Friday, September 20, 2013

With the changing of seasons...

We are about to have a big weather shift this coming weekend. Our weather has been very warm around here, not blazing hot (thankfully) but still, much warmer than I would like on September 20th. I would like a nice cool breeze and maybe 'light jacket' weather. I am excited about the weather change coming. It is also supposed to bring a little rain with it. I hope to get some of my starts in the garden today before the swing.

I've been doing a little re-vamping my apothecary cabinet to bring in a few new herbs that I have gathered and some tinctures I am starting.

I am so bad. When I start a project, it is not good enough for me just to start the project. I have to pull everything out. Clean the area and then put it all back in.
It's a lot of work, but I am usually very satisfied with the end results, so it is totally worth it.

One of the newest remedies that I am going to give a try is a recipe for cough syrup. You know I have shared with you about our Elderberry Syrup before and it is good for coughs, but I like to use it for when you are starting to feel a bit sickly. It is great for helping boost those immunities back up, to get you feeling more like yourself, quickly.

But it is nice to have alternatives. So you don't get burned out on the same thing.
By the way, I found all my herbs here at 
Beautiful quality and great prices too!

This recipe is taken from Crystal Miller's The Family Homestead website:


1oz. of wild cherry bark
1oz. of mullein (leaf)
1oz. of slippery elm (powder)
1/2 oz. of coltsfoot (leaf)
1/2 oz. of lobelia (leaf)
1/2 oz. pleurisy (root)
1/2 oz. elecampane (root)
1/2 oz. Licorice (root)

Here are some directions on how to make a syrup:

STEP 1/ --Combine the herbs and add to 1 quart water. Simmer liquid over a low heat, condensing the liquid down to a very thick concentrated tea (about 1 pint).

STEP 2/ --Strain herbs. Place liquid back into the pot. Compost the herbs.

STEP 3/ --To the liquid herb concentrate add either 1 cup of honey, (for children over 2 years of age) or 1 cup of white grape juice concentrate and warm the liquid/tea mixture together, stirring well for about 20 minutes over low heat.

STEP 4/ --Cool to lukewarm. Add Brandy (or vodka or whiskey) to flavour and preserve. Brandy relaxes and sooth the throat muscles and calms spastic coughing.  If you are uncomfortable about having your family ingest alchohol, add the chough medicine to hot tea, and the heat of the tea will burn off most of the alcohol.

STEP 5/ --Completely cool and then pour cough mixture recipe into clean bottles. Syrups stored in the refrigerator should last for 4-6 months. If refrigeration isn't available, increase sweetener content to 2 cups.

I will let you know how we like this one. It will be our first try with it.

It's always good at about this time of year, when the weather is beginning to shift and change to get your herbal shelf or apothecary cabinet stocked and ready for whatever the season may hold.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I have to laugh... 
God has a fantastic sense of humor, in case you didn't know that already. 
I finally laid down all my plans, my dreams, my hopes of a homestead. I laid them down because it was not my husbands calling from the Lord. I knew it, it wasn't. He didn't have the same zeal I had for that type of lifestyle. I pursued it for many years. He didn't mind. He worked alongside me, but it was not his dream. I thought if I just kept plugging along eventually he would follow suit.

I felt for a LONG time that the Lord wanted me to lay down my dreams for following my husband in service for the Lord. I did some, but not fully. I always held on to my wants more. I've told you this previously. 

When I say that God has a sense of humor and I have to laugh... it's because of this.
BTW, this is not just a day or two situation. It is a long time situation rounding into a couple of posts. 

So to make a long story short, and to share with you my joy.
My husband feels the Lord's calling for us to homestead our land. To branch out with animals. To expand the garden, etc. My hopes and dreams my finally become reality.... and to add even more joy to the matter, my beloved is on board!!! 
You couldn't ask for a happier woman!

The thing is, we have to have balance. Our service to the Lord is first... but there is much that we can do around here to live the lifestyle that we can homestead and still be active in our church.

This type of lifestyle is an important one, especially now in the time we are living in. Knowing how to do things yourself is very, very important. 

So the best word I know to say is...

Let's go find some goats.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Finding Balance

Life is about balance. We all have busy lives and very full plates now-a-days.
Sometimes the busy-ness can be overwhelming. It can rob us of our joy and our peace.
To keep the necessary in place we need to find what is balance for our lives.

What are the most important things in your life?

For me, it is absolutely The Lord and my family. Those are my tops.
Without those two, everything else would be fruitless. 

But what next?

Our work in the church, our home, our homeschool, our little farm, friendships...

All those things come into play.
I know for many of you, you have work, clubs, and sports too.

It can become very taxing and it just plain leads to burnout.

I don't believe the Lord wants you to be burned out.

I believe He wants Mom's who are filled with JOY! Ones that smile around their children, who can laugh and take time for fun and silliness once in a while. 

Take time for your family...
Our times together don't have to be going here or there either, it can just be time together. Have a cup of hot cocoa with one of your kids and talk about what's going on with them. Do a lot of listening. It really is amazing what all they have to say. Times with your kids are fleeting. Don't trade them away for selfish reasons. Have special moments with them. Take them to the creek, let them wade, examine rocks and tadpoles and algae... Go for a walk outside or a bike ride!

Don't forget about your spouse either!
Make a point to occasionally let this kids have an early supper and bedtime, spend a quiet evening with your spouse. Make a special dessert or go outside for a walk. Sit on the porch and look at the stars. Make opportunities. 

Church is very important to our family. Going to our place of worship, gathering with other believers worshipping the Lord is so important. We need that support from our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I've said before, if Jesus made a point to go to church, and the Bible says we should go... I should be there every time the doors are open. *wink* *wink*

 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, 
as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another:
 and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
 Hebrews 10:25

Do you take time to have a friend over... or do you take the time to accept an invitation to go visit with someone you love? Make the time. 
Time is something we will never get back.
You will never regret those sweet moments you take with those you love.
Now, there are times all people want to do is go-go-go... that's not balance. 
Balance is key.

Then there are the things that HAVE to be done.

Do them, but don't become them.
We want to do the best we can do at everything we do... or at least I do,
 but it is very easy to let things become the MOST important.

They aren't.

Do a great job if you work outside the home. But when you come home, come FULLY home. Be the parent your children need. Be the spouse your mate needs. Love them, and love them more.

Cleaning, I like a tidy home. But if I am over-obsessing about the cleanliness of my home and not thinking about my family or not wanting to let them do anything in the home because they might mess things up... I am in the wrong! Teach them to clean with you.
Don't be a tyrant. Give them chores.
Let them help you...
You can have a somewhat tidy home and a happy family too. 

As a homeschool Mom, I go in waves. I stress and obsess about doing everything JUST right, making sure that things are perfect. That we are working beyond our expectations and I stress everyone out. School IS important, school is needful, but don't make it an idol.
Education is good, but don't let it become your god. 

My family enjoys sports. We started out playing them when the kids were younger. We were in several activities as well. It got to the point to where we were never home. I want my kids to enjoy time at home. I want to have time to cook meals for them. To play games or garden or go for a swim. 
Sports are good, but don't let them become your idol.
Don't sacrifice your family for the sake of playing every sport out there, or keep your kids so busy in sports that they completely get burned out. 
Keep the balance!

Family management is tough. Finding balance isn't easy, but I think as we do, we find peace.
I am seeing that as I get older, the more I wish I could go back and redo. 
I don't want to see that at the end of my life. I want to see that I did what was needful and what was good and that we found balance.... in everything.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Making chore time simple

I have been a mother for many years now.... I wish I could tell you that I have it all figured out. HA, that is the farthest thing from the truth. Every single day, I am learning and changing and growing myself! It is a hard job... but the greatest job I could ever want.

One aspect I have struggled in is making chore time work for everyone. I want to see my children succeed in everything they do. I want to see them learn and grow, to be happy, helpful people, who want to serve others more than themselves.
Around our home we have chores. Not just a quick feed the dog, but things that help make our home run smoothly. Chores that can help teach each child that if he/she doesn't do his/her part the family suffers and it cuts out of our fun family time.

We have our daily outside chores, that include feeding and watering the chickens, the cats, the dog.
When it's gardening season, we have a set amount of time that we go and work outside together. It all helps, but the biggest help I have found is that if I give out jobs 4 jobs and rotate these jobs, our lives all run a bit more smooth.

You may laugh, but our biggest obstacles are Laundry, Dishes and Sweeping.
It's true.

So in addition to our daily outside chores, the make your room tidy (without Mom having to tell you) chores... haha we have these four and I split them into four because I have 4 children. You do what works for you.

At the beginning of the week I place four slips of paper in a hat.
General Helper to Mom
Dishes Helper to Mom

I fold them up and toss them in a hat. Each person draws and has that chore for a week.
I have laundry in there twice because it is very much a two person job. And, with it being a two person job it helps to make the kids work together!

After you have had laundry twice in the month, you have something else for the other two weeks. And, two people can't have it at the same time together. For example in Week 1 of this month, Cameo and Eli had laundry. For week 2, Cameo and Abram have laundry. Cameo will not have laundry duty again this month. And Abram will have it only one more time this month.
Laundry duty is washing, drying, folding and putting away. They can split it up in any way they wish as long as they are working together and getting the job done.

The dishes helper is with me. I usually always wash the dishes and the helper puts away. We have small counter space and lots of dishes that we go through, so this job is usually a pretty busy one.

The general helper is the most sought after job of the family, but yet it seems to be the most difficult.
They are my helper. They help me see what needs to be done. They help me assign 'other' jobs, they sweep with me, or tidy up the house with me. Just whatever needs to be done, they are with me. It gives me and that certain child time together and we get a lot accomplished.

These four simple jobs have helped our home tremendously. I wish I had thought of assigning them a WHOLE lot sooner.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Make your own deodorant

On Monday evening, I attended my first doTerra class.
doTerra is a company that makes very fine essential oils. I have dabbled in essential oils in the past. We use peppermint oil when we have a headache, I use the oils in my soaps that I make, etc. But this class taught me much more than I ever realized. 

One thing was that I was reminded of the dangers of commercial deodorants. The aluminum in there makes them very dangerous. The teacher shared a recipe with us and I wanted to get some made ASAP.

The ingredients are:
Coconut Oil
Borax ~OR~ Baking Soda
Arrowroot ~OR~ Cornstarch
Essential Oils

5 Tablespoons of coconut oil (the good stuff if you have it)
1/4 cup arrowroot/cornstarch

1/4 cup Borax/baking soda

Mix well. 
Add essential oils.
I added a couple drops of 

Now with this, it is only a deodorant. Not an anti-persperant.
That means there will be sweat. 
We have to remember that sweat is a good thing. It is one of the ways the body eliminates waste!
The problem here is, many of us, myself included don't necessarily want to have wet armpits.
The struggle.
But, I am more concerned about toxins going into my family rather than that, 
so I have made the deodorant. 
I'll be honest. This is my first try. Today, my first day using it. 
I share the recipe simply because it comes from someone who has been doing this for years now, so I feel that it is tried and true. 

Application is with your fingers. Unless you have some type of cotton ball or something you want to rub it on with... Fingers work just fine. 
Remember, it is coconut oil, so don't slather too much on, even if it is a bit firm because as soon as it touches your body it will begin to melt. 

So.... brand new ground for us today. Tell me, do you make your own deodorant?
How do you feel about it? Do you have a recipe that you just LOVE???
I would love to hear back from you!

Have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Homemade Convenience Foods: Pimento Cheese

If store bought pimento cheese gives you the willies, raise your hand. My hand is high in the air. I do not like the taste of that orang-y spread slathered on between two pieces of sandwich bread. Blech. 
With that fear, I believed I did NOT like pimento cheese. 
I judged it harshly, by it's fake counterpart.

When in reality... Pimento cheese is a very yummy food!

Yeah, Really!

I happened upon the realization by accident. 

It was a church work day, our food supply had dwindled to little. I was racking my brain as to what I could bring to help feed a bunch of hungry workers. 

I gathered a little of this and a little of that and had nothing of real substance.

I remembered that I had a good bit of shredded cheese in the fridge and thought to myself, I'll bet I could make something with that.

I had about 2 cups of shredded cheese
1/2 block of cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
sprinkle of black pepper
1 jar of pimentos

Mix all ingredients til spreadable.

This pimento cheese is not smooth, but it will spread. You will see the bits of cheese, the pimentos, flecks of pepper... It is a very nice mix.

I spread some on sandwiches and put some in a bowl with crackers and veggies.
It was a hit.
And you know what?
I like pimento cheese now. 

And it's really, really good with BACON! 

Make it yourself! 
Know what you put in there, it makes a WORLD of difference!


Friday, September 6, 2013

this moment :: 9.6.13

 . . . . . . . . . 
{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Uh oh...

What happens when you are just about out of fresh fruit, you haven't put anything in the crockpot, you have exhausted toast or bagels for the week and you think the family may go on strike if you have an eggs..... again???
Add to this a morning where you sleep just a tad longer than your used to and you have a very full day of school for your family?

Well the answer to this question is a very easy one thankfully, because this was our situation this morning! I was awake, and fell BACK asleep! Gasp!
Anyways, I was going to make a loaf of sourdough banana bread, but it takes almost an hour to bake.
I had some overripe bananas that need used up fast.

So I opted for some banana pancakes in the oven!
A bit faster (for me) than standing over the stove and flipping this morning. I can whip up the batter, stick it in the oven and get some things going around the house that needed attention!

Here's my recipe:

Baked Banana Pancakes
2 ripe bananas
1 tbsp coconut oil/olive oil
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk

1 cup flour
1 tbsp sucanat/cane juice crystals/sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Mix the wet and dry separately and add together. Pour into a greased baking dish (9x13 for thinner, 9x9 for thicker) Bake at 350* for about 20-30 min.
Cut up into squares, serve with your favorite syrup and butter or with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Oh! And these are great on the griddle too, if you have the time to do some flippin.

One more thing... I just was cleaning up the pan that I baked them in and there was a little square left. I took a bite of it cold and it was REALLY good. I might have to make it like this and leave them out for snacks!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cozy up your home.

I change my home around a bit according to the seasons, and sometimes the holiday. I like the freshening up feeling. It makes everything feel cozy and it's a nice change for the eyes, too. 
My children are now very fond of the times when we spruce things up a bit around the home. 

It doesn't have to cost very much at all... If anything. 
Pinterest has TONS of ideas if your stumped.
 Just use your imagination. You could gather some pretty branches from a tree outside. Pick some pumpkins from your garden. 
Use some scrap fabric and make your own pumpkins, like the ones I made YEARS ago that adorn our piano from year to year. 

We have gathered many things over the years to use for all fall decorating.
My youngest actually said, "Mom, your only using 3 boxes this year???" 

Another addition for this years fall decor is a large autumnal colored sunburst granny square pillow. This is made from scrap yarns and I'm just recovering a pillow I already have. 
No money involved at all. 
I'll make sure to post a picture when I'm finished. But I really like the color combo going on. 

Making your home inviting is not hard at all. Don't worry about what decorators say, or magazines. Use them for inspiration if you need to, they sometimes have great ideas, 
but my best advice is to do what your family likes. 
I have gathered birds nests, mismatched pillows, drying flowers, maps on the wall, scriptures over the doors, baskets galore hanging from the ceiling... you get the idea. We decorate with what we use, we use what we decorate with... sometimes. 
Make your home accessible and friendly. I find it so sad to have a home that is stark and pristine and people are afraid to kick their shoes off and sit on the couch. 
(this is a pic of our porch from last year)

Make your home a place where people want to visit. 
Where they would be happy to come, have a cup of coffee or tea and stay for a while. 

Enjoy each day!

I'm joining up with the ladies at Joyous Notions today!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2013/2014 Homeschool

Our 2013/2014 Homeschool Year Pictures 
Praying for a great year while learning at home. 

My precious children/students.

Abram 8 years old. He loves excavators, dirt, dozers and math. His goals for the year: To run fast, to get strong, and to read good. 

Carlie, Age 9. She loves to draw, make cards and read. She wants to read *big* books like Cameo. Her goals are to learn a lot and do really well in homeschool and piano this year. 

Elijah, Age 10. He loves to read, to ride bikes, and to learn about anything and everything. His goals are to succeed. (In everything, I suppose) 

Cameo, Age 16. She is a voracious reader. She loves literature and is excited about her Marine Biology course this year. Her goals for this year are to excel in her studies and get her license when she turns 17.

Chasity, Age 37 I love to create, learn, and organize. My goals are to smile more, laugh often and be a bigger blessing to my family.


Monday, September 2, 2013

All the while...

While many are having the day off. Enjoying a cookout with the family or one last swim before the pool is closed for the Fall... here we are! Entering into our 10th year of homeschooling. 
I enjoy beginning on Labor Day. My dear husband is home and it helps get the 
first day of our lessons started off right. 
No one seems have an attitude when Daddy has Moma's back. 
I've finalized what I can of our plans. 
You know you have to be flexible.
Realistic, but hopeful.
The coffee pot is set and ready. 
Books are stacked and waiting to be opened. 
Children had an early bedtime.

We have had a very hard weekend and it has put me a little behind getting things finished and ready. But life happens and you have to adjust to what comes your way...
As I prepare for us to begin again, I would appreciate your prayers. 
I've always believed prayer is a great tool, but I see it so much more lately.
Prayer is essential. 
Prayer is vital.

Thank you for your visit. 
Blessings to each and every one of you!