Monday, December 7, 2009

I long for snow

I do. I love snow. I love the soft sound, the quiet. I love the way it looks, and the way it feels.

But most of all, I long to see how the bee responds to the joys of snow in her fourth winter, and how Huck enjoys it in his second.

My children are absolute joys to me. I can't wait to see their response to so many things.


I love a good beer. Ambers are my favorite, and I like to discover local breweries and sample their beers.

I like wine, but am not a wine snob. I'll drink two buck chuck with pleasure.

I don't like hard liquor that well, but it is fun for cooking, and sometimes cocktails.

But one of the things that we include in our food storage is whiskey and vodka. Now, we don't drink whiskey or vodka, though my husband does enjoy a bit of makers mark once in a while.

IMO alcohol is essential for food storage and especially a TEOTWAWKI situation. Alcohol is incredibly useful, especially high proof alcohol. It can be used for cleaning wounds, knocking someone out if they need a splint put on or bones readjusted, making extracts and tinctures, and even currency.

I store cheap whiskey and vodka. NO need to store high quality alcohol as the cheap stuff will do the job just as well.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas and the meaning behind it

I'm not a big "Keep Christ in Christmas" type of gal. I couldn't care much less if a retailer has up holiday signs rather than Christmas signs. I don't expect a secular world to live a Christian lifestyle, and have Christian principles. But in our home we aren't huge into the whole birthday of Jesus thing either. Christmas to me isn't about the birth of Messiah, that is what Sukkot (Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year) is all about. But the fact is that we wouldn't be celebrating Christmas if Jesus wasn't born, despite the fact that he wasn't born anywhere near the time of Christmas.

What Christmas is though, to our family, is a time of giving and loving on as many people as we are blessed to do. I want my children to not only have fond memories of the gifts they get on Christmas morning, but also experience the thrill of giving and sharing with our friends, neighbors, and those who are less fortunate than us.

One idea that I'm incorporating this year to pick a family and sponsor them for christmas without them knowing. We are going to drop off a small gift, food item, card or whatnot every day today through Christmas day. I know this family, they are friends of ours, and they are really struggling financially this year. I'm excited to have the bee help out making small things, and dropping them off. Teaching her that it really is more blessed to give than to receive.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas and why my parenting is different

I love Christmas. Like really really really love it. I cannot wait until Christmas morning to see the looks of joy on the faces of my children as they come downstairs and see the lit tree, the presents and their bikes!

I have so few good memories from my childhood, but Christmas was almost always one. I want my kids to have that joy, that magic, that complete delight that I did.

My mother was not a good mother. She was just not. I'm not going into specifics publicly, but it wasn't a good childhood. I had absolutely no trust for her by the time I was four.

The memories of Christmas is part of why I wanted to change the way I parented my children. Christmas was such a joy for me as a child, at least until I was about ten. It was a day when I wasn't scared, or angry, or sad, or lacking trust in my mother. It was a day that I knew that she could be counted on. And that is a wonderful thing.

But it is so sad that there was only one or two days a year that I could feel that way about her. The fact that Christmas and my birthday were so hugely different than the rest of the year is not a good thing. I looked forward to those holidays with such a passion because they were safe days. I don't want my children to look forward to safe days, I want every day to be a safe day.

So I comfort them when they cry, I don't scream at them, I don't hit them, I feed them healthy foods and wear them when they need some extra snuggles. Every child deserves those basics in life, to live a life where they trust their family.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Where will they go

My three year old is obsessed with being a doctor. She talks about it frequently. When people ask her what she is going to be when she grows up she always says a doctor. She loves to read the pages in her books about doctors, and asks what schools she has to go to to become a doctor. When she goes to the doctor she asks the doctor to look in her ears with the otoscope.

Sometimes she'll also talk about when she is grown up and is a ballerina, or a farmer, or a mommy, or a dog. Yup. A dog.

As we are looking on a new and unexpected phase of education for our kids next year, we are thinking about their future in different ways. Something we have always said is that we don't want them to be pushed toward college. There is an unhealthy push to get a college education in our country. Some people probably question that, but college is overrated. Not all children are cut out to go to college. Some kids aren't designed to do four years of post high school education and work in a cubicle, but that is where our American society is leading kids.

I want my kids to have the freedom to go to college and excel if they choose. Even if they choose a major that doesn't seem to have a lot of job potential like art history, if they are passionate about that, they can make a wonderful life and career out of that. But I also want them to have the freedom to go to trade school, or start a business, or become an apprentice or go to ten years of college and medical school.

I am sure at this point that God is calling us to send our kids to school. At least for a few years. Just like homeschooling families we say we will take it year by year. This might only be a season, and it might be a long term venture. Who knows. But there are a few more worries with sending my kids to school rather than keeping them home.

The biggest worry I have is that my kids will feel forced and pressured into college. The school that we are sending them to has a 100% college matriculation rate. And the kids who go to this school don't go to east handkerchief state either. They go to tier one schools. I want to set up an environment in our family where they know college isn't the end all be all and there are other paths they might follow. I want to guide them toward their strengths and interests and callings, not push them toward college.

How can my children still explore freedom when they are being tunneled toward college?

And these big questions honestly make me wonder if school is going to last beyond the elementary years, and they will be homeschooled in high school. I know that is the opposite of most homeschooling worries. Many parents wonder if they can teach the upper division stuff, and don't worry about the lower division stuff. But not me. The elementary stuff does NOT interest me, and in fact I have never been sure if I could teach my littles the three Rs. But I have never worried from about sixth grade up. From that point on I was quite sure I'd be able to teach.

It is going to be interesting to watch this unfold.

Friday, October 30, 2009

On letting babies cry it out

Babies cry. Thats how they communicate. It sucks as a mother to hear your baby cry. Especially when you are over tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, and just want to sleep. I know how tempting it is to put your baby into their bed and "teach" them how to sleep, by letting them cry and cry and cry until they finally go to sleep, and repeat until they have been taught to sleep.

But it is cruel. You might not want to think that or admit it, but it is. You are taking a tiny little baby, who trusts you. Who looks to you for everything they need, and teaching them that you cannot be trusted. That you won't be there when they need you. That they are alone and have to fend for themselves. You aren't teaching them how to sleep, you are teaching them how not to trust other people.

I've heard from several people lately that your baby will try and manipulate you. Babies honestly think that when you leave the room you are gone. They don't know that two halves make a whole. They don't know how to say their names. How can they have the cognitive ability to manipulate. It just isn't possible. Testing boundaries is NOT manipulating. To assign such an intent to an infant, shows a major misunderstanding of babies.

But think about it from your perspective as an adult. If you were alone, and tired and scared would you like to be left alone to scream yourself to sleep night after night?

Monday, October 19, 2009

my fuzzi bunz are for sale!

Well we have a new front loading washer and dryer and they just won't wash my diapers well enough for my liking. So sadly we aren't going to be cloth diapering anymore :(

I'm selling 13 fuzzi bunz in gender neutral colors (though there are some dark blues and one pinkish) All are in great condition, and I have the inserts for all. I also have 5 hemp inserts that we used at night!

I'm asking $140 for all of them. Please respond with your email if you are interested.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

sauteed garbanzo beans

There is this amazing restaurant in Berkeley and Oakland California called Cesar. It is a tapas bar and an Alice Waters restaurant. If you are any sort of foodie you know who Alice Waters is.

Every spring for a few weeks they have fresh garbanzo beans still in their shells fried with cumin and spices. They are amazingly fresh, and spicy, and yummy. When the bee was ten months old we ate there five days in a row, eating those wonderful beans and my ten month old could get those shells open herself to eat the inside of the bean. She loved them!

She still does. Garbanzo beans are wonderful for so much more than just hummus. They are great in minestrone soup, and other multi bean soups. I even like to use them in chili sometimes because of their meaty texture. They don't ever fall apart when they are cooked.

But one of our favorite quick and easy breakfasts is sauteed garbanzo beans. Sure it isn't a traditional breakfast item, but combined with a piece of whole wheat bread it makes a complete protein that keeps you from getting hungry in twenty minutes.

2 cans garbanzo beans drained.
1 shallot
2 Tbsp cumin (or less to taste)
1 tsp chili powder
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Mix all but the butter in a food processor until garbanzos and garlic are chopped fine. I sometimes add a tiny bit of olive oil to get the beans to hold together well and make patties. Form patties and fry in olive oil. They will fall apart a bit, and won't ever be firm patties, but it is still yummy. If you add eggs you could make a more firm patty.

I like a LOT of cumin because it is just yummy and I want a big strong slightly spicy cuminey flavor.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Balancing two futures

I think our country is on its last legs. Honestly I do. I think our Dollar is in very big trouble, and will likely collapse within a few years, and that our country might not survive in the way we know it. More it will go from super power, to something more like Russia is today. So I prepare for that future.

We store food, stock up on clothes for the kids several sizes in advance, and plan on chickens as soon as spring comes. We prepare for a future that I believe will very quickly in the future be very bleak.

But I could be wrong. Perhaps our nation is on the road to recovery or at least maintaining the status quo. Perhaps things will continue to limp along in a nature very similar to where we are now. I can't dismiss that that is a valid option. So I go back to school, prepare my family and my kids for them to go to school and grow up and be responsible citizens of our nation.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Flu season

Well fall is in full swing here, and I'm starting to be able to breathe again. Though I know it is short lived as the Holidays are right around the corner.

But fall also brings flu season and that is the topic of much news lately.

We of course don't vaccinate against the flu. I understand that the flu can be deadly and that it is a serious illness, but I think the vaccine is more dangerous for my family than the actual flu. If we had someone in our home who was immunocompromised, we would absolutely vaccinate. But we are all healthy in our home and I don't see a reason to compromise our immune systems with a vaccine.

But we aren't arrogant about the flu either, we do stay on top of things and do our best to remain healthy during the flu season, just as any other time of year. We have never suffered the same sicknesses that our friends do and I believe firmly it has to do with our diet and prevention.

First and foremost I wash hands a lot. The bee also washes her hands regularly. But we do NOT use anti bacterial soaps. Those soaps breed super germs like MRSA and there is no need to use them. I do keep products like purell in my purse when we are out. I'm not thrilled with them, but I do think that sometimes it works well when we don't have good hand washing options.

Secondly we eat healthy real living foods. We have green smoothies several days a week to make sure that we are getting a good amount of raw foods as well as lots of vitamin C and Iron. I often add cod liver oil to the smoothie, but honestly it does not taste that good. The Lemon flavor does the best and is the only one that my daughter will drink anymore. We also don't eat much sugar. That is a big one actually sugar is a immune depressant.

My kids don't eat processed foods. I'm probably the only parent who doesn't send store bread and lunchables to the bees school. That isn't to say they have never had processed foods, they have. But it isn't very often.

But there are a few other things that we do. Both kids take a multi vitamin and a vitamin D supplement every day. Vitamin D is huge in fighting the flu, especially the H1N1. We also take elderberry syrup every day. Elderberry syrup is great for building up an immune system, and some say more effective against the flu than tamiflu is. Vitamin C is best gotten from citrus fruits and veggies, but supplements are easy to find and usually easily eaten by kids.

Monday, October 5, 2009


**This is NOT a paid endorsement, it is just something I've found that works wonderfully for us**

If you aren't familiar with e-mealz you should be. I love it. It is a menu planning system, and they are just great! Our food budget has dropped dramatically since we started using it, and it is so much easier.

What it is, is meal plans. It is also store specific and goes with the specials at a store during the week. It does use some processed foods, but I either substitute with homemade, or sometimes use the processed. It is healthy and kid friendly.

But more than that it is cheap! It is only 1.95 a week. They offer vegetarian, low carb, weight watchers points, and other options. You can choose for a family of two or a family of four to six. Also you can choose the plan for Wal-mart, Ralphs, Publix, Aldi, or "any store"

I really love it, and it has made our lives a bit easier right now. We are super busy right now and will be getting busier in January. This has worked really well for my family.


Monday, September 14, 2009


As I'm preparing for the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and doing a study on the sermon on the mount, I can honestly say I don't understand why people don't think that eating pork is okay. Or not following the law is okay. It truly doesn't make sense to me.

All the while I'll admit I love bacon and crave it ;)

Sunday, September 13, 2009


It is with a bit of sadness that I say goodbye, or perhaps only see you later to homeschooling.

I always assumed I would homeschool. I wore my babies, slept with them by my side, though not traditional co sleeping, responded to their needs, and nurtured their nature and spirit. I assumed and hoped that the natural next step would be to homeschool them. It was my dream, and what I wanted to do. Beyond that I felt like it was what all the "good" Christian mamas did with their babies. I couldn't bear the thought of letting them go away from me for long hours during the day in an environment that I wasn't a part of.

But last winter the sailor went away for two weeks and I realized that I wasn't good on my own full time with the kids. It wasn't that I couldn't do it, but I wasn't good at it. I was alone. While I have built a great group of friends here that I know I can count on, I'm not sure that homeschooling is an option without my husband here for extended periods of time. I really struggled for the time that he was gone, and was not a good mother. So I enrolled the bee into a two day a week preschool program. My mothering improved greatly and our lives became much better.

We intentionally took the summer "off" to see how things progressed this summer. It wasn't good. I was not able to manage my ADD and work with my children AND not lose my patience with them. After an almost hellish summer my husband and I decided that homeschooling might not be the best path for us.

During the summer we also had the bee re enrolled in speech therapy. She has a speech delay, but she tests far above her age. She is freakishly smart. I don't want to be 'that' mom, but my daughter is really advanced for her age. I wasn't sure that my ADD combined with her intelligence, and my own lack of patience would provide a positive homeschool environment.

That all being said, we are still open to homeschooling. We want our children to thrive, and I'm not convinced that always happens in a homeschool environment, but I'm also not always convinced that it happens in a school environment. I've finally come to a place where I realize that different things work for different families. I'm not cut out at this point in time to be a homeschooling mama. Perhaps later I will be, perhaps not.

I have the highest respect for homeschoolers, and know that more often than not they provide superior education to any public school. I may join their ranks some day. Only time will tell

an absentee summer

I've been through a lot this summer, it hasn't been a great one.

I found out a while ago that I was pregnant, only to find out a few short hours later that it was not a viable pregnancy.

My poor garden got hailed out. I have six butternut squash and one beautiful white pumpkin. And enough basil to feed Italy.

But we have been making some changes in our plans for our future. We have been spending a lot of time in prayer trying to find out where God wants us to go, and we are sure we know on one front, and not so sure on another.

We are applying to send the bee to a really good prep school here. At this point in my life, and looking at the combination of my personality and limitations with my ADD, and the bees personality and unique gifts we have decided that a prep school with a Montessori education model for the younger years might be a better fit for her. I'm surprised that we are leaning this direction since we always planned on a little homeschool, but this decision feels so right to us. I'm going to write a post soon on my emotions regarding homeschooling, because they are pretty big right now (good big)

I'm also returning to school in the spring and plan on pursuing an education degree and want to teach high school.

The rapid change in our lives feels right and both the sailor and I are at peace about this. We are both very good at making decisions "quickly" but they are almost always right when we do. Long drawn out decisions often mean we aren't pursuing the right path.

Monday, August 3, 2009

another reason to stock up

State workers in Pennsylvania aren't getting paid. I can't get html to work tonight, so please cut and paste this article

With the budget impasses that are going to happen in the federal budget, the giant deficit, and all else going on it is more important than ever to have some reserve money, and reserve food.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

August now

Well where are we with the garden. Honestly, horrible. We had hail a few weeks ago and it destroyed my corn, beans and tomatoes. My beans already had a bacteria and weren't going to make it. But I was really upset at the tomato loss. I've had wonderful tomatoes this year, and have put up a lot of them!

So I need to buy some green beans, and a whole bunch of them. I'm headed to a local farm today to see how many beans I can get! I'm hoping for at least a bushel of green beans! That is about thirty pounds. My kids both love green beans and it is one of the few veggies I actually look forward to. Plus I use them in soups, stews, casseroles etc all winter long, so I'm going after those today. Also I am going to can sweet corn this week. I know of a farm near me that has sweet corn coming out the wazoo, so I'm hoping for a couple of bushels of sweet corn. I much prefer frozen sweet corn, so I'll freeze a few, but canning is self stable and we live in a part of the country that gets bad ice storms that knock out power sometimes for weeks at a time.

Monday, July 20, 2009

why food storage, and what does it look like?

I'm a food storage person, and always have been. There is a bit of a preparedness and survivalist streak in my family and I've embraced this. I also look to the bible and think that there are a lot of stories to prepare your family for hard times. Think of Joseph, he was told that hard times were coming and by being prepared saved a whole people plus his family!

I've said before I do believe hard times are come for our nation, probably our world. Economics are cyclical and we are overdue for a very big crash. My husband has a very secure job, so we are blessed. However even with a secure job things can happen that would cause you to need to eat from your own food stores. Perhaps there is a flood in the wheat belt, and bread prices skyrocket, there is a severe oil shortage and trucks aren't able to move, there is freak storms in the northwest and the apple crops are lost, inflation or deflation are so bad our money isn't worth anything anymore. In these situations we will be grateful for our stored foods!

Many of us depend on the grocery store a couple of times a week for all of our food needs. Most homes don't have gardens anymore, most people don't store more than about two days worth of food. But is that the wisest way to live? In the part of the country I live in we get massive tornadoes and ice storms every year. Both of those could knock out power for several weeks. Do you have the ability to feed your family if the grocery store is closed for a week, and your power is completely out?

Another great reason to store food though is to save money. My family spends about 190 dollars a month at the grocery store, and that includes all our toiletries. This is because we buy on sale, stock up, and make almost all of our food from scratch. Sure I have some packaged foods, but not a lot. When I make a loaf of bread it costs about 68 cents a loaf. For a loaf of 100% whole wheat, with no additives or anything. I can make the same amount of oatmeal that comes in an "instant" package for about 8 cents, while the packets cost about 30 cents a packet.

I seldom run out of anything when I'm cooking. I almost never have those moments when I'm in the middle of cooking something that I realize that I don't have enough of something and have to make a quick trip to the supermarket.

Have I convinced you yet?

How about this? Imagine a truck with dangerous caustic chemicals spills near your house and you have to evacuate, now. It happened in my hometown when I was about four years old, it happens all over the country all the time. Do you have what you need to leave now? Do you have snacks and diapers and a change of clothes for your kids? What if the police say you have ten minutes to get out of your house. What then? Do you just hope that there will be restaurants open and that old navy will have the clothes you need? Will there be clean water?

This is where to start, it is called a 72 hour kit or a bug out bag. This is the first step in being prepared. I'll post instructions for a 72 hour kit soon!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


My kids eat a lot of ketchup. I think most kids do, so nothing super weird there, but commercial ketchup contains high fructose corn syrup which is something we try to avoid. So I make my own. Not to mention that I think it tastes better in most applications. It is different, far different, than the stuff you get in the squeeze bottle, but it is healthier and yummier.

I will probably put up 14 pints of ketchup this year. To do that I need 48 lbs of tomatoes, some sort of paste tomato. A paste tomato is something that has a lower water ratio than a slicing tomato. Rome tomatoes are the most common, but cherry and grape tomatoes also work. I personally use an heirloom variety called "Amish Paste" They are perfect and have a fantastic tomato flavor that really shines through in all my tomato stuff. I also have a yellow pear tomato plant in my backyard which is producing TONS of tomatoes, far more than we can eat, so I threw some of those in my ketchup also. The yellow tomatoes have a very intense sweet tomato flavor, and I think they actually added a nice flavor to my ketchup. If I continue to get this huge crop I might make a special yellow batch of ketchup to see how that turns out.


For many tomato applications you need to first peel the tomatoes. Tomatoes are very easy to peel. Drop them in boiling water for a minute, then straight ice water. The peels slip right off. However for sauce and ketchup you don't need to do that. Both of those applications go through a food mill, so you can just chop them in quarters and cook them until soft. While you are cooking the tomatoes you also need to add some onions. If you have 24 lbs of tomatoes you need to add three large or four medium onions and about ten cloves of garlic (I love garlicky ketchup) Combine the quartered tomatoes and onions and garlic and cook until soft.


While this is cooking (over the lowest heat possible) take 3 cups of apple cider vinegar and put it in a stainless steel pan. Make a spice bag with 3 tablespoons of celery seed, 2 cinnamon sticks broken up, 2 teaspoons whole allspice, 2 teaspoons whole cloves, and one teaspoon dried red pepper. Bring the vinegar and spice mixture to a boil and as soon as it hits a boil, turn off heat and let stand for one hour.

*a note about vinegar. Use organic or raw vinegar when cooking. Other vinegars can be full of weird stuff like formaldehyde.

Combine the vinegar and tomatoes and let stand for 3 hours at room temperature. Add three to four tablespoons of canning salt at this point (kosher salt works also, but table salt does not due to the iodine in it) This slightly pickles the tomatoes and makes the flavor deeper. At this point you need to run your mixture through a food mill. I think that some of the best 50 dollars you can spend is on a good food mill and my favorite for large batch cooking is this food mill


At this point I put the ketchup mixture in my crock pot and put it on low overnight. This helps to keep the ketchup from burning, which is possible on the stove top. I don't use my lid, but rather cover the opening with cheese cloth to allow the moisture to escape. When I wake up in the morning the kitchen smells amazing, and I have perfectly thick ketchup.

I pack mine in pint size jars, with clean sterilized lids and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

First tomatoes

I planted forty amish paste tomato plants and they are producing a ton of tomatoes and they are coming ripe quickly!

Today I put up my first batch of tomato sauce. I don't have a recipe as I just use what I have around and tastes and smells good. I always includes tons of onions and garlic, basil, oregano, carrots, and olive oil. Other ingredients vary from red wine to herbes de provence.

But my house smells wonderful this evening and I've got a row of tomato sauce ready for winter when I don't have fresh tomatoes anymore.

So far this season I've put up apx 65 jars of peaches, 30 jars of blackberry jam, 10 jars of fig jam, twelve jars of tomato sauce, 4 jars of ketchup, and 6 jars of green beans. I'm looking to start on some corn and more green beans this week and might put up some vegetable soup for those cold winter days where I just don't feel like cooking!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

All my pumpkins died :(

I'm very sad about it. I had vine borers that ate the insides out of all my pumpkins and summer squash. My butternut squash is still thriving, as are all my melons. But I'm honestly upset about the pumpkins, I was so looking forward to roasting them and having fresh pumpkin pies and pancakes and breads and adding pumpkin to my green smoothies with some honey and spices. Now I'll have to settle for store bought ones, or hopefully find a local farmer who has sugar pumpkins!

I'm not a giant zucchini fan, so it isn't a huge loss aside from the fact that I've never heard of a person who can't grow summer squash.

The rest of the garden is amazing. My tomatoes are freakish, over six feet tall now.

Giveaway results!

Sorry for the delay on this, but blogger has been weird and I haven't been able to log on!

We have 2 winners! I'm excited to share this book with these folks. The bee drew two names out of a hat and the winners are......

Deena and family of three! email me at erin underscore d underscore a at yahoo dot com with your address and I'll send the book right out!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A giveaway!

I'm doing a giveaway. I'm giving away two copies of “Common Sense" This book is one of those books that will educate and enrage you about our country at the same time. It is a great jumping off point to figure out what is "wrong" with our country. Most of us feel in our gut that something is off, and this book explains it well. And it is NOT a rant against the left as both political sides are to blame here. It is based on the work of Thomas Paine and in his day seventy five percent of the American Public had read Common Sense. It is time to read it again. The original Common Sense is included in the book also.

Here is how to enter. Leave a comment on this blog and link back on your own blog to here. If you don't have a blog, link on your facebook page or twitter and leave the link in your comment. You can earn up to three entries per person. This giveaway closes Friday at 11:59 p.m. central time. I'll announce the winners on Saturday.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Plans for the week

Thinking about adding more peaches. I'm just not sure that I have enough to get us through next summer. This is just the beginning of busy season, but I am really considering adding some more peaches.

I'm going to make some vanilla extract this week. It is so easy, throw some vanilla beans into some vodka and put into a jar. I'm doing 1 pint of extract and that should get me more than through the next year. It stays good forever too, so no worries.

Make a couple of logs of cookie dough for Christmas. Yup, I'm already thinking about Christmas. If I can get three logs of dough made I'm ahead of schedule. Since I've got a boatload of tomatoes coming ripe soon I need to stay on top of the holiday stuff so that I can actually enjoy it.

a window unit

We bought window air conditioners for our house this summer in an effort to reduce our energy usage. Window units in bedrooms only actually. They are energy star and cost very little to operate. Our electric bill was cut by half this past month.

We still use our central air, but keep the AC set at eighty during the day and off at night. It almost never kicks on before five in the afternoon and because of our big shade trees it stays around 75 most of the day.

We can set the window units at 73 at night, which is nice and cool and still keep our electric bill down! I'm loving this.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I just put up fifty six pounds of peaches.

Peaches are exhausting for a couple of reasons. First unless you have a peach tree you need to buy them in bulk and do them all at once. Second you need to peel and slice every single peach. Third, I had fifty six pounds of peaches, which translates to 41 pints.

But they are beautiful.

I also have peach butter in my crock pot cooking away slowly and will be ready to be canned tomorrow morning.

Peaches are done for me for the year. We love peaches, but this is enough to sustain us for this year. They are extra expensive this year because of a late frost, so we'll have to make do with a smaller quantity than I would like. I would actually like to double this amount.

But that doesn't mean I'm not staying busy this week! Vadilia onions are in season, which means I'm putting up sauteed onions! They are so great to have on hand to open a jar and top a steak or some chicken sausage! Also wonderful with potatoes.

More later on instructions for the peach butter and the onions!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The last of the spring carrots


I'm going to put some more in the ground at the end of next month, but for now, this is the end of the carrots. I didn't freeze any, we just ate them as they came out of the ground and they were amazing. Bright vibrant colors and sweet as sugar.


The blackberries kept me busy. Since other berries aren't happening this year, we are going to have our main stock of jam to get us through winter from blackberries. Thankfully we all love blackberries in our house. And a lucky side effect from four gallons of blackberries is pie too


But this post isn't about pie. This post is about jam and the thirty six half pints I've canned. I'm unsure if I'm adding more at this point or not.

If you don't have access to fresh blackberries you can also use frozen blackberries and still get great jam.


You start with your jam making process by picking over your berries and discarding any that aren't fully ripe. Blackberries must be black all over and even a tiny little red spot on a berry can cause the berry to be less sweet and slightly bitter. No amount of sugar is going to cover up that flavor either. Discard any berries that are unripe.

You need some pectin. I always use boxed powdered pectin. Making my own from green apples is a ton of work that isn't worth it to me. Jam is already a sometimes food since it is full of white sugar, so adding powdered pectin isn't a big deal. You will also need apx 9 half pint jars for this method.

First thing is you need to check your jars to make sure there are no chips, cracks, or other damage. You also need new lids and some rings (these can be used dozens of times) Lids must be new every time you process food because they can only form a proper vacuum seal one time. Wash all of these in hot soapy water and rinse well.

Next you need to bring some water to a boil in a canner or a very large pot that will cover the tops of the jars by at least 1 inch. This takes a while so you might want to bring the water to a boil ASAP. You also need another pot of very hot almost boiling water to keep your jars in to keep them sterile. And another of hot, but NOT boiling water to keep your lids and rings in.

Now for the fruit. You should have picked over and rinsed 2 quarts of fruit at this point. Mash the fruit with a potato masher 1 cup at a time.


You want to use a potato masher because if you puree it in your blender or food processor your jam will separate in the jars. 2 quarts will yield about 5 cups of mashed fruit. Bring that to a boil with your box of pectin. You need to boil this until it is at a full rolling boil, which means that it is still boiling all the way through as you stir it. While you are boiling this measure out seven cups of white sugar.


After your jam is at a full rolling boil add your sugar. Remember that this much sugar is not going to boil until well over 212 degrees so you need to be very careful as jam is VERY hot. You need to return the jam to a full rolling boil and boil for one minute after it reaches this stage. At this point you have jam, though it is very hot. You can put it in jars, put lids on it and freeze it. However you cannot store it on a shelf until you process it.

Ladle your jam into your sterile jars with a soup ladle and if you like a canning funnel (a funnel with a mouth that fits perfectly into a jar). After you jars are all filled put a lid and ring on each jar and tighten, but not to tightly as you still want air to be able to escape. You want the ring tight enough that it will hold the lid firmly in place, but loose enough that air can still escape.

Put in your boiling water canner and return the water to a boil for ten minutes. (Canning tongs are almost a requirement)

After your cans are out the lids will start to pop. You can hear them quite clearly. To check and make sure the jars were all processed correctly you should press down on the lid after the jars are cooled. If the lid still has give, then they haven't processed properly and need to go right in your refrigerator. If they have, mark them with the date and store in a dark cool pantry or shelf. They will last one year.

If you ever open a jar that sprays anything at you, smells off, or anything of the like do not eat it. Throw it away and use bleach on any surface that the food or juice may have touched. This is a bad jar.

After all this work (which only takes about 30 minutes active time) you'll be rewarded with delicious jam, and it is just beautiful!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I have blackberries!

I'll be making jam tomorrow and if the smalls cooperate I'll post tomorrow night!

And these blackberries are awesome and beautiful and I'm going picking again on Thursday, possibly Saturday and for sure on Tuesday.

So excited

Saturday, June 6, 2009


If you want to learn to properly can food I'll be documenting it this summer as I go through things. My first project will be blackberry jam. Home canning is easy, safe and inexpensive! I'll probably be canning in a few weeks and there are a few things you need if you want to follow along with me :)

1. Ball Blue Book. This is the bible of canning and every home canner needs one!
2. For Jam, pectin. You can make your own from green apples and yes that is a more natural way to jelly food, but I have no interest in that at this point in my life. Perhaps I'll learn how in the next few years, for now, I'll use the stuff you get at the grocery store in the canning aisle
3. Jars. Ball or mason jars. Clean, no cracks. Lids need to be new, rings can be used over and over again
4. Sugar. I have yet to use honey successfully in canning, so I have to use good old white sugar. No it isn't good for you, but oh well. I'm still working on using alternative sugars.
5. Fruit. Jams all work basically the same way, so whatever fruit you have you can use!


I want to get away for a weekend, but I don't think it is going to happen this year. The sailor won't have a chance to get away until late summer and I'll be in full preservation mode then! I won't be able to get away at that point.

I'm antsy for berries to come into season. No strawberries in the state this year, which is a bummer. But blackberries are in the next two weeks, followed quickly by blueberries, then I'll be busy nonstop with preservation.

I'm antsy to get started on it! I'm also trying to get the house in order as much as possible before the busy season starts. Because summer busy season goes straight until after Christmas before I can relax again.

Goodness, I'm tired thinking about it!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Busy season is in full swing

As I'm learning to live my life again more in tune with natural cycles spring and summer and fall are the busiest time of year, though right now there is a natural lag in things. The seeds are all in the ground, and they are all producing small plants. My tomatoes even have some tiny little green tomatoes on them! It is truly awesome to go out in the morning to look at my garden and see a whole row of new plants, new leaves on the squash, new blossoms on the tomatoes. The strawberries were all killed in Oklahoma due to a very late frost, so no strawberry jam this year :( I might buy a few bags of frozen and make some from that. Blackberries are next to ripen and they won't be ripe for about three more weeks.

But I'm trying to prepare for the beginnings of busy season which is coming up.

My cow is going to be slaughtered in about two weeks. I'm getting bones and organ meats also, which is very exciting. It will actually get here in about five or six weeks and that should line up perfectly with my final spring carrot harvest and perhaps a few onions. It will be exciting to make pot roast with stuff from my own garden. I don't have potatoes this year, so next year we'll add potatoes of our own! But I also plan on taking bones and making lots and lots of beef stock! I'll also be canning some stew, stew meat and ground meat. Canned meat is great, shelf stable, and easy to use. If we lose our power for an extended period of time, which is very possible in Oklahoma with the tornadoes and ice storms, we won't lose all our meat!

I also expect to be going blackberry picking in the next few weeks. I'll put up about twenty half pints of blackberry jam. Freeze some whole blackberries, and freeze blackberry pie. I'll probably spend the next week making pie crust dough and freezing it. I use whole grain wheat, freshly milled of course, and make a yogurt cheese crust with fresh butter and a slight touch of raw apple cider vinegar. It is actually a pie crust that is GOOD for you. I use soft white wheat, commonly known as pastry wheat.

When I make pie crust I make several batches at once and freeze them. That way I have pie crust on hand if I need it. But it is so easy to freeze pies and bake them later. I roll out my pie crust and line the pie plate with parchment paper and make sure it is VERY well greased with coconut oil. Fruit pies are the only pies that freeze successfully though. You make the pie according to whatever directions you are using, and freeze it in your super greased parchment lined pie plate. At this point slip it out of the plate and vacuum seal and stick back in the freezer. When you want a fresh pie you put it in the pie plate, and bake according to the directions and add fifteen to twenty minutes! It is wonderful to have fresh delicious berry pie in the winter.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


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Spring is a busy season in our house this year! I've got a fairly large garden and am planting, watering, weeding, and doing all those fun things. Usually by this time of year I would also be canning strawberry jam, but this year it isn't happening because of a very late frost here in Oklahoma that destroyed the strawberry crop. The few places that have strawberries are selling them for three dollars a pound and that is just insanity! Next year my own strawberries will be growing and I'll be able to get at least a small amount of jam out of them! I have a feeling though that as they ripen we'll just eat them out of hand. My strawberry patch isn't huge, 2 feet by 15 feet.

I have everything in the ground now, except my second planting of beans which will go in today. I'm only growing one crop of snap beans, and four crops of dry beans. I'm really excited about them and hope they all do well! Everybody in our house loves snap beans, and the bee is really loving going out every day and looking at the progress of our tomatoes, of our beans and now that corn is coming up she is thrilled!

I've got 40 tomato plants exclusive for canning this fall. I use canned tomatoes a LOT and in lots of various forms. I'll probably make 20 quarts of maranara sauce and the rest will go to juice, bbq sauce, ketchup, and just plain canned tomatoes. I'm hoping to put up a very large amount of all of those things!

I'm also growing a pretty large winter squash crop, hopefully next year I'll double it. Sugar pumpkins and butternut squash are staples in our home in the winter.

There is something wonderful about moving toward a seasonal life, more nature driven. I can't do laundry on days that it is rainy (which has been a LOT lately) because I hang my clothes outside and they won't dry. I'm paying closer attention to what foods are in season. Honestly who wants to eat a crappy tomato in January, or a hard strawberry in October. They just aren't good.

There is something wonderful about living a life that is more unplugged, pulled away from the life that is focused on the glow of the television, or of the lights in the supermarket. I'm excited for this transition. I think it is better for my kids.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

This is not a political blog, but....

Sometimes politics really have a profound affect on all aspects of my life. I've been down the political blog path, and I can't do it, for many reasons.

However, due to many things happening in the world, and especially in our country today I want to encourage anybody who is reading this, to build up a food supply of at least three months. Our freedoms are being lost very very quickly in our nation today. Free speech is under attack, personal liberty, and many other freedoms are under attack. I believe firmly that while the government is telling us that the economy is on the mend, it hasn't even hit bottom yet. The new deal didn't work if you study history beyond the junk that one is fed in schools. And the current administration is going so far beyond what was done in the new deal it isn't even funny.

We have been building a food supply for several months, and hopefully will have a one year supply by the end of summer. Not only do I want to get a full year supply, but I want to have a longer supply of such staples as sugar, salt, and wheat.

The economy is built on a house of cards right now. I believe we are in a temporary upswing, it might last as long as a year, but it will crash hard, very very hard I believe after the 2010 election cycle. I think that God is giving people who are willing to listen a time of preparation. I'm not screaming total collapse or tyranny, or holocaust, or apocalypse. I'm saying that our nation, no our world, needs to reset its economy onto something real. We can't continue to exist on virtual and theoretical currency. Economics don't work that way.

I think we need to erase as much of our debt in the next year as possible. And store enough food to feed our family. The church of latter day saints has some amazing literature and guides for this, but I'm hesitant to link to it without the disclaimer that I believe Mormonism is a false religion and their teaching does not lead to the true Messiah, but a Jesus that they twisted and crafted. However, they have excellent guides to food storage for your family, just read at your own risk. I'm hoping to step up my blogging here again after the spring rush of planting slows a bit. And hopefully I can encourage many of you to build your stores as Joseph did in Egypt. For indeed, I believe dark clouds are gathering.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

This sunday morning

I'm sitting here listening to my big two year old singing "Mmmmm and wide" She doesn't like the part where they sing the actual words to Deep and Wide, so she just sings the MMM part for deep. Now she is singing wonderpets.

I think we might have worked out the church issue. I think. We visited a church last weekend that had great fellowship, nice people, kinda lousy pastor. I feel bad saying that, but he preached the exact same tired recycled sermon that every other pastor of non denominational churches that want to become mega churches preaches. I feel like so often those pastors are preaching textured vegetable protein, not meat. They are giving you something that looks like meat, kinda tastes like meat, but isn't actual meat.

However, we went to a homegroup associated with this church on Wednesday night, and it was awesome! Mature Godly families who really wanted to dig into scripture and grow. I was blown away by this group. It was the first time since we have lived in Oakland that we found this. I cried as we were leaving, looking forward to the following wednesday night.

However we aren't planning on making the church our church home. We'll go, on a semi-regular basis probably, but not full time. We ARE planning on making the messianic Jewish church here in town our home. We loved that church, but our only hold up was they didn't have small groups, which for us is really important.

I'm thankful, I think it is solved!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

very very very sensitive

Please pray for my family. My cousin just hung himself.

I'm unsure at this point if I can make it home or not.

Please please please if you have an alcoholic in your family or life try and help them if possible.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

First Harvest

Well my garden is doing GREAT! I've gotten several harvests of spinach, and now we are almost to the point where we are so tired of spinach we can't stand it. I pick enough spinach each day for use somewhere and the next day the small leaves have grown so big I have to pick some more! Green smoothies, spinach quiche, Saag paneer, all sorts of stuff and we have spinach coming out our ears.

But, the spinach is amazing, almost buttery. The bee sits in the garden and eats it without even washing it and I don't worry about it because I don't spray my garden with anything but garlic juice.

We have also had a few radishes. I would have had far more but a late hard freeze killed about twenty of them. But we have had about ten white radishes which have a great peppery flavor to them. They are delightful straight from the garden, rinsed and popped whole into my mouth!

We'll have broccoli soon, hopefully before the summer here gets to hot and causes it to bolt. I've also got about twenty onions growing! I'm hoping to get a big harvest around the same time that my tomatoes and jalepeno are ready so I can make a few batches of salsa. My beans onions garlic, herbs, will all go into the ground in about two weeks. I'll follow that up two weeks later with corn, summer squash, cucmbers, and winter squash.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

homeschooling thoughts

The more I study homeschooling and learn about it, the more comfortable I am with it. I started out thinking about it because I didn't want my children in public schools. We actually live in a community that has really good public schools and that would be a decent option for my kids if homeschooling doesn't work out. But we'll be moving away from here at least once before we move back, and I don't want to put my kids in and out of schools that may or may not be good. I want to insure stability in their education. And I know that I can provide a good education for them.

I have a friend who is really really smart. She worked for NASA, got a degree in some sort of engineering, and she was unschooled until she was ten (I think that is the age) She didn't know how to read until that point because she wasn't interested in it! Yet despite a very unconventional education, she is one of the smartest people I know. She is one of the many many success stories I've seen with homeschooling, and I'm confident that we'll be able to do this in our home too.

However I'm not sure I'm ready to jump into unschooling. I think that I would fail my children if I didn't have a curriculum. I think about that a lot actually, but I just don't think I could do it.

So the more I look into homeschooling, and the more I get to know my oldest child, the more I lean toward Charlotte Mason as a model for our home, with some Classical education thrown in for good measure. Charlotte Mason especially is very focused on nature, spending lots of time outside, and lots of books. Young children are encouraged to spend all day outside if possible! And it is amazing how much learning there really is to be done from nature.

It is also very book intensive! Lots of reading. The bee and Huck both love to be read to. In fact I bet we spend about an hour every single day reading out loud!

I'm loving this phase of pre-school where it is so focused on nature and books. There are no flash cards, no spelling, no quizzes, nothing that I've heard other children go through at this age! But she knows all her colors, she knows how to spell about ten words, knows how to count to forty, knows so much! Just from observing the world around us!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cauliflower Soup

This time of year is a bit rough on me. I LOVE spring and we have these delightful warm days where it gets up into the eighties, and then the next day it will be a high in the fifties.

So today it was the latter. And I'm trying to be positive about it because I do love cool crisp weather too.

ETA: I put the leftovers in the fridge and it was WONDERFUL as a cold soup! I might make it again in the summer as a chilled soup and perhaps cut or eliminate the cream! It was great!

So I decided today was a cauliflower soup day. And I've never made it before.

It was great! Easy too. I always keep a lot of frozen cauliflower in my house because it is a quick and easy veggie that all of us like. Or at least can tolerate easier than others.


1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
3 cloves garlic
1 lb frozen or fresh cauliflower
1 t. salt
1 T. herbes de Provence
1/3 c. cream

Cook the garlic in the chicken stock for about 1/2 an hour then add cauliflower and simmer until it is soft. Add the salt and herbes and then blend either with a stick blender or your stand blender. Stir in cream.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Spring is here! sure we have another couple of days till it is "official" and the lat frost is almost a month away, but oh my spring is here!

We have been trying to spend as much time outside as possible. The flowers are blooming, the air is warm, and we are just loving spring! The bee is at such a great age for really exploring the outdoors also. She chases ants, catches ladybugs and laughs when she touches rolly polly and they roll in a tight ball. She is enchanted with the radishes and spinach and carrots that have come up in the garden and helps me water and weed every day! She can't wait for the spinach to get big enough to eat!

And we found a TURTLE in our driveway a couple of days ago. Slowly, as turtles go, he wandered through the backyard, down the hills to the fence. We opened the gate for him to get to the creek and he left. The bee loved it, she loved watching him go across the lawn slowly and find his home. It was amazing.

Huck isn't so thrilled with being outside. He seems to be a bit scared of grass, which is odd. So we have been putting him in the pack and play, or I've been wearing him. But he is outgrowing wanting to be worn all the time also. So that has been a bit sad. But he still naps for long chunks of the day, so we are outside during naptime frequently.




Sunday, March 15, 2009

green smoothies


So it isn't the most appetizing looking drink in the world, but it is delicious and soooooo good for you! I have long proclaimed my hatred of vegetables, but know that I need them in my body. But this is an ingenious way to get raw veggies and fruits into your body! And it is SO filling and delightful!

You want to use a variety of greens and fruits, sixty percent fruits to forty percent veggies. And leafy greens work great! Broccoli and cucumbers add great flavors, and parsley and mint is just really refreshing! But the best part of green smoothies is you are getting all these greens and getting them raw and can't taste them! The fruits take away the bitterness of the greens. I've used spinach, collards, turnip greens, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, endive, chard, and kale. And I've discovered that there is nothing in the world that could make me want to eat kale. I don't like it. If I can't drink a kale green smoothie, nothing on earth is going to get kale in my body.

But you can also add some great extras into your smoothies to boost the nutrition. Coconut oil is a great one to add, raw milk kefir or yogurt, raw honey, anything that is healthy and sounds good to you!

I'm not going to post a recipe for green smoothies as I've not been using any, just kinda raiding the fridge and frozen berries to throw in there. But you can google green smoothies and find tons of information about them and lots of great recipes! Have fun!


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gah I've been missing

I've been missing I know. But spring is here! Well that isn't why, we have had a few weeks of sickness floating around our house, but with the advent of a few things that I'll post about later it is all good! (Including my adventures with green smoothies which are my new love) I think I'm also struggling with a bout of anemia so I've been extra tired on top of it all.

But we are still struggling finding a church and I wanted to share part of a message I sent to a friend this morning and tell me what you thought about our struggle to find a church.

We really love it here and are still praying about where God would have us for Church. We are so tired of mainstream consumer driven evangelicalism. We have serious theological issues with mega churches and even some of the smaller consumer driven ones. I'm so tired of going to churches that advertise "an awesome worship experience" Great worship is very important, but these churches are so caught up in flash that they forget the Good News! They get stuck in happy God is love seeker friendly mumbo jumbo they never get to the heart of Christ. People get "saved" but couldn't articulate what they are getting saved from. I don't believe you can get saved from the unknown and you can ask Christ to save you if you don't know the truth about God! It just doesn't work.

There is one that had a ten week bible study on how to help people transition after the move! I'm sorry, but I don't need a ten week bible study on that, maybe MAYBE an afternoon. But I looked over the book, there were verses at the beginning of every chapter and that was it! That wasn't bible study, that was fluff! These churches aren't turning out mature disciples Christians who can effectively spread the gospel, they are turning out plants that fell on the rock and at the first sign of trouble will wilt and wither away.

As we go into the next century further, and starting no with a government who is becoming more and more Anti-God (yes I said that, and yes I believe that) we have to root our children in something far deeper than shallow prayers before a soccer game and awesome worship experiences. I will not have my children following the path of other children raised in "Christian" homes who are assaulted when they get to college with liberal ideas that are against God and falling away from the faith. 80% of our kids are falling away!

So we are looking for something deeper. Something meaningful that will last in our childrens lives, and we are finding it in places that we didn't expect. That is why I posted the article about the coming evangelical collapse. We have been finding true deep Godly worship in old denominations. Nazarene, Mennonite, Orthodox, even the Catholic church here in town (which I grew up Catholic so it shocked the heck out of me) and our favorite has been the Messianic Jewish congregation.

Okay, so you probably didn't want my novel and rant LOL My heart is honestly aching for the American church though. I'm angry at Satan for getting in there and having such a huge STRONG foothold! And some are so ignorant of his very existence that they don't even know what to look for and how to resist him. It makes me mad

That is where we are, and this article about “the coming evangelical collapse seems very timely to me.

So where do we go. Do we continue to search the nondenominational evangelical congregations we have always been so comfortable in, or do we move a little more toward the traditional? We are as always in prayer and study about our next choice.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

California's drought and why we need to prepare here

California “has a drought emergency I don't live in California anymore, and even if you don't, this is a big deal. But beyond that combine that with a 10% unemployment rate in California, and the California economy tanking. The state is in huge HUGE trouble.

California is a big deal in our nation. Half the nation's fruit, nuts, and vegetables come from there, it is the number one dairy state, they grow almost all of the almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, kiwifruit, olives, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, raisins, clovers, and walnuts. Get my point, they grow the majority of food in America. If California falters, you might go hungry.

Imagine that 25% of the onions that are in our food supply suddenly disappear (this is what is grown in California). The crop fails in California due to drought, or lack of workers, or transportation issues, or failure of the state government to pay agraculture subsidies. There are a whole myriad of things that are very possible in our current climate to cause this failure. The price of onions will go up by probably 100 to 200 percent. But not just onions, do you know how many products onions are in? Soup, breads, chips, salad dressings, potato salad, pot roast, fish sticks. Get my point?

California is in a serious situation right now and it would be wise to store some food for your family to weather the storm. I'm not saying to go out and buy seven hundred pounds of wheat berries and five years worth of toilet paper. I'm saying pick up a few extra cans of soup when you go to the store. Prepare. Higher prices are coming, as are possible food shortages.

Just be wise. Joseph saw the signs and prepared the nation of Egypt. See the signs. Prepare your family

my last jar of strawberry jam

I opened my last jar of strawberry jam from a canning session last spring before Huck was born. It is perfect. Sweet, but not as sugary as the stuff you get from the grocery as I typically like to use about half the amount of sugar as you get in the grocery (if anybody has made jam with natural sugars pass along the recipe!) I think there will be local strawberries here in about two months, so I have to survive without any strawberry jam for a few months. I suppose we can make it. It does remind me that I need to add some jars when I make jam this year. Now that there are three of us eating jam, and by this summer four, I'll have to step up my preserves a bit.

This is a quiet time of year in terms of eating, especially if you are trying to eat locally. Eating locally in Florida was very hard as there wasn't a lot of agraculture in our part of Florida. But we have a few jars of this and that left from last summer. I didn't do nearly as much as I wanted to because Huck was so little!

But I DID get some local asparagus a couple of days ago from a woman that I met online. Just a few spears, but if you have never had fresh local asparagus you have never had asparagus. It was sweet, and, almost buttery tasting.

Oh and we joined the Y. We wouldn't have done it, but our local Y offers free membership to military families, so that is pretty exciting!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

crazy busy

So much is going on here lately, lots of stuff. But all good things.

First we have wild sand plumbs growing in Narnia in the back. These apparently grow quickly and wildly where we live, and are supposed to make delightful preserves. So it seems when the fall comes I'll be making sour plum preserves. I'm also going to experiment with some sour plum pies, in the tradition of sour cherry pies!

Second in addition to my spinach plants which I've already had to thin, I also have some broccoli, fennel, tomatoes, eggplant, and onions started. My radishes are going to pop through any minute. Carrots in a week or so I hope.

And I found a wonderful source for raw cows milk. I don't like goats milk, so finding cows milk close by was a delight. It is very close to where the sailor works and is a healthy source. I met the farmer when he was feeding a little calf that had just been born! There is something so amazing about meeting the farmer, petting the cow, and knowing exactly where your milk is coming from. The price is amazing too! I'll easily be able to start making my own cheese and butter again!

In addition to all those amazing things we have also gotten free membership to the local YMCA. In an effort to bless the military population they are giving free memberships to military members. I was amazed and blown away when they told me that, I just couldn't believe it! We were planning on spending over 50 a month for a membership, and now we are free! I can't quite get over the shock.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New life

It is chilly outside. We have had a few days of warmer, some days even hitting 70 and that is the joy of living in the part of the country we do, but today is chilly. But this morning, as I went to give water to some desolate ground I found this


It doesn't look like a lot, but last week the bee and I pushed a tiny little spinach seed into those very spots. And now, there is tiny new life appearing where there was once just brown dirt. My first little crop has appeared, my first little step toward growing food this year to sustain my family. I've got about fifteen little tiny guys appearing right now!

And I'm giddy with joy!

I've got seed pots started with broccoli, tomatoes, fennel, and eggplant. Onions and carrots will hit the ground soon, carrot seeds perhaps today. Radishes in about three weeks in a direct sew.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

my goals for the year

Yes, it is the middle of February, and I'm only now getting to my goal list, but here goes anyway! The furthest from home my list takes me (aside from my trips to Narnia) is Arkansas, but that is okay. My home is lovely and my family a joy, and I need to work on our home and my little urban homestead.

1. Can enough tomatoes, juice, and sauce to last until the end of next summer when I have more tomatoes

2. Can enough jams and jellies to get us through next summer (2010) when I'll have more

3. Grow raspberries and blueberries and blackberries around the house

4. Make and freeze a massive amount of basil/mint pesto

5. Learn how to knit socks. I can at this time only knit washcloths and scarves.

6. Finish a quilt

7. build a chicken coop so we can start chicks in spring 2010

8. Build a root cellar in Narnia (we have on our property a wooded area by a creek with a gas lamp that we call Narnia)

9. Repair the gas lamp in Narnia

10. Make homemade Lacto fermented pickles

11. Take the kids peach picking in the summer early in the morning

12. Run a 5K. This will be tricky because I hate running more than anything else in the whole universe ever. However, I keep setting this goal. My husband loves to run and always wants to run with me. It is good for me, so I should probably step up and just do it.

13. Visit the western heritage museum.

14. Rid our home of more plastic, especially in the kids toys.

15. Start and maintain sourdough and use it regularly.

16. Move to grains beyond wheat, rice, and oats on a regular basis.

17. Grow potatoes in a trash can. How awesome does that sound!

18. Make Narnia look a bit nicer, since right now it is overgrown and full of fallen trees from the Ice storm a couple of years ago.

19. Increase my food stores to six months, and make sure we are not only eating them, but rotating them.

20. Dig for diamonds in Arkansas

21. Go camping at least three times

22. Live with the heat at 66 in the winter and the AC at 80 in the summer

23. Go fishing a couple of times a month

24. Take a gun safety course and learn how to hunt

25. Go hunting

26. Butcher whatever I can manage to kill on my great hunt

27. Eat vegetarian at least twice a week

28. Increase my veggie intake to the USDA recommendation

29. Make Parmesan cheese, and start making homemade ricotta and mozzarella again.

30. learn more kids songs to sing with them

Whats on your list this year?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

light dinner

The sailor came back from deployment a bit tired, so I'm trying to make whole nourishing foods to help bring him back to feeling better. But I'm also so excited to have him home I didn't want to spend a ton of time in the kitchen!

So pasta is the dish when you don't want to spend a ton of time. Always.


I'm Italian and I think somehow the previous generations of women who cooked amazing Italian food deposited memories into my DNA and I'm naturally a good Italian cook. There are a few secrets though. Garlic, lots of garlic, never EVER garlic powder or garlic salt. Sun dried tomatoes in olive oil. Olive oil. Super fresh or frozen veggies. Fresh basil. Fresh mint. You get the idea. Fresh, good, real food. No imitation, no additives, nothing but real food.

True Italian food is clean and healthy. Americans have visions of Italian food dripping in marinara sauce with cheese from a green can sprinkled on top. Sure marinara sauce is a staple in Italy, but not at every meal! Not even on a weekly basis!

This dish isn't a 'true Italian" dish. You'll not find it in the Silver Spoon, which is the Italian cooking bible, and you won't find Mario Batali making it in his restaurants. But it is real, clean, fresh, and delightful. It has many variations, but probably no name.

*cooking note, you can substitute garbanzo beans for the chicken for a great twist! The garbanzo beans combined with the whole wheat pasta is a whole protein!

1 lb broccoli (fresh if in season, otherwise frozen is great)
2 carrots chunked or shredded
5 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 zucchini chunked or shredded
1 yellow squash chunked or shredded
1/4 jar sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil sliced in long strips
hand full of basil, chopped
Parmesan cheese to taste

2 chicken breasts or 2 cans garbanzo beans
1 lb farfarle pasta

simmer chicken until cooked through but still very tender. While this is simmering cook all other vegetables in olive oil until crisp tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook pasta until al dente. Mix all together and top with basil, tomatoes, and cheese to taste.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What to do in an ice storm

We go outside daily. We walk around in the backyard or at a park even if it is cold. The only time we stay inside is if something wet is falling from the sky.

Well we have ice. Falling from the sky. It is beautiful as all ice is, but it keeps you in the house because it will cut your face if you are outside in it!


You can see the sweet little bush (I can't wait to see what it looks like in the spring!) all covered with ice.

But what to do with a two and a half year old and an almost nine month old when it is this cold? Why crafts and candy making of course!

Our craft selection was a bit scarce. I needed to plan a bit better, and I didn't. I try hard to plan crafts a week in advance, so that I know what I need and can get prepped the night before. Preparation is key with a two year old because you never know when they will turn on you! So you want to make sure things are fast paced.

But today we were low key, so we broke out the watercolors and I printed the story of Noah off the internet! And we made books about Noah and talked about it, though as we were talking about it I was a bit disturbed about the actual story and hesitated to really go into it. We stuck with the animals and the rainbow part of the story, and rested in the knowledge that God is faithful!


We attached the whole story together and had the cover made of pages that we had glued rainbow stripes to. She loves her new Noah book, and I'm thinking of having it laminated so that it isn't destroyed over time.

It does snow where we live, but it is fairly rare. Ice is more common, and we have had sleet, ice, and snow in the past 36 hours. But I grew up in snow country and I know what to do inside with snow, make snow candy!

First you gather up a big huge bunch of snow, in a large bowl or on a cookie sheet. I left a pie pan and a cookie sheet outside as soon as it started to snow (please discard ALL snow that is discolored! And if you live in an area where you are known to have very polluted rain or snow do NOT do this!)


I always use a copper pot if possible for candy making. It is much more sensitive to temperature changes than stainless, and my gas stove is a joy when candy making as I can make very slight, but instant modifications to the heat.

you need for this

1 c. real maple syrup
1/4 c. butter (no margarine!)

Boil your maple syrup and butter until it is 255 on your candy thermometer.


Then remove from heat, let cool for three minutes and pour in funky designs over your snow!


This will harden pretty quickly and you should be able to eat it within five minutes. It never gets super hard like a lollipop and if you would prefer than then boil it until it reaches at least 265 on your candy thermometer. I much prefer it where it is hard, but still has a little bit of give in it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why I make graham crackers

Graham crackers are yummy. One of my favorite foods, and I was excited to make them when I first found a recipe!

However, once in a while I like to buy graham crackers for ease of transport. Well Imagine my surprise when I opened up a box of Earth's best Organic Grahams to find



So yeah, no I remember VERY clearly why I don't eat a lot of processed foods!

Graham Crackers. I've adapted this from one of my FAVORITE cookbooks, which is Bread for Life 3 by Beth Holland. It is hard to find, but she does have a website, and I can't access it right now because firefox is freaking out.

1/3 c. oil (I use 1/6 cup coconut oil and 1/6 c. canola oil)
1/3 c. honey
2. T. Molasses
1 t. vanilla
2 1/2 to 3 cups of fresh ground hard red or white wheat (I prefer white)
1. t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 to 3/4 c. milk

Have your oven at 300. Mix the first four ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the dry ingredients in another bowl and add the wet to dry, alternating with the milk and mixing very well. The mixture should be to stiff to mix with a spoon and not very sticky and easily form a ball. Spray two half sheet pans with non-stick spray and divide the ball into two. Roll onto the half sheet pan until the pan is covered. cut the dough into 2 1/2 inch squares and poke each with a fork several times. Bake 15-20 minutes until it is lightly browned. Remove from the over and let it cool on the cookie sheets then separate into squares.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

home brews

I want to learn how to home brew beer. I Love beer, and live in a state where six point beer has to be purchased only in a liquor store.

Even cooler would be to grow my own hops and barley and....

Well that just sounds like a lot of work. Nevermind. I'll drive to texas and get myself some Fat Tire

an energy crisis, even with low oil prices, and a plea to President Obama and congress

“For now, the wind stuff is deader than hell.” What happened to the much-hyped Pickens Plan?

I don't believe in man made global warming, but I believe STRONGLY in green living, and the importance of finding alternative energy sources. We are required by scripture to take care of our earth.

A year and a half ago I was paying over four dollars a gallon for my gasoline in my car, today, I'm paying a dollar sixty. Oil prices have plummeted and this isn't entirely good news. We in the western world are such instant gratification people. A year ago people were pushing green energy, bio energies, wind power, solar, hydro, nuclear. Anything to get this oil beast off our backs. Four dollar a gallon gasoline seemed to be the tipping point for Americans, and where we decided something should be done. But now oil is cheap again, so the oil crisis must be over, right?

Not so much. WE all know that oil is in limited supply. It won't last forever. Especially with China and India demanding more and more every day. So why aren't we converting anything? Why aren't we working toward our country getting off our oil addiction? Former President Bush addressed the issue, but never did much about it. I had hopes that President Obama would use his stimulus package to develop green energy, but instead the stimulus package is going to help build a waterfall in the tiger exhibit in the Philadelphia zoo, and a mob museum in Las Vegas. Neither will help prepare our country for our future with a limited energy supply.

We need to work on alternative energy now, so if we run out of oil in fifty years we have power, transportation, and aren't scrambling to get something done.

I am writing to President Obama and my congress men to ask them to please look seriously at REAL alternative energy sources. Wind, solar, nuclear, and natural gas are the best, most realistic solutions!

Time alone

I've come to value alone time a great deal since Sunday. My kids do sleep through the night and they are sharing a room and often a bed right now. The bee goes down at seven and Huck usually around eight. I have about an hour to an hour and a half after he goes down all to myself. And I'm waking up at six, and they aren't up until seven thirty. So I use that time to work out, shower, and do a bible study, followed up by some internet time.

I'm doing it on my own right now as my husband is deployed on a training mission.

It makes me appreciate how hard it is to be a single mother. Just these few days. I'm not sure I would be up to the challenge of being a single mother and having to work.

And with that, I hear a bee who wants me to come and wish her good morning.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

History with a 2 year old?

If she can identify Dora, she should be able to identify famous faces from history.

So I went to the Library today, and found two books. And I'm so excited to read them to the bee tomorrow and tell her about this amazing man who changed the world. However, how do you address a topic as henous as racism with an innocent child. As I was looking at these books, I was a bag of mixed emotions. So proud of this man who I admire, but at the same time, so sad there was ever a need for him.

The first is a board book, and looks like it is really on her level. We haven't read it yet, but we will tomorrow.


second was written by Martin Luther King's sister, Christine. I haven't read this one, and just picked it up, so I'll read it tonight before we read it tomorrow.


I've been trying to think of some sort of activity or craft we can do to celebrate this holiday, and I think that we are going to make a list of how to make people happy. It sounds simple, but she is so young. I'm hoping that a small activity like this will build the spirit of caring and compassion that moves mountains.

skim milk

Who ever decided to take all of the cream out of milk and make it blue and serve it skim style was nuts.

I tried it on some cereal this morning and was horrified. I couldn't even eat the cereal. ewwwww

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Our future (and current) Homeschool

The bee is two and a half years old. However, she is old enough to learn so many things, and she craves structure. She loves schedules and lists and charts. She has a 'chore' chart where she checks things off with a washable crayon every day when she accomplishes them. She makes her bed when she wakes up in the morning, and checks it off, she helps me unload the dishwasher, then checks it off. She loves it! Totally the opposite of my personality which is much more laid back and unscheduled. It has been hard to mold myself to her needs. Huck so far is much more laid back than the bee ever was.

So we chart. We have schedules and actually keep them pretty strictly. She loves them, and thrives on them.

And thus we DO a bit of homeschooling already.

I'm a big fan of Charlotte Mason and Rudolph Steiner (Waldorf method) when it comes to the early education of children. Both are very arts and crafts driven, as well as lots of time in nature, observing seasons, and natural progression of things. Very little media, and just a general encouragement of creativity.

However this form of education seems to suit me a bit more than the bee. I'm learning to mold the philosophies of these methods to a child who thrives of her little lists of things to do. So we go outside from ten to ten forty five, then we come in and have singing time for fifteen minutes, followed by lunch at eleven, book at eleven thirty and nap at noon. (Just an example, not always the real schedule)

I've been looking a bit more into more structured education for her. She seems at this point to really like it, and I think I'm leaning toward a classical approach at this point. Once again it is book heavy, as is Charlotte Mason, but it is also more structured. I like several things about the classical method, especially the emphasis of critical thinking.

But again, I'm getting ahead of myself. The child is two ;) And Huck isn't even nine months old.

I think one of the keys of parenting is identifying the styles of your children and catering to it. Especially perhaps with adopted children who aren't going to follow the same styles as yours. And perhaps that will require a home school where if you have five children, you'll have five different styles.

oh the food he'll eat

Huck is eight and a half months old and doesn't stop eating it seems. But he is wanting less and less formula, and more and more real food. So far today he has eaten a half a banana, some mexican rice and beans, this apple/oatmeal/cinnamon thing that I made, and some sweet potatoes, plus two bottles. He just isn't all that interested in bottles anymore :( I'm wondering if he would like to start drinking from a straw or a cup.

I am not one to feed babies filler foods like manufactured rice cereal or puffs (though the bee gets these as a treat once in a while) or such. Babies are just little people, they should eat food just like real people eat. And I don't think we should start putting food in their little bodies until they are reaching for it themselves. With the bee this was around five months, with huck this has been around six months, but starting in a BIG way this past week.

Whole grains are good for babies and they are so easy, not to mention cheap, to make at home! Grind up some rice, barley, oatmeal, or millet in your blender or grain mill until it is a fine flour. Then whisk it into rapidly boiling water and cook for about ten minutes, thinning as needed. If you add some fruit or veggies to this it is a great healthy cheap and easy option for babies and their little tummies.

But they don't need it at four months. They still need breastmilk (formula if that is what you do) at that age!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I have returned

I'm back on this blog. I haven't had time for it since we moved, but we finally have internet back, and hopefully I'll be blogging more a bit more, but we'll see. I've got a nasty internet addiction and have to be careful.

We are home, and slowly, slowly unpacking. Much harder with two little kidlets than it was before they came along. But I'm making this house we bought my home. And it is our first home in many ways. This is the longest we'll be stationed anywhere, we could be here up to six years.

I've dug a garden, and have plans to put peas in the ground in about three weeks. Oh glorious peas! I might throw a couple of spinach plants in, and perhaps a few other very cold hardy plants. We live in a fairly moderate climate, but this is a cold winter, so I might put it off a bit.

We made a large purchase right after we moved in, a new sofa and loveseat. We sold the old one when we left Florida, and needed something besides blankets to sit on in the living room. Dark brown leather, not squishy, but lovely. And we got a crazy good bargin because it was a floor model.

My little ones are transitioning to sharing a room. Huck had been sleeping with us until recently, when he started to rebel. He waited longer than the bee did to rebel against the family room, so off to his own space he goes, right across the hall and I'm checking on them several times a night. But it is really sweet. When he fusses in the night the bee will often climb into the crib with him and they will snuggle together. During the day she shows no interest in him at all, but apparently at night, he is her responsibility. I'm glad we chose to have them share a room.

Life is calming down, we are happy, thrilled to be here. It is just wonderful to carve out a small part of the universe for our little family, something that is ours.