Hibernating

Last year I took a delightful course online called Hibernate.  If you are interested the course is still open until Friday, so it is not to late to join if you like what you hear.  Hibernate is simply put all things beautiful about the winter weather.  A home retreat, which is self-paced, that enables the individual to find inner peace, warming and happiness in the depths of winter.

When you think about it hibernation in nature is truly a beautiful thing.  Animals are forced to make one of three choices: head south, stay and tough it out, or hibernate.

It’s not often that I would say that I choose the easiest of the three but when given the opportunity I would happily hibernate as a bear versus flying south like a Canadian goose or even more extreme as a Monarch Butterfly.  Yes I would be a bear.  Happily sleeping away the winter, oblivious to the world around me.

As humans we are given the gift of choosing, after all some of us still do fly south *smile*.  But really hibernation is not an option in our society today.  We have to work, we need food, we need companionship but most of all I think we all really do need a bit of REST.  And I do not mean the kind you are forced to take when ill.  Just simple, peaceful rest.

Yes, there are parts of this course that I do not fully participate in.  Like the beautiful dish drying matt so many made last year (I finally got a dishwasher so I’m letting it work for me).  But there are still many parts of Hibernate where I step out of my comfort zone and simply try them.  Who knew that a homemade Chai tea blend could be one of my favorite warm beverages-prior to this I hated chai teas.

The point is this, in today’s busy society we so seldom take time to simply rest-for body, mind and soul.  I know that I have benefited from taking this relaxing course and I’m sure you could as well.  Don’t feel pressured to join the class-I have NO AFFILIATION with them-but do take time to do a bit of hibernating for yourself.  You may find a peace that only the ice, snow and cold of winter can bring.

Grab a cup of something warm, snuggle under your blanket and watch in awe of those critters that brave the winter toughing it out (No, I don’t mean your neighbors…well maybe).

Happy Hibernating!

From Mama Bear

Here is the link to the course if you are interested.

As the New Year Approaches…

As the new year approaches I am often left in thought about how our society puts so much pressure on us to improve ourselves.  While finding ways to be healthier, happier and save more money are all great things, who is “society” to tell us how we should be living?
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The famous New Year’s Resolution is one that can cause a lot of pressure to be placed on oneself.  Often times these resolutions are unrealistic and simply cause further distress to us since we set ourselves up to fall short of our goal.

So as the new year arrives I encourage you to follow these three simple steps to creating a resolution that does the most important thing out there, supports you.  It’s time for you to do what you want and feel good about it.  Here are the three steps to help you create the best resolution for yourself and not our society.  Happy New Year!

#1:  Consider a Realistic Goal that Brings You Joy and Happiness

What better way to ensure success than to plan for something realistic! Making a realistic goal allows you the opportunity to reach the challenge you have set. In return this will bring you more joy and happiness. So keep it logical and you will be happy you did.

#2:  Create an Action Plan of Attainable Steps

This is basically your goal taken and shortened into more manageable daily, weekly or monthly pieces.  Having a plan of clearing ten acres of land or losing fifty pounds in a year is very realistic.  However, if you do not take the steps to make it into smaller bite size pieces you will be left feeling overwhelmed by the massive overall picture.

Take the time to calculate out what you can be doing each month.  Starting there allows you to really chip away at the big picture.  Then pencil in time during each month that you are going to dedicate to this goal.  That could be working out twice a week, setting aside a weekend a month to clear land, or researching the process of owning your own bees.  This is your goal!  Don’t let me or society decide how you should approach your dream.

#3:  Take Steps Toward Success and Map Your Progress

Often times, at least for myself, I want to see success right away but that may not be the case. If you have set a challenging goal for yourself it could take six months or even the full year before you have completed it.

That’s ok but I suggest milestone markers to celebrate along the way.

Nothing makes you work harder and feel more confident than achieving a bit of encouragement along the way. Make your overall all goal into manageable steps and CELEBRATE when you achieve them.

So the new year is here. Its time to decide what you would like to do differently or improve on this year. Take a moment to make a list and then halo yourself by making sure you are using these three dimple steps to help you reach your success.

Happy new year! And as always happy homesteading.
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Freezer Fill Up:Day3-Freezer Apple Pies

It is day three of our freezer fill up.  I’m not sure about the rest of you but I really enjoy my sweets.  And no dinner is complete without a desert right?

Today’s freezer apple pie recipe is from my wonderful friend Super Sarah.  This lady has three beautiful children, another on the way and she still manages a farm with her husband and an amazing garden.  Thank you Super Sarah for this simple recipe!

Here is what you will need:
Pans

For the crusts:
1 3/4 cups Crisco or 1 1/2 cups lard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 cups flour
1/2 cup cold water
1Tablespoon vinegar
1 egg

For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon brown sugar (optional)

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This one didn't get to the freezer...

Alright, let’s get started on these pies!

Note: the crust recipe makes enough for at least two full sized pies top and bottom. This is not a single pie recipe.

First start your crust by mixing the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. 

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Add the Crisco and use a pastry cutter in incorporate it until it is nice and crumbly.

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In another bowl mix your water, egg and vinegar. Whisk them together well and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix until well incorporated.

Seperate into 4 and place in plastic wrap in your refrigerator.

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While that sits chilling, mix the sugars, and cinnamon in a bowl (I’m relbelious and used the same bowl).  Start peeling and chunking your apples and add them to the cinnamon/sugar mixture.  Mix as you go to avoid browning.

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Once you feel you have enough to fill your pie shell, take your pastry out of the fridge and put it in your pans.  This is very forgiving pastry so I just pat it in since my roller and I have different ideas from time to time.

Optional at this point, is adding a handful of cornflakes to the bottom of your pan at this time.  It helps to absorb some if the moisture and you cannot tell they are in there even.

Fill the pie shells with your apple mixture.  Normally you would have these heaping full, but my pans have lids that I want to use so I had to tame it down a bit.  Feel free to fill as much as you wish.

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Another optional thing I do is to add just a tad of butter on top of the apples.  This is not necessary but who doesn’t like butter.

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Use remaining pastry to cover your pies.  Label them and freeze. To bake simple put in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour to an hour and a half.

Talk about a treat to have in your freezer.  This recipe is so simple you cannot help but double it.  In just a few hours my sisters in law and I made eleven pies.

Go use those beautiful apples and fill up your freezer.

Happy homesteading!

Freezer Fill Up: Day 2-Chicken Pot Pie

It’s day two of our freezer fill up and I am so glad you are back.  Yesterday we covered freezer corn today we are moving on to a ready made meal. 

These are my favorite things to have on hand.  Delicious homemade goodness ready to be baked at a moments notice.

Today we are making freezer chicken pot pies!  Here’s the list of supplies you will need:
Chicken (I used thighs-2lbs)
Carrots, peas, potatos, corn, or any other veggies you like
An onion
Pastry or your own homemade ones. 
Salt, pepper and thyme

Alright lets get started. Please note when I made this batch I made enough for one large pot pie in a 9″ pie pan, and three 7″ disposable freezer pie pans.

First take your chicken and put it in a large stock pot with plenty of salt (2Tblspn) some pepper(1/2teaspoon) and half of an onion. Cover the chicken completely with water and bring to a light boil for an hour or until the chicken is fully cooked and fall’s apart easily.

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Chicken preparing

Let this cool and set to working dicing your veggies.  You can put in any vegetables you like. In our home the regular add in’s are potato, corn, carrots and green beans or peas.  We also add the other half of the onion.

Get a sauce pan nice and hot and melt three tablespoons of butter in it.  Then add your veggies.  Saute them for three to five minutes or until the vegetables are starting to turn. Potatoes and onion will become translucent.

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Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour over the mixture and let it absorb all of the juices.

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Ladle the broth from the chicken pot into the sauce pan.  I added about three to four cups.  Liquid content is based on preference.

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Pull your chicken out and dice it all up. Add it to your pan as well and stir it all together.  Here I usually add salt and pepper to taste and thyme. 

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Using your pie pans fill each crust about 2/3rds full.  Do not over fill as this could boil over later. 

Place a crust on the top, label and freeze.  To cook simply pull from your freezer and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.  Remove the lid part way through so you get a nice golden brown crust.

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Enjoy!  This is well worth the time when you have three spare meals frozen for later.

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Three dinners whenever needed.

Happy homesteading!

Freezer Fill Up-Day 1 Freezer Corn

Welcome to our first day of the Freezer Fill Up! I’m so glad you are here. I hope you are excited to fill up your freezers.

My inspiration for these posts is two fold.  First when you have a bounty or can buy inexpensive produce you should stock up while you can!  Second a recent illness has led my family to use up a lot of my freezer stock pile.

Today we are getting started with freezer corn.  This is my mama’s recipe and it is super easy.  Just the way I like things to work this time of year.  In two days I froze over 250 cups of corn!

Here is what you will need:
Freezer bags (lots of them in the size of your liking)
Canning salt
Sweet corn
Butter
Water (tap water is what we use)

That’s it!  Lets get started!

First get your corn off the cob.  You will need 16 cups of corn.

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Next put it in a big pot.  Add 4 cups of water, 1 stick of butter and 4 teaspoons of canning salt. 

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Bring the entire mixture to a boil.  Boil for 8 minutes. Then let it cool.

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Bag and freeze your corn. 

That’s it.  How simple is that! Of you have two pots going at the same time it goes by very quickly. I like to take my cooked stuff and place it in a big turkey pan to cool so I can keep things moving.

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My husking helpers.

See you tomorrow for more freezer fill up ideas!

Freezer Fill Up

With fall well underway I find that now is the time to start thinking about a freezer fill up.    There is no better feeling than entering into fall and winter with a bunch of delicious homemade meals in jars and the freezer.

In the next week I will be posting daily, similar to my Living On Less posts from a few months back.  Each day will have details on various foods that you can fill your freezer with before winter arrives.

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Sweet corn harvest.

I’m focusing on having in season products being used as the main ingredient in dishes.  A few things I will be showcasing are freezer corn, chicken pot pies, freezer apple pies, muffins and lasagna. 

It is time to full the freezers and add some variety to our lives. Preparing these meals in bulk is a great way to save time later. Be sure to follow the blog so you don’t miss a thing!

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One day in the garden...

Happy homesteading!  I look forward to seeing you all in the coming week.

Craft of the Month-How to Freeze Herbs in 5 Easy Steps

It seems only fitting, being that we are starting harvest time, to have our craft of the month be something edible.  I know that not everyone has a planter full of herbs in their back yard but right now I also know the price is right if you are purchasing them. 

Our craft of the month for August will be showing you how to freeze your own herbs in five easy steps.  And when I say easy it is not an understatement. 

Let’s get started. 

First get your herbs together.  Wash them up really well and discard any undesirable parts.
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Second, dice them up very fine.  You can either chop them or I like to use my Quick Chef.  Dice them until they reach your desired consistency.
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Third, place the diced herbs into an ice cube tray in the quantity you use while cooking.  For my herbs I planned to have about a teaspoon per cube.
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Fourth, take your olive oil (or water if you prefer that instead) and fill each cube tray until just covering your herbs.
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Finally, place them in the freezer and let it do all the rest of the work. 
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You will be able to pull out the cubes individually for recipes as you need them.  I also like to store mine in a large Ziploc back after they are frozen to ensure they stay at their best quality. 

Now it’s your turn.  This craft of the month is super easy and will save you time and money down the road.  If you have never stocked up for winter before start here.  It is super easy to do and very affordable.

Happy homesteading!

Craft of the Month-Tornado Kit

Happy belated 4th of July.  A few weeks ago, here on the homestead, we experienced the scare of having funnel clouds passing right over our home.  While I am usually prepared, since moving I had not put together an updated tornado kit.

Most people will read this and hopefully follow my lead by making a kit for themselves as well. 

Although your kit will not be used regularly, or ever hopefully,  it is a wonderful thing to have on hand when the clouds roll in.

When the funnel clouds rolled in for us a few weeks ago they came in quickly.  I ended up taking a blue bubble foam covered Tractor Man into the basement in a blanket.  Sitting with small children for an extended period of time really makes you need to plan.

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Making your kit is very easy.  I used an old diaper box and added the essentials for our family.

Start with some water bottles, a few snacks that will last the season in storage, and a few things to entertain your crew.

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Water and individual applesauce cups.

I of course decided we needed spare clothes for the kids, some extra diapers, and a lighter and candle.

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I really love this candle by the hour light and am working my way up to getting one.  It can be found at several different stores and online. So look around but I really love the Candle By The Hour.

Adding a few things to make the boys feel more secure was helpful as well.  Glow sticks are easy to add to the box and our kids love them. If the power goes out they can each have a few this way.

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Flow sticks. Store in a tube so they are secure from cracking.

Your final kit can include anything else you feel you may need. I added some paper towel for spills, runny noses, etc.

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I am also considering adding a few financial things such as an extra debit card or a prepaid visa card.

I hope and pray that none of us will ever need to use these kits. I hope you will all join me and plan ahead for your family.

Happy homesteading everyone.

Craft of the Month-Homemade Burn Cream Recipe

I am re-posting this from last year.  I think this is always handy to have around.  My sister had to use the last of our batch from last year just last weekend.  Make a batch today so you have it on hand.

Please remember the best form of sun protection is to prepare in advance and wear sunscreen.  I suggest a mineral based sunscreen and we like to use this version from Babyganics (though it can be a bit smeary if applied to heavily).

Why You Might Need This

Every now and then it seems that I get to busy with my children to take care of myself. This last weekend was a prime example of this.  I sprayed the boys down well with sunscreen first thing as they left the house, but an hour later when I went to work in the garden I forgot to protect my own skin.

I spent a few hours working in the garden while the clouds lazily drifted over the sun from time to time so the thought of sunburn did not really enter my mind. I accomplished a lot in those hours so I was feeling pretty pleased, until I went inside to fix dinner and then I felt pretty warm.

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Did you know it is easiest to get burned while it is cloudy out? Well, I am living proof of that.

Thankfully I was not to exposed so my only body parts that got to much sun were my shoulders and a small part of my upper back. Knowing that it would come to be painful I decided to do some research on what would help relieve the skin the most and the fastest.

Here’s what I learned.

I learned that lavender essential oil is amazing on all skin burns of any kind. The healing properties are wonderful and soothing for the skin.

Colgate toothpaste really does pull out a burn. I don’t know if this one works on sunburn yet as I have not tried it but it really does wonders on a burn from a stove or other hot item.

I once used Colgate and lavender essential oil on Tag Along after he grabbed a hot item. As soon as it happened I raced into the bathroom for our special tube, we keep it just for burns, and put a big glob in his hand.  You can watch the toothpaste turn to a soup consistency as it pulls out the burn.  I repeated this twice and then gently rinsed his hand.  I followed it up with lavender essential oil.  Being the frazzled mama I dropped three drops of it right onto his burn and he never even blistered!  Since then I have told everyone I know who has had a burn.

You should never exfoliate the skin! If you aren’t the type to peel a scab, another thing I would not advise doing, then do not try to exfoliate your sunburned skin.  Treat it gently and let the skin shed itself.

Apple Cider Vinegar can pull the painfulness of the sting out of your burn for a time. I was surprised to learn this and to be honest I do not understand the science of it but for some reason it helps to rehydrate the skin.  Since most everyone has apple cider vinegar in their homes this is definitely worth trying if you have it on hand.  There are even recipes online for misting your skin with a blend of water and apple cider vinegar.

Vitamin E oil (organic or non is fine)helps to control the burn as well. However, this is a very sticky substance.  I just happened to have some on hand after needing it with our last baby but I would not say it is a must have.

Coconut oil helps the skin to heal remarkably well. Being anti-microbial and packed with hydration it really aides in the healing of your skin.  I did read that some say not to put it on for 48 hours after a sunburn but I did mine the same day and noticed my skin felt much better on day two. This would be your call.

After reading all of this information I wanted to create a burn cream recipe that can be used for any type of burn. Here is what I came up with and I hope you enjoy it too.

My Burn Cream Recipe:

½ teaspoon Vitamin E Oil

3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil

5 drops Lavender Essential Oil

½ Tablespoon Shea Butter (optional)

Directions:  Mix Vitamin E oil, Coconut Oil and Lavender Essential Oil together.  Be sure to mix well.  Use cream liberally several times a day on affected area.

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*If you are using the Shea butter simply add to the mixture of the other three ingredients. Again mix well.  Using the Shea butter will provide you will with a thicker cream and lock in more hydration.  The melting point for Shea butter is higher than coconut oil so it will be creamier and less liquid the more you add.

Store cream at room temperature in a sealable container. Note as well that the consistency of your cream will depend on the temperature of your house.  You will also find that the cream turns to liquid once it sits on the skin.

As always remember that the best way to stay of a sunburn is never to get one. So please, don’t be like me, remember your sunscreen.

Happy homesteading.

This post does contain Affiliate Links.

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day

Every now and then on the homestead, especially in the summer months, it seems as though our list of things to get done gets out of control. It’s hard to remember that sense of peace and fulfillment as the list grows.

Today was a great reminder for me to take that step back and really access what needs to be done and how or when. Prioritizing what matters most to us and learning to work with mother nature, as I write this I am soaked to the bone after a rain storm caught me mid-mowing.

So how do you make sure you can get your list completed and not feel spread too thin? Here are five simple ways to make the most of your day.

Prepare Ahead    

The key thing to preparing ahead is to simply look at the coming week, or day if you are just starting off with this, and determine what things you really need to get done. Then start by accomplishing those simple things that can be completed before the start of the next day. Prepare ahead.

 

Laying my children’s clothes out the night before, and often times my own even, allows us to get up and get started quickly with no debates over what to wear. This is something your children can even do themselves and take pride in accomplishing on their own.

For me preparing ahead includes making a weekly and monthly meal plan. I also like to write down what we have coming up for events so everyone is aware of what is happening and when. This really helps us to avoid double booking things.

Planning ahead is something we should all really try to do but when it comes right down too it many of us fall short, myself included from time to time. Knowing that this is a key way to get your day off to a great start I strongly suggest this.

Make a List  

 

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Today's list for me


I suggest making two lists, one for the month and one for the week, of things that you want to accomplish. Making that larger picture of the things to get done this month allows you to breakdown those larger tasks into more manageable pieces in a week by week format. For many finding a way to break a big task up is just what is needed to complete it.

Some people really get into list making but let me say that the list is only as effective as the person who is creating it. I don’t know how many times I have written a list of things to accomplish only to have it fall short when I do not take the time to really get after it.

Prioritize

I do suggest having a couple of easier tasks that may not be as high of a priority thrown here and there. Having these less meaningful but easy tasks will help to give you a confidence boost with a pat on the back for completing them.

After you have created your lists it’s time to really take a look and prioritize them. Start by things that are most important to you and your family and then work your way down from there.

Set Limitations and Make Expectations

Set limitations on what you want to get done daily. If you just keep adding to your list of “to do’s” you will soon find that you are frazzled, overwhelmed and simply do not know where to start. Limit yourself to 2-3 big things in a day or 5-10 smaller manageable tasks. Really know what you are capable of completing well in a day do not push beyond that realistic point.

Making expectations is not something that is intended for you. The list of expectations you have are for the other people around you. Say for instance, your children. Make a list of things you expect them to get done in a day and hold firm. For little ones a reward of some kind for all of their hard work is always nice, we did a playground trip yesterday for their hard work. Remember that encouragement along the way is something that will help them get the job done and with less whining.

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Meal plan for the week and the boys daily expectations.


Limitations and expectations are the two things that will either help you to succeed or fail. You need to remember that you are but one person.

Focus Yourself

Focusing on the task at hand can sometimes be the hardest part. Shut off the TV, don’t look at your phone or e-mail and really focus on what needs to happen right now to finish things. Our society has made it a norm to multi-task, and while it has its place, it can also be extremely healthy to unplug from time to time. Give it a try and see how it affects your work ethic.

Making the most of your day and feeling accomplished really is possible when you follow these five simple steps. Having a plan and following it help you to focus and succeed at even the most overwhelming tasks.

Know that not every day will be perfect. Sometimes sick kids, or mother nature, change your plans for you.  Be flexible enough to work around those situations and look at the bright side.

I may not get my lawn completely mowed today but after that rain shower I will not need to water the garden.

Happy homesteading.

This post was shared on a lovely blog hop. Check it out herhttp://http://oursimplelife-sc.com/simple-homestead-blog-hop-53/e.