Friday, December 23, 2011

Homemade fruit on the bottom yogurt can be made with a spoonful of jam, homemade or store bought yogurt stored in half pint mason jars in the fridge for a week. 

The food in our house changes with the seasons and just when I am looking forward to yummy foods of the next season someone announces to me that they don't like that... ugh. I love routines and traditional foods when they work for us but it makes it challenging when you know recipes by heart and they say they don't want to eat that any more. So this year after trying to please my families palate we are trying to keep it simple so the mommy doesn't go crazy. Simple salads, less ingredient meals, and untraditional breakfasts. My husband likes fruit on the bottom yogurt with granola so that is easy because I can make those ahead of time and put them in the fridge. For the kids the somewhat untraditional breakfasts they are eating are leftover rice turned into pudding, homemade quick breads(zucchini, pumpkin or banana) with butter or cream cheese or hard boiled eggs and toast. We also always have apples, pears, and right now oranges to snack on in the winter. During the week it is our own homemade cold breakfast and on the weekends we make a big egg/meat/potato breakfast with Dad. For lunches it is leftovers, soups, salads and/or raw vegetable plate. For dinners we have a different type of meal every night... one night is soup, a stew night, a rice with roasted veggies meal, a roast chicken with salad meal, a meat pie meal, and sometimes a pasta meal. We try to stick to the same types every week but only one time per type per week so we keep it varied.
So keep your recipes simple so you can enJOY your time nourishing your family. Here are some simple recipes we like:
Oat Soda Bread
Homemade Larabars(they can be made ahead to keep on hand for snacks)
My favorite place to go for SIMPLE recipes is Stone Soup(love her beans with ham hock and salads)
Also love Shannon's simple cookbooks on Nourishing Days(grain-free and nutrient dense)
A Keely family tradition is to take leftover bits of meat and veg and turn them into a meat pie....must be that irish heritage to try and use every last bit. I mix it all together with a homemade cream soup recipe(the recipe is halfway down the page on the link), put it in a baking dish and top it with a pie crust. It bakes at 350 for about 45 minutes. I even use up hearts, livers and other "not-so-kid-friendly" meats in the meat pie because they can't tell.
Do you have any simple nourishing meals your family enjoys in this season?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Winter CSA

Our biweekly Winter CSA
 So as I watch our little garden outback slowly go to sleep for the winter and I dream of spring planting we are eating from our winter CSA. Last year it was a lot less but this year we decided to give them one more try since I am not fond of the grocery store. We were pleasantly surprised with the abundance and variety. I even giggled a little when I saw the stalk of brussels. Our favorite way to enjoy most of these fall veggies besides raw is to roast them with a little walnut oil. Last night(would have had a photo but it disappeared to quickly) we had a piece of ham, roasted carrots and brussels. Simple but naturally sweet. The fun thing about this CSA compared to the summer one is they never tell you what anything is. It is a scavenger hunt through the seed catalogs to identify everything. I normally do ok with this till I got to the large roots in the back??? They are not turnips or beets but actually a very large chinese radish. So they are all for me since I am the only big fan in the family. Oh, I can sneak in a few slices on their salads but these are 2 huge roots that need to disappear in 2 weeks before I get more. So that pile on the table and the other squash, apples, potatoes, and onions I have stored are what we are eating for the next two weeks. With an organic CSA being about $23 a week(but we actually pay the whole thing at the beginning of the season) we try to eat only what they give us and what we have stored from the harvest. So every other week I wait to see what they give me and what meats my freezer holds before I plan what we will eat for the next 2 week. One of my favorite cookbooks to use with this way of planning is "Simply in Season" by  Cathleen Hockman-Wert and Mary Beth Lind. Our favorite from the cookbook is Maple Walnut Scones with maple cream added to the top when they are warm from the oven.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Today being one of those "elfing" days... Cookies, sewing, and sending cards, oh my!
Actually my thoughts keep going to another countdown in my head.... the one where winter ticks away while you drool over seed catalogs... ok, I do. I LOVE fresh from the garden veg and fruit. I thought those catalogs weren't supposed to come until January in the midst of some winter blizzard. Well, anyway while I am contently warm in my little home waiting to see what God has next for us, I think about what I might plan for next year's garden.... or not plan. So as not to get frustrated over the not knowing if or what to plant in a garden I may or may not harvest... I can still learn more about the fruits and vegetables I would love to grow someday. So what I am starting next week when the gifts are all wrapped and we finish up our last week of school for 2011 is a index card file of all the plants I dream of growing someday. Some I have already grown and others I don't have room to grow here... like asparagus and horseradish. It is good to learn about the different kinds your family likes and when they get planted and harvested. Which ones are best for storing and which ones taste best. That will keep me busy all winter and make for a nice resource when I am done. Also we did sign-up for next years CSA so we always seem to have a nice abundance of wonderful vegetables and fruit from that. I even started seed saving the past 2 years of some of our favorite vegetables from the CSA and friend' gardens.
Our favorite seed catalogs:
Johnny's Seeds
High Mowing Seeds
Baker Creek
The Cook's Garden
Renee's Garden

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Home Again

After spending the last 2 weeks farm sitting at a goat farm I am ready to be home and elfing. Yes, you heard me "elfing"; making things for my family for Christmas. After years of making things for them I now start to get requests for homemade goodies.
This year they are getting:
*Mug Rugs, new mugs, special hot cocoa mix, peppermint straws, cookies to decorate,
*More fabric envelopes to hold pen pal letters and drawing supplies for church
*DIY Wonderball with marbles, candy, charms, and collectible rocks
*New boo boo packs in their favorite fabric
Not as many homemade items this year since we were busy farm sitting many weeks this fall not to mention some vacations. So next year like many years I will start earlier on some new mittens, pj pants, and pillow cases in flannel.
Here are a few photos from last Christmas.
Stockings filled with knitting supplies, games in tins, chocolate, candy cane, and felting supplies. 

Cookies to decorate

The tree only had white lights on it when we arrived so we added paper snowflakes and paper Ogees
(Ogee directions can be found HERE )

Paper Ogee

Monday, October 31, 2011

Being Prepared

Wow, what a weekend. The things you think about when you don't have electric or may not have electric. So we only flickered as the storm hit but other family members are still without power. Some family members thought they could use their gas oven but soon realized it had all electric readouts and ignition. Church was canceled because they did not have electric to run lights or the furnace. I quickly heated up some soup from my stock of quick and easy mixes in a jar I made up about a month ago for the winter and/or emergency. We enjoyed our soup as we listened to our large oak tree out front crack and loose some of it's larger limbs. We are stocked with candles, warm clothes and easy meals that can be made on our Coleman or Holland grill if need be. We don't have a heat source though and our freezer would thaw after a few days. I also had a problem after working in the crazy weather Saturday morning. I was soaked till I was done and had to put the clothes in the dryer because with all the moisture in our ground I can't dry clothes on a rack in my basement right now because they don't dry fast enough and smell mildewy. So this learning experience helps me to take note for our future home since we would like to be debt free and off-grid. That Vermont Bun Baker is at the top of my list for heating, cooking, baking, and heating water. I can also dry clothes inside if I had to. I will post later some other neat things I found to make life more comfortable without electric.
    I pray all of you are warm, well fed and safe.
My meals in a jar
I took regular recipes and made them so they have no MSG and no preservatives.
I also have next to them some organic broth and organic chicken in a can from Trader Joe's incase
I don't have time or the power to cook the meat. 

My spices and premixed seasonings that make a quick meal of oats, quinoa, rice or beans into a delight.
I got the recipes for the mixes from the book Outpost by MaryJane Butters and they are also in her book MaryJane's Ideabook/Cookbook/Lifebook.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Preparing for Transition

What if someone told you that you may be temporarily living in an RV with your 2 kids.... homeschooling them, crafting with them, and having just plain fun for months... what would you take? What in your home is worth paying to store? Well that may just be our situation at some point in the next few years. I am seriously being led to pair things way down and streamline life. Just about the time you think you have things cleaned out you find more things you NEVER use. Now I do like to hang on to practical things like canning jars, fabric, books, and a few sentimental things but a lot can go. I only have one bin left in my attic to go through and a basement that needs a second going through and then I should be good for storage. Makes me grateful to be living small already.
    Why an RV you ask?
Well my husband and I did it for 5 months when our landlord at the time wouldn't go month to month and we were looking to buy a house. We bought a 27 foot RV for a little over $2000 and sold it for the same price 5 months later. It is a great way to transition from one situation to another and save a little over renting a place and being locked into a month to month or a year lease. Also the kids see it as an extended vacation. As long as there are trails to hike, lakes to kayak, pools to swim, fields to fly kites in(we fly rokkaku and stunt kites) and camp fires to make mountain pies over we see it as an adventure.
Something else to ask yourself; how often do you get outside to do things you always SAY your going to do? Like hiking a certain spot, fishing, laying on the grass looking at the stars for hours, catching lightening bugs, or sitting around a camp fire? When we did this for 5 months it was the best time of our lives. Very little bills, free time to spend enjoying God's creation all around us, more time to help others, and less stress. Now mind you this works best during spring through fall and we are looking to move north so it is temporary at best. The nice thing is we can pack our favorite things to make it home. It is nice that things like ipods, laptops, and Legos are all small. Here are a few pics from our last trip that are inspiring us to do this as a transition..... maybe you want to do the same some day.
Great Pond, ME

On top of Bald Mountain

Bald Mountain, Maine

Blueberry fields starting to turn red in fall

Thursday, October 6, 2011

10 Good Things... or more

I like Amanda Soule's 10 things she posts on so here is my version.
Roasted fall vegetables(beets, parsnips, squash, potatoes, carrots, onions, and sweet potatoes in walnut oil)
Leaving the windows open
Watching the squirrels be silly(we could sit at the window all day)
The garden and the market overflowing with yummy fall produce(need to stock up)
Red leaves falling
De-cluttering once more and finding treasures
Finishing up the last of the canning and seeing the shelves full
Working on Christmas gifts
Planning new knitting projects
Snuggling up with my family on a windy evening

Oh, here are 10 more... I can't help myself
Homemade hot cocoa
Telling stories of days gone by
Letting go of THINGS
Quiet mornings with the Lord and my own thoughts
Fall fairs
Remembering last week sitting staring at the stars at night and the sunrise over the lake in the morning
A basketful of apples and pears
Friends and family that love you because of who you are and despite your flaws
A new writing program that everyone is excited about
Kisses in the morning

God is good. Blessings don't get lost as easily when you write them down. I think writing them down and declaring them is another way we say thanks to God for these times in our lives. Here are some photos to go along with my thoughts. Now you go share ten good things too!
Our CSA pears, peaches, and apples galore

Working on Christmas presents

A Red Waddle Pig at the Common Ground Fair Unity Maine
I love the harness... they are little hard to catch otherwise

Love and memories tied up in one little flower... 

You have to love our area with it's 4 seasons 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Learning to Live Fully Today

While we wait to see what the Lord will do next in our lives we continue to live one day at a time. Isn't that what it is really about... we don't know what tomorrow holds so we just live each day to it's fullest. Don't get me wrong I do plan things like meals, my pantry, and schooling but so much just happens and you have to be flexible. It was hard coming back from a state that is void of bill boards and urban sprawl. But friends made it easy to come back to fellowship. Even though we did not find THE house we always get an education that was well worth the trip. It was beautiful too. It was a time to take a deep breath next to my dear husband and appreciate all God has given us. Learn to live fully today because tomorrow has enough worries of it's own. I am sorry that I don't know how to work our camera well enough to take a picture of the beautiful stars at night with the milky way right down the middle but here are a few during the day.

Parks Pond Campground in Clifton Maine

Monday, September 19, 2011

Stocking the Pantry

Preparing for fall/winter here in PA is a gradual thing for us. Starting in June with strawberry jam to October when we grab a few extra squash to store. The in between seems a bit crazy with weekends of chopping vegetables and fruit that have been picked ripe with loads of flavor just waiting to be savored in the cold winter months. So far we have canned tomato sauce, apple sauce, jam, pickles, dry soup mixes, an herbed rice mix, and dehydrated vegetables. Hopefully we will finish off the productive week canning chutney and more tomatoes. In October we will end our season with some hot pepper relish and some apple butter. Yum! We use SIMPLE recipes to keep going because it is work to get it all done. The chutney is a recipe(by River Cottage Cookbook) used by default. It uses extra zucchini and green tomatoes so it is the best end of season use-it-up recipe I know of but it makes a great accompaniment to meats in the winter. Other things we do to prepare are make Elder berry syrup and Children's Composition for colds, chest rub, salve, sniff jars, lip balm, hard lotion bars(, deodorant, tooth powder and any tinctures that would be needed. The meat for our freezer gets ordered as fall closes in. This year we will have beef, lamb, deer, pork, and chicken. SO if you need a pantry and freezer list of what we have done in the past please let me know. The question I get asked most is how do you know how much of any one thing to stock in your pantry? Well I don't always but if you are into a routine and you know your family eats say one pasta meal a week with red sauce then it makes it easy to figure how many jars of sauce you would need for a whole winter. We usually run out in the spring but start making pesto the month that follows to use some of the fresh spring greens. Look at how you cook and some of your most used recipes to see on average what you use that you could preserve or buy in bulk. Buying in bulk is great if you are going to actually use it. We buy wheat in large bags and store in 5 gallon buckets because it has a long shelf life but rice we do not because it is only good for about a year.
Happy canning!

Tooth powder and deodorant

It took me 2 years to save enough white currants to make jelly and I got 2 half pints jars for all that work.
I think I like jam much better!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Warmth of Home

We love our little home and it is hard to think about moving in the next year. As I think about the many memories we have here I realize we carry those with us no matter where we go. I have all my wonderful memories from my childhood that I carry with me as I make my own home a nourishing place for my family. Another warm quilt gets added each winter now, pretty colored preserved foods line the pantry shelves as fall approaches, book reading at bedtime, snuggles, and learning where ever we go. I am trying to cherish every moment as each day passes by. Here are some photos to warm your thoughts on a rainy day.
Our sanctuary (excuse the mess at the end of the bed)

Yummy homemade hot cocoa

warm soda bread

A quilt that took 19 years to finish!

waiting to become chili 

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Rhythm of Family

Enjoying my copy of Amanda and Stephen Soule's new book "The Rhythm of Family. Reading it brings back memories I didn't realize were fading. I am thankful they brought words and photos to the seasons and moments that I cherish as well. A wonderful book with activities and reminders of the wonderful changing creation around us. God is good!
So around here I am starting to feel the cool dewy mornings of fall creeping into the end of the summer. Even though questions of our future pop in now and then we try to live fully today. Mornings are my time to reflect and hug the moments I cherish most in my heart. Finishing projects that are long overdue and starting Christmas gifts is what happens around here the end of summer. It gives me time to be creative and let things develop. I love when the kids peak and ask if something is for them. They love my handmade gifts. Gavin has caught the spirit and bought a book to make softies. He is filled with ideas for gifts. Today momma promised to wash his fabric so he can start cutting. Yeah, I love when creativity is contagious..... now only if the reading would catch on.
My stash of some yummy fabrics and some of my favorite books for sewing.  

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Scattered Life

Feeling a little scattered at the moment.... why you might ask.

  • trying to figure out why spell check said almost every word was wrong.... it was on German setting!
  • reading to many books at one time
  • even after cleaning out the whole house top to bottom with things I won't use... I still have enough winter projects for the next few years
  • trying to figure out what I want to can this late summer since I am feeling like I don't know when the Lord may move us (hoping for spring and not late fall to winter)
  • not knowing if we are staying here in Pa or moving to Maine (faith like a mustard seed, right)
  • we are into a rhythm with each subject(homeschool) but trying to set-up our day so I can spend time with each child..... I only have 2 and I can't imagine having more to schedule
  • lastly trying to schedule 4 home remodeling adventures for the next 12 weeks(roof, basement windows, kitchen, and yard overhaul) 
  • planning on making up 60 mason jar meals to have on our pantry shelves for winter but found I only have 2 cases of jars left
As we exit summer to glide through fall and into winter I hope the calm and rhythm of home sets in for what I consider to be "stay at home" days. Dreams of hot cocoa, leaves or snow falling, warm meals, warm sweaters, stocked pantry shelves, lots of books and new knitting projects! Ok, now I am feeling a bit more focused!
When do you feel scattered and overwhelmed?
Where will our next nest be? (this is an osprey nest in Maine)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Boys are made for work

Well, it is pretty funny when your 9 year old says " if I had more work for my hands to do I wouldn't need a TV". This was after spending time helping to fix the pump at the farm. Thank you Lou, he had a great time "working like a man".
Boys need that time to fix things, build things, and feel that accomplishment. It is one of the things that drives us to look at moving to a more rural area. Kids need to run, play, and work. They love appreciating God's wonderful creation and all that it holds. As we vacation this summer I know it will be different because we are thinking about the way in which God is pulling us... maybe for our sake.... maybe for the children's sake.... but definitely to fulfill HIS purpose. Searching to glorify God in all that we do.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Preparing for the harvest

Just about the time we get used to picking fresh vegetables and fruit we have to start thinking about preserving the harvest for winter. Right in the middle of a 90 degree day we have to think about the coldest day of the year and what we will be eating. I love pulling a jar of sauce, pickles, or berry jam from my pantry shelf in January. So this year I made up a simple form to start to keep track of what I make each year. Some years are great for tomatoes and other years give a bumper crop of cucumbers. It took time at first to figure out how much we would eat over the winter but I am the one in charge of the pantry so I can space out when we use various canned items. This year we will hopefully can tomatoes, pickles, and maybe a few new items.
Happy Harvesting and Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Let the jam/jelly making begin

These white currents hang on our bush like little pearls in the sunshine. So this year I venture more into jelly making. Last year was all about the jam because of the abundance of berries but this year we have lots of herbs and currants. Lemon balm currant jelly is first on the list. We'll see how that goes and then maybe some lavender jelly before the weekend ends. You may just find yourself receiving some for Christmas!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spring Cooking

Back from a short vacation... I really appreciate my small simple kitchen. I also want to share with you one of my favorite sites because she just released her new spring e-cookbook. It is one of the best simply in season cookbooks I have happily stumbled upon. Go here to get your copy at Why I like this little cookbook so much is I had tried the winter one with wonderful results and I love recipes that use what I have on hand. Shannon and I have some similar goals for the future so I appreciate the simplicity of using food I could grow myself. I am not much for going to the grocery store or shopping at all for that matter. My goal is to go to a grocery store twice a year to stock up on certain things I find essential. Like toilet paper and baking soda... I can't think of anything else at the moment. Enjoy the rest of spring and God's bounty.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Farm chores without the farm....

So I seem to have made the best of the situation it seems. I don't have a farm YET and living in the burbs gives me only so much room to expand my homestead. I don't think that has stopped me from sharing in the bounties elsewhere. I just received my lovely quilted quilt back from Janie at the Wallace Homestead where she used her long arm to make my Around the World quilt look almost professional. Now for me to finish the edge in the midst of finishing planting my garden, starting to plan out my herbal berry jam/jelly preserving, and finding a budget friendly way to prepare my bags of wool so they can be spun into yarn. Also trying to find a local source for elder flowers and nettles in the wild. I think I have found a nice crop of nettles but the elder flowers still allude me. What will I do with nettles you ask? Well, with some fresh spring cream I am making nettle soup(irish recipe) and nettle quiche. Inspiration coming from England in the form of many episodes of River Cottage, we will be learning to do more foraging as we learn our botany this summer. We are doing the Botany in a Day book to learn our plant families as we forage some local areas. One area we visited on Sunday is our well loved farm family at Shepherd Valley. It was a rainy day but we managed to dig up some cattails, look at a property, and meet new lambs Emma and Gavin. My Gavin also helped to feed Nigel the house lamb at the moment.

Emma and Gavin with mom Faye

Monday, April 25, 2011

Going deeper...

The devotion hit me hard today... oh, nothing I didn't already know but something I was reminded of(as my husband so wisely said) when things are right in front of your face it is hard to see them or to have a more Christ-like perspective. So after a heavy weekend of trials I pray a prayer that within minutes is being read in my devotional almost word for word. I love how God works. Constantly reaffirming who He is and what He has done for us. I feel really sorry for those who miss that blessing and go through life feeling lost, abandoned, and empty. I am reminded daily to pray for those who don't know Christ in a personal way. So in the midst of work issues, an accident, personal attacks(sometimes feels constant) and feeling yuck from too much consumption of things I don't consider real food anymore I refocus on the perfect light in my life Jesus. He was there this morning in the falling flower petals, in the fog that covered all of the business of people and He is the word that comforts my soul. Circumstances are in flux, the world whizzes around you and everyone has a personal perspective that can cause conflict and pain. It is comforting to know that God never changes His mind or His promises. This year I think my theme song is "Turn your eyes upon Jesus". I am reminded often to refocus back to Jesus. 
Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dreaming like Thoreau

Sometimes when life gets a bit crazy I tend to dream a little more. Those who know me know I have a secret(ok, not so secret) wish to live like Heidi! Yep, high in the mountains, in a little cabin, feeding the animals, eating fresh cheese, drinking raw milk, and singing to the birds and bees. Ok, maybe not the singing part. The whole idea of living simple and being debt free is so appealing to me that my dreams almost always go there. Here are a few of my favorite sites if you want to dream of having your own little cottage or cabin in the woods too. Maybe you need ideas for in-law quarters or for a college age child.
Tumbleweed Houses
 Tiny House Blog
Sheldon Designs

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cherish every moment

This post isn't really profound or greatly informational but it is a reminder to enjoy all that God has blessed you with in your life. Still reading the book "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are" by Ann Voskamp... have been trying to finish it for months and I am having a hard time picking it back up. I find it an emotional read and I don't like to cry. But I did make it to the part where she starts to write down 1000 things she is grateful for. Now that is something we can all do and the lists will all look very different. Why don't you start today! Here are a few photos of somethings I am truly grateful for in my life.
Moments to enjoy God's creation together

colorful food

farm fresh eggs in many colors

for a husband who shares in my dreams

family adventures
For my beautiful children

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Doing little by little to get a job done...

So as the rhythm of life flows different seasons hold different work. Homeschooling is one of those that we try to do different tasks throughout the school year so the load is spread out. That concept can be applied to many areas of life. The one task for homeschooling that we do this with is their portfolios. Our state requires it and our school district wants to see it every year. So we start at the beginning of the year setting up their binders, making dividers and adding their first samples. As the year goes on we can pull a few samples to add so by the end of the year we have a nearly completed portfolio. This would be great to use with a journal you build over time or an area you are learning about that will grow as you gather information. We have used this idea to set-up pretty binders(clear pocket binders that we add scrapbook paper to) to collect patterns, recipes, herbal information sheets, craft instructions and ideas. Spreading the work out over the year(or years) makes a task more doable. has some wonderful downloads to make your job easier for homeschooling. If you join their Treasury you get beautiful dividers, themed notebook pages for history, geography, nature study, art, composers, science, etc. A wealth of work already done at your fingertips. They also have a a lot of freebies to check out if you have never used their pages before.
"Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world." - Joel Barker

Monday, March 28, 2011


Homemaking is the most honorable profession in the world.
A place of beauty, rest and comfort
A place of security, peace and protection
A place for learning and instruction
But it is not to be taken for granted... it takes diligence, persistence and consistency to build a home.
With the foundation of the solid rock of Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring cleanout

Ah, the air is warming, the sun shines more, the smell of things turning green, SPRING! I find this the best time to clean out everything. My closets, my herbs, old seeds, my pantry, the cobwebs hanging in my living room, the bathroom, etc. This is a great time to take a weekend to clean out all those expired products. I make my family a full breakfast and then we get to work checking labels and cleaning out anything we know we won't use or that looks funny. If it is natural we empty, rinse, and recycle.
Herbs... well I try to only buy what I think I will use in a year. Leaves and flowers are really most potent their first year. Roots and bark are good for two to three years. Tinctures made and kept in a cool place can keep for many years. I store my herbs in tightly lidded glass jars away from direct sunlight. If I purchased them for a blend then I make sure I mix it up and label it well as soon I get them. Make sure you date anything you make at home... even culinary herbs. A helpful tip that I am finding invaluable is to write recipes for items I know I use often on index cards or recipe cards, laminate them, and put on a ring. This way I don't have to go searching through a bunch of books for the recipes that really worked for our family. The same can go for food recipes, culinary mixes you like, cleaning supplies, beauty recipes, crafts directions, cleaning lists, stain removal ideas, anything with a shorter list that needs to be kept on hand. I find it saves a lot of time.
Happy Spring cleaning!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Are you a slave to your stuff?

I often think of Jesus and His time here in an earthly body. It was simple. Sandals, clothes, friends, family, shared home and food... simple but wonderful. He has me in a bit of a different place... but am I not supposed to still look to Him for HOW I should live. I have been asking Him what do I need to fulfill the plan in which He has me and not the latest magazine or tv show to tell me.
After cleaning out stuff more than once... like pealing back an onion I still find things in my home that I am not sure why I still keep them. This may not be the case for you.. obviously the Lord is doing a work in me that I am aware of at this time in my life. I know He has the bigger plan. But really; I think everyone can look at their stuff and ask themselves "do I really need this in my home?" When you own an item it needs to be maintained, cleaned, take up some space in your home, and hopefully used. After a while though if you feel like your things are closing in on you, you don't have a place for everything you have kept, or you make comments like "I may need it someday" then maybe you need to start to let go to. Are you a slave to your possessions? I like the quote below. I try to keep that in mind every time I clean a room.
”Have nothing in your house that you do not 
know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.“ 
William Morris
The Lord's response to me is- you need love, patience, kindness, joy, peace, consistency, fellowship... you need to nourish your children with good food, warm clothes, and a safe place to sleep and play, teach them all day, train them up in My Word! So as you can see from that list that not many of the items are actual things after all. 
Here are some things we do to keep stuff under control in our nest-

  • All items must fit in the room in which we use them and that includes toys which must fit in their rooms and have a home to go back to after they are done playing with them
  • Most homeschool books are only purchased if they will be used for many years, with multiple children, and used for many weeks... we try to get other books at the library
  • We try to use the rule if something comes in then something must go out
  • Remember just because society says you have to own an item doesn't mean you have to listen... I know some folks that don't own a tv, a microwave, or a dishwasher and are just fine without them
We are a family of 4 that live comfortably in 1000 sq. ft. home with a basement. In that space we make meals, create, learn, play, rest and flourish. 

If you need a little focus(not to clutter space with more books) the book From Clutter to Clarity by Nancy Twigg or check her out at

This book helps you to refocus on Christ and not on stuff or bad attitudes. 
Blessings from my nest to yours

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A good Irish-american tradition

Is there anything you only cook once a year but it is so good you are not sure why you save it for a once a year feast??? That meal for us is corned beef and cabbage with a side of traditional soda bread. Celebrating St Patrick's Day is really an Irish-american thing. Next year I hope to cure my own beef using this site.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!(tomorrow)
1-4 pound or so corned beef, 5 carrots cut in rounds, 5 potatoes cut in chunks, 1 medium onion chopped, 1/2 cabbage chopped, salt/pepper, and some water to cover half way. Add meat to crock pot. Then add carrots, potatoes, onion, salt/pepper, and last top with cabbage. Cook on low most of the day. Traditional soda bread and/or brown bread can be found here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beautiful dirt

I think of connecting with God's creation as a spiritual experience. I get excited when spring comes and I can get in the garden to plant those first seeds. After what seems to be a long winter... and I love winter; you start to see the hope in the green shoots springing up from the ground. Beautiful colors are not too far behind. What is the best though is to see the earthworms a plenty in the vegetable garden.

This year we amended the soil with compost, peat moss, and vermiculite. Last year we had dumped the compost into the garden and it took almost a year to break down which affected the poor plants we tried to plant in it too soon. So today according to the farmer's almanac is the perfect day to plant some peas! So we are putting in peas, spring onions, and broccoli. We are in zone 6b.
Some helpful sites for planting your garden-
Growveg planner
Square foot gardening
Farmer's Almanac

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring a season of hope and renewal

Psalm 23      A Psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness  For His name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;  For You are with me;  Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;  And I will dwell in the house of the LORD  Forever.

A lamb from last spring at Shepherd Valley Farm