Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Whole Foods Way

(time sensitive sale today and tomorrow- there is a wonderful whole foods living ebooks on sale with some great extras to get you started... I purchased it and am very happy with the goodies(salt and sour starter) and the books)

FYI- there are many links in this post so please hover over with your mouse to be able to see the highlighted items that you can click on for links.
    So as we wait for the calendar to clear a little to have a fall/winter potluck I will share some info here.  So my tips for making some great cold weather foods and remedies.
    First lets look at what is in season because when you are eating for nutrition with whole foods you want to be eating what is the best in season.
 Right now that is:
brussels sprouts
winter greens-kale, collards, mizuna, arugula, lettuces, swiss chard, mache
Rutabaga, carrots, celeriac root(my new favorite veg) and red onion
pumpkin and winter squashes
parsnips, turnips, and rutabagas
sweet potatoes and potatoes
dried beans

Notice everything on the list except citrus can be grown here in our northeast climate. So if we look at this list and we are already whole foods eaters we can see what recipes would work for those ingredients. Also a note on nutrition- these are the foods we should be eating in this season that give us the nutrition we need for this time of year. I don't buy fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, or strawberries in winter. I do have some frozen/canned tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers(pickles) and strawberries(for smoothies) though, that were made when they were in season.

Some of my favorite recipes are:
Roasted vegetables( I have cut up carrots, beets, parsnips, cauliflower, broccoli, squash like Delicata, potatoes, sweet potatoes, baby turnips and brussels sprouts or any combination of the above, then mixed with a splash of walnut oil and some rosemary or parsley, roasted on stoneware or cookie sheet with an edge at 400 degrees for almost an hour, check after 45 minutes. You are looking for browned edges but not burnt)
Winter Squash or Pumpkin bisque- Roast squash and/or pumpkin in oven till tender and blend in a pot with immersion blender or in regular blender. Combine 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth with pumpkin. Saute 1 chopped onion and 1/2c. celery in some butter till it is just starting to brown and add to broth mix. Add some chopped potatoes, sea salt, pepper, 1/2 t. thyme, and 1/2 t rosemary. Heat on medium till potatoes are done. Add 1 cup cream if you want a creamy traditional bisque. I have also served this with a dollop of sour cream sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. I have served this with a side salad and fresh bread with butter.
Apple-Walnut Salad with vinaigrette-here
Meat Pies like Shepherd's Pie(made with lamb), Cottage Pie(made with beef), Steak and Guinness Pie, Chicken Pie(I mix leftover roasted veggies with leftover meat and this homemade cream soup and top with my favorite pie crust), etc.

Soups/stews- White Chicken Chili, regular Chili, Beef Stew, Lamb Stew, Lentil Soup, Turkey Wild Rice(non-dairy), Italian Vegetable Soup, Chicken Noodle, Clam Chowder and Garden Chowder. 
    For soups and meat pies you NEED a good homemade broth. My favorite chicken one is here and beef one here. I make these up ahead of time. Each recipe I make about 4 quarts and freeze them in wide mouth mason jars... leave head room. Then I thaw in fridge over night or on counter in the morning. NEVER put in hot water because it may break the glass.
Chicken broth
Lentil Stew

    Some recipes I want to try-
Raw Carrot Beet Salad-here
Cheesy Stuffed Pumpkin-here

    Soups or meat pies served with a winter salad that contains pears or apples with a nut or seed make for a yummy lunch or dinner. The soups are warm and filling and the salads give us that crunch we miss of summer but with winter fruits. So my challenge to you is look at what is in season only and add that to your soups, stew and salads. It is cheaper in season and loaded with more nutrition. When you can find it local it hasn't traveled as far and it is usually picked ripe making it better for you and tastes better.
    So how do I get my kids to eat all this.... get them involved in the kitchen, have them taste individual ingredients, don't give them bad choices and find great recipes. I don't buy a lot of processed foods so there is no choice in our house. Yes, this did take a while to transition but we learned real quick what simple things to have on hand. We keep a stock of carrots to munch, popcorn, homemade trail mix or Lara bars(homemade), raw cheese, Real sour dough bread(with homemade jam, fresh ground peanut butter, almond butter or butter), naturally brined olives, apple sauce, fruit, nuts and dried fruit.
    We typically eat one or two heavy meat meals like a roast or roast chicken in a week. Then the small amount I have left over(key is YOU fill their plates and put the rest away) gets put into soup or meat pie. The roasted meat tastes wonderful in these other meals. A tip-you can give soups and stews added flavor by sauteing onions, garlic, and celery in some butter till slightly browned before adding them. If we ate more like peasants with meat being a flavoring we would be healthier for it.
    Now I know this gets a bit more challenging if you have very active kids, really picky eaters or are in the transition stages(remember processed foods makes us more hungry because we are not getting the nutrition we need.) As a christian I tell my kids that we are eating to LIVE not living to EAT and this in the temple so lets take care of it. That doesn't mean we don't make healthy treats like the Best Brownies ever or a homemade fruit pie with some local ice cream but these are once a week not everyday.

    Some sites that you might find fun and inspiring:
The Stone Soup- love the simple easy recipes with a short ingredient list
Honest Fare- again simple recipes with seasonal ingredients... so yummy
Smitten Kitchen- again real ingredients with yummy food
Nourishing Days- real food and gluten free
Gnowfglins- lots of info

I hope this helps you and your family on this whole foods way of eating. One step at a time and a focus of better nutrition is all you need. God bless.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rhythm of a homemaker

 Sometimes as spiritual creatures on this human journey we tend to forget that the world around us though it seems like chaos has a pattern to it; a rhythm if you will. Sometimes in our daily lives we can feel it and it comforts us and other times the rhythm is not seen because it is to far away(like a weekly rhythm instead of daily.) I think that puts us off balance a bit. I do much better when the day flows. Now you may say how boring but trust me when I tell you I like to be spontaneous and would have done just fine as a traveling gypsy. Just as in nature the day unfolds itself for you if you are watching. As my husband says we have a short list of things that need to get done by a certain time but really many days the work that needs to be done reveals itself.
    Why do we want rhythm?
I love reading about monks and their daily practices... very ritual and simple. When we start to make good habits they are a positive daily ritual. They become part of who we are, where God has us planted at this moment in this season. If we have good habits they nourish us just like when He tells us to hide His word in our hearts. We have to read it over and over in order to memorize it. I didn't realize this until we had moved. At our old home I had a organized system, habits, daily routines that were comforting. You don't realize how comforting they are until they are not there. My first week here I panicked because I felt like I was on vacation but would have no where to return to. It would have been easy if all I owned was in a backpack that I could take anywhere. All in my little world would stay the same while I lived in the world around me(I purposefully do this when we go camping... par down to my most important items to function). So when we moved to such a different lifestyle the seasons now mean so much more.... the day set itself up for me with how things unroll with the day. The feeding of animals, picking of nuts or fruit, our homeschool, feeding of my family, the sweeping of the kitchen floor daily, etc.
    How do we get this rhythm?
I think I really started to see the connections when I started to garden but it then really stuck when we started eating only in season. After a few years you feel the rhythm of seasons. Then as you put some of these treasures away for winter you start to feel the rhythm of the months. Then as we remove clutter from our lives to be present in the daily doings we feel the rhythm of the day. I don't often plan menus because the food tells me what I am cooking that week. I have simple recipes that can be modified with what ingredients are on hand(I will share them in a future post). Simplifying life comes naturally and not something you have to read about in a book or on a blog. Cleaning took some work for me to make that more of a habit but my chores started to fall on certain days of the week and I went with that.
    Why do we long for simplicity(rhythm)?
Because we ARE spiritual beings in these temporary human bodies. I have found that in season foods are not just comforting but also nourishing with the right nutrients that we need for that season and that climate in which we live. If you lived in a different climate you would have different in season food that would do the same. Example: in a PA summer we have a lot of heavy water fruits in the hottest months that help us replenish what we have lost in sweating. As the seasons change our bodies adjust... like feeling more of a sense of hibernating under a warm quilt in winter or staying up later to look at the stars and fireflies in summer. Now this rhythm is not to just make our day easier for us but it also builds memories. Somewhere along the way as a young person I started to long for something and didn't know why or what until I moved in with my grandparents. They knew the value of this rhythm. We created in different seasons, planted, harvested, cooked and preserved in their right times. After years the memories were such a part of me as I will never forget them. Picking peaches and apples with my grandfather and cooking seasonal meals with my grandmother. These memories did not happen with great fanfare or with a heavy price but became something I so looked forward to each year. Warm and comforting. As I listened to stories my grandparents told about how life was for my great-grandparents it occurred to me that they didn't have modern technology or lots of books but they were taught how to do most of what they did by their parents in their daily lives without much struggle in the learning. When I see woman who live almost effortlessly with homeschooling, cleaning, gardening, canning, sewing, etc. whatever it is they are doing most times it is because they were taught by their mother or grandmother. For us these days if we weren't brought up that way it becomes harder to make these daily things a habit until we have done them for years.
    What is rhythm?
I guess it seems funny to put this last but I wanted you to think about it along the way and then I would make the statement to sum it up. Rhythm is living deliberately feeding the habits that help us to accomplish the tasks that we have before us in this season of our lives. A comfort, a inner awareness of what comes next in the day. It is good for the soul, the memories made, the children, the day.
    You will have days when God is growing you and things will feel chaotic but I promise you that these days of rhythm will help you to weather them much better.

Deuteronomy 6:7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Oh, I could go on here but I will leave you with one last thought for now.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Some sites I find fun and helpful:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Herbal Remedies

    One of my previous posts was a list of things to do for fall/winter. On that list I had that we would make our families remedies; so here are somethings we have done so far. In the background you can see Herbal Vaccine and Children's Composition cooling. In the front I have started gathering my ingredients for the Cold Kicker AKA Fire Water(no actual water in it). Just an FYI about the Cold Kicker.... make sure you use gloves! We also started some tinctures for Blackberry Leaf, Hawthorne Berry, Yellow Dock, Milk Thistle and this weekend some Black Walnut Hull. I should have started all of these in August but time just got away from me. We choose these remedies because they seem to cover many areas that we deal with over the year. You may have other issues you deal with in your family so you may be drawn to totally different remedies. Some good sources for education are Learning Herbs, More than Alive(has a wonderful free ebook), Mountain Rose Herbs blog and for a more in depth study you could sign-up for the Family Herbalist course through Vintage Remedies(where I am currently a student.) For supplies if you don't grow or forage them for yourself, go to Mountain Rose Herbs, Bulk Herb Store or More than Alive. These are the suppliers I trust for quality and price.
    As we settle in to this new home and land we will forage for more food and medicine. I will share as we learn what plants we are finding and how we are using them. We live in a valley in PA so it may be different from where you are but maybe you can gleam some info from it. We know we already have lots of stinging nettle, jewel weed and burdock. In the past they planted comfrey, grapes, horseradish, some nut trees, and raspberries. It has been fun finding out what we have here and dreaming about what we will plant. I love perennials so I plan on putting in lots of perennial plants, vegetables and fruit.

Make sure to label anything you create with the herb, alcohol or glycerine and the date you did it. 

The Cold Kicker brewing on my counter.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Accidental Canner

Vegetables from the fridge that needed to be dealt with

our new "older" chickens

Our first unbroken eggs

"Souper Mix" with beets

Becoming sauce

    So I find sometimes I feel like the accidental canner. Friends will say how do you have time to can and sometimes I really don't but when you need to prepare for winter and have all this extra produce taking up spacing and starting to go bad because we can't use it fast enough then it is time to can whether I have time or not. Canning is a commitment and sometimes you don't always feel like doing it. It is one of the most satisfying tasks I do though. Seeing all those jars lined up makes me very happy. As we perfect our recipes over the years we know they are yummy and worth waiting till winter to enjoy them. I find when I am in this situation that unloading the fridge, lining up the baskets, and spreading it all out before me is the best way to see what and how much I am dealing with. A few things we always like to can like tomato sauce and pickles get done when we have a huge amount of produce. We do have one crock pot full of sauce cooking as I write this and I may have enough to do two more pots worth. I will get maybe 9-10 quarts of sauce from that. We will do apple sauce and pie filling that way as well. At the moment there is no exhaust in my kitchen which makes canning on humid or hot days not very nice. So until we either put in an exhaust fan or make an outdoor processing kitchen(this is the way we will go in the future so we can process meat as well.)
    So this year so far we have canned 6 jars pesto, 5 jars "Souper Mix"(with beets and red peppers), 3 quarts beef stock, 6 quarts beans, and 6 quarts chopped tomatoes. Nothing to brag about but not bad for getting settled into our old farmhouse. At the moment I am waiting for the basement cement to finish curing so we can set-up our shelves for canned items and winter produce. Today we will can Onion and Maple Conserve and tomorrow Pecan Apple Conserve. These are small batch items that need only a few minutes to process.
    We are also enjoying the beautiful chickens friends have given to us this past week. They are older girls but a few are still laying. I like that they eat my kitchen scraps and produce manure for my garden.... something it is going to need a lot of next year.
    Lastly if you find yourself with way to many zucchini or summer squash this year you can puree it to use in meat loaf, zucchini bread or chocolate cup cakes. We also found this recipe is a new favorite.

Zucchini Parmesan Bake
2 lbs. ground meat (we use lamb or beef)
2 T. butter and 2T. olive oil
1 cup sliced onions
3 garlic cloves crushed
italian seasoning
1 zucchini, 1 summer squash and 2-3 potatoes all sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 c. parmesan cheese
In a skillet sauté butter, olive oil, onions and garlic till just starting to brown. Spread those out in bottom of pan. Brown ground meat in pan without cleaning it out. Then add to onion/garlic mix in baking dish, sprinkle generously with italian seasoning and mix together. Layer the sliced zucchini, potato and squash on top of meat mixture. Sprinkle top with more italian seasoning and parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes covered and 30 minutes uncovered. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A New Adventure

    Sorry for my absence but life has just got the best of me. We spent most of the month of May signing agreements to sell our home and buy another. We also were house sitting for 3 weeks and starting to pack our belongings. All of June was spent packing and starting to move our belongings to storage. We are supposed to be moving into our new home(1850's farmhouse) on July 7th. I thought I would give you a post to update you before I pack my computer up for a few weeks.
Please stay tuned for tales of goats, pigs, puppies, chickens, gardens, etc. while we start our farm adventure next month.
Here is a sneak peak at the start of our adventure... our 2 new puppies Finn and Willow; Weimaraner puppies.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot

It is no secret that I enjoy getting rid of stuff... to the point I am surprised my friends still love me. I think I have taught them how to saw 'NO' (refuse)better then they ever knew before. I monthly reevaluate my STUFF to see if there is anything left to get rid of before we move(someone will eventually buy our house, right?). I live in a 1100 sq ft home so managing 4 people and their stuff makes living small work. No I am not moving to a bigger house just bigger land so we can be less consumers and more producers... that is a story for another time. We love our little house and would move it to a larger piece of land if it were cost effective. The past 20 years I have really thought long and hard about the possessions I have owned... or did they own me? I have moved over 17 times in my life and after awhile you start to ask yourself why you even bothered to pack certain things instead of getting rid of them. Watch this little video on STUFF and leave me a comment of what your thoughts are.
Some things I started doing to help close the loops:

  • I started looking at how happy the people were in the photos from friends who had gone on mission trips... the folks weren't happy because they had STUFF... they were happy to have Jesus, food, a place to sleep, family, friends...etc.
  • I seriously think about how I am voting with my dollars and do I really need to buy it at all(reduce)
  • Repurposing stuff I already have.... like turning old sweaters into hats, gloves, and scarves(my favorite scarf from my favorite old sweater), old t-shirts into rugs, milk jugs into mini greenhouses, containers into storage for leftovers, etc.(reuse)
  • Recycle computers, cell phones, any packaging I can... boxes, glass, plastic(recycle)
  • My son has a worm farm in the basement that helps to turn some of our kitchen waste into dirt(rot)
  • Before I buy a packaged item I try to think how I can keep it out of the trash after I have only spent a few minutes consuming it... hum.
  • Buy used items and take care of them so they continue to be passed around or sold till they wear out. My favorite items to buy used are books, clothes, and my car(we figured by buying brand new you loose about $5,000 in a 5-10 year period... over your lifetime that is a lot of money saved)
  • Buy quality useful items from local crafts people that could then be passed down to others(I love my wooden spoons!)
  • Make what you can homemade and store the homemade items in glass or plastic jars you have recycled. We make tooth powder, deodorant, cleaning supplies, soup mixes, canned food, blankets, a few clothes items, bread, etc.
  • Buy in bulk the food items you use most
  • Buy local foods and take your own container(our local bulk store will refill my peanut butter jar with fresh ground butter)
  • Lastly... when you pick an item up think about it's function... can you do that function with an item you already have in your home... I don't know about you but I love items that can be used 10 different ways so it not only saves me space but saves me money
If you still need some inspiration take a look at this family that are close to ZERO waste. It is impressive. It is where I got the inspiration to write this post.
My favorite scarf from my favorite old sweater

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Our pantry

Spice drawer
Our pantry at the moment till we move and canning season kicks into high gear... we will need to get a few more shelves for canned items.

I have been working on our family pantry for years trying to get it to the quantity and quality for our families eating habits. It is no secret that I do not like to go to the grocery store so buying in bulk reduces the trips. It is something you have to work your way up to because I don't know to many people who can go buy all the jars and items to fill them all at once. I started with the bagged items from our local bulk store. As we changed our eating habits to a more traditional diet I started to see seasonal eating habits that helped me to figure out quantities of bulk dry items such as rice, beans, lentils and oats. I knew if the recipes changed slightly over the years I would still want to get a certain amount of healthy ingredients into my family of four. Over the years we added pastured meat, raw dairy products, more herbs, more home canned items, etc. Goal for this year is to replace all store bought condiments with homemade ones, start sour dough and more canning of seasonal foods. Also want to add a clipboard with food inventory sheets to the side of the shelves/freezer, make a snack basket with homemade items like bars, fruit leathers, crispy nuts, granola, popcorn, jerky and sesame sticks so we have take along snacks handy for walks/hikes. I also want to laminate my formula cooking recipe cards(I will share in another post in April) and put them on rings so they are easy to find. Don't get me wrong I love my cookbooks but sometimes you need a formula so you can add what you have on hand to make a meal instead of trying to find exact ingredients.

So what exactly is in my pantry...

rice(Jasmine, Basmati, wild, etc.)
rolled oats
quinoa(red and regular)
high quality pasta
dried corn
lentils(different kinds)
beans(cannellini, kidney, black and fava)
slit peas

nuts(walnuts, pecans, hazel, almonds)
seeds(sesame, flax, hemp, sunflower, pumpkin)
dried fruits(cranberries, blueberries, apricots, raisins, apples, coconut flakes and lots of dates)

Oils(extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, walnut oil and lard)
vinegars(apple cider, balsamic, and rice)
Condiments(ketchup, BBQ sauce, chili paste, tamari, mustard, relish, sauerkraut, mayo, worcestershire sauce, pickles, diced chilies, and artichoke hearts)
sweeteners(honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, raw sugar, stevia and Rapadura)

Other dried and canned items
tomato paste and tomato sauce
canned fish
cocoa powder
jams and nut butters
baking soda and powder
dried vegetable mix
sprouted flour and gluten free mix

garlic powder, parsley, sea salt, pepper, cinnamon(powder and sticks), nutmeg, cloves, paprika, celery flakes/seeds, ginger powder, cilantro, cumin, chives, caraway, sage, thyme, oregano, basil, mustard, bay, rosemary, lavender, coriander
Mixes I make up- italian, mexican, chili powder, Herbs de Provence, pickling spice and few others from MaryJane's Farm book Outpost
extracts- vanilla, peppermint and almond

I also keep white vinegar for making homemade cleaning supplies(I will share in another post), some paper towels, toilet paper, batteries, etc.

assorted cuts from a 1/4 steer, whole lamb, chickens, venison, 1/2 pig, freezer jam, cream, assorted vegetables and fruit
I keep jars above my sink on a shelf of most frequently used items.
I also keep a supply of medicinal herbs that I use most often in my kitchen. 
Do you have any pantry tips, items you would add or storage ideas? Please share.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Taking care of wooden kitchen tools

This week I decided as I was cleaning out the pantry and organizing everything that I should also clean my wooden spoons. Something like at the end of summer gardening you clean and oil your tools to help them last a long time. Well I had never done this before because I never researched what to clean and oil my wooden tools with other then petroleum products. Since I have a nice collection of wooden tools some of which I spent a nice sum of money on to support local crafters I decided at the end of a hard winters use I should refresh them to help them last a long time... but with what? So after some research I found that a simple oil and beeswax paste would be the best thing to use. You can make your own or buy something already made up. I didn't realize how beneficial this little task would end up being. I took a cloth put a little paste on it and started to rub all over my lovely wooden tools. I then set them on the table to dry and absorb all that bee goodness. After part of the afternoon passed I wiped them down a bit and put them back in my wooden tool crock and back to their place on my counter. Later I decided to mix up some bread to soak overnight. I always use a wooden spoon to incorporate everything and boy was I surprised how easy that spoon came clean. The bread I am making gets pretty shaggy and makes it hard to clean my spoon. I don't like to soak my spoons so it takes some scrubbing to get it clean.... but not anymore. So go spend a little quiet time waxing your lovely cherished wooden tools so they keep on doing their job or get the kids to help. After I was all done with the task I rubbed the bee goodness that was left on my fingers into my hands... gotta love multi-purpose products.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Spring really brings out in me the need to reorganize and clean-out. So as I reorganize my pantry, freezer, fabric stash, herbs, etc.  Today though my encouragement is to get on over to The Stone Soup website and sign-up for a cooking class. I am taking the one on Master Meal Plan and it is the best and easiest meal plan ever. Also click around to see her recipes and try a new one this week. So far we are enjoying them. I love the 5 ingredients recipes too.
I am also enjoying the virtual cork boards if you will of Being a visual person I need these ideas to keep me going. So please share in comments.... have you caught the spring clean-out bug yet? What areas are you working on organizing?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Herbal Inventory

 Tis the time for some spring cleaning and inventory of what is on the pantry shelves. My pantry is in my basement because I don't have a kitchen large enough to handle all my pantry items. So I started with my herbs for making teas, remedies and balms.
So what I typically keep on hand are:
Astragalus/Burdock/Dandelion roots to add to bone broth
Chamomile(we use this for pink eye and bladder infections)
Calendula/St. John's Wort/Plantain/Comfrey(for salve)
Children's Composition(from for glycerite
Rose Hips
Lemon Balm
Nettle Leaf
Red Raspberry
Echinacea root
Red Clover
Elder flower/berry(for Elder flower tea and Elder berry syrup)
Slippery Elm
Myrrh powder
Beeswax/Shea Butter/Olive Oil/coconut oil/assorted essential oils
Most of my supplies if I don't grow them myself come from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Remember I am not a medical doctor so this is for educational purposes only and not meant as information to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
I keep my roots, bark, and berries for 3-4 years and leaves/flowers for 1-3 years. We make salves, chest balm, lip balm, toothpowder, deodorant, hard lotion bars, teas, glycerites, tinctures, lozenges, poultices, infusions, and cough syrup. Sometime this year we will try our hand at face lotion, flower waters, and soap making.
My favorite beginners site is where they offer free ecourses, a newsletter, and kits to get started. My kids also love their board game about herbs. If you want more in depth studies try the link on my page to Vintage Remedies School. Try your hand at a recipe from one of the links above or try growing a few new herbs in your garden this summer. In a later post I will share my plans for a new medicinal herb garden that I hope to plant this summer. Growing and using herbs has been such a joy for me and my family that I have a hard time not sharing it with others. I hope you find something in this post that is helpful... let me know in the comments.

Making herbal chest rub. If your wondering about the wooden tool it is called a spurtle that I use just for stirring things I make with beeswax. 

Finished chest rub.

Making sniff jars for Christmas presents.

Homemade tooth powder and deodorant.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pumpkin Pie, Bird Count and Creative Pursuits, oh my!

I haven't been posting much because I feel like time is standing still these days. Waiting for someone to love our home enough to buy it. In the mean time I was craving homemade pumpkin pie. So even though we are trying to keep the kitchen spotless for visitors at any moment I had to whip one up last night. 
Maple Pumpkin Pie
One pie crust, set oven to 350. 
Mix up 2 eggs, 1/3 c. cream, 1/2 c. maple syrup, 15oz pumpkin canned or  fresh, 1 T. pumpkin pie spice and pour in shell. Bake 60 minutes. 

LET COOL before you put your whipped cream on top...... mine melted because I just couldn't wait, YUM! I am glad my grandma taught me to make pies... I know it is a comfort thing but I am ready to burst at the creative seams I tell ya. This keeping my house perfect is killing me. I am a creative person and I am just antsy to get working on a project. This weekend I think I may need to break out the sewing machine for a little creative pursuits. I have three quilts that I am dying to work on. So I do believe after we return from enjoying God's creation at the Great Backyard Bird count at Nolde Forest I will begin sewing up something pretty. That should carry me through till next week. 
Check out the link for counting birds this weekend and go make something to share with your loved ones. Share with us too... send me a picture of something you made or a photo of God's beautiful creation or a post that I can share with others.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Our Nature Display

This past week I heard myself saying to the children "when we move we can do that"; well after a few days of that I stopped  myself and said WHY wait. Sure we have to clean-up and declutter so we can put our home on the market this week but that doesn't mean we stop living. I kept admiring the nature tables on some other homeschool mommy sites and also thought that "when we move we'll do that"... no we can do it right now. So I packed up the bone China that my Dad had brought back with him from travels East while in the Navy and made the middle shelf of my library case a nature display. Most of the items we don't want handled anyway so this is a great place to display them and enjoy them. Funny thing is the children know which items are fragile and are so careful with them because they found some of them and know you don't see some of those items often... it is some of the adults in our life that don't know the value of these found treasures that want to touch to much. In these cold snowless days of winter we needed a little inspiration from God's creation. 

Nature study happens on and off for us depending on the weather. We have explored our backyard for years and to go somewhere else we pretty much have to drive and make it a field trip of sorts. If it is a 12 degree day then we just as soon stay in to enjoy our nature display until a warmer day or snowy day comes along. Now that is one thing that will change "when we move" because we will have animals to take care of and experience a bit more outside even when it is so cold. One of my favorite places to learn about studying nature and journaling it is The Handbook of Nature Study site. They have wonderful journal/notebook sheets to guide you through your studies and the seasons. Also to help my children actually get excited to explore nature and to understand more of what they are seeing we love the Nature Reader Series by Christian Liberty Press. We have been reading about wasps and spiders and can't wait till we can see them again to decide what kind they are. I feel these books also help the children to be engaged long enough to really watch and learn about the animals/insects in God's creation when they know what to look for.  I do know if we move to the home we are trying to purchase then we will have more to explore for years to come without having to drive to get there. So go dig out your found treasures and make an area to enjoy them or if you brave the cold you can out in your own backyard to see what creatures and plants are still awake on these cold winter days. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Homeschooling a more natural way

Homeschooling is an adventure not for the faint of heart. It will stretch and grow you like nothing else will. I do believe God in all His wisdom had this teaching thing all figured out. It definitely keeps the teacher humble, grow in patience and to be more like Him as we watch our children over years blossom as He watches us do the same. After watching the "Back to Eden" dvd about gardening and really listening to how God gardens. He does it with time and consistency... makes me think we do just the same when we raise our children.
 This year we chose not to attend a wonderful homeschool co-op that we had previously attended for 8 years. With that came some challenges that I did not expect. My kids gravitated to their natural way of learning. I fought it for years so we could conform and attend the co-op except when we would go on vacation we would learn and explore. Now not bound by that they are asking to do school a different way(really this is effecting history and science.) Every vacation we have is filled with history hands-on and nature discovery... so we now are making our way to a more Charlotte Mason way of schooling. So instead of using bits and pieces of both a classical curriculum and Charlotte Mason resources we will focus on more of the latter.

We also love timelines and have used different ones. Emma likes the Homeschool School in the Woods timeline but Gavin likes the one here at Hold that Thought(I have posted an offer below from their site) This week as I sort through my books I will share more great sites that we have found useful.

"Receive a FREE CD with your order! If you post this offer on your homeschooling blog or tell at least 2 other homeschoolers about us we will send you a free CD. We have decided that instead of spending money on advertising we will reward you for promoting our products instead. When you order a CD from us, all you have to do when you are checking out is write the name of the CD you would like us to send you free of charge in the “comment” section (it needs to be at least the same price or less than the CD you are purchasing)."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Back to Eden

Wow, I love how God changes your perspective in a short time and redirects your thoughts back to Him. No matter what I will never look at gardening the same way again after watching this video. I have either had or have helped in the garden since I was very small. My mother had a very large garden that we ate from and stored for winter months. Since accepting Christ as my saviour I have seen my faith interwoven in all that I do and not just another part of my life. Gardening is no exception. But until I watched this film did I not understand how much more my faith SHOULD be a part of everything I do. WOW. You can watch the 1 hour 43 minute movie online if you have a good connection or buy the DVD. I will be buying the DVD even though I already watched it... it needs to be shared with everyone but especially those who garden. If God chooses to bless us with more land in the near future where we can share on a larger scale this kind of gardening then dare I say we might have found how we can connect in ministry with others. That is not to say you can't use God's way of gardening anywhere you live and no matter how little you have. Watch the trailer (link below)and let me know what you think.
Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

So it is a new year full of possibilities. No matter what happens this year keep your eyes on Jesus and keep your mind on today. We must live today fully right where we are. Hug the ones we love, nourish them, teach by example and cherish every moment God gives us.... even when it is hard. It is always hard to just leave "it" in God's hands when we just want to make things happen ourselves. Take a deep breath and know that He has it all taken care of already.
"Sometimes you don't know you're taking the first step through a door- until you're already inside." from A Holy Experience.
I find this site so wonderful that I am sharing it on a tag on my blog. Even if you just go to Ann Voskamp's site for the music it is wonderfully encouraging.
Happy New Year!