One Flourishing, Frugal and Fun Family!

One mother making ends meet and surviving today's recession by writing. One family learning to live off the land, cut back on expenses, and to live a simpler and a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

Adopted Motto

"Eat it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or go without."
~A Pioneer Sampler, by Barbara Greenwood~

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tomatoes

Last night, I used some of my canned tomato sauce, to create a pasta dinner.  I boiled up some whole wheat pasta, and added to it, browned ground beef, onion, garlic, green and red peppers, and 6-7 fresh tomatoes.  I added home grown oregano, salt and pepper and a bit of crushed red pepper flakes.  
Some of the kids topped their dinner with grated parmesan cheese also.  This would be good with a bit of mozzarella cheese mixed in too.  After I mixed it all together, it was heated in the oven for about  30 minutes.  The only thing we lacked in this recipe, was my homemade noodles.

With all these tomatoes coming in right now, I have not had a day free enough to get my noodles made.  Hopefully, I can get them made this week.


These are just some of the tomatoes my husband and I picked last night.  I have enough roma tomatoes to make another batch of tomato sauce, and can more tomatoes.  I borrowed a book from the library and hope to get a recipe using more tomatoes in our dinner tonight.

Last year, I had red cherry tomatoes.  I used a recipe from the same book to make a bread with them.  This year I have orange cherry size tomatoes.  


I have also found a Vegetable Lasagna recipe in another cookbook.
It's an old book that I've had for years, but has good recipes in it.  I borrowed a photo of a similar one, from Amazon to show you.  The recipe for the Lasagna will utilize my garden zucchini, carrots, onions, and canned tomato sauce.  I can also utilize my farm fresh eggs and possible homemade noodles.  


Although, I have enough tomatoes today, I need to go pick whatever is ripe today also.  Rain is in the forecast, and it's already very wet in that portion of the garden.  If it rains too much, I may be at the end of my tomatoes this season.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Picture Post

Got newspaper?

Frog Pin Cushion

My 9 year-old daughter made this cute frog (felt) pin cushion last night.  Of all days, she picks a busy day, to ask for help.  I had just come home from the dentist, and was madly working away on laundry, dinner, and other things I got behind on.


This time, I told her she needed to trace the pattern, make her templates and complete the project 100% by herself.  She came to me often to ask questions, but did the entire project herself, aside from sewing on the eyes.  She had a bit of trouble and I had to help her with that.


I would not let her use my good sewing scissors, as they are extremely sharp.  She was very careful with my next best pair of scissors, and did pretty well cutting the patterns out.  She's so proud of herself, she now wants to make these (and needle holders) to sell in my handicraft store. 

Ragweed, Wild Flowers and The Mower

I've been chatting with a park district expert, in regards to the wild flowers, weeds and invasive plants on our property.  At first I thought it was fun to press some of them, but it's been more that just that.

I've not only found out we have some very interesting flowers, but some weeds that are the cause of our bad allergies.  In fact, the dork that I am, went out and pulled Common Ragweed from the goat's pen area.  I had gloves on, but after pulling two armfuls, I had to stop.  My neck broke out in welts and it had the appearance of poison ivy or oak.  My neck was read and very itchy.  However, after wiping it with a cold, wet washcloth, it disappeared.  Phew!  I woke up congested and could not smell my clothesline fresh bed sheets.  

In this one picture I took, you can see three wild flowers, and they surround one giant weed.  The Tall Ironweed in the picture is taller than me, and I'm tall.  I am pressing some of the Wingstem, and Tall Ironweed.  I have yet to pick some of the Goldenrod.  I found out that the Goldenrod we have can be invasive.  We have a ton of it.

This wild flower grows low to the ground, and I just discovered it this year, as we mowed a good portion of the back acres.  There are still many plants I need to identify.  If we are going to have cattle and a horse out there, we need to know exactly what's growing and what needs to be removed.

My husband had to replace the mower blades recently, and repaired the mower several times.  Finally, we go it working again.  The other day we were in the house, and heard a loud "POP!"  

"Uh, Mom?  Your flower vase just exploded," said one of my daughters.

It didn't take long to discover that my husband ran over a rock, that was slivered by the new mower blades, and shot it right through the screen of the window.  It hit my plant pot and broke it.  Luckily, no one was sitting in the reading chair by the window.  That's scary.  We blame the dog.  One of our dogs picks up rocks in her mouth like a stick and drops them everywhere.  We are trying to break her from this, as her teeth may get damaged too.

Those very sharp mower blades, or maybe it was his bad mower driving (he he) that destroyed one of my garden stakes.  Grrr!  He got a little too close to the garden.


Speaking of garden, I went out there last night to pick tomatoes.  I discovered my Rote Von Paris, heirloom bush bean plants had disappeared.  I stood there, looking at the last 1 inch of plant stems.  After we went through, and could not find deer tracks, we decided we have our first rabbit problem.  Ugh.  Good thing I pulled the dry beans of last week.  At least I have a few dozen for planting next year.  Bad bunnies!


And I knew that I would get the e-bee jeebies scared out of me again.  Last year it happened when I was walking through the yard in flip-flops and a black water snake slithered under me.  Last night, it happened in the garden.  With all this year's rain, we've had a lot of frogs in the tomato and pepper area of the garden.  I was picking tomatoes and reached down low on one plant.  Out slithered a snake.  I almost threw my basket of tomatoes straight into the air!  Luckily, it was a Garter snake, so I let him live.  I just told him he better leave my frogs alone and scare those rabbits off.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wild Flowers and Weeds

Over the years I have collected odd books from used book sales.  In the beginning they were placed on a shelf for homeschooling, and for my public school kids.  So far, every book has been helpful with school reports and other needs.

One book I am using a lot lately, is a book on our state wild flowers.  I've had a flower press for many years, but have not used it recently.  I got it back out after finding these wild flowers on our property.

The other day I was flipping through the pages of the book, and said, "Hey!  I know this weed.  I've seen it before."

My husband responded with, "What your mother really means to say, is that she probably fed it to you."

Ha ha ha ha ha!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cauliflower and Cabbage

I pulled 2 nice sized heads of cauliflower and 2 head of home grown cabbage.  For the first time, I canned a slaw recipe, using every vegetable ingredient from the garden.  The boiled syrup was the only thing I had to buy ingredients for.  This was a simple recipe we can't wait to taste it.  Here is the recipe:  Canned Slaw

The cauliflower was used for dinner.  We tried a pizza crust recipe I found on-line. 


It was soooooooooooo good, that my hubby took a small slice and drove it 5 miles or so to his nephew's house to share.  It's a wonderfully tasting, healthier, and low carb pizza.  Yum!  I topped ours with garden veggies and cooked organic chicken pieces.  We will be growing more cauliflower next year.  This is one vegetable that we have not been eating enough of.  Again, you have to try this recipe.  The person who created this recipe should be on Food Network. 

The recipe calls for frozen cauliflower, but I slightly cooked my home grown cauliflower, then pulsed it in my food processor vs. ricing it.  It worked out well.  

We used eggs from our own chickens, and oregano from my herb garden.  I need to plant more parsley to dry next year.

Learning to Shoot

I shot a hand gun and shot gun today, for the first time in my life.  The first gun I shot with was the shotgun.  I hit my target on the first shot (a small baking pumpkin).  I love the shot gun.  It's not as bad to shoot with as I thought it would be.  

I learned gun safety, and learn to load both types of guns myself.  They only thing I need to learn now, is how to clean both of them, and learn hunting safety.

I am so excited that I hit my target on the first shot, that I kept the shot gun shells to make into a craft.  I am working on a new craft for them, but until then, visit my S.C.R.A.P. blog to see other ideas that are already on the Internet.



Shot Gun Shell Crafts (click here to visit my other blog) 

I also kept these:
I may make earrings or another project with them.  I haven't decided.  I'm just proud of myself for asking someone to teach me about guns and gun safety.

Hawks and Barn Repairs


When I went outside to assess a barn repair, I noticed a few hawks flying low.  I had my camera with me, but I am still not good at catching a good photo of one.  I guess I keep practicing.



 Before Repairs

We not only got these repairs completed, but repaired the bottom split door hinges on the goat barn, and one gate lock.
Now we need to build the top split door and the side door for the goats, and then tackle the new coop for the barred rocks.  



My husband was driving home one day and saw this roost sitting outside on someone's property.  I guess this person also sells other used items.   My husband snatched this up for $20.00.

Today we fixed it up a bit and it's now in with the barred rocks.  As along as we have 2 roosters, they won't get along together in the same coop.  Once we get the new coop built, we can move them from their temporary (night time) coop.

More Tomatoes

Our pantry was blessed with 4 1/2 more quarts of home canned tomato sauce.  This time I did not add any of my larger tomatoes.  I used all Roma tomatoes and my kitchen smelled so good.  I use the seasoned tomato sauce recipe in the Ball canning book.

Pickled Hot Peppers

This is the recipe I used, only I did not have any serrano peppers.  I simply used thick cuts of banana pepper and one cut jalapeno pepper to each jar.  We have not tasted them yet, but hot to in a week.  We like to let it sit and allow all the flavors to permeate for a few days before opening one and tasting. 

Note:  We took one reviewer's tip, and added the peppers to the jars first, then added the boiled liquid into the jars.  Hubby may be trying these today even though it's only been about 2 days.  I'll update you on the flavor.

UPDATE: These had a good warm flavor with the jalapeno in the jars.  They are soft, not like crispy cucumber pickles.  They are good alone, or added to other recipes or sauces for flavor.  I definitely would add the peppers to the jar first, or you will have mushy peppers (if you boil them for 5 minutes per the original recipe).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pioneer Living Link

While reducing my tomato sauce, and cooling my slaw syrup, I found this Web site on-line. If you are a survivalist and you read my blog for frugal living tips, learning to be self-sufficient and preparedness, you'll love it too.

Pioneer Living Survival

Canning and Eggs ~ Editor of My Writing

Last night, as I was taking clothes off the line, I looked out at the garden.  I forgot to check on my cauliflower and cabbage.  I walked over and found 2 nice heads of cauliflower ready to harvest.  I also found 1 head of cabbage ready.  Back inside I went, and started searching for recipes.  I already have a basket full of green beans, the last of the potatoes, and some organic bacon for dinner tonight.  I needed a way to preserve or store up the cabbage.

Visit back to see what we decided to make with both of them.  I'm busy cutting up tomatoes for another batch of tomato sauce.  I ran out of onions.  I went to the garden, and begged the earth to give me just a few more, but we have used all that we planted.  Next year, we need more. 

While hubby is out buying me more onion, I will finish cutting up the tomatoes.  We were surprised that the produce stand, just down the road, does not have onions.  We use onion and garlic in many of our homemade dishes.

As for the cauliflower, I may use it for dinner tomorrow. I'll figure that out later.  However, we nibbled on a bit and it has a lot more flavor that what you find in stores. 

My son has also been caretaker of the chickens lately.  He's brought it to my attention that I need to make homemade noodles and an angel food cake too.  The barred rocks are laying eggs like crazy now, but they are half the size of the red hen's eggs.  

I am having my 12th grade daughter edit my writing.  She absolutely loooooooooves to edit.  She can't stand it when the local newspaper has errors in it.  She is also co-editor of the school newspaper this year.  YAY!  I've been sooooo tired (physically) that I've not been thinking straight. If I make a mistake, I know that she will find it.  She has a natural "knack" for editing.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Canning Tomatoes and Peppers ~ Going Coo Coo!

Canning is a lot of work.  Phew!  With all of our tomatoes this year, I am very busy canning today.  I can tell you that canning tomato sauce, although lengthy and tedious, was well worth it.  The taste is unbelievably better than store canned sauce.  I canned mine as seasoned tomato sauce, and plan to be doing that again tomorrow.



As for today, I was successful in canning my first tomatoes ever. 

We Were Gifted and More Repairs

Co-workers of my husband's, have gifted us with garlic (homegrown), and jalapeno peppers.  We made 3 quarts of hot salsa with both of those.  We plan to plant some of the garlic very soon also.

We were also gifted some sweet corn.  We cooked it last night and the leftover was cut off and added to crock pot Spanish Rice (also made with fresh garden goodies and my very own tomato sauce).

Repairs and repairs.  They don't seem to stop, so I want to learn how to fix them myself.

Recently, one of the head lights in my van went out.  I told my husband, but he's been busy every night with more urgent repairs, that it didn't get replaced.  One night he was driving to a nearby town, he was stopped by the police. 


The next day he bought a new headlight, and I asked for him to teach me how to change it.   He showed me how, and I helped.  Next on the list is how to repair my windshield wiper spray nozzle.  It's not spraying out on the driver's side and it's driving me nuts. 

Oh, and as for playing hookie, I did get 500 words written.  It's not a lot, but it's more than any other day lately.  I also took a short trip to buy a few more flour sack towels.  I found some on sale for $2.70 (for a pack of 3).  They are not perfect in any way, but that's why I like to embroider on them.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Power Outage

A bad storm cut our power off last night about 11pm.  Even though I reported it, it was off until about 9:15am this morning.

We were actually more calm then ever this time.  I mean, we have been through it so many times, including 2 times during the summer.  We are becoming pros at handling it. 

We keep large plastic cat litter jugs filled with water.  Those are used to flush toilets.  We keep 2 extra jugs of water just for the dogs, and other drinking water that we had to use to water the goats and chickens.   I used our bottled drinking water to give to the barn cats this morning also.

We were very well prepared for no lights.  With camping equipment we had several lanterns and flashlights.  We also have candles and oil lamps.  We have a string of battery operated camping lights that we used in the bathroom so the kids could get ready for school.

The main issue with the power out, is that when it does go out, we can't do anything.  Really.

Without electricity our water pump can't run the water up from the well, we can't heat water for washing, cleaning or cooking.  It's just a big pain in the rump.  

It's a good thing we have a grill now.  We can cook on that, possibly heat water, and maybe even make coffee.  Since it rained, our fire ring is soaking wet, so heating coffee over it this morning wasn't a real good idea.

The worst part of the power going out, is that we don't have a generator yet.  With my freezer packed full of garden goodies and meat, we stand the chance of loosing our food storage.  I certainly can't wait to get the root cellar or the generator.  It would give us peace of mind.

I have to admit, that I was kind of excited (outside of worry about food in the freezer) about getting a day "off."  I was just getting ready to grab paper and pen to start writing a short story.  That is about the time the power came back on.  I looked at my son and said, "can we just pretend it didn't come on?" 

It is so quiet right now.  I can hear both roosters crowing, a few hens laying eggs, crickets chirping, birds, one of the cats purring, a dog's tummy rumbling (he gets petrified during storms), and cars passing the house.  

I think I will get a pot of good coffee brewing and take my notebook and pen to the front porch.  I'm playing hookie today.  Okay, so maybe after I get dinner in the crockpot.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Signatures, Tomatoes and Zucchini

If I got paid for every time I signed my name yesterday (and the day before), I'd be rich.  School papers are not our favorite thing around here.  I was sat down, while my tomato sauce reduced, and a pen was placed in my hand.

"Sign this Mom," they all said.


You can definitely tell school started around here.  My e-mail inbox fills up daily with stuff from scholastic, Market Day, school newsletters (to save on school paper), and many other e-mails.  Pretty soon the fundraisers will start flowing in, and I'll start to hear "Mom I need $$ for this and that."

Last year, about this time, we were winding down with the garden goodies.  We made lot of salsa, but never canned anything.  I did freeze many tomatoes, but last year we had mostly Romas.  This year, I have many larger types of tomatoes. 


Yesterday my sauce took about 25 pounds of Romas, and that is about 125 of them.  Today I cut up and froze 3 very full quart bags of tomatoes.

My goal is to can them vs. freeze them, on account of our expensive electric here.  I was very pleased with the seasoned tomato sauce I canned.  It has so much more flavor in it, and by canning it myself, has no BPA or other unwanted chemicals.





I canned more zucchini relish and still had some zucchini left over.  I decided to make some healthier school lunch snacks and after school snacks.  They are already getting some delicious garden fresh watermelon.


Yum!

Kids Say the Funniest Things ~ Now the Pressure is On

My kids, especially my 9 year-old daughter, say the funniest things. 

For example, we went went camping last weekend, I noticed my camping tote was a mess.  In fact, we were missing important items such as our lanterns.  The older girls held a backyard camp-out earlier in the summer, and used my camping supplies.  I had mentioned that they need to learn to put things back or simply stay out of it, when my 9 year-old said this:

"Hey Mom, just put a sign on it that says Mom's reusable panty liners."

It just made me crack up laughing.  I did get a sample from Naturally Cozy, and they all ran when I opened the package.  You never know if the economy will be worse next year, so I wanted to be prepared for anything.

Anyway, aside from that funny story, she told me something after she got off the school bus.  She told me how the kids went around and talked about their family.  She boasted about having 25 animals around here, and proudly told me this:

"Hey Mom, you know when they came around and asked about our families?  I told them that Dad worked at ....and you were a writer!  I told the class that you were going to get published one of these days."

Ugh.  Now the pressure is on more than ever.  99% of my day is taking care of the family, processing and weeding the garden, regular housework, errands, and so much more.  I've tried to sit and write, but setting up my "writing space" has been the only accomplishment this summer.  


As for the number 25, in how many animals, it's about to go up one notch if she gets her birthday request - a turtle.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Day of School

It was a happy/sad day today.  The kids were up very early and pretty excited about going back to school.  Me on the other hand, was a bit down.  


I did have a lot to keep me busy.  If fact, my first canned tomato sauce is still reducing.  In between cutting up all those roma tomatoes and onions, I pulled 2 watermelons from the garden and cut them up.  I also pulled about 5 more zucchini.  I think I will put the relish canning and tomato freezing jobs off until tomorrow.  Five loads of laundry wore me out, on top of all the other work around here.  


I never got my "porch time" as my Dad surprised us with a visit.  The kids were very excited and can't wait to show him the goats.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Camping Trip 2011 ~ Camping With Chopsticks

Our garden blessings went camping this year.  I was much smarter this time in packing our food.  Instead of putting a carton of eggs in my cooler, I cracked them, whisked them, and poured them into recycled glass peanut butter jars (canning jars would work too).  In the cooler it went.  We also took homemade Queen Anne's Lace jelly and peanut butter.

I also chopped all the veggies and packed them separate for our first grilled stir fry and rice campfire dinner.  The only thing I need to change on that part, is to pack them in glass jars. Our cooler smelled like onions, because I used a ziploc bag - blech.


I pre-cooked our brown rice, and it heated up nicely on our campfire griddle pan. 

Served with chopsticks

Breakfast was easier with the eggs pre-cracked and whisked.  Instead of buying main stream frozen potatoes, I pulled a bag from our freezer that contained garden potatoes.  I also pre-cut garden green peppers and onions to mix with either the potatoes or the eggs. 


Our hike was cut short this season.  We hiked at warp speed, there and back, to avoid getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. Boy are the mosquitoes are bad here this year.


We were lucky to borrow a pop-up camper, and booked a non-electric site.  The first night we had family fun by playing tether ball at the campground, followed by board games in the camper.  Other campers were smart, and had packed tents with all side netting, for a more comfortable night outside.


We discovered, that in our nook of a camp site, there were wild blackberry bushes behind us.  We enjoyed nibbling on those yummy berries, and made note of the site in our camping journal.

The first morning there, my 9 year-old woke up with a migraine.  She first thought it was a sinus headache, but even after laying down in the camper, got sick.  I'm so glad we had an emergency kit, had ice cold water to make a compress with, and extra bedding.  Poor thing.  I felt so bad for her.  After she felt better, she was like new again.  I'm sure it was lack of sleep combined with lack of water.  We brought several gallons of drinking water, but she was busy playing with a school friend that happened to be camping at the same campground.  After that, we encouraged her to drink plenty of water throughout the day.  It was pretty hot and humid.


Since we had a thunderstorm the last night at the campground, we set the camper back up at home to dry out.  We cleaned off all the mildew from last season, and the kids had one more night sleeping in it.


One last night before school starts this season.

Each year we go camping, I buy us new bandannas of a different color.  Last year it was bright pink, and this year it was a blue/green blend.  We love to use them for our hair while camping, or get it wet to cool off our necks.


There were many tent campers, and a few that brought movie players, but the campground held a "movie night" just for us.  They have an outdoor amphitheater and played Open Season 3.

Outside of the outdoor movie, we played with campground equipment, brought horse shoes to play, board games, and also took the one hike.  We planned on fishing, but forgot to grab the poles.


We made a small effort to "glamp" this year, and my husband like the nice touches.  

The table cover is actually a used pillow sham, with the backing gently removed (and saved for another project).  It is topped with a hankie I bought at a goodwill in Amish country.  The blue pot was also a good buy at a Goodwill store.   With the pot, I also got a spoon and 4 bowls - perfect for camping.  The silver coffee pot, we use to pour water with, is from Freecycle.  

This was a poor attempt to "glamp" up our camper windows.  If I can locate a nice, lace, used, valance, it would create a much better look.

Instead of sleeping bags, we took our bedding from home for the camper beds.

When I cleaned a few days ago, I found my cute small signs, one of which we took camping.

On one our trips to use the porta-potty, we spotted this guy crawling up, and going after a fly. 

Hiatus Happenings

While away, I finished another shawl for one of the kids. . . 

I watched another sunrise . . . 

The kids practiced folding napkins . . .

I got a good start on setting up and organizing my writing nook (yep, that's a dish drainer and that's a Christmas album in the very back)  . . .

Here is a close up of the frame that my youngest daughter gave me for my writing area . . .

 (Be Joyful and Happy)

I finally got around to cutting 2 pillow cases and a sheet into strips, and sewed them together for rag balls (future rag rug).  The pillow cases were over 20 years old and worn very thin.  The colors are barely visible . . .

I practiced a new knitted square.  I really did too.  I kept taking it out and knitting it over and over.  Tip:  Never try a new pattern when kids are in the same room (ha ha ha ha!)

(Seed Stitch)

 And I finally took a few of the kids camping . . .
 Look for an update on our camping trip in a day or so.