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~

Friday, June 29, 2012

Excerpts from a Journal Junkie

from the homesteading journal. . .




The garden is producing kohlrabi, lettuce, sugar snap peas, beets, organic red stem Swiss chard, collards, mustard greens, and radishes. The green beans, peppers, tomatoes and broccoli are just now coming in too.


The joke's on us.  The flat of cauliflower that we bought just down the road at the produce stand, was marked incorrectly.  It was not cauliflower.  It was kohlrabi.  Big bummer. 

The company hubby works for, dropped us off our insurance plan, and put us with their basic plan.  All because hubby forgot to fill out an online survey.  We are sunk.  We lost our co-pay, and don't have prescription coverage and have a huge deductible per person.  He's sending in an appeal, but it takes 45 days.  Basically, we'd have to spend out thousands before our insurance would pay anything.  We are paying a large amount to not have anything covered that was covered before.  The ridiculous part, is that these surveys ask you questions like "would you recommend this to someone?" We are very concerned, not only for our own sake, but for the falsehoods of this company.  Hubby put out e-mails and found out there are other employees that were dropped and not notified.

We are still seeking a buyer for our buckling.  We named him "weather man bleu."  If the weather is going to be very hot, we don't see him out.  If we see him out, it should be a decent day. He's having a very difficult time with the heat.

Queen Anne's Lace is in bloom, so I canned 5 -1/2 pints for the Farmer's Market.  I'll need more for stocking up. 

Here is the recipe: Queen Anne's Lace Jelly Recipe


Note: The key to this jelly setting is to stir constantly.



Temperatures have gotten up to 105° F here and today it will be around 97°F.  We are really hurting for rain.  Watering all of the gardens (vegetable, herb, and flower) is very tedious.

It was time to mix up another 5 gallon bucket of homemade laundry detergent.  This time I was grateful to have goat's milk soap to make it with.

We made another batch of homemade ricotta goat's milk cheese.  I plan to make cookies and a spinach frittata with the leftovers.  We already made vegetable lasagna. 
 

from the crafting journal . . .

I finally finished my knitted shawl. My 10 year-old is modeling it.  I did make mistakes and was about to rip it out and start over, but she wanted it.  I'm starting another one, and will add fringe to it.  I need the practice anyway.  I love this style.  It reminds of the one Caroline wears on the Little House on the Prairie television shows.

 
from the gratitude journal . . .

Today I am thankful for:

~the water hose that hubby hooked up a few years ago
~a bypass on our water softener to make watering better
~the water hose to cool off the dogs and goats
~the water hose to make watering the chickens easier
~God's protection and promises
 


from the family journal . . .

My son is now signed up for classes at a local college this fall.  He's working towards a degree in Art.

My 18 year-old daughter was accepted to another college, but if she cannot figure out a way to pay for it without loans, she is looking into the Marines.  She intends to work towards a degree with Equine.

Mom took the younger two girls for the weekend.  We gifted her with a dozen farm fresh eggs, a jar of wild black raspberry/honey syrup and a jar of strawberry-honey jam.
 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kohlrabi Patties with Onion

With several home grown (organic) kohlrabi ready to harvest, I decided to make patties with them.  These were delicious!  They required no salt either.  This reminds of meals the pioneers could make - straight from the garden (aside from the flour, but they could grind their own flour too).

Monday, June 25, 2012

Yarn Needles, Chickens and Health

Use an over-sized safety pin to hold yarn needles.  I can pin this to just about anything when I am working on a project.

We lost one of our Araucana pullets yesterday.  Such a sad loss.  My 15 year-old daughter has been working with them and they are very friendly with us.   She started to feed another hen with a dropper, in hopes to solve the issues.  We believe they have worms and we are treating them with apple cider vinegar.  They enjoyed being outside yesterday.


After 6 hours of weeding and tilling  and harvesting the garden, I spent the night in bed with my foot up.  Yep, I did it again.  It hurts so bad I can't walk on it.  Between that muscle (I can't remember what the doctor called it) and my sciatic nerves, I won't be able to do much this week.  This is not a good thing.


I did start another batch of goat's milk ricotta cheese. It will need to be rinsed today and put in the refrigerator.  I hope to make (or have a daughter make) lasagna with it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mom I'm Bored!

There's a cure for bored kids in my house. He he he!  It's called cleaning and organizing.

 (Top cupboards, no hardware)

(Bottom, with hardware)

It's actually working for my 15 year-old daughter.  She's taking kitchen cupboards apart one by one and priming them for a new coat of paint.  These mix and match cupboards have really darkened the kitchen, with the bottom dark brown and the top an off-white.  The top cupboards will need hardware, because we are painting everything antique or country white.  

The cubbies you see in the top cupboards had tiny baskets that I could not use.  I took the baskets out and placed tea cups in them.  I have them in the lower cupboards (have no idea what they would have used them for) and may try to saw out the shelves to store my cookie sheets etc. in.  I guess we'll see.  These are the before photos.

While I took the time to "rest" I decided to pick up a few things in my room, where the leaning tower of Pisa really resides.

Literally.  The pile up of crafting projects, yarn, supplies, patterns, my reading books and journals, are about to topple over.   Peace comes with an organized room, so I opened the bedroom closet door.  

I was able to dig out a large cut piece of fleece, that had a beautiful rose pattern on it.  It's moved with me 2 times.  Sad I know.  So, I cut the sides, and gave it to my 10 year-old to tie knots and make herself a fleece blanket.  

I dug out the bag of knitting needles that I snatched up at a thrift store a while back.  I cleaned them all up, and split them up between me and two of the girls.  I even found a double ended crochet hook in it, which is just what I've been looking for.

Cha-ching - two things put away and out of my room.

Then I took some scraps, odds and ends and put them in the kids "rainy day" box.

Cha-ching - more out of my room.

.....and the cleaning will continue throughout the summer.  Happy days await. 


Tonight, there will 3 screaming 12/13 year-old's staying the night, to celebrate my 12 year-old daughter turning 13 today.

Friday, June 22, 2012

How I am Doing It - Getting in shape and Exercise


I've had a few people ask me what I am doing to lose weight and get in shape. My goal is to completely shed 50 pounds(or more).  I am down 14.  At our ages, it doesn't come off as fast, and if it took me 6 years to put it all on, I would rather it came slow to ensure it stays off (vs. fast).  I do not do weight watcher's or any program that requires buying frozen meals. 

Here is what I am doing:

~Eating as many real foods (homegrown without chemicals or organic) vs. processed foods (even Subway is very high in sodium so don't let them fool you).  We cut out shortening, eat less bread, and now can jam with honey vs. sugar.  Last year we planted a boat load of green pepper plants, I am just now finishing up the last in the freezer.  It lasted all winter long. Peppers, along with apples, are high in pesticides in stores.  Even at some orchards.  We are trying to eliminate all foods that would have chemicals.


*For example: eating fresh farm eggs with veggies, or oatmeal with garden pumpkin, or steel cut oats vs. store boxed cereal.  We utilize our goat's milk in everything we can also.


~Exercise, on top of our regular physical outdoor and indoor work.  We regularly go to the gym for a good hour or more.  We lift weights followed by cardio (treadmill or elliptical etc.).  Some times we ride our bikes there or bike ride instead.  Hubby and I love to box also.  He entered a boxing contest back in the day.  Years ago we bought a heavy bag and a speed bag.  They are both in the garage.    The gym we go to, is set up in our old high school, and out in the country.  The fees for families with children in the school system there are $25.00/month per family - affordable and in a good location.  I bench press just like hubby etc.

~Rest.  To be fit mentally, I am really working on taking "rest" days.  They help us stay emotionally fit.  With a blended family of 8, there can be a lot of stress in this house.  

~Eliminate or Limit Alcohol.  This is a huge must if you want to stay in shape and be healthy.  Hubby still enjoys a beer after a long day at work and having mowed the grass, but it's limited.   I plan to order us some organic wine for special occasions (dates alone, Christmas, etc.).

~Insurance Reasons:  Our health insurance requires not just my hubby, but myself also, to participate in an on-line exercise/health program.  We participate in various things and earn points.  By a certain date we must have 1000 points in order to keep our insurance as it is, and at the same price.  If not, we lose benefits, and pay a higher price.  Some programs are logging exercise hours, losing extra weight, learning to cook (which I already do anyway), calling a nurse, watching on-line movies about health and taking a quiz etc.  It's a pain in the rear and time consuming, but we can't afford to have bad health or pay higher prices. 


Misc:  I am also buying local honey and drinking a mix of 1 tsp. honey/1 tsp. Bragg's apple cider vinegar and 8 oz. of water each day (many benefits).

I'm not selling any product, nor am I a doctor.  I'm just sharing what we are doing.  Hubby had lowered all of his numbers for cholesterol and I'll be getting mine checked soon. 

More Misc:  Limit computer and TV.  This is more important to me than the kids.  They could care less, but I am mentally fit when I spend less time on the Internet and computer.  If I spend too much time, I am groggy and not in a pleasant mood.  It zaps my energy.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Worn Out

Today, I am really missing my wall tent.  Thunderstorms are predicted, so the front porch may be off limits too.  The last two storms we had, caused lightening to fry one VCR/DVD player, and two fans.  Both times the lightening hit, there were loud "pops" and a flash of light in the house.  We never had this happen before. 

I woke up extremely tired.  My 12 year-old helped me weed the watermelon, some tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins.  I had the kids put the 3rd load of laundry out, and they broke the line - Hmph!  I rigged one line, but will need to buy new clothesline to fix the other one.

There is more to weed today, but I need to take my 10 year-old to her library reading program.  I am skipping berry picking too.  Unless the storms hold off, and it cools a bit later in the evening.  I'm just that tired.  My body is telling me to take a rest.  No canning either.


Hubby worked overtime, and didn't get home until after midnight.  My 20 year-old son is working 3rd shift (covering someone's vacation), and comes home a grouch.  I cannot wait for this week to be over.  Third shift causes the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome.  He has had to deal with drunks, call the police and so forth.  Third shift is just not normal on the body either.


My 18-year old quit her job, and has a horse to pay for.  Her irrational decisions are stressing me out too.  Between kids and work, I'm ready for a vacation of some sort, but I know if I went somewhere, the garden would die.  Most of the kids resent me for growing a garden, but will eat it when it's served on the table. 

Yesterday I pulled more garden bounty - 5 kohlrabi, more radishes, lettuce, and sugar snap peas.  We made one large salad, made a raw salad, and then roasted the rest.  The goats got the leftover treats (skins, tops, etc from the produce).   


If anything, I may pick a kohlrabi and a few radishes to make the same raw salad for myself today.  I need re-energize badly.  I don't want to get sick like last year.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Excerpts from a Journal Junkie

from the homesteading journal . . .

 I picked our first garden bounty - radishes and sugar snap peas.  Started to keep track of produce on the blog too.  I baked a red potato/kohlrabi/garlic scape dish I found on-line, and for the peas, we made a stove-top mix of sugar snap peas and asparagus.  Yum!  My husband paid a commercial fisherman to catch us some local perch.  It's not cheap either.  We may be renting a boat (or borrowing one) to take a trip up to catch our own.  Delicious fish.



Cheddar and Tim are spending a lot of time with me outside.  I'm pretty sure they love their new home.  One day I picked berries and Cheddar was all around my legs, rubbing back and forth.  I bent over to pick some low berries and he jumped on my back - OW!



We discovered bats in the goat barn.  Babies were falling from the ceiling and we didn't know what to do.  We contacted professionals and found out that we had what's called a Maternity Colony - they have babies in June and begin to leave the barn in July.  Very interesting stuff.

I spent the week washing up the wall tent linens, getting caught up with housework (bathroom cleaning etc.) and making more jams - some jams for us and some for the Farmer's Market.

While picking berries, I discovered purple thistle growing nearby - one more wild flower to add to my wild flower journal.


The vet came out for a house call and was able to cut down both of Orion's horns.  He's less dangerous now, and we hope that will help stud him out this fall.  The one horn we have trouble with, will continue to grow, but the vet was able to cut it down enough, so that it wasn't touching his head (the horn that grew in and downward).  Right now, we are able to put surgery off the list.  Thankfully.

Canned 9 more 1/2 pints of strawberry-Honey Jam, and 5 - 1/2 pints of Wild Black Raspberry-Honey Jam.  However, one of my burners quit working.  I'll need to replace one now.



from the personal journal . . .

I actually took time for myself last Sunday. I was feeling a bit under the weather from a very long Saturday (did laundry at 5pm and took it down a few hours later etc.).  

I didn't feel up to anything, and took a library book to the front porch.  There I sat and read the entire book.  I really did.  I haven't done that in years.  

 I needed more places to store my canned goods, and my 15 year-old daughter reminded me about a bookshelf in the living room that had books on it.  I pulled some off and decided to barter many that I had already read.  I found one book that I had read and marked pages on.

 One chapter I marked, was titled "Make sure you get enough rest."  I think I will read this book one more time.

 I found a book I have not read yet, and have already started to read it - Hope and Humor for Pooped Out Parents, by Pam Vredevelt. 

from the family journal . . .

The two younger girls baked their dad a cake for Father's Day.

My brother, his girlfriend and her boys, stopped over for a surprise visit.  They got to see the buckling, the chickens, the bats, and the garden.  They tasted the goat's milk, and they tasted kohlrabi and sugar snap peas from the garden.  I gifted them a jar of homemade Strawberry-Honey jam, a dozen eggs, and a bag full of garden lettuce.

The power went out one morning for 2 hours.  We could not do anything - dishes, laundry, jam making etc.  The kids got out the board games, one painted, one did some drawing, and I had the change to gain a few more rows on my shawl.



from the  gratitude journal . . .


Today I am thankful for:

~having taken a full day of rest without work (not even cooking)

~my son and 15 year-old daughter for helping me pick wild black raspberries.  This is a tedious job.  Especially when it's in the 90's.

~rain, the garden really needed it

~snail mail, I love getting letters from my Aunt
 



from the crafting journal . . . 


I've been working on a knitted shawl for myself.  Still knitting away on a block blanket and a crocheted Christmas lap afghan.

from the exercise journal . . .

I am down 14 pounds now, with several more to lose.


Note:  I apologize for such a long post.  Summer work can be tedious and time consuming.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

96 Degrees Today

It's a scorcher here today - 96°F.  I'm trying to finish up a few more batches of jam.  We are nearing the end of the strawberry season, but still picking wild black raspberries.


I'm falling behind on housework, and really need to get myself back on track. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mission Impossible? ~ Kidney Update

I have not found balance in my daily routine.

This may be something for me when all of the kids have moved out, and my daily duties are more at a minimum.

I have been crocheting a car wash cloth for 3 weeks - messed it up twice, taking it out twice.  Sigh....

It's Berry Pickin' Time!



We gathered about 10 cups of wild black raspberries and will go back for more.  I have already canned 6 jars of wild black raspberry jam this week. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wild Rose Petal Jelly ~ Wild Red/White Clover Jelly






I discovered wild rose bushes around the property last year, and have wanted to make a batch of rose jelly.

I located one recipe for rose petal jelly:  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

Homemade Marshmallows




I've been wanting to make homemade marshmallows for a year now.  I finally took time on Sunday to make some. I was surprised at how easy these cut too. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Morning

I'm enjoying the "retreat" we built even more.  Early morning and evenings are cool and cozy.  Afternoons are a bit hot, but with a fan I can spend quiet time out there.  It's definitely not something to have up in the hottest part of the summer, but late August I might put it back up for cool fall nights.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Backyard Camping

This is the lean-to or "wall tent" the kids made last year.


We washed up some rugs, aprons, towels, tablecloths and sheets.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

From the Homesteading Journal . . .

 (Our first backyard "retreat" just before Glamping Weekend.  This is just the beginning.)


Had to cancel our glamping weekend (away from home) due to a situation beyond my control.   I promised myself that a glamped up tent would be put up somewhere on our 6 acres. We haven't done it yet.  Maybe today.


Started building the chicken tractor.

Planted 9 sweet potatoes (first time for us and a bit late), 6 straight neck yellow squash plants, the last of the tomatoes (totaling 121 tomato plants now), 6 zucchini plants (our planted seeds did not all come up), and one last sweet banana pepper plant for the billy goat (his favorite).



One daughter went to put the red hens away, and found the rat in the coop.  She said it's "huge" and scurried up the chicken wire and up through a hole in the ceiling (which we blocked with a block).  My son went out to re-set traps and saw it to.  I think he almost got it with a shovel.  It's eating our chicken eggs, so we need to get rid of him soon.  Just a few days later, before sundown, we saw it again.  This time, hubby was home and grabbed the pellet gun.  He got the rat right in the head, but it kept going.  My son grabbed a branch and used that, breaking the branch into 4 pieces, but got the job done.  We set more traps.  We should see more eggs now.

Spent several days weeding the old strawberry patch, asparagus, beets, carrots, swiss chard, green beans and some lettuce.  Thankfully, my son once again helped me.

Used the hand hoe to work up the pumpkin and watermelon patch.  This year there was no room for more melons.


(photo taken by my 15 year-old daughter)

Brindle's (black and white doeling) new owner arrives today to take her home.

Started taking inventory on supplies to tear down the emergency chicken coop.  The walls and door are being saved to make it larger.

Put the new Ball Automatic Jam Maker on the very top of my wish list.  I can't wait to own one.  We have lots of berries in the summer months.  

 A Sunday morning view from my front porch.  Good thing the dogs didn't see them.





Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Strawberry-Honey Jam ~ Canning without Sugar


The pioneers rarely used granulated table sugar.  Today, it seems like it's in every recipe I have.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It's a Boy!


I was just getting ready to start making jam and my 15 year-old daughter said, "Mom, Misty is ready.  It could be 1-2 hours."

I grabbed my camera and we waited.  She took forever, but it's her first kidding.

She gave birth to a healthy baby boy.  He's the spittin' image of a true blue white mountain goat.  What a cutie.  Of course, real mountain goats have larger ears than a lamancha, and are much larger, but he still has to the color.

I'm not sure what he'll be named, so watch my daughter's blog for goat updates and more photos. 

Life as a Teen Farmgirl

Jam making can wait for this cutie pa-tootie!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mystery Road Trip

The other day, hubby and I went in search for the person who sells his own honey in a nearby town.  We started by eating breakfast at a small diner that was still in business, and asked around.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Draw Backs Living in the Country ~ Litter




In my state, "Littering is a serious offense, punishable by fines of up to $500 and 60 days in jail." (source: http://ohiodnr.com/tabid/18283/default.aspx)

These photos are just from last night's drivers.  There have been entire food boxes, cheese wrappers, birth control pill containers with their names on it, and more.  Even beer bottles thrown so far, they've almost landed on my front porch.

It wouldn't be so funny to these people, if we set up a camera and had them fined.   One person has done this already (according to our newspaper).  I think more needs to be done in regards to those to litter.  This is just one draw back living in the country - irresponsible people think your yard is their trash can.