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, July 31, 2013

A Sunflower Blooms


The sun was not shining, but I saw that we had one sunflower blooming, and wanted to capture a photograph of it.  My zinnias are up, but I have yet to see butterflies this year. 

It's raining again.  I'm not complaining, but how can a person not think about all that investment going do waste.  Such a sad year.  

Hubby said a co-worker would give us 2 bushels of corn, and he's brought home 2 large squash.  I am still trying to locate a produce stand with beets and cabbage.  All of our cabbage was drowned this season.

We cleaned so much yesterday, I woke up with swollen and irritated eyes.  The fire extinguisher dust is all cleaned up (unless it's hiding in places we have not yet checked), everything was laundered too. 

Today, I will be using my Hay Max (thank you Emma for telling me about it).  Yesterday I forgot I bought some.  It's an organic, drug-free, pollen barrier balm.   I'd love to make this myself, but cannot (currently) locate a recipe to make it.  It should help today, especially with more rain, and our windows open.

I made an attempt at working on my crocheted rooster Christmas ornaments, but failed. After taking out the feet two times, I had to put it down.  My hands were so sore from all the weeding the other day, I was making too many mistakes.  I worked some deep penetrating (also organic) salve into my hands and will hope to get something finished tonight.

The house is not "sparkling" just yet.  There is much more to organize and clean yet.  I am mixing up a different batch of homemade bathroom cleaner, one that will be used to clean the vinyl flooring in the camper.  If it's a recipe worth sharing, I'll post it later.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Keeping Letter Writing Alive ~ A Work Week


Remember my girls writing letters?  My 11 year-old wrote 3 letters, and got 3 back.  She also got some bracelets from one of her Aunt's (a brother/sister celebration held in India, sorry for the bad photo).  

I have mailed the last of my postcards for the postcard swap I participated in. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
We are currently doing an entire inside and outside homestead clean up.  It's long over due, but it's best to get it done this week.  I've been carpet cleaning (cannot wait until we have zero carpet here), dusting, wiping, weeding flower beds, and doing a lot of coughing. 

We've washed up bedding for the camper, took a load to recycling, cleaned up the garage, but there is so much more to do.  Including those light fixtures that keep collecting more dust.  

My bedroom needs a complete overhaul.  When they cut the tile in the bathroom, dust went everywhere, despite the air purifier.  It may take me two days in that room alone, just to get all the dust out.

Our barn roofing is being delivered today, and will be in progress soon.  They are calling for more rain yet this week, so his project is taking priority.

Hubby has many jobs going on this week too - replace the front screen door, tar the wood-stove piping on the roof, replace an electrical outlet we found went bad after the last storm, camper repairs, and a lot more.  And we still need the fencing finished before winter.

Today, I plan to make a batch of homemade ginger-ale, to enjoy after my work is done for the day.  


Monday, July 29, 2013

Rainbow

We continue to get rain, but one day we were given a rainbow too.



Most of my carrots are underwater, but I managed to pull a few.  They are wide, but short this year.  I'm thankful we will get at least a meal or two from them.

We have started the repairs on the barn (that lost it's roofing in one of the storms).  The cement blocks in the base of the wall, on the backside, had been knocked completely loose in one corner.  They removed most of them, and cemented them and tuck pointed them.  Now they are drying, and the roofing starts next.  We've already had rainfall twice (and heavy) since I posted last, so I am praying for no more rain.

Before we got blasted with another rainfall, the one prior to the rainbow, I was able to weed most of my flower beds.  The weather was strangely cool, and I spent from about 10am to 4:30pm pulling weeds.  I am still not done (that's how much rain we've had).

Ironically, the camper has a propane leak, so Hubby is going to replace the line on that too.  Thank goodness he tested it with a spray bottle filled with soapy water. 
 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Camping in a Pop Up Camper


We haven't named "her" yet, but she's ours.  We'll be family camping, and just having a good ol' time.  She has a slide out for the table, a toilet, air conditioner, refrigerator, stove that can be moved to outside or inside, and an outside shower.  She sleeps 7-8 (6 adults comfortably).

Gratitude

I am thankful for the teas and the "stress relief" body/bath that my mother gave me.  It arrived at the most opportune time.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Need to Learn List ~ More Hullabaloo on the Homestead

Apparently, I need to learn to gut a deer now.  You know we can't go a day around here without something going on.

While I was showering, and one daughter was on the treadmill (with headphones on), someone hit a deer right in front of our house.  The driver had gone on, but the deer was left behind (on our property).

I had gone to the garden to see if I had anything to pick for my breakfast, and was at the stove when I saw a man walking up to the door. 

Evidently, he drove by, and saw the deer moving around in the yard.  He just wanted to alert me, and that the Sheriff was on the way (they have to be the ones to put them down).

I did call Hubby, but he didn't answer (tsk tsk), to see if he could get extended family over to utilize the meat.  When the Sheriff arrived, Hubby finally called back, but didn't want to send someone without seeing what damage was done to the deer.

Thankfully, the Sheriff had a list, and thankfully someone came for the deer.  Otherwise, it would pulled to the other side of the highway to be left to rot.  And that would not be good with our dogs. 

So....there you have it.  Another fun day at the homestead.  Guess I am adding "learn to gut a deer" to my "learn something new list." 

2013 ~ Worst Garden Year


I have succumbed to realize that this year is the worst garden year ever (however our first worst).  The second, unexpected, spring frost took half of my carrots, beets, cucumbers, and beans.  We replanted, but almost all of our beets did not come up.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

On the Loose ~ Camper

 "Big boy" (Orion) has been getting loose a lot lately.  This concerns me with the big barn too.  He got caught up inside where the loft caved down, so we are in a much needed hurry to find a way to remove that barn.  Money is extremely tight now, with all the repairs and replacements, so I am praying we can still find someone to take the wood.

It's not "Big Boy's" fault either. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Recovering . . .

Here is a photo of where the lightening traveled through the dryer, from the electrical socket, then ignited the propane that was leaking from line on the hot water heater.  Still, we are thankful it happened.  Otherwise....

The cable/internet guy is here, and has been here for 1 1/2 hours.  Evidently, lightening also fried the cable line at the utility pole by the highway.  It basically "melted" it.

We are still trying to get the cable box to work, but we do have the internet now.  I have a long list of to-do's today, including pay bills, and check my bank account.  You don't realize what you use the internet for, until you don't have it.

We have a lot more to clean up and repair, but I wanted to post and let you all know we are recovering over all of this.    My nerves are frayed beyond their limit.  

It's been a very bad year so far.  We got more rain, so the fate of our garden is yet another disaster (maybe). 

Look what showed up in the mail. 


Monday, July 22, 2013

Another Bad Storm

Have you been wondering where I have been the past few days? 

Where do I start?

I'm at the library right now.  Our cable/internet service was knocked out early Saturday morning.  The service folks have not been over yet to see what the problem is.

We had another bad storm early Saturday morning.  At 5:00am, I awoke to heavy rain, loud thunder, and a lot of lightening.  I rushed to the kitchen, unplugged the computer and cable line, and gathered battery powered lights (and flashlights).  My 16 year-old got up and searched for her dog so she could put his thundershirt on.  She was also searching for Mattie. 

The last time I posted, Mattie had come home from the vet and was not recovering quickly.  She was stumbling and falling down.  She had gone underneath my bed, and for some reason, my daughter felt an urgency to get her out.  I had told her to just let her rest there.  Later we realized we should have gotten her out.

I went back to bed, and could not sleep of course.  Somewhere around 6:30am-ish, it happened.  There was a very loud "BOOM" and when I opened my eyes I swear I saw a yellow flash in my dresser mirror. 

Lightening hit.  It popped two fuses in the breaker box, and my lights in the bedroom were out.  I took my flashlight and checked my mirror, as I thought it had completely cracked. The noise was that loud.  Also, I had heard something fall down in the hall from the wall when I heard the noise.

I got up and checked the utility room, which is down the next to my room, and next to the kitchen bathroom.  I heard sounds from the hot water heater that were not right.  I walked all the way in, and found flames shooting up under (or where it appeared to be coming from) the hot water heater.  I flew into the kitchen and grabbed a fire extinguisher, and put it out.  I know the dangers of propane, and immediately called Hubby (who had left for a 4:00am shift at work) for the location of the shut off valve (not one of us but Hubby knew where it was).  I called him 3 times. Our tank is buried.  I had an idea, but was not certain.  Hubby always took care of those things. By then a second fire started. 

I don't do well in these situations, and my kids pretty much took control of gathering everyone (and pets).   My hands were shaking and I was, as my kids say, "freaking out."

The second fire had flames shooting up from underneath my dryer, that was not far from the hot water heater.  I could not get Hubby to answer his phone.  The dryer had been plugged in, but off.  I put out the fire with our last fire extinguisher, I had one of the kids call 911 and said "GET OUT!"

We had to go to the chicken/goat barn and wait.   We went in our jammies, barefeet or whatever shoes were at the door.  We got everyone out but 2 cats - Jasper and Mattie.   It was pouring down and the lightening continued.  When the fire department arrived (which by the way the passed us, and I had to run out and wave them down), they were able to shut off my propane and investigate.  There was enough propane in the house that when the opened the door, there was another "BOOM" and things on the wall flew off. 

We were allowed in later, only to be told that there was a pin hole leak in our propane line inside, and on the water heater.  Evidently, a past home owner had taped over it with some type of tape (very unsafe, and pointed out by the fireman).  I was upset that they had done this, and it put my entire family at risk.

What a mess we have to clean up, but I am thankful it happened.  I keep replaying scenarios, that if the lightening had not ignited the propane, and we were all still asleep, we may not be here today. 

My daughter (16 year-old) and I had already had my car packed for the Farmer's Market, so we decided to drive over and see if we could set up late.  We didn't have much else we could do, and Hubby was fixing the propane line.  I needed to get my mind off things too.

We are still cleaning up my fire extinguisher mess, but still thankful I have a family and a house to clean up.  We did lose our front load dryer, one flat screen TV, my newly gifted blueray player,and we now have a leak to fix.  The "booms" shook the house so much that the woodstove piping worked loose and rain was coming in.  It was also coming into the garage.

When we did go back in, we found Mattie sleeping silently in the same place she was last, and we could not find Jasper.  Later the kids found him inside the couch.  They ripped the bottom to pull him out, and even then, he did not want out.   Poor guy.  We never did see much of him until today.

Hubby feels bad he did not feel his phone vibrate, and asked me to call many times to make sure he was getting my calls.  Otherwise, he would get a new cell phone.

Oh, and everyone, not just me, now knows were the propane shut off valve is now.  We are putting in another smoke alarm, and replacing our fire extinguishers.  The kids realize that clutter can't be anywhere anymore, and in an emergency hallways, and rooms need to be tidy.  Also, I have a new rule - headphones are not allowed during the night.

And yes, I got the speech from Hubby (who is also a volunteer fireman) that the first thing you do when propane is flaming, is shut the propane off (not use a fire extinguisher) - No propane, no flames.  Did he not hear me when I told him I didn't know where the valve was? Or that he didn't answer his phone? Sheesh. Men. I saw fire, I put it out. The fire department shut it off, and they saved our home.  There were many lessons learned from this too.


Oh....there's more.

The next morning, Hubby told me that the bathroom tile was completely done, and I could shower in there.  Two minutes into my shower, I felt a tile sink.  Let's just say no one in the house is allowed to say the words "tile" or "shower" in the same sentence. 




Thursday, July 18, 2013

Homesteading and Healthy Habits/Hobbies

Awhile ago, I talked to a man who I traded my chicken's paws (he wanted to make broth with the feet) with, for a delicious jar of fermented cabbage.  He was impressed with our lifestyle and said, "It sounds like you have some healthy habits/hobbies."  Honestly, I can't remember if he said habits or hobbies, it's the word "healthy" that made a bell go off in my head.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Handiwork ~ Good Price for Straw

Although the weather forecast is showing thunderstorms for this coming weekend. I made some fun crafts.  I had a bag of pin backs, so I used scrap fabric and a button to create some fun brooches.  These will be so cute on tote bags or aprons (or anything else for that matter).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Homegrown and Gifted

One of Hubby's co-workers gifted us a good amount of homegrown English walnuts.  I will be putting the kids to work and cracking these for some delicious recipes.

I spent yesterday weeding my herb garden.  The heat index is high, and at 8:30am today, the heat index is at 86°F.
The forecast is predicting the heat index will reach about 96° today about 1:00pm. That is too hot (and risky) to be outside at that time.  First the garden is flooded, and now it's getting scorched.

(2012)

Mattie, another one of our indoor cats, is going to the vet today.  She's developed a growth on her head, and it needs looked at.  She's about 14 years old and still has a lot of spunk.

Last night, my son helped me move the metal roofing still hanging from the barn, so my 16 year-old could get the go-kart out.  She had that thing flying all over the property, and with different kids in it for a ride.  She'd stop at the door and honk, asking if anyone else wanted to take a ride (smiling ear to ear).  I said, "sure, your brother will ride, won'tcha?"  He did.  He had not been in the go-kart at all since we've had it.

My son found out that his sister does not hold back when she's driving  - he he he!  So later, we look out and see him driving and giving her the ride of her life. I have to say, it was fun watching them have so much fun.  I had just had a shower, or I would have gone for a spin.

I have to say, it feels weird not having anything to can, dehydrate or freeze.  This may be the worst garden year ever for us.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The "Highlight" of the Weekend


Hubby, in much need of a "night away" decided to take a drive to Marshall, Michigan - Home of the famous Schuler's Restaurant & Pub.  He decided to take two of the kids with us.  This fountain is in the center of the town's round- about.  At night this fountain has colored lights and the water looks absolutely beautiful.  Marshall lodging was sold out, so we had to stay about 25 miles from there, and did not want to drive back just for photos.  Otherwise you'd be viewing them.  

Years ago, Hubby and I ate at Schuler's for his birthday.  I remember it costing us about $80.00 for dinner for two, and one bottle of wine.  It is fine dining at it's best.

Downtown Marshall has a variety of stores, and many that are in old, historic buildings.  Unfortunately, many of the stores have closed and reopened by other businesses, or remained empty.  It's constantly changing.  However, I did see that my favorite antique store, Amazing Grace, is still in business.  It holds several floors of fun shopping.  However, it is not air conditioned.  Kate's Diner is also still open for business and still serving customers (50's style diner).  Almost all of the downtown businesses are closed on Sunday's during the summer (we found the art gallery, a few smaller antique stores, the coffee shop, and a restaurant open).

My only purchase in Marshall, was an antique motel key chain and key.  They had a basket of these, and it was fun to pick one out.


If you ever get the chance to visit Marshall, MI in the summer, be sure to pull into the Hi-Lite.  


As of this year it was still open.  


Their specialty is homemade root beer, served in frosted glass mugs.  


And of course, a large menu of other drive-in foods, including hand dipped onion rings.


The waitresses are not wearing roller skates, but you might just see one wearing a poodle skirt.

 Guess who wants to go on the next trip?  Ha ha! Tiger!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Primrose Escapes

Prim recently found a way to escape the temporary fencing we have up for the goats.  With the wet ground, the larger fencing is not complete yet.  I had been out weeding my garden and I looked up to see her in the barn, up on the milking table.  I hollered for my daughter, but she was no where in sight.

I put her back in the stall, but when I turned around, she was right behind me.  Twice I did this.  Finally, I picked her up and took her in the house, looking for my daughter. 

"Uh, we have a goat problem," I hollered up the stairs.

"Huh?"

"Uh, I kind of have Prim in my arms."
(followed by a room full of laughter)


 (I'm hiding and you can't see me!)

We had to screw a scrap piece of wood to the 2 x 4, to cover a small rip in the fence.  That girl (Prim) can fit through the smallest space in the fence. This poor fence has been through the mill so to speak.  It's torn and badly worn.  When the larger fence is in place, this fencing will be recycled and used to fence around my vegetable garden (to keep the chickens out).  However, do you see Misty?  She's trying to eat the wood we screwed on.

Mmmm!  I'll just take a nibble while I am over here and see what it tastes like.

And more nibbling.

Their fenced in space is too small, and I think Misty is getting bored because she can't get to the tall grass that looks so yummy.

I think this break in the weather should help speed up the building of the new goat fencing.  Then maybe, Misty will stop chewing on the barn.  Then again, the weather forecast states that rain will be here in a few days, along with more 90° weather and humidity.

Friday, July 12, 2013

36 Hours ~ Power is Back On


On Wednesday, we had the worst storm we have had since we've lived here.  The winds were absolutely terrible.  Our electrical service district, along with one other, were the worst hit in the area. I texted my mother and she was also about to head under her house for this storm. It was was that bad.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Homemade Root Beer and Ice Cream

 A few days ago, two of the girls (my 16 year-old and 11 year-old) made a batch of homemade root beer, while I was canning jam.  


Yesterday, we cooled off with delicious homemade root beer floats. I used our goat's milk (and homemade vanilla extract) for the hand churned ice cream too.  Yum!  However, the humidity was so thick I had to take a photo from inside the house (lens was steaming up again).  We ended up bringing our ice cream maker inside, and attaching the electric motor.  At least we had the hand crank, just in case the power went out.  We are still having thunderstorms here. 

I just checked today's forecast - no rain!  Yay!  Let's hope it's correct.  Everything needs to dry up, so a good wind would be nice, and I need to get laundry out today.  I am so thankful for a break in the weather.  I just hope the humidity has let up too.

Garden goodies are still coming in, despite the weather.  I brought in more green beans, sugar snap peas, and a good handful of strawberries.



Note: I purchased a root beer kit (paying under $15.00) for our homemade rootbeer.  We found the kits on sale at our Tractor Supply Company.  You can find the same kit on Amazon also.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rain & Allergies

My cucumbers and peppers are sitting in water.  We continue to get rain, and some times in sparatic, heavy downpours. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Vulture on Display

This was a very interesting moment.  This vulture was sitting like this for a long time, just looking around (with it's wings out).   It was a very dreary, rainy (again) day, so the sky is pretty dark too.


It's rained every day now.  I continue to battle mud, sweat and giant weeds.  I found Queen Anne's Lace growing in my garden, so two flower heads are now in my freezer awaiting more, for some sweet jelly. 

You may enjoy my post a few years ago, for the Queen Anne's Lace Jelly (click on it to read it).


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Roasted Rabbit ~ Keeping Letter Writing Alive


Hubby and I located a son/father business, who basically raise animals for 4-H and so forth.  However, we were given their business card, because they sell a natural feed for both chickens and goats.  He picks up the feed about a little over an hour from here, and sells it to folks from his house.

Friday, July 5, 2013

When the Kids all Move Out & Other Shocking Moments



This is simply for your entertainment, and the fact I do not have one bit of homesteading news or updates to share.  I will be busy today in the kitchen, but you'll probably hear about that soon enough.  The only really funny news is that Hubby has gone rain barrel crazy.   He's taken "preparedness" to a new level.

He bought a 4th rain barrel, and after he planted a few rose bushes last night in the wet weather, he came inside saying he wants yet another one.  And to think for years I've been asking for just one.  The man has gone wild with these.  We now can save 205 gallons of rain water, and that amount's about to go up. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When the kids all move out . . .

. . .I won't find my 9 x 13 glass baking dish "put away" on top of my washing machine (really? eyes rolling, sigh....).

Here's another eye-squinting, nose-wrinkling confusion moment.  I had just put jam in the canning pot, and had walked to my utility room (which has a door across the hallway from a side door to outside).  It was raining pretty good too.  I opened my washer, then went to the basket for clothes.  I could not see out the door from there, when I heard one daughter say "UPS!"  

"It's probably my order from Mountain Rose Herbs," I yell. "Can you get it?"

In a second, the door opens, with both dogs sitting at the door, a box flies in the house and up onto our step into the kitchen, I hear "Delivery!" and the door closes.

I walk into the hall, wide-eyed, and looking at two dogs looking at me wide-eyed, and wondering what just happened.

I go into the kitchen laughing in shock.  

"Did that just really happen?"

Yep. The UPS guy simply opened my door and tossed my box inside and the dogs just sat there.  I think they were as dumbstruck as I was.

I think that story belongs in one of my books I'm writing. Just another reason to keep your doors locked I guess.



Thursday, July 4, 2013

Homemade Italian Dressing with a Dab of Honey


I needed Italian dressing for a steak marinade and did not have any on hand.  I checked my cupboards and made this from scratch.  If you are interested in the recipe, I got it from

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's a Crock Pot Day

It's rained here almost every day for a week now.  Yesterday, was my first chance to weed the garden.  I was only out there for about 1 hour, and Hubby called.  He had to work late.  

This meant, stop weeding, go pick up our youngest who was at a sleepover, come home change clothes, go to the store, come home, make dinner, and change clothes and go back out.  Phew!  Did I just put that all in one sentence?  I think I stayed out there until 8pm.


I woke up to fog, which is much thicker now since I took the first (top) photo.  It rained again last night.  My hair is like a Brillo pad, and my body aches like nothing I've felt before.  Or maybe I have, and have forgotten what it felt like.  You know, like child birth pain?  You feel the pain, then afterwards forget?  I wonder if we suffer garden work like that.

Most of the family has been picking wild black raspberries, and I've been canning jam - 15 jars so far.  The weeds in the garden are starting to look like small trees.  Last night, after pulling the taller weeds, I saw we had a few banana peppers in. I wonder if it will dry up enough today, to get another chance to weed?

Remember my mini weight loss goal for July 4th?  Well that is tomorrow and today I have lost 15 pounds.  I may not lose another pound overnight, but I am thrilled I got this far, considering I got sick.  I'm slowly getting back to myself.

Today is definitely a "crock pot" day, but I need to get busy and make part of my marinade from scratch first.  Then just maybe, hopefully, I can grab a few minutes of peace on the front porch.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Clothes Dryer


Here is a photo of the clothes dryer (drying rack, whatever you want to call it), that my Mom and cousin picked up for me.  They happened to be in the right place and the right time.

 The price tag reads $58.95.

They paid $30.00.  You can tell it's handmade (most likely by Amish), and is about 6 feet tall when put up to it's highest setting.

I love the fact they put these rods at the very bottom for support.  All of my smaller ones (metal and wood) start to wobble side to side after months of use.