Pioneer Woman at Heart

One Flourishing, Frugal and Fun Family!

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~

Monday, January 31, 2011

House full of sick people ~ Storm on the way

We have all been sick these last few days.  We have been soothing sore throats with hot teas.

Before I became worse, or had a house full of sick ones, I was able to crochet a new dishcloth pattern.  I used scrap Christmas colors for next Christmas.

And, crocheted a simple (sc, ch1, sk 1 st, sc) scarf for one of the kids, with yarn I had on hand.  I also cranked out a rough draft article.

My husband, even though it was not in the spending budget, allowed my 11 year-old to pick out yarn for her crocheted, hope chest blanket.  

What is so amazing, is that she picked 2 yarn colors I have leftover from another blanket (she had no idea), and only one additional color to buy.  I decided, since I am not feeling so good, to use the same pattern as the scraf, and I created this rotation of colors on my own.  I will edge it in orchid when it is completed.

Thankfully, my son ran errands, and is helping around the house, because I am still sick.  Two more kids are home, and a storm is on the way.  He's been very helpful in stocking up water (freezing pipes), supplies for sickness and more.  He's even hanging the sheets out on the line.  The wind is strong, and I felt our sheets, which carry germs, needed to be washed.  

 (19°F / Feels like 4°F)
I'm getting yelled at to get my "germs" off the computer now....they are predicting 12-15 inches of snow.  Who knows how much we will actually get.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cleaning House ~ What's your muse?

What inspires you to start and finish cleaning your home?  When I write, I have a few muses that pump my thoughts with ideas.  When I clean, I typically have music on.   My kids are motivated to clean if they are allowed to have a friend over (house rule: you invite, you clean).  Prayer and inspirational quotes are also motivating. 

Today, I was motivated by a note my daughter left me.  We often "noter" each other and it inspires up to get through the day with a positive attitude.  I'll add a photo later for you to see the note she left on my bed this morning.

Yesterday, believe it or not, I was so tired and stressed, I actually stopped everything and perched myself on the couch.  Only a few minutes later, I was snuggled up with one dog and sleeping.  I am not one to nap, but I woke up revived and ready to start dinner.  Amazing how a little break can help you feel.

When you are under stress and you feel you are at your limit, read something fun and take a break. You never know, you may fall asleep and get the rest your body needs anyway.

You May Also Enjoy:

The Secret to Cleaning the Bathroom

I am currently working on improving the above article.  On that particular site, writers have one offer (and only one) to rewrite each article to improve it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dishcloth Swap

Here is a dishcloth I received in a dishcloth swap.  I was also tickled to receive a surprise, or two, of a notepad and an ornament.  How cool is that?

Reducing Pet Food Costs ~ Peas Please

If your family is watching every penny spent, then you are like our family.  We have noticed that dry dog food has caused one of our dogs to become slightly overweight.  Even though they are walked 3 or more times a day and are taken out to play fetch, and run and run and of them remains a bit overweight.

My daughter, after she participated in a job shadow at our local veterinarian, found out that we can simply replace 1/2 of our dog's food serving with vegetables, such as peas and carrots.

We not only noticed a healthier dog, but found out that the other dogs were sneaking over to his food bowl and eating the peas too.  We have reduced our pet food costs, and proved our pets with a healthier diet.  We grew peas and carrots in the garden last year, and plan to grow more, now that our pets are enjoying our homegrown foods as well.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Relationships with your kids

I have a child home sick today.  Although I know I need to wash laundry, hang it outside, vacuum, sweep the kitchen, wash leftover dishes, feed animals, and start mass cleaning on my bedroom, I know I need to tend to my child.  Did I mention my writing time also?

I think the hardest part women at home have, is putting everything aside and putting full, and complete attention, to a child.  When they are sick, it's easier, because our instincts are to care for our children, but what about other days?

Creating better relationships with our children is so important, especially now that the media provides easy access to areas on the Internet, television, and cell phones that kids should not be exposed to.   Even being in school can be a place where a child learns or sees things they should be prepared to say "no" to.

Kids often reflect on their parents behavior as well.   I realized that when my 9 year-old came home from school one day.  She said the teacher asked a question in regards to a book they were reading.  The boy, a character in the book, was hurt messing around when he should have been working.  My daughter's response to the teacher's questions, were "My Mom says work before play."  Even when we think they aren't watching or listening to us, they are.

You may also enjoy reading:  How to Create Family Traditions

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Day to Celebrate

I finally finished my 16 year-old's blanket.  She is soon to turn 17 and it will be part of her hope chest.  However, because the upstairs is not heated, she is getting her blanket today.

Here is a close up of the stitching 

I have one more child to crochet a blanket for, and then I can start on a bedspread for my own bed.  I just need to decide on pattern and color.

Bean Baking Day ~ Putting Food By ~ What to do with the crumbs at the bottom of your cereal box

My largest crock pot will cook up 3 pounds of dry black beans nicely.  For my family, I bake them up with chopped onions, salt and pepper. 

Once these are baked (pre-soaked the night before) I cool them.  They are frozen for future meals.  Some may end up in tonight's dinner.  We are having a lot of fun searching out healthier meals using dry beans.  We recently used the last of the black beans I had in the freezer.

Yesterday, we made Pumpkin Black Bean Soup, and found it delicious.  It's got a spicy~sweet combo going on.  We will be keeping that recipe.  Although the recipe calls for canned tomatoes, I dumped in a quart sized bag of tomatoes I had frozen from last summer's garden.  I skipped the sour cream, and heavy cream.  I simply used 1 cup of organic milk.  For the chicken broth, I found organic, free range chicken broth on clearance for $1.49 for 4 cups (or you could make your own).

Here are other recipes, either from magazines such as Clean Eating, or from on-line that we revamped with garden goodies (simply swap out store bought with home grown, and use baked dry beans):

Chicken Black Bean and Avocado Wraps (Clean Eating, nutrition)

Mexican Pasta

Black Bean Pasta

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

And don't forget you can add black beans to your egg dishes for breakfast too.  Yum!

It was perfect for a cold day, along with the banana bread I baked up.  Two loaves used up 6 rotten bananas, and my plan was to bake a third and freeze it.  However, my large family has snagged most of the bread to pack in school lunches tomorrow.

Yum!  We made with by cutting the flour in half and using half wholewheat from the flour mill, and 1/2 white flour.  I like the recipe we use for this, because it only requires 1 egg, and during winter our chickens lay less eggs.

Banana Bread (nuts optional)
3/4 cup wholewheat flour (preservative free)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup sugar, organic
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda 
1 cup of crushed leftover wheat breakfast cereal (optional, a way to use of the crumbs in the box)
1/3 cup chopped nuts
1 egg, farm fresh slightly beaten
1/4 canola oil or 1/4 cup organic applesauce
2 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour a bread (loaf) pan, or spray the inside with a non-stick organic olive oil spray.  Stir together flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, wheat cereal, and nuts.  Combine egg, oil, water, mashed banana and vanilla in a separate bowl.  Add all the dry ingredients at once to the wet, and stir only until moistened.  Pour into your bread pan, and bake from 50-55 minutes or until bread is tested done with a toothpick (pressed into center of bread, if it comes out clean it is done).  Let the bread cool in the pan about 15 minutes and then remove.  Cool completely before slicing.  

Note:  The wholewheat flour tends to dry the bread more so than the white, so by eliminating the extra crushed cereal, you may find it a bit softer.  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Freezing Weather is Great for Baking Days

I'm taking advantage of some rotten bananas, some extra whole wheat flour (from the stone mill) that was in the freezer, and baking a double batch of banana bread.

Freezing temperatures, down to zero, are perfect days to do some baking.  It helps heat up my unheated kitchen, and we have a healthy meal or snack.

While the bread is baking, I can write, and enjoy the delicious aroma that works its way through the house.  Oh, and I can stay warm too.

Retreat at Home

Winter weather keeps most people indoors.  After a long week of work, whether it's a paid job or non-paid job, couples tend to burned out emotionally and physically.  The recession also kept many people such as ourselves, from taking vacations.  We did go tent camping in late summer last year, and had a blast for $17.00/night.  We cooked over the campfire, and hiked.  It was a retreat of a different kind.

I was reading the newspaper they other day and read about a couple who placed a cabin on their 1 acre of land for a place to get away from it all.  I have to admit, I was jealous.  I would love to place a hideaway on our property and use it for a personal retreat, or a mini-home vacation with my husband.  I think it's time to add a it to the family wish list.

You may also enjoy reading:  How to have a weekend getaway in your home

Friday, January 21, 2011

Making Progress ~ Flyday Guide to Cleaning and Organizing

This week I focused on the bathroom, although we did go back to the kitchen and clean light fixtures (badly needed it! Blech.).  I tackled one drawer in the bathroom, and lined it with scrap wallpaper that was simply taking up space in my craft closet.


After (drawer lined with scrap wallpaper also)

Now...if you asked what I wrote today, I'd have to tell you zippo.  Ugh.  I need an inspirational "coach" for daily writing, as Flylady is with cleaning and organizing.  They work together for me, because I can't sit and write when my house is a mess.

In search for daily writer's inspiration, I found these Web sites:

Although I found these sites very encouraging, I would have loved to find a Web site that has fun daily writing goals for writers.  For example, Monday: write in a journal, write a letter to someone and mail it, or similar.  Sometimes I get into a rut with a fiction story, and just need inspiration to write something else, so I can move on. 

I can rest easy, as far as the bathroom goes.  But what's on the cleaning agenda for next week?  

.  .  .  . the master bedroom.

It's a "noter" day

I had a nice surprise today.  I came to my computer to find a "noter" from my youngest daughter.  A "noter" from me is in her lunch bag already.  Her note reminds me to take time to write today.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Comfortable or Not Comfortable?

Meet Sadie.  It appears as if she is dreaming of a nice soft pillow to rest her head.  Sound asleep and drooling.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Laundry Day ~ Just an ordinary day

So many people have asked me "do they really dry" and I have answered "yes they do."  If there is wind, they dry completely.  If there is a small amount of wind, they dry almost 90% and then it only takes about 5 minutes to dry them in front of the wood burning stove (on drying racks).  I have not yet used my dryer.  It's there if I need it, but I have not needed it yet. 

This is only one of my lines outside.  The other line was drying blankets that we keep in boxes for the barn cats.  I do put the laundry out early, so it has more time to dry.  It's all a matter of a little "hard work" and letting go of convenience and spending money for convenience.

I am truly a pioneer at heart, with a urge to learn surviving without.  Do you know how to dry your laundry if your power was eliminated?

When I wrote the above article (click on highlighted link in above paragraph) on drying laundry without a dryer, I wrote it from true experience.  We have 2 drying racks and one, 5-line retractable indoor clothes line.  The next step is to add lines in the garage, and a washing tub such as this one:
(photo borrowed from Lehman's)
We learned to survive without a dryer, but have you learned to survive without a washing machine?  We go through a lot of dirty clothes around here, especially in the summer with the garden work.  We have however, taught the kids to reuse bath towels to lower the amount of dirty clothes, and the amount of washing time.  Simply hang the bath towel to dry and reuse again.  Are you not clean when you get out of the shower?  Again, it's a matter of living without convenience and thinking frugal and smart.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Embroidery ~ Relaxing and Fun

I am reading the diaries from pioneer women who crossed the U.S. in the 1800's and it's been interesting and amazing.  Many women took extra needles and thread with them and traded with Indians for food.  Embroidery work, on hankies and other items were also given as gifts.  In my quest to embroider, learn more, and improve my skills, I have completed several projects.  Here are photos of my progress so far:

Here is my first embroidery sampler (posted before)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Books ~ Decluttering and Reducing

In the midst of cleaning through the house with flylady, I have discovered many books that can be donated to different organizations.  I am not only helping myself stay sane, but giving those extra books to others, who can benefit from them.

Here are several ideas on what to do with your unwanted books or books that can no longer be read, but can be put recycled into something new:  Ideas for Books

Sharing More Good Books ~ Wild Game and Goats

I found this book at the library.  It's amazing.  Full of recipes for many different types of wild game, including dove, duck, moose, elk, frog legs, cougar, coot, buffalo, quail and even raccoon.  Alligator is not left out of this book either.  It's been interesting reading the recipes for bear, grouse, porcupine, pigeon, pheasant, lynx, javelina, ground hog, goat, and so much more.  It's amazing how people survived by trapping these types of wild game for food.

I just received my guide to goats, from the library.  I'll be starting to research the caring for dairy goats.

Laundry Soap Making Day

I am making another 5 gallon bucket of laundry soap today.  It's been days since I have written anything, other than an e-mail (ha ha!) and my blog.   As long as I can buy zote soap, borox and washing soda, I'll never buy bottled or boxed store bought laundry soap again.  It's been a huge savings in our lives.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Writing Thank You Notes

I was astonished that a recent swagbucks survey showed that 60% of people (who entered the survey) said they do not send a written thank you note for Christmas/Hanukkah presents.  Really?!

Is this a long forgotten part of proper etiquette that people have forgotten?  In my opinion, I think that by teaching our children to write thank you notes, we are going well beyond helping them learn appreciation, and being thankful.  We are also teaching them writing habits, creative writing, and to acknowledge (and appreciate) the gift giver's extended hand.  It teaches kids to be caring and loving.  I'm amazed that so many people do not write thank you notes. 

Even a simple piece of construction paper can be created into the most amazing thank you note.  I have one on my S.C.R.A.P. blog that my sister made using an empty M & M wrapper.  Here is a photo of her most recent thank you note.  It is not only extremely creative, it is frugal and full of personality and love.

"Thanks a Million" is the theme for this thank you note:
It is a piece of construction paper, folded to create a money wallet, and stapled to hold the shape.  Inside the wallet is fake money, made from more construction paper.  Each "bill" contained a personal thank you note from each gift recipient.  How cool is that? 

Here are creative ideas for what to write in a thank you note.

"Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone."  ~G.B. Stern

"Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel."  ~Author Unknown

"Every time we remember to say “thank you”, we experience nothing less than heaven on earth.”
~Sarah Ban Breathnach

Taking Time for Myself ~ Good Books

I am absolutely loving this book.  I found out that this is volume 2 and there are many more to read.  If you want to read diaries of women who traveled across the U.S. in covered wagons you will enjoy this book.

 I ran out of dandelion root that I dug up over the summer, so the tea I made today was using a dandelion teabag.  I love a good cup of tea with a good book.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Steel-cut Oats

I'm sharing our favorite steel-cut oats recipe.  It's a great way to start the day, or a healthy after school snack for kids.

Healthy Start

My days are so short anymore, especially with having to restock firewood, hanging the laundry outside, and other chores that I decided it was time to start getting back in shape.  It's not a "new year" thing for me.  Today was day 3 in going back to the gym to work out.  I have to say, it wasn't as hard as I thought, considering I had been splitting wood by hand and other work around here. 

If I want to be a better writer, I need to have better health.  We hit the gym at 5am this morning.  This means we preset the coffee pot for 4:30am so I can down a cup of coffee and a banana.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dog Tales

 Meet Jesse (aka Jesse James because he used to steal shoes and chew up flip flips)

Hilarious!  I've seen our smaller dog drop toys right on top of my one daughter's school book bag, but this is so funny.  Right before the kids go to school, they get wound up and start bringing toys to their owners.  Each child has a dog or cat that is theirs and the three older ones each have a dog.  When my 8th grader came home the other day, she came inside laughing.  She was holding a dog toy that her dog had dropped into her bag while it was hanging on the back of a chair.  She found it in her bag while digging through it on the bus ride home.  I guess he really wanted to play fetch.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Making Do ~ Using it Up

To help provide lunch snacks for the kids, I baked banana bread two days in a row, using organic bananas.
I used some whole wheat flour I purchased from the stone mill, and mixed it half and half with the white.  I also had about 5 sun dried apricots leftover, so I chopped those up and added them to the bread.  It was pretty tasty.

Today, I am using a ham bone from the holidays, and making soup.  I'm taking several items from the freezer that I froze over summer (from the garden).  It sure smells good!

For dessert I dug through my cupboards and used one can of canned sweet potatoes to make a pound cake.  I didn't have the orange juice it called for, but made it anyway.  The chickens have supplied us with some eggs this week.

My daily reading chair has moved from the front porch, to the back yard, and now to the living room.
This is my favorite place to crochet, read my Bible, and write.  Today's it's a perfect chair to view the beautiful snow we are getting today.

I've been crocheting a few dishcloths in this chair.  Here are are few pictures of some of them.

I'm using up whatever yarn I have.  As for my cleaning updates, I am moving on the kitchen (gulp!) area next week.  I'm not sure I'm up for that yet, as our family computer is in the kitchen and that area is a mess right now.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cleaning Up ~ Good Start to the New Year

It is funny how I thought that cleaning the living room would be a piece of cake.  It's been very productive and I found my lost Writer's Market Guide I've been looking for too.  In fact, I found to antique candle holders, which should be hanging on the wall. 
I bought these in an antique store in Michigan a few years ago, and they were tucked away in my breakfast bar.  Speaking of that.  I also found two new (bought on clearance) photo frames that should have been used by now.  I not only got rid of the broken, plastic frames, but put the photo's into the new picture frames, and added "buy 2 more frames" to my shopping "wish list."

I can't decide whether I should keep the coffee pot collection or do away with it yet.  I've had it for several years now.
What do you think?  Keep or get rid of it?  The kids say keep it, but it does collect dust in our country home.

So far, I've donated 3 bags of movies (DVD, VHS) and books to our library, a box of clothes and a garbage bag of used shoes to Goodwill, along with a bag of unwanted stuffed animals, two pads of partially used teacher stickers from homeschooling got taken to school for a teacher, 2 bags of clothes were donated to the school's "closet" for students in need, and two books given away.  I'd say I've started the year on a good note.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Putting it all away

The tree is completely down, the decorations are all packed away, and the tree skirt is folded and packed.  It is hard to believe that the year of 2010 went so fast.  When one of the kids asked me what my resolutions were, and I didn't have any to share.

By her asking me, I became motivated to hunt for my journal I keep specifically for goals and resolutions.  Remember, I'm a journal junkie.  I not only found it, but found another one I used for short stories.  Now I have something to read over tomorrow.  It could be just the source to motivate my writing.

I have to admit that writing on-line can quickly burn a person out.  It's requires a massive quantity of articles for a small income.  Did I mention small?  I'm ready to move on to bigger pastures. 

Putting everything away reminded me to "put away" all the negative memories and keep them put away. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

First Day of the New Year

There's nothing better than sitting around in my pajamas, doing nothing but whatever I feel like, and enjoying leftovers from New Year's Eve.

We make our "chex mix" a bit different, and use Crispix cereal.  I was so lucky to have coupons for the cereal this year.  The cereal is not cheap.  This is a tradition for our family that I carried over from childhood.  We are fighting over the leftovers so I hid it earlier in the day. He he he!  They are already asking where I put it.  Ha ha ha! Around here you have to hide it if you want it later.