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, February 28, 2011

Cooking Up Collards

We grew collard greens, along with other greens, for the first time last summer.  However, the collards were fed to the chickens for additional nutrition and calcium, so it never ended up on the table.

I've cooked Kale in several different ways - Kale chips, as a side, etc.  Collards have a different flavor and I decided to search out recipes that incorparate collards into the recipe vs. as a side.  I thought the kids would like it better.  We tried a recipe from Eating Well, and it was a hit.  I did however, add garden tomatoes, and organic tomato sauce.  Without the sauce, it wasn't very thick nor did it make enough to cover the whole wheat pasta.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Seeds Arriving ~ Heirloom

These are the first of our seed orders to arrive.  One contains heirloom redbud seeds, and the other a runner bean that will have beautiful blossoms.  I can't wait to receive the remainder of this years heirloom vegetable seeds.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Zapping Germs

This week my target cleaning area was my master bedroom.  I didn't do too much in there, but managed to clean the master bathroom.  With all of us sick, with different illnesses these last 2-3 weeks, I wanted to kill the bad germs.

We now keep disinfectant (mostly vinegar/water mixture) to spritz areas that are handled often.  For example, the refrigerator door handles are probably touched the most, next to the keyboard, remotes, and door knobs.  I usually wipe down the not-so-obvious areas too, such as the vacuum sweeper handle, washing machine buttons and door, and desk stapler.  There is one other area I started spritzing clean - my crochet hooks.

It never came to my mind to clean my crochet hooks until now.  If you think about it, we clean our kids toys often, by soaking them in bleach water or other solution to kill germs.  So why not our hobby tools?  I can't believe I didn't think to do it before.

After I cleaned, and was crocheting this afternoon, I could hear the kids watching YouTube music.  I busted out laughing when they shared The Duck Song.  Ha ha ha!  I think you'll like it too:

Another Winter Blast

The wind left areas without any snow piled up, and other areas like our driveway, piled with huge drifts.  You can just about hear all the groans.  Shoveling all this driveway by hand is hard work.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Strawberry - Blueberry Muffins

The muffins were a hit.  I, of course, had to double the recipe.  We still have leftovers today, even after the kids snacked on them, and packed them in their school lunches.  I even think a few of the kids had one for breakfast.

Strawberry - Blueberry Muffins
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, organic
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup fat-free milk, organic
*fresh grated nutmeg to taste (optional)
*Canola oil/ or other organic non-stick spray, or cupcake liners

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray, or line with paper liners.  Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, applesauce, sugar, and eggs.  Add vanilla, blueberries and strawberries.  In a separate bowl, blend flours, baking powder, and salt.  

Alternate mixing the flour mixture and milk, into the oil mixture.

Pour batter into muffin tins. 

Bake 23-30 minutes until golden brown.  Don't forget, these need to cool longer because the fruit inside them will be very hot.  Allow them to cool about 20 minutes before you remove them from the pan.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


While hanging my sheets on the clothesline, several things came to mind.  The peace and quiet out there some how triggers my thoughts into over drive.

I'm already starting to save the waxed liners from boxed cereal.  Those are washed and dried, and cut into squares to line between zucchini pancakes that are frozen.  The arrival of planting season makes me think of all that zucchini we grow, and what I need to be doing with it to save us money on food and cook healthy.

Each year we have learned what we can do better than the last, and prepare for canning, freezing, growing, and saving seeds.  Each year we prepare better than the last, gain knowledge, and eat healthier.

Even though we spent about 4 hours shoveling snow, I was able to get in 2 loads of laundry, make homemade chili, and write a rough draft for a book review. I will share the book review later today or in the next few days, depending on my chores.  I need to write in several journals, updating the amount of wood we used this year, what to prepare for next year and so forth.

Our homemade chili was blessed by a quart bag of frozen garden tomatoes, hormone free ground beef, a few frozen garden cayenne peppers (the only hot pepper I had in the freezer), and lots of the kidney and black beans I cooked up the day before.  I need to make notes in my garden journal to grow more onions and green peppers also.  We tend to cook with those more than last year.  And potatoes also.

Today, the crock pot is filled with onions, sweet potatoes, broth, garlic, spices, and a pork loin roast.  Yum.  The after school and lunch packing snacks will probably be banana bread, strawberry and blueberry muffins and maybe homemade bread.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another Winter Blast ~ Two Shovels and Hard Work

The winds were horrible yesterday, and the slick layer of freezing rain underneath the snow didn't help.  We got our snow.  However, if you live in the country, you get more than 3-5 inches.  This photo from last night doesn't even show the horrible blowing of the snow.

This morning, I started shoveling out this 2 foot drift, that spread out across the middle or our horse shoe shaped drive.  It was probably 12 feet by 8-9 feet by 2 feet deep.  After an hour, I came in to sip some hot coffee and turned the shovels over to two kids for their 1 hour shift.  Rotating the kids, with the 2 shovels we have, I hope to have us dug out.

I started shoveling in the dark, and shoveled right through watching the sunrise this morning.  Although we were not happy to see more snow, and have to shovel more, the dogs were pretty happy to see it.

It's time to go back out and shovel more.  We have a car to dig out too.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bean Baking Day ~ Canned Grape Jelly

We did not get the 4 1/2 inches of predicted snow.  We did, however, get a layer of freezing rain.  You can see it on my clothesline.  The photo is not the greatest.  The wind was horrible this morning, and still is.

Today, I am baking up 2 lbs. of dry kidney beans, and 3 lbs. of dry black beans. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Snow

Yes, we are getting more snow.  They are saying we may get another 4 1/2 inches.  The previous snow has almost melted, making a gushy mess in the yard.  I am almost wondering if I should stone the underside of my clotheslines for convenience year-round.  Then again I could just lay an extra piece of wood down to avoid stepping in the squishy mud.  It's all worth it.  With a large family, not using the dryer has cut down our electric bill tremendously.

Sunday's are a good day to curl up and watch Little House DVD's. . .

Or spend time crocheting Christmas gifts or hope chest blankets . . .

Or sipping tea, coffee, or hot chocolate . . .

Although the snow is now coming down, the chickens enjoying their time out of their coop.  As a result of the recent warmer weather, they have starting laying a few more eggs.

Even the house cats were all fired up last week.  While checking on my e-mail one morning, I kept hearing a crinkle sound.  I forgot about it, and when I stood up to leave my chair, I saw the culprit.  Tiger, my youngest daughter's cat, was carrying a skein of fuzzy yarn through the kitchen.  He looked like a wild tiger carrying his "catch of the day" and was very proud of it.  Jasper, another daughter's cat, took off with a chenille stem flower that my youngest made for me.  It has already been dunked into the water bowl this morning.

I think we'll enjoy a few board games today, a few good books, and a lot of good conversation. 

Pummelo or Pomelo?

We were all surprised to see how this fruit tasted.  It is in season in February, and the kids loved it.  We plan to eat more of this fruit.

This fruit, after it's peeled, pulls away in sections from the center. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sunshine Delight

Getting back to the gym, after being sick, has been great for me.  The sun shining today is always a welcome to my body and soul.

Today, we are trying a new fruit - Pummelo.  It is best for jam and jellies.  It's been fun trying new foods.

I'm still plugging away on another hope chest blanket.  My goal was 2 rows a night, and I've pretty much kept up with that.  It's about 60 inches wide.

Besides reading library books, magazines, and my Bible, I have been working on more articles. 

Items added to my mini "bucket list":  dehydrate eggs, can grape jelly, and add hand towels to the Christmas crochet list.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Weekend Worry

The weekend is here already.  Sheesh.  Where did the week go already?  The snow is starting to melt here, and boy what a mess it is with the dogs.

Even the birds are happy outside.  While I was hanging laundry outside, there was a bird sitting at the very top of an evergreen tree, just singing away.

I managed to write and publish two on-line articles this week.  That is pretty good considering I was sick for a long time and had a lot of house cleaning to catch up on.  I even read through a few magazines, cutting out important articles I wanted to keep.

I just had to cut this one out, regarding anxiety and faith.  This article is now in my daily reading Bible, to remind me that worry is not good for me.  As a mother of many children, it's hard not to worry most days.
I worry about the dogs bringing mud inside on their paws, I worry if the chicken coop has been cleaned, I worry that someone might visit me when I have not cleaned the bathroom yet, and worry just makes me have a bad day overall.  Before I know it, I've put myself in a very bad mood.   When I start to worry about something, I can open my Bible and read Matthew 6:25-30.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bread Baking Day

Today is bread baking day, and not the bread you are probably thinking about.  I grated and froze many bags of zucchini from last year's summer garden, and they bless us with zucchini bread.  Two loaves are already baking as I post this.

Next on the list - banana bread. 

Every time I bake, certain things come to mind.  For example, I added applesauce in place of oil in the first recipe, and it reminded me to can applesauce this coming year.  I now have a "mini" bucket list of items I need to start making from scratch, and a "to-do" list for other things that come to mind. 

I typically use stone ground, preservative free whole wheat for my 1/2 of the white flour.  Each summer I make one or two trips and store it in my freezer.  When I bake, I make notes on my lists, as to what I need to stock up on and what I am running out of.  Each year I can plan it much better than the previous year.

These breads are wonderful for my kids lunch packings.  I can use my own farm fresh eggs also.  It makes a much healthier snack at home too.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Self-Reliant Vehicle Repair

My current van is once again needing repairs.  Last year, we replaced gaskets and head gaskets ourselves, saving us several thousand dollars.  However, that's not all.  With constant leaking problems, windows not sealed properly, broken windshield wiper blades, replacing of the horn, replacing of the electric unit that controls the movement of the driver's seat, and many other repairs  -  all repairs completed without hiring someone.

We'd be in a pickle if my husband did not have the knowledge of repairing our vehicles vs. hiring someone. It is very important to learn how to make repairs and continue to be self-reliant.  I plan to spend more time learning about changing the oil and other repairs.

Many times in the past our vehicle repairs required the help of family and friends.  In return, we help them when they need help.  Just the pioneers did with wagon repairs, family needs, or farm help, we help each other.

Last night we needed the help of several people.  One with a truck and equipment to tow the van from a town 10 miles away, then tow it to another family member's house, and then back home.  The part replaced was easily found at the parts store, so the only cost to us was time, the cost of the part, and seeking help from friends and family.

Although I keep telling my husband a horse would come in handy, he keeps reminding me that they need maintenance also.  Either way, I'm voting for the good ol' horse and buggy.  It seems like owning a vehicle robs people of their money on a constant basis.  Add up the cost of mandatory insurance, tags, plates, gas, oil, coolant, parts, and everything else, and you have enough to send one or two kids to college.

Things are not made like they used to be.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Back in the Groove

I am feeling much better now, and even took time to write 2 rough draft articles yesterday.  I watched the sunrise this morning also.

Although I woke up to a cold wood burning stove, I am getting the temperature slowly back up.  I am getting laundry on the racks and outside on the line.  The sun is shining very bright today, and makes the day more pleasant.  The cats must be enjoying the sun too.  They are bee-bopping from window to window watching everything this morning.  The dogs are fighting over the sun spots that are shining into the living room.

My husband surprised me for Valentine's Day, by cleaning the bathroom the night before.  He not only cleaned it, but removed everything that was on the floor to mop it (trash can, basket etc).  That was a real treat, considering I had not felt up to cleaning it while I was sick.

One of my daughter's also surprised me with a handmade card. She slipped it into my bathroom before she left for school, and it was a wonderful way to start the morning.

Thanks to my mother, sending me a text, I was able to take a few gorgeous pictures of a recent sunset.  I cannot wait to have a better camera, but this one is pretty good.

I love the colors in this sunset.  If I had not gone out right after my mother texted me, I would have missed it.  Shortly after I took the photos, the colors disappeared for the night.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

(Borrowed from

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day Preparations

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I will not be buying manufactured Valentine's Day cards.  We make ours homemade each year, and this year, one child has been asked to make a box for her cards.  Visit by S.C.R.A.P. blog to see photos her her personally created Valentine's Day box.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day School Parties

The Top Five Budget Friendly Valentine's Day Class Party Treats
(Click on link to read)

Serving Up Soup ~ Cutting the Spending Down Even More

We cut our food costs down this winter.  We still include meats and fish in our diet, but have now replaced more than half of our consumption, with dry beans.  We did this by making soup more often.

Many people typically serve another food item with soup, and feel soup is not filling for a meal by itself.  However, by replacing the meat with extra beans, such as kidney, pinto, black and other beans, we made many filling soups.

The trick is to buy the beans dry, bake them up in large batches, and freeze them.  When you cook, you can simply take out what you want without using canned beans (which typically have more sodium). 

We also started making our soups/stews without buying broth.  We either make it ourselves, or flavor our soups with onions and fresh mushrooms.   However, for this to be cost effective, we also froze many garden vegetables, and dried home grown herbs.  If I see organic/free range chicken broth marked in clearance, I may sometimes purchase it and cook with it right away also.

Homemade Granola

I have always wanted to get started at making my family a healthy, homemade granola.  What prevented me, was the cost of healthier foods.  Finally, I made it.  We love it.  The only problem now is I am out of honey.  I made this batch with organic cranberries, flax seed, and lots of healthy ingredients.  It took a while to collect the ingredients when they were on sale, but it was worth it.  We only buy raw honey from local people now.  The nice part about making this, is you can pretty much mix it up with what you like.  I was out of walnuts, and had a small bag of pecans in my freezer.  It worked nicely in our granola.

Baking the granola was all I could muster up.  We are slowly recovering from sickness around here, and the antibiotics are not doing so well with my stomach.    

Monday, February 7, 2011

More sickness

I'll be back to post in a few days or so.  Just got a text that my son is throwing up, and they are waiting for him to feel a bit better before driving him back home.  That's just about everyone sick right now.

. . . next post to share how we are keeping the grocery budget lower than last year.

The kids got "notered" by their sister

How cute and caring is that?  She left this note on the computer for the other kids.

Clothesline is shoveled once again

No sun - no problem.  The wind is all I need.  And a few willing kids.

More Peas Please

Our goal was to make sure our dogs had a healthy weight balance, by substituting 1/2 their dry dog food with peas and carrots.  The results are wonderful.  Not only are they loving the change, but they now go from their own bowl, to the other bowls in search for any leftovers.

This morning "topped the cake" with results.   We found one of the cats sneaking peas from the bowl right after we poured them in, and before the dogs could even get to the bowls.

My daughter told me that if your dog is overweight by even 8 pounds it could cause havoc on their health.  In our efforts to create a healthier diet for them,  we have drastically cut down on our dry dog food costs.  I can't say that making our own food is out of the realm of future possibilities either.

Journal Junkie ~Organizing Junkie

My spiral notebook, a journal for homemade Christmas gift ideas is over flowing.  I had to move it to a reused binder from the kids.  I reused their tab dividers also.  Now, I have patterns, craft ideas, recipes and more, nicely organized.  Of course I could simply add a file to my file drawer, but it would soon become a mess.  Now, everything is marked and there is a nice slot for my original "Christmas Journal."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Etsy Giveaway

Visit for a giveaway.  Visit before or by Feb. 11th!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Surviving storm and sickness

My husband flagged down a guy driving a truck with a plow, and we finally got plowed out.  It wasn't without a few words of encouragement either.  They guy looked at the 5 foot drift covering the center of the U-shaped drive, and said he couldn't do it.  Well, he did, and we are glad he took what little amount we could pay him.

I was able to get out and get myself to the doctor, which would not have been possible without my mother.  I would have just crawled back into bed, again after day 5, but didn't.  It's a good thing too.  I have a big, honkin' sinus infection.

I was smart enough to bring along a driver, my son who is now wishing I was well again (ha ha ha!), and a lap sized crochet project.  There was a long wait in the waiting room, and I crocheted half of my first market bag.  I finished it today.

The kids, so far, have been pretty helpful.  Although another kiddo is congested today.  During the 3 days off from school, one of the girls baked Old Fashioned Butterscotch Refrigerator cookies.  The recipe is in the following book.  I had lots of sofa/bed time to read through my large stack of library books.

I am enjoying this book.  There is much more than recipes in it - poems and more.

Thankfully, the 4 pounds of dry pinto beans I cooked up have supplied us with many meals.  Since I am still not feeling well, I made a beef-less stew, by adding more pinto beans to it.  The cayenne peppers we froze from last summer's garden, are dicing up nicely for this stew also.  And of course, the tomatoes, and other garden goodies went into it, making it a healthy, low-cost, and delicious meal.

It's been nice to see the sun shine outside also.  Although, my medication states that I cannot be in direct or artificial sunlight (along with a list of warnings).  It makes you wonder what they use to make the stuff.

What do you mean I shouldn't be up here?!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow, Snow and More Snow

I don't care what you say, I'm NOT going in!