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~

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Garlic, Lemon Balm, and a Toad

What a combination to write about too.  First, I decided to add more fresh garlic in my diet and found this delicious salad.  I had a few of the kids try it, as the rest of them had no interest in trying it.

Southwestern Quinoa and Chickpea Salad
(From The Doctors Book of Food Remedies, By Selene Yeager and the Editors of Prevention Health Books)
1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cups water
4 tsp. olive oil
1 cup rinsed and drained canned chickpeas
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. salt
Place the quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse well with cold water.  Drain and transfer to a medium saucepan.

Add the water and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender but still slightly crunchy.  If all the water has not been absorbed, drain it through a fine sieve.
Place the quinoa in a medium bowl.  Drizzle with the oil and toss to mix.  Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro, cumin, garlic, and salt.  Toss thoroughly to mix.

Makes 4 servings.  Tip:  Try baking dry chickpeas ahead of time.
I planted cumin for the first time ever this year.  I see only a few came up, but we had a very strange start to our summer.  The abundance of rain, followed by no rain, caused some odd growing in the plants.

I cut some lemon balm yesterday.  I will dry it to add to a tea for my sore throat.  I am also considering finely chopping some fresh lemon balm, and adding it to our Lemon Wild Black Raspberry Muffins.  

Oh....and for the "toad" part of today's post . . .

Check this out.  A toad has made his home in my redbud tree pot.  We removed him, and later in the day, he was right back in the pot.

Look just above the word "Pioneer" on the photo.  You can see his head barely sticking out of the dirt.  You may have to click on the photo to enlarge it to really see it. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Working With Hands

Despite not feeling myself yet, and still having laryngitis, I made Wild Black Raspberry Jam - 7 pints.  I could have simply told them to freeze the berries, but I was destined to have more jam this summer than last.  Last year I made jelly with the berries, but it requires a lot more berries.

If you have never picked wild berries, you have no idea how much work it is.  My son went out there, with a sweat jacket on (to fight off prickers  and mosquitoes) in 80 degree weather, and picked a quart by himself.  I didn't take a photo of them, but they are smaller than what you buy in the store. Much smaller.  After he came in, my husband went back out with two of the girls and brought more in.

I had 8 cups of wild black raspberries, and there are more out there yet.  I lost my jelly recipe, so I still need to make grape, candy apple and other jellies, to re-stock our supply.

I cannot wait to have a root cellar.  We do not have a basement in this old farm house either.  Storage is a problem for this sort of thing.  Then there is the septic and the buried propane tank.  If we keep this place, it will be interesting as to where we dig for the root cellar.   The couple that originally built this old farm house did not have kids.  It was simply the two of them, thus no root cellar.

After canning the jam, I retreated to my bed to sleep off the allergy medications - blech!  Then I somehow managed to finish off my very first Granny Square hand towel.  This was meant to be placed in my "store" for sale, but I loved it so much it went right into my bathroom.  I plan to add some to the kitchen too.

And speaking of "hands" and work, my daughter came in form the chicken coop.  She has been introducing the barred rocks and Lola (tetratint) to the red hens.  

With two roosters for each group of hens, they don't get along in the coop.  We talked about letting our other rooster roam free, but the kids all squawked about his safety at night.  So, they volunteered to place a red hen in with the others ever night and watch them.  

The other day, while they were all outside free ranging, we kept hearing the roosters crow.  They were having a "crow off" and crowing back and forth.  Wish we got it on video.

To our surprise, on June 27, 2011, the barred rocks/Lola started laying eggs.  We got our first two from them, and they are smaller of course. 

I'm glad we got the different chickens, even though it's a tedious task to get them to get along.  It's nice to look out and see them roam.  One day, we actually had a driver stop on the 2-lane country highway, and watch them peck the ground.  They were intrigued at Mazda, and his brilliant colors.

You can't really see the gorgeous green in his tail feathers, but he's a pretty handsome rooster.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Redbud Trees from Seed

Here is one of the two redbud seeds.  I see that another one has sprouted up in this container.  Other than these two larger ones, I have about 5 more that have sprouted up.  This has been a nice experience, and can't wait to see them as full size trees.

Growing trees from seeds has been on the 100 things to do list.  If you can't decide what to put on your list this summer (or for the year), here is a fun Web site with 52 projects:
The Original 52 Projects

Although my allergies have me down, I did step outside yesterday to blow bubbles with the kids.  I didn't actually have to "blow" since the wind took care of that.  It's a good thing, considering I'm having trouble breathing.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Biscuits and Herbs ~ And Another Project

If you enjoyed our family's favorite biscuit recipe, you may try adding chopped fresh herbs to the dough next time.  We love adding chopped rosemary for a fun flavor.  There are so many ways you can flavor them.

We have not yet used our telescope for our star gazing.  The clouds have taken over.  Tonight might be a good night.

And as if I have all the time in the world, I have started another project.  I may have to learn how to make a comfrey salve yet.  

My knuckles are pretty sore from crocheting, knitting, and holding books.  As soon as my allergies give me a break, I will be back to the garden for picking peas, lettuce and weeding the flower beds.

I purchased 5 heirloom Painted Lady Runner beans, and all five have come up.  They will have blossoms on them, and that is why they are planted in the flower/herb beds. 

And the Bee Balm I planted a few years ago, is finally going to have flowers this year.

Although I didn't take a photo, I have 2 of the heirloom redbud trees doing very nicely.  The first ones were flooded out by the rains we had.  However, a few more seeds have started to sprout.  They are still small, so it will be a few years yet, but we have never planted trees from seeds before. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bad Weather? Bad Allergies?

It's official.  I blame the weather.  I think my migraines are about lined up with thunderstorms, and I am so sick with cough, sore throat, laryngitis, trouble breathing, watering eyes and so forth. Here's an article that pretty much tells about it.

Good for the garden, but miserable for me.  And I didn't need to read that if you are over weight, it's harder on your lungs - ugh.  Even more reason to get the extra fat off.

Knitting Progress

There is an advantage to being home sick (horrible allergies) in bed - endless hour of crocheting and knitting.
I don't know how my youngest daughter sweet talked me into knitting her a scarf, but she did.  This scarf has doubled it's length since I took the photo.  The first trial scarf, I did in scrap brown yarn, was taken apart and put away for another project.  I have to say that this one is turning out better and with a prettier yarn.

Now....if I could just finished the crocheted blankets, the hand towel, and ..... and .... and .... 

It's all good!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

100 Things to Do ~ Summer List ~ Star Gazing and More

Blogger is experiencing problems, so I am not able to load any photos right now (and this is happening to many other people right now too).

We decided to blow the dust off of our telescope, drop in a brand new battery, and read over the manual again.  It's a bit cloudy today, so we may not get to star gaze tonight, but hopefully soon.

Star gazing is on my "100 things to do this summer" list.  We've participated in many star gazing nights, and have visited many planetariums in our lifetime.  I've checked out a field guide, from the library, relating to the stars also.

It's crochet mania day here also.  I've had 2 blankets (one is a throw), on my "to-do" list for a few weeks.  I can easily get sucked into new projects, and forget the ones I started. 

Added about 4 inches to blanket #1

Added 4 rows to blanket #2 (much larger)

I have also crocheted wagon wheel coasters for July 4th, in red, white and blue.  Look for photos soon, at my on-line store:  Pioneer Patchwork Homespun

When blogger gets the "bugs" out of their system, I will try to load photos of the two blankets, our star gazing night, and more. 

Update:  as you can see, I am now able to load the photos. :) Yea!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Biting Flies

Finally!  I found an article for a solution to repel biting insects, including flies.  Here is the link to share with you all.  My eye balls about popped out after reading that there is a 190-proof grain alcohol.  Wow!  That's some dangerous stuff there.  

We have been using our homemade oil mixture, for a tick repellant,  on our dogs for a week or so.  So far, it is working.  We are also putting a dab of apple cider vinegar in their water bowl, and that is keeping the fleas off of them.  So far they have not had fleas on them.  This has kept our pets healthier and we have saved almost $200.00/month on pet meds.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Excerpts from a Journal Junkie

from the Garden Journal . . .

     planted about 30 Kohlrabi and 7 cabbage plants.  Spaghetti squash and pumpkins have sprouted.  Sugar snap peas need picked.  Looks like we lost one more rhubarb plant.   Planted 12 zucchini plants after tilling up the seeds that never came up - first year ever for that.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sad Report for On-line Earnings ~ Rising Electric Costs

After eHow removed their writer's compensation program, I lost one of the highest revenue earning opportunities I had.  
Bukisa, a while back, hooked their revenue earnings to anyone's Google adsense account.  When they could not get my account to "hook up" and stopped replying to my inquiries, I removed my articles from their site also.  And that leaves me with  Last month, my earnings dropped about 75% from the previous month, and absolutely no earnings for June so far.  That leaves me with one site - Helium.

I will be looking at other sites now, and looking into other freelance sources of income.  With my income down, I must search out ways to lower our costs even more. 

I have gotten our electric bill down to $64.00 before, but it has yet to get that low again.  I'm not sure why, other than it could be the water pump kicking on to water the garden, and the oven from baking bread.

When I say $64.00 for our bill, the actual amount of usage cost is about 1/2 of that.  The other half is:

$4.00 - Customer Charge (what for?  I have no idea)
$35.64 - Distribution Related Component (again, for what?)
and then there are cost recovery charges and then....and then....after all of that....the usage cost.

However, on my current bill, I read:

"The Public Utilities Commission of ***** in Case ****** approved a DSE2 (what??) charge of 0.2008 cents per kWh.  Effective May 18, 2011.

Ironically, this goes into effect during the months when most people run air conditioning.   It would be nice if they could put it in terms we could all understand, because I have no idea what the DSE2 stands for.

We have the highest electric in our county.  The absolute highest, and it's really getting out of control.  We are seriously looking into a wood burning stove for the kitchen.  And it's not out of the realm for us to hook propane to the stove vs. electric also.  Although those costs are rising also.  So again, we are back to the wood burning cook stove.

I have found 3 appliances that we can unplug when not in use.  It may help cut back that increase we've been slapped with.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Seriously Mom!

"Did Mom just put lettuce in that pillow case?" screamed my oldest daughter in shock."Seriously Mom?"

Yes I did.  I just learned that an old pillow case works great for a "salad spinner."  It won't do well for fruit, but for our homegrown, freshly picked lettuce, swiss chard and spinach, it did.

If the kids thought I was nuts a long time ago, they are in few more shocks. Ha ha ha!

Excerpts from a Journal Junkie

from the craft journal . . .
     taught myself to knit, and taught two of the girls.  Worked more in my "possibilities" journal, and finished a DIY craft article.

from the garden journal . . .
     beets and swiss chard seeds have sprouted.  I can't believe the size of my heirloom runner beans.  I can't wait to see them blossom.

from the homestead journal . . .
    the new chickens are still not getting along with the reds.  They mind their own business while free ranging, but fight in the coop at night.   Orion's horn is growing in downwards, and we may have to de-horn him.  
   taught the younger two girls how to make homemade biscuits, and each made their own.
   made a batch of homemade tick repellant for the dogs.

from the gratitude journal . . .
   ~today I am thankful for the cooler weather
   ~today I am thankful I bought knitting needles a few years at a cheap price
   ~today I am thankful for my bike
   ~today I am thankful the bountiful lettuce in the garden

from the exercise journal . . . 
   rode two bike rides yesterday, totaling about 12-13 miles, rode another 4 this morning.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Homemade Biscuits ~ From the Family Cookbook

We've been using this recipe for years.  I like the  fact that it's basic, similar to what the Pioneers used.  I can use milk from my goats or future cow, and I can make my own butter from cream.  These are delicious with buttermilk also. 

Heritage Days ~ Spontaneous Sundays

My kids were chuckling early Sunday Morning.  It's not often they find their mother at the computer watching YouTube.  However, I was.  

After throwing my "How to Knit" kit in the "get rid of" box, I made one more effort to teach myself to knit.  I found a series of "how to's" that were slow enough for me to catch on.   Here is the first one, for anyone wanting to learn to knit.  I am now teaching one of the willing, daughters to knit.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Baking Biscuits

I know I'm definitely a Pioneer Woman as Heart today.  I woke up early, donned my Farmgirl apron, and whipped up homemade biscuits and gravy.  It just felt natural.  I haven't made them in years.  I am sure the fact that the kids are out of school makes a difference in my morning patience.

Now that I am getting back into baking our breads myself, it feels pretty good.  I love to bake, and the weather is much better today. 

The farm repairs continue.  Today it's a water spigot.  When we bought this farm house, it did not have any outside water spigots on it.  My husband installed one, but it had a 1/2 turn plastic handle.  Unfortunately, someone who was helping us with the septic last year, cranked on it too hard, breaking it.  

During the last week, when I needed to water the garden, it would not shut off.  Even if we shut off the valves under the sink.  I had to keep turning off the well, and back on when needed.  Otherwise we'd be paying a high electric bill and lose a lot of water from the well.  

The rain we received yesterday was a huge blessing.  I was able to complete many indoor projects, including a recycled craft.  I hope to submit it to a magazine next week.  

I was also able to make a few more garden markers.

These are fun to make, and we add new ones each year.  These are made by using cut pieces of wire hangers and pushed through two holes at the top.  These slide easily in to the ground, and are reused year after year.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Milkweed Quiche

I located a recipe that I can use my foraged milkweed in.  I found it on a blog devoted to foraged food.  The recipe is Crustless Milkweed Flower Quiche.  I don't have any milkweed with flowers, so this recipe will have to wait.  However, I can't wait to try it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chicken Dinner

The meat chickens went to the butcher today.  We found a place who would clean them without a chlorine dip.  We will be roasting at least 2 of them for dinner tonight. 

Yesterday temperatures soared in the high 90's and felt like 100°.  We continue to go without air conditioning, and today have much cooler weather.  Although thunderstorms are in the forecast, it feels so much better than the last two days.  I may even have time to week the strawberry patch today.

Good Dog!

Gus was so proud of himself.  He caught another ground hog.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Surviving Without Air Conditioning

The kitchen temperature got up to 93° yesterday, and I don't think we really cooled off.  I am unable to work in the garden, so it's all up to God.  We keep praying our seeds we planted will sprout, and yesterday I noticed the beets were coming up.
Today the forecast is about the same - high of 96° and feels like 98-100°.
It was so hot that I had to water my petunias 3 times, and deadhead them 3 times. 

Despite temperatures, we continue to keep our electric bill very low by eliminating air conditioning.  We are suffering yes, but surviving.  My 17 year old daughter said she's glad we don't use it anymore, or she would not want to ride her horse, or even go outside.

We simply drink lots of ice water, iced tea, and cool off with popsicles.  We limit our activity and pretty much eliminate the garden work, other than early morning hours.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A View From the Porch

Frugal Family Fun ~ Hot Days Here Today

I started the day off by watering our gardens and picking lettuce.  The lettuce will be made into salads for this very hot day today.  I'm so glad we plant a garden.  It saves us so much money, and provides a healthier meal as well.  We also picked some fresh home grown strawberries.
The weather today is up in the high 90's, but feels like 100°.  It is not even comfortable to sit in the porch either.  The kids found something fun to do.  I may have to join them.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cat Days of Summer

Really Mattie?  The kitchen table?  Sheesh.  She must think she's queen of the castle today.  Good grief.

Meet Aurora (black calico) and Joey (golden tiger)They think the lawn furniture was put outside for their convenience.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 3 of Bread Making

I did it!  I used a recipe from Oklahoma Pastry Cloth, and the dough was perfect.

Other than an annoying air bubble in the center, and that it should have baked a few more minutes, it was the best bread yet.  I can't wait to have a pastry cloth to make this baking easier and less messy. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Herbal Hair Care

I decided to start utilizing my herb garden for uses other than culinary.  We love to add them to our food, but I wanted to start making our own hair care products from scratch.  I also want to see if it will save us money on buying manufactured shampoo and other items.

Yesterday, I made a hair rinse using my sage.  I decided to also make a leave-in conditioner for dry hair, using sage.  Once my lavender starts producing more, I can utilize that as well.

This morning my youngest daughter and myself, tried the conditioner.  I myself, used the rinse also.  Wow!  My hair is so soft too.  With 4 girls in the house, and dry hair, I will save so much money on conditioner.  Now, the next venture is to make shampoo.  Hopefully, I can locate an inexpensive, and homemade recipe to try.

Wake Up Call

It's not what you'd expect for a wake up call, but I woke up from a wet willy.  An 80 pound hairy blob sitting on me, wagging her tail so hard the bed was shaking.  The wet willy was her tongue of course.  Blech.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Excerpts from a Journal Junkie

From the garden journal . . .

Weeded out the tomatoes, replanted 2 rows of corn, planted basil and cumin, started weeding around the strawberry plants, and tilled up most of the garden.  Marigolds reseeded themselves in one large pot – yea for that.  Sunflowers are peeking over the top of the water trough now.  Started foraging the farm for anything wild and edible.  Planted swiss chard seeds.

Dried 6 bunches of thyme.

From the homesteading journal . . .

Orion got loose again – twice.  Found him ramming his head into the utility pole with electrical boxes – not good.

Bugs are starting to come inside, due to all the rain.  A wolf spider tried to take a shower with me yesterday – not cool!

Named our scarecrow and the dogs still bark at her.

Started to experiment with homemade bread recipes and ran out of flour.  I need to make a trip to the Mill very soon.

Added a hand crank ice cream maker to the “wish list.”

Barred rocks and Lola are learning to come out when called to free range.  They still don't mingle with the hens yet.
From the gratitude journal . . .

I am thankful for:
~this wonderful cool weather
~lettuce from the garden
~books to help us with our homesteading
~our very small grill to cook out on
~for my kid’s jobs
~for my front porch
~the early butterflies we have already
~God’s mercy

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Foraging ~ Is it Edible?

From what we can tell, this is dogbane, which is often mistaken for milkweed. I found a recipe for using milkweed and plan to try it soon. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Corn Bread


We just found a delicious corn bread recipe that we can utilize home grown vegetables (onion, corn), milk from the goats (I cannot wait until we do have one in milk too), and eggs from the chickens.  I can even utilize home grown herbs – chives.  I can also use my home canned salsa in this recipe.

I found the recipe in a magazine I got from another farmgirl, and here is it on-line:  Appalachian Corn Bread.  

I wonder if I could simply leave the sugar out, and not change the taste too much?  I did use creamed corn, and it turned out to be a moist bread, and delicious.  We will make it again once the corn is in, and try it with whole kernel corn too.  I used olive oil, and also oiled the baking dish with olive oil (we are doing away with non-stick spray). 

My goal is to be able to add the cheese from my very own dairy source.  Either a jersey cow or maybe the goats.  I better put a bug in my husband's ear about getting a jersey cow.  I can see so many ways we can reduce our processed, store bought foods, and make them healthier.

And of course, the corn meal and flour is from an area stone mill that is still in business.  Maybe some day we can grow our own wheat and grind it ourselves.  Anything is possible.

This will taste so delicious with our homemade taco soup, which also uses fresh or frozen garden goodies. 

Our first Scarecrow ~ It's a girl