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~

Friday, August 31, 2012

More Repairs ~ Public School

Remember my van?  It's been in parking mode since last February, getting many repairs including new head gaskets (second time).  Well, it's still sitting in the driveway.  It needs a computer now.

Hubby says it needs this other part before I can drive it.

Today, my son's car needs the repair job.  Thankfully, he can drive the ol' farm truck to work.  Part of the hardware that holds up the gas tank basically disintegrated on his car.  Yikes!  

The trouble with self repairs, is finding the time to get the job done.  However, I'd rather buy a part (and wait patiently) than spend $800.00 of my husband's (and mine) hard earned income to pay for repairs.  I'd rather take another getaway instead.  Sounds selfish, but really it's not selfish.  We both deserve it.

Frustration with Public School

For the second year in a row, the 8th grade class is sending kids off on a Washington, D.C. trip.  The cost?  $600.00 per kid.  However, the cost doesn't stop there.  This year they are required to have a special dress outfit, with dress shoes that can be walked a lot in - more costs. They state all meals are included, but I am sure there will be more hidden costs they will drop on us later.  

Then there is the payment system for this trip. You can pay on-line with the school, but the school charges you for every transaction you make.  We already pay enough taxes for our school's so why should I give them anymore.   Public school is not free anymore.  It's down right unaffordable.  

We already just paid $225.00 in school fees, and even more than that on school clothes and shoes.  Not to mention the cost of required school supplies also. We skipped out on school photos, since they did them the day prior to school starting, and right after fees were paid.  If they had photos taken, that would be another $90.00 to hand over.  This year?  I'm taking their photos myself, and I won't have extras laying around in a box.

My daughter said to me that the teacher told her she could hand him the $200.00 cash and he'd take care of the payment.  Send cash with your kid?  He must not have teenagers.

Last year, I could pay the tour company directly, free of transaction charges.  This year?  We are not allowed.  We must pay the school directly.  They really know how to make things difficult don't they.  

Don't get me wrong.  I do think the kids will find the trip educational and fun, but is it necessary for schools to take these trips with the economy in a rut?  It just doesn't seem prudent to me.

And it doesn't stop there.  The teachers are encouraging students to take "electronics" with them on the school trip.  What happened to good ol' fashioned deck of playing cards?  Or a book?  As a parent who strives to keep her kids from getting sucked into time wasting electronics, this is very frustrating.  My daughter should know better than to ask me to go out and buy her a $60.00 electronic, just so she can take it on this school trip.

Public school also raises my medical costs.  It wasn't long before one of my kids are already sick.  School just started, and she coughing, blowing her nose, and has a sore throat.  Thankfully, I have the knowledge of natural remedies.  However, with the continuous amount of daily germs she is around, it becomes more difficult to treat.  She lacks rest from her daily schedule also.

Then there is the amount of homework I see my high schooler doing - 2-4 hours a night.  Ridiculous.  Ugh.

I think I may have just talked myself into homeschooling again....

Interesting Books

It's a Long Road to a Tomato, by Keith Stewart

This book is full of essays, about a man who quit his job to become a farmer.  Very interesting to read.  He even kept track of the types of birds he found on his farm (and listed them in this book).

Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook

According to author Barry Estrabrook, many of our out-of- season tomatoes come from Florida.  I found this book extremely interesting.  The author points out that tomatoes are "picked green" and "artificially gassed with ethylene in warehouses until they acquire the rosy-red skin tones of a ripe tomato."  

This author writes a very important book regarding how are foods are not the same as they were back in the 1960's.  For example, he states that our commercial, store purchased tomatoes contain "fourteen times as much sodium" today as they did back in the 60's.  

If you are getting tired of those tomatoes in your garden, be sure to read this book.  You won't complain about growing them, nor stocking up on them anymore.  If you are not growing your own organic tomatoes (or any other food/meat), you will want to, after reading this book.

Here's another fun one I found at the library - 
Cooking Up a Storm,
Edited by Ken and Janice Tate

This book even has a section for Biblical baking recipes.  If you are looking for old-time recipes and fun reading, you'll really enjoy this book.

And one more to share:

I have found that Mary T. Bell's books are great for recipes and information on using my dehydrator.  This book even has pet treat recipes.  Pet treats, if you buy natural ones, are very expensive.  Guess what I'll be making soon?  Yep.  Why not, it's on the journey to self-sufficiency. 

P.S. If you are wondering when I found time to read, I read in between water bathing jars.  Tomato sauce takes 40 minutes to boil seal.  I have to steal free time where I can these days.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Letters from. . .

In the process of slowly cleaning clutter, in between gardening and stocking up, I created a way to preserve the letters my 10 year-old daughter writes to me. 

Over the years, she has written me many letters.  I tend to put a note in the kid's lunches when I can, and add a small piece of candy.  In the process of that, she started to write me letters and put them all over the house. 

In the past she'd pop popcorn, and put a "treat" down inside the bowl.  We'd enjoy the popcorn, and she would pretend to be surprised when we got to the "treat" at the bottom.

Each of my kids have a unique personality, and I just could not throw these notes away.

I purchased an inexpensive photo album with the pages that peel back.  I inserted the letters so I can re-read them like a book.

For the cover, I mixed 50/50 of white glue and decoupage, and covered the front with a piece of scrapbooking paper.  I don't scrap book very much, but do journaling and create fun journals.   

Here, I will write "Letters from ...." and will add pocket pages on the inside.  Those pockets will hold the very long letters she has written me, and pictures she has drawn me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Escape the Ordinary

The grass is still wet from the rains we got yesterday, but I picked a lot of tomatoes.  I canned peach salsa, but actually had to buy jalapeno peppers from a produce stand.

I won't be updating the canning stats today, as my computer virus protections is blocking a Trogan when I click on "layout" on blogger.  I hope they fix that soon.

I picked enough broccoli to blanch and freeze another quart bag. 

Our buckling is not selling, so he's at the vet today.  He'll be a wether and trained with a harness, and hopefully still sell.

Today, I am yearning for "island time" - no worries, no hurries.

Hubby and I continue to enjoy the photos we took, and hope to get another "escape" in, before winter arrives.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Island Getaway ~ Camping Trailer Night Light

Saturday, my husband took me away for a one night Island get-a-way.  Look what I found!  This very cute trailer night light.  This one will remind of the most absolute, best ever, getaway we've taken so far.

More photos are posted on my Flickr Photostream for you to view.  I'll be loading a few more later today.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Stocking Up

Well, if you have been wondering where I've been.....

I canned a second new recipe for salsa.  I canned 4 pints of Fiesta Salsa.  This is delicious too.  I found the recipe on-line.  In place of the chili pepper, I used green pepper, and used 1/2 cup combined jalapeno and cayenne peppers.  Yum!  There are many recipes on that site if you are seeking for recipes for canning or for other tomato recipes.

I canned another 3 1/2 quarts of seasoned tomato sauce.  This is tedious work - chopping 23 pounds of tomatoes.  Thanks to my sauce maker, I don't have to peel, remove seeds, etc. prior to heating it all up first.

I dehydrated another quart jar of potatoes, some kale and Parmesan cheese.

I canned 4 half pints of homemade ketchup.  This took another 10 lbs. of tomatoes.

I canned another 4 half pints of Pepper Jelly (a mix of green peppers jalapeno and cayenne peppers).

I finally dug up some of the sweet potatoes, but still have another row of red potatoes to dig up. 

I canned a third type of salsa - Home Canned Salsa.  I'd like to can peach salsa, but I need to see if I can still find peaches at the produce stands.  Our tree is not mature enough yet. continues.  I froze more tomatoes and green peppers too. 

Note:  I found this neat site that gives 30 tips on what to use leftover salsa for:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Camping Funnies ~ First Day of School

I have to share the funniest thing that happened on our camping trip.  It was the first morning there.  I got up about 6:30am and asked if anyone needed to visit the toilets.  My 10 year-old said she did.

I exited the camper.  As soon as my daughter stepped off the camper step, the camper fell backwards, and the front end was up in the air.

We first screamed in shock, then tried to hold our laughter and not pee our pants.  I whispered to my daughter, "we gotta go, I can't stay and help him (laughing hysterically)." Hubby and my 13 year-old were in the back bed. 

Very calmly we hear my husband's voice from the camper, "uh, I think someone forgot to put the jacks in."

More laughter.

Ha ha ha ha!  The back bumper was catching the back end, but we were lucky.  While we were at the toilets, not far from the camper, we watched it slowly go back down, as my hubby walked forward to straighten the camper again. 

Once we got it all set again, with the jacks in place, hubby said, "honey you can't get out of the camper before I do anymore." 

We laughed the entire weekend about it, and I think we woke the entire campground up that morning.  I still can't tell anyone the story without cracking up laughing. 

So funny.

Another funny story.  On the last night at the campground, I had walked to the toilets with my 13 year-old.  It was pitch dark and we had not taken a flash light.  We were walking back, and my husband and 10 year-old jumped out of the trees and scared the livin' day lights out of us.  Once again, we laughed the entire night.  I'm sure the rest of the campground was ready for us to leave at that point. Ha ha ha ha!


Today was the first day of public school.  Yesterday was the first day of college for my son.  It's kind of a strange day here today.  All of my kids are on one bus this year.  Even so, my youngest still let me give her kisses this morning.

I better get out to the garden and see what last night's rain gave us.  It's back to work for me today.  Just the thought of canning anything more, makes me want to hook up that camper and head to the hills today.  Ha ha ha ha!

Monday, August 20, 2012


Hubby and I finally took off to go camping.  It was a very much needed break from "life."

While camping the first night, my youngest daughter cut this comic from the paper we were reading.

We all got a good chuckle out of it....."sounds just like you Mom," the kids said.

 Day 1 of teaching the younger two to fish.  This wasn't the best location either.

We had not camped all year, and my 10 year-old could not resist to build and eat a triple-decker s'more.

Every meal was cooked over the campfire, and we loved it.

The girls enjoyed their marshmallow madness, hot chocolate both mornings.  We had very nice cool sleeping weather.

 This was our Sunday morning breakfast - cinnamon bread dipped in egg for a delicious french toast, sausage patties and hash browns that were browned with our garden onion and green pepper.  Yum!

This was one of our dinners - organic chicken breasts, and garden potatoes with onion and butter.

I spent one evening, by the campfire, knitting blocks for that blanket that has yet to be finished.

One morning this cardinal stopped by to sing to us.  He was up on a very tall tree, but in between me and the campfire smoke.  I was disappointed in the clarity of my photos, but was happy to see it, and so was my 10 year-old.

Second day of teaching the girls to fish.  We located a better spot to fish.

Our 13 year-old daughter holding her first fish caught by herself.

Our 10 year-old daughter holding a stick that she hooked.  We tried to stay longer so she could catch her first fish, but we were really getting hungry.  We'll have to take her fishing again.

We also hiked and put new wild flowers in our wild flower press.  This one was a new one.  According to the book we took along, is Jerusalem Artichoke.  There is a story behind this one, but I'll share that another day.  It's very tall too.  Some were over 6 feet tall.

We read books and magazines, and played games by the campfire.

I snapped this photo, and later realized it looks like an animal trying to get out of the water.  

We packed up, only to head home and wash all the laundry. We came home with some very funny stories to remember.  I still cannot tell people the story about the camper, without cracking up laughing.  I'll share that in tomorrow's post.  I think I made this one way too long for readers.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Canning Season Still Chugging Along ~ Oatmeal Wedges

I got 3 1/2 quarts of Seasoned Tomato Sauce canned.

Dug up the last of the carrots and froze two bags of them.  It's not much, but more than I froze last year.  I'll need to plant more next year.  

Canned 7 more pints of beets and 5 half pints of Pear Jam.

Another Rescued Kitten

This little guy was rescued yesterday.  I was up at 4:00am and could not sleep.  When I went to the kitchen, I could hear this high pitched meow coming from the very front window. 

I tried to see which cat it was, using a flashlight, but could not.  I did see our barn cat Tim, so I thought maybe it was him.  

Later that afternoon, the kids came running, saying "you gotta come see this."  My son said, "I thought I heard something this morning."

We, at first glance, thought it may be blind, or have an eye injury the way he held his head to the side.  Once we got him in the cat carrier we saw that he may have been hurt by someone tossing him out their car window, while driving by.  He was underneath a large evergreen that is not far off the road.  It makes me sick that people do this to animals.

It's a poor photo, but you can see the little guy is hurt.  My son was able to drive him to the Humane Society for a $30.00 donation.  It's sad we have to pay to get him help, but it's better than a larger vet bill, and this little guy gets a new life.

Speaking of donations, my one daughter is participating in a fundraiser to raise money for the same Humane Society.  They have taken the two kittens we've rescued this year.  Hop on over to her blog to help donate to the yearly Mutt Strut.

She would very much appreciate any donations.  So would the Humane Society. Someone had to help these animals get a new chance at a good life.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Surprise Mail

I received more surprise mail.  This book was gifted to me from Michelle, at Michelle's Little Piece of Heaven.  Thanks Michele!  We are having fun looking through it and picking out new recipes to try.

Thunderstorms are rolling in, so my post is short, but I am freezing more tomatoes and blueberries today.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Keeping Up?

If you are wondering if I've been keeping up with my own family as well as items to sell, I have on some things, but not so much on jelly and jam.  We go through many jars during the winter, due to kids packing school lunches.   

I canned 2 batches (6 pints and 4 1/2) pints of blueberry jelly, but that's not enough for my family for the winter.  These jars will be gone all too soon.  I am told now, that they prefer blueberry over grape. This year I was lucky to get 20 lbs. of blueberries this late.  They are out mid-July around here, and next year I will have to be more prepared.  We really need double that amount. 

I blanched and froze 3 quart bags of tomatoes, with the help of my 15 year-old. 

Canned 20 - 1/2 pint jars of Peach Jam.

Canned 4 more pints of Sweet Pickle Relish.

Canned 6 pints of our first canned salsa. The last two years I have made "fridge" salsa. This recipe was the Jalapeno Salsa recipe from Ball's recipe book.  Instead of 3 cups jalapeno peppers, I mixed 1/2 cup jalapeno with 2 1/2 cups green bell peppers (2 varieties).  Uh, I'm gonna need to plant more onions next year, and larger ones.  I still need to can sauce and I'm running low already.

Dehydrated more garden potatoes.  These were sliced this time. It was suggested to put a coffee filter between the jar and the lid for storing them in jars.


Canned another 12 pints of blueberry jelly.

I need to go out before it rains, and cut more oregano to dry.  I am using it in my canned salsa and seasoned tomato sauce.

I know you are all probably tired from reading our updates, but I know it will pay off over winter.  I'll try to relax some today, and post a less tiring blog post. My son said to me yesterday, "Are you ever going to catch a break Mom?"

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Self-Suffieciency Lifestyle Paying Off

I'm posting early today.  Hubby brought home another 10 lb. box of blueberries and a box of peaches.  I'll be busy for sure.

Here's an update on our journey to being self-sufficient.  Each year it gets better.
In the last 3 1/2 years we have really gained progress with self-sufficiency.  It does require some investments, but those pay off. 

So far this year, with making our own soap with our goat's milk, have not had to buy any bars of soap (and have used it to make homemade laundry detergent also).

We have not purchased dishwasher detergent either, and I am proud that we have reduced those chemicals and costs.

We have not had to buy any onions or potatoes this year.  Last year we did.  

We went all winter using green peppers we froze versus buying them from the store.

When we are low on eggs, we do without.  

We have cut down the cost of buying organic milk by having the goat's, and have drastically cut down the trips to the recycling center (cost of time and gasoline) to take milk jugs in.  It's been nice to recycle our canning jars for milk. 

I have not had to buy ricotta cheese this year also.  Making it is so easy with the goat's milk, but it takes 4 1/2 quarts. 

As for making ice cream out of goat's milk, we need another goat for more milk.  We need cream to add to the milk, otherwise it will freeze rock hard.  My daughter already has her eye on one she wants to add to her herd. 

We have not had to buy any jelly or jams for the last two years.  Every year I learn more recipes to make and stock up on.

I have cut back on the cost of annual flowers, and used seeds from other farmgirls (lovely zinnia's).  We also get the joy of watching butterflies.

We have not had to buy pickles or relish for two years now.  We had a bumper crop of cucumbers last year, and have not cut back the cost of carrots.

Our homemade deodorant is lasting so much longer, and had drastically cut back the cost and cut out the chemicals.

Last year, from butcher time to this spring, I never had to buy chicken.  Our meat chickens were worth the time to raise and we know they are chemical/antibiotic free. 

After last fall, and three rounds of yucky antibiotics, I am really working hard to use natural remedies.  Since then, and my awful sickness with allergies, we have been successful.  With the purchase of Allergy Easer Oil, I have not had to buy any allergy pills whatsoever (since last fall).  I have only had to take ibuprofen one time since then as well.  And my 10 year-old, who also suffers horribly, has not had to take one pill either.  She uses the roll-on Allergy Easer, and it has eliminated buying over the counter drugs, and we feel much better.  We've been successful at reducing our costs, and staying chemical free.

I've learned foraging skills, and have researched the health benefits of eating dandelion greens, and tops.  I've been making jelly from dandelions, and using the roots for dandelion "coffee."  I've learned that clovers are edible, and I can make jelly from white and red clover.  I've been making jelly from the flower of Queen Anne's Lace and studying the uses for the black walnuts on my property.  Even foxtail grass is edible.  We have wild chickweed on the property (not road side plants) and they can be used to make coffee, natural salves, and such as well.  Every year we pick the wild growing black raspberries.  It just gets more interesting as we learn.

I've learned skills for natural dyes, including the wild pokeweed growing on our property.  I hope to experiment more with plants like the goldenrod that grow here as well.

Over the past two years, I have taught my self to knit and to do needle tatting.  My goals are to learn quilting, blacksmithing, foraging for mushrooms, go hunting for deer myself, fish more often, and to learn the art of spinning wool.  The list gets longer each year, but our hand crocheted afghans are warmer than any blanket you can buy in the store, and last longer.  

This is our first year to plant again for a fall harvest.  Thankfully the August rains are helping.

It's all hard work, but in the end, worth it.  Our next goals are to make and use homemade toothpaste, grow enough corn to grind down ourselves for cornmeal, raise beef and dairy cows and much more.

Our wish list keeps growing, and every year we gain a few steps forward.

Knitted Dishcloth/Washcloth Pattern

I have had a few requests for the knitted dishcloth pattern.  I sell these at the Farmer's Market and our family store site (new site under construction).

I've adjusted it to the size that I like, but you can do the same as well.

Note: for dishcloth I knit to 52 on my needle, for a larger dishcloth or washcloth, knit 72

Friday, August 10, 2012

Honey - Cider Slaw ~ Surprise Mail

This recipe was very good.  I like the fact it did not contain mayonnaise in it.  I also read that the combination of the organic cider and raw honey work together to benefit one's health.