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, 2018

Thursday To-do's

I woke up Thursday realizing I had no plan for the day.  I always have a plan. Yikes.

The only think I needed to make was a nice home cooked dinner and deliver some to Dad for his 87th birthday.  It all depended on if the chickens gave me more eggs too.

I had to flour and pepper my pumpkins due to the excess of bugs.  I am sad too.  Only 2 jack'o lantern pumpkins on them, and no pie pumpkins (a few blossoms, but they look terrible).

If we ever have another wet spring like we did, I will not plant our garden.  It's so big and wide that I can't get the weeds caught up either (due to rain).  It's been a huge issue, and now faces us with the cost of putting in raised beds (so I can plant and weed no matter what), or move the entire garden, or reduce it's size.

As for the tomatoes, the weather is now cooling down, and they don't like that, so I'm going to salvage any green ones and start ripping them out. Yeah, not gonna plant a garden late ever again.

I couldn't let these buggers sit one more day to wait on late tomatoes, so a little over a pound went into the freezer.  

Speaking of freezer, has anyone ever frozen their tomatoes and thawed them later to can salsa or anything sauce-wise?  If so, I'd love to hear how to froze the tomatoes - skin on? skin off? etc.  Just asking in case we can't get enough in one picking in future years.

Just after washing all the dishes and putting them away, I did it two more times.  I guess the "to-do's" found me.

Made a jar of nettle hair tonic.

Made a jar of Four Thieves Vinegar.

Harvested some herbs - thyme, rosemary and parsley.  I needed fresh parsley for dinner.  I love the smell of fresh herbs.  

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Homemade Dog Treats ~ Treats for the Family ~ Baked Einkorn Chips

Wednesday I knew it was going to rain, but still did some laundry.  Hubby has been working overtime, and forgot to put his laundry in the utility room.  We have indoor racks so it was not a big deal.

I had no produce to put up (feeling sort of odd about that too), so I whipped up some dog treats.  I now have them on hand for grand-pup visits here or their place.  I used my home grown pumpkin puree to make them.  All organic ingredients.  Normally, I'd bake these with our homegrown carrots, but we were force to plant late, and I have not even checked them yet.  I've used a few different recipes, but here is one of them:

Homemade Organic Dog Treats
3/4 cup organic pumpkin puree (I grow my own pie pumpkins)
1/4 cup shredded organic carrots
1/3 cup organic (ingredients should say peanuts only) peanut butter
1/4 tsp. organic cinnamon
1 egg beaten (I use our organic fed hen eggs)
2 cups organic all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F, line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix all ingredients, roll on a pastry cloth or floured surface, to about 1/2 inch thickness.  Use a cookie cutter to cut dog treats, place on lined baking sheets and bake about 15-17 minutes, or until they are just turning brown.

I also whipped up some more Einkorn Snickerdoodles for the family.  Our youngest was a bit disappointed to come home with no cookies after a very hot day at school.  She is also starting to feel the stress of being back to school.

I made baked einkorn chips for the first time.  First tray I didn't bake long enough, but I'll definitely be making them again.  They are a substitute for store bought organic (expensive) tortilla chips.  They are not crispy crunchy like fried, but they are fantastic.  They last 3 days, so we used them with our home canned salsa, and of course delicious by themselves.  I think they would be fabulous with hummus.

Both einkorn recipes can be found online.

Carpet shampooing resumed too.  Oh I cannot wait for the day to rip up carpet.  I got about 40% of the bedroom done, but it'll take lifting and moving to get the rest done.  Not sure I have Hubby on board either.  I need him to look at my shampooer too.  I'm not sure it's working properly.  I have done what I can, but I'll need him to work on it I think.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Gardening and Stocking Up ~ Another HOT day

The garden has been nothing but a struggle this year.  

On the up side. . .and all done in 2 days . . .

I got a small batch of salsa canned, and some tomatoes made it to the freezer.  I left the jalapeno seeds in this time.  I'm labeling these jars "ON FIRE!"  Boy is it hot. Super hot.  Hubby loves it.  I do not.  Next batch, if there is one, will not have the seeds left in. It's a new recipe for me to try (Ball book recipe), but it fit my need with how many tomatoes I had.

Onion soup made it's way to the freezer - 12 pints made.

Another batch of Cowboy Candy was canned.

A small bit of green beans went into the freezer, and some into our tummies.

Since we don't have a root cellar or basement (yet), the tiniest of the potatoes were boiled with the green beans, with bacon and bacon fat added.  One of our garden favorites.

A batch of zucchini meatballs made it's way to the freezer.  Bought the zucchini from a neighbor down the road, who has a produce stand.  I also got more jalapenos from him too.  I actually added diced jalapenos to these.  I should have double the recipe with winter around the corner.  Guess I'll put it on my list of to-do's along with our beef/pork meatballs.  Gotta get it done before the freezer fills up, or it'll be stuck to the upper racks (again).

A veggie frittata, loaded with dandelion greens, was made for us early birds for breakfast.

...and because it was so stinkin' hot (some area schools let out early due to no AC in the schools), I made a cold dinner - Mexican Quinoa (using thawed and cooked corn off the cob, leftover zucchini salsa and some fresh grape and cherry tomatoes).  After I took that photo, I took treats to the hens, and found purslane.  I added some to the dish.  

I'm already writing up a plan for next year's garden.  We may be moving it though.  I know cabbage, watermelon (and other various fruits), along with more tomatoes will be on the list.  Then I can supplement Stud Muffin and the ladies to offset the cost of expensive organic feed.  Oatmeal, only if I can locate it bulk and cheap (for the hens).

Our oldest daughter stopped in with grand-pup Mia.  I'm gonna have to get some dog treats made for their future visits.  She of course raided the fridge.

So, are you wondering what I'll be doing on a hot rainy day?  Most likely cleaning indoors.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

This and That

Sunday the heat started rolling in, along with thunderstorms and a lot of humidity.  Second picking of tomatoes brought us 6#.  Not much but tomatoes no less.  

Humidity and heat rolled in on Monday and the heat index reached a high of 98°F.  Today it will be the same.  Rain is in the forecast for Wednesday.  The porch is unbearable, so crochet time was indoors (again).  

Hubby and I wandered out the pear trees.  They are loaded, but deer are bedding under one tree.  We also discovered that two other trees growing are producing apples.  Not enough to pick, but producing.  That was a happy discovery.  They were smaller over the years and they were planted before we moved here.  Thankfully, the pears are not ready to pick.  

The treadmill and I are back in a relationship.  I have used it since the passing of our nephews.  It's been a rough time, but now I'm back on track as they say.  First time to step on a bathroom scale since April too, and I actually weighed less than back in April.  Happy moment for me.  I guess all that weeding paid off.  Of course unloading and stacking firewood, lifting the canner pot, lugging my heavy laundry basket through the house and out to the clothesline, mucking the chicken coup all helped too.

Monday, August 27, 2018

I have a tea for that . . . hormone balance

First, let me just say this.  I am posting only from personal experience (blog has a disclaimer).  I know that internet "experts" will say don't follow "advice" from blogs, but I'm posting anyway.  I can't really say it's "advice" either, as it is simply my experience.

Today, I realize how much nettle tea balanced my female hormones.  I truly went gun-ho, in drinking it, in desperation to grow my hair back.  When I stopped drinking it so often, I felt depressed/fatigue, had mood swings as I turned another year older.  Once that happened, and weight came on vs. off (despite exercise and healthy eating), so I thought back to what I had been doing.

Here are a few teas that I have found very helping in hormone balance in women (aside from herbal supplements you can buy):

Stinging Nettle (Grows wild)
Raspberry leaf (Grow your own)
Tulsi/Holy Basil (Grow you own)
Rooibus (Red tea, a drink of South Africa)

I purchased my Rooibus tea (organic).  I wanted to experiment with the tea and see if it would help. 

I have found all to be helpful in hormone balance, and the best time to drink Rooibus tea is in the evening. I find it helpful with a getting a good night's sleep as well.

I'm using a rotation of these teas, but I'm also making other changes.  Hopefully I will have updates using the other changes I've made in a month or so. 

You can also put a few drops of thyme essential oil into a diffuser for hormone balance.  It not only helps with hormones but kills off bacteria etc in the room (suggested for rooms when someone is ill and resting).

Also, I found eating a good rotation of hormonal balancing foods has helped ward of any menopausal symptoms too.  Foods such as asparagus, broccoli, dark leafy greens, a rotation of legumes, nuts and seeds, and using coconut (organic) oil to fry potatoes or pop my popcorn.  

I had noticed, after asparagus season was over, and broccoli not on yet, that I was gaining weight regardless of exercise.  Once I added them back into our meals, I started to lose the weight, and felt great.  It's just tough to find organic asparagus in the stores, but when I do, I freeze it now.

The older you get the more iron women need too, so I keep organic sunflower seeds on hand now.  Of course you can also get iron (and hormone balance) from black beans and other sources.

Sharing this all from personal experience.  Also, remember that if you are taking any prescription drug, getting chemotherapy, or other care, check with your doctor before trying any herbal tea.  They can interfere with your treatment.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Day of Destruction ~ My Friday Finish

After unwillingly working in the garden the past few days, I realized one thing - we need a day of destruction. Boy it will feel so good after all the hell we went through (and still going through), with the garden.

I put a little ditty in Hubby's mind about it too.  The dune buggy.  I asked him to get it running, so I could have a good day of it in the garden.  Still makes me grin just thinking about doing it.

It's not out of the realm of possibilities either.

Finished my "scrap" yarn lapghan.  I have it up for sale for $45.00 now.  Whew.  One more done.  And I still have more yarn in the closet, ha ha!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Dinky Green Bell Peppers

Our green pepper plants we started from heirloom, organic seed, are producing.  However, they are not tall enough, and as you can see, the peppers are half or less the size they should be.  I only saw these and a few more out there.  It sure doesn't help me start the day in a happy, motivated, upbeat, peachy-keen attitude.

I can't weed very much due to the ground being so wet yet, but I managed to pull all the thistle from my front flower beds.  I was contemplating what to do, with nothing to harvest, nothing that could be easily weeded etc. 

A few balls of pizza dough made it to the freezer, but that was about it.  I am out of everything all at once it seems.

I have had a few very nice tea breaks on the porch with this cooler weather.  I'm still working on the crocheted lapghans, but I can only handle sitting idle for so long.  I decided to head to the garage and at least try to clean up some stuff.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Family History Christmas Gift Idea

I clearly had a "thing" for Christmas.  I'll admit, when the kids were young, I was the first to volunteer for their school Christmas parties.  I made a hand crafted tree ornament and wrapped one for each student.  That's how crazy I was over Christmas.

Recently, I've realized how crazy.  Cleaning off over 100 Christmas related books, then days later finding binders full of Christmas magazines.  By the way, I had it all - Christmas Almanac, Christmas recipes for around the world, Christmas traditions, Christmas planners, etc.

Then I came across this the other day, while cleaning in the bedroom closet. 

Sometimes a new idea, is not always a good idea, ha ha! 

It's a binder dedicated to gift giving, baking, patterns etc.  I didn't even know I had this, and so it was emptied and binder put away for possible donation.

I know one friend of mine will laugh out loud at this point.  I tossed much of it, but wanted to share one gift idea.  I actually made one for my Mom and Dad. 

Hopefully, you can click on the photos and be able to read them.  If not, let me know, and I'll write it out in the post for you.

Now you all have a fun way to gift a parent, grand parent, or great grand parent.  Maybe your Aunts and Uncles too?  Enjoy, and get crackin' on those homemade Christmas gifts.

Cool Day ~ Calendula Lotion

We finally had a day where we could turn off the air conditioner.  What a change of temperature, but we are told it'll heat up again this coming weekend.  Such a beautiful day.

I woke up Wednesday with zero, nada, zip of produce to either freeze, dry or can.  Nothing.  I realized, before heading out to weed (again), I had the chance to get my lotion made.

Boom!  Done!  I love this lotion.  I have tried a few lotion recipes, but this is by far my favorite.  

1 cup calendula oil (make ahead)
2 Tbsp. beeswax pastilles

Melt over low heat in a double broiler.   While that is melting, place your heatproof glass mixing bowl in a sink of warm water to keep it warm for when you mix with the blender.

Remove from heat and add essential oils of your choice (10-15 drops), pour into a heat proof glass mixing bowl, slowly add 1 cup of room temperature water using a hand blender.  I specifically have a hand blender for non-food handmade items.  I also have special mixing bowls and measuring cups just for this.  Pour into your clean containers.  I store my extras in the fridge.  It will grow mold if you don't or don't use it timely.  

To make oil:  place dried calendula flowers (I grow my own) into a quart canning jar.  I fill mine about 2/3rds full.  Add a good organic olive oil.  Put a lid on it and place in warm, sunny window for 4 (to 6) weeks.  Strain, and store in a cool dark location.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Random Tidbits

Monday, while Hubby and daughter were scrambling around getting ready at 5:45am, I was mumbling.  

"I have to work out, can jam, clean the coop, make a scramble for the week, do the dishes, do the laundry...."

Hubby said, "what'ya gonna do after 9am?"  

I laughed, and laughed.  That is true.  There is an advantage of being up early.  Sparta was giving me heck while cleaning the coop.  He kept getting out of the door, and out into the open garden area.  I had to keep chasing him back into the run.  I think he's getting old or his broken leg from years ago is giving him trouble.  He's having a bit of trouble walking and climbing the ramp now.

Speaking of scramble - this weeks breakfast for a few days.  It's made with some swiss chard, jalapeno, home grown potatoes, onions, green pepper and bacon.

Tuesday, I was up at 4:26 am precisely.  Work called Hubby in, and the thunder and pouring rain kept me from going back to sleep.

I hope we are well stocked now with Cowboy Candy, but if I can get more jalapenos, I'll can it one more time.  We love it!  I canned blackberry-red raspberry (our berries) jam and more peach jam.  I just wish I could find some hot banana peppers now. The purchase of our organic hot banana pepper plants were a fail.

The garden. . .popcorn may be a fail this year too.  The last storm we had, brought very strong winds, and my patch has been somewhat flattened.  Now with more heavy rain, thunderstorms, wind...who knows what'll happen.

Sadly, the 2# of tomatoes I had brought in, starting rotting in a few days.  

Although Hubby is against it, I'm back to considering working again.  We have to buy almost everything our garden didn't provide to stock up, and our cost to put the garden in has set us back.   Not sure what we'll do just yet.  I was so busy Monday, dinner time crept up on me quickly, so I'm struggling to figure out how to even hold a job and keep this place afloat.  There are many things we'll do without I believe too.

One dinner this week was smoked turkey bone soup.  I don't normally like soup in summer, but it was delicious.  I just added whatever I had, but the smoked carcass from my younger brother was worth keeping.  Yum.

I also made a new side dish - a cheesy jalapeno corn mix.  I used the frozen off the cob corn and it was very good!

Oh, and here is the latest new recipe I tried in my dehydrator. . .

Peanut butter cookies.  They were much easier to flatten than the oatmeal.  The only con to this, is it uses 1/2 cup organic coconut oil.  Same with the oatmeal.  I will however, keep this recipe for group meals and holidays.  I think they'd freeze okay, and if I triple the recipe I can fill my entire large dehydrator and save me time and ingredients.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018


On the pro side of no rain, what I had weeded is stayed weed free.  On the con side of it, I had to water one day and weed another day.  It was like concrete.

Oye.  This is one corner of the potatoes.  It's a total mess.

On July 18th, I started weeding them.  Sadly, all the tops had browned and the potatoes I checked were about 1 inch round.  I continued to weed, not giving up, and hoping the next rain would revive them.

A few plants still have green on them, so I continued to weed.  you know I'm not one to give up unless it's obviously just not going to yield us food.  

Yeah, as the days passed by, and the weeds came back (after that photo), I started digging.

Here's what we got.

Dinky is this summer's word.    A complete fail.  We planted 15# and harvested 15.43#.  The heat waves, despite watering, caused the plants to die off way too early.  Such a waste of money and time.

I will be buying the almanac from now on, and checking the weather predictions.  I won't plant late ever again.  

Live and learn.  Don't plant late if that's the case.  In our area, it did not work.  The tomato plants are not tall enough, didn't have enough time, the weather is already changing, and the tomatoes are way too small.

Not complaining, just sharing reality.  It's not all peaches and cream.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Weekend Updates

An Uncle of mine passed away and we had yet another family funeral to attend over the weekend.  He was 89, and a Korean veteran.  He was such a jokester and had a good full life, but pancreatic cancer took him suddenly and quickly.  It was a beautiful service, and we rode the Harley.  Uncle G. loved our Harley and I'm sure he was smiling in Heaven as we rode to his final resting place.  Such a beautiful day and my cousin's tribute at the church was downright emotional.  There were US Army soldiers there to do the flag folding, and a gun salute.  Just a very nice service.

Sunday morning we found out that a woman we rode with last year (in a group), was killed in a motorcycle accident.  She took a curve badly, tried to correct herself and hit a car.  No helmet.  

Remember that tall stack of library books?  I found recipes for dehydrator cookies and gave them a try.  We love these!  No eggs, no butter, and delicious.  Next time I'll put mini chips in them, but I'll soon try the peanut butter cookie recipe too.  These were oatmeal.

Here is the book the recipe is in.  I'm not an "idiot" when it comes to using my dehydrator, but there are hidden gems in many library books, so I always take a look.

Sunday morning I dug up the potatoes.  I'll have another post for that.

I also went out to do the first official tomato picking, expecting more than I got - 2 lbs.  Literally.  I need 45 lbs. to make sauce, or at least 25 for a half batch.  I am so disappointed this year.  It's definitely not going to be another 500+ lb tomato year.  They are small too. Too small.

The baby birds are born now, and they have left the nest.

Turnips were a failure.  They are small, and not very many survived.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Corn Relish Skillet Corn Bread ~ Extreme Clean Continues

I love our home canned corn relish. It's great on fish, meat, and one daughter (vegetarian), love it with her mashed potatoes when she lived at home.

I drained some and added it to basic corn bread.  It was delicious.  Next time I'm going to try this with einkorn flour. 

1 stick of organic butter, 2 Tbsp. divided (see note below)
1 1/2 cups einkorn whole grain flour
3/4 c. organic cornmeal
1 Tbsp. non-gmo baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 farm fresh eggs, beaten
1 1/4 c. organic milk
1 1/2 c. home canned corn relish, drained well

Mix dry ingredients.  Mix wet (melt butter) and add to dry.  Heat your 10 or 12 inch cast iron skillet with the 2 Tbsp of butter (note: I used organic non-gmo olive oil and it worked great).  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 425°F.  Depending on the size of you skillet, bake 20 to 35 minutes.  Check center, if needed, using a wooden toothpick.  Cool a few minutes before serving.

Corn Relish - I use the Ball Canning recipe found: Here

If you are a regular follower, you know that I've attempted to extreme clean my bedroom closet, utility room and garage for 4 years now.  Every time I clean it up, the kids put things everywhere, and it's right back to a big total mess of chaos.

Finally, finally, I have my bedroom closet about 89% of the way purged.  Hubby has to go through some clothing, and I have to get busy on some unfinished crochet/knitting projects - too many bags in there of those buggers.  Oh it is looking so nice too.  I'm super excited to get started on the garage and utility room now too.

I have found a home for 2 softball helmets and my oldest daughter is coming over soon to take some school supplies I'm purging.  Just too much stuff now that the kids are all moved out (but one, and I can actually keep things organized and clean). 

On top of that I managed to re-stock the comfrey poultices.  I have a nasty bruise on my knee and needed one anyway.

Found this little article in while purging.  
Image may contain: text
Thought I would share. Now go wash your kitchen dishcloth - 4 billion living germs??!!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Meanwhile. . . .

. . . in the rose bed

I'm still weeding it.  It looks small in that photo, but it's the entire length of the kitchen wall. 

 I managed to spend an hour and pull out the 7 foot thistle though.  We are enamored in sweat bees this year, and I can only stand being out there so long, especially in the heat.  Nothing works to keep the bees off me - not homemade bug spray, nor water with peppermint essential oil.  They are horrible, and I cannot even enjoy the front porch now.  They are driving us all insane.  I will try setting a citronella candle out there later if I remember to do it. So far the winning numbers are, flyswatter-4,000, spider webs - 4.  

As for the vegetable garden.  I give up.  The weeds will come out when the plants come out and that's all the time I'm putting into it. I put out a plea for anyone's extra zucchini, yellow squash (we got zero from those plants that looked so good weeks and weeks ago), and hot banana peppers.  I'll be posting about what happened to our potatoes soon too.  Yeah, a really, really stinky, unsuccessful garden year.  

I still have flower beds to weed, pull giant weeds by my barns, mailbox and other various places.  You should see my chicken run, ha ha!  It must appear to the chickens as a jungle.  At least they have shade, ha ha!

It rained, so Thursday I woke up confused.  I had zero produce or fruit laying around my kitchen awaiting work.  I had my kitchen spotless.  Front room spotless.  Front porch unbearable.  So I decided to start back in my utility room/new craft storage area.  I have narrowed the extreme clean list down to: utility room, bedroom, bedroom closet and garage. I actually got a little done in each room too.  I have a few touch ups to do in the kitchen bathroom.  

I mended a hole in one of my favorite shirts, un-buried a bunch of empty 1/2 pint and 4 oz. canning jars, discovered more small balls of yarn....I am starting to see the floor of my closet.  Almost.

I refilled my homemade dry taco mix.  I use my homegrown, minced and dehydrated garlic for this recipe, as well as others.

My car still has a flat tire.  Hubby has had one excuse after another (or it's raining) to remove it and plug it, and it's driving me mad not having a vehicle to get things done.  I asked him to finally make a library pick up for me.  He told everyone that the library was "closed until" I bring them all back, ha ha ha!