Saturday, December 31, 2011

The "Going to town " Phenomenon

When I was growing up it was such a treat to " go to town". We lived out in the country and enjoyed every second of it but it was so much fun going into town with my mom on Saturday mornings. I'm only 29 by the way so it in the grand scheme of things it wasn't all that long ago.

We would make out our lists the night before and mom would check the pantry to see what all we needed. We normally only went 1 time a month but sometimes a trip "to town" would be warranted at least twiced per month. We would normally go by the local co-op and give the clerk our list of feeds we needed for that month. We never had large animals like cattle or horses or anything so it was normally just chicken feed, rabbit feed and maybe some goat feed every so often. We also picked up the dog food there. There were bins of little dog snacks that you put in a brown paper sacked and they weighed it... so much fun for me for some reason. And we would always get two bags of peanuts which also you got from a big bin and put into a brown paper bag. One salted for my dad and he would take that to work with him to munch on, and then just a regular roasted one we would munch on around the house as a treat.

We would go to the grocery store, and then normally on the way home get an ice cream. Anytime that we needed shoes, or jeans or a dress we would also add that trip to our itinerary for when we "went to town". I can still remember my mom saying "put it on your list and we'll get it next time we go to town"!

I guess I'm being nostalgic, because now days many parents run through drive throughs daily, and people shop for shoes and jeans and whatever out of boredom and not out of necessity. Every shop is at most people's fingertips and indulging in those stores and services seems natural to them.

We normally only "go to town" once a month. I do my monthly shopping which I have written about before on my blog. We also go to the same feed store and I let the kids pick out dog treats from the same bins for treats for our dog. They also enjoy peanuts from the same wooden crates I remember. We will swing by the farmer's market if need be, maybe by the fabric store or home improvement store if necessary and call it a day.

I really enjoy having the other Saturdays as free days with the family. Nothing to have to do, just good ole' fashioned fun around the house. It's funny sometimes how times haven't changed that much after all....

Friday, December 30, 2011

Let's Declutter

With 3 little ones I am always looking for time savers and little tips on how to keep a nice tidy home and how to DECLUTTER. I found this cute little site here on decluttering. They offer a free downloadable calendar for the whole year! There are things to do daily that look really great. I have it saved to my computer and look forward to tackling the tiny tasks daily in order to get my home in the order I want it.

The first thing you do on Day one is to set up a donation area for those things that you will be donating. I like to donate and reuse anything and everything possible so I knew this would be a good tool.

Anyone else have trouble with clutter? What are some steps you have done to simplify your life of clutter??

Saturday, December 24, 2011

So cute: Reusable snack and sandwich bags

I have one daughter in school who of course takes her lunch. My husband and I also take our lunches to work. When we travel we like to take healthy snacks also. Today at Dealpulp there is a great deal on reusable snack and sandwich bags. Buy a voucher for only $15 and receive $30 worth of Reusable items. Not only are these better on the environment than throwing away all of your disposable items, but they are cuter also. Also, it doesn't take too long to rack up $15 worth of Ziploc type baggies, so you will be saving money.
I bought 2 deals, one for our family and one for my best friend who has a birthday coming up! Thanks for checking it out.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Looking towards 2012

Well it's that time of year again....
Organizing the pantries!! That's right folks, time to see what all we have, what all we need and what we need to eat ASAP.
Normally my husband is off for a few weeks at Christmas so it gives us a great time to clean and organize. Just a few suggestions for parts of the house:

If you haven't worn it in the last year, throw it out. Donate those things that are still wearable.
Go through your shoes and you will probably find at least a couple that don't have a mate... throw that out.
Go through the kids toys. Fix what needs to be fixed, throw out those things that can't be fixed, and donate those things that the kids have outgrown or no longer play with.

Make sure everything is rotated and in date. Those things that may expire soon need to be put into a menu plan ASAP. There is nothing worse than throwing out food. I like to organize everything also. All the jars sorted and with like items. Everything facing the same way. I even make a list of everything I have so I will know what I may need to stock up on if it comes on sale soon.

I really like trying to declutter and be organized. I challenge you all to find a project to organize yourself a bit better and really work on it this coming year.

What are some of your ideas for the upcoming year to stay better organized?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Season coming to an end

Well the growing season here is just about over. It has been a pretty good year. We had lots of fruit, corn, okra, squash, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers etc. but we didn't have near as many tomatoes or peppers as normal. It was really wet and they just didn't produce. We still had plenty, but not a BUMPER crop like we normally do. Also the pecans didn't do too well this year either.
Now, we have turnips left in the garden and probably will for a few more weeks, but then we will be calling it done for a few months. We are still getting plenty of eggs which is great. I'm able to sell 3-4 dozen a week at my work for $2 a dozen which at least helps to pay for feed. I'm excited about next years garden and harvests and wish all of you a very bountiful year.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Family Table

I grew up not knowing any better... I thought that all kids had dinner at night at the table with their families. I thought that all mothers cooked the evening meal and it was shared in a long drawn out enjoyable process.... But I have lived and learned that unfortunatly that is not always the case.

There has always been something very special about the kitchen table. Even though my children are still young ( 5, 4 and newborn) we have always made it a priority to eat dinner together nightly. On the weekends we also eat lunch there and most mornings we eat breakfast there, although now that the oldest is in school, normally my husband and I will eat together first, then she will get up and have her breakast a little later.

We talk about the day, we talk about the weather, we learn a lot about what happened in each other's day. It's a time that the phone isn't answered, the tv isn't on, the music isn't on and we just enjoy each other's company.

I really encourage all of you to get into the habit of having family meals together as often as you possibly can. It's such a precious time and I really think that it's something that as a culture we have gotten away from, and something we need to return to.

Do you all have special family meal times or special nights? ( I like to have lasagna on Sundays after church)?
Do you find family meal time to benefit the closeness of your family?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas for FREE from Amazon

So if you have been reading my blog you probably remember me mentioning a few of my favorite sites that I used to earn Amazon credits. Well even though I insisted that I didn't need nor want anything for Christmas, but my husband wanted to get me something so I decided I would pick out a few things from Amazon, use my credits and get it free:)
Anyways I got the following:

I've been wanting to read this since I saw it came out. I'm looking forward to it. I'll write a review once I have read it.

I had one of these for camping but lost it somewhere a few years back. I know my husband and I always enjoyed it, but the kids never have really gotten a chance to pop popcorn over an open fire. So hopefully we will get a ton of use out of this soon!

To go with the popper....

And this is what I am really excited about... An Ice cream Maker!!!

I have been shopping for one of these and have been reading reviews and such. This one makes yogurt, sorbet and ice cream. I'm pretty excited...

The sites that I got all of my Amazon credits from are the following, they are all free and easy to use:

Search & Win

Superpoints This is a really fun easy one.

I would love to have any of you join and I would be happy to answer any questions. Happy earning!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Economics and the Homestead

Unless you absolutly never venture out to the outside world at all, you have probably heard about the recession, the "bad economy", Occupy protests etc.
I really started thinking about the economy and impacts it has had on people we know and really just Americans in general and came to a conclusion. It really shouldn't impact us all as drastically as it has.
I understant that if you have lost a job you may not be able to pay for your car payment, or your home, or a host of other things. But then I got to thinking about what actually is a necessity.
Cell phones are not.
Home phones are not, our ancestors didn't have them.
The internet is not.
Television is not.
Newspaper and magazine subscriptions are not.
Really I think that if MOST Americans were to go through their monthly bills they would find a whole mess of things that are necessary and really they don't HAVE to have. I realize I'm preaching to the choir because those that read my blog realize this, but still....

I also started to think about this new found revelation everyone seems to be having regarding gardening and frugal living and such.
It's sad that it has taken many people losing a lot of money to realize how important agriculture is to our society. Many people are know growing their own gardens in order to supplement their grocery budget in order to get more fresh produce. That is great for them and I'm glad to see it, however it's sad that it has taken an economic recession for many to realize it.

I guess my point is that when thinking about my family , in good times or in bad times : we eat the same.
We are still going to forgo prime rib and pork chops from factory forms and harvest and process our own venison. It doesn't matter what our pocketbook looks like at the time, that's not going to change.
I could afford to buy $6 boxes of highly processed, sugar laden cereal for my kiddos, however a canister of steel oats works just fine.
Enough about food.

I often also see that people are trying to conserve energy by doing things like drive their car less and be aware of their energy usage at their home. People need to be doing that anyways!! Show a little love here people, a recession isn't the only reason you should be thinking about conserving our natural resources. Yes it may be saving you money but it's saving much more than that. We have been on a mission to use as little energy as possible for as long as I can remember, and once again, recession or not I am committed to recylcing, reusing and conserving our resources.

So not my typical blog post I know, but hopefully something to chew on.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Something Fishy around here....

Those of you that have been reading my blog very long know that we eat wild game, and steer away from other types of meat. This limits us to 2 primary sources of meat 1) deer (venison) and 2) fish. We also are lucky sometimes to get shrimp, wild rabbit, duck, squirrel, even bear!
We eat a lot of fish though. Our favorite is crappie. I have said crappie before to some folks in the north and they look at me like I'm crazy, so I think it must be more of a Southern thing. Crappie fishing is great around our parts and easy and fun to catch. They are delicious to eat also.

Our daughters have been going fishing with us ever since they were tiny, but for whatever reason my oldest one is just now taking an interest in cleaning or scaling fish.

She was so excited to help her dad scale our recent catch. She worked so hard and wanted to make sure that the fish SHE scaled was the fish SHE ate that night for supper....

It's such a blessing to pass on skills like this to our children. I dare say that there are not many 5 year old girls that can bait a hook, catch a fish, then scale it BY HERSELF. Very proud of her.

You know the saying: If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Baby is here.... busy as always

Well first thing first, we welcomed a new little blessing into the world September 29th. I'm glad to report that both he and I are doing very well. He was a whopper ( 9 lbs 12 ozs) and the girls are just crazy about him.

Around the home front, we still have a few things producing, but it has slowed down considerably. Which is fine due to the fact that having a newborn takes a lot of time:) My husband and girls have been great though about helping out.

We have tons of greens. Mostly mustard and collards, and about every evening when it gets a bit cooler they will go pick a big batch. A little trick to gteting nice greens is to not pick them in the heat of the day, the leaves are wilted, but if you wait until a little later in the evening they perk back up, giving you crisper, fresher tasting greens.

Still getting lots of okra. Our favorite way to eat it is kind of fried, not deep fried, but just in some shallow olive oil after they have been sliced up into thin coins and rolled in some corn meal flour mixture. We also like them boiled, and before baby got here we pickled about 20 pints.

We are getting delicious Asian pears. We have 2 HUGE trees and are getting all the pears we could possibly want. We had a cousin call the other day wanting some and he picked a 5 gallon bucket in no time and you can't tell he was even here. We eat these normally just off the tree, last year my dad and I put some up into preserves, but even though they are tasty, we found we don't eat too many preserves, so we didn't put any more up this year. We still have probably 40 from last year that are still good.

It's deer season here also so that will keep my husband and the other men around here busy. My husband isn't really a hunter, but he is great at making sausage, summer sausage, etc and is a great help to others that do hunt. Plus we always end up with at least one deer in our freezer ready for the winter. I'm sure I'll have another post about deer hunting and deer meat in the future.

So that's it for now, just trying to get back in the routine of things and trying to get enough rest....

Thankful for our home, our family and our blessings!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

My First Giveaway!!!!!

I've always been a reader. I love to get lost in good books. But right now with babies and gardening and lots of outdoor activities I find it more and more difficult to find time to read a book. So my solution: MAGAZINES! I really enjoy strumming lazily through the pages of a good magazine while sitting on the front porch swing, sipping homeade lemonade and listening to the girls giggle while playing in the garden. Today's giveaway will give one lucky reader a subscription of their choice to one of my favorite magazines. I buy all of my magazines through Ebates.

Ebates is a site where you earn cash back for your purchases, and the store I normally buy from is   . They have specials where you will earn up to %51 percent cash back on magazine subscriptions. Sometimes they even send me $5 gift cards also to use towards my next purchase, which makes for some great prices.

Some of my favorite magazine subscriptions are:
Organic Gardening
Hobby Home Farm
Hobby Home
Vegetarian Times
Mother Earth News

There are several ways to enter this contest!

1. Be a subscriber to my blog and leave a comment telling me you are.
2. Sign up for ebates, it's free and let me know you signed up.
3. Post about my giveaway on your blog and leave a comment to link me to it.
4. Refer a friend to my blog, make sure they leave a comment letting me know who referred them and that they follow my blog themselves.

I'll draw a random winner Wednesday March 14th at noon CST and will send that person an email with the options for their subscriptions. All entries must be received by Noon CST Wednesday, March 14th. I'll also post the winner's first name and last initial on my blog with their Magazine choice. I'll have to have the winners address ( which you can send me privately) in order to send them a gift subscription.

Note: This giveaway is not endorsed by Ebates or , I just thought that it would be a fun thing for all my readers.

This post in linked up to the Homesteading Barn Hop, click below to enter:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


So we finally got around to picking peaches. Our peach trees didn't do too well this year, they were small and hard, they never seemed to ripen. Thankfully we have an organic orchard about 10 miles from our house, so we loaded up the girls and went to the Peach Orchard. Boy was it hot!

We found some good ones. I think all in all we ended up with 30 pounds. Unfortunatly they didn't last too long... I made some into pies, some I gave to my parents, we ate most of them just fresh because boy were they delicious.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just updates from our place

We've been busy. I've not been blogging :( I keep meaning too but something always comes up.

One thing that is going on right now is the fact that I am 35 weeks pregnant. I'm just really tired and the weather here has been soooo hot lately I just haven't done much. The heat also caused some problems in the garden. It was drought conditions for the better part of the summer growing season and some stuff just didn't grow. Tomatoes were one of them. I have enough to eat on sandwiches and make salads with, and I have made about 5 pints of salsa, but that's IT!! Last year by this time I had already put up over 150 jars of tomatoes in some form or fashion. This year they just didn't produce :( Neither did the peppers. Again, I had enough to eat, to put in fresh recipes, and I made a few jars of pepper sauce, but they just haven't produced this year either. Very sad.

I do have muscadines, boy do we have muscadines. But after doing an inventory of jelly from last year, and finding that I have over 75 jars of jelly, I may not force my pregnant self to toil away in the kitchen canning even more. I know I should, but I'm just not feeling it. There are plenty of people that would love to come pick them. The girls and I have been eating them for several days now, and I may pick some and just juice them... I haven't decided yet.

We also are getting okra still, and eggplant. The squash and cucumbers have had it for the season.

The pear trees are LOADED and if we can keep the deer out of them we'll have tons of pears here in a few months. I still have about 30 pear preserves left from last year, but really we all just love eating them fresh more than anything. They are are crunchy are delicious.

The chickens are good. 12 hens and a rooster. I am getting 8 eggs a day, and selling 2-3 dozen per week at my work for $2.50 a dozen. The rest of the eggs I use in cooking of course. My 5 year old LOVES hard boiled eggs and eats them almost daily. My husband and I love omelettes and my 4 year old just wants them scrambled.

It has been a good summer though. It's been hot, but I love spending time with my family and we are all healthy and happy. SO BLESSED.

Happy Homesteading everyone!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A start on the pickles

We love cucumbers around our house, the girls like to just eat them plain, sliced into little coins, my husband and I like them in salads, and also in a vinegar mixture with onions and tomatoes. But you can only eat so many fresh... so of course we have to have pickles!

I did two different kinds, one that are just whole, and the other that I call hamburger dill ( because most people use them on sandwiches and such). Somehow those didn't make it into the picture, but here they are all sliced up and ready to go.

So we ended up with some yummy canned goods. We love to take pickles with us when we go camping.
So there are 8 jars in the picture, then I did 3 more jars of the little dill slices, bringing me to 11 jars of pickles so far! I forsee more in the future though.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Things I just like...

My birthday is coming up and my husband has been asking me if I would like a gift. We typically don't do gifts for birthdays for each other, but it has gotten me thinking about some of my favorite things I have around the house that helps me on my "Homesteading Quest".

Ice Cream Maker:
- I would love an old fashioned hand cranked Amish one, but for now I do enjoy my little electric one. We enjoy homeade ice cream basically all year round, not just the summer.

My Ball Canner:
-I love my canners, I have an old pressure canner from my aunt that I use a lot, as well as just my good ole' water bath canner. I started out with a stash of jars of assorted sizes from my mom, and have picked up many more through out the years from yard sales. Many people will say "just take 'em", while many others I have found for a dime or a quarter.

Compost pail:
-This is totally not necessary, you don't need a compost pail, but I got one last year from Lehman's that I love. It is a very nice bamboo one with a plastic pail inside with a handle, that has a nice top with a charcoal filter. It looks very attractive on my counter and most people never would even know what it is.

Wheel barrow:
I'm not sure of the brand or anything but I love my wheelbarrow. We have one large one, then one kid sized one that the girls use. We use these all the time.

Magazine subscriptions:
- I really love my mags... I subscribe to several and I enjoy getting them in the mail and reading them, most of the time cover to cover. Some of my favorites are
- Mother Earth News
- Organic Gardening
- Vegetarian Times
- Hobby Farm
- Hobby Home Farm

There are many more things, but this is a good list. What about your one " must-have"??

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Into the freezer we go....

At the first of the year you may recall that I set a rather lofty goal of putting up 600 "somethings" this year. It could be pints, quarts, baggies, etc. It hasn't been going to well. There has been tornadoes, storms, flooding, and drought, and things aren't doing as well i would like for them to. Add in there me being due in September and not having energy after running after two other little ones, and that's where we are. Anyways, the point of this post was to show my corn. My beautiful corn. Our family loves it. This year, no one around here really made much corn due to the afore mentioned weather related issues, and what was selling last year at the farmers market at 8 ears for $1 is ( prepare to be in shock) is now selling for 3 ears for $1. People around here just didn't have their corn make. Including us. What we did have though we have been eating for supper, but today I froze some.
After I shucked it, I put it in the sink and washed it some more. We don't like any silk at all on our corn! Then I simply put it into freezer baggies, in multipes of 4-5 which is what it takes for our family for one meal. I got 6 bags out of it. It's a start for sure, and hopefully I'll run across some more corn to put up, as 6 bags of corn won't last very long around here. Some people did do a late planting, so hopefully those will be more abundant and I'll get some more corn!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

The Fourth of July is such a great holiday around our place. It really is a celebration of all the things that we are free to do here in our country, especially freedom of religion. We have several family members serving in the Armed Forces and we appreciate their sacrifices and all the others that are away from their homes and families working so hard to keep us free. We have so much to be thankful for here in America.

We started our Holiday Festivities last night at church when we had a special service for the evening revolving around our Independance, then we had a good ole' fashioned ice cream supper! YUMMY.

This morning we woke up to find a pesky oppossum in our live trap we had set out in our chicken coop after something had gotten 4 of my daughter's Silkies the night before. After feeding all the animals, we had a nice breakfast of pancakes with strawberries and blueberries. Then the girls wanted to go fishing. We have several ponds on our properties and although they do have some larger fish like catfish and bass, those aren't near as easy or fun to catch, so we settled on trying to catch little perch. The girls ended up catching a pretty good sized Red Ear a peice. My father had caught a nice mess of crappie last night, so we just added our 2 fish to that. It's so cute to hear them say " This will be yummy for dinner!".

Then we had a small lunch outside under the big tree. The girls swam in their little pool, and we had sandwiches and chips, and homeade ice cream. My Aunt and nephew is up from Texas and everyone else came outside to hang out for a while.

Then it was nap time. Then we ran down the road to the fireworks stand and each girl got $3 to spend on stuff. They each got a few sparklers, and a few small fireworks.  Now we are just waiting on dusk so we can do some fireworks.

It's a nice day to spend with the family. We are blessed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Seasonal eating and something weird going on with my blog

First of all I just want to say I'm having problems responding to my comments. It keeps directing me to the page to log in, which I do, then to the page to comment, then back to the log in. So I haven't been able to respond to my comments as of lately, but please keep them coming, as I love to hear from you all.

Seasonal eating is something I think pretty foreign to most people, but those of you that follow my blog probably get the jest of it pretty well. Living in the South does have a fairly long growing season and that makes it easier. I think that seasonality is something important to really learn for ourselves as well as to teach our children. My 5 year old can already tell you that if you are eating a fresh strawberry in December it is not from our state!
Eating in season is important for many reasons:
1) Quality of food
When you are eating something in season, it has grown to it's desired ripeness, under the conditions it was mean to grow under. Buying a local fresh peach in June provides , picked at it's ripeness provides better quality nutrients as well as taste. Most nutrients aren't even fully activated until the food is ripe. Thus when you pick a tomato 3 weeks before it is ripe, transport it 1500 miles to the supermarket, the consumer really isn't getting all the "promised" nutrients. Even vine ripened tomatoes from your garden start to lose some of it's nutrient value the moment that it is picked. That's why it makes my heart happy to see my girls picking tomatoes right from the vine and popping them in their mouth right their in the garden.
2)Environmental concerns
Going back to the tomato that was picked in Mexico, ( unless you live in a border town which we do not) it has to be transported. In a truck. Using lots of gas. Emitting lots of fumes.
There is something that strikes me very unnatural about our current food system and most of it stems from the transporting step. Even if a farm 1500 miles away can grow, pick and sell in bulk they still have lots of extra steps that you are in fact paying for. Someone has to pick that fruit or veggie for you. ( I won't go into labor concerns in this post, but that is a whole other consideration). They have to pack it, even if it's just in cardboard boxes, then they have to load it on a truck, then they have to drive it. Then someone has to load it into a warehouse, then load it back onto a truck to be distributed to the grocery store, ( again being driven) then it has to be unloaded at the store,

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bread anyone?

We love our carbs around here. This morning we went to the garden and picked some fresh herbs ( rosemary, basil, dill, thyme) and also some peppers. There is not too much better than fresh bread with fresh herbs in it. I made this 2 lb loaf in my bread maker with plenty of herbs and a couple of diced pepper. So yummy! This will be great for sandwhiches, or just to eat with our meal. Sometimes I make one that has a ton of garlic, chives and grated parmasan also. It is very good and hearty, especially with soups.
I know that most people think of breads in the winter time, and we eat a ton of bread then, but I think bread is also great in the summer time also. I love using my oven all winter long, but with the heat of summer, the breadmaker is a nice fill in.

Friday, June 17, 2011

And it begins

Our summer garden always is our largest. It's a tad bit more difficult on me this year being 7 months pregnant and having heat in the 100s daily, but we are getting in all kinds of goodies.
We are getting squash, several varieties of peppers, a couple kinds of cucumbers and tons of herbs daily now. Also about every 3 days I have a nice mess of green beans to cook. My daughter couldn't resist the fresh corn , so we picked a few years for supper. They were great, but will be just perfect in about one more week.
We are still getting a few blueberries, but I'm afraid those will be finished in about another week. Last year we went to a local blueberry farm and picked several gallons and I hope to do that again this year. They plant successionally so they should still have blueberries for several more weeks. Best thing about blueberries? BLUEBERRY COBBLER!

Happy Homesteading everyone!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cabbage Casserole- Local too I might add!

I had to share this recipe, because as I started making it I realized it is all from local produce. It's a great meal, which I make a lot, I always make a huge pan and we eat it for several days. I just call it Cabbage Casserole, not sure what it is called for real, but I just kind of make it up as I go.

A huge head of cabbage from our garden is cut up into small peices. I layer about 3 cups in the bottom of a casserole dish.

While that is happening I brown up a pound of ground deer meat ( which we processed ourselves, from a deer taken about 3 miles away), and add 2 green onions chopped from our garden.
Once everything is brown, I add a jar of tomatoes that I canned from our garden last year.
I then add 1.5 cups of long grain organic brown rice. Our state grows a TON of rice. Not only are there huge farms that grow rice that exports all over the world, but we have several smaller farmers that grow rice on a smaller scale and grow it organically. I bought this rice at the farmers market in bulk, from a farm about 25 miles from our house.

Then you stir it all together. You put half of the mixture onto your cabbage, then put another layer of the cabbage and finish up by spreading the other half of the mixture on top.

Then you put it in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes ( I'm not sure on the time, so just check it). I then add shredded cheese to the top and put it back in the oven for about 10 minutes to let it melt. The cheese is from a local dairy farm that I buy in 1 pound blocks, then use a grater to shred. I've been buying cheese from them for as long as I can remember. We bought cheese from them when I was a girl. They are about 30 miles down the road, and I buy it from the farmers market.
The finished product looks like this...

Delicious, cheap and will last several meals. My husband and I normally put hot sauce on ours, and sometimes I put fresh jalepenos on about half ( the girls don't like the jalepenos) but this pregnancy isn't liking hot sauce tonight, so my husband had to enjoy the spiciness solo, but I do recommend a little hot sauce on it.
Pretty local too I might say......

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gardening Update

Summer is here, our thermometer read 102 on Friday, with a very high humidity. Being almost 6 months pregnant now, I'm feeling it more than normal. The key it to get out very early in the morning, when the heat is standable, and then very late in the evening, when the sun is going down. But anyways, here are a few updates from around our house.
You may not can tell too well, but here are a few stacks of wood that my husband and brother cut recently. The storms blew down a ton of large trees around our place, but the good news is that now we have enough wood for the winter.

Here is a picture of our well. There is a pulley system from the top, and the bucket can be raised from there. There is a lock on it, with a key hidden , just for safety precaution since we do have young children. Let me tell you , it has the coldest water I have ever tasted. So delicious.It has been here for about 90 years, and even though I'm no where near that old, I've been told that it's only been dry twice.
Our corn is growing nicely. We should certainly have some coming off by the fourth of July. I can almost taste how yummy it will be.
Our lovely grape vine. This produces some very sweet, seedless grapes. Our yield from this has been slowly increasing the last several years, and I'm hoping for the trend to continue.
This though is my pride and joy. I'm kind of taking the picture funny, at the end of the arbor, kind of underneath, but these are my muscadines. This is a grape like variety that grows well in the south. They do have a seed in them, but the girls never seem to care, they just pop them in their mouths, then spit out the seed. It makes delicious jelly and juice. I save some of the juice to freeze for smoothies, as well as just to drink like you would drink grape juice. These have just produced so, so well. Plus I think they are pretty beautiful.
Yes those are green beans that you spy! It won't be long until I can pick a nice mess for supper. It seems that no matter how many I plant, I never have many left over for canning. We eat these things as fast as they can get into the kitchen. I normally have enough for maybe a few pints, then the rest I put in our vegetable soup, the rest is just pure goodness we eat the same day they are picked.
Maybe I'll do a part 2 later this week to show you my tomatoes, peppers, herbs, squash, etc. This post is getting fairly long, and I don't want anyone to go to sleep here on me. Summer is here, it's hot, but the garden is growing great and we are getting to sample the goodies that lay ahead. Happy Homesteading all....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I hope everyone is safe

We've had a very crazy and scary last few weeks around here with weather. About 3 weeks ago we had a tornado that literally just missed our home. We have neighbors less than 1/2 mile away whose homes were completly destroyed. We were safe and sound in our storm cellar, and heard it come through. The girls ( and myself!!) were all very scared. We had several large trees blown over and had some property damage, but thank goodness our home is livable and we were all safe. One of my dearest friends, who has children the same age as mine had their home completly destroyed. Thankfully they are all safe too.

Then started the rain.....

I felt like Noah for a while there. We couldn't get out of our house for several days due to flooding of large creeks and streams around our place. Times like that makes it so nice to have menus planned, stockpiles of necessities etc on hand.

Since then we have had several more instances of heavy rain and in the last week there have been several more tornado threats around our area.

I think this was really a great eye opener and made me really realize what is important and gave me some ideas for ways to be more self reliant and also more prepared for a disaster. For one thing the girls each have a backpack now to grab and take to the cellar. It has a few small toys, a few books, crayons and such but also has things like an ID of " who I belong to, with contact name and numbers" in case something terrible happened and they were seperated from us in a disaster. Also they each have flashlights, batteries, bottled water, blankets, extra socks and a small first aid kit. My husband and I have a larger version of that also, with a few additional items in it such as cash...., copies of important documents, snacks etc.

I hope all of you think of ways that would be helpful to ensure that everyone is kept safe and sound. Of course there are so many other things you would probably need, but you have to start somewhere.

If you have infants you would probably need some disposable diapers, formula ( if you use it) bottled water , blankets, etc.Also always include any medications, contacts, eye glasses etc.

I hope the storms wane for a while and I hope that you all out there are still safe and sound with your families!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Our Church Homecoming

Today is a special day for us at church. It is our annual Homecoming service at church. I've mentioned the idea of homecoming to some and they don't know what one is, so I don't know if it is a Southern thing or if it's just uncommon but it's always has been a part of our church.

The church we attend has been around for 139 years this year!! Of course over time we built knew building and expanded a bit, but the actual location and even peices of the foundation have remained. The story goes that during the Civil War there was a Confederate soldier that had been injured battle and prayed that if the Lord allowed him to leave he would devote his life to service. So the soldier did live and became the first pastor at our church. This church holds a lot of special memories for me, my grandparents were married there, my parents were married there, my husband and I were married there, both girls were dedicated there and it's just a wonderful place for us to go workship as a family and grow together spiritually.

It still has the same values that it did almost 140 years ago. We use hymnbooks and sing many of the same songs. On homecoming we arive at 9:45 and have an hour of singing, then have an hour of preaching then about 30 more minutes of singing while the ladies set out the "dinner on the grounds". We actually use tables outside, not on the ground but for some reason we still call it that. We have a delicious lunch then back for another 2-3 hours of singing and preaching. The homecoming part comes in because this is a time that people from all over that have ever attended this church come back "home" and fellowship with people they know. This means many family members that have moved away visit for the weekend and it's nice to see everyone.

I'm making
- my grandma's Wesson Oil Cake ( healthy I know, but hey.... it's tradition)
- deviled eggs
- No bake chocolate oatmeal cookies ( the girls always ask for these)
- white beans
-broccoli and rice casserole

There will be so much delicious food and some wonderful fellowship and I'm excited to get it started!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Busy Saturday!

As always! The Master Gardeners of our County are having their yearly plant sale, so me, hubby, the girls and my mother loaded up and drove into town. It was a great day for it and they had lots of great stuff. We bought too much as always but there were a few things I wanted to point out that we bought.

Chocolate Mint- This is a great little herb that I had seen and smelled in other people's gardens but up until today I had never owned one. They smell just like CHOCOLATE! It's an agressive herb so I planted in it's own little spot and it should spread pretty well. It's great ( so I've been told) in soaps and other homeade smelly goods as well as a great garnish on homeade ice creams and desserts.

I also bought 3 more blackberry bushes , we love our blackberries and every year we add several more and every year we say " we could use some more".

I also got some Cilantro plants. I planted a patch from seed and they are coming up fine, but these are larger and we use a lot of Cilantro in our salsa.

We are harvesting rainbow swiss chard now and are enjoying that for supper every night. The rainbow part is really such a draw for the girls. They love it!

We also are getting our own strawberries now, as well as broccoli, lettuces, green onions and radishes. I'm hoping next week to start picking a few cabbages.... yummy.

Until next time
- Happy Homesteading

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom....

"A government big enough to give you everything you need, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have...."

- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, May 9, 2011

Updates from April

Okay, it's once again time for my monthly check in. April was full of craziness, we do live in the South and were involved with the tornadoes ( thankfully we were in the cellar), and flooding, but hopefully things will start to calm down a bit now.

Here is what I wrote back in January....One of the things I would like to do ( and at least keep track of) is to "put up" 600 pints of goodies this year. I'm @ 11 out of 600, as I put up a batch of strawberries. It's a start but 600 seems so far away!

A few other things I would like to do this year

- complete 20 scrapbook pages - nothing here, I need to do our Christmas pages, fall pumpkin pictures and our snow pictures, this normally happens the year AFTER, during the winter when i have some time to spread everything out and just do it.

- Read 10 books - Hey I have read a few books. You can see them on my book Review page. I am actually doing quite well on these, I've read 7 of the 10. This shouldn't be a problem. I realize that 10 isn't a lot, however with 2 babies, ( and one on the way) and an expanding homestead, I find it difficult to sneak in reading time.

- Make rock candy with the girls- Nothing here either. I think they will enjoy it though and I can't wait to try.

- Go camping at least 5 times this year- Nothing yet, it's just now beginning to be camping season, and we me being pregnant and the temperature being so humid and hot in our parts, we may not get to go often. My oldest daughter does have a 4H camping trip planned with my husband so that will be fun for them.

-Plant the girls a large wildflower patch for them to make bouquets out of - We have sprouts, we planted two large rows in the gardens of nothing but wildflowers. They seem to growing well. In the meantime, they are making do picking all my peonies, roses and violets....

- plant 2 additional fruit or nut trees- This was done back in my March updates. YAY!

- Earn at least $100 in Amazon codes from Swagbucks and/or Irazoo - use these for Christmas - I have earned from Swagbucks, and  from Irazoo, so let's just call it $25 out of the $100. Not bad.

-Make fresh, homeade peanut butter with the girls - :( wow this is kind of depressing. I haven't done this yet either.

- Host a giveaway on my blog - Nothing here, I have a few ideas though for something soon.

- have 50 followers on my blog - I have 26 followers out of the 50! Thanks guys! Not sure why I chose 50, but it seemed like a good number??

On a side note, we are getting more broccoli than we can handle, and I am passing it on to friends and family. I know we should use it up now as it is getting warmer here and the broccoli won't last. We are also getting cherries!! They are delicious, we just have to beat the birds to them.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Had to share a pic from our place

A icon of the days of summer in the country.... the tire swing.... wow my girls are lucky.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chicken update

 Chickens are a staple around our place. We love them for 1) the eggs, 2) the companionship they bring to us, especially the girls and 3) the insect control around the gardens. So I had to share a picture of some new chickens we have.

We have 30 chicks right now, a mixture of Silkies, Koshen and Buff Orphintons.

Crossing our fingures they stay safe and warm and will not all be roosters!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

And the canning season has started!!!

Back in January one of my posts talked about my goal to put up 600 "somethings" this year: pints, quarts, gallons, WHATEVER!I have been canning and freezing stuff ever since I was little, first assisting with my mother, then for my own family and this is just something I feel strongly about. I have my 2 little girls help me now, so they can learn how to do it for themselves.

So here is an update for April. We have local strawberries. The strawberries we planted are a later variety, but are looking promising, but I bought the ones I used in the picture from about 15 minutes down the road from a local farmer who uses organic practices. We have been buying from his family for as long as I remember.
I put up 7 jars of strawberry jam ( I know that one in the back is pretty pitiful looking and only 1/4th full, but I don't waste anything and I'm pretty proud of it anyways. And then also to the right are 4 containers of strawberries that will be frozen. The frozen strawberries are delicious in smoothies and homeade ice cream, and there is also a strawberry cake I make that the frozen strawberries work great for. So I'm going to say that of the 600 "somethings" I'm at 11..... Wow what a ways to go, but I keep telling myself it's only April and 99.9% of the stuff I'll can hasn't even happened yet. I konw that the next few months will be very busy.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Just wanted to share a picture....

I haven't updated lately and I really am trying to be more consistant. I just wanted to share this picture, of my daughter and my father. It's priceless to me!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Our Easter Menu

We enjoyed a beautiful church service today and will have lunch with my parents, my 2 brothers, my uncle and my grandparents today after church. We'll have lunch outside under the big oak tree. Our menu:

- Fried Catfish ( caught yesterday of course)
- french fries ( from home grown potatoes)
- jalepeno hushpuppies
- coleslaw ( with cabbage from our garden)
- green onions ( from our garden)
- bread and butter pickles ( put up from last year)
- homeade tartar sauce
- grilled shrimp ( brought home from last time we were in the gulf)

For drinks we have strawberry lemonade
and for dessert stawberry shortcake with strawberries picked yesterday, homeade shortcake and homeade cream.

Wow, I love living in the county :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Looking forward to some home grown food....

The weather around here has been fairly nice lately. We have gotten to be outside a lot more than normal and everything has been quite mild. We do have the very beginnings of little crowns of brocolli and also tiny little cabbages are forming.

Our strawberries are blooming, and we have already been getting green onions fresh for dinner nightly.

My girls are little "florists" and love picking wildflowers and making bouquets in Mason jars, so this year, we tilled up a bit extra of the garden and made two full rows of nothing but wildflowers. Forget me nots, Zinnias, hollyhocks etc. They are all spouting very nicely and I hope to have a houseful of fresh flowers all summer long...... it helps with pollination also which is an added benefit.

I have 3 hens setting right now, on what looks to be about 5 eggs a peice, so in about 2 more weeks we should have close to 15 baby chicks. What a wonderful time for the girls when chicks are born.

Our 4 little ducks have lessened to only 3, which was quite traumatic to my older daughter ( she's 5) and felt that she didn't take good enough care of it, which is why it died. It's hard for a mother to watch her children hurt, but the amazing lessons that can be taught raising animals is tremendous. It does make my heart rejoice to see such a small child taking such an interest in caring for animals. I'm a pretty proud momma for sure.

Our homeade ice cream maker has bit the dust, which I'm pretty certain is well over 30 years old, as my mother gave it to me probably 10 years ago, thinking it would only last one more season.... So I am diligently searching for a new ice cream maker, as nothing is better in the summer than fresh cherry or strawberry ice cream. I also freeze the leftovers ( or make an extra batch) and we can enjoy it for the rest of the year.

That's about all for now. I have to catch up reading some of the blogs I follow. I really enjoy getting to know what's going on around other homesteads.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Know Your Food!!

I took this picture last summer in San Francisco when I was doing a farm tour of that area. There is some awesome stuff happening in California involving the local food movement. Today I just wanted to get you all thinking about what you can do to support local farmers and increase your nutrition and health by eating foods where you know the origination.

I live in the South and the majority of the crops around here are 1) soybeans, 2) cotton or 4 ) corn. The corn for the most part is that for livestock, but there are several corn fields around here that still grow the delicious sweet corn that most of us are used to.

There is also a growing movement of small farmers around my area. I stay out of the grocery store as much as possible and would love to rely even less on imported food, even if it is imported from across the country. There is something very patriotic and revitalizing for me to buy local, delicious products from someone just down the road from me. I love knowing the farmer, knowing their family, knowing their practices etc.
The first step to eating locally, at least for me and my family is to grow all that I can myself. We grow  large varieties of vegetables, have fruit trees, pecan trees, fruit bushes, herbs and have chickens for our eggs. I try to can, preserve, freeze, or dry any excess for the winter. The second thing I like to do is to buy from local farmers. There is a lovely family about 25 miles from my home  that provides delicious cheese, yogurt, and milk. And honestly, their prices are very comprable to the organic gallon jugs of milk at the grocery store. The cheese is outstanding and they offer several different flavors.
There are some things that we have not  mastered yet as a family such as asparagus, but their is a grower in the county next to us that has wonderful asparagus when they are in season- so we get it from him. There are other things too that we typically get from local farmers throughout the year. Last year we didn't have near enough blueberries so I bought several more gallons from a local grower. There is an older lady I know that has amazing wild blackberries which she offers for us to pick for free ( and of course I always pick plenty for her which she appreciates).
There is a grain mill about 40 minutes from out home which we buy local flour and other grains from. I'm really striving to buy as much locally as possible and eventually would love to buy EVERYTHING we eat from a local supplier.
There are things that although not necessities that I still buy from a local grocer such as almonds, coconut, sugar, baking powder, salt, cocoa, etc.

I guess the point of my rambling is that you CAN buy a lot more locally than you think. I obviously don't know where everyone lives, but I'm certain that with a little bit of trying that there are ways to really support your local farmers. A few posts ago I talked about ways you can find out what is offered in your area. Check out the post here.

How are you all supporting your local farmer?