Sunday, December 30, 2012

Thinking ahead: Canning Part 1- Equipment

Okay, if you have followed me for very long, you know I love to can. I find it so rewarding to put away delicious treats we have grown for the winter. Our garden for this year is winterized, but it won't be too many months and our garden will be up and going ahead with some yummy Spring vegetables and then fruits.

Something great you can be doing now ( as I type there is snow on the ground from the snow storm that left us without power for 4 days last week) is start thinking about canning this Spring and Summer. Part One of this will be about the Equipment you may need, and then I'll have a Part Two about planning your produce.

If you haven't canned before start musing if you want to. If you do ( and boy is it fun) start looking for your equipment. Depending on what kinds of produce you want to can determines what you may need. Just started out I would recommend just a good old Granny-ware water bath canner like the one below.

You can buy them from stores like Lehmans, Amazon, Ball Home Canning or even mass merchants like Walmart. You may be able to find one at little thrift stores or flea market sales though, so be on the lookout.

I also like to have the jar lifter, lid lifter and the funnel. Those can be bought at the stores listed above, or again you can regularly find them at thrift stores.

If I use the pressure canner ( for things like greenbeans or veggie soup) I normally enlist my momma as she is much more versed in pressure canning. I honestly find green beans fine as frozen or even pickled like as in Dilly Beans.

You will of course need jars also. I find these at Thrift stores, or places like Home Depot , Kroger or Target. You could look around on Craigslist also as I have found some advertised there for very cheap. This is something that can be reused each year as long as there are no cracks or chips in it. I know some people reuse the seals, I do not. I find that I get a better seal out of them if I buy them new. It's worth it to me to buy new seals each year if I know that my bounty will be protected even better. The rings or lids I resuse year to year.

When thinking about jars you need to think about what all you are hoping to can, I use pint and quart jars for things like pickles, salsas, soups, and jellies. I tend to use smaller pints and half pints for things I might give as gifts or things we don't use quickly like pepper relish, jellies or jams. Also having a variety of sizes on hand gives you the option to not waste any of your produce. Sometimes I get down to the last of my batch and have just enough for a half pint.

Pressure canners ( as mentioned before) are better for foods that are low in acid and many people use them for things like red meat, seafood, poultry and MOST fresh vegetables with the exception of tomatoes. ( Again this is why you find that I freeze alot of stuff or pickle it).
You can find a lot of great information about pressure canning at Canning Pantry.
These can be a great asset if you plan to can a lot instead of freeze, or if you just prefer the taste of canned vegetables over frozen. These are a bit more complicated, but you shouldn't be discouraged, you can follow directions and learn how to do it fairly easily.

The last way to can is Steam Canning which I have to admit I don't have much experience with. It is certainly something I would like to learn more about though. The information I found though from the USDA doesn't recommend using it because " steam isn’t as effective at transmitting heat through to the center of the jars as boiling water is. It’s this heat penetration that ensures both the safety of your product (it kills off any possible contaminants) and the efficacy of your seal." I know some of my readers have used it before and been successful, but like I said I haven't used it and am not sure if I will be trying it anytime soon as long as I'm successful with the other two methods, along with freezing, drying and dehydration.

Well this was much longer than intended. Stay tuned for Part Two which talks about Canning and produce.

Happy Homesteading.......

Linked up to Monday Homesteading Barn Hop

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Review- We Had Everything But Money

I purchased this book " We Had Everything But Money" at a flea market recently for $2! I have been kind of seeing it here and there and always forgot to look for it at the library, so I was happy to find it.

Priceless Memories of the Great Depression.
They are indeed priceless. There are numerous stories of inspiration, dedication, community and love in this book. It is a collection of different stories, rememberences, recipes etc. of the Depression Era. The stories are a light read, and you can read several stories at a time.

The Pictures.
Oh my there are amazing pictures in this book. I shared some with the girls, pictures of feed sack dresses, little ones peddling apples, just amazing pictures of our nation's history. I would say this would make a great coffee table type book ( if you are into that sort of thing).

Bottom line.
I liked it. It is well worth $2 :). It wold be worth more than that though. I could see it being used as part of homeschool unit about the Great Depression. It could really be inspirational to be happy with what you've got, and it teaches about the human spirit.

Until next time...
Happy Homesteading...

Linked up with Monday Barn Hop

Monday, December 10, 2012

Trip to the Flea Market this weekend

Even though it is approaching Mid December, it was still beautiful weather this weekend, ( and my daughter's birthday) and she wanted nothing more than to go the the "Flea Market". This is an outdoor event a few towns over that has a huge livestock auction, vendors selling homeade food ( AKA the BEST homeade tamales you will ever eat), play things for the kids and of course tons and tons of vendors, everything from the junkiest of junk to very nice, hand made quality goods. There are also a ton of animals for sell, which the kids love to look at and pet.

It is a great time I must admit.

The first good deal I got was a book I have been wanting for a while that just popped out at me, from a pile of all kinds of books.
It was a whopping $3, but I asked him if he would take $2 and he said yes. I will review this book later I'm sure but I have already read a lot of it, and it's super fun.

I found a vendor that had random boxes of things like toothpaste, floss and deodorant, and then there was a box of flower seeds. You know the little packets with things like Marigolds, Dahlias and such? I asked how much and was returned with a " $1 a handful" and he gave me a plastic sack. I got a handful of seeds ( which don't expire until 2013). When we got home the girls and I counted them and ended up with 40 packs of various flower seeds, 4 packs of pumpkin seeds and 3 packs of Kentucky Wonder Pole beans . If you recall my middle child is my flower child and so enjoys her flowers. This will be fun for her to plant this spring.

The last thing I got was a beautiful set of 6 salad plates. They are so pretty. Each one has a different chicken scene on it. I saw them and remarked how lovely they were so my mother bought them for me for Christmas.  $5 for 6 HIGH QUALITY, BEAUTIFUL salad plates. She has them in her posession and will wrap them for me for Christmas. I'll try to remember to post a picture of them when I get them.

It was a great day. We were outside, we were with family, we had good food, good fellowship and my kids learned that you don't have to go into a mass box store to get good deals.

Until Next time...
Happy Homesteading!

Linked up to Artful Tuesdays

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Listia- An Online auction site using points only

Nothing too Homestead-ey about this post, except that it is frugal and fun, and hey what is a homestead if it can't be frugal and fun??

I'm not sure where I ran across it, but Listia is this fun little auction site that deals only in points, no money at all. You get a pretty decent batch of points when you sign up, here. With those points you bid on items that range from gift cards, to clothing, to books. DVDS, toys and so much more. Really anything. When you sell something on Listia, those points that are "paid" to you can then be used to purchase something from someone else. I've bought and sold on there about 10-15 times and have had great fun and found some good deals. So just wanted to share with my readers, I knew you would appreciate it!.

Hopefully you can find something to help you around the Homestead on there!

Until Next Time, Happy Homesteading.....

Monday, December 3, 2012

Deer Meat....

A few weeks ago my husband killed a deer. No matter how you look at it, it is still taking a life and we don't take it lightly. We teach our kids that it isn't a sport or a game, it is necessary for conservation efforts of the deer population, but it also provides our family with meat. I do'nt need meat to live, I have gone years without eating any meat at all, but my husband appreciates meat, and I don't mind so we do eat meat that we harvest and process ourselves. This includes deer of course.

We are blessed that my father in law shares our passion for good food and he has a "shop" that is fully equipped with a kitche, stove, wash area, walk in cooler and meat processing equipment. We stored the deer in his cooler until we could process it and this weekend we ground it.

We got:
- 6 lbs of chili meat ( which is just a little larger ground peices)
-6 lbs of ground burger meat ( which I use in spaghetti, meatloaf, really anyway you would use beef)
-30 lbs of summer sausage ( which is so delicious, as I use fresh peppers from the garden, and local hand crafted cheese)

My brother in law was also there and he gave us 5 additional pounds of ground burger, as there " is just one of him, but 5 of us". We are so blessed.

The summer sausage is a treat and most of the time we just do ground meat, but the summer sausage is great around the holidays to snack on, take to parties and use as gifts.

We expect to get at least one more deer this year which will fill or freezer up and will be good eating for the rest of the year.

Until Next time
Happy Homesteading

Linked up with Artful Homemaking, Monday Homesteading Barn Hop, TALU Tuesdays

One Small Thing- Honey

Let's talk about Honey! One thing that you can do this week during your Homesteading Quest is to think about honey. I have been purchasing local honey from an older gentlemen about 20 minutes from me, for as long as I can remember. My folks use to buy from him, and now I do to. I remember when I was small he would save the honeycomb for us and it was such a treat to chew on that sweet yumminess...

there have been lots of studies done that show eating "local" honey can help with allergies, as you are actually ingesting a very small amount of the local allergens through that honey, as that is what the bee is using to pollinate. I've never had allergies, but that makes sense to me.

Of course is would be wonderful if you harvested your own honey. I have longed for that, but it hasn't made it to the top of my must do list just yet, so for now I'm satisfied buying it from my elderly friend.

Honey is great to use as a sweetener for things like hot teas, yogurt, and baked goods. I will also say that a yummy dollop of honey on freshly baked biscuits on a cold morning really gets the day off to a good start. My girls also like honey bread, which is just a thick slice of homeade bread with melted butter and honey on it. Hey, not the healthiest in the world, but better than a twinkie and at least I know where it came from.

Honey is also great for many illnesses. My family uses it as we start to feel the approach of a cold, sinus infection or sore throat. My kids often ask for a teaspoon of honey for their "sore thoat" , which I know is just a plot for me to dispense the liquid gold, but I normally oblige....

So my challendge this week is to
-research local sources of honey for you
- experiment with ways to use honey in your families favorite meals, snacks and drinks

Let me know what you all are thinking!

Happy Homesteading.....

Linked up with Artful Homemaking, Monday Homesteading Barn Hop

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

One Small Thing- EGGS

One Small Thing- Eggs


I stated a few weeks ago in a blog post (here) that I wanted to start sharing a few small ways to really start sharing some great ways to start slooooooowly on your own Homesteading Quest.
One thing that I think everyone can do be it in the country or city is learn to love eggs. That's right EGGS!

I'm not talking about raising chickens ( we'll talk about that in another post) but I'm talking about really just learning to eat, cook and bake with eggs.

No matter where you get your eggs ( from your backyard chickens, neighbor, farmer's market or even the store) they provide a great source of cheap protein and are very versatile.

When trying to begin your homesteading quest, scratch cooking. learning to menu plan, more healthful eating and budgeting your grocery money better always seems to be up there on your list.

Learning how to eat eggs certainly fills all of those desires. It is a cheap, nutritious form of food that can really impact your grocery budget.

My oldest daughter LOVES hardboiled eggs, she eats them as snacks....and my husband and I do too sometimes. Isn't she cute??


So today, my challenge to you is to get 1 dozen eggs, hard boil them, peel them, and store them in a container in your fridge. When you need a snack, or a quick sandwich or salad topper, grab one or two and use it in your meal.

Tell me what you think? Could this save you money? Would your family enjoy some meals with more eggs in them? Would your pocket book enjoy it?

Happy Homesteading......

Linked up with Artful Tuesdays

Sunday, October 21, 2012

How to make Hot Pepper Relish

Whew... We are over -run with peppers this year. What a blessing. Not only have we been enjoying them fresh on things like pizza, tacos, in salads, and in soups, but I have been pickling them and making hot pepper relish as well.

So all of these beautiful peppers and honestly you can only eat so many, and you can only pickle so many, and we love our relish, so relish they were destined to be...

You can use all kinds and colors, if you want more of a sweet relish, then use sweeter peppers, we like hot relish so I used a lot of jalepenos and cayenne

I use white onions also, they seem to work better than the other kinds, and honestly the purple onions don't seem to work at all. I didn't measure this batch, but I'll post an official "recipe" in a bit if you want specific measurments. Cut off the tops of the peppers and put the peppers and the onions into a food processor. I use a little water to help get them all chopped nicely. You'll drain the water so don't worry about it now...

Here is my beautiful mix in a collander, draining all the water from it, this is about 4 blenders full

And here is a cloer picture , notice I keep the seeds in it. 1) it is way easier to dice them without having to take the seeds out and 2) it keeps it spicy!

This picture isn't showing a whole lot, but I put the pepper mixture into the big pot with vinegar ( again measurements below) and let them get to a rolling boil....

And then I put them into my sterilized jars.... I process them in a boiling water bath for about 15 minutes.

Close up because I think they are beautiful
We use them on bean dishes a lot, my dad loves them on hot dogs and smoked sausages.... It's very versatile and you can do a lot with it.

I adapted my recipe from That's my Home.
Hot Pepper Relish

18 red chili peppers, seeded and stemmed

18 green chili peppers, seeded and stemmed (can use bell pepper for less heat)

6-8 onions peeled (4 pounds)

1 tablespoon canning or regular salt

boiling water

2 1/2 cups cider vinegar

2 1/2 cups sugar

Put peppers and onions through food chopper, or chop in water in blender and drain. Place in 6 qt. kettle. Add salt; cover with boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes.

Drain and discard liquid. Add vinegar and sugar to vegetables. Bring to boil, simmer 20 minutes. Ladle into 7 pint jars, pressing down as you pack so liquid covers vegetables. Wipe jar rim, adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath 15 minutes. Start to count processing time when water in canner returns to boiling. Remove jars.

Note: Won first prize at New Mexico State Fair! Delicious! Sweet and hot!
I hope some of you love it and enjoy it as much as my family does.....

Happy Homesteading.....

Linked up to Homesteading Barn Hop, Little Homestead on the Hill,  Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, The Backyard Farming Connection, Fill those Jars Friday Artful Tuesdays TALU Tuesdays Mop it Up Mondays
Green Thumb Thursday

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Laura Ingalls Part 6: Other Books you might like

Part 1: Introduction to the Series, information about Laura
Part 2: The books!
Part 3: Dress like Laura
Part 4: Places to visit to have that "Laura Experience"
Part 5: Cook like Laura
Part 6: Other books you might enjoy

So we've talked about all kinds of Laura fun-ness. There are some other great books out there also for all of you fanatics. For the wee ones in your life there is a series called "My First Little House books"
These are more of a picture type book and most of them just condense one chapter of a Little House book into a small, easily read picture book. There is a whole set of these! Fantastic. You can find these on Amazon, Ebay and other sites. They are really easy to find, but I know that not everyone knows to be on the lookout for them. Definatly a must have for the little Laura Lovers in your life.

There is a great bio on Laura Ingalls Wilder that I found to be an easy , yet informative read.
Again Amazon is your friend on these books. Some of them are even free shipping.

The Little house Guidebook features beautiful photographs of the places where Laura and her family lived. This is a great picture bok for both adults and kids alike. There is a lot of narrative also though, it's not just pictures.
There are many other books out there also, I think you will find a quick looks-y around Amazon, Ebay or other book store site and you will have more to read than you can ever imagine.

This concludes my very pitiful attempt on intriguing my readers with Everything Laura. I have really enjoyed sharing this fantastic series of books and corresponding history lessons with my family. It gives me something positive to share, something that makes them love to learn and love to read. Something that at the end of the day I can feel good about them being interested in.Love to you Laura!!

_ Happy Homesteading Ya'll

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Laura Ingalls Part 5: Cook Like Laura

Part 1: Introduction to the Series, information about Laura
Part 2: The books!
Part 3: Dress like Laura
Part 4: Places to visit to have that "Laura Experience"
Part 5: Cook like Laura
Part 6: Other books you might enjoy

Maybe I should have titled it "eat like Laura" because some of it doesn't require a bunch of cooking, but none the less my girls and I have enjoyed trying out some of the things that are referenced along the way in the Little House Series.

First up! Honey!
In the book the girls were very excited when Pa went out into the woods and returned home with a story of out smarting a bear and then the corresponding honey bees to get a big batch of honey. We took that as a geat invitation to discuss things like pollination, functions of bees, and of course how honey is produced. We are fortunate to have several local beek keepers and I always keep a stock of raw fresh local honey. It was great to just get a spoon full and savor it while discussing it in the book.

Maple Syrup!
Maple syrup making is a process discussed a lot in the book. We don't tap trees anywhere around here, but I do splurge every so often and purchase the good stuff from Vermont. We talked about maple syrup making, how it has to be cooked and purified, how the book discuss Ma stirring it, and Pa tapping the trees and the sweet treats that were made from it. Be sure to sample maple syrup during your exploration into the Little House on the Prarie Books.

Drop Biscuits and Johnny cakes
Although not quite as exciting, we also have made biscuits and Johnny cakes that are discussed in the books. The girls were interested in the Johnny cakes and the book describes the reason Ma thinks they are called that ( you'll have to read it to find out!). This was a great lesson in basic cooking, stockpiling basics and simple techniques to ensure warm bread is on the table by using few ingredients.

There is also mention in the books about butchering there own meat. My girls are used to us eating venison , fish and other seafood so they are familiar with that process. The smokehouse is something else they know about as we smoke some of our meats in my father in laws small smokehouse. The process of curing a ham in a tree trunk though was new to them! It allowed us a chance to talk about food preservation in the "olden days" and ways Laura's family could preserve enough food to eat for the winter.

So what are some other ideas of fun foods to make or try with kiddos while discussing the Little House books??

Happy Homesteading!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Laura Ingalls Part 4: Places to vist for that "Laura" Experience

Part 1: Introduction to the Series, information about Laura
Part 2: The books!
Part 3: Dress like Laura
Part 4: Places to visit to have that "Laura Experience"
Part 5: Cook like Laura
Part 6: Other books you might enjoy

Part 4: Places to vist to have that "Laura Experience"
The picture above is from a cute little old Homestead we took the kids to recently. You can read about it here, but since we are right in the middle of the Little House books the girls really enjoyed seeing what some of the houses were like in the "olden" days. No, the house isn't exactly what the books describe as what Laura lived in, but the point is that we got out together and explored something new.
There are some actual "Laura" places to visit though. I know my readers are from all over, and some of these may not be feasible, but if you are close you could easily drop in.
There is a musuem in Walnut Grove, Mn. There is a festival, museum, even a Laura and Nellie look alike contest.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Musuem. This is located in Mansfield , Missouri and is where she settled later in life . This is where she wrote her Little house books.
The Little House Historic Homes is located in De Smet, South Dakota and is the setting for her book, Little Town on the Praire. Also in De Smet is the Ingalls Homestead This looks great, they offer covered wagon rides, you can look at the school where Laura and Mary went to school, run through the prarie grasses and so much more! Maybe one day I'll make it there!
If you live in Iowa you could visit a home she lived in as a child. The Laura Ingalls Park and Musuem has a Parade, a 5k, a musuem, gift shop and more.
If you are interested in Almonzo ( her husband) you can visit his boyhood home. It is located in Malone New York.  
Kansas, which is where the Prarie actually came into play has a great musuem also, with the one room cabin that is written about so often in the book series.  They offer lamplight tours and other events including re-enactments which sound really great!
Hopefully you all can visit one of these, or a similiar place to give yourself and your family a glimpse into the past.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Larua Ingalls Part 3: Dress like Laura

Part 1: Introduction to the Series, information about Laura
Part 2: The books!
Part 3: Dress like Laura
Part 4: Places to visit to have that "Laura Experience"
Part 5: Cook like Laura
Part 6: Other books you might enjoy

Part 3: Dress Like Laura

                                                                        photo credit

I love bonnets. I do. I can't help it. I think they are the cutest thing ever. Not only are they adorable but they serve a practical purpose as well.
I found a great tutorial at Given Moments Blog for all of crafty vixens out there ready to get your sew on.

There are also some on Etsy that other people have made. I found one seller here, that has super cute bonnets for as low as $8.50.  Ebay is another option of course, and I have found some really cute bonnets at thrift stores as well.

Dresses are adorable also. I love talking to the girls about fabric, and calico, and different patterns and swatches. A trip to the local fabric store, or maybe just into your sewing room would be a great side learning experience while reading the books.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Laura Ingalls Part 2: The books

Laura Ingalls Part 2: The Books
You can see here the other parts in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the Series, information about Laura
Part 2: The books!
Part 3: Dress like Laura
Part 4: Places to visit to have that "Laura Experience"
Part 5: Cook like Laura
Part 6: Other books you might enjoy

I have 3 kiddos. I have two girls ages 5 and 6 and a little guy that just turned one. We have started a bed time ritual , which we ALL love of reading the Little House series before bed. These books are an easy read, are fun, have vividy imagry and the girls LOVE it. My husband will read it to them sometimes if I am busy with baby or something, but for the most part it is a special time for us to be together right before bed.

To make things more fun, I will either turn off all the lights and use a lantern to read by, or a candle. Just like Laura would have! I think it creates a little bit extra ambiance that just adds to the overall mood of the books.

There are several books in the series, and I personally think it is best to go in order. I normally read one chapter a night, which is a good length. Here are the books:

Little House in the Big Woods
Farmer Boy
Little House on the Prarie
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By the Shores of Silver Lake
The Long Winter
These Happy Golden Years
Little Town on the Prarie
The First Four Years

To me, this is the series that really started my fascination. My mother read them to me as a child, I read them several times myself as a child and now I am thoroughly enjoying reading them to my girls.

I am lucky enough to have the same set I had as a child, but they are available many places. was the cheapest place I found, and you can buy one at a time or buy them all at once. Just search for Little house on the Prarie Books. has the full set for sale, .com also does. If you can't seem to find it please let me know! I would love to help you find a set to buy. What a great Christmas gift this would be, or some great winter reading!

Later on in the series I'll have some other books you might like revolving around Laura.....

Happy Homesteading....

Friday, October 5, 2012

Laura Ingalls: Part 1 Introduction to Series

Okay, I'll admit it. I love Laura Ingalls. I love the books, I love the tv series, I love the grand imagination and sassy little spark that she had in those books and tv shows. This may be a little bit off of my "typical" blog posts, but I am going to start a small series today on Everything Laura.

 The series will kind of go like this:
Part 1: Introduction to the Series, information about Laura
Part 2: The books!
Part 3: Dress like Laura
Part 4: Places to visit to have that "Laura Experience"
Part 5: Cook like Laura
Part 6: Other books you might enjoy

So today I just wanted to share a bit about Laura Ingalls Wilder.

She was a real person! It's not just a tv show, or a book. She actually was a real person and I think sometimes people don't really realize that she isn't a fictional character.

This is a picture of her as an adult.
Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was born February 7, 1867, seven miles north of the village of Pepin, in the "Big Woods" of Wisconsin.,[ Her life here formed the basis for the book Little House in the Big Woods.

In Laura's early childhood, her father settled on land not yet open for homesteading in what was then Indian Territory near what is now Independence, Kansas—an experience that formed the basis of Ingalls' novel Little House on the Prairie. In the years subsequent to this move, her father's restless spirit led them on various moves to a preemption claim in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, living with relatives near South Troy, Minnesota, and helping to run a hotel in Burr Oak, Iowa. After a move from Burr Oak back to Walnut Grove, where he served as the town butcher and Justice of the Peace, Charles Ingalls accepted a railroad job in the spring of 1879 which led him to eastern Dakota Territory, where he was joined by the family in the fall of 1879. Charles filed for a homestead over the winter of 1879–1880; De Smet, South Dakota was home for the rest of his, Caroline, and Mary's lives. After spending the mild winter of 1879–1880 in the Surveyor's House, the Ingalls family watched the town of DeSmet rise up from the prairie in 1880. The following winter, 1880–1881, one of the most severe on record in the Dakotas, was later described by Wilder in her book, The Long Winter. Once the family was settled in DeSmet, Wilder attended school, worked several part-time jobs and made many friends, most importantly the bachelor homesteader Almanzo Wilder (1857–1949), whom she later married. This time in her life is well documented in the books Little Town on the Prairie, and These Happy Golden Years.

On December 10, 1882, two months before her 16th birthday, Laura accepted her first teaching position, teaching three terms in one-room schools, when not attending school herself in DeSmet. In the book Little Town on the Prairie, Laura states that she received her first teaching certificate on December 24, 1882, but this was an enhancement for dramatic effect.[citation needed] Laura's original "Third Grade" teaching certificate can be seen on page 25 of William Anderson's book Laura's Album (Harper Collins, 1998). She later admitted that she did not particularly enjoy teaching, but felt the responsibility from a young age to help her family financially, and wage earning opportunities for females were limited. Between 1883 and 1885, she taught three terms of school, worked for the local dressmaker and attended high school, although she did not graduate. Her teaching career and her own studies ended when she married Almanzo Wilder, whom she called Manly, on August 25, 1885, when she was eighteen and he was twenty-eight. Almanzo Wilder had achieved a degree of prosperity on his homestead claim, owing to favorable weather in the early 1880s, and the couple's prospects seemed bright. She joined Almanzo in a new home on his claim north of De Smet and agreed to help him make the claim succeed. On December 5, 1886, she gave birth to Rose Wilder (1886–1968) and later, an unnamed son, who died shortly after his birth in 1889.

In 1894, the  young couple moved to Mansfield, Missouri, using their savings to make a down payment on a piece of undeveloped property just outside of town. They named the place Rocky Ridge Farm. The ramshackle log cabin was eventually replaced with an impressive 10-room farmhouse and outbuildings. The couple's climb to financial security was a slow process. Initially, the only income the farm produced was from wagonloads of firewood Almanzo sold for 50 cents in town, the result of the backbreaking work of clearing the trees and stones from land that slowly evolved into fertile fields and pastures. The apple trees did not begin to bear fruit for seven years. Barely able to eke out more than a subsistence living on the new farm, the Wilders decided to move into nearby Mansfield in the late 1890s and rent a small house. Almanzo found work as an oil salesman and general delivery man, while Laura took in boarders and served meals to local railroad workers.[citation needed]Wilder's parents visited around this time, and presented to the couple, as a gift, the deed to the house they had been renting in Mansfield. This was the economic jump start they needed; they added acreage to the original purchase, eventually owning nearly 200 acres. Around 1910, they sold their house in town and using the proceeds from the sale, were able to move back to the farm permanently, and to complete Rocky Ridge Farmhouse. What began as about 40 acres (0.2 km2) of thickly wooded, stone-covered hillside with a windowless log cabin, over the next 20 years evolved into a 200-acre (0.8 km2), relatively prosperous poultry, dairy, and fruit farm and an impressive 10-bedroom farmhouse. (

I'm not too sure if her life was ALL that different than many other's that lived during that time. But what was dfferent was her ability to chronical those events so vividly in her books. That is what makes us feel connected to her and feel a bond to her life.
Tomorrow we will look at her book series and discuss where to buy them, etc.

Happy Homesteading.....

Linked up to Homestead Barn Hop Frugal Days Sustainable Ways

Thursday, October 4, 2012

One small step: New series on small steps towards homesteading

I've been thinking about a few ways to help myself get organized (AGH) and also to improve my blog as a kind of place that people could follow along, be interactive and let me know what they are up to also. I will continue to post as I normally do , ( about yummy pies, salsas and other recipes, outings with the kids, my adventures in gardening etc.) but I also want to add a little maybe weekly section called " One small step".

This will just be a sort of challenge to myself and to my blogger friends for something very small we can do together towards our Quest to building our Homesteading Utopia.

Some of you may already do it, if so then HOORAY, you can help the rest of us. Some things you may have no interest in doing. No worries. Just thought this would be a fun way to share my thoughts a little more clearly.

Some ideas I have include:
Buying one extra bulk item per month, utilizing eggs more in my weekly menu, thrift store shopping, purging unwanted /un-needed items from our home, trying new whole foods recipes, baking our own bread for a month, menu planning, specific challenges in the garden etc. Books I'd like to read, book reviews etc.

I would love to hear from some of you guys also, just some really small steps to get us all on the path towards sustainability. Be looking for some posts soon, helping us all towards our goal, one small step at a time....

Happy Homesteading!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Vacationing with kids: learning as they go...

Last Friday we got the girls up and ready for the day, got dressed and got into the car. We started driving, and driving and finally one of them asked if we were going the wrong way. My husband and I looked at each other and said, " Oops looked like we are, lets just go to the mountains this weekend ". The girls just looked at us with wide eyes..... "Really? Are you for real? Are you kidding?"
Of course we weren't kidding, we had been planning a little 3 day trip up to a cabin for a while and thought it would be fun to suprise the girls. They were suprised and excited.

Many people we know take extravagant vacations to the beach, or to a waterpark or to another destination with little characters with mouse ears and rides and such. ( Not bashing those places, just not what we are in to).

We have always wanted our children to be able to appreciate
- all the beauty of nature
- family time with our family
- inexpensive trips that create a life time of memories.

So off we went:
We went to this fantastic old homestead that we explored for hours. We had a picnic, we walked around, we talked about the "olden' days" we discussed homesteading and just enjoyed our family. It was a beautiful day, we were the only ones out there, ( probably because it was about 30 minutes on a tiny dirt road) and it was just awesome. I'll share a few photos of it now:
This is the main cabin. It was an adorable little cabin, with a huge loft. The fireplace was beautiful also. The girls enjoyed exploring and we talked about how things were done before electricity, how the homes were built with native logs and what each of the different rooms would have been used for.

Here are a few of the old out buildings. It was a beautiful day....

I just thought this was a super cute picture of my daughter.
 And here are all three little blessings. :)

 Yes I was a super dorky mother and made the girls pose by the outhouse....
I couldn't resist taking this picture of my daughter by this beautiful barn wood. It was amazing.  
Then we took a drive and saw some elk! This is a young calf. What this picture couldn't capture as hard as I tried was the fact that there were 2 coyotes on the tree line stalking it. It was a great lesson about the food chain, conservation, hunting and all kinds of other interesting topics.

Then we played in the river. The beautiful river.....
We threw rocks, we found minnows, we found frogs, it was also an amazing geology lesson. Take a look at those cliffs!!!!!
We ended the weekend with a tour of a local cave. Fascinating. My husband and I have been to many caves around the country, the kids though are just getting old enough to really appreciate the majesty of nature.

It was a great weekend. It wasn't that far of a drive, we spent QUALITY time with each other, we hiked, we picnicked, we sang goofy songs and above all else we drew a little closer to each other in this world of gadgets and gizmos and extravagant living.

Happy Homesteading all.....

Linked up to : Morris Tribe Blog Carnival, Natural Living Monday Frugal Days Sustainable Ways Homestead Revival Thriving Thursdays Mothering Mondays Mama's Story Mondays Far Above Rubies Eco Kids Tuesdays

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Muscadine Jelly: Take 1

We love our muscadines. My oldest daughter won't eat anything EXCEPT homeade muscadine jelly. I can honestly say that in her almost 7 years she has never had store bought jelly ( to my knowledge at least). Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches are a staple in our house, especially for lunches and it takes a lot of jelly. I have made strawberry, blueberry and blackberry this season already, but our muscadines are ready and I made one batch this weekend. I forsee several more batches in the future...
Aren't these delicious looking? The girls helped me pick them and only about half of what they picked ended up in the basket.

I washed them really well then put them into the pot to start the juicing process. I just smash them down with a potato smasher, then strain the juice into a different pot until I'm ready to cook it.

Ah the beautiful juice. It smells heavenly, and I always keep out a few cups to drink over the next day or so. Such a fresh juice, it is delicious.

And here are the "fruits" of my labor! I got 4 pints, 2 half pints, 1 quart and 2 little 3/4 pint sized jars. Of course we had to taste some and it was delicious. I am hoping to do about 4 more batches before the muscadines are gone...
 So what are you up to these days?

Until next time,
Happy Homesteading......

Linked up to The Carnival of Home Preserving, Morris Tribe Blog Carnival, Monday Homesteading Barn Hop, Frugal Days - Sustainable Ways, Simply Made Home, Fill those Jars Friday
These are great blogs with lots of link ups you might like.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Perfectly Posh ! ALL NATURAL pampering, GIVEAWAY TIME!

I wanted to share a great company with you! And with that comes a giveaway!

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We offer pampering that is spa-grade, long-lasting, and a fabulous experience. Perfectly Posh uses tocopherol (vitamin E) as it's primary preservative, and we fragrance with high-quality perfumes and essential oils. Take care of yourself with products that will please you both mind and body.

Prepare to be passionate about our pursuit! We offer over eighty unique, creatively branded products to choose from. Whether you want to take a long, leisurely bath, or need to brighten your mood on the go: Posh is for you.
Indulge in the details around all of our fabulous pampering. Click here to see it all ....

Now for the giveaway:
Peace, love, and patchouli exfoliate your skin to take you on a far-out creamy vanilla trip. Our ultra-hip, triple-milled, moisturizing soap Chunk.

This smells amazing, and leaves you feeling so fresh. One lucky reader will win it. I'll ship it to you for free!!

How do you win?
1. Follow Homesteading Quest ( my blog) and leave a comment telling me you did, or if you already do comment telling me that- 1 entry
2. Like my Perfectly Posh Facebook Page and comment letting me know you did- 1 entry
3. Make any purchase from my page here and get 5 entries
4. Let me know your favorite item that Posh carries in a comment and get 1 entry
Shipping to the lower US only please. Thanks.
I'll draw for a winner on Friday August 24th @ 9 PM CST.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Updates around the homestead and AH we need RAIN

I haven't updated lately about the status of the garden or anything so I thought today would be as good a day as any. For one thing, we NEED rain. Living in the South where it is typically very hot anyways, combined with 100+ temperatures for weeks and no rain since April 24th ( YES! APRIL) we are really having a hard year. The well is the lowest my Dad has seen it his whole life....

Anyways here goes with the updates;
Have I ever shown you all our little school bell? I love it. My parents it bought it at a little yard sell up in the mountains years and years ago. I tied a string on it and ring it to let the kids know when it's time to come inside from playing. Such a fun little addition to our homestead don't you think?
Next is our pear tree. We have two of these beauties and they provide such yummy fruit year after year. This one is already full and will be ready here in just probably about a month.

I just love this tree. It's been such a great source of many, many pounds of pears over the years.
The tomatoes are really really needing a rain. Watering just isn't cutting it. We haven't had the harvest this year we are used to because of the dry conditions. We still are getting tomatoes, but not the yield we are used to. Still delicious though, and the ones we are getting are just as flavorful as ever.
   Then we have the cabbage. We are down to three of these babies. They have been great to us this year and we have enjoyed many cabbage dishes the past few months. These last 3 will come off this week and then our cabbage will be finished for a while. These have been nice and big and hearty and one cabbage feeds our family at least 2 meals.  Muscadines anyone? These are really looking good this year. They typically come off around the middle to end of August and are pretty good at withstanding heat. I've had to run a few racoons out of them, but by and large I am looking for a great yield from these yummy little fruits from the grape family.
We replanted a few squash for  a late picking. The ones we planted in the first of the summer burned up pretty fast, so hopefully these will be coming off towards the end of August.

Peppers. We have some peppers. It doesn't seem like the jalepenos are getting as BIG as we are used to , but they are producing lots just the same.

We have about 10 different varieties of peppers, ranging from sweet, to mild to SMOKING. I'll use them to pickle, and also will make more pepper jelly and some pepper relish also. We also just eat these a lot.
The okra is still producing pretty well. They should hopefully all the way through August and into September. I fry these puppies up, sometimes I boil them, and sometimes I roast them. I'll pickle some and freeze some also for the winter. Beware though before planting a ton of okra that you HAVE to pick it about every other day. It won't make more until you do and the really long, big ones are too tough to eat.  Below are the two rows of them we planted this year. PLENTY let me tell you.

This is my daughter's gourd. She planted it for a 4H project. She wants to make a birdhouse out of it. :)

So that's what is keeping us busy. We are still getting about 8-10 eggs per day and have a few herbs we are still collecting from, mainly cilantro, basil, and dill.

What's been happening in your part of the woods?