Sunday, February 24, 2013

Canning Party #2 = 42 jars of homeade deliciousness

I recently posted about different kinds of homesteading type parties you can do with your like minded friends. You may also remember last year when I had my first canning party....

Well yesterday canning party number 2 commenced.

I don't know about you all but during the summer I am busy! Busy tending to the garden, produce, animals, canning, picking etc. Sometimes it is just as easy to freeze some of your bounty and then can it later on in the year when you aren't as busy. This is what we did yesterday.
I had frozen lots of tasty treats that I hadn't gotten around to canning or using up yet. I had figs, strawberries, peppers ( lots of peppers!) some muscadine juice, peaches and blackberries.

I also brought a couple dozen fresh eggs so that we could boil them and peel them. My kids like to eat them throughout the week for a snack and such. In return for the eggs I brought to share, another one of my friends brough me two jars of homeade pesto. Wonderful trade I should say.
 We started with the blackberry jam. I had a few frozen raspberries and blueberries I threw in there too. It turned out Amazing.......

 Next we made some pepper relish. I just threw the end of the season's peppers into a bag and froze them. I had been working with them all season and quite honestly was a bit tired of them, but of course couldn't let them go to waste. I knew I would want them again this winter... so I just defrosted them, cut off the stems and then blended them up.

 The end product ( before cooking) looked like this.
 Then the strawberries. Wow fresh strawberries are delicious. I must say though that these frozen strawberries picked at the peak of ripeness last spring are pretty amazing as well. Oh I can almost taste the almond butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches these will be a part of....

 I just wanted to include a picture of my beautiful daughters helping to peel the eggs. They love to be little helpers..

I don't guess I got a picture of the peaches and figs except in the very top picture, but here is the beautiful jam it made. If you ever have access to figs, get them! They really are one of my favorite fruits. They grow fairly well here in zone 7 as well.
So the end of the day ( actually about 3 hours later) we had the following:
- 12 various size jars of blackberry jam
-11 various size jars of peach/fig jam
-3 pints of strawberry jam ( I used the muscadine juice as a natural sweetner and forwent the sugar)
-10 various size jars of medium pepper relish( we used mainly bell peppers for this)
- 6 various size jars of FIERY pepper relish ( using jalepenos and cayenne)
- 2 dozen hard boiled farm fresh eggs
We had a great time and made a lot of yummy food to enjoy throughout the year. Happy Homesteading ya'll!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Overcoming the desire to "over-gift"

Stemming from the last several posts I've written about buying clothes, teaching kids about money etc... the point of gift buying has come up.

How do I deal with giving gifts while trying to teach my kid that "stuff" doesn't matter?

Again, amazing question, I have some thoughts.

When OTHERS are the gift givers:
Other people spoil my kids. On my side of the family my kids are the only grandkids. On my husbands side of the family our kids are the youngest by far ( all the other grands are 14+) so people enjoy buying gifts. Valentines, Easter, Birthdays, and of course Christmas.

There are a few things you can do to help further your cure of "stuff-itis" when dealing with others that want to give to your children. What a blessing to have people in our life that want to give tokens to your children. I see a few options to dealing with the grandma that gives 15 toys or spends hundreds of dollars on your child.

1. Just let them. Yes you can just let them. Teach your child to be VERY thankful, ( I'm talking hand written thank you notes here) and to really be grateful for the gifts.

2. When someone asks what your child wants for Christmas (or birthday or whatever) you can tell them some things that my be nice. Typically this is what I do. I'll say, they really enjoyed the ( insert gift) you got them last year, this year they are really wanting to go to the zoo more. Perhaps you could buy a pass to the zoo. Or Museum, Or a play, or  etc. etc. etc. Ask for an experience for your child. A pottery class. A music lesson. A tour of the cheese factory... Not typical gifts for your child but allow them to understand the value of memories and experiences. Things that will last. Not a $15 plastic doll they will look at once then shove under their bed. Perhaps grandma could take them to their favorite yogurt treat. Just them. I know for my oldest daughter who was once the only one "big enough" to go fishing with my father, she know feels such joy when he takes her BY HERSELF fishing. What a memory.

3. Request No gifts- WHAT?? Did I just say that. Oh yes... I did. It is perfectly okay on an invitation to  party to request gifts for a charity. I've went to parties that requested items that the birthday girl wanted to donate items to the local Humane Society. We went with a bag of dog food and pack of kitty litter and were so touched by the generosity of the birthday girl. We've been to "birth celebrations" of a family having 3 or 4 children that request a celebration of welcoming their new baby into the world and wanted to share that with family, but requested diapers only that were to be donated to a local crisis pregnancy center. We've been to parties that requested can goods instead of gifts. Wow how humble we felt.

4. You can do a combination of the things listed above. Find what works for your families and your values and make new traditions.

One of the favorite things we do now at Christmas is go Christmas caroling. The girls love it. We bundled up the baby last year and he went to. He didn't know what was going on but the sweet little old ladies light up when they see a cute little baby on their porch.....

Until Next time
Happy Homsteading ya'll

Linked up with Simple Lives Thursdays Monday Homesteading Barn Hop

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Teaching Kids to realize the value of a dollar

Recently Alison asked a question about best ways to teach kids the value of money. Great question. I wish I knew the answer :) I will try to explain the way my husband and I do it and maybe it will give you all a few ideas for your own kids. Please note that we are a religious family and that many of our beliefs are founded in that notion. However I do feel that these will work for some of you .

We follow the Dave Ramsey system. You can find more information about him at . When dealing with kids he basically says a few things.
1. NO ALLOWANCE. He calls it "commission" and the kids only gets money IF he does his chores. And not normal "I'm a part of this family and this is what needs to be done chores" like putting thier boots away when they walk in or brushing their teeth. But EXTRA things. For our family here are a few examples
Daughter Age 7: gather eggs in the morning before school, feed and water chickens after school, load dishwasher 2 nights per week etc.
Daughter Age 5: feed goat after school, feed dog after school, etc.

There needs to be a distinction as they get older, the older kids can do more and obviously the 18 month old doesn't have chores yet. We don't give them an exhorbant amount either. They get up to $1 a day depending on if they do the chores for the day. So a possibility of $7 per week.

- GIVE- we teach them to tithe 10% to our local church. If they want to do more than that ( like one time my 7 year old wanted to donate to a horse rescue, ) we allow them to do that
- SAVE- we help them decide what goals they are saving for, is it a bike? A certain book or doll, some kind of toy? Let them decide what they want to work towards.
-SPEND WISELY-The kids earned some money, so we let them spend it. We don't have too much of a reign on this part. I think it's good for them to learn how far money goes. If they want to spend it all at the candy store, they can, but then they know they won't have any left if the see a book or toy that they want. My younger one is actually better about saving than the older one. But they are getting there.

As parents we must set good examples. When I go to the grocery store, I have a list. I know how much I want to spend. I know how much things cost. My daughters see me pick up items, examine them, compare cost and quantities. They see ME being careful with my money. We shop at Goodwill, we go to yard sales. The kids don't know any better. They think it's fun looking for treasure. They are still too young to get much peer pressure, but I know that's coming. The last two Christmases we have "bought" a flock of chicks ( or ducks or geese) from Heifer International and given a card with our donation described to the kids teachers. The girls wrote their teacher a card and let them know that they appreciate all they do and have donated a gift in their honor to Heifer. So much more thoughtful than another BEST TEACHER mug or stack of processed candy. The girls are thrilled to do this and I hope to continue this through the years.

4. BE HONEST - about money. This can mean different things at different ages, but with the older daughter especailly we have told her why we don't do certain things. For instance, when she asked why we didn't eat out often, we told her the reason " We feel that eating at home is healthier for our bodies and makes us a closer family. We also feel that that money could be better used on something else." Or when she asked why we didn't get a brand new car like her friends family we said " There are things that are more important to our family right now and we don't NEED a new car. We have a perfectly nice car ."

5. GIVE THANKS- We teach our kids to be thankful. Be thankful that we have a nice warm home, clothes to keep us warm, lots of yummy food for or bellies and family that loves us. We are BLESSED. We try to teach the kids that in every possible way.
Just the last week at the library we checked out a book that shows pictures of families all over the world and what one week of food looks like for them. It was shameful to look at a typical week of American groceries look like then to look at a weeks worth of food for a family in Sudan or Chad looks like. What a teachable moment we had there.

6. THE FINAL LESSON- and listen folks this is what matters. We have to make sure our kids are comfortable with the moments, with the experience, with the warmth of the love of their family and that they don't DESIRE things of this world to make them happy. Contentment is a very lovely place to be, and if we teach our children that early on, then the life they can choose to live being debt free, with a servant's heart will be one filled with joy, happiness and peace.

Until next time
Happy Homesteading!

Linking up to the Home Acre Hop Eco Kids Tuesdays Homestead Barn Hop

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I've got a Canning Party coming up!!! And other "party" ideas

Some of you that have been following my blog for a while know that I've been toying with the notion of a Canning Club for a while. Well I finally did have my first Canning Party last year ( see post here)
Well I am happy to report that I have another event planned for this Saturday! It's just me and one other gal, but we are planning on trying to get a few things for our pantries. ( Using frozen berries from this past Spring, and frozen peppers from the summer)

So this got me thinking, have any of you started anything similiar? Any kind of Once a Month Cooking Club, Baking Club, Casserole Club etc.?? Besides canning, here are a few other things I have thought of that would make great little social gatherings.
1. Crafting Club: Perhaps your friend quilts and you want to learn how. Maybe you can crochet but your friend can't. There are other talents as well that would be great to get together maybe once a month and learn from your friends. Things like scrapbooking, knitting, cross stitch, wood working, soap making ( I'm wanting to do this one) . Every month you get a group of ladies together, with one of the ladies being the "teacher" and at the end of the night you leave with new knowledge and maybe even a finished product. Here is a book I found called "Crafternoon"
2. Canning Club: See my post here.
3. Once a Month Cooking Party: I can certainly understand why this one is appealing. Stay at home mothers and working mothers alike want to provide nutrient filled meals to their families and they don't want to spend all day in the kitchen, nor do they want to spend a fortune making meals. So you could get a small group of women together to batch cook certain items and then everyone takes a pan home. So maybe you make 5 pans of spinach artichoke lasagna, and someone else makes 5 cabbage casseroles, etc. Then at the end of the night you leave with 5 different home cooked meals. This could work people. Gooseberry Patch has a book that talks a little about it ( Cooking Club) They even have invitations, menu suggestions, ingredients list etc.
4. Baking Club: I'm thinking this one would probably best be done at least bi-monthly, but you could easily do it from your home then arrange a meeting spot. Each person involved could batch bake a specific item, then share with everyone else. So I might back 6 dozen muffins, someone else does loaves of bread, someone else may do pie crusts to freeze, someone else does cookies... you get the picture. Then at 4 pm on Saturday afternoon you take them to someone's home and exchange. You come come with muffins, loaf of bread or two, a couple of pie crust and a dozen cookies... Sounds good to me .
What are you guys thinking? Any other types of clubs you would love to be involved in? Do you do this already? I would love to hear abou it!

Happy Homesteading Ya'll

Friday, February 15, 2013

Free Educational Printables printable workbooks

I just wanted to share this site with you. It's great for homeschool and non-homeschooling families alike. You join the site (for FREE) and then you can search literally THOUSANDS of downloadable printables and worksheets on every subject imaginable. I have a Kindergartener and a 1st grader and can easily find worksheets and activities for them to do that are very specialized. One daughter likes fairies, no problem, the other daughter likes dinosaurs, again no problem. I really have enjoyed this site. You get a limited number of worksheets FREE a month, or you can order a subscription to be able to download entire workbooks. I haven't done that yet, but am considering it for the summer months. I have found that these are lifesavers for our little goody bags we bring with us when we travel, or for me to bring with us to church or waiting rooms. It gives the kids something to do that is new to them and educational. I just wanted to share, I know how much my readers value education and also FREE stuff. What a pair.

Happy Homesteading Ya'll

Linked up to Adorned from Above

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

(NOT) Keeping up with the Jones'

We've all heard the phrase " Keeping up with the Jones' ".

I think that there are people out there, that one day come to the realization that they do NOT want to keep up with the Jones'.

I'm one of those folks. Thankfully so is my husband.

Our oldest daughter is 7. Our youngest son is 16 months and we have one daughter between the two. And we want them to realize that a 4500 square foot house and a pool is not the goal. The goal in this life is not designer jeans. the goal in this life is not a 40k car. That gets 8 mph.

The goal in this life is not too accumulate stuff to the point that storage lockers are needed, extra rooms are built on just for storing junk and houses have to keep getting bigger and bigger to accomadate our nation's obsession with things.

We my friends are weird.

Please don't misunderstand me. We want our kids to be comfortable. We want them to have comfy clothing, and a cozy home and opportunities to do things in life.

We participate in 4H, other school events and we like to travel. We have a comfortable home. We have 2 ( paid for) vehicles.

I guess I'm just seeing more and more in my ripe old age of 30 ( yikes ) that kids are growing up in a country with lots of expectations. I deserve this, I deserve that, I WANT this, I WANT that, I NEED this, I NEED that..... It's overwhelming for parents sometimes to find a good balance. And honestly, when we were first starting out as parents, I fought that. I wanted to buy expensive things for them, and lots of things.

But then we realized. We realized that all of that STUFF , it doesn't matter. It doesn't create a family. It doesn't give our children the work ethic, the desire to give back to the community and the heart of a servant that we wanted to instill in their little hearts.

So we stopped.

And you know what? We are all so much happier. So much more relaxed, and to certain degrees healthier physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

So to all the Jones' out there, I am not envious of you. Not in the least.

Happy Homesteading ya'll! Linked up with Monday Homesteading Barn Hop Adorned From Above The Home Acre

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

First " Year without new clothes" Goodwill Trip

I posted yesterday about my commitment to not buy new clothes this year.
So, Sunday after church we made the 30 mile trek to our "favorite" Goodwill to purchase a few things we needed.

Here is what we came up with:
3 new MODEST dresses I can wear to work. Very nice and I was needing some bad.  $5 each
1 NEW with tags still on it Tommy Hillfiger jean jacket. Adorable on me and very dressy  $4

1 pair of jeans ( his lone pair of jeans at home had finally bit the dust, beyond repair) $3

2 Dresses for church or school, long, comfy and appropriate - $3 each

Other fun stuff we got: This amazing toy singer sewing machine. My daughter ( 7 year old) has been tinkering around with hand sewing things like buttons and has been wanting to learn to sew when we found this. What a treat! - $3.
Grand total: $31
We got some great stuff too folks, One dress alone would cost that much at a normal store. Love it!

Monday, February 4, 2013

No New Clothes for a year

We are a family of 5. My husband and I both have professional jobs, and have to wear dress clothes. I have 3 growing kiddos as well. But this year we have decided we will not purchase any "new" clothes.

We really have been trying to do this for the past several years, but this year we have officially made it a goal.

Clarification: we will not purchase new clothes, or at least not from a retail location. I say that because sometimes I find things new with a tag at flea markets or yard sales.

Our clothing this year will come from places like Goodwill, yard sales, possibly Ebay if we can't find it other places, or our children's consignmen sale we have twice per year Rhea Lana's.

Exceptions will be things like underwear. Although when the girls were little I found little girl panties at a yard sale for a NICKEL a peice and bought about 20 pairs. Got us threw potty training quite well.

We decided to do this for 2 main reasons:
1) to teach the kids that we are to be good stewards of the money we have been blessed with. I just can NOT justify spending $120 on a pair of jeans when I can get a vry nice pair for $4 at Goodwill and when that extra $116 I saved would be much better spent on a whole slough of other endeavors including things like mission work, community projects, or even put into our kids educational accounts. You can hate me, you can curse me, but travel the world a bit and that label on your butt that cost you $120 would be a month or more pay for people in other parts of the world.

2) To not contribute to the consumerism that kids now days are exposed to. We want our kids to understand what makes you happy. ( It's not leather boots folks, and if it is, you need help). We are really trying to focus on what it means to be happy, content and have a thankful heart.

I have a post coming up titled " No thank you Joneses" which is very similiar to this thead.
I also have a post coming up about our first Goodwill trip of the year and the amazing things we found for extremely cheap.

I would love to have more you folks on board. Anyone else willing to take the challenge???

Linked up to Monday Barn Hop Adorned from Above