Monday, December 29, 2014

One Small thing- Ditch the Disposables

I challenge you to make a commitment this year to not purchase as many disposable products.

For one it really helps with your grocery budget. If on one shopping trip you didn't purchase the following items, how much would you save?
- pack of plastic cups
-plastic spoons and forks for lunches and such
- paper towels
-paper napkins
- paper plates
- facial tissues
-aluminum foil
-plastic wrap
-zip lock bags
-brown lunch bags
-water bottles
-Lysol type cleaning clothes or windex wipes
Other items some may buy :
-Feminine hygiene products

Just those few items and you probably are spending what $30 a week( more with the diapers)? That's $120 a month. $1440 a year!!!!And depending on what other items you purchase it could be much more for things you are just going to throw away.

Then think of the trash.... not only will you throw away each plastic spoon, but normally they come in a box with plastic wrap, more trash... You will really start to see a difference in your trash if you opt to use reusable products.

For plastic spoons for school and work lunches and picnics I simply send metal ones. My kids have yet to lose one. They also each have a reusable lunch bag they take daily, so that cuts down on the old school brown paper bags. My husband and I each have a lunch bag we take daily as well. We also have several water bottles that we refill and keep in the fridge so no more throwing away water bottles!
Here is a nice lunch set from please note I don't sale Tupperware, and if you know someone that does I'm sure they would appreciate your business. This also eliminates needs for ziplock type baggies daily.
For facial tissues we simply use hankies. Yes I know, so uncivilized. But I find them softer, and then I won't have the trash of used Kleenex and the boxes they come in. I simply wrote our initial on the bottom corner of the hankie so we would know whose was whose after the wash.
For ziplock baggies, plastic wrap and foil, just use reusable glass or plastic Tupperware like containers. My kids have little reusable snack bags as well, they use to take snacks in while hiking or to school.
For those of you that have children or may be thinking about more children, cloth diapering and wipes may be a good option for you. They have adorable prints and styles now and make it easy for moms. My youngest is finally out of diapers now, so I gifted all I had left to a friend that was very grateful.
For those of you that have a menstrual cycle you may want to look into these reusable pads. The picture is just a random one I found on etsy similar to the ones I have. With a house of three girls I'm sure these will come in handy. I would think if you have multiple daughters you would just have each one their own pattern or something if they were concerned about wearing someone else's. You wash them and wear them over and over. I've had a set of about 6 I've used for over 18 months now. That's a big saving monetarily and our bathroom trash is way down. It's not for everyone, but I would encourage you to try it. They have patterns to make your own, you can search for them on etsy, or other sites sell them.
For paper towels we just use kitchen towels or rags, and of course use them to clean my counters and windows replacing the need for Lysol and windex type wipes.
We use cloth napkins for paper napkins and I have several sets. I send them in our lunches, and use them at home for each meal as well as for picnicking and camping. I do have a nicer set that matches I use for company.
I realize many of you probably do this and more! What other ways are you finding to cut down your disposable costs and well as your trash?
Happy Homesteading!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Prepping for your 2015 Garden Part 2- What to plant

You can read my Part 1 about doing a good inventory of your pantry here.


Step 2- What to plant

Now that you know what your family likes and doesn't like you can figure out what to plant.

Think about this past year.
What did your family adore fresh that you just did not have enough of?
Were there items that just seemed to be too much work and your family isn't super fond of them?
Do you want to ramp up your production this year?
Scale it down?
Are there things you have been wanting to try?

It's important to realize that just because something grows well in your area, and may even be easy, if your family won't eat it, then don't waste your energy with you. Take an inventory of the time you spent tending, harvesting, and putting up your produce last year and decide if you can/want to devote more or less time this year?

For me, I have a new job at a university where I'm out for the summer beginning April 28th and won't be back until August 18th, so I have much more time I can devote to our home and garden than I did previously so that will make a difference in how much we plant this year. The possibilities are certainly exciting to me!

So as you start getting your seed catalogs in the mail, start making wishlists, start sketching out your land and what will be planted where. It's so much easier when you have a plan and a direction.

Until next time-
Happy Homesteading

Friday, December 26, 2014

Prepping for your Spring 2015 garden.... already???? Step 1

So it's winter and I'm already prepping for Spring? That's right. Here a few little helpful hints for getting ready for the season ahead of you.

 Step 1- See what you've got in your pantry

1. Take inventory or your pantry and freezer
Today I went through and counted all the items in my freezer and pantry to see what all I had used up this last year, what I had preserved way too much of and also tossed out a few things that were questionable. Items that we have run out of already or things that are getting close to being out, I'll need to try to put up more of next year. Those things that we are either already out of or getting close to being out of include:
-pasta sauce ( I had canned probably 20 pints of this, down to a few)
- pickled okra ( my kids tastes are changes and the little one especially has decided he likes pickled okra, so we are completely out)
-bread and butter pickles ( down to one jar and what's left in the fridge)
-frozen blueberries  ( I only had 4 quarts of these, but we ran out about a month ago, love these)
- pecans ( we really can't control this unless we buy them somewhere, we picked up all our trees produced, we have probably a 5 gallon bucket left to shell)

Things that we probably have way too much of:
-corn on the cob ( it's not that we really have too much, I just need to make sure to start using corn in our meals, as we do have a lot)
- jelly, ( between fig, peach, muscadine, grape, apple mint, strawberry and pepper, we are running over, really need to try to start eating more)

Things that I think are just right this year ( we'll be running out just about the time I do more)
- deer meat ( including summer sausage, sausage, ground and steaks)
- frozen fish ( although there isn't really a season, we normally just try to stock up as we begin to get low, our favorites are crappie and catfish)
- frozen strawberries ( great for smoothies and ice cream, as well as my strawberry cake)
- dill pickles
- pepper relish ( recipe here)
- salsa
- stewed tomatoes

So this gives me an idea of things I need to try to focus on really planting and/or putting up more of and the things that I might can be a little less zealous about this year. This is a great time of year to really take inventory of what you've got and organize things up a bit.

Please stayed tuned for
Part 2- What to plant and
Part 3- What to buy

Happy Homesteading Ya'll!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Recommended Reading for 2015 Part 2 - Don't forget the Classics

Please see here for Part 1- Non Fiction Recommended Reading

And now on to part 2. Don't forget the good stuff. I think sometimes we have so many wonderful options in newer stuff that we forget some classic masterpieces from yesterday. Maybe we read them in high school, or college, or maybe we've never read them. I have just a few that I  resurrected this past year that I really enjoyed and thought I would share with you.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

3. Little Women by Mary Loiuse Alcott

4. Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

5. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

6. Edgar Allen Poe, my two favorite poems are The Raven and Me and My Annabelle Lee

7. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

8. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

9. On Walden Pond by Henry Thoreau

10. Pride and Prejudice  by Jane Austen

Please note these aren't linked to sites to buy things where I get commission, this is my honest opinion and hopefully will encourage some new reading materials for my readers this year. I'm sure your local library has most of these, or you can get them super cheap on Amazon. Happy Reading guys!

Until Next Time
-Happy Homesteading

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Books I recommend to be on your reading list for 2015 Part 1- Non Fiction

I love to read. I do. I find that it does take a little bit of effort to actually set aside the time ( you know 3 young kids, a hobby farm, a full time job, all that stuff) but it really helps me to stay calm and to grow when I read. I had a good year reading I would say and wanted to pass along some of the books I would recommend for my readers in the upcoming year. Some I have done a full review on here on my site, others I haven't. But here ya go for what it's worth:

1. The Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson
I did a full review on this book here, but it really got me thinking about how I keep my home. The things I spend my money on, the things I spend my space in my home on and my time on. I've found myself reading it over and over again.
2.  Folks this Ain't Normal by Joel Salatin
I know the picture is a bit fuzzy, but I think you get the hint. Just an easy read about our food system and the issues surrounding it. If you don't know much about Joel Salatin, he's a pretty cool guy and I would recommend any of his books.
3. The Tomato Festival Cookbook by Lawrence Davis Hollander
This is a cookbook that just has every possible way imaginable to use tomatoes in your cooking. There are super fancy ones to really common ones like Tomato Pie. We always have an abundance of tomatoes around here in the summer, and this helps me to use them up in creative ways.

4. The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life by Jennifer Worick
This isn't a super intense read, it's a very fun, light read that has a few projects that every good Prairie Girl should know how to do. Simple projects, some you probably already do. I just found it a fun read and have tried many of the projects she talks about.

5. Wild by Cheryl Stayed
This was a good one. It's written by a lady that took a hike by herself on the Pacific Coast Trail. She was at a critically low point in her life, and needed to get away and do some thinking. It's pretty good and apparently is now a motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon . Of course the book is always better than the movie.

6.  Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins
I love the books about hiking, walking, seeing America. This one, written by Peter Jenkins, even has a few old photographs in it, making it extra cool. Again, just a young guy, needing some direction and wants to see America. He goes through small towns, gets to know a little of the culture. Pretty awesome book.
7. Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book is written by Elizabeth Gilbert who also wrote Eat, Pray, Love, but is about Eustace Conway, a modern day mountain man living in the mountains in North Carolina. He also is the subject of the TV Show Mountain Men. It's a neat story. It talks about him growing up, as he gets older and wants to see America, why he wants to live in the mountains etc. She does a good job telling his story.

Please notice that none of the books have links to purchase. I am not trying to get you to buy these books so I make a commission or anything like that. I just recommend them from my own experience and think you might enjoy them as well. Check your local library to save some cash of course. I love going to the library weekly to get new material to read, listen to, etc.

I hope to do another few lists of must reads for 2015 including Not to be forgotten "classics" and then of course Fiction books I have enjoyed.

Until then,
Happy Homesteading


Monday, December 1, 2014

Perfectly Posh, Natural Based Skin Care- No Parafins, uses essential oils, SALE RIGHT NOW

First of all, I love Posh!
I have been selling it for a while now and it brings in extra income which is a plus of course, plus I love the products. I find that they fulfill a need that many customers have, naturally based products, made in America, that are luxurious and pampering.

I wanted to share with you today because we are having an amazing Cyber Monday Sale.
FREE SHIPPING!!! You get free shipping on each order no matter how big or small.
We also have some great sales.

This is a great healing hand crème, perfect for dry hands, chapped, cracked etc. A very light fragrance so could be for men or women! Just $11 right now at Posh!

We also have Skin Sticks such as The Healer, The Caffeinator and Wakey Wakey which are filled with shea butter and essential oils that you simply rub on yourself for great healing properties. They are on sale for only $10 right now and remember free shipping.

Please take a look at my website and if you would like to join I would love to have you , this company treats you right. We get generous commissions ( paid weekly!!!!) and also great incentives. I find that these products are great within my circle of friends. More naturally based, quality ingredients and products we use.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Book Review- Homeward Bound by Emily Matchar

So we all know I like to read. I recently finished this book called "Homeward Bound" written by Emily Matchar.
I enjoyed the book. It was interesting. I honestly found it a wee bit difficult to really get lost in, but it was still interesting enough that I finished it. It's kind of a book that I feel like has been done before.... The typical women used to do all the hard work, then feminism said they needed to get careers, so they did, now we are seeing a shift back to women being the domestic spouse and kind of an uprising of bloggers and authors and a new generation of stay at home moms that are knitting and making gluten free cupcakes and are DIY everything they find on Pinterest.
There was a lot of good historical information and figures about women and how they have always kind of fit into society and some new data suggesting a shift to being at home once again. Or maybe working part time or even working from home.

With all that being said, do I recommend it? Yes, I think I would. It was a different type of read, it was fascinating in parts and had a great kind of sociological background in everything she wrote about. It was good :) Now, as soon as those cupcakes come out of the oven, go get it from the library!

Happy Homesteading Ya'll!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Our vacation to the Smoky Mountains: Tennesee and North Carolina

So I have been having trouble inserting pictures into my blog, so that is why I haven't had many new posts lately. Anyways I may have figured it out and wanted to share pics of the most recent family vacation we went on. It was my husband and myself, our 3 kiddos and my parents.  
I've always wanted to hike the Applachian Trail, but have never done it. Of course it takes like 6 months to do the full length, but we at least did a very small portion of it on our trip.

 So fantastic.

 I guess my hubby and my mother were ahead of us, but here is the rest of the crew. It was beautiful weather and the kids loved being able to explore.

 Cade's Cove is a must see. Honestly I would put it on your bucket list if you are into that sort of list making thing. It was a fantastic journey. It's a several mile loop that has historic homesteads, churches and buildings you can explore.

 This has to be one of my favorite pictures. I made it into a large canvas. I just love the kids running and that memory will be in my head forever. Beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, the air is so fresh and the sounds of the little ones laughing. I would take this over Disney World any day. Any. Day.

We stayed 10 days and drove on into North Carolina. It was truly a wonderful experience and we would all love to go back. Until next time...
Happy Homesteading!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review- Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

I recently read the book Zero Waste Home.

I read it quite quickly and enjoyed it greatly. Basically it's about a woman in San Fran that has eliminated virtually all waste from her home. I mean this lady has got. it. down.

She shops at a bulk food store where she uses reusable jars for things like meats and dry bulk goods. She uses jars to fill up her glass shampoo jars from the bulk section. Her fruit of course goes into reusable produce bags.

She makes paper from her kids school work paper they bring home.

She also has great lists for a minimal household. Things like a complete wardrobe with minimal pieces and what you actually need in a functioning kitchen.

I really enjoyed the book and got some great ideas. I do recommend it, as it is a very interesting read.

I live in a small town, and I live even farther out into the country, so the likelihood of me being able to find somewhere that sells bulk household products and even food sometimes is difficult. I don't think it is realistic to think I'm going to make my own paper from my kid's paper scraps, however I think there are some alternatives mentioned in her book that I could do.

It made me think of ways that I could do better. Ways I could really cut down on my trash. Some of the things ( like composting) I already do, but other things have given me great insight and I'm now trying out for my own family.

Read this. I think you will like it.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Knowing what matters

We live right in the middle of where the recent EF4 Tornado came through about 3 weeks ago. We were in the storm cellar, with my husband, brothers and dad pushing against the door to keep it closed. We felt it come over, heard it, felt the air sucked up from the cellar. Let me tell you, it was scary!

Once it was over, we peeked outside and saw trees down everywhere, debris was everywhere but our house, as well as my parents ( right down the road) were all safe. A few out buildings were gone, and many trees but we are VERY thankful we are all okay. We looked and could see that the path was probably less than 500 yards from us....

My thoughts immediatly turned to our family friend/ babysitter. We could tell her house was in the path of the storm. She is such a precious lady and has watched our kids for the last 5 years.

I texted her immediatly to ask how they were...

She texted me back " We are all okay! So thankful!!!""

So, like all good country boys, my dad, brothers and husband go out with their chain saws and tractors/4 wheelers to check on neighbors. They got back in about 2 a.m and my husband tells me that our babysitter's home, barn, camper, and all of their other outbuilding like their sheds, goat pens etc were gone....


I guess what struck me was that in the midst of total MATERIAL devastation, she told me " We are all okay, so thankful!!!"

I wrongly assumed, that she meant their home was safe as well. She later told me that in the sheer and utter chaos there was nothing to do but thank the good Lord that her family was okay. They were in the cellar as well.

Our community has come together. We have grieved the loss of friends and community together. We have relied, not on FEMA, not on the Red Cross, not on any other government agency to help. We have helped each other and are relying on our friends and family during this time.

So two lessons in the midst of this storm
1- Make sure you have a cellar
2- Know what matters


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Saving Money on HEALTHY foods: No coupons required
It's difficult sometimes to find coupons for things like fresh fruits, vegetables, things that are healthy you know? Saving Star is great and I've been using it for a while now. It's great for a few reasons:
1. No coupons to clip: you simply log into your account and it puts the coupons you want onto your shoppers card. When you purchase certain items it goes into your account, when you get $5 you cash out. I always use it to get Amazon cards.
2. They offer a new fruit or vegettable EACH week. So this week you get 20% back on yellow onions. They have done bananas, sweet potatoes, asparagus, apples, all kinds of great items.
3. On Friday of each week they offer a FREEBIE. Some are healthier than others but I have found several items that my family likes.
4. So EASY. So EASY.
Honestly, you should really sign up. Just give it a try. Totally free . Click here to sign up!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I won! Thank you to Stone Cottage Adventures


I linked up with the Great Blog Train Giveaway and I won this amazing prize from Marci at Stone Cottage Adventures.

I love the handmade soaps, and look at the cute little bags they came in. She also included some wonderful tea bags. Such a fun treat and thank you so much Marci.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Great Book series for young readers- Dave and Pat Sargent Books

We have 3 little ones: ages 8,6 and 2. The older two are of course really getting in to reading. I happened across a book written by Pat Sargent a while back at a yard sale or something and it had been in my daughter's book shelf. One day she found it , and read it. She couldn't put it down!.

Then she read it again. And again. I started looking online at Ebay, Amazon etc. and found that Pat Sargent has a whole series of "Barney the Bear Killer" books, as well as many other books her and her husband Dave have written.

The series my daughter really loves, is about Barney a black and tan coon hound, and his owner an 8 year old little girl, and their adventures in the Ozark Mountains. It is a wonderful series and I have since read them all to myself, and aloud to my younger daughter. My older daughter has read them all herself multiple times.

They do have another series for younger readers that each one teach a moral or character lesson.
They are called the Animal Pride Series and are very nice as well.
They do have their own publishing company as well and I have found many books at a bargain price at  . Many of the paperback books on that site are only $1!
I know it can be hard to get kids interested in reading sometimes, but this is a series my kids all really really love, and hopefully some of you will find it as lovely as I do.

Friday, January 3, 2014

One Small Thing- Soup Bucket

Yes a Soup Bucket!

It's been unusually cold here, and soup is just nice on a cold night isn't it?
One small thing I've been doing for a while is to keep what I call a Soup Bucket in my freezer. It's really just a few freezer Tupperware type containers, but here's the premise:

- Every so often I have a few little tablespoons of veggies left over at the end of a meal.  Instead of throwing them out, I put them in the freezer. This works well for things like green beans, carrots, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, even kale or spinach. Just throw it in there.

- Also when I make corn on the cob and have maybe one or two cobs left, I'll cut it off the cob and put the kernels in my bucket.

- We had a wild boar ham about a month ago and I had a few pieces left, I cut it in hunks and put it in my bucket.

- So yesterday I had to take all three kids to the dentist, I had made a loaf of fresh bread, and soup sounded good.

For the base of the soup I freeze tomatoes from the garden, so I took a few out, defrosted them, and ran them through my blender. It made a great tomato base.

I put it all in the crock pot and by the time we were back from the dentist we had a lovely meal ready for us.

Happy Homesteading Ya'll!

Super Frugal and Fun Birthday Cake

With three little ones, plus a husband, plus myself it seems like birthdays are coming around pretty often.

Next time instead of purchasing a super expensive bakery cake, try this. I do it for most of the birthday's around here.
Make their favorite kind of cake, and frost it. Then spell out there name with colored chocolate candies ( aka M&Ms). It's always a hit and done for probably about $4 total, if that. The biggest expense are the candies. The kids love to help decorate as well.

Happy Homesteading Ya'll!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Adventure to Petit Jean Mountain

Time to get out of the house for a bit. Our weather can be crazy, flurries one day, 60 the next, sunshine, rain. oh my. But here is a little trip we took not to long ago to explore Petit Jean Mountain...
 I mean really, isn't it beautiful?
 You probably can't see this, but I'll paraphrase, basically when French settlers came over here, there was a young couple in love, and the girl couldn't bear to be away from her beau so she pretended to be a boy so she could take the trip with him. She was a tiny thing so they called her Petit Jean or " Little John". Once over here in the new world she made it for a while but passed away from some kind of fever, and the grave markers are still here. It is on a beautiful mountain on the river, and is a State Park now. It's wonderful to camp, hike and picnic at.

 The grave....
 I like this picture, don't worry they aren't close to the edge, there is a little shelf of rock just a few inches below what you see as the drop off, so they couldn't fall far from here.

We had a great time and love to get outside and explore.
Happy Homesteading guys!