Monday, January 22, 2018

Podcasts I Love : True Crime

As promised, here are some more of my favorite podcasts.  This week's topic is True Crime.

Cults:  Each week a cult is discussed.

Serial Killers:  New serial killer every week.  Short and very informative.

Sworn:  The host is a retired law enforcement officer.  Most of the cases are based around Atlanta, Georgia (I assume that is where he worked or lives).  He takes a very analytical approach to the cases that he presents.

The Serial Killer Podcast:  The host is Norwegian.  I could listen to him talk about toilet paper.  But the content is good too.

Sometimes the topics overlap on each podcast, but it is interesting to get a different take on such "famous" criminals....some I've never heard of.

Probably not for the faint of heart, many descriptions are very graphic. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Podcasts: Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Etc.

As most of you know, I'm a stay at home mom.  I also homeschool 2 of our 4 children right now and am keeper of 2 grandbabies.  My husband works a lot of hours and has his own hobbies that take him away from home, so I am alone, or alone with children most of each day. 

I'm an introvert, so really the alone doesn't bother me.  The steady diet of PBS, shopkins and XBox does. 

I needed more, but as most moms know, its hard to find time to sit down and consume entertainment.  I am a knitter, so if I'm sitting, I'm knitting.  I listen to TV but don't actually watch it.

I love to read so I discovered audiobooks a few years ago.  I can listen while I'm doing almost everything except school with the kids.  There are times however, when I want smaller doses of entertainment.  That's when I discovered podcasts.  Most episodes are 30-90 minutes long.  That's perfect for when I don't have the time to organize an intricate plot line or historical timeline in my head. 

Over the course of the next few blog posts I am going to share the podcasts that I listen to.  I've tried to break them down into relevant categories.  I listen on Apple Podcasts (I'm an apple girl), but I'm told there are other listening options.  The exception to this is knitting vlogs and they are all found on YouTube.

Today's category is Sci-Fi, Paranormal and other hard to categorize podcasts.

Astonishing Legends  - This is one of my favorites.  The episodes are 1-2 hours long, although there may be more than 1 part to a topic.  I just finished listening to the 3 parts of the Yeti episode.  I love how Scott and Forrest give you all the angles on a topic.  I feel like they make it relevent for the skeptic as well as the believer.  Each episode is well researched and you can feel the enthusiasm they have for their topic.

Stuff They Don't Want You to Know  -  This podcast delves into conspiracy theory topics.  Again, good for skeptics and believers.  These guys also have a show about the Georgia Guidestones on Amazon Prime that is good.

Lore  -  Short, creepy stories or legends.  There is also a Lore show on Amazon Prime that is good

Unexplained  -  Also short, creepy stories. 

I'll be back later this week with my choices for crime podcasts.  Have a good week.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Harry Potter

What was I doing on June 26, 1997?  Hmmmmm......

Oh yeah,

I was 8 months pregnant with our first son and just moved to a new home, my husband had a new job and we were trying to get settled in.

What makes this date significant?

That's the day Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was released by JK Rowling.

Now, we all know I'm a reader, so how long did it take me to get my hands on a copy?  About 20 years.


I was a new mother as those books started coming out and although I heard ALL about them from everywhere I just wasn't interested.  I barely read "young adult" books when I was a young adult, why would I be interested in reading them now??

But I watched the movies, right?

Nope.  Sure didn't.  That was November 14, 2001.

I had son #2.  9/11/2001 was still very fresh for me and I basically watched news 24/7.  When it came out on DVD I remember that my husband rented it, but I still wasn't interested.

Boy, was I late to the game.

My friend had been urging me to give them a try and with my newfound love of audiobooks, I decided that I had nothing to lose.

I fell in love.  JK Rowlings is a fantastic author.  Really.  I zipped through all 7 books (on audio) and was really sad last week when I finished the series.  Harry Potter isn't just a kids book, its a saga about growing up, good vs evil and character making the difference in a multitude of situations.  So, if you haven't given them a listen, I urge you too.

And if you haven't started listening to audiobooks, why not?  I'm telling you, without audiobooks or podcasts I would be lost.  I listen while I am cooking, cleaning, driving and knitting.  Audiobooks have taken a significant spot in my entertainment time.  I'm grateful for the convenience and encourage you to "take back" a little of your time with an auditory experience that you won't regret.

**This post contains affiliate links

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Recipe of the Week: Lasagna My Way

I'm hoping to begin sharing some of our family's favorite recipes.  Today, I will begin with one that is much loved.  I did however forget to take pictures last time I made it, but I think the process is fairly straight forward so here we go......

I cook from my pantry so all acceptable substitutions will be listed.  I rarely make this exactly the same every time.  We don't live in town and have a fairly strict grocery budget so I don't just run to the store if I am out of something.

1/2-1 lb of ground beef, sausage or a combination of the two
1-2 pints homemade pizza sauce (1-2 pint of tomato sauce seasoned with basil or 1 jar store-bought pizza sauce thinned down a little bit - homemade pizza sauce is thinner than store bought)
Seasonings (basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley)
1 cup Ricotta cheese  (you can use cottage cheese in a pinch but I don't think its as good)
1 egg
6 lasagna noodles - par boiled (I let them finish cooking in the oven)
1-2 bags of mozzarella cheese (I don't measure cheese, maybe 3 cups?)

Set the meat to cooking if it isn't already (this is a great use for extra meat from previous meals).  Boil water in a big pot and add lasagna noodles.  Boil them for approximately 5 minutes.

Add sauce to meat.  I start with 1 pint of sauce, adding more if it doesn't look like there will be enough.  Add seasonings to taste, don't be skimpy.

Add 1 egg to ricotta cheese and a good pinch of parsley.  Combine, set aside.

Drain noodles.

Put a 1/2 cup sauce in bottom of 8x8 baking dish.  Then layer with 2-3 noodles.  Top with more sauce, a few spoons of ricotta (roughly 1/3 of mixture) and a handful of cheese.  Noodles, sauce, ricotta, cheese......noodles, sauce, ricotta, cheese.  I use extra cheese on the top layer.  If you didn't use all your sauce, pour it on now.  If you felt your quantity of sauce was skimpy, add some of the reserved.  Remember that your noodles will finish cooking in the oven so they need some liquid.  A 1/4 c water will also suffice.

At this point the whole thing can be put in the fridge or freezer to bake later.  Otherwise, pop it into a 350 degree oven.  If the oven wasn't preheated just plan on cooking it a little longer.  I bake it until the cheese starts to brown, usually 45-60 mins.

Remove from oven and let set 5 mins before serving.  Feeds 4-5 people.

I try to find time to make French bread or breadsticks and a salad would go great with this, but we rarely have one.  My mom always made green beans with lasagna but my people don't eat green beans.

If there are leftovers, they are very good re-heated.


Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Happy New Year 2018

Happy New Year!

One of my 2017 goals was to read/listen to 52 books and I made it (54 actually!)

I thought I would review some of my favorites over the next few weeks.

The first one I wanted to share with you is:

I'm not sure how I came across this book.  It just popped up on my radar and I gave it a go.

This book follows the lives of a teenage girl and her parents, moving back and forth from present to past, interweaving their many adventures together nicely.  The main story line is her parents search for the real life Dracula in history and how their searching leads to many dramatic events that change their lives, and the life of their daughter, forever.  Rich cultural descriptions of places visited make the reader feel like they are actually on the journeys with the characters.

I couldn't put the book down and was so sad to see it end.

If you are looking for a good book to kickstart your 2018 reading list, this would be a great one to try.

**This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Savoring the Simple Things

A new year is upon us!  I cannot get over how mild the winter has been up till now.  Facebook shows me my "memories" nowadays and so frequently the last 2 years we were under snow starting at Thanksgiving.  I will admit that I don't miss it.  We had a flurry of wet, huge snowflakes the weekend before Thanksgiving but so far that's it and just now do we have what I consider "winter" temperatures.  I hope that this doesn't mean a late spring but I suppose we will have to wait and see.

If you are reading this from a link on facebook, you might have noticed I've been a little quieter lately.  It's not necessarily on purpose.  I've just been reflecting and working towards some good things for me and my home.

I have, for many years, dismayed on the "lived in" look of our home, but honestly we do live here.  We LIVE here.

Read that again.

And again.

Take a second and turn that word around in your mind.


We live here.

What does that mean for us? For you?

I had someone lament recently that they would also have time to do the crafty things I do if they didn't work full time away from home.  And I completely understand that as a homemaker, I have complete and total control over my time.  Almost all 24 hours of it.  That, however, doesn't mean that I am sitting around watching netflix all day.  In fact, I watch so little TV that I can't keep up with the very few BBC shows that I do enjoy.

The truth is that I am a homemaker.....number 1 person in charge of housekeeping, laundry and all meals.  Occasionally, dh will fix a meal or help with one, but 99.9% of the time if we eat, its because I fixed something.  I try to cook whole foods, from scratch, nutritious meals.  I make homemade bread at least once a week.  Not because I'm better than you or I want to rub your nose in it, but because it is better for us, cheaper and I enjoy doing it.  Sometimes I don't feel like fixing that big, hearty meal, but I do it anyway, because it is my job.

I also homeschool 2 children.  I know that I don't HAVE to do that, but I believe that it is a better way and I enjoy having the extra time with them.  Educating them takes about 2-3 hours of my time, 5 days a week, 180 days a year.  90% of the time it goes well and I enjoy what I'm doing, but sometimes I really don't want to....but I do it anyway, because it is my responsibility.

We raise livestock for meat and plant a garden for veggies and fruit.  We do our own butchering and preserving of the bountiful harvest.  I help with or do almost all of the preserving.  I also help in the garden.  This saves our family untold dollars in food and ensures that we know where our food comes from and what exactly is in it.

We have a high school aged son that is heavily involved in competitive and school soccer.  That takes time to go to practices and games.

We have an adult son that still lives at home.  I enjoy spending time with him.

We LIVE here.  Sometimes that means the dishes didn't get washed or the garden needs to be weeded.  Sometimes that means that I'm curled up in my chair with coffee and a book.  While you might get off work at 3, I will still have tasks to do, so I take my breaks when I can....after school and housework, before chores and supper.

We have a beading set all over our dining room table;
****empty jars sit on a counter waiting to be refilled with homegrown goodies
****my crafting stuff occupies the breakfast nook
****my dh has tools charging in the dining room
****my van is full of animal feed
****books are everywhere (I personally believe it is important for reading)

After a very stressful move this fall, I've come to realize the importance of feeding my soul.  I need to feed the souls of so many that come through my home, I need to recharge, I need to soak up the quiet for the times when it isn't quiet.

In order to do that I have blocked out time every day to do the following:
**read my Bible and journal (usually 1st thing in the morning and at lunch)
**read a chapter in whatever book I am enjoying (I was actually able to do that while Bear did worksheets today - its a biography of Abigail Adams and her relationship with her sisters)
**knit for at least 30 minutes every day (I enjoy listening to an audio book or podcasts while I knit or sometimes I just sit in silence)

I'm also carving out sewing time on Saturday when I'm not focused on school.

It's the little things people.  If you have a home but you are too busy working or micro-managing it to enjoy it, then what do you really have?  A burden.

I'm sitting in my cozy nook at my table, wrapped in a shawl, soaking in the sunshine for a few minutes before we get back to school.  I'm spending a few minutes doing what I enjoy (writing) before I get back to the tasks that are responsibilities.  I will do this again later this afternoon and maybe even for a bit this evening.  I will read to my children, listen to their stories and plans and projects.  I will snuggle a sweet little dog.  I will enjoy my domain and be grateful for every minute I get to spend here.  Every minute is precious.....make sure you are doing what you love.

I look forward to another year of simplicity.  I ask that you join me in the journey and I would love to have you.....just please don't ask me what I do all day.   I don't think I'm better than you, I've just chosen a different path.  If what I'm doing makes you irritated or envious then maybe you need to reevaluate your path.  Are their changes that you can make?  Also, I ask that you don't idealize my life.  Sometimes my work is hard, my burden is heavy and I have difficulties just like you.  Remember that there are 2 sides to every story and it is unlikely, even reading this blog, that you know the whole side-story of my life.  I just ask that we share our time together.  I learn so much from other bloggers.  I hope that someone can take something good away from their time here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What's New In My Homestead Kitchen

Good afternoon!

I am a homemaker on a very limited budget that must feed 2 adults, 2 teenage boys and 2 kids under 9.  I've discussed my grocery budget in previous posts and those would still be relevant as our budget hasn't changed much in the last 10 years.

The quickest and easiest way to save money in the kitchen is to grow/raise your food yourself, preserve it and buy in bulk.  I do shop sales monthly for things that we use regularly but doing the above things will save you money in the kitchen.

With that said, in order to save money, you must be willing to spend time working.  I don't regularly buy bread, I make it.  I make laundry soap (in the kitchen so I count it as kitchen work).  I can and preserve things all year.  Even when there isn't a garden.

Today's example is chili beans.  We are given dried beans throughout the year by people who get them and don't use them (I'm not sure how this happens exactly, but it happens regularly....I try to use, in some way, all the food I manage to acquire...but we are grateful).  Dried beans take a while to cook, but I like to throw together chili in the winter so I used google and found a chili bean canning "recipe" (I really needed the seasoning recipe) and got to work.  These beans are amazing.  They soak for 48 hours, changing water after 24. Then you cook for 30 mins, pressure can for 75 mins and then you have chili beans.  My cost would be the canning flats and seasonings (which I buy in bulk at a considerable savings at the Amish store).  I'm guessing around 25 cents a pint.  If you can buy them for less than that at the store, then I applaud you.  I can't.  So I did 7 pints after shopping Saturday night.

I had about 3 pints of beans that wouldn't fit into the canner so I added some home canned rotel, home raised ground beef and home canned tomato puree to the pan Sunday morning and started cooking chili.  We were busy all day so I didn't notice that it didn't get done in the time I thought it would.  The beans were still hard.  I'm thinking the very hard water here at the new house is the problem.  So I put them back in the fridge.

Monday we had spaghetti for supper (home canned sauce, home raised pork sausage).
Tuesday I fixed fried pork chops, fried potatoes and corn for supper (home raised pork and home frozen corn - the corn was picked from a generous relatives field).
I also baked oatmeal cookies for a treat.

Today has been a big kitchen day.  Early this morning I set the chili back to simmer.  For lunch I made shepherd's pie.  I've got bread dough rising.  In case the chili doesn't get done I put a pork roast in the oven (home raised pork).

The thing about living on a homestead is, that you might not have a ton of money.  We sacrifice a lot for me to stay home....but we eat well.  Lots of meat and veggies.  I'm hoping to be able to locally source dairy products soon but for now I buy them.  It's a lot of work but the rewards are worth it.