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.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

There Are Bells on My Socks

There are....


on my socks.

Whew.  I actually texted that to someone this morning.

Why?  Because I HAD to tell someone that there were bells on my socks (which make me insanely happy this morning, I don't know why).

Why did I HAVE to tell someone this?


Lest you think I've lost my mind, bare with me.  Facebook has made me incapable of completing a single thought AND causes me to share mundane silliness that randomly pops into my head with hundreds of my closest acquaintances (poor souls that they are).

Facebook has also caused me a considerable amount of angst over the last few months.  You've probably seen me walk away from facebook (and you know about that because I blogged about it, because I NEEDED to).  And then you see me back.  And you shake your head.  Most of you don't know why I left, really.  You have no idea what post or article upset me so that I couldn't take it anymore.  Its not really A post or AN article but a culmination of posts, articles and pictures that cause ME an emotional reaction.  It's MY problem.

I struggled this weekend.  A comment to a post that was in no way related or directed to me, that I randomly saw Monday morning, caused me an emotional event.  And I wonder why I keep putting myself through this.  The little tiny bit of adult companionship and "keeping up" that I manage to do on facebook isn't worth the hurt, anxiety and soul searching that I have to do afterwards.  Because I do realize that for the most part this stuff is MY problem.  Nobody is being mean to me (normally).

I've got a lot of stuff to work through.  You have no idea.

Writing helps me gather my thoughts.  It makes me work through what I'm thinking or feeling.  I'm journaling my way through a forest of trees.  That's good stuff.  Maybe something that I'm dealing with can help someone else.  I doubt, though, that it is going to help someone else in blurb form.  I think it will take more than that.

As I search for a perfect balance of social media, bare with me.  I want to read articles you think are relevent and I want to see pictures of your kids.  I want to be part of your life, but frequently facebook interaction leaves me feeling......unfulfilled.  Because we were made for relationships.  Not blurbs.

I sat last night and tried to work through the most recent (and probably most repeated) set of feelings.....I want attention - not really in a "your the best __ ever" context but in an "I care about you" context.  How much can someone show love and care on facebook?  Love is an action.  It is a verb.  It requires something to be done.....something that takes effort and requires sacrifice.  I want to feel love - but how many people to I need to feel loved by?  Isn't God enough? (fyi, He's not on facebook).  Isn't my husband enough?  I made a list of things that happened just yesterday that my family and God did that showed their love for me.  Actions.  Tangible proof.  Love is shown in an "out of the blue" text, email, call or card.  Love is shown in chores done without asking and needs met without complaint.  That's the love that I felt yesterday. Love doesn't need to be shown every single day, but it must be shown often.  If you can't remember when, that isn't often enough.  Love isn't perfect, but it TRIES.  I've got that love...already.  I don't need to be looking for affirmation on facebook.

However, that leaves me in a quandry.  Why?  Because so many people, usually family-that-doesn't-live-with-us (not my husband and children) SAY they love us.  But they don't reciprocate the calls, texts, invitations.  They don't sacrifice their time to be with us.  I don't know what to do with those people.

You see, I've been muddling along, reaching out and feeling rejected by a lack of response.  A dear friend told me Sunday night that my responsibility was only in reaching out, not in their reaction to it.  I can't tie their reactions or lack of reaction to my emotions.  It has no bearing on my value as a person if they never call, never text, never invite or respond to an invitation.  I am still a loved wife, mother, friend and child of God.

I've got to figure out how to deal with those emotions.  It's hard.  I feel deeply and love deeply and believe in showing that love freely through my actions.  If love is an ACTION and there is no action, no tangible proof of love, then is there LOVE?  I have to say no.  You can't just say "I love you" and never show it.  Those are just words on a screen.  I have to accept that.

Accepting that means for now, I am stepping back from facebook.  I'll still check in because I get my news there (no newspapers and if I don't leave the house I don't listen to the radio).  My interactions will be limited because I have to learn how to deal with people properly.  A proper boundary must be set.  Now is as good a time to do it as any.

I bid you good day :)  I look forward to writing some more tomorrow about my homestead kitchen (exciting stuff!).

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Beginning Our Homeschool Year 2015-2016

Good afternoon!  It's been a wonderful day here so far; we have finished school, household chores are done and I've had lunch with a very dear friend.  After I publish this article I'm going to go searching for a wreath in the garage, feed livestock and cook supper (tater tot casserole) before awana.

I promised a post on homeschooling so here ya go.  This is my 13th year of official homeschooling.  My oldest started kindergarten 13 years ago and graduated high school this past May.  Over the years I've become very relaxed and I have the bonus of knowing at this point what works for me, allowing me to tailor curriculum to the needs of my children. This year, Bear is in 2nd grade and Abby is in kindergarten.

As our base, we are using My Father's World Kindergarten and Adventures. I say base because we are following these very loosely and taking 2 years to do Adventures.  Really we are barely using kindergarten because I'm using up workbooks that I have here rather than buying more student sheets.  I am using the guide to pull out topics and I'm using the book list.  I love My Father's World book lists.  Abby is also rolled into the topics covered in Adventures.  We are taking those topics very slowly, adding in more reading and activities to some of the units.  We are on Christopher Columbus this week and probably next.  That should have us covering pilgrims right around Thanksgiving.

We will start using Singapore math whenever I have the funds to purchase it.  Currently we are using some worksheets I printed from Mama's Learning Corner, practicing money, time and "real life" math.  Abby is getting practice in writing numbers, counting, shapes, patterns, etc from the workbooks I had hanging around.  I'm trying to use up what I've got since this is my last kindergartener.

I love a Reason for Handwriting but as I mentioned, funds are tight, so I printed some amazing handwriting sheets for both kids from  Confessions of a Homeschooler.  If Bear finishes the ones that I have printed for him we will switch to copy work.

We use Alphaphonics to teach reading and All About Spelling for spelling.  I use letter tiles from a bananagrams game.  Bear is also reading through the reader from My Father's World 1st.

I keep a list on my table of what each kid needs to do each day.  Whichever kid is dressed with teeth brushed at 9:00 a.m. gets to start first.  Then we alternate through the list.  So today Abby did money first, then Bear choose phonics, then Abby did phonics, then Bear did money and so on.  While the one is working with me, the other has "free time".  During that time they can play with legos, color, look at books, etc.  No electronics and must leave me alone.

Here, Abby has spelled her friend's name with letter tiles (with help).  She really is just practicing alphabetical order with these right now. And yes, our cat sits on the table.  It is what it is.

During one of her "down" times Abby practices "sewing" with lacing cards.

My record keeping journal (more on that below)

Bear works on legos during his "down" time today.

"together' time

Another picture of my journal

After we get through our independent work we usually have lunch.  Then we do our "together" subjects: read aloud, Bible, science and history.  This takes place on my bed or the living room couch.

Record Keeping:
I've used lots of planners.  Lots of them.  Some were ok, some I hated, some I loved.  I just do better with a notebook.  This allows me to jot down what we have done and go on.  I do keep notes in my homemaking planner about things that I want to cover and My Father's World has wonderful lesson plans.  This makes it easy for me to keep track of what we have actually done.

We started late this year because of the move.  I usually take off from Thanksgiving to after the New year but I think we will plug along as best we can to make up some time.  I am hoping to get Bear finished with Alphaphonics this year and through AAS Level 1.  When Abby becomes proficient in her letter sounds I will move her to MFW1.  That might be this spring, it might not.  I'm hoping to get math books sometime after the new year.

We are learning though!  Lots of things.

That's what I love best about homeschooling :)

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

New Beginnings


I'm so glad to be sitting back here with all of you blogging again.  I missed it.  I need to write, journal, contain my thoughts and nobody wants to read all that on facebook (although I will link this here).

So, what's new with me, you ask?
We bought a new home.  A homestead to be exact.  Almost 5 acres and a home, garage and barn all set up for exactly what we want to do.  Not just do, BE.

I think it necessary to take a second and explain something.  You can live in the country, in a rural area, and not be a homestead.  A homestead is what you do with your little piece of heaven.  Do you just live there?  Then you live in a rural area (which is totally fine, but is basically living in a much larger than average subdivision).  We are using our property to feed our family, relaxing our dependency on corporation and over-regulated entities.  We are NOT completely independent.  We rely on help and knowledge from friends and neighbors and will continue to do so until we are gone.  We rely on the blessings of our Lord Jesus to enable us to get through every single day.  Humans have never been meant to be alone on this journey.

I see these memes on facebook of a muddy truck or 4-wheeler and people dancing around bonfires and there is always a caption along the lines of "real country" or whatever.  REAL country are the people feeding livestock and planting fields.  REAL country is working fence in 30 degree weather, alone, because your pigs keep getting out.  REAL country knows where their food comes from and how to acquire it, if they and their vehicle of choice is muddy, its for darn good reason and that reason didn't involve tearing up property that didn't belong to them.  REAL country hunts, but not just for the trophy (although who doesn't like a trophy buck?).  REAL country can wear dresses, even while working (because I take pride in how I look) and can dress up just as nice as everyone else.

Here's what country means to me:
growing food for my family in a garden
raising or bartering for meat and milk and their by-products
eating REAL food
doing the work that these things require
making things with your own hands
spending time with friends and family
slowing down the pace of life and enjoying the rhythms that come with the seasons
knowing how to improvise or do without in most situations
using the wild resources to benefit the family (hunting, fishing, gathering)
helping your neighbors and strangers with the blessings that God has given me
working together and having fun together as a family

Country isn't:
muddy vehicles for no apparent reason
always covered in camo (or NEVER in my case)
beer drinking 24-7 (unless you are an alcoholic and then I suggest you get help)

So, we have our own little homestead here.  We are raising chickens for eggs and meat and pig for our own use currently.  We will probably get another steer in the spring and I'm hoping to get a couple goats for milk and meat and a llama or 2 for fiber.

I had someone tell me just last week that they had no idea what I did all day, I must get terribly bored.  I didn't laugh hysterically but I wanted to (people perceive me laughing at their ignorance as rudeness so I must be careful).

This morning I woke up at 4:30 a.m. (the time change has got me messed up).  I woke Norman at 5 a.m. then read my devotional and scripture reading for the day (Wicked Women study, day 2, on YouVersion).  Norman left at 5:45 but forgot the medicine for our steer (who is still at our previous home) so I offered to feed and medicate. Started laundry then  I woke Greg up for school at 6 and then drove 5 miles to feed and care for the steers.  Back home, switched laundry, and had breakfast and coffee.  Made my bed, sorted dirty laundry, Greg left for school.  Lee came home from work (he works 3rd shift).  He went to bed and I went to the shower, finished folding laundry, and ordered propane.  I also balanced out the checkbook.  It is now 9 a.m. so we start school (Bear and Abby have been up, had breakfast and played a game of Monopoly Jr).

School will be its own post.  Maybe tomorrow.  We just started this year 3 weeks ago and it is going so well.  This will be my 13th year homeschooling. Bear is in 2nd grade, Abby in kindergarten.

We got done with everything around 11:00, except read aloud (right now about Columbus).  We had lunch and the kids are outside playing.

As soon as I hit publish on this I'm going to finish up my house chores.  Then we will finish up school and I will do something creative for a little bit before I do outside chores (chickens, pigs, dogs, cats) and then fix supper.  Norman and Greg should be home around 4 and Lee will get up around supper time.  Such is my day.  I hope that you will join me as I share the adventure on our new homestead.  I know that I can learn so much from you so feel free to comment!