Eating Real Food, Frugal Living/ Budgeting, Homesteading, Ways to be More Content

Spring Around the Homestead

  Spring is here! This is a busy time around the homestead, getting ready for gardens and harvesting, new baby animals and weather too darn pretty to be indoors!

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  We’ve been bottle feeding a few calves, breaking up the garden, planting a few things, burning out the fence rows, and just generally being outdoors enjoying the weather.

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I painted these cute rocks for my potted herb plants. I also made some for my garden, for when all the plants go in. I just painted the rocks, used a fat Sharpie to write on them, then added a coat of spray on clear sealer. I loved quick simple projects that turn out cute!

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Here are my two bottle babies! These guys are cute, and I do love caring for them, but I know that come fall, one of them will be feeding my family. Growing your own food can be hard, but knowing what goes into what you eat is an awesome feeling too.

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Here’s my son, burning off sections of the fence row. We do this to keep the fences cleaned up, and to reduce ticks and fleas. The fields get burned off too. It just gets rid of the old/dead stuff and makes the grass come back fresh and green. When this gets done we are careful to watch the weather (no wind!) and usually burn off after a good rain, when things are dried out, but not too dry. And of coarse, always having some water nearby.

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I hope all are having a fabulous Saturday! The weather is beautiful here, and I’m fixing to head out and work on my chicken coop!

What are ways you get ready for spring? I’d love to hear back from you! I’ll be in the jam making mode in a few weeks, as strawberries are starting to come off. Stay tuned for a jam-session!

 

 

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Eating Real Food, Frugal Living/ Budgeting, Recipes/ How To, Weekly Meal Planners

How to Meal Plan Like a BOSS!

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Okay y’all, so it’s a weeknight, about 5 pm and you have no idea what’s for supper and you are in a panic. Sound familiar? Yep, we’ve all been there before!

  So let’s talk meal planning. I’m going to give you tips so you can meal plan like a BOSS! You’ll know exactly what meals you have all the ingredients for, what’s fast and easy and what you’re saving for when you have more time in the kitchen.

   To start this meal planning lesson, let’s start right in your kitchen: do a quick mental inventory (or if you’re obsessive like me, jot it down)  of what you’ve already got on hand. This will save you money, you won’t be buying extra stuff you really didn’t need. This list will be our base for the meal planner.

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 Check your freezer, fridge and pantry. Please overlook my messy-ness, apparently I need some help with organizing!

   Once you have your “inventory” list, you’re ready to start planning! Now this is where it’ll be a bit different for everyone: I plan for 6 meals for each week, we usually go out one night a week. When planning, I may jot down specific meals for specific nights, but it can always be swapped around. I try to plan for leftovers, for my lunches. I typically plan 2-3 chicken dishes, 1-2 beef dishes, 1-2 pork dishes and 1-2 “other” dishes (like pizza, hot dogs, tuna sandwiches, fish, etc).

   I keep a list of meals my family likes in a little notebook. I have them categorized by meat type: chicken/beef/pork/ other. I also have them marked with a star if they’re for the slow cooker. If I’m wanting something different/new I turn to my old pal Pinterest! How did we survive without it? I will only add one or two “new” things per week, because my bunch is picky and we tend to stick with old stand-byes. I don’t cook super fancy, we tend to like basic type foods.

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  Here’s my pretty notebook (I’m kind of a notebook geek, I have way too many!) that I keep meals we love written in. This little step makes meal planning much quicker.

  The last step is matching up meals with what you’ve got and making your grocery list. So just based on my inventory (as seen in above pics) I’ll jot down a quick plan:

1. Chicken Fajitas

2. Marinated Grilled Chicken and Grilled Asparagus

3. Pulled Pork sandwiches and Potato Wedges

4. Green Chile/Pork Nachos

5. Meaty Italian Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

6. Tuna/Egg Salad with Veggies and Dip

   Now I would look at each meal and see what components I was missing, grocery shop once for those items and be eating for the week!

   Here’s a link to a weekly meal planner template that I love! It has spots for planning breakfasts/lunches too! And a grocery list on the side. I keep one printed out and use them.

https://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/meal-planner.html

 

   There you have it! No more wondering  “What’s for dinner?”. And no more looking forward to a specific meal, then not having all the ingredients for it on hand. By planning out meals, it’ll save you stress, time and money.

  I hope you all have a very blessed day! If you have questions/comments I would love to hear from y’all!

Family Vacations, Frugal Living/ Budgeting, General, Homesteading

Here We Go Again!

I’m back!

Well, to be truthful, I wasn’t really gone! I had taken a hiatus from blogworld, but I am back and ready for BIG things to come!

I have made big changes in my life, one being I left my job as a school nurse to become a full time business owner. I had started my kennel 8 years ago part time, but I was to a point I needed to be here full time, so I made the plunge!

It was a bit scary going from a full time, regular income to irregular pay schedules and managing it on my own. But I have been so blessed with great success, and I give all the glory to God! He provides for me so richly!

I will be updating you all with a link to my new Kennel blog site (under works as we speak!) so you can check out my sweet baby puppies and their mommas and dads.

I will also be adding some awesome projects I am working on around the homestead! (including a cute new Chicken Coup up-cycled from an old swing set!) Garden season is upon me and I am so ready to get into harvesting and preserving mode!

So I hope you’ll continue to follow me in my homesteading journey!

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This pic was taken a month or so back- I hiked up to Hawks’ Bill Crag with my son and his friend.I am very afraid of heights and had decided I wasn’t even going onto the crag. Thankfully my son convinced me to get out there,that’s me with my hands in the air, that was as far as I was going. It felt to exhilarating to conquer something that big! It was a beautiful piece of my state I really enjoyed seeing.

Here’s a link to info, if you’re ever in the area, I really suggest going. Just a few notes from one gal to all of you:

  1. There are no bathrooms at the trail head, plan accordingly. (I drank a pot of coffee and 2 bottles of water, oops! I had to squat!)
  2.  It is beautiful, but the hike for this fat girl was a bit rough. Coming back up out of the holler was a doozy! If you have any type of handicap, be careful please!
  3. I would go in spring or fall, we went in late winter and it wasn’t as pretty.
  4. The road in is rough! You’ll think you’re lost and picture a scene from a scary movie (think, Wrong Turn!) but nope- that’s the right road!
  5. Leave it the way you found it! Nature is best without your empty bottles and cig butts! I always hate to see junk messing up natures beauty!

http://www.buffaloriver.com/pages/whitaker-point-trail-hawksbill-crag/

I hope all have a wonderful week ahead! I am about to head out and get my broccoli and cabbage plants in the ground and put some lettuce seeds out. God Bless!

Eating Real Food, Homesteading, Recipes/ How To

Strawberry Jam Time!

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Gathering my supplies! Now I know some people say that canning is expensive, and to get started, yes it is, but many of the supplies can be used over and over again. I have had my large hot water bath canner, pressure cooker, jars, wide mouth funnel, and rubber coated jar tongs for many years and will use them for years to come. The things that must be replaced yearly are really just the lids, I re-use my bands as long as they are free from any rust or dents. The lids are fairly inexpensive to replace yearly, a few dollars a dozen around my area. I also use the pectin when making my jellies and jams, which is a bit expensive. (I usually use the powdered pectin, but the store was out so I tried this gel pectin this time)  The fruits/veggies you use can be cheap or free, depending upon where you get them. A friend gave me a huge box of mulberries a few years ago, so the only cost in the jelly was my lids and pectin, which was a total of around $4 for around 15 jars of jelly.

Now you can make jams and jellies without adding the pectin, because pectin is a naturally occurring substance in many fruits, it just makes it a bit quicker and the jams/jellies set up nice. I just follow the directions on the package of the fruit pectin for my jam. The store bought pectin is safe and natural, made from apple pectin.

Now to preserve those delicious summer berries!! (Peaches to follow later this summer!)

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I like my jam chunky, so I leave my berries in small chunks and mash just a bit as it boils and cooks down.Measure out the washed/cut up fruit into a large saucepan. Add the sugar and let sit for a bit. The recipe I use is here:

http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/certo-strawberry-jam-52127.aspx

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I do not add the butter, I just use a spoon and skim off the foam that forms on the top.

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I go ahead and begin bringing my water in my big pot to a boil, because it takes a while. My canner has a rack in the bottom, so the jars are not sitting directly on the bottom of the pan.

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I use the small jelly jars, because it seems fresher to open a new jar more often. They are also very pretty for gift giving! A large mouth funnel is a must for jam/jelly making, I bought mine at a local dollar store for a few bucks years ago.

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Once the jam has cooked according to the directions, ladle it into the jars, leaving a space at the top of the jar. Wipe off the rims of the jars to ensure a good seal.

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The rings and lids should be placed into boiling water, then using tongs place on the prepared jars of jam, I use a dish towel to tighten them down, as they are very hot. Then using my handy dandy jar tongs, I carefully place the jars into the boiling water canner rack and boil the specified time. When I remove them from the canner, I place on a clean dry towel on my counter, they will start popping (sealing) within a few minutes. Always check to make sure they’ve sealed, if they do not seal, just place in fridge to use first.

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Now it’s time to eat it! If your family loves strawberry ice cream topping or topping for waffles and pancakes, you can just leave out the fruit pectin( or cut in half the amount) and make yourself some topping. My family loves this! Make it just the same, just without (or less) pectin. It will not set up like jam, but will be pourable, perfect for toppings!

Summer break for school has officially begun (although I have a few more days to work in my office) and I am so excited for summer! We are planning a few short trips this summer and I am so ready! I hope all have a very blessed week ahead!!

Eating Real Food, Homesteading

Food Review: Roasted Rabbit

Okay so a month or so ago we bought rabbits to raise for meat, even though we’d never tried it before. (A little nutty- I know right?) So we bought what we thought were 2 females and a male, only to end up with 2 males and a female. We bought another female to make up for that, and had the extra male we didn’t really need.

This particular male was just around 4 months old and was around 4-5lb. Now after butchering and dressing him out, he weighed around 2 to 3 lb. Raising rabbits for meat is a very economical way to eat healthy, fresh food that you know where it came from, how fresh it is, what it’s been fed, and who has handled it.

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Now I know a lot of people say they are squeamish about eating such a cute animal, but I have no more problem feeding my family rabbit than I do chicken/beef/pork or any other meats. Our next project is to get some sheep to have our own fresh lamb!

So I took the dressed out rabbit and seasoned it with a local seasoning called “Magic Chick Dust” and some onion flakes also. Placed it into the slow cooker with a bit of chicken broth in the bottom, Cooked all day on low and it was fall apart tender when I got home. I picked it off the bone and had enough meat to feed my family dinner. (I had made some cheesy rice and some honeyed carrots to go with it.) This would also be enough meat for a casserole or soup too.

So what’d it taste like, inquiring minds want to know? Like chicken, yes it tasted much like chicken, which was what many people had told me. I did not have my camera out, so I forgot to snap any pics, but picture a plate of shredded roasted chicken and that’s what it looked like.

So we will be eating more rabbit as we grow them off. We have babies right now that are a few weeks old and are growing off quite quickly. We also have our other female we thought was expecting, but thinking not now. So she will go back in with our male for awhile.

The garden is in full swing with: potatoes, onions, tomatoes, squash, lettuce, and bell peppers. Going to add some broccoli and cauliflower this weekend.

Hope you are having a wonderful week- mine has been quick, but good so far. Have a blessed day and weekend!!

Eating Real Food, Homesteading

New Baby Bunnies!!

Such exciting news- we have baby bunnies! Now these are not from our only female bunny-no,no,no. You see we are still awaiting those little critters anyday now.

These baby bunnies (hidden in their nest):

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came from a farm a few minutes away from ours. A lady who raises these really didn’t have the space for this momma and her babies- so she now resides in my barn!

This will make up for the “2 females” I was supposed to have anyways!

I know some people would be squeamish thinking about butchering and eating such cute animals- but we know that rabbits make an excellent food source for a very economic price. I think baby cows/lambs/pigs are cute too, but still love a juicy burger/ leg of lamb/ or delicious grilled pork chop. Raising meat rabbits is more about the economics for me, feeding my family real, fresh food with no hormones or additives for a price I can afford.

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Here is a pic of one of the babies- while being transferred into the nesting box.

Country living is simply the best! And on another good note- I am starting to feel less like a zombie and more human (tick fever is rough!).

Have a blessed evening!!