Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Moments...

We had planned to take the boys to a movie, but Daddy pulled off
an amazing alternative... going fishing with Pop Pop.  Didn't catch
much, but had way more fun than any cinema could offer!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Happy Olympics :)

Our Olympic Rings
We watched the opening ceremonies last night and enjoyed a themed dinner for the games.  Something about even just the thought of all the athletes from different parts of the world... some friendly allies, some bitter enemies, all joined in peace for a brief moment... it just gets me.  The ceremonies this year didn't hold a candle (or torch) to China's opening ceremonies... but I love the parade of nations.   I know it's the longest and most monotonous part, but I love seeing all the different people.  The nations, some clothed in traditional garb, all the different colors, both of cloth and skin.  I like my kids to see it to, although they didn't make it much past China this year.  I think my middle boy stayed awake through Turkey.... but I couldn't wake any of them to see what I think could have been the coolest torch ever.  Each nation had a name bearer, a flag bearer and a leaf bearer... each metallic leaf was brought to the center of the stadium and when they were all lit by the torch runners, they stretched up and transformed into the olympic torch... I thought it was beautiful symbology of each nation bringing their own piece to the games.  I'm a sucker I know.
"Torch" bearers

I woke up to the boys turning on the games, and although they grew bored quickly with cycling and changed the channel, I heard my kids start exclaiming "There he is!!  USA!!  There's our guy!"  I like that they take ownership... it's sweet.   I was very pregnant with my youngest for the last summer games, so it's fun watching him experience them for the first time.   Go team.  Go world.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Compare and Contrast

So... day 2 and 3 of house simplification/cleaning both went a little wonky on me.  Life has given our family a few lemons lately and so my mind has wandered a bit.  Yesterday, I got more distracted by cleaning and scrubbing my kitchen than I did on simplifying it.  So I will spend a third day on the kitchen.   I am mostly trying just to stay positive... somewhere between my cleaning today and sitting down at the computer to fill my addiction to other wonderful homesteading blogs and of course Pinterest... I got myself a little down.  Look at that woman's kitchen... look at that great post about praying with your kids... look at that Pin of an outrageously beautifully prepared crockpot dinner/handsewn child's outfit/handknit shawl...

The compare and contrast game is so dangerous.  It not only elevates other's journeys above our own, but it limits our expectations of possible destinations of our own paths.  I will continue to seek for inspiration from other people choosing the same path and lifestyle as mine... and I will continue to scan for ideas of ways of creating more beauty in my life and in my home... but I won't let other's "finished products" make me feel like my work in progress isn't enough.   This is a mantra for me to remember as it's so easy to covet what someone else has worked hard for without honoring what I'm working towards myself.  

So this morning, instead of rushing to simplify the kitchen or read any blogs... I've put the computer down,  gotten out my books and started doing some research.   If becoming a shepherdess is ever to become a reality-- then I must embrace the part of the path I am on... namely the beginning.   Out came the notebook and pencil and I began where all good stories start... the first chapter.

Throw in a little research on canning (my first attempt a couple years ago didn't go so well-- mostly because I didn't do any research!) and I feel so much more at peace and more focused to start my on my kitchen...and hopefully enough to propel me towards my bathrooms as well!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Use it up, Wear It Out, Make Do, or Do Without

 It's a very common Amish phrase that I've been rolling over and over in my mind lately.   I first heard of this phrase as I was reading "Almost Amish" by Nancy Sleeth.   It really made me stop and pause on the ideas of simplicity.  Simplicity been a common theme in the books that have grabbed my attention lately.  Over the last year I have read and re-read "Organized Simplicity" by Tsh Oxenreider.   A common theme is repeated in both books 'The outside should reflect the inside'.    What this means for our family is that when we are crazy, stressed, overwhelmed and out of sorts, our house shows it.   It's unwelcoming, it is cluttered and it is just plain dirty.... and I'm talking about my heart.  We are trying to work this out with fear and trembling.

I've mentioned it a few times, always with the promise of sharing more of the story, but the husband and I have been on a weight loss journey since February of this year.  As of today as I type this, we have lost nearly 90 lbs between the two of us.   A lot of people have said "Oh, that must have been so hard"... but it hasn't.  We were ready for the change.   We didn't just change what we ate, but why we ate it.  Lately, we have seen old eating habits creep in due to our hectic schedule... and we've seen weight creep back in as well... we are inspired again to change our outlook on food.   I am not a slave to what I eat, or don't eat... I am not a slave to a workout regimen.   Our change came from drinking meal replacement shakes to lose the weight, but once we go into maintenance mode,  we don't be on that regimen anymore either... but our mindset on food... that we want to put good things into our bodies,  and we want to be good stewards of the bodies that we've been given...  that is what has changed.

This idea of simplicity is there as much in our eating habits as it needs to be in our home.   I've begun Tsh's 10 day simplicity plan.   We started yesterday and I did two days worth of what she plans out in her book.   We went through our entire downstairs and got rid of clutter and plain ol' trash.  With three boys, the hidden trash part was not shocking... plenty of clutter and garbage.   One mom's man's trash is another child's man's treasure x3.  A few tears, but we got the trash and clutter gone through (first pass) and we moved the furniture in the living room, rented a heavy duty carpet cleaner and got the living room carpet clean.   I'm exhausted... which is not a good place to be since I'm heading into day 2... which I have allocated for the 2nd half of living room cleaning (fine detail stuff- second pass of clutter reduction- and steam cleaning the couch) and the start of the kitchen (clutter, dishes, countertops and floors).... but it has to be done.... and the steam cleaner has to be back by today so... I have extra motivation!

But our outlook on our house is what has to change... why we have a simple house.   Notice, I said simple, not clean.  We have three boys, we live on a farm and we have multiple (and multiplying) animals.  Our house isn't always going to be "clean"... but our mindset on what we bring into our home... what we give value is and has to be changing.   As with our mindset on what we put into our bodies... what we put in our house reflects in how we live.  I think of all the altars we have in our homes... now that makes me sound like a bit of a nutcase... but altars are places of worship.  Our television is (like most of the televisions in America are) sitting in a cabinet in a corner of the house with all the furniture facing towards it.  In many cultures outside of the US, the tv set could easily be replaced with an iconic figure of some kind, a madonna statue, a deity relic, etc. and that would seem perfectly normal.   In our house... the altars I have found are around our computers, our tv, our games.  Our family worships entertainment... our lives are centered around it.  I want that to change.  I do want our house to be a place of sanctuary... a place to be safe, a place to relax... but I want our home to also reflect who our family is at the core.  The outside to reflect the inside.   So we are simplifying... reducing our clutter... re-evaluating what is important to us and why.   I can work this 10 day simplifying regimen over and over again... but if my heart/mind haven't changed... it will be as futile as following a diet to lose the weight and then going back to the foods and mindset that made me fat in the first place.

So... with all that said... I'm on to tackle the kitchen-- Day 2!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Garden Harvest! Zucchini!!

My littlest's favorite veggie!  And coming in small, medium and large sizes!!

I'm going to use these giants to make zucchini pulp to add to my spaghetti sauce (my favorite sneaky secret ingredient other than pulpified carrots!!) and grate some up for zucchini bread (chocolate chocolate chip is my oldest's fave!)

Our corn and peas have an embarrassingly poor showing.  We may try to replant here in the next week for a early fall harvest... we'll see.   We have planted our garden in a new spot this year and we have a tree near the edge (I have NO clue what kind of tree) but whether its the shade or the roots of the tree it has cast an aura into our garden that has killed off or not allowed our plants to grow.  It's truly strange.   We'll make note and change up where we grow next year.  

Our pumpkins are showing an awesome start!  We plan to have a large harvest party in the fall- so 24 hills of pumpkins should about cover it!  I'm hoping to take some up to our farmers market if we get some good ones!  They are 2nd generation pumpkins... which is our first go at harvesting and replanting seeds from our pumpkins last year.   There's something almost "maternal" about harvesting our own seeds... I feel more connected to these plants... attached to them via the work and care it took to preserve the seeds from last years harvest.   We are going to attempt to do this with as many of our plants this year as we can.

Our sweet potatoes, beans, tomatoes and peppers are also making a great showing.  I'm so excited to start harvesting some of those delicious treats!   For now, we feast on and begin to preserve our zucchini!  I will freeze the mass of it for now and will use it in my canning soon!   Starting to look ahead for our fall garden veggies... I see squash in my future!

*** Updated to add recipe!***

Sorry all!  I wanted to post my favorite grilled zucchini recipe and I totally forgot!!  Ok... here it goes!

1 zuchinni (or 10-- depends on how many you want to feed!) cut up into 1/4 inch chunks
2 tbsp butter (yes I use my homemade butter-- but you could sub in olive oil if you prefer!)
chicago steak seasoning (we use Weber brand)- to taste

Cut up your butter into small chunks as well and mix into zucchini, wrap in foil, shake seasoning on top to taste (I give mine several healthy shakes!)- and place on the grill about 5-7 minutes before your meat or entree of choice.   After you are finished grilling your entree, pull foil pack of zuchs out and lay on top of meat (to keep warm)... be careful not to completely scald your hands or face as you open the foil-- simple, but delicious!!  We could eat these at just about every meal-- because the butter mixes so well with anything everything the seasonings (course salt, garlic, crushed pepper) it will go well with just about every meal-- or be a meal in and of itself!  For a bit of a twist-- add a few splashes of teriyaki sauce to the mix before placing on the grill!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bolt Update!

Bolt the poult (our quarantined baby turkey) is back with her fellow chicks.  She/he (we keep going back and forth on what we call her-- I suspect due to her small size that she is female) stayed in the house with us for three days.   After the first day she was so lonely she couldn't stand it.  We had her in a small clear-ish rubbermaid container for a brooder and she missed her friends terribly.  I was spending most of the day cleaning the kitchen and she would pipe up whenever I got close and run to the side I was on.   I started to feel badly that she was so lonely, so I took her out, and would let her run around the kitchen.   She mostly followed me.... and our mutual imprinting began!  

Bolt often thinks she is a parrot and perches on my finger or
shoulder.  When she starts calling herself "Polly" and asking
for a cracker I will update with a video! :)
I would take her outside and she would chase small bugs and butterflies (CUTE!).  She would hop into my lap and crawl into the crook of my arm and go to sleep (SUPER CUTE!). When the husband got home on the third day I tried to explain how I had gained a little duckling out of a turkey... he didn't believe me.  So I showed him.  I got Bolt out of her brooder, walked across the kitchen and "peeped" at her.   She came running and hopped up into my lap and went to sleep.  We have now gained a "pet" turkey.  She won her presidential-- or first lady more like-- pardon!

She's a red bourbon, so we have our fingers crossed that we have a Tom in that breed so that we can pardon all of them and keep the flock sustainably.  They are just now three weeks old so that is a bit of a way off... but that is our hope.  

We returned Bolt to the flock, but she will still come to me out of the rest of them... she will still sit in my arms longest...the others just look to jump down.   I am thoroughly enjoying our turkey experience so far.  They are super cute... they are getting bigger and more awkward looking... which only makes them more cute.    I can't wait to see them grow!  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Ok... enough with the creeptastic giant scary beetles already.

I took a picture this time before disposing of him... I'm sure he and the Mrs. are enjoying their mutating hot tub in our septic tank.... *shiver*.

That is the husband's toothbrush I carefully laid next to him to give you some kind of reference!!  
Notice I didn't use my own!!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Ok... so there are MANY good posts online about homemade dishwasher detergent...

I decided to combine a few that I liked to make a formula good for my home.   We have city water... but no softener.  We also have a 5 year old dishwasher that more often than not I called the dish-dirtier as the dishes seemed to come out dirtier than I put them in!!

Last summer I googled until I found a tutorial on how to dismantle your dishwasher piece by piece until you found the gunk... and boy did I find it.  Super gross.  I felt like Wonder Woman... or Rosie the Riveter.   It was awesome.  And it helped, for a while.  I don't NOT want to pull it apart again... so we're switching up the game with detergents.

I had most of the key ingredients on hand from the homemade laundry soap  I made last month and a couple of things just around the house.  The main hitch is some kind of citric acid... I did have freezer pectin for jelly in the cupboard... but it's been there for about 4 years... and I wasn't sure if it was something I could actually use.  So, I went with "Lemi-Shine" which I found near the regular dishwasher detergents at the grocery store.  But I have read that unsweetened lemonade packets will work the same way!
One side note-- I failed to read all the warnings... the citric acid in the lemi-shine makes everything kinda gooey then hardens up over time... to avoid this... mix the ingredient in an open bowl on your counter and stir a couple times a day.

I had a small container, again from our protein shake weight loss program (which I promise I will one day talk about) and it came with a handy 1tbsp scoop.  So my recipe went a little something like this!

1.5 c borax
1.5 c washing soda
1 c kosher salt
3/4 c lemi shine

Stir it up.  Again... let it sit a few days open on your counter and stir.  It will help it not to become a rock of frustration.

It's made my glasses shinier!!  So much so that the husband noticed!  And it smells good.   I will let you know how long it lasts... but even if I had bought all the ingredients (which I didn't) would have cost me less than $10 and that would be enough to make at least one more batch (the lemi-shine was $3 and has 12oz... so I could squeeze out one more batch with it)... nonetheless it's cheaper than the $7 for 25 tabs I was buying!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Bedtime+Giant Scary Bugs= Nightmares for Mama

So, since we got back from our vacation, our middlest boy has had a hard time going to bed. We're much more lenient in the summer on bedtimes and often let them fall asleep on the couch.  Well.  That's all fine and well, except when we go to put them to bed.  My poor 6 year old puts up a strong fight each night.... screaming, tears, melt down... the whole bit.  We pray with him, then we plead with him.... then come the threats of grounding, spanking, draw and quartering (JUST KIDDING!).  It's torture.  And it's been happening each night for about the last week.  Well, just when we thought we had won the battle last night... he was in brushing his teeth and he screamed.  Now, before I go further into this story-- he screams A LOT.  He's my most tender boy, he cries easily and works himself up easily.  I fight to keep his heart tender... but we were talking nearly 11:00 here and nearly 45 minutes into our fight for bedtime.  They had been watching batman, not scary Tim Burton batman... silly cartoon batman... so there wasn't such a nightmare risk there.  But I will admit, I've become so accustomed to this bedtime fight routine that I didn't budge from the couch.  "Why are you screaming?" I hollered.  "There's a huge beetle in the bathroom!!!!"  Again, let's pause here. The night before it was a huge wasp in the sink (it was dead), the night before that it was a huge moth (it was also dead) and my sweet boy has also claimed that there were flies, ladybugs, etc.  in the way of him going to sleep.  So, huge beetle didn't even register in my compassion-o-meter.  Especially when the oldest got up to investigate.  "Mommy, it's a junebug... can they bite?"  "No.  leave it alone... it's probably just the exo-skeleton--I'll take care of it when I go to bed".

But once the middlest couldn't even close the door to the bathroom out of fear and the oldest was laying towels in front of the door jam, I had just had it.  I was tired.  I wanted to just relax with the husband on the couch, but that wasn't happening.   So I decided I too, would go to bed and eliminate this beetle threat at the same time.

So I walked up to the bathroom.... empty.  No beetle.  So I saddled up to the sink and began to brush my teeth... all the while talking to my boys about this irrational fear of bugs.  "We live in the country... bugs are a part of our life now... yadda yadda yadda."  Then I looked at my boys and said "Where's the bug!?"  To which they both replied... "By your feet".

I looked down and saw this.

Not the actual beetle-- ours met his maker too quickly
and/or is mutating into some abomination in our septic tank. 

Nearly 1 1/2 inches.  Easily the biggest beetle I've ever seen...  I wish I could say I kept my cool... but I nearly jumped into the bathtub.  I said... "Daddy... why don't you come in and take care of this beetle"... his smooth (full of laughter reply) was "Oh, it's nothing... just take care of it and go to bed" (which I'm sure was a direct requote of myself earlier).  So I grabbed up some toilet paper and picked it up and flushed it in the fastest movement I could muster. 

I learned a few things. #1-- Sometimes the little boy crying wolf, actually sees a wolf. #2-- I can talk a big bug game about them being a part of our life- but they still freak me out when they are larger than a quarter.  And #3-- Thinking about a beetle mutating and laying thousands of mutating eggs in our septic tank will lead me to nightmares whilst my sweet middlest child sleeps sound. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Farm Life Goes On

Our turkeys were introduced to their new home last night!  The husband and our friend worked late afternoon into evening last night building the turkeys a pen in one of the tobacco barns near to our house-- and then came the fun part--- the release party!!  We took the babies, more formally called "poults" and pronounced like the first part of "poultry" and introduced them to their new surroundings.   They make the coolest "peeping" sound... which is their call to each other in the wild to find each other.   We are raising these little babies, with our friends, in hopes to not only have turkeys to sell at the holidays, but to be able to keep sustainably, incubating eggs and raising more baby turkeys.

We have three breeds, the Kentucky native Bourbon Red turkey, Spanish Blacks and Royal Palms.  I can't wait to watch these little guys grow.  We do hope to get a Tom in the Bourbon Reds and to keep them sustainably.   Once they are big enough, we will begin letting them out, free range, to forage for food, bringing them in at night.  We are trying to handle them as much as possible to get them as used to human presence as possible.

Sadie watching carefully over Bolt, our runt. 
One little guy, who our friend's sweet daughter named "Bolt" wasn't sticking too close to the brood when we went to check on them this morning.  We've taken him back to the house for quarantine.  He was already the runt of the bunch, so we think his main issue could be that he's just the last in the pecking order and needs some extra nourishment.  I've added some electrolytes to his water (it smells like vitamins and looks like gatorade) and so far, although he seems very lonely (remember that "peeping" sound??  I won't soon forget it as it's been going on in my kitchen for about 5 hours now) he's enjoying the one on one time with the food bowl.  I think we may take him back tomorrow to rejoin the brood... we may even need to rename him Houdini- since he has TWICE escaped his brooder box... found him wandering in the kitchen... peeping his little heart out!

The life on the farm goes on.  I'm embracing all that it has to offer, still taking time to mourn what was lost, but realizing that life and time march on and I better get back in step!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sadness and Heartbreak...

So... I've been quiet on here... and that's not really fair to you lovely readers (hi mom).

Here's why.  I've suffered my first major homesteading loss.  I lost both Finn and Winnie.

This last week during our freak heat wave,  I had been monitoring Finn and Winnie, bringing them inside for the heat of the day, putting them back out in the shade when it had cooled off.  They seemed fine.  No classic signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.   Well, on Friday I had checked them several times, refreshing their water and giving them some hay thinking it would be lighter on their stomachs.   We also had hustle and bustle around our house with our fridge repairman coming (who couldn't fix the problem btw) and then off to buy a new fridge that evening.  When we left all was fine... when we returned home, they were both dead.   Not only did I feel the loss of my beloved sweet rabbits, I felt like a failure.  Over the weekend I spiraled a bit-- if I can't keep rabbits alive, how will I keep sheep alive?  Maybe I should scrap this whole homesteading venture and get a job.   How could I do this?  I felt negligent, I felt horrible, I felt panicked.  My foreseeable future was wrapped up in those little bunnies.   And I had let them down.  My heart still hurts when I see their hutch.

My heart hurt when I looked at the chicks... my heart heart when I would look at this blog... so I stayed silent.  I thought about not blogging about it at all... what's not on the internet never really happened right?  But then I thought of my reason for starting this blogventure.... it was to journal the good and the bad of my journey to homesteading.   This definitely ends up in the bad category.   It's a terrible lesson to learn.  But I think with some time, some more research and some changes in my bunny accommodations, I could journey there again.  I hope that doesn't make me sound like a monster.

Anyway... sad ending to a sweet starting story.  Or at least a chapter of it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A sweet moment...

Here's our fourth little chick breaking free from his shell!  Sorry for my high pitched baby voice... I was so excited!  :)

First peepers!

Here's our first two babies born early this morning!  There are 7 more pipping (shells with beak sized cracks in them) right now.  And we've still got a couple days that the little lazy ones could still show up!   I think I've said "Don't open the incubator!" about 100 times so far today, both to the boys and to myself!  They could be possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen!!   Check back for updates soon!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The babies are coming!!!

What a broken refrigerator has taught me...

So... directly before our vacation last weekend, our fridge decided to go on a little vacation of it's own.  We're not exactly sure what has caused the problem... we're half thinking we bought an extended warranty... but mostly we are seeing how completely reliant we are on simple things like home refrigeration.  I am thankful that we found the problem BEFORE we left and not upon our return.  We were able to freeze what could be frozen in our deep freeze (the whole thing decided to go out on us-- not just the fridge part) and gave away what we could give away and then pitch the leftovers and things that honestly should have been thrown out long ago ("was this a bag of mashed bananas??"  "I think this was buttermilk").  But still, upon returning and opening the fridge--- GROSSNESS waited.  I am now blogging 60% due to wanting to write, 40% due to avoiding the chore of cleaning out the nasty appliance.   Not much was left in there, but moisture grew mold and now the whole thing is just repulsive.   I keep telling myself it could be worse.  It could be so much worse.

But it has given me the cause I need to simplify and deep clean my fridge.  Did I really need all those condiments that had been cluttering up my fridge... no, but who knows when you'll need red relish again... so why throw it out.  I didn't know I had collected a small army of now expired greek yogurt flavors.   I just hadn't paid much attention to what was lurking on the top shelf or taken the time to see that I had 3 identical bags of shredded cheese all in different portions hidden away in different drawers.  So, I will clean and organize and for now live out of coolers... but when the fridge is working properly we'll have a new order in town... a simple order.

All that's left to do is to get in there and clean it out.  It has to be cleaned in order to be repaired.  And it's not going to clean itself... although I rather wish it could.  I think I will go douse a rag in my homemade fabreze and wrap it around my face before I dive in.  Yes... I think that is my game plan.  Ewwww...