Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mock Pork Marbella


This is a modification of a recipe from a couple of different places. The following is my variation of it and my family nearly lick their plates clean.


The key component for this is the pork loin. We use our own pork loin from pigs that were raised by a friend which we then butcher and process ourselves. So, I KNOW the quality of meat it top of the line and healthy.

Spray the bottom of a roasting pan.You can use a cast iron Dutch Oven if you have one- just do the whole process right in the Dutch Oven. If I am doing two loins, or two half-loins, I use my roaster so that I don't use up all the space in my oven.  Rinse and trim (if needed/necessary) the pork loin. I usually leave some of the fat on as that's where the flavor is! 

Sear all the sides of the loin in a frying pan that has been oiled with either bacon grease or coconut oil.  Remove loin to your roasting pan. Pour in 1 cup of balsamic salad dressing- off brand works fine- and bring to a simmer. Scrape all those delicious brown bits of flavor from the bottom of the pan. Pour the liquid back into your measuring cup and add a hefty splash of straight balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Stir well so the sugar dissolves. Add in 1 clove of garlic, minced, 1 T dried basil, 1/2 T dried oregano, and a pinch of salt.

Still following along? Don't quit on me now!

Now, add into your liquid 1/4 cup halved green olives and about 1/2 cup of prunes that have been roughly chopped.

Put the loin in the roasting pan and pour the liquid mix over top. Cover. Bake at 325 deg. until done. I did it one time for 4 hours and it was so moist and buttery, you almost needed to eat it with a spoon!

When it's done, take it out of the pan and set it aside, covered with a foil tent for 10 minutes to let it rest. Meanwhile, make a roux of butter and flour in a sauce pan. I use 2 T butter (no substitutes) and about 3 T flour. Skim off the fat from the drippings and discard. Strain out the olives and the some of the prunes. Set aside. Make a gravy with the liquid and roux. Add back in some of the prunes to the gravy.

To serve: either slice and place on platter with the olives and prunes scattered over top, or leave whole on platter and scatter the olives and prunes over top for presentation.

I serve this with a mashed potatoes and either carrots or broccoli. Round this meal out with some home baked bread, and you've got a winner!

This is equally good with boneless, skinless chicken or turkey breasts, or bone-in chicken thighs. We use the broilers that we raise ourselves or the turkeys our son raises for 4H. I think it makes all the difference in the final product when you use ingredients about which you can feel confident. Don't you?


Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Enjoy!

Mock Pork Marbella

1 pork loin, approx 3-4 lbs, trimmed as desired
1 cup any brand balsamic salad dressing
1/4 cup (hefty splash) of balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 T basil
1/2 T oregano
1 clove garlic, minced

Sear meat in bacon grease or coconut oil on all sides. Place into greased roasting pan. Pour in 1 cup balsamic salad dressing into browning pan and bring to a simmer. Scrape up all the little delicious bits of browned meat. Add rest of ingredients and pour over meat. Cover and cook at 325* until tender- 4 hours or so.

Remove. Tent. Make gravy. Serve. Inhale. Enjoy. Collect praises of awesomeness for mad kitchen skillz.

Oh, and clean up. 



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Homemade Bread

The recipe book refers to this as Very Good Bread. My family and I have to agree.

Once you start making bread, be careful. It's hard to go back to store bought bread once you've made this one. The natives get restless without homemade bread and will stage a coup if batches are produced too far apart. 

6 cups of bread flour* (AP works, but not as well)
2 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour
2 cups of hot water
1 cup of cool water
3/4 cup of oil
2 T fast acting yeast
2 t salt
1/3 cup brown sugar

Put the two flours, salt, yeast, and brown sugar in big bowl. Mix well. Add in the water and oil. Knead until very soft and pliable- about 10-15 minutes.

**If you have a Kitchen Aid mixer, the directions go like this: Put flours, salt, sugar, and yeast into mixing bowl. Turn on mixer with bread hook. SLOWLY pour in the water and oil. Keep mixer on low speed for about 5-7 minutes.

Turn out into a large, greased bowl and spray with oil. Cover and let rise until double in size. Punch down, separate into 4 equal piles. Form into loaf shape and put into greased bread pans. Poke holes in top with fork. Let rise again until double in size.

Bake in heated 400* oven 18-22 minutes or until golden brown and hollow when thumped.

My Amish friend takes her butter wrappers and wipes them over her loaves of bread when they come out of the oven but that is purely optional. 

Immediately turn out onto wire racks to cool.


*Bread flour is a high-gluten flour that produces the most tender bread ever. If you can't get your hands on it, don't worry, your bread will still be better than anything from the store!


If you ever have stale, leftover bread, try this recipe for homemade bread crumbs. 



Monday, October 6, 2014

Vanilla-Glazed Apple Cookies...Hello, Autumn!

Finally! An autumn recipe that contains not one iota of pumpkin!

This recipe comes from a 1965 Good Housekeeping Cookbook. I have another one that I use frequently from the same era (that I stole from my mom) that starts out by saying, "The way to a man's heart" is by cooking a great meal. I'll let you ponder that while I eat these Vanilla-Glazed Fresh Apple Cookies 

Start with 1/2 cup shortening (remember, kids, the book is from 1965). 
Add in 1 1/3 cups brown sugar and 1 egg. 
Cream those together.

In a separate bowl, sift 2 cups flour, 1 t baking soda, 1/2 salt, 1 t cinnamon,
1/4 t fresh nutmeg, and 1 t ginger (original recipe calls for cloves instead of ginger, but I intensely dislike cloves, so ginger it is).

With mixer running on low, pour in half the flour mixture, 1 cup finely chopped apples (peelings left on, if desired. I leave it on- it's easier that way), 1/4 milk or apple juice, then remaining flour mixture. It should resemble something similar to this:



Drop them by scooper-fulls onto a greased baking sheet 
and bake at 375* for 11-14 minutes, or until done. 



 Remove to wire rack to cool. 
I put mine on the rack with a cookie sheet under them
to catch the crumbs and the overflow of the glaze.



Mix up a quick vanilla glaze of 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 T soft butter, 1/4 t vanilla, 
and 2 1/2 T light cream.




These are actually just as good the next day, if they make it that long, as they are the first day. They store really well as long as you layer them on wax paper.

The kids love these and I have been able to tweak the recipe enough to make them gluten-free (I just use my own gluten-free flour mixture). They can even be dairy free, just use apple juice in the dough and again in the glaze recipe. 

I hope you are able to make up a batch of these soon. You won't be disappointed!

They are so delicious you won't even miss the pumpkin~



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mother Earth News Fair

A few months ago I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and this post came up for the Mother Earth News Fair. I had heard of Mother Earth News and had read their magazines while sitting in the library waiting for the kids' summer reading program to end. And I loved them.

I discovered that Mother Earth News puts on a fair in different parts of the country during the year. The closest one to me was going to be in Pennsylvania in the middle of September. I talked with a friend and we decided to attend. Our daughters decided that we couldn't go by ourselves and have all the fun, so they came with us (as a mama, that made the trip even better).  

First of all, the entrance fee is so reasonable it's crazy- if you place your ticket order early, you can get a 3 day ticket for $25. And kids under 18 are FREE. So, yeah, crazy prices.

I looked around and found a B&B for us to stay in for the weekend- again, crazy reasonable pricing. Plus, breakfast was included. The room was clean, the breakfast was hearty, and the other guests were a riot. We all had a great time together.

We left for our destination early Friday morning and arrived at our B&B around noon. After checking in and depositing our bags, we headed to Seven Springs Resort for the fair.

Let me tell you something: I was blown away. Seriously. The venue, the weather, the scenery. Oh, and let's not forget the actual fair itself! The vendors. The workshops. The education. The people. And I usually am not a real big fan of people. But these 15,000 people were just like me! They were seeking knowledge about living life. About being alive. About doing stuff that matters, not just today, but into the future. About realizing that the status quo isn't all it's cracked up to be. About finding a new way to do an old task. About making a difference. About not settling for something that works just because it appears convenient.

You are probably expecting me to describe these people as older, hippie-ish, tree-hugging, no animal product, women in long, flowing skirts, birkenstocks, and long hair everywhere. Ah, no. Not at all. There were so many families. So many people in my generation. I couldn't believe how many people under the age of 45 were there. It was amazing. And so encouraging!

I took workshops on crop rotation, herbalism, goat cheese making, hops growing...can you say 'diversity?' There were over 200 workshops to choose from! I learned so much over the weekend that I felt as though my brain had turned to mush and was leaking out of my ears.

A few words of advice:
  • Take good notes. Even if you don't think it matters at the time, take them anyway. You won't regret it- you will regret thinking that you can remember everything you heard in the workshop
  • Good walking shoes. Obviously. 
  • More money than you think you'll need. Although, most of the vendors are set up to take credit/debit cards now on their smart phones, cash is king
  • Go with a friend or friends. You can a) divide and conquer and make it to twice as many workshops if you split up and b) have someone to process information with.
  • At least one bag- preferably a backpack- for you to haul stuff in. 
  • Don't feel like you have to have basic knowledge in any given area in order to attend a particular workshop. I found that most of the presenters went from basic to advanced teaching within one hour. It was fascinating. 
  • GO

If this has piqued your interest at all, wonderful. If not, sorry 'bout your luck.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Vacation within a Vacation

I'm sitting on my in-laws' front deck listening to the wind in the trees, the wind chimes tinkle, and the grasshoppers....um, whatever noise a grasshopper makes. And I'm loving it. Not a person, except for family, in sight or earshot. Plain and simple- it's beautiful. And peaceful. And quiet.

But you know what? It smells different than home. The wind sounds different than what it sounds like at home. And I wonder. I wonder if I enjoy home as much as I enjoy my in-laws deck. Do I appreciate the sounds, smells, and views at the home of my heart as much as I do here. If I don't, why not?

I've been giving this some thought. What I've come up with is that, yes, I do appreciate it as much at home as I do on vacation. It does become something that can be taken for granted, but for as much as I love my in-laws deck, I truly, deeply, passionately love the area we call home. I love the lay of land, the variety of trees, the whisper of the breeze, and the scents and sounds of home.

I think that getting away from the everyday normal is a good thing every once in a while. I think that it's necessary for personal, spiritual, mental, and emotional development to see new things, try new foods, meet new people, and acclimate to new areas. I think that there is something to be said for learning the roads in a new town or going to a totally random church. To hear a different language spoken at the grocery store or find a regional ice cream that you love. To go to bed and get up with the sun instead of an alarm clock. To really spend time alone, but not lonely, and get to know better that quiet whisper that prompts your soul.

Vacation is a good thing. Getting away is a good thing. But going home? It's even better....




Thursday, August 7, 2014

I've Been Interrupted.

Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker has me, well, stuck.

My mind is stuck. My heart is stuck. My thought process is stuck. My actions are stuck. I'm basically hub-deep in my own mire right now. And I've really only digested Chapters 1 and 2. Someone send me a tow line please.

Phase One: Breaking Down, page 7, was my first spin out in the mire. And I started sinking from there: "Why did I spend all my time blessing blessed people who should be on the giving side of the equation by now?" 

I totally do that. Lord, help me.

I read that sentence a week ago and I still seem to ponder it in my heart daily, if not hourly. Why? Is there something to it that I can't see yet? Is there something to it that I don't want to see? I'm going with the latter.

I've come up with some pretty human answers to the question she posed
  • It's easier
  • It's safer

Um...yeah, that's all I got. I told you I was stuck. And herein lies my stuck-ness: How do I change it?  How do I go beyond what the world and the flesh think of as doing good and get into what God wants from me? 

So what I discovered is that this is best and only answered by God Himself. In His Word. By His Word. And His Word says that I am to do for 'the least of these.' Not 'the blessed of these,' not 'the Christian of these,' not' the religious of these', not 'the ones who can give back when I need it of these.'  

The least of these. 

Just who are 'the least of these' anyway? I have a feeling that my list will be long but not exhaustive. And in it will be the ones who my God will be asking me to help. To serve. To bless. And because He wants it, I will do it.

I know that in following Him I will become unstuck. But more than that, I will be.

Care to join me in serving 'the least of these?'





Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Interrupted.

I'm so excited! I was one of the first 250 bloggers to reply to an email call to action by Jen Hatmaker about her newly edited, re-released book, Interrupted, When Jesus Interrupts Your Comfortable Christianity! Whoot!

I'm so not the type of person to be a crazy stalker or follower of a blogger, but this woman just gets it. She speaks it. Writes it. LIVES it. And is human and humble enough to know she messes it up sometimes, too.

So, I get to read an early copy of her book, Interrupted, and use it as a launching point to start discussions, conversations, and perhaps the changing of lives here on my little blog.

If you would be interested in reading this book, too, you can get 20% off the price until July 31, 2014, by using this link.

I have a feeling this will be a life-changing book.

Bring it on!



Interrupted follows the author’s messy journey through life and church and into living on mission. Snatching Jen from the grip of her consumer life, God began asking her questions like, “What is really the point of My Church? What have I really asked of you?” She was far too busy doing church than being church, even as a pastor’s wife, an author of five Christian books, and a committed believer for 26 years. She discovered she had missed the point.

Christ brought Jen and her family to a place of living on mission by asking them tough questions, leading them through Scripture, and walking together with them on the path. Interrupted invites readers to take a similar journey. - See more at: http://www.navpress.com/Interrupted-Jesus-Wrecks-Comfortable-Christianity/d
Interrupted follows the author’s messy journey through life and church and into living on mission. Snatching Jen from the grip of her consumer life, God began asking her questions like, “What is really the point of My Church? What have I really asked of you?” She was far too busy doing church than being church, even as a pastor’s wife, an author of five Christian books, and a committed believer for 26 years. She discovered she had missed the point.

Christ brought Jen and her family to a place of living on mission by asking them tough questions, leading them through Scripture, and walking together with them on the path. Interrupted invites readers to take a similar journey. - See more at: http://www.navpress.com/Interrupted-Jesus-Wrecks-Comfortable-Christianity/dp/1631463535#sthash.YlSuqLyC.zjDUrenL.dpuf
Interrupted follows the author’s messy journey through life and church and into living on mission. Snatching Jen from the grip of her consumer life, God began asking her questions like, “What is really the point of My Church? What have I really asked of you?” She was far too busy doing church than being church, even as a pastor’s wife, an author of five Christian books, and a committed believer for 26 years. She discovered she had missed the point.

Christ brought Jen and her family to a place of living on mission by asking them tough questions, leading them through Scripture, and walking together with them on the path. Interrupted invites readers to take a similar journey. - See more at: http://www.navpress.com/Interrupted-Jesus-Wrecks-Comfortable-Christianity/dp/1631463535#sthash.YlSuqLyC.zjDUrenL.dpuf
Interrupted follows the author’s messy journey through life and church and into living on mission. Snatching Jen from the grip of her consumer life, God began asking her questions like, “What is really the point of My Church? What have I really asked of you?” She was far too busy doing church than being church, even as a pastor’s wife, an author of five Christian books, and a committed believer for 26 years. She discovered she had missed the point.

Christ brought Jen and her family to a place of living on mission by asking them tough questions, leading them through Scripture, and walking together with them on the path. Interrupted invites readers to take a similar journey. - See more at: http://www.navpress.com/Interrupted-Jesus-Wrecks-Comfortable-Christianity/dp/1631463535#sthash.YlSuqLyC.zjDUrenL.dpuf
Interrupted follows the author’s messy journey through life and church and into living on mission. Snatching Jen from the grip of her consumer life, God began asking her questions like, “What is really the point of My Church? What have I really asked of you?” She was far too busy doing church than being church, even as a pastor’s wife, an author of five Christian books, and a committed believer for 26 years. She discovered she had missed the point.

Christ brought Jen and her family to a place of living on mission by asking them tough questions, leading them through Scripture, and walking together with them on the path. Interrupted invites readers to take a similar journey. - See more at: http://www.navpress.com/Interrupted-Jesus-Wrecks-Comfortable-Christianity/dp/1631463535#sthash.YlSuqLyC.zjDUrenL.dpuf
Interrupted follows the author’s messy journey through life and church and into living on mission. Snatching Jen from the grip of her consumer life, God began asking her questions like, “What is really the point of My Church? What have I really asked of you?” She was far too busy doing church than being church, even as a pastor’s wife, an author of five Christian books, and a committed believer for 26 years. She discovered she had missed the point.

Christ brought Jen and her family to a place of living on mission by asking them tough questions, leading them through Scripture, and walking together with them on the path. Interrupted invites readers to take a similar journey. - See more at: http://www.navpress.com/Interrupted-Jesus-Wrecks-Comfortable-Christianity/dp/1631463535#sthash.YlSuqLyC.zjDUrenL.dpuf
Interrupted follows the author’s messy journey through life and church and into living on mission. Snatching Jen from the grip of her consumer life, God began asking her questions like, “What is really the point of My Church? What have I really asked of you?” She was far too busy doing church than being church, even as a pastor’s wife, an author of five Christian books, and a committed believer for 26 years. She discovered she had missed the point.

Christ brought Jen and her family to a place of living on mission by asking them tough questions, leading them through Scripture, and walking together with them on the path. Interrupted invites readers to take a similar journey. - See more at: http://www.navpress.com/Interrupted-Jesus-Wrecks-Comfortable-Christianity/dp/1631463535#sthash.YlSuqLyC.zjDUrenL.dpuf
Interrupted follows the author’s messy journey through life and church and into living on mission. Snatching Jen from the grip of her consumer life, God began asking her questions like, “What is really the point of My Church? What have I really asked of you?” She was far too busy doing church than being church, even as a pastor’s wife, an author of five Christian books, and a committed believer for 26 years. She discovered she had missed the point.

Christ brought Jen and her family to a place of living on mission by asking them tough questions, leading them through Scripture, and walking together with them on the path. Interrupted invites readers to take a similar journey. - See more at: http://www.navpress.com/Interrupted-Jesus-Wrecks-Comfortable-Christianity/dp/1631463535#sthash.YlSuqLyC.zjDUrenL.dpuf

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Simple Pizza Tater Tot Bake

I could come up with no better name for this dish than that.

Creativity isn't my strong suit, okay?

Couldn't be easier:

Brown a 1 1/2lbs of either ground beef or pork (I used our seasoned pork mixture)
Drain and put back in pan.
Add in 1/2 large can of crushed tomatoes, a splash of Worcheshire sauce, 1/2 palmful of dried basil, 1/4 palmful of dried oregano, S&P.
Mix together.
Throw in a few handfuls of frozen spinach and stir.

Pour into greased 9x13 baking pan.
Add banana pepper slices, pepperoni, mushrooms, chopped bacon, green peppers, jalapenos- whatever else you would put on a pizza.
Cover with a layer of tater tots and a generous portion of mozzarella cheese.
Bake in a preheated 400* oven for 35-45 minutes or until tots are crispy.

There ya have it. Simple. Pizza Tater Tot Bake.

My family polished off all but one small square of this for dinner last night and no one came into the kitchen at 8.30 looking for a snack before bed. Win!


Friday, June 20, 2014

No more. No less.

I felt challenged by a message from our pastor at New Life Church of Christ in Bellville, Ohio, a few weeks ago. His message was about Matthew 14:15-21 and the way that Jesus had compassion on those around Him.

Oddly enough, as happens often with my own Bible reading, the Holy Spirit gave me a totally different message through Matthew 14:15-21 than what our pastor talked about.

Oh, I could see where the pastor was coming from and I agreed with his message about compassion. But there was a different angle or side to the story that caught my attention.Maybe it's because I struggle with honoring God with the resources He's given me. Maybe it's because I wonder how He could use little ol' me in this big, gigantic, sprawling plan of His.

Maybe it's because it's He needed for me to hear something special from Him.

So I took note of it and wrote about it and am sharing it with all of you because I feel that it will be a blessing to someone here today.

Check out Womanhood with Purpose for my take on Matthew 14:15-21

 

 

 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The New Proverbs 31 Woman

That Proverbs 31 Woman of the Bible- boy, she's a piece of work, isn't she?

Think you've got some pretty big shoes to fill?

Ever feel like just giving up because you think you'll never measure up?

Sweet friends, click here to read my take on her and God's message to us through her.

It might change your outlook....it sure did change mine.



Sunday, May 18, 2014

Easiest.Crisp.Ever.

This recipe will totally make your life easier. I promise.

Picture it, Sicily, 1942- you are on the meal train at your church and need to add a dessert recipe to your dinner offering. Or a new neighbor moves in and you'd like to welcome them to the area. Or a last-minute potluck lunch comes up with your homeschooling group at the park.

I'm not even kidding when I say this crisp recipe has the potential to change your life.

Ready? Set. Go.

Preheat oven to 375* or 350* if using glass baking dish.

Spray your baking dish. I use either a 9x9 or a 9x13

Put a thick layer of any type of fruit in said baking dish. The most recent two times I made this, I used frozen apples. Ahhhmazing.

In a medium size bowl, combine equal parts brown sugar and rolled oats (I use Wheat Montana's 7 Grain Cereal which I have a certain affinity for, as discussed in this post) and half of that amount of whole wheat flour. With your fingers, blend in that same amount that you used for either brown sugar or oats of real butter. (Spelled out: example- 1/2 cup of brown sugar, oats, 1/4 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of butter) Add a healthy sprinkle of cinnamon, ginger, and a 1/4 tsp of baking power, and a pinch of salt.

Sprinkle on top of fruit. Spray top with baking spray if you like it super crispy, like I do.

Bake until fruit is tender and topping is browned.

Viola.

As my daughter says, "easy peasy, lemon squeasy"

Trust me: you cannot screw this up.


Some fruit combinations that are a big hit around my house:

You can use frozen, fresh, or canned-
Apple- add nutmeg into topping
Apple and cranberries-
Pear
Pear and raspberry
Black raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry
Peach- add nutmeg into topping
Peach and raspberry
Peach and pear
Rhubarb and peach

You can totally make this with gluten-free flour and certified gluten-free oats.

Enjoy!




Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Keeping it All in Perspective

Well, friends, we are almost done with school for the year. ALMOST. But not quite.

Son has finished his Healthy Choices/Healthy Living class and Science. He's almost done with Math- only 5 lessons left. He has a few more History/Geography lessons left in the book. Then we will be focusing on writing for the summer for him. Prayers would be appreciated.

Daughter is done with Science, Healthy Choices/Healthy Living, Wordly Wise, Writing, Botany, and Ancient History. She's got 20 lessons or so left in her current math curriculum and will be doing another entire year of math this summer so that she can take Physics class next year.  Again, prayers would be appreciated.

So, in rereading what I wrote in the first sentence, I think I may have been lying.

In the grand timeline of childhood, we're almost done with schooling. But considering the fact that learning is life-long, education is never-ending, and my motto is that it's a wasted day if you don't learn something new, schooling is a blip. A necessary blip, but a blip nonetheless.

But it's not the main thing to focus on. Love, kindness, compassion, serving others, hard work- those are things that I really want the kids to remember and learn. I desire that they keep the Main Thing the Main Thing. 

I deeply desire that they grow to love the Lord and develop a heart to follow hard after Him and what He wants from them for their lives. He will make a way for them. He IS faithful. He IS all-powerful. He IS so worthy of all our love, adoration, praise, and worship. He IS the only one who IS.

So, yes, schooling is necessary. But it's not all there is to childhood, or teenager-hood, or adulthood, for that matter. 

Can I get an amen?!









Friday, May 2, 2014

It's All Good

We have kids!

The four-legged kind!

The cute as a button, jump like popcorn kernels, lanky, leggy kind.

Check out the video of their first time seeing grass. As my Amish friends say, "Joomba!"  It means "jump."

And do you know what that means? It means that we have to redo the inside of our barn. Oh joy.

These next few weeks will be filled with pounding posts, building stalls, putting up tin, and generally making our barn more of a safe haven for our little animals from the big, bad, wiley coyotes that live very close by.

While we're at it, we're building a bigger and better chicken run for our hens, too. For as much as I love having them forage through the property for their daily intake of bugs, worms, grubs, and so much more, I don't love them digging up the garden once it's planted or laying their eggs under the raspberry bushes. So, we have to corral them for a few months while we grow and harvest the food I'll can and preserve for our family. They'll be let back out to roam once the last of the potatoes have been dug early this fall.

I was talking with someone a few weeks ago and they had mentioned how as their kids had gotten older (mid-teen years) their farm  had gotten smaller. I thought: how nice. The older our kids get, the bigger our farmingness (<--is that a word? It is now) gets. The older they get, the more things they get interested in. Rare breed pigeons. Meat goats. Milk goats. Turkeys. Chickens. One current steer with another one coming to our farm soon. A rescue horse. Two dogs. Two children. One cat. All kinds of love I tell ya. All kinds. 



Life.is.so.good.






Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Most Dangerous Word a Christian Uses

What do you think of when you think of dangerous words for Christians? Do you think of swear words? Lies? Hateful words? Spiteful words? Do you think of sentences or individual words?

Have you ever really thought about it?

What about the word JUST. Not the adjective part of 'just' that is defined as guided by truth, reason, justice, and fairness; in keeping with truth or fact; true; correct; in accordance with standards or requirements; proper or right by Dictionary.com. I'm talking about the word 'just' that is defined as only or merely. 

For example, people who pray, Heavenly Father, we *sigh* just come before You.... Or Heavenly Father, we *sigh* just love you. Or *sigh* we just ask for you to heal Aunt Sue's hip. 

If prayers are the pathway to the Throne of Grace and we have full confidence based on the work that was done on the Cross (Hebrews 4:12-14), and we are told to pray unceasingly (1 Thessalonians 5:17), fervently (Hebrews 5:7), with fasting (Acts 13 and 14), and with hymns (Acts 16:25), why are we putting a limit on God? We are also told to "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matt. 7:7).

Now, what happens when you are at a restaurant and place your order? "I'd just like a salad with dressing on the side, a sweet tea, and a dish of applesauce, please." What do you think your server will deliver to you? A double cheeseburger, fries, chocolate shake, and a pickle? No. You just asked for a salad, drink, and applesauce. Our words are to mean what they mean. Did you really mean to just order a salad hoping for a burger?

I'm going to throw something at you in a very loving way: what if we removed the word 'just' from our prayers to the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the King of King, the Almighty God. What if we took away the restriction of 'just?' What if we blew the doors of the Throne room of Grace wide open and off the hinges with our prayers without the confines of the word 'just' and really went to God with our petitions, praises, love, adoration, and worship. What if we went to our Heavenly Father and instead of using the word 'just' as a word for humility and meekness, remove it completely as a way of showing more trust, faith, reverence, and awe? Are we using it as a word of submission? Because if we are, there are far better words to use in its place: simply, humbly.

Or- and I can sense the intake of breath here- leave it out completely. *gasp*

We are TOLD to go with confidence. We are TOLD that we are accepted. We are TOLD that we are loved, chosen, wanted.  Why would we choose not to believe that? Accept that? Live in that Truth? Stand on that?

'Just' puts God in a box. A corner. Do you think Peter and John went out in Acts and kept praying 'just (only) let us help them Lord', 'just (only) give us the power to heal this one person', 'just (only) give us the strength to take on the Pharisees this time'

Or did they go out in Acts having full and total confidence that they were acting, living, breathing, dying, for HIM and had no room in their lives for the words just, only, or merely?

I'll let you make your own decisions about this. But I will ask you to take it before God in prayer. Ask Him. Seek Him. Love Him. Believe in Him. 'Just' might fade from your prayer vocabulary....













Thursday, April 3, 2014

Home

What a word. What a concept. And to each person it holds different meaning.

After being gone for 16 days, I couldn't wait to be home. Drinking my own coffee. Eating my own food. In my beloved's arms. Laughing with my daughter. Seeing my own view out the windows. Sleeping in my own bed. 

For as much as I thoroughly enjoyed our time at a friend's inn in Massachusetts, I was ready to be home.

I learned a few things while I was gone. For what it's worth, I think we should all learn something new everyday. And if the something that we learn is something new about ourselves it's a bonus!

I learned that when God plucks me from my normal, everyday life and places me outside of my comfort zone that I shouldn't fight it. I'll miss the blessings He wants to give me because I'll be too busy and too focused on where I'm not instead of where I am.  On the other side of that coin, if I fight it, I won't be the blessing I should be to the people I'm serving. If I'm too focused on me, I can't focus on Him.

I learned that I can do it. Whatever it is. I can do it. I can figure out solutions to problems or situations that I probably will never encounter again. But because of my common sense, life is not really that complicated. It's complex, but not complicated. Love and grace can solve every problem out there.

I learned that there is a reason why God has had me walk down some of the paths He's chosen. His plan is so much more than anything I could have ever imagined. The pieces of the puzzle He put together have made for a very colorful, multidimensional, and multifaceted picture. If left to my own devices, I'm certain that how I would choose to put the pieces together would be rather dull, monochromatic, and flat. 

The most important thing I learned, though, is that I have to bring these truths home with me and incorporate them into my everyday life. Those lessons learned shouldn't be left behind, they should become part of who I am. And that's the best lesson of all. 







Thursday, March 20, 2014

Getting Started with Esential Oils

I've been using essential oils for about a year now. I eased into it one oil at a time at the beginning.

I started with Melaluca for cuts and scratches.

I added Oregano about 4 months later when our daughter got an ear ache. A drop on a cotton ball placed over her ear and a swipe down the side of her neck with it and she was better within an hour.

Then Peppermint because I heard that it was a good bug repellent. I had started running and couldn't handle the bugs around my face in the summertime heat. I put a couple of drops in the palm of my hand with a light carrier oil and put it on the back of my neck, across my temples, and on my shoulders. Bonus: the cooling effect of peppermint in the wind! I would also drop a couple of drops in my sweet tea in the summer for a change of pace.

All of these were of the generic variety. Then a friend of mine introduced me to doTerra oils. At that point, I jumped in with both feet.

I use the Lavender to help me sleep each night and use it an effective but bite and burn soother.
I drink the Lemon oil or the Grapefruit oil in my water everyday. I put the Citrus Bliss on my wrists and the back of my neck as a little pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon.

But my all-time favorite, hands down, is the OnGuard. I use that in so many things. When I had my four wisdom teeth extracted, I swished with OnGuard in my water. I put it in a spray bottle with Shaklee's Basic H to clean my kitchen. When I feel a cold coming on, I put three drops of it along with Oregano and Lemon in a capsule and knock that junk out. But my absolute favorite way to use it? In my tea. I make a cup of tea and put one drop of OnGuard in it. The clove, orange, and cinnamon flavors are the perfect addition to the hot tea. It's simply delicious. It's the perfect wintertime treat. It's also delicious in a blueberry smoothie with spinach, yogurt, a frozen banana, and raw honey.

Get creative with oils. You will be pleasantly surprised with what they can do.

If I had to live with only 5 oils for the rest of my life it would be Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint, OnGuard, and Oregano. 

I can't imagine my life without them.

The ways that I can use them, both separately and in combination with each other, can help just about any common issue my family has.

What about you? Have you ever tried them?  What are your favorite oils?


Monday, March 17, 2014

Life. Interrupted.


In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9 NIV

This is the only verse that kept coming to mind when the email came that my dear friend needed my help at her inn in Lenox, MA for three weeks. My life was planned. My family had things on the calendar. Our daughter's goats were almost ready to give birth. We have a school schedule to finish. Co-op to attend. Bible studies to go to. Weekly piano lessons. Baby chicks to start. Our son's baby turkeys for 4H were in a box in the kitchen. (we have a tendency to put poultry in our kitchen. Doesn't everyone?)

But that email...I needed to drop everything and be there, or here, as the case may be, for my friend. She needed me. And I love her. End of story. 

So, in the end, our daughter decided to stay home and keep watch over the livestock on our farm as well as keeping the house running for my husband. Our son and I piled into the car and drove 12 hours, 1/5 of the way across the US to be here. For 18 days. Where God wants us. Where He determined our steps to go long before I ever wrote a single event on my calendar.

And you know what, I don't want to be anywhere else. I would rather be inside the will of God and outside my comfort zone than outside the will of God and inside my comfort zone.

I'll be rather quiet for the next few weeks, but I'll be back to my regularly scheduled life soon enough. And I won't regret my time spent here serving the Lord and my dear friend. Outside of my comfort zone.

In the end, it's all good....

Catch you all on the flip side.



 
 
And while I'm here, this is my workout routine. It's easily doable in my room, doesn't take a lot of space, and is comfortable to do on my yoga mat (which I brought along!)


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Simple Granola

I'm getting ready to take a trip and am putting together my list of "car snacks."

It's funny how the snacks I think of for traveling aren't even close to the snacks I think of when staying home. On my list: Money Munch, granola, apples, vanilla wafers, gummi anythings...

Three of those five items haven't been purchased by me since the last trip I went on! But for some reason, they show up on the list during the planning stage.

Weird. 

I love making granola. But it never turns out the same way twice. If you stick around this blog long enough,  you'll discover that I tend to think of recipes as guidelines rather than rules. This granola recipe fits into that mindset perfectly.

It's basically a ratio mixture:

5 cups of oats or bulk (rice crisp cereal, rolled spelt or rye...)
1/4 cup of oil (coconut, sunflower...whatever you have on hand)
1/4 cup of sweetener (honey, pure maple syrup, brown sugar, sucanat, agave, mixture of any or all)
pinch of sea salt
1 t seasonings (cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice...)
handful of nuts (sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp, chia...)
handful of dried fruit- if desired (dried cranberries, dried apple slices, dates, apricots...)

As you can tell, there is a very good reason why my granola never tastes the same twice. TOO.MANY.OPTIONS.

This time, I used Wheat Montana's 7 Grain Cereal as the biggest part of my oats/bulk mixture with the minority being plain rolled oats.  I used organic, lightly filtered coconut oil, sucanat, and pumpkin pie spice. Instead of nuts, I used hemp seeds and no dried fruit.

I absolutely LOVE Wheat Montana's products. I will go out of my way to purchase their products if I need grain and I will make special purchases if I come across their products outside of my regular routine. I purchased their whole wheat berries to grind in my own grinder and it made the absolute best bread ever. *This might sound like a sponsored post, but I assure you-they have no clue who I am* 

If you get adventuresome and are into essential oils (like I am), you can add in a couple of drops of doTerra's OnGuard, cinnamon, wild orange, or ginger into the wet mixture. It adds a wonderful kick to the flavor!



I mix the oil, sweetener, salt, and seasonings together and pour over the oats/bulk.






 Spread onto a foil lined cookie sheet and cook in a 300* oven for about 20 minutes. 
 Stir it every 8-10 minutes. (If you want clumps of granola, DO NOT stir it)



Cool and store. 
I use these gallon size glass jars with metal lids for all my bulk foods.



Even with the Wheat Montana grain, this still only cost about $3 to make 6 cups of granola. I don't think that's bad at all. Especially when you take into consideration the fact that you know each and every ingredient you put in there and can pronounce it. Expect for sucanat. I'm still working on that one rolling off my tongue. 

I don't think I need to tell you how to eat this stuff. It's good on yogurt, as a cold cereal, over fruit...the options are endless. Personally, my favorite way is over fruit with a drizzle of our own raw, unfiltered honey.

A side note- I have become addicted to a teaspoon of coconut oil in my coffee. I can't seem to get enough of it. It's heavenly.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Chickens and Memories


We have raised chickens before as the meat/egg breeds. Those were a lot of work, but fun. You get the eggs for two years, but then comes the butchering part. The processing of them would fall to me, and I just didn't want to do it anymore. It's a lot of work for a little bit of meat. 

Then we got started in broilers for meat and realized that pound for pound, week for week, feed for feed, the broilers were worth more to us than the layers were, meat-wise.

We have raised different breeds of chickens for many years and decided two winters ago to get Golden Comet chicks. This was a new breed for us. I’ve heard many people will only raise Golden Comets for eggs due to their consistent egg laying, feed-to-egg ratio, docile nature, and their final slight size.

I got the call from my post office that our day-old chicks were waiting for me. We got them home and settled in their box near the woodstove. 


Aren't they cute!?

They spent some time with us in the house near the woodstove for heat, but by the end of March, it was warm enough, reliably, to put them in the chicken coop. By that time, of course, the kids had grown attached to them. The chickens had become pets. They had become friends. Never mind that their life-plan was to lay us eggs, eat our kitchen scraps, and scratch our garden looking for grubs until that fateful day when they would say goodbye to this world and venture to that Great Big Chicken Run in the sky.

However, one chicken in particular, decided she liked the ‘human life’ a little too much. She would join us in the wood pile, right at our feet scratching for grubs, hopping up and sitting on the kids’ laps while they ran the handle for the log splitter, riding on the rack of the four-wheeler as we moved the wood into the woodshed…she was always around us. My husband, who would be running the chainsaw, would have to stop what he was doing to pick her up and set her down on a log that would be crawling with bugs, worms, and grubs.  Our family became so attached to her, that we named her “Fri-hen-d.” 


Yes, this chicken is in our house. 

She also received a blue zip tie on her left leg so that when it came time to butcher the chickens, we wouldn’t accidentally butcher her. (This foray into the kitchen is what prompted to blue zip tie- so it's not on her in this photo)


She lives the good life now- when she hears the back door open, she runs up on the deck hoping that we will be hand-feeding her something tasty. When it snows, or is too cold outside, she comes up to the back door and will peck on the door asking for admittance. Once, we took pity on her and brought her in and warmed her up by the woodstove. She plopped herself right down in the warmth and sat there for a while.  She comes when she’s called- like a dog does. 

Our family has enjoyed her antics and will allow her to be free and safe from The Ax.  The memories she has given our children will live on long after she’s gone. My husband and I are in the process of creating for our kids their ‘Good Ole Days.’ These are the days and times that the kids will look back on and remember with fondness.  Besides, what more can a mom ask for but memories to cherish close to her heart when the kids have grown up, and those same memories that they can take with them to pass along to their children. One day, they will be sitting around the table at a Thanksgiving dinner after their dad and I pass on, and they’ll say, ‘Remember that chicken we had when we were kids that mom and dad let us bring in to the house? What was her name again?’ And they’ll regale their families with stories of Fri-hen-d and growing up on a farm. And their memories will be tinged with gold and warmth and love. 


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Naming a Blog

This might fall into the "*Just in Case You Wanted to Know but are Afraid to Ask" category.

I think it's almost as momentous a decision as naming a child. Almost. Try to consolidate the composition of your life's symphony into 3 to 5 words. That are available as a domain name. That don't accidentally spell something inappropriate when typed with no spaces (example: Como Depot. I saw this the other day and laughed out loud. When you type that all together without spaces it's comodepot. Comode Pot. <-- That's what I was meaning about the accidental inappropriateness...)Tough stuff, I tell ya.

One must take into consideration all that one loves and likes. Where one wants to go and where one has been. What one believes and what one doesn't believe. How one perceives the world and through what Lens. How spiritual one lives or doesn't. How helpful does one want to be or doesn't. How motivating does one want to be or doesn't.

Or maybe not so much. The title of my blog actually came to me by way of my husband. "Our" song is an oldie, but a goodie, Forever in Blue Jeans by Neil Diamond. He sang it to me while we were dating. He sang it to me at our wedding.  And after nearly 19 years together, if it comes up on Pandora or iTunes we'll tune the kids out and turn the music up. And sing it to each other. (*We're Neil Diamond fans, by the way. Just file that under the same category as mentioned above.)

Have you ever paid attention to the words?

Money talks
But it can't sing and dance
And it can't walk
And long as I can have you
Here with me, I'd much rather be
Forever in blue jeans, babe


And if you pardon me
I'd like to say
We'll do okay
Forever in blue jeans, babe
And long as I can have you
Here with me I'd much rather be
Forever in blue jeans, babe  


*"Forever in Blue Jeans" is a song by Neil Diamond which was co-written with his guitarist Richard Bennett.

The fact that my husband and I didn't build our marriage around money, careers, or the things of this world that are currently passing away has been an incredible blessing to both of us. And to our kids.

The "Homemaking" part of the name seems fairly self-explanatory. :)  

I am so happy to be married to this man and I know that we'll be okay, forever in blue jeans.  

So there you have it. Naming a child, naming a blog- it's all the same. I'm totally kidding. Naming a child is more difficult. 

Naming our first born was almost comical. We didn't officially know what gender we were having, but my motherly instinct 'knew' the child I was carrying was a girl. We never talked about boy names. It just wasn't a boy. So, we agreed, or I thought we had agreed, on a name that was a combination of our two grandmother's names. Ellie (it was a variation on my grandmother's maiden name, Ellis) and Rose (his grandmother's name). Ellie Rose. Beautiful. Simple. Innocent. Meaningful. We referred to the bump as Ellie. We talked about when Ellie would arrive. The baby was Ellie. (Please don't ask me what would have happened if the baby had been a boy. We don't talk about it.)

Our baby is born, yes, a girl, laid on my chest, tears are being shed, love is being expressed in words and touches, and the nurse comes over and asks, "What name goes on her birth certificate?" I look at the nurse with such joy that can never be contained and reply, "Ellie Rose."

My beloved looks at me with that same joy that can never be contained and puts his hand on my shoulder (<--I took this as a sign of solidarity.) and says, "Honey, I hate that name."


So. Naming. It's a challenge. We officially didn't name our first born child until about an hour before we left the hospital. ALL of her papers, name band, everything, say either "Baby Girl" or "Princess." 

By the way, God totally nailed the naming of our children. We jumped the gun and tried to name them in our own strength. But trust me, their God-chosen names are so completely perfect for them that I can't imagine ever thinking that we could have done a better job.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Herbal Horse Healing

Living on a small farm means being ready for just about anything. 

Reader discretion is advised.



A few weeks ago, one of my rescue horses got a huge wound on his right rear quarter. The wound was about 7" in diameter and about 2" deep. There was nothing to stitch together. (We're still not sure how he managed it).  I am not a vet tech nor am I really good around ouchies, but he needed tending and it's what one does when one lives on a farm- no matter what the size of the spread.

I was able to clean it out and get all the foreign material out of it- dirt, hair, whatever else a horse gets in a rear end wound- with warm water, paper towel, and persistence so that I could expose some raw edges. Healing has to start from the inside and not cover over dirt and yuck. <-- Life lesson #1 of this situation.

Thanks to the willingness of my good friend, Char, from LiveLifeLoveOils, she was able to hold his head and scratch him behind the ears at the north end while I worked on the south end. The deeper I got into this wound, the more I knew that this was going to be a beast to heal. <-- Um, yeah, we'll call that Life Lesson #2.  Great. I didn't want to stall him because I wanted him to walk on it and keep blood flowing and his joints from getting stiff. I needed to keep him healthy, which is tough with an older rescue horse in the easiest of times. Add to this the combination of record-breaking cold, dangerously low windchills, snow that kept coming, and this wound, and I knew I was in for a doozy of a battle.

We're not a big bunch of panickers around our house. We have been using essential oils for almost a year now and have never looked back. I love the doTerra brand due to the fact that they can be used internally, but there are a few oils that I will buy from other sources. One such oil is Lemongrass.  Knowing that it can speed healing and is a powerful pain reliever, I added it to a bottle of Herbal Solution sample that I had picked up from my local granary. The ingredients followed along our 'first try nature and God's offerings' mentality <-- #3: aloe, myrrh, comfrey, goldenseal, cayenne, and elder, in an isopropyl base, and decided this would be a good option to start with. After I got it all cleaned out, which took a very.long.time, I applied this mixture to him.

Pardon the quality of the iPhone pic.
It was so cold my hand was shaking.
Twice a day, I would head out there to do a wound check. It was so cold that the seepage from the wound was freezing before it could get out of the wound completely. So, I had to continuously pull off the frozen seepage. Multiple times a day. And apply the solution. Multiple times a day. And pray. It seemed as though he was getting worse for about the first week. I had to increase his feed, add in about 8 cups of rehydrated beet pulp, and about a cup of corn oil just to keep him going. His body was using so much energy to heal and keep warm that I was afraid that it wasn't going to be able to do both sufficiently.

After about 10 days, the healing started to occur. The seepage eased, his energy came back up, and the wound started showing signs of health. I wish I had a photo of him today, but he went to his forever home about 3 weeks ago.

I will have this Herbal Solution in my barn forever now. It's worth it's weight in gold. Or vet bills.





Monday, February 24, 2014

Chewy Granola Bars

Homemade, Chewy Granola Bars

 
Here is a recipe for the most popular granola bars in my house. It originally came from a dear friend of mine, but we've tweaked it to our tastes. It, hands down, beats anything you can get from a box...chocolate covered or not!

In a LARGE bowl, beat together:
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup butter (no substitutes)

Add:
½ t vanilla
1 egg

Blend in:
1 cup flour (I use whole wheat)
1 t cinnamon
½ t baking soda
¼ t salt

Mix in:
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts (Our favorite is pecans)
1 cup chocolate chips (House favorite is half milk chocolate and half white chocolate)
½ cup wheat germ
1 large handful of dried cranberries (dried cherries or dried blueberries taste great, too!)
I also added a sprinkle of wheat bran and ground flax seeds, but you could add ground chia seeds if you want

Feel free to mix up your add-ins- just keep your totals close to what the recipe calls for. If not, the bars get dry. You could add in golden raisins, dried apricots, apples, or peaches, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds…the possibilities are endless! As a family, we rarely ever finish a box of cereal before it starts to get stale. I keep it and add it into the mix. However much I add of cereal, I decrease the oats by that same amount.

Press into greased 9x13 pan. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 deg until golden and set. They'll be chewy on the inside and set on the outside. 

Cool, then cut. Store 'em if they last longer than 2 hours. 

On a side note, last week I had announced via this post that I have started making and selling soap. Last night as I was making my daily batch so I can get a good inventory going, my 14 year old son came up to me and said, "Mom, can I make a batch of soap with you?" My heart melted a little bit and we spent the next hour making soap, talking about life lessons, and generally enjoying each others company. If I never, ever sell one bar of soap, I will still have that memory to tuck into the corner of my heart.  


This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this post,
but it's one of my favorite photos I've ever taken.


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