Category Archives: On the Homestead

Fabulous Cranberry Sauce

One of my favorite staples in the holiday meals is cranberry sauce, but we all know just how processed and unhealthy the average canned jellied cranberry sauces are.

I have tried several recipes to replace the store-bought stuff with something healthier, but none of them had the sweet and sour cranberry taste.  To put it nicely, they were horrible.

This year was different!

Let me share with you the Jewish cranberry sauce recipe that won over our whole family at Thanksgiving!

What you need:

  • 12 oz chopped cranberries
  • 1 orange chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (we used raw, unprocessed sugar)
  • 1 tbl lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped celery

Here’s how you do it:

  • Chop the cranberries first, then mix them with the sugar and set that bowl to the side.
  • Finely chop and mix the rest of the ingredients together.
  • Combine the two bowls, mix thoroughly, and place in fridge to chill.

We used a hand chopper and it worked well, but I am going to try using the food processor next time to see how much finer we can get everything chopped up.

That’s it!  We made ours the night before to allow the flavors to mingle, and it was delicious.   It was even a huge hit with those of us who were pretty hard-core fans of the canned stuff.  *wink*

This is now the new cranberry sauce that has earned the privilege of being on our family table for all holiday meals and feasts in our home!

I hope you enjoy it!

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

Find me on:

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter

Natural Linens ~A Review and Giveaway~

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED!

Our family, like so many other families today, is always looking for ways to reduce our spending and give a little more wiggle room to our budget.  We also take great pride in producing less garbage than a family half our size, and I encourage our children to get creative and find new ways of further reducing our family’s garbage output.  (These are great lessons in stewardship for Mark and I and our children!)

When the wonderful family at Natural Linens contacted me, I saw this as a great opportunity to take another step in the direction of saving money, reducing waste, and I get to give a great organic product!

When looking over their store, I was intrigued by the thought of unpaper towels.  We go through a good bit of paper towels in this house, much to my aggravation.

Unpaper Towels

Being the retired cloth diaper pro that I am, the moment I opened up the lovely hand-wrapped package of unpaper towels I soaked them in a container of water for a few days.  (This greatly increases their absorbancy)

So, what did we use the unpaper towels to do?

  • They are awesome for cleaning glass and windows without leaving streaks or fuzz.
  • They worked beautifully when disinfecting the kitchen counters.
  • I was able to clean all of our doorknobs, door frames, and light switches with only one unpaper towel as opposed to 7 or 8 paper towels.
  • They make quick work of bathroom sinks and counters with only one unpaper towel for three bathrooms.

I love how thin, yet absorbent they are.  I much prefer them to wash cloths when cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen, and they are perfect southern napkins!

Next, I would love to make the switch to cloth coffee filters and tea bags!

Reusable Coffee Filters

Reusable Tea Bags

Now YOU get the chance to win a set of their fantastic unpaper towels!

You know me, I like to make entering giveaways and getting additional entries easy.

How do you enter?  Simple!

Pop over and visit Natural Linens Etsy store and choose a product they offer that you are not already using.  Post a comment below telling me what that product is.  That’s it!

Earning additional entries:

  • Subscribe to Natural Linens newsletter (post a comment telling me that you did)
  • Like Natural Linens on Facebook (post a comment telling me that you did)
  • Share this giveaway on Facebook (you can do this once per day ~leave a comment each time telling me that you did)
  • Tweet about this giveaway (you can do this once per day ~leave a link in a comment)
  • Like Yes, They Are All Mine on Facebook (leave a comment telling me you did)
  • Share this Giveaway on Pinterest (you can do this once per day ~leave a link in the comments)
  • Share Natural Linens (Etsy store or FB page) on Pinterest (leave a link in comments)
  • Follow Natural Linens on Twitter (leave a comment telling me you did)

This giveaway will end at Midnight (12:00 am) on Sunday December 8th.  One winner will  be chosen via Random.org.  The winner will be announced here on the blog and emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Any questions?

Thank you for joining in this giveaway and supporting a small family owned business.  Every time you share them with someone or make a purchase, you make a difference for their family!  Thank you!

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

Find me on:

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter

A Collar to Properly Represent

In honor of Samson’s upcoming 5 month birthday on the 8th, I found the perfect collar for our sweet puppy.

Hannah (10) scratching Samson’s favorite spot.

After growing out of everything under the 26″ collar size, we had to step it up a notch and find a collar that not only shows just who Samson is, but it would also  grow with him far longer than just a few inches and a couple of months.

My favorite feature?  The latch!  While expressing his inner superdog is great, I love just how strong and secure the latch.

See this look on his face.  This is the look of contentment knowing that everyone who sees his new collar will fully understand just how super he is!

There, now you have had your daily dose of cuteness.  Just stare into these sweet eyes if you need an extra dash of sweetness!  :)

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

Find me on:

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter

Fall Cleaning

There is a definite nip to the air when I head outside in the morning to feed and water the animals.  A very brisk reminder that cold temperatures on their way.

In the same manner that spring cleaning inside and out when the weather warms up is essential for getting our homes and homesteads “woken up”, fall cleaning helps us to get it all put to bed.

The shimmering leaves of fall. Sigh.

What does my fall cleaning list for outside look like?

Let’s start with the house:

  • clean off all cobwebs, stray wasp nests, and mud dobber nests that are around the eaves and porches
  • clean the windows and screens
  • WD-40 hinges and sliding doors
  • spray peppermint around the doors and windows to repel spiders and bugs who may want to use our house a haven from the cold
  • the potted plants will soon be brought in and the pots need to be cleaned up before their trip inside.
  • put away or finish all of the projects that are on the porches!
  • clean up the patio and the firepit- we will soon be snuggling around a fire and sipping on hot cider

In the gardens:

  • time to pull the few weeds that have sprouted up in the past couple of weeks
  • pull and chicken compost plants that are spent
  • as leaves fall, we will gather some of them and turn them into the garden soil
  • use more of the leaves to put a thick layer of mulch around fall growing plants, fruit trees, and perennials
  • clean and oil all gardening tools
  • put floating row cover ribs over garden area where we will be using it
  • clean out flower boxes and outdoor pots
  • disconnect and drain water hoses
  • put insulating covers on water spigots

Our head rooster what’s in charge.

Around the homestead

  • clean out and deep mulch the chicken house
  • clean out and re-hay the goat/ geese house
  • move old bedding and dig it into the gardens
  • give the brooder box a good cleaning and disinfecting in the sun
  • give the pond area a thorough weed whacking
  • clean off the fallen branches and leaves that are gathering on the chicken house roof and the top of the chicken run.
  • reorganize all of the tools we have been using through-out the warm weather
  • as the leaves fall and the woods clear out, we will gather fallen branches, cut up fallen trees, and give the wooded acres a good underbrush cleaning- almost bonfire time!

A few projects we have listed for this fall while the weather is gorgeous:

  • dismantle old playset and rebuild into a sturdier, nicer one
  • clear a few trees from the edge of the yard and open it up a bit
  • map out a bike/ hiking trail and start getting it cleaned up and clearly marked

Do we share a lot of items for fall cleaning?  What did I miss that is on your list?

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

Find me on:

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter

Menu Planning- Stepping up our game

If you are like me and look for every great idea to trim your grocery budget, then you have already discovered the awesome grocery budget fat buster of menu planning.

Menu planning alone has not only helped reduce our costs, but is has also reduced food waste and given us far better meal options.  When you know what is being prepared and you have all of the necessary ingredients, then it is not a crapshoot to try and pull a healthy, filling meal together.

Up until a few weeks ago, I was the menu planner.  I checked our pantry and freezer stock to create a menu for the week as well as a grocery list.

Then it it hit me.  I have THREE teenagers and at least 4 of our children can cook!  Why am I the only one making these decisions and getting everything lined up for the week?

Enter in operation FAMILY Meal Planning.

After a little powwow, we came up with a new strategy, not only for meal planning but also for meal preparation.

No longer is it a toss up as to who is going to cook, what they are going to prepare, and on what night will they be doing so.

Here’s how we do it.

Our oldest three, Renee (16), Noah (14), and Emily Grace (13), and the team of Hannah (10) and Dad each take a night to fully plan and prepare dinner for the family.  I take the three nights that they do not claim.

Each one of our chefs-in-training puts together all aspects of the meal and makes sure that we either have the ingredients or they are written on the grocery list.

When I head out to Costco with my list, I know that we will have exactly what need for the week’s breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners.

One of the great, yet unexpected, blessings of having our oldest children plan and prepare meals, they are getting inspired to try new dishes, new veggies, new spices, and new combinations.  Their creative juices are flowing!  {pun intended}

It does my momma heart good to see them researching new dinners to create.  Thank, you Pinterest!

Other blessings we noticed:

  • they are learning that planning ahead to ensure they have everything they need makes the job much easier and faster
  • they are widening their culinary scope and experimenting with new flavors
  • the new recipes are introducing new veggies and fruits
  • they are learning timing and time management to get all parts of the meal ready and on the table at the same time.
  • there has been finally come about a realization that they cannot “graze” in the pantry and fridge all of the time and still have what they need to prepare their meals.
  • bonus, this has worked so well, that they have also taken over lunches.

I love that my older kids will not be dependent on a microwave or takeout to eat in those beginning adult years that are in the very near future.  You never know, this may bring out a passion for cooking and a direction in life one of them never thought about.

Next, I need to get one of them interested in being a chocolatier.  *wink*

In your home, do the parents do all of the cooking?  Do you have teenagers who cook?  If not, now is a great time to start something new and get them interested in preparing fantastic meals and stretching themselves as chefs!

When you were a teenager, what were some of your favorite things to cook?

Mine, steak bites with onion and peppers.  Yum!

All for the glory of God,

~Rhen

Find me on:

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter

Linked with:

 

Around the Homestead

I enjoy the chores around our little homestead far too much to label them as “work”!  Feeding and watering the animals, watering and checking on the gardens, and walking our property to make sure that everything is in order is a perfect opportunity to talk with God and soak up His creation.

Some mornings I have a helper or two.

This morning Susannah (6) helped to put fresh hay in the nesting box and check for eggs.

Our chickens free-range during the day and are doing a great job of keeping the bugs down.  They are constantly scratching and pecking throughout the yard and woods.

Our youngest chickens are now beginning to lay eggs.  Can you spot the egg from one of the “new” girls?  *grin*

Unfortunately we had to move the geese up from the pond and into the goat yard.  They kept wandering off of our property and onto our neighbor’s porch where they kept making a mess.  Once we finish the fencing in the final side, they will get to move back to the pond.

All of the gardens are in bloom again.  With fall quickly approaching, everything seems to be trying to send off summer in style!

Just thought I would share my newest garden decorations.  A fantastic buy at Hobby Lobby for 80% off.  I spent only $4.50 for both of them.  Booyah!

While we feed most of the horned tomato worms to the chickens, we do allow the ones covered in wasp eggs to stay on the plants.  They don’t eat the plant and the wasps that hatch out hunt these kinds of pests.

Susannah is a huge help and distracts the goats with a little hay while I get their feed in their dish.  If they are anywhere near their feeding dish while I am trying to fill it, I can’t get to it and end up pouring the feed on their heads.  Silly goats!

Score one for the frugal homesteader in me.  I made this hay rack from left over fencing.   Mark’s Kleins and about fifteen minutes and the girls had a new rack to keep the hay clean and easily accessible for nibbling.

My next homestead projects:  clean out the chicken house and put down a fresh layer of hay,  build a double compost bin with pallets, and move the goose house up from the pond to the goat yard.

What’s happening around your home?  Any new outside projects?

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

Find me on:

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter

View From My Porch (Link Up)

It is time for this week’s View From My Porch link up!

As you meander through our yard, perusing the gardens, taking the time to notice all of my garden decor tucked in little nooks waiting to be discovered, or watching as the chickens scratch and peck the forest floor, you will feel eyes following you as you go.

Okay, it really isn’t creepy.  It more whimsical.  *grin*

I have enhanced the characters of different trees with faces!

I would like to introduce you to them.

Grandfather

Angelina

The Dentist

Teddy R.

You can spot each of these four characters from different vantage points on our porch.

I particularly enjoy watching as visiting children happen upon the trees and realize the faces are there.  It then becomes a game to find the others.

A great way of attaching faces like these without damaging the trees is through plant holders that are cemented on.  You can find them at your local gardening store.  They are used to train vines, but they work perfectly to attach decorations to trees without hammering anything in to them.

PS-  The sweeties  shared with you last week have flown the nest!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is a super simple link up that has a wide range of topics to write and share about.  The only guideline is that whatever you are writing about should be on, around, inspired by, or can be viewed from your porch.  It can be the beautiful people who use your porch to enter your home, your seasonal decorations, sunrises, the latest projects you are crafting on your porch,  inspiring views, or anything else that you want to bless us with!

So, what is the “view from your porch”?

Link up and share!

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…


All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

Find me on:

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter

View From My Porch (Link Up)

It is time for this week’s View From My Porch link up!

This is a super simple link up that has a wide range of topics to write and share about.  The only guideline is that whatever you are writing about should be on, around, inspired by, or can be viewed from your porch.  It can be the beautiful people who use your porch to enter your home, your seasonal decorations, sunrises, the latest projects you are crafting on your porch,  inspiring views, or anything else that you want to bless us with!

You can check out some of my previous View From My Porch posts HERE.

Now, on to my view this week.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Isn’t this a lovely little pot?  My plans were to fill it with beautiful annuals that will give a pop of bright color to the baker’s rack I have on one side of the porch.

Apparently, I took too long to use it because somebody else decided to move in!

This is the fourth bird’s nest we have found on our porch.

The first one was built but has not been used beyond that.

The second one was built and eggs were laid, but the eggs didn’t hatch and momma gave up on them.

The third one was built, eggs were laid, and hatched!  Sadly, just when the chicks were getting feathered something destroyed the nest and got to the babies.

We are hoping to see these little guys make it to adulthood and fly away.

There are four little ones in there.  Every time you peek in the nest, their little mouths pop open in anticipation of a fat worm or juicy bug.

My flower plans can wait a bit until these little birds are grown and have left the nest.

So, what is the “view from your porch”?

Link up and share!

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…


All for the glory of God,

~Rhen

Find me on:

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter

Feeling Like Home

When you move into a new house there are things you can do to make it feel like home.  Some of my favorites are:  hanging family pictures on the walls, organizing my closet, setting up the classroom (aka dining room) , and getting the kitchen up and running.

We don’t just set up a home; we set up a homestead.  That means that there are a few more I would like to include on my list:  building the chicken house, preparing and planting gardens, and fencing in the goat pens are some of them.  This weekend Mark and his helpers, the kids, finished putting up the one item that I consider  absolutely necessary to making a house a home and some land a homestead:  the clothesline!

Cleaning up the last bit of gravel and planting some grass seed will finish off the area the clothesline is in.

Hello significant savings on the power bill and lovely air-dried clothing!

Now, let me walk you around to a few other spots on our homestead that have helped to settle us in!

Let’s start with some of the gardens.  Seeing new squash appearing daily is fabulous!!  I can already taste the zucchini brownies.  Mmmm!

Squash Striata d’Italia from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

The tomato plants have really taken off over the past two weeks, and I am finding bunches of new blooms all promising juicy tomatoes!

I am ecstatic about our tomatoes and completely frustrated with the cucumbers. I have to replant cucumbers thanks to the squirrels!

My favorite morning chore is feeding the ducks and the chickens.  They know my voice and make quite a racket in anticipation of breakfast.

Ninja is on the left and Cheese is on the right.

Our beautiful boy, Ferdinand.

They are always curious to see if I brought them a treat.

My homesteading heart is happy to see sheets out drying in the sun, but here is much more work to do around our little homestead.

Up next on my list:  finish fencing in the goat pen.

Do you have a clothesline?

What are some of the things that helps make a new house feel like home to you?

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen

Find me on:

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter

For the Love of Strawberries

We are a family who loves fresh fruits and veggies, so when the opportunity came to pick strawberries, we loaded up the van and headed to the strawberry fields!

I thoroughly enjoyed our little adventure.   It was a great morning that rolled  science lessons, math lessons, a field trip, a buffet, and a fun time all in to one.

We divided the girls into teams of one Big, one Middle, and one Little with a basket and a goal.  The boys grabbed a basket and headed off with manly swagger to fill theirs faster than their sisters.    It is always a race.  Whatever it is, it is always a race!

They worked hard, but enjoyed every moment of it.  My job was to run the filled baskets up to the “office” and grab an empty one for them to fill.

In the picture above, you can see my boys (Israel -2, and Noah -14) roaming the fields eating and picking.   I am not sure if any of the strawberries that made it into Israel’s hands were ever put into the baskets.

The strawberries were so ripe, juicy, and sweet.

At the top of the fields stood an old shack whose front porch served as the “office”.  It fit perfectly with the couple who handed out baskets and took payment.

We took our bounty of eight overly full gallon baskets home to process.  The little trick of using a straw to core each berry worked beautifully.   Simply use a clean straw to poke through the berry from the bottom up towards the stem.  It will core it and pop the top off with ease.

We put all of the tops, cores, and trimmings to the side and fed them to the chickens.  They were delighted with their treat!  Oh, the happy squawking!

I dried 5 trays of strawberries in my dehydrator.  The chips will be used in our homemade energy bars.  They add nice crunch and flavor.

I cut up and froze a large portion of the strawberries to use in cobblers, smoothies, pies, and homemade ice cream this summer.

 I also attempted to oven dry strawberries as seen in this pin on Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/pin/102527328989401617/).   It did not work well at all.  The berries never dried as described and were far too moist to can in jars or bags.  Mold would have spoiled them quickly.  It is too bad it didn’t work.  If you try to oven dry them (not dehydrate them into chips), and it actually works, let me know what you did!    I am still intrigued by the idea.

With our strawberry harvest such a success, I am now looking toward our next fruit-filled adventure at the end of the month when we head out to pick peaches!

Do you enjoy getting out to the farms and being a part of the harvesting?

All for God’s glory,

~Rhen 

Find me on:

Facebook

Pinterest

Twitter