Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Off on a Picnic!


OK.. I am sooo excited as are my kids..  we are heading east and will meet up with Dalyn and Tara for a picnic.  I have known these lovely ladies for some time now and we have been planning this little get together since last year.  Each of us has been looking for a day that would work for us, and today is that day!


So my post will be short as we need to pack up our lunch, milk the goats, feed and water the critters and load up the van.


Dalyn and Tara..  if you read this..  I will be seeing you shortly!! 

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Good Morning!

I am up and enjoying my coffee this morning in my quiet house.  I am listening to some praise music this morning..  Chris Tomlin’s CD ‘Arriving’.  My girls are always loading up music on my computer and this CD is one of them.  I have also responded to a few emails and decided it was time to read a few blogs and do some posting.


Yesterday was not really a holiday for us.  It was business as usual.  My husband is an aircraft mechanic and works for a regional airline and wouldn’t you know it.. they still fly planes on the holidays and they still need mechanics around!    So I got laundry done and a little house work done and made another batch of sourdough bread.


I have a big day ahead of me.  I have to get the kids to singing practice with the homeschool group.  We have a local senior’s center and they do luncheons for the seniors in the community.  Our church will be serving the lunch next month and our homeschool group will be providing the entertainment.  So my daughter Hannah got several songs together and will be playing the guitar and leading the kiddos, Emily will play a piano piece, and 2 other talented kids from our group will play the piano and one will recite a poem.  But we still need to practice!  We have 20 minutes to fill.


Hannah and Jacob will then go our rental to mow the grass and do some yard work.  I am praying we get it rented this week! 


Emily, Sierra and I will be baking today.  I have cookies to make and a few other goodies to make and get in the freezer.


The best part of my day is that there is SUN out!!  I have a problem with one gray day after another..  I think when Tobin retires we need to move east a bit and get some more sunshine! 


Sunday, May 28, 2006

My daughters started a blog...

My 3 daughters Hannah, Emily and Leanne started their own blog here on the Homestead Blogger..  It is Homesteading Sisters blog.  Please stop by and say Hi!!   

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Saturday on the Homestead


We have had a wonderful day off!!  My hard working hubby seems to always have something to keep him busy.  Neither of us could remember the last day he had that had no plans of things to accomplish for him.  Today was that kind of a day.  So it has been very mellow and very enjoyable today! 


The rain and gray skies are still here, but the weather report is promising us better days.  Tomorrow things start changing to sunny skies.


My daughters and I have nursery duty in church tomorrow.  My girls always enjoy doing that with me.  Can’t have too many arms to hold babies!


For dinner tonight we are taking our favorite macaroni and cheese recipe and adding leftover ham from last nights dinner to it to make a casserole.  Leanne is making coleslaw to go with it. 


That sums up our slow paced mellow day here on the homestead!!


Here is our favorite mac and cheese recipe.  It comes from my good friend Laurie …   Her recipe has become famous here at our home!!   Laurie, along with being my good friend is also one of my moderators on my message board…  Thanks again Laurie for a great recipe!!


Laurie’s Macaroni and Cheese


2 TB cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
2 1/2 cups milk
2 TB butter
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1- 8 oz pkg cream cheese
2-3 cups cooked and drained elbow noodles
Bread crumbs, enough to cover


1. In medium saucepan, combine first 4 ingredients, stir in milk. Add butter. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium high heat and boil 1 minute.

2. Remove from heat. Stir in both cheeses, a bit at a time to incorporate and melt cheeses. Add elbows. Pour into greased 2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with bread crumbs.

3. Bake uncovered in 375* oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.


(This also freezes very well. I put it in the throwaway pans...pull it out, bake at 375* for an hour or so, uncovered)



Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Feast



What was your first job?   I worked at a day care center..  began in me a desire to never put my future children in one!



Name some of the things you collect.  I don’t really collect anything unless you count goats! 



Name a recent fad that you just don't 'get'.  Walking around with your flabby belly showing over the top of  your pants and your shirt too short to cover it??  That is like what???.. Cute? Sexy?... Adorable?... hmm…  still not getting it..


Main Course

Describe the worst weather situation you have ever been in.   I live in the Pacific Northwest.. we don’t get 'worst weather' here.. it is pretty mild.  But one winter being snowed in and having the one main highway in and out of our place closed down was a little on the disconcerting side for me …



Which shoe do you put on first?  the right shoe



Homestead Kitchen: Chocolate Cream Pie


Yum!!  This is one of my favorite pies.  And with the fresh milk and eggs that we have right now it was an easy choice for last nights dessert.


Emily, my daughter who loves to bake made this for us.  I did not get a picture of it until this morning, so the meringue was not as high as it was last night. Cream pies just look better the day they are made! 


This recipe will make 2 pies, feel free to cut it in half if that is too much for your family.


2 baked 9-inch pie crusts (recipe follows)

4 c whole milk

1 c cane juice crystal’s

¼ c ww pastry flour

¼ c cornstarch

1 t salt

5 T cocoa powder

4 eggs, separated

2 T butter

2 t vanilla


Scald 3 cups milk over medium heat.  You can use a double boiler for this to make sure you don’t scorch your milk, or just watch it very carefully!  In a separate bowl combine cane juice crystal’s, flour, cornstarch, salt and cocoa powder.  Stir in the rest of the milk and the egg yolks. Use a wire whisk to stir this.  Slowly add this to the hot milk and stir with a wire whisk until it is well combined.  Cook and stir constantly as you bring this mixture to a boil and continue to cook and stir until it is nice and thick. 


Take the pan off the stove and add the vanilla and butter.  Allow the mix to cool slightly and the pour into the baked pie crusts.


Cover the top with a meringue (recipe follows) and bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes watching carefully.



4 egg whites

½ t cream of tartar

4 T cane juice crystals

1 t cornstarch

1 t vanilla


In a clean metal bowl add egg whites and cream of tartar.  Beat with mixer until soft peeks form.  In a small bowl combine sugar and cornstarch.  Sprinkle this on the egg whites as you continue to beat the mixture.  Add the vanilla and beat until very stiff. 


Spread over 2 pies and bake according to the recipe above.



Oil Pie Crust

Crystal Miller


Makes 2 - 9 inch crusts


2 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour, a little more if freshly ground

1 t salt

½ cup light olive oil

½ cup milk


Mix the flour and salt together.   Pour oil and milk into one small bowl, don’t stir.  Add the oil/milk mixture all at once to the flour.  Stir until mixed and shape into 2 balls.  Set in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or more.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface. 


For a pre baked pie crust: Bake at 425 for 12 to 15 minutes.  Let cool before filling.

Homestead Kitchen: Crockpot Granola


I admit that this granola is not any where near as good as my regular standard recipe.  But I have to say that what I did like about it was it was easy to make and in fact so easy that I told my 10 and 12 year olds that they could make this themselves.  My youngest 3 (ages 12, 10 and 8) are the main granola fans.  So I thought that it would be nice for them to have an easy to put together recipe so they can take part in their favorite breakfast meal.


5 c oats

½ c honey

¼ c coconut oil

Goodies.. raisins, coconut, nuts, dried fruits, etc…


Put oats in a large bowl.  in a small saucepan heat coconut oil until it melts and add honey just to warm it up.  This makes the honey easier to pour.   Pour this over the oats and using your clean hands mix it all up well.  You can use a spoon, but I find it really works better with your hands. 


Put this mixture into your crockpot.  Turn on low.  Leave the lid of the crockpot slightly ajar to allow steam to escape.  Cook for 3 hours stirring occasionally. 


When the granola is done, put in a bowl and add as little or as much of your choice of goodies.  Allow it to cool and then store in a container of some sort or a zip type bag. 

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thursday on the Homestead


Well today is starting out slow.  I have answered lots of email. I get a lot of letters from ladies and usually if the answer only requires one or two sentences then I respond quickly.  If the answer requires more, then it may sit in my inbox until I have a chance to get to it.  This morning was my chance.  So hopefully if you wrote me a letter, you now have an answer waiting for you.  If you don’t, then send your letter in again.. it could have been missed by me or ended up being blocked by my sometimes over zealous spam blocker! 


Tobin is off today and sadly will not have the holiday off.  And he is still working on our rental! Lots of details to take care of.  We had never really done an official turn over in this rental.  The man that lived there previousl had been there for 11 years.  So it was very dirty and things were worn out.  After this it should not be such a job.  The ad for it will go into the paper this next week (local paper comes out weekly) and hopefully we will get it rented very soon.


This morning, after I finish up with some daily chores I am going to go and make another batch of fermented salsa and some sauerkraut.  I made up both of these items 2 weeks ago and we are almost out.  Yesterday was the big grocery shopping day and I bought fresh veggies to do these recipes again.  I am using Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions for the recipes. 


I also need to start a new batch of buttermilk.  Someone asked me if I left my soaked grains on the counter or put them in the fridge.  I leave them on the counter overnight as they soak. 


The laundry is on the list too..  it is Leanne’s laundry day today.  My children each have their own laundry day and are responsible to care for their own laundry, which includes their own bath towel and sheets.  This makes laundry so much more organized and I highly recommend this method to any mom still doing all the laundry for the entire household all mixed together.  That seems like an overwhelming job to me!  Of course your children have to be old enough to do it on their own.  Mine start at about 8 years old.  I usually help them and teach them at the same time how to do it.  By 10 they are pretty much on their own. 


Dinner tonight is homemade chili, tortilla chips and homemade salsa, and maybe a carrot cake made with honey.  We have not had a dessert in awhile.


Yesterday was my 2 week grocery shop.  With the price of gas I am only going to town once every 2 weeks.  I filled up my big van yesterday, which still had about a ¼ tank of gas, maybe less, and it came to $75.. choke and sputter…  that is why I am staying home as much as possible and loving all the good things I can get done for my family by staying right here! 


My grocery store trip included stopping at two stores (Costco and Winco) and Walmart to pick up a few non-food things.  With driving time to the city and back it took me 6 hours.  I am reminded of the verse from Proverbs:  “She brings her food from afar”..   


That sums up my Thursday on the homestead!

What is wrong with Splenda?

What is wrong with Splenda?  Well to begin with it is an artificial sugar.  It is made by chlorinating sugar.  This process chemically changes the structure of sugar on a molecular level. 


The reading I have done on it shows that there have been very few studies done on its safety for people.  There have been no long term studies done to determine if there could eventually be health problems.  No studies have been done on its safety for pregnant women or children.


There have been some studies done on rats and there are numerous problems for the rats (enlarged liver and kidneys, decreased red blood cell count, aborted pregnancies, diarrhea, to name a few that I read). 


The makers of Splenda say it is not metabolized into our bodies but some studies show that about 25% of it is.  They have no idea at this point what affect that could have on humans.


If you would like some further and more indepth reading:  



Liquid and Dry Measure Equivalents

I thought this might be helpful to some..


Liquid and Dry Measure Equivalents

a pinch = less than 1/8 teaspoon (dry)

a dash = a few drops

3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon = 1/2 ounce

2 tablespoons = 1 ounce (liquid)

4 tablespoons = 2 ounces (liquid) = 1/4 cup

5 1/3 tablespoons = 1/3 cup

8 tablespoons = 4 ounces = 1/2 cup = 1/4 pound

16 tablespoons = 8 ounces = 1 cup = 1/2 pound

32 tablespoons = 16 ounces = 2 cups = 1 pound

64 tablespoons = 32 ounces = 1 quart = 2 pounds

1 cup = 8 ounces (liquid) = 1/2 pint

2 cups = 16 ounces (liquid) = 1 pint

4 cups = 32 ounces (liquid) = 2 pints = 1 quart

16 cups = 128 ounces (liquid) = 4 quarts = 1 gallon

1 quart = 2 pints (dry)

4 quarts = 1 gallon (liquid)



I got this info (and used it with permission from them):   Lots of good info on that site.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Making Homemade Lotions

I have had a few people ask me for recipes for making homemade lotions (after mentioning that I made some the other day).  Some have asked for simple recipes.  I have been making lotion for awhile now and I am not sure there is really a simple recipe to share with you, at least simple for the types of lotions that I make.


I have seen some very simple recipes on the internet (put in a google search for Homemade Lotions).   Many of these recipes are simple and the resulting lotion needs to be used up quickly or stored in the fridge due to either the fresh ingredients used in them or the lack of any perservative. 


These types of recipes are simple to mix up in your kitchen and have fun using. 


If you want more of a lotion in the sense of what you are use to buying at the store (only much better.. in my own opinion anyway!! ) then you can read and proceed with the following recipe.


Lotion making is a matter of combining oils and water with an emulsifier, adding a thickener and a few misc. ingredients, then adding optional ingredients to enhance the lotion.


Lotion ingredients MUST be weighed out, not measured.  So you will need a scale that reads in grams.


You will also need a thermometer. 


You usually need some type of emulsifier.  I have used beeswax in the past but did not like the feel it gave the lotion.  I most commonly use emulsifying wax (e-wax). 


You also need something to thicken the lotion otherwise it will be as thin as water and oil.  Stearic Acid is used for this most often.


If you want your lotion to be shelf stable you will need to add a preservative. 


Finally you can add a fragrance oil or essential oil to make it smell good.


I have a few other things added like shea butter and liquid silk just to give the lotion an extra nice feel. 


Crystal’s Lotion Recipe


1.2 grams citric acid

15 grams liquid glycerin

15 grams stearic acid

25 grams ewax

90 grams sunflower oil

10 grams shea butter

330 grams water

5 grams germaben II

5 grams liquid silk (optional)

Scent oil to scent (let  your nose be your guide! J )


Makes 16oz of lotion


In a small sauce pan combine citric acid, liquid glycerin, stearic acid, e-wax sunflower oil, shea butter and water.  Heat all this until the e-wax has melted.  Remove from heat and stir.  If you have a hand blender it is helpful to use it right now to combine all the ingredients.  I find if I use the hand blender to long it creates a lot of frothy bubbles that don’t go away easily.  So I stop using it as soon as my mixture looks milky.  If stirring by hand, keep stirring until it looks milky.


Let the lotion mixture cool down until it reaches 110*, stirring occasionally. 


At that point add the germaben II, liquid silk and fragrance oil.  Stir well. 


Pour lotion into clean bottles or containers and let it cool completely…  then enjoy! 




Now.. where to buy these ingredients?  Aside from Ebay you can try these online resources:  (this link also has lots of info and supplies as well)


What Is Special About Goat Milk Soaps?


Milk for centuries has been known for its skin softening properties.  According to history Cleopatra enjoyed milk baths as part of her beauty practices.  


 I have found that washing with soaps made with goat’s milk leaves my skin feeling soft and smooth. 


 Milk is high in protein, vitamins and many minerals.  These qualities are wonderful on the skin!  I have a couple of children with sensitive skin and since using my homemade goat milk soap their skin has not broken out in rashes,that I suspect, were caused by the harshness of commercial soaps (which are actually not soaps but detergents).


 Goat milk, with its high butterfat content, gives soap a unique skin softening and soothing property.


 These wonderful qualities give soap a rich and luxurious feel that can be quite healing on the skin (this has been our experience with it).


If you are interested in trying out some homemade goat milk soap click here: 



My goat milk soaps are made from various oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, and more (I am always working to improve my recipes and not all goat milk bars have the same oils used in them, however all soap bars are made with good quality vegetable oils for the best results)


All bars are free of added coloring. Any variation in coloring comes from the fragrance and/or essential oils that I use to scent the bars with.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Saturday on the Homestead


Well it is a gray drizzly morning out..  I keep saying to myself, “I am not going to let this get to me, I am not going to let this get to me, I am not going to let this get to me”.  Not sure it is working!!  LOL..  I have loved the sun and will now have to wait very patiently for its return.  The weather forecast predicts the next 5 days to gray and rain. 


So for today I have some soap making on my list of projects to tackle.  I have bookkeeping to catch up on and I have laundry to do and a laundry room to straighten up.  I will be assigning some of my children to help with these tasks.  I also need the kids to go outside and pick up their now wet toys and the wet swim suits that were hung over the deck to ‘dry’.   


Emily is making some buttermilk pancakes this morning.  We soaked our flour in buttermilk last night.  talk about yummy tasting pancakes!!  I have started doing this reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.  And I have been so happy with the results not just in taste but I believe health wise this is important. 


I also have 4 loaves of bread to make today.  I made 3 loaves of sourdough yesterday.  I am still keeping up with feeding my sourdough daily and weekly making 3 loaves of bread.  Today’s bread is also from Sally Fallon’s book and I soaked my bread and some butter in buttermilk all last night.  That should, hopefully, take care of the bread needs for the week.


I am currently research and looking for a recipe for sprouted wheat tortillas. If anyone reading this has a recipe for this they could share or can direct me to a recipe that would be great! 


Yesterday my daughters and I made lotion.  I love making lotion and I started the day with thoughts of making some to replenish my little store, however between all the special requests from my girls and a friend.. I ended up with none for my store!  That is ok.. another lotion making day will come.  In the meantime we are enjoying more fuzzy navel (scented stronger for me and a friend who just love this stuff!) and vanilla raspberry was Hannah’s choice and sweet pea scented was Emily and Leanne’s choice.  I will say that an afternoon of all those scent oils going on in my kitchen, I had a bit of a headache!  Too much of a good thing is just not always good!   I was also testing out the addition of a few new ingredients to my lotions so when I do have them for sale I will be excited to offer them.  I added shea butter and liquid silk to the lotion and talk about leaving our skin soft and wonderful feeling.. 


Anyway, enough lotion talk..   The kids are going to make ice cream today:  Maple Vanilla..  which is vanilla ice cream sweetened with maple syrup (the real stuff).    This will be nice and healthy stuff..  made with our own raw goats milk, fresh free range chicken eggs, maple syrup and that is it! 


Well the pancakes are ready and it is time for a late breakfast..  it has been a lazy slow morning here on the homestead!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday on the Homestead


I have been pretty busy lately and not doing a great job in keeping up with 2 blogs so until further notice the blogs will be in simulcast..  I will post the same thing on both of them. 


Today has been a busy day.  I made some yogurt and more buttermilk.  I still need to go and feed my sourdough starter. 


I helped Jacob pack for his big fishing weekend.  He is going with a friend and his friends dad (our pastor) to our church’s Men’s Fly Fishing Round-Up.  He has never fished before so this will be a new experience for him.  He is excited…...  has all his clothes washed and packed and the sleeping bag ready to go.  I put the list of supplies in his back pack and told him to make sure he looks at the list before he leaves and checks to see he has everything.


I cut my soap that I made last week.  Three different types of soap were made and now are cut and will be curing for a few weeks.


I took last nights roasted chicken (or I should say what was left of it!) and put it in a pot and covered it with water and it has been simmering all day.. I will strain it soon for either some soup tonight or freeze the broth for later use. 


I need to get back in my kitchen and it get it in shape again..  that is the way it goes in my kitchen.. mess it up, clean it up, mess it up, clean it up, mess it up, clean it up…    But that is ok..  I like preparing good food for my family.  It is a blessing to be able to do this for them.  Plus I do have 4 H.I.T. (Homemakers In Training) to help me out.. 


So now it is time for me to go work on dinner..  I think it will be stuffed cabbage leaves.  I have never made this recipe so that is always fun.  I may make the soup too as I am not sure how thrilled everyone will be with my menu choice for tonight!  Plus I will steam up some broccoli for our meal as well.  I have not made dessert in a long time..  I am really trying to cut back on the sweet consumption for my kids…  some are handling this better than others!! 


When Tobin is home (he is working on our rental today to try and take care of all the last details so we can rent it) then we will do a bit of swimming perhaps in the pond to cool off.


That sums up my Thursday on the Homestead!! 

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

You Can Help to Stop NAIS—But you must act today!

This came in an email sent to me by my mother-in-law…  Please speak up today!!  This is a vital issue to all homesteaders!


If you would like more information on NAIS and the harm it will do to small time farmers (just like many here on the homesteadblogger) click here:


Here is the Action Alert:


The agriculture appropriations bill (HR 5384) is expected to be on the House floor Wednesday, May 17 for debate and final vote.


 Congressman Ron Paul has introduced an amendment to block all funding for the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) at both the federal and state levels.


This may be our best opportunity to stop the NAIS.


Please help by doing all you can. Here are some suggestions:


 1. Call YOUR Congressman. Capitol Switchboard: (202) 225-3121.


 (If you don't know who to call, click here:   - and enter your zip code in the box. Your officials, contact info will be provided.)


2. Ask him/her to vote FOR the Paul amendment to the 2007 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.  This amendment will block funding for the NAIS.


BECAUSE: (choose a couple of reasons you think most appropriate, or use your own)


a. The program has had no Congressional hearings or debate, nor has there been sufficient input in the rule-making process.


b. The program, as now designed, will be too costly and burdensome for farmers and ranchers.


c. The program invades the privacy of every American who owns even one livestock animal, whether a horse, pet pot-bellied pig, or chicken.


d. NAIS will not protect us against disease or bioterrorism because

(i) it does not address the causes of disease;

(ii) it does not address how diseases are transmitted;

(iii) we already have sufficient means of tracking diseases and

quarantining; and

(iv) the recommended technology can be easily reprogrammed, so that it is ineffective against intentional (or even many unintentional) introductions of disease.


e. NAIS will expand the government bureaucracy, at the cost of

 individuals, rights and the free market.


f.  NAIS will raise the cost of food, while not providing any

 additional food safety.


3. Forward this alert to all your mail lists.


 4. Visit  and sign the "Support Pledge" for

yourself and/or your organization to help demonstrate the growing number of people who oppose the NAIS.


We can beat this, if we all work together!



 281 Dean Ridge Lane

 Gainesboro, TN 38562-5039

 phone: 931-268-0655


Ten on Tuesday

Name Ten Things You Are Planning on Doing This Summer.


Here is my list:


1. Visit the local farmers market regularly to make up for not having a garden

2. Ferment, can and freeze the food I get from the farmers markets

3. Enjoy many, many days down at the pond with my kids, just soaking up the sun and swimming

4. Make lots of soap

5. Make ice cream often with the kids… 

6. BBQ regularly

7. Read a few (yet to be selected) books to my kids

8. Enjoy lots of campfires down at our pond

9. Plan our big 4th of July party with friends and enjoy another memorable evening with lots of fireworks, hotdogs, hamburgers and lots and lots of kids!! 

10. Go somewhere fun with my hubby to enjoy our 22nd wedding anniversary!