Thursday, May 31, 2007

Updates from the Homestead


Well the countdown continues!!  My son will be on leave and arriving home on Saturday!  Everyone is so excited to see him.  The painting is coming along well and should be done very soon.  And we have been enjoying some beautiful days here in the PNW.


Yesterday the temps were in the upper 80’s!  I loved it..   but I know it won’t last as those are more like July temps than May!  But what a blessing to be able to enjoy them now!  The kids and I spent the afternoon down at the pond.  Jacob with his usual creativity made a raft..  he found scrap plywood and then got all the life jackets we own and tied them with rope onto the plywood and it worked! 


Dinner last night was rib eye steaks on the grill..  yum!  We have been very happy with the cow we bought the meat has tasted delicious!  The night before we did burgers on the grill..  yum on those too!


The girls came home last night! I actually ended up going to bed before they arrived, I had been up since 4:am and was just beat..  so I will see them this morning when they wake up.  I missed them and will be happy to have them back in the house again.


Today more painting is on the plans plus laundry and organizing.  I have some things to go through in my never ending quest to keep up on stuff around here. 


Dinner for tonight will be something really good that I will figure out here soon! LOL.. I need to sit down and work on a June menu.. oh and get a June menu calendar made and put up on my site!!  I almost forgot..  if you use my calendars..  I will try and get it done and posted today! 



Here are some pics I took yesterday of the pond and the kids having fun…


Here is a pic of our pond:



Here is Jacob’s raft



And here is Jacob on his raft!



Here is Sierra and Isaac on another little raft searching for newts in the water



Isaac swinging on the rope (and then jumping out into the pond after I got the shot):




Enjoy this last day of May!



Monday, May 28, 2007

Monday on the Homestead


Our big plans for this holiday??  Painting!!    And delivering goats.  Tobin and I started the day by taking 2 of our goats to a friend’s house.  I sold her two does and she did not have a way to pick them up.  When Tobin came home from work, we loaded them up and away we went.  I have now sold 6 goats and have 3 or 4 left to sell.  Then I will be down to 5… Yea!! 


We got home, I fed Tobin..  he took a nap and now is painting the upstairs stairs..  normally he said he would do it after the walls were done..  but with so much less traffic at home he decided to take advantage of this. 


Emily and Leanne are still house sitting and my boys went to a friends house to spend the night so that just left Sierra at home.  She packed up her things and brought them downstairs so that she would not have to go back to her room .. and Tobin started painting. 


While he was doing that, I made potato salad and Sierra made cookies.  Then when the cookies were done I put the chicken in the oven.  I have some salad leftover from last night so that will be dinner which we will be eating shortly..


My house seems so quiet with only one child!  I am not complaining however!  I like the break. 


Hope you all are enjoying your Memorial Day..

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dinner in an Hour (well pretty close) :)

Here was our dinner tonight:




Split Pea Soup with bacon

Tossed Green Salad w/blue cheese dressing

Buttermilk Biscuits



Sierra was my kitchen helper tonight.  She is 11 years old and quite handy in the kitchen.  It is nice to be able to serve a healthy, tasty meal to my family in a fairly short amount of time.  Granted I could have opened boxes and packages of food and maybe had dinner sooner, but I would have lost lots of quality and probably spent more $$ than I did.


Here is how we put this dinner together in an hour (it may have been an hour and 15 minutes)..


I started the split peas cooking and once they were boiling I cut up about 4 slices of bacon an ½ an onion and fried that till it was crispy.  I added this to the soup.  Then I had Sierra gather the salad veggies and begin making the salad.  While she was making the salad I made the salad dressing.  When that was done I started making the biscuits and she then cut up the cantaloupe.  While she was cleaning up her area and the counter tops I cut out the biscuits.  We both finished washing and drying the bigger dishes and the smaller things went in the dishwasher.


Ta Da!! We were done!


Amazing what team work can do!!


Here were my recipes:


Split Pea Soup

The basic ratio is 1 cup split peas to 4 cups water

1 t. salt for every cup of split peas


I used 3 cups organic split peas and 12 cups water and 3t salt.  Then added the chopped and cooked bacon and let this simmer and cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally.


Salad was made with the veggies I had on hand:


Romaine lettuce

Red cabbage





I made blue cheese dressing:


Blue Cheese Dressing

Crystal Miller


½ cup each: mayonnaise, sour cream, crumbled blue cheese

Mix this up and add:

1T white wine vinegar

1t minced garlic


Biscuits were a quick throw together..


I cut the following recipe in half as my older girls are not home and I did not want to mess with a lot of leftovers.  Half a recipe fills a 9x13 pan


These biscuits are very tender and flaky..  a few tricks if you have not had success with whole wheat biscuits are:


~ to not over knead the dough.. 

~make sure the butter is cold when you add it

~pat your dough, don’t roll it out

~leave the dough on thick side, thicker than if you were making white flour biscuits

~don’t twist your biscuit cutter when cutting them out

~if possible, use freshly ground wheat (you will need to add a little more flour than what the recipe calls for if you are using freshly ground flour)

~bake them close together, sides touching.. 


Buttermilk Biscuits for a Crowd (made with buttermilk powder)

Crystal Miller


6 cups whole wheat pastry flour

3T baking powder

2T Sucanat

2t baking soda

2t salt

9T buttermilk powder

1 cup butter

2 to 2 ¼ cups cold water


Mix together all dry ingredients.  Add water to and mix.  Turn dough out on floured counter and knead.  Divide dough in half and pat out.  Using a biscuit cutter or juice glass cut out biscuits and lay them in a large jelly roll size baking dish or two smaller size pans.  Repeat with other half of dough.  Bake at 450 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.


No dessert was made… none was really needed!  Everyone left the table full and happy   and I have enough food leftover to send with hubby tonight for work.  An added bonus to the meal was the fact that it was very economical to make! 


Good Morning!


Well the painting project has started..  well at least the prep for it.  Tobin had the boys working to wash walls and he is scraping layers of paint off the doors and has one door painted.  We tried a new color for the doors and really like it.  It is an off white/tan color.  We only bought a quart of it to see what we think.. Last night we both agreed it looked very warm and nice.  We have some wainscoting that goes up the stairs and a banister up stairs around the stair way.. all that (and the bedroom doors) will be painted this color and the rest will be white .. which is our standard color.  We both don’t really like a lot of color on the walls but after all our years of white we decided it was time for a little color.


Someone emailed me about paint..  you know I am not the paint expert in our home.  Tobin has always done all the painting up until a few years ago.  I painted our main floor hallway and then did the bathroom and then some of the bedrooms and enjoyed it quite a bit.  I was asked about what paint to use for fingerprints and such..  well I am probably not the person to ask..  Usually it is recommended to do semi-gloss..  but I don’t like shiny walls..  you may want to try satin. I use flat and tend to just repaint!


On brands of paint..  We have always used the brand Miller Paints and I think it may be a local brand, I am not sure.  I once tried Behr paint and found it to be much thinner than Miller Paint and did not like the way it covered..  We thought about using a brand called Parker Paint (again I do believe it is local) but found out it is made by Miller Paint.. so we are sticking with Miller (no relation by the way.. LOL…)


I have had a couple of very quiet days..  Emily and Leanne are house sitting and watching a 90+ year old lady.  I have mentioned Miss Margaret here before..  she is a nice lady but somewhat confused.  She is quite capable of caring for herself except for the forgetfulness..  so Emily is making sure she takes her meds, gets her one shot daily and helping with meals and such.  Sierra has been at a friend’s house since Friday afternoon and will be home later today.  So it has just been me and the boys..  I think they have enjoyed having mom to themselves!  Last night Isaac snuggled in bed with me and I read him a couple more chapters in Henry Huggins.. he laughs so much at Henry’s antics..  so do I.. even if I have read the book before! 


On Friday Emily and I spent 4 ½ hours cleaning floor finish off my kitchen floor.  It was a huge job!  Then yesterday I put on 5 more coats of floor finish.  Now it is looking so clean and nice.  We put commercial flooring on because we new with all the high traffic vinyl would not last..  but the floor requires more maintenance ..  Next time we redo the floor it will be Pergo! 


Hope you all have blessed Sunday!

Monday, May 21, 2007




Well here we are with another Monday ahead of us.  I have to get Emily to her GED class and that is my only outside obligation. 


However my inside work list is fairly long.  We have been working to clean out the upstairs (the kids all have their rooms upstairs) since back in January.  Not constantly mind you but just as we can.  Tobin said he wanted to have the kid’s paint the upstairs hallway, and Emily spent the weekend cleaning Hannah’s room and moving in to it. Plus we have family coming to stay with us…..  So between all these things we have the needed incentives to get this area worked on. 


Not to mention that Tobin is planning to remodel Sierra’s bedroom this summer and she is such a little pack rat!  So she has been going through her things and reducing and after she tells me she is done then I will go in and we will go through it all again!  LOL..  I know her..  she will contemplate something and it will have some meaning to her and she can’t get rid of it..  So I think I will giver her a small to medium size Rubbermaid type tote and tell her she can keep just that amount.  Then she will have to make some decisions. 


I did make soap on Saturday!  It was not a huge amount (15 lbs.) but I was happy to get that done.  I need to do more, so next weekend may be a soap weekend too.  I need to keep my little store all stocked up!


I have really slipped lately on the menu planning, but have been surviving quite well.  This last week the menu included.. Italian Pintos, Buffalo wings and lentil chili, bbq steaks, bean and bacon soup, enchiladas..  It has worked good to just open the freezer and see what I need to use up and plan a meal around it.  Today I think I will do something with some round steak.  I have really loved having the beef available to me (we recently purchased a whole cow for the freezer).  The meat tastes delicious!  I will also cook up a batch of brown rice to be able to use through the week and maybe some potato salad to have on hand.  I like to make extra food items and have them to eat on for a few days. 


Hope you all have a great day on your homesteads! 




I have been on an exercise kick lately.  Back in March I purchased a pilates dvd (this is the one I am using:  but I bought mine on ebay for less)..  I was not sure about them, but decided to give it a try..  well 2 months later all I can say is WOW!  These things are great!  I can really feel the improvement on my muscle tone in only a short time.  I totally recommend them to anyone wanting to tone up muscles. 



I also purchased a couple of Leslie Sansones walking dvd’s (again I got these on ebay).  I have the one, two and three mile walks.  I love these things.  Really besides getting a bit more fit one of the things I have really enjoyed about this is that my daughters Emily and Leanne have also joined me.  So now almost every day we enjoy our little mom/daughters exercise time.  We walk 2 or 3 miles and then do 30 minutes of pilates.  So far having some exercise buddies has really helped the boredom aspect that seems to happen with these types of things and given me added motivation! 



Friday, May 18, 2007

Checking In…


The weather here has been absolutely gorgeous!!  Lots of sunshine and the temps are warming up; just some lovely spring/summer days.  That has been quite inspiring lately.  Today however, is scheduled to rain..  at least the garden can appreciate this rain! 


The week is going well and we are slowly adjusting to Tobin’s new schedule.  He is loving the extra day off that the night shift provides (it is 4 – 10hr. shifts), and is getting so much done around the homestead. 


On Tuesday Tobin rototilled the garden again and we started planting.  We (the kids and I) planted tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and flowers.  Sierra and Isaac really wanted to plant flowers.  Leanne helped them weed an area by our green house and turn over the dirt, fertilize it and then they planted some seeds.  Soon we will be enjoying naturisms, wild flowers, carnations and sunflowers. 


I was hoping to get back to the garden yesterday..  but I had to go into our nearby little town twice; once to take the girls to their cleaning job and another time to take a meal to a new mom from our church.  By the time I got back home it was time to get some laundry going and do some housework.  The kids had finished school (except for Leanne who is doubling up on her math lessons to be able to finish soon) so each of them got a job to do.  Isaac vacuumed out one of our cars.  He did a great job!  Jacob cleaned up the freezer room and Emily cleaned out all the videos we had.  A huge amount went in the trash and a couple of bags were set aside to give away. Who could have known I could collect so many in the last 20 years!  I cleaned out the fridge.. I had way to many unidentified things in my fridge!  LOL..   now it is much better! 


On Thursday Emily took her GED tests for Science and Social Studies.  She passed quite well!   Now we have only one more test to take in another 2 weeks..  then we will be done!


Today I have soap making on my agenda. I am completely out of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey, which is one of my big sellers so I need to get focused on this today.


In other news..  We are all really looking forward to my son coming home for a visit.  He will be here next month for a couple of weeks.  Then he goes back to Ft. Bragg and will be heading off to Iraq in July (now they are saying he may not go until October, and then the deployment will be 15 months instead of 12 ). 


My brother in law is getting married next month also.  We are pretty excited for him and his new bride to be.  She is a wonderful lady and we are happy to add her to our family.  My sister in law may be here too with one of her daughters… and all the kids (and me and Tobin!!)  are very excited to be able to see Auntie Deb again, it has been awhile. I just gotta love family and the opportunity to be able to spend time with them; it is one of those precious blessings in our life.


With all this activity going on I will continue to be scarce around here but will try and get on to update when possible.  I still have some recipes to share soon!! 


I hope you all have a great weekend!! 


What Kind of Sundae Are You?


You Are a Hot Fudge Sundae
Classic, simple, and divine.
Why mess with perfection?


Emily insisted I stop here in my busy day  and take the Sundae test..  so here it is!!  

These little tests can be so fun.. 

I guess I could say I like things classic and simple..  and am not real into change..  so apparently I must be a boring sundae!  LOL... 

Monday, May 14, 2007

Last week on the Homestead


I figured it was time for a Monday update.  Today I had to appear for jury duty..  yuck..  fortunately for me, I was released.  Sooo..  I came and took care of kids and my home.  We have lived in this county for 11 years and I have been called 3 times and Tobin 2 times..  and they say it random! I don’t buy it..  I personally know people in my county that have never been called!  Someday I may feel like I can afford the time to participate in jury duty but for now.. it really does not work well, so I am thankful that I was able to come home.


I have been winging it this last week with out a menu.  Not usually my favorite thing to do.  However I have been working hard to make the right amount of food so as to not have too many leftovers and when I do have leftovers do my best to incorporate them in another meal.


For example, one night I made rice to go with some polish sausages.  Tonight I am making enchiladas.  Instead of using 2lbs of hamburger to make my enchiladas, I used 1 pound and added the leftover rice to the meat to fill up my tortillas.  It made good use of the leftovers and saved me money as well. It is actually a fun challenge to see how creative I can be with what I have.


Last week was very busy.  Emily is still taking GED classes 2x a week.  She will be testing again this week, on Thursday doing 2 more tests.  Then we are down to one last test in another 2 weeks and “ta-da” we are done!!   The finish line!   Then she can decide where to go from there.


I would not think that these classes would be that big of a deal, but it seems like it throws my week off.  I don’t normally have outside commitments so when I do, it is noticeable. 

Tuesday Tobin and I spent the day in town. It was very nice.  We did some shopping, ran some errands and he took me out to lunch, Mexican food, our favorite.  It is nice to just get away for the day kidless! 


The rest of my week was filled with just keeping my house running and food on the table and the laundry caught up on.  Plus the kids are finishing up their school books so I am spending time with them wrapping up the school year.  I am praying we are done by the end of this month!


On a side note (thinking ahead to the next school year), I am looking at purchasing a laser printer.  Anyone have one they really like and can tell me why they like it?  I have one in mind but before I purchase it, I was curious if anyone else is using them and if you were happy or not with the brand you have.  The cost on them (at least the black and white ones) has really come down in the last couple of  years. 


Sunday, Mothers Day, was really very nice.  I am one who is not real big on Mother’s Day..  too many years of my own mothers high expectations for the day causing me a lot stress! LOL..  so my kids know I am easy going.. if I hear from them all and get hugs from the ones at home, I feel blessed..  So it was so nice that Emily and Leanne made me a beautiful and special Mother’s Day dinner..   The menu was: pot roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, dinner rolls, and carrots.  With an absolutely delicious strawberry shortcake (I will try and share the recipe with you soon).. for now I will share the pictures…

And Dessert... 


My son Richard called me and my daughter Carolyn called me,  Hannah was here (that is another update..  Hannah decided it was time to stretch her wings a bit and has moved in with a friend from work.. so I am now down to 5 kids in the house .. woo hoo!! )…  In any case I either heard from or got to hug each of my kids yesterday, plus had a nice dinner..  I felt loved and pampered and it made me ever so thankful for my family.  I think family is so important and I am thankful for each of my children.


Hope you all have a great week on your homesteads.. I will try and get back to post some recipes this week!!


Monday, May 7, 2007

Last Week On the Homestead

It seems right now that I am dealing with many things.. and life is full.  I have not had a chance to blog much lately and this afternoon my sweet sister in law, Debbie called me and said..  hey sis.. is everything ok??    Haa..  ha.. I need to blog so that my family won’t be concerned!  LOL..    Thanks for the phone call Debbie..  it was just what I needed today!!


This last week had many events but the one that stands out the most was my sweet daughter Emily’s 17th birthday.  Wow, where do the years go!  Emily is one child we always give special thanks for..  she had strep throat at 6 weeks of age and whooping cough at 8 weeks..  it was not diagnosed correctly at first and we almost lost her..  so her birthday prayer always includes a special thanks for her being here today with us.   Emily is my creative child..  her creativity does not come out with paint or other art forms but in the kitchen!  She LOVES to cook and bake and create yummy things in the kitchen and frankly we all love it too!!     She also plays the piano just beautifully..  AND the part I love the most is she just pampers her mama like you would not believe!!   She makes me Starbucks copycat coffees..  gives me foot rubs and cooks dinner on many nights of the week..  she helps me direct and manage the younger kids and this year has done a huge amount to help Sierra through her math..  so I have to give my sweet Emily some special recognition on her day (even though I am a couple of days late here on the blog!!!)..


Happy Birthday Emily!!  I love you!!



Now for those who have asked for Emily’s coffee recipes ..  all I can say is I have asked her for them.. and she said she will get them organized and ready to be posted..  maybe it will be a future feature in one of my newsletters.. 


I sold one of my bucklings this last week too!  Yea!  I am working hard to reduce the number of goats I have.  I have 4 other goats listed right now and so hoping I sell them.  I also have 2 goats spoken for and I will deliver them in a couple of weeks to a friend of mine. 


Tobin’s brother Scott and his fiancé Karmay came to visit on Saturday. They took the kids hiking to a nearby spot (it is about 5 minutes from our home) and Emily took some pics.  Some are scenery and the last one is of Scott and Karmay (and some of my kids).  They will be getting married next month and we are sooo happy for them!!  We all really love Karmay and are so happy that she is going to be a part of our family.   


Tobin rototilled the garden today.. not sure how much of a garden I will be able to get in, but a few tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce and some green beans would be plenty.. I don’t have time or energy this year for a whole lot..


Today we enjoyed some beautiful sunshine and warm weather.  The kids even went swimming.  It was nice to finally feel and see some nicer weather here..  and to think.. I did not have travel hundreds of miles to get some sun and warmth! LOL..


We also picked up our cow last week..  it was a freezer ready cow!  We bought a whole cow from a local farmer.  We added up our total amount spent.. to the farmer and to the butcher and then when we brought our meat home we weighed it to see what we ended up paying.  The totals made us very happy.  We ended up paying $3.07 per pound.. and how nice to know that the cow I have in my freezer was not fed any melamine!!!   The cow completely filled my 15 cu ft freezer and I had one grocery bag full of roasts that I put in another freezer (I have 3 freezers)…  While at the butchers we also got a line on a woman who raises pigs locally..  Tobin liked that idea..  the price was pretty comparable to what we had spent to do it ourselves..  and no work!  I actually don’t mind raising pigs..  but if we can get good quality meat for nearly the same price, I don’t mind forgoing the pig raising experience this next year. 


Now it is Monday and I have a new week(end) ahead.  Tobin now has new days off and I am really struggling trying to find our new normal.. so is he.  The days work out well for him at work, so we are just trying to figure it all out here at home.  I always plan and work my weeks and weekends around Tobin’s schedule so that we can spend the time he is home together…  we both like it that way.  But his days off are all in the middle of the week now and I have things that I need to deal with so… it makes it hard to figure out how to work this.. as much of what I have to do can’t be done over the weekend while he is at work!   So we will just continue to work to find our new normal.. I am sure it will happen soon!


Before I leave, I just have to share an updated pic of my sweet little grandbaby, Caden..  he just looks so loveable and squeezably wonderfully..  don’t you think!   



Hope you all have a great week on your homesteads!! 


PS.. I almost forgot!!  My daughter Sierra now has her own blog: