Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday on the Homestead


Well the weather is just beautiful here in the PNW! We have had several days full of sunshine and heat and I just love every minute of it. I think summer has finally come to our little corner of the world.  


For the last few days I have been cooking with my crockpot.. or should I say crockpots.. I have 2 of them a big 6qt and 2 or 3 qt..  I think that is the size. It is an old one that use to be my moms many years ago, but it works like a trooper. I love being able to put both of them to use for a meal. One day I put a beanless chili in the big crockpot and cooked pinto beans in the small one. When the beans were done cooking I drained the liquid and added a little more salt and some butter and smashed them up right in the crockpot to make refried beans (not that they were fried at Sierra made a salad and the combo was delicious. Another favorite combo is meatballs in the big crockpot and mac and cheese in the small one and serve with a fresh green salad.   I have been taking the crockpots out to my husbands shop to plug in and cook for the day to keep the house from getting hot. It has worked great! I make the meal while it is still nice and cool and then enjoy the day working around my home and the afternoon swimming and sunning with the kids..  dinner is ready to go when the family is hungry. 


Updates from my daughter Leanne. She is now on week 2 of her two week boot camp. We have gotten one post card from her and the phone call she gave me when she arrived in Orlando and today I got a letter from her. Sounds like Boot Camp is rigorous and full of lots of hard work. She is a hard worker and I am sure she is handling that just fine but I think she is feeling home sick. They have them up at 5:30am and doing KP to prepare for breakfast and then the days are long and hot and sweaty and very busy.  The Teen Missions website has been giving updates and posting pictures of the kids and what they are doing. We have been checking in to see what is going on. Emily was so excited today to find a picture of Leanne!! She was swinging across some water with a rope.. Leanne is very strong and from the time she was a little girl she would grab onto the rope swing that is out over our pond and swing and climb that rope, she loved doing that.. So we all had to smile to see this picture of her:



If you want to see more pictures of the 2008 Boot Camp at Teen Missions you can see that here


This last week my daughter Carolyn and her hubby Jonathan and my grandbaby Caden came to town for a visit.  They are still here. I have seen them a couple of times and over the weekend they headed to the Oregon coast with Jonathans family. This week we plan to get together again. The highlight of the visits so far was when my little grandson Caden called me “grandma”.. just melted my grandma heart..    Another highlight was going out shopping with all my girls, except for Leanne of course, and she was very missed by all of us!  But it was a fun afternoon and it was cute to get a couple of baby belly pictures of Carolyn and Hannah my two mommies to be. Here is a pic of all of my girls:



Tobin and the boys have been working like crazy around the property. They have been trimming trees, mowing, clearing out weeds and I have to say the front of our property is looking like a park! And the great side benefit from this work is that we have about 1/3 of our winter wood already. Jacob has done a lot of cutting and Isaac has been helping with the stacking and clean up. Tobin split all the wood that needed to be split and it is all stacked neatly in the bins… we all smile at it as we walk by.. knowing how important that wood is to our winter time comfort (even in the midst of summer heat ).    Here is a pic of our pond and some of the surroundig area..


Tomorrow Tobin and I celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary!   We are going to go out to dinner tonight to celebrate. I have to say that the more years that go by the better marriage gets and the more in love and committed I am to my man.  Maybe I need to follow the lead of my friend Laurie and mod of my board and very loved friend of mine )… she takes the number of years married and lists that many things she loves about her hubby.. if I have time I may do that and post it tomorrow!  


That is all for today. I need to get some laundry going and get think about getting ready for my evening out with my hubby..  


Have a great Monday on your homestead! 


Friday, June 27, 2008

New Soap and Lotion Scents for Summer!



I have two new goat milk soap scents for the summer season at Crystals Country Store.




And four new lotion scents!





Plus for a limited time you can save 10% when you buy selected soap and lotion combinations. 


Click HERE for more information.

Making Healthy and Quick Lasagna


I am a big advocate of cooking from scratch and keeping it frugal and healthy..  but every now and again I need something quick to put together that does not sacrifice health. I know I will spend a bit more to make it healthy but I also know I am spending much less than if I was to buy take out food for my family and with that added expense there would be no health advantages.  

This is one meal I make that is quick to put together and I have used the healthiest ingredients I could find. 

Here are the basic ingredients:

Healthy & Quick Lasagna

1 lb hamburger
1 onion, chopped
1jar (25oz approx) organic pasta sauce such as the brand Muir Glen
1 container (16oz) organic cultured cottage cheese
8 whole wheat lasagna noodles
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Here is how it is made

Begin by gathering together your ingredients


Put a frying pan on the stove to heat up. 


While it is getting hot, chop up your onion


Cook hamburger and onion until hamburger is no longer pink and onion is soft


Add pasta sauce and mix well


You will need a 13x9 pan to make this in.  Spray the pan with non-stick spray


Lay 4 uncooked noodles in the bottom of the pan


Spoon half the hamburger/pasta sauce mix over the noodles


Spoon half the cottage cheese over the hamburger/pasta sauce mix


Now cover with half the cheese


Start the process all over again beginning with the uncooked lasagna noodles and using up the rest of the ingredients and ending with the shredded mozzarella.


After you have covered the top with the last of the cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese you will need to cover it with foil.  If you want to prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil as it cooks and melts then spray your foil with non-stick spray first and then cover the lasagna.


Cook at 350 for about 1 hour.  Pull it out and stab it with a fork to make sure the noodles are soft.  If you need to cook it longer you can put it back in for another 15 minutes.  When the lasagna is done allow to cool for 20 to 30 minutes so it will firm up and be easier to serve.  Then enjoy!! 




Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday on the Homestead


Well this last week has been crazy busy.  We were working on all the last minute details to get Leanne ready to leave for Orlando (Teen Missions), CAT testing for the kids and Tobin was working like crazy around the property.  

However..  yesterday Leanne left for her 2 month missions trip to Egypt!  She will spend 2 weeks in FL at Boot Camp then 4 weeks in Egypt at the Lillian Thrasher Orphanage and then 2 weeks in Switzerland for debrief.  She was nervous, scared, excited..  all in one!  Her plane left last night at 10:00 and Tobin took her to the airport to see her off (and then he had to head to work which is one reason we did not all go.. and the fact that everyone else would only be able to go as far as security with her anyway..  Tobin could go all the way to the gate with her since he works for the airline).  They saw 3 other Teen Mission kids there (you can spot them by their boots..  they arrive in work boots and jeans ).  She called me this morning to let me know she had made it safe and sound and was currently with Teen Missions at the airport waiting for the baggage.  There ended up being 6 other kids on her flight.  I am sure this will be an awesome and amazing experience for her! BUT we are already missing her terribly!  Especially Emily..  Emily and Leanne are VERY close sisters and that separation may be a harder part of this trip (for both of them) than anything else   Emily took a picture of me, Leanne and Tobin before she left for the airport…


Today has seemed like a relief from all the planning, paperwork, fund raising, packing, shopping, etc…  that has gone into this trip.  I had a totally new focus today..  I made nearly 100 bottles of lotion (some new scents that I will get up on the site tomorrow along with a couple new soap scents for summer), directed the kids to clean up the basement and house and Jacob and Isaac worked on outdoor projects.  It felt almost normal again! LOL..   

I feel like I can now focus on summer, menus, housekeeping, summer routines and maybe a garden.. not sure if that will happen.  We have had so much rain that it made it almost impossible to get a garden in and then when the weather was cooperating I was so busy I could not get to it. I may see if I can still buy any plants and go from there.  If I can’t then I guess I will be visiting the farmers market this year for fresh veggies.  

Emily also took another CLEP test last week (History II) and passed with flying colors again!!  She now has some time off and has been spending all her time today studying (and plans to spend the next several days doing the same thing) for the next test (American Government) which she hopes to take sometime next week.  She is on track and doing great.   

Well I need to go and put my feet up….among everything else that has gone on I sprained my ankle last week.. just what I needed.. LOL..  luckily it is not a bad sprain and is healing well.. except in the evening it starts aching..  I need go and elevate it right now.   

Hope you all have a blessed Sunday on your homesteads! 

Monday, June 9, 2008

Updates from the Homestead


This last week flew by.  I kept busy with housekeeping, laundry, updating my website, time on my boards, and time in town.

I was in town twice last week; once with Tobin for our weekly date and later in the week with my girls for grocery shopping.  Before we got going on the shopping we went to a local community college so Emily could take her next CLEP test.  The test was History I and she passed with flying colors!  I was quite pleased.  She is now heading onto History II.  The course had a lot of dates and wars and info to memorize.  She is really putting into practice the study skills she learned when she first got started.  She emailed her coach when she got home to let her know she had passed. We received a call last week from her degree planner to make the specific plans for her accounting degree. She will know next week specifically what classes she will be taking. Right now she is working on all her general classes. I am very proud of all her hard work on this, on top of working full time.   

Leanne leaves in about a week and a half..  yikes! It is coming up too quickly for me!  We need to do a practice packing job to make sure she meets the weight limit and make adjustments if she does not.  Our church informed us that they would be giving Leanne the last part of the needed funds for this missions trip, which was a real blessing to all of us and I am very thankful for this.   

Can’t remember if I shared or not, but my oldest daughter, Carolyn, is having a boy. They will all be here in a few weeks for a visit and I am excited to see them.   

We are still waiting for summer to start here in my little corner of the world.  Today is about 60 and cloudy and they predict wet and that is the way it has been, with the exception of yesterday.  It was actually sunny.  I went out on my deck and just soaked up some of the afternoon sunshine. It was not real warm, but the sun sure felt good.  But other than that little bit of sun, we have not seen much.  I joked with my hubby that we need to take another vacation so we can have some more heat and sun!  LOL..  But I know eventually summer HAS to start..  right?   

Today I have some soap business stuff to do (package and label), laundry (already have one load done), housework and put something simple on for dinner. It will probably be a pot of soup to help warm up the house.  Tobin and I will be heading to town later on today for our weekly date..  love those quiet times with my honey..   

Hope you all have a wonderful Monday!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Black Bean Chicken Chili In Pictures!

While making another yummy bean dish for my family I took step by step pictures for anyone wanting to try this one out! I received several emails from ladies saying they had tried my Italian Pintos and their families enjoyed it, so I hope this will be another good one for anyone who gives it a try!

You can find the recipe for Black Bean Chicken Chili here: 

The first step is to assemble your ingredients

Add your beans to a 6qt pot and add water

And salt…

Bring to a boil. Slowly reduce the heat over 5 minutes and put a lid on the pot and turn the burner to low. Slowly reducing the heat over 5 minutes before putting the lid on will help the pot of beans not to boil over.

Let the beans cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours or longer if you live at higher elevations. Check the beans at the end of the cooking time. When you blow on one, the skin should crack. When taste one they should be nice and soft, not hard in any way.

When the beans have finished cooking it is time to prepare the rest of the ingredients. Chop up your onion

And your chicken. My chicken in the first picture was still frozen; I use boneless, skinless frozen chicken thighs and as you can see, after it has defrosted and was cut up it is not as much as it may have looked like in the first picture.

Now add a little olive oil to a fry pan and cook the onions and the chicken

Add the garlic

When it is done add the cooked chicken and onions to the pot of cooked beans

Add the corn

Add the can of tomatoes. I call for Rotel tomatoes in my recipe but have since worked to use only organic tomato products (trying to avoid GMO products as much as possible). The brand I am using is Muir Glen Organic Roasted Tomatoes with Peppers.

Add the chili powder

The Tabasco

Stir and simmer a bit to blend flavors and serve for dinner!! I added a nice green salad with homemade dressing, tortilla chips and organic salsa. My family really enjoys this meal and I hope you do to!