Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday on the Homestead



Well even though winter is just starting I am so happy to say we are finally thawing out!  The temps went above 32 and now everything is beginning to melt into one big soupy mess..  But hey at least we can get out and about now.  Emily and Leanne dug out her car yesterday..  no easy feat.  Today I think she is dying for a shopping and Starbucks fix with her sisters.  Cabin fever is alive and thriving around here!  LOL..   

Today I will be at home.  I have soap business stuff to catch up on and a house to clean and food to make.  We feasted on Christmas Eve dinner and then leftovers for a few days.  My son was thrilled to enjoy lots of homemade food..  and lots of food is what I made.  But now it is time to make some more.  I did make a pot of navy bean soup yesterday with my leftover ham bone. Today I think spaghetti or lasagna will be on the menu too.   

I typically take down my tree the day after Christmas but my son had two requests before he came home.. one was pizza (did that for him the first night he got here) and the other was a Christmas tree..  so for him I will leave it up a few more days.  But by Monday it has got to go..  I start feeling a real need about now to get my life reorganized and ready for the new year.  

I am currently contemplating my new year goals..  I am not a big fan of resolutions instead I make goals.  So I will be praying and working towards some new personal goals, business goals, website goals, and more.  So what do you typically do..  goals or resolutions?   

Well that is all from the homestead today..  Keep warm as we head into 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Updates from the Homestead

Well the last snow pictures I showed you were just the beginning of this storm!  LOL..  well maybe not really..  but pretty close! We got a break from the snow for a few hours but it is back again.  I will share some updated pics in this post. 

My hubby was finally able to come home on Monday night!  Yea!!  I kept watching the DOT website waiting to see when the highway would be open and finally about 4:30pm Jacob refreshed the webpage and came to me saying..  Mom I think it’s open now.  So I checked and sure enough.  I called Tobin’s cell and told him the good news and he was so happy.   He had worked Saturday night as usual, slept at work in a chair for a few hours and worked another shift on Sunday plus overtime.  By Monday morning the highway was still closed. His company paid for a hotel room for him so he could get some sleep which was a real blessing. But by Monday evening things were open again and he could come home. 

On Tuesday he cleared the driveway and by afternoon we were able to get to town and pick up groceries and then we were going to pick up my son.  But his plane had mechanical difficulties and was delayed 4 hours.  So we headed home, unpacked groceries and went back to town to pick him up at midnight.  We were so thrilled to see him!!  It has been a year and half since he has been home.  He arrived home to see all the yellow balloons greeting him from the fence posts and tied to trees lining the driveway and the back porch.  We had pizza and talked till nearly 3am..  needless to say we all slept in this morning!   

We also woke up to MORE snow and it has been snowing ever since.  Tobin redid the driveway and then dug our neighbor out of his drive way too.  Tobin says if it does not stop snowing pretty soon there will be no place to put all this snow after cleans up!   

Well now for pics..  remember the picnic table?  Well if you look carefully you may just be able to see it now..   that is my deck almost completely full of snow..

Here are a few more shots from around my property.. 

Part of the driveway with the snow walls on each side from the snow removed…

My front yard…

Updated pic of Emily’s car… 

And some pretty pics of our property that Emily took this morning…


Have a very Merry Christmas Everyone! 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow Storm

We have been hit by a big snow storm.  We have spent the last couple of days dealing with lots of snow fall and blizzard like conditions.  So far thankfully we have not lost power.  To give you and idea of how much snow has fallen here is a picture I took last week that showed the dusting of snow we got on our picnic table..

And here is what it looks like today:

Tobin had to get out his tractor on Saturday to clear the driveway so he could get out of the drive way to make it to work Saturday night.

He put chains on the car and left early to make the drive.  We live in an area that can be somewhat treacherous with the winter weather.  The interstate on the other side of the Columbia River had already been closed down by the time he left.  A drive that normally takes him about 40 minutes took him 2 hours with blizzard like conditions and his wipers freezing at time. Shortly after he left for work the state closed our highway down to semi-trucks and after talking with Tobin about his drive into work I would not want to be on that road in a car either! 

With more snow forecasted and highway’s being closed down we both pretty well knew that after getting to work he probably would come home till things settled down.  This morning we woke to even more snow.  Here was what it looked like out my basement door when I opened it up…

Those are steps that lead up and out of the basement and into our woodshed!  When Jacob got up he shoveled it all and a path to the wood shed so we could make sure we could get wood in.  Here is what it looked like after he shoveled…

Tobin chose not to come home which is a good thing.  No point taking on more risk than he has to.  He was also the only mechanic that made it in for the night shift and the day shift!  So it was a good thing he was there.  He did mange to get some sleep and went to a nearby restaurant to eat and give me a call.  So now the real question we both have..  will he be able to get home tomorrow?  The snow is still falling and 1/4 an inch of freezing rain is expected in the city.  

Here are a few more pics of our place in the snow.  The pond has completely frozen over…

This is looking from our wood shed into the back yard..

That is the back tail light of Emily’s car

Anyway in the mean time we are dealing with the elements on the homestead, keeping the fire going and the wood supply coming in, checking on goats and changing their water as it freezes through the day, and praying we don’t loose power.  But even if we do we will do fine, I am sure.  I am prepared with flashlights, LED lights, propane stove, and a battery and inverter to help run a few things.

This afternoon Emily and Leanne made cookies and then made a nice pot of tea.  We pulled out the book Eight Cousins (Louisa May Alcott) and the four of us began reading, sipping tea and enjoying a few cookies.  It has been a nice way to spend the afternoon.   

Well that is all from my cold and snowy homestead!! Hope you are keeping warm and safe during these winter storms..  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wednesday on the Homestead

I played around with the idea of making lasagna for dinner.  It is one of Tobin’s most favorite dinners and he has been working 6 to 7 days a week lately so I figured he would enjoy it.  But then I looked in my fridge and saw leftover pot roast and leftover cranberry chicken and leftover rice..  so the lasagna will wait until tomorrow night (and Tobin will appreciate it then too!  ) and tonight will be stir fry with my leftovers.  As I type right now I have 6 loaves of bread rising in my oven and Isaac is mopping the kitchen floor.  When he is done I will start working on my dinner preps.  

The weather is crisp and cold out!  Last night was in the teens and with the wind chill it was down in the single digits..  pretty cold for these parts.   The snow that fell never amounted to much on Sunday and yesterday the sun came out in time for me to snap these pictures…


Tomorrow they are predicting more snow.  So Emily and Leanne headed into town this morning to do some Christmas shopping.  Emily has a couple weeks off from her nanny job and is taking a break from studying.  Her next test to study for is pre-calculus and she is not ready to tackle that one until after the holidays.  I posted a congrats to Emily blog post the other day for finishing her first and second year of college in less than 8 months and someone asked me what degree she earned.  She has not earned her degree yet, she has finished to the half way point now and is working towards a bachelors degree in accounting.  She should be done sometime next fall if she stays on track.   

As soon as my son has had time to recover I am looking forward to asking what homemade food he would like to eat when he gets home..  anything mom makes he might be craving? I will find out!  And Emily wants to ask what kind of homemade goodies he wants so she and her sisters can do some baking for him!  Looks like he will be getting lots of special attention while he is home.   

Now it looks like my clean kitchen floor is about dry so I am off to make dinner and finish baking my bread.  Have a great evening on your homesteads! 

He is back in the USA!!!



Woo Hoo.. my US Army soldier son Richard Miller is now officially back in the USA. He landed in Ft.Bragg on Sunday afternoon after a 17 hour flight. His 15 month deployment in Iraq is done!


He will be home to us in a week! 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Updates from the Homestead


Well “old man winter” is here.. the temp is 25 and we are currently having the first snow of the year. So far it’s just a dusting which I am happy about..  but since it is still falling and the weather man is predicting more we will see how it all ends.  Right now I have a fire going and the house is toasty and I suspect I will be keeping that going all day and through the night. Jacob brought in LOTS of wood (guess he deiced to make sure I was very well stocked.. no heading out into the snow and cold at 4am for him! )




We finally got our Christmas tree up and the house decorated! Yea! It looks so festive in here now. Yesterday I got my daughter’s Christmas package all wrapped and packed up so tomorrow when Tobin and I head into town for our date night we will drop it off at the post office. I have all my Christmas shopping done (I admit that I only went out once to shop.. all the rest was done online.. I just love the UPS man this time of year! LOL) and I am down to 2 sewing projects left to complete and then gifts to wrap and I am done!  Now it is time to move onto my Christmas menu. 




No church for us this morning due to the snow and slick roads.. so we have a day to relax, listen to Christmas music and maybe do a bit more baking.   Emily and Leanne were adventurous last night and made peppermint patties.. yum.. hope they freeze all right because otherwise they will be gone before we know it! LOL.. so far we have made great progress in getting our goodies in the freezer. Here is a recipe similar to the one she used:  



I made some snickers bar fudge the other day and it turned out delicious! I now want to make some butterfinger fudge and milky way fudge. I got the idea from a lady on my message board. You use chopped up candy bars in place of the chocolate chips. It works great! I used my scale to measure out the candy bars to make sure they equaled the right amount. You may be able to just chop up the bars and sub 2 cups of chopped bars.. I did not measure it out after I weighed it to see if it was about the same. 


Marshmallow Fudge aka.. Candy Bar Fudge

4 Cups mini marshmallows

2/3 cup milk (I used half n half but evaporated milk would work and regular milk would probably work too)

1/4 cup butter

1-1/2 cups sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

2 cups (12 oz.) chocolate semi-sweet morsels – I used chopped up candy bars in place of the chips as stated above

1 tsp. vanilla 


Combine marshmallows, milk, butter, sugar and salt in a large cooking pot. While stirring bring to a full boil. Reduce heat and continue stirring and boil for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add vanilla add chocolate chips or candy bar pieces (which ever you are using). Stir very well until chips or candy bar pieces are melted. Pour into a 9x9 pan that has been buttered. Chill.


I am giving this fudge away as gifts. My plan was to cut the fudge up into squares and put them in those gift tins that you can purchase just about anywhere. Then Emily had a great idea last night. She suggested lining the gift tins with saran wrap and just pouring the fudge into these instead of the pan. How easy is that!  Then we both had the idea that you could probably do two layers.. just put wax paper and maybe another layer of saran wrap and pour the second batch on top.. that way the recipients has more than one type of fudge to enjoy. 



Today’s winter menu will be food that warms and nourishes! I will be making a pot of soup of some type and probably dinner rolls and serving this with my winter salad. I call it my winter salad because fresh veggies get so expensive this time of year and I typically try and avoid the pricier ones.. so my winter salads consist of romain lettuce, spicnach, chopped red cabbage and grated carrots. The salad keeps well in the fridge for 2 or 3 days so we make up a big batch of it and a double or quadruple batch of homemade ranch dressing and we are set. 


The goats need extra attention now too.  The temps will be dropping down into the teens and that means checking on water supply regularly to make sure it is not frozen or replace it if it is. I am also giving them a little extra grain to help keep them warm. So Jacob will be in charge of that job and I will make a pot of hot chocolate for everyone this afternoon who has to go out and brave the elements.. they will have something to look forward to when they come in! 


Stay warm & dry this Sunday on the homestead.. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yea for Emily!!


She did it! She passed her Biology CLEP test on Wednesday and now has officially completed two years of college! She is on track and so excited. She joined College Plus! in April, took her first test in May and is now done with two years worth of college credits by December!  Way to go Emily!! We are extremely proud of her . Once again I just have to say how satisfied we are with College Plus! and I recommend them to anyone looking for a cost and time effective way to earn a degree… all from home. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday Happenings on my Homestead


Today’s Menu




Apple slices

Whole wheat toast and homemade peach jam



Split pea soup (leftovers)

Corn potato chowder (leftovers)

Peanut butter toast (if not enough leftovers to go around)

Apple slices



Chili bean soup over brown rice

Green salad

Dinner rolls



Baking/cooking/preparations in the kitchen to do today:

Make pumpkin muffins – (now they will be leftover oatmeal muffins instead.. we had a couple cups of oatmeal left from breakfast)

Make double batch of homemade ranch dressing

Make chili bean soup this afternoon


~Soak brown rice (done)

~cook 3 cups red beans (cooking right now)

~cook 1 pound hamburger with onions, divide and use ½ for tonight’s chili and put other half in the freezer for another meal


The rest of my to-do list:

Package recent orders from my country store and get them in the mailbox

Bag and label laundry soap

Finish grocery list for tomorrows shopping

Work on Christmas gifts

Wash kitchen floor by hand (I call it my super duper clean the floor job) and then do it again with Mop&Glo.

Oversee kids as they do the daily chore list (done)

School with kids (not much hands on here for me.. they all know what they need to do) (currently being done)



That’s what my Tuesday on my homestead is shaping up to be! 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday on the Homestead


Today I have more sewing on my list. I spent my weekend sewing Christmas gifts and made great progress.  So today I hope to make even more! Leanne and Sierra plan to bake cookies this afternoon when they finish chores and school. The two of them made a bunch of cookies over the weekend and actually got them into the freezer before they were eaten up! LOL… Leanne made gingerbread men (and ladies ). Isaac helped her cut those out. Then she made strawberry bar cookies and finally topped the afternoon off by making peanut butter kiss cookies (the one where you put a Hershey kiss in the center of each cookie). Yesterday Sierra made sugar cookies. Today they want to make more sugar cookies and decorate them and Leanne wants to make Russian Tea Cakes. I need to make fudge this week and try and get that in the freezer and then we may just be done with our Christmas cookie baking. 


I have been working hard to really cut the grocery budget lately. I want to sit down and work on the numbers.. the cost of my meals to see how much I am saving. We are eating a lot more beans and brown rice lately and no one is complaining . In the afternoon I cooked up a big pot of black beans to use in making cuban black bean patties (the recipe is in my bean cooking ebook). Then I took some boneless chicken thighs out of the freezer and let them defrost. I also had some leftover brown rice that I had frozen last week and I defrosted that too. Near dinner time I cut up the chicken thighs into bite sized pieces and sautéed that up some onions and peppers. I added about 1t cumin, garlic and salt and pepper and then added the cooked brown rice to this. When the beans were done cooking I mixed up a double batch of the bean patties. It made about 30 patties. I served the chicken rice, Cuban bean patties and a green salad (with homemade ranch dressing) for dinner. Everyone loved it and I have leftover bean patties that I will freeze unless the kids eat them up for lunch this afternoon.  I am mentally calculating the cost of this meal and figure it could not have had more than about $5 worth of ingredients.. but I really need to do the math (I am one of those people who need to know the actual numbers! LOL).. In any case it fed the 7 of us and there are still a few leftovers for lunch. 


Other bean meals I made this last week were bean soups. I made some spicy beef and beans over rice, split pea soup (I served grilled cheese sandwiches with this) and yummy pinto beans and with each of these meals we had leftovers either for the next meal or for lunch the next day or both. The only non bean meal I had was spaghetti on Friday night. Today I am thinking of making some navy bean soup as I have about a 1/2 package of bacon I need to use up and maybe if I can find room in the kitchen (with the girls baking cookies) I will make some dinner rolls to go with the soup. If I find the time to do some calculations on these meals I will and post my results. 


The weather has been wet, wet and now snow is in the forecast for next week.. I am so NOT looking forward to that. It is always pretty to look at but yucky to deal with. My biggest concern will be my daughter Emily who will have to do some driving in it. I think dad (who grew up in the Midwest and has no problems with the snow) will need to give her a few driving in the snow lesson!


Speaking of daughters driving… Leanne got her drivers permit and she has already been out with dad. He gets the kids going and then I take over with giving them the necessary hours to get their license.  So a few more hours with dad and then it will be my turn…


Learning Lessons in Responsibility.… well my son Jacob has the responsibility to bring in the firewood each night. I get up much earlier than the rest of the household and get the fire going to warm the house by the time the kids are up and Tobin is home from work. I was constantly nagging him each evening to bring in the wood. I finally decided that a 14 nearly 15 year old boy should not be nagged and he should have NO problem remembering such a repetitive responsibility on his own. So I told him one day that I was not going to remind him any more to bring in the wood. I expected to see the wood brought in and ready for the morning fire each day. If I went to make the morning fire (which I do at about 4am) and there was no wood I would wake him up at 4am to get the wood for me. Now one thing to keep in mind is that he is a night owl and hates getting up in the morning so having to get up at 4am and hike outside to the wood shelter, to him is like torture! LOL.. so the mere threat of this worked for about a week and a half and then one morning I got up and there was no wood.. so true to my word I got him up at 4am and he had to bring in the wood.  He did NOT appreciate this (which is the idea here.. LOL).. and after that there was wood ready for the morning fire for the next couple of weeks.. and guess what, I went to make the fire this morning and no wood! LOL.. So again.. true to my word, I got him up and he grumbled his way out to the wood shelter and brought the wood in.. couldn’t grumble too much because he knew it was his own fault.. so now my question is, how long will this last? Haa.. haaa.. and more importantly how many times will this have to happen before he firmly makes it a habit to bring in the wood each night. In any case I am willing to just sit back and smile and watch the learning process. And the best part to me is that I no longer nag him about (I am not a nagging type person so I detest it when it feels like I am doing just that). I will keep you posted on this little “training youth in responsibility” exercise!


That is all from my homestead this morning.. time to get the sewing machine out!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Make Your Own Horehound Cough Drops

The cold and flu season is here and we have had a cold running its course through our home lately.  A few of us were coughing and congested so this morning I decided to make up a batch of horehound cough drops.  I took pictures along the way.... 

To make these cough drops you will need the bulk herb, horehound, honey and a little cream of tartar. I bought my horehound from Mountain Rose Herbs .  You can find my recipe on this page:

Begin by making a strong tea out of the herbs and water. Use ¾ to 1 cup of dried horehound for each cup of water. In the batch you see here I used 4 cups of dried herbs and 4 cups of water.

Put the herbs and water in a stock pot ..



Bring to a boil and let boil for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for about ½ hour.

Now it is time to strain the herbs. I use a juice pitcher, cheese cloth and clothes pins.


I pin the cheese cloth onto the juice pitcher leaving space to catch the herbs and the tea drains into the pitcher.

When I was done I had a little over 2 cups of tea.

I put this into my pan

Along with 3 cups of honey. You will need to 1 ½ cups of honey for each cup of tea.

Add ¼ teaspoon cream of tarter for each cup of tea…

Bring this to a boil. You will need a candy thermometer and let the mixture boil until it reaches 300 degrees.

While this is boiling spray a large pan with sides on it like a jelly roll pan, with non stick spray or you can use butter too.

When your tea/honey mixture has reached 300 degrees (this may take a few minutes to get there), pour into prepared pan…

Spread out and let cool slightly

As soon as it has cooled but is not hard yet you can score it with a knife. This will make it easier to break into pieces.

When it has completely cooled, break into pieces.

Use when you have a tickly throat, sore throat, congestion, cough and related symptoms of the cold and flu season.